Super Bowl Hiatus – - Basketball and Baseball Today

Allow me to pause for a while in the omnipresent assault of Super Bowl “news” to focus on some other things today. There are plenty of strange doings in other areas of the sporting firmament. For example, Donald Sterling – owner of the LA Clippers – has gotten into a pillow fight with Coach, Mike Dunleavy. Even though the Clips are saddled with injuries to two starters, Sterling expressed his dissatisfaction with the team’s record this year and said he expected more from the coach. Dunleavy did not take that kind of news quietly and said that if the owner thought someone else could do better, then the owner should go find that person. Dunleavy has about $18M left on his contract so he is not exactly going to be “down and out” if Sterling fires him. But there is a strange aspect here:

    The Clippers GM for the last 22 years has been the same guy, Elgin Baylor. In that time, the Clippers are almost 500 games below .500; Elgin Baylor’s face is as recognizable at the NBA Lottery Draft as Dick Clark’s is on New Year’s Eve. So, how come Elgin Baylor is not now and has not been a source of “dissatisfaction” and “disappointment”?

The San Francisco papers have been saying for about ten days now that the Warriors will sign Chris Webber. That would be such a strange move that I didn’t even think to write about it, but now it seems as if it is about to happen. Why is it strange? Let me count the ways:

    1. Chris Webber used to play for the Warriors about 12 or 13 years ago. His coach there was Don Nelson. They had a huge – and public – parting of the ways. Now Nelson is back with the Warriors and they are going to sign Webber?

    2. The Warriors play run-and-gun basketball. Chris Webber cannot run anymore. He is almost 35 years old and his legs are shot.

    3. Last year with Detroit, a team that plays a methodical/controlled game, Webber was marginally useful at best

    4. The Warriors need someone to play tough interior defense. That’s what Chris Webber cannot – or will not – do; that is a big part of what the “parting of the ways” was all about in his first incarnation with the Warriors.

    5. The Warriors say they want to use Webber’s strong passing skills. True, he is an excellent passer. Now if the Warriors only had a way to incorporate more than two passes per possession into their repertoire…

About two weeks ago, I said that I really thought the Portland TrailBlazers were building something out there and that just as they would be peaking as a team – an a few years – the other Western Conference powerhouses might be in decline. Well, here is a comment on that topic from Bob Ryan of the Boston Globe in his blog. Great minds run in similar channels – - and all that stuff:

“Now I am not a betting man, but if you are, and there is such a thing as a futures wager, put a wad down on the Trail Blazers to win it all in 2010-2011. In that season, Greg Oden will be in his second year, Brandon Roy will be in his fourth, Steve Blake will be in his sixth, Martell Webster will be in his sixth, LaMarcus Aldridge will be in his fourth, Jarrett Jack will be in his fourth, Channing Frye will be in his fifth, James Jones will be in his sixth, Travis Outlaw will be in his sixth, Sergio Rodriguez will be in his fourth and Joel Przybilla will be in his ninth. And he will be the only one of this bunch over 30.”

The LA Times had a report on court documents filed in the Shaquille O’Neal divorce proceedings. Frankly, I don’t care at all about the proceedings here or who gets what at the end of the day, but the report in the LA Times did catch my eye with these items. These are the monthly expenses that Shaq claims to have as part of his lifestyle:

    $22K – - maid services. Must be one sloppy family.

    $17K – - clothing. I realize he can’t buy off-the-rack, but c’mon…

    $23K – - gasoline and oil. No Toyota Prius in his fleet, evidently.

    $1.5K – - cable TV. Say what? Does he get the Jupiterian channels?

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the inconvenient truth of women’s sports – - that most sports fans do not follow them closely. Obviously, I do not have a large readership in Lubbock, Texas because if I did, someone would have pointed out the following statistic to me. I found this in Charlie Walters’ column in the St. Paul Pioneer-Press:

“At Texas Tech, the men’s basketball team (10-7), coached by Bob Knight, is averaging 6,338 spectators a game while the women’s basketball team (13-5) is averaging 8,599.”

Similar to the Chris Webber return to the Warriors, there is another “rumor” floating around in the Bay Area that makes me wonder if someone had put hallucinogens in the water system out there. That rumor is that Barry Bonds is going to get an offer from the Oakland A’s to be their DH next year because – - get this – - the team realizes they will field a young squad this year and they think Bonds can be a “mentor” to the young players. This is the guy who demanded two lockers and a Barcalounger in the Giants’ clubhouse and reportedly remained aloof from the rest of the squad while increasing his body mass at an astronomical rate. Can someone tell me how that leads to the conclusion this guy is “mentor material”?

In realistic terms, Barry Bonds is a 43-year old free agent whose only realistic position on a baseball team at the moment is “batter”. He has the legal version of the sword of Damocles hanging over him in light of his Federal indictment and there is a small possibility that the Commish could suspend him “in the best interests of baseball” pending the outcome of that Federal legal proceeding. In case you do not recall, there is precedent in baseball for just this kind of thing. Judge Landis ordered all members of the 1919 Black Sox team banned from baseball for life even after a jury acquitted Shoeless Joe Jackson of any wrongdoing in the betting scandal. Maybe that’s why he hasn’t had to beat away suitors for his services next season and why this rumor of him going to the A’s as a “mentor” is so discordant.

It is definitely time for Spring Training to start. The baseball “hot stove league news” has just about run its course and all that is left are Congressional hearings and other legal wranglings. Elliot Harris had the same thought in the Chicago Sun-Times:

“Sammy Sosa wants to play baseball more than the Texas Rangers want him, so the former Cubs slugger is looking for work. It’s just a thought … but maybe Sosa can start a pro league in Ireland. He’d be a natural for a Cork team.”

Finally, a bit of baseball history from Bob Uecker:

“I signed with the Milwaukee Braves for a $3,000 bonus. My parents couldn’t afford that, but they paid it anyway.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports…

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