This and That
Each week I'll give my thoughts on the world of sports:
• John Madden made headlines when he announced his retirement. When you heard Madden's voice calling an NFL game, you knew that contest had meaning. He was an absolute icon and legend who set a high standard in the broadcast booth. His insight and knowledge was so, so impressive. Madden's popularity with his EA Sports video game as well as his commercials made him a treasure. He will be sorely missed on the tube this NFL season.
• What is going on with Chien-Ming Wang of the Yankees. It is early in the season, so one or two bad outings, you can understand that happens. When you look at the way he was shelled at home on Saturday by the Indians, failing to last two innings? Is there something wrong with him? This is a guy who won 19 games two seasona go, and now he is 0-3 with an ERA of 34.50! He has given up 23 earned runs in six innings pitched so far this season! Opponents are batting over .600 against him. The Yankee rotation may need a shakeup considering his disappointing start.
• Congratulations to Andy Roddick. No, he didn't win a grand slam over the weekend, though it seems like he hit one with his marriage to Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Brooklyn Decker. Wow! My friends, Roddick has something special to celebrate!
• John Tortorella is making a difference in New York already. The Rangers have a 2-0 lead over the Washington Capitals with the series moving to Madison Square Garden for game three. The Blueshirts have momentum on their side and Tortorella gives the team discipline, inspiration and motivation. It helps to have a hot goalie too, and Henrik Lundqvist was brilliant in game two.
• Do you think LeBron James sent a loud and clear message? In game one vs. the Pistons, he showed how determined, dedicated and focused he is on that goal of winning an NBA title. King James put up 38 points while dominating in every phase of the game. It is amazing to think that he would have been out of college for a couple of years if he had gone that route!
• The loss of Kevin Garnett was a tough break for the Boston Celtics. It was surprising to see Doc Rivers' team fall in game one at home to the Bulls. Diaper dandy Derrick Rose put on quite a show in his NBA playoff debut. He tied the record set by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar of 36 points in his first postseason game. Rose also showed tremendous composure by going 12-for-12 from the foul line, sparking Vinny DelNegro's team. DelNegro grew up in Massachusetts, so that win had special meaning.
• Do you think George Karl is happy that the Nuggets acquired Chauncey Billups from Detroit for Allen Iverson? The Nuggets finished second in the Western Conference and the addition of Billups provided leadership, maturity and a winning mindset from a player who has that championship ring. Billups hit 8-of-9 trifectas and finished with 36 points in a game one rout of the Hornets. My friends, this could be a very dangerous team this postseason; Denver has a lot of different offensive weapons and it is more than just Carmelo Anthony these days.
• Gary Sheffield hit his 500th career home run when the Mets beat the Brewers recently. He is the 25th player in major league history to accomplish that feat. Will that milestone mean a spot in the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. That used to be lock city when you hit 500, but this is a different era, so time will tell. I feel it is an amazing accomplishment to hit a baseball out of a ballpark 500 times.
• It was really a tough week in the world of sports with a number of big names passing. Phillies and NFL Films voice Harry Kalas died preparing for a broadcast in Washington, D.C. Mark "The Bird" Fidrych passed away in Massachusetts in an accident while working on his truck. Sorry to hear of the passing of a college football legend on Sunday as Army great Doc Blanchard died at age 84.