With another riveting episode of Bonds on Bonds due up this evening, I want to pose two rhetorical questions with regard to Barry Bonds:
1. What would he have to accomplish this year to be voted as the MVP in the National League?
2. What would he have to accomplish this year to be voted as the Comeback Player of the Year in the National League?
Those are honors which are conferred on players outside the formalities and the posturing of the Commissioner's Office and there would not be any
recourse on the part of the Players Association in terms of a grievance should Bonds not receive sufficient votes. So, what do you think that he
would have to accomplish to win either of these awards - - and would it even be possible for him to be MVP without simultaneously being the Comeback
Player of the Year?
Ladies and gentlemen, if you go to your morning newspaper and pick up the sports section, you will observe that the Los Angeles Clippers have a record
of 44-33. That record is not something to go down in the annals of the NBA but it should be important to Clipper fans. The team has clinched a
playoff spot; more importantly, it is guaranteed to have a winning record for the 2005/06 season and that will be its first winning record since
1991/92. It’s been a while since the Clippers were anything short of a joke. This year they are ahead of the Lakers in the standings and have a
better record at the Staples Center than do the Lakers.
Whilst you have your sports page in front of you, check out the standings in the NBA Eastern Conference. Four teams have clinched playoff slots with
respectable records. Currently, the fifth team in the Eastern Conference standings - the Wizards - is one game over .500; everyone else in the
conference is under .500. It is possible that each and every 'visiting team' in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs will have a losing
record for the year. NBA regular season games are barely watchable; playoff games are usually far more interesting. However, if half of the playoff
teams in a conference are below .500, might that not be a datum in support of the argument that there are just too damned many teams in the
The folks at the Dallas Morning News are in high dudgeon over the fact that Gino Auriemma has been voted into the basketball Hall of Fame and Don
Nelson was not. Let me be clear about this; if I had a vote it would be difficult for me to vote for Auriemma and not to vote simultaneously for
Nelson. I am not going to try to denigrate Don Nelson’s accomplishments in any way, but I do have a minor bone to pick with the Dallas Morning News
sports writers and their blog comments on this matter. The writers there neglected to note that Pat Riley and Phil Jackson are two other coaches who
have not yet been elected to the basketball Hall of Fame. So, if you want to use Gino Auriemma as the poster child for someone who may have been
elected a bit prematurely, that's OK with me; I don't care about that one way or the other. But as you bloviate about the poor folks who have been
overlooked while Auriemma got the fast track to induction, please don't be provincial about it. If you think Don Nelson belongs there, let's say
unequivocally that he should be greeted in the parking lot by previously inducted members Pat Riley and Phil Jackson.
Jerry Greene had a good observation in the Orlando Sentinel Last week:
'Did you watch the WNBA draft on ESPN2? Linda Cohn was the host, joined by analysts Nancy Lieberman, Ann Myers and Doris Burke, with Rebecca Lobo
reporting. OK, it's got to be asked - - when will a man get a chance?'
There has been whirlwind of rumors about who will replace Herb Sendek at North Carolina State. The news this morning is that the job has been offered
to John Calipari. That leads to two comments:
1. I'm glad none of the currently faddish mid-major coaches took that job.
2. I'm surprised that Memphis has let this situation get to the point where Calipari even has an offer in hand that he can consider.
You must not infer from the first comment that I believe the 'currently faddish mid-major coaches' are not competent coaches. That is not the case at
all; some of them are really very good. The problem is that the basketball program at NC State is no longer the 'prime property' that it once was.
Everett Case is not there anymore; they haven't recruited a player comparable to David Thompson since David Thompson left school about 30 years ago;
Jim Valvano and his band of players made one improbable run to a title almost 25 years ago; since then ... In North Carolina, there are lots of
schools that play basketball and only the most rabid NC State fan would even think to put State higher than third on the pecking order. I'm not sure
they are that high, but that's not the point here. A relatively unknown coach - or one who has only been known nationally for the last 3 weeks - is
not going to go into Raleigh and conduct a recruiting program that will send chills down the spines of the basketball folks in Chapel Hill and Durham
and Winston-Salem. Hell, it might not even bother the folks in Charlotte. Turning the NC State program around requires recruiting more top-shelf
players because of the league they play in; this is not a place where a coach can find a couple of overlooked gems every year and make it to the top
of the ACC. If that's the plan, then it is equivalent to a financial plan that has you out buying lottery tickets as the means to fund your
retirement. Translation: not likely to work...
On the other hand, John Calipari might just be able to pull this off. He is a fine coach and he has shown that he can recruit good basketball players
- even if there are a few corners that might get cut along the way. Memphis was mired in mediocrity - pardon the alliteration - when Calipari arrived
and it did not take him long to get his team a #1 seeding in the tournament this year. Conference USA is a nice league, but it is not one of the best
in the nation so staying atop these standings would not be a daunting task with Calipari and his recruiting skills at the helm. Yet, he reportedly
has an offer from NC State in hand. Even if he does not take that offer, I have to think the athletic department at Memphis is playing Russian
This weekend, lots of folks will be putting the final touches on their Income Tax returns. I want to be sure you know that April 15th is also
National Rubber Eraser Day. Tell me, other than the calculator, is there any tool in the world more important than the eraser in terms of filling out
Form 1040 and its siblings? In case that is not enough excitement for you this weekend, April 16th is National Wear Your Pajamas To Work Day. I
guess the folks who brought you 'dress-down Friday' are looking to take it up another notch...
Finally, an observation from Greg Cote in the Miami Herald:
'Billie Jean King is lending her name to a resort for gay seniors and has agreed to design the tennis courts. Quick question. How much design goes
into a tennis court?'
But don't get me wrong, I love sports... ... ...