Saturday, October 30, 2010

LeBron James' Giddy Acting Scene Doesn't Help His Image

When last we heard from LeBron James (you know, the most annoying drama queen in sports), he announced his decision in a one-hour, free-agency spectacle where he callously abandoned the faithful people who adored him.

It used to be acceptable to commend James on his skills, until he divulged that he’d be joining forces with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh to form arguably the greatest trio all-time in basketball. James, once the most global icon lauded in sports, is now the evilest villain in sports and has become the most hated ballplayer in the history of the NBA, ever since incorporating The Miami Thrice makeover with two marquee players.

During his bizarre transition over the summer, I’ve defended for James as everyone else unfairly ripped the forward for leaving his home town and revealing his next home by grabbing the spotlight on television. Suddenly, he is a nuisance. He needs to cease releasing commercial ads, at the expense of Nike’s creativity, and just play basketball.

All of us eventually will become tired and burnt out by his corny acting and silly stunts in promoting his stylish shoes. The latest ad, which is uncalled for, wrongly rips Charles Barkley and Michael Jordan for criticizing The Decision—a terrible move when he’s already disliked.

The tube seems to be his primary source whenever he is seeking to desperately preserve all the limelight, which is turning old and tiring. So the public is forced to glance at his overblown Nike ad, and laugh at his arrogance. He is clearly a pariah in any town besides South Beach, where he’s welcomed and honored as if he’s the royal king of the league.

He is essentially disowned unless he’s resting or relaxing by the shores of Miami. Suddenly, he is the most polarizing athlete to ever play the game.

Sure he’s very fun to watch for his finesse tricks, dynamic passing and high-flying dunks, but aside from it all, he’s bombastic and will always be perceived as a villain unless he adjusts his personality and helps repair his damaged image. But until then, he is doing nothing to revitalize his name.

If he truly wanted to protect his reputation, he would quit lashing out and shooting obnoxious commercials and instead play basketball with his new team in Miami.

Can he make such an adjustment?

Sure, he can.

He’s clearly childish, but not juvenile like the bitter Cleveland fans that night when they pathetically burned expensive No. 23 jersey and threw rocks at his mural.

His television displays are getting out of control, but television wants you to believe that he’s a godlike specimen who is untouchable and invincible. Being portrayed as the global magnet in basketball gives his critics more reason to hate him. The vast majority of sports fans want him to fail and lose with the Heat.

I don’t.

The vast majority of sports fans are ready to laugh if the trio accomplishes anything other than a championship. The vast majority of sports fans are ready to make a mockery of his giddy transition, if all things suddenly fail. The vast majority of sports fans are ready to overact and exaggerate, if he does win a title alongside two superstars.

I’m not.

So did he give up his claim to all-time greatness?

Not necessarily.

But he will destroy his image if he continues to unleash his ads on television. Sometimes, you need to keep your mouth shut and play the game. Then, maybe good things will happen. It means he could save his legacy and prove otherwise to Barkley after he laughed and ridiculed James following his first lost in his debut with the Heat, coming against the ageless Boston Celtics.

If this really is a team gifted with raw talent and All-Star intangibles, then there’s no denying that the Heat are worthy of finishing the regular-season atop the East and possibly even meeting the defending champs in the NBA Finals come June. In the meantime, LeBron will have to put aside the acting stunts and end a ruckus or else the Heat can easily falter. Put the circus to rest and the comical tales aside.

In truth, we admired LeBron better as a puppet than a wannabe actor.

If anything, lose the donuts and gulp on cookies with Kobe on strings.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Giants' Matt Cain Treats San Francisco to Party Near Bay

In a town that really knows how to party, Giants fans are throwing an after-party by the bay, thrilled by the San Francisco Giants' captivating turnaround. In every sense, the city has been a lively, festive place with Halloween looming ever closer and die-hard fans wearing costumes or rowing into McCovey Cove, the waterway near the gorgeous ballpark at the bay.

Every night has felt like a party in the Bay Area, and it has been fun to watch the World Series generate action-packed drama and a beautiful tale. On another pleasant night, the Giants ignited yet another party and continued their World Series awakening with nearly every swing. It’s no coincidence that the Giants are the best ballclub to return to the Fall Classic, hitting the Texas Rangers, a ballclub that shed the misery and gruesome memories of postseason failures, harder than ever when much is at stake.

The wildest and most raucous fans in the majors waved orange pom-poms in the stands and were even more exhilarated to cheer on a 9-0 shutout over the Rangers that gave the Giants a 2-0 series lead. For once Thursday night, the Giants were taken seriously and capped one of the most lopsided wins in recent World Series history.

What we learned after this game is that Matt Cain is the latest version of Mr. October. His curly hairstyle reminds us of Larry from the Three Stooges, but his untouchable pitches remind us of a Most Valuable Player. For six-plus innings, he looked spectacular and too lethal to outduel with his usual fastball and incredible calmness on the mound. He could easily be named the next World Series MVP courtesy of his superb pitching in the postseason if the Giants win a title.

The Rangers were 0-7 with runners in scoring position against Cain, who made a vivid statement that he is the best pitcher this fall, clearly better than Roy Halladay or Tim Lincecum. As baseball’s next legend ripens before our very eyes, Cain is more than a talented pitcher, but a gifted pitcher within a franchise suddenly relishing a fascinating moment in recent memory.

As for Cain, of course, it was merely another flawless start, and he is still untouchable without allowing an earned run in the postseason. What should be memorable for the average Giants fan is that Cain has an astonishing 0.00 ERA. That is, of course, a rarity in the fall, but not when Cain is capable of throwing his fastballs on both sides of the plate, not when he wears an intimidating stare and shuts down the powerful lineup.

“We’ve put ourselves in a good situation,” said Cain. “We’ve just got to take that confidence and some of the good approaches that we’ve had into these last two games and take them down to Texas with us.”

When he left the game following 7 2/3 sterling innings, to be anointed with a standing ovation, he tipped his cap to the energized fan base, and one fan hoisted a sign that read, “Cain’t touch this.” There was even a sea of pom-poms wildly swinging to string together the craziest frenzy. Cain is barely 26, but is already close to winning his first World Series. He’s barely in his prime, but his legend is growing rapidly with a franchise that could eventually lavish him with an enormous deal.

With all the drama, he’s more valuable than Lincecum, the ace of the Giants who really isn’t the noteworthy ace but overshadowed by a more superior starter in the rotation. And finally this year, Cain, the longest-tenured Giant, is pitching a gem, not any longer relying on luck or talent. Last season, Cain was mentored by Randy Johnson, who taught him about being a starter. Cain must have listened; he is arguably the best pitcher on the Giants alongside Lincecum and the frightening closer Brian Wilson.

“He did a really good job of emphasizing to stay deep in the game…instead of trying to change the ball in different guys’ hands,” Cain said. “Not trying to say anything…but sometimes those guys might not be feeling good.”

This postseason, no one can match Cain’s resiliency and invincibility. He hasn’t allowed an earned run in his last 21.1 innings and owns a 2-0 record in his first three postseason starts. Thirty-five year old Edgar Renteria drove a fastball off C.J. Wilson over the left-field wall for a fifth-inning solo home run. But the real damage came in the eighth inning, the one inning that seemed to be a nightmare from Hell. As Wilson was removed from the sixth with a blister, Cain found his moment to shine.

“He’s probably been our most consistent pitcher,” said Giants manager Bruce Bochy. “He’s such a bulldog…He should be recognized.”

By now, he’s recognized.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Money May or May Not Improve Quality of Sports

Money has the power to improve sports in terms of upgrading or building new facilities at both college and professional levels. Money investments in technology such as replay do improve sports to make sure the call is made correctly on the field. Financial investments to improve medicine has helped extend the careers of players that would have normally had their careers ended by certain injuries.
stacks Pictures, Images and Photos
However, money doesn’t always improve sports on the playing field in terms of how each team competes. In addition, players can feel disrespected by their organization because it is unwilling to pay them what they are looking for. Also, available money may not be used to benefit players for the long term, one specific example is that of the National Football League’s inability to pay former players disability.
One way to improve sports with money is building new stadiums or renovating outdated facilities. Great facilities bodes well for teams in helping either land a free agent at the professional level or at the college level bringing in recruits for visits to the school.
Yet, just because there’s a new facility it doesn’t mean the actual team is going to improve the play on the field. The Washington Nationals baseball team had a brand new stadium built in 2008, but it hasn’t meant success for the Nationals organization with winning. So far the Nationals have an average of 59 wins the two years of their stadium’s existence.
The New York Mets baseball team in 2009 opened a new stadium and the team didn’t do too well either winning only 70 games. On the other hand the New York Yankees also opened a new stadium in 2009 and eventually ended up winning the World Series.
shea and citi Pictures, Images and Photos
For the University of California the school had been trying for years to renovate Memorial Stadium where the team plays football. The school had to fight lawsuits for years to begin building a new facility and renovating Memorial Stadium. Last year the school won the lawsuit and got the go ahead to start building the new facility as well as the renovations to the stadium.
California’s reason for renovating Memorial Stadium was to be able to compete with other Pac-10 teams in the recruiting process. California is not the only team in the Pac-10 that is renovating their facilities. The University of Arizona in the upcoming year will also begin renovations on their stadium.
The reason for the renovations is that it’s becoming harder and harder to compete in the Pac-10 conference with aging stadiums.
Cal Pictures, Images and Photos

Financial investments in technology are also playing a much bigger role in sports. There are plenty of examples of how sports use costly technology, specifically replay, to their advantage.
For tennis replay can be used to determine whether a ball was in or out.
Football regardless of college or at the professional level have the ability to make sure that calls are made correctly with replay. Although, there are rules that limit the use of replay so it doesn’t slow down the pace of the game too much. Examples of such plays that are usually reviewed are fumbles, interceptions, and catches.
Basketball has even got into using instant replay on a few select plays, such as reviewing whether a shot that was close to the three point line was a three or if the players foot was on the line. The other play that is reviewable in basketball is during the last seconds of any quarter to make sure a player made the shot before time had expired.
The National Hockey League uses replay to make sure that a puck goes over the goal line. That’s the only play that I’ve really seen where replay is used in the NHL.
Major League Baseball is the only sport that has really had a hard time implementing replay. Last year MLB finally instituted replay for homerun calls to make sure the ball was hit s fair or foul and also making sure that a ball did clear the outfield fence, or to make sure a fan didn’t reach over into the field of play.

replay 1 Pictures, Images and Photos
After the playoffs and a seemingly endless string of bad calls made by umpires there were renewed calls for replay to be expanded. There’s no question that it should be. It shouldn’t be for balls and strikes though, but it should be for close plays at any base and whether the ball is fair or foul in regards to balls hit down the foul line.
For the NFL, college football, and the NHL it means that there’s an extra official that gets paid to view the play when a request for replay is made. They are the ones responsible for either correcting the call made on the field or changing the call that was made.
In MLB and the NBA the umpires and referees get to look at the replay and make the determination to whether the call was correct or not.
I believe the biggest improvement in sports where money is concerned has been the in the investment to advance the field of Sports Medicine. There are injuries that occur that would have ended or derailed the careers of players, but after the rehab process these players are coming back better than before their injuries.
An example of this is of Frank Gore who suffered not one but two serious knee injuries while at the University of Miami. The San Francisco 49ers took a chance on Gore by drafting him in the third round even though he was a first round talent before the injuries. Most often when serious injuries occur like that of Gore teams tend to stay clear of those players, but Gore has proved the doubters wrong and he has become arguably the greatest running back in 49ers franchise history.
Frank Gore Pictures, Images and Photos
There has been a surgery recently that has helped players extend careers because before this type of surgery came into play it would have meant knee replacement surgery, which would have ended the careers of those players. The costly type of surgery that is now being used is microfracture surgery.
What this surgery entails according to is the surgeon will make very small holes into the bone near damaged cartilage in the knee. Those holes are called microfractures and it helps the bone produce new cartilage.
Kevin Everett suffered a terrible spinal injury in a game in 2008 for the Buffalo Bills. His injury that he suffered normally would have meant that he would have been paralyzed, but thanks to the advancement of medicine and the way Everett was treated on the field after months of rehabilitation he was able to walk again.
kevin everett Pictures, Images and Photos
A perfect example of how money does not improve sports is the example of the NBA Draft. The reason for this is the “one and done” rule which basically was instituted to stop high school players from jumping straight to the NBA.
This rule was created for the 2006 NBA draft and it states that in order for a player to enter the draft they must be 19 years of age, be one year removed from their high school graduating class, or play at least one year of college basketball. Before the rule change to enter the draft a player had to be at least 18 years of age.
With the new rule in place it has created issues at the college level. It means that there’s a lot more recruiting that has to be done for schools which costs money. Even with the recruiting there’s no guarantee that a player is going to stay more than a year, so college teams are now trying to find as much talent as possible in hopes of having these talented players for just one year.
Recently there have been two highly publicized incidents involving two of the better talents in college basketball. Each of those players left after one year for the NBA.
These incidents that each player was involved in are considered significant rule violations that could result in major sanctions for each college program limiting those schools ability to recruit players. One of those schools has already received sanctioning from the NCAA.
The player was Derrick Rose who played his only season of college basketball at the University of Memphis. He has been accused of having an invalidated test score which would have made Rose ineligible to play at Memphis. During his time at Memphis he helped lead the team to a 38 win season and into the NCAA Championship game where Rose and Memphis lost to Kansas.
Derrick Rose Pictures, Images and Photos
According to the article written by Jeff Goodman in August of 2009 titled “NCAA Strips Memphis of ’08 season” Rose allegedly cheated on his SAT test to gain admission into Memphis. So, the NCAA issued their ruling back in August on the punishment Memphis should be given. The NCAA stripped Memphis of all 38 wins and placed the team on three years probation.
O.J. Mayo who was an even more highly sought after player had more serious charges leveled against him. In the article written by Jack Carey of USA Today, Mayo reportedly received gifts and up to $30,000 while he was still in high school. So, far there hasn’t been any punishment handed down to USC by the NCAA because the schools and the NCAA are still looking into the matter.
OJ Mayo Pictures, Images and Photos
So, the rule the NBA has created for players wanting to enter the draft have hurt the image of the NBA because of these controversies. There are questions of to why not just let high school players enter the draft?
The answer to that question is actually an easy one to answer. There’s actually a quote from Pete Newell in regards to the NBA that answers why high school players and even players who have gone to college for a year should not be in the NBA.
Newell states "Players today have increased physical skills, but basketball skills have diminished, I resent the fact that many of them take the game for granted. It starts at the top, though. It's an overpriced, corporate-dominated business run by lawyers who have a bad product, and don't know how to fix it."
In terms of the second part of the quote about the NBA being a corporate-dominated business you can look no further to Lebron James. Before he even stepped foot on the basketball court he received a seven-year $90 million dollar contract with Nike.
When you look at the first part of the quote it fits perfectly in regards to James. What makes James a great player isn’t his tremendous skills on the court, but his athleticism. He has the ability to get to the rim on anyone in the league because of his strength.
All teams have to do though is play back on defense and force James to shoot. James does not have a mid-range jump shot and he doesn’t shoot very well from beyond the three point line. He does have tremendous peripheral vision, so he does have the ability to pass the ball and find open teammates, but that’s predicated on him being so dangerous at getting to the rim.
If James suffered a serious injury that affected his athleticism he would have a much harder time as a player in regards to being able to score because he wouldn’t be able to get to the rim like he had before and would have to rely on his jump shot.
Lebron James Pictures, Images and Photos
James isn’t the only player in the NBA that has this problem either. A majority of NBA players really in this era would have struggled to find a roster spot in previous eras. Yet, NBA players are being paid a lot more money than any other era. So, really it hasn’t improved the game of basketball it actually has made it worse.
For MLB it’s a little bit different in terms of how money is used in the sport. There are small market teams and there are teams in larger markets. In terms of small markets the Oakland A’s, Florida Marlins, and Minnesota Twins are put in the small market category. The Philadelphia Phillies, Boston Red Sox, and the New York Yankees would be considered large market franchises.
For the small market teams the philosophy is to develop their young talent and on occasion spend money to keep a key player or bring in a player that is an essential need, but they will try not to overpay for players.
oakland Pictures, Images and Photos
The philosophy for a larger market team is to spend as much money as possible in hopes that the player will sign. This leads to the belief that teams in larger markets are waiting for talent to develop and then buying the best team possible. Overspending isn’t considered a problem to the large market teams unless the player is not producing on the field.
NEW YORK YANKEES Pictures, Images and Photos
Looking at the NCAA specifically at college football one of the biggest issues is how the National Champion is determined. Unlike basketball, baseball, and hockey there is no playoff system, which is inexcusable. Instead the NCAA uses what is known as the Bowl Championship Series (BCS).
The BCS uses three components that are weighted equally according to it includes the Harris Interactive College Football Poll, USA Today Coaches Poll, and an average of six computer rankings.
With this system in place the NCAA according to the site last year the BCS made 1.2 billion dollars from the bowl games. So, it’s really not a surprise that the NCAA doesn’t want to implement a playoff system if the current system that the NCAA is using is making money.
BCS Pictures, Images and Photos
Even with the money being made by the NCAA, Dan Wetzel points out in his article titled “Wetzel’s Playoff Plan: Money Talks” he quotes a Sports Illustrated poll that states 90 percent of college football fans are opposed to the BCS.
Also, Congress has chosen to take a deeper look at the BCS. Joe Barton the committee chairman was quoted as saying "Too often college football ends in sniping and controversy, rather than winners and losers. The current system of determining whose number one appears deeply flawed." This quote is from the Associated Press article “Congress to look into ‘Deeply Flawed’ BCS System.”
According to the BCS organization website the belief is that the BCS is succeeding based on the fact that since the BCS inception in 1998 eight times the number one and number two ranked teams in the country played in the National Championship game.
Not mentioned on the website for the BCS is the fact that there have been other teams that were just as deserving of the chance to play in the National Championship game. For example the University of Southern California in 2008 should have been a team that went to the National Championship game.
It has been incredibly hard since the BCS implementation to state that the team that has won the National Championship has been the best team in college football. USC arguably was playing the best football in the country at the end of the 2008 season and into the Rose Bowl where USC annihilated Penn State and further provided proof that USC was the best team in the country.
So, the BCS does allow for the NCAA to gain an exceptional amount of money thanks to advertising and the number of bowl games, but the actual system in place has not improved the way teams are selected to play in the National Championship game.
Now, one of the best things about college sports is the fact that college athletes are not paid to play. One of the biggest differences in professional sports and college sports is the fact that a college player has no problem giving their best effort game in and game out because if the players don’t give their best effort they may find themselves sitting on the bench.
College basketball’s March Madness is one of the best ways to see college athletes giving everything they have. What makes March Madness even better is that there are teams usually referred to as “Cinderella teams.” These teams are usually from much smaller conferences that make the tournament of 64, but they shock the nation by how well they play and end up taking down a team from a major conference for a major upset.
Adam Morrison Crying hahahha Pictures, Images and Photos
In theory these teams are not supposed to beat teams from a major conference, but each year these schools find ways to defeat those teams and create recognition for themselves.
As for money in the NFL there’s two significant things that really does damage to the image of the NFL. The first is that the contracts in the NFL are not guaranteed. The second is the neglect of former NFL players by not approving disability claims.
There are plenty of examples of how badly the NFL has neglected former players. There’s a great article written on the subject by Paul Solotaroff of the Men’s Journal titled “Casualties of the NFL.”
Solotaroff uses the example of Brian DeMarco, Terry Long, Andre Waters, and a number of other players to show just how badly the NFL and the NFL Players Association have treated these individuals.
Brian DeMarco 95 SP Championship Series Pictures, Images and Photos
The article also introduces the Gridiron Greats Foundation, which has done more for these former players than the NFL has done. I think that the best part of the foundation is its mission statement which can be found on the website
The statement is this “The Gridiron Greats Assistance Fund’s mission is to assist retired NFL players, who are in dire health and financial distress by providing a means to regain a semblance of dignity and quality of life that every human being deserves. The Fund will support grant applicants through a series of conventional and non conventional fund raising efforts while calling attention to those in need through partnership programs, licensing efforts and public relations events with the set goal of expanding the Funds assets through partnerships with the National Football League and the National Football League Players Association and Alumni”.
But, even more powerful for one to see on the website of the Gridiron Greats is the stories of former players and just what they’ve gone through with no help from the NFL. It definitely gives a fan a much different perspective of the league. This is about money and the only way for the NFL to improve its image is to start doing a better job of accepting disability claims from former players.
Money does play a role in improving sports, but really at only two levels. The technological level where plays can be reviewed to make sure the call are correct. Sports Medicine is the other level that has improved sports based on being able to extend careers of many athletes.
Even with the superficial level regarding the building of new facilities doesn’t necessarily mean that the actual product on the field is going to be improved as with the examples of the Mets and the Nationals.
There’s college players leaving early for the NBA, but don’t necessarily mean that these players have the necessary skills developed to make an immediate impact in the league and that usually means being on the bench and not playing. There’s NFL players holding out for more money or causing trouble for the team if they don’t get what they want, and for the NFL as well showing greed over making sure that former players are getting the disability payments.
In terms of college football there’s the BCS which hasn’t really proven much except that a computer doesn’t have the necessary skills to make the correct judgment in what teams should be playing for the National Championship.
College basketball is much more exciting because of the fact that the athletes are not being paid and they give the maximum effort every night, contrary to what happens in the NBA where players will take games off and not put much of an effort on the court.
Also, with college basketball with the NBA’s “one and done” rule it has increased the likelihood that college coaches spend time, effort, and money in recruiting players only to have them leave for the NBA.
What causes concern and doesn’t improve college teams is if those players come in commit a violation against NCAA rules such as cheating on a SAT test like Derrick Rose or allegedly accepting money from an agent like O.J. Mayo.
It could put college programs in serious trouble and those players like Rose and Mayo will be long gone making money in the NBA, but the college team will be feeling the effects of the punishment handed down by the NCAA for years.
In closing, appropriate oversight is required to ensure that the financial investment to improve sports actually does the job.

Suddenly Texas' Cliff Lee Is Beatable in Bizarre Catastrophe

If he’s not impeccable in the strike zone or doesn’t attack the plate with his breaking balls and vicious curveballs, then he’s not a godlike specimen. Every so often, he exposes his human side and misses the strike zone or allows unearned runs in a perplexing fashion.

It was absolutely a nightmarish night in San Francisco, at a moment when much was a stake. Very rarely does Cliff Lee diminish on the mound amid the grandest stage in baseball.

It couldn’t have come at a worse time near the Bay in one of the most demoralizing World Series games, a contest that Lee desires to erase eternally, a contest he badly blundered and a contest where vulnerability revealed a rampant turn of events.

This, of course, wasn’t the time or place to perform the choke job, but it simply happened and he suddenly threw abnormally. Sometimes, the ripple effect of his customary command isn’t nearly dynamic, but it’s eccentric anytime he surrenders hits against his opponents. Sometimes, it just isn’t the night to be an invincible ace on the mound.

So what happened to the unhittable Lee?

He simply stumbled in the electric confines of AT&T Park, with the crowd waving orange pom-poms. Texas manager Ron Washington yanked arguably the best pitcher in baseball, in the middle of the fifth inning when Lee wore a distraught, solicitous stare.

This was, after all, the most scrutinized outing in his near-perfect career, serving as a significant element in the Texas Rangers' beautiful story and turnaround season.

On a shaky night, he allowed the Giants to compile double-digit runs and steal Game 1 in a decisive 11-7 win.

Without his flawless command, he was bullied on the mound and never had rhythm of his pitches, partly for falling behind in the count and having trouble executing his scintillating, hanging curveball.

Nolan Ryan left the ballpark speechless, confounded after a mysterious game that had everyone wondering what exactly happened to Lee. It was his first postseason loss in nine starts in which the Giants assembled brilliant hitting and took advantage of Lee’s bungles.

Was this a hangover? Maybe.

But more frightening was Lee’s inability to retire his opponents, leaving pitches in the middle of the strike zone or giving up walks on his frequent misses over the plate.

The biggest disappointment for the most intriguing pitcher in the majors happened so quickly in the fifth. Moments later, an erratic performance turned disastrous as Lee continued to have difficulty locating his fastball, had defects in throwing his cutters, and had glitches tossing his unpredictable and unhittable curveball.

“I was a little erratic and trying to find it,” Lee said. “For whatever reason, I couldn’t get consistent locating pitches. That’s the games where you’ve got to go to Plan B and battle, and that’s what I was trying to do. They made me throw a ton of pitches, and in that fifth inning I’ve got to do a better job with damage control.”

He has to locate his fastballs and stay composed, too. Or else it will be a long series for a ball club that has endured four decades of anguish, now aiming to win its first World Series in franchise history.

Before the opener of the Fall Classic, Lee was impressive and extraordinary of throwing the ball over the plate to strike out his opponents. He was divine during the regular-season and had never been described as dazed or confused on the mound, as if he was a minor-leaguer trying to find his way in the big leagues.

His numbers in the regular season were staggering alone, but in the Fall Classic he wasn’t careful in the strike zone and had a disastrous fifth inning. However, in the regular season, 71.2 percent of his pitches were strikes, the highest number for any starter in 11 years. Prior to the World Series, in three postseason starts, he was spectacular and threw strikes 71.3 percent of the time.

Rarely did an opponent assemble a remarkable shred of hitting. Rarely, if any, did Lee surrender seven earned runs in a game. His earned run average was 1.26, trailing only Hall of Famers Sandy Koufax and Christy Mathewson, until he pitched poorly in the World Series and now has an ERA of 11.57.

“This is exactly what we wanted,” outfielder Cody Ross said. “We wanted to beat him.”

And they did just that.

“We wanted to beat whoever was on the mound,” he said. “It could have been Cy Young.”

He certainly didn’t have Cy Young stuff on this night.

Either way, that is, Lee is just as beatable as the next big-name ace. Never has there been a horrifying scene this horrendous, but on this occasion, he was hittable subsequently for giving up seven runs on eight hits, including five doubles.

At the end of the season, he’ll be the hottest free agent on the market and has already been in consideration of signing an eight-year, $160 million deal from the Yankees.

But after the left-hander morphed into a defenseless ace and had trouble revoking danger, he has to prove that he’s still worthy of pocketing valuable cash by next spring. Which I still believe he is targeted as a top free agent in the market this offseason and could fittingly suit a developing rotation. Assuming he’ll stay in Texas next season, Lee is a reliable ace even if he had one formidable outing.

“I expect to be successful every time I take the mound,” Lee said.

I’d imagine, especially in his contract year.

“Everybody has such high expectations of Cliff,” Rangers center fielder Josh Hamilton said. “Cliff has such high expectations of himself. We know what kind of pitcher he is. We know he can dominate a game. But he’s human, too. He didn’t have a bad performance tonight. He had a normal pitcher’s performance, but he’s not a normal pitcher either.”

True, he’s not a normal pitcher. No one is for that matter. But he is expected to perform brilliantly as if he’s an unhittable perfectionist. For a change, the Giants hit Lee harder than ever.

Along came the fifth inning, when they shredded him and manufactured runs to quickly erase the Rangers' 2-0 lead, he saw his night shrink and end all so miserably. Of all the games, after he hadn’t allowed a run in 16 innings, he blew it. His relief Darren O’Day suddenly stepped onto the mound and blew it, too, and yielded a three-run homer to Juan Uribe.

As for the Giants, Freddy Sanchez had three doubles in his first three at-bats, not to mention that Huff finished 2-for-3 against Lee and Cody Ross had an RBI single. Even worse, the Giants were 5-of-10 with runners in scoring position against Lee.

What a strange night.

He failed to tie Bob Gibson. But it clearly wasn’t about individual feats, and was instead about prevailing in an urgent game. He couldn’t last seven innings for the first time in seven starts. For all we know, he could have been a bit fatigued and worn down.

“You’ve got to give credit to their hitters,” said Lee. I didn’t work ahead in the count…I was missing with my fastball. I was missing with my cutter…I missed out over the plate…It’s not acceptable.”

For a guy who is very hard on himself, he sure seems ready to rebound from such a devastating blow. Knowingly, he won’t have an encore of meltdowns.

It was just a bad night. After all, he is human.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Luke Byrne Shows the Art of a Misleading Headline In His Article On Monta Ellis

On Bleacher Report I came across Andrew Bailey's article, which mentioned a possible trade of Monta Ellis to the Philadelphia 76ers. While it was just Bailey's opinion I decided why not look to see if there were any rumors about Ellis as of late. 
monta Pictures, Images and Photos

There wasn't much in fact most of the rumors were from last season and of course Ellis was not traded. Yet, I did come across an article that made me scratch my head. 
It was from the website Hoopsworld written by Luke Byrnes on October 17, 2010. The title of the article was "Ellis Unhappy in Warriors Backcourt?"

Byrnes uses Ellis' quote of "We showed that (the two can play together) last year at the end of the season and, really, pretty much the whole season. Hey, we gotta do what we gotta do.  We are here now.  I'm going to be here for the next four years and he (Curry) is going to be here for however long he signed for.  Until we see each other on the other side of the court, right now, we gotta put it together and make it work."

In that quote there's nothing that shows Ellis as being unhappy. In fact it's the exact opposite from that, Ellis clearly states he plans to be with the Warriors for the next four years! 
Another point in the article that Byrnes uses Kobe Bryant and Tyreke Evans as examples of how the Warriors struggled against shooting guards who were 6'6" because Ellis and Curry are both 6'3" and both Bryan and Ellis could use their height advantage against them. 

Yet, he failed to mention that against Brandon Roy who's also 6'6" Ellis frustrated Roy to the point where he was called for a technical foul. In that game Roy went 6-17 from the field and finished with 17 points, 4 rebounds, one assist, and one steal. 

Brandon Roy Pictures, Images and Photos

Joe Johnson is 6'8" and the Atlanta Hawks used him in the closing minutes of a game against the Warriors and it was Ellis' defense that didn't allow Johnson to beat the Warriors as Ellis came up with a steal and forced Johnson to give the ball up the second time. 

Joe Johnson 2 Pictures, Images and Photos

As for Bryant he had a game where he went 9-18 from the field with Ellis defending him, but Bryant also committed nine turnovers in the game as well. 

Kobe Byrant. Pictures, Images and Photos

Evans didn't face Ellis in all four meetings, but even in the game that Ellis missed, Evans struggled from the field going 8-21. In another meeting Evans was held to 17 points but did dish out 10 assists. 
Yet, in that game Curry outplayed Evans by going 10-15 from the field, with 24 points, 15 assists, six rebounds, and three steals. 

Tyreke Evans (Sacramento Kings) Pictures, Images and Photos

There's no doubt that taller shooting guards are going to have an advantage over the Warriors because of their length. Yet, the acquisition of Dorell Wright will definitely assist the Warriors as Ellis can get help from the 6'9" Wright, can help out on double teams and use his length to his advantage as he is a solid defender. 

Also, one of the biggest problems for the Warriors has been improved which was rebounding. With David Lee and Andris Biedrins in the lineup the Warriors actually have enough size to take care of the glass. The rebounding has been lacking for the Warriors for a while. 

The ending of the article is icing on the cake for Byrnes as he makes the statement of "the bigger issue, however, is whether Ellis even wants to stay in the Bay Area."

This question was answered in Ellis' first statement of being with the team for the next four years. Further proof can be found in the articles Marcus Thompson II from the Contra Costa Times, Dime Magazine, Fanhouse article written by Sam Amick,.  

Thompson II quotes Andris Biedrins as saying "he's been changed, he's totally different. He's happy about the team. He's really stepped it up. I'm really happy about him. It's just a joy to be his teammate."

OUR FAV ANDRIS Pictures, Images and Photos

A quote From coach Keith Smart "The first thing you notice is his work ethic. He's staying after practice, shooting with coaches. He hits the floor and he starts playing hard. He's very vocal now. And he's talking, and he's saying the right things on the floor. He's not getting to the point where things are frustrating him to where he's upset."

Looking further Ellis said "It's a new beginning, it's a new feel. A new vibe. Back to having fun."
Dime Magazine has a quote from Ellis that states "I've wiped everything else away from the past. We have a new logo, a new team." 

The Fanhouse article there has a question to Warriors assistant Stephen Silas about Ellis' and Curry's relationship and Silas said   "I would say his favorite player on the team right now is Steph. And to go from media day last year to where he is now is something. That's one of the only guys he'll contact during the summer.  We'd be watching Team USA games on TV and (Ellis) is saying, 'Man, Steph should be playing more,'" Silas said. "It's exciting to see how far he has come in just a year. Steph has done a lot to help that." 

Stephen Curry Pictures, Images and Photos

There's another article by Amick that shows Ellis' maturity who says "It starts with me, so I wanted to come back a month before training camp and get real close with my new teammates, to have that bond and make this whole thing as one and try to win." 

Ellis also went over how he has made amends with Curry with this statement "Like I told him this summer, we can do it. We did it last year. I see now that I have to play the two (shooting guard). I have to play the bigger guards, and I'm cool with that. I can do that. Let's just put our games together, get everybody else around us on the same page and play basketball."

Yet, the strongest quote from Ellis is this one "It starts with the captain of the team, the leader of the team, and that's me." I just wanted to come in with a great mindset so I could have the other guys with a great mindset. Lead by example, try to get that bond, to get close, so we can approach the game the right way."

monta ellis Pictures, Images and Photos

If anything it shows that Ellis wants to be in Golden State, he wants to be the leader, he wants to grow with his teammates, and more importantly he wants to win with his new Warriors family. 
Byrnes' article is the perfect example of a misleading title that was designed to get reads. The comments though paint exactly how the readers feel about the article and the examples are: 

"The fact that that author of this article even references the debunked rumor of the Mayo/Thabeet for Monta deal shows that there is no actual journalism here... just more muckraking"

"Just Let The Season Speak For Itself.Monta Will Be Fine.The Warriors Will Be Fine.I Really Think They Will Make The Playoffs This Season. D.Lee Will Be The Difference Maker.Just 8 More Days,I Cant Wait!"

"So what was the question??? Maybe he was just pissed they lost or didn't defend well, but if he honestly did not want to be here Ii think he would come staright out and say just like Stephen Jackson and even Biedrins, the guy has a tattoo of the new logo!"

"If you lived the bay area all you'll read about is how happy and enthusiastic Monta is about the new look roster and staying in the bay."

'The undersized guards are similar offensively' "Really? I think of Ellis as a better slasher, quicker to the hole than Curry, and he plays best off the ball, as he did when BD was the point guard. When Ellis played the point, the ball didn't move as well as when Curry is at the point. Curry is a better outside shooter and passer, and he has better court vision than Monta, although he needs to cut down on turnovers. I think they are very different offensively, even if they are about the same size."

"All the reports from sources close to the team have been that Monta is in great spirits and happy with where the Warriors are. Seems like that sort of information would at least have been somewhat relevant. Any sort of unhappy tone or body language you were picking up undoubtedly had to do with Monta being annoyed with answering that same question for the thousandth time. There are already numerous stories and quotes from both him and Steph out there about this topic."

"We showed that (the two can play together) last year at the end of the season and, really, pretty much the whole season, Hey, we gotta do what we gotta do. We are here now. I'm going to be here for the next four years and he (Curry) is going to be here for however long he signed for. Until we see each other on the other side of the court, right now, we gotta put it together and make it work". "Wow, how do you get that Ellis doesnt want to play with Steph Curry and want's to leave the Bay Area from that? You do realize that comment came after a loss. You dont have to 'follow' Bay Area news but at least try a little bit of research on what else Monta has been saying and doing (ie showing up early to camp, inviting Steph Curry to his wedding, saying he is focused on the 2 and defense and is willing to turn the point over to Curry, etc) instead of taking one comment after a loss, out of context and combining it with trade speculation that happened half a year ago to somehow decide that Ellis wants out."

"Clearly this article was written by someone who hasn't been following any of the news that's been coming out of the Bay Area even before training camp started."

"Obviously written by someone who knows nothing about the Warriors. No disrespect, but I am pretty disappointed by the lack of research put into a hoopsworld article."


"This story goes against everything reported by the Bay Area beat writers and guys over at (who are very, very good about reporting what's going on with the Dubs.) "This article (because it is definitely not a news story) has more to do with getting some clicks on a link than it does reporting the real vibe by the Bay. Kind of disappointing because I have more respect for Hoopsworld than most NBA related sites."

"This article would have a lot more prevalance about a year ago. awful."