Back in the Saddle

I finally returned from Quebec late last night after a fantastic extended weekend of golfing fun. It was a good break, but I am looking forward to getting back to the regular schedule – blogging included – tomorrow.

My Memorial Day

Tonight I’m in Montreal. Tomorrow I’m playing in a charity golf tournament (through work) on Celine Dion’s private course (Le Mirage in Terrabone). Dinner tomorrow is by her personal chefs.

Tomorrow night, the famed St. Catherine district. The next morning, another golf tournament.

So yes, I’m enjoying my long weekend.

Wednesday, more NFC East off-season talk.

Patterson and Laws

Because I haven’t seen where anyone else has said it yet — it’s nice that the Eagles drafted Trevor Laws, if for no other reason than Mike Patterson certainly has someone to share his “hobby” with.

I’m just saying.

Trevor Laws

NFC East Off-Season Analysis: Redskins

It’s really too bad the Redskins got to watch Jevon Kearse play twice last year. Without that firsthand account of his ineffectiveness, you’d think the Redskins would have been knocking down walls to sign the aging “star” to a ridiculous multi-year deal. He’s really their kind of free agent: old and not so good.Redskins Logo

But alas, it wasn’t meant to be. In fact, the Redskins somehow avoided signing an overpriced, over-aged free agent altogether this year. Don’t worry, there’s still time. But if I were a fan in DC, I’d feel cautiously optimistic that I had gotten away with something.

Key Losses

Brandon Lloyd

What it means:
It means the Redskins finally realized what the rest of the league did two years ago: Lloyd is a bum. A locker room disturbing bum at that.

Mark Brunell

What it means:
No reason to keep the old timer on the roster anymore with Jason Campbell and Todd Collins firmly entrenched at their spots. Better to use that #3 QB spot on a young guy.

Key Additions

The Redskins really made some interesting moves in the draft. No, not trading away their first round pick. That is pretty much standard for the Skins. What I’m talking about is how they used their three second round picks.

First came Devin Thomas –the tall possession receiver from Michigan State. Later in the round they selected Malcolm Kelly — the tall possession receiver from Oklahoma. Sandwiched between those two picks was Fred Davis, the tight end from USC.Antoine Randle El

Those picks were curious because the Redskins, obviously, already have talent at all of those positions, which are now pretty dang crowded. Kelly and Thomas will be competing with Antoine Randle El to determine who is the #2, #3, and #4 behind Santana Moss.

Fred Davis is added to a roster that already includes the talented (and crazy) Chris Cooley. If Davis is going to get a lot of playing time, it will need to be in two tight end sets.

Other Moves

The Skins re-signed two quiet but valuable members of the squad — Jason Fabini and Rock Cartwright.


Jim ZornIt’s hard to know what will become of the Redskins this year. They really needed to add a playmaker or two on defense and certainly have not done that. The one position that was screaming for attention – defensive end – only got some in the form of seventh round pick Rob Jackson, who will be a long shot to make the team.

On the positive side, the Redskins could certainly have a bevy of weapons on offense. The tall bodies of Kelly and Thomas should compliment the speed and quickness of Moss and Randle El nicely.

First year coach Jim Zorn is an offense-oriented guy, and he won’t suffer from a lack of options. Will yet another new playbook stunt Campbell’s growth though? Will there be anything resembling a competent defense? This year will be very interesting in DC.

Murderous Bats

I’m watching the Giants play at Coors Field.  Aaron Cook just get nailed by a splintered bat, and he’s limping off the field.  These maple bats are hazardous and someone is going to get seriously hurt if MLB doesn’t do something about them.

I try my best to limit the hyperbole around here (lord knows everyone gets their fill on ESPN), but those things could really kill someone.

Mario Kart Wii Review

“I feel like this game is the only thing we’ve sold today.”

That’s what the sales guy at Game Stop said to me on Sunday afternoon. Sunday, mind you, was more than two weeks after the game’s release date. So yeah, Nintendo is again selling huge with another first party title.

But is Mario Kart Wii any good, or is it living off the success of its predecessors?

The great news — this game is just as easy to pick up and play as ever. Nintendo didn’t lose sight of the fact that the biggest asset this game has is that accessibility.

It’s just as much fun for Mrs. Sportsdork and I to play when we have some friends over as it was to play while downing Bud Lights in the dorm years ago.

Mario Kart Wii

The wheel only takes a race or two to master. It responds wonderfully to you, and the important buttons fall right into place as you grasp the wheel. Oh, and when you show it to anyone who hasn’t seen it you always get a cool reaction.

And that, of course, is the beauty of this for Nintendo. Gamer or not, everyone wants to give Mario Kart Wii a try as soon as they see that wheel. That’s what is making the execs at Sony and Microsoft so mad, and that’s what this new term “casual gaming” is all about.

There are some other things that are nicely done. The new tracks are exciting, rich in detail, and an absolute blast to race on. The older, “remastered” tracks don’t compare.

The online interface is easy to understand as well. You can play your Mii friends, random regional opponents, or choose to go global. Online play has been reliable and it certainly adds to the replayability.

Some things weren’t done so well. As I said before, the older tracks you are used to are pretty boring now. I’m also don’t really understand what the new characters (baby Princess?) bring to the table other than the vital 10 year old female demographic. Then again, I’m almost 30 and reviewing a video game in my free time, so I’m not in a position to nitpick on this particular detail.

The game itself, under no circumstances, has enough single person playability to give me the urge to sit down alone (the series never really has). That’s pretty much the story of the Wii, with a few exceptions (Metroid Prime, Mario Galaxy, Twilight Princess).

But in conclusion, if you take the game for what it is — an easy-to-play multiplayer party game — there isn’t anything better. That’s what I’ve always loved about the series, and Nintendo hasn’t screwed it up at all. If $60 for that kind of game doesn’t appeal to you, you probably don’t have a Wii anyway.

World of Wifecraft

This is just fantastic.

NFC East Off-Season Analysis: Giants

Over the last couple of years the Giants seem to have utilized a pretty peculiar draft strategy. First, they identify a position of immediate need. Next, they take the best player available at that position.

If that kind of simplistic logic completely bewilders you, I understand. It just means you are an Eagles fan, and you’ve spent the last four or five years tying your brain in knots attempting to legitimize each puzzling Eagles’ draft decision (hey, many of them have worked out, but that doesn’t mean they made a whole lot of sense to us at the time).

Interestingly, this simple Giants’ strategy has paid off so far. Aaron Ross, drafted in 2007 after a season where the Giants cornerbacks were routinely roasted, was a key piece of the Giants’ late-season and playoff run.

This year, it was the loss of Gibril Wilson to the Raiders that prompted to drafting of Kenny Phillips. Obviously its too early to know whether that move will pay off, but the Giants’ straightforward draft approach has certainly won them some good will from the fan base.

But the offseason wasn’t completely rosy in New York (I’ll ignore that big parade they had).

Key Losses

Kawika Mitchell and Reggie Torbor

What it means:
Mitchell was a solid though unspectacular performer for the Giants. He was an asset defending the run, but perhaps a bit of a liability against the pass. But most importantly, he was a reliable player for a Giants’ team that desperately needed that at linebacker. Mitchell hasn’t missed a game due to injury in four years.

Kawika Mitchell
Off to Buffalo

Keep in mind the 2006 Giants were pulling guys off the street to play linebacker. Mitchell was exactly what they needed, and he did all they could ask.

Reggie Torbor was mostly a backup for New York, but one who played quite a bit. He really finished last season strong as well — with 10 tackles and a sack against the Pats in week 17.

The Giants decision to let these two guys go means they have confidence in two young players: Mathius Kiwanuka and Gerris Wilkinson. Combined, these two have started 11 NFL games — so this is no small gamble.

Kiwanuka is the clear starter at SAM, but Wilkinson will have a bit of a battle for the starting job at WILL:

“He’s going to have to beat out other players at that position,” Reese said of Wilkinson, “but he’s definitely going to get his shot to be a starter.”

Those other players are really Danny Clark, a veteran insurance signing by the Giants this off-season. Clark isn’t really well suited to the WILL spot, having spent most of his time on the strong-side, so Wilkinson would really have to screw this up to not be a starter in Week One.

Gibril Wilson

What It Means: The young safety was a coveted free agent, eventually signing with the Raiders for a contract worth $39 million ($16 mil guaranteed). The Giants opted not to try to retain him at that price tag, and quickly brought in a veteran safety to help out — Sammy Knight. Knight will be 33 this year and is nearing retirement. Presumably, he’ll spend this season teaching the finer points of the position to the young Kenny Phillips, whom the Giants drafted with their first pick last month.

Phillips may or may not win the starting job in camp. If he does, the Giants will have an extremely young starting defense (Ross, Phillips, Tuck, Umenyora, Wilkinson, Kiwanuka).

Key Additions

I’ve already covered Phillips and Danny Clark. The Giants also signed David Carr, who’s bad luck might be enough to kill their entire season. At least that’s what I’ll hope for.

The Giants also drafted Terrell Thomas, an interesting cornerback prospect out of USC. He will likely be spending some time on special teams this year, but once the old fogies in the Giants secondary are finally gone the team will have the young Thomas, Ross, and Webster as the presumed nickel package.

Other Transactions

The Giants got part-time running back Derrick Ward to agree to stay with the team. He, Brandon Jacobs, and Ahmad Bradshaw proved to be a lethal combination at in the backfield for the Giants. It was important for the team to try and keep Ward because Jacobs has a tendency to get injured and Bradshaw may not be an every down back.

The team also signed Rich Suebert an extension. Their offensive line was a real strength last season, and keeping them together was a big priority.


The Giants roster certainly doesn’t look any better on paper than it did last year. But it is younger, and that should have some payoff in years to come. This team did win the Super Bowl thanks in large part to the play of their young guys (Tuck, Ross, Webster, Manning) — so they have every reason to be confident they are making the right moves.

Personally, I think they may be going to far. Kiwanuka is coming off an injury and Wilkinson isn’t proven at all. Young players tend to make big mistakes, so look for the Giants to have some early season trouble. If they can survive those, this team may again be a player at year’s end.


Got a couple of things on the dock today.

1.  Bought Mario Kart Wii yesterday, and spent a good portion of last night playing both with Mrs. Sportsdork and online.  It was a lot of fun, and I’ll have a few thoughts.

2.  The start of my NFC East off-season analysis.  These things are going to be sort of lengthy, so if you’re willing to read, caffeine might be necessary.

Something a Bit Different

Spygate is frustrating and getting a bit old.  The long baseball regular season doesn’t lend itself to exciting stories.  At this point, none of us wants to read another article about how the Eagles are “interested” in acquiring a #1 wide receiver.

So on a Friday, here’s a really nice story from the paper of record about four NFL players who traveled to Africa this off-season.   It’s a few days old, but it’s a great read.

[NYT] – Four Players Who Came Out of Africa