Category: Uncategorized

The USA is Going to Embarrass Argentina

laugh

All this concern about the US Men’s Olympic Basketball team not winning by enough points and what it all means? The answer isn’t very complicated. They aren’t playing very hard, and they aren’t playing defense. They have been playing these games like they are NBA All-Star games, except the pace is a lot slower. They are going to play defense against Argentina. They are going to beat Argentina by a lot.

Having settled that, what does it mean for the upcoming Golden State Warriors season if the US team somehow loses? Loses with Kevin Durant. And Klay ‘the streakiest shooter in the NBA’ Thompson? And Dray “balls” Green? Full scale panic. It means the Warriors are cursed and it’s all Draymond’s fault. (Was anyone else watching the game against Australia thinking, “the Warriors are going to miss Bogut’s passing.”)

But the USA is not going to lose. You don’t even need to watch.

Also, Klay Thompson is not the best 2 guard in the NBA. He’s the best player in the NBA about 3 games a year, a D-Leaguer about 10 games a year, and he’s a good but not elite player the rest of the time. He’s got to gain some consistency.

And Boogie Cousins is doing a good job lowering his price tag for the Celtics to grab him.

Advertisements

A pile of dust and a beret

dunk
Everyone loves Dream Team as they should. Basketball gods came down from Mt. Olympus to make sure everyone remembered who they were and what righteous fire looked like. I’m not here to talk about that. I’m here to talk about the time Vince Carter jumped over some poor frenchman’s head and dunked. This actually happened in an Olympic basketball.

It was not planned. It wasn’t in a pool over someone’s cousin. Elite Olympic athlete Pierre Picard Van Damme was playing defense. (I Googled him but all I found was an image of a pile of dust with a beret) but Vince thought “should I go left? Right? Nah, I’m going to jump over his head.” Then he did it. We live in a world where guys can’t land dunks they spend weeks practicing. Vince did this on the fly, in a game. This was the style of play with which they won a gold medal.

Clearly Paul and I love KG. In the same game as Vince’s dunk KG posterized another Frenchman. Once KG landed, he bear hugged his victim lifting him up and skipping down the court screaming “that’s my n-word”. I think everyone was high on Vince’s dunk. I certainly was.

The Dream Team belonged to the world. Dream Team 2000? They were American. Brash, arrogant, gleeful, glorious Jerks. Our jerks!

I thought Shaq was on the 2000 squad. And Iverson. Nope. My memory blurred the post dream team men’s Olympic squads. I don’t want to Google the game. Maybe KG didn’t do that to Jean Luc Grey Poupon. I don’t want to ruin my memory with facts. That’s why I blog.

Team USA has its game down at this point. There are glimmers of true American hoop exceptionalism (see DeRozan’s near 360) but as Coach K scolds bench celebrations I think he’s missing something. He’s a great coach. With a full size USA flag pole up his butt. We as fans miss something. There’s a fine balance between Olympic sportsmanship and beautiful American arrogance. I’m curious to see what the post coach k era will bring.

Every 12 years we should send all of our best. A handshake agreement amongst the coming generation’s banana boat illuminati. Not every year. Too much wear and tear. However the the world should be regularly be reminded: basketball Mt. Olympus resides in the United States.

The world is a shit show so I’m re-watching Cheers.

sam

Sam “May Day” Malone was a(fictional) relief pitcher for the (real) Red Sox until his alcoholism derailed his promising  career. He then became a sober bartender in his (fictional) bar Cheers in (real) Boston. I grew up associating the opening theme of Cheers as the music for bed time. Growing up in the Boston area, I associated any stolen minute of prime time Cheers as a glimpse into the lives of adults.

With the world turning into a shitshow that resembles the satiric bleak news sprinkled throughout RoboCop, I was in the hunt for entertainment from simpler times. Netflix has the entire run of Cheers. Sold. Spoiler alert: Cheers holds up.

First and foremost, it is not in any way realistic depiction of life. It has the pitterpatter cadence of a stage musical. It’s characters are pristinely developed even in the pilot. No one is as clearly defined as a character ambling through Cheers. Even in the pilot, characters have clear motivations that advance the crystal clear plot. Sam a fallen hero who finds worth in seducing women. Diane is an ivory tower ice queen. Coach an eager to please lab. Norm a lovable lab of a drunk. Carla the tough as nails single mother. The cameras fall out of focus. The lighting is off.The writing? Funny and perfect from the word go.

The pilot introduces the Sam and Diane sexual tension that would carry the first few seasons. The bar is saturated with Boston sports. Posters of Bird and Yaz are on the wall. They talk about the Pre Brady, Pre Parcells Pre Rod Rust Patriots. Bobby Orr has a place of honor behind the bar. Later episodes would feature appearances by local sports legends like Kevin McHale further blurring kayfabe for young me.

 As an adult, Cheers is not realistic, it’s theatrical, so very fictional. Which is why I can escape watching it. However, it’s very real in the sense that it is very human. It has real pathos among the laughs. It’s a nice respite from the grim reality of our very real election featuring a seemingly fictional candidate.

Every episode ends with an image of the bar as a monolith devoid of humanity. A sad instrumental version of the theme plays. At the end of every evening, as in real life, the bar is empty.

Sportsmanship

One of my favorite moments at the end of a playoff series is when the players of each team come together and embrace and pay their respects. I really like sportsmanship. I really like the broader camaraderie and brother and sisterhood that emerges when the game is done.

[In fact, it’s something that’s always bothered me just a bit about KG and Rondo. They didn’t stay on the floor when it was over. I get when that happens once, but not repeatedly. In all the rivalry games between the Celtics and LeBron, I always admired that LeBron stayed on the court even when he lost….when he was still on Cleveland.]

Anyway, I just thought about this watching Barack Obama give one of his great speeches and talking about Donald Trump. Trump is the guy who takes off before the game is over. he’s a fucking asshole. And it isn’t a Republican thing–John McCain gave a great speech the night Obama won the presidency. So did Mitt Romney. Trump’s a complete asshole. Not just for this reason. Probably for every reason. But this one is resonating. That’s all.

Baseball’s Weird Nostalgia

tycobb

Does the guy in this photograph look like one of the best all time players in baseball? Ty Cobb had great numbers, but to say (as ESPN has through both fans and writers) that a guy who played 100 years ago is the 7th best player of all time is absolutely absurd. Besides the massive difference in athleticism, technique, training, and competition from today, Cobb played in a league that banned everyone who wasn’t white.

What kind of messed up nostalgia leads so baseball fans, and many of their writers, to think that Barry Bonds’ numbers deserve an asterisk, but not Ty Cobb’s? Or Babe Ruth’s and Lou Gehrig’s? To many peoples credit, Bonds is getting more support lately–although not from the HOF voters. In this latest poll, he’s ranked 3rd of all time, which is fine I guess. But he’s the only one in the top 10 to have played in the 2000s… and in the 1990s… and in the 1980s. The list is entirely nostalgic. It’s even arguably racist.

Compare that to ESPN’s NBA top ten. 8 of the 10 played in the 1990s or later.

So, why the nostalgia for Ty Cobb in baseball but not Jerry West, George Mikan, or Bob Pettit? Why is Babe Ruth untouchable for a generation of fans who haven’t seen him play, whereas NBA fans can’t be bothered to even think about George Mikan? We’ve all seen Jordan and LeBron, so we know how great they are. And we’ve seen the black and white video of the white guys in short shorts dribbling with their heads down and shooting set shots. But we’ve also seen the pictures of Ty Cobb, the fatness of Babe Ruth, the absurd statistics of guys like Walter Johnson, and the incredible athleticism of modern day players like Bonds, Griffey, Pujols, Trout, and so many others.

It doesn’t make sense to me. I could add the NFL as another league where the modern players are given a lot more preference than the guys who played without helmets. What’s going on with baseball fans and its weird nostalgia for eras that no one can remember?

 

What Big Papi is Doing is Unprecedented, even in the PED Era

ORTIZ

David Ortiz homered again last night. I was at the game, as I had to be. Opportunities to celebrate my two favorite cities and sports teams on the same day and place are too rare.

He homered off Jake Peavy so there should be an asterisk next to this one. But they showed a highlight of him homering off a 2010 Tim Lincecum, so that’s legit.

Papi is 40 years old. In 85 games this year, he has 23 homers, 75 rbis, and 34 doubles with an unprecedented OPS. Extend that over a whole season, and we are looking at 40+ homers, 60+ doubles, and around 130 rbis.

Comparing to the pre ‘roid era: Willie Mays had mostly career lows–18 homers, 61 rbis. Hank Aaron, who had 40 homers at age 39, had only half that the following year. The best I could find (with a cursory glance at the google) was Dave Winfield had a pretty good year; and Ricky Henderson stole 37 bases.

How about in the PED era (should Ricky Henderson be here?): Barry Bonds was hurt during his 40th year. At the age of 39, he hit 45 homers and hit .362. He never recovered entirely after the injury, especially as the witch hunt drove him out of baseball. Steve Finley is one of the most ridiculous examples of the era, hitting a career high 36 homers at the age of 39.

So, what’s going on with Big Papi? On the one hand, is he really dumb enough to ruin his whole legacy with a roid year at the end of his career? He miraculously survived at least one example of him cheating with seemingly no impact. Why’d he risk it again? And exercise and supplements are way better now. Did Hank Aaron even exercise besides an occasional slow trot around the bases? Papi looks great, in as good a shape as ever. He has an amazing approach at the plate, as good as anything I’ve seen since Barry Bonds. Neither of them ever get fooled on pitches, both have perfect balance, and incredibly quick swings.

Is there an, ‘on the other hand?’ Obviously! He’s way too good! He hasn’t had a year nearly this good since he was 30! And maybe that’d even explain why he won’t play again next year–he knows he’s on borrowed time before they find out about some Dominican doctor’s latest undetectable witches brew.

I’ve got no insights here. I’ve always thought most of these guys cheat, just like most of America and the world cheats. And it’s always been fascinating to me, among those who get caught, who gets scorned and who gets no more than a ‘meh’. How are we supposed to explain all the Trump bros who think their guy (whose whole life is predicated on lying, cheating, and stealing) is a hero while Hillary Clinton is the devil?

David Ortiz has the charm and legendary clutch-ness to have allowed him to so far avoid too much scrutiny. He’s been the face of Boston for more than a decade, maybe the most popular sports figure there since…Larry Bird? There are reasons we should believe him, and I’m going to choose to do so.

Why the Celtics will win the NBA championship in 2017

0416_russ

Four reasons the Celtics will win this upcoming season.

First, Draymond Green:  He seems like a great guy, and his latest issue in a bar in Michigan that led to his arrest seems pretty small potatoes given that no one got hurt. How often are there bar fights? C’mon. Still… Draymond needs to start deciding that he isn’t going to be Ron Artest or Dennis Rodman. Something is going to go wrong this year for the Warriors, and #1 on the list has to be Draymond imploding or at least becoming a big enough distraction to the team that he needs to be traded in a rush for Jonas Jerebko and draft considerations. Yes, I still can’t get over Chris Webber being traded for Rony Seikaly. Warriors are going to mess this up somehow.

Second, Klay Thompson: He’s going to sulk. After emerging this year as the best 2 guard in the league, he’s now going to be potentially the fourth guy (and fourth option because the ball will be going through Draymond’s hands much more frequently). I think he wants more than that and he under-performs and gets traded next off season in a panic move.

With the Warriors out of the picture, the only issue left is the Celtics beating the Cavaliers. Here’s reason’s three and four for why they will.

Third, Celtics Defense: When the Celtics have a lineup of Avery Bradley, Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown, Jae Crowder, and Al Horford, they will have an insane defensive lineup. And with lots of guys who can take turns guarding LeBron. Olynyk takes care of Love, and I like all the guard play against Kyrie. What’s left for Cleveland with their big 3 neutralized? They lost Delly and Mozgov. JR won’t be allowed to play without a shirt. Celtics are good. The problem is that none of these guys can really score with any consistency. And I still think Thomas is best as a 6th man. So, what they need is:

Fourth, Russell Westbrook: He’s the missing ingredient to championship glory. I know people are concerned he won’t sign after the season. He will sign and stay with the Celtics. Why? Because he can’t leave Boston after a year in which he wins both the regular season and Finals MVP. And because the Lakers are going to be so bad, he can’t possibly go there instead. But mostly because he will be the leading scorer on the defending champion Celtics.