Monday, June 12, 2006

Dirk Strikes First, As US Soccer Fizzles

Texas Two-Step
I'm all too familiar with the saying that no series begins until the road team wins a game, but that may not apply in the 2006 NBA Finals. Not only did the Dallas Mavericks hold homecourt advantage this weekend, they sent the message that this is their series. Whenever you can hold Shaq to 5 points (yea that wasn't a typo) you have to feel good about your chances of winning 2 of the next 5 games, no matter where they are being played. I said before the series started that Miami's elderly role players would be no match for guys like Jason Terry and Josh Howard, and that seems to be what's hurting them most. After Terry dropped 32 in game 1, both he and Howard became the first players in Finals history to make 4-point plays in game 2. Meanwhile, White Chocolate, Employee #8 and The Glove aren't finding it that easy. All we heard after game 1 was how great Miami was going to play in game 2, and how they were going to keep feeding the ball to the Diesel inside. Well if by "great" they meant awful, and if by "feeding it to Shaq" they meant he was going to post career playoff lows in FG, FGA and points, then mission accomplished. Granted the Heat should play better at home, but the damage may have already been done. Of the 9 previous teams that have fallen behind 2-0 on the road in the Finals, exactly none of them have gone on to win it. All that being said, I predicted Dallas in 6, and as of right now I'm sticking with that prediction. Hey you never know, I may just get one right one of these days.

Red Sox Update
Last Week: 3-4
Overall: 36-25
Standings: 1st by 1 game

*Yes, not only did I see Big Papi's walf-off 3 run blast to beat the Rangers yesterday, I was about 10 rows away from Upper Deck Shrek when he let it fly. Standing there, watching Manny take his cuts in the on-deck circle, I knew there was no way he was getting to the plate. Either Papi would strike out or fly out, or end the game with yet another clutch blast. And I think we were all pretty pumped when the latter happened. But while the win was nice, the Sox need to be worried about the fact they haven't been able to pull away in the East with both the Yanks and Jays recent struggles.

Diamonds Are Forever
*Jason Grimsley has become that latest player to get tangled up in MLB's steroid scandal. As the story goes, Grimsley was originally implicated with the likes of Jason Giambi and Barry Bonds, but he agreed to help the Feds in their investigation. AKA be a rat. But when Grimsley renegged on his promise to help, the Feds turned on him and nailed him for his own involvement. Fair? Probably not by my or your standards, but when you get mixed up in illegal drugs, I don't think you can expect to be treated fairly. But at least he removed himself from the team because he "didn't want to become a distraction" right? Yea sure. If by not being a distraction you mean filing suit against the Diamondbacks when they refuse to pay the rest of your salary for the year. This thing has the chance to get real ugly real quick, and I for one can't wait to see who J-Grim decides to throw under the BALCO bus on his way out the door.

*The Yankees were swept at home by the Oakland A's this weekend, which means the Big Apple media has begun jumping all over A-Fraud yet again. So what if he's hitting .323 with runners in scoring position. Any fan will tell you all of those hits come with the Yanks up by a bunch or down by a bunch late in games. With the Yanks still trailing the Sox, and facing a myriad of injuries to key players like Matsui and Sheffield, Gay-Rod needs to step it up or he will truly start to feel the wrath of the Yankee faithful.

I'll admit that I long for the days when Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi used to battle it out for Grand Slam titles. So forgive me if I get too excited when I see the latest tennis rivalry gaining momentum. With his 4 set win in the French Open final this weekend, Rafael Nadal did 3 things. 1) He became the first player to defeat Roger Federer in a Grand Slam final. 2) He became the youngest at 20 years old to win back to back French Open titles. And 3) He extended his record streak of consecutive matches won on clay to 60. Nadal also managed to improve his career record against Roger to 6-1, the only man on tour these days to even sniff a .500 mark against the Swiss machine. Sure Raffy will have to show he can compete on other surfaces in order to make any argument that he is better than Federer, but he is only 20 years old. After all the let-down in the past with players that were supposed to add excitement to the sport like Kafelnikov, Chang, Muster, Phillippousis, Henman and Krajicek (yes I realize I may be the only person reading this who knows who half those guys are), tennis may finally have another rivalry worth watching. And don't kid yourself. I'll admit nobody likes to watch two weeks worth of tennis that a Grand Slam has, but if these two keep meeting in finals it will make even staunch tennis haters stand up and take notice.

US Still Winless in World Cup in Europe
There are two things I know about soccer. Nil means zero, and it's the most popular sport in the world outside of the US. That being said, I will go out on a limb and say the chance the US has to win a World Cup in my lifetime is...well...nil. Despite being in Germany for the better part of the last 6 months, the US came out flat against the #2 ranked Czech Republic and promptly got their Yankee Doodle Domes handed to them to the tune of 3-0. That now gives the US of A an all-time record of 0-8-0 in World Cup games played in Europe. Sure a lot of people have been saying that this year's team can ride the momentum of their quarterfinal appearance 4 years ago, but I'm not so sure. And I don't think it has anything to do with the fact they are in perhaps the toughest group (group E) that some are calling the "Group of Death". Soccer just isn't our sport boys and girls, and the sooner we learn that, the sooner we can send all our minivans to the junkyard and move onto the next fad sport for youths in this country.....Lacrosse. Sure I'll have another World Cup update next week, but don't expect the US to be movin' on.

Fantasy Update
Week 10 Final Score: 16-2-4
Record: 103-87-30 (16.5 games back)

Week 11 vs Brazil Nuts (79-114-27)

*One good spanking deserves another. After a terrible week 9, team Hanley bounced back with a good ole fashioned ass kicking in week 10. My pitching returned to prominence, thanks in no small part to my newest acquisition, Brad Lidge. For the 2nd time in 2 weeks, Lidge was placed on the waiver wire, but this time I snatched him up. And the result? He only collected 3 saves, adding to what is now a truly dominant bullpen with Bobby Jenks and Derrick Turnbow. On a sad note, Hanley himself may be on the DL for a bit after hurting himself taking a dive into the stands on Sunday. Do me a favor and pray for him, because I don't want to have to rename my team....yet again.


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