Will the Raptors win before the Leafs? And more thoughts from the world of sports

There’s a lot going on right now – Hockey season’s in full swing, with basketball just around the corner. Meanwhile, we’re starting to get a clearer look at the NFL picture, while just two teams remain in Major League Baseball. Locally, things aren’t pretty, but there’s plenty to talk about.

  • Are the Toronto Maple Leafs awful, unlucky, or both? It’s a little confusing when you watch them play, but that third period on Saturday night summed up their season nicely. Even when the effort is there, and it was, there simply aren’t enough finishers up front. Sure, Ron Wilson, blame Luongo’s stellar play… Have you noticed that most goalies seem to be on their “A” game against Toronto? Reminds me of Raptors fans justifying the outside shooting of an opponent – “Come on, Shane Battier will never go 7/8 from three-point land again”… If something happens enough, it’s time to look in the mirror.
  • That being said, Phil Kessel will help. The cynic will say there’s nobody to get him the puck, but the guy can score. Toronto had plenty of chances to even the score on Saturday, but lack a sniper to get the job done. Speaking of Kessel, let’s talk about the No. 1 pick fiasco. The trade looks horrible right now, but is it? Yes, the Leafs may end up with the first pick in next year’s draft, but it’s still quite possible to move up. In any case, there’s absolutely no guarantee Burke lands a young player with as much potential as Kessel. And really, that’s all the draft is. That first round pick is an imaginary player – If Burke still had the pick and used it on this year’s Phil Kessel, what’s the difference? He’s young, great, and locked up. The GM was certainly banking on a better season from his team, but it’s still possible to view the trade with the glass half full.
  • Who wins first – The Leafs or the Raptors? I’ll say the Raps win on Friday in Memphis, so it’ll be tight.
  • Speaking of the Toronto Raptors, their first month could be pretty miserable. Games against Cleveland, Orlando, Detroit, New Orleans, San Antonio, Chicago, Dallas, Phoenix, Denver and Utah would be tough for anybody, and especially a team that still hasn’t gelled whatsoever. I’m not saying it’s time to panic – Quite the contrary, actually… But reasonable fans should expect to get killed in at least a few of the early contests. Toronto showed very few signs of improvement throughout the preseason, and going 5-10 out of the gate shouldn’t surprise anyone. The playoffs are still attainable, but the start will be rough. If the team improves, there will be plenty of time to right the ship.
  • Despite Frank Zicarelli’s objection, it’s the right call to start DeMar DeRozan. I really think Frank has it completely wrong on this one – He talks about hiding rookies, but the second unit is no place for this. The Raptors backups are having enough trouble scoring and it makes no sense to give DeRozan that responsibility. Instead, let the kid do what he’s been doing – filling the lane, cutting to the hoop, and getting to the line. The starting unit is filled with scoring, meaning DeRozan will get his without having plays run for him. It’s the perfect spot to get him minutes, and it’s not like anybody else has earned them. Antoine Wright? Please, you don’t earn minutes by sitting on the bench, especially when you’ve accomplished next to nothing in this league.
  • More important than the starting lineup is the finishing lineup. Right now, I’d say the Raps end games with a lineup of Jose Calderon, Jarrett Jack, Hedo Turkoglu, Chris Bosh and Andrea Bargnani. Obviously, it’s somewhat dependant on the situation.
  • Vince Carter is going to have a huge year for the Orlando Magic. Huge.
  • What happened to the Miami Dolphins yesterday? As well as New Orleans played in the second half, it was perplexing to watch Miami abandon their game plan. This team is built on running, but insisted on throwing with a huge lead. It made absolutely no sense, and ended in disaster. On the other side of the ball, the Saints continued to prove they are among football’s elite.
  • On the other hand, the New York Giants had every opportunity to beat Arizona, but insisted on handing the game to the Cardinals. Last week, it was the defense. This week, it was the offense. Tom Coughlin has to get them ready for a tough Eagles squad before the wheels completely fall off.
  • I hate the Dallas Cowboys, but Tony Romo is a very good quarterback. It’s ridiculous what people say about him, despite the way he carries that offense. Nobody is a “winner” until they win. Peyton couldn’t win in the playoffs, until he did. Same goes for Eli. One of these years, a whole lot of people will be eating crow with regards to Romo.
  • Troy Polamalu completely changes the Steelers defense. They were average in his absence, and beastly in his return.
  • How depressing is this world series matchup for Cleveland Indians fans? The starting pitchers for Game 1 – CC Sabathia and Cliff Lee – both played for the Indians last season. At least they still have LeBron James… for now.
  • As for Philadelphia vs New York, it’s too close to call. Two powerful lineups, two good pitching staffs. The series goes six or seven.
  • My “wows” for the week go to Anze Kopitar, Vernon Davis, Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Howard.

-DL

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