Wednesday, June 30, 2010

How Nyjer Morgan Got His Name

His parents named him Nyjer because they wanted to make white people really uncomfortable when saying their boy's name. In that same vain, I'm going to name my daughter Kike (pronounced Kee-kee) to ruffle a few gentile feathers.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Jewish Aisle

I was in Ellicott City's Giant looking for the Jewish aisle so I could indulge in some latkes until I discovered Ellicott City's Giant doesn't have a Jewish aisle. I guess I've taken for granted that grocery stores have a Jewish aisle all my life. Things will never be the same.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Knowing is Better

Washington Post writer Eric Prisbell has been somewhat criticized for telling John Wall about the true nature of the elder Wall's prison sentences. Wall did not know his father had spent time in prison for second degree murder. It was Prisbell who told him.

The knowledge may have muddied up the illusion Wall had of his father since he died when the future #1 pick was 8 years old. But it is always better to know. The later the truth is delivered, the more painful it is to hear. People are not perfect. Forgiveness is a great quality to practice. But we cannot forgive if we know the truth. It is always better to know the truth.

Friday, June 25, 2010

McChrystal is a Disgrace

General Stanley McChrystal has disgraced his post. With help from his aides, McChrystal sent a barrage of insults directed at his colleagues and his commander through the press. This took place as he's losing the war. As stupid as that was, that's not why I'm mad at McChrystal.

"McChrystal Meth" didn't just insult the administration, he did a poor job in doing so. Upon hearing Vice President's Joe Biden's last name, a top advisor said, "Did you say bite me?" What the hell? Is that supposed to be a play on Biden's name? Even so, it's a bad one and in any event, it’s meaningless. What China is to toys and clothes, Joe Biden is to gaffes and the best you could do was "Did you say bite me?" Awful.

Another called NSA James Jones "a clown" who is stuck in 1985. First of all, 1985 was a pretty good year. Secondly, who calls anyone a clown any more? What is it, 1985?

McChrystal thought Obama looked intimidated when he had a meeting with the top military brass. That's probably because Obama knew one of them would talk shit about him to the press. McChrystal was also furiously that Obama didn't initially know who he was. It brought up a bad memory because the same thing happened to McChrystal in high school involving the girl he liked.

The irony is that McChrystal's bad jokes have made him Late Night comedy fodder. Not only is it irony, it's also justice.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Recap of the 2010 NBA Draft

This was surely a weak draft. There were a lot of guys who abandoned school early that just left you scratching your head. If you can't dominate in college, is there really a chance that you'll be anything more than a bum in the pros? The first senior wasn't drafted until the 23rd pick in the first round. I have a feeling that some of the late first round seniors will have solid careers. They'll be better than most of the younger players taken earlier.

I hope John Wall is a great player. The league could always use more of them. It's especially fun to watch a great point guard. There are a lot of them currently in the NBA. My gut feeling is that Wall will be a good pro, but not the elite point guard he's projected to be. Can he really score in the half court? Will he be able to run a team if the game is slowed down? We'll have to see. Having Arenas as a role model might kill him as well.

Monroe and Turner should be good players too. But there are so many probable busts in the top 15, particularly among big men of limited skill. The NBA always favors athletic freaks over guys who can play basketball. Rarely does an overly-athletic guy without the skills develop into a star player.

I'm looking at a guy like Avery Bradley. He was so highly rated coming out of high school. One year at Texas wasn't as great as anticipated. And yet he left early and was chosen in the middle of round 1. He didn't show that he was worth a pick at that spot during his brief college career. The pick is totally based on the potential he showcased in high school. That year in college is supposed to temper enthusiasm for highly rated high schoolers. I just don't understand why NBA teams continually fall for the bait.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Case for Alvin Greene

Alvin Greene is the best candidate to represent South Carolina in the United States Senate. He has served in the military, receiving an honorable discharge from the army. He knows what our troops need to be successful. His opponent, Jim DeMint, has never served in the military.

Alvin Greene understands the plight of the average South Carolinian. He has faced hard times just like the rest of us. He has experienced the pain of unemployment. He has a plan to get people back to work. Jim DeMint has been riding high in Washington for the past 11 years. Before that, he was president of his own market research firm. It's been a while since Jim DeMint has been in touch with regular people.

Perhaps Alvin Greene isn't the most articulate candidate, as a result of his sacrifices in serving this great land. But substance is more important than flash. Alvin Greene knows how to fight. He's been fighting detractors his whole life. He hasn't been handed his successes. Our country has some difficult challenges ahead, but difficult challenges are nothing new to Alvin Greene.

In addition to his military service and ability to empathize with hardworking Americans, Alvin Greene has a degree in political science form the University of South Carolina. He has the experience and the knowledge.

Alvin Greene is a self-made man. As a good Christian, he knows a little something about faith. He risked his own scarce funds to run for the senate because he believed he could best represent South Carolinians. He doesn't have the big party bosses in Washington behind him. Jim DeMint has a campaign staff and a significant war chest. Alvin Greene has a vision for a better America and a dream of serving South Carolina as its senator. Alvin Greene won't be a slave to any party establishment. None helped him get to where he is. He achieved his nomination by the will of the people of South Carolina and those are the only people Alvin Greene answers to.

Vote Alvin Greene for the United States Senate.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Free Advice to Alvin Greene

A lot of people think you're a joke, Alvin Greene. You are certainly in trouble politically right now. But here is some (free) advice to get you back on the right track.

Let's start with your strengths. You fought in the military. Voters eat that up. Focus on that part of your life heavily. Your opponent, Jim DeMint, never served in the military. Yet, he's willing to put soldiers- other people's children- in harm's way.

You've been unemployed since last summer. That's nothing to be ashamed of. It's a tough job market. You understand what real people are going through right now. You represent the average South Carolinian. You're not locked away in Washington, drinking mocha latt├ęs like Jim DeMint has been for the past 11 years.

Your speaking style can be endearing if you stay on message. The constant repeating and interrupting yourself can work, but only if you're interrupting yourself to say something that strikes a chord with people and then repeat it. "I... I... people need jobs. They need jobs. They want to contribute to society. Contribute to society. I know. I feel it, too."

Be adamant. You paid the election fee. You're a self-made man down on his luck. You're not a tool of any party establishment. You have a vision to make this a better country. That's why you sacrificed your hard-earned money to run for the senate.

The obscenity charge against you was, "An unfortunate incident." However, you contend, "The accused has misrepresented the situation." You "cannot comment further as it could conflict with the ongoing investigation."

Follow this free advice and you'll be competitive in no time. If you want to win though, you'll have to hire me.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Gotta Find A New World

South Carolinians may have voted for Alvin Greene, the Democratic nominee for the senate, because they thought he was soul singer, Al Green. This brings up a number of points.

Let me be clear. I am a big Al Green fan. So big in fact that I know how to spell his last name. But not so big that I would automatically vote for him if his name happened to be on a ballet. In fact, if you gave me two names that I knew nothing about their political positions and I had to nominate one for senate (an unlikely proposition as I try to find out information about candidates before I vote for them), I'd likely vote for the one that wasn't Al Green.

You see, I'd figure that Al Green has been spending his life practicing and perfecting his music. He's been on the road and in the studio. That doesn't leave a lot of time to build a foundation for a political career. The other candidate, especially if their name was unrecognizable, probably has had some kind of political career.

So, we're left with Alvin Greene as the nominee, because people thought he was Al Green, who they had no business voting for in the first place. I still think this guy was some kind of plant. But if he isn't, I'm just sorry I'm not his campaign manager. I think I could still get him the victory.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Top Basketball Analysts

In Game Analysts
1. Hubie Brown
2. Doug Collins
3. Jeff Van Gundy
4. Mike Fratello
5. Doris Burke

Studio Analysts
1. Charles Barkley
2. Chris Webber
3. Jalen Rose
4. Avery Johnson
5. Kenny Smith

The lists only include analysts on national networks. Otherwise Walt Frazier would top the list with his delectable array of linguistic bombast. Hopefully he stops by the blog so he can explain to me what the hell I just said.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Top 10 NBA Players

Top 10 NBA Players Now
While this list consists of the top 10 players now, the past is taken to account, but it is not a list of the best players who happen to be active. In parentheses is the player's previous rank posted on February 12.

# David (PR) - Mike (Previous Rank)
1. Kobe ( 1) - Kobe (1)
2. LeBron (2) - LeBron (2)
3. Wade (4) - Howard (3)
4. Duncan (3) - Duncan (4)
5. D. Williams (NR) - Wade (5)
6. Howard (6) - Durant (8)
7. Nash (9) - Carmelo (7)
8. Dirk (7) - Nash (NR)
9. Billups (5) - Dirk (10)
10. Carmelo (8) - Paul (6)

Top 10 NBA Careers Among Active Players
You're making a list of the ten best players in NBA history, but there's one caveat; you can only include players who played during the 2009-2010 season. These are our choices, taking the players' entire careers into account. In parentheses is the player's previous rank posted on June 24, 2009.

# David - Mike (Previous Rank)
1. Shaq (1) - Shaq (1)
2. Duncan (2) - Kobe (2)
3. Kobe (3) - Duncan (3)
4. Kidd (4) - Garnett (4)
5. Garnett (5) - Kidd (5)
6. Nash (7) - Iverson (6)
7. LeBron (8) - Nash (8)
8. Iverson (6) - LeBron (7)
9. Dirk (9) - Dirk (10)
10. Billups (NR) - R. Allen (NR)

Top 10 NBA Franchise Players
This list is about which players you would pick to start a franchise right now. They must have played in an NBA game. In parentheses is the player's previous rank posted on June 24, 2009.

# David - Mike (Previous Rank)
1. LeBron (1) - LeBron (1)
2. Durant (NR) - Durant (6)
3. Howard (4) - Howard (2)
4. Kobe (2) - Kobe (3)
5. D. Williams (9) - Paul (4)
6. Rose (5) - Wade (5)
7. Paul (3) - Rose (8)
8. Wade (6) - D. Williams (NR)
9. Carmelo (8) - Carmelo (7)
10. Rondo (NR) - Rondo (NR)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Game 7 - Defense Wins Championships

The final game of the 2010 NBA Finals was defined by defense. Both the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics put on a display of effort and ball-stopping for the ages. The offense however was stagnant on both sides until the 4th quarter.

With their starting center, Kendrick Perkins, out for the game, the Celtics came out hot. They ended the 1st quarter up 23-14 despite getting pounded on the boards. The Lakers were especially proficient on the offensive glass, but couldn't hit a shot from the field or the line in the 1st. Every team leading the after one quarter had won every game in the series. The Lakers stormed back to take the lead early in the 2nd quarter. The Celtics weathered the onslaught and finished the first half with a six-point lead.

The Celtics maintained the lead through the 3rd. At one point, the game almost got away from the Lakers, but the Boston lead was only 4 heading into the final quarter of the season. In the 4th, basketball was played at its highest level. After hurting himself doing the involuntary splits, Derek Fisher hit a three to tie the game. That sparked the Lakers. Kobe, even though he shot on 6-24 from the field, hit a couple of free throws and then nailed a jumper. Kobe finished with 23 points and 15 rebounds.

Ron Artest, who had his best game as a pro, scoring 20 points and swiping 5 steals, swished a key three. He added great defense against Paul Pierce, who still had 18 points and 10 rebounds. Ray Allen swished a big three, despite shooting terribly all game. Rajon Rondo ran down a missed Celtics shot and hit an amazing three to keep the Celtics in the game. Los Angeles missed 12 free throws, but hit them when it counted the most.

Every Boston started scored in double figures. Rondo was 2 rebounds away from a triple double. Four Celtics had at least 8 rebounds. For the Lakers, Gasol had trouble shooting, but still came away with 19 points and 18 rebounds. It was an extremely intense game and a memorable 4th quarter. The Lakers won the game 83-79, the series 4-3, and their second consecutive championship.

MVP- Kobe Bryant LAL
Gutcheck Award- Andrew Bynum LAL
Unsung Hero- Big Baby Davis Bos

There are so many good players in the NBA right now. Many of them are free agents this summer. Depending on where they go, the balance of power in the NBA could be turned upside-down. The jury is out as to whether that will be good for the league or not.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Alvin Greene, A Letterman Skit

There has been much speculation about Alvin Greene, the democratic nominee for the Senate from South Carolina. Maybe the voters thought he was the great singer, Al Green. Perhaps they only voted for him because he was first on the ballet. I'm partial to the idea that he is a Republican plant.

In South Carolina, anyone can vote in the Democratic primary. This possibility has been dismissed because, the question was asked, who would pass up a chance to vote in the hot Republican gubernatorial primary? I'll tell you who, Republicans who don't want to vote for a "raghead" like Nikki Haley (as she's been described by state senator Jake Knotts), but didn't like the other guy either. Instead, they relish the chance to humiliate the Democrats.

But there's an even more probable possibility. It's all one big David Letterman skit, just like his San Francisco 49ers head coach Mike Singletary gag. Someone feeds a faux Singletary ridiculous lines (that were at first accidently heard by the audience) that he then repeats. He repeats the line again, very awkwardly, even as Letterman is trying to ask another question.

It's one of the funniest things I've seen in the last couple of years and Alvin Greene's interviews take on a similar feel. The pauses. The repeating, even while the interviewer is asking a question. In fact, a little before the 5 minute mark in the Keith Olberman interview, you can here someone feeding Greene information about the candidate he defeated, Vic Rawl. I've solved the mystery.

To David Letterman, well played!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Game 6 - Home Cooking

One loss away from elimination, the Los Angeles Lakers played an all-around game. It began quickly, igniting the usually reserved Staples Center. It was a total team effort. Artest shot well. Pau had an incredible game. Bynum looked active. Even Shannon Brown, off the bench, contributed some eye-catching dunks.

Off of a timeout, Pau lobbed a terrible pass in the direction of a leaping Brown. Brown caressed the ball with one out-stretched arm and thundered in through the hoop, completing a memorable alley oop. Outside of that bad pass, Paul was amazing. He had 17 points, 13 rebounds, and 9 assists. Kobe was efficient, scoring 26 points and obtaining 11 missed shots. Odom aided the Lakers domination on the boards and even Sasha Vujacic scored 9 points.

The Lakers took a 20 point lead into halftime. They held Boston to a paltry sum of 31 points in the first half. The Celtics would only end up with 67 points, losing by 22. Ray Allen had 19 points and was the only Celtic remotely effective offensively.

The trouble for the Celtics was exacerbated when starting center, Kendrick Perkins, went down with an apparent serious knee injury. Rasheed Wallace got into foul trouble and that forced Sheldon Williams into the lineup. It didn't turn out well. But besides the Perkins injury, Boston was out-hustled and out-played, which spells for doom for a team already with less talent than the Lakers.

As good as Rondo can be, he is awful when he's off. Game 6 was one of the latter. Missing layups and bricking jumpers, it was a wonder why he was out there. I've been arguing all season that Rondo is similar to Baron Davis in that regard. When they're on, they're two of the best players in the league. When they're off, which happens more than it should, they're look like a perfect fit for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers.

This series will feature only the third Game 7 in the last 20 years. But Game 7s are not new to this historic rivalry. It's what we've all wanted; one game to decide the best basketball team in the world.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Chaos in Kyrgyzstan

In many ways there is a direct link between the failures of the Tulip Revolution and the recent coup and continuing chaos in Kyrgyzstan. Last April, President Kurmanek Bakiyev was overthrown in a coup. Since the coup, ethnic violent has persisted between Kyrgyz and Uzbeks.

In 2005, a movement arose to overthrow the longtime leader of Kyrgyzstan, Askar Akiyev. Akiyev, a former Communist party leader when Kyrgyzstan was under Soviet authority, ruled in an autocratic and corrupt manner. Bakiyev, a former prime minister under Akiyev, was the beneficiary of the desire to oust the only leader the young country had ever known.

Initially, much enthusiasm greeted Bakiyev’s rise to power. But quickly it was realized that Bakiyev wasn't able to implement the requested reforms that spearheaded the Tulip Revolution. Roza Otunbayeva was one of Bakiyev's backers who soon left his side. At that point it was generally accepted that Bakiyev was becoming an undemocratic leader. This was partly foreshadowed in Bakiyev's undemocratic grab of power during the Tulip Revolution.

Bakiyev's rule was defined by his desire to maintain his position. In April, 2010, Bakiyev was overthrown in a similar (albeit bloody) fashion as his predecessor. Otunbayeva assumed power in a near parallel occurrence to the events of the Tulip Revolution. Otunbayeva has already had to delay promised elections as ethnic violence grips the country.

Uzbek's are roughly equal with Kyrgyz in terms of population in the south of Kygyzstan, the country's borders having been carelessly created by Joseph Stalin. It is in the south, particularly in Osh, that violence between the two groups has exploded. Otunbayeva has limited control in the south. Kyrgyzstan's political and culture divisions have divided the north and the south. Bakiyev's powerbase is in the south and the government has accused him of fanning the flames of violence from exile in order to cause the government considerable trouble. Uzbeks, who have been the majority victims of the violence, tend to support the new government.

In Kyrgyzstan's case, it has been a lack of legitimacy for its leaders that is at the root of the current crisis. The Tulip Revolution produced a brief moment of optimism, but its legacy is in propping up leaders who do not have to answer to their constituency. In Kyrgyzstan's case, a functioning democracy was essential in avoiding this predicament. The problem now is that democracy would only serve to solidify the divisions in the country, whether ethnic or regional. (The HQT-IE)

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Game 5 - Teaming Up

Paul Pierce got off to a quick start. It turned out to be his best game of the series, finishing with 27 points. He consistently got open off the pick and roll and knocked down jumpers. Kevin Garnett and Rondo added 18 points. Garnett played excellent defense on Gasol, who had only 12. Rondo had 8 assists and 7 turnovers, but came up with some key plays down the stretch, namely a couple of acrobatic layups late in the 4th quarter.

Boston's bench didn't have the performance it put up in Game 4, but was better than the Lakers' reserves in any event. It was their play in the 2nd quarter that gave the Celtics a lead they would never relinquish. Kobe Bryant tried to keep the Lakers in the game. He once scored 23 consecutive L.A. points, including the first 19 of the 3rd quarter. He received no help from his teammates. Artest couldn't score on a pop-a-shot in this series. Bynum is banged up. Odom has largely shied away in the big moments.

It occurred to me, should the Celtics win the championship, there is no clear cut MVP at this point. This was really Pierce's only good game of the series. Rondo had a triple double in Game 2 and 18 points tonight, but besides several impactful plays throughout, has mostly played poorly in this series. Garnett's offense has only peeked out of the ground twice, but his defense has been effective. Ray Allen had one record-breaking Game 2 and then missed his next 16 three-pointers. Kendrick Perkins has been the 5th man on the floor. Big Baby Davis had two big 4th quarters and Nate Robinson has been a quick-scorer off the bench. Tony Allen's defense has been sold and Rasheed Wallace's shot-making has helped the cause.

But none of the Celtics has stood out above the others. As in Game 5's 92-86 win, Boston's 3-2 lead has come about through total team play. Thus, I recommend, depending on what happens here on out, that win or lose Kobe Bryant deserves the Finals MVP award. Tonight, he hit repeated impossible shots in a desperate attempt to keep his team in the game. It was his third 30 point game of the series.

The other story of the series has been the poor officiating. Despite a couple of phantom foul calls, it was better this game. Game 4 had three awful calls, including a 3-second violation on Garnett even though Boston didn't have the ball across halfcourt long enough to incur that penalty. For the first time, there was no significant foul trouble in the first half. The series shifts to Los Angeles.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

2010 World Cup Predictions

Round of 16
South Korea over South Africa
Argentina over Mexico
England over Ghana
Germany over United States
Netherlands over Paraguay
Italy over Japan
Brazil over Spain
Cote d'Ivoire over Chile

Quarterfinals
England over South Korea
Brazil over Netherlands
Argentina over Germany
Italy over Cote d'Ivoire

Semifinals
Brazil over England
Argentina over Italy

Finals
Brazil over Argentina

Please note that these are expert prediction and will most certainly come true. I strongly advise you to bet your entire fortune on these predictions. They were made with the Southern Hemisphere theory in mind, which reasons that since the World Cup is being played in the Southern Hemisphere, countries from the Southern Hemisphere will have a better chance than they would've had the Cup been played in the Northern Hemisphere. Again, please bet your entire life savings on these picks. They can't possibly be wrong.

note: These prediction may only be used for gambling purposes.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Game 4 - The Blistering Bench

For the second straight game, Big Baby Davis had a monster 4th quarter. In all, Davis ended with 18 points and 5 rebounds in only 22 minutes of action. Doc Rivers finally showed more trust in the quick-scoring little man, Nate Robinson. Robinson scored 12 points in a mere 17 minutes of play.

Robinson's play was much needed as Rajon Rondo struggled once again. At his best, Rondo's game still has holes. He cannot shoot from the outside, tends to over-dribble, and gambles too much on defense. But his strengths usually outweigh his weaknesses. He's magnificent at finishing at the rim, is a great passer when given space or in transition, has a propensity for steals, and is an excellent rebounder. In Game 4, Rondo had trouble shooting, even open shots at the basket, posting 5-15 on the night.

But a steal by Rondo late in the 4th quarter and subsequent layup gave the Celtics an insurmountable 8-point lead. The Celtics eventually won 96-89 to tie the series at two games with one more in Boston.

Paul Pierce started fast. The Celtics went away from him for most of the rest of the game though. He still added 19 points to the cause. Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett had poor shooting nights, but put in double figures. The game, however, was won in the fourth quarter. Boston's bench played superbly. In addition to Davis and Robinson, Rasheed Wallace and Tony Allen added key intangibles. 36 of Boston's 96 points game in the 4th, thanks to the bench.

The Lakers were badly out-rebounded. Ron Artest and Lamar Odom tied for the team lead with 7. Kobe Bryant scored 33 and Pau Gasol contributed 21, but the rest of the Lakers were M.I.A. The Lakers role players were no match for Boston, who had 6 players score in double figures. In the 4th, even the Laker starters couldn't keep up with Boston's bench.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

ELL Season 7 Review

Maybe it's like retiring in the emotion following a tough fight, but the Evil Leaders League has had a good run. All good things must come to an end, although it seems all evil leaders go on for decades. What gives? Anyway. we've had a good run. The ELL ousted Musharraf from power, no small task. We were instrumental in Omar Bongo's death. The regret is that we couldn't depose or kill (not CIA style, mind you) more of these evil bastards. But taking down two evil leaders is pretty good for an obscure website devoted to meshing politics and anal warts jokes.

The Champion - Than Shwe 4-3 (2-0)
Sure, the Burmese ruler of Myanmar is evil. He's killed protesting Buddhist monks. He refused international aid for his suffering people in the wake of a devastating cyclone. He does not allow dissents. And he's secretly attempting to build a nuclear program. But none of those reasons are why he won this season. The real reason is that Ellen Page really hates Than Shwe, and I appreciate her dry wit..

Check out the best out-of-context lines from this season in the Highlights section.

The Challengers
Hamid Karzai 5-2 (1-1) - Bush's boy has been Obama's headache. Karzai has always been ineffective and has allowed corruption, but this season he upped the ante by threatening to join the Taliban.
Omar al-Bashir 6-1 (0-1) - A genocide has only so much shelf life. At some point, it becomes yesterday's news without help from a highly-paid PR firm.
Kim Jong-Il 5-2 (0-1) - He must've been picked on as a child, 'cuz he sure relishes the role of instigating things. Maybe the kids didn't like his hair, sunglasses, or autocratic personality.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad 3-4 - If rhetoric was evil action, he'd be Muhammad Ali. As it is, he's Andrew Golata.

The Relegated
Teodoro Obiang 3-4 - When you live in an oil rich country, people tend to let your evil quirks slide.
Silvio Berlusconi 2-5 - 3-time prime minister, corruption allegations, extra-marital affairs, the mafia, statue in the face- doesn't make for much of an evil leader, but it's enough for a hell of a sitcom.
Evo Morales 0-7 - Latin America's cutest indigenous leader is a leftist, socialist, Marxist. But it's 2010, this side of Pat Boone, who really cares any more?


What have we learned from this seven season exercise? Perhaps it's that there are leaders who perform evil acts and their biggest punishment is a stern scolding. Perhaps it's that the human mind seems to be able to justify any evil. Perhaps it's that the U.S. mistakes truly despicable leaders and those who pose little to no threat but have competing interests with the U.S. Perhaps it's that Uzbekistan's President Islam Karimov produces more milk a year from his giant man boobs than all of his country's goats combined.

Maybe we haven't really learned anything. At the very least, we hope you chuckled out loud at least once during these seven glorious seasons.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Game 3 - Flipping the Script

Game 3 in Boston was Bizarro Game 2 in Los Angeles. After a quick start by Boston thanks to Garnett, who finished with 25 points and was the only effective Celtic starter, the Lakers stormed past and took a commanding lead in the second quarter. The Celtics powered back in the third and the game was competitive until the Lakers made a final sprint at the end, winning 91-84.

Kobe did not shoot well, but scored 29 points, grabbed 7 boards, and added 3 blocks. The story, however, was Derek Fisher. The veteran guard scored 16 points, 11 in the 4th. Fisher has won 4 championships and knows when his team needs him to turn it on. Thankfully for his 35-year old legs, that isn't often. But he is customarily more proficient on the road than at home and this series has been no different. Lamar Odom added 12 timely points on 5-5 shooting.

For the Celtics, Ray Allen had a historic reversal of fortune. He shot 0-13 from the field and missed all 8 of his shots from long distance. To put his Game 2 performance into perspective, he tallied 8-19 from 3-point range during the two games, a better than 40% clip. Big Baby Davis had another solid game off the bench with 12 points. Nate Robinson scored a point-a-minute, but only played 5 of them. Pierce struggled once again. Rondo had another largely poor game.

The Lakers have taken home court advantage back. This series has been marred by poor officiating. Each game has featured a litany of early foul trouble for both teams. The problem is a large number of phantom fouls, influencing the outcome of the contests, have been called. In the last two minutes of Game 3, three times the officials needed to go to the monitor to check on their call. All three times, they had originally gotten it wrong.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

My Night at Yankee Stadium

Last Saturday I went to the first boxing card in the new Yankee Stadium. The main event featured Yuri Foreman and Miguel Cotto. I was once in San Juan, but there more Puerto Ricans in and around Yankee Stadium for the fight.

I sat three rows from the top of the huge stadium. My seat was even higher than the gigantic scoreboard. It was muggy as hell. The evening included your typical fight in the stands and rush of police to the scene. I guess one guy really thought Terry Buterbaugh deserved his unanimous decision victory and the other guy thought Tommy Rainone was robbed. But one thing's for sure; they were both drunk. A reporter interviewed me for my prediction on the fight. With an apologetic smile, he asked who I was picking and I declared my allegiance for Foreman in front of a section of curious Cotto supporters.

Some of the non-Puerto Ricans included a small group of Irish guys sitting behind me who frequent the bar that James Moore tends. There was also a large group of Poles to my left supporting Pawel Wolak. In the upper deck, we could barely hear the announcers or the ring music, but that was the one decision we could kind of make out. As soon as the name Pawel was announced, one of the Irish guys behind me began to cheer in ecstasy until he was told that James Moore had actually lost. That prompted the line of the night, "How drunk are you to mistake 'Pawel' for 'James'?"

At one point, a nebbishy guy with slacks, binoculars, and one of those old timey caps sat in our section. He was greeted with the sarcastic question, "Who are you rooting for?" Another person declared, "Looks like we have a Foreman fan." I was wearing a shirt with Tel Aviv written on it in Yuri Foreman's black and yellow. I definitely garnered looks and whispers. But the crowd was generally gracious.

I did receive some razzing though. As the crowd erupted when Cotto made his ring walk, one guy tapped me on the shoulder and sarcastically asked, "Why aren't you joining in?" I gave a sheepish smile. While screaming my head off as Yuri entered, he advised me that, "he can't hear you." I retorted, "Cotto couldn't hear you." He fired back, "But he could hear all of us." I had to concede the point. But a guy to my right came to my defense, "Hey, he's a true fan!" which was greeted by a number of affirmative head nods.

It was thrilling to stay seated through each national anthem. Apparently, Puerto Rico, despite not being a nation, has a national anthem. The Israeli anthem was greeted with chants of “Cotto!” Most people stood for the U.S. anthem.

The first punch thrown was a jab that snapped back Foreman's head. In return, Foreman stuck out a weak jab that came up short, and I had flashbacks to Khan-Salita. Thankfully, history did not repeat itself.

The crowd went crazy every time Cotto threw, but I felt Yuri blocked a lot of Cotto's efforts early on. Still Cotto won the first two rounds unquestionably. There were some cries of, "He's a bum," during those first few rounds. People were unhappy with Yuri's constant movement. Others approved, “He’s a slippery fucker.” Yuri won the 3rd round in my estimation and no one can deny him the 4th. Cotto adjusted in the 5th though, but Yuri was competitive. He just needed to find the rhythm he established during the 3rd and 4th rounds.

Then it happened. He went down in the 7th. I knew Yuri's chances were over at that point. The guy needs to move to be successful and he couldn't move. I thought it was an ankle at first. Turns out it was a torn meniscus. Yuri couldn't move, so he decided to go out on his laurels and trade with Cotto. As Yuri kept fighting, a Puerto Rican fan yelled, "I respect that! I respect him!" Everyone agreed.

In the 8th, the towel came in and everyone entered the ring. I didn't want to be subjected to all the coming razzing, so I stood up to go. I gave a shrug to one Cotto fan. He answered, "It was a good fight though. Good fight." I began the long walk out of the stadium.

On the way down, someone yelled, "The fight's back on." I figured it was a hoax. Someone else yelled the same thing and a few people fell for the bait. I heard a loud cheer, guessing Cotto's interview had just finished. Someone said, "I guess they restarted it just so Cotto could end it with a body shot." I had my suspicions at that point, but it wasn't until I called my brother that I learned the truth.

I'm proud of Yuri, but disappointed. I guess many of us underestimated Cotto's greatness. We thought he had too many tough fights and his reflexes would be slowed. I had dreams of stardom for my favorite fighter. It was not to be. But he gained tons of respect. When I came back to boxing a couple of years ago, Yuri was the guy I decided would be my favorite. In that sense, it's very vindicating. You always want to be proud of the guy you root for. I am.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Game 2 - Barrage of Threes

One, two, three... seven! That's the number of threw-point makes Ray Allen contributed to the Celtics cause in the first half of Game 2 in Los Angeles. Allen ended with eight for the game and 32 points. Rajon Rondo's play was another storyline for the Celtics. Despite a number of mistakes, he posted his fifth career playoff triple double, 19 points, 12 rebounds, and 10 assists.

For the Lakers, Kobe Bryant scored only 21 on 20 shots. He was in foul trouble for much of the game. Two of the fouls called against him were highly dubious however. Pau Gasol had 25 points and Andrew Bynum scored 21, but the Lakers defense was not up to the high standard they featured in Game 1.

The Celtics took a big lead in the second quarter thanks to Allen's shooting. But the Lakers crept back and from early in the third quarter on, the game was competitive. Kobe got his 4th foul halfway through the quarter, but only Gasol and Bynum stepped up. Meanwhile, Boston's bench was effective in the wake of Pierce and Garnett's struggles. Big Baby Davis scored 8, Rasheed Wallace had 7, and Nate Robinson threw in 7 in 6 fourth quarter minutes.

Winning 103-94, the Celtics head back to Boston having stolen home court advantage and tying the series at one game each.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Off to Yankee Stadium

How many people alive can say they witnessed a world boxing championship fight featuring a Jewish fighter in Yankke Stadium. I'm guessing not too many.

If all goes well later today, I will. WBA junior middleweight champion, and rabbi-in-training, Yuri Foreman, will be battling Miguel Cotto. Foreman's been my favorite fighter since I came back to boxing a few years ago. No is his chance. And G-d willing, I'll be there!

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Game 1: Between a Rock and a Hard Place

How they got here:
The Lakers coasted in the West during the regular season. With the addition of Ron Artest, they appeared unstoppable before the season. Even with Artest's lackluster season, injuries to Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol, and Kobe Bryant being banged up, coach Phil Jackson guided the Lakers to the first seed in the West. The young Oklahoma City Thunder gave the Lakers a test in round one, but L.A. took four of six. The Lakers swept the Utah Jazz and went on to win an intriguing series with the Phoenix Suns, one in which Kobe dominated, 4-2.

The Celtics looked old for most of the regular season. Like sick puppies, you almost hoped someone would put Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, and Paul Pierce out of their misery. But coach Doc Rivers had a plan all along. The point guard, young stud Rajon Rondo, led the Celtics to the 4th seed. The team was healthy by playoff time and eased past the Miami Heat in five. They upset LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavs in six, and, after a 3-0 start, backed into a 4-2 win over the Orlando Magic.

Game One:
Phil Jackson became enraged as an interview was being conducted during the 4th quarter of Game 1 with comedian Chris Rock, who sitting in the front row. At another point, Rock, sitting next to Kobe, attempted to joke around with the star guard. Kobe would have none of it. The game's best player finished with 30 points, 7 rebounds, and 6 assists as he continued his impersonation of Oscar Robertson this playoff season.

The game was sloppy and the players seemed to lack focus at times. This was due to the fact that the lay off between the conference finals and tonight's game was essentially another all star break. Rondo epitomized this as he fell asleep in the backcourt with the ball at the end of the first quarter. Back up guard Jordan Farmer ripped the ball from the giant hands of Rondo, who played poorly despite 13 points and 8 assists.

But it was the Lakers' starters who carried the day. Derek Fisher started things, knocking down big shots. He finished with 9. Gasol had 23 points, 14 rebounds, and played tough defense in the post. Artest's defense was superb. So was Kobe's. The Lakers stayed comfortably ahead for much of the game. For the Celtics, Pierce had 24 points on 13 shots, but those numbers are deceptively good. Garnett struggled and Ray Allen was in foul trouble. Boston was badly outrebounded. The Lakers continued their undefeated playoff run at home with a 102-89 victory.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Jim Joyce Must Be Fired

Moments ago, Armando Galarraga of the Detroit Tigers (and former Nats prospect) threw what looked like to be the second perfect game this week and the 21st in the history of major league baseball. Jason Donald grounded the ball to first. Galarraga caught first baseman Miguel Cabrera's throw and touched first before Donald had. Galarraga beat Donald by half-a-step, usually an easy call for an umpire.

But, for some reason, it wasn't. Jim Joyce called Donald safe. Galarraga's perfect game was gone. There was nothing that could be done. He then retired his 28th straight batter.

Umpires get things wrong. Sometimes they get it wrong badly. They're human. This blown call doesn't make Jim Joyce a bad guy. But, for an umpire, when it matters most, you must get the call right. It was a fairly easy call for an experienced umpire in a huge moment. Joyce blew the call. When it counted most, Joyce did not come through. Instead, he failed badly. He must be fired.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

New Stipulations

My fellow citizens, life is the best teacher. This weekend was extremely instructive for me. As your beloved leader, I always strive to discover new ways to improve your lives. Like a repeated bolt of lightning, I was struck several times by ways to improve our lives.

Today's decrees
After experiencing two different episodes this weekend where individuals shut down roads to protect birds, I realized that should not be the responsibility of our heroic denizens. Thus, I hereby decree that animals are banned from the road. The road is a place where animals go to die and where fenders are dented. No more. To any animal reading this, stay off the road!

Ever go to a restaurant and somebody is telling rather boring stories with a rather loud voice (and the next day, they find that same person mysteriously dead)? I hereby decree that the volume level with which you tell a story at a restaurant must herein correspond to how interesting the story is.

The nation's silly band industry is hereby nationalized. Congratulations public, you now own your own industry! Don't fuck it up.