Monday, May 18, 2009

NBA: Where Mid-Afternoon Naps Happen

Last weekend looked like it might wind up being one of the better sports-weekends of the year, but it wound up being about as lacking-in-punch as the Mets' make-shift lineup on Sunday Night Baseball.

Both Game 7's (or Games 7 ?) in the NBA were over by the end of the first quarter, with Orlando and Los Angeles both leading by 10 after 12 minutes. Neither result was much of surprise, although the Magic putting Boston out of their misery was technically an upset. I am up to about 10-15 minutes of total playoff game-time watched this season, but the Lakers-Nuggets series may push me well past the 30 minute mark. It was good that the NBA schedules that extra rest day on Saturday so we could really get all wound up to watch the Rockets and Celtics take their dumps on Sunday though. God forbid they play two games in three days at the end of a series. Imagine if the Nuggets and Magic play in the Finals. I said it before, but honestly, put a suicide watch on David Stern.

The Red Wings crushed the Black Hawks in their Western Conference Final Game 1 on Sunday, with the Khabibulin Wall busting wide open in the third period (Detroit scored twice in 1:29 to ice it, and then added a empty-netter late). So that series is over.

Calvin Borel is single-handedly trying to ruin the sport of horse racing this spring. Two weeks ago, he ostensibly destroyed the chance of a fan-winning Triple Crown chase by winning the Kentucky Derby aboard Mine That Bird, a 50-1 shot. Then rather than trying to defend the Triple Crown hopes at the Preakness on Saturday, he instead rode one of his other horses, Rachel Alexandra, and of course he won. So now, there is no hope of a Triple Crown, no chance that anyone will watch the Belmont Stakes on TV, and the dying sport will go another 50 weeks without being relevant again. They're trying to make me care that the Belmont is a showdown between the two winning horses, and that Rachel Alexandra is a great story because she's a she, but I say "baseball, NHL, NBA, golf, tennis" to both stories and I turn the channel.

Roger Federer climbed back on top of the tennis world for the weekend, finally beating Rafael Nadal on clay. Nadal hadn't lost on his favorite surface in 33 matches over the last two years. He had also put together a 5-match win streak against Federer. So perhaps the balance in this epic rivalry is not all completely tipped.

I don't like to blame the manager or coach too often in sports because it is an easy cop-out for fans to do so, especially considering that they make 100 good decisions a game, but we key in on the one bad one. But I am starting to question some of Jerry Manuel's moves with the Mets more and more. Trailing 2-0 on Sunday with one out in the eighth and the bases loaded, Manuel pulled starting left fielder Daniel Murphy in favor of pinch-hitter Angel Pagan, who of course hit into an inning-ending double play. There is no guarantee that Murphy would not have done so, nor that either wouldn't have hit a grand slam, but why pinch-hit for a regular player having a good year with the bat with a guy making only his second at-bat of the season after having elbow surgery? And if you were looking for a righty-lefty matchup, why not hit Jose Reyes, who is hitting .379 lefty pitchers, instead of Pagan?

The Mets did win three out of four on the road this weekend (stealing 137 bases in the wins and then attempting to steal one (1!) in the loss), and that makes me happy. Sadly it probably marked the death of the Giants comeback against the Dodgers however. Just when the Dodgers must have been feeling vulnerable and the Giants must have been feeling confident, the tide changed and the lead out West is back where it was when Manny left. The Mets are in L.A. this week (where they've been horrific since sweeping the Dodgers out of the playoffs three years ago) and could perhaps help the Giants now. I'll be at all three games...getting food thrown at me. But at least I'll get in shape walking all the way to my car (which will be outside the lot because there is no way in hell I am paying $15 extra just to get stabbed).

And finally, if you think baseball or cycling have it bad in terms of doping and steroids, consider this: When anti-doping officers showed up in the locker room just before the Belgian bodybuilding championships, all twenty competitors packed up their things and headed for the doors. And you thought the 90's-00's Yankees had a locker-room full of cheaters!

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