‘principal rivals are the Cardinals. It’s not San Francisco’–Yasiel Puig

He’s right. The Dodgers keep getting stopped by the Cardinals in the playoffs. That’s why they haven’t made the WS in forever.

It’s the Cardinals that see the Giants as their principal rivals, because they are the one’s the Giants keep beating on their way to 3 championships in 5 years.

Danny Ainge is so 2000 and Late

images The Celtics won again tonight. They continue to hover just beyond that 8th playoff spot, despite Danny Ainge doing everything he can to tank. If the Celtics were trying to make the playoffs, a trade right now for a guy like Jeff Green might make sense, wouldn’t it? We’re not trying to make the playoffs, and you have to wonder if Danny is going to trade guys like Zeller, Prince, Bradley, and Bass because they are actually helping the team win.

If tanking works and we start winning in 3 years, I still would question whether it was worth 5 years of constant tanking.

But I’m starting to wonder if tanking was a strategy of the early 2010s and not the mid 2010s and beyond. Because in 2010, LeBron and Kobe dominated over anyone and everyone, and to compete, you had to have a star of that magnitude. The NBA in 2010 was a star’s league. But is it now? LeBron looks like a 30 year old LeBron, which is the best player in the NBA but not insurmountable. Stephen Curry is a worthy MVP, but the Warriors aren’t going to win on his back (he may not even be the MVP on his team). The two best records in the NBA belong to teams, most notably the Atlanta Hawks with a team of “who?”

This new team model ought to mean that tanking for superstars is kind of a waste. Atlanta and Golden State’s strategy of building around a group of very good players and let them jell can now work. If the Celtics hadn’t started tanking two years ago, could they be competing now? KG is in major decline; Pierce isn’t going to carry the team anymore. But with a trade here, a free agent signing there, the basic core of that team could have been competitive. Play the salary cap and free agent market correctly, and you can overcome a lack of top draft pics. And without a great Miami Heat team, or a great OKC, or a great LA Lakers, or a great D-Rose led Chicago Bulls, they could be competing to win right now, certainly not as the odds on favorite, but as a scrappy team that would be in the running.

Instead, the conventional wisdom has so declared that “mediocre” teams can’t win, and that it’s championship with superstars or bust, that Danny gets a completely free pass to gut this team for years all on the possibility that this might work because it has worked for…. OKC? There’s no way Danny would have kept this current Hawks team together, and I’m not sure he wouldn’t have given up on the Warriors too. Curry didn’t become a star overnight and they arguably hit a ceiling last year with guys like Lee and Iguodala starting to decline. He certainly would have traded Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobli how many years ago?

The Next Ray Allen, Redux

More than 25 months ago, I declared a Golden State Warrior to be the next Ray Allen only to sit very quietly and realize that the other Golden State Warrior shooting guard, the one I didn’t pick, was becoming arguably far better than Ray Allen ever was. I’ve been biding my time knowing that at some point,

Klay Thompson would score 37 points. In a quarter.

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But here’s a looming problem for the Warriors season. It’s only half way, but looking at the standings, it’s going to be hard for them to avoid the OKC Thunder in the first round of the playoffs

There Goes the New Year’s Resolution

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My resolution was to better deal with the ever-increasing ADD by deeply reducing my way too constant use of social media. Because social media perpetuates itself and it changes our brain. Standing in line waiting for coffee is too long. There are at least three emails, five posts on Facebook, and who knows how many on twitter in the 5 minutes I’m waiting for my grande espresso. So, I put my phone away this morning as part of the broader plan to just sit and enjoy a single moment, whatever that moment is. And what better single moment to begin with than New Year’s Day Premiership. Nothing like the unique deliberate pace of a soccer game to settle in and focus.

Unfortunately, my new year’s resolutions were immediately foiled by NBCSN’s decision to go back and forth between 8 different games over two hours. A minute for a corner kick in one game, followed by a goal in the next, followed by a shot off the woodwork in the next. I saw Burnley hit the goal posts 4 times and score twice. I saw three goals in 5 minutes between Man City and Sunderland. It was dizzying, it was disjointed, and it was totally exciting. When it was over, I had to watch a 5-3 Chelsea-Tottenham game that had way too much midfield play for me to concentrate. Thanks, NBCSN.

All Lives Matter in Sports, too

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The ugliness out of Florida State keeps getting worse. Yesterday, Jameis Winston evaded the charge of rape again, this time in front of a retired judge representing the student conduct code board who was attempting to determine a set of facts in which Winston  refused to answer the questions of his accuser with anything even remotely resembling a “fact”–he just refused to answer, as did his roommates who were witnesses. It’s at least somewhat surprising they are still refusing to answer questions; after all, they got rid of most of the relevant evidence two years ago.

In response, Florida State University rewarded their head coach, Jimbo Fisher, with an 8 year contract. Bleacher Report’s Brian Pedersen thought it was a good deal with no reference to his role defending Winston. ESPN talk shows used the day as an opportunity to talk about Winston’s draft status.

People can debate what happened between Winston and the woman, even if this case seems creepily similar to so many others in college sports. The real issue is the complete lack of accountability on the part of Winston to get away with obstruction and refuse to respond to the accusation, even in the face of national media pressure. ESPN and the NYTimes have run countless articles showing how dirty this story is, with the latest coming from Juliet Macur. But seemingly nothing is going to make Jameis Winston accountable. And now, after declaring innocence in the latest hearing where Winston and his friends refused to answer questions, the sports media is ready to put the event in the past and focus on his draft status. And someone is going to draft him in the first round. I hope Florida State wins the national championship–better to make this as big and prominent a statement of hypocrisy as possible. Not that anyone will notice because we all got outraged after we saw the Ray Rice assault video and so we are satisfied in our response.

After Winston, it’s hard to know who to be the most disgusted with: his slimy lawyer, his tone deaf and enabling coach, the police in Tallahassee, college football fans, or the corrupt president of Florida State University that presides over it all. Adding to this pile of shiftiness and shittiness, the current FSU president replaced the president who was in charge last year during year 1 of the Winston coverup scandal–that guy, Eric Barron, left FSU for, wait for it, Penn State to “clean” up their reputation after their sexual assault scandal.

Happy holidays from college football, America!

Good bye Rondo

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No surprise, but it still sucks. And I don’t like it. Not just because it is not a good trade. It takes away the guy that was helping all the young players improve their game because he was getting them the ball. Jameer Nelson will do wonders with that role.

Kung Fu Panda Era is Over

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You know how even when a relationship is good and bad, and there’s a rational recognition that it’s probably best to move on, it’s still a jolt when it actually happens? That’s how I feel with Pablo Sandoval. An emotional ‘don’t leave!’ followed by friends reassuring me it’s for the best and just to let him go. But right now, I am feeling the emotional sting, remembering only the good times.

And those good times were amazing. With Lincecum and Pence, he may have best embodied the cooky spirit of the Giants. The Panda hats will be missed. His clutch playoff hitting will be missed. His mediocrity throughout the regular season, not so much. But let’s focus on the best of times–there are a handful of guys who represent the 2010-2014 Giants, and he is one of them.

I also think his best days are ahead of him. But only as a member of the Red Sox, and not if he had remained on the Giants. In Fenway, he could hit .350 going the opposite way off the Green Monster. This was the right move for him. It was the right move for the Giants. And it still hurts.