In case you were out changing the world with the first-ever mass-produced backyard eagle coop (patent pending), here's what you missed in sports on Thursday:
On a day when men in the trenches were in demand, the Kansas City Chiefs selected OT Eric Fisher out of Central Michigan with the first overall pick in the NFL draft. "Oh, that's awesome, I love Eric Fisher," said casual Chiefs fan and Kansas City transplant Bill Franzen. "I remember watching him in college and thinking to myself, 'Man, I hope that guy ends up on my Chiefs.' What an exciting year to have the top pick in the draft. I remember last year; I was in the break room at the actuarial firm where I work, and I was like, 'This team is an Eric Fisher–type talent away from contending.' I just can't wait to watch him stop guys from hitting newly acquired quarterback Alex Smith next year." Franzen then paused, looked over his shoulders and asked in a whisper, "Right? Was that a good reaction to have? I have no idea what to think."
Manti Te'o was among the high-profile prospects to drop out of the first round of the NFL draft. Te'o's embarrassment was compounded by a phone call he received from someone purporting to be an NFL general manager. "He said his name was Trick Footballsworth of the Los Angeles Footballers and that I was for sure going to be his first-round pick," a sheepish Te'o explained after the first round was over. "All I had to do was give him my social security number, some bank passwords, and then mail my car keys to a P.O. Box in Simi Valley. Anyone could've fallen for that, though, so I'm not going to beat myself up too hard over this. Though I do need a ride."
In case you were the one guy in the office who was actually working yesterday, here's what you missed in sports on Thursday.
Break up the Crimson! Harvard mounted the biggest upset of the first day of the NCAA tournament, beating New Mexico, 68-62. Harvard coach Tommy Amaker was near tears after the game, saying, "No one thought New Mexico could be beat. No one. But we took a ragtag bunch of kids with no futures, and we brought down Goliath. No one will hear 'Harvard' and think second-rate any longer. This changes everything."
Davidson's bid to upset Marquette fell just short as a late turnover doomed the Wildcats to a 59-58 defeat at the hands of the Golden Eagles. "Not hands — talons," said Marquette coach Buzz Williams after the game, who credited his team's victory to their "unnecessarily specific mascot name. The Wildcats never had a chance."
With nine NHL games scheduled for Tuesday night and another four on Wednesday, it's hard to know how to allocate your attention. Here's our recommendation for the most interesting of the week's early matchups.
We’re roughly 10 percent of the way through the NHL season, and that means it’s time for some teams to panic.
Not really, of course. Even in this abbreviated season, jumping to conclusions based on four or five games would be downright irrational. So any of you hockey fans who are completely rational when it comes to your team can go ahead and stop reading right now.
The other 98 percent of you still with me? Good. Let’s hit the panic button.
One note: We’re focused here on teams that are struggling relative to expectations. The Blue Jackets may have been iffy so far, but they’re clearly in rebuilding mode, and just about everyone had already picked them for last place. A team like that can’t be considered to be in panic mode by any reasonable definition.
The same can’t be said for many of the early season’s other underachievers. Here’s a look at some of the teams that aren’t living up to expectations right now:
Shortly after the Carolina Hurricanes announced yesterday that they had signed free agent winger Alexander Semin to a one-year, $7 million contract, general manager Jim Rutherford released a statement of welcome to his new player via Twitter.
"We did a lot of research about Alexander," Rutherford wrote. "Discussions about his fit with our team included coaches, players & staff."
So much for Southern hospitality! He went on:
"Alex’s elite skill level & ability to score fill important needs, & we hope a fresh start will serve both him & our team well."
This is a little bit like introducing a new flame to your pals with, "This is Frank. I did a lot of digging, and only a few of those rumors were true. And he's a really good cook, so " But it was hardly surprising that Rutherford would want to make it clear that so much consideration had gone into the acquisition. After all, $7 million is a lot of money, and it's really a lot of money to spend on someone like Alexander Semin, who in his seven years as a Washington Capital emerged as one of the league's most divisive players — as talented to some as he is maddening for others. An Alexander Semin hat trick, the joke goes among Caps fans, is a goal, an assist, and an awful stick penalty (typically hooking). He's become the poster boy for the tired "enigmatic Russian" archetype — exquisitely gifted, enormously lazy; see: Kovalev, Alex — for reasons that contain both a little bit of truth and a lot of bullshit.
Outside the Centre Ice Arena in Traverse City, Mich., a man talked on his cell phone and described the scene inside the rink.
"You should see them," he said. "They all walk in together and they all wear the same thing. They've got on these jackets with the team logos, and slacks. They're all glued to their BlackBerries and phones. These guys, they can't stay in one place for even 10 minutes. They're always looking around."
It was, I thought as I eavesdropped, an apt description of the eight teams' worth of hockey hopefuls gathered in the beautiful lakeside town in northwestern Michigan for the 2011 NHL Prospects Tournament, a five-day exhibition of players who could someday be the league's future stars.
But the man wasn't talking about, as everyone refers to them, the kids.
"These scouts, they're like, all former players," he continued. "None of them can sit still."