While it would be unfair to call the entire Charlotte weekend a sports loss, you'd have to include the NFL draft that brought *three* quarterbacks to the Panthers and an overcast but well-attended and enjoyable Saturday 30 miles away (in Mineral Springs) for the 15th Annual Queens Cup Steeplechases, where money or fame definitely isn't the primary focus, to say things worked well for the local forces.
That would be because the Bobcats, *sort of* ready to rumble with the Orlando Magic and their Superman center Dwight Howard, didn't take advantage of Howard fouling out with 3:32 to go, fired up several treys that didnt connect, and lost 90-86. That put them in a 0-3 hole for their first playoff series, and nothing about the almost total zippo they got from the center position should lead anyone to believe they are going to take four straight from the Magic.
On the ice, the Charlotte Checkers lost 2-1 in Cincinnati to the Cyclones, leaving them down 2-3, with the final two games on home ice here on Tuesday and Thursday. The Checkers couldn't capitalize on a 5-3 man advantage after Checkers defenseman Julien Brouiletter was cross-checked by Cincy's Ryan DelMonte. Checkers coalie Ryan Munce was tough early, making several point-blank saves, but if your guys don't put it in the other net, un-good things like losses usually result.
The third leg of the lost weekend was the Charlotte Knights (AAA International League team just down the road) getting knocked off by the Norfolk Tides 4-2. Nothing unusual about the Knights scoring a few late to make it close.
As for the races and the Panthers, I thoroughly enjoyed the horses, even if I missed the final 7-furlong event because I wanted to beat the oncoming rain. Yes, I *guess* that puts me in the category of 'fair weather sports fan' familiar to Charlotte, even if I have consistently busted on those who leave so many tell tale blue seats empty by the end of the third quarter at Panthers games. The Queens Cup Steeplechases are more fundraising activity and Event than live-or-die sports though. Posting a picture of myself in madras shorts, pink shirt and hat is as close to the events heart as anything.
As for the Panthers getting Notre Dame QB Jimmy Clausen, a top 15-rated player at the 48th position, Armanti Edwards of Appalachian State, who led them to the 1-AA championship two years ago (App. States 3rd consecutive crown) in the third round, and Cincinnati QB Tony Pike, who lead the Bearcats to a 12-1 record last fall as the final of four 6th round picks, that makes the position a whoooole different kettle o' fish after the recent release of long time leader Jake Delhomme. While it certainly looked like Matt Moore, 4-1 in limited duty as a starter would have a clear path to show what he could do, we sure look to have a battle royale forming up for the job. Edwards is slated to be turned into a receiver, and we could certainly use another one *anything* like Mr. Smith. Edwards certainly showed incredible elusiveness during App States title run, so much luck to him.
Clausen was regarded at the most pro-ready QB in the draft, and given the slight experience that Moore has as an NFL veteran, this should be a very interesting training camp. The Panthers also did a good job on paper drafting others to fill needs on defense, especially with the departure of Mr. Peppers.