It’s back! The Saturday Six-Pack:
1. Pelicans going from bad to worse.
At least Anthony Davis’ sprained shoulder doesn’t appear serious enough to keep him out of action for long.
That’s good because the Pelicans are rapidly approaching the point where they don’t appear capable of beating anybody, without their All-Star power forward. Saturday’s game against the Clippers could get particularly ugly if the rest of the team doesn’t compete against them than it did Monday in New Orleans.
And as the losses mount in this buzzard’s luck season, the possibility of the team falling into the bottom five and getting that protected pick back from the 76ers is looking more like a reality. Going into Friday’s game at Phoenix, the Pelicans were only three games ahead of Boston and Sacramento for the fifth-worst record in the league, which would trigger the protection clause.
If the slide continues, Duke’s Rodney Hood would give the teams a much-needed scoring upgrade at small forward. Of if the ping-pong balls fall right, his teammate, Jabari Parker, could be available to give the franchise a Davis-like boost.
2. Risen Star snafu
Intense Holiday’s victory in last Saturday’s Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds certainly made his owners, the Starlight Racing partnership, happy about having not just a Kentucky Derby contender but one that’s Derby-eligible after Shanghai Bobby’s flameout a year ago.
But reportedly, some of the group’s well-heeled members were miffed at discovering there was no big-screen TV available when they gathered in the rail area to watch the race.
Such amenities are not just for the 1 percent.
Most of the nation’s tracks have video board and Churchill Downs, the Fair Grounds’ parent company, recently announced it adding a $12 million one that at 171-feet wide will be the largest in the world.
Because he benefitted from the Fair Grounds’ long home stretch, Intense Holiday will be back for the Louisiana Derby on March 29.
For the Starlight folks — and everyone else — the Fait Grounds, which could use some positive public relations these days — would be well-advised to at least check with Rent-A-Center to see what might be available.
3. Winston looks, sounds good
Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston was in New Orleans Monday to pick up the Manning Award, and the Heisman Trophy winner from the national champion Seminoles made quite the impression both physically (He’s listed at 6-foot-4, 230 pounds, but seemed larger) and personally, talking enthusiastically about his desire to combine both a baseball and football career and of his desire to lead FSU to one or maybe even two more national titles since he’s said he intends to stick around through 2015, which would be his redshirt junior season.
The sexual assault accusation that was not prosecuted apparently behind him, Winston exudes star power.
We’ll probably see him again in these parts in July at the Manning Passing Academy. And unlike Johnny Manziel, his Heisman/Manning predecessor, Winston probably has the good sense not to skip out for an overnight trip to Bourbon Street.
4. NFL looking to expand playoffs
With an 18-game regular season apparently a non-starter, the league, forever on the quest to increase revenue, is supposedly ready to add two teams to the playoffs starting in 2015.
From a competitive standpoint, it makes sense. The current format keeps producing division champions with worse records than wild-card teams that get left out. Giving the first week bye to only the team with the best record in the conference reduces the number of teams with berths clinched from holding back the final week of the season while an 18-game schedule would have had the reverse effect.
Then there’s the money two more playoff games will draw from networks anxious to add sure-fire ratings grabbers. Witness CBS purchasing half of the Thursday night package.
So yep, it’s going to happen.
5. Tulane’s lighting bugs strike again
The NIMBYs around the Tulane campus must be happy.
Once again, the Green Wave’s 2014 prime time baseball debut has been delayed, this time because Sacred Heart, which was to have played the Wave on Friday evening, had some scheduling problems getting away from the Pioneers’ Fairfield, Conn., campus.
So the series now will be played on Saturday, Sunday and Monday afternoons at Turchin Stadium. Lighting problems had altered the schedule for earlier games against Prairie View and UNO.
With the team headed to California next week, Tulane’s first home night game of the season will be on March 11 against Louisiana-Lafayette.
Unless something else happens.
6. And finally…
Sunday being Oscar night, here’s our All-Time Academy Awards of Sports Movies:
Best Supporting Actress — Amy Adams, The Fighter. Her backing down Mickey Ward’s mom and sisters was worth the price of admission.
Best Supporting Actor — Jackie Gleason, Requiem for a Heavyweight. Or the Hustler. Take your pick. He’s truly “The Great One in” both.
Best Actress — Parminder Nagra, Bend It Like Beckham — In admittedly small pool of candidates, Nagra’s performance as soccer-loving Jess is an inspiration to all girls – and boys.
Best Actor — Robert DeNiro. Our greatest living actor gives his best performance as Jake LaMotta.
Best Picture — Rocky. Countless sequels and now a Broadway musical later, this remains the quintessential underdog movie. Runner-up — Hoosiers.