By Larry Bisagni
Weekly snapshots consist of quick observations. The rule is simple: three sentences or less per subject.
The NFL trade deadline at the end of October used to pass with an occasional notable event, but it was mostly relegated to a team in the running having to scramble to acquire someone else’s backup lineman when their own All-Pro beef went down. Marcus Peters and Jalen Ramsey not only shattered that business model but paid instant dividends. Contenders more willing to surrender draft picks for young talent seems to be the trend these days, and we still have another week to go, folks.
If you would have bet in August that Cam Newton and Drew Brees might not be with their teams next year, you might have been thrown out of a casino and sent to a funny farm, but the Panthers and Saints have some serious decisions to make this offseason with the most iconic players to ever suit up for those two franchises. My offhand guess is that the Panthers could move off of Newton because his contract is coming to an end, but Drew Brees is 40 and Teddy Bridgewater doesn’t turn 27 until next month… and is playing lights out football. The Saints can’t pay both of them, so keep your eye on what happens in the Big Easy come springtime.
The Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers are both legit. Their defenses are stacked, they have young quarterbacks, and they play for one another. I’m not saying that we will get Super Bowl XLVII 2.0, but they will both be hosting games in January. Circle the 1st of December on your calendar, because that could be the regular-season game of the year.
Humble pie time: I didn’t see Kliff Kingsbury and Kyler Murray working in the NFL, but the Arizona Cardinals are must-see TV. They are 3-3-1, and Murray has that “it” factor that doesn’t show up in the box score or the measurements. I suspected that this could be the farewell tour for future Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald, but he seems to be reenergized and is playing with a lot of enthusiasm.
Before Jose Altuve sent the New York Yankees off to tee times, I had the Washington nationals as the favorite going into this year‘s Fall Classic. I don’t know who I’d pick now, but this World Series should feature a pitcher’s duel or two. You could make the case that five of the top eight or ten hurlers will be featured, so I expect some low scoring, nail-biting drama.
Speaking of pitching and the Yankees, hats off to CC Sabathia, who is walking away after nearly two decades of excellence. The big southpaw has ridiculous stats and achievements: over 250 W’s, 3,000 strikeouts, a Cy Young Award, six All-Star appearances, an ALCS MVP, and won a ring in the Bronx… and yes, that matters more than anywhere else in baseball. If he doesn’t end up as a network analyst, we’ll see him again in five years, holding a plaque in Cooperstown.
The NBA season tips off tonight, and the epicenter of that universe has moved down the 101 from the Bay Area to Los Angeles. I never thought I’d say that I like the Clippers going into an NBA season, but with Jerry West, Doc Rivers, Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, etc., in the building. they are definitely the team to beat on paper. If the Lakers don’t get off to a fast start, it could get ugly across the hallway at the Staples Center.
Tom Brady and Michael Jordan were both able to recuperate from early leg injuries to have all-time iconic careers, but Greg Oden, Jonathan Bender, and Bill Walton were never the same. I really hope that Zion Williamson has a full and speedy recovery. Whether you love or hate Duke, the NBA gets a prospect like this once a decade (Intelligence, maturity, ability, NBA body, charismatic, and a good all-around kid who has the game and the Madison Avenue appeal).
It’s very early, but wow… the Washington Capitals playing with purpose. The puck is flying all over the place, and Alex Ovechkin is emerging into not only the elder statesman role but also a serious, focused leader. Look for another run in June.