1. The Twins got rolled 11-0 by the hapless Orioles. I only watched half of this one because it was apparent very early that the Twins had no shot, but from what I saw Pavano was all over the place. That's bad for anybody unless you're a guy like Carlos Marmol who throws 99mph and has no idea where it's going but nobody can hit it anyway, but for Pavano to miss his spots means it's going to be a rough night. Not only by falling behind in counts and walking guys (3 walks and just 60% strikes) but because when he misses by a little bit his 89mph fastball goes from a well placed tough to hit pitch to an easy to drive pitch, and Pavano was run after four and two-thirds after allowing 8 hits and 7 runs. Naturally, the Twins were unable to score, a consistent problem not helped by the absence of Mauer, Morneau, and Delmoney from the lineup.
Maybe the most discouraging part of last night's festivities, however, was Joe Nathan getting rocked again, giving up a couple of hits and a 3-run home run to Vlad Guerrero in his inning of work, which means he's now given up 7 runs in his last three times out, with at least two runs coming in each game. It's pretty clear he's not all the way back from injury, and his fastball is clocked consistently 2-3 miles per hour slower than it was in his prime, making him essentially Nick Blackburn but who doesn't know how to pitch like he has a noodle arm. I don't know what you do with him - could he do a minor league assignment? - but he's not good right now, and he just needs more time. I guess we'll have to rely on Cappsy. Get ready for some brutal emotional swings, fans.
2. Carmelo Anthony could almost do it himself but Jared Jeffries and Bill Walker fucked it all up. Chauncey Billups is out with an injury and Amare Stoudamire was only able to play a half before getting knocked out due to back spasms, and the Knicks opponent was the Celtics one of the best defensive teams in the league. The stage was set for Melo to channel Bernard King and elevate the Knicks to victory and he damn near pulled it off, scoring 42 points and grabbing 17 rebounds (and dishing 6 assists). Unfortunately Bill Walker couldn't hit a shot all game, going 0-11 from the floor, and eventually Boston realized Carmelo had no help and they started double-teaming him before he even had the ball. Remarkable. This defensive strategy resulted in Jared Jeffries having to make a play on the two biggest possessions of the game for the Knicks, and you can imagine how that went. If you're imagining it was like watching Gardy try to figure out a Rubik's Cube, you're not far off.
3. Sticking with the NBA, I thought ESPN said Atlanta had the guys to stop Dwight Howard? In fact, I know they did because in my preview on here I said Atlanta couldn't deal with Howard and Snacks emailed me to say that ESPN said that the Hawks' Jason Collins and Zaza Pachulia would be able to handle him. Wrong, idiots. 33 points and 19 rebounds last night in the Magic's Game 2 win following up his 46-19 in game 1 - a Magic loss. It's actually interesting because it's become clear that Atlanta is simply going to single cover Howard - and let him destroy them - and concentrate all their defensive efforts on shutting down Orlando's jumpshooters, which is basically the entire rest of the team.
That strategy worked brilliantly in Game 1, the Hawks big win, with Jameer Nelson the only non-Howard player to have a good shooting game with Gilbert Arenas, Hedo Turkoglu, JJ Redick, Ryan Anderson, and Jason Richardson shooting a combined 2-14 from three. In Game 2 it almost worked again with Orlando shooting 5-23 from three as a team but this time the Magic played good enough defense to get the win. What seemed to be a boring series in the beginning has suddenly become interesting based on the Hawks' strategy. Or at least as interesting as any series involving the boring as hell Hawks could ever be.
4. Josh Johnson is unhittable. Maybe it's because he's in the NL, or maybe it's because he's on a small market team, or maybe it's simply because nobody cares about the Marlins, but Josh Johnson is one of the best pitchers in baseball and I'm not sure how many people know it. Last night he tossed seven scoreless innings against Pittsburgh, allowing just two hits and striking out nine, and the only notable thing about it was how un-notable it really was - this is the norm for this nerd. His season stats are now at 3-0 with a 1.00 ERA, a WHIP of 0.59, and a strikeout per inning. Looking at his career arc it reads like a big-time pitcher - good rookie year (5th in ROY), two injury plagued seasons, then a comeback year where he was an all-star, followed last year by his 2.30 ERA and fifth place finish in the Cy Young balloting. The guy may look like a slightly less nerdy Davis Love III, but he's an absolute super star. I wonder if he'll end up on the Yankees or the Red Sox.
5. Penn State is going to be even worse than you thought. Not that there was a whole lot of optimistic feelings towards Penn State's 2011-2012 basketball season with Talor Battle, Jeff Brooks, Andrew Jones, and David Jackson all graduating (that's four of their top five scorers and top four rebounders), but one of the few rays of hope has now been crushed with the news that Taran Buie is transferring/has been kicked out. It's not a surprise given that Buie was suspended from the team twice for various violations, but it's still a kick in the junk since he was one of the highest rated recruits in many, many years at Penn State. Not to mention this leaves them with Tim Frazier and a bunch of guys who never played, and it's not like either Jones or Jackson should have been hard to beat out for playing time since they are severely flawed players, so those guys coming back are probably even worse than Colton Iverson (for reals). Should be fun to watch a team whose only good player's #1 skill is distributing the basketball play with a bunch of teammates who couldn't score on a date with your sister.
6. The Vikings schedule (if there's a season) was announced last night. But let's be honest, if you get excited about this you are a retard, and you're probably a big fan of mayo sandwiches, think Nickelback and Hinder "fuckin' rock", consider Borat to be quality cinema, and name Olive Garden as your favorite "fancy" restaurant.