NFL Playoff Clarity: A Sunday that seemed to have so many awesome NFL playoff possibilities yielded to the reality that it's not nearly as wide open – but nearly as compelling.
In the AFC, the Jets – yes, the Jets! – control their own destiny after beating the Dolphins in an ugly one last night. But now only a game versus the hapless Raiders stands between them and a Wild Card slot, and if the Jets lose that one, they don't DESERVE to make the playoffs. Eric Mangini locks in for NFL Coach of the Year.
(The other Wild Card slot in the AFC looks like it will go to the Broncos, who also control their own destiny.)
In the NFC, the Eagles secured a playoff spot yesterday with that thrashing of the Cowboys. (Jeff Garcia for NFC MVP???) That leaves one spot left, and, whee, it is guaranteed that a .500 team will get it.
(Even more amazing, the team with the inside track is the Giants, who have stumbled to the finish – understatement – but hold the tiebreaker over the other WC contenders: Packers, Panthers, Rams, Falcons.)
Wade leads Heat over Kobe/Lakers in NBA Xmas tradition: Any doubts that Dwyane Wade is the best player in the NBA? Maybe you think that
MLB Hot Stove: Yankees trading Randy Johnson? Now THAT is a great development – totally unexpected, but totally viable. Will he go back to the D'backs? Or elsewhere in the NL West, like
Meanwhile, the other implication is: If the Yankees can shed Johnson's $16M salary, does that make them instant players for Barry Zito? Suddenly, the Mets have gotten a little nervous – and, for Zito agent Scott Boras, no better Christmas gift could have been given.
College Hoops Polls: I'm trying to figure out how pollsters can rank No. 2 UNC over No. 3 Florida when they have a common opponent both teams played at home:
The Top 8 in both polls is the same: UCLA, UNC,
Tiger is AP Athlete of the Year: I guess I don't argue, but there isn't much more boring in sports than Tiger winning anything anymore, particularly end-of-year awards.
More intriguing was the rest of the ballot: LaDainian Tomlinson in 2nd (not a bad pick); Federer in 3rd; Wade in 4th; Pujols and Howard, appropriately, tied for 5th.
I'll ask this: Where the hell was Vince Young on that list!? He only carried his team to the Win of the Year in the Game of the Year with the Single-Game Performance of the Year, then turned around and – as a rookie NFL QB, the toughest position in sports – led the Titans to the precipice of the playoffs. He's the "Dan Shanoff Male Athlete of the Year*," for whatever THAT is worth...
* - Not the same as my "Sports Person of the Year," which I didn't reveal last week but will get to this week...