In loving memory of my dear friend Toni Rodriguez (1974-2014) gone way too young taken by cancer
This pic was 20 years ago at the University of Cincinnati Black Caucus Ball
Greetings from the Hoodwood where your humble scribe is balancing joy with sadness...
NBA: The best four on the floor?
The Conference finals are here and after all the grinding in the conference semis, the top two teams in each conference are left. The Thunder outlasted the Clippers in what I thought was a great series, the Spurs toyed with the Blazers in five in much the same way the Heat toyed with the Nets who were just out of their league. The Pacers are probably the most enigmatic team in the NBA, have you ever seen a #1 look so vulnerable? The Wizards pushed the East’s #1 seed as about as hard as a #5 seed should be able to push. The series went 6 but the Pacers seemed to play better on the road than they did in the supposed friendly confines of Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The Pacers went a pedestrian 3-5 at home in the first two rounds of the NBA playoffs but they got through and they pointed at getting the #1 seed for the express purpose of getting that 7th game at home. In game 1 the Pacers suddenly looked like…well a #1 seed, flat running the Heat into the ground in a 107-96 win that really wasn’t as close as it looked. Lance Stephenson (a former Bearcat) attacked the goal like a beast repeatedly and when he wasn’t driving and scoring he was kicking out to the wings for three balls and the Pacers were hitting them and hitting them repeatedly. The Heat looked like a team that was more rusty than rested and just never was in the game. I still think that the Heat will win this series but they had better gird themselves for a long seires
Meanwhile in the West, the Spurs look like a team that will grind and grind but have their way with the Thunder, who without Serge Ibaka as a down low enforcer will repeatedly attack the rim, giving up 40 points in the paint in the 1st half. Kevin Durant with all his shiny MVP hardware just doesn’t look comfortable in the post playing with his back to the basket and it looks pretty apparent. Without a reliable 3rd scorer behind Durant and Westbrook the Thunder looked pretty one dimensional. They either play defense and have no reliable scorers or play offense and get run out of the building or exhaust Durant and Westbrook trying to keep up with the balanced attack of the Spurs. The Thunder scored 105 points and still got smoked. I think the Spurs are the team to beat in the West and that a rematch of the Finals from last year is imminent. And with the 2-2-1-1-1 format returning after a 30 year run of a 2-3-2 format the drama will be ratcheted
NHL: A dream final four?
You know the NHL is creaming its pants over the last four teams that are left chasing Lord Stanleys Cup. The three American teams are the three largest media markets and includes the last two defending Cup winners in Chicago and LA, and the lone Canadian market is simply the most hallowed team in the NHL. Lets frame the picture in the East you have the Canadiens and Rangers who last won the Cup 21 and 20 years ago, the former was the last time Lord Stanleys Cup was won by a Canadian team. The latter is the most covered and ballyhooed American team that has went massive time between Cup wins. The Habs have the home ice advantage but the Blue Shirts quickly snatched that away with a 7-2 thrashing in front of a sullen Bell Centre crowd, an equally stunning game 2 win in Montreal. The Habs got to the conference finals with a grueling 7 game series win over their hated rivals the Bruins and the acrimony was obvious all the way to the series ending handshake like where the Bruins Milan Lucic and Habs PK Subban were still sniping at one another as series end. The Rangers fell behind 3-1 and had to win not once but twice in Pittsburgh to rally to win the series and add yet another bitter defeat to the legacy story of Sidney Crosby. In the west the Kings and Blackhawks look like they are girding up for a classic fight but one has to wonder how much gas the Kings have left in the tank after rallying to win another series after being down this time 3-2 and again winning a 7th93 finale which was kind of boring. But I think that might be a minor point, because you have teams that have won the cup recently and teams with so much rich tradition and history and there could be an original six matchup if the Blackhawks win the West. This looks like it will be a May and June that the NHL will long cherish.
NBA: Sterling girds for a fight.
The one thing I have said about Donald Sterling all these years, the man is totally tone deaf. The man has long been an embarrassing owner for the NBA. This team has up until very recently been a joke and they have managed to screw up drafts, signings and coaches more and more and more. This is a team that has made losing an art. But Donald Sterling keeps cashing the checks and doing what he does. But after he malfeasance with his racial comments the NBA finally decided that they have had enough of this clown. NBA Commish Adam Silver dropped a $2.5 Million fine and a lifetime ban. Sterling would have no shortage of suitors for his team which most pundits figure would be north of a billion dollars. That’s 9 zeros, kids. Sterling is being charged with conduct unbecoming, and Sterlings lawyer is demanding 3 months to prepare a case. The NBA is unlikely to grant such a delay, and you have to expect even with Sterling getting the formal boot from the NBA he will fight tooth and nail to keep his team and will spend lots of money in said fight. Sterling just doesn’t get it….no one wants him in the NBA. Hes a relic from a bygone time a time where paternalistic sporting men ponied up money for their “boys” and got the spoils of being the Lords of the Realm. Sterling is 80 and has that mentality of someone who is stuck in the 50s. He needs to get the clue that his paternalistic mentality is seriously out of step.
Cali Chrome won the Preakness and after a ruling about a nasal strip, will run for the Triple Crown
No cold envelope, the draft lottery is tonight, what you bet the Bucks WONT win the drawing…
Robert Mathis got busted for taking a fertility drug…you would think that players would know every drug that goes in their bodies…you would think.
Is it me or do I think that Stephen Strasburg is just a wee bit overrated.
Next weekend is the Indy 500, but it will be interesting to see the race in the morning.
Damn, ManU was so far out of the money they qualified for nothing in the Barclays…they sure aren’t used to being in the middle of the pack
To Lucy Li who with rounds of 74 and 68 qualified for the US Open as an amateur. Oh did I mention that Li is all of 11 YEARS OLD???? I have pictures in my house that are older than her. I would be lucky to shoot 68 on my video game golf.
To the idiots in the NFL that are pushing for expansion of the NFL playoffs. Leave a good thing alone…
A final pair of thoughts: Joy tempered with sadness
First my beloved Princess Katie will be graduating high school this week, she will be graduating with a 3.5 grade point average. Words cant express my pride with my Princess, she will be heading to college in the fall. I will be in Phoenix this week celebrating with her.
Finally, , you will see my leadoff pic you will see my cover pic is of a very youthful Bandit (in a tux no less) standing behind a very lovely Hispanic lady. Believe it or not Im the older one in the pic (My mom says I look like im 12 in this pic but I was 21). I was going to the University of Cincinnati Black Caucus Ball and I was figured to be bold enough to ask this lady to be my date. A memorable night to be sure. That picture was taken 20 years ago. Toni Rodriguez was my friend and for a while the love of my life, t work the way things should but nevertheless we remained friends. I lost my friend Sunday to the fucking scourge of cancer. I got the call early that afternoon and more or less was in shock the whole day trying to process. I lost a friend who I never even got to welcome into Club 40, she passed 4 months shy of it. I will always think of her when ever I see a bunny (bunnie was her nickname), see a Puerto Rican flag (she was fiercely proud of her Puerto Rican heritage), or hear any song from the Rippingtons Weekend in Monaco (long story)
The joy of seeing my baby graduating from high school this week. is sadly balanced with the loss of an old friend…there are just things in life that keep you grounded…
Unless you live in a sports desert, you know the NFL draft spectacle has been running the last few days. Aside from my interest in what the Redskins decided to do with their picks, why does this event attract so much attention? I saw that the ratings for this year's draft had a big spike in TV ratings. If you watch or listen...which even I did for a few minutes to check on the draft scroll to check on the Skins draft...and the audience hoots and hollers with each selection like they know how any of these guys are going to perform as pros. It is easily the most over-hyped sports event of the year.
Now if you want to have some fun, take a look at how scouts score draft prospects by race / word choice at http://www.deadspin.com. You can put in words like "intelligent" or "speedy" and see how the scouts describe the candidates...looks like there is still a bit of old fashioned bias (e.g., leadership 3.21 vs. 1.34 per 10,000 words). I am not sure what it means, but it is interesting.
I've been enjoying the hockey (mostly). We have 4 good series for conference semi-finals. Last night the Rangers rose from the dead to pound Pittsburgh and the Wild got even with the Blackhawks. The Bruins avoided disaster.by pulling out the OT win in Montreal and the Ducks got back in their series with a win in LA. I don't like the scheduling that was imposed on the Rangers...6 games in 9 nights cannot be the recipe for good hockey...not to make excuses, but it's not fair.
In the NBA, the top seeds seem to be rounding into form which is bad news for my Wizards who could not make a shot last night. They may rise back up and play excellent ball Sunday night, but it is a concern that the Pacers have started to play well. Whoever wins that series is going up against the Heat...not an enviable task.
In golf, young Jordan Spieth is staking out his ground as the new young force in golf. There is no doubt that with Tiger on the sidelines, golf misses a star. Everyone seems to be on this young man's bandwagon, so it should be fun to see if this Sunday he can accomplish what he could not do at the Masters - pull off a big win.
Well, it is finally warming up and the honey-do list is calling - have a great weekend and Happy Mother's Day to all the Mom's out there...you guys, clean a toilet for your wife...there is no better gift!
I have to plead ignorance to something. I pay about as much attention to golf as I do to such sporting events as the WNBA schedule or Arena Football, which is to say it’s about as far off my radar as the Maylasian Airlines 777 jet was off the actual radar.
So, imagine my surprise this week upon learning that one of the leaders of the Zurich Classic (I’m not really sure what makes it classic, afterall, I’ve never heard of it) is this cat named Seung-Yul Noh - pronounced in English as “Soon You’ll Know.” I’m not really sure I know how to take that - sounds almost threatening, but apparently I will, indeed learn, as I came to know there’s a golf classic in New Orleans this time of year, and that Noh leads the pack without a bogey. This contrasted against my game, where if I were to record a bogey, it would reduce my score. In my world, a bogey is something you hock out of your nose, so I’m pretty sure golfing and I aren’t really a matched pair.
I thought long and hard about writing that intro, because while to a native English speaker, I hear one thing, it is this guys name. I do my best to keep my personal policy of not goofing on someone’s name - it makes light of a person’s heritage. When someone like Chad Johnson disrespects his family name and does something stupid like changing it to “Ochocinco,” then I figure all bets are off (“Ochostinko,” etc.). Of course, I had to think long and hard because racial insensitivity has taken the front seat in this weeks news.
Another item I’ve had to think long and hard about is Donald Sterling’s reported remarks from a former girlfriend’s audio recording she leaked to the media. Let’s not get into the interpersonal reasons this may have happened - it seems Sterling’s wife filed suit against the woman last month to get back a bunch of stuff Sterling had given the mistress - which of course raises some other issues. Now, why he would have asked her not to associate with “black people” - in specific Magic Johnson - remains a mystery to me. She herself is Mexican and Black. Add to that...um...has anyone notice here he’s married? We’re willing to look the other way when his girlfriend comes and sits at the games with him, but he’s a racist too?
In rhetoric, the best thing to stand on are facts. The facts here are pretty obvious, so the next best thing he can stand on is definition - “it doesn’t mean what you think it means.” So...we’re investigating the authenticity of the recording. As soon as it is determined it’s actually him on the recording, we’ll get some spin about how it’s not important or that it’s not meaningful. Guaranteed.
In the meantime, his players are placed in a particularly unpleasant situation. LBJ wants Sterling out, Magic says he’ll never go to another Clippers game as long as Sterling owns the team. The players and the coach are black - they’ve been handed an issue they had nothing to do with, and a distraction they will have to work through. The NAACP’s Los Angeles chapter has apparently announced via twitter that they will not be honoring him while there is an investigation - I looked up their twitter feed, with the most recent tweet being on April 16, so I’ll have to take it second hand. To their credit, they haven’t uninvited him, merely postponed their award, and as of Sunday evening the announcement on their website still had him listed. Sad to say, an incident of this kind truly can undo a lifetime of action.
Meanwhile, what is there to do? Doc Rivers says “Our protest will be our play” which really can mean just about anything - does that mean they’re going to buckle down and play through this or are they going to drop games? Jeremiah Rivers, Doc’s son, strikes exactly the right tone in his thoughts on the matter. Given that he’s Doc’s son, let’s just assume that competitive nature and personal character define his protest comment as going to compete to our talent and win. There's so many different angles to this story: so many different ways the ripples will affect different things. BOB has a very nice post from last night on the matter.
Hello and welcome to another Wednesday of deep thoughts. This week marks two very significant events. Tuesday was Jackie Robinson day and the anniversary of the bombing at last year’s Boston Marathon. MLB does a great job each year of recognizing Robinson by having each MLB player wear #42. While this is a great tribute, I have a question. On Jackie Robinson day, shouldn’t the Dodgers be playing at home? It really does seem like a slap in the face to me to not only have the Dodgers on the road…but playing at San Francisco. I am really scratching my head over this. I am also trying to understand why someone would leave two dummy backpacks at the Boston Marathon finish line. It is acts like this that make me wonder about the direction of our country. Sick…
BOB mentioned yesterday in his blog about Aldon Smith’s latest screw up. Telling TSA agents that you have a bomb is not very bright. This does not strike me as the act of a mentally stable person, but maybe he is just an idiot. Either way, I think BOB is right, Sheriff Goodell will ask Smith to take the year off. This is really a bad deal for the 49ers as their defense is not the same without him. But, I figure that this is out of the team’s hands at this point. It will be interesting to see if they cut him loose or save a spot for him.
I caught the movie Draft Day last weekend. If you like football, you will definitely like this movie. It was like a big spoonful of football. I would not say it is Costner’s best work, but it is definitely worth watching. It was interesting watching the behind the scene conversations. Given the timing of the approaching draft, it makes the current headlines rather intriguing. I saw on Tuesday that an “anonymous” NFL executive thinks that Clowney is “spoiled” and “lazy”. Teams are looking for any reason to cause a player to drop. Is this truly what this executive believes or is he trying to allow Clowney to fall into their lap? Johnny Manziel is slammed because he scores too high on the Wonderlic test. It is whispered that he may be too smart to be coachable. Vince Young was slammed because he scored too low on the test…maybe he is not smart enough to learn the playbook. It really is a game of chess. The media sucks up the words like a Hoover on steroids. I am not even sure that they realize that they are being played by the teams…either way, they are pawns. There was a time that we could believe what we read in the paper, but those times are long gone.
I have been reading an old book about baseball stories. I found the book at an antique store and figured for a few bucks it would be interesting to read. The stories are an assortment of short stories, poems…each one is different. There was the original story that I suppose the Field of Dreams was based upon. One very short story was about a guy that walked into a bar. A baseball game was on the small TV in the corner. An older guy sitting next to him started talking about baseball and complaining about the way games today (probably 40 years ago) are described. Lanz commented on BOB’s blog yesterday how Vin Scully used words to paint a picture of the game. That is exactly what this old guy was complaining about in this story. He missed listening to a baseball game on the radio; because those play by play guys painted that picture for their listeners…they had to. TV guys have gotten lazy. Most do not understand what it is to do a play by play. They use words like velocity instead of bringing the heat or throwing gas and location instead of nibbling around the corners. As I read this story, I realized that the old man was exactly right. I have spent those summer nights lying in my bed with my eyes closed…seeing the game through the words. I watch the game now, and don’t really listen as much to the words of the broadcast. Often, I think that I see as much or more than the guys doing the broadcast. Baseball is great today and I love being able to watch so many game on TV. But, there will always be something special about listening to a baseball game on the radio.
I think we have all noticed how many pitchers are MIA this year. The dreaded phrase “Tommy John” surgery has been spoken 20 times this year. I started looking around trying to find some answers. One theory is that the MLB strike zone is so tight that pitchers have given up throwing slower breaking balls and now throw a cut fastball, slider and split finger fastball. Hitters spend hours watching video now. They are much more patient at the plate because they know that the tight strike zones favor hitters. There is some potential truth to this. Fastballs are thrown with the shoulder. Curveballs are thrown with the shoulder and wrist. The harder breaking balls all stress the elbow. I can see this, but I don’t think it tells the entire story. So I went to the expert on the matter…Dr. James Andrews. Dr. Andrews believes that there are several factors that are causing the UCL (ulnar collateral ligament) to fray and eventually fail. Kids are bigger and stronger and the UCL is just not able to keep pace with how hard the young pitchers are throwing. Also, baseball has become a year round sport in many parts of the country. He believes that young pitchers are not getting a break like they used to. Instead of putting away the baseball glove and picking up a football or basketball, they simply play on. A comment on the article about Dr. Andrews was spot on. He remembers listening to 2 visiting hockey coaches from Finland. They said if you want to be one of the best 12 year old players around then play year round. But if you want to still be a good player when you are 16 or 17 then drop the game when your season is over and play other sports that interest you because eventually water seeks its level and others will catch up or your zeal for the game will be greatly diminished.
My son began playing tournament baseball when he was 11. But, we limited the amount of games that the kids played. But there are others that do not. I am a firm believer that playing all sports is of great benefit for young athletes. Focusing on one sport at a young age often burns kids out. It also can lead to overuse of a pitchers arm…which is what we are beginning to see at the professional level. There is really nothing that the MLB can do to change this, except perhaps offer direction. Baseball should spend time preparing messages to younger players and their parents. Most kids will never play professional baseball, but the facts should be known. Throwing a baseball is not a natural action. Throwing a baseball hard puts stress on the shoulder and elbow.
Based on this information, it does not appear that anything will change soon. For the record, of those 20 pitchers undergoing Tommy John surgery only one is from outside the US. It is clear that this problem is something that is homegrown. Hopefully, it will be something that we can soon begin to change.
Last weekend was the Masters. The big news leading up to this great tournament was that Tiger Woods would not be healthy enough to participate in this year’s Masters. I have been a big fan of Tiger Wood's golfing. I have watched him perform at a level that few have ever approached. I cheered Tiger on in his pursuit of the major championship record. But, in the back of my mind, I had a nagging feeling like I had forgotten something. This week, I was reminded what I had forgotten. For all of those wins, Tiger Woods will never have something…he will never be the King of golf. There has only ever been one man in golf that completely grabbed the fancy of the country and that was Arnold Palmer. Although, Jack Nicklaus will wear the crown of best player, it is Arnold Palmer that captivated our nation and brought attention to the game of golf. Men wanted to be Palmer and women just wanted him. Class, charisma and charm were characteristics of Arnold Palmer. When Palmer began to make a move up the leader board, he would hitch his pants and eagerly charge toward the next shot. The adoring crowds were called “Arnie’s Army” and they would announce a great shot with a surge of cheers. Seriously, there was no doubt when Palmer sank a long putt or hit a great shot. ..You just knew. He did not so much play golf, as attack the course. As a small kid, I remember thinking that there was something different about this man.
Through all of his professional successes, Palmer remained a hero to every man. You cannot find anyone that will say something bad about Palmer. He has been a gentleman from the beginning. He always had time for a smile and a handshake. Athletes of today would do well to examine the manner that this giant of another generation has handled his business.
Here are a few facts about Arnold Palmer:
Hale Irwin said that he learned from Arnold that the most important part of being a professional golfer was what you did outside the ropes.
Palmer said that his father told him…You don’t need to tell anyone how good you are, you show them how good you are.
You can have a discussion over who is the best golfer of all time, but there is no question that Arnold Palmer has been the most important golfer of all time.
Johnny Bench named his son Justin Palmer Bench. Now, that is impressive.
Palmer represents the values of what America used to be. He is an American icon.
Arnold Palmer loved to add lemonade to his glass of iced tea…now that drink is called an Arnold Palmer.
There is so much more about Palmer to discuss. He beat prostate cancer in 1999, but has never quit his fight to beat the disease. He has donated money and been very outspoken to help raise awareness for fighting cancer. He built a Children’s hospital in Florida that remains one of the most impressive hospitals in the country for children.
Arnold Palmer brought attention and money to the PGA tour. He helped create the Senior Tour and the Golf Channel. He defined how to create a brand, by living his life doing good things. He began flying his own plane in the 1950s. In watching the golf channel story, it detailed how Palmer decided that at 80 years of age that he should leave the flying to someone else. On his last flight from the west coast to Orlando…he got the red carpet treatment from each airport that he was in communication with. Apparently, all of the airports across the country cleared the way for his flight. I am not a pilot, but supposedly, this is just not done. He did not have to wait for anything…which speaks to the respect that the air traffic guys had for Palmer as a pilot. From his humble beginnings, Palmer has created a huge place in American history…and he has done it the right way.
Tiger Woods has been a student of golf and has focused his attention to try to eclipse these records. It is a shame that Tiger does not understand that golf is only a small part of the legacy he will leave behind. It is sad, but I sort of see Tiger Woods as I do Barry Bonds. Both were great players that never realized the true meaning of being a champion. Arnold Palmer is 85 and won’t be with us much longer. It is time we took a moment to acknowledge just how special his life has been.
I think that everyone is ready for the snow to stop...
This is a picture of the Utah Valley University baseball field. The UTPA Broncs headed to Orem Utah to take on the Wolverines last weekend. They took 2 out of 3, but could not close out the sweep on Sunday. Watching the games online, I could not help but admire the beautiful venue...at least until the weather turned bad on Sunday. Blake and his guys managed to just beat the snow out of town. Next week is a home series against Bakersfield. Hopefully, they can just keep winning 2 out of three. Taking a series the rest of the way will allow the Broncs to make the conference tournament in May.
That is all I have today, but I will leave you with a bit of Jack Handey...
"Too bad you can't buy a voodoo globe so that you could make the earth spin real fast and freak everybody out."
"If you're a young Mafia gangster out on your first date, I bet it's real embarrassing if someone tries to kill you. "
Thanks for stopping by and feel free to leave a few deep thoughts of your own...
Thats a real baller, showin Lebron what being an inspration is...
Greetings for the Hoodwood, where no one even thought of the final four teams that are left.
NCAA: From a sweet 16 to a final 4 in Arlington
After 64 games, 64 teams have been sent off. Now there are 4 left. One favorite and three no one saw coming. The favorite left is Florida, winners of 30 straight that looked almost bored as they toyed with then vanquished a spunky Dayton squad that won the hearts of the college basketball nation with their fearless play. The Flyers sent 3 teams from 3 of the power conferences home earlier than they thought they should have been sent in Ohio State, Syracuse and Stanford and hung tough with the Gators for the better part of a half but the clock struck midnight and the Gators claimed the South regional title and head back to the final four for the fist time since the halcyon days of the back to back titleists in 2006 and 2007.
Carreening out of the East is UConn who was all but left for dead after getting housed by Louisville on the regular season finale by 33 points. But lead by the gritty performance by All-American Shabazz Napier the Huskies hung tough, won a slugfest against Cincy and despite losing the American title game to Louisville went in to the tourney a serious dark horse. Though many pundits, your humble scribe included, thought they would last past the first weekend of the tourney, they knocked out the 2,3 & 4 seeds to claim the Eastern Regional. The finale was a street fight against Michigan State the supposed dark horse darling of the experts. I had an uneasy feeling that if UConn got to the regional finals at venerable Madison Square Garden, that it would be an extended home game for them with Storrs only being 139 miles and a 2 ½ hour drive away. The game as I stated before was a grinding street fight with Sparty’s rugged veteran group battling an equally veteran though not as tourney tested bunch. The Huskies made an insane amount of free throws down the stretch and the 60-54 win sent the American conference team to the Final Four. It is the first time since the 1992 Cincinnati squad that hailed from the Great Midwest that a team from a brand new conference heads to the Final Four.
Rambling in from the West is Wisconsin…you read right the quietest #2 seed you’ll ever seen. They don’t play pretty, they don’t play fancy and they sure as shooting don’t play nice. They play a grimy, gully style game based on strong defense, led by the sleepy eyed 7 footer Frank Kaminsky who netted 28 points but it was a strong defensive stand at the end of the overtime thriller against Arizona that got their tickets to Texas punched. The #1 seed Wildcats had 2 chances to take the lead in the closing seconds but failed to get a shot off either time. It was a bitter disappointment for the Miller Brothers who were both turned away from the Final Four a game short.
Finally, to my everlasting chagrin there is Kentucky. The haughty Wildcats who started the season as the unanamious choice for the country’s #1 team, there was talk of a possible run through a perfect season. But as one loss after another piled up like so much snow in the Bluegrass state, the whispers and grumblings got louder and louder. Especially with hated rivals like Louisville in state and Florida in conference flourishing so handily. The Gators, not the Wildcats ran the table in conference. The Cards, not the Wildcats were considered the fab favorites to make the deep run for a title defense. But Wildcats downed the unbeaten Shockers, edged their hated in-state rivals and needed a last second three from Aaron Harrison to edge Michigan and prevent the Big Ten from having multiple teams in the Final Four for the first time since 2000 which ironically was the last time Wisconsin the Wildcats opponents in North Texas will be, made the Final Four. As an avowed Kentucky hater (Princess Jazzie’s family are big Wildcat boosters and her Uncle Matt is a UK grad) I could feel myself want to vomit seeing the bragging, grinning, jeering Wildcat fans celebrate a regional title that they really had no right to expect two weeks ago.
So there you have it, four teams that I think are equally tough and balanced. This could be a raucous final four in front of record crowds at the Jerry Dome where the road ends in the 2014 basketball season.
NBA: Sixers destroy the dream
I had a dream that a team would be so bad that it would eclipse the longest losing streak in major pro sports. The Bucs lost their first 26 games in their existence, the Cavs in 2010 lost 26 in a row the first year after LeBron left to take his talents to South Beach, MLB cites the 1899 Cleveland Spiders 26 game losing streak as its record. The 1988 Baltimore Orioles lost their first 21 games of the season as a more modern record of futility. But the Sixers were in full command of their losing destiny, all they had to do was play their normal hapless selves against a middling Detroit team and the pro record would be theirs. What did they do? They mucked it up. 70 points in the first half? Oh no… Five starters in double figures? What the? 12 of 21 from downtown. Who do these palookas a d-leaguers think they are? Well for that night in front of a good crowd of 17,438 they were 123-98 winners. Ohhhhh snap, the game wasn’t even close. For a rare time the Sixers got to be the bully, punishing the beleaguered Pistons who were coming off a Friday night thrashing by the Heat. I was depressed in thinking that instead of being a special team, they are just another bad team trying to tank their way to a chance at drafting Jabari Parker, Joel Embiid or Andrew Wiggins.
NFL: Requiem for Mr. Wilson
The football world lost one of its patriarchs last week. Ralph Wilson, founder of the Buffalo Bills passed away after battling a lingering illness at the age of 95. Wilson who was an insurance magnate in the 50’s and a minority owner of the Detroit Lions took $25,000 of his own money to become part of the so-called “Foolish Club” spearheaded by Lamar Hunt. That foolish club became the AFL and he was one of the key figures behind the scenes that greased the works for the eventual merger between the AFL and NFL. Wilson became a dedicated owner and was a beloved figure in Buffalo. Players, coaches and Bills fans all spoke lovingly and warmly of Mr. Wilson. I went to Buffalo four times in the heyday of the Bills in the 90s and understood how much this team means to that area and how Mr. Wilson worked hard to keep the in Western New York. Now that he has passed on the speculation will arise anew that the Bills might be headed to LA, but that would be a sad coda to a great football legacy. Mr. Wilson was Buffalo football and he was the Bills. He was a class act and will be missed.
Phat Dap Head Slap
To Lebron James and the Miami Heat, who reached out to a young teenager who is battling cancer. Ebony Nettles-Bey is fighting the good fight against stage-four Rhabdomyosarcoma, a type of cancer in the soft tissues of the body, she has chemo treatments and still goes to play at Verona High School in Wisconsin. She is a fan of LeBron and said that she wanted to meet him. With the help of a Milwaukee Bucks season ticket holder who generously donated his tickets to the Bucks-Heat game last Saturday, Nettles-Bey not only met James but hung out with the Heat during their shootaround, pregame warmup and team introductions. James also gave Nettles-Bey his uniform postgame. The interaction between Nettles-Bey and her favorite players and his teammates was more than just perfunctory wave and hello, James spoke postgame about his admiration for Nettles-Bey’s battle and her courage which is infinitely larger than any game. Dap to the Heat for brighenting the cancer fight for someone who needs the boost, we here in Hoodwood like Lebron is full on in support for Nettles-Bey’s fight against cancer.
To Mexican soccer who plays politics in trying to keep two key US players out of a friendly match. US and Mexico are developing a rather nasty rivalry and two American players that would be playing in the so-called friendly between the US and Mexico won’t because their Mexican club team Puebla wont release them from their obligations. DeMarco Beasley and Michael Orozco weren’t granted their release to play in Wednesday’s game in Phoenix. Foreign players are usually granted their release to play for their national teams but its highly suspicious that this Mexican league team would not when their players would be playing against the Mexican national team.
Vlad Guerrero retires an Angel, makes sense but super not fresh that Don Baylor (the only other Angels MVP) broke his leg catching the cermonial first pitch from Vlad...ugh. What is it with home plate at Angels Stadium that breaks legs. First Kendry Morales a couple years back now this?
Mr. Wilson of the Bills hasnt even been gone a week and here there is talk that Donald Trump may be interested in buying the team. If that happens, goodbye Western New York, hello LA Sharks. Trump will vacate that area faster than it takes a plate of Buffalo wings to disappear from a plate, he'll cry poor and that area in Hollywood Park would look mighty appealing. That happens and Baltimore moves to the AFC East, Indy moves to the AFC North and Kansas City to the AFC South to accomdate the new LA team..dont say that Bandito, your humble scribe didnt warn you.
All the supposed experts that were picking Michigan State to win it...did you really think that they would beat UConn at MSG? C'Mon Man!
Speaking of UConn, Geno (the Mafiaso don) Aureimma is leading another undefeated bid for the Lady Huskies, a showdown in Nashville with Muffet McGraw's Irish might be a jim dandy finale...oh did I mention that the Lady Irish are unbeaten too? The NCAA got this one right when they put the Huskies and Irish on opposite sides of the big bracket...No dis to Stanford, UNC, Maryland and Louisville (well maybe a slight one to Louisville) but Im hoping that they will be mere speed bumps to a title tilt of the first rank.
Miggy Cabrera and Mikey Trout get PAID! I like both of their games, Cabrera is the most complete hitter in the game today bar none. Trout will be a superstar in the big leagues for a long time but Trouts payday is more the preemptive strike by the Angels who didnt have to fork out the money for another 3 years. They figure get one of the best young hitters in the game locked up in his young prime years, but when he comes due for his next free agent contract...ooooh he might be getting a half billion dollar payday. You laugh, but I remember when Barry Bonds signed his first big money contract and the 7 year $43 million contract blew everyone away now thats a bargain for a middle reliever.
Finally, After careful thought and consideration Ive decided to quit writing and give up my pursuit of sports writing in an effort to pursue a dream being a sports agent. This will be my last column but if Arliss or Jerry McGwire doesnt hire me...then I'll be back next week...