Saturday, April 13, 2013

Is it weird as a Celtics fan to be a little saddened by Kobe Bryant's ruptured Achilles?

For much of my lifetime of NBA fandom, Kobe Bryant was public enemy #1.  While in recent years LeBron has easily overtaken him for this spot, it occured to me earlier this season that I now have a bit of admiration for Kobe.  The things he was still doing this season at his age and this far along into his career were pretty amazing.  And because it became clear a while ago that the Lakers were not a threat to win the title this year, I was sort of intrigued to see what they might do in the playoffs.

What if they could somehow rally behind Kobe and knock off the Spurs in round one?  The thought of a possible Lakers vs Clippers series (where all 7 games would be played in the same building) in the second round was very exciting.  For the first time in the history of those two franchises the Clippers would actually be the favorites.  But now that's all gone.  Late last night Kobe let loose a rant on his facebook page:
This is such BS! All the training and sacrifice just flew out the window with one step that I’ve done millions of times! The frustration is unbearable. The anger is rage. Why the hell did this happen ?!? Makes no damn sense. Now I’m supposed to come back from this and be the same player Or better at 35?!? How in the world am I supposed to do that??
I have NO CLUE. Do I have the consistent will to overcome this thing? Maybe I should break out the rocking chair and reminisce on the career that was. Maybe this is how my book ends. Maybe Father Time has defeated me…Then again maybe not! It’s 3:30am, my foot feels like dead weight, my head is spinning from the pain meds and I’m wide awake. Forgive my Venting but what’s the purpose of social media if I won’t bring it to you Real No Image?? Feels good to vent, let it out. To feel as if THIS is the WORST thing EVER! Because After ALL the venting, a real perspective sets in. There are far greater issues/challenges in the world then a torn Achilles. Stop feeling sorry for yourself, find the silver lining and get to work with the same belief, same drive and same conviction as ever.
One day, the beginning of a new career journey will commence. Today is NOT that day.
“If you see me in a fight with a bear, prey for the bear”. I’ve always loved that quote. That’s “mamba mentality” we don’t quit, we don’t cower, we don’t run. We endure and conquer.
I know it’s a long post but I’m Facebook Venting LOL. Maybe now I can actually get some sleep and be excited for surgery tomorrow. First step of a new challenge. Guess I will be Coach Vino the rest of this season. I have faith in my teammates. They will come thru.
Thank you for all your prayers and support. Much Love Always.
Mamba Out
Many people are criticising him for this, but I admire him for it.  It's a perfectly normal and human response, and I respect the fact the he's willing to tell the world exactly how he feels; it's not something you see very often from high profile athletes today.


Friday, April 12, 2013

Awesome Old Song of the Week: "Supermodel" by Jill Sobule

Jill Sobule's five minutes of fame began in 1995 with her song I Kissed a Girl, and peaked later that year when Supermodel was included on the soundtrack to the movie "Clueless."  The thing I remember about that soundtrack was that it featured a lot of big names (Counting Crows, Radiohead, Beastie Boys, Coolio, etc.), but not any of their best work.

It's kind of weird (and somewhat disturbing) that the cell phone situation at the beginning of this video was an obvious joke in the film at the time, but it's something that I would assume happens with regularity today.

And random but slightly related, "Clueless" was also basically the acting debut of Paul Rudd:


Thursday, April 11, 2013

Debating the issue of whether or not fans are cheated when superstars don't play

The Celtics just announced that Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce will not play in Miami on Friday night (read my post on Celtics Life).  The Heat sat out LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh last night.  While all 5 players are allegedly resting minor injuries, the issue of star players (LeBron in particular) sitting out meaningless late season games has been a hot topic of debate this week.

ESPN's Mike and Mike Show discussed it multiple times, with Mike Greenberg arguing adamantly that it's unfair to the fans.  He sites the example of a family that spends tons of money and drives a long way just to see their favorite player, only to be heartbroken when they arrive at the arena.  Greenberg likened it to the star of Broadway play not performing, and referenced a famous Joe DiMaggio quote about playing hard everyday because there was always a fan in the stands who'd never seen him before.

While I do see this point, one could make the case that Broadway shows are not televised, with their highlights airing on a variety of cable networks 24/7.  Joe DiMaggio did not play in the smartphone/HDTV/ipad/ youtube/ESPNMobile era.  There is no little kid LeBron fan out there who hasn't already seen him dunk thousands of times.  When I go to games myself I often DVR them too, because you can actually get a lot more out of the television coverage.  At least once a night I'll see a spectacular play live and think to myself "wow, I can't wait to go home and watch the replay of that."  In fact it happened with this Jordan Crawford dunk yesterday, which I am magically able to insert on constant repeat into this very article.

I'd like to point out as well that one of the more oddly entertaining games I attended last year was a similar late season "scrubs only" matchup between Miami and Boston.  But you also have to wonder if LeBron sitting is actually helpful to him in anyway.  In contrast Kobe Byant played all 48 minutes last night; I'm pretty sure he'll still be able to light it up in the playoffs too.

For more on this subject take a look at my analysis of the Miami lawyer who sued the Spurs for resting their stars back November.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Remember Popples?

I'm not sure how or why this thought came into my head.  I woke up in the middle of the night last week with the idea that I should write a blog about Popples.  Weird.  So here it is:

As far as toys go, they were a very simple yet brilliant creation.  Two of the most basic but loved playthings of all time, a teddy bear and a ball, literally rolled into one; the Transformers of stuffed animals.  Genius.  I had the little green one, who apparently was named "Putter." 

The Popples were also featured in a Saturday morning cartoon that aired from 1986-1987.  It's intro feels vaguely familiar to me, I remember it was one of those half hour shows which always contained two mini-episodes.  But as far as mid '80s cartoon bear related programs go, it couldn't hold a candle to The Gummi Bears.


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Jinxing the New York Knicks?

JR Smith has been ridiculously good for the Knicks.
Three weeks ago I wrote that the Celtics had a good chance to win their 6th straight Atlantic Division title.  Boston was in the midst of a 7-2 stretch, and trailed New York by just 2.5 games at the time.  I figured the Knicks were about to crumble; they'd lost 4 in a row and had been decimated by injuries.

Man, was I wrong.  New York hasn't lost since, reeling off 12 straight victories.  They're now 10.5 games ahead of the Celtics, and can clinch the division tonight.  My hope of Boston drawing the Knicks in a #2 vs #7 first round playoff series is looking very probable, although now I'm starting to fear what I wished for.

New York was the hot topic of conversation on ESPN all day today, with whispers of them being a serious contender to challenge Miami.  Because of that, my gut feeling is they'll probably lose at home to the Wizards tonight.  It's the nature of sports, just ask the New England Patriots or the Chicago Blackhawks (although I was way off when I predicted a similar fate for the Heat and their crazy run).  Also, nobody beats the Wiz.


Monday, April 8, 2013

Some curious but irrelevant stats that favor the Wolverines

For the week of Monday, January 28th, the Michigan Wolverines were the #1 college basketball team in the country; while Louisville was #12.  As recently as March 4th the Wolverines were still the higher of the two teams in the polls (#7 vs #8).  By the final regular season rankings of the year the Cardinals had climbed all the way to #4, however Michigan was still just behind them at #6.  But then the Wolverines fell to Wisconsin in the Big Ten Tournament, and Louisville won the Big East's.  While that justifiably earned a #1 seed for the Cardinals, it didn't really make much sense that Michigan was handed a #4.  These two teams are a lot closer than those seeds indicate.

Despite going just 12-6 (and 1-1 in the tournament) and finishing 5th in a loaded Big Ten, Michigan is 31-7 overall; meaning they are undefeated (18-0) this season against all other conferences.  They are also looking to become just the second #4 seed to ever win the national championship.  The first was Arizona in 1997, who also finished 5th in their conference. Oddly enough the Wildcats defeated a #1 seeded Kansas squad on the way to the Final Four as well, and faced off against a Rick Pitino coached team (Kentucky) in the title game.

And if you have a few minutes, I highly recommend watching this clip of the lifelong friendship between Michigan's National Player of the Year Trey Burke and Boston Celtics (and former Ohio State Buckeye) forward Jared Sullinger.


Sunday, April 7, 2013

A knuckleball is still a knuckleball

Will Middlebrooks homers of R.A. Dickey.
Late last June I wrote a piece called "I'm pretty skeptical of R.A. Dickey."  He was having an unbelievable season for the New York Mets, and had just thrown back to back one-hitters.  Despite what many baseball analysts were saying, I thought it was a fluke.  Here was my rationale:
"Does it really make any sense that a 37 year old pitcher could reinvent himself and suddenly become virtually unhittable?  There is no precedent for that.  But you known what has happened before?  Knuckleball pitchers having ridiculous runs of short term dominance, because the pitch itself is inherently wild and crazy and unpredictable." 
I compared Dickey's numbers to a spectacular summer that Tim Wakefield had back in 1995.  Well, Dickey would finish the year 20-6 with a 2.73 ERA, and he won the N.L. Cy Young award.  I was wrong.

But then the offseason came and the Toronto Blue Jays traded for the now 38 year old, with the intentions of making him the ace of their staff.  They should have called me up first.  I'm slightly shocked that the Jays thought he could repeat his extraordinary success of 2012.  It's hard enough for a starting pitcher to go from the weak hitting NL to the DH laden AL, let alone a really old guy who throws knuckleballs.  After getting torched for 8 runs and 10 hits over 4.2 innings today, Dickey is now 0-2 with an 8.44 ERA in his first two starts with Toronto.  Yes I know it's a small sample size, but during his hot streak a year ago Dickey allowed just 9 runs in 68.2 innings over a nine game span (in which he went 9-0).  He's given up 12 runs already this season in only 10.2 innings.


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