Monday, May 25, 2009

The Return

I apologize for the lengthy absence. I have been quite busy as of late.

I struck a few poses. Ya that's right, finally a Meteorologist.

Also moved back home to Big-D (Dallas).

I want to congratulate AJ on the strong showing of his Nuggets against my Mavs... he nailed it right at 5 games. I was wrong... he was right. Let's move on.

I would love to talk basketball. Lebron is SICK... but if he doesn't get help then the Cavs are in trouble. Stav Van Gundy (SVG) is going old school Pistons basketball on Lebron... and it's working. The Magic play just rough enough to keep Lebron from willing his team to victory. However, I have a feeling the King will step up and bring an Eastern Conference championship to his kingdom in 7.

I think the Lakers hold off AJ's Nuggets in 7 as well. Then as I picked earlier this year... Cavs beat the Lakers because L.A. is too soft (minus Kobe).

Onto the subject I wanted to hit tonight. My Texas Rangers. In our MLB preview I picked them as the most underrated team... well right now they sit atop the American League right at .600 winning percentage. 8 games over .500. All of this and team MVP Josh Hamilton isn't even hitting .275 and hasn't reached 5 homeruns yet.

Every year our state gets excited for baseball. "The Rangers will make a run this year because they have the best hitters in the league." And "The pitching will be good enough because we will score 10 runs a game." Well news flash... it never works out. The Rangers haven't sniffed the playoffs in 10 years. Why? They never have starting pitching or a bullpen.

Well we finally brought in the legend himself Nolan Ryan to bring in some pitching talent. Well the pitching staff finally turned a corner. Sure its not a shut down rotation. 20th in MLB in team ERA is not so great. Worst in MLB as far as strikeouts go. Still not looking too good. But here are some good stats. Tied for third in walks allowed. 13th in earned runs. 1st in complete games with 5 so far this season. Tied for 2nd in saves.

The Rangers don't have great pitching, but some of those stats are skewed due to the Ballpark in Arlington being a hitter's yard. This year the pitching is good enough to make a run at the division. They are winning the close games they always lose (10-6 in one-run games). They are winning on the road (12-11) which they haven't been able to sustain in years.

I'm not saying the Rangers will win the division (2.5 games up on Angels right now), but they have Dallas excited about baseball again. They look good and they are fun to watch. I'm not a baseball fan, as I can't watch much of it on TV. Call me a bandwagon fan if you want, but I enjoy watching this Texas Rangers play ball.

Thats the first time in my life that I have said I enjoy watching baseball... and I hope its not the last.

Stay Classy,


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Why the Nuggets can - and will - beat the Lake Show

So I’m posting this after the Lakers took the tight Game 1 victory last night, but I promise you, the majority of this was written beforehand; and though I’m fairly nervous that the Nuggets may have blown their one shot to win in L.A. because Chauncey forgot how to hit free throws, I stand behind everything. I’m still taking Denver in six, and as a quick aside, Cleveland in five.

Well, here we are. The Western Conference Finals of our dreams, the one everybody wanted. Well, not quite everybody. I don’t think Laker fans are thrilled about possibly getting knocked off their title plans by the team they absolutely punked just 13 months ago.

Look, the Lakers are darn good. Very talented. That is an awfully deep team, too; they don’t miss a beat when Odom, Walton, Vujacic, Farmar, Brown and Powell get minutes. Andrew Bynum’s health probably makes them that much better … depends if he decides to show up on any given night. Pau Gasol is the best pretty boy center in the Association, and I mean that in a good way. And Kobe is, well, still Kobe. Let’s just hope he’s not Doin’ Work all over the Nuggets in the series. By the way, is he allowed to visit Eagle when he comes here? Just askin’.

But something doesn’t smell right about Los Angeles. Mainly, in the point guard region; the armpit of the Lakers’ body of work. Literally, every time Derek Fisher takes a shot not from the corner, (postscript; obviously, he had the dagger last night. From his favorite spot. Where else?), I start to smile. You just know it’s probably not going in. And I’m not totally sold on Jordan Farmar yet. Definitely not sold on Shannon Brown.

Take a gander at the last nine NBA champs; they were captained by Rondo, Parker, Wade (basically ran that offense), Parker again, Billups, Parker once more, and three years of Kobe-Shaq in their primes. An older-than-fossils Fisher and the unproven Farmar doesn’t even come close to matching up to ANYONE on that list.

Another thing: remember how everyone had a lovefest over Roger Mason this year, and how much of an X-factor he was as a role player? Whatever happened to him? Oh, right, he came back down to earth. Who’s to say the same’s not happening to Trevor Ariza? And speaking of X-factors, apparently Andrew Bynum is going to step out of his Greg Oden shoes and into those of Shaq circa 1996. I’m actually surprised how much the Laker backers are counting on Bynum’s presence to knock off the Nuggets.

So the Lakers’ Western Conference title hopes rest with Trevor Ariza and Andrew Bynum? If that’s the case, I like Denver’s chances. As much as Birdman and Anthony Carter may contribute in their own way, nobody’s mistaking them for X-factors. At the end of the day, you need you best players to be your best players, particularly in basketball. The Nuggets only win this series if they get top performances from Carmelo, Chauncey and J.R. Plus the bigs gotta show up too.

Kobe said immediately after the Utah series, maturely and correctly, that LA had to solve its focus issues. What indicates to you that they did so in the Houston series? Seven games against a team so far inferior in talent, without its two best players and without a man taller than 6-foot-9 on the floor (when you yourself have two 7-footers and a long 6-10er with Odom)? The Lakers have now played 94 games this season; uh, if you don’t have an answer for focus or chemistry problems by now, it just ain’t happening.

One other dirty little truth, that I’m sure Bill Simmons would be quick to point out: Kobe played 103 games last season ending with the Finals, and Pau Gasol played 87. Then they each played eight games in the Olympics, finding themselves in the gold medal game there against each other. Now they’ve played 94 (Kobe) and 93 (Gasol) this year. So…since November 2007, a 19-month span, Kobe has logged 205 meaningful games, and Pau 188. Oh, and Kobe passed the 1,100 game mark in the NBA recently, which has been around the time NBA players begin declining. (Allen Iverson is still about a half-season away from the millennium mark, and look what’s happened to him. Just saying.) Playing six or seven games in the next two weeks, without ever more than one off-day in between each contest, and having to play three games at altitude? You’re telling me there’s NO chance a tired and getting older Kobe averages, I don’t know, 19 points or so this series?

I’m going Denver in 6. And this isn’t wishful thinking. I’ve strongly, truly, honestly believed since early in the second round that the Nuggets were a better team. Nothing since has persuaded me differently, so I’m sticking with it.


Monday, May 18, 2009

Greatest. Case. Of. The. Mondays. EVER.

I am delighted to announce that I am officially employed!!!

I'll be covering high school sports for the Quad-City Times in Davenport, Iowa. The QC Times has a 51,000 circulation on weekdays and 70,000 on Sunday; Davenport (100,000 population) is the largest of four towns in the Quad Cities (350,000), right on the Mississippi River separating Iowa from Illinois. It's just under three hours from Mad-town and even closer to Chicago. As you can imagine, in this economic climate and especially considering a fledgling newspaper industry, I'm blessed to have been given this opportunity and cannot WAIT to get down there to begin work at the start of June. I'll be keeping you all posted on how the job's going, with some Madison updates too, of course.

One thing I'll also say about it, without trying to stand up too tall on a soap box. My advice to all my friends that are trying to get journalism jobs right now (and everyone who's reading this trying to do the same): don't give up. If you've worked hard enough, you care enough about the profession and you keep pursuing what you want, there's always going to be room for able sportswriters. Don't listen to ANYBODY who tells you there's "no jobs" or whatever in sports journalism; don't acknowledge that pessimism even a little bit. I know I didn't, and I'm moving on to very, very exciting things because I didn't.

Oh, and I'm not closing the book on Madison just yet. I'll have my final words on my last four years in Wisconsin within the next day or two; hopefully, my Oklahoman comrade in crime can do the same for his Sooners as well.


Vince McMahon has got a Case of the Mondays

It's an abbreviated Mile High Musings for you today - in fact, it's more just one ranting column than anything else - as I'm super, super busy after graduation and moving out of Madison. But I owe you guys something, as it's been awhile.

I don't know why, but this story tickled my funny bone. I love Vince McMahon's pathetic - PATHETIC - attempt at a Nuggets potshot. "Even though the Denver Nuggets had a strong team and were projected to make the playoffs..."

Wait, wait, let's pause here for 10 seconds. And not for station identification. What phony NBA publication was he reading? Everyone had the Nuggets penciled as the last lottery team, with Portland making the big jump and joining the other big seven in the postseason with Denver missing out. But nice try at buttering up Nuggets fans before your impending, completely deranged commentary on Denver hoops.

Anyway, "...projected to make the playoffs, obviously Nuggets and Pepsi Center owner Stan Kroenke didn't have enough faith in his own team to hold the May 25th date for a potential playoff game."

Let me calm down, count to ten, and soothingly first state that I understand Vince McWoman isn't being serious here; it's just his personality to make outlandish statements in order to create ratings for his organization. Courtesy of my studies from Dean Baughman at Wisconsin, we call this the 'sphere of deviance'; comments like 'the sky is green' or 'everyone hates puppies' or 'Derek Fisher stands a chance of slowing down Chauncey Billups' that nobody in their right mind would agree with. So I get that. What I don't get is why Vince gets his jollies from behaving in such manner. You've gotta be seriously psycho to make a living and a reputation off being a complete ass. I feel sorry for him. Honestly, I do. Oh, and I could care less that he's ripping the Nuggets. My thoughts below have everything to do with McMahon's strange quotes and nothing to do with, hey, he's picking on my NBA team, boo hoo. Nah, that has nothing to do with it.

But for fun's sake, let's tear him apart anyway, shall we? Good.

Here's the quote in question, one more time: "obviously, Nuggets and Pepsi Center owner Stan Kroenke didn't have enough faith in his team to hold the May 25th date for a potential playoff game."

First off, I guarantee you Vince didn't know for certain that Kroenke owned the Nuggets as well as the building. So this is obviously being doctored by his p.r. "specialists." Good to know a guy as bloated and idiotic as McMahon has people responsible for making him sound as if he makes some semblance of sense... and still failed epicly. You're damn right I just made up that word: epicly.

Next ... uh, no, Vince, the Nuggets haven't played this late into May since the early 80s. Or, you know, since wrestling was actually kind of popular. So I don't think it would be a good business decision to expect your team to make the conference finals and thusly refuse to stage any other sort of revenue-building events at your arena for a three-week block. To be honest with you, I think even owners of such perennial contenders like the Yankees and Lakers and what not understand that.

And finally, singling out May 25th. Vince wanted Stan to "hold the May 25th date for a potential playoff game." Riiiiiiiiight. Because the NBA obviously knew without a doubt that a conference finals game would be played on that EXACT date.

I mean, people, you have to work to be this foolish. But then again, that's what the WWE is: foolish. Good riddance; the Pepsi Center doesn't want or need your business.


Saturday, May 9, 2009

Manny being...A-Rod?

This is a funny e-mail from my uncle Dennis, a diehard Yankees fan who had an interesting take on Manny Ramirez's 50-game suspension.

"Ya gotta love Manny. In one action, he has:

  • Taken A-Rod off the hook...
  • Ruined Joe Torre's season...
  • Invalidated the Red Sox World Series wins...
  • Made Bud Selig look like a bigger dummy...
Now fair is fair. Let's see if Manny takes all of the scrutiny and heat that A-Rod got. I want to see it on the news 24 hours a day for a week straight. I want the talking heads to analyze if Manny is telling the truth or lying. I want people digging through his garbage and making up all sorts of wild stories. I want to see Manny on the evening news with Katie. I want to see some over-weight bitch wanna-be journalist start making up stories and putting it in a book. I want revenge and to collect my pound of flesh. Thank you Manny and enjoy your 50-game vacation."

Very entertaining, my uncle's words. And fair points, too. Very fair. Purely in the interest of playing devil's advocate - I'm not really a Yankees or Red Sox supporter, though Uncle Den would be the first to tell you about my historical disdain for the pinstripes - I would add a couple things...

  • A-Rod signed a 10-year, $252 million deal. Manny did not.
  • A-Rod has an interesting off-field lifestyle, like dating Madonna for instance. Manny does not.
  • A-Rod plays in New York City, home to the most vile media in the world. Manny does not.
  • A-Rod can realistically break the all-time home runs record, the most hallowed mark in sports. Manny cannot.
  • A-Rod had the story broken by journalists, not by a pee cup or MLB testing. Manny was the opposite.
  • A-Rod proceeded to hold a press conference, make bold-faced lies to the public and then had more crap come out about him in future endeavors, thus turning the media further against him. Manny hasn't done any of those things.
So just sayin'. Manny deserves every bit of doubt about his accolades - and you betcha, Red Sox fans will take crap for having that 2004 WS being potentially tainted - but let's see how this all plays out before we sic the "overweight bitch wannabe journalist" on him.

Oh, and by the way, Bud Selig will be speaking at the University of Wisconsin's commencement ceremonies next weekend. I'll definitely report the reception he gets...I'm sure a mix of cheers and boos will result, particularly in light of Manny's suspension.


Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Sportsman of the Month - April

Actually, I don't have a sportsman of the month. I don't have a sportswoman of the month, either.

I've got 18,541 of them.

Sportsmen and sportswomen of the Month:
The 18,541 Crazylegs Classic Record-Setters

I mean, if you looked outside and saw recurring downpours, in about 45-degree weather, just one day after enjoying a 75-degree day in late April, would you voluntarily lace up your running shoes, grab a towel and water bottle, and go run 8 kilometers or walk 2 miles?

A record-setting amount of Madisonians and out-of-town racers did just that on Apr. 25. Not once before in the 28-year history of the Crazylegs Classic - a run-and-walk event that starts at the Capitol building, winds around the University of Wisconsin campus and ends at the 50-yard-line at Camp Randall Stadium - had so many as 18,541 people participate. Considering the awful elements, that just made Crazylegs officials that much prouder.

“I think this is an exclamation point for Badger fans,” Terry Murawski told me during the closing ceremony under a tent's shelter on the soaked Camp Randall turf. Murawski is the Executive Director of the W Club and helps coordinate Crazylegs each year.

“You could not have scripted a worse day unless you had snow; it’s chilly, it’s raining, it’s rained hard through the race, and people are still coming over the finish line an hour after we started.”

Crazylegs features people from just about any background. You've got world-class racers including UW cross country and track superstars Katrina Rundhaug and Ann Detmer (whose recent graduation finally made them eligible to participate in the event); you've got local college students who go with friends as a fun end-of-the-semester outing; you've got casual runners who want to test their speed in a mini-marathon-type race, as well as people just looking to walk a little bit in late April as part of a large group.

But perhaps most impressively, you had large groups who coordinated to run or walk together, wearing matching shirts and racing for a common goal.

221 "Fun and Fitness" teams entered Crazylegs, including an eye-popping 4,000 individuals. The second-largest group, the Kevin Peyton Crazylegs Memorial Team, had 150 people in black shirts screaming "Running for Kevin". Kevin Peyton died last fall of autism at just 14 years old.

“This was one of his favorite things to do," Kevin's father, Steve, told me after the race. "We enjoyed it together as a father-and-son duo, and now to have 150 people here, it’s unbelievable. We’re just a bunch of friends and families; we’re not a corporation or business. It’s pretty neat, I’m very proud.”

It was an emotional day, too, for Elli Tarnutzer, whose 14-year-old son Lance was diagnosed with diabetes in September. Before long, his football and basketball teammates started spreading the word to create "Lance's Team", girls at Lance's high school were making and posting flyers, and 55 participants came out on a rainy day to help raise money for juvenile diabetes research.

When asked what it meant to have so many supporters for her son, who along with other Type 1 Diabetes combatants wore a red headband during Crazylegs, Elli teared up.

“He’s a real outgoing, personable kid,” said Elli Tarnutzer, Lance’s mother. “Everybody likes him. He’s just a good kid overall.”

On a lighter note, I, the Crazylegs newbie, had to ask Elli, a Crazylegs vet, just what does her group do if somebody has to stop and use the facilities during the race. Do they all stop? Do they go ahead and hope the individual catches up?

She shrugged and grinned. "Pretty much, you just grin and bear it."

More than 18-grand brave souls did just that on Apr. 25. And that made for a very proud day in the Madison community.

Past SOTM winners:
Team Japan – March
Rafael Nadal – February
Larry Fitzgerald – January

April honorable mentions:
North Carolina Tar Heels: No. 1 when they started, No. 1 when they finished. Just a couple bumps in the road, but overall a terrific season for clearly the best team in the land.
Albert Pujols: For singlehandedly carrying my fantasy team in Weeks 1 and 2. Not that I'm biased or anything.
Zach Greinke: For being the freaking man. He's now 6-0 with a 0.40 ERA? WHAT?!?! Too bad he'll be an overpaid Yankee by 2012.

April dishonorable mentions:
Al Davis: For being you. Darrius Heyward-Bey? I mean, seriously? Does Al enjoy making Mel Kiper Jr. tear his bizarro hair out?
Detroit Pistons: For deciding not to show up to these playoffs. Way to keep one foot on the basketball court and one foot on the yacht in Bermuda, boys.
Chien-Ming Wang: For singlehandedly destroying my fantasy team in Weeks 1 and 2. Not that I’m bitter or anything.
Alex Rodriguez: for forcing Hooters waitresses everywhere to put up dartboards with his mug on it. And doing non-sexual things with it.
Brett Favre: ... oh wait. All this has taken place in May. OK, Brett, we'll get to you next month. Don't think you're not immune to this infamous list.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Twenty-Two Birthday Wishes for the Sporting World ... masquerading as yet another Case of the Mondays

A belated Double Deuce - er, double dose - of swine-flu-free Mile High Musings, comprised of 22 wishes I made on my birthday last Sunday or sometime since…

I wish people would stop throwing newspapers on their deathbeds. The business model is broken, sure. But the world will always need watchdogs, always need political writers, always need football beat writers, always need movie critics, and always need their crossword, comics and Sudoku. So blogs are gonna take over, huh? Most blogs couldn’t exist without the information ascertained from real journalists.

Maybe newspapers won’t be in the form of rolled-up broadsheets which double as flyswatters or birdcage liners, but online newspapers are still newspapers nonetheless. So cry for your paperboy, but nothing else. Saying that aspiring journalists should give up because of expiring newspapers is like saying that the music industry was dead when records gave way to compact discs, and then to mp3 files. Same product, different format.

I wish someone would explain the allure of Twitter to me. Isn’t it basically Facebook’s status updates…and that’s it? Oh, so you can garner “subscribers” in some sort of self-competitive nature. Uh, same motivation as gobbling up Facebook “friends”, right? So Twitter basically stole 2 percent of the things you can do on Facebook, and is operating a multi-million dollar business off of it? No thanks. I gave in to Facebook (not that it took that much persuasion) and I gave in to blogging (obviously); I don’t see myself ever giving in to Twitter. Tweet that, why don’t you.

I wish the NBA creates a flopping foul in the next two years. And it counts as two personals on your way to six and fouling out. Like a technical: the opposing team gets two throws and the ball. I’m sick of watching players get barely touched, only to instinctively throw their hands up in the air like those Wacky Waving Inflatable Arm-Waving Tube Men.

I wish Curt Phillips wins the starting gig this fall over Dustin Sherer. Nothing wrong with Dustin, he’s a nice kid and an improving player, but for the long-term sake of the program, Wisconsin football needs to get at least a half-season’s worth of starts out of the Tennessee dual-threat product.

I wish baseball were a wee bit more predictable. As I wake up on Monday morning, I look at the standings and see four division leaders (Toronto, Kansas City, Seattle and St. Louis) that finished in fourth place last season; besides, of the seven teams that sit three games or more above .500, only the Dodgers and Red Sox played in October last season.

But hey, at least I nailed Matt Holliday as the most overrated player in MLB. And my fantasy team is back to .500. So things aren’t all bad. Of course, Matty H is on said fantasy team. Oh well.

I wish to change my preseason playoff picks: Toronto, Kansas City, Seattle, Detroit, Florida, St. Louis, San Francisco, Cincinnati. Oh, that’s not who I think will win division or wild card crowns. It’s who I want to win. Because that’d be wicked funny to watch money-hungry MLB stick that in its big-market pipe and smoke it.

I wish only the best for Chase Daniel and Graham Harrell as undrafted free agents. Go prove a bunch of teams wrong, guys.

I wish Alex Rodriguez would go away. You too, Brett Favre. But it looks like the latter might not go so easily (note: read the last three paragraphs, in particular).

I wish to put the following video on my blog. Because it is humorous and may slightly resemble my own life. (The “we like sports” part, not the “I’m gonna sit three inches away from my best bud in the hottub” part)

I wish, retroactively, that my first three Mifflins had had such gorgeous weather as my last one. Then again, I feel lucky that the fourth and final Mifflin Block Party – the only one during which I lived on the freaking street – welcomed perfect sunny skies and warm temperatures throughout the afternoon.

I wish I had more time to enjoy Madison, Wisconsin. I spent my first three years here itching to get out and start that first job, figuring college was just a four-year footprint on my way to “the pros.” But senior year, I realized how much fun this place (and any college experience) is. Would’ve been nice to learn that two years ago. Current froshies and sophs, take note.

I wish T-Mobile would clear up why I’ve watched that same damn Dwight Howard-Dwayne Wade commercial 263 times, and still don’t understand why a video game injury would affect Howard’s life in any way, shape or form. And while we’re at it, just who the heck is that old white guy using the walker and talking trash to Barkley in the “Old School” commercial? These things eat at me.

On the other hand, I wish I was as cool as that Dos Equis guy. I may not be the most interesting man in the world, but my reputation is too expanding faster than the universe. And I too once had an awkward moment just to see how it feels. I, too, live vicariously through myself. Stay thirsty, my friends.

I wish Barry Alvarez would enlighten us as to what he’s thinking up there in that big fancy office of his. I thought the idea was to let Lisa Stone’s contract run out, rather than buying her out since it doesn’t make sense to pay two coaches for a non-revenue program. Fine. But extending her a season? And defending Stone by saying her “team was very close to having an outstanding year”, during a 6-12 conference season? This is a coach that not only had the most prolific scorer in UW men’s or women’s basketball history and failed to reach a single NCAA tournament (in fact, Stone still hasn’t brought her team Dancing in her six years here), but also has had numerous players leave the program (four of which I’ve actually met personally … I’m sure there are others).

I don’t understand the move. Neither do any of my Wisconsin sportswriting brethren. Neither do the fans, who commented on the Cap Times’ story. Neither do two of those ex-players still on campus. But hey, if Barry signed off on it, he must be right, right?

I wish I loved the NHL playoffs more. Numerous people have complained about a lack of playoff hockey coverage on this blog. I wish I could get into it, but I can’t! It doesn’t help that I live in a NHL-less state. Well, if anyone would like to produce coverage on the playoffs, let me know and we’ll be happy to post any work on it.

I wish this Denver Nuggets run would never end. No, seriously. Can they just play all the way through the summer? During their Game 1 thrashing of the Mavericks (give Dallas credit, though, they hung in there for three quarters and change), I figured out why I love the Nuggets more than any other team in sports: win or lose, George Karl’s guys make at least three or four plays every game that make you leap out of your chair and cheer or fist pump or unleash a tribal scream (you know, for playoff time). They’re just so darn fun to watch.

And I wish some NBA expert would explain to me why the Nuggets can’t beat the Lakers. Some guys are coming around, but apparently not our own Denver alumnus, Jon Barry (he said at halftime today the Nuggets can “absolutely not” touch the Lakers).

While I’m at it, I wish the Lakers do beat the Rockets in their series. In fact, I hope they thump them real good. In four games, seven games, whatever. Just make sure LA matches up with Denver. I’d hate for Houston to steal our prize.

Bring. On. L.A.

This isn’t a wish, but can you Nuggets fans believe that just 10½ months ago, this was happening??? We almost had neither Carmelo nor Chauncey. Now we have both. As Kanye says, “it’s amazing, so amazing.”

I wish, if I were to land a TV job somewhere in a hypothetical situation, it is with TNT’s ‘Inside the NBA’ with EJ, Kenny and Chuck. Those who have watched this ridiculously entertaining show need no further explanation. If you haven’t, well, YouTube it. My petty words cannot do it justice. Here’s some help…

I wish to amend this statement I wrote in a Badger Herald column three years ago, in my first-ever birthday column: “I wish Bret Bielema a successful first season. Hard to say about his ability as a head coach just yet, but he’s one of the nicest guys I’ve met in sports.” Ummmm…wow. Just wow. I have no comment beyond that. You guys who have covered UW football with me know what I’m talking about.

Speaking of that old column, I wish for a Lakers cheerleader. Four years running, still nothing. I’ll keep wishin’.

And more than anything else, I wish my unemployed title is lifted in the next week or so. Crossing my fingers…hey, can’t a guy wish for something realistic that he actually has control over?

And that’s all I have to say about that. Due to a certain Thursday event involving the above statement, I’ll only have one more blog post – my Sportsmen of April – for the rest of the week. Wish me luck!

Have a good one.


Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Rumble in the Rockies

The following are several emails exchanged between B-Dubs and AJ cordially and respectfully discussing (with the occasional rant) the upcoming series between AJ's Denver Nuggets and B-Dubs' Dallas Mavericks. These are actual emails....

Now, your Mavericks looked impressive in Round 1, yeah, they looked pretty good. Of course, you, me, our dads and Eva Longoria-Parker could take on San Antonio sans Ginobili, sans Timmy Duncan's knees and put 'em to shame too. Let me throw some numerals at you: the Nuggets outscored New Orleans by over 30 points per game in that series, including the one loss in which CP3 went off and the Nuggets decided not to show up in the final three quarters. Denver is now 16-1 in its last 17 home games, and 18-4 in its last 21, and that unfortunately contains the garbage, means-less-than-winter-coat-sales-in-Hawaii loss at Portland in the season finale. But most importantly, while the Nuggets thrived offensively like they always do, scoring at least 107 in each of its four wins, it's the DEFENSE - that's right, the Nuggets' defense - that won this series. Ready for this? The Hornets scored more than 90 just twice, never even sniffed 100, and averaged 84.2 points for the series. EIGHTY-FOUR POINTS IN THE SERIES!!! The Hornets also shot less than 40 percent for the series. Now, that, my Boomer Sooner friend, is what we call, DOMINATION.

Your Mavs are playin' well, but they have no idea what buzzsaw they're about to run into.

Congratulations AJ, your Nuggets were so dominant against the Hornets. A team that: a) gave up on there coach; b) Backed into the playoffs with a 3-6 record in April; c) their best player CP3 gave up on his team! Now, I will hand it to the Nugs, the 58 point victory was incredible even if the Hornets had already thrown in the towel. The Nugs -15 in the 5th game was the easiest money I have ever made. But don't you dare attack the significance of beating an old Spurs team when Denver beat a Nawlens team that has never even sniffed the conference finals before... and was a dissapointment all season. The Spurs are still the Spurs, a team built for a championship with the best PF ever to play and one of the best playoff coaches (with an awful beard) of all-time. Obviously the team is old, and Manu was out, but this is the team the Nugs lost to back in December by 17... IN Denver. So congratulations. You dominated the 7-seed that had been fading all April... but now you are playing one of the hottest teams in basketball.

You had it easy in round 1... now it's time for inexperienced Denver to realize... "Oh it's the playoffs now."

Oh, don't you worry, B-dubs, the Nuggets realize it's the playoffs. Remember when Melo got suspended for refusing to be subbed for? That was a babyish, regular-season type attitude. In Game 5? He went up to George Karl, and asked if he could play every meaningful minute. Not because he was hogging time, but he was so, so set on getting out of the first round and ripping that meaner-than-Chris-Griffin's-closet-pet monkey off his back. Thankfully, GK let him, and Melo made Nawlins pay. That's not just maturity; that's playoff mentality right there.
Speaking of Melo, I'm curious: just how do your Mavericks plan to stop him? What I will give Dallas - and I'm sure you'll be quick to discuss this in your rebuttal - is they have just as many offensive weapons as Denver does. But guess what? The best player on the floor, is wearing No. 15. No, not No. 41. (Impressed? I didn't even have to look that up.) I love what Bill Simmons wrote about Melo in his MVP column three weeks ago: "I'm still waiting to see an "I need to dominate every night" fire from him. At this point -- six years in the league, turns 25 in May -- we should be seeing it. Does he have it in him? Is it lurking in there? Even a little?" Did Game 5 help answer your question, Bill? In a tight elimination game where the Bees showed a ton of heart, Melo put up 34 points (on plus-50 percent shooting), six boards, three assists, four steals, and yes, he played every meaningful minute. Plus, he showed in his postgame comments how much it meant to him that he got out of the first round.
What do you think? Is Dirk showing that kind of passion right now?

Wait wait wait. Asking your coach to guarantee that you play every meaningful minute is maturity? That sounds like immaturity and it sounds like Melo was/is worried that Karl doesn't have confidence in him. And who cares what happened in game 5, that series was over after game 1, and even if it was a series back in New Orleans... game 4 took care of that. So gritty playoff performance? No, of course the Hornets showed some heart but that game was FAR from a tight elimination game. Try winning in San Antonio... when they are healthy, IN OVERTIME, in a game 7. That sounds familiar, oh thats because...

Dirk sent that into overtime... and how are the Nugs going to stop him? In 4 games against Denver the Dunking Deutchman averaged 30 points a game! He has been one of the hottest players in the league since the All-Star Break, averaging over 30 pts and 9 rebounds in April. Here in Dallas we aren't trying to prove he can be a leader or listen to his post game question marks. We know what we have in Dirk, a leader and a clutch performer. The fact that you are trying to defend "the best player on the floor" by talking about how good his postgame comments were, that tells me that you still don't have confidence in this teams maturity. The fact is, Chauncey Billups made this team the way it is. Don't tell me about Melo and his new playoff attitude, this team needs to ride the grit and playoff experience of Billups to win this series. The problem is, this is the perfect matchup for Jason Kidd.

Everybody knows Kidd is past his prime and can't hold the jock of younger point guards, but Kidd can run a team and stay in front of Billups. That is the most intriguing matchup in this series, and its going to be a tight series.

Enough with the small arguments, AJ, use your biased-homer-psychic powers and forecast the next two weeks for our readers.

How are the Nuggets going to stop him? A little guy I like to call Kenyon Martin, who's finally healthy this season and rendered David West completely useless in that last series. Plus, with Chris "Birdman" Andersen manning the bucket and Dallas failing to produce a big man scoring more than Brandon Bass' 8.5 a game, Dirk's going to be completely dependant on jump shots all series because he'll have Birdman waiting on the inside should he find his way past K-Mart. I don't think that can work consistently over a seven-game period, personally. So I don't think the Nuggets will stop Dirk, but they can contain him. They have to, because Dirk certainly has teammates that can hurt Denver scoring the basketball.

Couple other things I wanted to point out: because the Nuggets used Dahntay Jones exclusively on Chris Paul, Jones averaged three more minutes a game during the playoffs than he played during the season. Those three minutes were taken directly from one J.R. Smith, who is simply "3-diculous". Since the Mavs don't have a stud inside-and-outside guard among its roster, Jones will take a backseat role, and that means a heavier dose of J.R. Swish (okay, sorry, enough of the homerism. But isn't that a cool moniker?)

Nene didn't do a lot last series, with his scoring average down from 14.6 during the season to a paltry nine points a game in the Hornets series; lower than the immortal Linas Kleiza (who, by the way, is just waiting to break out sooner or later Eddie House-style). Nene has shown when he doesn't have to play tough defense against offensively-minded centers, he can thrive. Again, Bass and Erick Dampier don't figure to force Nene on the defensive end, so we'll see how they fare guarding Nene in the post.

Plus, the Nuggets have Allen Iverson...oh, wait. Damn. Never mind.

Finally, you have to admit that the Nuggets do EVERYTHING RIGHT. They score inside, they score outside, they get to the line, they make their free throws. They play on-ball defense, they guard the post well, they block, they steal, and when they want to, they rebound. For the first round, Denver had the No. 1 offensively efficient team and No. 2 defense (Cavs). They have a great starting unit, and arguably the best bench in the league. This is NOT George Karl's first rodeo; Rick Carlisle isn't quite as seasoned. Plus, the Nuggets have home court. They've done all right there this season (16-1 in their last 17 at the Can, 36-8 overall)
By the way, notice how I'm not pointing out Denver's 4-0 record against Dallas this season. This is a different season, the playoffs, and the Mavericks are certainly a different team. That doesn't mean the Nuggets still aren't better, though. They'll hold serve at home, split in Dallas, and wrap things up at home in a series that will be closer than the series score will infer.
Prediction: Nuggets in 5

Nuggets in 5? I respect your decision... *cough* homer *cough*

Seriously though, Nugs in 5 could definitely happen. You have to look at the home records here. The Mavs and Nugs are a combined 33-2 at home in their past 35 games. That's unreal. Winning on the road will not be easy in this series. If the Mavs can somehow steal a game in Denver then I like them in 6. However, that is the only scenario that renders a chance for the Cubanites to advance to the conference finals. If Dirk and company can't steal one from Denver, then they would have to win all home games AND steal game 5 or 7 in Denver.... not gonna happen. If they let one slip away in Dallas then Denver wins in 5. However, I'm going to go with this series being all about the home court.

Like you said AJ, the Nugs have too many weapons and can score anyway they want. Melo could go off for 40, JR Swish could go off for 40, Nene could drop 20 and 15 and Billups could drop 20 and 10 dimes. The Mavericks have weapons, but Dirk is the only guy that can really take over a game. Howard might be able to throw a bomb party during the playoffs, but he can't take over a game like Billups, Anthony, Smith, or Dirk. Dallas settles for jumpshots 99% of the time and in the playoffs... that won't win you many series.

Being a fan, I have to hold on to hope. I hope the Mavs don't put up a dud and shoot 30% in a home game, otherwise the series will be over in 5-6 games. I hope Dirk shows why he IS the best player on the court. I hope Devin Harris lights ups Chauncey....errrr... I hope Jason Kidd's knees hold up long enough to make the Billups matchup exciting. I hope Josh Howard does something crazy that makes me laugh at his immaturity and ridiculousness... but that he also D's up on Anthony well. I hope the Mavs won't get blown away as easily as Nawlens. I hope Denver puts up a stinker (Game 3 in New Orleans) at least once in this series...but in the end...
Prediction: Nuggets in 7 games

Stay classy,

B-Dubs and AJ

Friday, May 1, 2009

TNEA of the Month: May

A moment of silence, for the end of the month-long reign of NBA-TV siren Melanie "Who should be on the calendar cover?" Collins. We shall miss thou, and thy rocking body.

OK, moment over. No, seriously, stop ogling those pictures. Moment OVER!!!

Let me help. For your viewing pleasure, May's TNEA: Maria Sansone.

Well, we've gotten plenty of suggestions on who to go with for May's TNEA, and I'm hoping we will get to most or all of them in good time. Definitely some great considerations for a Erin Andrews replacement - not that she needs replacing: you know, we're just looking out for you sideline hottie-loving folk out there just in case.

For this month, we shift from a TV chick to a young lady who's made her mark online. Not many of you may have heard of "PopTub", but it's a Pepsi-sponsored segment on YouTube that makes fun of other YouTube videos. You might call it a version of "America's Funniest Home Videos", except the program is online and only rips material from fellow YouTube materials.

Poptub is entertaining for many reasons (most of them, humor), but the show's host, Maria Sansone, ranks right up there at the top. She's bubbly, a little edgy and risque, funny, fun to watch, and really, really, really, really, really, really, ridiculously cute. She reminds me of a young 'Aunt Becky' from Full House, with perfectly hot hair and flattering makeup, in high definition.

What I like about Maria is that she and her program are, indeed, quite entertaining. You watch the show, you watch the pulled YouTube videos, and it's easy to come back for more simply for the humor. But, hey, nobody would blame you to come back and watch more of HD Maria, too.

Admittedly, what Maria has over Melanie in popularity (there are hundreds of videos on YouTub, most with views in the hundreds of thousands), she lacks in sports-savvyness. There's not a ton of sports-related talk on Poptub: most of the content is devoted to either internet news or to goofy videos like this one. (That's kind of how I stumbled across Poptub, so I thought I'd post it. Not to mention, I have a good friend who, I swear, was that kid about 15 years ago.)

So maybe this is reaching, but give her props for showcasing one of the greatest football-related commercials of all-time: the one where innocent office workers get destroyed by Terry Tate.

What's that? You want one more? OK, here you go, another HD video that makes you kneel down and worship the men and women who created HD. Try not to stare.

If you want to see more, just click on any of the three clips while they're playing, and you'll go right to the YouTube page where you can link to all the other Poptub videos.

Can I get a Terry Tate "WHOOOOOOOO!!!"?