Sunday, June 27, 2010

Chris Paul to Orlando???

The NBA Draft was last week, and I'm angry. Angry because everyone seems to be hyped about how Kentucky got 5 players in the first round. While I am happy for the guys, the fact that we didn't win a championship with this talent makes me angry. We didn't even make it to the Final Four with them, yet Calipari says this may be one of the biggest days in the history of Kentucky basketball? Laughable. However, the Draft was the best recruiting tool Cal could have. "Look at me 5 star high school recruits! I put 5 guys in the first round! Let's make it 6 next year, NIT be damned!" All in all, I think the Cats players landed in pretty good spots. Wall gets to take the helm in Washington and start the rebuilding. With the Wizards acquring Kirk Hinrich and his contract, I have to believe they have a deal in place involving Gilbert Arenas. Maybe to Memphis in a sign and trade for Rudy Gay? DeMarcus Cousins will form a nice combo with Tyreke Evans in Sacramento. Patrick Patterson was made to play in Houston as another hustle guy off the bench. Eric Bledsoe gets traded to LA where he gets to play behind Baron Davis, who surprisingly played in 75 games last year! I'm not big on Bledsoe as a NBA player, but he couldn't have found a better spot for him to learn behind a veteran and get some minutes off the bench immediately. Daniel Orton found his way to Orlando, in a head scratching move, unless....

Unless, the rumors about Chris Paul coming to Orlando are true. I've been hearing them consistently enough over the past week just enough to get my hopes up, but not enough to expect it to happen. Apparently, the deal is Jameer Nelson and Vince Carter for Chris Paul. I'm sure some cap fillers would be added to make the numbers match, but what a deal for Orlando. I'd trade Vince Carter for a hot meal, so the deal is pretty much Jameer for Paul. I love Jameer, but he's no Chris Paul. This deal is obviously one sided in favor of Orlando, so I'm assuming that Marcin Gortat has to be included somehow. If he's traded, Daniel Orton as a backup makes sense, unless New Orleans had their eye on Orton and the pick was made for them. Either way, any combination of players/picks not involving Dwight Howard, that involves Orlando getting Chris Paul is square with me. The talk has died down lately because I've learned that Paul and Gortat are still on BYC, Base Year Compensation deals, meaning the value of their contract is inflated to 125% until July 1. After then, it goes back to normal and hopefully the trade talks will resume. To no one's surprise, I've been working the trade machine like a mad man and here's what I've come up with.

To Orlando: Chris Paul, James Posey
To New Orleans: Jameer Nelson, Vince Carter, Marcin Gortat, Tayshaun Prince
To Detroit: Emeka Okafor

-Orlando does this deal to get Chris Paul and get rid of Vince Carter. Simple enough. Posey is a throw in to make the salaries match, but could really help this team with Matt Barnes probably on his way out.

-New Orleans does this to get Paul out of the conference and get two of three things you want when you trade a star: Young talent (Gortat) and cap space (VC and Tayshaun's deal could give NO up to 25 mil of cap space next summer). This third thing you want are draft picks, but Orlando's picks are perennially in the late 20's and Jameer Nelson on a reasonable contract>>whatever you can get there.

-Why do your Pistons get involved? NO needs someone to take Okafors contract and the Pistons need big men in bad way. They get rid of Tayshaun's expiring deal, because let's be honest: Are they going to use that cap space? After giving Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva a combined $90 million last summer, do you WANT Joe Dumars to have that access to that? Of course not. Okafor isn't bad, he's just overpaid and could immediately pair up with first round pick Greg Monroe to give the Pistons some much needed help inside. I'll snap back to reality now.

After dropping 6 of their last 7, the Reds have now won 5 in a row and are a rain delay away from hopefully making it 6. The offense has really come alive and first place is back in our possession, albeit by half a game. Brandon Phillips, Joey Votto and Scott Rolen have been hitting well, but that's no surprise. The surprise is Jay Bruce. Since that clutch pinch hit in the first game of the Oakland series, Bruce has been on fire: 10-16, 4 RBI's and only two strikeouts. In those five games, he's raised his batting average 20 points! For a good bit of the first part of the season, Bruce was struggling to get to .200, and now he's flirting with .300. Your Tigers are only a couple games back as well. All appears to be good on the baseball front.

Have you gotten into the World Cup any? I haven't watched a single minute of it and people are making me feel like I'm Un-American for it. I have no regrets.

After listening to the new Roots CD a couple of times, I must say I liked it. I agree with you that the number of guest spots was a little high, but they weren't necessarily bad guest spots. "Walk Alone", "Radio Daze" and "Doin' It Again" are a few of my favorites. "The Fire" and "Hustla" left something to be desired, but still a quality album. That Jimmy Fallon has some ear for music.

Please don't kill me for that last sentence.

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Worst Time of the Year

Well, the Finals are over and the Lakers are again champions. The Celtics had their chances to win Game 7 but couldn't hold their lead, thanks to John Starks showing up and putting on Ray Allen's uniform. Kobe Bryant had an awful shooting night and early on put up some of the worst shots I've ever seen, but towards the end he did what he had to do to close the deal. He drove to the basket, nailed his free throws and crashed the boards. I've come to the conclusion that I don't mind Kobe Bryant. I think he's a bad teammate and seemingly a phony person, but a hell of a ballplayer. It's his fans I can't stand. I've heard arguments in the last week that Kobe is now better than Michael Jordan (false, in my opinion), that the Lakers should have built around him the day he was drafted (and traded the most dominant player ever in his prime for an 18 year old kid) and that Kobe has "again" carried a team of scrubs to a title (The disrespect Pau Gasol gets is unbelievable). I don't mind Kobe. Hell I enjoy watching greatness, but I don't like the part where his fans can't admit he took some horrible shots on the way to that 6-24 shooting performance in Game 7 and the I don't like Shaq and Gasol being dismissed as role players in LA's title runs. Another thing I don't like? How this LA team is set up for at least one or two more runs. All their main guys are locked up and if they get upgrade the PG position and get a scorer off the bench, I'll be legitimately frightened.

I do agree with you that this was a bad ending to an even worse playoffs. From overmatched teams (Charlotte, Utah) to teams that outright quit (Atlanta) to stars being sent home early (Cleveland, Orlando) to the horrible officiating (Every single game) this will be one to forget. Was there a great series? The Finals were solid, but I wouldn't call them good basketball. Suns-Lakers was decent. Celtics-Cavs was good from a shock standpoint, but I can't point to a great series like Orlando-Cleveland or Boston-Chicago last year. However, Ron Artest's post game press conference may have made up for everything. It has everything I want in a press conference. Humor? Ron Artest screaming "I got Wheaties!" cracks me up. Insight? His take on the Pacers situation is interesting and a big reason I like Artest. He's an open book. Several family members on the podium? Done and done. Check it out if you haven't.



With hoops over, I've already got my eye on pigskin. I caught a replay of a Steelers-Bengals game from 2006 and was captivated all over again. The Bengals needed a win to make the playoffs, while the Steelers were playing for pride in Bill Cowher's last game. Chad Johnson was making Super Bowl party plans with Najeh Davenport before the game and all seemed right in the world. Chris Henry turned in a 124 yard day with a TD to boot. Palmer looked like the Carson I know and love, which leads me to really think he was injured last season. I watched the game hoping the outcome would change. It didn't. We still lost on a 67 yard Roethlisberger to Holmes TD in overtime. It's strange how so many things change even though that game was just a couple of seasons ago. Big Ben to Santonio is a thing of the past. Chris Henry will never suit up again. The Bengals are now a grind it out team, instead of an air it out team. I need football in my life. Fall can't come soon enough. Everything I read about the team says first rounder Jermaine Gresham is looking good. Palmer is looking great and even Pacman Jones is turning some heads for all the right reasons. Andre Smith is still dealing with lingering foot issues but I caught a glimpse of him and he appears to be in great shape. I am indeed ready for some football.

I knew the early days of summer would be coming soon. How did I know? Because the Reds have lost 7 of their last 9. Not because I checked some silly calendar. The Mariners just swept us in a three game series where we scored all of one run combined. Rookie Sam LeCure has continued to impress me even though his 1-4 record is...well, not very impressive. Consider that in his four losses he has faced Chris Carpenter, Matt Cain, Zach Greinke and Felix Hernandez. Also, in his losses, he has gotten run support in the form of 5 combined runs in all four games. We're not exactly the 1927 Yankee's out there on offense, but we are putting together what appears to be a solid rotation. Cincy is only 1.5 games back of the Cards, and the Cubs are in a somewhat distant third, so I haven't given up just yet.

A little late, but surely you've heard about Vince Young and his strip club fisticuffs. The fight allegedly began after someone gave VY the Hook Em Horns upside down! My question is this, what would some have to say about your alma mater that would bring you to blows? I can't think of a single thing someone could say about UK that would make me fight, other than "That place is a respectable University that genuinely cared for its students and pinched every penny to save costs for them." Thems fighting words.

I haven't listened to that Roots yet but it's next on my list. I've listened to quite a few things over the past couple of weeks. The Drake CD grew on me a lot. I'm ready to give it a B- after an initial grade of D. The Janelle Monae was outstanding. I just listened to Ludacris' latest album Battle of the Sexes and was underwhelmed. I'm almost out on Luda. I've been listening to him forever but have enjoyed his last three albums less and less. Here's to hoping The Roots album holds me over until Rick Ross' and Big Boi's albums respectively drop.
Ah...the end of basketball season.  I was hoping for a truly epic Game 7...something I would remember years from now.  As it turns out, I probably will remember it years from now...but for all the wrong reasons.  I will remember the Finals, as a whole, as a series that was plagued with terrible officiating.  I haven't seen officiating in a Finals this bad since the refs decided that they didn't want the Mavericks to be NBA champions, and gave that title to the Heat.
Game 6 was called pretty loosely...but it was a blow-out.  The first half of Game 7 was called pretty loosely, too...but they clamped down in the second half and decided they wouldn't allow even a hint of contact (to be fair, the Celtics did get really sloppy in the 4th quarter).  This could have been a great series...instead I'll just remember the terrible officiating and a sloppy Game 7.
I was pulling for the Lakers, but only because of my extreme hatred of the Celtics.  I was happy that the Lakers won...but not as happy as I could have been.  Even beyond who won, I wanted a good series.  There were some good performances, but there wasn't anything truly memorable about this Finals.  It went 7 games, which should have been awesome...and it just wasn't.  It was a pretty disappointing Finals.  Oh well...there's always next year.

Some siblings and I went up to Detroit this past weekend to catch a couple of Tigers games.  It's the first time I've seen the Tigers in person since the days of Whitaker, Trammell and Fielder.  They lost the first game (a 6-5 heartbreaker to the Diamondbacks), but won the second (a 3-1 victory...complete with back-to-back home runs).  All-in-all, we had a great time.  The park is beautiful...I highly recommend hitting up a game if you're ever in the area.  However, the area surrounding it makes me pretty sad.  Comerica Park and Ford Field sit pretty much side-by-side in downtown Detroit.  The block surrounding the area is pretty nice...but, past that first block is nothing but crumbling buildings that have been empty for years.  Some of these buildings are huge, which only makes it sadder.  It's a terrible time for Detroit right now, and there doesn't appear to be any end in sight.
I will say this, though...the good fortunes of the Tigers does seem to lift the spirits of some of the people there (though definitely not all...during the two-block walk to our parking spot, we passed no fewer than 5 homeless people).  As we were driving out of the city, we saw a homeless guy walking through a field in front of some of these abandoned buildings.  We looked over, he raised his fist and proclaimed, "Those Tigers are looking good!"  He had a huge smile on his face.  Is it possible the man was crazy and wanted to kill us?  Sure...but it's more likely that the Tigers winning streak had given him a reason to be happy.  I scoff at the notion that a team can lift up an entire decimated city...but, as we witnessed, it can work on a small scale.

With the end of the NHL and NBA seasons, I now turn my attention fully to the Tigers...and keep an eye on the upcoming NFL training camp reports.  The Tigers are in the hunt, and the Packers are primed for a good year.  Ah...the anticipation.

I've listened to that new Roots CD a couple of times.  I'm not really impressed with it.  It reminds me of their last album (Rising Down).  Too many guest spots taking away from the Roots sound.  I'm going to listen to it a number of times, and I hope it gets better.  But, as of now, I'm extremely unimpressed.  You're better than this, fellas...time to show it again.

Monday, June 7, 2010

NBA Finals and a little baseball

Despite some horrible officiating in both games, this NBA Finals hasn't been bad so far. Like you mentioned, after Game 1 I had a hard time seeing Boston pulling this series out, but the wacky Finals format benefits them. All they had to do was split the first two, which they did, and now they get three games at home. If they can take two of those, they go back to LA with two chances to close it out. I can't see them winning all three in Boston, so a 3-2 lead going into Game 6 is the best they could hope for. You said the Lakers are a more physical team than the Celtics, and I don't know if that is true. In 2008, Boston's physicality trumped the Lakers talent/finesse. The Lakers are basically the same type of team now, they just have more talent. In 2008 the Lakers trotted out a Gasol-Odom-Radmanovic-Bryant-Fisher starting lineup. In 2010, Gasol moves back to his natural position, where he can abuse an older KG. Bynum didn't play then and has looked great so far in making Kendrick Perkins worthless for this series. He's listed at 7 feet, 285 pounds but I'm not buying it. Have you seen how he towers over everyone else? He's at least 7'4, 376 pounds. Artest is guarding Pierce instead of Radmanovic this time around. And they can still bring Now-and-Later Odom off the bench. The Lakers are just more talented.

LA has also gotten to the rim more than I think they did the entire 2008 Finals. Perkins isn't a presence at the rim and KG can't help like he used to. They were practically running a layup line out there. Still, I expect this awful officiating to continue and Boston will get the benefit of the calls these next three games. Ray Allen showed what he can do when he doesn't get whistled for BS calls and Paul Pierce will surely step it up at home. This is still a wide open series in my opinion.

You know, I actually meant to catch some of the Blackhawks-Flyers during breaks of the NBA Finals, but it slipped my mind. I forgot all about it. I'm fascinated with the Marian Hossa thing. Chicago won last night, but if somehow Philly comes back to win the Cup, does he kill himself at center ice? He has to doesn't he?

That was an excellent article you posted about the Galarraga-Jim Joyce debacle. Everything that could be said about it has been said, so I'll be brief: I think Galarraga wins here, moreso than if he was actually credited with the perfect game. He gets the sympathy vote from any and everyone, the way he handled himself was commendable and anyone with common sense knows that Galarraga pitched a perfect game that day and they won't soon forget it. To his credit, I do think the tears of Jim Joyce were genuine and he feels worse than anybody about this. I love the rest of the Tigers fighting for Galarraga. If that happened to Aaron Harang, Dusty Baker would still be at the top of the steps thinking about what he's going to have for dinner.

Actually, maybe I should take it easy on Dusty. As we speak, the Reds are coming off a win an 11th inning win against the Nationals and are currently tied for first place. Votto and Rolen have provided some pop for Cincy. Jay Bruce rebounded from a horrible start and has his average in the .260's now and Mike Leake has been a very pleasant surprise on the mound. I'm not getting my hopes up because I know we can lose 9 of 13 in a heartbeat, but it is nice to still be relevant a whole two months into the season!

Would you be opposed to changing the name of this blog to "This week in defending Dwight Howard against ridiculous claims..."? I forgot to mention another part of Jason Whitlock's absurdity about Dwight. He mentioned that annoying ABC commercial for the show Wipeout! He talks about how it's no wonder that Dwight and Amare Stoudemire are at home right now. They are so immature they would rather shoot foolish commercials like that. Uh, look a little closer Jason. That's Pau Gasol in there...the same Gasol currently beasting in the NBA Finals. Former Finals MVP Tony Parker also made a cameo. He went on to talk about how Amare/Dwight grew up in the AAU circuit and their basketball minds are too immature to win. Then he went on to praise the "grown man" play of Rajon Rondo...the same Rajon Rondo that is younger than Dwight and Amare! Was he not involved in the same AAU circuit? Nevermind the fact that he's playing with 3 Hall of Famers, his success comes because he refuses to shoot commercials for ABC. Makes sense. No knock on Rondo, but let's give Dwight 3 future HOF's that have yet to win a ring and see how things turn out. Send Steve Nash, Dirk and LeBron James to Orlando and then we can have this conversation.

Just yesterday an interview with Charles Oakley came out where Oakley says of Dwight that "He wouldn't have even made the league 10 years ago." Really, Oak? Dale Davis was an All-Star in the year 2000. The living poster that was Shawn Bradley was a starting center in the year 2000, yet Dwight Howard wouldn't have even been able to make the league? Mind you that in 2000, a 36 year old Oakley was giving the league hell with his 6 ppg, 6 rpg and 41% FG shooting. The Dwight hate is disgusting and I don't even know where it comes from! He's not wearing shirts that display his personal achievements or taking co-eds in club bathrooms. The worst you can say for him is that after he publicly spoke on his Christian faith, he had a child out of wedlock with a Magic dancer. You want to look down from Mount Pious and call him a hypocrite? That's your business but to say he wouldn't have made the league just 4 years before he was the #1 pick is humorous.

In lighter Dwight news, he's heading to Texas this summer to work with Hakeem Olajuwon on some post moves and I'm pretty excited. Pat Ewing has done a good job, but Hakeem's athleticism is more comparable to Dwight so I'm hoping he can teach him a thing or two. I'd love to see him work with David Robinson as well, as their builds/athleticism are very similar. I'm not expecting Dwight to come out averaging 40 a game next season, but I am definitely stoked about this news.

Drake first album leaked earlier this week and I listened to it. Underwhelming to say the least...on first listen. I gave it another listen before I was going to delete it, and enjoyed it the second time right around. There's a lot more singing than some would like, and the album is different production wise than a lot of stuff coming out right now, but it's not bad. It's a very solid debut album and worth checking out. Here it is if you're interested. I haven't listened to that Janelle Monae yet but I will soon.


Saturday, June 5, 2010

NBA, NHL, and Galarraga

Sorry about your Magic.  The talk after their loss just shows how the media views LeBron and Dwight.  The Cavs lost because LeBron didn't have a great team around him.  Granted, he was basically playing with role players and a past-his-prime Shaq...but so was Dwight.  And, frankly, I'd rather have LeBron's teammates than Dwight's.  Dwight's two big scorers (Lewis and Carter) both had a terrible series.  Like, not even a glimmer of being good.  Had they put together a solid series, they could have won.  But both guys played terribly on defense.
So the Cavs lost because of LeBron's teammates...and the Magic lost because Dwight jokes too much?  That makes no sense.  Is that what has become of NBA columnists?  That's shameful.  C'mon Whitlock...you're better than that.
Of course, many times Whitlock writes ridiculous articles to try to piss people off...it's his job to play devil's advocate every now and then.  This was probably one of those times.

Before the Finals started, I had the Lakers winning in 6.  Now, after Game 1?  I think I have the Lakers in 5.  I figure we'll have a better handle on the series after Game 2, but I just can't see Boston winning this series.  If they have a shot, it will be because of Ray Allen.  He was out with foul trouble for most of Game 1, but, when he's in, he can be dangerous.  His three-point shooting can spread the floor and create more opportunities for the rest of the team.  I can't see Pierce shaking loose of Artest.
The most telling difference between this year and 2008: in the third period, Garnett was alone under the basket.  He went to jump...and didn't make it to the rim.  He's listed at 6'11", and he couldn't dunk.  So he tried a little lay-up...and it just hit the front of the rim.  He got it back, but, by that time, he was surrounded...so he went up again, this time in traffic.  Same result.  Lakers got the rebound.  In 2008, he dunks that ball and insults Kobe's mother.  Not this year.
After Game 1, Gasol called out Garnett.  Basically, he said, "He's old.  It happens.  He's just not as good."  A couple of years ago, Garnett would come out with freakish intensity and try to destroy Gasol.  He'll come out with intensity in Game 2...but he can't make Gasol pay for those comments.  He got abused in Game 1, and, if Gasol and Bynum play like that for the rest of the series (I see no reason that they won't), Garnett has no shot.  The Lakers are a more physical team than the Celtics....did you ever think you would hear that?

One big problem I had with Game 1...something that the announcers seemed to overlook on purpose.  In the third period, Tony Allen went up for a monster dunk...and Kobe appeared to block him.  At the time, I was amazed.  "What a great defensive play."  The announcers went crazy.  "That's why he's the best player in the league.  What great timing & intensity."  However, the replays clearly showed that the ball was slipping out of Allen's hand as he went up.  Kobe tipped the ball a little, but it had already left Allen's hand at the time.  A good play?  Sure...but not a blocked dunk.  Yet, even after watching the replay at least 5 times, the announcers continued to pretend that Kobe blocked the dunk.  I normally like Van Gundy's team, but I was not a fan of that.

Let's talk hockey.
After the Hawks won the first two, the Flyers came back home to tie up the series at 2-2.  Both of these teams are physical, fast, and can score in a hurry.  All of the games so far have been extremely entertaining.  The Hawks and Flyers are not the biggest teams in the league, but this has been a surprisingly good series.  If you get a chance on Sunday, flip over to Game 5 during breaks in the Lakers/Celtics series.  I think you'll like it.  (I also think you'll hate Chris Pronger.  He's a dirty, dirty player, yet every announcer feels compelled to talk about how great he is a minimum of 5 times every game.)

I'll tell you the extent of my UFC watching experience: I watch the "greatest knockout" highlights (you really need to watch these...they're fantastic), and have seen a handful of matches.  My brother used to watch it quite a bit, and this is his review of it:
It used to be great.  You had a ton of different styles all meeting.  You had the strikers (charging, fast-punchers), the big guys (there was a guy named Tank who just pummeled the hell out of people), and the grapplers.  As it got more popular, everyone got better...and it was obvious that the grappling style was more conducive to winning.  So, instead of a bunch of guys throwing knees to the face (highly enjoyable), you have a bunch of guys grappling each other...usually one of them is on the ground with his legs around the other guy's waist, keeping him at arm's length the entire time.  It slowed down, and became more boring.
Seriously though...watch some of the "greatest knockout" stuff.  There are some terrific moments.

Finally, I'd be remiss not to mention the Galarraga debacle.  I was watching that game.  At the end, my response was the same as Cabrera's...I celebrated, then looked back at the screen in disbelief.  "Wait...what?  Safe?  That's not right.  He was clearly out.  But his hands made the safe sign...right?  I didn't just imagine that?"
I was livid.  I was calling for Jim Joyce's head.  "How could he miss that?  That was a perfect game, and he missed it.  That's ridiculous."  After I cooled down a little, I still wanted to murder Joyce...but then I read a ton of stuff that happened afterwards.  Galarraga's response to that call was priceless: he smiled.  He didn't get mad.  He didn't yell.  He turned back to the mound and smiled.  After the game, a number of Tigers ran over to yell at Joyce.  Laird had to be pulled away (he had murder in his eyes).  Galarraga smiled, and went to the clubhouse.  When interviewed, he said, "I didn't see the call.  He could've been safe.  I'm not sure."  Joyce went back, watched the replay...and immediately said, "I blew that."  He went in front of reporters to say how wrong he was.  He kept repeating, "I kicked the shit out of that call."  He eventually said, "I just robbed that kid of a perfect game."  He sought out Galarraga in the clubhouse, apologized profusely.  While apologizing, he started crying.  Galarraga gave him a hug.  Before the next game, Galarraga handed the line-up card to Joyce, and they shook hands.
Am I upset about losing the perfect game?  Sure.  In their 110 years of existence, the Tigers have never had a perfect game.  It hurts.  But the way that situation was handled by both parties was really cool.  Galarraga could've said, "He cost me that game.  He should never work in baseball again."  Joyce didn't have to say anything.  Umps don't have to justify or explain their calls to the media.  But both parties handled it with a class that I didn't think I would ever see in a situation like that.  I'm proud of Galarraga for the grace in which he handled that situation, and I'm proud of Joyce in the way he acknowledged how badly he had screwed up.  It won't show up as a perfect game in the history books...but everyone who watched that game knows that it was a perfect game.  And there's something very cool about that.
Read this article if you have a chance.  It's terrific.

Lost in all the Jim Joyce hubbub was Austin Jackson's terrific catch.  The 9th inning starts, and the first batter hits a ball hard out into the outfield.  Off the bat, I thought it was a double.  But Jackson got a great jump (he always does) and has great speed.  He closed on it, but it still didn't look like he would get there.  But then, he made an amazing over-the-shoulder catch.  Huge moment.  Terrific catch.  Watch this replay...I love the reaction in the dugout.



One final thought on this.  I can understand Selig not wanting to overturn the call after the fact.  That is a slippery slope.  If he overturns that call, where does it stop?  Sure, there are some ways he could've changed this, but he didn't.  In the future, I like the idea of having each manager getting one challenge per game.  That could work really well.
However...
I was talking to my brother about this right after the game, and we decided that it should have been a no-hitter.  The runner reached base, but it should have been ruled an error.  The ball was fielded and thrown to the pitcher, who was covering the base.  He should have made the play.  In the eyes of the ump, he didn't make the play.  That should be an error, charged to the pitcher.  It's not a perfect game, but a no-hitter is a pretty big achievement, too.  I never read a single thing about this, so I have to assume it was not in discussion.  The changing of a call that like after the fact happens quite a bit.  The scorecard should have been changed to show no hits, one error.  That gives Galarraga a no-hitter (better than nothing), and allows people the thought that, perhaps, Selig does want to do what's right.  No dice.  Thanks for nothing, Bud.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Farewell to the NBA season

Well...the season is over and it didn't end quite like I had hoped it would. I'm not mad because Boston played a great series and deserved to win, but I am disappointed. Game 2 will always remind me of what could have been because of Vince Carter's missed free throws and JJ Redick's mental blunder at the end of the game. We win that game and it's a brand new series. But we didn't...so it wasn't. Just a few notes on the team and the Finals in general.

-I had never bought in to the camp saying that Dwight Howard jokes too much and that's why we haven't won a championship. BS. We lost because the Celtics were better, not because Dwight is a jokester. However, he looked as serious as I've ever seen him in Games 4-6 and it showed in his play. Games 4-6: 27 ppg, 12 rpg, 3 bpg, 65% FG shooting against one of the best defensive teams in the league and probably the team best suited to defend him. He didn't get discouraged after missed shots, he didn't commit stupid fouls, he blocked shots to teammates or to himself, instead of out of bounds, etc. He can get his numbers regardless of his demeanor but his teammates do appear to be more focused when he is more serious on the court. If he plays like that for 82 games next year, watch out.

EDIT 06-02-10: I had to add this in because it was so far fetched. I was listening to "Spider and the Henchmen" because Jason Whitlock was the guest. I'm a fan of Whitlock. I enjoy his NFL truths, the limited stuff he does on the NBA and I like his different perspective on different topics. Here's one I disagree with. Whitlock was talking about how immature LeBron James and Dwight Howard are with the pregame dancing, powder routines and half court shots before the game. Then he said Orlando lost Game 2 down the stretch because of Dwight Howard's immaturity. He said the missed free throws by Vince Carter and Redick not calling a timeout all fall back on Howard, because he is the leader of that team and he's a jokester. That's absurd to me. Dwight was all business in Game 4 with 32 points, 16 boards and 4 blocks. Vince scored 3 points on 1-9 shooting. Hey, it's not Vince's fault though. Dwight did a commercial months ago dressed as Clark Kent! A 33 year old, 12 year veteran of the league missed free throws because of his 24 year old teammates immaturity? BS. JJ Redick, an incredibly smart player, botches what should have been an easy decision because Dwight Howard likes to smile and crack wise? I'm not buying it. Maybe I'm too close to the situation. What say you?

-But he won't. And that's fine because the Celtics are showing you can piss away the regular season and pull it together in time for the playoffs. His personality is to joke and when it gets down to clutch situations, you are bound show your true colors. Down 18 points in Game 6, he had a big dunk and then ran down the court laughing and waiving his hands to pump up the Boston crowd. I like that move if you are winning, or making a big comeback...but not when you are down 18 points. Which leads me to think that Dwight Howard is what he is at this point. He's hit his ceiling and that's fine. You could do a lot worse with your number 1 pick than the best rebounder and defender in the league, 18-20 ppg and a good guy for your team/community...but I think he's tapped out because of his mental makeup. He doesn't have the mental makeup to dominate when he has the advantage. He doesn't have the basketball IQ to recognize he has the advantage. He rarely shows the confidence needed to take that next step to consistent greatness.
A lot has been made of Hakeem Olajuwon working with Kobe this summer on his post game. You know why it works for Kobe? Because he's not afraid to try it in the game. He could be 0-10 on post moves, and you better believe there will be an eleventh shot. If Dwight misses his first couple, his confidence is shaken for the rest of the game. I will give him credit in the fact that he keeps his defensive intensity up even if his offense game isn't working, unlike a couple of years ago and he certainly didn't lose focus in the last half of the Boston series but it was too late by then. Patrick Ewing is getting a bad rep because he's been Dwight's big man coach for years. I think Pat is doing fine work with him, and it shows from time to time, but too often Dwight is afraid to show what he's been taught. I'm going to stop saying "When he adds some more post moves" or "when he stops making stupid mistakes" with Dwight because he is what he is. *Slumps shoulders in sadness*

-I'm off the Vince Carter wagon. I tried to talk myself onto it all season long, and at most I got a leg on the bandwagon. Maybe an arm, but no more. I'm off for good. I expect absolutely nothing from him next season, so every point he scores will be a plus. It's so frustrating to watch him play. I watched Tim Duncan in the Spurs-Suns series. That's a guy who wanted it, but just didn't have it anymore. He'd try to go into his bag of tricks, and come up empty. Then I watch VC, a guy who has it but doesn't want it. It's sickening. I'll hear no excuses for how he's lost a step or two. Paul Pierce has lost a step or two, and he didn't have the athletic cushion to fall back on that VC does. Yet Pierce knows when he has a mismatch and how to exploit it. He could have scored 50 against the Matt Barnes/Vince Carter combo. Vince Carter had that same mismatch when he was on Ray Allen. There's no way Ray Allen can guard VC in the post and VC would avoid driving into a Kendrick Perkins/Kevin Garnett combo. Everybody wins! Except Orlando, because Vince decides he'd rather take jumpers and avoid contact at all costs. He is who we thought he was.

-Speaking of Garnett, I stand by what I said in my previous post. Game 6 wasn't close enough to be considered a clutch situation. There will be a game in the NBA Finals that comes down to every possession making a difference and Kevin Garnett will mess up. That's what he does.

- This offseason will be an interesting one. Everyone except Dwight Howard could go and I would be fine with it. In his post Game 6 press conference Dwight mentioned something about getting guys in here that give it their all at all times. Had that quote been played in the locker room, I'm sure every eye would have been on Vince Carter. Vince would have been reading Marmaduke though. Yet I digress. JJ Redick is a restricted free agent and I'd love to have him back, but that guy has earned the right to go get paid. I want him in Orlando, but I couldn't be mad if he left for greener pastures. Matt Barnes will opt out of his deal and look for a bigger payday. Last year Otis Smith showed he's not afraid to shake up the team, but I don't think a major shakeup would be in the best interest of the team. Major shakeups only work if you can steal a Pau Gasol or a Kevin Garnett. If not, you end up like the Cavaliers who constantly made moves to please LeBron, but never really took the time to let them develop as a team. Now they have nothing to show for it. I wouldn't be opposed to bringing this team back as is and letting them take another run at. If that doesn't work, moves need to be made. Vince Carter will have an expiring contract at the end of next season. Marcin Gortat will surely be itching for more playing time. Not to mention that Chris Paul, Deron Williams and Kevin Durant could all be free agents after that season. A man can dream can't he?

-I have no idea who is winning the Finals. I want to say I refuse to watch the last two teams to beat us in a series faceoff. Rest assured, I'll be rooting for the building to collapse, but this series should be fantastic basketball. Rondo is twice the player he was in the 2008 Finals but Kobe has probably been watching footage of that Finals since then. Artest matches up much better with Paul Pierce but Garnett isn't quite the player he was in 2008, meanwhile Pau Gasol may be better than he was then. Andrew Bynum will be playing this time, but with his history of injuries and inefficiency, who knows what that means. Odom's coming off the bench instead of starting this time around. Rasheed Wallace had a solid series against Orlando, matches up favorably with Gasol/Bynum and knows that a good series here will get everyone off his back for a bad regular season. On the other hand, he's still Rasheed Wallace. Again, I have no idea who is winning the Finals but I can't see it going less than 6 games and I can't see it being anything less than an excellent ending to a lackluster playoffs.

Have you gotten into the UFC craze? I had never watched a fight so I decided to do so this past weekend with the Rampage Jackson-Rashad Evans fight. It was boring. Extremely boring. They slow danced with each other for about 2 rounds before Rampage went for the kill, but it was too little too late and Evans won. I'm willing to give it another chance because UFC faithful have told me I caught a bad fight. I also understand that Evans technique was to dance around, much like Money Mayweather. I dig it. It was just boring to me. Have you watched this stuff before?