Thursday, April 26, 2012

AJ Jenkins??

To be totally honest, I had never heard of AJ Jenkins before in my life until the 49ers drafted him with the 30th overall pick and made him their #1 draft pick this year. Granted, I don't watch a lot of Big 10 football, but Jenkins was never mentioned in any mock draft I have read or any related draft article on the internet. I had absolutely no clue about this guy.

Turns out that Jenkins is a good receiver with above average hands and quick feet. However, he does not possess a powerful frame that you would look for in a #1 receiver.

Even though I'm not too thrilled about this pick (I really wanted San Francisco to move up and take David DeCastro or at least grab Cordy Glenn at their spot), I don't doubt that the 49ers made the best decision for themselves. After seeing how Aldon Smith panned out last season after many criticized his selection, I have a new level of respect for Trent Baalke and the 49ers front office. If they selected AJ Jenkins, they truly believe that he can be their franchise changing wide receiver.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Who's Out After Sharks Collapse

Remember how my last post was about how the Sharks stole Game 1 of their series. Well, they couldn't manage to steal another. In what is possible one of the worst playoff exits in recent memory for San Jose fans, the Sharks played terrible hockey and ended up losing the series without winning another game. They couldn't hold their 1-0 lead in the 3rd period in Game 5 and went on to lose in regulation, with Niemi surrendering two goals in the last 7 minutes of the game.

With the sharks playoff failure in mind, the question now falls to the front office management: who's out? A disappointing playoff exit such as this one always brings about buzz that a star player or coach is about to leave the team. Who will it be?

Friday, April 13, 2012

Sharks Steal One in St. Louis

The Sharks were outplayed, outfought, outgunned, outhustled, and overall out-hockeyed for a little more than 4 periods Thursday but still managed to steal the game in the 2nd overtime on a beautiful goal from the slot by Martin Havlat. The Sharks were totally overwhelmed with the Blues' defense and fast break offense throughout the game but they held strong behind a monumental effort by goaltender Antti Niemi, who basically kept the Sharks in the game during the 1st overtime and much of the entire match.

The game was a grinding, low-scoring one, and I will be one of many to tell you that the Sharks did not look good. But the important thing is that they got the win, which is the only thing that really matters in the playoffs.

Good teams play well most of the time and win most of their games, great teams win even when they are not on top of their game. Now, that doesn't mean great teams don't play well, and that also doesn't mean I'm calling the Sharks an elite team. They are not one, at least not this season. What I am saying is that if the Sharks want to make a Stanley Cup run this postseason, they have to win games where they struggle in addition to games where they dominate. You're not always going to play well, but if you win, it doesn't matter.

I'm glad that the Sharks got the win; now they must focus on playing well tomorrow. If they win tomorrow, they clearly will have the upper hand in the series. A loss reduces their series advantage to a slim one at best before returning home to the Shark Tank.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Ode to Zito

Since the Giants have the day off today, I feel like it is the perfect time to thank Barry Zito for a game well pitched yesterday. Who would have thought that Zito would get the first Giants win of the season? Who would have thought he was going to pitch a complete game shutout? Who would have thought that he would have a better WHIP than both Lincecum and Cain through their first start? Nobody.

If I told you at the beginning of the season that the Giants would average 6 runs a game through their first four games, you would have called me a liar. Nobody thought that all of a sudden, the Giants' bats would come to life and the Giants' arms would fall asleep. This team's strength is supposed to be the pitching, but pitching quite literally stank throughout the first 3 games. And then Zito starts the 4th game, throws a complete game shutout 4-hitter and turns around our season. And he had this great pitching performance, his best as a Giant, in notoriously hitter-friendly Coors Field in Colorado!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

The 82nd Game

The San Jose Sharks triumphs and struggles throughout this decade have been well documented by hockey fans everywhere. They have missed the playoffs just once since the 1997-98 season and have won the division outright 6 times in that span, including each season for the past four seasons. They have scored monumental upsets and pulled off blockbuster trades. They won the President's Trophy, which is awarded to the team with the most points in the season in 2008-09, and even made the Western Conference Finals last year, the very cusp of the Stanley Cup finals. However, amidst all this greatness, the San Jose Sharks have never won a Stanley Cup. They have never even been Western Conference Champions. Where does all this greatness go? To waste?

No, but...

The Sharks' nucleus of stars is on the decline. They have perhaps 3 more years in which they will have a legitimate shot at winning with this group of players. They must win soon.

They're lucky to even be in the playoffs right now. This season was an anomaly among all the other great seasons the Sharks have had in the last couple of years. They literally sucked this year. Sharks fans aren't used to this kind of hockey, losing hockey. Nobody is sure why it happened. But speculation is out there. Are their stars too old? Should Todd McLellan be fired? Should Thornton and Marleau be traded? 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Gregg Williams Tape

Alright, so I did hear about the Gregg Williams' tape on ESPN today. And I can't say it didn't disturb me. It did. But that's probably mostly because I'm a Niners' fan. And after hearing Gregg Williams instruct his players to target the Achilles' heel of each of San Francisco's skill players, I'm a bit shaken. But not because the speech was so bloodthirsty. Because it was about the Niners. I don't know what our team would've done without Smith at the helm and Gore in the backfield. They probably would've lost. But this story is not about the Niners, it's about the NFL as a whole.

The implications for Williams are great. The audio evidence is pretty damning; he clearly tells his players to target the following players:

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Matt Cain vs Tim Lincecum

When the ESPN notification popped up on my phone yesterday alerting me that the Giants had signed Matt Cain to a 6-year, $127.5 million contract, the largest for a right-handed pitcher, I jumped out of my chair and pumped my fist like Tiger Woods does after he sinks a putt. At that moment, I imagined the damage our pitching staff could do if it remained intact. And the Giants took the most important step Monday to keep this staff intact, inking Cain until 2017. This pairs Lincecum and Cain until at least 2013 and sets a precedent for the kind of contract Lincecum should receive when he becomes a free agent. I definitely hope that Tim resigns with the Giants in 2013, but I think that Matt Cain was the more important extension this year. Why? Because Matt Cain is more consistent.

From a quantitative perspective, Lincecum has a better career ERA than Cain (2.98 over 3.35) and about 100 more strikeouts in 50 fewer games. However, Cain has a higher WAR than Lincecum (23.4 over 23.2) and has been far more consistent throughout his career. Lincecum's ERA has fluctuated greatly from season-to-season whereas Cain has stayed with in the ballpark of 3.00 for most of his years. Cain has also had some of the worst run support in the league throughout his career, which accounts for his poor win-loss record. However, Lincecum clearly had the edge in career statistics.

Then why do I prefer Cain?