Monday, July 30, 2007

McGuff the Crime Dog

It's official. Texas running back Sam McGuffie, the No. 1 All-Purpose running back in the class of 2008, will be donning a Michigan Wolverine jersey. He announced it last night on a Sunday night sports show in Houston. Heading into last night, it was pretty common knowledge that McGuffie was deciding between Big Blue and Texas A&M, although he also listed USC, Notre Dame, and Florida as others who he considered. With Mike Hart graduating after this season, McGuffie will have a shot at starting from the get go...kind of like Hart did. Some call him "the white Reggie Bush" because of plays like this right here on the link thing that I finally figured out how to make

And I am officially proclaiming that this kid must have a nickname. From now on, he will simply be Scruff McGuff in honor and homage to the great Scruff McGruff the Crime Dog. Hopefully he becomes the newest college football sensation once he gets here and emulates the "no-nonsense, won't take any crap" attitude of the dog he will now forever be linked with.

On the left is Scruff McGuff. On the right is Daryl Stonum, a wide receiver who has committed and could be the next in line for the No. 1 jersey.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Jim Bowden a year later

The Nationals were at Shea over the weekend, so I made it a point to make it out to atleast one of the games. That game turned out to be game 2 of Saturday's doubleheader with the Mets. The Natties pulled out the win, 6-5, and ended up splitting the four-game series this weekend. As I've said, and many others have said now, the season has been going much better than people orginally predicted. Some thought we would challenge the all-time greats in regards to losing and ineptitude, but it turned out Jim Bowden, Stan Kasten and the rest of the gang over at RFK actually assembled a wildly mediocre (and sometimes adequate) collection of grizzled veterans and somewhat talented youngsters.

But here's my issue with the whole season. Just this past week, Jim Bowden locked up Ronnie Belliard to a two-year deal and reportedly is about to announce another two-year extension for the Natties lone all star this year, Dmitri Young. Now don't get me wrong here, Belliard and Young have had really solid seasons and have definitely overachieved big time in what people thought they would do this season. I mean it's been well documented how the Nats and Bowden basically picked the dude off the scrap heap after most MLB teams were scared off by his wife issues and overall lack of passion with the Tigers last season. Give Bowden credit, in his three years as GM in DC he has shown a knack for getting players like Belliard and Young for real cheap when everyone else seems to have given up on them. And that's all fine and dandy when you don't have an owner and there aren't any real goals to accomplish other than discover some young talent that could help you in the future. I was under the impression that guys like Young and Belliard were stopgaps not the solution.

Da Meat Hook will be in DC for a couple more seasons.

And although they've played well, the Nats still sit 15 games under .500 at this moment. They are still a losing team, so why is Bowden committing money to players who aren't part of the solution? He should be actively shopping players like Belliard and Young, just like he should have traded Soriano last year. I will agree with this though...both contracts given to Belliard and Young are quite reaosnable and very easy to trade in future years. The thing is that the positions they play are supposedly filled already under the grand scheme of things. I guee Bowden sees these as a security measure in case Johnson never comes back from the longest DL-stay for a broken leg ever. And Belliard can help because the likelihood that Felipe Lopez being the answer at second base dwindles by the day.

Like I've been saying for a few months now, the Nats are definitely better than expected this season. But my enthusiasm has to be tainted because I don't see them being a contender next season or even the season after that to be honest. I said it last year at this time and I'll say it again: I hope Bowden knows what he's doing. He's gotten a free pass so far, but if the results don't start showing up soon, his time could very well run out a lot quicker than you would think.

I think this is a photo of Jim at the yearly auction where he bids on old, overweight baseball players who want to come to Spring Training of the Natties

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Chris Paul is a Cheebaman?

I'll get back to the title of this post in a second. But let me first just provide a little background. So like I mentioned a little while back, I've been going to Rucker Park in Harlem a bunch as of late, working on this story about the regular dudes who play in the Entertainer's Basketball Classic. I finished the story, and we'll just have to see if my editor likes it and actually puts it in the paper so I can make some cash flow off it. But since I've been up at Rucker a bunch, the guy who runs the EBC, Greg Marius, kind of knows me now. This helped out yesterday when 2K Sports decided to film the motion capture stuff for NBA 2K8 at Rucker Park. This meant I got some inside access with a bunch of guys from the league. My editor also sent me there to get these players' opinions on this whole Tim "I piled up too many bets and foolishly thought that anything less than paying the mob back would get me off the hook" Donaghy thing. And predictably, the players there didn't want to even touch this question. Here's a sampling of their responses:

Andre Iguodala: "David Stern addressed it and I think he made his point. As players we just need to move on from this."

Gerald Wallace: "I'm not really paying attention to it. I'm on vacation right now."

Chris Bosh: "I haven't been watching TV, so I don't really know."

Chris Paul: "Man, I'm not even going into that."

Rudy Gay: "My whole rookie year is a blur. I don't know what is what."

Donaghy officially has cooties. Nobody wants to talk about him.

And what's funny about all that is those are the best answers I got from each of them. I seriously re-worded the same question about four times to each of them, probing them for some kind of quote since I was the only member of the New York print media there. It would have made my summer if I had gotten some sort of controversial quote that set off a new firestorm in this situation. But alas, all of these guys have been very well trained by their agents and lawyers. What gets me though, is how are these guys not outraged? This is their livelihood that they work so hard at and it all could be bullshit conspiracy stuff. I figured Bosh would atleast give me something because Donaghy was a ref in Game 6 of the playoffs when the Raptors got eliminated by the Nets. I sort of understand considering this is an FBI investigation, but I just wanted a good quote dammit!

So Iguodala, Wallace, Paul and Gay were all at Rucker to film the motion sensor stuff for the video game. They were all wearing those funky weird spandex suits with these little balls that I assume picked up the various cameras positioned around the court. The video game geeks had them doing various moves on each other, as well as some cool dunks.

I'm not really sure why Chris Bosh was there because I was bored just watching them most of the time, and I was in my starstruck "Holy Crap NBA players!" mode. Bosh literally sat on the side with his girlfriend for a good hour and a half and then just left before it ended. He told me he was there to just say hello to the guys in the commercial, and yet the only person I saw him talk to was Chris Paul.

Why were you even there? Funny face though.

The highlight of the night for me came at the end. The 2K Sports guys separated the four guys for a 2-on-2 game. It was Chris Paul and Gerald Wallace against Andre Iguodala and Rudy Gay. After Paul and Wallace went up like 6-0 courtesy of a couple 3-pointers by Paul, Iguodala and Gay actually started trying. And from there the game actually got really competitive, but Paul and Wallace held up their early lead and won. I forget what the final score was, but it was really cool to see these NBA guys get the fire in their eyes up close.

And speaking of Paul, he told me after the 2-on-2 game that this was the first time he had played basketball since getting a screw inserted in his foot following the season. To be honest though, he didn't look all that rusty. In fact, I now know what all the analysts are talking about when they mention his awesome first step. The guy is lightning guy, although I question whether he can dunk because he was having trouble on a 9.5 foot rim. But maybe that was because of the foot injury. For the record, he did dunk once. I was kind of curious what sort of money these guys make doing things like this 2K Sports thing. My friend Dan from the Daily was with me last night, and he guessed $10,000. That sounds pretty good considering these guys essentially fooled around with a basketball for a couple hours.

But back to Chris Paul. so as I was asking him if he told 2K Sports he wanted any specific things to be in the game, he yelled over to his brother C.J. There were these two sketchy looking dudes along the chain link fence which separated the players from the park and C.J. walked over to them. I, of course, looked over and began wondering what was going on. Chris just yelled to his brother "C.J. take care of them". At first I assumed it was some kind of autograph request or something, but I distinctly saw money exchange hands between the sketchy dudes and Paul's brother. Now I'm not saying this was a drug deal, but there was money being shadily passed between a sketchy dude from Harlem with a backpack and Paul's brother. I guess I'll just let you draw your own conclusions. Oh and also, somebody asked him a question about his favorite music right after I was finished talking with him and his answer was Bob Marley because "he's so chilled out and cool". And if you know me at all, you will have quickly gathered that all this new information I have on Chris Paul is just making me a closet Chris Paul fan next year.

But Paul actually had a really funny answer to my question about adding stuff into the game because he had done this motion sensor thing (and he's apparently going to be on the cover). He said he told 2K Sports that in NBA 2K7 whenever he had a fastbreak, the computerized version of himself would always do a layup. Well actually here's the direct quote since I got it queued up on the recorder right now:

"Everytime I get a fastbreak, I'd do a layup or a finger roll or something like that. I don't dunk too much in the NBA, but if I get a fast break, I'm going to dunk. So I told them, if I'm going to be on the cover, the least they can do is make sure I can dunk the ball."

My new favorite non-Wizard. He's still no Gilbert though.

So Paul was definitely a lot of fun to talk to. He seems real down to earth and to be a genuinely nice guy...even though he wouldn't touch my Tim Donaghy questions. I also had a good time talking to Rudy Gay, although it was for only three minutes. I immediately started out by telling him I was from DC and that I think DC hoops are better than Baltimore (he's from the collosal mistake aka BMore). He laughed and played along and I think he thought I was kind of funny. When the 2K Sports guys said he needed to go back to the court, I responded with "Can I just get a couple more minutes?" The 2K Sports guys responded with one of those "We're on a tight schedule" things, but Rudy put his foot down and said, "Gerald isn't done with his interview yet, he's got some time." Of course, we talked about Jerome, seeing how they both are UCONN guys. I asked Rudy what he thought about Jim Calhoun comparing Jerome to Ray Allen at the end of the season, but he didn't know that had been said. For the record, Calhoun did say that. I also informed him that Pau Gasol has been demanding that the Grizzlies try to trade with the Wiz kids for the rights to Juan Carlos Navarro (his fellow Spaniard). Gay didn't know about that, but I guess now he does. Rudy was definitely fun, especially when I asked him why the guys weren't talking about controversial stuff. His response only confirmed my "I hate David Stern" sentiments. He said something along the lines of "David Stern is my boss. He's all of our bosses (referring to all the other players)." I probed him on his grammar with a "So does that mean there is more than one David Stern because you said bosses." Rudy didn't understand, but maybe that's because it was a stupid question. Long story short, myself and Rudy hit it off...I think.

Iguodala and Wallace were kind of boring, just giving cliche answers that I didn't really care about. Wallace does have the deepest voice I have ever heard though, so deep that I had trouble deciphering words on my recorder. And Wallace was the one who didn't seem like he was having a good time at all...even during the 2-on-2 game. Everyone else, especially Paul and Iguodala, were definitely loving the whole idea that their moves were going to be in this game.

I also wanted to mention that the day before this, when I was up at Rucker actually working on my story instead of fulfilling my dream of conversating with NBA players, I got the privelege of interviewing Academy Award winner Lou Gossett, Jr. If you don't know who he is, he was actually the first African American actor to win an Oscar for his work in "An Officer and a Gentleman" where he was Richard Gere's drill sergeant. I asked him if he ever made Gere cry during filming because if you've ever seen the movie, Gossett is absolutely awesome as the brutal drill sergeant. He didn't and called gere "One cool customer". I tried to make a joke about Buddhism, but it didn't work (I'm hit or miss interviewing these athletes and actors, but there's nothing like getting a good zinger to loosen the mood. Seriously, if you make one of these gusy laugh, the quotes are just 100 times better). Gossett said he used to play at Rucker back in the day, although he must not be doing that well because he gave me his card, thinking I was somehow important to the future of his career. Lou, I've got bad news for you. I'm a college student working for a newspaper that people don't have to pay to get. I don't think I can save careers just yet. But get back to me in 10 years, maybe I'll be a somebody by then.

Lou Gossett, Jr. everyone.

Monday, July 23, 2007

What the Hell happened to sports?

Sports is supposed to be that one diversion from the daily grind, whether that be work or school or your girlfriend or whatever, that everyone can just enjoy. So when did that line that seemed to separate the horrendous nature of work or school get crossed and start to intersect with the carefree joy of sports. The peaceful days of sports are all but done. Think about it...maybe the most popular football player in the NFL has been indicted on dogfighting charges and the entire nation is outraged, Barry Bonds is about to break the home run record, but the bigger story seems to be how he probably cheated to get there, an NBA ref just got caught fixing games for the mob, and hell, even the Tour de France is a shell of its former self with all the doping allegations being thrown around.

But here's my question with all this. Who cares? Sports are supposed to be fun and entertaining. Why are we worrying about what Mike Vick does off the field? You and me aren't friends with him, so whatever. And in Vick's case, the public is being extremely conceited in just writing this guy off as guilty. Yes, the evidence points to him being involved somehow in this dogfighting ring, but who the hell are we to judge until a jury actually convicts the man? This nonsense about keeping him out of training camp and suspending him before due process is given boggles my mind. He may have done somthing wrong, but the bottom line is that the judicial system is there for a reason. Imagine if this were one of your friends or relatives, are you simply going to take away how they make a living before they've actually been proven guilty? I read today that Roger Goodell and Arthur Blank might force Vick to take a leave of absense this season even before the trial begins. It all just seems ridiculous to me.

You tell em, Mike

Yes, Mike Vick probably did something horrendous in supporting these dogfighting rings. But in my opinion, I'm gonna assume that Vick is probably not the biggest culprit in all this. I'm sure he bet on fights and may have even owned a dog or two that got mangled, but he's really just taking the fall for all the joe schmo dogfighting people because he's famous. Don't miscontrue this though, if the allegations are true, Vick should serve whatever punishment the court deems acceptable. But until then, it's not our place to pass judgment on this guy. Just take him for what he is: a dynamic quarterback and leave it at that. That's what sports is all about. You cheer and root for these guys that play for a certain team and you probably don't know a single soul on the team personally. But you still cheer for them because he/she is on your team. There's no need to take what happens off the field so personally because in the end, your connection with Mike Vick stops once he steps off the gridiron. After that, he's just another guy living life and if he happens to have committed a crime, well then, he deserves whatever punishment the courts determine.

But back to my broad point about sports...whether it's Vick or Bonds or this ref Tim Donaghy...just relax and don't take things so seriously. Sports are supposed to be carefree, a diversion from the monotony that seems to dominate people's lives. Yeah Bonds probably took steroids during his best seasons, but it's not like the steroids gave him that silky smooth swing. Just enjoy the beauty of a homerun as it travels majestically through the air. Think about how hard it is to turn on a 95 mph fastball and hit it over 400 feet. It's sports, so as long as you enjoy it, there really aren't any drastic consequences.

Same thing goes for Tim Donaghy. Yes, the integrity of the NBA has been called into question. But what's really different about the sport of basketball now that we know this? People have suspected NBA refs were fixing games for years. Shaq has called out refs in the past, Barkley has called out refs in the past, and not to mention the countless coaches who have been giving shit to refs for years and years. If anything, finding out Donaghy had been fixing games is only going to make things better. What ref in their right mind would try and fix a game next season given the amount of scrutiny that will be on them for the foreseeable future?

Next time you turn on Sportscenter or whatever sports-related show, take into consideration exactly what is "news" in sports. Enjoy the fun and the excitement of sports, rather than focusing on a couple bad apples who "ruin" it for everyone else. But in reality, if we all just lightened up a bit and returned to to the essence of what sports is all about, none of this nonsense would really matter anyways.

John Force of NHRA Drag Racing. Watch any interview by the man and tell me you didn't laugh. I will be shocked. Laughing at absurd human beings like John Force is the essence of sports if you were wondering about this post.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Back in Paradise

I'm at Gregs in Sherman, CT for a couple days this weekend, but I haven't forgotten about the blog. There's been a lot of stuff going on lately in the sports world what with Ron Mexico finally getting indicted to the NBA referee confirming all conspiracy theorists worst nightmares. I'm not really sure how the dictator David Stern is going to handle this, but it should definitely be interesting. But seeing as I am in Connecticut I figured I would enjoy it, so I'll blog more in depth when I get back into the city.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

"These Girls Rock"...I think not

Got the opportunity to catch the fever this yesterday...the LPGA fever. I was in New Rochelle, NY covering the Women's World Match Play Championships for Metro. I was forced to break my promise of never attending a women's sporting event, but atleast I didn't really have to watch any golf. I was mainly in the media tent complaining about how bored I was to people on AIM.

So their motto at the LPGA is "These Girls Rock" so I figured I had to get a good sense of whether this was legit or just false advertising. The first woman up to the podium was Se Ri Pak. And that's all I got. See, she bored the hell out of me. My assignment was to write a little thing on this girl Brittany Lincicome, an American 21-year-old...just like me. I asked Se Ri about her and she gave some bland quote that I didn't really give two shits about.

But back to Lincicome...she had a little press conference later in the day. I saw her picture and thought she was kinda attractive, but then when I saw her in person she was just okay. But she seemed like a really nice girl. Her favorite athlete was Derek Jeter, and I explained to her about how one of my good friends also loves Jeter like there's no tomorrow. And then I asked her what sort of music she was into and her answer shocked the hell outta me.

This is Brittany. She was ok.

She's a Sister Hazel fan. I just couldn't let this go so I explained to her that Sister Hazel played the backyard of my friend's fraternity at Maryland and that this can't actually be her favorite band. She gave me this look, and I knew she thought I was flirting with her, which may or may not have been the case. So then she tells me "well I also like a lot of Jessica Simpson's stuff".

I gave an awkward laugh and ended the interview because I had everything I needed and any ounce of respect I had for women's golf had been thrown out the window with her music preferences. And seriously, if you ever get presented with the opportunity to experience the excitement of LPGA golf...don't be a fool and actually go. It's not fun and the women are boring.For God's sake, most people won't watch golf unless Tiger Woods is in contention. In the LPGA, he's never, ever in contention and there's no John Dalys to idolize either.

This picture sums up his genius.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Here's to you...Fernando Vina

I just had to get this one off my chest. Myself, Graham and Greg were watching Baseball Tonight and we had the distinct pleasure of hearing the verbal skillfulness of the one, the only, Fernando Vina. And by skillfulness I actually mean the verbal mouth vomit of nothingness. I just thought ESPN should know that they probably pay Vina a six-figure salary to remind us that the guy we're watching highlights of is "quite the player". NO shit he's good, he's in the Major Leagues. I mean the man literally has nothing useful to say. And when he does speak he just sort of does a little play-by-play of the highlight. "Oh this is a great play" or "oh this one really changed the game for em" is not analysis. They are highlights! Of course they were important or great that's why they are the HIGHLIGHTS.

In addition, Vina stutters a ton, which in other walks of life is totally fine by me, but you're on TELEVISION. People on television are being counted on to deliver the message (whether it's politics or sports or entertainment) to the people. But if you stumble and bumble, maybe you should be a writer instead.

Graham was the first one to clue me into the studpidity and babbling nonsense that defines the work of Fernando Vina and once you actually listen to the guy it is just unbelievable that ESPN hasn't locked him up in Siberia (or atleast switched him over to ESPNU or 360 or something.

Fernando, for the love of God, please just end this tragic experiment that is your television career. You were a solid second baseman, let's leave our relationship there.

Stop it! Just stop ruining Baseball Tonight.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Rucker Park???

So my labrum story, which I was so sick of working on, finally made its triumphant appearance in print today — in New York City, Boston, and Philly (on Monday) no less. And for my next endeavor in the "real" journalism world, I was asked to come up with a story surrounding the Entertainer's Basketball Classic held at the world famous Holcombe Rucker Park. So I came up with the ingenious idea of doing a story on the guys who aren't the big timers, the ones who have to have other jobs besides playing glorified pickup basketball...or so I thought.

So I went to Rucker yesterday for the first time. It was pretty cool looking, especially since I've seen it on TV so many times. But the play, to be honest, was underwhelming. To me, it looked just as intense as one of those "really intense" CCRB games at school. And to make matters worse, when you're talking about streetball, you expect to see some silly, ridiculous moves and unreal dunks...but for the most part both were non-existant. Now, maybe I was just watching a bad game or something, but it was just really...well...boring.

After the game I became quasi-friends with this guy Malloy Nesmith aka "Da Future". He's apparently the youngest player to ever get on the court in the EBC at Rucker Park. But that was back in 1992. Now he's 32, has no real shot at the NBA, and has no other job besides playing streetball. By the way, the name "Da Future" comes from the fact that his moves on the court are somehow moves that the NBA will be seeing in "the future" but somehow haven't invented yet. But unless the NBA hasn't done no look passes (which seems to be "Da Future's" trademark) then I didn't see anything my basketball eyes would consider earth shattering.

I took a ride with this man. Was it smart?
I'm not really sure.

So after talking with Da Future for about 10 minutes, I got invited by him to take a ride in his "Range". How this guy who claims to just play basketball on the streets can afford a Range Rover (and apparently he's got a Mercedes too) is beyond my knowledge (cough cough something illegal). But back to the story, I went on a ride around the neighborhood talkin with Future and his friends. I'm not sure what made them embrace a young, white journalist who literally had to tell them to repeat themselves 50 times because I didn't understand what they were saying. But I just turned on the recorder and let them do some self-promotion. And what I got is that there are apparently a lot of haters out there as it concerns Da Future, but he's here to stay (I was way too scared these guys were packing heat to laugh at any of their nonsense).

I then talked to this other guy, Jazz Mansell, who's 31 and just got out of prison. I forgot to ask him what he did time for. But he also just plays streetball for a living and he will continue to do so until his "knees give out or I have to do more time". He was the opposing team to Da Future and his team lost. He painted a much more accurate picture of what I thought living the streetball life would be. He's got two kids and he was very honest about the fact that he never knew if he would be able to pay bills month-to-month. This past winter he played for an ABA team in Arkansas but they folded halfway through the season. By the way, Jazz's nickname on the court is "The Total Package" because he can play all five positions on the floor.

I also talked to the founder and commissioner of the EBC, Greg Marius. What I got from it is that there's apparently a lot of new tournaments cropping up trying to reap the rewards of all the years the EBC has been around. And although he wouldn't say it matter of factly, Marius is pissed about it. He spent the entire interview defending the EBC and all of its history.

I'll have more from Rucker, seeing as I'm going to have to be at a bunch of games the next few weeks. Hopefully, I'll become that white kid that everyone starts to love because I'm there so much. Oh yeah, funny thing to end this post: Doug E. Fresh (legendary rapper) was at the game, as well as Zab Judah. And as Zab walked in the park, the emcee just starts yelling "Zab please don't get knocked out again, Zab please don't get knocked out again" over and over. I was even laughing.

An example of Zab getting pummeled.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Football Recruitin'

Huge news on the Michigan football front, so I'll just get right to it...

Steve Threet, basically a four star QB recruit from '07 (you know the guys who are going to freshman in the fall), spent a semester at Georgia Tech and has decided he no likey it there. He's transferring to Michigan, will sit out this coming season, and probably be locked in a heated battle with The Ryan Mallett for the starting QB spot after Henne graduates.

Onto Nick Perry, a defensive end from Detroit. For weeks now it looked like MIchigan had no shot at him, he was going to be that one uber talented player in the state to foolishly choose Michigan State over the mighty Wolverines. But news just in from the Rivals guys, specifically this guy Michael Spath who I covered hockey with, Nick Perry is quoted on the record as saying he "will be making his committment to Michigan soon".

That means we have basically locked up every single uber talented football recruit from the state of Michigan. Suck on that Sparty! This class of 2009 (the one after I graduate) is stacking up to be another top-10 class and maybe, just maybe a top fiver.

Now if we can get Lloyd to just do a semi-decent job of coaching, this team should be in the National Championship. That's right, a Michigan pessimist like myself is saying the words National Championship in the same sentence with Lloyd...but he can't have his head stuck up his ass during any point of the season (he's had trouble with this in the past).

A couple good recruits isn't gonna stop the Lloyd bashing. One decent season can't erase the horribility of 2005.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Nothing to Talk About

It's been awhile since I had that two post extravaganza, but I've been busy with this article that should appear in the Metro on Friday. I had a pretty tremendous weekend in the Hamptons to offset the ridiculousness that this story has been giving me. I've literally written four different versions of this thing and I just want to rid myself of it.

Well I'm about to sit and watch this HBO thing about the Brooklyn Dodgers, maybe that will give me some inspiration on the slowest sports day of the year.

Oh by the way, HBO just announced that they will be doing a documentary on the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry, to premiere the week of the Big Game this November.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Trouble on the Horizon?

What's that? Two posts in one day. Oh yeah, you know it. It's just a DC sports extravaganza on the blog today because I just couldn't hold back on some Wiz talk. And it's not pretty and rosy and this really doesn't even involve Gilbert... but really everything with the Wiz involves Gilbert.

So if you haven't heard the Wiz just offered DeShawn Stevenson a 4-year 12 million contract extension because his deal is up. He made 900,000 last season, so this is a pretty decent raise. But if you look at some of the contracts being doled out there these days, it really is chump change. Jason Kapono, who didn't even start for the Heat last season got 5 years 27 mil, and some guy named Adam Carroll from The Boobcats got 5 years 24 mil. And I don't think I'm stepping over the line in saying that DeShawn was better than both those guys. But I'm also extremely happy that Ernie Grunfeld, Wiz GM/President, is not overpaying for DeShawn. I think it's obvious a guy like DeShawn can be found just about anywhere for cheaper than those ridiculous deals.

Here's the catch though. Who is Gilbert Arenas' best friend on the Wiz? Answer: DeShawn Stevenson. Who just said he'd be opting out of his contract at the end of this upcoming season? Answer: Gilbert Arenas. Is there a price tag on keeping Gil happy? Answer: I'm not sure.

Who knew he'd be so important in the scheme of things.

It's also being reported all over the place that EG is definitely shopping Etan Thomas and his ugly, disgusting, mortifying contract that was signed by the pre-EG regime. The Wiz know they can't keep both Brendan Haywood and Etan because they absolutely despise each other to the point that they beat the hell out of each other on occasion. Brendan actually has a pretty sweet contract that is entirely reasonable for the minutes/production he gives.

Here's the catch though (how about that repetition). Nobody in their right mind wants Etan's ugly, disgusting, mortifying contract, especially for a player who couldn't hold onto a starting job over someone who sits down to pee (Haywood). Good news though: 2002 second round pick Juan Carlos Navarro, who for the past four years has been content to stay in Europe has now voiced interest in coming to the NBA. And the Wiz still have his rights. It gets better too. If DeShawn signs, it's likely the Wiz won't have enough money to keep JCN and Abe Pollin, the Wiz owner, has no desire to be a luxury tax team. Good news: There are teams lining up for JCN, including the Heat and Cavs. Maybe EG can package JCN with Etan so the Wiz can get rid of the ugly, disgusting, mortifying thing and maybe pick up some decent players in the process (Can someone say a defensive guy or maybe a 3-point shooter to complement the drive and kick games of Gil and Caron).

Meet Juan Carlos Navarro of Madrid.

Oh yeah and EG just gave Eddie Jordan's assistant coaches one-year contracts, while bringing in a new guy, Tom Thibadeau, who is a defensive specialist. Here's the catch though. He gave Tommy T a two-year deal. Does this signal the make-or-break year for Eddie Jordan.

Almost forgot the team is still trying to re-sign Andray Blatche, which I'm pretty sure EG realizes is an absolute must because this kid might explode any day now.

To say the least, there's a ton of interestingness swirling around the Verizon Center these days.

My take on the whole thing...Well, Juan Carlos Navarro is known for being dynamite from the beyond the arc, and if he wants to sign with the Wiz, why should we just give him away to a conference rival? And teams are interested in Haywood because of his palatable deal, so why don't we get rid of him since he basically quit on the team last year and for God''s sake: HE SITS DOWN WHEN HE PEES! It's unfortunate the Wiz are going to need to deal with that ugly, digusting, mortifying thing called Etan's contract, but sometimes you just need to suck it up and deal with a mistake. And if DeShawn doesn't like his 3-mil a year deal, then let him go elsewhere. I bet JCN can put up 11 a game while playing ok defense (a la DeShawn). Get that defensive specialist when you dump Haywood. And Gilbert...well the Wiz didn't sign one of his good buddies, Larry Hughes, a few summers back and look how that worked out. Larry is now sporting one of those ugly, disgusting, mortifying things and was benched (I mean injured...right) for a second-round rookie in the NBA Finals. Like I said in a prior post, Gilbert is a God damn icon in DC and the Wiz are not going to let him get away. He can buy a fucking plane to go visit Larry and DeShawn with the max deal he signs after this coming season.

I don't know if anyone has checked his blog lately, but on it Gilbert says he wants to buy an island near Tahiti because "Diana Ross has one". This is the one guy I wish I met at the NBA Draft. It'll happen someday, I can feel it.

C-A-P-S Caps, Caps, Caps Once Again

I have finally come back down to earth from the NBA Draft, and have officially returned to reality. Actually wait, I'm going to the Hamptons in like 5 hours...what a life I lead. But seriously, I don't know if anyone noticed, but the Capitals and Ted Leonsis decided to spend some money for the first time in what seems like forever. Michael Nylander is back as a Cap, they added a solid defenseman in Tom Poti, and another solid forward in Victor Kozlov. Quite frankly (that was for Steven A.) it's about time they put some players around Ovechkin. Nylander should be a pretty good complement for the big O on the Caps top line, and then on the second line will be Alexander Semin and recently-signed draft pick Nicholas Backstrum. I'm definitely comfortable going into battle with those four manning the top two lines.

Nylander is back but apparently he had an agreement with Edmonton first and then the Caps swooped in and snatched him up.

Now don't get me wrong here: These three signings, by no means, signal the dawning of a Caps dynasty. But they do mean this team is finally headed in the right direction after blowing chunks for four years now (that's including the lockout year, because when you don't play it means you blow too). They basically wasted the first two years of Ovechkin mania, but hey, he should be heading into his prime after a somewhat down year. But can you really blame the guy, he literally had nobody around him.

These signings also make me feel good for Olie Kolzig. The guy has been a DC lifer and that is absolutely commendable. He's probably got one or two years in the net and I would love to see him make the playoffs before he hangs up the skates. Now is this team, as it stands now, a playoff team in 2007-08. Personally, I see them as a 7 or 8 seed, but Graham seems to think I'm an idiot. The Caps are still a few defensemen away from really being taken seriously in the East, but these three signings were certainly a step in the right direction.

Oh yeah, btw, props to the Caps for switching back to the classic red and white jerseys. Those babies are money in the bank.

Could definitely see myself getting one of these bad boys for Christmas.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Givin out Krauss

So I've had a few days to think about this year's draft and I decided I should write something real quick to go over who I thought did a good job and who I thought did a terrible job. And since I haven't seen Krauss in awhile and I know he reads this, I decided to award points to each team on a 1-5 Krauss basis. The more Krauss' a team gets, the better they did in a draft. The less Krauss they have, and I think this applies to all of life, the worse they did. Here it goes:

New York Knicks
I'm on the fence about the Zach Randolph trade. I'm really not sure it's going to work given the fact that he's essentially a better version of Eddy Curry. That means the Knicks basically have two ball hogging post players. Also, since Isiah made both the Randolph trade and the Curry trade, you know they are both going to be starters, relegating David Lee to the bench once again. And while Lee isn't the greatest scorer, he brings way more to the table in terms of hustling, defense and rebounding. But Randolph did average 23 points, 10 rebounds a game in the Western Conference going against the likes of Duncan, Garnett, Stoudamire, etc. It could work, but something tells me Randolph is going to have a Pacman moment dealing with the nightlife in NYC. Who is Wilson Chandler? But from what I'm told he could be another Isiah draft day gem.

Scores is a chain of strip joints in NYC. Zach probably doesn't know where any of them are now, but trust me, he will soon. By the way, we drunkenly tried to go to scores a few weeks ago and it was closed at 4am. What strip club closes at 4am?

Knicks: 3 Krauss'

Boston Celtics
I hated and I mean hated that Ray Allen trade. No shooting guard this side of Reggie Miller and Michael Jordan has gotten better with age. Allen is 32 and definitely on the downside of his career and the Celtics gave up Jeff Green for him. There's a reason the Sonics lost so many games even with Allen and Rashard Lewis. The Celtics are not Pierce, Allen and Al Jefferson coupled with nobody. They are no better than a 6-seed in the East, and Danny Ainge has effectively mortgaged their future to appease Paul Pierce.

Celtics: 2 Krauss'

Charlotte Bobcats
Well, if you watched the NBA Draft on TV, you probably noticed Steven A. Smith go on one of his patented rants when it concerned the trade Michael Jordan made in giving Brandon Wright to the Warriors in exchange for Jason Richardson and his four year contract. Now, at first I agreed with Steven A, but now I'm thinking more and more that this was actually a wise move by Jordan. Think about it, if the Bobcats resign Gerald Wallace, which they say they are going to try to do, then Brandon Wright was essentially a younger, less polished version of him. Meanwhile, Richardson seems like he has been around awhile, but he's just 26 years old, i.e. just entering his prime years. With a top-4 of Raymond Felton, J-Rich, Gerald Wallace and Emeka Okafor this team can compete in the Eastern Conference.

Maybe it was the Wizards that made him look like a bad GM and not his terrible GM skills making the Wiz look like a bad team.

Bobcats: 3 1/2 Krauss'

Atlanta Hawks
I'll be honest, I pretty much knew their picks before they even happened. A couple nights before the Draft, I was able to talk with one of the owner's sons, who graduated from Churchill High School with me. That was part of the reason I was able to tell Acie Law that there was no chance he fell below the 11th pick. I think the Hawks made the right decisions in picking Horford and then waiting for Acie Law at 11, rather than reaching for MIke Conley at No. 3. Maybe Conley is a bit younger, but I definitely see Acie Law making more of an impact, atleast at first. He's almost four years older than Conley and therefore more NBA-ready. The only problem I had with the Horford pick is how many forwards this team has on its roster already. Think about it, Josh Childress, Marvin Williams, Josh Smith, Shelden Williams, all those guys are younger than 25 years old. It just doesn't make sense.

Hawks: 3 Krauss'

Seattle Supersonics
This was the team that I thought did the best in this draft. They got rid of an aging superstar and actually got some real value for him. Think about it, they've got Wally Szerbiak's contract, which they can dump after a couple seasons, plus a solid point guard in Delonte West. And that's before you even mention that they got Durant and they got my new favorite player, Jeff Green. Green and Durant are two foundations that will serve as pillars for this franchise, whether it's in Seattle or in Oklahoma City or wherever. And all they gave up was a second round pick which turned into Glen Davis and Ray Allen, who hadn't done diddly for them last season. My only real issue with all of this is that Green, Durant, and Rashard Lewis all essentially play the same position, but that can be worked out because I also think all three are extremely diverse. It will be matchup problems galore if all three are on the court at one time.

Sonics: 4 1/2 Krauss'

Portland Trail Blazers
Everyone is making this huge deal about how great the Trail Blazers did in this draft and how they've now completely ridded themselves of the Jail Blazer image. Well, I'm not buying that. They are now THE youngest team in their conference. And I would have no issue if they were in the Eastern Conference because with some of the talent they stockpiled last Thursday night, they would have a chance in the East. But in the West, they are years away. Look at their roster and here are the pieces that I'd expect them to play with next season: Brandon Roy, Greg Oden, LaMarcus Aldridge, Channing Frye, Jarrett Jack, Taurean Green, Jamaal Magloire, Darius Miles, Raef LaFrentz, and Josh McRoberts. Notice that they have about a gazillion forwards there. And also notice that nobody besides Roy and maybe Oden (but let's not forget he's going to be a 19-year-old rookie) puts any fear in my bones. And let's also not forget that the Blazers traded away their only legitimate offensive threat in Zach Randolph for 50 cents on the dollar. They got Frye, who the Knicks were cool with giving up because David Lee is a better version of him. And all this talk about cleaning up their image, and yet people forget that they got Stevie Franchise. While not a hardcore criminal, I can tell you that Stevie is from Tacoma Park, MD — worse than Baltimore. Maybe this will come back to bite me in the ass in a few years when Oden and Roy are the new version of Shaq and Kobe, but I really don't think the Blazers did much — besides taking Oden with the first pick. Now think if the Blazers had merely stayed put and not traded Randolph. That leaves you with a trio of Brandon Roy — the rookie of the year this past season, Greg Oden — who may not have a huge impact on offense right away but you can't downplay his shot blocking ability, and Zach Randolph — a 23 and 10 guy who could make up for some of Oden's offensive defieciencies. Throw in a sloid point guard in Jarrett Jack, now that's a team that could compete in the West. But I guess Randolph was really that bad of a guy...I mean he did go to Michigan State, so it makes some sense

Blazers: 2 Krauss'

That's that. I would have rated the Wizards draft, but there isn't much to say about it. Nick Young will be a nice addition offensively, and apparently the first-rounder from last year, Pecherov, has looked real good in individual workouts at the Verizon Center this offseason. Time will tell as to whether he develops into that low post threat the Wiz kids so depserately needs.

For the record, Krauss is the weird kid on the left,
not the weird kid on the right.