Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Randomness while learning from Rajon Rando that it's okay to slap a man

- You see Charlie Murphy, Rick James was right R.I.P.
- Bill Simmons is right, this Bulls-Celtics series is on it's way to being the best first-round series since the change to a best-of-seven. From the KG subplot to start, Derrick Rose showing us the future, the new Vinnie Johnson (sorry for dated references, but I'm a sports historian) in Ben Gordon, Ray Allen proving to be as certain as death when the game ends, Paul Pierce taking the mantle from Larry Bird officially, Doc and the refs, Vinny Del Negro and his wasting timeouts and Rondo shattering his ceiling for the next 15 years. The Celtics will be a factor is one way or another once KG, Allen and Pierce move on because Rondo will lead this team through it.
- As for last night's controversies, I'm glad the refs didn't charge a flagrant on Rondo because I hate when the refs put the game in their hands, unless its absolutely necessary. As for D-Ho, he should of been thrown out last night, though they got it right with suspending Howard.
- Looks like the Heat are just about finished. I don't doubt Dwyane Wade, unless he's hurt. He was hurt against Detroit in 05, he was hurt against the Bulls in 07 and I don't think his back will help him if they need him for Game 7 on the road with Atlanta, assuming they get there.
- I could opine on the Blazers-Rockets and the Magic-Sixers, but honestly, I'm not interested, aside from Howard's elbow.
- So let's move on to the Spurs losing to Dallas, as predicted on The Cycle. I could tell in Game 1 that I was going to be right with this one when J.J. Barea ran while. The Mavs finally look good since the Jason Kidd trade. Back to the Spurs, obviously the Ginobili injury was a killer, but now Tim Duncan isn't the same player he once was. I thought last year was the last chance for the Spurs to win the title. They remind me of the late 80s, early 90s Celtics when Bird started to get injuries, McHale had been reduced after playing with a broken foot in the 87 playoffs, but had Reggie Lewis leading the team to successful seasons and still had the respect of their opponents and even pushed the Cavs to Game 7 in 1992. The Spurs could have the same thing as Parker and Ginobili will lead this team, but Duncan keeps getting old and they have drafted too low and have too many old men and flyers on the bench.
- We go from one "dynasty" who I hate to the Devils, who completely collapsed last night when Maaaaaaaaarty Brodeur gave up two goals, in the last 90 seconds to lose the series to Carolina in seven games. So after falling on my face when the Rangers lost, the Devils were the pillow I landed on. After being disgusted by John Tortorella benching Sean Avery, then fighting with the fans; the fact Colton Orr wasn't in the lineup after Donald Brasheur bumped him in practice; to the cheap shot Brasheur laid on Blair Betts not getting a major penalty or having to fight Orr; to the ridiculous letter that Glen Sather wrote embarassing me to Isiah-like levels; finally a Game 7 where once again we couldn't score and couldn't even get Lundqvist out of the net for an extra skater. All of that, and the fact that Marty choked makes it even for me, at least for the next two months when Sather continues to make Mike Milbury look good.
- So now hockey fans, and most importantly non-hockey fans, you have your marquee series. Ovechkin vs Crosby, Semin vs Malkin, Caps vs Pens. This is the series that determines the future of the NHL if it's great. Then people who don't know what a blue line is will be ready for this series if it becomes a yearly occurance, like it was back in the 90s. Add three Original Six teams (Boston, Detroit and Chicago) and Vancouver for our fans up north, we could have our best possible Stanley Cup finals for a TV standpoint. Unless of course Carolina and Anaheim win, then we're screwed, especially with Kobe vs LeBron in the NBA. Series picks: Wings in 6, Hawks in 6, B's in 5 and Pens in 6 (unfortunately).
- It's one thing to trade away draft picks for a future QB, it's a whole other thing to trade more to move to the top of the third round to draft a RB. No way to you win a draft if you have three picks, sorry Jets. As for the Giants, I have full confidence in Jerry Reese, so I'm impressed. We drafted a WR in the first round, that's good enough for me.
- Now the bullpen has had trouble for the Mets the past couple days, so my Met fan readers, start to panic. Oh wait, you've already been panicing. But seriously, can they hit after the sixth inning. And David Wright seems to finally lose the Met fan, particularly my friend Brian. Unless something gives, this team won't be a .500 team, let alone playoffs.
- As for the Yankees, I'm off the ledge thanks to Phil Hughes. I couldn't watch much of his start due to the Rangers, Devils and NBA, but he was impressive and finally could have got it and most importantly, placating me as to why he wasn't traded. The hitting is better but let's see what the Yanks do against the Angels for 4 at the new stadium.
- Finally, I want to commend the New Orleans Hornets. Obviously, they read my scathing blog about them laying down Monday and have played better. Seriously, they're giving the Nuggets a game right now and even if they lose (this will be posted before games end), they're pride will be restored. However, if I'm a Hornets fan, I'm still pissed off unless they win.
UPDATED 1:15AM- Scratch that. I rescind my commending of New Orleans. They couldn't get the game to an over for my in Streak for the Cash on ESPN, lost by 19 so nevermind Hornets, you're still in my doghouse.

Monday, April 27, 2009

A Tale of Two Teams

I wasn't planning on writing tonight about the NBA playoffs, I'm worried about the Yankees pitching, satisfied with the job Jerry Reese did in the NFL Draft and at the point of walking off the ledge with the Rangers, who are their own story, which I will write when it's over. But watching the games tonight now got me ready to vent. The Utah Jazz should be commended for making their series with the Lakers a much more competitive one that it could of been if you look at the 3rd quarter scores. At the same time, words can't even describe how awful the New Orleans Hornets were tonight.
I'll start with Utah, since I don't have NBATV and watched none of the Hornets game. To be perfectly honest, I checked out of the Lakers-Jazz game when the only man slowing down Kobe was Steve Javie and proceeded to watch the Sharks finish their choke. After Ryan Getzlaf scored to make it 4-1, I flipped back to TNT and the Jazz, who were down by 22, cut the lead to 6 because of the play from Ronnie Price, Kyle Korver and Paul Millsap. Charles Barkley all week has said that the Lakers are lacking a killer instinct and proved it again against a proud Jazz team that once again made it closer than it should. That's how it is with Jerry Sloan teams, always tough. Unfortunately in the NBA, if you don't have the talent, you rarely win in the playoffs. But at least the Jazz compete.
Enter the Hornets. They played at home tonight in Game 4 with a chance to tie the series and proceed to lose the game 121-63. READ THAT SCORE AGAIN 121-63!!!!!HOW DO YOU LOSE AT HOME BY 58 POINTS?!!! When I saw this score on, I was first shocked, then disgusted. It is absolutely reprehensible to lose by that margin in your home building. Everyone should be given a refund for buying tickets to that game to watch an effort like that. And no, I didn't watch a minute of this game and I'm just going by the score. I don't care, it's a 58 point loss. There is no excuse for this. Bill Simmons has wrote on a couple of occasions that the Hornets are quiting on Byron Scott. Obviously, you can't disagree with the effort set forth tonight. Denver is proving to be the better team, but they can't be 29, 15 and 58 points better than them. I really can't say any more, just it's ridiculous for an NBA team to lose by this much in any situation. I don't care if it's the Kings or Wizards, much less a playoff team, put an effort. Show up, especially if you're home playing in front of fans who spend good money when there isn't a lot to spend during this recession.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Ode to Royalty

Many times through the years I have walked into the hallowed ground that is Madison Square Garden. I've been there maybe five times for Knicks games, mostly because my parents aren't basketball fans and they have always been particularly expensive. Since for nearly all of the decade the team has stayed in the bottom, there hasn't been much incentive for me to go back, though I should be back next season.

As for the Rangers, I've been to many games I can't even begin to count how many times I've been there. The first time I went was in October of 1993 when they played the expansion Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. That season, my parents bought season tickets (I don't know if they had them in years past) but we ended up sitting in the 200s and the Rangers lost. A month later, I was in our rightful seats in the Blue Seats (for readers not familiar, the 400s) against Vancouver and the Rangers won 6-3. From that time on, I was a blue-seater for life and whenever I have gone to Rangers games, all but once (the night they retired Andy Bathgate and Harry Howell's sweaters and ultimately Tom Renney's last game) I sit where the real Ranger fans sit. Because my parents had the season tickets, they ended up going to all the pivotal games at MSG that the Rangers played in the 1994 Stanley Cup Playoff, which I'm still bitter about not going to any games.

I went to my first playoff game in 1997 when the Rangers played the Devils in the 2nd round. My mother and I went and we actually sat in different sides of the same section upstairs. It was a 3-0 win as Mike Richter continued to steal the series from the Devils which also included this at the end. The year later, the Rangers started their seven year playoff drought all while my family had mini-plans for much of the time. We had them the first year after the lockout thus we had playoff tickets once again, but the series was a sweep at the hands of the hated Devils and I didn't get to go to a game. Last season, I ended up going to Game 3 of the Devils series, but I went alone because I could only get one ticket that was affordable. That ended with a loss on a fluke OT goal of Marc Staal's skate. Fortunately, they won the series however, lost to the Penguins in the second round. By this point, we had stopped getting mini-plans and I was cut back to maybe 2 or 3 games a season that I would go to.

This season, the Rangers have given all us Rangers fans plenty of attitude swings. At the beginning, we were shocked that they started 10-2-1 because we didn't expect them to play so well after losing Jaromir Jagr and Sean Avery, among others. Slowly but surely, we would become more and more upset watching this team take the ice. They couldn't score, they didn't play with consistent effort night in and night out, they had no semblence of a power play to the point that we just wanted to avoid short-handed goals and we wondered if there was anyway to decline a penalty. We still looked good, until the start of the 2nd half. The Rangers started by losing 12 of its first 14 games after the All-Star break. As I wrote earlier, I was there when they lost in OT to Toronto in a maddening game which the Rangers couldn't do anything on offense, yet somehow force OT to string us along. It was pretty clear that night that the team needed to make a change. Tom Renney is a good coach, as is one of the main reasons the Rangers became good again, along with Jagr and Henrik Lundqvist. The day after, Renney was fired and the Rangers hired John Tortorella to take over.

He was inheriting a mess. Glen Sather once again showed everyone how much the game has passed him by. He let go of Jagr, Marty Straka, Sean Avery, Brenden Shanahan and signed Wade Redden, a former good offensive defenseman who either lost his talent or stopped caring after the lockout, to a six-year deal; resigned Michael Rozsival, who has been propped up by Jagr; signed Markus Naslund, a forward who's showed his age, to a two-year deal; and traded for Nik Zherdev, a gifted scored who doesn't care about playing. We signed Scott Gomez and Chris Drury the year earlier and they haven't proven worth the money and Henrik Lundqvist wasn't having a typical Lundqvist season, to the point that my father would always say they won't win with him.

However, Tortorella would prove to be important as he has made this team play closer to its potential. Before, the team seemed to always have a lull and there wouldn't be any response as they would continue to play bad. Now, the lull's aren't as abundant, though this team is still able to have a no-show any given night. The acquistions of Nik Antropov, Derek Morris and the return of Sean Avery have mostly helped the Rangers, along with the great play from Ryan Callahan, Staal and Dan Girardi, to make the playoffs as a 7th seed in a series with the Caps.

The inspiration for this article was Lundqvist. He didn't have his typical season, only having a 2.44 goals against average and a .916 save pct. Terrible stats, I know. I've been defending him all year as he has to deal with a poorous defensive, a impotent offense and the need to be perfect every night for the team to be able to win. The last week of the season, the Rangers needed two wins to make the playoffs and Lundqvist was phenomenal. After beating Montreal, he was absolutely brillant against the Flyers, the save of the game occuring in the 3rd period as Hank robbed Daniel Carcillo from the tying goal. He would carry his great play into the series with the Caps, facing the likes of Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Semin. For two games, he was a thorn in the Caps side and the Rangers took a 2-0 lead. They came home for Game 3, the Garden excited and noisy and the Rangers fall flat on their face losing 4-0, despite another impressive performance by the King who kept them that close. But Game 4 would be different.

I found tickets and was sitting in section 426 in the last row. The good part about those seats is you can stand all you want. The bad part is that you can see the clock when you do. Now watching a Rangers playoff game at the Garden is a completely different experience as the 18,200 announced attendance is the actual attendance for these games, no empty red seats which you could see against Nashville. It's always good whenever John Amirante is singing the national anthem and it gets the Garden crowd even louder.

This would turn out to be the best hockey game I witness in person, or at the very least, the most exciting. The Rangers came out banging, hitting everyone in sight and taking the action toward the rookie netminder Simeon Varlamov. Soon, a fluke goal from a Paul Mara shot off John Erskine's stick made it 1-0. It was good to see Drury, who's playing with either a broken wrist or hand, come out hitting and taking advantage of a goalie who hasn't learned to play the puck by scoring the second goal. Then, King Henrik took over, as the Caps had all the offense pressure for the rest of the game. Hank made save after save, bringing the crowd to its feet many times, yell HEN-RIK over and over. Early in the 3rd, Ovechkin scored on an absolute rocket to make it 2-1, which I must sidebar and say that Ovechkin is truly an unbelievable talent, always skating, never taking off a shift, willing to take a hit to make a play and will give one as well. He hit the post that had to of bent the iron. Later on, Avery made two dump penalties to force Hank to face more pressure. As the seconds ticked down, the Garden crowd stood for the final minute, one apprieciating the effort Lundqvist and the Rangers gave and hoping there wasn't a late goal to tie it. It would never come as Hank stopped all on net and we held on.

Leaving the Garden, it was gratifying to finally watch the Rangers win, since it has been awhile. But after a game like this, you can't help but think about it, talk with people while walking down the stairs, honking horns, waving towels and just keeping a look on your face that has happiness, exhaustion and relief rolled into one. That's what the Stanley Cup playoffs bring if your team is there. That's why I get puzzled and irritated when people don't respect hockey, at least for the playoffs.

Back to the Rangers, they are leading 3-1 against a team that if we have a lesser goalie, we are swept. Henrik Lundqvist is the reason the Rangers are leading this series, and have a chance to win Friday night in Washington. He's taking the best shots from the young guns of the caps and is still standing and is one win from being the survivor and a date with the Bruins. So this is my chance to say to Hank, when I read people criticizing him, including my dad, thanks for being the goalie I know you are, a great one. And rightfully earning the nickname King.

The Knicks might get LeBron James in 2010. If so, King James would only be the second King, number one belongs to Hank.

Yankee Stadium Review

Last night, I made my official debut in Yankee Stadium, taking my sister for her upcoming birthday. Ever since last season, when I snatched up all the games the Yankees had $5 seats, I wanted to go to the new building. When I missed out on the $5 seats this year, I thought I would only go to one game and try to get upper deck behind home plate. However, looking up Stubhub, I saw that someone was selling right field box seats for $18 each, so I quickly bought them and went to last night's game.
We got there at about 4:30 because I wanted to soak in the building, both inside and outside. I walked through the Babe Ruth Plaza and around until we reached one of the gates. Walking inside, I saw we were in left field and you easily see the field from anywhere in the corridor, which is very wide, reminded me of the Prudential Center when I go to Seton Hall games. It was good to get in at left field, because we were able take a look around in the stadium and get a glimpse of the sightlines.
Eventually we reached our seats and the Yankees were taking batting practice. It was quite entertaining as Damaso Marte and Edwar Ramirez basically tried to outdo each other in shagging fly balls, with Marte being the Kevin McHale to Ramirez's Kent Benson (I'm sure no one who's reading knows who Kent Benson is, nuff said). Jonathan Alabadejo signed some autographs from at the right field wall, but most importantly, my sister ended up getting a ball from Xavier Nady when it was hit just shy of the stands and would of come to me if it went over. After the Yankees finished, the A's started batting practice and while my sister stayed looking for another ball, I took a seat and finally got a chance to soak in the stadium.
Looking around, it seemed to me that while everything in the stands was different, it was very familiar as well. The Yankees essentially modernized the classic stadium, keeping the dimensions and the seats for the most part were where the old stadium had them. It's also very nice to see the old frieze wrapped around the top of the building. However, the old stadium didn't have what looks like the biggest HDTV in history for the videoboard, plus they have an improved out of town scoreboard, with updated situations, and they have it closed captioned for the deaf. A bonus for the box seats is a TV above our seats where we can watch to see if a strike's a strike and other things that you see during an at bat.
The one thing that about the new building I don't like, there are too many inconviences. Everything that is said about the prices are true. I had a philly cheese steak that cost $10, though it was delicious and I felt that was money well spent. Then I took a look at the store and I know that I'll never buy anything there, since I prefer jersey, not T-shirts and the hats are overpriced. The Bleacher Creatures as any Yankee fan knows always chant "Box Seats Suck" and I don't blame them. Their seats are still benches (which I'm sure they aren't irate about) while I got to sit in a cushioned seat. However, the seats close to home plate (which had numerous empty seats) are a whole another level. They can't be reached from our seats, maybe enter where the players do and is only missing a moat to further the elitest perception of those seats. I don't blame companies from not wanting to be seen there.
Throughout the game, Nick Swisher seemed to be engaging everyone in the outfield during down time. He has become my favorite Yankee aside from Derek Jeter and that would be the case if he finished at .250 with only 20 hrs. Johnny Damon's HR came right over our section and my looked at the big screen and said she saw us in there on the replay. Also, poor Ryan Sweeney, he was mercilessly hecked and I wouldn't merciless if it didn't look like it bothered him, but he couldn't get off the field any quicker and was done as a hitter after the 5th inning. Of course, when the guy with a Capo Jeter jersey wanted the Bleachers to join them, they directed their chants at "Capo". Remember, if you sitting in box seats, don't even think of trying to get the Bleacher Creatures to join you, especially when they are open and have beer.
After Mo came in and the game was over, the exit was much quicker than ever and so was my first night at Yankee Stadium. I'm going back, maybe to strictly these games against the Oaklands and Baltimores so I possibly can get these outfield seats at discount. That way, I can finish the sightseeing that I have not begun to start.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Randomness while hoping to get my Wash "Natinals" jersey

- You know you're team is having a bad season when you not only misspell the team name on your jersey, but play in it and embarass yourself further.
- Meanwhile, the Caps are resorting to Ovie acting like Belichick and doing a bad job of it to try to rattle my Rangers. As I'm writing this, the Rangers are just about to play Game 3. They could put the series away with a win tonight. And for one of the few times, I will be very happy to be wrong and might cause me to never pick my teams rationally again.
- While the Washington sports scene is at worst a joke and at best terrible, the Chicago sports scene is looking great. The Hawks look great against the Flames, the Bulls have found their next star (unlike some of the phony stars like Elton Brand, Eddy Curry, etc.), the Bears actually have a QB, and baseball just started and both the Cubs and White Sox can be in the playoffs. Times weren't this good since MJ.
-As for the rest of the Stanley Cup playoffs, the Flyers finally sent their message to the Pens; they beat them. Of all this talk I'm hearing about stopping players from sending messages, it don't work when the other team don't bite and you keep losing. At the same time, Colin Campbell has been too inconsistent, as either you don't suspend Daniel Carillo or suspend Mike Cammalleri for the same cheap shot attempt. Also, if Milan Lucic was suspended for using the stick on Maxim Lapierre, that's fair but if suspend him for throw a punch with his glove on, that's ridiculous. Elsewhere, the Sharks are living up to their postseason reputation, but Jonas Hiller is playing great and unfortunately, the Blues can't find the answer to Roberto Luongo.
- Too little time to make broad generalization about the NBA playoffs, though the Lakers and Cavs are who we think they are. I caught only the 4th quarter of Mavs-Spurs, but it seemed like San Antonio had no answer for J.J. Barea, who looked like Tony Parker out there. I'm not too worried about Miami and New Orleans; Blazers and Magic I am a little more worried. Magic lack a real go-to-guy and if they play the Celtics or even the Bulls, I'm not conviced that they beat either team as they have two guys they can go to.
- The Yankees better hope that this is a weird coincidence that the ball is flying out of new Yankee Stadium. The long-term implications on having a bandbox is enormous as the Yankees couldn't buy anymore pitchers and from the lessons of the Rockies and the Rangers, you don't win by mashing them out of the park, unless it's a fantasy title. The weird thing is it seems like left field doesn't seem to keep the ball out as easily. Saturday's game had a few instances where left field can carry the ball out. As for Chien-Ming Wang, I mean 23 runs in 6 innings pitched can't be defended. I heard the Dizzy Dean's career was over after getting hit with a line drive. I won't say it over, but the Yankees should find a way to fake an injury so he can go to the minors on rehab.
- Just finished watching the 1st period of the Caps-Rangers, they look like they went on a two night bender and are hungover watching the Caps put the puck in the net. They're lucky it's not 5-0.
- What else can I say, Johan Santana is by far the best pitcher in the game and the only reason the Mets could make the playoffs are currently constructed. Also, Zack Greinke is leading my sleeper pick the Royals and more importantly my fantasy team to a good start with 20 scoreless innings and 34 since last year.
-Finally, I make my first appearance to Yankee Stadium tomorrow and am eagerly looking forward to it. As for CitiField, I'm hoping to go next week when the Marlins come to town. Now Doc Gooden signed the wall in the bar in CitiField and now the Mets are going to erase it because they don't want "graffiti". I'm sorry but if you consider a tribute to one of the best Mets (despite his troubles) of all-time graffiti, then I guess you must think it's vandalism when movie stars put their hand prints in Hollywood. Seems like the Mets will do everything to avoid putting up anything to do with the franchise.

Friday, April 17, 2009

The ultimate appitizer to the main course playoffs.

There is a feeling that this year's NBA playoffs are particularly anti-climatic, now that Kevin Garnett looks to be done for the year. The two players above are almost locks to make the NBA Finals. So does that make the NBA Playoffs a complete waste? As a basketball fan, I say no because in the 1st round, we have six series that are going to be interesting to watch and you can even see what to expect from the Cavs when they play Detroit. So lets start with them in the East.

#1 Cleveland vs #8 Detroit- If the Cavs are serious about winning, they will destroy the floundering Pistons. If the Pistons take this series to a sixth game, the Cavs failed and only make the road to the Finals tougher. This isn't like Boston last year who were thrown together and needed to learn to go through adversity, the Cavs have been able to roar through the 1st round before. I don't see any way LeBron let's them lose and the Cavs sweep.

#2 Boston vs #7 Chicago- So you have the KG-less Celtics taking on the 10th straight edition of the Baby Bulls. The Bulls had a golden opportunity to avoid this matchup on Wednesday and face the shaky Magic, but they embarassed themselves against the Raptors. Now, they get the champs who are much discussed without Kevin Garnett (as well as GM Danny Ainge, who had a heart attack). The Bulls will push the C's with ROY Derrick Rose, but the championship experience of Paul Pierce and Ray Allen will lead the Celtics in 6.

#3 Orlando vs #6 Philadelphia- Once again, the Magic are this year's honorary NBA TV series as they take on a Sixers team that stopped playing until the Cavs sat out their stars and beat them in Cleveland. Orlando has a great draw now that it's Philly and not Chicago. The best case for the Sixers is they have a third game at home. Unfortunately, the Sixers aren't important in Philly anymore so the Magic ride D-Ho and will win easily. And yes, I meant to write D-Ho for Dwight Howard. Magic in 5.

#4 Atlanta vs #5 Miami- The best series in the East features Dwyane Wade against the lovable Hawks who pushed the Celtics to 7 last spring. Atlanta has plenty of things you like: young, Joe Johnson is a legit go-to-guy at the end of games. If all things are equal, Atlanta beats Miami. Unfortunately for them, when Dwyane Wade is healthy and dominant, things aren't equal. He is the best player in the series and you don't go against the best player without a REALLY, good reason. Add the fact that Wade draws fouls when he's breathed on wrong, I see Heat in 7.

Western 1st Round

#1 L.A. Lakers vs #8 Utah- The only series in the West that you're pretty sure of the result. The Jazz are however, the last team the Lakers should be playing in the 1st round. The concede the PG advantage to Deron Williams, the coaching matchup is a push and the Jazz have a bench. Plus, they have a better home-court than either NO or Dal. If the Lakers had played Dallas or New Orleans, they beat them in at most five games. I think the Lakers win in 6 as Utah will steal a couple in Salt Lake City.

#2 Denver vs #7 New Orleans- Where I don't see the Hornets able to beat the Lakers in the 1st round, I certain think they will be in this series against the Nuggets. The good thing for the Hornets is that Tyson Chandler is starting to get healthier and might be a factor in this series. Of course, they have Chris Paul and they have an underrated roster, with James Posey, David West, etc. As for Denver, they rode their way to the 2nd seed behind Chauncey Billups stabilizing this team and giving Carmelo Anthony a legit chance to exit the 1st round. They also have many people who think they aren't a real contender in the West. If Chandler isn't healthy in this series, Denver will win. I think Chandler will be effective enough and last year's playoff run helps CP3 and the Hornets win in 6.

#3 San Antonio vs #6 Dallas- All year, the Mavs have been in my eyes the only one and done team in the West playoffs. All of a sudden they get the 6th seed and will get to play a Manu-less San Antonio team. The Spurs were on my short list back on April Fools Day, but the loss of Ginobili knocks them out of any title hunt. As for this series, the Spurs you would think should have no trouble with the Mavs, but remember, Dallas is playing their best basketball right now, they split the series with the Spurs and beat them in a Game 7 in San Antonio back in 2006, when Dirk Nowitzki had his greatest game. Unless Tim Duncan averages 25-15 in this series, Tony Parker could average 30 and the Mavs still win in 7.

#4 Portland vs #5 Houston- As good as the Mavs finished, the Rockets gave up home-court in that final game loss to them and now have to go on the road to take on a very good Trail Blazers team. The Blazers when they had the chance to win home-court crushed the Nuggets and are everyone's sleeper. What's not to love, Brandon Roy is going to be the next superstar in this league, they have depth everywhere and are young to boot. They will be fighting the Lakers every year pretty soon. As for the Rockets, they are in the same boat as Denver, needing to win a series. Houston can get a game early using the experience they have, but in the end, Roy's the best player and the Blazers win in 7.

Based on these picks, you would have Cavs-Heat, which would be interesting to see how many games Wade can take; Celts-Magic, where we find out if the Magic are for real and if the Pierce and Allen can carry the C's. The West would have Hornets-Mavs, where we find out if the Mavs can handle Paul or if the Hornets blow them out again and Lakers-Blazers, which could be the Lakers toughest series. Eventually, it will be Lakers-Cavs in the NBA Finals and I think the Cavs win in 6 and King James gets his crown.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Cycle is on Twitter

I have joined Twitter so if you want my instant, emotional and semi-incoherent thoughts on a game, follow me at

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Stanley Cup preview extravaganza

The Stanley Cup playoffs begin tonight and it's time to have the official NHL playoff preview. No teaser today as the games begin in an hour and I want to finish this before the opening games. Let's start in the West:
Western Conference
#1 San Jose vs #8 Anaheim- The worst possible matchup for the Sharks as this team who needs to get rid of the choker label in the playoffs has to play the 07 Cup champ Ducks. The Ducks still have a lot of the same guys who won and could use that experience in this series. For the Sharks, they have to have a big series from Joe Thornton, who needs to shed his label of being the A-Rod of hockey and failing to show up. One of these years, the Sharks have to win and I'm not big on Jonas Hiller. Sharks in 6.
#2 Detroit vs #7 Columbus- Welcome to the Stanley Cup Playoffs Blue Jackets, your reward, the defending champ Red Wings. However, the Jackets have the advantage at goal with rookie Steve Mason against the struggling Chris Osgood (or Ty Conklin). The Wings are better in every other way so it comes down to Mason standing on his head. That being said, I think he will and the Wings tend to lose early every few years so I have the Jackets in 6.
#3 Vancouver vs #6 St. Louis- The most surprising team in the playoffs are the Blues who are a year ahead of schedule by making this year's playoffs. John Davidson has done a great job turning around this franchise from doormat to playoffs. They get to play the Canucks who had a great second half to win their division and a lot of pressure to go far in the playoffs with the Sedin twins and Mats Sundin. I would love to take JD's team here and they will make this a long series, but I think the Blues won't have an answer for Roberto Luongo and the Canucks win in 7.
#4 Chicago vs #5 Calgary- The Hawks are back in the playoffs for the first time since 2002 and will play a struggling Flames team. They have been hurt and lost their chance to have home-ice in the first round and now start on the road. The Flames are one of my favorite teams, Jarome Iginla is the best example of a Mark Messier in the NHL that we currently have, and that is ALWAYS a good thing. That said, the Hawks win in 5. They are playing well and the Flames aren't, plus Nikolai Khabibulin knows how to beat the Flames, going back to the 04 Cup Finals.
Now to the East:
#1 Boston vs #8 Montreal- The hatred between the Habs and B's runs deep and these two Original Six foes gave us a preview of things to come last Thursday. The Canadiens have enjoyed a 24-7 series advantage and in 2002 and 2004 have beaten the Bruins as an 8th seed and 7th seed. However, the Bruins are better in every way against the Habs and it will be the B's in 5.
#2 Washington vs #7 NY Rangers- We have come to my team, the Rangers, who played their best week of the year last week after beating the Habs and sweeping Philly to make the playoffs. They now get to play Ovie and the Caps who have Stanley Cup buzz. Like our other 2-7 matchup, the only edge the Rangers have is in net with Henrik Lundqvist. He needs to be absolutely great and hope Jose Theodore is poor in net since the Rags can't score with consistency. Anyone who thinks the Caps will win in 4 or 5 are nuts, but unfortunately I don't pick with my heart in this blog. Caps in 7 and let's move on.
#3 New Jersey vs #6 Carolina- The best goalie battle is here as MAAAAAAAAARRTY Brodeur and the Devils take on Cam Ward and the Canes. Sometimes, like with the Rangers, I have to go against my heart and pick against my team; other times, my heart and brain are in sync and I'm picking the Canes in 5. They have outplayed the Devils all year and only lost the last game to them when they sat out Ward. They have been one of the hottest teams in the East since March 1 and could be a sleeper Cup contender.
#4 Pittsburgh vs #5 Philadelphia- The rematch of last year's East finals will start in the same city as it did last year after the Flyers blew a 3-2 lead Sunday to the Rangers. Now they have to go to the Igloo to face Crosby, Malkin and the Pens. The Flyers had been my sleeper in the East all year since they can score with anyone, but they are maddening inconsistent and the Pens having Game 7 home is the difference, plus they are the other hot team in the East. Pens in 7.
Stanley Cup prediction:
The Sharks will find a way to finally get to the Stanley Cup finals and they will take on the Penguins, as much as it pains me to say. The Sharks win the Cup in 7 as Crosby must wait yet again for his championship. Now watch the Red Wings and Devils go to the finals.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Randomness while growing my playoff beard

- April is the best sports month of the year because it seems like every sport has a major event going on. Baseball begins, the NBA and NHL start playoffs, the Final Four takes place in the month, the NFL Draft is this month and this is the month when golf matters as the Masters takes place
- I love the Masters because there is a drama that you don't see in any other golf tournament. If you look at the other majors, the US Open is always too tough that it's about making pars, the British Open is too effected by weather and the PGA Championship is the clear No. 4. The Masters is the best major because of the setting at Augusta and the fact that the players have more control of how they play than most events. You can score low at Augusta or play awful, whereas most US and British Opens you can be +3 and still be alive on Sunday. You try to survive those Opens; you can't survive Augusta, you win the green jacket.
-Now that its said, last Sunday's final round was the best day of golf I've watched in my life. It was 5 and half hours of drama that left you feeling satisfied. Tiger and Phil were playing who can top whom and for once in his career, Phil outplayed Tiger. We have waited all these years to see if Phil can play with Tiger and do well when it counts, and he did. The second shot from the 7th rough that Mickelson stuck close to the pin was one of the best ever. The galleries at Augusta entirely followed Tiger and Phil while the leaders had almost no one around. Unfortunately, we were robbed out of perhaps the best final round in Masters history when both men ran out of gas and Phil made some dumb decisions, such as going with the 9 iron at 12 and hitting the water and overthinking his 5 foot eagle after Tiger missed his. As for Tiger, he didn't putt Tiger-like as putts he always makes he missed on Sunday.
- It almost was ruined until Kenny Perry bogeyed his last 2 holes setting up a three-man playoff with Angel Cabrera and Chad Campbell. I was surprised Cabrera made it as it seemed he had nothing going up until the 13th hole. Meanwhile, Perry seemed to wrap it up on 16 when he birdied, but he came back and we had the playoff. It almost seemed like all three men put themselves in big trouble and nearly all made a great shot to save par. Cabrera hit a tree from the brush and ended up on the fairway, then hit it within 6 feet. Perry chipped it 2 inches from the cup to save par, while Campbell got out of the sand to about 4 feet, but missed his putt and was out. Then on 10, Perry's second shot was back and left and Cabrera hit the green and won. Great drama and saved the tournament as the best in the 00s.
- Unfortunately, The Cycle was not able to gain access to either CitiField or the new Yankee Stadium for the openers. But to my faithful readers, who I hope are still faithful after my week off, I will try to get to both ballparks and give my review.
- It seems like this season of 24 has found a way to go from solved threats to new villians more often than I can remember. Of course, it's been two years since the show has been on. All I know is it's good to have Elisha Cuthbert back in my life without the phrase "sloppy seconds" attached.
- NFL schedules were released today and apparently this is big news seeing as ESPN must devote 3 hours on it. I understand the NFL network trying to make this a big deal, they have to fill programming, but I refused to watch ESPN's coverage out of principle.
- Of course, I had to take a look at the schedule. The Giants have a 3 game road trip after opening with Washington at home which isn't tough aside from the first game at Jerry Jones new palace. After that, the schedule gets easier as they get Dallas and Philly at home late and end with Carolina and at Minnesota just like last year. The Jets have the easiest schedule in the AFC East as they get to avoid Buffalo and play the Bills in Toronto and they close out Giants Stadium playing the Bengals. By the way, shame on you NFL for having the Jets close out Giants Stadium, this is named for the Giants and it's their stadium. They better have the Giants open the new stadium next year. Week 11 looks good as the Giants host Matty Ice and the Falcons, Dallas hosts Washington and the Jets go to New England.
- It's great that the Padres, Mariners and Orioles have had good starts; let's not get carried away. It's not football.
- Sad week in baseball, RIP Nick Adenhart, Harry Kalas and Mark Fidrych
- As we close another NBA season, I just want one thing: for once, I want the Knicks in the bottom 3. Please, just once let me get to the commercial of the NBA Draft Lottery with the Knicks not off the board.
Before the puck drops in Washington and Pittsburgh, I will have my Stanley Cup preview.
UPDATED 11:23 AM: I forgot to make mention of Oscar De La Hoya's retirement and as a boxing fan, I know that Oscar was overrated based only on the amount of attention he got. He was the face of his sport since Mike Tyson tattooed that face. From 1992-1999, he was in the conversation as best pound-for-pound fighter in the world along with Roy Jones Jr. Then he fought Tito Trinidad, led for much of the fight and decided to keep away for the last few rounds, which cost him the fight. He never was the same as the next year he lost the first of two to Sugar Shane Mosley. He still had good fights, particularly his win over Fernando Vargas, but by the end, he was fighting off his name when he stepped in against Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao. So where is his place in history? He will be remembered as the most memorable and polarizing figure in boxing for his era, in an A-Rod sort of way. Very good fighter, but never beat the best of his weight during his or their primes.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

A return to my childhood

Tonight is Wrestlemania 25 live in Houston. Back when I was younger, I used to love wrestling. I go back to the days of Hulk Hogan, Macho Man Randy Savage, The Ultimate Warrior, etc. I've watched more greats like Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock. However, around 2002-03, I haven't been a serious wrestling watcher. At that point, the WWF became the WWE (which in it of itself is less appealing), they split the rosters between Raw and Smackdown, still had the awful Michael Cole working for them (and do to this day), and they brought in too many of the older WCW stars after the WWF bought them.

Since then, I have no regrets leaving wrestling as there hasn't been a great star since The Rock. Triple H is what he is, will always be underrated because he's not as popular, but a better villian. John Cena's a joke, Randy Orton has no charisma and The Undertaker and Shawm Michaels shouldn't be wrestling still. I always found Edge more enjoyable when Christian was his tag team partner and the Hardys did too many TLC matches for me to take Jeff Hardy serious. Add the fact that now so many wrestlers die before age 45, it made it easy to stop caring.

Even though I'm not the watcher of wrestling I once was, two events still peak my interest, Royal Rumble and Wrestlemania. The Royal Rumble match will always be enjoyable, no matter who's wrestling, because the rules are flawless. As for Wrestlemania, it's the Super Bowl of Wrestling and you hope to see a great moment occur as has happened in the past. Now if you want to read about the event itself, my friend Teddy from Sorts of Sports has the preview live from Houston. I, however, will offer a list of the ten best Wrestlemania matches, in chronological order with Youtube links.

WM 1- Hogan and Mr. T vs Rowdy Roddy Piper- started it all, gets on this list for that real alone
WM 3- Macho Man Randy Savage vs Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat- You know it's a great match when when it outshines a main event that I'm about to put next.
WM3- Hulk Hogan vs Andre the Giant- Arguably the most important match in the history of the WWF as the baton is passed to Hogan during arguably the greatest Wrestlemania ever
WM6- Hulk Hogan vs The Ultimate Warrior- Another passing the torch match as Warrior beat Hogan for the title; bonus points as a face vs face without a heel turn to result.
WM10- Shawn Michaels vs Razor Ramon- This was the first ladder match in the history of the WWF and both Michaels and Ramon put on a show and once again proved to change the sport, in a Jimmy Snuka jumping off the cage at MSG kind of way.
WM12- Bret Hart vs Shawn Michaels- those two fought in the first Iron Man match in the WWF and there wasn't a fall for the whole 60 minutes. They fought to a sudden death fall in overtime and Michael hit Sweet Chin Music twice for the win. Also remembered for Michaels flying in to the ring from the rafters. If you only look at the match itself, not the aftermath, it's the best ever.
WM13- Bret Hart vs Steve Austin- Great submission match which started Stone Cold to stardom; iconic image of Austin's face dripping with blood. Greatest non-title match in Wrestlemania's history.
WM14- Shawn Michaels vs Stone Cold- Austin's first WWF title win with Mike Tyson as the special enforcer and Michaels fighting through a broken back to put Austin over.
WM2000- Edge and Christian vs The Hardys vs The Dudleys- started a series of TLC matches but this itself was a straight ladder match.
WM 18- Hulk Hogan vs The Rock- Match reuniting the wrestling fans of old and those of the current time.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

BREAKING NEWS: Michael Jordan will be voted into the Basketball Hall of Fame

I haven't seen anything released yet, even though I saw the news that C. Vivian Stringer, David Robinson, John Stockton and Jerry Sloan will be inducted, so I figured I would break the news that Michael Jordan will be announced as one of the newest members of the Basketball Hall of Fame on Monday.

MLB Preview

Tomorrow is the 1st game of the baseball season, even though it should be Monday. You should be able to watch the 1st day of baseball, followed by the National Championship, ending with One Shining Moment. But now it's time for the official preview of the upcoming baseball season by me here at The Cycle.

Starting in the NL East, we have probably the most competitive division in the NL. Once again, the Mets and Phillies are the favorites and I see both teams making the playoffs. The additions of K-Rod and JJ Putz fix one of the worst bullpens in baseball and the Mets should be in. I also think the Phillies did good by adding Raul Ibanez to replace Pat Burrell. The Braves and Marlins will be in the race, but ultimately are lacking a true contender since the Braves still have a weak bullpen and a lesser rotation, while the Marlins have a poor defense and I think still depend on the long ball a little too much, especially for a young team. No need to discuss Washington.

The NL Central is the Cubs title to lose; they are clearly the class of that division. They are better on offense and have the best pitching, certainly in the Central, maybe in the league. I think Kevin Gregg will prove to be a good replacement over Kerry Wood, the rotation is better than what the Phillies and Mets can offer and their lineup, overall, is better than the West can provide. As for the rest of the division, the Cardinals are always better than you think because of La Russa and Pujols, the Brewers can still hit, so they should be above .500. The Reds are the sleeper in the division that everyone's talking about with good reason; they have good young talent in both the lineup and the pitching staff. Houston should come back to the pack and the Pirates are the Pirates; one of these years they have to win, though.

The NL West should go to the Dodgers if they continue to get great play from Manny. They also have a lineup that pretty good for that division, once you start looking at the DBacks and Giants. Both teams are pitcher-heavy and are better in that aspect than the Dodgers. The Giants rotation is slightly better than Arizona's now that Randy Johnson moved there, along with last year's Cy Young Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain. If San Fran can get anything from there lineup, they can beat the Dodgers. Colorado and San Diego are non-factors in the race.

Moving to the AL East, the toughest division in baseball. The Yankees, Red Sox and Rays are the three best teams and unfortunately one will miss the playoffs entirely. The questions surrounding the three are as follows: Are the Yankees too old and how does A-Rod's early absence and subsequent return effect them? The Red Sox have to worry about whether or not David Ortiz and Mike Lowell can comeback and if they can get anything out of Brad Penny and John Smoltz. The Rays need to avoid the post-Series hangover and a lesser bullpen. I think the Rays are here to stay and I'm a little more concerned with the Yankees, mainly because their offense was the problem and I think that they will be the team left out. And if you think this is in the words of Bill Simmons a reverse jinx, well... Blue Jays are cursed to be in the AL East, because they are better than .500 but might end up trading Halladay. The Orioles have a good lineup and need the pitching to continue improvement.

The toughest division to pick a winner is the AL Central because any of the 5 teams could win. I don't think the White Sox will be one of them. The Tigers could bounce back, but I think they also will make some trades to lower payroll (Cabrera/Ordonez to the Red Sox?). The Royals I think will be good this year and finish over .500, but they will fall short of the title. So it comes down to Cleveland and Minnesota. The Twins always play well, solid pitching and timely hitting. But they will miss Joe Mauer in the beginning and I think the Indians will bounce back. They were kind of unlucky last year and hopefully bounce back years by Travis Hafner and Victor Martinez, another strong year by Cliff Lee and a better bullpen with Kerry Wood and they will win the Central.

The AL West could be interesting if the Angels start slow. Once again, they have injuries to the rotation with John Lackey and Ervin Santana missing time. They also lost more than anyone with Mark Teixeria, Frankie Rodriguez and Jon Garland leaving. But they still should win a weak division with Bobby Abreu providing insurance in the lineup, Brian Fuentes and Jose Arredondo the strength of the bullpen and an early return for both starters. The Rangers have the same story, different year: plenty of hitting, no pitching. The A's could put it all together if Matt Holliday and Jason Giambi can hit, Eric Chavez plays a full year and the young pitching comes of age. If not, expect them to sell by the deadline. The Mariners will be better than last year's putrid effort, but they aren't a .500 team.

Award winners:
MVP's: Albert Pujols (NL), B.J. Upton (AL)
Cy Young: Johan Santana (NL), Roy Halladay (AL)
ROY: Jason Motte, Stl (NL), Matt Wieters, Bal (AL)
Manager: Dusty Baker, Cin (NL), Eric Wedge, Cle (AL)

Playoff predictions
DS: Red Sox over Angels, Rays over Indians
Cubs over Mets, Phillies over Dodgers
LCS: Rays over Red Sox, Cubs over Philles
WS: Cubs over Rays

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

NBA Power Poll

Two weeks from today will be the last day of the NBA season. It appears that 1 or 2 teams currently out of the playoffs have a chance to pass one of the bottom teams for a playoff spot; the rest are in the Blake Griffin sweepstakes. As for the playoff seeds, the East looks close to being set, while the West is completely insane. So I figured it's time to rank the order of NBA teams from 30-1 with the top team most likely to win the title. Without further adieu:


30. Sacramento- Could makes its return to Kansas City hand in hand with the NHL's worst team, the Islanders.

29. LA Clippers- Worst owner in the NBA, worst GM/Coach in the league, constant ridicule by their most famous season ticket holder (sorry Billy Crystal) and the cure for this is to hire Isiah Thomas, (insert joke here)

28. Washington- The bad news, Gilbert Arenas still has 5 years left on his deal. The good news, you can watch Ovie and the Caps in its place.

27. Memphis- It's going to be tough to stay competitive now that Calipari left for Kentucky...oh wait a minute, wrong Memphis.

26. Minnesota- All I know about the Timberwolves is that Kevin McHale is now coaching the team to the ground. Let's move on.

25. Oklahoma- The former Sonics actually have some pieces to be a good team next year. In a related story, there still is no NBA team in Seattle.

24. Golden St.- The glow from the successes of 2007 are fading and Nellie wants to go. This is the perfect time to salute the best home-court in the league with this.

23. Toronto- The Au Revoir Canada season is coming up for the almost departed Chris Bosh.

22. New York- 2010 2010 2010 2010 2010 2010 2010 2010 2010 2010

21. New Jersey- Looks like the Nets have taken the example of their fearless leader VC and are mailing in the season.

20. Indiana- Take solace in the fact that the whole world knows that Danny Granger is a superstar.

19. Milwaukee-Unlike the Bucks,ho have none, sorry Michael Redd.


18. Detroit- They turn out to be the odd team out in the East. Just thank Joe Dumars for the Pistons failures this year and for finally seeing the effects of taking Darko over Melo.

17. Charlotte- Congratulations Bobcats, you get to play LeBron for 4 games before joining MJ on the golf course.

16. Chicago- Imagine if Mikey D chose the Bulls over the Knicks. Derrick Rose could of been an All-Star this year.

15. Phoenix- Amare Stoudamire ain't walking thru that door, Joe Johnson ain't walking thru that door and Mike D'Antoni ain't walking thru that door.

14. Dallas- read Charlotte, replace Lebron with Kobe and MJ with Cuban.


13. Philly- In the words of Gus Johnson " It's about to get serious." The Sixers have played much better since Brand's injury. They must get in the 4-5 matchup to have any chance to win a playoff series, but don't completely sleep on them.

12. Atlanta- The Hawks should have home-court in the 1st round and last year proved that they can play well at home. Unfortunately, they won't beat the Cavs in a 7-game series, only hope to scare them.


11. Utah- This team is very simple to understand, they win at home, struggle on the road. In the group of 6 who can finish somewhere between 2nd and 7th so obviously could win a round like they did the past two years. They could be in the West final if they get the right matchup.

10. Portland- I love this team, they are very young and will be a factor in the West for many years. Unfortunately, this year won't be it. But Brandon Roy can now get national recognition as one of the best players in the league.

9. New Orleans- Another team like Utah who can reach a West final with the right matchup, and has a better chance with CP3 on their side. I wouldn't be surprised if they played the Spurs and beat them.


8. Miami- Whenever Dwyane Wade is on you're team, anything can happen. They should beat Cleveland, Orlando or Boston, but he could score 40, he can hit the final shot, he can get Bennett Salvadore as an official, we don't know. Just don't say they (he) can't.

7. Denver- Everyone is down on Denver, but I happen to think they will win a series. This is the year Carmelo proves to be on the level of Lebron and Wade. Billups brings the championship experience and could finally be in a series which they are the better team.

6. Houston- Just when Tracy McGrady decides to get surgery and miss the playoffs, the Rockets look good enough to finally get out of the first round. The team is better without him, Yao has stayed healthy and Artest is playing for a contract. Of course, the West changes too frequently that you can't be certain what matchups will occur.
5. Orlando- This team is good enough to win, they have Howard, the modern day Bill Russell (needs championships to maintain the comparison), they have Turkoglu and Lewis who can extend defenses with their 3's, Alston has replaced Nelson at PG and they haven't lost a step and could have home court against the Celtics. That being said, they are the sleeper of the contenders and I don't think they can crash the East finals if the Celtics are healthy.
4. San Antonio- I thought about putting the Celtics here, but I'm a little worried about the Spurs. Ginobili hasn't been healthy for a long period of time and they could very well end up 4th in the West. You can never count out the Spurs, Popovich is the best coach in the league, Duncan and Parker will always show up and a healthy Manu is the X-factor who could win a title. Plus the supporting cast is younger with guys like Roger Mason.
3. Boston- The defending champs are in real trouble if Garnett can't get healthy. They look like they will be 3rd in the East, behind Orlando and would need to win a series in Orlando. W/o Garnett, they lose in the 2nd round because they can't contain D-Ho with the backups. So, why are they 3rd? Because I think Garnett will be there for the playoffs and I think they are the only Eastern team capable of winning a game in Cleveland.
2. L.A. Lakers- This season, the goal was to win a championship. To get back respect after the Celtics took their heart in Game 6 last year. Kobe has been good this year and has picked his spots. Trevor Ariza has stepped up and is a capable 6th man. I think Andrew Bynum will be back, especially after what we saw yesterday. They have all the tools to win a championship, and I don't see why they will lose.
1. Cleveland- Except for the LeBrons. The Cavs are closing in on home-court throughout the playoffs. They have lost once at home all year, ONCE. Only the 86 Celtics have done that. Mo Williams proved to be the biggest acquisition of the season and this team has the supporting cast to win it all. They have the player to win it all, who clearly has improved this season. LeBron now plays with more of a chip on his shoulder and tries to outdo guys like Kobe and Wade. I think they have to be the favorites.