Sunday, July 1, 2012

Sullinger Solid; Tribe Stinks with #1 Closer; 8-Team Field For CFB Playoff

C.B.S. Sports Notes

Sullinger Will Be Solid
Ohio State product, Jared Sullinger was a hot topic in last week's NBA draft.  League GMs' reservations regarding a back injury that nagged the 6', 9" forward last year were compounded by questions about his skill set and height, and how that combination might translate to pro ball.  All things considered, Sullinger was very appropriately snatched up by the Boston Celtics with the 21st pick in the draft.  Regardless of physical issues, Jared Sullinger never was a lottery pick as he was hyped to be.   It's true: he's a power forward by trade but falls an inch or two short at that position in the NBA.  It's also true that he has a combination of tools, including a jump-hook he can dump in from seemingly any angle, which ensured a first-round selection.

Boston GM Danny Ainge zeroing in on Sullinger makes perfect sense.  Maybe the former Celtics gritty hustler recalls from the his playing days a big man with a certain Boston nemesis .  When I think of Sullinger, the first player I'm reminded of is 6', 1" forward/center, Mychal Thompson as he fit on the late 80s championship Lakers teams--the perfect utility man to fill out a starting line full of stars.  That's Sullinger.  Expect a very solid NBA career in which he either starts or gets quality time as a 6th-man role, rebounds well, bangs around and defends very effectively down low, helps out with 15 or so points a game and otherwise picks up the slack for the go-to guys--very effectively.  Think Rick Mahorn or Charles Oakley with a few extra chops on offense.  Don't be surprised if he wins a 6th-man-of-the-year award at some point or even sneaks into an all-star game or two.  Plain and simple: he's not a small forward which is what his height would dictate in the NBA.  Another well-evidenced knock on Sullinger is that his shots get swatted too often inside.  If that was a problem in college ball, what could alleviate it in the bigs?  If anything, it might get worse.  He won't be a super-star.

Tribe Has Leading Closer; Sits at .500
According to my handy-dandy S.I. app, outspoken Cleveland Indians closer, Chris Perez is tied for the lead in saves in the majors.  Opposing batters are hitting .171 against Perez who was just selected for his second straight All-Star appearance.  Also according to my S.I. app, the Cleveland Indians are one game above .500 which is good enough for second place in the less than impressive AL Central.

Comparing any team--in any sport, really--to the New York Yankees is unfair.  Nevertheless, it's no secret that the one constant on the great Yankees teams of the past 15+ years has been Mariano Rivera who is generally considered the greatest closer ever.  Oh, but those teams were full of super-stars, right?  Really?  Take another look at the late-90s Yankees teams.  Yes--the teams that won the World Series in '96, '98, '99, and '00.  They had a young Derek Jeter and Bernie Williams and Paul O'Neil, sure, but none were bona fide super-stars at that point though those three were very, very popular and very, very good players.  Rivera's major league debut was with the Yankees in May of '95.  The mighty Yankees last World Series win prior to Rivera's sophomore year was some time in the late 70s.  The math isn't that difficult.  What else?  Let's see...

There are 2 closers currently tied with Perez for the lead in saves: a J. Johnson of the Orioles and a C. Kimbrel of Atlanta.  The Orioles' record is 42-35, the Braves, 41-36.  Yep--I'm taking the very long way around to say something very simple (I write for the sake of writing.): If your team is sitting at .500 in the worst division in baseball and has the best closer in the game, your team simply must otherwise be pretty bad.  Oh, no, wait--the tribe still has Grady Sizemore.  Apparently his injury-proneness, highlighted by a knee problem, has prevented the Yankees from snatching the potential Hall-of-Famer from the rusty jaws of Cleveland despair.  Poor Grady.  Memo to Brian Cashman:  Give ol' Grady one last look, will ya?  He deserves better.

Perfect College Football Playoff-Field Size?  8
I was going to write an in-depth opinion on the size of the playoff field in college football, but straight-talking sports caster, Bob Costas nearly said it all in a recent tweet on the subject:  "Need an 8 team w/conf. champs and 2 at large, rotate btwn 6 bowls. Keep bowl system, get a real champ."

All I might add is that I suspect that the majority of the college football world is in agreement that 16 teams is too many--with MAC and Mountain West schools keeping dissenting opinion alive--as it would devalue the regular season, the main argument of CFB playoff detractors.  I have come to agree with that sentiment after originally thinking a 16-team field would be best.  With a 16-team playoff, the possibility exists that the top 2 or 3 teams in the nation would have the option of pulling their stars in their final regular-season or even their conference championship game, however unlikely that might seem, and still get a playoff berth.  I doubt any team would take such a chance with an 8-team field.  Also, with an 8-team field, season-ending clashes between 1-loss and undefeated rivals--which has been known to happen between between Ohio State and Michigan, for example, or in many conference championship games--would, in effect, be for a playoff berth.  With a 16-team field, the loser of such a game would still have playoff hopes.  8's the best number.


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