By Aaron Jackson
To celebrate Halloween, let’s take a look at five different stories and athletes in the sports world and try to figure out, are they tricks, or are they treats? I will make the case for both, then let you decide.
Treat: This guy is a stud! Won back to back titles in college at Florida. Came into the NBA and made the NBA All-Rookie first team. He has since made 4 all-star teams, and brought the Atlanta Hawks to the playoffs in 8 straight years. That includes a trip to the conference finals just two seasons ago.
Trick: This guy is as lukewarm as it gets! He has never averaged more than 20 points per game in a season in his career. He has only once averaged more than 10 rebounds per game once, and that was only 10.2 boards a game. And get this, those numbers get even worse in the playoffs and add in that the Celtics are paying him $26.5 million this year! Fans disappointed in his first 3 games this season (12 points, 5 rebounds per) are going to be in for a long 5 years.
Treat: Let’s start with this crazy fact: Prescott broke Tom Brady’s record for consecutive passes to start a career without an interception with 176. Not good enough for you? As a rookie he’s helped lead the Dallas Cowboys to a 6-1 record, second only to the 7-1 New England Patriots. He has a QB rating of 99.6, and has thrown 9 touchdowns to only 2 interceptions. Sure, he’s middle of the pack when it comes to completing the long ball, but you know who else has struggled with that at times? Thomas Edward Patrick Brady. See ya later Tony Romo.
Trick: Colin Kaepernick anyone? Remember him? Not as the guy kneeling during the national anthem, but the guy that was the quarterback of the future in the NFL. He took over the job as quarterback of the 49ers in 2012, and led San Francisco to the Super Bowl, which they lost to Baltimore. Next year he led them to the NFC Championship. Then he signed a $126 million deal, and became one of the most overpaid players in the NFL. Next season his team went 8-8, and then last year he lost his starting job to Blaine Gabbert. There are plenty of similarities to draw between the two, and that’s why the Dallas front office wants Romo back under center.
Treat: This is a star studded group. Malcolm Butler. Jamie Collins (not anymore…). Dont’a Hightower. Devin McCourty. The list goes on. Enough said. No, you want more? How about the fact they’re third in the league in points allowed at 16.5 per game. This is a Super Bowl caliber defense that just keeps getting better.
Trick: Don’t kid yourself. Those guys are only stars to Patriots’ fans. Let’s look at the facts here. Half the starting lineup is a bunch of players that are cast offs from other teams. Bad teams. Like the Cleveland Browns and St. Louis Rams. You want numbers? They’re 21st in the league in yards allowed. They’re still allowing teams to pick up first downs on third down 40 percent of the time. This is a bend but don’t break defense that is bound to break when they play a better than average offense.
Treat: 5 in a row! What else do you need to know! 4-1 in conference. Some of the best offensive and defensive talent in the CAA. They almost beat UConn. Coach Harasymiak is making it work as a first year coach. This is a team that is hitting its stride and will be marching into the playoffs.
Trick: Playoffs? We’re talking about playoffs? Sure, they’ve won five in a row, but against who? No one that’s any good I can tell you that. And yes, 4-1 in conference is nice but half the league is either 4-1 or 5-0. It took them 5 interceptions and over 200 yards rushing to beat Rhode Island by a touchdown. They had to make a huge comeback to beat Bryant by 4, and Dan Collins is still barely completing 50% of his passes and seems to be turnover prone. These next three games will show the Black Bears true colors.
Treat: He brought a group of misfits to the World Series and won. This year he led the Red Sox to the AL East title. Is he perfect? Heck no. But who would you replace him with that’s available? That’s what I thought. This guy has proven he can win in Boston, something most managers haven’t been able to do. Just look at what he did for Rick Porcello. Boston would be dumb to get rid of him.
Trick: Sometimes even a blind squirrel finds a nut. He caught lightning in a bottle in 2013, and has been mediocre to bad ever since. He has a career record of 493-479 as a manager, and that’s with teams like the Toronto Blue Jays and Boston Red Sox that invest heavily in their product. And talk about a terrible in game manager. Just ask Steven Wright. He’s probably still rehabbing his shoulder injury from pinch running. And pitching guru? Red Sox get a pitcher and they immediately get worse.
Aaron Jackson (@AaronRJackson) is a co-host on The Drive, weekdays 4pm to 6pm on 92.9fm The Ticket and streaming live at DriveShowMaine.com. Follow us on Twitter @DriveShowMaine and “Like Us” on Facebook, Drive Show Maine.