Friday, May 27, 2011

05/27 (Heat Like Whoa) Quickie

Whoa. That's the only reaction to last night's close-out by the Heat to dispatch the Bulls in 5 games and advance to the NBA Finals.

If the earlier wins in the conference finals -- or that first win in Boston that effectively ended the Celtics' chances -- were the teaser, the final three minutes of last night's game were the Heat's jaw-dropping potential, fully realized.

LeBron, dominant on both offense and defense. Wade, supremely effective. And even Bosh, with the quietest 20 and 10 you'll see.

This is it -- the arrival. Or, more accurately, the Arrival.

Because barring a Mavs win in the Finals -- and they certainly seem like they could pull it off -- we have entered the Heat dynasty. Lament as you see fit.

About that entirely tantalizing Heat-Mavs Finals, I am waiting for the moment when the Heat switches Bosh off of Dirk and lets LeBron guard Dirk, the same way he guarded Rose. As unstoppable as Dirk has been this spring, LeBron seems like he could be the one to contain him.

Like many, I'm rooting for the Mavs, both because of the "Anyone But the Heat" factor and because I have come around to appreciate the aging, last-chance storyline from Dallas (not to mention appreciating the way they mowed down the West). But I'm saying Miami in 7.

More on the radar:

*Second-day Buster Posey reactions: People applauding him for blocking the plate (even if he wasn't really blocking the plate) are the same ones applauding the football players who "just shake it off" when they get a concussion. Catchers should stay the hell out of the way -- and baserunners should be ejected for initiating contact with catchers. The bigger point is that Posey needs to move to first base.

*Ohio State scandal, cont'd: It's so clear that the athletic department was actively delinquent in their "investigation" that I have to wonder if you can apply "lack of institutional control" to the Athletic Director himself.

*This weekend: Barca-Man. U in the Champions League final tomorrow afternoon. Even if you don't like soccer, well worth tuning in for. Barca is playing just about as well as any club team has ever played.

*Indy 500: Another event where I don't care much about the sport, but I will tune in for the pageantry and excitement of the event itself.

*Love the sale of 20% of the Mets to David Einhorn, basically a rich fan. It's important for those last two words -- he's rich, meaning he can/will buy the other 80% (or at least 31%) when the Wilpons finally crumble under the weight of the Madoff problems. And he's a fan -- a Mets fan -- meaning he will care deeply about the team and want it to succeed. Best news for Mets fans since they made the NLCS half a decade ago.

*So funny that USC is shocked -- shocked! -- that the NCAA denied the appeal that the program was corrupted during the Reggie Bush scandal.

*Caroline Wozniacki out at the French Open: The French has always been a quirky tournament, but this is a stunning exit for the world No. 1. Wasn't even close.

Have a fantastic Memorial Day weekend. We'll be going strong all weekend long at Quickish, so pop by to keep up quickly with all the best takes on the biggest things that are happening, plus recommendations to some really good stuff worth spending your time on this weekend.

-- D.S.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

05/26 (Win or Bust) Quickie

Today's storylines: Dirk Nowitzki and Kevin Durant vs. Expectations, Wilson Valdez vs. Buster Posey, Mike Brown vs. Kobe Bryant, Lightning vs. Bruins,

A common theme I write about here is the power of expectations, and it was on full display last night

*Marvel at Dirk's reaction to winning the Western Conference title:


That's because the conference title is meaningless to him. All that matters is the NBA title. Anything less than the NBA title is a failure.

For the past few years, the Mavericks have been one of the few teams that are actually trying to WIN NOW -- that particular season -- accompanied by the expectation of "NBA ring or bust."

And so the West title is necessary but not sufficient. It was refreshing to see Dirk saunter right off the court, not even bothering to do a postgame TV interview, because he couldn't care less.

Aside from not wanting the Heat to win, it's easy to get behind rooting for Dirk and the Mavs in the Finals.

*Meanwhile, there is Kevin Durant and the Thunder. Durant was devastated. Yes, the individual games were a few plays from breaking the other way, yet the series was not close. Durant looked like he was sure he was going to win the NBA title -- or certainly the West title -- and presented the entirely fair idea that he couldn't care less about the Mavs.

And yet the expectations for the Thunder -- let's say preseason (or even at the start of the playoffs) -- were that they would make some steps this season, but not yet be ready to compete for an NBA title. In that respect, they entirely matched their expectations -- perhaps even exceeded them.

If they had won a first-round series then lost in the West semis, the idea would have been "Progress." Getting to the West finals is "Progress!" It is not unreasonable to accelerate OKC's expectations in '11-12 that anything less than winning the West is a failure.

Welcome to real expectations.


*Lightning-Bruins going to Game 7 on Friday. Nothing better in sports than an NHL Playoffs Game 7 with the Stanley Cup Finals on the line (except with the Stanley Cup title on the line).

*Today's Name to Know: Wilson Valdez, the Phillies position player who got the pitching win last night when the Phillies-Reds game went 19 innings. Awesome. Watch this homemade video.

*Buster Posey: Yikes.

*Should the Lakers have consulted Kobe about hiring Mike Brown? Here's the downside: What if Kobe says he's not a fan. Then the Lakers either kowtow to their aging star or mock him by making the hire anyway.

(Here's the thing no one is talking about: The way the Lakers were drummed out of the playoffs this year? That's not going to get better. The Lakers are no more likely to win the NBA title next year -- or beyond -- than they were the day after they got swept out. As of now, they fall in the bucket of "fascinating, but not a real contender." In that case, who cares WHO is coaching? For that matter, if they love Andrew Bynum too much to trade him for Dwight Howard, why not trade Kobe? It's hardly heresy. The only thing keeping Lakers fans from dealing with this is their denial that the window hasn't slammed shut this year.)

Keep up with Quickish all day.

-- D.S.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

05/25 (Heat On Brink) Quickie

This morning: Heat vs. Destiny, LeBron James vs. Derrick Rose, Canucks vs. the Stanley Cup Finals, Mike Brown vs. Kobe Bryant, Barry Bonds vs. what you think of Barry Bonds, Hines Ward vs. Emmitt Smith and more.

Heat stave off Bulls to take commanding/decisive 3-1 series lead
: And there you have it. The Heat are going to win the East and make the Finals.

LeBron seems unstoppable (particularly when guarding Derrick Rose, who has fallen apart; it's as if LeBron is taking the MVP-vs-MVP thing very very seriously). Wade had a terrible game...right up until he took over. Bosh was solid.

The Bulls are the new Cavs: Built for regular-season success, then stumbling in the playoffs against a team with more star power and experience -- a theme that also runs in the West, with the Mavs putting away the green Thunder. (But Derrick Rose's dunks: Oh my.)

Canucks win West, headed to Stanley Cup: I'm merely a casual hockey fan, but I can get behind a Canadian team in the Cup finals. The game-/series-winning goal is a must-see.

Mavs closing out Thunder tonight? Probably. More opportunities for fans to appreciate Dirk in new ways.

Lakers hiring Mike Brown? The reviews are in, and they are almost universally... "meh." You can only imagine what Kobe is thinking.

Barry Bonds paying for Bryan Stow's kids' college educations: You can dislike Bonds -- you can hate him, frankly -- but you mustmustmust admire what he did here. (And that he didn't look for publicity -- it just sort of leaked out.)

Hines Ward wins "Dancing With the Stars": Continuing the dynasty-like dominance of athletes on that show.

Politics: I'm a sucker for all videos of President Obama playing sports. Here he is playing Ping-Pong in England.

New post on Varsity Dad? Actually, two new posts on Varsity Dad.

-- D.S.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

05/24 (OKC Choke) Quickie

That was just about as big of a choke as you will see in sports: Losing a 15-point leads in the game's 5 minutes -- playing at home, in a must-win playoff game no less.

This doesn't feel like the kind of loss that you rally from, at least this season. It feels indelible. The Thunder go to Dallas to try to steal one in Game 5, bringing the series back to OKC for Game 6. Then -- if they win that -- a toss-up Game 7 with all the momentum back.

But this doesn't feel like that kind of loss. This feels like a door-slamming, come-back-when-you're-old-enough loss. This feels like the loss that fuels your workouts all summer and toughens you up for the next playoff opportunity when you are up 15 with 5 minutes to play.

It doesn't feel like the kind of loss where you simply bounce back, then win three straight -- including two on the road against a veteran team playing better than anyone right now.

I don't want to lean back on the easy narrative -- young team folds in face of vets. In any systemic failure like we saw, it's not a single thing, but (per Hollinger) at least a dozen things that all had to happen for this to end like it did. If any of those individual things breaks differently, the Thunder win and it's "what gritty competitors!" as the narrative.

But they didn't win -- they blew it and it almost assuredly cost them their season. I'm not sure that OKC wins 2 of 3 from Dallas had they tied the series last night. I'm sure they don't win 3 straight.

Not against a Mavs team so sure of itself that even a 15-point deficit with 5 minutes to go isn't enough to finish them off.

If you didn't drop by Quickish yesterday, there were some incredible must-reads from Shanoff/Quickish favorites -- Jeff MacGregor on Lance, Wright Thompson on Harvey Updyke, Tommy Craggs on Chris Bosh -- and just a bunch of other good stuff. (Be sure to check out that "save of the playoffs" by Bruins goalie Tim Thomas.)

-- D.S.

Monday, May 23, 2011

05/23 (Bosh!) Quickie

What we saw last night was the reboot of Chris Bosh's reputation, up 'til this point plenty maligned -- I've been a solid proponent of the "Big Two-and-a-Half" theory, but when Bosh is playing like that (and LeBron and Wade are playing like they did), the Heat are unbeatable.

I love what Tommy Craggs wrote over at Deadspin about Bosh last night:
"I don't go in for all the "Chris Bosh is soft" crypto-gay-baiting. Big men don't all have to be Moses Malone to be useful (remember when Hakeem Olajuwon turned David Robinson inside-out with nothing but fallaway 10-footers?). But what Bosh did yesterday — hitting jump shot after jump shot, finding little seams in the paint, and generally looking like a very elongated version of Ricky Pierce — was soft, as soft as it was deadly, and triply demoralizing as a result. He hung 34 points on Chicago in all, and as a Bulls fan I can report that it was a bit like being smothered with a goose-down throw pillow for three hours."
Meanwhile, in the not-so-crypto-gay-baiting world, there was Joakim Noah shouting "F--k you, f-----t!" at a Heat fan, which was depressing for me in two ways: (1) I hate that kind of talk and (2) I'm a huge Noah fan and thought of all players, the sophisticated Noah would be way above something like that. (I thought the same thing about Kobe, but probably double for Joakim.)

Anyway: With a Bosh breakthrough, I think it's Heat in 6.

Tonight: Thunder-Mavs Game 4 in a must-win for OKC, playing at home down 2-1 in the series. Should be a fun one.

Lance Armstrong on "60 Minutes": Michael Wilbon -- who is turning into a quality value-add follow on Twitter -- set the new conventional wisdom: It is very very very hard to continue to believe Lance Armstrong's denials. Hamilton was simply too credible-sounding, even with the lies in his past (which would be necessary to conduct the initial cover-up anyway).

Must-see video: Kyle Singler's latest trick-shot vid is really well done.

Great "longish" read: The New Yorker on Fred Wilpon, the Mets owner, who either spoke entirely too frankly about his star players or knowingly figured that if he trashed Reyes and Wright and Beltran, it would distract sports fans and media from the bigger story that his franchise's financial situation is a shambles and he really should lose the team.

Lots of great stuff on Quickish today. Pop by and catch up!

-- D.S.