Sports Editor Mike Hume takes his monthly dive into his mailbag.
Any post-season baseball predictions I should lay on the line in Vegas?
There are two reasons I refrain from predictions. First, I’m awful at predictions. Second, there is no such thing as predictability when it comes to postseason series. Heck, there’s no predicting the regular season. The biggest case in point resides in Flushing Meadows — emphasis on the Flush. If anything can happen over the course of 162 games what makes a five or seven game series easier to pin down? Nothing.
Predictions are pretty silly in my mind, but respected analysts from all kinds of media outlets offer up their selections for everything from the NFL to the World Series of Dice. The consensus at the major league trading deadline was that Red Sox were clear winners because they landed Eric Gagne. Turns out, Gagne single-handedly kept the Yankees in the AL East race until the last weekend of the season.
The great thing about sports is that anything can happen and you never know when the smallest thing will come back to haunt you. I mean, who knew that the Mets doomed their season when they turned down Dr. Heimlich for the team trainer position last Spring?
What do you think about the Caps heading into the season? What’s not to like about a lineup that now features Michael Nylander, Viktor Kozlov, Tom Poti and Nicklas Backstrom in addition to the Alex the Great (Ovechkin) and Alex the Pretty Darn Good (Semin)?
There’s no doubt the scoring should be much improved for the Capitals this year, but their defense is what needs to come around if they want to contend for the playoffs. Poti will help, but more so with power-play production than with neutralizing an opponent’s top scoring line. Last year the Caps allowed the fifth most goals in the league (275). That needs to change and the young defensemen, like Shaone Morrisonn, Mike Green and Jeff Schultz, must continue to improve.
The goals should be there, but let’s keep perspective on the rookie Backstrom. A No. 4 overall pick should be a star someday, but will he have the same impact as Ovechkin did in his rookie campaign? He’s still a rookie learning a new league, a new system and a new line.
If he does match Ovie’s impact though, take everything I just typed about the defense and use it to line Slapshot’s bird cage, because it won’t matter.
You may have been getting your beauty sleep on Monday night, but I think the umpires blew it in the Rockies-Padres play-in game. The natural next question: Do you support replay in baseball games?
With apologies to those still scarred by the single biggest defensive play by the all-time hits leader at Wesleyan University — that would be Jeffrey Maier — I don't think replay in baseball is a good idea. I know it seems like I'm arguing against accuracy and I've heard the “What's three more minutes in a four-hour game?” line before. I guess I don't see what's so bad about keeping the same system that's been around since the game began.
Aside from the Maier incident, can you name one bad call off the top of your head that has cost a Major League team a game in the postseason? Maybe I just haven't had my coffee yet, but I can't think of any.
The bigger shame of all of this, is that the Rockies' heroic season-ending streak, at one point winning 11 straight games and 14 of their final 15, is taking a back seat to the missed call, a fledgling replay debate and the Mets' epic collapse. You want a good story? Try one with an ending that has Colorado capping that inconceivable run with a win against the likely NL Cy Young winner in Jake Peavy and the all-time saves leader in Trevor Hoffman.