Thursday, June 30, 2005
Along with the release of Steve Karsay in mid-May, the total cost of Yankee arms in the 'pen that aren't on our team is a staggering $12,425,000. True, it's not even the price of one Vlad or Sheff but it's still about half of the D-Rays payroll. You'd think that for that kind of money, you'd get three solid arms that could be trusted to not walk leadoff hitters, not allow walk-off homers and not come into a close game and leave it a blowout for the wrong side.
It just goes to show you how expensive it is to run a ballclub these days. Money is more expensive than ever.
1. Michael Redd: I hope he stays in Milwaukee. The Bucks need a guy to play opposite Bogut and if Bogut is the passer everyone says he is then it should be fun watching him pass to Redd as he cuts the lane.
2. Ray Allen: He's a great shooter and I'd like to see him end up somewhere other than Seattle where no one watches the games. I don't have an exact destination for him but hopefully somewhere that increases his profile as the guy with the prettiest jump shot in the game. The way he keeps his elbow tucked and shoots at the peak of his jump, the way the ball rolls out of his fingers with that perfect backspin -- he's just an instructional video!
3. Samuel Dalembert: I'd love to see him on the Knicks. Now obviously I'm biased here but the Sixers are just entering the point where the Knicks were 2 years ago when they made a foolish trade for an old and overpaid player who will bring the team down with him. CWebb will be the death of the team, the coaches and the organization. So, in the interest of saving Dalembert from staying in Philly for 4 or 5 long and awful years, I invite him to come to New York. He's a great shotblocker, a decent rebounder and an alum of Seton Hall which is closer to NYC than it is to Philly. He'd give the Knicks a legitimate big man and greater flexibility with their roster of smaller players.
4. Kwame Brown: The Wiz made him an offer which means anyone that wants to take Kwame for cheap will have to get into a bidding war with the Wiz. My guess is the Wiz don't really want him but want someone to have to overpay for Kwame the way they did. For that reason, I don't think he's going anywhere. Kwame's stuck on a team that doesn't want him and will have his career further ruined. A lose-lose for all involved.
5. Joe Johnson: JJ should absolutely stay on the Suns. They just traded Quentin Richardson to the Knicks to make room for him and he should repay the team with loyalty. That and he can get more money by staying in Phoenix than he could anywhere else. That team was made for him; he's a natural gunner on a team full of score first, defend later types. They may win another 50+ games this year with JJ starting and Kurt Thomas banging bodies and glass, saving Amare from the dirty work.
6. Eddy Curry: If the Knicks get Dalembert then Curry's out of luck. Curry really wants to get paid and the Knicks would be willing to pay for the 22 year old 7-footer. Of course, paying a career bum who's completely unmotivated to work hard, stay in shape or grab rebounds would be an act of lunacy. Given Isiah's inconsistency (some days he's a genius, others he's a crack addict), the Knicks could very well end up with Curry. Chicago should keep him only because they need a return on their investment.
7. Pau Gasol: Here's an interesting dilemma. The Grizz don't love Pau and he seems to have regressed a bit since his breakout 2002-2003 season. However, the Grizz aren't a team chock full of talent. They rely on hard work and hustle and, frankly, I have no idea how they've been making the playoffs in the Western Conference. Losing Pau might be bad for the team. I'd like to see him move on, though. I want to see him go to a team like the Hornets where, with Chris Paul, they could form a nice 1-2 punch of athletic, up-tempo basketball. Byron Scott uses the Princeton offense and I think Paul and Gasol (that rhymes!) would be perfect teammates in that system. Can you imagine a Jason Kidd type throwing lobs to a 7'1" small forward on back-cuts? They could really restore that piece of crap franchise.
Wednesday, June 29, 2005
The Washington Nationals are going to be sold off to a bidder. Thats typically how things work in sports (and business and well anything in a capitalist society): Individuals own things. Here's the catch: one of the members of a group aiming to purchase the Nats is George Soros. Soros was a huge donor to progressive groups and the Democratic Party in 2004. Obviously, for some Republican Congressmen, this must be an issue for someone with an ideology different from the ruling party to own things . As Sally Jenkins reported in the Washington Post today (an article I would encourage everyone to read) several Republican Congressmen threatened tougher steriod sanctions if Soros became part owner in the Nats and John Sweeney (NY) stated that baseball's anti-trust exemption might be lifted if the Soros group purchased the team. As Jenkins remarked:
I must have been napping, and that's why I missed the part where we became a country in which Democrats are no longer allowed to buy things.
I will firmly state that what Soros' political affiliation or political ideology is completely besides the point. The point is that someone could be denied ownership based on those beliefs or affiliations. Should all owners of professional sports be vetted to make sure they have the correct beliefs? Should any CEO or stockholder of a company that Congress regulates (and I assure you theres quite a few) pass an ideology litmus test to the in-power government or be forced out? Ultimately this question is one of personal freedom versus government coercion and I would hope Major League Baseball does not buckle under the threats but instead replies to Sweeney as I would "Up Yours".
Minnesota Timberwolves – Rashad McCants was a fantastic pick. It’s unbelievable that he was available at 14, and the T-wolves will be back in the playoffs next season. McCants will be replacing Spreewell at SG. The next step is to find PG Sam Cassell’s replacement. They also nabbed Bracey Wright from Indiana in the 2nd round, who at least will help their 3-point shooting now that Fred Hoiberg may not be playing due to having heart surgery. The Timberwolves always battle bad luck, but at least they drafted well, and with KG, Wally, McCants, and a healthy Troy Hudson, they will return to the playoffs.
Charlotte Bobcats – They can definitely pack the stadium now that they have Felton and Sean May to add to Emeka Okafor. Felton is still pretty raw, but Charlotte is really winning back the fans by drafting college players who can immediately play and avoiding any attitude problems. If they can add a shooter next year, they will have built a .500 team rather quickly.
New York Knicks – They got their top-rated center in Channing Frye, but he’s as skinny as Shawn Bradley, and he’s only 6’10”. I realize he’s the center most likely to play immediately, but it’s a big gamble. I have to actually give credit for the first time ever to GM Isiah Thomas for getting Quentin Richardson and Nate Robinson (short guy from Washington) for Kurt Thomas. The Knicks actually got a quality player in a trade! It’s unbelievable!
Golden State Warriors – They drafted Ike Diogu from Arizona State, who can rebound and score, and is real talented. The problem is, he doesn’t play defense. GM Chris Mullin has a quick team that can score a lot of points, but won’t play any defense. He’s trying to create a 21-st century version of Run TMC! (That was what they called Tim Hardway, Mitch Richmond, and Chris Mullin). This version has Baron Davis, Jason Richardson, and Ike Diogu.
LA Lakers – If Phil Jackson wasn’t the coach, and they weren’t planning on competing immediately, then their pick of a 7-foot tall 17-year old is fine. The problem is, they were supposed to get players ready to play immediately, especially at point guard. I thought Jarrett Jack would have been a great pick for them, but instead they chose a 2nd round PG from Florida St. I guess we’ll have to see some Phil Jackson magic and some off-season acquisitions if the Lakers are going to get a playoff spot next year.
Toronto Raptors – I guess they are planning on using Chris Bosh at Center. They added Charlie “I look like an Ogre” Villaneuva and Joey Graham, a physical small forward from Oklahoma State. I’m not really sold on Chris Bosh at Center, so if Bosh plays another position, suddenly Villaneuva is a 6th-man and then the draft really doesn’t make any sense. The Raptors failed to address their SG or PG concerns, other than a European who doesn’t sound like he’s ready yet.
Utah Jazz – Gave up 3 first round picks just to get PG Deron Williams. A) I don’t like Deron Williams that much as an NBA point guard. He’s slow like Khalid-El Amin (that Uconn point guard who lasted all of 2 seasons). B) If Utah doesn’t pull the trade, Portland stays put, and still drafts a high schooler at #3 since Portland already had a number of point guards. Which means that one of Deron Williams, Chris Paul, or Raymond Felton still would have been available at #6. I think Utah just got absolutely fleeced by Portland. In Utah’s defense, Portland may have threatened to draft a PG and hold him ransom, but it would have been only a bluff, and Utah could have played that game, and probably given up less AFTER the draft in a point guard/high schooler swap.
If someone told me that there is a dumber man than Brian Cashman, I wouldn't beleive them. Gary Sheffield is a core part of the Yankee lineup. He's a great hitter and an adequate fielder. He's a good clubhouse guy, not afraid to get in someone's grill if they need a talking to and a good motivator for the other, more passive Yankees. I won't rattle off stats because I think everyone knows how good Sheff is.
Mike Cameron is a good defensive player, no question about it. But it's just not even close to equal value for the Yanks. The misconception about the 2005 Yanks is that it's just their pitching and defense that has been stalling and that their offense is peachy-keen. That's simply not true. Sheff is a huge part of the Yanks' lineup and Cameron could never replace him. The Yanks would be very sorry with Cameron's streaky, K or homer type of at-bats.
Of course, all of this could've been avoided if the Yanks had signed Cameron last year instead of Kenny Lofton. At the time, I remember emailing some friends about this. I remember saying that since it was a foregone conclusion that the Mets would go hard after Beltran for 2005, it would be foolish to sign Cameron and have 2 CF's on the roster. Likewise, I remember saying that it was foolish for the Yanks to sign Lofton, an old player with the same skill set as Bernie. Had the Mets signed Lofton to a 1-year deal for $8M (slightly over what the Yanks paid him last year for a 2-year deal), they would've been able to jettison him in favor of Beltran. Similarly, had the Yanks signed Cameron to the same 3-year deal that he received with the Mets, the Yanks would have their everyday CF with the glove they crave and the speed they've lacked. He would've been installed as the #8 or #9 hitter and wouldn't have precluded the Yanks from adding Sheff to RF. Bernie could've been phased out a year earlier as a part-time DH. Think about it -- Giambi was out all of last year anyway. With Sierra and Bernie as our DH platoon and Cammy in CF, that would've been a better team than with Bernie and Lofton platooning in the field. Cashman's a damn idiot.
Another quick point. The Yanks are also talking about getting Mark Kotsay for CF. For pete's sake, what for? Kotsay is a complete non-batsman and will cost us an arm and a leg (either minor leaguers or Chien-Ming Wang). Kotsay just isn't worth that kind of price.
The Yanks should live with their mistakes for 2005 and go into 2006 with an agenda of needs. Bernie's contract expires so clearly a capable defensive player with some speed will be a priority. Kevin Brown's contract expires so a 4th starter will be on the list. Bullpen help would be nice too. With any luck Cashman will be long gone and Steinbrenner will return full trust, power and authority to Gene Michael. The last time I checked, it was Michael who built a World Series champion, not Cashman.
I don't advocate the Yankees throwing in the towel on the season but if they decide that they'd rather be sellers instead of buyers, I'd advise them not to sell usable parts just to say they're making moves. I'd much rather not make the playoffs than further damage the long-term viability of the team.
For starters, I think people were too quick to judge Isiah as a failure. I was one of the critics who didn't like the trades he made last season for Malik Rose, Jerome Williams and Jamal Crawford. I thought he gave up on some good players like Frank Williams and Nazr Mohammed and he was repeating past Knicks mistakes of adding salary when he should've been dumping it.
I guess the problem with the Knicks is that they've never had a plan or, rather, they've had plans but changed them so many times that the team was left with one big pile of mismatched parts. Now it seems like Zeke has admitted to himself that the Knicks simply need to be rebuilt from the ground up. He'd like to make them a Western Conference-style team with athletic big men and up-and-down guards that can run the floor and shoot from the outside. As a former Bad Boy, he believes that adequate defense can be taught as long as players believe in the system they're in. I agree with his philosophy.
The Knicks drafted Channing Frye and David Lee and traded Kurt Thomas for Quentin Richardson and Nate Robinson. Provided that Zeke follows through with this plan of action and signs a center with the mid-level exception (Kwame Brown) and cuts Allan Houston, the Knicks will be drastically remade. Their active roster will be:
PG: S. Marbury, N. Robinson
SG: Q. Richardson, J. Crawford, A. Hardaway
SF: T. Thomas, T. Ariza, M. Taylor
PF: M. Sweetney, M. Rose
C: C. Frye, TBD
IR: J. Williams, D. Lee, J. Butler
That's a pretty athletic roster with 4 legitimate scorers (Steph, Q, Crawford, Timmy T). The Knicks were supposed to contend for the Atlantic Division crown last year but failed badly, in part because they were counting on Allan Houston coming back. I think Q will fill in nicely for Houston. Nate Robinson is, in my opinion, the steal of the draft. He's a high-energy player who loves to press the ball and play D and can hit a jumper. He'll be a great backup for Steph. The thing I'm most excited about is that the Knicks haven't been this young since 1988 when they had Pat Ewing, Gerald Wilkins, Mark Jackson, Kenny Walker and Rod Strickland. Now they've got Ariza, Sweetney, Frye, Robinson, Lee and Butler who are 3rd year pros or younger and Q, Steph, Crawford and Thomas who are all under 30. The Knicks are one of the youngest teams in the game. Thank god. There's hope, finally.
Monday, June 27, 2005
Hockey players are stupid. They play a stupid game that only about 37 people actually care about. This stupid sport, with stupid players, stupid owners, stupid labor leaders and only a handful of fans has a major image problem. They haven't played a single stupid game in this stupid sport since last June. All of the stupid people decided to play stupid harball and go on a stupid strike that has ruined the stupid sport. Actually, that it may be ruined might be the least stupid thing to come out of this situation. Anyway, I digress...
Jeremy Roenick, one of these stupid guys, just spent the weekend at Mario Lemieux's charity golf tournament. I don't the exact question that set him off but he ripped into fans that might characterize hockey players as spoiled and told them not to come back to hockey. "...don't come. We don't want you in the rink, we don't want you in the stadium, we don't want you to watch hockey."
Jeremy Roenick Tirade
Good one. Since you only had about 37 fans left, you might end up playing in front of exactly ZERO spectators now. That's a good way to announce the return of your sport -- pissing in the eye of the people that pay your salary. To borrow a phrase from Steven A. Smith, make no mistake about it, the NHL doesn't have a lucrative TV deal like the NBA and NFL so it derives nearly every penny it generates from gate revenues.
Jeremy Roenick, you're a complete idiot. I think you're spoiled. So go ahead, punish me by keeping me out of the rink. Just don't bitch and moan when I make more money than you next year.
NEW DELHI, June 5 - The Indian board has decided to appeal against the six-match ban handed to Sourav Ganguly for slow over-rates during India's one-day series against Pakistan. Talking to reporters at the end of the board's two-day working committee meeting in Thiruvananthapuram, Ranbir Singh Mahendra, the BCCI president, also announced that India would bid for the 2011 World Cup, and that a fresh bidding process would be initiated for the right to telecast matches in India.
Sunday, June 26, 2005
I have refrained from criticizing the Cavs new owner so far. I agreed with the firing of Silas (the players had abandoned him for his heavy handed and immature outbursts and its not like he was a wizard with designing plays). I agreed with firing the former GM, Jim Paxson. Frankly monkey's throwing darts would have a better shot at coming with a slightly better talent than the drafting of Desagna Diop, Trajan Langdon or Chris Mihm. But lately I can say to him with full earnest : GET A GM! From my little understanding you need a front office for the acquisition of new players. The Cavs need new players since they didn't win the championship this year. Hence one would think that the Cavs would want A front office, ANY front office. Apparently Dan , in his infinite wisdom, decided to wait on Larry Brown for a decision. Here's a clue, Larry Brown is as reliable as a 1975 Pinto. If it doesn't start right away, you leave it and move on. I don't know if Danny Ferry would make a good GM but I do know that Danny Ferry is better than than not having any front office for all of the NBA draft and/or free agent signing period. This is the Cavs big chance to show Lebron that yes the Cavs have a tad more professionalism than that guy running 3 card monty near Broadway. Hey if everything comes together it would be great but right now I have as much confidence in Gilbert, and therefore the Cavs, as I would have in Ron Artest babysitting.
ESPN and Barry Bonds
While I agreed with most of Mo's rant on ESPN's infatuation with Boston and New York, he did miss an important part of ESPN's lineup: Barry Bonds. Sure half of Baseball tonight or Sportscenter is directed to the Red Sox's brilliance or Tom Brady's grooming habits or when will Steinbrenner eat Brian Cashman's soul but there's always the Barry Bond's Balls cam segment. ESPN constantly has footage on the state of Barry's balls. What's Barry status of his knee? How long will Barry play? What's Barry's feeling on real estate investment? Does Barry like Cheetos or Dorritos? Doesn't matter how tiny the piece of news is or how often whatever they say on one day is contradicted the next but ESPN follows around Barry's balls. Look I know Barry is news. But frankly I don't need an hourly update. IF he gets back to actually playing baseball you can tell me . Until then please, please stop showing me how much ESPN loves Barry.....in other words shit or get off the pot.
Friday, June 24, 2005
Shut up, please. You annoy me. All you do is lick the unshowered sphincters of New England teams, bash New York and ignore the rest of the world. I know you're up in Bristol and that is technically in New England but really, aren't you supposed to be a national media company? I didn't realize that ESPN was really just a simulcast of the New England Sports Network. So, before I go home for the weekend, just do me this one favor? Shut up and never open your biased mouth again. I'm the only one allowed to have biases around here and that's because I'm not in the media business.
"How much would George Steinbrenner pay for a mulligan on the Alfonso Soriano trade? Soriano is one home run away from joining Jeff Kent, Ryne Sandberg and Bret Boone as the fourth second baseman to hit at least 20 in four straight seasons. "
I don't think George would agree. I don't think too many Yankee fans would agree. I don't think any objective and knowledgeable baseball fan would agree, either. If only ESPN would stop trying to paint every single move the Yanks have made as some sort of short-sighted brain fart. The Yanks have made some HORRENDOUS moves over the last 5 years, no denying that -- Giambi, Womack, Lofton, White, Karsay, Vazquez, Weaver -- jeez, the list could go on for pages. But trading Soriano for ARod just can't be considered one of them.
Not only has ARod paid for himself through increased attendance at the ballpark and increased ratings on the YES Network, ARod has been a great player for the Yanks. He's having an MVP type year in 2005 , something every Yankee Hater out there can't bear to admit. He is fitting in on the ballclub, he's a fan favorite and he generally does his job in a manner befitting arguably the best player in baseball. In the one-plus season that Soriano's been in Texas, the Yanks have played Miguel Cairo, Enrique Wilson and Tony Womack at 2nd base before settling on rookie prospect Robinson Cano. Cano's been a pretty damn fine player for us, certainly better than the collective performance of Robin Ventura, Todd Zeile, Aaron Boone and Drew Henson at 3rd. If Soriano were here, Cano would either be in the minors or would've been traded. I'm happy to have an infield with ARod and Cano as opposed to one of Soriano and a member of the above-listed bummy players who manned the hot corner from 2002-2003.
So, before ESPN would have anyone believe that the Yanks blew it by making the trade, one should stop and think for a second. Maybe ESPN just needs to shut up.
Dan Shanoff, the editor of the Daily Quickie on ESPN.com's Page 2 writes:
"What's a dynasty? Sustained championship excellence. It doesn't have to be in a row. In fact, all the more credit that it's not."
I'm sorry but I can't buy that crap. That's media apologism and ass-kissing for the easy-to-like Spurs. No one made the same fawning approaches to other teams, like the Lakers, for instance.
As far as I'm concerned, the Spurs are a championship team. I'm not qualifying their 1999 title in the lockout-shortened season like others might. I'm not saying anything bad about the Spurs at all. But you just can't call it a dyansty when a) another, more dominant team reeled off a 3-peat in the period between your first and second titles and b) you defended your title as poorly in 2003 as anyone I can remember in recent NBA history. The Spurs and Pistons are the only teams in the NBA going back to 1987 to not defend their title with a back-to-back championship run.
In and of itself, that doesn't mean anything. But I just can't throw the term "dynasty" around because they've won three rings in seven years. I'd like to see them defend their title with a little more gusto than the last two times. As far as I'm concerned, dynasties are created after three or more consecutive titles, or three titles in four years as the Pats have done. That's my benchmark. After all, it wasn't the Ming Dynasty in China for a few years, then a few more years later, then again after a while.
There, I said it, the Spurs aren't a dynasty. Was this column heavy-handed enough for you?
Congrats to the Spurs, the Pistons and Larry's next team.
Thursday, June 23, 2005
1) Where would the Yankees be if they were as injury riddled as the Braves? For a team that has had such a dominating run I don't think their front office gets as much credit as it should. A team that has sat on top of the NL East since the days of Dale Murphy (or maybe Audie Murphy or the invention of Murphy's oil) seems to have an incredible well of talent coming in from the minor leagues. I'm looking for those more knowledgeable but of any of the teams that has been on top for the last 3-5 years, do any of them have a better farm system than Atlanta?
2) Besides Saint Louis, is any playoff team in the NL from last year going to make it back? While I'm not writing off my previously mentioned Atlanta, if that there is a pretty clean overhaul of the playoff teams I hope there's some recognition that baseball has increased its level of parity in the past year or two. Of course a series of freak occurences: 1) the fact that in LA Gagne's arm fell off, 2) Houston, which according to Delay, seems to have the same security problems as Iraq and 3) San Fran has been crippled by the flaxseed oil strike - all may have contributed to this turnover.
3) As a North Carolina fan, I can say with pride, hubris and gumption....5 Tar Heels will be drafted in the NBA draft this year. That has to be a record or something.
4) I'm sticking with my original prediction of Spurs in 7.
Wednesday, June 22, 2005
1. The Darko Debacle
The Pistons realize that Duncan has mental problems with the free throw line. Coach Larry Brown decides to institute his own version of “Hack-A-Shaq” on Tim Duncan. The Pistons cruise out to a huge lead of 15 points, as Duncan shoots 2-18 from the free throw line. Larry Brown is smiling most of the time but fails to call off the fouling of Duncan early enough, as Ben Wallace, Rasheed, Tayshaun, and McDyess all foul out. In the 4th quarter, Brown is forced to bring in Darko after Darvin “Honey” Ham fouls out. The lead completely evaporates and the Spurs are up by 2 and the Pistons have one last possession. Darko gets the ball after Parker deflects a Billups pass, and Darko launches a desperation 3-pointer, it’s on-target, but ends up going 10 feet over the hoop and into the 3rd row of the stands. Spurs win.
2. The Eva Longoria Conspiracy
As we all know, Tony Parker’s girlfriend is at the game as usual (Eva Longoria, his super-hottie girlfriend who just happens to be working on an ABC TV show. Coincidence? I think not. I’ve already heard rumors that Alias’s Jennifer Garner is going out with Steve Nash). Parker, unsure of the Spurs’ chances, tells Eva to “do whatever it takes to ensure a victory.” Eva gets a court-side seat and on the crucial last possession of the game, almost walks on to the court and takes her shirt off revealing a bikini. Billups is completely distracted, allowing Parker to reach in and steal the ball. Spurs win.
3. The Horry Hiring
Robert Horry saves the day again by hitting 6 3s in the 4th quarter. He then immediately accepts the position of Cavaliers’ GM. Cavs owner Dan Gilbert says “Horry’s hiring shows that we are committed to winning.” Gilbert’s focus on assembling a front office capable of winning a pickup basketball game doesn’t translate to on-court success though. Gilbert does concede during the press conference that if Horry had only hit 3 3s, he would have hired Danny Ferry. Spurs win, Cavs lose.
4. The Billups Blunder
Chauncy Billups does his best Jon Starks impression of the 1994 NBA Finals Game 7, and finishes at 1-12 from 3-point land, as the Pistons get edged out. Spurs win.
5. Championship Coach Larry Brown
The Pistons win, and Larry Brown is lauded as the greatest nomadic coach of all time. Granted, I don’t know who else is in his category, but Brown is a great coach either way, despite his nomadic tendencies. Pistons win.
Despite all of the endless possibilities, I’m sticking with my original prediction when it all started, and the Spurs will find a way to win this Game 7.
1. Football Game: Despite the Yanks winning 20-11 last night at The Stadium, I'd bet against them making the playoffs. They picked the wrong year to play an apathetic and sloppy brand of baseball now that the AL Central may provide 2 teams into postseason play instead of their customary 1. So, since it seems like it'll be football season early around here, I was happy to see my G-Men put up 2 TD's and 2 FG's on the formerly vaunted Bucs defense last night. Tiki ran one up the gut for a 35 yard score and Eli threw a pretty 15 yard post corner to Amani on 3rd & 12 late in the game to put it out of reach.
2. Choke Job?/Redemption?: Will the Spurs choke on Thursday night or will they redeem themselves and show up for a 3rd title in 7 seasons? I had Spurs in 6 and now I'm wondering if it won't be Detroit in 7. Despite having Duncan and Ginobili, the two most talented player on the court, the Pistons seem more resilient and more aggressive and even though they lost Games 1, 2 and 5 (usually bad games to lose when you're the road team), they seem a lot less nervous and shaken than the Spurs. Is it just me or does anyone else think that Duncan is wilting when he should be rising to the occasion? I'm not going to rip him and I don't need anyone to show me the stats because I know they're good but I can't help feeling that he's throwing up hollow numbers right now. All those free throws he's bricking and all those crummy 18 foot fade-aways he's taking would make me uncomfortable right now if I was a Spurs fan. Just a thought.
3. NBA Age Limit: I read an interesting perspective on this issue in yesterday's and today's Daily Quickie on ESPN.com's Page2. Dan Shanoff, the editor of Daily Quickie's take on it is that it's bad for the game to restrict talented players from entering the league based on age. He cites Kobe, LeBron, T-Mac, Amare, Jermaine O'Neal, Rashard Lewis and the other man-children currently dominating the NBA. Of course, there's no denying that I've just listed 6 of the best players going right now, but what of the others, guys like DeShawn Stevenson and Kwame Brown who came into the league straight from high school and who haven't found their place yet? Shanoff says that we shouldn't buy into the notion that colleges will better develop these players for the NBA because college coaches run their programs for themselves and not as NBA prep clinics. He says that the only way a talented high school kid can get better is to not get distracted with school but to prepare for the draft and then learn from NBA coaches whose job it is to get the best out of their players. Interesting food for thought. I don't completely buy into that theory but there is some logic to the point.
4. Bernie Ecclestone v. Danica Patrick: Has anyone else seen the sexist remarks made by Bernie Ecclestone, the President and CEO of the Formula One racing circuit? Without getting into the specifics of what he said, he basically believes that women don't belong in his sport or sports in general and that they should stay home in the kitchen. Now I know that F1 racing is wildly popular in Europe and South America but it just isn't a relevant sport here in the United States and, frankly, relevance in the US is all that matters in the world of sports (soccer included -- I'll debate the business aspects of this with anyone that disagrees). To rip Danica Patrick when she just delivered ratings to other racing events is just idiotic. Why bite the hand that feeds you? You can be the most misogynistic person on earth if you want to be but you're doing your sport (and humanity) a disservice. If Danica Patrick is the meal ticket to better ratings and greater relevance, punch that ticket all the way to the bank. Ecclestone, you're a complete idiot. I have no idea how you're in a position of power. You're about as intelligent as the turd I flushed down the toilet this morning.
Tuesday, June 21, 2005
During spring training, the only story out of Milwaukee was the "Who's Less Dreadful" contest between Wes Helms and Russell Branyan over at third base. Tonight, though, we see tremendous hope for the Brew Crew: their infield features Prince Fielder at first, Rickie Weeks at second, and J.J. Hardy at short - top prospects all. It's obviously way too early to anoint them the next coming of Teixiera-Soriano-M. Young-Blalock (especially considering that Bill "Don't Call Me Mel" Hall is playing third tonight), but these guys could be the corps of an exciting future in Dairyland.
Add in All-Stars Ben Sheets and Carlos Lee, the improving Doug Davis and Victor Santos, and uber-prospect Jose Capellan (still in the minors; he was the Brewers' steal for dumping Dan Kolb onto Atlanta), and maybe we'll see this division become more competitive in the next few years.
This might seem really non-PC, but I think that Marge Schott was actually a far better owner than Lindner for the Reds. Although she had a few unkind things to say about all of the world except WASPs, she was a decent owner and actually cared about the fans and the history of the game. The new owner has done nothing for the fans or the city of Cincinnati. I say bring back Pete Rose (after reinstating him), Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan, George Foster, Tony Perez, Dave Concepcion, Ken Griffey (SR!!) or Cesar Geronimo to manage this team with Tom Browning or Jose Rijo as the pitching coach. Someone needs to give Cincinnati back the pride that it showed with the Big Red Machine and the world champions of 1990. Carl Lindner is not the answer to gaining back that pride.
I saw this online today and it blew my mind:
"The Cavs took the first step in their wholesale rebuilding by declining to pick up options on Robert 'Tractor' Traylor and Lucious Harris. They are expected to renounce all their free agents, including center Zydrunas Ilgauskas, in order to get at least $26 million -- and perhaps up to $30 million -- under the salary cap if the new agreement increases it. -- Chicago Tribune"
Why exactly would the Cavs renounce their rights to Big Z? Who is running the ship over there in Cleveland (that's a trick question -- they actually fired everyone in the building so, technically, the janitor is running the team). Why, why, why on earth would they get rid of a big man who can score inside and outside and who, finally, has been able to stay healthy enough to average 80 games over the last 3 seasons. His 3 year averages of 46.2 FG%, 77.7 FT%, 16.4 ppg, 8.04 rpg, 2.15 bpg make him no worse than the Eastern Conference's 3rd best center (after Shaq and Jermaine O'Neal) in a conference devoid of impact big men. He's a 2-time all-star, he led the NBA in offensive rebounds in 2005 and he just turned 30 last week. He's ABSOLUTELY a keeper in my mind. Unless LeBron specifically told management that he doesn't want Z around or unless Z was caught banging Dan Gilbert's wife in the corporate jet, there's no reason to jettison him for the pipe dream of signing Michael Redd of the Bucks.
If history in the NBA has shown us anything, it's that you need at least a token big man presence if you want to go deep into the playoffs. MJ wouldn't have won his rings if he didn't have Ho Grant, Dennis Rodman and the 6 headed monster (Wennington, Perdue, Cartwright, Longley, Williams/Dele and Buddha Edwards). Somehow, I don't see Drew Gooden and Big Z's replacement as championship pedigree.
Sunday, June 19, 2005
Here in Chicago - at least at Wrigley Field - we switched back to the traditional "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" a few years ago. I don't remember when, exactly, probably because I didn't notice. I also don't remember feeling upset by it. Either way, the days of all of us wearing our flag and our American hearts on our sleeves have passed. I imagine that, like me, most of us who were so loudly and fiercely patriotic remain as committed to this nation today as we were in September 2001 - it's just that almost four years have passed, and to some extent we've gotten the heavy jingoism out of our system.
So I was a little surprised when, watching the Cubs-Yankees game this afternoon, I heard "G-d Bless America" in the middle of the seventh. There's nothing wrong with this, of course, and yet I can't help but wonder if maybe it's time for the Yankees to make their returning to 7th Inning Stretch normalcy. Maybe it's different because it's New York, because the attacks hit there harder than anywhere else. That's fair. But I think it's also fair to say that what I labeled as "heavy jingoism" existed in part as our first reaction to the terrible events of 9/11, and that it subsided as we became more familiar with the post-9/11 world and better able to objectively analyze the events of the day. If that's true, then maybe the Yankees (and whichever teams are following suit) are holding us back?
1) US Open at Pinehurst
Retief Gossen is currently 3 strokes ahead sitting at 3 strokes below par. Let me repeat that someone is winning a professional golf tournament with -3. Heck I think Tiger Woods had -3 on the front 9 at the Masters. At this tournament you could have a bogey and pick up strokes. I actually enjoy watching professional golfers look like me on the links: hacking away, constantly being in the rough, running people over accidently with golf carts. Of course its not over yet. Retief is being chased by some fat guy named Jason Gore, Tiger lurking somewhere and of course last year's Cinderella story outta nowhere, Carl Spackler, former greenskeeper, who became the masters champion.
2) Game 5 NBA Finals
Well there the series is tied up at 2 a piece and ready for the final game in Detroit. I'm going to have to go on record as stating this is a must win for both sides and here's the logic (heck I don't even need stats I have logic): If Detroit loses they need to win 2 in a row IN San Antonio and thats about as likely as Larry Brown staying in Detroit for the next 2 decades. If Detroit wins that means San Antonio will have to win a game 7. Detroit over the past 2 years is undefeated (I believe 7-0) when they have the opportunity to close out a playoff series. San Antonio has yet to show, since big David Robinson retired, that they have the mental toughness to overcome big deficits. Everyone is already bringing up last years implosion against the Lakers. Stay tuned folks maybe this game will be close.
Sorry to steal Mo's thunder but I need to take a little pop shot at Peter Gammons. Good old Pete wrote that 5 weeks ago (that would be mid May) the Indians were struggling. True. 1 point for Peter. Right now they're doing pretty well (albeit in arguably the toughest division in the AL at the moment). Right again Pete. Think hey can break his own personal record of 2 straight correct observations? If you answers no, you'd be right. Good old Pete then goes on to applaud Mark Shapiro for "not doing something" . Somebody can correct me but who sells off their team in May? Who goes crazy and trades for veteran talent in May? Maybe I'm missing something but I don't think anybody makes radical moves in May. Peter does raise a good point though of acting too quickly. Sometimes its necessary. Jason Giambi probably should've been thrown under the proverbial (possibly literal given that its New York) bus. But I tend to think inaction is the norm in the month and while I look Shapiro I don't think he should get accolades for being part of the norm.
4) My Column
I do love my Sunday column. Of course a lot of my ideas come from my various travels around the world. So I'm walking around and this guy bumps into me. Turns out it was the Dalai Lama, himself. Twelfth son of the Lama. The flowing robes, the grace, bald... striking. Do you know what the Lama says? Gunga galunga... gunga, gunga-galunga. Which roughly translates: Where can I get coffee thats not Starbucks. So I direct him to a local coffeeshop. And I say, "Hey, Lama, hey, how about a little something, you know, for the effort, you know." And he says, "Oh, uh, there won't be any money, but when you die, on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness." So I got that goin' for me, which is nice.
Friday, June 17, 2005
My big beef this week is with the NFL and the drug police that they employ. Now I am not really a big fan of Ricky Williams and think that he fucked up in getting out of football, but giving the poor man 10 drug tests a month seems a bit ridiculous. First off, as any good ex-pothead knows, Marijuana stays in your body for around 2-4 weeks and even with the best cleansing agents it is hard to get rid of it after a week. Maybe Paul Tagliabue and the drug czars of the NFL should actually read up on the reliability of drug tests and when they are effective. I think that Ricky should be tested once a month. Are we going to ask him to instead of doing a TD dance piss in a cup when he scores a TD? Just seems like the NFL is trying to make an example of him and is counting him out even before he gets on the field.
I hope that Ricky stops off in Denver on the way to Miami. I would be happy to take him to the Widespread Panic show at Red Rocks where I am sure the herbal remedies and holistic medicine will be flowing down the mountain.
Another question that I pose is do you think that Bill Walton could have passed a drug test during the highlights of his career? Even if Big Red didn't smoke pot (which I highly doubt), the sheer volume of contact high from all of the Dead shows that he travelled to see would make him test positive even today. And why is it that we stress drug testing (non-steroid) now in sports when it wasn't really a factor in the 70s, 80s and early 90s.
1) "Gays being gay is wrong. Two women can't produce a baby, two men can't produce a baby, so it's not how it's supposed to be. ... I don't believe in gay marriages. I don't believe in being gay."
I personally find this sentiment abhorrent but it's probably the most defensible since, unfortunately there are many Americans who feel the way Everett does. But let's see who else inspires his ire...
2) "Fan is short for fanatic — he's crazy about something he really doesn't know about," Everett reportedly told the magazine. "And it's proven that 99 percent of baseball fans have no idea what they're watching."
This one's a little more curious. I don't follow the White Sox so maybe there's a back story here I don't know about but I'm assuming Everett's not a fan favorite? I'm particularly interested in seeing more about the study that proves that 99% of fans know nothing about baseball. Does anyone happen to know where that was published?
Everett's comments about blowing up Wrigley and not believing in dinosaurs made me chuckle and I was just about to write him off as a complete wacko until he said this about the recent congressional hearings on steroids: "We have a war going on — I have family in that war — yet we're talking about steroids. If everybody in the world got on steroids, we'll still lose more kids to a war than we will from steroids." Those comments are sure to be lost among the gay-bashing and fan-bashing but they are about the most intelligent commentary I've heard from a ballplayer on the topic. Too bad he has to be such an ignorant prick about everything else.
Thursday, June 16, 2005
Poofy Architecture Column
In reading this, I became enraged that a girlyman like Nicolai Ouroussoff (doesn't that name reek of Franco-pretentiousness?) should be allowed to make a living commenting on architechture. If it were up to him, the new Yankee Stadium would be an artist's paradise and would look something like the monstrosity that Daniel Libeskind is trying to push onto Ground Zero. Look, we get it, sports fans are slovenly and uncouth. We drink beer instead of wine, we eat hot dogs instead of boudin noir and we like to wear t-shirts instead of frilly silk blouses.
What I don't understand is how a supposed intellectual like this Ouroussoff character doesn't understand that the new Yankee Stadium design is EXACTLY what Yankee fans want. We want a ballpark that looks like the old Yankee Stadium of 1923-1974, before it was renovated into its current form. We don't want something that is arty or avant garde or overly conceptual. All we want is a ballpark that looks like other ballparks with cool features, good sightlines, wider seats and concourses and all the other stuff that folks in San Fran, Baltimore, Philly, Denver and Cleveland have.
I'll be happy to talk over the finer points of why this stadium deal is great for New York, great for the Yankees and great for Yankee fans. I'll be happy to talk about how much financial sense this makes for all parties involved and I'll even talk about how the facility design is flawless with respect to revenue maximization, revenue management and fan experience enhancement. I'll be happy to but I don't think Euro-boy would understand any of it. He's too busy buffing his fingernails and telling his purse-dog Coco to get off the Rocaille antique furniture.
Why do intellectuals have to poo-poo everything, even stuff they know nothing about. I'll bet Nicolai hasn't been to a ballgame before. You know why? Because paté and caviar aren't served at ballparks.
Hey Nicolai, I'll make you a deal. You quit writing about stuff you know nothing about and I promise you'll never see me at the ballet or at the other half-dozen snooty places you go to drink your demitasse and eat your petit fours. Piss off, Nicolai.
(PS -- If it seems that I know a lot about this frenchy Euro crap, it's because my folks are European and I was exposed, against my will, to the less manly things in life. Damn those parents!)
Wednesday, June 15, 2005
First off, let me give some background on Doleac. Doleac played for Utah in college. He’s an uncoordinated 7-foot white guy, who powered Utah to the 1998 NCAA Championship game with some help from PG Andre Miller. (For all the Bill Simmons fans out there, this was the year AFTER Keith Van Horn left, when Utah was supposed to be terrible. Bill Simmons calls this the “Ewing Theory” – a team performing better without its superstar.)
Doleac is the beneficiary of every NBA GM’s first rule: always draft people who are 7 feet tall, no matter whether they know how to dribble, pass, or walk and chew gum at the same time.
Doleac has been on 5 teams in 7 years, average 5.3 ppg and 3.5 rebounds per game (rpg). Doleac was even on the Cavs once, as the Cavs chose to trade a 1st round pick for him and then refuse to sign him all within a year. It's a new kind of strategy that focuses on roster-turnover.
This season, Doleac averaged 4 ppg & 3.2 rpg. I guess Shaq forgot that he also has Alonzo Mourning on his team this year! I hate how Shaq always discriminates against people who have had kidney transplants. Seriously.
So I did some research, courtesy of http://www.basketballreference.com/, to come to my own conclusions about Shaq's greatest backup. I just don't want to give any accolades to Doleac!
Assuming I can't just pick Mourning as his best backup, I have to look at his time on the Lakers. Shaq really didn’t have any backups for a couple of years, unless I count Samaki Walker. But Walker wasn’t really playing center. The Lakers did use John Salley one year though, who delivered with a 1.6ppg & 1.4 rpg.
Who were Shaq’s backups on Orlando? Amazingly, in 1992 his backup for half the season was Brian Williams, who later changed his name to Bison Dele, who later changed his name to Optimus Prime, who later went to Tahiti and is now presumed dead. I wish I was making all this up.
But, my vote for Shaq’s best backup, has to be a player-coach on the Orlando Magic, Henry “Tree” Rollins. Tree Rollins averaged 1.7 ppg and 2.1 rpg while ASSISTANT COACHING the 1993-1994 Magic to their first-ever NBA playoff appearance.
It may be rude, I may hurt Doleac's feelings, but I refuse to let Doleac bask in the glory of being "the best backup in the world."
Did anyone see the tail end of the ESPN interview with Shaq, aired on SportsCenter last night? The interviewer asked him if he thought there's ever be a time when he and Kobe could sit down and have a conversation. Shaq's response was "I don't know who that is."
Let's assume for a moment that there's good reason behind the souring of Shaq's relationship with Kobe. As it is, such an assumption isn't too difficult. Even if this is truly bad, as intense as the media wants us to believe - come on, Shaq. You can do better than this response. If you're really set on never talking to Kobe Bryant again, it's easy enough to say that. The response he gave, in contrast, invites far more attention to the matter than I think what everyone involved would want.
Tuesday, June 14, 2005
Keith Olbermann is back with Dan Patrick. While only for an hour, once a week (Fridays), and only on radio I was pleased to see Keith back with his buddy. Begrudgingly I've enjoyed Dan's ESPN radio show. I find his commentary witty, funny, insightful and most importantly level headed. He doesn't need to make outrageous comments (Dan Lebatard's racism charges against sports writers) or scream (Steven A. Smith) or smoke pot on air (Bill Walton). Keith has transformed himself from an enjoyable SportsCenter guy to probably the best cable news host (which is kind of like saying your the smartest person in Texas. Its not much of an accomplishment but still its something). Nonetheless cheers to their reunion. Hopefully it'll be good.
To the return of Max Kellerman. Max Kellerman, who I believe is exactly 2 feet tall and who's parents are probably Jawas (had to the Star Wars reference), has to be one of THE worst sports commentators ever. I'm not even doing hyperbole here. He was the host of "Around the Horn" before being replaced by someone named "Statboy". Then he tried his hand on FoxSports at a show called "I, Max" which as Norman Chad correctly noted was the only show that listed all its viewers in its title. Well Max is back. He's a regular on the Situation with Tucker "I really am a dick" Carlson. Maybe Max knows something about politics. I wouldn't know. I just think he should be stored in the dark labrynth that holds Mel Kiper Jr. when its not the NFL draft.
Monday, June 13, 2005
From his most recent column on the importance of a good bullpen and the difficulty in assembling one, Gammons came up with this gem:
"Dustin Hermanson has more saves than Mariano Rivera."
I read that in the context it was written and chuckled that Gammons, a supposed baseball genius, still thinks that saves are a valuable and important stat. Saves are a silly thing that baseball laypeople enjoy fawning over. All a save can tell you is who was on the mound when the last out was recorded in a 1-, 2-, or 3-run game. It doesn't tell you anything more than that.
I thought, "Ok, so Gammons wrote something stupid. It's not worth blogging it." Then, 2 paragraphs later, this:
"It's worth repeating: Hermanson has more saves then Rivera..."
Obviously saying it twice, for effect, means that Gammons doesn't get it. Hermanson is having a great season. The White Sox are having a great season. The Sox' pickup of Hermanson in the off-season was a very savvy move and one that is paying dividends. That said, I'm not sure I understand why Hermanson having more saves than Rivera is significant. The White Sox have 12 more wins than the Yanks but Hermanson has just 1 more save than Rivera. What is this telling us? That Hermanson is marginally better than Rivera? The Indians have 1 more win than the Yanks but their closer, Bob Wickman, has 3 more saves than Rivera. Is Wickman marginally better than Rivera too? Wickman, it should be noted, is a fatass who was traded from the Yanks in 1996 to make room for Rivera in the bullpen. Point made, moving on...
Gammons' last point in his column was about the MLB draft. He made a point to mention how the Yanks screwed up by not selecting the kid from St. John's who is projected to be a good closer someday. He punctuated this by saying:
"That's why Brian Cashman and Gene Michael should have more control over drafting and development."
Should Gene Michael have more say in the organization when it comes to development? Absolutely yes. He's the guy that brought us Bernie, Jeter, Rivera, Posada, Pettitte and the prospects Jay Buhner, Roberto Kelly, Russ Davis and Sterling Hitchcock (among others). The last three were the pieces that brought us Paul O'Neill, Tino Martinez and Jeff Nelson in trades. Should Brian Cashman have more say? HELL NO. If you can't evaluate major league talent then how could you be trusted to evaluate high school and college kids? I'd opine that it should be easy to say "Gee, that Roger Clemens guy looks pretty good. Let's go trade for him." I'd opine that it's not as easy to do that with unproven players with no track records. What is Gammons' obsession with fluffing Cashman? Gammons, and no one else, is the one that keeps up the persistent rumors about all of these suitors lining up at Cashman's door should Boss lower the hammer on his GM's head. If the Phillies, Royals, Mets or whoever else want Cashman, they can have him free of charge. I'm buying the airfare.
Peter Gammons' Column
Sunday, June 12, 2005
Nonetheless I wanted to take a small poll of who people thought were good sports columnists, commentators, reporters, etc. Here in Cleveland I'm partial to one of local sports columnists Bill Livingston. I think he does what a great local sports writer is supposed to do: mix and match between understanding and covering his/her city and commenting on national level sports news. He can be critical but at the same even handed. A small excerpt of a recent column on Bonds:
Hall of Fame voters need to take a stand on Bonds, who yet might return from knee surgery to threaten Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron on the career homers list. Personally, I can't wait for him to retire. I can't reject him for the Hall of Fame soon enough. Not for being a racist. For making a mockery of the greatest records in sports.Opinionated and writing something to spark debate. I approve. So who does everyone else actually like?
As always this week's Risers and Fallers:
Washington Nationals and Philadelphia Phillies -
They keep winning. Nobody had either of these two teams at the top. But thats where they are (at least at the moment). Frankly I'm not sure who's on either of these teams except Bobby Abreu is a home run hitting machine in Philly and I think Joe Biden plays for the Nats or the Senators. One or the other. Either way my hat has to go off to Frank Robinson, truly a classy and amazingly patient man. I have no idea what medication he's on that allowed him to withstand the trials and tribulations of the Montreal/Puerto Rico Expos but I'd like to buy some.
Boxing. Once a top tier sport today its last headliner (Iron Mike) moved into retirement. Say what you will about Mike's boxing skills but he was the last of the big names. Cassius Clay (his momma called him Cassius so I'm calling him Cassius) was at one time the most recognizable athlete in the planet. Today I have no clue who is the heavyweight champion. Just goes to show that if a sport doesn't manage itself correctly it can go the way of the Dodo.
Friday, June 10, 2005
Bill Simmons, the self-proclaimed "Sports Guy" on ESPN.com wrote an interesting thought today in reference to the NBA Finals. He said that one of the only things the Pistons can do to win the series is to knock Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili every time they drive to the basket. Simmons believes that none of the other Spurs will stand up for them because they're "not that kind of team." Maybe that's true, maybe it isn't. I don't follow the Spurs close enough to know if that's the case or not.
The interesting thing about that comment is that he then took that analogy to the Yankees-Red Sox matchups. He correctly pointed out that the Yankees are often too "classy" to retaliate when one of their own is brushed back or plunked and that the Red Sox figured this out and have continued intimidating the Yanks because they know that the Pinstripers won't fight back. There's no doubt about that one. The Yanks are basically a bunch of wimps and pushovers with no spine and no heart. Where Simmons errs is in his example of Derek Jeter. The Red Sox have either beaned or brushed Jeter back more than any other Yankee. What I find odd is that Simmons would pick Jeter as his example. Jeter's about the only one that isn't intimidated by the brushbacks and beanings. If there's one Yankee that has no qualms about getting back in the batter's box and roping a line drive, it's our Captain.
Simmons is a good writer and an amusing and entertaining guy. This column's just not on the money. He should've picked Giambi. Now there's a big pussy if there ever was one.
Thursday, June 09, 2005
I think there are 2 reasons for this: 1) he’s a Yankee and 2) his bloated contract damned him to unrealistic expectations. Call me paranoid but ESPN just can’t stomach the thought of giving too much praise to a Yankee. It’s trendy to be a Yankee-hater and ESPN is nothing if not a trend-whore more interested in jumping on the latest bandwagon than maintaining any kind of journalistic integrity or objectivity (paging Stuart Scott). If A-Rod had been wearing any other jersey when he hit his 400th, I’m pretty sure the title would have read something along the lines of “Greatest Ever” (maybe with a question mark at the end). I can’t even imagine how far up his ass they’d be if he’d been wearing a Red Sox jersey. But since he’s a Yankee the best they can muster is acknowledgment of the accomplishment with the qualification that it doesn’t really mean all that much since he probably won’t break Aaron’s record anyway (which is a whole other debate).
Secondly, I’m sure his wife would disagree but that $252 million contract he signed may end up not being such a great thing. No one can actually be worth that obscene amount of money so in many people’s minds, no matter what he accomplishes, he’s still not worth it. I just think it’s a shame that ESPN can’t present last night for what it is: one of the best players to ever play the game accomplishing something no one ever had before – nothing more, nothing less."
Wednesday, June 08, 2005
So I've devised some storylines with some added Star Wars quotes to get the juices flowing:
1. “When I left you, I was but the learner. Now I am the master.”
Popovich was Larry Brown’s top assistant for 4 seasons in San Antonio. Popovich knows Brown’s thought processes, formations, and plays. Brown probably never cared to learn what Popovich was doing, because he was busy searching for another job at the time.
2. “Only a fully-trained Jedi Knight, with the Force as his ally, will conquer Vader and his Emperor.”
Duncan has to be completely on top of things to conquer the defending champs. The last time 2 teams could go 9-deep was probably Lakers-Celtics in the ‘80s. No one is sure who is matching up where, and it should be really interesting.
PF Duncan vs. Rasheed / Ben Wallace / McDyess – The Pistons have enough bodies to wear down Duncan. Granted, Duncan doesn’t ever seem to fatigue. Nonetheless, this will be much more of a challenge than the Nets (K-Martin) and the Spurs (Camby) ever were in the NBA Finals.
3. “A Jedi uses the Force for knowledge and defense, never for attack.”
The Pistons use defense to propel fast breaks and their offense. There are definitely some superb matchups though…
PG Tony Parker vs. Billups & Arroyo --- Larry Brown is stubborn and won’t play Arroyo, who is an excellent point guard (he was starting on Utah, argued with the coach, and probably will be starting somewhere next season). If the Pistons keep Billups rested enough by mixing in Arroyo, the Pistons could end up with a huge advantage. Plus Parker tends to get distracted by his mega-hot girlfriend (Eva Longoria) who attends each game. Oh wait, that’s actually me who gets distracted.
Bowen vs. Rip Hamilton --- Honestly, Rip Hamilton is what keeps the Pistons going offensively. He’s probably more fit than any other guy in this series, and Bowen will have his hands full. If the Spurs win, Bowen will be lauded as the greatest defender since Gary “The Glove” Payton.
Ginobili vs. Tayshaun Prince --- Ginobili, who is definitely the spark for the Spurs. This is the matchup I expect to tilt the series. When Ginobili gets going, the Spurs are hard to beat.
4. “That's 'cause droids don't pull people's arms out of their sockets when they lose. Wookiees are known to do that.”
This goes out to each team’s resident enforcer: Ben Wallace of the Pistons and Nazr Mohammed of the Spurs. I wouldn’t want to meet either of these guys on the street, that’s for sure. But we must give credit where credit is due, and Ben Wallace did instigate the largest melee in NBA history.
5. “Your powers are weak, old man.”
The Spurs have Glenn Robinson who hasn’t played in a while due to “family business”, or at least that’s what the box scores say. The Pistons have Elden Campbell, who I swear was on the Lakers back when they had Magic Johnson.
Advantage: Pistons (unless Glenn Robinson decides to actually attend some games)
6. “I see you have constructed a new lightsaber. Your skills are complete, indeed you are powerful as the emperor has foreseen.”
The Spurs have two bench guys who just seem to have the complete package of skills. Robert “I look like Will Smith” Horry, and Brent “I can shoot 3s all day” Barry, are fantastic at coming in, knocking down a 3, snagging a steal, grabbing a crucial rebound.
The Pistons sport Lindsey Hunter, who uses the majority of his energy as a defender, and does a great job at it.
Advantage: Spurs (Barry & Horry are deadly 3-point shooters).
7. “You refer to the prophecy of The One, who will bring balance to the Force. You believe it's this boy?”
Will DARKO ever turn that corner? I really like his critically-acclaimed nickname: “the Human Victory Cigar.” I have this sneaking suspicion he will always be just a garbage-time guy. I just hope he gets into the game at some point so we can point and laugh.
8. “Search your feelings you know it to be true.”
Final Prediction: Spurs in 7. This could go either way, but they have a coaching edge and an edge on the bench since Barry & Horry can knock down 3s at will, and that can be the whole difference in such an evenly contested series.
1. Spurs-Pistons NBA Finals: It should be a well-played, well-fought series on the overall but probably lacking in some of the natural drama that we've seen in other Finals matchups. This one is a battle of good (Tim Duncan) vs. evil (Rasheed Wallace, even if he is better-behaved). It is also a battle of North vs. South; quiet and underrated coach (Greg Popovich) vs. self-promoting and egomaniacal coach (Larry Brown); thriving little city (San Antonio) vs. dying urban center (Detroit -- GM is cutting 25,000 jobs -- can you imagine how crappy the mood must be in Michigan these days?).
Monday, June 06, 2005
1) Joey Harrington - Pressure is on the piano savant from Oregon. Detroit has the offensive tools everywhere except maybe the QB position. Its put up or be benched and play behind playboy dater Jeff Garcia (a fairly ignominious ending).
2) J. P. Losman - Buffalo seemed to be on the cusp of the playoffs last year. Unfortunately their offense was weighed down by the human anchor Drew Bledsoe. I personally don't see Losman doing a worse job than Bledsoe but hey stranger things have happened (see Washington's choice in QBs).
3) Denver - I think my favorite game during next season will be: what the hell was Mike Shanahan thinking? Signing Maurice Clarett? Signing Jerry Rice? Drafting a crazy steriod induced punter? Signing the entire Cleveland Brown's defensiveline? The logic (and frankly sanity) of any of those moves can be questioned and while the Supreme Court has roundedly rejected prior restraint, Shanahan's Raideresque moves will be put under the magnifying glass.
4) The Ricky Williams Story - Ok Ricky the media seems a little hung up on Ricky. So he has his own personal guru. So he travels to India. So he likes smoking. Who of us can honestly say hasn't quit their job and fled the country? I just did it the other day. Nonetheless I think this story will shine a bigger light on the Dolphins new coach: Nick Saban. While everyone seems ready to crown him king of football, I have two words of supposed brilliant college coaches that people expected to do well at the pros: Butch Davis.
And Now My Weekly Risers and Fallers:
Has to be the entire NL East. Frankly I thought this entire division would be boring. I don't think anyone cared about this division since Vince Coleman held his own personal Fourth of July. Nonetheless the ENTIRE division seems to be within a single series (e.g. within 3 games) of one another. I'm not sure if this can continue but hey if this keeps up into August and September it should be a memorable race.
New York Yankees. After an impressive May, the Yanquis immediately stumbled onto their face. They're 3-7 in the last 10 games, after being swept by the Royals and then losing two out of three to the Boys Choir of Harlem. I feel Mt. Steinbrenner might be needing a heart transplant or two before this season is over.
Friday, June 03, 2005
For those that don't quite believe Shaq helped someone out here's the link:
1. A Suns-Spurs NBA Final with both teams fully healthy. Yes, that's right, an all Western Conference affair. I hate Shaq and Pat Riley and while I used to sort of root for the Pistons, I can no longer root for any team that Larry Brown is associated with going forward.
2. A Yankee team that actually gave a crap about baseball. Anyone watching Yankee baseball these days knows that once they reeled off 16 wins in 20 games, something changed. The team has gone back to its selfish, undisciplined approach at the plate and its lackadaisical, unprepared and passive mode of pitching. Baseball is better when the Yankees are a competitive team. For all the haters out there that are enjoying the mediocrity coming out of the Bronx, there is no doubt that objectively speaking, you know I'm right. There always has to be a villain in sports. If the Yanks are out of contention by August (not altogether far-fetched at this point) then the playoffs will be awfully boring. That is unless you like your sports dramas to play out like cartoons -- in pink and purple hues with fluffy, lovable bunny rabbits and everyone singing in the end. Every drama needs a villain. Sports without a villain is like eating lukewarm day-old soup.
3. Ricky Williams to stay retired. I can't stress this enough. I respect Ricky Williams for deciding to quit football last year. I didn't think he did it in the most responsible way but I can't fault the man for saying that his lifestyle and the robotic, corporate-minded NFL universe didn't mesh. Now he wants back in, but only because he's up to his eyeballs in debt (to his team, to the mother of his child, to the IRS, I'd imagine). There's nothing wrong with doing stuff for money (why else do I work in a field that I don't care for?) but when you crap out on your teammates you should be punished. You shouldn't be allowed to just stroll back into their lives. How can the guys that block for you ever trust you again? I'd never want him on my team, even if he could get me better weed than I could score for myself.
4. NHL to stay gone. The NY Times reported that for the first time in over a year, there is reason to be optimistic that a deal may get done between the NHL and the player's union. Too bad. I was really enjoying life without hockey. I don't think too many people in the United States miss the game, which is the problem with hockey anyway. ESPN and others forced it on us 3-4 nights a week for a while back. Hopefully hockey learned its lesson -- that we can live without it.
5. NFL training camp to start early. I read an article in today's paper about Jeremy Shockey and the NY Giants. I'm sure that other sports pages around the country ran stories about the local NFL franchise. It's getting to be about that time where we can start thinking about quarterback controversies, hot rookies, aging veterans, fantasy football and other good gridiron stuff. I wish they'd just move training camp up to mid-June. I don't know how I live without football all those months between February and July. Even John Madden Football for the PS2 is about to start calling my name again. God I can't wait until they start two-a-days and hitting practice. Maybe I feel that way because the Yanks suck this year. Wow, now I know what it's like to live in Chicago, Cleveland, or Kansas City...it's football season early for the rest of the country so it may as well be in New York too.
Have a good weekend all.
Wednesday, June 01, 2005
If you were in charge of the Cavs, what would you do?
D. Diop, Senegal
Thanks for your question, this is an excellent question for me to answer in the blog. The constant headline-grabbing moves of new owner Dan Gilbert, have only increased the exposure to the limelight for better and for worse (the focus is on the worse of late).
This offseason has been just a strange media circus and yet there still is no GM hired! Here’s where I stand on things, and what I would do if I was in charge:
1) The first priority should have been to hire a GM.
-If you want to add a layer of bureaucracy, then hire a president, but do it quickly! I guess Dan Gilbert doesn’t realize how the free agency period is just a few weeks away and the free agency period is what will determine whether Lebron stays in Cleveland. It's important to note that there's no need to worry about the draft since the Cavs’ old GM already traded those draft picks away. And next year’s 1st round pick as well!
2) This offseason will have the largest impact on LeBron staying here long-term
-The Cavs have approximately $20 million in cap space this offseason. First, I give Zydrunas whatever he asks for (maybe $14 mill?) and spend the rest on a POINT GUARD. If Z leaves, I have no idea what they will do for a big-man. Of course, a sign-and-trade with Z is optimal (for a big-man and a guard) but it depends on who it is, and what the contract situation is of the new players.
3) Signing Redd makes no sense.
All of these rumors about the Cavs going after former Buckeye Michael Redd are ridiculous, because there’s no way in hell they can use Eric Snow as a starting point guard for a whole season. It’s just hard for me to see how this would make any sense, especially with 3 first round picks invested in 3 other SGs on the roster (Luke Jackson, Jiri Welsch, and Sasha Pavlovic. Yes, 3 1st round picks were spent on these guys!)
4) Point guard possibility
-So, I took the liberty to look at free agent point guards this summer. Here’s what one site’s top 5 point guards are: Marko Jaric, some European guy, Antonio Daniels, Gary Payton, and Brevin Knight.
-Well, I would just save the money and sign Brevin Knight! Brevin is a former Cavalier point guard. He can’t score at all, but if you let him play 30 minutes, he will get you 10 assists, and only 2 turnovers, as well as 2 steals every night. This is exactly what the Cavs need (assists & defense), because there will be enough scoring from LeBron, Z, Drew Gooden, and…
5) Luke Jackson, who only played 10 games last year.
-Luke Jackson is a sharpshooter from Oregon. He was the third super guy from Oregon’s Elite 8 team of Luke Ridnour and Fred Jones. He can shoot! I’m penciling in Luke as a starter, and I’m penciling in SportsCenter to make Star Wars jokes about his name. If I’m GM, I would just bank the whole season on Luke. He will restore balance to the force.
So, I’m under the impression that the playoffs can be reached once my GM HIRES a coach who can drill these guys, using a core 9-man rotation of:
LeBron, Z, Gooden, Luke Jackson, Brevin Knight, PF Varejao, defensive stopper Ira Newble, old-man Eric Snow, and local fat-man Robert Traylor.
Am I too optimistic?