As we turn the calendar from 2016 to 2017, many of us will make New Year’s Resolutions. They’re things we know that we need to do to improve our lives in the next 365 days and beyond. Most of us give up on them pretty quickly. I am one of those people, so I figured I would change the purpose of my New Year’s Resolutions. Instead of directing myself to do things I know I won’t, I am making resolutions for some of my favorite sports teams & players.
After the 2016 they had, they need all the help they can get.
Cincinnati Bengals management: Embrace Change.
I was listening to the local sports talk station on Friday afternoon and I heard the Bengals announcers talking about what a shame it was that A.J. Green & Tyler Eifert only played two games together this season. I immediately recognized this as the party line the Bengals will try and sell their fans for 2017. They’ll magically be better once Green & Eifert are healthy. No need for drastic changes.
This is the wrong way to go. We know by now what the Bengal ceiling is: First round defeat. No matter what excuse they make for losing over and over again, the fact is that the Bengal ceiling is a first round exit. We can’t assume Marvin Lewis can coach this team beyond that…he hasn’t done it in fourteen years. Key defensive players are getting old real quick. The offensive line has gone from being a strength to a liability with the same exact players involved.
Staying the course in the NFL means getting left behind, and that’s what happened to the Bengals in 2016. Don’t let the league pull ahead even further.
Joey Votto: Start the season with a bang.
I feel silly complaining about Joey’s performance. He’s the best Cincinnati Red by a pretty wide margin. You could argue that he’s more important to his team than any other player in MLB due to lack of people around him. He’s ended the last two seasons with MVP-quality numbers but has nothing to show for it. Why? His team has been hopelessly out of contention when he’s had ridiculous second halves of each season. Part of the reason they’ve been out of contention by the All-Star break is the fact that Votto has started each season poorly and nobody’s picked up the slack. Joey knows this. He’s skipping the World Baseball Classic because he knows he needs to work on his game more in the offseason to get off to a good start and try and keep the Reds in contention. He’ll also be able to qualify for the All-Star Game, which I’m sure results in more money. More money is good.
Lamar Jackson: Keep listening to Mama.
It would be real easy for Lamar to get caught up in the hype. When you’ve won every award there is deciding the best player in college football before you reach your junior year, it’s tough to think there’s more work to do. You’ve already proven yourself. You were already the best. What else do you need to do?
That’s why you listen to Mama. Don’t listen to all the hangers-on, hypemen and wannabe agents telling you you’re already the man. Don’t listen to the noise. Mama Jackson taught Lamar everything he knows about football and life. She’s been right so far.
And whatever you do…don’t take any advice from Johnny Manziel other than about what not to do. He got it all wrong.
Louisville Basketball: Don’t do anything stupid off the court.
Honestly, I’m past caring about wins & losses & rankings. If the Cards win, great! If they don’t, it happens. Rankings are a figment of sportswriter imaginations and are about as reliable as election polling. The main thing I ask for these days from the basketball program, coaches, players and anybody involved with it, is that they don’t embarrass me & other people that like to wear University of Louisville attire on their free time by doing some stupid crap off the court. Rick Pitino’s survived two major scandals that would have ended most coaching careers. I can’t imagine he’ll survive a third, even if he can beat Kentucky more often.
Peter Laviolette: Figure out some type of three on three strategy.
I remember everybody telling me how exciting NHL overtime was going to be when they changed the rules to three on three. It might be entertaining, but it’s pretty much been the bane of my existence the last two seasons thanks to Nashville’s pitiful performance. This season the Preds are 0-3 in games ending in the OT period & 1-3 in games ending in the shootout. Last season, Nashville was 2-12 in games ending in the OT period and 4-2 in shootout games.
Yes, the Nashville Predators are 2-15 in games ending in the exciting three on three overtime period. If they won half of these games, the narrative surrounding this team would be so much different. I don’t have an abundance of ideas to present the coaching staff with here, but anything would be better than what they’ve been doing.
Nashville Predators coaching staff: Give Pekka Rinne more time off.
We all love Pekka. But Pekka can only do so much. There are stretches of time during every season when he gets tired due to being used pretty much every game. The Preds haven’t had a top-notch backup goalie ever, so Pekka gets a lot of starts every year and his production wanes during difficult portions of the season.
That might not have to happen this year. Juuse Saros became the youngest goalie in Predators history to score a shutout Friday night against the talented St. Louis Blues. The twenty-one year old has played six games and has a 1.16 Goals Allowed Average with a 95% save percentage. It’s a small sample size, but he has been worlds better than the Preds’ other back up, Marek Mazanec & his 2.99 GAA & 89% save percentage. Maybe Saros returns to Earth here in the next few weeks, but why not give him some more opportunity? Early indications are that he’s the future of Nashville goaltending, and depth behind Pekka is a key ingredient the Preds need if they’re going to take that next step in the next couple of years.
On behalf of all of us here at THE Ultimate Sports Blog, have a Happy New Year! And don’t do anything stupid on Amateur Night, we need you here with us in 2017 as we keep getting bigger and better.