This and that
Dick VitaleSPECIAL TO ESPN.COM
Each week I'll talk about the world of sports …
Congratulations to the New York Giants, Super Bowl champions. Wow, after starting the season 0-2 and trailing badly at halftime against Washington, few would believe that the Giants would win it all. Tom Coughlin's team entered the playoffs as the fifth seed in the NFC, but the club showed great confidence in winning at Tampa Bay, at Dallas and at Green Bay prior to the Super Bowl. Plaxico Burress predicted a Giants win and backed it up with the game-winning touchdown catch. For all of those who criticized Coughlin and Eli Manning, look who got the last laugh. As for the Patriots, it was a great season but they did not finish the job. New England and Bill Belichick will have to settle for 18-1 and the reality that they fell short of their goal.
The New York Mets made a great deal to get Johan Santana. Yes my friends, it was expensive as Santana agreed to a six-year deal reportedly worth over $137 million. That's the most cash ever paid to a pitcher, but if you look at his resume, he is worth it to New York. The Mets really needed a number one starter and Santana will be important as a stopper to eliminate long losing streaks. New York lost Tom Glavine to Atlanta, and Santana should be perfect to a rotation that will eventually be in a new ballpark, Citi Field, in 2009.
The Lakers made a great move to bolster their frontcourt. Veteran Pau Gasol is a top-flight scorer who joins a winner. The Lakers did not give up much from the current team, and it gave Kobe Bryant the help he desired. Look at what Phil Jackson has now – a happy Bryant, Lamar Odom, Gasol and eventually Andrew Bynum returning from an injury. You have to look at the Lakers more seriously as a contender in the tough Western Conference.
It was great to see Art Monk finally make it into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Just like Goose Gossage in baseball, the honor was long overdue. Monk joins former Redskins teammate Darrell Green, Fred Dean, Gary Zimmerman, Emmitt Thomas and Andre Tippett in the class going to Canton.
Congratulations to Eddie Sutton on career win number 800. His San Francisco squad rallied to beat Pepperdine on Saturday night. Also earning a milestone was Houston coach Tom Penders, who secured his 600th career W!
John Calipari must be breathing a sigh of relief. Look at some of the numbers put up by his Memphis Tigers on Saturday against UTEP: one-of-17 from three-point range; 20 missed free throws (converted 21-of-41). Memphis still escaped with a W and that's the bottom line. This team played good defense down the stretch after the game was tied at 60. The Tigers pulled away on a 10-4 run. It is that type of tough defense that makes a difference in crunch time.
Wow, Tiger Woods had an amazing final round 65 to win the Dubai Desert Classic. Woods led early in the tournament before giving up the lead to Ernie Els after three rounds. It was simply Tiger being Tiger as he roared to yet another championship. Fans should appreciate his magic on the golf course. I know first hand it is not an easy game to play.
It has been a great season for freshmen. Kevin Love continues to put up impressive numbers after scoring 26 points while grabbing 11 boards in a rout of Arizona in prime time. Michael Beasley put on a show in the second half of an upset of Kansas earlier in the week. There are legitimate comparisons to the season Beasley is enjoying and that of Kevin Durant a season ago. Remember, Durant cleaned up at awards banquets across America, and the Kansas State diaper dandy could lay claim on Player of the Year honors this season.
Have you noticed that Kentucky has turned things around and is over .500 for the first time since December? Billy Gillispie's 'Cats have won three straight, including a tough road win at Georgia over the weekend. The SEC resume includes wins over Tennessee and Vanderbilt, plus a tough overtime loss at Florida. Joe Crawford had a big game at Georgia, putting up 26 points in the victory. Patrick Patterson has been a factor and the diaper dandy will get better and better with time. The losses to Gardner-Webb and San Diego are past history my friends, and Kentucky will make some more noise in the SEC.
Dick Vitale coached the Pistons and the University of Detroit before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in December 1979. Send him a question for possible use on ESPNEWS.