Thursday, April 16, 2009

A Notebook of Thoughts

I really wish I could expound more on this blog, but you know, life gets hectic. I went to Florida, somehow figured out a way to cover the Frozen Four from the Sunshine State, and then when I got back, shit hit the proverbial fan. I found out there were some more layoffs at my full time gig, meaning I'm not only covering boring high school sports, I've now added boring school board and county council meetings to my docket. Essentially I'm back to my New York Sun days, except instead of the excitement and blowhardness of New York City, I get the mundane comings and goings of Suburbia. Oh yeah, the Capitals just started the NHL playoffs, and I'm covering that, too.

Throw in an impromptu visit to NYC (And really shouldn't all trips be spur of the moment. Everyone drinks more, savors the moment more, and in general thinks about it more — both positively and negatively). But through all this, I haven't been able to write for pleasure — something that I hope will change come summer time. And really, there's so much to write about. It's my favorite time of the year to be a sports fan.

Greg Paulus: Yeah, there has been a lot of talk about this whole Greg Paulus to Michigan thing. There's Paulus's take — "With me only having an opportunity to play for one year, the chance and the opportunity to compete at a high level is important. There is an opportunity to do that at Michigan."

There's Michigan freshman and presumed starter next season Tate Forcier's take: "“I’ve been talking to coaches all morning, and my position coach, Coach Smith, he told me specifically that they have not offered him — they don’t know why he would lie,” Forcier said Thursday afternoon. “They said, ‘We’ll let you’ll know what’s up,’ because right now, their specific words were, they haven’t offered.”

And then there's the man who really matters, Rich Rodriguez. Oh wait, he hasn't commented on this, instead letting this story ferment for a couple days. People have called and texted with outrage along the lines of "Why! Why! Paulus?" To me, though, it's a non-issue. The guy can only play for one year so he won't be taking a scholarship. It's not like any current quarterbacks on the Michigan roster have done anything to merit no competition for the job.

And frankly, I don't expect Paulus to win the job even if he does come. He'd have to be an other worldly talent to win the job for a rebuilding team that's looking to get its quarterback much-needed reps. Plus, I'm one of the few people on the planet ecstatic about this development. It's a fusion between two of my passions. But in the end, I'm convinced this will be a non issue. Forcier is gonna start, with the other freshman, Denard Robinson, getting some reps as well. As for a predicted record, ummm ... did you see last season? I'm not gonna venture down that path until I absolutely have to.

The Nats: Hey, not sure if you noticed but the Nats finally got in the winning column last night, beating the Phils. When I was down in Florida for a week, I caught the Nats second game of the season and grew quickly depressed as a bunch of Marlin runs went up on the scoreboard and I had no ammunition to fire at the 5,000 or so fans in the crowd.

I'm not sure what to think about this Nats team. They can hit some, but as expected the pitching is pretty atrocious. Last night was the first time all season the team got a quality start. I was quietly optimistic in spring training, and I could still see them being excitingly average, but we'll see. Be optimistic all you want — I'm officially declaring the race for the worst record in baseball on.

Gilbert: Gilbert Arenas came back for two games at the end of the season to test out that balky knee and did reasonably well. Now he's telling reporters that he wants the Wiz to get more serious for next season after this year's 19-63 — yeah it got that ugly — record. I get to meet Gilbert tomorrow (Saturday) at an Adidas store opening that I willingly volunteered to cover. I want to meet Gilbert so bad that I'm skipping being in attendance for Game 2 of the Rangers-Caps series. Hopefully, I'll be able to score an interview with my man, Gilbert. And by hopefully, I mean there's no way I'm going to this thing and not having some kind of interaction with the dude.

As for the Flip Saunders hiring, I like it. I like it a lot. Some were calling for Avery Johnson, but I think Phoenix was a prime example of what happens when a team tries to hire a mismatched coach that doesn't match the strengths of a team. The Wiz need to embrace offense because in my opinion, there still isn't a threesome that can score with Gilbert, Caron, and Antawn (when healthy) in the Eastern Conference. They aren't better than teams at rebounding, they aren't better in crunch time, and they sure as hell ain't better than any quality teams in the defense department.

The Economy: I took news of things like Goldman Sachs, Wells Fargo, and Citigroup actually posting profits like a Nats victory. Yeah, they won, but what about the end of the season. The record is still gonna be horrible. We may have stemmed the tide when it comes to residential real estate and the sheer orge-like corruptness that is the collective leadership of investment banks in the this country, but there's a new monster on the horizon starting to bear its head. But then you hear things like this:

New-home construction tumbled 11 percent in March, according to government data released yesterday, dashing hopes that the troubled housing market had begun to improve. The drop was bigger than analysts had expected and was a reversal from the surprise 20 percent jump in new-home construction in February, which had stoked hopes of a market rebound. Most of the drop came in the market for multi-family housing such as condominiums and apartment buildings with five or more units, which tumbled 42.6 percent.

In addition, I'd heard rumblings from friends in the real estate market that said commercial real estate is what will keep this recession alive and kicking. I work in an area of Northern Virginia called Tyson's Corner that is almost exclusively office buildings and shopping malls with a few condos and apartments that got thrown into the mix during the housing boom. Well, walk around this area for 10 minutes and it becomes abundantly clear that half the office space is going unused.

Then I read this today:
General Growth Properties, the giant shopping mall company whose holdings stretch from Tysons Corner to the planned community of Columbia and Baltimore's Inner Harbor, yesterday sought protection in bankruptcy court, citing debts of more than $27 billion. The bankruptcy heralds a wave of trouble in commercial real estate that threatens to put another damper on the economy, industry analysts said. By the end of 2011, $1.2 trillion of commercial real estate debt will come due, and like General Growth, many of the borrowers will be unable to refinance or repay their loans, said Gregory H. Leisch, chief executive of Delta Associates, which tracks the industry.

Specifically, this company owns Tyson's Galleria, which has a money food court. It's like a classy version of a food court, though, which makes it really delicious. Luckily, the article goes on to say that the mall operator thinks business will continue to go on as usual despite the bankruptcy. BTW, I've formed some strong (mostly liberal, anti-investment banking) opinions about this recession, but they are so volatile I think they deserve their own post.

The NBA Playoffs: With news that Kevin Garnett might be sidelined the entire playoffs, pretty much every media member wrote off the possibilities of an NBA final involving anyone but the Cavs and Lakers. I tend to agree, but it doesn't mean things can't be a little interesting before we get to that point. Even though the NBA playoffs never have a massive amount of upsets, I think the league owes it to us after the non-scintillating NCAA Tournament. Seriously, though, it's gonna be Cavs/Lakers, LeBron/Kobe, and the rest doesn't matter all that much — even though the team that faces the Lake Show in the West finals could be any one of the two through seven seeds.

The NHL Playoffs: So I'm actually getting to cover these playoffs since I do Caps stuff for the Washington Post Express. I was at Game 1 Rangers-Caps and got to witness Jose Theodore do his best Billy Sauer impression (or was it Billy Sauer doing his Jose Theodore impression when I covered Michigan hockey? I'm just not sure.). I still think the Caps win this series in six if Jose keeps it to one stupid, "he shouldn't have let that in" goal, rather than the three he allowed in Game 1.

As always, though, the NHL playoffs are a crapshoot — proven last night when Western Conference power San Jose fell in Game 1 to Anaheim. I really don't know what's gonna happen in the coming weeks, but I'm excited to cover it all.

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