Friday, December 15, 2006

Unrelated Topics Vol. 1

I was this close (imagine my fingers being really close together) to not posting today. Between the combination of having to get our monthly publication finished up and off to the printer as well as a general malaise toward writing anything of substantial merit this afternoon, well, I just couldn't seem to motivate myself. That is, until I decided that I'm too goddamned important to be bothered with trivial things like "deadlines" and "meetings". Seriously, what's my name, Toby? No sir. That's my Mexican brother in-law's name and, for the record, he thinks your deadlines are complete and utter bullshit too. Though, to be fair, he's lazy and very fond of something he calls "siestas". ( I think its some sort of themed Mexican party).
Anyway, since it's Friday and I'll be cutting out of this popsicle stand early this afternoon, I figured I'd put together a little post to help me (and you) waste some valuable company time. Here goes:
Lakeland HS:
These are YOUR National Champions of High School Football for the second consecutive year. Not only did they accomplish that rare feat this past weekend, they also managed to win their 45th straight game and 3rd straight 6A Florida High School Championship. That is embarrassingly impressive when you consider that Lakeland High is a public high school in a town of just under 90,000 residents, and that they did all of this in the most talent rich football state in America.
Just like the previous two years, Lakeland took on St. Thomas Aquinas in the state final. However, unlike the past two seasons, Lakeland had to dodge a bullet in order to capture their crown. Leading 35-7 going into the 4th quarter, Lakeland watched as St. Thomas's offense came alive, while their special teams kept the ball from Lakeland's powerful run game by recovering three consecutive onsides kicks. Before it was all said and done, Lakeland would need two OTs and a stop on 4th and goal at their own 1 yard line in the second OT in order to capture both the state and national championships. It was one of the greatest high school games that I've ever seen, replete with Division I talent all over the field for each team. To be honest, I didn't think that Lakeland would be able to hold on once the game moved into OT, but the Dreadnaughts showed an extraordinary level of guts and pride by continuing to fight until the game's very last play, when three different Lakeland defenders combined to bring down the ball carrier six inches from the goal line.
As I've mentioned here before, Lakeland has six, possibly seven, players who'll be suiting up for Florida next year. I'm excited about each and every one of them, but there's nobody on that team or, possibly, in the entire Gator recruiting class that excites me like Lakeland RB Chris Rainey. He's small and, some say, too light to be an impactful palyer at the collegiate level but there's no denying that he is a special player who has skills that cannot be taught. For further proof, look at the stats from his final three high school games: 68 carries, 878 yards, 10 TDs. Those are eye popping numbers no matter how you slice them. However, when you consider that these numbers were posted in the quarterfinals, semifinals and finals of the playoffs of Florida's largest high school classification level, they become the stuff of legend. Will Rainey be a star at UF? Who knows? Am I willing to bet against him proving critics wrong once again? Not a chance.

For more on the state title game, check out this diary from Lakeland's Twin O-Lineman (and Gator recruits) Maurkice and Michael Pouncey.

Orlando Magic:
I had planned on writing a pretty comprehensive post about the Orlando Magic earlier this week. However, between getting sick and the Magic beginning to look like the wheels are gonna fall off, I've decided to sit tight for a week or so. They've lost 5 of 6 ( 5 of which were at home, no less) and are battling some injuries on the perimeter. Turkoglu and Bogans are both out with ankle sprains and Grant Hill is wearing down after having to play an inordinate amount of minutes on the Magic's recent six game road trip. That's left the Magic playing with a lineup that has included the likes of Travis Diener, JJ Redick (who looks positively scared on the floor right now) and Bo Outlaw simultaneously. This is not the stuff that Division champs are made of. Hell, its not even the stuff that Final Four teams are made of.
It's far too early to panic, and frankly, the Magic are still a ways ahead of what most had predicted for them at the season's inception. However, the Magic cannot afford to waste many more in the manner in which they have recently (like, say giving up 23 pts to Andrea Bargnani, for example...Darko you are killing me.) by losing games against sad sack teams like the Raptors and Bobcats if they plan on getting Dwight and the rest of his young teammates some valuable post-season experience this spring.

One random NBA note: The Raptors have to be the whitest team since the mid-80s Celtics. Sure, they're not "white" technically since they're all Euros, but that doesn't change what your eyes perceive when watching the Raptors on the floor. For much of the second half on Tuesday, the Raptors had a lineup that consisted of: Jose Calderon, Jorge Garbajosa, Rasho Nesterovic, Bargnani and Morris Peterson. I'm willing to bet thats the first time in Mo Pete's life that he was the only black guy on the floor for his team. Just a guess.

Adam Morrison:

Prior to last June's NBA Draft when analysts were throwing out every race friendly comparison for Adam Morrison you could think of (Larry Bird, Rick Barry, Randall "Pink" Floyd) I kept thinking that he reminded me of one particular player so much that I was somewhat shocked that somebody hadn't at least thrown the comparison out. Of course, when you consider that its illegal to compare athletes across races, it makes much more sense. You see, that whole "breaking the law" thing matters to panty waists like Tim Legler and Stephen A. Smith but not to me. I've broken enough laws in my life to do three consecutive life sentences in an Albania prison, so does it really matter if I tack another charge on? Hell to the no. With that said, here it is, the best Adam Morrison you've ever seen (or heard): Glenn Robinson.

Think about it: Both are 6'7", marginally athletic and completely unstoppable on the collegiate level. Despite their reputations, both are more scorers than shooters. As for their shooting, both are far more effective from mid-range than from beyond the three point line. Both struggle to create shots off the dribble for themselves due to a lack of footspeed and ballhandling ability. Neither brings much anything else to the table as both are below average rebounders, defenders and passers. There's not a player I can remember in recent NBA history whose skills and body match up more identically with Morrison than Robinson. It's uncany actually.

Jerry wrote an interesting piece on fantasy football earlier today. It was certainly better than Geoff writing about his weight loss contest (By the way, isn't it only women who go out of their way to lose weight for weddings? Evidently not anymore...fag). When it comes to breaking down statistics and applying them to logical sports discussions, Jerry's one of the best I've read. He should really get paid for it. Good luck on that one Jerome.

Anyway, it got me to thinking about my fantsy season. It's been pretty successful as I am currently in the playoffs in two of the three league's I participate in. However, I can't take much credit for my overall success. I drafted pretty well. At least I thought I did. That was before both my starting QBs (for the two playoff leagues), Trent Green and Matt Hasselbeck went down with multi-week injuries. Combine that with some subpar production (Now an annual event!) from my receivers and I was quickly looking at a disasterous year in Fantasyland. That is, until I ran headlong into some of the finest waiver wire work that I've ever been a part of. It's not often that you can have multiple high impact free agent pickups in a single fantasy season, but that was exactly the case this year. As Jerry stated in his post, its either luck or skill (depending on your point of view) that determines your run in fantasy football. Whatever its called, it has certainly worked in my favor this year. Just look at this list of in-season pickups I've made this year. Mind you, this is two team worth of pickups:

Drew Brees
Vince Young
Rex Grossman
Maurice Jones-Drew-Griffith-Joyner
Ladell Betts
Travis Henry
Devery Henderson
Chris Henry

I don't care what you say, that's an impressive haul right there. You may look at some of those names and call me lucky. To that I say, go ahead, as long as you call me as lucky while kissing my fantasy dominating ass.


CFunk28 said...

First things first. I think you're going to destroy me in the playoffs this weekend. I had a Vikings-esqe crumble this season. Starting out 6-0 and needing a Monday comback in the last weekend to wrap up a spot. Clutch.

And you mentioned that Lakeland is a public school in a city of 90,000. Not to mention that its one of FOUR public high schools (LHS, Gibson, Kathleen, & Jenkins) in Lakeland. That makes it even more impressive to me.

Mark said...

You're right about Lakeland. What they've done is extremely impressive. I'm somewhat surprised that their accomplishments have gotten more national recognition.

Jerry said...

Nice work on the cross-race comparison. That's one of my favorite things going. Brilliant.

Can't wait for the Jeff Sa-marge-a draft talk.

Mark said...

Its terribly vexing that people who get paid to analyze these sort of things can't just compare players based on skills, athleticism and body type. I'm sure Jeff will be compared to guys like, say, Matt Jones, Ed McCaffrey and the like.

CFunk28 said...

It really bothers me that every good white small forward is compared to Bird. Morrison's paultry assist numbers this season should end any talk about him and Bird.

The Big Dog comparison is dead on.

I did actually hear a talking head compare Troy Smith w/ Drew Brees the other day. I was pretty shocked b/c it actually made sense.

Greg said...

Everybody knows Dirk Nowitzki is like a combination of Detlef Schrempf and Uwe Blab.

Mark said...

A much less talented combination, no less.

I heard that Drew Brees comparison recently too. I can't remember whgo said it either.

Jeremy said...

Herbstreit started the Smith/Brees comparison during the Michigan game. I'm almost positive that he was the first major guy who said it because I've heard it a bunch of times since then.