Results tagged ‘ NBA ’

Dominance Defined

There’s a difference between dominating and being dominant.  Anyone can dominate for a moment but being dominant is something else all together.  Jeremy Lin dominated for a few games.  Michael Jordan was dominant.  The other night Felix Hernandez proved that he’s not only capable of dominating but that he is dominant.  Other players have made that jump as well but as much as it has to do with skill, it also has a lot to do with attitude.

Let’s try to break it down a little.

This is dominant:

This is not:

Dominant:

Not so dominant:

And just in case it still isn’t quite clear, here’s one more example.

New-school dominance:

Old-school dominance:

I think that about sums it up.

-A

A Pastime Passed Over

Baseball as a sport spends a lot of its time playing catch up.  It used to be the national pastime but arguably it has lost that title to either the NBA, the NFL or NASCAR.  It hasn’t captured the world’s attention in the same way that soccer has and even cricket has more global adherents (although that is admittedly due to its huge popularity in India and Pakistan).

I think a lot of it has to do with the habits of baseball players.  It’s easy to relate to NASCAR because they’re the children of former booze-running outlaws.  Add in it’s rowdy, beer-swilling redneck fanbase and you have a populist’s wet dream.

The NBA has a different kind of allure.  It’s a mix of the hard-scrabble blacktop game along with the finesse and graceful elegance of of today’s elite players.  Is there any other league that has more marijuana violations than the NBA?  I’m guessing no and that reflects an America that has also grown more lenient towards the “devil weed.”

Baseball?  You’ve got PED’s and frat boys drinking overpriced beer.  That’s the America we laugh at, not the America we want to be part of.  We like our sports to have a bit of an edge.  The reason people hate Mark Sanchez isn’t because he’s a sub-par quarterback with a questionable work ethic.  We’d put up with that if he inspired us.  But he spends more time posing for magazines than he does winning football games.  Yes, I know he’s led his team to the AFC Championship game twice but I think we can all agree that it wasn’t so much that he led them as it was him following them there.

Baseball right now is kind of like Mark Sanchez.  It doesn’t have the edge.  It doesn’t make you believe.  That’s why it’s fun to hate the Yankees but its so much more fun to hate the Heat.  My solution?  Bring back Manny and give him lots of weed.

-A

The Filibuster

Did Ken Kendrick cross the line on his Stephen Drew comments?

Mitchell
Wheaton, IL

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There are a lot of really terrible owners out there.  Of course the one that has most directly affected baseball fans in the recent past is Frank McCourt and his incredible mismanagement of the Dodgers’ franchise.  The fact that the man was able to exit with cash in his pocket just illustrates how wrong that situation was.  But he’s not the only one.  The Pirates have also been victims of poor ownership while the NBA’s Clippers were known almost as much for their tight-fisted owner as they were for their years of ineptitude and sub-.500 records.

Ken Kendrick, though, he cares about his team.  See, Kendrick isn’t just an owner, he’s also the managing partner, responsible for the day-to-day decisions that make a baseball team profitable in the global sense of the term.  And let’s face it, there’s a lot that goes in to making a baseball team profitable.  As an owner, you have to manage your assets and liabilities in such a way that you keep more cash flowing in than is flowing out, not always an easy prospect in these days of overinflated salaries.

The best way to ensure that your team remains profitable is to win.  Fans like to come see winning teams and winning teams can also charge more for tickets and merchandise.  There’s a reason why the cost of Yankees’ tickets goes up year after year while teams like the Pirates and Royals stay relatively constant.  There’s also a reason why the Yankees, despite their enormous payroll, are still one of the most profitable teams in the game.  It helps when you can broadcast most of your games on your own television station but when you’re also selling out the stadium for every game, that makes a big difference.

Which brings me back to Kendrick.  Arizona is not a huge baseball market like the coasts or Chicago.  However, Arizona has had a good baseball team and a baseball team that brings people to the stadium.  Hiring pitchers like Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling helped but as those days are gone, the D-Backs have to rely on new young talent to put butts in the seats.  Talent like Stephen Drew.  So, when Stephen Drew doesn’t play, the D-Backs don’t do as well and they also don’t put as many butts in the seats.  This in turn makes the franchise less profitable, a fact of which the managing partner is very aware.

Drew’s 2012 salary is $7.75 million.  He’s the highest paid player on the team and accounts for over 10% of the Diamondback’s payroll.  He also hasn’t played a game for the Diamondbacks in nearly a year.  As an owner, and especially as the managing partner, I imagine that would not sit so well.  Sure, Drew had a pretty bad injury but he has the best doctors in the game working on him and if his boss says that he’s way over schedule for his return, well, I’m inclined to agree with him.

So, did Kendrick cross a line in his comments on Drew?  In my opinion, no.  He’s a frustrated manager who doesn’t believe his employee is acting in good faith and those actions are affecting the businesses profitability.  Sounds like he has every right to be honked off.

-A

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Ambassador Bryce Harper

When most people hear the word “diplomat,” they experience a faint sensation of cocktail parties and a life on the international jet-setting circuit.  But if you ever wondered exactly what a diplomat does, this recent account of the negotiations surrounding a Chinese dissidents departure for the U.S. is nothing short of fascinating.  However, I still think the best work done by America’s Foreign Service is its sports diplomacy programs.  In China this meant building on the opportunity offered by Yao Ming and bringing over other NBA stars.

In Latin America these programs go under the name “baseball diplomacy.”  It makes sense.  Most MLB teams have at least a scout and sometimes an entire infrastructure in Latin American countries in order to seek out and recruit promising young talent.  Why not build on those ties by using the baseball players as ambassadors of American good-will?  I’m pretty sure there’s no better way to illustrate the American Dream than by sending guys who are actually living it.

The only problem is, the guy who is truly living the dream right at this very moment hails from the U.S. of A., not Latin America.  Seriously, does it get any better than being Bryce Harper?  The guy is nineteen years old, talented beyond belief and finds himself playing on a team that seems to have finally put the pieces together.  Not bad for a guy who still can’t legally drink and who only recently became eligible to vote.  Oh, and I forgot to mention this:

Yep, I’m pretty sure I’d take “being a ballplayer” over “being a diplomat” any day of the week.

-A

The Filibuster

Looks like MLB is going to televise the first part of the draft again.  Will Bud ever learn?

Jack
Bridgeview, IL
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When people want to explain how boring something is, they often resort to the idiom “Like watching paint dry.”  Well, compared to the MLB draft, watching paint dry is edge-of-your-seat, action packed drama.  The sad thing is, that doesn’t mean Bud won’t keep on trying.

We all know the problem.  Succeeding in baseball requires development and in all but the rarest of cases, it’s pretty much impossible for a player to jump directly to the big leagues and make an immediate impact.  There are a lot of adjustments that even the best ballplayers have to make before they’re ready to succeed in the majors.  Bud has been in the game a long time and he obviously knows this but something keeps him from accepting it.

I’m not sure what it is.  Maybe it’s an inferiority complex because of the craziness and drama inherent to the NFL and NBA drafts.  Maybe it’s an inability to accept that baseball is different.  Maybe it’s just that Bud is completely out of touch and has made a lot of bad decisions that should have long ago cost him his job.  Whatever it is, it means that once again the MLB draft will be televised and once again no one but the absolute junkies will tune in.  Don’t tell him I said this but I bet you that not even Jeff will watch.  Yeah, it’s that boring.

Don’t get me wrong here.  The draft is important and when you look at the recent success of this year’s National’s ballclub, it’s obvious how important a good draft strategy can be.  But just because the future success of a team depends on the players a team chooses, that doesn’t mean the process is all that exciting to watch.  We know the basketball players from following them through the NCAAs.  We know the football players from the bowl games and college football saturdays.  Baseball players?  These are guys coming out of random colleges, even more random Latin American development leagues and god knows where else.  There’s no story attached to them until they make it to the big leagues.

Let me put it another way.  We all know about Len Bias and his cocaine overdose death.  Bias never played a day in the NBA but is still spoken of with reverence.  Meanwhile, until he made it to the major leagues, Josh Hamilton was just another talented athlete with substance abuse problems.  If Hamilton hadn’t have made the bigs, he’d simply be in rehab somewhere or out on the streets.

I know what Bud’s doing here.  He thinks that he can drive revenue growth by trying to create drama around the sorting process.  But you have to be invested in a person’s story in order for there to be drama.  We don’t know anything about these young baseball players so there’s no drama in watching them get drafted.  Or perhaps it’s more accurate to say there’s about as much drama as watching paint dry.

-A

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The Filibuster

If you were in the A’s bleacher section, and you could only choose one, would it be bacon or beer?

Mark
New Albany, IN

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Jeff continuously tells me how engaging the NBA has become.  According to him, it’s not just the quality of the professional game, it’s also the personalities and all the drama surrounding them.  To use a direct quote, “It’s a goddamn soap opera.”

Baseball, on the other hand, is rather tame.  Sure, there are historic villains like Ty Cobb and uplifting stories like Jackie Robinson and Josh Hamilton.  But it’s all kind of “Touched by an Angel” while the NBA is more “The Wire.”

The perfect example of this is Jeff Francoeur and his love affair with the Oakland fans.  Sure, it’s great that Francoeur has made a personal connection with the fans of another team.  But is that really good for baseball?  Wouldn’t it be better if Francoeur had left Oakland after coming up with the team and was greeted by a beer shower while trotting along the warning track?

That kind of rancor just doesn’t exist in baseball today.  Albert Pujols left behind a city that adored him and although St. Louis fans are heart-broken, most of them still respect Albert and remember him fondly.  Johnny Damon not only left the Red Sox, he went to play for their arch-enemy and shaved his beard.  Boston fans were upset but they didn’t hate him with the cold intense hatred that Cleveland has for LeBron James.

Maybe it’s because baseball is played in summer and draws families out to watch games together.  Maybe it’s the stir-craziness of winter and the 60 minute intensity of a basketball game that creates an aura around the game as a whole.  Or maybe baseball just doesn’t have the same type of personalities you find in basketball.  Let’s be honest, how often do you hear about a baseball player choking his coach or punching out a fan?

I don’t see that changing.  Sure, I’d love to say that if I was one of those fans in Oakland, I’d keep the money and throw the baseball back.  The fact is, though, I’d be thrilled to death.  And that’s not just because being an A’s fan is even worse than being a Royals fan.

Somebody needs to spice things up a bit, give people a reason to hate.  And no, I’m not talking about Milton Bradley, preschool-esque drama.  I’m talking pure, LeBron James type anger.  I think Francoeur has a golden opportunity to start it off, too, by taking that relationship he has built with the Oakland fans and totally misusing it.  In fact, I even have the perfect recipe:

I bet no one would choose a caramel onion.

-A

Have a topic you want to see us Filibuster? Send us your Filibuster questions by emailing RSBSblog@gmail.com or by commenting below.

Intangibility

If you were to build the ideal baseball player, you probably wouldn’t come up with Dustin Pedroia.  He’s too small and he just doesn’t look like how a ballplayer should look.  Likewise, you probably wouldn’t come up with CC Sabathia either.  Dude has a huge gut and looks like a whale.

Most likely, if you were constructing the ideal baseball player, you’d come up with someone like Kyle Farnsworth, all six-and-a-half worthless feet of him.  Of course, you’d also then be saddled with his contract and seemingly uncanny ability to melt down in important games.

So why is it that Farnsworth is an object of ridicule (at least here at RSBS) while Pedroia is a former MVP and Sabathia is one of the most consistently good pitchers in baseball?  Well, it’s the same reason that Jeremy Lin happened in the US of A and could never happen in China.  It’s the intangibles that make athletes great and if there’s one thing that we do well in America, it’s the intangibles.

You can have your Yao Mings and your Kyle Farnsworths.  Me, I’ll take my Cecil Fielders and David Wells.  And I bet you ten yuan I’ll win.

-A

G’head, Jeremy, Yer Doin’ It Right!

Move over, Keith, there’s a new number 17 in town and he’s got everyone going so LINsane that those all-night disco-caine parties from ’86 look like an afternoon tea.  That’s right, folks.  Just when you thought you might finally be over that Tim Tebow hangover, in walks the first EVER American born Chinese to play in the NBA.  And boy can he play!

(If you don’t know who Jeremy Lin is by now, then it’s time to OPEN YOUR EYES)

Don’t worry, I’m not gonna go into some long philosophical diatribe on how Lin’s soft swishing three serves as the perfect metaphor for a hard-working, faith-based US American populous because, as you might already know, THAT’S CRAZY TALK.

What I am going to do is urge you to jump on board the LINvincible Train so you’re not all alone out there on Planet Boring.  Besides overusing the same lame LIN puns, the LINvincible Train also features dramatic spin-moves and celebrity bandwagoneers… like the Colorado Rockies’ Jeremy Guthrie!

It’s amazing what getting out of Baltimore can do for a pitcher’s offseason creativity.

G’head, Jeremy!  Yer doin’ it right!

Hate me ‘cuz you can, just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.

Peace,

Jeff

Stay On Target

The Super Bowl serves as an excellent signpost for the “we’re almost there” point of the MLB offseason.  Once the big game is over, I know it’s only a matter of days before pitchers and catchers report to spring training and some real baseball action presents itself.  This is a good thing, particularly this year, because I am running out of episodes of Glee (don’t judge) and Breaking Bad to watch, and the Bulls don’t play every single day.

I wish they did!

In fact, this year, the NBA has done a fine job of keeping my attention.  After a 10 year hiatus, all it took for me to care about the league again was a universal villain in the Miami Scheme Team paired with a plethora of explosive, young talent (Derrick Rose, Kevin Durant, Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, Russell Westbrook, etc.).  It still doesn’t compare to the sensational grind of 162, but the kind of drama that creeps out of this modern NBA is as close to the old World Wrestling Federation as one can find in any legitimate league.

And, of course, there’s always this:

And this:

And this:

I know it’s Hydrox cookies in place of Oreos, but until the Oreo season gets started again, the Hyrdox highlights are taming my appetite for excitement.

Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.

Peace,

Jeff

It’s My Party and I’ll Gloat If I Want To

Only a few weeks remain before pitchers and catchers report to spring training, which means we’re that much closer to the 2012 baseball season beginning with the St. Louis Cardinals reigning as CHAMPIONS OF THE UNIVERSE!!!

Hot dog!  What more could a Fredbird fanatic like myself ask for on his birthday?

How about a decent bullpen?

*POOF*

And there it is: a beautiful, beautiful bullpen!  Fernando Salas, Lance Lynn, Scrabble.  And Motte to close?!?!  Wow!

I have to go back many years (at the height of Izzy-mania to be exact) to remember going into spring training sans a bullpen worry (or nightmare).  Having a closer whose calling card is missing bats is just the exclamation point!!!

And now for something completely different:

Happy Friday!

Jeff

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