Author: Sean

Sean (Contributor) is a Cambridge, MA resident by way of Warwick, RI. Lacking a professional team in the Ocean State he studied future Red Sox stars in AAA Pawtucket. He's more than willing to sell you his Brian Rose rookie cards. His tastes run the gamut from archery to Arena League. He knows how lucky he is to be a Boston fan at this time, and keeps a clip of the '92 NLCS on his desktop to remind him how a man named Francisco Cabrera could one day totally destroy your city's future. He has appeared on televised talent shows for his remarkable ability to name over 25 NBA teams.

Rumors (Not The Fleetwood Mac Thing)

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So here’s the deal. Mark Teixiera is off to the Angels, now giving me October off. The ghost of Pudge Rodriguez is now haunting the Yankee clubhouse, and when he leaves, New York will get better draft picks than they would have got for the shitty guy they ditched. Hell, even LaTroy Hawkins is going to Houston, just in time for 1999 throwback month! (The Astrodome is being renovated.)

Now, what of Manuel Ramirez? The slugger is still here as of this wri—-wait!—–no, he’s still here. So, here’s the best possible deal I could come up with for MbM, knowing that he’s on his way out because he pouts every once in a while.

Manny Ramirez, straight up, to Toronto, for David Eckstein.

First, saves money. Gas ain’t cheap.

Second, how about hustle? Manny refuses to run out his hits off the Green Monster, turning doubles into singles. David Eckstein legs out each and every ground ball back to the pitcher’s mound; once a season, the pitcher throws it into the dugout!

Third, consistency. Manny has a .483 OBP in all of July, sure, great. Well sometimes he doesn’t even show up for work! How can you get on base when you can’t even get on…ballpark? David Eckstein, for his part, has had a .483 OBP combined the last two seasons, which is the kind of everyday work you can hang your hat on. And, could David reach the hat rack, he sure would!

Finally, off-field incidents. Manny Ramirez shoves over anyone and anything that gets in his way: traveling secretaries, other players, that complex revolving door. But David Eckstein, model citizen, is physically incapable of pushing over another human being. Take one for the team!

Your move, Blue Jays. Of course, Manny would have to adjust to the strange foreign languages in Toronto…

Opa! Yon Pirate Ship Floating Again

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The victory in 2004 is among the biggest shocks in sport history.

In 2004, the Greece national football team won the championship of Europe. It’s science fact. The team was a roughly 125-1 longshot with bookmakers before the tournament, and in their opening match victory over host Portugal won their first ever match in international tournament competition. Greece, if you recall, has been around for a long time.

The Pirate Ship, as they are affectionately and bafflingly known, will attempt to board and assail Sweden in Salzburg today, the second UEFA Group D game in this 2008 EURO menagerie. Their title defense is garnering all the press and rockstar adulation as “Tree Falls in Forest; No One Around”. Bookmakers listed the Greeks, in a moment of generosity, as a pre-tournament 33-1 longshot, now at least acknowledged within the realm of possibility. Other group foes in the Swedes and Russians have similar odds, and the favored Spaniards’ expected dominance is so grand that they might not even have to play until the semifinals, despite the red shirted titans’ Cubs-in-October level of championship history.

So why the hate on the Greeks? For one, they play anti-American football: it’s boring. The wunderkids stole Euro ’04 with only seven goals in six games, including three consecutive knockout stage 1-0 yawns. Plodding, violent defensive football harkens back to the abortion of World Cup 1990 more than the excitement and skill of say, the masterful Dutch second goal against the crippled Azzurri yesterday. Besides, 1-0 games are simply more random; if you don’t have the offense, you can’t play from behind. (Spain, for its part, is proving this by currently thumping the Russians; Prime Minister Putin will be displeased, and yes I know what I just said.) More importantly, Greece is Joe Morgan’s nightmare too; inconsistent. Fresh off their stunning triumph the national team couldn’t even qualify for the 2006 World Cup, as manager Otto Rehhagel kept pretty much the same team for qualifying despite the age and retirement from league play by some of its members.

Set pieces are the key for the low scoring Greeks.

So long as Angelos Charisteas is still on the roster, they’ll have a good shot. The center forward is the team leader in international competition goals, notching the Euro final’s lone score against the hosts. It’s going to take either the same brutal midfield play to keep shots away from goal or some inventive maneuvering and luck on the set pieces, but as evidenced by the brutal play from Russia today and the vanilla Swedish international history, it’s not too hard to see the Greeks through to the next round. And then what?

Back on the ship, everyone.

Will June’s Final Teams Bring Back The Magic?

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The 1988 NBA Finals remains one of the greatest championships ever.

Why don’t we rank the best NBA Finals?

You can’t walk a straight line in bookstores without stumbling over some Greatest Super Bowls tome or The Fall Classic: We Remember solemnly poking out from the shelves. The NBA’s championship is far more suspect, the nature of the game makes seven taut games nearly impossible. Stars, or even simply good players, on a championship team account for 20+% of a team’s output on the court. Losing that for one game mostly ensures defeat. Home court is also advantageous for an NBA team in the playoffs more than hockey (where just playing seems to be the important thing), football (no home advantage in a Super Bowl), or even baseball (pitching matchups dictate advantages). Look at the New Orleans – San Antonio series, with seven grueling games providing a dinghy’s worth of highlights. Every other game was a blowout, double digit homecourt slapping, while only Game Seven met its classic billing, where a road team actually won a close game. Jannero Pargo missed a 3 pointer to tie the game up with two minutes left, Tony Parker glided over a Tim Duncan screen and stroked a j, and that was the whole piñata. The final result exists like some propaganda; the Spurs only won because someone told you they did. Who are you to remember any of it? Read More

Breaking News: Everything You Know Is Wrong

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Angry Mob

As of right NOW, the Tampa Bay Rays and Baltimore Orioles are tied for first place in the AL East, percentage points ahead of the Boston Red Sox and a game and a half clear of the New York Yankees.

They will start a three game series tomorrow, the winner of which will almost assuredly lead the AL East alone at the beginning of May.

Time for ESPN to start giving us all that goddamn Rays-Orioles coverage we’re so used to seeing. Really gents, overkill methinks.

Don’t Be Stupid

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Kobe Bryant is towering above this metaphor

So I got hired here to blog up some NBA, and I’m sipping my Sprite and glazing over some boring Rays-Sox slapfight. Son, that just ain’t right. Flip. Let’s break these series down into some categories, for your viewing pleasure.

DOESN’T MEAN A DAMN THING, BUT IT’S FUN TO WATCH:

76ers 2, Detroit 1. Well, I’m assuming, as right now the Philly Phive are phinishing off the Phistons after a lackluster Game Phree. The key to this series is whether or not Detroit gives a shit. Since the Celtics finished them off in a March smackdown, they’ve coasted like Winston at the end of 1984: just waiting for the bullet to the head. They may end up ducking Boston by crapping out here. They’ve been pretty schizophrenic. In their one win, they had balanced scoring between Richard Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince, Sheed, and Antonio McDyess. In their losses one man is carrying the load (Wallace had 24 in Game One, Rip 23 in Game Three). McDyess broke his nose at the Wachovia Center which took him out; like the Pistons, he couldn’t stop the bleeding. My guess is he’ll borrow a mask from Hamilton for Game Four and tough it out.

As far as Philly is concerned, the rebound margin is bringing them all that sweet sweet playoff nectar. They had 45 and 43 boards in their victories. Additionally, Mazel Tov to Samuel Dalembert, whose 22/16 done grew him up tonight. Against a good defensive team — which the Pistons are, despite their aging and lapses — second chance points make all the difference. If the Sixers can get a strong effort out of borderline star Andre Iguodala in Game Four, their crowd and bench could make the difference. Detroit has been getting undue respect all season; there’s no chance they’re winning three in a row with their on/off switch. At least Philly fans will have warmer weather to celebrate when they crumble in round two. Read More

Rumeal Robinson and the Temple of Doom

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FT

Bounce, bounce, bounce.

Twirl the ball backwards from fingertips to palm.

Bend your knees, make the T with your fingertips.

Aim just over the front rim. Release and follow-thru towards the hoop, not back.

You gotta hit your free throws.

Some purists, George Will types mostly, claim baseball to be the greatest of our sports, because it is untimed. Therefore, a team can and will trail but can never be counted out by the clock. They get their three outs to keep themselves alive. Yet in basketball the clock does stop and allow for free throws, the shots that salt away leads or chip away at deficits, and the game is reduced to its similarly pure form: one player, one ball, one basket. It’s both beautifully basic and terrifyingly naked. There’s no defense, quite literally, for a miss.

And tonight in San Antonio, there were plenty of misses and no defense. In the most tense, exciting, and dramatic NCAA Championship of the decade, the overtime spectacle really lasted only 40 minutes. For once the Final Four orphans Memphis and Kansas tipped off their five minute curtain call re-knotted at 63, the game was over before it began again. The look on the sidelines said more than enough. Kansas players pushed each other and fidgeted in their seats, eventually standing up and hopping with Benchanticipation. On the other sideline, the Tigers sat stonefaced, occasionally glancing up at the scoreboard like they were looking for a stolen wallet. Derrick Rose cramped up at the end of regulation and had to be helped off the court, only to be shoved back out there to save the season. It could have all been over with, if.

Carolina Blue and Westwood Gold suffered spankings on Saturday night, but their fates now seem much more preferable to the public gutwrenching of the Memphis Tigers and their two leaders, the All-America Chris Douglas-Roberts and the All-But-Gone Rose. The four missed free throws between them in the final 1:15, especially CDR’s no-for-two with 16 seconds left, opened the door on an improbable 9 point, 2 minute Jayhawk comeback a sliver of an inch. And, once Coach John Calipari’s goal of fouling to prevent chaos went down the drain (“We didn’t foul hard enough,” he offered), Mario Chalmers snuck around a Chalmershigh screen and launched a three point dagger (“Like I was in my own backyard,” he said to FOX Radio) that dropped through the net, the net of Jordan, Lorenzo Charles, Keith Smart, Scotty Thurman, and the other faded memories of NCAA titles long past. Memphis sleptwalked through the overtime, an eventual 75-68 final, and is now left to daydream about the nets they didn’t cut down.

The NCAA runners-up cap off the winningest season in college basketball history with the most painful loss in title game history. No team has ever blown such a large lead in a small frame of time. It takes a great deal to wipe Darius Washington’s agony off the list of the most painful charity stripe moments in a school’s history, but even as we speak these free throws are joining Bill Buckner at Shea, Jean van de Velde in the wee burn at Carnoustie, and Gene Mauch and the Phightin’ Phils, taking their seat on Scott Norwood’s 38 yard line. Memphis has had a fairly nondescript basketball past, with a couple of Final Fours and the receiving end of Bill Walton’s biggest day. Tonight they had their best chance to date to unfurl a banner, and oh, once you get one, they can’t take it away. The worst part is that no one–not Bill Self, not Mario Chalmers, not Billy Packer–no one took it away, either. In gagging on the sport’s most basic play, the Tigers simply failed to take what was rightfully theirs. It’s a sharp gouge to the basketball fan’s soul.

But it’s a hurt with blame attached to it. Even the aforementioned Rumeal Robinson, a Michigan man with the 64% touch, nailed down the 1989 championship (in overtime, no less) with two straight swishes to give interim coach Steve Fisher an interim one-point title victory. The free throw comes down to focus and mechanics; some kids have ’em, some kids don’t. And the two players that didn’t were the architects of this whole empire; everything this team had built rested on their shoulders. It was their right to go up to that line and cinch the glory. And they couldn’t do it. One more make and the story of the 2008 Memphis Tigers is of a breakneck, athletic, speedy and utterly dominating (nearly 19 ppg average margin) force, one of the great teams of the decade and maybe of all time (a win would have ended them at 39-1). But the result is what it is, and now the late-game woes will be seen as a microcosm of their season, a slow pendulum swinging all year long and waiting to rear its ugly head at an inevitably climactic moment. And it did, ball on rimand so shall it be.

Now Memphis has hit its head on the top of the curve, and away they go from grand pomp to dire circumstances. Rose and Douglas-Roberts are likely gone; Calipari’s road won’t get much easier anytime soon, and everywhere they go, the team will be hounded by the airing of their own hideous baggage. Teams from the non-power conferences don’t get many chances at the top; check out where Cincinnati or UNLV are right now, far removed from past glories. For 6 months, 38 minutes, and 9 seconds, the University of Memphis had just about the best basketball team in the country. Sometimes, though, you only get one shot to stand alone.

You’d better hit it.

UConn – Tennessee Final Stunningly Interrupted By Extra Games

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Pat and Geno

Tennessee coach Pat Summitt and UConn coach Geno Auriemma are baffled over new developments.

TAMPA, FL–The UConn Women’s Huskies and Tennessee Lady Volunteers’ NCAA Women’s Championship basketball game has been hijacked this month by sixty-two additional games played by some 60+ additional teams. The championship, previously scheduled for March 12, will be pushed all the way to April 8. Some of these charlatan universities inexplicably challenged the two schools to matchups themselves.

“It’s just rude, quite frankly,” said UConn coach Geno Auriemma. “Our girls were looking forward to our annual preordained slugfest when I got a call from Erica (Naughton, NCAA “Selection Committee”) ordering me to face off against this Cornell school, or something. Never heard of them. Then we had to keep playing more until she was satisfied. I told her, ‘Yeah, sure I’ll play Rutgers, and beat them in the friggin’ regular season finale a month ago’, but she had none of it. Politics, maybe.”

Less understanding were the players themselves. All-American freshman Maya Moore wondered aloud why so many other teams faced off across the country. “I don’t understand what these ‘Regional Tournaments’ are. Is this like, for charity?” Moore said, flipping through the scouting reports of Tennessee offenses as she has each day since mid-October. “It’s very weird.”

“What the hell’s a Texas A&M?” asked Tennessee forward Candace Parker. Read More

Oh, To Be A Pop Fly On The Wall

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Strategery

From the Washington Post:

The team will host an exhibition game Saturday against the Baltimore Orioles before opening the season with a nationally televised game Sunday night against the Atlanta Braves — one in which (President) Bush is scheduled to both throw out the first pitch and appear in the ESPN broadcast booth.

I’m sure we’ll see the hard-hitting journalism Jon Miller is noted for, as well as the factual accuracy of a Joe Morgan to back us up. I think we see where this is going…

“I remember playing with Pete Rose on that ’76 team, he told me, ‘Curveball, fastball, all it is is baseball, and that’s what you need to win.'”
“Slider down and away.”
“You know Joe, it’s, it’s a crime that Pete Rose idn’t in the Hall of Fame. He knew what he was doing, and the punishment, you know, the punishment…”
“Fit?”
“Fit, and he’s served his time. He served his time and did his shame and now it should be time for him to get that Hall of Fame ticket.”
“The pitch, swung on and looped up over second, a base hit for Lo Duca puts a man on with one out in the third.”
“Speaking of Pete, I remember late 1983 I knew we were going different ways from the Phillies, and I told him, ‘I’m gonna know when you get to 4,000 hits, and I’m gonna be there when you get past Cobb. And I went to Oakland and he went to Montreal…”
“Ball high to Ryan Church, and the count is 1-0.”
“He got his 4,000th hit!”
“Absolutely did, Mr. President!”
“Hahahahaha…”
“Heh heh heh heh heh heh…”
“Heh, yes, there’s a strike…”
“Heh…I remember that game too. You know, you never forget a number like 4,000.”
“………”
“………”
“………”
“………”
“………”
“So, Laura played softball in high school, is that right?”

Washington Nationals manager Manny Acta will catch the first pitch, not catcher Paul Lo Duca, almost certainly because of his presence in the Mitchell Report. The pitch will be a strike, as the President has demonstrated time and again his effective leadership through . This will also be the highlight of the Nationals’ season.

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