Saturday, July 29, 2006

After an 11 Day Break, I Need a Break.

Just a head's up - I'm heading out to work a camp next week, so there won't be any new posts for a while - until next Monday (not this upcoming Monday...the one after it...you know what I mean).

This camp is in the middle of no where. No TV. Certainly no internet connections. I'm guessing cell phone reception will be terrific.

Sleep in cabins. Eat over fires. Go on hikes. You know the drill. Its like Camp Anawana, minus Budnick and Ug.

In the meantime, hit me up with any ideas, comments, questions, entertaining anecdotes, trivia questions....let's have a little fun while I'm gone, shall we?

Alright, see y'all in a week. Don't do anything I wouldn't do.

Read the Rest After the Jump...

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

"I'm Back, Baby!"

Has it really been 11 days? Cripes, that's a long time. My bad, my bad (pounding chest as I backpedal down court).

Well, like MJ said - the first time - "I'm back." And yes, I just compared myself to Jordan. It's justified - in my mind, at least. (While we're here, who had the best "I'm back" ever? MJ's one line press release? Or George Costanza's "I'm back, baby!"? MJ's was infintely cooler, but Costanza added a little flair to it, plus it was hilaroius. The sheer coolness of MJ's comeback is a notch above in my book, but I'm willing to listen to arguments.)

My plan, anyways, is to be like Jordan after his first comeback: depsite the constant media attention surrounding the comeback, I'm going to start slowly at first, get reaquainted with my surroundings, build and build...and then, wait...what's that? Double nickel at MSG. That double nickel is coming sooner or later. Probably later than sooner, but it's coming.

And then of course, I will get knocked out of the playoffs by the Magic because I can't hear Nick Anderson running up behind me.

Anyways, consider this his first game against the Pacers - little rusty, but hey, he was out there playing, wasn't he?

So alot of stuff happened in the last 11 days. If I was writing about it, here's what I would have said.

Tiger Woods won the British Open while everyone else scrambled to find skirts that would fit them. Well, except for DiMarco. Gutsy performance by him; he holed some pretty long freakin' putts.

El Tigre now has 11 majors, tying him for second all time with Walter Hagan - and seven off Jack's record of 18. He's a mortal lock to break that; it's probably not even going to be close, either, unless someone decides to take their skirts off. And even then, it might not matter. He could (make that will) rack up 30 majors with everyone bringing their A game, especially now that he is an emotionless golf robot.

Honestly...how crazy was his reaction after he won? He taps in for the W, then just melts down - completely understandable. Who wouldn't? Considering how integral his father was to his gold game, the reaction is even more justified. And regardless of his father's connection to his profession, it was his father who had just died. Frankly, if he had held it together, it would have been stunning. But then like 5 minutes - maybe - later - he's back to his stony-faced self. WHAT?!?! How'd he do that? Aside from not even looking like he had just wept for 5 minutes, he wasn't even remotely rattled. His control over his emotions isn't even human. That's frightening.

Considering how important the mental aspect of golf is (ask Phil or Sergio), that's borderline unfair. How can other golfers compete against a mental cyborg? Tiger and LeBron are now the only two athletes I can think of where it is completely indefensible and professionally idiotic to bet against them or critique them in anyway. How stupid does anyone look right now that criticized Tiger? Has one single criticism of his game ever been justified? One?!?! Name me one negative thing someone said about him that actually had any merit three months after it was said.

Oh, and by the way: he won hitting his driver, like, once. Personally, I think he did that just to mock Phil's spectacular attempt to use his driver on 18 at the Open. Can you imagine Phil's reaction to hearing that? I think this is the Re-rising of The Tiger and the Decline of The Phil. Mark it down.

Steve Nash went bald. That had to have been a drunken idea. Now way he does that rationally. Not that he was a Calvin Klein model in the first place, but the bald look certainly isn't helping (and the award for least heterosexual comment in the room goes to...me).

(Quick aside: I actually did that once. Shaved my locks at like 3:30 in the morning because I was hammered. I woke up the next morning barely in time to submit my fantasy football lineup...couldn't decide on my second running back, went to run my hand through my hair to help aid in the decision...and there was none there. Felt like I went down a rollercoaster. Just a sick, sick feeling. I'm sure our little two-time MVP felt the same way, regardless of what he says.)

Another Bengal is arrested - this time with a taser! Yawn.

Floyd Landis makes it 8 years in a row for the Americans. Man, the French have to be pissed right now. They try to drill Lance on some trumped up charge for 7 years (best comeback ever: "what am I on? I'm on my bike every day.") and then when he bounces to make gay jokes at the ESPYs some other American wins their race. Ah, good times, good times.

I have to say, though...I was really impressed with Lance Armstrong winning 7 in a row (even if I thought him winning Male Athlete of the Year every year was a little ridiculous - he won ONE event a year). But now, Landis - some guy I'd never even heard of - wins the Tour. I dunno...I guess it's still awesome, Lance. But it's just not as hard as I thought it was. That's all I'm saying.

Plus, doesnt Floyd look like Steve Zahn. A little bit?



Reggie Bush is willing to sit out the year and enter next season's draft all over again. I understand where he's coming from, but sitting out a year doesn't really work for anyone. Clarett kinda screwed that one up, and even though it wasn't really Mike Williams' fault, sitting out that year didn't really help. It's probably an empty threat, but whatever...sign your deal and get into camp. You are killing fantasy football owners right now. Namely, me. You are already the craziest pick on the board - honestly, no one has any idea of what you are going to do; are you Barry Sanders or Brian Westbrook or KiJana Carter? Remove a little of the uncertainty, alright? Sign on the dotted line. Please.

A-Rod is slowly morphing into Chuck Knoblauch. Which is great. I really don't like A-Rod, and there is ample evidence to back me up: breaking up a pretty cool Mariners team by signing that roster-crippling $252 million contract with the Rangers; bitching when they lost (which he knew was going to happen), then forcing a trade to NY and pretty much screwing over the Red Sox in the process; that karate chop bullshit he pulled against Boston; having purple lips; etc.

But for some reason, seeing him struggle in the field, then getting constantly booed, then having to endure trade rumors....(Good Lord, I can't believe I'm about to say this) I feel bad for him. Kinda. I'm still up inthe air about it. I'll expand on this later.

Barbaro is still alive. Damnit.

Coach K demands "56 quarters of dominance" from the US ballers. Say what you will about Coach K (and I will: he's a corporate sell out who just happens to coach basketball while looking like a sanctimonious rat and can't go two sentences without dropping a f-bomb and once said his player had "beautiful eyes."), but the man is right about this. That's the perfect attitude to have. Chris Sheridan took him to task for the mindset - "International competition is so good! I know, I watch them play! I've seen all the games!" - but Sheridan comes off looling like an idiot who doesn't know the first thing about competition.

Yea, Sheridan, other countries are better than '92. But you know what? We still have all the best players. We should win, we should be dominant, and it shouldn't even be close. Yea, the rules and styles are different, but they aren't that different. It's not like it's a no-dribble tournament with three balls while Gladiotors shoot at you with those tennis ball guns. It's still basketball and we have the best players. That should translate into dominance, no?

Sheridan's stance is so egeriously wrong...I'll be expanding on this later.

Zidane is punished for his headbutt. FIFA fined him 6 grand and suspended him for three games - but that doesn't matter, because he retired. So instead of being suspended, he has to do community service. Which makes about as much sense as the All-Star game deciding home field advantage in the World Series. Isn't this kind of like your high school giving you a detention after they gave you a diploma?

What if Zidane says, "Um, community service? Six grand? How 'bout no? How bout I tell you to go to hell, I keep my money, and I don't pick up trash off the highway? What are you going to do? Arrest me? Oh, you can't? Because you just control soccer? Oh, so this punishment means nothing to me? K, I just wanted to make sure. I'll be leaving now. Don't look for that check in the mail."

Zidane needs to roll into FIFA headquarters like Black Bush dismissing the UN: "You know what I think you should do? You should sanction me. Sanction me with your army. Oh, wait a minute! You don't have an army! I guess that means you need to shut the fuck up!

TO said he was misquoted in his own book. Speaking of shutting the fuck up...

Would there be a better Real World character than T.O.? I don't think so. God I hate him. (And by the way, NFL Network making fun of his book has been a highlight of mine for the last couple of weeks. Dhanti Jones reading pompous, meaningless passages as if they were literary classics kills me every time. And the fact that the NFL itself is ripping on TO...well, I think they hate him as much as I do.)

Bill Belichik is named as the "other man." So two people are getting divorced because the wife is allegedly having an affair with none other than the football genius Bill Belichik. That just boggles my mind. Honestly, Bill Belichik?

Could you think of a coach less likely to be caught in an affair? Maybe Rick Majerus? At least he has a sense of humor and knows all the best restauarants. Art Shell? Hell, if he can come back and coach the Raiders, I think he can handle a woman on the side. Marv Levy? Hey, pop him a few Viagra, and he's ready to roll, son!

Belichik just seems surly and mean...imagine him sweet talking a woman in a bar? I can't even imagine him wearing anything other than that gray hooded sweatshirt. How does a mean guy who wears nothing but sweatpants pull of an affair? I'd really like to hear Belichick spit some game. How many times do you think he name dropped Tom Brady before the woman caved?

Of course, both Bill and the woman are denying this, so its all specualtion at this point. But still...doesn't this change his prescence among his players a little? There is no way they look at him the same now. If I was a Pats fan, I'd be worried right now. I wouldn't want Corey Dillon and Troy Brown giggling behind my coach' s back all season.

Phew. There. 'Bout 2,000 words. Not a bad comeback. And if I forogt anything, I'm sure you'll let me know. Time for some Gatorade.

Oh, and just because its great:






Read the Rest After the Jump...

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Dave Roethlisburger.

You know the movie Dave? President goes into a coma, so they find some look-a-like to to his place for a while? I think the Stillers are doing the same thing with Ben Roethlisberger. Here, take a look for yourself:

Before:

After:

Something just isn't right there, is it? I mean, yea, its close...but that's not Big Ben. My mom, of all people, pointed this out, and I think she's onto someting. Is it because he shaved the beard? Is he a little swollen still from the surgery? His eyes seem bigger, his cheeckbones a little more pronounced...a little plastic surgery, perhaps? I can't figure it out.

The weird thing is...he looks nicer. I can't figure out why that is, either, but I think I like him more this way. He looks approchable, like a cool uncle. Also, I have no idea what I'm talking about.

While we're here, though, a thought on Roethlisberger not wearing a helmet: Everyone shut up.

Seriously.

The guy doesn't wear a helemt. Get over it. It's not illegal. It wasn't in his contract. He's 21. It's his choice. You might not agree with it, and it might be safer to wear one, but that's his choice.

Sure, it can help save a life, but then why don't you wear one in the car? Granted, a motorcycle is inherently more dangerous than a car, but the principle still applies: If everyone in cars wore a helmet, there would be less fatalities.

So either start wearing a helmet in your car, or shut up.

And while you're at it, stop eating while you drive and fiddling with the radio and talking on your cell and speeding and pulling an Eddie Griffin. All those things jack up the odds of you getting in an accident.

Unless you drive with your hands at 10 and 12 all day, shut up.

Read the Rest After the Jump...

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Stan Van Gundy's All Stars.

Over at the worldwide leader, John Clayton put together a cool little thing: he assembled the best team possible in the NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE - all while staying under the salary cap. Full, 53-Man Roster, with backups and everything. Its pretty sweet.

So if Mr. Garrison can do it with the NFL, why can't I do it with the NBA? Sure it won't be as in-depth - only a 12 man roster - and it won't be an original idea, and I'm going to take about 10 minutes, where I bet Clayton took like a whole day...but it'll still be fun. For me anyways. I mean, cripes, its like 5 in the morning. What else is there to do?

The L just set this year's cap at $53.135 million. So I got a decent chunk of change to work with. But first, I wanted to hone my inner Isiah, and see the best team I could put together, money be damned. (Alright, Isiah just did the money be damned part, but you get the idea.)

The No Cap All Stars are what I feel are the 12 best players in the NBA. OK, well not the best players...if there was a 1-on-1 competition, these guys probably wouldn't finish 1-12. The thought process was to fill out a legit roster - ya kno, point guards and centers and stuff. Oh, and chemistry isn't important. Stan Van Gundy is coaching this team (he was available), and they will play together, without ego, or they will incurre Stan's wrath. And you don't want that, please believe.

The entire roster is in the graphic (left) but a few things are worth noting.

Steve Nash will be the starting point guard and he will play nearly the entire game, exept for those little breaks he likes where he puts on his warmup pants, seven shooting shirts and 19 towels and lays at the end of the bench. He gets three of those per game. He's on the No Cappers solely for his ability to distribute the ball. Stan will ask him to shoot exactly no times and guard exactly no one. Push the ball, get the ball to people where they can do good things with it, make your free throws at the end of games and throw lobs from half court. That's it; that's his entire job.

Shaq is coming off the bench, but we may have to change that. In fact, yea, let's do that: Shaq starts, because he's not playing in the fourth quarter, anyways, so let's keep him happy. Might have to do the same thing with Kobe and Wade, too; we'll see how Stan handles those egos. I got faith (pounding chest twice). KG: I'm keeping him on the bench. Even though he's all wound up and shit, he should just be thankful to play with some one better than Troy Hudson and Mark Madsen.

The crazy thing is, this team is more loaded than a Wendy's baked potato but there are only a handful of guys who really dominate the ball. And only two do it just because that's just the way they play: Iverson and Kobe.

The rest of the guys who hijack the rock regulary - Nash, Wade, James, Garnett - do it because of necessity. Wade does it at the end of games because everyone else on the court is just really not that effective (although they did hit some big shots in the playoffs, I'll give them that); Nash does it only in the halfcourt, because he has no - 0, zero, zip - good half court players on his team, he would much rather run and distribute (OK, Diaw can play in the half court); James does it because Anderson Varejo is the second best player on his team; Garnett for the same reason, 'cept replace Anderson with a guy who shot at his own rim because he was one board short of a triple-double.

The point is, this squad can play together. Nash will make everyone happy. Kobe plays team ball because allegedly he can (see: First Round of 2006 Playoffs, sans Game 7) and because his image is so shot, he really can't afford the bad pub. AI will be AI, not much you can do there. Flash can defer and still excel. Bronny loves to pass and run. Dirk can hit the glass (his new apparent obesession) and shoot elbow J's. TD doesn't demand the ball, but obviously he'll get it. Everyone else is coming off the bench and if they don't like it, well, that's what Stan is here for: tough love.

The grand total for this squad? A little under $148 million. Not bad when you consider Isiah's shelling out $109 mil a year for a 29-win team. Good Lord. That just astounds me. I know its not fair to make fun of Zeke anymore than it is to look at your buddy's plays in a game of NCAA when he's picking his offense, but you still do it.

Still, with the luxury tax set at $65.42 mil, the No Cappers just aren't feasible - we're not owned by Mark Cuban for the love of George Steinbrenner!

So how do we get under? Well, we go younger, that's how (insert R. Kelly joke here). Only four players remain when we go under the cap: Nash, LeBron, D. Wade and Amare. The last three are all still playing out their piddling rookie contracts. As for Nash? Well, point guards are like diapers: overpay a bit - you'll notices the difference.

We add Dwight Howard and Yao Ming to the starting lineup because they also have piddling rookie contracts and are also very tall and very good. Plus, its two more guys who don't demand the ball! Howard can go get it off the glass, and if Yao asks for it, we'll pretend like we don't understand what he's saying, just like in the Garmin commercial.

The bench is another real beauty: six first-time contracts! 'Melo (as long as he doesn't curse us out for having a little weed...and if you believe any of that, well, Isiah has some contracts he'd like to unload on you) Josh Howard, Chris Paul, Diaw, Amare and Church.

Oh, Church: that's Kirk Hinrich. That's his new nickname, for a few reasons: One, that's what his name means, I guess (not too concerend with details here). Two, it sounds pretty badass, especially when you say it like Snoop: "Chuuuuuuuuch." Three, if you're guarding Hinrich, better say you're prayers. You're in for a long night. And four, that's where I spent many vigils, praying they'd add my favorite Kansan to the US hoops' roster.

Here's the wild card on the Cappers: Ron Artest. Tru Warrior is on the squad because no one plays harder, he'll keep everyone on their toes, he can guard anyone, and he seems happy doing really strange things. That qualifies him in my book. There is the small (huge) chance Ron Ron might go Lloyd Braun on us again, but hey...I think he's worth the risk.

The toughest omission was leaving Shaun Livingson off. But we had two point guards, and I don't think anyone is arguing he's better than Chris Paul or the reigning two-time MVP. Damn, that was tough, though. You know what? Screw you, Boris - you're gone. Dr. Livingston? Grab a jersey. And work on that jumper. You aren't in junior high anymore.

This team was relatively easy to assemble though, because there are so many good - great - young players. Do you have any idea the talent that has only been in the league for three years? Yea, everyone knows Bron Bron, Wade and Melo went in the top 5 in '03, and Bosh was picked fourth...but do you know who went 6th? Chris Kaman. One of the best big men in the league. After him, the Bulls went to Church. Diaw and Josh Howard were in that draft, too! That's insane! Throw in Darko, and well...nevermind.

The year after gave us Dwight Howard, Emeka Okafor, BG7, Livingston, Devon Harris, Josh Smith...the list goes on and on. Last year we got Chris Paul, probably the second best point guard in the NBA.

And you're telling me this isn't the brink if a Golden Age? If there is a better three-year run of talent currently playing in the NBA, I want to see it. The scary thing is, the talent is slowly dwindling again. We should be good for a while, but let's hope OJ Mayo and Greg Oden keep that river running deeply and smoothly.

I think I was making a point back there...oh yea, how easy it was to put this team together. Piece of cake. Keeping that team together would be a near impossibility, though. Still, it would be fun while it lasted.

(And I still can't believe the greatest team possible only costs $29 mil more than the Knick's payroll.)

Read the Rest After the Jump...

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Our Long National Nightmare is Over.

US Hoops finally wised up and added godsend Kirk Hinrich to the "try out" team. (Thanks for the headsup from p23's lightning-fast commentors. You're the best.) Beautiful. "Bout time Team USA is set at PG for the foreseeable future, as long as Chris Paul doesn't go international with his nut-punching routine.

How unhappy is Luke Ridnour right now? His only chance was the little reverse affirmitive action thing US Hoops was trying to pull, but no one is whiter than Kirk Hinrich, plus he would absolutely own Lukey. Tough break, Luke.

The only question left now is, Who does Kirk replace? Because he's making this team. If you assume they'll take Point23's team (and really, why wouldn't they?), you have a couple options. If Amare is a no-go, then give him Battier's spot. If Amare is going...Michael Redd probably gets his passport revoked. Hinrich isn't quite the shooter he is, but he did shoot close to 40% from 3 last season, and he's a better perimeter defender, which we could use - remember him frustrating the hell out of D Wade in Round 1?

Honestly, I'd kick Kobe off to make room for Hinrich. I'm ecstatic he's on the team; I can't say enough good things about it.

Last order of business: He needs a nickname. He's too good not to have one. The old standby of first name initial, first syallable of last name (The Linda Cohn Formula) won't work with Kirk. And no nicknames about him being paler than Casper, either. Captain Kirk has some potential, I think, but I'm not a Star Wars geek or whatever the hell he's from...I'm really at a loss. Suggestions more than welcome.

In related news, looks like JJ won't be able to make it to tryouts, which is a shame. All those Zim...ah, all that back pain is keeping him out. Tough break, his shooting touch could have been useful, but I think we have enough shooters on this team, and JJ couldn't guard Melvin Scott. Morrison, the only other college player to be asked is going to, but he's not making it either. Good. Let's keep it to the pros. Well, I guess he's a pro now, but you know what I mean.

This team is set. I hope Angola qualifies.

Read the Rest After the Jump...

12 Good Men. Plus Kirk.

Gilbert Arenas was on the phone with Coach K for half an hour the other day, telling him he would do "whatever it takes" to earn a spot on the Olympic team this summer. While I'm sure submitting a tape of the Wizar*s first round series with the Cavs will suffice, Agent Zero said he had already mastered the shorter 3 - "its like a layup" - not to mention his willingness to guard full court, dive on the floor, run through walls.

Works for me.

How great is it to have someone - other than AI - who actually wants to be there? This is a good sign. A very good sign. I long for the days of beating Angola 192-7. Sadly, those are long gone, but we should still be rocking the gold around our collective necks every four years. Shouldn't we?

Yea, we should!

I mean, our international dominance is pretty much non-existant at this point. We were an after thought at the World Baseball Classic. Our showing at the World Cup was...um, dissapointing (although J├╝rgen Klinsmann left Team Germany to move back to Cali...and coach US soccer! Yea!). I supposed the fact that we realy couldn't care less about international play factors in, but it still sucks to lose to countries smaller than Rhode Island. Too bad football isn't in the Olympics.

Right now USA Hoops has 22 players on its "training camp" roster. 10 have to be cut. We already know Gilbert is making the squad...so here's his 11 teammates for Operation: Be Good At Basketball Again.

Point Guard. First things first: its a matter of national security that Kirk Hinrich get on this team. USA basketball really botched it when they made Luke Ridnour the token white PG. Its really too bad he isn't there, because he and Chris Paul could run the show for the next...well, a really long time. Both are unselfish, but both step up when need be. Paul is a better penatrator and passer, but Hinrich is the better shooter. The two of them together? Joga Bonita. As it is, just CP3 will be rocking the red, white and blue. Shame, really.
Chris Paul (1).

Shooting guard. Here's where the US should exert its overwhelming dominance. Remember how USA basketball used to mean point guards? Well, they all evolved into two guards because they wanted to shoot todamn much. Regardless, we're stacked at this position. Locks include Kobe, D. Wade and the aforementioned Arenas.

We'll need some perimeter defense, which means either Bruce Bowen or Josh Howard. I'm inclined to go with Howard, for a couple of reasons: 1) He's not the dirtiest player in the NBA; Bowen is; 2) Howard is a better on the ball defender, while Bowen specializes more in chasing guys of screens; the international game has more drivers than screen-readers (think Manu, not Rip); and 3) Bowen is useless offensively, while Howard isn't. Plus, Howard is used to a subservient offensive role, being the third option being Dirk and JET. He actually thrives in that environment. Keeping in mind the team mind frame, that's crucial.

Still need a shooter...that's kind of important in the international game, yes? True, Areans is pretty much as good as it gets, but he's gonna be tired from guarding the ball full court. Gotta be either Michael Redd or Joe Johnson. While Johnson is probably a better ball handler, Redd can absolutely stroke the ball. Freakin' dead eye. Redd gets the nod.

Oh, Billups isn't coming because Piper is going to give birth soon, and he's way too cool for the Olympics anyways.
Arenas (2), Kobe (3), Wade (4), J. Howard (5), Redd (6).

Swing. LeBron. Duh. And that's pretty much it in that category. Let's list the reasons why everyone else isn't coming:

  • 'Melo: Basically only effective when scoring. Team USA has plenty of that; the last thing they need is a volume shooter. Don't get me wrong, 'Melo is a helluva scorer...but what else does he do? Throw in the debacle at the last Olympics, and I think its better he sits at home.
  • Paul Pierce: Pretty much ditto. Just needs the ball too much.
  • Antawn Jamison: Um...he sucks?
  • Shawn Marion: See, the Olympics are about actual, discernable basketball skills. Marion has none. Hell of an athlete, perfect for Phoenix's system...but how terrible did he look last Olympics? Quite frankly (QUITE FRANKLY!), I'm stunned he's even on the invite list. Oh, and while we're here, here's Chuck Klostermann: "His jump shot resembles a jackrabbit heaving a pumpkin out of a manhole." Ah, that does it for me every time.
  • Lamar Odom: Security is tight on those international flights. Bongs don't travel well.
  • Shane Battier. Yea, he could be an intangibles guy...but I really don't think he's that good. I mean, The Logo just traded him...what's that tell you?
Not to worry, though. LeBron has the strength of 10 men. His passing skills from the small forward spot will be huge in the international game, not to mention his freakish ability in transition. Good pick, me.
LeBron (7).

On the Block. Brad Miller has to be a lock here. He's a true center, plus he can step out and shoot, not to mention his passing ability, particularly from the high post. Dwight Howard is in, because he's insanely athletic and he doesn't need the ball to score: he'll get all his points on the glass after leading the L in rebounding last year. Or he was second..whatever, I don't feel like looking it up, but he was really good at it. Great, even. Elton Brand and Chris Bosh are too skilled, too talented to leave off. And the ability to step out and shoot and handle the ball a little bit are key. Pure basketball skills are paramount in the international game, and these two are as skilled a big man as you will find.
Bosh (8), Brand (9), D. Howard (10), Miller (11).

The Wildcard. Here's where things get sticky. Under ideal circumstances, this is where you put Amare. Give the guy the ball on the elbow or the block, its a bucket. Runs the floor like a gazelle (always wanted to say that), finishes like a monster, all over the boards, can defend...do you see a downside? I don't. But his status is still up in the air. How hurt is he? Will he be 100%? Who knows? If he wants to play, and is healthy, I say suit him up.

But if not? Well, then I think you have to look heavily at Battier. Get another versatile defender who won't want the ball and can knock down the open shot. A team guy. Its a pretty steep drop off from Amare to Battier, but I think its the way to go.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

So who's your starting 5? Probably something like this: CP3 at the 1, Kobe at the 2, LeBron at the 3, Brand at the 4 and Miller at the 5.

The great part about this team is the lack of clashing personalities. Wade has already demonstrated the ability to be a option No. 2, but then take over at crunch time. Arenas already said he'll do "whatever." Josh Howard thrives as the un-focal point of an offense. LeBron gave his teammates every opportunity in the world to succeed last year; he was unselfish to a fault. Kobe has to continue rebuilding his image; he has no choice but to be a team player on this kind of stage. Of the big guys, only Bosh and maybe Brand really need the ball to thrive.

And are there two people in the world you'd want in a big spot more than Kobe or Wade? Didn't think so.

So while its not the perfect American team (come play with us Shaq, Duncan, T.Mac, KG, Kidd...HINRICH!), its more than serviceable. That's a gold medal team right there, no doubt.

Now its up to Coach K to make the right decisions.

(Gulp.)

Read the Rest After the Jump...

New Faces, New Places.

There's been alot of player movement lately, hasn't there? What's that? You feel a little confused? You need it all sorted out for you? What's that? You want a nice, tidy list of the most important moves? Fine, fine...but only because it's you. I wouldn't do this for anyone else. Just you.

The Most Important Moves of the Off Season, So Far, In Descending Order:

The New Ball. The NBA unveils a new ball for no real good reason. The grips better, I guess. Whatever. It looks cool. Point23 approves. Matters.

Mike Gansey signs a 2 year deal with the Heat. I'm telling you, this matters. In 10 years, when they do the "How Everyone Should Have Been Drafted" thing, Gansey will be in the top 10. He'll be a solid role player on a championship-caliber team(s), while 75% of this draft is flipping burgers. (Actually, they all went to college. Hmm. They'll all be managers. At burger joints.) Plus, he might wear a t-shirt in an NBA game. Have I mentioned this yet?

Tyson Chandler for PJ and JR. The Bulls get a tall guy who can actually put the ball in the basket, so thats nice. Plus they have Mr. Unlimited Potential in JR Smith. The NOOCH get a tall neck beard to play some D. Whatever.

Lakers sign Vlad Rad. Kobe has a shooter now. Like he's passing anyways. Even though the Lakers needed a shooter, if Vlad is starting for you, you aren't that good. Good job though. Filled a need. Hopefully Mr. Tumnus takes advantage of it.

Peja signs with NOOCH. Peja should fit in offensively for the NOOCH - but not for 64 million dollars over 5 years. Are you kidding me? This makes the Nene deal look responsible. That...that's just too much money. You do that deal if you are a piece away from a conference or league title. Not too get you into the playoffs. How good does the NOOCH think they are? I think they they are a legit contender, they're kidding themselves. This isn't the NFL; you don't go from not making the playoffs to winning it all.

I like the NOOCH bringing in Bobby Jackson though. I always liked his game, even in college with Minnesoata. (By the way, I can't believe I'm old enough that I remember guys playing in college who are close to retiring - or actually retiring. Kinda freakin myself out right now.)

Nene gets 60 million (dollars!) from the Nuggets. Cripes. I don't even know what to make of this...Just like with the Peja deal, I'd like to see what the next closest offer was. Was it even in the ballpark? I mean, now that Isiah has had his checkbook snatched away (kinda like a wife who spends too much money on shoes and manicures...kinda pathetic, no?), who's out there making outlandish offers? I hope for the Nuggest sake he bounces back from that torn ACL and they find a taker for K-Mart. Personally? I'm not seeing it...is Nene bringing a ring to the Rockies?

Jason Terry re-ups with the Mavs. So Jason Terry gets 10 mil less than Nene - 50 mil over 6 years. But JET is a proven player who took your team to the Finals. I like where your heads at, Dallas. Smart move. Man's entering his prime, he's clutch, and he's the only person who can make a Cheryl Miller interview bearable. Who woulda thought he'd be the best player off of Arizona's national championship team? (I had my money on AJ Bramlet.)

Speedy decides to spend four years in priso...er, the ATL. Hey, the Hawks have a PG! He's not going to be anAll Star or anything, but the fact that they got someone that good to sign there is a borderline miracle. Honestly, would you want to play there? The courts are telling them who they can sign for the love of Dominique. But really...this really, really helps, I think. Speedy at the 1, Joe Johnson at the 2, and then a bunch of 6-7, 6-9 types in the front court. Too bad they drafted Sheldon. Baby steps, Atlanta...baby steps.

Austin Croshere for Marquie Daniels. Straight up. Seriously - this happened. If this happened in a fantasy league, it would be vetoed instantly. I guess I see where Dallas is coming from...but not really. Yea, Daniels didnt play that much and was making a decent chunk of change, but you just gave him away - and he's good. You coulda gotten more, fellas. Croshere is an absolute waste. He'll never play, ever. Morons. Indiana has to be stoked. They're pretty damn athletic now, plus they don't have Croshere, who just seems like he'd be annoying as hell and a big dork. Although Daniels looks like a hammerhead, so it might be a wash. Whatever...the Mavs screwed up.

Indiana is a better team this year. Now with Daniels and Danny Granger, Year 2 and Stephen Jackson, that's a pretty nice back court, providing Anthony Johnson plays like he did agaisnt the Nets in the first round. JO on the block...maybe Harrington coming in? Say what you will about Jermaine O'Neal, but he's have a bona fide go to guy. I'd love to have him on my team (actually, I'd love to have a team...that would be pretty neat, wouldn't it?) and he's going to have a huge year this year. Mark my words.

Mike James signs with the T-Pups. Atta boy, McHale! Now this is a playoff team! Actually, this team still sucks, but KG had better get it in the playoffs. An 8 seed, something. They are set at the 1 with James and Foy. KG needs to keep the legelally insane Ricky Davis in line and Eddie Griffin's hands out of his pants (Seriously, KG, tell him about the groupies. Be a leader, for God's sake.) and this team has some serious sleeper potential. Love the Mike James signing, though; can't say enough about it.

Clippers land Mr. Hot Fingers. I think Donald Sterling is getting the hang of this thing! You lose a shooter...you replace him. Really a good job. After they lost Radmonovich, they signed a better version of him. Tim Thomas could start for them. He's better than Cuttino is. Really. As long as his head stays on straight (no promises, though) this is a GREAT signing. And ifhe stops doing that "Oh, my fingers are so hot! I better blow them off!" routine, all the better. Maybe he can show Daniel Ewing how to be taller, too.

Honestly, Tim Thomas could get the Clippers to the Conference Finals, if not to the Finals. Yea, Phoenix gets Amare back, but will he be there all year? And the same player he was? Plus, Nash is a year older...Something to think about.

The Bulls steal Big Ben away from the Pistons. The 'fro of the Pistons stays in-conference. HAHA. God, I can't wait to watch the Bulls run all over the Pistons. Flip Saunders is getting fired this year. He'll maintain that the Pistons can play offense with everyone else, which is a very, very bad idea. How are they going to score? Billups shooting pull up 3's? Rip running off screens? Sheed doing whatever the hell he wants? Nope. They started slacking on D and Big Ben covered there asses all year. Unless they commit to the defensive end, they are toast. Has a team ever gone from 4 All Stars one year to none the next?

Oh yea, the Bulls got better. They still can't win a title with that team. They need a stud. Although I guess we said the same thing about the Pistons, and they won...but that was before the offensive rule changes. They need someone they can just throw the ball to - whether it be on the wing or the block - and just get a duece or a trip to the FT line. The Final Four last year all had at least one of those guys. Until they get one, they're just a team to be scared as hell of.

The Class of '03 is smart. Well, Bronny is the smartest. They're all following his lead. But they are setting themselves up for some big paydays. And the more I think about it, they aren't in the best situations. Melo's team just signed Nene for 10 mil a year. The Heat, minus Shaq, are a freakin' trainwreck. Once he's gone, I don't think I'd wanna be there either. And yea, the Raps are making an effort...but they drafted a girl with their first pick. And one wrong fall, and their PG is permanently retired. So Bosh isn't safe, either, although he's the lone one of the quartet not to copy LeBron. Yet. Just goes to show you: LeBron's always one step ahead of the game.

Read the Rest After the Jump...

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Selfish Bronny?

So Bron Bron re-uped with the Cavs, which was about as surprising as jumping into a pool and getting wet, although all those conspiracy theories sure were fun. And that was nice of Simmons to scare the bejeezus out of me. Thanks, Bill.

Instead of signing his max deal ('bout 80 mil over 5 years), however, it looks like LeBron will sign a three year deal (with a player option for a 4th) for about 60 mil. Reason being that after the next three seasons (well, four, including next season), he'll have been in the L for 7 years, meaning he can sign for the most money allowable, since he'll be a veteran and all. Plus, the cap is likely to be higher in Year Seven of the Reign of LeBron, so that's some extra cake too for number 23.

The question: Is that selfish?

Clearly, from a business standpoint, it makes sense. As Simmons notes in this article (although not in this context) LeBron could pull a Ricky Williams for the next three years and still sign a max deal. He'll be signing max deals for the rest of his career. So why wouldn't he want to sign one ASAP? He's guaranteeing himself more green. Financially, its the right move.

On the other side, he hasn't made the strongest commitment possible to Cleveland, who is probably going to be scared blind again in three years. Since he'll be unrestricted and all. And he held out for 30% of the cap, instead of 25%...I mean, at that point, do you even need that much money? Unless you're Bassy and rolling 150 deep, once you have that much money, you're pretty much set, right?

But if I'm LeBron, I'm doing this, and it has nothing to do with the money. Yea, I want to bring a title to Cleveland...but I don't want to do it alone. Getting crushed by four Pistons at a time was fun and all, but hopefully I can get some better help than Damon Jones, yes? (Freakin' MIKE GANSEY - a p23 fave, by the way - isn't better than The Butler? He's just as good a shooter - probably better - and can actually get in someone's way, if not actually guard them. Plus, he could be the first player I can remember to wear a t-shirt under his jersey. I see no downside.)

The point is, this puts the onus on the Cleveland brass. The message is clear: Yea, I'm staying and I want to be here and win here, but if you guys keep shelling out dinero for scrubs like Damon Jones and Larry Hughes, I'm outta here. Which is good. Very good.

Everyone's a little uncomfortable. And that's good. No one's getting comfortable or complacent. The thing is, Bronny won 50 games with a buncha scrubs. And the better he gets, the more games Cleveland will win. So it'll be hard to tell how hard they are trying to get better. Here's how you can tell if they are:

Did they genuinely try to get a point guard?

Did they genuinely try to get a sharp shooter?

And that's the list; The LeBrons can make due with the rest. Will that happen? Well, I'm sure we'll witness something over the next four years.

The other question: Will LeBron's draft mates follow his lead? Technically, they haven't signed their deals yet; they can't do that until the deadline passes. If I was Wade, or Melo, or Bosh, or Darko...er, if I was one of those four, I don't think I'd do it. Just take the money on the table. Those three teams seem committed to building a winner: Miami traded for Shaq and brings HoF coaches out of retirement; Toronto hired Colangelo and has been active in the draft and in trades. Maybe only Denver is a shaky situation. Melo and George Karl ain't exactly drinking buddies, and they just fired their GM. Plus throw in the whole K-Mart fiasco, and its worth considering. Ultimately, though, they've shown they are willing to spend the money.

I still think I'd take the max deal now. But that's just me. I don't have to keep La La happy for the rest of my life.

Read the Rest After the Jump...

RIP, Barbaro. Please?

I wish Barbaro would die.

Quickly, too, so I don't have to hear that much about it. Maybe a bullet to the head, or he drowns in his special little pool. A horsie heart attack, perhaps. Whatever. Just get him the hell off my radar.

Apparently, our little champ has developed "potentially serious" complications. I can only pray. If "potentially" means "really" and "serious" means "dead," you can call me officialy giddy.

I'm sick of having to hear about him (Good God, that sounded like Skip Bayless. I'll simmer). I would honestly rather hear another Barry Bonds story at this point. Barbaro makes steriods seem fresh and interesting. (Ironically, though, they may have the two largest heads I can think of. Lick finger and draw an imaginary tally on my imaginary board that keeps track of clever things I say.)

At first, I guess I can see why Barbaro was getting some ink. Lots of people watched Elmer's golden boy snap his leg live on national TV, so I'm sure they wanted to know what happened. But now? Let it go, man. Let it go.

I'm genuinely at a loss as to why he gets so much attention. He's a damn horse. A HORSE! Let's put it this way: if the jockey riding Barbaro had fallen of the horse, been trampled, and sent to the hospital in critical condition, we wouldn't hear as much about him as Barbaro. I don't know if that's funny or sad or both. We might have heard about it initially, but months afterwards? Nu uh.

The support of the public over a walking glue stick has been appalling. (No, not appalling; that makes me sound like Jay Mariotti. All I need after that is to yell "WHAT ABOUT THE KIDS?!?!" and wear my hair all wavy, and I'd be Jay. So not appalling.) The support has been...well, pathetic. That works, I think.

Explain to me your mindset when you write a letter of support to a horse. And like, thousands of people have done this. I just don't get it, and I'm not trying to be clever or funny or anything...please explain to me your thought process. I won't even question it. I just want to hear one. Yea, yea, there's all those "he can't read" jokes...but you know what? He can't. Plus, he's a horse. Why didn't anyone write any letters to the animals that died in Katrina? Surely, their suffering was much greater, and much nobler. But no one did. Know why? Because they are animals and they matter less than Mexico.

The whole situation is just pointless. Which is why I'm voting for Barbaro to end up like the horsie from the Godfather: headless, drenched in its own blood, and dead. Really dead.

Of course, then you'll have all the tribute pieces. And all the reasons for why he died article. And I'm sure ESPN will cut in with live coverage of is funeral. Damnit. That's no good. Maybe he should just get better real quick and go live a quite life in anonymity?

Nah. Dead is better.

Read the Rest After the Jump...

Monday, July 10, 2006

Federer is a Ballsy Genius

I don't watch too much tennis. At least not since it was on USA and Michael Chang was relevant (I had an irrational soft spot for Michael Chang; I have no idea why.) But from what I've gathered, there are basically only two relevant players - Roger Federer and Rafeal Nadal. Federer hasn't lost on grass ever apparently, but Nadal is whooping his ass in majors this year. I think. Anyways, its quite a rivalry. The Tiger/Phil of tennis, if you will.

Actually, it must be, because quotes like this are flying around:

Rafael has the one thing that Roger doesn't: balls. I don't even think Rafael has two; I think he has three....Roger might have them, but against Nadal they shrink to a very small size and it's not once. It's every time.

- former tennis champ Mats Wilander
That's just spectacular. I don't even know what the craziest past of that quote is...one player has an extra testicle...one player has the ability to shrink his testicles...or the guy who said it is named "Mats" and he's a "former tennis champ." Was he the champion of all tennis at some point that I'm not aware of? Did he just win one little event and then dub himself a former tennis champ? Can you even do that? Regardless, Mats is the champion of all tennis and has a deep knowledge of the player's testicular abilities. Sweet.

Anyways, apparently the winner of Wimbledon is supposed to wear - or gets, or something - a cream colored jacket. I'm not really sure the deal with the cream jacket, but somehow its linked with the winner. Not the coolest thing a champ ever got to wear, but whatever.

And here's why Nadal had no chance (other than being weighed down by a third nut): Federer wore the jacket before the match even began. He wore it to the warmup! That's a pretty ballsy thing to do (considering his shrinking balls, even more so). And I'm not sure, but I think he wore it to all his other matchres in the tourney, too. I don't care if you don't like tennis or Federer, that's a pretty damn cool thing to do.

And then he went out and iced Nadal. That's a statement. I guess you can say he wore it as a reminder that he had won the last three...but I choose to look the other way, and you should, too. He wore because he was telling Nadal: "See this? I'm going to win it. Again. I already won this match. That's nice of you to show up, but it wasn't really necessary. I am going to obliterate you and you're crowded scrotum. Enjoy."

Imagine of other teams in other sports did that. What if the White Sox took BP with their rings? Or the Spurs would warmup with banners draped around them? That's must see TV right there, my friend.

(Oh, apperntly this is what the jacket is all about: It was made by Nike, and has a crest that included a tuft of grass, the Swiss cross, the symbol for his Leo star sign, an F for his surname, and three racquets which represent his three Wimbledon titles. Um...can I have one?)

Read the Rest After the Jump...

Sunday, July 09, 2006

This...This Is No Good.

I am so flippin' bored.

There is no time of year is more boring on the sports calendar than right now, and - quite frankly - it isn't even debatable.

Think about it. What the hell is there to do right now, sports-wise? Not a damn thing, that's what. I finally get access to Insider, and its basically useless. (By the way, am I a better person now that I have Insider? I sure feel like one. I think I'll have more friends and be more popular...) There is nothing going on.

The NBA is over, and has been for some time. Hoops Withdrawal this season is even worse since we're coming off The Greatest Post Season I Can Remember and we are on the brink of A New Golden Age in the League. Plus the draft is over, and most of the free agents have signed....all I have to look forward to now is the Bonzi Wells signing and the AI trade thats never going to happen. Yipee.

The NFL is still a couple of weeks away from training camp...the actual season might never even take place. All there is to do right now is watch "6 Days 'til Sunday" on the NFL Network (hell of a show, hell of a show) and tweak my fantasy draft board for the 80th time.

College football? College hoops? I wish.

Thank God for the World Cup. If it hadn't been going on, I don't know what I would have done the last couple of weeks. Now that it's over...well...that's just not good.

Basically, I'm stuck with baseball. Which is OK, I guess...but, ya know...just not the same. Baseball is the equivaent of having Vince Carter on your team. He's fun and you know some crazy shit is going to happen every so often, but if he's the focal point of your offense, you're in trouble. Same thing with baseball. Yea, it can be good..but not as the centerpiece of the sporting world. At least not until the playoffs, anyways.

I can't believe I'm stuck with baseball. I can't believe what these means. I have to get a job.

Damnit.

Read the Rest After the Jump...

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Can The LeBrons Get Some Help?

Ben Wallace is a Bull. Know what that means? The Pistons are dead. That's it. I hope they enjoyed it while it lasted, but its over now.


The Pistons were succesful because of the way they played defense and the way they played together. Two people personified that in the Pistons' "hey day" and they're both gone now. First Larry Brown, and now Big Ben. They seem to think they can outscore their opponent, which is absurd, because they really can't. None of thoes guys - with the exception of maybe 'Sheed - is at his best when he's going one-on-one. At least they still have that smug, "we don't have to try hard because we have 4 All-Stars" thing going for them. God, I'm going to love watching the demise of the Pistons. I'll set the over/under at Christmas for the first Sports Center feature called "Pistons: No Longer a Well-Oiled Machine."

Anyways, that's not really the point: the point is now that the East is wide open. The Heat have a Shaq that is one year older and is going to try to play himself into shape during the season again. I can't believe that worked last year, it certainly won't work this year. Plus all those role players are content - and so is Riles. That's no good. The Pistons lost their glue and the face of their team, plus they think they are the greastest thing to happen to hoops since Naismith when they are really just a good team. New Jersey will contend again, but J Kidd is another year older, and they rely on Vince Carter in crunch time. And what happens when all the computers go missing from the film room? The Bulls are much better defensively and more athletic, but they still don't have a No. 1 guy on offense. Those are kind of important. The Zards couldn't stop St. Mary's School for the Blind, let alone a regular NBA offense, even they they are explosive offensively.

Which brings us to the Cavs.

I'm convinced that you can put almost any 4 players in the NBA with LeBron James, and he can get them to the Eastern Cnonference Finals, and probably the NBA Finals.

Think about the talent he had around him last year. Eric Snow, who asides from having the biggest head in the L (and I don't mean he's arrogant or thinks he's better than he is; his head is literally and physically massive - his bobble head is actually made to scale), doesn't do anything accept not turn it over. He's the Trent Dilfer of the NBA. He dribbles down court, passes it, and then vanishes so the Cavs can play four on five. And how nervous is everyone whenever Larry Hughes has the ball? What exactly is he trying to do? Is he a scorer? A slasher? Shooter? Finisher? I don't think anyone has any idea. Z gets his play at the beginning of every quarter, and that's it. And if Gooden isn't busting his ass, he's just another player with a bad beard. Hell, they were better when they had 3 bench players on the floor: Flip, Anderson Varajo and Donyell Marshall.

And Bron Bron took them to within a game of the Eastern Conference Finals.

The Cavs roster is filled with guys who make you say, "Hmm, yea...he's not bad...I'd like to have him." But you can't have an entire roster of those guys. You need some role players and some specialists. Some energy guys and some flat-out scorers.

So why aren't the Cavs doing anything in the free agent market? According to ESPN's Insider (which is a big freakin' ripoff, but we'll get to that later) here's what the Cavs are up to this off-season:
Cavs Contact Free Agents
Jul 3 - The Willoughby News-Herald reports Cavaliers spoke to the agents for Portland center Joel Przybilla, Memphis forward/center Lorenzen Wright and Mark Bartelstein about Los Angeles Lakers swingman Devean George.
Um...that's it? What is the thought process there? Isn't Przybilla just a younger Z without a ridiculous hook shot? Does Z fit in at all with LeBron? Lorenzen Wright and Devean George? What year was this written, 2001?

I realize this is a crappy free agent class, but there are some pieces worth going after. They need a PG and a shooter. They really have no one that makes you pay for doubling LeBron. And you know who would fill all those holes?

Mike James.

Asides from giving me the freedom to scream "Mike James!" like "Mike Jones!", signing the Toronto PG would be a God send for Cleveland. Think about it:

What's the penalty for doubling LeBron? Unless James makes a gorgeous play and finds some one for a layup (which he actually does pretty regualrly, the fact that his team misses 53%* of those layups doesn't seem to phase him), you're getting a jumper from some shaky shooter. Only Marshall regularly knocks down those corner threes. Mike James would amke teams pay: either by knocking down the shot, or blowing by the recovering defenders and either scoring himself or finding someone else for a lay up.

Shouldn't Cleveland be playing a little more up tempo? I know LeBron is great and all, but the half court set where he tries to score on four people is not only pretty boring to watch, but its not good basketball. That's exhausting. So get out on the break. Bron Bron is a freight train in the open court; he's virtually impossible to stop in the open court. Plus you put Hughes in a positio where he can be successful too. One problem: Eric Snow's huge head doesn't let him go very fast, plus once he looks to the right, it is really hard for him to turn that boulder on his shoulder to the left. That's not good for fast breaks. Mike James has no such problem.

He's a perfect fit. He can play the way the Cavs play now, or he can play the way the Cavs should play (Cripes, sign Speedy Claxton for all I care - just get a good, fast point guard).

The point is, the time is now. Who knows what other teams will do in the next few years. The East is ripe for the taking right now. (OK, let's be honest: the East looks weak again for years to come. But you never know.)

Signing Mike James basically puts the LeBrons in the Eastern Conference Finals, if not the Finals. C'mon! Its Mike Jones! I mean...Mike James!

Read the Rest After the Jump...

If I Could, I'd Ruin the MLB All Star Game. Even Worse Than Selig Already Has, Believe It Or Not.

Two thoughts here:

1) What, exactly, is the point of an All-Star game?
2) If I was managing an All-Star game, I would absolutely ruin it. I'd butcher it. Fans would hate me. But I'd get home field advantage in the World Series. Please believe, believe me please.

As to the first question, I'm just curious, because I think you have to figure out what the point of the game is before you can decide how to select the players.

If the game is purely an exhibition with no consequences designed entirely to entertain fans, then you let the fans decide who plays. If the game has consequences - of any kind - then I think you have to eliminate the fan vote. Either way is fine, but you just have to pick one. It says so in my rule book.

I'm convinced MLB thought that one out backwards, or didn't think it out at all. Because their All Star game is a mixture of both. And that's no good.

Setting aside the fact that an All Star game deciding home field advantage in the World Series is probably the most inane thing in sports...wait, nevermind. You can't set that aside. I know its been beat into the ground, but just think about that for a second. What was the thought process there? Were they trying to jack up ratings? Did they want to assure themselves a spot on the Stupidest Things In Sports list, counted down by Summer Sanders? What's so hard about giving the team with the better record home field? That takes, what...no thought process?And if they are tied, you go to their inter-league record or their in-league record or something. Just pick something. Cripes.

Anyway, my point was...oh right - since the game is important, you can't let fans decide. Think how important this game is. Home field. In the World Series. Fans shouldn't decide that. If they are going to decide home field, why stop there? Let them decide everything. Let them decide every day line ups, batting order, when to hit and run. These things eventually decide home field advantage...why aren't they voting on them too?

(And besides, All Star appearances are used in Hall of Fame criteria. So now fans are deciding the HoF, too. Brilliant.)

Let's face it: fans are morons. Not all of them, but most of them. They don't use criteria in deciding who to pick, they pick guys from their favorite team (as evidenced by the entire AL roster being comprised of BoSox and Yanks).

Back to me ruining to the All-Star Game:

In an All-Star game, you want to see everyone play (that is why MLB mandates a player from every franchise on the roster, no?). But if you were a manager of an All Star team, you have a very real shot at going to the World Series. Wouldn't you take that seriously? I'd throw my best pitchers all game, play my best fielders and hitters, and screw everyone else. I'd bust my balls trying to win this game. I'd take it just as seriously as a regualr season game. HOME FIELD IN THE WORLD SERIES? Are you kidding me? I'd ruin this game for that opportunity. Do you have any idea how important that is?

Every other manager in my league would hate me - if they had good players, that is. I'd keep them in all game. If Jose Contrares is still throwing a shut out in the 7th, he's going back out for the 8th. Screw this 2 innings and done crap. And if Derek Jeter is still able to walk, he's playing all nine innings. And those cute little guys from Kansas City and Pittsburgh sitting at the end of the bench? I hope they're comfy, because they aren't getting up anytime soon. I'm not screwing around. And if a manager doesn't do it this way, what does that say about his competitiveness? He really doesn't have a choice, does he?

If I was a real reporter, I'd ask both managers about this after the game. "Um, sir? Yea..I was wondering why you didn't try as hard as possible to win? Is it because you don't think you are going to the World Series? Don't you want that advantage? Isn't that kind of important?"

Honestly, what's he going to say? I'd love to hear that explanation.

Read the Rest After the Jump...

Monday, July 03, 2006

An Open Letter to Every Team in the NBA, Except the Reigning World Champs.

Dear Losers,

Congratulations on finishing in [2nd through 30th]. Heck of a season for you guys, really. I'm sure you'll get over the hump in the next few seasons. Really.

Since I know all of you franchises thinks you are thisclose to either winning it all, going deep into the playoffs, sneaking into the playoffs, going games at a time without on-court brawls over the basketball (Quit staring around the room, Knickerbockers, you know exactly who I'm talking to), I am a little concerned about your state of mind.

I am sure you all feel you are just one piece away from achieving your goals. Hell, look at Miami last year, right? They added Shaq to one superstar with a bunch of washed-up role players, and now their all wearing rings. Perfect, right? So let's try that!

And see, that is why I am worried. No team will ever duplicate what the Heat did this season. It just won't happen; the circumstances were so unique and bizarre, no one could possibly imitate it and be successful. So please, please don't try.

Miami's "blueprint" worked for a few reasons, not the least of which was the superstar that they added was Shaquille O'Neal. Yea, this isn't the svelte, dominating Daddy from yore, but it was still Shaq. Shaq is the most dominating force basketball has seen since 23 hung 'em up for the third time. He's not equatable with any other "superstar" thats allegedly on the market right now.

(Boston - if you think AI joining pierce is going to equate in a ring, you're freakin' nuts. It'll be fun as hell to watch, but there's no way on God's green earth - you like that pun, didn't you? - that Boston will be throwing a confetti parade with those two leading the way. And KG ain't the answer either. The Big Ticket couldn't punch a playoff ticket for two seasons. He's not leading a team to a title any time soon. Unless he goes to the Cavs. Yea, the Cavs.)

The fact that it was Shaq that the Heat added can't be overstated. IT WAS SHAQ. Who saved himself all season for a title run (and it actually worked, which might be the most surprising thing). It didn't work the year before. It isn't going to work next year. Miraculously, it worked this year.

Plus, a legendary coach who the players were all dying to play for came out of retirement midway through the season solely for this purpose. Oh, and, they happened to have maybe the most clutch, unstoppable, unselfish guard in the league who has the refs so infatuated with him that it is borderline unfair.

So, before you think of adding "that missing piece," ask yourself the following:

  • Is the piece we are about to add the most dominating basketball force since Michael Jordan?
  • Are we adding him to arguably the best off guard in the league, who also has no problem sharing the ball with him?
  • Do we have a Hall of Fame coach that all can command all our veterans who are dying to win a championship?
If you can answer all three with "yes," then by all means, add that piece. But if not, hold your horses, cowboys. For the sake of the game.

Teams built like the Heat suck. Seriously. Teams intentionally put together with a small, minute window, who have to win now just suck. Where is the reward as a fan (or even as a team?) in winning that way? Watching a bunch of old guys with no chemistry tolerate each other for a season or two just to get a ring is not fun. The Heat - and the NBA - are lucky D Wade is about the most personable and likeable star in the league right now. With anyone else, anyone outside of Miami is rooting hard core for the Mavs to win. As it was, fans with no rooting interest were pretty much split on who they wanted to win.

Think what it must be like to be a Marlins fan. Yea, you got two rings, but you basically bought them, and then sold off the pieces like a Sion in a chop shop. Don't you think the Marlins fans feel a little empty with those rings? Whatever happened to a team working for years, drafting well, maybe picking up a solid contributor or two, battling through better, tougher opponents, in the playoffs and then finally, miraculously breaking through to win a title? Sure, the economics don't really allow for that anymore, to a certain extent, but I still think you can do it. Look at the Mavs this year. If they would have won, how satisfying would that title have been? To build yourself up from laughing stock to title contender...that just feels right, doesn't it?

I equate it to having a Picasso or a Rembrandt hanging in your living room. One catch - you had to steal it to get it. Sure, "buying" players isn't the same as stealing, but it kind of feels the same. Hey, maybe some people can still enjoy a stolen piece of art as much as if it had been purchased legally. I just couldn't. All I'm saying.

Plus, as hard as it was to cheer for the Heat, how much fun was it to watch them, speaking strictly aesthetically? Not very, save for D Wade in the open court. Their games were so predictable - either get the hell out of Wade's way, or throw it into Shaq and play off the double team's. Having two great guys and a bunch of others isn't fun to watch. Let's get 5 skilled guys out there - why do you think the West is so much fun to watch (And the East really isn't?).

Here's the deal: if the Heat repeat, you can build your team's any way you want. But if they lose -which they most certainly will - then you have to build real teams. Sound good? OK, handshake..sign here...lovely.

So there is my plea, NBA. Let the Heat be your answer to the NCAA's George Mason: a heck of a story, but ultimately a fluke that likely can't - shouldn't? - be repeated.

Read the Rest After the Jump...

128 Teams. Worst. Idea. Ever.

There's been some dumb ideas before.

"Tin Cup" going for the green at the Open instead of laying up. The Knicks handing the keys to Isiah (they did see what he did to the CBA, right? He drove an entire league completely out of existance. Has that even ever been done single-handedly before? They were aware of this, weren't they?) Joe Namath saying, "Interview with Suzy Kolber? Suuuure...let me just finish this last beer..."

Expanding the NCAA Basketball Tournament to 128 teams is just as bad of an idea. Trust me.

Before we go through the litany of reasons why this is an awful idea, let me get one thing off my chest. If one more person - coach, analyst, news reporter, my own mother - refers to "expanding to 128 teams" as "doubling the size of the current field," I will go on a boobey-trapping rampage the likes of which hasn't been seen since Makuley Caulkin got left home alone. Both times.

You know why it isn't doubling the current field? Because doubling the current field gives you 130 teams, that's why, because the self-indulgent, money-grubbing, sanctimonious bastards at the NCAA have 65 teams in the current field. So if you really want to "double the field," then make it 130. If you want 128, call it that. Thank you.

Alright, now that that's out of the way, let's get to the bottom of this. Why does this idea make Tin Cup look like an innovator? Here are "the coaches" reasons - from this espn.com article - for wanting to expand to 128. Let's debunk them, one by one. It'll be fun!

• The number of Division I teams has increased significantly since the last major expansion more than two decades ago. The field went from 48 to 64 teams in 1985, then added a 65th team to the field in 2001 when the number of automatic bids went from 30 to 31.

So there are now more teams, so let's have a bigger playoff. Seams reasonsable. But that's not the reason coaches want to expand. They want to be able to say, "Hey, look, I made the tourney 4 years in a row (please forget I got bounced in the first round every time), so you can't fire me. I'm successful!" Its a complete and direct lie that coaches feel more total teams should equate to more teams in The Dance. They just want greater job security. (Hey, with so many different teams, aren't there more job opportunities? Jus' sayin...)

And 128...the sole reason that number got picked is because it creates a "perfect" bracket. No team needs a bye and no teams are penalized with extra games. But 128? C'mon. There are teams in the tourney now with sub-.500 records...imagine when it is doubled? Who needs the opening weekend filled with teams who couldn't even win half their games? The first weekend is the best part, anyways. This would ruin all that fun; half the games would end in lopsided blowouts. That's no fun.
• George Mason, which was one of the last at-large teams to make the field this year, proved parity in college basketball is real. The combination of prominent programs losing underclassmen at faster rates and scholarship reductions have helped mid-major schools become more competitive. The coaches believe they deserved to be rewarded accordingly.
Is anyone buying this? Anyone? You really think the coaches in the ACC, SEC, Big East, Big Ten, etc. are really up and arms that some "worthy" mid-majors or small schools are being left out? Please. They could care less. And sure, some of those bids would go to the mid-majors or smaller schools, but the overwhelming majority would go to .500 or below teams from the power conferences. Does anyone really want to get excited about Northwestern vs. Vanderbilt? I didn't think so.

(And besides, if some mid-majors do get in - either at the expense of some power schools or knock off some power schools once they are in - that does not bode well for those coaches who are worried about their job security. No, the last thing this is about is the mid-majors.)

Any by the way, parity isn't "real." George Mason was a fluke. (Not the team, but the fact that a mid-major went to the Final Four. Don't expect that to happen again anytime soon.) The reason mid-majors RPI's are so high is because they all play eachother (give them credit, they do have good records). It's not like mid-majors - with the rare exception - are regularly polishing off power conferece schools. Throw any mid-major in a power conference, and they aren't entering The Dance with 25-3 records - if they are going at all.

Yea, the gap is shrinking, but slowly. A 16 still won't beat a 1. What's shrinking faster, the small schools distance between the big boys, or US Soccer's gap between them and the rest of the world? Who knows. Translation: they ain't close yet.
• Now that the NCAA controls both postseason tournaments, coaches think it's time to include some of the bubble teams that annually complain when they are left out.
You think teams 129 and 130 and 131 won't have a gripe under this system? No matter where the cutoff line is, the teams just on the outside of it will complain. Just the way it is. The only way to stop that would be to let everyone in - and then there would still be complaints about seedings and where games were played...just draw a line and be done with it. 64 is perfect.

The coaches, by asking for 128, may get a significantly lower number - mayeb 68, 80, 90. So give 'em credit, they aren't stupid. But don't think for a second this has anything to do with mid-majors. George Mason is merely a fortunate catalyst that fell into the laps of the teams that regularly finish 5th and 6th in the power conferences.

Of course, there are some upsides. Gus Johnson would get to call more games. So that's a positive if there ever was one. But that's about it.

Please, please, live The Dance the way it is. Its about the only thing the NCAA hasn't completely screwed up. Please.

64 is perfect.

Read the Rest After the Jump...

Sunday, July 02, 2006

The Greatest Baseball Catch Ever. Seriously.

The Sports World today is obsessed with making players, teams, events, whatever The Greatest Ever. And if they aren't The Greatest Ever, then we need to know how close they are to being The Greatest Ever. We rank everything. You can't flip throughthe 9 ESPN's or Fox Sports without running into some kind of list (and if Summer Sanders is counting down, count me in).

Is D Wade greater than MJ? Is the Patriots dynasty the best of all time? The Daily Quickie, in particular, is guilty of this - Dan Shanoff revels in "instant history" (I think that's what he calls it, anyways...I stopped reading once he started talking about his wife, which is something sports writers are increasingly doing, and it about as annoying as Stu Scott interviewing Stephen A).

Normally, I shy away from all that stuff. First of all, its usually pointless, and second of all, you need some time to rank things; the moment they happen is just too soon.

That said, Gary Matthews, Jr.'s catch yesterday was the greatest catch in baseball. Ever. No joke. That catch makes Willy Mays' over-the-shoulder grab look like a can of corn. Mays' catch seems to be the gold standard for catches (even though everyone knows it was great at the time, but today is almost routine ), and GMJr puts him to shame.

(Sidenote: did you know Gary Matthews Jr. was black? I had no idea. I could have sworn I heard a country music song by Gary Matthews, and then I saw him make this catch, and I was just dumbfounded. I actually did a double take.)

I know there have been some great diving catches, some bare-handers, some sick home run robbers...but how are you going to top that catch? Everyone is calling it the front runner for Play of the Year, but let me tell you, unless Derek Jeter kills Roger Clemens with a line drive in the World Series, that play will win. No contest.

Think about what he did. First of all, he nearly leaps over the wall. Another inch or two, and hes making that catch in the bullpen. Going towards the left, he still tries to make the catch with his left hand (I think because he's left handed and that's the hand his glove was on; not positive though. Only to do so, he has to twist and contort his body - in midair, mind you - and then he does maybe the most impressive thing. Instead of putting his glove up normally - like you're blocking the sun out of you're eyes - he reverses it, and nabs in basket-style (maybe in tribute to Mays). Throw in a sweet little plunk when the ball finds leather, and its The Greatest Catch Ever.

If someone has video or can describe a better catch than that, I want to see it. I think Harry Potter catching the Snitch in his mouth might be the only catch more impressive. Mad props to GMJr.

And in case you missed it, here is The Greatest Catch Ever, in all its glorious glory.

Read the Rest After the Jump...