Postgame Spread
You guys hangin' out? I'll hang out.

Monday, February 27, 2006

In The Words Of Reggie Dunlop...    


Looks like someone's trying to dump Matt Clement or Bronson Arroyo down here in beautiful Washington, DC.  Hopefully Clement, since I have serious questions about his ability to pitch like a big boy, and because Arroyo can be useful if when he gets demoted to make room for Paps.  Horrigan throws out Nick Johnson and Ryan Church as bait, both of whom are both waaaaay too good to accept for the likes of Arroyo.  Clement maybe, given that he's got Cy Young stuff and is moving to the #1 pitchers' park in baseball, but Arroyo?  That would be a financial move, plain and simple.

Many reasons to not expect such a deal, despite what appears to be a natural fit between buyer and seller:

* Brian Lawrence, whose injury created the opening in DC's rotation to begin with, is an innings-eater.  He's a 14-game winner, a #4-type guy.  Why tear apart the fabric of your team in order to replace a .500 pitcher that you essentially got for free?  (Vinny Castilla = for free.)  I don't see that, especially when the NL East will be even harder for DC to win this season.

* DC is also sitting on Alfonso Soriano, who still won't move to the outfield.  Though it's taboo to trade a positional superstar for a pitcher, even a good one, you'd think any major deal would have to involve a resolution to the Soriano saga.  (Soriano for Kerry Wood?)  Jose Vidro, the Nats' starting 2B, has been mentioned in the Clemmoyo rumors, but that makes no sense for the Sox, who already have 2B taken care of and have no need for an injury-prone guy with limited double-play abilities (unless you count grounding into them).

* Acquiring a reliable .300/20/80 type like Johnson at 1B wouldn't necessarily be an improvement over Kevin Youkilis.  Not coronating Youk as an All-Star at all, just saying the incremental improvement isn't worth a 14-17 win starter.  Ditto for Church, whom I really like, over Nixon.  It gains us youth and resistance to injury, that's all.

The only deal I see the Nats making is for Vidro plus another player (perhaps Church), just to make room for Soriano at second.  If the deal hinges on taking Vidro, though, the Sox likely wouldn't do it unless it's for Clement's entire salary... that way the "talent" deal is Church for Clement, and the "albatross" deal is Vidro's knees for Clement's salary.  Maybe the Sox throw in a prospect, seeing as both Vidro and Church are capable starters.  Either way, it doesn't really make enough sense to do.


Yeah, the basketball team.  They still exist.

Not thrilled about how they nearly gave the Laker game away last night, but still entertaining.  Any 112-111 game will be fun, and it was most definitely a classic Paul Pierce game.  The Truth was unstoppable.  He was constantly at the line, his fall-aways were golden all night, and he absolutely posterized Chris Mihm with a huge slam in the 4th.  If not for the Denham Brown jam at the end of UConn/Nova, it'd be the dunk of the weekend.  Absolutely sick.  Other good news is the emergence of Ryan Gomes as a lock for the eight-man rotation, and Delonte as the #2 scoring threat on the team.

But I like how the Celts are organized right now.  (Turns out that Greg Anthony does too, but I thought it first.)  Mostly b/c of Gomes' emergence.  Al Jefferson needs a fire lit under his ass, and Gomes will provide that once Jefferson is healthy enough to play.  With Gomes showing how solid he can be, we now have three young bigs with a future (Perkins, Jefferson, Gomes).  And finding young bigs is the hard part... dealing with the lack of depth at the 2 and 3 is easy.  Tony Allen and Gerald Green are the backups there, but they aren't showing enough.  Green had a nice game when he finally saw action (13 and 9 isn't bad for a 19-yo kid) but he's not ready to contribute.  And Allen is becoming a whipping boy for his lack of production, though I imagine that's more a result of how Doc has treated him.  (He doesn't deserve that kind of shabby treatment.)

What worries me the most is the backup point situation.  That is a red alert right now.  Orien Greene looked really overwhelmed last night after Delonte fouled out... the offense was a complete mess.  They need Steve Blake... badly.  Maybe Greene will eventually grow into the role, but he sure looked like a 2nd-round pick last night.

Though I see a lot of potential on the roster right now, I don't share Anthony's unqualified enthusiasm for the future, simply because Doc is still employed by the team.  The recent 5-2 stretch isn't rosy enough for me to forgive that ignorant MFer.  If they don't fire him this summer, they will be blowing a huge opportunity... I honestly believe the Celtics would sew up the next two or three division titles just by doing that.  Are the Nets and Sixers even capable of improvement?  I don't think so; Philly is limited by the Iverson Factor, and the Nets are always a Kidd ankle-turn away from dipping below .500.  And their rosters aren't nearly as deep with quality as Boston's, presuming the continued growth of Perk and company.

I really hope Ainge doesn't blow this by staying loyal to Doc.  He's been so uniformly right (in retrospect) about almost everything else, you'd hate to see him screw it up by not making the right move now.

Function is the key    

I was going to prepare a lengthy screed about the Knicks, but luckily Bill Simmons did it for me, and far more humorously, I might add. One of his best columns I've read.

So instead, I'll allow Fugazi to sum up my feelings:

In the Waiting Room

I am a patient boy
I wait, I wait, I wait, I wait
My time is like water down a drain
Everybody's moving, Everybody's moving,
Everybody's moving, moving, moving, moving
Please don't leave me to remain
In the waiting room
I don't want the news I cannot use it
I don't want the news I won't live by it
Sitting outside of town
Everybody's always down
Tell me why?
Because... they can't get up
Ahhh... Come on and get up
Come on and get up
But I don't sit idly by
Ahhh...I'm planning a big surprise
I'm gonna fight for what I want to be
I won't make the same mistakes
Because I know
Because I know how much time that wastes
And Function
Function is the key
To the the waiting room
I don't want the news
I cannot use it
I don't want the news
I won't live by it
Sitting outside of town
Everybody's always down
Tell me why?
Because... they can't get up
Ahhh... Come on and get up
Up for the waiting room
Sitting in the waiting room
Ahhh...Sitting in the waiting room
Ahhh...Sitting in the waiting room
Ahhh...Sitting in the waiting room
Tell me why?
Because... they can't get up

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

At This Point, Can He Really Be Serious?    

See, here's what the Isiah Thomas era feels like to me.

Isiah is to GM-ing what Peja Drobnjak is to the English language.  The key difference is that Isiah's hilarious non-sequiturs are NBA transactions, instead of phrases like "DeNiro is #1 Hero!" and "Stay In School... It's Free!"  I think the same things that attracted us to Drobnjak's Manjaks back in the day are what make us laugh at Isiah's pathetic attempts at a career.

But there's an external element that needs to be captured in the metaphor.  Isiah is not only GMing in broken English, but is unwittingly being taunted by his peers as well.  Isiah's basically the foreign guy at a high school kegger who's too naive to say no when the other kids tell him to say "Would you like to see my testicles?" to the biggest bully in school.  Besides, he wants to make friends, so he'll say the sentence to make his "friends" laugh, when in reality he's being laughed at.  That's Isiah, except with trades.

So, for example, maybe Orlando's GM calls him yesterday and says, "hey Isiah, I'll give you Steve Francis for Trevor Ariza and Penny Hardaway.  In America that's a good deal!"  And of course, Isiah says the NBA equivalent of "OK!  We make the pretty trade yes!  Ameeeerica number one!!!"  Then everyone starts laughing, and Isiah looks around and laughs along with them because he doesn't realize they're laughing at him.

I have no idea if that made sense to anybody.  Isiah's a cross between Drobnjak, Latka Gravas, and the Berserker guy from Clerks.  So there.

Oh... My... Crap.    

Anyone who thinks Olympic ice hockey is missing that certain, special something should watch this.

Speaking as someone who's used to the NHL's no-leaving-the-bench rules, I've gotta say the sheer breadth of this fight is awe-inspiring.  And since it's easy to miss... this was the league final.  (Don't hold your breath waiting for Ned Braden to skate past the camera in his jock strap.)  Of course, this outcome is predictable when you put the Carpathians in charge of anything.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

I'll Believe It When Guzman Sees It    

Anyone else buying this?  I'm not.  He doesn't need eye surgery, unless the surgery implants a couple extra ones.

Unbeknownst to me until now, Guzman hit .333 last September, elevating his average above the dreaded Mendoza Line to .219.  I had no idea.  I guess you learn something new every day!

Monday, February 20, 2006

Reason For Optimism    

And the cloud of NBC-fueled negativity lifts, thanks to's slideshow. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Why? Check out the gaunt fellow below:

Hot damn. Apparently, Schill conditioned for the spring by dancing in Springtime For Hitler. Also, I think Foulkie's knee is fine:

Either that, or maybe this is just a picture of him before he blue himself.

Speaking of compromising photographs, here's Terry Francona demonstrating what he'd do to Maria Sharapova:


Sunday, February 19, 2006

NBC Olympics Coverage = Satan    

I apologize for the impending return to negativity.  I would have much preferred to put this beef in a Feedback box of some kind, but NBC's Olympics web site has no such apparatus.  So here we go.

I'm trying to watch the Finland-Canada hockey game on CNBC.  Or, at the very least, I was trying.  I've now given up, because I know I'm not going to see any goals.

The rules of the Olympic tournament are geared towards fast action.  Faceoffs and other timeouts happen too swiftly to provide for a commercial break.  Typically, as one sees in televised soccer, such a situation means that the network will decline to break for commercials at all, and find other ways to invasively advertise.  This is considered standard practice in televised sport, for the simple reason that if your average viewer misses anything important because a commercial was shown instead of, say, TWO FIRST PERIOD GOALS IN A ROW, they are likely to become upset.  (More on the capitalized text in a moment.)

Did CNBC follow those unwritten guidelines yesterday, during the USA-Slovakia hockey game?  Yes.  As Ronald Reagan might claim, I don't recall any commercial breaks during game action.  And bravo to the producers for showing the game without interruption; it was one of the best hockey games I've seen in years, and I saw all of it.  A-plus.

But did they do likewise today, during a titanic Canada-Finland matchup with major implications for the elimination seeding?  No, they didn't.  And sure enough,
I just witnessed the nightmare scenario for NBC: both of Finland's first two goals, arguably the most important portion of the game so far, were preempted by separate commercial breaks.  F-minus.

It's not like the game was a snoozer or something.  Roberto Luongo needed to make ten saves in the first eight minutes.  Finland was absolutely bombarding Luongo.  A goal was inevitable.  NBC should have known better.
  But I can understand missing one goal.  While that first goal should have been enough to mortify any decent producer/director into staying with subsequent game action under any circumstance, I can at least allow the decision-maker a second chance.  Everyone deserves one mulligan, but you have to at least give the disaster its due, and act accordingly in its wake.  So to risk running another commercial, and get burned again, is absolutely unforgiveable.

I'm not enough of a consumer to boycott companies like Lenovo and eBay based on their sponsorship.  I already believe that ThinkPads are inferior, and that eBay is quite possibly the Internet's version of the Antichrist.  But it suffices to say that I have stopped watching Finland vs. Canada and will not turn it on again.  Why should I?  All I'm getting is the shitty parts inbetween the goals, so I can just read about it later.

So, if you're NBC or CNBC, consider this my message to you:

Friday, February 17, 2006

Someone Find Bill Walton...    

...because these 70s-era Canucks sweaters (scroll down to the bottom) are HORRRRRIBLE!!!  Apparently the V is for "victory," not "Vancouver" as one might think, and the vomit-inducing design is thus a psychologic tactic.  I'd argue that it stands for "very ugly."  Or maybe "vendetta," which is what I have against these jerseys.  As Christopher Lee said in Lord of the Rings, BURN THEM ALL DOWN!!!  These shirts get a big-time God U Suck award.

From the nostalgia file    

Oh, hot damn. No they didn’t. Yankees signed Scott Erickson.

Did they see how he was living?

I’ll dissect this one for the logically-challenged reader:
1) Erickson has a massive and uncontrollable drug habit. Desperate need to support his habit is all that explains his continued presence in the major leagues despite his remarkable lack of ability. Moreover, note his list of references. Mr. Giambi, would you bring your cup and step into this booth, please?
2) The Yankees want someone around who can talk to Al Leiter, thus keeping the rest of the roster away from Leiter’s Ben-Gay stink.
3) Well, there is Mrs. Erickson.

As Flargon would say,
He’s not even left-handed!
That said, it’s pretty obvious that they’re hedging their bets based on last season’s debacle, and simply stockpiling warm bodies who don’t get vertigo when atop a pitching mound.
Given that I predict the following, come September:
Johnson will only be at max 60%, given the milage
Mussina will be on IR (this is the year his arm falls off)
Pavano will be in Oakland, paid by the Yankees, in return for a Loogy to replace the suddenly terrible Myers.
Wright will have hung himself from the Brooklyn Bridge.

It’s looking like this may be their crunch-time rotation:

Yuck. They may have (and I believe they do) the best lineup in the league, barring a complete collapse by Posada, but that rotation isn’t going to fool anyone come September. Is that Clemens guy available? I hear he’s pretty good.
Bringing him back would be just the leverage we need to get ahold of David Wells.

Separated at birth?

This tears it. They’ve earned the moniker I love so well.

Los Junkees, 2006 Edition.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

It's That Time...    

I will preface these remarks by saying that a 100% healthy Boston team wins 100+ and blows New York out of the water.  I firmly believe that on paper they are the best team in baseball by a notable margin, for no reason besides pitching depth.  I'm not as sold on the lineup as others, but their pitching is good enough to withstand a little offensive weakness.  But that kind of injury resistance, given the average age of the team, is neither practical nor likely.  So I'll only claim partial credit if they rip the AL a new one.

Anyway, barring the injury-free scenario, which would no doubt be A Fortunate Series of Events, here's how I feel in general:

* I like Cleveland, Milwaukee, the Mets, and Tampa to make leaps.
* The Yankees will struggle at first, but will recover after calling up Todd Van Poppel and Ben McDonald from Columbus.  They will combine for 25 wins after the All-Star break.
* I like St. Louis, the White Sox, and Anaheim to backslide.  I don't like Anaheim one bit right now, not against improved Oakland and Texas pitching staffs.  This thing where they put Erstad in center is going to hamstring them.
* I'm not buying the Blue Jays.  Still too little pitching beyond Doc.
* The NL East sucks all of a sudden.  Atlanta's easiest title yet.
* Bonds is the only thing the NL West has going for it, top to bottom.  Nobody has anything significant to speak of (San Diego has young starting pitching I guess) but only San Francisco has Bonds.

American League
Boston 98-64*
New York 98-64
Tampa Bay 82-80
Toronto 79-83
Baltimore 67-95
(* = wins on some stupid bullshit tiebreaker)

Cleveland 99-63
Chicago 91-71
Minnesota 84-78
Kansas City 66-96
Detroit 63-99

Oakland 94-68
Texas 91-71
Anaheim 79-83
Seattle 72-90

National League
Atlanta 96-66
New York 85-77
Philadelphia 78-84
Washington 74-88
Florida 60-102

Houston 97-65
St. Louis 88-74
Milwaukee 86-76
Chicago 83-79
Pittsburgh 70-92
Cincinnati 66-96

San Francisco 85-77
Los Angeles 81-81
San Diego 80-82
Arizona 71-91
Colorado 67-95

Boston over Oakland, Cleveland over New York, Cleveland over Boston.  (Schilling gets hurt.  Otherwise they win.)
Houston over San Fran, St. Louis over Atlanta, St. Louis over Houston.

World Series
Cleveland over St. Louis.  (La Russa scowls.)

See, they return, and bring us with them    

I've sensed a lot of negativity here at the Spread recently, kind of like the locker room after a Mo Vaughn 0-4 induced eating binge.
With that in mind, let's take a moment today and recognize the coming of all that once was good, and could be again.

Pitchers. And. Catchers. Report.

Boo ya.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Write Your Own Headline    

Just took a peek at ESPN's MLB Rumor Central.  David Wells' expected arrival at Fort Myers, confirming that he will not hold out while seeking a trade to the West Coast, is shown under "The Skinny."

Speaking of rumors, has a pretty thorough digest of NBA rumors, as well as comprehensive transaction coverage.  I just learned that former UNC point guard Ed Cota signed with Barcelona!  I forgot all about Ed Cota.

Monday, February 13, 2006


I'm sorry, but I have to break the third rule of Postgame Spread... no F-bombs.  Sorry, kids.  But it's deserved.

This Wayne Gretzky wiretap... the one that ESPN and other outlets have used as character assassination... turns it was recorded on Monday, i.e. the day after the Tocchet allegations were announced on national television!  I find it deeply sickening that ESPN ran with this story before doing some truly elementary fact-checking.  I mean, isn't that, you know, COMPLETELY FUCKING IRRESPONSIBLE???  Who was ESPN trying to beat to the punch?  The NJPD played them like a rusty trombone.  Regardless of whether Gretzky was actually involved, which is not yet known and I do not rule out, this wasn't even CLOSE to being proof of involvement.  And yet they alluded to it anyway, with absolutely no evidence to back that up.

ESPN should be ashamed of themselves.  I've been railing against ESPN's absent journalistic integrity for years, but this takes the cake.  They publicly embarrassed an otherwise fabulous guy, and the ambassador of the only major sport that ESPN doesn't cover, using information that was essentially false.  It's easy to beat on ESPN for having dropped hockey coverage, but given the context of the story, and that a fledgling wannabe-competitor is trying to ride NHL coverage into being a competitor, I think their lack of financial stake in the NHL is fair game.  Fuck you, ESPN.  Fuck you very much.

Of course, the irresponsibility is not limited to ESPN.  Take a look at the AP's take on this development, printed here.  They're still protecting the made-up allgeations:

Specific information on when a wiretap conversation was recorded appears to support Wayne Gretzky's contention that he had no prior knowledge of an illegal gambling ring involving his wife and Phoenix Coyotes assistant coach Rick Tocchet.

Oh, "specific information on when a wiretap conversation was recorded?"  Oh, you mean WHEN.  And it's "specific," like it wasn't just some obvious fact, like, you know, THE DAY OF THE FUCKING WEEK.  I have a tiny, tiiiiiiny suggestion for journalists working this beat from here on out.  Stop trying making this story bigger than it is before its time.  You know  those "fact" thingies that make your job so hard?   Shut the fuck up until you have some.  If the facts are there, the story will make itself.  Right now, the only facts you have are that Wayne Gretzky is Rick Tocchet's boss, that Janet Jones is Wayne Gretzky's wife, and that Janet Jones probably has access to Gretzky's bank account.  So the smear campaign is essentially based on innuendo, speculation, and assumption.  In other words... pure, unadulterated, bullshit.

I await ESPN's retraction, and its public apology to the Gretzky family.

Friday, February 10, 2006


It hadn't occurred to me until now... but the Celtics have a high lottery pick coming up!  They're lined up 6th right now, and sinking like a rock.  So joining Al Jefferson, Kendrick Perkins, Delonte West, Tony Allen, Orien Greene, Wayne Gomes and Gerald Green in the youth brigade will be a pick higher than any of them.  Danny Ainge, who has proven downright masterful in the draft, will have a real pick to work with.

I don't buy the hype on the guy, but if the Celts really tank it, or the Knicks or Hawks or Blazers put together a run from beneath them, that pick approaches Adam Morrison territory.  The number of media write-ups on the Morrison/Bird comparisons would be unprecedented.

What's funny is that they need a veteran leadership presence more than anything, something you can't address in the draft.  They need a voice who's more mature than Paul "Aw, C'mon" Pierce; that alone could make them a playoff threat again.  But the youth on this team right now is epic.  They currently have four rookies and three sophs.  Kendrick Perkins, 21, is the second-longest-tenured Celtic.  What?!???!?  They need a grown-up to set them straight; Doc obviously isn't gonna do it.  God knows what he is doing, but leading the youngsters he ain't.


Check this out.  Taste it!  TASTE the booger flavor!

Shroud of Torino    

Here's a quick summary of what I'm excited to watch at this year's Winter Olympics.

1) Michelle Kwan, the Peyton Manning of Ladies Figure Skating. Well, I would argue that Peyton Manning himself is the Peyton Manning of Ladies Figure Skating, but anyway. The scoop, which I'm sure you've heard, is that Kwan got a free pass through trials because she was injured and, oh yeah, is also the only winter olympian anyone in the U.S. has ever heard of. I'll be on the edge of my seat, awaiting a last-round, crippling fall. I only watch people ice skate for when they fall down (or are slammed to the ice in the case of the NHL). Add to that my love of seeing diminutive athletes bawling their eyes out after a loss (see: Little League World Series), and this one has all the makings of a classic.

Methinks Igor would have something to say about this.

2) Curling. Yeah, I said it. But nothing says winter like hunkering down with a mug of cinnamon cocoa, some curling, and getting toasted. Nicely toasted.

Hey! Lord Dingleberry! You SUCK!

3) Ski jumping. Cause it looks cool, and I'm constantly aware that some dude might break his neck.

This shot brought to you by global warming.

4) Luge. Ditto.

We're gonna need an ambulance and a clean pair of pants, STAT.

5) Women's Bobsled. There's just something about four ladies riding a big plastic penis down a chute of ice. Also sometimes they crash.

Get your head out of the gutter.

6) More Curling. Anyone know where we left the Funyuns?

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

MLB? FU!    

Late last night, hours after rejecting the first drop-dead proposal, the D.C. city council approved a stadium lease arrangement that protects the city against cost overruns.  Indications are that the deal will be approved by Major League Baseball, though that's not set in stone; Tom Boswell reports that Virginia began making new overtures to baseball within minutes of the initial rejection.  Nothing is certain yet, but baseball's executives seemed cautiously pleased about the lease.

However, it bears mentioning that Bob DuPuy, baseball's negotiating executive on the deal, is a complete and utter douche bag.  He characterized the failed resolution as "blackmail."  As others have mentioned elsewhere, the deal is indeed blackmail, but Mr. DuPuy appears to have his definition backwards.  He also would do well (cosmically, not politically) to put away that disingenuous $317 million figure for stadium construction... a figure that conveniently leaves out all of the infrastructural changes required.  I understand his frustration at being jerked around by the city, especially since a $500+ million sale has been delayed by Council's reticence... but come on.  You're getting $611 million dollars, with few strings attached, and you're complaining?  Go to hell, you douche bag.

Anyway, as a firm DC stadium apologist, I'm glad to see that the council didn't bungle this completely.  But $611 million?!?  In the words of The Dude, "Jesus!"  That's expensive enough to make me question whether we should have built the stadium.

On the one hand, such is life in a major East Coast city, where nothing is served without pork... not even along the mighty Anacostia, which currently resembles a toilet overflow.  And you get what you pay for, and a waterfront stadium along South Capitol street is going to be SO much better than a new stadium near RFK.  It'll be one hell of a stadium when it's done, and there's no better place to build a self-aggrandizing stadium than our nation's capital.  But I'm shocked that baseball forced the city council to pay for the stadium.

On the other hand, that price tag is flat-out irresponsible considering the city has such a celebrated hospital shortage.  I've never been much for bleeding heart arguments, and have never, ever been in favor of folks who dismiss the importance of pro sports to city residents... if "sports is stupid" is your argument, get ready to lose.  But now I'm reconsidering that.  I'm horrified that Major League Baseball steamrolled the District into building them a free stadium when the Nats first moved.  In retrospect, as thrilled as I am to have baseball in town, the city was wrong to commit to such an enormous project, for free.  Again, I understand baseball's position... there's hundreds of millions of dollars at stake, and DC is actually giving it to them.  But still, it doesn't make it right.  Makes you wonder what else won't happen because of the new stadium.

I'm just glad I'm not paying for it... and that I have a hospital nearby...

Bad Idea Broadcasting    

Normally I wear protection, but then I thought, "When am I gonna make it back to Haiti?"



My all time favorite Bond quote well sums up Duke's end of game performance last night vs. UNC. They blew a 17 point lead, falling behind by two with about 4 minutes left.
Was it time?

The Landlord had been contained all game, the result of several ludicrous (but karmically justified) foul calls on his myriad blocks defensively, and the fact that, offensively, he was moving in the post like a drunkard on rollerskates.
Redick's range was off all night- he looked really tired in the first half, which doesn't bode well for the rest of the year. They were in the game simply due to three factors:
1) McRoberts played the monster game of his young life (thanks Heat). He's won me over as a star prospect. I'd still like to see a bit more arc on his shot, but hey, it works for Chris Webber (not that a college player emulating Webber is necessarily the best thing).

Time out!

2) Dockery always plays his best when Redick is struggling. His deep ball was money all night, which happens about as often as Jeff drinks malt liquor, but with prettier results.

3) UNC sucks. Just kidding- I think they're decent, just young. Turnover Machine. This team will get upset early in the NCAA tourney, but could beat anyone in the nation on the right night.

Anyway, Redick pulled it together for winning time, raining in 3 treys in about 40 seconds to ice the victory. After one of them (a sweet quick release while fading right), he ran down the court, flashing dual shockers.
Yep. The shocker, all over ESPN. They even used the shot for their game-closing slo-mo image.
And the teaser for the upcoming Sportscenter ran the heading "Shocker in Detroit", (referring to the Atlanta/Detroit upset) all of which proves that at least there's an intern at ESPN who's got a real sense of humor.


One beer to anyone who can find and email me a photo of this moment.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Super Bowl Thoughts    

It appears that the preeminent memory people will have of 2005 and Super Bowl XL is the uniformly shitty refereeing.  I don't think it decided the game, seeing how shitty the Seahawks played in general.  Seattle put themselves in that position, and that's their fault, so you cannot argue that they deserved to win.  But the crappy calls didn't help.  It's a stain on the season, but a well-deserved one based on the playoffs as a whole.

Luckily, the NFL generally reacts when there is palpable fan and media pressure for them to "do something."  So the miserable finale to 2005 could end up improving life in the NFL... outside the Pacific Northwest, anyway.  But what can they really do?

The most common request from fans and sportswriters will be for the NFL to hire their refs full-time, which I don't fully agree with.  The issue is that all NFL refs have a "day job" on the side, since the league only exists 24 weekends per year.  In theory, a more-focused ref would be better for the league, and there's no financial reason for the NFL to maintain this part-time deal.  But there's only so much film study a ref can do, and the problem isn't whether they know the rules well enough... it's a matter of seeing the play better.  Interpretation of existing rules and so forth.  You only improve that by refereeing more real games.  Unfortunately, there's no effective method for that.  There just isn't enough game action to referee.  Besides, this is the NFL we're talking about.  When PR problems arise, they take care of them better than any other professional sports league in the world.  They're fixers.  They would have fixed the part-time thing already if it were possible.

Expanding the scope of replay isn't an answer either.   Replays were inconclusive on the Roethlisberger touchdown, despite giving the impression that the ball never crossed.  The back judge stood right next to D-Jack, looked straight at him whiffing on a push-off, and threw the flag for offensive pass interference anyway, even though it was merely attempted PI.  Later, Hasselbeck was called for a personal foul... for having the nerve to tackle a defensive back.  How does a video replay, showing something that officials stared at and still got wrong, help anything?  They'll still see the play wrong, no matter how good the image is.  The problem is that the referees' opinions were wrong.  They were in a perfect position to do the right thing, and ultimately decided not to.  That's the real problem.

But in order to achieve a real improvement in officiating, you have to use technology, because the refs probably aren't going to get around the whole "human error" thing anytime soon.  I'd like to see them start using transponder technology to determine touchdowns.  Let's say you place a chip beneath each of the four pylons, several inside the tube of each football, and perhaps one on the toes of every player's cleats.  In theory you would be able to determine whether a touchdown has been scored without any visual evidence.  Successful entry into the end zone would turn on a light on the goalpost, and that's the end of that.  You could throw them onto each player's gloves or fingers as well, to help determine whether a pass is complete or not when a player lands on the ball.  It's all possible.  Implementing this technology in 32 stadiums, for 1600 players, is clearly expensive... but again, this is the NFL, and no league is in a better position to make this happen.  After all, if the NHL can implement similar technology for television... ten years ago... I think the NFL can make it work.

So, while there are options, I don't see anything truly constructive happening... well, nothing I can think of anyway.  Hopefully they can figure something out though, because not everyone will be able to chalk those lousy calls up to coincidence.

1,008 Words On A-Rod    

Come on. Can this guy do ANYTHING right???

In unrelated A-Rod news, there might be someone out there who would like A-Rod. (No, it's not Redick.)  Behold!   Evocative headline, eh?  This can't possibly be true... but if it is, I fear for him. His Raider teammates are not going to be as evolved and understanding about this as I am, to say nothing of neanderthalic Raider fans.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Emergency Post!!!    

The news story of the year is hitting... Isiah Thomas actually made a good trade!!! Of course, he's taking on salary cap room that he couldn't possibly have had at his disposal. He's also dealing with Toronto, which makes this deal the NBA equivalent of selling eight units of Mountain View to Bruce and Harriet Nyborg.

At risk of sending my blogging VORP into Tony Womack YPOS!!! territory, I'd better explain that last comment. Behold, the fruits of IMDb!

Shelley Levene: I'm telling you - the one thing you can tell them is that it's a remarkable sale.
Williamson: The only thing 'remarkable' about it is who you made it to.
Shelley Levene: What the F**K does that mean?
Williamson: That if the sale sticks, it'll be a miracle.

Shelley Levene: What does that mean? Why would it not... Oh, f**k you. You do not know your job. That's what I'm saying. You do not know your job. That's what I'm saying. A man IS his job and you are F**KED at yours.

And that's all I have to say... to you.

Why Perk Makes This Week's Hero List    

Third-year Celtics center Kendrick Perkins' thoughts on Mark Blount's embarrassing preening display during his 16-10 performance against Boston the other night:

"I knew he'd come out hard," said the rugged Perkins before last night's game against Phoenix, which the C's lost, 102-94, despite 43 points from Paul Pierce. "I didn't think he was very professional. I guess he was real happy. ...

"He took it real personal. It wasn't personal. He treated the Celtics like they didn't give him a fair chance. They gave him a contract (6 years, $39 million) and gave him more than one chance. To disrespect the whole organization, I thought it was very unprofessional."

Perkins has never shied away from hard fouls. Did delivering a well-placed elbow ever cross his mind?

"He was just making a fool out of himself," sniffed the 6-10, 260-pounder. "Everybody could see it."

Way to go, Perk!  Maturely sticking the knife in the back.  Blount must not have been too kind to Young Master Perk while fighting for center minutes the last two seasons, which is no surprise coming from Mr. Pineapple Head.

New York Sucks... It Really Really Sucks    

Isiah: "It's all cool, man, it's cool."
Knicks: "The goddamned plane has crashed into the mountain!"

Ah, my Knicks. Gotta love 'em.

Hey, what're those big buildings back there?

From the above linked article:
"Thomas has convinced Dolan that he is rebuilding and yet the Chicago Bulls own the Knicks' first-round pick this June, which is almost certain to be a lottery selection. Also, the payroll is at a league-high $120 million and climbing."

Excuse me while I go vomit. The only upside is that this will give the Bulls a good shot of landing JJ Redick, who can team up with Luol Deng and Chris Duhon for the ultimate trifecta of mediocrity. Ok, this is WAY premature, but can you imagine Luol, Duhon, Hinrich and JJ on the floor at once? Would the shot clock ever get below 15 before someone launched a three?
In fact, what's the over/under on how long before Hinrich and JJ have an awkward threesome with some semi-accidental grabass? I say November.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

McNabb Story    

The semi-candid Donovan McNabb interview posted on ESPN is notable for one major revelation:

• Did McNabb take his teammates' showing support for Owens as a stab in the back?

"It put something in the back of my mind that you really learn a lot about people when things aren't going good. Comments, answers to questions, reactions -- you learn about people... That nobody really came to my defense, that showed me a lot. That nobody came out to say he's wrong in the media when somebody asks you a question, it was like, 'That's his situation, that's been them, his contract, I think Donovan has handled it well…' Come out and say, 'It should not have happened. That was wrong. This is Donovan's team.' Again, I'll always remember what happened."

Apparently it didn't show him enough.  He's not saying "I need to prove myself to my distrusting teammates," is he?  He's saying "There's nothing wrong with me or my game, it's just that my teammates are jealous of my contract."  Furthermore, he denies being "tired" in the Super Bowl, which he clearly was for some as-yet undisclosed reason.

He's not fooling anyone with this I'm-a-big-boy crap... no more than the guy with the Snickers toupee fooled his coworkers.  His teammates saw exactly what the rest of us saw: their leader, hunched over and dry heaving in the 4th quarter of the Super Bowl.  His teammates had the Eagles poised to at least try to tie the game, doing everything they could up to that point, only to watch their leader fail for some oh-so-secret reason.  If this secret reason were any good, a) it wouldn't be a secret and b) his teammates would have stood by him, which nobody did.  If it were ridiculous, undeserved, or whatever, wouldn't someone have had his back?  Yes.  So there's gotta be something else going on under the covers.

Whatever it is, it's clear that Donovan's teammates are pissed with him.  Teams who dislike their quarterbacks, or who don't trust or follow their QBs on the field, always underachieve.  This is a theme that plays itself out year after year... most notably in Indianapolis with Peyton Manning, but also in New England (Bledsoe), Pittsburgh (Kordell Stewart), Miami (Marino), and apparently Philadelphia.  Drew Bledsoe's benching, contract and star status be damned, is the biggest reason the Pats won their Super Bowls.  The other quarterbacks on that list haven't won jack shit.  Because after a while, when you don't respect a guy AND he doesn't get it done, it starts getting really old.  That's when something like the 2005 Eagles happens.  And the only answer is to force a paradigm shift.

I think the Eagles need to just cut ties and move on.  Trade him to Arizona for Larry Fitzgerald.  Do an even-up swap for Daunte Culpepper.  Trade him to Green Bay for their #1 and #2.  But something, anything, to get him out of Philly, so everyone can start over... because this same soap opera will happen again, for some other reason, if he stays.

Jargon + Oops    

I have used the same clunky phrase to qualify all of my comments thus far, but feel that the qualifier is so inevitable, in some form, that it demands an explicit reminder.  So, without further ado, my new words:

  • batocaw - acronym representing the phrase "Barring A Trade Of Clement, Arroyo, or Wells."
  • itiatocaw - acronym representing the phrase "If There Is A Trade Of Clement, Arroyo, or Wells."
I will use this word, typically in boldface, as shorthand for the inevitable qualifier on my roster predictions and commetary for the foreseeable future... well, I should say I'll use these words batocaw, and I will not have any need for them itiatocaw.  (See?  It's fun to make shit up on the Internet.)

I forgot about our Rule V draftee, Jamie Vermilyea, a right-handed middle relief prospect.  No fastball (88-89), but also throws slider/splitter.  Got hammered in Syracuse (AAA) last season.  While I'm having trouble seeing where his roster spot would be, batocaw, I also had trouble seeing where Adam Stern's roster spot was last season... and yet, here he is.  So who knows.  Room could be made itiatocaw, or if there's a slew of injuries, but otherwise I think they're gonna be shipping this guy back to Toronto.  Then again, I was also the guy penciling Hansen and Delcarmen into our bullpen up until recently, so maybe they really are prepared to hold their breath on their prized prospects.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Barf, More Sawx Tawk    

The list of non-roster invitees to Fort Myers was released today.  Notables include 2B/SS überprospect Dustin Pedroia, Team Schleif patron Willie Harris, and former Yankee stiff (and current Manny Ramirez drinking buddy) Enrique Wilson.  None are likely to make the club, given the team's depth at second, but Harris has an edge in that he also plays the outfield positions, and can swipe a base or two.  Still, probably not enough to beat out alleged baseball genius Alex Cora, or even Team Doucette whipping boy Tony Graffanino.

Also of note is Achilles victim Gabe Kapler, who is unlikely to make the club out of spring training, but has an open invitation to rejoin the club and resume his status as the sexiest Jew in baseball once he's healthy.