With the baseball season coming to an end and the basketball season just beginning, this feels like a time for a significant, meaningful column.
I would do a baseball wrap-up … but considering that I’m writing this on Wednesday morning and the World Series is still stuck in limbo, I guess that’s out of the question.
I’ve wanted to write something about my Knicks, but not before they play a few regular season games. (Though I must say, I am ecstatic that Eddy Curry recently moved from starting center to deep bench.)
I could go for a more general, Bill Simmons-type basketball preview … but predictions are just not my thing (and frankly, neither is Bill Simmons).
So what to write about? Well, I may not be very good at predicting what will be happening in a few months, but I can definitely tell you what’s going on today. Let’s take a look at some surprise teams that only a few months ago would have made for some pretty bold predictions (to hell with significance and meaning).
Phillies-Rays: I wrote enough about them last week — this is mostly just obligatory. If you predicted Rays in the World Series a couple months ago, people probably wouldn’t have looked at you that crazy. They’ve been “the best story in baseball” all year. But the Phillies? Did anyone really think they had it in them? Philly is still short for Philadelphia, right?
Giants: Yes, they make the list because it’s my column and I get to do what I want. I know that they won the Super Bowl, but even I thought that was probably just a lucky run, not a sign of things to come. But there they sit at 6-1 and first in the NFC. Their skill positions are deep and Eli is showing some balls — twice he’s attempted left-handed throws while being tackled, and twice it has worked.
The biggest surprise, though, has been the play of the defense. Last year, the unit was built around the pass rushing of Osi and Strahan, neither of whom are playing this season. And yet, they currently leads the NFL in sacks. Five points if you saw that coming.
Titans: And 20 points if you saw Kerry Collins replacing Vince Young, then leading the team to a 7-0 start to the season. Really, the only undefeated QB in the NFL is Kerry Collins? The former Giant? The guy who used to have problems with the sauce (not this sauce)? Dan Orlovsky has a better quarterback rating, as well as more yards per pass attempt. Guess that Tennessee’s D must be pretty good.
Redskins: A lot of people pegged the NFC East as the best division in football, but few had the ‘Skins at second in the division. Through half the season, they’re tied for the third-best record in football. Jason Campbell is sporting a cool 100.5 quarterback rating and still has yet to throw an interception on the season. He threw 11 in 13 games last year.
Tufts field hockey: That’s right, Tufts sports. If you haven’t heard what the field hockey team has done this season, I suggest you keep reading. Ranked No. 16 nationally in preseason polls, the Jumbos have climbed all the way up to No. 4 on the strength of their perfect 13-0 record. Some people feel that is still too low, as Tufts is the only undefeated team in the nation.
What’s more impressive, though, is the way the team simply dominates games. Not only have the Jumbos outscored their opponents 59-10 on the season, but they’ve also outshot opponents 355-73. Let me state that another way: Through 13 games, they’ve scored six times as many goals as their opponents and taken almost 300 more shots.
That’s just silly. Their final and most important game of the regular season comes tomorrow when they travel to Bowdoin to take on the No. 1 Polar Bears. So start paying attention; this may be Tufts’ best shot at an NCAA title in your four years here.
Dave Heck is a junior majoring in philosophy. He can be reached at David.Heck@tufts.edu.