Tips ? Suggestions? Praise? Death Threats?

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Somewhere, Danny Wuerffel is Smiling

Some thoughts on College Basketball Weekend:

Billy Packer looks horrible. The long sides and back of his hair make his baldness look more sickly. He needs to cut it short.

Oden's near-poster dunk struck me as an exact replica of Michael Jordan's corporate logo. I don't think Oden went all O.J. Mayo on everyone and thought about it as a marketing ploy - what could the Greg Oden logo be, though, if he were to have a logo? I imagine arms crossed, sort of like the And-1 guy, which I may or may not have thought seriously about tattooing on my body when I was 10 years old.

Jim Nantz and Billy Packer beat it to death during the broadcast, but Jeff Green was as disappointing as any Mets club that started Rey Ordonez at shortstop. Hibbert seemed to relish the role as leader of the club in Green's absence, at least until his 4th foul, but regardless, I'm excited: anybody shooting a sky hook with that haircut has a place in today's NBA. Good point from Simmons the other day (shuddering like a Simpson's character), but Hibbert had a lot to prove in that game, and even though Oden spent a lot of time on the bench in the first half, he may have elevated himself into the Top-15 of the draft in April.

Barring a reincarnation of Jason Kapono and the O'Bannon brothers, it looks like the Bruins will join Georgetown for the 3rd place game tomorrow - wait, they don't do that? Oh, they totally should. "We're #3" tee-shirts would sell like hotcakes. Or tee-shirts at the Final Four. Whichever. But it looks like the Gators and the Buckeyes in a battle for millions of dollars in recruiting money. Oh, and the championship. Gators by seven.

I'm all montaged out, but I did catch Miles Simon's ball-clutch in ('96?97?) that made me realize, "holy shit, it's been ten years since that happened." Right? So I thought back to those old CBS broadcasts and wondered if there were fewer ads televised. Because now, in between seemingly every possible lull, Jim Nantz plugs a CBS show, or I'm subliminally told to want a product. I know it's been going on forever, but somehow, this year, I'm overwhelmed by Chevy, and I too, like my beat down low. Something T.I. and I can agree on.

Wouldn't it be awesome if Oden gets drafted but holds out until the team that has drafted him signs Mike Conley Jr.? Charlotte was able to work that by nabbing Felton and Sean May two years ago, and while they haven't won anything of note yet, by adding a high pick they'll be as good as any in the East next year. Hell, I know five or six guys that I could run with that might compete in the East next year. Throw Oden and Conley on Boston with Paulie and Al Jefferson, and holy shit, that's a helluva a club.

How bad is it that I can be an NBA fan before being a Knicks fan and fantasize about Oden and Conley as Celtics? How bad is it that I've completely detached myself from the propaganda-spitting network who refuses to accurately critique the New York Knicks? How bad is it that they're actually, maybe, kind, close to possibly getting into the playoffs? About as bad as the head coach's contract extension. Sorry, I just threw up in my mouth a little bit.

For all the hype about these games, they've been relatively lame. Oden's foul trouble let Conley shine, but still, it felt like Georgetown couldn't get back in it, same way that UCLA has been overmatched since Afflallo picked up his third foul.

Oh, but Al Horford's dad? Awesome.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Gilbert Arenas Makes the NBA Slightly Relevant

As I've been watching the NCAA Tournament this past month one thought keeps popping up in my head ; the NBA is a terrible product. The college game is consistently more exciting and fun to watch. Numerous games have come down to the final possession and the players possess a true love for the game. On the other hand, the NBA is so void of talent that the only teams I consider watching are Phoenix, Dallas, and maybe Cleveland (if Lebron decides to show up). However, I now have to add Washington to the list because of the contagious Gilbert Arenas.

This past week Arenas maid two $10 bets with fans. Arenas bet that he would hit the game winning shot, and even though he didn't, I find this a breath of fresh air. The NBA needs characters like Arenas to spark more interest. His blog is actually worth a read, he yells Hibachi! when shooting, and this isn't the only time he made a bet. Obviously the NBA reprimanded Arenas for the bets, but how cool would it be if you could place bets with players at games? Maybe some incentive to perform would serve them well? Keep on living in your own world Agent Zero........

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Welcome to Massholeland

Let me start off by saying that I'm honored to have been selected as a blogger for this prestigious East Coast Bias blog group. I'm a 23-year old lifelong resident of New England, who grew up and currently resides in Beverly, MA. I graduated from Providence College in May 2006.
But enough about me personally, I'd like to use this forum to shed some further light into what it means to be a true Boston fan. Sure New York and Philadelphia each get a bad rap for fan-bases (which are both totally justified) but I think one group is currently very misunderstood, the Massholes from Massholeland. Or New Englanders as you outsiders would like to catergorize us.
As I recently came to realize, for the younger generations (teenagers to late-20 somethings) being a Boston fan has been a mostly beautiful thing. The Pats won three Super Bowls in four years and the Sox finally won a World Series in 2004. The only sense of the torture and hell that our parents and older relatives had to live with are the currently listless franchises known as the Celtics and Bruins. Both had their moment in the sun (the Celts from the 60's-to mid-90's and the Bruins in the 70's) but they've each fallen on hard times in recent memory. The fact that the NBA is a terribly flawed product and the NHL is completely irrelevant are topics for another day and time. What it boils down to is we've been spoiled. The Pats have been a DYNASTY and the Sox have spent the dough to match everyone (even the dreaded Yankees) meaning they've consistently fielded good but rarely great teams. If you're in said age-range, you can't help that you struck the local sports lottery and have witnessed great sucess in recent memory. I just hope that everyone enjoys it. As the Celts and the Bruins-to a much lesser degree-have shown us, you can go from the top draw in the city to a team that you can find FREE tickets for on Craig's List (true story).
A corrolary to the great teams has been the standard bandwagon fans. And while I'd like to make some snide remark about how great a fan I am, I feel like you can't let stuff like that get to you too much. Nothing brings people together like sports and it doesn't bother me too much when people jump aboard later than others. With that being said, bandwagon fans should take some of The Rock's (circa 1999) advice: "know your roll and shut you're damn mouth." If you're wearing the Dice-K t-shirt, cheering when Ortiz hits a pop-up (which you're convinced is a home-run off the bat) or have a brand-new Sox hat (the rule is only one new one every two seasons minimum) then you should probably reevaluate who you are and what you're doing with your life.


And Thus It Begins......

Leave it to the Red Sox to create regular season controversy in Spring Training. While the Sox play out the string on its Grapefruit League schedule, they had the "onions" as Bill Raftery would say, to name young flame-thrower Jonathan Papelbon closer. Again. I still haven't decided where I stand on this precarious subject so I'll lay it all out for you the reader.
Going into the season, the Sox as usual have huge expectations (although these are mostly deserved). Boston has the starting pitching and the bats to compete with anybody. The one major weakness? A off-season and spring training long search to find someone, anyone to be the closer. The names of Joel Piniero (too crappy), Mike Timlin (too old) and Brandon Donnelly (not his normal role) have all been leaked as possible closers. The problem is that none of these guys is cut out to be a closer at this point in his respective career, on a World Series contending team no less. It all would be simple if Papelbon hadn't gotten hurt in a meaningless September 1st game vs. the Blue Jays last Fall.
Papelbon's pitching shoulder came out of its socket, due to overuse. I'm no WebMD but I think that be bad. All he did in his rookie year was save 35 games, be named an AL all-star and sure up the closer position from a disgruntled and disinterested Keith Foulke. From the first week of the season (when he assumed the role) until late Summer (when the Sox completely folded), you could make a very could argument that Paps was the top closer in the league. He had 75 strikeouts in 68.1 innings, had an absurd ERA of 0.92 and generally just blew guys away. He relied mostly on a upper 90's fastball but also mixed in a dirty changeup and slider to keep hitters honest. You had complete faith in him, just a few months into his first full league in the Majors. The injury however, changed everything. We don't want him to become the next Eric Gagne (circa 2005-2006). All Winter we were told how he was going to be turned into a starter (what he was coming up through the minors) which would cause less stress on that golden right arm. Also, he'd be rounding out a rotation of Schilling, Beckett, some guy named Dice-K and Wakefield. Not bad. Only problem was that between all the cash Boston spent on Julio Lugo (dry heave), J.D. Drew (I just puked in my mouth) and to talk to Dice-K, they forgot that we had no closer. Short of rounding up bums in Boston, the Sox did everything to figure this out in a Walmart-style fashion. Unfortunately, even in Spring Training (when you're playing Double A and Triple A guys that won't sniff the big leagues), the formidable trio of closers all failed.
Many will say/have said that going to Papelbon means the Sox are pushing the panic button. While that is true in a sense, it's an extremely tough call to make. I think that a dominant closer is more important than a good starter (and let's face it, Paps would only be a #3 this year). Look at Mariano Rivera. Was anyone more important to the Yankees dynasty of the late 90's and early Millenium? Having a lights out closer is huge. Using recent history as an example, the Sox used a closer by committee (bullshit) method which famously imploded in the 2003 playoffs (with a big assist going to manager Grady Little's complete stupidity). In 2004 with Keith Foulke at the end of games, the Red Sox won the World Series. Coincidence? Probably not. The last two World Series champs used younger, more unknown guys-Bobby Jenks of the White Sox and Adam Wainwright of the Cardinals-to close but they similarly got the job done. You have to ride the hot hand. Who knows what to expect from Papelbon? He showed last year many flashes of utter dominance. He's coming off a major pitching injury though. With him, the Sox can get to the promised land. Without him? Yikes.
All I know is that baseball is starting on Sunday and I can't wait.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

And Then the Braves Won 9 More NL East Titles

The New York Metropolitans are the team to beat in the National League.

Fair enough, right? They did make it to the NLCS, one hit-to-be away from taking the pennant and demolishing the already-peaked Detroit Tigers. But thanks to a mysterious shoulder ailment (don't worry, I heard Beltran had the bat removed from his body this off-season), the St. Louis Cardinals won the National League and the World Series. They chugged tequila, we chugged Malox. Shit happens.

Here's the thing: The NY Mets are loaded with young talent and veteran leadership, both measured out to a careful balance like a chemist prepares a prescription for medicine. Two of the best young talents in the game, David Wright and Jose Reyes, will be exponentially better this year than last, having already gotten rid of their first time jitters in the playoffs. We're talking about babies in their early 20s, just learning how good they can be. Little known fact: Reyes was a hit or two away from reaching a crazy feat last year, almost becoming the second player in Major League Baseball history to hit 20 home runs, 20 doubles, 20 triples, and steal 20 bases in a year. The other? Willie Mays. Yeah. Awesome, right?

Willie May is not to be confused with Willie Mays Hayes, Wesley Snipes' character from Major League and Major League 2. In the sequel, when we join Hayes at Cleveland Indians training camp, he has just exited a limo after his entourage (easily 30 people). Rube Baker, the new catcher, asks Jake Taylor, the aging catcher, "who are they?". Taylor responds, "they are our center-fielder." Hayes, after bulking up in his off-season, had become something of a power hitter, launching bombs out of spring-training stadiums and looking like a 40/40 guy. Thing is, he had an attitude problem.

But here's Reyes in much the same situation as Hayes was in, sans the attitude: after his breakout season, he spent the winter gaining 20 lbs of muscle. He's now 6'1", 200 lbs, and in addition to stealing 80 bases this year (that's a conservative estimate), he's probably going to jack 25 or 30 homers, turn endless doubles into triples, and eventually get his legs churning like the road runner, elliptical spheres of shoe laces and quadriceps, constantly powering him around the bases while the scoreboard clinks up run after Met run, after Met run.

And Wright? We all know about his 5-toolness - he's the best Met third baseman since, well, sure, Howard Johnson. I'll give it to him. Plenty has been said about Wright already, and about Delgado's power and leadership, and about Beltran's steady and dogged determination to make himself wanted in NY. Strike out or no strike out, he has succeeded.

But you knew these things already. The stuff you don't know, though, are the reasons why the Mets are the team to beat:

Moises Alou - LF
Alou, apparently, is made out of some space-aged metal which doesn't rust or break down. He's going to get injured, which is fine. I'm OK with that, knowing we can pencil in .280, 25 homers and 80 RBI's from our 40-something left-fielder. Until Last Milledge is ready, he's our guy. And that's an upgrade from Cliff Floyd, even if Alou takes the month of April and May off, choosing to teach English is Japan somewhere.

Mike Pelfrey - P
Spring training, occasionally, provides a breeding ground for young talent to take hold. Here's hoping that Pelfrey's stellar spring (his 1.29 ERA all but guarantees that he'll start the season in the Bigs as the Mets 5th starter) carries over to a productive side-arm pitching season. With the loss of Pedro Martinez until, I don't know, fucking August, and El Duque and Tom Glavine's much publicized ages, he'll be needed.

Paul Lo Duca - C
Yes, he's old. And that's cool. There are some guys that are going to have to be looked at after the season. The sun won't shine forever, but as long as it's here then we might as well shine together. Lo Duca is solid behind the plate and in front, starting at catcher for the NL in the all-star game and hitting .318 on the year, mostly from the #2 spot. You go Reyes, Lo Duca, Wright, Beltran, Delgado. That one through five is absolutely disgusting, and Lo Duca is the glue that keeps those guys on base.

Willie Randolph - Manager
Wille just sounds good at press conferences. That's big, you know? He sounds like this is his club: he's responsible for the losses, but is quick to come across confidently, almost arrogantly (we'll call it arrogance lite) when the Mets perform well. He's put his stamp on the team, and his aggressive managerial style will benefit them in close games next fall.

El Duque - P
Even though no one know's how old he is (the over under is 46, btw), he's still got to be considered one of the best clutch pitchers in recent memory. He's won rings with the Yanks and the ChiSox, playing a key role on each staff, and he's proven time after time in the playoffs that he's the guy who gets the ball when you need a win. He was to the contemporary Yankee staffs what Andy Pettite was to the '96 and '98 clubs. Give me El Duque with a wooden leg before you give me Steve Trachsel. Seriously.

Jose Valentin will figure it out at second with Damien Easley, and right field will work itself out. There are no holes on this club, and the kids will gel with their elders - Franco, at 49, became the oldest guy to steal a base last year - and there'll be no fall collapse. You see, the only reason this didn't win it all last year was the young players didn't hit in the fall. So you add the experience to Reyes muscles, Wright's even-handedness, Beltran and Delgado's, you know, excellence, and the pitching upgrades to the bullpen (and you know they'll get an arm before the deadline), and you've got the team to beat.

As for the Phillies, I'll believe it when I see it.

Ughh...I Feel So Used

It's been some time since I posted and I wanted to restart our blog with a post that I've been contemplating for a while. Members of all four Philadelphia sports teams seem to leave our city and find success in their new homes. Sometimes fans send off players with love, but more often than not, players leave Philly with a sour taste. To add salt to the wound, they either miraculously perform better or even win the elusive championship. What if you were dating a girl, then she leaves you for your friend? Or even worse, that over achieving bastard in the cubicle down the hall! It's bad enough we can't win a stinking championship, and now we have to watch our former players win in another city. Thats life as a Philly sports fan.

I compiled a short list of more memorable stars dating from the 90's to the present:

The 76ers:

  • Chris Webber
This schlub wouldn't stop complaining since he arrived in Philly. He barely played this current season due to some mysterious injury. The 76ers finally payed him $36million to just keep his sorry ass away from the team. That's right, $36 million to leave.
Now Webber is playing for the Detroit Piston's and averaging a double double. The Pistons have been surging to the top of the east since his arrival.
  • Raja Bell
The "poor man's Bruce Bowen", Bell was a role player on 76ers run to the finals in 2001. He was never a star here or either disliked. However, no one thought he would become a ferocious defender and a self proclaimed "Kobe Stopper". He's playing on the Phoenix Suns and will be playing in the playoffs for many more seasons.

  • Charles Barkley
Charles Barkley is one of my favorite players of all time and I remember the day he was traded to the Phoenix Suns. He was such a strong presence in Philly and it's a shame things didn't work out. He went on to play in the finals with Suns and the Houston Rockets. Granted he never won a championship with his former teams he still went onto to bigger and better things.

  • Larry Brown
Coach Brown rebuilt the 76ers, molded Allen Iverson, and brought some respect to the franchise. He was a extremely important presence in the organization, but the team deteriorated in his last few seasons. The 76ers kept loosing to the Detroit Pistons in the playoffs, and Brown insisted he would never coach for the Pistons despite rampant contradicting rumors. Well what do you know? Larry becomes the Pistons new head coach and leads them to a NBA Championship. Take that!

The Phillies:

  • Curt Schilling
He was an amazing pitcher with the Phillies and part of that miracle 93' season. However he always seemed to like hearing himself speak. Schilling was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks and immediately won a world series. Several seasons later he won another with the Red Sock. It's one thing to win after you leave Philly but it really stings when you win with the Diamondbacks and the Sox.

  • Scott Rolen
Rolen played third base so well as a Phillie but he couldn't take the pressure of playing in Philly. He turned down a ridiculous amount of money from the Phillies and signed with the St. Louis Cardinals. They won the world series last season while we were stuck with David Bell.

The Eagles

  • Reggie White
The "Minister of Defense" was an absolute force for the Eagles. He set the teams all time sack record and actually recorded more sacks than the number of games he played with the team. He was beloved here but the ownership was too cheap to resign him. Reggie went on to play for the Green Bay Packers and won a super bowl. R.I.P.

  • Derrick Burgess
A fan favorite and productive defender when healthy, Burgess had six sacks as a rookie. The Eagles didn't resign him and he signed with the Raiders. What happens next? He leads the NFL with 16 sacks and earns his first Pro Bowl appearance.

The Flyers

  • Rod Brind'Amour/Marc Recchi
Another fan favorite, Rod was a true warrior. He was captain of the Flyers and had a streak of 484 straight games played. I loved watching him dodge defenders and make crisp passes. Recchi was part of several Flyers teams during the 90's. He always seemed to come back to the Flyers and played very hard. Both ended up being traded to Carolina Hurricanes and won the Stanley Cup last season. The Flyers have great tradition and history, and seeing players win with a crappy expansion team really sucks.

Thanks for help from Scribbs, Iba, Adam Warner

Monday, March 19, 2007

Mateen Cleaves Makes Your Yearly Salary in Two Weeks

All right guys, listen up. My name is Bee Rock, and I write about sports. And pro wrestling. And occasionally bad reality TV. But mostly sports. I'm going to be screaming about Jose Reyes and David Wright for the next 6 months, so we've got a lot to look forward to.

In the mean time, sort of as a "get to know your math teacher thing," I offer you something without bias, slant, or New York bent: The NBA's All-Squando Team. Made up of former first-round draft picks who have squandered (ahh, now you get it, right?) their potential and are nowhere near where they should be in terms of basketball development, the worst of the rest reside here. Some, like Harold Miner, could be dead for all we know. In fact, no one really knows what happened to Harold Miner. He just kind of disappeared (shrugs). Clearly though, he made the team. Who else made it? Read on, bored stoner, read on...

C – Shawn Bradley 7’6” 275 lbs

The average goon-bag sees the tale of Shawn Bradley’s tape and goes ape shit: “7’6” and almost 300 lbs? He’s got to be the most dominant big man in the history of the sport!!” Not so much. The beanpole that is Bradley was little more than a prop for most of his time in the league, merely a long, thin mass of skin that Clarence Weatherspoon would abuse in practice, and occasionally try to eat like a side of ribs. But hey, he was a top 5 pick, right? He’s probably sitting on more money than you and I will ever earn in a year. That’s fair, right.? Definitely.

PF – Glenn Robinson 6’7” 240 lbs

“The Big Dog” may have had the lamest nickname ever, but at least he signed the league’s first $100 million contract in league history. Here you have a guy that was good for 20 and 6 for the first eight or nine years of his NBA career, and I’m saying he’s squandered his potential? Yup. I am. I just feel like anybody named “The Big Dog” should have been some kind of big dog, not the first option on a bad team. Nobody remembers a single thing he did for the Milwaukee Bucks and their silly-ass purple uniforms. Not a single clutch basket, rebound, or blocked shot. Not one.

SF – Darius Miles 6’9” 222lbs

Not only is D-Miles a starting member of the squad, he’s the mother fucking mascot. Check it out: him and “Q” (isn’t that cute?) made a bunch of noise in LA, mainly from not playing defense and getting cherry picked alley-oop dunks. Obviously, he parlayed his 9 pts and 4 boards a game into a new found career in Cleveland, where he didn’t exactly mesh well with LeBron. On to Portland, basketball purgatory, where he continues to waste away to this day, every day looking like a man who skipped college to play a sport for a living. Darius Miles, I salute you, and all the marijuana you’ve smoked in your life. Whatever.

SG – Harold Miner 6’5”, 210 lbs

OK, you’re not going to believe this. Harold Miner won TWO dunk championships. Two. He won the thing twice. I don’t know how he did it, all I remember is the backwards, sling the ball between your split open legs and jam it home dunk, which got TNT all “Baby Jordan” on him in a nanosecond. But he did win two dunk titles, so he’s got something in common with Dominique Wilkens and Jason Richardson. But sadly, he never reached the potential we all saddled over him like a metal sweatshirt. Baby Jordan? Puh-lease. Like anybody could follow through on that. He’s probably working at a Dairy Queen somewhere in Alabama right now. Nobody expected you to fulfill those ridiculous expectations anyway. Asshole.

PG – Mateen Cleaves 6’2”, 210 lbs

This one’s easy. Here’s the stuff Cleaves did in college for a major program at Michigan State: two-time Big Ten player of the year, Big Ten’s all time leader in assists, three-time AP All-American, most outstanding player of 2000 NCAA Tournament, leading his Spartans to the ‘chip. (shouldn’t it be the ‘ship? We’re talking about a championship, right? So the abbreviation should be –ship, not chip. It’s not championchip. It’s championship, right?) Here’s what he’s done in the NBA: squadoosh. In fact, he’s made a career out of not doing anything. You’re telling me this guy can’t crack anyone’s top 9? Well, I blame you, Mateen. How do you not decide to work until they take a look at you? How do you decide to go more Travis Outlaw than Deron Williams? Mr. Cleaves, if you see Khalid El-Amin anywhere (I hear he’s reppin’ his Yeshiva in Israel), ask him how much he weighs. The over/under is 249 lbs. I’ve got the over, and he’s got your spot if you ever start playing.