Monthly Archives: October 2008

Lakers Look Legendary

It’s only been two games, but the Los Angeles Lakers look like the best NBA team I’ve ever seen.

Better than Magic Johnson’s Lakers; better the Michael Jordan’s Bulls; better than Tim Duncan’s Spurs.

Better than the Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal Lakers.

They’ve beaten the Portland Trail Blazers and the cross-locker room Clippers, true. But damn, they’ve looked impressive doing it, winning by an average of 28 points!

Kobe looks fit. He still turns the ball over at an alarming rate but he’s deadly. Everyone knows that. He is the Black Mamba. I can’t believe guys give him an inch, defensively.

Bynum looks like an emerging monster, on the offensive boards especially. I can’t wait to see him out-quick Shaq and out-maneuver Duncan in the playoffs.

Pau Gasol remains awfully soft. He’s got great post moves but seems recline to just sort of fling the ball at the basket. He should be putting it down team’s throats. Instead, he delivers these half-hearted hook shots. Someone needs to drill some serious toughness into this soft Euro.

The supporting cast (Derek Fisher, Vlad Radmanovic, Lamar Odom, et al) looks more confident thus far. They seem to have an understanding of a better defensive system, playing zone more and rebounding better.

And head coach Phil Jackson looks at least 10 years younger with a clean shave. Say, wasn’t that about the time the Lakers starting winning championships the first time?

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Filed under Basketball, Los Angeles Lakers, NBA

Give Them An ‘F’

The Philadelphia Phillies phinally won the phucking World Series. Phooey.

The Phillies, since winning that gag-nasty Game 5, have been the toast of sports. I suppose they deserve it. After all, they did sneak past the limping Tampa Bay Rays. But there was little, if anything, that was impressive about this Phillies team. In fact, they’re probably the most unimpressive champion in recent memory, perhaps only dwarfed by the 2005 Chicago White Sox.

These Phillies couldn’t hit and couldn’t drive in a single runner in scoring position. They won with smoke and mirrors and Cole Hamels.

They did win, though, and will reap the rewards.

So now, in the days and weeks to come, they’ll have their little parade and do the talk-show circuit. They’ll have their yuks with Letterman and Leno and eventually end up on the South Lawn of the White House this winter as the last guests of an outgoing president.

I’m guessing J-Roll and Co. will probably give ‘W.’ one of those quaint, if not overused “No. 1” jerseys he’s been collecting these last eight years.

Funny thing is, ‘W.’ was born on third base and thought he hit a triple, while the Phillies died on third base because nobody could get another hit. Yet both managed to score big in the end.

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Filed under Baseball, MLB

There’s A New Sheriff In Town

Mike Singletary’s debut as head coach of the San Francisco 49ers didn’t go exactly as anticipated.

The Niners lost to the Seattle Seahawks 34-13 in San Francisco on Sunday amidst much turmoil on the home sideline.

Down two scores, the new head coach sent his starting tight end to the showers after a brief confrontation then benched the team’s starting QB following an interception that was returned for a touchdown.

After the game, Singletary put his players and staff on blast. He said he’d rather play with only 10 players than 10 players and one loser (TE Vernon Davis); that turnovers will not be tolerated (QB J.T. O’Sullivan); nor will coaches who tolerate turnovers (Mike Martz).

And that was his opening salvo. I’m thinking things are about to change in San Francisco.

The team is 2-6 and staring down its worst season yet. The offense can’t score enough, the defense can’t stop anything. Not that much of that changed on Sunday.

Still, there’s a sense that Singletary cares enough to kick some ass to get is point across.

There’s a moment on a piece of NFL Films footage where Singletary is quoted as saying:

“I’m gonna be here all day, baby! I like this kind of party!”

I’ve always admired that. It’s 20 below at Soldier Field and Singletary’s talking trash.

If he can develop that kind of insanity/bravado in Patrick Willis and the defense, Alex Smith/J.T. O’Sullivan/Sean Hill/2009 No. 1 Draft Pick could play quarterback and the 49ers would win games.

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Filed under Football, NFL, San Francisco 49ers

“Hang Time” At The HDC

I received tickets to Sunday’s Los Angeles Galaxy-FC Dallas match at the Home Depot Center and was pleasantly surprised by how much fun I had.

 

Tickets came courtesy of Galaxy super PR man Gary Gomez, who hooked me up with two seats, 12 rows up. I took my Father-In-Law and we were both taken in by how intimate a venue it is from the field seats. We sat in the shade the entire first half and had a terrific sight-line on David Beckham’s arched assist on Edson Buddle’s headed goal.

 

We had so much fun, in fact, that the game went by way faster than any 90 minutes should. The match was back-and-forth, with the Galaxy scoring first on Buddle’s header. FC Dallas then scored twice in a four-minute span to quiet the house before halftime.

 

We walked around the concourse during intermission and pondered the total number of Beckham jerseys being worn and sold. All merchandise was reduced 40 percent because it was the last match of the season, or Fan Appreciation Day. In other words, all items must be sold!

 

Back to the match… the Galaxy attacked relentlessly in the second half and eventually earned a PK that Landon Donovan slammed home with style to tie the match. It was a moment of elation for those in the stands. The goal didn’t mean victory but everyone got to go home on even-footing, which was just as satisfying considering the alternative.

 

All in all, it was a fulfilling experience, but… this is the part where I’m brutally honest.

 

The Home Depot Center is adequate. It has all the amenities, luxury boxes, concessions stands and the like. But the thing stands like a testimonial to communism, in a Karl Marx sense. That is, everything is gray and drab. It lacks much architectural nuance and the only color is that of the team’s advertisers. It’s an arena for the proletariat, not the bourgeoisie.

 

The Galaxy’s humble surroundings are very suitable for a team in last place. I argue that the Galaxy could’ve finished in the cellar WITHOUT Donovan or Beckham and it probably wouldn’t change L.A.’s place on the league table if they both play and stay in Europe through next year. Who knows? The team might actually improve. Sounds crazy but without any stars around, guys will have to step up and take more responsibility.

 

Without Donovan and Beckham, guys like Edson Buddle, Alan Gordon and Alviro Pires would be the leaders of next year’s team. Buddle had a career year this season while Gordon and Pires are mostly unproven players thus far.

 

Eddie Lewis is a quality winger with U.S. National Team experience, but his time is short and his age is long. He was brought in at mid-season and may or may not be back.

 

The only other player who is impressive enough to stick around is Mike Randolph. He plays left back like his hair is on fire. It’s obvious how hard he works because of his lack of size, but he’s fast and causes problems for opposing forwards.

 

As a manager, Bruce Arena’s got all the credentials — World Cup manager, MLS Cup winner — but his future is less certain than that of his star players. He was brought in to replace Ruud Gullit in August so who knows how long he’ll be coaching in Carson. Bruce Arena probably doesn’t know how long he’ll be coaching in Carson. He probably isn’t a long-term solution.

 

With all the influx taking place right now, it may be hard to image another MLS Cup anytime in the club’s future.

 

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Filed under Los Angeles Galaxy, MLS, Soccer, Sports Celebrities

Beginning Of The End For Patriots

Finally. This could be just the thing that spells disaster for the New England Patriots.

Tom Brady’s recovery from knee surgery has hit a snag. Last year’s NFL MVP has an infection in his injured knee and could possibly face another reconstruction should doctors not find a way to disinfect. And that’s not even worse-case scenario. Should doctors not be able to control the infection, Tom Terrific could face amputation.

Needless to say, Brady is on the shelf well past the beginning of next season. And the Patriots now face a uncertain future with Matt Cassel as their starting QB and questions everywhere but receiver and head coach.

Funny how losing the face on the franchise exposes the ass. I mean both butt cheeks — Randy Moss and Bill Belicheck. Moss thought he was going to hook up with Brady and Belichick and finally win a Super Bowl! And Belichick thought he could ride Brady’s magic into the sunset. I can’t wait to see Moss have one of those crying episodes that seem to be so popular with big-name receivers. Or Belichick’s futile attempt to explain losing to the New York Jets in the playoffs.

Brady’s prognosis also comes at a critical time for Boston fans. Their beloved Red Sox just lost Game 7 of the ALCS to the Tampa Bay Rays so they’re as low as they’ve been in several years. This news probably ruined their day.

Awesome.

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Filed under Football, NFL

Niners Finally Nix Nolan

The NFL’s “Team of the ’80s” will now have its fourth coach in 10 years.

Mike Nolan is out as head coach of the San Francisco 49ers, according to a report Monday on ESPN.com.

And it’s about time.

Nolan, son of 49ers’ icon Dick Nolan, coached the the team to an 18-37 record (a .327 winning percentage) and ZERO playoff appearances in three-plus seasons beginning in 2005.

The job now goes to defensive coordinator Mike Singletary, the former Chicago Bears linebacking great and an NFL Hall-of-Famer. He’ll bring his trademark intensity and take-no-prisoners attitude. Hopefully, those attributes can transform this hapless team and translate into more victories. 

Singletary’s obvious abililty to coach aside, this firing is way more about Nolan’s inability to turn around a team despite a number of top draft picks, including 2005 No. 1 overall Alex Smith. It was Nolan’s decision to go to journeyman QB J.T. O’Sullivan ahead of Smith that probably sealed his fate with the organization. 49ers’ brass spent a ton of money on Smith and then had to watch him just hold a clipboard on the sidelines this season while the offense STILL struggled. And at 2-5, with four consecutive losses, it finally became too much to bear.

Nolan and Smith’s public falling out last season made a bad situation worse. Often injured, Smith was finally healthy toward the tail end of 2007 but Nolan decided the team was in better hands with guys like Sean Hill (who?) and Cody Pickett (huh?). 

In my mind, choosing Hill/Pickett over Smith was the final straw. Nolan was going to be fired, it was just a matter of time. And hiring the inept Mike Martz as offensive coordinator only showed how little Nolan knew about running an offense.

This may be because Nolan is a defensive guy. He drafted talented linebackers Manny Lawson and Patrick Willis and was able to sign free-agent All-Pro corner Nate Clements. Yet the defense was allowing 25.5 points per game during his tenure, second worst all-time for a coach of more than 50 games.

Obviously, defense was no longer his strong suit. At least not as strong as those suits he had taken to wearing on the sidelines. For a coach with such style, it’s unfortunate he was unable to infuse his team with anything more than a losing atmosphere.

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Filed under Football, NFL, San Francisco 49ers

Greeks Want NBA Gyros

Here’s a joke…

Two Greek guys walk into a bar and say: “We want to buy your NBA players.”

The bartender says: “You’re gonna need a lot of money.”

The two Greek guys say: “Don’t worry. We’re good for it.”

The bartender says: “You sure? These fellas are Negros.”

The two Greek guys say: “Yes. Especially if they’re Negros, with Afro haircuts.”

The bartender says: “Alright. But no discount for Afros.”

———

There’s been something said lately about the possibility of other premier NBA players taking big money from foreign teams and leaving the United States for lucrative contracts with club teams in places like Greece and Italy.

Guys like Kobe, LeBron and Shaq have all been quoted, within the last couple of months, about how much they appreciate what Josh Childress did in signing with Olympiacos, one of the top teams in Euroleague, Europe’s pro basketball league. They all think Childress made a smart, calculated move. They all wish they did it first.

But what Childress did says a lot more about his skill-set and who he is a basketball player than the temptation of playing overseas. Childress is a tweener. That is, too big to keep up with smaller guards but too small to be effective against the bigs. And he was NEVER gonna be the man in the NBA, just too many dudes. This probably ate at him after his All-American career at Stanford, were he played in a couple of Final Fours and was the man.

He is a terrific jump-shooter — it’s his shot which earned him a job an off-guard in the NBA — and he’s smart. Did I mention he played at STANFORD. He realized he could make just as much money and live like a rock star, but he had to do it somewhere other than here. So he accepted an offer from the Old World. Like Mt. Olympus old. He went Greecian 5. Childress is now working for a couple of young Greek hotshots willing to pay him handsomely for his services, and that retro Afro.

The Angelopoulos brothers (Panayiotis and George, third photo from bottom of page) are heirs to a billion-dollar shipping and steel fortune and picked up Olympiacos, Greek’s most successful sports academy, as a play thing. Thing is, they’re serious about making the basketball club the most visable in Europe and have an infinite amount of cash at their disposal.

There’s one problem. They look like a couple of wannabe thugs. These two are shipping magnates? Maybe after they finish potty training. Or have their first shave.

Word is, they practically own Greece. They’re their countries most eligible bachelors, and not because of their Mediterranean good looks. They’ve been seen at Greecian discos with several of the world’s most beautiful models, so you know they’re on the prowl.

Who knows? They could end up attracting your team’s second or third best player.

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Filed under Basketball, NBA