Monday, April 27, 2009

Monday's Starting Five

1. The New York Jets. As a Jets fan, I'm not sure how I feel about Mark Sanchez, the USC QB that the Jets traded up to select on Day 1 of the 2009 NFL draft. The kid started just 16 games at USC. He did throw a heckuva lot of touchdowns in those games. But, that's not a lot to go on. He's charismatic. He seems smart. He says the right things. He's good looking. He seemed to be the face of this year's draft more than No. 1 pick Matthew Stafford, who strikes me as a plenty of arm/plenty of room-for-rent between the ears sort of guy. Of course, SI's Norm Chad thinks that Sanchez is the thick-skulled QB of this year's draft. On the other hand, Mike Lombardi of The National Football Post thinks that Sanchez is the cat's pajamas if they were tailored to fit on the bee's knees.. So, who knows? Well, aside from Mel Kiper's barber. But, he'll never tell. Like I said, I don't know how I feel about Sanchez. Or the fact that the Jets are thin at a lot of positions after only drafting three players this weekend. Still, I dig the Sanchez move for the moment. If only because it shows that the Rex Ryan Era will be marked by definitive action. For a franchise that has always seemed reactionary and to be playing catch-up with trends and opponents, it was nice to seem them proactively go after what they wanted. Even if everyone wasn't totally psyched.

2. Hedo Turkoglu. With the score tied and 14 seconds remaining in Game 4 between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Orlando Magic, TNT broadcaster P.J. Carlisimo thought that it would be Dwight Howard's ball since he is the "best" player on the Magic. The camera man knew better, focusing on the Turkish forward as the Magic emerged from a timeout with the score tied, 81-81. The camera man knew that it was Turkoglu's ball whenever the game was on the line. I knew. Seriously, I did actually tell two people that the play would be for Hedo and that he would hit the shot if he got the chance. One of the two people was impressed when this actually happened. The other less so.

3. Yao Ming. The Rockets are his team right now. And, they are one win away from reaching the second round of the NBA playoffs. In other words, Yao is poised to boldly step where injured teammate Tracy McGrady hath never stepped before. Much will be made of this in Houston if the club can close out the youthful Blazers this week. Last night, the Rockets assumed control of the series behind a dominant performance from Yao Ming the Merciless. He scored 21 points to go along with 12 boards. Thus far in the postseason, he is shooting 58% from the field and 95% from the line. He's not playing with the ferocity of an early 2000s Shaq, but he is consistent and relentless. The Blazers have no answer for him. Does Andrew Bynum?

4. The Chicago Bulls. Once (like just a few weeks ago) mired in mediocrity alongside the Bucks, Knicks, Nets and Bobcats, the Bulls have blossomed along with the flowers this spring. Led by precocious rookie point guard Derrick Rose and the indomitable Ben Gordon, the Windy City's representative's in the NBA's postseason tournament have shined thus far and find themselves even with the defending champs after four games. Gordon has been marking Celtics defenders with his excellence like a tiger staking claim to a new tract of the jungle. He hit a late three-pointer to force a second overtime in last night's Game 4 and then opened up the scoring in the second extra session to pull the Bulls even in the series.

5. Washington Capitols. Not too long ago, the Caps trailed the New York Rangers, 1-3, in the best-of-seven first round playoff series. Now, they're even at 3 games apiece and have home ice for the winner-take-all Game 7. They've gone from choke-artist to momentum-having favorite in the span of week.

Sixth Man. Swine Flu (occasionally mistaken for Pirate Flu). I think that this is how we all die. After everyone freaked out about SARS and Bird Flu and West Nile Virus and whatever else sounded exotic and lethal, it's going to be the pigs that gets us. And don't forget that this is going to get really interesting as soon as the MTA starts shuttling this stuff contagion around New York City like the conveyor belt at sushi restaurant and some sandwich-board-carrier makes the connection between pigs and all those biblical prohibitions of pork.

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