This week in Around the Dorm, we have a battle of the sports editors: Signal sports editor Brandon Lee, former Signal sports editor and current managing editor Lauren Kohout and Rider News sports editor Leo Rommel. This week’s topics include the NBA playoff system, Roger Clemens coming out of “retirement” and Sidney Crosby. Signal sports assistant Justin Jez stays as the usual ref.
1) Despite having more wins than the current No. 3 and No. 4 seeds in the Eastern Conference, either the Chicago Bulls or the Cleveland Cavaliers will probably finish in fifth place. Is this fair, and do you agree with the NBA’s seeding system?
BL: This system is horrible. The winner of the Atlantic Division, the Toronto Raptors, has a worse record than the Cavaliers. A team’s seed should depend on where it stands within the conference, not the division. The Cavs should be the No. 3 seed and would easily be able to sweep the Arenas and Butler-less Washington Wizards; instead they get to face off against the defending NBA Champions in the Miami Heat (not exactly a guaranteed trip to the second round here). Winning your division shouldn’t mean anything. The fact that the Raptors won the Atlantic really doesn’t mean anything. If it wasn’t for Toronto’s resurgence, the Nets would probably be the No. 3 seed and would be the team to beat the Wizards.
LK: I don’t really think it’s fair. It must kill these guys to know they are better than teams ranked so much higher than them, or just in the playoffs for that matter. It happens in the NHL, too. They should make their seeding system using points, much like hockey, but not worry about the division. The division should just be a completely separate thing and then all the teams in each conference should get seeded based on wins and losses, not on who wins the division.
LR: No, this is not fair. Pure and simple, both Chicago and Cleveland – at this point – are better than Miami and Toronto, which will occupy the No. 3 and No. 4 seeds. Although the league took a significant step last summer by reworking the playoff seedings to make it more balanced, the three division winners and the second-place team with the best record will be seeded according to their win-loss total, guaranteeing that the top two teams in each conference can’t meet until the conference finals – it simply is not enough. The rule should be that if you win your division, you are ensured a playoff spot, and no more. For example, if a division winner has the seventh-best record in the conference, that team should be handed the No. 7 seed. Otherwise, the system will always be, to some degree, imbalanced.
JJ: Brandon and Rommel get 3 points. Rommel explained the rule change last year, and was the only one to guarantee the division winners a playoff spot. Brandon gets credit for mentioning the interesting situation of No. 5 having to play Miami and not Washington. Kohout, using hockey’s point system is interesting but unrealistic I think – 2 points.
2) It seems as if Roger Clemens may again come out of retirement. Will he return at the age of 44, and which team will he want to sign with?
BL: Clemens has such a great job. He gets benefits, special treatment and he only pitches half a season while being paid millions of dollars. Did I mention he also gets to choose a team that has a run at a championship? As long as Clemens feels that he can perform at a high level, he’ll be employed. Clemens will want a shot at a championship, so he’ll decide between the Yankees and the Red Sox. Both teams can powder him with money and have high playoff hopes. Clemens has allegiances to both teams but in the end I think he’ll end up a Yankee because of his pitching buddy Andy Pettitte.
LK: Clemens gets way too much attention. He’s no Michael Jordan coming out of retirement because he is not in the top five players of all time like Jordan. However, I do think he will come back because he likes the attention. He will most likely go with the Astros so he is close to home. I’m sure he’ll get around 10-15 wins because he is Clemens and he has good stuff, but I really wish athletes would stop coming in and out of retirement like they do. I don’t understand why they retire in the first place. They should just play until they are done playing and until nobody wants them anymore, like with Cal Ripken Jr. He kept playing because he loved the game; he didn’t retire right after his last really good season and then come back to see what he had in him. He played it out like a man.
LR: Clemens is the Brett Favre of professional baseball. In spite of his melodramatic public statements and vocal indecision, there is little reason not to believe he will return once more this season. And, truth be told, this is the Astros’ ball to drop. Although the Yankees and Red Sox can match, and even beat, any deal Houston offers to Clemens, the lifestyle advantages of staying in Texas as opposed to playing in the Northeast cannot be beat. You don’t need Mapquest to know Clemens’ commute is amazingly shorter to Houston than it would be to, say, Yankee Stadium. The owner in Houston doesn’t mind sending his private plane over to the Rocket’s runway any time it’s convenient. And his son, of course, is a current Astros prospect. The Astros treat him like royalty and unless they stop doing that I don’t see him playing anyplace else.
JJ: Brandon and Rommel earn the 3 points this round. Brandon, I tend to agree that Clemens will go with playoff potential over convenience and come back to the Northeast. Rommel made a great case for Houston and told me that Clemens’ son could play a factor. Kohout gets 2 points. It is a little ridiculous how some guys come in and out of retirement all the time.
3) One of the leading contenders to win the NHL MVP is young Sidney Crosby. However, not much media coverage is directed toward the young NHL star, relatively speaking. How good is Crosby and why do we not hear about him more often?
BL: Crosby is hands down the next Wayne Gretzky. He can see plays develop three moves ahead like a chess master and skates with power and grace. He can dominate the game like no other player, even though he’s only 19. I’m older than him! Not enough media coverage is directed at Crosby because there’s not much coverage in the NHL. If Crosby came in at about ’95 or ’96 then we’d all be bowing down to him. The lockout killed the attention that hockey had back in the day. All the cool stars of the time – Mark Messier, Paul Kariya and Mike Richter – are either old or retired. Hockey needs recognizable faces and more American-bred players.
LK: Crosby is the best player in hockey, hands down. The problem is, first of all anyway, he plays in Pittsburgh, a very small market. The other thing is nobody cares about hockey right now. It just isn’t popular anymore. It’s a shame because at its purest it is a great game. Unfortunately with all the rules and changes that have been made since the lockout, hockey is being ruined. People like to see physical hockey but the NHL wants fast skating. They don’t want to risk people getting hurt anymore. How many times have you heard someone say that they only watch NASCAR in case there is a cool crash? With hockey, it is the same thing. This new game they created only opens the ice and causes cheap shots to be made more often. Until this country can get back into hockey, I don’t think people would even notice if Crosby won the MVP award. At least he’ll have happy feet. Get it? Happy Feet? Penguins? Maybe I should retire and come back in three weeks.
LR: This has been an interesting topic for some time now. Truth be told, Crosby is astoundingly gifted. At only 19 years of age, he has accumulated 215 points (as of March 29) in two seasons and, alongside rookie teammate Evgeni Malkin, is the sole reason why Pittsburgh has enjoyed a 43-point improvement from last season, the fifth-best turnaround in NHL history. On the other hand, the theory that he is the next Gretzky in the making is fictional. According to several publications, many of Crosby’s career points came from second assists, whereas Washington’s Alexander Ovechkin tallied his points mainly from first assists. Nevertheless, Crosby is undoubtedly a superstar. The only reason he is not a household name is because hockey, in general, has lost its appeal to the media and thus, is no longer in the limelight.
JJ: 3 points for Brandon. He pointed out most of the reasons why hockey and Crosby receive little attention. Kohout and Rommel each receive 2 points. I liked Kohout’s ideas about why hockey is out of the spotlight and Rommel’s analysis of Crosby. I just think you each focused too much on one half of the question. Rommel, it is too early in Crosby’s career to say he will never be as good as Gretzky. Crosby has been compared to Gretzky since he was 16.
With a score of 9-8-6, Brandon wins this week’s title.