A lot of news in the sports world this week. The NBA playoffs starting to great fanfare. The NHL playoffs continuing without anyone noticing. The NFL draft just a week away.
But nothing caught my attention like what happened in Yankee Stadium last Thursday.
Cleveland manager Eric Wedge is officially living on borrowed time. He already led a ragtag band of underachievers to playoff non-contention in 2006 despite a roster stacked to its Wahoo Warrior brim with young talent. Now this. He wanted to get his erstwhile closer, Joe Borowski, some work in a 6-2 game, because Borowski hadn't worked in four days. Okay. And I'm even all right leaving the guy in after he allowed a two-out solo homer to Josh Phelps, a single to Jorge Posada and a walk to Johnny Damon. Heck, give him the benefit of the doubt, and let him face Derek Jeter (gulp).
But after Jeter singled in Posada to make it 6-4, maybe it was time to start thinking about a different pitcher. And after Bobby Abreu singled in Damon to make it 6-5, it was really time to start thinking about a different pitcher. And after Borowski threw a wild pitch that allowed Jeter and Abreu to advance to second and third, your blind, deaf and stroke-laden grandmother would've known to change pitchers. Unbelievably, Wedge left Borowski in. To face Alex Rodriguez. Who had nine homers in his first 13 games. With first base open.
This is the kind of logic that leads to Sanjaya staying alive far too long on American Idol. (Speaking of which, how perfect is it that Sanjaya will next dine with President George W. Bush? Talk about two unjustly rewarded symbols of mediocrity.)
You know what happened next. A-Rod went yard while Wedge played his fiddle. The Indians dropped 2.5 games out of first in the AL Central. And the Yankees got to dance all over the Tribe. If these two teams meet in the playoffs, don't think this albatross won't weigh heavy around Cleveland's neck. Could Wedge have walked Rodriguez to face Jason Giambi with a force in play at every base. Yup. Could he (even better) have done something radical like, oh, I dunno, change pitchers? Yup.
But he didn't. He stood and watched, then justified himself to reporters after. Time to go, Eric.
The Yankees already had what I considered to be a suspect starting rotation entering '07, and now they can't keep more than a starter or two healthy. Do you think they'll wind up being in trouble this year, or is this just early-season stuff that will go away?
BoDog Bookmakers, BoDog.com: This doesn't look good for the Yankees; other than Andy Pettitte and Chien-Ming Wang, the Yankees don't have any pitchers in the primes of their careers. Mike Mussina has been a rock his entire career, but his age and his 477 career starts have caught up with him. Carl Pavano has pitched only 111 innings since 2005. The Yankees pitching staff is in trouble, but they still have enough offense to keep them in any game.
The NBA playoffs are starting to take shape, and the West promises to be unbelievable. So which will it be? Dallas? San Antonio? Phoenix? Someone else?
BDB, BoDog.com: Dallas, San Antonio and Phoenix are all head-and-shoulders above the rest of the NBA. Dallas finished with the best record and has the probable MVP leading the way. In San Antonio, Gregg Popovich seems to have the Spurs peaking at the right time. However, the fallout from the Tim Duncan ejection and Joey Crawford's subsequent suspension could have referees on edge calling the Spurs games. Phoenix has the most to prove; they need to prove once and for all that their up-tempo offense translates well into the playoffs. For the Suns, anything less than an appearance in the finals will be a major disappointment. The only other team in the west that has a chance is Houston. McGrady and Yao are two of the most dominant players in the game when healthy. They have a chance if both players get hot at the same time.
I asked about Kevin Durant last week, and you waxed poetic. Now it appears Greg Oden will declare for the NBA Draft as well. Do you think he's a franchise player, as you do Durant? Which guy would you take first overall?
BDB, BoDog.com: This debate will go on in bars, locker rooms, Internet forums and anywhere else people love basketball. Greg Oden is going to be a franchise player in the same mold as David Robinson; he'll come in and go to work. Big dominant centers are a rare, so when you have the chance to take one in the draft, you don't think twice unless someone like Kevin Durant is on the board. I would still pick KD over Oden; they'll both win games and change your franchise, but from a business perspective Durant will fill more seats and sell more merchandise.
One week into the NHL playoffs, what are your biggest stories?
BDB, BoDog.com: So far it's been Sidney Crosby's quick exit at the hands of the Ottawa Senators, who are getting consistent goaltending and could quickly become the favorite to come out of the East. I'm also shocked by the apparent lack of effort by Atlanta; it's pretty amazing to see a team at this level not ready to play. Bob Hartley clearly didn't have his team ready to play, and he made some very puzzling goaltending decisions. The abstract logic of replacing Kari Lehtonen after it clearly wasn't his fault the Thrashers lost Game 1, and then returning to him after Johan Hedberg was