Crushed Optimists

We are twin brothers who grew up in Central Washington. This blog is devoted to the life of Seattle sports fans, as well as various other topics that we will espouse for your enjoyment. We could be called another OFFICIAL SEATTLE SEAHAWKS site, but we'll take our uneducated crack at the Mariners, Sonics, and Huskies as well. A Seattle Sports Blog? Must be the land... of crushed optimism!

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Nate McMillan: Your Options Are Disappearing!

I did not believe that Nate McMillan would be back as coach of the Sonics. There were great opportunities out there, places that could pay him more money, but a lot of those options are already closing.

Cleveland: This is where I thought Nate would land for one simple reason... LeBron James. Who would not want to coach this guy? I also thought that Cleveland would make a solid run at McMillan after whiffing on Phil Jackson. Imagine my shock when Cleveland goes with Indiana assistant head-coach Mike Brown, a veritable no-name in the coaching community.

Minnesota: I have no idea why they would do this, but reports link P.J. Carlesimo to the job, where he would reunite with the strangler, a.k.a. Latrell. Again, what? Nate is way better than P.J., and out definitely outperformed him as an NBA coach.

Lakers: Looks like Phil is coming back, though, even if he isn't, I would be hard-pressed to see Nate want to go coach Kobe.

Detroit: If Larry Brown does jet, which looks more and more likely, Flip Saunders is the obvious candidate that will be hired as soon as Joe Dumars can get on the phone.

Knicks: From the very beginning, this is the one job that I could never see McMillan take. Who would want to coach this team? A bunch of overpaid veterans that have no heart and never try on defense? A shoot-first point guard in Marbury? Absolutely no inside game? No way.

Where does that leave McMillan? Maybe back on the Sonics bench, which would be a huge surprise for me, but his options are already disappearing and the Sonics have only been done for a few weeks. That's how quickly the NBA offseason moves....

posted by colin_hesse @ 1:47 PM  0 comments

Mariners Making Plenty of Moves

So... you take a weekend off and, all of a sudden, the Mariners go a little buck wild with moves. Let's take a little look-see...

1. Miguel Olivo down, replaced by Rene Rivera

I root for Miguel Olivo. I really do. He seems like a nice guy who tries hard, for the most part. It's just that, this season, he has been worse than terrible. .125 BA, over 30 K's in just over 100 AB's, huge holes in his swing, and his defense and pitch-calling has suffered as well. He is just 26, and I still hold out hope that he will work out in the end, but this move had to be made. Rene Rivera will be a servicable backup whom I hope gets more than 25% of the catching duties, which is what Hargrove has said he will receive. In that mind...

2. Pat Borders will take over starting catcher duties

Not a huge fan of this move. I know the rationale. Sele and Moyer have both pitched better under Border's watch, and his hitting has been, well, better. (not by much). However, there is absolutely no reason for a 42 year old to be a starter on a rebuilding team. None. Let Rivera play. Let Ryan Christenson play. Not Pat Borders.

3. Willie Bloomquist has started four games in a row

How bad has Wilson Valdez been at the plate? Bad enough that Hargrove has started Bloomquist at short recently. He has been decent, but, wow, it's tough to watch him get to grounders and throw to first. There were at least three times during the time last night where Gavin and I broke out laughing while watching him field. His footwork is less than spectacular.

4. Mike Morse called up from AAA.

Good. Try him out. Supposedly his defense has improved, and there is no reason to believe that his offense is worse than Bloomquist or Valdez. There needs to be a solid chance given him to succeed, just like Olivo, and just like Reed (who, by the way, is coming around in a big way). This is my favorite move of the week, and one that was called by Gavin a few weeks ago (massive props to him).

Oh yeah, by the way, the M's have won 3 in a row for only the second time this year. Can Ryan Franklin keep it up tonight? Stay tuned...

posted by colin_hesse @ 1:27 PM  0 comments

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Low Weekend: Seattle News

Two items:

There is another editorial meeting of the staff of Crushed Optimists this weekend. Lots of Lord of the Rings: Battle Edition will be played. Lots of blogging.... not so much. Sorry. Go play outside. Have a picnic.

In other news, should we be excited that the Mariners win because of Aaron Sele and Pat Borders? Answer: no. Still depressed. Terrible week. Hopefully the Suns cheer me up tonight.

posted by colin_hesse @ 5:55 PM  0 comments

Friday, May 27, 2005

Quick! Find the glint of hope!

What a horrible series at Baltimore. Not even worth a post. What I will say is that it finally looks like Jeremy Reed is starting to come around, even hitting his first home run. Hargrove likes what he sees, and we might see Reed back at the #2 slot before too long. He was one hitter that I was not that worried about, and I am glad to see him progress.

The hitter I am most concerned about, however, (beyond Beltre, for obvious reasons) is Miguel Olivo, simply because we invested so much in the trade for him. Freddy Garcia is pitching extremely well, and Olivo seems to have gotten worse, both offensively and calling a game. Is it a coincidence that Moyer and Sele had their best starts in a month after being caught by Pat Borders?

Next up: Tampa Bay, who just finished sweeping Oakland, proving that there is one team that is worse than us in the AL West.

posted by colin_hesse @ 10:58 AM  0 comments

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Out of Body Experience

Tonight was the first time that I have ever cheered for Shaquille O'Neal. I did not even realize it until the 4th quarter, when I watched him shooting free throws, urging them to actually go in.

When Shaq entered the league with the Magic, I hated his game. There were many reasons for this. He's too big. He can't shoot a jump shot. All he did was to be big and slam the ball down. There was no poetry to the motion, no reason to make me respect the play.

When he moved to LA, my feelings grew in disgust, for how he was matched up against the Sonics. I saw many heated battles between Payton, Hawkins, and Baker. We beat them in the playoffs, they beat us in the playoffs. Hack-a-Shaq was born in this time period, and I never forgave him for how ugly he made the 4th quarter look.

He made terrible movies, including "Kazaam", which forever made me hesitant to congratulate the motion picture industry on anything. Seriously, wasn't there one person during the production of that movie who took a step back, watched the movie, and gagged? Who thought it was a good idea to pay Shaq money to act like a giant genie?

Next up was the Kobe feud. All I heard were two spoiled superstars bickering back and forth, then somehow putting it together against teams I respected more, whether it was the David Robinson-led Spurs, the Kevin Garnett-led T-Wolves, or the Reggie Miller-led Pacers.

To make a long story short, I have always been proud to set myself against the juggernaut that was Shaquille O'Neal. Then came this season. Maybe it was the move, but I saw Shaq in a new light. I saw how funny he was with the media. I saw how he valued, truly valued, his leadership role. I saw how much he cared about winning. I saw how well he fit with Wade. And I began to change. Now, suddenly, with little warning, I find myself cheering for Shaq tonight. Rooting for the man I once considered the worst thing to happen to the NBA outside of the Jail Blazers. Watching as they pulled out a close game against the World Champion Pistons, a team that I cheered for last season during that stirring upset. And I think to myself.... it's good to appreciate just how much this man has done for the NBA during his career.

I am now, somewhat reluctantly, a fan. (except against the Sonics, of course)

posted by colin_hesse @ 8:04 PM  0 comments

Mariners Quarter in Review

Otherwise known as "unluckiest quarter ever". The M's have singlehandedly managed to lose in just about every way possible. The offense won't hit. The starting pitching is mediocre. The bullpen blows leads. We haven't been able to find any sort of consistency across the board, which means we probably are a mediocre team, worse than I'd expected. Let's look at the contributors:

Catcher - Miguel Olivo (.144 BA, .174 OBP, .240 SLG, .415 OPS, 14 RBI, 31 SO)
Those are truly frightening numbers. Olivo, who has so much potential, is not showing a breath of it. He is struggling enough that Pat Borders is eliciting excitment from reporters. This is utterly absurd. He is better than this. I refuse to believe he is this bad. This is worse than Ben Davis. Olivo is not worse than Ben Davis. I look for the next quarter to be better, if only because it can't be worse.

First - Richie Sexson (.250 BA, .355 OBP, .549 SLG, .904 OPS, 12 HR, 37 RBI, 47 SO)
This is exactly the stat line I expected from Richie, with a slightly higher OBP. Richie doesn't make contact much, but when he does it goes a long ways. He has already hit more over the center field fence at Safeco this year than our entire team last year (at least when I was watching). He is instant offense, and has been more than worth the money.

Second - Bret Boone (.259 BA, .311 OBP, .398 SLG, .709 OPS, 4 HR, 22 RBI)
Bret is showing that he is close to the end and it's time to bring up Mr. Lopez sooner rather than later. Jose could at least match those rather poor numbers. Boone isn't drawing walks, he isn't hitting for power, and he isn't even turning the double play well. Boone still thinks it's 2001, but we have steroid testing now.

Shortstop - Wilson Valdez (.208 BA, .246 OBP, .267 SLG, .513 OPS, 8 RBI, 0 HR)
This is what I would like to refer to as a black hole. The problem with Valdez is that there's little upside. I don't see the potential. He's too aggressive, doesn't have power, doesn't turn the double play, and is a player that teams like the Mets would cut. I really don't understand why with the depth at shortstop we have we're letting this guy help wreck our season. Again, wouldn't Mike Morse or Adam Jones or Matt Tuiasosopo be at least this bad while giving them major league experience (yes and starting the clock on their big league time)? Make it so.

Third - Adrian Beltre (.238 BA, .263 OBP, .372 SLG, .635 OPS, 5 HR, 24 RBI, 30 SO, 5 BB)
Adrian is showing no patience at the plate (5 walks versus 30 K's). He is constantly swinging at the outside slider in the dirt, otherwise known as the Edgar Martinez special (when you knew his eye was going). The batting line has us wishing for the return of David Bell. Basically, that OBP is ridiculously poor, even with the change of leagues. I still think the guy has too much talent to struggle like this, but as is he is the biggest culprit for our slow start.

Left Field - Randy Winn (.275 BA, .355 OBP, .350 SLG, .705 OPS, 0 HR, 12 RBI, 19 BB)
Let's go through the good and the bad. This is a stereotypical Randy Winn line. 19 BB shows good patience (one of the few on our team who can work the count). The average and on base numbers are excellent and worthy of being moved into the number two spot in the lineup. However, the reason I continually would like to see Snelling or Choo instead of Winn resides in the fact that in the face of all those hits Randy has managed 12 RBI. That projects to less than 50 RBI for a season of starting. Terrible. No homers. Terrible. Why should we keep this guy around? Snelling will give us this but with power and better defense!

Center Field - Jeremy Reed (.253 BA, .335 OBP, .329 SLG, .664 OPS, 0 HR, 17 BB)
Reed for some reason has gotten what Snelling and Lopez haven't... the ability to progress in the big leagues. These numbers aren't great. The strikeout total (25) is not where it should be for someone with that good an eye. But it will get better. Reed has had a poor quarter and yet still has better stats than most of the starters. He will be fine.

Right Field - Ichiro (.333 BA, .386 OBP, .467 SLG, .852 OPS, 3 HR, 15 SB, 32 R)
Ichiro is Ichiro, but with a slightly lower batting average than we would like. He is striking out a few more times as well. We finally see some home runs out of our outfield, another reason Randy Winn should go. When your outfield combines for 3 HR in the first quarter of the season, your offense is pretty darn anemic. The higher stolen base total is nice. He has the speed and finally is putting the mechanics together with it. All in all, Ichiro is still our best offensive player.

Bench - Why even go into this crap? They are awful. They give us nothing. Yet Hargrove continues to trot them out in clutch situations. No! Bad Hargrove! We should cut them all and start from scratch.

Overall Lineup Thoughts - Low batting average (.250 combined), plus terrible slugging (.379) means that we are still a singles hitting team this year after the additions of Sexson and Beltre. Essentially, Beltre has given us nothing, Boone has regressed, Winn and Reed have no power, Ibanez has been okay, and the bottom of the order is the worst in the league. Not a lot of solid numbers. If they don't improve, we will get a high draft pick next year too.

Starting Pitching:
1. Joel Piniero (2-3, 44.0 IP, 8 HR, 17 BB, 24 SO, 5.93 ERA, 1.59 WHIP)
This is our ace? He looked completely out of it last night (great suck up job Seattle PI) and hasn't looked good all year. He either misses the corners or hits the middle of the plate. That ERA is mediocre. He's not striking people out. He's walking way too many to be successful. This is not an ace.

2. Jamie Moyer (4-1, 45.2 IP, 5 HR, 16 BB, 30 SO, 6.11 ERA, 1.82 WHIP)
Wow. To realize how bad these numbers are we have to remember how well Moyer started. This says that Moyer gives up almost two base runners PER INNING that he pitches. His room for error is not that great. After showing that he could work from behind in his first few starts, Moyer now is shooting that slow changeup over the plate and hitters are feasting on the bounty. That's our number one and two starters, folks. Not very impressive.

3. Gil Meche (4-2, 54.0 IP, 7 HR, 20 BB, 30 SO, 5.00 ERA, 1.37 WHIP)
This is where the WHIP statistic can be more revealing. The ERA is inflated and should go down. Meche has been killed by the big inning, 3-5 earned runs, and shuts down lineups the rest of the time. In starts where his one inning in one run he dominates. He is starting to show his true form, but I think still has a long way to go. Finding the darn plate instead of walking that many guys will be a great start.

4. Ryan Franklin (2-5, 55.2 IP, 9 HR, 23 BB, 23 SO, 4.53 ERA, 1.20 WHIP)
That's right... Ryan Franklin has the lowest WHIP of all our starters. All with the incredible 1-1 walks to strikeouts ratio. This means that Ryan, for all the unluckiness of run support, is one lucky dude. He is putting a bunch of balls in play and if they don't leave the yard (which they will... and do) they are finding someone's glove. There will be a stretch this quarter where that luck completely runs out. Mark my words.

5. Aaron Sele (3-4, 50.2 IP, 4 HR, 25 BB, 23 SO, 4.62 ERA, 1.54 WHIP)
Sele confounds me. The only stat he has that is respectible is that he is the only starter keeping the ball in the ballpark. He walks a man for every two innings that he pitches. He doesn't strike people out. Yet he has three wins, including the recent complete game shutout. The hand of the Lord is upon Aaron. Yet hopefully that hand will be removed and replaced with Campillo or Hernandez.

Bullpen:
The bullpen has been the source of many highs and lows. Eddie Guardado (11 saves, 2.12 ERA) has been brilliant, while Julio Mateo (1.95 ERA, .87 WHIP) has been All-Star quality. Shiggy Hasegawa has enjoyed an understated resurgence (2.61 ERA, .92 WHIP). However, Hargrove keeps trotting out Jeff Nelson (8 BB in 14 IP), Matt Thornton (0-3, 6.52 ERA, 6 HR) in clutch situations and they (gasp) are blowing leads. JJ Putz has gotten homer friendly, losing three games for us in the past week alone (two grand slams and the home run last night to Baltimore). Ron Villone has had a rough past two weeks as well. All in all, they've performed okay, not great.

Overall pitching thoughts: That starting rotation is weak. We need to take Ryan Franklin and Aaron Sele out of it and replace with Campillo and Hernandez. Again, it'd be at least as good as what we're getting now, and they are both ready (AAA ball isn't a challenge anymore). That moves Franklin into the bullpen, where he, Mateo, and Hasegawa can be a solid relief core to Guardado, with Villone and hopefully George Sherrill providing the support from the left hand side.

Have you noticed a consistent train of thought? It's that it's time to let the kids have a shot. Why stick with veterans who aren't even being that worse from previous years? Bring on Felix, bring on Sherrill, bring on Campillo, bring on Lopez, bring on (insert shortstop prospect), bring on Snelling and let's get some excitement going. Otherwise I don't see a quarter much improved from the last and the M's sliding back in the pack.

posted by Gavin @ 2:54 PM  0 comments

David Locke does it again

When he first started writing articles, I rarely enjoyed them. Locke came across as pretty conceited. This year, though, he has taken his writing to another level when touching on the Sonics. Every article has shown how the Sonics were so successful from a statistical perspective (and not boring, either). I've eaten them up.

Today's effort is no different. Locke details the reason the Sonics can't stay pat, resign everyone. His reasoning is pretty close to mine on several free agents. Reggie Evans is going to be pushed out by Nick Collison, and Jerome James is going to want too much offense.

He raises an excellent point with Antonio Daniels. Perhaps his improvement this year was as much as him wanting to show he could start in his free agent year as anything else. Luke Ridnour will play more minutes next year and can play in crunch time more often. I still think it would be nice to have Daniels back, as a backup point guard is necessary for survival (see Phoenix Suns against the Spurs).

For me, the reason that changes have to be made is simple. We lost. We overachieved and lost. We have needs. We need another banger down low that can score with Collison. We need some additional defense on the perimeter. We need more consistency from the center position. These needs can't be met with our current team. Therefore, it's time to thank them for the memories, root for their success, and send them off.

posted by Gavin @ 2:06 PM  0 comments

A decision that sorta might make sense...

Will the M's draft another shortstop? Another shortstop instead of Mike Morse, instead of Adam Jones, instead of that Betancourt kid, instead of Matt Tuiasosopo? I don't care if this guy Tulowitzki has a good work ethic or projects to a good shortstop. Our pitching depth has officially gone down the crapper. Pick up a top of the rotation starter. What do we have past Hernandez and Campillo? The answer shouldn't surprise you. I know the pitchers are Boras clients. We just signed Adrian Beltre. We can deal with Scotty B. If we draft the third baseman, like some of thought, I'm going to freak out. Let's be smart. We have holes in our farm system. Shortstop is not one of them. Bavasi, do the right thing.

posted by Gavin @ 1:57 PM  0 comments

NBA Mock Draft, Take One

Remember how I've been nice to Chad Ford that last couple of days? Well, today is not one of those days. Go through this mock draft and you'll figure out why. No Ike Diogu? NO IKE DIOGU??? No Ronny Turiaf? No Wayne Simien? For crying out loud. He has us taking a 7-1 center named Johan Petro... from FRANCE. Why not just surrender next year already? (Editor's Note: I do realize that Turiaf is from France originally. He has also played college ball for four years and I think the weakness has left) In today's NBA, it's not about how many centers you have. There's Shaq and then there's undersized seven footers who like to shoot threes. If Ike Diogu or Wayne Simien are still around at our spot, I am going to lynch anyone who doesn't pick them.

Other great moves from Ford include picks 18-23 all being foreign with one high schooler thrown in. I think there are a few smarter teams out there than that. Channing Frye goes to Golden St with the number nine pick. Say what? Look, I like Frye, but not that much. He is a freaking twig. Chris Taft goes to the Knicks at #8 with this blurb... The Knicks don't have a decent player on their roster over 6-9. Taft's height? 6-10. Yippee.

Read it and weep.

posted by Gavin @ 1:48 PM  1 comments

Joel Piniero

If you watched the game last night, you have to agree with the statement, "Who was that pitching on the mound? Not the Piniero of 2003." Piniero's delivery looked entirely out of whack, continually missing with his fastball.

Dave at USSMariner has an excellent post on this. I recommend reading it, and have to say that, if this is the Joel Piniero that will be in our rotation for the rest of the season, we have no chance of catching anyone in our division. None.

posted by colin_hesse @ 11:34 AM  0 comments

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Another Close Loss... Part II

And the Spurs keep on chugging, continuing a terrible sports week for the Crushed Optimists staff. Seriously, when the best news is a shutout by Aaron Sele, all one can do is sigh and shake one's head. Are the Suns done? No, I refuse to count them out. But they do have to win Game 3 in San Antonio, and Joe Johnson should be back by Game 4. Man, the Spurs just keep hitting big shot after big shot, especially Robert Horry and Manu (the evil one) Ginobli.

Well, what will be next this week? The Suns getting swept? A key injury for the Mariners? The Seahawks moving to Portland? Ouch.

You know what would cheer me up? A kicking article on Pat Borders. That makes the pain go away.

posted by colin_hesse @ 8:44 PM  0 comments

Another Close Loss

3-2 loss at Baltimore by the Mariners.

Quick thoughts:

- How many home-runs is Putz going to give up this month? Enough already!

- This point has been beaten into the ground, but still.... We are getting jack from the bottom third of our lineup. Jack.

- Was Piniero channeling Aaron Sele out on the mound?

- Piniero: You do not look good as a blonde.

- Guys: No more double plays, ok?

- Gotta blame this one on the hitters. You hold that potent O's lineup to 3 runs, with Bruce Chen on the mound, you gotta get it done.

posted by colin_hesse @ 7:39 PM  0 comments

The Hawks Respond to Gavin

Read one of the blurbs at the bottom of this article about the Seahawks maybe bringing in some backup safety. Here is what it says...

"The Seahawks hope to have free agent DE-LB Peter Boulware in Kirkland for a visit this week. The former Pro Bowler was released by Baltimore two weeks ago."

This should have been the freaking lead of the article. Why aren't more people excited about this? Release Bobby Taylor already and sign Boulware. This week should be the week when even the John Clayton nay-sayers are excited about our defense. Make it so.

posted by Gavin @ 4:24 PM  0 comments

"Nintendo" should be in the majors

Mariner fans read articles like this one about Felix Hernandez and ask a very legitimate question... exactly what "seasoning" does this kid still need? He has three quality pitches with variation. He throws all of them for strikes. He is dominating AAA ball. He responds from getting hit in the leg with his best performance of the year. His teammates call him "Nintendo" for how automatic the ball placement was. His movement is baffling hitters. All this, and we have to watch Moyer, Piniero, Franklin, Sele, Meche every day? Hello? Earth to Bavasi?

These articles also touch on how well Jose Lopez and Chris Snelling are doing. Can we just trade Bret Boone/Randy Winn and bring these kids up? At least Winn? People rave about his steadiness, but it's that steadiness that makes him MEDIOCRE. I hate writing this again. I will again when I finally take the time to write my quarter season report. He needs to be gone.

posted by Gavin @ 4:19 PM  0 comments

It's Good To Laugh Again, Part Two...

Today's wacked out story comes to us via Tennessee Titan wide receiver Tyrone Calico, who was caught doing the nasty with an eighteen year old lady in the back of his Cadillac Escalade in Nashville and now faces indecency charges. I'm laughing even as I write that. This is a pro football player who makes millions of dollars. Can't he afford a hotel close to where he's at that means he doesn't need to rustle around in the backseat in the downtown area of a major metropolitan city? Escalade's are anything but romantic, anyways. This guy is going to absolutely get it from his teammates, and I wish I can hear some of the barbs thrown in his direction.

posted by Gavin @ 4:16 PM  0 comments

24 - Season Four Finale

Back to the entertainment front for a minute:

If you have never seen the Kiefer Sutherland led show "24" on Fox (I know, it is Fox), I strongly encourage you to start as of next January when Season 5 begins, because this show is getting better and better. Season 4 was, in my opinion, the best yet, and the finale did not disappoint.

Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland):

1. Watched his best friend "die"
2. Figured out that the death was staged by a professional
3. Found a blood trail and followed it to where the professional was trying to escape
4. Outwitted the professional and saved his friend
5. Got an immunity deal from the President to find out where the ultimate bad guy (Marwan) was.
6. Stopped Marwan from escaping
7. Killed Marwan
8. Stopped a nuclear missile from destroying LA
9. Saved millions of lives
10. Was about to be handed over to the Chinese for illegally breaking into an embassy
11. Was put on a hit list by the President's head of security
12. Faked his own death
13. Headed off to Mexico with a new identity

I don't know what you usually do in 2 hours. This is my list...

Colin:
1. Got up
2. Went to the bathroom
3. Sat on the couch
4. Turned on my computer
5. Checked my email
6. Turned on the Food Network
7. Went to the bathroom again
8. Read "Sherman's Lagoon" while in the bathroom
9. Sat on the couch
10. Wrote this blog

Compare my list to Jack's list, and you can see where the excitement is. I have never experienced as well-written and well-done a show as 24 is. Sure, there are the requisite leaps of faith, such as where a lone fighter somehow shoots down Air Force One, but the characters are great and the plot carries you through the entire season. Rent the DVD's and see Palmer's look of resolve, Tony's plastered smirk (see it to believe it), and Chloe's insanity (how does a person like that get to work at a counter-terrorist organization?). My two cents, anyways.

posted by colin_hesse @ 11:45 AM  0 comments

Sonics Daily Dish

- Will Nate McMillan return? The Times is doubtful....

- Steve Kelley wishes for a perfect offseason where everyone returns....

- Ray Allen will resume talks soon...

- The PI overviews the offseason, especially looking at Sund and McMillan...

Basically, it is hard to see the method the Sonics will take this offseason. My heart remains optimistic, but my head worries more about the horrible lease at Key Arena and the knowledge that Sonics ownership lost over 17 million last season. That's terrible, and will play a part of this offseason. My guess where it will? We will be outbid for Nate McMillan and Antonio Daniels.

posted by colin_hesse @ 11:45 AM  0 comments

Monday, May 23, 2005

Sonics Postseason Predictions

Colin did a brief run through of all our free agents. Let's go into a bit more detail.

Management:
Rick Sund, GM: I'm not quite sure what to think of Mr. Sund. Did he get really lucky this year or is he that good a talent evaluator? Regardless, all of his interviews sound a lot like him sticking around. He did draft Nick Collison and Luke Ridnour against popular opinion (remember Reece Gaines?) and those two are a cornerstone of the future. Swift looks like he has a lot of talent and he plays hard. We'll see how that translates in the next year or two. He also picked up Antonio Daniels off the scrap heap. What he does this offseason will help define his credentials.
Nate McMillan, coach: I'm not quite sure what I think about Nate as well. The best thing I can say about Nate is that the Sonics mostly appeared prepared for games (whether that was also because of Duane Casey remains to be seen). Can we afford Nate? Probably not. I think he's going to sign with the Knicks and get fired within the first couple of years. Luckily we have the aforementioned Casey in the wings and I think he'll be solid.

Free Agent Players:
Ray Allen: 78 games, 39.3 minutes, 23.9 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 3.7 assists, 1.08 steals, 1.69 assists/to.
Those are some quality numbers Ray Allen threw up this year. Almost superstar numbers. Definitely numbers we do not want to lose. This is going to come down to money. There are whispers that we were within five million dollars of a deal during the season. There are few teams that can pay Ray more, and none that offer him the chance of winning it all that the Sonics do. Cleveland is the only possibility and they need a lot more than LeBron to be successful... they'll probably want Michael Redd first. Allen has publicly stated his intention of staying, and Ray isn't the stereotypical superstar. I believe him. Let's get it done. 70, 75 million is more than worth what he'll bring and won't break the bank in a Kobe way. First priority to resign.
Antonio Daniels: 75 games, 27.0 minutes, 11.2 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 4.1 assists, 3.96 assists/to
Our number two priority has to be Antonio Daniels, especially after his playoff performance. He is an underrated offensive player, takes a ton of abuse without complaining (well, not often). Doesn't flop like Ginobili. His jumper is flat as anything, his three point shot is downright ugly. However, he is pure glue, and the perfect counterpunch to Ridnour. We need this man. Unfortunately, I see him earning way more money elsewhere (like Derek Fisher and Rafer Alston). Fortunately, the point guard class in this draft is gigantic. I think most teams (like running backs in the NFL draft) will draft the talent instead of paying Daniels. I'm going out on a limb and saying we resign him. If not, we'll get a decent player in the second round (Jarret Jack).
Vladimer Radmanovic: 63 games, 29.5 minutes, 11.8 ppg, 4.6 rpg
If you've read this blog much, you'll know that I'm not a huge Vladimir Radmanovic fan. He finally started taking the ball to the darn basket this year, but was still a defensive liability and nothing on the boards (under five a game for a man his size). Radmanovic is still far too inconsistent as a player. I was hoping that he'd play himself into a huge contract elsewhere and we could give his minutes and money to someone else. However, with the injury there are going to be few teams investing in him. I look for him to reup with us on a two year deal and look for more money at that time. Remember, he is still pretty young. He can afford to wait.
Ronald Murray: 49 games, 18 minutes, 7.0 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 1.14 assist/to
That ratio says it all. We do not need this man back. His jumper needs a ton of work. He needs far too many shots to get into any kind of a groove. He takes it to the rim, but without the knowledge of Daniels. We can fill this roster slot with someone who also plays defense. Look for another team (Charlotte, New Orleans), to pick up Murray for the potential upside.
Mateen Cleeves: I agree with Colin. I don't care. He looked like a good guy to have on the bench. Gave us nothing. See ya.
Reggie Evans: 79 games, 23.8 minutes, 4.9 ppg, 9.3 rpg
I'm pretty darn torn on Evans. I love his aggressive play, his solid defense, the way he got into the heads of players like Brad Miller. However, he absolutely cannot finish after an offensive rebound and then misses at the free throw line. I think we can do better in the draft. Someone is going to overpay for those numbers. I like Ronny Turiaf or Ike Diogu as improved versions of what Evans gave us. I think he's gone.
Damien Wilkins
Wilkins' value isn't going to show up in season stats, so I'm not going to display them. He is the best defender we've had on the perimeter in forever (Colin said since Nate, and I would say Gary Payton in his prime). He can also hit the occasional three pointer and isn't afraid of taking it to the hole. He is raw but talented. Some of the defensive plays he made this season were highlight real stuff. I want him back after Daniels (third on my list). I think Nate and/or Casey will force Sund to give him a good offer. Wilkins is a restricted free agent so we can match any offer. I think we'll see what the market is, and match anything except the absurd.
Jerome James: 80 games, 16.6 minutes, 4.9 ppg, 3.0 rpg
These are stats over 80 games. Hopefully the Sonics don't fall for what happened against a lame Brad Miller in Sacramento. Jerome is not worth the money some team is going to shell out for him. Plus, he's starting to shoot his mouth off, which gets old pretty darn fast. It's time to see another team waste money on him, not us. We have Robert Swift for a reason. Still, if we can get him back for reasonable money, we should, just for that size he brings. I think he's gone.
Vitaly Potapenko
Our 12th man for much of the year was caught out of position for the final play in game six and let Tim Duncan lay it in. Potapenko should still be brought back at reduced cost to let Swift continue to grow. He'll give minutes, can execute the pick and roll, hit the long range jumper, and might even give more than 3.0 rebounds a game. We should give him a small contract and keep him around. We still play Shaq twice a year.

So Gavin's predictions for 2005 are as follows:
GM - Rick Sund
Coach - Duane Casey

Starting Lineup
PG - Luke Ridnour
SG - Ray Allen
F - Rashard Lewis
F - Nick Collison
C - Vitaly Potapenko

Bench
Antonio Daniels
Damien Wilkins
Vladimir Radmanovic
Robert Swift
Rookie Forward - Ike Diogu?
Danny Fortson
12th man

This is without the possibilities of trade or free agent signings. Fortson is a likely candidate to be traded (Kwame Brown?) while Stomile Swift is another option I know the Sonics like. As is, though, still a good club. Still have the ability to play three different kinds of offense, go big or small. I like that bench. The draft will be key.

posted by Gavin @ 2:48 PM  0 comments

Short and Sweet: Seahawks Take Note

Peter Boulware is still on the market. Peter Boulware is still on the market. Peter Boulware is still on the market. He knows he has to take less money. He is the Baltimore Ravens all time sacks leader. We have no pass rush. Jamie Sharper can play inside linebacker. I don't care who we have to cut. Sign Peter Boulware.

Now.

posted by Gavin @ 2:12 PM  0 comments

NBA Draft Needs

The NBA Draft is laughable, unless teams actually draft talent over hype. Anyways, check out Chad Ford's latest predictions. He has the Sonics replacing Jerome James and Vitaly Potapenko with Channing Frye, Ronny Turiaf, Charlie Villanueva, Wayne Simien or Ike Diogu. Out of these I would choose (in no particular order), Villanueva, Simien, or Diogu. Frye is too small and Turiaf has to show me a lot more. Diogu especially would give us the rebounding and defense of Reggie Evans with some actual scoring to boot. Nice. Diogu and Collison together would be pretty darn imposing. I'll go more into what I want us to do closer to the draft (i.e. hopefully when some of the free agent mess has been addressed).

posted by Gavin @ 2:09 PM  0 comments

It's good to laugh again...

Two stories to help you get over the post-Sonics blues.

The first involves everyone's favorite football playing hippie, Ricky Williams, whose agent gives a 99 percent chance of reporting to Dolphins camp next season. Hopefully he brings along travel pictures of his trips to India and Australia, just so that he can distract Zach Thomas from ripping out his small intestine or hiding the beer bong. Is there a member of the Dolphins who wants Ricky back? Is there an NFL team that wants Ricky Williams? Didn't they just pick Ronnie Brown in the NFL draft? I don't see a win-win scenario here for anyone but Ricky. He gets to keep all those millions, sit out his suspension, and then retire again. Congratulations.

The second story comes via the Chicago Cubs, who have asked Carlos Zambrano to cut down on the time he spends on the computer emailing his brother, because of the elbow problems that are cropping up. This, coming from the team and manager who consistently have him throw 120+ pitches a game. All this, and it's computers that are evil? I'd love to see the stats on that particular injury. At some point Cubs management is going to see that every good pitcher they have gets injured, and every good pitcher they have is overworked... there might be a connection there... I will give the Cubs some credit, though. Anything to rid the world of IM is good for me.

posted by Gavin @ 2:01 PM  0 comments

Series Preview: Miami Heat vs Detroit Pistons

Miami Heat (59-23): #1 seed
Detroit Pistons (54-28): #2 seed
Head to Head matchup: Detroit 2-1 (Both won at other's home court, Detroit's second win was against a Shaq-less Heat)

5 Prominent Questions:

1. What will Shaquille O'Neal be able to bring? This is going to be an absolutely huge key to this series. These are the two best teams in the East, and the gap between them and the rest was obvious during their successive romps (although Indiana gave Detroit some issues). Regardless, Miami is not going to sweep, and to have a decent shot at success they must have the Diesel running at close to full strength. Detroit will eat Alonzo Mourning alive.

2. Whose bench will rise to the occasion? Neither team has a ton of admirable depth. Perhaps I'm spoiled by the Sonics' absurd amount of subs, but beyond Antonio McDyess the Pistons have gotten zero. The Heat have 'Zo and Christian Laettner. Yippee. This could make a huge difference, especially in a road game.

3. Can Detroit stop Dwayne Wade? The kid is looking freaking unbelievable this postseason. Again, he has been up against two teams that play a brand of defense also known as "Sacramento quality". Tayshaun Prince and Lindsay Hunter will have the assignment, and I give Prince especially a good chance.

4. Can Rasheed Wallace quit throwing up six threes and actually post up? He's looking close to what he was the last two years in Portland. An amazingly talented post player who refuses to post. Detroit has to have his inside game, because they can't depend on Ben Wallace to give them 20 points a night (what was that?). He also takes himself out of the rebounding picture, which helped make Jeff Foster a household name.

5. Can Eddie Jones and Damon Jones hit enough threes to keep Miami running? They have both been on fire from downtown this postseason, and especially with the game on the line. They are the unsung heroes of the early success and the Heat need that deep game to allow Dwayne to run all the way to the basket.

Most important stat: This is a tough one. I'm going to go with offensive rebounding. Neither team shoots amazingly well and both have depended on hitting the glass. Ben Wallace against Shaq/Haslem.

Most important player: Shaquille O'Neal, of course, the other MVP. I believe that Detroit and Tayshaun can slow down Dwayne Wade. They did it to this Kobe guy last year. Therefore, the Heat desperately need Shaq. If they have him, they win.

Fearless Prediction: I gotta go with Detroit. I just love the way they're playing this postseason against better opponents. They will stop Wade and I don't think Shaq will be Shaq. Detroit in six.

posted by Gavin @ 12:45 PM  0 comments

Enough on Pat Borders!

Sure, it might have been a slow Seattle sports day, but it is inexcusable to write not one, but two glowing, fawning articles on new Seattle catcher Pat Borders, written by John Levesque and Steve Kelley, respectively. I'm not even going to link to these stories. What on earth would inspire writers to burp up on themselves over a 42 year old catcher?

Of course, the really sad part will be if Borders outplays Olivo. Here's hoping I never have to read an article about that.

posted by colin_hesse @ 11:45 AM  0 comments

Sunday, May 22, 2005

AL West Quarter in Review

We are now a little over a quarter of the way through the MLB season, with more posts to follow. This one will concentrate on that wacky AL West division, where several predictions have been deemed true, while several have, well, not.

Standings:
LA Angels (25-18)

What went right:
- Bartolo Colon (5-3, 2.67 ERA) has been durable and the solid ace of the staff.
- The rest of the rotation has been pretty solid, including Kelvim Escobar (1-2, 3.91 ERA), Jarrod Washburn (3-2, 3.54 ERA), and even John Lackey (4-2, 4.05 ERA).
- The bullpen, as expected, has been special. K-Rod (10 of 11 save opportunities, 2.25 ERA) and Scot Shields (5 of 6 save opportunities, 1.09 ERA) have been standouts
- Vladimer Guerrero is, and always will be, the man, even though his recent injury is an onion in the ointment. (.303 BA, 7 HR, 24 RBI) Garret Anderson has been consistent as well. (.303 BA, 4 HR, 32 RBI)

What went wrong:
- The hitters have not taken over like I expected, especially the newcomers. Steve Finley (.210 BA) and Orlando Cabrera (.229 BA) are no David Eckstein or Jose Guillen.
- The kids aren't hitting. Dallas McPherson is off to a terrible start (.215 BA, 1 HR, 3 RBI) and Robb Quinlan is even worse. (.167 BA, 1 HR, 2 RBI)
- That name is still horrible. Please, just be the Anaheim Angels, ok?
- The injury to Vlad hurts, and several players (Jeff DaVanon especially) will have to step up in the meantime.

Texas Rangers (24-20) 1.5

What went right:
- Kenny Rogers (5-2, 1.73 ERA) has been the best pitcher in the division so far. What?
- Chan Ho Park (3-1, 5.32 ERA) has been better than expected.
- Their hitting has been dominant, especially the torrid numbers put up by David Delucci (.482 OBP!!) and how about Kevin Mench (.298 BA, 7 HR, 19 RBI)? Heck, even Sandy Alomar Jr. is hitting above .300 right now!
- Their bullpen has had bright moments. Cordero has converted 13 of 15 save opportunities.

What went wrong:
- Absolutely nothing from the hitting perspective. The only person experiencing a bit of a down year is Michael Young (.266 BA, 5 HR, 24 RBI). Looks like Gavin was right (darn it) when he predicted the Rangers to have the best offense and I countered with the Angels.
- Opening Day starter Ryan Drese has fallen down to earth (3-4, 6.37 ERA)
- The bullpen has had poor moments, especially Carlos Almanzar (ERA over 14) and everyday man Doug Brocail (ERA over 4, which is not good for your best set-up man).
- Pedro Astacio, after starting out strong against the M's, now has an ERA over 6, with a 1-5 record.

Seattle Mariners (18-25) 7

What went right:
- Eddie Guardado has pitched strong (11 of 12 save opportunites, 2.12 ERA)
- The bullpen, until recently, has been remarkably consistent, especially Hasegawa and Mateo.
- Richie Sexson has provided some needed pop (12 HR, 34 RBI) in the lineup
- Ichiro is Ichiro (.331 BA, 57 hits)
- The defense is much, much better after an early slump
- We remain only 7 games back of first

What went wrong:
- The injury to Madritsch was devastating, even though Franklin (4.53 ERA) has been decent.
- Our starting pitching, discounting Sele's start today, has generally been atrocious
- Our "top two" pitchers? Joel Piniero (2-3, 6.52 ERA) and Jamie Moyer (4-1, 6.11 ERA)
- Tough start for Adrian Beltre (.238 BA), and Miguel Olivo (.150 BA)
- Our bench is pathetic
- There's more, but you know the rest

Oakland Athletics (17-26) 8

What went right:
- They have a few hitters. Take Mark Kotsay (.284 BA) and Bobby Kielty (..314 BA)
- Huston Street (20 games, 1.93 ERA) is going to be a keeper for a long time
- Rich Harden (2-3, 2.80 ERA) has been special
- The bullpen has been decent, though Dotel has 4 blown saves already. Duscherer (1.33 ERA) has been solid.

What went wrong:
- Young pitching + no hitting = disaster. Early good starts by Joe Blanton and Dan Haren have turned into these numbers. Blanton (0-4, 5.15 ERA) and Haren (1-6, 5.19 ERA). That's no Hudson and Mulder.
- Barry Zito has yet to regain his Cy Young form. (1-4, 5.53 ERA)
- The hitting has just been terrible, as Gavin and I predicted. Here's the rundown of the big boys. Jason Kendall (.220, 0, 15). Eric Chavez (.212, 4, 15). Erubiel Durazo (.250, 4, 16). Scott Hatteberg (.288, 2, 16). Nick Swisher (.218, 3, 8). Wow. Almost makes me appreciate the M's offense.

What should we expect in the next quarter?

- Anaheim might slide a little, but I expect them to remain on top due to their strong starting rotation and excellent bullpen.
- Texas, if they remain hot offensively, should remain at this general pace for the rest of the season.
- Seattle needs better starting pitching to make any kind of a run.
- Oakland needs better everything. It's falling apart down there.

Personally, I would be surprised if, at the halfway point, there is any significant changes in the AL West standings. Texas might take the lead for a few days, but Anaheim's pitching is too good.

That's my two cents! Take it for what it's worth!

posted by colin_hesse @ 11:52 PM  0 comments

Shutout for Sele?

Listen, Gavin and I write about a lot of stuff on this site, and there have been plenty of posts where one of us have declared, "Get rid of Aaron Sele!" We both still believe that, but we also believe in fair treatment, and Aaron Sele definitely deserves a big, "Way to go!" for the gem he threw today. A complete game shutout. Wow. I did NOT think that Sele had that in him, but he pitched well. Got ahead of the hitters, hit his spots, kept the Padres off balance, and was in control of the game from start to finish. This was not a luck win, Sele even got the Padres to keep the ball on the ground. Now, Mariners management, don't get too convinced that Sele has it all figured out, please keep the leash short. But, Aaron Sele, good job!

Next up: Baltimore (ugh)

Good news: 5-4 homestand, first winning homestand since July of last year, and this was against the Red Sox, the Yankees, and the NL West leading Padres. Nice work, M's!

posted by colin_hesse @ 6:53 PM  0 comments

Game 1 Thoughts

San Antonio takes Game 1 from Phoenix. A few thoughts on the game...

1. Who gave Brent Barry the "unsuck" juice? Seriously, the guy won the game for the Spurs. Those two deep threes in the fourth quarter were pretty reminiscent of what he used to do for the Sonics. I could hear Kevin Calabro in my head go, "Brent Barry with the shocker!"

2. Speaking of Calabro, he was on the radio broadcasting the game for ESPN. We are sure lucky in Seattle to have the quality of broadcasters that we do.

3. San Antonio managed to outscore Phoenix. That's what these games come down to. Phoenix is going to score 110+ per game. San Antonio has to score more. They have.

4. Tim Duncan's ankle injury isn't as serious as previously thought. 50 percent shooting, 15 rebounds... I'd say he's going to be okay.

5. Manu Ginobili didn't hit the floor enough. Phoenix has to put a couple of flagrants on him, just because I hate him.

6. Shawn Marion did nothing against Bruce Bowen. Perhaps this makes us appreciate just what Ray Allen did for us. Marion was the glue for the Suns this season, the best overall player. They absolutely need him.

7. The refs decided that the Spurs should win this one as well. There should be a metric on how many questionable calls go in the favor of one team or another. San Antonio gets just about every call in their favor, even though they whine constantly.

8. Phoenix just has to be more consistent. They didn't play great offense and still scored 114. Look for them to respond well and take Game 2.

posted by Gavin @ 3:08 PM  0 comments

Most Annoying Commericials, Part Two

I've been watching a ton of basketball lately, and a few commercials are bugging the living daylights out of me.

1. "Pound One". Why the heck would hot chicks be all excited about Double Quarter Pounders "With Cheese". These must be completely different types of women than I've known, and the bodies they have are probably not created through consistent trips to McDonalds. Not to mention that this commercial was overdone during the NCAA tournament and then brought back now.

2. Into the West and The Closer previews on TNT. They looked like terrible shows the first preview and by the 150th preview looked like the next coming of the Apocalypse.

3. Anything with Jared from Subway. Why is Subway taking on McDonalds in its commercials? Isn't Quiznos beating the living tar out of them? I've never had this trian of thoughts... "I really feel like a Big Mac, but Subway IS doubling their menu. Maybe I should do Subway." Also, Subway's "toasted subs" are actually Subway's "toaster oven burned" subs which taste like crap.

4. Aflac commercial with the brain transplant. Frankly, everything with that duck has gotten pretty freaking old. The brain transplant one takes it one too far. Just put Clyde to rest. He's gotten more play than the Taco Bell dog, and the dog was far funnier.

5. Those wierd new Nike commercials that look like abstract art. I'm supposed to buy shoes because two poorly drawn figures stare at one another for a while? I can't even describe how odd these ones are. Who signed off on those? Didn't they sign athletes to million dollar endorsement deals for a reason?

posted by Gavin @ 2:48 PM  0 comments

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Series Preview: Phoenix Suns vs. the Evil San Antonio Spurs

Phoenix Suns (62-20): #1 seed
San Antonio Spurs (59-23): #2 seed
Head to Head matchup: San Antonio 2-1 (Phoenix's one win came when the Spurs were without Tim Duncan)

5 Prominent Questions:

1. What kind of defense will the Suns bring to the table? As always, any series with the Suns comes down to this question. You know the Spurs will bring it defensively, but the Suns will have to find a way to stop Tony Parker and (evil) Ginobli from darting to the rim every 30 seconds. Marion and Stoudamire can handle Duncan and Mohammed, but the guard play will be crucial.

2. Will Joe Johnson play? The little secret of the Phoenix Suns is how important Joe Johnson was to their play on both ends of the court. The Suns could always count on him for a clutch shot, he was Steve Nash's backup, and he was one of the better one-on-one defenders the Suns had. Of course, if he does come back, it might be at 60%, which is why Jim Jackson still might start.

3. How many flops will Ginobli have in this series? Will the air buffet him continually about the head and forearms? Will he continually have that grimace/smirk on his face? Will the refs continue to buy his acting (which, by the way, rivals that of Ben Affleck for believability and depth)? I used to like this team, but that is in the past as of the last series.

4. Will the Suns be able to run? I saw the first game between these two teams, where the Suns lost by a huge margin. It was the first game all season that I had seen the Suns be forced out of their game while the Spurs manhandled them on both ends of the court. The Suns are more ready for them now, and should be able to adapt to what the Spurs throw at them. This is where Mike D'Antoni will earn that Coach of the Year award, which should have been given to Nate McMillan.

5. How many times will Tim Legler talk about his undying love for the Spurs? Will he make kissy-faces at the screen while talking? Will Greg Anthony hold off on staring at him in utter disbelief?

Most important stat: As always for the Suns, the amount of points scored. If the game is won in the 90s, the Spurs will win. If the game is won in the 100s, the Suns will probably win. It's that simple, but it decides the battle of wills between these two teams.

Most important player: Steve Nash, hands down. It will be up to him to lead Phoenix's offense against the tight defense imposed by the Spurs. However, I predict that he will be more than up to the task, though it is more than likely that Phoenix will be blown out in one, if not two, games.

Fearless Prediction: I could not go to sleep at night if I picked the Spurs in this series. Suns in 7.

posted by colin_hesse @ 8:16 PM  0 comments

Quarter Pole of MLB Season

I'm still enjoying this season overall, even with the terrible play of the Mariners, who now stand at 16-25, 8 games back of the Angels. Can you believe that? Only 8 games back? We were 8 games back after 2 weeks last season, and our record is pretty similar to last year. It goes to show that Gavin and I were right in one respect. The AL West was, and is, up for grabs, more so with the impending stint on the DL for Vladimer Guerrero. The A's can't hit, the Rangers can't consistently pitch, and the Angels can't consistently do either. Of course, the M's just stink. But... if we can just find a way to turn it around (hint: Aaron Sele is not the answer), we might have a few more interesting months to go at the very least. The "what if" question of the day - how many more games would Bobby Madritsch have meant to us at this point? 2? Maybe 3?

Memo to Beltre and Sexson: do something cool. Start doing that consistently. Beltre - stop swinging at breaking balls low and outside. Sexson - stop swinging and missing at everything.

posted by colin_hesse @ 12:39 PM  0 comments

Sonics Update

A lot of decisions await the Sonics, and it looks like Howard Schultz is ready to go.

Management without a contract:
Rick Sund, GM (expected to resign)
Nate McMillan, coach (will be wooed by NY Knicks, Cleveland, and Minnesota)

Free Agent Players:
Ray Allen (expressed desire to resign after game, Cleveland and Charlotte possibilities)
Antonio Daniels (will test market, command big money)
Vladimer Radmanovic (injuries will drag down value, expected to resign for short contract, work for big contract later)
Danny Fortson (will not exercise option, stay a Sonic)
Ronald Murray (please do not resign him)
Mateen Cleeves (does anyone care?)
Reggie Evans (might get more money from another team, has improved every year)
Damien Wilkins (best defender in a Sonic uniform since.... Nate McMillan, we must resign him)
Jerome James (will get several offers, doubtful we will match them)
Vitaly Potapenko (flashes of desire, but mostly another 7 foot stiff)

Remaining Players:
Rashard Lewis (will he remain an All-Star without Ray Allen?)
Luke Ridnour (took huge steps forward, should remain a staple in the Sonics lineup)
Nick Collison (also took huge steps, should fit into the starting lineup next year)
The indomitable Robert Swift (young, played, like, 5 minutes all year)
Ibrihim Kutluay (Turkish guard never able to show stuff in the big show)
(Danny Fortson)

posted by colin_hesse @ 12:26 PM  0 comments

Friday, May 20, 2005

And so it begins...

The exodus, that is. Reports are now saying that the Knicks have a strong interest in McMillan. Why he would want to go there with the knuckleheads they have is beyond me, however. Personally, the Cavs seem to be the frontrunner.

posted by colin_hesse @ 2:01 PM  0 comments

Thank you, Bill Simmons

Thank you for realizing, as I did, how much Manu Ginobli sucks. He even used the same example that Gavin and I did; that of the World Cup player who flopped all over the place, and then objected when he was actually hit. Gosh, I just hate (strong word, sorry) that guy right now, and that is why I will be cheering against the Spurs for the remainder of Ginobli's and Bowen's respective careers.

Best storyline: The Seattle crowd reclaimed its rightful place at the top of the league. Sure, Arco is great, but I remember the crowds of the 90s, raucous and loud. You just knew that the Sonics would get more energy, and there really was such a thing as home-court advantage.

I will have more to say on this later, just coping from the loss.

Writer run-down:
Steve Kelley
Art Thiel
John Levesque (I wouldn't recommend it)

posted by colin_hesse @ 1:44 PM  0 comments

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Sonics vs Spurs, Game 6

I am the most optimistic about this game as I have been for any game this series. I just think that we are ready to take this back to San Antonio. Not so confident about that game, however.

1st Quarter: Sonics 25, Spurs 20
A nice start for the Sonics, aggressive, going into the paint. The Spurs, on the other hand, have yet to get to the free-throw line at the 5 minute mark. Kudos to Daniels and Allen for leading the charge. Excellent defense by Jerome James (what?). We are really closing out on the San Antonio drivers, and Parker and Ginobli have not been able to go off. Yet. Still a lot of game to go. At this point in the series, one has to think about the what if.... What if a healthy Rashard Lewis or Vladimer Radmanovic were able to go in this series? Would we be playing for the series right now? Very possible, as that Game 5 might have been able to be tilted our way. Wow. They just did our series in a Star Wars theme. Terrific. Quick two fouls on Collison, one good, one a poor decision by Collison. Make that three fouls on Collison. Ouch. Daniels is still able to take it to the rack, though, and draws another foul on Horry. The Spurs are going on a run to close out this quarter, we must nip this in the bud. Beautiful set-up by Daniels to let up the dunk by Evans. Then Ginobli flops, doesn't get the call for one, and we end up by 5. We need to continue slashing into the paint, while keeping the Spurs out of the paint. We are containing the Spurs' big guns well right now, and that has to continue.

2nd Quarter (Gavin): Sonics 47, Spurs 52
This quarter has started out great. I love our offense. Isolate a guard and take it to the bucket. The Spurs are doing the worst job I've seen this series in keeping us out of the paint. Ray Allen and Antonio Daniels are hitting layin after layin. On the defensive end, a few cheap calls already (like the most recent anticipation foul on Daniels), but the aggressiveness is there and Ginobili isn't going to the rim every time. The Spurs have only really gotten a cheap three from Udrih. They can't depend on that. We're shooting 70 percent, but it's all from within two feet. We've only taken one three and missed it. The Spurs are two of three (why are they shooting so darn well from outside?). Jerome James just picked up the second on Tim Duncan on an excellent spin move. Great pass into him. What the heck was James then doing jumping out on Duncan at the other end? Let Duncan shoot the 18 foot jumper, for crying out loud. The Spurs have yet to miss from the line... and yet another awful call on the defensive end. These officials have to let some contact go. The Spurs are making their first run. As long as we maintain the lead we'll be okay. I mean, they're shooting almost 50 percent themselves. James is playing passive defense again and follows it up with a passive fadeaway. Duncan is on the bench. Time to make a bit of a run. We have hit a bit of a drought. What an awful no-call on Allen's drive, and then they call a pushing foul on Jerome. The refs definitely would like to not have a Game 7. The refs allow the Spurs to have their first lead at the 4:30 mark. We just can't hit a shot! Now yet another terrible call gives the Spurs a six point lead. We're playing really well, yet find ourselves behind, it's frustrating. 2 minutes scores: Sonics 4, Spurs 5 . Back to back turnovers help us out with the Spurs shooting lights out this quarter. Ridnour can't buy himself a bucket. The refs didn't let Ginobili flop again, maybe they have been watching this series. Terrible final play. Nice work, Ray.

1st Half MVP: Don't really know who to give this to, since I didn't watch much of the first quarter and no one stepped up in the second. I suppose Ray Allen has taken it to the hole, but he's missed a lot of quick pull-ups this quarter.

Key Stat: Robert Horry's line, 11 points, 5 rebounds. That's the difference.

3rd Quarter: Sonics 73, Spurs 72
Big thanks to Gavin for taking over while I watched Kendra (very deserving) win the Apprentice and the terrific prize of working for Donald Trump. A blog will probably be written on this, so I'll go back to writing about basketball. Nice start by Ridnour getting a quick 2. Hey, a foul on Ginobli! The time: 9:11PM. Write it down. Wow, great luck shot by Daniels to close it to 1. And then Ginobli turns it over again, making my day. Wow, no foul called? OK, technical foul on Daniels. Sometimes I just don't understand what the refs have against us this series. Does anyone understand this? I am underwhelmed at the Sonics play to start out this quarter, though Duncan still has no field goals. Alright, finally another field goal by Daniels. Down by 2. Man, we have to keep Mohammed off the offensive glass. And another technical foul, this one on McMillan, because of the crappy officiating. I think that we are finally getting sick and tired of this happening to us game after game after game this series. Dang it, Ginobli another three, and we're down by 8. This is making me sick. Well, we cut the deficit in half pretty quickly, which is nice. Big bucket by Parker. Hey, Ridnour went it there hard. Good job! Bad foul on Collison, but that one I blame on us allowing the offensive rebound. And we're back to an 8 point deficit. OK, James and Ridnour close it back to 3, and the Spurs call a timeout. We're still in this one, still in it. Stupid moving screen by James. That was a foul, no doubt about it. Huge 3 to tie it by Ray Allen, his first field goal of the quarter. Dang it, Wilkins, missing both free throws with a chance to take the lead. GREAT PLAY BY FORTSON wrestling the ball away from Tony Parker and getting the three-point play. An 11-0 run by Seattle. Two crap plays by Wilkins and Collison on back to back fast-break opportunities leads to a flagrant foul by Fortson on Duncan. Another big 3 by Allen followed by a good play by Udrih to cut the Seattle lead to 2. And a bail-out call on Ginobli to send him to the line. Man, have I seen a ton of those this series. And Ginobli misses the 2nd, Fortson is shoved out of bounds, and the refs give the ball to SA. Incredible. At least they miss the last shot. We're up by 1 going into the 4th!

4th Quarter: Spurs 98, Sonics 96
Yep. You guessed it. We start with an offensive foul on Fortson. Our offense is starting sluggish, bad sign. Hey, Fortson just leveled Ginobli. Gotta love that. Any time that Ginobli actually falls down because of a person is great. Meanwhile, Wilkins draws the foul and retakes the lead. Good shot by Brent Barry, Spurs by 1. Still sluggish on offense. Down by 1 at the 8:59 mark. Playing well on defense, not moving the ball well on offense. What a stat. Ray Allen has scored 4 total points in the 4th quarter THIS SERIES!!! What the... Great look in to Collison for the dunk. Is Duncan injured? He's holding his foot. True, I like Seattle fans, but don't cheer the injury. Duncan gets up and makes both free-throws, so he can't be too bad off. Wow, what a 3 by Ray Allen. Duncan ties it at 80. 7 minutes to go. 3 by Barry to put them up by 1. 5:48 left. Barry has fouled out, but we are still down by 1, Spurs ball, TV timeout. Our offense needs to wake up, because we are letting the Spurs push us around instead of driving to the hole. Daniels might need to take over for a few possessions. Blah. Another bail-out call given to Ginobli. SA up by 2. Ridnour ties it. Wow. Great shot by Duncan, with the foul. I can't believe Duncan is 14-15 from the line. Allen rushes a 3, ball back to the Spurs. Parker puts the Spurs up by 4. Nice feed from Ridnour to Collison, down by 2. Wilkins for 3!!! YES!!! Up by 1!! Parker travels, ball back to Seattle! Man, it is SO LOUD IN SEATTLE!!! Parker hits the shot, Spurs up by 1. 2:19 left. Another bad move by Ray Allen turns the ball over with 2 minutes to go. Spurs still up by 1. I haven't liked our offense all fricking quarter. We can't go out this way, guys! Step it up offensively! Shoot, down by 4 with 1:22 left. Our ball, however. Oh well, Daniels missed the 1st, but made the 2nd to tie it. Spurs have the ball, 14 seconds left. And we lose by 2. Ultimate bummer.

Sonics, thanks for a wonderful, and extremely unexpected, ride. What I will say now is.... Go Phoenix!

posted by colin_hesse @ 10:30 PM  0 comments

NBA Labor War Follow-Up

Here is the latest in the coming implosion of the NBA in the face of a league on the rise. This would be an incredibly stupid move.

Chad Ford has a couple of articles. The first details what went down yesterday, with the league calling off negotiations after the players association reneged on several compromises. There are a pair of asinine moves here by union head Billy Hunter. The first is having a meeting with player agents and then changing his stance on issues. That will in no way help him with the PR war. The second, and far worse, is his talk of racism.

"This was the same approach used by the league seven years ago," Hunter told ESPN. "At that time, the word was that [agents] David Falk and Arn Tellum and others were actually orchestrating and managing the negotiations. I thought it was repugnant and offensive at that time, and I think it's even more so now – the fact the inference is that me, as a black man, cannot operate an institution such as the union without having some white man oversee and legitimate whatever it is I'm supposed to be doing."

What on earth is Hunter thinking? For starters, many of the prominent agents are black, like the Goodwin brothers. Secondly, the reason fans don't like agents involved is because they don't trust agents, not because they could be white. Now Hunter has successfully ratched up the intensity and gained ABSOLUTELY NOTHING in the process. What a dope.

Ford has a few reader comments in this blog that indicate my analysis is correct. Read and weep for the coming demise of NBA basketball in 2005.

posted by Gavin @ 2:50 PM  0 comments

How to say one sentence in 1000 words...

This latest article by Derek Zumsteg of ussmariner takes a lot of words to come to two simple conclusions.

1. our starting pitching is mediocre
2. Aaron Sele is expendable

There, now you don't have to read all those stats! Wasn't that easy?

Please bring up Campillo into the rotation. Please bring up Hernandez into the rotation...

posted by Gavin @ 2:48 PM  0 comments

The End Of An Era

No, I'm not talking about Star Wars, which ended 20 years ago. The recent installments are an entirely new series, as I refuse to link the two series together. Instead, the era I'm talking about is Star Trek, which is ending with the cancellation of "Enterprise". That noise you hear is the sound of millions of people not caring.

Why is that? How did a franchise that was so popular drift off while other sci-fi shows involving a teenager who slays vampires rise in viewership?

I admit, I used to be a Trekkie. I watched reruns of the original Star Trek while growing up, and moved on to The Next Generation as well. However, once Deep Space Nine came out, my fan-ship began to waver. After a few years watching dull shows on a dull spacestation, I stopped watching. The day Star Trek died for me, however, was during the second season of Voyager. In the episode, Q (a God-like creature from TNG) was brought in to boost fan interest. There was a second Q-like creature that sought asylum on Voyager so that he could commit suicide. Q wanted Voyager to turn the creature over so that he wouldn't commit suicide. He offered Captain Janeway a deal involving taking Voyager back to Earth instantly if they gave over the other Q. Janeway refused. Q left. The other Q creature, at the end of the episode, committed suicide. And I was left staring at the screen with my jaw hanging open.

A few other reasons why the franchise died:

1. Captains went downhill. Face it, the captains made the show, from William Shatner's interesting stilted dialogue to Patrick Stewart's infusing of Shakespeare and culture. Sisko had his moments, but Janeway was a failure, and Scott Bakula should not have been brought into a Star Trek series.

Gavin: This reason cannot be understated. Kirk and Picard are icons, classic deep characters that kept growing on you with every episode. I don't think there is another sci-fi series with better captains than the first two. Personally, I like Kirk best, but I have hair (unlike Colin).

2. No more cool aliens. The Borg made TNG. The Klingons made the original Star Trek. DS9 had Odo's shape-changing species, but shape-changing has been done forever, while Voyager and Enterprise had little to nothing in this area.

Gavin: Whoever came up with the Borg deserves to be showered with wealth. At that point TNG was decent, not great. A few too many psychic energy beings that dealt with Deanna Troi, not enough gun battles. The Borg simply rocked the pants off of any quality fan. Watching Picard turn around after being taken was one of the greatest moments in Star Trek history, and I still remember how excited we all were when the movie came out with the Borg in it (and they didn't even screw it up!). Colin doesn't mention it, but when Voyager brought the Borg in as well, they messed it up too. Q was an amazing alien, TNG and the original also had more out of the Romulans. No one can forget the green skinned Orion chicks for Kirk. These were aliens that made indelible impressions. Voyager could only steal repeats.

3. The cutting-edge nature changed. Star Trek broke racial barriers, attacked stereotypes, and spoke about a current issue in most every episode. TNG continued this with the Borg and the character Data speaking about human nature. With DS9, the franchise changed to a general sci-fi series, with nothing to make it stand out from any other show.

Gavin: I do want to give DS9 some props for eventually figuring out that a show about a space station is boring. Then they watched Babylon Five for a while and decided to completely rip them off and start a galactic war, which was at least entertaining, because Ben Sisko was easily the most bad-ass captain of them all. I think he could even take Kirk in a brawl. Props also go to Voyager for that doctor guy who was the only entertaining and memorable character (kind of the Data human nature guy).

4. No Spock. In my opinion, Spock is the single coolest Star Trek character of all time. "The needs of the many outweight the needs of the one." "Live long and prosper." etc., etc. TNG made up for this with Data, a logical android who also wanted to embrace his humanity. There were no secondary characters in later shows that could carry an episode on their back.

Gavin: I still like Kirk more than Spock... Colin and I have gone back and forth on this a ton. To me, the importance of the first two was the meld of the casts. DS9, Voyager, and Enterprise had nothing for casts other than ripoffs of the first two (some have called out Enterprise for having women in tighter clothing. Those complaining obviously haven't watched the original series for a while... yowza). I loved the interplay of Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Scotty, Sulu, Uhura, and Chekov. There was a reason the movies were so successful... the emsemble was so brilliant. Everyone could have a favorite character. TNG did an excellent job of following this up, with Picard, Riker (most underrated character in the series), Data, Dr. Crusher (loved the romantic interplay with Picard, very understated tension, well done), Worf, and Troi. This is it for me. To have a successful scifi series you have to have multiple characters to build great episodes around. The first two had it, the rest didn't. I've basically considered the series over since the last movie. Still, there will never be another.

And so the franchise is over. Sure, there might be a few more movies in the works, but even those are not the same. Hopefully another sci-fi series steps in to pick up the genre, but I am not all that opimistic. Still, I thank Star Trek for helping one nerd to have some good times through high school. Mr. Sulu..... warp 5.

posted by colin_hesse @ 10:58 AM  0 comments

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Game 6 Keys (Now With Colin!)

Time to forget about Game 5 and focus on the must-win situation of Game 6. The Sonics have played well the past three games and should look to build on that success tomorrow.

Gavin's Keys to the Game

1. Prevent Dribble Penetration. For some absurd reason, Nate McMillan didn't have Damien Wilkins on Ginobili until the fourth quarter. The only reason I can think of is that Nate was afraid of Wilkins in the away environment. In the meantime, Ginobili made Antonio Daniels look as bad as Tony Parker made Luke Ridnour look in games one and two. Ginobili needs to continually be fouled, but we far too often let him make the shot as well. Parker has been knocked down enough. He looks timid and intimidated. Let's make sure that continues.

2. Who is Nazr Mohammed? Why is this stiff scoring 20 points on us? Why, because we are doubleteaming Duncan far too quickly. When Duncan gets the ball, he rarely gets it into layin position and normally takes a difficult hook shot or runner. Only bring out the double team if he heads for the lane. Keep a body on Mohammed and avoid the easy points we gave up in game 5.

3. Ray Allen, prove you are worth this money. Ray Allen has yet to have a consistent game in this series. In game one, he was injured. Game two, he was slowed. Game 3, he was okay-not great. Game 4 was Luke Ridnour sparking us. Game 5 was mainly Antonio Daniels (Ray in the second quarter). Being tired is not an option. Get to the hoop, make free throws (what was up with that?), and hit more than one three a game.

4. Hit some threes. We have better shooters than we are showing. Luke Ridnour can hit the three. Antonio Daniels can hit the three, albeit ugly as sin. Damien Wilkins can hit the three. We need quick points.

5. Do not play Ronald "Flip" Murray. He was AWFUL in game five. He singlehandedly accounted for half of the offensive rebounds we gave up in the first half. He gave us nothing. Please do not have him as a large part of our offense.

Colin
1. I will be more specific than Gavin - Put Damien Wilkins on Manu Ginobli early and often. We are handling Tim Duncan, and we are more than handling Tony Parker. We need to shut down Ginobli now. Wilkins is the one Sonic that can possibly handle this guard, who, by the way, I can not stand. I used to cheer for the Spurs, but no more. Not until Ginobli does not play there anymore.

2. Limit the offensive glass. This has been a key throughout the series. When we are going on runs, we are limiting San Antonio's effectiveness on the offensive glass while pulling down offensive boards of our own. This works especially for Mohammed and Robert Horry.

3. Make the open jumpers. We have to make San Antonio pick their poison. Either allow Jerome James to run through the lane on the pick-and-roll, or leave shooters open for mid-range shots. Very important for us to knock those down.

4. Get to the line early and often. We need to take the game to the Spurs for the first minute. Put the ball in the hands of Daniels and Allen, and let them draw fouls on Duncan, Ginobli, and Mohammed. We have a great advantage with our free-throw shooting, let us focus on that.

I am more confident about this game than I have been throughout the series. I honestly think we will get it done tonight.

posted by Gavin @ 4:37 PM  0 comments

Is that Optimism I detect?

I read the papers today ready to hear all the doom and gloom following the Sonics loss in Game 5. I was pleasantly surprised by both Art Thiel and Steve Kelley. Kelley even goes so far as to predict a Game 6 victory.

I know there are no such things as moral victories, but the Sonics had a chance to steal Game 5. They were not destroyed. They were in the game. A few shots drop that rolled around and popped out and we win this game. A few balls that don't fall directly into Nazr Mohammed's hands go to us and we win this game. A few calls from the officials (kudos to Thiel for pointing out their ineptitude) that don't suck and we win this game. We were within four points in the fourth quarter. That's where you want to be on the road.

Thiel raised an excellent point about the Sonics only having 12 assists. There were definitely times where we took the quick shot instead of moving the ball. We have to use the pick and roll more effectively in Game 6, and I think we will. A lot of our shots were open, even the ones we missed at the beginning of each half.

I should be upset, and I am, but not at the Sonics. I'm upset at the refs, for those absurd offensive foul calls in the second half, and I'm upset at Manu Ginobili, who is essentially a soccer player. He should win an Oscar at the end of this series.

posted by Gavin @ 4:31 PM  0 comments

CBA Sticking Points

Chad Ford (one of my least favorite basketball writers) actually has a decent write-up of where the CBA discussions are between the NBA and the players. I'd like to highlight a few points of discussion.

1. Age Limit to 2 years after HS
This absolutely has to happen, and David Stern has a great reason... financial. There are not a lot of hyped players like LeBron out of high school that people want to pay money to see. They want to see proven players they cheered during March Madness like Emeka Okeafor or Jay Williams. They want to see Carmelo Anthony do in the NBA what he did at Syracuse. The financial hype is there to push ticket sales for the league. Let's see this happen. If Robert Swift is a great player, good, but he won't be for two years and I get to see his tall pimply tail on the sidelines until then.

2. Max contract length to either four-six years
This appears to be a major sticking point and I understand both sides. Something has to give here, because with only 12 players on the roster, each spot is crucial to a team's long term success. Grant Hill singlehandedly rode Tracy McGrady out of Orlando, since the Magic couldn't compete with him on the bench, and didn't have the money to sign or trade for help. There has to be some kind of injury exception.

3. Trades not dependent on salary size
I've never understood this. The luxury tax will penalize people who try and Yankee their rosters through trades. Teams need to have the ability to move stars for young talent. It happens in every other sport and the NBA should follow.

4. Escrow tax
This is essentially free money that the players give back to the league. This is ridiculous. I know the owners like free money and don't want to negotiate this away, but come on... what other sport has anything even close to this? It's stupid.

5. Player raises
Right now players get raises on the order of 10-12 percent a year while the salary cap remains flat. This makes financial sense... how? Whoever negotiated this absurdity last go around needs to have an icepick removed from his head. This is stupid. Fix it.

posted by Gavin @ 4:22 PM  0 comments

Unlucky M's?

This was weird, but I was just thinking as I was trying to go to sleep last night about whether the M's win/loss record was indicitive of their runs scored vs. runs given up. Lo and behold, the Times' Jeff Angus writes an article today about that very premise. His conclusions?

The M's record would stand at 17-21 instead of the 15-23 mark it currently is.
We should play close to early predictions the rest of the year.
M's fans should not jump off a cliff.

It will take, of course, more from Piniero, Moyer, Beltre, and Sexson to do it, however. Let's see if Moyer can bounce back tonight.

posted by colin_hesse @ 2:03 PM  0 comments

A brief digression....

By and large, the staff at Crushed Optimists tries to stay on relatively light topics (although, with Seattle sports, the posts are usually dark). However, one of our good friends has been in Uzbekistan this past year, and will, after a few month break, be going back there. You can read his notes at his blog noted in our links list.

For those of you who do not know, there were massive riots and uprisings in Uzbekistan last week as the country tries to get out from under a politician who has won several crooked elections. We encourage people to get to know the Uzbek situation. Here are 4 links to read more about the problem (with a wide range of opinion).

For first three links, HT to realclearpolitics.com

Lee Harris: The Uzbek Dilemma
Jonathan Freedland: He's Our Sonofab**ch (sorry, that's the Guardian for you)
Gwynne Dyer: Uzbek Leader Confident He Can Get Away With Murder
Tim Russo: Uzbekistan Policy

posted by colin_hesse @ 11:11 AM  0 comments

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Sonics vs Spurs - Game 5

Sorry for the lateness of the start of this post (2:14 left in the 1st quarter), but I was cooking some chicken. Not a lot of hope going into this game, I expect us to lose by double-digits.

1st quarter: SA 25, Seattle 18.
Horrible offensive, horrible defensive rebounding. Did I mention that I was not confidant at all about this game? To note: Antonio Daniels is the one Sonic that, again, is doing something for us. Ray Allen - nope. Luke Ridnour - nope. Jerome James - nope. Just Antonio Daniels, who knocks down another couple of free throws to cut the deficit to 6. Good defensive stand by the Sonics, but they allowed more offensive rebounds by the Spurs. NICE CHARGE BY DANIELS!! TWO FOULS ON DUNCAN!!! Excellent play by the little man. Fortson somehow makes a shot, and we are down by four. Make that six. Shoot. Stupid turnover. But there is Daniels who knocks down another shot to cut it back to four, and we give it back easily AGAIN. Stupid foul by Murray. We miss a three, and the deficit at the end of one is 7. I don't know if that is a bad or a good thing. I mean, we had scored four points at the 6 minute mark. A lot of people wearing Sonics uniforms need to step it up, because that was a sub-par quarter to be sure. Seriously, rebound the basketball, ok? On the plus side, two fouls on Duncan, and Tony Parker is not playing that well. If we can keep this deficit under double-digits when halftime rolls around, that will be a mild victory in my eyes.

2nd quarter: Sonics 50, Spurs 50
Ray Allen finally makes a shot....so, that's nice. We finally follow up with a good defensive stand, and Collison cuts the deficit to 5. Horrible shot by Ray, but Collison has the follow to keep the deficit at 5. Now, come on defense. Dang it, another offensive rebound! Terrible, guys, we can't give the Spurs easy baskets. That's 7 offensive rebounds already. Nice take by Ridnour to get to the line, though he misses the first. Good steal by Wilkins, excellent hands. Wow, they called a foul involving Danny Fortson.... without calling it on Fortson. Incredible. A few traded baskets by Ray Allen and Tim Duncan, but a slam by Wilkins closes the gap to 4. Finally. Daniels is back in at the 6:45 mark. Darn it, Ginobli now has 14, and is lights out from the 3 point line. OK, Allen is now making some shots, and we're down by 3, Spurs call time. YOU CAN NOT ALLOW GINOBLI THE OPEN THREE! Have you been paying attention this series? Well, good shot by Ridnour at least to stop any momentum. Well, that's not something you see every day. Allen and Duncan jawing at each other. Make free throws, Wilkins. Honestly. Spurs up by 9, since they can't miss from three-point land. Ridnour and Allen close it to 5. However, we allow yet another offensive rebound of a missed free-throw and we are back down by 8. Man, every time we make a little run and have a nice defensive stop, we ruin it with allowing an offensive rebound. Fortunately, Duncan missed a couple of free throws, and a HUGE THREE by Ray Allen to cut it to one. After another Duncan free-throw, Allen ties it. He has been great this quarter. Shoot. A final turnover where we had a chance to take the lead, but we are tied at haltime. Incredible. I have absolutely no idea how we just did that. Again, incredible.

Key Halftime Stats:
Sonics shooting 55%, Spurs shooting 45%
3-point - Sonics 1-5, Spurs 3-8 (man, I could swear they were better than that)
Ginobli 19 points, Duncan 10, Parker 5
Allen 15, Daniels 8, Ridnour 7
We've allowed 9 offensive rebounds, leading to 11 2nd chance points, and have only forced four turnovers.

Halftime MVP:
Ray Allen. 1st quarter it was Antonio Daniels, but Ray tied this game with his play down the stretch. Noone else is playing that well, even Collison, who I can usually count on.

Keys to the 2nd Half:
- Stop giving up the offensive boards
- Keep Parker and Ginobli out of the paint
- Keep swarming on defense

Final point: This was the first half of basketball this series that I have absolutely no complaints about the refereeing. None. Sure, the Spurs have shot a lot more free-throws than we have, but we have been knocking them around, so I'm ok with that. So.... keep it up, zebras!

Let's see what happens!

3rd quarter: SA 78, Seattle 68
And of course the 2nd half starts with another couple of 2nd chance points. Terrific. And, also terrific, we follow that up with a turnover and Ginobli hits a few free throws. Quick timeout by McMillan as the Spurs score the first six points of the quarter. Man, we're still in the locker room. I admit, the "Sith happens" trailer for the new Star Wars movie got a chuckle from me. The first time. I'll probably go this weekend, and walk out a disappointed human being once again. Great possession by us to close the deficit to four, but, of course, Ginobli hits a 3. Wow, a 7 point deficit. Sounds awfully familiar this game. And we miss another free-throw. OK, down by 11. Excellent. Any time we want to show up this quarter would be fine by me. Ginobli again for 3. Ridiculous. Down by 14. The Spurs have score 17 points in 5 minutes. Defense, anyone? That is a horrible foul call on a flop by Ginobli. We have to cut this deficit under 10 by the end of the quarter. Good start by Collison to cut it to 12. ANOTHER PATHETIC FOUL ON GINOBLI. Alright, forget what I said about the refs at half. At least the lead is now 11, and Ginobli missed a three for once. Ray misses both free throws? Are you kidding me? Well, Daniels has stepped back up, and the lead is now 7. Make that 9, as Forson flops and doesn't get the foul. 2 fantastically awful offensive foul calls, one on Fortson, one on Daniels. Well, we will have a chance to cut the lead under 10 by the end of the quarter. Will we do it? If Allen can make these free throws. And he can't. That's 3 in a row he has missed. So we're down by 10. Blah.

4th quarter:
A Ray Allen 3 cuts it to nine after another horrible call on Collison. Somehow we cut it to 5, but we allowed an offensive rebound to Ginobli, which is super. At least I just had some good strawberries. I like strawberries. So we're down by 7 with 8:35 left. That's doable, at least. The hard part about this game is that it might be decided by one decisive Spurs run at the beginning of the second half, with the Sonics playing well for the rest of the game. That gives me some hope for Game 6. So Ray misses a 3 and Bowen makes a 3. Congratulations. Another offensive foul. And another one. 9 point deficit. It's official. I don't like Ginobli. If I wanted to watch soccer, I'd watch soccer. I have never seen anyone, not even Divac, play like that.

MVP for the Sonics: ?? I guess Antonio Daniels, who was one of the few Sonics to really show up tonight. Wilkins was alright, Allen decent, and Fortson ok.

This game really ticked me off. I am not a Spurs fan as of right now. This whole second half was pathetic.

We will win Game 6. I really think so. We will win Game 6.

posted by colin_hesse @ 9:10 PM  0 comments

Last Second Sonics Fix

Here's a couple final articles today before Game 5!

Frank Hughes writes a fantastic article detailing the relationship between Luke Ridnour and Antonio Daniels. If there isn't another reason why Daniels has to be a must-sign for Seattle this offseason it's contained here. What a perfect combination they have become. We will depend on both tonight, since Rashard will probably still be out.

This scouting report for Game 5 is a good read as well, containing many of the same keys Colin and I listed below. Personally, I agree, it will come down to heart. The Sonics had none in games one and two, the Spurs had none in game four. Which team will want it more?

posted by Gavin @ 5:02 PM  0 comments

Edgar Martinez best DH?

I may not always agree with Rob Neyer, but at least he's been a consistent Edgar Martinez advocate. Today he writes an article proclaiming Edgar the best DH ever, over HOF'ers Harold Baines and Paul Molitor. Edgar was a fantastic DH, deserved to have the award named after him, and eventually should be the first Mariner enshrined in the Hall.

posted by Gavin @ 4:59 PM  0 comments

Barbara Hedges = Lisa Love?

Another Arizona State - UW link, this one furnished by Bud Withers. Bud finds it interesting that Lisa Love, the new AD hire at ASU, comes from USC, the exact same position that Hedges came from to Washington. Besides that, there doesn't seem to be too much of interest here. They are both women, but even Withers finds that is less controversial now than when Hedges was hired.

Love enters the firestorm surrounding Loren Wade, an underachieving basketball team with Ike Diogu possibly on his way out, a football team that has been wildly inconsistent the past decade, and a school that plays WSU to Arizona's UW in most every sport.

All I can say is.... good luck. And it's over 100 degrees down here. So, it's hot in more than one way for Ms. Love.

posted by colin_hesse @ 2:36 PM  0 comments

Ah, offseason NFL analysis

If you read this blog, and there is absolutely no reason.... to.... you know that Gavin and I have been staunch supporters of the Hawks offseason. We have a proven linebacker leader in Jamie Sharper, got (in my opinion) a better cornerback in Andre Dyson, resigned the Big 3, got rid of management, brought back Reinfeldt and hired Tim Ruskell.

John Clayton (hat tip to Sports and Bremertonians for pointing out this article) wrote an off-season review of the NFC West, where he likes the Cardinals off-season the best and believes that the Hawks defense might be worse than it was in 2004. Excuse me? Worse than the defense that did not force the Rams to punt ONCE in the 2nd half of the playoffs? Worse than having Kacyvenski play middle linebacker? Are you kidding me?

Kurt Warner is an overrated signee for the Cards. He has not had a good season in forever, and the Cardinals offensive line still has a lot of question marks. Yes, their receiving corps is incredible, but a team a receiver does not make. And then Okeafor is the magic fix for the defense? When the Hawks needed a big play on defense last year, did Okeafor step up? Negative.

Personally, I am more excited about the Hawks defense than I was before last season. Our secondary has the potential to be special, with Trufant, Dyson, and Herndon/Bobby Taylor as the top three corners, while Lucas and Boulware can put the hurt on receivers coming over the middle. Wistrom is healthy, and Tubbs (remember him?) has the power to plug the middle. And, please, one can not write off Tatupu. I am really looking forward to seeing him play. The same people questioned the Hawks' drafting of Boulware last year. Tatupu makes plays, and will not be caught out of position in the zone schemes that Rhodes is famous for.

So..... Clayton, I respect you a lot, but I just don't see the Cards catching the Hawks this year. There is too much of a gap.

posted by colin_hesse @ 2:16 PM  0 comments

Addict Fix Forthcoming

Simpsons Season Six DVD - August 16.

As Mr. Burns would say.... "Excellent."

posted by colin_hesse @ 11:42 AM  0 comments

ESPN daytime schedule

ESPN seems to be taking the MTV route, filling up the network with less sports and more so-so "original" shows that highlight the "fun" side of athletes and the nerds that cover them. Here's a sample of the insanely awesome programming that they trot out on a daily basis.

10:30 AM: NBA Finals Films
Yawn. Thank goodness CNN is showing.... absolutely nothing interesting.

11AM - 1PM: 2002 Home-Run Derby
There should be a rule against showing these after they happen. Plus.... this was from Milwaukee. Milwaukee. No, stop it, ESPN.

1-1:30PM: 1st & 10
I can handle Woody Paige in small doses, but this show is an utter and complete rip-off of PTI. Why don't they even call it PTI-2? Skip Bayless and Paige rip each other and discuss 10 current sports issues. Again, mildly entertaining, but can't ESPN at least admit to themselves just how similar these shows are?

1:30-2PM: Jim Rome is Burning
How does Jim Rome keep getting television shows? Is he still living off of Jim Everett trying to punch him out in that hilarious segment years ago? Does anyone find him interesting at all? At least Krypto the Superdog is showing on Cartoon Network.

2-2:30PM: Around the Horn
This show grew on me after a while, even though it's funny to watch Woody Paige contradict something that he just said on 1st and 10, including game predictions. Jay Mariotti can yell with the best of them, and contributors such as J.A. Adonde help keep the show even-keeled.

2:30-3PM: Pardon the Interruption
An outstanding show. My favorite sports show of all time. One of the saddest days in the past couple of years for me was when Kornheiser stopped his ESPN radio gig, even though I have grown to enjoy Colin Cowherd (heck, his name is Colin, he can't be that bad). They are just the kings of fighting with each other while throwing out nuggets of sports wisdom. If you have never watched this show and you have no life, like myself, watch it.

I won't even go into the whole "ESPN Bowling Night" and "Battle of the Gridiron Stars" beyond simply shaking my head, while I am beginning to wonder if Stuart Scott remembers how to simply deliver sports highlights or if he is permanently stuck in second-rate game shows like Stump the Schwab, TeamMates, and Dream Job.

posted by colin_hesse @ 10:54 AM  0 comments

The Passion of the... Spurs?

Mike Celzic, a prominent sportswriter for MSNBC.com, writes what I was thinking after Game 4.... what happened to the intensity of the Spurs?

I know I’m not the only person who can’t understand how the Spurs could come out with so little energy against Seattle after Jerome James, whose name will never be mentioned with Tim Duncan when the discussion turns to the game’s great big men, called them out after Game 3. Ray Allen had already thoroughly dissed Bruce Bowen when James delivered his un-humble opinions of the Spurs.

I was shocked when I called Gavin towards the end of the 1st quarter (I was stuck at a college graduation) and found out we were up by 2. That was the first point that I felt we might have a chance in this series, for the simple reason that the Spurs did not seem to have the fire that I expected. I believe that this is something to watch tonight. It will be nice, if, once again, we see not just the Tim Duncan sad face, but the Tony Parker bewildered face and the Nazr Mohammed baby face.

posted by colin_hesse @ 10:50 AM  0 comments

Monday, May 16, 2005

Game 5 Keys

Here are our Game Five keys...

Gavin:
1. Give Damien Wilkins minutes. He is our best on the ball perimeter defender and almost single handedly shut down the Spurs pentration game, forcing them into becoming an almost exclusive pick-and-roll team. There was no imagination to their offense. If he is able to do that again, we have a chance.

2. Get on the glass. Those 15 offensive boards we gave up were awful and simply cannot happen again. Rashard Lewis was out, not Jerome James, not Reggie Evans, not Danny Fortson, and not Nick Collison. Box out, people.

3. Jerome James has to step up. We went small and punished them for focusing on the pick and roll. Now we need to slightly reinvent ourselves again, stay on the offensive, and go big.

4. Luke Ridnour has to maintain. Let's face it, Tony Parker killed us in games one and two before we had a chance at getting into the game. Ridnour has to prevent him from starting out hot, and then also continue to give us consistent offense, although it will be too much to ask for another 7-7 effort in the third quarter.

5. Ray Allen has to OWN the second half. He has faded in games three and four, and actually hasn't had a good second half this entire series. He is the superstar, and needs to step it up.

Honorable mention goes to the refs actually giving us some calls, but since there is no freaking way that's happening I'll let it slide.

Colin:
1. Hold Tony Parker to less than 15 points. Let's face it. The last two times that the Sonics have fought the Spurs in the postseason, Tony Parker has been the hero. Tim Duncan will put up his points, and you can expect Ginobli to make several circus shots while letting the air knock him to the floor. Tony Parker is the one person that can be taken out of a game. We must do this.

2. Stop the Spurs' role players. Role players notoriously step up at home, and players like Glenn Robinson, Brent Barry, and Robert Horry were huge in the two blowout Spurs wins to begin this series. If we can make this game be a Duncan-Ginobli vs. Sonics, we should be sitting pretty.

3. Stay close in the 1st quarter. In all 4 road playoff games so far, we have allowed ourselves to get down by a large margin soon. Heck, the one win we had we had to come back from 19 down to do it! We just can not afford to come out flat and let the Spurs rip all the momentum we have away in the first 5-6 minutes of the game.

4. Match their intensity. Immediately. The fans will be clamoring for the Spurs to take it to us. We have to match that. Emphasis: Ray Allen on Bruce Bown, Damien Wilkins on Manu Ginobli, and Luke Ridnour on Tony Parker.

5. Stay within ourselves. Take the open shot. Pass to the open man. Look for the pick-and-roll if they stay out on the shooters. Don't try to do too much. All those little aspects that, when the Sonics do them, they beat good teams. When they don't, they lose to bad teams.

6:30 PM tip-off time....

posted by Gavin @ 10:15 PM  0 comments

 


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