Monday, April 03, 2006
Heaping spoonfuls of Salt recommended
American League East
1st New York Yankees - The signature of my baseball confusion. Early Steinbrenner I could not and did not like them. But, the Jeter era…
2nd Toronto Blue Jays - Trying, in an upset, to prove Toronto is not a small market.
3rd Boston Red Sox - I was rooting for the caught from behind on the last day of ’78 Red Sox, but not for the 2004 Curse breaking Red Sox??! Note, I lived in four different states between 1976 and 1981. But more importantly sometime between 1981 (the first strike) and 1987-89 (the beginning of homerun inflation) Baseball underwent a subtle paradigm shift and my level of loyalty and interest, at first confused, gradually has never been the same.
4th Baltimore Orioles - Guess Palmeiro, Sosa et. al. weren’t the answer. Poor Miguel Tejada, a heckuva a player.
5th Tampa Bay Devil Rays - Should be contracted.
National League East
1st Atlanta Braves – Yes, again. A most remarkable streak.
2nd New York Mets – Finally somewhat likeable. Go Omar Minaya and Willie Randolph!!
3rd Philadelphia Phillies – Phills fans it could be worse. You could be the Pirates.
4th Washington Nationals/Montreal-San Juan Expos – What’s not to like about a team that was originally named after their stadium ? The Franchise most screwed by the ’94 strike.
5th Florida Marlins – Should be contracted. Florida is for Spring Training.
American League Central
1st Cleveland Indians – Over the past 15 years has there been a better baseball town ? What happened to the place they used to call, “The Mistake on the Lake ?”
2nd Chicago White Sox – Talk about an outta nowhere run to the championship. You wouldn’t have seen them in my predictions for last years playoffs.
3rd Minnesota Twins – If Minnesotans want baseball and they want to live there, they ought to pull down the Dome and make’em go back to playing outside. Enjoy Minnesota.
4th Detroit Tigers – Take heart in the Pistons excellence Detroiters.
5th Kansas City Royals – A travesty.
National League Central
1st St. Louis Cardinals – There like the Braves and the Yanks in this new era, isn’t that right ? Just pick’em every year ? Incidentally, how much fun has it been to watch Jim Edmonds play centerfield over the years…
2nd Houston Astros/Colt 45’s – I, for one, hope Clemons comes back. And I really, really hope he’s never done performance enhancing houha.
3rd Chicago Cubs – If the two Sox and the Cubs go Back-to-Back-to-Back, you are allowed to start officially worrying about the impending apocalypse.
4th Milwaukee Brewers – Will underachieve versus slight better than meager expectations. How’s that for a fun season Brewers fans ?
5th Pittsburgh Pirates – Another year desecrating a once great franchise.
6th Cincinnati Reds – Opening day should be a weekday afternoon home game in Cincinnati, a day before any other games are played. If it wasn’t for the miracle sweep of ’90 over the steroid pumping Bash Brothers of the A’s, it’d be going on 30 years since the Reds won anything!!
American League West
1st California-Anaheim-Los Angeles Angels of Eastern Orange County – Still miss Mr. Autry.
2nd Seattle Mariners – Ichiro. Now contemplate.
3rd Oakland A’s – Moneyball doesn’t work without pitching ? Does the pitching hold up ? Does anyone on the East Coast see any games played in the Pacific Time Zone to find out ?
4th Texas Rangers – Was any franchise more complicit in their players steroid use…
National League West
1st San Diego Padres – Is there a better meteorological climate to watch baseball in the whole world ? Rest assured if you lived in San Diego you wouldn’t mind if they won the division with an under .500 record either.
2nd Los Angeles Dodgers – What an interesting bunch of signings. Sort of reminds on of the mid 80’s Yankees of the Steve Kemp era. 80 wins would be a surprise. Hooray for Hollywood.
3rd San Francisco Giants – Bonds will overshadow their season.
4th Colorado Rockies – The stadium and town where steroids are least needed.
5th Arizona Diamondbacks – Should be contracted.
New York Yankees vs. Chicago White Sox
and Cleveland Indians vs. LA/California Angels
San Diego Padres vs. St. Louis Cardinals
and New York Mets vs. Atlanta Braves
Winners: Yanks, Indians, Cards, Braves
New York Yankees beat the Cleveland Indians
Atlanta Braves beat the St. Louis Cardinals
New York Yankees vs. Atlanta Braves
…finally moving on to…
Tiger wins the Masters. I know it’s chalk. Hey, I love to watch the greatest player of this era and possibly any era, play well.
Romano Prodi will be a less dramatic shift in Italian politics from Silvio Berlusconi than Angela Merkel has been in German politics from Gerhard Schroeder. Unlike Schroeder to Merkel, Prodi’s change will be more style than substance.
92% plus of United States Congressional incumbents will win re-election.
Incidentally is Europe moving forward or backward this century ?
Early front runners for AL 3rd base gold glove winner…Mike Lowell and Alex Rodriguez
Don’t kid yourselves Brewers, Reds, Tigers fans. Your franchises suck and will not be in the post-season this year. Oh sure, you can be excited you are not the Royals or the Pirates, but that is about the limit of it.
How washed up does Randy Johnson look. Barely hitting 92-93 on the radar gun, and in the words of the biggest homer this side of Ken "Hawk" Harrelson, Michael Kay, “Randy Johnson used to look scary and intimidating. Now he looks befuddled and tired on the mound.” At least he only costs $15 million plus a year!?!
Phils fans, Tom Gordon may have started 10 for 10 in save opportunities, but he is old and was overused by Joe Torre the last couple of years. He will wear down.
How much does being a catcher suck ? This past weekend on consecutive pitches, Andruw Jones smacked the Mets catcher, Castro (no relation) in the head with his bat on his back swing and then fouled one off of Castro’s forearm. The old joke was always that shaking hands with a catcher was a lot like grabbing hold of a bag of peanuts. It’s a truth is often said in jest thang.
The Braves start has the Clarion already worrying about our Karmic influence. I mean how much of a millstone are you, if you can lay the jinx on Ichiro. Mind you, I am closing on 40 and still trying to make up, with abundant kindness, for evil deeds done in High School…I was an awful bully. I am soooo sorry.
Does Detroit look unbeatable or what ? For the first time in 15-20 years, we are watching a basketball team that looks like it could at least play with the Celtics, Lakers, Sixers, Pistons teams of the 80’s.
Unfortunately, the NBA is still UNWATCHABLE !!
The Suns and Lakers finally have a compelling enough series to suck one into watching a first round game, albeit not until game 7. Then game 7 is a blowout and better yet, Kobe doesn’t even try in the second half.
Nice job, quitter.
Kobe should be sharing a prison cell with fellow rapist Jacob Zuma. And America should be decreasing unemployment by having the NBA pay new employees to stand by to slap upside the head anyone who compares Kobe to MJ. Kobe is going to end his career with people saying, “Well, he never won anything without Shaq.”
Much like Pat Riley's legacy sans Magic. Gee Pat, guess it was Jerry West’s franchise all along, eh ?
Hubie Brown is torture on NBA telecasts these days. Especially for those of us who started listening to him do Knicks telecasts, when he was still coherent. I mean, now, most of the time you know what he means, even if he is saying it backwards, garbled and without any of the articles, “a, an, the.” But come on, somebody has to ease him out, ASAP. How long can you let a guy go who is somewhere between barely comprehensible gibberish and speaking in tongues. He’s approaching the level of clarity standards set during the recent Keith Jackson years, or the end of Harry Caray’s career or the whole of Dan Dierdorf’s career. A typical Hubie from Pistons-Cavs game 7, “Eric Snow has been all over Chauncey Billips, this season, er, series,” one of the rare times he actually heard himself make the mishap. But then follows it up with “He’s been right on his face.” Say what, Hubie ? He tends to get enough of the right words that you can mostly guess where he’s going, but put the words in the right order, at this point in his career you’re asking too much.
Mike Breen, the play by play man, who used to be phenomenal as the sports guy on the Imus in the Morning radio program, is the consummate professional. However, Hubie drowns him out. If Hubie misstatements weren’t aggravating enough, his intonation is that of a hectoring parent. As if he is telling something you don’t know, you couldn’t know in your ignorance, but you damn well better learn, “See once LeBron turns this corner, he is just gonna go the basket with authority.” Really, Hubie ? We all witnessed that humongous dunk in the last three minutes of the first quarter, as the Cavs started to creep back into the game. Hubie you gotta lecture us about LeBron ? We are all witnessing it together, Hubie, pipe down old man or we’ll throw you in the home for people your age. He is at his worst trying to make a last point before the commercial break, luckily that only comes up about 75 times a game aggregate.
Have I mentioned NBA Basketball is unwatchable ? Sucked into another game 7, I end up watching Cleveland and Detroit play a game with shooting percentages, even free throw percentages, normally associated with high school players, rather than multimillion dollar pros. Putrid. LeBron alone made the first half worth it, but when the Piston started double and tripling teaming him, every time he touched the ball, even 30 feet from basket in the second half, his teammates shot in the 20% range. Atrocious. And I have to listen to Hubie Brown pontificating while this is going on ? Blathering about things like how many good young players the Cavs have ? Hubie rip your head out of your ass!! And the NBA, itself, why the f*ck would Game 1 and Game 7 of the Conference Semi-finals be two weeks apart, but the conference finals start last then 48 hours after the semis end??!! Your regular season blows so bad, the NHL after the year off, a complete season cancellation, outdraws you. Mind you, the NHL playoffs aren’t even on television as best I can tell, but there are NBA arenas all regular season long with scads of corporate dollars masquerading as empty seats. Now we finally get to the two months of the endless NBA season, that matter, and they got to spread the games out to a point that makes continuity and maintaining interest all but impossible. Entire military campaigns take less time a NBA playoff series. Ick.
two more quickies
Is Steve Nash overrated ?
It’s a ways into Simmons’ column so be patient. Heck, read the rest of it, it’s laugh out loud funny at points.
The eight second rule, which used to be the ten second rule, is awful. NBA teams were doing fine getting the ball across the half court line rapidly, the time allotted did not need to be reduced. The ten second rule had nothing to do with the atrocious offensive performances of recent NBA seasons. The problems were with excessive contact, essentially fouling, by the defense going uncalled. This problem seems largely fixed. So why the NBA honchos had to mess with ten second rule is beyond me. Who wants to see a turnover for a meaningless rule help decide playoff games, like it did out of a timeout, no less, in the Clippers-Suns series? Did you see the look on Sam Cassell’s face ? Even the Suns didn’t know initially why there was a whistle blown. This is a bad idea that needs to be reversed.
Love Bill Simmons' looks at the Sports Gals’ take on NBA games, like finding Bruce Willis in the crowd at the Clips playoff game. On that note, my sister spent half of the fourth quarter of the Suns-Mavs, Game Two, her first playoff viewing of the year, going, “Who does he look like?” referring to the Suns, Steve Nash, before finally bursting out with a holler of “Iggy Popp” just as the Suns were fading down the stretch.