I’ll be honest with you.  Writing Free Kicks today is kind of like trudging to work despite 2 feet of snow on all the roads.  It doesn’t look good out there, and even if you get into work everyone else is going to look and feel like a mess too.  But that is why I try to divert your attention to other things besides the Orioles 1-9 record after ten games.  I mean honestly, 1-9?  Against the Rays, Jays, and A’s?  I think we need to play a team that doesn’t have an “A” sound at the end of their name.  I am just glad I went to see a movie last night instead of watching the whole game- Shutter Island was prettier than the product the O’s put on the field last night.  In fact, that movie might be a happier place than the  Orioles clubhouse right now.  But we have a lot to get to, so let’s line up for the kick…


The NBA Playoffs Are Upon Us

Now I know this may not mean much to Baltimore area sports fans, but there are plenty of great storylines to watch during the playoffs.  Sure, the Sixers (my team) and the Wizards (maybe your team, if you’re desperate) and the Pistons (my sort-of adopted team) all stink, but there is no shortage of underdogs.  Phil Jackson’s mind games in trying to accuse Kevin Durant of getting the star treatment is childish, considering that he has coached players who have and still get preferential treatment at the line (Kobe Bryant, anyone?).  Regardless of what any prognosticator might say in anointing the Lakers and Cavs as the only two possible champions, the playoffs are about uncertainty.  With the way the Lakers have halfheartedly meandered into the postseason, they are far from a lock in the West.  The Cavs have their own limitations, but Orlando and perhaps even Boston, if healthy, have the talent to match up with them and take the East.  People have been trying to take the drama out of these playoffs, but it won’t happen for me.  There are still plenty of reasons to watch.

NHL Playoffs Anyone?

Hockey is supposedly one of the four major sports, but I think I see more tennis and golf on the sports airways than I ever do hockey.  This sport can be so thrilling and the athletes so talented (when you look past the juvenile fighting) that during the playoffs people definitely need to find a way to tune in.  Hockey playoffs are absolute insanity, with home ice rarely meaning much which gives great opportunities for lower seeds to pull the upset.  With the number of higher seeds already losing Game 1 at home, these series should get even more exciting.  The #7 Flyers already won Game 1 over the #2 Devils, as did the #8 Canadiens over #1 Caps and the #8 Avalanche over the #1 Sharks.  Even if you aren’t a hockey fan at all, find some time to catch a critical playoff game- it will be worth it.  Hockey should not be allowed to fall into the second tier of American sports; people do not know what they are missing.

Santonio Holmes Dealt for 5th Rounder, Roethlisberger Awaits His Fate

For a team that was supposed to be reloading to make another run at a Super Bowl, the Pittsburgh Steelers are certainly taking their shots right now.  As a Ravens fans I am thrilled not to have Holmes in the division anymore (though Baltimore will be playing the Jets at some point), and give his history of behavior I am not surprised the team decided to jettison him to New York with a year left on his contract.  The Ben Roethlisberger situation is a bit more complex however.  There is no question that regardless of what transpired in that Milledgeville, GA bar, his behavior has been reprehensible, and we should be reminded that just because charges were not filed it doesn’t mean that she didn’t say “no” or that he didn’t do anything inappropriate.  Cases like these are notoriously difficult to prosecute, which puts the commissioner in a bind.  It is difficult to suspend a player for two accusations, particularly if they don’t result in any criminal charges.  If Roger Goodell suspends Roethlisberger for two games I will be satisfied, provided that it includes some sort of sensitivity counseling to adjust his behavior towards women.  There is no excuse for having an off-duty cop guard the door while you have a “private moment” in a bar bathroom.  That is not what the NFL is trying to stand for.

Any idea that the Steelers would trade Roethlisberger is absurd.  He has led the team to two Super Bowls and is one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL in the prime of his career.  Getting rid of the face of your franchise is not appropriate unless the team thinks that he is prone to do this again or if he really did assault those women.  If he did, I wouldn’t want him living on my block much less playing for my team.