Friday, June 29, 2007

Jeremy: NBA draft thoughts

An email exchange between Jeffrick and myself...
Well? The Wolves took the guy we wanted. I did NOT want them taking Yi or Hawes under any circumstances. No moves, but love them taking Brewer.
Thought the Celtics got a great deal for Ray Allen. How in the heck do they get him without giving up Al Jefferson, Gerald Green or the expiring deals of Ratliff or Telfair? The new Sonics GM has some explaining to do there. This does seem to still leave the door open for a KG-to-Boston deal tho. All the pieces are still in place. KG, Pierce and Ray Allen? Wow. Something to keep an eye on.
Interesting deal too with Portland and the Knicks. Sounds like Portland will buy out Francis' deal and he'll be a free agent right away. Simply clearing cap space. Probably not a bad idea considering they drafted 47 players tonight, but still, I thought they'd get more for Randolph. David Stern has to be happy tho: The Knicks and Celtics just got a helluva lot better tonight.

Jeremy in reply:
I LOVE the Brewer pick, and depending on what happens with KG, this could be a REALLY fun team to watch in two years. Foye, McCants, Brewer, Smith and…? Wow, that’s a pretty nice young nucleus. Too bad Whitman has to coach them. When I was writing about KG the other day I almost wanted to make the same Adrian Peterson type statement in regards to Brewer, “If Corey Brewer is available when the Wolves pick at #7 and they don’t take him, it will be the biggest mistake of the draft.” Kind of wish I had now.
Yeah, interesting deal with the Sonics. I don’t think it’s a horrible deal, but it feels like the kind of deal McHale would make. A really young guy (Green) and a nothing player who is probably on the downswing (Wally). I mean, where’s the game-plan in that deal? But the Celts are looking better for a run in the short term, and you’ve got to think that getting a guy like Allen was maybe a bargaining chip for getting KG in green? Either way, it probably makes Peirce happy.
And the Blazers, you’re right, but my goodness that could be another team that’s about two years away from being unreal. I’m predicting a Wolves/Blazers Western Conference Finals in 2009.

One more thought: Upon further review I really like the Chris Richard pick in the second round. This guy would have been an impact starter on almost any other team in college basketball. He likes to knock people around in the paint, he has the ability to score, and he seems to be the kind of guy that makes people think twice about going to the basket. Several people thought he'd go undrafted, but I don't mind the pick for the Wolves, since they have always needed a guy like him.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Jeremy: Regarding the KG trade rumors

I've been so torn over the last week or so about the Kevin Garnett trade rumors, that I've almost turned to apathy. My special lady friend and I had a friend over for dinner last night, and he brought the subject up. I found myself saying that I'm still not convinced that KG is going to be traded, that the whole thing just doesn't seem right, and that the fact that Glen Taylor is in China on his honeymoon adds to my feeling.
(Sidenote: If you weren't worried about Glen Taylor as an owner before, please take very serious note of the fact that the man scheduled his honeymoon during the NBA draft. To be fair, my honeymoon was during the NBA draft as well. But last time I checked I don't own an NBA franchise.)
But then the truth came out.
"Then again, that could just be denial."
I can't tell if it's denial or apathy anymore. It's clear that a trade is going to happen, it's clear that McHale is shopping KG, and it's probably also clear that McHale is going to screw this up. It's pretty much a forgone conclusion, right?
And maybe that's why I'm experiencing the apathy. Maybe I'm preparing myself for the worst.
The bottom line is that KG is going to be gone. My favorite athlete of all time is going to be wearing the uniform of a different team.
The worst part of all of the rumors for me have been the Lakers rumors. I've already come to grips with the fact that I'm going to become at least a casual fan of whatever team KG ends up playing for. But I'm not sure I could bring myself to cheer for the Lakers, even with KG. Cheering for the Lakers would be like cheering for the Yankees or Notre Dame: it's too damn easy, and I would be forced to hate myself.
But this whole thing isn't KG's fault. He's never asked to be traded, he's always been the consummate team guy, and he's always played his ass off no matter who was surrounding him, so you can't blame the Wolves situation on him. The Wolves are a complete mess and (unless you want to blame KG for taking the richest contract in NBA history, which is ludicrous) it's Kevin McHale and Glen Taylor's fault.
I'm not sure I could stomach KG in Boston (and apparently neither can he), since I'd have to read The Sports Guy's giddy accounts of a Garnett/Pierce tandem for the next 5 years.
The best case scenario, for me, would be the Phoenix Suns. I know, I know, the rich get richer. But I've been a casual Suns fan since my grandparents spent winters in Arizona and my dad lived in Phoenix, and if you don't enjoy watching that team play, well, you just aren't a basketball fan.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Jeff: Garnett Trade Rumors a Reality

Have you heard the latest trade rumor involving Kevin Garnett? Garnett, Paul Bunyan and 1,000 of the state's 10,000 lakes to Chicago for Lake Michigan, the Sears Tower, a washed-up Scottie Pippen and Bill Wennington's beard. Or wait was it to New York for the Statue of Liberty, Stephon Marbury, and half of Staten Island (apparently Isiah said he'd even throw in the defunct CBA)? Or maybe to Boston for a Hah-vahd Smaht Kid, Curt Schilling's ego, Skyler's phone numbah (how ya like them apples?) and Wally World?

You get the idea. Since reports surfaced last week that the Wolves are indeed listening to offers for KG, it seems just about every team in the league has been rumored to be involved in a KG blockbuster. First it was Boston for Al Jefferson, contract fodder, and the #5. Then it's to Phoenix for Shawn Marion, or wait maybe Amare Stoudamire? My favorite was from the biggest rumor monger out there, the Chicago Tribune's Sam Smith who claims to know about a 3 way trade between the Wolves, Celtics, and Suns in which the Suns get KG, the C's get Marion, and the Wolves get the #5 from Boston and Theo Ratliff's cap fodder, and #24 & 29 this year, Atlanta's unprotected #1 next year AND Kurt Thomas' expiring contract from Phoenix. OOFTAH!

Anyway, back in reality, it's been confirmed that your Minnesota Timberwolves and the LA Lakers are really truly seriously talking about getting Wolves star Kevin Garnett into purple and gold along side Kobe Bryant. Sources say that indeed Wolves owner Glen Taylor and Lakers owner Jerry Buss spoke on the phone about a deal, and that it's still in the preliminary stages. They first talked about a 4 team that had KG to the Lakers (duh), Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum to the Indiana Pacers, C Jermaine O'Neal to the Celtics, and the #5, #19, Gerald Green and salary cap relief coming to Target Center. 3 guesses who pulled out of these talks?

Yup, not Minnesota, who clearly gets hosed here, but Boston. Of course. That trade made sense for everybody- well except MInnesota, which in itself makes sense. Really, if the Wolves do indeed trade KG and don't get completely ripped off it'd be the biggest upset since the Miracle on Ice.

Rumor also has it that earlier this morning McHale tried to give KG, Ricky Davis and 3 #1's to Barney the Baitshop guy in Hibbing for some fishing tackle, some jerky and a case of PBR. That's when Barney mentioned he'd heard on the radio about the trade talks and that maybe McHale should call down to the Cities to see what's going on. Maybe that's true and maybe it's not, but we do know that the Big Ugly Sweater is not satisfied with the Lakers current offer of Odom, Bynum (who, if he'd gone to UConn for 2 years, would be a top 5 pick in this draft), Kwame Brown's expiring contract and the #19. Apparently McHale's not satisfied with that deal from the Lakers, even though it's better than what he would have gotten in the 4 team deal. Is it because he's not the ones giving up picks or expiring contracts? Does he have a phobia about acquiring these things? Or is it because the Lakers won't take Mark Madsen back? Seriously, who's going to be waving a towel on the Lakers bench and giving awkward chest bumps and high fives to KG and Kobe next year? Can't the Maddog have his fun?

This is probably all much ado about nothing but it's the sllooooooowwwwwwweeeeessssttttt time of the year for sports. It also makes me wonder: does this trade make the Lakers title contenders? They'd have KG, Kobe and...Luke Walton? Brian Shaw? Is Rick Fox's jericurl making a comeback? Kurt Rambis goggles? Seriously it's a 2 man team that in my books isn't quite as good as San Antonio, Phoenix or Dallas. But hey it'd be fun.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Jeremy: Hit or Miss

* Indiana head football coach Terry Hoeppner died from complications of the brain tumor he has been battling. Hoeppner was trying, and beginning to succeed, with positivity and a winning attitude, at reviving the Indiana football program.
I don't know much about Hoeppner, but I remember signing day in 2006, when Hoeppner was excited about his incoming recruiting class and was beaming about the prospects, meanwhile, Glen Mason was playing the "we can't get the blue-chippers from the big boys" card. Ever since then I knew Hoeppner had a chance at Indiana. It's too bad to see a positive force like him go.

* Just in case you missed it, Johan Santana was up to his old tricks last night. JoJo threw a complete game, 4-hit shutout against the Mets in Shea Stadium. And, oh by the way, Johan also had a double at the plate. Who says pitchers can't hit?
He was 6-6 going into the game. Here's what's interesting to me: when Santana has an off night, he's still one of the best pitchers in the game, but he never gets ANY run support on those nights. But when he's light's out, like last night, he gets 9 runs. I think Gardie is a damn good manager, but he needs to figure out this batting order and figure it out soon. The team is just not consistent at the plate right now.

* Trade rumors are beginning to swirl again about KG, and this time the league is confirming that talks are taking place. I've gone back and forth on the KG matter, as has been well chronicled on Midwest Sports Rubes. Of course I'm a Minnesota guy, but I've been a Garnett fan pretty much as long as I've been a T'Wolves fan, and clearly KG has taken care of his business as a ball player much better than the Wolves have as a team. I will always be a fan of KG, no matter where he plays, and no matter how hard that will be. And I will certainly be skeptical of ANY moves the Wolves make this off-season, whether they involve KG or not, since history shows that is the appropriate reaction.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Jeremy: So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, goodbye

Trent Green ended up in Miami. It's safe to say that, outside of Daunte Culpepper, everybody saw it coming. But Daunte is not having it.
"They would like to trade me in order to 'get something for me. However, it is my position that I have already been down that road and I am not interested in being traded."
To Daunte, you get the same response that I gave Jason Giambi when he said that MLB owed the fans an apology for the steroids mess... good luck with that.
Miami is clearly spending it's off-season addressing the offensive side of the ball, and they have been busy at the quarterback position. In addition to signing Green they re-signed their backup quarterback and drafted another. Like I said to Daunte, good luck!
Is it possible that you just can't win with Daunte? Is it possible that he is the Stephon Marbury of the NFL? Puts up massive numbers when he's healthy, but his team just does not benefit from him? Is it possible that the career of the man that was once called the ultimate quarterback will never take off and sustain like it looked like it would? Remember when we talked about Daunte in the same breath with Peyton Manning and Tom Brady? Remember the "if it weren't for Peyton Manning he would have been MVP" talk?
Poor Daunte. Maybe he should look into dog fighting.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Jeff: Hello Summer!

Well summer is officially upon us (ok not “officially” but who waits till the 21st of June to declare summer? Exactly). Here in the Great White North the igloos are melting, the sled dogs are shedding their winter coats, the women of the village are weaving that dog hair into toques and moccasins they can sell at the market, and the caribou are migrating south for the summer. All in all a wonderful time of year. What gets me excited about summer in the world of sports? Glad you asked:
For the first time since 2001 the Mariners haven’t been eliminated from playoff contention by April 1st, May 1st, or even June 1st. Amazing but true! Thanks to a weak division, smoke, mirrors, and a whole lotta horseshoes, somehow a poorly constructed, overpaid team is only 4.5 out in the division race, and just one behind Detwah in the ever popular Loss column in the Wild Card chase. The probabilities of the Mariners to sustain this success isn’t high, but hey, I’ll take it!
As for the Little Engine That Could, they’ve won 4 in a row and 7 of their last 10 to pull within 6 games of The Tribe in the Central, and 3.5 of the aforementioned Tigres (who have conversely lost 7 of their last 10) in the Wild Card. The big lumberjack himself Justin Morneau is leading the charge with a torrid last couple of weeks, and the Twins are doing all of this with Santana’s usual slow start and an unhealthy Mr. Sideburns. Imagine when those 2 get going? Should be a very entertaining summer in the Central.

At some point this summer, if I get around to it, I’ll share my belief on why parity is bad for sports. Sports needs Goliaths (yes even the NFL), and nobody does Goliaths better than the New York Yankees. As you’re probably already sick of hearing, it’s June 1st and the Bombers are in last place in the division and an insurmountable 13.5 behind the Red Sox in the East. Sure they’re only 7.5 behind Detwah for the Wild Card, but can the almighty Yanks really turn it around? I, like many others, would LOVE to see them go down in flames, and it just may happen. Not only would it be great to see the Yanks suck, it would lead to 3 more things Yankee Haters should love:
1) the Yankees firing manager Joe Torre. In my opinion he’s still the best manager in baseball. You’re telling me anybody else could have gotten more out of this team than him? Somebody else could handle the media pressure better? Somebody else could manage the egos better? I don’t think so. Anybody else managing in New York makes the Yankees worse, not better.
2) Firing GM Brian Cashman. He’ll be the fall guy for this, when really this is more about owner George Steinbrenner. Since Cashman has been given more control over player personel moves the last couple of years, he's sought to rebuild the farm system which was depleted completely because of George's “Win at all costs!” demands. Sports franchises are starting to figure out you build good teams through the draft, not free agency. When the All-Powerful Yankees go to this strategy, that should be a big wakeup call to everybody else. Yankee fans believe their entitled to having the best team every year, but I just don’t think that’s possible anymore. Cashman is doing what’s best for the Yankees in the long term, but because it’s still always “Win at all Costs” in New York he’s going to get fired for it. That's not good for the Yanks either.

I’ve found 2 things where the Rocket is underrated: people’s perception of him as a steroid user (again why do we hear little to nothing about Clemens’ curious late-career resurgence?), and people’s perception at the size of his ego. When you hear people discuss egos in sports, they usually talk about Terrell Owens or Barry Bonds. Why not Clemens? He thinks so much of himself that he decides to only play half the season, and then doesn’t spend off days with the team. He shows up for his starts and spends the rest of his time at home. Wouldn’t that be nice? Then to top it off, his signing with the Yankees is announced at Yankee stadium by him stepping out of the Owners Box to wave to the fans, like Caesar of freaking Rome?!?! Wow. How does this not get more play as Roger being an egomaniacal A-hole?

ANYWAY, Clemens signed with the Yankees not just because they gave him ridiculous money, but because it would further enhance his image and ego by saving the Yankee season. Well guess what? Besides the fact that Clemens has been pitching in the inferior NL the last few years, and that he’s at best now a 6 inning pitcher, no one player can save the Yankees. Clemens went to New York to cement his legacy and retire a legend by saving the Yankee season. So what happens if the Yankees continue to flounder and Clemens gets lit up? Wouldn’t that be the ultimate egg-on-your-face exit? As much as I would LOVE to see this happen, there’s just no way Clemens allows himself to be humiliated like that. So I’m excited to see what excuse he comes up with to get out of it. I don’t see anyway he could ask to be traded, so he’s going to have to invent an injury. To me it’s not a question of IF he does this, but when and how it happens. What a snake.

Nobody loves NBA rumors more than me (well except maybe for Joel) so if there’s one thing all the Kobe hoopla has guaranteed us this summer, it’s that the Lakers will make a blockbuster trade. YES! They have to! And considering Dallas CANNOT return this fall with the same lineup that got humiliated by Dallas, and that Phoenix’s current cast has gone as far as they can, that should mean more big deals are in order right? RIGHT? Throw in that both Portland and Seattle should make trades to accommodate their new stars, and that Utah needs to deal AK47 for a perimeter scorer (Does a sign-and-trade with Seattle for Rashard Lewis just make too much sense to happen? Probably does), there SHOULD be a flurry of moves this summer.

I’m just not a hockey fan anymore if the Canucks aren’t involved. I really haven’t watched a game since the Nucks got knocked out in round 2. And you know what? I don’t think I’ve missed much. We’re back to pre-lockout hockey with 1-0 games, no speed, no flash, no excitement.(and for anybody reading this who’s not from Canada, you’re probably shocked to know the NHL still exists), The NHL has failed in the US and the sooner they admit that the better. Considering Gary Bettman won’t be retiring anytime soon, the league will fade further and further of the American sports radar as Bettman refuses to admit he’s wrong and make some necessary drastic changes.
Poor Canada. Their passion and their livelihood, the sport that matters above all else sucks right now and they know it: and yet they’re still compelled to follow it. As bad as the sport is, it’s never been more popular here (the Leafs, Canadiens and Canucks are 3 of the most expensive tickets to get in North American sports right now, the CBC paid about $100 million for broadcasting rights, and one of the sports networks up here just paid $250 million just for rights to Leaf games!!! And before you go making the "Canadian money is worthless" jokes, I'd like to point out the Loonie is worth .93 cents US right now), and yet the league has never neglected Canadian fans more. It’s really sad.
Now I’m not necessarily excited, but definitely interested to see if the “sports” radio station here in town is capable of talking about anything other than hockey. It’s all hockey all the time here. Different hosts, same guests, same hockey talk. All the time. Every day. When the season mercifully ends will the 24/7 hockey talk stop? I doubt it but we’ll see.

I try not to think of this one too much because I don’t want to jinx it. We have Adrian Peterson. The best running back in college last year. The best collegiate back in a long, long time. A potential elite player in the NFL for a long long time. And he’s a Viking. Seriously. I still can’t believe it.