The blog-cation has ended. Time for some scorching hot takes to welcome me back to the Chin Music Podcast.
It’s been a while. So sorry to keep the haters waiting. Luckily I’m back with a vengeance. Here’s a 5-spot of takes to welcome me and you back to this fantastic feature. Don’t forget to check out the last edition before jumping into this one.
1. Gonzaga still deserves a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament
Brendan and I hit on this a couple podcasts ago, as we were both firmly on the Gonzaga bandwagon. That was before the Bulldogs dropped a conference game against BYU in the regular season. But still, even with one loss in the season, I still believe that Gonzaga is deserving of a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.
The argument against the strength of schedule and a weak conference be damned, winning all but one game during the season is no small feat. Gonzaga looked pretty damn impressive in their conference tournament, avenging that loss and securing a one-loss regular season. Every other team in D1 has lost. The snubbing of mid-major teams from the selection committee needs to end. Any team that enters the NCAA tournament with a 1 in the loss column should be almost an automatic top seed in March Madness.
For a program with a reputation of competing well against major teams, the time for a top seed has come. Even if the selection committee “penalizes” Gonzaga with a top seed and a potential second-round matchup against a top team, that’s fine. But to leave out the team with the best record in college basketball because of a mid-major conference – count me out.
Editor’s note: You can hear more on Gonzaga in Tim and I’s conversation with recurring guest Steve Lavin on this week’s Chin Music Podcast, but I couldn’t be more on the Gonzaga bandwagon. I said it last week, but Gonzaga is exactly what college basketball needs, this year especially, but every year—a talented team we can all get behind. While the royalty of Duke, North Carolina, Villanova, Kansas and the other blue bloods of college basketball have reigned this year, Gonzaga is the reason we watch college basketball,, to see a team with a history of tournament troubles break through for their “one shining moment.” Give the Bulldogs a #1 seed, so they have the best path possible to do just that. Oh yeah, and because they’ve earned it, too.
2. David Price just needs to shut up
So Boston fans had a major scare with David Price last week. An elbow injury that required second opinions from Dr. James Andrews and other arms specialists raised a bunch of red flags regarding Price’s health entering this year. While everything appears alright for the moment, needing only rest for the next 7-10 days, Price’s recent comments have driven me up a wall.
Price is famous for interacting with
fans trolls on Twitter. He loves going back and forth with his haters. He’s called out fan bases and proven time and time again how much he sucks in the playoffs. But yet, he’s quick to point out his regular season success and playoff wins (when he hasn’t started). So when things are good, he’s happy. When things aren’t, he lashes out.
Responding to questions about his perception in Boston about him being viewed “only as a pitcher” make me irrationally angry. Yes, David, you’re absolutely right. You don’t get paid as an accountant. You aren’t working the 9-5 shift. I view you as a pitcher. So go out and act like one. There’s a reason why I root for athletes who have a less-than-stellar reputation. That’s because they perform.
If Price was good at his job, he could say whatever he wants. But if he continues to perform well below his contract and mouths off about how he’s treated unfairly, he’ll wear out his welcome in Boston faster than he already has.
Editor’s note: Something tells me Tim is not going to get his wish. Price was featured as the star of a lengthy Boston Globe profile just this week, all about his ride to work. Here’s the conundrum for Red Sox fans like Tim—if the Sox are going to win a title this year, or in the immediate future, Price is almost certainly going to have to be one of the heroes of the charge, despite the fact that many fans neither trust or want him to win it all, I suspect.
3. I hate the 1-3-1 from the Ottawa Senators
Maybe this is my bitching about the Bruins lifeless effort on Monday night in a kick-in-the-dick loss to the Ottawa Senators. That’s quite realistic. But, I REALLY hate the 1-3-1 defensive scheme that Guy Boucher runs. It’s even worse than the neutral zone trap that the New Jersey Devils ran in the mid-90s.
Boucher barely sends a forechecker and sits three guys in the neutral zone while opposing teams get bottled up trying to break out the puck. The games have no flow as Ottawa sits back and dumps the puck back in and resets. A transition game is virtually nonexistent, as the Senators wait until it gets into the defensive end and try to turn things around based on their dumb defensive scheme.
A couple of years ago, when Boucher was the coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning, an opposing team literally sat in the defensive zone and waited. And waited, and waited. It took about 90 seconds for the referees to blow the whistle and restart the game. It got Tampa to the Eastern Conference Final in 2011, but no further. When the Lightning fired Boucher, his system got stale. It’s working right now in Ottawa, but the brand of hockey is terrible.
The league wants to promote goal scoring. Ottawa is in the bottom half of the league in that category. Their system plays into the concept of low-scoring and neutral zone games. No thank you on that.
Editor’s note: You play to win the game. Increasing entertainment and scoring is the league’s job, not any specific team’s. If we want more scoring, the answer is not asking teams to play what they view as an inferior style of hockey—particularly when it’s a perfectly legal system and one that would be impossible and crazy to prohibit. If we want more scoring (and I do, trust me I do) then the league needs to make rule changes that will have tangible, consistent effects on 5 on 5 scoring, and that means either restricting pads in a much ore serious fashion than they have up to this point, or increasing the nets (the latter is a much more efficient and effective solution.) But if the rules stand as they are, teams would be crazy not to try to win games while minimizing scoring, like the Senators and so many before them have done.
4. Russell Westbrook is still the MVP of the NBA
Sure, Kawhi Leonard and James Harden are making a hell of a push, but unless somebody goes on a historic run, Russell Westbrook needs to be the NBA MVP this season. What he’s done for the Oklahoma City Thunder is nothing short of incredible.
After losing Kevin Durant to free agency, the Thunder weren’t looking too good. Instead, Russ has reeled off a historic season and kept OKC in playoff contention. With every triple-double that Westbrook adds, he continues to separate himself from the conversation.
Coupled with the fact that Westbrook is doing multiple things well every game, and has a weaker supporting cast than the other two contenders, make him the MVP. Unless he goes ice cold to end the season, he should be bringing home the hardware come season’s end.
Editor’s note: So Tim thinks that Mike Trout was undeserving of the MVP, due to the inferior nature of his team, but that Russell Westbrook is deserving of it, due to the inferior nature of his team…..what? There’s no doubt that what Russell is doing is impressive, and I usually think that individual awards should be divorced from team success. But in a sport so readily dominated by one athlete, James Harden, who is taking his play and that of his team to new heights, is the one standing above the rest this year.
5. I’m stunned teams are offering the farm for Jimmy Garoppolo
I’m taking my Patriots blinders off here because that’s why I’m making this opinion. Sure, New England will benefit greatly with either Garoppolo’s succession of Tom Brady, or a trade that brings a king’s ransom. But put that aside.
I can’t believe teams without a quarterback aren’t lining up to acquire Garoppolo. His inexpensive cap hit this season is an intriguing appeal, and the ability to sign him to a long-term extension or franchise him moving forward makes Garoppolo a short and long term option. NFL teams have some real-life game tape on him from the beginning of last preseason. That trumps anything that comes out of college. He’s a known commodity that has proven, albeit briefly, that he can perform at the highest level.
Picking a QB is a lottery ticket – at best. The fate of franchises relies on the success of a QB. Teams may succeed in drafting one, but a player with a team-friendly deal for a year, followed by the prime of his career after seasoning under the Patriots, seems like a much surer option. Why teams aren’t lining up draft picks to acquire Garoppolo baffles me. Maybe it’ll change before the draft, but I’m not holding my breath.
Editor’s note: In a stunning turn of events, Patriot fans seem convinced that they have something everyone else desperately wants. And yes, there’s no doubting that Garrapalo has impressed in his limited sample size, and that any chance for a good QB in the NFL should be jumped at. But I don’t blame teams for not lining up to bid. Grappalolo is unproven, and it will cost not just salary, but other very important assets in a cap-driven league. Acquiring Grappolo is just as big of a risk on the field as adding, say, Mike Glennon off the free agency wire—but what Glennon costs in salary, he makes up in not having to give up the other assets. At the end of the day, NFL teams expect the QB position to be pricey, and if they think Glennon, or anyone else, is worth the money, they’ll pony up in heartbeat—Garappaolo will certainly be in the Glennon tax bracket soon enough. But it will cost more than just dollars and cents to get him, and teams are wise to tread lightly there.