Sunday, June 24, 2012

Week in Review - 6/25/2012

So in Back to the Future, right, Marty goes back in time and effs everything up by pushing his future dad out of the way of that car and then his mom falls for him instead and puts Marty's actual existence in jeopardy to the point where he starts to fade out of existence before his future parents finally kiss, right?  But if he fades out of existence, then he can't go back in time and screw everything up between his parents, so then he'd exist again, right?

Wait.  Actually they clear all this up in #2.  And pretty much make it clear at the end of #1.  I really shouldn't have written that paragraph up there with 20 minutes left in the movie.  Which, yes, I've seen many times but not in several years.  This intro here is really starting to ramble.  I'm going to stop talking now.  This is me not talking.


1.  Francisco Liriano.  I can't remember the last time I wrote anything good about this guy and who knows when this opportunity will occur again so with apologies to Josh Willingham's clutchitude I'm giving Frankie the Twins' reserved spot this week.  After another good start against Pittsburgh, Liriano's numbers in his last five starts are looking downright respectable - 30ips, 16 hits, 9 runs, 12 walks, 35 Ks, .155 OAVG, .497 OPS, 2.67 ERA.  He's basically been completely different than he was his first first pass through the rotation to start the season where his ERA was near 10 in his six first starts with an OPS over 1.000.  He's throwing more strikes and thus cutting back on the free passes, and his K-rate is actually up as well.  Which is the real, Liriano?  The walk machine who gets knocked around the yard like he's Jason Marquis, or the one who suddenly looks like a capable #3 or #4 starter?  Honestly I don't have a clue, so hopefully they trade him right quick and let somebody else figure it out.  As the honorable barrister Vincent Gambino (aka Jerry Callow) once said, "I'm finished with this guy."

2.  Lebron James.  Others have said it better and I'm sure others have said it worse (although that seems slightly less likely) but holy crap did this guy figure all this shit out.  His numbers were ridiculous (29 pts/10 rebs/7 assists/2 steals for the finals and similar for the overall playoffs, but they don't tell the whole story because he just completely owned that court.  Every time he posted on the wing or block the Thunder could either double, in which case he made the right pass 90% of the time leading to easy Miami baskets, or leave somebody to try to play him one-on-one which led to a Lebron score pretty much every time.  He can control the game posting up the way Barkley did with regularity, but with Magic Johnson's ability to see where the defense is going before they go there and make the perfect pass and (early) Jordan's ability to score by driving if he gets 1-on-1 coverage.  It's just sick, and I fear his stats next year - he may legitimately threaten to average a triple double.  If you're a Lebron hater (and I think somehow I lost my Lebron hate after realizing he's really just a dumb kid who didn't know what he wanted and then seeing him grow up in these playoffs) you better pray to baby santa jesus that he doesn't develop a jump shot.  It would be like watching a real life NBA Jam guy out on the court.   You wouldn't even have to put in the "big head" code because of that giant 'Bron melon. 

3.  Mario Chalmers.  You could put Mike Miller or Shane Battier here as well because all three of those dorks had either a tremendous series or several huge moments/games, but I'm picking Chalmers to single out because he's young while Battier is like a wrinkly-headed Methusaleh and Miller might legitimately retire because of his severe back issues, and also of course because the A-hole Wolves traded Chalmers on draft day when their point guards were Sebastian Telfair and Kevin Ollie (note:  I'm not making this up, those were their PGs that year unless you want to count Randy Foye).Anyway, if you go game-by-game in the Finals you see Game 2:  Battier with 17, Game 4: Chalmers with 25, and Game 5: Miller with 23 - there was always someone stepping up for the Heat.  While this series was billed as Big 3 vs. Big 3 and Lebron will get most of the credit for the win (and deservedly so) it shouldn't be ignored that while the Thunder became the Big 2 (more on this later) the Heat because the Big 4 each night, albeit with a different 4th piece.  Chalmers and Miller hit some big shots which shouldn't be a surprise based on their college resumes, while Battier hitting big shots was a pretty big shock since Duke is a bunch of choking a-holes.

4.  Chris Sale.   I completely loved this dude the last two years as a reliever, and pretty much figured with his stuff (double-figures in K/9 both the last two years) he was setting himself up as Chicago's future save-getting-saver guy.  But, smartly, the White Sox realized he was too good to only use like, 3 innings a week and half of those with a 3-run lead and nobody on base, so they decided to turn him into a starter.  Would it work?  Of course, because Sale is practically unhittable and he's been that most of this year.  After nearly throwing a no-hitter against Milwaukee, Sale now leads the AL in ERA at 2.24 and second in WHIP at 0.96 (behind only teammate Jake Peavy).  He has 89 Ks in 88 innings against just 23 walks and 62 hits, leading to a .193 opponent's batting average, which is third in the league.  In short, this dude is wicked good.  Which is the kind of thing you can get when you spend a high draft pick on a polished college pitcher.  Seriously, Kevin Gausman is going to come back to haunt the Twins.  Bank on it.

5.  Toronto Blue Jays.  Not so much the results because they were only 3-3 (although I guess on the road against Milwaukee and Miami that isn't too terrible), but because of their power numbers, the likes of which we haven't seen in Minnesota since I was still playing softball.  This past week four dudes in MLB hit four homers - three of them were Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, and Colby Ramsus (those are all Blue Jays, dumbass).  Brett Lawrie hit two as well, to make 14 homers for the week.  I'm willing to bet the Twins haven't hit 14 home runs in a week since back in 1930.  Pairing that offense with a young pitching staff to build upon including Brandon Morrow, Kyle Drabek, Ricky Romero, Drew Hutchison, and Deck McGuire and the Blue Jays are set up for a long run of success.  Is what I would be saying if the Jays weren't in the AL East, but they are so they're pretty much effed.


1.  Twins.   I know a 3-3 week with two wins over the Reds for this team is like, the best week in history but honestly this might be one of the worst teams, especially offensively, in the history of the history of the world.  Fourteen total runs in those six games, which including facing studs like Kevin Correia and Homer Bailey.  Twelfth in the AL in runs.  Thirteenth in homers.  The overall average is decent (8th), but there's zero power behind it (13th in ISO - power discarding average) and is boosted by the 7th highest BABIP despite one of the five worst line drive rates in the league.  Awful.  And throw in the pitching woes and it's hard not to believe this is the worst team in the league.  Worst ERA in the league.  Worst opponent batting average in the league.  Fewest quality starts in the league.  Fewest strikeouts in the league.  The only team whose pitching can compete with the Twins in terms of shittiness is the Rockies, and they play in a launching pad so they at least have an excuse.  And the real killer is there is nothing on the horizon to make you at least hope for the future.  So I quit.

2.  Kendrick Perkins.  Now, it's probably a little mean to pick on Perkins because his one real skill is defending big centers and the Heat didn't have a big center who they played at all (Joel Anthony and Ronny Turiaf combined for 5 minutes total in all five games), but man was he exposed out there. Bosh just completely owned him in every game and I'm pretty sure I saw Udonis Haslem school him at least once.  You don't really expect to get any offense out of him, but outside of a 12 & 10 game in Game 3 he averaged just over 5 boards and about 3.5 points per game, well under his season averages.  Basically he was completely useless, but I actually enjoyed watching someone get torched so easily so it was kind of fun at times.  Probably not if you were a Thunder fan or anything, but I bet it was a god damned riot if you live in Seattle.

3.  James Harden.  Remember how the big thing everyone talked about with the Thunder a couple of weeks ago was how they'd have to make a decision on keeping either Harden or Serge Ibaka?  Unfortunately the best thing you could say about Ibaka in the Finals was that at least he didn't play as badly as Harden, and boy was he awful. He was actually good in Games 2 and 5 and the Thunder won Game 1, but he was so terrible in Games 3 and 4 - pretty monstrously important games in a best of 7 series, that you can make a pretty convincing argument that he's the biggest reason the Thunder lost.  Beardy Bearderson was 4-20 from the floor in those games, including 1-9 from three, and lost his confidence to such an extent that he actually started passing up open shots, which probably hurt the Thunder more than the misses did.  Not saying the Thunder could have beaten the Heat even if Harden played well, but they sure as hell weren't going to beat them without him.  I mean, would Three's Company have been as funny and sexy without Janet?  Actually I'm pretty sure yes.

4.  Tim Lincecum.  His final line on his latest start actually ended up ok, 6 innings - 3hits -3runs - 4walks-8 Ks - but the way it started was as ugly as his season has been.  Against a really, really crappy A's offense he allowed single-single-single-walk-groundout-walk and suddenly Oakland had put up 3 runs.  Then he struck out the next three batters and allowed only two base runners the rest of the game.  Some might this is a good sign that the old Lincecum might be back, but he's done this before (8 inning 3-hitter against San Diego and a couple other good outings), but all it's really resulted in is an ERA north of six and a WHIP more than 25% higher than his career number.  I mean, he's lasted less than six innings nine times already this year compared to just six times all of last season.  His walks and home runs are way up, he's allowing way to many line drives and no longer inducing easy pop-ups, and his fastball is down over 2mph to last year - and that last one is really the killer.  A lot of things can be ascribed to luck, and Wiley Wiggins here has had some bad luck this year, but when you drop down to a Blackburn-esque fastball when you're a strikeout pitcher?  Yikestown.

5. Adam Dunn.  Well if you were looking for last year's version of Adam Dunn I think we found him this week, because his extremely stellar season took a short detour off the rails (although not before he covered his season prop of OVER 20.5 HRs - holla).  This week Dunn came up to the plate 27 times.  He walked 5, and struck out 13.  Of the nine times he actually put the ball in play he hit two singles.  All of which adds up to a .095 average (and slugging).  Granted, when you have a dude like Adam Dunn you're going to get weeks like this and have to hope you get enough of those 4 home run weeks to balance it all out, but it's still worth pointing out a shitty week like this, and it's kind of jarring when you see a dude who struck out 13 times last week.  Also I just saw that Michael Cuddyer was 2-25 and I'd love to make fun of him a little bit but now it's too late cuz I wrote all this crap.  And you just read it.  Ha ha I win.

Pretty excited Juwan Howard has a ring, you guys.  I mean he was my fourth favorite Fab Five guy and all (1. Jalen, 2. King, 3. Webber, 4. Juwan, 5. Jackson, 6. Rob Pelinka), but I was/am such a huge fan it's nice to see one of them get a ring, especially since he was such a key cog in that machine.  And as we know, Juwan always wins:
In your face kid from Modern Family

Also seriously how freaking sweet is this thing:

There are, literally, hundreds of college basketball starting lineups I want.  If they exist.

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