Tuesday, July 10, 2007

He Got Game? OR He Got Cubans?

Well, if you thought you were rid of my rants because I hadn't posted in the last 13 days, you were about as right as Spice World was an Oscar contender. Translation, I'm back pimps, and just in time to fill the void left by the MLB All-Star break. I have a lot to get to, and not a lot of time to do it, so there will be mostly quick hitters in this edition. I say that now, knowing that I will probably ramble on and on and on and on....and possibly on some more. You know how I check it out.

Red Sox Update

Overall: 53-34, 1st in AL East by 10 games
Status: Talk about mixed emotions. While the Red Dudes go into the All-Star break atop the AL East (for the third straight year mind you), and the rest of the division can't seem to get out of their own way, their 13-14 June record, and 5-8 mark over their last 13 haven't exactly instilled confidence in the Nation. Sure, the Jays and Yanks aren't getting any closer, but the Indians, Angels and Tigers have more than proven that they are now the cream of the AL crop. And if you can strain to remember a year ago, the Sox had the identical 53-34 mark that they have now, but only led the division by 3 games over NY and 5 over Toronto. The main difference between this year and last, is the flip flop of the team's strengths and weaknesses. Last season, Beckett was a mess, Schilling was dinged up, and the offense was the AL's #1 juggernaut. This year, while Schill is still currently on the DL, it's the pitching staff, led by Beckett and Matsuzaka, and the bullpen, anchored by Jonathan Papelbon that is keeping the Sox on top. Their seventh in the AL in runs (435 or 5.0 per game) while being 2nd in the AL in ERA (3.76). The production from guys like Mike Lowell, Kevin Youkilis and Dustin Pedroia has been outstanding, while the big bats of JD Drew (tool), David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez are falling far short of expectations. Simply put, if the Sox are going to make any kind of serious run deep into the playoffs, their bats are going to have to come alive. But the playoffs are still 75 games away, so there's plenty of time to work it all out. If those boys don't start to swing, though, it's going to be tough for GM Theo Epstein to fill the lineup with a bat. You can't sit Manny, Drew or Ortiz, and sitting the .197 hitting Julio Lugo would basically be giving up on him only months into a 3 year $25 million deal. So let's hope they can get over their struggles together, and catch up to the strength of the pitching. If that happens, it's not unreasonable to think that Red Sox Nation could be looking at it's second World Series appearance in 4 years, and a good look at it's second title in that time span as well. It's bout to get hot, baby....let's see if this team can stand the heat! (note: Wily Mo Pena's performance this year is one of the worst I've ever seen in my life. This guy blows. I was in favor of trading Bronson Arroyo for Pena, but Pena just doesn't get it. The guy still can't hit the freaking curve ball! How do you even make it this far without being able to hit the curve!?!...or play the field?!?! What a dunce, man. The guy can't get out of his own way, let alone contribute to the lineup. So much for David "Large Pepsi" Ortiz having a running mate in Wily Mo "Medium Diet Pepsi" Pena. Waaaaaa waaaaaa waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa.)

Diamonds Are Forever
*Word out of San Fransisco is that some techno geeks rigged the Internet voting for the All-Star game, in order to secure a spot for their favorite notorious hormone ingestor, Barroid Bonds. Personally, I'm shocked that the words "Bonds" and "scandal", or "cheating", are even appearing in the same sentence, but that's beside the point. While I'd love to somehow blame Barry for this, it's totally on Bud Selig and Major League Baseball. Flat out, their system is fatally flawed. Rules are, each registered email address has up to 25 votes to use at their discretion. So, people who live in their parent's basement, that aren't named Brett of course, set up a few thousand email addy's, bump the votes, and giggle a little when their plan pays off. Now you might be asking yourself, why doesn't MLB change it so that each IP address (the number that identifies your computer and your Internet connection personally) has the 25 votes instead of the email? Well, according to the powers that be, that would limit 25 votes per household, not per fan, and that's just not fair. Right, because everyone really needs to vote 25 times. Do they seriously think they are going to break up families because brothers, sons and fathers will be fighting over voting privileges? Please. I mean the game is a joke already, so this doesn't really bother me, but come on. It's shit like this that has made the game irrelevant. Fix the system, get rid of the "winner gets home field in the World Series" shit, and make it as much a real game as possible. This was once the best All-Star game in all of sport, but lately, it's been making the Pro Bowl look a double OT Final Four game.

*Usually, at the All-Star break, peeps like to look back on their pre-season predictions to see how they're shaping up. I'm no different. But I figure, I already published it, so I'm not gonna write about it again. Wanna see how I'm doin' so far (don't answer that out loud please, out of respect for me)? Check out my MLB predictions, right here...

*For everyone out there that aways thought "Kramer" from Seinfeld had some really good schemes goin' on, I have some sweet vindication for ya. Gus Dominguez, 48, was recently arrested and accused of smuggling Cubans into the US. Just like in the Seinfeld episode, they weren't Cuban cigars, but Cuban people. Unlike the episode, they weren't brought to this country to make cigars or roll crepes, but to play baseball. Cubans, Jerry!....Cubans! That's right. With so many Cubans looking to escape the reign of Fidel Castro so they can play baseball in the US, I think this Gus fella was just feeding the demand. Personally, I'd like to know how he actually smuggled them out. Did they simply wear masks and use fake ID's? OR was it like drugs, where they shove the Cubans inside the bumper of a car, a false bottom of a suitcase, or taped to someones crotch? Trust me, when this information surfaces, you guys will be sure to hear it from me first. My money is on the crotch taping. The last thing you want is for your Cuban to get smushed in a car bumper or a packed suit case. Oh, wait, we're talking about people. Viva Cuba Libre!

News and Notes
*Now that the baseball news is out of the way, it's time to get to the topic that everyone has wanted to talk to me about the last 2 weeks, the Boston Celtics acquisition of Ray "Jesus Shuttlesworth" Allen (that was the name of the character Allen played in "He Got Game" for those not in the know). My initial reaction has pretty much held pat in the weeks since the trade. The Celts got the best player in the trade, they got the best of the deal, but I just don't get it. I've long said Allen has the smoothest shooting stroke I've ever seen, but adding him really only helps the offense. His ability should open up a lot of room in the lane for the slashing Pierce and the posting up of Jefferson, but his liability on defense and his age and recent double ankle surgery have me a bit worried. The only way I see this trade being beneficial is if the C's can add either a veteran point guard, or more importantly, a defensive stopper down low. The name de jour has been Marcus Camby, and while a trade with the Nuggets is still a possibility, it's far, far from being reality. Without a move like that, however, the deal just doesn't do it for me. I would have much rather the Celts stood pat at #5, selected Corey Brewer and then attempt to move Paul Pierce. At least then it would be evident that Ainge was actually fully dedicated to the youth movement. Fact is, the window to win with Paul Pierce as your star is about 3 years away from closing, and Ray Allen alone isn't enough help. Maybe in a year or two, if Allen stays healthy and Jefferson continues to mature, the Celts can win an Eastern Conference title, or at least compete for one. But then what? Then it will be time to blow the team up again and rebuild. Sounds like what happened right when Ainge got here, if you ask me, and I just refuse to believe that I'm the only one that sees this coming. Come on Danny, pull the trigger on that next deal, make the Celtics relevant again....oh, and you might even save your own ass while you're at it.

*My main man, Roger Federer, collected his 5th straight Wimbledon title this weekend, and then cried like a baby being shaken by a psychotic British nanny. Sucks for him that nobody cares about men's tennis. By nobody, I mean Europeans care....but since nobody cares about them, then I stand by my statement. Moving on!...

*Slight spoiler alert here, as I'm about to talk about the 2007 World Series of Poker. The 51 event Series doesn't air on ESPN for several months, but the $10,000 buy in Main Event, the final event of the Series, started Friday afternoon. Due to Internet gaming regulations that have limited online play over the last year, the number of entrants per event has been down roughly 15%. That translation is directly reflected in the Main Event. Last year, Hollywood producer and all around douche bag, Jamie Gold, out lasted a field of 8,772 to claim the record $12 million first prize. This year, the field has been trimmed to 6,358, with a top prize of $8.25 mil. Still a tasty payout, and should make for a great event, but the laws put in place to eliminate Internet gambling have definitely at the very least, slowed the annual gold rush that has quickly become a classic event. As for the rest of the series, there continued to be a mix of top pros, as well as unknown amateurs taking home the coveted WSOP bracelets. "Poker Brat" Phil Hellmuth Jr. took home bracelet #11, breaking the record he holds with Johnny Chan and Doyle Burnson, while top pros such as Allen Cunningham (6th), Eric Seidel (8th), Freddy Deeb (2nd), Rafi Amit (2nd), Burt Boutin (2nd), Jeffrey Lisandro (1st), Hoyt Corkins (1st) and Eli Elezra (1st) also took home some prestigious poker hardware. In fact, Deeb won arguably the most coveted bracelet at the WSOP with his victory in the $50,000 buy in H.O.R.S.E event. (H.O.R.S.E is an acronym for a game that rotates between Hold 'em, Omaha High/Low, Razz, Seven Card Stud, and Seven Card Stud Eight or Better) That win was the biggest payday of the series thus far, netting Deeb $2.3 mil, and in beating arguably the 142 best players in the world, earned him much deserved respect. Other top performers at the Series this year have been '06 3rd place finisher, Michael Binger (8 cashes, $412,000), pro and former actor, Chad Brown (7 cashes, $402,000), former hockey player, Greg Mueller (5 cashes, $417,000), professional Robert Mizrachi (5 cashes, 1 bracelet, $861,000) and the years only two time bracelet winner, Tom Schnieder ($417,000). It's been a great series so far, and with the main event still a week from completion, it's bound to get better. Make sure you stay tuned for updates, as I will track a lot of the pros in the Main Event, along with celebrities such as Montell Williams, Toby McGuire, Shannon Elizabeth, Jason Alexander and Norm McDonald as they try to navigate this large field. Shuffle up and deal you crazy bastards!

*Only the Boston Celtics and their current and former players could create three news stories like this, in one week during the off season. 1) Antoine Walker had his house broken into, and was robbed at gunpoint while in Chicago. My best guess is that the thief(s) thought they were robbing the T-Rex exhibit at the local museum, but either way, sucks for 'Toine. 2) KIA, the car company that basically makes MatchBox cars for grown ups, just came out with it's new hybrid SUV. It's called, the RONDO. And their slogan is "discover your Rondoism". I understand that "Rondo" was probably a word before it was a last name, but come on. Next thing you know, we're gonna be driving around in the Cadillac Woods or better yet, the Toyota know....a car for really tall gay dudes 3) A local Celtics fan website had a poll in which they wanted to hear what nickname fans should use for the low post tandem of Leon Powe (pronounced "po") and Glen "Big Baby" Davis. Personally, I voted for "Powe Baby", but that wasn't even a finalist. Turns out, my idea was tame compared to the winning moniker, "Bang Brothers". Instead of wasting my time to explain why that wasn't the wisest choice, I give you this Now it's making sense to me why so many fans back Danny Ainge...they're all freakin' idiots. Only in Boston folks, can you get robbed by gunpoint in your Rondo, while two Spanish dudes rail out a hooker in the back seat. Priceless.

*And finally, there is the news this week that former Sportscenter anchor and current ESPN Radio star, Dan Patrick, will retire after 18 years at the world wide leader. I admit that my opinion of Patrick has soured in recent years due to his new found smugness, but the impact he had while an anchor on Sportscenter is undeniable. Whether teaming up with good friend Keith Olberman, or legendary sports funny man, Craig Kilborn, Patrick was informative and quick witted with his hysterical one liners, while at the same time coming across as a very credible news source. I'm sure Danny and his people have a Sirius or XM deal on the horizon, so I'm sure we will be hearing from him soon, whether we like it or not. Patrick's last day on ESPN and ESPN Radio, will be sometime in mid September. Adios Dan. You represent the Golden Age of Sportscenter, and you will be missed.

Fantasy Update
Last Week: LOST 10-11-3 vs Huge Giroballs
Overall: 168-139-29 (.543), 3rd place 29.5 games back

*Well, Frosco beat me this week, because Frosco always beats me in Fantasy. Aside from the first "name changing" bet we made in football two years ago, I think he's beaten me every time we've met. Needless to say, he can suck it. On the plus side, my Avatar, or icon, has new sunglasses! Check it out, he's straight pimpin'....just like me. And as far as my own team's mid point breakdown? You don't care, and I really don't either, so I won't even bother. I WILL win a tiny trophy though, and you can take that to the bank! And when you get to the bank, take out a few hundy and send it my way....'preciate it gang bangers....and stay up.


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