Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Touch 'em all time

Say No to Shaq…

Rumors abound that Danny Ferry is working the phones in order to hammer out a deal to bring Shaq to Cleveland. After watching the Cavaliers struggle against Orlando, a team that was soundly spanked by the Lakers in the Finals, Ferry knows that there are still pieces missing from the championship puzzle.

Shaq, however, isn’t going to fit. Not anymore. Shaq is a 37 year-old child who can no longer deliver big minutes and if the East is going to run through Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic you need a big man who can work his butt off for 40 minutes a night. That’s not Shaq. He is no longer the most dominant force in the league. And he wants a contract extension. 20 millions bucks for one season is bad enough, but 3? Not on your life.

The Lakers have a lot of tall guys but nobody would describe them as “big.” Most often you hear the term “long” applied to them. Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol are lanky guys with a lot of athleticism. They’re considered to be finesse players but they are physical enough to keep things honest in the paint. Cleveland’s “big” men aren’t agile enough to be labeled as “finesse” players but neither Zydrunas Ilgauskas nor Anderson Varejao has the marbles to get nasty down low. Anderson will flail around in hopes of drawing a foul, but that tactic backfires in big games. While he’s laying on the floor begging for the call, his opponent is throwing down a nasty two-handed jam. Z doesn’t even try to front people. He’s too slow, too weak and too cowardly to own the paint. When Z encounters physical contact he retreats.

A stronger presence in the paint would help the Cavaliers immensely but what killed them against Orlando was perimeter defense. They simply let Orlando get too many open looks at the basket. Even when the defenders got out in time, they were too short to get hands in the faces of shooters. Shaq isn’t going to change that. Moving LeBron around when he doesn’t have the ball might have gotten the Cavs past Orlando. Shaq and his slow motion attack will not.

The News that Isn’t….

People suspected Sammy Sosa of taking steroids all along. Like Mark McGwire, Sosa grew from a muscular baseball player in the early 1990s into a cartoonish representation of a comic book superhero.

The burning question is how it will affect his hall of fame credentials. He’ll get a number of votes when he’s eligible, outnumbering McGwire because Sosa didn’t pull the same disappearing act Big Mac did when the scandal broke, but Sosa did sit in front of congress and pretend he didn’t speaka de Ingles. He was overshadowed by Andro man saying that he didn’t want to talk about the past and Raphael Palmeiro’s umbrage over being called out by a liar like Jose Canseco, but Sosa never did come clean.

Most of the writers who vote “no” on him will justify it the same way the justified voting no on McGwire. Aside from raw power, his numbers just aren’t that impressive. Although Sosa was a better all around player than McGwire. Sosa stole bases and was a solid defensive player in addition to being a beast at the plate. Like Mac, Sosa struck out a lot but power hitters often miss.

No matter what anybody says, steroids will keep him out because power is the one thing people draw a straight line to when steroids are the issue. Roger Clemens might manage to get in because people have a harder time believing that steroids provide that much of an advantage to pitchers.

Sports writers won’t give that as a reason. They’ll claim that they aren’t experts on steroids and physiology but the reality is that nobody is in a better position to become an expert on the subject than a person who gets paid to report on these issues.

And there’s who you get to blame for the steroid problem. Sports writers. These guys were in the locker rooms. They had access to all of this for the 25 years the steroid era unfolded. They ignored it. They put their heads in the sand and refused to ask questions. It wasn’t until a slightly more inquisitive reporter spotted a bottle of a substance banned by the NFL and the International Olympic Committee in McGwire’s locker that the whole issue of steroids in baseball started to shake loose. Do you really think he was the first guy to see that stuff?

Like Sands in the Hour Glass….

Brett Favre wanted out of Green Bay so he could play for his buddy Brad Childress in Minnesota. He just lacked the guts and the integrity to say it out loud. Favre needs people to love him and he knew that turning his back on loyal fans in Green Bay would result in a lot of people not loving him.

So he worked the system. He retired and unretired. He pouted. He whined. He called press conferences where he pouted and whined. He publically discussed private conversations with “friends” in order to validate himself in the eyes of football fans.

His most recent exploits were cleverly orchestrated. To Favre’s most loyal fans it looks like the media simply hounded him but to those who have seen how egomaniacal celebrities manipulate the media, it’s obvious that Favre kept the spotlight on himself.

The Vikings deserve him and his massive ego. They also deserve the three interception he’ll throw in the second half of the divisional playoff game that they will lose to Arizona in January. They deserve the disarray that Favre will leave them in after he quits again. Favre eventually will get into the Pro Football Hall of Fame and he deserves that. He also deserves to be remembered as a guy who spent the last 8 or 9 years of his career selfishly padding his stats so he would get in.

Not that you care….

Can’t leave out the NHL when you give the other sports space, right? Well here’s two things:

1. The whole Sydney Crosby handshake drama is stupid. He’s a young punk who won his first Championship against a heavily favored opponent on their home ice. He was excited. He celebrated for a while. Maybe he wanted to rub it in the noses of those insufferably arrogant Red Wings fans. So what? He did eventually line up to shake hands. If that wasn’t quick enough for some of the Red Wings who were sore about handing the Stanley Cup to the Penguins too frickin’ bad. You don’t have to wait for Crosby to stop patting himself on the back but also don’t go to the media and whine about being snubbed. Be a man, take your medicine and get even next year. The Red Wings should wear pink next year.

2. The Columbus Blue Jackets don’t like their lease arrangement and they’ve mentioned that they might have to move if they don’t get a better deal. The company that owns the Nationwide Arena (and also has an incestuous relationship with the ownership of the team) is willing to sell the arena to Franklin County which would allow the county to negotiate more favorable terms. Smart people know that this is a scam. Voters didn’t want to foot the bill for Nationwide Arena when it was built and they don’t want to buy it now. Interestingly, this gambit comes on the heels of the Jackets’ first foray into the post season. They most have been hoping that the 2000 fans they won over this year would be concerned.

Joe-LEEEEN! Come git me the clicker!

For those of you wondering why I didn’t mention NASCAR. It’s still boring, it’s still not a sport and I still think NASCAR fans are creepy inbred freaks who should be kept in specialized holding pens. Or we could just seal the doors at WalMart the next time they have one of those big holiday sales.

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