The Book of Mike

"This is no junior college. This is the notorious University of Miami.” -- Marlins starter Dontrelle Willis, after getting knocked around for six runs in 2 1/3 innings by the Canes.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Thoughts Heading Into the Weekend

With the White Sox having tanked and the Marlins having fallen out of the race, my sporting attention has nearly fully turned to football at this point. Here are some thoughts heading into the weekend:

Hurricanes / College Football

I can't remember the last time the media was so high on the Canes. It likely was in 2002 or 2003 when the Canes were still dominant. But even then it felt like the media was more likely to find fault with the Canes than they are now. That makes me uneasy.

Yes, the Canes have done a lot well in their first two games. They've been impressive. But, as I've said before, Miami could have easily lost the opener to Florida State. And last week against Georgia Tech, the 'Canes didn't display a killer instinct late in the game. While Georgia Tech didn't do anything to put themselves back into the game, the Canes left the door open for the Yellow Jackets to do so. Can the Canes get away with that again this weekend? As a Miami fan, I hope we don't have to find out. Hopefully Mark Whipple and Jacory Harris have found some holes in Virginia Tech's offense to exploit.

Other thoughts:

  • Florida faces a pedestrian Kentucky team. The Gators need to dominate or doubts will start to surface about their alleged dominance. Yes, they are the defending national champions. But that was last season.
  • Notre Dame suffered a key injury to a star wide receiver last week and Jimmy Clausen is banged up heading into Saturday night's showdown with Purdue. But to re-insert themselves into the BCS discussion, ND needs to dominate Purdue. While Purdue is surely more talented than they displayed last week against Northern Illinois, this weekend's game is one that Notre Dame needs to dominate.
  • How will USC fare this weekend? They'll surely win. Washington State is simply inferior. But will the Trojans dominate? They're favored by 40+ points. Sure, the Trojans beat Wazoo by more than 40 last year. But that was last year. Mark Sanchez is gone. And 40 points is more than USC has scored in the past two games combined.

Cardinals / NFL

I'm uncharacteristically optimistic about the Cardinals chances this weekend in prime time against the Colts. It's odd to see the Cards listed as favorites in this game, even if it is a Cardinals home game. The Colts are the Colts. Even without Tony Dungy, Marvin Harrison, and (for the time being) Bob Sanders, the Colts are a quality football team that seemingly wins 12 games every year.

The Cardinals won 12 games once... sort of. Last season they won 9 games in the regular season and three in the playoffs. That's 12 in one season (over parts of two calendar years). They've never won 12 regular season games in a single season. Heck, there have been stretches of two and even three seasons when the Cardinals didn't win 12 games.

Yet I feel confident that the Cardinals will win on Sunday night. Yes, I know they're facing a defense that hardly ever gives up a passing touchdown, but that is susceptible to a rushing attack. And yes, I know that's nearly the opposite of what fits best for the Cardinals offense. This, my friends, is the life as a Cardinals fan. Delusion is the only way to get yourself through.

Other thoughts:

  • I'm excited about Mike Vick's debut for the Eagles this weekend. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a Vick supporter (but I do believe he's entitled to have a job -- even a high paying one like he has). That the Eagles gave Vick a home gives me all the more reason to dislike the team. So that's great. And don't buy the talk that Andy Reid doesn't know what he's going to do with Vick this weekend. That's an outright lie. He knows. Vick will play. The real storyline here is how he's treated by the fans. By the end of the season I think we'll come to know that fans in Philly cheer Michael Vick, boo Santa Claus, boo Mike Schmidt, and jeered Michael Irvin as he was carted off the field on a stretcher. Stay classy, Philadelphia!
  • Maybe it's just wishful thinking, but I hope the Falcons go into Foxborough and beat the Patriots. While I see the Falcons as having a legitimate shot to win the game, we all have to be mindful of my admission of delusion above.
  • I wouldn't put money on them (not that I bet anyway), but I like the Bengals chances against the Steelers this weekend. Maybe I watched too much of "Hard Knocks" and have grown somewhat attached to Marvin Lewis's team. But I like the Bengals. They're 1-1 and realistically could be 2-0 at this point. Their opponent, the defending Super Bowl champion Steelers, could easily be 0-2 at this point (fortunately for them, they are 1-1). Sunday's game is a big one for the Bengals. Win and have hope; lose and you're the Bengals.
  • Sticking with the Bengals - Steelers, I heard this week that Big Ben has a .750+ winning percentage in 1 PM and primetime games, but that he's barely above .500 in 4:15 kickoffs. Sunday's game has a 4:15 start time. Is there something to this disparity in winning percentage or is Big Ben a victim of a small sample size? I have no idea. But if the Steelers lose on Sunday, maybe there's something to Big Ben and the start time.
  • The Cowboys will be on Monday Night Football. Rather, the Cowboys' new stadium will be the star of MNF. Hopefully the guys on the booth can keep from drooling for three hours and can maintain focus on the game on the field. Monday night will officially be the first time that we all miss Kornheiser in the booth. He would surely have fun roasting Jerry Jones and the cost and flaws of the new stadium. Will every Cowboys game be featured in primetime this year?

Here's a quick baseball thought: there's really only (potentially) one playoff spot up for grabs and that's in the AL Central. The Twins are still close enough to be more than just mathematically in the race. Since there aren't other races, some folks are surely hoping for drama and a photo finish. If you're one of those people, read this article. Then you'll hope for the Tigers to pull away and lock up a playoff spot.

Have a great weekend!


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