Thursday, May 31, 2007
Lebron is going to save us the boredom of another Spurs/Pistons final. We are at the dawn of another golden age of NBA basketball. Ignore those who say otherwise.
Yesterday Alex Rodriguez shouted something while passing Blue Jays third baseman Howie Clark, distracting him and causing him to let a routine pop-up fall. If Pete Rose did it in 1975, it would have been considered a heady play, by a guy who just wants to win. Since it was A-Rod, it was labeled a dirty play. Was it Bush League? Sure, but I love it. In fact, I hope this is a sign of things to come.
Alex, besides me, nobody likes you anyway. Therefore, you should just embrace your inner-heel. Be the dick everybody thinks you are. Tell children that there is no Santa Claus. Trip old ladies. Move to the San Fernando Valley, dye your hair blond, and a join a dojo whose sole purpose is to torment the working-class Italian kid that just moved from Jersey. Enjoy yourself. What's the worst that can happen? You'll get bad press?
SHYD is proud to honor Allison Stokke as our inaugural amateur student-athlete of the week. Allison was the 2006 California State Pole Vaulting champion and currently holds five amateur pole vaulting national records. Congratulations Allison on this magnificent accomplishment!
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
A bombshell was dropped in Tinseltown today when everyone's favorite heel- Kobe, a.k.a.-the mamba, a.k.a.-the rapist, Bryant demanded a trade from Jack Nicholson, Dianne Cannon and the rest of Lakerland because he feels he was misled about their alleged desire to compete for a championship immediately following the departure of The Big Aristotle. Granted, noone was more unlikable over the past 8 years for a multitude of reasons-the three straight championships, the incident in Eagle, running Shaq out of town, his amazing trick flailing elbow, etc...But im guessing any NBA fan who has read this article has already run the trade scenario of what his team would have to give up to obtain Kobe through his head (personally I think a package of Shawn Marion, Leandro Barbosa, a first this year and the Hawks unprotected next year would work nicely.) Knicks fans aside who no doubt wouldn't care, (they would sign Charles Manson to an eight year deal at this point if he had a jump shot) I would bet thatfans of the other 28 teams would have a new take on #24's trials and tribulations. Suddenly "the rapist" would be "the guy who was framed by that crazy white chick" and the "ballhog" would be a "scorers fist mentality with a killer instinct". And thats what makes sports great-if the most talented jerk in the game is traded to your team he will suddenly in your eyes make a heel to face turn quicker than if he took a steel chair to the back of Vince McMahon's head. Lets face it-you hate him now-but you want him.
(Thanks to Dan Shanoff)
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Contrary to prevailing opinions, the Spurs don't play an inherently boring brand of basketball. They have guys who can penetrate and slash (Parker and Ginobili), shoot (Bowen), and feature arguably the second-best player of the post-Jordan era in Tim Duncan (Shaq being the best). Even with Duncan dominating the low post, the team moves the ball extremely well, which I think is the most exciting part of half court basketball. The team is a nice blend of skill players and blue collar types, plays defense so well that Larry Brown no longer needs to watch German Scheizer (sp?) vids, and is generally efficient in both open and half court settings.
I'm also surprised by the general ambivalence shown towards the Spurs. They have three very hateable players- Ginobili and Oberto (based on their Eurotrash looks and playing style), and Bruce Bowen, who would've been right at home playing for the Bad Boy Pistons. Those three alone should generate enough heat to where the Spurs are one of the biggest heels in the league, but for some reason this has not yet occurred.
My only real explanation for the attitude toward the Spurs is boredom. Boredom based not necessarily how they play, but because they have been so good for so long there is simply nothing interesting about them. NBA fans have seen Duncan, Parker, and company countless times in this situation. At least the Cavs-Pistons series has some cache because it's Bron Bron's first time in the Conference Finals. For the Spurs there are simply no new angles. No player captures the imagination and attention of viewers. There is surely a sizable black lash against the Spurs because of the way they beat the Suns, but I believe that even if the suspensions had not occurred and the Spurs had still won, the public attitude would still be the same. After beating the Suns, there was initially a small sentiment of outrage, but those emotions have morphed into were ambivalence. It's more of a statement on human nature than on the Spurs basketball aptitude.
Monday, May 28, 2007
1) The First Base Situation- You simply can not carry 3 players that can not play anywhere but first base, especially when 2 of them are not very good hitters. Even the Bush Administration would recognize this as poor planning. Mientkiewicz has been as useless as expected and Phelps has been only marginally better. Both of these men should be playing out the rest of their careers in Triple-A, hoping for an injury to a real Major Leaguer. Instead the Yankees are carrying both of them.
(This Yankees season should permanently put to rest the notion that any team can "carry" a bad hitter, particularly a first baseman. This notion has always been ridiculous and coincides with the equally ludicrous idea that a team can have too many superstars and not enough role players. Baseball is unlike the other major sports in that every one of your starters has nearly an equal amount of opportunities to affect the offense. The Lakers can run nearly every offensive play through Kobe Bryant. They would be wise to surround Kobe with guys that don't need many touches in order to have an impact on the game. Baseball does not work this way. The Yankees can not decide "This is an important spot. We want the bat in Jeter's hands." He only gets to bat one out of every nine plate appearances for the Yankees. In baseball, one can never know who he will need a big hit from in any given day. Therefore, teams should try to field a lineup in which all nine guys can get a hit.)
2) Carl Pavano's Injuries- This guy is likely to finish his 4 year Yankees career with 19 starts. I have nothing original to contribute to the discussion about the most deservedly maligned New York athlete of my lifetime. I will just say that I would depend on the late Mr. Perfect/Curt Hennig (the backstabbin'est backstabber in an industry of backstabbers), before counting on Carl Pavano to stay healthy for a season.
3) Kei Igawa's Struggles- I gave Cashman the benefit of the doubt on this signing at the time, hoping he saw something nobody else did. He was wrong. Igawa pitches as effeminately as he looks.
4) The Bench- The thing that intrigues me most about Wil Nieves is how he manages to suck and blow at the same time. He put up a .644 OPS last year in Triple A. This year his is 3 for 29. I know pickin's are slim at back-up catcher, but Cashman should have found SOMEONE a bit more competent.
Miguel Cairo is in his third year of riding out his surprisingly mediocre 2004 season. It's amazing how many chances guys get once they receive the label "Major Leaguer". Cairo's resume shows nothing to suggest that he is of any value to a Major League team at this point.
1) Injuries to the Rotation- Wang and Mussina missed significant time with leg injuries. Capable replacements, Jeff Karstens and Darrel Rasner are both out for several months on injuries suffered on come-backers. Phil Hughes pulled his hamstring in the midst of a no-hitter. The Yankees have used already used 11 starters this year. Nobody could have predicted that.
2) Age Catching Up with EVERYBODY AT ONCE- Johnny Damon, Jason Giambi, and Bobby Abreu are all looking like shells of their former selves. Mike Mussina is rarely touching 90 MPH anymore. Mariano Rivera has joined the ranks of the mortals this season. If you told me two of these guys were going to slip, I wouldn't have been shocked. That all 5 of them have played as poorly as they have is killing the Yankees.
3) Robinson Cano's Junior Slump- In his third year, the league seems to have adjusted to Cano's free-swinging ways, by consistently throwing him garbage. Recently he has shown signs of life, but his season has still been an unmitigated disappointment.
4) Bad Luck in Close Games- As poorly as the Yankees have played, they have still outscored their opponents by twenty runs this season. Based upon this, they should be 26-23. However, they are 21-28, due mostly to a 2-9 record in one run games. While a teams record in one run games is mostly a function of luck, that is of no consolation when faced with a 13.5 game deficit in your division.
With Clemens joining the team and Phil Hughes returning soon, I think the Yankees will finish the season with 86 to 88 wins. That will probably be about 5 games too few wins to win the Wild Card. Despite his mistakes, I hope Brian Cashman is able to keep his job and Joe Torre is given the Jeff Van Gundy treatment.
Saturday, May 26, 2007
Friday, May 25, 2007
So you would think that they actually watch sporting events, right? WRONG. Today they opened their show discussing the Mets-Braves game played last night. Neither of them had actually watched the game though. At least they admitted that, but on a relatively slow sports night they couldn't find time to watch just a few innings of the rubber match between the first place hometown team taking on their division rivals, who were just 2 1/2 games out of first when the game started? Mike's beloved and Russo's hated Yankees weren't even playing and neither them likes the NBA anymore (they think it's too thuggish) so what could they have possibly been watching? Furthermore, when Mad Dog was discussing the Braves lineup he lauded praise on Francoeur, "that second baseman, and the catcher." For chrissakes, it is his job to follow sports and he can't even call Kelly Johnson and Brian McCann (both all-stars if the game were played today) by their proper names.
Another pet peeve of mine is that they openly flaunt the fact that they don't watch basketball (college or pro) or hockey during the regular season, yet when the NCAA Tournament or NHL/NBA playoffs come around they believe their opinions are the gospel and pontificate as if they are on the summit of Mt Sinai. I really wouldn't have a problem with this if these guys were insurance salesmen or financiers, but they are paid to deliver analysis of sporting events . How can you be taken seriously when a when your opinions are based solely on Sportscenter highlights or NY Post articles. It's just plain lazy. OK, I will now get off my soapbox.
Who the hell does Harvey Walden think he is? Did he not watch the "Bayside Triangle" Episode? Before you talk to Screech Powers like that, you better understand what he is capable of. I mean, just ask Zack Morris or his torn up shirt. Let me refresh your memory:
Zack: This has gone far enough, look I'm sorry I hurt you, all
Screech: Sorry? You're sorry? You were my best friend, Zack. You
had any other girl in the school...why Lisa? Why'd you have to
steal my dream? I hate you! (violently rips off Zach's shirt)....[May
I add, without tearing any buttons]
Even if, for some crazy reason, Harvey thought he could handle Screech, doesn't he know that Zack Morris and A.C. Slater are waiting for him backstage? I doubt that he would want to mess with somebody who got a wrestling scholorship to Iowa. I guess he also missed the famous "Fight Episode."
All I can say is that Harvey is really lucky there were a bunch of cameras around, otherwise I think he would have needed to be "Saved by the Bell."
- Jason Maxiell would be the second best player on the Cavs. He dunked on Lebron, Sasha P, and Sideshow Varejao each on separate occasions in the first half of Game 2.
- Tayshaun Prince is 1 for 19 in Games 1 & 2, and the Pistons still won both. This is not good news for the Cavs.
- Mike Brown could not coach his way out of a wet paper bag.
A lawyer for Dean Hancock, said. "It's our understanding that from the moment Josh Hancock entered Mike Shannon's that night that he was never without a drink." Bravo! I salute that bar for their wonderful service. How many times have you tried to fight your way through layers of douche bags and tit sacks, just to get one crappy Popov Vodka and tonic that was being served in a cup, similar in size to the Snoopy Cups provided at the water fountain at my pediatrician's office? What a great business plug for Mike Shannon's Restaurant. I am buying stock in this place as we speak.
Although Josh Hancock did make a power play in selecting a great bar, how come Mike Shannon has not pulled out the "Two-beer queer" defense. Lets think about this. Josh Hancock weighs in around 217 pounds according to Baseball Reference (so probably more like 205 -210). Now, Josh Hancock's blood alcohol level (BAL) was not even twice the legal limit. For him to reach that BAL, he had to drink about 8 drinks in a two hour period. I do not know what is worse, his career pitching stats or his drinking stats...ba zing! But seriously, we have all played Power Hour before (and probably 80 percent of us have driven home afterwords). Power Hour comes out to over 7 beers in a one hour time frame. And, that number does not consider the fact that many of us are not 217 pounds. When I go out, the DD is usually putting up those kind of numbers. I say that instead of suing all these people, Mr. Hancock should offer his son as the new poster boy for Zima.
Lastly if bars were not allowed drunk people, bars would no longer be in business, and ugly fat chicks everywhere would go home alone.
Here is my theory on why steroid stories continue to permeate newsprint. The stories write themselves. Combine 1 part Barry Bonds is cheater with one 1 part moral outrage, sprinkle in a few hack jokes, mix thoroughly, and in 20 minutes you will have your very own steroids article. Sports scribes simply churn out one of these prefabricated stories whenever they have writer's block, are on a hard deadline, or in a food related coma after hitting the buffet spread too aggressively.
Thursday, May 24, 2007
He was once the best prospect in the deal that sent Pedro Martinez from the Expos to the Red Sox. Now he has become a punchline in Yankee folklore. Carl Pavano will undergo Tommy John surgery, an operation that will most likely signify the end of his Yankee career. Pavano will go down in the annals of history as the worst Yankee free agent pickup to date, and probably one of the biggest busts since Andy Messersmith decided to exercise his employment rights. His failures must make Met fans look fondly upon the likes of Vince Coleman, Bobby Bonilla, and Kaz Matsui. At least Alyssa Milano had the foresight to dump this loser to start dating somewhat less fragile Dodgers starter Brad Penny.
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Initially, I thought this outcome was substantive proof that the draft lottery is not fixed, but this draw seems sure to ignite the Blazers-Sonics rivalry and may even lead to the Sonics remaining in Seattle. So ultimately this draft may save basketball in the Pacific Northwest.
That being said, having Durant and Oden hanging out in the Goondocks may have a negative impact on the the NBA since East Coast fans will generally not be able to watch the two most hyped rookies to enter the league at the same time since Magic and Bird. Fans like myself are going to have to rely on Sportscenter highlights, the early TNT/ESPN game, or when they come to town to dismantle the Knicks in order to view 'the future" in the present.
The big winner in all of this? The Trailblazers of course. They already have an impressive young nucleus featuring last year's Rookie of the Year Brandon Roy and #2 overall pick Lamarcus Aldridge. Oden would be a perfect fit next to the offensively minded Aldridge and will be able to get some easy baskets off of Roy's penetration. But what to do with Zach Randolph? The Blazers could go the Durant route, pop him into the SF spot, giving them a lineup featuring Roy, Durant, Aldridge, and Randolph. That is potentially as talented a lineup as any team in the West and can create matchup problems at four positions. It's a good time to be a Blazers fan. Of course they could say screw it and draft that Chinese 7 footer. That would be Sam Bowie's pick, so that he would no longer be considered the biggest blunder in franchise history (The Blazers drafted him over Michael Jordan).
The big loser? Bill Simmons. He must feel like an idiot now for having devoted 1000,000 to Durant/Oden/the Celtics tanking.
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
This year was no different. All of the action was spread over Curlin and Street Sense, and wouldn't you know it, they finished one and two in that order. In fact the top three favorites finished 1, 2, and you guessed it..3. So if you boxed a trifecta you won $50 on a $12 bet.
Thankfully, the Belmont is a longer race and will be a bit wide open, but after watching Curlin close on Saturday, the smart money would be on him. The best bet is to pair him up with a couple long shots and hope that your ship comes in.
I hope I didn't step on SYHD contributor Pete Rose's shoes with this post.
Now that this picture has surfaced from Tyler Clippard's Myspace account, it may be increasingly difficult for heterosexual Yankee fans to root for the young hurler. Since there are so few heterosexual Yankee fans however, revenue will not be effected in the slightest. In a related story, while the Yankees announced that they have placed an order for 500,000 pink Tyler Clippard jerseys, they have also banned all team personnel from having myspace accounts. Giambi will now have to meet young boys on street corners like a run of the mill perv.
Who does this kid think he is? Brady Quinn?
Monday, May 21, 2007
- David Wright has answered all of my recent concerns about him. I was still justified in questioning his performance, as he had been mediocre over his last 100 games.
- The Yankees played the Mets just about dead even this weekend, despite throwing their number 3,7,and 11 starters and having to use their bullpen for 9 innings on Saturday. The Yankees are probably still as good as anybody, but they won't make the playoffs. You just can't spot good teams 10.5 game leads (8 games in the wild card).
- Tyler Clippard was very impressive last night. He displaced pretty good command, a nice slider and changeup, a deceptive motion, and a visage disturbingly similar to Clay Aiken's. He kept an excellent Mets lineup off balance for 6 solid innings. If he can stay healthy, I'm fairly high on the Yankee Clippard. I'm only cautiously optimistic that I will eventually be able to watch him pitch without thinking of America's favorite effeminate, Southern, reality show runner-up.
P. S. I couldn't find a pic that properly captured Clippard's resemblance to Aiken. Watch him pitch and you will see it.
Clinton Portis, best known for dressing as a pimp and a clown, has chosen an odd issue to make his first high profile political statement about. Global warming? Who cares? Stem cell research?
Ironically, friends of Massa Portis in 1850, may well have used a similar defense to justify the abuse of Clinton's ancestors. His next goofy costume should be a Snausage suit, that he is forced to wear in a room of starving pit bulls.
On a unrelated note on animal-based sports, can we knock it off with the horse racing already? I understand that the sport basically exists to facilitate a day of boozing and gambling. Ordinarilly I'd be all for something like that. In fact, I attended the Belmont Stakes a few years ago, for this very reason. However, I will never support the sport again. After seeing Barbaro kick up a storm and still get forced into the gate, then suffer a fatal injury at last year's Preakness, I was forced to face the fact the horse racing is another form of animal cruelty. Besides, it seems rather arbitrary to get excited about who the fastest 3 year old horse is, in a 1.25 to 1.5 mile race. Why don't we care which 5 year old koala can climb a 80 foot tree the fastest? Isn't it odd that three times a year, we get worked up about horse races, when we can only get it up once every four years to see who is the world's fastest man?
Sunday, May 20, 2007
Friday, May 18, 2007
ESPN.com asks us "What happens when you cross Yao Ming with Allen Iverson?"
-F**k my a**!!! You get a guy who is both the tallest and fastest man in basketball, with the heart of a lion, whose crossover dribble and jump hook are equally unguardable. You have a guy that should average 50 points, 25 rebounds, and 12 assists a game. In short, you have a man who is head and shoulders above anyone who has ever played the sport.
"You get a prospect like Yi Jianlian, a fundamentally sound 7-footer from China with a sweet stroke, great handle and world of intrigue."
-I don't know whether be excited to see this guy play or disspirited by the knowledge that the knowledge that whichever team drafts him will lock up the next 15 NBA Championships.
Thursday, May 17, 2007
Even if the Suns overcome the 3-2 deficit against the Spurs and beat the Jazz to reach the NBA Finals, the copycat effect will only take place if the Suns win the title. Otherwise their system will be viewed as one that can get you close to the top, but not all the way there and the old adage will continue to hold true- Defense wins championships.
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Waldman, who deals with Yankee players on a daily basis, is so used to dealing with these mindlessly boring players that she's lost perspective. To her, that was a CRAZY reaction. And to this Yankee team, that WAS a bonkers reaction. Oh well, at least there's one exciting team in New York.
I believe that Stern is so terrified of the "thug" image his league has developed that he lost his mind. He is sabotaging one of the most compelling series his league has had in years, in an effort to preserve the NBA's reputation. However, by suspending star players, he has called further attention to an otherwise completely forgettable minor skirmish. Double whammy: Worse on court product and more negative press.
Coming to the defense of a person you care about is the right thing to do, in just about any other context that I can imagine. I don't mean you should start swinging your arms like a psychopath, but making your presense felt in such a situation is more than appropriate. The fact that they were able to be restrained by a simple nudge from a middle-aged assistant coach shows that their intentions were not to start a brawl.
So what are the lessons learned?
1) If you are losing a game, have a scrub flagrantly foul your opponent in front of their bench and hope to provoke one of their stars to leave the bench.
2) Don't run to the defense of your teammates.
3) If you do impulsively leave the bench, you might as well not restrain yourself, because you are going to get suspended anyway. Jump right into the fray.
Does any of this make sense?
Comments? Any names that I missed?
"I guess all I can tell you is that, when I made the appearance at Yankee Stadium, Derek said it best. I'm not going to be there for two or three weeks, so they have to get it together and get things going."
Nowhere does Clemens gives the ultimatum that Newsday alludes to on the backpage. He simply wants the Yankees to start winning. This is hardly worthy of backpage fodder. It's just a shoddy job by the heads sports editor, but I'm sure it will sell some papers.
Also at the rate NY papers are going, headline writers will run out of Rocket puns by June 1.
I understand that perhaps pure point guards can't be manufactured. That there is an inherent skill and talent in seeing the court a certain way that can't be taught. That no matter how hard a talented guard may try, he simply can't duplicate the way Nash weaves in and out of traffic constantly looking for the open cutter. This is certainly an intriguing argument, but I believe (albeit with no empirical or anecdotal evidence to back me up) that players as naturally gifted and talented as a Marbury or an Iverson, if indoctrinated at a young age, could do everything that a Jason Kidd does and more. But the shoot first guards developed their games playing a lot of pick up ball, where a combination of lack of cohesion and their natural talent led them to play one on one basketball, breaking down the defense and generally looking for their own shot because they could get it and make it the vast majority of the time. And they were rewarded by that style of play through accolades, respect, tall tales, recruitment to college, and for the most talented, the NBA. Just as Iverson was hitting college recruitment age, the NBA had moved into a game dominated by isolation offense and individual matchups. Players like him were (and still are) a much sought after commodity, so other players surely couldn't be faulted for developing and patterning their games similar to Iverson or Michael Jordan.
Now don't get me wrong, I'm not bashing Iverson, or Francis, or Marbury. They have been very good basketball players over their career. Iverson will most likely end up in the Hall of Fame and did lead a marginally talented team to the NBA finals. My point is that those 76er teams were not that much fun. Sure Iverson could put on a show individually, but I did not get the same sense of excitement watching that team as I do watching the Suns, Nets, and yes even the Jazz.
The NBA is a copycat league, so the best thing that can happen is for the Suns to win the NBA Championship. Then every team will be looking for their Nash and players realizing that will try to change their games accordingly. Many at higher levels will not be able to do that as it's tough to teach old dogs new tricks, but if more younger talented ball players try to emulate Nash and Kidd the NBA will be much better off in the future. Plus you won't have those cranky blue collar middle aged white guys lamenting over all those selfish thugs playing basketball anymore. That alone is well worth it.
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Its fascinating to watch, and at first almost looks like the pitcher will throw it underhand. The article features a video of 35–year-old, former major-league pitcher Jeff Sparks, a Marshall student.
Monday, May 14, 2007
I'm a big fan. I loved you as a player and love you even more on Inside the NBA. I hold you in such high esteem, that I feel bad about criticizing anything you do. I mean, you are a larger than life figure and a fine ambassador for the game of basketball. Who am I to tell you what you are doing wrong?
Sir, with all due respect, please put Dwyane Wade in your Fave 5. Either that or definitively tell the kid that he will never achieve this status. Whichever you choose, he needs some closure and frankly, I do as well. There's a fine line between good-natured ribbing and unnecessary callousness. I believe you may have crossed it. If you continue on this path, you may lose a friend in Dwyane and a fan in me.
(Now yelling "fore" because this pun is awful and missed its mark)
Actually there is a fair way to deal with him, they fired him, but I didn't want to ruin a perfectly good pun. Apparently University of Georgia women's golf coach Todd McCorkle behaved extremely inappropriately with his players by continually making sexually explicit statements and showing his team the Paris Hilton sex video. This guy is in some deep....rough.
After the dunk, I began wondering who will get the royalties for the the inevitable posters to be printed of this emphatic posterization. Will the Warriors get the majority of proceeds because Davis is their employee and thus own in game images of him? Can the NBA sell the poster without kicking money back to either Davis or the Warriors? What percentage of the profits will Davis see? After all it was his gravity defying behavior that is responsible for the lasting image. Also Kirilenko should really get something out of being on the receiving end of the facial. AK played a pivotal role in the slam's ascension into NBA folklore. Without his unsuccessful block attempt, the dunk would have just slipped in and out of the public consciousness without nary a second thought. He deserves to be justly compensated as well.
Still this is just the second best playoff dunk shot I've ever seen. Number 1? Well, let's just refer to it as "The Dunk." I think Michael Jordan still wakes up in a cold sweat from this baseline jam, though when he does wake up he is probably comforted that he is a multi-millionaire and the best basketball ever and then goes right back to sleep.
Sunday, May 13, 2007
In his 53 postseason at bats prior to joining the Yankees, A-Rod batted .340, with 3 doubles and 3 HRs. He was good for a .375 OBP/.566 SLG/.941 OPS. His career regular season OPS is .962, which places him among the handful of greatest players in the history of the sport. The difference between .941 and .962 is
a) completely statistically irrelevant based on the number of at bats and
b) less than one would expect given that
1) teams with bad pitching rarely make the playoffs
2) 5th starters never pitch in the playoffs
3) the ass-end of bullpens rarely see the light of day in the postseason
By now, you should be convinced that Rodriguez was an excellent postseason hitter, before becoming a member of the Yankees. But what of his playoff performance in New York?
Alex Rodriguez's was phenomenal in his first Yankees playoff series. In the 2004 ALDS against the Twins, Rodriguez went 8 for 19, with 3 doubles and a home run. For those sabermetrically inclined, he put up a .476 OBP/.737 SLG/1.213 OPS.
"Surely he compiled these numbers in the midst of blowouts, right?"
Not at all, straw man. Allow me to walk you through it.
After losing Game 1, the Yankees were in nearly a must win situation in Game 2. They could not afford to go down 2-0 in a best of 5 series. Alex Rodriguez broke a 3-3 tie in the 5th inning with a home run. He then singled in a run in the 7th to extend the lead to 5-3. The resilient Twins rallied back to tie the game up in the 8th inning. The game remained knotted at 5-5 until the 12th inning, when Rodriguez came up with runners on first and second. He proceded to blast a game-winning ground-rule double into the gap.
A-Rod's Game 2 Numbers: 4 for 6, a double, a HR, 2 Rs, 3 RBI. He was the only player on the team with more than one hit. He put the Yankees ahead twice, including the game winning hit in the 12th inning. Certifiably clutch performance.
Up 2-1, going into Game 4, the Yankees needed a win in order to avoid playing a deciding Game 5 in Minnesota. In the 9th inning of a 5-5 tie, Alex Rodriguez led off the inning with a double. That his teammates couldn't drive him home does not make this hit any less clutch.
Still tied in the 11th, A-Rod ripped a one out double. He then stole third base. He then scored on a wild pitch. So he single-handedly scored the winning run of Game 5. Unquestionably, Alex Rodriguez was the MVP of the 2004 ALDS, saving his best games for the two hard-fought extra-inning affairs.
"Yeah, but he sucked in the next series against the Red Sox!"
Straw man, you are making this far to easy.
The Yankees started off the 2004 ALCS up 3-0, due in no small part to the fact that A-Rod went 6 for 14 with 2 doubles, a HR, 7 runs, and 3 RBI! Then in Game 4, A-Rod hit a 2-run homer to give the Yankees a 2-0 lead in the game that could easily have been the game that clinched the series for them.
So at this point in his career, Alex Rodriguez had had 88 postseason at bats. All he had done was hit .375, with a .414 OBP/.670 SLG/1.084 OPS. Those numbers are slightly better than Lou f'n Gehrig's career regular season OPS of 1.079. Not too shabby.
"Fine, but he choked in Games 4 through 7".
Straw man, you clearly have shit for brains!
First, like I already said, Rodriguez hit a go-ahead homer in Game 4. Granted, he went 0 for 3 after that at bat, but he still did his part that day.
The next day, A-Rod went 0 for 4 with 2 walks. While obviously not a great performance, Game 5 was only a big game IN HINDSIGHT. The Yankees were up 3-1 in the series, with homefield awaiting in Game 6 and 7. They were still playing with the house's money at this point. You can't decide which at bats are clutch ex post facto. If nobody thought those plate appearances were crucial at the time, it's hard to make the case that Rodriguez crumbled under the pressure.
Rodriguez then went 1 for 4 in Game 6, which while not great, seems highly forgiveable, given his track record to that point. Finally A-Rod went 0 for 4 in Game 7. Not good. But what if you found out the Red Sox won 10-3 and were leading 6-0, by Rodriguez's second at bat. Had he hit 4 home runs, they still would have lost the game. In fact, if he hit a solo homer and a 2 run dinger in said game, they would probably remembered as "more meaningless A-Rod home runs".
This is where he first develops his reputation as a choke artist? In a post season in which he bats .320, with 3 HRs, 11 Rs, 8 RBI in 11 games. Absolutely ridiculous!
I can't defend the 3 for 29, Rodriguez has put up in the past two post seasons. But these things happen, even to great players. He has shown that he is capable of being brilliant in the playoffs before and he will again. Perhaps the only thing stopping him is the utter lack of support from his home fans. After hitting like Paste in Bases Loaded for 8 playoffs games, A-Rod was treated like a bumbling Fredo figure, dropping the revolver and letting the Yankees' World Series hopes get shot to shit in the last three. He must feel that he has to be super-human to please Yankees' fans. That can't be a good thing to have in your head, as you step to the plate in a big spot.
(Check www.baseballreference.com to verify all stats)
On April 21, I opined "Everyone is talking about how Golden State swept the 3 regular season games between these two teams. I don't think this is particularly relevant, because the first game was played during the Mavs' 0-4 start and the last two occured after Dallas had all but locked up the 1 seed... Mavs in 5." And this "I think Houston will make relatively short work of Utah...Houston in 5, with a genuine chance of going all the way."
Had I been around at the time, I probably would have warned Columbus that he was going to sail off the face of the Earth.
Saturday, May 12, 2007
Seriously, if your co-workers approached you with the idea of getting the same haircut as a show of solidarity, the two most appropriate responses would be "What are you 10 years old?" or "I'm sorry if I gave you the wrong idea, but I am heterosexual".
Friday, May 11, 2007
Thursday, May 10, 2007
This is gripping stuff, people. Even if you could care less about the inhabitants of the Bay Area and Utah. Deron Williams (who had two fouls in the first minute!) is icey-water-in-veins guy for life, backing down Baron Davis like an overweight Uncle does to his nephews at a BBQ. Can you think of another draft that produced two point guards like Chris Paul and Deron Williams? I can't...The Atlanta Hawks and their nine swingmen are a total mess and they missed on this twice! THE NBA PLAYOFFS: WHO KNEW?