Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Give the Idiots Some Credit

If you're tired of the media, check out my newest piece on JOCKpost. If you're too lazy to click and just want to read what's in front of you, Adam Berger is back to provide you with some 3-4 minute entertainment below.

Give the Idiots Some Credit

The bases are loaded and
Jorge Posada is at the plate. The man one row back makes an innocent comment, almost.

“Man, I really hope he hits a 4-run homer.”

And there it is. That’s all it takes.

For the rest of the game this guy, with all the good intentions in the world, will scream at the sight of a lazy fly ball hit to right-centerfield. He’ll think that it’s going to leave the park. He’ll make plenty more of these comments throughout the game before leaving in the seventh inning, asking out loud how the other team’s runner was able to score from third, even though the
left fielder easily caught that ball.

For the well-informed, diehard sports fan these spectators plague the ballpark. It will take every ounce of willpower for the diehard to refrain from turning around and lecturing the man, informing him that the correct phrasing for a bases loaded home run is a
grand slam. That, before celebrating, he should really watch the outfielder’s reaction to the ball before prematurely shrieking at the fly ball that really never had a chance of clearing the fence. That, in baseball, a runner can score from third on a sacrifice fly.

Ballparks, stadiums and arenas are filled with these comments and most could care less when they hear them.

Some people are different, however. Some people view sports as religion and sitting in the stands as a way of observing that religion.

This is admittedly a bit of an extreme comparison but it’s not a wrong one. People take their sports seriously and want those around them to also. There’s nothing worse then someone saying “it’s only a game,” because as we all know that’s hardly ever true, even in a game of Madden.

The person sitting in these same stands who wonders loudly as to whether or not a shot taken and hit from beyond half court will count as four points is simply an outsider.

These outsiders represent the wave-starters, the
bandwagon fan, and worst of all the person who pays to put his or her name on a custom made jersey.

The reality is that these casual sports fans are good for sports whether diehard fans like it or not. Sure, They may say some curious things, but they keep the stands full and the games loud. They add to the atmosphere and, when it comes down to it, they're harmless.

Maybe they can’t be converted into diehard fans. That takes a lot. But give them credit for trying. They just try a little too loudly.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Podcast Episode #5

It's been a while, but the podcast is back. Hopefully this actually becomes a regular occurrence. I'm confident our new intro and passionate sports discussion will tickle your fancy. If not, well, humor me and take a quick listen.

Guest: Max Winograd


1) Free Agency Sweepstakes
2) Hard Knocks - New York Jets
3) Cliff Lee
4) New York Mets

Friday, June 25, 2010

Morning After Revelations

What ever happened to the days when teams said "I'll give you this guy if you give me that guy?" Obviously they have disappeared faster than a Jerome James hamburger. Now it seems that we are in a changing NBA. Although this trend began over 10 years ago, it never reared its ugly head so blatantly as it did yesterday. The trade?

The Bulls trade Kirk Hinrich and the 17th overall pick (Kevin Seraphin) to Washington for a second round pick.

Had you told Red Auerbach to trade 2 apples for 1/2 an apple, he would have scorned you endlessly. That is essentially what we are witnessing here.

A growing chasm has developed in the NBA. The contenders and the non-contenders. You're either dumping salary to rebuild or absorbing salary to field a championship team. While I understand that the Bulls wanted to clear more cap space to sign two max contract players, this is bordering on ridiculous.

In fantasy sports, commissioner or league review must approve every deal to maintain the integrity of the league. Before you say it, I realize that fantasy sports team management is very different from real life sports management. Yet I would like to see commissioner league review of every trade (beyond what it is now). League reivew is obviously unfeasible simply because of the bias that would stand in the way. No contending team would have allowe Pau Gasol to be traded to the Lakers for draft picks and a gun. But for the Hinrich trade, shouldn't the commissioner have to review the trade for more than its compliance with the salary cap? Other teams in the free agent race have found creative ways to open up cap space. The Bulls should have to as well. Obviously this is walking a very dangerous line, but a potentially necessary step if trades such as the Hinrich one continue.

One other draft thought: for anyone who may have attended live, an interesting situation arose (I was not there but someone I know who was described it to me). Before the Wizards selected John Wall first overall, media swarmed the room. Whether it was interviews, networking, or simple standing around, finding room to maneuver was, simply put, difficult. Then John Wall walked on stage, shook David Stern's hand, and the room emptied out almost immediately. This only leads me to one conclusion.

Our society is absurdly star-struck.

For quite some time, we have known that the Wizards and John Wall represented an arranged marriage. Still, hundreds of reporters could not and did not display any patience to witness the rest of, and more exciting part of the draft: the unknown. I don't have any astonishing or breakthrough proclamation about this absurdity, but it's just a little disappointing.

Monday, June 21, 2010

10 Worst NBA Draft Day Trades

The NBA Draft is upon us. Sports blogging laws dictate that I provide an insightful mock draft, but I decided to go a different route. Here are the 10 most lopsided draft day trades ever.

10. 2001 - The New Jersey Nets trade Eddie Griffen to the Houston Rockets for Richard Jefferson, Jason Collins and Brandon Armstrong.

The Nets acquired two future NBA Finals starters, and the Rockets acquired an alcoholic. Well done.

9. 2002 - The Knicks trade Nene, Mark Jackson, and Marcus Camby to Denver for Antonio McDyess, coming off major knee surgery, and the No. 25 pick (Frank Williams).

Instead of rebuilding a team way past its prime (the Ewing, Houston, Sprewell era), the Knicks trade for an injured superstar. Only if we had realized that this was the precursor to a decade of New York basketball misery.

8. 2001 - The Atlanta Hawks trade Pau Gasol (No. 3 overall) Brevin Knight and Lorenzen Wright to the Vancouver Grizzlies for Shareef Abdur-Rahim and a pick.

Only one explanation here: Atlanta did not want to maim their fans with constant pictures of Gasol as the centerpiece of their rebuilding effort.

7. 2007 - The Seattle Supersonics trade Ray Allen and the No. 35 pick to the Boston Celtics for Delonte West, Wally Szczerbiak and the No. 5 pick (Jeff Green).

That No. 35 pick is our favorite, drooling, overweight NBA Shrek: Glen "Big Baby" Davis. Jeff Green is a solid player, but c'mon Seattle. I understand you were dumping salary to rebuild, but you at least could have made a better pick.

6. 2006 - Portland Trail Blazers trades Randy Foye to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Brandon Roy.

Who was the GM for Minnesota? You guessed it. Kevin McHale.

5. 2006 - The Phoenix Suns trade the No. 21 pick, Brian Grant and cash to the Boston Celtics for a future first round pick.

That 21st pick morphed into Rajon Rondo. Why is it that the Suns continue cutting salary? If the owner doesn't want to spend money, he should just give up the team. Throw a part or two more Phoenix's way and we're looking at a championship team. Too bad they'll be back at square one when Amare leaves and Nash retires.

4. 2001 - Chicago Bulls trade Elton Brand to the Los Angeles Clippers for Tyson Chandler and Brian Skinner.

I know, surprising that the Clippers found themselves on the winning side of a trade. Too bad they wasted Brand's prime by enabling Mike Dunleavy to single-handedly set back the franchise 10 years.

3. 1998 - The Milwaukee Bucks trades Robert "Tractor" Traylor to the Dallas Mavericks for Dirk Nowitzki and Pat Garrity.

Even Pat Garrity was better than the Tractor. At the time, this trade didn't seem so terrible, considering the NBA was still in the "international players can never succeed simply because we are ignorant" phase. We all know how this one turned out.

2. 1987 - The Seattle Supersonics trade Scottie Pippen to the Chicago Bulls for Olden Polynice.

Who? Exactly. I didn't even know about this one until I did a bit of research. Now we know why Seattle had to eventually move.

1. 1996 - The Charlotte Hornets trade Kobe Bryant to the Los Angeles Lakers for Vlade Divac.

Think about the implications here for a moment. If Kobe stays in Charlotte, maybe the team generates enough buzz to remain in Charlotte. Consequently, Michael Jordan never owns the Charlotte Bobcats and quietly ruins their team with terrible drafting (Adam Morrison, anyone). Meanwhile, the Laker dynasty never happens because the Kings win game 7 against the Lake Show (Although Tim Donaghy is still the ref, so who knows). In short, this trade changed the course of the NBA for quite a few years.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Throw Him to the Dogs

I am not alone in witnessing the travesty that overwhelmed and became the centerpiece of the U.S.A. vs. Slovenia match. We can all claim that had the U.S. played better in the first half, the referee's impact would have been diminished. But they didn't. And the ref did make the difference. A win is a win. And the U.S. won.

Yet the standings will not reflect this 3-2 victory, but a mere 2-2 draw. In post match press conferences and interviews, many players and coaches will and have already been questioned about the referee's blunders. During these same periods of questioning, they will have to answer for their own play and decision making. But what about the ref? Should he not have to answer for himself as well?

I say, throw him to the dogs. And by the dogs, I mean the media. Post match press conference. Answer for your horrible call which you refused to explain on the field. If it was an honest mistake, so be it. It's unfortunate, but not despicable. But if he maintains that Edu committed a foul, he should have to answer the tough questions. A referee does his job by remaining invisible. If you can't remember the name of the game's refs, they have done their job, no matter the sport. Today, however, he came to the forefront and allowed his preemptive whistle-blowing to solidify its mark on the game.

Although obviously on a completely different scale, this situation reminds me of the Jim Joyce fiasco. He blew the call, but didn't know it. After seeing the replay and realizing the error of his ways, he not only admitted his folly, but apologized. A class act. It's too early to get this ref's reaction, but hopefully he reaches down and taps into his inner Jim Joyce. Although we as fans expect better from world class refs, it is a regrettable, but a forgivable mistake. If he wants to redeem himself, discover some class and honesty and admit your mistake. Instead of hiding behind the over-arching shadow of FIFA, step foward and be noticable (like you were during the game). If you remain in the shadows, you will be infamously known for your blown call and regarded with malice and hatred. If you step forward and do the right thing, you may be able to partially remedy this potentially devastating situation for U.S. soccer.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Stop Being a World Cup Hater

We have a new writer, boys and girls: Adam Berger. He has a little something to say about the World Cup and all you haters out there. So be nice and enjoy.

Stop Being a World Cup Hater
by Adam Berger

Sports fans in the United States are spoiled, plain and simple. The U.S. is home to the top professional leagues for football, baseball, basketball and hockey.

Consequently, we here in the United States are not accustomed to watching an inferior product on the playing field, and there are very few instances in our sports-conscious life when a fan will ever have to do so, even if you're a member of Raider Nation.

Nevertheless, once every four years sports fans in the U.S. receive a collective slap in the face and are reminded that American sports are not the center of the universe. The FIFA World Cup is that reminder, and that reminder is happening right now.

Soccer just isn’t popular at the professional level in the United States. Every year it seems like there is a new report saying that soccer is on the brink of taking the country by storm.

In reality, the MLS is to the Premier League (England) what Double-A Baseball is to the MLB here. This quality of soccer might be entertaining and have a niche of fans, but as was previously alluded to before, sports fans in the United States are not used to or open to watching anything less than a top notch product.

One of the biggest problems that stems from this line of thinking is the subsequent attitude that springs up from sports elitists here in the United States when the World Cup starts. We’ve all heard it before. Soccer is stupid, they say. It’s boring and it’s a dull sport. This coming from people that can sit through a four-hour game of baseball, at the edge of their seats the entire time, never once taking a moment to glance at a watch.

It’s not that soccer is a dull game, and its not that it is somehow “below” the four major sports covered in the United States. It’s that sports fans here are not used to soccer, and it is therefore somehow acceptable to look down upon the game. This is by no means everyone’s view, but there certainly are a large portion of American sports fans who share this elitist sentiment towards soccer.

This is a call for sports fans in the U.S. to keep an open mind to the World Cup and embrace it for what it is. No one is asking you to buy MLS season tickets, or to wake up at seven in the morning to watch Germany play Serbia. The World Cup is a tremendous opportunity to watch soccer, one of the world’s most popular games, at an elite level that we here in the United States have come to expect from the sports that we watch.

The MLS may never get to this level, but for the next month and every four years that follow we get a chance to see what all the fuss is about, and have a vested rooting interest at the same time, Not a bad deal. So watch the cup.

Its good for you.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Donnie's Hidden Powers

Chris Broussard began the charge to dismiss New York from the LeBron sweepstakes and cloud our minds with Chicago-centric thoughts. Then the Russian rockstar Mikhail Prokhorov swept us off of our collective feet with his promise of championships and penchant for trafficing women accross borders. Add Jay-Z and Brooklyn to the equation, and basketball fans found themselves mystified by the possibilities of money, fame and culture all in one. Meanwhile, Cleveland lingered as the true favorite. But since its early departure from the NBA's biggest stage, they have only managed to decrease stability and demonstrate extreme desperation to keep the city's biggest star in his home state.

And finally, hiding quietly below the supposed favorites to land LeBron was New York, whose greatest claim to basketball fame came in the form of Anucha Browne Sanders, Stephon Marbury and most notably, Isiah Thomas. The outlook, simply put, was bleak. So much so that Donnie Walsh sacrificed two seasons for the mere chance at signing LeBron. But now that July 1 looms, the media has portrayed all of Donnie's wheeling and dealing as nothing other than in vain. I am here to tell you that it was not.

I am not so bold as to say the Knicks have the best chance at signing the King; simply that it's better than most assume. We have one, lazy, injured, slow, out of shape, defensively challenged, 7 foot, 295 lb. reason to thank for our improved chances. That's right: Eddy Curry.

Free Agent-A-Palooza has inexorably chained our minds to the present. And at this present time, Chicago is the best destination for LeBron. A nucleus of Joakim Noah, Luol Deng and Derrick Rose is stronger than one of Danilo Gallinari, Toney Douglas and Wilson Chandler. However, unlike any other team participating in the sweepstakes, the Knicks have a large, expiring contract to play with. Once Curry cashes in on his 1 year, $11.3 million player option, he will officially fall into the Theo Ratliff category: a player whose expiring contract is more valuable than his talent.

Imagine Donnie Walsh pitching the following scenario to LeBron:

LeBron and Bosh sign with New York to create the following starting lineup: Bosh, James, Gallinari, Chandler, Douglas. This team probably does not win an NBA championship, but at the least puts the team in the playoff picture. Then, at the trade deadline, when a terrible Atlanta (because Joe Johnson signed somewhere else) begins to dump payroll, Donnie uses the Curry contract to swing a trade for Josh Smith. Or, when Detroit is in a similar situation, Donnie trades for Rodney Stuckey. The possibilities are numerous. So even though initially the Knicks cannot supply the greatest opportunity for championships, the Eddy Curry contract provides flexibility.

If you find this scenario unlikely at best, let's digest another. The Knicks simply hold onto Curry, and release him after the 2010-2011 season. After clearing another 5 or so million from the cap through more wheeling and dealing, the Knicks would have space for another max contract. And who are free agents after the 2010-2011 season? Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony. While Anthony may represent an unideal fit with ball dominating LeBron in the picture, who better to sign than a top 3 point guard? Chris Paul most likely does not want to finish his career surrounded by Peja Stojakovic and James Posey. New York, on the other hand, can provide the talent and money New Orleans lacks. And don't discount the team U.S.A. chemistry.

As I mentioned before, I am not completely blinded by my bias. I understand that the scenarios I have presented are, at best, only somewhat likely. I am, however, frustrated by the media's insistance on New York's inability to accomodate LeBron's desire of winning. The expiration of Eddy Curry's contract adds a dimension that no other team possesses; the ability to acquire a third star. And, as all NBA pundits should know, you can never underestimate Donnie.

Friday, June 11, 2010

World Cup Bracket

The Gods did not limit brackets to March Madness. That said, here's my World Cup bracket.

Two other notes:

Did anyone notice that the key to the offense with 4 minutes left in the 4th quarter was a Nate Robinson/Rasheed Wallace pick and roll? I think that thoroughly explains why L.A. could not pull out a victory.

Also, if you subscribe to Pardon the Opinioin via email, please subscribe again. I had to reinstall the email application, so you will not receive an email update until you resubscribe. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Best Moments of the NBA Finals Thus Far

If you have been previously unable to determine Tony Allen's exact role on the Celtics, let me clear up that issue for you.

Also, has Chris Rock lost his touch or does Kobe simply have a high comedy standard? Your guess is as good as mine.

More importantly: if you're against pitch counts, you should check out my latest article on JOCKpost. If you're not, you should check it out anyway.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Man Up, LeBron

I am, I have been, and I always will be a LeBron lover and a Kobe hater. Kobe may epitomize the ultimate 4th quarter closer, but the game is already in hand with LeBron on the floor for the first 36 minutes. Is Kobe more skilled? Absolutely. But you simply cannot teach your kid, no matter the combination of PEDs, to become a fast and agile 6'8, 250 lbs. giant.

LeBron's recent free agent hype has soured me for a few reasons:

1) If he returns to Cleveland, I simply ask, what was the point of all this? If he returns to Cleveland, it's simply out of loyalty. Cleveland management has proven that their greatest asset is acquiring aged and pricey former talent. Mo Williams, the supposed cure to Cleveland's backcourt illness, disappears faster from the playoffs than that dude from Jumper. So if he's going to stay, its mostly out loyalty to his home state.

2) Larry King Live? Really? The only person he's willing to converse with publicly is a man who has to look down at his notes to name the other free agents. Only two reasons exist for this interview. Either he's hoping to improve his likability among the 55-years-old+ demographic, or, the more likely scenario, he's promoting his brand globally. But to do it in such an obvious fashion is a slap in the face to the NBA, especially during the NBA Finals. LeBron claims he wants to help improve the NBA, but in fact all he's doing is taking attention away from the Finals, and instead, hurting it.

3) LeBron skipped a live appearance at Game 2 last night. I understand his desire to remain disconnected with the public. But if he's going to create so much hype through his free agency, the least he can do is make more than 2 public appearances per month.

That said, I still like the man. I still pray every night that he comes to the Knicks and grabs our franchise by the collar and pulls it out of the gutter. And New York sewers are pretty gross. He's still better than Kobe. I just wish he acted with a little more integrity. If you're not going to re-sign, come out and say it. Give Cleveland a chance to rebuild. If you want to leave Cleveland with the money, just go ahead and ask for the sign and trade. But just do something. You're killing us. And you're making us hate you.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Hatin' on the NBA Finals

I needed an excuse to provide the link to you, my faithful readers, for my latest article on JOCKpost. So here's the link (again), and the excuse is below:

The best part? The slow motion close up of the crossover of death followed by unnecessary analysis. The only thing missing is a reference to Grant Hill's 945 ankle surgeries.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Kobe, Kendry and the Blue Jays

There are a few things floating around my head that need conversion to the written word.

1) Is anyone else a little disappointed that Kobe Bryant doesn't have a signature celebration? The Alvin Gentry slap combined with a randomly childish airplane did not suffice. He does not have any particular beef with Gentry like the Reggie/Spike choke and ball-grab. He just clinched the series. You'd think he'd come up with something a little, well, more mature and relevant.

2) An interesting argument I had with a friend: Which injury is worse? Bill Gramatica's torn ACL celebrating a field goal or Kendry Morales' broken ankle while celebrating a walk-off? We've decided that it all depends on how Morales bounces back. Bill Gramatica's excitement ended his career. TBD with Morales. Although I think when all the cards are on the table, Bill shall prevail.

3) I really do feel bad for the Toronto Blue Jays. Take them out of the AL East, and they probably won't fade by early July. Meanwhile the AL West wallows in mediocrity. One more thing regarding that awful division. How is it that the AL and NL West have 4 teams while the NL Central has 6? Just saying.