This isn't exactly the most exciting time in Arizona sports. The Cardinals are effectively in hibernation mode roster-wise until the NFL's labor problems clear up; the D-Backs are hatchlings in the spring training sense; and the Suns continue to slosh around the .500 mark.
The Coyotes are actually kind of awesome right now; the local hockey squad has won four straight to put themselves just one point out of third place in the Western Conference and the Pacific Division lead. I also watched Saturday night's win over Chicago too so Jordan Ellel can't pick on me for ignoring or despising the team. Problem is, have you ever tried writing about a sport you know almost nothing about? It's hard.
So I'm sorry to the Yotes and their fans - I really am watching but me writing about it would be kind of like this skit.
Faced with the monumental challenge of coming up with something to write about I'm going to roll out some random thoughts on the Arizona sports scene. I'll probably roll this out from time to time when I either don't have enough to say on a subject or just really have nothing to write about.
Cardinals QB Kevin Kolb?
Leading up to the Super Bowl, the Cardinals approached Larry Fitzgerald about his opinions for the quarterback position and he allegedly suggested either Kevin Kolb or Marc Bulger. Obviously my stance on Bulger has been well-documented within these pages but I'm really starting to warm to the concept of Kolb - particularly if he can be had for the right price.
Kolb has the necessary quick release to survive behind the Cardinals' offensive line along with above-average arm strength, and perhaps most important of all (at least to me) decent accuracy. To this point in his NFL career Kolb has completed nearly 61 percent of his passes - 62.1% in his past two seasons, his first two with real playing time. It also warrants mentioning that in his senior season at pass happy University of Houston, Kolb completed 67.6% of his passes.
Like I said with Bulger - if there is one thing I value highly after a season with Derek Anderson, John Skelton, and Max Hall - it's accuracy.
What's also relatively clear about Kolb is that he'd help the Cardinals re-sign Fitzgerald. If the Cards heed the advice of their star I would imagine he'll weigh that very heavily in his decision to stay in the Valley. Seems like a win-win to me.
You may point to Kolb's uneven TD/INT ratio (11/14) but I think his equally uneven playing time has something to do with that. I'm cherry picking Kolb's best start here but this year he torched the NFC's No. 1 seed - Atlanta - to the tune of 23/29, 326 yards and three touchdowns.
Clearly the primary question with regards to Kolb is what the price is going to be. If you believe some of the reports then the Eagles are looking for a first round pick as the return for their 5th year QB and frankly that's a bit too steep for the Cards, who have the fifth pick in April's draft.
However if the Cardinals could possibly land Kolb for their second rounder and a mid-round pick then you have a workable situation.
Trading for Kolb while retaining the 5th pick would allow the team to solve their quarterback problems while still being able to add an impact defender at the top of the draft. Sounds too good to be true.
Scott Howard Is Not Vinsane
If you ever venture over to Bright Side of the Sun you're probably familiar with my feelings regarding Suns guard Vince Carter. Long story short - I can't stand the dude and may or may not have founded some sort of loosely affiliated group of people hoping to see him burst into flames (metaphorically speaking).
My problem with Vince is that he just doesn't seem to give a damn anymore. Once a dangerous slasher - Carter has reduced himself to a jump shooter that drives to the hoop with the zest of a child going clothes shopping with their parents. It's almost night and day watching 38-year-old Grant Hill glide effortlessly to the basket while the 34-year-old Carter hobbles down the floor and fires off-balance jumpers at a pedestrian rate.
Fortunately for me it appears Alvin Gentry has begun pulling Vince when it appears he's bringing nothing to the table - which is frequently. After averaging over 30 minutes a game since being acquired in December - Carter has suddenly found himself playing 16, 20 and 15 minutes respectively in the past three games and being benched for the entire fourth quarter of the previous two.
I applaud this strategy from Coach Gentry. Vince Carter obviously has no future on this basketball team and his playing time should reflect that. Call me a hater but I cannot wait until his last game in a Suns uniform. We probably won't be lucky enough to see him shipped off before the trade deadline but when that $4 million is paid to send him off the roster it'll be a banner day for me.
Vince Carter Autographs...Why?
Speaking of Carter and taking into account my opinions above - you can imagine my surprise Saturday afternoon when I shot over to my local Einstein Bagels and out the window saw a line of people waiting in front of The Room Store for a Vinsanity autograph.
In case you missed my tweet from Saturday check out this line which wrapped around the building.
I actually drove into the parking lot to look at this wacky group of diehards. I thought perhaps the people in line were receiving free money - but no, they were there to get an autograph from Carter. Weird, right?
Suns Season Tickets - Decisions, Decisions
As you probably read last week, Dennis Tarwood did a piece on what Suns season ticket holders should take into account before deciding whether to renew or not. This is a subject near and dear to my heart as I am in fact one of those season ticket holders.
The initial renewal deadline for my tickets is Feb. 17 at which point the best incentives theoretically disappear. Just so you know, those incentives include the largest overall price discount, a free parking pass if you pay in full, $100 "Gorilla Bucks" to be used in the arena, and a gift card of your choosing that has a varying value depending on how quickly you pay.
To level with you, the reader, we're just three days from the deadline and I'm still not sure what to do. Like Tuffy appropriately cited it's entirely possible that Steve Nash and Grant Hill could be elsewhere by next fall but that really isn't going to be what makes my decision for me.
No friends, what's holding me up is the enticing prospect of bargain bin prices when the team is struggling with season ticket sales during the dog days of summer.
During the summer of 2009 I looked into season tickets for the first time and right around the NBA Draft the team offered up some mildly ridiculous discounts that saw me capitalize on a pair of tickets in the 18th row for nearly half the normal price.
That memory is quite near to my brain as the renewal date creeps up - does it make me a bad fan to hope to benefit from the financial struggles of my home town team? Probably, but I'd like to think it makes me a savvy consumer.
Baseball Begins; Will It Suck?
Pitchers and catchers report for the Diamondbacks today and what I'm reading from Seth Pollack and all other local media outlets is that the team is developing a new identity of toughness. And you know what - that sounds super groovy.
But although almost no man can build a baseball team on a budget like Kevin Towers - D-Backs fans are probably going to have to steel themselves for another long, loss filled summer.
I'd assume the team will probably strike out less and blow fewer saves but the roster as a whole just seems talent poor. I'm sure Geoff Blum, Willie Bloomquist, and Melvin Mora are swell dudes but who is going to knock in runs for this squad?
Even if Justin Upton bounces back from a disappointing 2010 you're still counting on Chris Young to have another big year and Kelly Johnson to match his career 2010 and even then you're still hoping to replace the 57 home runs and 185 RBIs produced from Mark Reynolds and Adam LaRoche alone.
My baseball analysis is obviously ridiculously simplistic but barring some obscene pitching, this team isn't going to win a ton of games.
That won't get me down though - as long as this team competes and doesn't blow leads in the late innings like they did last season they'll at least stay compelling enough to watch - for a while.
Kings Coaching Staff - Royal Suns
While watching the Suns gag heavily against Sacramento on Sunday night I noticed that there may actually have been more Suns franchise history on the Kings coaching staff than the Phoenix roster. Look at the three main coaches and their Suns resumes:
Paul Westphal - As a player and coach Westphal's contributions to the Suns are significant. He was a 4-time All-Star and 3-time All-NBA first team selection while in Phoenix and played in the 1976 Finals and 1979 Western Conference Finals. His coaching career was almost as impressive as he led the Suns to the NBA Finals in his first season and posted a 191-88 record in his 3+ seasons.
Truck Robinson - A Phoenix teammate of Westphal on the 78-79 and 79-80 Suns, Robinson starred for those nearly forgotten Suns teams basically staying around 18-point and nine-rebound averages in three-plus seasons for Phoenix
Mario Elie - Now I said Suns history, not necessarily positive history. Though Elie did play for the Suns in 2000-2001, he'll always be known for the ‘kiss of death.' In Game 7 of the 1995 Western Conference Semifinals, Elie broke a tie with a corner three pointer with only seconds remaining to win the series for Houston - wrapping up a comeback from a 3-1 series deficit in a year in which the Suns harbored serious NBA title hopes.
On the current 14-man Suns roster, eight players are in their first season with the team. Beyond that, Dragic, Dudley, Frye, and Lopez were all part of last season's fun Western Conference Finals run but that is their only playoff appearance with the franchise. That leaves Steve Nash and Grant Hill.
Like the 4 young pups, Hill played a significant role on last year's WCF squad but despite the local love for him he only arrived for the final year of the Mike D'Antoni era and hobbled through the Suns' five-game dismantling by the Spurs in the 2008 playoffs.
That basically leaves Steve Nash and his studly Phoenix resume of two MVP's and three Western Conference Finals appearances against the Westphal, Robinson, Elie trio. Funny how that works.
It's bar room conversation if nothing else.
Have a super week guys and dolls.