The hot topic of conversation for most of yesterday was the “Blake Griffin Incident”. Up until late yesterday, what we knew was that Griffin and an equipment manager for the Clippers – turns out he is the assistant equipment manager – got into an “altercation” at a restaurant in Toronto. That altercation – more commonly known as a fistfight – caused the equipment manager to have facial injuries and caused Griffin to break a bone in his hand – presumably from punching the other guy. For quite a while, that was all we knew; for quite a while, that did not stop folks on sports radio and TV from dissecting the situation despite the meager understanding they had.
What we now know is not all that much more. The assistant equipment manager is named Matias Testi; he and Griffin have been friends and have taken vacations together; the situation began in a restaurant where the two men “traded insults” leading to physical action; Testi left the restaurant and Griffin followed him and hit him again outside the restaurant. Griffin underwent surgery for a spiral fracture to a bone in his hand and will be out 4-6 weeks. Basically, we do not know a whole lot more now than we did yesterday.
The Clippers have issued a statement – no surprise there – saying that this is regrettable and that this sort of thing should never happen and etc. Griffin also issued a statement – no surprise there – saying that he regrets “the way I handled myself towards someone I care about’ and that he is sorry to have created a distraction.
Recall that earlier this season Josh Smith got into a “heated altercation” with one of the Clippers’ assistant coaches. Now, the Clippers get to deal with this hot mess. So here is the question:
Is that the kind of organization that Steve Ballmer expected to have when he paid $2B to acquire it?
Elsewhere in the NBA, the Cavaliers fired coach David Blatt and replaced him with Tyronn Lue. When Blatt got his pink slip, the Cavaliers had the best record in the Eastern Conference (30-11) and his record over a season-and-a-half was a not-shabby-at-all 83-40. By the way, his team was 14-6 in the playoffs last year without Kyrie Irving for all of those games and without Kevin Love for many of them. I guess the thinking here is that a coach with that much talent on his team ought to win at least 2 out of every 3 games which is what Blatt’s Cavaliers did.
According to various NBA insiders, Blatt did not have Lebron James’ respect and that there was unrest in other parts of the Cavaliers’ locker room. If those reports are true, it would seem to contradict the old sports adage:
Winning cures everything.
Tyronn Lue says that he will hold Lebron James “accountable” for his actions the same as he will for everyone else on the team. James says that he will have to exert leadership to get the Cavaliers to be as good as James knows they can be. In the aftermath of a coaching change, that is pretty standard stuff. However, my guess is that there is a reality underneath the early choruses of Cumbaya:
Lebron James is going to continue to play the way he has played all of his career and so long as the coaching from the bench comes in the tone of “suggesting” all will be fine. If Tyronn Lue thinks that he is going to change the way Lebron James plays basketball, he will be one of the shortest tenured coaches in NBA history.
I find James’ statements about “leadership” very interesting because it certainly seems to someone on the outside looking in that common denominator for his actions is to fail to get along with any of his coaches.
The MLB free agent season is drawing to a close; pitchers and catchers will be reporting to Spring Training in about 3 weeks; most of the big-name free agents have determined where they will ply their trade next year. Nevertheless, there are still 2 free agent pitchers that have not found a home; neither would cost a team a huge annual salary nor would either demand a long-term deal. Both had disappointing-at-best seasons in 2015 but one need not have an elephant’s memory to recall a time when they were both dominant pitchers.
Doug Fister: In 2014, his ERA was 2.41and he had a strikeout to walks ratio of 4.1. Last year, his ERA ballooned to 4.19 – the highest of his career – and his strikeout to walks ratio dropped to 2.6. He lost his starting job with the Nats in mid-season. Fister will be 32 years old next week. I cannot believe that every team in MLB who thinks they just might have a chance to “do something special” next year has 5 starting pitchers on the roster who are so solidly entrenched that Doug Fister would be an unreasonable luxury to have around.
Tim Lincecum: In 2015, his season was cut short with hip surgery; obviously, any team interested in signing him would need a clean bill of health from their medical mavens. Lincecum has been an innings-eater for all of his career from 2008 to 2013, he started 32 or more games in each season. His career ERA is 3.61 and he will turn 32 next June. In his younger years, he was a power pitcher; now he will likely need to “reinvent himself” on the mound. Like Doug Fister, I am surprised that no team has found room for him on their Spring Training roster.
Finally, here is an item from Brad Rock in the Deseret News indicating that Phillies’ fans are getting themselves ready for the start of the baseball season in the City of Brotherly Love:
“National newscasters, in Philadelphia to cover Winter Storm Jonas, were pelted with snowballs.
“Residents say it was a nice change of pace from throwing beer cups and water bottles at the Phillies’ games.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………