Wednesday, June 22, 2005

TODAY'S SPORTS RANT

Yesterday...

Danm! yesterday was quite a day for sports fans.

The NBA Finals went to a 7th game... and both sides agreed upon a new collective bargaining agreement and averted a lockout; something today's hockey players are kicking themselves for approving. New York Ranger Jaromir Jagr even said "...we didn't expect the owners to be so persistent..." Yeah, right. Those guys were suffering from serious post-concussion trauma if they truly believed that the owners, guys whose bank accounts have more zeroes than Howdy Doody has freckles, would be forced to knuckle under to the Player's Association due to financial constraints. Basketball monarch David Stern is wearing a smile that threatens to split his face today.

But, something else transpired at the conclusion of negotiations yesterday... ah yes, some say College Basketball was saved. Amongst other things, like the players receiving a 57 point somethin' somethin' percent share of the revenues, "The Association" mandated a MINIMUM age of 19 OR 1 year out of High School for those entering the draft. If nothing else, forcing 17-19 year olds to go to college will help them develop their Basketball fundamentals, and grow their games. This will serve to enhance the talent entering the NBA. BUT... and there's a VERY big but. This will also force Universities and Colleges to invest hard, expensive man hours in recruiting athletes who'll be leaving as soon as possible. Something to think about. Also, current high profile players such as Kobe, KG, LeBron, Jermaine O'Neal, and Jonathan Bender (A who dat'? for the casual fan) made the leap from high school gymnasiums to jam-packed arenas. But, did these enormously talented athletes (Ok, Jonathan Bender and talented?) really make an impact? With the sole exception of Cavalier prodigy LeBron James, none of the pimply-faced, teen Basketballers had any appreciable impact on their respective teams or the sport. But don't take my word for it, the numbers speak for themsleves:
Rookie Season Numbers For...
'96-97: Kobe Bryant: PPG= 7.6 Assists=1.3 Rebounds=1.9
'95-96: Kevin Garnett: PPG= 10.4 Assists= 1.8 Rebounds= 6.3
'96-97 Jermaine O'Neal: PPG= 4.1 Assists= .2 Rebounds= 2.8
CONTRAST THOSE NUMBER WITH...
'03-04 LeBron James: PPG= 20.9 Assists= 5.9 Rebounds= 5.5

Moving right along, Randy Johnson has GOT to be one unhappy guy today. Although the Yankees bailed him out with an inning for the ages yesterday... an inning that saw 4 homers get smacked,13 runs score, and 16 Yankee batters came to the plate, "The Big Unit" had the shortest outing of his brief Yankee career, and his shortest outing in 3 years. Against Tampa Bay last night, for all intents and purposes a Triple A franchise with a whopping $29 million dollar payroll... and a team that is 24 games under .500 mind you, Johnson lasted 3 innings, served up 3 home runs, and was tapped up for 7 earned runs on 8 hits. Although Johnson recently admonished the media for "giving up on him," "Unit" is 7-5, sports a 4.02 ERA, and is certainly NOT the dominant pitcher the team thought they were putting into pinstripes. The fact of the matter is, of the 3 significant off-season pitching aquisitions, NONE have earned their keep; Carl Pavano was roughed up yet again today (more on that momentarily), Jaret Wright is wrong, currently DL'ed with an arm injury, and Randy Johnson is the 3rd. With the NY Mets and Baltimore Orioles next on the Yankee's slate... this NY team could be out of playoff contention by July.
Today, incidentally, after last night's all-out "shock and awe" assualt upon Tampa pitching, the Yankees unfathomably lose to the team they so dismantled. Carl Pavano served up another dastardly duo of dingers; numbers 15 and 16 on the still young season. Again, so much for the "slump proof" Yankee rotation.

*YOU READ IT HERE! Sweet Lou Piniella will NOT be the next NY Yankee manager! I will deal with myself later for even suggesting such a thing. However, just what was Lou doing yesterday evening, hanging a young Travis Harper out to dry? Clearly, Harper was NOT getting the Yanks out. So, out of sheer anger, or... to show Harper his displeasure, perhaps, Piniella left the distraught pitcher on the mound to get shelled. But... who's really to blame? Piniella, that's who. Firstly, Piniella walked Giambi to get to CF Bernie Williams... who, promptly came through with a big hit. Has Tampa's head coach NOT read the scouting report on Giambi? Although the Yankee DH's numbers have improved, however marginally, he's still got more holes in his swing then a wheel of Jarlsburg Swiss. Bernie, although his bat speed has eroded a bit, has been demonstrably more clutch at the dish. As a head coach it's incumbent upon Piniella to both protect and develop his young players. "Sweet" Lou does neither. If anything, the irate manager hampered Harper's development. Shame on Lou. Further, and to make matters even worse, Piniella had an absolute coniption in the dugout after Bernie's big hit. NO Yankee skipper would be permitted to act in such an unprofessional manner. Could you fathom the unflappable Joe Torre behaving that way? If anything, Torre's lack of emotion is problematic. Upon further review? Piniella's penchant for temper tantrums renders him utterly incapable of being a Yankee. Again.

Those nutty Pistons... the offense is firing on all cylinders, the D is stout- and they showed tremendous fortitude yesterday in beating the Spurs in San Antonio. When Rasheed Wallace can drain a 3 on you- And Rip Hamilton can rain on you from virtually anyplace on the court... and Chauncey Billups can knife his way to the basket at will... and Ben Wallace can throw down with authority... and McDyess can hit 2 while playing solid D... and so on, the Manu/Duncan/Parker show is in desperate straits.

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