Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Random Thoughts on a Tuesday

A whole bunch of thoughts while watching the end of the Twins game.  I'm not exactly sure what happened because it was 4-0 Yankees when I left the YMCA and I got home and put the kid to bed and now it's 4-4.  So that's good.  And you know this whole Yankees dominating the Twins thing does have a silver lining - this is shaping up exactly like an 80s movie.  Rag tag group of misfits from the poor side of town continually beaten down by the rich, snobby, evil kids in their fancy preppy clothes, but in the end the good guys finally get over the hump and the bad guys get their comeuppance.  The Twins are really just Daniel LaRusso while the Yankees are the Cobra Kai, we just need our All Valley Karate Tournament moment, and you know it's coming.  Cue Bananarama.

- Well that was quite the turd sandwich on top of what might have been the most entertaining NCAA Tournament I can remember.  I will say though that UCONN isn't getting nearly enough credit for Butler's poor performance.  Yes, the Bulldogs missed plenty of open shots, but they also had difficulty getting good looks and the Huskies had a lot to do with that.  The reason Butler only scored 2 points in the paint the entire game wasn't because they avoided getting the ball inside or because Brad Stevens made a mistake.  They got the ball to Matt Howard and Andrew Smith on the block plenty of times but they just couldn't score against the height, length, and athleticism of Oriakhi, Okwandu, etc.  Either there shots were blocked, altered, or they needed to do something extreme to get an open look and were at a weird angle or off balance.

Butler isn't a bad team, obviously, but this was just their second opponent of this tournament who was overwhelmingly more athletic than the Bulldogs and it showed.  Old Dominion, Pitt, and Wisconsin are at about the same level as Butler, and while Florida  is a more athletic squad they didn't play their best game (credit Butler) and that athleticism translates more when they have the ball rather than when they're on defense.  Unfortunately for Butler, UCONN was/is playing at as high a level as anybody right now (especially defensively) and they just overwhelmed the Bulldogs, stopping basically all dribble penetration and destroying anybody who tried to score from the block.

Howard, in particular, was pretty pathetic, putting up a pretty sad 1-13 shooting performance, getting multiple shots blocked, and getting out-rebounded over and over again.  For the second year in a row he looked out of place in the championship game, this time to the point that my non-basketball watching friend who I was viewing the game with picked him out as "the worst player I've ever seen."  And, of course, he suckered me in and I believed in him and lost some cash on some prop bets I placed on him.  I was a fool and I'm not going to let anything like that happen again.  I'll be back next year to get rich.  As entertaining as this year's tournament was, it was murder on the wallet.

-  I'm not sure I completely understand Shaka Smart's thinking in staying at VCU.  I mean I understand, I just don't know that I agree with him that he can turn VCU into a perennial powerhouse like Butler or Gonzaga, and by turning down NC State's offer he's basically wagering a million dollars a year that he can do just that.  Even if you just look to next year things are going to be a struggle for VCU.  They're losing Joey Rodriguez, Jamie Skeen, Brandon Rozzell, and Ed Nixon off of this year's team (that's four of their top five scorers and all-around best players) and according to Rivals the only player they have coming in to replace them right now is a non-rated forward whose other offers were from Cleveland State and Northeastern.  Meanwhile VCU's previous coach Anthony Grant, who jumped to Alabama after a nice little multi-year run with Eric Maynor and Larry  Sanders, is making almost $2 million a year and took a team that was so bad the previous coach was fired midseason to a team that won their division of the SEC this year, went 19-0 at home, and made the NIT final after just missing out on an NCAA Tournament bid.  Basically his whole team is coming back next year and he has a great class coming in with three kids ranked in the top 125, and he's thought of as a fast riser whose next job could end up being a big one.  Shaka clearly knows what he's doing, but I'm thinking he's being a bit too optimistic here.

- Finally, and this probably wraps up college basketball for the year until/unless the Gophers sign somebody or Tubby Smith finally signs on with NC State, but I would love for somebody to explain to me how they selected the participants in the College 3-point contest.  I thought it was kind of bizarre that Blake Hoffarber wasn't involved, but that was before I realized Jon freaking Diebler wasn't involved.  I was worried that maybe I was just being Big 10-centric, so I looked it up.  Diebler ranked 3rd amongst all seniors (event is only open to seniors) in three-point makes and second in 3-point percentage.  Although looking at the numbers it's kind of surprising Jimmer Fredette wasn't there.  Talor Battle too.  I'm not saying they're screwing it up or anything but the choices for some of the players involved just seem weird, especially since Brady Morningstar made as many threes this year as

- Speaking of white guys playing basketball, when I was at the Y tonight there was no open gym because they had "special" kids playing adapted basketball and I watched for a couple of minutes.  Those kids sure do hustle but man, they have no handles.

-  Twins are now winning.  This is unexpected, but I'm guessing this is like the part where Daniel sprays Johnny with the hose at the Halloween dance - you feel like you got the upper hand, but the night ends with you being held up against a chain link fence while you get the shit beat out of you by guys in skeleton outfits.

- A few players who have caught my eye so far this baseball season who might be worth keeping your eye on:
  • Starlin Castro, SS, Cubs - His numbers obviously stand out since they're ridiculous so far (.476/.522/.762) and of course they won't last but I've actually had a chance to watch several of his at-bats and looks awfully good.  He's making solid contact and really driving the ball with some gap power (2 doubles and 2 triples already) and is looking like he could end up being a star.  Ideally you'd like to see a little bit more plate discipline and more walks, but he's a 21-year old shortstop from the Dominican Republic - it kind of comes with the territory.
  • Rickie Weeks, 2B, Brewers - I've talked about him on here before, but he's impressed me this year by being less of a knucklehead than I thought.  He had a career year last year and was rewarded with a fat contract and I actually expected him to regress quite a bit but he's having another very good season so far.  Nice work, Rick.
  • Neil Walker, 2B, Pirates - Leads the league in RBI mainly due to a grandslam he hit on opening day, but has overall shown an awful lot of power (.684 slugging) for a white middle infielder.  Guy must not be much of a hustler or a gamer.
  • Jaime Garcia, SP, Cardinals - I don't know why his complete game 4-hitter against San Diego impressed me so much because it's not out of line based on his numbers from last year (2.70 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 3rd in NL RoY voting), but I guess I didn't really take him seriously because his name was Jamie and everyone knows that's a girl's name.  I guess maybe he's good though.
  • Craig Kimbrel, RP, Braves - Since neither Dawger or Bogart could draft their joint team in our fantasy league we had the Bear come out and do it for them.  When it suddenly came time to draft a relief pitcher Kimbrel was the #1 guy left on every list we had even though none of the three of us (me, Bear, Snake) had heard of him, and we laughed and we laughed thinking about the look on those two clowns faces when they saw this dude they'd never heard of on their team.  Well, joke was on us because Kimbrel has been unhittable - almost literally.  He's pitched two innings thus far (picking up 2 saves), faced just six batters and struck out five of them.  Hell, Adam LaRoche is practically a hero because he managed to fly out.  Look out for this kid. 

-  Hey, the Twins actually won.  Sweet.  The final out came when Joe Nathan struck out Derek Jeter on a high fastball that was clocked at 89 mph.  I don't know who that sentence is worse for, but Nathan's fastball is seriously only at 89 mph there are going to be some extremely ugly game endings in our future.

- Lastly, if you like golf our good buddy Grand Slam has promised me a Masters Preview at some point tomorrow, so look for that either Wednesday night or Thursday morning.  I'm sure it'll be epic.  As for my picks I'm not exactly digging deep here but it's hard to argue with Mickelson the way he's playing, and Watney and Justin Rose are solid picks here as well.  Sleeper picks could be David Toms or Sergio.  I don't know.  Trust Grand Slam, he's smoking everybody in our fantasy golf league. 


Loretta8 said...

Jaime Garcia can't even spell Jamie right, instead he goes with the Jaime Lannister version of that name.

What I'm saying is, Garcia probably bangs his sister.

John R said...

Craig Kimbrel is a god. 45 K's in his first 22.2 innings in the majors. He'll win the Cy Young as a closer. Screw it - I'll take HIM to win the Masters this weekend.

Nerd said...

Was that seriously just a song of fire and ice reference. What a bunch of losers

Arya Underfoot said...

Dunsen, Polliver, Raff the Sweetling, the Tickler, the Hound, Ser Gregor, Ser Amory, Ser Ilyn, Ser Meryn, Joffrey, Cersei, Nerd

WWWWWW said...

Best reference ever. Loretta8 wins the best comment in the 4-year history (today, in fact, is the 4 year anniversary of DWG) of this blog.

WWWWWW said...

And Arya nailed it, maybe even better. Took me a second.

Loretta8 said...

That's quite an honor. Suck it, crazy drunk sioux fan chick.

Game of Thrones on HBO in less than 2 weeks, and Book 5 in July at long last. That fat fuck Martin is a favorite to die before he finishes the series though.