Archive for October, 2009

World Series Game 1- Those ex-Indians

The New York Yankees open up the World Series in the Bronx against the defending World Series champion Philadelphia Phillies. These two teams were majorly picked to be in the Series, and it has came to fruition. Major League Baseball is a winner, their premier team and the team that won it all a year ago are in the Fall Classic. The Steinbrenner Family are winners again, they made the moves to make this team better after missing the playoffs a year ago. The city of Philadelphia are winners, after waiting 25 years for a professional sports championship, they have a chance to enjoy back-to-back championships, a feat last accomplished by: The Yankees, and also they can be the first National League team to win back-to-back World Series since the 1975-1976 Cincinnati Reds.

But the major loser of the World Series? The Cleveland Indians.

Indians fans are either sick to their stomachs or rolling in their graves as the matchup of Game 1 starters, both former Cleveland Indian pitchers CC Sabathia and Cliff Lee. Sabathia won the AL Cy Young Award for best pitcher in 2007, and Lee won the following year, while playing for Cleveland. With the seasons these two had for their new teams, the fans have to wonder, where was this for their team? The Indians are victims of small-market baseball, as they sometimes can not afford to keep as many good players, like the Yankees, or Mets, or Red Sox, or Phillies. Not only are the Indians are victims of the free spending ways of MLB, but other teams like the Pittsburgh Pirates, Oakland Athletics, and the Kansas City Royals.

Out of all the teams, the Indians have had the best success, making it to the World Series in 1997, and as they go through another rebuilding process, it may be a long time before their team gets back to the World Series. If Mark Shapiro is the GM, the Tribe will not be heading back to the glory years of 1997, due to the fact that he deals every good player they have to another team.

In the meantime, the city of Cleveland can stick to the Cavaliers, or just wonder what could have been with Sabathia and Lee and if this would be their World Series as they watch the two aces oppose each other in Game 1.


New Year, New Coach, New Beginning

Last year, they were the worst team in the NHL’s Western Conference.

Through the end of the month of October, they are the Best in the West.

The Colorado Avalanche have played some extremely sound hockey in the opening month of the 2009-10 NHL season. They have a 9-1-2 record and have taken the overall points lead in the NHL after a 3-0 shutout win over the Edmonton Oilers last night. With new head coach Joe Sacco keeping the team focused, they started out with wins over last year’s President’s Trophy winner, the San Jose Sharks, and the Vancouver Canucks with one of the best goaltenders in the game in Roberto Luongo. With those two early wins, set the tone in the Avs locker room that they can beat and hang in with the best, which was apparently missing from the days of former head coach Tony Granato.

Some factors in the success of the Avalanche are the play of Wojtek Wolski, and Paul Stasny, who lead the team with 12 pts., Wolski has seven goals, and Stasny with eight assists. Another surprise contribution are the play of their first two draft picks, Matt Duchene (3rd overall pick) and Ryan O’Reilly (33rd overall pick), who have made positive impact, especially for two 18 year-old players. They are not Sidney Crosby type numbers, but they are helping the team win. The major factor has been in between the pipes, as Craig Anderson has been a wall for the month of October, with a 9-1-2 record, and a goals against average of 1.97 and with the Oilers’ victory, gave him his second shutout of the season. It is too early to talk Vezina Trophy for the best goaltender, but the great start will have to be consistent in the following months leading to the playoff races in April.

Can the Avalanche make it through the winter and stay at the top of the standings, or will they falter down the stretch. With the successes of all the other Denver franchises, it is good to see the Avalanche off to their best start since the 2000-01 season. That year, they won the Stanley Cup.

MNF Recap Week 7

Philadelphia 27, Washington 17- DeSean Jackson had a 67 yard touchdown run and a 57-yard touchdown reception, and the Philadelphia Eagles put up 27 first half points to overwhelm the Washington Redskins 27-17 at FedEx Field. Will Witherspoon had an interception by Jason Campbell returned for a touchdown and David Akers kicked two field goals to key the scoring for Philadelphia. Donovon McNabb went 15-25 for 156 yards, and had a touchdown for his 200th of his career and he surpassed 30,000 yards for his career. Campbell went 29-43 for 284 yards, with 2 TDs and a fumble to go along with the interception. The ‘Skins did not look too bad with Sherman Lewis calling the plays for Jim Zorn, but the road ahead for Washington does not get any easier. Eagles (4-2), Redskins (2-5)

Griffin Goes Down

It looks like the Clippers #1 draft pick curse has struck again.

Danny Manning, 1988 #1 pick, torn ACL

Michael Olowokandi, 1998 #1 pick, no comment

Blake Griffin, 2009 #1 pick, broken kneecap

This is just the hard luck you get when you go to the Los Angeles Clippers, at least with Danny Manning, he had some decent years in LA, and had a long NBA career. Olowokandi never lived up to the hype in a draft that included guys like Nowitzki, Pierce, Jamison, Bibby, Carter. Griffin is going to have a decent NBA career, but this is not the start he or the Clippers or anybody envisioned. Aside from his concussion last year at Oklahoma, he has been in great shape. It’s a tough break, especially since he was the best player available in the draft. We have seen that the Clippers learned to get the best player available, and they did. How they perform though in the next six weeks while Griffin heals his injury is going to remain to be seen.

Are the Clippers going to be a contender overnight? No, but to beat their cross-arena rivals on opening night would be a heck of a boost. The question is when Griffin gets back how quickly will he get into the offense, and will he be a starter or come off the bench? If the Clippers can weather the storm for the next six weeks, Blake will have more of an impact. Time will only tell, but one thing is definitely for sure:

The Clippers #1 pick curse has not changed. Typical Clippers.

30 Thoughts On the NBA Season pt. 2 (Western Conference)

In honor of the NBA returning, TSX will put thoughts on all 30 NBA teams and how they may fare this season. These thoughts are all rhetorical, so feel free to express your thoughts as well.

TSX will now take a look at the Western Conference:

Southwest Division

Dallas Mavericks:The Mavericks have all the tools, Kidd, Nowitzki, Howard, even added Shawn Marion into the fold along with Jason Terry. (can’t forget him) The problem is that this team never does what it takes to get them to the top. They can really get a huge player by trading Erick Dampier, who has $12M against the cap, and 2010-11 salary of $13M is NOT guaranteed. If Dallas can use this wisely, they could get a final piece to the puzzle to get them far in the playoffs

Houston Rockets: With Yao out for the season, and Ron Artest moving to Los Angeles to play for the Lakers, the Rockets shored up Artest’s defensive prowess by signing Trevor Ariza away from the Lakers. If Tracy McGrady can play a complete season, this team could be somewhat decent. However, without Yao Ming, this team is going to be looking at fourth place in the tough Southwest Division

Memphis Grizzlies: Look at this team on paper- nice mix of young guys and veteran players, you get a marquee name in Allen Iverson, a big man for the future in Hasheem Thabeet, two good wing scorers in Rudy Gay and O.J. Mayo, and a good tough guy in Marc Gasol. Reliable and consistent player in Zach Randolph. Look at this roster down the board, they have the tools to make a run. Realistically, this is not going to work. AI will want the ball to be the scorer, and he’s not gonna be happy sharing minutes with Mike Conley, Rudy Gay and Zach Randolph are both egomaniacs. They think about themselves. O.J. Mayo can shoot, but can’t drive unless he’s open for a dunk. Thabeet’s a rookie, all around, this looks like a major train wreck.

New Orleans Hornets: The Hornets get a huge addition with Emeka Okafor, but the main issue with the Hornets is their health. Injuries ravaged this team last season, and they were nowhere near the team that was dominating two years ago. Chris Paul should have another MVP season, and Okafor can possibly reach his potential that he never reached in Charlotte. The only downside is that so far Okafor has not really spent time with his new teammates, which he has really had all summer and all of training camp. That could hinder team chemistry, especially if he’s going to be a big part of the Hornets’ offense. If the Hornets can stay healthy and build chemistry with Okafor, things will be alright in the Crescent City.

San Antonio Spurs: This team is loaded again with veterans, and are still the resident “retirement home of the NBA”, but they do have some youth at power forward, with DeJuan Blair being picked from Pittsburgh. They added Richard Jefferson via trade, and these two key additions should take the load off of Tim Duncan. However, Duncan is the pulse of the Spurs, and if he’s healthy, he can go a long way. If he’s hurt, then the Spurs are in trouble.

Northwest Division

Denver Nuggets: The Nuggets went under a revival upon the arrival of Chauncey Billups where they ended up going to the Western Conference Finals, but Billups is wearing down. At the age of 33 and appearing in seven straight conference finals (going late in the season), his body is wearing down quick. Luckily the Nuggets picked Ty Lawson in the draft, and he will be one great backup to Billups with his explosiveness and quick first step. If Nene, Kenyon Martin, and Chris Andersen stay healthy and consistent, this team can repeat their success, they will have to find a way to get by the Lakers though.

Minnesota Timberwolves: The Timberwolves have been a mess since the trade of Kevin Garnett to Boston (well the downfall started in the final days of the McHale/Garnett era), the team went through its worst season, and now with a new general manager in David Kahn, and a new head coach in Kurt Rambis, the Wolves are looking to go on the upswing. Note that this team will not be contending anytime, soon, but if they want to spend the money, they can definitely do that. Will it land a big name in 2010? Most likely not, but they can have some kind of wheel and deal on trades for expiring contracts due to the enormous cap room they have. (Something they haven’t had in years). No Ricky Rubio for two years, but they have a young lineup. Al Jefferson, Kevin Love (when he gets back from his injury), Ryan Gomes, and Jonny Flynn, and Ramon Sessions. Do not expect anything from Minnesota, as they begin to look up after hitting rock bottom last year.

Oklahoma City Thunder: Loaded with talent, are these Oklahoma City Thunder, but don’t expect these guys to win the Northwest Division or even make the playoffs for that matters. Kevin Durant is the star of the team, and he will take the majority of the shots, but he does have a pretty solid scorer in James Harden, obtained in the NBA Draft. Harden will form a decent backcourt with Russell Westbrook, but aside from the front court, and Durant, there isn’t really a solid option at center, and Jeff Green is not a natural power forward. This, along with the fact that the team is still young, means that they won’t make any progress at least for this year. The good thing is that GM Sam Presti knows this and is still patient.

Portland Trail Blazers: Portland finally broke into the playoffs and they will go deeper. The core is in tact, and adding a dependable point guard in Andre Miller means that this team is even better. Brandon Roy, LaMarcus Aldridge, and even better play from Greg Oden means that this team will be even more dominating than a year ago. If there is one team that can knock the Lakers off in the West, it is definitely Portland. Do not sleep on them

Utah Jazz: This team can really turn it on, but when it was widely assumed that Carlos Boozer would leave Utah, he never opted out his contract, which showed that he did want to stay in Utah (or that there was nobody out there willing to pay his price tag). The good news is that this situation will only last a year, and then Boozer is gone, and the Knicks gave up their first round pick (unprotected, so if the Knicks won the lottery, it would go straight to Utah). If the Jazz can play defense and show more passion than last year, they can go far in the playoffs.

Pacific Division

Golden State Warriors: This team is a mess. Don Nelson does want to be there, Stephen Jackson doesn’t want to be there, Monta Ellis is not the same player since the moped incident. Stephen Curry will have to adjust to the speed of the Warriors; these guys play no defense, although they are very fun to watch, and the only defense they get is from Andris Biedrins and Ronny Turiaf. This organization is in a need of an overhaul, Cohen, Mullin and Nelson all need to go, and let someone who care about the organization change the culture and keep it consistent.

Los Angeles Clippers: With the news that Blake Griffin is down with a broken kneecap and is out for the next six weeks, but lets talk about this team pre-injury. The Clippers got the best player in the draft, and he has the comparative upside to a David Robinson. When The Admiral arrived in San Antonio in 1989, the Spurs were at their lowest point in franchise history, but they turned it around and in 10 years, they won a championship. Now, not saying the Clippers will win anything (as long as penny-pinching Donald Sterling is the owner), but the Clippers will be competitive. A huge plus was getting rid of Zach Randolph, who’s ego was a cancer to this team. With Davis and Eric Gordon in the backcourt, and a decent front court in Griffin, Camby, and Marcus Thornton, there can be enough shots to be distributed. The Clippers will improve, and will be competitive for the next few years.

Los Angeles Lakers: After 65 wins and a 15th NBA Championship, the Lakers will defend their crown Tuesday night against their cross-arena rivals, the Clippers. This team is ravaged by injuries, and the questions of if newcomer Ron Artest will get along with Kobe Bryant. After their confrontations and trashtalking last year, it will be interesting to see how Artest will mesh with the Lakers. When Pau Gasol, and Lamar Odom get through their injuries, expect this team to dominate and be the best in the West. They say to be the best, you have to beat the best, and the Lakers are the best. When Artest gets adjusted to the triangle offense, it’s going to make this team even better down the road.

Phoenix Suns: The Suns were a highlight reel in recent years under Mike D’Antoni. They were flashy, they ran, and most importantly they scored. Steve Nash was the leader of the show, and in the past year and a half, they had the big Shaqtus. Now Nash is in the twilight of his career, and the Suns aren’t one of the marquee teams. They still have Amare Stoudemire, and Leandro Barbosa, but with a new/old style under Alvin Gentry, the Suns can go back to what they did, it just won’t be the same. The Suns missed the playoffs for the first time since 2004. With their old style back, they should make the playoffs again, but won’t do much damage when they get there.

Sacramento Kings: Paul Westphal is back as head coach of a team that has gone through coaches like a revolving door. Westphal is the fifth coach in five years for the Kings, who have been in a rebuilding period. The Kings drafted Tyreke Evans in the first round, who has been impressive in the preseason and should for a good backcourt with Kevin Martin. The optimism is high, but reality is that this team still has ways to go before getting back to where they were in the early part of this decade.

Enjoy the previews, and we will discuss more basketball after tonight.

30 Thoughts On the NBA Season pt. 1 (Eastern Conference)

In honor of the NBA returning, TSX will put thoughts on all 30 NBA teams and how they may fare this season. These thoughts are all rhetorical, so feel free to express your thoughts as well.

We’ll start in the Eastern Conference:

Atlantic Division

Boston Celtics: This could be the final run for these Celtics, they are slowly turning into the San Antonio of the East (in terms of becoming the retirement home of the NBA). Signing Rasheed was a plus, but Kevin Garnett MUST be healthy for this team to think NBA Finals again.

New Jersey Nets: This team is completely uncertain. From the move to Brooklyn to the team itself. The only two sure things on this team are Devin Harris and Brook Lopez. Courtney Lee can be a factor if he changes his attitude, but expect this team to be at the bottom of the Atlantic Division.

New York Knicks: The de-Isiah process is a long and tough one, but as Donnie Walsh continues to pick apart this sheer mess that Isiah Thomas made of this once-proud franchise, expect them to have a long season (yes, another one of those), but at least they will be looking better than the guys across the Hudson (see above)

Philadelphia 76ers: The bad thing this team could’ve done for this season was get rid of Andre Miller, who was a dependable point guard. They really don’t have nobody initiating the offense. Louis Williams is not a full-time point guard, meaning that Andre Iguodala will have to be the point forward of this team. The good news is that the rest of the division is going to be bad, so they shouldn’t finish no worst than 3rd place

Toronto Raptors: This team really was under the radar, and signing Hedo Turkoglu was huge in shoring up the front court. The Raps now have Chris Bosh, Andrea Bargnani, and Turkoglu as a front court. If Jose Calderon can stay healthy, and with a decent bench, the Raptors can be as high as second place. The real questions are with this team are: 1.) Is Jay Triano the right man for the job?, and 2.) Will Chris Bosh stay despite the efforted improvements by Bryan Colangelo?

Central Division

Chicago Bulls: You want a schizophrenic team? You got one in the Bulls. Despite losing Ben Gordon, the question is, are they going to be good without him, or are they going to be bad without him. Just like with Jay Triano and Toronto, is Vinny Del Negro the right man for this job and this team in getting them to the next level? The Bulls have the potential to be dangerous, but who knows what you will get out of them.

Cleveland Cavaliers: This team won 66 games without Shaquille O’Neal on the team. Now with the Big Shaqalier in town, Cleveland will still be among the elite, but the only problem for them is that the rest of the East is getting more competitive as well. They won’t win 66, but they will have another great season, and of course when the season starts, it will be countdown to LBJ2010: Will he stay in Cleveland or leave?

Detroit Pistons: Joe Dumars is revamping this team without completely dismantling it, which makes him one great executive. He got rid of Billups, ‘Sheed, Big Ben (only to bring him BACK), and expect him to shop Richard Hamilton around for an expiring contract (like he did for Iverson) to create cap space for 2010 (similar to adding Ben Gordon, Charlie Villanueva, and Chris Wilcox) when the big(ger) names come around. Don’t expect the Pistons to be among the NBA elite, but don’t write off Joe D and his decisions, because they will pay off in the long run.

Indiana Pacers: While Joe D does his revamping one way, Larry Bird is doing it another way. The only way the Pacers are going to get back to the levels of the 90s and early 2000s is: 1. Bring back Reggie Miller and Rik Smits, and 2. Have Bird be the coach again. The huge losses of Marquis Daniels and Jarrett Jack (say what you want, but Jack was a good backup) means that T.J. Ford MUST stay healthy, and Troy Murphy, and Danny Granger need to avoid injuries, and possibly, with a healthy Mike Dunleavy, Jr., we could say the Pacers are— never mind. Another long season for Indiana.

Milwaukee Bucks: Losing Ramon Sessions was not a good move for the Bucks, as it took away their point guard player. Carlos Delfino is not an adequate replacement, and rookie Brandon Jennings will need to prove that going pro in Europe was the best thing for him. Do not be surprised if Michael Redd gets traded from Milwaukee during the season, as the Bucks try to clear up more cap room. They started by unloading Richard Jefferson to the Spurs.

Southeast Division

Atlanta Hawks: The Hawks have experienced a revival in Atlanta over the past couple of seasons, but as good as they are, they need one more piece of the puzzle to get over the hump and into the second round. Joe Johnson has help in Jamal Crawford, and Josh Smith is explosive and can change the game, but he’s too tempermental. Mike Bibby has been a phenomenal point guard for the past year and a half, but if the Hawks don’t get a marquee name, they are only going to be a second round team. Head coach Mike Woodson has done a good job staying through the storm, and getting these guys to play, but just one more piece to this puzzle, and we can put the Hawks among the East’s bests.

Charlotte Bobcats: Trading Emeka Okafor for Tyson Chandler is a gift and a curse. It’s a gift because, the ‘Cats get a player who’s passionate about the game in Chandler, but he’s never healthy. Chandler can get offensive rebounds, something that was non-existent throughout the franchise, but how is the toe going to hold up? It’s a curse because Okafor was very consistent, but he never really got fired up, and if you’re going to be the face of a franchise, you have to have intensity, and he has none. Boris Diaw’s out of shape, Raja Bell’s hurt, so where are the points going to come from. Charlotte is known for squandering 4th quarter leads, w/ no go-to-guy, and have been fortunate to escape the cellar in all their years of existence. Too bad it will change this year.

Miami Heat: Too much uncertainty here. Wade has not signed past this season, and nobody knows what will this team be like for next year. This is a season to keep their star player on South Beach. Michael Beasley needs to be utilized as a power forward and not a small forward. He has superstar quality, but he is not used to being the #2 guy, or the sidekick, because everybody knows that Dwyane Wade is the main attraction. If Erik Spolestra can get Beasley more involved and run plays for him and through him, he can really be special, and so can this team which, in trun, can entice Wade to stay, and for Pat Riley to sign a big name to make this team dominate in 2010 and beyond. But keep Wade happy this season if they want those goals.

Orlando Magic: Say what you want about this team not deserving to be in the Finals over Cleveland, but this is a loaded team that can go all the way to the deepest part of their bench (12 deep) and they have really upgraded despite losing Hedo Turkoglu, who was huge in the playoffs. Vince Carter is a major upgrade, and of course they have Superman (Dwight Howard). This team had the Cavs’ number in the playoffs, and even with the Big Shaqalier in town, the Magic have their number due to their depth and matchups, and they are younger than the Celtics. Do not be surprised if Orlando makes a return trip to the NBA Finals.

Washington Wizards: This team is healthy again, and if Gilbert Arenas can stay healthy and with Antawn Jamison already out, the pressure is off Caron Butler to lead this team. They have a new coach in Flip Saunders who knows how to make teams play well, and if the Big Three are healthy, plus a few players that can step up away from them, the Wiz will make a return to the playoffs. They won’t be at the Orlando Magic level, but it will be good enough for possibly third place.

TSX will preview the Western Conference later tonight.

Indians Hire Manny Acta

Yesterday, the Cleveland Indians introduced former Washington Nationals’ manager Manny Acta as the 40th manager in franchise history. Acta, who went 158-252 in 2 1/2 seasons as Nationals’ manager takes over a team who went 65-97 last season, filled with young players and appears to be the right choice to bring in a young manager who has the passion and energy to match this team’s passion and energy.

TSX breaks down this hire.

Positives: Acta studied the Indians, he did his research on the team and it evidently paid off with the hire. One of the final candidates, former New York Mets manager Bobby Valentine, admitted that he really did not study Cleveland and the American League, and it showed that he probably did not want the job at all. So for Acta to show that he wanted to be in Cleveland, and he spurned the Astros, an organization he was associated with for many years, shows that he was a good hire. Another main thing is the enthusiasm for the game of baseball, and that’s going to be important for a manager to have a good positive relationships with his younger players, and mold them into better players. Finally, with the Latino players that are showing up more on the roster, it was a good move to hire a manager who can communicate not only in English, but in Spanish as well, as Acta hails from the Dominican Republic.

Negatives: The record in Washington: Acta had a great first year in Washington, with the young players in the system, but the last year and a half, things went downhill and led to his firing after 87 games into the 2009 season at 26-61. The Indians could have found a more proven candidate than Acta, especially for a team that has seen its fair share of heartbreak and disappointment. Although Acta has the passion and energy, has he really built the talent up to make his teams better? In Washington, it looked as if things got worse. Only time will tell if this move was the right move.

All will be answered in the 2010 season.