Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Bayne, Bobcats, 'Melo and more

Recapping things first...

What a weekend for Trevor Bayne. In fact, what a Speedweeks. When he got to Daytona, he was a 19 year old kid making his 2nd Cup series start for a race team that was perilously close to shutting its doors a few years ago.

When he left Daytona he was a 20 year old (by a day), that had just won his first Cup race, not to mention the biggest race of the year. In doing so, he became the feel-good story that NASCAR has desperately needed. Bayne's win for Wood Brothers Racing gave the series a new fresh face to market, put the historic team back in victory lane, and may have jump-started interest in NASCAR again.

Only a win by Dale Earnhardt, Jr. on Sunday would have been bigger, and he was in the mix until a flat tire late pushed him to the back of the field for a restart. He got hung up in a wreck in the green-white-checkered laps, finishing 24th.

After watching the "pairs" racing on Thursday, I was hoping the 500 would be different, but it wasn't. While different, it wasn't bad. It's just something we'll have to endure for a few races until a change is made to the cars, or the track loses some of its grip. In all, fairly entertaining start to finish.

Charlotte Bobcats have 26 games remaining on their schedule, and forward Stephen Jackson feels they need 17 wins in their final 26 to reach the playoffs. 17 wins gets them to 41 on the season, which wold give them a record of 41-41. In the Eastern conference, .500 is plenty. In the west, .500 (right now, anyway), is good for 10th place, 2.5 games out of the playoffs.

Can the Bobcats do it? It won't be easy. Next week, the Bobcats head back out west, as they are kicked out of Time Warner Cable Arena for the CIAA Tournament, but the good thing for them is that they have home games late in the year, unlike years' past. The Charlotte Jumper Classic would displace the team when they craved home games for a shot at the playoffs. Also on the schedule, trips to San Antonio and Oklahoma City, a home date with Chicago, Boston and others including Orlando. The challenge is there, it's up to the Bobcats to answer it.

Call me old fashioned, but I was just sick about the wheeling and dealing going on for Carmelo Anthony. Then I was just sick and tired of hearing the talk. It was akin to Brett Favre watch in the NFL. Now that it's over (Carmelo went to the Knicks in a blockbuster deal-pending league approval at this writing), we can go on with our NBA watching lives. The thing that sticks out to me in this deal is that both Denver and the Knicks are at the bottom of the playoff picture, and now, this multi-player deal basically blows up their rosters. We all watched and saw how slowly Miami got out of the gate. I can't imagine a change in midstream will bode well for either New York or Denver.

Lastly, the Carolina Panthers remain on the clock, and they are also contemplating using their franchise tag. Given the current labor climate, it makes sense to apply the tag, but unless a new CBA is in place by March 4, it makes me wonder if the tags will be valid after the current labor deal expires. If I had to guess who would get the tag, it would be center Ryan Kalil. DE Charles Johnson had a big year, but the jury is out on if he can maintain it. RB DeAngelo Williams would be another viable option, however, he may be a victim of the numbers game with Jonathan Stewart, Mike Goodson and Tyrell Sutton all in the stable of backs. Personally, I would hate to see Williams go, as he is a fun guy to talk to, and exciting to watch. I do realize, though, that business is business. If he goes elsewhere, I sincerely wish him well.

**EDIT 3:09 pm Several outlets reporting the Panthers are franchise tagging C Ryan Kalil, which would pay him $10M this coming season. A tough choice for the Panthers given the year Charles Johnson had last season, and the franchise leading RB that Williams is. More on this as it develops.

Mike Solarte

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