Wednesday, April 29, 2009

NBA Playoffs - 1st round Action Has Been Fantastic!

The 1st round of the NBA Playoffs has been very exciting and interesting this year. I thought I would take the time to highlight some of the more interesting developments:

1) The Dallas Mavericks may have beaten up on an injured Spurs team (with Ginobili out and Duncan at less than 100%), but I think the real story was the coaching adjustment by the Dallas Mavericks to place JJ Barea into the game. Who is JJ Barea? Good question. He's a young third year 6'0" player from Puerto Rico who went to Northeastern. The main reason his play was so helpful is that he is a lot quicker than Jason Kidd, so suddenly, the Mavericks had someone who could stay in front of Tony Parker. Yes, Tony Parker did torch the Mavs for 38 points in the Spurs only win, but JJ Barea saved Game 1. Moreover, JJ Barea went a team-best +17 in only 27 minutes in Game 1, +36 in only 33 minutes in Game 3, -6 in 24 minutes in Game 4, and a team-best +18 in 26 minutes in Game 5. I still don't think the Mavericks will get by Denver in the next round (I'm assuming Denver moves on). The important thing to note here is that the Mavericks were hiding an important asset all season.

2) I was surprised to learn when the playoffs started that the Blazers had still been insisting on starting rookie Nicolas Batum at SF each game and playing him about 18 minutes... while fellow rookie Rudy Fernandez plays 26 minutes off the bench. Apparently, most of Portland is upset about this and in the last game, Fernandez started over Batum in the 3rd quarter finally and it will be interesting to see what happens in Game 6 in Houston.

3) In game 5 Orlando had a 45-33 advantage based on Howard's 24 rebounds. But in game 4 Philly outrebounded Orlando 43-37, in game 3 it was even, in game 2 Orlando had a 44-37 advantage, in game 1 Philly outrebounded Orlando 37-35. I'm not sure if Orlando's struggles are based on Rashard Lewis and Turkoglu's injuries hampering them, but it almost seems like no one is helping Orlando's Dwight Howard rebound. It does not appear to be a good long-term strategy. I'm very excited though for a Game 7 between these teams, assuming Philly finds a way to win game 6 when Orlando is without Dwight Howard (suspension for lethal elbow) and SG Courtney Lee (face got destroyed by a different elbow from Howard).

4) Boston-Chicago has been an amazing series. Here is one good story (which mentions Stephon Marbury's bizarre reluctance to ever shoot). This story makes some comparisons between this instant-classic and the 2006 2nd round matchup between San Antonio and Dallas.

Monday, April 27, 2009

NFL Draft, NBA Playoffs - All for One Price

Well it was a busy sports weekend lots of happenings, non-happenings, and possible happenings depending on one's perspective. Here's a quick few thoughts

NFL Draft
I finally realized what The NFL Draft on ESPN reminded me of...salmon. Salmon swimming upstream. Salmon, mindlessly driven by some basic instinct and follow their genetic destiny upstream. While Herm Edwards was wearing a suit as opposed to an emblem while he made his incoherent rants and Todd Mcshay seemed to be on the verge of crying (possible due to the fact that Kiper killed his prize horse) it was an NFL Draft by the numbers. Belichek traded down (possibly with the belief that with enough 2nd round picks he could get better A/V equipment), the Bengals drafted talented but "misunderstood" players, Belichek discples blew up their teams (thank you Josh Mcdaniels for making the AFC West even more of a joke), and the Browns put a premium on loyalty over talent (13% of the current Browns players were backups for the Jets last year...yeah that's going to work). And much like spawning salmon, reporters/GMs performed the yearly circle jerk (X team is ecstatic over their draft).

NBA Playoffs
Most Dominating/Most Disappointing Series
The Cavs simply annihiliated the Pistons. An average margin of victory of 15.5 points over 4 games is simply unheard of in the playoffs. While props fall on Lebron with a historically well rounded performance or Joe Smith out of nowhere offensive explosion its hard not to point that the Pistons simply quit at the end.A sad ending to an impressive run for the once mighty Pistons

Most surprising Domination
I might be jumping the gun but hats off to Houston. Portland Houston had the makings of a close balanced series but it really hasn't been. Houston has simply been better. They've been better because nobody can stop Yao. While Dwight Howard gets the accolades (and deservedly so) its distinctly possible that it is Yao is the most dominating offensive big man in the game today.

Most surprising lack of domination
Orlando - Philly. I expected a red hot Chicago to give an aging KG-less Celtics fits. Philly putting Orlando through the ringer? Didn't have that. Philly barely eeked into the 6th spot and never seemed to be near greatness. Orlando? Orlando was one of the top teams in the league all year. Yes there's a few injuries but nothing preventing their players from playing. Nothing that would explain why the aging Andre Miller is owning Orlando. Or why outside of Howard there's very little in the way of defense or offense for the Magic.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Cheers and Jeers: Old Pal Cocktail

Cheers: To Publius' 30th Birthday this weekend. For those that are unaware Publius will hit the grand old age of 30. Which means Cheers and Jeers has been pals with him for over 12 years. Which makes him old - not old for this earth but still pretty old. Outside of occasionally wearing his pants at his navel or sometimes being found wandering aimlessly he's aged gracefully. So happy birthday buddy

Cheers: To the NBA playoffs. Yeah they go on and on but I can honestly say there are some cool story lines going into the weekend. Can the Lakers/Cavs finish off the weaker competition? What about the 4/5 seeds that seemed to have settled into competitive series. To the old timers (Spurs, Celtics) have one last run in them?

Cheers/Jeers: To the NFL draft. The hype makes supporting the draft over the top difficult and the current salary structures makes intrigue at the top well more transparent but I have feeling there will be enough trades, dealing and oddities that will make for fun fodder on Monday

Jeers: To firsts for Americans. In this case Jeremy Tyler who will skip his senior year of HIGH SCHOOL to go play in the EuroLeague. Seriously -your not even done growing yet. Chill out and wait just a bit longer....

Jeers: To bad help. Cracked has its list of top 6 evil henchman who sucked at their jobs.

And our C&J gal of the week...Eliza Dushku - who is apparently pre-emptively mourning the Browns draft picks.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Cavaliers Playoff Proposal

It's a busy Thursday. Consider this an open thread.

Potential topics include: 1) Chauncy Billups dominated Chris Paul, 2) Is Spring College Football hype or substance? 3) Mayo - quality condiment or the devil's sauce?

Monday, April 20, 2009

Mock Draft 2009 - Who's Your Favorite Steve Smith?

1. Detroit - Matthew Stafford, QB Georgia - Did anyone else see the highlights of Stafford destroying large plates by slinging footballs at them on Jimmy Fallon's late night TV show? That's so silly. I'm assuming almost anyone could do that. If I was running a late-night TV show, I would have them play Tecmo Bowl and show everyone how my guest can throw an 80-yard pass.

2. St. Louis - Eugene Monroe, OT Virginia - The Rams need lots of help and are assumed to just want one of the top O-linemen.

3. Kansas City - Aaron Curry, LB Wake Forest- I have no idea who the Chiefs want, I just know that Curry is supposed to be an amazing talent.

4. Seattle - Jason Smith, OT Baylor- Replacing Matt Hasselbeck seems like a smart idea. Granted, I really like backup QB Seneca Wallace. So, I think the Seahawks just grab an O-lineman to help rebuild what once was a great line.

5. Cleveland - Brian Orakpo, DE/LB, Texas - People think the Browns may take a WR here because the Browns may trade Braylon Edwards. I'm in the minority on this in Cleveland because I have little interest in trading Braylon Edwards, unless they are getting at least a 1st round pick in return. My belief is that last season is as bad as it gets, and if he drops half as many balls, Braylon will have 1200 yards easy every season. One of the main rumors is that Braylon will be traded to the Giants for either Domenick Hixon or Steve Smith (the one from USC) AND some draft picks. How do I feel about Steve Smith? I'm not too high on him. Here's how I rank various Steve Smiths and their value for the Cleveland Browns:

(7) Steve Smith, former fullback for the Raiders - He hasn't played since 1995, so it probably wouldn't be a good selection.
(6) Steve Smith, former hockey player, Defenseman on the Chicago Blackhawks in NHL '94 - Steve Smith was just okay at hockey, but he was tough and the Browns could use some toughness. I really liked using the Blackhawks in NHL '94, meaning I've probably spent more time with him than most members of my family.
(5) Steve Smith, WR NY Giants - His stats are just pedestrian so far, though he was awesome at USC. Granted, he's been playing behind a lot of different people on the Giants.
(4) Steve Smith, 14-year old son on the animated show American Dad - It appears likely that this awkward teenager knows Morse code, which could help the Browns send in plays during the season.
(3) Steve Smith, 19-year old cricketeer from Australia - He is an "all-rounder" which apparently means he is good at being a batsman and a bowler, which apparently means he can pitch, which apparently means he has arm strength. I'm guessing the Browns could convert this kid into an excellent QB, and by excellent I mean he could have a better QB rating than Charlie Frye's 72.
(2) Steve Smith, former Michigan State Spartan and NBA player (mainly Miami, Atlanta, Portland, and San Antonio) - I was always a big fan of Steve Smith, though his stats won't impress much. He somehow made Dream Team II ! He could do some solid PR work for the Browns, because currently, the PR department could use some top talent after last year's debacles with Winslow's staph infection and the GM trading emails with fans that included the F-word.
(1) Steve Smith, WR Carolina Panthers - Obviously the best Steve Smith WR. He's consistently a top-5 receiver. There's probably no way to get him.

6. Cincinnati - Andre Smith, OT Alabama- The Bengals line has been a train wreck. Literally. Of course, they could also draft a WR, but those are easier to find than starting linemen.

7. Oakland - Michael Crabtree, WR Texas Tech - The Raiders grab a top wideout, because they love taking flashy offensive talents in the 1st round (QB Russell, RB Darren McFadden, K Sebastian Janikowski, QB Todd Marinovich).

8. Jacksonville (forecast: trade to Washington) - Mark Sanchez, QB USC - If anyone is going to do something silly, it's the Redskins. They will probably trade next year's 1st round pick just to move up 5 spots. That's Dan Snyder style. Next question: how many bad games until someone makes a Dirty Sanchez joke?

9. Green Bay - DT BJ Raji, Boston College - I really have no idea.

10. San Fran - Jeremy Malin, WR Missouri - The 49ers may not get Sanchez, but they should be ecstatic to get a top-WR.

11. Buffalo - Robert Ayers, DE Tennessee - I have no clue.

12. Denver - Tyson Jackson, DE LSU - Sure, why not?

13. Washington (forecast: traded to Jacksonville) - Michael Oher, OT Ole Miss - I'm guessing the Jags just take an O-lineman after losing 4 to injury last season because there's uncertainty when 4 starting linemen are returning from injuries.

14. New Orleans - Malcolm Jenkins, CB Ohio State - The Saints always seem to need secondary help.

15. Houston - Clay Matthews, LB USC - I can't figure out which USC LBs will be drafted when. So, I will just say that Clay Matthews gets drafted since his dad played for the Browns.

16. San Diego - Chris Wells, RB Ohio State - Another RB is needed as we sadly prepare for the end of LT's stay in San Diego.

17. Jets - Josh Freeman, QB Kansas State- The Jets will reach for this QB.

Other notable offensive players:
19. Tampa - Percy Harvin, WR/RB Florida
21. Philadelphia - Knoshown Moreno, RB Georgia
2nd round - Rams - Brian Robiskie, WR Ohio State
2nd round Tampa -Pat White, QB/WR West Virginia

Lebron Makes Everything Look Easy

Because I could watch this all day.....

NBA Playoff Thoughts: Cavs Win and Upsets?

Well after the slew of games the NBA suddenly seems like an exciting place. So what are a few thoughts that I have on the topic - (without the benefit of caffeine)

1) Intrepid Reporting Rules
For those unaware given BSD's opaque funding structure and interlocking directorates (we actually are owned by the Sheinhardt Wig Company) BSD was able to use some slush funds to do on the ground reporting at Game 1 of the Cavs v. Pistons. In this reporters' professional opinion - it was awesome! Playoffs are simply a different beast for fans and players. Everyone is juiced and screaming. The game itself was never in doubt. Lebron put on his best Michael "We just aren't losing today" Jordan impression and the Cavs slowly and steadily built the lead into a blow out. Short of an Alien Invasion or African River Blindness epidemic the Cavs are going to put the nail into the Pistons coffin.

2) Upsets? Really Upsets?
As the Hitman earlier noted (and we all agreed) the West was SUPPOSED to be more interesting given the balance while the East was supposed to be formulaic until the second round. Thanks in part to some combination of injuries, outstanding breakthrough performances (Derick Rose better book that All-Star plane ticket for oh the next 10 years), and factors that I still can't figure out (how did Orlando blow an 18 point lead?), the heavy favorites of Boston and Orlando went down. Can it continue? I'm leaning more towards Chicago winning its series than Philly but hey I didn't expect these results in the first place.

3) Blow Outs
On the other hand the two series that were expected to be most competitive (4-5s) were simply blowouts. The Houston Rockets on a mission to drive Tracy McGrady off the deep end by easily winning a playoff series without him absolutely dismantled Portland. Dwayne Wade simply was unable overcome being a team of one versus the long and now playoff tested Hawks. Uncertain if this dynamic will change

4) Last Ride of the Old Guard
Mavs v. Spurs smacks of fading stars duking out it one last time for old time sakes before both go into old folks home. A close game that the Mavs pulled thanks to defensive switch onto Parker. I expect San Antonio to make the necessary changes and this series to a 7 gamer before all participants retire on the spot....

Friday, April 17, 2009


In anticipation of the huge amounts of cool movies that are coming out this summer (Terminator 4, Wolverine, GI Joe, Transformers 2), I thought it would be cool if current movies were re-made with sports stars instead of the original cast. Here are some of my suggestions:
Judge Dredd: A futuristic movie in which the main character is betrayed by his evil brother, and the evil brother tries to clone himself to take over the world. This movie originally starred Sylvester Stallone and Armand Assante, but can be re-made to star Jeff and Stan Van Gundy. Although, I debtated which one would be evil. Jeff Van Gundy looks more devious and schemey, but Stan Van Gundy looks like Ron Jeremy, so who knows.
Hancock: A movie about a larger than life superhero whose ego and desire to be an asshole overshadows all the good he does. This movie has Terrell Owens as the star, all the way. However, I’ve decided to write in a sidekick, played by Chad Johnson (ocho cinco).
Anchorman: Four newscasters, all with amazingly 70s style hair, who report on mundane and ridiculous stories that are believed to be newsworthy. There are four stars to this movie. I think Barry Melrose and Mel Kiper should play Paul Rudd and Ferrell’s respective characters, simply because of the hair. Marv Albert should be Champ Kind, the sports crazed reporter who has some personal and emotional issues. And instead of Steve Carrell’s semi-retarded character Brick Tamlin, he should be replaced by Peter Gammons, who will say nothing except "I love Boston" and "Tom Brady is god" throughout the whole movie. Also, I think Rachel Nichols should play Veronica Corningstone, just cause shes hot. Oh, there also needs to be a character for Luke Wilson who gets both his arms ripped off, and when I think of someone who should have their arms ripped off (especially by a bear), all I can think of is Rick Reilly.
Fast and the Furious: starring Donte Stallworth (too soon for that joke?)
Superman II: The Man of Steel is faced with his greatest challenge, three villians who are equally as strong as him, but he overcomes them and banishes them from Earth. Superman is clearly LeBron James, with General Zod played by Kobe, and the other two by Dwight Howard and Dwayne Wade. This is a metaphor for the cavs winning the championship.....and Lebron hooking up with Margot Kidder.
Star Wars trilogy: The Empire would have to be played by various sports figures I hate. Belichek would be a perfect Emporer, he already has the wardrobe, that damn hoodie makes him look just like the guy. Darth Vader can be played by Jerry Jones. And the yankees could be a bunch of overpaid storm troopers. (This entire entry is meant to spur anger and outrage from MJ). And then my heroes can play the rebel alliance. Travis Hafner as Chewbacca. Bernie Kosar as Han Solo, Mark Price as Luke Skywalker (they look a little alike, don’t they), and Mo Williams as R2D2.
The Hunt for Red October: With a name like that, you need to have a movie starring baseball players, either the Cardinals or the Cincinnati Reds. Theres not more of an analogy there, but I guess you could have Joey Votto as the unproven young Alec Baldwin who defies all odds and outsmarts everyone. And Tony Larussa as Captain Ramias (Connery). Plus, Pujols can play James Earl Jones’ character.
Well, thats a good start, let’s try to come up with some more.

The Story of the Non-Story of KG

Once again hidden away in one of Bill Simmons columns is a gorilla in the living room (a fact that everyone is aware of but refuses to confront)

Ultimately, Garnett's injury doesn't REALLY matter. It's just sports. But I find it a little chilling that the best player on the defending NBA champion could be sidelined for two solid months, with something obviously wrong, and nobody came close to unraveling the real story. We still don't know what's wrong with his knee. We just know it's screwed up. And, yeah, you could say that Garnett has always been guarded -- with just a few people in his circle of trust -- and yeah, you could say that only a few members of the Celtics organization know the truth (maybe coach Doc Rivers, GM Danny Ainge, majority owner Wyc Grousbeck, the trainers and that's it). But this was a massive local sports story. Its coverage is not a good sign for the future of sports journalism or newspapers in general.

That is an excellent question and certainly an uncomfortable or unknown answer. How did KG's injury escape investigation. The fact that there's still uncertainty of what he has, how long he'll be out, if surgery is needed, etc on one of THE biggest names in an entire sport seems hard to fathom. Let alone that this has been going on for two months. Within the column Simmons lays the blame at the decline of the local newspaper industry which implicitly notes that ESPN is simply incapable or unwilling to do the hunting for the actual story. This admittedly is something I've discussed before that without the local paper there is less transparency, more reliance on gossip and rumor and more of a superficial stenographic covering of the sport. Perhaps that's over generalizing from this event but its hardly a good sign.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The NFL Just Did Jets Fans a Favor... giving legions of them a great excuse not to watch the Jets lose their first two home games.

My question is: how the hell did some guy named "Howard Katz" screw this up?

Madden Retiring

Breaking news across the wire today is that John Madden is retiring. I'm not entirely sure when Madden became more of an icon rather than a simple sportscaster. It might have been his football game or his shift into MNF or even the parodies. However for me its hard to imagine pro football without Madden. Growing up Madden and Summerall were THE announcing crew. They were paired together for 22 years - which means theres a good reason I first think of Summerall and Madden when I think announcing teams. Later still if Madden was calling a game you knew it was big. Overshadowed from his broadcasting days is how good of a coach Madden was. He never had a losing season and has the highest winning percentage of any coach in NFL history. Not too shabby. Anyway I doubt things will ever be the same without Madden....

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Gutsy's Biased 2009 NBA Playoff Preview

2009 is an odd-numbered year and normally that means you can pencil in the Spurs as winning it all. However, the Spurs' era is coming to an end as Duncan is nursing a bad back and Manu Ginobili isn't even playing this postseason. With that out of the way, it's time to look at the insanity, including the matchups out West...

Western Conference
1-Lakers vs. 8-Utah - The Jazz have sadly limped to the finish, losing 7 of their last 11. Utah's center, Okur, injured his hamstring on Monday and missed the game against the Lakers on Tuesday. Hamstrings don't heal that quickly unfortunately. For whatever it's worth, in a double-digit loss, the Jazz still outrebounded the Lakers without Okur. Lamar Odom had a silly +28 in only 19 minutes. I really do think the Jazz could have the horses to make the series interesting, however, based on the Jazz continual injures though, they've yet to play the Lakers with Okur, Boozer, and Millsap all healthy. If Okur was healthy, I'd give the Jazz more of a chance to win more games.
Pick: Lakers in 5

4 vs 5 = Houston vs. Portland - Well, the games on Wednesday night have created what I would say is the most loaded 1st round matchup in a very, very long time [note: these two teams are playing each other, with the 4-seed dependent on Portland's game that started at 10:30PM]. I was hoping for one of these teams to be on the other half of the bracket so I could possibly pick one of them into the conference finals. Ugh. The Rockets went 2-1 vs the Blazers this season (with the home team winning each game) and with the Rockets 2-0 without T-Mac. T-Mac will not be playing this postseason and sadly, the Rockets are remarkably better without him playing. I feel bad for Houston, but Portland has been my team since before the season began, so I will stay the course, and still predict Portland to win a playoff series.
Pick: Portland in 7

3- Spurs vs. 6- Mavs - I can't believe these two teams ended up getting to face each other! I don't trust the Spurs without Ginobili and with Duncan ailing, though Duncan could be saving all of his energy for the playoffs. In the end, I suppose I have to choose the Spurs because their coaching is superb and because Tony Parker is going to have a monster series with Jason Kidd guarding him.
Pick: Spurs in 6

2- Nuggets - vs. 7- Hornets - This is an intriguing matchup. Billups vs. Chris Paul. However, Hornets C Tyson Chandler hasn't played since March 16. So... I have to choose the Nuggets. Which is something I vowed to not do earlier in the day before I knew this matchup would take place.
Pick: Nuggets in 6

Eastern Conference
1-Cleveland vs. 8-Detroit - As said after the Pistons acquired Iverson, I believe the Pistons have been on track for a 1st-round exit all year. I just had no idea that they could fall all the way into the 8-seed. Interestingly enough though, I had this 1st-round matchup predicted (but as a 4 vs. 5 matchup).
Pick: Cleveland in 5

4-Atlanta vs. 5-Miami - This should be a highly entertaining 1st round series. The Hawks have no depth, but they have a solid 6-man rotation in SF Marvin Williams, PF Josh Smith, C Al Horford, SG Joe Johnson, PG Mike Bibby, and 6th-man Flip Murray with big-man Zaza Pachulia providing additional support. Meanwhile, the Miami Heat may play more players, but they are dependent on Dwayne Wade. They've surrounded Wade with some new players in the last year (for those who don't know: an injured Jermaine O'Neal, Jamario Moon, rookie Michael Beasley, rookie PG Mario Chalmers, and 3-point specialist Daequan Cook). I really don't know who to pick, I just know that Atlanta played one meaningful game against Miami after the trading deadline, and Atlanta played fairly well.
Pick: Atlanta in 7

3-Orlando vs. 6- Philly - Orlando is dinged up but they should have enough to get past Philly which doesn't have any big men.
Pick: Orlando in 5

2-Boston vs. 7- Chicago- Here is where things get interesting! The Bulls have been on fire of late (aside from losing their season finale). The question of course is Kevin Garnett's health. I have to assume the Celtics will find a way to survive the 1st round.
Pick: Boston in 7

2nd round
1-Lakers vs. 4 or 5 - Portland - Yes! We get to see Aldridge, Oden, and Pryzbilla take on Odom, Bynum, and Gasol. And we get to see Brandon Roy take on Kobe! I would love to see the Blazers shock the world, but it's not going to happen in their 1st time in the playoffs. It certainly should be an entertaining series, especially because the Lakers haven't been able to win in Portland in a long time.
Pick: Lakers in 6

2-Nuggets vs. 3-Spurs - Yuck. I want to make it clear I would have picked the Rockets to the Conference finals if they were on this half of the bracket. I now have two teams here that I thought were going to lose in the 1st round. Yuck. Tony Parker will not be able to dominate Billups the way Parker will control Kidd in the 1st round. As a result...
Pick: Nuggets in 7

1-Cavs vs 4-Atlanta - I think this will be a mildlingly annoying series for the Cavs but in the end, the Cavs will have too much for the Hawks.
Pick: Cavs in 5

2-Boston vs. 3-Orlando - Here we go... a super-series! To be clear, I'm assuming that KG, Rashard Lewis, and Hedo Turkoglu all recover from injuries enough to be factors. It is believed that Lewis will play no matter what in the playoffs but Orlando isn't talking about Turkoglu (nor are they saying anything about the mysteriously sub-par performances of Dwight Howard). With all that aside, if you asked me 2 weeks ago who would win: I would have told you it was the Orlando Magic. However, it seems like a longer shot for the Magic to get all 3 guys suddenly healthy then it is for KG to be healthy.
Pick: Boston in 7

Conference Finals
1-Lakers vs. 2-Nuggets - This could be the Lakers' easiest series.
Pick: Lakers in 5

1-Cavs vs. 2-Boston - This matchup will be electric. The players all know each other and things have gotten rather chippy. There are 2 main reasons that the Cavs' offense is much improved over last season: 1) the addition of Mo Williams as another ball-handler alongside Delonte West and LeBron) and 2) the fact that Coach Mike Brown lets his assistant coach (John Kuester) call offensive plays. Seriously. No joke. There really were no plays last season or the year before that. The Celtics have been dinged up and do not have the same cohesiveness as last season. Please don't tell me that Eddie House's additional minutes make up for James Posey, who was an absolute assassin in the playoffs last season.
Pick: Cavs in 7

NBA Finals-
1-Lakers vs 1-Cavs - I picked the Cavs over the Lakers in my NBA preview and I am staying the course. For this to actually happen, the Cavs will have to find a way to box-out, play interior defense, and take down the Lakers. I am banking on the Cavs realizing that their only shot is to have LeBron on Odom (because LeBron is quick enough and big enough), and then use some combination of Varejao, Z, and Wallace on Bynum and Gasol. Some of you may be asking who will be guarding Kobe if LeBron is on Odom? Will, I think that if anyone other than LeBron guards Odom, Odom will end up shooting over 65% (see the last game they played - Odom went 13 for 19. In this game, LeBron stayed at SG due to injuries to West & Kinsey), so it's better to have someone other than LeBron guard Kobe, because only when Kobe gets hot does he even get over 50%. So, I then will have an undersized Delonte West guard Kobe for a lot of the time. I also would like to believe that the Cavs will unveil their secret defensive weapon in the NBA Finals... Tarence Kinsey! I'm hoping Kinsey can guard Kobe for 10 minutes each game, which will hopefully be enough for Delonte West to catch a breather.
Pick: Cavs in 7

Being Jackie Robinson

On this, the 62nd anniversary of Jackie Robinson's debut in MLB, I thought it was a very nice tribute to have every player and umpire don his universally-retired #42. But as I struggled to keep track of players on unfamiliar teams, I couldn't help but think of this famous scene:


I was flipping the channels yesterday and I swear ESPN had some sort of 3 hour special analyzing the NFL schedule. THE FUCKING SCHEDULE. Really? You can stretch that kind of analysis out to cover what are already known facts followed by unknowns of quality opponents. Ughh..... This might be a new low point in trying to find programming....

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

He's Baack.... The Return of Isiah Thomas!

When the economy is poor, you can apparently count on two things:
1) An increase in sales at McDonald's
2) That someone will take a roll of the dice with Isiah Thomas!

Yes, that's right. Not even a poor economy can stop Isiah Thomas from getting a job! How the Isiah Thomas job market can withstand an economic tsunami is beyond all logic and comprehension.

This time, Isiah Thomas is going to Florida International to coach a college team.

For those who can't remember, I did a fictional Q&A with Isiah Thomas back in 2005 when he was starting to shape the Knicks into a complete disaster, where I chronicled Isiah's resume since he stopped being a player. For those who can't remember he has held the following positions:
1) GM of the Raptors - and failed miserably
2) President and Owner of the CBA - and the league folded within 18 months
3) Coach of the Pacers - and fired by Larry Bird
4) Coach and GM of the Knicks - and failed miserably.

Isiah has now been locked in a basement and forced to solve Sudoku puzzles for an entire season to make sure that he didn't get involved in any of the basketball operations. I just hope for Florida International's sake that they realize that Isiah ALWAYS leaves his mark on his job... and it ALWAYS smells like poo.

Harry Kalas, 1936-2009

The passing of Harry Kalas saddened anybody who's ever rooted for a team with a legendary announcer. The voice of the Phillies for 38 years, he will be deeply missed by all who learned to love the game because guys like Kalas sang its praises like poetry, every night in our living room.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

NBA Second Season Almost Here

The NBA's second season (better known as the playoffs) is about to start. Finally. After 80 games, a new presidency, and twitter becoming the in thing (which given my advancing age I'm happy to be curmudgeony about) , the NBA regular season has basically rapped up.

At the start of the season the Celtics were the team to beat. Remember mid-December when the Celtics were 27-2 and everyone was wondering if they'd ever lose again? Remember Garnett's trash talking? Remember how they would play the BeeGees "You Should Be Dancing during home blow outs (talk about adding insult to injury)? Well the shoe is on the other foot now...

Last night (or earlier this afternoon depending on one's time frame) the Celtics were crushed by 31, Ray Allan decided to go all classy and do a nut punch on Sideshow Bob, and it was the Cavs that celebrated with music (with the timeless Rick Astley hit..oh yes Boston you were Rick Rolled ) . What does this mean?

Well who knows what David Stern will demand for the championship BUT there are essentially 4 teams vying for the NBA championship...the Cavs, the Lakers, the Celtics, and the Magic. All of have question marks but less so than other teams in the second season.....

Cavs Questions
Can their interior Defense Keep it Up?
Can their offense be effective against BIG teams?

Lakers Questions
How does Odom play now that Bynum is back?
How much better is the supporting cast this year relative to last?

Celtics Questions
Is Garnett healthy?
Is Garnett healthy?

Magic Questions
Hows that ankle Turkologu and hows Lewis' knee?
Has Howard's recent lack of production a boredom thing or a serious trend?

Friday, April 10, 2009

Introducing the 1995-1996 Washington Bullets

A co-worker introduced me to perhaps the greatest promotional rap video in the history of time.

Introducing... the 1995-1996 Washington Bullets!

Who is on this team? It's unbelievable:
Chris Webber. Juwan Howard. Gheorghe Muresan. A rookie named RASHEED WALLACE. Mark Price. Brent Price. Calbert Cheaney. Robert Pack (the PG on the Nuggets that helped beat the Sonics in 1994)... and ESPN's Tim Legler!

And yes, Mark Price and Brent Price are rapping.

And in case you were wondering, Webber only plays 15 games, and Mark Price only plays 7 games and this team ends up missing the playoffs and only winning 39 games.

Cheers and Jeers : Springbok Edition


A special Spring time Cheers and Jeers. hooray

Cheers: To opening new ballparks. I heard inside of the new Yankee stadium there's a smaller stadium and inside of that stadium is an even smaller stadium and inside of that stadium is a tiny Russian doll. True story

Cheers/Jeers - To the return of Andrew Bynum. In theory I'm always happy when an oft-injured young player makes a succesful return. On the other hand he could provide an additional element to arguably the best team in the NBA - hence thwarting the Cavs

Jeers: To new Mock Drafts. Look NFL Mock Drafts by in large are bullshit to begin with but when your revising a mock on a biweekly basis its the bullshit of bullshit. Nothing said by any team is believable so by what basis are people changing their mock drafts? Eagle livers?

Cheers: The University of Miami Redhawks victory over Bemidji to advance to the NCAA Hockey championship. There they will face #1 seed uber-favorite Boston University.

And our C&J gal of the week....Natalie Noelle..who is showing off the latest in Spring footwear

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Congrats to All Our Champions

As we all know, UNC won the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship on Monday. Congrats!

We should also congratulate Penn State, for winning the NIT Championship and being the unofficial 66th best team! Congrats!

We should further congratulate Oregon State, and President Obama's Brother-in-law (who is the coach) for winning the College Basketball Invitational and being the unofficial 98th best team (after the 65 in the NCAA and the 32 in the NIT).

However, to even my surprise, another post-season tournament was started this year... the Postseason Tournament. They have a really large "selection committee" that includes Lefty Driesell, Jim Phelan, and Nolan Richardson (all former coaches). Anyways, we should congratulate Old Dominion for winning on the road at Bradley and being the unofficial 114th best team (after the 65 in the NCAA, the 32 in the NIT, and the 16 in the CBI).

Clearly, it has become very easy for the NCAA to approve new tournaments... I just hope they draw the line somewhere. I can't imagine there's much motivation for the players, coaches, or the fans in the 4th-tier (or lower) tournament.

Man, The Writers of ESPN Suck

Just as a disclaimer again. I am a Reds and Rockies fan, I am not a big fan of any East Coast team, as Jim Morrison says I think that the West is the best with our weather, our people and our environment.

But I do have to say something about those non-bias journalists at ESPN. Jerry Crasnick wrote an article on the front page of the baseball section on entitled "Big names bomb in debut with Yanks". Just a short synopsis of the article is that he says that the two high priced players in NY, CC and Tex did poorly yesterday and he was basically lambasting the Yankees for paying too much money for these two players. He also mentioned that Arod was on speed-text with Joe Girardi. Does Crasnick know this as a fact? Does he watch Arod's or Girardi's phone service? It seems laughable to say that the acquisition of the Tex and the Fat Man is doomed after one game. That is like saying the H in HAVOC was just as good as Johan Santana because he was able to just give up 2 runs to the juggernaut Mets team and only lose 2-1. It is just crazy talk.

I really hope tonight that Jonathan Papelboner comes in when the Sox are up 7-4 and gives up a single to Crawford, walks Upton, and walks Pena and then gives up a GS to Longoria.

I think that ESPN should change their moniker to the Worldwide Leader in Boston Butt Sex.

Congrats UNC

Once again heaven is Carolina Blue. The team that was supposed to at the start of the season did it at the end. Somewhere between the humiliating 0-2 ACC start and the NCAA tournament Carolina learned how to play defense without their shutdown stopper (Marcus Ginyard). By the time they got to Michigan State, the machine was invincible. In the end they didn't need a crushing defense as their offense couldn't be stopped. A point guard that penetrated at will, a rotating slew of big men, and outside shooters that rained 3s....Michigan State which had shut down UConn and Louisville simply were over-matched against the UNC juggernaught. It was enjoyable to see upperclassmen take center stage at the NCAA tournament. Don't count on it again next year. Nonetheless as impressive romp through the NCAA as I've seen. Congrats Carolina.....

Monday, April 06, 2009

News Flash: Member Of Red Sox Has High Opinion Of Himself!

Today is Opening Day 2009 and I haven’t done any season preview write-ups. I haven’t written a digest of this past winter’s free agency and trade market. I haven’t even given you my picks for the ’09 season. But what I will do for you is tell you why Dustin Pedroia – the reigning AL MVP – is a self-centered little jerk. Why will I do this for you? Because I’m a swell guy, that’s why.

Straight from the pages of Boston Magazine, here’s a featured article on the pompous little dick.

Now, if you read it all the way through, you’ll see where he calls A-Rod “a dork” and then tries to retract the statement. I didn’t really take exception to that because, at this point, I’ve accepted that A-Rod is not well-liked for some mysterious and very unfair reason. What I took exception to was the following excerpt:

“Woodland is a bedroom community of more than 50,000 people that lies 20 miles northwest of Sacramento...“It’s a dump,” says Pedroia...“You can quote me on that. I don’t give a shit.” Pedroia acknowledges he’s angry with the town for something he won’t specify...“The place sucks. The newspaper there, I don’t really get along with. I come from your town. You should embrace me. I play for the Boston Red Sox.”

Are you kidding me? I come from your town. You should embrace me. Could you BE more full of yourself? Eat shit and die, Dustin.

Opening Day

Okay, i've been slammed at work, and i dropped the ball with installments 5 and 6 of my baseball predictions.
Since its opening day, I am going to do a very quick prediction of the AL West and NL West.
AL West:
The Rangers and Mariners have very little to brag about. Vincente Padilla, Josh Hamilton and Michael Young are all good players, but will not provide enough to get this team above .500.
The Mariners have two very exciting pitchers in Felix Hernandez and Bedard, but their offense will not do much for them. I think they will be in the basement.
The Angels clearly have the most talented offense, with an amazing outfiled (Abreu, Hunter, Vlad and Matthews Jr.), their pitching is really hurt by the injuries to Lackey and Escobar. Weaver and Saunders have a lot riding on them, but their bullpen should help.
The A's built quite an offseason resume, Holliday, Giambi, Nomar, and Orlando Cabrera. They will really put up a lot of offense since they already had Jack Cust. The return of Eric Chavez will be a big key to this club. however, their pitching is a lot of question marks.
Oakland and LA are very similar, but i believe that Oakland will edge out at the end.
4. Seattle, 3. Texas, 2. LA, 1. Oakland

NL West
This division has a lot of solid pitching, but on many clubs the offense falters.
San Diego-Peavy and Chris Young are fantastic, but Brian Giles can't carry this offense. They have too many holes.
San Fran-its sad that 4 years ago, I would've said "they have Randy Johnson and Barry Zito, they are going to win the division hands down", and now that combo will not achieve. Tim Linecum is awesome. Unfortuanetly, there are no solid bats, and this team may be the worst offense in the NL.
Colorado-Helton, Hawpe, and Iannetta will do this club a lot of good on offense, and they have decent pitching, but not nearly what they were in 2007. Can you believe this team was in the world series two years ago? I can't.
Arizona-With Webb, Haren, and Davis, this club has the best starting pitching in the division. Their bullpen is a little iffy, but i like their outfield. Justin Upton and Chris Young have a lot of potential to become valuable players.
Los Angeles Dodgers-I know this team is the hot pick because of Manny+Toree+the starting rotation. I also think adding Orlando Hudson was big. Furcal and hudson will be a good middle infield. However, I just can't pick LA to win the division.
My picks:
5. San Fran, 4. San Diego, 3. Colorado, 2. LA, 1. Arizona (its gonna be close though).

To recap, my playoff picks are:
AL: Oakland, Cleveland, Boston, Rays (wild card)
NL: Arizona, Cubs, Mets, Phillies (wild card)

I hate that both wild cards are out of the east, but oh well.
World Series: Mets vs. Tribe......this is the year!!!!!! Mike golic picked the tribe too, so that could be the further kiss of death.

As far as awards:
NL MVP: Pujols, safe pick but a good one
NL Cy Young: Carlos Zambrano, i think he'll win 20 games this year
AL MVP: I really want to pick Grady Sizemore, but i think Teixiera is gonna light it up in NYC, im going with Mark T.
AL Cy Young: Beckett, big comeback year for him

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Opening Day Open Thread

For those that want to leave a record of their MLB predictions....

Sunday Flash Facts....And Then There Were Two

Some Sunday Thoughts.....

1. And so after 5 months and 300 odd teams, Division I is down to two teams for the championship. There's usually a difference between college and pro basketball and this year seems to epitomize it. While the NBA will be won by the team with the best player and supporting cast for said player, this NCAA Championship will be won by the best team. There's no super stand out (although Lucas and Lawson come close). Instead the winners at the Final 4 truly went to the best teams. Michigan State harassed UConn into turnovers, forced tough shots, and made outstanding outlet passes to bury the heavily favored Huskies. UNC, while not having a future NBA star, is loaded with NBA talent (I'm willing to bet at least 4 of the five starters will get drafted). The balance showed as the Big 4 (Ty, Tayler , Wayne and Danny) each had a moment that kept Villanova at bay. And so on Monday the two best teams will re-match in the same place they played at the start of the season albeit this time for the right to cut down the nets.

2. Michigan State has consistently been the sum is greater than the parts type team. They've knocked off two #1 teams and shut down top tier future NBA talent. They have home court advantage and a great coach. However I'm picking UNC to win it all. UNC's depth means any one player can have an off day and the team still win. Secondly, somewhere along the way UNC learned to play outstanding perimeter defense - which means teams that fall behind are in serious trouble. Three, UNC has played in Detroit against MSU meaning the hostile crowd won't be nearly as effective as its being made out to be. Finally, Roy Williams is every bit as good of a coach as Izzo (5 Final 4s in 8 seasons).

Final Score
UNC 74
MSU 65

3. A funny thing happened on the way to the Colisseum...the lowly Charlotte Bobcats are on the edge of a playoff spot. Who is responsible for this catastrophe? Joe Dumars blowing up the Pistons? Chicago hiring a coach that is unable to use vowels? Phoenix trading Boris Diaw for several packs of Big League Chew? Larry Brown? Nah that can't be it. Search me....but count that as things I didn't see coming at the start of the year

4. For those not following Golden State, and there's no reason you should, old Nellie is trying to get that section 8 so he can finally retire and move back to Toledo for his beloved Tony Packos hot dogs. Nelson refuses to play his star rookie, randomly benches his starters, and demands that his point guards play with socks on their hands for safety sake. I haven't seen someone so blantantly try to get fired since Hitman during his stint as a backup dancer for the Moscow Ballet.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Final 4 of Normalcy

What a relief it is to have two 1-seeds, a 2-seed, and a 3-seed in the Final 4. I was getting really nervous about having all four #1s make it two years in a row. I'm not a fan of all four #1s making it, as seen by last year's column. While that does theoretically pit the best teams against each other, there's something inherently more exciting for me about have a couple of party-crashers to go up against the known and predictable quantities.

On to the Final 4. I really liked this story on SI, which has a picture of a team of 7-year old basketball players - including UNC's Ty Lawson, 'Nova's Dante Cunningham, and CSU's Cedric Jackson!

I always like to think about look back to see which Final 4 teams have faced each other...
UNC-Michigan State - UNC beat Michigan State by 35 back in December... but Michigan State did not have big man Goran Suton in that game, so it may not have been indicative of anything.

UConn-'Nova - The two Big East teams only played each other once this season... but that was back when UConn had Dyson. Of course, I used that logic to predict that UConn would lose early in the tournament and that was a complete waste.

As for the actual matchups this weekend, I'm guessing the masses will be rooting for and predicting a UConn-UNC championship game. This is the Madness though, so nothing really surprises me in the Final 4 anymore...

Cutler Traded to Denver

Well the great Jay Cutler situation has finally ended with him being shipped to Chicago. The trade nets Denver Kyle Orton two first rounders (2009 and 2010) and a third rounder (2010) while Chicago gets a Pro Bowl quarterback.

On a pure talent basis I think that Chicago comes out in front. I tend to buy the QB is by far the most important position in football today. With the addition, Chicago now has the best QB in the NFC North and arguably the best team in the NFC North. Not too shabby. While its possible, its highly improbable that Denver can draft a top tier QB with the #18th pick (and short of a catastrophe and worse pick in 2010). In the meantime being left with Orton as caretaker is hardly recipe for playoff success - which was the argument for why Mike Shanahan was replaced.

I also think that Josh McDaniels ends up worse for wear. Again if believe the Denver QB situation will not be better that it is presently for at least 2-4 years (if your relying on the draft to develop a QB) its easy to imagine Denver fandom turning on the man that was instrumental in creating the situation.

So what's everyone else's take? How's the Belichek mode of "only my players" going to work in Denver?