Thursday, May 24, 2007

Jeff: What the Deuce?

Jer, who would be writing this post if he had internet at home, started an IM discussion today with this:

"The wolves had two coaches last year, one went 20-20, the other went 12-30... which one do you think got the contract extension?"

The answer, of course, is Randy Whitmann, the one with the 12-30 record. The man who went 20-20 and got as much out of a hapless Wolves team as any other coach possibly could have (or 8 more wins than the man that replaced him), was fired. Before him the blame was laid on current Pistons coach Flip Saunders. The Wolves record the year they fired him and McHale took over? 44-38. Read that again. 44-38. This past season, the 3rd straight they've missed the playoffs, they were 32-50.

Where are we going with this? That's what we'd like to ask Glen Taylor and Kevin McHale. What's the plan here gentlemen?

Jer summed it up in our chat today as such:
"...well, all of these moves just prove that there really is no plan there. they are flying by the seat of their pants, and aren't really building anything...all of these crappy moves that they have made are partially because they are stupid, but if they had a plan in place, to build the franchise as a winner, they would at least have something to shoot at. Instead they do stuff like picking up two aging superstars well past their prime, and they only get one year out of them, then they give up too much to get rid of one of them.

"Seriously, that is THE bottom line: there is no long term plan!"

I had really never thought of it that way. One minute they're in "win now" mode by trading for Spree and Cassell, which worked well for a year. The next they're spending one of the few first rounders they've had the past decade on a project like high schooler Endi Ibi, who even if he hadn't been a total bust would have taken 3-5 years to make a contribution. Or the worst move McHale's made (which is saying something), crippling both their present AND future when he dealt Cassell and a #1 pick to the Clippers for Marko Jaric and then signed him to a horrible long term contract. Then the Celtics trade and the Mike James signing have left them with zero cap flexibility and 2 lost draft picks in the very near future. So you have one superstar taking up a third of their cap, 6 untradeable players, a few good young players, and Ricky Davis. This recipe has brought them 3 straight lottery seasons, and yet McHale, the man who put them in this position somehow thinks he's magically going to get them out.

How? Why? Where is this all going? I've decided that if they will not trade Garnett then they HAVE to trade the #7 pick, Davis, and one of the 6 awful contracts for another star, and even then they're probably not going to be left with enough to win in the West (by the way, because of the stupid 3 division format, I did not even realize that not only are both Portland and Seattle out West, they're both in the Wolves division. Yikes!). What do they do where do they go?

Probably the same place they've been going for the last decade- nowhere. Now who's pumped for the upcoming Wolves season?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Jeff: Wolves, NBA Unlucky in the Lottery

Just thinking out loud here, but perhaps we can't quite put the NBA Conspiracy rumors to bed quite yet. Other than questions about the Amare/Diaw suspensions against the Spurs, nothing this year ticked Stern off more than tanking. You could just see the steam coming out of the man's ears when he asked whether he would try to do something about tanking. Well? The Celtics, Bucks, and T-Wolves were easily the 3 most egregious offenders of Tankapoolza 2007. The Wolves weren't tanking for the #1 pick, but for the SECOND YEAR IN A ROW were just trying to keep their draft pick by having one of the 10 worst records. For the second straight year they didn't improve their position in the lottery. Boston and Milwaukee finished with the 2nd and 3rd worst records but dropped as far as the lottery process allows, down to 5th and 6th respectively. Not that The Don Stern would EVER get revenge, but you could look at it that Boston and Milwaukee were penalized as much as possible for tanking. I'm not saying, I'm just saying.

Barring what would have to be the biggest trades in league history, the Pacific Northwest will be home to two once-in-a-generation talents. With just 5.3% odds, the Portland Trailblazers won the #1 pick and the rights to take super center Greg Oden with the #1 pick. Just up I-5, the Seattle Soon-To-Be-Oklahoma-or-Las-Vegas Sonics, with just an 8.8% chance, won the 2nd pick and essentially the rights to Texas super freshman Kevin Durant. Your MInnesota Timberwolves will pick right where they were projected to at #7, and since we've more than a month to figure out who they'll take (COREY BREWER COREY BREWER COREY BREWER), we won't bother with projections right now.

Speaking of bothered, that cussing you hear coming out of Sacaucus, NJ is from Commish David Stern and the NBA front office, as two franchise changers not only go to small markets, but go to WESTERN small markets. This is bad news because for them because, like most everyone else, you haven't been watching the Eastern Conference playoffs. Why? Because the East sucks. They were in dire need of Oden and or Durant. Out east you have 2 good but boring teams in Detroit and Chicago at the head of the pack, 2 of the games biggest stars (Lebron and Dwade) on bad teams with even worse salary cap situations, and then a bunch of teams we can't even call mediocre. The league would have LOVED to get one or both of these guys to Boston, Chicago or Philly, but instead, the already wild west just got a lot wilder, making things even worse for the Wolves. The Blazers are a playoff team right now with Oden. You may laugh now, but trust me, they're now ahead of the Wolves for the race for the 7th or 8th seed. SEattle? Maybe not a playoff shoo-in, but certainly much better with Durant.

Adding insult to injury for fans who enjoy watching the Phoenix Suns play basketball the way it was intended, you know with passing, the Suns could have had Atlanta's pick if it fell out of the top 3. The Hawks of course went and got #3. Thanks Atlanta- you guys can't even suck right. Jackholes.

Back to the Sonics for a minute, because I care way more than I should. I grew up only 2 hours from the Emerald City and the "Supes" have meant a lot to me. Their teams of the mid 90's with Payton, Kemp, Schrempf, Big Smooth, Nate McMillan and so many more you don't care about, were my 2nd favorite team to cheer for behind the '98 Vikings team that...well you know how that one ended with Atlanta. Just as tragic for Sonics basketball fans is how that Supes team was dismantled by one Wally Walker, who refused to give Kemp a contract extension he had earned (make all the paternity suit and drug jokes you want, he was the NBA's 2nd best power forward at the time, and the 2nd best player in that Bulls series behind Jordan in '96. You know what? Watch this youtube clip and you'll see what I mean. Best in-game dunker of our generation. Yup I said it.). Instead the money went to the biggest white stiff center in the history of big stiff white centers, Jim McIlvaine, who signed for what was huge money at the time and did what all big stiff white centers do...absolutely nothing. Kemp got pissed and got traded, team performance and attendance sunk, a good owner sold to the Coffee Bitch, who didn't like Gary Payton and traded him out of town, pretty much killing the fan base. Shocked that trading away your franchise player wasn;t the best way to drum up interest for a new stadium, he cried in his Latte and sold them for a small $150 MILLION DOLLAR PROFIT to the Oklahoma folks who will now move the team to their free arena in Oklahoma or a shiny new one in Vegas unless the good people of King County build him a stadium. Not a chance. Sianora Supes.

There are some who believe that the arrival of Oden or Durant could have caused enough sway with the public to keep the Sonics in Seattle. I think it was possible with Oden, but unless Durant scores 30 a night and lives up to the lofty Jordan comparisons from day 1, it's not going to be enough. So it was bad enough that a great fan base is getting robbed of its team because the Coffee Bitch was so arrogant to believe tax payers would and should build him a new arena for free. Now the Sonics will leave town with a kid who has the potential to be an all-time great. As the Sports Guy would say, I will now stab a pencil into my eye socket. Or listen to Avril the pencil in the eye would be less painful.

As for Wolves fans, well you already know how I feel. And David Stern. And Celtics fans.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Jeremy: Quick Notes

*Jason Giambi thinks that Major League Baseball owes the fans an apology for everything that has happened with performance enhancing drugs.
"What we should have done a long time ago was stand up -- players, ownership, everybody -- and said, 'We made a mistake... We should have apologized back then and made sure we had a rule in place and gone forward."
Four words to Mr Giambi: GOOD LUCK WITH THAT!

*Can someone please return the Minnesota Twins back to Minnesota? This bunch of guys that are wearing Twins jersey's right now, and parading around like they are MLB players is clearly not the real guys.
Honestly, what happened here? Look, we didn't expect a ton of runs out of these guys, but you had to expect that they'd be serviceable. The real shocker is the pitching and the defense. Like I said, who are these guys?

*The Vikings are trying to make another push for a stadium at the end of the legislative session in order to drum up support for next year's session. Asking the state to consider a Vikings stadium at this point, for the Vikings, is a little like The Jesus (John Turturo's character in "The Big Lebowski" describing Walter (John Goodman) not being able to bowl on Saturday because it's Shabas: "Laughable man!"

*I'm not 100% of the opinion that the NBA may have taken away the championship from the Suns by suspending Diaw and Stoudamire in game 5, but HOLY CRAP, could that possibly have come at a worse possible time for the NBA?

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Jeff: Enough Already!

There's some whining going on in the world of sports right now. Some surprising, some...yeah not so much.

Look this is just like the Heisman Trophy: it goes to the best player on the best team. Dallas was the best team, Dirk their best player, and voila! Your MVP! Nash was really the only other player you could make a case for, and we knew the voters were not going to give him 3 straight MVP's because they don't feel he's worthy of the company of other 3 time winners like MJ, Bird, and Russell. Who's fault is that? The voters of course for giving him the first two!!! For the record, I would not have given Stevie Nash the MVP the previous 2 seasons, but his numbers were better across the board this year and he did an excellent job of soothing egos and getting this group to play together. Not giving someone an award even though he's deserving because you feel he's not an all-time great, well, it's like Ricky Williams hitting the hash pipe yet again: it's just plain stupid. Oh, and just to remind folks: IT'S A REGULAR SEASON AWARD!!! Dallas losing in the first round does not mean Nowitzki should have to give back the MVP. By being the best player on the best team in the regular season, he was apparently deserving of the award.

Who's more annoying: Red Sox fans or Spurs players? Joel, one of our 4 faithful readers, HATED the CWebb/Vlade Divac/"Close Your Mouth" Stojakovic Sacramento Kings from a few years back because of all their whining and flopping (and that Peja would't close his mouth. Nice signing by the Hornets though. $60 million for him to be on IR all year. Well done). I admittedly liked that team, mostly because CWebb was one of my favorite players (Shawn Kemp's my all-time fave. I've learned to live with my poor choices in players), but fully admitted that they were whiny floppers. Well the Spurs have taken this to an entirely new level, to the point that I think we need a new rule for the Spurs, and for any Europeans/Manu Ginobili's: act like a man! You want to play here? Stop flailing like you were hit with a cannon when somebody gets near you and for gawd sakes shut up when a foul/penalty/infraction is called on you. You wonder why football hasn't caught on over there? Good lord what would be their reaction in a game where they're actually allowed to get hit? (Just so we're clear, folks from the UK are not included in this group since they don't play basketball or hockey that I know of. Well except John Amechi, and we're not going there) Anyway I hate the Spurs, and if you live anywhere outside the San Antonio metro area you have to really hate yourself to cheer for that team.

Am I a Barry Bonds fan? No. Do I think Barry Bonds used steroids after 1998? Yes. However I still have no problem with him hitting 756 and going into Cooperstown someday. 3 reasons:
1) He won 3 MVP's, 8 Gold Gloves, made 8 All Star appearances, and became the only player in baseball history with 400 HR's and 400 stolen bases. And he did all of this BEFORE 1999, when he magically put on 30 pounds of muscle, stopped stealing bases, and his head started to look like an orange on a tooth pick (it had it's own weather system. HEED! PANTS! NOW! He's gonna cry himself to sleep on his huge pilla). Unlike McGwire, Sosa, Palmeiro, and others he was one of the greatest players ever even before his alleged roid use began.
2) As positive steroid tests from guys like Twins relief pitcher Juan Rincon and journeyman leadoff hitting center fielder Alex Sanchez show, there's really no telling who was/IS using and who's not. So I find it a tad hypocritical that we're going to keep the Bonds and McGwire's of the era out because they LOOK like steroid users, when there's countless other hitters and pitchers using that we'll do nothing about. I could name 10 guys off the top of my head, including a certain pitcher who just signed a ridiculous contract to play half a season with an AL East team, who have had VERY suspicious body changes/late career spikes, but we don;t like to talk about them. Nope, we'll only go after the guys we don't like. Pitchers seem to be like football players: we just don't seem to care if they use roids or not. But hitters? Stone them all!!!!
3) As baseball scribe Buster Olney has said many times on this issue: Baseball knew there were guys juicing in the 80's, 90's, and into this decade. Players knew it, teams knew it, and the media knew something was wrong with all the "new" body types that were coming in. But fans love offense and home runs, and the game needed to bounce back after the strike. We as fans should have seen signs, but we just didn't want to believe until we had to. I know I didn't. I LOVED the '98 season with McGwire and Sosa. I saw one of Sosa's 20 HR's in June in my first ever game at Wrigley (...allow me a moment of silence because I won't get to go to Chicago for the first time in 7 years...Thank you) So don't tell me this is some travesty to the game that Bonds will be it's all-time home run hitter: because baseball let it happen. You reap what you sow.

Finally, Favre isn't happy because his Packers didn't get Randy Moss for a 4th round pick. He's only half right here: the Pack DID have a chance to get Randy back in February or March, so yes they dropped the proverbial ball there. But once New England got involved, it was over. Moss wants to win a Super Bowl, and I think even delusional Packer fans would have to agree his chances are a helluva lot better in New England than they would have been in Green Bay. So Favre's Pack didn't get Moss, didn't help him in the draft, and signed nobody of consequence in free agency so he demands a trade and starts whining about it?...Wait a know what? Mr Spotlight Brett Favre might actually be right on this one. For once I agree with him. And as a Vikings fan I couldn't be happier. Now back to my prayer vigil for Adrian Peterson's collarbone.