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Archive for May, 2007

Dice-K, NBA Finals, Kobe, A-Rod

Random thoughts during my day at work…

The “gyro ball” gyro-ed for about four innings then it just pita-ed for Dice-K last night against the Indians. Dice-K (hate the nickname by the way but I’m not about to write out his full name every time I want to use it) looks to be nothing special. He’s a good pitcher but not worth the $100 million the Red Sox paid to get him. He has seven wins but on any other team he probably would only have four. Having the Red Sox line up behind him sure helps. Hell, Jeremy Sowers might even have four wins with that line up. I’ll say Dice-K is a start for just 3, maybe 4 years before he forget about him and he becomes the answer to the question “who is the highest paid .500 pitcher not named Gil Meche?”

With San Antonio in the NBA Finals, they should win their fourth championship in the Tim Duncan Era. That is they should, not they will. Cleveland has beat the Spurs three straight times. Granted it hasn’t been in the postseason but still something to go on. Detroit is still Detroit and you can’t write them off. Both teams can match up well with the Spurs. I don’t think they really care who they play, they’ll be favored against ether. They are happy just to have nine days off before the Finals start.

I think the NBA and ABC especially, will want to see the Cavs reach the Finals. We’ve already seen the Pistons-Spurs series in 2005 and it was boring. The only draw left is LeBron James and ABC has to be praying he makes it to the Finals or else the NBA Finals’ ratings may look like the Stanley Cup’s.

Can we all agree to stop calling Duncan a power forward? He hasn’t been a power forward since David Robinson retired. I’m not sure the exact definition but isn’t someone who has range no more than 12-15 feet from the basket, with his back to the basket most of the time and barely ever leaves the paint, a center? That sure sounds like Duncan to me. It would be like still calling Alex Rodriguez or Cal Ripken, Jr., in his last years, a short stop. Duncan is a center.

Kobe Bryant trades? The NBA off-season hasn’t even begun and I’m already sick of the “Kobe wants to be traded, now he doesn’t, yes he does” and “Kobe will be traded to Team X if Team Y does this and the Lakers do that and Kobe agrees to only shave his head twice a year” or “Kobe will end up on Team A if Team B ships Player R, S, T and Future Pick Z to Team C and Team C in returns gives the Lakers Players M, N, O and P.” It’s going to be long, stupid, annoying, lead every SportsCenter and in the long run, be a no story. Kobe will still be a Laker.

A-Rod’s “Hah!” call in last nights game against the Blue Jay’s was classic. While coming into third on a pop-up, A-Rod yelled what he said was “Hah!” at Blue Jay’s third baseman Howie Clark. Clark claimed A-Rod called for the ball and Clark then let the ball go and it landed safely. A little bit Bush League, yes. But come on. These are professional players and they just have to make the play. It’s like the hidden ball trick, or outfielders pretending they lost the ball then making the catch or an infielder acting as if the relay throw is coming in. All little fun parts of the game. Well done A-Rod.

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The Three G’s

The Three G’s took over last night’s Game 4 between the Cavs and Pistons. Gooden, Gibson and God.  OK, well not God but the basketball God of , LeBron James, I just needed another ‘G’ to make this work.  How great was that game to watch?

Being at the game, my first postseason game, was an amazing thrill. I
watched first hand as Daniel Gibson become a man, Gooden looked at his
hands after big shots and LeBron put them all on his shoulders and maybe, finally, learned on to finish off big games.

After two games of cricism from everyone with a mouth, LeBron has
responded the possible way; winning two games, evening the series, and
taking over the fourth quarter while making big shots down the stretch. It was an absolute thing of beauty, except the third quarter, which they better improve on for Game 5.

Two plays stand out in my mind.  There probably would be more but being
at the game and screaming for three hours has my head not thinking right.

The first was Gibson play in the third quarter.  When no one else wanted to do anything he stepped up.  The play of the quarter was Gibson driving to the basket, getting fouled, then getting close-lined and cheap-shotted on by Chris Webber.  What does Boobie do?  He doesn’t retaliant, he smiles, laughs it off and calmly steps up and hits three free throws in a row.  Gibson, known for his outside shooting, showed what happens when you take the ball hard to the hole.  You go to the line and if you name is Boobie, you hit 12 for 12 while you’re there.  Gibson played much bigger than his 6’2” 190 (a generous listing).  The question with Hughes not avaliable was would Gibson became a man or flounder under the pressure.  Safe to say he was a man last night.

The second, of course, was done by LeBron.  His two free throws to ice the game with 4 seconds left was fantastic.  I’m not always the most confident guy when LeBron steps up to the line but last night you just knew he was making them.  If there was any doubt, it was earsed when Hip tried to talk to LeBron, a la LeBron to Gilbert Aneras in last year’s playoffs.  LeBron just pushed him away, and won the game.  No way was he missing after he pushed Hip away.

 The 3-G’s.  And in a Z, a little D by Sasha, mix in some H by Andy and you got yourself a winning combo.  Keep it up and Game 6 could be the first series clinching win in Cleveland.  GO CAVS!

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Cavs Fans Rocked Last Night

For the first time in this postseason, make that in my life, I attended a Cavs playoff game.  What an experience!  It was incredible.  Everyone got wine colored “Beat Detroit” t-shirts and a white “Rise Up” towel.  It was so loud inside we couldn’t even hear the Cavs starting line up being introduced.  It was just a constant loud cheer that grew to deafening everytime a new players picture was put up on the gigantic scoreboard.  Seeing over 20,000 people all standing, all wearing wine, all waving a white towel, was an absolute beautiful sight.  Remember the scene from “Major League” when the Indians were about to win the pennent and the camera panned the entire stadium and showed all the crazy fans cheering and screaming?  It was like that only for real.  I can’t believe I have a voice left this morning.
We, the crowd, were into the game from before the introductions to well after the streamers and confedi came down.  Chants of “Let’s Go Cavs” and “Beat De-Troit” rang out when the Cavs had the ball and “De-fense” and “De-troit Sucks” followed on the defensive end on nearly every possession.  One of the best chants of the nights came just before halftime when Charles Barkley made his way to the TNT table.  “Barkley Sucks” started with a guy just one section over and quickly filled the entire arena.

There were two points in the night which highlight how great the crowd,
especially in the cheap seats were (I say cheap seat losely since the cheapest is $40).  The first came when LeBron James went to the line with 4 seconds left and the Cavs leading by two.  I called my brother, who live in North Carolina.  This was our conversation:

Me: “I just want you to hear how loud this place gets.”
Him: “I can’t hear anything.”
Me: “Just listen.”
The crowd quiets down as LBJ toes the line. First free throw is up and
in.  Crowd explodes.  After about 10 second…
Me:  “How about that.”
Him:  “Yeah that was loud.”
Me:  “Just wait til he makes this one.”
LeBron does make the second one and I have never heard a place so loud.
  I just held the phone up and let my brother listen for about a minute
before I just hung up because I had to get back to clapping, yelling
and towel waving.

The second point I learned after the game.  Three of my buddies, was sitting in the upper section but snuck their way down to the lower bowl at halftime.  I talked to him after the game and he said as good as the seats were, he hated it there.  The third quarter was not a good quarter for the Cavs has it has been all postseason, something they have to change in Game 5.  They said the crowd down there, when things weren’t going good, seemed disinterested and even started booing.  With a few minutes left in the third, they said screw this and went back up to their old seats.  There, the true fans, were stil cheering and yelling, trying to get the Cavs back in the game.

For most of the game the crowd was standing, especially on key possessions or after a big play.  But from teh 6:04 mark of the fourth quarter, no one sat down.  It was constant cheering, ranting, raving, towel waving.  It was by for the best $40 I’ve spent this year.  I would have paid even more to be there and I think will if the opportunity comes again.  I can’t believe I actually had friends who didn’t want to go because they would rather watch it on TV.  Bad
move.  They don’t know what they missed.

When the game ended, the in arena interview was with Gooden.  The reporter asked him something, you couldn’t really hear because the crowd was still extremely loud.  The first thing Gooden said, “Man, I love you guys.” as he looked up and around the crowd.  The fans responded with yet another deafening roar.  Can’t wait for Game 6.

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A Baseball Riddle For You

Here’s a riddle for you.  When does a foul ball count as strike three, when it isn’t a bunt and that kills a ninth-inning rally and stopped a four-game win streak? 

The answer: in yesterday’s game between Cleveland-Boston.  How can a foul ball be a strike three, you ask?  That’s a great question.  Two on, one out, and one of Cleveland’s hottest hitters, Casey Blake is up to bat in the top of the ninth inning at Fenway Park, trailing 5-3.  With a one-two count, a fastball comes up and in at Blake.  Blake started to swing at the pitch, then realized it was coming at his head.  Blake starts falling backwards, easily checking his swing.  The pitch hits off his hand and the home plate umpire awards Blake first base. 

Now the rally is on with the bases loaded, one out and Travis Hafner up.
Wait, what’s this?  Here comes Red Sox manager Terry Francona.  Now what’s going on?  First base umpire says Blake swung at the pitch and now he is being called out.  How did that happen?  Apparently the answer to the riddles is when a batter swings at a pitch that hits him, it’s dead ball and a strike. Does that make any sense?

“I didn’t know a dead ball could be strike.  How can you have it both ways?  It’s a terrible rule. It doesn’t make any sense,” Blake said after the game.
He’s right.  A dead ball can’t be a strike three.  Shouldn’t it just be a foul ball?  The other problem is, BLAKE NEVER SWUNG AT THE PITCH!  Therefore, he should have award first base.  It’s a horrible rule that MLB should look into changing like the NBA should look into changing their leaving the bench rule.  Blake didn’t want to swing at the pitch (and he didn’t).  He was just protecting himself.  Because of the stupid rule, the Indians lost a game where they could have made an awesome comeback and stole one from the Red Sox and their annoying, barely understandable fans.

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More Gibson is Good

Daniel Gibson made a three-pointer around the four-minute mark in last night’s Game 3.  That was significant for two reason and because of the shot, I knew the Cavs would win.

 

The first reason it was significant was because it made the score 79-73.  That meant it could no longer end like the first two games did, 79-76 Pistons.  The Cavs had finally scored more than 76 points.

 

The second reason why Gibson’s shot was significant was because it was Gibson taking the shot.  He was actually on the floor and Hughes wasn’t.  I don’t know what if Mike Brown found this website and was convinced when I said Hughes should not be playing those crunch time minutes or if it was because Hughes ankle was hurt or what.  All I know is that Gibson played the big minutes, made a big shot and the Cavs got a big win. 

 

Would Hughes hit that shot?  Possible, but not likely.  I said it after Game 2 that Gibson should be in at the end of games and he finally was.  Not only did he make that big shot but he had key steal moments later.  He plays as well defensively if not better than Hughes.  Start Hughes, that’s fine.  He probably needs it for his ego.  If Hughes is playing well and making shots (hahahaha) then leave him in.  But more than likely Gibson will be the one playing well and knocking down open jumpers.  Please keep playing him.  I said it after Game 2, then in Game 3, it happens and the Cavs win.  Anyone can win 50 games with LeBron in the regular season, it’s coaching in the Playoffs that matter and finally Brown made a good move.  Of course, after I suggested it.

 

That’s why my brother came up with a good idea.  I should offer to coach the Cavs for half of what Brown is making.  So if anyone with in the Cavs organization reads this or anyone knows anyone in the organization, let them know my offer and let them know that I called for Gibson to be playing more before Brown did it.  Thanks.

 

On an unrelated, sort of related topic, my college roommate Danny, is in San Diego this weekend.  He was cooking out on this beach out there with his girlfriend and a few other guys when three big black guys on bikes rode by.  I mean bike bikes, not motorcycles.  The kind you peddle.  Well the second one, the biggest and tallest, ask “Do you have any ribs on that grill?”  Danny says, “No, we just got some burgers.”  The other guy says, “OK” and rides away.

 

Now Danny knows his basketball and isn’t one to make up stories or even embellish one.  The quick moment the guys asked about ribs, Danny knew he looked familiar.  But it wasn’t until he was down the path a little bit that he realized it was Amare Stoudeimire.  Pretty random Amare sighting and just thought I’d sure it. 

 Overall a great weekend.  Cavs got a game back and the Indians swept Detroit.  Can’t argue with that.  On Tuesday, let’s hope for more Gibson and less Hughes again.  Go Cavs.

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3rd Quarter Blues

Foul or no foul?  It doesn’t really matter.  I blame Larry Hughes for missing the easy 6-foot jumper.  But not all of the blame can go on Hughes.  He gets some.  Mike Brown gets the rest.  Why is Hughes in the game anyway?  What has he brought to the table in any of the last four games besides a lot of miss jumpers, very few assists, the occasional steal, the whole head-bead on, head-band off thing, new tattoos, more missed free throws and less playing time for Daniel Gibson.

In the first half, the Cavs struggled to get the offense going (surprise, surprise).  In the second quarter, Brown goes to the bench and brings in Damon Jones, Gibson, Donyell Marshall.  Jones hits a three. Gibson hits two. Donyell doesn’t hit any, doesn’t miss any, but spreads the floor.  Before you know it, the Cavs are hitting open shots and have built a 12 point lead.

To start the second half, Brown brings the starters back in.  Fine.  Then the Pistons do what they always do, or I should say, the Cavs do what they always do.  Blow their lead and let the Pistons back in the game.  The Cavs scored only 7 points in the quarter until Marshall and Gibson hit back-to-back three’s in the final minute.  My question is, why does Brown insist on playing Sasha (who did have a pretty good game last night) and Hughes so much?  I have more of a problem with Hughes but it never seems Gibson plays with Sasha.  And why can’t they play good basketball in the third quarter?

The Cavs didn’t lose the game on the last play of the game.  They didn’t lose because there was no foul call (let’s be honest, how confident would you  have been with LeBron on the line with two shots to win the game.  Not very.  I say he would have only made one and then we would have lost in overtime). The Cavs didn’t lose because Hughes missed an easy, short jumper (although he should have made and because he didn’t, we lost).  They lost that game in third quarter.  A 12-point lead was wasted away to nothing as quick as the Cavs miss jumpers.  The same thing happened in Game 1.  The same thing happened in most of the New Jersey series and Washington series.  What are they doing in the locker room at half time.  Can’t Brown make adjustments?  Didn’t he see the Cavs played better with Jones and Gibson in the game?  They spread the floor and created more space for LeBron.  They hit open jumpers.  Yes, they missed a few too but they made the first one they each took and that was enough for the Pistons to worry about them.  Why not start
one or both of them?  Especially when Hughes is playing as bad as he is playing.  If it’s defensive reason, come on, let’s get serious.  The game is played in the 70’s.  The defense will be there.  Plus, each has played good defense when they are in.  I’d rather see the quicker Gibson running around with Hamilton than Sasha.  Jones has done a good job on Billups too.  And he knows he isn’t a good enough defender to wonder away from Billups to try and get in passing lanes.  Hughes thinks he is.  Jones stays right with Billups the whole time.

Also, the runs the Pistons made in the third quarter forced Brown to call several time-outs.  This left them with one time-out for the entire fourth quarter.  With one time out (and no technical foul, thanks Mike) the Cavs can advance the ball to half court, down only two points, and get off a decent shot.  Chances are they wouldn’t have made it but at least they would have had a chance.  The same thing happened in Game 1.  With a time-out left, they could have advance the ball with over two seconds left and plenty of time to get a good shot off.  Instead, those time-outs are wasted in the third quarter because Brown and LeBron can’t get the team up to play after halftime.

In the fourth quarter, all the starters were back in until the end when
Marshall made an appearance.  No one was making shots and the Pistons
were trapping LeBron again because they knew  no one could make a
jumper.  I would have loved to see Gibson or Jones out there in crunch time.

The Cavs aren’t going to win any games against the Pistons until they learn to come out of halftime with the same intensity they do to start the game.  The Pistons have their way with them every third quarter and it has to stop.  If it’s not working with the starters, why not try the bench.  They spread the floor, make shots and play adequate defense.  That’s more than Hughes has done.

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4th Anniversary of the Best Day in Cleveland Sports

Let’s turn are attention away from the Cavs’ playoff run for a day and look at what else is going on in the world of sports, well almost.

It was four years ago yesterday that the Cavs lucked out after a season of tanking and won the NBA Draft Lottery.  That day will forever be the greatest day in the history of the Cavaliers.  Even greater than any championships they win.  Without the top pick, the Cavs would have never had LeBron, the city would have rioted, fans would have stopped going to games, Dan Gilbert would have never bought the team, Gordon Gund would have been losing hundreds of millions of dollars, would have been forced to sell the team at lower than it’s value, the new owner would have relocated the team to Oklahoma or Kansas City or Charlotte or Winnipeg, there would be no more Cavs, without the Cavs, the Indians couldn’t survive financially in Gateway Plaza by themselves, they are sold and forced to leave down leaving Cleveland with only the Browns
left in town, and above all else, there would be no Lake Erie Monsters.

That is why winning the LeBron James lottery was, and will always be
the biggest moment in Cleveland sports history.

This that said, I can’t help but feel bad for Boston Celtic fans.  They have been in the same boat the Cavs were in 2003 twice.  They missed out on Tim Duncan in 1997 and now they’ve missed out on Greg Oden or Kevin Durant this year.  When it was announced the Celtics has the fifth pick, I actually laughed out loud.  I’m not sure why but I think because I find it funny that another organization can have worst luck than one in Cleveland (of course I hate when Boston fans say they have it worst when the Red Sox and Patriots have titles recently and the Celtics have about 97 titles).

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I haven’t talked about the Indians in a while but could someone tell me why they can’t beat the Kansas City Royals?

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I love Braylon Edwards but he’s an idiot.  He flies to the OSU-Michigan game last year against team orders and veterans advice.  He blows up on the sideline against Cincinnati.  He looks like a locker room disease.  He looks like Braylon during his sophomore year at Michigan, not his senior year.  Then he changes perspective a little bit by setting up a scholarship fund at Michigan and donating a $1 million scholarships to Cleveland City Schools.  He says this is the year he is going to be the player the Browns drafted, the player the city wants, the player Romeo Crennel deserves.  Sounds great.  He’s some respect back.  Then what’s he do?  Doesn’t show up for the first mini camp practice.  I
know they are voluntary and he told the organization he wasn’t going to be there but didn’t say why.  And the day before he was playing in a celebrity golf tournament at Michigan.  Not a good start Braylon.  You better come back and prove you are going to be the player the Browns drafted, not the player who misses practice.  Yes, he’s an idiot, but I think he will be a stud.  He just didn’t get off to a good start.

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