Tuesday, April 27, 2010

NBA Playoffs Odds and Ends

1. Lebron Going From Beast Mode to Galactus Devourer of Worlds Mode

It's hard to capture exactly how well Lebron is playing. I could talk about his jump shot for 300 yards away, or how he ripped off James Johnson's arm and beat him with it, or how he palmed a medicinal ball but those are just images that represent his dominance. How about this fact, Lebron has taken 1 less shot than Kobe and scored 44 more points. His playoff PER is 38 (for reference D-Wade's is 31 , Derick Rose's is 17, and average is 15) Currently Lebron is ranked 18th in the AP College Football Poll.

2. It Takes a Village

While I'm just as guilty as everyone else of focusing on stars the Boston - Miami series probably highlights the limits of individual greatness. Yes superstars are necessary to win in the playoffs but they in their own right are hardly sufficient to guarantee victory. Dwayne Wade has been playing better than anyone not named Lebron this first round (He's averaging nearly 34 points, 5 rebounds, and 6 assists on 60% shooting). However given how bad his surrounding cast is Miami is barely alive in the playoffs. Stars are important but they aren't the be all end of all of winning the playoffs.

3. Wild West
It's day 34950 of the 2010 playoffs (man are the NBA playoffs slow) and all of the lower seeded teams are still fighting for their lives with 2 holding commanding leads. In particular the Spurs and Jazz look to be ready to go onto the next round. The Nuggets haven't been same without George Karl for whatever reason (41-20 w/Karl 13-12 w/o Karl) . The Mavs still haven't lived up to what they should be on paper.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Mighty NFL Draft Thoughts

The biggest objection I think I have to to the draft (outside of Jon Gruden talking...why?) is post draft grade. I'm not sure where the A-F grade for NFL drafts came from but it's generally... well unhelpful. Columnist never state what the grades mean, how they arrive at their conclusions, or what. 90% of the time I think it's just seeing the name of the team (oh it's the Ravens of course they did well). If the Browns had drafted an OLB with knee problems and a NT that could only be on the field for 20 snaps in college they'd have been panned. Not to say the Ravens had an awful draft (I have no idea) but Ozzie Newsom'e track record gives them the benefit of the doubt in the grade...which makes grading a silly proposition as then before the draft starts I can give the good team's As and the bad teams Fs. Or oomplas or whatever the grade is.

That said....

I liked Seattle's draft. They filled needs, got players that produced on the field, and even leveraged extra picks for veterans. Sure it helped that Seattle had a ton of extra picks which makes it pretty easy to do well but hey that's how it goes...

NY Jets.... The only move I noticed (and cared about) was the addition of Kyle Wilson. The Browns' considered talking him at 7 as he's one of the top CBs in the draft. Adding him to Revis and off-season pick up (Cromartie) makes the Jets secondary as good as it gets in the NFL. This should make their pass rush all the more fearsome.

The obvious team on the didn't like side is the Jags who reached in the first round. The other team I think might be in trouble was San Diego. They mortgaged a number of picks to take Ryan Mathews...a larger back to complement Sproles. However there's a number of doubts on Matthews and I'm always umm...skeptical about First Round running backs given their assumed short playing span.

So what's everyone else's take?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy Draft Day!

YAY!!! The draft is here, and this year, it's in PRIMETIME! I am very excited to see what happens because there is lots of speculation as to lots of scenarios. Now that the Steelers are shopping around Roethlisberger, it could be a very crazy night.

I wanted to put a couple pictures of the draft, but when you google "NFL draft day pictures" this is first picture to come up. Oy vay!

On a lighter note, here is a picture of the best hair in sports, and the scariest face in sports.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

LeBron Goes Into Beast Mode

James Johnson made the mistake of pissing off Lebron. If you slow the video down you can see where the pieces of Johnson's pride landed....

Monday, April 19, 2010

Mock Draft 2010: It's Mocktacular!

I have paid less attention to this draft than I have in a long time. I hate to admit it, but Coach Mangina wrecked my love for the NFL this past year. I am trying my best to recover from the reign of terror where Magnina was GM and coach. Don't worry - this year he's just the coach so he can only screw up the Browns in so many ways.

1. St. Louis - QB Sam Bradford, Oklahoma - I guess his shoulder is okay after all. I always thought that injured shoulder cost him the #1 overall pick (because he should have come out last year). Obviously, we were all wrong, as he was able to rehabilitate the shoulder back to full strength.

2. Detroit - WR Dez Bryant, Oklahoma State - The Lions review all of their needs and realize that in homage to the great and almighty GM Matt Millen, the only wise choice is to choose a WR.

No, I'm just kidding. The Lions will take DT Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska.

3. Tampa - DT Gerald McCoy, Oklahoma - Apparently, everyone believes this guy has to be #3. Sounds good to me, but Tampa has a thousand holes to fill, so if anyone decides to do something weird it would be them. Actually, it will be funny if they choose this player, only because some fans will mistakenly believe they got Colt McCoy instead.

4. Washington - OT Russell Okung, Ok State - Apparently, everyone is expecting the Redskins to take the top left tackle... and there's no reason this wouldn't happen, so long as Dan Snyder doesn't go nuts. In a way, Dan Snyder's insanity can be analogous to the 96 ounce steak that John Candy eats in "The Great Outdoors." Dan Snyder is the kind of guy who would order the 96 ounce steak, but he would hire someone else to eat the steak who supposedly has great statistics indicating he could finish the 96 ounce steak. Dan Snyder would then pay this person much more than the benefit of having the free meals that finishing the steak provides... then Dan Snyder would discover that the person he hired can't even finish the steak. And that in a nutshell is the Washington Redskins for the last 10 years - overpaying players to perform certain tasks that they never even finish!

5. Kansas City - OT, Bryan Bulaga, Iowa - KC wants to protect their QB so they end up choosing Bryan Bulaga. That's a funny name. Makes me think of Baloo from Tale Spin.

6. Seattle - S, Eric Berry, Tennessee - Because this guy is supposed to be Ronnie Lott... and because he would be perfect for Cleveland at #7... he probably will be taken at #6.

7. Cleveland - WR Dez Bryant, Ok State - The Browns have a need at every position... and nothing would be better in my mind than drafting a talented wide receiver even if he is troubled. This would give the Browns at least one playmaker (outside of RB Jerome Harrison, if he qualifies, I'm not sure if there are any others). Also, this would be a nice way to say "thank you" to former GM Mangina and current Coach Mangina for dumping Braylon Edwards and only getting Chansi Stuckey and a special teams player who makes Coach Mangina his coffee each morning. Honestly though, the only way they screw this pick up is if they draft someone too high who is not supposed to be drafted until later.

8. Oakland - OT Bruce Campbell, Maryland - Supposedly, this guy is fast and has great numbers, and that tends to be all the Raiders draft on.

9. Buffalo - QB Jimmy Clausen, Notre Dame - I think the Bills are going to draft another QB to give their fans hope yet again. I realize they've already struck out on JP Losman (1st round) and Trent Edwards (3rd round)... but you still have the best odds of getting a successful QB in the 1st round in comparison to later rounds.

10. Jacksonville - DE Jason Pierre-Paul, So. Florida - It would be good to add another player with three names so Maurice Jones Drew doesn't feel lonely in the locker room.

11. Denver - LB Rolando McClain - The Broncos defense has been awful for a while, and last year they gave up 4.5 yards per carry. Ouch. A LB would help.

***Later picks
14. Seattle - RB CJ Spiller, Clemson - The Seahawks finally get a RB to replace all the absurd older guys they used last year (Orange Julius Jones, Edgerrin James, Jim Brown, etc).

20. Houston - RB Ryan Mathews, Fresno St - The Texans decide to end the short Steve Slaton fumbling era and draft a new RB that they can trust with the ball.

26. Arizona - WR Demaryius Thomas, Georgia Tech - They have to replace Boldin, right?

2nd round - New England - RB Jahvid Best, Cal - This guy is supposed to be lightning quick and would be a big change of pace from the other RBs currently on the Patriots roster.

3rd round - Cincinnati - QB Colt McCoy, Texas - The Bengals should take a low-risk QB... as Carson Palmer has had lots of injuries and it would be nice to groom a QB in the meantime.

3rd round - San Diego - RB Jonathon Dwyer, Georgia Tech - They have to replace LT, right? This guy sounds like a bigger back and the scouting report says he could be a featured back , though he played in a triple option offense, so all bets may be off.

4th round - Cleveland - RB Toby "Touchdown" Gerhart, Stanford - I just think it would be funny if the Browns drafted this prolific Stanford RB, just like the Browns did with Tommy "Touchdown" Vardell. By the way, Vardell didn't score many TDs, but the nickname from college stuck anyway.

***Person I could care less about
Tim Tebow - He's not a QB. I don't understand where he will end up or even what position he will be playing, so I' not bothering trying to figure who wastes a draft pick on him. There just isn't much upside.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

NBA Playoffs, Changing Expectations, and Other Stuff

On Thursday I laid out my picks for the first round, now after one game, I can cheerfully now have knee jerk responses to my initial predictions (and everyone else's)

Cavs in Command
On one hand the Bulls can say they outscored the Cavs over the last 3 quarters, caused 18 turnovers, and held the Cavs to 41% shooting in the second half. And yet the Bulls still lost by 13. It's unlikely the one of the best 3 point shooting teams in the league will repeat that kind of shooting performance and Lebron seemed to demonstrate in the 4rth quarter that he has another gear. The Cavs are 7-0 for playoff series in the Lebron era when they win game 1. I think I can say Cavs in 5 confidently now.

Jazz in Trouble
When I picked the Jazz in 6 I thought Kirelinko would be back (now he's probably out for the series) and I thought Okur could help (he's out for the playoffs now). Those two losses have put the Jazz in a deep hole. I have to admit that I underestimated the potential effect the speedy Ty Lawson could have for the Nuggets. I'm now predicting (is it predicting if you are constantly changing your mind?) the Nuggets in 6 or 7.

When does KG win Sportsman of the Year?
Biases out I hate bullies. Despise them. KG since coming to the Celtics has displayed all the tell tale signs of a bully. So it's an understatement that I just don't like KG. His latest antics of two obvious elbow throws got him tossed from the Heat game. It was so blatant Stern had no choice but to suspend KG for Game 2. The loss of KG opens the door a little wider for Miami to steal a game on the road. I'm sticking with Boston in 7 but here's to hoping I'm wrong.

See Dirk Score. Score Dirk Score
Dirk put together one of the most efficient scoring outbursts I've seen in awhile. 36 points on 14 shots in 40 minutes. Honestly that's about as good as you can do. The Spurs offense was good but simply not good enough to keep up with Dirk. Perhaps as importantly the Mavs played solid defense - causing 17 turnovers. I'll switch my vote to Spurs in 7.Although I'm feeling shaky on that...

Kim Kardashian Tired/Naked
We're researching feverishly why......

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Gutsy's Biased 2010 NBA Playoff Preview

The time has come... for the NBA Playoffs! There's a lot more excitement in the Western Conference (at least early on) than in the Eastern Conference. So... let's start out there:

Western Conference
1-Lakers vs. 8-Thunder - The Thundercats were my sleeper team before the season began... and I hit the jackpot! Hooray for being right once in a while! The one thing I was wrong about before this season was that Nenad Kristic was still effective. He's not. Luckily for the Thunder, they've been playing more Serge Ibaka and less Kristic. Ibaka's been going nuts in the 2nd half and he's actually a rookie but he will have to be relied on heavily for the Thunder to win any games. One of the more interesting matchups in this series will be Russell Westbrook against Derek Fisher. Westbrook is probably the most inconsistent player in the NBA this season. He's had multiple games with 14 assists and 1 turnover. Then other nights he has 3 assists and 5 turnovers. He also is a horrible shooter (42% FG% and 22% 3pointers). It's kind of frightening, because he's lightning quick (Fisher has no chance against his speed). Despite all of these great underrated aspects of the Thunder... aside from the marquee matchup of Kobe vs. Durant, the Thunder are doomed to lose in 5 because they don't have enough to handle Gasol and Odom. If Bynum plays? Forget about it!
Pick: Lakers in 5

4-Denver vs. 5-Utah - This is a really crazy series. Kenyon Martin supposedly has knee tendinitis and has hardly played of late. Carlos Boozer has a "strained right oblique." Kirilenko has a strained left calf. Honestly? It's impossible to know how severe either of these injuries are because teams don't like to give that away. At least we know that Chauncey Billups will be going head-to-head against Deron Williams. Interestingly, Williams led the Jazz w/ 22 pts, 9 assists, 3 TOs, 44% FG% to a win on 2/6 but BILLUPS & CARMELO MISSED THE GAME ; to a loss on 1/17 but with 23 pts, 13 assists, 44% FG% (but Billups had 29 pts and Carmelo 37 pts) ; a loss on 1/2 but w/ 16 pts, 6 assists, 60% FG% but BILLUPS & Carmelo MISSED THE GAME, and a loss on 10/28 with 28 pts, 13 assists, 60% FG% (but Billups had 25 pts and Carmelo 30 pts). So... I think Billups has the edge unbelievably. I also have no idea who's guarding Carmelo for the Jazz, or rather, if anyone on the Jazz can guard him.
Pick: Denver in 6

3-Phoenix vs. 6-Portland - I can't believe Phoenix somehow drew the Blazers w/o Roy and Oden. Eesh. Portland does have Marcus Camby... and the Suns have just RULED OUT THEIR CENTER, ROBIN LOPEZ for the 1st round! This is going to be a wild, crazy series as the Suns will probably try to push it even more than normal I'd imagine. But there's no way I'm picking Portland.
Pick: Phoenix in 5

2-Mavs vs. 7-Spurs - Okay, here was the scene going into Wednesday (the last day)... the Mavs were playing the Spurs. If the Mavs won, they'd get a 2-seed. If the Spurs won, they could rise up from a 7-seed (but only if Portland lost in the nightcap to Golden State, which ended up happening). Instead, the Spurs decided to rest everyone... they got trounced, so now they draw their rivals in the playoffs. Some have even suggested that the Spurs WANTED to play the Mavs (which makes no sense to me whatsoever). Anyways... this much is clear: the Spurs and Mavs are the only teams with real shots to take out the Lakers out West. Interestingly, last year the Spurs were a higher 3-seed and the Mavs were a 6-seed... and the Mavs pulled the "upset." Granted, the Mavs only finished 4 games back. This year? It's just a 5 game difference. Since the trade deadline, I've been touting the additions of Caron Butler and Haywood for the Mavs. However, we only have limited data and it seems like a work-in-progress. I tend to believe these additions will result in the playoff victory... especially because backup JJ Barea proved effective at slowing down Tony Parker last year. Granted, this year Parker has a healthy Ginobili and healthier Duncan. This will still be a slugfest.
Pick: Dallas in 7

Eastern Conference
1-Cavs vs. 8-Chicago - Yes the Cavs have been resting and nursing injuries and will be rusty. It's going to get a bit chippy!
Pick: Cavs in 5
4-Celtics vs 5-Miami - I haven't been able to take the Heat seriously all year... they just have Wade with a tiny bit of help from Beasley.
Pick: Celtics in 6
3-ATL vs. 6-Bucks - The Bucks are the team of the year, a consensus last-place finisher in the conference that ends up making the playoffs?!? Too bad Bogut is out, because they have no chance without him. Also, for the record, Tyreke Evans deserves to be rookie of the year because Brandon Jennings was so inconsistent down the stretch that he would get benched if things were going poorly.
Pick: ATL in 4
2-Orlando vs. 7- Bobcats - Let me get everyone excited about this... the Bobcats beat the Magic on 3/14 (w/ Tyrus Thomas chipping in 9 rebs to help get a 46 - 34 advantage) ; Lost on 1/23; (the other game was 11/16 when Flip Murray scored 31 pts... but he's no longer on the team). The Bobcats are capable of matching up very well against most teams despite having almost no bench. The reason? They have a super-fast defensive minded PG, they have FOUR defensive-minded centers (Ratliff is playing, and playing well, no joke; Tyson Chandler, Nazr Mohammed, and Desagna Diop), and... they have athletic wings in Gerald Wallace and Stephen Jackson. This team is going to be a nightmare to handle, and I'm so glad that the Magic have to deal with it. It's entirely possible the Bobcats go Golden State '07 on the Magic. I will go on the record and say that as a Cavs fan, the best scenario is the Bobcats beating the Magic, then the Hawks beating the Bobcats.
Pick: Orlando in 7

I have to keep predicting... there's no way around it. It's tradition for me to pick... and pick incorrectly!

2nd round
1-Lakers vs. 4-Nuggets - Kenyon Martin's knee gives out; Derek Fisher plays dirty against Billups; and the Lakers cruise.
Pick: Lakers in 5
3-Suns vs. 2-Mavs - Dirk gets to meet Steve Nash again. Dirk's team advances again as Robin Lopez fails to come back and the Mavs own the glass.
Pick: Mavs in 5
1-Cavs vs 4-Celtics - In an extremely physical series, the Cavs are the more talented better team. The Cavs championship aspirations depend on surviving this series w/o major injuries. If Big Baby Davis takes out Shaq's thumb again I will absolutely lose it.
Pick: Cavs in 6
2-Magic vs. 3-Hawks - Sadly, the Magic own the Hawks.
Pick: Magic in 5

Conference Finals
1-Lakers vs. 2-Mavs - This is Caron Butler's chance for revenge against the Lakers, but not Phil Jackson (because apparently this was the one year Jackson didn't coach the Lakers). Caron Butler was part of the Shaq trade (along w/ Odom) and Butler only played 1 year for the Lakers (2004-2005) before the Lakers traded him for... Kwame Brown. Butler had 15.5 ppg, 5.8 rebs. It was fine. But of course, he was still getting better... and I hope that he goes crazy against the Lakers... beucase that's the only chance the mavs have.
Pick: Lakers in 5
1-Cavs vs. 2-Magic - All year I've been dreading writing this conference preview. Anything can happen in this series. It's the real NBA Finals in my mind. I don't want to sound like a homer rooting for the Cavs so I will simply say this: in the 2009 playoffs Dwight Howard had his way with Ben Wallace and Varejao... Z kind of held his own. If Shaq gets Howard in foul trouble or at least plays even the Cavs will win this series. Last year, the Cavs lost by 1, won by 1, lost by 10, lost by 2, won by 10, and lost by 13. It means they only lost by 15 pts over the entire series. If Shaq just slows Howard down for 20 minutes, that should be all the Cavs need. No matter what happens in Shaq-Howard, this series will be extra special because both teams were in a virtual arms race to assemble rosters that could go big, small, etc. Which players will they use will be an exciting chess match to watch.
Pick: Cavs in 7 with 3 OTs in game 7.

NBA Finals
1-Cavs over 1-Lakers. I'm just picking the Cavs. They will push the Lakers around, like they did during the regular season.
Pick: Cavs in 6

NBA Playoffs: First Round

Well the NBA regular season is in the books and we are only a few days away from the start of the real NBA season (and it's 42 month slog to determining a champion). Hooray. Anyway here's a few thoughts for the opening playoff round.

1)Dallas v. San Antonio (aka Scouts v. Stats)

Probably the most intriguing of the first round games. You can go with the last chance angle, a revenge-rematch from last year angle, two great teams, but I'm intrigued by the stats v. scouts angle. Most scouts and analysts have the Mavs as a more talented team. Nearly all of the advanced stats has the Spurs as the better team. I believe the losing side has to report to Tenochtitlan to be executed.

2)Denver v. Utah ( The Case of Kenyon Martin's Knee )

Somewhere dark in the tombs located directly beneath NBA headquarters is the fact that the Nuggets did make it to the conference finals last year. Halfway through the season there was every reason to think it might still happen. Loki, the mythic trickster of the Norse people, stole the cartilage from Martin's knee. Since then Denver has been in a tail spin. If somehow pressure can be applied to Loki and he return Martin's knee the Nuggets can win. Otherwise Jazz fans will dance to the 2nd round (if Jazz fans did that kind of thing)

3)Cleveland v. Chicago (You wouldn't like John Paxson When He's Angry)

So recently yahoo sports reported that Bull's VP John "Smash" Paxson challenged Bulls' coach Vinnie "Da Bull" Del Negro to a fight. Which makes one wonder what Paxson might do under the strain and stress of a playoff series. I'm hoping for a steel cage match with Paxson's brother, Jim, running in and hitting Del Negro with a chair. In all seriousness the key to this series is Derick Rose. If Rose can get into the lane to feed the Bull's pick and pop the Bulls have a very good shot at winning. If Rose is forced into being a jumper shooter, Paxson's rage may be immeasurable.

Other Bits of Randomness
4)Phil Jackson v. Kevin Durant over referees (or things you could see coming a mile away)

5) Suns v. the Easy Draw - The last time the Suns made it to the conference finals it was thanks to an easy draw. Decimated Trail Blazers appear tobe the first stage of "Operation Really Easy Draw"

6) Old foggies v. Dwayne Wade - Boston has been horrible lately. They have all the life signs of a beached whale. They face a one man team named Dwayne Wade (he also does all of the catering). Can the Celtics even win one series?

7) Hawks v. Boredom - Without Bogut the Bucks simply don't have a chance. Unless the Hawks get bored and decide to spend a few days relaxing by sunny Lake Michigan (which is very nice this time of year)

8) Magic v. Bobcats (aka When does Larry Brown quite ?) I'm betting on Game 3.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Knowledge Is The Key To Enlightenment (Or, Don’t Make Accusations Before You Are Armed With Facts)

There is racism in America. It exists in implicit and explicit forms and it is pervasive across all regions of the country as well as the broad socioeconomic spectrum. There has also been a great deal of progress in combating racism through both legal measures and attitudinal changes. Progress is being made, even if the goal of a color blind society has not yet been achieved.

But I so tire of hearing athletes talk of racism and then offer flimsy examples to support their claims. Most recently, this rubbish came from the mouth of Minnesota Twins second baseman Orlando Hudson. To support the theory that African-American baseball players are the victims of racism in Major League Baseball, Hudson cited the continued unemployment of Jermaine Dye and Gary Sheffield, now a full week into the 2010 season.

While it would be impossible to argue that baseball doesn’t have a racist past –– after all, April 15th commemorates the 63rd anniversary of the day when Jackie Robinson ended baseball’s 71-year segregated history –– it is simply no longer the case. Baseball is now a meritocracy where teams are most interested in paying enormous sums of money to the most qualified individuals in order to turn a sport into a profit-making endeavor. Why would financially-motivated owners deprive themselves of earning every last penny by hiring substandard talent that wouldn’t help teams win or draw paying customers to watch?

Gary Sheffield may be a unique case. Baseball has certainly blackballed its own outspoken members before and Sheffield is certainly outspoken (to put it mildly). But even in ostracism, baseball has been an equal-opportunity offender, as pitcher-turned-author Jim Bouton can attest.

Perhaps, then, Hudson should be asked to look at the players he uses as his case study. In case he hadn’t noticed, MLB general managers have become far more judicious in their allocation of resources and baseball has seen a trend of teams going younger, cheaper and more athletic whenever possible. In other words, the days of simply signing veteran hitters to multi-million dollar contracts are over. Furthermore, as defensive metrics become more and more commonly-accepted around baseball, teams are valuing a player’s defensive capabilities in the overall equation. There will always be 14 openings in the American League for designated hitters but, even there, teams are opting to either go with a primary DH for his slugging capabilities or using that spot in the lineup to cycle players in order to give everyone a day off from fielding duty.

So, then, let’s examine the most recent statistical data on Sheffield and Dye. Using traditional metrics (AVG/OBP/SLG), sabermetrics (OPS+/wOBA/WAR) and defensive metrics (UZR/150), I will attempt to illustrate why Hudson’s point is entirely without merit.

Gary Sheffield (2007-2009):

Traditional: .253/.358/.437
Saber: 108/.351/1.1
Defense: inconclusive*

Jermaine Dye (2007-2009):

Traditional: .267/.334/.496
Saber: 112/.354/0.33
Defense: -22.46

Since the decision to offer contracts to players ultimately come down to finances, one must look at how a player’s output directly correlates to wins. Thus, according to WAR, Sheffield was worth only one win above a replacement player over the previous three seasons, and was worth only half a win over a replacement player over 2008-2009. In other words, for the money it would cost to pay Sheffield (let’s assume he would accept no less than twice the MLB minimum salary of $400,000, or $800,000) a team would do just as well signing a player for the minimum salary and receiving exactly the minimum level of output.

For Dye, the situation is even direr. Over a three-year period, Dye was worth only one-third of a win and, in fact, was worth less than a win in 2007 and 2009. Despite his offensive output –– slightly better than league average, according to wOBA and OPS+ –– his defensive decline was so steep that it actually cut into his offensive value. As such, the Chicago White Sox would have actually been better off playing a replacement player over Dye given how Dye cut into the team’s win chances in those two seasons. It was reported that the Nationals, Cubs and Brewers were interested in signing Dye this offseason but that he balked at signing contracts worth less than $3M. Given this data, Dye should be lucky to even be offered the minimum salary, given how he brings absolutely nothing to the table.

Racism exists in all walks of life and it might even exist in baseball’s front offices. But on the playing field, I just don’t see it. It would behoove Orlando Hudson and other players who share his opinion to educate themselves on baseball statistics because these tools play a determining factor in how much they are entitled to earn.

*The three-year defensive data for Sheffield is inconclusive because Sheffield was a DH for 2007 and 2008 and thus did not log enough innings in the field for data to be reliable. For 2009, Sheffield played 502 defensive innings and registered -31.0, third-worst in baseball among all players that played at least 500 defensive innings in the outfield. Incidentally, Dye was eighth-worst among all outfielders that played at least 500 defensive innings in 2009 and fourth-worst among all outfielders that played at least 1100 defensive innings in 2007 and 2008.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Monday Odds and Ends

Well by in large either the sports world is wrapping up (NBA), gearing up (NFL draft), or simply starting up (MLB). So with enough odds and ends here's a few pot pourri thoughts

1) Rest v. Rust
While the debate about resting players rightfully is a bigger deal in the NFL, the NBA has had it's own different approaches. While the Lakers and the Cavs have rested star players in the week (Lakers with Kobe Cavs with Lebron, Mo, Jamison, certain cheerleaders) leading up to the playoffs the Magic have been starters full time. I'm not willing to venture a hypothesis that what you do in the last 2 weeks of the season really affects how a conference (or NBA) Finals will go but its entirely possible that their might be some rust for the resters....

2) Eyes are on #5
The NFL Draft seems largely predictable until the 5th spot (Kansas City). St.Louis will take Bradford, Lions/Bucs will take Suh/McCoy, and the Redskins will take a left tackle (Okung) to keep their newly acquired QB in one piece. However that leaves the Chiefs and Belicheknek Scott Pioli as the big question mark. Do they go offensive line? Safety (Berry)? OLB? Dez Bryant? Trade down? Those that are wondering where the draft might go crazy , should be thinking about what the Chiefs will do.

3) Lefty Wins #3
Phil Mickelson won an exciting and close Master's over the weekend. While I'm sure most people tuned in to see if Woods would have sex with anyone (he didn't) I enjoyed Lefty's back to back eagles on Saturday. Turns out the tournament was won there (well theoretically at least). With his third Master's I think its fair to start thinking about where Mickelson will rank among golf's greats.

4) History Corrected
While most baseball afficiandos know the story of Ray Chapman, the Indian player who was killed by a beanball, less well known is the story of Charles Pinkney. Pinkney, a promising minor league baseball player was also killed during a baseball game approximately 100 years ago. Unfortunately he seems to be slipped through history's cracks. This past weekend a dedication ceremony for a new headstone was held to honor Pinkney. I recommend reading this short but fascinating article on Pinkney and the recent correction to history's oversight.

5) Mission Accomplished

I'm usually not a sucker for advertising but Jennifer Nicole Lee recently endorsed MMA fighting. I will now follow it. Can you really say no to her?

Sunday, April 11, 2010

NBA Potpourri

1) 2009-2010 Tarence Kinsey Award
Back in the 2006-2007 season, my fantasy basketball team was in trouble, and it was the end of the season. I ended up picking up a guy I never heard of but who had been playing well. His name? Tarence Kinsey from the Minnesota T-wolves. The 6'6" SG Kinsey ended up averaging 18.9 ppg, 4.1 rebs, and 2.23 steals per game between March 24th and April 18th of that season. This amazingly unexpected production powered my team to the finals of my fantasy basketball season. Thus, when any person I've never heard of before goes ballistic during the last month of the season, I decide to give them the "Tarence Kinsey award."

This year, a new player has torn things up for my team, like never before and has certainly reached Tarence Kinsey status. His name? Anthony Tolliver from Golden State. He's a 6'9" guy from Creighton who plays Forward and Center... AND shoots 3s. Since February 27th, he's averaging 14.1 ppg, 7.9 rebs, 1.55 3pts/game, 0.86 steals, 0.90 blocks. My favorite game was on March 22nd, when he had 25 points, 12 rebounds, 2 3pointers, 3 steals, and 2 blocks against the Phoenix Suns.

2) The troubles of Bulls Coach Vinny Del Negro
Coach Del Negro almost got fired in the middle of the season, after blowing a 35-point lead to the Kings and being out of playoff contention for long periods of time. Notably, management then decided to dump out 2 of the top 7 players (Salmons, Tyrus Thomas) in cost-cutting moves to position the Bulls to pick up a player this summer. The Bulls still have Deng, D. Rose, and J. Noah and have hung around in the playoff chase... then came an epic collapse this past Friday. Then, ESPN ran a bizarre story over the weekend... and how Del Negro and President John Paxson don't see eye-to-eye. Essentially, J. Noah has plantar fasciitis and for health reasons, the team instituted a 35-minute cap on his minutes. However, on Friday night, the Bulls got into an OT game, so Del Negro wasn't going to insert Noah back in the game. The person who ended up stirring up the pot in this situation? It was assistant coach Lindsey Hunter (yes the former player!). Apparently, Lindsey Hunter asked the Bulls' GM who called Paxson during the 4th quarter, who relayed word back to Hunter to... PLAY NOAH MORE THAN 35 MINUTES. When Del Negro received the message though, he decided to stick to the limit, but apparently, Paxson is not pleased at this.

3) Games to Watch the Next 4 Days

With the NBA season winding down, the only teams that are trying right now all happen to be out West... with a few in the East. Here are the races still being contested that are worth mentioning:

-Celtics vs. Hawks (Hawks up 1 game) to get the 3-seed
-Raptors (w/o Bosh) vs. Bulls (even) to get the 8-seed
-Dallas, Denver, Utah, Phoenix (separated by 1.5 games) battling for the 2 through 5 seeds
-Ok City, San Antonio, and Portland (separated by 1 game) battling for the 6, 7, and 8 seeds... and most importantly to avoid playing the Lakers. I think the Spurs and Ok City are capable of winning at least 1 playoff series... but only if they avoid the Lakers.

There are some interesting matchups the next few days (season ends Wednesday 4/14):

1) Chicago vs. Toronto - 6PM Sunday
2) Ok City vs. Portland - 10PM Monday
3) Boston vs. Chicago - 8PM Tuesday
4) Denver vs. Phoenix - 10:30PM Tuesday
5) San Antonio vs. Dallas - 8PM Wednesday
6) Phoenix vs. Utah - 10:30PM Wednesday

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Congratulations Don Nelson

Don Nelson is the all-time winningest NBA coach.

Congrats! Here are several embarrasing pictures about him.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

NBA Playoff Contenders: Eastern Conference

Out East there's far more delineation between the different tiers. In fact, I'll go on record as saying I'll be shocked if it's not Orlando and Cleveland facing off in the Eastern Conference Finals. As such the bulk of the analysis will be on those two teams. Nonetheless here's my ranking of Eastern Conference teams chances to make it to the Finals. As always numbers in parentheses are the difference in points per game and the difference in offensive and defensive efficiency . All other numbers are completely made up.

No Chance (less than 1%)
9. Chicago Bulls (-2.0 PPG, -2.6 Diff)
Given all of the Bulls injuries I'm not sure of their ceiling of course I'm not sure if they'll be healthy this year. Rose has guaranteed the playoffs so we'll see if they can make it.

8. Toronto (-1.8 PPG, -1.9 Diff)

The only thing you need to know about Toronto is they are Phoenix but worse defensively and don't have Steve Nash.

7. Milwaukee (+1.6 PPG, 0.8 Diff)
The Bucks had made great progress but one of the most disgusting injuries ever (youtube Andrew Bogut if you have a strong stomach) will mean the Bucks have no chance come playoff time.
Spoilers (1-10%)

6. Charlotte (+1.5 PPG, +1.1 Diff)
Charlotte has a great defense (statistically best in the league) but are mediocre at best offense and they turn over the ball too much

5. Miami (+2.2 PPG, +3.2 Diff)
No team with Dwayne Wade should be completely written off but the Heat don't rebound (offensively or defensively) well, have a negative turnover rate, and foul a lot.

Contenders (10-20%)
4. Boston (+4.0, PPG, +4.9 Diff)
Boston is 29th in the league in rebounding, they turn the ball over a lot, and are average shooters. That's short hand for their defense is good enough to compensate for their bad offense.

3. Atlanta (+4.7 PPG, +4.6 Diff)
Atlanta is good solid team. However they have one victory against Orlando/Cleveland in the last 2 years mainly as they can't stop Dwight Howard or Lebron James. Which I guess is a big deal.

Favorites (20%+)

1b. Cleveland (+7.1 PPG, + 8.3 Diff)
Good - For those that haven't watched the Cavs this year they have become an offensive juggernaut by some measurements they are the best in the league at offensive efficiency. They have Lebron - who statistically if having the best year of anyone since Jordan. They also are second best in the league at stopping offensive rebounding and second best at opponent field goal percentage.

Bad - They can have bad turnover games and as they don't cause turnovers get into trouble. They are last in the league in FT%. They are terrible at defending opponent's point guard (ahem Mo Williams)

Uncertain - Center Position. The Cavs got into huge trouble last year against Orlando as they couldn't stop Dwight Howard and couldn't stop Pick N Rolls. They are counting on Shaq (who has been out with an injury for 6 weeks) and Z (who was out for 4 weeks due to trade) to slow Howard down.

1a. Orlando (+6.9 PPG, +8.8 Diff)
Good - Overall they have a defense built for the playoffs. They are tops in the league at opponent FG% and tops at stopping offensive rebounding. They have by far made more 3 pointers than any other team in the league (781 with the next closest Phoenix at 681). Matt Barnes has filled the wing player defender that they missed last year and consequently might be their second best player.

Bad - Orlando doesn't cause many turnovers and they are actually a poor offensive rebounding team. Rashard Lewis has been awful.

Uncertain - Vince Carter. I'm still uncertain how Orlando has a good defense despite playing Carter...but they do. I'm uncertain how Carter will do in the playoffs. History tells us he's bad . During most of the year he followed that script by hoisting up bad shots for bad percentages instead of working within the system. HOWEVER over the last 2 months Carter is shooting nearly 50% from the field. So umm what about Carter?

The stats show Orlando as slightly more efficient (specifically on the defensive side) than Cavs although the Cavs are a better offensive team (and hence a better PPG differential). By most measures Orlando has overcome the lack of Turkglu by becoming a better defensive team (specifically with the addition of Barnes). However the Cavs are far better suited to face Orlando this year with the additions of Jamison and Shaq. I'm still sorting out who I think will win between the two but don't be fooled ....these are the two best teams in the league and they are far closer than their records suggest.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

If You Didn't Enjoy Last Night's NCAA Title Game...

...then you are not a sports fan.

Hats off to Duke and Butler on a terrific game and terrific seasons. Alas, if only Heyward had taken just a teeny bit off each of those last two shots.

NBA Playoff Contenders: Western Conference

Predictions, even NBA predictions, much like eating KFC's Double Down (for those wondering yes that is a bacon egg sandwich but instead of bread it's two pieces of fried chicken) is a dangerous, fool hearty, and ultimately suicidal endeavor. But here at the BSD I suppose that's our motto. The best predictor of playoff success in the NBA is points/efficiency (pts per possession) differences (offense minus defense) NOT record. Most of the time a team is about as good as its record but not always. So without further ado my ranking of the chances for a team to win the Western Conference. Numbers in parentheses are the difference in points per game and the difference in offensive and defensive efficiency) . All other numbers are completely made up.

No Chance (less than 1%)

8. Portland (+3.4 PPG, +4.1 Diff)

Frankly it's amazing that Portland even made the playoffs given all of their injuries. Its a testament to Brandon Roy as well as their style of play (never turning over the ball). However with no size they can't rebound which means they can't win in the playoffs.

Spoilers (1-10%)

7. Oklahoma City (+3.8 PPG, +4.3 Diff)
The young ex-Sonics are starting to show their muscle. While Durant gets much of the attention their improvement in defense is a bigger reason why they made the playoffs this year. However turnovers, specifically at the PG position, coupled with youth means wait another year.

6. Phoenix (+4.6 PPG, +5.1 Diff)
Phoenix has been the hottest team (no pun intended) in the West since the trading deadline. Amare is playing out of his mind. None of it matter though. Phoenix has the worst defense of any team headed to the playoffs and is second worse at limiting offensive rebounds in the entire league. They have a puncher's chance at knocking someone out but nothing more.

Contenders (10-20%)

5. Dallas (+1.8, +3.1 Diff)
Dallas is an enigma. In the West they have the second best record but statistically are the worst of any of the playoff teams. They get out rebounded, turn the ball over more, and are mediocre at shooting/defense. Which is short hand for while they keep eking out close victories their luck should run out in the playoffs. HOWEVER Dallas hasn't played very long/at all with this new lineup. If everyone can meld, Dallas could be formidable but so far they haven't demonstrated that capacity.

4. Denver (+4.5, +4.4 Diff)
Last season's runner up seemed to be in a good position for most of the year. However Kenyon Martin's injury has severely hampered Denver's chances. Denver is the second worst defensive team in the playoffs in the West (next to Phoenix) and is particularly poor at rebounding and keeping opponents away from the free throw line. Martin's injury exacerbates this weakness as they have no one behind him. If Martin can't go push Denver down far further on this list.

3. San Antonio (+5.0, +4.9 Diff)
Ah old semi-reliable. The San Antonio Spurs. The same formula year after year. Great defense (specifically limiting opponents FG%) and efficient offensive execution. Manu Ginobilli has been the best player in the West since Parker's injury but without Parker the Spurs no longer have the capacity to reliably beat good teams (their winning % versus teams over .500 is awful). If Parker is healthy the Spurs can contend. Heck maybe without. It's not like anyone out West fits the "reliable" moniker.

2. Utah (+5.8 PPG, + 5.3 Diff)
The Jazz somehow have cobbled together a very good team. Offensively they are as efficient as anybody - which is not surprising given that Deron Williams is as good as any point guard not named Chris Paul. The problem is that they lack size. They have two undersized power forwards and 1 undersized center and nothing else (you can see how size hurts them as they send people to the free throw line more than any other team in the playoffs). In the NBA Playoffs lack of size can be killer.

Favorites (+20%)

1. LA Lakers (5.5, +6.0 Diff)
The positives of the defending champs are pretty well known. They have Kobe Bryant and skilled Big Men. However recently the Laker's haven't nearly as mighty as they were earlier in the year, let alone last year (that's why Hollinger ranks them so low). It might very well be a great team waiting for the playoffs before they turn it on but let me lay out a few reasons that the Lakers aren't as good as they were last year.
A) Kobe - Kobe is, efficiency wise, having the worst season he's had since 2006. He's shooting more to compensate for his lower field goal percentage - which means less touches for Gasol. None of that can be considered "good".

B) Lack Of Bench - Especially without Bynum (i.e., Odom in starting lineup) and Walton the second unit has been awful. They are consistently and constantly outscored. Now maybe Bynum and Walton will get healthy and bolster the bench but come playoff time you can't get outscored by 10 every time Kobe sits

C) Age - It's easy to point at the Celtics and Spurs as being over the top but check out the core players of the Lakers...all are over 30. Derick Fisher is particularly showing his age and he's been awful this year and the Lakers have no one to replace him.

Now I still have the Lakers as my favorites to win the West for a third straight year. However the Lakers are looking shaky and unless someone improves their play like last year (ala Ariza's randomly finding his shooting prowess) don't be shocked if the Lakers get tripped up.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

McNabb Traded to Redskins

According to Adam Shefter Donovan McNabb was traded to the Washington Redskins for a 2nd round pick this year and a third or fourth round pick next year. At the theoretical level it's all about production if the newly minted starter Kolb is better than Mcnabb (I'll even say over the next 2-3 years) it's a plus to trade Mcnabb. If Kolb is worse then it's a bad trade.

Now at first glance the trade is really perplexing as the Eagles decided to trade McNabb to the Redskins rather than Raiders . However it turns playing for the Raiders might be the worst job in professional sports and the Eagles decided to reward a loyal employee by not sending him to Siberia. Yeah I know crazy ethical nonsense. What is this Sweden? Hats off to Andy Reid for treating McNabb well although it might end up biting the Eagles (which I suppose is the definition of an ethical decision). Anyway shocking to say the least......

Start of the Baseball Season....

Today marks the start of the MLB season. Consider this an open thread to put down your predictions, thoughts, etc on the new season. Or at least a holder until our esteemed Baseball Fellows put out their official predictions. My analysis from the above picture is that Abner Doubleday's Corp will defeat Oliver O. Howard's Corp to win it all.

The Day I Watched Women's Basketball

I decided I should put on the Baylor vs. UConn basketball game, which is part of the women's final four. Why? Because 4-seeded Baylor has a freshman who's 6'8" who blocks everyone's shots, and can dunk. Supposedly, from an article I read, her presence is like Wilt Chamberlain's arrival in college... there is no peer for her size, so it's not even fair. I thought it would be interesting to watch this very tall girl take on the undefeated, unstoppable UConn.

1) The start of the game was one of the strangest things I've ever seen. ESPN filmed each of the 10 starters. Each starter came on the screen introduced themselves, while wearing feminine clothing, and explained something they like to do... like "going shopping." Then ESPN put in special affects, and the girl would suddenly be in uniform, and the girl would also say something like "... and I also like to clean up the glass!" Honestly, is ESPN confused as to the target audience? Or is there some strange belief that they have to repeatedly tell us that these women aren't ugly tomboys? Honestly, I'd rather hear stories about how they go to the local gym, play pickup basketball, and destroy any group of guys that challenge them. Or perhaps more realistically, I'd rather hear each girl talk about their favorite play from the year, i.e. popping a 3 in some girl's face, making a steal, or if you are Brittney Griner explaining how you can dunk whenever you want.

2) I wish someone would have mentioned that UConn just happens to have... the SECOND-best center in the NCAA! She's a 6'4" senior, averages 18.3ppg, 9.4 rebounds, and shoots 63% from the floor. Mid-way though the first half, it seems like the UConn center is quite capable of slowing Griner down. The UConn center is much stronger and more athletic than Griner. It was surprising for me based on the articles I had read... because Griner was not able to impose her will on the game. In addition, it was really surprising how Griner was very tired from playing all the minutes and how she was not that aggressive. It really was not the earth-shattering performance I was hoping to see!

3) Well, I got distracted and then I missed most of the 2nd half of the Baylor game. Oh well. Not surprisingly, the well-oiled machine that is the UConn Huskies ended up blowing out Baylor after Baylor had cut the lead to three at one point.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Cheers and Jeers: Iron Man 2 Edition

Really this is just an excuse to show up some cool Iron Man 2 pics. Screw you if you don't like Robert Downey Jr kicking ass....

Cheers: To the Final 4. Yes not as many big names but lots of reasons to cheer and watch...Butler being a hometown team , Michigan with Izzo, what type of jump suit will Huggy Bear wear, Duke (whether there's love or hate)

Jeers: To Shaun Rogers getting arrested for having a loaded gun at the airport. Seriously, under what rock are you living if you think you can put a loaded gun in your luggage? I'm just baffled how anyone anywhere would do that. Maybe he just forgot it was in there kinda like I forgot I packed my toothbrush already.

Jeers: To KG whining about Durant getting too many calls. Your team is over the hill and slow...that's why they have to foul. Get over it....

Cheers: I love epic rants. Phil Mushnik has an epic rant on ESPN. Whether or not you agree with him (I do) you have love it for the quality of the rant
"ESPN is the monster that devoured the monster! I'm a sports fan, and when I turn on ESPN, their experts have no greater understanding than a 12-year-old. Everything is a sell. And the hosts become the shopping clerks and cash-register punchers. They want it both ways: They want to be seen as journalists when it suits their purposes, and they want to be seen as bootlickers and entertainers when it suits their purposes. How intelligent do you have to be to understand you're listening to an infomercial?"

Cheers: To our gal Scarlette . Who will be in Iron Man 2. And will be uber hot in Iron Man 2. No further comments are needed....

Thursday, April 01, 2010

NBA Notes - End of Season

Back to NBA programming here... with the season wrapping up, and most of the playoff teams already set, I thought it would be a fun time to point out some of the biggest surprises and disappointments of the season:

Biggest Surprises
1) Stephen Curry, G Golden St - fantastic 2nd half to the season has pushed his numbers to 16.5ppg, 4.2 rebs, 5.7 assists. Yahoo! pre-ranked him at 125... and he is currently 16th in the fantasy rankings.
2) Marc Gasol, C Memphis - Solid season all-around (despite the Grizz not making the playoffs); 14.6ppg, 9.3 rebs, 1.6 blocks (pre-ranked 134; currently 33rd)
3) Danilo Gallinari, NYK - 14.3ppg, 4.8 rebs, 1.5 assists (pre-ranked 166, currently 50)
4) Aaron Brooks, PG Hou - put together a great season, to follow-up on last year's playoff performance; 19.6ppg, 2.5 3ptm/gm, 2.7 rebs, 5.3 assists

Biggest Disappointments
1) Devin Harris, PG NJ - a bad season after an all-star season last year. The injuries didn't help. Ended up shooting 39.7% from the field, with 6.9 assists, but 2.8 turnovers (pre-ranked 24; currently 103)
2) Hedo Turkoglu, SF Toronto - big letdown campaign after signing for big money (11.8ppg, 4.4 rebs, 41.2% FG%); (pre-ranked 57; currently 119)
3) Charlie Villaneuva, SF Detroit - got benched at the end of the season for "not putting forth effort on defense"; put up only 11.8ppg, 4.7 rebs, 0.6 assists, in only 24mpg; pre-ranked 61, currently 133
4) Ben Gordon, SG Detroit - shot only 41% from the field; 13ppg, 2.5 assists, (pre-ranked 62, currently 208)

NBA Games of the Week (from the last 3 weeks)-
-Lakers edged the Suns on 3/12 behind 49% team FG%;
-the Cavs beat Boston on 3/14 behind superior rebounding (51-43) and a 30-8-7 game from LeBron;
-OkCity beat Utah by solid redounding (36-30) and 35 pts from Durant and 30 from Westbrook;
-The Spurs got clobbered by the Magic on 3/17 as Rashard and Vince hit 7 of 10 3s and the Magic shot 52%;
-Boston beat Dallas on 3/20 as the Celtics shot 52% and Pierce, Allen, and Rondo each had more than 20pts;
-ATL beat the Spurs in OT on 3/21 as the Hawks outrebounded the Spurs by 10 (including 18 by Horford) and Marvin Williams went 10 for 14 from the floor for 26 pts;
- Milwaukee edged ATL on 3/24 as they outrebounded the Hawks and Salmons had 32, Ridnour 18 (Jennings only played 16 minutes - this is a new trend); and Delfino 23.
***Note, if you look up Jennings, you will see that 3 of his last 6 games he's been benched (and played less than 20 minutes); notably, the Bucks are 1-2 when he gets benched, and 2-1 when he doesn't get benched during this stretch

-Utah beat the Celtics by 13 on 3/24 as Okur had 14 pts and 15 rebs; ATL FINALLY beat the Magic on 3/24 (first time in 10 tries) as Bibby hit 4 threes, despite being outrebounded 48 to 38 and shooting only 40% (they held Orlando to 37.5%);
-Boston beat Denver on 3/22 as with a solid rebounding advantage (45 to 36) and a triple double by Rondo;
-The Lakers beat the Spurs on 3/24 as the Lakers hit 10 3s and 45% from the field;
-OkCity beat the Lakers by 16 as the smaller OkCity team outrebounded the Lakers 42 to 39 (including 10 by Kristic, who can barely move now), and a 4-steal game from Westbrook with 23 pts and another 26 pts from Durant;
-Orlando beat Denver on 3/28 as the Magic got 23 pts from JJ Redick and 19 pts from 6'10" Ryan Anderson off the bench;
-San Antonio CLOBBERED Boston on 3/28 as they outrebounded Boston 48 to 37, held the Spurs to 37%, and Ginobili went for 28 pts, a +36 in only 35 minutes!
-Dallas beat Denver on 3/29 as Dirk had a triple double;
-ATL beat the Lakers on 3/30 as Maurice Evans had 18 pts off the bench, and Joe Johnson had 25 points;
-Ok City beat Boston on 3/30 as Durant had 37;