Tagged: Lakers

Champions!

It’s my turn to gloat today, as the Lakers are the 2009 NBA Champions!

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Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times
It was a long journey from the disappointment of last year’s Finals, but victory is sweet.
Congratulations to Phil Jackson on his tenth NBA Championship.  I liked the hat they made for Phil with the Roman numeral X on it.  Can people finally acknowledge that Phil is a great coach.  I’m really tired of hearing that Phil Jackson is a spectator who doesn’t coach, he only wins because he always has great players out there.  Like Red Auerbach never had any great players when he won his nine championships.  Last time I checked, Bill Russell and Bob Cousy were two pretty great players.  Two of the very best.  Let’s give Phil some credit.  It’s a great accomplishment.
The great thing is that the Lakers are young enough to have a few more runs in them.  Provided Kobe comes back, of course.  I can’t believe he would opt out of his contract now.  To go where, the Clippers?  The Lakers do have decisions to make about Ariza and Odom.  My gut feeling is that Odom leaves and Ariza stays.  I’m O.K. with that.
John Hollinger of ESPN.com recently ranked the 30 NBA franchises.  While I disagreed with some of his ranlings, how can you disagree with the Lakers being Number One?  Let’s look at the evidence.  In sixty-one NBA seasons, the Lakers have been to the Finals playing for the championship THIRTY times.  What franchise, in any sport, can say they have been in the championship round or game fifty percent of the time.  Sure, the Lakers have won the title only 15 times, but the fact that they are always relevant and a factor is the amazing thing.  The Lakers have always had great players: Mikan, Chamberlain, Baylor, West, Magic, Kareem, Worthy, Kobe, Shaq, Gasol.  Great players come and go, but the Lakers never stop winning.  Not for a moment.  The Lakers have only failed to qualify for the playoffs five times in sixty-one years.  Sure, the Celtics have two more championships than the Lakers, but they also had some really dry spells where they were not very good.  The Lakers really have never had a dry spell.  Oh, by the way, the NBA logo is a Laker, Jerry West.  Seems fitting.
Photo Credit:

The Curse of Being a Fan

I’m sorry I haven’t posted in a few days, but I’ve just been totally consumed by the Lakers.  Since they clinched last Friday, I’ve been pretty much thinking and worrying day and night about how they’re going to win this title.  They have to win.  Well, they rewarded me tonight with their second best effort of the playoffs (the closeout of Denver was still more dominating).  Apparently, the Lakers are interested again, which is good for me because I can at least sleep good the next couple of nights.  I know it’s silly, but those of you that are obsessive about your teams will understand.  I think.  One not so humorous thing about tonight.  Well, it’s something I’m sure we’ll look back and laugh about.  Tonight is the eve of our fourth anniversary, the fruit anniversary.  My wife went out and got her hair done.  Our son was staying with my parents today, so I went to pick him up and take him home.  They live 40 miles from us, so I did not get home until the player introductions for the game.  My son was cute, because he knew Kobe right away (I’ve taught him well).  Well, when I came in and put my son down, I became consumed with the game and did not notice my wife’s hair or make a comment about it. (She looked beautiful, but then again she always does).  Finally, when the Lakers started to open it up in the second quarter, I noticed.  I apologized profusely.  My wife understood.  She blamed Kobe.  I am so sorry, honey.  I did bring home a dozen roses, however.  And I did plan a great outing on Saturday to celebrate.  It still doesn’t excuse it, though.  Why do we get so consumed by a game on TV played far away by people who don’t know us?  It’s the curse of being a fan.

The Lakers success has taken some of my attention away from the Cubs.  Right now, this may not be a bad thing.  Where do I begin?  Let’s recap the rain shortened series against the Braves.
The still suspended Carlos Zambrano misses the team flight to Atlanta on Monday.  Way to go, Carlos.  Lou said he gave him a talking to.  Big Z was supposed to pitch today, but that game was rained out.  He’ll go tomorrow in Cincinnati instead.  I have a bad feeling about that.
Milton Bradley got hurt again.  Yawn.  However, the Cubs just call him day to day again and won’t put him on the DL.  They can’t say when he’ll play, though.  Are they serious?  You know, I would not care if they just cut him and ate the two years remaining on his contract.  There is a silver lining to his injury.  It means Reed Johnson will get to play more.  The Cubs are better with Reed Johnson then they are with Milton.
With the injury to Ramirez and the injury of the week to Bradley and others, the Cubs are becoming a team of Triple A players.  Andres Blanco, Bobby Scales, Jake Fox.  These guys aren’t young, either.  Scales is 31, Fox is 27, Blanco is 25.  Micah Hoffpauir is 29.  I admit, I liked the Bobby Scales story, but if the Cubs are going to depend on these three guys for a long stretch of time, they are not winning the division.  To remain in the minors until your 29 or 30 tells me there are some fatal flaws to your game, otherwise they’d be up sooner.  The other teams will figure the flaw out and exploit it.
Carlos Marmol and Kevin Gregg turned in a tag team effort to blow Tuesday night’s game.  Poor Randy Wells had a no hitter into the seventh inning and left leading 5-0.  Marmol gives up 3 runs in the eighth and Gregg gives up two in the ninth to force a sure win into extra innings.  In the twelfth, Heilman provided the cherry on top by giving up the winning run.
The next night, the Cubs blew a 2-0 lead and had the game go into extra innings.  Fortunately, they won this game to stay one game over .500.
Now the Cubs start a big series with the Reds, who are a game ahead of them.  Now would be a good time to start a winning streak.  OK, Big Z, your the ace.  Go and pitch like one.

How Sweet it Is!

The Lakers are once again Western Conference Champions!!!  For the 30th time, by the way. 

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     Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times
Now, that’s more like it!
Even my son has been caught up in the excitement of the playoffs and his favorite player, Kobe Bryant.
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It was a great sports day for me.  The Cubs downed the Dodgers 2-1 in a great pitchers duel between Ted Lilly and Chad Billingsly.  
But tonight is all about celebrating the Lakers!
Photo Credit:

Taking Another Look

Yesterday I made light of the fact that Carlos Zambrano went nutso at Wrigley.  It was a needed eruption to get his deflated team pumped up again.  Today, I actually saw the whole footage of the outburst on TV by my parents house while picking up my son.  I was at work when this game was played so I didn’t see the whole thing.  What I saw put a sour feeling in my stomach. I’ve changed my tune.  I still think that an eruption by a player or manager can have a positive effect on a team.  However, Zambrano crossed a lot of lines yesterday.  The biggest line crossed was that of the bat to the Gatorade machine.  It’s scary to see how close he came to hitting Larry Rothschild in the chest.  He swung the bat at the machine without any regard to the safety of his teammates on the bench.  I honestly think that the Cubs themselves should suspend Zambrano.  He’s out of control.  He should be suspended by the team and forced to take an anger management class or get counseling.  I actually saw an interview with Big Z on the news where he said with a straight face that he never got into it with an umpire before or had an out burst like that.  What?  No, there’s something wrong.  The Cubs right now seem to be taking the stance people associated with the Red Sox took with Manny Ramirez when they would say, “It’s Manny being Manny”.  However, I don’t recall Manny putting his teammates safety at risk.  Would the Cubs be singing a different tune right now if Rothschild took the bat to the chest, or if the bat’s backswing caught a player on the bench in the head.  Or if a piece of the Gatorade machine hit a player in the head.  Or a fan, for that matter.  Seeing this outburst reminded me somewhat of a scene in the Jimmy Piersall biopic “Fear Strikes Out”.  If I was a Cubs player on the bench, I would have actually have been scared.  We can go back to many out bursts from Zambrano.  From hitting batters to the fight with Michael Barrett, Zambrano has shown time and again he is his own worst enemy.  Can the Cubs really count on him?  Is he really a number one starter?  A stopper?  I don’t know.  He keeps proving that he’s a loose cannon that does more harm than good to the team at times.  Why would the Cubs keep pursuing San Diego’s ace pitcher?  Maybe because deep down they know that they can never know what to expect from Big Z.  If Lou Piniella and the coaches are just going to look the other way, then Jim Hendry needs to step in and demand a level of professionalism.  The Cubs cannot continue to apologize for Big Z’s behavior and look the other way.  The need to get him help.  If not, he’s only going to end up hurting the team.

Right now I probably would have to say the Dodgers are the best team in baseball and they showed it tonight in their 2-1 win over the Cubs.  The Dodgers are a fundamentally sound team.  Their games may not always be pretty, but they get the job done.  The Cubs hope to even the series tomorrow afternoon with Ted Lilly taking the mound.
Lakers/Nuggets
Can someone please convince the Lakers that they lost yesterday’s Game 5?  Phil, you’re the “Zen Master”, could you hypnotize your players and make them believe they lost?  It will be the only way that the Lakers will come out and win Game 6 tomorrow night.  The Lakers only come to play hard when the absolutely must.  Their boredom with the playoffs is maddening.  They have the mentality of “oh, well, we have home court advantage.  We’ll win Game 7”.  In a sense, that may not be a bad thing because they are showing that they can respond to adversity.  But, why does it have to come to that?  Just show up and win tomorrow night.  Use your height advantage against the Nuggets.  There is no reason the Nuggets should be beating the Lakers on the boards.  Yes, I’m calling out Pau Gasol.  The Nuggets should be leading in tattoos, not rebounds.
How big was Lamar Odom last night?  Odom is the key to the Lakers title hopes.  If he consistently plays as he did yesterday, as a force defensively as well as offensively, the Lakers will not lose.

Lakers, Hawks, & Cubs

As I write this, my Lakers are pasting the Rockets by 39 points in the fourth quarter.  Big deal. This is what they should have done to Houston on Sunday.  Do the Lakers need a smack in the face to get motivated?  Not good.  Totally unacceptable.  They’ll end up getting past Houston, but they will definitely be the underdogs against Denver.  Yeah, I said it.  I don’t care about home court advantage in this next series.  I’ll go with the hot team.  The Lakers need to prove me wrong.

The game just ended.  Lakers 118, Houston 78.  Good for you, Kobe & company.  Now quit playing like chumps and close it out on Thursday.
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Robert
Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

Kobe needs to take command.  Who cares if someone calls you a ball hog.

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Wally Skalij
/ Los Angeles Times

Quit dancing and learn how to make a free throw.

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Robert
Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

You need to play better.      
Lakers, take a cue from the Blackhawks.
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Scott Strazzante, Chicago Tribune / May 11, 2009

These guys know how to close out a series.

Look Who’s 4-1

Don’t look now, but Rich Harden is now 4-1.  Harden beat the Padres tonight with the help of a two run homer by Milton Bradley.  It was good to see the bullpen hold a lead once again.

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Charles Rex Arbogast/AP


Way to go, Bobby!

Congrats go out to Bobby Scales on hitting his first career home run Tuesday night.  It was greatly appreciated.


Opportunity Knocks

The Cubs have five more games to go on this current home stand, two more with San Diego and three with Houston.  These teams are struggling right now.  The Cubs need to be opportunistic and sweep both of these series.  It looks like the Cardinals offensive machine may be slowing down.  The Red Birds lost Tuesday to the Pirates, 7-1.  Being just 1.5 games out of first right now, the Cubs need to put themselves into position to take back the division lead from the Cardinals when they play them again next week.  Are you ready for round three, Dad?


Photo Credits:


http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-lakers-rockets13-2009may13-pg,0,4064474.photogallery

http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/hockey/blackhawks/chi-chicago-blackhawks-playoffs-photos,0,2877113.photogallery

http://chicago.cubs.mlb.com/news/wrap.jsp?ymd=20090512&content_id=4687430&vkey=wrapup2005&fext=.jsp&team=home



Good Times, Bad Times

The Good: Alfonso Soriano leads off the game with a home run.  It’s the third time he’s done that this year.  Just let him lead off, Lou.

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Matt York,
Associated Press / April 27, 2009


The Bad: Ted Lilly did not have it tonight and Dan Haren did.  D-Backs win 7-2.

The Good: Milton Bradley will be in the lineup tomorrow night.

The Bad: Milton Bradley is 1 for 23 this season.

The Good: Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Marmol are said the be close to returning.

The Bad: Derrek Lee has neck spasms.

Given their weak and depleted bench, should the Cubs bring back Jim Edmonds?IMGP2045.jpg
The Good: The Lakers have advanced to the second round!  107-96 over Utah.  Up next will be the Rockets or Blazers.  I hope it’s not the Blazers.
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Gina Ferazzi
/ Los Angeles Times

The Bad: Luke Walton has a partially torn ligament in his left ankle.
The Good: The Blackhawks have advanced to the second round!  When was the last time you could say that?
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(AP) (Jeff McIntosh, Associated Press / April 27,
2009) 
The Bad: They’ll lose to the Canucks.  Luongo’s a hot goalie right now.
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