Monday, May 24, 2010
-What would be so wrong with the sports world collectively deciding that we aren't going to mention LeBron James name until the beginning of free agency on July 1st? What is there to possibly say before then? I could really do without such "breaking news" as Obama Thinks LeBron Good Fit with Bulls or the equally fascinating Clippers Fans Launch Website to Lure LeBron. These are not stories. Besides, what's the big deal with this guy anyway? He's a 7-year veteran still lacking a ring and a consistent outside J. Give me a break. I liked LeBron a lot better the first time...when he was called Johnny Newman.
-I know it has become every Detroit sports fan's favorite cliché this summer, but when it's true, you can't help but echo the sentiment: "The Tigers will not go anywhere this season unless they start getting something from the bottom half of the order." It's been a weakness of the club for a while now, but this year, it has become especially helpless. Brandon Inge is rapidly approaching the Mendoza line with his .217 mark, and is yet to register a multi-hit game in the month of May. Gerald Laird is hitting .155 with no power, and has managed to be especially putrid on the road, registering a .106 BA with exactly zero RBIs. Adam Everett is also struggling mightily and is still looking for his first game of the year with more than one hit. You can get all the production you want from Cabrera, Maggs, and those guys, but with these mooks occupying the bottom part of the order, there is no realistic chance for this team to do anything of note this season. And sadly, it's hard to anticipate these numbers changing to any great degree in the near future.
-Caught MacGruber with my buddy BK over the weekend. Not the best flick ever, but certainly not the worst, either. If you're looking for a few smiles and to see Val Kilmer quietly tipping the scales at almost three bills, then fork over your $5 and you'll walk out a happy man.
-Absolutely brutal cut over the left eye of Israel Vazquez on Saturday night. Fighting Rafael Marquez for the 4th (and hopefully final) time, Vazquez took quite a bit of punishment in just three short rounds, and the fight was ultimately stopped due to the fact that you could basically see homeboy's brain through that hideous gash. The first three fights were epic, but there was really no reason for this last one. Vazquez had been having so much trouble with the skin over his eyes coming in to the bout that he'd been sparring with a mask over his face. Not just headgear...a mask, too. You'd think that would have maybe told Vazquez that it was time to hang it up, but boxers have never been great at putting their long-term health ahead of their short-term finances.
-Good to see the Suns making things interesting out West to at least add some intrigue to the dueling Conference Finals. Seeing as how Rashard Lewis and his crew never bothered showing up against Boston, we can only hope Steve Nash and the boys make it all square in Game 4, giving a little dose of excitement to an NBA Playoffs that has been loaded with series sweeps and 30-point blowouts. The switch to a zone on Sunday night by Alvin Gentry was a series-altering move. It frustrated the Lakers into several key turnovers (17 total) and invited them to hoist a whopping 32 threes, making just 9. Now, it still took career performances from both Amare Stoudemire and Robin Lopez to secure the W, so hoping for an eventual Suns series victory seems unlikely. But at least they delivered some drama and a couple of compelling story lines to a postseason that up until now has been depressingly vanilla.
-What in the world has gotten into Carlos Silva? The journeyman right hander improved his record to a sparkling 6-0 on Sunday, giving the Cubbies a much-needed and highly unexpected ace at the back of the rotation. Silva had basically pitched himself out of the big leagues the last couple years in Seattle, going 5 and 18 with a frighteningly high ERA that you don't talk about at parties. The Cubs acquired him over the winter, if for no other reason, than to just rid themselves of the clubhouse virus known as Milton Bradley. There were no expectations for Silva coming into the season. My, how things have changed after just a couple months. Silva has shed a few lbs from that 250-pound frame, his sinker is finally sinking again, and the 31-year-old afterthought is now one of the favorites for the NL Cy Young. If you close your eyes and let yourself go a little bit, you can almost picture the big fella straddling the mound at Wrigley in late October, throwing the first pitch in the 2010 World Series. (Ok, you might have to close your eyes really hard for that one.)
-I'm having a pretty tough dilemma a couple weeks into this summer's softball season. Last year, I played primarily in shorts and a t-shirt, and paid the price in the process. After a number of ill-advised hook slides into 2nd and dives across the infield, I worked up a pretty nice collection of scars and bruises on the body. So this year, I've decided to play it safe and go long pants-long shirt, protecting my skin from the treacherous Drake Park infield. The only thing is, it can get prittttay, pritttttttay hot out there at 1:00 on a Sunday afternoon. My legs are now protected, but the rest of my body feels like it's overheating like one of those motorcycles on Excitebike when you would push the engine too hard and the guy would just crumple off to the side, needing 3-4 seconds to recover and cool down while the other drivers sped past. I guess I could just wear shorts and refrain from sliding completely, but that seems unlikely. As the great Richie Kotzen said in the song Tobacco Road, "It's the only way I've ever known." Lastly, in a related story, I probably take recreational softball leagues a little too seriously, and without realizing it, have become a true "Softball Guy." I'm not proud of myself...
This article is devoted to the great Jose Lima, a Tigers mainstay from the mid-90s and early-2000s, and one of the more memorable characters in the majors over that time. His 21 victories pushed the Astros into the playoffs in 1999, but it was partnership with similarly-named Felipe Lira at the top of the apocalyptic Tiger rotation in 1995 that will always stick with me. We'll miss ya, Jose.
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