Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Wednesday, June 6, 2007
I took the viewpoint that the MVP was essentially a popularity contest, voted on by cranky sportswriters, without using any real data or statistics. I tend to be unimpressed, though admittedly I employ them when measuring a player, with most awards for this very reason. Bob Dylan has many a Grammy, but I would never defend the quality, or impact, of his music by listing his Grammy awards. Its quality is completely subjective, and the awards he receives can only be a portion of his total impact.
Different than other art forms, sports offer us results and statistics to support our positions. Which is why Ron Santo not being in the Hall of Fame is so galling, though statisticians all agree his credentials are HOF worthy. I assumed if you held various MVP winners stats up against other players, like Jordan vs. Malone in '96-'97, you would find that the player having the best season did not always win the MVP. That like in Santo's case, they let personal biases cloud their voting.
I emailed Mike McGraw at the Daily Herald, who voted this year and was cool enough to respond the same day, to ask if there was a list of voters anywhere. He didn't know of any list and explained that each team chooses three people to vote and these three people can change every year. A certain number of national media get a vote, and that's it. This seemed to support my theory the voting was treated casually at best.
Michael 'wiLQ' Wilczynski over at 82games.com has done an exhaustive study of the the MVP award going back to '84-'85. Using his own formula, that I barely understand and could never describe to you, he found that the voters had awarded the proper player every year.
This is amazing to me. That the voters, who are again, just sports writers I find fault with everyday, could be correct some 22 times in a row. I think I'm interpreting the data correctly.
Someone please check me on this.
I guess the NBA MVP is one of, if not the most, consistently correct and reliable award given out.
You learn something new everyday.
Monday, June 4, 2007
Monday, May 21, 2007
Today's subject: The Coach, Scott Skiles.
Skiles received a lot of criticism this past season. Some appropriate, some not so much. In many people eyes, the Bulls underachieved. After two straight play-off appearances, and the signing of Ben Wallace, expectations were very high. Conference games high. Finals appearance high.
We know they didn't get there, but what did they accomplish?
The head coach is responsible for a lot that is difficult to quantify. Let's look at a couple that I think we can.
Team regular season record, and play-off record.
Forty-nine wins in the regular season, good for third place in the division, (giving second place/second seed away on the final game) and fifth seed in the play-offs. A first round sweep of the Champs, and an inconsistent six game, second round, elimination.
That's an eight game improvement over last season, and a play-off series win that hadn't occurred since '98.
Losing the second seed against NJ was tough, and goes hard against Skiles. The Bulls play in the Detroit series was hot and cold to say the least. But you have to value the improvement.
Skiles has had the task of developing a very young team. I broke down their age earlier, but we all know, they young. Of their top eight players, six are in their fourth year or less in the league. Glancing at their stats, everyone, save Duhon, improved their numbers.
To go back to their play-off performance, they sweep the Heat. They showed the ability to exploit a teams weaknesses and bury them.
I gotta give this area to Skiles as well, each player has improved in the three years under him.
The knocks I heard about Skiles were twofold. First, he was to rigid. An example of this is the headband issue. Headbandgate was just silly, on both sides. But the team had a rule, and Skiles enforced it. A rules a rule. What would you rather have? A head coach with authority, or one who bends rules for a specific player? A player that has had problems showing up on time, and problems playing hard every game. If he's your coach, you must trust him. If you trust him, you want him in control. That's why you put him in charge. I side with Skiles here.
The second is in-game player management. A stubborn habit of sticking with veterans over rookies. Virtually every coach in the league is guilty of this. Until a G.M. forces them to play rookies through roster manipulation, they will always go with the guy, they know, will be in the right spot. They trust their knowledge of the game plan, and their ability to execute.
I have trouble holding this against Skiles because most of his players are young, even the vets. As the players age and develop, I think a player like Tyrus Thomas will separate himself from Nocioni. Thabo Sefelosha will overtake Duhon coming off the bench, and maybe even Gordon in the starting lineup. When the individuals reach their peak and achieve consistency we wont be hoping Thomas will play better, we, and Skiles, will know it.
If you fire him, who you gonna get?
Skiles has been compared to Doug Collins in Chicago. This is short-hand for, not being able to take a team to the next level. Collins took the Bulls to the Eastern Conference Finals, got fired and replaced by Phil Jackson, and the rest is history. But this doesn't happen to often.
If winning a championship is the goal, lets look at the last ten Finals winning coaches. It's a short list.
Phil Jackson has five wins.
Gregg Popovich has three wins, and likely another this year.
Pat Reilly has one, to add to his previous four.
Larry Brown has one.
So that's ten trophies going to four coaches, and only two of those ten going to a first time championship coach. When you talk about replacing a coach, you want to get someone who can win the big one. Unless you get one of those four, I'm going to say you are just moving pieces around.
I think you need to be patient with Skiles, as long as we continue to improve, he's a coach I'm happy to have.
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
When they got to that one, a John Morrell exec say, "Stop. This one. It's perfect. Perfect for Carson. Perfect for John Morrell."
Palmer turns to one of his suits, "You guys think so? You like this one?"
Suit responds, "I like the way they think. It's perfect."
"Are you sure, cause it kinda looks, to me, like I'm about to devour a hot dog, that looks like a huge cock dressed up with mustard, to look like the stitching on a football. And I'm not looking at the cock, I mean, hot dog. I'm looking at the audience. As if I'm doing what I'm doing BECAUSE they are watching. Like I LIKE to be watched. I'm kinda uncomfortable looking at it myself."
Suit soothes Carson, "No man. Would I steer you wrong."
This comes via With Leather.
Game over. Ass kicked.
I never thought the 3-0 series count was a reason to break-up this team, but I saw the same thing everyone who did suggest that saw. The Bulls looked bad and played worse. They did not look like they deserved to be out there with Detroit.
But now the fight has been met. The Bulls got up and punched back.
Grab your balls, Detroit. Game 6 tomorrow. Go Bulls!!
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
This is the big quarter. So far... Historically, the good teams come out of halftime with adjustments that carry them to victory. Can't wait to see what they have come up with. More trapping? More zone? We haven't seen much of Noc, will he get in more or less? Thomas has played great, along with Thabo. Here we go!
10:06 left in the third. The Bulls have had alot of success fronting the post guy. That's it.
9:28 left in the third. With the paint closed, Detroit passionlessly hit their jumpers. Constant pressure.
7:36 left in the third. Billups just picked up his fourth foul. Hinrich took the charge. I take back what I said about flopping.
6:24 left in the third. More boards for Detroit. But Hinrich hits a three for a 75-64 lead!
5:41 left in the third. 'Sheed gets a tech and begs to get tossed. I love it when they go to commercial, they show the last good play the Pistons made. Jerks. They are losing by 11.
4:17 left in the third. Detroit is feeding Wallace the ball, but the fade away isn't falling. With Hinrich on the line and the Bulls up by 16, 'Sheed and Billups are on the bench. we could really extend this lead.
Holy crap!! As I wrote that last bit, with 3:21 to go, Thomas stuffs a Deng miss over a Pistons defender. YES!! That kid is a freak, I can't wait till he 'gets it.'
By the way, we are up by 18, in Detroit. Getting very interesting...
2:30 left in the third. Gordon strokes a three to put us up 21. I've become nervous about anything I type that might be bad luck. We are smoking them...
1:45 left in the third. Gordon is on fire. Another three!! 90-67 Bulls lead. My goodness...
1:00 left in the third. Tyrus Thomas is jumping over everyone. Another dunk-O-rama. Props to Skiles for just sitting Noc, who's clearly hurt, and playing Thomas. And props to Thomas for being a stud.
End of the third, the Bulls lead 92-71. I'm not gonna blog the fourth, I'll just write a recap.
Start thinking about what a Bulls win would mean.
11:05 left in the second. 34-27, Bulls. Not sure if the refs are calling this game loose, or the Bulls are playing smart, but they are avoiding fouls so far.
10:13 left in the second. Scratch that last entry. Hinrich just got his second foul and exits towards the bench. Kinda weak foul...
9:51 left in the second. An important moment perhaps. The Pistons save a ball going out of bounds and the crowd volume grows, but Webber throws it out of bounds. Detroit can't get the 'Mo' going.
8:55 left in the second. Thomas with a dunk! Now a block, down the floor to Duhon for three! Oh no. Yes!! Time out Detroit! 39-28, the Bulls lead!!
8:04 left in the second. Rasheed with the put back. 9 offensive boards for Detroit. Too many.
7:13 left in the second. After a three by Thabo and a F.G. by Gordon the lead is 13. Keep it up...
6:30 left in the second. Thomas with a spinning hook for 2. A fast break dunk by Thabo! The Baby Bulls will be heard!!
5:52 left in the second. Time out Chicago, leading 47-32. More Sonic drive-thru commercials. Hey, I've met alot of those guy. The more I see it the happier I am. The difference between this game and the first two is night and day. You can see the gain in experience all of the Bulls play right now.
Who thinks 'house of payne' is gonna redefine sitcoms as we know it? Yeah, me neither.
4:25 left in the second. The Bulls break a tough Pistons trap. Barely. Deng hits a runner and goes to the line. The breaks keep going our way...
3:22 left in the second. Time out Chicago, leading 52-41. We are getting killed on the offensive glass. 'Sheed hit a long two after another Maxiell board. No one needs to see that.
The Bulls continue to shoot lights out. 77%.
2:47 left in the second. 55-41 Bulls ahead. Chicago has hit nine straight shots. Man, we look so good when our shots fall, the mellow confidence in the Bulls persists.
1:31 left in the second. Hinrich picks up a blocking foul. Kirk is doing to much flopping as it is. Billups is serious. He just drained a bail out 3 with Kirk hanging all over him.
:51.7 left in the second. Deng hits his sweet elbow jumper. Detroit has done a great job denying him that shot all series, but that time it was money.
:00.6 left in the second. Gordon hits a 2 for a 59-51 Bulls lead.
Halftime and Bulls fans couldn't have asked for a better half. The Bulls might lose this game, but the steps forward for this young team are happening before our eyes. They have adjusted and they could make this interesting.
6:26 left in the first. The Bulls are calmly hitting all their shots. They seem very business like tonight. Maybe the overwhelming circumstances will be freeing for them. Come one guys, Be The Ball.
6:00 left in the first. Ben Wallace just missed an open lay-up. Watching him on offense makes me think I could have been an NBA player, if I wasn't 5' 10", cause he shots exactly like I do. Man. We cannot miss any opportunities tonight.
5:30 left in the first. Ben Gordon just tripped pushing the ball to the hole. Ben, you will live the entire off-season with a basketball in your hands.
4:35 left in first. 20-12 Bulls. Excitement growing...
4:00 left in the first. I just love the Ben Wallace bail-out drive to the hoop for the foul. Fantastic.
1:22 left in the first. Detroit is starting to hit shots with hands in their faces. The giant awakens...
End of the first. Bulls lead 31-25. Shooting 77.8% in a quarter is a scorching pace I doubt they can maintain. Detroit shot 43.5%, which will improve.
Still, they played with quiet, deliberate execution, winning the first quarter.
Monday, May 14, 2007
Dan was opining about the need for changes on the Bulls. I didn't catch his whole argument, as my sons needed help with their shoes, but what caught me was he said, and I'm paraphrasing here, "The Bulls aren't to young and that shouldn't be an excuse. I looked up the age of the Pistons in '04, and they are the same age. So, age isn't an excuse."
Well, my first thought was, "Bullshit, Dan."
So lets check it out.
Starting point guards:
The Pistons: Chauncey Billups, in 2004, was a 27 year-old, sixth year vet.
The Bulls: Kirk Hinrich, right now, is a 26 year-old, fourth year vet.
Conclusion: Dan is full of crap. Billups has both age and NBA experience over Hinrich.
Starting Shooting Guards:
The Pistons: 'Rip' Hamilton, in 2004, was a 26 year-old, fifth year vet.
The Bulls: Ben Gordon, right now, is a 24 year-old, third year vet.
Conclusion: Dan is full of crap. Hamilton's' age and experience both trump Gordon's.
Starting small forwards:
The Pistons: Tayshaun Prince, in 2004, was a 24 year-old, second year vet.
The Bulls: Luol Deng, right now, is a 22 year-old, third year vet.
Conclusion: Dan is full of crap, though not as obviously. It depends on what you place more value in. NBA experience or actual age, and does an extra year in the league make up for being two years younger when comparing the two.
Starting power forward:
The Pistons: Rasheed Wallace (we'll call him the starter even though he didn't start for them all season, but came in a trade late), in 2004, was a 29 year-old, nine year vet.
The Bulls: P.J. Brown, right now, is a 37 year-old, fourteen year vet.
Conclusion: Dan is not so full of crap here, but I would say that Rasheed was always a superior player, with better all-around skills, to Brown and age has little to do with anything when comparing them.
The Pistons: Ben Wallace, in 2004, was a 29 year-old, eighth year vet.
The Bulls: Ben Wallace, right now, is a 33 year-old, eleventh year vet.
Conclusion: Dan is not so full of crap. Since Ben doesn't have control over time and space, it's impossible for him to be younger now than he was then. In this case, age hurts the Bulls as Big Ben's skills have diminished.
Sixth men and the benches:
The Pistons: Mehmet Okur, 25/2. Corliss Williamson, 30/9. Elden Campbell, 35/14. Chucky Atkins, 29/5. Bobby Sura 31/9. Lindsey Hunter, 33/11. All this for an average of age of 30.5 years old and 8.3 years in the NBA.
The Bulls: Andres Nocioni, 27/3. Chris Duhon, 24/3. Tyrus Thomas, 20/1. Thabo Sefolosha, 23/1. Malik Allen, 28/6. Adrian Griffin, 32/8. The Bulls main bench players have an average age of 25.6, with a 3.6 average NBA experience.
Conclusion: Dan couldn't be more full of crap if he was some kind of crap-holder thingy. Basically, the Pistons averaged five more years of age with a nearly five year difference in NBA experience.
Average age of starters on the Pistons: 27. Average years in the league: 6.
Average age of starters on the Bulls: 28 Average years in the league: 7.
You might say, "Slow your roll, Phil. Looks like the Bulls are older than the Pistons." Well, if you consider the starters only, than yes, they average a higher age. But that age comes from two players, and speaks more to the imbalance in the ages of the Bulls starting five.
Average age of players listed by Phil (starters and bench): Pistons, 28.9. The Bulls, 26.9,
Average experience of player listed by Phil (starters and bench): Pistons, 7.2. the Bulls, 5.1.
So, overall, the Pistons of '04 average 2 extra years in both age and experience.
The Bulls ARE young, especially where their best players are concerned, and age should be considered when deciding what types of moves you want to make. It is one of their flaws, and I hope they are given time after this season to mature and continue to play together.
Also, Dan Patrick is full of crap.
Friday, May 11, 2007
That game was awful. Just terrible. It is obvious we are not the team that Detroit is.
"From my seat, when they want to do something out there, they do it," coach Scott Skiles said. "When they want to penetrate, they penetrate. When they want to shoot threes, they shoot threes. Even when we're guarding them, they've been able to make shots."You got that right, Scott. As Prince was killing us, I thought, "No wonder they didn't draft Carmelo. This guy's the best small forward in the league." I couldn't be more impressed with Detroit.
I have thoughts about the Bulls flaws. They have a few. They are small. I've got some ideas about what they need. Size, size, and more size. But I don't think they need to blow it up.
Plus, there is another game to be played. How a team plays, at home, when facing elimination is important.
Has football season started yet?
Tuesday, May 8, 2007
Dempster gives up the tying run on a fly out to right and now we go to extra innings, but I liked that moment. Lou gives everyone shit. No one is exempt. I think it is starting to show in their play, despite this blown save by Dempster.
Monday, May 7, 2007
Or do we?
Of course, it's fantastically hard to do. Turn a series around against a championship level team, when you are down two-zero? Good luck!
But it isn't impossible. It isn't "harder" than winning a championship. Championship teams do it all the time. A serious contender, and I think the Bulls moving in that direction, puts up a fight.
One of the things I most enjoy about the NBA playoffs is the extreme shifts in momentum within games. Within a series. At some point, every championship team has to "turn that corner." Perhaps the most famous moment like this is Jordan hitting that shot against Cleveland. The Bulls didn't win the ring that year, but they had begun an ascent that in hindsight seems almost inevitable. But if he doesn't make that shot, do they win six trophies?
If Rasheed Wallace hits a couple shots and L.A. doesn't come back to beat Portland, do they win three straight? Detroit was down three-one to Orlando in the first round the year before they won. They came back to win that series. They win the next year and McGrady still hasn't gotten out of the first round. Dallas let the Finals slip away last year and look at them.
Oh, they just tipped off. Tangent done.
Wednesday, May 2, 2007
What I would like to say is thanks to everyone that reads and links to Double-Nickel. You are all powerful cool. But, since I can't guarantee that the posts will pick up, I totally understand if you feel like dropping us from your links list.
I started this site to get friends together to write about sports. I saw the guys at IDYFT, seemingly old friends all, and thought what a wonderful idea, I'll copy it. Other than that had no clear idea how it would be structured.
With that in mind, I don't want to delete it. If anyone wants to post they still can. If you feel like writing about sports, drop me a line, your in.
We'll see where it goes from here.
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Felix Pie is up and will play centerfield this afternoon. MLB team rosters are max at 25, so I would say Will is a goner. The bullpen, seemingly a strength, has been weak, and the starting pitching has been a surprise so far, with Rich Hill pitching great, Ted Lilly mowing people over, and Marquis hanging in there. Zambrano has been decent, but he's our ace and I'm not worried about him. The fifth starter is a weak spot, and Wade Miller has a chance to make another start after this if he beats Hall of Famer Greg Maddux.
Felix Pie is tearing it up in the minors. .444 batting average, nine walks to four strikeouts. Good on base percentage, and his defense seems to be his strongest point to begin with. He's here, and I'm excited about it. Does this mean "Jock" Jones is being shopped? Perhaps not yet, we'll have to see what Pie can do over a stretch of time. This could be an eventual outfield of Soriano in left, Pie in center, and Murton in right. Maybe.
So the line-up could look like this today:
1. Ryan "The Riot" Theriot 3B
2. Michael Barrett C
3. D. Lee 1B
4. "Jock" Jones RF
5. Matt Murton LF
6. Mark DeRosa 2B
7. Felix Pie CF
8. Cesar Izturis SS
9. Wade Miller P
This lineup is nothing more than a guess at 10 in the morning. I don't believe it is set yet, or any announcement of Pie. Jones could hit two, three or four, depending on where Lou wants to bat Lee, but I can't imagine taking him away from that spot. Jones can hit five and six as well. Barrett can hit just about anywhere. I don't think Pie will lead off against Maddux, but if that's going to be his spot on this team or any other, I think Sweet Uncle Lou will throw him into the fire. You only lead off the game once, and what a better start than to face Maddog. Talk about the knees shivering.
I guess we'll find out everything soon, and I hope the Cubs come out and perform well. The fans should be electric today.
Good Luck Cubbies!
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Wednesday, April 4, 2007
Ted Lily makes his Cubs Debut as he faces Bronson Arroyo, who smoked the Cubs on the mound and at the plate last year. It's going to be cold in Cincinnati, and may have some flurries, which leaves me to wonder how much baseball will be played today. I hope they get it in, because I will be out watching it somewhere.
The lineup remains the same as far as I know, and I hope I see the swagger today. Patience at the plate is going to be key as always. Arroyo boasts some nice off speed pitches that will test the Cubs today. If they can hold off, they might be able to draw some walks, which can lead to some easy runs early. The Cubs left 13 men on base during the first game, and I'd like to see that number come down below ten. Also, Arroyo, who Was named after the great actor Charles Bronson, gave up 31 homers last year. A good chance for our power hitters to wait around for that fastball or hanging curve to send it out of The Great American Ballpark, a tough place to hit.
On the radar for me, which includes every game, is "Jock Jones". He is a veteran, but sometimes he looks like he forgets where he is. I'd like to see him improve his average this year, and spread the ball to more than just the right side. He's a lot like Jeremy Burnitz in that aspect.
Always on the radar is the outfield defense. Concentrate on the ball off the bat and get to that spot as quick as possible. Know where your cut off men are, and don't try to be a hero. Keep those fundamentals in check.
That middle infield is going to be key getting out of some innings. The tandem of Izturis and Derosa is still in question for many fans, but I like what both can bring, as opposed to Cedeno and Theriot.
That being said, the bats need to come early and often tonight.
Good Luck Cubs!
Tuesday, April 3, 2007
Win or lose, it's always good to get that opening game out of the way. The last two openings days, the Cubs scored at will and won both of those games. This season was much different. Carlos Zambrano gave up 5 walks and 5 earned runs. Matt Murton already apologizing for his poor performance, striking out three times. In the sixth or seventh as I was watching, the combo of Lee, Ramirez, and Jones went down 1,2,3 on five pitches. Aaron Harang smoked all the Cubs, and patience at the plate was non-existent. I will let this game go under the radar, but there was truly no swagger to the Cubs on Monday.
The line-up is something I would already change. I would take a chance right off the bat with Felix Pie. Trade away "Jock" Jones and a pitching prospect for whoever, maybe another fifth starter(not like we have enough already). Stick Felix Pie in right field and make him lead off. Alfonso Soriano just strikes out to much there, and is too much of a free swinger. I say the new order should be:
It may turn out the order is fine the way it is, but I believe this is the way to shake it up. Experience means a lot, but when our we going to give someone with great potential a shot. Pie has at least got to be as good in the field as Jones. Wrigley can be a deathtrap, but I think we should have Pie get used to it as early as possible. If not, trade him and let's get a veteran, defensive outfielder who has the same power as Jones.
Ted Lily faces Bronson Arroyo Wednesday night in Cincinnati. Stay tuned for pre-game thoughts and coverage.
Monday, April 2, 2007
Carlos Zambrano faces Aaron Harang, who is no slouch. In 2006 Harang was 16-11, with an e.r.a. of 3.76, with only 56 bases on balls as opposed to 216 strikeouts. That tells me he has at least four pitches, if not five. Going to have to be patient at the plate Soriano, who led the Cubs with 19 strikeouts in the spring. My previous post crashed on me, and to lay down all the stats I had for spring would stink. The game is almost on!
Just a recap though. Lee and Ramirez tore it up. Ryan Theriot was third behind Lee and tied Ramirez with hits.
Two guys that looked very good in the spring who was sent to the little league were Felix Pie and reliever Rocky Cherry, who in 12 innings was 1-1, with an e.r.a. of 1.46, surrendering only 11 hits with 6 bases on ball to 19 strikeouts. Novoa had an Ugly spring, and I would say Rocky could get a chance.
Ronny "Woo Woo" Cedeno got much better this spring in the field with the help of Coach Alan Trammel.
Felix Pie had as many hits as "Jock"Jones, and hit for a better average, and had a better on base percentage. He may even be better in the field. He could get a chance this year.
Good bench in Daryle Ward, Ryan Theriot, Cliff Floyd, Ronny Cedeno and Henry Blanco. Every team has weaknesses. Ours is defense, and possibly strikeouts. Lou will have to make plenty of substitutions defensivley late and games, so he better drink some coffee during night games.
Here is the line-up today.
1. Alfonso Soriano CF
2. Matt Murton LF
3. Derrek Lee 1B
4. Aramis Ramirez 3B
5. "Jock" Jones RF
6. Michael Barrett C
7. Mark DeRosa 2B
8. Cesar Izturis SS
9. Carlos Zambrano P
Thursday, March 29, 2007
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
The amount of money it takes for an athlete to feel respected is difficult enough for your average fan to understand, let alone empathize with when they threaten a hold out.
And when an athlete says this, it is REALLY hard to believe all they care about is winning, which, as a fan, is really all I care about.
What does that mean exactly? Being a starting linebacker on a Superbowl team isn't cool enough for you? You don't get enough commercials? You want to play defense all by yourself? One on eleven? That'll show 'em who's 'The Man.'
"I've talked to Brian about it," said Briggs. "I'm a competitor and I want the same thing he has. I've learned a lot from Brian as a player and a leader and I eventually want to be 'the man' somewhere. I want to be like him and have everything put on me too. Obviously I'll never be able to do that there.
"Still, had the Bears made me a long-term offer that I found acceptable, I probably would have sacrificed this desire and stayed. I don't want to be somewhere I'm not wanted long-term."
Again, the money I can understand, a player has to max out the money he can make. It's a short life playing football. I even like the attitude, the high performance he thinks he is capable of.
That's not what this is though, at least not all of it. This is Briggs sounding spoiled, arrogant, jealous and ungrateful towards teammates that had a lot to do with his success.
More thoughts on Lance by superior writers:
Sweet Home Sports
Kissing Suzy Kolber (Third rumor down.)
Sunday, March 11, 2007
Eric Neel has an article at Page 2 about the Mavericks crazy, good regular season.
He compares their record to those of the great NBA teams, laying the claim, "they're going to belong at the table with the 1996 Bulls, the 1986 Celtics, the 1983 Sixers and the 1972 Lakers as architects of a truly dominant 82-game run."
He then laments the Mavs uninspiring qualities, answering his own question of why they seem to get to little love for their gaudy win total.
Cuban overshadows the, largely, uncharismatic players. When put up against the great Bulls, Celts, Sixers, or Lakers teams that had similar runs, they do fall short at the "IT" factor. Seen next to Nash's fun Sun's, or Detroit rage fueled us-against-the-world mindset, your eye does not follow the Mavs.
Henry Abbott at TrueHoop loves Nowitzki's game, but sees him as "not made for TV."
All of this is true. They have no dynamic personalities, they aren't overly flashy in their play. But I think the biggest problem is that they lost in the Finals last year. The teams they are being compared to all had serious, championship pedigree, and Dallas doesn't have that. Yet. If they were the defending champions, winning the way they have been this season, ESPN would be all over them. In a stocked Western Conference, despite their great play, I'm not sure if they will even make it to the Finals.
Plus, it's March Madness.
Thursday, March 8, 2007
ESPN's Daily Dime has listed the greatest centers one through ten.
The Sports Guy disputes the merits of a list like this. I tend to agree with his argument that it is a vague question, with no answer. Does it mean career? How do you adjust for the era a center played in? Is it, which center are you taking to win one game? At the same time, that stance isn't much fun.
Pacifist Viking supports the choice of Kareem at #1, but calls attention to some serious rebounding stats Chamberlain had.
For my money, I'm taking "The Dream."
I'm not a stat freak, but some (not really "real" stats anyway) I will highlight are: Aside from Jordan, Olajuwon is the only player to win Defensive Player of the Year and MVP, in the same season. He also won Finals MVP, the only player to ever win all three in one season. He is the only center on this list, (I think, please correct me if I'm wrong) to beat three other centers (O'Neal, Robinson, and Ewing) on this list, in meaningful championship match-ups.
After Jordan's first retirement, Olajuwon filled the gap and became THE must watch player. For the seasons of 93-94 & 94-95, he was as unstoppable as any player I ever watched. His abusive treatment of Robinson, in the 94-95 Finals, is one the great moments in sports when one player separates themselves from their contemporaries.
Olajuwon was a master artist creating a masterpiece. Second place wasn't that close.
Usually people take for granted, that if Jordan had not retired, the Bulls would have won eight titles. This Bulls fan was never so certain.
(Additionally, True Hoop has a pretty good debate going in his comment's, and with The Sport's Guy on this subject. Thanks for the linkage, Pacifist Viking!))
Tuesday, March 6, 2007
Kinda small image... We'll go with it.
As I'm sure all have heard by now, Thomas Jones, and our 2nd rounder, has been traded to the Jets for their 2nd round pick.
This feels like when I'm playing Madden and I go to trade a guy I think has value, at least a 'B', but the computer gives him a 'D' and no one will take him. I guess he wasn't worth what I thought he was.
I'm not gonna get worked up about this. He's been a solid back for three seasons, but I think Cedric Benson, spelled by Adrian Peterson, can do the same thing. It also depends heavily on who we pick. We need to get younger on our offensive line, and resigning Lance Briggs (a big 'IF'), isn't gonna be cheap. This might be a step towards that end.
Monday, March 5, 2007
Let me just start out by saying, thanks again for 2005. Really enjoyed it. Exponentially.
And while I’m still giving you the, “25 year consolation period until I start really getting pissed about not perennially making the playoffs” I’ve got a couple of questions I’d like to lob at you.
Trading Brandon McCarthy? Really? What did he do? We had him under his original contract for the next 5 seasons. He still had 2 options left for minor league assignment. He was actually putting on weight, taking the gangly off and adding some mass. Did he bugger Olney Guillen in the showers? Was he waving off Man Soo Lee in the bullpen? What was it? Because as far as I can see, we got 2 “could-be high ceiling guys” from the Rangers for a major league ready starting pitcher. Coupled with the trade of Freddie Garcia (which I totally understand) couldn’t we have at least raised the leagues perception of Brandon and thus raising his trade value by having him as our #5 this season? Now we’re stuck with a crap shoot of possibilities to fill in a HUGE void at the 5th spot.
Not to mention that Jose “Satchel Paige” Contreras is a stiff wind away from blowing out candles on his 50th birthday cake and Javier “3rd time around the batting order and it’s tee-ball” Vasquez are hanging on by teeny tiny threads, I’d like to ask, WHAT ARE YOU DOING???
I understand that you’re trying to get ahead of the curve of exorbitantly ridiculous free agent pitching contracts. And maybe, just maybe, you’re going to roll out the Brinks Truck for Mark “I’ve got an Ozzie Smith jersey on under my Sox gear” Buehrle. I comprehend that you’re looking at the next 3 to 5 years and not just this season. BUT COME ON, KENNY!!!!
I’m not totally upset about losing Brandon McCarthy. I’m just upset about what it represents. Did you completely forget about the 2004 season? We had incredible bats; Magglio Ordonez, Carlos Lee, Paulie K, Joe Crede. And our #5 starters were a combined 3-30something. Scott Schoneweiss, Esteban Loaiza, Felix Diaz, Arnie Munoz, Neal Cotts. It was a revolving door of mediocrity. Not even The Magic Man Don F’n Cooper could get these guys pitching. And what happened? We were .500. No playoffs. Golfing in October.
You see, Kenny, it’s your fault. You brought me a World Series Trophy, and now I’m greedy. We won 90 games last year, and didn’t make the playoffs. 90 games. We finished behind the Twins and the Tigers, in our own division. Now we’re giving the Tribe another year to regroup, and you don’t think that they won’t be breathing down our necks as well? Let me answer that for you, they will be.
(On a positive note, Darin Erstad was a fantastic pick-up for utility outfielder and all around hustler. I dig that move. I get it. Grinders. Yeah, yeah, yeah.)
The pitching, Kenny. The pitching. Why have you forsaken me?
I know you have a plan. I understand your plan. I want to like your plan. But if winning ballgames equates to attendance*, and attendance dictates payroll, then my question simply is, WTF?
OK, I got that all off my chest. Again I’d like to say, thanks for 2005. I watch the Championship DVD’s religiously at least once a month. And I still tear up as Geoff Blum is hitting his extra inning HR in Houston.
Spoil me again, Ken. I won’t mind. And neither will your massing legion of Sox fans.
Just do me a favor…don’t ship Jon Garland off for a bag of magic beans. Please.
Thanks for listening,
* denotes the phenomenon of a perennial sub .500 team on the north side of Chicago that packs em in daily for sub par games
Friday, March 2, 2007
It's good to be Brian Urlacher.
Thanks to Deadspin for this pic. I have nothing funny to add, maybe something about Urlacher having soft hands for a linebacker. Nah, that sucks.
The comments at Deadspin are hilarious, my favorite being,
Lance Uppercut says:
"Beware of the one on the right, some people don't know what it is like to bite off someone's penis, she is not one of those people."
Thursday, March 1, 2007
I wanted Bill Cartwright to succeed, and it chaps my ass every time I think of Mike Singletary coaching a San Fransisco team.
Steve Stone, years of solid color work after playing for the Cubs, gets bounced for pissing off a crappy manager, in way over his head, and some players who's names I can't remember. Leslie Frazier. Joe Girardi. Jim Harbaugh. John Paxson's success is nice to see, but...
I doubt, Michael Jordan will ever be a part of the Bulls organization again.
The list is long, and this trend isn't unique to Chicago. Larry Bird couldn't work for the Celtics. Magic Johnson maintains some ownership of the Laker's, but he failed as a coach and never tried to G.M. That was Jerry West's job, that guy lived and died with his Laker's, until he lost a power struggle to Phil Jackson, and now he slowly fades away in Memphis.
In this case, we were keeping Lovie, so Ron was gonna go. He wasn't running his defense, he was running Lovie's Cover 2. After having played for a blitzing Bears team, and coming up as a coach for Philly, with Jim Johnson's blitzing scheme, the fit never seemed right.
It's to bad, cause I root for Rivera, he's a Chicago Bear, but he obviously wasn't seeing eye-to-eye with Lovie. If we know one thing about Lovie, he'll get rid of someone that isn't working out. Just ask, Terry O'Shea. Or Chad Hutchinson, or Wade Wilson, or, well, Rivera.
So I say, good luck to Ron. And who knows, he might be our next head coach.
Wednesday, February 28, 2007
No numbers on Angelo, who signed through 2013, but ESPN says Smith has agreed to a four-year, $22 million extension through 2011, keeping his scheduled salary for next season, with the raise coming in 2008.
The Bears have been accused of everything this week, from being (their track record bears this out. Hehehe bears...) cheap, to potentially (and worth asking) racist, where Lovie's contract was concerned.
Not sure if it was the public beating that accelerated this deal, but I'm happy to see it get done.
News of his imminent financial demise hardly surprise. Rather, it calls to mind the absolute coolest Jordan story I'd ever been told -- courtesy of the AP's Jim Litke, the George Washington on my sports journalism Mt. Rushmore. That said, I take everything Jim says as gospel, this story especially. It starts with Jordan shooting around at practice at old Chicago Stadium when he looks up and notices the m&m race on the jumbotron. Curious, he asks one of the Bulls' staffers what's up and learns what he is seeing is actually a dry run-through of the night's in-game entertainment, in which the jumbotron and m&m race factor prominently. (I'm pretty sure this was before shooting t-shirts out of an air cannon captivated a nation.) Naturally, MJ wanted to know if the winner of the race was predetermined. Of course the 8-bit graphics betrayed the answer: a resounding "yes".
So later that night, Phil calls a time out and Jordan & co. repair to the bench. As he's sitting down, he looks up at the jumbotron to see the m&m race about to start. So he nudges Scottie.
MJ: "Bet you 5 grand yellow takes this."
I'm told this went on for years before Scottie ever got wise...
I commented, confident in my memory, that Sam Smith told this story in his book, The Jordan Rules, with Horace Grant playing the role of Baby With Candy. After an Amazon 'search inside this book' search, I can find no evidence to support my memory. Anyone else remember this story from Smith's book? Anyone have an old copy of the book? Little help here, or do I need to start tattooing stats and stories across my body, Memento-style?
(Administrator's note: I just got a return email from Sam Smith, stating that he had never written about this. Surprise! My memory sucks. I'm still convinced I've heard this story before.)
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
These players include Carlos Zambrano, Angel Guzman, Sean Marshall, Wade Miller, Mark Prior, Rich Hill, Jason Marquis, and Ted Lily. Also waiting in the bullpen: Carlos Marmol, Juan Mateo, and the questionable Neal Cotts.
Carlos Zambrano is the Ace. In 2006, Big "Z" was 16-7, with an e.r.a. of 3.41. He had 33 starts and pitched 214 innings. 115 base on balls to 210 strikeouts. He gave up 162 hits, 91 runs(81 of them earned), and 20 home runs. He is our work horse. Seldom gets injured or complains of a sore arm. By the start of the season the Cubs payroll should be about 312 million dollars, after signing him to a one year deal. Holy Cow!!!!!!!!!!!!!
As of now, Ted Lily is my number two pitcher. He's really more of a three/four, but not here. In 2006 with the Blue Jays, Lily was 15-13 in 32 starts. He threw 181 innings with an e.r.a. of 4.31. 179 hits with 98 runs, 87 of them earned. His base on balls to strikeout ratio was 81-160. He gave up 28 home runs and could sky-rocket at the friendly confines.
So who are the third, fourth and fifth starters? This is what camp will determine. The next guy to pitch more than 150 innings is Jason Marquis, followed by Sean Marshall at 125 innings and then Rich Hill at 99. Prior and Miller hardly pitched, and Guzman was 0-6 in ten starts. All these guys e.r.a. was between 5 and 7.4, with Rich Hills' 4.17 being the best.
This is a mystery. Cubs gave up the most walks, but struck-out the most batters, and owned the third worst e.r.a. in the N.L. Nothing will get easier for these guys.
Right now you have to have Marquis and Marshall fight for the third spot. Rich Hill and Mark Prior will compete for the fourth spot, and Miller and Guzman get sent down to AAA, unless Guzman sits in the pen for a while, which should be unlikely.
Maybe Prior and Miller have a great spring training and we have little to worry about. Perhaps Rich Hill (who can finally locate his fastball), becomes an ace, getting to the 15 win mark. High hopes and optimism folks. That's all the Cub Fans have. This is the last year for Prior, Miller, and Marquis, if they can't stay on the field. I doubt very highly that Wade Miller is ready to pitch 150 plus innings anyway. Sean Marshall could be on his way to a trade if he becomes mediocre at best. Then the Cubs will have more time for Mateo, Marmol, and Guzman.
I'll talk about the bullpen in a later blog, probably by the weekend. There are only so many pitchers the Cubs will carry, so I expect 100% out of these guys to make the five. I see some spot starters for sure in that fifth spot. No way everybody succeeds or stays healthy.
It all starts this Thursday Cub Fans!!!!!!!!!!!!
So, right now, if I was Lou and Larry, the staff looks like this.
1. Carlos Zambrano
2. Ted Lily
3. Rich Hill
4. Jason Marquis
5. Sean Marshall.
With more certainty, I would have Prior and Miller in, replacing Marshall and Marquis, but.............................................you know.
Sunday, February 4, 2007
Last night as I was waiting tables, dreaming about the Super Bowl I would be watching today, a regular couple came in and sat down in my station. I don't have the contempt for these regulars that I might for others. They are always cheerful, polite and generous. She has a Long Island, Diet Coke back, while he has a Chardonnay. My busser, Oscar, arrives at the table first to fill water, as I approach them, Oscar, mentions that her father played for the Bears. Cool, I'll ask her about it.
"Evening folks, good to see you. Oscar tells me your father played for the Bears?"
Her husband speaks up first, his male pride swelling as he points to his chest, on his sweater is the team picture above, "This is him here, number 20."
"He played on the 1932 Championship team," I ask.
She speaks up now, "Yes."
"That's not the 73-0 game against the Redskins, was it?"
"No, but he was on that team. He played from '29 to '36."
Now, I'm a bit of a sports historian, thinking this is very cool, I say so, "Cool. What was his name?"
"So, he played with Red Grange?"
"Yes, and Bronco Nagurski."
"Wow. Was Halas the coach?"
"Yes, he's there in the picture," her husband adds, pointing to a young Halas on the left of his sweater. "90 bucks a game they got paid."
"The Bear Down fight song is about the team your dad played on."
"Well, I gotta say this is very cool, you forget the history sometimes, but your dad helped build the NFL. Sorry for the cliche, but in your case, it's true."
She begins to open up to the subject, "Thanks. I have all of his medical paperwork, all his jerseys and uniforms."
"Has the city, or team ever asked for any of it? For display or anything?"
"No, the Bears records building burned down awhile ago, so I'm glad I still had it myself."
I've spent to much time at the table now, the restaurant is busy. "We'll, I'll say thank you to you, and your dad for the game tomorrow, and this round is on me."
They say thank you, and the rest of the meal is pretty uneventful.
I have no monumental insight gleaned from this conversation. I just thought, and I think I mentioned this, that it was pretty cool.
So today, I'm gonna go watch the game, have fun, enjoy myself and raise my glass to Zuck Carlson.
One of the first Bears to Bear Down, and thrill the nation with the "T" formation.
Saturday, February 3, 2007
- English Premeire League Soccer:
- Boxing: Champion Tomasz Adamek vs. Chad Dawson, for WBC light heavyweight championship; champion Jesus Chavez vs. Julio Diaz, for IBF lightweight championship, at Kissimmee, Fla., (Showtime, 9 p.m.)
- College men's basketball:
- Southern Methodist vs. Memphis, (ESPN, noon)
- Louisville vs. Villanova, (ESPN2, noon)
- Washington vs. Arizona, (FSN, 1:30 p.m.)
- Indiana vs. Iowa, (ESPN, 2 p.m.)
- Southern Illinois vs. Wichita State, (ESPN2, 2 p.m.)
- Teams TBA, (ABC, 3:30 p.m.)
- Ohio State vs. Michigan State, (CBS, 4 p.m.)
- Wright State vs. Detroit, (ESPN2, 4 p.m.)
- Samford vs. Eastern Illinois, (ESPN2, 6 p.m.)
- Washington State vs. Arizona State, (FSN, 7:30 p.m.)
- Hawaii vs. Nevada, (ESPN2, 8 p.m.)
- Texas A&M vs. Kansas, (ESPN, 9 p.m.)
- Stanford vs. California, (FSN, 9:30 p.m.)
- College women's basketball:
- Golf: PGA Tour, FBR Open, third round, (NBC, 3 p.m.)
- NBA: Chicago at Portland, (WGN, 10 p.m.)
- Track and Field: Triathlon:Xterra Worl Championship, (WBBM, noon)
- College men's basketball:
- NHL: Chicago vs. San Jose, (CSNCHI, 3 p.m.)
Friday, February 2, 2007
- Golf: PGA Tour, FBR Open, second round, at Scottsdale, Ariz., (The Golf Channel, 3 p.m.)
- Track and field: 100th Millrose Games, at New York, (ESPN2, 7 p.m.)
- AHL: Chicago vs. Manitoba,(3 ILL-03, 7:30 p.m.)
- NBA:Chicago vs Seattle, (WGN, 9:30 p.m.)
Thursday, February 1, 2007
I had this idea about Bonds awhile ago, and that is, he hates baseball. He hates baseball, and everyone involved in it, so much that his one goal is to become the greatest player ever, and in doing so, destroy baseball.
Imagine a kid growing up, like so many growing up in America, he gets baseball shoved down his throat. But unlike every other kid, this kid's dad is a Champion, All-Star caliber professional baseball player. Every time this kids dad misses a birthday, or misses a game the kid is playing in, or just isn't around, it's baseball's fault. So he develops a healthy dislike for the game, the same as any kid dislikes the job that takes a parent away from him.
Not only does baseball rob him of so much time with his father, the media coverage, alot of it negative, creates a suspicion and paranoia in his mind. It seems absurd to him that they should spend so much time on something he disdains, but to attack his father in print with false accusations, unacceptable. What son isn't protective of their father? He grows up considering those critics in the media to be his enemies.
As he gets older, he travels with his dad's team, from city to city. Here, he only encounters more enemies, men and women, fans, thousands of them, packing stadiums to love baseball and hate on his dad. The best only boo, the worst throw batteries and hurl racial slurs at him and his father. Dilettante's, hurting his family, because they are unable to play the game.
It is these enemies that deserve the worst.
But, instead of walking away from the game, he chooses to become the greatest the game has ever seen. He will capture their love through his greatness, all the while, hating them, and their love for the game.
Now, knocking at the door of his goal, he is a grotesque, the game he hates, hates him to. Maybe we all deserve each other, baseball, Barry Bonds and us fans. He won't destroy the game, it will go on after he retires, and he will be remembered for being one of the greatest players.
I doubt he will be loved though, which might have been all that little kid wanted.
- College men's basketball:
- Golf: PGA Tour, FBR Open, first round, at Scottsdale, Ariz. (The Golf Channel, 3 p.m.)
- High school boys basketball: Loyola (Ill.) vs. North Central (Ind.), at Indianapolis (ESPN2, 7 p.m.)
- Reality: Pro's vs. Joe's (Spike, 10 p.m.)
- College men's basketball:
- Oral Roberts vs. Valparaiso (WYIN, 7 p.m.)
- Oregon vs. UCLA (3 ILL-03, 9:30 p.m.)
- NHL: Chicago vs. Los Angeles (CSNCHI, 9:30 p.m.)
Wednesday, January 31, 2007
- Bear vs. Colt. Fan poll, check. MySpace pages, check. Bizarre video of people in horse and bear costume, double check.
- Deadspin. Outsider/Insider/Outsider's look at Super Bowl week in Miami, or Sean Salisbury is King.
- Foul Balls. Bears fans continue to impress.
- Joe Sports Fan. Breaking down the absurdity of sports media.
- Kissing Suzy Kolber. Passasaurus Rex, striving to help those less fortunate.
- Leave The Man Alone. Gotta hate Samurai Mike being used this way.
- Pacifist Viking. The story of the season? Saints, no. Tomlinson, no. Rex Grossman, yes!
- Ron Karkovice Fan Club. The best Super Bowl breakdowns I've read.
- Sweet Home Sports. Know your Bears quotes.
- The Big Picture. Insightful interview with the Super Bowl teams head coaches.
- This Suit Is Not Black. Don't make Rex angry. You wouldn't like him when he's angry.
- We Are Postmen. Someone give Kyle a hug.
- English Premeire League Soccer:
- College men's basketball:
- UFC: Fight Night: From Hollywood, Fla. (Spike, 8 p.m.)
- College men's basketball: