Sunday, April 30, 2006

At The Midpoint Of The NBA's First Round


With every series already playing three games.....and two series already done with's time to do a quick little recap of what's going on...and what could go on.

NETS-PACERS TIED 2-2:  The only series currently at a deadlock, this Nets-Pacers series could go the distance.  Both have won on the other's court.  The last three games haven't really been close.  And there have been two "stars" of this series that no one expected.  Former Net and current Pacer Anthony Johnson has been a nightmare for his former team.  And current Net Nenad Krstic has scored at least 20 pts in three of the four games.  I picked the Nets in 7....and I am sticking with it. 

PISTONS CAN LOSE TO THE BUCKS:  The only thing people were wondering in this series was if Milwaukee could win a game.  Well, they 20.  The Pistons defense was horrible....allowing 124 points total and Michael Redd to get off for 40 [the team shot 60% from the field].  Now if the Bucks can pull off a surprise Monday night, we may actually have a series here.  Doubt it.  I picked the Pistons in 4 and, well, that ain't gonna happen.  So, the Pistons in 5. 

CAN MIAMI STAY ALERT?:  The Heat snuck out of Miami with two hard fought wins over the Bulls.  But, they go to Chicago and implode.  There were techs, ejections and Shaq's horrid game [8 pts, 7 TOs, 0-6 from the line].  James Posey will be gone for Game 4...marking the 2nd Miami player to be suspended during this series [Udonis Haslem was suspended for Game 2].  I picked the Heat in 5 games...and while that still may happen, I just don't see that now.  Miami's having trouble shutting down Chicago's backcourt...and if Shaq's burnt out already, they are in a bit of trouble.

ALL ABOUT LEBRON:  If there is one thing for certain in the Wiz-Cavs series [Cleveland leads 2-1], is that LeBron James is the focal point of everything. In the two games the Cavs won, LeBron couldn't be stopped....even hitting the game winner in Game 3.  In the one game they lost, the story was how LeBron was "physicalled" all night.  I picked the Cavs in 7 games.....and it looks as if that will be the case. 


THE WAY THE BALL BOUNCES:  In the Spurs-Kings series [San Antonio leads 2-1] we have seen the last two games decided by a ball bouncing around the rim.  In Game 2, the Spurs made a late comeback to send the game into overtime.  The shot that put them there was a Brent Barry three-pointer that bounced around the rim before dropping.  In Game 3, the Spurs turned the ball over...Sacto's Kevin Martin raced down the court and tossed up a layup over Tim Duncan as time expired.  That shot bounced around the rim before dropping to give the Kings a one point win.  That was the first time a shot took a team trailing to a playoff win at the buzzer since Derek Fisher's dramatic and controvercial shot in San Antonio in the 2003 playoffs.  So, Kings fans can say "ahhh...we could be up 2-1" and Spurs fans can say "ahhhh...we could be up 3-0".  I picked the Spurs in 5....and after Game 1 it looked like I overrated the Kings.  Now, Sacto has a chance to tie this thing up.  I still think the Spurs come out on top.

LAKERS ONLY ROAD TEAM WITH SERIES LEAD:  Right now, the Lakers are the only road team to have a lead in their series [they lead 2-1].  Games 2 and 3 were near identical games [the scores even were 99-92 and 99-93] with the Lakers stepping up big late and the Suns folding at times.  And both games were pretty physical.  We've had Vujacic-Nash.  Kwame-Diaw.  Walton-Thomas.  And two rounds of Kobe-Nash.  The story of this series has been Kobe Bryant.  Not that he's been going off....but that he isn't.  He has looked more like a Magic Johnson-type player....running the offense and distributing the ball.  In fact, in Game 3, Kobe Bryant didn't lead the team in scoring for the first time since February 7 [Smush Parker led the team].  I picked the Suns in 7....and despite my Laker buddies ribbing....and I am sticking with it.  I know, I know.  The Suns are shook.  The Lakers are all playing well.  But I had this series figured at one team would win Games 1 and 4....the other would win 2 and 3.  The rest of the way, the home team prevails.  If the Suns can get their crap together they can get this series back.  But I sure hope I am wrong on this one. 

MEMPHIS STILL CAN'T WIN A GAME:  Right now, the Grizzlies are 0-11 lifetime in the playoffs.  Ouch!  Dallas owns a 3-0 lead in this series with the help of a lose ball finding Dirk Nowitzki's hands and his shot finding the bottom of the basket.  I picked the Mavs in 7....and, well, this series will be over much shorter than I expected. 

CLIPPERS MAY ADVANCE:  For the first time ever, the Clippers may win a playoff series.  The last time they did so, they were the Buffalo Braves.  Well, the Clips own a 3-1 advantage, and the series would be over by now if they didn't turn the ball over constantly in Game 3.  The story of this series has obviously been Kenyon Martin being suspended indefinitely.  I said the Nuggets in 6.....and Denver hasn't shown up at all for this series.  Maybe a Clips-Lakers 2nd round????

Rocky McIntosh


The Redskins traded up to the #35 pick and nabbed LB Rocky McIntosh from Miami-FL [if you scroll to the last blog entry I made, I called this pick].  This makes the FOURTH Miami Hurricane on the Redskins roster....joining Clinton Portis, Sean Taylor and Santana Moss. 

I obviously love the pick.  With Arrington now in NYC, the Skins need a quick, pass rushing backer....and of the guys that could've been in the 2nd round, I liked McIntosh.  Here is what others are saying about the pick.

ESPN INSIDER:  LaVar Arrington is gone, Warrick Holdman is inconsistent, at best, and Nic Clemons shouldn't be playing an every-down role. That makes outside linebacker a clear need, and Washington did well to add McIntosh. He doesn't have great size, but he has the quick feet to slip blocks in space and has sideline-to-sideline range. He also has excellent closing speed, so look for aggressive defensive coordinator Gregg Williams to blitz him early and often.

FOXSPORTS.COM:  McIntosh addressed a numbers problem for the Redskins at linebacker. McIntosh is instinctive and versatile enough athlete to make plays against the run and cover tight ends in Gregg Williams' defense, but durability is a concern. 

PAT KIRWIN:  In two years, he had 200 tackles (23 for a loss) and nine sacks. I think he is one of the finest special-teams players in the draft. He will make an immediate impact on special teams and a few defensive packages. He defines toughness.

SI.COM:  A motivated linebacker who leads by example, McIntosh is a solid athlete with the skills to play at the next level. Needs to fine-tune his game and, most importantly, stay healthy to have any chance of breaking into a starting lineup.

NFL.COM:  McIntosh quickly flashed his athleticism and consistently made plays all over the field. He is a very quick, smooth athlete who plays very well behind the line of scrimmage and can adjust to make plays out in space. He has the quick burst off acceleration and playing speed to catch fast running backs in pursuit before they can turn the corner on outside runs. He has the playing speed to cut behind blockers and chase down plays from behind. His versatility is what makes McIntosh so valuable because he will be a force against the run at him, runs away and in all types of pass coverage. He needs to bulk up and add 10-15 pounds to play stronger at point of attack and must improve his use of hands vs. low blocks in order to move through traffic well in the NFL. Overall, McIntosh is the type of linebacker who often gets a little overlooked because he is slightly undersized and does not make a lot of big, flashy plays, but in the end, he is going to develop into a very good all-around linebacker who can stay on the field for all three downs and is consistently productive vs. the run and the pass.

LARRY3422 [from AOL's Redskins Message Board]:  On ESPN it was reported that since 2000 no team in the NFL has had fewer draft picks than the skins.  Let's face it the skins don't believe in the draft never have never will.  Actually they treat the draft as a farm system like a baseball team.  Let other teams draft these guys, let the players proof themself then sign the player during his free agent years.  Not a bad plan because by then you know what you are getting. 

ROCKY MCINTOSH:  I thought I was going to go a little higher. I guess everyone does. But they traded up to come and get me and I appreciate that.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Are The Texans Making a Mistake?


TEXANS MAKE MARIO WILLIAMS THE #1 PICK:  I think it is a mistake.  Not picking Williams....but not getting the most out of this.  At least try to squeeze a couple bucks out of the Saints for this.  And don't make a Wolfpack player the #1 pick!!!

In 1985, Bruce Smith was the #1 pick in the draft.  Since then, there have been six defensive players selected #1 overall.  Joining Williams on that list is Aundray Bruce, Russell Maryland, Steve Emtman, Dan Wilkinson and Courtney Brown.  Only Maryland made anything out of himself.  Emtman ripped his knee in his rookie year.  Wilkinson and Brown never became stars.  Bruce was a major bust. 

SO, WHAT ABOUT THE REST OF THE DRAFT??  Well, I see the rest of the Top 10 this way...

2-Saints: Reggie Bush
3-Titans: Vince Young
4-Jets: D.Brickshaw Ferguson
5-Packers:  AJ Hawk
6-Niners:  Vernon Davis
7-Raiders:  Matt Leinart
8-Bills:  Broderick Bunkley
9-Lions:  Michael Huff
10-Cardinals:  Ernie Sims

By the way, I'm hoping Rocky McIntosh drops to the Redskins first pick....the #53 selection. 

BY THE WAY, PART TWO, I'M NOT WATCHING THE DRAFT:  Of course, I am working....but I still wouldn't watch the draft.  Unlike many sports fans and NFL nuts, I just don't care to really watch the draft.  The NFL draft is boring and smug.  It takes forever between picks.  Everything in the first few hours are retreaded talks.  I don't need to look into "war rooms".  There will be 20 bogus rumors for every single thing that is true.  And the interviews with the drafted players are as vanilla as it gets.  They are "happy to be selected".  It is "a dream come true".  When they get to their new team they will "work real hard" and are "looking forward" to playing with whatever star is there.  They will thank God, Mom and Dad.  And somewhere near them, their agent will be on the cell phone. 

I do admit interest in the doubt about that.  But I am content to check my ESPNMOBILE every hour or so to get the lowdown. 

RIP STEVE HOWE:  To many people, Steve Howe represents missed opportunity and wasted chances.  Howe was the NL rookie of the year for the Dodgers in 1980....but was suspended a total of 7 times due to his drug abuse.  Back in the 80s, the "drug problem" in baseball wasn't was cocaine.  In 1992, he was banned from baseball.....the first player to be banned due to drugs [he was reinstated a year later].  Howe died early Friday when his pickup truck rolled over in Coachella, CA.  He was 48.

THE REDS ARE THE BEST:  Here, on April 29, the Reds enter the day with the best record in the majors!  They are 16-7 and lead the NL Central by a whopping 1/2 game!

KEVIN MENCH HOMERS AGAIN:  For the 7th straight game, Kevin Mench went yard.  The interesting thing about this is the guy that has him at my work's Home Run Derby nearly dropped him last week....but held on just to see if he'd work out of his "slump".  Guess so. 

ROIDED OUT FOR 50 GAMES:  Pitcher Yusaku Iriki, a player in the Mets' minor leagues, was suspended 50 games for violating MLB's new strict drug policy.  Iriki is 33 years old and just signed to play here after a career in Japan. 

LAKERS, PACERS LOOKING GOOD:  In the 8 first round series, only the Indiana Pacers and Los Angeles Lakers have series lead despite not having the home court advantage. 

PISTONS AND MAVERICKS COULD BE LOOKING REAAAAAAL GOOD:  The Pistons and Mavs could be the only teams to go up 3-0 in the playoffs with wins tomorrow.  The Heat, Spurs and Clippers failed to do that. 

BAD SUSPENSION:  Seems the NBA just isn't putting up with a lot of crap.  James Posey ran over Kirk Hinrich in the Heat's loss to the Bulls on Thursday......which got him a one-game suspension.  I think that's a bit too excessive.  He was thrown out of the game and maybe should be fined.  But no suspension.  This marks the SECOND suspension a Miami Heat player has had in this series [Udonis Haslem was suspended for Game 2 after tossing his mouthpiece at an official]. 

OH, AND SHAQ STUNK UP THE UNITED CENTER:  How is 8 pts [six of which were in garbage time], 4 rbs, 1 ast, 0 blks, 7 turnovers, 5 fouls, and 0-6 FT shooting for ya??  Shaq may be the NBA's version of Barry Bonds.  Good for a nice slap outta the stadium one minute...but can't bring it on Day 3.  And don't give me the tired factor....the Heat had two off days.


Thursday, April 27, 2006

GZA/Genius "Queen's Gambit"

She dated jolly green GIANTS, that, flew on JETS
An A-list actress, who was never walked off sets
She loved stuffed animals, especially BEARS
Was a role model, like a CARDINAL to our peers
A PATRIOTIC tomboy, like Mary Ellen from The Waltons
A former lifeguard, who had the skills of a DOLPHIN
When I met her, she was in drama school and wore BENGALS
Drove a BRONCO, and she was far from star spangled
Had basic skills, and worked part time in mills
Raised buffalo's, cause she was behind them BILLS
Had a man who always roared like LION
A domestic violent cat, tackled the girl and kept her crying
Couldn't care, she was losing her hair, from depression
She was in the air, and there was some room for interceptions
I told her to stay strong, not to be ashamed
You're a "ten-i-see", you just need to TITAN your game
Her ancestors were CHIEFS, who ran with running deer
On the sail with the SEAHAWKS, who battled the BUCCANEERS
The REDSKIN garments, was suede coat liners
Held rare coins, frequently sought from gold miners
They were hard working warriors, we call over timers
Shot plenty arrows at COWBOYS and 49ERS
Her interesting background, but quite unusual
A great force grip, but out of bounds for a musical
She told me to call her, if I came to town
I started TEXAN her, soon as my plane had touchdown
Holding my luggage, in the hand that revealed the bad scars
She pulled up at arrivals, driving the JAGUAR
Her BROWN skin was soft, her legs beautifully shaven
Her house was fly, sitting on the roof, was a RAVEN
As we entered, I heard laughter
She walked into a large living room, I went after her
There was two of her, girlfriends, playing chess like they were VIKINGS
Militant as PANTHERS, they're resemblance was striking
Had on thongs, high heels, and belts that was garter
Energized like phones that just came off the CHARGER
I introduced myself to gain yardage
Cuz anything less then smooth, would of been straight up garbage
The shorter one met me, when I had a sky pager
Thought I rolled with robbers, STEELERS and panty RAIDERS
She took fruit from the orange bowl, it was in season
One of them said she loved the juice and kept squeezing
I knew that I was gonna get, wined and dined
It would of been a penalty, not to pass the scrimmage line
Now I laid back and relaxed, waiting for the kick-off
One removed the lip gloss, like she was bout to lick all
She caressed me, with fingertips soft as velvet
Dying for me to PACKER, as she stroked my helmet
And I was thinking these girls was SAINTS
But it was first and ten, and there was extra walls to paint
Before you know it, I had all three in a huddle
Buckin' like a COLT, before I released them puddles
They spread EAGLES like wide receivers
As I RAM them in the endzone, and they became true believers

Will The Real MVP, Please Stand Up?


The Lakers topped the Suns [with the help of a 19-0 run in the first half].  The guy who supposedly will win the MVP and the guy who should have won the MVP met up twice during Game 2. 

The first time was after Steve Nash and Sasha Vujacic got tangled up....Kobe stepped in with some strong talk for Nash.  The second time was, well, when Nash got a good whiff of Kobe's jock strap. 

And who's the MVP??  The guy leading the 7th seed has four of his teammates averaging double figures....including Luke Walton and his 13.5 ppg.    Kobe is averaging 25.5 pts, 8 rbs, 5 ast.  Well, Nash is doing about the same thing....except switch the rebounding and assists weight [Nash: 24.5 pts, 9.5 ast, 4.5 rbs].  The noticeable difference is Nash is shooting 51% while Kobe's shooting just 42%.  Still, the Lakers have the advantage with a 1-1 split and the next two in Los Angeles.  Interesting series! 

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Musiq Soulchild at The Jordan Classic


It's on my TIVO.  It's now on my DVD collection.

If you missed it, the Jordan Classic happened on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden.  It's like the McDonalds Game....just with more Nike ads and less Greg Oden.

Well, before the game started, Musiq Soulchild sang the National Anthem.  Well, most of it.

After he sang "O'er the ram-perts we watched", he blanked.  He forgot the words.  And then he shrugged with this goofy grin.

The players all started rolling.  The fans started booing.  And in a classic shot, the camera went to Michael Jordan and just saw him with this look on his face.  Like "Oh-oh!"

Remember, Jordan was in the building when Carl Lewis, my favorite singer of all time, bungled the national anthem.  And that happened on the other side of the river in East Rutherford.  Of course, you can listen to that here....National Anthem

April 26 - Favre Will Play in '06....Ricky Won't


BRETT FAVRE WILL BE BACK:  In a kind of surprising move, Brett Favre informed the Packers that he will be back next season.  All signs pointed to him walking into the sunset after a brutal 2005 season.  But, Favre will make one last go around [at least] much to the delight of Packer fans.  I guess the Aaron Rogers era won't begin just yet. 

RICKY WILLIAMS WON'T BE BACK:  Well, not in 2006.  He lost his appeal for a fourth violation of the NFL's drug policy....and must sit out 2006.  He can be re-instated for the 2007 season....but dude will be 30 years old [the age most backs fall off] and have played only 12 of a possible 48 games over the past three seasons. 

KOBE BRYANT TO WEAR #24:  Apparantly you are seeing the last of #8 as a Laker.  Kobe Bryant will be wearing #24 next year for the Lakers.  This was his number in high school....until he changed it to #33 to honor his father.  When he became a Lakers, well, #33 is in the rafters as Big Chief Jabbar's.  So, get ready to shell out some cheese for the new Lakers #24 jerseys. 

STEVE NASH TO BE MVP:  Reports are that Steve Nash will win the MVP award.  Again, I don't agree...but I understand.  But, realize that Nash will have more MVP awards than former winners Shaquille O'Neal, Allen Iverson, Kevin Garnett, David Robinson and Hakeem Olajuwon.  He will have the same amount as Karl Malone, Tim Duncan and Bob Petit.  And just one less than Magic Johnson and Larry Bird.  Is he really in that class??

BONDS HITS #710:  He's only 4 back of the Babe for the most HRs by a lefty.

ESPN SPORTS NUT:  I've added this blog to my list.  It's "ESPN Sports Nut"....a 12-year old kid who's from Michigan.  He loves his Wings, Pistons and Tigers....but prefers the Ravens to the Lions.  What cracked me up the most was his tagline "IF YOU WANT SPORTS, COME SEE THIS".  I love it!  Anyways, check lil' man out at ESPN Nut's Sports Blog

                     Kenyon Martin

KENYON MARTIN SUSPENDED:  Seems that the NBA playoff equate to suspensions.  Ron Artest got one for snapping Manu Ginobili's neck.  Udonis Haslem got one for throwing his mouthpiece at a ref.  Now Kenyon Martin gets one for complaining about his playing time.  The KWAME BROWN WHINING AWARD for 2006 [remember that Kwame got his butt kicked off the team in the playoffs last year] goes to K-Mart.  Funny, both were #1 overall draft picks [back-to-back, actually].

NBA PLAYOFFS:  The Spurs made a late comeback to top the Kings in overtime [128-119], sending the series to Sacto with the Spurs up 2-0......In New Jersey, the Nets pounded the Pacers 90-75.  Vince-anity dumped 33 pts and Kidd added 13 assists and 11 boards.  Oh, and bad news for Indy as Peja sat with a sore knee.  The series heads to Indianapolis tied 1-1....The Wizards also tied up their series with the Cavs 1-1.  The Wiz were very physical with LeBron, which took the star out of his game a bit [he shot 7-of-25 with 10 turnovers].  But Gilbert Arenas showed up with 30 pts, 6 rbs, 6 ast and 4 steals. 

NHL PLAYOFFS:  The Senators beat the Lightning in a penalty laden contest in Tampa, 8-4 [Ottawa now leads 2-1].  With just over 2 minutes left, a brawl broke out and a total of 129 penalty minutes were handed out.....The Flames also won on the road, topping the Ducks 5-2.  Two goals scored less than a minute from each other in the 3rd period decided the game.  Calgary is up 2-1....The Sharks held serve at home, beating the Predators 4-1 to get a 2-1 series lead.  Patrick Marleau scored a pair of goals.....The Oilers got a great overtime goal to take a 2-1 series lead over the Red Wings.  What sucked about that is that I sat and watched the overtimes, then got up to get something to drink, came back down the ol' Sportz Room and saw the Oilers celebrating on the ice.  Crap, eh!!

SO, WHAT'S GOING ON TONIGHT??   MLB-It's getaway day in the majors, as there are 8 day games......NBA-The final Game 2s of the first round.  First, the Bucks-Pistons game at 7pm on NBATV.  At 8pm, the Grizzlies and Mavs battle on TNT.  After that, TNT will have the Lakers-Suns game at 10:30pm.  The home team leads all those series 1-0....NHL-All series are at 2-0 tonight.  The Canadiens host the Hurricanes and hope to go up 3-0 in that series.  The game is on CBC at 7pm....On OLN at 7pm, the Devils cross the river to face the Rangers to try to go up 3-0....Also at 7pm, the Sabres head to the Flyers with a 2-0 lead....and at 9:30pm on OLN, the Stars and Aves face off in Denver with Dallas trying to put a dent into their 2-0 deficit. 

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Get Rid of the NHL Season.....and Just Have the Stanley Cup Playoffs!!!

Though he made just 16 saves, Jose Theodore was a...

NFL MOCK DRAFT:  I am angry.  I really wanted to do a AOL Mock Draft for the NFL similar to what I did with the NBA.  I even had some names up as people I was gonna go after.  But, with my work schedule and personal commitments [read: sleep], I haven't been on here as much as I want.  Sorry.

GOD I LOVE THE STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS.  I've always said this.  The NHL season is completely boring.  With games that end in shootouts [at least they got rid of the ties] and with the PTS system [not just W-L], the season drags.  But their postseason is awesome.  Always has been.  The games are tighter, and one mistake at any point can just end it.  Imagine the NBA playoffs with a sudden death overtime.  Just imagine that.  Games go 2-3-4-5 or 6 overtimes.  Home ice means nothing.  Hot goaltending means everything.  And there is nothing like the drama of a Game 7.  Again, any deflection, bad pass, missed hit, turned head, slip on the ice or anything can send you home.  Again, I remember the Wings-Blues series about a decade ago when they went to multiple overtimes.....had some of the greatest saves you will see....and it ended with Stevie Y just dumping a slapshot in from the blue line that snuck by CuJo [I believe] to win that series. 

Well, everyone has played two games....and there are only two higher seeded teams with a 2-0 lead [the Sabres and Devils].  Oh, but the Canadiens and Avalanche....both #7 seeds....currently hold 2-0 leads over the Hurricanes and Stars, respectively.  Everything else is tied a 1-1.  Now, we all switch sites and see what happens.  Here's hoping to a buch of Game 7s!

WAIT, HE'S A FORMER PANTHER:  Ricky Manning, Jr.....previously a DB for the Carolina Panthers....was arrested for assault during a fight at a Denny's resteraunt near UCLA's campus.  To make this worse, apparantly it was Manning and somefriends [jocks] picking on a guy who was working on a laptop [nerds].  NERRRRRDS!!!!  To make it really worse, this happened just after signing an offer sheet with the Bears.  And here is Manning's great quote: "I can't let something like this let me have abad start to my football career in Chicago."  Nice. 

REGGIE BUSH COULD LOSE HEISMAN.  And he didn't have to [allegedly] murder anyone to do it.  But at least OJ got some cheese out of the deal.  I seriously doubt anything will come of this....but if it did, it would be quite interesting. 

THE NETS GOTTA WIN.  So far, the New Jersey Nets are the only team that's lost a home game.  So, they gotta win Game 2 over Indiana or face never coming back to the swamplands for another game.  So a pretty big game tonight.....the Heat are up 2-0 and are looking pretty good.  Sure, it's the Bulls they are beating, but these Bulls were white hot heading into the playoffs.  And maybe Shaq does know what he is doing all season long?.....Nice of the Kings Ron Artest to guarantee victory, then get knocked out of the game, then get thrown out for Game 2.   Nice.....In LakerLand, they threw everybody for a loop by trying to get everybody else going but Kobe.  Problem was that when Kobe had to step it up late in the game, it took him a while to get his shot going.  This is the first time Phil Jackson has lost Game 1 of the first round of the playoffs.....Keeping it in LA, the Clippers look like one of the best teams in the NBA.  They are tearing apart the Nuggets and could, feasably, be a contender for the Western Conference Finals.  In the funcky Western playoffs, the Clips are the #6 seed but own the home court over the Nuggets because of a better record.  Then, the funky-ness forces the Mavs and Spurs to face off in the 2nd round., which the Clips would play the Suns-Lakers winner.  That could mean a Clippers-Mavs/Spurs WCF.  Wow.

THE REDS ARE DOING OKAY.  This will most likely be a season where the Reds are still "in the hunt" a bit past the All Star break which means the organization willhave a tough decision to make.  Break some guys off for the future?  Or add some more for a stretch run?  The Reds have scored more than anyone in baseball.....and have more walks too.  The key has been the development of the young hitters.  Guyslike Edwin Encarcion and Brandon Phillips [thanks Cleveland] have picked up the slack during Griffey's downtime....and guys like Austin Kerns and Adam Dunn are doing their thing [they both need to cut down on the K's though].  But what will be the key in them staying here is pitching.  Now, the pitching still hasn't been great....they've done a better job of hanging onto leads [something they couldn't do two weeks ago].  Todd Coffey and David Weathers have formed a nice 8th-9th inning combo that's been able to lock down games.  It is the starters who need to show up a bit better.  Dave Williams [they guy we traded Sean Casey for] has an ERA over 10 right now....[Eric Milton and Brandon Claussen are over 6.50].  Get this shored up, and the Reds could stay in this thing. 

Monday, April 24, 2006

Modern NFL Draft Busts

Brian Bosworth has a nice pictorial about the recent list of draft busts. - Photo Gallery - Top Draft Busts of the Modern Era.  With the NFL draft looming this weekend, not only are teams looking for the next big thing....they are trying to stay away from the next big bust.  It's one thing to miss out on a player, but get a decent one yourself.  But it's another to miss out on a Hall Of Famer [Barry Sanders] to pick up Tony Mandarich. 

Here is my comments on just a few of them.

BRIAN BOSWORTH.  Once the Boz got rolled over by Bo Jackson.....the Boz image was done.  Not just that, but it was lovingly recreated in the movie "The Program" as a hyper linebacker who gets off the juice gets run over at the goal line. 

AUNDRAY BRUCE.  Anytime you are the #1 pick in the NFL draft as a linebacker....then at the end of your career [which isn't much later] they are trying to make you a tight are indeed a bust. 

TONY MANDARICH.  SI itself dubbed him the greatest lineman ever.  Oops.  He was a freak of a physical specimen, sure.....but he was also a holdout and really nothing of note past that.  What makes him an even bigger bust?  The next three picks were Barry Sanders, Derrick Thomas and Deion Sanders.  One's in the Hall, one's heading to the Hall, and the other may still end up there. 

ANDRE WARE, JOEY HARRINGTON.  Both Lions QB draft picks....both busts. 

BLAIR THOMAS.  This pretty much began the Jets distaste for the NFL draft. And anyone about Penn State backs [see Carter below....and Curtis Enis].  Only now with Larry Johnson's surge with the Chiefshave the Nittany Lions backs regained some sort of dignity. 

STEVE EMTMAN, QUENTIN CORYATT.  I've been over this before...and, yes, injury issues still make you a bust.  Emtman was bitten by the injury bug and never recovered.  Coryatt just stunk up the joint.  And what made this all the worse was that the Colts owned the top two picks in the 1992 draft and got both of these busts.  Not that the 1992 1st round was all that spectacular.

TREV ALBERTS.  Two years later, the Colts miss again....but this one was more brutal, as this was the pick that drew Mel Kiper Jr's famous ripping of the Colts franchise.  Because of this, Mel now is a legend. 

                        David Klingler

DAVID KLINGER.  The posterchild for the decade of decadence in Cincinnati.  He was the stat king in college but never turned it over to that in Cincy.  And being Boomer Esiason's replacement didn't help matters.  A few years later, the Bengals made the same mistake with AKILI SMITH several years later. 

KIJANA CARTER.  Carter blew out his knee in the preseason game and was an injury prone back the rest of his career.  The Bengals traded up with the expansion Panthers to get that #1 pick.  Ouch. 

RICK MIRER.  Being the QB of the Golden Domer's gets you some press....but how was he and Drew Bledsoe in the same sentence??

HEATH SCHULER.  Well, the Redskins were an organization in Joe Gibbs left and the franchise seemed to be in a bit of disarray.  Still, Schuler was handed everything and dropped it all. 

LAWRENCE PHILLIPS.  Two things.  One, the Rams knew what they were getting with Phillips.  His horrible college antics were coming to the surface.  Two, because of this...teams are extra careful of these guys mental states now more than ever. 

RYAN LEAF.  He is the posterboy for busts.  In any sport.  Not only did he suck on the field, but he was a big baby off it.  His "bust-ness" grows even bigger with the career that Peyton Manning, the guy selected right ahead of him, keeps going.   Then remember that because of the magnitude of Leaf's bust-ness scared the Chargers away from drafting Michael Vick with the #1 pick a few years ago [they dealt it away and got a pretty good guy in Drew Brees].

Sunday, April 23, 2006

My Job Sucks

I'm in the middle of another 20 straight days of working...which has me quite depressed.  Nice to get into the springtime and nice weather by being couped up in a dingy building for 1/3 of your day.   So, I cannot be atuned to this blog as I wish to be.  With the a ton of family commitments that I may or may not get to enjoy with my the bad mood that follows me as I exit my place of the malaise I feel in the post Super Bowl/March Madness seasons....I'm just out of it.

I do have my Home Run Derby I am a part of....and my team is dead last at this moment.  Manny Ramirez finally hit a few out the other day....and Jason Lane along with Pat Burrell have been carrying my team.  But I haven't had the Chris Shelton, Jim Thome or Albert Pujols type start from anyone as my opponents have.  The guy that leads our league has Albert Pujols [11 HRs], Morgan Ensberg [8] and Carlos Lee [8].  Eikes!

The NFL Draft is upcoming....which is cause for a bit of excitement.  Well, as a Skins fan...the draft isn't as exciting.  No first rounder...which is fine.  But the NFL Draft plays like the Presidential Election Day coverage by CNN.  A bunch of chatter filling up space as results take so long to come in.  I mean, c'mon!  The NFL and it's teams have poked, prodded and tested these guys to the upmost limits....and still need a full 15 minutes to figure out who to take.  If every team takes their alloted 15 minutes, the first round of the NFL Draft would take 8 hours. 

Speaking of drafts, I wish every professional league draft would do what the NHL Draft does and have the teams come up and announce their picks.  They bring up the jersey with the dude's name already stitched on the back.  The faces of the franchise stand up there to welcome their newest investment into the league. 

By the way, get rid of the MVP award.  It's dumb...and subjective.  If Billy has a car that has great gas mileage, that's pretty valuable.  But, Janet has an SUV, and that's good for lugging her kids and groceries....and that's pretty valuable.  But Steve's car has a better resale that's pretty valuable.  But Bubba has a truck to haul that's pretty valuable.

All I am saying is that each MVP candidate is valuable to his team in his own way.  So deciding between Kobe's value to the Lakers, Nash's value to the Suns, LeBron's value to the Cavaliers, Billups value to the Pistons and Dirk's value to the Mavericks is just so tough.  Just as it would to consider Paul Pierce's value to the Celtics....or Allen Iverson's value to the Sixers. 

Scrap it.  Do like the NCAA does and just have a "Player of the Year" award.  Sure, the same ol' chaps would be up for that.....and the debate just as heated....but judging who had the better individual season serves better merit than who has the most value to his team. 

I mean, I can make a case that Tracy McGrady is the NBA's MVP this year. 


By the way, it's nice to see the Clippers back in the playoffs.  Think back 13 years ago in the NBA playoffs [the last time the Clips won a playoff game]. 

The Clips games were at the LA Sports Arena.  Charlotte was in their first playoff series, as the Hornets.  The Bulls ended their first 3-peat by defeating the Suns.  There were no NBA teams in New Orleans, Memphis or Toronto.  Washington was still the Bullets.  LeBron James was in elementary school. 

Now think back 30 years....the last time the Clippers won a playoff series.  They were the Buffalo Braves then.  They won a best-of-three series over the Sixers.  There were 18 teams in the NBA....not the 30 there are now.  The Jazz were in New Orleans and the Kings in Kansas City.  LeBron James wasn't born yet.  Neither was Kobe Bryant. 

Oh, and LaVar Arrington.....bring it on!  I love those athletes that feel they were wronged by an organization and sign in the division to try to settle it on the field.  While I certainly wouldn't call Arrington a bust in Washington....he certainly wasn't worth all what he thinks he was worth.  As a Redskin, he was a spot starter and wasn't on the field as much as the highest paid Skin should've been.  The defense was good without him....and now with his huge cap number off the books....our offense can be good too. 

And baseball is getting back in shape.  Atop the standings now?  Red Sox, White Sox, Angels, Mets, Astros and Giants.  And it isn't even the end of April yet....but the Pirates and Royals are nearly mathematically eliminated from the playoffs.  Ah, the MLB standings are right again. 

Friday, April 21, 2006

PROFILE: Alex Stepheson

                With 588 boards in his last year at Harvard-Westlake, Alex Stepheson became the school's single-season rebounding champ.
Chairman of the boards
Harvard-Westlake big man Stepheson rules the paint

By Jon Mahoney, Special to,

Rebounding is an art form practiced by many players but perfected by only a select few. When it comes to snaring boards on the high school level, however, Harvard-Westlake senior Alex Stepheson is a modern-day Picasso.

Stepheson (pronounced steve-a-son), a 6-foot-10, 230-pound power forward/center, has been perfecting his rebounding skills since he was 4, when his father, Arthur, showed him what it took to be a master at cleaning the glass.

At 6-4, Arthur doesn't have the size of your prototypical rebounding stud, but his work ethic and desire more than made up for that. Arthur, who played at Westmont College and overseas and is considered a local playground legend, taught Alex the hard work that's necessary to excel in the paint.

"My dad always stressed rebounding when I was little," says Alex, who's rated the nation's No. 34 hoop recruit in the Class of 2006 by and is headed for the University of North Carolina next year. "He used to take me outside and teach me some box-out drills. He never took it easy on me because I was little. It made me stronger.

"He's always been telling me that you have to be the hardest worker and you have to want it more than anyone. That's what I took the most from him."

Harvard-Westlake head coach Greg Hilliard, who just finished his 21st year at the helm of the Wolverines, knew Stepheson would rule the boards back when the big man was just a freshman. Harvard-Westlake was in the Southern Section playoffs and Hilliard decided to call up Stepheson to the varsity after he'd led the freshman team to a league title.

While some might expect a freshman to just watch and learn during the postseason, Stepheson actually got some good run on a team that won the Southern Section Division IIIA title and advanced to the Division III state finals, where the Wolverines lost to Sacramento Foothill.

"He was very, very skinny," says Hilliard. "But he was a post player who could use his athleticism to get rebounds and block shots. He'd have two or three minutes in short spurts, and that's when we started to realize he'd be special on the glass."

Stepheson built on that solid postseason performance to have strong sophomore and junior campaigns. He averaged 11 points, 12 rebounds and 2.8 blocks per game as a sophomore and improved to 16.9 points, 13 rebounds and 3.2 blocks during his junior season. He led the Wolverines to Southern Section titles both years.

But neither of those two seasons compare to the incredible jump Stepheson made this year, when he put up the type of numbers normally reserved for NBA Live 06 if the settings were on easy and you were using Amare Stoudemire.

Take, for example, the 31 points, 27 rebounds and four blocks he posted in a win over Chaminade or the 29 points and 31 boards he dropped in a victory over Sherman Oaks Notre Dame. He finished the year averaging 20.4 points, 17.8 rebounds and 4.6 blocks per game, and his 588 total boards passed former Wolverines star and current New Jersey Nets center Jason Collins to make Stepheson the school's single-season rebounding leader.

And while Stepheson is normally considered a lunch-pail type of worker in the post, his athleticism was on full display against Notre Dame when he flushed an Amare-like dunk.

"While he was in the air, he caught a rebound that was behind his head, reached back and windmill dunked it," recalls Hilliard, who guided Harvard-Westlake to this year's Southern California Division III finals, where the Wolverines lost to Artesia. "The Notre Dame bench was even up and it was still a fairly close game. I don't think anyone will ever forget that dunk."

The dramatic increase in Stepheson's stats can be partially attributed to the fact that he asserted himself more offensively this season. He used his physical style of play to attack the basket and get to the charity stripe, and he also showed off some nice post moves and a solid mid-range jumper. On defense, he swatted shots with such regularity that it seemed like he was insulted when opponents tried to invade his territory.

And his rebounding numbers, which were already impressive, improved to mind-blowing digits thanks to what Hilliard says was an increased desire to go after everything that came off the rim. Before this year, Stepheson was simply considered a hard worker on the boards. This season, he was just plain scary.

"Rebounding is very much a mindset, and he's got it," says Hilliard. "It's been a very natural thing for him. He goes and gets ones that really aren't available to most humans. He makes rebounding a highlight film."

Stepheson also says his improved play this season is the result of numerous hours spent in the weight room. During the offseason, he worked out four days a week in the gym and constantly pushed himself, no matter how tired he got.

"After last summer, I just felt a lot stronger," says Stepheson. "I definitely realized the effects in my game and my confidence."

"He has his own little station that he goes to every single workout," adds Hilliard. "They call him 'The Beast' in there, and he is."

Following his graduation from Harvard-Westlake this spring, Stepheson will take his game to North Carolina, which he chose over UConn. At UNC, he'll be a long way from his dad, his mom, Diane, and his sisters, Naima and Erin. But the chance to learn under legendary coach Roy Williams, who led the Tar Heels to a national title in 2005, was an incredible opportunity he couldn't turn down.

"In my heart, I just wanted to go to UNC," says Stepheson. "Coach Williams is just a great coach and the academic program was just too good to pass up."

Hilliard believes the sky is the limit for Stepheson and that playing at UNC will only help his potential come to fruition.

"I think Alex is the kind of player that might even do better in the pros than he does at this level," says Hilliard. "He looks like a guy that they would covet because he'll go and get rebounds and defend. Put that with good guards, and that's a luxury. With hiswork ethic and the fact he's going to be tutored by Roy Williams and playing against top competition, he has a chance to reach that level."

And if that happens, Stepheson can thank some of those early battles with his dad for helping make him the inside force he is today.

NBA's New Rules For 2006-2007

The NBA will adopt some new rules for next year.  With the playoff seeding fiasco, be sure that this won't be the only changes.  But here are the six, mostly minor changes. 

-Head coaches will be able to call timeouts.  No biggie, but important.  Instead of the image of a coach jumping up and down trying to get someone's attention to call a timeout...a coach can just grab an official and do it themselves.  The old rule allowed for a coach to call a timeout if play has stopped due to a player bleeding.

-"Clear Path" foul nets two free throws and possession.  It used to be just one shot and possession. 

-Coach picks his own free thrower after a Flagarant 1.  In the past, the opposing coach picked a shooter.  Now, the coach of the injured player makes the call. 

-Free substitutions for all 20 second timeouts.  In the past, you could only substitute freely after a 20 second timeout if the game was in the last 2 minutes or in overtime. 

-Inactive players.  If a player not appearing on the active list enters a game, he will be disqualified at the first deal ball and his team will receive a technical foul.  Again, something you will probably never see. 

-Free throw ettiquette.  Players on the free throw line can't extend their arms in front of an opponent until the shooter has released the ball. Also, a player not in a lane space must stand behind the 3-point line and above the free throw line extended until the ball is shot.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

The New Madden Guy Coming Tonight!

Tonight, on ESPN, EA Sports will announce who will adorn the cover of Madden '07.

My money is on the Super Bowl winning QB Ben Roethlisberger....though it could be MVP Shaun Alexander or Super Bowl MVP Hines Ward.  Apparantly, Bill Cowher is the "face" of the coaching aspect of the to me it makes sense that his QB would be there too. 

Of course, being on the cover isn't a great thing.  Eddie George was there in 2000...and was injured.  Daunte Culpepper didn't get hurt, but had a horrificly poor season in 2001.  Marshall Faulk in 2002...same thing [ankle].  Michael Vick broke his leg the day after the 2003 game hit shelves.  Ray Lewis had a okay season in 2004.  But Donovan McNabb, well you know, in 2005.

NBA Western Conference Playoff Preview



SEASON SERIES:  Spurs 2-1.  But the Kings did win nearly three weeks ago. 

STORYLINES:  Shareef Abdur-Rahim makes his first postseason appearance in his 10-year career.  Ron Artest has called his shot.  Artest boldy stated that they were gonna win the NBA title [but, c'mon....that's Ron-Ron].  When your first matchup is the top seeded defending is quite a call.  However, with Artest in Sacto, the Kings have an element of defense and toughness that they've not had in previous seasons.  The point guard battle should be great, with quick gunners Mike Bibby and Tony Parker going head-to-head. 

KEY FACTOR:  Tim Duncan.  Duncan has played all year rather gimpy.  The Spurs hope that he'll be right for this postseason run.  But he hasn't been too dominant this year....and they've needed that in their championship runs.  If he struggles, the Kings chances jump up considerably.

PREDICTION:  Spurs in 5.  The Kings have a chance, but these are the Spurs. 


SEASON SERIES:  Suns 3-1.  The lone Lakers win was on Sunday when MVP candidate Steve Nash sat out. 

STORYLINES:  They're baaack.  The Lakers missed the playoffs for only the 5th time last year....yet are back again for another run.  Two of the frontrunners for the NBA's MVP award will face off in this series, Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash.  Kobe's dominance will be on display....while Nash's dominance will be more fluent. 

KEY FACTOR:  Kwame Brown.  For the Lakers to have any shot at winning this series, somebody other than Kobe is going to have to come up big.  While Lamar Odom really needs to be that guy, if Brown shows upthis series, it would be a huge deal.  The Suns aren't a big team up Brown can operate.  He's done well moving around the basket and cleaning up messes lately.  If he keeps that up, the Lakers will be a problem for Phoenix. 

PREDICTION:  Suns in 7.  I really don't think it will go the distance, but I also think that Kobe won't let the Lakers lose at home in a Game 6.  Remember that the Suns beat the Lakers handily all three times that Nash played.  They just do everything just a little bit better.  And as the regular season showed, they'll allow Kobe to go off as long as everyone else is in check. 

DENVER NUGGETS v LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS                                   

SEASON SERIES:  Clippers 3-1.  The Clips have won the last three. 

STORYLINES:  This is the first series in the new NBA that a division winner will NOT get home court advantage in the first round.  In a weird twist, the Nuggets...despite being the #3 seed....will not have the homecourt against anyone in the Western Conference.  Unreal.  Also, this is a matchup of two of the lowliest franchises just 5 years ago or so.  This is the first playoff appearance for the Clippers since 1997.  The Staples Center should benefit from being booked with Clippers and Lakers games for a while.  The Nuggets haven't won a playoff series in 12 years....and the Clippers haven't won one in nearly 30. 

KEY FACTOR:  K-Mart.  Can he be efficient against Elton Brand who has had an MVP-type season?  If Brand can dominate, the Nuggs are in trouble. 

PREDICTION:  Nuggets in 6.  Two factors.  Denver has been here before....and they have Carmelo Anthony.  While the Clips can boast Sam-I-Am, they are chocked full of guys that have never experienced this. 

DALLAS MAVERICKS v MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES                            

SEASON SERIES:  Mavericks 3-1.  Mavs won the last three. 

STORYLINES:  This is the Grizzlies' third straight postseason appearance, but they've never won a game yet.  Dallas probably had it's best season in the Mark Cuban Era, but they've had a history of not being a playoff force. 

KEY FACTOR:  Rebounding.  The Grizzlies are deep with role guys and will pound the paint and pound the boards all night.  If they can dominate the glass, they have a shot in this thing. 

PREDICTION:  Mavericks in 7.  Don't sleep on the Grizz!  They have The Czar as their coach [against a relative newbie in Avery Johnson] and the best inside presence in this series [Pau Gasol].  They can throw a myriad of guys at Dirk, but will any of them really mess up his game?  That's where guys like Jerry Stackhouse and Jason Terry come in.  I think Dallas will win Game 7 at home. 

NBA Eastern Conference Playoff Preview


SEASON SERIES:  Pistons 3-1.  The Bucks lone win was this past Monday when the Pistons essentially rested their starters. 

STORYLINES:  The Pistons dominant regular season means nothing now.  How will they respond?  Will they return to being the aggressive, killing machine or have they lost a bit of that?  In Milwaukee, how will their "young Bucks" handle this big stage. 

KEY FACTOR:  Bucks defense.  They have one of the worst defenses in the league.  If they cannot put in an outstanding defensive effort in this series, then they have no shot at all to win a game in this series. 

PREDICTION:  Detroit in 4.  The Pistons are the superior team here...and are disciplined defensively to keep any Bucks hopes from gaining momentum. 


SEASON SERIES:  Heat 2-1.  The Bulls lone win was on Sunday with a huge comeback. 

STORYLINES:  After an offseason of spending and bringing in a lot of questionable veterans, this is the time the Heat must shine.  Will the Baby Bulls be able to step up after last year's first round exit? 

KEY FACTOR:  Shaq.  While in LA, Shaq's main focus was to be physically right for the postseason.  However, he's still had a history [in recent years] to be a bit gimpy in the playoffs.  The Bulls will try to involve him in more pick and rolls and other setups where he won't be in his defensive comfort zone.  If Shaq can be semi-dominant, the Bulls will have a tough time matching up with him. 

PREDICTION:  Heat in 5.  I like the Bulls and I think the games will be close and exciting.  I just like Wade's ability to take over late [like Chicago's Ben Gordon] and the Bulls tough matchups for Shaq. 


SEASON SERIES:  Pacers 2-1.  And Indy has won at Jersey. 

STORYLINES:   Who are the Pacers?  The team that has the talent to go deep in the playoffs.....or the team that just kills itself?  Can the Nets get by with their very small bench?

KEY FACTOR:  The Nets frontcourt.  Can Jason Collins and Nenad Krstic hold down Jermaine O'Neal and the other Indy big men?  Signs point to no. 

PREDICTION:  Nets in 7.  The Pacers could buzzsaw thru Jersey....but they've struggled of late and aren't as coheisive as the Nets are.  But this does have a shot at being, what my friend calls, a "frog strangler".


SEASON SERIES:   Wizards 3-1.  And all three of those wins have come in the last 2 months. 

STORYLINES:  Make no bones about it....this is LeBron James' true coming out party.  All superstars make their legends in the postseason, and this is LBJ's first shot.  But, the Wiz were in this exact position last year.  The 5th seed facing a young, new Central division foe....and they pulled that one out.  Of course, Cavs guard Larry Hughes was on the Wiz side last year.  Also, the Wiz had their way with the Cavs, winning 3 of 4. 

KEY FACTOR:  Drew Gooden.  For the Wiz, Antawn Jamison should be a big part of their success.  Gooden must hold that do a little on his own. 

PREDICTION:  Cavaliers in 7.  This has that distance feel to it.  Two gunslingers, a couple of dirty workers underneath, and some tempers ready to flare.  Should be fun. 

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

NBA's Final Day

The NBA season ends tonight...and while the playoff teams have been decided for a few days, the actual matchups still need to be determined. 


NEW ORLEANS HORNETS AT LOS ANGELES LAKERS.  A Lakers win, and they are the #7 seed and face the Phoenix Suns.  The Sacramento Kings would be the #8 seed and face the San Antonio Spurs.  A Laker loss, and they'd play the Spurs and the Kings face the Suns.

Now, in the Eastern Conference, it gets a bit dicey [Milwaukee lost, so they are 40-42 and currently in the 8th spot].

WASHINGTON WIZARDS AT DETROIT PISTONS.  The Pistons figure to rest their this is a game the Wiz can win.  A Wiz win [or a Bulls loss] and they are the #5 seed.  If they lose and Chicago wins.....then they drop to the #6 seed. 

ORLANDO MAGIC AT INDIANA PACERS.  The Magic are one of the NBA's hottest teams right now...and the Pacers aren't exactly warm right now.  The Pacers can be as high as the #6 seed or as low as the #8 seed. 

TORONTO RAPTORS AT CHICAGO BULLS.  The Bulls are playing as well as anyone in this bunch.  The Bulls have the biggest opportunity.  They could be as high as the #5 seed....or as low as the #8 seed. 

Got the games??  Now here is what is at stake.

If Washington, Indiana and Chicago all win:
• 5. Washington (42-40)
• 6. Indiana (41-41, 6-10 in div.)
• 7. Chicago (41-41, 4-12 in div.
• 8. Milwaukee (40-42)

If Washington and Indiana win; Chicago loses:
• 5. Washington (42-40)
• 6. Indiana (41-41)
• 7. Milwaukee (40-42, 6-10 in div.)
• 8. Chicago (40-42, 4-12 in div.)

If Washington and Chicago win, Indiana loses:
• 5. Washington (42-40)
• 6. Chicago (41-41)
• 7. Milwaukee (40-42, 29-23 in conf.)
• 8. Indiana (40-42, 23-29 in conf.)

If Washington wins, Indiana and Chicago lose:
• 5. Washington (42-40)
• 6. Milwaukee (40-42, 4-4 head-to-head, 6-10 in div., 29-23 in conf.)
• 7. Indiana (40-42, 4-4 head-to-head, 6-10 in div., 23-29 in conf.)
• 8. Chicago (40-42, 4-4 head-to-head, 4-12 in div.)

If Washington, Indiana and Chicago all lose:
• 5. Washington (41-41)
• 6. Milwaukee (40-42, 4-4 head-to-head, 6-10 in div., 29-23 in conf.)
• 7. Indiana (40-42, 4-4 head-to-head, 6-10 in div., 23-29 in conf.)
• 8. Chicago (40-42, 4-4 head-to-head, 4-12 in div.)

If Indiana wins, Washington and Chicago lose:
• 5. Washington (41-41, 29-23 in conf.)
• 6. Indiana (41-41, 23-29 in conf.)
• 7. Milwaukee (40-42, 6-10 in div.)
• 8. Chicago (40-42, 4-12 in div.)

If Chicago wins, Washington and Indiana lose:
• 5. Chicago (41-41, 3-1 head-to-head)
• 6. Washington (41-41, 1-3 head-to-head)
• 7. Milwaukee (40-42, 29-23 in conf.)
• 8. Indiana (40-42, 23-29 in conf.)

If Indiana and Chicago win, Washington loses:
• 5. Chicago (41-41, 5-3 head-to-head)
• 6. Washington (41-41, 29-23 in conf.)
• 7. Indiana (41-41, 23-29 in conf.)
• 8. Milwaukee (40-42)

Who Is The NBA's MVP???

For the first time in quite a while....there are a multitude of MVP candidates and most have a realistic shot at winning the thing.  While there are about 10 candidates [Elton Brand, Pau Gasol, Carmelo Anthony, Tony Parker are others] there is only six guys who look to have a shot at bringing home the hardware. 



YES.....He is having a better season than his MVP season of last year.  Only Larry Bird has improved his scoring higher the season after winning the MVP than Nash.  In the definition of "valuable", Nash is considered to be the best player at making his eammates better. 

NO.....Some voters may not be willing to put Nash up on quite a high pedastal.  He'd join Russell, Chamberlain, Kareem, Moses Malone, Bird, Magic, Jordan and Duncan as the only back-to-back winners and some people don't see Nash in that light.   And with excuses to give the award to Bryant or may be a struggle. 



YES....Since voting was taken over by the media back in 1980-81, only twice has an MVP been on a team that won less than 56 games [Moses Malone in '82 and Michael Jordan in '88].  Only three teams finished with that total and there is only one other MVP candidate. 

NO....Nowitzki would be the first pure foreign player to win the award.  Sure, Steve Nash, Tim Duncan and Hakeem Olajuwon won the award previously.  But all three of those guys also played college ball in the United States. 



YES......After missing the playoff in his first two seasons, James has his Cavs in the playoffs and with, possibly, the 3rd best record in the East. 

NO......He'd be the youngest MVP in the history of the NBA.  Also, to make the argument about how James has gotten this far with inferior teammates doesn't fly as well when Kobe Bryant supporters can say the same thing....and in a much tougher conference. 



YES....He's the leading scorer and has had one of the most unbelievable seasons in quite some time.  He dumped 62 in three quarters againt Dallas [outscoring them] and then knocked in 81 points....the 2nd best game in NBA history.  He will have the highest scoring average in nearly two decades and will have the 9th best scoring average season in NBA history.  Also, he most likely wins the "take him off his team" argument. 

NO.....His team will win just 44 or 45 games, easily the worst of any of these candidates and the worst record since Kareem Abdul Jabbar won the award for a playoff-less Lakers squad.  Also, the scoring feats don't matter.  Of the 8 better scoring seasons....only Wilt Chamberlain in 1960 won the MVP award.  Also, he's not quite beloved by the media, which votes for this thing. 



YES.....There is the "best player on the best team" argument.  He's also one of the NBA's clutch players.  Maybe not hitting game winners....but making smart decisions late and able to knock down free throws to ice games.

NO.....Well, he's one of four All Stars on the Pistons, so it isn't like his team isn't pretty good. 



YES.....Superstats site says that the Heat are +8 per game with Wade on the floor, and -8 when he isn't.  Valuable? 

NO.....Well, his team has been a mild disappointment.  And while Wade has definitely made a splash, he hasn't made as big a splash as Kobe and LeBron have made this year.  And the Shaq Factor will hurt him, as many will feel he has it a tad easier with Shaq inside. 


I pick Bryant.  Again, I think that if you took all these guys off their teams and inserted Joe Q AveragePlayer in their slot....the Lakers would suffer the worst.  To me, it is unreal that this team is in the playoffs and having a shot at winning a series. 

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

RBI BASEBALL Re-enactment of Game 6 of 1986 World Series


This is one of the most amazing things I've seen.

Any kid from the late 1980s had a Nintendo and had RBI Baseball [except those "Bases Loaded" freaks].  I remember the cheesy music....the players who all looked like each other [except for the skin color].  The great newspaper headlines after the game.  The fact that the Twins wore blue.  And my Reds weren't in the game. 

Well, some dude who should get an Oscar for this recreated Game 6 of the 1986 World Series [the Bill Buckner game]. 

It is a tad over 3 minutes....but amazing since [apparantly] it used NO CUTS AND PASTES it is quite a work of art. 

San Diego Serenade: 1986 World Series Game 6 Re-Enacted in RBI Baseball

Two Duke LaCrosse Players Arrested


From: | Two arrests made in Duke lacrosse case

More than a month after a woman told police she was raped at Duke University lacrosse party, two players, Reade Seligmann and Collin Finnerty, were charged with first degree forcible rape, first degree sexual offense and kidnapping in connection with a reported rape at a Duke lacrosse party, according to George Naylor, director of the Durham County Jail.

Bond was set for each player at $400,000, Naylor said.

District attorney Mike Nifong did not speak publicly about the arrests, but he issued a written statement.

"It had been my hope to be able to charge all three of the assailants at the same time, but the evidence available to me at this moment does not permit that. The investigation into the identity of the third assailant will continue in the hope that he can also be identified with certainty. It is important that we bring the assailant to justice but also that we lift the cloud of suspicion from those team members who were not involved in the assault," the statement said.

Seligmann, a sophomore from Essex Fells, N.J., and Finnerty, a sophomore from Garden City, N.Y., emerged from a sheriff's deputy vehicle and were led, handcuffed, into the magistrate's office at 4:54 a.m. today.

Later this morning, Finnerty and his lawyer, Bill Cotter, appeared in a Durham Superior Courtroom for a routine first appearance. Finnerty signed a form waiving court-appointed counsel, and his lawyer told Superior Court Judge Ronald Stephens that his client understood the charges. Seligmann's attorney, Kirk Osborn, appeared for his client. The judge set court days for both men on May 15.

Earlier, Cotter said he was surprised by the indictments but downplayed their significance.

"The (grand) jury only heard one side of the story. They almost always indite. The next jury will hear the entire story, which will include our evidence. We're confident that these young men will be found innocent."

Kirk Osborn, Seligmann's attorney, said, "We're looking forward to showing that he is absolutely innocent as soon as we can." Julian Mack, who represented Seligmann before today's arrest, said the charges are unfounded. "I'm devastated that he's been charged," he said. "It's a terrible, terrible mistake."

Seligmann and Finnerty's arrests stem from a party that began March 13. The accuser, who is a mother of two, an N.C. Central University student and an escort service dancer, told police March 14 that she was sexually assaulted by three men in a bathroom at an off-campus house shared by three lacrosse team captains. The accuser is black; she said her rapists were white.

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Just after 7 a.m., Seligmann and another man left the jail and ran to a Ford Explorer with New Jersey license plates. They pulled onto Pettigrew Street and went to the traffic light at Pettigrew and Mangum streets. They stopped at a red light, waited for traffic to clear, and then turned left, running the red light.

Defense lawyers said players maintain that there was no sex at all. They said the accuser concocted the story, that she was drunk and injured late March 13 when she arrived at the three-bedroom house at 610 N. Buchanan Blvd.

"Two young men have been charged with crimes they did not commit. This is a tragedy," Bob Ekstrand, who represents team players, said Monday in a prepared statement. "For the two young men, an ordeal lies ahead. They do not face it alone; they face it with the love of family and friends and strengthened by the truth. They are both innocent."

Superior Court Judge Ronald Stephens sealed a manila envelope containing the indictments shortly after the grand jury finished its business Monday. The judge cited a state law that requires everyone involved in a case, including witnesses, to keep the indictment secret until a suspect is arrested.

Last month, a judge ordered DNA tests on the team's 46 white players; he excluded the only black team member. The players' attorneys say the tests showed none of the players' genetic material on or in the woman.

Nifong, bolstered by a medical exam that found injuries on the woman consistent with sexual assault, says he is confident that she was assaulted in the university-owned house. Nifong said last week at a forum at NCCU that the accuser identified at least one of her attackers.

Until Sunday night, the only other witness, the second woman hired to dance at the party, had remained silent. In television interviews, she told her story.

The woman's attorney, Mark Simeon of Durham, declined Monday to make her available for an interview. She spoke on the MSNBC cable news network, which did not identify her and showed her in silhouette. Simeon confirmed that it was his client on MSNBC.

The woman told MSNBC that she did not witness a rape and does not know whether one occurred.

The woman said she arrived thinking that she would be dancing at a bachelor party of 15 people. She was not expecting a party of lacrosse players, many of whom she said were in a drunken stupor. The woman said she was infuriated to learn that some players photographed her dancing.

The accuser did not appear to be on drugs or to have been drinking when she arrived, the second dancer said. She was "absolutely fine and in control of herself."

When the accuser left, less than an hour after she arrived, she was incoherent and stumbling, the second dancer said.

"She couldn't really walk on her own," the woman said. "She really couldn't get her thoughts together enough to answer any questions. ... She was a different person than I met at the beginning."

The second woman said she was the person who called 911 as the party was breaking up, to complain that some lacrosse players had used racial slurs. "The boys hollered the 'N' word," she said. "I was upset and called 911."

She said she pretended to be a passer-by because she didn't want people in her life to know about her job as an escort service dancer.

It is unclear how that woman's story would affect the case. Players' attorneys have said she would only help them. By day's end Monday, Nifong left without talking to reporters; it remains unclear what evidence he has.

Throughout Monday, there were many more reporters on the sixth floor of the courthouse than the 18 members of the grand jury panel. Reporters tracked the district attorney's movements in minute detail. Just after noon, Nifong emerged from his office and walked across the hallway to the bathroom.

Reporters surrounded the bathroom door in a crowd that included five television cameras, three still photographers, sound men with boom microphones and at least a dozen print reporters. At the sound of flushing, the group tensed, raised cameras and prepared. Nifong did not emerge with news.

"I no longer get to go anywhere in my community without people knowing who I am," said Nifong, who faces two challengers in a primary election May 2.


What We've Learned From the NBA This Year ran this column.... NBA 101: What this season has taught highlight some of the oddities of the past season.  Here are some of the one's I found interesting.


REAL PRESSURE.  One of the most interesting stories of the year was an ESPN The Mag article on Utah's AK-47.  His wife allows him one night of relations outside of their marriage each year.  He's never used it yet....but the fact that the ticket is there is wild. 

STAY WHERE YOU ARE.  The Warriors' Mike Montgomery has flopped as an NBA coach....continuing a trend of college coaches not being able to make the leap to the league.  Of course, these coaches earn magnificant they get contacts that help them considerably when they return to college.  Just ask Rick Pitino and John Calapari.  Neither did much in the NBA....but both are back in college recruting the best players in high school who know that these coaches know what it takes to get into the NBA. 

THE NBA, IT'S BAN-TASTIC.  One of the biggest stories heading into the season was the dress code.  It's all but been a non-story since.  Now, onto the guys wearing tights ON the court....


TAKING THE BULLET.  Two NBA rookies were shot this year. Julius Hodge in the legs and Aundray Blache in the chest. 

CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR.  One of the relentless stories of the year was Larry Brown's return to New York.  Well, it hasn't worked too well.  (A) The Knicks have one of the worst records in the league (B) despite the NBA's highest payroll.  Oh, and (C) Brown's old team, the Pistons, claimed the NBA's best record.  To top it off, (D) Brown has gotten into it publically with Stephon Marbury and then (E) ended the season in the hospital.  Not to mention that (F) the other guy in the running, Phil Jackson, has his Lakers back into the postseason. 

BOGUT NOT BOGUS.  One of the great oddities of the year is the lack of press for Andrew Bogut....the #1 pick in last summer's draft.  Odd, since past #1 picks have been under such a microscope.  Odd, since he is the highest profile rookie on a playoff team.  He's not having a breakout star-struck season like Chris Paul....and he may never be that kind of guy.  But dude is consistent and solid....and by playing in Milwaukee, he doesn't have to deal with the pressures as other picks may get. 


EVEN EXPANSION TEAMS HAVE STUDS.  The article touches on Gerald Wallace, the former Kings swingman who know plays for the Bobcats.  Wallace is averaging more than 2 blocks and 2 steals this year.  Only David Robinson and Hakeem Olajuwon have done that.  Wallace has become one of the key building blocks for Charlotte.  With Emeka Okafor, Sean May and Raymond Felton as draft picks.....with another high one on the way this year.....Wallace could get this team closer to a possible playoff march down the road. 

SUPERSTARS CAN'T DO IT BY THEMSELVES.  Again, Kevin Garnett will miss the playoffs.  So will Allen Iverson.  And Paul Pierce.  And Ray Allen.  And Yao Ming.  And Tracy McGrady.  In a league dominated by stars...this is quite amazing. 

REEF AT LAST.  For the first time in his 10 year NBA career....Shareef Abdur-Rahim will be in the playoffs.  Rahim is one of the good guys and players in the NBA and it is nice to see him finally see the postseason.

BLOWOUT.  We all knew that the Portland Trail Blazers were gonna take some lumps this year.  They are young everywhere [they've spent their last 3 drafts by nabbing high schoolers] and their veterans are basketcases.  So, it's no wonder that this team has lost games by 24, 24, 29, 29, 31, 32, 32, 33, 39, 39 and 45 points.  But Sebastian Telfair did have that cool movie come out!


THE SUNS NEVER SET.  Amazing that the Suns are the #2 seed in the West despite losing Q Richardson, Joe Johnson and Amare Stoudamire before the season started....and getting career years out of Boris Diaw, Kurt Thomas, James Jones and Eddie House.  Of course, I did pick them to finish #2.

THE PRICE AIN'T RIGHT.  I was thinking about this earlier today.  Latrell Sprewell didn't take any contract this offseason....or any other during the season.  The thinking was that Spree would latch on with a team on the verge to make a title run.  That never happened.  Most couldn't offer him more than the $5M mid-level exception....and he wanted more.  He got nothing and will be one year removed from the game this coming offseason. 

DRUGS MAKE YOU STUPID.  For those who don't know....but the NBA has been one of the best leagues at stomping drugs from the league.  Well, all drugs but the hippie lettuce.  But after the cocaine era of the 1970s and early 80s....the NBA has done a great job a cracking down on it's players.  This year, Chris Andersen....and Hornets forward....was busted for drugs and has been kicked out of the league for two years.  Tough love, yes.....but a welcome deterrent.  If MLB puts something like this in place....maybe their problems would go away much easier.

STILL VINSANE AFTER ALL THESE YEARS.  Vince-anity is back....and Carter is back to his scoring and highlight performances.  I just wish it was a bigger story in the New York area instead of how bad the Knicks suck.


DO WE GET A VOTE.  One of the most touchy subjects is the Hornets.  They were moved from New Orleans after the Hurricane Katrina buzzsawed their city.  Oklahoma City embraced them, filled the arena, energized the team.....and now they want to keep them.  But how can the NBA just tell N'Awlins that their Hornets can't come back?  And how can they tell Oklahoma City that they were just a hotel for an NBA franchise when it is obvious that it is fertile ground for a franchise like this?  This will be a tough one. 

GET INTO MY CAR.  Carmelo Anthony is getting back to his elite status.  He wasn't an All Star....but may get a few MVP votes.  He's the King Of the Game Winners....and is the reason that the Nuggs are a playoff team. 

EVERY DOG HAS IT'S DAY.  The Clippers are in the playoffs.  Despite this being a forgone conclusion for months will still be weird to see them there next week.  And they may have homecourt advantage.