May 7, 2007

Rocket Strikes Oil In New York

By now everyone knows that The Rocket, Roger Clemens is back with the New York Yankees. 

"Welcome home!" radio cheerleader Suzan Waldman exclaimed, even though Clemens has only spent five of his 22 year career in pinstripes. Is that woman ever going to get a clue? 

The Yankees have signed Clemens to a one-year 28 million dollar contract. I'm sorry, $28,000,022. I short changed him $22. The extra $22 represents his playing number. Isn't that cute?

Clemens, who is coming off of a 7-6 year with a 2.30 ERA in AAAA Baseball (National League), is joining a team that is off to a terrible start. With tonight's loss, they are now a full six games out of first place. 

This is an obvious panic move by the Skanks. Torre and Cashman are feeling the pressure (as they should), and with Kei Igawa's recent meltdown and Pavono once again going under the knife, the Yankee hierarchy had to do something. They had to do something dramatic. Something to distract the ancient owner. Something to distract the overbearing media. A little smoke and mirrors to fool loser Yankee fans. Hence, $28 mil for a 45-year-old gun for hire. Who by the way, has the freedom to come and go as he pleases on his off days. Something Joe Torre has always said would never happen.

I doubt that this move is going to make much of a difference. Sure, Clemens is a great pitcher. Personally, I think he's the greatest pitcher of all time. But, it's too little too late for the Skanks. It's going to be hard to pick up six games on the Sox mostly because this Yankee team isn't that good. They still aren't getting timely hits. The bullpen is a disaster and completely over worked (thanks Joe!), and Mo just isn't Mo anymore.

It will be fun watching Clemens back in pinstripes, and I do love watching the guy pitch. I just hope this really is the end for him. It would be nice to see Torre, Pettitte, Arod, Mo, Cashman, Pavono and Bernie go away with him.

 

April 29, 2007

Repeat Turns To Defeat

It's over.

The Champs have fallen.

The Miami Heat's season is over.

Last year's NBA Champs have been swept by the Chicago Bulls. The team that gave Miami the most trouble in the playoffs last year, and the team that blew the doors off the Heat in the first game of the season, is the same team that dominated the Heat from the beginning of Game 1 until the last second of Game 4. 

Somehow I knew I would be writing this blog two weeks ago when the Bulls lost to the Nets and became the Heat's first round opponent. With a dinged up D-Wade, old Shaq and no back-up point guard, I knew the Heat had no chance. 

Miami's downfall would be turnovers, free throw shooting and the inability to find the right starting lineup to match up with the steady Bulls. 

Turnovers: You can thank Wade and Shaq. 37 in four games between the two of them.

Free throws: Once again, Wade and Shaq, you can throw Zo into the mix too. I'm not going to figure it out for all the games, but in Game 3 the Heat were 16-35, and in Game 4, Shaq was 0-7.

Starting lineup: Riley. Four games, four different lineups.  

The Bulls are a solid team. They out husseled Miami, and killed them on the boards. They played great defense, and made shots when they needed to.

Still, Miami should have won this series just like they did last year. The problem for the Heat this year was they relied on D-Wade and Shaq too much.  Jwil, Haslem and Posey/Kapono/Jones were completely removed the offense. When they did get shot opportunities, they were bailing out Wade or Shaq with the shot clock winding down. Riley rarely ran plays for Haslem, and ran even less for Jwil. Forcing the ball to Shaq and having Wade handle the ball instead of Jwil or even Payton, lead to all of those turnovers. Riley should have limited Wade's ball handling, especially if he's still hurt. Instead, he increased it. Not smart.

The free throw shooting was a joke for Miami. Shaq says he makes them when they count. Please. He never makes them, and last time I checked, THEY ALL COUNT! Wade got into the act in Game 3 by shooting only 40% from the line. There are no excuses for a team to be this bad from the line, especially from the two "superstars" on the team.  

Riley takes a hit for the way he coached the Heat into this playoff disaster. He had Miami playing tight from the beginning of Game 1. The Heat had a lot of pressure on them coming into the series, and I doubt Riley did anything to eliviate any of that pressure. He probably added to it. Switching the lineup every game didn't help. Guys don't know their roll when the starting lineup represents a carousel, players start pressing and can't make a shot. 

I really don't know yet how I feel about this season. It's still too early. Obviously, I'm disappointed. Injuries played a big part in this year's quick ending, but I'm not sure how much different things would have turned out. I do think Miami's season does prove one thing, you can't sleepwalk through the regular season, and then just turn it on in the playoffs. That definitely hurt them in the end.

The Miami Heat getting knocked out in the first round this year, once again makes me realize just how difficult repeating is in professional sports. It takes such a special team to win a championship, doing it two or more years in a row is close to impossible. 


April 22, 2007

Heat Refuse To Make Adjustments And Lose Game 1

I'm still pretty pissed about this game, and it's a day later. Normally, I get over games the minute they end. I don't live and die with my teams like some fans do. I have more important things going on in my life than to worry about what happened in some stupid game played by million dollar athletes. There have only been two sporting events that have prevented me from sleeping; Roy Jones Jr. getting knocked out in the second round by Antonio Tarver, and Game 1 of Memphis Grizzlies vs. San Antonio Spurs 2004 playoff series. Yeah, I'm sure that one kept you guys up too....

I didn't have a problem falling asleep last night, but after the game I was pretty upset. It's very annoying when you know more about a game than the head coach of the team you are rooting for. Yankee fans know what I'm talking about. Pat Riley blew that game yesterday when he convinced himself that the Heat couldn't win without Dwyane Wade and Shaq. Despite the fact that they actually played better without those two ballhogs.

Now don't get me wrong. I don't think the Heat are a better team with out their two superstars. I know they need them just as much as any team in the NBA needs its go-to guys. But yesterday, Shaq and Wade were turnover machines, and when they weren't turning the ball over they were picking up stupid fouls. Now Shaq and Wade will tell you that the Bulls had help from the officials, but seriously, how often have you seen Shaq try to take a charge, much less two in one game? Not smart.

Wade was no better. Riley has this idea that when Jwil is on the bench, Wade can play the point. The main reason for this is that Gary Payton has completely collapsed as a back-up point guard. Honestly, as bad as the Mitten is, he takes better care of the ball than Wade. D-Wade turned the ball over five times, constantly making bad decisions. Getting caught up in the air, making cross court passes, losing his dribble, it was frustrating. Meanwhile, Jwil had only one turnover, and it was on an alley-oop pass to Wade who couldn't get off the ground to get to it.

The turning point of this game was in the middle of the fourth quater when both Wade and Shaq went to the bench with five fouls each and the Heat down by 11. Finally, the Heat's other players were allowed to play together, and were not forced to get the ball to their two superstars. They rallyed and went on a 8-2 run, closing the gap and making it once again a game.

Once the "other" guys got the game close, Riley put Shaq and Wade back in the game. Almost immeditatly, Wade put up an aweful, forced shot, missed and the Bulls went down the court and scored. On the next Bulls possession, Shaq fouled out. The place went crazy, and the Heat's ship had sunk. Miami would get within three, but instead of drawing up a play for the three-point shooters on the team, like Jwil, Posey, Walker (yes, I said Walkler) or Jones, Riley gives the ball to Wade and asks him to jack up a three. It was a brick.

If the Heat want to have a chance in this series, they have to get the other players involved. I'm talking about the Jwil's, the Posey's, the Kapono's. Those guys. Stop force feeding Shaq. Stop giving Wade all the freedom in the world. And start playing like a team.

April 21, 2007

New York Has A New Choke Artist

Good news loser Yankee fans, New York has a new choke artist! Just when you thought you would have no one left to boo, Mariano Rivera has stepped up to the plate and has replaced the hated Arod.

I know how much this season has bothered you. I mean, public enemy number one is having one of the greatest beginnings to any season in baseball history. Two walkoff, game winning homeruns, a solid defensive effort at the hot corner and now two huge homeruns against the over-rated Red Sux. He is leading the world with homeruns, runs scored and RBI. It's tough to boo a guy who is winning games single-handedly.

Even Joe Torre has jumped on the Arod bandwagon calling his star player "scary". This is the same manager who had the balls to bat Alex eighth in a playoff game.

So now that everyone loves Arod because he's basically redefining the word "clutch", things would seem pretty rosey in Yankee Land. But just when you thought this was going to be a season to remember, your closer is offically spitting the bit. 

So far this year, Mariano Rivera has had two save opportunities. One against the A's, and one against the Red Sox. Both saves were blown. And not just blown, but busted. Against the A's Mariano gave up a game winning homerun to the light hitting Marco Scutaro. Last night he gave up a bunch of hits, including a triple to Coco Crisp. Mo's ERA is 8.44. His record is 1-2. His career is probably over.

Mariano blew through spring training fanning guys left and right, but since the regular season has started he has struggled with his location and his cutter (the only pitch he throws) has been straight as an arrrow.

It will be very interesting to see how he rebounds from this horrible beginning to the 2007 season. Personally, I don't know that he can. Sure there are streches every year where Mo isn't perfect, there have always been other distractions going on that takes the spotlight off of Mo's blown saves. Not anymore. Arod is mashing. Pavono is already hurt. Jeter isn't dating any movie stars. The focus will be on Mo and his lack of perfection. 

Mo should be blaming Joe Torre for last night's debacle. Torre panicked, and went to Mariano too early. Torre's go-to-guy can't handle more than one inning anymore, he's going to have to stop over using the bullpen. Knowing Torre's history, that won't happen and it's going to cost New York a championship and ultimately Torre's job.

So don't worry loser Yankee fans, there is still someone to hate. There is still someone to strip of all that has made them great. There is still an all-time great player to boo on a regular basis. He doesn't wear Number 13 anymore. For now, the last player to wear Number 42 will have to do. 

April 10, 2007

Heat Stink, Quit, Lose And Get Ready For Playoffs

The Miami Heat got blown out on the road tonight, forcing me to channel surf when they emptied the bench in the middle of the third quarter. They lost to the Charlotte Bobcats, 92-82.

How bad were the Heat? Walker lead them in scoring (17 points) and rebounds (9).

The Heat have completely quit on the season, and are just resting up for the playoffs. Tonight Shaq, Payton and Haslem sat out the game. It was Haslem's first game missed all season. He had been the only starter to play in every game this year.

Wade started in this one, but he was still rusty as hell. He had four turnovers. Between Jwil, Wade and Walker, they combined for 11 turnovers. Not really playoff type numbers. If the Heat are going to continue to play like this, I might stop covering the games until the playoffs start. I'm not here to waste time.

Tomorrow the Heat take on the Washington Wizards. It was supposed to be a big game, but Washington is playing terribly right now. They miss Agent Zero and fell to the Nets tonight. You know you're bad when you lose to the Nets. I can't wait for them to go to Brooklyn.

On a side note, James Posey got arrested Monday night and charged with a DUI. He claims he's innocent. Riley said he won't take any action against Posey until he finds out all the facts. I doubt that Riley will suspend Posey for any games during the playoffs, so it will be interesting to see what happens. Stay tuned.

The Shirtless Park Tanner Yacks Again!

That's right Yankee fans, your boy, Arod ripped another homerun in the first inning tonight against the Twins. That's three games in a row (I think), and number six on the season. It was a two-run blast that gave Andy Pettitte a lead before he even took the mound. Arod gave Pavano a similar lead yesterday, allowing Carl to take the mound with a safety blanket. It turned out he didn't need it.

I wonder how all of you loser Yankee fans feel about Arod now? Do you still hate him? Is he clutch yet? Does it not matter until he does it in October? November? What's it like to go to Yankee Stadium and pay $40+ for tickets, $15+ for parking, $7.50+ for a 12oz. beer (of course you probably drink six of those), $10+ for a chicken finger meal and then boo Arod?

And for what? Because he's not Jeter? You're right, losers. He's not Jeter.HE'S A HUNDRED TIMES BETTER THAN JETER!!!!!

What's that, losers? I'm crazy? I'm stupid? I must be a Mets fan? Actually your wrong. I'm just not in love with Mr. Jeter. I think Jeter is a good player, a clutch player, but he's no where near what Arod is. You loser NY fans can't see past your thick New York accents to realize that, but after Alex bats .320 with 55 Hr's and 140 RBI this year, signs a contract in the off season for about $180 mil. with the Marlins, you'll realize that you ruined the best thing that has ever happened to you. 

Then you can go around saying that Arod was all about the money. Like if someone offered you $180 million, you would decline, and stay with your $75 million, three-year contract, only to stay in a market where everyone hates you, no matter how many MVP's you win.

Wake up, losers. And when Arod comes to the plate, cheer for the guy. You can boo him next year when he's playing shortstop for another team. 

April 8, 2007

Wade Comes Back, But Heat Fall In OT, 111-103

Dwyane Wade returned from his shoulder injury, but he tried to do too much against the Bobcats and it wound up costing Miami the victory.

I only caught the second half of this game, so I wasn't as into it as I usually am. It was Easter, after all.

Miami trailed at halftime, 57-47. Charlotte opened the third quarter with a quick 6-0 run, causing the Heat to call a time out after 1:20 into the quarter. Miami got their act together, and after a Posey three, the lead was back to ten.

Things stayed that way for much of the third and fourth quarters. In the fourth, the line up of Wade, Payton, Kapono, Mourning and Walker got the Heat back in the game. With four minutes to play, they tied the score.

The Bobcats didn't run away and hide. They sacked up, and took whatever the Heat could give them. They played tough, and with less than three seconds left in the game, Gerald Wallace put his head down and drove to the rim. He forced up a shot that didn't count because time had expired. The two teams went into overtime.

In overtime, the Heat ran everything through D-Wade. Wade was tired by now, but had his confidence back that he lacked in the first couple of quarters. He hit a couple of jumpers, but also took some bad, forced shots. He was also horrible from the line, going 6-12. He finished with 12 points, eight assists and six turnovers.

The Heat were done in by some guy named  Walter Herrmann. Who? Exactly. This guy drained three, three's in OT. I think they were in a row, too.

That was all she wrote for the Heat. Hopefully they'll get payback on Tuesday night when they play the Bobcats again in Charlotte.

April 5, 2007

Um, When Is D-Wade Coming Back?

Because in games like these, the Heat really need him.

I'm writing this as the Heat and Cavs play into overtime, and despite whatever the outcome is the Heat miss Dwyane Wade bigtime in games against good teams. They miss his ability to take the final shot, and his knack for getting to the line. 

Miami squeaked out a win 94-90, and that's what matters, but once again they gave up their lead late and allowed Cleveland back into the game, then they were able to force overtime. Good defense, by of all people Jason Williams, and clutch free throw shooting, also by Jwil, gave Miami the win.

Williams had a horrible game. If it wasn't for his steal of a LeBron James pass late in OT, and his shots from the line, he wouldn't have even been mentioned in this blog entry. He was 1-8, for five points and only three assists. Pretty weak.

The real star for Miami was Number 8! That's right, Antoine Walker! This guy comes into the game shooting 26% from three. Horrible. So what does he do? He goes 6-8 from behind the arc, and finishes with 20 points and six rebounds. Gary Payton, the Mitten, also had a solid game. Four points, four rebounds and eight dimes in only 21 minutes. Overall, Miami's bench came up huge, and really helped the Heat keep their lead throughout the game.

The Cleveland Cavs came out dragging verses Miami and found themselves in the hole early. Shaq dominated the first half, quickly getting the Cleveland bigs in foul trouble.  Miami controlled the tempo for most of the game, but in the fourth quarter, LeBron made some big shots and big passes. He finished with 35 points, nine rebounds and five assists. Impressive, but not enough for the win. 

Don't blame Drew Gooden for the loss. It wasn't his fault. That guy is a monster. He was good for 14 points and 14 rebounds. Good thing Memphis traded him a couple of years ago. Someone should check Jerry West's pulse.

Miami is now a game and a half in front of Washington in the Southeast Division, and with Agent Zero going down with a knee injury, I don't see that lead getting any smaller. The Heat are currently the number four seed, a game behind the Raptors. The next couple of games are on the road, including tomorrow night's trap game against the Celtics. Hopefully, Miami can side step that landmine, and continue to prepare for the playoffs.

April 3, 2007

Pocket Fulla Puts Toronto On Ice

It was a big game, a "must win" according to Heat coach Pat Riley, and the Miami Heat held off the Toronto Raptors for a 92-89 victory. With the victory and Washington loss (122-102 to the Bobcats), Miami is now in first place and owns the tie breaker against the Raptors. So if the Raptors finish with the same record as the Heat, the Heat will get the higher seeding. This could be huge because chances are the Heat will be playing for the third seed, and if they lost tonight they would have wound up playing on the road in the first round of the playoffs, and possibly a second round match up with the Detroit Pistons. That still might happen, but hopefully the Heat can win enough games to stay right where they are.

Heat fans can thank James Pocket Fulla' Posey for this victory. The guy only had six points (four from the charity stripe), but his 13 rebounds were huge and his free throws were clutch. He sealed the game for Miami.

The Heat came out like gangbusters and nailed nine of their first ten shots, but weak defense kept the Raptors right on their heals. Jwil was hot, slicing and dicing his way to the rim for easy baskets and hitting a couple of early 3's.  He had 12 at halftime, but for the second straight game stopped shooting the ball in the second half. He only had two points in the second half.

The Raptors were cleaning up on the glass all game, but really turned it on in the second half. Chris Bosh and Rasho Nesterovic had 20 rebounds between them and eight of them were offensive. Toronto started getting Shaq involved in pick-and-rolls and it was killing Miami. With Shaq out trying to guard T.J. Ford the Raptor's bigs were able to roam free under the rim for short jumpers and lay ins. It's nice to know that after being in the league 100 years, Shaq still doesn't know how to defend the pick-and-roll.

Toronto got close in the final minutes of the game, but the Heat and Posey held them off. Both teams had several oppertunities to give themselves some breathing room, but were unable to get a shot or in Miami's case, get a shot attempt. They turned the ball over a ton of times.

Thank God for Posey. Good thing Memphis traded him and Jwil for Eddie Jones two year ago. Now that Jones is on Miami, after Memphis bought out the final year of his contract, that trade makes even more sense. 

 

 

 

April 1, 2007

Riley Costs Miami A Win

Pat Riley wasted Jwil's 20+ point effort, and cost Miami a victory today in Detroit where they lost 94-88. There aren't many games you can blame a coach on during the season (unless we are talking Yankee baseball), but this one is squarely on Slick's head.

The Heat led most of the way in this one. In the first half, Miami was killing the Pistons on boards and in the paint. Their defense was stout, too. They held the Pistons to 13 points in the first quarter. The starters for Miami opened up a ten point lead in the second quarter, but the reserves came in and Pistons went on a 16 to 2 run to close the gap. You can thank Gary Payton and Antoine Walker for that. By halftime, Miami had a 46-41 advantage.

Jason Williams and Shaq both had 13 points for the Heat at the half. Jwil was having his way for the second straight game against Chauncey Billups. He was blowing by the Detroit guard at will, and finishing at the rim. Jwil was dominating Billups so badly that they switched him off Williams and had Rip Hamilton guard him. At the other end of the court, Williams was playing solid D on Billups.  Mr. Big Shot finished with 17 points, five rebounds and three turnovers.  Jwil finished with 21 points on 7 for 9 shooting and three assists.

As the game went on, the game got closer. Late in fourth quarter, the Pistons tied the game and then took the lead thanks to some Miami turnovers because Payton, Walker, Posey and Jones can't handle a full-court press.

Why wasn't Jwil bringing the ball up the court, you ask. Ask Riley.

For some reason, Jwil was sitting on the bench. After the second turnover, Slick put Jwil back in the game, where he was quickly pressured and turned the ball over on a questionable offensive foul call.

The three TO's weren't pretty, and cost the Heat the lead and probably the win, but the game wasn't over yet. The Heat kept it close, but wasted too many possessions dumping the ball down to Shaq. Meanwhile, Jwil didn't attempt a shot.

Questionable play calling? Wait to you hear this.

With the Heat down four with 30+ seconds left, the Heat call a timeout so that Riley can draw up a play. The Heat didn't need a three, a quick two would have been fine. The Heat come out of the timeout and the play that Pat Riley calls is for WALKER!! Are you kidding me? Walker gets the ball, fakes a three, than jacks one up. It's a horrible shot that's not even close. The long rebound finds Walker again. He tries to jack up another tippy-toe-three, but steps out of bounds, resulting in a turnover. With the Heat down six, and about six seconds left in the game Walker was able to turn the ball over one more time. 

Game over. 

March 30, 2007

Back On Top

The Miami Heat are back in first place in the Southwest division thanks to a clutch win in Minnesota, and a choke job in Washington.

The Heat played a focused game against the fading Timberwolves, and came away with a 92-77 victory. Miami was in desperate need of a road win that didn't take place in Atlanta, and the Wolves were happy to provide one.

Defense and fast break baskets were what enabled the Heat to lead in this one almost the entire way. The Heat players combined for eight steals (Posey, Jones and Williams all had two). Every steal seemed to lead to a Posey layup and Jwil assist. Shaq was very active on the defensive end of the floor. He altered several shots and had two blocks on the night. It's nice to see the Big Man move his size 22's on D, and not be afraid to pick up a foul. Too many times in recent games O'Neal has been careful on defense, and it has lead to easy baskets for the other team.

All five starters for Miami finished with double figures. Udonis Haslem lead the team with 19 points and 14 rebounds. Jwil also finished with a double-double, 15 points, 10 assists and 6 rebounds. He had four turnovers, but to his defense none of them were his fault. They all should have been assists.  

The Heat are now in first place by half of a game because of the 123-118 loss by the Wizards to the Raptors. This was a game the Wiz had in the bag, but with four seconds left, Mo Peterson nailed a 30+ footer to tie the game at the buzzer forcing overtime where the Wiz caved. 

Sunday at noon, Pistons vs. Heat on national television. Pretty much a must win for the Heat, who really need to win every game from here on in to ensure a home court advantage in the playoffs. The Pistons are coming off of a close game against the Nets where they squeeked out a win 110-105. The last time the Pistons and Heat met Miami came away with a home victory. Detroit chose to cover Shaq one-on-one and got burned because of it. It will be interesting to see if they use the same tactic.

My prediction, Heat in a blow out, 100-75.