Eddie-torial: Sidney Crosby, 2017 NFL QBs, College FB polls

Eddie & Sidney Crosby
Where’s Waldo, Sidney Crosby-style!

Running off the keyboard…

  • Earlier this week, Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins turned 30 years old.  No longer “the Kid,” Crosby has captained 3 Stanley Cup winners, 2 Olympic gold medal squads, and 1 World Cup of Hockey gold medal winner.  Individually, Sid has collected 2 Conn Smythe trophies, 2 Hart Trophy (MVP) trophies, 3 Ted Lindsay trophies (best player as voted by the players), 2 Art Ross trophies (scoring title) and 2 Maurice Richard trophies (most goals).  Throw in his 6th ranked all-time points per game average of 1.31 in an era when goals are difficult to come by and how can anyone deny that Crosby isn’t at least in the conversation for top 5 players of all-time? He has accomplished all of this before age 30 and is showing no signs of slowing down.  Whether you love him or hate him, you cannot deny the greatness of number eighty-seven.
  • The quarterback position is in such an interesting spot in today’s NFL.  It’s a league where a regular starter like Colin Kaepernick can’t find a job yet lousy signal callers like Jay Cutler and Mike Glennon are being entrusted with the keys of their teams.  Some teams seem to never be able to find a franchise guy (Browns, Jets, Bills, Jaguars) while others have had an elite QB since the turn of the 21st century (Packers, Colts).  Speaking of great players under center, Rodgers, Brady, Roethlisberger, Brees, and Eli are sure-fire Hall of Famers with guys like Rivers, Ryan, Flacco (injured), and Wilson owning resumes that will put them in the conversation someday.  There are number one overall picks who could be entering their primes in Luck and Newton and second year studs like Prescott and Wentz that could end up owning this league in the near future.  Throw in very good yet never fully trusted guys like Kirk Cousins and Andy Dalton into the conversation and we are approaching another fun year of quarterbacking.
  • There are few things more pointless in sports than the preseason polls for college football.  It is one thing for the sports media to rank and predict who they think will be the best teams as a way of getting the schools and fans hyped, but a whole other thing for teams who have yet to play a game to all of a sudden be officially ranked.  No surprise to me that only one Group of 5 (G5) school was ranked (the Cows of West Florida), because we all know that all 24 Power 5 (P5) teams sitting in the polls are so much greater than any of the other 65 G5 teams.  Give me a break!  The G5 had three teams ranked in the final Coaches Poll in 2014, 2015, and 2016.  While three is not significantly more than one, it’s just one example of the P5 bias in the polls.  Not surprising was how many of the P5 schools rewarded by name recognition were well overrated last season. As someone always looking to make sports better, I propose not ranking anyone until we’re at least 4 weeks into the season.  Make these schools earn it on the field!

Eddie-torial: Baseball & the unlikely HOF paths of Warner, Davis

Running off the keyboard…

While he has hit 4 more home runs, Yankees’ stud RF Aaron Judge has been a disappointment since the All Star Break. The rookie slugger has seen his batting average drop from .329 to .299 entering Thursday night, with no multi-hit games since July 18. While the Bronx Bombers did very well at the trade deadline, they will need Judge to return to MVP form if they are to hold off the Red Sox in the NL East…. Most teams with a chance to make a push at the division do well when facing 3 of the worst teams in the National League. The Pittsburgh Pirates are not most teams. No good moves at the deadline, yet another wasted year of the Andrew McCutchen era. Chances are, Cutch will have to get a shot at a World Series ring somewhere else. You are more likely to get struck by lightning than for owner Bob Nutting to increase the payroll….Don’t look now, but entering Thursday night, the Chicago Cubs are 14-4 since the All Star break and look primed to run away from the Brewers. It’s amazing what a championship can do to change our perception of this run: the Cubbies will be the scariest team come the postseason!….Casual baseball fan: who leads the AL and NL in batting average? If you guessed Jose Altuve of the Astros and Justin Turner of the Dodgers, I would be very surprised. Yes, Altuve has been a stud for a while, but he often gets lost playing in Houston by the national media; Turner is more surprising as he only has had great success in limit action, hitting .340 in just 288 at-bats in 2014, but no better than .295 in seasons with at least 385 at-bats. Not shocking is that both guys have their teams on top of their respective leagues….Kurt Warner and Terrell Davis are two of the most unlikely Pro Football Hall of Famers we have ever seen. We all know Warner’s story: from grocery store clerk to Arena Football to Super Bowl MVP. The orchestrator of the Greatest Show on Turf only had 6 good years, but boy, were they GOOD years or what? One has to wonder what Kurt’s numbers would look like if he played his prime in today’s era. As for Davis, he only played 4 fully healthy years before injuries destroyed his career; however, that 4-year stretch was arguably as impressive as any running back in NFL history. Consider also that a 2,000 yard season was part of it and that Davis was the focal point on offense for a back-to-back Super Bowl champion and you have the criteria for what gets a running back with a short resume into the Hall. Congrats to both deserving men on the highest honor in pro football!

The Eddie-torial: New Weekly Segment

UCF Football

Running off the keyboard…

The Pittsburgh Steelers find themselves in a lousy spot to start NFL Training Camp, with wide receiver Martavis Bryant not eligible to practice because he’s still under conditional reinstatement with the NFL over substance abuse violations.  While there is a good chance that Bryant gets cleared soon to participate with the team, more concerning is superstar running back Le’Veon Bell not reporting to camp.  On one hand, I get why Bell wants to hold out: he is the best all-around back in the game; injuries can happen at any time, so the man wants to get paid and receive long-term financial security.  However, in reality, Bell has not stayed healthy over the course of his career and plays a position with a short shelf life; typically, giving a half back a lucrative long-term deal does not usually work out the way teams hope.  In addition, “Juice” has already been suspended twice for drug-related offenses in his 4-year career.  While a prolonged holdout would be ugly, Pittsburgh is in the driver seat on this one and shouldn’t risk it.  Bell only hurts himself long-term.  If he’s smart, he takes his $12.2 million franchise tag and trusts that either a) the Steelers give him a reasonable long-term deal in the future or b) he strikes it rich on the open market next season…If you’re a Dodgers fan, you have to feel pretty good about your chances this year in the National League, unless, of course, you look across the country and see what the Washington Nationals are doing.  The Nats are just mashing the ball, hitting 4 HRs in a row and 8 within 4 innings on Thursday against Milwaukee.  None other than right fielder Bryce Harper is leading the way.  His 2 bombs on Thursday give him 9 in July; he’s also hitting .429 with a .506 OBP for the month.  Combine Harper’s hitting prowess with Daniel Murphy (.340), Ryan Zimmerman (.318), and Anthony Rendon (.317) as well as Cy Young-worthy Max Scherzer (if you are a Kershaw lover and scoff at that, the numbers speak for themselves) and you have to believe the Nats could easily be the team that could spoil another golden opportunity for the Dodgers come the postseason…Smart move: Novak Djokovic choosing to sit out the US Open to follow Roger Federer’s lead and get healthy.  Speaking of Federer, he and Rafael Nadal have to love their chances at Flushing Meadows.  Let’s hope we get one more epic final between the two greatest tennis players of all time…No opening Eddie-torial would seem complete without a take on LeBron James.  Kyrie Irving can hardly be blamed for wanting out of Cleveland.  The reality is, LeBron has done nothing to give anyone on the Cavaliers any confidence that he will be sticking around long-term.  Combine that with Irving’s belief that he can be “the guy” and I get why he is trying to make his own “Decision” early….Best news of the day: UCF Football camp opened on Thursday morning.  Yes, I am including that in a column on the national sports scene.  Yes, you will have to get used to that this fall. No, I am not sorry #ChargeOn