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Monday, June 05, 2006

Finals....F-I-N-A-L-S....Finals


Dirk Vs The Diesel
My preseason prediction: Spurs over the Pistons in 6 games. Ok so I was dead wrong yet again. That's why I play poker and blackjack, instead of driving myself crazy betting on sports. But this Dallas/Miami matchup should be rather entertaining nonetheless. Pat Riley is being called a genius for adding veteran role players like Antoine Walker, Jason "I'm not the one who shot my chauffeur" Williams, James Posey and Gary Payton to compliment Wade and Shaq. While those may have been good pick ups, my belief is that last years team would have beaten this years Pistons anyway. Detroit looked flat through the entire playoffs, and should have probably been bounced by the Cavs a round earlier. But I will give credit where credit is due. Miami was still able to beat the defending Conference champs on their own home floor, and even gave themselves time to rest before the Finals. Despite that, I give the edge in this series to the Mavericks. Dallas proved against the Spurs that they can win a series in a halfcourt style, and they beat the Suns in a run and gun type of series. I expect this series to look more like Mavs/Spurs, with the Heat trying to feed Shaq as much as possible while taking advantage of what opportunities they can to run up and down. Dallas has post players like Eric Dampier and DsSagana Diop to contend with the Diesel, to go along with plenty of backcourt defenders like Daniels, Terry, Harris and Howard to try and slow Dwayne Wade. Miami doesn't want to get into a track meet with Dallas, because they aren't used to that style, and probably don't have the horses to run up and down for a lengthy series. Also, Miami has proven that they are suspect defensively, and while the Mavs may not be a force on D either, they have more weapons on offense than the Heat can possibly handle. So while I think Dallas will Git R Done, don't expect the Heat to go quietly. Prediction: Dallas in 6 games

Oh and just so the Stanley Cup Finals don't get left out. I have a prediction for that as well. Nobody will watch, and somebody will win. There it is.


Red Sox Update
Last Week:
3-2
Overall: 33-21
Standings: 1st place by 1/2 game

*Paper Tigers? Detroit sure played like it this week, going a combined 2-5 against the Yanks and Sox. The Sox started the week by getting pounded by the Jays, but were able to rebound by taking a road series against the Tigers, who continue their fall after racing out to the leagues best record. The Sox have been getting by without Mike Timlin with pretty decent performances from Rudy Seanez and Jermaine Van Buren to help bridge the gap to Papelbon. If they can hold the bullpen together, there's no reason to think they won't be able to keep it steady until they can get some key players back on the field. Next up this week is another key series with the Yanks, where heavily anticipating the David Pauley/Chien-Ming Wang matchup in game 2. Aren't they?

Diamonds Are Forever
*Now I know we don't care about west coast baseball, but when Brandon Webb starts for the D-backs, it's worth staying up to watch. Webb is 8-0 this year with a 2.01 ERA, 2 complete games and an almost 6 to 1 strikeout to walk ratio. Webb entered the season with a career 31-37 record over his first 3 seasons in Arizona, but now is the runaway favorite to start the All-Star game for the NL. Lucky for me he is on the team I am facing this week in fantasy. Oh Joy! But seriously, take a look at this kid if you can, he throws hard, works fast and isn't intimidated by anyone.

*Big surprise, Clemens went back to Houston. Sure I would have loved for Roger to come back to Boston, but he would rather stay close to home on a mediocre team than throw himself into a serious pennant race in either New York or Boston. Whatever. Let him make a million dollars each start or whatever the figure is. And watch the Astros never be a serious contender for the World Series title. I know they made it last year even though they were 15 games under .500 at one point, but it's not happening this year. Their bullpen is shaky, and players like Willie Taveras, Preston Wilson, Adam Everett and Morgan Ensberg have been underachieving to put it kindly. And this year there are much better Wild Card candidates than last, with the Phillies and Mets pushing hard in the East, and the entire NL West still at or over .500. Roger will make his money (more money than he needs), but I hope he doesn't expect to be playing any real meaningful games in his "last" season.

*After an outstanding start, Bronson Arroyo looked like he was going back to his inconsistency he displayed for so many years in Boston. In the words of Lee Corso, Not so fast my friend! After racing out to a 5-0 record, Bronson had dropped 2 of his last 3 starts before tossing 6 strong innings against Houston on Thursday, striking out 6 while giving up just 2 runs. He also continued his solid slugging, going 3 for 3 and driving in 4 runs. With Wily Mo Pena on the DL with a wrist injury, and the Sox having issues at the back end of their rotation....Well let's just say the deal isn't looking great right now. Don't count out Theo trying to swing a trade that brings Bronson back to Bean Town.

*From the "I guess anything is possible" files, Bob Uecker has filed a restraining order against a woman he claims is stalking him. Bob has been the voice of the Brewers for over 25 years, and played one of the best roles ever in a sport's movie as the voice of the Cleveland Indians in Major League. I like the movie too, but come on lady, find someone normal to stalk. In her defense, he did have some of the most classic lines in movie history. For example...

"Hollywood leads the league in most offensive categories, including nose hair. When this guy sneezes he looks like a party favor."

"Remember fans, Tuesday is Die Hard Night. Free admission to anyone that was alive the last time the Indians won the pennant."

"In case you haven't noticed, and judging by the attendance you haven't, the Indians have managed to win a few ballgames and are threatening to climb out of the cellar."

Pujols Watch
Looks like the first week of the "Pujols Watch" was also the last. Soon after Albert became the quickest to 25 HR (needing only 51 team games), Prince Albert strained his oblique landing him on the 15 day DL. So through 52 team games now, Albert has 25 dingers, putting him on pace for 78. Factor in the 15 games he will miss, and his pace gets knocked down to 70-71 for the season. So this should end his chances at catching Bonds single season mark, but I will revisit the "Pujols Watch" if by chance he comes back and starts crankin' them out at an even faster rate.

Live(Too)strong?
It's tough to tell whether all this continued steroid talk about Lance Armstrong is just people trying to dig up dirt that isn't there, or an actual scandal. I've always had a sneaking suspicion that Lance may have been dipping in the illegal joy juice, but there has never been any proof. It's not that I think his comeback from cancer would have been impossible without illegal drugs, but there is a lot of smoke around this issue. Sure the rest of cycling is probably jealous of him, but is that reason enough to try to mar his career with these rumors? Earlier this week a report came out clearing Lance of any wrongdoing after samples from his 1999 Tour de France win showed that he was doping (using drugs to allow his blood to hold more oxygen). Soon after the World Anti Doping Agency came out with a statement saying the investigation did nothing in their eyes to clear Armstrong of doping during the 1999 Tour. I'm sure this is only the beginning, so stay tuned. We could be watching another American sports hero being torn down by a steroid scandal.

Revenge of the Nerds
I'm surprised a girl won. I'm surprised she wasn't wearing glasses. I'm surprised she was Caucasian. And I'm surprised it was broadcast during prime time in High Definition. I don't get why it was in prime time, or in high def, and it really boggles my mind as to why ESPN would have Chris McKendry cover it, The same woman who can't make it through a normal Sportscenter without mispronouncing 1 million words, stumbling through her pre-written material, or telling one story while a totally different set of graphics are on the screen. Maybe someone in Bristol had her do it as some sort of practical joke. They would have been better off tossing Tom Jackson, Michael Irvin or Joe Morgan out there. Now that would have been funny.

*Just a side note about the Spelling Bee. I had the discussion with several people about how the first prize, college scholarship money, is the dumbest thing ever. They showed a statistic at one point about how tons of the kids that win go on to Ivy League schools. Not to mention, every time they showed the parents they were always doctors or scholars themselves. Giving those kids scholarship money is like giving the team that wins the World Series some batting cage tokens. I say give them a trip somewhere. Get these kids out of the house for once instead of having them memorize the dictionary while their skin turns a nice pasty white.

Au Revoir
I told you last week to be on the look out for Gale Monfils (Mon-Fees), the French tennis star that looks like Dwayne Wade. Well the 19-year old is making waves with his play now. Monfils clawed his way into the 4th round with an upset of 8th seeded American James Blake in 5 sets. Needless to say we hate the French, and they hate us, so the atmosphere was a little hostile for Blake. Monfils ran into a wall early Monday though. After 3 straight matches that went 5 sets, he looked a little out of gas falling in 3 sets to fellow 19-year old Serbian Novak Djocovik. And just a little something for anyone that actually cares about tennis. Rafael Nadal has now won 57 straight matches on clay, which happens to be the longest streak ever. And who said tennis wasn't exciting?

Fantasy Update
Week 9 Final Score: 4-16-2
Record: 87-85-26 (15.5 games back)

Week 10 vs Borat (75-89-34)

*My giant leap forward last week, followed by yet another thumping. But this one doesn't really bother me nearly as much as the ones before. My team played well, they just ran into a better squad this week. But now I find myself in 7th place. I need to take advantage of the next 2 weeks, against teams in 7th and 11th before I take on the first place team and have my second showdown of the season with Frosco.

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