Friday, May 13, 2011

The Great Debate: 5/13

Welcome to our newest feature, the great debate: a short debate on a few sports topics between two of our writers. There are often sports topics that crop up that our writers want to talk about, but are tough to justify statistically. There are so many stories that hit the sports newswire every day, that it's tough to provide full coverage--but a little opinion is never a bad thing. We'll be doing these debates often between numerous writers, like a SportStatistics PTI (for those of you who watch ESPN). Feel free to join in the debates, we'll be happy to comment back and keep the debate going! Our first discussion comes courtesy of myself and Jake Adams, who tackled topics from the NBA Playoffs to Tiger Woods' latest injury issues:

Are the Heat really the team to beat?
Jake: Miami's 4-1 win over the Celtics to advance to the Conference Finals puts them into the drivers seat to win the East it seems. The Bulls struggled with the Hawks and it's clear Derrick Rose is a one man show at this point. The Mavericks and the winner of the Thunder/Grizzlies series doesn't scare anyone.

Josh: I don't know if "one man show" is really the right term to use here, but I get your point--the Heat were made for the playoffs. The West suddenly seems old, with Kobe and Tim Duncan's exits leading to stories about their impending demise. Dirk's no spring chicken at 32, but beating the Lakers in a sweep is still a significant achievement. The way Miami's playing now it certainly looks promising for Heat long as they didn't spend all of their energy on the Celtics.

Jake: It just seems weird. Here's a team that a lot of experts trashed for not playing to an elite level all year. And now they stomp on the Celts and suddenly the NBA is staring at the "Evil Empire" of their league as the only legitimate, and seemingly only deserving, contender.

Josh: Well, this was a team that had it's sight set on winning titles, not winning the most regular-season games. If they were content to get in as a 3rd seed while saving their energy for the playoffs, well, it seems to be working quite well so far.

Cedric Benson says Palmer should be let go

Josh: Going along with the "players vs. management" theme this offseason, Cincinnati Bengals running back Cedric Benson says the Bengals should release quarterback Carson Palmer, who has publicly demanded his release. The Bengals have said they want to bring back Palmer to mentor Andy Dalton, but Benson says that an unhappy Palmer would not have the same will to win and would be hurting the team.

Jake: I actually have an intriguing idea about this. A smart move for the Bengals may be to do nothing at all. Don't release him; don't trade him. If you do that he goes to a team and could potentially hurt you if he plays you. He is still a top-12 quarterback when healthy and when he has weapons. If you hold on to him, he retires and he can do no further damage OR you call his bluff and he comes back and tutors Dalton.

Josh: I can't see that ending well. I say trade him and get value for him--if he's unhappy he won't play his best, that's obvious. Cincinnati is a young team in the talent spots now with A.J. Green, a top talent at receiver. Giving Dalton and Green the chance to instantly form chemistry is beneficial for the Bengals, and they would be able to get a good amount of value for Palmer.

Jake: They will trade him. But it would be an interesting thing to see them hold on to his contract rights. They biggest concern now is that they won't get anything for him since they lost all sorts of leverage with Palmer saying he wants out or else. Next up... what to do with Chad Johnson-Ochocinco-Johnson and T.O.

Can Tiger break Jack's record?

Jake: Doesn't seem so all of a sudden. He's gone winless in nearly two years. He's walking and playing on one leg and he's fighting to regain the swagger he had before his scandal. It's not easy to retool with some much damage like that physically and mentally.

Josh: The injury bug hits even the best players, but it's weird to see Tiger struggle. He's not built for it--he's had success at every turn, and suddenly he's got a problem that he just can't fix, no matter what he does. And not just one problem! He's not too old to win golf tournaments, but he needs to seriously take his time and evaluate whether or not he can ever play golf at a consistent level again.

Jake: I heard a few people say that he hasn't practiced the way he used to back in 2001-2008 when he was the most dominant player in the world. That's not a good sign. And the torque he puts on that knee...

Josh: It's not a good sign physically for sure. And it's definitely not an easy thing mentally, to go through what he's had to go through. Tiger could come out of this and win a few more majors before it's all said and done. But what looked like a certainly is definitely no longer so, and probably less than a 50% chance.

Orioles/Mariners Shutouts

Josh: After nine innings in Baltimore, the Mariners and Orioles were stuck in a shutout--with both pitchers having gone the distance. Zach Britton was at 108 pitches, while Jason Vargas was at 101. Neither of them came out for the 10th. Thoughts?

Jake: Seems like nine is the magic number. I don't have a problem with it. At that point you're talking about endurance in a time perspective, not a pitch count perspective. Yes, they could have thrown more pitches in another game without getting pulled, but nine innings is 2:30-3:00 hours of work. That's a lot of stress.

Josh: Yeah, and maybe it's just the baseball purist in me, but I wanted to see two pitchers go into extra innings. I'm all in favor of rewarding good work, and it would be have made for quite a story. It's not like the pitch counts were outrageously high, and the game only lasted 2:52 even after TWELVE innings.

Jake: Of course it would have been great to see. Any baseball fan would have loved it. But that's a managerial nightmare. If they send those guys back out and they get shelled, or go out and get rocked early in their next game then the media would swarm on them about it. It's a young season. The smart move was to rest them, not go for TV ratings.

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