I said before the NBA playoffs began that it was the Detroit Pistons' to lose. To be honest, I didn't think the Miami Heat would even make it past the Nets, let alone snag homecourt from the defending Eastern Conference champs. Now, Wade, Shaq and company are in the driver's seat, only 1 game from the NBA Finals. Wade has taken this team on his back into the conference finals while fellow stars of the '03 draft like LeBron and Melo have yet to make it out of the 2nd round. Granted Wade may have a better team around him, but the leadership he's shown at this young age has been tremendous. If they can finish off Detroit, you have to give them a good chance against either Phoenix or Dallas in the Finals. And what happened to the vaunted Piston's defense? Letting Wade shoot 70% from the field in game 4 is exactly what's wrong with this team. They've lost their edge, their swagger and their about to be bounced from the conference finals. In the West, Dallas has already done away with the defending champion Spurs and now find themselves 2 games from the Finals as well. If they manage to make the Finals, you have to consider them the favorite, even if the Pistons come back to win. They've already proven they can hang with teams in the halfcourt (Spurs), and now are proving they can run up and down with the Suns. If they keep this up, Mark Cuban may never have to work at Dairy Queen again.
Who's The Manica?
Is Danica Patrick the real deal? Let's recap here. Career wins? Zero. Endorsement dollars? Millions. Sure she's young, but that's not the first time we've seen that either. The truth is, the first few statements could have applied to Danica, Anna Kournikova or Michelle Wie. Now Wie and Patrick may be just getting into their sports, but we know for sure that Anna was a bust. But what they all have in common, is their ability to beat anyone. I'm at the head of the line when it comes to wanting to see women compete with men, especially in a sport like golf or racing where the field is more level than in other major sports, but I am not a fan of pointless hype. Danica has had several strong showings, including top ten finishes in the last two Indy 500's, but until she makes it to the winner's circle she will be an inspiration to young female athletes, instead of an established driver. Hopefully one day she will be both, but until then let's scale back the hype a little please.
Draft Lottery More Like A Crap Shoot
So as usual, the worst team walks away from the lottery without the #1 pick. The NBA has this lottery system in place for one reason, to avoid having teams tank their season on purpose to get the #1 pick like you could do in the other major sports. There are a lot of years where the Portland Trailblazers (worst record last season) would be pissed they were missing out on the first pick, but there's no LeBron, Duncan or Yao in this draft. Truth is, there aren't any sure things in this draft, especially at the top. What makes it even more interesting, is that most teams need shooting guards and point guards, but the top prospects at those positions aren't considered worthy of the top half of the draft. There's still about a month until the draft, so I won't bother doing a mock until players have had a chance to workout for teams, and the teams have had a chance to change their minds 3 or 4 times. So be on the lookout for that.
Red Sox Update
Last Week: 5-3
Standings: 1st by 1 game
*When the week starts by losing 2 of 3 to the Yankees at home, it doesn't look too promising. But whenever you sweep a 4 game series (yes, even against the lowly Devil Rays), it will put some pep back in your step. The problems remain the same though, the back end of the rotation continues to struggle, whether it's David Wells with injuries, or Matt Clement with his entire life. I want to see Jon Lester and Craig Hansen brought up and slotted into our rotation and bullpen. We've seen the impact Papelbon has had, and these guys can't be any worse than bums like Rudy Seanez, David Riske or Lenny DiNardo. Give the kids a chance! I mean hell, if we think these guys are as "ready" as we thought Hanley Ramirez was, then we may have a couple Cy Young winners on our hands.
*It's becoming clear that we may be watching one of the best hitters in history enter his prime. Albert hits for power, hits for average, has a great eye and can hit to all fields. He hits good pitches, bad pitches, fastballs and breaking balls. I've always said that Manny Ramirez is the best all around hitter I've seen in my lifetime, but that may all be changing. With Barry passing the Babe, it now appears as though Albert has a legit chance to make a run at another homerun record, Barry's single season mark of 73. Major League Baseball would like nothing more than to have Albert pass Barroid for obvious reasons, and so would I. So each week I am going to chronicle Albert's pace in hopes that he can knock at least 74 over the fence this season. There's also an outside shot that he can capture the first triple crown since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967, but until he gets closer to the top of the league in batting average, I'm just going to focus on the homerun chase. Here's where he stands so far...
Homers Last Week: 3
Projected Total: 83
*So Barroid passed the Babe with homer #715 this weekend. But the real story was in the homerun call by Giants radio announcer Dave Flemming. As soon as the Sultan of the Syringe lunched the ball into orbit, Flemming's microfone cut out due to what is being called a "technical difficulty". Yeah sure. Might as well just call it a waldrobe malfunction. There are those in the media that want to take their shots at Barry, and that's exactly what this was. And just think, an announcer like Flemming may never get a chance in his career to make such a momentous call. Props to all the boys over their at Giants radio for taking one for the fan, and sending the subtle message that even Giant fans aren't OK with the juicer chasing down the Hammer.
*For those of you that enjoy look-a-likes as much as I do, you'll really like this one. While Dwayne Wade is lighting up the playoffs, his identical twin Gael Monfils (might as well be) is playing this week in the French Open. You may have seen this already on ESPN.com, but if you haven't take a look at the similarities. Pretty scary if you ask me...
Week 8 Final Score: 16-3-3
Record: 83-69-24 (7 games back)
Week 9 vs not another 86 years (69-78-29)
*It's pretty easy to win when your pitching staff goes 6-0 with a 1.73 ERA, a .88 WHIP and 3 saves. I told you I could feel my team starting to click, and if they can put together back to back weeks, things could start to get really interesting. And by interesting I mean I will start punishing the rest of the league and mocking them on my blog while I do it.