Well, it has certainly been a long break since a blog update, but with 2009 in full swing now I promise that will change.
1) The Yankees Free- Agent Spending Spree:
So has anyone told the Yankees that the country is currently in an economic recession? After spending nearly$424 million dollars in contracts (with the signings of SP CC Sabathia, SP A.J. Burnett and 1B Mark Teixeira) , the Yankees now have the FOUR HIGHEST PAID Players in baseball (Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, CC Sabathia and Mark Teixeira).
Now, I understand that the Yankees had some money to spend, considering $88.5 million came off the books when OF Bobby Abreu ($16 million), Jason Giambi ($23.4 million), Mike Mussina ($11 million) and Carl Pavano ($11 million) among others became free agents. However, considering how prudent some of the other big market teams that also have money to spend have been this offseason, clearly moving into the brand-new Yankee Stadium next season has made the Yankees, for a lack of a better term, “recession-proof”.
It is news like this that always brings up the great debate of whether or not MLB should adopt a hard salary cap like some of the other professional sports. On one hand, one can make the argument that we live in a capitalistic society and that if you have the money to spend, nothing should stop you from doing so. On the other side of things, you can point to the NFL’s implentation of the hard salary cap in 1994 and its immediate rise to the top of the sports world in the US in just 10 years.
2) UGA’s 24-12 Capital One Bowl Victory over Michigan State:
The game was not pretty at times, but considering that has been the common mantra for the 2008 Bulldogs it was only fitting that it was fitting that the Dawgs ended their season on that kind of note. Clearly UGA was the better 9-3 team last Thursday afternoon, but due to the usual culprits(7 penalties for 53 yards and 2 turnovers) Georgia made the game a whole lot closer than it should have been.
Regardless, a win is a win and it was great to see the defense (six sacks and holding MSU to only 236 yards of offense and 12 points) and Matthew Stafford (20-31 250 yds and 3 TDs in perhaps his final game as Bulldog) end the season on a high note. Unfortunately, Senior WR Mohamed Massaquoi ( 1 catch 10 yds) and potentially NFL-bound RB Knowshon Moreno (23 carries for just 62 yds, though did have 6 catches for 63 yds and a game-icing TD late in the 4th quarter) did not have the kind of performances they would have liked, certainly they must be happy that the team rebounded from the surprising loss to Georgia Tech to cap the end of the regular season and finished the year with 10 wins for the 6th time in the last 7 seasons.
Like the Falcons, for those of you who are not aware, the Atlanta Hawks are back. At 22-11, they have the 4th best record in the Eastern Conference and have the 6th best record in the NBA. They are off to their best start since the strike-shortened 1998-1999 season and with such a young nucleus, the future appears to be very bright for an organization that for the better part of a decade had been used as a model of how to not run a sports organization.
With the Falcons and Bulldogs football seasons coming to a close and with the Atlanta Thrashers (13-22-5 and having the 2nd worst record in the NHL) struggling mightily after winning their division for the first time in the franchise’s history just two years ago, we will continue to give more exposure to the surging Hawks.
4) The Playoff-Bound Atlanta Falcons:
Yes, I know that they lost on Saturday to the Arizona Cardinals, so technically they are no longer playoff bound anymore as the season is over, but again I am trying my best to recap a month’s worth of news here so give me a break!
Anyways, at 11-5, the Falcons made their 9th trip to the postseason in franchise history. What an unbelievable season, by far the biggest surprise in Atlanta sports since the worst to first 1991 Braves. Pro football is alive and well again in Atlanta and while it was a very brief run in the playoffs, like the Hawks, the Falcons seem primed for their best days laying ahead.
Next year will be a critical step for the organization, as the Falcons attempt to have back-to-back winning seasons for the first time in franchise history. Now, while I consider myself an optimist, I truly believe that the pieces are in place, with a young roster and a solid coaching staff that is backed by a front office that has been solidified by new GM, Thomas Dimitroff.
5) Utah Utes: Undefeated National Champions?
After their surprising Sugar Bowl victory over #4 Alabama, 31-17, at 13-0 the Utes will finish the season as the only undefeated team. Now, some might question their schedule, but to play devil’s advocate (because I truly believe that you can make the National Champion argument for USC, Texas if they win tonight and the winner of Oklahoma-UF on Thursday) they will have beaten #4 Alabama, #11 TCU (who will finish as another Top 10 team), #17 BYU and #24 Oregon State.
To put that in perspective, even if UF beats #1 Oklahoma they would have only won three games against Top 25 teams in the final polls: #1 Oklahoma, #4 Alabama and #15 (BCS Ranking) UGA. With a win against Florida, Oklahoma would have beaten 6 teams ranked in the Top 25: #2 UF, #8 Texas Tech, #11 TCU, #12 Cincinnati, #13 Oklahoma State and #25 Missouri.
I have said it time and time again, but it is time for a playoff system. It will never happen (at least not in the immediate future), but the incompetence of our current system is very frustrating. The first three BCS games’ average victory margin is 13.67 pts and it wasn’t pretty last year either (20 pts).
Finally, on Thursday night, as tempted as you may be now that Alabama lost, DO NOT root for Florida. It really does not make any sense to root for arguably your most hated rival. Forget all of that ” Well they are in the SEC, so we ought to root for them” crap. Instead of ranting on and on about why you are wrong to do so, I will let the guys over at the Georgia Sports Blog “educate” those of you who are delusional to root for Florida: http://georgiasports.blogspot.com/2008/12/enemy-of-my-enemy.html