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Newz Forum: OTHER: ESPN, Cubs' pitching woes, the NBA Draft Lottery, NBA playoffs plus more...

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posted on Jun, 2 2005 @ 04:00 PM
Here is something I heard on ESPN Radio a couple of days ago:

"Joe Flabeetz [I can't remember the player's name] has hit a homerun on May 20th in each of the last five years."

I don't dispute the correctness of that statement because I would not have even the slightest inkling to go and ferret out the data to prove or disprove it. But I do have to wonder about the person(s) who had been tracking this sufficiently to add that to the mix of stuff to put on the air after Joe Flabeetz hit a homerun on May 20 of this year. Talk about someone with too much time on his/her hands!

Add to the statement above another one from ESPN Radio:

"Ervin Santana is the first pitcher in the history of baseball to give up a single, double, triple and home-run to the first four batters he faced in his career."

Imagine for just a second what kind of research would be necessary to come up with that and you will see that either there is an over-abundance of folks in the stats department at ESPN or they have one impressive database. By the way, things did get a lot better for Ervin Santana in his next start. He beat Jon Garland and the White Sox.

I mentioned Garland a few days ago and how he had just about equaled the win totals of the Cubs' starters Wood, Prior and Zambrano. A reader sent me a note saying that the Cubbies pitching plight is even worse than that. Garland (now 8-1) was in the Cubs' system and was traded away as was Dontrelle Willis (also 8-1) as was Matt Clement (now 5-0). Holy pitching coaches, Batman!

The NFL Draft is hugely overdone on TV; I think we can all agree on that. But in small doses, it can be interesting TV. The NBA televises its Draft Lottery and that small TV segment has to rank right up there with the International Nose-Picking Competition as the dumbest sports TV event ever. What you have is a bunch of execs or players or GMs or whomevers sitting there and trying to look as if they are interested in what's happening while hiding the fact that they wished they were anywhere else. Remember, if you sit on that set, you are only there because the team you represent is one of the minority of teams in the NBA who did not make it into the playoffs. Sixteen teams got in; several of those got in by just managing to break even for the year; your team couldn't meet that lofty standard and so you are sitting there in front of a TV camera trying to keep your thumb out of one of your fundamental orifices as Russ Granik - aka Mr. Personality - opens envelopes in a draft order countdown. Someone in the TV business needs to euthanize this programming.

There was one minor "surprise" in the NBA Draft Lottery show. I was confident that the Atlanta Hawks would not get the first pick in the draft despite their worst record status last season. I figured that with both the Knicks and the Lakers in the draft, the Hawks were dead meat. I was only half-right; Atlanta has the 2nd pick but Milwaukee got the 1st pick. So much for the drama produced by this TV waste of time.

Speaking of the NBA playoffs, are you enjoying the games? If so, you better call some of your friends and get them to tune in too because playoff TV ratings are cratering. ESPN ratings for its playoff games are down 7% compared to last year when they were down from the year before; that's the good news. Over at TNT, the ratings for its playoff games are down 14%; that's bad news but not the worst. The ABC ratings for its games are down - hold your breath - 30.5%. But remember David Stern keeps telling us how things have never been better in "NBA World"...

When you hear people say that the Phoenix Suns' defense is non-existent in these playoff games, you can take that to the bank. In the 4th quarters of the first two games with the Spurs, the Suns have allowed the Spurs to shoot 28 for 39 from the field. I suspect that if you counted the shots taken in pregame warm-ups after the lay-up line, few teams would shoot 72%. Jerry Greene had this observation about the Spurs in the Orlando Sentinel:

"The San Antonio Spurs might win the whole thing behind the Force of Obi-Wan Ginobili."

The Sixers have been a halfway house for wayward coaches since Larry Brown left a couple of years ago. This week, they fired their third coach in the last two years and hired Maurice Cheeks who is probably the guy they wanted when Brown left but who was under contract in Portland at the time and the Blazers refused to let the Sixers buy his way out of that contract. Then the Blazers fired Cheeks and the Sixers scooped him up. However, that means that the Sixers will be paying Randy Ayres, Chris Ford, Jim O'Brien and Maurice Cheeks as coaches. Only Cheeks will be on the bench.

The Dallas Mavericks need help inside. I know they signed Erik Dampier last year and Dampier said that with Shaq traded to the East, he was the second best center in the West. I'm sure his mother and other members of his nuclear family will agree with that, but I don't. If the Mavs are seriously going to contend for the NBA championship, they need a big man. The Dallas Morning News reports that they hope there is no lockout this summer so they can work closely with two young 7-footers in their employ - D.J. Mbenga and Pavel Podkolzin. If you take the descriptions of these players and what they need to work on and put it through the translator into English, here is what you might get:

Mbenga: "must learn to use his athleticism and strength to be a more effective rebounder".

Excuse me, it he is 7-feet tall, strong and athletic and he isn't an effective rebounder he must stand around with a glazed look on his face while the ball is in play. Maybe they need to be sure he still can fog a mirror?

Podkolzin "has to increase his foot speed and learn to be more efficient in his movements".

Let's see, this means he is a human embolism on the court who often finds himself in the wrong place for no good reason perhaps with his limbs twitching wildly.

The Mavs are right. There better not be a lockout because they will need to put in a lot of coaching time here...

Finally, a good line from a recent column by Scott Ostler in the San Francisco Chronicle:

"The name they almost went with before they decided to call it The Original Whizzonator: I Can't Believe It's Not A Whatchamacallit."

But don't get me wrong, I love sports...

Copyright The Sports Curmudgeon


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