Thursday, July 21, 2005

LB Keeps on Suckin' and Tiger Rips Through St. Andrew's

Larry Brown Continues to Prove He is Not Worth the Trouble
ith his messy divorce from the Pistons now complete, its time to take a look at why you don't want Larry Brown on your team's bench. First let's recap a little bit here. 2002: Detroit goes 50-32 on its way to its first Central Divison title in 12 years and then goes on to lose the Eastern Conference Finals. 2003: Detroit again goes 50-32, but is instead this time bounced in the conference semi-finals. Then two things happened in 2004. Those that worship at the altar of Larry Brown will say that "thing that happened" was Larry being hired. Most of us with an actual brain in our heads will tell you that 2 or more things actually happened, with Larry's hiring being, at best, the 3rd most important "thing" to occur. The most important thing to occur has to be the addition of Rasheed Wallace. Never in the history of the NBA has adding a 6'10" player that can shoot 3-pointers been so undervalued (at least by those Larry Brown supporters). I mean don't you think that maybe had a little more to do with pushing this team over the top? Or how about the maturation of both Rip Hamilton and Chauncey Billups. Now some people will say that Brown is the one that forced this maturation. Here is a look at Chauncey's numbers the last year with Carlisle, as opposed to his last year with Brown to help disprove Larry's impact here as well:

2003 - 16.2 ppg 4.0 apg 1.8 TOpg 3.7 rpg
2005 - 16.5 ppg 5.8 apg 2.4 TOpg 3.4 rpg

Do those numbers seem all that different to you? If they do you need to have your head checked. I mean yes assists are up, but so are turnovers, which makes that essentially a wash. Also people like to look at how Hamilton has increased his scoring under Brown and become a more proven scorer. Then how is it that his scoring is down under Brown while his turnovers are up? These are just facts, as opposed to the "observations" Brown backers like to make simply by looking at what they see on the court. Listen, the fact here is that this team would have made and won the Finals without Larry, and his impact is overrated. Want more proof, watch the Pistons keep winning with Flip "one playoff series win in a decade" Saunders.

Look Out Jack, There's a Tiger On The Prowl
10 majors down, 9 majors to go. With his dominating performance at the British Open last weekend, Tiger Woods joined Jack Nicklaus and Walter Haegan as the only men to win double digit major championships. Tiger also became the only golfer other than Jack to win the career grand slam 2 times over, capturing his second British Open title. So, to all of you out there that felt the gap was closing between Tiger and the rest of the field, (namely Phil, Vijay, Goosen and Els) you better think again. Tiger has retooled his swing, and now seems primed to retool the PGA record books. Tiger himself said he didn't figure to have 10 majors until he was 30 or older, and here he already has with a full year to spare. Here is a man that will be able to play well into his 40's, and whose goal is to be the best of all time. That's important in figuring whether he can set the all time record, because sometimes players will grow tired of being the best for so long. So let's all take a step back and appreciate the fact that we are watching the best golfer of all time during his prime, and watch as Tiger marches on to more than 20 major titles. My prediction for his career ending total? I'm going to go with 25, including a record 7 Masters and winning the British every time its played at St. Andrew's.

Trivia! (this week in honor of hockey returning)
How many All-Star games did Gordie Howe play in?
A) 23
B) 27
C) 18
D) 25
E) 21

answer last week: E) Norway

Stat of the Week
Sam Snead holds the record with 82 career PGA Tour victories, but is in a tie for 7th with 7 Major victories. (tied with Bobby Jones, Arnold Palmer, Gene Sarazen and Harry Vardon)

Boston Red Sox Week in Review (2 weeks)
Record: 4-7 (53-43)
Pitching Performance of the Week:
(7/15) David Wells vs Yankees: 7 IP 5 H R 5 K
Hitting Performance of the Week:
(7/21) Manny's HR after Joe Crede dropped the foul pop-up - I mean who gives Manny two chances like that and doesn't expect to pay for it?
Standings: 1 1/2 lead

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Lebron Goes 0 for 2, and Schilling Heads to the Bullpen

Good to be King?
Before today, LeBron James and the Cavs had whiffed on both Ray Allen and Michael Redd in free agency. Now, they seem to have found their solution at 2-guard and a sidekick to James with former Wizard, Larry Hughes. This deal just flat out looks terrible. They are shellin' out nearly $12 mil a year to a guy who has never played in more than 73 games in a year, and is a career 27% from 3-point land. Some people are calling him the "Scottie Pippen" to LeBron's Jordan, and I think that is just ludicrous. While Hughes is a good defender and runs with a great motor during games, he is coming off a season in which he averaged career highs in many statistical categories. I don't like when, in free agency, a player is able to cash in on one good year, as opposed to being paid for their career performance (see Mark Blount). The only excuse for giving Hughes this much money is the fact that the market is so weak this year, but still, $12 million a year for the guy that was your #3 choice? I would have held out and got a cheaper 3 point shooter and used the rest of the money to re-sign Ziggy and chase after more free agents. I mean maybe this deal will work, but don't be surprised if in years to come Cavs fans point to this signing as a big reason as to why the team failed, and LeBron left town.

*Just a side note: Anyone find it curious that two of the league's best shooter's wouldn't take less money to come play with "the future" of the NBA?....Just putting it out there

Schilling's Move to Pen Sparks Debate
Terry Francona and Theo Epstein came out this week and said they plan to put Curt Schilling in the bullpen when he is ready to return from his rehab. Johnny Damon immediately came out and said that he thought it was a dumb move for the Sox to move Schilling to the closer roll, saying that it seemed that the front office and coaching staff were panicking. Damon even went as far to say that they were acting like they were 10 games back in the standings instead of 3 games up. First of all, while the Sox do own a 3 game lead over the Orioles in the AL East, the lead should be closer to 5 or 7 games. Keith Foulke made a mess of the closer role, while Alan Embree, Matt Mantei, etc. have done the same with the middle relief. Johnny should be thankful that Theo has found some sort of answer, either temporary or long term, to their bullpen woes which have contributed to the team ERA being a full run higher than at this point last year. Now I'm not saying that Schilling will be the next John Smoltz, but he has got to be better than what the Sox are rolling out there right now. If it were hurting the rotation that would be one thing Johnny, but for now thats not the case, so let's just all take the wait and see approach with this tantilizing experiment. If you told me at the start of the year that we would have 5 reliable starters and a closer with a 95 MPH heater and a nasty splitter, I would tell you that we were on our way to winning the pennant, and the World Series. I'm not putting the Sox there yet, but if this move works out, I would not want to be American League hitters from this point on.

* I know he hasn't exactly been lighting it up in rehab with the Paw Sox, but I really don't think you can make a case for him being a poor closer until he actually gets into a Major League game.

Lance Armstrong: Who Really Cares?
I am not going to waste time saying that I think Lance Armstrong is on steroids (although I still have yet to be convinced otherwise), but I am going to ask one simple question: Is it him or is it the bracelets? The media has all but handed him his seventh straight tour, but who really cares. I mean the only noteworthy thing now would be if he somehow didn't win, and when thats the story, there really is no story. So I take this opportunity to say that the only good thing to come from all of this is the $80 million those yellow Livestrong bracelets have raised for cancer research. Nobody cares about the Tour, let alone cycling, and as soon as Lance is gone the cycling fad will fade. This forever proves that its not the sport that was popular, or even the athlete in this case, but the cause. Thanks for the money Lance, and I hope we never have to watch another Tour highlight again.

Which country has the most Winter Olympic Medals?
A) Germany
B) Russia
D) Canada
E) Norway

answer from last week: D) Evanston, Illinois

Stat of the Week
In the 102 years of the Tour de France, 9 men have captured the title 3 or more times with Lance Armstrong holding the record with 6 titles.

Red Sox Week In Review
Record: 4-3 (49-36)
Best Pitching Performance:
(7/6) Matt Clement vs Texas: 8 2/3 IP 9 K 9 H 4 R
Best Hitting Performance:
(7/9) Johnny Damon vs Baltimore: 4/5, R, BB, SB
Standings: 3 1/2 games

* with his 4 hits in the game Friday night Johnny Damon extended his hitting streak to a MLB season best
** Manny Ramirez hit his 20th career grand slam this week placing him second all-time behind only Lou Gehrig