Archive for May, 2011
It was a pretty crazy Memorial weekend in the sports world.
First, the traditional Indianapolis 500, one of the biggest races on the circuit. And this year, they had a spectacular, unbelievable finish. JR Hildebrand was set to win the race. He had maintained the lead throughout the final laps, and could already taste the milk (the traditional victory beverage of choice) on his tongue. But, in the very final lap, on the VERY LAST quarter-of-a-mile JR Hildebrand‘s car skidded against the wall (something that isn’t abnormal) and blew his tire. It caused his car to swerve out of control and he failed to cross the finish line first. This cleared the way for Dan Wheldon to cruise past the checkered flags and win the Indy 500 at just 23 years old. This is one of the most epic last second collapses in sports history. So close, and so guaranteed, just to lose it just seconds before you thought you were going to win it all. Tough break for Hildebrand.
And in college football, the end of an era. After some serious recruiting violations and that his players were exchanging Ohio State memorabilia for tattoos of all things (only a small part of a bigger picture that players were accepting gifts), Jim Tressel will resign as head coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes football program. Tressel helped build Ohio State into the juggernaut that it is today, and this specific problem wouldn’t have been such a big deal if Tressel didn’t lie to NCAA officials about it. As they say, the cover-up is typically worse than the crime. Now, with Tressel out, assistant coach Luke Fickell has been selected as the interim coach while the program sorts things out. And it’s almost certain that their star QB, Terrelle Pryor, won’t don a Buckeye jersey next season. He’s under scrutiny for accepting cars and other gifts. This could be the demise of the Ohio State football program over the next couple seasons, which opens the door for new royalty in the Big 10 (which now includes Nebraska).
And finally, Tuesday is the night we’ve all been waiting for: Game 1 of the NBA Finals between the Dallas Mavericks and Miami Heat. The Finals have a different playoff schedule. It’s 2-3-2. The Heat will host the first two games, then we head to Dallas for the next 3, and back to Miami for the last two. The main storylines: Can the Big 3 that Miami assembled this off-season finish their quest of domination and start a championship run? After all, if they win this, they are only going to get better next year as others will want to join the party. Will Dirk Nowitzki finally add a title to his resume? And you can add Jason Kidd to that as well (who’s 38 and still hungry for a ring). Will Dallas’ bench be too much for Miami to handle? Will LeBron James show up in the ultimate clutch when it counts the most? It’s going to be a very exciting series. And it all starts Tuesday night on ABC at 9pmET.No comments
In the NBA, it was Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Miami Heat and the Chicago Bulls. The Heat led 3-1 in the series, and almost everyone has them penciled in to play Dallas in the Finals. But knocking out the Bulls isn’t exactly an easy task. Derrick Rose and the Bulls came out ready to defend their turf. They led at the half AND at the end of the 3rd quarter. Then, they started to run away with things in the 4th quarter. Rose had a terrific night with 25 points and 8 assists and it looked like Miami would get the chance to close out the series on their home floor. Except… the game wasn’t over yet. The Bulls had a 12 point lead with 4 minutes to go, but then they just self-combusted. They couldn’t buy a basket, and LeBron and Wade caught fire from the other end. They couldn’t miss. Down 7, Wade hit a 3-pointer and was fouled by Rose. That’s a 4 point play to put them within 3. The Bulls couldn’t convert, and LeBron hit a clutch 3 to tie the game. The Bulls couldn’t convert again, and LeBron hit a jumper to give them the lead. Suddenly, the Bulls went from planning for Game 6 to being down by 3 with 12 seconds to go. And they couldn’t get a decent shot off. Rose had to hurl up a prayer that came nowhere close to the hoop and the Miami Heat punched their ticket to the NBA Finals. This off-season, the Bulls need to get Rose some serious offensive help. They need a second weapon. Miami 83, Chicago 80.
In baseball, the San Francisco Giants suffered a major blow to their 2011 campaign to repeat as World Series champions. In a game against the Florida Marlins, Florida’s Scott Cousins, who has a reputation for slamming into catcher’s at home plate, decided to give it a go against Posey. Cousins won that battle as Posey was seriously hurt. It turns out that Buster Posey broke his leg and will most likely be out for the season. This has prompted an outcry from the baseball community that it’s time to start protecting the catcher’s better. That might be better equipment or even creating a ruling that outlaws such violent blows. For the Giants, this is a a major setback, and if their lucky enough to get Posey back, he’s such a good hitter, that they may move him to a safer position for the remainder of his career. Probably right field.
Finally, in college football, some very bad news for the University of Southern California. They had appealed to the NCAA over recruiting violations they incurred last year. But, the NCAA has ruled that they did seriously violate recruiting regulations and the punishment will persist. So what’s the specific punishment? They had to forfeit any post season play last year, and this year they are banned from playing in a bowl game or the Pac 12 title game. And if you thought that was bad, get this, they will lose 30 scholarships over the next 3 years. That means that they won’t be able to recruit the best in the country (as they typically do) and you could see some very bad seasons for USC over the past 5 years. Many think this is specifically to torture Lane Kiffin, who the NCAA feels was responsible for a strong portion of this when he was an assistant coach in the middle of the decade. The man who got away… Pete Carroll, who was guilty of these violations as well, but jumped ship for the NFL just in time. He cashed out at his highest value.No comments
In the NBA, it was Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Dallas Mavericks. The Mavs led the series 3-1, but the Thunder had no intention of going quietly. They came out full force playing the best basketball they’ve played in the series thus far. Russell Westbrook, criticized throughout the playoffs, was a scoring machine. He finished the night with 31 points and 8 rebounds. The Thunder actually led throughout most of the game, but, with this young team, it’s all about closing. And that, they simply can’t seem to do. With just 2 minutes left, the Mavs came back and took a 4 point lead that would pretty much ice the game. Shawn Marion was actually the man for the Mavs last night with 26 points, 8 rebounds, and 3 blocks. The Thunder are out, but proved to the league that they are a top team and a squad to be reckoned with throughout the next decade. The Mavs are headed to the finals full of veterans thirsty for a ring. Dallas 100, OKC 96.
Elsewhere in the NBA, the Lakers have found their new man. Yesterday, they agreed to terms with former Cleveland Cavaliers coach Mike Brown. The deal is reported to be worth $18.25 million over 4 years. Brown is a defense minded coach, who said he thinks by mastering that you give yourself a chance to win championships. However, Brown was hired by GM Mitch Kupchak. The decision to hire brown was never run by Kobe Bryant or any of the Lakers players or coaching staff. In fact, Kobe had endorsed Lakers assistant coach Brian Shaw for the job. But, management is management and Kobe will have to make do. Brown was the most winning coach in Cleveland Cavaliers history, and his winning percentage is the 5th all-time in NBA history (as of now). We’ll see if this move can guide the Lakers back to the throne. But one thing is for sure… they need to make some serious roster moves.
Finally, in baseball, it was reported yesterday that seriously wounded Giants fan, Bryan Stow, who was beaten into a coma in the parking lot of Dodger stadium, received a very significant donation yesterday. It appears that, on the down low without reports to the papers, that former Giants slugger (and superstar baseball record holder) Barry Bonds said he would pay for the college funds for both of Stow’s children. Bonds said he knows that that is important to them and that he will take care of it. Bonds has a reputation for being a selfish, arrogant cheater. But, you have to admire a selfless move like this. He didn’t even alert the media, it just got out. Kudos to Bonds for a dignified move.No comments
In the NBA, it was Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals. The Heat led 2-1 going into the game, and the Bulls pretty much knew that if they fell behind 3-1, the series was effectively over. This is why the Bulls came out red-hot. It looked like a different Bulls team. Derrick Rose was rocking, blazing, and dunking on the Heat. He finished with 23 points on the night. Plus, Dwayne Wade had a sluggish night not even scoring in the second half until the very end. It looked like the Bulls were actually going to eek out a win, but, in the 4th, the Miami Heat came surging back. You can’t underestimate a furious LeBron James who hasn’t won a title yet. He was dominant and tied up the score at the end. Rose had a chance to win the game on a last second shot, but he air-balled and we headed to overtime. Then, in OT, it was all Heat. The Bulls simply did not have the fire power for the Heat, and the Big 3 nabbed their 3rd straight win, and are now one game away from The Finals. Miami 101, Chicago 93.
Elsewhere in the NBA, with the departure of Phil Jackson in Los Angeles, the Lakers are now in search of a skipper. The candidates: Rick Adelman, assistant head coach Brian Shaw (although he’s been participating in the interview process as well), former Clippers coach Mike Dunleavey, and former Cleveland Cavaliers coach Mike Brown. And, according to inside sources, Mike Brown is in the lead. This is shocking considering all the criticism of Brown while in Cleveland. They lost a lot of key playoff games, he made a load of questionable decisions, and he lost control of his team on multiple occasions. You could understand if Brown was in consideration on a lesser team, but for the Lakers???? That’s a head-scratcher. Plus, it’s reported that Brown is asking for a longer-term contract and a hefty sum of money. This seems extremely preposterous, but… it very well may happen.
And in hockey, the #1 seed in hockey, the Vancouver Canucks had a chance to earn their ticket to the Stanley Cup Finals. They had a chance to close-out at home against a San Jose Sharks team that hasn’t been good on the road. Vancouver got on the board first thanks to a clutch goal from Alex Burrows, but San Jose put up 2 of their own to take the lead. Would the Canucks blow this opportunity? But then, with 13 seconds left, Vancouver’s Ryan Kesler tied up the game at 2 to send it to overtime. It wouldn’t take one, but two overtimes before the Canucks’ Kevin Bleska hit a remarkable to shot to give the Canucks the lead and send them to the Stanley Cup Finals. Vancouver 3, San Jose 2.No comments
In the NBA, it was Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals between the Oklahoma City Thunder and Dallas Mavericks. The Thunder knew it was a do-or-die game, as they’re trailing 2-1 in the series, so they came out with a vengeance. The Mavericks didn’t know what to do with them — they were scoring from all over the court. Kevin Durant led the way with a huge night (29 points and 15 rebounds). They kept this commanding lead… until late in the 4th quarter, when oddly, the Mavs started coming back. Dirk turned into SuperDirk, and seemingly couldn’t miss. He was hitting shots so off-balance it made your head spin just watching it. Then, suddenly, the Mavs found themselves trailing by only 2 to go with under a minute left, and the Thunder’s Nick Collison fouled Nowitzki to send him to the line. Boom, he hit them both, and we’re tied. The Thunder had 3.5 seconds to do something with it, but Durant just launched it from 35 feet out AND got blocked. The Mavs had all the momentum going into overtime, and wrapped up the game with ease. Dirk finished with 40, and the Mavs now take a commanding 3-1 lead back to Dallas for Game 5. The Thunder will have to quickly regroup from this loss if they even want to stay competitive in the next game. Dallas 112, OKC 105.
Elsewhere in the NBA, Joakim Noah is being fined by the NBA for using anti-gay slurs at a Miami fan. He will have to pay-up $50,000 for snapping at a Heat crowd member. Yesterday, Noah apologized for the remark, but his teammate, Luol Deng, said that he could empathize with the situation. Deng said that players are humans too and it’s really difficult to just brush everything off. Deng continued by saying that he understood why Noah responded to that fan, that what the fan uttered was despicable. Luol mentioned that sometimes he feels like storming into the stands and punching someone. Carlos Boozer also defended Noah’s actions.
Finally, in the NFL, we still may be in the middle of a lockout, but that won’t stop some Tampa Bay Buccaneers players from working out. The Bucs surprisingly finished last season with a 10-6 record. They barely missed the playoffs, and are now looking to improve in the off-season. Now, their starting QB, Josh Freeman, is holding work-outs for any player that wants to come. It’s all about conditioning and getting ready for the season. Freeman said that as the team leader, he felt it was his responsibility to take charge and ensure that his team was ready. This is definitely one of the NFL’s up-and-coming teams and it’s actions like these that hint… this team will be ready for the best of them next season.No comments
The NBA playoffs rolled on through the weekend.
Saturday night gave us Game 3 between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Dallas Mavericks, except this time.. it was on the Thunder’s home floor. And it is very difficult to win in the OKC arena (just ask the Grizzlies and the Nuggets). However, it looked the like the Mavericks spent some serious time in the practice gym, because they came PREPARED! Right off the bat, the Thunder were ice-cold, and the Mavs… just the opposite. Shawn Marion and Dirk Nowitzki played perfect basketball, each scoring 18 on the night. Russell Westbrook had a solid game for OKC with 30 points, but the Thunder just couldn’t get in the groove. They made a rally in the 4th quarter, but it simply wasn’t enough, as the Mavericks rolled to a victory. Scott Brooks better get his team in gear for Monday night’s Game 4 battle, because if the Thunder lose this one, that’s most likely all she wrote. Dallas 93, OKC 87 (and the score isn’t an indicator of how much Dallas had control of this thing).
And Sunday night, it was a pivotal Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Chicago Bulls and the Miami Heat. The game was in Miami, and they had their typical white-out (all fans wore a white shirt) And you can bet the fans were raging in South Beach. With that said, the game was still pretty close, with both teams posting a solid defensive effort. Derrick Rose had a ‘good’, not ‘great’ night with 20 points, as the Heat are finding ways to shut him down. Boozer actually led all scorers for the Bulls with 26 points. But, the man of the night wasn’t Dwayne Wade or LeBron… it was the 3rd wheel, Chris Bosh. He caught fire, shooting 13-18 from the field and finishing with a whopping 34 points. Every time the Bulls got going, he would just silence them at the other end. And in the 4th, the Heat just pulled away to a 13 point lead. That gives them a 2-1 lead on the series, and the Bulls now face a must-win Game 4. Miami 96, Chicago 85.
Finally, some troubling news out of the baseball world. In the opening week of the season, a fan from San Francisco traveled to Los Angeles to see the Giants play the Dodgers in a heated rivalry. Sadly, because he was cheering hard for his team, Bryan Stow was beaten severely in the parking lot by two LA gang members. He went into a coma and has been in critical condition for the past few months. The entire baseball community is behind him and praying for a recovery. There is even a $200,000 reward for the men who did this, as they were still at large… until yesterday. It looks like the 20-man police squad that was put in charge of the case have taken the main assailant into custody. They had 620 suspects, and they think they now have their man: Giovanni Ramirez. It all came from a tip from his parole officer. The other suspect is still at large, but Giovanni is thought to have caused most of the damage. And you can bet that the city of Los Angeles will not take this cruel act lightly.No comments
In the NBA, it was Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Dallas Mavericks. The Mavs took Game 1 behind a stellar game from Dirk Nowitzki, but the Thunder came out with a fire in Game 2. Sure, the Mavs had the early lead, but the Thunder were just too poised and came roaring back. Kevin Durant had 24 points and James Harden, an emerging star, contributed 23. The Mavs kept it close, and, in a shocking move, Oklahoma City head coach Scott Brooks benched their all-star point-guard Russell Westbrook. Westbrook was ball-hogging it, not passing the ball, and Brooks sat him throughout the 4th quarter — even during crunch time. A few starters were benched actually in favor of a reserve bench that came on strong (led by excellent point-guard play from Eric Maynor). And those reserves were actually able to hold a narrow lead and win the game. This series is far from over — look for some amazing basketball in the coming week. OKC 106, Dallas 100.
And in some cycling news, it looks like superstar cyclist Lance Armstrong is under scrutiny again. Over the past few years, he has been scrutinized for taking some type of performance-enhancing substance during his miraculous Tour de France winning run from 1999 – 2005. Now, a former teammate is saying that he witnessed Armstrong take a substance called EPO — which is a blood-booster. The former teammate said he saw EPO in Armstrong’s refrigerator, in addition to testosterone and even a blood-transfusion. The Tour De France is for some of the most amazing athletes in the world, and hearing that they might try to give themselves a lift is no shock (after all they ride miles and miles up mountains). Sure, there’s still no proof that Armstrong is doping in any way, but the cycling community seems out to prove that he needed help of some kind.
Finally, some funny news from the NFL. John Beck recently dubbed himself the starting quarterback of the Washington Redskins. He did this in the media, despite the fact that the Skins have both Donovan McNabb and Rex Grossman on their roster AND players aren’t even talking to coaches right now. On top of that, John Beck hasn’t even won a game in the NFL. He’s been a perpetual back-up. Skins back-up Rex Grossman has come out and called himself the starter, saying, “I’m the starter here as far as I’m concerned”. Then Grossman followed this up by saying that his statement was just an assumption, because he doesn’t even know if the team will re-sign him. Grossman mused, “I’m assuming a lot of things right now”.10 comments
In the NBA, it was a pivotal Game 2 between the Miami Heat and the Chicago Bulls. Articles everywhere were saying that LeBron and D-Wade were seething after their Game 1 loss to Chicago, and were thirsty for revenge. And the Bulls knew that if they gave up a loss on their home court, they will have a very tough time winning in Miami. So, in essence, the Heat couldn’t afford to fall down 0-2, and the Bulls are trying to avoid losing home court advantage in the series. Oddly, the Bulls came out rather sluggish. Derrick Rose was having an off-shooting night, and never really got it going at any point during the game. He finished with a decent 21 points, but well below his average. The Bulls also struggled to rebound the ball. Miami wasn’t playing lights-out basketball, but they were doing enough to stay ahead of the Bulls. And remember, this series contains the NBA’s #1 and #2 defenses, so it’s hard for either team to accomplish anything offensively. But, in the end, LeBron recovered from his disappointing performance in Game 1 to put up 29 points this time around and eventually topple the Bulls in the 4th quarter. Now the series heads back to Miami tied at a game a piece. Miami 85, Chicago 75.
Elsewhere in an update from the Western Conference Finals, Oklahoma City Thunder’s Kendrick Perkins (previously of the Boston Celtics) had some interesting words to share with Mavs center Tyson Chandler. Perkins publicly said that he didn’t like Chandler, and that he’s a dirty player. In an exact quote, Perkins stated, “Me and Tyson never got along. I’m serious. He don’t like me, I don’t like him and that’s pretty much how it’s been. Everybody always looks at me as kind of like a dirty player if you’re on the opposite team, but he’s just as dirty as anybody else.” These two players got in a tussle in game 1, with a double technical foul being issued. But, Tyson Chander later responded, “I have nothing against him. He won a championship with the Boston Celtics, and that’s where I’m trying to take my team. I mean, I’ve got respect for him, what he was able to accomplish. But all the chippy stuff, the after-the-ball stuff, that’s all nonsense and I’m not going to get involved with it.” Either way, the Mavs’ Dirk Nowitzki looks unstoppable right now, so the Thunder better have a solid game plan put together if they hope to steal a game in Dallas.
Finally, in some more NBA gossip news — an argument over errecting statues. Los Angeles’ Staples Center, among other major stadiums, puts up statues outside of the greatest athletes to play for any of the hosted franchises (or notable sports figures made famous there). Currently, they have Magic Johnson, Jerry West, Chick Hearn (the famous Lakers announcer) Wayne Gretzky and Oscar De La Hoya. But now, Kareen Abdul-Jabbar has publicly stated that he feels he deserves to have the 6th statue outside. After all, Jabbar did help the Lakers win 5 championships, and won six MVP awards. Kareen became a household name around the country during the 70s and 80s. But, most notably, he’s a Los Angeles legend, not only winning for the Lakers, but also dominating for John Wooden’s UCLA Bruins (although under the name Lew Alcinder). We’ll see how this turns out.No comments
In the NBA, it was time for more basketball action. Last night, we got to see Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Dallas Mavericks (who would have thought both the #1 and #2 seeds would be out — Spurs and Lakers). The Thunder were only coming off one day of rest, while the Mavericks have been taking it easy for a week after sweeping the Lakers. However, the Thunder got out to a hot start behind Kevin Durant, who had the Mavericks up by 7 at one point. But, unfortunately for OKC, Dirk Nowitzki caught FIRE! He just kept shooting and kept draining buckets. And when he didn’t get a shot off, he was fouled and sent to the line. The Thunder simply had no answer for him. Dirk finished the night with a whopping 48 points as the Mavs take Game 1 of the series.
Also, in the NBA, last night was the much anticipated draft lottery. However, this year, there isn’t a clear cut #1 guy (i.e. no Blake Griffin or Derrick Rose type player). It’s just sort of a bunch of good players, but no clear superstars. So who would win? The Utah Jazz got the #3 pick, but that was due to their trade of Deron Williams to the New Jersey Nets. The Minnesota Timberwolves locked up the #2 spot, and the #1 went to the city that most deserved it… Cleveland. Yep, the Cavaliers will be picking #1 on draft night AND #4 (on account of a trade), giving them some serious rebuilding chips, assuming that they play it right. Many think that Duke’s Kyrie Irving will be the #1 overall, but there’s no guarantee. There’s always UConn star Kemba Walker, Arizona power forward Derick Williams or a host of big, strong, and fast European players. We shall see how it all pans out.
Finally, in baseball, the New York Yankees were trying to put an end to their losing streak, but they would have to do it against the top team in the AL East — the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Fortunately for the Yanks, Alex Rodriguez came to life. He had 2 home runs to help the Yankees get a 2-1 lead. However, at the beginning of the season, the Yankees were putting runners on base, and those homers brought in a lot more runs. Either way, the Yankees got just enough clutch hits and RBIs towards the end to give them the insurance they needed to win the game and end their losing skid. And they better keep drinking this coffee, because the Red Sox are hot on their tail. NY Yankees 6, Tampa Bay 2No comments
WATERCOOLER CHAT: BRYCE WILL TAKE OVER FOR FATHER, ASTROS NEW MANAGMENT, MAZZARO A NIGHT TO REMEMBER
With no basketball playoff action yesterday, it was a very slow day in the sports world. However, still some interesting items of note:
In college basketball, with the rise and recent successes of Butler, VCU, and George Mason, mid-majors everywhere are no longer just thinking about getting into the NCAA Tournament. They think they can win the whole thing. Valparaiso, a successful mid-major in the 1990s under head Homer Drew, was responsible for one of the highlights you always see during the NCAA tournament when Homer’s son, Bryce, caught an amazing cross-court pass and hit a three to upset Ole Miss in the last second. It’s the highlight where he hits the three and then dives on the court. Bryce will now take over for his father as head coach of Valpo and hopefully get them back to the glory days. And, for fun, here is that highlight.
First, the Houston Astros, who have been pretty terrible since their World Series appearance a few years ago against the Chicago White Sox, will be under new ownership. The Astros were purchased by Houston businessman Jim Crane. Crane had been in the market to buy a team for quite a while now. He tried to nab the Texas Rangers, but it didn’t work out. Then he tried to get the Chicago Cubs — didn’t happen. But, while bad now, the Houston Astros are still in a large U.S. sports market, and if he can help them turn into a powerhouse in the National League, they could become a very lucrative franchise.
Finally, in baseball, the Cleveland Indians have been rocking this season. They’ve exceeded all expectations and sit in first place in the AL Central. And they gave Kansas City Royals pitcher Vin Mazzaro a night to remember. They put up, count ’em, 14 runs against Mazzaro (10 runs in the 4th inning alone) putting him in the record books as the the most runs let up by a Kansas City Royal in franchise history. Now, Kansas City is actually having their best season in years, but a shellacking like this certainly doesn’t help your fan base’s confidence. Mazzaro’s ERA will certainly suffer all season, but hopefully he gets to keep his job and have another go on the mound. Cleveland 19, Kansas City 1.No comments