Jul 30, 2008

Saints Sign Ellis

All of the Saints draft picks will be in camp, starting today. The Saints have signed 1st round pick Sedrick Ellis to a 5-year deal, ending his training camp hold out. The Saints now have all their draft picks signed, and there are only two unsigned picks in the league.

This is great news for the Saints and better news for Ellis, who will be competing for a starting job. Sure he missed a few practices, but he was a participant in offseason workouts and will still have plenty of time (and four preseason games) to get fully acclimated to the defense. If he had held out long enough to miss the preseason games, then he would have been in trouble. Now he can be in the line up next week when the Saints play the Cardinals.

The injury bug continued at practice yesterday. RB Chris Barclay may be out for the season after suffering a leg injury last night.

Braves Trade Teixeira to Angels

The Braves have given in and are now looking toward the future. Last night, the Braves traded Mark Teixeira to the Angels for 1B Casey Kotchman and pitcher Stephen Marek.

I won't pretend to know a lot about Kotchman, but the deal looks to be a good one. I've always thought that Chipper Jones may be moved to 1B later in his career, but with him going on the DL, that wasn't an option here. So in lieu of two more months of Teixeira, the Braves get a young, starting MLB first-baseman for at least the next three years. Marek is pitching in AA ball right now, but you never know how he may pan out. Good move by the Braves.

Jul 29, 2008

Poll: The Empire Strikes Back picked as top SW Movie

Gulf Coast Offense readers have chosen The Empire Strikes Back as their favorite Star Wars film. Here's how the poll turned out:

The Phantom Menace
0 (0%)
Attack of the Clones
0 (0%)
Revenge of the Sith
2 (10%)
Star Wars (A New Hope)
4 (21%)
The Empire Strikes Back
11 (57%)
Return of the Jedi
2 (10%)

This is not a surprising result. Empire was my choice as the top film as well. The only downfall of that movie is that there's no true ending, as its the middle of the first trilogy. But other than that, it's perfect Star Wars. Irvin Kershner took George Lucas' story and brought it to a new level. He knows how to add the little things to a movie, and he improved on the characters established in A New Hope. Empire has some of the most well known Star Wars scenes, as well as top pop culture moments...mainly Vader's "No, I am your father" line and the introduction of Yoda.

The original Star Wars (A New Hope) came in second in the poll followed by a tie between Return of the Jedi and Revenge of the Sith. The other two prequel films didn't receive a vote. Again no surprise there.

Next poll: What's the best movie you've seen this summer?

New Lost video from Comic Con

The past few years at Comic Con, the Lost producers have made their first public appearance since the previous season finale and each year they show a Dharma/Lost related video (last year it was the Orchid orientation video). Here's this year's:

DarkUFO has a transcript of the video.

The video is an emergency message from Dr. Marvin Candle (real name given as Pierre Chang here). He is making the message 30 years ago, and keeping with the time travel elements of Lost, he knows who is president today and talks about the Internet. He mentions the purge and that they are all dead now. He says that "it's imperative that the DHARMA Initiative be reconstituted." Another man off camera speaks a few times and says that this is useless. Speculation has this man as Daniel Faraday, but I'm not too sure.

This video, on the surface, doesn't reveal much, but it may have a huge impact on the show. Are our Losties supposed to go back 30 years and prevent the purge? What impact will this have on the present time on the island? If Marvin Candle has been dead 30 years, how old is the Dharma initiative really? When were the orientation films really made? At one point in the video, he grasps his left arm, which is normal in this video. We've seen him with a prosthetic arm in previous orientation films. So how'd he get the prosthetic and how's his arm back to normal now?

In the video, he also says, "Time is not just of the essence, it is the essence." This is the key to the whole show. The manipulation of time is the mystery of the island.

Addition: After watching the video a few more times, I too believe that's its Faraday behind the camera. Wow! If it is him, then I really want to see his backstory. Was he on the island in the early 70s? This show continues to be awesome.

Jul 28, 2008

Injury Bug Bites Saints

The Saints only only a few days into training camp and already they have felt a few injuries. Rookie DT DeMario Pressley was put on IR and will be out the season with a foot injury. Then during Sunday's practice both WR Devery Henderson and DB Tracy Porter went down with hamstring injuries on the same play.

Its all part of the preseason, and everyone knows that they're will be a few injuries during camp. But seeing these players go down so early in the season is tough news. Hopefully, Henderson and Porter will be back soon. Henderson is battling for a roster spot at WR and has been running with the first team along with Marques Colston and David Patton. This is the make-or-break year for him. Porter has a chance to contribute to a thin secondary and any time he misses will hurt his chances for significant playing time. Pressley had the injury label going into the draft and his early NFL career is doing nothing to shed that label.

The Saints are also being cautious with other players who are recovering from injuries including Jeremy Shockey, Jonathan Vilma, Josh Bullocks, Mike McKenzie and Deuce McAllister. Deuce already had a scare in camp when his knee needed to be drained and showed some swelling. He missed a morning practice but was back running with the team in the afternoon.

This Saints team has some depth and there are some heated position battles (WR, DB, RB), but injuries usually have a way of sorting out these battles and reducing depth. The hope is that the team can stay relatively healthy from here on out.

Time to sell?

Injuries have taken their toll on the Atlanta Braves and it may be time to start planning for the future...a future that probably doesn't include 1B Mark Teixeira.

The Braves currently sit in 4th place in the NL East (6 1/2 games out) and 10 1/2 games back in the wild card race. With Chipper Jones possibly going back on the DL and catcher Brian McCann's recent concussion, the Braves may see a chance to move Teixeira for some young prospects.

Last year, the Braves traded for Teixeira, but the deal didn't pay off as the team failed to reach the post season. They gave up some promising young talent, including Jarrod Saltalamoccihia. So now the Braves are faced with a decision. Move Teixeira before the trade deadline or lose him in free agency after the season and recoup draft picks?

If this were the early 90s Braves, having Teixeira go to free agency wouldn't be a problem because they would be one of the major players to have him return. But this Atlanta Braves team spends its money more wisely and has been more frugal with spending on free agents. When they traded for him last year, they knew that he'd likely only be a Brave through this season, but it'll probably be a bit less.

The smart move is to deal him now to the highest bidder and get whatever they can get for him. This just hasn't been the Braves year with injuries to pitchers to start the season to the now hurting All Stars in Jones and McCann. Its time to look for the future, especially since Teixeira would likely only be in Atlanta for 2 more months. Why not get some top prospects now? Braves, its up to you to find the best deal and good luck to Teixeira, where ever he goes. And if you're willing to take a little less next year, take a look at Atlanta in free agency.

Jul 25, 2008

SEC Predictions

SEC Media Days were held this week, and the media made their choices for All-SEC and predictions. Here are my predictions:

SEC West:
  1. LSU
  2. Auburn
  3. Mississippi State
  4. Alabama
  5. Ole Miss
  6. Arkansas
SEC East:
  1. Florida
  2. Georgia
  3. South Carolina
  4. Tennessee
  5. Vanderbilt
  6. Kentucky
SEC Championship: Florida over LSU

Saints Sign Porter, Release Johnson

The Saints have come to terms with their second round pick, Tracy Porter, and have parted ways with TE Eric Johnson.

This is great news for the Saints secondary as Porter has a legitimate shot of contributing to the Saints weak secondary this year. If he had missed too many practices and gotten too far behind, it would have hurt his chances to play early.

The Saints now have all of their draft picks except Sedrick Ellis in camp. Hopefully Ellis' deal can be worked out soon with the 6th pick, Vernon Gholston signing with the Jets earlier today.

The release of Johnson is a bit of a surprise this early in camp. He was battling through injuries and with the trade for Jeremy Shockey, his roster spot was already in jeopardy. I guess the Saints wanted to help him out and let him go early enough for him to latch on with someone else. The only downfall to this is if there are any injuries to tight ends in camp in the next week or so.

I had high hopes for the Eric Johnson/Saints marriage from the start, but it never panned out for him in the Big Easy. He is a good pass catching tight end, but injuries and untimely drops hurt his chances with the Saints. With the emergence of Billy Miller as a quality tight end, a returning Mark Campbell and the Shockey trade, Johnson's days were numbered.

In other news early from camp, Shockey is fitting in nicely with his new team. Reports are that Drew Brees has been working with him after practice to get him up to speed on the offense. Look for this relationship to flourish throughout the preseason, as Brees has taken the tight end under his wing so far.

Jul 24, 2008

Saints Report, Colston Signs 3-Year Extension

The Saints reported to camp yesterday and the big news was that WR Marques Colston agreed to a 3-year contract extension. The deal ensures that Colston will remain with the Saints at least through 2011.

The only question is what took so long? Colston has been the most productive WR ever in their first two seasons in the league. He was a 7th round pick and has far outplayed his rookie contract. Congratulations goes out to Colston for the deserved contract and for being a professional throughout the negotiations.

This is great news and continues one of the best offseason's ever for the Saints. On WWL radio yesterday, they were polling people to see if they thought this was the best offseason in Saints history. Just this offseason, the team has signed Will Smith to a long-term deal, traded for LB Jonathan Vilma and TE Jeremy Shockey, resigned most of their own free agents (all except for C Jeff Faine), drafted DE Sedrick Ellis 7th overall, signed CB Randall Gay, QB Mark Brunell and DE Bobby McCray, and now signed Colston to an extension. What a great offseason!

The other big news from reporting day is that Ellis and Tracy Porter are still unsigned and CB Jerametrius butler Butler decided to retire.

Jul 23, 2008

Saints Sign Another Rookie, Report to Camp Today

The Saints have signed 5th round pick Carl Nicks, leaving only Sedrick Ellis and Tracy Porter unsigned as the team reports to camp today in Jackson, Miss. Hopefully, Ellis and Porter get into camp soon as both will be counted on to contribute this year.

Ellis will be more difficult to sign and his deal will likely come around the same time that the Chiefs sign Glen Dorsey. Porter needs to be smart about signing soon. As we saw with Devery Henderson a few years ago, second round picks who hold out get lost on the depth chart pretty quickly.

Jul 22, 2008

OKC Thunder?

With names like Outlaws, Thundercats and Marshalls being rumored as possible nicknames for the former Seattle Super Sonics, KOCO-TV is reporting that the team will adopt "Thunder" as its nickname. I was pulling for Thundercats, but it looks like they went for a shorter version of that (they probably didn't want to get permission to use the likely trademarked Thundercats).

The Thunder join the Orlando Magic, Miami Heat, Utah Jazz and a host of WNBA teams as having singular team nicknames.

Now the more important aspect of the moniker will be the release of the logo and color scheme for the team. Part of the relocation agreement with Seattle was that the team would leave the green and yellow color combination and name Sonics in the Pacific Northwest.

It will be interesting to see what direction the Thunder go with their colors. Obvious choices would be black, dark blue and/or purple but there are already a lot of teams in the league using variations of these colors. OKC could also borrow from already passionate fans of local universities and take the colors of Oklahoma or Oklahoma State.

It's a shame that the Sonics had to leave in the first place. OKC will support them, as they showed tremendous support for the New Orleans Hornets in their two years there. It's a cutthroat world and professional sports is no exception. I hate to see franchises move, but I was happy about the Hornets moving to Louisiana a few years ago, so I understand how OKC feels right now. They just want a team. New Orleans also knows how it feels to lose a team when the Jazz moved to Utah, so hopefully, something can be worked out in the future to revive NBA basketball in Seattle.

Jul 21, 2008

Saints Land Shockey...Finally

It has been a story that wouldn't go away. The Saints have been trying to land Giants TE Jeremy Shockey since before the NFL draft and now they have. According to multiple media outlets (first reported by Fox's Jay Glazer), the Saints have landed Shockey for 2nd and 5th round picks in next year's draft. The deal is pending league approval and a physical.

The Saints apparently have been consitent with their talk about acquiring Shockey. There have even been reports that the Saints tried to get involved in the Jason Taylor trade talks to help facilitate a 3-team deal, but that fell through when Taylor was dealt to the Redskins.

I'm not sure what I think of this trade. The Saints gave up the same picks that they had offered before the draft and were turned down. Shockey will be a great weapon on this team and Brees has worked with a great tight end before in Antonio Gates of the Chargers. Will Shockey moved the Saints to the upper echelon of teams in the NFC? Time will tell, but they look to at least be the cream of the NFC South.

My main concern with this trade comes with the 2009 draft. The Saints are built to win now and are they sacrificing the future with these deals? Next year's draft will be a lean one with 2nd and 5th rounders going to the Giants, a 6th rounder going to Green Bay (trade back in the 2008 draft for Adrian Arrington) and 3rd or 4th rounder is still tied to the Jonathan Vilma deal (maybe? the compensation for that trade has been one of the most confusing discussions by Saints fans. No one really knows what was given up). So the Saints will possibly only have a 1st, 3rd/4th and 7th. That's only three selections, using the Washington Redskins draft strategy. Maybe there's some more trades in the works for draft picks with players at crowded positions (Devery Henderson? Jason David? Eric Johnson?).

Enough about the 2009 draft, this is about the present and we have one of the top 3...top 5(?) tight ends in football. Hopefully Sean Payton learned a thing or two about dealing with Shockey when he was with the Giants b/c that's the main reason New York gave him away. They didn't want to deal with the Shockey distractions all season.

If good guys like Drew Brees, Deuce McAllister and Scott Fujita can welcome him with open-arms and he becomes a part of this team and not a me-first guy, then this trade will work out great. If he comes in and complains about his contract, playing time or any number of other things, it could be a disaster.

The other factor to remember is playing in New Orleans. Not all players can do it. Shockey was last seen holding cocktails at the Superbowl. He has a party boy persona, how will that work in New Orleans? There's also injury concerns. He broke his leg late last season. Is he fully healed?

Sure there's lots of questions, but training camp is only a few days away and they'll be answered soon enough. Right now, Sean Payton landed the guys he coveted. The guy he feels can put his team over the top. The guy he feels will open up his offense even further. As a Saints fan, you have to be giddy to see what Payton will do with a legitimate tight end. The 2008 season can't get here fast enough.

Edit: It's official, per the Saints Web site. Saints fans can start getting their #88 Shockey jerseys now.

Saints start signing draft picks

With training camp only a few days away, the Saints have started signing their draft picks. Early last week, they signed 5th round DT DeMario Pressley and on Friday, they signed two more picks, 6th round K Taylor Mehlhaff and 7th round WR Adrian Arrington.

This leaves the Saints with three draft choices left unsigned, 1st round DT Sedrick Ellis, 2nd round DB Tracy Porter and 5th round OT/G Carl Nicks.

To make room for the signed players and in anticipation of signing other rookies, the Saints waived WR Titus Ryan, CB Anwar Phillips, QB Travis Lulay and DE Jeremy Geathers...we hardly knew ya. The only real disappointment from that group is not seeing Geathers, the son of former Saint Jumpy Geathers, get a shot. Ryan and Lulay were camp bodies and Phillips has lived on the Saints practice squad for a few seasons and hasn't shown much in past camps.

Its just a hunch, but look for Nicks to sign next. You rarely see holdouts from 5th round picks. Porter and Ellis will be tougher to get signed with Ellis likely missing some training camp practices. He may wait until the other top DT, former LSU Tiger Glen Dorsey (5th overall pick), signs with the Chiefs before agreeing to a deal with New Orleans.

All this contact signings and talk is pretty boring, but it means that the offseason has come to a close and football is here again.

Jul 18, 2008

Batman Lives up to the hype and thensome

Last night I saw The Dark Knight at the midnight opening, and it was awesome. I was worried that the movie would be a let down after months and months of hype and all the discussion of the late Heath Ledger's portrayal of the Joker...with him getting lots of Oscar buzz this past week.

Well, let me tell you that The Dark Knight met my expectations and then blew them out of the water. This movie rocks from the opening to the closing. Ledger is a scene stealer each time he's on screen. His Joker will go down as the best comic book villain ever to be adapted to the big screen. He was that good. Throw in James Gordon, Harvey Dent/Two-Face, Alfred and of course Bruce Wayne and you couldn't have asked for a better Batman movie. Rachel Dawes is again being talked about as a weak point in the cast, but her role is a good one and she is key to Dent's storyline. Seeing Two-Face on screen for the first time is a shocking moment in the film as the effects team held back nothing in creating the look.

This movie was violent, funny, suspenseful, disturbing and all around entertaining for two-and-a-half hours. After watching the movie, I wondered if it was better than the excellent Batman Begins, but after sleeping on it (it was 3:30 a.m. when I got home from the theatre), I can definitely say that The Dark Knight exceeds the greatness of Christopher Nolan's first Batman effort.

I can't wait to see it again.

Jul 15, 2008

Poll: Goblet of Fire Picked as Top HP Book

I started this blog almost a year ago and have included polls on the sidebar since the beginning. The polls have ranged from sports topics to television and movies to any other random thing I can think of to poll. But once a poll closed, I just took it down and put up the next one (mostly because I only get about 4-5 votes each time. Thank you loyal readers!). Well, I've decided to start keeping track of the poll results, so once a poll closes, I'll do a post on it and talk about how and why I voted the way I did. Without further ado, here's the first poll post.

After a few weeks and a total of 16 votes (not a huge sampling, but the blog isn't exactly USA Today), Goblet of Fire is chosen as the reader's favorite Harry Potter book. I personally voted for Half-Blood Prince, but enjoyed Goblet of Fire as well.

Here's how the poll turned out:
The Sorcerer's Stone
0 (0%)
The Chamber of Secrets
1 (6%)
The Prisoner of Azkaban
4 (25%)
The Goblet of Fire
5 (31%)
The Order of the Phoenix
2 (12%)
The Half-Blood Prince
3 (18%)
The Deathly Hallows
1 (6%)

I'm still working on Deathly Hallows and am really enjoying it, but I think Half-Blood Prince will still be my favorite. I was most disappointed with Order of the Phoenix. I just found it too long with not enough advancement of the story. I believe I read that JK Rowling would have edited it down if she had had more time with it. It is still a fantastic story, but it just takes too long to get to the good stuff.

Next poll: Your favorite Star Wars film

Jul 7, 2008

Chris Paul Extends Hornets Contract 3-Years

Chris Paul has agreed to a 3-year contract extension with the Hornets. Paul could have agreed to a 3-, 4- or 5-year deal, but went with the less time so he can become a free agent sooner (similar to the move LeBron James made) and to ensure that the Hornets retain his running mates, Tyson Chandler and David West, before making any further commitment.

Some Hornets fans were concerned when they heard Paul had taken the 3-year option, but I see it as a smart business move for himself and for the team. The deal is worth $68 million and he's now one of the top 5 players in the league, so endorsement deals should be coming soon, so money is not the real factor. He is the face of the Hornets and wants to make sure that the team stays competitive for the long-term. This isn't a team with a ton of long-term success. With Paul, Chandler and West, they very well could be contending for the NBA title for years to come.

In 4 years (Paul still has one year left on his rookie deal before the 3-year extension), Paul will be eligible for free agency, but the Hornets would be stupid to let him even sniff other teams. The city of New Orleans and the team's fans love CP3 and everything he's meant to reviving basketball in the Big Easy. But lets not worry about the 2012 season now. We get to follow CP3's career for at least four more years and to worry about him leaving via free agency in 2013 just shows how tormented and tortured New Orleans sports fans have been in the past. Instead of focusing on the positives like a division title, fans focus on possibly losing Chris Paul four years from now.

Jul 2, 2008

Hornets make logo change, new uniforms coming soon

We've reached the slowest time of year on the sports calendar. The NBA season is complete with the draft being held last week. Free agency started this week, but not much has happened other than Baron Davis going to the Clippers. NFL teams are about 3-4 weeks away from reporting to training camp, meaning we're still more than a month away from meaningless preseason games. MLB is approaching the All Star break, so pennant races should really be heating up soon, but no one really pays attention to MLB until the playoffs are approaching. Hockey... who cares (but their season's over as well)? Golf...Tiger's done for the year, so there's not much mainstream attention being given to the sport right now.

So with not much going on, the New Orleans Hornets have released an updated Hugo logo. I don't know if they officially released it, but ESPN has been using the new logo since the draft last week.

Here's the old version:

Here's the new one:

This is likely a preview of the new uniforms. The fonts have changed a bit and the colors are darker and richer. Supposedly, the darker teal is called Mardi Gras Blue, even though the Mardi Gras colors are Purple, Green and Gold. So it looks like the Hornets new uniforms colors will be mainly blue and purple. I like the look, but I hope they don't get confused with Dallas or Utah, who have similar color schemes.

Other changes include NOLA on the bug's chest instead of New Orleans, which was so small before that it was hard to read. The Hornets head has been changed as well with a new grimmace on his face, updated eyes & antennea, different wings and colored in shoes.