4/05/2010 Written by Michael Castillo
Since it is Opening Day and optimism is in the air from Pittsburgh to Wrigleyville, today's three hot topics will be more like the three things to think about during the upcoming season.
Upton's Smokin': Arizona's 22-year-old outfielder Justin Upton(above) is fresh off a big payday, and on the fringe of becoming a flat out stud after a season where he hit .300 with 26 homers. Look for Upton to become a serious MVP candidate by hitting more than 30 homers and eclipsing the century mark in RBI, all while making his brother, B.J., look like old news.
A Few Good Teams: While the NL has clear cut division favorites in the Phillies and Cardinals, the AL will be hotly contested all year, with each division having three very legitimate division contenders. The Rangers, White Sox and Rays are serious, but dark horse candidates in their divisions, and even the O's have improved, leaving the Blue Jays at the bottom of the East, with Kevin Gregg set to provide the fireworks in Toronto.
Zito & Cain: The most influential and crucial components in the Giants' rotation might not include the ace, and 2-time Cy Young winner, Tim Lincecum. Should Matt Cain turn in another stellar year, and if Barry Zito can live up to a fraction of the expectation placed on him in 2007, these two could combine for 30 wins and be a big part of the reason why the Giants are postseason bound.
Blues Rise at Easter: Didier Drogba and Joe Cole scored for Chelsea, who soared to the top of the Premier League with a giant, yet controversial 2-1 victory over Manchester United at Old Trafford, on Saturday. Sir Alex Ferguson followed the game with his patented, red faced complaint of the officiating after the game, citing Drogba's offside goal and remaining ironically oblivious to the handball goal scored by United's Fabricio Macheda.
Eagles send McNabb Flying: According to reports on Easter, the Philadelphia Eagles have sent quarterback Donovan McNabb to the division rival Washington Redskins for a duo of draft picks. The word is that the new 'Skin will kick off his tenure in D.C. by throwing a party to celebrate not being sucked into the Black Hole of Football, Oakland.
Butler serves up date with Destiny: Both the minnow and the big fish won their Final Four matches Saturday, setting up a dramatic and improbable Championship game between Butler and Duke. Lost amongst all of the comparisons of Hoosiers and Butler, is head coach Brad Stevens' uncanny resemblance to Jimmy Chitwood himself.
Lakers sink:The defending NBC Champion Lakers capped off a once promising 5-game roadie with a 17 point drubbing at the hands of the Atlanta Hawks last night, finishing the trip with just two wins. Kobe Bryant tore into the team afterward, after concern that he was traveling with the Clippers by mistake.
United fall: English giants Manchester United confirmed that forward Wayne Rooney did not suffer any broken bones during Tuesday's match in Munich, but did reveal that the striker had minor ligament damage in his ankle. Across Manchester, Carlos Tevez was seen with a smile when he heard the news.
Hope for Nationals: Officials have confirmed that US President Barack Obama will throw out the first pitch on Opening Day in Washington D.C. for the hometown Nationals. The ballclub reportedly extended their invitation to the Chief last week, after applying for health care assistance to aid with the signings of Stephen Strasburg, Matt Capps and Jason Marquis.
Soaring Back: The once hapless and injury-ridden Detroit Red Wings are soon to melt the ice with their play, as the 11-time Stanley Cup Champions ended March with 6 straight wins, and are 12-2-1 since the Olympic Break. Meanwhile, back in Toronto, the league office is rejoicing after panicking over dreaded Wingless playoff television ratings.
UConn Do it: The Lady Huskies won their 76th straight game last night by 40 points over Florida State, booking yet another Final Four trip, and putting them a couple games back of the Toronto Raptors for the last playoff spot in the NBA.
Bucking Old Habits: In the 17 years of the Pirates long string of losing seasons, they have traditionally placed their pitchers in the nine spot, but this year is different however, as the Buckos plan on slotting Zach Duke & Co. in the 8-hole. According to Pirates brass, the move is to ensure a winning season in Miley Cyrus's lifetime.
Ducking Around: Numerous reports have surfaced that the Oregon Ducks are prepared to offer current and dedicated Michigan State boss, Tom Izzo, the richest deal in college hoops, to take the post in Eugene. It better be the richest deal ever, if you're asking someone to go from a squad of perennial Final Four candidates, to a school of Nike sponsored convicts.
Take that, Glazer: Bayern Munich dramatically beat Manchester United 2-1 in Tuesday's first leg of the Champions League Quartfinals, as Ivica Olic stole the ball away from United defenders to score the winner in the 90th minute. As a result of the historic win, Oktoberfest has unofficially begun in Munich, six months early.
Coyote Ugly: While the Phoenix Coyotes are howling into the playoffs, the NHL is scrambling to sell the team to any takers, while denying that a deal is in place to move the team to Winnipeg, Manitoba. This could be due to Gary Bettman's refusal to admit defeat, considering he was a key voice in moving the Winnipeg Jets to Phoenix in 1996.