Saturday, May 19, 2007

The Diary: On The Way To NYC

Saturday, May 19

“I want to be a part of it…”

So there’s definitely some excitement in the air right now. Major League Baseball will do that to people. Another thing that will do it is when you’re about to see one of the best rivalries in all of baseball (I mean Philly/Toronto was good, but…ya know…). Anyway, I’m pumped to go to Shea, even though apparently it’s not the greatest facility to ever be constructed. It doesn’t really matter to me, especially when you consider the fact that I’m one for nostalgia.

So we’re leaving Philly right now, and it actually ended up being a good game last night. Philly jumped out to a five run lead thanks to a bunch of hits strung together in the fifth. The Jays eventually put up three late runs off of starter Jon Lieber, but Brett Myers came in to shut the door in the ninth, earning yet another save. Myers has been solid since making the move to closer. When you consider the pitchers that Philly generally throws out there (with the exception of Cole Hamels), Myers brings so much more power than the others. Lieber hit 87 as his highest pitch, while Myers clocked in a few times at 97. Ryan Howard on the DL creates a giant hole in the lineup, as the Phils are now using Chase Utley as a cleanup man, and although he has good power, he needs some form of protection in the lineup to be really effective (Pat Burrell is no longer considered “protection”). Also, with Roy Halladay and B.J. Ryan on the DL, and with Vernon Wells not really hitting (I should know…fantasy team…I know you’re concerned too), the Jays are in for some rough times ahead. I know Jeremy Accardo (affectionately known as “the guy from the Blue Jays” in my last post) has been lights out in his appearances, but you never know how long he can keep this going…I hate to say this, but after all, they’re not the Yankees (Aaron Small still haunts my dreams to this day…11 in a row?...AHHHHH!!!).

The Sox were again rained out, and will play a day-night doubleheader today against the Bravos. A little Devern action today? I haven’t checked the pitching matchups for the game today, but I’m hoping they just push back everyone a day, because Devern needs work! So, if things stayed the same from Friday night in terms of starters, you’re looking at Hansack in the first game, and the Dice man in the second. Man do we need Jon Lester more than ever.

Barry Bonds is tired of Schill’s “childishness” and won’t respond to his accusations that Bonds cheated on his wife, his taxes, and baseball by taking steroids. Here’s the thing: I respect that, but I think the real reason is that basically, whatever Bonds says now-a-days is basically perceived as lying, so why say anything anyway? What’s the point if you know you’re going to get slammed by the media no matter what? I think people would have been more easy to forgive Bonds for all of this if only he hadn’t been so smug about all of this. There is just so much evidence that puts Bonds on knowingly doing illegal things, and yet, there has been nothing yet to further convict Bonds, and somehow stop him from breaking Aaron’s record, which pretty much about 60-70% of baseball fans, and people in general, want. It is very easy to sit back, look at Bonds, hear something he said, and just start screaming “liar!” at the TV. I’ve done it, you’ve done it, we’ve all done it. Look, even good fans of Bonds, and Giants fans on a whole, definitely have to consider all the evidence that is seemingly never ending, and possibly at least think that there is a possibility that something may have gone on. We may never know the truth about any of this, but someone, somewhere, is getting paid a tremendous amount of money to try and bring Bonds down. A Congressional hearing didn’t work, and neither did a book that detailed all of the illegal things Bonds has been accused of happening. Therefore, it seems that only a positive test for something illegal, or an admission of guilt by Bonds himself, will be the only things that would satisfy the public’s feeding frenzy with this story. I realize it has already been written about thousands of times before this, but if the story wasn’t amazingly fascinating and epic, then none of us would ever worry about it. But when I see that countdown on SportsCenter building up closer, and closer to 755, I can’t help but hope that there is some kind of resolution to all of this, but until that happens, Bonds carries with him a mighty bat, and the largest asterisk in the history of asterisks, closer, and closer to the most sacred record in all of sports.

Despite two of their best players returning to the lineup last night, the Suns were simply outclassed by the Spurs last night. They simply had no answer for the things the Spurs were throwing at them, which was a dose of physicality topped off with a healthy portion of Manu Ginobli. The Suns were overmatched by the Spurs down low, despite the impressive play of Amare Stoudamire in his return. Another thing that killed the Suns, especially towards the end of the game, was that the hottest shooter of the bunch, Steve Nash, was in a “pass-first” mentality. Look, I understand that he wanted to get everyone involved, but when you’re feeling it, you have to step up, take the ball, and not let it go. Nash was hitting series of absolutely ridiculous shots, which basically meant that he was money from any spot on the floor. Nash needed to realize this, and just keep going up and down, shooting until he started missing, because the rest of his team looked awful down the stretch from the field. In the playoffs, individual performances are not usually remembered (of course some are), but it’s all about who wins the series. If your team is on the ropes, and you’re facing elimination, and getting hot, that’s got to be the time when you have to step up and say “listen guys, we’ve had a great year, but unless I start doing what I have to do here, we’re going to go home…you’re probably not going to get many looks, but it would serve the team more if I kept going with this.” Very intriguing matchups in the Conference Finals, with the Cavs taking on the Pistons, and the Spurs against the Jazz. The Cavs are clearly a one-man team, but it’s likely that they’re going to need more than LeBron to take this down, especially when you’re playing a team that epitomizes team play in the NBA with Detroit. Can Larry Hughes or Big Z step up and be that “other guy?” I’m going to go with no. I just see too much depth coming from the Pistons in terms of both inside players, and even guys who can play the perimeter, like Lindsay Hunter. I have Detroit winning in seven in basically a repeat performance from the semis last year. Out west, I actually think the Jazz can pull this one out, and here’s why: The Spurs are definitely a “grind-it-out” kind of team, but no one plays that role better than the Jazz. When you’re talking about a frontcourt consisting of Kirilenko, Okur, and Boozer, you’re talking about one of the strongest and best in all the league. The Spurs have Elson in the middle, and he simply will be outmanned by Boozer. Then, you’re looking at Okur on Duncan (there remains the possibility that Boozer will switch up on Duncan, in any case, Elson doesn’t have a chance against either Okur or Boozer). Duncan will get his shots off, but Okur is an underrated defensive player, and should be able to at least contain Duncan from putting up too many of those bank shots he likes. This brings us to the perimeter, where I believe the game will truly be decided. It all comes down to how well Deron Williams can handle the offense in such a pressure situation, being that it’s only his second year in the league. Tony Parker and Ginobli have been there, and have gotten to the promised land before. They will be able to work the inside game very well, but can Williams make things work getting up to that point? We won’t have to wait too long to figure that one out. Definitely keep track of what the tempo is in the beginning of Game 1, because if the Jazz can keep things slow throughout the series, they ultimately will be rewarded with a trip to the NBA Finals.

So I officially became a vegetarian at the start of the trip, and figure to keep it up for the foreseeable future. I went to BoJangle’s like two days before the trip, and literally said out loud “well, guess this is all for that.” I mean really, this is the only thing I can do right now to prevent me from putting on about 50 pounds. First of all, if and when I get a job, the time I’ll get to be able to work out will be cut down significantly. Here’s something though: I feel that as long as I can stay out of my place for a significant portion of time, I’ll be able to maintain, because I feel like when I’m at home, invariably, I’ll end up sitting on my chair, watching TV, and eating something (now that I think about it, I’m gonna have a tremendous amount of TV to watch when I get home…thank you DirecTV and DVR for making me a complete shut-in…seriously, we’re looking at like twelve Pre-Game reports, and another dozen Extra and Extra Extra Innings here…this is going to cause significant damage…oh and also, every Seinfeld that is not on DVD…yikes). Here’s the other thing too: When you’re addicted to certain things, like Raisin Bran and sushi, and eat them constantly, you are going to be cutting things out anyway, so why not meat? Yeah I know, not the most “manly” or “American” thing to do, but I have to try and stay healthy, because when I get old, I don’t want to get…well…”old” ya know? I want to stay around and be able to enjoy life in a healthy manner, and though I may have been able to do that without cutting out meat, I’m sticking by my decision (still eating seafood though…yeah, it’s not technically a vegetarian thing there…what do you call that?...vegan?...not sure).

Well, we’re stuck in traffic going to Shea (who’d-a-thunk it?), but I will be reporting back tomorrow to share how the game went, and my reactions to the big doubleheader going on right now with the Sox. Until then, love all of you. Peace.


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