Friday, May 30, 2008

Kobe Gets the Kill Shot

Kobe is ridiculous. There is no stopping him. In the 4th Quarter, you better score every time down, because he is planning on it at the other end. What a closer. Not Jordan, but the closest we have seen since.

Rejoice. As the Spurs will not win the NBA Title. If your two favorite teams are a) the Mavericks and b) whoever is playing the Spurs, then hello Win Column.

Plaschke on the Lakers amazing season

Months after they began a season with one whining diva and seven dwarfs, the Lakers are bringing a legitimate fable into the NBA Finals.

From Shock to Awe.

With a 100-92 victory over the San Antonio Spurs, the team that began the season as an NBA joke is now just four wins from an NBA championship.

No more punch lines, just punch, a dozen playoff wins in 15 playoff games.

No more laugh track, just tracks, huge and imposing, most recently on the backs of the defending NBA champs, who were buried Thursday for the fourth time in five games.

"We have so many ways to win," said Jordan Farmar, shaking his head in the wonder that envelopes his city today.

They seemingly used them all in the Western Conference finals clincher, a game that was a metaphor for a season.

The Lakers won after a horrendous start left them trailing in the second quarter by 17 points.

"My heart's still pumping, that adrenaline is still running," Lamar Odom said later.

The Lakers won after pulling ahead by a point at the end of the third quarter with improved play by Pau Gasol, then Kobe Bryant owned the fourth, in which he scored 17 points as the crowd roared with his every twitch.

"He's the best closer in the game," said Luke Walton. "We just let him do his thing."

Four wins in five games against the reigning best team in the NBA and now . . . could the Lakers really finish this season taking their place?

Late in Thursday's game, the crowd chanted, "We want Boston, we want Boston!"

Be careful for what you wish.

Do the Lakers really want to play the healthy Celtics instead of the battered Detroit Pistons in the Finals beginning Thursday?

Whoever they play, for the first time in this postseason, the Lakers will not have home-court advantage.

But for the fourth time, they will have home-run advantage.

Nobody's season has involved a bigger, wilder swing than the Lakers.

Nobody's season has connected harder.

"A dream come true," Bryant told the crowd afterward. "The answer to a prayer."

Last summer, remember, Bryant's prayer was that he leave everyone.

Now, his prayer is that everyone follow him.

"We all share in this," Bryant said. "It is not me at the forefront. That's just now how we roll."

We've asked it before, we'll ask it again, there's no real answer, but it remains a real question.

How did this happen?

How did a dysfunctional team on the verge of collapse become a bunch of happy, hugging dudes on the verge of history?

With the Rangers about to open a 10 game homestand, Jayson Stark asks: Can Lance Berkman or Josh Hamilton win a Triple Crown?

This just in: According to Bodog, the odds of Big Brown winning the horse racing Triple Crown are way better (1 to 3) than the odds of either Berkman (30 to 1) or Hamilton (25 to 1) winning a baseball Triple Crown. And friends, that's one sad state of affairs.

Not to deny Big Brown his day in the saddle. But it's been so long since anybody in baseball even got close to a Triple Crown, it would be one of the great stories of the millennium if this turned out to be the year. And it just might. Berkman ranks no worse than second in any of the three Triple Crown categories. And as recently as last weekend, Hamilton actually led in all three. So the question is: Can they keep it up?

Berkman is trying to join Mickey Mantle as the second switch-hitter in history to win this trifecta. And we're a little worried about him, now that his batting average for the month has dropped under (gasp) .500. But he sure has been hanging at the top of the leaderboard in all three categories for a long time now.

Scouts say they're not sure Berkman "has enough power" to win the home run title. But he's finished in the top five in homers three times. So why not? The big issue with us is actually the batting race. He has to outhit Chipper, and his average hasn't topped .316 since his first full season in 2001. Here's another worry: Berkman's current .438 average from the right side is 162 points higher than his career average. So while it's tough to put anything past the electrifying Big Puma, his odds are long.

But Hamilton's odds feel even longer. How do you project what a guy with no real track record is capable of, no matter how talented he may be? Hamilton did hit .347 in the Appalachian League once upon a time. But he has never played 100 games in any professional season. So how well will he hold up as he tries to survive his first big-league marathon, let alone trying to win a Triple Crown along the way? Can't say. But it's astounding how many people are pulling for him.

"We all have our doubts, but when I've seen him, he's gotten as many hits going to left and left-center as he has by pulling the ball," said one scout. "And this guy is so strong -- and by that I mean baseball strong. He's hitting balls so hard that he's shooting them through the hole so fast that the infielders are taking one step and the ball's already behind them. And man, that's special. And so is he."

Kevin Burnett explains why Roy isn’t that bad…and the Cover 2

Before we jump into things lets first take a look at what the perceived problem is. Roy and his covering ability seem to have the Cowboy nation going crazy. First and foremost for everyone saying Roy gets beat in coverage a lot that's not true. Roy is asked to do very little from a man to man stand point which means the times you think Roy gets beat is a combination of things. One of which being the type of coverage, and another being the weakness of the defense. I'm not saying he does not get beat because every defensive player in the NFL has given up more than one big play in their (wink wink) life time.

Let's take a look at the holes in the zone. Another translation for this would be the weakness in the defense or the dead area. This is where you as a player and the coaching staff knows when we are in this coverage we can be beat here at this spot. This is also used as dictation to the offense letting them know they only have one place to throw or run the ball, but it's up to you to find it. Finally you have the place where you say hey if they throw the ball here we can't do anything about it but tackle the guy (usually a blitz, which we do a lot of). Every defensive play in any playbook has a weakness.

With that being said we also have to know this is also a team game. So no one person can be held totally responsible every time something goes wrong. I say this because as soon as teams complete a pass Roy is blamed and he is not even in the picture (don't say because he got beat either guys). Take into account the pass rush and the play call from both sides of the ball. The last time I checked every player in the NFL is called a PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALL PLAYER. Meaning anyone on the field has a chance of making a professional or game changing play. I'm going through all this gymnastics to say that the guys in different uniforms get paid to make plays as well. Know this teams chart everything for instance, we chart every time an offense runs a particular play, the down and distance in which they ran the play, the number of times they have ran this play in the last four games, along with the formation and maybe the signal (Patriots). Teams study tape and they are going to know how to attack you as a defense and as a player. They will also know your weakness, but more important they are going to run plays that you have never seen before. This is done for no other reason but to confuse you and teams will do this all game long until they score. The New York Football Giant are the best example of this concept. They have 5 run plays and 5 pass plays. That's not a lot right until you throw in a shift or a motion, change the formation a couple of times. After they do this a few times you come off the like what just happened (after they score a touchdown)?

What are you saying Kevin? Roy is simply the fall guy when all else fails blame Roy.
I have never been a believer that one man causes a team to lose. What may seem like Roy getting beat may be someone making a good play or a good call for the defense we're in. Let's develop this a little bit more. In cover two there are two areas are teams teams try to attack. The turkey hole shot which is between the corner and the safety, two being vertical routes down the middle of the hash marks and or the insides of the numbers. Hopefully some of you follow me. This puts an enormous amount of stress on your safeties but more on you underneath coverage. Why? If you don't get the receivers off the vertical land marks with a re-route/ jam your safeties are in the deep end of the pool. Know this if somebody underneath misses a re-route or jam it's either a touchdown or big gain. NO COVERAGE IS BULLET PROOF. So yeah it's a lot of pressure on Roy in some situations but he doesn't always wear the sombrero. If you don't believe me check the stat sheet J.J. Taylor has them (I know because he gave them to me one day).

I am very happy to report that Doug Armstrong has been rehired. He is a great GM, and a guy I really like. I am happy to see his hard work here in Dallas rewarded by joining a St Louis franchise that has some top picks in hand, and he can build from scratch.

He is also the man who thought Bob and Dan should join the Stars on roadtrips, so we will always be in his debt.

Army is back

The Blues addressed both present and future needs in one big swoop Thursday, extending the contract of general manager Larry Pleau through the 2009-10 season and hiring former Dallas Stars general manager Doug Armstrong to be his eventual replacement.

Until he takes over in 2010, Armstrong will carry the title of vice president of player personnel, though both he and team president John Davidson say Armstrong has no set job description and will handle any and everything within the organization.

"We need experienced help now," Davidson said, "plus we need protection in the future. ... He'll be helpful in many ways. He'll start Monday morning when we have our amateur people in to get ready for the draft. He'll be out in the field. He's got lots of experience, and that's very important with Larry's situation. He helps us out in all areas and that's very important, to have someone else's eyes, ears and brains looking at things."

Pleau has had a reduced role with the team while his wife battles cancer and has had to stay close to St. Louis much of the time. At the end of his contract, he'll be 63 and will retire.

"I'll be able to continue on with the team and continue to work with J.D. and the new ownership," said Pleau, who has been with the team since 1997. "And we bring in a young man with lots of experience. The franchise is in great shape. The ultimate goal is to win the Stanley Cup and for me to be able to stay in, with my family, my wife. I'm excited about it."

Armstrong is 43 and worked 17 years for the Dallas Stars franchise — he began when they were the Minnesota North Stars — before being fired in November after the team started 7-7-3.

As he considered his options for getting back into the day-to-day hockey business — Toronto reportedly also was interested — he looked at the Blues' organization and liked what he saw.

"I wanted to go to a team with a vision, with a plan of where they wanted to go, with people I could learn from and respect," he said. "The organization has started the rebuilding process and have a lot of top prospects. It seemed like the right time and the right group to help them move along."

And to do that, he'll do a lot of different things.

"I have no set job responsibilities," he said. "I'll come in and learn the system, learn the work environment and assist any way I can, if that's traveling with the NHL team or the minor-league team or something else. I have a lot to learn about the St. Louis Blues. I'll come in and lend a hand and do what I can do to make the team better and reach the success we want, which is the Stanley Cup. That's why I chose the Blues: they're not afraid to talk about their goals.

"In a couple of years, there will be a turnover and my responsibilities will be a little more defined. Right now, my job is do whatever I can do to help the Blues."

Don Cherry’s best suits of all time

Here is a new rule from Bob’s Blog: Anytime the New York Times has a big story on Stonehenge, it makes the blog

At least part of the mystery of Stonehenge may have now been solved: It was from the beginning a monument to the dead.

New radiocarbon dates from human cremation burials among and around the brooding stones on Salisbury Plain in England indicate that the site was used as a cemetery from 3000 B.C. until after the monuments were erected around 2500 B.C., British archaeologists reported Thursday.

What appeared to be the head of a stone mace, a symbol of authority, was found in one grave, the archaeologists said, indicating that this was probably a cemetery for the ruling dynasty responsible for erecting Stonehenge.

“It’s now clear that burials were a major component of Stonehenge in all its main stages,” said Mike Parker Pearson, an archaeologist at the University of Sheffield in England.

Some scholars have contended that the enigmatic stones, surrounded by a ditch and earthen banks in concentric circles, more than likely marked a sacred place of healing. The idea is at least as old as medieval literature, which also includes stories of Stonehenge as a memorial to the dead. So there could be an element of truth to both hypotheses, experts say.

Mariah Carey cannot throw very well.

Kimbo Slice and his Mom

As for the Lost Finale, I don’t want to spoil it here for anyone who is a bit behind. But, I will say that yes, I thought it was good, and yes, it is obviously evolving even more into a science fiction show rather than a real-life drama that some of us thought at the advent of the show. Surely, if the smoke monster did not tip us off, now the dramatic moving of the island does.

I love the show, but I don’t always totally understand everything that is being developed. The good news is also the bad news: I now have 7 months to figure this situation out as the show will not be back until 2009. 2 more seasons to go…

Previously on Lost


dim499 said...

Hate to miss another Bob and Dan show, but I have to avoid another Kobe love fest at all costs.

Jennifer Zandstra said...

1) Kimbo Slice scares the bejeezus out of me

2) Don Cherry's suits scare the bejeezus out of me