Archive | October 2009

San Antonio and Boston look great.

If last night was any indication, the busy offseason for the San Antonio Spurs was well worth it. The Spurs beat the New Orleans Hornets 113-96 and got contributions from everyone (except for Keith Bogans, who didn’t score a point). They got the usual 17 points and 6 assists from Tony Parker, 11 points from Matt Bonner, 10 from Michael Finley, and a lot of scoring from the bench, including 16 points from Manu Ginobili, 11 points from Roger Mason Jr, and 9 points from second year guard George Hill. Tim Duncan chipped in with 9 points and 12 rebounds.

The holdovers from last year’s squad played well, but all eyes were on the newcomers who were making their debuts. Richard Jefferson, who came over in a trade with the Milwaukee Bucks, put up 5 points, 5 assists, and 4 rebounds. Antonio McDyess, signed as a free-agent from the Detroit Pistons, added 9 points and 3 rebounds as part of the Spurs’ great bench production. The best impression, though, came from Dajuan Blair, a second round draft pick out of Pittsburgh. Blair came off the bench and had contributed 6 points and 6 rebounds by the half and finished with 14 points on 7-10 shooting, 11 rebounds, and 3 assists. I really liked what I saw from him with his rebounding on both ends of the floor.

And I can’t say that I was thrilled with Tony Parker’s hard fall to the floor.

Parker suffers hard fall, leaves game in Spurs’ win (ESPN)
Spurs vs. Hornets boxscore (Yahoo! Sports)

Charlotte wasn’t so lucky.
While the Spurs were playing well, the Charlotte Bobcats weren’t. In their opening night game against the Boston Celtics, they were only able to muster a paltry 59 points while allowing 92.

Yikes. 59 points? That’s 13, 18, 10, 18 for their scoring per quarter. Their leading scorer, if you want to call it that, was Gerald Wallace with 10 points. Hopefully for them they won’t have a repeat of this performance as the season progresses. They’ve got some nice, athletic players like Wallace, Raymond Felton, D.J. Augustine, and Gerald Henderson and an experience coach in Larry Brown. I think they can compete for one of the lower playoff spots in the Eastern Conference, but they can’t allow any more fiascoes like last night’s 59 point outing.

It’s not really surprising, though, that they lost to the Celtics. Like the Spurs, the Celtics got production from everywhere. Ray Allen led all scorers with 18 points and Rajon Rondo put up a double-double of 10 points, 11 assists. Paul Pierce finished with 15 points and Kevin Garnett had 10, leaving Kendrick Perkins as the lone Boston starter not in double figures. Rasheed Wallace came off the bench and added 9 points (all on three-pointers) and Sheldon Williams had a nice game with 12 points (8 of which came from the free-throw line) and 9 rebounds. If he can put up that kind of effort consistently, the absence of Glen Davis won’t be as harmful to the team’s progress. Also, KG and Rasheed are going to prove to be a potent combination as teams try to match up with them.

Celtics vs. Bobcats boxscore (Yahoo! Sports)

Tim Donaghy’s book has been cancelled due to lack of hustle. Deal with it.

Well, not technically. Tim Donaghy’s book “Blowing the Whistle: The Culture of Fraud in the NBA” has been canned by its publisher Trinity Books, a part of Random House Publishing for another reason. Apparently the NBA wasn’t keen on the idea of a tell-all missive from a “rogue ref” and threatened legal action against the publishers should the book be published. Unfortunate. I’m sure it would have been an interesting read, though I don’t think I would have gone out and bought it. I already have my suspicions about the refs already, so it’s not like I would have learned anything. But the NBA certainly does look a little suspicious nixing the book that way. Do they have something to hide? The Fox Mulder in me wants to think so but, more reasonably (I guess), I think they may have stopped the book to prevent any more bad press about their referees, especially after just ending their lockout.

Excerpts of the book can be found on Deadspin.com by following the link below.

Excerpts Rrom The Book The NBA Doesn’t Want You To Read. (Deadspin)
Donaghy book cancelled over liability. (ESPN)

This post can also by found on Celtics 17, a Boston Celtics on the Most Valuable Network (MVN.com) by following the link on the right side of the page.

Instant replay will slow down baseball games?

I know that’s an absurd notion, but it’s one that MLB commissioner Bud Selig is standing by. He won’t implement the use of instant replay because he’s afraid it will slow down a game that’s already over two and a half hours long. How dumb is that?

Here’s how I see this. If you’re watching a baseball game, that’s your afternoon/evening. If you have planned to sit down and watch a specific MLB game, you have nothing else to do. So what does it matter if it’s a little bit longer? And in reality, adding instant replay wouldn’t make the games any longer.

Think about this. After each out, the players throw the ball around the field and scratch themselves or adjust their, um, “equipment.” How long does that take? 30-45 seconds? That’s enough time to look at a close call and determine whether it should stay as is or be overturned. Take that fair ball that was called foul in the first round series between the New York Yankees and Minnesota Twins, for example. The ball was clearly a foot in play yet the umpire somehow botched the call. It would be so easy to review that. All you’d have to do is watch it a couple times from different angles. It’s not that hard. You could have that done by the time the next batter stepped into the box and got ready for the first pitch. If you watch a game on TV, they’re able to show entire at-bats or several plays during this time. Why can’t the MLB do it?

Now this isn’t like the NFL where there’s a play that needs to be reviewed before the ensuing play which, depending on the circumstances, could be less than 10 seconds away. Also, unlike football, there’s not as much to account for during a replay. In football you have to look at where a player’s feet are, where the lines are in conjunction with his feet, where the ball is, whether or not the player has control of the ball, as well as many other factors. In baseball, a hit is either fair or foul and a player is either safe or out. So not only is there time available with which to review plays, but it wouldn’t take that long even if they did have to stop the game to look at an exceptionally close play.

And those of us who advocate instant replay in baseball aren’t proposing that it be used on every ball/strike call. Nor would it necessarily need to be used on every close play at first base; for the most part, the umps are able to get those correct. But it wouldn’t hurt to make sure, right? Clearly, instant replay would be the most helpful in times where there’s confusion about a call or, in the case of many calls this postseason, when the umps are blatantly wrong. And there wouldn’t be a red flag for the managers to throw nor would the decision come from the umpires because if they’re apt to blow calls in the first place, then it’s certainly possible they would somehow mess up the use of instant replay. Instead, everything would be done by league officials in the booth, where they could very likely get by on using a TV and DVR to do the replay. Just sit someone down with some sort of screen and a remote and they can figure out if a call was correct or not. I’m sure anyone with DVR replayed that Tim McClelland call in the ALCS (where Mike Napoli tagged both Robinson Cano and Jorge Posada at third base, yet was only awarded one of the outs) several times and made the right call. Tim McCarver and Joe Buck, Fox’s announcers for the game, got the call right on one replay.

Don’t you think taking a minute to review a close play would be better than dealing with speculation regarding the umpires’ agendas for or against certain teams? A single minute could be the difference between a win or a loss and could save Bud Selig and the MLB a lot of trouble. If the Yankees win the World Series after all the controversial calls that went in their favor, it will be easy for a lot of people to dismiss it. “Of course they won the World Series! They have the umpires on their team!” Using instant replay would go along way to reverse something like that.

Instant replay for the World Series? Yes. (ESPN)

The 09-10 NBA season is nearly here.

I don’t know why, but it feels as if I haven’t watched a basketball game in years despite the season ending a comparatively short four months ago. But, I’m happy to say, the NBA is only a few days away! Everything starts Tuesday, October 27th on a doubleheader on TNT, with the Boston Celtics visiting the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first game of the season followed by the Los Angeles Clippers against the Los Angeles Lakers (I hope you enjoy this rare glimpse at the other team in L.A.). On Wednesday, the New Orleans Hornets play the San Antonio Spurs followed by the Utah Jazz at the Denver Nuggets; both of these games can be seen on ESPN or ESPN360.com. The Spurs and Nuggets will be around on Thursday night as well, when the Spurs play the Chicago Bulls and the Nuggets play the Portland Trailblazers on TNT’s Thursday night doubleheader. Finally, on Friday, ESPN will have the Bulls against the Celtics and the Lakers against the Dallas Mavericks.

NBA schedule (ESPN.com)

Looks like we may have refs after all.

It seems that the NBA and its refs have reached a “tentative” agreement that will be voted on on Friday. Supposing it passes, the 09-10 season will start with the usual suspects calling the games.

This comes after a preseason in which the replacement refs from the college, D-League, and WNBA ranks were heavily criticized by coaches and pundits alike. In one week, coaches Larry Brown (Bobcats), Stan van Gundy (Magic), and Lionel Hollins (Grizzlies) were all fined last week for criticizing the replacements.

Also, Adrian Wojnarowski had some things to say after Pini Gershon, coach of Maccabi Tel Aviv, was ejected in an exhibition game against the New York Knicks (now that was unnecessary). Further:

They have no sense for the speed and skill and athleticism of the NBA. Thus, the whistles never stop blowing. They hesitate on the obvious and tweet on the bizarre. The games are a traffic pileup of starts and stops, sluggish and unwatchable. There’s no flow, no rhythm.

Yeah, all that is bad for the game, but let’s not kid ourselves- the refs who were being replaced weren’t much better at preserving the rhythm and flow of the game. Too often I watch a game and there’s a call on almost every possession, especially in the playoffs when certain players (you know who you are) are playing. As for the non-calls and shouldn’t-be-calls, the regular refs are just as bad at that. As an example, how often do the refs get a charge call right? Now, I haven’t seen a game with the replacement refs so I can’t say anything from first hand experience, but from what I’m reading and hearing it doesn’t sound any different than it has been.

And you know what? I might actually prefer to watch a game in which replacement refs make the same bad calls the regulars do. At least they have an excuse for being inconsistent and at least I wouldn’t know who they were. I’d also be a lot less inclined to believe that they were giving certain teams preferential treatment than I would, say, if the Lakers were playing in a Steve Javy officiated game. The same would go for a Spurs game with Joey Crawford as a ref, only the special treatment wouldn’t be positive.

NBA needs to blow whistle on replacement refs (Yahoo! Sports)
NBA fines Magic, Van Gundy for criticizing refs (Yahoo! Sports)

This post can also be found on Celtics17, a Boston Celtics blog on Most Valuable Network (MVN.com) by clicking on the link on the right side of the page.

59-0? Really?

Alright, I hate to do this again. I know I spent an entire post bemoaning how badly the Tennessee Titans played the Indianapolis Colts (a 31-9 loss), but I have to say something after yesterday’s display against the New England Patriots. I don’t want this to become a Monday afternoon tradition, but at the rate things are going it will be a regular item on the Football Wire. Just when we (Titans fans) thought it couldn’t get any worse, it did. 31-9 is bad, but 59-0 is horrific.

How do you ring up 59 points? If you’re the Patriots, you have Tom Brady complete 29 of 34 passes for 380 yards and 6 touchdowns- 3 to Randy Moss, 2 to Wes Welker, and 1 to Kevin Faulk. So there’s 42 points through the air. Oh, here’s a fun fact- a record 5 of those touchdowns came in the second quarter! On the ground, you have Laurence Maroney go for 123 yards and a touchdown and back-up quarterback Brian Hoyer go for another. Add to that a field goal by Stephen Gostkowski and you have your 59 points. All of this to the tune of 619 total yards.

How do you lose 59-0? If you’re the Titans, you have the “defense” allows what I just mentioned before. And while the “defense” is allowing that ridiculous amount of points, you have Kerry Collins pass 2-12 for -7 yards. You read that correctly. Two complete passes out of twelve for negative seven yards. NEGATIVE SEVEN YARDS! Last week, Derek Anderson of the Cleveland Browns passed 2-17 for 23 yards. I thought that was bad and an embarrassment to the NFL, but 2-12 for -7 yards is beyond that. THAT is wretched and an embarrassment to not just the NFL, but to football in general. I’m embarrassed just typing that stat line.

So where does the team go from here? First, bench Collins and start Vince Young. I don’t think Jeff Fisher has any choice because Collins is done. How is he not done? I don’t think you can come back from that and I don’t think Fisher can seriously start him after a -7 yard outing. And I know, Vince came in and tossed an interception of his own and some people want to skip him and go straight to Patrick Ramsey. Wrong. Vince wasn’t put in a position to succeed yesterday. No one can play well coming in late against the Patriots, in the snow, down by nearly 60 points. Collins has been given six starts to prove that he can’t get the job done, so Vince should get at least 4-6 starts before Fisher invokes Patrick Ramsey. Then I think you have to start threatening people’s jobs; people need to get benched, cut, or traded to get the message across. Bench the whole team for all I care, except for Chris Johnson. He’s the only player getting it done out there. His 128 rushing yards were the highlight of the game for Tennessee. He’s second in the NFL in rushing yards (596 for 99.3 per game) behind only Adrian Peterson (624 for 104 per game) and he’s done it with 26 less carries.

That is all. I’m done thinking about this.

Brady, Patriots get historic 59-0 win over Titans (Yahoo! Sports)
Patriots, Titans box score (Yahoo! Sports)

This post can also be found on The Football Wire at the Most Valuable Network by following the link on the right side of the page.

Seattle SuperSonics documentary.

I don’t know if any of you guys have seen this, but there is a documentary about the Seattle SupersSonics that can be viewed online for free. The documentary covers the entire history of the franchise and how it was recently moved to Oklahoma City (of all places) and renamed the Thunder (of all things). I haven’t had the opportunity to watch it yet because it’s two hours long and I have school work to do, but I’ll definitely watch it over my fall break, which is Friday

Yes, my fall “break” is only one day while all my friends’ breaks-and yours as well, I’m sure-are several days. It’s a nice gesture and all, but I would rather have that day added to the end of Christmas break. It’s like going to Pizza Hut and ordering a pizza with four toppings just to get the dollar off the price, making it only $19. It’s a nice thought, but it ultimately doesn’t do you much good. Still, I’ll take it regardless.

Anyway, the website is Sonicsgate.org. Again, it’s free to watch online and will be an excellent use of two hours for those of us who enjoy NBA history.

Video: “Sonicsgate”, the movie (Ball Don’t Lie, Yahoo! Sports)

This post can also be found on Celtics 17, a Boston Celtics blog on the Most Valuable Network (MVN.com), by following the link on the right side of the page.