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.