Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Nuggets from the weekend

Patriots back up defensive end Marquise Hill died this weekend in a jet ski accident on Louisiana's Lake Pontchartrain. Hill was 24.

I am not going to wax poetic about how Hill was a supremely talented football player who was on the verge of a break-out year. He wasn't. He was a second round draft pick who was likely entering his make or break year with the Patriots. He worked hard, but in three seasons managed to play in only 13 games.

There's a chance there was a great player beneath all that hard work that would have surfaced in a system other than the one played by the Patriots, that sort of thing happens all the time. As it is, we'll never know.

Unfortunately, the young defensive end is now a cautionary tale as he and his friend went jet skiing sans life-jackets and Hill ended up paying a terrible price.

Hill, a native of New Orleans, according to reports had dedicated much of his free-time to the rebuilding efforts of the hurricane ravaged city. Also according to reports, Hill's final act was to make sure that the childhood friend with whom he was on the lake, was able to grasp a nearby pylon, saving her life.

Hill's death comes in an odd NFL off-season during which Hill is the third active player under the age of 25 to meet an untimely demise. The other two were Broncos cornerback Darrent Williams who was shot on New Year's Eve and back-up running back Damien Nash who collapsed after a charity basketball game.

The longer it goes, the worse it looks...
According to an AP report that hit the wires over the weekend an individual termed as "a reliable" police informant has placed Vick at the scene of at least one dog fight laying down money on dogs. The informant claims that his own dog beat Vick's dog in a fight.

The report goes on to say that the Surry County, VA district attorney is preparing charges, but it does not note whether or not Vick will be included in those charges.

In previous reports at least one neighbor has placed Vick at the property that he claims to have never been at (in spite of owning it), and now someone is placing Vick at a dogfight. I wonder how the Falcons are enamored with their second string quarterback, because it seems a strong possibility that they're going to be using him a lot this year.

A note on the AL East...
Currently the Yankees reside 13.5 games behind the Red Sox and 7 games under .500. This has been the lead story on ESPN and a number of different sports pages. Almost none of these stories have noted that the Yankees are tied with the Devil Rays for last place in the East, nor do most note that both the Orioles and the Blue Jays are ahead of the Yanks, and both teams are beginning to play decent baseball.

The Yankees on the other hand are playing like they're in beer-league softball. They look old, worn down, and reliant on the long-ball for most of their offense.

The fact that sports writers are not writing about the Orioles or the Blue Jays is something of an injustice. Not a huge one, as both teams are battling to get back to .500, and the second place Orioles are only two games ahead of the Yankees, but that still puts them two games closer to the AL leading Red Sox, and two games closer to the wild card.

Outside of the Red Sox, the teams in the AL East have to be setting their sites on the wild card. In about one month we will be halfway through the season. If the season ended at the All-Star break, this is the ground that teams would have to make up -

Detroit Tigers: 29-21 Wild Card Leader
Seattle Mariners: 25-22, 3 Games back
Chicago W. Sox: 24-22, 4 Games back
Oakland A's: 25-25, 4 Games back
Minnesota Twins: 25-25, 4 Games back
Baltimore Orioles: 24-27, 5.5 Games back
Toronto Blue Jays:23-27, 6 Games back
New York Yanks: 21-28, 7.5 Games back

What do the teams at the top of the list have in common? Almost all have some quality starters. Not starter...starters. The teams towards the bottom of that list? The Yankees have the lowest innings pitched per start in the entire league, the Blue Jays only now got their ace back from the DL and their closer hasn't pitched an inning this year, and the Orioles closer who was so dominant last year has been pinata-like this year.

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