Mic Check

We’re back!

Miguel Cabrera Should Win AL MVP

Image

EDITOR NOTE: Sorry that it’s been extremely quite on here of late. I know we all want to update more. And I have plenty to say about the 2012 MLB campaign. And jesus, were my standings prediction comically off!

As we roll closer to postseason play, there is plenty up for debate (who will get in, who will win, were the Nationals right in shutting down Strasburg?, etc.) but one that seems to be causing a lot of debate is who should win the AL MVP. The race has come down to two players essentially, the Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera and the Angels rookie phenom Mike Trout.

After a discussion with a friend, I decided to do some research and while Trout’s stats this year (.327 AVG, 27 HRs, 77 RBIs) have been nothing short of remarkable, especially for a rookie, I am sorta surprised the edge hasn’t favored Cabrera more. Just looking at his those stats should end this debate right now (.333 AVG, 40 HRs, 129 RBIs, .396 OBP, .612 SLG). Truly incredible numbers.

At the time of writing this, he is only two home runs behind the Rangers’ Josh Hamilton, and if he surpasses him, that would give him the Triple Crown. He’d be the first offensive player, in either league, to achieve this feat since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967. Even if he doesn’t catch Hamilton, his numbers are just absolutely dominating.

Both are playing for teams that are creeping slowly out of contention but in terms of overall importance to the league and their team, there has been nobody better this year then Miguel Cabrera. I think people favor Trout just because of his story. A Rookie Of The Year / MVP is exciting but Cabrera SHOULD and MIGHT win the Triple Crown.

No doubt, Trout has been nothing short of of incredible since his call up and I think it’s safe to bet your house on the fact that he’ll win Rookie Of The Year. And yes, you can even say he hasn’t played the entire year since he was called up on April 27th. But 2012 has been Cabrera’s year.

As for NL MVP, now that one is a little more complicated.

Miami Heat Win 2012-2015 NBA Finals!

So the Miami Heat won the 2012 NBA Finals? I’m not sure, I fell asleep during halftime. Assuming they won, where do we go from here? About 95% of America dislike the Heat and around the same percentage dislike LeBron James. So we can call this a win for the Heat and a loss for American basketball fans. And why would you ACTUALLY LET EDDY CURRY HAVE A RING?! What does it all mean?! This is serious.

Well, we all saw the video of Kevin Durant sobbing in the tunnel. Without question, the classiest player in the NBA now knows what it means to fail. At age 23, it is a very valuable lesson to learn. You can expect to see the Durantula come back next year with a fire in his heart and with a serious vengeance. This could mean that the next NBA season could spark a whole different world of Kevin Durant – complete with post moves, better board crashing and solid defense. Honestly, I can’t wait. On the other hand, there is the small possibly that this eats away at his psyche considering how young he is. Could this destroy Durant? I’m about 98% sure it won’t, but there’s still that 2% possibility. He doesn’t seem like the type to give up, or ever admit defeat. That’s what we all love about KD -perseverance. At age 23, I was passed out somewhere with a 40 in my hand. I can’t say I’ve done better since. In any case, I think it’s safe to say that we’re in for KD’s best season yet.

On the other hand, where does this leave the Heat? Well now that LeBron probably (remember I fell asleep at halftime) has his ring, how will he take it? Will he get fat eating the King’s Feast in celebration? Will he come back with the same greed that Jordan did after his first title? People are quick to compare LeBron to Jordan but there are some obvious faults to this train of thought. The major factor is that LeBron doesn’t have the same work ethic as Jordan or even Kobe. Those two were born winners. It’s in their blood. They can’t keep the next ring off their minds. Winning is everything and the losers get stepped over. It’s a constant battle for warriors only. LBJ doesn’t have that. He has a clothing store in Miami though! He’s too wrapped up in what other people think of him, his public persona. Maybe he’s content with one ring. But then he’ll go down as the greatest player to almost be the greatest. Before you get trigger happy and tell me I’m an asshole, I do appreciate LeBron’s talents. He is undoubtedly the best player in the NBA currently. My problem with him IS his public persona. It all started with the way he carried himself after Finals losses in Cleveland, continued with the decision / the parade, and continued further with how he acted during the 2011 Finals. ACTED NOT PLAYED! Everyone has bad games, but don’t be a dick about it. Or be a dick in the locker room, not on the court. The court is for outplaying and outclassing your opponent.

Let’s think about something truly horrifying for a second – this championship being the first in a 4-peat. Scary right? Incredibly. That would leave definitive failure in, say, Carmelo Anthony’s career. This would also mean three more years of bullshit for 95% of America. At this point, it’s just bad business! (Joke). But there’s nothing saying this isn’t a possibly. The big three will stay in Miami, along with the rest of that team sans Eddy Curry and probably Ronny Turiaf. The Thunder will surely get a little better but will it be enough? The Knicks will fall apart because that’s expected of them. The Celtics and Spurs will rebuild / are too old. The Pacers have no star or real scoring threat. The Bulls will have a slowed down Derrick Rose for half the season (barring more injuries). The Lakers need an overhaul. Etc, etc, etc. What the hell is going on here? Starting to look a little disheartening now isn’t it, America? It really does seem like the Thunder are the only hope. Don’t tell me the Nuggets, the Clippers or the Jazz will have what it takes either. The league is somehow getting watered down before our very eyes. It’s almost like they’re setting this up! 4 years of LeBron crying over a trophy? I don’t need that in my life.

Let’s hope I’m crazy or wrong or both. There’s match fixing scandals in football (soccer) all the time, who’s to say it can’t happen here?! (Another joke, kinda). What I’m really saying is that anything can happen. We will just have to wait and see what does. For now, best of luck to KD and the Thunder, and congrats to LBJ and the Miami Big Three.

Salvatore

Tagged , , , ,

My Secret Love Affair With The Houston Rockets

Dragic and His Mentor (Nash) Do Battle

I’ve noticed over the past few months that I’ve been drunk tweeting about a team that I can’t seem to get out of my head. I’ve also noticed within those few months that I’ve been playing NBA 2K12 with a team that I never considered playing with in the past. That team is the Houston Rockets. Before you yell at me about their inability to secure a playoff spot (or for drunk tweeting) consider that I’m not making a title argument for them. I’m talking about a team that down the road will cause trouble in the West, especially with the decline of the two ailing super-giants within the conference (the Spurs and the Lakers). Those teams aren’t getting any younger and will soon be victims to their lack of growth or a ‘back-up plan.’ So it should be apparent that within the next few years these two teams will slip considerably as they never planned on building anything for the future. The Spurs have no replacement for Duncan or Manu, two vital parts of their game. They have a very deep bench but without an effective big man they will have to look elsewhere for answers. The Lakers have nothing to fill the gap that Kobe will leave as his body continues to breakdown and possibly retire because he doesn’t want to be a 15 PPG guy. Yes, I know they have a potential franchise player in Bynum (if he can stay healthy), but with no depth at all, a rebuilding process may occur sooner rather than later. With that being said, the Rockets are poised for Western conference contention as long as they play their cards right, meaning making the right trades, keeping the right players, and acquiring a little extra.

Here’s how I see it: Goran Dragic has proven himself to be one of the top point guards in the NBA (crazy, right?). I’m serious, here me out. Since the All-Star Break (and when Lowry went down) he’s averaged 16.6 PPG, 7.2 APG (to 3.0 TO’s), and 1.7 steals per game. In the month of April alone he’s reached 20.1 PPG, 7.6 APG (to 3.2 TO’s) and 1.9 steals per game. Shooting percentage lies between 47.6% to 48.1% with 3PT percentage at 36.1% to 38.3%. This tells us that he can turn it on when necessary. He’s only been in the league 3 years, playing second fiddle for most of the time to Steve Nash (what better teacher than Nash?). He’s proven himself in the playoffs for the Suns. He has the “clutch-gene.” He’s a keeper. The Suns blew it by trading him away, and the Rockets would be smart to not make the same mistake.

But where does this put Kyle Lowry? Right where he belongs, on the bench. Now, I say that in the nicest way possible! I don’t think coming off the bench should have such negative implications. Lowry is a good point guard, so why can’t he take 25 MPG and lead the second unit? I think it’s a great idea. Look at what Memphis is doing with Z-Bo. Do you know of any second unit power forward that can stop Randolph? I can’t, and this adds a vital offensive threat that can hold down the fort until the starters get back in. I think the same thing should happen with Amar’e Stoudemire, but it won’t. The egos of the NBA have gotten too big for that. But that’s neither here nor there. I’m telling you, Kyle Lowry off the bench is perfect! I give Dragic the starting nod because I don’t think Lowry has the same big-time clutch sharpshooter qualities.

Kevin Martin
Image: Getty

Speaking of shooters, where’s Kevin Martin been? Martin is a proven scorer. He has a ridiculous release that screws with defenders. He’s quick to the rim and illusive with that quickness. He’s really just a genuine offensive threat. This year he has only played 40 games, missing a chunk of the season with a mysterious shoulder injury – in-turn giving him his lowest numbers since his sophomore year in 2005-06. That’s not something to worry about long term. When he returns next year, he’ll be looking to pick up the slack he left during this year. That is a scary thought. I’d venture to say that a healthy Martin is a top 5 shooting guard in the league. Either way you slice it, he’s deadly and shouldn’t be overlooked. Let’s keep in mind here how young these two guys are – Dragic: 25 years old, Martin: 29 years old. So they both have years to go. Let’s talk youth.

The Rockets have two solid, big up-side guys living in the small forward spot – Chandler Parsons and Chase Budinger (both 23 years old). Both of them have shown this year that they can hold down a starting role on the team and are interchangeable off the bench (very valuable). Both can shoot the three ball relatively well – Parsons at 33% and Budinger at 40%. Both can explode for 20+ a night when their number is called. I just really like these guys, and there’s a good chance both will develop into good role playing forwards within the upcoming years. As for their other forward, Luis Scola, he is about as close to the definition of ‘adequate’ as a player can be. His numbers aren’t eye-popping, but averaging 15.8 PPG and 6.5 RPG is a good contribution. The rebounding could be better, and that brings me to a major hole in their line up – rebounding, or better yet, a center.

Right now, the Rockets have Marcus Camby, who I LOVE from his days as a Knick and a Nugget, and Samuel Dalembert, who I don’t understand as a player in any way whatsoever. I don’t think Camby (4.9 PPG, 9.0 RPG, 1.4 BPG) has announced when he plans to retire, but at age 38, I can’t imagine that he’ll last much longer. So, with Camby as a non-factor, regardless of whether he stays for another year, that leaves Houston with Dalembert. Sammy D started off this year with some momentum. I only know this because my buddy picked him up in my fantasy league, and I watched him put up 20 points and 6 blocks in some games like a beast, and then he was missing practice, getting benched, and playing 15 minutes a game. He’s inconsistent, and he’s also 30 years old. So there’s an area of improvement for the Rockets. During this offseason, I’d like to see the Rockets bring in someone like Chris Kaman or Brook Lopez (both free agents) to keep Dalembert on the bench. It would also give them some decent depth at that role. Just a thought.

Within the next few years, if the Rockets can keep their core (the guys mentioned above) together, then I’d expect to see them become serious contenders in the Western Conference. Let’s say 3rd or 4th seed? Tied with the Grizzlies or the Clippers? Hold me to this and talk to me next year when I’m right.

Tagged , , , ,

To Panic Or Not Panic: Lincecum Vs. Halladay

We’re about a week and a half into the 2012 baseball campaign and already some interesting stories are brewing. The Dodgers have taken advantage of an easy schedule and have piggybacked on potential Triple Crown winner Matt Kemp to grab the best record in baseball. The Red Soxs are showing they might be even more vulnerable then everybody initially thought, with reports of tension in the clubhouse and now skipper Bobby Valentine publicly questioning veteran third basemen Kevin Youkilis’ dedication. Also, I still can’t figure whether or not the Miami Marlins are intentionally messing with us with their atrocious stadium, uniforms, and that god awful outfield statue. And please, don’t get me started on my fantasy baseball team.

One storyline I’ve been following closely are the reports that two of the game’s best pitchers, the Phillies’ Roy Halladay and the Giants’ Tim Lincecum are throwing at a much lower velocity then previous years. Both faced off against each other last night, which was the first time two pitchers with multiple Cy Young awards faced each other in a game since 2009.

During Spring Training, Halladay expressed anger regarding the comments made by Ken Rosenthal about his “issues,” calling it “Poor reporting on the extreme end of poor reporting.”

Regardless, his numbers have been pretty outstanding so far; 3 wins, a 1.17 ERA, 0.78 WHIP. But the reports are proving to be correct, as Halladay isn’t throwing as fast this year. He was hitting about 94 MPH last year at this point. This year he’s around 90 MPH.

Halladay isn’t really known for being a power pitcher in terms of speed though. And with all the innings he’s racked up over the years, Halladay would have to be a robot to avoid some sort of dip.

It does seem, however, that manager Charlie Manuel is saving his ace a bit too. His pitch count was high last night but with him breezing through the last three innings, he most likely could have finished it for the complete game. But I guess that’s why you pay closer Jonathan Papelbon $50 million dollars.

The Giants have a little bit more to be concerned about here. Lincecum is definitely looking a way off and it doesn’t help that things are a bit tense right now in San Fran with the news of Brian Wilson on the verge of a second career Tommy John surgery. Wilson’s injury is unfortunate but not as panic-educing as Lincecum’s issues obviously.

Compared to his disastrous second start, Lincecum settled down last night after giving up four runs in the first inning. This leads me to believe it’s just an issue of mechanics. And Tim certainly didn’t get any help defensively last night.

But when players struggle early on, the spotlight is much more intense. Is Lincecum hiding an injury? After watching last night, I doubt it.

As for the loss of velocity with both aces, it’s just too early to tell.

And remember this Giants fans, the last time Lincecum struggled for an extended period of time this badly during a season was 2010. I think you remember what ended up happening that year.

Tagged , ,

A Good Way to Waste a Morning.

Yesterday morning I woke up early, made some coffee and toast, and sat with my roommates watching highlights on NBAtv before they left to work. Eventually, around 10am, I was alone finishing my cup of coffee when I decided to goof around on the computer before hoping into the shower. I did my usual searches 80’s Pogues music videos and oddball Charlie Rose interviews.

At one point I decided to type “Lionel Messi” into the search bar. I’ve been making pretty big efforts to once again become a soccer fan, and I wanted to see what all the fuss was about the guy who leads Spain’s La Liga in Scoring. After my second cup of coffee and an hour later I understood what Bill Simmons and Steve Nash meant when he called him the most important athlete right now. The Argentinian forward is fast with a crossover that would make Allen Iverson gasp. The highlight reel’s for him scoring for FC Barcelona will make even a soccer hater’s jaw drop. So I leave you with some of my favorites on this beautiful Thursday afternoon.

(apologies for the music, I would have made some different choices, but oh well)

The Rise Of The Super Guard

The other day I was listening to Bill Simmons’ podcast, “The BS Report” with special guest Steve Nash. Nash mentioned a term when asked about the point guards of today that I had never heard before (or really thought about for that matter): the Super Guard. The Super Guard is something like a combo guard (i.e. Jason Terry, Rodney Stucky, Monta Ellis, etc.) but also nothing like a combo guard. When I think of a player than can play the point and the 2, it usually means that they don’t excel at running the point, but are sufficient enough to hold their own for small periods of time (this description can be dismissed when mentioning Allen Iverson, but let’s not go there). Super guards are much, much more than that. They can play the point at a high level, but have such athleticism that they can drive, post up, and muscle through their opposition for points. This position is somewhere in between the Point Guard and Shooting Guard, but whereas the combo guard is just sufficient in these areas the Super Guard excels both worlds. There are three guards in particular that fit into this category or new position that I’d like to talk about – Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, and John Wall. All three of these guys are explosive. All three of these guys have elite scoring ability. All three of these guys are Super Guards. They can pass, but they score too much to be true point guards.

Rose Powers Down Something Fierce
Image: Getty

I’d like to start with Derrick Rose. Of the three, he is the poster boy Super Guard. His ability to get to the basket is unparalleled for his size. He has the clutch factor. He really can do it all – plain and simple. Would you call him a PG in the true definition of the term? No. Anyone putting up 22+ points a game obviously isn’t a pass first kind of guy – or is he? This year Rose has been sidelined with a nasty groin injury, but when he has played he’s put up 22.8 PPG, a very impressive 8.0 APG, and 3.5 RPG. The proof of an MVP caliber player is in those numbers. How can you score 22 points a game and still have time to dish out 8 dimes? That’s because Derrick Rose has unlimited ways to get these things done. He is a threat from every spot on the floor, from every angle and from every direction. To go along with those numbers he has the maturity level of a 7 year veteran and a determination to win that hasn’t been seen since Kobe. I can’t imagine what a nightmare he would be to guard one on one. It hurts having so many friends that are Bulls fans taunt me with the plethora of Rose highlights. But with his extreme scoring talents, he also holds terrific court vision. When you have both of these talents, you can run the floor without restrictions. Instead of create plays, you can create the whole game. He is truly a Super Guard in every sense of the term.

Next up is Russell Westbrook. I call him Bruno. He just seems like a Bruno to me. A smug wise-guy type out of an Italian mafia movie. He’s the kind of guy that gets laughed at because of his size, and then knocks you out with one punch. Plus he’s got the attitude to boot. I honestly don’t like him very much – at least the way he carries himself on the court. I think we all know deep down that Kevin Durant feels the same way. But the talent is obviously there, and he knows how to win games. I don’t want to get into the Thunder and their chemistry right now because that is a whole different argument. Let’s be real here – Westbrook can fly. One second he’s at the three point line, the next hes hanging on the rim. He blew by how many defenders? Three? Dunked over who? Get out! Bruno is quick and nimble. His dunks are VIOLENT! Just nasty! He should be in the drunk contest (take a look at the dunk compilation video below). But he also is very lucky to have the best all around player in the NBA drawing attention away from him so he can crack the paint. What better distraction than KD? Nonetheless, he has supreme athletic abilities with the talent to make effective passes and make them look good. The elephant in the room here is that Bruno Westbrook DOESN’T make the passes often enough. That’s a maturity issue. He want’s to be the main attraction but he isn’t, and he needs to learn that.

Russell Westbrook Dunk Highlights

The last man I’d like to mention is Mr. John Wall (My buddy laughed at me when I added him to this list, and I just laughed back). The most undervalued elite point guard in the game today. Personally, I love the dude (and was going to write an article entitled ‘Breaking Down The Wall’ but decided to clump him in here. That’s my title. Not yours). Anyone that is able to average 7.8 APG with the Washington Wizards is OK in my book. He really doesn’t have anyone to pass to, so I’m not sure how this number is even possible.

He Can See Through You, Kris
Image: AP

Wall is another player that I’d like to see in the dunk contest. If you haven’t watched him play in a regular season game, you should’ve seen the Rising Stars Challenge from the All-Star Weekend. Everyone watches that, right? Well if you didn’t, pull up the last 5 minutes of the game and watch Wall go to work on the rim with pure power. There are some complaints that he hasn’t “gotten” his position yet. People are saying that he can’t see the floor with the best of them, but I ask you: “Who is he supposed to be looking for?! Andray Blatche? Trevor Booker? KEVIN SERAPHIN?!” The Wizards recently acquired Nenê (I wrote an article on that trade which you can read here), who is already injured (again). Now yes, there is some truth in his inabilities as a PG, but these are things that I don’t think he’ll have a problem figuring out as he develops into a dominant guard in the league. The bottom line is that he runs the offense on pure athleticism, and with that is able to control the tempo of his teams offense at a high level. Maybe he isn’t meant to see the floor like a pure point. Maybe he’s not supposed to “get it.” That’s what this article is about, isn’t it? Super Guards – and he fits the criteria.

Although I did only mention three guards, there are more around functioning at lower levels. The next time you watching a game, pay attention to how the guard is running the floor. Is he a shoot-first or a pass-first guard? How quickly does he move with the ball? How easily can he cut through the lane to power down a dunk? Does the guard run the offense or is he the offense? Just pay attention and you’ll see what I’m talking about. Steve Nash knows best, so at least listen to him.

Salvatore

Tagged , , , ,

MLB 2012 Predictions

It’s that time of year again where my mood dramatically improves while my social life dramatically suffers…baseball season! But who cares about stuff I can control, let’s focus on the stuff I can’t! Onward with the predictions.

Here’s how I think the divisions will work out in ’12.

NL EAST
1. Phillies
2. Marlins
3. Nationals
4. Braves
5. Mets

Of all the divisions, the NL East has certainly improved the most. The Phillies have dominated the division over the last five years and despite all the offensive concerns, there is no team in the East that can adequately compete with a rotation anchored by Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, and Cole Hamels. Hamels (perhaps inspired by his upcoming free agency?) is going to have Cy Young-caliber year. I see Hunter Pence stepping it up big time in the absence of Ryan Howard and Chase Utley.

The Marlins made huge moves this offseason, adding SS Jose Reyes, hurler Mark Buehrle, closer Heath Bell, and temperamental manager Ozzie Guillen. And while they have dramatically improved, I’m just not as confident as everybody else that this team will be that great. Too much ego creates too much risk. Reyes has always been streaky as well. But next to the Phillies, they have the best chance to take the crown.

The Nationals might be the next dynasty of the NL East but there are just too many question marks at this point. Will Pitcher Stephen Strasburg be able to stay healthy for the entire season? Will Jayson Werth prove he’s even somewhat worth his obscene contract? What will Bryce Harper offer when he’s called up? 2012 will be another year of building for this young and talented team. 2013 and beyond though? Look out.

The Braves haven’t done much to improve and then there’s The Mets……

Continue reading

Tagged , ,

Trade of the Season: McGee to Nuggs / Nenê to Wiz

Image: AP

So, the trade deadline has come and gone. The giant blockbuster we were all expecting to happen didn’t. Dwight is not only still on the Magic, but he signed a waiver saying he must stay with them until the end of the 2012-13 season. Tough break for the Nets, but I’m honestly pretty happy about it. I don’t want him to be in Brooklyn next year. I don’t want the next generation of New Yorkers to grow up to be Nets fans, although that seems inevitable (especially for Brooklyn and fans of Jay-Z). Jamal Crawford has stayed in Portland (but their coach has been fired – good news for him). Surprisingly, Monta Ellis was traded for Andrew Bogut giving the Bucks, if anything, an entertaining backcourt. But it remains to be seen how well Jennings and Ellis will play together. Mike D’Antoni resigned as the coach of the New York Knicks. I am EXTREMELY happy about this. But this is not the time nor the place. I’m here to talk about the McGee/Nenê/Young mini-blockbuster. Most importantly, the McGee/Nenê part. That’s not to say that adding Nick Young to the Clippers isn’t a good or bad move, but we all know what Nick Young does – create black holes. That is not what I’m interested in. This is the most intriguing trade of the year because it contains the most intriguing player – JaVale McGee.

To many, McGee is a joke. He has created that name for himself by constantly getting benched for his poor attitude. He also has quite the blooper reel under his belt for this year (see video below for some examples).

JaVale McGee Top 8 dumb Plays (HD)

He is incredibly immature and can be an off court problem as well. But he also has some serious talent, and I like him, especially when all the Nuggets had to offload was Nenê, whose numbers never really got to where they should be. He is the definition of injury prone (I credit him immensely for overcoming his battle with cancer). He is a fighter. He has heart. But from a purely basketball standpoint, I’m taking McGee every time.

McGee puts up solid numbers. Like most big men, his FT% is poor, but other than that he is a stat machine. His rebounding, scoring and blocking have all increased this year (averaging 11.9 PPG, 8.8 RPB, 2.5 BPG respectively), even under the disaster that is the Washington Bullets Wizards. Under George Karl, his numbers will continue to rise. Karl will also keep McGee in check better than whoever is coaching the Wizards (John Wall?). (Side note: I love John Wall and have nothing but respect for the kid. Article on him in the works). Regardless, JaVale will mature faster and learn more from one of the most prolific and well respected coaches of the last 20 years, than he would have if he stayed with the Wiz.

Nenê, on the other hand, is the center that never was. Every year I’ve watched (and hoped) for him to explode. I was banking on all-star numbers. I’d tell all my friends to ‘watch out for Nenê this year.’ That year never came, and doesn’t seem like it will ever come. He is injured too often to ever have a serious chance at getting in a groove. While he is a beast when healthy, those times are becoming more and more uncommon. That’s not to say his numbers aren’t respectable (13.4 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 0.9 BPG), but there is no upside. This is where Nenê will settle, and if anything decline. He also has 5 years left on a 13 million dollar contract that will inevitably lead to more time on the bench than on the court.

My prediction for McGee is a terrible adjustment period, then possibly some more bench time for immaturities sake, but then a sky rocket. I’m seeing him at 15 PPG, 10 RPB, and staying relatively level at 2.8 BPG within the next year or so. Those blocks are the difference maker. All it will take is for McGee to care more and grow up, and putting him on a playoff driven, well rounded, veteran-filled, very deep team may be the solution. The bottom line is that McGee has tremendous upside, while we all know what Nenê and Young can (and can’t) do. Great move for the Nuggets.

Salvatore

Tagged , , , , , , ,

An Attempt at MLS Fandom

In 1991, basketball consumed my life. Jordan was on the Bulls, I had a puppy named after Magic Johnson, and my dad put a mini-hoop in our driveway so I could practice my dunks. I was 9-years-old, living in suburban Los Angeles, and it would be years before I discovered punk-rock or read Kerouac’s On the Road. I was still a little kid, and life was good.

But a year later, in a whirlwind move, my parents decided to sell our house in Torrance, CA, and move back to Chile where I had been born and visited a couple of times, but could hardly call it home. My dad would take over my grandfather’s department store, and we would continue to live the good yuppie-California life, only in a different hemisphere where everyone thought my accent sounded Mexican.

The social experience only lasted about two years, and by ‘94 we were back in the ‘burbs. Turns out my parents had just as hard of a time adjusting to Santiago as I did. But one thing I did pick up during my stint (aside from a mean Chilean accent in Spanish) was a love for Fútbol. From the start I knew following the NBA would be a hard task, so I immediately got on board:

  1. I aligned myself with a team: La U (Universidad de Chile). My father was a lifetime Colo-Colo fan, but we managed to live under the same roof.
  2. I found new heroes: It was a glorious time for Chilean Soccer since Ivan Zamorano was the leading striker for Real Madrid, and Marcelo Salas played for River Plate and eventually S.S. Lazio.
  3. I began to play: Definitely a great exercise for a fat kid, I would eventually join the Israeli/Jewish country club of Santiago kids league where I sat on the bench most games.
But as soon as we got back to the US, following soccer became just too hard.
By the time the MLS had formed in ‘96, I was already too busy being awkward around girls and learning to play guitar to pay any attention. Opening season, my dad took me to a couple of Galaxy games for the same reason he’d take me to see Lakers that season: tickets were cheap, and they played close to home (this was the Vlade Lakers years).
But now that I’m 30, I am more of a sports dude than I’ve been in years. Last year, in the wake of the NBA finals and a fear of a lockout, I started paying attention to the Los Angeles Galaxy again. I was pretty taken aback by their playoff run to becoming the MLS cup champions.

So why not embrace this while I can? Why not try and find that same passion I had when I was a little kid lost in a strange country? The MLS seems to have matured into a league that people are actually starting to care about, and why not join in now while tickets are still really cheap!

I feel I will run into some pitfalls. Most people who dislike soccer argue that it’s boring and nothing ever really happens. I don’t know if I have a good rebuttal, yet I do know people seem to get really into it whenever the World Cup comes around (I might have worn the Chilean flag as a cape once), and maybe it’s about reaching that level of excitement.

In finding a way to approach this, I’m just going to try and dive in head first. I’ve got a team, the Los Angeles Galaxy, and I’m going to front the $20/month for the MLS DirecTV package. I have also made a commitment to a friend to go to at least 2 Red Bulls games this season, and I will go watch the Galaxy when I visit home this summer. So let’s do this! I’m pumped, I’m ready, all systems go!

So bear with me, Globo Sports fans, because I will use this blog as my running weekly journal. I will see if I can really, truly become a a soccer fan. I don’t know if it will be easy, but every World Cup I tell people “If the US ever really adopts this sport, we’ll be unstoppable.” Well, now it’s time to put my money where my mouth is.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 58 other followers