Thursday, June 29, 2006

Answer to Guess the Athlete!


Andrea Bargnani

This is the best the NL has?



Pedro and the Mets learned what it's like to play the against the big boys. Hopefully they can get some of their dignity back against the Yankees. Then they can whimper back to their JV league,

NBA Draft Review

I don't know much about the guys drafted last night, but if Stephen A. Smith can get on ESPN analyzing the draft and say that he hasn't seen much of Rudy Gay, then I figure I can get away with sharing a few thoughts.

Should have taken Roy or Foye: Toronto, Chicago, Atlanta. Toronto and Atlanta are the obvious ones; these teams need the best talent available instead of a project like Bargnani or a role player like Williams.

My thoughts on Chicago is they want to win now, so why take on a project -- especially when you know they'll have a top pick next year (thanks Isaiah)? The Bulls could have had immediate help with Roy or Foye and then trade Ben Gordon for a veteran big man.

Did next year's draft affect this year's draft?
Next year's draft is supposed to be loaded with talent. If the NBA didn't have their new high school rule, Greg Oden would have easily went first in the draft. Anyway, are teams like the Hawks and Raptors taking projects over players that can help them right away just to get a better chance at Oden? If so, they may want to give ML Carr a call.

Portland gave me headache. I love trades more than anyone, but Portland gave me an ice cream headache with all their trades. The Roy for Foye trade made my head explode.

Cash considerations shall not be traded again. There's something wrong with teams buying players and draft picks. I also don't like the excitement of hearing about a trade followed by the disappointment that it's just a money deal.

Why I watch the draft. "With the 20th pick in the 2006 draft, the New York Knicks select Renaldo Balkman." Knick fans at the draft are trying to compete with NFL Draft Jets fans.

How to get picked in the top 10. Just average about three points a game and the Sonics will draft you. If Mouhamed Saer Sene lasts more than 3 years in the NBA I will spend a year praising NBA refs on this site.

No J.J. Redick jokes here. Just some criticism. When he was shaking David Stern's hand, did Redick look like an NBA player? He's a scrawny guy who will get beat up on offense and defense. Redick can be successful hanging out in three point land and hiding on defense, but he'll need a great coach or some great teammates to make it work. Phil Jackson isn't coaching the Magic.

Players who I think may turn out to be pleasant surprises based solely on the highlights I watched last night: Quincy Douby, Thabo Sefolosha.

What about Gerry McNamara? He went undrafted. Denver, give Gerry a call a reunite him with Carmelo. And trade for Hakim Warrick too. Whatever happened to him?

Don't know what to think about the Celtics. Since it can't happen for a while I'll ignore the Iverson, O'Neal, Marion, and Garnett rumors for now and assume the players Ainge picked last night will play for the Celtics. Ainge listened to me and traded his pick away, so I should be happy. But then I heard Dick Vitale say Foye will be Dwyane Wade and then I read that Telfair was the third string point guard on the worst team in the NBA. Then again, he's 21 and he's supposed to be good in the running game.

This could turn out to be a good draft for the Celtics, but it could also turn into "What if" heaven if Gay or Foye turn out to be stars or if Marcus Williams turns out to be much better than Rondo.

The idea of Rondo and Telfair constantly keeping the Celtics running excites me. Maybe we'll be reminded of the Bibby/Bobby Jackson combo from a few years ago. Then again, Doc Rivers won't know how to divide up the minutes properly.

Overall, the Celtics saved some money and collected more talent. Someday this has to turn into domething good. Doesn't it?

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Pedro vs. Sox







Can't wait to see him pitch against Ortiz and Manny.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Monday, June 26, 2006

NBA Draft Preview

This looks like a pretty weak draft. If I were a GM I'd try to trade my pick away for a veteran or even just some cap space. Supposedly there's 6 guys at the top before a talent drop off. Each player in the top 6, though, comes with question marks. Here's some of my question:

Darko or Dirk? Whenever there's a tall European who can shoot, he's compared to Dirk Nowitski while fans worry the player is another Darko Milicic. This year's tall European is Andrea Bargnani.

Ferry or Brand? Two Duke players will go in the first round. Will I get to celebrate another Duke bust? I'm guessing Redick could be a good guy off the bench to hit some threes. I wouldn't touch Sheldon Williams.

Who are the sure bets? From what I've read, Brandon Roy seems to be the best bet to contribute right away and even become a future All Star. Everyone seems to be role players or a "potential star."

Do those "potential stars" have any potential?
Mr. Potential Rudy Gay did nothing to excite me in his two years at UCONN. Taking him is like taking a high school kid. LaMarcus Aldridge had a terrible tournament and has been compared to Mark Blount; pass. Tyrus Thomas is a 6'8" power forward --a top ten pick for another Corliss Williamson?

Will the Phoenix Sun style of play catch on?
If it does, shooters become more important and this could really help Adam Morrison.

Who's most likely to slip? Tyrus Thomas -- he's too short, NBA teams are smart enough to look beyond a good tournament showing.

Who's might sneak up in the draft?
Patrick O'Bryant. Not only does he join Troy O'Leary in the black athlete with an Irish name club, but he's also a 7 foot center. NBA teams love taking centers early (Luc Longley, Joe Kleine, Bryant Reeves, and Nicholoz Tskitishvili say hello).

What can the Celtics do to throw my remote? Draft a shooting guard that can't shoot.

Who would I take with the number one pick?
Brandon Roy

"This is not good for the NBA"

Bill Simmons has his top 33 youtube.com clips. One that I haven't seen before was Detroit's local broadcast of the Artest brawl.



Some thoughts after seeing the brawl from a different perspective:
  • Ben Wallace had completely lost control and should have had a longer suspension. He had no business staying on the court that long. He did help instigate the crowd.
  • Stephen Jackson and Ron Artest should have been taken out of the stadium in handcuffs.
  • The Detroit franchise should have been punished more. This brawl did not come out of nowhere, yet there was no security. The NBA should have banned the Pistons from selling alcohol for a few games or maybe even make them play a few home games without any fans.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Guess the Athlete!

Mr. Wright, The Wright Stuff, Wright On, etc.



Wright, 23, was a first-round sandwich pick in 2001, the 38th player taken overall. He came into yesterday batting .337, with 19 doubles, 18 home runs, and 63 RBIs in 72 games.

``MVP," [Pedro] Martínez said.

When asked if Wright reminded him of a young Nomar Garciaparra, Martínez said: ``This one is a little more powerful than Nomar was. Nomar was a match, a lighted match. In some ways, yes, but at the same age, I think this guy is a little bit ahead of Nomar."

20 long years

After my Len Bias post there was a discussion about how much his death impacted the Celtics. Peter May must have read the discussion because he wrote about thee last 20 years of some pretty bad decision making.

If that article doesn't depress Celtics fans enough, don't forget to read the insert.

Here's my summary of the article: Len Bias, Reggie Lewis, Michael Smith instead of Tim Hardaway, Alaa Abdelnady, Acie Earl, ML Carr, Rick Pitino, ping pong balls, Chris Mills, Pervis Ellison, Travis Knight instead of Rick Fox and David Wesley, Vitaly Potapenko instead of Shawn Marion, Kedrick Brown, Joseph Forte instead of Tony Parker, and Vin Baker (whom the Celtics are still paying).

In case Celtics fans haven't thrown up, Peter May has this Reggie Lewis reminder:

``Next to Michael Jordan, he was the most unguardable player in the league," Smith said. ``People always used to rip my defense. Well, that's because every day in practice I either had to guard Larry Bird or Reggie Lewis. No one could do that."

Agreed Dee Brown, who was Gavitt's first draft pick in 1990, ``When he died, he was without question the second-best 2-guard in the league. How do you recover from that?"

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Friday, June 23, 2006

Answer to Guess the Athlete!

Dwyane Wade. I was just called for a foul because I typed his name.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Recommended reading

I haven't written about the Duke Lacrosse case because I haven't paid attention to it. Reading about rape is not my number one interest. Unlike all of the highly opinionated commentators on this case, I was not there when the incident happened, so I'm comfortable saying that I'm not sure what exactly happened.

Even if you're not that interested in the Duke case, this week's Sports Illustrated article is very interesting. You learn a lot about the prosecutor, the Duke head coach, and the Duke administration. The writer also gets bonus points for using the word, "schadenfreude."

And I thought I'd never hear the name Paxton Crawford again

Former Red Sox great, Paxton Crawford admitted to doing steroids and said they were "everywhere."

Imagine Crawford's career without steroids. Varitek and Wakefield are the only remaining Red Sox who played with Crawford (Wakefield's definitely on the juice). Here's Tim Wakefield's response to Crawford's admission: "No one forced him to take anything," Wakefield said. "I remember him not being too bright. That's what I remember about him."

Crawford's admission will now give Hall of Fame voters a really difficult decision.

Roger returns





Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Miami Championship bad news for NBA

The 2005-06 season brought us exciting high paced team basketball from the likes of Phoenix and Dallas and dynamic young players like Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Darko Milicic. There was a record amount of overtime games and some thrilling Game Sevens.

So what's the number one story of the NBA season right now? The officiating. As I'm typing this Dan Patrick was just called for a foul for holding his microphone too close to Wade.

(Bill Simmons has an interesting article on what a Miami Championship could mean for the future of NBA team philosophy and playing style.)

Another What if...

Barry Bonds signed with the Red Sox in 1992.

Murray Chass said it could have happened.

Dennis Gilbert, Bonds's agent at the time, wanted an average that exceeded $7.1 million because that was the yearly salary average of the contract Ryne Sandberg had signed with the Chicago Cubs earlier that year. Sandberg's average was the highest in baseball history, and Gilbert wanted to surpass it.

That's why he went looking for a seven-year, $50 million deal for Bonds. He proposed it to the Boston Red Sox, and if they had said yes, Bonds would have gone to Boston....

....Imagine what a Red Sox acceptance of that proposal would have meant for baseball history. Despite the fact that he is a left-handed hitter, Bonds might have been able to hit 715 home runs with the aid of nothing more than Fenway Park's Green Monster. No chemicals needed, just a slight adjustment to his potent, and talent-filled, swing.

Imagine Bonds chasing Babe Ruth in the city where Ruth began playing major league baseball. Imagine Bonds being at the center of the fierce rivalry between the Red Sox and the Yankees.

Who knows how the events of 2004 would have turned had Bonds been in Boston, but maybe Bonds would have the World Series ring he has achingly coveted. Instead, Manny Ramírez has a ring.

Had the Red Sox said yes to the deal Bonds wanted, it's unlikely that eight years later, with Bonds presumably still aboard, they would have given Ramírez the eight-year, $160 million contract he signed with them in December 2000.

The Boston media would have had a great time.

Monday, June 19, 2006

NHL Champs





Because the third period of Game 7 was the first period of the NHL I watched this season, I won't bother analyzing the game. I wonder what gets better ratings in North Carolina: the Hurricanes winning Game 7 or a repeat of a UNC Tar Heel intrasquad basketball practice.

A little Hurricane, Oiler trivia: Because of Hurricane Katrina, many New Orleans' residents sought refuge in the former home of the Houston Oilers.

20 years ago...

Len Bias died. I was going to do a "What if," but it's just too depressing. Outstanding articles by Michael Wilbon and Bill Simmons. Some excerpts:

Wilbon:
Ever since, we've been forced to wonder: Would the Celtics have remained a force with Bias in uniform? Wouldn't he have added years to the basketball lives of Bird and Kevin McHale and ultimately succeeded them as the next franchise player and face of the Boston Celtics? How many of the four titles won by the Pistons and Lakers in the late 1980s would they have won had Bias lived? How many of the Bulls' six titles would they have won if Bias had lived? Would Jordan have had the rival and true equal many of us suspect Bias would have been? Can you miss if Bird and Magic swear to your potential greatness at 22? How many people did his cocaine overdose discourage and how long did his death impact would-be users? Would Jay Bias, Len's younger brother who wandered into the wrong crowd and was shot to death, still be alive had his brother lived?


Simmons:
It happened slowly. The champions limped through the regular season in '87, with Bird and McHale logging big minutes from October to June and carrying them to another appearance in the Finals (a painful loss to the Lakers in six, and yes, the Celts were a player short). McHale injured his foot during the last month of the season, returned for the playoffs, fractured that same foot and, incredibly, kept playing on it. He was never the same player again. And Bird's body was never the same after that season; over the next few years, he started to break down like the Bluesmobile. How many titles would Bias have been worth? How many years would he have added to the careers of Bird and McHale? Is it safe to argue that the addition of Len Bias to the '86 Celtics would have locked up at least two or three more titles in the '80s? We'll never know.
We'll never know.

Call me a dumb American...

But I love this soccer clip. Thanks to Deadspin for pointing it out.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Wade's still real good

I missed most of the game because I decided to watch the Schilling Smoltz pitching duel. So when I turned on the game at the end of the fourth I was disappointed to miss the 74 attempted free throws (49 by Miami, 25 by Wade -- that was nice of the NBA to get his dad to ref tonight's game for father's day).

Fittingly the game was clinched by Wade's made free throws after a phantom foul call.

Stackhouse gets a red card

The New York Times asked an interesting question today. If it was Dampier instead of Shaq going for a layup and it was Wade instead of Stackhouse committing the hard foul, would there still be a suspension?

The Stackhouse suspension is a continuation of the NBA overreacting to highly visible displays of physical play. This has been for public relations, not to protect players' safety. What Stackhouse did a few days ago is not as dangerous as the elbows thrown by Shaq and Mourning or even the shenanigans that occur away from the ball.

This has been a series where Maverick players have received multiple elbows to the face. There has been no punishment for these dangerous fouls. However, if someone dares to commit a hard foul on NBA royalty, David Stern serves up a one game suspension in what is now a three game series.

Bring on the Ghanarians

Watching the US play against Italy yesterday, I learned about red cards. Elbow a guy in the face causing a bloody mess and you get a red card, meaning your team is short a player and you can't play in the next game (good thing Shaq doesn't play soccer). It's a harsh penalty, but I understood it. Then I saw a guy get a red card for a late slide tackle. A late slide tackle gets the same harsh penalty that a viscous elbow to the head gets? Interesting.

I also learned about the incredible healing powers of soccer players. Several times I saw injuries so devastating that stretchers were required to get the players off the field. As I was getting ready to write a Get Well card and wondering about how good the hospital care is in Germany, the injured player miraculously ran back on to the field!

This misinformed soccer fan thinks that a player who needed a stretcher to get off the field should be required to sit out for at least 5 minutes before being allowed back in the game.

Anyway, there is some very good soccer discussions by people who actually understand the game at The Swamp. Here's the thread on the US, Italy game.

Friday, June 16, 2006

How much has he made?


How much has Gary Payton made in just salary for his ENTIRE career?

Theo's pen


Byung-Hyun Kim, Mike Timlin, Alan Embree, Brandon Lyon, Ramiro Mendoza, Todd Jones, Jason Shiell, Scott Williamson, Chad Fox, Steve Woodward, Scott Sauerbeck, Bruce Chen, Robert Person, Ryan Rupe, Rudy Saenez, Hector Almonte, Bobby Howry, Kevin Tolar, Matt White, Keith Foulke, Curt Leskanic, Terry Adams, Mark Malaska, Mike Myers, Anastacio Martinez, Pedro Astacio, Jamie Brown, Jimmy Anderson, Phil Seibel, Bobby Jones, Joe Nelson, Frank Castillo, Matt Mantai, Jeremi Gonzalez, John Halama, Chad Bradford, Blaine Neal, Chad Harville, Mike Reminlinger, Mike Stanton, Scott Cassidy, Matt Perisho, Mike Holtz, Rudy Saenez (again!), Julian Tavarez, Javier Lopez, David Riske

  • The preceding names are Theo's attempts at building the Red Sox bullpen since he started before the 2003 season.
  • Not included are prospects from the farm system which Theo seems to have better luck with.
  • I included some starters who also pitched long relief (Frank Castillo, Bruce Chen)
  • In red are pitchers who were consistently good (not necessarily great)
  • In blue are pitchers who had their good moments. This is a pretty broad category. One one end of the spectrum, there's Keith Foulke who's great 2004 season made the Red Sox championship possible. On the other end of the spectrum is Scott Williamson, who always was injured, but he did have a nice run in the 2003 playoffs.
  • In black are the reasons for Sox fans' health problems.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Answer to Guess the Athlete!

It's Shaka Hislop, the Trinidad & Tobago goalkeeper who had an outstanding shutout against Sweden last week. Someday, the rest of you may have the same great soccer knowledge that I do.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

What if?


Phil Jackson never coached the Lakers?

Shaq and Kobe's Lakers don't win a championship.

The last two seasons have shown us how much Jackson means to Kobe's game. This year's playoffs are reminding us of Shaq's flaws: poor free throw shooting, poor physical fitness, and poor rebounding. Jackson knew how to deal with his superstars' flaws while taking advantage of their strengths. And he blended these two with a bunch of role players who Jackson utilized to their highest potential.

Even with Jackson coaching, the Lakers did not dominate their way to their championships. Some Robert Horry magic and a lot of help from the refs barely got them by the Kings, Trail Blazers, and Pacers. Without Jackson's coaching, the Lakers don't win those series.

Before Jackson arrived, Shaq and Kobe's Lakers did not resemble a championship team as they went through coaches like Vin Baker goes through beers. If Jackson never arrived this would have continued. The Shaq Kobe feud would have exploded earlier and neither player would have a ring.

It's not about Shaq

I made the same mistake countless writers made after the first two games of the NBA finals: I focused on Shaq. Why is everyone focusing on a role player? Sure, Shaq plays a significant role, but this series isn't about him; it's about Dwyane Wade.

Dallas has better talent and better depth, but Miami has Dwyane Wade. Nowitzki is comparable to Wade, but I give Wade a slight edge in creating his own shot and in having incredible hot streaks.

I was ten minutes away from making a joke about how a team could never come back from an 0-3 deficit (unless the opponent plays in NY and has a $200 million payroll), but Wade became Superman. I'm not sure though if Wade has enough heroics in him to get three more wins off of Dallas.

Finally, when was the last time an important game ended with such a great defensive play?

More soccer highlights

Haven't watched much of the World Cup lately, but here's a nice article from SportsPickle.com:

Lack of yellow card miraculously heals soccer player’s broken leg

Moments after a slide tackle dropped him to the ground and left him writhing in pain with what seemed to be a broken femur or some other serious injury, Paraguayan midfielder Christian Riveros popped up and continued playing after referee Hans Kimmel failed to produce a yellow card.

“It’s amazing. I see it all the time in matches,” said Kimmel, a longtime referee. “I seem to have the power to heal serious injuries simply by deciding if the felled player was taken down legally or illegally. I can’t explain it, but I guess you could call me a miracle worker.”

Riveros said at first he thought he was going to die when he was lightly bumped from behind by an English midfielder in the first half of Saturday’s match.

“I felt my soul leaving my body. ‘Surely I am going to perish,’ I thought to myself,” said Riveros. “But as my soul was ascending up to the heavens, I looked down on my body and saw that the referee wasn’t going to make a booking, so I decided to go back into my body, get up, continue playing as though nothing happened and then try to draw a card later in the game by blatantly taking another fall.”

Here's the promised highlight.

From the Brushback


Referee Thanks Antoine Walker For Showing Him Error Of His Ways

DALLAS--Referee Joe Crawford thanked Miami Heat forward Antoine Walker Sunday night for showing him the error of his ways after he made an erroneous foul call during Game 2 of the finals. Crawford quickly overturned the call and credited Walker for his knowledge of the game.
“Antoine is one of the smartest players in basketball, and when he tells you something, you listen,” said Crawford. “He really let me have it when I made that bullshit call on him. He was screaming at me and spitting all over my face and practically crying when I finally realized he was right. He never touched the guy. I don’t know what I was thinking, but I certainly appreciated the assistance. That's what separates Antoine from other guys in the league. He's willing to go that extra mile to assist the officials.”

Roethlisberger Quotes -- before and after

Before (Terry Bradshaw, May 2005)
"Ben, you're starting to make me think you're not that smart," said Bradshaw, looking directly into a camera and pointing his index finger. "Did you not see what that idiot in Cleveland did? You're cool enough without it (the bike). Wait until you're 33, 34. Ride the sucker all you want then."As the interview ended, Bradshaw walked off, muttering, "I can't believe he's riding that motorcycle. Stupidest thing I ever heard of."
After (Joey Porter, yesterday)
"If I fall off a Jet Ski, I hit the water, and I like my odds. I'm going to get wet. What I say about motorcycles is that concrete is undefeated."

Tuesday, June 13, 2006



The Redick DUI story has been floating around the net all day so I won't bother with all the Duke lacrosse jokes, Portland Trailblazers jokes, and Dick Vitale Jokes. If you'd like to see some, go to Deadspin.com.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Erick Dampier outplayed Shaq

Shaq: 28 min, 2-5 fgm-a, 1-7 ftm-a, 6 reb, 5 pts.
Dampier: 29 min, 2-3 fgm-a, 2-3 ftm-a, 13 reb, 6 pts.

Dampier outplayed Shaq. I just had to type that again. When I predicted the Heat to win, I mistakenly thought that Shaq wasn't washed up. I had forgotten how bad the Eastern Conference was compared to the West. I convinced myself that Detroit was still a good team and was impressed with what Shaq did against the Piston defense. After watching the Mavs handle Shaq, Detroit may not want to re-sign Ben Wallace.

What other Western teams would beat the Heat in the finals? Definitely the Spurs, Suns, and Clippers and possibly even the Lakers. Miami has become a one-man team: Dwyane Wade and a bunch of washed up players.

A Celtic-centric aside: if I'm an Eastern team, I go all out to win next year. Trade a prospect for a sure thing because the East is weak now, but LeBron and Wade will have a stronger supporting cast in the next few years (if they choose to stay -- Bill Simmons argued that it would be dumb for Wade to stay with the Heat who will be in salary cap hell soon). The East is wide open next year and I won't be surprised if a team that didn't make the playoffs went on to lose to a Western team in next year's finals.

Back to Shaq: Eric Dampier outplayed Shaq. I'm afraid typing that might freeze my computer. Shaq apologists are trying to blame his teammates for not getting him the ball. I'm not buying it. A younger active Shaq would get more than enough shots even if he were playing with four Kobesque ball hogs.

Even if you want to blame Shaq's teammates, how do you explain his rebounding numbers? Six rebounds is not an acceptable number for someone as big as Shaq. This leads me to my biggest criticism of Shaq: his best year rebounding was his rookie season (stats here). I'm under the impression that the greatest players to play the game improved overtime. Shaq did get better at scoring, but rebounding is kind of important for big men.

Shaq's lack of improvement in rebounding tells me he didn't get in better shape over offseasons, he didn't work on rebounding and position techniques, and worst of all: he didn't improve his effort. You can't say the same about Jordan, Magic, Bird, Russell, or Chamberlin and that's why Shaq doesn't belong in that group.

By the way, Erick Dampier outplayed Shaq.

I'm a futbol fanatic

Blame Bono if you'd like, but I'm hooked on soccer. After watching the World Cup all weekend, here's what I ended up doing:
  • Watched a repeat of the Iran versus Mexico game on the Spanish channel just so I could hear the announcer scream, "Goooooooooooooooooooal!"
  • Watched MLS soccer. Compared to the World Cup, it's like watching a little league game, but it was an exciting little league game. Chicago took a two goal lead after the Revolution were robbed by a bad offsides call. Then during the four minute injury time, the Revolution scored two quick goals to earn the tie. Amazing.
  • Went to youtube.com to watch soccer highlights.
  • Showed up late to work on Monday because I couldn't stop watching the U.S. game.
So why am I suddenly hooked on soccer (and a feeling)? The most obvious reason is the quality of play and the excitement of the games. Even a misinformed fan like me can appreciate the great ball movement, athleticism, and skill on display in Germany.

Being misinformed helps too. I don't know enough to complain about the announcers. I don't know enough to dislike any players, teams, or coaches. So I'm stupidly enjoying some good soccer without my usual cynicism.

I'm so excited about the World Cup that I might need to find a bar to watch the games this Saturday morning (Godfather, let me know if you're interested).

Finally, some World Cup highlights.

Guess the Athlete!

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Match of the year?

Sunday morning, Roger Federer and Raphael Nadal may have the match of the year. Nadal's the number two player in the world and will be going for his 60th consecutive win on clay. Federer's the number one player in the world who's going for his fourth consecutive Grand Slam Title.

Nadal is the best defensive player I've seen. When his opponent hits an apparent winner, Nadal not only gets to the ball, but then he proceeds to hit an amazing shot. Federer, meanwhile, is good at everything. So we have the two best players in the world playing on clay, the best surface for tennis viewers who like rallies longer than two shots. Sounds like a good match to watch.

Some more info:

"...Federer and Nadal have met six times, with Nadal winning five. Three of those victories came this year -- and they represent the only times Federer has lost in 2006."

"...Those close to Federer say he wants this one very badly. The fact that he has now won 27 consecutive Grand Slam matches, second on the all-time list to Laver's 29, suggests it is possible."

"...Nadal is playing for history, too. He has never lost a French Open match; the win over Ljubicic raised his record to a pure 13-0. At the age of 20, he would be the youngest man to repeat at Roland Garros since Bjorn Borg in 1974-75."

Early World Cup Analysis

My analysis so far on the games.
Germany vs. Costa Rica: There was a lot of early action in this game with 3 goals being scored in the first 16 minutes. This game featured two of the nicer goals we will probably see in the Cup. The opening goal of the tournament by Lahm from Germany was a beautiful pull up and faded it off the post and in. Costa Rica tied the game quickly, but Germany bounced right back to take the 2-1 lead and then controlled much of the game from that point on. Frings from Germany added a late goal on a long shot that will be a highlight of the tournament.
One last comment is that the stadium in Munich is tremendous.

Ecuador vs. Poland: This was an upset, but in my opinion Poland is just over-rated. I would be shocked if Poland is able to pull out a win in this group and Ecuador has some speed and some punch. There was a fairly early goal (24th minute) and Ecuador was able to put the game away with a late goal. Delgado is an exciting player to watch and I am looking forward to watching the Ecuador-Costa Rica match. This match will most likely decide which team comes out of the group. Depending on what happens in the rest of the games, Costa Rica may have to play aggressively as they are 4 goals down in the goal differential tie breaker category after 1 game.

England vs. Paraguay: Another game with an early goal as England scored on a beautiful free kick from David Beckham that deflected off the head of Paraguay's Gamarra into the net. This was the first time a World Cup match ever ended 1-0 on an own goal. England's superiority in their midfielders showed as they controlled possession much of the match and Paraguay was not able to muster many scoring opportunities. Some notes are that Michael Owen was substituted for in the 56th minute as he is recovering from a knee injury and apparently is not at full strength to this point. The referees seemed to really center in on England's Peter Crouch as 7 fouls went against him. He received a yellow card for complaining to the referees which can come back to hurt him as he now much refrain from another yellow in the next 2 games or he will have to sit out a game.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Answer to Guess the Athlete!

Arvid Kramer, Billy Thompson, and Fred Roberts -- the first three players taking by the Miami Heat in the 1988 Expansion Draft.

Fantasy World Cup

Laura e-mailed me a link for fantasy World Cup:

Washingtonpost.com has created a Fantasy World Cup Game as part of its comprehensive coverage of the World Cup on the web. By picking 6 players and a team defense you can track your team’s progress as the real teams play in Germany. You can also track the teams of people you know, creating some friendly rivalry. Once the games begin you can make 3 substitutions per round. Points are accumulated and lost according to positive and negative aspects, for example, scoring goals and getting red cards.

The link to sign up for the fantasy game is http://projects.washingtonpost.com/worldcup/.


I signed up and let's just say that everyone is just playing for second. Go Hooligans!

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Bono infected me with World Cup Fever!

I don't know if I'll be able to sit through an entire soccer game, but I sure like the commercials. Soccer highlights with U2 music in the background and Bono (also the Edge) lecturing us on how soccer will lead us to World Peace has gotten me pumped!
Even without the commercials I'd still be interested in the World Cup. Guess it's time for another list:
  • It really is a World Cup. When other sports have their "world cups," there's usually a handful of countries that are good at the sport and then the rest of the world who's still learning. Soccer is big all over the world, so there's more talent and better competition to watch.
  • The Americans are the underdogs. It's always more fun to root for the underdog.
  • Bars are opening at 8 AM in the Boston area because of the World Cup. Anything that gets people drinking at 8 AM is a good thing.
  • Ronaldinho

Naming names



Jason Grimsley got busted by the feds for steroids, so he decided to go the Henry Hill route and give some names. Smoking Gun has the Affidavit.

The first reaction has been to guess the names he gave up. Among the teams he's played for are the Indians (Omar Vizquel?), the Yankees (Don Zimmer?), and the Orioles (Mark Belanger?).

It will be interesting to hear the names of the players, but more important may be the doctors and clinics Grimsley implicates. Balco gave us Bonds, Giambi, and Sheffield. Now we may learn of some new Balcos who may have several new names.

By the way, Grimsley has been released by the Diamondbacks. I don't know if the Yankees have signed him yet.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Some more old news



Dirk Nowitzki's confession that he thinks of a David Hasselhoff song while shooting free throws allows me to post the greatest music video of all time.

Something I should have posted last week

Guess the Athlete(s)!




These three former athletes are somewhat related to an ongoing sports story. Sorry for the different sized pictures (they weren't exactly the easiest people to find).

NHL Finals Preview


You can't deny the greatness of Gretzky and Messier, but the Whalers have the whole state of Rhode Island pulling for them. I'm going with Peter Griffin's team. The Hurricaines, err I mean Whalers, in six.

From the archives

Posted On October 30, 2005:
Heat: Wade and Shaq could probably get them to the finals alone, but there are issues. 1) Shaq's not getting younger and the Pistons contain him pretty well. 2) When you have superstars you're supposed to surround them with strong role players, so they get Walker, Williams, and Payton? On a good night Walker will come up with offensive rebounds and nice passes. Unfortunately those good nights are surrounded by nights of ill advised threes and sulking when he doesn't get the ball enough. Williams can be erratic and Payton should have retired three years ago. Did I mention none of these guys play defense?

It will take an MVP performance out of Shaq or Wade to get this team into the finals.

...So the Heat have the two best players, the Pistons have the best starting five, and the Pacers have the best depth. I'll go with the team with best two players. The Heat will lose to the Spurs in the finals.
I somehow forgot to mention the Mavs in my NBA Preview. Fortunately, I keep all of my rough drafts, and here is something I found that did not make the cut: "Desagna Diop's delightful defense could be the difference in Big D." Guess I should have included it. Here is an interesting metaphor I came up with for the Knicks:
Every player on the Knicks is a question mark. Larry Brown wins wherever he goes, but then there's Isiah. I'm not sure which comparison to make: 1) if you mix gold(Brown) with crap(Isiah), it's still a valuable combination, or 2) if you mix chocolate (Brown) with crap (Isiah), it still tastes like crap.
Guess you could say the Stephon Marbury was a kernel.

NBA thoughts from my sick bed

Being stuck in bed for the last few days allowed me to watch a lot of the NBA, the Food Network, and Benson reruns on TVLand. The burger battle on Iron Chef America may have been the most compelling TV, but I figure people would rather read my thoughts on the NBA:
  • Let me get the officiating issue out of the way. The NBA's improving in talent and playing style, but poor officiating continues to hurt the league. The polite way to criticize last night's refs would be to say they called the game too tight. Too tight is when you blow the whistle on borderline calls. Last night they were blowing the whistle for things that weren't even happening. Nothing should be taken away from Dallas, but the refs strongly affected the series.
  • Dirk and Depth. No, I'm not writing about the Godfather's favorite Dirk Diggler film; I'm writing about why Dallas won. How many teams can bring in a Jerry Stackhouse when a starter gets two quick fouls? It's no accident that Dallas made its runs in the second half of the last two games. Phoenix was beat up, tired, and in foul trouble. Dallas took advantage.
  • But you can't just win with depth (ask the Clippers). Dirk defined himself in this series as a superstar. The 50 point Game 5 performance was one of the best I've ever seen. I was ready to criticize him for Game 6 because he was settling for fade aways when Phoenix couldn't defend the rim and the refs were calling everything, but then he took the game over in the second half. And Steve Nash won the MVP over him?
  • And Dwyane Wade too? It was interesting watching Wade battle flu like symptoms as I was battling them myself. While Wade was making great passes and chasing Rip Hamilton, I was contemplating if I should try to eat a Saltine. Maybe he has a better health plan than me.
  • I wish I could have sat next to Dumars during the series. After every Wade basket, I would look at him and just say, "Darko?"
  • There were three very good coaches in the semifinals. Poor Flip Saunders.
  • Some former Celtic talk: I'm happy for Antoine Walker. For all of his on court flaws, I liked his off court persona and his hustle. It's good to see a Pitino survivor make the finals. I even enjoyed the "Wiggle" after his three pointer sealed the series.
  • Adrian Griffith was one of my favorite players during the ongoing Celtics Dark Ages. Even in limited playing time, he gets the loose ball, makes the smart steals, and gets the heads up basket.
  • What Phoenix does on offense is what Tommy Heinsohn has been begging the Celtics to do for the last 20 years. When a team runs with a good point guard, average players become good players, good players become great players, and Shawn Marion becomes unstoppable. Let's hope other NBA coaches learn from the Suns and listen to the great Heinsohn.
  • Jason Terry is a dirty player. Watch him without the ball on offense.
  • I'm looking forward to this year's finals but can ABC just blur out the images of Pat Riley and Mark Cuban?
  • For as wonderful as this block was, it's time to blow up the Pistons and try again. Some friendly advice to Joe Dumars: do whatever it takes to get rid of Rasheed. Everyone else besides Chauncey and Billups are expendable.
  • Prediction time. I'm struggling with this one. The shots won't come as easy for the Mavs against the Heat. The Suns didn't defend the rim against the Mavs; Shaq will. On the other hand, Shaq will finally need to run the floor to get back on defense. Nobody can guard Dwyane Wade, but Josh Howard will do a better job than the Pistons did. Dallas also has the depth to waste fouls on Shaq and to keep the tempo up. I don't see the Heat stopping Dirk, but I do see him settling for jump shot with Shaq and Haslem waiting for him in the lane. Ultimately, this game will be about who comes up bigger: Wade or Dirk. I'm hesitantly going with Heat in 7.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Answer to Guess the Athlete!

It's Zinedine Zidane, the great French soccer player who is playing in his last World Cup. Sorry for the delay, I've been out with flu-like symptoms.