2005-07-20



So, Larry Brown and Detroit have parted company ... didn't see that coming. Now the smart money has Brown joining up with another former Piston, Isaiah Thomas, and taking the helm in New York.

Thus the classic battle is once again joined. Granted, Brown isn't quite irresistable, and the Knicks aren't quite immovable, so we'll wait to see what happens when the really strong force meets the really hard to move object. My money is on the object.

Right now New York boasts a cesspool of a roster, a cap challenge, and impatient fans. Brown won't be the first good coach to take his lumps in the Big Apple, and probably won't be the last.

The shame of it is, this may well be the final stop for Brown's coaching career. It will be a shame seeing this great coach end with a fizzle rather than a flourish. It is the coaching equivalent of Michael Jordan finishing with the Wizards.

But, Brown is partially to blame. He had a good thing going in Detroit and could have finished out his career running a perennial championship contender. Then Detroit screwed around and Brown screwed around and now both lose.

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2005-07-19



OK, I propose a free throw contest to determine who gets home field advantage in the World Series. Makes just as much sense as letting it ride on the fiasco that is the MLB All Star Game. Actually the one I have heard that makes the most sense is giving home field to the league that wins the most inter-league games overall during the season. Anyway, on to my real thoughts ...

-- B --


After all the fury and surprise of the first half of the season, the enamoration with the Nat Kids on the Block, and Florida's shock and awe pitching staff, look where we are. Florida is on the bottom looking up (granted, put them in almost any other division and they'd be second or third). The team formerly known as Pedro Martinez is showing why it takes more than one good starting pitcher to find success in baseball's toughest division. Philadelphia appears to be headed for their second straight year of falling short of expectations. The Nats are fading fast.

And ... as usual ... the Braves have found their way back to the top of the division. Admittedly, as I write, Atlanta, 6-4 in their last ten games is still a half game back of Washington, 2-8 over their last 10. You do the math, then add in the fact that Chipper Jones has just returned to the Braves lineup swinging a furious stick.

And so it appears the routine may continue. At the beginning of the season there is much talk about how invincible the other teams have become, and how many key pieces the Braves lost (and each year they seem to lose plenty), and then comes the grim foretelling of the end of the Atlanta dynasty. Then in September, just as routinely, we begin to realize that Atlanta has done just what they needed to do to fill their holes and we watch them take their place at the head of the pack. Slice it and dice it on paper all you want - I'll take the Braves, if for no other reason than that they're the Braves.

Some will smugly point out that just as routinely, the Braves exit the post-season early. Yeah. Shameful compared to all those other teams that have won their division 13 162-game seasons in a row.

-- B --


After all the fury and surprise of the first half of the season, the enamoration with Boston reveling in its first Pennant in ions, all the defiant cries that the curse has ended, and Sammy Sosa ready to transfer all the success that he created as a Cub to Baltimore, (and that's pretty much where it ends - top to bottom the AL East isn't nearly as impressive as the NL East) look where we are.

Baltimore is hanging in right now, although Sosa's value appears to be all in what he might still be able to fetch in a trade. And Boston, having just dropped 3 of 4 to the Yankees at Fenway, has ceded first place to their white-hot with black pinstriped rivals.

The curse is over? Yeah right. How many Sox fans do you figure are thinking, "Not again!" right now? 90% or 95%? Nothing like dropping three, including a brief pounding of your emotional icon Curt Shelling, at home to bring that curse right back to front and center.

-- B --


This is simply to say that the world order might not be as new as many thought back in May when the Yanks were struggling, Chipper was on the D.L. and Steinbrenner was reaching for his checkbook. Will New York and Atlanta come out of the east in their respective leagues? Too soon to tell. One has to be especially concerned with the Yanks' tendency to give up double-digit runs every night. No pitching staff has the right to expect their bats to dig them out of that kind of hole every night.

Point is, the roads to October lead through New York and Atlanta, despite what you may have heard.

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2005-07-15



Michelle Wie is the big story in golf right now. The 15-year-old golf phenom just missed the cut last week at the John Deere Classic. So why all crying coming from the men's room? Because a girl is going to crash their party. At 15 she's already narrowly missed the cut twice in a men's events. It's not a matter of if, but when.

Still, many think a girl shouldn't be playing in a men's event. SHOULDN'T. Shouldn't? I'm not sure where you get the basis for "shouldn't." The neat thing about sports is that that kind of thing sorts itself out. You need rules to ensure fair play. After that, if you want to find out who should or shouldn't be there, check the score cards.

OK, so she got into the John Deere on a sponsor's exemption. Pro sport is after all, a business. Unless you're willing to give back the money you won (because that's what a sponsor brings), shut up. John Deere has the right to do whatever they want to make a go of their event.

Besides ... and I hate to keep bringing this up, but ... exemption or no, Wie still beat almost half the field and came within a back 9 of making the cut. You want to prove she doesn't belong, man up and beat her.

By early indications, Wie seems destined to dominate the women's tour. She's gifted and poised. You can hardly blame standouts like her and Annika Sorenstam for wondering how they would fare against the best in the world. And if they can, within the rules, the same rules that the men have to follow, let them.

It comes down to a choice, for it's not like they are ever going to dominate the men. With PGA venues constantly adding length to try to keep ahead of Tiger and Co, it is highly unlikely that a woman will ever log so much as a PGA victory. But it is likely that, given the opportunity, Wie and Sorenstam could hang with the boys from time to time. So on any given weekend, do you dominate the women ... AGAIN. Or, do you take your lumps and risk missing the cut to measure your stature at the very highest level?

Not that Wie has compiled a Sorenstam-esque resume. She is more about potential. So, it might be reasonable for her to slow down and develop her game before shooting for the stars. But, that's a personal choice.

And one more time for those who complain that Wie is threatening to take a spot from a hard-woring man, trying to earn a living on the tour ... work on your game! Get better. "I should have the spot because I'm a man," doesn't work. "I have the spot because I'm the better golfer," - that's how sport works.

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Mid-July is generally a slow sports time. But, across the pond, in two of the month's biggest events, familiar faces are flexing their muscle.

With the Tour de France getting ready to head into the mountains, Lance Armstrong is right where he wants to be - at the front. There is still much work to be done, but Armstrong thrives in the mountains, so another Tour championship is a real possibility.

Meanwhile, over at St Andrews Tiger Woods seems ready to put the British Open crown in his bag early. Normally when Woods heads into weekend trailing by 5 or 6, it's enough to keep the front-runners looking over their shoulders. Right now the world's best golfer is leading by that much as he makes child's play of a course that has haunted many over the years.

Whatever struggles Tiger may have had, he appears to have put them behind him. With a win and a second in this year's two previous majors, and now a daunting lead in the British, the old Tiger is back. Can a Phil Mickelson Sunday afternoon choke be far behind?

-- B --


Unfortunately for the Red Sox, Curt Schilling is one champ who isn't making his presence felt in the summer heat. I've got to put this one on Francona, though. Schill was less than impressive during his minor league rehab. So you start him back in the bigs against Sheffield and A-Rod? If that was the plan, you probably should have issued helmets to the fans in left - Shef pasted the green monster, and A-Rod launched a BP-style homer right behind it.


Interesting strategy against a nemesis, division rival, and team poised to overtake you for the lead this weekend.

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2005-07-14



The summer's half over and I haven't blogged for a week ... where does the time go? It's the weather and all the crap in the air. This is the worst my allergies have been since I was a kid. It gets even worse when you take something for it and your brain goes fuzzy for the rest of the day.

So, thank God for the rain. Normally I'm all for the summer intensity - the hotter the better. But right now it seems like the rain is doing a good job beating down all the pollen and what-not. So, let it rain, let it rain, let it rain!

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Other than lack of experience, weaknesses are hard to come by when analyzing the Miami Heat. Pat Riley may just have found the biggest hole to fill, though.

Count me not among those wondering how Riley could consider stepping in for coach Stan VanGundy. To some, the Heat's recent success is evidence of VanGundy's qualifications.

What? Getting a team that could win half of its games without a coach close to the NBA Championship? Riley did that armed only with Alonzo Mourning. For my money, VanGundy is the reason the Shaq / Wade show were stopped short of the Finals.

The prospect of Riley taking over has me salivating. Just think: Shaq, an element of recent Laker glory, combined with Riley, who directed the greatest Laker teams of all time during the Showtime era. Throw in Wade and you've got a recipe for Championship success.

If Shaq had stayed in LA, people would still be confusing VanGundy with his brother, Jeff. You know, the one who can coach!

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Spare me the "We want Larry back," and "I want to coach the team again next year," rhetoric. Are there two people in the world less enthusiastic about each other than Joe Dumars and Larry Brown?

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2005-07-06



So, this is where I'm supposed to try to make something political out of London being selected to host the 2012 games. Ummm ... I just really don't care if there was a political aspect or not. It's surprising to see that anyone still cares about the Olympics. Sure the local governments and merchants care - it's a windfall for them. It's the folks who make this such a catch - the pretentious who become badminton and shot put experts two weeks out of every four years that baffle me.

-- B --


In the NBA, Detroit is struggling to come to terms with head coach Larry Brown. Seems like a no-brainer to me. The man took a team that was an afterthought in title discussions, to one championship and within a few minutes of a second in his less than two years with the team. Sign him up! However, upon close examination, the enthusiasm over his return has been lukewarm at best. There are very few potential Wallace-sitters in the league equal to Brown, and they are cherished by their teams. Conversely, at any price, Brown's services would be snatched up in a hurry by any number of hopeful teams.

-- B --


Amazing. Lance Armstrong is leading the pack! Whether or not he wins is irrelevant. I point out once again, that simply being a legit contender one year is a noteworthy accomplishment. What Armstrong has done and is doing is unthinkable.

-- B --


For more than a decade now, I've missed the sizzle that John McEnroe added to men's tennis. I had hoped that Andy Roddick might bring some of that back. Certainly, the young American is doing well, and has nothing to be ashamed of. But Roger Federer has got his number. Right now Federer is the better, more complete player, but even when the American passes him by, he's inside Roddick's head.

-- B --


Is it time for football camp yet?

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