Friday, June 01, 2007

Wrapping it up...

No links this week (it's too close to 5pm for me to go hunting) but the weekend approaches and there are some things to note:

*Look for Sports Elitists on this weekend and from now on. I posted my Barry Bonds post on there this morning and it's the talk of the site for today. Bully for me.

*The penultimate Soprano's airs on Sunday night, followed by another "great" episode of Entourage where Vince probably has/gets to do something to someone, E doesn't necessarily agree with that decision, Drama's career takes a hit and Turtle goes Jungle Fever all over HBO's ass (read: every episode this season).

*Pistons at Cavs, Saturday night. Reactions Sunday (mainly from Jed and Paul) will either be full of joy (and typos, likely caused by the requisite beer afterward) or full of sorrow and lament (and typos, likely caused by the requisite beer afterward).

All the best, enjoy the weekend and thanks for reading.

O Larry, Where Art Thou?

Detroit, please allow me to take a page out of the Rick Pitino playbook:

Larry Brown is not walking through that door. Ben Wallace is not walking through that door. Hell, even Corliss Williamson, Mike James and Elden Campbell are not walking through that door.

That is to say, Detroit fans and their expectations have become a bit too lofty granted the players that currently comprise their beloved Pistons. They became lofty thanks to the wonderful championship run (hell, even *I* was rooting for them) in 2004 that the four aforementioned players helped put together along with the rock-solid 1-4 that still plays in the D today in Chauncey Billups, Rip Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince and Rasheed Wallace. Some people called that team boring but I had a blast watching their 2004 playoff run (and not just because I hated the Lakers). Their hunger and drive was something to behold as 12 underdogs battled and scrapped their way to a decisive hammering of the Lake-show in those '04 Finals.

Over the course of the next three years, guys like Williamson and James and Campbell turned into guys like Dale Davis and Jason Maxiell and Chris Webber (only one of whom I'd want on my team -- and it ain't Mr. Time-Out) and this turnover certainly damaged what Joe Dumars had built in '03 and '04.

The most grievous blow, however, occurred when Larry "Wanderlust" Brown decided that his dream job was available with the Knicks and instead of coming back to take another run at The Ugly Trophy he would rather coach a team going nowhere with THE WORST GM EVER. The loss of Brown was only further complicated by the puzzling hire of Flip Saunders as the Pistons' bench boss. Things became even more complicated when Ben Wallace split the scene for big bucks in Chicago.

With Saunders in charge the Pistons have remained atop the East standings but have faltered in the playoffs, losing in 6 last year to a searing-hot Miami squad (no pun intended) in the East Finals and now finding themselves perched precariously on the edge of playoff elimination to the Cavaliers, a scenario found to be unthinkable just 7 days ago.

What happened? How did these guys go from nigh-invincible to nigh-eliminated? There are two fundamental changes that occurred between 2004 and 2007:

1- Larry Brown created a team atmosphere that Flip Saunders could not follow through on. We heard it last year when Ben Wallace, arguably the biggest star on that team, was publicly calling out Saunders in the middle of the playoffs. This year it's gone a step further with 'Sheed taking technical fouls from throwing his headband out of frustration with his own teammates. There has been talk of a serious chemistry-related breakdown in the Pistons' locker room and Chris McCosky paints a revealing picture of it in his Detroit News article. The Pistons won in '04 as a team and really do seem to be, in the finest words of Al Pacino, crumbling as individuals in '07. Team = hunger; hunger = The Ugly Trophy.

2- What I refer to as the Rasheed-ization of the Pistons. Under Brown, Rasheed's attitude was held in check and we heard about the "Kinder and gentler 'Sheed." Brown was able to use the aforementioned team atmosphere to dull any impact from big personalities like 'Sheed's. Since Brown left, Rasheed Wallace has been allowed to act like Rasheed Wallace and, in my not-so-humble opinion, the results have been pretty disastrous: constant bulletin board material, a lack of respect for their opposition and, most annoyingly, constant bitching about every single call on the floor. None of this happened under Coach Suitcase.

So now Detroit fans expect their boys to band together with their backs against the wall because they have responded to this kind of pressure so well in the past. They expect the Pistons to band together and play as a team, but... who will they band together around?

Larry Brown is not walking through that door. more...

Updated: These guys are tearing my eyes out and stomping on them!

Please Hightail it over to ArmchairGM to vote for, and thus make popular, stories by The Sports Elitists. You, too, can join in on calling me a self-righteous, uninformed and, above all things, mildly retarded commentator on this, our world of sports. Fun!!

Now, back to more gushing over last night's LeBron Show. more...

In My Defense and On The Topic of Last Night's Game 5...

I wasn't asleep, I was watching the game, I had an away message up so as to avoid talking to people while watching the game. I felt it deserved my utmost attention. But I guess I have to only be paying half attention to a game in order to truly enjoy it. I'll try that on for size next time. And I didn't go to sleep until after I watched the highlights about 5 times. Jed: you're an asshole and I'm an admin and I'd just as soon delete your post if not for the picture with the come hither stare 5 o'clock shadow. What can I say: the camera loves it some me.

___________ stuff by LeBron James last night. Fill in the blank with an adjective, if you want; I can't think of any that would be enough to suit the kind of game he had last night. This guy is so special on the court and it amazes me that comparing him to Jordan, THE basketball God, isn't off base at all. In fact, I don't think Michael could have ever had a game like that. Look at the talent he had around him when the Bulls were the best team in the league. Pippen, Rodman, Harper (love and honor), Longley...Too many players doing too much for Michael to even consider having a game like that at such an important time.* LeBron had to score the last 25 or it would have been pretty academic for game 6.

*Yes, Michael did have a similar game (48, 9, 8) but it was in the first round of the playoffs, not in his franchise's most important game...ever.

So we go back to Cleveland on Saturday with a chance for the Cavs to advance to the NBA finals. I don't want to jinx anything, lest I desire the wrath of other Cavs faithful, but how does any team, Detroit, San Antonio, Dallas, any team, come back from a game like that? On the road? Should be interesting.

LeBron's Coronation


Kopech was sleeping when Lebron made it rain on the Pistons

The title speaks for itself, Kopech was sleeping when King James made it rain.

Kind of makes you wonder where the Cavs would be if Donny Marsh would have hit that shot. Actually, it shouldn't make you wonder, it should make you think, "The Cavs would be in the NBA Finals if Donny Marsh made that shot."

But seriously, can you put into word the game Lebron had? This is the game we were waiting for him to come up with... there is no reason why we should have expected this, but Lebron put himself on the level of the elite tonight. All Hail the King (but quietly... we wouldn't want to wake "The" Chris.)

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Thanks a Million, Stray-Rod

I really don't care that a married Alex Rodriguez picked up a skank at the rippers in Toronto this week. Seriously, why is this news?

I can't say I'm surprised at the New York Post for grabbing this story and running with it; this is what the Post does -- they're a tabloid. I can't say I'm surprised one bit... but I am pretty unnerved by the whole thing.

Tabloid journalism is nothing new to the sports world. We hear about players' personal lives constantly; think about things like the Vikings' sex cruise or Michael Vick's alleged dogfighting rings. And papers are not new to the party: look at the source of this "Stray-Rod" business, the New York Post. The Post has been notorious for years for creating news amongst New York sports teams--whether it's the interminable rumor-creation in regards to Joe Torre's job security or pretty much anything Peter Vecsey writes--but it all appears tame to the world of sports when compared to the "story" they "broke" this week.

First off, this whole story is a smear campaign. If this had been Jeter or Rivera or Posada the Post might have considered not even buying the photos. But since it was a man who has yet to earn his Yankee pinstripes, a man the fans are all too happy to run straight out of town, the Post paid a likely king's ransom for the photos so they could slag A-Rod on their front page for a couple days. If it's a real story, they'd run it no matter who it was.

Secondly, it sets a dangerous precedent to pay mercenary paparazzi photographers to follow athletes around and snap pictures of everything they do -- especially on the road. You may say, "Teeple, this is the fault of blogs! You are a commenter on Deadspin, a site that made its name publishing photos of Ben Roethlisberger and Kyle Orton getting wasted!" And you have a semi-valid point by saying so... kinda. I don't blame the blogs one bit; the photos Deadspin occasionally runs are usually taken by people who are at a party and say to themselves, "Hey, check it out, that's Greg Oden grinding on a tiny white girl," whip out their camera phones and snap a quick shot of it. These people aren't ruthless mercenary hounds like the celebrity paparazzi that borderline-terrorize movie stars in L.A., they're guys like you and me who think it's funny to see Brady Quinn doing the Y.M.C.A. at A.J. Hawk's wedding. There's a bit of a humorous innocence to saying "Hey, Michael Jordan is a rowdy, lecherous drunk in Cabo, just like me!"

When you cross the line into following athletes around with cameras, especially on the road, you get yourself onto a slippery slope because the fact is that most athletes are not like us at all; THEY ARE ENORMOUS DIRTBAGS. When you get reasonably good-looking men (and in a lot of cases even ugly ones) that are filthy rich, horny and thousands of miles away from their wives, it won't take them a ton of effort to go and find a bimmie at the gentlemen's clubs. What I mean to say is, SportsCenter won't have any room for actualy game highlights if all we do is report the extramarital sexual conquests of certain star athletes.

Please, let's keep paparazzi-style tabloid journalism in it's place: Hollywood; and leave the "real sports reporting" to the likes of Pedro Gomez, Rachel Nichols and Shelley Smith.

...wait a second... more...

The Ongoing Trials of Barry Bonds: an enigma, wrapped inside a riddle, covered in blissful irony, entwined in the tangled webs we weave.

With all the to do about Barry Bonds breaking an immortal record (and I'm okay with that, for some reason), I think the bigger story is how Hank Aaron and Bud Selig are handling everything. Aaron has stated publicly (and to anyone other than Bonds himself) that he doesn't care about the record being broken and could care even less about who is doing it. Says the current (but for how long??) home run king, via a blog quoted on (and, yes, Jed, I'm okay with bringing in other media sources):

"I have no intention of trying to get in contact with him or doing anything with
him in regard to his [chasing the record]. Nothing. Why should I?"
Meanwhile, the baseball commissioner hasn't gone so far as to say if he'll be there or not. From USA Today:

Selig has refused to say what he'll do when that dreaded moment [when Bonds
breaks the record] arrives, and he reiterated his stance Thursday during a
news conference after owners finished their two-day meetings.

This, to me, is curious. I remember when Big Mac and Slammin' Sammy were going toe-to-toe to break the then-record of 61 dingers and the nation was watching every pitch (this was front page news across the country, as you'll recall. I remember reading about it in the local paper when I was vacationing that summer in Martha's Vineyard, between sitting on the beach and running my car off bridges, thus killing hookers). Now a different home run chase is getting national coverage, too, but for all the wrong reasons. And, surprisingly, it's not Barry's fault.

Bud Selig needs to be there, not out of appreciation but because he's commissioner, the unfortunate, overly-joweled face of Major League Baseball. And whether Barry did steroids (he did, we're all pretty sure) or not is a non-issue. How the hell are any of us to know that Ruth, Aaron or Marris weren't? Or that the pitchers they faced weren't? Get used to it, folks: everyone cheats, even if it is just a little bit for just a little bit of time.

As for Aaron, I think he's just being petty. If he doesn't want to watch it, that's fine. Shut up and stop making us read pull quotes in USA Today. I'm surprised Barry doesn't hold a presser and say something like this:

"I'm sure that Mr. Aaron is upset that someone may break his immortal record; I
would be, too. If and when someone ever hits as many as I do then I'm sure
I'd bitch to every writer who will listen about how he must be cheating
and how I choose not to acknowledge it. Or...I can sit in the front row of
a baseball stadium for free and watch the game I love being played better by
someone else. But that's just me."
Barry Bonds will never utter a word that at all resembles that, but wouldn't it be nice to see a quote like that one morning on Sportscenter?

Anyway, Barry Bonds will break the record, likely before the All-Star break and probably at home where he will be cheered like a Roman Emperor coming down the Forum (I watched "Gladiator" last night) and I for one think it is a good thing. Hopefully Bud Selig and Hank Aaron can find a way to agree.

Halfway to Who Cares: Spurs Win the West.

So the Spurs went ahead and shuffled loose the Jazz's mortal coil last night and, as with all their series wins, did so in impressive fashion. This was a big series win, despite the 4-1 final tally, because, as we'll all remember, the Golden State Warriors, whom the Jazz had to beat to get this far in the first place, were Golden children in the eyes of a lot of people for dropping the Mavs in 6 in the opening round (anyone else remember Stephen A. Smith calling them the "team to beat" in the West?) But, like everyone watching these playoffs can attest to, a top-echelon team will come out of the West to meet the same in the East. Pardon me while I stifle a yawn.

I'm not against the Spurs, mind you. They're a very talented team built around one of the games dominant big men and two excellent swingmen, one of whom is banging Eva Longoria (the bastard). The Spurs have won three titles in their three trips to the Finals and a fourth could certainly move the Spurs into the conversation with the Bulls Dynasty of the 90s (unless you ask the same Stephen A. Smith, who basically took them for a ride on SC today; certainly worth watching if you can). But this brings us to the main crux of the argument...

Does anyone care?

I mean it. Outside of San Antonio, do Spurs fans exist (maybe a more appropriate question is, 'outside of NBA cities, do NBA fans exist', but I digress)? The Spurs are talented, play decent basketball (except for Robert Horry and Bruce Bowen who wouldn't last 5 minutes on a pickup court) but lack the one thing that makes teams like the Cavs, Heat or even the Warriors worth watching: they lack one superstar who can outshine the rest of the players on the court. Tim Duncan is a legitimate superstar but I would rather watch LeBron James, Dwyane Wade or even Baron Davis play a basketball game than Tim Duncan.

This is why the NBA, the fans and every basketball beat writer in the country us on their hands and knees this morning begging, praying even, for the Cavs to win tonight in Detroit (preview upcoming from one of our Cleveland guys). The Cavs are a young, talented team led by a player who is so good that he sometimes forgets he's that good and spends the time trying to get his teammates into the game, a feudal effort when one considers games 1 and 2 of the East Finals. But, more to the point, LeBron and Co. can make the NBA Finals relevant just by getting there. Do you realize that a Spurs/Pistons final would have an even line and an over/under somewhere near 120? And that the under on that number is a pretty fair bet?

But here we are, approaching a pivotal game 5 in the East with the San Antonio Spurs awaiting the winner. Let us all hope that the Cavs come out of this series, not because I hate everything about Detroit save for the proximity to Windsor, Canada, and not because I want to have LeBron's children, but because I would really like to watch the NBA Finals, and I don't think I, nor anyone else, can stomach this:

NBA Finals Game 1
Spurs - 56
Pistons - 55

That really pained me to write... more...

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

They Let These People Use Computers?

I mentioned it yesterday and the time has come to reveal to the world that, for as crazy as you think you are, your family is or that one guy who lived in the single down the hall in your freshman dorm was, there will always, ALWAYS, be someone infinitely more batshit insane than that.

Now, whether you know it or not, people write fantasy stories involving other people, be them celebrities, personalities or even fictional people (and if you haven't, keep scrolling down because you soon will). It makes sense to read something about, say, the Brad Pitt-level of star or someone equally as "big" in the grand scheme of things. And I'll even allow for the possibility that on the Internets, one can probably find anything about anyone. But really - who has the time, energy, imagination or wherewithall to create a fantasy story about a minor character from, what we have established, an awful (if not entertaining, and screw you, Paul, for thinking otherwise) trilogy of Disney movies? The "people" at The Velvet Hammer, that's who. The following is an excerpt from a possible autobiography of Guy Germaine (center of the Oreo Line (still my favorite overtly racist name to get past the Disney censors)) and recounts his exploits, post-Ducks:

You see, when I was 22, I had a girlfriend, by the name of Connie Moreau. I'd
been dating her since we were ten, and seriously since we were fifteen.
We did everything together, from playing hockey to doing homework. I was with
Connie. Ninety-eight percent of my life I spent with Connie. The other two
percent? One was spent in the bathroom, the other sleeping. And even that
changed once we were older. I spent ninety-nine percent of my life with
Connie. We were together all the time.
"'Connie and Guy' shouldn't even be considered three words anymore," my old buddy Goldberg used to joke. "It should be considered one big word, and when you look it up in the dictionary, it should show your pictures. If they don't create a new word for you, they should at least have your pictures under the word 'attached'."
That Goldberg…he was such a joker.
Ummmm, hello? Ummmm, hi? But wait! There's more! Things didn't work too well when Guy was drafted by the Predators and had to move to Nashville with Connie:

Hockey continued on, and Connie continued on her job, and began spending most of her time on the job, even when I was home. Now I knew something was wrong. She'd never avoided me before. One night when I came home from a late practice at about 1:30 AM, that guy she'd been working with since her first day was there having a drink with her. I found out his name was Billy (yes, after two years I didn't know the man who worked with my girlfriend's first name) and that he thought Connie was great and that I was a lucky man. This made Connie blush and giggle.
Unfortunately, the "author" didn't finish the story before we can read about some dirty Mighty "Duck"ing (see what I did there?) so let's see what else is on this here site...hmmm...
This one's about "The Perfect Family" and stars Connie (of course) and Guy Germa---wait, Charlie Conway --- WHAT????!?!?!?!
A chuckle came from the other end of the phone and his familiar laugh filled her
ears. “Hey gorgeous, how was work?”“It was okay, I think the newest Golden
Gopher maybe from Eden Hall believe it or not.” She laughed, sitting down on one
of her dining chairs.“Oh really? That’s great, score another one for Orion’s
coaching technique. So what are you up to?”“Nothing, just missing you. How’s
things going in Ottawa? Ready to take out the Senators?”“I miss you too, baby.
You know Cons, you should really go out on the balcony.”Connie Moreau-Conway
arched an eyebrow and laughed softly. “Why?”“Just do it.” Her husband replied.
You can imagine what happens next (he fixes the cable?). Let's try to find something a we go.

I didn’t stay out too late, and if I did, I was never alone. I never really put
myself in dangerous situations, well I hadn’t until now. I had always thought I
was pretty careful, never dressed, provocatively, never lead guys on, in fact
other than my friends and boyfriend, I rarely had anything to do with
them. But even if I acted recklessly, dressed provocatively, flirted with
the opposite sex and partied till early doors, I didn’t deserve this. No-one, no
matter how they act, deserves this. I don’t care what anyone says, no-one,
simply asks for this, because if they did, it wouldn’t be what it is. It
wouldn’t be rape.
Now I'm not making light of rape here but who writes this shit? Jesus.
Anyway, here's the link for the site for you to enjoy however you please; just navigate your way to "fan fiction", get a cup of coffee and enjoy. Remember, we here at The Sports Elitists do not condone, well, anything that these goofballs have done are doing or will ever do and hope that the psychiatric bills aren't too outrageous.
And yes, I love that the "batshit crazy fans of the Mighty Ducks Trilogy" tag has now been used in successive posts. Whether or not we can get "euphemisms for sex involving water fowl" up again is a mystery.

What if Dr. Pepper Were Your Real Doctor -- Eastern Conference Playoffs

If you can forgive me for going all Bill Simmons on you, I will explain the title of this post.

Amongst my group of friends we discuss truly absurd things such as the logistics of smuggling diamond-filled ice cubes out of gangster rappers' apartments (you probably can't) and the legality of sending someone a box filled with poop (use UPS or DHL) -- you know, highly relevant social issues. But sometimes someone posits a "What if" hypothetical that is just stupid and not worth discussing. Should that happen [simmons]my buddy Steve[/simmons] will yell at them: "What if Dr. Pepper were your real doctor?" and render the line of thought dead. But sometimes in the world of sports hypotheticals are fun to consider and as such I will take a weekly look at a topical sports "What if".

What if the Bulls had beaten the Nets on the last night of the regular season?
What if Dr. Pepper were your real doctor?

Jason Kidd really looks like Chuck Liddell.
Obviously this is a non-issue and for rational conversation a dead issue as well because the Nets stomped the Bulls on April 18th and set the wheels in motion for a Cleveland-Detroit rematch in the Eastern Conference Finals. But imagine for a second that Dr. Pepper were your real doctor and that when it was 79-77 in the fourth quarter of that game that Boki Nachbar didn't go Maguerite-Moreau-fan-crazy from long range and instead it was Andres Nocioni and Tyrus Thomas leading a fourth quarter charge that delivered an enormous come-from-behind win for Da Bullss.

Your Eastern Conference Playoffs seedings (remembering Chicago held tiebreakers over Cleveland as did New Jersey over Orlando):
  1. Detroit Pistons (53-29)
  2. Chicago Bulls (50-32)
  3. Toronto Raptors (47-35)
  4. Miami Heat (44-38)
  5. Cleveland Cavaliers (50-32)
  6. Washington Wizards (41-41)
  7. New Jersey Nets (40-42)
  8. Orlando Magic (40-42)
Giving you the following matchups:
#1 Detroit vs. #8 Orlando
#2 Chicago vs. #7 New Jersey
#3 Toronto vs. #6 Washington
#5 Cleveland vs. #4 Miami (Cleveland's better record provides homecourt)
Conference Quarterfinals:

Pistons-Magic: No need to break this one down, it happened. Pistons in 4.
Bulls-Nets: Even though in fantasy-land Chicago won at the Meadowlands, Continental Airlines Arena has been a little shop of horrors for the Bulls for the past 3-4 years. The Nets split the first two games in Chicago and then the home team wins every game thereafter. Nets in 6.
Raptors-Wizards: The Wiz were decimated by injuries and would've been no match for any team in the East playoffs, though they'd probably steal one from the Raps. Raptors in 5.
Cavaliers-Heat: Though heading into the playoffs the Heat were a media darling, we all saw the disastrous chinks in the defending champs' armor exposed big-time by a younger Bulls team. Cleveland, though, always struggles in Miami... but not enough to make up for the Heat's inability to "flip the switch" in the postseason. Cavs in 5.

Conference Semifinals:
Pistons-Cavaliers: Even though Cleveland is four horrendous third quarters away from having swept Detroit in the real-life Conference Finals, I am a firm believer that if these teams had met in round two that the Pistons would've had a more tangible advantage. What we're seeing out of LeBron right now is a combination of things he learned in both last year's playoffs and the first two rounds this year; he wouldn't be as good as he is right this second without all of that. Pistons in 7.
Raptors-Nets: Though the Raps would have had 1-2 more days of rest than the Nets, it wouldn't have mattered as much as, say, the Cavs having 5 days of rest compared to one day for Jersey in the real-live semis. The extra days' rest may have provided Toronto with one extra win but Jersey's playoff experience really showed when these two teams met in the quarters. Nets in 7.

Conference Finals:

Pistons-Nets: Are you kidding me? The Pistons may lose focus more than any good team in NBA history but this series would be a bloodbath. There are absolutely no favorable matchups for the Nets in this series. They may have stolen one win at home but this would've been the worst Eastern Conference Finals ever. Pistons in 5.

So, you see, it's excellent that the Bulls choked on April 18th in New Jersey because if they hadn't we'd be on cruise control right now headed toward a Pistons-Spurs final. Though it may still happen, the Eastern conference at the very least has some intrigue left as LeBron and co. (BOOBIE!) have flustered the Pistons and noticeably put Detroit fans on tilt. On top of that, the last two games have finally been watchable, with scores in the 80's and 90's -- imagine that! As a basketball fan, I proffer my sincerest thanks to the Bulls for gagging away the #2 seed on the last night of the season, the playoffs would've sucked even worse without your effort. more...

So You Think You Know Daniel Gibson...

With all the hubbub about Daniel Gibson on this site today, I thought it best that we take a look at the fellow when he was but a student athlete (who actually went pro in something other than not sports)...

A little better than a year ago, Daniel Gibson was just a young'n at the University of Texas and he was playing a spirited game of hoops against Texas A&M know what, the rest is pretty self-explanatory.

"If you're one of the lucky ones who opened your morning Bryan-College Station Eagle on Thursday and found a large penis staring back at you, well, congratulations. No, it wasn't one of the paper's newer promotions (find the wiener, win a Mexican cruise!), just a goof by an editor who didn't scrutinize the photo quite closely enough."

Here's the link to the story off Warning: some might call this NSFW, but Websense didn't touch it...wherever it is I have at it.


Quarter-Season Awards

I know it's early, but I think it is time to pass on who I think has the inside track at the MLB Postseason Awards this season. I will not be picking rookie of the year in either league, just because there could be a rookie that hasn't eve played yet that could win it. Typically, these probably will not hold up come June, let alone October, but here it goes anyway:

AL MVP: Magglio Ordonez-- This guy right now has a legitimate shot at the Triple Crown: second in batting average (.358) fouth in home runs (12) and first in RBI (48). Tigers pitching has slipped a bit this year, partly due to the injuries of Kenny Rogers and Joel Zumaya, partly because there was no ungodly way that thier pitching could have another season like they did last year. They are in the thick of it because of their bats this year.

Side note: I'm sure everyone is aware of the urban legend that David Stern suspended Michael Jordan for the 1994-95 seasons for gambling problems. Does anyone think that maybe Bud Selig is doing the same thing to Kenny Rogers for the gunk on his hands in the playoffs? Just throwing it out there.
Runner up: Alex Rodriguez, Yankees

AL CY Young: John Lackey, Angels: This is going to be a fun race to watch, considering that in my opinion there are at least 5 pitchcers that can lay claim to this award right now: Lackey, CC Sabathia, Dice-K, Josh Beckett and Dan Haren. Lackey is throwing the best stuff of his career, even though he let Derek jeter run on him in that Gatorade Commercial tops in Wins and in the top three in ERA, Lackey has the benefit of playing the Mariners and Rangers down the stretch to boost both of those numbers.
Runners up: Beckett, CC, Dice-K, Haren

AL Manager of the Year: Eric Wedge, Indians: This is the guy that has had to convince essentially the same team he had last year that they were better than that putrid record they posted a year ago. The Tigers added Sheff, the Bosox Dice-K. The Indians didn't add anyone near that caliber, yet they are one of the top three teams in the American League. Heck, the number Wedge and his staff did with Fausto Carmona should be award-worthy in it of itself.
Runner up: Terry Francona, Red Sox

NL MVP: Matt Holliday, Rockies-- He probably will not win this award, but he deserves it: tops in total bases, hits and runs created, top 5 in average, slugging, extra base hits, and RBI. This kid is doing it in Coors, but he is doing it in different ways you might expect. He's not mashing the ball out of the yard in the thin air, hes knocking guys in and making sure that even though people think that all numbers produced in this park should be taken with a grain of salt, his numbers will stand on thier own as solid production, not just Coors production.

Runner up: Jake Peavy, Padres

NL Cy Young: Peavy, Padres: Did I just give it away?! Peavy is finally having the season that most people were waiting for him to have. The below- .500 pitcher last year lacked a lot of run support. This year, he has taken that completely out of the equation. A 1.47 ERA, a .927 WHIP, 5 hits per nine, and 10.4 strikeouts per nine. These numbers are disgusting. You know what these numbers remind me of (besides the strikeouts)? Greg Maddux. In his prime, these are Maddux numbers. Say, where does Maddux play again? Oh yeah, San Diego. Peavy is just soaking up information from the master on his way out, and is quickly becoming the dominant pitcher that Maddux used to be, plus the strikeouts. That's just disturbing to think about, but it's true.

Runner up: Cole Hamels, Phillies

Manager of the Year: Ned Yost, Brewers: These kids are cooling off, but it is only noticable because they started off so hot. Are they the best team in the NL? No, that's the Mets, or the Braves. But, everyone expected them to play well. The Brewers will be in the playoffs thanks to an incredibly weak divison, and the combination Prince Fielder and JJ Hardy have been awesome this year. Look for this team to contend in future years, especially since it seems they have found the answer in the form of Fransisco Cordero in their bullpen.

Runner up: Bobby Cox, Braves

There you have it, your Quarter-season awards. How many do i think will hold up? Glad you aksed. I will actually rank them for you, as to my confidence that they will stand up.

6. Lackey, AL Cy Young
5. Holliday, NL MVP
4. Ordonez, AL MVP
3. Wedge, AL MOY
2. Yost, NL MOY
1. Peavy NL Cy Young

And notice how I don't have any player/manager from the AL or NL east, the "bias" divisions? You're welcome, that's just my gift to you. more...

That'll Be Enough

Ok, I'll say what all Cavs fans are thinking: Later Larry. Might be harsh, might be presumptive, but it really is the truth. Larry Hughes has been paid number one money for doing number two, or three work. This is going to be a popular topic throughout the blogosphere today, but I will attempt to put a different spin on it, by saying that I don't blame Larry at all. It wasn't his fault he had an injury last year, in addition to everything that happened to his brother. He is just apart of a long line of Cleveland curses. I still think Hughes has an opportunity to be a good player, just not here.

As the leader of the Washington Wizards, he was apart of the most prolific scoring trios, along with Gilbert Arenas and Antawn Jamison. Hughes also had another thing going for him: he could play defense. In his walk year, he averaged over 20 points for the first (and only) time in his career and was considered one of the better options for the Cavs, along with Ray Allen and Michael Redd.
At this same time, a new GM was being ushered in the Front Office for the Cavs, and his name was Danny Ferry. He came from San Antonio, a place where he finished his playing career and started his management career. He had all the credentials to be a GM, and he had all the money in the world in that off season.

The Cavs were expecting a lot out of him and looking back, he let us down. He gave Z a max deal, when nobody else was even putting an offer on the table. Then, he signed Hughes after losing out on both Redd and Allen. He was praised for signing Hughes, praised for essentially spending Dan Gilbert's money without any context or care. So, where does that leave us now? Well it leaves us with Sasha Pavlovic, acquired from the Utah Jazz under the Jim Paxon era, an old Eric Snow, and Cleveland's new darling.

Booby, Booby, Booby. If the Cavvies go ahead and beat the Pistons in this series, you could point back to the second quarter of Game 4 as the moment the whole series changed. The Cavs desperately needed someone to step up and be a leader, and it was Gibson who answered the call. He scored 11 points in that span, only taking two shots. Pretty fantastic, and this kid can only get better. The second quarter performance of Daniel Gibson is what Larry Hughes was hired to do.
Almost feeling the pressure of the walls closing in around him, Hughes came out in the third quarter of the game and took the first three shots of the Cavs' second half, and missed them all pretty brutally. This off-season is the time in which the Cavs, and Cleveland, need to say goodbye to Larry Hughes. I don't know how the money would work out, I don't know who I want for him, but I know that he has effectively been replaced on this team. You remember when you played Little League baseball? There was always a kid on the team who was a huge liability, and he usually was the son of the coach, almost ensuring he had playing time. Then, one day you're playing a huge game against your biggest little league rival, and, miraculously, this liability is hurt! You pretend to care for the sake of your coach who you respect, but inside you are ecstatic that this kid will not be on the field. This is the way I felt about Larry Hughes when I heard that he was going to miss Game 4. I was secretly happy inside, secretly thinking that we can finally find out how good Daniel Gibson is.
We found out last night. Mr. Ferry, it is time to earn your stripes as a GM and let Larry Hughes leave this team, a team that he failed. Hughes has the potential to be a good player again, but this is the time to figure out where that place is, because the 2007 Playoffs is quickly becoming Booby time.

Uh-Oh Time in the Mistake by the Bigger Milake...

I sometimes love when two sports and their respective terminologies combine to describe what is happening in one of them. And yes, that was as confusing to type as I'm sure it was to read. Anyway, my favorite combines any sport with a series playoff format and tennis. We have a similar situation in the NBA Eastern Conference Finals. So far, the home teams in the series have "held serve" (see what I did there?) and we go back to Detroit with the series tied at two apiece.
Now, I made a similar post after the Cavs fell into a 2-0 deficit early in this series, but I did not go, as some may falsely remember, so far as to count them down and out, I merely brought about a few points of order that would help LeBron and Co. maybe turn this series around, or at least get into it. The major thing was that it had to be LeBron and then the Company around him. So far, though that point is tremendously obvious, that has happened and, thus, the 2-2 tie. But the biggest surprise has been, as Teeple mentioned, the surge of Daniel Gibson. LeBron has ben the difference maker in this series (and the Cavs don't get beat in these playoffs when he goes over 20) but Gibson has played way above his head, eating up minutes, score clutch baskets and befuddling Detroit and his efforts haven't been ignored. From

"Daniel Gibson looks like he's taking lessons form Varejoke. The kid went
12-for-12 from the line, but you have to give it up for him, he's playing

Now, I'm sure the editors over there meant that he was taking lessongs "from" Varejoke, but spelling aside, they're correct.

"Where is the urgency in the Pistons?" and "The Pistons still look out of there
element in this series."

Two very good quotes from as well. Watch highlights of the game and you'll see uncontested layups by LeBron and unguarded jump shots by Gibson and Z. Rasheed Wallace often gets credit for his never-shut mouth and his tenacity on the court, but he and I had at least one thing in common last night: we both physically watched LeBron James pick the defense apart.

Aside: does anyone think that Rasheed has been both very quiet and very dormant during this series? The dunk over him in game 3 is one thing, but to literally stand around and watch LeBron James bob and weave toward a wide-open shot or dunk is pathetic, especially for a player of his caliber.

The Pistons are famous for playing opossum in the playoffs from time to time (see: Bulls series, games four and five) and at some point, against a good team, this could be their downfall. These Cavs are a good team. They have a fire in their eyes (look at LeBron after he hit the sick fade away in the second half, or Gibson after he hit his jumper while being hacked to death by the Pistons) that very closely resembles that of last year. Last night was impressive.

But this is still Detroit, they're still a very gifted team (...of old, lazy cheating has beens) and have the potential to win a three-game series with two of said games in their backyard. But now, at least in the eyes of Detroit fans, they know that to advance to the Finals, they'll need to go through a team that is certainly beginning to find itself on defense, offense and everywhere in between.

And another thing: please, dear God, kill Tyler Perry six months ago so that we never have to hear about his new show ever again.


I Love Boobie

Daniel Gibson is the man.

I really don't have a ton to say about this Cavs game. I'm still pretty psyched up about the whole thing. Over at DetroitBadBoys the Pistons fans are bitching about the referees. I find this horribly amusing in light of Game 2.

Speaking of Game 2 and its national media backlash, I really get the feeling that there will be a Zach Zarba sighting in Game 5 in Auburn Hills. Who is Zach Zarba, you might ask? Only the rootin'-est, tootin'-est, home-team-hatin'-est referee in the NBA! Zarba's predilection against white jerseys isn't pure conjecture by a basketball observer who is overly obsessed with officiating in the Association, by the way; this is empirical fact according to the esteemed Pinnacle Sports book, the most highly respected offshore gambling outfit on these here internets, who have a fascinating listing of all NBA referees and the home team's record when they're in the grey jerseys on the court. Of all the refs who have officiated 50+ games in 06-07, only three zebras have been on the court for more home losses than home wins. Of those three, two (Jess Kersey and Mark Ayotte) have "home records" within 5 games of .500 (28-33 and 26-30, respectively) but Zarba... wow. When Zach Zarba is on the court the home team is a stunning 26-38 this season! And after the national media (that doesn't have an NBA television contract) CRUSHED NBA officiating for favoring home teams in the playoffs, don't be surprised to see Zarba's oil slick patrolling the sidelines at the Palace on Thursday night. more...

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

2 Review: Jonah Keri

Well, because of a surprise doctors appointment, I was unable to preview game four of the East Finals, and because the Cavs have played well tonight when I am sort of half-assed paying attention to them, I'm attempting to do that right now, as I introduce the masses to a new column called 2 Review, a look at those who the WWL trusts to write on their "Page 2" section of their website. Jonah Keri drew the short stick, and will be the first person I critique. First of all, Jonah... hard core sports fans don't enjoy puns.

The great irony of this awful graphic is that in most cases, a guy who gets on base 40% of the time is usually good for a slugging percentage over .500. But I'll let it slide considering the fact that Keri is only "Special to Page 2." And boy is Jonah special.

This particular column is one written in a response to an eariler column in which Keri supposedly claimed that the Yankees and Cubs would bounce back to have .500 seasons, that the main reason they were doing so poorly was because of bad luck. Well Jonah then launches into the fact that he has been criticized of almost every sort of bias imaginable because of the column:

I've also been accused at various times of East Coast Bias, West Coast Bias, or playing up the big-name, big-market teams, because those are the ones that get featured most prominently on "Baseball Tonight."

Ok, I have two issues with this. First, if you are a human being and you take the time to e-mail a columnist and accuse him of bias? You have too much time on your hands, and you are a loser. You're also a really huge loser if you watch enough Baseball Tonight, which has really turned into an intolerable show, to know which teams are featured more than others, you should really just forget about waking up tomorrow. Second, if you are a columnist and base your columns on addressing your biases or lack thereof based on reader e-mails? You do not understand why people read columns. If people wanted to read " Boston won, Kansas City lost, Cleveland won game four against the Pistons (hell yes!)" they would not read columns, they would read box scores. People want to read columns because they want more: they want opinions, and ususally those come with some bias.

This next paragraph makes me wish I didn't have retinas:

As the season goes on, I'll revisit many more discussions, to see where I went right and where I dropped the easy pop-up and blew the game (it's early, but the Yankees and Cubs are each 2-5 since I talked them up last week). Got an "I told you so" to pass along? Go for it -- your e-mails have been great and help generate story ideas on a weekly basis. But in doing so, please don't accuse me of being a Yankees or Red Sox fan. I freaking hate those guys. (Kidding!)

Kidding! Does this guy eat at Panderosa? Take a freaking stand! In order to shed his bias, Jonah gives us a list of ten of his random thoughts on baseball, and the leadoff thought is that Davey Johnson should replace Sam (Italian last name) as the Orioles manager. Nice job Jonah in picking a team that absolutely nobody gives a shit about to prove you don't have any bias.

Perlozzo isn't the issue in Baltimore: that division is. They don't have one element of the game that is the best in that division. They don't have the best rotation (Red Sox), lineup (Yankees or, if Yook keeps swining a scorching bat, the Red Sox), bullpen (Sox), defense (Blue Jays), or team speed (Devil Rays). Davey Johnson will not help this, nobody will. Peter Angelos is content to let his team wallow in the nothingness of the AL East ever since the MLB gave the go-ahead for the Washington Nationals to play in what Angelos considered "his area." The Orioles need a new owner, not a new manager.

Thats one point down, nine to go. Point two was about the Memorial Day Weekend series sweeps. That weekend is over by the way. Old news is tricky to write in columns, and it doesn't work here because there were too many, and it really serves no point to acknowedge them all. Describe a trend, note an occurance, but always have a calendar next to your computer when writing a column.

Points numbers 3, 8, 9, and 10 have to do with either the Yankees, Red Sox, or Barry Bonds. Those three items don't get talked too much about, and nobody has ever accused anyone who writes about them to be biased. (Kidding!)

Two other points focus on either how the Reds are bad at defense, which isn't earth shattering considering they always have been, but only last year was it news because they were able to overcome it and contend for the NL Central even into the last week of the season. This year they are god awful, so where's the story? This just in: The worst team in the National League is bad at defense. Wonderful. The other point is how the Rangers should pack it in, and after they are done doing that they should give up on the season (rimshot). Great, two points on how the worst team in each league is bad and isn't getting better. Didn't take much to dig these two up.

The last two points focus on how the Astros can get better (well done) and who could contend for Rookie of the Year honors in a field that is pretty thin (also well done). Two points out of ten are relevant, non-biased, good work. That then is the score I give him. Jonah Keri: 2 out of 10.


UPDATED: Quack Quack Quack, Mr. Ducksworth (see bottom of post)

So I get back to...wherever it is I work...after a three day weekend and the first thing I read is Teeple bashing the Mighty Ducks? FOR SHAME! You go to hell, Paul, you go to hell and you die.

Hitting the Ducks (movie version, not real life) like that should be a blog misconduct. I'll leave it for the commenters (all of whom are either me, Paul or Jed) to decide whether or not to drop Teeple like he's a big Icelandic defender and we're Kenny Woo in the second period of the Gold Medal Game.

A few other quips, though, because those movies are ridiculously hard to believe...

*How many roughing/instigation/fighting/boarding/too many men/roping (???)/unsportsmanlike conduct calls would the Bash Bros. (Portman, Reed, Woo and that retarded hick, not too mention Connie Moreau (who looked dynamite in both the Ducks and in "Wet Hot American Summer") have gotten in that second period? Surely Iceland could have scored a bit more in the 5+ minutes left in the period when they all went in the sin bin...

*Like the World Champs to Eden Hall JV squad, how does a Minnesota CITY championship team all get on the NATIONAL roster for the Junior Goodwill Games? Sure, they brought in Julie "The Cat" (!!) Gafney, the retarded hick mentioned above and that cholo from Miami, but still.

*Seriously, how many freakin' Scandanavians does it take to run a skate shop?

*And finally, anyone notice the wonderful cameo by Christina Miller-Lawrence (played Kate in "Drew Carey" and Jordan Sullivan on "Scrubs") as the waitress at Bombay's Bombass party in DII? Deidrich Bader would be proud.

Okay, those movies are bullshit, but I'll put that trilogy up against The Matrix or LOTR (fuck you, Peter Jackson. Next time, trilogy "The Frighteners") any day of the week, any month of the year.

Anyway, I've done nothing today at work so back to it. Remember all you new Ducks and old Ducks:

"Take the fall!
Act hurt!
Fire Teeple!"

Update: This post needed it some pics of Connie Moreau, the ice queen who stole our hearts. She's not a girl; she's a Duck! Quality leaves something to be desired, but Websense sucks, so deal with it and search for yourself. Here's her fan club link; kind of creepy, like something I would make and the members are BATSHIT INSANE! CHECK OUT SOME OF THEIR CREATIVE FICTION ON THE SITE.......THERE'LL BE MORE ON THIS TOMORROW, YOU CAN BET ON THAT.


What the Hell Does Rant Mean?

I was listening to ESPN Radio on the way home from a trip to NE Ohio this weekend and Colin Cowherd (that gorgeous stack of pancakes to the right) was doing his usually enjoyable show and, as I do from time to time, I decided to listen in and I joined the show midway through a "discussion", and I use the word very loosely, about the Michael Vick dogfight "story", and I use that word very, very loosely. Colin Cowherd, who is no slouch himself when it comes to making sure his opinion is the be all end all (and I usually agree with a lot of what he says), wanted to make sure that everyone listening knew that he thought that Michael Vick and anyone else involved with dogfighting of any kind were, to steal a phrase that one of the callers in most likely stole from somewhere else, oxygen-stealers. There was no other point that could be made. These people deserved to be hung up and put on display as the most despicable people in the human race. And I agree.

But isn't there ANYTHING else worth talking about in the world right now?

To me, this is like the Duke Lacrosse scandal of last year (and I'd like to thank Jed for turning me around on this one). That was not a sports story. That kind of thing should have been covered in the Metro section of the local paper. But ESPN decided, in their infinite and crowd-displeasing wisdom, that Roger Cossack needed a few extra appearances on Sportscenter, so they brought him in to do commentary and a rape claim went from the Metro section to the Front Page in no time. A legal story was all of the sudden a sports story and all of the sudden, rape allegations against college students were being treated like, and given equal airtime as, the Red Sox winning the series in 2004. The same is happening now with Vick. Dogfighting didn't start and end with Mike Vick, but now that we have a very recognizable face for it, ESPN and their people (read: Cowherd) can now defame the practice and participants as if it were breaking news. Put it in perspective: A dogfighting ring was just broken up outside of Columbus and Michael Vick probably wasn't even involved. Says the Worldwide Leader: snore.

Look, I am an animal lover, particularly dogs, and I'm not saying it is good or that Vick doesn't deserve some kind of punishment for this dogfighting business that was literally in his backyard, but in the grand scheme of things, aren't there more important things or worse things? Colin Cowherd remarked that, and I'm paraphrasing, it is sick (SICK) that people subject their kids to things like this and it ruins people and that there are FBI studies that say people involved in dogfighting statistically are more likely to commit violent crime. All because two animals who walk on four legs and have brains the size of peanuts fight. Hmmm...

PacMan Jones and his crew pour money on an exotic dance floor and then shoot a bouncer, paralyzing him. Chris Henry has more substance abuse violations than games played. And, my favorite, guns don't kill people, but maybe Tank Johnson's arsenal will.

So the crux of my argument is that Cowherd should have shut the fuck up. It isn't like he was really begging for stories that day. It was Memorial Day weekend! There were two races, 7 away-team series sweeps, a killer basketball game in Cleveland, a playoff in golf and, if nothing else, a Cheese Race. And aside from that, all I'm trying to say is that if the focus of a sports show wants to veer off the field, then maybe the hierarchy should begin with people putting other PEOPLE in danger, and end with people putting ANIMALS in danger.

Rant over.

Also, Need4Sheed has been removed from the sidebar because they're morons. And so are their commenters. The comments on the recap of game 3, which I'm sure Paul will cover later today here (aside to Paul: right??) complained about making LeBron's dunk over Rasheed Wallace the #1 play of the night or whatever, with the defense of the comments being that Sheed didn't actually jump up and try to defend the dunk. So, what, are you calling your player, the namesake of the blog on which you're posting, lazy? Sheed went up to play D. He did. And he failed. If the Cavs can go ahead and win this series, that is what I call the turning point and I will gladly turn the screen shot of that bad ass dunk into a life-size poster. I hate Detroit fans. more...

Something Completely Different

I'd like to take some time and build off a concept that Kopech touched on in his post this morning (by the way- in lieu of firing me perhaps we could just halve my pay?): the movie trilogy. There are some movie trilogies out there that flat-out rule and there are some out there that are a huge disappointment. Then there are some that aren't trilogies at all but are long-running movie franchises and sometimes you get a two-movie story arc. I wanted to briefly look at all of these and classify them. So without further ado...


  • Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi -- The original Star Wars trilogy is in a class by itself and really needs no explanation as to why it is just so goddamn good.
  • James Bond -- There are infinity billion movies in this series and there have been plenty that have sucked (Die Another Day, The World Is Not Enough, Tomorrow Never Dies, View To a Kill, The Man With the Golden Gun) but the really good ones (From Russia With Love, Thunderball, Diamonds Are Forever, On Her Majesty's Secret Service, The Spy Who Loved Me, Goldeneye, Casino Royale) have more than made 007 one of cinema's greatest series.
  • The Godfather, The Godfather Part II -- These two also go without saying. I am excluding The Godfather Part III from this list for reasons that are equally obvious.
  • Rocky I-IV -- Under the rules set forth by Godfather Part III, you're allowed to ignore the final movie (or two) in a series if the movies that preceded it (/them) kicked ass. See: Rocky.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles I-II (live action) -- Another movie that had a final sequel omitted thanks to the Godfather Rules.
  • Clerks, Mallrats, Chasing Amy, Dogma, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Clerks II -- Kevin Smith's Jersey Shore series was just amazing: great dialogue, deep characters, dick and fart jokes... what more could you ask for?
  • Back To The Future -- So good it's unfair.
  • Indiana Jones -- Ditto.
  • Kill Bill vols 1 & 2 -- These will go down as Tarantino's masterpiece.
  • National Lampoon's Vacation -- Still one of the most underrated sets of comedy movies of all time. I can't get over how under-appreciated these flicks are.
  • The Mighty Ducks 1-3 -- See below.
  • Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, Revenge of the Sith -- These movies were freaking garbage. Please don't get me started.
  • Scary Movie 1-249, Epic Movie, Date Movie, etc. -- Don't get me wrong, I'm one of the world's greatest fans of parody but if you're going to parody something, please make sure that you're funny first. These movies all sucked something terrible and weren't even remotely funny.
  • Scream -- Y'know what? Let's just throw all the new horror movie series in here. Saw, Hostel, I Know What You Did Last Summer, Final Destination... crap, crap, crap, crap, crap.
  • The Lord of the Rings -- Never saw 'em, never will. I defer to Kopech on this one.
  • Harry Potter -- Same as above, though my sources tell me that Snape kills Dumbledore.
  • Bridget Jones' Diary -- These almost certainly belong in the "suck" category but that would not be fair as I was born with (and still have) a penis and therefore will never even consider watching any of these movies. It sort of like how I'm almost positive that Sex and the City sucks but I'll never know for sure since I'd rather give myself lasik with a rusty hand drill than watch that show.
  • Caddyshack -- The archetypal movie arc of this category. The first was one of the greatest movies of all time while the second was a steaming pile of feces.
  • American Pie -- Started off with a bang by showing us Shannen Elizabeth's breasts and then just devolved into Jason Biggs and Sean William Scott repeatedly humiliating themselves on celluloid.
  • Slap Shot -- See Caddyshack. Slap Shot is one of my favorite movies ever (#6 and climbing on my all-time list), but if I ever meet the ass-clown that green-lighted Slap Shot 2... violence.
Your thoughts welcomed in the comments. more...

Monday, May 28, 2007

Thankfully the Mighty has Fallen

By: Paul Teeple

One season ago, Anaheim quietly bowed out of the NHL conference finals to a red-hot cinderella Edmonton Oilers squad and even more quietly made one of the greatest karmic moves in the history of professional organized sports: they changed their name from the Mighty Ducks to simply the Ducks.

Why, you might ask, is this such an important change that it might spin the wheels of karma in favor of a team whose identity in the new millennium is largely based on an inability to get over the hump and win a title? It's quite simple, really:

"The Mighty Ducks" cinematic trilogy is TERRIBLE. All told, it could comprise the worst sports movie storyline of our generation. At best, it is the worst hockey movie storyline.

Not even REMOTELY intimidating.
When the Mighty Ducks were in the Cup Finals in 2003, everywhere you went you heard the movie references: Paul Kariya as Charlie Conway, J.S. Giguere as Goldberg the Goalie, Mike Babcock as Gordon Bombay, etc. And with ESPN and ABC holding the television rights to the playoffs, I mean, hey, why not? Free corporate synergy with a Disney movie (NOW AVAILABLE ON DVD!!) and a Disney-owned team!

Then during the lockout Henry Samueli bought the franchise from The Mouse for pennies on the dollar and thought to himself halfway through the season, "holy crap, my team is named after a bunch of god-awful movies! Time for a change!" A change that made sense because, I mean, would you want your $50 million investment to be associated with a 'hockey story' that involved the following elements:

  • Gordon Bombay as a youth -- Hans says, "You scored 196 goals that season." I'm sorry, WHAT?!? 196 goals? In one season? Are you kidding me? The standard youth hockey league plays 20-25 games in a season. Making a special dispensation because Minneapolis is positively psychotic about hockey, we'll say the Hawks played 40 games that year counting the playoffs. Doing some quick math, that's roughly 5 goals per game. I will repeat that: FIVE GOALS PER GAME. If Gordon was scoring at such a frightening clip, he would've never had a chance to miss that triple deke; he'd be applying for early entry into the major junior ranks so he could throw in some chaw with the boys at age 13. Not only that, but the supposedly invincible Hawks must've had some piss-poor defense to squander those 5 Bombay goals for Gordy to have to hit that penalty shot in the movie open.

  • Adam Banks -- Noone knew what district the best player in the league lived in. I know D5 was a total gongshow before Coach Bombay whipped that ragtag bunch into shape but let's remember that we're talking about youth sports here, even in the early 90's parents were total Loony Tunes about their kids in organized competition (I should know, that's when I was playing little league hockey). I was always surprised that no crazy asshat hockey dad (or mom) from the Cardinals or the Flames or something made a big stink to try and get the best player off the best team to try and give his kid's team a better chance to win a city title.

  • The Flying V -- The most famous play of the Mighty Ducks trilogy featured the five Ducks on the ice lining up in an inverted "V" shape and skating up the ice in tight formation en route to a huge goal. Unfortunately, sports fans, the Flying V is patently illegal at every level of hockey. First off, players without the puck in the Flying V generally set picks on or just flat-out level opposing players that near the formation. Most zebras refer to this tactic as "Interference," a two-minute penalty. Second, in the Flying V's debut, Terry Hall carries the puck into the zone on the Ducks' goal. What's the big deal, you ask? Terry's brother Jesse Hall was the Duck who led the Flying V. That's right, boys and girls, the Flying V was offside.

  • Believability also stops here.
  • Team Iceland -- This is pretty self-explanatory. Despite being the homeland of legendary strongman Magnus ver Magnusson Iceland has never been considered even an outside threat in the world of hockey. Sure, they may dominate fellow hockey superpower Trinidad and Tobago (pictured, left, in their killer jerseys) at the Goodwill Games, but can we realistically expect Iceland to hang when a real country's hockey team shows up?

  • International Mighty Ducks -- This is ridiculous. Team USA is mysteriously allowed to not only go from wearing blue to white jerseys between periods of a gold medal game, but also completely change their logo and jersey color palate. If I were Wolf Stansson I would've been howling at the referees to make them put their regular jerseys back on and penalize them for delay of game.

  • The Timeout -- In said gold medal game, Gordon Bombay employs some old-fashioned Imposing Water Fowl trickeration by disguising knucklepuck specialist Russ Tyler as a goaltender so that Iceland could not mark up on him to prevent him from taking his lethal shot. Nota bene: hockey timeouts are one minute long. Sixty seconds. At a youth level it takes players roughly a half hour to get dressed, usually longer for goalies. So, Hollywood, you expect me to believe that two players can trade equipment, especially goalie equipment during a timeout? Spare me.

  • The Knucklepuck -- This is a minor gripe, but I found it amusing that this shot spawned its own Wikipedia page. From the article:
    In the movie, the knuckle puck somehow sails through the air along a physically impossible sine-curve, causing the opposing team to stare in confusion as the puck whizzes by them and into the net. In reality, hitting the puck from the side as Russ does results in a disappointing shot that bounces chaotically and stops after a few feet.

    And yet it sailed through the air in the gold medal game sequence roughly 190 feet. Riiiight.

  • Eden Hall Academy -- I have such a problem with this concept that I've never watched the entire third movie of the Mighty Ducks trilogy. You take the core of a team that is a world champion--a world champion!--and send them to high school and they can't make the varsity squad, save for Banks? I understand that the school in the movie is loosely based on Minnesota hockey super-factory Shattuck-Saint Mary's but these kids, for better or worse, are world champions... and they're all on JV! I can't watch this movie. I... I just can't.

This guy is smart.
What about suspension of disbelief, Teeple, you ask? It's the cornerstone of cinematic consumption! Look, I'm all about suspension of disbelief. I sat through the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie for 8 hours and went along with the fact that somewhere, some time, there was a French pirate lord that was feared worldwide. I believed Keanu Reeves could be an action star in The Matrix. I walked into Spiderman 3 thinking it wouldn't suck total ass. But I can only suspend my disbelief so far and The Mighty Ducks just pushed me way too far.

Henry Samueli is clearly the same way. As such, he renamed his team to the Ducks and here they sit, three wins away from reaching the pinnacle of their sport; a team that has historically struggled to reach the ultimate prize--no longer.

Today I salute you, Mr. Samueli: your brilliant branding decision has delivered the Ducks to history's doorstep by harnessing the universal power of karma. Ducks in six. more...

Live Blog... San Antonio v. Utah Second Half

I figured I would give this a try, just to see how hard/fun it is. I am in SUCH a bad mood after the Tribe just got hosed in Fenway, but oh well. All times Eastern Standard.

10:33-- Greg Popovich just told Michelle Tafoya they need to do a good job rebounding in the second half. Awesome.

10:34-- Deron Williams draws a foul on Bruce Bowen. Willams is OWNING Bowen in this series, doing things that Steve Nash couldn't do... this kid is going to be the next great point guard for sure. Lookforward to me stroking him all second half.

10:38- Andrei Kirilinko heading to the line, makes one of two. Don't feel bad for him though, he still gets one gal a year.

10:39- Willams to Carlos Boozer for a deuce... talk about the second coming of Stockton Malone, these two guys will single handedly keep Utah in the playoffs for the next 10 years

10:42- Refs make the correct call in awarding the ball to the Spurs. I tell you what, it seems to me that the refs this postseason in the NBA have really done a dencet job. The refs have stopped letting these crybabies walk all over them this year. Now I know they have had some rough calls in the Cavs- Pistons series, but I think that the refs are stating to assert themselves again for the first time in years.

10:44- Commercial time, and none of them will be Tyler Perry's House of Payne. Fantastic. I can't tell you how not funny that show looks and it hurts to watch the Cavs because of those commercials. You know it has to be bad when a cable network waits until the summer to give it a whirl.

10:48- Boozer just destroyed Tim Duncan and then dropped an 8 foot bunny on the other end. Man am I pissed he left Cleveland, but you have to respect the way the guy plays the game. May go down as the best pro player out of Duke, you just watch.

10:50: Marc Jackson just ruined the repay of the Boozer swat... I tried not to listen, but I think he threw in at least two "big fellas"

10:51-- There were just two awful comments, one by Mike Breen, the other by Jeff Van Gundy. Breen just said that Duncan likes to quiet a home crowd as the place was going NUTS... he then had to follow it up by correcting himself... then JVG just said that Stockton way will have to be re-named Stockton-Williams way, as if there is only one street in Utah.

10:59- End of the third, and Utah is back in this one. The ball is in Tony Parker's court in the fourth, because Williams is asserting himself as the best point guard in this game.

11:00- Katherine Heigl looks amazing in this movie "Knocked Up" how does the studio expect us to believe that the dude from the 40 year old version scored her? Not buying it. And theres no way he would be lucky enough to slip one past the goalie with her.

11:04- JVG: "This unit for Utah has to find some way to score the ball" I wonder why Houston fired him as thier head coach?

11:05- Jerry Sloan gets T'ed up... a delayed reaction to the Bryon Russel no-call I can only assume.

11:06- Matt Harpring hits a fader, he's also one heck of an engineer.

11:08- Can someone explain to me why Jacque Vaughn is in the game right now for the Spurs? You don't see the Cavs playing Scot Pollard right now. Come on, get serious... I'd rather play with four.

11:12- Commercial. We're getting dangerously close to Tim Duncan time. He's done it before, and he has about three or four more years left to do it. This Boozer-Duncan matchup is fun to watch, because both men think they can get it done against the other. The question is: can Boozer actually stare Tim Duncan down? Many of great caliber have tried, and very few have actually done it.

11:15- How bad does Mike Breen want to say "Oh boy! Oberto with the lay-in!"

11:17- Jazz are imploding because too many people who aren't Deron Williams are trying to make things happen. And as I type this, Williams makes a sweet dish to AK-47.Oh and by the way, is there a player other than john Salley that doesn't deserve his rings more than Derek Fisher? He has never been better than maybe a six on the talent scale. In fact, the only thing I can remember him doing is burying that floater with .4 left against the Spurs while he was a Laker. Thats the equivalent of the Dave Roberts steal for the Red Sox, except Fisher milked that play for three rings, not just one. Awful.

11:24- Duncan is owning Boozer, he is now shooting his fifth and sixth free throws of the quarter. I'll give it to this Utah crowd... they are still right in this game even though I am pretty much writing off thier teams chances.

11:25- Derek Fisher just fouled Manu Manu while shooting a three. Someone get Jerry buss on the phone, he needs to pry that ring off of his baby mama's finger.

11:26- Finally, Williams deciding to assert himself and take the ball ahrd to the lane. Marc Jackson just pointed out for probably the fifth time in two minutes that the Spurs are forcing Willams to make mistakes. We get it.

11:28- The Spurs are just so savvy, they know how to win games, they are simply asseting themselves on the offensive end, getting to the free throw line, and dominating on the boards.

11:29- Derek Fisher just got a technical. Wow, I mean when I'm right, I'm right.

11:31- Linda Cohn hosting the show tonight, looks like I'm going to HBO On Demand.

11:32- Jerry Sloan gets tossed from the game. Pretty ridiculous how the Spurs really are just owning the Jazz right now. You can say what you want about how all thier guys play dirty and how Tim Duncan's underratedness is overrated, but this team is calculating in their execution. I mean, Mehmet Okur just fouled Oberto with three ticks left to go on the shot clock. This right now is like being Keiser Soze and just watching everyone else go nuts around you while you remain cool and collected. The Spurs are Kevin Spacy right now.

11:37- Derek Fisher just got tossed! Did I really just do that to him?! He just dropped the coffee cup right now after he just saw that the blackboard was made in Skokie.

11:38- Ahhh those cute Mormons give us the old "refs you suck" chant. Gotta love the effort. Dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb

11:40- Michelle Tayfoya gets no post game interview as the Jazz fans are throwing "debris" on the court. We have a phrase for that in Clevelnad: third quarter.

Well, that's it! It was a good time doing my first live blog, and quite an experience watching the Spurs just own the fourth quarter. This series is essentially over, but Utah fans have a lot to look forward to with the Williams-Boozer combo. I'll catch you tomorrow with a little Cavs game four preview as only I could bring it to you. more...

With Apologies to ESPN Classic...

As a staunch Cleveland Cavaliers fan, I am happy to see that the Cavs have at least made a series of this Eastern Conference finals, winning game three by staving off a late Piston run, on the back of Lebron James, who hit some very tough shots down the stretch to gave the Q faithful something to cling to. It has become apparent that win or lose, this series, win on lose, will most dramatically effect how Lebron, above everyone else on either team, is remembered this off-season. I can't stand it, it just isn't fair. This kid is one of the top five players in the league, but that is never good enough for the media, and it never will be.

Now, I know the series isn't over, and that the Cavs should really be winning this series considering how badly the Piston backcourt is playing, but I present to you, in the first of a continuing Monday segment, the Top Five Reasons you can't blame Lebron James for losing to the Detroit Pistons.

5. The Dwayne Wade factor.
This guy kind of ruined for all young superstars. He was the leader of the Miami Heat team that won the Championship a year ago, and played remarkably. If you look back on the regular seasons Wade had last year and Lebron had this year, the results are remarkable.

Wade's line last year: 27.2 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 6.7 APG

Lebron this year: 27.3 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 6.0 APG

Pretty damn similar. So, what was the difference? Without a question, it was Shaquille O'Neal. Shaq during the regular season last year averaged about six more points as Wade's number two than Lebron's number two did, Larry Hughes. For those of you who will say that six points is pretty negligible, I would contend that number one it isn't, and number two, the two games that the Cavs have lost so far in the Eastern Conference finals? You guessed it, a combined 6 points. Also, last year in the playoffs, the Miami Heat only had one game--one game!-- where they scored less than 80 points, the Cavs this year have two in this series alone. The Shaq factor is even bigger when you consider how you have to account for him on every offensive series. The Cavs cannot claim that they have someone of a similar caliber.

In addition to Shaq, Wade led a group of players that were hungry. Antoine Walker, who was written off as a failure after not leading the Celtics to thier 17th world championship. Gary Payton, at one time the best point guard in the game, a player that had come so close to tasting the Larry O'Brien trophy at the height of his career in Seattle. Alonzo Mourning, the face of the Miami Heat, whose return to the NBA after his health issues meant only one thing: he wanted to win the big one. The Cavs have Donyell Marshall. Oh, and would you rather have Mike Brown, or Pat Riley leading your team? Thought so.

Lebron and Wade will always be measured together, along with Carmelo Anthony, since they were all taken within two picks of each other in 2003. Wade set the bar for for the other two, but taking a closer look as we just did will make you realize that Wade wasn't the one man wrecking machine he is sometimes made out to be.

4. The State of the NBA
This is not your father's NBA, or even your older brothers. There also is a transition currently happening in the NBA that puts a premium on athleticism more than ever before. It was back in the 80's if you would have a player like Magic Johnson, you would almost always be in the Finals, if not winning the Championship every year, because he was leaps and bounds ahead of anyone athletically in the game at that time. Now? There is no one player that can dominate a game like Magic, or MJ did, because there is just so much more athletic talent spread out across the league. For example, look at what the Warriors did to the Mavericks. How did they win that series? Better athletes. The talent pool is deeper now. The problem is that even though this is true, there are still those that look to Lebron or Kobe or whoever to be the next overarching mega-superstar. Kobe Bryant went for more than 50 a crazy number of times this year and not a single human being with a brain picked the Lakers over the Suns this year in the playoffs. The superstars in this league, and those that will follow will always be playing in the shadows of players who played during a time where having a big time center was the order of the day, and those teams that had a player with great athleticism could overcome a team that had a Ewing or a Hakeem. The league has changed, the legends still linger.

3. Mike Brown

This guy has no idea how to run a NBA squad. He is an exalted assistant coach who should no have the responsibility of coaching one of the greatest players of the day. Now I could get into all of his faults, which are many, but I would like to maybe just point out that all great superstars that have won Championships have been led by Hall of Fame coaches. Riley got magic and Wade thier rings, Phil Jackson got it done for Michael, Shaq, and Kobe. Red Auerbach was pulling all the strings for those great Celtic teams in the 80's. And Gregg Popovich, who has a better playoff winning percentange than any of the coaches I just mentioned, is on his way to leading Tim Duncan to his third ring. Charles Barkley never made it to the promised land. Why? You tell me... can you name the coach who led the Suns to the '93 finals? Paul Westphal. Now I can see the chicken and the egg argument, but lets just say that I'm pretty sure it is a no brainer the Cavs fans would feel a lot more comefortable with a Hall of Fame coach pacing the sidelines, rather than one who is as unproven as the players he is coaching.

2. His teammates

Jordan was the most talented player ever to grace an NBA floor, and everyone knows that he had Scottie Pippen that made that team legitimate. But you know who else Jordan had? He had other players on his teams who knew what their roles were. John Paxon hit the game winning shot to beat the Suns, Steve Kerr did the same things to drop the Jazz. These were two players who knew why they were on the team, and knew that when they were called upon, they were expected to execute. Too many Cavs think that they can just allow Lebron to take all of the blame, with the caveat that he gets all of the credit as well. Now, Jordan had a reputation of instilling fear into the hearts of his teammates if they didn't succeed for him. Lebron doesn't have that, but in no way should he be held responsible for Larry Hughes missing a six footer or Donny Marshall not nailing a wide open three. These players are older than him, and they are also professional basketball players that shouldn't need Lebron James' motivation to do something they are paid millions to do. There is nobody on this team that really plays with any type of consistency. The crew around Wade and MJ, as mentioned were far superior.
1. Cleveland
This city is so hungry for a title, so desperate for a taste of glory, yet so used to being dissapointed. It has been well documented, and re-hashed over and over again. Detriot is a familiar foe, and all things being equal, they tend to beat the Cavs. Cavs fans know this, and can become disheartened very quickly when ti comes to the support of the team. The Game five crowd for the Nets game was pathetic. Lebron is expected to not only raise this team, but also this city, all while dealing with an inferior team, coach and-- oh yeah-- the Pistons. Lebron has a lot fo growing up to do and his best years are still ahead of him, I just hope that some of the blame can be spread out among the peasants in King James' court.