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-- Not a gutty performance by the Lakers, who went down 106-90 to the Thunder in Oklahoma City, losing their series in five games.
-- Celtics were down 3 at the half, but Brandon Bass scored 22 points in second half as Boston pulled away from Philly, 101-85, taking a 3-2 lead in that series.
-- Devils beat the Rangers 4-1, tied that series 2-2. New York is only 10-8 in the playoffs, but they've still got a shot at the Stanley Cup.
-- Angels scored five runs in three straight losses at San Diego/Oakland, and Mickey Hatcher was nowhere to be found. Who gets fired now?
-- Stan Van Gundy has a .641 winning percentage as an NBA coach, but in the NBA, if a team's star wants you fired, you get fired. He'd be very good on TV, like his brother. Curious to see where he winds up.
-- Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family of former West Virginia football coach Bill Stewart who died of a heart attack Monday, at age 59.
Tuesday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but........
13) In Jered Weaver’s first six starts, batters swung at 289 pitches, missed 60 times, an average of 10 misses per game, with a 20.8% whiff rate; the sixth start was his no-hitter.
In three starts since then, opponents have swung 108 times with only 12 misses (4 per game, whiff rate of 11.1%). Is it a coincidence?
12) Speaking of the Angels, they’re 1-8 when Dan Haren starts, largely because they’ve scored 3 or less runs in eight of the nine games. In his last four starts, Halos scored 0-0-0-2 runs. Maybe Haren and Ervin Santana got Mickey Hatcher fired.
11) Then there’s Ivan Nova, who got less than five runs of support from the Bronx Bombers in only one of his nine starts. Easier to pitch in some places than others, though the short dimensions in RF in the Bronx make pitching there a dicey proposition, too, for different reasons.
10) Robinson Cano will be a free agent soon and he’s going to make a lot of money; Cano obviously, plays 2B and was named after Jackie Robinson, who played 2B (and 1B/OF) for the Dodgers. It wouldn’t be that surprising if Cano bolted the Bronx for Tinseltown, would it?
I mean, what if free agents started to see the Bombers as a sinking ship, with so much money tied up in aging/fading superstars (ARod/Jeter/ Teixeira) and a ballpark that free agent pitchers will want to avoid making half their starts in—would playing elsewhere seem like a better option?
9) Why is Colorado wheeling 49-year old Jamie Moyer out to pitch every fifth day? Their team is awful; wouldn't it be smarter to give a young guy a little experience? Plus, they must have someone better than Moyer down on the farm, no?
8) Hey!!! Wednesday is Free Slurpie Day at 7-11’s, from 11am-7pm.
7) Pirate hitters swung at 63 of Max Scherzer’s pitches Sunday, and missed 26 times, an alarming rate; all 15 of his strikeouts were swinging. Of the 115 pitches Scherzer threw, Pittsburgh put only nine in play. Eeesh.
6) Since getting pummeled at Fenway by the Indians couple weeks ago, Josh Beckett has righted the ship, allowing one run in 14.2 IP in his last two starts. Maybe they lifted the embargo on fried chicken and beer in the clubhouse (or maybe not).
5) If I own the Orlando Magic, I hand Dwight Howard a clipboard and tell him to coach the damn team. Stan Van Gundy has a .641 winning %age, but Howard didn't want to play for him. Who does he want to play for? Thats the biggest problem the NBA has, inmates are running the asylums.
Actually, I could never own one of those teams, because I'd never fire this guy Van Gundy; he's an excellent coach. But you need players to win, you need players who buy in to what the coach is teaching.
4) My goal for the 2012 A’s was to be a contender when Manny Ramirez became eligible after 50 games; a modest goal, but this is a team with a very modest payroll. They’re 22-21 and hanging in there; but they need a productive Manny batting behind a healthy Cespedes.
Without those two producing, it’ll be a long summer, even after an uplifting spring (to this point).
3) Former NFL QB Jon Kitna is now a Math teacher and football coach at his old high school in Tacoma. Not many former NFL QBs live that normal a life after playing more than a decade in the league.
2) If you don’t think Drew Brees is going to break the bank before training camp starts, think again: the Saints’ backup QB is Chase Daniel. How could they face their season ticket holders if they let Brees sit out this season, one where the Super Bowl is on Bourbon Street?
1) It sucks to get swept, but the Clippers had a good season, just their third winning season since moving west from Buffalo. They won a playoff series, invigorated a depressed fan base and have stars to build around. Hopefully they’ll continue to build their team into a contender than can challenge the Lakers for supremacy in Hollywood.
-- If Dwight Howard didn't like Stan Van Gundy, how do you think he'd like Jerry Sloan? Sloan is rumored to want back in to NBA coaching.
-- Miami shot 61% from floor and hammered the Pacers, who seem to be helpless if James/Wade play well, which they did the last two games.
-- Tip of the cap to the late Eugene Polley, who died this week at age 96. Man invented the remote control for our TVs. Thank you, sir.
-- Tremendous hockey game in Glendale, with the Kings advancing to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since 1993. LA wins 4-3 in OT.
-- In Phoenix, more LA-Arizona drama, as D'Backs blew a 6-1 lead in 7th inning, then blew a 7-6 lead in 9th, as Dodgers continued their dream year with an 8-7 win. Tough night for the two desert teams. Very tough.
-- Imagine being a middle-aged person who has rooted for the LA Kings his/her whole life; this is only your second chance at the Finals. Must be so exciting, especially winning the conference final on an OT goal. Hope all those Kings fans are enjoying the ride.
Wednesday's List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud..........
13) Recruiting must be fun these days for San Diego State 's Steve Fisher; he has former Fab Fivers Chris Webber/Jalen Rose all over TV during the NBA playoffs, and he has Aztec alum Kawhi Leonard starting for the Spurs, a team that rarely starts a rookie. What better advertisement for a kid to go play for Fisher? Oh yeah, the weather’s pretty good there, too.
12) This is hard to believe, but Elias Sports Bureau knows all, and they say before Monday night, when Pittsburgh rallied from a 4-0 deficit to beat the Mets, the Pirates had lost 160 games in a row when trailing by 4+ runs. 160 games in a row. Not good.
11) Are there NBA teams who don’t want their stars playing in Olympics this summer, or in the practice games to get the Olympic team ready for London? If so, other than Mark Cuban, they’re awful quiet. Have to think there are some dissenters out there somewhere.
10) Tommy Dempsey is quitting as coach at Rider to go to Binghamton? Is this the case of a guy on thin ice jumping before the ice breaks underneath him, or what? America East isn’t close to as good a league as the MAAC. Interesting career move.
9) Speaking of America East, not often a kid transfers from UAlbany to the ACC, but Logan Aronhalt did just that, going from the Great Danes down to Maryland. Very curious to track his progress with the Terps.
8) Washington Nationals have won nine of their last ten games against the Phillies. Nats are getting a terrific year out of lefty pitcher Gio Gonzalez, but one of the guys they traded to Oakland to get him, Tommy Milone, is 4-0, 0.90 in four home starts. Problem is, he is 2-3, 7.56 on the road.
7) Roger Clemens started this, and now Andy Pettitte/Roy Oswalt are carrying it on; the veteran starting pitcher signing with a contender a decent ways into the season.
Picking his spot to try and get into the postseason, partly because they’re not durable enough anymore to pitch a whole season. Curious to see where Oswalt winds up; he’s never pitched in the AL before, against the DH.
6) Kobe Bryant will make $58M over the next two seasons. Wonder who will be coaching him for those two years.
5) Cincinnati-Xavier hoop rivalry, one of the most bitter in the country, will be played in the neutral downtown arena next season. Good idea after last year’s ugly fracas. Let things cool down for a couple years.
4) If a college coach wishes a recruit “Good luck” before a game he is at, that’s an NCAA violation, further evidence the NCAA rulebook needs to be pared down. A lot. Too many silly rules.
3) Buccaneers traded Kellen Winslow Jr to Seattle, then signed former Colt TE Dallas Clark, who won’t enjoy catching balls from Josh Freeman as much he did being one of Peyton Manning’s top targets with Indy.
2) Have to give Dick Vitale a lot of credit; he has dedicated himself to raising money to fight cancer; his gala dinner in Florida Friday night raised over $2.1M. He has done a tremendous amount of fund raising to battle cancer. Good for him.
1) Guy who caught Scott Van Slyke’s first big league homer in LA Sunday night wasn’t greedy, asking for a signed ball in exchange for the actual home run ball; kid could’ve gotten a lot more had he tried.
Thursday's Lucky Eleven: Clearing out a cluttered mind.........
11) There are 18 teams in the Big East for basketball this year, before Pitt-Syracuse bolt for the ACC; they want all 18 teams in the Big East tourney, which is going to make the event six days long. Very cumbersome.
10) Six games in the Philly-Boston series; the team leading at halftime lost five of the six games. Highly unusual.
9) Quite a turnaround for Seattle pitcher Kevin Millwood: after going 0-4, 6.68 in his first six starts, he's rallied to go 3-0, 0.41 in his last three.
8) Red Sox have played 44 games this season; Scott Podsednik is already the sixth centerfielder Boston has used.
7) Kid named Adam Smith scored 13.7 ppg for NC-Wilmington this season, their second-leading scorer; too bad he got poached by Virginia Tech's new coach, James Johnson, who is desperate for good players and got the kid to leave UNCW for an ACC school. One with a lousy hoop program.
This is a growing trend that is disturbing; schools in BCS leagues poaching the better players from mid-major programs. Seems more like major league baseball every year, and thats not a compliment.
6) UNLV-Arizona are going to have a home/home series starting next year, for four years; never saw that when Tark/Lute were in charge. Lute Olson succeeded Jerry Tarkanian as coach at Long Beach State after Tark went to UNLV. Lets just say the two were never very close after that.
5) Orlando Magic are going to interview Shaquille O'Neal for their GM job; if they hire him, a) I'll be glad he's off TV, because he's not good, b) I'll fall off my couch in shock. Whats the percentage of star players who because good executives? Thats two different skill sets.
4) Tampa Bay Rays exceed expectations because they're not afraid to fail-- Carlos Pena was hitting .116 in May, so they batted him leadoff this week to shake him out of his slump, and its working. That might be some of the advantage of playing in a small market; less scrutiny if you take a chance and it fails. In NY/Boston, media would make too big a thing out of it.
3) New Jersey Devils are now 14-6 in franchise history in Game 5's when a series is tied 2-2; thats a damn good record.
2) Stanley Cup Finals start next Wednesday; that means the Kings will have eight days between games. Eastern champ will have home ice edge in Finals, but since LA is a ridiculous 8-0 on road in the playoffs, does it matter?
1) The first two batters in the A's lineup are hitting .199 and .175; their starting 3B is hitting .127. Why do they have to bat Coco Crisp second? Why did they pay him $7M this year?
Friday's List of 13: Random thoughts with the weekend here.....
13) Albert Pujols hit his 4th homer in nine games Thursday, now has 17 RBI in his last 18 games; people in Anaheim can stop panicking.
12) Further proof the world is going crazy: Lawrence Taylor gave one of his Super Bowl rings to his son, who put it up for auction; turns out the lucky buyer was Charlie Sheen, as once again, worlds collide.
11) Mets' 1B Ike Davis had a pinch-hit single Thursday, making him 5-62 (.081) at home. He's hitting .229 on the road.
10) Read a lot this week about the death of Bill Stewart, the West Virginia football coach who had a heart attack and passed at age 59; read how a lot of people who knew him claimed that every time they met him, it seemed like the best day of his life, he was always that upbeat.
Now thats a rare gift thats more unusual than physical skills; wish I had it. Its too bad the school tossed him aside last year. May he rest in peace.
9) Even further proof the world is going crazy: A kid from Long Beach, CA was sent to jail for sexual assault long time ago; he just recently got out, at which point the girl who accused him friended him on Facebook, admitting she made whole thing up, but fearful she'll have to repay the $1.5M she won when she sued the Long Beach School District after the guilty verdict.
Meanwhile, the kid who went to jail is now 26 and still hopes to play in the NFL; he was going to USC before his legal problems. This is a movie just waiting to be written; hopefully the guy will get a chance at a good life, as he was robbed out of some of the best years of his life.
8) Three college baseball programs are tied for the lead in alumni who have played major league baseball; Arizona State-USC-Texas all have 100.
7) Weird baseball night on a short card Thursday, with four of seven games having 15+ runs scored; some terrible baseball in Padre-Met and in Miami at the Giant-Marlin game. Looked like lot of mentally tired players.
6) Joe Sheehan writes about baseball for Sports Illustrated; he came up with an interesting fact last night; of the 71 batters Jonathan Papelbon faced this season, he has faced a #3 hitter only twice and a cleanup hitter only twice.
5) Braves lost five of their last six games, scoring total of 12 runs.
4) I've said this before, but as much as I love basketball, best-of-7 series in the NBA aren't interesting, the better team almost always wins. Playoffs in the NHL are interesting because there are upsets (See Kings, LA). The odd bounces a hockey puck takes make each game totally unique.
March is a great month because every NCAA tournament game has so much potential drama; there is so little of that in the NBA playoffs.
3) I'm thinking the NFL would've been better off letting the Saints players slide in the Bountygate issue; punishing the coaches was enough. Now it is a huge issue that won't go away easily, especially with the Super Bowl on Bourbon Street this year.
2) San Antonio Spurs won eight of their last ten games with the Thunder, with the average of the eight wins by 9.6 points.
1) Chris Christie is the governor of New Jersey; he wants to make betting on sports legal in his state, quickly, like by the start of the NFL season. It will be interesting to see how the feds react to that, especially in an election year. Most people in New Jersey want sports betting to be legal, and once they get it, it'll spread like wildfire, since everyone will want their piece of the huge financial pie that sports betting will bring. Interesting stuff.