Archive for June, 2010

WATERCOOLER CHAT: STRASBURG DEBUT, JAY-Z REFUSES TO SWAY LEBRON

BASEBALL

Today marks the long-awaited debut of Washington Nationals pitcher Stephan Strasburg. Strasburg was the top pick in last year’s draft, and the Nationals took this phenom pitcher who has a 100mph fastball and other pitchers that make opponents head spin.  Here’s the thing:  This is the biggest event in the history of the new Washington Nationals franchise.  This game against the Pittsburgh Pirates is completely sold out with standing room only.  In fact, it has a holiday nickname:  “Strasmas”.  If he dominates, Washington fans will have something to cheer about for the next 10 years.  And to add a cherry to it, the Nationals also drafted #1 this year, taking 17-year-old supposed baseball prodigy, Bryce Harper.

BASKETBALL

In the NBA, the heat is still on LeBron and New Yorkers want him bad.  However, when their hero of baseball, Derek Jeter, was asked to help recruit James, Jeter refused saying it didn’t make any sense.  Jeter likened the situation to Magic Johnson calling him if the Dodgers were hoping to court him.  It’s simply two different sports.  Furthermore, Jay-Z, the rap mogul, also refused to help sway LeBron.  Z said “We’re friends — we’ve still gotta hang out! I don’t want to convince somebody to do something, then have to see him and say, ‘Uh, yeah, we’re 4-30 … sorry.'”  This isn’t necessarily bad news for New York or New Jersey (Jay-Z is part owner of the New Jersey Nets), just 2 fewer people to lure LeBron to the East Coast.

Finally, in some more news out of the NBA, the Cleveland Cavaliers are hoping they can get LeBron to stay put.  They’ve already removed coach Mike Brown, which was quickly followed up with the resignation of General Manager Danny Ferry, and now they are trying to lure one of the nation’s top college coaches The Cavs have reportedly made an offer to Michigan State’s Tom Izzo. Izzo has been to 6 Final Fours, a very difficult task, and having a big name persona like Izzo to coach LeBron might keep him in town.  However, its likely that Izzo has a great thing going in Flint and will continue to coach the Spartans.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: GAME TWO NBA FINALS, STANLEY CUP FINALS

BASKETBALL

In the NBA, it was Game 2 of the Finals between the famous LA Lakers/Boston Celtics rivalry.  LA took Game 1 easily, absolutely crushing the Celtics, so you can trust the Celtics would be coming at the Lakers hard in Game 2.  Headed into the Game, Kobe Bryant was disturbed because of all the attention LeBron James is getting concerning his free agency.  Kobe came right out and said it, “I don’t give a [bleep] where he plays”.  After all, a free agent move shouldn’t overshadow the Finals, as winning rings is what its all about.

Well, the Celtics came out hard and strong.  The man of the first half was Ray Allen.  He had 7 3-pointers in the first half alone.  That’s an NBA Finals record.  He couldn’t be stopped.  The Lakers trailed by 9 with just 1 second left in the first half, but Kobe made a great steal and nailed a buzzer beater to put the Lakers down by 6.  To be down by only 6 points at the half after playing so terribly was a blessing for LA.

But, in the second half, the Celtics show continued.  Now it became the Rajon Rondo show.  He finished the night with a Triple-Double (19 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists).  On the other end, the Lakers just couldn’t get the spark they had in Game 1.  Kobe only had 25 on the night, and the guy that usually picks up the slack, Pau Gasol, had just 21 points.  This series is indicative of the NBA playoffs this year:  Completely unpredictable.  Game 1 seemed like the Lakers had Boston’s number and the series would be close to a sweep.  Game 2 looked like Boston was in complete control and were too savvy for the Lakeshow.  Either way, the next 3 games are in Boston, and with the mystery of this series, who knows, the Lakers could nab all 3 road games.  Boston 103, LA Lakers 94.

And in other Celtic related news, their assistant coach Tom Thibideau, who is known as a defensive mastermind, locked down a job as a head coach next year.  His new home:  Chicago, as the Bulls are hoping that Thibideau’s arrival coupled with his excellent reputation will help lure the big name free agents early.  Chicago thinks they still have a great chance at nabbing LeBron and they want to make their home look as inviting as possible.  Smart move by Chicago.

HOCKEY

And in the Stanley Cup Finals, the Chicago Blackhawks were in a dead heat with the Philadelphia Flyers.  With the series tied at 2 games a piece, the Blackhawks were hoping to show their dominance in Game 5.  The hero for the Blackhawks:  Dustin Byfuglien.  He has been terrific throughout the playoffs and had two goals on the night to help secure the series lead.  Chicago can close it out with just one more win, which would return the Blackhawks to the hockey prominence they had in the early 90s.  Chicago 7, Philadelphia 4.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: LAKERS ON FIRE, HOT COACHING CANDIDATE, BAD NEWS FOR US SOCCER

BASKETBALL

In the NBA, it was Game 1 of the Finals.  As you may well know, it was the classic Los Angeles Lakers v. Boston Celtics rivalry.  This rivalry has since been renewed in the past 3 years with each team taking a championship.  This year would mark the true champion of this era.  The strong and sturdy Lakers or the veteran-infused Celtics.  And add to this that the two fan bases have some serious bad blood and we have one heck of a series to look forward to.

Well, the game started with a Lakers edge.  Everyone expected Boston to be the shrewd defensive team, but the Lakers came out with lock-down defense.  Even so, the Celtics kept it close for most of the first half.  But Kobe caught fire towards the end of the 2nd quarter, giving the Lakers a 9 point lead heading into halftime.  Then, in the second half, it was simply… The Lakeshow.  Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol were on fire and practically outplayed all of the Celtics’ starting 5 by themselves.  Kobe finished with 30 points and 7 rebounds and Gasol finished with 23 points and 14 rebounds.  They allowed the Lakers to steamroll the Celtics in an easy Game 1 win.  You can bet that the Celtics will play harder than they’ve ever played in Game 2.  LA Lakers 102, Boston 89.

Elsewhere in the NBA, the hottest coaching candidate this off-season will be Boston Celtics’ defensive mastermind, Tom Thibodeau.  He has been responsible for their smothering defense during the past 3 seasons, and played a huge role in this comeback playoff run.  This off-season he will finally get a chance to be a head coach, and the New Orleans Hornets are the most interested party.  Their defense was abominable this season, and having a guy like Thibideau who can change the culture of the team may be just what the Hornets need.  However, it’s reported that Chicago likes Thibodeau too.  We’ll keep you posted.

SOCCER

Finally, in some bad news for the U.S. World Cup soccer team, forward Jozy Altidore is reportedly day to day with a right ankle sprain. He’s only 20 years old, but he was a key factor in the U.S.’ run in last year’s World Cup warm-up.  They even beat Spain!  Altidore is such a key piece in the World Cup puzzle that losing him is a major setback.  Plus, they have possibly the most anticipated match-up against England coming up next week.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: FLYERS WIN IN OT, BAD CALL COSTS PERFECT GAME, GRIFFEY JR RETIRES

HOCKEY

The Philadelphia Flyers trailed the Chicago Blackhawks 2-0.  They needed a win on their home ice to give themselves a fighting chance.  Well, the game was neck and neck and needed an overtime to settle the bout.  Then, in OT, the Flyers’ Claude Giroux put in a beautiful goal to give the Flyers the win.  Now the series is 2-1, and if you ever wanted to see what this whole “Hockey Thing” is all about, you NEED to check out this series.  The stakes are high, and the teams want it badly.  You can’t get much better than that.  Philadelphia 4, Chicago 3.

BASEBALL

But the main stories of the day were out of the baseball world.  First up, we’ve already had 2 perfect games this season.  That’s absolutely crazy!  And we’re not even at the all-star break yet.  Well, last night, Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga was in the midst of yet another perfect game.  There were 2 outs in the top of the ninth, and he just needed one more.  Well, on a routine grounder and throw to first base, the first base umpire called it SAFE.  Well, upon examining the replay, the evidence shows that the runner was clearly out.  The umpire then said after the game, “I just cost that kid a perfect game.  I thought he beat the throw, I was convinced he beat the throw, until I saw the replay.”  This is a once-in-a-career opportunity for a pitcher and Gallaraga won’t join the ranks in the history books.  But, kudos to him, he just smiled and walked off the field.  Detroit 3, Cleveland 0.

Finally, last night marked the end of one of sports most illustrious and talked about careers.  After 22 years, Ken Griffey Jr. is finally retiring from baseball.  Griffey entered the league in 1988, and had a fantastic run with the Seattle Mariners.  In the 90s, he was talked about as the best player in baseball and even one of the greatest athletes of all time.  He was also a hero to the Mariners and the Seattle community.  Then, he went to play for the Cincinnati Reds, and was plagued by injuries for most of this decade.  Last season, he came back to the Mariners for one last hurrah and allowed his fans to watch him one last time.  Keep in mind, kids who rooted for him when they were 10 are now married with kids.  He’s been a part of the sport for as long as they can remember.  He finished his career with 630 homers, and will be sorely missed.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: LEBRON LIKES CLEVELAND, THIN CHESTED LAKERS, END OF DONTRELLE

BASKETBALL

In the NBA, the LeBron James drama is just as hot as the NBA Finals.  He will appear on Larry King Live on Friday to discuss his future.  Well, apparently, in a preview of that interview, LeBron James publicly stated that Cleveland, his current team, has the edge to sign him.  LeBron said the fans in Cleveland made him feel comfortable over the last 7 years and that he is comfortable there.  Of course, nobody really knows what his intentions are, but there is no doubt that LeBron James has a sincere loyalty about him.

Elsewhere in the NBA, with the Finals set to begin Thursday night, some very interesting news has come out about the Lakers.  During the season, Phil Jackson called his team “thin-chested”, implying that they are soft when taking charges.  Well, against the Celtics, the Lakers are going to have to turn up their defensive intensity.  If they want to win, they will have to play 10x more physical then they’re accustomed to.  So, as incentive, the players are (supposedly) getting paid a $50 cash reward to take charges.  Remember, taking a charge call, while it may hurt a bit, gets your team the ball back.  And that extra possession might just be the difference between winning by 1-point or losing by 1-point at the end of the game.

BASEBALL

And in baseball, Dontrelle Willis was once one of the most exciting pitchers in the league.  He had an electric charisma about him, and a high kick off his wind-up that always made the highlight reel.  His glory years were with the Marlins, and he then he was traded as part of a blockbuster deal to the Detroit Tigers.  He was supposed to be their eventual ace.  Well, that experiment didn’t exactly work out, and yesterday marked the end of the Dontrelle Willis era in Detroit.  They traded him to the Arizona Diamondbacks for pitcher Billy Buckner and cash.  Perhaps Arizona is the place for Willis to get his swagger back.  Pitchers go through serious slumps, but some do rebound to become fantastic performers in clutch playoff situations.

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