Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Kahne grabs 600, NBA thoughts and more

The month of May is the busiest on the Sports Night calendar.  In Charlotte alone, the PGA Tour stops for the Wells Fargo Championship, an international swim meet (Charlotte Ultra Swim) followed that, and then back to back weeks of NASCAR at Charlotte Motor Speedway.  It's a hectic time, but when we pull off great TV, it's all worth it.  Some thoughts on some of these things, and more....

First NASCAR.  If you liked racing without wrecking, then Charlotte, and the Sprint Cup Series itself is for you.  Panther fans saw more yellow flags in one game at Bank of America Stadium, than NASCAR fans saw during Raceweeks.  And you know what? I'm ok with that.  The teams, and drivers had to be razor sharp to have a shot at a victory, considering so much was happening under green flag conditions.  Pit stops had to be perfect, drivers had to hit their marks EVERY TIME, and crew chiefs had to make the right call every time to give their car the best chance to win.  I'll admit, I like to see a fender-bender from time to time, but I also appreciate when drivers display their talents and keep the car off of another car.  Borrowing from the PGA Tour, these guys (and gals) are good.

Kasey Kahne got his first win for Hendrick Motorsports, and now it seems, all that is left is to get Dale Earnhardt, Jr in Victory Lane.  Dale is having a good season, sitting comfortably inside the top 10 for the Chase, but a win would do wonders for him, and his team.  That monkey on his back, is now a full blown gorilla, and a win for him (he was close in Charlotte in both races too), would be a huge relief.  They have their stuff together, and now, much like Kahne needed, Dale needs a break.  It's coming.

The NBA playoffs are winding down, and while Miami is the pick of a lot of folks (including me) to reach the NBA Finals, I gotta tell ya, so much being made of five technical foul calls against Boston in game one of their series is a bit of joke.  First off, the referees are to blame for the "T's".  These refs working the NBA's conference final series' have to shut off the rabbit ears.  It's not December.  It's May (nearly June), and a title is on the line.  Emotions are high, and sometimes, you have to allow a guy to pipe up, and then tell him pipe down.  Reaching into the Bag of T's is NOT the way to handle it.

Now, before you go and call me a hater, let me also say the officials did not decide game one.  Boston's inability to defend (yes, Miami scored just 93 points), was the bigger issue.  The Celtics had one blocked shot in the game.  One.  Uno. Breadstick. A single.  That's not gonna cut it when LeBron is going for 32 points and 13 rebounds.  Boston can play better, but I am not sure they have the legs to stay with the Heat in this series.  I like Miami in 6.

Finally, I am sad because, at most, there are only seven NHL games left to be played.  I want to see all seven, but I am not sure that I will.  In fact, I will be lucky to get five.  Los Angeles takes on New Jersey for the Stanley Cup, beginning Wednesday in the Garden State.  Martin Brodeur is a great story, as the future Hall of Fame goaltender is making a strong run at another Cup, but I think the Kings are the better team.  Sure, the Devils bottled up the New York Rangers, but much like the Celtics, I am not sure the Devils have the legs to stay with the Kings.  Dustin Brown will finish 2nd in Conn Smythe Trophy voting (given to the playoff MVP), behind his teammate Jonathan Quick, and the Kings will collect their first Cup in franchise history.  And it will happen in just five games.

Thanks for stopping by the blog, and be sure to fire off a Point and Shoot video to us.  We take your sports questions on video, and play them during the Ford Sports Night.  Would love your thoughts on anything you see here, or something I may have overlooked in the blog. Be a part of the state's only NIGHTLY 30 minute sports show.  We'd love to have ya!

Mike Solarte

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

NASCAR chatter....

The NASCAR Sprint All Star Race was viewed in one of two ways. One: a snoozer, or Two: a mockery.  I wasn't in either of those camps.  For me, the All Star race was a night where NASCAR saw cars actually make passes (a rule change affecting the skirts of the cars made for simply better racing).  In the end, to me, the All Star race was just what NASCAR designed it to be.  In this instance, though, they didn't think of all the possibilities.

Jimmie Johnson won the first 20 lap segment, and in turn, earned the right to be the first car down pit road before the final 10 lap segment.  Matt Kenseth, Brad Keselowski, and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. also won segments, and earned the spots behind Johnson leading into the mandatory pit stop prior to the final 10 lap segment.

So what did Johnson do?  He took his car out of the hornets nest that can be quite wild in the All Star event, and laid back.  WAY back.  There was no penalty for doing that, the only potential danger was falling a lap down (which he was never in jeopardy of being in that spot).  Had he fallen a lap down, he would have lost his final pit stop privileges.  Johnson took advantage of the race setup, saved his car from potential harm (from wreck of overworking his engine), and in the end, a quick stop and go was what he needed to stay in front, and win the race.

Certainly, this was not what NASCAR envisioned when it changed the format, and in a conversation with Johnson afterwards, he agreed that it will likely change next year.  To call it a sham or a mockery, is unfair.  That was the way it was laid out, advantage to the winner of the first segment.

Michael Waltrip offered up a solution to this scenario on Tuesday.  You can see it by clicking the link here.  It's really not that far out of whack, in my opinion.

As for the Coca Cola 600, put me down as Dale Earnhardt, Jr. being a threat to win it, but I am not writing off Kyle Busch.  Of course, Johnson is viewed as the favorite, considering his work at Darlington, and the All Star race, but Dale Jr. was a factor in this event last year, leading on the 402nd lap (of a green-white-checkered finish), before running out of fuel.  His strong run during the All Star night is a little more support that a streak-snapping win is imminent.

Finally, let me thank the many that reached out to me last week, as I dealt with the passing of my mother.  Your condolences and prayers helped me through a difficult week.  I was, and continue to be humbled by all of you.

Mike Solarte

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Bobcats start over. Again.

The Charlotte Bobcats are looking for their 5th Head Coach in franchise history.  Not surprising after a 7-59 campaign, that led them into the record books as the team that recorded the worst winning percentage in an NBA season.

What is surprising is the way that it is being perceived.  Here are the facts.

Paul Silas' contract was up at the end of the year.  He took the job with the Bobcats, knowing it was the only coaching job he would take.  After a year that saw the Bobcats go through a slew of injuries to their top players, Silas being let go was inevitable.  It's not that HE did a bad job, it's that the roster was so poorly pieced together, that Silas had no chance to succeed once the injuries started to pile up.  Remember, it was a 66 game schedule, in a compressed amount of time.  An injury that might have cost a player 5 games, ended up costing more than that.

I feel a little bad for Silas, as he won't have the chance to redeem himself as the coach.  He deserved a better fate than the hand he was dealt, but he also showed how to handle the mess with class, and grace.  He'll always be admired for that, at least in my eyes.

The blame falls at the feet of those that put the team together.  Those that signed the players, and pieced the roster together.  The Bobcats front office knew it would be a bad year, however, not in their wildest dreams (or nightmares) could they have envisioned what the 2011-12 season would become.

Now, they have to execute step 2 of the plan.  That means, building a team through free agency and the draft.  They have the cap space.  They will have a top 4 draft pick.  And they will have a new Head Coach to mold the players into his style.  The Bobcats haven't drafted well, historically. That has to change, and if they get the top overall pick, it likely will.

The Bobcats are at a point where every decision they make will be the most important one in franchise history.  It starts with their new bench boss.

Mike Solarte