Yesterday's NFL trade deadline came and went with a flurry of activi oh, just the one deal, then? I guess that works, too. Despite rumors swirling around everybody from Adrian Peterson to Kenny Britt, the only swap consummated Tuesday saw the Eagles deal nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga and a sixth-round pick to the Patriots for a fifth-rounder. It was an admission of failure from Philly; Sopoaga just signed with the Eagles in free agency in March, and for the privilege of moving up about 20 picks in the later rounds of this year's draft, they paid Sopoaga in excess of $3 million. (And if you think that still might be worth it, the signing hurts their chances of ending up with an extra compensatory pick.)
The leaguewide silence is wildly disappointing, if entirely expected. NFL teams are loath to publicly give up on their season, and with a 16-game schedule dictating that teams really just need a hot stretch to become a playoff contender again, it's easy for would-be sellers to buy in and believe that they're capable of turning things around with the players they already have. Teams with winning records are more likely to believe they're the way they are because of the talent already on hand, and won't want to spend key development time during the second half of the season on getting a new player up to speed. You can learn a baseball team's signs or a basketball team's sets in an hour. It can take you weeks to learn a football team's playbook. That's why in-season trades are so rare. And given that three notable players (Bryant McKinnie, Eugene Monroe, and Trent Richardson) were already traded during the regular season, it's no surprise that this trade deadline was a quiet one.
In case you were busy stridently fighting off accusations of having brought the weather with you, here's what you missed in sports on Wednesday:
Adam Wainwright guided the Cardinals into the NLCS, throwing a complete game as St. Louis eliminated the Pittsburgh Pirates with a 6-1 win, because of course he did. David Freese hit a clutch home run in an elimination game, because of course he did. Yadier Molina was a rock both behind the plate and in the lineup all series long, because of course he was. Two of St. Louis's three Matts — Holliday and Adams — picked up the third, a slumping Carpenter, because of course they did. And the St. Louis Cardinals will now move on to the NLCS, where they will have home-field advantage against the Los Angeles Dodgers, because of course they will. In the NLCS the Cardinals will play a hard-fought, professional series, where win or lose the players will be able to leave with their heads held high, because the St. Louis Cardinals are the St. Louis Cardinals and will always be the St. Louis Cardinals.
The St. Louis Blues, meanwhile, continue to back up their preseason hype, getting a goal from Alexander Steen with 21 seconds left in regulation to edge the reigning Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks, 3-2, and maintain their perfect start to the NHL season. Looking forward, the Blues will somehow contrive to both win their division by 12 points and get swept out of the Western Conference finals by inferior opposition, leaving them unable to hold their heads up high, because the St. Louis Blues are the St. Louis Blues and will always be the St. Louis Blues.
What's that? You were wondering exactly how many days until the start of the NFL season? Well, you're in luck! We here at the Triangle are set to spend the next two and a half months providing a daily reason to get excited about pro football's return.
When the Atlanta Falcons’ season ended in last year’s NFC Championship Game, one worry for the organization and for fans was that Tony Gonzalez’s career had ended along with it. The now-37-year-old tight end had hinted that 2012 would be his final season, and the feeling after Atlanta’s soul-crushing loss to the 49ers was that Gonzalez was walking off the field for the final time. Well, lucky for us, he wasn’t.
In case you were busy dealing with your body shutting down all systems unrelated to the production of mucus, here's what you missed in sports on Tuesday.
Dwight Howard scored 39 points as he led the Los Angeles Lakers to a 106-96 win over the Magic in Orlando, where he played the first eight seasons of his career. Howard was met with a chorus of boos, or as he calls them, "Laughs, right? Cause that's the typical reaction to my hilarious antics. That and guffaws. Kobe's a big guffawer. Let me show you what I mean." Howard then stared at the assembled press and did a throat slash gesture, before adding, "Oh, man, that guy can't get enough of me."
Valparaiso beat Wright State, 62-54, to win the Horizon League championship and qualify for the NCAA tournament. "Bryce Drew isn't walking through that door, so it's time to write your own destiny," said Valparaiso legend and current head coach Bryce Drew after the game, before adding, "Well, he is. He did. I mean, I is — I did. I meant, as a player, you're gonna have to create your own legend. But he will be attending the game. I mean, I will. You don't have to worry about that."
In case you were busy spending your day off either volunteering with a local charity or watching Magnum, P.I. on Netflix, here's what you missed in sports on Monday.
The Chicago Bulls heaped more misery on the struggling Los Angeles Lakers, beating them at the United Center, 95-83. "The in-fighting and name-calling has got to stop," Lakers guard Kobe Bryant said after the game, "because no one is going to top Dwight Coward, which I just came up with."
The Indiana Pacers earned a hard-fought 82-81 win at Memphis after George Hill knocked down the game-winning free throw following a questionable foul call. "There were bad calls all night long. All night, all night. All night long. All night. All night long, all night. All night long, oh yeah," said R&B legend Lionel Richie. "But why are you at my house asking me about basketball?" Meanwhile, Grizzlies head coach Lionel Hollins, left alone at his postgame conference, asked, "Hello? Is it me you're looking for?" to an unmanned television camera and a security guard named Clint.
On any given Sunday (or Monday or Thursday), your NFL Run & Shootaround crew will be gathered around multiple televisions, making inappropriate jokes and generally regressing to the mean. Catch up on all the NFL action right here.
Anquan Boldin: Hall of Famer?
Anquan Boldin has not made a Pro Bowl since leaving the Arizona Cardinals at the end of the 2009 season. He has not had a 1,000-yard season in Baltimore, and the beast who caught 11 touchdowns in 2008 has been limited to a total of seven touchdowns in his past two seasons. Up until these playoffs, Boldin had mostly fallen off the casual fan's radar — if your interactions with the NFL come mostly from highlights, fantasy, and Red Zone, you might have even forgotten that Anquan Boldin was still in the league.
It was Sunday, January 17, 1999. I was in Augusta, Georgia, for the first big junior tennis tournament of the season, the Mayor's Cup. Two days earlier, I walked onto the court, unseeded, for my first-round match with the 9-seed. The end result: a three-set loss. Ever the type to get down on myself, I was bummed, a feeling that continued through my first-round consolation match the following day. I lost that too. I had traveled all the way to Augusta, during my long MLK weekend, to go 0-2. I was devastated.
Then, to make matters worse, I couldn't leave. I had made the trek with a couple other players, and they were still in the tournament. So on Sunday, the penultimate day of the tournament, I showed up to the tennis center in street clothes, my racket back at the hotel. Coming empty-handed meant both spectators and participants alike were reminded that you're a loser. I was 11, and at that point in my life it got no worse than this.