Thursday, May 24, 2007

This is why they keep building casinos in the desert

Because it's a gamble. Life's a gamble. No sure things in life - not even when you are guaranteed a 25% chance at a Top-2 draft pick in an absolutely loaded draft.

I'll give you all a second to recover from the fact that I'm leading my first new sports post in almost a month by talking about the NBA.

Here's the thing - I'm not the biggest NBA basketball fan in the world. I support the C's only because they're from Boston, and I think Paul Pierce is a hell of a good player going to waste. I also think that the NBA Draft Lottery this past Tuesday night was one of the biggest clusterfucks I've ever seen.

I've never seen a draft in which the teams with the three best chances to land the top pick got bumped to 4th, 5th and 6th. Worse yet, I can't even fall back to the old ideas of the NBA Lottery being rigged - I cannot imagine any scenario under which the league would have wanted two of the biggest stars in the last 20 years to end up in Portland and Seattle. Of course, the same could be said about Cleveland and Denver back in '03; although the league tried to hand Detroit a marquee player in Carmelo Anthony - the Pistons just flat out blew that one.

Back to this lottery. It's a gamble - the Grizzlies, Celtics, Bucks and Hawks all gambled last season that if they completely rolled over on their fans and raised the white flag back in January, they'd have a marquee player - a franchise savior, if you will - to run out on the hardwood for 82 games next season.

They all gambled - they all lost.

Nights like Tuesday (and mornings like Wednesday, when I finally got the news) are the reason that sometimes it's a good thing that I no longer have cable TV. There's a pretty good chance I would have broken something (or someone) if I'd been watching the Lottery live, and I don't even care about the NBA that much.

I can't imagine what it's like back home in Boston right now. I've read the colums, I've finally turned on the WEEI webstream, and it's unbelievably depressing. It's a damned good thing the Sox are in first place (and by such a wide margin) - otherwise, this story could end up being all consuming.

There are two (and so far, only two) optomistic ways to spin this for the C's. First - they were not as bad as their record would show this year. Injuries and inexperience contributed to their abyssmal win/loss numbers more than anything else. They only finished with 24 wins, but with a healthy Pierce and Jefferson for all 82 they probably should have won 32-36. Not exactly world beaters, but the #8 seed in the Eastern playoffs this year (Orlando) only had 40 wins. So maybe the 5th pick is much, much higher than they should be picking. Philadelphia had 35 wins and got the 12th pick.

And, second... another year like this one and they'll be right back in the Lottery hunt in '08 - with a Top-5 pick this season to build on. That might not bea silver lining, but at least it's something.


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Monday, May 14, 2007

Holy Crap!

Geez, I didn't realize how long it had been since I'd posted on here. Sorry 'bout that. Even worse, my last few posts never got copied back to my "original" blog, including my NFL Live Blog / First Round of Golf of 2007, Day 1 or Day 2. Yeesh. And yet, I'm still far too lazy to copy it all over there.

If it's any consolation, I've been running my ass off trying to get settled in a new job, city and state. And I started up a new page to chronicle all of that, just so I don't bore you all to tears on here. I know this is supposed to stay a sports page, and I intend to do just that.

As far as sports goes, I've been fairly seperated from the sports world since last Wednesday. I no longer get ESPN on my TV, and my web access is limited to about three sites that actually load on my cell phone. The major blog sites I read: Deadspin, Dan Shanoff, 38 Pitches and Bradford on Baseball are all blocked out by the web servers here, so I am restricted to whatever I can get from before my phone battery dies.

I promise I'll get my act together and get back into the sports world soon. I do know a couple things - Vinny was right about the Brewers (as much as it hurts me to say that), I was right about both the Cardinals and the Yankees, and the Blue Jays might have the worst luck of any team in history (except of course for the fantasy team in which I drafted Roy Halladay, Chris Carpenter, BJ Ryan and Orlando Hernandez, meaning my pitching staff is currently in shambles. Oh, and to all of you who were gloating about "stealing" A-Rod late in the first round of your fantasy drafts last month... well, it's only gonna get worse as the year goes on.

I should have an apartment in the next couple of weeks, meaning I can break down the early training camps in the NFL and give out some midseason MLB hardware, and by the end of May, the NBA playoffs should be... what, like halfway over? Sweeeeeeet.


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Sunday, May 06, 2007

Why is this even surprising?

Real quick update tonight on the most obvious story of the day: Roger Clemens' return to the New York Yankees.

Listen, I shouldn't be surprised by this move at all. I've rolled my eyes every time a pro athlete said "It's not about the money - I just want the best chance to win one (more) ring before I'm done." There is only one franchise in pro sports where players say that and fans actually believe it - I happen to be lucky enough to root for them every Sunday in the fall and winter.

Make no mistake about it - had the Red Sox been the team to make this move, I would have (obviously) had a completely different view of it. I probably would have been perfectly happy with the signing (though not at these numbers), and been very happy to watch Roger Clemens as my team's #4 starter. But the way this went down just reinforces that no matter what a player says, it's always about the money.

The Yankees' rotation is in shambles - Mussina has aged very quickly the past few years, Wang can either be dominating or completely hittable, Andy Pettite isn't the Andy Pettite of 1996, Randy Johnson plays 3000 miles West now, the Yankees should sue Carl Pavano for fraud after his doctors announced he needs Tommy John Surgery and will miss the rest of this year and probably half of '08, and the rest of the rotation is in a "Play it by ear" state right now.

This was a logical move for the Yankees - pay whatever it takes (in this case, the prorated portion of a ludicrous 1yr, $28M... about $4.5M per month) to get the best available pitcher on the market. For Clemens, he gets to play in a city that will love him and if he can somehow turn around that rotation - give them a solid 5-6 innings every five days, straighten out Andy Pettite, teach some of the younger anything, then he'll be worth every penny.

Here's the real problem I have with this, and yes, I freely admit that this is probably 80% Red Sox Fan bias and 20% rational sports' fan thinking. Clemens has always maintained that the only way he would come back is if A) The Astros, Red Sox or Yankees were looking like legitimate World Series candidates, B) He could get his preferrential "Pitch Monday, fly home Tuesday through Friday, Pitch Saturday" routine, and C) One of those three teams would throw gobs and gobs of money at his feet and proclaim him Savior of the City and new Supreme Overlord. (That might be overstating it a little bit, but the only professional athlete I have ever seen with a bigger ego than Roger Clemens is Michael Jordan. I'm not saying it's a bad thing, in fact in some cases, its a necessity. I'm just sayin', is all...)

So what happened to Requirement A? The Yankees are 5.5 games out of the first in the division lead and 4.5 games out of the Wild Card race. Houston's 7.5 out of the division and 6 out of the Wild Card. Yes, I realize it's the first weekend in May.

By contrast, Boston is the best team in the American League, and only 0.5 games behind the Milwaukee Brewers for best record in the bigs (there's your credit Vinny). More importantly, the Red Sox are setup the best to continue this level of play through the summer and into the stretch drive of September.

Where the Yankees' biggest fault is their rotation, that is the Red Sox' biggest strength. The Yankees' closer spent April answering questions about whether or not he had lost it - the Red Sox closer has had only one hiccup this season, and has otherwise been nearly untouchable.

But here's the biggest thing - the most frustrating part of any pitching staff is building the middle relief in a bullpen. The Yankees' middle relievers are on a pace to burn out sometime in June; their most reliable man in the pen aside from Mo Rivera is Scott Proctor, who has already appeared in 18 of the Yankees' 30 games. So when Roger comes in and gives 5-6 innings (max) per start, who gets the ball to Mo?

There's no doubt in my mind that Clemens will be successful; let's face it, the guy is the best pitcher of the past 30 years, and probably one of the top 5 all-time. But while he might get his numbers, I just don't see this ending well by the time September rolls around. And anything less than a trip to the World Series is going to be seen as a colossal failure.

But hey - on the bright side, at least A-Rod isn't the most overpaid Yankee anymore. By the way - I want him on the mound for the June 1st series... in Fenway. That would turn into an absolute bloodbath, one way or another.

Personal note - I'm leaving my house to move to Pittsburgh very early this Thursday morning. I'll be driving the entire way, taking short stops for food, bathroom breaks... and possibly to write some stuff on here about the move. I'm going to do my best not to shift this blog to a personal site - I am, however, planning to start a mirror site with random thoughts on the process of moving and starting a new life. I'll have more info on that soon. But I will probably not be setup in Pittsburgh for a week or so, and even then, I'll have to move almost immediately out of the temporary housing I am being given and into an actual apartment somewhere in the city.

Just an update. See you all back here soon.


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