Archive for July, 2013

WATERCOOLER CHAT: CESPEDES WINS HOME RUN DERBY, METTA WORLD PEACE TO KNICKS, CELTICS NOT TANKING

BASEBALL

The all-star festivities are in full swing, and the big event before the game took place last night.  That’s right, the Home Run Derby.  This year’s Derby featured some of baseball’s best sluggers:  Home run leader Chris Davis, Mets clean-up batter David Wright, Tigers basher Prince Fielder, and even the young Bryce Harper from the Nationals.  But, when it was time for the contest, the one that rose to the top was an unlikely hero in Yoenis Cespedes from the Athletics.  Cespedes was crushing balls all over the field, and made it to the finals against Bryce Harper.  And in the end, it was Cespedes winning the whole event by one home run.  A big win for the Oakland Athletics and the American League.

BASKETBALL

In the NBA, it’s official… Metta World Peace will officially become a member of the New York Knicks next season.  Metta said that he’s going to New York because he wants to WIN!  He said that he doesn’t care if he’s starting or sweeping floors, he just wants to win.  That’s certainly the right attitude that the Knicks are looking for from Metta.  And remember that Metta is from New York… Queens.  He went to St. Johns and put them back on the map in the late 90’s, reigniting the program.  Having him back is a very big deal for the Knicks.  This will likely be the place where he closes out his career.

Finally, a bit of gossip from the NBA.  When the Celtics traded away their stars Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to Brooklyn, many assumed that the Celtics were just giving up; that they knew they couldn’t compete with their current squad and would be better off rebuilding.  Plus, they shipped their quality head coach Doc Rivers to Los Angeles, and hired a young coach in Brad Stevens who is perfect for a rebuilding effort.  So, basically, everybody thought that they were going to tank this season, and hope to grab a good lottery spot in a loaded draft next year.  Monday, Celtics GM Danny Ainge publicly said that the Celtics have no intention of tanking — that they are simply rebuilding and are playing to win.  Sometimes you just have to let your fans know that you’re trying.  Whether they believe you is another story.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: DAVIS HOME RUN KING, CARLY RAE JEPSEN’S FIRST PITCH, KNICKS WANT METTA WORLD PEACE

BASEBALL

Baltimore’s Chris “Crush” Davis is on fire right now.  In the post steroids era, this guy is truly a player to root for.  This weekend, in a home game against the Toronto Blue Jays, Chris Davis hit his 37th home run of the season.  With that dinger, Chris Davis ties the baseball record for home runs before the all-star break.  Many people are saying that if Davis can hit 62 home runs (1 more than Roger Maris’ original famous record), then he would be the true home run king, as Mark McGuire and Barry Bonds used Performance Enhancing Drugs.  It will be fun to watch Davis try.  Baltimore 7, Toronto 4.

Typically when someone hits a certain level of athletic or entertainment fame, they will, at at least one point, throw a first pitch at a baseball game.  Some of have impressed with their laser precise strikes, many just try to get it all the way to the catcher, and a few, well, completely embarrass themselves.  Well the latest addition to the later category is “Call Me Maybe” singer Carly Rae Jepsen.  Over the weekend, she threw out the first pitch at a Tampa Bay Rays game, and some are calling it worst first pitch of all-time.  That’s an impressive list to be on.  Perhaps they have a Hall of Fame for worst first pitch throws.

BASKETBALL

And in the NBA, when the Los Angeles Lakers waive Metta World Peace, many people wondered who would want the defensive stopper going forward.  It’s likely a contender would want him on their roster, but they do have to consider Metta’s behavioral issues.  This weekend, Metta first said that he didn’t want to play for an NBA team — that he wanted to play in China.  A weird request, but it’s likely that Metta could make about 40% more money in China than he could in the NBA.  He has a proven track record, and China likes when American basketball players in their prime play in their league.  But now, it looks like there is mutual interest between Metta and the New York Knicks.  The Knicks have reached out, and Metta has said that he would love to be a Knick.  It seems like Metta only likes playing in major cities with big media markets.  He wants and always will want the spotlight.


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WATERCOOLER CHAT: METTA WORLD PEACE GIVEN AMNESTY, NETS WANT DEPTH, PUIG NOT AN ALL STAR, JETER MRI

BASKETBALL

In the NBA, it’s the end of an era in Los Angeles. After a handful of successful seasons, the Lakers have decided to amnesty Metta World Peace.  This means that they can get rid of him without having to pay full price.  They also save $14 million dollars on the luxury tax.  Metta World Peace came to the Lakers as Ron Artest, and was instrumental to their championship run in 2010.  In fact, Metta hit the amazing 3-pointer that gave the Lakers the win in Game 7 against the Celtics that year.  Kobe was cold, but Metta was hot that night.  Now a free agent, it’s likely that some contender out there will find a use for World Peace, but they still have to factor in his age and behavioral issues.

Elsewhere in the NBA, it clearly looks like the Brooklyn Nets are going for a championship run this year.  It’s only their second year in existence, but they want to get on the map as New York’s team.  Earlier this off-season, they brought in Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to pair with Joe Johnson and Deron Williams.  And now they have brought in free agent forward Andrei Kirilenko.  Kirilenko played his glory days with the Jazz, but it’s likely that he still has a strong enough skill set to give the Nets some depth.  This team has to prove they can gel on the court, as well as get along with first time head coach Jason Kidd, but on paper… they look great.

BASEBALL

Yasiel Puig has been the talk of the baseball world the last month.  Many fans wanted to see him in the all-star game, but it was controversial because Puig has only been playing for a little over a month.  He didn’t make the starting line-up, and yesterday it was revealed that he didn’t land a reserve spot as well.  Instead, the fans voted in Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman.  Puig may not be an all-star this year, but there is a very good chance he will be next year.  Plus, it’s possible that he will lead the Dodgers deep into the post-season.

Also in baseball, the Yankees’ Derek Jeter finally came back to the lineup on Thursday, but he had to be pulled out in the 8th inning with a tight thigh muscle injury. He’ll be getting an MRI and all fans are waiting on the news.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: BYNUM PICK CAVALIERS, TEAGUE TO HAWKS, ROCKER SAYS BASEBALL BETTER WITH STEROIDS

BASKETBALL

Andrew Bynum has picked a new squad:  The Cleveland Cavaliers.  The Cavs gave Bynum a 2-year deal, and now, on paper, the Cavs have a pretty loaded squad in Kyrie Irving, Andrew Bynum, and #1 draft pick Anthony Bennett. If all goes well, the Cavs could be competing for one of the top seeds in the Eastern Conference.  Great off-season for the Cavs.  However, Bynum could also still be injury prone and sit on the bench the whole year.

Elsewhere in free agency news, it looks like emerging star point guard Jeff Teague is moving on from the Atlanta Hawks.  Wednesday, he signed the Milwaukee Bucks offer sheet.  This raises questions, given that many thought the Bucks were going to stick with their star point guard and team leader Brandon Jennings.  But clearly they didn’t want to pay him a ton of money, so they brought in Teague, who is arguably just as good.  It will be interesting to see where Jennings ends up.  Many teams could use a point guard like him.

BASEBALL
For the past 10 years or so there has been a war on Performance Enhancing Drugs.  Baseball purists love the game, and there is no word more evil than steroids.  Steroids and PEDs led to what many thought should be asterisks in the record books.  Some players were suspended for full seasons for using borderline PEDs.  Basically, everyone wanted them out of the game.  Now, former Braves relief pitcher John Rocker, one of the faces of the steroids era, said that baseball was a better product during that era.  It was a controversial statement, obviously,  but  many do claim that the  home run battle between Mark McGuire and Sammy Sosa in 1998 was some of the best entertainment the sport had ever provided.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: NASH KNEW HOWARD NOT HAPPY, ELLIS TESTING, STAFFORD LION’S QB OF THE FUTURE

BASKETBALL

In the NBA, even though the ship has already sailed on Dwight Howard in Los Angeles, Lakers point guard and future Hall of Famer Steve Nash told the media a few interesting tidbits.  He was in the room when the Lakers tried to court Howard, and he said that the Lakers organization had no chance of keeping him.  Nash knew that Howard wasn’t happy as a Laker, and Dwight reemphasized that he never really felt embraced by the team or the city.  Nash saw clearly that Howard didn’t like playing basketball under D’Antoni’s system, and knew that Dwight was a lost cause.  The whole move did in fact seem desperate.  When a player has decided to move on, wish him luck, and go forward with Plan B.

Elsewhere in NBA free agency, with the top free agents slowly coming off the board, the next in-line as the ‘hot’ free agent is Monta Ellis.  Ellis spent a year and half with the Milwaukee Bucks after coming over from the Warriors.  The Bucks wanted him back, but Ellis is testing the free market because he knows this will likely be his last big pay day as an NBA player, so he needs to ensure he gets as much money in his pocket as possible.  Tuesday, he said he has narrowed his choices down to 4 teams:  Atlanta Hawks, Dallas Mavericks, Sacramento Kings, and Charlotte Bobcats.

FOOTBALL

Finally, in the NFL, it looks like the Lions are going with Matt Stafford as their quarterback of the future.  They are apparently going to give him a big contract worth $76.5 million over the next five years.  And $41.5 million of that is guaranteed money.  The Lions had an off year last year, but they still have a bevy of young talent, and an emerging Iron Curtain type defense.  Having a sturdy quarterback like Stafford at the helm means that they don’t have to worry about the QB position going forward, and can continue building their strategy and roster around him.  This seems like a smart move by the Lions.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: LAKERS NEED CENTER, BYNUM A BIG RISK, UFC’S SILVA MAKES HUGE MISTAKE

BASKETBALL

In the NBA, free agency is still in full effect.  The Los Angeles Lakers were the big losers in the Dwight Howard sweepstakes, and now they have a hole down low at the center position.  They needed to fill that immediately, and there was really only one candidate (besides Andrew Bynum) to fill the position.  It was a player that started his career in LA — with the Clippers.  Chris Kaman will be joining the Lakers for a year.  Kaman is getting into the later part of his career, and he’s probably not the best fit for Mike D’Antoni’s fast paced system, but then again, it doesn’t look like the Lakers will be winning much this coming season.

And speaking of Andrew Bynum above, it appears there is some competition for the big man.  Even though he had an injury that kept him out all of last season, teams still clamoring for a big man are very interested in Bynum.  The first suitor… the Dallas Mavericks.  They lost big in the Dwight Howard contest, and now they are scrambling to land some kind of flashy acquisition to get their fan base excited.  Grabbing Bynum would qualify, but he is a huge risk, not only because of his injuries, but because of his attitude.  The Lakers had problems with him, and he has a reputation for being a sour player on the team.  And now, it appears that the Cavs are interested in grabbing Bynum on a 1-year deal.  The Cavs have been busy this off-season, grabbing key role players to help out their emerging star Kyrie Irving and their #1 draft pick Anthony Bennett.  Will Bynum sign on?

UFC

Finally, in UFC news, Anderson Silva lost a big fight this past weekend to Chris Weidman.  Silva is widely considered the greatest UFC fighter ever, but he made a huge mistake against Weidman.  In the second round, Silva got cocky and began taunting Weidman, but Weidman caught Silva off guard landing two punches to the face.  That sent Silva to the ground, where Weidman jumped on him and smashed him in the face again.  Silva knows he messed up, and now wants a rematch.  The headlines today read that Silva-Weidman II will be the biggest match in UFC history.  There is no date set yet, but every UFC fan will be looking forward to this one.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: WIMBLEDON FINALS, DWIGHT HOWARD SAGA ENDS, ASIK DOESN’T WANT TO PLAY WITH HOWARD

TENNIS

Both the Men and Women Finals at Wimbledon.  For the women, it was a battle of two underdogs, as no female tennis player ranked in the Top 10 made it to the Finals this year.  Instead, we got to watch two players at the top of their game, #23 ranked Sabine Lisicki vs. #15 Marion Bartoli.  Lisicki was the favorite coming into the match, but everyone underestimated just how dominant Bartoli has been playing.  Bartoli again took the reigns in this match and beat Lisicki in convincing fashion, giving France the Wimbledon female crown.

And in the Men’s final, we got the match-up that everyone expected in #1 Novak Djokovich vs. #2 Andy Murray.  Murray has been playing some of the best tennis of his life, but he also had the added pressure from his home country:  Great Britain.  Even though they are the host of the biggest tennis tournament of the year, they haven’t had a player win it in 77 years.  Andy Murray looked like their best chance in a long time.  He made the championship match last year against Roger Federer, but fell short.  Even though he got all the way back, could he close things out against the mighty Djokovich?   The answer:  A Big Yes.  Murray didn’t even lose a set.  He was that laser-focused on winning this thing.  In the post-match speeches, Djokovich was humble, saying that he knew how much this meant to Great Britain, and he was honored to be a part of the event.  Murray ends the 77-year drought, while his supermodel girlfriend, Kim Sears, watched on with proud eyes.

BASKETBALL

And in the NBA, the big story of the weekend was the ultimate end to the Dwight Howard saga.  For the past week, he has had the Mavericks, Rockets, Lakers, Warriors, and Hawks all after him begging for him to sign.  Dwight, having an ego, loved every minute of this.  But, this weekend, Dwight finally announced his decision… the Houston Rockets.  Dwight said via Twitter that he thought the Rockets were the best fit for him out of all his selections.  He didn’t want to stay in LA because he didn’t enjoy playing in head coach Mike D’Antoni’s system nor playing second fiddle to Kobe Bryant.  Houston has a good  chance to win a championship, as they have an emerging superstar in James Harden to team with Howard.

Finally, in other news related to the Howard saga, current emerging star center Omar Asik said that he didn’t want to play in Houston alongside Dwight.  He didn’t want to come off the bench, and has asked for a trade.  However, it appears that the Rockets brass are going to ignore and deny his request.  That’s rare.  Plus, it was rumored that the Rockets were trying to get Hawks all-star Josh Smith to create a ‘Big Three’ in Houston, but on Sunday it was reported that Smith had signed with the Detroit Pistons.  Bummer for the Rockets, but this makes the Pistons suddenly look very interesting on paper.  They have a huge front court with Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe, and now a flashy scoring small forward in Smith.  Pair all that with their up-and-coming point guard Brandon Knight and they may have a playoff bound squad.  It’s going to be an exciting season!

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: DWIGHT’S COURTING, CLIPPERS GET SERIOUS, YASIEL PUIG TALK OF THE TOWN

BASKETBALL

In the NBA, the free agency wheeling and dealing has begun.  The big ticket item right now is of course Dwight Howard, and yesterday he met with the Mavericks and the Los Angeles Lakers about what they could possibly offer him if he went to/remained with their franchise.  They each gave their best pitch — the Mavs apparently saying they will make him their franchise player, and the Lakers having Kobe Bryant tell Dwight that he was passing the baton of Laker leadership over to him.  They gave their best pitch, and now it’s up to Dwight.
Elsewhere in the NBA, while the Lakers essentially beg for Dwight to stay in town, their inner-city rivals, the Los Angeles Clippers, are getting very serious about winning.  They already brought in a fantastic coach in Doc Rivers, and now they swung a very intelligent 3-team deal.  They have finally decided to deal one of their most attractive trade chips in Eric Bledsoe.  Bledsoe was a late first round draft pick who turned out to be a fantastic and explosive back-up point guard.  A lot of teams wanted him, and the Clippers liked the Suns offer the best.  Phoenix will receive Bledsoe, and in a 3-team deal with the Milwaukee Bucks, the Clippers will receive sharpshooting J.J. Reddick and a new back-up point guard in the Suns’ Jared Dudley.  That’s exactly what they needed, and if Rivers can turn that team around, they will be a very tough team to beat next season.

BASEBALL

Finally, in baseball, the Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig is the talk of the sports world right now.  Once in a generation a player comes along that transcends the sport.  Now it’s Yasiel Puig, a Cuban 22-year old who seems to be able to send just about any pitch over the wall.  Tuesday night, he hit his 8th home run in just over a month, and is now batting .443.  This guy is built like an ox, and has excellent fielding skills as well.  Some have dubbed him the next Bo Jackson, a marvelous athlete who can seemingly do anything.  The Dodgers shut out the Rockies and look to be back on track.  If they keep this up, we may just see them in the post-season.  LA Dodgers 8, Colorado 0.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: BLOCKBUSTER TRADES IN BOSTON, DWIGHT HOWARD’S COURTING, BRAZIL WINS CONFEDERATION CUP

BASKETBALL

The major news from the weekend came out of the NBA.  It’s rare to see a blockbuster trade, but they can happen, and typically happen around draft time when teams are most optimistic and think that draft picks can turn into superstars.  The Boston Celtics have publicly admitted they are rebuilding, most notably because they shipped off their coach Doc Rivers (who won them a championship) because he said he didn’t want to be part of their rebuilding effort.  Now the Celtics have decided to shed more skin, shipping off their most name brand players Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to the Brooklyn Nets.  That officially ends the Big 3 era in Boston, with Ray Allen jumping ship for Boston last summer.

In exchange, the Celtics got a bunch of first round picks and a handful of players who likely won’t remain in a Celtic uniform for a full year and a solid young player in Marshon Brooks who can put up points pretty quickly.  As for the Nets, they now have a star-studded (albeit slightly old) starting line up which they believe can now challenge Miami in the East.

Elsewhere in the NBA, the Dwight Howard sweepstakes have begun with Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, and of course Los Angeles all bending over backwards to get him.  Apparently, Kobe and Steve Nash have already reached out trying to keep him in a Lakers jersey.  On the other hand, Dirk Nowitzki said he would love to have Howard next year, and a local Dallas restaurant has offered Howard free chicken fingers for life if he dons a Mavs jersey.  Then again, Howard might want to return to his home town Atlanta to try and get them a championship.  Either way, you can bet that Howard is enjoying the courting.  It’s good for his ego, and it seems catering to his ego seems to be a big factor in getting him on any team.

SOCCER

It was the Finals of the Confederation Cup in Brazil.  The Confederations Cup is one of the biggest soccer tournaments in the world.  It’s played every few years, and is typically viewed as the warm-up to the World Cup, as it is usually hosted in the same country as the World Cup.  This year it was in Brazil, and featured a championship match-up between Brazil and Spain.  Everyone expected a great game, but Brazil simply took care of business on their own soil.  A nice victory for the Brazilians, but you can be sure that a mighty team like Spain is squarely focused on the real victory:  The World Cup in 2014.

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