So I decided that I'd like to blog about my squads because well... I have my own website and I can write about whatever I want. I also felt like its a good time to talk about most of my teams because most of them are either in good spots or making moves to be in good spots in the near future. That said... let's start with the one team that is not and is the biggest disappointment of all my teams.
Orlando Magic - No team has made worse player moves in the past 10 years than the Orlando Magic. No team has ever had the #1 pick 3 times in it's short history and remained irrelevant for as long as the Magic. Aside from the Penny/Shaq era, which really only produced 1 Eastern Conference Title and the Dwight Howard Era, which again only had one Eastern Conference Title, the Magic have remained a stepping stone ever since Howard left for the Lakers. Any picks or players they've gotten aren't next level players. With the one exception being Victor Oladipo who was shipped out of town too soon because they absolutely had to have Serge Ibaka for half a season. EYEROLL. This year they got rid of Elfrid Payton who has promise as scoring point guard. They invest in players who should be role players on a championship contending team. And it's making me angry whenever I see posts from the Magic suggesting that the future is bright and I wonder how far in the future we are talking.
Sidebar: Look it's no secret that the NBA is a star driven league. To win now you have to have 2 to 3 major stars and then great players around them.
My point is here is the Orlando Magic top 5 players right now. Jonathan Simmons, Jonathan Issac, Aaron Gordon, Niokla Vucevic, and Evan Fournier. Do you fear any of those players? Do you know any of those players? Do you know any of those players who haven't participated in the dunk contest? Either way there is a good chance you've only heard of 2 or 3 of those guys and to be fair the Jonathan's are young and could still grow in to something but the Magic will most likely ship them off before we really know. Just because Gordon, Vucevic and Fournier pack the stat sheet doesn't mean they are even close to elite caliber. Someone has to pyschically suit up for the Magic and even the best of the worst will end up putting up some numbers. Basically while I see other franchises rising and then falling again but rebuilding and making another run at it the Magic seem to be standing still most of the time. I guess they need a 4th #1 pick to get another shot at a title... how about having a scouting team that finds a Donovan Mitchell, or someone on staff smart enough to nurture Victor Oladipo, or trading out of the middle of the draft to get an established player if drafting winners ain't your thing. The only thing right about the Orlando Magic right now is their beautiful uniforms, logo, and colors which are among the leagues best.
Maybe the ping-pong ball will shoot our way again this year....
Sticking with the NBA how about those Bucks?! For years they claimed "Own the Future" and for the first time in years the Bucks look like a team on the rise and meant for big things. With MVP candidate Giannis Antetokounmpo and a cast of other complimentary stars the Bucks are one big move away from being a serious Finals contender and they really one full healthy season away from being a top 4 team in the East. While moves still need to be made to hit the next level the Bucks are building right and show promise which is perfect as they open a new stadium next year (Farewell Bradley Center). The future is now for Milwaukee. Can they take the next big step?
Moving to the NHL let's go ahead and say it... this was the worst season the Canadiens have had since I've been alive. They were slapped by the injury bug and never seemed to gel. With a healthy bunch they could have been a playoff contender but they weren't built to contend for the cup now. So whenever someone asks me how I feel about it... which is often from the B's Haters Fan Club, I just say I'm glad that we missed the playoffs rather than make and stay status quo. Now we've got the #3 overall pick and a chance to get a real franchise making player. Every once in awhile you need an off year to regroup. I didn't like that they let Markov and Radulov walk in the off-season last year. Bringing them back would have helped, but I assume they thought Alzner and Drouin would fill those voids and although they played well I think both came in under expectations. Sometimes I wonder why the Habs aren't bigger spenders. They have plenty of money. If Pacioretty gets traded this off season I'll be pissed, mostly because I have his jersey, but if it means improving I'm for it. Anything to not have a season like that again. I'm hoping the Habs don't sell the cow to buy milk. There is still a load of talent on this healthy roster. So much so that they made the Stanley Cup finals in NHL 18 in my Franchise and not as the team I played with. I came from the West with the Seattle Dragons... it's a long story... anyway hopefully a hungry and healthy Habs squad bounces back next season.
There are too many secondary favorites to get to in the NHL. I like and support a lot of teams. Right now I'm on the Winnipeg and Tampa Bay bandwagons. I mean I literally made ice for the Lightning today wearing a bright blue polo and my blue and black shoes and socks. Steve Yzerman and Dave Andreychuk were here along with the Lighting players... it was cool. But I digress...
The Washington Nationals are having a rougher start than most years due to many injuries, although Bryce Harper is killing it. The Nats will get better and eventually win the NL East again. The Mets are pretenders and the Braves? Please. As the Nats get healthy hopefully they gel at the right time this season. Usually they peak early than slide and by the playoffs they are a shell of what they could be. They score 10-15 runs a game in April and May and then have to scrape and claw for every run in October. The Nats have become the little franchise that can't... win a series in October. They remain respected as one of the best teams in baseball but can never seem to pull it together at the end of the season when the games matter most. Eventually they have to get over that hump or they will die trying. Bryce won't stay with a franchise stuck in the first round mud forever and Who knows how long Scherzer can pitch at this beyond human level... the span of time for the Nationals to get a World Series title is already 2 or 3 years in. TIme to capitalize... and by that I don't mean do what the cross-town NHL team does because they pretty much do the same "win during season lose during playoffs" thing.
The Milwaukee Brewers were big movers in the offseason brining in Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich to revamp their outfield. The question is whether that will be enough to dethrone the Cubs in the NL Central. They should still be a wild card contender either way and it's fun to see both my squads in the hunt for October again this year. I'll probably pick up the baseball package again around the all-star break. I enjoyed it so much last year.
To the NFL...
Who would have guessed that the Buffalo Bills would make the playoffs last year? Well not me. In fact when the Broncos lost and early week game to Buffalo I was a little pissed figuring that Denver might need that game at the end of the year to make the postseason... well it turned out the other way. It was awesome to see the excitement as Buffalo ended the longest playoff drought in major pro sports. That's what makes sports great. The BIlls played well in the playoff game but didn't have enough offense against a stingy Jags D. So far this offseason the Bills moved on from Tyrod Taylor and brought in AJ McCarron and also drafted Josh Allen whom some had as the #1 overall option. I like the moves the Bills made in the offseason and I feel they are doing the right things to build upon this year's success.
The Denver Broncos... things got so bad last year that I abandoned my orange and blue altogether. Not for life but I mean damn... losing is one thing but some of the losses were embarrassing. This was the worst season of Broncos football in my lifetime and the only good news about that was it allowed the Broncos to have the #5 overall draft pick where the picked up Bradley Chubb who was a top talent in the draft but because Cleveland was silly, they left him on the board. Hopefully he and Von team up to lead the defense back to glory. I also like the addition of Case Keenum to be the starting QB. The guy is a fighter and he led the Vikes to within one win of the Super Bowl. The VIkings... I mean no one has done that since Brett Favre. The Vikings are overrated BTW and get ready to watch them fall with unproven stat-packer Kirk Cousins who everyone claimed to want but has never really won any big games. Not sure what all the fuss is about. Anyway it has to get better for Denver because it can't get much worse. The division is weaker with the Chiefs giving up on Alex Smith, and the Chargers and Raiders both always poised to run basically the same team out and under-achieve. The Broncos could win the division and be playoff bound... but they could just as easily be 8-8 and miss too. We'll see if head coach Vance Joseph takes his head out of his ass a little more this season and demands more of his players on gameday than simply putting on their uniforms.
Sidebar: My favorite in the NFC has to be the Rams. I mean like, and thank, the Eagles for winning the SB last year but I think Wentz will make mistakes trying to get to do what he couldn't last year plus it's hard to repeat... just ask the Pats who have been trying to repeat for the past Meanwhile the Rams brought in a TON of talent... seriously I think if you weighed them all they'd be a ton. Plus they have the best Defensive guru of all time in Wade Phillips. The Rams have all the pieces and all the talent and all the leaders to get to the promised land. If I had to bet on anyone to win the Super Bowl as of right now I go Rams. I go Eagles second and then in a surprise the Giants 3rd. The Giants just have a random good season every once in awhile in the Eli Era... I feel like they are due another one of those. But please don't tell Neil Wolfe, my Dad, or Aaron Rodgers I didn't put the Packers on this list. Something tells me I'll regret that later but if so that's cool by me I love the Pack!
Since I did the NFC if I have to do the AFC too I'll take the Patriots because Billichek is still their coach so duh, and then the Steelers (see the same argument for the Giants above but with the Rothesberger era) and then... ummm not the Jags because they refused to upgrade Blake Bortles and he's garbage... not the TItans because they will still be hung over from whatever display they made at the Predators playoff games... shit man... I want to say Buffalo or Denver here but that feels to homer and also seems to "coin flippy" that they rise to those heights... I guess I'll say the Houston Texans. If healthy they should have a solid year and are in division where they should be a contender near seasons end.
Well not much matters other than the big 4... but allow me to sidebar in to College for a second because since it happened I haven't weighed in with my thoughts...
UMBC beat Virginia. a #16 beat #1 seed in the NCAA Tourney... it was my white whale... I always hoped Vermont could be the first team to do it. Instead due to the buzzer-beating defeat of Vermont, UMBC made the tourney and then history by blowing out and overrated Virginia team. I'll never be over this. I always wanted to root for the #16 to pull it off but as I watched this one I watched in horror. This was a team that lost by like 42 points to Albany this season... no way could they do this... I kept urging the Cavaliers to make a comeback but they wouldn't... they couldn't... they were not the better team on this day... and thus the theory of "a #1 seed on it's worst day will always be better than a #16 on their best day" died. Hats off to UMBC. I'm not here to shit on their accomplishment, but damn... why couldn't it have been anyone else? I'm sure Virginia is asking the same question. (Side note: Virginia can never be trusted in the NCAA Tourney I had them losing in the second round in my bracket. They are a garbage program and should be forced to play D2 next year due to the loss. Honestly they should be ashamed and forever walk with a hung head. If an ACC Team isn't Duke or North Carolina don't put your bracket's faith in their hands for more than a sweet sixteen run. Once in awhile an NC State or Miami elite eight run might burn ya for a round or 2 but they won't ruin your bracket as fast as Virginia will. However if they ever needed motivation... next year the anger and passion might push them to an actual run... but that said they will probably collapse in the 2nd round and I'll get burned again thinking maybe they will be motivated and actually play well in March this time.... *Crumples future bracket and misses shot at the garbage can
Lastly sports are great. But only when they are sports. Horse racing, Golf, Auto Racing, Bowling, and many others aren't sports. Racing is a motorsport which is a sub-genre. Golf and Bowling are fun but they are activities (you don't need to be an athlete to be good at it). Horse racing is a sport for the horse and why do I give a damn which is faster? Remember kids when you say you can talk sports it better be involve the big four or it doesn't matter at all. Soccer, while a sport, is never worth talking about unless it's for your kids youth league. And even then let's keep it to "Jimmy scored a goal on Saturday," and nothing more.
Whew... that was a good side rant to end on. Be well out there sports fans!