Is it time to shovel dirt on them?
I know it's the first week in May, and I know the New York Yankees began the 2006 season 11-19 before rallying to their millionth consecutive AL East crown. But even the most rose-colored-glasses-wearing Yankee fan has to admit at this point that 2007 is shaping up a little different.
I mean, Mike Mussina and Chien-Ming Wang hurt their hamstrings the first week of the season and basically miss April. Mariano Rivera blows his first two save chances, and ends April with exactly one save. Kei Igawa is a disaster, and Carl Pavano is a wimp. Jeff Karstens gets drilled by a line drive against the Red Sox and fractures his leg. Hideki Matsui and Johnny Damon can't stay healthy.
And now Philip Hughes, their bonus baby wunderkind who can't miss, gets called up to fill in for the decimated rotation, pitches over six innings of no-hit ball against Texas, and then pulls a hamstring. This rookie literally had to leave a no-hitter because he hurt himself, and now will miss more than a month with his own bad hammy.
Don't get me wrong: this is still an unbelievably fearsome lineup, the best in baseball. They're going to score an ungodly number of runs. But will the team be able to get anyone out? Do they really think this ragtag band of 80-year-olds and 25-year-olds with 80-year-old body parts is going to make it through a full year, or that the six-inning maestro Roger Clemens is going to cure all that ails them? The Hughes injury is especially brutal because this kid was the embodiment of hope. I know he'll be back at the All-Star Break at the latest, and that in the long term having the temptation of pitching Hughes all year removed is probably the best thing for the kid. But still, he's a walking metaphor.
Listen, New York won't finish last. I'm just no longer 100% convinced they're finishing first, either.
Which teams were you most impressed by in the NFL Draft this weekend? And who hurt themselves the most with how they picked?
BoDog Bookmakers, BoDog.com: The Browns passed on Brady Quinn in the #3 spot only to trade next year's pick to Dallas for the right to take Quinn at #22. This also saves the Browns $33 million in guarantees that Quinn would have been due. Joe Thomas was the best offensive lineman in the country and will provide top-notch blocking to Quinn and recently-acquired Jamal Lewis. The Raiders made a nice pick in the fourth round by selecting Michael Bush. Bush might be the steal of the draft if he adequately recovers from his broken leg. The Dolphins made a surprising move by selecting Ted Ginn Jr. Sure, he's an exciting player, but when they had so many more glaring needs it makes you wonder what some GMs are thinking. With all that said, the New England Patriots are the big winners so far in this year's off-season, simply based on the moves they made.
What do you think of Randy Moss going to the Patriots? Does this make New England an even stronger wager to head to the Super Bowl in 2008, or will Moss flame out?
BDB, BoDog.com: It goes without saying Randy Moss can be the best receiver in the game when he's motivated. Moss plays better when his team is winning, which is a catch-22 because his recent teams couldn't win unless he was playing well. This is the perfect situation for him to come back at re-establish himself as the league's best WR. It's unlikely that Belichick and Brady will take any sulking from Moss, and I predict we will see a Cory-Dillon-like turnaround in Moss's attitude, where Randy just comes to work and puts up big numbers. The change is already apparent, with Moss agreeing to renegotiate his contract to come to the Patriots. Hey, Tom Brady was one drive away from the Super Bowl last year and he did it without a 1,000-yard receiver. The Pats have bolstered their receiving crew to the point where Brady could and should have multiple 1,000-yarders in the 2007 season.
The first Saturday in May is approaching. Can you give us a quick rundown of your personal favorites for the Kentucky Derby?
BDB, BoDog.com: My personal favorite is Street Sense. I think this is the year where history is made with Street Sense winning both the Breeders Cup Juvenile back in November and the Kentucky Derby on May 5th. Although he came in second in the Blue Grass Stakes, this horse is worth his Eclipse Award. Curlin, most likely to go off as the post time favorite, is also among my top picks. He's the only horse who's currently unbeaten, but with only three lifetime starts, and no two-year-old races under his belt, I'm not totally convinced this horse can win the big race. I think Nobiz Like Shobiz has a chance if he can keep his cool. Although he had new equipment his last prep, he was able to pull out the win.
The Bulls sweeping the Heat out of the playoffs certainly caught me by surprise. Do you think Chicago is a better-than-even bet now to make it to the NBA Finals? How would they fare against the Pistons?
BDB, BoDog.com: The sweep was definitely unexpected, but the Bulls taking the series wasn't a huge surprise to me. Wade was less than extraordinary after returning from his shoulder injury. The Bulls are a good team and with their combination of shooters, Ben Wallace playing well inside and Luol Deng's coming-out party this year, they stand a better chance of beating the Pistons than their Eastern Conference counterparts. Coach Skiles has his team playing their best, and as a result they're definitely a good pick to come out of the East.