It’s the second semifinal matchup, where the three Around the Dorm finalists will be decided. Sports Editor James Queally, staff writer Steve Cohen and Sports Assistant Bobby Olivier will duke it out over the BCS title game, C.C. Sabathia and Manny Ramirez’ enormous honky tonk ba-donka-donk-sized price tags and predict who will win Pistons-Celtics Round 87. Boy Scout, Martha Stewart fan and Opinions Editor Michael O’Donnell will ref.
1. The BCS is almost too close to call right now. Alabama and Texas Tech stand at No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, with Florida, Texas, Oklahoma and USC trailing close behind. Who’s going to play in the National Championship game and why?
JQ: And now I undertake the migraine-inducing task of trying to decipher the BCS. Undefeated Alabama and Texas Tech control their own destinies, but they both close out their seasons in unofficial semifinals. The Crimson Tide will face off with the No. 4 Florida Gators for the SEC title, with the winner basically assured a spot in the championship game. The Red Raiders are in a similar situation when they play No. 5 Oklahoma on Saturday. This leaves the former No. 1, now No. 3, Texas Longhorns on the outside looking in, as their only remaining game is against unranked Texas A&M. I have no reason to doubt Alabama. They’ve been convincing in all 10 of their wins, especially their tough win on the road against Les Miles’ LSU squad, and Tech showed they know how to win games during the late drive that carried them over Texas weeks ago. In short, ‘Bama and Tech will stay ranked No. 1 and 2 until title time.
SC: I don’t care if Texas Tech beat Texas, the Red Raiders will lose to Oklahoma. Simply put, Tech doesn’t have the steam to keep going. I don’t know how they made it this far. If Texas and the Sooners don’t lose again this year, it would create a three-way tie in the South Division of the Big 12. The tiebreaker would have to go to Oklahoma if the Sooners beat an undefeated Red Raiders team. I also predict Florida will beat Alabama behind the arm of Tim Tebow and their freak-of-nature running back Percy Harvin, who scored on 26- and 80-yard runs on the way to a career-high 167-yard rushing game this past weekend.
BO: At No. 5 are the Oklahoma Sooners, whose fate will be decided when they play No. 2 Texas Tech and No. 12 Oklahoma State in the next two weeks. They should be able to wrangle the Cowboys, but a loss to Tech and production machine QB Graham Harrell on Saturday will make that game mean nothing. No. 4 Florida has the Ole Miss loss to be ashamed of, but the thriller vs. No. 1 Alabama will be the key to the SEC. J.P. Wilson and company should stop Heisman-winning QB Tim Tebow and drop the Gators out of national contention. No. 3 Texas would have a chance if Texas Tech was not going to run the table with their potent offense and play the Crimson Tide in all of their Nick Saban-ish glory for the National Championship. Believe it or not, the cards will fall like they are supposed to.
MO: Queally gets the 3 here for discussing the potential matchups Alabama and Texas Tech have to endure before the title game. Bobby gets the 2 for dissecting each team’s chances heading closer to the title. Cohen, you just didn’t provide as much as the other two. 1 point.
2. The Yankees just made a huge offer to CC Sabathia, a deal reportedly worth more than $140 million over five years. The Dodgers also reportedly have offered a huge multi-year deal to Manny Ramirez. What’s more likely to happen: the Yanks landing the former Cy Young winner or the Dodgers signing the controversial power hitter?
JQ: How many times have I said ridiculous spending will be the Yankees’ downfall? Herr Steinbrenner and Brian Cashman are chasing CC Sabathia, Jake Peavy and Mark Teixeira this offseason. They expect to shell out that much money and land arguably the three biggest names on the market this winter, which is just not going to happen. Manny remaining in L.A. is much more likely since Scott Boras’ sleazy scumbag money-grubbing jerk-off tendencies are finally going to backfire. Man-Ram wants a six-year deal. He will be 42 at the end of that contract. That’s not happening. The Dodgers’ best offer has been for three years with an option for four, and honestly, that’s the best Ramirez should expect. He’s landed in a city where the manager allows him to do as he pleases and the fans love him. That replaces all the comforts he lost in Boston. Ramirez is comfortable there, and with the state of the NL West, the Dodgers will be a playoff team for the next few years as long as the Diamondbacks don’t somehow land Peavy. He will eventually wise up, bitch slap Boras and settle for the Dodgers’ offer.
SC: Both of these offers could go either way. Manny wants as many shots against the Red Sox as he can get next season. The NL can’t offer him that. Sabathia has the ability to write his own ticket after last season, but nobody has the bankroll of the Steinbrenners. Even though he has flat out said he would like to stay in the NL and would even like to play on the West Coast, I think this is the deal that will go through. It might not even be his choice to make entirely. The Players Union could force him into a corner if nobody else bids anywhere near this offer. Santana set last year’s market, CC could this year. The Union wants to keep the market going up. Therefore, they may actually step in should CC reject the Yanks’ offer. And I think the Yankees knew that when they put it on the table.
BO: After bidding an excessive $40 million more than the Milwaukee Brewers did for only one extra year on the proposed contract (six years from New York, five from Milwaukee), the New York Yankees look poised to land big-time free agent CC Sabathia. Their offer would be the largest multi-year contract ever signed by a pitcher and no one is going to outbid them. It is said that because Sabathia likes to hit, he may stay in the NL. But, who can honestly pass up that much money to play in the spotlight? With that money, he can build his own baseball stadium, hire Nolan Ryan to pitch to him and hit there. The Dodgers have withdrawn their offer to Manny Ramirez until further notice, and plenty of other teams will be after Manny and will most likely offer more than the Dodgers.
MO: Cohen nabs the 3 for talking about the union aspect of the deal. They want more money and CC’s their ticket. Bobby and Queally, your answers were good, just not as good as Cohen’s. Your answers made me laugh (in a good way). You’re so funny. 1.5 each.
3. After the trade for Allen Iverson, the Pistons seem to finally have a big-time scorer in the arsenal of “team players.” With this trade, can the Pistons overtake the Celtics in the conference this season?
JQ: Well, the Celtics did best the Pistons 88-76 even after the Iverson trade, but I’ll reserve judgment until the teams meet again when “The Answer” has been fully incorporated in the offense. But let’s be honest here, while Boston’s “Big Three” caused a lot of people to portray them as an offensive juggernaut last season, it was their lights-out defense that carried them to a title. At the same time, Detroit has thrived on being a D-first team for years. While Iverson is a bigger scoring threat than Chauncey Billups, something that will help take the weight off Rip Hamilton’s shoulders, Billups was a superior defender. Iverson’s numbers are going to have to be akin to the stat lines he put up in Philly if the Pistons are really going to overtake the Celtics as the power in the Eastern Conference. The Pistons are not built to win as a high-scoring squad. I like the Iverson trade, and while I think it makes them a more dynamic team, the addition of Mo Williams in Cleveland and Boston’s ability to play superbly on both sides of the ball should stymie the Pistons’ attempts to return to the Finals.
SC: This trade hurts the Pistons more than it helps them. Iverson may be instant offense, but he totally changes this team’s dynamic. The Pistons gave up a great point guard who is excellent at controlling the tempo of the game. Billups is excellent at spreading the ball around, which is not what Iverson is known for. Hell, he’s not even a natural point guard. The Celtics are still a force to be reckoned with. Ray Allen is still lights out from downtown. Age hasn’t affected his ability to shoot. He’ll get plenty of looks with Pierce’s ability to slash to the basket and draw in the double team. And there is always that other guy, what’s his name, oh yeah, Kevin Garnett. I still think the Celtics are the Eastern Conference Champions this year. Sorry A.I.
BO: As far as winning more regular season games goes, the Detroit Pistons may have a chance to surpass the Boston Celtics in that area, but I still give the Celtics the head-to-head advantage if it comes down to the two teams in the conference finals, which chances are it will. The bottom line is that although the Pistons got one big name scorer, Boston still has three. At the guard positions, Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen are evenly matched with key acquisition Allen Iverson and Richard Hamilton, although the Detroit pair may produce more points. However, the forward positions are where the Celts have them beat, as superstars Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett can outshoot and out-rebound Tayshawn Prince and Rasheed Lewis into the cold Michigan night. The centers do not factor much in this equation and in June, the Boston Garden will be the place to be for another championship run with KG, Allen and Pierce leading the way.
MO: Queally takes this question for dissecting the deal in full and how it affects Detroit’s offense and defense, respectively. Bobby, you get the 2 for going up and down the lineup of both teams and discussing how that would play out. Cohen, you hyped up the Celts too much, and didn’t say enough about the impact on the Pistons. Uno.
Queally goes to the finals 7.5-5.5-5. Duncan keeps his wild card spot.