Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Where are the Tiger fans?

24 hours later, I'm still flabbergasted by the Marlins/Tigers trade. I'm really interested to know what Tiger fans, and baseball for that matter, think of the trade. I can't imagine Detroit fans would have anything negative to say on the subject. I have a few thoughts and questions about the trade, teams and the state of baseball. Please, if anyone still reads this blog, respond.

  • I give major propers to Dave Dombrowski for having the stones to pull off what the Angels and others were afraid to - namely trade a bunch of young talent. I'm not going to say he gave up the farm system because it's much larger than six guys. However, Maybin, Miller, de la Cruz, and the others are major prospects not mid-level.

  • How will Dontrelle Willis do in the varsity league? He's a tremendous talent, but I foresee a lengthy acclamation period. It simply takes pitchers time to adjust to new hitters (i.e. Beckett).
  • Meanwhile, as Willis adjusts Cabrera will be mashing in the middle of the best line-up in the majors. The thought of Tribe pitchers facing this murderers row 19 times next season makes my stomach hurt. The projected line-up: Granderson, Polanco, Sheffield, Cabrera, Ordonez, Guillen, Renteria, Rodriguez, and Jones. Disgusting!
  • Shouldn't the Marlins be contracted? They're a day care center for major league talent! Teams send their youngsters to Miami for about three seasons. They go through growing pains and mature against average competition. Eventually they're ready for school (the AL), and the Marlins ship them north in exchange for more babies. Soon Hanley Ramirez, Dan Uggla, and Anibel Sanchez will be ready for first grade and will need to leave the comfort of the Florida child rearing service. Welcome Camryn Maybin! Now go play with some blocks.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Scottie Pippen, basketbollspelare

I read today on TrueHoop that Scottie Pippen will play a game for a team in sweden this winter. Jake and Phoebe should get tickets now.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Big three?

I don't understand it.

When I was a little kid, I liked the Celtics, #33 and all that. And then they sucked, like unwatchably sucked for years. And now they are promising again. I should be psyched. But instead I find myself rooting against them. Why?

The culture of failure

I figure we might as well start a new thread for last night's game, which was really one of the hardest heartbreaks I can remember for this team, even if it isn't a huge deal from the perspective of the season as a whole. A beautiful game for Lebron (and again, encouraging in its way - being able to play to the final moments on the road, against an elite team, on the second night of a back-to-back has to say something), but my god what a failure on that last play. Deron Williams is strong and quick but there's no excuse for not having defended him at halfcourt. One he's in the paint, you have to be a bit reluctant because you don't want to foul, but fucking get in front of him when he's fifty feet from the basket. Make him throw a risky pass. Don't let him coast in for a layup. Is this not obvious? Lebron's instinct was correct to get all the way back on D, but someone has to press, if not two guys. It's a shame that they wasted a good game and a solid comeback effort on one stupid lapse.

Not that the game was perfect. The free throw problem is eating me alive. The Cavs were a pathetic 19 of 29 from the stripe. Lebron missed two early in the game and I thought to myself, this is exactly the kind of thing that haunts you in the final minutes, when a couple of free baskets in an early, low-pressure situation could have put you in control right now. In fact, Lebron was the only one to blame tonight - 7 of 15! When you shoot 40-45% percent from the floor, taking a fair number of outside shots, that just does not make sense. The turnovers were also an issue, but that concerns me less since I think it was just the texture of the game. The Jazz had almost as many.

Maybe girls are right that you need to drink organtic milk. (Clearly the perfect conclusion to any blasketblog post.)

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

What's a Man to Do?

Somehow Cavs GM Danny Ferry has become a local and, somewhat, national villain. NBA writers and most local fans are anticipating a difficult start for the Cavs for two reasons. First, their brutal early schedule. That's already been well document on this blasketblog.

Second is the absence of Andy Varejeo. Let me make one thing clear: Varejeo is worth, maybe, four million dollars annually. He's asking for ten million. Sir, you're welcome to spend the season in Europe, Asia, or on any other continent willing to give a big man of limited abilities ten million dollars a year. We don't need you for that price.

That brings me back to Danny Ferry. Somehow he's been blamed for Varejeo's absence as well as the underwhelming performance of the Cavs free agent class of 2005. At that time, Ferry was praised for bringing in Hughes, Jones and Marshall. Their fragility and erratic performances have nothing to do with Ferry! Now, all of a sudden, people are leaping all over him.

National writers and fans alike need to chill the fuck out. The consensus is that Ferry and the Cavs did nothing this offseason. That's because he, Ferry, had no resources to work with this offseason. The team had zero draft picks, due in no part to Ferry. They have no tradeable pieces outside of Boobie Gibson and he's untouchable.

Of course they also had zero salary cap room for free agents. I don't blame Ferry. I applauded Ferry for his '05 moves. So did most national writers. And those writers can't have it both ways! They can't laud Ferry for his aggressiveness in '05 and rip him for not spending in '07. The NBA salary cap doesn't work that way.

I guess in closing I will simply suggest everyone, fans and writers alike, relax, lay off poor Danny Ferry and allow the team to play. They will win or lose with virtually the same squad as '06. And that's not the bad thing some make it out to seem. Maybe Andy comes to his senses and tells his brother, who's his agent, to go fuck himself. On second thought, that won't happen. I hope you like Greece Varejeo.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007


If anyone else is watching (jake?), we should live-blog here. An interesting early season matchup between two teams with a lot of pressure already to demonstrate that last year was not a fluke. I'm really hoping the Cavs can pick up a W to get some momentum on this tough west coast swing.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

It's blasketball time or whatever1!

Just a quick prognostication before the Raptors/Celtics tipoff: the Raptors will win.


Tuesday, October 30, 2007


One last '07 baseball post before basketball talk begins in earnest.

So the WS was kind of a cakewalk after the LCS - not much drama. Still, I'm glad the Sox completed the sweep; the bullpen was starting to look pretty gassed by the end of game 4.

It's nice to have the '04 victory validated. I did sort of feel like the team needed that.

Cheers fellas.

On board the Red Sox jet en route to the ASG.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Washington Wizards Season Preview

The Wizards are not a basketball team. At least they are impossible to take seriously as such. Watching them play is less like Hoisers and more like Private School. With enough time, Gilbert will post a full scale description of him and DeShawn's panty raid of the Mystics locker room.

Agent Zero's style seems to have permeated the team's on-court persona as well. They play basketball like the team I created for NBA Live 2003 (I think) where Rasit Bilgin was 7'6'' and played center. They hoist up ridiculous shots at the last minute, and sometimes they go in. They never seem to run plays. They appear to be having a great time. They play paintball on the lawns of their mansions.

However, in the year that seems to mark (at least partial) salvation for the East, can we afford to ignore the Wizards? This was a team that won like two thirds of their games when their three stars were healthy last season. And they are healthy again. While another year will certainly slow down Antawn Jamison, Gil and Caron Butler are poised to have seriously awesome outings. Etan Thomas is out for the long hall, but this may open the door for Andray Blatche to show how he is awesome at basketball.

As much as we may not want to WATCH the wizards (a struggle that I have been faced with over the past several years) we certainly want to pay attention to them. I know how great it would be for the Atlanta Undersized Forwards to finally pull together a winning season, but with the Heat relying on Ricky Davis for a couple of months, the Wizards will win. A lot. More than anyone expects. They will win more games than any other team in their geographic sixth of the United States. And no one will pay attention to them when they win, because they are not a paradigm shift, a train wreck, a second coming, a final chance, a shot at redemption, or any of the other favorite sports cliches which get you games on ABC. They are a bunch of goofballs, sprinkled with a little dysfunction, who play ugly basketball as a job.

Monday, October 1, 2007



I stand corrected.



Sunday, August 26, 2007


I will pay out 100:1 on the following wager, should anyone like to make it: The Cardinals and the Reds will finish the season first and second (in either order) in the NL Central.

60:1 - The Rockies and Dodgers will finish 1st and 2nd (in either order) in the NL West

40:1 - The Phillies and Braves " " in the NL East

80:1 - The A's and Mariners " " in the AL West

25:1 - The Twins and Tigers" " in the AL Central

150:1 - The Yankees and Blue Jays " " in the AL East

Also, I will take - and solemnly promise to fulfill - 100,000:1 bets on the Devil Rays catching the Red Sox.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Question of the day

I wonder if I could secure a save with a 27-run cushion? My vote is 'no'.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Are the yanks surprising?

"Derek, are we BAD AT BASEBALL? or just unlucky"
Clearly I have been completely fixated on this idea of the pythagorean expectation and figuring out whether a team's below expected performance is due to random chance or something else is figuring in (insert favorite explanation here). I decided to get away from all of the statistics and to harness the power of computing to replay the entire Yankee season to see if where we are now could be expected randomly or it something else is going on.

Here is how I replayed the season:

(1) Imagine the number of runs scored by the Yankees in a given game is entirely independent of the number of runs scored against the Yankees. This assumption holds up pretty well as the correlation of those two numbers is 0.014 (zero is no correlation 1 and -1 is extreme correlation).

(2) We now have two lists of numbers, Yankees scores and other team scores. Instead of the outcome we observed, we can randomly select a different Yankee score to match to the other team score. From those new scores, we can figure out which team won our pretend game (with ties split in half).
Imagine the yankees played 3 games the scores of which were 2-1, 5-3 and 3-4 leading to 2 wins.
One replayed season might have the scores 3-1, 2-3, and 5-4, again 2 wins.
Another might have the scores 2-3, 5-1, and 3-4, which only would be 1 win.
Yet another might have the scores 3-3, 5-4 and 2-1, which would be 2 wins and 1 tie.

I did this rerandomization 10,000 times with the scores from Yankee games this year.
Currently, they are 63-50. Most often in our 10,000 fake seasons, they were 70-43. This is almost dead on the Pythagorean expectation with the best possible exponent (if you didn't follow that, don't worry about it). But, the likelihood of them winning 63 games or fewer in these random seasons is only 1.8%. That seems surprising. In fact- calculating a p-value to determine the likelihood that we would see performance that deviates so far from the mean, we find p = 0.04. Traditionally, in cogsci we reject the null hypothesis (here that performance is just a random assignment of Yankee's scores to opponents scores) when p<0.05. So, we can conclude that there is something wrong with the Yanks (insert favorite theory here)

"For some reason - we are awesome"
Arizona Diamondbacks
Actual: 63-51
Correlation btwn Snakes scores and Opponents scores = -0.1
Expected by best Pythagorean Estimate: 53.4 - 60.6
Most often seen in random seasons: 55-59, 56-58 (tied)
Likelihood of Actual given random seasons: ~1.1%
p-value = 0.02

Zona is better this season than we might expect by chance.

Under performance makes CC cry
2006 Cleveland Indians
Actual: 78-84
Correlation btwn Tribe scores and Opponents scores = -0.014
Expected by best Pythagorean Estimate: 88.8 - 73.2
Most often seen in random seasons: 88-74
Likelihood of Actual given random seasons: ~0.5%
p-value = 0.01
The Indians really screwed up bad last year.

Finally, (sort of) my Orioles
Who is this handsome man?

Actual: 52-58
Correlation btwn Birds scores and Opponents scores = +0.10
Expected by best Pythagorean Estimate: 55-55
Most often seen in random seasons: 56-54
Likelihood of Actual given random seasons: ~10%
p-value = 0.22

Maybe we shouldn't be so surprised by the Os...

Monday, August 6, 2007

A brief pause for basketball history... and then a BASEBALL STATS QUESTION

Did you know that a man whose legal given name was actually GOD SHAMMGOD played for the Washington (then) Bullets in 1997-98?

One might have thought he looked like this...

Unfortunately, he only looked like this...

My interest in baseball has been fairly low for this season. My semi-beloved Orioles have taken quite a beating on this blog, but currently they expected (Pythagoreanly) to be above 500 for the first time in about a decade. (In fact based on their runs scored and runs against that are the middlest team in baseball. Certainly not awesome but should not be described multiple times as a candidate for the WORST TEAM IN BASEBALL unless that candidate set is 15 teams long).

Coming right at you with eight wins in a row

However, despite scoring more runs than they gave up, the Os are 6 games under 500. For the baseball statistical purist they would be described as underperforming by chance - that their Pythogorean Expectation is somehow a purer method of determining how good they are instead of their win loss, ala last years Cleveland Indians. The Indians won 12 fewer games than they were expected to by runs for and against. The Orioles are on pace to win 6 fewer games. More extremely - the Yankees are currently 9 games under expectation while Arizona is a whopping 10 games OVER expectation.

This reminds me of a conversation I had with GF last year about the Indians. The Pythagorean expectation is all well and good as a general indicator of how well a team should performa. But, there are certain predictors of win loss that is cannot capture. For example, if a team has 4 pitchers, two of whom have an ERA of 0 and two of whom have an ERA of 5 and the team scores exactly 4 runs a game. The team will obviously be a 500 team (the first two pitchers will win every game and the second two lose every game). However, over 160 games, we would expect them to win 102. Their actual performance would be -22 from pyagorean expectation, but we don't REALLY expect them to win 102 games. At some point is a massive deviation from Pythagorean expectation not just an expected possible deviation that could happen to any team, but actually soemthing which could EXPLAIN SOMETHING ABOUT A SPECIFIC TEAM? Thoughts?

"Eureka," says Pythagoras, "the Orioles suck only a little."

Sunday, August 5, 2007


Could #755 have come more awkwardly? I feel like Bonds is an omnipotent overlord who will smite all humans if we don't celebrate the breaking of the record to his satisfaction.


Lady and gentlemen, I give you sweet-swinging (.306/.368/.501) Eric Byrnes - for the LOLZ:

"The sun was bad, but was it any worse than it's been the last 10,000 years? I'm gonna say no."
--A's outfielder Eric Byrnes, on losing a ball in the sun, barely catching the next one hit his way, then watching two more fall in for doubles (2005)

"There was no head contact, but I couldn't stop smacking kids around in tournaments, so I kept getting disqualified."
--Diamondbacks outfielder Eric Byrnes, on when he took karate as a kid (2006)

"Dude, I was like John McEnroe. I was good, but I threw my racket all the time. Once, I nailed the kid on the other side of the net. I never hit the judge, but I did fire some balls at him."
--Byrnes, on his tennis career as a kid (2006)

"The greatest part about it is it went into someone's beer. My initial reaction was to send one of the kids in the clubhouse up there to buy them a new beer. Then I found out it was a Dodger fan."
--Snakes outfielder Eric Byrnes on a three-run homer of his (2006)

"I didn't realize how many degenerates sit there at home and watch television and surf the Internet and look for ways to belittle people. People should not be concentrating on what I'm wearing and what my hair looks like. They should be concerned with my flow and the knowledge coming out of my mouth."

--Byrnes, in response to television viewers critical of his haircut (2006)

"I don't get much sleep anyway. Advantage: Byrnes"

--Eric Byrnes, when asked if day games after night games were a problem for him (2007)

Bonus roffles:

Friday, August 3, 2007

Beasts of the NL East

I'm still not sold on the Phillies. They are the NL's best hitting team, far ahead of the rest of the league with 592 runs scored. But that's only half the game: you have to be able to pitch too, and the Phillies are thirteenth in the NL with a team ERA of 4.74, which is hardly promising for a potential division champ.

The Mets, meanwhile, rank second in ERA at 3.86 and sixth in runs with a respectable 503 (hardly "lackluster"). I'm not sure where Ben's coming from when he complains the Mets don't hit for average and strike out too much - the Mets team average is .271 with 677 K's, which compares well with the Phils' .279/777 K's. It's true that Delgado has been close to "dead weight" - his line of .249/.322/.434 is pretty bad for a 1B on a contending team - but the rest of the team has picked up the slack. Beltran's line of .263/.340/.483 is a little disappointing by his standards, but is still valuable for a CF I think. And as for the Mets' starters: even if none of them are real intimidating, at least they're generally competent. That might not win them a playoff series, but it should carry them through the regular season.

So when Cole Hamels isn't throwing, the Phillies HAVE to win by outslugging their opponent, whereas the Mets and Braves (542 runs/4.12 ERA) each get it done both on the mound and at the plate. Ben predicts that the Phils are going to come out on top thanks to their ability to win high-scoring games like their victory over the Cubs last night. He tries to make that sound like a virtue, but to me it seems more like a more fundamental issue/problem is that the team is routinely getting into games like that.

Taking a look at the standings, the NL East contenders in fact have almost identical run differentials (NYM: 46, PHI: 45; ATL: 44), suggesting that all three are actually pretty close in terms of how good they "really" are. The difference, though, is that the Mets have a four game lead with only 54 left to play. As the teams below them aren't markedly better, I expect the Mets are going to hold on.

"See you in October"

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Trade deadline madness

Now that my brain has recovered from the completely insane Matt Morris trade, here's some thoughts on what's happened:

Ben, the Braves are clearly going for it this year, which makes sense I think. The division is still within reach, and there's not much time left for the core of this Braves team: Larry keeps getting dinged up, Andruw may no longer be around next season, and who knows how much longer Smoltz is going to be effective. With the moves they made, their bullpen is much better, and even if Tex doesn't hit like he has in Texas, he's still a major upgrade for their lineup - I think I read that Atlanta was ranking dead last in the majors in RBIs by their first basemen. You said that Tex has 8 HRs in 144 ABs away from Arlington - sure, that ain't Ruthian, but it still adds up to 30 HRs over 550 ABs. A lot of teams could use that. I'm not really familiar with any of the prospects the Braves traded away besides Salty, so I can't assess the value they gave away. But the Braves filled many of their immediate needs, and they now look to me like a better bet than the Phils to unseat the Mets.

As for Gagne: he's not the pitcher he was pre-injury, and initially there was speculation that he would share the closer role, which had me worried about a clash of egos between him and Papelbon. But seeing as Gagne has explicitly agreed to a set-up role I guess I like the trade. He's still pretty good, he's got experience, and the Sox didn't give up anyone too important in order to get him. He can take some innings/pressure off of Okajima while providing insurance in case Papelbon gets hurt. Plus he doesn't pitch for the Yankees now.

The Proctor-Betemit deal was a good one for the Yanks for sure. They got a useful bench player for 07/possible third baseman for 08 in return for a pitcher Torre has run into the ground. I think Betemit was pretty expendable (isn't someone else already tabbed as 3B of the future for LA?) but I'm still surprised the Dodgers were willing to accept Proctor of all people in exchange for him.

Luis Castillo to the Mets: I would have been okay with running Ruben Gotay out there every day but I guess this makes both management and fans feel like something (anything) was done at the deadline. What's way more important is getting Beltran (not to mention Pedro) back from the DL.

Kyle Lohse and Tad Iguchi to the Phillies: Iguchi is obviously a stopgap and Lohse is a very (very) minor upgrade. Pretty 'whatever', especially compared to who the Braves acquired and who the Mets will get back from injuries. Also I see Lohse is out of today's game after only one IP/one ER - not sure why yet, but for whatever reason, that ain't good.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Best moves before the trade deadline, in ranked order

1) Garnett to Boston
2) Branyan waived by Padres
3) Lofton to Cleveland
4) Castillo to Mets
5) Texeira to Atlanta
6) Iguchi to Philly
17) Lohse to Philly
26) DeFelice's contract purchased by Mets
91) Spiezio activated by Cardinals

For the Braves' sake, I hope they're thinking long term with their pending trade. There's always the chance that Texeira could come right in and make a huge impact, but it's no sure bet. It generally takes home run hitters a couple months to adjust to a new ballpark, a new league, and a new lineup. That last one will be to Texeira's advantage, as the one he was previously in was increasingly a joke during his tenure, but the first two adjustments pose, if not unsurmountable, still serious challenges. Texeira is hitting in the .260's away from Arlington this year, and his power numbers are less than inspiring - 8 home runs in 144 ABs. In any case, he makes a better cleanup hitter than Andruw Jones.

Meanwhile, Iguchi and Lofton appear to be fitting in well with their new teams; each has 4 hits in his first 3 games. I imagine Castillo will put up similar numbers. These moves could likely make as much of an impact down the stretch this year as the blockbuster Texeira deal.

Monday, July 30, 2007


So, the Red Sox. Looking pretty good. Positives:

* Eight game division lead with 57 left to play; only six games left against the Yankees
* Only 26 of the 57 remaining games are against teams currently at or above .500, and 10 of those 26 are vs. Toronto and Minnesota
* Lowest team ERA in the AL
* Very healthy RS:RA (542:417)
* Josh Beckett's lack of blisters and resulting ability to throw his breaking stuff
* Manny is starting to pick it up, and Schilling is on the way back
* Okajima in the eighth
* Papelbon in the ninth
* Lowell so far avoiding his usual second half slide (.344/.390/.490 in July)
* Crisp finally hitting


* JD Drew
* Julio Lugo
* Sloppy fielding on the left side of the infield (Lowell and Lugo own 24 of the team's 55 errors)
* Ortiz hasn't looked right since returning

Jury still out:

* Matsuzaka's line of 144.0 IP, 12-7 W-L, 3.75 ERA, 142 K somehow looks much better to me than how I've seen him pitch. Based on anecdotal viewage, his MO seems to be to allow a frightening number of baserunners who somehow never score as often than they should. But even so, his results have been good as he's adjusted to a new, more difficult league, and with more experience it seems he could be a legitimate ace. Or he could just turn out to be Hideo Nomo mk. II, which wouldn't be the worst thing in the world. At least Matsuzaka can actually pitch, unlike Kei Igawa.

This doesn't feel like a great team the way the 2003/2004 squads did (due to their historically good hitting), but on the whole I like its chances. It seems to me like all four teams that make the AL playoffs will have a good shot at the Series, but the Sox are clearly the front-runners. Feels weird/good to type that.


I want to point out that Ben's prediction that the Cubs will win the NL Central (which I think I mocked more than once) is looking better every day.

Speaking of the Cubs, is there a more baffling player than Alfonso Soriano? For example: his frequent lapses in concentration, his poor fielding, being traded from the Yankees for A-Rod, his extreme home/road splits while with Texas, the standoff in Washington over playing the OF followed by a 40/40 season, his outlandish contract, and finally his horrible start to '07 followed by recently hot hitting as the Cubs make a push for the division? He's just generally streaky, I guess, but somehow I still never know what to think of this guy.


With the country's conflicted feelings about Bonds hitting 756 (as you're probably aware, surveys show large numbers of people do want him to break the record, especially among minorities), as well as the continuing and related steroid shitstorm, this is probably the last warm-and-fuzzy moment for MLB for a while. I'm trying to enjoy it while I can...

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Who's Now? Not the Tribe

I just don't know how to feel about the Indians right now. My Tribe-related emotions have been on a rollercoaster ride all week. I guess the only way to accurately sum up my recent impressions of this club is to start with this past week's four game series against Boston. I was really pumped for this series. Cleveland owed Boston some payback for roughing them up in the first half and they had the favorable pitching match-ups to get their revenge.

Sadly, the tone of the series was set in the first inning of the first game. Jake Westbrook loaded the bases with no outs and Boston capitalized by hitting with runners in scoring position. All series the Indians put runners on-base, only to leave them stranded. The Red Sox never let Indians pitchers off the hook, making them pay for walking batters with timely hitting. It's the main reason why they won three of four games.

I'm at my wits end with Cliff Lee and Jake Westbrook. There is no reason why two established starters - both of whom swear to be healthy- routinely give up four or more runs in the opening innings of games. The Indians have rewarded both guys with huge contracts and have been repaid with outings that lack focus from the outset, forcing the offense to play catch-up. I don't care to see Lee with the big league club again this season. He can stay in Buffalo and get a taste of the minor leagues again. Westbrook is different. Cleveland will not send him down. He must get his shit together and perform like an eleven million dollar player.

This team's hopes of making the postseason are in great jeopardy. I know some people will disagree with this sentiment, but it's true. The bullpen is in shambles. They don't need to add a guy, they need add some guys. They need proven relievers with big game experience and I just don't see where they'll acquire such individuals. This is on top of a rotation that strikes no fear in the opponent three out of every five days. I love Sabathia and Carmona, but they can only do so much. Cleveland's postseason asperations rest on Paul Byrd, Jake Westbrook, and whoever steps into the fifth spot. Finally, the club must play better on the road. No World Series contender should be .500 or worse away from home.

For those that care, I do like the Lofton trade for all the reasons Ben already mentioned. I just hope GM Mark Shapiro is not down adding pieces to a needy ballclub.


Truly a great move. Everyone keeps talking about how they think he has "a little bit left," but really his production hasn't declined at all in recent years. He remains a solid .300, 30 SB guy who is also a defensive asset. Ever since he stopped swinging for the fences eight years ago his production has been consistent and his average close to or over .300. I'll be so much happier with him in the lineup than, say, Trot Nixon, and I think he plugs in great at #2. With his and Grady's respectable OBP and good speed, it will be much easier to play small ball and manufacture runs at the top of the lineup.

The Tigers appear paralyzed trade-wise, since they (rightly) are hesitant to give up Cameron Maybin for a rental and the one thing they might want (a reliever) is the scarcest commodity. The Indians made out as well as anyone could hope to with the market as it is, adding what could be a crucial piece in the pennant race.

Also Kenny just looks good in that uniform. I'm not gay.

Thursday, July 26, 2007


ESPN reports what turns out to be an extremely misleading stat - records since June 3rd. The Cubs top the list at 31-15, which happens to be meaningful since they've moved very much within striking distance of the Brewers; the numbers for the Yankees are equally telling, as a 31-16 run has returned them to contention. But the Tigers, Mariners, and Rangers, who own the next three best records, have not similarly advanced. Indeed, the Mariners have simply collapsed in the last week, losing seven straight and experiencing their worst nightmare - a blown save by Putz. His inning was totally uncharacteristic considering his performance to date, but expect more of it. First, he's a rookie and second, he's not god. Or Rollie Fingers. Or even Jose Mesa, probably. The Ms record over the last two months is of two halves, a good one and a bad one, in that order, and with the prophesied rise of the Yanks it looks like they're cooked. The success of the Rangers is perfectly meaningless, for obvious reasons, while the Tigers have been running in place (albeit on a pretty high plateau) for much of the year. Apparently there's such a thing as a sample size that's too large.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The messy list of contenders

There is not a single a division leader presently distancing themselves from the pack. In the NL, the season-long frontrunners have lost ground at such a glacial pace, and the contenders have made such meek efforts to move up, that the difference of 3 games is starting to feel semi-permanent in the Central and East. The Dodgers are currently in first in the West, but with the top three teams all going 5-5 in their last ten there clearly hasn't been much action. Perhaps when the BIG PENIS returns for the PENISBACKS, we'll see a surge from them.

There are about five teams squarely out of contention in the AL after 100 games, and other than that I'm willing to imagine that anyone might end up anywhere in the standings. I'm frustrated nightly with the Indians, whose stable bullpen and generally solid starting efforts have been repeatedly foiled by the inconsistency of the lineup, last night being a great example. DICE JAPANESE PITCHER had good stuff, but not as good as CC, and the tribe had their chances, including a bases loaded situation in the first. They're making a frightening number of bad baserunning choices (see Grady last night) and really looking terrible in the clutch. The result is a .500ish record since the break, certainly not good enough at this point in the season and against the competition they've seen (Texas, Chicago, and KC before Boston).

AND YET the Tigers have made it a moot point by playing also quite terribly. This has been the result of two crucial factors. One, their bullpen sucks. It had a good week or two, and is now back to showing its true colors. Two, they've had the bad luck to face teams at hot moments, including KC and Chicago, who magically started playing well for a couple weird weeks. The mediocre play of the Tigers and Indians has excused the fact the Twins, too, have been atrocious, getting swept by the Tigers at home and losing their last two to Toronto. Things look a lot like they did after the break - the Indians out by about 1, and the Twins out by about 8.

The X factor has been the red hot East, where the Yankees appear to have figured something out offensively. This is truly the way to win for them - score 20 runs. Even their pitching staff can win with that! Boston has been good because Boston is very good, I'm convinced several rungs better than Detroit and headed for another World Series. Okajima and Papelbon are a frightening combination in 8-9.

So New York is in the wild card chace, I'll admit with a sigh. Toronto's hot and just a few games behind NY, so you have to include them, too. Plus the Twins and Mariners (until that losing streak continues), and you have four teams nipping at the Tribe's heels. With Seattle's failures, none is immanently close, but there's reason to be concerned.

The frustrating/awesome thing about this season is that nothing is particularly certain. No division lead feels safe anywhere in baseball.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

July 24

Happy Barfday, Barry Bo-onds

Thursday, July 12, 2007

The Story of Putz

What a weird game between Seattle and Detroit - Miller and Hernandez dueled for five innings, with each of them in constant trouble. Detroit scraped out 2 and Seattle 0, in spite of both teams having at least 6 men in scoring position, often with less than two outs.

The truly weird part was the one inning where the M's scored, maybe the sixth. The bases were loaded for Adrian Beltre, who hit a soft single into right, which Magglio threw to the plate to try to nail the man scoring from second. The throw was late, and the runner got in easily. Whoever was catching (not Pudge; he got tossed earlier after making contact with the ump during an argument) threw to second, where Guillen attempted to tag Beltre sliding into the base but missed. The umpire called Beltre safe, but he slid past the bag. Guillen chased him but couldn't apply the tag, although he was quite close. Rather than pursuing Beltre and catching him in a rundown, Guillen decided to appeal to the ump and pretend he'd made the tag. The ump wasn't buying it, so the inning resumed with Beltre at third. But then, in a call that thereafter went unexplained, Guillen tagged Beltre while standing on third base, and the ump called him out for not having touched second on the previous play - this in spite of the fact that the ump had originally called him safe! After that inning, no more runs scored, and J.J. Putz struck out none other than Magglio to end the game.

I was very pleased with the outcome because I'm starting to suspect that the Mariners will fade a bit in the second half, whereas the Tigers (frighteningly) could improve substantially with the return of some of their injured dudes. Offensively, the Mariners have been pretty lucky. It's really not cool to depend on Richie Sexson for anything; they've got some quality bats but down the stretch no one other than Ichiro will be *that* worrisome to opposing pitchers. Meanwhile, Putz and Hernandez are pretty green to be shouldering such an enormous burden. It's reasonable to expect that their numbers will fall to earth in the second half, even if they remain generally dependable. I also do not think that Jarrod Washburn is any longer capable of contributing 200 innings. His effectiveness and inning-eating ability will probably decline, as it basically has during the season anyway, and as it did last year. To make a long story short, if the M's can forestall their likely fall from contention for a few games, just long enough to sweep the Tigers while everyone is still feeling good, that would be sweet.

What's Haf of $57 million?

So I listened to that Baseball Today thing. The consensus seems to be that the Central belongs to Detroit, and that the Wild Thing is Cleveland's to preserve. I'm not nearly ready to concede this point, but I will say that the first ten games after the break will be extremely important for the top half of the AL, and should serve to sort a lot of things out. The Yankees' entire season quite clearly rests on those games. If they remain 10-12 games out of the wild card after 100 games, it's over. They're simply not going to play 10 games better than anyone over the course of the last 60 games. The same goes for the A's and Twins, though their records are a little better so they have a little more leeway. My instinct tells me that not much will change between Cleveland and Detroit in those ten games. Cleveland has a much easier schedule, so it's likely that they'll even take back the lead for the time being. The Tribe has Kansas City and Chicago at home, followed by Texas on the road, while the Tigers see Seattle and Minnesota on the road before facing KC at home for three. Both the Mariners and Twins will be aggressively out to demonstrate their contender status, and I don't see the Tigers faring any better than .500 in those two series. It'd be a great time for Cleveland to slaughter three clubs that already have little to play for, and get the inside track for the rest of the year. We'll see.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

welcome to the buffet

Channing Frye on what he’ll bring to the Blazers: “A little personality, a little leadership, a little shooting, a little defense – I’m a buffet of goodness.”


summer league is awesome!! you can watch online, but having had league pass last year gives us the games on nba tv... i am getting REALLY serious about rodney stuckey. wow, the pistons really "stole" him at 15th. the guy looks better than almost anyone on the pistons. i'm serious. he could make chauncey billups into a 3-point shooting 2-guard, because stuckey can drive to the rim like dwayne wade. like, it doesn't matter how you guard him, he's getting to the rim and that's it. chauncey just doesn't even have that anymore. i know that summer league is about as informative as a horoscope, but stuckey looks like a real nba player. against mike conley, the #4 pick, he looked like the only real player on the floor. and afflalo looks horrible shooting the ball but apparently has a real passion for defense, so he will replace lindsay hunter as the lock-down guy off of the bench. also, let me just say, BELLI-NELLI!!!!!!!!!!! listen to this amazing german annoucer sing the praises of up-tempo basketball and....????


a really edgy comment from carlos guillen after the tigers SWEPT the red sox (admittedly the back of their rotation plus daiSUCK-e): "We are the two best teams, maybe with Anaheim" . . . whoah -- that is some hard-dogging of the tribe. i wouldn't have gone there, but that's that, i guess.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Way to go Dan! Too bad it lacked the self promotion of a true sports blogger ("if you come to you will see these and similar opinions").

Me - I am just excited for Ryno managing the cubbies in 2009. I feel like I am 10 years old again.

Why do baseball players need so bad for their managers to argue all of the time? Apparently, sometimes managers go out and use a lot of positive "f" works (that was a FANTASTIC call) in a really angry way just to get their players feeling like someone is arguing for them.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

"Baseball Today" Podcast

Does anybody listen to ESPN's daily baseball podcast, "Baseball Today"? If you don't, you should. It's a great source for daily news, gossip, and interesting guests.

You should also listen because today, July 5th, an e-mail of mine was read by host Peter Pascarelli. Check it out and hear him answer a couple of my questions. It can be found at Click on Podcenter along the top banner. It will probably be up on iTunes today or Friday as well.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Are the Yankees uninspired or just overmatched? Today they wilted before arguably the best 1-2-3 punch in the AL - Santana, Neshek, and Nathan. It was tough to tell whether they were more immobilized by the pitching or their own apathy. I guess they've gotten by over the past five or so seasons with a good but not great staff and an outstanding lineup, and this year is no different, except they're losing. A couple years ago this game might have gone differently - Mussina and Santana would have battled to a 2-2 tie through 7, at which point Tom Gordon would have pitched a lights-out 8th and then in the bottom half they would have figured out a way to score.

More and more I feel like it's everyone else making the Yankees look bad. The pitching they faced today is pretty common in the AL right now. Look at A-Rod lighting up Joe Kennedy last week, and then going 0-for-19 in his last five games against Gaudin, Haren, Bonser, Silva, and Santana. Three out of five of those guys have ERAs under 3.00, and neither team is in contention right now. It only gets worse against the 45+ win teams.

It's pretty clear, actually, that A-Rod's sparkling numbers have come almost entirely from beating the shit out of bad NL staffs and the dredges of the AL, including Chicago and Texas. Of course everyone gets the same opportunities and everyone looks better against bad teams, but the vaunted Yankee offense is thus far consistently stagnant against the top AL teams. This is a new situation; I feel like the model on which their team is built has become obsolete.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

"I'm 57 years old"

That's a very odd and unconvincing reason to give for quitting your managerial gig with a winning team in the middle of the season. Will it come out that Hargrove was taking performance-enhancing manageroids?

Hot NL West action

Peavy (7IP, 5H, 1R, 6Ks) and Penny (7IP, 5H, 1R, 7Ks) had strangely identical games last night in LA, which was fitting since they're having strangely identical years. Some points of comparison:

Peavy 112.0
Penny 112.2

Peavy 2.09
Penny 2.00

Peavy 9-2
Penny 10-1

Walks allowed
Peavy 31
Penny 30

HRs allowed
Peavy 2
Penny 2

The game proper was no disappointment. In a savvy at-bat, Nomar hit a dinger off Peavy (who had something like an 80 inning streak going without surrendering one) for the Dodgers' only run, while Josh Bard's ground rule double scored Mike Cameron early on. In a way, this game was a PERFECT TEST CASE for the difference between the two rivals. On the mound were two pitchers who, while stylistically different, get pretty much the exact same results and provided them with uncanny precision on the night. Peavy and Penny were a CONTROL GROUP. The VARIABLE was the bullpen, maybe also the management. Poor Grady Little appeared to make the wrong pitching move by bringing in Saito in the tenth, and then banking on the meat of his lineup to deliver in the bottom half of the inning. The decision to bring in Brett Tomko in the 12th is also baffling, and not just in retrospect, since Tomko is both a starter and ineffective. It took no time for the Padres to get to him, and they were even able to tack on an insurance run. Then Black was able to capitalize on having held off on Hoffman. In a way Little had no choice, since Seanez has been overworked and Billingsley is starting today, but the game made the Padres' pen appear a bit deeper than the Dodgers'. Too bad Peavy and Penny couldn't duel to a decision, still a great game.

Friday, June 29, 2007

the (new) man in black

With the 18th pick in the 2007 NBA Draft, the Golden State Warriors select....Bizarro Greg Ferguson:

And, maybe the next thing for the warriors is monta ellis/andris biedrins/brandan wright/adonal foyle for kevin garnett. Or, since I'd like to see biedrins and wright together in the frontcourt, maybe they're just hoping to turn monta and wright for YI. And eddy curry and zach randolph is a brutal front line. It's actually like an nfl defensive line. but crazy!


I really like the Cavaliers' haul. In Andre Miller we get a stable point guard who can stick around for years and really act as the captain of the ship, while "Alaskan Assasin" Trajan Langdon rounds out our backcourt.

We passed on some intriguing guys, like Shawn Marion, Jason Terry, Ron Artest, Cory Maggette, and Andre Kirilenko, but I'm confident the Cavs' brass made the right choices.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

2007 Draft

It's been a fun evening watching the draft - so nice to be back in NBA world, if only for a few hours! The Warriors' second pick is up now, the clock has just expired. The Warriors just traded JRich to the Bobcats for Brandan Wright, their #8 pick, and something else, some sort of consideration. And, for their #18 pick, they chose Marco Belinelli from Italy, and #36 is Jermareo Davidson from Alabama. Hmm - now Stephen Lasme from Massachusetts, that's their #46 pick. This is all so bizarre! The big pieces fell where expected of course but I think it's a fascinating time for the current power teams and spotlight teams (what do the Suns do now? the Warriors?). Apparently Mully and Mike D'Antoni are going to be talking on ESPN in a few minutes. WHOA! Huge trade between the Sonics and the Celtics! Big Baby, my all-time favorite college player, plus Ray Allen, for Wally Szerbiak and Delonte West and something else.

Here's Mullin. I am shocked that JRich was traded, of all players. So steady and loyal. HA!! One ESPN guy just said he thought the trade was "disgusting" - highway robbery on the part of the Warriors. Saying JRich is not a franchise player, that he's got 48 million guaranteed, that it's stupid for the Bobcats. I can see that. It's like trading the future for something more subdued and solid. I am heartbroken. I thought JRich would be the last to go. There were rumors that Monta's days were numbered because of commitment/attitude problems which I don't buy, and you can easily see SJax or Baby Al or even Biedrins (not to mention Foyle, Matt Barnes who may have priced himself out of Golden State, etc.).

Anyway, the minutiae of the Warriors probably does not have broad appeal - when I talk fervently about the Warriors and the Knicks I feel like a mother obsessing about how special and interesting her totally normal and boring child is. Anyway, hooray for the draft. I can't wait for next season, even though I will be watching it at four in the morning in Stockholm on the computer via League Pass.


A test of Dan's earlier hypothesis. This is sort of based on where the NBA teams were at the middle of the season.

-Red Sox - Spurs (Cruising through the regular season, veteran team, recent championship, high expectations, some concern about age)
-Angels - Jazz (A relatively new threat, but legitimate contenders nevertheless)
-Indians - Rockets (For sure. A team that everyone knew was good, that had solid talent and good pitching/defense but was coming off of an uncharacteristically bad season, and would probably be resurgent.)
-Tigers - Suns (offensive-minded, frontrunnerish after recent playoff successes)
-Mariners - Warriors (A different brand of ball, hard to read)
-Yankees - Lakers (Epic team with epic holes)
-Blue Jays - Nuggets (Perhaps a slight stretch, but big-name acquisitions over the last couple years have only sort of put them in contention, due to injuries, strong competition, and a failure to gel)

The remainder is the Mavs. I don't quite know who to compare them to. I suppose an equally valid case could be made that Red Sox=Mavs, but I have no idea what you would do with the Spurs in that case. QED: the West = the AL + one more championship-caliber club. That role was supposed to be filled by the White Sox or Twins this year, or perhaps the Yankees, in which case CHI or MIN might have been the Lakers.

The NL landscape is much like the East in that you despair in even thinking about it. The Mets would clearly be the Pistons. Anybody except the Giants from the West would be the Raptors, Bulls and, I don't know, Sixers? The Cavs would be someone depressing like Houston, or the Cardinals if they hadn't accidentally won the World Series.


Some bets on the table:

1) The Phillies will win the NL East (4:1)

2) The Cubs will win the NL Central (7:1)

3) The Cubs will make the NLCS (12:1)

4) The Cubs will make the World Series (22:1)

5) C.C. Sabathia will start the all-star game (12:1)

6) Josh Beckett (10:1)

7) Justin Verlander (3:1)

8) Dan Haren (3:1)

9) Johan Santana (20:1)

10) OTHER (30:1)

11) The Yankees will make the playoffs (12:1)

12) The team with the best record in the NL will win less than 92 games (3:1)

13) The Chicago White Sox will hit less than ten triples all year (even)

14) The Sox will finish the year as the most offensively futile team in the majors, in terms of runs (3:1)

15) The Nats (3:1)

16) The Royals will win five games in a row at some point this year (even)

17) Seven in a row (6:1)

18) Julio Lugo will reach 500 ABs with an average under .200 (10:1)

19) Andruw Jones (15:1)

20) The Dodgers will produce two 20-game winners (4:1)

21) The Angels (6:1)

22) The Tigers (9:1)

23) The Brewers (13:1)

24) The Indians (15:1)

25) St. Louis will produce two 20-game losers (20:1)

26) Cincinnati (25:1)

27) Matt Cain will lose 20 with an ERA under 3.50 (15:1)

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Shoppach Girl

Great ballgame, potential turning point for both teams. I'm sorry to see the A's hitting the skids lately, as they are a very good club with a solid staff and fun to watch. They clearly came into this series determined to atone for being swept in their last series, but the Indians were equally playing with a fire, possibly even moreso, having relinquished the division lead. I feel that it was crucial to have a come from behind win at this point. They had a bunch early in the year, but that '95ish spirit waned a bit in June. The A's will really have to battle to make the playoffs, with two teams in the central that will win 90-100 games, one of whom will account for the wild card unless Oakland can have a stellar second half.

As added bonuses, the middle of the lineup looked like the force that it is, even against Haren, whose first mediocre start of the year (6.2 IP, 3 ER, 8 H) may have pushed him out of the frontrunner position for starting the all-star game, especially after Sabathia's brilliant complete game win the night before (9IP, 2ER, 9 H). He could still get the call I guess, but probably not. Jim Leyland, while clearly not a nice man, surely wields enough Greatest Generation righteousness that he wouldn't snub C.C. on the basis of a division rivalry.

Speaking of the Tigers, Magglio couldn't muster the heroics of Hafner or Shoppach, and D-town lost an embarrasing second straight to the Rangers, who - fact - deliberately employ Kevin Millwood as a baseball player, for $8 million a season no less. Credit the loss to your prick uncle with the mustache who doesn't hate gay people as long as they don't play baseball.

So we're tied again, and the race continues to already feel exciting.

Monday, June 25, 2007

The Sounds of Summer

I appreciate Ben for steering this blog toward baseball. It has indeed been an exciting year. There is so much to ponder. Here are some of my thoughts and questions.

  • Is there anything more fun than seeing the Yankees lose five of six to Colorado and San Fransisco? Not for me there isn't!
  • I now feel totally validated for bashing the Twins and White Sox in spring training. At the time, some people looked at me like I was crazy for insisting the Central was a two-team race. This is finally the year the Twins won't make a crazy second-half push.
  • Do the Tigers really need to trade for a first baseman? SI's John Heyman suggests Detroit part ways with Sean Casey. I really don't think they need to add a bat. Or maybe I just don't want them to.
  • Speaking of Detroit, how good does the nucleus of Bonderman, Verlander, and Andrew Miller look? Maybe the best in baseball.
  • Are the Red Sox the equivalent of the Dallas Mavericks? Cruise through the regular season only to flop in the postseason?
  • Are Tigers fans worried about Todd Jones? Are Indians fans worried about Joe Borowski? Who needs Eric Gagne more?
  • Should the Indians be active players prior to the trade deadline? What do they need and who could they get?
  • It's incredible how closely the NBA's East/West talent disparity resembles MLB's AL/NL disparity.
Please discuss.

[Cricket sounds]

The blog has gone understandably quiet in the past few weeks. Being a blasketblog, after all.

But I would like to reremind everyone that it is equally a blaseball blog, in spite of the name, and that there is a rather excellent baseball season happening. There are three legitimate pennant races taking a nascent shape, and though two of these are disappointingly in the NL, the good news is that none of them involves the AL East! The AL Central promises to be very exciting, while the NL West will showcase some of that circuit's best up-and-coming talent. The NL East appears to be a question of who fails least, but what can you do?

Meanwhile, the pitching scene is magnificent. No less than ten starters maintain ERAs under 3.00, a rarity in recent years, and the names on there suggest perhaps a new era of aces. No Carpenter, no Martinez, and Oswalt backsliding a ways... but Haren, Young, Penny, Peavy, Escobar, Verlander, Sabathia, Beckett and many others have picked up the slack ... if they can manage not to burn out in the second half, this year's playoffs could feature some low-scoring gems.

Also, I realize it was just recently interleague time, always a dark episode for the fans. I suppose it wouldn't be a baseball season without the Indians and the Nationals enacting their storied rivalry, Kansas City taking out their anger on Milwaukee for leaving the AL in a huff, or Houston whalloping Texas in a matchup that surely every Lone Star stater watched with desperate anxiety. Actually - and I mean this - I would rather the Indians had played six extra games against the Orioles and Mariners each than wasting precious games on Atlanta, Washington, and the idiot Phillies who I have utterly failed to gather the will to root for.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

My AL All-Star team

I don't actually know how many players make the all-star team, so this is sort of made up. Also, it's weird that Ortiz is on the ballot for first base and Youkilis isn't and things like that. I made a good faith but totally half-assed effort to represent every team. The Royals, Rays, and Mariners are there so I'm probably OK.

It really fills me with pride to look at the stats for AL starters this year. Peeps is having some special seasons.

Catcher: Victor
Backup: Posada
1B: Ortiz
Backup: Texeira
2B: Brian Roberts
Backup: Placido Polanco
SS: Jeter
Backup: Guillen
3B: ARod
Backup: Lowell
RF: Ordonez
Backup: Vlad
CF: Ichiro
Backup: Hunter (close call)
LF: Manny
Backup: Carl Crawford

Others: Casey Kotchman, Johjima, Orlando Cabrera, Reggie Willits, Grady, Mark Teahen, Youkilis, Sheffield

Starting pitcher: Dan Haren
Others in order: Justin Verlander, Josh Beckett, C.C. Sabathia, John Lackey, Johan Santana, Fausto Carmona, Roy Halladay

Relievers: Putz, K-Rod, Papelbon, Nathan, Betancourt

Thursday, June 14, 2007

"he fouled me. right. there."

well, this theory has now been summarized elsewhere (truehoop), but yesterday morning at zingerman's, phoebe and i realized what was (probably) happening during the no-call at the end of game 3. think about what you heard on tv -- the commentators are saying, "well, the spurs have to foul here, and they have to foul before the shot. that will end the game if LBJ goes to the line to shoot 2 free throws." so the refs gather together during the timeout and say, ok, if a non-shooting foul is marginal, let's not blow the whistle unless we really have to. let's let the players decide the game and not give san antonio the benefit of the doubt unless the foul really disrupts play significantly. so, what happens? bowen grabs lebron's arm and doesn't let go. i've seen this a lot in sort of weird situations -- the team that is trying to intentionally foul often has trouble getting a whistle the first time. sometimes it's to stop the clock, and it's like the refs are saying, "ok, you can foul to stop the clock, but we're not going to help you out -- you have to really commit a foul before we're willing to reward that strategy." when you watch the replay of bowen grabbing LBJ, you can see that it's a foul, and you can see lebron beautifully create a shot that is 100% in continuation. but, in real time, if you're watching bowen grab the arm, you actually have no idea that lebron is going to be able to make that continuation in a convincing fashion. if you blow the whistle when you see the grab (even though that is the accurate call), in your mind, you have to suspect that it is a call that will benefit the spurs. once LBJ is fully separated from bowen and going into his shooting form, you can't really blow the late whistle while he is completely untouched. i really think the ref was trying to give lebron the benefit of the doubt, and protect his chance to get a shot off. unfortunately, lebron took the bowen-bait and put up that shot from so far away, thinking the call was guaranteed. i'm sure next time he'll let bowen grab him around the waist and then drag him all the way to the 3-point line where he will hoist a shot from a reasonable distance. and, if the refs are following the same policy, there will be no call unless the contact persists into the beginning of the shooting motion. we are two weeks away from the nba draft. basically, i am just waiting to buy league pass and start watching every trailblazers, warriors, knicks and pistons game starting november 1st. until then, i will scrap by on trade rumors, rare tigers appearances on national tv, and the possibility of attending weird warriors promotions like meeting monta ellis at a cell phone store in milpitas. oh yeah, and the new r. kelly album. damn, 28's!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


i only watched the 4th quarter of game 3, but i was majorly impressed with eric snow. he made some incredible non-scoring plays. damon jones also had a highly impressive baseline drive that led to a high-degree-of-difficulty assist to lebron. basically, everybody except varejao was on the same page -- find some remarkable way to get the ball BACK to lebron. and pavlovic did his job keeping them in the game as well. and, of course, i'm not the first one to say this, but, the main reason that foul HAS to be called is not so much that it altered the shot -- it's that it altered *what* shot lebron took. because he was being intentionally fouled, it's a no-brainer. shoot while you still feel the grip on your arm - you either get a 4-point play or a chance to tie. if lebron wasn't 100% sure to get the whistle, he knows he still has 4 seconds and there is no one between him and the 3-point line.
he could even have put the ball up from 5 feet closer, even while falling to his left -- his most high percentage 3-point form! still, i thought that ball was going in, like the 42 footer against the pistons in the regular season that was waived off.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Letter from Bali


I am delighted to receive this great news at an internet cafe at 9:30pm. The city of Bali, by the way, is totally Cavs town, with infinitely more Cavs than Spurs fans at the present moment, by a margin of one to zero.

Not having seen one second of this series, I nevertheless feel pretty confident in envisioning how it went, with the exception of game 5 which eludes me. I have never seen Lebron decisively take over a key game, including making the winning shot, let alone dominate with extreme prejudice as he apparently did. It goes without saying that that performance and that win were the difference.

I am not hugely surprised by this outcome, and I think it will be a very good thing for the franchise, in spite of the fact that they will lose the finals in 5 and Lebron might even look kind of bad. It was necessary for the club to progress to contender status before Lebron's contract year loomed. Now, even if the Cavs don't make the finals again next year, they will nevertheless be considered a perennial threat because of Lebron alone, which may be enough to convince him that Cleveland is worth resigning with. Honestly, I think he's far from his peak seasons, and whatever magic we're seeing this year will pale in comparison to what we might see in four or five years if the front office can lock down their star and build a decent supporting cast at a reasonable pace. That will mean, fortunately, dropping Hughes as soon as possible, and unfortunately, watching Z fade. Potentially, Gibson and Pavlovic could develop into potent weapons. Maybe one of these years we can even sign a point guard.

Speaking in the long term like this, and my apologies for not being just purely enthusiastic about the present situation, which is admittedly really cool, makes me feel like it will be for the best for the Cavs to lose this series. I would hate for them to feel like they were a championship caliber team just because they win a championship. It just isn't true. They were perhaps the sixth or seventh best team in the NBA, they had an INCREDIBLY lucky playoff schedule, and they have a superstar who fortunately can turn it on for a few games at a time when necessary. For Lebron to be the once-in-a-generation player that has been forecasted since he was 11 years old, he'll have to face better competition in future playoffs, at least to convince me. Kudos to him for showing in this series that he may have it in him.

I will root for the Cavs unabashedly in these finals because I love them. But I will not cry a tear if and when they lose.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

gambling away the pain

standing bet, for any cavs fan:

$100 on the pistons having a better record than the cavs next year AND defeating them in the playoffs if we're head-to-head again. the bet is dependent on satisfying both conditions, no matter what happens in the off-season for either team. i will take this bet independently with all three of you. i would also wager ANY amount that the spurs will win this year, but i don't imagine any of you would actually take that bet.

detroit: you just lost a game in which lebron made 2 field goals (his 3rd came in the meaningless minutes at the end). you allowed daniel gibson to score 80% of his points on unguarded shots. you are not as cool as the warriors. FUCK ALL YALL.


In the moments after his winning layup carved through the heart of the matador Pistons defense, James described just how emotionally and physically depleted he was.
"During the course of the game, you're all the way here," James said, raising his arm above his 6-foot-8-inch frame in a quiet moment in a hallway of the Palace.
"It seems like when the buzzer ends, you ever see the Demon Drop? The roller coaster? You're all the way up here during the game, as soon as the buzzer sounds, it's just woooh," he said, dropping his arm to his waist and shaking his head. "Nothing left."
The Demon Drop, a ride at Cedar Point amusement park in Sandusky, Ohio, takes riders up 10 stories and drops them in a simulated free fall.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007


alright, well, halftime of pistons-cavs game 4. if the cavs win tonight, there will presumably be a lot of blogging about the rest of the series. but first, do any cleveland fans hold any rational insight into the travesty that is the back of drew gooden's head? it looks like an on/off switch. or maybe he just grows it to keep his head band from slipping off of his bald head? someone explain the astroturf ponytail patch. it hurts me.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

State of the Playoffs

The Jazz look out of their element. I think it's funny that the Spurs have somehow become villains this year, but the way they are gleefully shredding whatever the Jazz throw at them kind of supports that idea. I mean, they should be happy to be playing on a quality basketball team, but players such as Parker and Ginobili seem to be openly derisive of the competition. I find it kind of offensive to deliver a pass between a defender's legs unless said defender is a Washington General. I'm going to go ahead and call a sweep (probably to be proven wrong tonight, all my sports predictions of late have been horrible, whatever) but I attribute it more to Carlos Boozer's continued karmic punishment for dicking over Gordon Gund rather than a superior opponent.

What would the Cavs look like right now if Jim Paxon wasn't a complete idiot? I really despise being a Cleveland sports fan sometimes. All the times.

Anyhow, our Chevaliers. I'm not going to be a naysayer. Yet. Should we have won Game 2? Yes. Because of a non-call on a heavy contact play, that I can't bring myself to outright call a foul? (Unless it had been Dwayne Wade driving the lane. He's a prince among men! Did he set up a scholarship fund for the children of referees?) No. Because they were up 12 at the half! I won't go into it yet again, even though I love to bring it up, but when the Mike Brown era is over I believe my "told you so" will be implied at this point. Not that the hole Paxon dug prevents any kind of reasonable development for the remainder of LeBron's contract...I'm digressing.

Ok, I was supposed to be talking about why the Cavs are not yet done for. Because last year in the same position we ran off three straight W's, and I'm weirdly confident that if we manage that feat again we will succeed in closing out wily Detroit. I think this will be a series yet. Tomorrow's game I predict Cavs 91, Pistons 84. Oh, and if we were to make the Finals obviously the Cavs would top the Spurs, we went 2-0 against them this season! We've definitely have their number. Ahem.

As for the Tribe, another solid performance from Paul "Frasier" Byrd last night. (Dan, I'm now going to say it would be foolish to trade the Cobra) With CC on the mound today I'd call a sweep, if the Tigers weren't sending out Mike Maroth on Sunday, seemingly the biggest Indians killer since late 90's Garciaparra. Can my boy Fausto "Miles from Ordinary" Carmona break the trend? I think these next 10 days will prove how far this team has come. I'm already planning my late-October visit to Ohio...

Friday, May 25, 2007

2nd half adjustment statistics

An interesting stat from the game last night was that in the past four games, the Cavs were outscored by an average of 10 points in the third quarter. WOW!

This is completely in line with something that Dan was saying earlier in the week:
"Mike Brown's inability to make halftime adjusts is legendary in these parts and it could very well be the team's downfall."

I wanted to come with a statistic which I think captures that inability to make 2nd half adjustments. The logic is as follows, which I think follows some of the logic JDanziger proposed after my up-at-half analysis earlier:

(1) A good 2nd half adjustment is marked by a shift in the score in the second half. If you are losing at halftime, and you make a good 2nd half adjustment then you should be more likely to win the game then if you did not make a 2nd half adjustment.

(2) Therefore, if you are GOOD at making 2nd half adjustments, then the proportion of games you win when you are down at half should be closer to the proportion of games that you win when you are up at the half (proportional, because it is feasible that a team could make good 2nd half adjustments, but win very few games overall). There is a confound with teams that just blow leads - which I will address below.

If you didn't follow my logic above, these are the teams who FAIL TO MAKE 2ND HALF CORRECTIONS WHEN THEY ARE LOSING.

(2) SUNS
(4) CAVS

Something seems right about these teams - esp. KNICKS, SUNS and CAVS. This seems to support Dan's point, the CAVS are 40-9 when winning at the half, 10-23 (or ~30%) otherwise. However, it is not the worst company to be in.

Top 8 teams for whom it matters least if they are up at the half;
I am saying these are the teams who, when they are losing adjust and come back to win or teams who BLOW LEADS. In brackets is the winning % when up at the half. Teams with a LOW % probably blow leads (think about it - the CELTICS LOSE AS MANY GAMES THEY LEAD AT HALF TIME AS THEY WIN).

(1) MAVS (91%)
(2) T-WOLVES (55%)
(3) BUCKS (51%)
(4) CELTICS (50%)
(5) NUGGETS (68%)
(6) JAZZ (74%)
(7) PACERS (63%)
(8) NETS (65%)

I am tossing the T-Wolves, Bucks and Celts whose winning % on these games is significantly below the league average, leaving my FINAL FIVE GOOD ADJUSTERS


This resolves some of my questions on whether the MAVS or SUNS were a better team this year. The SUNS were up at HALF 8 more times than the MAVS and their records were virtually indistiguishable. But the MAVS managed to win 2/3 of the games that they were losing at half, while the SUNS only won 1/3 of the games. That is awesome (They are the only team who wins the majority of the games they are losing at half - the next best team is the JAZZ who win 2/5). Their winning % when they WERE LOSING AT HALFTIME was better than ALL BUT THREE TEAMS IN THE LEAGUE OVERALL WINNING %.

The SPURS were up at HALF more than any other team in the league, with a shocking 68 games (7 more than the suns, 15 more than the jazz and mavs who were tied). However, when they were losing at the half - the only won 4/14 games. BAD AND BORING!

The PISTONS to finish up the remaining playoff teams are pretty middling. They do well when they at winning - they don't do horribly when they are not - but I was expecting that defensive tenacity to reflect more than it does in this statistic.

Also - I agree with Oh my. I didn't see anything that was an obvious foul.

Lucky Chances

So I did not get to watch Game 2.
But I have watched a lot of replays.
There is on-and-off contact on the drive,
and the shot seems to be released awkwardly,
but I'm not seeing a huge foul on the actual shot.

And here's some things I saw today:

" Here's my question for Cavs fans: down by one in the final minute of an away game in a hostile arena, would you rather have (A) LeBron shooting two free throws, or (B) three players take shots within 10 feet? "

" When he stood up from the podium after his sit-down with the media, Rasheed Wallace asked the media if anyone knew what the lottery jackpot currently was worth. What numbers might he play? Why 7-9-7-6, of course. He walked off saying, "I'm definitely playing that tonight. "

Also -- Chris Sheridan on espn today is way out of control. That guy is still apparently still mad at SHEED for throwing a can of orange soda at him. Who would bother to write that it was "orange" soda? That's excessive. Plus, he mentions that rip "cackles" twice, as if that proves that there was a foul.

He's going to have a big game in game 3 or game 4.
They're calling him the Witness Protection Program
for shutting down Jesus, I mean, He Who Is Witnessed.

An Egregious Error

I don't have much to say about last night's bitter defeat. It speaks for itself. To leave Detroit without a split is beyond disappointing. Much will be made about the non-call on LeBron's final drive and the team's subsequent silence in the locker room afterwards. Ignore it all. You only need to read ESPN's Chris Sheridan, who put it perfectly:

"The Cavs had a right to be angry, and I felt Brown had an obligation to at least show a little emotion. If he wanted to go ballistic and spend $50,000 getting it off his chest, that would have been acceptable, too. I just didn't like the whole specter of the Cavs slinking off into the night looking like they were almost afraid to stand up for themselves. They got robbed, and either their coach or their superstar should have found a way to say so."

After that non-call and Mike Brown's quiet acceptance, there is no way to not feel like Cleveland is a second-rate sports town undeserving of a voice or a fair shake. At least that's the way it plays in my opinion.


More than other people who play in the NBA.

This game seems like it was played to answer Dan's last post. Same exact situation as last game (lead at half, third quarter flop, even down 79-76 with seconds on the clock) AND as if listening to ALL OF THE CRITIQUES, LEBRON SHOT IT. And missed. And sportswriters may WANT TO WRITE ABOUT HOW HE SHOULD HAVE PASSED. But they can't, because they can't have it both ways. So instead they have to write about how the CAVS blew it again, and how the "grizzled" (which, by the way, I don't really understand as an adjective) Pistons can reveal weaknesses which we never would have seen in this team.

Unless you watched the regular season games.
Or half of the NETS series for that matter.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Typical Cavaliers

I've decided to boycott sports talk shows and television today because I can't stand to hear another minute about how LeBron passed up a game-tying layup for a game-winning three. Sports pundits, both local and national, who obsess about the final shot are missing the bigger picture. The game was not decided when Dinosaur Marshall bricked another shot, but when the Cavs emerged from the locker room for the third quarter thinking the game over. Mike Brown's inability to make halftime adjusts is legendary in these parts and it could very well be the team's downfall. Only Lloyd Carr is a worse halftime tactician, but that's a different issue. Props to Flippard Saunders and the Pistons for adjusting to the Cavs first half successes. You deserve Game One more than Cleveland. I'm not going to call Game Two a must-win, but it's close.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Everybody Must Go Through Detroit

Have people seen the Nike commerical where old, wise LeBron describes the many NBA greats who had to beat the Pistons to reach the pinnacle? He might as well be talking about Cleveland sports in general. The Cavs have reached the Eastern finals for the first time in 15 years and the energy in NE Ohio for our team is electric. I always judge the magnitude of a sporting event by whether or not I hear individuals I know not to be sports fans talking about said event. In the case of the Cavs/Pistons series, I certainly do.

But back to the rivalry. I'm so happy the Cavs are playing Detroit with a chance to reach the finals. No other opponent is more appropriate. Should Cleveland prevail, we will know the club truly deserves their spot as the Eastern Conference's finals representative. I believe the league and the viewing public at-large are rooting for LeBron and the Cavaliers. The Pistons are a highly respected team and their five consecutive trips to the conference finals are amazing. However, it is time for LeBron to beat Detroit and bring the city some sort of title, if only an Eastern Conference one. For everything James is, a champion he is not yet. The Cavs haven't won a single division, conference, or league title since his anointment as our king. We've lived on his potential long enough. Bring us a banner.

Let me be clear: The Cavaliers aren't better than the Pistons. If basketball ability were the only factor in the series, the Pistons would win handily. But I'm banking on James and the rest of the Cavs to will their way past Detroit and give us something more then next year to talk about. I predict the Cavs will win in seven ugly games. What do you think Pistons fans?

Not only is Detroit in the way for the Cavs, but also the Indians. Somehow the MLB season is almost two months old and the Tigers and Indians have yet to play. That changes this weekend in Detroit. Between Memorial Day weekend and the end of September, the two clubs play sixteen times. Once again, a very talented, balanced Detroit team stands in the way of an up-and-coming Cleveland franchise. I can't wait to see these two teams slug it out for months. And though I think both teams will make the playoffs as a division winner and wild card, they will be playing for playoff seeding and home field advantage. If the Indians have shown anything this season, it's that they desperately need as many games at Jacobs Field as possible.

I only wish the Browns and Lions would both come out of nowhere this season and meet in the Super Bowl. That would be the only true capper to this great budding rivalry between Cleveland and Detroit.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

no NBA basketball on tv today, fellas.

the grim reapers host the jazz tomorrow afternoon,
and i will be looking forward to the utah jazz
being completely obliterated by game 5.

donyell marshall and daniel gibson's great playing
in game 6 somehow only made it more clear
how random and inconsistent LBJ's supporting cast is.
It's kind of like a great pitcher with no run support.
The CAVS are the OAKLAND A's.

here's a random piece of contract trivia.
Jason Richardson made $10,000,000 this year.
Fair enough. Not bad! Next year, he's slated to earn
$11,111,111. Okay. Sure. A little bit silly to throw in that
last 11 bucks, but, uh, whatever. cool. 2009?
Yup. $12,222,222. Wait a minute.
2010? $13,333,333. 2011? $14,444,444.
2012? Thankfully, this ridiculous contract will be OVER.

shoot the moon

Today's Red Sox / Braves doubleheader was interesting -- it seems that by sending Smoltz and Daisuke to the mound in opposite games, and starting a call-up pitcher in the off-game, each manager was saying: "we're going for the split" . . . why not go for broke and try to win both games? if we assume that the offense would have done the same thing against each pitcher in each game, then instead of a 1W/1L split, atlanta would have beat daisuke, 3-0, and in the battle of the AAA-men, would have edged the sox 14-13. this would, at the very least, make for two thrilling games instead of two suck-fests. And remember, you (almost) can't spell Daisuke without "suck" . . . this is the opposite of the question I asked Greg in last year's ALDS -- why not hold Zito for game 2 if you're going to "waste" his start against Santana, when the A's have no chance to win? The outcome of that game proved why you should always go for the sweep.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007


ugh. up by 5 with 52 seconds to go, and no ice can be found for the free throws. warriors down 2-0. just like the jazz down were 2-0 against houston. only, when the jazz were down 2-0 against houston they looked horrible. also, the warriors proved that they don't suffer any kind of emotional problems following games that they GIVE away (see game 6 after a similar ending to game 5 against dallas) . . . take this to oracle arena, even it up, 2-2, and then play game 5 at the fucking energy solutions arena. if the jazz win a single game at oracle i will get a tattoo of gordon giricek. what a fucking loser. we might lose game 7 in utah. but nothing else will end our season. major ugh. also -- you heard it here first - MONTA is ready to contribute in game 3. he proved it tonight by sort of flagellating himself on the bench. the dude is ready for it now.
pietrus, on the other hand. FREE THROW, MY MAN. BARON, YOU TOO.


Reverse the Curse

I fear for Grady Sizemore's life. He adorns this week's cover of Sports Illustrated and we all know his chances of a season-ending injury just skyrocketed. Ben and Ted, please bestow your Sizemore bobbleheads with extra gifts this week to fend off this jinx. I will give my bobblehead more kisses then usual. The fate of the 2007 Indians may rest in the voodoo that we do.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Nets v. Cavs Game 2

Notes from the first half:

I really miss Joe Tait's play-by-play, particularly his description of how a Digiorno pizza can go straight from your oven to your tummy.

The Cavs should be leading by more than 3, they've pretty much outplayed the Nets in nearly every significant category, other than capitalizing on opportunities, ie points from turnovers, which is exactly what is required to beat a team like the Pistons. This is not a new problem unfortunately. I think it's what stands in the way of the Cavaliers becoming a great, rather than good, team.

Sasha Pavlovic is really good at basketball. And a total dreamboat. The more defined his role becomes the better.

Defensively this game is strange, I kind of expect the Nets to get shut down in the sceond half. Carter is 2-11, but NJ is shooting 55%. I seriously doubt Mikki Moore will continue shooting 100% from the field.

LeBron, you need to make your free throws, even if you've just taken a shot to the junk. That's bush league. Oh, halftime's over...

After 3:

The Cavs are lucky right now, Kidd and Jefferson are putting up really solid performances, and Carter is starting to look good in the 2nd half. The foul shooting is awful, no one has been very effective offensively.

LeBron can win this game for us if he just takes over in the 4th, which he obviously could do right now. If he doesn't, it's a toss-up. Z and Gooden are rebounding, but not much else, and Hughes is putting together a classic 3-12 performance. It's all about King James.


Well, they pulled it out. Although the Nets collapsed in the last minutes as much as the Cavs took over. I'd really like to see us take one in NJ, and I think that will require a dominating performance. The Cavs are matching up against the Nets even better than I thought they would, so I'm not too concerned about the series, but I have yet to be instilled with any confidence for the finals. I'm not even talking about winning, I just mean making a series of it.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Andrei Kirilenko predicts...something???

"Golden State will run and we'll play catch the rabbit."

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Dear Cavs:

Fellas, 81 points doesn't cut it. I know you hadn't played since the beginning of the week, but you guys have to score more. I know you won. If you score 81 again on Tuesday night, you'll lose. I guarantee it. Kidd won't turn the ball over as much and Carter will hit more shots. Don't rely on the Nets to make mistakes. Simply score. And do it in bunches. Want some more advice? If LeBron hits you in stride with a beautiful pass, don't let it bounce off you out-of-bounds. And free throws are called free throws because they're easy. So make more of them. Don't allow the Nets to hang around in Game 2. If you win, they have zero momentum going back to New Jersey. Doesn't that sound nice?


A very intriguing series. First, I give the Cavs the edge and expect them to win in 6 or 7.

This is the Cavs' series to take thanks to some fortunate matchups. The Nets are absurdly outmanned in the front court, with Jason Collins and Mikki Moore against Z and Gooden, plus Varejao hanging with Krstic as the big man off the bench. Overall, we have the size edge and the hustle edge. I expect Z to pour in some sweet sky hooks, and I expect Drew and Andy to pound the glass and take away any and all offensive rebounding opportunities the Nets might be thinking about. I want to see Z average 16 points and 10 rebounds; Drew 14 and 12; Varejao 10 and 8.

Lebron can neutralize Jefferson on defense, holding him to 14 points/game or something slightly below his average. I don't care if he has a big offensive series. In fact, this would be an excellent time to average 10 assists a game, with the big men towering above the opposition just waiting for a good feed.

But perhaps the biggest key of all will be the defense of Hughes and Pavlovic. Kidd to Carter will be a nonstop challenge. Can Hughes get in Kidd's face? Can he get a couple of steals per game, and stay with the Nets' best player? Again, Hughes' offense will not be critical. He must play rock solid defense and that's it. Pavlovic has really improved on D this year, and he has an enormous test in front of him guarding Carter. Regardless of what happens, Carter will score a lot. But will he average 32 points on 11 of 16 shooting, or 23 points on 7 of 16? The answer to that question will be the difference in the series.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Basketball is Easy

Ok. Now is as good a time as any to jump in here again. First, let's get a couple things straight about Golden State:

1. It sure is an exciting time for the Warriors right now, but the entire season has actually been fascinating and thrilling.

a. Monta Ellis and Biedrins both had breakout seasons, which is not something that was apparent during the Dallas series (although Monta did get the recognition with the most-improved award). I think it's interesting how little of a presence Monta had during this last series, I think there's a number of reasons why, but it's hard to describe how absolutely nuts he was during the regular season, simply careening to the basket with no regard for who might be in his way and floating to the finish. He also possesses a preternatural calmness and is, at the age of 21, destined to become the league's next Chauncey Billups.

b. Dunleavy and Troy Murphy (and McLeod and Diogu), who were simply deadweights here, were finally unloaded for SJax, Baby Al, the nonentity Josh Powell, and Sarunas, who pretty much doesn't play a minute but is the best cheerleader a team could have. Seriously, watch the Warriors bench during the next series. Sarunus is the one jumping and hopping and clapping and grinning in his warm-up suit the entire time. The Pacers unloaded their problems and got some nice boring white guys in exchange, but we got the better deal. We got tremendous players with tremendous hearts (see my most important point re: SJax below).

c. J-Rich was essentially out the entire season until February, and when he came back Baron was out pretty much for the entire month of February. Playoff pushes bring a sense of elevated purpose and determination, but the 21-5 record starting with the March 5 game against the Pistons, Baron's first game back and their first true game as a whole, uninjured team - that was no fluke. Next season they will be between 4th and 7th in the West, so squeaking in as the 8th seed was exciting but a bit misleading.

2. Stephen Jackson is not a madman. Come on, people! He is passionate, and he has quite a temper (and he knows it). That's about it. The brawl and the gun incident aren't even worth getting into. He is fiercely loyal, he has a hard time controlling his temper, he is so respectful and reverent of Baron (who he always calls "our franchise player") and his teammates, Tim Duncan has called him the best teammate he's ever had, etc. But the idea that he is a loose cannon is silly. Here is a nice article about him.

3. The Warriors aren't just running on emotion, and their style is not helter-skelter. They are tough and scrappy and smart. The fact that they are the Mavs' achilles heel is just funny and certainly does not mean that ultimately they are a better team than the Mavs. It's an interesting situation. It was too bad that they squandered the nine point lead they miraculously managed to get in game 5 after having played terribly the whole game, but it was the Mavs who were on borrowed time with that matchup, not the Warriors. I think that was clear (hello 2005-2006 Pistons). It was sweeter to win at home, anyway. The Warriors are not a well-oiled machine like Dallas or the Pistons, and they use that to their advantage. Don Nelson is really freaking smart. They are a tremendous team and they have such heart, and all of these people like Matt Barnes and Pietrus and SJax are finding their places at last. It's a great story, and they play great basketball. Also, Baron and Avery Johnson's press conferences after game 6 were so eloquent and touching. Seriously, public speaking in the best traditions of oration. In the absurd post-game glow I believe I even invoked Pericles. Things will even themselves out eventually (unless the Warriors careen into the finals!), but the energy and emotion and momentum and masterful fucking basketball - this is what sports fans live for!

Anyway. It's going to be a fun playoffs! After half of this first Pistons/Bulls game it seems safe to say that the Pistons will dominate but the young Bulls will take a game or even two. I feel confident about the next Warriors series, and I pray to God that the Suns will hold off the Spurs because we can run with the Suns!

Two great quotes from the Warriors/Dallas series:

Monta Ellis, on not being nervous before the first game: "Basketball is easy."

Avery Johnson in the press conference after game 6, on why the Warriors won the series: "They just did a good job, of having good offense and good defense."

Friday, May 4, 2007

A Rainy Night in Oakland

That was a tremendous series. I am so relieved that game 5 did not set into motion an unjust collapse. Baron's 1st half injury was so uncalled for, cosmically. BUT THE WARRIORS WIN. They were just a much tougher and better team. Dirk as MVP is really going to be embarassing for the league. MVP's don't shoot only 3 field goal attempts in the 2nd half of an elimination game. The Warriors will roll into the Western Conference Finals -- Houston or Utah will not be difficult, as long as the W's can maintain their mental identity as the underdogs, and can stay healthy. Steve Kerr said on the radio tonight, the Spurs are the only team in the West that are definitely better than the Warriors. Warriors/Suns could be a toss of the dice. Or, at least, like tossing the dice at a craps table, where you're probably going to lose but you feel like it's 50/50 anyway!