Saturday, May 28, 2011

Finals Time and Ray Lewis

I had heard about that Bonds story and it's an outstanding one. It's a shame I haven't heard more about it though. I heard more about the money Tim Lincecum gave to the Bryan Stow fund than I have about this. Still, a stand up move from Bonds.

Man, did the tables turn in the playoffs. I really thought we were going to get epic Game 7's out of both conferences We didn't get a Game 6, but all the games have been great so I can't complain. I do want Dallas to win it all, but I think the matchup with Miami favors the Heat. They can throw Haslem, Bosh and some LeBron at Dirk. Not that it would necessarily matter because Nowitzki is playing out his mind. Haslem made life tough on Dirk in the 2006 Finals, but I can't see that happening again. I guess Kidd/Stevenson guard Wade and Marion gets most of the time against LeBron. On the flip side, Tyson Chandler could make some hay in that series and I don't know who Miami has to chase around Terry/Barea. I love Dirk not cracking a smile and even leaving early during the WCF trophy presentation. I want Dirk, Kidd, Peja, Marion and Rick Carlisle to get a little justice for the tough playoff losses they've suffered. LeBron can smell his first ring and knows he's THIS close to shutting everyone up. What he's done the last two or three games on both ends of the court is amazing. I wouldn't be mad if the Heat won just because this team getting this far is a testament to how great James/Wade are and just how hard they are playing. Still, this is the worst Miami will be for the next 4 or 5 years. This very well could be Dallas' last shot, so I'm rooting for the Mavericks. My head says Miami in 6, but my heart says Dallas in 7. I'll go with Dallas. If for no other fact than I like to imagine Dan Gilbert, dressed head to toe in Mavericks gear, sitting courtside and screaming profane things at LeBron James.

You asked if I think Mayweather staying out of the ring hurts him. I don't think it does. Pacquaio has been in the ring with some consistency but he's fighting guys Floyd has already beaten and they aren't exactly keeping him on his toes. The Mosley fight was a disgrace, he broke Margarito's face and Josh Clottey went into a shell for 12 rounds. He hasn't really been pushed. Granted, that's a testament to how superior he is to his competition, but Floyd has beat the same guys and doesn't seem to be the type that would get lazy. I think Floyd's motivation to be the greatest, or if nothing else make the most money, will keep him sharp. Though you are right in saying that if Floyd came out of a potential fight a little slow, Pacquiao could make him pay. That's the only option. He's not going to outbox him and Floyd adjusts too well. An early knockdown would be his only chance in my opinion. Manny just signed on for a third fight with Juan Manuel Marquez. In the past, JMM fought Pacman to a draw and then a split decision after 12 rounds, so this could be a decent fight. He should at least provide more of a fight to Manny than Mosley or Clottey did.

Move aside, Channing Crowder. I think your, ""Who was that? Is that the blind girl? Helen Keller ... I don't know who the fuck Anne Frank is. I'm mad right now...I'm not as swift as I usually am" quote has been bumped to number two in my list of athlete quotes. Ray Lewis took over the top spot with his, "Watch how much evil....which we call crime". Killed me. It was a good run while it lasted, Channing.

Our old pal Dameshek is back on the air waves. His new podcast on NFL.com is pretty good. I've only heard one episode, but it's all NFL talk. The guys with him fit well and Shek knows his pigskin. Good to have the Hans Solo edition blaster back in my life.

Jay Bruce is hitting the hell out of the ball lately. 18 hits, 6 of those homers, and 15 RBI in his last 9 games. His average has jumped from .243 to .288 in that period. Too bad most of it has gone to waste as Cincy is 2-7 in those same 9 games. The pitching has been a major letdown this season. We can't seem to get out of the first couple of innings without same major damage being done. Wood and Arroyo have disappointed. Volquez is not only sucking, but calling out his teammates. Bailey came back and looked great, and then got hurt again. Cueto has looked good though. I thought we'd have a chance to bank some early wins until Pujols gets hitting and Greinke got back. Not the case.

There is being a lot made of this Russ Westbrook-Kevin Durant power struggle, and I think there is somewhat a cause for concern. Ric Bucher made a good point that Westbrook is dominant personality here, much like Stephon Marbury was in his rift with Kevin Garnett. That doesn't make him the best player, but it doesn't stop him from thinking that he is. Durant seems passive enough to let him takeover, even though he is clearly the better player. When Durant keeps quiet, it's because his laid back nature. When Dwight does it, he doesn't have the chops to be an "alpha dog". I don't think things will end up like KG-Marbury, just because Westbrook-Durant do seem like genuinely nice guys and I don't think Westbrook is jealous of the publicity Durant has received. I think he's jealous of the publicity Derrick Rose has received. During the World Basketball Championships last summer, Westbrook bested Rose in Points per game, steals per game, FG%, 3P% and FT%. They worked out together this past summer. Westbrook had to watch Rose during workouts and during the WBC's and say, "I'm just as good as he is." I think that partially explains the hot start Westbrook had to the NBA season. Now he sees himself making many of the same (bad) decisions that Rose makes. Rose gets MVP for it. Westbrook gets skewered for it. I'd give Rose the nod in shooting and scoring. Westbrook is a better defender and rebounder. I'd say they are similar as far as vision goes. Charles Barkley put it best in saying that to get people off his back, Westbrook doesn't have to stop taking terrible shots. He just has to start making them. If I'm OKC, under no circumstances do I trade Westbrook this summer. If I'm any team not named OKC, I do everything I can to steal Westbrook because I think he'll put it all together one day.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Barry Bonds

If you haven't seen it yet, check out this story:  http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=6590118

I know that Barry Bonds is usually surly (to say the least), but I thought this was amazing.  The most amazing part about it is that he didn't tell anyone that he was doing this.  This was not some attempt to garner some good press for himself...this is just Barry Bonds being a decent human being.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Playoffs, Boxing and College

You're right on about the NBA playoffs.  Except for the 7 games thing.  Both of these series have been so close, but with both the Mavs and Heat holding 3-1 leads, a 7 game series seems unlikely in both cases.  Which is pretty disappointing, because both of these series have been fantastic.
Ever since the conference finals started I've been saying that I'd be cheering for whoever comes out of the West.  I don't hate either of the teams from the East, but I just like the Western teams better in this case.  Like you, my main team to root for to win it all will be the Mavs.  I love watching Dirk play, and he's been on an absolute tear in these playoffs.  I kind of hate Terry's little "run around the court like an airplane", but I watching him bomb from three.  I've always been a big Tyson Chandler fan, so I like seeing him playing a major role on a title contender.
If this all shakes out the way it's looking, the Mavs will be going up against the Heat.  Which seems fitting, seeing as how it was the Heat (and the officials) that stole a championship from Dirk in his other trip to the Finals.  It should be a great series.

And speaking of great playoffs...
I know you don't watch the NHL, but these playoffs have been fantastic.  Probably the best I've ever seen.  Every game is tremendously exciting.  Unfortunately, my Wings have been knocked out...but not before clawing their way back from a 3-0 series hole and forcing a game 7, only to lose by 1 (and after playing some of the most frantic hockey I've ever seen at the end of the game).  The Canucks just advanced to the Finals last night, but it took them double-overtime to close out the series.  The Bruins/Lightning series has been terrific, and the winner of that will be meeting Vancouver in the Finals.  If the rest of the playoffs are any indication, this should be a dynamite Finals.
You asked a couple of posts ago about Ovechkin getting knocked out of the playoffs again, and asked whether the "let the star get his points" works in hockey, too.  I really don't think there's a way to do that in hockey...there are so many moving parts (and a one-on-one can kill you) that I just don't see that being the case.  I think the bigger reason would be gameplanning.  Much like the NFL and NBA, a lot of teams work on different defenses, but don't really show much in the regular season.  So they're throwing weird zones and different looks at the teams, and rolling a bit more defense towards the star players, giving them smaller windows to shoot through, and also cutting off passing lanes.  I know this happens, but I'm not sure if it explains their constant collapses.  I don't know why, but they seemed a little lethargic this year, which may also help to explain it.  But it could just be teams getting hot (and goalies playing their best) at the right time.  The Lightning were a pretty good team this year (46-25-11), but no one really noticed, and no one expected them to make it very far in the playoffs.
I'm not sure of the exact reason the Capitals have a history of falling apart in the playoffs, but I know it's not just one.

Season 6 of Curb is fantastic.  I really need to watch that again.  The end of that Pepitone jersey episode (where Larry and Leon are just sitting around the house wearing jerseys) is just fantastic.

I didn't watch any of the Pacquiao/Moslyy fight.  I was thinking about it, but I couldn't find anywhere to watch it.  I read about it afterwards, and, like you're saying now, it doesn't really seem like I missed much.  It sounds like Mosley knew early he didn't have a chance, so he spent the night retreating while Pacquiao following without pushing too much.  Sounds remarkably boring.
I know you keep saying how Mayweather would destroy Pacquiao - and I believe you - but do you think the lack of fighting hurts Mayweather?  Pacquiao has had a fairly steady stream of fights, while Mayweather has been relatively quiet on that front.  I know a lot of training goes into a fight, but if Mayweather comes out of the gates a little rusty, Pacquiao will make him pay.  This isn't Mosley we're talking about here...if Pacquiao connected on a couple early, it could spell trouble for Mayweather.  Thoughts?

I watched a little bit of that video.  It's funny, because I read an article about the same thing just a couple of weeks ago.  I don't want to believe it, because it makes it more depressing when I have to pay my student loans.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Playoffs and Lockout Talk

What a playoffs the NBA has put on. You've got the golden boy in Derrick Rose taking on America's Most Hated in LeBron James in the East. Two of the hardest players in the league to guard in Dirk and Durant are facing off in the West. Both have the makings of great series and I can't see either one ending in less than 7 games. I don't have a horse in this race but I would like to see Dallas win it all. I've always been a Jason Kidd fan, I've liked watching Dirk play since I found out he was unstoppable in NBA 2K2, I like Cuban and after the officiating travesty that was the 2006 NBA Finals, I think Dallas deserves their due. Another interesting subplot of the NBA Finals is putting the, "You can't just throw stars together and expect them to win" aka Miami vs. "Putting a team together piece by piece" aka every team not named Miami to the test. I imagine the Dwight Howards, Chris Pauls and Deron Williams of the world already have a pretty good idea of whether they will leave or stay with their current teams. Still, if Miami shows they can do it in one year with as many flaws as that team has, it will be hard to convince stars not to keep linking up. The best team left is probably Chicago. Two of the five best players in the league play for Miami. The team constructed the best is probably Oklahoma City. The hungriest is probably Dallas. I have no idea where the next couple of weeks takes us. And I love it.

Some potentially big news came out this week about the NBA collective bargaining agreement. Not only could a franchise tag be added, that would give a higher salary and extra years on a contract, but an amnesty clause could be added. This would allow teams to cut one player without the amount counting towards the teams salary cap. This article suggests there might be two, depending on what the new salary cap is. A combination of these would not only allow Orlando to potentially keep Dwight with the franchise tag, but to cut Arenas with the amnesty clause. Of course, other teams would be allowed to do the same but I'm lead to believe Dwight truly wants to stay in Orlando. That could be the homer in me, but I get the feeling that re-signing is the first option. With Carmelo and LeBron, it appears moving on was the primary option. If Orlando proves to be unable to put a serious contender around him, I think he'll leave (and rightfully so). A second amnesty clause could let Orlando jettison Turkoglu's contract and give us some serious cap space to play with, a re-signed Dwight and a brand new arena to attract other free agents.

I've been watching season 6 of "Curb Your Enthusiasm" recently, and I had no idea I had missed two episodes. I thought I had caught them all a couple of years ago but I had missed the episode where Cheryl actually left Larry and The N Word episode. I had almost forgotten how much of a bitch Cheryl is and how angry she makes me. Leon Black is averaging about 45 points per game. From the Joe Pepitone jesey episode to "You got some long ass balls, Larry. Long Ball Larry is your new name." He's on fire. I'm ecstatic about the new season in July.

I don't know if you caught any of it but the Pacquiao-Mosley fight was a joke. Sugar Shane either realized very quickly that he couldn't win or knew going into the fight that he didn't have a chance. Pacquiao seemed to quit attacking numerous times when it was obviously working. There was a startling amount of glove love between the two. Every 60 seconds or so they would dap gloves. This leads me to wonder if Pac didn't want to make his boy Shane look bad and took it easy. Shane went defensive early and threw 260 total punches in a 12 round fight. I didn't really learn anything. I still think Floyd would beat Manny. I don't think it would be close and I still won't believe a Manny-Floyd fight happens until I see them both in the ring.

It's great to have Johnny Cueto and Homer Bailey back on the mound for the Redlegs. Cueto has gone 2-1 in three outings and has given up 3 runs in 18 innings. Bailey is 3-1 and has an ERA a shade over 2. If only someone could let Dusty Baker know that Jonny Gomes and his .171 batting average is not equipped to DH. He's even less equipped to bat second, where Dusty currently has him.

If you've got some time, I definitely recommend checking this out.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Dwight bashing and the NFL Draft

I'm glad I'm not the only one that sees people seemingly going out of the way to criticize Dwight Howard. There was a lot wrong with that paragraph Simmons wrote. Let's start from the top. First, letting Dwight run amok while shutting down his teammates is not "Boston's defensive tactic". The first team I remember having sustained success with it was the Detroit Pistons in the 2007 playoffs. A few other teams tried, but you need the personnel to execute the strategy. Detroit used a mix of Rasheed Wallace, Antonio McDyess and Chris Webber to single cover Dwight. This worked because they didn't leave Orlando's shooters alone to double Dwight, and Dwight's post game was so raw he couldn't make them pay. At least give credit to the originators. Second, if Dwight averaged 50 ppg against Atlanta, Shaq would have averaged 75. Whatever Dwight did would never be enough for Bill. To be fair to Bill, I have to wonder if his wife added that part. After all, she is the one that looked at Dwight Howard and decided he should dominate the league until the end of time. Dwight's legacy "took a small hit"? According to whom? According to Bill, because he speaks for anyone who has ever seen a game of basketball played. You can trust Bill: He watched some grainy footage of George Mikan in high school for his book and concluded he could have did 30-20 against these Hawks. Lastly, is the "letting the star player get his and shut his teammates down" a bad strategy? It worked against knocking out LeBron the past two years, Wade the last two years, Dwight this year, Kobe/Iverson a couple of times. Is it that bad of a strategy? You know who that would NEVER work on? Paul Pierce! In the beginning, God took his own rib and made #34 for the Boston Celtics. He gave him pubes for facial hair and a legend was born! That Atlanta crowd telepathically willed Dwight to stop scoring! It's like Game 4 of 1987 ECF in The Garden where the crowd willed Larry Bird to score 27 points. He didn't score those points because he was supremely talented, he did it because we told him to!

I'm currently watching Bulls finish up the Hawks in Game 3. Rose has had a monster game with 44 points before being taken out late in the game. Announcers keep mentioning what a great playoff run Rose has had. Beg pardon? Prior to this outburst, Rose is shooting 37% from the field (on 23 shots per game), 21% from 3P (taking a whopping 7.5 per game) and turning it over 4 times per game. Jeff Teague has also been getting past him with ease on the other end of the court. I'd have to believe some of that is due to Rose's bum ankle, but it's OK to admit Rose has struggled a little bit. In Game 1 against Atlanta, Rose took 27 shots. The rest of the starters took 34 combined. Game 2: 27 for Rose, 37 for the rest of the starters. Game 3: 27 for Rose, 30 for the rest of the starters. Factual information: If I substituted Kobe's name in for Rose, and kept the exact same numbers people would be outraged.

The MVP was officially announced and to no one's surprise, Rose won. Congratulations. The travesty that no one is talking about is that Blake Griffin and Tony Parker received more MVP votes than Chris Paul. Despicable.

I love the Mavericks and Grizzlies coming out strong. I don't have a horse in the race either way, but I wouldn't mind seeing one of those teams win it all. It's looking more and more likely that the Heat may take the East. I can't see the Celtics climbing out this hole and the Bulls haven't looked like world beaters just yet. I've heard people say you should be rooting for the Celtics to fight back, just to go against what the Heat stand for. Things like three all stars deciding to join the same team, at any point in their career. Also, the Celtics are all dicks. I wouldn't root for them to make it out of a house fire.

Actually, that was a bit harsh. Jeff Green seems like a decent enough guy so maybe not all the Celtics are dicks. The house fire part stands though.

I lied about the Capitals. My bad. What's the deal with them? Why do they keep making early playoff exits? Does the "let the star get his and shut down everyone else" strategy hold true in hockey?

I have to say that I like the selections of AJ Green and Andy Dalton. I've had my eye on AJ Green since his freshman year when he was hauling in overthrown passes from Matt Stafford and have been impressed ever since. Going into the draft I felt like he and Patrick Patterson were probably the safest picks to have productive NFL careers. We got one of them so I'm satisfied. I didn't watch much of Dalton but I've read good things. As a second rounder, he won't cripple the salary cap if he bombs like Cam Newton would. He seems to be a good fit for the West Coast offense Jay Gruden is installing, and it shows that the team is hopefully willing to part with Carson Palmer. I keep hearing a first round pick isn't out of the question for Palmer. If a first rounder is on the table, you have to take that deal. Of course we won't, but any sane human being would.

You know, I was watching the draft as Green Bay selected Cobb and I caught myself letting out an audible "Yes!" and pumping my fist. Maybe I'm closer to the Pack than even I know. You already mentioned it, but Cobb seems to be a great fit for Green Bay. I hope he does big things.

As far as pigskin goes, I wish people would leave Rashard Mendenhall alone. Barry Bonds doesn't give the media any answers and people hate him. Alex Rodriguez gives answers that are too crafted and people hate him. We beg for athletes to speak their mind and willingly follow their every move just to see what's on their mind, and get mad when they give it to us. Outrageous. Regardless on where you stand on Mendenhall's tweets, I've heard people demanding he be cut, booted from the league and even heard career ending injuries wished on him. From Twitter to TMZ, I fail to understand why people care what athletes say or do on a day to day basis. I look to Mendenhall for entertainment and nothing more.

Shane Mosley and Manny Pacquiao face off tomorrow. I expect a good fight and for Pacquiao to come out on top. Shane could surprise though. He caught Mayweather with a couple of nice shots that weakened his knees and Pacquiao's defense isn't as good as Floyd's. If Mosley can get past the first few rounds without too much damage, he may be able to steal some of the later rounds and get the decision.

Good call on the Ghoulio Jones but you have to give me a disclaimer or something before you post a pic like that. The ghoulie was fine, but that Jones pic is terrifying.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Simmons, Draft & Ghoulies

I don't know why, but I just keep reading Simmons.  He rarely writes columns, so I guess I can deal with reading whatever he throws up.  But this might be it for me.  Bill, if you're reading, it's gems like this that are going to make me stop.
This was taken from his latest column, where he throws out a quote from The Wire and relates it to basketball.  I'm not positive, but I'm pretty sure he's done this before.  In relation to the Magic/Hawks series:


36. "You are a parasite who leeches off the culture of drugs."
37. "Just like you, man."
38. "Excuse me, what?"
39. "I got the shotgun. You got the briefcase. It's all in the game though, right?"

One of the best chess moves of the series (Omar turning the tables on a lawyer in court) goes to the best chess move of Round 1: Atlanta's Larry Drew adopting Boston's defensive tactic of "Knock yourself out, Dwight, score as many points as you want, we're singling you and making sure nobody else gets an open jump shot" and daring Howard to put up 50-20s to beat them. It threw Orlando off its game and exposed how pedestrian their 2-through-12 guys are … and by the way, had anyone tried this with Shaq from 2000 to 2002, he would have averaged 50 a game, so Howard's legacy took a small hit even as he was throwing up 35-15s. If the other team's game plan is "Get yours, knock yourself out," that has to mean something. Right?

This makes sense...how?  Howard was insane in that series.  He played about as well as you can play.  Had his teammates decided they felt like making a shot, the Magic would have moved on.  Instead, Howard (who was saddled with a mediocre team to begin with) plays a terrific series, and the Magic are knocked out in 5.  You can blame a lot of people for this (which you pretty much covered in your last post), but Dwight is not one of them.
I know that Simmons hates Howard (because he smiles too much, or isn't a "winner", or something), but this is ridiculous.
Anyway, I'm sorry about the Magic.  I know you've already resigned yourself to Dwight leaving, and that sucks. Damn sports.
One and done rule in basketball?  Honestly, I don't really care.  I wish we had them around for at least a couple years, but it doesn't bother me a bit.  I've seen some horrific things happen on the basketball court (Shaun Livingston immediately comes to mind).  Say they adopt a rule like the NFL: three years out of high school.  Now look at John Wall.  His number one selling point is his speed.  Now, what if, in his junior year, Wall jacks up his knee.  He comes back and is fast...but not quite as fast.  Slightly above league average.  No way he goes #1 in the draft, right?  How much money does that cost him?
Personally, I would like to see players stick around in college a little longer (Brandon Knight, for instance, could really do with another year of college ball under his belt before he went pro), but I can't really get on board with a rule that could jeopardize the careers of some of these kids.  Even if it would make both products more enjoyable (better players sticking around longer in college would make for better college games, and those players would be more seasoned when they got to the NBA, which would make the NBA more exciting), I just can't get on board.
If they institute it, that's fine.  I don't care too much one way or the other.  I can see arguments from both sides.
I saw your pre-draft thoughts.  Where are you now?  You could do a lot worse than AJ Green and Andy Dalton (although, from the games I've seen, Green kind of seems like a punk to me).
I'm psyched about the Packers.  Going into the draft, I was thinking, "We could use an offensive lineman, and a receiver."  James Jones is probably gone whenever free agency hits, and Driver only has a year or two left in him.  In the first round, we grabbed Sherrod for the line.  In the first round we grabbed...Randall Cobb!  First of all, I'm excited to have him on board because he went to UK.  But he's also perfect for what we need.  I was terrified every time Tramon Williams was returning kicks.  Now Cobb can handle that.  He can also slide into the slot receiver role that Jones vacates.  In the third round, we grabbed Alex Green.  By all accounts, he'll fill in nicely as the third down back if we don't re-sign Jackson.  And on it went.  Honestly, after those first three picks, I didn't really care who we got.  I'm tremendously excited for Cobb.  Whenever this season starts, the Packers are going to be amazing.  I can't wait.
You know, with the addition of Cobb, it's the perfect time for you to switch allegiances over to the Packers.
And finally, I can't end without this.
Julio Jones

Plus a Ghoulie

Equals Ghoulio Jones.