A few midweek thoughts for your perusal:
-- I don't mind the current round of NHL expansion. Las Vegas was bound to be cracked by some sport at some point, so hockey might as well be the test pilot. I don't treat it as a true part of the Sun Belt, an area of the country the NHL spent way, way too much time and energy exploring over the past three decades. Vegas is a special town with a special set of circumstances, and it's worth a shot.
This is a far cry from the 1990s, when the NHL got stupid in expanding from 22 to 30 teams and, between expansion and relocation, went to too many places that had/have little true interest in the sport -- Florida, Tampa, Anaheim, San Jose, Dallas, Phoenix, Carolina, Nashville, Atlanta, etc. While some of those markets have turned into strong spots, the league still spread itself too thin too quickly, and paid the price as the quality of play and overall interest suffered. It has only recently recovered.
But now the NHL needs to even out the conferences, as there's a disparity between the 16 teams in the East and the 14 in the West. This has led to the confusing and distracting wild-card system. The NHL would be best served with 32 teams, 16 in each conference and 8 in each division. Then the top four in each division make the postseason and play each other over the first two rounds. No more wild cards, no more crossing over.
So one more team is needed, and if it goes to Quebec City then someone needs to move west. (Columbus?) It also wouldn't hurt to get out of those places where it still doesn't matter and move to some more places where it does. Seattle or Portland should have a team. The Toronto area could probably handle another club, as well. The NHL has never worked in Phoenix, and why is it necessary to have a team in Tennessee or North Carolina?
Anyway, the league can go wherever it wants just so long as Kevan Miller and his contract gets picked in the expansion draft.
-- LeBron James doesn't need to win these NBA Finals to save face. He only needs to do what he has done far too rarely over his career -- go down fighting. Of course, James finally did just that in Game 5 Monday night in Oakland.
If James ultimately comes up short, most everyone will understand. Golden State is the better team. They have home-court advantage. There's no shame in losing to them.
But this series now needs to go seven games. And James needs to play well the rest of the way. If he doesn't, his reputation takes another hit. In other words, Monday can't be a one-off situation.
-- If I'm the Jets at this point, I just go with Geno Smith at quarterback. Seriously. The Ryan Fitzpatrick thing isn't going to work; I find it hard to imagine everyone can kiss and make up and put it all behind them when it matters. Besides -- and this seems to be getting lost in the shuffle -- Fitzpatrick isn't that good! He's never put together two good seasons, back-to-back. And there's no reason to believe that's going to happen now. Heck, he's barely had two good seasons, period. Only once has he had a QB rating above 90 -- and last year wasn't even it (he was at 88 in his ``breakout'' season).
So, really, what's all the fuss about? Smith can chuck the ball down the field and let Brandon Marshall go get it, too. And while Smith may be a tad more mistake prone, it's not like he needs to improve much in that area to catch Fitzpatrick and his 154-116 career TD-Int ratio. All Smith needs to do is improve his accuracy a bit (Fitzgerald completed 59.6 percent of his passes last year; Smith has a career mark of 57.9) and not puke on himself at the end of games as much as Fitzgerald. If he does, the Jets will be just fine.
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