Saturday, May 23, 2009

"αντίο Αμερική," That's Greek for Goodbye, America

According to reports from the Orlando Sentinel, Florida point guard Nick Calathes will join the reigning Euroleague champions, Panathinaikos, or commonly known as PAO.

Calathes, who has dual-citizenship in Greece, averaged 17.2 points, 6.2 assists and 5.3 rebounds for the Gators last season as a sophomore... but the Gators managed to miss out on the NCAA tournament for the second time in as many years.

Calathes declared for the NBA Draft earlier this year, but didn't hire an agent, which left him with the option to return to Florida.

According to the Orlando Sentinel's sources, the agreement between Calathes and PAO nets Calathes $1.1 million per year, as well as a car, a home and tax credits.

Apparently the deal also has a buyout clause, in case an NBA team drafts the rights to Calathes.

As talented a player as Calathes is though, this move is probably better for him, as I don't think he's athletic enough to succeed in the NBA. Sure, he's a 6'6" point guard with great court vision, but I'm fairly certain the guy can't even dunk, and he barely jumps on his jump shot. (If anyone has visual evidence of Calathes jumping high enough to dunk, feel free to show me).

But as the report says, Calathes will probably be a a popular player for PAO, with his heritage, which will likely lead to some nice endorsement deals for him overseas.

Also, as good as PAO has been, historically, Calathes has this to look forward to. Yes, that's right, soccer-like shenanigans in a basketball arena. Sweet!

Just hope that Calathes learns the PAO fight song before he gets there:

"It's a magic weed, give me a little bit to taste, to dream of my PAO and shout as far as God: My Panatha, I love you, like heroin, like a hard drug, like hashish, lsd, for you PAO the whole world is stoned, (or: PAO the whole world is high on you), the whole world. My Panatha, my Panatha, I love you, I love you, wherever you may play I will always follow you, I follow you, PAO here, PAO here, PAO there, PAO there, wherever you may play we will always be together, always together. "

Oh, those crazy Europeans...

Marlins Trade Pool

The fellas over at Marlins Die-Hards recently set up an open contest for their fellow bloggers and readers. The premise: who the Marlins will trade before the July 31 trade deadline. The rules are simple:

  • Each competitor will pick five Marlins (all players in organization are eligible, including minor-leaguers) who they feel will be traded before the July 31st deadline.
  • The competitor will rank those five players, one to five, in order of most likely to least likely to get traded.
  • Points will be awarded based on where the player is in each competitor's list. Number one selections will get five points, number twos get four and so on down to number five selections receiving one point.
  • Whoever has the most points wins.

I thought it would be fun to throw my hat in the ring and give it a shot, so the following are my picks, accompanied by a brief explanation of why I think each player will be shipped before July 31.

  1. Dan Uggla - He's been having a tough season, and though I'm sure his numbers will improve, he is slowly being replaced by rookie Chris Coghlan.
  2. Jeremy Hermida - He's a solid player, but he just hasn't panned out how the organization has expected him to.
  3. Cody Ross - If it comes down to choosing to keep Ross or Cameron Maybin for significant playing time, then the Fish probably ship Ross out. He's MLB-ready, and is going to command a lot more money for his services. Many teams out there will be interested in a power-hitting outfielder.
  4. Ricky Nolasco - He's been struggling recently, with an ERA in the 7's. However, he has shown that he can be a good starting pitcher, and we could get great value for him.
  5. Burke Badenhop - He's not going to be a starter for the Marlins, but team's are always looking for bullpen help.

*Of course, all of this is under the assumption that the Marlins are out of playoff contention by the deadline. Except Uggla, I'm fairly certain that he gets traded regardless of the team's standing.

So there you have it, folks. Oh, and the winner of the contest will get a post by the guys over at MDH proclaiming how awesome the winner is for correctly picking the players, and possibly some other prizes. Said post will include linkage to the winner's blog, or Twitter feed, or whatever.

I'll keep you guys updated as the contest unfolds.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Eastern Conference Finals Game 2: Better Than Game 1

Epic. Don't want to get ahead of myself here, but this series looks like it might be even better than the "omggreatestseriesEVERRRR" that was the Bulls and the Celtics in the first round.

The Cavs just snatched victory from the jaws of defeat, moments after they managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory after blowing a 23-point lead.

Hedo "The Turkish Michael Jordan" Turkoglu came up big late in the game for the Magic after a slow start, and hit a go-ahead jumper with :01 left on the clock.

Then LeBron, in the ultimate "anything you can do, I can do better" act of one-upmanship, nailed a fadeaway three at the buzzer over Turkoglu.

I don't know how to feel if I'm Orlando. On the one hand, they managed to steal homecourt from the Cavs, however, on the other hand, a buzzer-beater loss after clawing back from down 23 is pretty heartbreaking. Can't wait to see how things will go when the series heads to Orlando for Game 3.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

2003 NBA Draft

Random thought:

What if the Nuggets win the title this year, instead of the Cleveland LeBrons?

That would give three of the next four players drafted after LeBron in 2003 a championship ring before him: Darko Milicic, Carlmelo Anthony and Dwyane Wade.

If the Nuggets win, that would mean all three of those players got their ring in their first Finals appearance, while LeBron has already lost in the Finals before, in 2007 to the Spurs.

Yeah, I know Darko didn't really do anything to earn that ring, aside from warm the bench. But if the Nuggets do win, and Melo continues his ridiculous play as of late, then he will be the star of the team's title run. While Wade, as we all know, put on what it arguably the greatest Finals performance in NBA history.

But I don't want to jinx the Nuggets or anything (knock on wood), as this was just a random thought I had today in conversation with a friend. But wouldn't it be funny that three of the next four players drafted after "The Chosen One" all won titles before him?

Again though, just a thought.

Thoughts on Magic-Cavs Game 1

Just a few quick thoughts on the game.

- If Mo Williams would have made that final shot: wow. Fortunately for Magic fans, he missed it.

- Speaking of that final possession, if I'm the Magic, I'm glad LeBron was the one that forced that jump ball, because that took the ball out of his hands for the final shot.

- Didn't like that foul called on Dwight Howard in the final minute that gave him his sixth foul. If any other Cav makes that drive, they probably don't get the call LeBron got. At best, it should have been a no-call in my opinion. There was too little contact, with Howard straight up, to have that called as the sixth foul on the Magic's best player in a game that could have potentially gone to overtime at that point.

- Also, so much for that 40-2 record the Cavs established at home this season (really only one loss since LeBron and others rested during the season finale). So in a way, the Cavs just doubled their home losses in one night.

- Lastly: wow at Howard's montrous dunk that caused an eight-minute delay in the first quarter. Very Shaq-esque (and yes, that one just scored me 90 points in Scrabble because I hit the Triple Word Score. How did I get so many Q's, you ask? Don't worry 'bout it.)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

And The No. 1 Pick of the 2009 NBA Draft Goes To...

The L.A. Clippers.

The other L.A. team turned a 17.7 percent chance of winning the draft lottery into what most people believe will be Oklahoma big man Blake Griffin.

The Sacramento Kings, who had a 25 percent chance of winning, wound up with the fourth pick.

Brian Grant Has Parkinson's

Just read today that former Heat big man, Brian Grant, was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.

Grant played four seasons with the Heat before being traded as a part of the blockbuster that brought Shaq, and as a result, an NBA title to Miami.

Always known as a role player, Grant was a fan favorite here in Miami, even though he played out of position at center for part of his time here. In 2000, after inking a 7-year, $86 million deal with the Heat, Grant had a career season, averaging 15 and 9 rebounds for the team.

The best way I can think to describe what Grant meant to the Heat is comparing him to what Udonis Haslem has been to the team in his career. He didn't always put up the best numbers, but he did the dirty work that needed to be done. Undersized at 6'9", he played out of position and matched up with the likes of Shaq, Karl Malone and David Robinson.

Grant found out about his diagnosis in January, and finally decided to go public with his condition after talking to both Michael J. Fox and Muhammad Ali. Grant sat down with ESPN's Ric Bucher to discuss his illness. According to the column, Fox told Grant not to let the disease rule him, but rather that he has to rule the disease.

Grant is starting up his own Web site, http://www.briangrant.org/, where people can follow his progress with his battle with Parkinson's.

My best thoughts go out to The General, who I will always remember for being my mom's favorite Heat player.

Monday, May 18, 2009

No, No to the No-No

Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw took a no-hitter into the eighth against the Marlins on Sunday. Then Deadspin had this post. Sure enough, Cody Ross led off the inning with a double.

The Marlins still lost, 12-5. Ross did hit a grand slam in the ninth, if it's any consolation for a struggling team.

Can we please get some starting pitching?

But thank you, Deadspin, for jinxing Kershaw and the Dodgers.

Note: Ross went 2-for-2 with 2 walks, the double and the grand slam. The rest of the Marlins went a combined 2-for-27 with nine strikeouts.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Dropping Below .500

Today the Marlins dropped the series finale in Milwaukee 5-3. You know what that means, folks?

It means the Florida Marlins are below .500 for the first time all season.

On the bright side, it did take the team a whole 6 weeks or so before they fell below .500.

However, the team has now lost 17 of 23 since starting the season 11-1, and has dropped to fourth in the NL East, only ahead of the Nationals.

During that span, the starting rotation has registered a grand total of two wins, both of which came in Denver against the Rockies (Ricky Nolasco and Josh Johnson).

The bullpen has shown improvement though, despite Burke Badenhop allowing a couple of runs that put the Marlins behind after Johnson left the game. Before that, the 'pen had a streak of about 19 consecutive scoreless innings.

Also, Hanley Ramirez, who was struggling at the plate a month ago, has upped his average nearly 100 points to bring it to .358, which is fifth best in the NL.

Where the team really needs to step it up is with the starting pitching, which has been pretty bad outside of Johnson, and the leadoff hitting. Hanley can't do much at the plate if the hitters before him don't get on base.

So with that being said, it's still not time to give up on the Marlins, despite the recent drop back to reality. We've seen what this team can do when they are clicking on all levels, so let's just hope they can get their act together and rebound.

Oh, and I'm still standing by my prediction that the fish will win the World Series, as crazy as that may sound.

The Real X-Factor?

Going into the season, people, including myself, spoke of how perhaps James Posey has been the X-factor in winning titles the last few years, as he played a supposrting role in both the Heat's 2006 title run, as well as the Celtics' run last season.

Well this season, with the Hornets, Posey went out in the first round. Some X-factor, huh?

Instead, the title of X-factor should, perhaps, be bestowed upon a certain point guard who moved out west earlier this season. Yes, that's right, Chauncey Billups.

Billups, who was traded to his hometown Nuggets for Allen Iverson, has come up huge for Denver this season, and has helped lead them to the Western Conference Finals against either the Lakers or Rockets.

This is Billups' first trip to the Western Conference Finals, but that's because he's been too busy getting the Pistons to the Eastern Conference Finals the last six seasons before this one. Yeah, Billups has now been to seven... SEVEN... straight conference finals, including two trips to the NBA Finals and an NBA title.

Sounds like Billups might be a legit X-factor when it comes to the playoffs, but let's just see how far he can take these Nuggets this postseason.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Reunited and It Feels So Good.

Long-time Dolphin great, Jason Taylor, re-signed with the Dolphins today.

Taylor, who played his first 11 seasons with the Dolphins before being traded to the Washington Redskins last year.

Taylor ws released by the Redskins in early March because he refused to report to off-season conditioning, instead opting to spend time with his family in Florida.

The Dolphins re-signed Taylor today to a $1.1 million/1-year contract, with up to $400,000 in additional incentives. That's $7 million less than he was schedule to make with the Redskins this year.

Taylor had this to say about re-signing with the team:

"My heart has always been in Miami and so I'm truly excited to call myself a Dolphin once again. I was presented with a number of different opportunities, but in the end the combination of this being the best situation for my family, my love for this community and my tremendous loyalty to a great organization made this an easy decision."

I like this move for the Dolphins. Even if Taylor is aging, he is still considered one of the premier pass rushers in the league. Just a few seasons removed from being the 2006 Defensive Player of the Year, Taylor, 34, probably still has a couple more productive seasons left in the tank.

Not to mention, he was always a fan favorite in his decade-plus with the Dolphins. But what I really respect about this news is that Taylor is taking such a huge paycut.

In a sports era where athletes are inking absurdly rich deals, it's nice to see a player, who already has made millions and millions over his career, take the paycut just so that he can play where he feels most comfortable, and where he can spend time with his family. Because at the end of the day, when his career is in the rearview mirror, his family is what it comes down to.

So it's great to see a guy put his family's interest first, before the big bucks, and before the opportunity to win that elusive first Super Bowl ring (word is that the Patriots were willing to offer Taylor much more than the Dolphins, and they also probably have a better chance at making a Super Bowl run in the immediate future, at least according to the guys in Vegas).

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

LA's "Mannywood" Gets A 50-Game Makeover

At the end of April, the LA Dodgers launched a special fan section in left field of Dodger Stadium, aptly named "Mannywood." The lower-level left field seats were being advertised as a pair for $99 (Manny Ramirez wears number 99), complete with exclusive "Mannywood" t-shirts.

Then that whole 50-game suspension happened when it was revealed that Manny tested positive for a female fertility drug that was used to allegedly try to help him get pregnant enhance his on-field performance.

Well that was short-lived, LA. Oops.

But fear not, Dodgers left field regulars. Mannywood is getting a temporary makeover, featuring his replacement, Juan Pierre (hooray for a former-Marlins World Series champion!).

The new name: JuanPierrewood. Duh.

Maybe now that the Dodger Stadium has also temporarily halted sales of the Manny dreadlocked wigs, they will perhaps instead sell Juan Pierre-themed baldcaps.

The NBA Playoffs: Where Something Other Than Amazing Happens.

I'm sure everyone has seen those NBA playoff commercials, "where amazing happens."

Well here's a new one for you: The NBA Playoffs: Where Old White Dudes Call Black Guys 'Thugs.'

First, there was the much blogged about radio clip from the Heat-Hawks first round series where Hawks radio announcer Steve Holman said the Miami Heat resorted to "thuggery" against the Hawks in Game 5 after Al Horford was fouled hard and sprained his ankle.



Then, there was the Nuggets-Mavericks second round series, where this weekend, Mavs owner Mark Cuban told Lydia Moore, the mother of Kenyon Martin, that her son was a 'thug.'

That boiled over into Game 4, which the Mavericks finally won, when Martin went off on Cuban after the game, calling him a "f****t M'F-er."

Cuban later backtracked on what he told Martin's mom, and issued an apology via his blog , and even inviting the whole family to dinner on him.

Regardless of an apology, tempers will still flare in this intense series (it's the playoffs, that's how emotions flow), and somewhere, some other old white dude will call an NBA player a thug.

But thank you, Holman and Cuban, for spicing up the playoffs just a little bit more. I'm not saying either of them had the right to call either players thugs, but it certainly gave another storyline to each otherwise 9one way or another) lopsided series.

Friday, May 8, 2009

What's In A Name?

That's the question I'm asking with the recent news (as expected) that Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross worked a deal with Jimmy Buffett and his LandShark Lager to rename Dolphin Stadium to LandShark Stadium, at least for the 2009 season.

While I find it amusing that LandShark Stadium will now host several aquatic creatures, including the Dolphins (and the Big Tuna) and the Marlins (as well as their Mermaids and Manatees), it's a shame that one stadium has now had five (or six is you include taking the 's' off of "Dolphins Stadium") different names in its (roughly) 20 year existence.

That's what brought me back to the great Shakespearean line, "what's in a name?" I was wondering what sort of success the teams have had in this stadium with its various names over the last few decades.

So with that in mind, let's take a look at the teams' total season records (not just home games):

Joe Robbie Stadium: 1987-1996.

Dolphins: 81-62 with a .566 win percentage and two division titles

Marlins: 182-238 with a .433 win percentage.

Pro Player Park: 1996

Dolphins: 8-8 with a .500 win percentage.

Marlins: 80-82 with a .494 win percentage.

Pro Player Stadium: 1997-2005

Dolphins: 73-55 with a .570 win percentage and one division title.

Marlins: 618-677 with a .477 win percentage, two Wild Cards and two World Series titles.

Dolphins Stadium: 2005-2006

Dolphins: 15-17 with a .468 win percentage.

Marlins: 161-163 with a .497 win percentage.

Dolphin Stadium: 2007-2009

Dolphins: 12-20 with a .375 win percentage and one division crown.

Marlins: 155-168 (plus a current record of 15-14 this season) for a total record of 170-182 with a .483 win percentage.

Hurricanes: 7-3 (4-2 in the ACC)

It appears that for the Dolphins, Joe Robbie Stadium was most successful, in terms division titles while Pro Player Stadium was better for the 'Fins in terms of win percentage.

For the Marlins, hands down it's Pro Player Stadium, since that includes the team's only two postseason appearances and World Series titles.

For the Hurricanes, they've only played one season there, but it was much better than the team's last in the Orange Bowl. But I'd say it's too early to compare the Hurricanes at this stadium to the teams that played in the Orange Bowl, with their five national championships and absurd number of NFL players and what not.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Manny Being Manny

From my "MLB Preview from A-Z" on opening day:

"The biggest name this offseason was obviously A-Rod, but I guarantee you that another big name will surface sometime this season. One seemingly always does. Any bets on what that name will be?"

The answer to that question seems to be Manny Ramirez, who was suspended today for 50 games for violation of the leagues Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.

Ramirez claimed it was the result of a medication prescribed to him by a doctor in Miami. According to an article by SI's Tom Verducci, a source said the substance was not a steroid, but still a banned performance enhancing substance.

I'll get back to this more later as more details surface.

Manny UPDATE HERE. Ummm, I don't even know what to say about that.

Tim Tebow Adds to His Collection of Honors

A Heisman Trophy, two SEC titles, two national titles, a couple of Maxwell awards, a Davey O'Brien award and now this: Tim Tebow has been named the co-chair of the Governor's Council on Physical Fitness by Florida Governor Charlie Crist.

The honor was announced in a press release from the Governor's office on Wednesday.

According to the press release, Gov. Crist had this to say of Tebow:

“Tim Tebow’s leadership and servanthood both on and off the field make him an ideal candidate to serve as co-chair of the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness. Tim is a true role model who consistently demonstrates the fitness and healthy living characteristics the council is responsible for promoting.”

Tebow will serve as co-chair alongside former Tampa Bay linebacker Derrick Brooks and Olympic gold medal gymnast, Shannon Miller.

According to the press release:

"The Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness was originally established in May 2007 by Executive Order 07-52 to promote health and wellness in the state through development of a plan of action to increase physical fitness through regular exercise and sound nutrition practices among Floridians of all ages and to reduce the rate of obesity resulting in chronic illnesses."

Aside from Tebow, Brooks and Miller, several other athletes are members of the council, including Shaq, surfer Kelly Slater, Bucs running back Warrick Dunn, Olympic swimmer Dara Torres, Red Sox third baseman Mike Lowell, and Olympic gold medal tennis player Jennifer Capriati.

By the way, as co-chair, yes, that means Tebow has authority over one of the greatest NBA players ever, some Olympic medalists and a two-time World Series champion, for what it's worth. Whatever authority that may be, it's authority off the playing field nonetheless.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Hooray, Beer?

Joe Robbie... I mean, Pro Player Park... err Pro Player Stadium... no, wait. Dolphin Stadium. Yeah, that's it. Dolphin Stadium is apparently ready to undergo another name change.

This time, reports are that a naming rights deal is likely to happen with the lovechild of Jimmy Buffett and Anheuser Busch: Land Shark Lager.

Apparently, the announcement will come this Friday, and the stadium will be officially named Land Shark Stadium.

Along with the naming rights, there are plans to open up a Margaritaville themed area of the park.

This deal is obviously for the money that the owner gets from the brewing company for the rights, but is reportedly also an incentive to get Buffett to invest in the team as a minority owner.

I could care less what they name the stadium, they just need to make it more affordable to go to events there, but I digress.

An Ugly Series Ends, Well, UGLY.

First off, I hope LeBron James makes a fool of Josh Smith in the Cavs-Hawks Eastern Conference Semis.

Second: gosh, what an ugly series that was for the Heat and the Hawks. Average margin of victory was just over 19 points per game. Pretty fitting then that Game 7 was just as ugly.

If you care for reasons as to why the Heat lost that series, I would point you to this piece by Israel Gutierrez in Monday's Miami Herald. For the most part, I have to agree with him.

Obviously, one of the biggest problems for the Heat is the lack of a consistent second option on offense. We know Dwyane Wade is gonna get his almost every game, but the Heat can't be a one man show. Jermaine O'Neal has showed he can sometimes put up the pre-knee injury numbers he had back in Indiana. But sometimes isn't good enough for a team that wants to continue to get better.

Michael Beasley has shown what a threat he can be on offense, too. His problem though, is that he isn't as efficient. Sure, in Game 6 he had over 20 points and 15 boards, but he did it on 25 shots. Hopefully it's something he can work on.

But instead of focusing on why the Heat lost, and dwelling on a tough first-round exit, Heat fans should rejoice. The team won over three times as many game this season (46 is you include the playoffs), than they did last season (15).

That's pretty good for the ninth youngest team in the league (25.8 years), that relied on a rookie point guard (Mario Chalmers) and a rookie sixth man.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Rajon Rondo Needs to Slow His Role

We all know about his questionable foul on Brad Miller at the end of Game 5. Then there was also his tripping of Kirk Hinrich on a drive to the basket in Game 5.

But then Thursday night, Rajon Rondo grabbed Hinrich by the arm with two hand and flung him into the scorer's table.




Rondo needs to slow his role, because, even though the intensity level jacks up in the playoffs, it's no reason to be playing dirty.

That's a few suspect plays by Rondo in the last couple of games. The chances of the league dropping the hammer on him (no, not the Polish Hammer, who had 11 points, 15 rebounds and 4 steals in filling in for the suspended Dwight Howard in Orlando's series-clinching win over the 76ers), but rather the disciplinary hammer: zero. Not a chance the league suspends Rondo for a Game 7 in what has been one of the greatest playoff series I can remember. Ever.

So if you haven't tuned in to any of the other games this series, I highly recommend tuning into Game 7 this weekend.