Monday, May 21, 2007

Monday 05/21 A.M. Quickie:
Putting the "Zzz" in Spurs-vs-Jazz

Update: Tony Parker and Eva Longoria call off the wedding? The Western Conference Finals finally have a sub-plot worth paying attention to. Props to SportsByBrooks for the link.

SpurZzzzz beat JazzZzz
: I'm certainly not the first or only person to suggest that this series is a dud... is terrible for an already declining NBA... is one that no one is paying attention to. Here's the detail from Sunday that is most glaring:

Even Spurs fans don't care! They didn't sell out Sunday's playoff game. Admittedly, it's the first time that has happened to the franchise, but make no mistake: It's a very clear signal. (By the way, because of this apathy, please drop the Spurs from their perennial place in the Top 3 of the Ultimate Team Standings.)

Put me in Dan Steinberg's camp: The NBA isn't about winning titles as much as it is about entertainment. The Spurs aren't entertaining.

Forget stuff like "They just win" or "They win the 'right way'" or "Their stars are so humble" (hmm: seemingly). I'd argue they actually devalue the NBA title by winning it repeatedly without any flair. Apparently, their fans are so bored by it, they don't sell out the arena.

We are living through the "Duncan Dynasty," and it's the new Exhibit A imploding the theory that dynasties are good for sports. It certainly isn't good for the NBA. (Can it get worse? Yes: Spurs-Pistons in the NBA Finals. And the Spurs being the NBA's leading title contender for the next X number of years until Duncan retires.)

Deron Williams: 34 points, including 18 in the fourth quarter. His team might be headed to an early exit, but Williams has already clinched "Breakout Player of the Playoffs." Let's revisit that previous (non-)debate whether it was a mistake to pick Williams before Chris Paul.

Pistons-Cavs: I'll take the Pistons in 5, exposing LeBron as still having a long way to go before he's king of the East.

Ugh: Are we really back to another Yankees-Red Sox series?

MLB Stud: Randy Johnson, who had 10 Ks in 5.2 IP, leading the D'backs over the Pirates. Second straight start racking up a W (and many Ks).

MLB Stud, DL: Octavio Dotel, the Royals closer who has been on the DL all season, seems ready to return this week. Yes, it's the Royals, but it could have fantasy implications in your league.

MLB Dud: Andruw Jones, who struck out 5 times on Sunday, even after being dropped to 6th in the order. Remember when he was supposed to have a monster season in '07?

Joe Torre gets the dreaded vote of confidence: The Yankees manager described his conversation with George Steinbrenner this weekend: "Basically, it was all about support." Yes, if "basically" means "If we get to the August 1 and we're not in playoff contention, you're out."

Giambi's big mouth: MLB wants to talk to Giambi following his me-and-my-big-mouth interview last week about using steroids. So the way I understand it, MLB could give Giambi a suspension for 50 games if his admitting using steroids came after baseball decided to (finally) crack down. The more intriguing scenario is that the Yankees could use it as a pretense to void Giambi's contract. Tracking...

NFL (C)rap Sheet: Jets CB Justin Miller arrested on third-degree assault charges. While the Jets are bringing in everyone and their brother to mini-camp, better load up on DBs, too.

Meanwhile, ProFootballTalk breaks the story that an NFL assistant coach inadvertently sent a porn email to all the league GMs, their secretaries and, apparently, the Commissioner.

OK: It is totally irresponsible of PFT to NOT tell us the name of the coach. What good is it to be a Web site that traffics in the best NFL rumors if you won't name names? (Hell, I'd settle for a Page Six-style blind item obliquely providing clues to the guy's identity.)

If it's all true, it'll be interesting to see if the Commissioner cracks down, to make an example showing that his "Get Tough" policy goes for league employees and front-office types, as well as players.

Stanley Cup: Impressive gritty comeback win by the Ducks in Detroit to take what could be a decisive 3-2 lead in their Western finals series. (If you think that Spurs-Pistons doesn't move the needle with casual sports fans, try Anaheim-Ottawa.)

Oh, and speaking of NHL, this is a must-read. The fact that the sport's biggest drama is that an OT playoff game was bumped on national TV for pre-game coverage of a horse race is why the sport finds itself in the precarious position it is in now. They've already done a nice job of alienating the casual fans; now they're going for the clean sweep by alienating the avid fans, too. Staggering.

Horse Racing: Will Street Sense skip Belmont? I understand the reasoning, now that there's no Triple Crown potential (it's the reason most fans won't watch either), but can't they bill it as a rubber match between Street Sense and Curlin?

Tennis: Federer beats Nadal... on clay! Notable because it ends Nadal's 81-match winning streak on the surface – and perhaps foreshadows Federer finally breaking through at the French Open en route to the Grand Slam that would secure his place as the greatest tennis player ever.

NCAA LAX: Duke cruises past UNC into the Final Four, where you just KNOW that the irony of the situation alone ensures a title. Meanwhile, party-crashing Delaware beat fellow P-C UMBC to join the traditional powers at the Final Four.

UPDATE: New Varsity Dad post up now. (44 posts in, perhaps it's time to go from "soft launch" to "yes, the thing is officially launched.")

Miss the weekend's "Very" Quickies?

-- D.S.


Matt T said...

THe Hawks passed on Williams and Paul, while having a need for a PG. Embarassing.

5 Strike outs 7 left on base. Its getting so bad, he'll probably end up staying with Atlanta.

Mikepcfl said...

This seems to happen every day, but let's list the Orioles' bullpen as a DUD. I really think we should retire them from the dud category and create a DUD Hall of Fame for them.

RevScottDeMangeMD said...

Greatest Tennis Player ever? I think Federer already has that nailed down. Isn't Sampras considered the best player ever? He never even made it into the semi's of the French if I remember correctly. Federer is going to smash all of his records. And Doesn't he have a 70something win streak on grass? He'll break Nadal's streak here this year.

hskr dave said...

Duke did not cruise in LAX, down 8-5 at half, altho they did smack them around in the 2nd half.

Quack Quack. If Anaheim makes it, Ott-Ana will actually be a good series, with Ottawa Offense, vs a good defense.

NA said...

I'm nnot sure how you can not talk about Clippard as a stud. AAA pitcher in his first start against the mets and shuts them down for 6 innings AND a double into the gap in right center. Maybe the Yankees have young pitching on the horizon - lets see if he makes another start?

I hit the trifecta and lost money. Stupid horse racing.

Unknown said...

I was at the Detroit - Anaheim game, and, as a Red Wings' fan, it was a heartbreaker. Now I know how San Jose felt when Detroit stole a game with seconds to go, irrevocably changing the momentum in that series. CRAP!!!!!

Chris said...


I'm still trying to get past the comment you made in the Sunday Quickie about how you were obviously rooting for Northwestern's Women's Lacrosse team and you didn't want to hear how you abandoned your alma mater to jump the Gator bandwagon, especially not in "non-revenue sports". What? Are you kidding me? That has to be the lamest, most ridiculous thing you have ever said on this blog and that takes some doing. So let me get this straight, you root for your alma mater, but only in non-revenue sports? Is that correct? However, you root for Florida (a school you have absolutely no affiliation with other than your wife likes them) in sports like basketball and football because they can win titles in them? Even though your alma mater also plays at the D-1 level in those sports? That is so lame it defies description and makes you one of the douchebag "fans" of all time.

In order to be a fan you don't get to pick and choose which sports you root for your alma mater in. You just don't, that is the rules. In for a penny, in for a pound. If they are good in one sport, but not so in another, being a true fan means you support them in both. In good times and bad (that way you can truly enjoy the good times) and to just jump on the bandwagon of a team that you pick up later in life and call yourself a "fan" is an insult to true FANS everywhere.

I usually am just amused at your Gator slurping and how you turned your back on Northwestern's sports teams. Then you try to have it both ways and want to pick and choose which Wildcat teams your support. I think you may be in need of an intervention.

rafael said...

Well, if Goodell think he can police office listserv emails...well..we all send porn forwards!! right?

With the Triple Crown out, now its about the longevity of the horse. Belmont isn't really conducive to that.

I say Pistons in 7. For whatever reason, Detroit brings out the heart in LeBron. That's good for 3 wins.

Nadal's streak had to end eventually. That it took the world's best player to do it speaks to both of their skill. Can Federer do it twice in a row? I say no.

Geoff said...

So if this same exact Spurs team played in New York, would they be good for the NBA? Or are they only bad and boring because they are from a small market?

marcomarco said...

Ugh: Are we really back to another Yankees-Red Sox series?

Yes, you moron.

Major League Baseball teams within the same division play 18 times per regular season. 6 down, 12 to go.

ToddTheJackass said...

Yesterday's MLB Studs and Duds:

1. Matt Morris, W, 9.0 IP, 1ER, 2H, 2BB, 9Ks
2. Kelvim Escobar, W, 8.0 IP, 0ER, 3H, 2BB, 5Ks
3. Erik Bedard, 7.0 IP, 1ER, 3H, 3BB, 12Ks
4. Ramon Vazquez, 3-3, 2BB, 5RBI, HR
5. Tyler Clippard, W, 6.0 IP, 1ER, 3H, 3BB, 6Ks

1. Ramon Ramirez, L, 0.2 IP, 5ER in 12th inning
2. Carlos Zambrano, L, 6.2 IP, 7ER, 6H, 4BB
3. Andruw Jones, 0-5, 5Ks, 7 LOB
4. Tim Hudson, L, 4.2 IP, 6ER, 8H, 2BBs, 0Ks
5. Danys Baez, L, BS, 0.1 IP, 2ER

Just missed the Cut: Randy Johnson, Justin Verlander, Kason Gabbard, Geoff Jenkins

Honorary Not-a-Dud-Today: Joe Borowski

Slim said...

Jazz, picked by everyone and thier twin cousins to lose to my Rockets i the 1st round, make it to the Western Conference Finals, and are about to "have an early exit." Really? The WCF is an "early exit?" I'd give my arm to play the Spurs, at least we got out of the 1st round.

And how comes no take on the JVG saga in Houston?

CorrND said...

Come on Dan! Dynasties are fine for the NBA. Jordan's Bulls? Shaq/Kobe's Lakers? Those teams were great and fun/compelling to watch. THIS dynasty sucks, not the concept.

"Well, I, uh, don't think it's quite fair to condemn a whole program because of a single slip-up, sir."

Mega said...

You can add Nick Massett of the ChiSox yesterday in his first MLB start, for a borderline honorary stud:

IP- 5.2
ER- 2
BB- 2
K- 3

Not spectacular by any means but solid considering it was his first major league start in semi-hostile territory (I say semi-hostile because Wrigley has become U.S. Cellular Field North when the Sox come). And what does AJ do with the chorus of boos from Cubs fans? He hits a grandslam. Take that to the bank!

In other notes, its interesting to see how Cubs fans boo AJ, yet they cheered for steroid abusers like Sosa and their "Mr. DUI" third base coach.

king of the herculoids said...

heres to hoping dotel doesn't let all the royals fans down...having a decent closer would have given them a few more wins so far

Brian in Oxford said...

So when the NBA gets craptastic matchups, why are they still forced down our throats (cough...espn....cough) while it's supposedly so bad to have a Canadian team in the Stanley Cup finals?!

(That's the thing that pisses off hockey fans -- it's like a double standard compared to the NBA.)

I'm not one to easily give out "best ever" to a guy like Sampras, specifically because he couldn't come close on clay. Typical "bigger is better" argument -- a big serve on a fast service lends itself to not necessarily having the point-artistry skills to win on the slower clay.

The Belmont SHOULD be good specifically for tie-breaking if the same horse isn't 2-0 at that point. But aren't siring costs the real reasons the horses are in business? I mean, what sport wouldn't want to play up the "rubber match" aspect? But if you can make more $ for horse sperm, you don't want to risk him in the race? Not a good business model.

If this were Jeter, and not Giambi, you know, with a big postseason resume, would the Yanks be so fast to terminate the contract? Hey, they hire a gun, they have to deal with the shrapnel. And what's the deal with Clippard saying he hadn't hit since high school? If the DH rule was thought of as a way for a guy to Hank Aaron to hang on a couple more years....then WHY are DHs being developed at the college and minor league levels? Get the pitchers into the batting boxes during their development, and maybe more than a handful will hit .200, too. (grrrr....)

Boomhauertjs said...

Interesting point Geoff about the Spurs being boring because they're from SA. It probably would be different if they played in NY.

The NBA really needs the Cavs to beat the Pistons. I love NBA hoops, but even I can't stand the prospect of another Pistons/Spurs Finals. Boring.

(Ok, I'm a huge Cavs fan, but still...)

Unknown said...

For some reason the Jazz are boring me, atleast with the Spurs it is entertaining to watch how reckless Tony Parker and Manu get when driving to the hoop.

Chopper Dave said...

Oh sure, Florida wins back-to-back titles and you can't shut up about how great dynasties are. Then the Spurs make another playoff run and it's "BOO! DYNASTIES=BAD!"

Hell, you even got that knockoff Dynasty shirt at the top of your page. Pick a side, Shanoff.

Mikepcfl said...

Included in Bedard's stud stats should be his 2 hits, RBI and sacrifice. The irony is that he was tired from running the bases and had to be taken out after the 7th so the bullpen could blow the lead in the 8th. The counter argument should be that he should be in better shape.

ToddTheJackass said...

Dan, I love how everyone's so openly hostile toward you these days. And yet we keep reading the blog.

CMFost said...

I agree with Dan dynasties can be bad if no even realizes that there is a dynasty going on. With the Patriots everyone knew it was going and everyone wanted to stop it. With the Spurs who knew especially since they have no real star power. No shaq or Kobe to really get fans interested.

Plus who really wants to watch boring games that if the Spurs and Pistons play we will have to endure. We will be lucky to see either team score 90 points in a game during that series

Anonymous said...

Duke is not cruising anywhere. Cornell beat Duke at Duke this year. They had their close scrape with Albany on Saturday. I predict Cornell over Duke for the 2nd time this year to show the lacrosse selection committee that an undefeated team that is #1 in the polls for the last 8 weeks of the season should have been seeded higher than a team it beat.

Of course seedings mean nothing right now. However if Cornell at least received a #2 seed, they may have been playing someone like Delaware first. Doesn't matter, they still have to win 2 games in a row and Duke is one of them.

BTW, Cornell was up 11-10 on Albany and Albany scored with 18 seconds left to tie the game. Then with 4 seconds left in the first OT period, Cornell won the game 12-11. I have to admit I am not reall a lacrosse fan but this was exciting.

I don't get to see my alma mater on TV too often so I take what I can get. I adopted Syracuse for my big time NCAA sports programs but unlike Shanoff, I actually have a degree from there as well.

On a side note my friend and fellow Syracuse fan (he went there undergrad) is rooting for Delaware since his wife went there. I guess the alumni in law thing applies to more people than just Dan Shanoff. My wife went to Queens College in NYC and CW Post so I have no rooting interest and she is a sports atheist in any event.

Andy said...

Todd, I think it's become less and less about Dan's blog and more and more about us main commenters having a forum to debate and talk about sports. When we first came over from the ESPN-version Quickie and started commenting, it was all about the Quickie. Now, there is a core group of commenters that need a forum to talk with each other and this provides it in a somewhat convenient format. The fact that Dan doesn't even comment anymore makes me think that he rarely reads the comments. Kinda sucks, but unfortunately, I think it's true.

CMFost said...

can the spurs really be called a dynasty? They have never repeated as champions. There Championships have been spread out and only Tim Duncan is a constant from there 3 titles.

Geoff said...

In the 2005 finals the winning team scored less than 90 points in only the 1st and 7th games. Pistons are better offensively now than they were then and the Spurs probably are better now, too.

Honestly, if you don't want to watch that series... don't. If you only care about a series based on what ESPN shoves down your throat than you really aren't a fan of the sport anyway. If you wanna watch guys just run down the court and shoot then run back and repeat, you can probably catch a game at the Y or something.

Anonymous said...

I don't think there are real "rules" on who you can root for. It is all arbitrary in any event. I root for both Cornell and Syracuse. They typically play in basketball each year in a non-comopetitive type game. This year, Cornell made it close. I was definitely rooting for Cornell. Undergrad universities foster greater allegiances than graduate programs.

You can root for more than one team but you still have to prioritize. For example, if NOrthwestern is a low seed against Florida in the NCAAs, Dan would have to root for Northwestern or be stripped of his sports soul.

Jen said...

todd~ LOL Love the Honorary not-a-dud today for Borowski!

Dan, you can't play both sides. You abandoned your alma mater. You can't pick and choose.


verbal97 said...

Sampras did reach the French Open semi once, I believe. Anyway, my father is a big tennis fan and said that Bjorn Borg was the best player he ever saw (that includes Federer), so I will take his word for it.

Re: Giambi. What an effing moron!!! Barry Bonds has been THE fall guy for steroids, so why the hell would he want to open up that can of worms again.

And finally, I don't like Interleague baseball. I don't care who likes it. I don't care that it garners better attendance (it's still a novelty though diluted through the years); giving out free porn would increase attendance, does that mean it's good for the game.

verbal97 said...

And for the record, I don't read any mention of Florida in Dan's "blog", I think he's becoming irrelevant. I'm more interested in what you all have to say anyway.

rafael said...

I don't think Federer's greatness will be fully realized unless he gets a rival. Nadal is getting there..but only in clay. By the time Nadal builds up his grass game, it might be too late.

I could be wrong..but I always think of Borg, Sampras, Federer cut out of similar molds. (relatively) unemotional winners who know what it takes to get it done.

Brian in Oxford said...

Borg won 5 French and 5 Wimbledon, so it's not like being good on clay and grass HAVE to be diametrically opposite.

(Not to mention, the assimilation of Jean-Luc Picard in the best TNG episode ever.)

ToddTheJackass said...

I don't have a problem with interleague play per se, but it needs to be restructured.

The unbalanced schedule really is unfair, and if the Orioles could be legit, they'd have a huge advantage playing the Nats while the Yankees/Red Sox have to play the Mets/Braves.

How it should be changed is to just have each division play each team in a division for a series, that way no one benefits more than anyone else. There'd have to be some kind of exception with the AL West and the NL Central, but I'm sure that could be figured out pretty easily.

Giambi's statement really just lost any credibility/sincerity for me when he dwelled on the point that he doesn't think that steroids help you hit home runs. If he'd have left that out, I think his statement would've been a little better/more meaningful.

Geoff said...

Problem is Federer is so good that he might not have an equal until he is in the twilight of his career. Ah well, one day cloning will be possible and we can get some Federer/Sampras matches.

pv845 said...

Seriously Dan, you have to be kidding about you having the right to cheer for Northwestern in the non-revenue sports. It is all (which should be your alma mater) or nothing.
As for the Spurs dynasty, I would rather have them win and play D than see the Suns win and run and gun and forget half of the basketball game. I know I am in the minority here.
Finally, I swear if what is left of the Quickie curse puts Dotel on the DL I will stop reading this blog forever. The Royals can't handle more injuries to their team.

ToddTheJackass said...

I teach tennis on the side and the one thing I'll say is that Federer probably is the most fundamentally sound player I've ever seen. Pete had more power, and was able to utilize his strengths unbelievably well, but I feel like Federer has a better all around game. I don't think I've ever seen a player with better footwork and balance than Federer, although I admit I haven't seen much of Borg, Laver, or some of the older players.

So I'm not sure I'd say Federer is the best ever yet, but he's certainly well on his way to being so.

verbal97 said...

I don't think Borg was emotionless. He was enigmatic (much like Luke Wilson's character in the Royal Tenenbaums. Plus, anyone looks emotionless when compared with McEnroe. It should be pointed out that Borg won 11 grand slam titles (it was 6 French and 5 Wimbledon) despite only playing the Australian once and retiring at 26.

If you REALLY want emotionless, look at Lendl and Edberg (who was my favorite player).

Back to Giambi, I wouldn't have a problem with what he said if he were retired. But it's really stupid to put yourself back in the spotlight as a player and it also is going to create more friction to the free-fall that has been the Yankees season thus far.

verbal97 said...


Personally, I think Borg and his comtemporaries/predecessors were better fundamentally, due to the wooden rackets. And if you never used a wooden racket, it's like playing a completely different sport. Would Federer be better than his contemporaries with a wooden racket? I say probably yes, but it wouldn't look as easy and effortless as it does now.

CMFost said...

Wow, I can not believe we are actually debating tennis.

ToddTheJackass said...

I've always liked the comparison of the wood-racket era to the dead-ball era in baseball, in that the games has so fundamentally changed that the eras have to be completely separated. There's probably a lot of truth in that most of the older guys were better with footwork and balance than most of the new guys, but watching Federer is still really impressive. I'd think that of all the men's tennis players of the past 10-15 years, Federer is the only one I think that has enough all-around game that he could've thrived in the wood-racket era.

WuzUpG said...

Red Wings, touche!

The Wings won (against my Sharks) the same way they lost to the Ducks yesterday. I love it!

Geoff said...

Why not? If the NBA is so horrible we may as well talk about tennis. Do we really want to discuss another regular season day of baseball again instead?

Andy said...

I don't think we should debate tennis. So let's debate something else...... I'm open for suggestions.

ToddTheJackass said...

I'm completely up for debating Red Sox/Yankees... any takers?

verbal97 said...

Red Sox/Yankees, what's left to debate?

jhawkjjm said...

I love the hypocrisy of the NBA and the people that watch/cover it. When USA basketball is an all-star team and gets beat all anyone talks about is how there's no "team" concept. However when the two best "teams" SA and Detriot (or two of the three if you count Pheonix) have the chance to play in the finals the only thing that's talked about is lack of star power and how boring it is.

jhawkjjm said...

How's this for a debate topic. NBC pulling its coverage of the NHL conference finals for the pre-horse race show. What's that say about the NHL and NBC?

My take: NBC blew a good opportunity for long term financial gain in order to capitalize on the short term gain of advirtising revenue (NHL OT has no tv timeouts). How many fans will no longer watch on NBC and how many potential fans did they lose?

hskr dave said...

Debate: Ways to make interleague more relevant: you should play visitor rules, ie DH in national parks and pitchers hit in american parks. (ok novelty for a little bit)

ToddTheJackass said...

Let's see, what have been the Top 5 most debated/controversial topics on this blog...

1. Dan's "allegiance" to Florida
2. Florida BB as "Greatest. Team. Ever."
3. National League's recent struggles against the AL
4. Bill Simmons' declining quality of columns
5. Duke LAX players/Brady Quinn as douchebags

37. Don Mattingly's HOF credentials?

Brian in Oxford said...

I just assumed the game was over when the horse racing was on. In fact, I was confused because yahoo's scoreboard page said it was currently in OT.

A horse race is 2 minutes. If they wanted to interrupt the game to show THAT, I'd understand....but pre-game banter? spare me....please. That's like CBS's NCAA tournament coverage -- is that what NBC wants to be compared to?

verbal97 said...

"37. Don Mattingly's HOF credentials? "

You never lose an opportunity to bring that up, do you Todd?

I didn't know that NBC cut the hockey game for pre-race coverage? That's unbelievable! That should be the lead in every sports site! Who sits around watching rich white guys talking about future glue?

chipp said...

Quickly back to tennis: Federer as "greatest ever" perhaps, but never "most dominant". That has to go to Laver. Won the Slam TWICE!!

On the Women's side, Graf as "most dominant": won the Super Slam (4 majors plus the Olympics).

ToddTheJackass said...

Nope Verbal, never...

As far as horse racing, it was ridiculous since the race didn't start yet. I could easily understand cutting away for that time (and it was a hell of a race), but doing so for some more pre-race analysis was pretty asinine.

Let's face it though, hockey just isn't pulling the ratings right now. Otherwise, there'd be no way they'd do that.

Jen said...

I can't stop watching NBC..."My Name is Earl", "Scrubs" and "The Office" are on NBC.

verbal97 said...

Yes, but hockey fans are THE most hard core fans out there. They would have definitely been outraged, and justifiably so. I also believe that someone here stated that NHL ratings have been doing better than NBA ratings. Though, I won't take credit/blame for that if it's correct/wrong.

chipp, What about the aptly named Margaret Court?

Anonymous said...

What is wrong with a tennis discussion? I can't say I am a huge fan but I do watch it on occasion. Players have to be as well conditioned as an endurance athlete have the hand eye coordination of the best baseball players or golfers. It is also a sport that many people actually play.

I would consider Federer the #1 athlete in the world right now.

CMFost said...

quick easy red sox/yankees debate

Sox Sweep - Yankees Done
Sox take 2 of 3 - Yankees in big trouble
Yankees take 2 of 3 - they still have hope
Yankees Sweep - they are back in the race

kirby077 said...

Re: Wooden Raquets

This is from Jon Wertheim's column in SI. I've played tennis all my life and this was the first time I heard this theory.

I believe it was Agassi who once said it is a big myth that hi-tech rackets help the server. In truth, they help the counterpuncher. Andy Roddick or Ivo Karlovic would still be serving 120 mph bombs with a piece of plywood. It's the guy obligated to return the serve who's benefiting from the titanium blends. Nadal's fastest serve in the QF at the Aussie Open was 125 mph. Borg served 121 mph at the '81 US Open with a wooden racquet!"


Brian in Oxford said...

Has anyone ever been to a grass court? I can't figure out why it would be such a fast surface, unless the ground under it was just ridiculously hard. In theory, grass should slow balls down -- they certainly don't bounce very well in my back yard.

jhawkjjm said...

Not only was it a pre-race talk, the race didn't start for until about 5:15 cst... a full hour and 15 mins after their TV coverage started.

If I were the NHL I'ld have my lawyers scanning desperately to find some way to bring action against NBC. Unfortunately the NHL is in no position to threaten to leave NBC because they have nowhere else to go unless ESPN picks it back up, which I'd personally love but won't happen with ESPN having rights to the NBA.

verbal97 said...


The grass is kept short resulting in the ball skidding rather than bouncing true, thus making the surface faster. Compare it to clay which is like a ball bouncing in hard sand.

Geoff said...

The thing is that most people who don't like the NHL kind of look at it like Arena Football at this point. I mean, the hockey game did like a 1.2 on NBC. So where as those of us who like hockey are majorly pissed that they cut away from an OT hockey game, the stupid horses running around the track did like a 5.0 rating. So the horsey type people would have been pissed if it didn't get shown. And with how volatile NHL OT can be there was really no "right" decision on when to switch coverage to Versus.

Honestly the right decision is for NBC to not even air NHL games. They aren't committed to it so why even bother. All they are going to do is make fans upset. Fortunately I live in Detroit so I can watch most of the games on CBC anyway.

Geoff said...

And yes, apparently I just said "Fortunately I live in Detroit", which could be the first time anyone has ever uttered that statement.

chipp said...

Grass: the ball skips and the spin on the ball is deadened. Therefore a topspin forehand (typical ground stroke) won't bounce as high making the next shot lower and quicker. Hard court is the middle ground and clay bites the bite, exacerbating the spin.

Margaret Court: good one. Impressive resume. I went with Graf because she was familiar to me. Court is an older era, but her 62 GS titles is super impressive.

Dave Jackson said...

The Belmont could easily make a claim as the most exciting sports event of the year IF there's a Triple Crown at stake. (What other event has the combination of exciting, quick action and the possibility for history?)

Conversely, it might be the most meaningless big event of the year when there's no Crown on the line.

Unfortunately that's the case this year. Although hearing the trainer talk about how Street Sense tends to coast when he gets a lead, I wouldn't have held out much hope that he could endure the stretch at the mile-and-a-half Belmont anyway. Think Touch Gold over Silver Charm, Victory Gallop over Real Quiet, and Birdstone over Smarty Jones.


kirby077 said...

NBC doesn't pay the NHL rights fees for airing the NHL. The deal allows the NHL and NBC to split the profits if there are any. NBC seems to be happy with the arrangement since they extended the deal.

Just wondering if ESPN/ABC is happy with the NBA package. They pay around $400 million a year and ESPN shoves the NBA down our throats on air and the web, and yet the NBA's ratings don't obliterate the NHL's.

stooncer said...

This may be premature, but would anybody not watch a Anaheim/Ottawa Stanley Cup finals? I think it is a compelling matchup of two expansion teams that have been in the league for nearly 15 years and are both going for their first cup. Would watching Detroit win another cup be more exciting?

verbal97 said...

I really don't want Anaheim to win the Cup. That would make it 3 cities, that shouldn't even have a team in the first place, winning in a row.

Brian in Oxford said...

Ottawa's really pretty, I went last year to a game in the dead of winter just for fun and travel. I'd rather see what's up there in spring, than see exterior shots of suburban LA before a hockey game. Besides, Pronger shouldn't be allowed to whine his way to the big city and get rewarded with the Cup. Ah, remember the days of underage bar fights with the mighty Whale?

stooncer said...

Do you realize that the Ducks have been a very solid, consistant performing team in the playoffs the last few years? Check it out:

2003-2004: Stanly Cup Finalist - lost to NJ in 7 games.
2004-05: Lockout
2005-06: Western Conf. Finalist - Lost to Edmonton
2006-07: Western Conf. Finalist

Brian in Oxford said...

The baseball Hall of Fame game is today, instead being scheduled with the inductions - usually it'd been timed to the weekend in July, no?

And it's O's/Jays? What, like the 2 teams got on separate school buses for a day trip the day before their real series in Baltimore?

Brigadier Pudding said...

Let's revisit that previous (non-)debate whether it was a mistake to pick Williams before Chris Paul.

It's still a non-debate. Chris Paul would've been a terrible fit in Sloan's "right way" offense, which is dependent on screens, more screens, and physical play. Williams was always the right pick for Utah.

Jen said...

On an off-sports topic, did anyone catch The Simpsons' 400th episode?

rafael said...

I'm not an avid fan, so i may sound silly...but Navratilova was always impressive to me.

The different eras of a sport and the changing perceptions of those that live in those eras is why I would never go for a 'best ever' debate. I think narrowing things to a top 5 or so is fair.
Federer and Sampras would have arguments to be on that list in the last 15 years. I'd say the rest would be from further back.

Brian in Oxford said...

Tennis seems like one of those sports where even 1 set of lessons can make you drastically better than you were before.

Of course, I used to think that about golf, only to be hideously wrong....and poorer.

verbal97 said...

I think a top 5 of all time would still be difficult. Choose five of these...Rod Laver, Roy Emerson, Ken Rosewall, Arthur Ashe, John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors, Bjorn Borg, Mats Wilander, Ivan Lendl, Boris Becker, Stefan Edberg, Andre Agassi, Jim Courier, Pete Sampras, Roger Federer.

Mikepcfl said...

The Simpsons' parody of '24' was its funniest episode in years. I thought the plot was more exciting than the actual plot for '24' this season!

Homer had a great line after he got thrown in a dumpster, something like "you're not even trying, I'm still alive."

verbal97 said...

For women it's just as hard: Margaret Court, Martina Navratilova, Evonne Goolagong, Chris Evert, Billie Jean King, Steffi Graf, Monica Seles, Martina Hingis, the Williams sisters, Justine Henin

Kurt said...

Dan, 44 posts by you on Varsity Dad, 2 total responses. Quit the "soft launch" bullshit and realize nobody wants to talk about you making your 1 year-old son into a Florida fan.

Anonymous said...

Lessons are more likely to make you better faster in golf than tennis. In tennis you need to be in shape to play which takes time. In golf, having a proper grip, backstroke and overall mechanics are crucial. Going from having no idea to being able to at least hit the ball straight a reasonable percentage of the time comes fairly quickly. Then improving from there comes at a snail's pace.

verbal97 said...

I think golf is a bit easier. In order to get enjoyment from playing tennis, you have to play with someone of somewhat equal skill. With golf, it's you vs. the course.

ToddTheJackass said...

I think lessons in tennis can help you become better quicker than in golf, but ONLY if you devote time to practicing. In other words, I think you'd improve a lot by having 5 tennis lessons combined with 15 hours or so of practicing/playing, whereas I'm not sure if you'd see that same kind of improvement in golf.

I know one of the problems I have teaching tennis is that people expect to get a lot better from lesson to lesson, but if you don't practice and play using what you've learned, it's hard because you have to keep going over the basics everytime until it becomes memorized/subconscious.

My favorite people to give lessons to are the people who play with a friend regularly, but haven't yet developed any irreversible habits yet (good or bad).

I think with both golf and tennis though, the most important and difficult thing is teaching people how to keep good balance.

Brian in Oxford said...

I get told all the time that my golf swing is F'ed up because I have too much of a baseball weight-shift between my legs. With no lessons I dropped from 135 to about 105 over 4 years....then took lessons and now I'm back up around 125 for eighteen holes!

As for tennis, it IS a lot easier if all you're doing is chasing down balls and hitting with someone similar in ability. If you can serve, you can play! But I've certainly never had anyone show me how to line up two-handed shots from either side. There's not too much to differentiate my shots from badminton or ping pong shots.

Anonymous said...

What? No mention that the Draft Lottery is tomorrow,Dan?

Geoff said...

That's funny. When I was like 14 or 15 I started golfing using a baseball swing basically. Could hit the ball pretty straight and pretty far so my mom decided to get me some lessons. After that I couldn't hit the ball long and I couldn't hit the ball straight so out of frustration I stopped playing completely.

verbal97 said...

two-handed forehands???

chipp said...

Don't knock the 2-handed forehand: Bill Gates used it playing doubles with Agassi against Jeff Bezos and Sampras. He had a lot of control and power on both sides. I'm sure he would beat me soundly and I've played 2 seasons of league tennis.

marcomarco said...


You must be on crack.

Yankees Sweep - they are back in the race

7 back with a double-A pitching rotation. Okey dokey.

nsrrder said...

Why is it someone goes nuts if an arena isn't sold out for a playoff game?? Not everyone has playoff ticket money and they sell a large portion of postseason tix to corporate shmucks anyway. So, the chance that all of the true Spurs fans are turning away is a bit bogus. I'm from Atlanta and I always found it funny when 2-3k seats would be empty for a MEANINGLESS nlds game versus the Rockies or some other (yawn) wildcard team would create a firestorm in the north eastern U.S. media (see Dan Shanoff) "OH MY GAWD!!! Those unwashed masses in dixie don't know how to root for their baseball team....what pathetic jokes they are." Please.

ndyanksfan05 said...

7 back with about 120 to sox are going to come back to earth and yanks are going to hit a stride - double a pitching my ass - Wang, Mussina, Pettite, Clemens and Hughes. In my opinion, the pitching (save saturday's disaster) has not been the problem of late. It has been poor hitting...once they start firing on all cylinders they are going to be fine (maybe not win the east, but they will push for it and take the wild card)

ToddTheJackass said...

Yeah, I know better than to write-off the Yankees just yet. In the past week or so, having Clippard and Rasner start does resemble a Double-A rotation (Red Sox had Hansack and Gabbard). But once Hughes gets back and Clemens into the rotation they'll be a lot more solid. But still they'll have the problem that really Wang is the only guy you can expect to go 7 innings.

The problem is that Damon is playing hurt, and Melky is struggling too much to play everyday. Also Cano hasn't lived up to his "could win a batting title" expecatations, and Abreu looks to be older than Julio Franco. I'm sure you could say that some of the guys will turn it on, but it's also hard to imagine A-Rod getting as hot as he was in April, or for Jeter and Posada to keep hitting as well as they've been though.

But yeah, ton of baseball left to be played. I think the Yankees win 2 out of 3. Anything more and it'd be huge for the Red Sox.

Anonymous said...

The Spurs are definitely the most boring team in basketball, but they also the most fundamental which is what makes them so good. I still hate watching them though, unless the Lakers are beating their ass!

Kevin said...

Deron Williams: 34 points, including 18 in the fourth quarter. His team might be headed to an early exit, but Williams has already clinched "Breakout Player of the Playoffs."

Um, how exactly are the Jazz headed for an "early exit"? They were the 5-seed coming in, and they made the conference finals - way more than was expected of them. The Mavs made an early exit. The Jazz will not.

rafael said...

How can Eva marry Tony right now? DIdn't you see the season finale!?

Anyways...ESPN calls this "rivalry week" in aside from NY/BOS is playing their Rival?