Saturday, October 31, 2009

World Series Game 3 Live Blog

Seeing as it is Halloween, the missus and I are watching Drag me to Hell, which so far is a pretty good movie despite the presence of Justin Long.  It's helped by the fact that I am a little bit in love with Alison Lohman, who could be sisters with both Jenna Fischer and Anna Paquin.  Can you image those three in the same family, because they could easily all be related.  I think I'd go Fischer, Paquin, Lohman, but really, whichever order they want to come to me in is fine by me.

Anyway, I'm also watching the World Series on an internet feed, as I usually do, and the Gophers are being monitored thanks to the game tracker via  Currently the Gophers are recovering from an almost blown awesome start, but lead 21-10 with 2 minutes left in the first half, the Yanks and Phillies are tied 0-0 in the bottom of the first, and this chick in the movie should not have turned that old lady down for a loan, because I'm pretty sure she's fucked at this point.  Any way, let's roll.

-  Andy Pettitte is the all-time leader in postseason wins?  W.T.F??!?!  This would be like finding out Derek Jeter is third all-time in postseason home runs........WHAT!!??!

-  Just got back from tending to my pumpkin seeds (slow roasted at 300 degrees for an hour, butter spray, seasoned salt, garlic powder) and the Phillies managed to get nothing out of Jimmy Rollins's leadoff single and steal of second.  Can't waste opportunities, boys, you know the Yanks won't.  Or maybe they will.  I don't know.

-  I guess we'll find out as my sort-of boyfriend Cole Hamels plunks a-rod with the first pitch of the second inning.  Cole and I were going really good most of last year, it was pretty serious, I think he might have picked out a ring, but I kind of had to slow things down most of this year.  Now he's been slowly winning me back over, and this is a pretty good chance for him to get back into my good graces.

-  Pedro Feliz, who Tim McCarver keeps insisting is one of the best 3bmen in baseball, bobbles and easy double play ball and they only get A-rod at second.  What do you want to bet that costs them?

-  Nevermind, my boyfriend pitched out of it with no further issues.  I guess that was a bad bet, like most of them that Snacks lays down these days.

-  Wow, this chick in this movie is having a couple of really horrible days.  Nice rack though.

-  Home run Jayson Werth to lead off the second.  He really had to go down and get it, too.  A lot like Matsui's in Game 2, but insead of hitting a pop up that somehow managed to get over the fence by some weird miracle, he laced that sumbitch into like the 15th row in left field.  A right-handed, National League Jason Kubel with speed and fielding.  So really he has nothing in common with Kubel at all, except they are both underrated and I love them both (NOTE:  I love Kubel more).

-  With one out, Feliz doinks one off the wall for a double, and then walks Carlos freaking Ruiz.  Falling apart, Pettitte?  Need a little GHB or your precious "God?"  Well you're on your own, chief.

-  The Spartans took the opening kick of the second half back for a TD?  Good lord.

-  Uh, oh, bunt hit for Hamels because Pettitte can't field.  I'm feeling blow out here folks, this might be a a very short live blog - no point continuing when the Phillies are up 15-0.

-  Pettitte walks in a run, walking Rollins on five pitches.  He looks awful, just awful.  Which, of course, is good for me, and for America.

-  The Phils pick up one more, and it's a 3-0 now going to the third.  This game is huge for Philadelphia, because next up is Sabathia vs. Blanton, in a game the Yankees should win 20-1. 

-  Gophers answer, and it's 28-17.  Honestly, you can't lose that game after the way it started for them, or you might as well quit football and move on to field hockey.  In case you missed it, the Gophers scored on the first play from scrimmage on a long TD pass to Duane Bennett, then MSU fumbled the kickoff and Minnesota recovered, and converted that into another TD with a pass to future stud Brandon Green.  In other words, a near perfect start.

-  so I have no sound with this internet feed (well, I do but instead we are watching some crazy goat-sacrificing seance), but Predro Feliz just fielded a grounder and threw a guy out, and they've now shown the replay four times, paying most attention to how he used two hands to field it.  Twenty bucks says McCarver is having a jizz party over this righ tnow, and that's why we are watching a routine play over and over and over.

-  I'm having trouble getting the ESPN tracker to work, but it appears Sparty just returned a kickoff for a touchdown for the second time this game, and it's now 28-24 Gophers.  I would wager my kickass Protege (with Spoiler) that the Spartans win this game.

-  Oh, nevermind it was only an 84-yard touchdown run, not a kickoff return.  No need to panic, pretty routine.

-  A-Rod dingers after Texeira walks.  It's the Yankees first hit, the first higt A-Rod has ever gotten against Hamels, and it makes the score 3-2.  On a related note, or not, somehow Michigan State now leads the Gophers 31-28.  You pretty much have to get rid of Brewster, right?  Maybe they bring in a new coach and keep Brewster on as tight ends' coach.or something.

-  What the hell?  Wanda Sykes is getting her own talk show? 

-  Error or Rodriguez to lead off the fourth.  I guess we should call him E-Rod.  Can a get a rimshot here?

-  We finished Drag me to Hell.  I'm going to lightly recommend it.  Up next is Orphan, which I'm assuming involves some creepy kid.  I have a feeling I'm going to be very wary of WonderbabyTM tomorrow.

-  And now the Gophers are up again, thanks mostly to a fifty-three yard completion from Weber to someone named Da'Jon McKnight, who I have definitely never head of.  What a crazy game.  It's almost enough to make me wish I was watching.

-  Uh, this Orphan movie is pretty effed up right here.  Pretty sure that opening scene is going to give me nightmares for years.  NICE MOVIE PICK MRS. W!

-  Yankees tie it up on a Nick Swisher double and a Pettitte single.  Yes, a Pettitte single.  Call me crazy here, but maybe you don't throw your lollipop curveball to a career .134 hitter.  I'm thinking it makes more sense to save that pitch for guys who can actually hit so you can disrupt their timing.  Not a guy who you could throw nothing but fastballs too and he'd make contact 10% of the time.  You are on thin ice, Hamels.

-  And it's now 5-3 thanks to a Jeter bloop and a Damon double.  And now he walks Texeira to bring A-Rod back up.  and he's being yanked for Happ.  We are so broken up.  And not like a Lindsay Lohan/Samantha Ronson break-up, I mean real one.

-  Sparty field goal, 35-34 Gophers.  Wow.

-  Just got a text from snacks, who is at the Gopher game, which is now 42-34 and clearly the craziest game ever.  He told me to turn the game on, which I did, so I could see the weird Tow-Arnett deflection to Bennett thing, which might be the most unreal play I've seen in a long time.  I kind of wish I was watching that game.

-  This kid in this movie is creepy as all shit.

-  Home run Swisher, 6-3 Gay-nkees.  Interest level:  waning.

-  The NL version of Jason Kubel homers to lead off the sixth, and it's now 6-4.  I am also now watching the last two minutes of the Gopher game, and I was all excited to watch Sparty march down in the last two minutes to end up tying it up, but instead some dumb bastard runs into the punter to give the Gophers a first down, and that should just about do it.  Totally earned that victory, way to go, Brewster.

-  So far the kid is just creepy, and hasn't killed anybody or poisoned anybody or lit anyone on fire yet or anything.  She should probably get on that here pretty quickly, especially since her parents are horny pervs who get it on at the drop of a hat no matter who or what is around.  Seriously, bending the wife over the kitchen table and going to town is good stuff, but when you have three kids and it's like 8pm, I'd probably advise against it.  Pervs.

-  J.D. Durbin.  The Real Deal.  And he still sucks.  Couple hits, couple walks, and a run, and he was bailed out by what could only be described as the worst call in history - Posada was rung up on pitch that was well below the knees and about a foot outside.  Almost wonder if the umps are supposed to make sure this thing gets back to New York.  After those excerpts from the Donaghy book, who the hell knows what's going on in pro sports. 

-  Wait.  This one is Chad Durbin, who has made a decent career out of being a middle reliever.  The Real Deal hasn't pitched in the bigs since 2007, totaled just 72 innings pitched in his career, and is currently floundering about in the Dodgers' system.  But perhaps most damning of all?  Baseball Reference has a section for each player where it lists their nicknames.  There is no mention of "The Real Deal" on his page.  None whatsoever. 

-  She now pushed some mean girl down a slide and she hurt her ankle.  This chick's evil level is closer to Nelson Muntz than Damien.

-  Black taco.

-  Well, now she killed some black nun lady by hitting her in the head wiht a hammer like, fifty times.  That was pretty evil.  But in her defense, she's Russian.

-  Matsui takes Brett Myers yard to make it 8-4.  Amazing somebody can hit the ball that far without opening their eyes.  Also, Brett Myers?  Seriously?  God the Phillies' bullpen sucks.  And now they're screwed.  You can't go with Blanton tomorrow now, can you?  Let's be honest, that guy is terrible, and if they go with Blanton it's going to be 3-1 Yankees.  You need to go with pimp daddy Cliffy, it's the only way.

-  Phillies' are down 8-4 in the 8th, and Marte is pitching.  What they need to do is make the game close enough so Rivera has to come in.  Obviously, ideally they would win, but barring that they need to at least make Mariano pitch. 

-  Good job Phillies.  He strikes out two and gets Ibanez to line out.  Worthless. 

-  I'd love to keep blogging this crap, but we're going to play strip Trivial Pursuit.  I'm sure you understand.  For now, Happy Halloween readers, from the W family:

Friday, October 30, 2009

NCAA Basketball Preview: The SEC

I have no idea what happened to the SEC.  This used to be a really, really good conference, but seems to have slipped since the Florida back-to-back championship teams and is now pretty much the worst of the major conferences.  Things are looking to turn, however, as there are a couple of big-time contenders here now and the conference as a whole looks like it is getting a whole lot better.  I also hate that they split out their conference into East and West divisions.  Unnecessary and annoying.  In protest, I will be listing them as a whole, not breaking it down by division.  Take that Robert E. Lee!

1.  Kentucky.  Well I for one can't wait to see this John Wall character.  You can't read anything about Kentucky or even the NCAA basketball season as a whole without him being mentioned.  The comparison I see a lot is "a better Derrick Rose" which like, whoa.  He's on everybody's award winner predictions lists, anywhere from the SEC Player of the Year all the way up to National Player of the Year, and he hasn't played a minute yet.  There's plenty of talent around him, that's for sure.  Patrick Patterson is insanely good, and for some strange reason is still in college rather than the NBA, and that recruiting class Calipari paid to come to Lexington is out of this world.  Other than Wall, who is #1 on the Rivals 150, they also got PF DeMarcus Cousins (#2), C Daniel Orton (#22), PG Eric Bledsoe (#23) who I desperately wanted to become a Gopher, and G Jon Hood (#55).  Holy god.  The talent is there, anything less than a final four appearance is going to be a disappointment (this assumes the eligibility issues with Wall are resolved and he ends up playing.) 

2.  Mississippi State.  I love Jarvis Varnado.  Love him.  I had a chance to watch him in a game a couple of years ago as a sophomore, and fell in love with his defense - he averaged 4.7 blocks per game last year to lead the nation and, barring injury, will almost certainly become the all-time leader in blocked shots in NCAA history.  But it gets better.  After being a defensive force his first two seasons, before last year he worked on his offensive game, developed some low-post moves, and increased his scoring from 8ppg as a sophomore to 13 per game last year.  Even more, I read this offseason he's worked tirelessly on adding a mid-range jumper.  Based on his ability to improve year over year, I can't wait to see his new offensive game, and he could be gunning for All-American status.  All this from a guy who already has a triple-double in his career and several other near misses.  The Bulldogs are hurt a bit by recruit Renardo Sidney (Rivals #16) being ruled ineligible, but there is a lot here surrounding Varnado.  The Final Four might be aiming a bit too high, but you can expect MSU to be a major contender. 

3.  Tennessee.  Despite losing a bunch of players last year, the Vols were a bit of a disappointment last year, finishing up an uneven season with five losses by 3 points or less, including their loss to Oklahoma State in the NCAA Tournament.  The good news is that everybody is back, and they add two key pieces in PF Kenny Hall (Rivals #74) who will help shore up the inside game, and juco PG Melvin Goins (#62 Juco), who can help at point guard - a weakness last year, especially in SEC play.  Another issue that needs to be fixed is the three-point shot, once a huge weapon for Tennessee it proved to be an achilles' heel last year - the Vols shot just 31.5% behind the line, worst in the SEC and 286th in the country.  The hope is that sophomores Cameron Tatum and Scotty Hopson, now with a year of college hoops under their belts, can improve, and that might end up being the difference between an average team and a great team.

4.  Vanderbilt.  I've managed to pretty much completely avoid Vanderbilt for years, except for when Derrick Byars was there, that guy was a freakin' stud. I wonder what he's up to, hold on.  Let's see, bounced around a few different NBA teams without ever sticking, and ended up playing the last couple of seasons in Germany and France before hooking on with the Bakersfield Jam in the D-League last year.  He averaged 18 points per game for them and made the all-star team, was invited to Bulls training camp this year, made the team and is on the opening night roster.  Sweet.  Oh, and all the magazines and previews and everything say Vandy is going to be really good this year.  I do know they have a beast down low whose name I can't remember.

5.  Arkansas.  I've been following Courtney Fortson closely since the Gophers were after him, and I still can't decide if I wish he was here or not - even with the current PG situation.  On the one hand, his stats are amazing - 14.5 points/5.9 assists/5.5 rebounds - incredible for a 5-11 freshman, and he notched a triple-double in just his seventh ever game, and nearly had two more against Oklahoma and LSU, not exactly horrible teams.  On the other hand, his turnovers are wildly high (4.4 per game) including a game where he turned the ball over 10 times in 29 minutes, he's not a very good shooter (31% from three, 60% from the line), and he once went 7-27 from the floor in a game.  All in all, the dude is wildly talented, and assuming he reigns in his game and continues to improve with age, he's going to be a star - so yes, I do wish he was a Gopher.  There is plenty of other talent back, including three other double digit scorers, and a very good recruiting class, so the Razorbacks should be in the NCAA hunt.  Of course, after their huge nonconference wins over top ten teams Oklahoma and Texas last year we thought that too, before they inexplicably went 2-14 in the SEC.  Well, not that inexplicable.  They had more turnovers than assists last year.  That's not good, FYI.

6.  Ole Miss.  This team is loaded on the perimeter.  If you haven't had a chance to watch Chris Warren play, I highly recommend you look for them on tv.  Warren is a driving force and is nearly unstoppable with the ball, but he got hurt last year and only played in 11 games, dooming the Rebels to a season that ended after the SEC tournament.  That shouldn't happen this year, assuming nobody gets hurt.  With all the injuries last year, Terrico White was thurst into a starring role and he thrived, winning SEC Freshman of the Year honors.  Assuming they get decent play from the front court, these guys are going to put a ton of points on the board.  It's if they can stop anybody that's in question - they were the worst defensive team in the SEC last season.

7.  South Carolina.  It turns out this conference is even deeper than I thought, because the Gamecocks feel like a team that should be much higher than 7th in their conference.  Two of their three big guns are back, and guard Devan Downey has the look of a player who will contend for the SEC Player of the Year.  He can score (37 against Baylor last year), but also turns the ball over way too much (8 TOs to 0 assists in that same game and just a 1.3 Ast/TO ratio).  If he can control the ball it will go a long way towards getting South Carolina back in the NCAA tournament.  Also I can never, ever, like this team since they stole Georgia Tech's "Lethal Weapon 3" nickname, when it was obvious to anyone that they were just a bunch of gunners and a total mirage - a belief completely vindicated when they went down as a #2 seed.  Karma, baby.  Karma.

8.  Florida.  I suppose losing your whole team after back-to-back national championships usually entails a rebuilding process, but it seems that it's not going all that well for the Gators.  Not that it's Billy Donovan's fault, since he's been hit by players leaving the program early the past couple seasons (Speights, Calathes, Lucas).  Even so, it doesn't feel quite right having Florida this low, and it wouldn't surprise me at all to see them in the NCAA tournament, especially if Kenny Boynton (Rivals #12) is as good as advertised.  He will pretty much have to be, because although Florida has some nice talent in their frontcourt - including transfer Vernon Macklin from Georgetown - the backcourt really needs some help.  Outside of Boynton, point man Erving Walker, who had a pretty good freshman year last season, is about all they have.

9.  Alabama.  I'm sort of thinking I have Alabama too low here, they could easily finish as high as fifth, but since I've already typed this out and the control key on my keyboard doesn't work, I don't feel like cutting and pasting.  Although he's not the team's leading returning scorer, sophomore JaMychal Green might be the key for the Tide this season.  He was a stud recruit last season (Rivals #21), and had a very good freshman campaign (10pts, 8 rebs, 2 blks per game), which included six double-doubles.  If he continues to improve and can become the offensive focal point it will go a long way towards a good season for the Tide.  Among a big and talented group of newcomers is Shawn Kemp, one of I assume several sons of THAT Shawn Kemp, one of my favorite NBA players of all-time.  (NOTE:  I am finding conflicting information, some sources say he is signed with Alabama, others say he has reopened his recruitment which seems weird since the season starts in like two weeks so I don't know what is going on except that there has been a hole in my soul since Kemp retired and it would be nice to have another Shawn Kemp to take his place). 

10.  LSU.  The Tigers had an excellent season last year, making it to the second round of the NCAA tournament, but the team has been gutted by graduation, and now they will return just two guys who averaged more than 2 points or 8 minutes per game last year.  Those two are pretty good - Bo Spencer is an excellent shooter and Tasmin Mitchell is absolutely one of the best inside/outside players in the country and will be in the NBA next season - but there isn't much else here.  A small recruiting class leaves the Tigers thin and inexperienced, and although Mitchell will be fun to watch, I don't see a whole lot else fun happening in the bayou this season.  They'll be back at the top soon enough - next year's recruiting class is a top 20 type of class already - but not this year.

11.  Auburn.  Remember last year, how Auburn won 10 conference games but still couldn't get an NCAA tournament bid because they went 10-4 through a non-conference schedule that would make Glen Mason blush?  Yeah, most of the good players from that team are gone.  Their leading scorer and assist man is back in DeWayne Reed, and he'll have a couple of guys to dish to on the wing who love to bomb the long ball in Tay Waller and Frankie Sullivan, but looking down low is going to be an issue.  Coach Jeff Lebo brings in a gaggle of 3-star players, three of them with good size, and will need one of them to play well or have one of the nondescript veterans step up.  They are still set up as a team that could get hot on the right night and knock off a much better team thanks to their shooters, but they aren't getting anywhere near the NCAA tournament.

12.  Georgia.  How bad is it for the Bulldogs right now?  CollegeHoops.Net does a preview of their top 144 teams every year, and this year Georgia failed to make the list [Gophers = #18].  Teams on the list include Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, Jackson State, South Carolina State, and Iowa.  They're worse than Iowa - ouch.  Two minor reasons for optimism - new coach Mark Fox, who had a lot of success at Nevada, and sophomore forward Trey Thompkins, a top 30 recurit last year who had an excellent first year for the Dawgs.  My new favorite player though might be their center Albert Jackson, who played more than 19 minutes per game last year despite his incredible 1-to-5.2 assist to turnover ratio, thanks to his season total of eleven.  The next Yinka Dare, perhaps?

Other Previews
Conference USA
Atlantic 10 
Mountain West 
Atlantic Coast 
Big Twelve
Big East

Thursday, October 29, 2009

World Series Game 2 Live Blog

Picking this one up in the bottom of the second with the Phils leading 1-0 and Pedro looking very, very good - four batters, four outs, three by strikeout, and if the Phillies can manage to steal this one, I'd be the happiest little girl in Switzerland, with my pretty hair all in braids while I drink my hot chocolate and pet a Saint Bernard. 

-  Ibanez with a nice diving catch that maybe saved a run, or at least a hit.  What's he doing out in left field?  He should be DHing.  Unless they put my boy Matty Stairs at DH?  Please let this be true.

-  And now we get Jerry Hairston, Jr. instead of Nick Swisher.  Hmmm, le'ts see.  Swisher OPS = .869, Jerry Hairston, Jr. = .710.  For you uniformed cretins out there, that's the difference between Jason Kubel and Orlando Cabrera.  I'm not sure I make that switch, assuming similar defense, under any circumstances.  Of course, Hairston is a light-hitting player who can play multiple positions well.  Gardy would start him at bat him second.

-  Burnett with a lot of movement on his ball tonight, so much so that Jimmy Rollins just missed a breaking ball by about a foot - and I'm not exaggerating.  Must be because he has his fancy personal catcher, a catcher by the way who OPSed  .560 this year, which is somewhere between Mike Redmond and Alexi Casilla, and even worse than Nick Punto.  He's been benched for  Jorge Posada, who OPSed .885, which is slightly better than Justin Morneau.  So the Yankees have torpedoed their offensive two ways, one because of a completely overreatction and one because of a big crybaby of a pitcher.  Nice job.  By the way, Posada and Molina both threw out 28% of attempted base stealers.  Nice job A.J.

-  Wow.  Walking Utley to face Howard?  Wow.

-  Well, he whiffed him.  Point Girardi.  Still think the Molina and Hairston moves are balls stupid.

-  Pedro walks Molina.  Nice job you jackass dominican or puerto rican or cuban or whatever.  This sets it up for Jeter to be "a yankee legend."  Or strikeout like the probably gay douchebag he is, hahahahahahahahahaha.  Suck it, jeter.

-  I want you people to stop for a minute and realize just how good Pedro Martinez was in his prime.  Because I'm trying to watch the game online I don't really have time to do a ton of digging, so we're just going to use ERA to analyze him.  More specifically, ERA+ which basically compares your ERA with the league average ERA in that season and gives you a numerical number, with 100 = league average.  Well Pedro has the #1 ERA+ of all-time (since 1900) in 2000 when his ERA was 1.74 (league average was4.92).  He is also #8 on that list.  And #16.  And #25.  And #31.  You know how good Zack Greinke was compared to the rest of the league this year?  He was #30.  Nobody else has three top 16 seasons.  Only Walter Johnson also has four top-25 seasons, and nobody else has five top 31 seasons.  Needless to say, he is the all-time career leader in that stat amongst starting pitchers (Mariano is the all-time leader).  Make no mistake, this guy was absolutely, unfathomably, incredibly, untouchably awesome. 

-  And while I was typing that Texeira homered to tie the game.  That only cost the Yankees $500,000 ($20,000,000 / 40 homers).  Good lord.

-  Oh, I forgot to mention, I looked it up and indeed Matt Stairs is the Phillies' DH.  Not only that, but he has the Phils' one RBI tonight.  That guy is so freaking awesome.  I love that big crazy goofball.

-  Do you watch The Office.  Man, that was the best show for every year up until this year.  Suddenly it seems they have no idea what they are doing with the characters or where they are going with any of the storylines.  It still has it's moments, and it still has some really, really good episdoes (the wedding episode was awesome), but I'm just not sure what's going on here.  Actually, The Office is really similar to Tubby's 2010 recruiting class so far.  Kind of unimpressive, a let down from previous years, but still time to turn it around/show how I'm wrong and I completely trust the people in charge.  Holy crap that's brilliant.  I feel like Samuel Taylor Coleridge over here.

-  We're watching Vampire Diaries right now.  Well, the wife is.  I'm watching the Phillies continue to look like fools against Burnett.  Anyway, it's pretty much just like Dawson's Creek with Vampires and is nowhere near as good as True Blood, but it has the third hottest black chick I've ever seen, a grown-up and hot Maureen from Freaks and Geeks, and this hot chick named Nina Dobrev who was also in the criminally underrated movie "Never Cry Werewolf" starring Hercules.  That was a lot of words so just shush and look at her:

-  Well, Matsui just hit a weak pop fly to right field, but because this new Yankee Stadium is an absolute joke (think Sandlot in Dusty Diamond All-Star Softball), it somehow managed to clear the fence.  Seriously, Pedro pitches a hell of a game, but now he's trailing because of that garbage?  Shouldn't there be some kind of rules in place to prevent people from building these monuments to subpar power hitters?  G.  A.  Y.

-  Ibanez has almost an identical stance to Jim Eisenrich.  And just got called out on a pitch that was both low and outside.  I was waiting for the pro-Yankee umpiring to show up.  Freakin' conspiracy man.  Like the moon landing.

-  Jesus this guy just called Stairs out on the same pitch.  That pitch is nowhere near a strike.  Might as well turn this game off right now, it's clear that MLB doesn't want the Yanks down 2-0.

-  So I stumbled across a reference to a movie called "Tyrannosaurus Rex" coming out in 2013.  Immediately you could have called me Hugh G. Rection.  I was very excited, is what I'm trying to say, aroused even, if you will.  Then I read the synopsis.  It's about a boxer who gets caught up in an underground fighting ring.  Shouldn't people be arrested for that shit?  And not only for misleading me so horribly, but you know this movie is going to star Cam Gigandet.

-  Back to back Yankee singles (including one by Hairston, dammit).  That will do it for Pedro.  Hell of a game.  And they are going to Chan Ho Park.  I'm going to assume they're writing this one off and are happy to go back to Philly with a split.

-  Park had a 4.43 ERA and a 1.40 WHIP.  There have to be better options.  Also, who knew that asians could grow full beards?  Other than Genghis Khan and that cult leader from Japan guy who tried to use Sarin Gas in the subway.  Wait.  So Park is a supervillian?  Makes sense, since he just gave up a hit and another run.  Totally worth it since "Mr Intangibles and Mr. Yankee and total clutch performer who can do anything" just failed to get down a sac bunt and struck out.  Suck it, Jeter.

-  Double play after Howard catches the ball in the air or doesn't or something.  Honestly I couldn't even tell on several replays if he caught that or not.  Then again, I'm a little drunk. 

-  I know I'm talking about TV alot today, but shut up it's my blog.  Get your own if you don't like.  Anyway my point here is that I stopped watching Heroes.  The first season is still one of the best seasons of all-time of any show, for serious, but it has totally lost it's way.  Not only has the writing petered off and become it's own little SyFy original movie script, but they can't kill anybody off.  They have killed like, ten people on that show, only to have each and every one of them (somtimes multiple times each) come back to life, not really be dead, or basically find some back way to get them back on the show.  That's all fine and dandy for a kids show, where you can't expect children to deal with death and all that jazz, but this is ridiculous for an adult show, and specifically a science fiction show.  Even Vampire Diaries just killed off a major character with a stake through her hot boob. I just can't do it.  I'm out.

-  Phils down two and will now have to face Chamberlain and Rivera.  Not lookin' good here.

-  Whoops, nevermind, we're going with Mariano for two here.  I don't know if I agree or disagree in this situaton, but mostly because the Twins have never had a manager who can think outside of the "closer for the ninth" box, despite the fact that Captian Dumbshit

-  A huge walk to Rollins in an 11-pitch at bat and a single by Victorino passed "gold-glover" Texeira and we're in business.

-  Shit.  Utley grounds into a double play, mostly the umpire called anything within a foot of the plate a strike so he had to hack around.  Seriously, this is some of the worst balls and strikin' I've seen in a while.  Also, thanks for cutting to a replay of Jeter pumping his fist as you go to commercial, Fox.  Lord knows we don't see/hear/read enough about him already.

-  Mrs. W just asked me who was winning the game and when I said the Yankees she made a very nice noise of disgust.  So at least I got that going for me.

-  Ibanez doubles in the bottom of the ninth with two outs.  It's now up to Matty Stairs.  I think I'm in heaven.

-  Nevermind, he strikes out.  That wasn't very exciting.  Oh well, a split is what you had to hope for.  The Phillies are in pretty good shape, and Yankee fans are all douchebags, and don't let Ashley Tisdale tell you differently.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

World Series Game 1 Live Blog

Picking this bad boy up in the fourth, 1-0 Phillies thanks to the awesome Chase Utley.  Sabathia looked shaky early, but seems to have settled down, and Cliff Lee has been great.

-  Cliff Lee is like the next Sandy Koufax, dude.  I wasn't sure why they were going with Lee over Hamels, but he just struck out the side and looked awesome doing it.  Good call charlie Manuel.

-  Wow, I'm so used to Gardy here that I'm actually stunned that Robinson Cano isn't bunting here with a runner on first and nobody out.  Of course, Cano isn't exactly Punto, and he hit around .300 with 20+ homers, so I guess this isn't quite the same situation.

-  Wow, what a great freaking play by Rollins.  I have no idea if he meant to catch it or drop it, but he turned two either way and it was, simply put, brilliant.

-  UTLEYYYYyyyyyyyyy x2

-  By the way, I checked out some of the Wolves' game tonight, and first of all, that team is god awful (currently losing 74-61), and secondly, holy crap is Damien Wilkins a terrible defender.  He's ok on offense, in a boring sort of way (10 pts/9 rebs) but just a terrible, terrible, horrible, ugly defender.  In the fifteen minutes or so I watched, he gave up a bunch of layups, both by getting beat off the dribble and by losing guys away from the ball on cuts or screens.  It was, without question, the worst thing I've ever watched - other than Jumper.

-  McCarver keeps talking about how Jayson Werth is the best player nobody is talking about, and it turns out in a rare turn of events he's right.  .268/.373/..506 with 36 homers this year?  That's nearly identical to the year Jason Bay had, and Bay is talked about as a top five MVP kind of guy, while Werth is rarely mentioned in any conversation of the game's best.  You know why?  People love RBIs, and Bay had 119 while Werth had 99.  Werth is kind of like the Jason Kubel of the National League, and he's rapidly moving up my list of favorite players. 

-  Now that I think about it, I think the debate was actually Hamels or Pedro for game 2, not Hamels vs. Lee for game 1.  In any case, Cliff Lee is god damned awesome.

-  Jeter knocks a hit with one out in the bottom of the sixth.  Man, he is such a true Yankee hero.  He's like the Brett Favre of baseball (which kind of makes him the Pete Rose of baseball, which actually makes a lot of sense).

-  Lee gets Damon to pop up, and not only does he catch it himself (going against a very silly unwritten rule of baseball) but kind of pulls a hybrid Rickey Henderson 1-handed catch/Hap Felsch basket catch).  Very pimp.  Lee is rapidly moving up the chart of my favorite players, also partially because of that wicked ass curveball that I somehow didn't realize he had.

-  It's now clear that I'm rooting heavily for the Phillies, which makes sense since I kind of adopted them as my NL team after I went to a game at Citizen's Bank Park for a work thing.  I wasn't expected Yankee hatred to bubble to the surface, but here it is.  It wasn't until I started picturing the articles and reactions if they won that my blood started to boil.  Please don't let the Yankees win, it's going to be disgusting.

-  CC walks Francisco to lead off the inning, but gets a double play and another easy out.  He's at 113 pitches, so is probably done for the night.  That was a big chance to get a couple more, hopefully it doesn't kill them, because that Philly bullpen is questionable at best.  Luckily kick ass Cliff Lee is only at about 86, two more innings and then hand it over to Lidge (and close your eyes and pray).

-  One other thing I forget to mention from the Wolves game (currently losing 87-79), is that Terrence Williams, formerly of Louisville and now on the Nets, is going to be an absolute stud.  The announcer called him a point guard trapped in a linebacker's body, and that's a pretty apt description.  He currently has 15 points and 10 boards, and was unstoppable when I was watching (Brook Lopez has 27 and 14, but he's a weirdo and the Wolves don't have anything resembling a center, so I'm not impressed).   

-  Holy crap Natalie Portman is on Top Chef (which we are watching, I'm watching the game on an internet feed) and oh my goodness is she hot.  This isn't quite like seeing her live, but she's not in a movie role and she is just amazing looking.  I always had her near the top of my list, but I have kind of forgotten about her lately.  No more.  She is rapidly moving up my list of hottest chicks.  Look:

-  Posada check swings a little nubber down the line which Lee picks up, and instead of just tagging Posada out, he tags him by slapping him on the ass with his glove.  Man crush picking up major steam.  Right now if I have to choose Portman or Lee, I'm going Portman, but it's closer than you'd like to think or I'd like to admit.

-  Yankees close Sabathia's day out:  7ip, 4 hits, 3 walks, 2 runs, and 6 Ks.  Pretty good day of work outside of the two Utley ding-dongs.  Of course, he's also lucky none of those walks came around to score.  The Yanks are going Hughes here, and I'm guessing Rivera in the 9th, so the Phils better hope they don't somehow lose this lead.

-  NOTE:  Natalie Portman's favorite color is purple.  This will come in handy when I commence with the stalking.  And she just made a "prick in your mouth" joke.  Be still my heart.

-  Sorry.  During all that Rollins walked and stole second, followed by another walk to Victorino, and we're going to Damaso Marte.  Nice job Hughes, I'm glad you're not a Twin.  That would be pretty sweet if Utley knocks out a third one here.  I'm also legitimately surprised Girardi isn't giving the ball to Mariano here - I thought that was always the M.O.

-  Utley whiffs on three called strikes that all might have been outside, but the important thing here is that somehow the Wolves won 95-93.  I have no idea what happened, but now I'm going to have to watch the damn news.  You win this round, Don Shelby.

-  God, watching this show she has such a wonderful personality, too, and she's smart and a Harvard grad.  Two real issues here:  1) she's a flaming liberal and 2) she's a vegetarian.  I don't think it would work for us to get married, but Natalie, if you want to have a little fling shoot me an email, girl.

-  Robertson comes in and walks Werth after Howard flew out.  Bases loaded, two outs for Ibanez.  Still surprised we aren't getting Rivera.

-  Ibanez comes through and knocks in two, looks like Rivera would have been a better move than leaving in Dave frreaking Robertson.  I think Girardi should be fired.

-  Cliffy back out for the 8th, just under 100 pitches.  If he can handle this one quick we might be looking at a complete game shut out.

-  Two pitches, and a ground ball up the middle he fields behind his back.  I don't think I even need to say it.

-  Lee whiffs Swisher for the second out.  I wonder if he's still making the team laugh and doing fancy handshakes while they continue walking out there and looking like clowns against Superman Lee.

-  Third out is an easy fly out.  Lee at something like 107 pitches.   Hopefully they give him the chance to finish it.

-  Phillies pick up two more on a bunch of hits, and it would have been three put apparently the "Flyin' Hawaiian" is slow as shit.  6-0 going into the bottom of the ninth.

-  Two bloop hits and a Jimmy Rollins error and the shutout is gone, but Lee finishes it out and the Phils lead 1-0, and this was just a stud performance by Cliff Lee.  I think he's rocketing up my list of favorite baseball players.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

DWG's NBA Preview (ok not really, just some stuff)

I was going to write an NBA preview, but I got bored after one division and plus I think this blog has been a bit "preview-y" lately.  Instead I'll just say that the Wolves suck but Jonny Flynn wins the Rookie-of-the-Year, Lebron just misses averaging a triple-double (something like 30-9-9) but the Cavs don't make the finals, and the remaining Nets fans (assuming there are some) revolt after they don't get Lebron despite having completely gutted their team to make a run at him.  Oh, and Magic over Spurs in the finals.

-  Since I just got back from a nice dinner with the in-laws at the 5-8 Club (Garlic cheeseburger, jojo potatoes, cole slaw, + a couple Mich Golden Draft Lights), and I have a few Miller High Lifes in the fridge, I think I will continue typing things for a little while.

-  It's finally happened.  The usually positive and upbeat Daily Gopher has cracked, with JG writing this 1,000 word rant going after Tim Brewster.  Needless to say, it's my favorite post ever.  How he was able to write that many words on Brewster and not use the word "suck" even once is a mystery to me.  If I wrote that long a piece about him, I'm pretty sure it would just be "Tim Brewster really sucks" except instead of one really there would be 997 of them.

-  Since I'm linking things, go ahead and try to read this Rick Reilly article without chocking on it's combination of sickly sweet cheesiness and irrational shitheadness.  I've written in here before, but Reilly has morphed from a pretty good, funny, and entertaininig journalist to some kind of unholy chimera-like combination of Sid Hartman, Patrick Reusse, a broken robot that only speaks in metaphor, and your upbeat super-religious aunt who has to spin everything in a positive light.  This one here might be the worst (it's the entry from 10/23, in case it's been pushed down), where he gives a whole ton of credit for the Yankees' great season to Nick Swisher - not for his play, but for his clubhouse fun demeanor, his hair styles, and his handshakes.  He actually states that the Yankees wouldn't go this far in the playoffs without Swisher.  Actually, I would have said Derek Jeter's resurgence, A-Rod not slumping in the playoffs, Jorge Posada's succesful return from injury, the best bullpen in the majors, and the additions of Mark Texeira, C.C. Sabathia, and A.J. Burnett have a lot more to do with it, especially considering his stats are nearly identical to what Bobby Abreau put up last year in the same position.

Look, I like Swisher, really I do, and he's a good player and by all accounts is a swell guy, but this is just another example of a journalists going out of their way to write a "human interest" piece where one doesn't belong, simply because the unwashed and uninformed masses eat this garbage up because it's too hard to understand statistics.  This kind of crap actually makes me angry, second only to when sharks roar in movies.  Of course, when the article started out comparing Nick Swisher being on the Yankees to Wanda Sykes being elected to the supreme court, I should have known this wasn't going to be an enjoyable (or in any way informative) read.  And what's with the shot at Kate Hudson?  Totally worthless.

-  I made a couple of NBA bets tonight, seeing as how I'm totally into THE LEAGUE right now:  Rockets +8.5, Mavericks -8.5, Cavs -5, Cavs/Celtics OVER 183, Nowitski OVER 33.5 pts + rebs, and Clippers +12.  Right now the Cavs are up 28-21 at the end of the first quarter - sounds good so far.

-  Speaking of the Clips, that really sucks that Blake Grifin broke his kneecap or whatever.  I was looking forward to seeing what he could do - I really think he can be an all-star from day one.  And on that note, don't you find it interesting that Bill Simmons constantly writes about the Clippers Curse, but also ripped any journalist who talked about the Red Sox Curse?  Interesting.  I'm still planning on getting his NBA book.

-  Shawn Marion is on the Mavericks?  I had no idea.  That guy has been passed around like Lindsay Lohan since he inexplicably forced his way off a contending team with the perfect system for him and a point guard who loved nothing more than sharing the ball.  Seriously, Marion was in a perfect situation in Phoenix.  He had a steady diet of Prime Rib, and switched it for Dinty Moore.  Hi was vacationing in Vegas and swapped it for Detroit.  He had a PS3 and turned it in for a Turbo Graphix.  He was humping Audrina and downgraded to Spencer's sister.  And keep in mind this was all voluntary.  Basically Audrina was laying on the bed in lingerie and waiting and he jumped in the car and drove across town for Spencer's ugly sister in her sweatpants eating ice cream out of the bucket and her four cats. 

Good call Shawn.

-  We're heading to the fourth, the Celtics leading the Cavs 72-65.  Want to be Lebron goes crazy in this quarter and the Cavs end up covering the five?  I would be willing to wager that Lebron (right now with 23 points, 1 rebound, and 7 assists) ends up scoring 20 this quarter.

-  No comments about Sano and the Twins?  Really?  And speaking of no comments, where the hell has the Sidler been.  I'm a bit concerned at this point.

-  If any of you go see this Robin Williams/John Travolta horrible thing of a movie that I just saw a trailer for, we can no longer be friends.  Not even a little bit.  They should just take every theater that is showing that, and after the coming attractions, burn the place down.  It's for the best.

-  Right now we are watching the Scream Awards, which are basically the Oscars for Sci Fi and Horror films.  The best actress in a Sci Fi award was just given to Megan Fox.  Come on.  Yes, she's hot.  I have no argument with that, but this is supposed to be taken seriously, right?  Then this should be for acting ability, not just hotness.  I don't think Megan Fox would be a standout actress at a high school production of Fiddler, but now that you mention it this picture:

  I'm pretty sure just having this picture on here is going to triple the traffic I get from google image searches.

-  Well, Lebron did manage to score 15 in the fourth, but he (and the rest of the Cavs) decided not to guard Paul Pierce and the Celtics ended up winning 95-89 (which covered the over, but not the spread). It seems I may have underrated the Celtics, since they beat the Cavs with a uninspiring performance from KG, in a game that may have highlighted how bad his knees are right now (he missed a big time hammer dunk).  Obviously Boston was just fine, thanks to a big time performance off the bench by Rasheed.  I'm telling you man, that Rasheed signing might have been the most important move anybody made this offesason.  Those two can tandem at the PF so well, Boston might not have much of a fall-off, even if KG's legs are all broken and such.

-  I was going to stay up and watch the whole second game (Lakers/Clippers), but it's now 20 minutes past the starting tip time and they still haven't gotten going.  I'm a very busy man, and can't just be held up by this, so I'm gonna sign off.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Weekend Review - 10/26/2009

 I'm going to avoid talkinmg about the Vikes I think, just because you could come up with five things that were awesome and five things that sucked just from that game without even trying.  AP is ridiculously good and Childress is still an idiot.  Seriously, you're going to pass twice from the 1-yard line and then kick an 18 yard field goal when you have the best back in football?  Arg.  But, it's an AFC/NFC game, and I didn't really expect the Vikes to win in the first place, so I'm not too worried about it.  There are plenty of other things to talk about.


1.  The Twins.  Season's over, but the Twins manage to get in here thanks to their actually spending some money and dipping into the foreign player market.  In case you missed it, and most people did thanks to the miracle comeback and subsequent sweep, Bill Smith went out and signed Miguel Angel Sano, who, according to that article from ESPN, is considered by many to be the top teenage prospect in Latin America (he claims he's 16, but it's Latin America so he could be anywhere from 14 to 30).  He's a shortstop who is already 6-3, 200 lbs, so odds are he will end up being moved to third or the outfield, but apparently his bat is good enough for that not to matter.  The Twins coughed up $3.15 million for a bonus to sign Sano, which is the second most ever given to a Dominican player and a veritable fortune for the Twins.  For more on Sano, as well as the Twins other aggressive moves this offseason you may have missed, check out this post by the Jesus of Twins bloggers, Aaron Gleeman. 

2.  A-Rod.  I wrote this here before, but I'll say it again - I'm incredibly happy A-Rod is having the postseason he is, because now idiots may finally start appreciating maybe the best right handed hitter in history.  I won't get into a whole big argument here, maybe I'll save that for another post sometime, but he's definitely in the conversation, yet all the morons in the media and idiot fans can ever talk about is his "postseason choking" - now they won't have that to fall back on.  After going 2-2 last night (with 3 walks), A-Rod has a hit in every single game this postseason, with an RBI in every game except one and a total line of .438/.538/.969.  Just an incredible run, and if that's not enough to shut up the morons, I don't know what to tell you.    

3.  TCU.   Both BYU and Boise State had claims to being the best non-BCS conference team in the country at different points this season, but after Saturday's 38-7 shellacking that the Horned Frogs put on BYU, they're looking like the best bet to break up the BCS party.  Not only did they smoke the Cougars, but they did it in Provo, and did it by shutting down a very good QB in BYU's Max Hall, who threw for just 162 yards on 18-28 passing.  I haven't had a chance to actually watch TCU this year, so I don't know if they can hang with Florida or Alabama, but this win is a pretty compelling argument, as is their early season win over Clemson.  At 7-0 and with easy games left outside of a November 14th match up against Utah, they should be looking at a BCS bowl.

4.  The Colts and the Saints.  Both remained undefeated, and both showed why they are the favorites to make it to the Super Bowl, although they did it in very different ways.  The Colts just came out and stomped the piss out of the far inferior Ram, jumping out to a quick 14-3 lead on the way to a 42-6 win in which Peyton Manning barely had to break a sweat, while Marc Bulger continued to spiral down the drain.  The Saints had a rougher go, falling behind 24-3 to the Dolphins and looking lost, before a Miami fumble with time winding down in the first half changed their fortunes.  The Saints scored with five seconds remaining in the half, and used that as a springboard to a huge second half where they outscored Miami 26-10 and ended up winning 46-34, thanks to Drew Brees bouncing back from a horible start and leading them on three consecutive scoring drives of over 60 yards in the second.  If it does end up being these two in the Super Bowl, and it looks like there's a good chance it will, we might be looking at the highest scoring Super Bowl ever.  I'm thinking like, 55-52.  Sweet.

5.  Ryan Anderson.  White boy can ball folks.  I loved Anderson at Cal, but wasn't really sure how his game would translate to the NBA, but after catching part of the Magic's preseason game on Friday night, I'm sold.  It was a rare chance for me to get to the bar, and they happened to have the game on for a little while before they felt the need to change every single TV in the place to the shitty Gopher hockey game, and he's not only good, but he's aggressive.  In like six minutes of play he took 4 or 5 shots, inside and outside, and hit a couple of deep threes and got a put back or two.  Checking the preseason stats, he's averaged 14 points and 4 rebounds while shooting 49% overall and 56% from three.  He was decent with the Nets last year, but no where near this good.  Everybody thought Vince Carter was the jewel of that trade, but the "throw-in" of Anderson might end up being the most significant part of that deal (which I already mentioned somewhere on this blog after the trade was made).         


1.  Gopher football. I know I am hard on Gopher football when I accidentally pay attention to it, but jeezum was that awful.  Following up a 20-0 loss to Penn State with a 38-7 shellacking by Ohio State in a game that wasn't even that close is a good way to lose your fan base, and plant your coach firmly on the hot seat.  And yes, I understand those are two of the top teams in the conference, but let's not get carried away here.  Ohio State lost to Purdue and Penn State struggled with Illinois - we aren't talking Florida here.  Sadly, they will beat South Dakota State and either Michigan State or Illinois, win six games, and go to a crappy bowl and some fans will point to this as a successful season.  At this point, the only way you could consider this successful is if they run the table, including a win over Iowa, or they win three games with MarQueis Gray at quarterback.  And after his performance Saturday (5-6 passing and the only TD, 81 rushing yards) it's stime to hand over the keys and see what he can do in a full game.  As Buck Bravo wrote over at the Daily Gopher, "Adam Weber's accuracy, decision-making, footwork, ability to recognize defensive schemes, and confidence have regressed."  Couldn't have said it better myself.  Go with Gray - at the very least he's exciting to watch.

2.  Illinois.  Speaking of Illinois, do you realize how god awful this team is?  I didn't.  And I have no idea what happened.  In 2007, they were the hot young team, who went 9-4, including a huge win over Ohio State, and ended up going to the Rose Bowl (where they were stomped by USC).  Sophomore QB Juice Williams looked like he had taken the next step in his development, and was going to lead Illinois football back to national prominence.  2008 started ok, but was a bit disappointing.  With three weeks to play, Illinois was 5-4 with two very winnable games left against Northwestern and Western Michigan, needing just one win to get to a bowl, a disappointing bowl, but a bowl nonetheless.  Instead the Illini dropped all three, with Williams throwing more picks than TDs, getting sacked 9 times, and not scoring a single TD, and they finished the season 5-7, and are still trying to recover.  They lost 24-14 against Purdue on Saturday, which now drops their record to 1-6 on the season, with their lone win over Illinois State.  Williams has thrown more picks than TDs, has yet to break 60 yards rushing in a game, and is dead last in the Big Ten in QB rating and passing yards.  This certainly isn't where I thought the Illini would end up two years ago.

3.  LaDainian Tomlinson.  Last week I used this exact same space to talk about how LT looked better than he had in a couple of years, and maybe he wasn't fully washed up just yet.  Then comes today's game against the Chiefs, and although 23 carries for 71 yards isn't awful, it's the lack of a TD tacked on there that is the horrible part.  Tomlinson, once a goal line runner the rival of Emmitt Smith and Shaun Alexander in their primes, was given the ball eight times inside the five, six of which were from the 2-yard line or closer, and failed to get in the end zone (he did, at least, score on a play that came back due to a penalty).  Today was the kind of game that an in his prime Tomlinson scores 3 or 4 TDs, a good back gets at least two, and an average back scores once - minimum.  I read a game report that the blocking down on the goal line for San Diego was absolutely awful, but in any case this is pretty disappointing, and a big blow to those that were hoping LT was still an above average runner.  

4.  Chicago Bears.  Nice game.  Geez you guys suck.  Take your pick, offense or defense, and there's plenty to discuss.  Defensively, they pretty much let the Bengals do whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted.  Carson Palmer could have thrown a touchdown left-handed, but instead decided not to show the Bears up and stayed with the right hand, going 20-24 for 233 yards and five TDs, including two to Ochocinco.  If that's not enough, suddenly completely rejuvenated back Cedric Benson shredded his old team (who betrayed him like Lando Calrissian) for 189 yards and a touch on 37 carries.  The Bengals just did anything they wanted, and never even had to punt.  And just in case you thought maybe the Bears could get into a shootout or something and win, they instead decide to turn the ball over four times (3 on Cutler INTs) on their way to scoring just ten points, aka five touchdowns less than the Bengals.  I think it's safe to say the Vikes don't have to worry about the Bears anymore. 

5.  Cleveland Indians.  Manny freaking Acta?  Seriously?  According to the article, the Indians like how Acta developed young players for the Nationals, and are disregarding his record - one of the worst in baseball history and bad enough that a web site exists called "Has Manny Acta been fired yet".  My question is, exactly who has he developed, outside of Ryan Zimmerman?  Elijah Dukes has been a perpetual disappointment, and Lastings Milledge failed so brilliantly after coming over from the Mets that he was banished to the minors before getting traded to the Pirates.  Wily Mo Pena has gotten worse since joining the Nats.  He didn't screw up Jordan Zimmerman at least, but he hasn't exactly lit the world on fire either.  Well, who am I to complain when they're in the Twins' division.  About the only downside here is that Gardy might not be the worst manager in the AL Central anymore.  

Manny Acta?

Friday, October 23, 2009

NCAA Basketball Preview: The Big East

There are sixteen freaking teams in this conference.  Sixteen!!  No wonder they got eight or nine teams or whatever in the tournament last year.  That's like the Big Ten getting five or six - no big whoop.  Even so, there are a whole lot of quality teams here - the dominance of last year won't be repeated, but there are plenty of good teams in the Big East again and a final four contender or two.

1.  West Virginia.  There's no doubt Bob Huggins is leaving his stamp on this team, and not just with stellar recruiting and good overall coaching, but with lax disciplinary actions as well.  The team's two point guards, Joe Mazzulla and Darryl Bryant, were both arrested this summer (Mazzulla on domestic battery charges - his second arrest following up last year's for assaulting a police officer, Bryant for two separate hit and run incidents, including "bumping" a pedestrian), but surprise, surprise, they are both back on Huggy Bear's squad.  I'm kidding here, of course, I don't give a crap what any player does off the court and I hvae no problem with schools bending whatever rules possible to win - and win the Mountaineers should do.  Da'Sean Butler is a monster, and Devin Ebanks is going to be an absolute superstar.  Since it's Huggy, they'll probably flame out in the second round of the tournament, but they should be gold in the regular season.

2.  Villanova.  Scottie Reynolds coming back instead of staying in the NBA draft is a bit of a double-edged sword, for both the Wildcats and for me.  For Nova, it gives them back their leading scorer, but also a bit of a wildcard who can go off in a bad way, chucking shots at every opportunity and sometimes shooting them right out of a game, and makes a crowded, yet talented, backcourt even more crowded.  For me, I'm sort of happy I get another season to root against him, but on the other hand it would have been kind of fun to watch him not get drafted and end up languishing in Norwegian Basketball League or something.  Oh well.  Villanova is going to be very good again this year, and once again will be very perimeter-based with all those guards back.  Plus they add two McDonald's All-Americans, both guards, in Maalik Wayns (#26 Rivals) and Dominic Cheek (#30).  Their big concern is up front.  Losing Dante Cunningham, Dwayne Anderson, and Shane Clark takes away nearly 50% of their rebounds from last year.  Luckily, they have two other stud recruits, #10 Mouphtaou Yarou and #62 Isaiah Armwood coming in and both bring size and rebounding. 

3.  UCONN.  Lots of talent leaves, but since Calhoun got this program all straightened out again after that brief dip into crappiness in 2007, you can bet their is plenty coming back and coming in as well.  Kemba Walker and Jerome Dyson might be the best backcourt in the conference.  Walker is quick as lightning and played very well down the stretch last year after Dyson got hurt.  Speaking of Dyson, I love his game.  Assuming he's all the way back from injury, I can see him making a run at First Team All Big East.  Stanley Robinson is back as well, and he's an incredible athlete who also came into his own the second half of last year.  If someone can step in and fill the up the paint with Thabeet and Adrien gone, either one of the seldom used veterans or freshman Alex Oriakhi, the #21 prospect according to Rivals, the Huskies could have an oustide shot at another Final Four appearance.

4.  Cincinnati.  I love the Bearcats this year.  Love 'em.  Deonta Vaughn is a stone-cold killer at guard, and he's back with more help.  Yancy Gates is a big man who made the all Big East freshman team last year and is just going to get better, and there's plenty of other help here with four starters coming back, and after the fall semester will be joined in the paint by former Oklahoma State center Ibrahima Thomas, giving them another low post scorer and solid defender.  Another big help will come from freshman Cashmere Wright, a top 100 prospect last year before hurting his knee and missing the entire season.  Cincinnati is loaded with combo guard types, but Wright gives them a true point guard, which should help Vaughn score even more.  The real wild card here is SF Lance Stephenson, a top 10 recruit, a McDonald's All-American, and the all-time leading scorer in New York High School basketball history.  He's still a question mark on academics, and has been a bit of a handful in high school, getting in trouble for getting in a fight with a teammate as well as for "groping" a girl against her will in the hallway (you know she wanted it).  His issues are such that high profile schools such as UNC and Kansas pulling out of his recruitment.  If he gets eligible and can mesh with his new teammates, the sky is the limit for the Bearcats.  If he doesn't, or if he's a discipline problem, they could end up anywhere from a good team to a disaster.  At 200-1 to win the whole thing, this is a great option to put $5 down on.

5.  Georgetown.  Greg Monroe was insanely impressive last season, and despite averaging a fairly pedestrian 12.7 points and 6.5 rebounds last season he loooked ready to break out at any time.  Trust me, if you watched him play at all he looks amazing.  Already as a freshman he could handle the ball on the perimeter, and not just passing, I watched him put it on the floor and drive right passed several slower, less agile centers.  He also already possessed a handful of moves on the block and a decent mid-range game, and is a capable defender.  Last season you could see he was willing to play a more complimentary role, even though he probably shouldn't have.  If he comes into this season with a more assertive attitude, there's no way the Hoyas end up without a bid and an inexplicably horrible record like they did last season.  I'm telling you, if you have a chance to watch Monroe next season, take the time to check him out.  He'll probably be a Wolf soon.

6.  Louisville.  Losing Terrence Williams and Earl Clark is not going to be easy.  Those two did essentially everything for the Cardinals, outside of three point shooting.  They were the top 2 scorers, rebounders, and assist men for Louisville last year, and so it's understandable to expect the team to take a step back.  How far will mainly depend on Samardo Samuels, who couldn't even stop Travis Busch.  Last year Samuels was the third option and played well, but this season he will need to become the man.  Another important player, and massive head-scratcher, is point guard Edgar Sosa.  As a freshman, he played brilliantly at times, put up very good numbers for a first year player, and looked like he was going to be the next "big-time PG from New York."  Instead, he's taken a step backward after a step backward, and now goes into his senior year with just one more chance to try to recapture whatever it is he lost from his debut season.  If he can't, freshman Peyton Siva is now on board, and was ranked #39 on the Rivals 150.  He could easily end up taking Sosa's job - if Rick Pitino manages to stop banging broads long enough to pay attention. 

7.  Syracuse.  Every where I turn it seems like there's a new article about how Iowa State transfer Wesley Johnson is like, the greatest transfer of all-time and he's going to carry the Orange and I don't get.  Don't get me wrong, he's a good player and all (averaged 12 points and 4 rebounds his last year at ISU), but he's no savior.  He wasn't highly recruited out of high school, and although he burst on the scene his freshman year he regressed quite a bit in year two.  If Syracuse wasn't losing Paul Harris (one of my favorites the last few years), criminal Eric Devendorf, and Jonny Flynn, he might be the missing piece that vaults them to the top - but those guys are all gone.  There is still some quality talent here, and I love watching Arinze Onuaku, who really doesn't mess around and try to get all fancy.  He just gets the ball, knocks defenders over, and then dunks on their stupid heads.  The Cuse should be good again, assuming they find some guard play somewhere, but let's calm down a wee tad on Wesley.

8.  Notre Dame.  Harangody is back - yes again - which makes the Irish dangerous in any given game, but the majority of his supporting cast is gone, and I'm not sure if that's good or bad after last year's total flame out.  None of the incoming recruits are particularly impressive, with apologies to Minnesota's own Mike Broghammer, so it's going to fall on returning veterans to get the Irish back to the NCAA Tournament.  They do have their starting point guard back in little Tory Jackson.  He's very hard to keep out of the paint, but is not a good outside shooter and, although he's improved his free-throw shooting, can be a liability at the end of games.  Two transfers were supposed to shore up the team this season, Ben Hansbrough from Mississippi State and Scott Martin from Purdue.  Hansbrough will be key if they want to get to the NCAAs, but Martin got hurt and is going to miss the whole season. 

9.  Seton Hall.  This is a really interesting team, and on paper they have a chance to be much better than 9th.  It starts with their returning star, shooting guard Jeremy Hazell.  He's a scoring machine who can get hot at a moment's notice, and averaged 22.7 points per game last season, second in the Big East, despite shooting just 42%.  Less might be more here, and he should have more help this season, beyond even the two other returning double digit scorers returning to the Pirates in the form of a couple of interesting transfers, one inside and one outside.  The perimeter guy is Keon Lawrence, who comes to the Hall via Missouri.  Lawrence is an excellent scorer (he put up 9.7 and 11.0 ppg in his two years at Mizzou) who will help take some pressure off of Hazell, and is talented enough to shoulder the scoring load some nights (he put up 25 against Kansas one year).  Power Forward Herb Pope, the other transfer - this time from New Mexico State, might be even more important since the Pirates a bit thin on the inside.  Pope was a high school superstar - ranked #31 by Rivals and offered by Texas, Pitt, and Memphis - and averaged 11 points and 7 rebounds per game in his one season in the desert.  If everything and everyone pulls together and meshes well, an NCAA Tournament bid isn't out of the question.

10.  Pitt.  Thank god Pitt is finally going to take a step back this year, I've been getting more tired of that program than I can possibly express in words.  They lose pretty much everybody, which is good news for me because rotund irritant Levance Fields is finally gone, but is bad for Pitt.  Their leading returning scorer, and only 20+ minute guy who is coming back, Jermaine Dixon, is more of a defensive specialist than any kind of offensive threat.  Of course, Jamie Dixon couldn't just relax for a little bit, and he is bringing in a very good recruiting class - including Rivals #14 prospect Dante Taylor, who has a good chance to win Big East ROY - so this break from having Pitt up in your face every time you turn on ESPN will be short-lived.  Enjoy it folks, I know I will.   

11.  Rutgers.  I always find myself rooting for Rutgers and I think there are two reasons.  The first, is that I liked watching Quincy "rolling a" Douby and that other guy whose name I can't remember right now when they were there and the Scarlet Knights were actually good.  The second is that they have a great home court advantage when they are good, and they call the place the RAC which is pronounced like "rack", of which I am a big fan.  So maybe I'm overrating them a tad but I think Rutgers could sneak up on a few people this season, especially at home.  The program's first McDonald's All-American, Mike Rosario, paid immediate dividends, leading the team in scoring, but something more needs to happen if this is Rutgers return to prominence.  They add a pretty decent batch of newcomers, which includes top 100 recruit SF Dane Miller, top 40 JuCo James Beatty - who will probably start at PG from day one, and a small forward transfer from Florida in Jonathan Mitchell, a top 100 recruit in 2006 and a bit player on Florida's second National Championship team.  In a down Big East, maybe this is their year.

12.  Marquette.  Jerel McNeal, Dominic James, and Wes Matthews were without question on of the best three-man backcourts I have ever seen, and maybe the best since Lethal Weapon 3 (the aesome Georgia Tech one, not the craptacualrly overrated South Carolina nickname stealing one).  But yeah, those guys are gone.  Swingman Lazar Haywood is back at least, and despite being in the guards shadow a bit he's developed into an outstanding player - did you know that other than Luke Harangody, Haywood was the only Big East player to rank in the top 10 in both scoring and rebounding last season?  I bet you had no idea he was that good, did you?  There's some nice players coming in this year's recruiting class, with, no surprise, an emphasis on the perimeter, including Rivals #47 Jeronne Maymon, who the Gophers were looking at for a time, but unless Hayward has a super human year, I don't think we'll see the Golden Eagles back in the NCAA tournament.

13.  St. Johns.  The Redmen or Red Storm or Reds or whatever they are have an interesting group of talent this year - they should be deep, but I just don't know if they'll be good.  They lose nobody off of their 6-12 Big East team from last year, and have plenty of balance with five players who scored between 9 and 15 points per game - although Anthony Mason only played 3 games last year.  Mason is still hurt, and will be out 4-6 weeks, so it will be interesting to see what happens when he tries to return as lead dog and reintegrate with his teammates who will have played over a season's worth of games without him.   

14. South Florida.  Did you know that South Florida had one of the best all-around players in the Big East?  Me neither, but they do and he's only a junior.  Dominique Jones, a 6-4 guard out of Florida, was a bit underrated coming out of high school (3 stars, unranked, mid-major type offers), but he's certainly blossomed with the Bulls.  He finished 9th in the conference in scoring (18.1 ppg), was 27th in rebounding (5.6 rpg), and was 12th in assists at 3.9 per game, and also led the Bulls in steals and was second in blocks while scoring in double figures in 55 of his 62 career games.  Yeah, he's good.  There's not a ton of help around him, but the best recruiting class the Bulls have had in a long time is coming in this year, and two transfers - PG Anthony Crater from Ohio State and C Jarrid Famous from a JuCo - bring hope, if nothing else.  Crater is especially important because Jones won't have to worry about playing the point, and that should lead to a huge year.

15. Providence.  I liked the Friars last year quite a bit, but they could never quite rise above "pesky" and fell just short of gaining an NCAA bid.  Now five of the top seven guys are gone, and although Sharaud Curry and Marshon Brooks are good players, replacing two thirds of the team's scoring from last season is no easy feat, and a big burden will fall on a huge group of newcomers.  The closest thing to a standout in the group is PG Johnnie Lacy (#143 according to Rivals), whose name you might remember because the Gophers had given him a scholarship offer.  Unless a couple of juco guys work out really well, it will probably be a long year for the Friars, but with a good class this year and an even better one already in the works for next year, things should turn around, unlike

16.  DePaul.  The worst arena in the country hosts what might be, once again, the worst major conference team in the country.  Seems fitting.  The Blue Demons didn't win a single conference game (until a shocker of a win in the Big East tournament), and now see their best player leave for the NBA draft (note:  he didn't get drafted).  There's some talent here, Mac Koshwal is a great all around player and Will "Wheel" Walker is a good scorer, but that's about it.  Krys Faber, who chose DePaul over Minnesota, is still here as well, and is probably going to be questioning his decision when he's watching the Gophers in the tournament from his dorm room, because I don't think DePaul even has as much as a CBI bid in them.

Other Previews
Conference USA
Atlantic 10 
Mountain West 
Atlantic Coast 
Big Twelve

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Who are these guys?

If you're like me, you don't much care about the NBA until the playoffs even though you love the game of basketball.  You also find yourself irrationally getting a little excited before the start of every NBA season, only to have that excitement and "caring" wear off as soon as you watch your first game.  Since I haven't watched a preseason game or anything, I still have that tiny bit of excitement on me, much like the blood and mucus all over a new born baby, but I have one question, "Who the hell is on the Wolves?"

Seriously, with David "the" Kahn taking over and making trade after trade after signing, and with Ricky Rubio chilling over in Spain for a few more years, I really don't know who ended up on the team.  So let's see.


-  Jonny Flynn.  You probably know who this is.  The rookie from Syracuse who has scared Rubio so much that he won't even cross the Atlantic, and will likely start from Day 1, I think.  He's had a huge preseason, leading the team in assists and coming up second in scoring at 13.8 points per game.  Since I assume NBA Preseason success correlates perfectly with NBA Regular Season success, much like MLB or the NFL, I'm going to call him as rookie of the year, and probably a first ballot hall-of-famer.

-  Ramon Sessions.  I remember watching him at Nevada, and then I remember being surprised he was in the NBA, and then I remember being really surprised that the Wolves signed him for $4 million a year for four years, and then I remember being shockingly stunningly surprised by this article and the following comments that the $16 million contract was a steal for the Wolves.  Looking up the stats on my internet device, it appears he averaged 12 points and 6 assists per game last year, which sounds pretty good to me.  So, I guess like, good job Kahny?

-  Antonio Daniels.  Huh.  My brain tells me that this guy was a pretty decent player for the Spurs a few years back, and it seems odd that they would bring him in given the two point guards I already wrote about.  Let me confirm, hold on.  Yep, turns out he was a pretty decent player for ten years on a couple of pretty good teams - too bad he's coming into year 13 right now.  He put up career worst stats last season, but with two young and promising point guards on the team, a veteran who has been on more than a couple of playoffs team is probably a good idea for a mentor.  I approve of this.

-  Jason Hart.  This guy is still kicking around?  I remember him as somewhat of a disappointment coming out of Syracuse, but he's carved out a nice nichey career for himself as a third point guard on bad teams.  Now that I write it down, it feels like a match made in heaven.

-  Mustafa Shakur.  I'm laughing right now, I'm seriously laughing.  There's not a chance in hell this guy makes the team, but god bless you for trying.  He wasn't even that good at Arizona, and he spent the last few years playing in a Polish league with guys like the pride of UW-Green Bay Jeff Nordgaard and MSU benchwarmer Drew Naymick.  I wish I had known he was on the team, I totally would have gone to a preseason game.


- Sasha Pavlovic.  Clearly this is a pretty big weakness for the team, given that I'm listing this grease ball as the starter.  Actually guess what?  I have no idea who this is.  I thought it was the guy from the Lakers, but it turns out this guy has played for the Cavaliers for the last five years.  Seriously, I have no idea who this is, but he has a career scoring average of less than six per game.  Awesome.

-  Wayne Ellington.  He hasn't been great in the preseason, but he has shot 46% from three, which is awesome and exactly what they drafted him to do - hit the three pointer.  Of course, it's hard to fathom how a team would use a three point bomber when they're terrible, but with Al Jefferson requiring a double-team and a good drive-and-kick style guard like Flynn, Ellington will have opportunities to fill it up.  I anticipate some big games out of Ellington, surrounded by a lot of nothing games, but that's fine, as long as somebody can shoot the ball.

-  Damien Wilkins.  Meh.  I mean, he's totally meh.  He's not awful, but he's not going to make your pants tight or anything.

-  Devin Green.  I have no idea who this is.  Instead, you should know that Rusty Gatenby is a really funny name. 


-  Corey Brewer.  Coming off a major injury, it's pretty much go time for the guy I said would be "The best player in this draft not named Durant."  So yeah, let's do it Corey.  He filled it up in the preseaons, leading the Wolves with 14.3 points per game, although he's shot just 37%, which is completely terrifying.  Hopefully he can still play defense, or he's gunning for some kind of Least Valuable Player award.  Also, he's almost certainly going to be starting at shooting guard, thanks to shitbox collection of shooting guards on this team and because they're far more talented at SF.

-  Ryan Gomes.  The likely starter, this guy has turned into a pretty good player since coming out of Providence and being drafted late in the second round.  Gomes has developed a really good mid-range jumper, and if he wasn't just a little bit too slow to be a true 3 and a little bit undersized to be a true 4, he might be an all-star.  I'm totally serious, and perhaps slightly delusional.


-  Kevin Love.  He has been screwed, as in he now has several screws in his left hand and is going to miss six-to-eight weeks of action, which sucks.  Love won't ever be like, a perennial all-star type, but he's a damn fine player and had a very good rookie season in which he almost averaged a double-double.  He was getting better and better too, and in the last 8 games of last season he recorded six double-doubles.  I really like this kid, and this injury sucks.

-  Oleksiy Pecherov.  I don't really know who this is, but I know two things:  1)  he's seven feet tall, but just 234 lbs., is listed as a PF instead of a center, and is a commie Euro so he is clearly softer than The Todd's belly after a visit to Pancheros, and 2)  Pecker off. ahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahah.

-  Brian Cardinal.  God it makes me very upset that this guy is on a Minnesota team, but not as upset as realizing he's made several tens of millions of dollars in his career by having zero talent but being slightly tall and possessing an embarrassing willingness to fall on the ground.  Seriously, you remember this doofus nerd from Purdue, right?  Did you know he won Purdue's "Mr Hustle" and "Courage" award all four years he was there?  Barf.


-  Al Jefferson.  Definitely the star of the team, definitely more a PF than a center but forced to play center, and definitely is dealing with both the flu and an achilles tendon problem, which always sounds like the most painful thing in the world to me.  You know, if you slice someones achilles and they try to golf, when his weight displacement goes back he won't be able to come through because his weight will all be on his right foot and he'll push everything to the right.  Probably end up quitting the game. 

-  Ryan Hollins.  UCLA guy, typical college center type, good scorer around the basket and automatically a good rebounder by virtue of being seven feet tall, but really nothing special.  Sadly, he's the best of a mishmash of crappy back up centers.

-  Mark Blount.  This guy was on the team before, and he sucked and was overpaid then.  Now he's older and is making $8 million dollars a year to score four points a game.  The only way having him on the team even makes a lick of sense at this point is if they got him as part of a trade and he's coming off the books after this year so they can make a run at LeBron.  *giggle*

-  Jared Reiner.  The internet tells me that this goofball played for Iowa, and I know it wouldn't lie to me, but I sure as hell don't remember him.  That could be because Iowa has consistantly had a string of high energy, no talent, tall, skinny, worthless centers who all somehow manage to grab a cup of coffee in the NBA.  Remember Brad Lohaus?  Don't tell me cloning a human isn't possible, because Iowa has been doing it since he graduated.

So that's the roster as it stands right now.  I know there were a lot of moves and some guys who were here are gone, but I have no idea where.  I know they had Quentin Richardson (pure shooter), Etan Thomas (defensive force at the Cuse), and the communist from Wake Forest all at some point, but it seems they're gone now.  Looking like a long year folks, but, with a little luck and a few more injuries, that #1 pick will be in reach.