- Dick Vitale, College Basketball analyst
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Each week I'll write about the world of sports:
• The Detroit Lions picked quarterback Matthew Stafford of Georgia in the first round of the NFL draft. Let me tell you, I have a feeling this is going to play out the same way Atlanta benefitted from the selection of Boston College's Matt Ryan. You remember Ryan was the top draft choice of the Falcons a season ago and he did a fantastic job. I am not saying Stafford will have the same success in his first season, but he will bring excitement to Ford Field over the long run. He is taking over a club that went 0-16, so there is only one way to go, baby! It is up, up and up and I feel he will respond to this challenge in a positive way.
• I felt the Jets did a fantastic job trading up to get the quarterback it wanted, USC's Mark Sanchez in the number five slot. The Jets did not give up a first round pick in 2010, which was reportedly part of the asking price. Trading up 12 spots and giving up a first, second and three veteran players was not that steep a price. Sanchez has great skills, talent and ability and he should become the face of the franchise for years to come. He just needs more experience. Will he be able to win immediately in New York? That is a question he will have to answer right away. You know that the expectation level will be high.
• The ticket prices for baseball games in New York are simply out of control. Going to a game at Yankee Stadium or Citi Field for the Mets is now a farce if you want premium seats. You see so many empty seats when catching the game on the tube. Frankly, you can't blame the public. It is amazing to think it costs thousands to sit up front in the Bronx, and in this economy, it is very tough to expect a family of four to pony up that kind of money. For a family of four, paying hundreds of dollars a pop, that is so tough. Come on now, baseball is supposed to be an American pasttime, hot dogs, apple pie, ice cream ... you get it. This is a sport that is supposed to be for the family. Taking them out of the equation, basically telling them you can afford to go to the third deck or the bleachers is sad. Give me a break and something has to be done in the Big Apple to rectify that dilemma.
• The Yankees have other problems besides lower level ticket sales. The Bronx Bombers were swept over the weekend in Fenway. The pitching was a problem in the first two games of the series. The normally reliable Mariano Rivera gave up the game-tying home run to Jason Bay on Friday. Then New York blew a 6-0 lead on Saturday. Sunday night the pitching held together but the offense did not show up. Manager Joe Girardi has to be pretty frustrated. The Red Sox sent a loud and clear message that they are a team to watch, even though they did not get Mark Teixeira via free agency. The Yankees got him, but the Red Sox have a bunch of competitive guys with a lot of winning experience. They have a leader in manager Terry Francona, a guy who knows how to get the most out of people. The good news for the Yankees is Alex Rodriguez is expected back soon; he should provide an incredible lift as an offensive spark. The pitching is still a concern.
• The stars are shining during the NBA playoffs. LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade and Dwight Howard have been outstanding. Then again, did you expect anything else? These stars live for this moment, with the spotlight shining brightly. The NBA is about the superstar, and without them you cannot survive. These guys have a way of shining at the right time. They love the pressure and come through during the postseason.
• Speaking of the NBA, how great was the competition on Sunday. The Bulls-Celtics clash was an instant classic, while Orlando and Houston won in Maalox mashers. The playoffs have provided excitement galore so far. Commissioner David Stern has to be smiling over the great start of this postseason.
47mEric D. Williams