I'm starting to get the itch again. I got extremely busy, then got other interests. I think the Orioles snapped me back into it. More on that later. I noticed between the last post and now, over 600 people have hit the page, mostly from searches and the "Next Blog" button on the Blogger bar at the top. I managed to get two Konqueror hits from a FreeBSD user. One recent hit was even from a University of Minnesota student searching for highlight clips of Ciatrick Fason. More on that later too. A quick review:
The Magic found a way to collapse after their hot start thanks mainly to injuries and the fact that Johnny Davis is an interim coach at best. I still stand by my opinion that they should have waited until the deadline to trade Tracy McGrady, not only because the team is now stuck with Steve Francis for the next couple of years, but because Grant Hill coming back meant they had an instant one-two all star punch. Dwight Howard showed flashes of brilliance, Jameer Nelson proved he's a legit point already, and DeShawn Stevenson made Davis look like a fool for burying him on the bench all year. A smallish college-style two-guard/three-forward lineup of Nelson, Stevenson, McGrady, Hill, and Howard would have tore through everyone in the league except the Heat and Spurs similar to the Suns' dominance this year. McGrady right now is even proving he can guard Dirk Nowitzki, making that lineup even more potent. Oh, what could have been…
The Gators flamed out early in the tournament again. Anthony Roberson cannot defend small guards, and Villanova had about 4 of them. That's about all I need to say about that. Other than that, Roberson and Matt Walsh really should come back to Florida after how the parade of more-talented people declared for the draft. I think Walsh never really planned on following through and entering the draft anyway, and just wanted to measure himself up against other top prospects to see where he is and what he must work on. Fair enough. Roberson planned on leaving for good though, but he's probably bottom-half of the second round at best now. He could use one more season in college to finally learn defense. Maybe they can look up Justin Hamilton to tutor him. Godspeed David Lee, thanks for finally playing up to your potential this year and for being the only guy who seemed to care about beating 'Nova. You were the reason we beat UK two straight and even had a shot in the second half in the second round game.
After watching the UF football spring game, I came to the conclusion that the Gators will be just fine for many years to come. Chris Leak looked as sharp as ever, Gavin Dickey is lightning-fast and needs to play some receiver or split back, and Josh Portis will probably win a Heisman before he's out. As for this year, Markus Manson and DeShawn Wynn will probably split the load at running back, but I'll bet Manson wins the starting job. Action Chad Jackson might be unstoppable next year, especially since Andre Caldwell and Jemaille Cornelius are studs as well. The defense looked remarkably good for a spring game, especially Brandon Siler. This team reminds me a bit of the 1995 team: full of potential, an explosive offense, and almost-there defense. They very well could bulldoze through the schedule and make a surprise national championship game appearance like the 1995 team did, only to lose badly (likely to USC, assuming it doesn't turn out that Norm Chow was the only reason they were so good which is entirely possible). They also could get a wake-up call and lose an ugly game to Tennessee in the third week. Time will tell, but the swagger is back.
The Bucs did a fairly good job with the draft. Cadillac Williams will be an excellent pro, but I would have gone Mike Williams first round, Mike Nugent second round, and Ciatrick Fason third round. The slight downgrade of Cadillac to Fason would have been more than made up by Mike Williams' talent. The Vikings got a steal in round four. I can't say the rest of the draft excites me much, mainly because I know almost nothing about the players they took and the fact that Jon Gruden and Bruce Allen don't quite have the same eye for talent that Rich McKay has (okay, it's not even close). Monte Kiffin will always have the D in order; they needed more offensive help in the second round to make up for Brian Griese only being an average QB. I wouldn't have minded taking another quarterback to groom at some point since I have no faith in Chris Simms whatsoever, but the team and I don't see eye-to-eye on that. Yet.
As to baseball, the Reds have turned into strikeout machines. The lineup is fairly potent and has been the main reason why they are hanging around with the Cubs at .500 right now. The team ERA of 5.13 will have to come down, and Eric Milton HAS to stop giving up so many home runs.
Ah, but the Orioles. Ray Miller's return as pitching coach has made all the difference. The young arms are coming into their own and Bruce Chen finally seems to have figured out how to be a quality pitcher. If only Sir Sidney could get his act together for once. The lineup is deadly for sure. Sammy Sosa isn't what he used to be, but he's right around .300 and third on the team in homers. Miguel Tejada is paying even more dividends. Of all the team's recent power acquisitions, he's the most important and is playing at an unbelievably high level. And how about Brian Roberts? The contact lenses appear to be doing wonders although he can't even use them at night, which is when most April games are played. When all of summer's day games roll around, he might get even better. I doubt it, but it's a nice thought anyway for someone who has already surpassed his career home run total by three. The team is at 14-7 and has run out to a 3-game lead in the AL East. They are 5-1 against the Yankees, 2-2 against the Red Sox (with a possible sweep game rained out today), and have swept the third-place Blue Jays. They will come back down to Earth some when Roberts cools down and will have to cope with the injuries to their aging sluggers that will inevitably come. However, with Boston's and New York's teams even older and both actively decomposing as I write this, it could be the year for a new champion in the AL East, and I don't mean Boston.
Isn't April a great month for baseball? Nothing beats hope. Here's to September feeling the exact same way.