With two contestants already winning in the AtD Playoffs there is only one more spot up for grabs in the AtD Finals. No. 3-seeded Correspondent Mike McLoughlin will try to stop Staff Writer Chris Rotolo and Correspondent Dan Neyman from pulling an upset. Editor-in-Chief Bobby Olivier will ask the contestants if Eddie Jordan deserved to be dismissed, will David Ortiz turn this season around and which NFL trade will have a bigger impact.
1. The Philadelphia 76ers fired head coach Eddie Jordan after one “unacceptable” season. Was this firing well-deserved or should Jordan have been given another shot?
CR: I feel like the face of the 76ers franchise is still Allen Iverson, as if the organization never really recovered from his departure, and even tried to relive those golden days this season. What moves have the front office made since Iverson left? The acquisition of an aging Elton Brand? Sometimes a head coach can be victimized by a front office that does not provide that coach with a talented enough player personnel to win games. Andre Igoudala is the star of the 76ers and that just is not good enough. I’m not saying Eddie Jordan was the right man for the job, but let’s be real, Pat Riley could not make a winner out of this collection of sub-par players. The firing was undeserved, especially after only one season, which leads me to believe the Jordan hiring was never meant to be a long-term marriage.
DN: It’s hard to put all of the blame on Eddie Jordan for this past year. The 76ers, simply put, were a bad team this year. While I don’t think that Jordan’s firing was completely justified, I also have no arguments against it. As a coach, regardless of the situation, you are expected to perform. The 76ers had made the playoffs the past two years, so Jordan should have been able to take this team to the playoffs. The 76ers will find a new coach to hopefully shake things up, and it appears likely that Jordan will be the next head coach at Rutgers. Jordan should want no part of the 76ers because while they might be playoff worthy, they are years from competing for an NBA title.
MM: While New York is the toughest place for a team that is underperforming, Philadelphia’s Eddie Jordan was fired prematurely and should have been given another shot. It is not as if the 76ers were one of the best teams in the East. Did they have a bad year? Yes. But the same way Mike D’Antoni should not be fired for the Knicks’ struggles, neither should Jordan have been.
BO: Chris gets the 3 here for mentioning the front office – the real problem with this franchise. Dan gets the 2 for mentioning the 76ers making the playoffs the last two years. Mike gets 1 for not giving enough support for his answer.
2. David Ortiz has fallen under a bunch of criticism that he is finished, and he continues to lash out at the media, claiming he just needs some time. Will Big Papi make a comeback or is he washed up?
CR: Ortiz is on the wrong side of 35 years old, and, with the implementation of stricter steroid policy, he is without the aid of pharmaceuticals. Nobody will say or write it, but, it’s no surprise his numbers have dramatically decreased since the MLB has cracked down on steroids use. Ortiz is out of shape, at an unathletic 230 pounds, and adds very little to an aging Boston lineup that can’t be provided by the likes of a Jack Cust, who is currently with Oakland’s Triple-A affiliate in Sacramento and available for cheap, or Carlos Lee, who will be up for trade sooner rather than
later as the Astros will continue to slip further into the depths of the NL Central. Ortiz’s sack of diminishing skills sits directly in the middle of Boston’s lineup and, at 4th place in the AL East, the Sox will continue to be dragged down if they do not part ways with Big Papi, or at least reduce his role. If Boston could better Jason Varitek, the team’s captain, with Victor Martinez, then the organization should not feel any guilt over cutting ties with Big Papi.
DN: Big Papi will never be what he once was. He is too old, fat and slow to put up those kind of numbers. That being said, he still has enough left in him to put up around 25 homers and 80 RBI’s. He started off terribly last year and had a relatively strong second half. His bat has slowed, but he still has the power to take the ball deep, especially over the course of a full season. He is a full-time DH, so the likelihood of injury is lower, even though he’ll probably hurt himself somehow. Ortiz is a shell of his former self, but if the Red Sox are simply using him for the home run or bust approach, a la Matt Stairs, then he should suffice. If anyone is expecting him to come within smelling distance of his former numbers, you’re out of your mind. If you lower your expectations, then you’ll realize that Ortiz is still a useful commodity.
MM: Last year Big Papi got off to a horrific start, but still managed to have a respectable season. I do not think he will ever return to his 50-home run 120 RBI levels from a few years ago. He is getting older and his beer belly physique does not appear to be aging well. Still, he came back from wrist problems last year and was OK, and this year he appears healthier at the start of the year. I expect a prolonged slump for the Sox slugger, but he’s in a good hitter’s ballpark with a good hitting team around him. He will see his pitches, and he will eventually get his hits.
BO: Chris gets the 3 for making the Jason Varitek comparison, which I completely agree with. Dan gets 2 for comparing Ortiz to Matt Stairs, and Mike gets 1 for telling me nothing I did not already know.
3. Which was the better signing? The Jets snagging Santonio Holmes or the Dolphins grabbing Brandon Marshall? Why?
CR: The Dolphins nearly made the playoffs last season and the acquisition of Brandon Marshall should push them into at least a wild card slot. Marshall’s presence in Miami will help all facets of the Dolphin’s offense. With Marshall and Ted Ginn Jr. spreading the field, an already potent
rushing attack led by Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams should only benefit, placing Williams’ career on a permanent pedestal with Michael Phelps’ as a pair of the worst anti-drug campaigns in the history of America’s War On Drugs. In all seriousness, Chad Henne emerged as a very adequate NFL quarterback last season, and did so without anything remotely resembling a receiving corp. With Marshall, Henne now has that big go to receiver every quarterback covets, like a warm security blanket waiting on the wings as the pocket collapses. Also, look for Ted Ginn Jr. to finally emerge as the receiving threat Miami expected when they drafted the speedster in the first round of the 2007 draft.
DN: While both signings were surprising and huge for both teams, Santonio Holmes will prove to be the better of the trades. Even though he is suspended for the first four games of the year, Marshall isn’t exactly a boyscout and will probably be suspended at some point in the season. Also, Holmes only cost the Jets a fifth-round pick, whereas Marshall cost the Dolphins two second-round picks. Even though he was won the Super Bowl, Holmes is clearly an inferior WR in comparison to Marshall. That being said, the addition of Holmes gives the Jets a nice receiving duo of Holmes and Edwards, whereas Marshall will be the only threat the Dolphins have in the air. Simply put, Marshall makes the Dolphins a wild-card contender, but Holmes (along with other key additions) makes the Jets Super Bowl favorites.
MM: Both of these signings are excellent, and the AFC East is becoming a very intriguing division. However, I believe the Brandon Marshall signing is better for several reasons. First, Holmes is going to be suspended for the first 4 games, which costs him dearly in a head to head comparison with Marshall. While both receivers are great talents, I also think that Marshall at his best is the superior receiver. He has an unbelievable knack for catching hard to reach passes and getting open. Lastly, Marshall helps the Dolphins receiving core more than Holmes helps the Jets. The Jets were already set up on offense, Holmes is the cherry on top. Marshall, especially with the departure of Ginn, will prove to be more integral for his team.
BO: Dan gets the 3 for calling the Jets a Super Bowl contender, which makes my heart warm. Chris gets 2 for talking about the Dolphins spreading the field. Mike gets 1 for less facts than the other two.
Chris takes the last seat in the finals, 8 – 7 – 3