Monday, June 13, 2011

6/13 Quick Hits and Weekend Happenings

Hey there everybody, let's do a little weekend recap!

NBA: Rest easy City o' Cleveland. Your fallen superstar will NOT win a title this year. The Dallas Mavericks finished off the Miami Heat in astounding fashion - the Heat didn't pack a punch at all in the fourth quarter - and brought the team its first every championship trophy.

Halfway through the fourth quarter of Game 2, this series looked like a mismatch as Dallas was already in a 0-1 hole and stared at the scoreboard, down 15 points. But they stormed back, and won Games 3, 4, and 5 to let Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry enact their revenge on the Heat for the 2006 NBA Finals loss. A few notes on my general thoughts for the Series:

1. Good for the Dallas Mavericks franchise, even though I picked them to lose in EVERY postseason series this year. I for one, love owner Marc Cuban. I think he's funny, really connects with the players, and is entertaining for the fans. It's good to see him win a title.

2. Dirk Nowitzki really solidifies himself as one of the all-time greats with a championship victory and Finals MVP. When Bill Simmons' "The Book of Basketball" came out in 2009, he ranked Dirk as the 37th best in NBA history (for the record, he had Jason Kidd at 42, LeBron James at 20, and Dwayne Wade at an astonishingly-low 53). But now he HAS to go down as one of the best shooters in history, as well as the best European player of all time. Seeing the emotions as he hoisted the trophy was fantastic, and you can't help but like the guy.

3. I can't really see this season as a failure like the media seems to be portraying it. If the Heat has missed the playoffs altogether, or lost in the first round, it would have been a failure. This team had difficulties all season long, and they weathered the storm. With the weight of the world on their back, they beat a very good Celtics team and the best regular season team this year in the Bulls. They'll be back here. No doubt in my mind.

4. Finally, the whole Dwayne Wade/LBJ situation. Look at those numbers again from the "Book of Basketball." Does Wade really deserve to be 53rd, and James at 20? First off, let's put to rest the idea that James is the alpha dog of the Heat. Because he isn't. That's Dwayne Wade's team, no question. James is this team's Magic Johnson, and Wade is this team's Michael Jordan. Even when James had a triple double in Game 5, he couldn't take the game over in crunch time. He didn't slash to the hoop, and last night there were at least three occasions when he could have risen up for an easy layup but optioned for a fancy dish to a teammate that wasn't expecting it. Lebron disappointed me in this series, but Wade didn't. In my mind, that's all the argument I need to show that this is Wade's team.

MLB: The big news in the MLB this week is word from the MLB executives that a realignment movement has been brought into discussion. Apparently, this is a real possibility and a move that I think needs to happen. The NL has 16 teams, and the AL has 14, creating an inequality in playoff chances between the leagues. The word on the street is that the Houston Astros will be the team to move over to the AL to create a natural rivalry with the Texas Rangers - again, a logical move. The interesting thing is that the MLB is considering having two 15 team divisions and eliminating the East, Central, West division scheme we see today. Why, you ask? Because the Blue Jays and Orioles have no shot at the playoffs behind the Red Sox and the Yankees in the AL East. A final decision on this is months or even years away, so stay tuned.

The Milwaukee Brewers swept the St. Louis Cardinals over the weekend to take the lead in the NL Central (sigh) behind Zack Greinke's arm and Prince Fielder's bat. The NL Central race is shaping up to be a doozy, with three teams (including the Reds) with a legitimate shot to win the title.

Welcome back to reality, Cleveland Indians. After a fantastic start and early eight game AL Central lead, the Indians have lost 9 of their last 10 to fall into a tie at the top with the surging Detroit Tigers. The Yankees took three from the Tribe this weekend as surfire first-ballot Hall of Famer Derek Jeter got his 2,993rd hit yesterday, moving him closer to being the 28th player in MLB history with 3,000 hits.
NFL: Not much to report on the NFL front, but apparently the LA Sports Commission has had talks with five teams about moving to Los Angeles. The City of Angels - America's second largest metropolitan area - hasn't had a franchise since the mid 1990's. The teams in question: San Diego; Minnesota; Oakland; Jacksonville; and St. Louis. I find it interesting that the two teams that left LA in the mid 1990's - the Rams and Raiders - have discussed moving back. To me, Jacksonville seems to be the most logical choice, as they have had trouble selling tickets for years. Once again, this issue is months if not years from being finished, so stay tuned.

Soccer: Apparently there's a really important soccer tournament going on - The Gold Cup. The championship for North America (including the Carribean islands), if the U.S. wins we automatically qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Unfortunately, we lost to Panama in a shocker Saturday afternoon. But fear not American soccer fans. We still can win the title and qualify for Brazil.

On Tap This Week:
NHL - Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals is tonight. Roberto Luongo played a stellar game in goal to give the Vancouver Canucks a 1-0 victory on Friday night. Tim Thomas and the Bruins hope to take Game 6 tonight in Boston and take the series back to Vancouver for a deciding Game 7.

PGA Tour - One of my favorite weeks of the year, our national championship begins this week at Congressional Country Club in Washington D.C. The U.S. Open is golf's toughest test, as more players shoot in the 80's than in the 60's. Look for a winning score around par in a tournament that has a wide open field. Tiger's not playing, so I suggest you watch to familiarize yourself with some of the players that will be taking over the game in the years to come.

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