Monday, October 27, 2008

NBA Season Preview

I've finally gotten a chance to do something productive with this blog and make some predictions before the league I'm talking about actually starts. In my opinion, there are more questions than answers this season in the NBA, but i'm pumped up.

Truthfully, the NFL has been garbage this year, so I'm more ready for the NBA than I think I've ever been in October. Without further ado ...

Eastern Conference

1. Cleveland Cavaliers – The time is now for LeBron to put up or shut up. Last season, he snickered and sneered his way to 30, 7 and 7 despite an open disdain for the play of many of his teammates. Now, they seem to be one of the deepest teams in the east. I expect them to make the leap, with King James finally ascending to the NBA’s throne.
2. Boston Celtics – This year, I expect a lot of parity in the NBA for a change. That said, the Celtics and Pistons will probably do what most veteran contender teams do in the NBA; take off the first 1/4 or 1/3 of the season, then turn it on down the stretch.
3. Detroit Pistons – Joe Dumars should’ve blown this team the past few years. The problem is, they are always good enough to finish no worst than third in the East and make a championship run, even though they need a chemistry change to get them back to the top.
4. Miami Heat - D. Wade is back, and he has a nice mix of youth and experience with him. If they pick up the pace (which they should sans Riley), they can easily take control of the weakest division in the NBA.
5. Toronto Raptors - The 4th best team in the East is here only because of NBA alignment rules. The pick up of Jermaine O’Neal shows an interesting potential rift between coach Sam Mitchell (a traditionalist) and Bryan Collangelo (a big fan of the international, fast pace style of ball). J.O. will also relegate more bench time for Andrea Bargnani, who may never live up to his #1 pick potential.
6. Philadelphia 76ers – A good, but not great team with too much hype.
7. Charlotte Bobcats - I don’t know how, but I have a feeling that Larry Brown will find a way to get these guys in the playoffs.
8. Washington Wizards – These next few teams are pretty much interchangeable (and definitely Charlotte at #7 as well), as far as potential. The Wiz have too many injuries to really be a threat, and are married to this bunch of players that doesn’t quite fit for the foreseeable future.
9. Atlanta Hawks – The Hawks have good talent, but an aging Bibby and constant friction between players and the coach, the coach and front office and the front office with each other usually isn’t a good mix for a winning program.
10. Orlando Magic - I might be the only person who has these guys out of the playoffs, but I’m not sold.
11. Indiana Pacers – If they stay healthy, they could easily sneak their way into the playoffs.
12. Chicago Bulls – They need to make some moves quickly to get better fitting parts if they want to make a playoff run this year.
13. New Jersey Nets – Everyone is expecting Vince to mail it in. Also, I’m not that big on the whole Devin Harris going to the next level in New Jersey theory. I saw a stat somewhere that showed his shooting percentage dropped by like 6% after he moved to Jerz. This is because in Dallas he was taking mostly open jump shots and layups. Asked to carry more of the load in New Jersey, he’ll be prone to taking bad shots.
14. New York Knicks – Love D’Antoni, hate this team.
15. Milwaukee Bucks – Probably like this team more than most, hate Skiles.

Western Conference

1. New Orleans Hornets – I think Posey puts them over the top. Overall, I think this year will have the most parity/mediocrity in the league in recent history. I expect them to be one of the few dominant teams.
2. LA Lakers – I think the West will be N.O. and the rest. These guys could easily drop lower, with injury and chemistry problems seemingly on the horizon. It would be in their best interest to trade L.O. as soon as possible.
3. Utah Jazz – The Boozer situation could get ugly, and so could the situation with D-Wil’s ankle. If they hold it together and keep Booz or get equal value, they could jump the Lakers.
4. Houston Rockets – T-Mac and Yao are going to get hurt. They will likely be hurt at the same time, at least for a few games, putting the keys in Ron Artest’s hands. This could either validate them as a title contender or validate the critics of the Artest experiment.
5. San Antonio Spurs – They’ll mail in the first half season, especially with Ginobili out for a while, then turn it up after the all-star break. Be prepared to read several articles abut how scary they are in March.
6. Denver Nuggets – Like spots 7-13 in the East, 6-14 is up for grabs in my opinion. The Nuggets have an ugly team but before you put them out of the playoff picture, you have to remember that Melo always makes the playoffs.
7. Dallas Mavericks – Do not be surprised if they don’t make the playoffs, especially when Jason Kidd misses the inevitable 10-15 games.
8. Phoenix Suns – Definitely don’t be surprised if they miss the playoffs. Nash, Shaq, Raja Bell and G. Hill could combine to miss 100 games this year. Even if they all play 82, this team doesn’t fit well together and Nash is essentially a waste in a slow paced offense.
9. LA Clippers – Don’t be surprised if they make the playoffs. They have a team of hardheads, which could be problematic for chemistry, but if B. Diddy stays healthy, the team meshes quickly and Dunleavy gets his rotation in order, they’ll definitely be playing ball well into April.
10. Portland Trailblazers – Too many people on the bandwagon, but should definitely be a playoff team in 09-10.
11. Minnesota Timberwolves – A potential sleeper this year, should be a definite sleeper next year.
12. Sacramento Kings – Ditto.
13. Memphis Grizzlies – Ditto.
14. Golden State Warriors – Ugly, ugly situation in Oaktown. They are definitely “Atlanta Hawks West.” It sucks because they had so much momentum with fan support after they knocked off the Mavs a few years ago.
15. Oklahoma City Liberty – Bad karma from Seattle, worst uniforms in the history of professional sports hands down. I hope they only win 8 games and still miss out on the #1 pick.

MVP – LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers
Coach of the Year – Jerry Sloan, Utah Jazz
ROY – Greg Oden, Portland Trailblazers
6th Man – James Posey, New Orleans Hornets
Most Improved – Jose Calderon, Toronto Raptors
Defensive – Josh Smith, Atlanta Hawks

C – Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic
PF – Amare Stoudamire, Phoenix Suns
SF – LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers
SG – Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
PG – Chris Paul, New Orleans Hornets



1st Round
def Washington (again); Boston def Charlotte; Philadelphia def Detroit; Toronto def Miami

Conf. Semi’s

def Toronto; Boston def Philadephia

Conf Finals

Cleveland def Boston


1st Round
New Orleans def Phoenix; Lakers def Dallas; Utah def Denver; San Antonio def Houston

Conf Semi’s
New Orleans def San Antonio; Utah def Lakers

Conf Finals
New Orleans def Utah

NBA Finals
New Orleans def Cleveland

Friday, October 24, 2008

Extra Belated World Series Preview

Ok, so I was going to post this before yesterday's game, but blogger was down. But alas, I felt obligated to do it anyway. So folks, here is essentially a preview of Games 3-7.

(check out this interesting Bill Rhoden article about the potential impact of the Rays black players on growing the game in the inner city.)

Now that I’m a grown up, I need to stay in shape. That, plus the ridiculous nature of traffic here in the DMV, usually sends me to the gym after work for at least an hour every night. To make a long story short, these long days of work x the gym usual has me home after 8 pm every night.

That’s not really conducive to getting things done outside of the work place during the week. This week, I’ve avoided the gym in an effort to get things done. After a productive Monday, I had a completely unproductive Tuesday, followed by a Wednesday where I started making headway in a lot of situations I had been stalling with.

But I forgot one major thing. MY WORLD SERIES PREVIEW!

Ok, so Game 1 is in the books (3-2 Phillies Victory), but there’s still six* games to go! Here’s the tale of the tape.

Rays Offense vs. Phillies Pitching and D

The Rays can mash, we’ve all heard that and about what B.J. Upton and Evan Longoria have done in this postseason for weeks. What is an underrated topic is the Phillies pitching. Ok, in my last Phillies related piece, I noted that they finally have good enough pitching to go with their hitting.

However, their arms aren’t good enough to hold down the Rays, except for Cole Hamels (as he showed last night). As I was watching the Phillies play the Dodgers, I noticed about four things about their pitching staff.

1. Brett Meyers is decent. 2. Jamie Moyer is hit or miss. 3. Joe Blanton is miss, miss, hit, miss.

And 4. Brad Lidge is going to blow a save at some point in this series. In Game 5 (I believe) he almost gave up 9th inning homeruns to James Loney and Matt Kemp. In the regular season, he’s definitely walked guys and given up big hits, only to get bailed out by a Shane Victorino throw.

Oh, and Ryan Howard is the worst baseball player on the planet.

Advantage: Rays

Phillies Offense vs. Rays Pitching and D

The ex-factor is really David Price. The Rays starting is decent, although slightly overrated, and their bullpen is hit or miss too. But David Price is a beast. I really hope Maddon unleashes him more in this series.

The Phillies offense is very potent 1-6. After that, unless Brett Meyers is pitching, you can count out the bottom of the lineup. I’m not too hot on Chris Coste at DH either. But since I’m not too sure of what Price’s role in this series will be, I’ll call this even.

Advantage: Even


Normally, I always take the smarter guy. But lately, the coach you think will win the big game or series loses. Maddon is the thinker, Manuel is Manuel. I can’t call it.

Advantage: Even


The intricacies of “The Trop” vs. the bandbox that is Citizens Bank. The Phillies inevitable choke x The Curse of Billy Penn vs. the Rays inexperience. Old Brad Lidge vs. New Brad Lidge.

Once again, I can’t call it.


Rays in 6.

(Sorry this kind of got a little sloppy and short towards the end, “the man” is on to my blogging habits).

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Shame on NFL, Cleveland Browns and the Media

One of the most egregious acts committed by an NFL team happened yesterday. But as the saying goes, “If a tree falls down in the woods and nobody hears it, does it make a sound?”

Actually, that doesn’t apply. This tree fell down in the middle of Times Square and nobody is outraged. I’m talking about the Cleveland Browns suspension of mercurial tight end Kellen Winslow for speaking out against the organization.

On the surface, this seems right. A hothead player with a history of saying stupid things (my favorite rant of all time) speaking out against his losing team. A malcontent getting what he deserved.

This is something different. Winslow was hospitalized with his second staph infection as a member of the Browns, one of many players who have been stricken with the illness in Cleveland. Whatever the reason their players keep getting staph, the Browns aren’t doing enough to prevent it.

Joe Jurevicius, one of the team’s best players last year, is missing the season because of it. LeCharles Bentley, once a high-prized free agent signing by the browns, is in danger of losing his career and life because of staph.

The team, trying to protect their image, had Winslow stay silent on his injury, which led to rampant speculation. Angered that his reputation was being soiled, he spoke out. The tipping point was when GM Phil Savage didn’t call to check on him while he was hospitalized, while members of the front office were pressing him for silence.

Yet, the Browns had the gall to suspend Winslow for speaking out, when they clearly don’t have their stuff together.

Another group of people who deserve to be criticized is the mainstream media. So far, I’ve only seen one article criticizing the Browns. On Sportscenter last night, John Clayton seemed to be criticizing Winslow in this.

Where is the media to stick up for him? You bash him when he says/does something stupid, he gives you good quotes anyway but you don’t do anything when he takes a stand for his health and the health of his teammates.

When Pacman Jones screwed up socially, there were dozens of articles criticizing the trouble young man. When players screw up, the media sounds off its horns like rush hour traffic in Manhattan. However, social injustices in the NFL by teams and the league against its players are as quiet as a fallen tree in Yellowstone.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

NFL Rant


I wanted to write about the NFL, but I don’t know what to say. Sorry guys. Between constantly going through NBA rosters, my four fantasy football teams, all the political crap and the baseball playoffs, I haven’t done much analysis on the NFL.


Thursday, October 9, 2008

Random College Football Thoughts

I’m glad I didn’t do a college football preview this year. Coming in to the season, I figured Georgia was a lock for the BCS title game, and probably would’ve penciled in USC to face the Bulldogs.

Other things I would have predicted were: Alabama being overrated, Clemson making an undefeated run and LSU struggling without a quarterback.

Some things I would’ve nailed, but the past is in the past. Right now, I still think Alabama is playing a little bit better than they are, but they’re definitely a BCS team and will probably be #1 heading into next year. But who plays in this year's championship?

Probably two one-loss teams, which actually bodes well for Georgia and USC. I think that Oklahoma will find a way to lose a game this year, maybe even this weekend against Texas. The same goes for Missouri and Texas too, and any other undefeated Big 12 team.

Penn St. actually has an outside chance of going undefeated, but I think they will get embarrassed by a non-Big Ten team.

For the first time in a long time, I really can’t call it. USC will likely finish with a better strength of schedule than a Big 12 or SEC team. So if they finish with one less and everyone else does too, then they’ll be in. As for their opponent, it will probably be the Big 12 winner; I think it’s very possible that the SEC champion will have two losses.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Elgin Baylor x Sports Guy x LCS Preview

Before I get into it today, I wanted to highlight yet another good article by Bill Simmons on Elgin Baylor. The plight of black athletes during the Jim Crow era has always been fascinating, along with the development of the modern pro sports system and the role various players had in creating the big bucks for everyone scenario we have today.

I was totally oblivious to the real Elgin Baylor story, but now I know and now I won't look at him as that horrible Clippers GM that played back in the day. It was also a good juxtaposition to the asskicking Obama put on McCain, moving us closer to our first black president.

I think that African-American History is taught horribly in this country in general, and it’s so easy to forget how bad things once were. We’re at the point now where when something racist happens, we’re almost surprised. It used to be the norm. Heck, in some places it still is. Anyways, I can talk forever about this subject, but this is a sports blog not a sociology or history blog. Just read the damn article.

Today, I’m going to talk about the upcoming LCS’s in Major League Baseball. This season was a pretty damn good one, but the playoffs have been fairly lackluster. Just several beatdowns going on throughout the opening round, except for the Boston-Anaheim (via LA?) series, which was marred by errors and overmanagement by the Halos.

Now we have the Phillies and Dodgers squaring off in the NL and the Sox and Rays squaring off in the AL. Before the season, this would have been one of the most unlikely pairings. During the season, it was clear that the Rays and Sox were two of the best teams in the AL. In the NL, Philly and LA didn’t distinguish themselves as playoff teams until September, behind the bats of sluggers Ryan Howard and Manny Ramirez.

In the past, I would do a tale of the tape on each, but quite frankly I’m not too confident in what’s going to happen. In both series, there’s a “what should happen,” “what I want to happen,” and “what will probably happen/what the MLB wants to happen.”

Here’s what should happen:

The Phillies have and have had the most potent offense in the NL throughout the season. Their pitching has been up and down, but down the stretch Cole Hamels, Joe Blanton and Jamie Moyer were solid. Their bullpen is stellar, as Brad Lidge’s comeback has been well documented.

The Phillies have had a championship offense for years, but now they seem to have the pitching behind them as well.

Meanwhile, the Dodgers had a weird mix of youth and experience on the mound and in the field. They have Joe Torre guiding the ship, but you would think the team that has been together for so long would ultimately pull it out against the upstart ball club.

What I want to happen:

I want the Phillies to win. I went to school there for five years and Philly really, really needs a winner.

What Will Probably Happen:

Manny will hit like 4 HR’s and drive in a crap load of runs, Brad Lidge will finally self-destruct, and Ryan Howard will hit .125 with one meaningless HR in a 12-2 Dodgers rout, and LA will win in 5 or 6 games.

What should happen:

In the AL, the Rays went from worst to first, and won the AL East. The Red Sox finished right behind them, and probably would have won the division if they didn’t have the injuries. Even going into the playoffs, I’d probably have picked the Rays to win the AL.

However, after watching the Sox, they are in championship mode. All of the bounces are going their way, their big names are stepping up and their no-names are coming through in the clutch.

What I want to happen:

I want the Rays to win. My disdain for the Sox is out there, I hate them and pretty much every Boston team. Nothing personal, but the ubiquitous coverage coupled with the jerks that many of these teams employ (Schilling, Youkilis, Vrabel, etc.) makes me and several others hate them.

The Rays are young and exciting. They have a cool manager and you want to pull for them anyway because of their losing history. And one of their best players, B.J. Upton, is a Tidewater native who was tearing it up at Greenbrier Christian around the time that I was playing baseball at I.C. Norcom High School.

What will probably happen:

The Sox will win, Pedroia will win MVP, Manny will get bashed, Epstein will get sucked off by the media, the LA/Boston rivalry will get run into the ground, etc.

If we can’t get a Phillies/Rays series, lets hope that Manny returns ‘home’ to Boston to bite them in the ass.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Reverse Hibernation Pt. 2: Deep Sleep

I know I had a long post in September talking about all the great things I was going to write about this month that never happened. Well, you can say I lost my inspiration to write.

Or maybe I was enjoying having my own place again and not doing nothing after work that I didn’t feel like writing.

Of course I should probably write more at work in the first place, but I at least want to make them think I do a little bit of work.

Regardless of why I never picked up steam last month, I think I might have gotten my “swagger” back. (Speaking of swagger, can this word be removed from the hip-hop dictionary? I mean, people all over ESPN, Yahoo!, and CNN are now writing the word swagger in nearly every column. It’s becoming more ubiquitous than “bling.” So, if you’re a rapper or a fan of hip-hop, it is no longer cool to use the word or any variation of the word swagger.)

There was a chain email going around the office about the upcoming NBA season. The central argument was that “the Suns were going to win the West,” which one of my co-workers countered with “the Suns aren’t going to be good but the Clippers will be.”

I had to think about it, but I think the second guy was right. The Suns are dead, and the Clippers have a lot of talent on the low. But where is all my insight now, about the NBA and the other sports?

It’s stuck in my head and not on your screens. This is why I started the damn thing in the first place (and the fact that I was graded on it for my on-line journalism class). I’ve let you down, and I’m sorry. But I think I’m back now.

I have to talk about the playoffs, NBA preseason, NFL, college football and the upcoming NCAA b-ball season. Instead of trying to do it all in this posting, I suppose I should just take it one step at a time. Stay tuned … or not.