The Perspective…

…a collection and expansion of my notes from the week in sports

February 26, 2014

Wichita State Final FourWichita State is 30-0. Shocking isn’t it? Then again that is their team name, so maybe this was pre-determined. Religion and prophecy aside, they are for real. For those still unaware of just who they are, because they do fit the bill of a “Mid-Major” program, they were the team in the black jerseys that reached the Final Four last year. The big star from that team, who was lost to graduation, was forward Carl Hall. If that name doesn’t ring a bell it is because he hasn’t yet made it onto an NBA roster. My point: This year’s Wichita State Shockers basketball team is better than last years, and that one went to the NCAA Final Four. If they deserve to be ranked ahead of Florida, who have two losses on their record, is not for me to decide. The Gators do play in the much tougher SEC, and are undefeated in that league, so I have no problem with them being the Nation’s number one ranked team. However, the program has been down this road before, and apologies to the players, but it’s not nearly as exciting. I was only four years old in 1979, but I have to imagine this is how it felt when Larry Bird led Indiana State to the #2 ranking with an undefeated record. Make no mistake there is no Larry Bird on this Wichita State team, which is what makes it all the more impressive. Fred Van Vleet, Ron Baker, Tekele Cotton, and Cleanthony Early are the big names, but this is truly a Team. They are what’s great about sports, and encompass a bit of that ‘Old School’ feel. The calendar is about to turn to March, and the Madness will ensue. Don’t be Shocked if they are the last ones standing at the dance. They are more than just a fun little ‘Mid-Major’ program they are a Team to be feared….

Raymond Felton courtRaymondo-Felton what have you done? You didn’t read that wrong, that is how Raymond Felton’s wife’s name appears: Ariane Raymondo-Felton. While details are still emerging about the domestic dispute between the New York Knicks point guard and his estranged wife, this is the first case of a professional athlete with a weapon I have felt inclined to defend. When the whole truth comes out it may affect my stance, but for now I’m rolling with Ray. This seems to be a case of spite, and a very vindictive one at that. In most cases, an athlete in this situation has had further criminal activity attached to it. Whether it was drugs, or sexual crimes, robbery, et al, you can generally see a pattern of behavior which affects their credibility. I do not personally know Raymond Felton so I cannot speak from absolute truths or facts. From an outside view, which includes following him since his High School days, I have never known Felton to exhibit any behavior resembling that of a criminal. Should he possess weapons in the first place begins a whole new debate on the United States Constitution. I am not concerned with that, and if he does it in a legal fashion God bless. From the facts that have been presented to this point, it reeks of a bitter attempt to make someone suffer as payback. Payback for what is the question. Felton has been the butt of many jokes in this dreadful season for the Knicks. That shouldn’t give him a pass if he is indeed guilty, but I will reserve judgment until more comes out. As I write this, Aaron Hernandez flashes on the screen for getting into a fight with another inmate. This is not a case even remotely in the same league as Aaron Hernandez. Somewhere in this changing world, the phrase “Innocent until proven guilty” is losing its importance….

Cruz signingNelson Cruz signing with the Baltimore Orioles for one year at $8million may have the biggest impact on the entire 2014 Major League Baseball season. It immediately makes Baltimore better and a serious contender in the stacked American League East. The money saved on the deal allows them to remain in the hunt for Ervin Santana, even with recently adding Ubaldo Jimenez to their rotation. If Cruz can remain healthy, and that is a concern, he could easily put up similar numbers to those with Texas, if not more. He is still just 33 years of age with a baseline of .265/25/80 – numbers worth far more than $8M per year. The Orioles now boast a dangerous 3-4-5 of Adam Jones, Chris Davis, and Cruz, making for one of the best lineups in the division. As a Yankee fan that is devastating for what we all hope is a magical year for our Captain, Derek Jeter’s exit. More impactful is the teams that could have used his services and won’t get them; step to the front of the line Sandy Alderson. Ultimately, Cruz gambled and the Orioles won; they were willing to give a chance to a guy coming off an injury and suspension. I happen to be bullish on Nelson this season, so let that marinate, but this deal will have ramifications to the 2014 standings. This is my favorite time of year, and Baseball evokes so many fond memories, so one more nugget for Spring Training. There are 10 Cubans who defected this year and are attempting to make it in the Majors. If the over/under was 3.5 to succeed this season I would stay low, but the players I am picking might surprise you. Jose Abreu is obviously one, and I think Alexander Guerrero gets enough at bats to make him two. The third is a pitcher, but his name is not Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez. While Odrisamer Despaigne hasn’t done enough just yet to get a contract offered, I believe he will find a home as a reliever and help a team in contention this season. Right now it is just a hunch, but his size, age, and lineage (father was a Cuban pro as well) all lend to my belief. Plus, he’s already got the name. With all teams set to start play this weekend there will be much more Baseball and Spring Training news to come…

Jordan Tripp combineAnd finally, there is that little event in Indianapolis that makes so many grown men giddy. Yes, the NFL’s Scouting Combine took place this past week, and with the league having its own network, coverage has emerged as must see TV. What was more amazing to me than watching Jadaveon Clowney run a sub 4.5 in the 40 yard dash (4.53 officially), was how my Twitter timeline seemed to outrun that with reaction. I was just as shocked to see such a large human being run at un-Godly speeds, but despite all of his feats of strength, questions still remain. Character issues, work habits, and desire head the list. You know the questions that can and will be answered, but won’t be broadcast for us to watch. The ones asked and answered behind closed doors with team executives. For now it is all speculation, and if I had the first pick in this year’s draft I would be hard pressed to pass on the Defensive End (who I might even play at Linebacker). Some guys that jumped out at me, in limited time viewing the event, were Mike Evans, Michael Sam, and Jordan Tripp. As a Jet fan I was saddened to see Evans look so good. Basically, he just assured there is no chance he will be available for my team at #18. For a team starving for a Wide Receiver it’s a big blow, and I don’t care how deep you say the position is, Evans is different. He has the size and speed that would complement Geno Smith to perfection, and is a clear difference maker in the NFL if you ask me. Sam didn’t do anything to hurt or help his stock, it is pretty much in line with what he is projected to be. There will always be controversy surrounding him due to his off-field revelations, but strictly as a player he is good, not great. Jordan Tripp is a guy I want on my team. He didn’t do anything to jump out at you, but he did everything well. On second thought he did jump out, if you can translate his work ethic and character from watching combine footage. What I saw was a guy who tries to maximize his potential with every move he makes. All effort, head down, motor running full throttle. As a prospect with a third to fifth round grade coming in, I wouldn’t let the Montana Linebacker slip past three if I were drafting. There are still over two full months before the 2014 NFL Draft, and with the thirst for Football coverage what it is, mocks will likely change not by the day, but by the minute. You can check back here to see how Mike Osinski breaks it down on the first of each month, starting this Saturday with March. Between now and then I am sure even his mind will change…

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