Archive for January, 2011

Pro Bowl Will Be Fun With Michael Vick Starting

Posted in Philadelphia Eagles with tags , , , on January 28, 2011 by birdbytes

The NFL Pro Bowl is typically a celebration of the season that was.  While to some extent that remains true for the players and coaches involved, the Super Bowl is less than one week away.  I’m not sure that holding the game the week before THE game is the NFL’s best idea, but it’s not like the Pro Bowl is all that exciting anyway.

However, this year is going to be different.  The headliner in Honolulu this week?  Michael Vick – redemption story of the century (this year).  We will all be able to watch his raw abilities on display on Sunday evening for about a quarter or so, without having to watch him take agonizing hit after agonizing hit.  You see, in this game there is no blitzing and it is all about offense.

If you thought quarterbacks were over-protected during the season, just wait until the Pro Bowl.  Usually the extra rules make for a yawn-fest.  But this weekend, I’m excited about watching the Mike Vick Experience in Hawaii.  It’s going to be a game (for about a half) worth tuning into.

Sidney or Mario? Best Penguin Ever

Posted in Pittsburgh Penguins with tags , , on January 26, 2011 by birdbytes

Sidney Crosby is one of the most popular players in the NHL today, and for good reason.  He is leading the league in points at the All Star break despite having missed the last eight games.  The Pittsburgh Penguins have won a Stanley Cup title in his regime, and lost the one before that.  They are a legitimate contender again this season.

Mario Lemieux led the Penguins to consecutive Cup wins in the mid-90s and was arguably the best player of his time.  There is no shortage of comparisons to the Penguins that Lemieux led and the ones Crosby now leads.  Evgeni Malkin is the equivalent of Jaromir Jagr – every superhero needs a sidekick, right?

It is certainly too early to make this judgment given that Crosby is only 23 years old and in his sixth season, but who is the best Pittsburgh Penguin of all time? Throwing out this year so far for Crosby, here is an interesting comparison between two superstars through five seasons of play.

Mario Lemieux was a rookie in 1984-85 and through five seasons he had played in a total of 368 games.  Crosby through five seasons had played in 371 games.  Super Mario had more points through five seasons (715) than did Crosby (506).  For a team captain that is the key stat since these are the top scorers on their respective teams.  However, if you look at the team records the Penguins only made the playoffs in one of Lemieux’s first five seasons, while Crosby’s Pens have been regulars in the postseason.

Statistically, in just about all key categories, Super Mario trumps Sid the Kid through five seasons.  Ultimately players will be judged on winning and not stats alone, however, and Crosby has hoisted Lord Stanley once in his first five seasons.  Lemieux did not win the Cup until his 7th season in the NHL.

I would attribute that to supporting cast and level of competition more than anything so — for now — I believe that Mario Lemieux is still the greatest Penguin of all time.

But at 23, Sidney Crosby still has plenty of time to catch up.

Sixers For Real

Posted in Sixers with tags , on January 25, 2011 by birdbytes

The Sixers, a team that I would say I casually follow, are for real this year.  I have watched a handful of games and seen most of the highlights the last few months, and Doug Collins has these guys rolling.  They are beating teams they should beat, and hanging tough against the Celtics, Lakers and Heat of the league.  They even threw in a victory against the Bulls the other week.

I do not think they will contend for a title, but they are a legitimate threat to make a little noise in May and June.

Stay tuned…

Orioles Season Preview: Coming Soon

Posted in Baltimore Orioles with tags , on January 23, 2011 by birdbytes

Just wanted to remind you that I’ll be breaking down the Orioles 2011 season, position by position, starting first week of February.

I’ll grade each position and predict their placement in the East this year.

For now, check out my latest Bleacher Report entry about the Orioles pursuit of Vladimir Guerrero.

Penguins Looking Better

Posted in Pittsburgh Penguins on January 19, 2011 by birdbytes

That was a big win last night, at home against the best team in hockey so far this season.  Detroit came in without Jimmy Howard (who is on my fantasy team) in net, however, and the Penguins took advantage of that very early in the game.  Jordan Staal scored in the sixth minute of the first period when Detroits goalie got stuck behind net, leaving a gimme for Staal to push in.  The Penguins never really lost control after that, but Chris Kunitz (also on my fantasy team) put in the Pens third goal of the night to put them up by two in the second period.

Even without Crosby in the lineup, the Penguins are playing much better hockey the last couple weeks, and will need to keep it up to catch the Flyers.

Number 1 Minor League Team in Central PA

Posted in Central PA Minor League with tags on January 15, 2011 by birdbytes

Well, it’s finally time to unveil the top minor league team in Central PA.

Considerations for this list included overall success, game atmosphere, and honestly getting multiple sports (something for everyone).

Drum roll, please…

5. Central Penn Piranha
4. Harrisburg Horizon
3. Harrisburg City Islanders
2. York Revolution

1. Hershey Bears

The Bears are about as close to a professional atmosphere as you can get in the area.  The Giant Center is a great arena for watching a hockey game.  As farm team of the Washington Capitals, you often see soon-to-be Caps or former Caps coming and going from the team.  Not only that, but the Bears do nothing but win Calder Cups.  They are back-to-back defending champions, have won 3 out of the last 5 titles and made it to the finals four out of the last five.  Playoff hockey in Hershey is electric, and the stadium sells out most home games in the regular season.

If you want to catch a great hockey game this season, check out the home of the Hershey Bears.

Staal is Pens Medicine

Posted in Pittsburgh Penguins on January 15, 2011 by birdbytes

It took a week or so since he returned, but Jordan Staal the last two games has put the Sidney Crosby-less Penguins on his back.  His line, with Matt Cooke, against Boston today was relentless.  Ultimately, Staal scored the winning goal.  Some of the issues I blogged about last week seem to be better when he is in the lineup.  They will need Staal, Malkin and Crosby all to be healthy come playoff time.

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