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Thursday, June 30, 2005

Draft Recap and MLB Morons

NBA Draft Full of Surprises
T
he NBA Draft came and went this past week, and while in the past it has been a circus full of international and American teens, this years draft actually held fan interest with many big name college players, even some 4 year players. While its a little tough to judge teams that took chances on high school players and international teens, there were some other obivous moves that has some fans scratching their heads and others jumping for joy. There were not really any superstars in the group, but a bunch of solid players nonetheless. Here's a look at some mistakes as well as some great moves made on draft night.

Players Taken Too High
(7) Toronto - Charlie Villanueva: I want to know how a player who only averaged 11 ppg in college and who's attitude is questionable at best managed to crack the top ten. Then again, we are talking about the Raptors here.

(9) New York - Channing Frye: I make no bones that I don't like the Pac 10, but more specifically, I dont Frye. His stock went through the roof during pre-draft workouts, and I can imagine that he looked good playing one-on-none. However, Frye is still soft and doesn't have the body to bang down low in the NBA. Good work as usual Isiah.

(14) Minnesota - Rashad McCants: Again can I get some desire here? Nobody can deny his talent, but it takes more than that at this level, especially if you're expected to take over for Wally. Would he have been taken this high if the Heels (a team on which he was the 4th best player) hadn't won the title?

(21) New York - Nate Robinson: Nate the Great has the speed and the heart, but taking a 5'9" player in the first round? Any team would have been better off taking him in the 2nd round, let alone the Knicks making another draft day mistake.

Best Value Picks
(17) Indiana - Danny Granger: Larry Bird and Donnie Walsh pull off another good move with Granger. A projected top 10 pick, Granger slid halfway through the round despite averaging 19 points 9 rebounds 2 blocks and 2 steals while shooting 43% from 3.

(19) Memphis - Hakim Warrick: Warrick was a 4 year player at Syracuse, and while he may be a "tweener", getting a player with his athleticism with the 19th pick is still a steal. If he improves either his rebounding or dribbling he will be viewed as one ofthe best picks in the entire draft.

(29) Miami - Wayne Simien: Another college standout, Simien can step in and replace Udonis Haslem immediately. Even better, Simien has a superior face up game and plays with a better motor than Haslem.

(41) Toronto - Roko Ukic: I had Roko as the 5th best PG in the draft, and many teams flirted with taking him in the first round. He is ready to play now and will immediately challenge Rafer Alston for the starting job when he arrives north of the border. At least Toronto got one pick right, but still not enough to save their draft.

(50) Boston - Ryan Gomes: Another All-American, Gomes comes in as a rookie being older than half the Celtic roster and will add a little offense for a team that will be losing Pierce in the next season or two.

MLB Nonsense
Rogers Roasted
"He is the dumbest man ever to come out of Polk County" - Peter Gammons
Now I'm not so sure where Polk County even is, but its tought to argue with Peter's depiction of Kenny Rogers. MLB handed down a 20 game suspension to The Gambler after he shoved two photographers, sending one to the hospital. I mean we all knew Rogers was a complete recluse with no social skills (asking not to be photographed while in the clubhouse for one), but this is rediculous. This is just an example of players these days being too caught up in themselves, and not having enough respect for the people that pay their salaries. Does Kenny Rogers think that he could command the same pay if there were no reporters or cameras following these games? Well he will have plenty of time to think about how big an idiot he has been and maybe even change the way he goes about his business in the future.

Gary Sheffield: Team Player
Who says Sheff doesn't have a no trade clause in his contract with the Yankees? Just another example of a rich crybaby. Sheff has said that he will sabotage any team that attempts to trade for him, meaning its going to be even tougher to trade one of only three players on their roster without a no trade clause (Posada, Williams). This goes along with the thougts I have always had on Gary, hes just not a team player. Sure he may seem like one when the team is doing well, but there just has to be a reason that a player with over 400 career HR's has been with 6 teams. Something tells me that its not just the fact that his talent is in that high a demand, but maybe he is just tough to deal with. This can only end in a good way from my point of view. Either he stays in New York and they are forced to further deplete their farm system to make a decent trade, or he does go in a trade and the Yankees suffer from losing his bat in their lineup. Good luck with this one Cashman!

Trivia!
Which city hosted the first ever NCAA Men's Basketball Championship?
A) Detroit, Michigan
B) Springfield, Massachusetts
C) South Bend, Indiana
D) Evanston, Illinois
E) Des Moines, Iowa

answer last week: B) 30

Red Sox Week in Review
Record: 3-3 (45-33)
Best Pitching Performance:
(6/25) Matt Clement vs. Philadelphia: 7 IP 7 H R 4 K
Best Hitting Performance:
(6/26) Mark Bellhorn vs. Philadelphia: 3/4, 2B, HR, 3 RBI, 4 R
Standings: 2 1/2 game lead

*Just a little memo to my friends out there that like to keep their $200 million baseball team's record in their profile. Just because your team is at .500 doesn't mean you just so happen to stop updating their record. I mean you wouldn't take down your Final Four picks if one of your teams got knocked out by Texas Tech in the second round would you? Just puttin' it out there.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Finals Recap, Final Mock Draft, Negotiating News and More

NBA Finals Recap
First off, congrats to the Spurs for winning the NBA title (and of course congrats to me for picking them over the Pistons before the season started). Secondly, let's all jump up an rejoice that this snoozefest of a series is over. I mean wow, two months and countless Larry Brown press conferences later and this thing is finally over. There were a bunch of low scoring games, and with the exception of game 6, none of them were even close. The only good thing that came out of this series you ask? Two things, Tim Duncan has cemented his legacy already with his third title and third Finals MVP. The other is that, well ok the other thing is that this season is finally over. There is hope however, as a new crop of stars has a shot to bring the NBA back to the game that was so popular and exciting as recently as the mid 90's. All we need to do now is hope and pray that Larry Brown doesn't end up in Cleveland, because that could set the league back another generation by slowing down the surge that is Lebron Inc.

Mock Draft III - The Final Prediction
Here is my last stab at predicting the 2005 NBA Draft. One thing to note is that much like ESPN, I think its a forgone colclusion the the Blazers will not select Chris Paul because they have Sebastian Telfair waiting on their bench. However they will more than likely trade the #3 pick, and whoever gets the pick will take Paul, so for now thats where I have him. With that said, here is my final big board!

1. Milwaukee Bucks - Marvin Williams, F UNC
2. Atlanta Hawks - Andrew Bogut, F/C Utah
3. Portland Trailblazers - Chris Paul, G Wake Forest
4. New Orleans Hornets - Deron Williams, G Illinois
5. Charlotte Bobcats - Raymond Felton, G UNC
6. Utah Jazz - Fran Vasquez, F/C Spain
7. Toronto Raptors - Gerald Green, F Texas HS
8. New York Knicks - Channing Frye, F Arizona
9. Golden State Warriors - Danny Granger, F New Mexico
10. LA Lakers - Martell Webster, G Seattle HS
11. Orlando Magic - Ike Diogu, F Arizona St.
12. LA Clippers - Andrew Bynum, F New Jersey HS
13. Charlotte Bobcats - Hakim Warrick, F Syracuse
14. Minnesota Timberwolves - Joey Graham, F Oklahoma St.
15. New Jersey Nets - Antoine Wright, F Texas A&M
16. Toronto Raptors - Charlie Villanueva, F UCONN
17. Indiana Pacers - Johan Petro, C France
18. Boston Celtics - Roko Ukic, G Croatia
19. Memphis Grizzlies - Sean May, F UNC
20. Denver Nuggets - Yaroslav Koralev, F Russia
21. Phoenix Suns - Julius Hodge, F North Carolina St.
22. Denver Nuggets - Jarret Jack, G Georgia Tech
23. Sacramento Kings - Martynas Andriuskevicius, F Lithuania
24. Houston Rockets - Ersan Ilyasova, F Turkey
25. Seattle Sonics - Wayne Simien, F Kansas
26. Detroit Pistons - Ryan Gomes, F Providence
27. Utah Jazz - Rashad McCants, F UNC
28. San Antonio Spurs - Mile Ilic, C Serbia
29. Miami Heat - Francisco Garcia, F Louisville
30. New York Knicks - Andray Blatche, F Conn. HS

Campbell outduels Woods, Johnny Miller Continues to Sound Like an Idiot
Micheal Campbell did a nice job fighting yet another unfair US Open course at Pinehurst #2, and was able to come out with his first major title. Going into the weekend it looked as though a lot of big names had a chance to grab the title, but only Tiger made any sort of charge at the end. However, anytime you can hold off Tiger Woods on the back nine of a major championship, let alone the US Open, you deserve the title and the credit and admiration that comes with it, so congratulations on a job well done.
Now to the more serious issue. Johnny Miller is so jealous of Tiger Woods and it has really gotten out of hand. Every time Tiger makes a shot Miller has a problem with it, and every time he can Miller compliments the course. The course! Last time I checked Johnny, you were supposed to be the next Jack Nicklaus. But wait, you never even came close to living up to that hype. The closest you came was the fact that you had blonde hair and you were chubby. Get over the fact that Tiger is way better than you have ever dreamt of being, and realize that you sound like an idiot criticizing everyone on the course. I'm not saying you can't criticize players, but you can't just criticize them either. Get over yourself and be thankful for the fact you even have a job, considering you are a washed up golfer who never lived up to his hype. I hope its never Miller time again.

NBA Settles Labor Woes, NHL Not Far Behind?
So the NBA settled their collective bargaining agreement and avoided a lockout, which is always nice. Only real new issues are the 19 year old age limit, and the contract length has been shortened a few years to avoid those longer guaranteed deals. I don't really think anyone won, but I also don't think there was much that needed changing. That is to say there weren't any issues to change that could really be changed, such as a 20 or 21 year old age limit. But at least there won't be a work stoppage, so that's good enough for now.
The NHL on the other hand is apparently getting close to a labor agreement. So far, it looks like the major issue, a salary cap, has been settled on. The cap is believed to be between about 22-36 million dollars. There is still a lot of work to do unlike some people seem, but at least there seems to be some sort of agreement, which is nice. I personally could care less about the NHL, but I will keep updating the negotiations until there is a set plan for the 2005-2006 season.

Trivia!
How old was Jim Brown when he retired in 1966?
A) 29
B) 30
C) 28
D) 31
E) 33

answer last week: C) Wilt Chamberlain

Red Sox Week in Review
Record: 5-1 (42-30)
Best Pitching Performance:
(6/19) Matt Clement vs. Pittsburgh: 7 IP 3 H, BB, 9 K
Best Hitting Performance:
(6/21) David Ortiz @ Cleveland 3/4, 2 HR, 3 Runs, 4 RBI
Standings: 1/2 game lead

just a little salt in the wound: Tampa Bay is 8-29 on the road, with 4 of those wins in the Bronx against the Yankees

Thursday, June 16, 2005

US Open, NBA, and Other Stuff You're Dying to Know

Wide Open
Now that the weekend is shaping up, heres who I feel will take charge and march to the US Open title at Pinehurst #2.
The way I see it, this weekend should be a battle of the Big 4, no not Phil and Ernie, but Sergio and Goosen to go along with Woods and Singh. Goosen has the weekend lead with a few others as he looks to become only the fifth player to win 3 US Opens. Sergio is still looking for that marquee victory to put on his resume and is in a good position only 3 back of the leaders. Tiger and Vijay are also looming only a few strokes off the lead, and whenever they are around on the weekend of a major, they are sure to be putting pressure on the leaders, if not taking the lead themselves. I think that the Goose has the mental strength and the steady game to take another Open, but I'm routing for Tiger. While it may be getting tougher and tougher each year for him to even come close to his "Tiger Slam", I'd truly like to see him win the Grand Slam, and this would be the next step. Either way this should be an exciting weekend of action as the greens firm up and the pressure heats up at America's championship.

NBA Finals
- For someone that despises the NBA, I almost do not want the season to end. Mostly due to one name that we are going to hear even more in the offseason (if possible), Larry Brown. Whether he is complaining about the officials, which is classic Larry, or fielding questions about his health or his future job as president? in Cleveland. Yeah, thats right, the future of the NBA is in his hands. The same guy that wouldn't play Lebron in Athens, is supposed to help him "play the right way", and assemble a supporting cast that will help him win a few titles here and there. Well i hope that doesn't happen for Lebron's sake, and I hope Larry stays in Motown, has a few more hip surgeries, and finally walks away from coaching. He has his rings, and tons of people love him, so no better time to call it quits before his leg falls off or he collapses on the court.

- As far as the actual series goes, this is why its good to make several predictions. First, everyone was right in saying that this was going to be a boring series, but not for the reason everyone thought. Going into the series everyone was worried that games would be so focused on defense that the average score would be something like 70-65. However, none of the games have been close, with each team winning two blowouts at home by an average of 21 points. Which team will show up to win this best of 3? I'm still going with the Spurs, but I'm not saying that I am going to watch.

Mock Draft II
Several players improved their stock with workouts in Chicago, private workouts, and Reebok's European workouts. Also, since last week many players have either pulled out of the draft, or indicated that they are leaning towards staying in. With that being said, here is the way I feel the first round will shape up. There wasn't much change at the top, but things are up in the air throughout the rest of the draft.

1. Milwaukee Bucks - Marvin Williams, G/F UNC
2. Atlanta Hawks - Andrew Bogut, F/C Utah
3. Portland Trailblazers - Gerald Green, G/F Texas HS
4. New Orleans Hornets - Chris Paul, G Wake Forest
5. Charlotte Bobcats - Raymond Felton, G UNC
6. Utah Jazz - Fran Vazquez, F Spain
7. Toronto Raptors - Danny Granger, F New Mexico
8. New York Knicks - Channing Frye, F Arizona
9. Golden State Warriors - Hakim Warrick, F Syracuse
10. LA Lakers - Deron Williams, G Illinois
11. Orlando Magic - Martell Webster, G Seattle HS
12. LA Clippers - Antoine Wright, F Texas A&M
13. Charlotte Bobcats - Charlie Villenueva, F UCONN
14. Minnesota Timberwolves - Joey Graham, F Oklahoma St.
15. New Jersey Nets - Ike Diogu, F Arizona St.
16. Toronto Raptors - Johan Petro, C France
17. Indiana Pacers - Rashad McCants, G UNC
18. Boston Celtics - Yaroslav Korolev, F Russia
19. Memphis Grizzlies - Sean May, F UNC
20. Denver Nuggets - Francisco Garcia, F Louisville
21. Phoenix Suns - Chris Taft, F Pittsburgh
22. Denver Nuggets - Roko Ukic, G Croatia
23. Sacramento Kings - Julius Hodge, G/F North Carolina St.
24. Houston Rockets - Randolph Morris, F Kentucky
25. Seattle Sonics - Wayne Simien, F Kansas
26. Detroit Pistons - David Lee, F Florida
27. Utah Jazz - Jarret Jack, G Georgia Tech
28. San Antonio Spurs - Ryan Gomes, F Providence
29. Miami Heat - Andrew Bynum, C New Jersey HS
30. New York Knicks - Andray Blatche, F HS

*moved up
*moved down

Big Ted Machine
I hate Joe Morgan. It's bad enough that he will never be able to accept that any modern day players are any good, except Barry of course, but now he has stopped doing research apparently before doing games. Perfect example is his mid-game interview with Red Sox manager Terry Francona as the Red Sox faced off against the Chicago Cubs this past week:
Joe - "So Terry why is Mirabelli catching when Varitek has been one of your best players this season?"
Terry - (confused)"Well...uh...Mirabelli catches all the games Wakefield pitches."
Joe - "Why is Kevin Millar in the game when David Ortiz has been playing first for all the interleague games?"
Terry - (again confused)"Well David had played all the National League games until now so we wanted to give him a day off, and Kevin is hitting over .400 against Glendon Rusch in his career."

Joe - (after the interview was over) - "Oh I wanted to ask one more question."
John Miller - "What was that?"
Joe - "I wanted to ask him how it was without Pedro."

Dear Joe Morgan - If you are going to announce, at least try to pay attention and not ask the manager dumb questions right in the middle of the 3rd inning!

New Stuff!
Weekly Trivia Question
Who was the first NBA player to win Rookie ofthe Year and MVP awards in the same season?
A) Larry Bird
B) Oscar Robertson
C) Wilt Chamberlain
D) Karim Abdul Jabaar
E) Wes Unseld
*check back next week for the answer

Red Sox Week In Review
Record: 5-1
Best Pitching Performance:
(6/14) David Wells vs Cincinnatti - 7.0 IP 1 H 0 ER 5 K 2 BB
Best Hitting Performance:
Manny Ramirez - HR in 3 straight games 6/12 - 6/14 and raised BA up to .263
Games out of 1st: 2

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Weekly Rant: Gay-Rod, the NBA Draft, and other nonsense

Quack Quack Quack.....
Raise your hand if you are shocked that the poster boy for metrosexual athletes (also known in New England as Gay-Rod) has been undergoing therapy for the past decade? If your hand is up, then stop reading now, if your hand remains down then I respect you enough to allow you to keep reading. Obviously this man is in therapy. The combination of always being the best player on teams that are nowhere near the playoffs (the Yanks are currently 28-29 and yes he was on that Seattle team but by no means its best player) and always having to justify a monster 1/4 billion dollar contract would make anyone insane. But its a chore I, along with most of working class America, would relish. While therapy may be "therapeutic" for Gay-Rod, are we supposed to feel sorry for him or give him a little wiggle room? Not likely. Matter of fact, I think its the last thing any Yankee fan wants to hear right about now. I mean for the love of all things Yankee, the man is married and has children, its not like he has to play this tough/sensitive role in the media to get chicks. This is a team that's past superstars have been boozehounds and playboys, not crybabies that slap at the ball as if to say "oh stop it, get away get away!" Listen Alex, either hit the ball out of the park when it counts, or keep rackin' up MVP numbers on cellar dwelling teams. Whichever you choose, nobody wants to hear about your one on one loser sessions in which you discuss how miserable life can be when you are wiping your ass with $50's and gargling Cristal while your wife yells at one of your various servants to clean one of your various mansions. Next time maybe you should ask your therapist why you only perform well when there is no pressure? Or perhaps you already know the answer to that.

NBA Draft Sound-off
There are few people that admire the skill set of Utah big man Andrew Bogut more than I. Its every coaches dream to have a a 7 footer with soft hands, great vision in the high post, as well as the tenacity to flush home dunks, block shots, and battle for tough rebounds. The fact however is that most big men are vastly overrated in the drafting process, and many end up being busts. For example, here are the names of the past 10 big menthat were chosen first in their respective drafts over the past decade: Dwight Howard (04), Chris Kaman (03), Yao Ming (02), Kwame Brown (01), Chris Mihm (00), Alek Redojevic (99), Michael Olowokandi (98), Tim Duncan (97), Marcus Camby (96) and Joe Smith (95). All of these guys were the first big men taken in their respective drafts, and the only superstars of the bunch are Ming and Duncan. All of these players were taken before pick 14 in the draft, and in a sport where (up until recently) lottery picks come in and contribute right away, the center position has been difficult to gauge as far as NBA potential, resulting in a lot of "busts". By contrast, the backcourt position has a much better transition rate from the college and high school game to the pro level. All of this could mean nothing, but its something to keep an eye on come draft day, and the Milwaukee Bucks, along with many other NBA teams, have to make a decision between drafting a big man that seems to have tons of potential, versus a guard or forward that has already proven his worth, whether it be in high school, college, or overseas. With that being said, here is a look at my first mock draft for 2005:

1. Milwaukee Bucks - Marvin Williams, G/F UNC
2. Atlanta Hawks - Andrew Bogut, C Utah
3. Portland Trailblazers - Gerald Green, G Texas HS
4. New Orleans Hornets - Chris Paul, G Wake Forest
5. Charlotte Bobcats - Raymond Felton, G UNC
6. Utah Jazz - Fran Vasquez, C/F Spain
7. Toronto Raptors - Danny Granger, F New Mexico
8. New York Knicks - Deron Williams, G Illinois
9. Golden State Warriors - Antoine Wright, F Texas A&M
10. LA Lakers - Channing Frye, C Arizona
11. Orlando Magic - Martell Webster, G Washington HS
12. LA Clippers - Hakim Warrick, F Syracuse
13. Charlotte Bobcats - Rashad McCants, G UNC
14. Minnesota Timberwolves - Martynas Andriuskevicius, C/F Lithuania
15. New Jersey Nets - Charlie Villanueva, F UCONN
16. Toronto Raptors - Joey Graham, F Oklahoma St.
17. Indiana Pacers - Sean May, F UNC
18. Boston Celtics - Randolph Morris, C Kentucky
19. Memphis Grizzlies - Sean Banks, F Memphis
20. Denver Nuggets - Ike Diogu, F Arizona St.
21. Phoenix Suns - Andrew Bynum
22. Denver Nuggets - Rudy Fernandez
23. Sacramento Kings - Chris Taft, F Pittsburgh
24. Houston Rockets - Marko Tomas, G Croatia
25. Seattle Sonics - Andray Blatche, C Conneticut HS
26. Detroit Pistons - Julius Hodge, F NC St.
27. Utah Jazz - Roko Ukic, G Croatia
28. San Antonio Spurs - Tiago Splitter, F Brazil
29. Miami Heat - Johan Petro, C France
30. New York Knicks - Jarret Jack, G Georgia Tech

*I will have another mock draft right before the weekend of the actual draft as well so trades and player improvement can be factored in.

- On that note, one interesting trade that is already being waived about is the Celtics sending Paul Pierce to the Blazers for their #3 pick and Nick Van Exel. The trade is esentially a swap of Pierce for the pick, and once the Celtics waive Nick, they will have $10 million in salary cap space to sign free agents either this summer or next. I hope Danny Ainge goes for this, because the while the Celts have a lot of faith in letting Delonte West run the point, wouldn't Boston fans rather see Chris Paul guiding the green? Just a little something to think about.

- Another New England sports story is the fact that 3 time Pro Bowl defensive lineman Richard Seymour was absent from Patriots mini-camp yesterday. The common belief is that Seymour is holding out for more money, since his contract only pays him a total of about $5 million over the last 2 years of the deal. Tom Brady has been the only Patriot to have success at renegotiating a deal with more than one year remaining, and that was because he took a salary structure that saved the team cap space in various seasons, giving them wigle room to sign free agents when necessary. Hopefully Seymour and Pats management can come to a similar agreement. But not telling the team you are going to miss mini-camp makes me think Seymour may very well find himself in the same shoes as former Patriots and Pro Bowlers Ty Law and Lawyher Milloy.

- Finally we will end with an NBA Finals prediction. While the most popular pick has been the Spurs in 6 (which was also my preseason and pre-postseason pick), I am going to have to say its going to be the Spurs in 5. San Antonio brings too much offense to the table and can match the defensive intensity of the Pistons. Also, the Spurs are virtually unbeatable at home, dropping only 4 games all year. And lets hear it for Greg Popovic, who with all this talk about Larry Brown being a genius, is about to cruise to his 3rd NBA title in 7 years.