Friday, May 1, 2009

Bulls-Celts: Whoah

I don't even know where to start with this one. If you have been in a cave for the last week and a half, the Chicago Bulls (7 seed) and Boston Celtics (2 seed) have been locked in a unbelievably exhilarating first-round playoff series in the NBA Eastern Conference.

Tonight was Game Six, and down here in Indiana, we had to listen on ESPN1000 while delivering pizzas. Grainy AM radio reception on a rainy night just makes for quality basketball listening, don't you think? I really like the Chicago radio team, which consists of Chuck Swerski and former Bull Bill Wennington, and tonight they got to call what was no doubt the game of their lives.

The Bulls beat the Celts 128-127 in triple overtime to force a deciding Game Seven. This series has, so far, had seven overtime periods in six games. Aside from the snoozer of a Game Three, no game has been decided by more than three points either way.

Here's Gene Wojciechowski's take on ESPN, entitled "Please let this series keep going". Also, ESPN's AP copy with accompanying highlight video from SportsCenter.

The Tribune has Celtics veteran Ray Allen quoted as saying that this is the "best series I've ever played in," and other observations here. Allen scored 51 tonight and still somehow lost to the Baby Bulls.

Here's what Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald had to say (picture from Herald website, thanks guys).

Look. There have been a lot of playoff series in the history of the NBA. A lot. Tons of good Finals games, tons of good conference finals matchups, even some very exciting first round series.

I don't think there has ever been a series, in ANY sport, let alone the NBA, that has been as tightly contested, nerve-wracking, and exciting as this one. Period.

These guys, on both sides of the ball, are absolutely playing their hearts out. So a toast to Derrick Rose, Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce and John Salmons, Ray Allen and Ben Gordon (the UConn Gunners), Perkins, Big Baby, Tyrus, Kirk, and Big Goofball Brad Miller, and of course to Joakim "Juwanna Man" Noah. You guys are freakin' amazing. Here's to a quadruple-OT game on Saturday night.

EDIT: I gotta link to the Sports Guy here. A great article. And another photo from that I just had to throw up. Any guesses as to what KG is saying?

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Weekend Watch 05/01/09

I know it’s a day early, but I am off tomorrow so my weekend starts in one hour.


Celtic at Bulls 7 ET TNT (Celtics Lead Series 3-2)

Elimination game tonight for what many people have called the best first round match-up since they have made it a 7 game series. To this point we have had 3 OT games, a game won on the last shot of regulation, and A Boston blowout. I know I have enjoyed so far and I hope this game doesn’t disappoint. So should the Bulls go after Rondo right away? Should they do what Ryan suggested and put Aaron Grey to throw a haymaker at him? I know I want to see him on his butt every time he comes down the lane.

Who I want to win: Bulls
Who I think will win: Bulls

Blackhawks at Canucks 9 ET VS (Series tied 0-0)

Round 2 begins for the NHL tonight and this should be a fantastic series. The trash talking has already been thrown around and if you don’t believe this won’t be a rough series you’ll have to look at the penalty minutes from the last time they played. How many? 80!!!!!! Luongo is one of the, if not the best goaltender in the game. He has been lights out from shots that are 15 feet or out so far in the playoffs, so the Hawks are going to need to get in close for some good shots. Vancouver has had 9 days off so they might be a little rusty. If Chicago wants to win this series they have to split the first two games.

Who I want to win: Blackhawks
Who I think will in: Canucks

Speaking of the Blackhawks. ( Fun read sent to me by Colin who also has a man crush on Toews.


White Sox at Texas

Normally I wouldn’t include random baseball games that seem insignificant. But this one is important. Why do you ask? Because this is Scotty Pods' (pictured) first game back to the White Sox. I know he wasn’t with the team long, but he was by far my favorite players on the Sox at the time and will always be up there with my all time favorites like Thomas, Ventura, Cora, Guillien, Paulee, and Buehrle (and Jackson, Jordan and Griffey but I love those guys for reason besides what they did in the White Sox uniform). Jamie is exicited he is back on the team for different reasons. I will continue to keep an eye out for his model wife.

Who I want to win: White Sox
Who I think will win: White Sox


NBA Playoffs Game 7: TBD TNT

There are 3 potential game 7s that could be played throughout this day. I hope the Bulls and Celtics face off. That would mean they held off elimination and won in Chicago. Can they win in Boston, it’ll be hard but I think they can, and it’s 1 game, anything can happen. The other two are Philadelphia at Orlando and Houston at Portland. Dwight Howard has been suspended for Game 6 and it’s in Philly so I am thinking that one is going to go to 7. I have a feeling Houston will finish off Portland in Game 6.

Who I want to win: Orlando
Who I think will win: Orlando

Who I want to win: Chicago
Who I think will win: Boston

Hawks/Canucks: The Kids Vs. Some More Canadia (e) ns

So you thought the Blackhawks/Flames series was rough and tumble? The Blackhawks/Canucks series should see the intensity taken up a notch. The Blackhawks and Canucks had a good ol' fashion line brawl (complete with hair pulling) in their final game of the regular season:

You wouldn’t even see hair pulling in the NBA, and that is saying something. I have been to tea parties (don’t ask) that are more physical (please do ask…women fighting women) than what takes place in NBA games. Don’t be mistaken by Burrows' hair pulling and the Sedin sisters presence; these Canucks are a rough group who have no problem mixing it up. Let’s get to match ups (from a Chicago perspective):

Blackhawk Forwards vs. Vancouver D:

The Blackhawks forwards were surprisingly physical in the first round series against the Canucks, but their strength remains their speed and skill. The St. Louis Blues were unable to make Vancouver pay on the power play in the first round this is one of the few keys to the series. The Blackhawks must continue to convert on the power play on a high clip. This is easier said then done when Roberto Luongo is staring you down like an Irishman eyeing the drink (I love the drink…yes THE DRINK). The line of Byfuglien, Pahlsson, and Versteeg (amazing only one Euro on that line; someone named Kris Versteeg should not be from western Canada) was arguably the Blackhawks most effective in the first round. This is where the Blackhawks have a distinct advantage over the Canucks: Scoring depth. The Blackhawks three lines must be able to consistently put pressure and create traffic in front of Luongo. The fourth line (Burish is such a sob…its great) must continue to play the irritating role they played to perfection.

Blackhawks D vs. Vancouver Forwards:
Can we have a moment of silence in honor of Brent Seabrook? What a f***ing series. He was my MVP for the first round as he played a shut d own role alongside Duncan Keith. They compliment each other so well and have started chatter about being a pair for Team Canada at next years Olympics. The Canucks will rely heavily on the Sedin sisters to carry the load, who surprisingly didn’t crumple like a deck of cards in the first round, and it will be up to Seabrook and Keith to mimic their success against the Iginla line in the first round. The mobile Hawks defensemen should present problems for Vancouver. Cam Barker and Brian Campbell (boo!!! If you love him just wait to see how his contract screws the cap next summer with Toews, Kane, and Keith set to be restricted/unrestricted free agents) must be strong in transition and provide offense from the point.

I really don’t feel like talking about how great Luongo is…so I won’t. The key to beating him will be traffic and getting pucks to the net (same as with every goalie). If he can see it he will stop it, he is the best goalie in the league (ok I lied, I had to say something about his greatness). The Blackhawks cannot fall into their tendency of trying to make the pretty play and instead must hammer the net.

Prediction time: This series is going to be a battle. The young and “inexperienced” Blackhawks proved to the hockey world they can not only stand up to a physical assault, but dish out some punishment of their own (Remember Bourque? Yea I don’t either after Burish broke his stick over him). The resiliency they showed in round 1 will lead them to ultimate victory in the series. Blackhawks in 7 (game 7 will be referred to as 'the apocalypse').

Oh and Khabibulin rocks….just not normally against the Canucks…let us never speak of that again.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Letter to David Stern

This is an actual letter I sent to David Stern.

David Stern,

First off I would like to say how much I have enjoyed watching the Boston Celtics and Chicago Bulls playoff series.

I consider myself a casual NBA fan at best. However, after last night’s games I am questioning whether I will ever watch, much less attend, another NBA game again. I know this isn’t the reason the Bulls lost the game, but Rajon Rondo’s foul at the end of the game was a blatant shot at Brad Miller’s head making no play on the ball. I understand that it’s a fast game and the refs have little time to react, but with time to look at the tape, if the NBA does not have some kind of punishment on Rondo I will never watch an NBA game again.

Then on top of that foul, I saw highlights of the Philadelphia 76ers and Orlando Magic game where Dwight Howard also gets away with a flagrant foul makes me question the legitimacy of NBA reffing.

Seeing two calls like this makes me think that Tim Donaghy isn’t the only ref with a hidden agenda. These types of calls make it look like the NBA is allowing their referees to dictate the NBA’s preferred match ups of Boston vs. Orlando, Boston vs. LA, Cleveland vs. LA, and Boston vs. Cleveland to improve their ratings. Well I know if these fouls go unpunished, there will be one household that will not be tuned in to any of these match ups.

Stephen Noffke

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Double Headers: Day Night or Back to Back, Which is Better?

Today the Chicago White Sox and Seattle Mariners are competing in event that has become rarer as of late. The two teams will be playing a back to back double header with game 2 starting 30 minutes after game 1. I know I have heard a lot of people as well as the talking heads on the radio and TV complaining that this doesn’t happen as much as it should anymore, and that Doubleheaders are a great part of the sport. I also have heard about some of my friends and talking heads on the radio and TV complaining about how long back to back doubleheaders are and how they didn’t stay for all of the games. So which side is right on the debate; Day Night or Back to Back? Well let’s take a look a the pros and cons of each.

The number one reason a team elects to do a day night doubleheader is CASH. The day night double header allows two games to be played in 1 day with the team still receiving two gates worth of cash. This is not possible in a back to back game since all the fans remain in the ball park during the break. Along with the gate, some of the fans won’t go to both the day and night games. This means that a whole new group of people will be coming into the stadium to buy merchandise and food from stadium vendors. This is good for the team, but bad for the fans. I’m sure you seen many articles like this about the topic over the course of the year especially with the economy. But yes, it is expensive to attend games today and having to pay twice in one day is something most fans do not want to do.

The best reason for the back to back games is for fans it’s a buy one, get one free scenario. Fans will pay the price for one game and get two. Teams will be bothered by the loss of gate, but there is still down time between games where the fans have nothing better to do then walk around the ball park and spend cash. This overlap could account for some gains in the loss of the gate. There is also a theory that says if fans were to receive free tickets they would more likely to be willing to spend extra money on parking and concessions. The same situation occurs here since fans are getting 2 games for 1.

Along with cash, the length is more ideal. Both the MLB and NCAA have looked into ways to shorten baseball games. The reason is they feel that games are too long to hold the attention of an average fan for the course of a 3 hour event. If MLB and the NCAA think 1 game is too long, how do they view two games? Two games back to back is a long time to sit and watch baseball in the stadium or at home. At home it’s convenient to just change the channel, but if you are at the stadium that means the fans would have to arrive late or leave early neither of which MLB teams want. Now even though the back to back situation may take too long, fans are happy that they at least have the option of staying or going. A fan who is planning on staying and watching both games doesn’t have to leave and come back, while the fan who only wants to watch 1 game can watch whatever game they please and leave when they want.

Beside MLB teams caring about their fans, they are also concerned about their players. Even though a 4-8 hour rest isn’t the same as a good nights rest, it allows players to rest more. This can allow them to get injuries looked at, stretched out more and prevent them from pushing to hard by playing through an injury and making it worse. However, in the back to back scenario players are already stretched out and warmed up and continuing playing can prevent them from tightening up. Also the rest is beneficial for bullpen pitchers. There is a chance that a pitcher will need to throw in both games. Managers might hesitate to bring in their best set up man in game 2 if he already pitched in game one 3 hours earlier.

As you can see there are some advantages and disadvantages of the day night doubleheader, the back to back also has good aspects as well bad aspects. So which one is better?

For me, I have to say I would prefer the back to back. I know this might have negative effects on my team. I know that it is a long time to go and watch a game. If I have the time for it, I would love to do so; and if I don’t have the time for it, as discussed before, I can leave when I want. Very few things sound better then sitting outside on a sunny day enjoying watching baseball for hours on end.

I do see and understand the reasons behind having a day night doubleheader and I can’t disagree with them. One of my friends went to Sox Park for a day night double header, made it there for first pitch for game 1. When the game ended, he head outside to his car where he spent the down time tailgaiting. Once game 2 was about to start, he packed up and headed back in to enjoy the second game. He told me it was on of his best times at the Ballpark. That sounds like an awesome time to me. I am not sure if they let you stay in the parking lot between games anymore but if they do, that situation sounds just as appealing as the first.

So what do you think? What would you rather attend? I’m sure there are plenty of other good reason for and against each situation so let me know what you think.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Bengals Cut A Couple Guys Bears Could Use

Just a quick note here. Following the draft, the Bengals cut ties with RB Chris Perry, a change-of-pace back with good hands and a propensity to get hurt, as well as S Mike Doss (Ohio State by way of Indianapolis). Chicago could do a lot worse than to sign either one of these guys on the cheap.

By the way, we came out of the sixth and seventh rounds with an Oregon State safety (Al Afalava, pictured), another WR from Pittsburgh (Derek Kinder), aaaaaaand.... a three-hundred pound tight end named Lance Louis from San Diego State, that cradle of pro players.

I went to the Men's Little Five Hundred on Saturday and, aside from the Cutters winning again (that makes three in a row) it was a great race! Props to Rich-Ross, Pete, Carson, and Nick for staying on the lead lap throughout and finishing seventh, as well as to the rest of the top nine teams who all finished within five seconds of each other. Gorgeous weather, great crowd, I was hoarse for two days. More coverage will be coming as soon as I get around to it! That's all for now.

Oh, and a link from my dad about Northwestern's new starting QB, Mike Kafka. What if I told you the 'Cats were starting a guy who rushed for 212 yards against Minnesota last year? Is that something you might be interested in?

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Bulls Even Series at 2-2

It was another overtime thriller in the Bulls-Celtics series today at the United Center.

That makes three out of four games that would definitely qualify as Instant Classics. The Bulls benefited from balanced scoring out of Rose, Gordon, and Hinrich (!), and some stellar defense, especially from our own 'love to hate' guy, Joakim Noah. All three of Noah, Ty Thomas, and Salmons got three blocks each.

I only got this game on for the second OT, as I am a horrible slacker and thought it was later tonight. Hopefully they replay it soon. I have a feeling they might.

Anyone see this whole game? Highlights?

EDIT: Bill Simmons has a looooong article on about this series. It was written before Game Three but still... good piece from one of our favorite guys.

Bears A Day Late To Christmas In April; The NFL Draft (Day Two)

After giving up a first and third rounder to land Jay Cutler, Jerry Angelo and the Bears elected to trade down out of the second round yesterday, perhaps not seeing anyone they really wanted with that late second round selection.

I hope Angelo had a nice day off to play some golf.

Today it was down to business as the Chicago brain trust actually began making a whole bunch of selections. I believe the Bears have nine picks today and the draft is currently into the sixth round. Here's who we have added.

Jarron Gilbert, a DT/DE from San Jose State, was picked up with the 68th overall pick (fourth in the third round ). This is the guy that famously jumped out of a pool on YouTube. Ridiculous athleticism. Rod Marinelli better coach him up because he also has a rep as an underachiever.

Oklahoma wideout Juaquin Iglesias came on board late in the third round, with the 99th overall pick (added when the Bears lost Bernard Berrian in free agency). His positives are a productive college career including a few very big games. His negatives include being only six feet tall. Are we goanna run the spread next year?

Fourth round (105 overall)– Henry Melton, DE from Texas. I got nothing on this guy but his college stats are pretty weak. Trust the Angelo, I guess! Cedric Benson didn't work out for us, but Vasher has been good as a fourth rounder out of Texas.

Fourth round (119 overall)– DJ Moore, CB from Vandy. I think this is a steal. Moore had a great college career (thirteen INTS, also returned kicks and even played a little receiver) but didn't blow anyone away at the combine. Chicago has to have the most Vandy-heavy lineup in the league. (pictured)

Fifth round (140 overall)– Johnny Knox, WR from Abilene Christian. Another very quick but undersized guy to go with Hester. Again, are we planning on running the spread? Check out that CNNSI breakdown (linked) for detailed info. They have good draft breakdowns.

Fifth round (154)– Marcus Freeman, OLB from Ohio State. Great career at TOSU, playing next to James Laurinaitis. Wasn't as good as a senior, which hurt his stock. Again, undersized at right around six feet. Then again, so is Lance Briggs.

The Bears have a couple more picks left in the sixth and seventh rounds and I would like to see them target a few offensive linemen for depth. You can see the best available remaining players here.

A fun link from the Chicago Tribune (thanks to AK Stunna), going over some of Jerry's Hits and Misses over the years.