Sunday Quick Shots column on NBA MVP, curling, steroids and more.
This is the best week in sports. And it’s not even close. Starting last Thursday: The NCAA Tournament winnows its field from 16 to four. Baseball season begins. Golf courses open in northern Illinois. Nothing else needs to be said. Except, fore! Bear Receivers NFL’s Worst Scout’s Inc. ranked the NFL’s 64 best receivers. The Bears had zero in the top 50; their three division rivals had two each. Three ex-Bears (No. 27 Bernard Berrian, No. 31 Bobby Engram and No. 55 Muhsin Muhammad) were ranked higher than any current Bear (No. 62 Marty Booker). And many fans didn’t even want recent pickup Booker. Luckily, this is one of the deepest receiver drafts in years. But Chicago has an even bigger need on the offensive line and also wants a quarterback. If QB Joe Flacco and WR Mario Manningham are both available when the Bears pick in the second round, Chicago should consider swapping a future first-rounder for an extra pick. NBA is Toughest MVP to Win The Boston Celtics should smash the NBA record for biggest one-season improvement — they had improved 32 games, four shy of the mark, with nine to play as of Thursday — and Kevin Garnett still might not win MVP. Kobe Bryant probably deserves it. And Chris Paul has, amazingly, made New Orleans the best team in the West. And that’s without even mentioning Vogue cover guy LeBron James. The Aggravations of Curling Ted Williams claimed the toughest task in sports was hitting a baseball. That always sounded right, even before I watched Jose Uribe swing. But I’ve changed my mind after a visit to northern Minnesota: nothing is harder than getting a curling rock to stop on its painted target. This shuffleboard-on-ice Olympic sport looks easy, but the granite stone never slows down. My 48-pound first- and third-grade daughters were better than me and their uncles. Cubs Add, Then Subtract Reed Johnson is exactly the type of cheap, solid veteran that small-market teams always seem to miss out on. Johnson, a career .281 hitter, is a good outfield pickup for the Cubs, but he would have been even better for the White Sox or Brewers. The Cubs now have no room for Matt Murton (a career .296 hitter). Canseco Reaction Over the Top The media hates steroids in baseball, but only baseball. And only when it’s not Jose Canseco pointing the finger. The anti-Canseco outcry grew even louder the second time around. How much of that, though, is because Canseco targeted Alex Rodriguez and considered Roger Clemens clean? If we, the media, hate steroids as much as we claim, we wouldn’t take Canseco at his word, but we also wouldn’t zealously pile on the ridicule. Freeport’s Dickinson Pitches On Freeport’s Drew Dickinson, a two-time second-team All-American left-hander at Illinois, hasn’t given up on his Major League Baseball dreams. He made it up to Class AA with the Oakland A’s organization before being cut two years ago. He plans to finish his degree at Illinois this fall but signed to play this summer with the Gary SouthShore RailCats in the independent Northern League. “I had a few bad years, but that’s not how I’m going to end my career,” Dickinson said. “I’ve got so much more to give. As long as people still offer me a contract, I’m going to play.” Assistant sports editor Matt Trowbridge’s Quick Shots on Sports appear Sundays. He can be reached at 815-987-1383 or email@example.com.