Is it really almost the end of the NFL season? Better get in my football takes before the calendar turns to February.
Here at the Chin Music Pod, and especially in this column, I welcome debate. I encourage it. Whether that’s in the comment section, on Twitter, or in the depths of Reddit, I like seeing discussion. Often times the discussion turns into how I’m biased in one form or another, or how stupid I can be with one of my hot takes. So be it. But, if it makes you think, I’m happy with that.
This week, I’m diving into one of my least favorite players in the NBA, my favorite NHL team, some more hockey and two football takes, including one on the demise of America’s team. Don’t forget to enjoy (or loathe) last week’s column before digging in here. And away we go.
1. Draymond Green went up a peg in my book last night
It’s pretty evident that basketball isn’t my thing. Never has been, probably never will be. But you’re damn right I was tuned into Cleveland-Golden State last night. And despite the Warriors running the Cavs out of the building, the biggest storyline from the game didn’t involve the final score. It involved two of my most hated NBA players: Draymond Green and LeBron James. I’ve frequently wrote about the King and his antics in this column. I’ve done the same with Green and his nut-kicking ways. And yet, here we are again.
After last night’s Oscar-worthy performance from James, I’m willing to take a step back from my vitriol directed at Green. The shoulder bump heard round the world was nothing more than that, a shoulder bump. Sure, Green had plenty of momentum headed straight for LeBron, but the sell-job that James put on was nothing short of fantastic.
What was that? Did I hear a sniper rifle from the rafters of Oracle Arena? Oh wait, no I didn’t. James went down with such splendor, that it was overlooked by me at first how he managed to brace his fall with his arm. It’s almost like he had time to react to the bump and positioned himself on the floor as to not seriously get hurt, and also play it up for the officials and audience that he was punched in the jaw.
I don’t want this going into a debate about the toughness of athletes and all that garbage, but I do want to focus on how Green can still be a hated player, but he deserves some credit for calling out LeBron’s bullshit.
Green put James on the floor, sold the flop to his bench and a national audience and also managed to stop a fast break with the best player on the planet. Check, check and check. A play like that happens in every basketball game around the world. But when you have James getting hit by a man weighing roughly 50 pounds less, you never expect to see the bigger guy go flying like he slipped on a banana peel. And yet, here we are.
The bump was nowhere near the asshole-type move of Green kicking opponents straight in the balls. It was a basketball play, and one that James exposed himself once again as one of the softest superstars of all time.
2. They may be young and up and coming, but a home playoff loss is like shining the Dallas Cowboys turd
Am I being a little harsh and brash with this? Sure. But last I checked, a top seed losing in the playoffs to a 5-seed is usually clarified as an upset, a choke, a disappointment or something else along those lines. That’s why I don’t understand the Dallas Cowboys largely getting a free pass after their gut-wrenching loss in the NFC Divisional Round on Sunday.
All I’ve heard, read and seen is about how Dallas played a strong game, how the future is bright and how nobody is stopping Aaron Rodgers. Well excuse me for pissing in the punch bowl, but weren’t the Dallas Cowboys the number one seed and favored to go to the Super Bowl for the NFC? That’s what they were, and hot quarterback or not, the Cowboys wilted, again, on the biggest stage.
Dak Prescott struggled in the first half, and needed a hell of a comeback just to get Dallas back to within striking distance. Ezekiel Elliott had himself a day and played a major role in getting the Cowboys to tie the game in the fourth quarter, but it was all for not.
Prescott spiking the ball inside FG territory with a timeout in his pocket was a killer. Jason Garrett not explaining to his young quarterback the proper protocol for that situation is a perfect example of his ineptitude as coach. And, when all of that was followed up by Rodgers scrambling outside the pocket – pretty much the first thing you can’t allow him to do in any game – to find a receiver inside Dallas territory for the winning FG attempt, you end up with a choking of pretty epic proportions.
The future may be bright in Big D, but it’s still a time where the Cowboys made too many mental mistakes, at home, to screw up a major opportunity for such a promising team.
3. The Pittsburgh-Washington throwback game was a wake-up call for the NHL
It’s not often that an NHL game leads off SportsCenter. In fact, I would call it pretty rare. And yet, on both Monday night and Tuesday morning the 8-7 overtime win by the Pittsburgh Penguins over the Washington Capitals received top billing. What. A. Fucking. Hockey. Game.
That contest had everything (minus goaltending). Superstars playing at elite levels. Bone-crunching hits. Top-flight speed. Edge-of-your-seat passes and shots. Oh, and 15 goals in just under 65 minutes.
I’m not an advocate for games of this type every night, but some more scoring in the NHL would do wonders for the sport. I don’t want to downplay this as a perfect storm of everything that led to a 15-goal outburst, but I’m just hoping that two highly-talented offensive teams can generate this type of play on a somewhat regular basis.
As a hockey lifer, I’m the type of person that finds as much enjoyment in a 2-1 game as an 8-7 game. But I also recognize that I’m in the vast majority there and the average sports fan wants to see more scoring. I don’t have a solution to the scoring issues in the league – crease size, goaltender equipment, net expansions, etc – but I do understand that a game like Monday night was impressive on all levels.
Hell, the winning goaltender – Brendan’s cousin, Matt Murray – gave up 7 goals. That’s a buttload of rubber in the net. But guess what, he still got the W. It’s important to recognize that a win is a win, and the entertainment value in that game won’t probably be matched by any other regular season games all year. The NHL should take note of the exposure that game received, and make some strides to create goal-scoring opportunities to expand the game past the current fanbase.
4. The NFL in Los Angeles, so hot right now (except for the people who live there)
Should I alert folks from LA that they have a football team? Because it seemed like by the end of the season that Los Angeles checked out on the Rams pretty damn quickly. And now that the Chargers are also making the trip to the City of Angels, the “football-starved” market, where TV ratings actually went fucking down this year, will play host to 2 NFL teams!
Holy shit what a nightmare this is going to be.
The idea of the Los Angeles Chargers, with a shitty logo and all, will play in a soccer-specific stadium for the next two years is downright comical. I guess when the alternative is playing in a half-empty stadium like the Rams, a sellout seems like a good idea?
And how about the logo dilemma. Talk about lazy and unattractive. When other professional teams are ripping on you, and your “hometown” fans are booing the logo and a player on the team, you might have a fucking problem. Dean Spanos saw that San Diego (rightfully so) wasn’t going to fork over boatloads of money to pay for a new stadium. The NFL, full with money, decided that they didn’t want to help pay for a stadium since losing revenue would be a bad thing (even though they could print it with the Chargers moving into a new abode). And instead, we have the Chargers packing up shop and moving to LA to be a second tenant in a new stadium, with a fanbase that couldn’t give a shit.
We’ve seen some pretty dumb things from the NFL PR side over the past couple of years, but this one might take the cake.
5. It’s time for the Bruins to figure their shit out
It’s been a little while since I’ve ripped on/questioned my favorite NHL franchise. But, now that I’ve seen Brendan’s team pull the plug and fire their coach, it turns my attention to the Boston Bruins. Enough with this Jekyll and Hyde shit. The Bruins have no direction, no urgency and honestly no clue what to make of their season.
I’ve been a staunch supporter of Claude Julien getting fired since last offseason. Missing the playoffs in back-to-back years is unacceptable, especially considering the talent that’s still left on this team, even after Peter Chiarelli did his best to gut the franchise of it. But now, here we are with the Bruins in the ultimate juxtaposition. They’re currently, and I stress the timing of that word, in the playoff picture. They’re actually in second play in the Atlantic Division, despite their scoring woes.
But, here comes that word again. Currently, teams trailing the Bruins, including the Senators, Maple Leafs, Lighting and Panthers, all have several games in hand on Boston. Meaning that if you’re looking into the future, the Bruins are technically out of the playoff structure if these teams play roughly .500 hockey when they make up the games in hand. And that is where I have an issue.
The Bruins aren’t completely rebuilding. They’re trying to stay competitive enough to make the playoffs. As a fan, I get that. But what is with this shit and playing such inconsistent hockey only to have the carpet ripped out from underneath them again at season’s end. I would say missing the playoffs isn’t even a danger anymore, it’s a strong possibility.
I’m not saying Claude needs to be fired. I would like to see that, but I understand why you don’t make that move. But something needs to be done. A trade, a firing, something else. This back-and-forth struggle is a disaster. Pick a direction and stick with it. No more half-ass stuff anymore. This type of hockey is unsustainable and leading to a disaster. Try to get in front of it and send a message to your team and fanbase with a specific direction where you’re headed and go from there.
That’ll do it for me. I may not be the resident stathead or much of a numbers guy, but I do want to say I’m still the leading Chin Music contributor in our NFL playoff picks, leading the way at 7-1. I’ll be back next week with some more hot takes for your Wednesday reading enjoyment. Follow Tim on Twitter@culvey13 and Brendan @murraysporttalk for more.