Deep in the depths of winter usually means we're in the doldrums of the sports calender, but after Punxsutawney Phil and Buckeye Chuck pop their heads out their burrows, it means spring is near! Just don't say that to people living in the northeast. March Madness is about a month away, but the college basketball regular season is serving as a great appetizer for the Big Dance. Five straight weeks the number one team in the country has lost. The latest being Indiana losing on a buzzer beater at Illinois. The Hoosiers were good and mad coming to Columbus yesterday and beat down the Buckeyes, 81-68. The Hoosiers Big Three of Oladipo, Zeller, and Watford outscored the Buckeyes ENTIRE team 70-68. Yes, the Big Ten is by far the best conference in college basketball. As promising things looked after Ohio State looked in the overtime loss to #3 Michigan, Sunday showed is that Ohio State is a notch below the Indianas, the Michigans, and perhaps even the Michigan States. The Buckeyes are a good team, but unless they find a consistent scoring option beyond Deshaun Thomas (something everybody has been saying since November), they won't be making a deep run in the NCAA Tournament. One game, Aaron Craft will put up some points, but his forte is dishing to other guys to score and on the defensive end. Aaron Craft by far the best defender in college basketball. Another game it's Lenzelle Smith Jr. or Sam Thompson, or Shannon Scott, or even LaQuinton Ross helping DT with the scoring load. Each of those guys have shown they can do it for a game, but far too often we've sen of the Buckeyes big games this season that OSU is Deshaun Thomas, and not much else.
National Signing Day has come and gone. Ohio State's 24 member class ranks in the top three by most recruiting services. Okay. I'm gonna have to take their word on it. Look, on paper, these guys look really good. During his radio show on Signing Day, Urban Meyer gave the Buckeyes recruiting a "good grade", but said you gotta wait two or three years on the evaluation. He's 100% correct. More often than not, it's the three-star players (AJ Hawk, James Laurinaitis, Malcolm Jenkins) who turn out to be your best players and move on to the NFL.
As I'm writing this, the Blue Jackets are hours away from wrapping up a six-game homestand against the San Jose Sharks. Before the season, head coach Todd Richards said scoring goals was going to be an issue with this team. Nostra-Todd-mus was right. Through their first twelve games, Columbus has scored just 24 goals. Two teams have scored fewer goals, Los Angeles with 22 and Colorado with 21, but both of those teams have played two fewer games. The Jackets are tied with Nashville with average of 2.0 goals per game. However, the Predators are 5-3-4, while the CBJ are 3-7-2. Some fans say it's a new season, but the same old Jackets. In terms of wins and losses, that would be a fair statement. However, if you look past that, you see a much different effort this season that bad Blue Jackets teams of years past. What this team lacks in firepower, they make up for in passion and grit. Going to the locker room after a loss, you sense a genuine frustration with the losing. In years past losing was accepted as a way of life. I know Blue Jackets fans are tired of being asked to be patient, but with John Davidson now the man in charge, better days are ahead for this franchise. After all, it can't get much worse, right?
The Indians made some news this weekend by signing 42-year old Jason Giambi to a minor league deal. Just a few months ago, Giambi was interviewing for the Colorado Rockies managerial job. Tribe brass is hoping to catch lightning in a bottle (I guess that's their philosophy every year). Mmmkay. At least he won't be expensive. Giambi is slated to make $750,000 if he makes the big league roster. Cleveland also signed pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka, who's coming off Tommy John surgery. Another low risk, high reward deal. Dice-K will make $1.5 million, and up to $4 million with incentives if he makes the 25-man roster. This is a smarter gamble for the Indians than Giambi, but what is the front office's philosophy? Hoping to get players to produce on the cheap? That kind of thinking is why fans don't come out to Progressive Field. The Tribe is banking on too many ifs to contend. I know pitchers and catchers are just reporting and it's too early to give up hope. Hopefully, I'm wrong.
(Added 8:55pm 2/11/13): I am wrong. Word coming down within the last hour that the Indians have signed free agent Michael Bourn to a four-year contract worth $48 million. Click here for the details, courtesy of CBS Sports. As a Tribe fan, I'm happily surprised!
Another thing, quit with the Joe Flacco going to the Browns. That's not going to happen! Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome is not dumb enough to let the Super Bowl MVP, one of the top ten quarterbacks in the NFL, go to another team, especially one in the same division.