Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Baseball News

1. Allard Baird was fired today as the GM of the Kansas City Royals. The question that must be asked is what took the Royals so long in pulling the trigger. Baird had been the assistant GM from 1998-2000 at which time he was promoted to GM. Under his “watch”, the Royals have had three 100-loss seasons, two 90-loss seasons, a cumulative record of 550-794 (.409), and five different managers in eight seasons.

Far worse is the fact that despite picking at or near the top of the amateur draft for each of the past eight seasons during Baird’s tenure, the team has not produced a single prospect of note that has contributed at the major league level. All of Baird’s trades were lopsided disasters that yielded no fruit.

So, I ask again, what on earth were the Royals waiting for? And at what point should Commissioner Selig, a man supposedly so interested in parity and competitive balance, have stepped in? Over the past eight years, Selig was too busy gerrymandering related party transactions between the Expos, Marlins, and Red Sox and accepting “loans” from Twins ownership to curry favor for contraction. Under his watchful eye, Commissioner Selig let the once-proud Kansas City Royals, a team that finished first or second for 11 straight seasons from 1975-1985, waste away. Selig and an apathetic ownership group let baseball die in Kansas City.

Hopefully Baird’s replacement is able to breathe some life back into the franchise and the city. Selig better hope so because, try as he might, he can’t blame the Royals’ situation on the Yankee and Red Sox spending machines. The Royals didn't die because they couldn't compete. They died from an unwillingness to compete; they died from neglect and gross mismanagement at the team and league levels.

2. I’m thrilled that Roger Clemens is rejoining the Houston Astros. Not only does it put an end to his unseemly Brett Favre-style money-grab but it also means that he isn’t going back to Boston. As a Yankee fan, that’s just plain good news.

A word to Roger: it’ll take a Herculean effort to get the Astros into the playoffs this year. I’m not saying it can’t be done – at this point last year the Astros were in last place with a 19-32 and 14 games out of first place – but the NL Wildcard won’t be an easy task. Right now the Braves, Phillies, Reds, Dodgers, Rockies, and Padres are all ahead of the Astros in the Wild Card race and the Brewers and Giants are close behind. We’ll see if Clemens can make the difference and we’ll find out if it was worth $14M to bring him back for the final four months of the season.

Religion and Sports

I figured it was high time we utilized the plethora of legal, spirtual and philosphical minds we have here at the Back Seat Drivers. I was listening to Dan Patrick and Keith Olbermann today and they were discussing the Colorado Rockies Christian Code of Ethics that is imposed on the team. I assume that their banter was in part derived from this USATODAY article here. Now given the Air Forces struggles with this issue and James Dobson location I'm not entirely surprised that the Rockies were the team to openly and formally institute Christian (evangelical, born-again) guidelines. My question are thus:
1) What are the legal implications? When do guidelines become discrimination?
2) To what extent is this public move by the Rockies a trend in sports, an admission of de facto fact or an aberration?
3) How does influence public perception of Rockies, baseball and sports more generally?

I look forward to your answer....

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

What’s the Deal with That?

Pistons in a funk-

I just can’t get over the fact that the Pistons are down 3-1 to the Miami Heat. It’s shocking, and appalling. Shaq is at 100%, Wade is shooting a sizzling 70% for the series. Yet, the Pistons, who had one of the best seasons in recent memory, cannot keep up. I blame Rip Hamilton, who is shooting a paltry 37% from the field. Granted, its easy to latch onto any of the Pistons starters as the problem, but I feel like one of the main keys to the Pistons success is the fact that Rip Hamilton runs around like a lunatic out there, and ends up tiring whoever is guarding him.

NHL Playoffs -

The 8th-seeded Edmonton Oilers are awaiting an upcoming game 7 winner between Buffalo and Carolina. Canada has a great chance to win the cup perhaps. I’m rooting for Edmonton vs. Buffalo, mainly because Michael Peca is now on the Oilers. The good thing about the Stanley Cup Finals is that I believe NBC will be showing some games, so I can actually watch it!

Hiding in the bushes-

Check out this funny article, involving one of the Indians relievers. http://www.cleveland.com/weblogs/pdsports/index.ssf?/mtlogs/cleve_pdsports/archives/2006_05.html
Apparently, it was like 4AM, and RP Scott Sauerbeck let a drunken female drive his car. The cops noticed she was driving poorly, and they followed the car until it pulled into a random driveway. Sauerbeck and his lady-friend then promptly hid in the bushes between some houses in the hopes that the police wouldn’t find them. 45 minutes later, the police found them. I wish I knew what Sauerbeck said when they found him. He may have been drunk enough to think he was playing hide and go seek. Granted, when one is drunk, playing hide and go seek with the cops is probably not the best idea.

Tedious Talking Head...

Joe Theismann comes off as a sanctimonious dimwit in this article which, I suppose, isn’t too surprising. But it really does get tedious to have simple-minded ex-athletes tell the world what their version of morality is. Live and let live. What the hell does he care if the team he once played for 30 years ago wants to sign a player that has used drugs? What, there’s a law that says drug-users aren’t allowed to play professional sports? Did someone tell his ESPN colleague Michael Irvin about that? Someone should’ve told LT that before he stepped out onto the field and snapped Theismann’s leg like a chicken bone…

Man Law

Somewhere in a secret location, sequestered away in a glass box sits the tribunal of Man Law. Therein the sages of our days come up with laws to guide men's action on topics of the day. Without laws we cannot have civilization. Without Man Law we might accidentally break the sacred oath of man and do something horrible like waste beer. Sitting on the tribunal is exactly who I would want in charge of Man-norms: Jerome Bettis (man-law tribunal beats NFL network any day of the week), a former WWE wrestling champion (HHH), some one-armed dude, Eddie Griffin (his days as a he-pimp in Deuce Biglow got him the gig), and of course Bert Reynolds. Now personally I'd add Chuck Norris (can never have too many roundhouse kicks), Dirk Diggler (no explanation is necessary) and one of those super intelligent chimps from the space program but that's just me. Alongside my suggestions for who should be on the committee I'd like to add a few additions to the great tome of Man-law.

1. There's No Crying in Baseball- Of all people I least expected to break this sacred law was Frank Robinson. Frank Robinson is old school. He wants his pitchers to pitch inside if not "stick it in their ear". He's more than willing to stare down an ump. Yet Frank, last week, broke the simple rule: There's no crying in baseball over yanking his catcher. Look Frank, it doesn't matter if the result of your managerial decision ended the chances for world peace or something really important like stopping Ben Affleck from being in the news; there is no crying in baseball. Its one of the central tenants of all life: meat is better than veggies, don't get in a land war in Asia and there's no crying in baseball. Rogers Hornsby was my manager, and he called me a talking pile of pigshit. And that was when my parents drove all the way down from Michigan to see me play the game. And did I cry? NO. NO. And do you know why? Because there is no crying in baseball.

2. Starbucks - I couldn't exactly put my finger with what went wrong with Peter King until I re-read his little coffee nerdness part yesterday and then it dawned on me, its starbucks. Frappucinos, moccachino's , or basically any coffee that is priced at more than 5 dollars a cup is against man-law. Coffee should be blacker than Donald Rumseld's soul. It should be strong enough to strip paint or cause ulcers. Drinking coffee from Starbucks on a regular basis will lead one to predict the New England Patriots will be in the Super Bowl each year, for five straight years (including this year). Can he make the case for the Patriots? Sure. Its just his reasoning is so full of holes as he tries to find reasons why HIS favorite team will win that its laughable (much like watching a Ben Affleck movie). His reasoning of an easy December schedule for Pats romp to the Superbowl screams forced reason. The Browns have an easy December schedule and that doesn't mean much. Somehow the Colts losing Triplett and Thorton on defense is too much but the Pats losing McGinist, Vinateri, Givens, etc. is no problem. Somehow Carolina relying on rookie running bank Deangelo Williams is a minus but the Pat relying on rookie Laurence Malroney is a plus. Yeah I'm sure in Pete King's world Belichek and Parcells is some wet dream which is because Pete King goes to Starbucks. Pete King's ridiculous logic is also a result of Starbucks. His hatred of offensive language is just a result of him ridiculously white (I'd also add in desperate need of a blowjob). Nonetheless Pete King your violating man-law on the grounds of over consumption of Starbucks and as such you will be dealt with.

Friday, May 26, 2006

That's DY-NO-MITE!



I won’t take credit for coming up with this but when I read that someone thought David “Big Papi” Ortiz looked liked Esther “Florida Evans” Rolle, I started cracking up and knew it was blog-worthy. Hopefully this one puts everyone in the mood to enjoy the unofficial start of summer.


So the next time ESPN fawns all over David Ortiz, just remember, he’s really a body-double for an overweight black actress from the 1970’s.

Happy Summer everyone!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Quick Tidbits

Two things caught my attention today:

1. The NFL denied Reggie Bush’s petition to wear #5 on his jersey. I would say I’m surprised but I’m really not. The NFL makes 700 Club founder Pat Robertson look like a rational moderate. I just don’t see why giving Reggie Bush the right to wear #5 makes that much of a difference but in a league as conservative as the NFL, any form of change or self-expression is deemed bad. If they had their druthers, the NFL Management Committee would prefer a league full of robots that were seen and not heard.

2. The Kansas City Royals are challenging the 1962 Mets for complete and utter “suckitude.” As of this writing, they’re on pace for a 37-125 season and they’re already 21 games behind the first place Detroit Tigers. Their mathematical elimination number stands at 97. The Royals might be eliminated by early August at this rate (August 11th, to be exact, if the Tigers and Royals maintain roughly the same pace of wins and losses). That’s just unbelievable. The entire team should be fired, starting with the owner and going right down to the last player in single-A rookie ball. That is one disgraceful franchise right there.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Future Movies About Sports Celebrities

In honor of the summer movies that are starting to open, or already have opened, I thought it would be fun to go through some of the top movies that I would like to film and/or create, based on some amount of reality, and a whole lot of fiction.

1) Onterrio Smith in “The Whiz”– The end scene of this movie would have that same piano music from The Firm. NFL agents would finally discover what was in Onterrio Smith’s briefcase, as Onterrio runs, jukes, and dekes his way through the airport. Unlike The Firm though, Onterrio is eventually tackled by one of the NFL agents (I think it would be funny if Warren Sapp played the agent), and Onterrio ends up turning over his Whizzinator, the creator of the Whizzinator, all of his powdered urine, and ends up getting suspended for 1 year. In real news, Onterrio just signed a contract with the CFL. I'm not sure whether that's a happy ending for the movie or not.

2) Ultimate Warrior in “Facepaint” - he’s not really in sports, but he had a great theme song. I’d write up a fictional piece about how he confuses his real self with his Warrior self, similar to the inner struggle in the movie Spider-Man and how the Green Goblin eventually takes over a mild-mannered scientist. In this movie, the Ultimate Warrior originally was a mild-mannered churchgoer. By the end, he listens to the voices in his head, he’s doing blow off of hookers, all WHILE his theme music is playing. I found this link to his website, where he dispells the rumors that his heart exploded, that he died, that he had a cousin do his role, and where he often talks about himself in the third person. http://www.ultimatewarrior.com/concept.htm

3) Albert Belle in “Don’t Call Me Joey” - So many action moments in this movie– throwing a ball at a fan, chasing down kids in your SUV who egg your house. The SUV scene would be amazing to film, though I’m still not sure how he didn’t run over the kids or crash his car. Every time someone calls him Joey, he loses his cool, kind of like Michael J. Fox in Back to the Future when people would call him “chicken” or “yellow.” Just like in Back to the Future, you’d have some dramatic music each time someone calls him Joey. Unlike Marty McFly though, Albert Belle literally beats the crap out of people when they call him Joey. Somehow by the end of the movie you’d feel sorry for him because of a debilitating back/hip injury (I can’t remember) that forces him to never play baseball again. The movie would end with him playing Mortal Kombat and ripping someone’s spine out.

4) Shawn Kemp in “Reign Man” - Add in some fiction and pretend that each of Shawn Kemp’s 9 mothers did not know about each other… until one fateful day! It’s polygamy to the greatest level! If that show on HBO, “Big Love” can succeed, I don’t see why this movie involving an NBA superstar polygamist wouldn’t work. Then you show him eating his way out of the league, starting with a fateful day where he eats 5 double Quarter Pounders to win a bet with Gary Payton.

5) Maurice Clarrett in “Run” - Real meaty, dramatic stuff in this movie – you could show Maurice getting caught w/ thousands of dollars in his SUV provided by the OSU boosters. You can also show legal arguments to allow him to get drafted, donations from boosters, getting drafted in the 3rd round, failing in training camp, and stealing from other people and then running away. During the scene where he steals, I would play the ‘80s song, “I wanna be rich.” This movie would have a really sad ending, as even Lebron James won’t return his phone calls by the end of the movie (they used to be friends, back when both were ready to take over the sports world).

6) Jose Canseco in “Juiced” – This movie would certainly have guest appearances by his brother, being king of the world (girls used to run on the field to give him a kiss), introducing everyone to steroids, writing a book, testifying before Congress, appearing on VH1’s the Simple Life. Wow. Now that’s what I call a movie!

I’m sure there are other good possibile movie ideas out there, so feel free to make some other suggestions.

Cheers and Jeers: Agent Orange Edition

Ingredients

You might be wondering right now why this edition of Cheers and Jeers is a drink that basically representing every known type of liquor? What in the world does this have to do with sports? Will I die if I drink this? Well the answers are: World Cup, World Cup and probably. While most Americans are loathe admitting it, soccer better known as football is THE global sport. Everyone is included. Everyone goes to the party. And especially if you're English everyone gets drunk. There are more members of the international soccer federation, FIFA, (207) than there are members of the United Nations (191). While we here in the states are amazed by the national holiday known as the Super Bowl it's dwarfed in viewership by the World Cup final (218 million compared to 95). Sure we here in the USA find soccer an amusement, much like we find the notion of a Queen, but there are a bunch of reasons to cheer on the World Cup and here are some of my reasons (and their German translation given that World Cup will be held in Germany this year):

1) Region of Death (Lander des Todes) - Americans like fights and long odds. Well we got them. The USA is situated in one of the two toughest Groups (the round robin portion of the tournament) one could have. We face Ghana, the Czech Republic (turns out this indeed is a country) and Italy to get the next stage. Italy is having a few corruption problems and a nationwide shortage of gelatto so there's an outside hope. USA starts up on June 12th.

2) Revenge (Rache)- Lots of times in world history, stuff happens and a country really can't get back at the other side. World Cup lets a country get out its aggression in a healthy manner against a sworn enemy (unless of course war breaks out as a result of the soccer match as occasionally happens in Central America). Poland invades Germany in the first round and Angola plays its former colonial/brutal oppressor in Portugal. Last time Angola played Portugal the match had to be suspended. Who knew killing hundreds of thousands of people would leave such enmity?

3) Ronaldinho (Das Boot)- Brazil has won more World Cups than any other nation (Five in total. Germany is next with three). They play with a rhythmic style akin to the samba or Debbie Does Dallas (the good parts). This time Brazil is led by the young superstar known only as Ronaldinho. He may easily be the greatest player since Pele and only now is he reaching his prime. He is must see tv!

4) Juju (Das voodoo) - Ivory Coast is barely avoiding a civil war. As corny as it sounds the team really is a symbol of national unity as average citizens root on different ethnicities and religions (albeit only for their nation). Ivory Coast's President publicly apologized to a witch doctor, who had put a curse on the team in 2002, which directly resulted in the Ivory Coast making the tournament this year. According to the National Geographic Ivory Coast has used over 150 juju men to use magic, chicken blood, amulets and pigeon ears to ensure victory. Africa's soccer body has banned them from following the team but when has rules or regulations stopped a shaman? I fully expect that an Ivory Coast player will tear and possibly devour the heart out of a defeated foe.


So for all these reasons and more check out World Cup.

With all the cheering here's just a short list of my Jeers: Jeb Bush being contacted about the NFL commissioners office (there are so my problems with that I don't know where to begin), any interview involving Mark Cuban, traffic in Atlanta (where I'll be headed this weekend), and myself when I'm forced to agree with Steven A. Smith (when he defended Lebron James against a ridiculous argument from Ric Bufford that Lebron pulled a Kobe against the Pistons in Game 7).

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Choice

Remember, death is not an option:

You're a die-hard Cubs fan, at Comiskey Park, and Frank Thomas steps up to the plate for the A's.

(Thanks to Tribune columnist Steve Rosenbloom for the theme)

Monday, May 22, 2006

Sunday Night Baseball/Holy Cow The Royals Are Bad

I went to the Yanks-Mets game last night so I didn’t watch ESPN’s broadcast of the game. I was told that Peter Gammons was doing his usual one-sided reporting last night, blathering on like the Red Sox fan that he is. Apparently he said something to the effect of how ARod would have been more appreciated with Boston than he is with New York.

Honestly, how is Peter Gammons in the Baseball Hall of Fame with that kind of commentary? Besides the fact that his statement is completely untrue, that so-called pearl of wisdom does nothing to further the analysis and understanding of the game of baseball.

I won’t spend any words arguing why Gammons’ sentiment is utterly ridiculous; it should be self-evident. I will simply end with a question: how is it that a truly worthy Bostonian (Jim Rice) can’t make the Hall of Fame despite being one of the most productive players of his generation but that ancient, drunken deformity of creation (Peter Gammons) is so honored? Truly stupefying.


* * * * *


Not that this should be any surprise but I was checking the standings today and saw that the Kansas City Royals are already 18 games out of first place through the first 41 games of the season (25% of the season in the books). For those scoring at home, that puts the Royals elimination number at 103. It’s hard to believe that the Royals might be mathematically eliminated in mid to late August at their current rate of futility. Goddamn it must suck to be a baseball fan in Kansas City. Then again, their GM has made so many unacceptably bad trades^ that it’s no wonder the Royals stink.

^Johnny Damon and Mark Ellis to Oakland for Angel Berroa was bad...Jermaine Dye for Neifi Perez was worse. How GM Allard Baird kept his job, I have no idea...

Sunday, May 21, 2006

The Drought



It was apropos that King James and the Cavaliers would take part in the "Great Drought". Five field goals and 23 measly points was all they could muster in the second half of a do or die Game 7 against the defending Eastern Conference champs. The event can now be formally catalogued and classified with the other heart breaking Cleveland sports playoff memories. To be fair the Cavs were never the favorites and never at the point were they should have won. The scrappy Cavs stoked the embers of championship hope to the city that has been the hand maiden of Victory for over forty years. Three straight victories over a lifeless bunch of no shows meant even the hardened cynic thought (albeit privately) maybe, just maybe they can do it. However after being up only two at halftime, the Pistons remembered who they were and the drought and route were on.

As Lebron exited stage left for the season ABC flashed the equivalent of finger nails on the chalkboard: The Drive, The Fumble, Mesa and Game 7. Of course the hardened fan remembers the broken foot of Jim Chones after the Miracle at Richfield in 1976, "Red Right-88"interception in 1980, the Fumble II, "The Collapse" against Pittsburgh not to mention just out and out losing to the Braves. This playoff run, though, the ashes weren't as bad. Of all the major sports, basketball is the one most built for dynasties. The Celtics or Bull teams dominated in ways that are unequaled in the other sports for a reason. Good basketball teams win in the NBA, fluke upsets are rare, and it takes a long time for a champion to be dethroned. The fact that a complete rematch of last year's conference championships is a distinct possibility should surprise no one. As such one doesn't expect an upstart team in its first playoff appearance to zig zag through the playoffs to collect a title. As long as Lebron stays put, the city could witness the equivalent of a deluge in the Sahara - a championship. That's the big if though, will King James sign and stay in his home? Given the NBA's history and the "Larry Bird Rule" it's likely, but its Cleveland sports and nobody knows when or if it'll rain.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Cheers and Jeers: White Russian Edition


Dude, We have a concern
White Russian:

Well the Detroit Pistons have somehow morphed for an unstoppable juggernaut to Brandt of Big Lebowski fame. When the Cavs first showed up in the second round asking questions about the Little Lebowski urban achievers and wondering why someone micturated on their rug, Brandt err the Pistons laughed it off and mildly shooed them out the door. When the Cavs won a game, Rasheed Wallace reminded the Pistons "that their life was in their hands", just do what they're supposed to do and they'll be fine. Now, though, you can clearly see from the look on Tayshaun Prince's face or McDysess' expression, someone mailed them a toe and their wondering how to keep the plane from crashing into the mountain. I'm expecting that eventually the strumpet will come home and all will be well for Brandt but hey stranger things have happened….


Jeers: To Mighty Mike. Man did I blow bashing the second round of the NBA playoffs. It has been fun, entertaining and close. Well except for the Heat-Nets series. I nailed that one like the Matt Leinart on Paris Hilton. I just hope that we get we get a Game 7 in the Clippers - Suns series so that I can actually stay awake for the conclusion of their game….

Jeers: To current baseball players voicing support for Barry. Stop. You are embarrassing yourself. I know it’s a big fraternity thing and its expected to get your brothers back but just keep it private. It insults the intelligence of anyone listening followed quickly makes you seem either ignorant or have something to hide. So just stop.

Cheers: To Lewis Black. Just watch the Clip. He's great

Cheers: World Cup Soccer. Tune in Sunday/Monday for my reasons for watching that crazy game the rest of the world enjoys.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Required Reading For All Past/Present NBA Fans

Required reading for anyone that loves (or loved) the NBA. As a former die-hard NBA fan, I really enjoyed reading about Sleepy Floyd’s 51 point game in the 1987 playoffs.

Baseball News & Notes

Detroit Tigers: With a 6-4 win over the Minnesota Twins, the Tigers pushed their way into a tie for first place in the AL Central. This is the first time the Tigers have held first place this late in the season since 1993, which was also the last year they had a winning record. Think about that for a second. May 17th constitutes “this late in the season” for the Tigers. Crazy to think how bad the Tigers have been for all this time…

Tampa Bay Devil Rays: The D-Rays held on to beat the Chicago White Sox 10-7 in a game where they led the defending champs 10-1 going into the 8th inning. D-Rays pitcher Scott Kazmir pitched 7 innings of 5-hit ball, walking 2 and striking out 8. Kazmir ran his record up to 6-2 with a 2.73 ERA and 56 K’s in 56 IP. In other news, Mets pitcher Victor Zambrano is out for the season and his career may be finished. What a lousy trade that was. The responsible party, former Mets GM (and current Orioles GM) Jim Duquette is completely unemployable in my eyes...

Cleveland Indians: The Tribe solved their nagging Kansas City problem by beating the Royals 6-4 in a come-from-behind win. With reliever Rafael Betancourt back from the DL, perhaps the Indians can get back to winning baseball and forget this rough patch which has left them below .500.

New York Yankees: Down 9-0 after two innings and 13-12 in the bottom of the 9th with 2 outs, the Yanks rallied to win the game 14-13 on Jorge Posada’s walk-off 2-run homer off Rangers closer Akinori Otsuka. Given their patchwork lineup (Matsui, Sheffield, and Giambi all missed the game due to injuries), it’s remarkable that the Yankees were able to win this game from so far behind.

What does this all add up to? Baseball’s a funny game where good teams like the Indians and Yankees get their brains beaten in by inferior teams and cruddy teams like the D-Rays can always count on winning at least one game per week, even against stiff competition, thanks to the stupidity of the New York Mets.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

IF David Stern Had a Time Machine

Stern just announced that the NBA will be, barring approval, changing the playoff format for next season, due to the shortsightedness of allowing the division winners to have the top 3 seeds. Now, a division winner can only go as low as the 4th seed. Of course, I would have gone for broke, and allowed division winners to be seeded as low as 8th. However, Stern wants to give some credit to the division winners, and this is certainly a big difference. This certainly does solve the problem of teams having an incentive to LOSE, as there was this year (the Clippers lost a bunch of games to finish in the 6th spot to face the Nuggets, and avoid playing Dallas in the 4-5 game). Even if you wanted to finish in the 5th spot, as opposed to the 3rd spot in the new rules, that seems like it would be difficult to do, and would require the loss of too many games, because the 6th seed would have a LARGE incentive to get into the 5th spot to play a weak 4-seed.

Anyway, the important question is what would have happened this season if David Stern had a time machine to change the rules. For instance, the Western conference would have turned out completely different. Let's just explore what would have happened:

1-San Antonio vs. 8-Sacramento – same outcome, with the Spurs winning in 6.
4-Denver vs. 5-Memphis – Eeesh. This could have been a wild series. As a matter of fact, instead of Denver GM Kiki Vandewegehe losing his job, he would have had his job 2 extra weeks until the Nuggets got bounced in the 2nd round. Memphis would have also won their 1st and 2nd playoff games, resulting in Memphis’s minute coach Mike Fratello going out and getting wasted because he usually performs poorly in the first round. And by the first round, I mean the playoffs in general. Fratello must be the "Czar" of regular season coaches who can't succeed in the post-season. He may even be worse than Marty Schotenheimer, who at least appears in conference championship games. I mean, Fratello had Dominique Wilkins in his prime!

3-Phoenix Suns vs. 6-LA Clippers – Aye carumba! This would have been a wild and wacky 1st-round series. Of course, the argument could be made that the LA Clippers would have actually won more games down the stretch to avoid the Suns. Phoenix in 7 (who knows?).

2-Dallas Mavs vs. 7-LA Lakers – This would have resulted in the Lakers getting demolished, as opposed to witnessing some of those insane Laker-Suns games that we saw this year. Dallas in 5.

San Antonio over Denver in 5. Carmelo Anthony tells everyone he's proud that he's not the next Tracy McGrady, because he can at least win in the playoffs.
Dallas over Phoenix in 6. Mark Cuban is finally happy, as his new, young PGs outplay, outwit, and outlast MVP and former Dallas Maverick Steve Nash.

And then San Antonio would have had more momentum, possibly, to overtake Dallas because Dallas’s secret weapon, Devin Harris, would already have been exposed and then exhausted, from dealing with Nash and Barbosa in Round two! Could the David Stern time machine have allowed San Antonio to make it to the NBA Finals??? The world may never know.

Who Can You Trust?

Murray Chass of The New York Times wrote a piece today that, coupled with a conversation Colonel Sanders and I had last week, made me write this post.

Let me begin by saying that I like Albert Pujols a lot and that I am not accusing him of anything. But I simply refuse to blindly accept it on faith when Chass writes, “He has achieved his numbers free of the suspicion of the use of steroids or any other illegal performance-enhancing substances. In that sense, he is a refreshing superstar who can say, ‘I don’t cheat.’”

What makes people so sure that Albert Pujols doesn’t use performance-enhancing drugs? Because he hasn’t tested positive? (Neither has Barry Bonds). Because he doesn’t have a freakishly sculpted physique? (Neither did Randy Velarde, Bret Boone, Roger Clemens, or countless others who also never tested positive). Because he’s been putting up amazing numbers since his rookie year? (So did Jose Canseco, who started cheating in his second season).

Again, I would like to reiterate that I am neither accusing nor attacking Albert Pujols. I am merely using him to make a point about trust and blind faith. Major League Baseball, each team’s management, the players union, and every writer that covered baseball from the mid-1980’s-present took part in a conspiracy that not only permitted the use of steroids but condoned their use. Furthermore, baseball and all of its diverse participants and competing factions all agreed that steroids were “good for business” as it were, and that steroid use was one of the few issues they could all agree on. After covering up its rampant use, I won’t accept baseball’s patent rejection that the game is free and clear of steroids and that all players, even the great Albert Pujols, should now be above suspicion.

Baseball writers lament the fact that we now live in an age where every single statistic is subject to doubt and suspicion. Yet no one suspects Pujols for the fact that he is hitting home runs at the rate of one every 6.63 AB’s (his career HR/AB rate is 14.69). Obviously it is too soon to tell if Albert Pujols will challenge Barry Bonds’ single-season HR record but I would hope that skepticism will rain down upon Pujols in the same fashion in which it has inundated Bonds. I know that it will not – Bonds’ boorish personality stands in marked contrast to Pujols’ pleasant and gracious demeanor – but it would be hypocritical and selectively unjust otherwise.

The Champs are on the Ropes

For the past four years or so, the NBA has been ruled by the functional equivalent of jello. Jello is a great food, very fundamentally sound, part of any nutritional meal but it really lacks form or substance. Nobody when thinking of the greatest deserts of all time demand Jello. The Spurs and the Pistons have been everything most sports writers/fans nominally want. Hard working, technically sound, no jerks, all for one and one for all, etc, etc. However there's something missing (and no its not an East Coast team in the championship). Maybe we want the superstar to rise above things or a little spice that the era of team ball has not provided. Well after last night the hegemons are taking it on the chin. The Pistons expected to waltz through the Cavs like a hot knife through well Jello (and no I can't think of why you'd have a hot knife cutting Jello) and instead got a rude awakening. Maybe the Pistons will try hard finally or come up with a game plan but the Pistons assuredly have lost that air of invicibility they wore earlier in the playoffs.

Meanwhile in the Lone Star State the biggest rivalry in the NBA today (outside of our MJ and Shaq) between the Mavs and Spurs has seen a big shift in the wind. For years Old Man Pop's squad of international superhero's has stomped on Mark Cuban's head. However the tables have turned. Its the Spurs that can't adjust to the Mavs style of play. Its the Mavs that are playing the tough defense and coming up with the clutch shots. Its the Spurs that are looking around for a miracle drug to somehow stop the Mavs (I'd recommend calling Barry but thats just me). Not to say the Bipolar world of Pistons and Spurs is over, this year or in the future but there's a whiff of change in the air.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

The Blame Game

Well its Sunday and I'm staring at my computer trying to think about what I am want to write about for this week in sports. Barry Bonds? Too over-covered. Larry Brown's possible firing? Too predictable. Rasheed Wallace's victory guarantee? Too insane. So instead I'll just zero in on a few people I blame for this week's doing.

Cliff Robinson
: After Game 1, where the Nets throttled the Heat, I thought hey maybe the Nets have a serious chance at winning this series. Then the Nets lose a close one. Then Cliff Robinson gets himself suspended for failing a drug test. Of all the dumb things you can pull Cliff gets top marks. Not to say that the Nets were cruising to the finals but the Nets lost a crucial member of their ridiculously thin front court. Cliff gets suspended, Nets get the boot, Cliff gets the blame and Pat Riley cuts his smoking back to only 17 packs a day.

Kenny Rogers: Its Mid-May and guess who has the best pitching staff in the American League? Statistically its the Detroit Tigers. Go look it up. I didn't believe it either. I didn't see that one coming. Kenny has not only done a good job holding up his end in the game but has helped Mike Marouth turn the corner into a quality pitcher. Marouth's delivery, stance (its now to the left of the mound) pitch selection, etc all bare Rogers finger prints. Damn you Kenny.

Avery Johnson: This year's coach of the year has the Mavs up 2-1 and on the verge of finishing off the Spurs. Normally its hard to exactly pin point the difference a coach makes but not this series. Avery substituted in Devin Harris into the starting lineup and since then Devin has out played, out-hustled and out gunned Tony Parker. Of course the question is, by beating San Antonio would Avery Johnson be messing with Texas and if thats the case Avery Johnson will get a lot of blame (not to mention an arrest) for violating the new constitution (also known as Executive Order 716).

Lebron James: Lebron somehow made the Cavs-Pistons bloodbath into a series. Sure it might only last the time period from the end of Game 3 to the start of Game 4 but thats pure joy to this little Clevelander. King James only had a triple double and led the Larry Hughes-less Cavs to victory over The Combine. Now of course this has sent Wallace into deep search as to which Mike Tyson line to use (ultimately he decided on the I'll eat your children line). Nonetheless I assume the Pistons will come out strong in Game 4 but as long as Lebron can pull off a quadruple-double the Cavs can even the series. Why does he get the blame? Mostly because my hopes are now up.

Friday, May 12, 2006

There Is No End To Dan Shanoff's Stupidity, Or, Why Barry Shouldn't Wear Pinstripes

Because it wouldn’t be a day without me insulting the intelligence of Dan Shanoff, I give you the latest installment of his nitwit observations and idiotic theories:

“Bonds to the Yankees?

Yankees LF Hideki Matsui broke his left wrist last night and, based on reports, will be out anywhere from three months to the entire season.

It’s an outsize blow, because if anything, Matsui was the rock of the Yankees. Matsui had played 518 straight games...until now. Sheffield is on the DL. Johnny Damon reinjured his shoulder and foot last night.

So before the New York tabloids jump on it, let me be the first to make the case:

The Yankees should try to trade for Barry Bonds.

Start with this: The Yankees could use him; they now have a gaping hole in left field, potentially for the rest of the season.

Not only that, but Bonds could occasionally take advantage of the AL’s DH rule to avoid fielding and just take at-bats, particularly with Yankee Stadium’s friendliness to left-handed hitters.

(That would avoid embarrassments like Thursday, when Bonds stumbled all over the outfield as he played in a rare afternoon game, the day after he played in a night game. It showed a painful defense and he went 0-3.)

Bonds is an albatross. He has eclipsed the franchise, turning it into a national embarrassment. Giants owner Peter Magowan even broached the subject of letting Barry walk away (albeit in the off-season) on Tuesday, saying “I’ve always been open to the possibility of him being in another uniform.”

(Interestingly, when Bonds said Tuesday that he’d be open to exploring free agency in the AL as a DH, many fans thought of the Yankees as a natural fit. Why wait until December? Why can’t it fit right now?)

To me, that says: Make him an offer, Brian Cashman.

Finally, is there any pair more made for each other than Bonds and the Boss? The most hated player on the most hated team. And if there were any city or franchise that is bigger than any one player -- and big enough to absorb the biggest, baddest story in sports -- it’s the Yankees.

“Bonds on Bronx” for the rest of 2006 is an outrageous-sounding proposition that makes an outrageous amount of sense.”


Why on earth would the Yankees want to trade for Bonds if the very reason Bonds would seek refuge in the AL in the first place would be to hide his atrocious defense, which Shanoff himself labeled an “embarrassment”?

Dan Shanoff is just stupid enough to make a point, contradict himself, staunchly argue in defense of his own contradictory argument, and then throw in a non-sequitur for good measure. Harvard University must be so proud of their graduate.

But seriously, let me stop ripping on ESPN’s worst and most pathetic writer. Barry Bonds would offer nothing in the way of relief for the Yankees. Bonds is defensively challenged and, at this point, isn’t much of a hitter.

The best bet for the Yanks is to call up a minor leaguer to hold down the fort for a few days while things play themselves out. Instead of making a big splash for someone like Bobby Abreu or Alfonso Soriano, Brian Cashman should make a value move, like the one he made in trading for Shawn Chacon. Trading for someone like Craig Wilson, Frank Catalanotto or Lew Ford might be a good pickup for the team and won’t require the Yanks to sacrifice anything significant from the minor league system.

Although the reality is that the Yanks’ run of eight straight division titles and 11 straight postseason appearances might be coming to an end, the 2006 team was well-constructed and simply encountered some bad luck. With a bit of patience and distance, Cashman might be able to fortify the team for the short term without sacrificing the long term future of the ball club.

Cheers and Jeers: Jager Bomb Edition

Ingredients:
1 shot Jägermeister
1 bottle Beer

I feel like a series of rants coming on and Jager is the drink of anger. Davey Jones once wrote "Jager is like the ocean, you don't turn you back on it". Why you ask? Because jager will make you pay.The chief export of Jager, like Chuck Norris, is pain. You don't eat cucumber sandwhiches with Jager. Jager is the only substance that has the same intesity as MJ Brand Frosted Anger Flakes (the ceral with surliness). And now the listing of grievances.

Jeers: NBA second round playoff has honestly sucked. I think there has been one close game. Call the game if a team has a lead of more than 5 because the only thing that will happen is that lead will increase by 5 factorial. I'd rather participate in a type of proctology exam involving fire ants than watch a 20 point win by the Heat.

Jeers: To Kevin Garnett. How's Sam Cassel doing with a big man (Brand) oh yeah he's winning the playoffs. How about Chauncey Billups and Flip Saunders? Ditto. Its only poor Garnett wallowing in his own pity thats at home. Sure Kevin Mchale has the brain pattern of an autistic monkey (which not only qualifies him for the Minnesota GM job but also a top advisor position at the White House). But until Garnett wins the playoffs (read gets to the finals) he's nothing more than a tall Tracey McGrady.

Jeers: The White Sox. After winning the world Series I figured the only way for good and evil to be balanced out was that the South Side team would lose for 3 centuries. Jim Thome post-backeatomy apparently is slugging like there is no tommorow. The only thing that equal the pain I feel over these events is listening to a 3 hour lecture from Brittney Spears on the wonders of motherhood.

Jeers : To that Jerkoff Judge who is threatening imprisonment if the author's of Game of Shadows don't reveal their sources. Its bad enough we are pestered with puff piece journalism of Peter Gammons or Sports Center's yellow dog Why Barry Bonds loves children but now with the threat of imprisoning investigative journalism the last remanant of good journalism may go the way of the dodo.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Barry Bonds, DH?

Dan Shanoff of the Daily Quickie asks an interesting question. While I don’t agree with his response, I’ll let you all read before I drop in my own thoughts at the end…

The new story line of Barry Bonds playing in 2007 as a DH in the AL took an interesting turn yesterday.

“I don’t have another year on my contract. If I don’t get one and I get one somewhere else, that’s where I’ll play.” He added, “Oh, yes,” when asked if he could sustain himself for 155 games as a DH. Giants owner Peter Magowan responded: “I’ve always been open to the possibility of him being in another uniform.”

I can take my Bonds theory of “you hate him, but you love to watch” to an entirely new level.

SportsNation’s current poll results show that two-thirds of fans wouldn’t want Bonds to sign with their team as a DH. But that doesn’t say anything about how they would feel if he did sign with them.

I’m willing to bet whichever team he ends up with, that team’s fans would do a complete 180 on any Bonds-bashing from this season and embrace him in precisely the same way they do in San Francisco.

It works the other way, too: If Bonds left town, I suspect Giants fans would turn on Bonds so fast that he wouldn’t know what happened. And they’d get some much-needed psychological relief in doing so.


So, what if Barry Bonds becomes a free agent and seeks out a DH role on an American League club next year? Will A’s or Angels fans embrace him? Will Mighty, Gutsy and Laz embrace him if he becomes a member of the Tribe (of the Cleveland Indians variety, that is)?

I think Shanoff’s wrong on this one (big shocker there). I think Bonds has generated enough ill will around the game that most people won’t embrace him in any new city he chooses to play for. Of course, this is tempered by the fact that most Midwestern cities don’t boo their own players very often. Instead, I posit that if Bonds ends up in an AL Central city, he’ll simply get the polite clap but will never fully earn the love of his new hometown fans.

While I can’t speak for the rest of the AL East, I suspect that Yankee fans will not warm to Barry Bonds at all and will not hesitate for one second to boo him. I know I certainly won’t hesitate to boo him all the way back to California. For not only would Bonds represent an unnecessary piece to the Yankees roster, he would also be the player who cheated past our favorite icon, Babe Ruth, and that would be the ultimate treason to all die-hard Yankees fans.

In the end, I have a hard time seeing Bonds leaving the San Francisco area or the West Coast in general. I think the Angels and A’s represent the most likely destinations for him, provided that he does not demand an outrageous salary.

Donnie The Whale & Other Angry Rants

1. After reading that the Sacramento Kings are considering Don Nelson as their replacement for recently-fired Rick Adelman, I just had to chuckle. A bloated whale of a drunk with a career 70-85 record in the playoffs (including no NBA Finals appearances and only four conference finals appearances in 27 seasons) seems to me an odd choice. A guy who famously ruined the Golden State Warriors and the New York Knicks in less than 24 months and who somehow conned his way into Dallas gets yet another chance to coach a team in the NBA. What is this, the NFL? Are there no younger candidates out there? Are there no persons of color available? Why entrust a team that has finally enjoyed a period of prolonged success to a guy that is known for being off-the-wall crazy?

The Kings finally, FINALLY, added a defensive presence to their team and shed the “soft” label. So they’ll follow up that achievement by bringing in a guy whose teams haven’t played defense in thirty years? Yeah, just what the Kings need – to go back to being a run-and-gun team with centers shooting threes and power forwards playing point guard, all the while losing 130-120 because Don Nelson wants to convince us all that he’s a true genius.

2. Honestly, Roger, just shut up. We don’t need another Brett Favre here. Just make up your mind and, please, for all of our sakes, do so privately and quietly. If and when you decide to play, let us know. But until then, zip it.

3. Finally, a special thanks to Juan Pierre for prolonging the inevitable by at least one more day. Since I sincerely doubt that anyone except for San Francisco Giants fans are rooting for Barry Bonds, we all get our wish for one day more. Keep up the good work, little Cub.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Baseball Thoughts...

1. Since Mighty brought it up, I thought it might be fun to look at Victor Zambrano’s season-ending injury in the context of what might have been for the New York Mets.

Obviously there is never a way to predict the future success of a young player and the success a young player may experience in one setting may not translate to another setting. Despite that, I’d like to match up Zambrano’s numbers with Devil Rays ace Scott Kazmir’s, the pitcher the Mets traded down to Tampa in July 2004. These numbers reflect major league totals only.

Zambrano: 201.2 IP/ 10 W/ 4.42 ERA/ 1.493 WHIP/ .264 BAA/ 141 K
Kazmir: 261.1 IP/ 16 W/ 3.96 ERA/ 1.500 WHIP/ .257 BAA/ 254 K

It is clear that the Mets got completely ruined in this trade, getting marginally less performance from an older pitcher who was never projected to be a front-line starter. The Devil Rays now have their ace for the next few years and Kazmir should only get better as he becomes more comfortable against major league hitters.

It’s also clear that former Mets GM Jim Duquette earned his firing with this trade alone. Although the speculation is that Kazmir exhibited poor work habits in the Mets minor league system and that the team grew tired of his prima donna attitude, the Mets never successfully sold this trade to the fans and, well, the results now speak for themselves.

Considering the fact that the Mets division-title hopes rest in finding a suitable replacement for Zambrano in the rotation, it’s fun to wonder what might’ve been if the rotation went Pedro-Glavine-Kazmir.

2. I’m really sick and tired of the media attention being paid to Josh Beckett’s upcoming start for the Red Sox tonight in the Bronx. Everyone keeps on talking about how he’s unafraid and how he’s returning to the site of his past glory. Jeez, he won the only game he ever pitched at Yankee Stadium so it’s hardly a fair sampling of things to come for him in the Bronx. Granted, it was the clinching game of the 2003 World Series, but really, why are we anointing someone with 44 career wins as heroic because he’s carrying a 1-0 career record vs. the Yankees?

And, for the record, no matter what media types would have you believe, no matter what happens tonight, Josh Beckett is not adjusting as well to the American League. Check for yourself:

2001-2005: 3.46 ERA/ 1.235 WHIP/ 2.72 K:BB/ 8.97 K:9/ 1.14 GB:FB/ .673 OPSA
2006: 4.87 ERA/ 1.297 WHIP/ 1.44 K:BB/ 5.59 K:9/ 0.98 GB:FB/ .760 OPSA

For Beckett/Red Sox fans, I would note the alarming drop in K:BB and K:9 and the nearly 100-point increase in opponents’ OPS. Good stuff for the rest of us...

Another Bonds Rant

I was just looking at the ESPN website and came upon a story regarding what could be worse than Bonds chase of history with the help of roids and I felt sick to my stomach after reading it. Has ESPN become the PR outlet for Barry Bonds? After reading this article, am I supposed to feel that it is ok Bonds will break the record on roids. The author (who I believe is trying to promote his book about Tris Speaker) states a few reasons why Bonds "isn't that bad" of a guy.

The first reason was the black sox scandal of 1919. While this was horrible for baseball, it was just for a series whereas Bonds' juicing affected his statistics for 5 years. He brings up the fact that many of the early WS might have been marred by gambling induced chicanery. This doesn't have to with a player's career just one or two games that were fixed.

He also brings up when Speaker threw a game in the 1912 WS. And mentions that Speaker and Ty Cobb were accused of fixing the game.

This article clearly does not parallel to the Bonds situation at all. Bonds is accused of enhancing his performance throughout his career, affecting the outcome of his overall stats not just one series or one game. The fixing of games in the early 20th century just affected those games. To say that baseball was much worse back in the day is ignorning the problem at hand with Bonds.

If the author wants to point out that baseball has a problematic past then maybe he should point out the instances where Ty Cobb ran up into the stands and beat people up, the death threats that Hank Aaron received, and the fact that many African Americans had to disguise themselves as American Indians to play in the early years. I believe these problematic instances show that baseball hasn't been all that great. Not excerpts from "Tris Speaker: The Rough and Tumble Life of a Baseball Legend".

An Athletic Department Adrift: Indiana University

Let me start by saying that I think new Indiana University coach Kelvin Sampson is a pretty good coach. He did a good job at Oklahoma, which had not been much of a basketball school in recent memory. But I wonder why IU would want to go through the trouble of firing Sampson, should the NCAA lay down the hammer on OU. If IU had any doubts or questions about Sampson’s integrity or the integrity of the program he ran in Tulsa, why hire him? If the NCAA uncovers enough dirt on the OU men’s basketball team to warrant sanctions, how would IU benefit by firing their newly-hired coach?

To me, it’s just another example of how badly the IU athletics department has been run since Myles Brand ran Bobby Knight out of town. IU never should’ve hired Sampson if they were so worried about his character, reputation, and integrity. Even if he was the best possible choice for basketball reasons, it’s never good to start off a new business relationship by reserving the right to fire someone before the job even starts.

IU should’ve gone for Steve Alford or, quite frankly, for Sampson’s replacement at OU, Jeff Capel. To hire someone that they seem prepared to fire is only going to continue the downward trend of what was once the NCAA’s crown jewel program.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Weekend Update

I am pleased to report Mighty Mike and I returned safely from Ann Arbor. In Michigan, Mighty sang "Hail to the Victors" and was forced to wear a "Michigan Dental" T-shirt. Juice was also served. I hope he changed before I-23 hit Toledo. I fear for his safety and that of the Jewish llama.

1) Cleveland Steamers vs. Washington Bullets

The only possible improvement in this series would have been a game 7. Watching 2 evenly matched teams go punch for punch got me excited to watch the Pistons knock the living snot out of the winner.

Washington lost all 3 games by 1 point.

Congrats to Cleveland. Enjoy the Pistons and watch out for your cornhole.

2) Mavs v. Spurs

Great game. Great series. Spurs defense really shut down the Mavs in the 4th. I'm looking forward to Dirk's response.

3) Nets v. who cares? the heat? Not watching. Chuck Norris walked into a Burger King, roundhouse kicked Shaq, order a Big Mac and was served.

4) The Expos finally won a series!! Ok, so it was against the Pirates but you take what you can get.

Is it Friday yet?

Sunday, May 07, 2006

The NBA's Definition of Traveling

After Hart’s posting late last week, I decided to go to NBA.com, and discover the true definition of traveling. I really was just left speechless after I read the most complicated definition of traveling ever. I’ve now decided that the age-old “traveling means you used 2 steps” is one of the greatest urban myths about the NBA. Apparently, all of the players, including Lebron, use this simple, 8-paragraph definition of traveling. Take a look. I was going to write something witty about it, but I think I'd be doing an injustice to the NBA's actual definition of traveling. (source: http://www.nba.com/media/rule_book_2005-06.pdf)

Section XIII—Traveling

a. A player who receives the ball while standing still may pivot, using either foot as the pivot foot.

b. A player who receives the ball while he is progressing or upon completion of a dribble, may use a two-count rhythm in coming to a stop, passing or shooting the ball. A player who receives the ball while he is progressing may use a twocount rhythm to start his dribble. The first count occurs:
(1) As he receives the ball, if either foot is touching the floor at the time he receives it.
(2) As the foot touches the floor, or as both feet touch the floor simultaneously after he receives the ball, if both feet are off the floor when he receives it.
The second occurs:
(1) After the count of one when either foot touches the floor, or both feet touch the floor simultaneously. A player who comes to a stop on the count of one when both feet are on the floor or touch the floor simultaneously, may pivot using either foot as his pivot. If he alights with both feet he must release the ball before either foot touches the floor. A player who has one foot on the floor or lands with one foot first to the floor, may only pivot with that foot. Once that foot is lifted from the floor it may not return until the ball is released. A player who jumps off one foot on the count of one may land with both feet simultaneously for count two. In this situation, the player may not pivot with either foot and if one or both feet leave the floor the ball must be released before either returns to the floor.

c. In starting a dribble after (1) receiving the ball while standing still, or (2) coming to a legal stop, the ball must be out of the player’s hand before the pivot foot is raised off the floor.

d. If a player, with the ball in his possession, raises his pivot foot off the floor, he must pass or shoot before his pivot foot returns to the floor. If he drops the ball while in the air, he may not be the first to touch the ball.

e. A player who falls to the floor while holding the ball, or while coming to a stop, may not gain an advantage by sliding.

f. A player who attempts a field goal may not be the first to touch the ball if it fails to touch the backboard, basket ring or another player.

g. A player may not be the first to touch his own pass unless the ball touches his backboard, basket ring or another player.

h. Upon ending his dribble or gaining control of the ball, a player may not touch the floor consecutively with the same foot (hop).

Truthiness Hurts

On Friday May 6th Bill Simmons over at espn.com prophetically wrote:
Which reminds me, if Kobe doesn't completely eviscerate Bell in Game 7, everyone on the planet is banned from making any more Kobe-MJ comparisons. We all know that MJ would have dropped 55 on Bell, shut down Nash on the other end and disemboweled D'Antoni for good measure. Kobe, if you're going to steal MJ's fist clench/shake from Game 1 of the 1998 Finals without asking, you need to take this all the way. You cannot lose Game 7. You can't. Even if you're playing 4-on-5 and Jax keeps refusing to play Vujacic.

Now Simmons lives in a world of truthiness. He's a sports fan that happens to be a great writer. I wouldn't say that Simmons exactly throws out facts and predictions that are well accourate but they have a "truthiness" to them. They seem plausible. However this quote was more than his usual truthiness, they were dead on. Not only did Kobe lose Game 7, his team got demolished. Kobe, in the second half, was sulked, barely shot, didn't drive the ball to the hoop and scored one point in the second half. Let me repeat that, one point on three shots in the second half of a game 7. Thats not MJ. That's not even an MVP. When a raging ego-maniac comes face to face to with his limitations the result is ugly. The question is why would any player want to go to LA to play with Kobe now?

Meanwhile in a parallel universe known as the Eastern Conference, the Cavs met the Combine System known as the Detroit Pistons on Sunday. The analogy is actually pretty dead on. The Combine is an open system that threshes and harvests its target. The Pistons are a heartless machine that notices and exploits the weakness of whatever it encounters. The Cavs with soft perimeter defense and inconsistent supporting cast are barely an obstacle in the Pistons path to capture their second NBA title in three years. Nothing will stop them.


A few random comments: the loss of Zambrano to the NYMets is the biggest injury to date in MLB land I would argue. The Mets were looking to run away with the East before losing two starters. I expect a trade in the works. Brett Favre is thinking about maybe playing beyond next year? Its not even worthy of a rant but I hope the Packers fans put a stop to this since the Packers' front office obviously can't. Mark Shapiro should get punched in the arm for each hit Brandon Phillips gets. Phillips was given away for peanuts while the spot that Phillips would have had is hitting around .200.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Defying Expectations?

The NBA All-Rookie team was announced with the first team comprised of Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Charlie Villanueva, Channing Frye and Andrew Bogut. In making a bid for Celtics rookie Ryan Gomes, Dan Shanoff makes an amusingly silly argument. Of course this constitutes more of the usual from him, and he cements his place as arguably the silliest man to ever attend Harvard University:

“Gomes was a lightly regarded 2nd-round pick; after the All-Star Break, he became a rock for Boston at small forward, routinely putting up double digits in points and rebounds at the most competitive position in the NBA. Defying expectations should be a bigger factor in rookie team voting.”

If defying expectations meant anything then Atlanta’s Mike Woodson should get Coach of the Year honors because I’m sure everyone predicted the Hawks to finish with the league’s worst record (the Hawks overachieved to a 28th place finish out of 30 teams). Why stop there? Maybe the Defensive Player of the Year Award should go to Steve Nash because, hey, every once in a while someone he’s guarding doesn't score. Or, why not just make the All-Rookie first team the five lowest-drafted players that averaged 10 minutes per game? I mean, if you can find five second rounders that average 10 minutes per game then, hell, they must be better than lottery picks because they defied expectations.

Where on earth does he come up with this stuff?

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Travelling

I've been thinking about this ever since last night's Cavs-Wizards game, and though we're discussing it to an extent in the comments of Mikey's "Cheers and Jeers", I'm so bothered by the topic that I want to dedicate a post exclusively to it. And Gutsy, I'm not picking on you personally - but I want to begin with a quote from your most recent comment:

"When you are an NBA-superstar you get 3 steps ... everyone else gets 2.5 steps."

When I was growing up, both at school and in the NBA, the general rule was 1.5 steps, and maybe your superstars got 2 or 2.5. We were taught that after we picked up our dribble, we had to jump off the second step - and that if we didn't, and either stopped or jumped off the third, that was travelling. On TV, we saw our stars do the same thing.

When, and why, did the NBA get so lax on travelling? If Jordan and Bird and Magic and Co. got to push the envelope as superstars, nevertheless they'd never have gotten away with what LeBron did last night. So there's no misunderstanding, please do not take this as an indictment of LeBron - obviously, if he can get away with it, he should try. He is not responsible for not whistling his own violation of the rules.

I find basketball to be a much better, more challenging game when the 1.5 step rule is enforced as it is (or was) written. I don't understand why the league would ease up, particularly considering the renaissance of talent right now. LeBron, Kobe, Wade, 'Melo, Nowitzki - they will excel under the old rule as they do under the new. It's time the NBA lead the basketball world in returning to a fundamental rule that makes the game a whole lot better.

Enough Is Enough, Leave Leinart Alone!

I have to disrespectfully disagree with Dan Shanoff on the issue of Matt Leinart being a “loser”:

Matt Leinart could have been the No. 1 overall pick in the 2005 NFL draft. Instead? Well, let’s review…

-Lost national title to Texas
-Behind Young in Heisman vote
-Slipped to 10th in ‘06 draft
-Swallowed new jersey number

The latest: There are rumors he is involved with Paris Hilton. Insult? Injury? At this point, I’ve lost count of where we’re at.


While I agree that dating Paris Hilton doesn’t make someone a winner (you can practically see the diseases forming a dust cloud over her pelvic region), the rest of it certainly doesn’t make Leinart a loser.

It could be argued that Reggie Bush, and not Matt Leinart, lost the national title to Texas with that ridiculous attempt at a lateral deep in UT territory.

It could be argued that anyone expecting Leinart to win the Heisman was way off base since there has only been one repeat Heisman Trophy winner in history and Vince Young didn’t have to share the spotlight with anyone as talented as either Leinart OR Bush in 2005.

His draft slip to 10th may be a blessing in disguise because he not only goes to a better team than the Saints, Titans, Jets, Raiders, Bills or Lions (all teams that arguably could’ve used a QB) but he goes to a team that already has assets in place to compete for a division title in 2006. And, related to that, the better the surrounding cast is, the better the chance for Leinart to play well enough to earn that lucrative second contract which is what separates the Tim Couches and Cade McNowns from the Peyton Mannings and Tom Bradys.

Finally, so, he’s not #11 anymore – big deal.

The only thing Leinart lost out on was about $10-$20M. That's clearly a lot of dough and I'm sure it'll weigh on his mind when he realizes that he can only afford to buy one Bentley or Ferrari for each of the four houses he'll own by the time training camp rolls around. In the meantime, he got to be a college student and live the life of a celebrity BMOC in Los Angeles of all places. He had women throwing themselves at him, he got to party with stars and all he had to do was take two dancing classes in his senior year. Wow, what a loser. Plus, he got to do this while NOT being the starting QB for the pathetic San Francisco 49ers this past season.

There are more interesting sports stories going on all over the place – do we really need to call Leinart a loser because he got picked after Vince Young?

By the way, Norm Chow, good luck with that project pick...

Cheers and Jeers: Margarita Edition

Ingredients:
1 1/2 oz Tequila
1/2 oz Triple sec
1 oz Lime juice
Salt

Well to celebrate Cinco de Mayo some Margarita's are needed (possibly a corona or two as well). Cinco de Mayo has somehow evolved into probably the third biggest drinking holiday of the year. The tasty drinks, the festive palm trees and the celebration of defeating of the French are all worthy of enjoyment. I would argue only St.Patties Day (celebration of drinking and defeating snakes) and New Years (celebration of drunken hook ups and Dick Clark) best Cinco de Mayo in the probability of ending up on the bathroom floor partially naked. For the record Cinco de Mayo barely beats the Seis de Mayo or as we like to call it here in the states Send Mikey Your Leftover Coronas from Cinco de Mayo Day in the drunkometer.

Cheers: To Lebron. His baseline pirroute through four Washington Generals err Wizards sealed Game 5 in Cleveland. Almost two decades ago another 23 hit "The Shot" in a game 5 in Cleveland. As local Cleveland columnist Bill Livingston put it:

The scene could have been scripted in basketball heaven. The kid, self-described as such, had the ball, with the clock ticking down and the fate of his team in a playoff game in his hands.
He even wore No. 23.
You remember the first guy who wore that. Michael Jordan, hanging and scoring over Craig Ehlo. Fading away and scoring over Gerald Wilkins. He was Mike the Terminator, dealing in heartbreak for the Cavaliers the way villains deal in evil.
This time, it was LeBron James of the Cavaliers in the 23 jersey. The second coming. The commissioner of the NBA, David Stern, was at The Q to bear witness to the coming of the boy king.
Cheers: To Pete King. I give him a lot of flak for lots of things. Today I will walk on the side of hypocripsy. Most of us cringe when sports columnist bring in non-sports issues. I certainly have bashed him on his take on LT. But some issues I feel are too important to be ignored. The fate of New Orleans is one of them. The fact that I have search out for how the historic city is being treated is a shame. Sure its more pleasant to read about the Browns draft (finally) but those who reach broad diverse audiences have a responsibility and duty to use that audience on important issues.

Jeers: I will once again wade into controversy (two in one column. Who do I think I am, MJ?) on jeering Clemens. I will not compare Clemens hemming and hawing; demanding more star treatment and more money to that of Favre but thought did cross my mind. At what point is Clemens merely selfish as opposed to indecisive? Favre crossed that Rubicon this year. Has Clemens crossed that line? I'd say no, but he certainly is near.

Jeers: To ESPN's ombudsman. George "Henceforth Known as LickSpittle" Solomon sucked it up again by defending Stu Scott's Sportscenter poetry reading. I'm sorry there's no defending Stuart Scott's poetry. That should be immediate grounds for firings or deportation or deportation via being fired out of a cannon.

Cheers: A good friend of Publius and I is graduating from the Dental School from that school up north. I will only refer to said person by his porn name "Brown Snake" but needless to say we're all very proud of him.

Sports Business Report: Baseball

The Nationals finally have an owner not named “Major League Baseball.” Real estate developer Ted Lerner, together with former Atlanta Braves president Stan Kasten and a whole host of minority shareholders coughed up $450M and bought the former Expos from the 29 other major league clubs. The sale of the Nationals to the Lerner/Kasten consortium represented a gross profit of $330M for MLB which, even after tax and expenses, should still represent a nice little boost in revenue for each ballclub. Although the sale took far too long to come to fruition and probably cost the Nationals a legitimate chance at the post-season in 2005, it is good for baseball to rid itself of this gross conflict of interest.

Lerner’s group represented the best option among the eight groups seeking to buy the Nationals because of his ties to the Washington, DC area and the fact that he is the single-largest real estate holder and developer of private land in the capitol and surrounding suburbs. Basically, if there’s a building that doesn’t say “United States Department of _________” then you can bet Lerner has a piece of it. So now you can count on Lerner pouring cash into the neighborhood around the ballpark, making it his own personal playground. He’ll make sure that the area around the ballpark is safe, clean, pleasant for families and ultra-expensive for potential homeowners and businesses. None of this will impact the Nationals themselves but as long as Lerner’s happy with his investments then the Nats (an ancillary piece of his larger development puzzle) have a shot.

Unfortunately, it is my duty to predict a dire future for the team and Lerner’s investment. In the settlement between Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos, Commissioner Selig, and the 28 other team owners, Angelos walked away with 90% of the rights to the newly-created Mid-Atlantic Sports Network (MASN) which would broadcast both O’s and Nationals games in the Baltimore/Washington TV markets. The settlement called for Angelos to cede up to 33% of those rights to the future owner of the Nationals once the sale of the team was complete but that still gives Lerner only one-third of the revenues from his team’s broadcast rights and related TV advertising.

Further complicating matters is a separate lawsuit between Angelos and MASN, where the two disputing parties cannot agree to the cost of subscriber fees being charged to Washington, DC Comcast Cable subscribers. Thus, MASN has pulled all Nationals games from local television until this matter is resolved.

While the $450M pricetag did not include any significant debt obligations for the publicly-financed baseball stadium being built (DC taxpayers are on the hook for close to $620M for that puppy), Lerner will have to hit the ground running in order to make up for lost TV revenues. He’ll likely have to invest in a privately-held radio station with strong enough signals to reach into central portions of Maryland and Virginia and he’ll have to figure out creative ways to keep the stadium full while keeping costs down.

Without his fair share of the TV revenue, I don’t see how the Nationals will stay afloat. Perhaps the Nationals will be his labor of love and they will be subsidized by his real estate investments but, realistically, a businessman won’t keep a cinderblock tied around his neck for very long. It’s too bad for Washingtonians and baseball fans everywhere…

USS Steamer

I have really enjoyed watching Washington and Cleveland lock horns in this series. I believe it will go 7 and Cleveland will win. How in the world did James NOT step out of bounds while he tooled the entire Wizards team?? Amazing.

I still need to rant. The Steamers cost me one hour of sleep by being ass-clowns. Ok, wait... JAMES WILL BE DOUBLE TEAMED!!! This may come as a complete surprise but teams jump pick and rolls with 2 defenders. WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO? Shot the hostage? No... somebody needs to get open and make a shot.

Larry Hughes?
Snow?
Z? Where has Z been? Total non-factor.
Donyell "I can't hit my free throws with UCONN" Marshall?
ANYONE???

What about Alan Henderson? He has his patented Indiana baseline jumper ready!!!!

I know Snow had a fine overtime. I was relieved that way I didn't have to suffer into double overtime. Ladies and gentleman of the USS Steamer, when James is doubled someone needs to step up and WANT THE BASKETBALL (shot or drive and dish).

end communication.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Ass Clown

As some of you may or may not know, Yankees pitcher Carl Pavano has been out of action after sustaining a bruised left butt-cheek during spring training. Seriously, I'm not making this stuff up. Anyway, I found this on another site and had to share it...



Classic! Now, if there was some way I could forward this to Brian Cashman...if anyone deserves to be mocked about Carl Pavano, it's this complete dolt of a GM.

Pot Luck Wednesday

NFL News
Draft recap - having a tough time even deciding who did well, and who didn't. All I really know is that Buffalo kept choosing players that weren't slated to get drafted until much later. As Mighty already said, I hate Pittsburgh, because they keep drafting players that I like.

Anyways, If you went to NFL.com this weekend to check out the draftracker, you may have noticed an advertisement for a new EA Sports game, NFL Head Coach. Instead of playing the games, as you would in Madden, the idea of this game, is that you do everything that an NFL coach would do. I have so many problems, questions, and issues with this game.

1) Bill cowher is on the cover of this game. I’m only hoping that there’s an EA Sports curse. Who knows? Bill Cowher might lose his hearing during a game by a freak accident, and then would have to get placed on the Injured Reserve List for Coaches! The EA Sports curse is all powerful! [I hope].

2) I went to the EA Sports website to check out what you actually do in the game, but I’m still baffled, because it doesn’t seem like you actually play any games.

3) One item listed, is that when you play the game, you get to “motivate players.” I have no idea how this works. Is it like in Mortal Kombat, when you had to enter strange button combinations to do a fatality? Is it like a button masher, where you run around as Bill Cowher and must hit the right buttons while switching between psychology and reverse psychology? Could you choose to bribe the players with sex boat cruises?

4) The game says you get to participate in the draft war-room. That sounds cool, but why would you buy a game just to pretend to be in a war-room drafting fictious players??? Shouldn’t this be a multi-player game where you play online against others?

5) EA Sports also brags that you get to scout your opponents. So I guess you get to watch the computer play? This is just absurd!

NBA Playoffs
I can’t believe the Lakers have a 3-2 lead on the Suns. The Suns held off the Lakers late last night in what appeared to be another very physical game (Raja Bell and Kobe were both eventually ejected for amassing 2 technicals each). I think the Clippers-Lakers, if it happens, is going to be a great series. The time is ripe for the Clippers to continue the march. From what Bill Simmons says, it could get pretty surprisingly feisty in the crowd! There are many storylines, as Bill Simmons points out in his article this week (same building, Lamar Odom played for the Clippers, Kobe’s spurning the Clippers).

NHL Playoffs
Down goes the favorites! The Red Wings and Stars, who both enjoyed amazing years, both lost in the first round, in only 6 and 5 games respectively. Too bad I don’t have the Outdoor Life Network, because there really is no way to watch these games (on the weekend, the games are on NBC). I blame commissioner Gary Bettman. Its not quite as exciting for me to look up the boxscore online, as it would be to watch the tension of a real OT game.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Fools And Their Follies

You hear the old cliché all the time, that the role of an effective manager lies in his ability to put his employees in the best position for them to achieve success. This is true in both sports and corporate America. Unfortunately for the New York Yankees, management is failing to live up to its responsibilities.

It is well-documented that Joe Torre is a clueless customer when it comes to handling his bullpen. Time and again Torre blunders when it comes to making pitching changes, often placing misguided faith in veterans who should otherwise be on a short leash. The phenomenon, known as being one of “Torre’s guys” is the bane of Yankee fans’ existence. Clueless Joe gets fixated on certain pitchers (Paul Quantrill in 2004, Mike Stanton in 2005, and Tanyon Sturtze in 2006) and just runs them out there in tight spots when they’ve shown a remarkable consistency at blowing games.

Ultimately, however, Torre’s bad decisions are the fault of GM Brian Cashman. As the chief executive of all baseball-related decisions, it is Cashman’s responsibility to rid the Yankees of players like Sturtze. For if Torre is so obtuse as to not realize his pathetic dependence on lousy players such as Sturtze and Bernie Williams, then Cashman must act decisively to rid Torre of the temptation of constantly relying on his “guys.”

By permitting Torre to continue to rely on stiffs, Cashman sends the implicit message that it is acceptable to continue losing games due to managerial incompetence. Not to get all highbrow, but as Cicero wrote, “To stumble twice against the same stone, is a proverbial disgrace.” Brian Cashman permits his manager to stumble several times over but does not remove the stone on which his manager stumbles. For that, Cashman is the greater fool.