Pitchers and catchers report. Music to my ears. That glorious event happens this week, with 25 teams (including the Reds) getting things started on Valentine’s Day. Wonder if Jill would settle for watching MLB Network all night instead of roses.
The train wreck that has become the Cleveland Cavaliers was approaching one of those blown-up bridges over a deep ravine you always see in good Westerns. But at the NBA trade deadline, the heroic Koby Altman did what he could to save the passengers and cattle. He stopped the train – or at least slowed it down.
Trading six players and a ho-hum draft pick was a win for the Cavs. None of the departed, including locker-room cancer Isaiah Thomas, was helping. Plus, they were poor examples for kids trying to learn to play defense. I’m not saying the Cavs will win it all, but the addition of Larry Nance Jr. — if only because of his attitude, drive and Cavaliers lineage — should help. George Hill and Rodney Hood aren’t bad, either.
Good riddance, Derrick Rose, Dwyane Wade and whoever else got on the bus out of town. The best part of this was that Cleveland kept the Nets’ top 2018 draft pick. That could be the cornerstone of the rebuild once front-runner LeBron jumps on the first horse headed west.
Alabama didn’t finish No. 1 in college football recruiting rankings last week. This set off a panic in the proud Southern state not seen since Diet Coke was introduced. Nick Saban will not stand for this. After all, TWO Yankee schools (Ohio State, Penn State) finished ahead of the Tide on Signing Day. Alabama’s response? The school is talking about constructing a new recruiting lounge. And, by God, it’ll be the best damn recruiting lounge on the planet.
The Winter Olympics are here. I can just sense the excitement out there. What, a unified Korean team isn’t enough for you? Is that Flying Tomato guy still young enough to do flips on his skateboard without wheels? If NBC had its way, it would show figure skating every night. I did catch a few minutes of downhill skiing practice on an obscure channel Thursday. Riveting stuff.
Who says wrestling (not the Hulk Hogan kind) is dead? A match between Penn State and Iowa on Saturday in sleepy State College, Pennsylvania sold out. Tickets were going for more than $100 on the secondary market. Meanwhile, the Nittany Lions basketball team has drawn more than 10,000 fans to the Bryce Jordan Center twice this season, and that team is pretty good.
The GWOC got too big for its own britches and imploded. It is going through what Wall Street likes to call a correction — because of competitive balance issues. Twenty teams in one conference is too many, and some of those schools refused to play others. Trotwood is too good in football and basketball, and my guess is that the smaller schools were tired of getting clobbered.
Trending up: St. John’s, Nick Foles, Greg Schiano. I guess hiring Chris Mullin to coach wasn’t a cheap publicity stunt by St. John’s. The Redmen, uh, Red Storm, pulled an Iowa State last week by defeating Duke and Villanova. Almost knocked off Xavier, too. The unlikely stretch left St. John’s with a 1-11 conference record. Shamorie Ponds and his teammates could make the Big East Tournament worthy of the Madison Square Garden stage.
Trending down: Cris Collinsworth, Malcolm Butler, Shane Matthews. Super Bowl 50-something was very good. Collinsworth was not. The NBC analyst’s nonsensical analysis of Zach Ertz’s game-winning touchdown catch (and run) made no sense. The Eagles’ big tight end caught the football, took a couple steps and dove for the end zone. He was a runner when he fumbled. But the ball crossed the goal line. Eagles win. Patriots lose. America celebrates.