Friday, July 24, 2009

Mike vs. Elvis, Brown vs. Peach and more

The Michael Jackson death was a little strange for me. Like I mentioned, I was shocked by the news, but not surprised it happened. Like you, I fell into the "That's a shame he's gone... What's on TV?" mode, but then one night I came across the documentary "Living With Michael Jackson" and became fascinated. I began doing extensive research (Here's looking at you Wikipedia), on Mike Jack. I was a little saddened by the passing of MJ the musician, but after watching that documentary, I'm more sad for the passing of MJ, the man/father/brother/son. I expected interaction with his own children to be painstakingly forced (Much like conversation between any human beings on "The T.O. Show"), but was genuinely surprised to see that they interacted like any father would with his kids. I also learned how much he was abused as a child, physically and mentally, by his father. Child stars don't have a great track record of becoming "normal" adults, and neither do people that were abused as a child. This guy endured both, and became an even bigger star as he grew older. He really had no time to acclimate himself to regular culture as many child stars do or take the necessary time to get over his abuse, like others do. He may have been a little strange, but can you blame him?

I'm a bit different from you in terms of remembering celebrities past their prime: I always remember them at their best and their "hard times" are an afterthought. I'll always remember Favre as a Packer. I'll remember McNair suiting up for the Titans with a myriad of injuries. I'll remember Michael Jackson as the guy I danced to and imitated as a child. I only think of their respective mishaps after the fact.

In the MJ vs. Elvis talks, I would have to side with Mike here. Elvis did pave the way for many musicians of both races, but I feel Elvis the showman influenced more people than Elvis the musician. Elvis did open doors for many black performers, but he's resented in older black circles because of his allegations of stealing "black music", making a fortune off of it and being racist towards the people whose music he stole. Michael took what Elvis did as a showman, and added to it. He didn't just do music videos, he made movies. Any crude attempt you see at a movie video, is because of Jackson. Doing a full dance ensemble and singing your own lyrics is out of the ordinary these days, but it was standard for Michael. At age 50, he was planning to do just that. Chris Brown, Usher and Timberlake are hailed as great singer/dancers today, but their dancing pales in comparison to the routines MJ put together on tour. I really can't comment too much on Elvis though, because he wasn't a part of my upbringing. I've never heard an album of his, neither have my parents or anyone I know of. For the most part, Elvis' listeners were segregated. All races and nationalities listened to and grieved over Jackson, so I will go with him.

I know its sacrilege, but I've never seen the big fuss with the Beatles. I've tried listening to some of their stuff but I can't see the big deal. Enlighten me please before I get into a fist fight over the Beatles. Trust me, it's almost happened.

As far as the Black/African-American thing goes, I don't mind the term Black. The black/white thing has always been funny to me because I'm no more black, than you are white, but I do understand that brown people and peach people just don't have the same ring to it. African-American seems a bit distant to me because my roots are indeed African, but I've never been there. It seems insulting to Africans who have migrated to the USA and are truly African-Americans. Why do you find African-American more offensive?

As you said with the celebrity whose death may shock you, it would have to be someone completely unexpected. I've been a fan of Lil' Wayne for years, but I picked up tomorrows paper and found out he was dead, I wouldn't be completely shocked. I guess the top 3 that would shake me off would be, in reverse order:

3. Will Smith- I'm not his biggest fan but he was a guy I grew up listening to and watching on TV.
2. Dave Chappelle-Another guy I've liked for a long time and with his modest lifestyle, his death would really shake me up.
1. Dwight Howard- For the record, any death from the Reds/Wildcats/Magic/UK, would hurt me, but Dwight is the youngest, the most talented player on any of my teams and really seems to have his head on straight. He's a guy I've followed since high school and he's not that much older than me so his would shake me up the most.

I've read some about the Roethlisberger story and it seems to be another woman looking to get money. I've heard that Big Ben is a tool, but I really can't see him having to force himself on a woman. Not to mention, the woman only filed a civil suit which insinuates she only wants a quick pay-off. Not to make light of the situation, but these types of incidents really do create the best press conferences. From the line you mentioned from Ben's lawyer, to his staged denial of the crime, they are always good for a couple laughs. I just see Roethlisberger in the mirror practicing a way to come off innocent, but incorporating just the right amount of anger to make his innocence believable.

The Reds have been downright unwatchable lately. They looked tired in the LA series they just lost, which would be fine if they hadn't just returned from the All-Star Break. The way you are with the Tigers now, is how I was with Orlando this past season. Sure we had some good seasons, but I knew we never had a chance for the Finals. I'd check box scores when I could and watch them when they were on TV in the past. Not this past season. I updated box scores every couple of minutes for the games I couldn't catch on TV or stream from the internet. It truly is exhausting. There are twice as many games in baseball which makes it tough, but each game in the NBA, especially toward the end of the season, is critical as teams vie for home court. Its tiring, yet I couldn't imagine myself doing anything else. If I wasn't a sports fan, I'd be bored to tears.

If you're the Phillies, do you give up the necessary parts to get Roy Halladay, or do you stand pat? The Phils have said they won't meet the Blue Jays asking price, but I say they make the move. A Halladay-Hamels combo combined with that offense could take them back to the World Series. If Pedro gives them anything at all, that just sweetens the pot. I'd make the move. You?

Matt Barnes signed with the Magic to make this offseason complete...well almost complete. The icing on the cake would be Lamar Odom leaving LA for greener pastures, namely Miami. Kobe was the Finals MVP because he had the eye of the tiger/ wanted it more/ could taste it/additional overblown comment, but Odom was the guy we had no answer for. I wanted Andrew Bynum playing as much as possible, and any Phil Jackson called for Odom off the bench I knew we were in trouble. Him going to the Heat would be no cakewalk as Miami is in our division, but I much prefer him as a second option on the Heat, rather than as the sixth man off the Lakers. Lamar, if you're reading this, go to Miami. Dwyane Wade won't bitch at you. You won't come off the bench. Some good candy in Miami. There is no downfall to this move. Don't sign now Lamar, sign right now.

Football season can't get here quick enough. I really have a good feeling about the Bengals this year and can't wait to see how they will disappoint me this time. I will touch on one thing about this upcoming season. Everyone is quick to hand the Patriots the division/conference/league with Brady's return but I say not so fast. It was only a couple of seasons ago when I watched Carson Palmer come back off a similar injury that Tom Brady suffered. Everyone is penciling Brady in for another record season, but it won't be that simple. His surgery and rehab have went fine and he'll probably look great in camp but its a different story on the field. I watched Carson Palmer miss passes he normally made because he was afraid of a hit he might take. I watched him take a sack when normally he'd scramble for a couple of yards. I watched him sail a few passes over receivers heads because his timing was off. Brady's not just going to step back into 2007 form. I still don't know if Palmer is the same QB he was before the injury and I don't know if he ever will be. Pats fans have been warned.

I've been watching a lot of "Family Matters" reruns lately, and I'm a little disappointed. I honestly can't remember a show that slipped so badly from its early seasons to its later seasons. I defy one to watch any episode with a prepubescent Steve Urkel and not get a couple of laughs in. The later episodes where Urkel is about 6'3 and his voice has changed just don't do it for me. You got any shows like that?

Mike Vick is a free man. Say the Packers want him for the Wildcat offense. They sign him for the veterans minimum. What say you?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Celebrity Deaths and the Agony of Baseball Season

In theory, I agree with your "too much information" point. We shouldn't need to hear all of this information about celebrity deaths. It's one of the downsides to the 24/7 information age that the internet has provided (thanks Al Gore). If I were the family member of a celebrity, I wouldn't want all of this information getting out. If I were David Carradine's son, I wouldn't want the world to know that my dad was a sexual deviant (if he was, in fact, killed by ninjas, I would want the world to know about that). McNair's kids shouldn't have to go to school while all their classmates are thinking, "That kid's dad was killed by his mistress. He was drunk & sleeping, and she was high." It has to be hard on the families involved.
However...
I, like many people in this world, suffer from a form of rubbernecker syndrome (go Joe!). I don't really look at accidents on the side of the road (too dangerous), but I do want to know everything possible about terrible things that happen to those in a position of celebrity. Steve McNair was shot and killed? How? Who did it? Why?
I don't like that I'm like this. If I could change it, I would. But my curiosity wants to know things like this. I can't stop it. Its appetite is ferocious. I know it's bad for those close to the situation, but that doesn't change anything.
I'm sorry. I'm working on it.

Where do I stand on Michael Jackson's death? It hasn't really affected me one way or another. I suppose I'm firmly planted in the "Man, he's gone. Shake you head and go about your day," camp. I know his album sales are going through the roof right now, but the only Michael Jackson song I've listened to since his death has been "Smooth Criminal", and that's only because it was on an old playlist that I put on. I really enjoy some of his music, but I'm not completely broken up about it. Like you, I'm not in the least bit shocked. I hadn't thought about him in years, so the news that he died prompted a response of "Oh...I forgot he was still alive. I guess that's pretty sad."
He's a perfect example of what I was talking about in my last point: the guy whose career fell off towards the end and skewed my perspective of. When I think of Michael Jackson, my first thought wasn't "What a great and influential artist." Instead, my first thought was, "Freakshow." It wasn't until I actually stopped and thought about his career that I remembered how great he was. Jackson's case is different than Rice, McNair, or any of the other athletes that "stayed too long" in the game, in that the public's perspective of Jackson was skewed by his personal life. He didn't put out a ton of terrible albums in a row; rather, it was...um...other circumstances that skewed the view on him.
I had a conversation with my brother about who was more influential to music as a whole: Elvis or Michael Jackson. My answer: Elvis. In addition to inspiring a ton of popular music (The Beatles included), he also paved the way for black artists to get their music played on the radio. Sure, Jackson has done a lot for music (the rise of Justin Timberlake, to say the least), but he hasn't had the impact that Elvis did. Your thoughts?

Let's get down to some "race talk" here. I used the word "black". What do you prefer? Frankly, I find the term African-American more offensive than black, but what do I know?

Is there a celebrity death that would shake me like Michael Jackson? To really shake me, it would have to be someone that I love, yet whose death would be completely unexpected. As big of a Beatles fan as I am, I can't say that I would be shocked by the death of Paul or Ringo. I wasn't shocked by George. I would've been shocked by John's, though, as it was completely unexpected.
Pretty much any current athlete's death really messes with me. If it were an athlete from one of my favorite teams, I think that would really shake me up. Especially if it was one of my favorite players. Even though he doesn't play for one of my favorite team's anymore, Favre dying would really shake me up (it would also shake up the rest of the sports world). I don't care what he's doing or what his current motive for coming back is: I still love that man.
There are a ton of musicians that would shake me up. There are too many to list right now, but there are a lot (although a lot of them wouldn't register as much more than a blip to most people).
Heath Ledger's death really shocked me. I liked him in every movie I had seen, and, from all accounts, he was a pretty good guy. That one really shook me up for a while.
I could go on and on...but I'll refrain.
Who's on your list?

Have you been keeping up with this Roethlisberger story? At this point, I'm not sure if athletes are guilty, or if the other party is just trying to get some money out of them. I'm trying not to get too involved in this story until something definitive comes out. However, I loved this line, which came from Roethlisberger's lawyer: "Ben has never sexually assaulted anyone; especially Andrea McNulty." If he has never sexually assaulted anyone, how can he have "especially" not sexually assaulted a single person? That line absolutely kills me.

The Reds are slowly dying and the Tigers have not looked good coming out of the break. We're now tied with the White Sox for the division lead. It's not looking good in the land of baseball for us right now.
I was talking about this with one of my brothers today (and I may have mentioned it in this space before): I never really paid too much attention to baseball until recently. Sure, I'd check the scores for a while, but, once the Tigers went on their annual 12 game losing streak and were out of contention by the break, I lost all interest until the playoffs. With the Tigers playing better over the past couple of years, I check the scores every single day. I keep up with how many games they're up (or back) in the division. 162 games is a lot of games to be counting. It's exhausting, and, in my current case, extremely nerve-racking. It's tough.

When does football season start?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

AI, Air McNair and Mike Jack

I, too, would like a say a bit about Steve McNair. I had the chance to meet him when I was 8 or 9 years old after a game Tennessee had just lost and he was as nice as they come. So many of his teammates were so quick to run from the stadium to the team bus, but McNair, and a few others, stopped and talked with the fans and signed some autographs. That's the McNair that I'll remember. At first I was unsure about his status in the Hall of Fame. I read a very compelling argument for his enshrinement which compared his numbers very favorably to Troy Aikman's. The numbers were about equal...except for playoff victories where Aikman obviously had him beat. It comes down to whether you take a guy for what he was (Aikman/Emmit Smith being good players blessed by great teammates" or if you play the "what if" game with guys like McNair/Barry Sanders (Good players saddled with average teammates). I think McNair misses the HOF, but should at the very least have his number retired by the Oilers/Titans for all he did for that organization.

Also, I think too much information has come out with the McNair situation. We now know that he was sleeping when she shot him twice in the head and twice in the chest before she shot herself and attempted to fall in his lap. My question is why does the public need to know all this? All we needed to know is that McNair and his mistress were killed. The only people that should know the gory details are the coroner, the cops and the families of the deceased if they want to know. I'm honestly surprised that photos of the deceased haven't been leaked yet and I wouldn't be surprised if they were. Too much information is leaked through the media. I felt the same with David Carradine's death. All we needed to know is that he was found dead in Thailand. Am I in the wrong here?

Speaking of celebrity deaths, where did you stand in the grieving of Michael Jackson? Were you in the "Man, he's gone. Shake you head and go about your day" crowd or the "Huddle outside the hospital where he died and shed tears with strangers for days on end" crowd?" I can see you towards the latter. His death was shocking, but certainly not surprising. With the life he had lived, did anyone really see Mike growing old into his 80's? I really had no idea that Jackson's death would have this effect on the world. I read a story where a guy that claimed that Michael Jackson's music was like a father figure to him. Miley Cyrus, Hannah Montana herself, said MJ was her "inspiration". Nevermind the fact that she was born in 1992 and missed any/all of MJ's relevance in society. Thousands of people gathered in Belgium to watch his funeral on a screen. Is there any celebrity death that could have you shaken like this?

After the Vince Carter deal, you asked me how I felt and I said I'd get back to you. I think I've reached a verdict. Assuming we sign Matt Barnes, and all signs point to that happening, I love the deal and what the team will look like last year. VC and Dwight have been seen together at Summer League games and are already planning dunk contests in practice. We signed Brandon Bass and Marcin Gortat to strengthen our frontline/bench. Last year our quality big men started/ended at Dwight Howard and Marcin Gortat. We've now added Brandon Bass and Ryan Anderson to relieve them. The beauty is that any 2 of those four guys can play together at the same time. Signing Barnes would likely push Pietrus back to the bench giving us the ability to go 10 deep. I'm leery on paying Gortat 7 million a year to be Dwight's backup, but with the strides he's made since he's been here, I have little doubt that he will earn his money. Also, the combined salaries of Bass/Gortat equal the contract Turkoglu got from the Raptors. Had we brought Turk back, we would have maybe the best starting 5 in the league, and the worst bench. Now we have a great starting 5, and an equally capable bench.

PG: Jameer Nelson, Anthony Johnson
SG: Vince Carter, Mickael Pietrus, JJ Redick
SF: Matt Barnes, Pietrus
PF: Rashard Lewis, Ryan Anderson, Brandon Bass
C: Dwight Howard, Marcin Gorat, Bass

4 All- Stars in the starting lineup, and quality role players in Barnes/Pietrus/Bass/Gortat/Redick who have all played significant postseason minutes.That's a damn good team from top to bottom and one that I fully expect to be back in the championship hunt next season. Not to mention, we now have 5 quality big men, aka 30 fouls, to throw at Shaq/ Boston's front line. Kudos to GM Otis Smith for making moves to win a championship instead of standing pat. Between Orlando and UK, I can't recall being more ready for basketball season to begin.

Allen Iverson to the Clippers is a terrible move. Absolutely terrible. For no other reason than having an AI/Baron Davis backcourt and expecting anyone else to get shots, it merits bad idea status. Not to mention, there are three types of teams in the NBA.

1. Serious contenders- The Spurs/Lakers/Magic of the league- They have all the pieces in place and wouldn't dare adding a guy like Iverson to the team for the chance of killing team chemistry.

2. The middling bunch- Hawks/Heat/Jazz- There teams are good enough to make the playoffs but not good enough to make any noise yet. If they put money into a guy, it's going to be a guy that will push them into the aforementioned group.

3. The peons- The Clippers/Grizzlies/ Bucks- Teams usually in rebuilding mode. They have room and playing time for young guys and typically only take on young guys/small money contracts.

AI doesn't fit into any of those groups for a reason. Group 1 isn't going to risk messing up what they have on a headcase like AI. Group 2 wouldn't mind him, but he's not taking you from Group 2 to Group 1. At best, you tread water with him. Group 3 should only be looking towards the future and avoiding 34 year olds at all costs.

He has no place on the Clippers, who actually have a good stable of young talent in Blake Griffin/Eric Gordon/Al Thornton, which of course means that's where he will end up. LA is a big market and fans will spend money to see AI for the off chance he goes off for 40 points, even if it takes him 60 shots to get there. If AI is serious about winning, he'll accept coming off the bench and being one of the best 6th men in the league. If he still thinks hes the star he once was, he'll have to get used to scoring 20 a game for a 35 win team. I see the latter happening.

I honestly don't know how to feel about the Reds going into the break. I had some hope for them before I watched the Phillies dismantle them and the bombed out/depleted Mets take 2 of 3 from them. Now Bruce is out for at least 6 weeks, which might not be bad thing, and Cueto has had terrible starts in his last 2 outings. It just seems like they've quit on Dusty Baker. We should have been eager to beat Philly after the 22-1 drubbing they gave us, but we weren't. We should have been licking our lips to play a Mets team that hadn't won a series in 3 weeks, but they weren't. Dusty is as laid back as they come and I wonder if that's becoming a liability with such a young team. You can play the Joe Torre role on a team full of veterans, but I don't know if you can do it on one of the youngest teams in the league.

Drake was a guy I had been hearing about for months, so a while back I decided to see what the fuss was about. The first thing I heard was that he was a Lil' Wayne protege`. That immediately lowered my standards for him by 45-65 percent. I gave him a listen a few months ago, and haven't stopped listening since. I'm trying to get my hands on as much of his work as I can. He's rapper who is a more than a capable singer so he does his own hooks. He stays clear of the drugs/guns talk that Wayne loves, and most importantly, he knows how to put a song together. I'll give you a few songs to start off on, and if you like what you hear, I would be glad to send you a couple of his mixtapes.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Farewell, Air McNair

I'm like to send a fond farewell to Steve McNair. The circumstances surrounding his death only make it worse. I can't imagine how his family is feeling. Not only did they lose their husband and father, but they also found out that he was having an affair. Just a terrible situation all the way around. While I can't condone his actions, he certainly did not deserve this. My prayers go out to his family.
It's easy to forget the greatness of a player when they fall off towards the end of their career. I remember watching Jerry Rice as a kid, in absolute awe of his ability. When I think of him now, I think of those times...but I also think of his time with the Raiders and Seahawks. He wasn't terrible (he made it to the Super Bowl with the Raiders, and had two seasons of 1,000+ yards receiving with them), but he wasn't the player he was with the 49ers. The same goes with McNair. He was so quick and athletic early in his career. As age and his injuries caught up with him, he lost some of that speed and athleticism...and that's the McNair that immediately comes to mind: the slightly overweight McNair that played with the Ravens, not the athletic Air McNair that played with the Oilers/Titans. He really was a great quarterback. Hall of Fame worthy? I would say no...but he was still great.

We have made it to the All Star Break. Detroit is 48-39 and has a 3.5 game lead over Chicago for the division lead. Cincinnati is 42-45 and is trailing St. Louis by 5.0 games in the division. I feel pretty good about Detroit's lead. Cincy has a little bit of work to do to get to the top of their divison, but I think they can do it. They have the talent...they just need to put it all together. It will be tough, but I believe they can do it.

Clippers are apparently in "serious" talks with Iverson. If he goes there, how do you see it working out? Frankly, they can't get much worse. He can still slash with the best of them. If he kicks out from time to time (which he will), Baron Davis may get some more open looks this year. If he doesn't...well...like I said, they can't get much worse. They might as well give it a shot.

I'm not familiar with Drake. I may have to check him out.

Friday, July 3, 2009

B-Ball and Transformers

Good analysis on the 6 man rotation. You broke down the Tigers so I'll talk a little bit about the Reds. I think the 6 man rotation could work in Cincinnati. Here's the potential rotation, if/when Volquez gets healthy:

1. Volquez
2. Harang
3. Arroyo
4. Cueto
5. Owings
6. Bailey

Not a bad 6 if you ask me. I don't know how many (if any) Cy Youngs would be split amongst that group, but you could do a lot worse scraping together 6 pitchers. Harang and Arroyo are into their 30's so an extra day off might not be a bad idea. Volquez is battling injuries, which I pray won't linger, so another day off to protect your ace wouldn't hurt. Cueto and Owings have been pitching better lately so the only question mark is Bailey, and he's only 23. At some point they have to see what they have in him. He's too good for AAA, but maybe not quite ready for the bigs, but you have to give him a full season in my opinion. I wouldn't mind seeing him every 6 days, assuming he's not getting shelled like he was a year ago. He pitched well in his last outing so there's always faith.
A 6 man rotation would also allow your ace's to pitch on short rest during must win stretches. You ask if I'd rather have Harang or Bailey for those 6 starts, and honestly I'd say Bailey. I said before the season that I think this year is the rebuilding year and that next year we can make some noise, so I'd rather see the 23 year old with potential rather than the 32 year old, who's probably reached his ceiling.

Keeping with the Reds, there's been talk of us making a trade for Matt Holliday. Holliday is a fine player, but I'd rather hold off on the trade, for a couple reasons.

1. He's a free agent after the season and I don't want to give up young arms for a half season rental of Holliday.
2. Even with him, that may get us into the playoffs but it wouldn't get us past the first round. If I give up young arms for some pop in the middle of the lineup, I'd like it to be for a guy that could help us win a series or two in the playoffs. Say Homer Bailey and some minor leaguers for...Albert Pujols?
3. Holliday is hitting .275 and has 8 homers. That's the pop our lineup needs? His great numbers in Colorado have shrunk considerably in Oakland. I think they'd level out in our small ballpark, but I think his days of 35 homers, 120 RBI are done. I know Nix, Bruce, Dickerson and Taveras haven't been tearing it up, but mortgaging the future for a 29 year old hitting .275 seems a bit iffy to me.

If the deal is made, I won't be devastated, but I really would rather see what we have this season. Our lineup has been struggling all season, and we're only 2 games back. Let's get Volquez and Votto healthy and see if we can't gain some ground in the weak NL Central.

I like the Gordon and Villanueva signings too...for Orlando. Part of the reason Detroit gave Orlando trouble was because of their toughness and their ability to throw big after big at Dwight. Losing Sheed and McDyess and replacing them with Charlie Villanueva is music to my ears. Villanueva is a solid player, but the knock on him is that he coasts through games. He did it at UConn and he did it in Milwaukee. I wonder how that will play in a blue collar city like Detroit. Like you, I wonder what becomes of Rip Hamilton. Stuckey is Dumars golden child so he's going nowhere. Rip doesn't like coming off the bench and I wonder why Gordon would leave Chicago just to come off the bench for another team. Playing Gordon at the point would be disastrous as he probably has the worse shot selection of anyone in the league. Detroit already has the non-offensive center that you're looking for. Remember me?

I think Artest to LA is the best move of the offseason thus far. If they get Odom back, they are absolutely the team to beat for as long as Ron Artest's Ritalin prescription is good for. With Artest, Kobe still gets to hide on defense and Artest gives them a toughness they haven't had in years.

The worst? Ariza to Houston. If Yao and T-Mac were healthy and Ariza came to do the same things he did for Kobe and Gasol, this is a great move. But neither Yao nor T-Mac will be healthy this season. That means Ariza will likely be the go-to guy for that Houston team. Eek. Houston's best bet would have been playing their young guys in Brooks/Wafer/Landry, etc for a season and probably getting a lottery pick. T-Mac's contract comes off the books next year so they have tons of money, a lottery pick and maybe a healthy Yao for the 2010 season. Instead they're paying Trevor Ariza 33 million dollars a year to shoot 35 percent from the field next year. Eek.

I will admit, I am officially worried about Orlando though. In less than a month, we've lost three starters and two bench players off of a team that got us to the Finals. I really wanted to keep Turkoglu and Gortat but you don't give 5 years/50 million dollars to a 30 year old man, and you don't pay 25 million dollars for a guy to play 10 minutes a game behind Dwight Howard. I wish them both well and hope they both have success, especially since they are in the Western Conference. I haven't given up hope yet though because there are still some solid free agents out there. Guys like Leon Powe, Antonio McDyess, Matt Barnes, Brandon Bass and Anderson Vareajo are all still available. We've got some money to spend with Gortat/Turk leaving town, so I'm hoping we can get some combo of Barnes/Bass/McDyess to fill out our bench.

I'm convinced that next season the Cavaliers, Magic, Celtics, Lakers, Blazers and Spurs will all win 55+ games next year and everyone else will win 10-15 games. There will be no in between. It seems like this offseason, all these teams made major moves, and everyone else stood pat.

Now for my thoughts on "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen". I'll preface it by saying I did not see the first one, nor had I read any of the reviews for the second one when I saw it.

-It was entirely too long. I'm a firm believer that if you can't get your point across in about 100 minutes, maybe you should head back to the drawing board. TROTF is 150 minutes.
-There's too much going on. I couldn't tell what was going on half of the time because the special effects were on warp mode.
-There are too many characters, including two ridiculous robots, that the movie could have done without. At some points, it's hard to tell who's fighting who.
-The best way I can sum this up is that three boys, aged 9 or 10, sat in front of me in the theater. They 'ooh-ed" and "ahh-ed" at every fight scene and repeated every semi-funny line ad nauseum. If your 10 years old, I can absolutely see why you'd love this movie: Bright lights, robots fighting and Megan Fox. It wasn't bad, just not quite my cup of tea...of course that means it will gross 9 figures and give way to at least two more Transformer movies.

Are you familiar with Drake?

The Six Man Rotation, Free Agency, and The Hangover

In response to your baseball post about a 6 man pitching rotation:
If a team has 6 pitchers that are good enough to make the starting rotation, more power to 'em. But most teams don't have 6 good starting pitchers. A lot of teams don't even have 4 good starting pitchers. Usually, when a team gets to their 5th starter, they know they have to dial up the offense a little, because the other team is going to get more runs. That's not to say that every team's 5th starter is awful...but there is generally a reason why they are the 5th starter. If they have a 6th starter who is just as good as the 5th starter, they should go for it.
However, a 6 man rotation will take starts away from the front of your rotation. Let's say a team is able to pull off a 6 man rotation for an entire year (162 games). Now, for the sake of ease on my part, let's assume that team is the Tigers. Assuming the health of all these pitchers for an entire year (not likely), the rotation may look something like this:

1. Verlander
2. Jackson
3. Porcello
4. Gallaraga
5. Bonderman
6. Willis

(I realize that it's a stretch with some of these guys, but, since this is a hypothetical situation, just bear with me.)
Verlander, Jackson, and Porcello (spots 1-3) are all good, solid pitchers. Gallaraga (spot 4) is a little spotty. He's capable of a great performance, but he's also prone to his down games. Bonderman (spot 5) is a wildcard; a once great pitcher who is battling injuries. In his one start this season, he did not look great. For the sake of this argument, we'll assume that he comes back next year, but is not nearly as effective as he used to be, thus earning him a spot on the back end of the rotation. Willis (spot 6) has control issues (and that's putting it mildly), but there's still a hint that he may return to his previous form.
Under the currently used, 5 man rotation, each of the 5 starters would get 32.4 starts per season. Or, looking at it without fractions, we'll say that Verlander and Jackson would get 33 starts per season, while Porcello, Gallaraga, and Bonderman would get 32 starts.
Under the new, 6 man rotation, each starter would get 27 starts per season. So the 6th starter (Willis) is taking away 6 starts from spots 1-2, and 5 starts away from spots 3-5. Would you rather Willis (with a history of control problems) taking away 6 starts from Verlander, or would you want Verlander pitching those 6 games? Who gives you a better chance to win?
To put it in Reds terms: would you rather have Harang or Bailey on the mound for those 6 games?
Each team is different...I realize that. If your team doesn't necessarily have an ace, you might not care if those starts go to someone else. If you're taking a season to rebuild and develop some young pitching (I'm thinking about the Marlins), you might want to look at a 6 man rotation.
There are pros and cons to each situation. Personally, I don't think I'd want the Tigers to try that...not for too long, anyway.

Big pickups for the Pistons. Gordon and Villanueva in one day. I like it. I'm curious as to what their starting lineup is going to look like, though. Are they planning on keeping Rip and playing Gordon off the bench? Trying Gordon at PG? Are they going to try to pick up a center in free agency? I think they have enough scoring that they can afford to have a non-offensive center (like they did with Ben Wallace); someone who will grab some rebounds and alter shots in the paint.
I really like the idea of Prince and Villanueva playing together. Villanueva seems to be a pretty overlooked player, all but forgotten since he went to the Bucks. Good player, though. I think he can do great things in Detroit.

Orlando is getting looted, though. Turkoglu heading to the Blazers. Gortat looks to be going to the Mavs. They'll still be good next year (especially if Vince Carter can produce), but how do you see these moves affecting them?

Neither the Pistons or Magic grabbed Ariza. I think we can both share in a sigh of relief.

I'm excited about Meeks heading to the Bucks. Playing with Redd, I think he could do good things. Now, if only they televised Bucks games around here, we'd be set. Good luck, Jodie.

I saw The Hangover last night. Very enjoyable. Zach Galifianakis stole the movie. I love that guy. The whole movie wasn't hysterical, but there were a lot of extremely funny moments. It's not the best comedy ever made (as I've heard some people call it), but I really liked it.