This week in Around the Dorm, we have a tight race between the usual suspects: Signal managing editor Lauren Kohout, Signal nation & world editor James Queally and Signal sports editor Brandon Lee. The debate this week focuses on the Mets and Phillies, Jeff “Robocop” Garcia and the two personas of Kobe Bryant. Signal sports assistant Justin Jez takes his usual place as the ref.
1) Excluding the Yankees, which area MLB team will end the season with more wins, the Mets or the Phillies, and why?
LK: Without being biased, I’ll have to say the Phillies. They have a stronger, younger lineup that stays consistent throughout the season, whereas the Mets have some guys out of their prime like Paul LoDuca. Not even David Wright could stay strong toward the end of the season for the Mets. Then you have guys like Carlos Beltran choking at the plate in the playoffs. The Phillies have a returning MVP in Ryan Howard, a hitting-streak threatening Chase Utley and an outfielder just arriving at his prime in Shane Victorino. Charlie Manuel knows what he’s doing (even if he looks weirder than George Bush in a press conference). Once he is done rattling the Phils’ cages this preseason, there will be no stopping them. Sorry, Mr. Met.
JQ: As a New Yorker, this is hard for me to write, but I do believe the Phillies will win more games than the Mets this year. The Mets’ injury-riddled and aging pitching rotation is enough to give any New York sports enthusiast a headache and a half. Tom Glavine and Pedro Martinez both battled nagging injuries for a good portion of last year. They’ve got all the right weapons in their lineup, but we know that pitching wins games in the major leagues. Unfortunately, the dangerous mixture of power, consistency and speed that comes from a batting order including Wright, Carlos Delgado, LoDuca and Jose Reyes will be negated by a crippled pitching staff. The Phillies have dangerous bats with 2006 NL MVP Howard and Utley, coupled with a solid pitching staff led by Freddy Garcia. Hey, maybe this is the year Kohout can snag a pennant after all.
BL: The Mets will be the more successful team because of their all-star filled lineup. The lineup from top to bottom can devastate any pitcher. There is speed, power and timely hitting at every position. The heart of the order – Beltran, Delgado and Wright – is as good as any in the league. Yes, the Phillies have Utley, Jimmy Rollins and Howard, but they really have no other proven players. In the Mets’ lineup, Beltran is protected by Delgado. In the Phillies lineup, who protects Howard? After his breakout year, Howard will be treated like Bonds and will constantly be walked. Both pitching staffs are shaky but the Mets get the bullpen edge because of Billy Wagner and Duaner Sanchez, who was lights out before his taxi accident.
JJ: 3 points to Queally and Brandon. Both identified the importance of pitching, and Brandon made a great point about how there is no one to protect Howard. Kohout, I like the comment about the aging Mets, but Beltran in the playoffs has no effect on the regular season and their number of wins – 2 points.
2) After helping the Eagles reach the divisional championship game, Jeff Garcia was not re-signed. Were the Eagles correct in letting Garcia go to assure Donovan McNabb of his spot?
LK: Darn right they were. Garcia is 37 years old and would have no chance in carrying a team for 16 games plus playoffs. Sure he did well when he came in and gave the Iggles some wins, but it wouldn’t have lasted. McNabb got injured. You don’t lose a starting position just because of one injury. McNabb is still an icon in Philly. Garcia could have won the Super Bowl last year and McNabb still would have had his starting position back when he returned. All I have to say is good luck with the Bucs, Garcia. Have fun trying to squeeze out more than five wins with that team.
JQ: When McNabb is healthy, he’s easily one of the best quarterbacks of the past decade. However, the question the Eagles have to ask themselves is, “When is McNabb going to be healthy again?” Unless somebody can guarantee me that McNabb is going to be 100 percent for the 2007 campaign, I can’t see any reason why in the hell Philly would let go of Garcia. Garcia stepped out of McNabb’s shadow and saved 2006 for the Eagles, leading them to an NFC East Division Championship and a playoff victory over my beloved Giants. Sure, he’s older, but the guy’s got at least two or three good seasons left in him, which he is now going to waste in Tampa Bay as part of the Bucs’ psychotic five-man quarterback rotation. If McNabb goes down again this year, who is going to save the Eagles, A.J. Feely? The Eagles need to pick up a solid backup quarterback immediately or they need to start issuing their offensive linemen handguns to make sure McNabb never gets hit this season.
BL: This move gives McNabb some peace of mind. Garcia was definitely a perfect fit for Andy Reid’s system, but can a 37-year-old quarterback last an entire season? McNabb is the face of the franchise. It would be like getting rid of Michael Vick to keep Matt Schaub. Not happening. McNabb is the Eagles’ superstar and took them to the Super Bowl in 2005. It would have been nice to keep Garcia as a backup but that would have just put pressure on McNabb if he started playing in a funk. Just look at Eli Manning; he has no quarterback competition and just has to work on throwing the ball to the right team.
JJ: Queally takes this round with 3 points. If McNabb goes down the Eagles will be kicking themselves next year, but I don’t know if NFL players need more firearms. Kohout and Brandon receive 2 points each – Brandon for saying the decision reassured McNabb and Kohout for pointing out injuries don’t lose positions.
3) Sporting a new number and a new basketball identity, Kobe Bryant has made a conscious effort to get his teammates more involved. Which Kobe is better for the Lakers: scoring Kobe or passing Kobe?
LK: Scoring Kobe has three championship rings. Passing Kobe has none. However, scoring Kobe had Shaq to back him up. Without Shaq, Kobe would have to score twice as much. Oh, wait, he is! We’re talking about a man who has scored 81 points in one game and has had 50 points or more in 19 games. Phil Jackson told Kobe the Lakers can’t win if he doesn’t score. He scored 50 points in four games straight. Only Wilt Chamberlain has been able to match that feat. Passing Kobe, ha! That’s about as useful as free-throw-shooting Shaq.
JQ: Scoring Kobe is the short-term answer, but passing Kobe is the longterm solution. The Lakers have won four straight games with Kobe scoring 50-plus points. Aside from that, Luke Walton and Lamar Odom will create scoring opportunities for themselves both off the glass and moving without the ball, even when Kobe is lighting up the place. However, if the Lakers want to develop some of its younger stars like Jordan Farmar and Andrew Bynum, then Kobe needs to think pass first and shoot second when he gets double- and triple-teamed. At the moment the Lakers are seeded sixth in the West and that is probably where they will finish. Looking ahead to likely series against powerhouses like the Spurs, Suns and Mavericks, I wouldn’t fix it since it ain’t broke, and let Kobe try and take down those juggernauts with a little help from his supporting cast. But sooner or later, Kobe is going to need to get the rest of his younger teammates involved if there is to be a future in L.A. after he’s gone.
BL: Passing Kobe is better for the Lakers because basketball is a team game (cough, cough Gilbert Arenas). When Kobe looks for his teammates, the Lakers play a more balanced offense. If he is double- or even triple-teamed, he can easily find the open man. How else will the rest of the team have any cohesion if Kobe takes 30 shots a night? Passing Kobe finds the open man and can look for his shot. This Kobe is balanced, just like yin and yang – which keeps Zen master Phil Jackson in perfect harmony with his star.
JJ: Brandon gets the 3 points this round. The Kobe that best helps the Lakers is the “balanced” Kobe. Kohout gets 2 points. Everyone wants to see scoring Kobe, and if he is hot, the game is over. Queally, I had to make you the low man this round – 1 point. The young guys will develop regardless of Kobe, and he has the ability to beat any team by himself, i.e. the Suns last year.
With a score of 8-7-6, Brandon wins this week’s title.