Friday, June 12

Another Friday, Another Set of Random Thoughts

Yesterday as I was washing dishes I took a gander outside my kitchen window and bam! A bolt of lightning exploded in my backyard. I was temporarily blinded and startled near the point of confusion by the boom as well. After the incident I have decided that flash grenades really are effective methods of combat, not just in FPSs. Unfortunately the strike messed up some of the electronics in the house, so this weekend I will attempt to become an electrician and fix them. After the break I wax unpoetically on events of the past week; mainly the Finals game from last night, Raul Ibanez, Mark Sanchez, and whatever floats into my brain while I punch the keys.

Magic better start with the Man in the Mirror

There comes a point where you cannot blame a loss on inexperience, it is not because you "haven't been there before", it is because you made systematic mistakes that just more than likely cost you a ring. First off, Stan Van Gundy knows more about basketball than I ever will, so questioning his moves is a bit like some local villager walking into the Sistine Chapel and telling Michelangelo, "Dude, I would go less with the cherubs and more with the pointing bearded guys." However, this is what is great about this medium we now use and peruse, opinion can be delivered from any source, no matter how smart or foolish and it can choose to be looked at and discussed or completely ignored. Mine will fall into the latter, but this is not being written from my mother's basement (we have crawl spaces here in North Carolina) and I am actually educated (Master's degree in Sport Studies) so take that grumpy old men in a dying medium. I told you I was going stream of consciousness on this folks.

Trying to get back to the issue, Van Gundo clearly differs with me in theory when it comes to Jameer Nelson. I love Jameer, love him. Rooted real hard for him and Delonte at St. Joe's but the guy has been out since before the All-Star break. No real, live game action for months and all of a sudden on the biggest stage with the most at stake he is inserted into the lineup. Not only is he getting some minutes, he played 26 last night. After game 1 the Gundo admitted he played Jameer too much. Now Nelson has not been atrocious but in my mind you do not suddenly jumble up a line-up that has brought you to the Finals and ousted the league's best team by record in the previous round. If anything, I would only play Nelson for a couple minutes at a time and if any garbage time comes along. He is a part of the team and you give him some minutes but he should not be in there getting the game-tying 3-pointer made on him.

Speaking of the 3-pointer, for the longest time I was not a proponent of fouling when you are up 3 to prevent the tie, but I have started to come around. Until basketball finds a way to deal with intentional fouls to trade free-throws for possesions, this strategy will remain integral to endgame stratagem. The Magic did right by getting the ball out of Kobe's hands but as we saw with Memphis a year ago, you cannot let the shot off. Funny how in that game as in last night's missed free-throws led to the great shot, but more on that in a moment. There is so much time off between series and games within the series nowadays that you should know absolutely everything about your opponent. Orlando should be aware that Fish is capable of stuff like this:

I don't know what my favorite part is: sad Bruce Bowen or sad Kevin Willis. Anyway, Fish getting that shot off sucked all the air out of the Amway and assured his place in Finals history if it had not been secured already.

Now we come to the free-throw line and pardon me if I beat a horse that has been dead for some time. 22-37, I will repeat, 22-37. That is simply inexcusable. I used to be decent for a white guy back in high school, I had my moments but lack of play in recent years has led me to the status of suck when it comes to playing the game of basketball. Yet, if you gave me 37 shots from the line, I bet the whole ranch I would make more than 22 of them. I know people will say, well they were pressure free-throws on the biggest stage. I'm calling bull, because these are professionals that are getting paid seven figures while unemployment in the country is heading for 10% and their job in life at the moment is basketball. With all pressure, bright lights, crowd noise (even though this game was in Orlando) and fatigue of playing the game, those shots should be automatic. Some will bounce out sure, but they are free shots, free points and when you miss them you cost your team the game. I am not here to completely dump on Dwight, the man is a beast but just one of those last two would have put the game to two possessions. Just one, that's 50% of the free-throws, but Dwight shot 42.8% for the game. Doubt I could make those free-throws? Meet me at the nearest court, I don't care if its double rim, the BDL. Perhaps it was fitting that Nick Anderson was on the mic before the game, just saying.

The Raul Dilemma

Congratulations to Raul Ibanez for hitting the game-winning home run for the Phillies to beat my beloved Mets and take the series 2-1 at Citi. You may have heard about the uproar over an article written by blogger Jerod Morris on the site Midwest Sports Fans. This all stemmed from a writer from Philly Inquirer asking Ibanez about steroid allegations and using the blog post as a reference. Another writer for the Inquirer had written an article referencing the post. Ibanez did what anyone should do if they are innocent when posed this question: he denied and said that he could be tested by whatever means available. Bravo Raul, and I tend to believe he is clean, even though he is 37 and has 21 homers already this season. The part of Ibanez's response I did not care for was taking shots at the blogger and using the tried and true "mom's basement" statement. Morris never intended the article be anything more than a search statistically for why Ibanez was flourishing at his age. Most newspaper types are so quick to discredit the blogosphere but yet they use posts such as this one as fuel to write articles and ask players how they feel about them. This was not even a fly-by-seat-of-pants article, Morris went to bnumbers, even if he did not go as far in-depth as he wanted to. His appearance on OTL was merely a chance for the old guard to parade him out there and then bash him unequivicoably. Morris did not deserve the heat he got, but this is the reality of media and their feelings towards blogs, and it is not going to change no matter how much newspapers fade away. There will always be a 'traditional' media whether it is TWWL or other TV or writers online who scoff at the notion that they be known as bloggers. Joe Posnanski describes this whole situation more eloquently than I at

Getting back to Raul, again I applaud him for being so vehement against PED allegations but as a 37 year-old athlete who is finding success on the diamond, he should not be shocked by those who question the cleanliness of his offensive output. It is not his fault and again by most people's indications he has not taken any PED during his career but look at what has happened in baseball over the last decade. Bonds, Mcguire, Ramirez, Rodriguez, Clemens, Palmiero, are a few of the players of the highest caliber that either tested positve or are just about as guilty without conviction as you can get. After the Mitchell report and the 2004 test in which A-Rod was pegged it is clear that steroids were (are?) part of baseball for at least the last 15 or so years. It is here where the origins of the accusations of Ibanez lie, not with Jarod Morris. That's why you are getting questioned Raul, not because some guy in the basement wanted to call you out and get on ESPN. It is how the players of the highest caliber fueled some of the great performances we have seen in baseball history. So from now on, players should expect to get questioned and if they look on the bright side, it means they are doing well, because no one thinks Big Papi is on roids this season.

Marky Mark and the Cocky Bunch

Mark Sanchez just inked a huge contract with the Jets with about $28 million in guaranteed money. Personally I hope the Jets are wrong about how enamoured they are with the former Trojan QB, but the New York media and the organization seems to have fallen in sweet sweet love with him. I do not see how his arrival is any different that Matt Leinhart's was a few years ago. Both failed to win the national title in their last year at USC, both were media darlings going into and coming out of the draft, both are linked to attractive women, and both had superior offensive lines and tremendous athletes around them which in my opinion will not prepare them for life in the NFL. Sanchez may be loved now but he has 4 games against the Dolphins and Patriots defense and the entire NFC South. Let's see how he does 8 weeks into the season when they are into their bye week. Let's see if he gets them into the playoffs? Catfish seems sold that they will indeed make the playoffs and foresees Joe Flacco-like numbers once they get there. This is all well and good but if there is something that the QB classes of the past 5 years have shown us, it is foolish to make bold predictions about the young arms until they go out on the field and prove it. Luckily for Sanchez, he is not all they are talking about in Jersey, Rex Ryan and Bart Scott have been jawing it up to the media and within the division. Good stuff and right there, just got that twang of longing for football season to get here.

Well that is all I have for now. Oh yeah, there is a game 7 tonight so that should be fun.

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