I'm getting tired of defending the idea of a college-football playoff to the yahoos who think the sport is just fine the way it is. I honestly don't have the energy. So let me take you to an alternate universe, where a few other major sports are run like the NCAA runs its popular football brand.
2008 was a fantastic year for the New York Yankees. They began the season as the #1 ranked team and never relinquished that mantel, winning 101 games and taking the writers' poll of AL teams in a cakewalk. Sure, there were some Red Sox and Tigers fans who thought the fact that their teams split their season series with the Yanks meant that they were just as good, but New York was stronger against the Devil Rays and Royals, and so outpaced their rivals by three games, and always stayed just ahead in the polls. And so the Yankees advanced automatically to the World Series, where they crushed the writers' NL choice, the New York Mets (who appeared on TV more times than any other NL franchise), to win their 27th championship. "Now that we don't actually play playoff games," said Hank Steinbrenner, "this game is easy!"
The Dallas Cowboys weren't supposed to do anything in '08, but here they are in Arizona, getting ready to take on the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII. These teams met back in Week 6 of the regular season, a contest the Pats took 48-27, so you can understand why New England is a heavy favorite in this one. But of course, neither of these teams has played since Week 17 of the regular season, a span of 35 days, so it's tough to know exactly what you're going to get out of these squads. Cowboys coach Wade Phillips let his charges have the first two weeks off to spend time with their families, while Pats coach Bill Belichick has had his minions squirreled away in an unnamed desert location, running stadium stairs three times a day for a month. Will Tony Romo show rust? Will Tom Brady remember Randy Moss's name? Tune in, if you can remember what the NFL looks like!
LeBron James may have torn a hamstring in April, but his Cleveland Cavaliers will still play in the 2007-2008 NBA Finals. The Cavs lost their stud player with 10 games left in the regular season, but were able to tread water. The voters didn't believe they should punish Cleveland for losing four-of-10 without James, and so refused to remove them from the Eastern Conference's top spot in the polls. It probably helps that the AP voters knew that James would be healed in time to play in the title series two months later, in June. So James was able to rest his injured hammy during the bowl season, watching lower-ranked teams like the Celtics and Suns square off in consolation series. Now June is finally here, King James is ready, and the Cavs are favored over the defending champion Spurs. NBA Fever! Catch it!
Bodog has Tim Tebow as the overwhelming favorite (in terms of odds) to win the Heisman Trophy. Does that jibe with what you think will happen? Do you think a case can be made for anyone else?
Bodog Bookmakers, Bodoglife.com: Tim Tebow has broken records all season; he's proven himself to be the ultimate dual threat quarterback. He's the first QB to throw and rush for more than 20 touchdowns. It's an amazing accomplishment; I would equate it to when Jose Canseco had his 40/40 season. Darren McFadden rushed for 1,725 yards and 15 touchdowns in only 12 games. He played his best against the best. In an overtime victory over LSU, McFadden rushed for 206 yards and three scores. The odds may have Tebow a little too overwhelming of a favorite, but given the sheer mind-boggling numbers he's put up this season, he should be the first sophomore to win the award. Here's something for his detractors to think about: Tebow rushed for seven more touchdowns than McFadden.
Do you think Johan Santana eventually winds up playing for the Boston Red Sox?
Bodog Bookmakers, Bodoglife.com: Now that the Yankees have officially pulled out, the Red Sox are in the driver's seat, but the Mets have jumped back into the mix. After the Tigers-Marlins trade, it may be in the Twins' best interest to take things slowly, as the Marlins were able to get the Tigers' top two prospects, Cameron Maybin and Andrew Miller, included in their deal. Right now the Twins are hoping the Mets will budge on Jose Reyes. I think they'll be waiting a long time for that to happen, and without Reyes a Mets deal seems unlikely, as they don't have the quality prospects that the Red Sox do. Whichever team wins the Santana sweepstakes will need to re-sign him, which is likely to cost in the neighborhood of $20 million over seven years. I think it may be a couple of weeks, but we'll see Santana pitching for the Red Sox next season.
Which similar free-agent signing do you like better: Torii Hunter for the Angels or Andruw Jones for the Dodgers?
Bodog Bookmakers, Bodoglife.com: Even though Jones had the worst season of his career last season, he's still younger, hits for more power, and has been consistently healthy. I expect Jones to bounce back with a 35 HR, 120 RBI season, plus a jump in batting average to a more respectable .270.
Is the Mayweather/Hatton fight drawing bettors' interest? Will you be watching? What do you think will happen?
Bodog Bookmakers, Bodoglife.com: Of course I'll be watching this fight. There's one thing we can count on: this will be a lot more exciting than the Mayweather-De La Hoya fight. Bodog has seen some pretty good action so far. Hatton's presence in the fight is bringing in a lot of new bettors. As I write this, the action coming in is almost split 50/50 between the fighters. If this one goes to the judges' cards, I can see Hatton winning a possible upset. He throws a lot of punches and doesn't have the power of PBF, but he can win enough rounds by staying busy. Mayweather has the power to knock out Hatton, but he needs to forget about his fragile hands and throw some heavy punches.