As the temperature begins to drop, there is always one thing to warm your bones: Around The Dorm! This is the last hurrah for the usual suspects before we begin rotating new people in. Here is the lineup you all know and love: Signal sports editor Lauren Kohout, WTSR sports director Patrick Lavery and Signal staff writer Ray Lodato. I am Rob “I’m not even supposed to be here today” Viviano.
1) I am a long-suffering Jets fan and I see some glimmer of hope. They are currently 6-5, one win out of the wild card spot for the playoffs. With supposedly the easiest schedule in the NFL for the last half of the season, do the Jets make the playoffs? More importantly, do they overcome the Patriots?
LK: If the Patriots beat every team that does not have a better record than them, they will be 12-4. Since the Jets already have five losses, I can’t see them passing the Patriots. I do think they can make the playoffs as a wild card team. New York has to hope that Cincinnati and Jacksonville tack on a few more losses and that Kansas City takes a turn for the worse. Of course we’re still talking about the Jets, so there is a good chance they will lose to the Raiders in their final game and decide to change their name to the New Jersey Jets, since that is where they actually play.
PL: You talk about long-suffering? Some of our fellow Gang Green supporters (yes, I’m one too) have been waiting since 1970 for the second apocalypse. The Jets, who never do things the easy way, will end the season with a winning record. But don’t expect them to make the playoffs unless they do overtake the Patriots for the AFC East crown, because the rest of the conference is too good for them to earn a wild card spot. However, don’t forget that the Jets have done this before: beating the Packers on the final day of the 2002 season to clinch a 9-7 record and break a three-way tie with the Pats and Fins. Did I mention (see the beginning of this response) that the Jets are the only professional sports team whose nickname is also a medical condition?
RL: My crystal ball is saying chances are slim-to-none. Sure, the Jets have played some tough games and have shocked people as to how much they’re competing, but let’s not fool ourselves: Making the playoffs in the AFC is either going to take a very good squad or a very lucky squad. With the Patriots in the AFC East, the Jets are neither. The Jets are 6-5, meaning they’ll need to go 5-1 over their next six games to make the postseason. The Jets have to face a surging Miami team, a Vikings squad fighting for their playoff lives and a surprisingly difficult defensive unit in Buffalo, the same unit that hung with the Colts. Therefore, I’m not betting on a mediocre team to come up big simply because it doesn’t have the personnel. Eric Mangini has done a fantastic Belichick impression in New York, but it’s not his year. Not yet.
RV: The hopes of beating the Pats are, honestly, non-existent. Saying that, 3 points go to Lauren for being the one who made the correct statement that the Jets can (and in my mind will) do this because the teams above them will bumble and they will go 5-1 or 6-0. Ray, 2 points for being harsh on the Jets and still recognizing that beating the Pats won’t happen. Oh, and Minnesota, schedule-wise, is out of the running already. Pat – 1 point. I loved the answer, I love the memories of Jets’ past, but this time it’s just not possible unless Tom Brady suffers massive heart failure in the next three days.
2) Swim team time. It may be hard to identify one “most influential” part of this team, which involves so many different events, but this is your job. Tell me who you feel is the “biggest star” of the swimming and diving teams.
LK: Last year this would have been a much easier question because we had an NCAA champion on the men’s team, Steve Swenson. But since he has graduated, I feel as though both teams are still looking for their standouts. Junior Ava Kiss has been winning events and putting up NCAA qualifying times since she was a freshman, and Lee Swanson has proven herself time and time again as the College’s best diver. On the men’s side it is tougher to tell who the star is. Easy answer: They don’t have one. The men’s team is standing at 3-1 because it is swimming as a team and putting points on the scoreboard one event at a time, with no individual standing out because they are all doing well. It’s a well-rounded team and apparently pretty buoyant.
PL: Since I admittedly know nothing about the swimming and diving team, I enlisted the help of a secret source with strong ties to the team to help me out. If this person chooses to come forward, therefore becoming subject to the wrath of the swim team, I can’t take any responsibility. That being said, my informer told me that the “star” of the swimming and diving team is probably Kiss. Despite the record of the girls’ team, Kiss has been a bright spot, and her previous track record speaks for itself: She was an All-American for both her freshman and sophomore years, and she is the only returning member of this year’s girls’ team who swam at nationals last year. Though there are several returning All-Americans on the men’s side, Kiss’ overall performance, plus an endorsement from my source, makes her my choice.
RL: Swimming isn’t the electrifying sport track and field can be in terms of the adrenaline rush that is the 100-meter dash, but it is a great team sport. No matter how many superstars you have on your team, a few weak links can ruin an otherwise successful meet. That’s why I’m going to vote for the men’s and women’s 200-meter medley relay. A team race in the most fundamental sense, every member of the relay squad puts his hopes in his teammates’ hands, as personal achievements don’t mean squat unless your foursome can be, well, a well-lubricated machine shooting through the water. (How’s that for some imagery?)
RV: For using a source and looking up some stats on Kiss, I agree with Pat here – 3 points. For somehow listing a relay team of multiple people as one “person,” Ray has both avoided the inevitable hate mail and been able to select just one to pick as the most impressive component – 2 points. Lauren, they are buoyant. You just got the short end of the stick here, and you did point out Kiss and other outstanding competitors, but you just didn’t have the luck this round – 1 point.
3) The NHL has actually done it, and my Madden game does it whenever I select “fantasy draft”: complete team redrafting. It’s highly unlikely any sport will actually do it, but which professional sport would you most like to see have a total team redrafting?
LK: Just to piss off Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, it’s got to be baseball. Because of money differences, many teams can’t get the players they really want and all the good ones end up in one place. I mean really, does a batting order with Derek Jeter, A-Rod, Bobby Abreu, Jason Giambi and Johnny Damon really seem fair? A complete redraft in baseball would actually make the season more exciting because there wouldn’t be any ridiculously horrible teams; everyone would have the same chance of getting their hands on some talent. Knowing my town’s luck, Pat Gillick will be busy during the redraft and get the Phils screwed over with his pre-rankings. Damn simulations.
PL: If you’re going to redraft any league, please let it be the NBA. David Stern’s done everything right in his 20-plus years as commissioner except for ensuring a fair balance of power between the Eastern and Western Conferences in the wake of the Bulls’ run of championships in the ’90s. The Western Conference has been dominant for so long now that it has become comical. Unfortunately, you couldn’t help my poor, star-crossed Knickerbockers even if you gave them Tim Duncan, Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash, but hey, those three’ll be a help to somebody. Maybe with the Bobcats Kobe can score 100.
RL: I think basketball would benefit most from a fantasy draft. The way the NBA’s soft salary cap is set, a bad GM (such as Philadelphia’s Billy King or New York’s Isiah Thomas) can completely destroy basketball in a city. Thomas has somehow singlehandedly destroyed the NBA’s marquee franchise in the New York Knicks and Billy King has run the Sixers, one of the NBA’s four most storied franchises, into the ground with terrible trades and even worse re-signings. Due to the nature of the NBA’s guaranteed salaries, once an NBA team is screwed, it’s screwed for a long time, unless another team cleans up the mistake via trade. Who does that end up hurting the worst? The fans, of course. Think about an NBA in which the Lakers, Sixers, Celtics and Knicks could once again flourish. Think about how good that would be for the sport. I’m not disrespecting small market teams in the least, but when a league’s marquee franchise is screwed for the next five years, who is that benefiting?
RV: Baseball is a game where the more money the consumer pumps into the team, the more the owner can afford to put back into the team in the form of horrible acquisitions. Now for the fun part: Ray, an amazing point, and I also hate the salary system that makes team rosters semi-stagnant, though job stability is nice for a player. But there are better reasons to enjoy a redraft than giving the Knicks a new batch of horribly drafted and five-year tenured players – 1 point. Lauren, I described why you’re only getting 2 points above. But I have to admit more than half of the world wants to see it happen just to bite into the Yankees’ roster. Pat, the imbalance between East and West is why I lack any real enthusiasm for basketball – 3 points.
With a 7-6-5 final score, I decide the winner to be: Pat Lavery.