Pancakes In The Age of Enlightenment- Space Ain't No Place To Raise Your Kids

LEADING OFF
Now that’s what I call a MAN-DATE! Yeeehah!

They are merely exchanging long protein strands. If you can think of a better way, I’d like to hear it.

BIG PIMPIN’
Before we get started, lets take a moment to check out what else is available to you, for when you inevitably get sick of this column:

– Todd Rogers gives a different viewpoint on the Draft.
– Patrick Nguyen treats us to some Britney boob action.
– Mark Urciuolo prepares for his blessed event.
– Oli Porter laments EPL Football becoming Major League Baseball in short pants.
– Steve Price lives and breathes NASCAR.

NFL GENUINE DRAUGHT- NFC EAST
First off, let me make clear that there is probably no sports related event on the current landscape that is more ridiculously scrutinized than the NFL Draft. Outside of the first 2 rounds, with rare exceptions, you have nobody that is going to make an impact this year, and probably only a handful of guys that will be in the league the year after that. But ESPN has made it into a big deal, and I am primarily a football writer, so we’re going to go in depth on these future special teams wedge breakers, substitute teachers, and Arena Football players! And we are going to take this ultra slow, doing only ONE division a week instead of 2 like we did for free agency, because, well, that takes us through the end of June, and nothing happens in the NFL between now and the start of training camps.

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES
DAY 1
After losing the Super Bowl to a Patriots team that espouses a philosophy of taking, smallish, tough, heady ballplayers, the Eagles seemed to have that philosophy in mind when stocking their cupboard with 11 picks this year.

1st Round, 32nd Pick- Mike Patterson, DT, USC
Patterson is a small, agile defensive lineman who the Eagles hope can penetrate the offensive line and make some plays in the backfield.

2nd Round, 35th Pick- Reggie Brown, WR, Georgia
With Freddie Mitchell likely out of the picture for 05, Brown will be a nice complement to TO. Brown is a great athlete who has good quickness and size. Brown can bust a play loose after the catch, and with his leaping ability will give Donovan McNabb the option of throwing up jump balls in the end zone that Brown will likely come down with.

2nd Round, 63rd Pick- Matt McCoy, OLB, San Diego St.
McCoy is another player in the New England mold. He’s an undersized guy who has great instincts, is a big hitter, and plays very hard.

3rd Round, 77th Pick- Ryan Moats, RB, Louisiana Tech
Moats is a waterbug type back who likely will be used in third down situations. He lacks the size to be an every down back, but will provide a change of pace.

And the rest…
Sean Considine (Iowa) is a safety who isn’t the greatest athletically but is tough and a good run defender. The Eagles drafted a trio of O lineman in Todd Herremans (4th Round, Saginaw Valley St.), Scott Young (5th Round, BYU), and Calvin Armstrong (6th Round, Washington St.), and hope one of them pans out. An intriguing pick is 7th round DT Keyonta Marshall (Grand Valley St.), who dominated at the small school level as a run stuffer.

NY GIANTS
Due to last year’s draft day gymnastics to pick up QB Eli Manning, the Gents found themselves with only 4 picks this year, and no first round selection. Still, the Giants had a nice draft and managed to pick up some quality prospects.

DAY 1
2nd Round, 43rd Pick- Corey Webster, CB, LSU
The Giants used their 4 picks to draft for need areas, and corner was a big one. Webster was playing thru an injury for much of 04, but he is a big corner who also plays smart.

3rd Round, 74th Pick- Justin Tuck, DE, Notre Dame
ND’s all time leading sack leader could be a steal. Tuck is a pure pass rusher who is weak against the run, which explains his drop. He will be a pass rushing specialist, and if he does it well, this is a great 3rd round pick for the Giants.

And the rest..
RB Brandon Jacobs (4th round, S. Illinois), is a huge running back who was drafted to be what the Giants wished Ron Dayne would have been, a battering ram who can give Tiki Barber a breather now and then. DE Eric Moore (6th round, Florida St.), is another pass rush specialist, but who didn’t see nearly as much success in college as Tuck did.

WASHINGTON REDSKINS
The ultimate outcome of the Skins draft this year hinges on whether Joe Gibbs is still a genius or merely a crazy old man who has inhaled too many exhaust fumes at the NASCAR tracks. Most are panning their picks, but as with all drafts, it is really too soon to tell.

DAY 1
1st Round, 9th Pick- Carlos Rogers, CB, Auburn
As bad as the Redskins offense was last year, and with WR Mike Williams still on the board, this pick was interesting. Rogers is seen as a solid corner. Not spectacular, but solid. He is kind of good, not great, in all areas, except tackling, which is he is not so consistent at.

1st Round, 25th Pick- Jason Campbell, QB, Auburn
Well this was the pick that made everyone do a Moe Syzlak and go, “WHAAAAAAAAA?”. The Redskins traded earlier in the week to get this pick. With a young QB already in the fold in Patrick Ramsey, and more pressing needs at other positions, this pick was definitely a gamble. Campbell has great raw ability, and a great arm, but he is a project and one that many feel is not worthy of a first round pick. Especially when trading for that pick means you are left without a 2nd or 3rd round selection.

And the rest..
The Redskins made another odd move in drafting not one but 2 fullback types in the late rounds. Manuel White (4th round, UCLA), and Nehemiah Broughton (7th Round, Citadel), are both big FB/RB tweener types, who I guess Gibbs may try to use in an H-back type role (kind of a cross between a fullback and tight end).
LB Robert McCune (5th round, Louisville), is a strong player who can shed blocks and may emerge as a late round find.

This is a Crazy Old Man. Is Joe Gibbs one too?

DALLAS COWBOYS
The entire draft for the Cowboys was centered around their planned transition from a 4-3 to a 3-4 defense. This switch requires fast linebackers, and stout defensive lineman. Pretty much every pick made addressed those areas. The Boys also signed former Houston CB Aaron Glenn this week to shore up the secondary.

DAY 1
1st Round, 11th Pick- Demarcus Ware, OLB, Troy
Ware has been described as the ideal 3-4 outside linebacker. He is quick and explosive and is pretty much exactly what the Cowboys were looking for with their 1st selection. Maryland’s Shawn Merriman was another option for this pick, but Dallas felt Ware was the better all around player rather than just a pure pass rusher.

1st Round, 20th Pick- Marcus Spears, DE, LSU
Spears is another guy who fits perfectly in a 3-4 defense. He is not a great pass rusher, but as a 3-4 lineman, he doesn’t have to be. He will be asked to stop the run and tie up blockers so Ware can swoop in and make plays.

2nd Round, 42nd Pick- Kevin Burnett, OLB, Tennessee
Many publications projected Burnett as being a first round pick, so the Cowboys got a good value taking him in the second round. Again, Burnett is a good fit for the Cowboys’ scheme. He is a former safety who has good speed and hits hard. He will be another component of what should be a great young defense.

And the rest…
RB Marion Barber (4th round, Minnesota) is a smooth runner who will spell Julius Jones. DE Chris Canty (4th round Virginia was a late round steal who is a stout run stopping lineman. Safety Justin Beriault (6th round, Ball St.) could be a good special teams performer. OT Rob Pettiti (6th round, Pitt), and DE Jay Ratliff (7th round, Auburn) round out the picks and will try to stick on the O and D lines.

IN A NUTSHELL
The Eagles obviously have patterned their draft after what New England does. Whether they do it as well as the Pats do remains to be seen.

Dallas went balls out defense this year, and it could pay off big.

The Giants didn’t have a lot of picks to work with but did well with what they had and improved their defense.

Washington gambled big time on QB Jason Campbell. Joe Gibbs has won Super Bowls with Doug Williams and Mark Rypien, so who knows?

PEANUT AND CRACKERJACKING- AL APRIL IN REVIEW
If the playoffs were to start today, neither the Red Sox or the Yankees would be in the playoffs. ESPN probably wouldn’t even bother to televise the playoffs if this happened. However, the playoffs don’t start today, they start 5 months from now. In the meantime, let’s take a look at how the AL fared during the season’s first 30 days.

AL East
Baltimore Orioles 14-7, 1st Place
OF Brian Roberts has had an insane month, and has set the tone for an offense that is batting over .300 as a team as of this writing. Roberts is hitting .368, with 7 home runs, 23 RBI, and 9 stolen bases. He won’t keep this up all year, and the O’s won’t hit .300 all year either, so this is probably as good as it gets. But that said, they have gotten off to a great start and have done it going 5-1 against the Yankees, and 3-1 against the Red Sox, so who knows?

Boston Red Sox 11-10, 2nd Place
The Sox rotation sorely misses Pedro Martinez. David Wells has sucked (2-3, 4.91 ERA) and is now injured. Matt Clement has been inconsistent. Curt Schilling has an ERA over 7 and as of today is also on the DL.
The rotation at this point is nothing but question marks, and with the exception of Tim Wakefield (2-0, 1.75) none of them have met or exceeded expectations so far. SS Edgar Renteria has also disappointed with a .238 batting average. The team has lost 6 out of 8, playing against the Jays, Orioles, and Devil Rays. Still, the team scores runs, but they have clearly struggled in their first month as defending champions.

Toronto Blue Jays 11-11, 3rd Place
April was a topsy turvy month for the Blue Jays. They got off to a great start, then cooled off and fired their hitting coach. Roy Halladay (3-1, 4.25 ERA), and rookie Gustavo Chacin (4-1, 2.48) have been the best starting pitching tandem in the division thus far though. Miguel Batista (5 saves, 2.79 ERA) has also emerged as a good closer. Still, the Jays offense thus far has ridden on the backs of guys like Shea Hillenbrand (.398 AVG), and Gregg Zaun (.317, 13 RBI) and that can’t last.

New York Yankees 9-12, 4th Place
The Yankees’ struggles have been excruciatingly documented. But in reality, why should it be so surprising. The Yankees have not won a World Series, it may shock you to learn, since 2000. 2000 was, in fact, 5 years ago, as hard as that is to believe. So the last few years have not exactly been halcyon days in the Bronx. I don’t care what anyone says, it takes a team that has serious weaknesses to blow a 3-0 lead in the league championship series, and the Yankees are that team. Right now they have only 3 starting pitchers. Jaret Wright is done for this year and maybe forever and Kevin Brown is knockin on heaven’s door career wise. The Yankees will have to continue to tread water until they acquire Roger Clemens in July, and then hope that they are still within striking distance of the Orioles and Red Sox.

Tampa Bay Devil Rays 8-13, 5th Place
See, here’s the thing about the Rays. They will never, ever be good until they can start developing some decent pitchers in their farm system. They can crank out Carl Crawfords and Joey Gaithrights and Rocco Baldellis from now until frogs do fractions but until they develop a pitcher who can win 15 games its not going to make a lick of difference. That this team is even doing as well as it is with a team ERA over 6 is amazing in itself.

AL Central
Chicago White Sox 16-6, 1st Place
The White Sox fantastic start is testimony to the fact that having a solid rotation 1 thru 5 will go a long way in an age where not a lot of teams have even 4 guys who can pitch. The Sox made a big deal out of bringing in grinder type players so they no longer had to rely on the home run for all their offense. But make no mistake, this team has the best record in MLB because they have 5 starting pitchers with ERAs under 4.00 right now, end of story. The White Sox success will continue as long as Jose Contreras’ and Orlando Hernandez’ arms hold out at the back end of the rotation, and as long as Jon Garland (4-0, 1.80) continues to look like the pitcher the Sox always thought he could be.

Minnesota Twins 12-8, 2nd Place
Minnesota makes their living beating up on Cleveland, KC, and Detroit, and this year has been no different. The Twins are 10-3 against those teams and 2-5 against everybody else. They win the games they should win, and in a division with a lot of bad teams, that will get you pretty far. One thing they have to be concerned with though is that they have lost 4 out of 5 against the White Sox so far. They will have to be .500 or better in that season series if they are going to win a 4th straight AL Central title.

Detroit Tigers 9-10, 3rd Place
The Tigers have struggled because their young rotation has struggled. Jeremy Bonderman (3-2, 3.82 ERA) and Mike Maroth (1-1, 4.03 ERA) have been decent, but Nate Robertson and Wilfredo Ledezma both have ERAs around 6 and its been killing this team. Troy Percival has also been a disaster in the closer spot and that hasn’t helped matters. Still, if the young pitchers can get it together, this team has enough hitting to stay in the race. They have 4 regulars (Brandon Inge, Ivan Rodriguez, Dmitri Young, Rondell White) batting over .300.

Cleveland Indians 8-12, 4th Place
For a team with 11 all stars or whatever they had last year, it is mind boggling how they can be hitting .226 as a team, but here we are. The lineup was supposed to be the strength of the team and one of the best in baseball, but so far it has been terrible. This was the year the Indians were supposed to return to the top of the division, and instead they are 7 games out before April is even over. My money is on Eric Wedge to be the first manager launched into outer space this year.

Kansas City Royals 5-16, 5th Place
What has happened to this franchise is disgraceful. The Royals suck and have no prospects of improving. They can’t cry poor either, because Minnesota is in the same division, in another small market, and they are going for their 4th straight division title. This team could lose 120 games this year.

AL West
LA Angels, 12-9, 1st Place
The Angels have struggled at the plate in April, batting a paltry .258 as a club, and striking out more than twice as much as it walks. Looking at the roster, its not clear if the offense is ever going to come around. Vlad Guerrero is hitting .361, so he can’t do any more than he’s doing. Outside of him the Halos are relying on Darin Erstad and Orlando Cabrera, both hitting around .260, and Steve Finley, who is off to a miserable start at .173 and is 40 years old. The rotation has also been brutal outside of Bartolo Colon and Jarrod Washburn. John Lackey, Paul Byrd, and Kevin Gregg all have ERAs that are near or above 6. Still, the Angels have somehow managed to keep it together enough to be in 1st place, almost my default.

Texas Rangers 11-11, 2nd Place tie
While you never would have expected it, the Rangers are also struggling at the plate, hitting .263 as a team. Their hitters are better than that, and most likely will come around as the weather heats up. This won’t negate the fact that their pitching is weak. April was a stalemate for every team in this division, and the Rangers are no different.

Oakland Athletics 11-11, 2nd Place tie
That Oakland is at .500 with absolutely nobody hitting is amazing. One of two things will happen. Either the bats will come around and the A’s will start winning, or the bats won’t come around and they’ll start losing. The A’s have been getting sublime pitching almost across the board. Barry Zito is again struggling with a 6.60 ERA, but Rich Harden (2.10) and Joe Blanton (1.75) have more than picked up the slack. The bullpen has also been great, as Justin Duscherer, Ricardo Rincon, Huston Street, Kiko Calero, and Keiichi Yabu have been almost untouchable in setting up Octavio Dotel, who has 5 saves and a 1.08 ERA.

Seattle Mariners 10-11, 4th Place
Much was made of the Mariners’ offseason acquisitions of Adrian Beltre and Richie Sexson, but these additions have yet to translate to a bigger number in the left hand column of the standings. Sexson and Beltre have struggled, hitting .254 and .244 respectively thus far. In reality, Ichiro has been the only member of the lineup producing (.337 AVG), and everyone else has disappointed. If it were not for Jamie Moyer (4-0, 2.53) being lights out thus far, the Mariners would be off to a miserable start.

NBA PLAYOFFS- DELIVER US FROM EVA..

We are 1/90th of the way through the NBA postseason gauntlet. What have we learned so far?

-This woman has only been famous for what, 6 months now, and she is already beyond annoying.

Do you know who this is? Of course you do! Its Desperate Hosebag Eva Longoria. Do you know how I know this? Because she’s friggin everywhere, that’s how. Now she is bringing down the San Antonio Spurs by sucking the sexual energy out of that funny little Frenchman Tony Parker. This is why the Spurs won’t add to their hardware collection this year. You don’t see Yao Ming carting Terri Hatcher around on the way to the locker room before a playoff game, do you? No, you don’t. I can’t stand her. Stay off my TV for five minutes, would ya J-Lo?

– Miami and Detroit are making me think that the real NBA Finals will be the Eastern Conference Finals on TNT.

– NOCI-ONI!!! Doo doo doodooodoo…NOCI-ONI!! Doo doo dooodoooo

– It’s cool seeing Reggie Miller play like Reggie Miller in his last playoff run.

– Seattle and Sacramento should not be allowed to play each other in the playoffs, they are both bad.

– All of a sudden the Rockets look very much like the best in the West

– Phoenix has been underwhelming in taking a 2-0 lead over Memphis.

Well, that’s it for this week friends and well-wishers. Since we had so much fun this week, next week we’ll do the same thing. We’ll break down the Packers, Vikings, Lions and Bears drafts, review the National League in April, and check in again on the NBA Playoffs. Until then, make sure to walk your DOG!