December 29, Week in Sports
:: NFL POST-SEASON SET (Pro. Football)
:: YANKEES ACQUIRE MARK TEIXEIRA (Pro. Baseball)
:: LAKERS SNAP CELTICS’ WIN STREAK (Pro Basketball)
The NFL regular season ended this weekend and the playoff teams were finalized. The playoffs begin next weekend and culminate weeks later with the Super Bowl, the biggest event in American sports.
Twelve teams make it to the playoffs in the NFL. This year, the following teams made the cut: Arizona Cardinals, San Diego Chargers, Indianapolis Colts, Miami Dolphins, Philadelphia Eagles, Atlanta Falcons, New York Giants, Carolina Panthers, Baltimore Ravens, Pittsburgh Steelers, Tennessee Titans, and Minnesota Vikings. If there is a favorite at this point, it is probably the New York Giants, who won the Super Bowl last year and had a very strong season. However, maybe even bigger news was the list of teams that did not make the playoffs, and the Dallas Cowboys are at the top of that list. Before the season, many NFL experts predicted that the Cowboys would make it to the Super Bowl. However, after a mediocre season and a devastating loss on Sunday, the ‘Boys are out of the running yet again.
The Detroit Lions finished the season 0-16 after their loss to the Green Bay Packers on Sunday. After completing the worst season in the history of the NFL, the Lions fired their head coach.
Quote of the Week: “Week 17 had it all. And for so much of it, there was really no way to see it coming. It happens every year that way, and still we’re surprised by the surprise of it all.” — Don Banks, Sports Illustrated
BRONX BOMBERS DROP ANOTHER BUNDLE
Star first baseman Mark Teixeira signed with the New York Yankees last Tuesday for $180 million over 8 years. Teixeira was one of the most coveted free agents this off-season.
Teixeira is one of the best hitters in the game, as well as a Gold Glove-winning fielder, but his tremendous abilities were overshadowed this week by the amount of money that the Yankees spent in order to sign him. So far, the Yankees have spent more than $400 million dollars this off-season–by far the most in the league. The Yankees, of course, have a well-deserved reputation for big spending. During the 2008 season, they had a payroll over $200 million, ten times the payroll of the Florida Marlins and $70 million more than the next highest team, the New York Mets.
Major League Baseball has no salary cap, which allows for that kind of disparity in spending, but the Yankees’ outrageous spending has been highly criticized this year. Expect the criticism to heat up in the coming weeks, when the Yankees are expected to sign even more free agents, including star pitcher Andy Pettitte.
Quote of the Week: “As of 4 p.m. today, the Yankees have spent $423 million on free agents this offseason…. Six months ago, the Yankees asked the city of New York for an additional $480 million to fund [their new] stadium. They bulldozed parks that used to be playgrounds for the children of the South Bronx…. Put that in your pipe and smoke it, NYC taxpayers.” — Rick Chandler, Deadspin
Further Reading: “Buying an umbrella in New York” — Joe Posnanski
Stocking Full of Kobe
On Christmas Day, the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Boston Celtics by a score of 92-83. Before the loss, the Celtics had won 19 games in a row–the longest streak in franchise history.
The victory over the Celtics served as a small measure of revenge for the Lakers, who were badly beaten by Boston in last season’s NBA Finals. Kobe Bryant, the superstar Lakers guard, led all scorers with 27 points. Lakers coach Phil Jackson, who made a name for himself with Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls, reached a truly impressive milestone on Thursday, as well, notching his 1,000th career victory.
The Lakers and the Celtics were the two best teams in the NBA last year, and this year, the two teams look poised to meet again in the Finals. As of Sunday, the Lakers had a record of 24-5 and the Celtics had a record of 27-4. Other than those two teams, only the Cleveland Cavaliers (25-4) and the Orlando Magic (24-6) had winning percentages over .800.
Quote of the Week: “Last year, they won the championship. This year, it’s our year, we want to take it all the way.” — Sasha Vujacic, Lakers guard
Further Reading: ”Lakers put end to Celtics’ 19-game win streak” — Associated Press, via ESPN
WHAT TO WATCH THIS WEEK
:: COLLEGE FOOTBALL: The Bowl Games, already underway, continue this week. New Year’s Day is a huge day for college football, since the Rose Bowl is almost always played on January 1st. The Rose Bowl is the oldest bowl game in the nation, and always features two of the best teams in the country. This year, the game will be played between the USC Trojans and the Penn State Nittany Lions. The Rose Bowl is played in Pasadena, California.
:: HOCKEY: The “Winter Classic,” an annual NHL game played outdoors, is scheduled to take place on New Year’s Day. This year, the Classic will be played at Wrigley Field in Chicago, between the Chicago Blackhawks and arch-rival Detroit Red Wings.
:: PRO. FOOTBALL: The NFL playoffs begin next week, when the AFC and NFC wildcard playoffs are played on Saturday and Sunday. Click here to see the game schedule.
NBA (Pro. Basketball): The 2008-09 season is currently underway. It runs from late October to April of 2009, when the playoffs commence. [Official NBA Website]
NCAA MEN’S BASKETBALL (College): The college basketball season is currently underway and runs through “the Tournament,” which takes place in March. [CBS Sports]
NFL (Pro. Football): The playoffs begin this week and culminate in the Super Bowl, which takes place later in January. [Official NFL Website]
NCAA FOOTBALL (College): The regular season is over and the bowl games have already started. Florida and Oklahoma will play each other in the national championship game. [NCAA Football, ESPN]
MEN’S GOLF: While there are professional tournaments throughout the year, the most important tournaments are the four Major Championships: The Masters, U.S. Open, The Open (The British Open), and the PGA Championship. Now that the PGA Championship is over, mainstream golf news will most likely revolve around Tiger Woods’ return from injury and preparation for next year’s Majors. [Official PGA Website]
NOTABLE PLAYERS: Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson
NHL (Pro. Hockey): The hockey season runs through April of 2009. By the new year, the league power rankings should be pretty well set. [Official NHL Website]
MEN’S AND WOMEN’S TENNIS: While there are professional tournaments throughout the year, the most important tournaments are the four Grand Slam tournaments: the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, and US Open. [USTA Website]
NOTABLE PLAYERS: Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Maria Sharapova, Ana Ivanovic
MLB (Pro. Baseball): The Philadelphia Phillies defeated the Tampa Bay Rays in this year’s World Series. During the off-season, baseball news will focus on major trades and player signings. [Official MLB Website]