Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Time to empty the clutter in my brain

It's been far too long, but after watching the Panthers loss to Cincinnati, in a poorly played game by both teams, I needed a day or two to reboot.

I am curious as to why the Panthers are in this pickle. Why they felt the need to jettison so much of their experience. I know there were some sizable contracts attached to that experience, but it's almost like the plot line from the baseball movie "Major League." The team owner, Rachel Phelps, instructs her baseball people (scouts, GM, etc), to bring in certain players to training camp. The intent is for her team, the Cleveland Indians, to be so horrendous on the field, that attendance figures will fall to the point she can relocate the team to Florida.

Of course, the Panthers aren't talking about relocating, but they have so many guys on the roster that are young and inexperienced, it makes me wonder if ownership isn't simply playing out the season as they anticipate a very possible lockout next season. Next year, the Panthers will have some decisions to make about personnel, but as it stands now, no collective bargaining agreement exists. Is 2010 just a throw-away?

For the record, I am not accusing the Panthers of tanking the 2010 season. I am definitely not accusing the players of not trying their best. I see it on the field each week. They are trying. They are busting on every play. It just feels like they brought a knife to a gun fight. Hard to be successful when you don't have the tools to get it done.

The Panthers are a 1/3 mess. At 0-3, much of the blame falls on the offense. They are woefully one-dimensional, which makes them a defensive coordinator's dream to scheme against.

"OK guys, here's what we are going to do. We're putting 8, maybe 9 in the box, and we'll force Carolina to beat us through the air. Their running backs are focus number 1, so if we contain the run, we win the game."

Since laying blame is easy (although most of the time unfair), the offense gets the dirty end of the stick pointed at them. Hard to blame the defense or special teams. By my count, the defense was on the field for 74 plays against Cincinnati (not including special teams plays). That is a ton of snaps for that unit to be on the field. Carolina needs something from the offense. Anything. Won't be easy as they meet New Orleans this weekend.

Off football for a second, the NBA season is on the horizon, with training camps opening league-wide this week. Charlotte Bobcats are in Wilmington, back after a 1 year break from their road camp. I like the optimism shown by the players, but I wonder how far behind the rest of the Eastern Conference they are. So many teams went out and did what they could to upgrade. The Bobcats were so tightly pressed to the luxury tax number, they really couldn't do anything. I think they are still a top 8 team, but they will be a in a bigger battle this season to find a playoff spot.

And speaking of the Eastern Conference, camps just opened, yet the good folks at ESPN (and basically everyone else in the NBA universe) seems to have gone all Dennis Green on us, and crowned the Miami Heat as champs. Why do I say this? Well, for starters, ESPN is camped out at Heat camp at a military base in Florida. And not camped out with a reporter, but with a travelling studio set, complete with an anchor, and a pair of analysts. To me, that is a bit much, and it also the reason there will be even more LeBron and Heat hate. It makes the Heat public enemy number 1 in the NBA fan world. So much attention paid to three guys that have never played together for an entire NBA season, ramps up the pressure on them to new heights. Not only do they have to win the title, but they will have to break records in the process. Way too much heat on the Heat. Flipside of that, imagine what joy the detractors will have if the Heat (gulp) fail.

I will credit LeBron with a good line from his interview with Rachel Nichols, when asked about being booed. Paraphrasing, he said people boo because of fear, not because they don't like them. He pointed out people booed Michael Jordan. Why? Because they hated his game? No, they were afraid of what Jordan was going to do to their team. I did agree with him about that.

Charlotte Checkers opened up training camp on Monday, and as a hockey guy, I am excited. The Checkers move into the American Hockey League this year, and fans will notice a difference in play. All due respect to the former ECHL Checkers, the AHL version is faster, and will be more skilled. The players on the ice are, in essence, one phone call away from the NHL. All the players know that as well, and they work their tails off to ensure their phone is the one that rings when the time comes. Head Coach Jeff Daniels is a former NHL forward who is a wonderful student of the game, and has done a nice job as a Head Coach within the Carolina Hurricanes system. This will be a fun team to watch, so make it a point to check them out.

Mike Solarte

1 comment:

hasbeen99 said...

The 'Major League' comparison is interesting. Does that mean Beason's due for a locker room speech that concludes with, "Well, that only leaves one thing to do. Win the whole ******* thing."?

Cool news about the Checkers. Wish the same could've happened for our (now defunct) Fresno Falcons.