Although I am a huge sports fan, I haven't written much about sports lately. Politics and the economic meltdown have dominated my thinking. So, here's my recap on the sports I pay attention to:
Baseball -- When my Yankees were out of it, I paid much less attention. The Yankees were the fourth best team in the American League this year, after the Rays, Red Sox, and Angels. Unfortunately, that left them third in their division and out of the playoffs. Given all their injuries, I thought that the Yankees fared pretty well. But, I continue to want them to turn over their roster and focus on younger players. They have a lot of young talent, particularly pitching. They also have a lot of big salaries coming off of their books. I expect them to be big players in the free agent market, which is fine as long as they are signing players in their prime and not those on the way down. I was rooting for the Rays in the World Series as I thought they were a great story. But, I wasn't watching.
Football -- To me, the Patriots got much more interesting when Tom Brady went down. With his and other injuries (Laurence Maroney, Rodney Harrison, all the running backs), the fact that they are contending for a playoff spot is remarkable. I do expect them to have some ups and downs throughout the rest of the season, but every game is a challenge. Compared to past years where you expected them to win just about every game, this year is harder to predict. They've played incredibly well (Denver) and horribly (Miami). Interestingly, other AFC powers like Indianapolis and San Diego (who whipped the Patriots) are also struggling. This week's game at Indianapolis will be interesting. The Colts really can't afford to lose another game as they are only playing for the Wild Card at this point (unless the Titans collapse). The Patriots defense and running game needs to keep the game close as the Pats aren't good at playing catch up. Overall, I think that the Patriots will make the playoffs but won't advance too far. Given the injuries, that would be a very good outcome.
Basketball -- The Celtics look primed for another great year. Barring injuries, they should be even better than last year. Their Big 3 have a year of playing together under their belt. I expect Ray Allen to be a bigger contributor on offense as he was in the second half of the playoffs last year. Their young players (Rondo, Perkins, Powe, Davis, Pruitt) should all be improved. If Tony Allen keeps playing the way he did in 2007 before he got hurt, he'll make up for the loss of James Posey. When the starters played in the preseason, they looked excellent. They had a slow start against Cleveland in their opening game, probably due to the emotion of their championship ring ceremony. They showed how well they can play by holding Cleveland to 35 points in the second half. As long as they remain committed to defense, they'll be fine. It's hard to predict a champion this early in the season, but they have to be one of the favorites.
Go Pats! And, Go Celtics!