Scott Cordischi On Sports: Batten Down The Hatches!
Wednesday, January 01, 2014
I’ll let you determine whether that is a good or a bad thing.
Seriously, it has been a few months since I have posted my regular weekly piece here on the website. Having started a new fulltime job, it has required my complete attention leaving little free time for anything else.
With that said, I should have a few more hours in the week to dedicate to GoLocalProv.com starting right now. So here are some random thoughts as we all look forward to a terrific 2014:
-First let's address the white elephant in the room - winter storm Hercules. Not that they haven't been wrong before (sorry John Ghiorse!), but our local meteorologists are calling for 6-12 inches of the white stuff to get dumped on southern New England before all is said and done. As a result, things are already being cancelled and postponned for Thursday and Friday. And I can only imagine what the supermarkets will look like tomorrow. Get your bread and milk while it lasts!
-Speaking of storm-related news, the start time for the Brown-URI men's basketball game at Brown's Pizzitola Center Thursday night has been moved up from 7pm to 6pm. This is normally a game that sells out but you have to wonder how the weather might effect attendance. If the game ends up being postponned, we will update it for you here on GoLocalProv.com.
-I have said it before and I’ll say it again, we here in New England have been absolutely spoiled by the Patriots’ success. Pick your timetable: whether you start with Bob Kraft’s purchase of the franchise in 1994, Bill Belichick’s arrival in 2000 or Tom Brady taking over the quarterback position in 2001, no NFL franchise has come close to duplicating the success of the New England Patriots. During those time periods, no team has won more games, more division titles, more conference championships or more Super Bowls than the Patriots have. Yet, when New England loses a game, the “fellowship of the miserable,” as Rick Pitino once called Boston sports talk radio fans, whines and complains about this franchise like it’s the Jacksonville Jaguars. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great that Patriots fans are passionate about their team. It beats the alternative where fans don’t care at all. Still, this franchise, owner, coach and quarterback deserve more than a little slack. The 2013 season, to me, may be one of the most remarkable to date given the amount of injuries to key players the team has had to endure. Yet, here they are enjoying a bye as the #2-seed in the AFC following a 12-4 campaign. Unless your name is Steve from Fall River, I just don’t understand how you can’t be thrilled with that! This is not to say that if the Patriots fall at home next week in their Divisional Playoff game that I, and other Patriot fans, won’t be disappointed. We will! But do we really understand how lucky we are to have a team that is so well-run for such a long period of time like the Patriots are? You may not appreciate it now, but wait until the day that Kraft, Belichik or Brady are no longer around. Wait until this franchise goes through a tough stretch like the Miami Dolphins or the Buffalo Bills. If you are one of their constant critics, it will be then when you realize how foolish you really were.
-Isn’t it ironic that, despite all of the hype surrounding the recruiting classes for the Providence College Friars these past two seasons, it is LaDontae Henton who has clearly been Ed Cooley’s best recruit since he arrived on Smith Hill?
-While we’re on the subject of local college basketball, it appears that many URI fans are starting to realize that Rome wasn’t built in a day. While most are confident that Dan Hurley continues to be the right man for the job, it is going to take more time to build the program up to a point where it can compete near the top of the A-10 standings. While this year’s team clearly has much more talent than last year’s version of the Rams, there is still plenty of work to be done before Rhody enjoys success similar to that which it enjoyed in the late 90’s. Losing Jordan Hare has admittedly hurt the cause, but not to the point where this team would be considered a threat to compete for a spot in the NCAA Tournament. Patience, Rhody fans! Patience!
-SI’s Monday Morning Quarterback guru Peter King brought up an excellent point this week when he said that the NFL needs to rethink how it seeds team in the postseason. Take this year’s NFC Wild Card Games for example. You have an (11-5) New Orleans team as the 6th-seed visiting 3rd-seeded Philadelphia which is (10-6). San Francisco is the 5th-seed despite going (12-4). The 49ers will visit the 4th-seeded Packers in Green Bay (8-7-1) this weekend. King’s proposal would be for the team with the better record to have home field in the postseason and, in the event of identical records, allowing the division-winner to play at home. This all may be a moot point as rumor has it that league owners could expand the playoffs from 12 to 14 teams this offseason meaning only the top seed in each conference would get a bye and a total of 6 games would be played on Wild Card weekend instead of 4. Stay tuned!
-The Miami Dolphins were riding high following their win over the New England Patriots in week 15 of the regular season. But, after embarrassing losses to the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets, there are many questions about the franchise in South Florida. The first is: how could they not only lose, but lose so decisively to two teams that they are supposed to be inferior to? Head coach Joe Philbin must shoulder a lot of the blame for this one as his team seemed woefully underprepared for the Bills and Jets and their less-than-mediocre quarterbacks. Ryan Tannehill was also having a solid sophomore season and thought to be the answer to the franchises’ woes at the quarterback position which have been well-documented since the retirement of Dan Marino. However, his play in those two games was so bad that now many wonder if he can be an elite quarterback at this level. With rumors circulating that both GM Jeff Ireland and offensive coordinator Mike Sherman could be given their pink slips this offseason, 2014 will be a critical year for Miami. Should the Dolphins miss out on the postseason again, Philbin would likely be jettisoned and it would be back to square one for a once-proud Miami franchise that used to be the gold standard in the AFC East.
-The Boston Bruins, along with the Pittsburgh Penguins, appear to be the best the NHL’s Eastern Conference has to offer again this season. However, the Bruins have been dealing with a plethora of injuries and one has to wonder if they might not catch up to them at some point? The loss of Dennis Seidenberg for the season is a significant blow as he has been rock-solid on the blue line for Boston, particularly when it comes to the postseason. Still, it should be a fun spring once the Stanley Cup Playoffs roll around.
-Count me among those who does not think that it is such a bad idea to hand over the Red Sox’ starting shortstop position to Xander Boegarts in 2014. Yes, Stephen Drew’s defense last season, particularly in the playoffs, will be missed. However, Drew’s bat was as silent as a mime last year so no matter who mans the position, we should expect more production offensively out of that position this season.
-Villanova blowing an 18-point lead and losing to #2 Syracuse by 16 at the Carrier Dome last weekend did nothing to help the perception of the new Big East Conference. While the new Big East does appear to be solid from top to bottom, it lacks an elite team that can challenge for a spot in the Final Four.
-Some sorts predictions for 2014:
-The Patriots lose to the Broncos in Denver in the AFC title game. (I hope I’m wrong on this one, but that’s what my gut is telling me)
-My gut also tells me that there is no way that the overachieving Boston Red Sox can repeat as AL East Champions in 2014 but, as I look at the rest of the competition within the division, I don't see any team better than Boston. If Clay Buchholz is healthy in 2014, I see no reason why Boston cannot win the division again.
-Despite how bad the Eastern Conference is and the fact that they will be getting Rajon Rondo back soon, I still say that the Boston Celtics do not make the playoffs this year.
-Providence College makes it to the tournament. The National Invitational Tournament......again!
-As much as I like him personally, Boston College men's basketball coach Steve Donahue will be replaced at season's end.
-Sweden wins Olympic gold in the sport of men's ice hockey in Sochi.
-Creighton wins the new Big East regular season title.
-That’s enough for now. I said it last year and it’s worth repeating. With the snowstorm coming, it’s off to the super market for Ring Dings and Diet Coke. That’s right! You stock up on all of the bread and milk you want to. Those are my blizzard essentials!