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Monday, June 19, 2006

Wade, Refs Help Heat Grab 3-2 Lead


South Beach Riot
Dwayne Wade has without a doubt taken his game to the next level in this NBA Finals, especially over the last 3 games. With his team facing an 0-2 hole that no team has come back from, all he did was average 40 points and 8 boards on almost 50% shooting. All with Dallas' top player, Dirk Nowitzki, floundering in the Florida heat. The Mavs at the very least should be ahead 3-2 after game 5, seeing as they handed game 3 to the Heat, after being up 13 with 6 minutes to go. And after being outclassed and outplayed in game 4, Dallas had game 5 taken from them by the officials. Not only did they call a phantom foul at the end of regulation to put Wade at the foul line, they mistakenly called a timeout for Dallas when it was clear that Josh Howard was asking his coach if he wanted to call one, not calling one himself. The refs need to stay out of it when it comes down to crunch time in a series like this. It's bad enough that the league suspended Jerry Stackhouse for doing the only thing humanly possible to bring Shaq down. But Dallas can't totally blame the refs. It's still the players that win and lose the games, and Dirk and Co. have done a lot of losing. I don't even see it as a case of Miami's players stepping up. Sure they had the impressive showing in game 4, but other than that, the other two games in Miami were there to be won and Dallas just blew it. While my prediction of a Dallas championship in 6 games is obviously wrong (shocker), the series still hasn't technically started yet with the home team winning all 5 games. It's ironic enough that if it "starts" in Dallas, the Miami Heat will be the NBA champs. But I'm still holding out hope that Dallas can get the last 2 at home, or at least win game 6 and force a showdown for all the marbles in game 7.

Open Wound
After telling everyone within ear shot on Saturday night that there was no doubt in my mind Phil Mickelson would choke away his shot at a US Open title, he made me look even smarter than I claim to be. See, the whole concept of the US Open is to minimize the risks you have to take and make smart, simple shots. Jack Nicklaus always said, there were just some players who were never meant to win an Open and they knew it, simply because of the style of golf they played. The difference between the guys Jack was talking about and Phil Mickelson, is that Phil goes out of his way to lose these things. Before he started winning majors recently, Phil was always labeled as a wild man who never scaled back his game to fit the situation. His philosophy was that why should he change his game simply because he was on the closing holes of a major championship? So when he pulled out the driver on the 18th tee yesterday afternoon, I just sat there and smiled. I already knew what was coming because I'd seen it twice before. Needing only par to win, and a bogey to force a playoff with eventual champ Geoff Ogilvy, Lefty took out the big dog and promptly launched into the trees. Sure a lot of you might say he'd been missing fairways all week, so who's to say he would have hit it with the 3-wood or a long iron? That's impossible to know. But using those clubs would have taken double bogey out of play, and essentially assured him at the very least a spot in the playoff on Monday. But he didn't, and just like at Pinehurst and Bethpage, he choked away the US Open title. Only a classic meltdown like that could make people forget that Tiger Woods missed the cut at a major for the first time in his pro career, along with players like Monty and Furyk choked away chances of their own on the final holes. Leave it to Phil.

US Apparently Still in World Cup
According to ESPN and ABC, if the US beats Ghana in their final match in group play, they will have a chance to advance to the knockout stages of the tournament. It's also been explained to me that goal differential is the first tiebreaker if town teams have the same amount of points in the group. So as I see it, the US still has a differential of -3, and they have only the one point from their tie with Italy. IF the US does beat Ghana, then they will still need the Italians to beat the Czechs. That would give Italy 7 points, the US 4, and Ghana and the Czechs would each have 3. Only problem with this scenario? Ghana beat the Czechs, who dismantled the US. And likewise Italy only managed a tie with the US while beating Ghana. Add into that the fact that the US hasn't really even scored a goal yet in their first two games! And while I am wasting my time talking about soccer, I need to say that the play in this World Cup hasn't impressed me at all. I have taken time out to watch these matches, and what do I see? Guys falling down and crying, and a lot of wasted chances by "the world's greatest athletes". I'm sorry, but I'm just not buying it. I don't claim to know which sport has the best all-around athletes, but these guys are not it. Soccer has far too much standing around, and more whiners and complainers than an NBA game. So as usual, the rest of the world is wrong, and the US is right. Soccer sucks, let's leave it at that.

Red Sox Update
Last Week: 3-3
Overall: 39-28
Standings: 1st place by 1 game

*The Sox were able to salvage a week that started with a crushing loss in extra innings and a sweep at the hands of the Minnesota Twins. The question still remains though. How long can they continue to not take advantage of the recent poor play by both the Yankees and the Blue Jays? Hopefully this sweep of Atlanta is a sign of things to come. And if youngsters like David Pauley and Jon Lester can help lend some stability to the starting rotation, the Sox may very well be on top of the East for the rest of the season.

Diamonds Are Forever
*Apparently former major leaguer David Segui had a prescription to be taking HGH. Segui came forward this week and said he was the player mentioned in the IRS affidavit in connection with now black-balled pitcher Jason Grimsley. Grimsley pegged Segui as the guy who gave him the name of a doctor in Florida that had the connections to get him the Joy Juice without raising any red flags. But Segui contends that he was actually prescribed the drug. I said it before and I will say it again. This thing is only going to get worse before it gets better. And don't expect David Segui to be the biggest name to surface from this latest chapter in the MLB steroid scandal.

*Somebody break up the Twins. After sweeping the Red Sox to start the week, they proceeded to go into Pittsburgh and sweep the Pirates too. Now they've won 9 of 10 and pulled to .500 for the first time this season. We shouldn't get too excited, seeing as they are still 11 games out of their own division and 9.5 out of the wild card, but this team is showing that their season shouldn't be written off just yet. Any rotation that has Johan Santana at the front (6-1 with 81 K's since May) will have the chance to compete deep into the season as long as they continue to score some runs.

*Just to continue patting myself on the back. The White Sox and Mets continue to be the two best teams in baseball (I don't count the Tigers because I regard what they are doing as some sort of fluke still). If those two teams actually meet in the World Series, be careful. Because I'm afraid if I actually predict something like this correctly, the apacoplypse can't be far behind.

NFL News and Notes
*I didn't have a chance to touch on Ben Roethlisberger's motorcycle wreck last week, so allow me to say this. What a complete moron! Not only was he not wearing a helmet, he didn't even have a valid license or permit! And then to come out and say that "when" he rides again he will wear a helmet? How about this Big Ben. I WILL NOT RIDE MY MOTORCYCLE AGAIN UNTIL I RETIRE! With the rash of recent motorcycle injuries to promising players like Jay Williams and Kellen Winslow, you'd think Ben had better sense than to be cruising around without a bucket on his dome. But oh well, I'll take anything that makes the Steelers look like fools, and gives them question marks heading into their Super Bowl defense in the upcoming season.

*To all the Patriots fans out there worried about Deion Branch holding out of minicamp this past week, don't. Remember the contract problems with Richard Seymour that had him holding out of camp? This looks like the same deal. I fully expect the Pats to compensate their Super Bowl MVP wideout before it becomes too big of an issue. Stay tuned with this story, but expect the Patriots (as always) to make the right decision and keep Branch in Foxboro.

Fantasy Update
Week 11 Final Score: 16-4-2
Record: 119-91-32 (9.5 games back)

Week 11 vs KY Jackin' Juicers (108-96-38)

*Poor Hanley Ramirez is making it really tough for me to keep him on my team, let alone be the name of my team. After such a promising start, Hanley is just 14 for his last 88 at the plate, and has seen his average drop from the mid .300's. all the way down to .269. But I don't even need him at this point, with my team clicking on all cylinders. My pitching continues to dominate and I picked up my second smack down in as many weeks. I still say this is my league to lose, and if these fools don't take notice, I may be in the driver's seat by the All-Star break.

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