Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Mid-week outlook

It's Wednesday, and I haven't done a post here recently. So here goes with every part of what I want to say.

Hockey: The playoffs start tonight. The Ottawa Senators face the Pittsburgh Penguins. To be honest, I doubt we're going to win, but it's still our crown as the Eastern Conference champion until somebody takes it from us. Even if we lose, it's still hockey. These playoffs are the most exciting events in sports, and I love every minute of it, especially because the Maple Leafs aren't in it.

My prediction is still up in the air, because almost nobody looks good enough to win. The Wings and Sharks always choke, the Wild are too much of an enigma, the Ducks are missing Corey Perry, the Stars never get the necessary goaltending, the Avalanche have Jose Theodore, the Flames could be a sleeper, but I'm not sure, and I doubt the Predators are for real. The Western pick is the winner of the Sharks-Flames series.

In the East, the Penguins are soft, the Canadiens don't look impressive, the Capitals don't have a ton besides Alex Ovechkin, the Devils can't score, the Rangers seem to have something missing, the Flyers and Senators fold too easily, and the Bruins are too young.

I pick the Penguins to become the East champion, and lose to the Western winner. I'll man up and say the Sharks.

Tennis: Daniela Hantuchova needs to perform well in Charleston next week at the Family Circle Cup. She blew it in Miami at the Sony Ericsson Open with a loss to Ai Sugiyama, now she needs to at least do well on the green clay at Amelia Island before Charleston to get her confidence up. A flameout here would spell trouble entering the clay-court season. That is exactly what happened, as she lost to Karolina Sprem. I hope she has an injury, because there is no other excuse for this.

Baseball: The Blue Jays have had very good pitching, or at least they have besides A.J. Burnett last night. That will have to continue if we are going to make it to the playoffs for the first time since 1993. The hitting looked strong too, but we always hit Boston well. We need to keep this going.

Basketball: The Kansas Jayhawks and Tennessee Volunteers are NCAA Champions. Congratulations to them and their fans. This leads me to a thorny issue. As a Missouri student, I was supposed to be rooting hard against Kansas, disgusted to see them win, angry about watching our biggest rival celebrating at the end to the point of not wanting to watch any of the postgame.

But I was not upset at all to see KU win. It did not matter to me. The reason? I am a journalist. I am supposed to be unbiased in everything I cover. As such, I have disassociated myself from the teams and the sports that I cover. It is my university, but I have no need to get involved in the rivalry. Plus, I do not take pleasure from other fans suffering. It is not and has never been my way. I do not need bragging rights and will not rub anything in. That is simply not who I am.

Now, I know that the argument is coming, that being how can I pull for my teams in the pros and not be biased for Missouri? Simple: I do not cover them. If I cover them at any point, I will have to renounce my rooting interest. I know that. But it has yet to happen. But I have already covered the Missouri teams. So I simply will not be as big a fan of them as most. I will not apologize for that. I have also watched the postgame every year, including two Carolina crowns and one from Maryland. I am certainly going to watch through Kansas winning if I did for those three.

Basketball: The Indiana Pacers managed a win to stay alive. I was pleased. I do not want to be in the draft lottery. It is an embarrassment to me. I would much rather get swept against Boston, because at least we were there if that happens. Plus, I know all about the lottery busting for a tanking team. Alexandre Daigle, anyone?

My time is up. You've all been great. Enjoy Gary Allan.

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