Wednesday, October 27, 2010

SPORTS: On the Whole, the Sixers Would Rather NOT Be in Philadelphia...Tonight

Well, what's going to be the point-spread tonight when the final whistle blows on the Philadelphia 76ers-Miami Heat game? It's going to be huge. The Sixers might very well be playing without Andre Iguodala and the Heat are coming in off an embarrassment last night against the Celtics that looked like it was edging into humiliation territory one quarter in.

Then, LeBron James turned his team into Cleveland redux, going one on one with the Boston team. It must have felt like old times for the Kingly One as he couldn't get any other teammate to step up and take the pressure of making the game competitive off his shoulders. So he gets his 31, a few rebounds and a few assists and a loss in crunch-time. He left Ohio for the scorn, ridicule and THIS?

But what of the other peripatetic wandering south soul, Chris Bosh?

Bosh's comments to Dave Feschuk in the Toronto Star today paint an incredibly sorry picture. He had to leave Toronto to get on TV. How incredibly vain. Oh, he's going to get on TV but it will be completely obscured by the bright lights shining on James and Dwyane Wade. Despite Wade's virtual complete absence in training camp due to injury and legal proceedings, I don't remember the Heat running a single play for the once-focal point of the Toronto Raptors. Having shucked his hairdo, his number, and by extension his nickname (CB4) in his haste to beat it out of Toronto, Bosh has been looking for a new nickname. Since team play dictates he might have to rebound a few misses and toss them back to get his own points, it's tempting to refer to him as The Garbageman. But that's disingenuous. Nope. Chris 'The Valet' Bosh, I now dub thee.

The Heat weren't going to go 82-0 and even after tonight's piecing of Philly, won't go 81-1. The Heat have holes, largely in the forecourt where Bosh and Anthony were called 'undersized' all night by the broadcast crew. Two seven-footers undersized? Well, yeah. Bosh has never been a good on the ball defender, getting a few blocks coming off his man to make him look better than average at some points. And Anthony blocks shots occasionally. But big, aggressive front lines will give the Heat fits. The Heat's half-court offence is going to be dependent on three things: James' driving ability, James' three-point shooting and the ability for some of the scrubs to hit three-pointers when James and Wade don't have the ball or are in a passing mood. On some nights, one, two or all three of those dependencies won't be operating, making them beatable.

Bosh is going to pay a heavy price for his TV jones. I heard some touts saying he'd drop from 24 pts and 10 rebounds nightly to 20 and 8, based on fewer scoring opportunities and fewer misses by his teammates. Now every team Miami plays isn't going to be the superior Boston defence, but the Miami offence has options 1 (and 1A) in James and 2 in Wade. There is NO WAY IN HELL that Bosh gets a sniff of 20 a night on the scoresheet.

Not if they don't run any plays for him. But at least he'll get an 'also starring' credit on the TV.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

SPORTS: Some Shots

Some miscellanea from the sports world that I would be tweeting about, but I don't do twitter...

Two very entertaining hockey teams to watch right now: Edmonton Oilers and Toronto Maple Leafs. I think the the former will be entertaining all season long and I really think the world of Jordan Eberle. The latter? Well, they have a perfect record and the parade routes are being planned even as I type this. But injury to any of the top six forwards, especially Kessel, will send the Leafs plummeting to the ground. But they are fun to watch right now. That WILL happen. But for right now, fun. And that's from a Leaf-hater.

Now that Carey Price has his head screwed on straight, Montreal's fun too. Wait'll the Habs get Andrei Markov back. My barely out of the playoff prediction looks bad.

The Toronto Argonauts are approaching apoplexy time for me now. The stout-hearted defence and the creative special teams are being done in by the Cleo Lemon decision. I applaud coach Jim Barker (EASILY Coach of the Year) for his loyalty. It's a solid principle. But Lemon is so woefully inadequate as a CFL quarterback that I think Barker is doing a disservice to the rest of the team by playing the one-time starting Miami Dolphin pivot. I know Dalton Bell has fizzled in two games. But he hasn't dropped the ball with the regularity that Lemon lays it on the carpet. Interceptions? Yes. Unfortunately. But I suspect Bell won't do what Lemon did on the critical series Friday night. He hung onto the ball a ridiculously long period of time and took an eight yard sack. Then, he threw behind a wide-open receiver (James Robinson if I recall correctly). I would have benched Lemon right there. It's one thing to make a physical mistake, even a bad one, like the Robinson throw. It's another thing completely to make the mental mistake on the first play. Lemon isn't ready to play. And if he isn't now, what makes any rational, sane man think he will ever be?

Sticking with the Argo QB position, would it make any sense at all to bring in Casey Printers? The Delusional One has parlayed one great year in 2004 into an interesting CFL career spread around a total waste of time stop in Kansas City to hold a clipboard on an NFL sideline. He's failed in Hamilton. Failed on his return to BC. But even at this worst, is he any worse than Cleo Lemon? If the Argos weren't owned by the same guy that owns BC, the team that just paid Printers to go away, I'd say HECK YEAH! But Braley has to know just how much trouble Printers is. Can't see him okaying Printers taking another bite out of his wallet here in Hogtown. Plus, there would be that not-so-faint stench of a 'trade' between the two teams owned by one man. Printers would be more trouble than he's worth, in so many ways. But a Lemon-hater can dream, can't he?

The Toronto Raptors have looked like world-beaters (vs. Phoenix, who gets a chance at revenge this afternoon) and liked beaten animals (Boston, twice). The team hasn't demonstrated ANY shooting ability and have sucked at the free throw line. And all any of them can say, "It's still pre-season." I fear greatly this team doesn't have the instant-on button too many of them think they have. I have great faith in the talent remaining on this roster. I DO think there are step-up opportunities aplenty at that the team does have a shot and the eighth-place spot and a chance to be the Miami Thrice's first playoff victim. But hustle and concentration needs to become more second-nature for this team. A slow start with this team will result in an implosion. Triano won't survive. Guarantee that trades will happen too. This could be a D-League roster after the spring trade deadline. On the other hand, I've felt all summer long that the Raptors will score less, defend better and win WAAAY more than most people think. I just wish I had seen fewer pre-season games.

Speaking of watching the games on the tube (well, you know, the LCD), is there any WORSE chiron right now than on Raptor games. The scoreboard is NEVER up to date. I've actually seen it get two baskets behind. And I think the Raptor broadcasters know. How else do you explain play-by-play guy Matt Devlin giving the score so frequently? IF he was doing radio, sure. But on TV, the score's supposed to be seen all the time. And another gripe, let's keep the camera on the action EVEN just after a whistle. Shots of the bench don't mean much when there's some after-the-whistle shenanigans resulting in a tech. Happened THREE times in the last game I watched. In fact, there should be a limit to bench shots. Say ONE a game. For ALL sports. You hear me TSN with your otherwise fabulous CFL broadcasts?

In the ancient days, when I did the announcing at CBA games with the Toronto Tornados, we had an over-the-hill forward/centre named Larry McNeill, who was a collegiate star at Marquette. He was a bit of a sourpuss who'd tired of globe-trotting and wanted to get a last pay cheque or two before hanging up his gym shoes. McNeill was as consistent a guy as I have ever seen. He complained to the ref on EVERY play. I don't mean most. I mean ALL. If he was shooting, rebounding or setting a pick, he got fouled every time. If he was on defence he was being mauled by the other guy. After every shot he'd run back up the floor slapping one wrist, elbow or another, claiming he'd been hit in the motion. Still, McNeill would look like a piker in today's NBA where nary a player has EVER committed a foul. I know it looks like overkill, but I applaud the movement to get these millionaires to stop whining at every call. Sorry guys, but just SHUT UP and play the game. Now, if we could only get rid of those self-aggrandizing chest-thumping look-at-me moments ...

I see where the LA Dodgers have refused Tim Wallach an interview with the Toronto Blue Jays for empty manager's chair. They knew. I knew. Right fit. They'd have lost him. My original want list was Ozzie Guillen, Freddi Gonzalez and Wallach in that order. Well, the last two are now off limits and the first was never going be available... this season. Would you consider Nick Levya on a year-by-year deal a good idea? NEXT winter, Guillen's probably available AND that's when the big Blue Jay push is supposed to occur. Boston pitching coach John Farrell is an interesting option, as is Tampa Bay bench coach Dave Martinez. But neither's managed before. Farrell would be a good organization hire because he's done just about every off-field job. But no management experience has been a flaw with too many Toronto bosses. That SHOULD exclude Martinez too, but I think he's the one guy without experience I'd take a chance on. If this team skews any younger and faster, I'd throw my lot in with him (Pat Listach might be runner up in my rankings). IF, however, the team gets older and wiser and more set (in terms of lineup), I can see where swiping Farrell from Boston would be a move that helps Toronto and hurts Boston at the same time. That's good too.

St. Louis and their centerfielder Colby Rasmus are itching for a divorce. One in-the-know blogger suggests that the Cardinal claims that Rasmus is off the trading block is for show only. One trade he bruited as fair recompense would be Rasmus to Toronto for Shaun Marcum and Zach Stewart. The Blue Jays certainly have the pitching depth to absorb that trade. But I still think the Cardinals would be getting too much in the trade. And adding an outfielder to the Jays roster would mean Bautista goes to 3B. I'm okay with that, although it does take him out of his ideal position in RF. An outfield of Snider-Wells-Rasmus (Or ideally, Snider-Rasmus-Wells) would be close to adequate, despite Snider's less than stellar defence in left) would end any thoughts of spending on Adrian Beltre. But losing Marcum, the leader of the young guns in the starting rotation, if the least-talented of the lot, would be felt in more ways than one. My solution? Make it SNIDER and Stewart for Rasmus, keep Bautista in right in what would be a superior defensive outfield (especially if you could con Wells into moving to LF) and THEN go and sign Beltre. Add Soriano and Greinke as I previously discussed. Next October would certainly be fun.

I know just about nobody beyond family and friends is interested in the Commonwealth Games. Neither am I much. But you have to applaud Alexandre Despatie. Enough said for this post.