Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Monday Mailbag, Volume 4 - Tuesday Edition

Back with a delayed edition of the Monday Mailbag where you guys, the readers, get to ask the questions. So without further ado:

How bad of an idea was it for the Hornets to basically trade all their good players away? I mean really. Winning is quickly becoming a foreign concept to them. - Cory L., Raceland, LA
Photo Credit: toothpastehangover.com
There's no question that trading Chris Paul looks like a bad move, but if they didn't trade him, there's no way he would've stayed. It looks a lot worse than it is right now because Eric Gordon - the biggest piece the Hornets got in return in the Paul trade - hurt his knee and has been limited to just two games this season. Add to that the fact that the Hornets shut down center Chris Kaman, the other proven piece New Orleans got in the deal, to allow their younger players to get more playing time while they tried unsuccessfully to trade him, and you essentially had a scenario where you traded Chris Paul and all you had to show for it on the court was Al-Farouq Aminu. Not good.

As for the rest of last year's team, the only other really significant loss was David West who opted out of the last year of his contract at the end of the season and signed with the Indiana Pacers. But the Hornets were without West in the postseason anyways as he injured his knee in March and they still took the Lakers to 6 games. New Orleans still returned 4 of its 5 starters from that postseason series and the only key reserves they lost were Willie Green and Aaron Gray. Just goes to show you how much an elite player - be it LeBron James or Peyton Manning or Chris Paul - can mean to a franchise.

Anyhow, with New Orleans off to a 4-21 start, the season is basically a wash, but at least they've acknowledged that and they're looking to the future. The Hornets are giving their younger players a lot of minutes which will allow them to better evaluate what talent they do have and can determine who can help the team down the road. It's going to be tough to watch this year, but hopefully it will get better in time.

Is Landon Donovan the best player on Everton's squad who's not named Tim Howard? - Cory L., Raceland, LA

Donovan has tallied 5 assists in 8 matches since starting his loan with Everton so there's no question he's playing at an extremely high level, but is he their best field player? I'll throw out three other names to consider: Tim Cahill, John Heitinga and Darron Gibson.

The 32 year old Cahill led Everton in scoring last year with 9 goals, scored in both the 2006 and 2010 World Cups for his native Australia, and actually scored on Tim Howard in a friendly in 2010. This season however, has been disappointing for him as Cahill has found the back of the net just once in 26 matches for Everton.
Photo Credit: guardian.co.uk
Heitinga, 28, is the starting right back for the Netherlands, the #2 team in the world according to the latest FIFA rankings. The 2008 Dutch Footballer of the Year started all 7 games of the 2010 World Cup and was also a member of the Netherlands' 2006 World Cup team. Heitinga has made 23 appearances for Everton this year and scored a goal in their FA Cup match against Tamworth.
Photo Credit: zimbio.com
Darron Gibson is only 24 and he doesn't have the resumes that these other guys have, but the former Manchester United midfielder who was just signed a few weeks ago is capable of big things. The Irish international tallied the game winning goal against Manchester City in just his 4th match since joining Everton and provided memorable strikes in the MLS All Star Game and against Wales in the 2011 Nations Cup.

So while Cahill appears to be on the decline, I think that you could argue that Heitinga is in Donovan's class while Gibson has a chance to get there in the future.

I’ve heard rumors about PSG signing everybody from David Beckham to Alexandre Pato. Are they that well off that they can just throw money around like that? I’m asking because there really doesn’t seem to be that many big-name players in the French League and they seem to have showed up to the transfer window checkbook in hand. - Cory L., Raceland, LA
Photo Credit: goal.com
The French League gets something of a bad wrap. While it's true that it doesn't possess the star power of the English Premier League, Spanish La Liga, Italian Serie A or German Bundesliga, the French have fared very well in the Champions League in recent years. Last year both Lyon and Marseilles reached the Round of 16 before falling to Real Madrid and Manchester United respectively. Two years ago, Lyon actually knocked Real Madrid out of the tournament and advanced all the way to the semifinals while Bordeaux reached the quarterfinals that same year. And this year, once again, the French have two clubs in the Round of 16 with Lyon and Marseilles back in the mix.

This year Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) is in first place in the French Ligue 1 which puts them in the driver's seat as far as a Champions League berth for next season goes. With that in mind, it's no surprise to see them being aggressive in pursuing transfers. By adding the former Chelsea defender Alex, and ex-Barcelona and Inter Milan midfielder Thiago Motta, the French side adds depth and experience while they prepare for what they hope is another deep run into the Champions League. So I don't know if it's an issue of PSG being really well off, but this was their opportunity to make a big postseason run, and they're doing everything they can to improve their odds of having a strong showing.

You should look at Xgames stuff and Heath Frisby, maybe it will make a good blog article :) first front flip on a snowmobile. Super nice kid too. - Mariela S., Denver, CO

I've never really been a big X-Games guy to be honest. I can barely stand on a skateboard, have never snowboarded, and don't sky dive or street luge... That said, I do have a certain appreciation for what these guys do. And while I can't give you a full article on this guy, I'm willing to at least acknowledge the accomplishment. So here's the highlight:

And here's what can happen when if you're not careful when hurtling through the air on a snowmobile.

What's the farthest anyone has ever thrown a baseball? - Libby S., North Bend, OR

The late Glen Gorbous holds the record with a toss of 445 feet 10 inches, set in 1957. The Canadian born Gorbous appeared in 117 major league games between 1955 and 1957 and actually set the record several months after he'd played in his last major league game. To put the distance in perspective, there is not a ballpark in the majors right now that has a fence more than 435 feet from home plate.

Did Tom Brady just fall out of the conversation for the greatest QB ever? - Garrett M., Boston, MA
Photo Credit: sportsgulp.net
Losing this Super Bowl doesn't hurt Brady nearly as much as it helps Eli Manning. Brady is now one of just 2 quarterbacks in NFL history to start 5 Super Bowls (the other is John Elway), and while he doesn't have the 4 wins that Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw have, it's not like he didn't play well in Super Bowl XLVI. Sure the safety was a bad play and the interception was a bad decision, but he set a record for consecutive completions in a Super Bowl, he went 10 for 10 while tying the Super Bowl record for the longest drive (96 yards), and his receivers dropped some critical passes in the 4th quarter.

Now Eli on the other hand gets a HUGE boost with this win. He's now beaten Brady TWICE in Super Bowls, and becomes just the 11th quarterback to win the Super Bowl multiple times. Of those 11 only Jim Plunkett, Ben Roethlisberger, Brady and Eli aren't in the Hall of Fame. Notice that nobody seems to be arguing that Eli isn't elite right now.

Special thanks to all those who wrote in this week. Got a question for the mailbag? Email us at smittysports.blogspot@hotmail.com.

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