Weekly Nickel 5-13-2012

Photo courtesy of guestofaguest.com. Two former number ones left Madrid as Champions. Will Roger Federer (left) and Serena Williams (right) both make deep runs at the French Open?

By Josh Kramer

Playoffs, playoffs, and more playoffs.  It is a great time of year in sports.  And the best part is the playoffs are just starting to really heat up as we enter the later rounds for both the NBA and NHL.  Last week was a blast and the English Premier League’s heart stopping finale was the cherry on top, but this week should be a good one in its own right.  Here are the events to keep an eye on.

5.  Despite a good few months until the NFL season officially kicks off, the trash talking and storylines are just as juicy as ever.  Chad Ochocino has warned Goodell at the possible storm that seems inevitable in the wake of Junior Seau’s death and the heavy emphasis on head trauma.  In addition, two familiar NFC East foes were jabbering during yesterday’s holiday.  Osi Umenyiora wished LeSean McCoy, a “Happy Mother’s Day.”  Lastly, the Vince Young train has landed in Buffalo.  Talk about a major bust.  It may only be May, but the excitement is mounting.  Who else is excited for some NFL football?

4.  Madrid was full of surprises over the course of the past week.  In the end though, two familiar faces came out victorious (Roger Federer and Serena Williams).  Many of the top players were none too pleased with the blue clay.  Maybe this displeasure correlates to the frustration that opponents feel when they travel to Idaho to take on Boise State in football ?  Either way, the French Open is nearly upon us.  Next stop Rome though for what is always a great event.

3.  Josh Hamilton is kind of good.  Bryce Harper, though a young stud, apparently has some temper issues to work out.  Derek Jeter is playing some of the best baseball of his career.  And both the Angels and Phillies remain in the cellar of their respective divisions.  The MLB has been full of surprises thus far this season.  Who can really complain (outside of Angels and Phillies fans)?  It has been a wild start to the 2012 season.  My eyes are focused on a showdown in the City of Brotherly Love.

Boston Red Sox at Philadelphia Phillies:  How are both of these teams occupying cellar spots?  The expectations were sky-high for both of these perennial powerhouses.  Things have not gone as planned.  At least not yet.  The season is still young.  There is a reason why there was a good amount of hype surrounding both of these teams in the preseason.  I will tell you this much.  This is not just your typical interleague rumble between two last place teams.  These are both teams that know the importance of turning things around now.

Philadelphia and Boston are both littered with talent offensively and defensively.  I foresee both of these teams making a run and being in the conversation come October.  Especially the Phillies.  These teams are struggling for different reasons.  Boston’s pitching staff can’t get people out, while Philadelphia has been inept at the plate.  Despite Philadelphia’s lack of run production, the pitching matchups are very favorable.  Remember, good pitching beats good hitting any day of the week.  I feel a sweep coming on as the Phillies finally get back on track.

2.  Two Game 7’s in round one was not too shabby.  Many of the series were vastly lopsided, but I enjoyed watching both LA teams claw for dear life.  Sadly, I do not see things getting much more competitive in the Conference Semifinals round (I hope that I am wrong).  Miami is just too good for Indiana, and really any team remaining in the East for that matter.  If Derrick Rose doesn’t go down, it may be a different story.  And in the West, I am very excited to see the Thunder and Lakers square off.  But OKC has too much firepower and are a far different team from the one that pushed LA to six games back in 2010.  In addition, San Antonio is far too experienced for an ailing Clippers team.  I am very excited to see what the future holds for “Lob City” though.

1.  Is it 1994 again?  The NHL could not have asked for a better matchup in the Eastern Conference Finals.  And does anyone really want to play against the red-hot Kings right now?  The NHL playoffs will make people reach for their pacemakers no matter what the round.  It is the nature of the beast.  Only four teams left looking to hoist Lord Stanley.

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.

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