Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Morris Almond...Almost.

Quick hit from the Las Vegas Summer League, where NBA bloggers enjoy better access to players and personnel than at any point during the season that counts. I, of course, will be following along from home and contributing snark where appropriate.

The Las Vegas Summer League is a place where the unknowns and also-rans have a chance to make a name for themselves against first round draft picks. The games are all about high-octane offense and highlight dunks. Consider it a cross between And1 streetball and the NBDL. While fouls are counted, players cannot foul out of games. This makes for a pick-up basketball atmosphere.

One of the also-rans in Vegas this summer is Morris Almond, a former first rounder from Rice. He was drafted in 2007 by the Utah Jazz with the 25th pick. Almond was a deadly shooter in college (26.1 points per game his senior year) and seemed like a strong candidate to play a Kyle Korver type role in the NBA.  Unfortunately, it has not worked out that way. Almond played atrocious defense and when he got the ball in his hands on the wing, he thought one thing only: nylon! Jerry Sloan is not a big fan of me-first shooters and Almond is not a guy who gives up the rock once he has it in his hands. Not much has changed in the time spent in the D-League. Once there, he was chucking away, posting 50-point-plus games. He eventually worked his way to Spain and then back to the NBDL.

 Now he has signed with the Chicago Bulls to play on their Vegas team. What are the chances he impresses and makes the squad? He will impress because he will score; that is what Morris Almond does. He will not make the team. How do I know? Because the Chicago Bulls told everyone this when they released their Summer League team roster yesterday. H/T ShamSports:

Monday, July 5, 2010

Kobayashi Starved in Jail

World champion eater Takeru Kobayashi has been freed on bail after spending a harrowing and abusive night in a New York jail. We wrote yesterday that Kobayashi was arrested while trying to participate in Famous Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest. While world cried out for organizers to "let him eat!" he was shackled and hustled away.

The shameful treatment didn't end there. According to wire reports, Kobayashi was nearly starved to death during his jail time.

Kobayashi told reporters he had a sandwich and a glass of milk while being held.

"I am very hungry," he said. "I wish there were hot dogs in jail."

One sandwich? Let's do the math:

One sandwich = 1.2 hot dogs (conversely, 1 hot dog = 80% of one sandwich)
Last year, Kobayashi consumed 64.5 hot dogs in 10 minutes, thus eats 6.45 dogs/minute
6.45 x 0.8  =  5.16 sandwiches per minute
60 seconds ÷ 5.16 sandwiches = 11.6 seconds.

The six-time recipient of the Mustard Belt ate for a scant 11.6 seconds during his time in jail? This man once went jowl to jowl against a grizzly bear. He needs more than a skimpy sandwich to get through the night. I smell a lawsuit here.

This is how New York City's lawyers will feel once Kobayashi's attorneys are through with them.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Fall From Greatness: Takeru Kobayashi Arrested

There was special drama today at the Famous Nathan's Hot Dog Eating contest on Coney Island. It wasn't the competition itself where Joey Chestnut retained his championship after eating 54 tubes of lips and assholes in ten minutes, besting his nearest rival by nine dogs. That's four years in a row for Chestnut for those of you counting at home. Clearly the drama wasn't from Chestnut and the also-rans. Rather, it came in the form of Takeru Kobayashi,  the six-time former champion who made an appearance after the competition and was arrested by New York's finest.

Kobayashi did not participate in the contest this year as he refuses to sign an exclusive contract with Major League Eating, saying he wants to be free to compete in contests not promoted by the organization. He took his case to the people by gate-crashing Nathan's and was promptly arrested by the police. Check the video below. The people of Brooklyn are lucky to have avoided a major riot. Thankfully, Kobayashi doesn't speak much (any?) English and thus could only pantomime his issues with Major League Eating. The people knew what they wanted, though. Once he was recognized, the crowd chanted, "Let him eat! Let him eat!" They can be heard yelling, "Free Kobi!" in the video. It should be noted they could barely contained their laughter while doing so.

Some say it was the arrival of the Bay Area's Joey Chestnut that sent Kobayashi into his downward spiral. Indeed, analysts suspect Chestnut's middling consumption of 54 dogs was the result of a lack of genuine competition. Only Kobayashi has proven to be a worthy rival.

However, true fans of the sport point to Kobayashi's 2003 contest on Fox's "Man Vs. Beast" with a 1089-pound Kodiak Grizzly as the start of his demise.  Kobayashi was destroyed by the bear and just hasn't been the same since. Blame the programming geniuses at Fox for the decline and fall of one the greats. Now he has been reduced to non-violent civil protest to get his name back in lights. See the video below and enjoy Michael Buffer's intro:

Warriors Trade Rumor: It's a Three-Way

Courtesy of the NY Post, by way of Golden State of Mind, we have the latest of what are sure to be many trade rumors involving the Warriors. We know the team is looking to get rid of long-term contracts (see Maggette, Corey) and to add bodies to play center (see Gadzuric, Dan--actually don't). The team is looking to build around point guard Steph Curry and erase the mistakes of the Mullin era, read Monta Ellis and Andris Beidrins.

Here is what the Post has cooked up with their specialty, a writer's trade idea masked as a rumor from unattributed sources:

"When Stoudemire becomes official, it would end the five-year era of David Lee, but set up a possibility of a sign-and-trade to add another piece. There's been rumors of a three-way trade talk between Golden State, Minnesota and the Knicks where Lee winds up with the Timberwolves, Monta Ellis comes to the Knicks and Al Jefferson goes to Golden State. Lee visited Minnesota yesterday and it has only $7 million in cap room, meaning he'd want a sign-and-trade."

I would be glad to have either Lee or Jefferson on the Warriors. Yes, Jefferson has a lackluster season last year (17.1 points, 9.3 rebounds, 1.3 blocks) and had ACL surgery in 2009. It typically takes players two years to fully recover from a tirn ACL and the 2010-11 season would be that year. Before his injury, Jefferson was one the best offensive centers in the NBA, averaging 23.1 points and 10.9 rebounds. He's not a good defender but he would be a bull in the paint. If Curry can get reliable production out of Anthony Tolliver, I think he could work some magic with Al Jefferson.

David Lee might be an even better fit. First, he is more durable, playing 81 games for each of the past three seasons. Second, he greatly improved his offensive game last season, averaging 20.2 points, 11.7 rebounds and 3.6 assists. He, like Jefferson, is not a strong defender but he would be an ideal partner to play the pick and roll with Curry out of the high post. He passes well, has a reliable mid-range jumper and the athleticism to consistently get to the rim. Besides, you can't build Rome in a day. Defense is key to building championship teams, true. The Warriors should be focusing on getting out of the Lottery before worrying about if they are Larry O'Brien material.

Importantly, both guys are good citizens. No motorbike, er, moped accidents. No sulking or complaining about teammates either. They go out and play hard. They just don't play effective defense. Then Monta isn't exactly known for his shut-down defense either. If they can land either big man, the Warriors would have my full support. In other words, I expect nothing like this to happen at all.

Busted: The World Cup Trophy

Think you know drug smuggling? Swallowing condoms packed with heroin? That is so 1990s. Swallowing lambskin condoms packed with heroin? That is so 1970s. Want to know how the cool kids are muling these days, check this story from the AP:

BOGOTA, Colombia — Fans worldwide have fashioned replicas of the World Cup trophy out of everything from papier-mache to plastic. But a lawbreaker in Colombia gets top prize for most original material: cocaine.

Airports anti-drug chief Col. Jose Piedrahita says that Colombian authorities found the unusual statue during a routine security check by anti-drug agents Friday in a mail warehouse at Bogota's international airport.

The 14-inch-high statue was inside a box headed for Madrid, Spain. The statue was painted gold with green stripes on the base.

Piedrahita said Saturday that laboratory tests confirmed the cup was made of 24 pounds of cocaine mixed with acetone or gasoline to make it moldable.

While, one is moved to applaud the innovative techniques employed, there are a few issues:
  1. The dealers clearly weren't thinking about the freebasers with their design. Gasoline-infused coke? Richard Pryor was able to light himself on fire using only coke and 151-proof rum. This could've wreaked havoc on the freebase community. And as Tony Montana once said of the cocaine business, "Don't light your fucking customers on fire, mang."

  2. The choice of disguise was misguided considering the country of origin. Colombia hasn't made a World Cup since 1998. The team simply hasn't been the same since the shooting of Andres Escobar in 1994. Escobar scored an own goal in the '94 Cup against the host United States and was assassinated in Medellin soon after returning home. Even the last name Escobar couldn't save him. Had the dealers shipped a replica World Cup trophy from Chile, Brazil, Argentina or either of the 'Guays, South American countries that actually qualified for the Cup, it would have been seen as the creation of enthusiastic fans. From Colombia, where they shoot people for playing soccer badly, it can only raise eyebrows.

  3. However, the biggest mistake the dealers made is where they were sending the trophy. Spain? WTF? Turn on your TVs, Colombian drug dealers! Everyone knows Diego Maradona is in South Africa. Man, is he going to be pissed.

"Spain?!!!  F-ing Spain??!!"

Turns out the mistake wasn't in the destination, it was in the trophy itself. It should have been shipped to Madrid. However, it wasn't supposed to be a World Cup trophy; it should have been the men's championship trophy for Wimbledon. Man, is Rafael Nadal going to be pissed.

"Wait a second..."

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Fat Man Has Sung; Now We Wait for the Player to Be Named Later

According to SFGate , Bengie Molina has been traded by the Giants to the Texas Rangers. The deal will be completed Thursday and immediately makes Buster Posey the full-time catcher for the G-Men.

The Giants lose the slowest man in baseball and gain Chris Ray, middle reliever who used to strike people out, and the dreaded PTBNL (player to be named later). Chris Ray is kind of decent and adds depth to the middle relief crew. He has been OK for the Rangers so far this season but there are some troubling stats sitting underneath his solid 3.41 ERA and 1.26 WHIP. First is his K:BB ratio. It's 1. Yup, Ray has walked as many hitters as he has struck out; that would be 16 each in 31.2 IP. This represents a career-worst mark in this stat.

Ray after issuing a bases-loaded walk. Why did I pick this picture? No reason really.

How to spin this? Well, he must be getting his outs on the ground, right? Not really. According to FanGraphs, he is allowing more fly balls (51.5% of all batted balls) than at any point in his career.  Of course, one can point to his 7.7% HR/FB, a new career-low. But then, you are faced with the fact that he has been extremely lucky, especially when you consider his home park has been the launching pad in Arlington. His BABIP stands at .214, insanely low. Ray has been the beneficiary of a lot of at 'em balls. I have to wonder if that kind of luck will continue with the Giants' geriatric outfielders patrolling the sward at AT&T Park.

This leaves us with the PTBNL. The names dropped at SFGate were lefties Chris Davis and Jarrod Saltalamacchia.  The former is power-hitting first baseman, with a love of the long ball and the strikeout. He was sent down after just 48 ABs earlier this season and has been hitting at AAA ever since. He plays excellent defense at first but has been a K-fiend at every level of play. On the plus side, he has hit for average and power at every level of play. Well, unless you count the majors. But whose quibbling? This year at Triple-A Davis is hitting .327 with six HRs and 30 RBI in 44 games. Good on the average but the power seems to have been lost somewhere between Arlington and Oklahoma City. He is striking out less but Davis' value comes from his tremendous power. This cyclopean talent clubbed 36 home runs in 129 games between Double- and Triple-A in 2007. He has shown promise at the big league level as well, hitting 17 dongs in 80 games in 2008 when he was first called up. That kind of pop is something the Giants could use.

My vote for PTBNL. Despite the K:BB, WAR and ISO.

The other option is Mr. Saltalamacchia, owner of the longest last name in baseball history. Unfortunately, he is also the owner of an arm that has struggled to throw the ball 60 feet and six inches to the pitchers' mound. Really. Check this report from the Oklahoma City RedHawks web site:

RedHawks catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia would be back in the major leagues if he didn't have a problem throwing the ball - not to an infielder, but back to his pitcher.

In Salty's last game, Tuesday night at AT&T Bricktown Ballpark, 12 of his throws back to the pitcher landed either short of the mound or in center field. He had five errant throws in the first inning alone.

"He's just got to keep playing until he gets it right," RedHawks manager Bobby Jones said. "I don't know what else to do. It's a shame. It's definitely what's keeping him here. He's blocking the ball well and swinging the bat well. He's just got to figure it out. It's a shame."

To be fair, reports are that Salty has cleared up these issues but nonetheless has not returned to the big league club. While the Giants could use more depth at catcher, they have a greater need at first base. Posey and Eli Whiteside should cover every available game at catcher, leaving precious little for Saltalamacchia to do in San Francisco. The seamstresses in the Giants employ will be glad if the team passes on him. Davis is a hell of a lot easier on the hands than Saltalamacchia.

It takes nimble, child-like fingers to stitch the name just right.

As for Bengie, he moves to hitter's haven and should see a definite improvement in his offensive numbers. Fantasy owners in AL-Only leagues should be all over him. Wait, I am one of those. Be right back. Molina will be missed for his expert handling of a young pitching staff. Also, until this season he has been the most reliable bat in a terrible Giants lineup. He has looked slower both at and behind the plate this season but I like his chances of rebounding for a solid half-season with the explosive Rangers. On the plus side for the Giants, they should immediately cut down on their double-plays and increase the number of infield hits. Last, I am not sure how happy Molina was about being Giant this season. This is based on nothing more than speculation but Bengie was the man for the past three seasons. He was the best hitter and a seasoned vet other players looked up to. This season he was a rental, holding Buster Posey's spot until the rookie was ready. I don't think he liked being that position. On the Rangers he will again be the man behind the plate and should see a lot more of his fly balls head over the wall. Then he can do what he does best: jog slowly around the bases.

Molina was just fast enough on this day in Milwaukee:

Posey was drafted to be the everyday starting catcher and now that day has come. I know Tim Lincecum will miss Bengie behind the dish but I am betting Posey wins him over quickly. Molina wasn't blocking balls in the dirt like he used to and Posey's athleticism will make a difference here. This deal will be a positive for the Giants if  they land a left-handed bat who can help a struggling offense. I am hoping, for all his flaws, that bat is Chris Davis.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Lego My World Cup

One the best by-products of this year's World Cup has been the Lego animations of various moments of big games. What, you thought I was going to talk about the vuvuzela apps (yes, there's more than one)  for the iPhone?

Here's the US v England (3.5 stars):

England v Germany (2 stars but only because it's in German):

"Nein. Nein. Nein Nein." I don't speak a word of German but even I know in this series of neins the announcer was convincing himself (and no one else) that Lampard didn't score.

And one fan's reaction to the above game (4 stars):

Why is Lampard's disallowed goal such a big deal historically? Note the the poster in the previous video and keep it in mind as you view the following: 

England v West Germany, 1966 (4 stars):

Points awarded for use of black and white as well as the flickering "filmic" effects used in this one. There will be more lego footie, no doubt, and if the referees oblige us, we will have plenty to laugh about.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Evan Longoria and B.J. Upton Aren't BFF

Yesterday, Evan Longoria did what many of B.J. Upton's fantasy owners have wanted to do all season: He got in Upton's face and told him to quit dogging it. Longoria was pissed because Upton was poorly postioned in center field when Rusty Ryal clocked a drive to left-center. Worse, Upton made a hemi-gluteal effort to cut the ball off and what was likely just a double turned into a triple. Longoria shared his feelings about the play in the dugout after the inning. See the video below:

Upton showed more effort going after Longoria than he did Ryal's drive to the outfield. Of course, he only gave maximum effort after he was safely restrained by Willy Aybar and had Matt Joyce standing between he and Longoria. My dad had a word for guys like this: pussy. My dad also a word for guys who sported incredibly bad haircuts like the one seen on Evan Longoria: son.

Part of me feels for Upton. He was the number 2 overall pick in 2002 and has been hyped as a four-and-a-half-tool guy for years. He's not a five-tool guy because his defense was never considered great.  He started out as a second baseman prospect but that went so poorly, he was moved to the outfield. For all the misadventures on the field, Upton's ability to hit for power and his speed have never been doubted. Fantasy baseball jakes like myself have been waiting on Upton to mature for years. He's just 25, so it might still happen but the prospects aren't looking good. After his breakout 2007 campaign (.300/24 HR/22 SB in just 129 games) it has been a steady decline. Only his speed has remained. This season he is hitting just  .223 and is getting worked by teammates, Joe Maddon, his manager, and the local papers.

To make matters worse--and I'll bet this played a role in his explosive reaction to Longoria's dugout critique--the Rays were playing the Diamondbacks when this happened and, no doubt, his brother, Justin, the Diamondback's left fielder saw the whole thing.

As a Sox fan, I love it. In fact, the worst thing that could happen is the Rays do something sensible and trade his half-ass to another team and improve the clubhouse morale. If Upton is as bad as it seems, this could hurt the Rays and put a significant drag on the team. The Sox, as beat up as they are, will take it.

Of course, the national media is piling on and my sources tell me Carlton Fisk called Upton after the game, telling him, "If you don't play the game right, I'm going to kick your ass."

Deion Sanders could not be reached for comment but I have reached out to Upton and suggest he demand a trade...of Evan Longoria.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Uh Oh, It's Udoh

Yesterday, I asked how the Warriors would screw this up and they have responded in all their wretched unglory. As we stated, the two clear position needs for this team were and are center and small forward. What do the Warriors do? They draft Ekpe Udoh, the power forward from Baylor.

Get ready for many more awkward Udoh moments.

If you watched the tourney this spring, you may recall him as the big guy who blocked a lot of shots for Baylor and threw down some nice dunks. You may have been intrigued enough by this mobile big man that you looked up his numbers. When you did, you found he averaged 13.9 points, 9.8 boards and a whopping 3.7 blocks per game. Lottery Pick Summary: Power forward with a funky foreign name, excellent defensive timing, a nose for the glass and limited offensive game.

Then it hits you: Holy crap. The Warriors somehow managed to draft Adonal Foyle again.

Remember me?


How about now?

I would love to say there is almost certainly a trade to follow, what with three power forwards on the roster: Udoh, Anthony Randolph and Brandan Wright--yes, he is still on the Warriors. But we are talking about the Warriors here and I am not sure God even knows what comes next.

Udoh has the ability to be a solid defensive four in the NBA. But he is 23, so don't expect a surge in skills. He is what he is: a shot-blocker who will clean the glass and score the occasional putback or wide open mid-range shot. A decent add for any team's bench.

The Warriors needed more. My suggestion, despite the soft tag, was they pursue Greg Monroe. He is big, skilled and would have been nasty in the pick n' roll with Steph Curry. Not happening.

Why did the Warriors take Udoh? My guess is they were tired of drafting risky potential as they did with Randolph and Wright, who haven't exactly played up to their potential, and wanted something more assured and solid. They succeeded. They are now driving a brand new Nissan Sentra.

The Warriors Motto: We Don't Build Excitement

Please somebody buy this team and save them from themselves. For another take on this pick, check out Golden State of Mind. I think you'll find they feel similarly underwhelmed.

Celtics Draft: Before and After

With the 19th pick in the 2010 NBA Draft the Boston Celtics select...Avery Bradley from the University of Texas.

And most Celtics fans went, "Who?" The unsurprising part is that most Celtics fans knew exactly who Luke Harangody was when he was selected in the second round: "Big white guy with the flat top. A little round in the chin. Plays for the Irish. Hard worker. Good scorer. Love him."

Even dedicated Celtics bloggers were a bit unsure after Ainge's selection of Bradley:

Bradley should fit in well with the Celtics. He is an extremely athletic combo guard who plays ridiculous defense. While his size, 6-3, 185 lbs, makes him a point guard, he is not known for breaking defenders down off the dribble or creating for teammates. On the other hand, he has freakish, orangutan arms and is capable of guarding taller shooting guards. My concerns are the lack of playmaking and ballhandling skills and the fact that he shot just 43.2% from the field in his lone college season. It should be noted he shot an acceptable 37.5% from three-point land, indicating he has range if not consistency. What gives me confidence is his athleticism (37-inch plus vertical) and his love and talent for defense.

Smell that vertical.

Danny said he was sure Bradley would be gone before the 19th pick and most mock drafts agreed with him. For posterity I thought I would post a few mocks' takes on where they thought Bradley would be taken.


NBA FanHouse: 13th (Toronto Raptors)
"The Raptors need everything but a sweet-shooting center at this point, with Jose Calderon have joined Hedo Turkoglu in disfavor. Bradley reportedly had a positive workout in T-Dot, and while his NBA development is a real question mark, the signs are positive enough for a team to pick him up in the mid-first. Maybe Bargnani can teach him how to shoot."

Sports Illustrated: 18th (Oklahoma City Thunder)
"With Dwyane Wade handling the ball most of the time, the Heat need a Derek Fisher-like shooter at point guard. That makes Bradley their man. Driving to the basket isn't his strength, but he has three-point range and will defend, which is another priority for the Heat. He's not a pass-first point guard, but they can live with his limitations."

NBA Soup:  18th (Oklahoma City Thunder)
"Many mocks have Bradley dropping out of the first round due to his erratic play, small stature, and lack of a true position. While all of those knocks are fairly warranted, it’s also quite clear that Bradley is young, athletic, and oozing with potential. If he’s able to come off the bench as a role player in his first season, he could shine."

Hoops Addict: 13th (Toronto Raptors)
"He’s the closest thing to Monta Ellis I’ve seen in the college game, an unreal athlete, with a soft touch, incredible body control, long range jumper, basically he’s got it all. He’s going to be one of these guys that we hear NBA scouts go back and forth on non-stop before the draft. He’s not a true point guard, which means that I believe he’s going to be the guy more than anyone else that needs to find a team that’s the right “fit,” for him. The absolute ideal circumstance would be Sacramento, where he won’t have to be a ball-handler and playmaker, go off of Tyreke Evans and guard true point guards."

The Hoop Doctors: 13th (Toronto Raptors)
"After coming out of HS as the #1 prospect in the entire ‘09 class, Bradley showed signs of his tremendous upside as a future NBA player. Problem was he was widely inconsistent. Even though he was a prime candidate of improving his stock by returning for his sophomore season, Bradley decided to remain in this year’s draft even though he still has a shaky jumpshot. On the upside, he showed excellent ability to get to the rim, is in his element in the open floor, and has the potential to be an elite level defender. Toronto desperately needs a point guard and Bradley has the potential to develop into a good one. Comparison: Monta Ellis"

I love the last two, despite the differing opinions on Bradley's jumpshot. Clearly, his athleticism is elite and the Monta Ellis comparisons are swoonerific. One thing, having watched a lot of Monta Ellis here in Oakland, Ellis is not a balls out defender like Bradley is. That's right, Avery Bradley plays defense with his balls hanging from his shorts.

In case you are left thinking all the draft nerds had Bradley going either 13th or 18th (though most really did) here are a few more:

San Francisco Chronicle: 25th (Memphis Grizzlies)

Boston Herald: 20th (San Antonio Spurs)

Draftology: 15th (Milwaukee Bucks)

NBADraft.net: 19th (Boston Celtics) These guys and Inside Hoops got it right.

The morning-after consensus is the Celtics did a good job this draft. Some were glowing with praise, some were more lukewarm; I found no one who thought they shanked it. Here is a sampling of opinions and grades:

Ball Don't Lie: (A) Talk about drafting for need, the Celtics turned an afterthought draft (Doc Rivers is a week and a half removed from admitting that he didn't know when his team would be drafting in the first round, and we don't blame him for that) into an actual depth-provider by finding a legitimate minutes-sopper in Bradley (a standout defender to back up Rajon Rondo) and potential frontcourt rebound-helper in Harangody.

NBA Fanhouse: (A) Avery Bradley, who could have gone as high as No. 10, slid down to the Celtics at No. 19. Boston also picked up a decent frontcourt rotation option in Notre Dame's Luke Harangody late in the second. Based on Bradley's potential as a Ray Allen replacement down the line and the fact that the Harangody pick led to a cavalcade of hilarious Brian Scalabrine-related tweets, this is a win for Boston.

Sports Illustrated: (B-) Danny Ainge has had a bit of a man-crush on Avery Bradley for weeks, hoping the explosive combo guard would get to the Celtics at No. 19. While most believed Ainge was targeting a big man to fill in for the injured Kendrick Perkins or the just-retired Rasheed Wallace, Ainge was always after the best player available. Bradley was it. Bradley can back up Rajon Rondo and his slashing ability gives Boston a much-needed punch on what will likely be a revamped bench. Luke Harangody was an overachiever in college, but if he turns out to be a good practice player, Boston will keep him around.

NBADraft.net: (B) There's a lot to like about Bradley teaming with Rajon Rondo in the future. Defensively, you couldn't come up with a much better backcourt. It was important for Bradley to land on a team that didn't need him to play point full-time but would also give him the opportunity to learn the position. Harangody is a value along the same lines as Glen Davis and Leon Powe of previous drafts – a highly productive college player who should be better than Brian Scalabrine, for what that's worth. Neither was a “great” pick, but both were solid and earn a solid grade.

CelticsBlog has a typically well-informed take on the draft that's worth checking out.

Harangody is interesting to me on a number of levels. First, the obvious doofus white guy appeal, and his struggle to show he's not just another big white stiff. Second, the guy really can score and rebound. He is far from a plus leaper but anyone who put up close to 20 points and 10 rebounds throughout his Big East career has some ability. And let's not forget, Danny kills the second round. Last, in the city of Boston, do not overlook the appeal of a player who looks like much of the fanbase.

"He looks just like Marky from down the way."

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Draft Day: Boston Celtics

If the Warriors are a mess, the Celtics are, by comparison, a model franchise. However, a whole hell of a lot could happen this off-season. Ray Allen may have made (and missed) his last three-pointer as a Celtic. Paul Pierce could opt out of his contract and test free agency before he puts any more tread on his tires. Even Scalabrine could be gone (rumors say the Nets may be interested. Hey, if it gets you LeBron.) Only KG, Big Baby, Rondo, Perkins and Rasheed Wallace are under contract for next season, and Wallace has already indicated to Doc Rivers he will be retiring. Hell, Doc could be gone next season as well, though I doubt it.

Here is how the Boston Globe defines the team's needs:

Perkins could miss part of next season, while Rondo still doesn't have a true backup. So help in the middle, as well as at the point guard position, are the team's top two priorities. If Allen or Pierce leave, the Celtics will be in need of a good, young scorer. And let's not forget that the Celtics have very little salary cap flexibility, so the player they draft must be able to step in and contribute right away. No pressure, right?

I agree with most of this. I would like to see the Cs go for a center or a combo guard who can score. My guess is Tony Allen played well enough in the playoffs to make the Celtics take him back and he might sign for less with them than he would anyone else. Nate Robinson? Probably gone despite the Shrek and Donkey sideshow we all loved. If this is how it goes down, they will need someone who can man the point and hit shots. I actually think the Celtics will resign Ray Allen. I believe he wants to stay and will play for less than he could get on the market. He has a few good years left in him. Think Reggie Miller in his mid- to late-30s. The Celtics could use that so long as they don't have to pay market price.

Essentially, the Celtics need to build their team around Rajon Rondo. This means they need guys who can shoot and score. The only need that trumps this is interior defense. For this reason I like the idea of the Celtics moving down in the draft. Check this rumor from ESPN's TrueHoop:

Boston is considering two offers for its No. 19 pick, one from Memphis and one from New Jersey, a source with knowledge of the selection told ESPN.com Wednesday night. The Celtics are mulling over an offer from Memphis for the Grizzlies No. 25 and 28 picks while the Nets are looking at shipping the No. 27 pick in the first round and No. 31 in the second round to the Celtics for No. 19. A source close to the Celtics said earlier Wednesday that general manager Danny Ainge was looking to move No. 19 because he wasn’t enamored with the possible selections at that position.

The Grizzlies trade is the one to go for, though it will cost more as the Nets' second round pick would not come with a guaranteed contract.

 The Globe featured a number of players in their list of potential future Celtics. I found it a tad optimistic: Paul George and Gordon Hayward sure to be gone by the 18th pick. No way Indiana can let local white boy hero get past them and George has been a fast riser in all mocks I have seen.

Here are a few players not listed by the Globe that I could live with seeing in Celtic green and who would be around near the end of the first round:

Tiny Gallon: First, he has the best name in the draft. Even more so when you find out he is 6-10, 300 pounds. He played for Oklahoma and is an absolute load down low. He has excellent moves, a good mid-range shot and reminds some scouts of Glen Davis, only bigger. Well, if that comparison holds, I would take it. Fact is he is not as fleet of foot as Big Baby but is a better rebounder and would be even harder to push off the block. On the Celtics you can be assured that he will be pushed to achieve the best level of fitness of his life. The idea of a similarly-skilled, bigger Big Baby gets me fired up. He would almost certainly be available with either the 25th or 28th picks. Did I mention he hates backboards?

Armon Johnson: A combo guard from Nevada who can play either point or shooting guard. I like him as Rondo's back up. He is a lefty, quick, strong and has the size of an NBA point guard at 6-3, 190 lbs. He is an excellent athlete with three years of experience at the college level. Similar to Nate he is a fearless player who will drive the ball on bigger players and his strength allows him to finish. He is not a pure point guard but working with Rondo could help him develop better vision. Even Nate Robinson showed improved passing once he moved from the Knicks to the Celtics, so this isn't that farfetched a notion. He will be around late in the first round. Most mocks have him going early in the second round.

Hasan Whiteside: An elite shotblocker who averaged 5.4 blocks in just 26.1 minutes per game as a freshman for the Marshall Thundering Herd. He should not be coming out this season. He could use another year or two to learn some post moves as well as how to pass the ball. Shooting free throws would help too as he hit just 40% of his attempts from the line. Still, if the Celtics are worried about Perk's ability to come back, Whiteside could be a big help at one end of the floor. His name typically appears in the mid-20s of most mocks I have seen, so he should be there if the Celtics want him.

If the Celtics keep their pick at #18, I would like to see them grab one of James Anderson, shooting guard from Oklahoma State who is a great scorer; Damion Jones, forward from Texas with great toughness and rebounding despite being a bit small for a power forward; or best of all, roll the dice with Eric Bledsoe. He's the elite point guard John Wall bounced to shooting guard at Kentucky. Kid is raw as hell but is an incredible athlete and the Celtics have had some luck with underrated, speedy point guards from Kentucky.


I wanted to make sure I had a clip of Landon Donovan's goal in stoppage time against Algeria. After the second disallowed goal in as many games, this one felt pretty damn good for American soccer fans. And, sorry, Jim Rome, you may not care, but many others do. Some prognosticators were wondering if this victory would propel soccer to the forefront of America's sporting consciousness. Jim Rome says only so long as they keep winning. He's right and wrong. The hype will only grow with each victory but the reality is soccer is here. When you see English Premier League results regularly displayed on ESPN's ticker and that channel carrying the Confederations Cup and Champions League games, it is obvious that things have changed. Ten years ago, and this would be six years after the United States hosted the World Cup (which was supposed push soccer to the forefront of America's sporting consciousness) this wasn't happening. Sorry, Romey, people care about soccer, just not the cave dwellers who call into your show.

One more thing, have you seen the ratings for this year's World Cup? According to an ESPN Press Release:

Through Wednesday, June 23 (40 games on ABC, ESPN and ESPN2), the 2010 World Cup is averaging a 1.8 U.S. rating (for the two-hour match window) -- up 40% from 2006 (1.3). Household impressions are up 46% (from 1,389,000 to 2,025,000) and P2+ impressions are up 49% (from 1,789,000 to 2,658,000).

The 2006 games were played in Germany, so it isn't a time zone issue. Sure the England vs. USA match had cache and yesterday's game was do or die, making for riveting viewing, but clearly these numbers aren't result of the circumstances surrounding individual games. More people care now. Will soccer displace American football, baseball or basketball? Hell no. But ESPN's investment in the game should indicate what it thinks its very mainstream audience wants.

And what they want is this. I would've gone YouTube but FIFA, in their blessed marketing ignorance, is pulling down every clip they find...except, of course, the shaky shots made by folks filming their televisions with  handheld camcorders.

Draft Day: How Will the Warriors Screw This up?

Today is the final day of the NBA season. Sure, the Finals finished up last week. And, yes, the Lakers beat my Celtics. I would still donate my left nut to science if it meant we could go back in time and have the Celtics corral even a few more defensive rebounds. Kendrick Perkins may be stiff as a corpse on offense but he would've taken many second chances away from L.A. just by grabbing rebounds. And with that, we will speak no more of the Finals.

There may be no more games to play but the NBA keeps our attention through today, the Draft, and tomorrow, the Analysis. After this, except for the lunatics, it's lights out until next November for fans of the NBA. And a strong case can be made that, really, it's lights out until next April when the playoffs start again.

But for now let's take a look at tonight's draft and the likely and best candidates for the local heroes, your Golden State Warriors. First, my top five.
  1. John Wall (It's guard-dominated league and Wall's speed, passing and willingness to cut the throat of opponents primes him to be a top point guard in the association for years to come. Tea Leaves: All-Star as soon as his second season.)
  2. DeMarcus Cousins (Talent trumps attitude. The kid averaged 15.1 points, 9.8 boards and 1.8 blocks in a scant 23.5 minutes per game. Arguing with his coach looks bad, yes, but a couple of things to note here: First, he argued because he cares. A skilled big man who cares? That has to count for a lot. Second, he was arguing with John Calipari, neither the world's sternest disciplinarian nor a master of Xs and Os. Calipari is the world's greatest recruiter and a firmly middle of the road coach when it comes to game strategy. Maybe Cousins was right to argue with him. Tea Leaves: Serial All-Star.)
  3. Evan Turner (Do-it-all swingman who can play the point, shooting and some small forward. Very NBA-ready and a good passer. The test will be how he handles the bigger twos and threes at the next level. Love his passing skills. Tea Leaves: Potential All-Star.)
  4. Derrick Favors (Stud athlete who played just one year of college ball. Despite the fact that he is guaranteed big dollars as a top-five pick, he should've stayed another year to hone his offensive game. In the right situation, read: low pressure with increasing minutes playing with a quality point guard, he could become a regular at NBA All-Star games. In a bad situation, he relies solely on his size and hops and never really develops his game. This would mean a few very strong years in his early 20s then a quick fade as the grind of the NBA steals some of the spring in his step.)
  5. Wes Johnson (Great defender who can pass and finish on the break. Only his age, 23, gives me pause. Johnson should enjoy a solid if unspectacular NBA career. I see a lesser version of Shawn Marion. Tea Leaves: Mini-Matrix.)
The Warriors, of course, have the number six pick. So, who will they take?  Given the lame duck status of the franchise, they will probably work to keep costs down and just keep the pick instead of using it to trade for a higher priced veteran. There are really two guys who make sense in this scenario.

Greg Monroe: The kid is a skilled athlete who can shoot, jump, and most importantly for the Warriors, pass. He has the size, 6-11, to play center and the youth--he's just 20--to improve. By all accounts, he is by far the best passing big man in the draft. He seems nice and a bit passive from the dozens of articles I have read and this isn't a good thing in the NBA. The NBA favors the angry, cocky and mean. This doesn't mean he is a pussy, rather that he needs to drink a little tough juice and learn to love contact. On the Warriors, he would add a lot of skill in the middle. He can pass and shoot from distance. I can see him working a sweet pick and roll with Stephon Curry. Best case scenario he gives the Warriors a blacker, bouncier version of Brad Miller in his prime. Worst case scenario he gives the Warriors Mark Blount with better passing. Either way, I see him as an upgrade on Andris Biedrins.

Always looking for the cutter or open shooter at the arc.

Al-Farouq Aminu: With Corey Maggette now shipped to Milwaukee in a salary dump, there is a need at small forward for the Warriors. Sure they have the electric scoring of Reggie Williams, but I wonder if with his size, he can be a  solid defender at the three. Aminu, on the other hand,  is 6-8 with 7-3 wingspan. Dude is a fucking condor.  He has great hops and with his age (just 19) he has what Digger Phelps droolingly calls, "tremendous upside." He averaged 16 points and 11 rebounds in his sophomore season.  He will defend, hit the glass and get out on the break. All good things for the Warriors. The downside? He is not a good outside shooter. I wonder, though, if the Warriors actually need another shooter on this team. With Steph Curry, Monta Ellis, Reggie Williams, Anthony Tolliver and Kelenna Azubuike to name a few, they have plenty of chuckers already. It wouldn't be the worst thing in the world to draft a hard-working, athletic stud who loves to get after it on defense. Yeah, so there is no chance the Warriors make this move. Look for them to "outsmart" everyone and take Luke Babbitt from Nevada. Hey, at least he's a good shooter.

All together now: Smell my nuts!

The Warriors are all kinds of messed up right now. Owner Chris Cohan is in tax trouble, is selling the team and his management team may have jobs only for as long as it takes the new owner to sign a term sheet. The Maggette trade was made to save money for Cohan and help whomever the new owner is rebuild the team without too many burdensome contracts. In short, the only future this group is considering is the short term. The fanbase is just waiting for the new owner to get the keys to the house.

It's so bad that the area's only major daily, the San Francisco Chronicle, doesn't even know the numbers of the positions in basketball...and there are only five:

Note to Chronicle editorial staff: The article your headline links to speaks of the Warriors' need for a small forward (three) or a center (five). One is the point guard position, and we already have a future all-star there in Steph Curry. Hey, at least you got one of two right. Good to see you care.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Shrek and Donkey

Glen Davis and Nate Robinson give some good post-game press conference:

Not much to add here. These guys clearly enjoyed each other and the moment. Celtics fans have to hope there is more of this in the remaining games in the series. Davis' role is pretty well cemented: energy guy who spazzes out in the post, gets blocked, gets rebound, gets blocked again, then somehow forces the ball through the hoop. Last night, it was mostly just the last part and, as a result, it was his best game of the series.

Nate? He just needs more minutes. Doc has been running Rondo out there like he's T.T. Boy at a porn shoot. Give the man a rest. Nate Robinson adds a level of craziness to the offense that throws the Lakers off. Most significantly, he is a threat from beyond the arc, which forces the Lakers to stretch their defense and opens up the lanes. If Doc can get Nate 15-20 minutes per game going forward, I will feel better about the Celtics' chances of beating the Lakers.

Nate, seizing the moment, has updated his Twitter avatar to reflect the latest Celtics' meme. Clearly, he and Big Baby will be invited to future pressers no matter how well they play. This ain't your daddy's Green Team.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Celtics Lose Game Three and It's the Refs' Fault

I took a quick jog through the blogs and papers this morning and the verdict is in: the Celtics were jobbed by the refs in Game 3. If you like your media mainstream, you can read about it here or here or here. If you like a blog in your pants, check out this, especially the italicized intro.

The bottom line is this: the referees, Bennett Salvatore, Danny Crawford and Finals-first-timer Bill Kennedy, cost the Celtics the game. Silence, you objective basketball fans masquerading as Celtics loyalists. This loss had nothing to do with the Lakers posting up Big Baby Davis at every opportunity in the 4th Quarter. It is completely unrelated to Paul Pierce's lack of rebounding or scoring. And don't tell me how unacceptable it is that the bench outplayed the starters all game long.

It was the refs, just not for the reason you think. Sources close to the last night's officiating crew have revealed to me that it was Danny Crawford who did in the Celtics, with assistance from Salvatore and Kennedy. How? He used black magic to switch bodies with Ray Allen 15 minutes before the game. This was disastrous for the Celtics as everyone knows Danny Crawford is a terrible jump shooter.

 "Which one of you will I turn into a fat toad? I'm feeling Sheed."

Crawford, it seems, is a master warlock. He has been practicing the dark arts for the past four decades and is second only to Dick Bavetta among NBA officials in his abilities. He has been working on the body switch for the past few weeks and bet Salvatore that he could do it on Ray for the whole game. Bennett was skeptical.

"How will I know it's you?" Salvatore asked.

"I am going to break Dennis Johnson's Finals record for the worst shooting performance in Finals history."

"Craw, you are one crazy motherfucker!"

"Yup, I am going to shoot every chance I get and will go at least 0-for-15. Unless Jackass Rivers benches me, that record is mine. If I hit even one jumper--and you know I won't--you win."

"You are so on!"

Crawford did not break DJ's record, shooting just 0-for-13, but nonetheless will be collecting a sack full of souls from the doubting Bennett sometime tonight.

"This whistle can summon the Hounds of Hell. Don't make me blow it, Doc."

One could  whine that this is completely unfair but it's pretty obvious that Crawford has been even-handed about his spell-casting. After all, Ron Artest shot 6-for-20 in the first two games of the series. Also, that story Ron likes to tell about seeing a guy staked through the heart? That was Crawford doing the old body switch.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Conference Expansion

The traditional conferences of the NCAA are breaking down. Both the Pac-10 and the Big Ten are talking expansion and much of it largely at the expense of the Big 12, which in a few weeks won't be able to call itself that any longer. Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports, and a fellow UMass alum, wrote a scathing write-up on expansion and focused, in particular, on Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe and his lack of skills, intelligence, foresight, and penis. He rips him good.

The long and short of it is the Big Ten and the Pac-10 are looking to form a pair of super conferences and are actively pillaging top teams from other conferences. Recently, the battle has grown even more epic in scale. The Big Ten have reported sewn up agreements not only with top teams from the ACC and Big East but have reached north and attracted the Saskatchewan Roughriders and the Edmonton Eskimos from the CFL. The Winnipeg Blue Bombers are reportedly holding out for more money, somehow not realizing that they are in fact from Winnipeg. With that kind of aggressive marketing by Big Ten commissioner, Jim Delany, Larry Scott of the Pac-10 had to respond.

Scott considered going radical, ignoring the geographical logic of his historic conference and inviting Duke and Florida State to the Pac-10. Take that, Delany! But Scott went much bigger. Why settle for Stanford East and another school with ridiculously hot fans and ridiculously low SATs when you already have Arizona State? Larry Scott has gone intergalactic. Battlestar InterGalactica to be exact. That's right kids, he has invited the Blue and Gold teams from BSG's (the cool kids call it BSG) Triad league to join the Pac-10.

Starbuck and Apollo throwing down at Pauley Pavilion? Boomer and random mustache dude getting run out of the gym at Maples? Picture it because it's gonna happen. Of course, these teams will enjoy a distinct home court advantage as most players in the Pac-10 just haven't trained for the rigors of Triad and space travel. Insiders have revealed to me that Lane Kiffin has already been in touch with Baltar about getting a few Cylons to visit the USC campus. It's unclear if there have been any violations. But as it is with most NCAA violations, the coach will move on to next job, leaving the kids he recruited and their families behind to suffer. I almost feel sorry for Baltar.

 After years in space with only Cylons to keep him company, Baltar likes him some co-ed.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

The City that Couldn't Shoot Straight

New York City has long been heralded as a point guard mecca, where the best street moves are developed and the best players can break down anyone, anytime, anywhere. At least that's how it used to be. There hasn't been a kid from the five boroughs to make an impact on the hardwood since Stephon Marbury, and that was...well, a long time ago. Starbury's rookie season was in 1996. At least he is making an impact in China, where this spring he won the All-Star Game MVP wearing a 24 carat jersey.

Marbury is not looking to pass here.

The city with the biggest rep for point guards is not representing in an era where the point guard has more freedom than ever in the NBA. Ever since the hand-checking rules were put in place, the NBA game has changed from a post-up, half-court isolation-play dominated style to one that favors the fast break and even more, point guards who can break defenders down off the bounce, penetrate and score or dish. Extra points go to those point guards who can shoot it from deep because they force defenders further from the basket, giving they and their teammates more space in which to operate. See Deron Williams, Steven Nash, Chauncey Billups, Chris Paul and Steph Curry. We are in an era of shooting, scoring point guards. With a few exceptions (Rajon Rondo, Jason Kidd, Andre Miller) the best point guards shoot to set up the drive and dish. The typical point guard these days brings the ball up, but more often than not hangs around the three-point line to stretch the defense. His role is to knock down jumpers on ball rotations more than to drive and set up teammates. Think Mo Williams, Jameer Nelson, Derek Fisher, Mike Bibby, Beno Udrih.

And maybe that's the rub with New York City point guards and their abdication of the throne: They can't shoot a lick and, for the most part, never have. NBA teams prefer points who pose at least a modicum of a threat from outside.

NYC's NBA point guards (and their career field goal percentage):

Mount Rushmore
Bob Cousy (.375 --It was all about the pass for the Houdini of the Hardwood)
Lenny Wilkens (.432 --Had they invented the jumper when Wilkens played?)
Tiny Archibald (.467 --Tiny was ahead of his time: a scoring point guard and could shoot from anywhere)
Mark Jackson (.447 --Jackson's percentage is only this high because he feasted on smaller point guards in the low post. He was an ugly outside shooter.)

Cousy set the mold of the pass-first, shoot-worst NYC point guard.

Other Past PGs of Note
Rod Strickland (.454 --Like Jackson, Strick scored far more in the post than from deep. He was a terrible 3-point shooter)
Kenny Anderson (.421 --Couldn't shoot but had crazy quicks)
Pearl Washington (.452 --Great point guard for 'Cuse but lasted just three years in the NBA)
Kenny Smith (.480 --An exception to the rule. The Jet was the opposite of most NYC point guards: great shooter, average handles and passing)

The Not So Current Crop
Stephon Marbury (.433 --Marbury's cringe-worthy jumper never impeded his willingness to chuck it)
Rafer Alston (.383 --Fans have turned to stone watching his jumper)
Jamaal Tinsley (.395 --Classic NYC PG: Sick handles, tough as hell,  poisonous jumper and a complete knucklehead)
Sebastian Telfair (.390 --Ugh.)
Erick Barkley (.356 in just 27 NBA games)
Omar Cook (.333 in 22 NBA games. St. Johns doesn't make em like they used to)

So what's the deal? Why are New York City point guards traditionally such poor jumpshooters? Thanks to this article in today's New York Times, we have an answer. It's the blacksmith's fault! The schoolyard and playground rims are made by John Fitzgerald, city welder, and his crew. While the rims are strong enough to last through the Apocalypse, if you grow up shooting on them, your jumper won't survive high school. If you are short and want to score on courts with these rims, you had better figure out how to get close in because that jumper has to be dead solid perfect to drop through. It is hardly surprising, then,  to find that New York City point guards are especially adept at driving their way to those dolomite rims. Conversely, if jumpshots are a bad offensive option, it is easy to understand why these same point guards don't develop this skill and are, as a rule, crappy shooters.

Fitzie thinks jumpshots (and breakaway rims) are for pussies. Wanna fight about it?

Now, these days the top NYC preps are playing indoors on AAU teams and never deal with John Fitzgerald's rims. So, why would they continue to be poor jump-shooters? More than that, why would their shooting get even worse? The last group of point guards listed above are the most recent NYC points to play in the Association and they are by far the worst shooters. Why? Perhaps because after years of stylistic evolution, what defines an elite point guard in New York has crystallized into great ball-handling and heroic lay-ups in traffic. The local hero point guards you aspire to be as a young player in New York are great dribblers, finishers and passers; not great shooters. In short, though Fitzgerald's rims aren't used at the most elite levels of prep basketball, their cultural legacy is very much in play.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Diff'rent Strokes: Sports Edition

Gary Coleman died today of a brain hemorrhage at the age of 42. The rumors that the Gooch finally got to him are completely unfounded, so stop saying that shit! Coleman was a huge part of the childhood of my generation. And if Twitter is any indication of my generation's tastes (and it is), Coleman's death is rocking a lot of people's worlds. Current trending topics on Twitter as of 1:30 pm PT, May 28 : #garyColeman, Gary Coleman Died, #oilspill, #wheniwasafreshman, Coleman passed away, Todd Bridges, About Gary, fanime, Whachu talkin.

Of the top ten, six are Gary-related topics and it is telling that Todd Bridges, not Dana Plato, is the co-star who's trending with Gary Coleman. Maybe it's because he's still alive. Wait, one second...I was just notified that Conrad Bain is still alive. WTF? He outlived Plato and Coleman? I did not have that in my deadpool.

Aside from goldfish tragedies, the artful dodging of child molesters, the spin-off of Facts of Life, the unfortunately ironic drugs and drinking Willis episodes, one hallmark of Diff'rent Strokes were the number of athletes who guest starred. None appeared in season one, but by season two, when it was obvious NBC had a hit on their hands, the star athletes started appearing regularly on the show. Here is the complete list of athletes who appeared on Diff'rent Strokes (in order of appearance). Hat tip to sitcomsonline.com:
  1. Muhammad Ali (Season 2, Episode 1 as himself)
  2. Reggie Jackson (Season 2, Episode 10 as himself)
  3. Ed "Too Tall" Jones (Season 3, Episode 1 as himself)
  4. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (Season 5, Episode 5 as the teacher, Mr. Wilkes)
  5. Dorothy Hamill (Season 5, Episode 18 as herself)
  6. The 1984 Gold-Medal-winning U.S. Men's  Gymnastics team (Season 7, Episode 14 as themselves)
  7. Lance Parrish (Season 7, Episode 16 as himself)
  8. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (Season 8, Episode 7 again as Mr. Wilkes)

 Ali with Arnold and Willis

 Only Kareem appeared twice on the show and he was the only athlete not to appear as himself, instead portraying the tough but thoughtful teacher, Mr. Wilkes. Really though, the writers couldn't come up with another name for this character? Wilkes? As in Kareem's Laker teammate Jamaal Wilkes? Was this to remind viewers that Kareem was a basketball player? Shit, this probably confused some people into thinking it was Jamaal Wilkes portraying himself as a teacher. If you think about Kareem's turn as "Roger Murdock" in Airplane just a few years earlier, this isn't really much of  a stretch.

The athletes were used almost purely along racial lines. Clearly, Ali, Reggie Jackson, Too Tall and Jabbar were there for Willis and Arnold. Black kids just love black athletes!  Dorothy Hamill, while Willis may have wanted to tag some of that, was Dana Plato's vehicle. Plato was a near Olympic-level skater before joining the cast of Diff'rent Strokes and it is clear she made the correct career choice, what with all the success she enjoyed after the show. Lance Parrish was there for annoying white little brother, Sam. You forgot about him didn't you? Well, he pretty much killed the show. He was a real life Scrappy Doo who introduced a doofish cuteness to a show that felt it could no longer lean on a perennially short but now not-quite-so-cute Gary Coleman. Parrish played himself serving as the bench coach on Sam's crappy little league team. The writing was a little soft toward the end of the show's run.

Let's not go out like the show did with Sam polluting the waters. Let's remember the show at it's peak. Like here:

With the Hasselhoff
and here:

Arnold's Got Five on It.

By the way, the show was shot entirely in color. I am not sure why all the good photos of the cast members are in back and white. Oh wait, I just figured it out. Very, very clever 1980s NBC marketing team.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Bubble Guts

They say Phoenix Suns coach Alvin Gentry ate some bad deep-fried avocado before tonight's Lakers-Suns game in Los Angeles. The results were not pleasant.

This begs a few questions:

Q: Is there such a thing as good deep-fried avocado?
A: Unknown at this time.

Q: Even if there is, is Alvin Gentry the slimmest person ever to have eaten it?
A: Without a doubt in the fucking world.

Q: Is the man with the bow tie sitting behind Gentry somehow responsible for Gentry's sudden case of bubble guts?
A: I'd like to think so. The problems of the world are so much easier to deal with when they can be blamed on something obvious, like men in bow ties or liberals or Al Davis.

Q: What exactly are bubble guts?
A: How should I know? I'm white. White people who are asking this question should go to Urban Dictionary then drop their newfound knowledge at the next party. Yeah, I give great advice.

Q: Is "ate some bad deep-fried avocado" code for "my team is getting its ass kicked and I have this motivational technique I've been waiting to use all season long."
A: Yes, and that is why Alvin Gentry is a genius and you are not.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

How to Raise Money For Your Son's Little League

The Little Lefty at first base.

My son is in Little League. It has been a good season so far, though I am a little disappointed in the lack of douchery among the parents. Every game sees the parents clapping for both teams and rarely is a non-organic snack provided for the Lil' Lincecums after the game. This is not the Little League I have been reading about for years. I mean nothing like what happened last weekend just a few miles away in Vallejo. Or recently in Michigan. Man, I wish my dad had stuck up for me like James Ian Sherrill did for his kid.

Now it is fundraising time for NOLL/SOLL (North Oakland/South Oakland Little League). The parents have been getting a lot of heat about getting their donations in so I sent the following email to my family. If it inspires you, feel free to throw my son, and his Little League, a bone.


It is fund-raising time for Berch's Little League team, the White Sox. In the old days, Little Leaguers would dress in their game uniforms and shake a slotted can in front of, say, Friendly's Ice Cream, soliciting silver from the locals. Not anymore. Now, Little League does something called a Bat-a-Thon. The kids hit three balls and the coaches tape measure the hits and tally the distance. The kids--cough, parents--then send emails out and ask friends and relatives to donate a number of cents per foot. Amounts may range from 1 cent to 25 cents or higher. Sorry, no Eton emergency radios or canvas tote bags are given out for participating in the pledge drive, er, Bat-a-Thon.

If Berch were to hit a total of 100 feet with his three hits (which would indicate he is a weakling and not my son) and you pledged 15 cents per foot, you would pay...come on now...It's just a little math...Sean, I am waiting for you...Jesus Christ, $15. Stick with round numbers when you pledge, Sean.

The goal/requirement of the Bat-a-Thon is for each kid to raise a minimum of $160, which is, yes, the same cost as the league fee. Apparently, Little League is like the nightclub that charges you to leave after you paid to get in.

Let me know if you can make a pledge and how much. I will reveal Berch's hitting distance once I have the pledges secure. If you could get back to me by Friday, that would be great.

Oh, did I mention the pledge is tax-deductible? The league's Federal Tax ID is 94-2951651. Uncle Sam loves him some baseball.

Thanks in advance, and the next time you see a little kid decked out in uniform shaking a can, tell him to get an email address.


P.S. The Little League Bat-a-Thon trumped the fund-raising drive for his elementary school's quilt. Yes, I said quilt. It seems people still make quilts. Next thing you'll tell me people still crochet. China is there for a reason, people!

My brother Sean's reply:


1 cent per foot, Guy, but I've got $ .50 per foot for anyone else on his team, just to teach dad a lesson and enjoy a nice tax break. Too bad I can't write off my betting losses. Oh well.


The lesson here is that the kids win and now that I have this committed to html, my brother is bound to his pledge. By my calculations, the total number of feet hit by all the other kids on the White Sox comes to 2,414, so that's $1,207.00 my brother will be donating. Sweet. Kids who raise over $500 get a T-shirt, logo'd ski cap, water bottle, baseball bag, logo'd blanket and 4 outfield Plaza seats to the A's.

Wait, the A's?

Rather than end on that sad note, here's another picture of my son manning first base:

 Grabbing his grapes just like a big leaguer.

Jerry and I Are Back Together!

It worked! My complaining about the Rem-Dawg dumping me on Twitter won him back. If you look at my Twitter account--click on the black box over there on the right--and view my followers, you will see one Jerry_Remy. He may have been a kind of average journeyman second baseman when I was a kid but he is one hell of a man now. Yup, it's TLF. I am officially a resident of his virtual Barnstable.

Don't believe the rumor that the only reason Jerry unfollowed me was an automated script utilized by his Twitter account. That is I was dumped because I didn't follow him within the prescribed time after he followed me. I didn't mention that I didn't follow Jerry on Twitter? Oh. Well, a girl loves to be chased. And I'm no slut. Anyhow, so it has nothing to do with the fact that I followed Jerry yesterday and he auto-reciprocated. Love doesn't work like that!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Jerry Remy Dumped Me

For a single, glorious day (May 24, 2010) Jerry Remy (@Jerry_Remy) followed me on Twitter. I wish I could claim this was a special privilege, shared only by the elect, but a quick inspection of the RemDawg's Twitter page reveals that as of 4:39 pm PT on May 25, 2010, he follows 46,167 Tweeps. That's about the same as the entire city of Barnstable. Have you been to Barnstable? Beautiful. Biggest city on Cape Cod. Nice shops. God's people live there. Great place to score drugs before you head off to the Vinyard. Bars are easy on the fake IDs. And yet, I am not good enough to be a member of Jerry Remy's virtual Barnstable.

Upon reflection, I think the reason I was "unfollowed" was this innocent tweet posted on, yes, May 24:

"The 4th place Sox are up 6-1 over the Rays and have won 4 of 5. Sox fans can soon return to being the cocky, entitled bunch everyone loves."

It was a bit of a jab at the sea of Sullies who invade every park the Red Sox visit. I know this bunch. I am one. However, I like to think I don't cross the line enough to end up like this guy:

"I still say Philly sucks."

By the way, I found Lippy on first page of Google Images when I entered "drunk Red Sox fan." Yeah, his family is proud. Regardless of how much this bespectacled douche with his too-hot-for-him girlfriend deserved it--and, man, just wearing a tweed jacket over a sweatshirt is pretty damned deserving--I will stand by my fellow Sox fans. Yes, we are loud. Yes, we are entitled. Yes, you want to punch us. But we aren't going anywhere. Unless the Sox start losing every year, then the bandwagon, Fitzie-come-latelys will jump all over the Bruins or Patriots not understanding that suffering is essential to the art of being a Red Sox fan. To them, being a Sox fan consists of pounding Sam Adams, screaming "Jetah's a fuckin' fag," and trying to hump the local water buffalo found at the Cask n' Flagon.

After grazing on marsh grass, the buffalo enjoy a good drink.
Wait, Jerry, this was supposed to be an apology. Really. I love the Sox...and most of their fans. Just follow me on Twitter.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Land of the Lost: My Fantasy Team Sucks (Part 3: Outfield Edition)

Last Monday I listed the infielders on my fantasy team in an attempt to better understand the exact degree of suck my team has reached. While we have not completed our analysis, the early indications are it sucks more than Courtney Love, who at least admits why she works so hard. My team must adopt a similar work ethic if it has any hope of finishing in the running.

This post we will look at the outfielders and utility men on my team. The outfield, at least, is a bright spot. My hopes are pinned on them to revive the fortunes of the Sleestak.

The Outfield

Josh Hamilton: I was on board for his redemptive season in 2008 and was so won over by the overcoming of adversity story run out there by every journalist with a little Rick Reilly (or a lot of Jesus Christ) in them, that I made him a two-year keeper. This means I was on board for last season, when he fell off the wagon (albeit briefly), got injured and contributed next to nothing to my team. In case you missed it, in January of 2009 Josh Hamilton, married, Christian and formerly and quite publicly drug addicted, met some girls in an Arizona bar who just out to have some fun that night. They said hello to this young Christian soldier and in no time at all, shots were consumed, nipples exposed and the whipping cream came out. Sadly, I am not describing what happened to the girls. See the photo below:

How come I get the whipping cream and they get their eyes blacked out?

Hamilton made an apology to his wife, his fans and his team for the incident. However, he never has apologized for the .268/.741/10 HR/54 RBI season he hung on his fantasy owners in the summer that followed him getting triple-creamed. And let's just thank the collective Internet for having the decency to obscure the identities of these three innocent young country girls overcome by the charms of this raffish big leaguer.

This season, Hamilton looks like he is on his way back...to sobriety. He is driving the ball (seven homers in 36 games versus ten in 89 games last year) and has talented bats all around him. Josh will deliver 3rd or 4th round value this season and most importantly when whipping cream is spread on his chest it is always done so in the shape of the cross.

Matt Kemp: Now Matt Kemp knows how to spend his off-season and who to spend it with. Instead of getting worked all across the Internet by three nameless (and eyeless) princesses of the desert, Kemp made news by shacking up with and getting engaged to Rihanna. Sure, there are countless sites with the picture him sinking all ten fingers into her hams, but this is clearly a classy situation and one at which no blogger would look askance. For this newly engaged couple is truly, madly, deeply in love. Or, as Bossip puts it, "Matt must be knocking the Goat Curry out of her hips." Matt has also been knocking the Goat Curry out of National League pitching, and (he said licking his fingers) that shit tastes good. I may just need to change my team name to Goat Curry.

Rihanna's second favorite Goat Curry recipe.

This also demonstrates the cultural divide between Los Angeles and Tempe, where the photo of Josh Hamilton was taken. In Tempe, the sexual cuisine is clicheed. Whipping cream? Come on. What was next, the Josher sticking his dick in a tub of chocolate syrup while the three harpies fought to prove who had the biggest sweet tooth? My money is on the blonde. In Los Angeles, they have more refined tastes. While Kemp is knocking her curry out, you can be sure Rihanna will be drawing vodka-marinated lychee nuts from his ass. Mmmmm. Haute Cuisine.

Nelson Cruz: The guy who batted seventh for much of last season hit seven home runs in the first 11 games of the season, perhaps making his own modest argument for a more prominent spot in the lineup. Nelson Cruz is a man-beast and who doesn't love man-beasts? Lambs? OK, the lambs who are rent limb from limb by marauding man-beasts don't like them but, shit, lambs don't play fantasy baseball. By the way, is Ron Washington a lamb? He must hate Cruz because he has him batting in the sixth spot every chance he gets. I get that the Rangers' lineup is stacked but Cruz is the most talented bat they have. He should  be hitting fifth at least. Of course, by hitting him down in the order, Washington gives Rangers bloggers a season's worth of articles, all asking why in God's name won't Washington hit Cruz higher in the order and can you just imagine what Cruz's numbers would be batting clean-up? And somewhere soon after these questions are asked, the coke jokes will come rolling out. I mean what other explanation could there be? If bloggers sitting in their bong-reeking basements know Cruz should be batting fifth, the only reason the well-paid Washington could have him hitting sixth is cocaine. Case closed. Christ, I should've been a prosecutor.

Carlos Gonzalez: You may have noticed a pattern with my outfielders. All are power-speed guys. I am a sucker for the power speed combo and no position fields more guys who can knock 20 home runs and steal 20 bases in a season than outfield. CarGo, as Gonzalez is affectionately known on the message boards, is just the next edition of this Sleestak special. He, like Cruz and Kemp is a free swinger (4 BBs to 26 Ks this season), yet Gonzalez's stroke is so good he maintains a decent average (.328 thus far). He is in the first year of a three-year keeper contract and is the heir to Matt Kemp's throne. If he continues to develop as he has, he will be a first round talent within a few seasons. He was the best acquisition I made last year--he costs just a 27th round pick--and almost makes up for the fact that Chris Davis will be on my team next season.

Curtis Granderson: Let me get this out there right now: I love Curtis Granderson the baseball player; I hate him on my fantasy team. He plays hard. He plays excellent defense. He runs the bases well. He has good power. He is one of the class acts of major league baseball. He also strikes out a ton and kills your batting average in his down years--like last season when he hit .251 in 630 at-bats. So, why did I select him in the fourth round of our draft? Because my brain froze after Sunny took Jose Reyes ahead of him. I was fully expecting to land Reyes and when he was gone, I had no contingency plan. Gentleman, if there is anything life or Maniac Cop has taught us, you must have a contingency plan. Now Granderson is sitting on my DL with a shredded groin and remains weeks away from coming back to my team and punishing its already craptastic batting average. Maniac Cop, on the other hand, sits unrented in your local video store and is just waiting for you.

Julio Borbon: Surely you remember this guy. The darling of March message boards and the apple of every fantasy blogger's eye? You know, based on his .300 minor league average and the 19 bases he stole in 46 games after being called up last season. He was going to lead off for the mighty Rangers offense, show off his winged heels on the basepaths and score runs by the bushelful. What, you don't measure by the bushel? Well, as some old bastard once said--probably right he after said get off his lawn--you can't steal first. Borbon is hitting .230 on the season and this is actually good news considering how poorly he started the year. The bigger problem is that even on those occasions when his shadow does fall across the foul line at first base, he is content to let it stay there. One of the fastest men in baseball has just six stolen base attempts on the season. What can possibly be the reason for this insanity? Clearly, Ron Washington is chasing after the rails of the crazy train.


Travis Hafner: They say Travis got his nickname "Pronk" by crossing "project" with "donkey." Why project? Because he was seen as one as a baseball player. Why donkey? Well, let's just say the desert princesses who waylayed the Josher sure wish Hafner had been there that night. For all those good chuckles, Hafner sucks. He's hitting .252 with 4 dongs and 10 RBI. Did I mention he's hitting clean-up? So, there you have it: hung like a donkey; hits like a donkey.

Juan Uribe: Not to be confused with Ugueth Urbina, famous for torturing laborers with paint thinner and a machete on his ranch in Venezuela. Note to self: If ever you find yourself working as a ranch-hand in Venezuela, do not steal from the Urbinas. I mention this only because Mark O'Brien, known as Duff in She's a Keeper, confused the two at a recent Giants game we attended (more on that soon). Juan is nothing like the somewhat temperamental Uggie. He is your classic utility infielder (2B/SS/3B) with a penchant for the RBI. He currently leads the Giants with 23. Once Granderson is back, Uribe is likely to be my go-to guy off the bench for my infielders when one of them slumps. I'll never get good trade value for him as he has no name recognition, but it's all good. Uribe will remain an unsung asset on a crappy fantasy team. Urbina will remain in jail.

Aubrey Huff: If "solid but unspectacular" had a picture under it's definition in the most unlikely dictionary ever printed, it might have one of Aubrey Huff there. Or Rutherford B. Hayes. Sadly, with my team's woeful offensive output, solid but unspectacular is just what the doctor ordered. I mean, sure, everyone loves spectacular. But what does spectacular get you in the end? Whipping Cream, girls and Goat Curry? Millions of dollars? The championship of the She's a Keeper fantasy league?

I feel sorry for me.