How weird is it that in my very last post, the one about Justin Cobbs, I referenced 'Lil Romeo and his career at USC, and now news is breaking all over the place that Romeo is leaving the program. Some people just report the news. I create it. With great power, comes great responsibility.
WHO WAS AWESOME
1. Kobe Bryant. I'm pretty sure anybody arguing that Kobe isn't the best player in the NBA at this point is either retarded or a moron, and it absolutely kills me to compliment him. It's impossible not to after the games he's put together against the Suns this week. Game 1: 40 points on 13-23 shooting, 5 assists, 5 boards. Game 2: 21 points on 8-18 shooting, 13 assists, 5 rebounds. And he was masterful. Took over scoring in Game 1 when the Suns single-covered him, and then became facilitator when they doubled him in Game 2. If he played like this all the time, he'd be the clear-cut best player in the NBA (he also had 36-11-9 in Game 3 but I didn't watch it because I was watching Lost so I can't comment). Plus, he made an appearance on the awesome awesome Modern Family for their season finale, and actually seemed somewhat likable. Or at least he didn't rape anybody. That I know of.
2. Dice-K. Matsuzaka almost pitched a no-hitter on Saturday night, going 7 and 2/3 before giving up a soft single to Juan Castro (yes, THE Juan Castro) to break it up. And why wouldn't he? I mean he came into that game with an ERA of 5.97 and WHIP of 1.3, and had only made it 7 innings in one of his four starts since returning from injury, so it was obvious a game like this was coming. Seriously, what is the deal with Boston and pitchers? It's like anybody who goes there suddenly has these random unhittable nights. Lester and Buchholz have no-hitters in the last couple of years, and now Dice-K with this masterful performance out of nowhere. I'd be fascinated by this and look up who the pitching coach there is, but I hate the Red Sox with all my heart so I'm not going to waste any more time here.
3. Bryce Harper. I suppose it's gotten to the point where I can't really ignore Harper anymore, especially since he's going to be the number 1 pick for the Nationals in the upcoming amateur draft, and helped propel his JC team to the JuCo World Series. How did he lead them to the NJCAA Western Division Championship? Simply by hitting for the cycle on Friday and then following that up with a 6-6 game with four home runs and ten RBIs, going 12 for 13 in the last two games. They hype on this kid has been ridiculous, but it's looking like he might actually be able to live up to it. More background here if you're interested, but in case you aren't familiar with him a quick summary is that he's a 17-year old catcher who dropped out of high school to attend the College of Southern Nevada after his sophomore year, taking the GED in order to get eligible to play and will now be eligible for the draft despite not being able to vote yet. Basically his whole life has been geared around being a professional baseball player. When this burn out comes, it's going to be spectacular. You know those repressed kids who get to college and just go insane with freedom? Like that x100.
4. Edwin Jackson. You remember this guy. Big-time prospect for the Rays, who was then a big-time prospect for the Tigers, who was then shipped to the D-backs for Max Scherzer. So far this season, it had looked like there was a reason he'd been on three teams in three years, racking up a 7.43 ERA in 8 starts, allowing 60 hits in 46 innings, and walking 18 with just 32 strikeouts. Suddenly this week, however, things look like they might be turning around. On Monday he went 8 innings, allowing 4 hits and no runs while striking out 12 and walking just two. Then on Saturday, he followed it up with a 7 and 2/3 inning performance, allowing six hits and five runs. That Saturday outing may not sound that great, but he struck out 9 and walked none, and had allowed just one run through seven innings before giving up a couple of homers in the 8th. He may very well go back to sucking, but that 21-2 K/BB ratio in his last two starts says he may have turned a corner.
5. Justin Morneau. Good god. Completely ridiculous. You know how a lot of people say Ted Williams was the best hitter ever? And others go with Ruth, or Bonds, or maybe Ty Cobb? Clearly all those people are idiots, because it's obvious Morneau is the best hitter ever. I haven't looked this up, but I'm pretty sure his line drive % this year is 100%. Or maybe like 75%, with 24% being home runs and 1% being ground balls that are hit so hard infielders are jumping out of the way. Seriously, remember how amazing Joe Mauer's season was last year? And yeah, it was pretty incredible, but this year Morneau is better than him in every single statistic. 18 points higher in batting average, 53 points higher in OBP, and 114 points better in slugging, and he's on pace to hit 15 or so more homers and walk about 60 more times. Just crazy numbers. Let's put it this way. Morneau is about 30% better this year compared to Mauer last year if we use OPS+ as our guide. To put that in perspective, last year Mauer was about 30% better than Michael Cuddyer last year. That's how good Morneau has been.
1. Orlando Magic. There is just so much to choose from here. What's your favorite part? Vince Carter's Dajuan Wagner impression at the end of game 2? Getting smoked in an absolute must-win game by 23 in a game that wasn't nearly that close? Letting Rasheed become a major factor? Letting Big Baby become a major factor? Dwight Howard being dominated in two of the three games by a combination of Kendrick Perkins and Rasheed? Rashard Lewis taking three games to finally surpass his season per game average in scoring, and only surpassing it by a single point thanks to his 6-24 shooting? Or maybe watching as KG and Ray Allen, who had looked pretty broken down at times this season, suddenly dominating like it was 2002. Just a whole lot to love here. I suppose I could give credit to the Celtics, but that's not nearly as fun, and it's really been pretty pathetic. Orlando Tragic, indeed.
2. Tommy Hanson. There's nothing quite as exquisite as watching someone I've pimped on the record completely flame out. Except instead of exquisite I mean whatever is the exact opposite of that. Hanson is having an excellent year thus far, and will likely continue to have an excellent year, and will probably have a very good career, but for one afternoon he was doing a hell of a Jesse Crain impression if Crain was a starter. On Thursday against the Reds, Hanson couldn't even get out of the second inning. He faced a total of 16 batters, and got less than a third of them out, giving up 8 hits, 2 walks, and 8 earned runs in just 1 and 2/3 innings. Ouch, Tommy. Ouch. I feel betrayed. Like Caesar. Or the Cherokee.
3. Rickie Weeks. Once a top prospect, Weeks struggled for his first four seasons a bit, being about a league average hitter and below average fielder. Then last season, he seemed to be putting it together, adding some power to his already always impressive on-base percentage, hitting 9 home runs in his first 37 games, and looked like he might fault towards the top of the second-basemen rankings if such a thing existed. Unfortunately, an injury derailed the rest of the season and he missed the rest of the year. He started off this season again like gangbusters and was kicking some ass, but the last couple of weeks he's fallen off the face of the planet. He went 3-18 this week. When added to his 3-24 week the week prior, you can see why his average has dropped from the .330s where it was earlier this season all the way down to the .230s. His power is also gone (slugging .382, lowest of his career), and he's already made five errors - which I think is more than the entire Twins team. I think his window has pretty much closed, and he's never going to end up living up to his potential. It's probably the dreadlocks.
4. Kerry Wood. Remember when I mentioned that Wood would probably be a pretty sought after closer around the trade deadline this year assuming he got healthy? Well, he got healthy. Too bad he sucks. On Friday he pitched an inning against the Reds, giving up a home run, and actually lowered his ERA by more than two runs. That's because on Wednesday he pitched against the Royals, and only managed to get one out. While trying to get that one out, he walked two batters and gave up four hits, allowing five runs to score. He did pitch a scoreless inning Sunday which lowered his ERA to 13.50 and WHIP to 2.63, and might end up being good again, but he certainly didn't get himself off to a good start.
5. Channing Frye. As far as NBA players go, Frye is not a particularly good one, although he's not terrible either. He does have one particularly valuable skill however, and that is being 6-11 and being able to make three-pointers. In fact, he made them at a 44% clip, good enough for 6th in the league, was in the All-Star 3-point contest, and takes more than half his attempts from behind the arc. He's basically a more accurate Rick Rickert, except in the NBA it's a valuable skill and doesn't necessarily mean you're a big baby who is afraid to play inside. Anyway, when a guy with one skill can't pull off that skill in the Western Conference Finals, it ain't pretty. Through three games he's 1-14 from three, and 1-20 overall from the floor. Somehow, the Suns are only down 2-1 despite this. Just a brutal choke job. Also, can somebody please tell Jared Dudley to stop cheering for himself so hard every time he makes a shot? It's really irritating. Like watching some chowder at open gym who finally hits a shot after clanging ten in a row off the side of the backboard.
Special mention for suckitude to Todd Coffey. What a spaz. I'm surprised they don't make him wear a helmet out there.