Saturday, August 1, 2009

Tracy McGrady (Or T-Mac's Back)

NBA: NOV 09 Rockets at Lakers

I begin this post by stating point blank that Tracy McGrady is my favorite basketball player. T-Mac has long been my favorite guy to follow in the NBA, and I've been a fan through his best (leading scorer) to his worst (barely played last year, and when he played, he wasn't playing very good).

I just read an article on T-Mac. Apparently T- Mac is feeling awesome and for Rockets and T-Mac fans, that's good news.

Let's talk about T-Mac for a second. McGrady has been an elite scorer for most of the last decade. He's one of those Bryant/ Wade/ Kobe guys: a streak shooter with a knack for finishing at the rim. He's been labeled the best player never to get out of the first round, and as much superlatives are great, no one wants that title. His teams have blown plenty of playoff leads, and you have to wonder how much of that has to do with his inability to be a good leader. But I digress...

T-Mac says he will be back next season better than he has been in a long time. He's ready to be the elite player that he was. Of course, Rockets fans have heard that for the last 84 seasons, so it's hard to tell whether he's really feeling that good. I personally think he truly believes in what hes saying, and I think he really is working harder than ever.

It's pretty simple. T- Mac has been much maligned, and usually, he tries to deflect rather than defend. However, he's at a point in his career where accountability is important. He's becoming a grizzly veteran, and he probably realizes that time is no longer on his side. He came to the Rockets five years ago, and he's failed to meet a lot of expectations. He's also in the last year of his current contract and he probably realizes that a healthy, consistent season could mean big money next year. People don't realize what this guy is still capable of, and if some sort of duo featuring Wade/ Bosh/ LeBron doesn't work out, T- Mac could be a cheaper alternative. He easily has four to five years of good basketball left, and he has at least three elite years still in front of him.

An interesting season awaits Tracy McGrady and the Houston Rockets. I'll be looking forward to seeing him either become one of the league's best players or crash and burn. It's pretty crazy that either is possible, but man it makes for some good drama.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Favre's Gone and Vick's Back

NFL: AUG 08 Brett Favre and Michael Bloomberg

NFL Training camps start today, but with the amount of news the NFL has been generating this off- season, it feels like football never ended. A lot of the press has been bad press, but hey, at least people are still thinking about football (I guess?). Two names really interest me right now: Brett Favre and Michael Vick.

Brett Favre has officially thrown in the towel it seems (maybe): Favre has officially told the Minnesota Vikings that he will not be returning to the NFL. Obviously, this has some really bad implications for the Vikings, like the fact that we're a day away from training camp and their best hope for a QB just pulled out. The bigger news, however, is that Favre is (probably) calling it quits for good. I think Favre wanted to be back real bad this season (as testified to by the amount of time he took to make his decision) so he's probably feeling a lot worse (physically) than he has in a long time. Favre has lost a lot of fans, and he's no longer the most loved guy in football, so ending his career now wasn't such a bad idea. Last season, as a Jets fan, I was really disappointed in Favre's humdrum season. Personally, I think signing with the Vikings would've had a negative impact on Favre's Green Bay following. Good luck to Favre, and hopefully he can talk his way back into the hearts of many.

On the flip side of guys not coming back is guys finally coming back. Michale Vick has been officially reinstated by NFL commish Roger Goodell. I read a brilliant article on the issue of Vick's reinstatement, and I suggest you look at it. Basically, Vick will most likely miss four games to begin the season, but is allowed to sign with a team for training camp and play after the first four games of the NFL. Vick is probably one of the most hated football players in the NFL today, and the team that signs him will be welcoming publicity on a scale it has not known before (unless he signs onto the bonanza known as the Dallas Cowboys). I was a fan of Michael Vick and always viewed him as slightly underrated. I'm not thrilled that Vick gets to come back so easy, even though second chances are always nice. That being said, I'm very interested to see his play on the field. Too much attention is being paid to off the field in relation to Michael Vick, so let's see if he can at least deliver on the field.

Who would have thought that Vick would be the one returning and Favre would not be playing next season? I don't think too many people would've been surprised if the opposite had occurred.

What do you think of Favre and Vick?

Air Up There (Best Dunker Alive?)

Oh man, I was on a Yahoo! Sports blog (See here) and I found a link to this guy nicknamed Air Up There. And yeah... wow. Check it out.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Federer vs. Nadal: Sport's Greatest Rivalry

Madrid Tennis Open - Day Nine

Why do we love sports? For the competition, of course. We love seeing two teams or players show us their athletic prowess, their ability to seemingly physics. We love it so much that we don't even think twice about the fact that our beloved athletes get paid millions of dollars to swing a bat, catch a ball or shoot some hoops.

Tennis is a unique sport (speaking strictly about singles) because on any given day, there's only two people on the playing field: you and your opponent. Golf is an individual sport too, but in a different way. In tennis, there's two people on the court. There's no teams, no fields to compete against (not directly). You either win or go home.

That's why Roger Federer by himself is bad for tennis. Tiger Woods is what golf needs because Tiger competes against every other golfer in the field. Roger Federer competes against one opponent at a time, and he may be the best ever at dismantling his opponents (see Andy Roddick). Tennis doesn't need Federer: it needs Federer and Nadal.

Nadal is the Yang to Federer's Ying. The bulky, high flying lefty presents the opposite side of the stoic and controlled Federer. Nadal is Phil Mickelson, but the only difference is, Nadal wins. And that really is key. Tiger has no rivals. Sure, people try to compete, but really speaking, there's not one guy you can consistently say provides a threat to Tiger. Nadal, on the other hand, has become Federer's equal. Tennis needs Nadal to come back in his superhuman form because Nadal can beat Federer and Federer knows it. Nadal owns six GS titles, while Federer owns 15. However, Nadal seems to have gotten the better of Federer: in the last year, he has beaten Federer in three of the four GS.

People continue to debate if Federer is the best ever. Many say that with the French Open, and the completion of a career GS, it's hard to argue otherwise. If Nadal wins the US Open, he'll have completed a career GS too. It's this daily flirting with greatness that captures us as fans. Tennis fans in America needed a compelling reason to follow the game because Sampras called it quits and Agassi wasn't winning anymore. Federer was nice, but he was too nice, too dominant. Along came Nadal and he became the King of Clay. Suddenly, the King of Grass and the King of Clay were meeting each other in finals very often, and King of Clay seemed capable of doing what no other tennis player could: beating Roger Federer.

Let's hope Nadal is ready to play at this superhuman level once more. Tennis needs it, and more importantly, we as fans need it.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Lamar Odom (or the Laker's Unsug Hero)


See the guy in the Lakers jersey above? His name is Lamar Odom. He's sort of like you and me. Except that he's one of the most talented basketball players on the planet.

He's widely considered one of the most versatile players in the NBA (in my opinion, he and Jason Kidd are tied for first). He can shoot, he can get to the rim, he can rebound, he can pass, he can take the load off of Kobe. I mean, if you're a Laker, this is the type of guy you want. Seriously, if we're going to play the Kobe as Michael Jordan game, Odom is Pippen. Odom could be a starter on any team, but instead he came off the bench last year. And he was cool with that.

He's due for a new contract. And Lakers owner Jerry Buss is really starting to irk me by not giving him one he deserves. Oh believe me, he got pretty good offers. It is reported there were two original offers: 9 million for four years or 10 million for three years. Not bad money by any stretch of the imagination. However, it's not enough to just throw the money at him. Make him feel wanted Buss. Odom is apparently considering a deal with the Miami Heat (6.8 million for 5 years). The guy's considering less money to play on a lesser caliber team... seriously, Buss, what the heck are you doing wrong that I'm even writing this post.

Come on. You know how important Odom is. The guy plays hard (and he's got the talent department covered too). He's no model of consistency, but few players have the talent he does. Ron Artest is nice, but he's no Lamar Odom. Yeah, Artest took you to 7 games without T-Mac or Yao, but come on. Odom. The guy who won't hog the ball and will take good shots. He's the Ying to Artest's Yang.

Seriously, Artest is nice. Awesome defense, pretty good offense. But he's no Odom, and unless you start playing the game right Buss, you're going to find out the hard way next year.

Andre Miller and the Blazers Disastrous Move


Andrew Miller is an awesome basketball player. He has court vision that very few in the NBA possess. He's a solid shooter (over 47% last year) and a really good free throw shooter (over 82% last year). He'll get you more 'bounds than the average guard. He's a seasoned veteran.

Oh yeah, and he's also 33 and a terrible pickup for the Portland Trailblazers.

Look, Miller is an excellent option on a lot of teams. And honestly the 7 million a year he's being offered is not that bad compared to what some players get. However, Miller is not a good fit for the Trailblazers. The Trailblazers have been going very young. Their defacto leader Brandon Roy just turned 25. Miller is 33, and I'm pretty sure he's headed for a decline.

The point is, a 3 year deal for Miller doesn't make sense. I would have understood a one year offer to make sure you have some short- term flexibility and you're not locked to this guy for 3 years. But 3 years? Even if Miller somehow plays at the level he has for two years, his third year will not be so pretty. Three years from now is when most of the Blazers players will hit their prime, and they'll need a point guard who "grew up" with them. Miller's going to be 36 by the time that season starts, and inevitably he'll at least start declining (if he hasn't already hit the wall).

Come on Blazers. In the words of Marc Jackson, Yo betta than that.

Mariona Rivera (Or God in Closer Form)

Seattle Mariners vs New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium in New York

Mariano Rivera. I'm not sure if you know this guy. If you don't, I suggest you go to any MLB scores site. I'm sure you'll see him in one of the headlines.

Mariano Rivera is the closer for the New York Yankees (and has been as long as anyone can seem to remember). He is hated almost as much as he is loved, simply because he is one of the greatest closers of all time. Some say he is the best post- season closer ever. He's even looked at the best closer in All- Star Game history. However, in my opinion, he is the greatest closer of all time. However, that's a story for a different time. This post is about Mariano's current season.

Mariano is the AL Closer of the Year. Period. Now before you start hating, just listen up. Let me give you some numbers: 41.1 IP, 31 H, 10 ER, 5 HR, 4 BB, 45 K, 2.18 ERA, and 29 out of 30 saves converted. One closer has more saves (Brian Fuentes with 30). Fuentes has given up 7 more walks though. Mariano? The dude walks less than one guy every ten innings. In a span of 6 days, Rivera closed out 5 games (while giving up 1 hit and 1 walk).

Listen, Rivera has the numbers. More importantly, however, is how scary the dude is. Any time you hear Enter Sandman, you pretty much know the game is finished. I mean, how do you deal with this guy? His cutter at 39 is still one of the most dominant pitches in the game. The last time he gave up a run was 17 appearances ago (June 12). I mean come on! This guy is money every friggin time.

Best closer ever? Maybe. Best closer this season. No doubt.

What do you think? Mariano or someone else?