Monday, February 16, 2009

Just When I Thought Things Would Be Okay...

"Just the same as the last time."

So initially, I was terrified about the state that sports in general would be in until March Madness set in. Then, I figured out that there were actually some events to keep me occupied. Well, if this past weekend was any indication, the next month or so is going to be horrible for me.

All-Star Weekend was atrocious. There was literally nothing after the H-O-R-S-E contest (which actually wasn't too horrible) that even came close to peaking my interest. The skills contests were boring, and the game, not surprisingly, was even worse. I don't know why I thought that the NBA was going to bail me out, but it definitely did not do so. Even the Pro Bowl was better, and that's saying a lot considering there are rules restricting the use of basically every defense that is used in the NFL. Seemingly, the NBA All-Star game has been the worst of the All-Star games for the last four or five years. Sure, there are certain little nuggets you can look back on from each game (this year being Shaq and Kobe reuniting to win co-MVP), but overall, it's just a horrible brand of basketball. I understand not wanting to get anyone hurt, but the players seem to take that adage a bit overboard. I know it's an exhibition and that it doesn't mean anything, but could some of these guys at least try? The one that stood out to me was Dwight Howard. I love the guy, and I think he will be Defensive Player of the Year this season, but he was trotting up and down the floor, and the reason I am so critical of him in particular is that last year, he was flying around and giving effort, whereas this year, Shaq made Dwight Howard look like he was running in concrete boots. Shaq was running like he was 23 last night...that definitely made me take notice. Here's a guy who has had by far the most impact on the NBA in the post-Jordan era, and he was out there like it was his first All-Star was his fifteenth! Also, because Howard played for the East, that definitely didn't help his cause in my eyes. In the second quarter though, it was funny that Paul Pierce decided to just take the game over. That made me think that I was watching the Celts because that is something he does on a nightly basis if the C's are losing. He just decides "well, this has been fun, but just give me the ball on every possession, and I'll make it happen."

The Daytona 500 was as bad, if not, worse than the All-Star Game. First of all, I can't believe I'm saying this, but I have to agree with Tony Stewart on the Goodyear tires that they were running. I mean did you see Jeff Gordon's tires every time he made a pit stop? Those things were shredded to the bone, and that was only after about 25 laps (62.5 miles)! Seriously, the people at Goodyear really have to get their R&D department together and come up with something better than that. I understand that they have an exclusive contract with NASCAR, and therefore, they have no competition in the tire manufacturing facet of racing, but if you have tires that look like what Gordon's did after an eighth of the race, there's got to be something wrong. In their defense, Daytona hasn't been repaved in something like 30 years, and while there are plans in the works to smooth the track out, it definitely still has its bumps and uneven spots along the track. Even so, the tire quality has got to be better, or someone is going to get hurt, and when cars are going 190 MPH, you can't always expect drivers to walk away with just some bumps and scratches after a crash.

At first, I was just so pissed at Dale Jr. for knocking every contender out of the race (Denny, Kyle and Kurt Busch to name a few), but the day after the fact, I guess you could go both ways on the wreck. Brian Vickers did block Junior down to the double yellow line, and you could definitely preceive that as being unnecessary at the time because, while the "lucky dog" is definitely something worth fighting for, it is not the end of the world if you don't get it the first time around. So for Vickers to be blocking at that point in the race could definitely be viewed as over-aggression. However, Junior also did not have to veer back into the straightaway and slam into Vickers' back panel. I understand his frustration, but a guy who has been racing for almost a decade (this is his 10th year) should be aware of the implications of slamming into a car going almost 200 MPH. Junior probably should have waited until Vickers was clear before getting back onto the track. The thing is that these moves happened so quickly that it's hard to for me to sit here and blame either one for the wreck. My initial reaction was that Junior was at fault, but the day after the fact, I'm kind of feeling like Vickers definitely shared in some of the responsibility of the wreck that shook up the final standings (Michael Waltrip has some kind of insane voodoo at he has won twice and got a top 5 yesterday is beyond me).

Hasheem Thabeet is incredibly overrated. Sure, he's a presence down low, and definitely gets his share of blocks, but if he goes up against any other formidable big man, he's not the same. Last night, UConn lost to Pitt at home 76-68. The Huskies made it a game, but it had nothing to do with Thabeet, who fouled out in just 22 minutes of action. I don't know what made a more indelible impression for me. Thabeet playing so poorly, or DeJuan Blair once again proving that he is one of the most dominant forces under the basket? I guess to me, this was a reaffirmation of the opinion I had last year about Blair's potential. I mean he had the entire arsenal last night. Blocking shots, offensive boards, up-and-unders, hook shots...he showed his versatility, and put it to Thabeet all night. What happened to Thabeet was that his early success totally got to his head, and he is on record saying that he's the best big man and that there really is no competition in the nation for him. Well, he definitely found an easy way to get put in his place. Another way to do that is to get completely thrown off your feet going for a jump ball. That's an "oww, my pride" moment. Somehow, I keep coming back to comparing Thabeet to Roy Hibbert in that both had big size and made a ton of blocks, but when you break it all down, their overall games are something that will not translate to being productive in March, let alone the next level.

The NBA trade deadline is fast approaching. Unfortunately for the Celts, they don't have a lot of wiggle room. This tends to happen when you are $20 million over the cap and have a bunch of untradeable players (the big 3; Rondo, Perkins, and Leon have really, really good contracts; Tony Allen because of the base-year compensation; Eddie House and his early Bird stature...the only player who could they could possibly move is Scal...and unless I'm dead wrong, that's not happening). They did make a minor move in trading Sam Cassell to the Kings for a second-rounder (actually, I'm considering this major considering Cassell hasn't played a game this season...and they somehow got a draft pick out of it). However, with Cassell getting moved, it does open up a spot on the roster, and also, it opens up the opportunity for Danny Ainge and Doc to harass P.J. Brown in coming back for another half-a-year. Of course, the possibility of Starbury coming to Boston still exists. It's going to be tough for the C's to get that one guy that puts them over the top this year though. Again, their flexibility is very limited as to what they can do, so I can't imagine anything outside of a minor acquisition happening.

Elsewhere around the Association, three big names that have been thrown around are Amare Stoudemire, Chris Bosh, and Vince Carter. Stoudemire has been talked about in trades ever since it became clear that the Suns were not going to be in contention. As of the All-Star Game, all 29 other teams in the NBA had at least contacted the Suns about what they were looking to get back in any potential Amare trade. At this moment, multiple sources are pointing towards Stoudemire staying in Phoenix. His potential suitors included Chicago, Detroit, Memphis and Sacramento, but there were various problems that occurred in all three of those deals (Chicago doesn't have the young talent, same with Detroit, Memphis didn't want to give up Rudy Gay, and the price to Sacramento was apparently too much).

As for Bosh, a rumor is now out that the Bulls are going after him as an alternative to Stoudemire. Look for them to be offering Tyrus Thomas, Drew Gooden's expiring contract ($7.2 million), and possibly a draft pick to Toronto, a package very similar to the one they offered up to Phoenix. I find this report to be very interesting considering Toronto just traded away Jermaine O'Neal for Shawn Marion. Are the Raptors going to blow up the team and attempt to rebuild? Bosh is a free agent in 2010, and the price tag for him will be incredibly steep, which is why I thought the Raptors were attempting to clear up some cap room with the O'Neal trade, but if they trade Bosh, it means yet another rebuilding project in Toronto.

Vince Carter has been rumoured to be heading to one of two Texas teams. The Rockets have proposed a 4-for-2 package that would include Carter and Ron Artest. San Antonio would be including Roger Mason, Jr. and George Hill for Carter. Personally, I feel like Carter to the Rockets would be a better fit, as well as being an extremely interesting situation in terms of potentially teaming up with his cousin, Tracy McGrady ("potentially" if McGrady can ever stay healthy). If I'm San Antonio, I don't know if I'm giving up Mason yet. It seems like he's a guy that can hit the big shot in clutch situations, and last time I checked, that is an extremely valuable commodity to have come playoff time. I can't see Carter on the Spurs. Wouldn't that be the exact opposite of the kind of player they really need? They need a defender coming off the bench that can pick up the slack for Bruce Bowen, who, let's face it, isn't really what he used to be. Also, it would be a four-for-one in San Antonio's case. That's a lot of guys to let go considering they have the second-ranked team in the West.

So, all and all, it was a pretty disappointing weekend, but I will not despair too much, because there's plenty more that could help me out. Let's face it, the Combine will never be a bust, and that starts up on the 20th (good luck to Jasper Brinkley, Emanuel Cook, Jared Cook (although I still haven't totally forgiven you for the drop against Auburn), Kenny McKinley, Jamon Meredith, and Captain Munnerlyn this week!). Plus, NESN has figured out that all Boston people want to see is the Sox all hours of the day, so that is helping me. After the combine, I'll be checking out what went down in Indy (I really hate not having the NFL Network right now). In terms of a personal update, I am still substitute teaching, but this is the kids' vacation week, so I'm doing a whole lot of nothing right now. No interviews, no callbacks...I just got done reading an article from the Herald that basically reaffirmed by biggest fear...that this kind of thing is happening to everyone right now. It is too easy to send in an application because of how it is set up on the internet, and because there are no more face-to-face meetings anymore, the HR departments, which are already understaffed as it is, are getting flooded with applicants who have no business applying, but do because it's so easy to do. I'm sure I echo many in saying that this is extremely frustrating. Sure, there is an attempt to change everything, but I know that most of these new policies won't be affecting me for almost a year, and honestly, that's just not fast enough. I need a job now, not in 12 months. If I'm still living at home at that point, I'm going to go out of my mind. Well, guess that's where I stand right now...anyway, here's something to help the spirits. Take care everyone. Peace.


No comments: