Right now is one of those turning points in the sports year. NBA Basketball is heading toward the playoffs. College basketball is at the Final Four. Baseball is about to start. And, the offseason in the NFL is heating up with trades, free agent signings, player releases, and the upcoming college draft. I could write about sports every day, but I try to limit myself. Sports is like a soap opera without the romance. There's always something going on, but if you don't watch carefully, it seems like the plot moves at a snail's pace.
Here are some updates on the sports I follow most closely:
- Celtics -- the Celtics are limping into the playoffs with lots of injuries, most notably Kevin Garnett. They are expected to get most people back as they head into the playoffs, but they won't have a chance to get everyone playing together until then. That's pretty risky. I'd love to think that they can pull it together, and they should beat their first round opponent no matter what. But, they'll probably face Orlando in the second round. That will be tough if they are short staffed. I was at the game vs. the Charlotte Bobcats on Wednesday (Celtics win in 2 OT). Although it was an exciting win, it raised a lot of concerns for me. From my seats, we can see and hear the players and coaches. I've never seen the Celtics players arguing with each other so much. Nor have I seen the coaches so upset with defensive lapses. They weren't on the same page. On the positive side, it's great that they got a win against a team that always plays them tough when they were clearly not in synch. On the other hand, you'd expect them to be more in synch this late in the season, even with the injuries and new players. They can't afford to be battling themselves when they are in the playoffs.
- Baseball -- I love the baseball season. Baseball is like the background music of spring and summer. The frequency of the games and the pace of each game lend themselves to following along while you are doing something else. So, I listen to baseball while working around the house, driving somewhere, or even hanging around the pool. I get excited about the start of baseball season just like I can't wait for Spring to arrive. Once again this year, the Red Sox and my Yankees appear to be the class of the major leagues. They have the deepest pitching staffs, the key to victory. The Red Sox are not as interesting without Manny Ramirez, but they will be more stable. The Yankees have turned over a good portion of their roster and loaded up on the top free agents this offseason. I think that injuries will be a big factor this year. If one team or the other has a key injury, they'll be at a big handicap. At full strength, the teams are pretty evenly matched. Both teams start on Monday. The Yankees don't open their new stadium until April 16th. Go Yankees!
- The NFL -- I'm very excited about the Patriots this year. They've made some good free agent signings to beef up their secondary and to add depth on offense. They've got a lot of draft picks that should yield some nice players. And, with Brady coming back, there is a lot of anticipation. It's too early to think about football too much, but my only real concern about the Patriots is that they still have a relatively old team by NFL standards. The draft picks may help with that if they can select a bunch of guys who make the roster.
One last thought is about the use of Twitter by athletes. Shaquille O'Neal was one of the first to really use Twitter to communicate with fans. I noticed that Paul Pierce has used Twitter to give tickets away to adoring fans. The funniest was the April Fool's joke from college basketballer Hasheem Thabeet who tweeted that he had failed a drug test! Gutsy! Imagine some UConn booster desperately calling his bookie trying to get his bet cancelled. Luckily for the Huskies, Thabeet was kidding and will play in the Final Four. Nevertheless, I'm picking North Carolina.