Although much of the NCAA championship game featured sloppy play, turnovers, and poor shooting, the finish will have the 2008 final remembered as one of the great ones. It will likely be remembered more for the Memphis collapse and the failure at the free throw line than the great recovery by Kansas but it was nice to have a championship game live up to the hype with a competitive game. After a historic Super Bowl and a great NCAA basketball championship game we could be in for a great sports year in 2008. The NCAA tournament needed a great finish as overall outside of Davidson's great run the tournament did not offer the excitement that it is capable of.
A glance at the MLB standings through one week has more than a few surprises. Detroit at 0-7 certainly stands out. Although the Tigers should be expected to a be one of the better teams in the AL, we are not completely shocked by the low offensive production. Everyone forgets that Comerica Park is a pitcher's park and that in the early years of the stadium there were very low-scoring games and Detroit had a lot of trouble getting offensive players to sign in free agency. When the 2006 Tigers made the great run to the World Series they were a clear 'under' team and it was pitching the made them a contender. With a banged-up bullpen and starters that are not living up to expectations it could be tough for Detroit to overcome this first-week deficit, especially with Cleveland, Chicago, and Kansas City looking like solid teams in the AL Central.
Another big surprise is the Baltimore Orioles. Most projected Baltimore as one of the worst teams in baseball and the preseason 'over'/'under' was sitting in the mid-60s. The Orioles are off to an incredible 6-1 start and we may need to adjust our perception. Baltimore surely will not be able to hold up in the brutal AL East but they may be more competitive than most expected. The rotation looked like the biggest weakness but so far so good, and closer George Sherrill has been impressive as the O's have hung on to win several close games. The Baltimore offense is filled with veterans that were passed over by a lot of other teams but could gel together under a manager with a lot to prove.
The first week is certainly meaningless in the big picture but the pressure will elevate for teams with high expectations that are off to slow starts. The surprise teams are what make baseball exciting and what keeps the game incredibly competitive even though some teams have inherent advantages with the lack of a salary cap structure to level the field. No other sport could have that kind of parity without a cap and it should be a great summer at the diamond.