Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Election Day 2008: Decision Time ... in Many Ways

Happy Election Day, America!

For those who have already fulfilled their civic duty (either at the polling place earlier today or via absentee ballot prior to Election Day), I commend you for exercising your constitutional right to vote. I, myself, will be voting later this afternoon (waiting to go with my wife to our polling place), so I will get my "I Voted Today" sticker as well.

As my previous post alluded, I felt the concluding sports seasons and the timing of the year (heading into winter) would not compel to write about much of anything. Then, the last few days happened to change my mind just a little bit. Yes, baseball is definitely over ... that one I know for sure. I am curious to have some "hot stove league" talk about my Reds as possible trades / acquisitions might develop, but it's a little premature to talk that now. Also, yes, golf is about to be officially over for 2008 this week, but, realistically, I wasn't going to be watching intently until the Masters in the Spring. The one other season I mentioned - NASCAR - is the one that might actually not be over yet ... much to my surprise.

Heading into Texas last weekend, Jimmie Johnson looked like the odds-on favorite to win his third consecutive title, tying a record held only by Cale Yarborough in NASCAR history. A funny thing happened at Texas, though, as Carl Edwards, now Johnson's closest pursuer, nearly cut the pre-race lead in half by winning the race and leading the most laps (10 bonus points). Johnson, meanwhile, finished a relatively distant (by his standards) 15th place at a track where he had won once previously, finished top-5 five times, and notched eight top-10 finishes in only 10 previous attempts. His average finish was an 8.5, making Texas one of his better tracks. An interesting statistic that I saw the ABC crew flash during the race was that the previous fall Texas race winners had won at Atlanta the week before in each of the last three seasons (Edwards did it previously in 2005, Tony Stewart in 2006 and Johnson in 2007). History was certainly on Edwards' side. While the lead is still comfortably in Jimmie Johnson's hands, Carl Edwards has at least made the series worth watching for another week (and possibly two).

I said I had given up on the NFL ... generally speaking, that hasn't really changed. I do follow the games for fantasy purposes (where I am having pretty good seasons with the pair of teams I have over on Yahoo), but I actually saw my home team win a game for the first time this season. The now 1-8 Bengals unremarkably won a 21-19 game against the Jaguars, fortunately holding off a late rally by the visiting team which could have tied the game and sent it to overtime. Now, the only winless NFL team is the hapless squad in Detroit, where they have looked like potential victors the past couple of weeks only to snatch defeat from the hands of victory. The Bengals still don't have a season worth watching, particularly with Carson Palmer's injury (which I'm still surprised they haven't treated surgically at this stage if it makes him better for next season). I guess I'll check back on the NFL by the Playoffs, anyway.

How about Texas Tech, pulling off the upset on #1 Texas? Of course, having the home-field advantage looked to be a very good thing, but I'm not sure I understand, or believe, that Tech deserved to jump all the way to #2 ... OR that Texas is now ranked below USC in the USA Today / Coaches poll in 7th place? But, the BCS match-up would now feature two undefeated teams (Alabama and Tech) while leaving another (Penn State) out in the cold. Odds are that at least one of those three teams will get a loss by season's end, but what if they don't? Once again, the playoff concept will be discussed (and should be, in my opinion) where fairness goes out the window.

I don't typically write about the NBA, particularly in the early season, because I just don't find the early part of the pro season compelling. However, when news broke yesterday that the team I do follow - the Detroit Pistons - traded for Allen Iverson from the Denver Nuggets in return for Chauncey Billups (former Finals MVP), Antonio McDyess, and Cheikh Samb. Do I believe Iverson, former league MVP, is worth three other players? Yes and no. No, because I believe Billups was a top-notch contributor and McDyess a key bench / rotational cog. Yes, because he is the "marquee" name player, who certainly still has the skills to play the game and will help be a floor leader along with rising star Richard Hamilton and established presence Rasheed Wallace. A bigger YES, if the bigger strategy of GM Joe Dumars (a former star in his own right) is to make the team "in play" for the King himself, LeBron James. Do I think James wants Detroit as his stage? Probably not ... BUT, if the team is a winner, and the New York market area teams (the Knicks and loosely the Nets) are his only other real target, would he pick the known versus the unknown? Only time will tell on this one ...

I'll close like I started ... Go out and VOTE if you haven't already.