Wednesday, November 3, 2004
HOOPS AND VOTES
First things first... HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM!
So, did everyone get out and vote yesterday? Did you watch any of basketball's Opening Night action? I have some thoughts on those two things as well as some baseball nuggets. So, bear with my rants and predictions and thoughts and, as always, please feel free to share you thoughts with me. Send me an e-mail.
It looks as though George Bush will remain the President for the next four years. Ohio was the official 'Swing State' with its 20 electoral votes going to George Bush. It also appears as though Bush will win the popular vote, which I think is a good thing because I have my doubts on the necessity of the electoral college.
This was an ugly campaign by both candidates and their advisors. There were a lot of things that happened over the last few weeks that really bothered me, that made this whole process incredibly frustrating. I want to share a couple of those opinions with the readers, and of course, I would love to hear your thoughts on any of these topics.
Those of you who have come to this site for awhile understand that I try very hard to live my life and make my own decisions on what I think and believe on my own. I read a lot of baseball blogs for the entertainment and to learn. But just because I read something written by someone else, does not mean that I agree with it. Likewise, I don't expect anyone to take everything I write as gospel, as right or wrong. I express my opinions and they are just that, MY opinions. I will listen to and think about other people's opinions and debate with them even if I disagree. If that person can intelligently debate these things, and who knows, maybe you can convince me that I am wrong.
Taking that to the election, and politics in general, is a very easy transition. As you all know, I find myself to be very conservative on most issues. But I don't want to pigeon-hole myself as a Republican, or right-wing, or anything that general. Partisanship bothers me so much. I think that each issue deserves its own thought and debate and my opinion will not be based on what the Republican Party tells me that I should think. If my personal opinion happens to be more liberal, I have no problem with that.
So, where is all this coming from? What am I getting at, and how does it relate to this election? Here are just a few things that I heard or listened to or read in the last couple of days that have hit me and in some cases, really bothered me.
Celebrity Endorsements - First, I have to say that I think it is great when an actor or athlete takes time to speak for a candidate. Curt Schilling spoke for George Bush. Eminem, Ashton Kutcher and Leonardo DiCaprio all campaigned for John Kerry. Again, that is absolutely their right to do. However, my problem is with someone voting for a candidate simply because a celebrity will. And, you know what is sad? There are a lot of people who probably put a lot of stock into that. It is a sad statement about an individual who will allow the opinions of another person affect how they vote!
In a related note, George Bush was at Target Center in Minneapolis on Saturday. Vikings coach Mike Tice introduced him and presented him with a Vikings jersey. I heard a number of callers into radio shows discuss how disappointed they were that Tice did that. They thought that by doing so, he was endorsing Bush for President. First, if Mike Tice chooses to endorse George Bush, that is his right. If he chooses to respect the President and give him a jersey, I don't think it signifies anything. Red McCombs is from Texas and a friend of Bush's, he also has the right to give gifts to the candidate. I don't understand what the issue was there.
Metro versus Outstate - Most states have a high school football all-star game which matches the top players of the Metro area against those from areas outside the big cities. That's just football, but is it just me, or is there an entirely different attitude (in general) between urban and rural people. Why is it that George Bush wins all of the rural counties and areas. Why is it that John Kerry or the Democratic party win the vote in big cities like New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, or even Minneapolis/St. Paul? I wonder if it is a certain arrogance. I wonder if it is a social or an economic thing? Where does this discrepancy come from, and why is it so consistently the truth?
I also wonder if there is a certain arrogance among Democrats. It's almost like they have the Yankees' sense of entitlement. This ties in with the above topic. Why is it that when the Republican wins, so many Democrats question the intelligence of the voters? When I talk to some people who vote Democrat and mention to them that I am pro-Bush, they jump and me, and I get the feeling that they are making certain judgments about me because of that decision. Now, would this be the case either way? Do Democrats feel like they are being judged negatively when talking to a Republican voter?
Living in outstate Minnesota, it is very frustrating. If you were to look at the vote for president, county by county, most of the state would be colored Red, for Republican. But because over half of the population lives in the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area, the state traditionally votes Democrat. Why? I've never really understood why. Maybe it still stems from Hubert Humphrey's days as a political figure. You could almost call a non-Democrat vote in Minnesota a wasted vote at this time. The same could be said in New York, Illinois or California.
Wasted Vote - I have heard and used that term so many times this election. Some say that a vote for a third party candidate is a wasted vote. Why? Because no third party candidate ever comes close to winning. However, I fully believe that if you feel the need to vote and you don't feel that either the Republican or Democratic candidate would represent you, you should consider the platforms of the third party candidates. It is your right to feel good about your vote.
HOWEVER, I hear frequently that it is our civic duty to vote. I feel that everyone of age has the right to vote. I also feel that everyone of age has the right to not vote! Again, if you feel that none of the candidates represent you, it is alright to decide to not vote. I don't think you should feel bad about that, and I don't' think that people should tell you that you're wrong for not voting.
FLORIDA - Did you know that there are still a lot of people whining about the 2000 vote in which George Bush defeated Al Gore to win the presidency? I fully understand the whole Florida controversy. However, that decision was made four years ago. The controversy was settled in the proper ways according to the government. People so need to get over that!
This year should not be an issues as it is pretty clear that George Bush will take the 'swing state' of Florida! I'm glad it won't be a huge issue again this year.
The Bitter Campaign - Was anyone else incredibly disappointed in how the campaigns went? It was bitter, it was mean, it was degrading. It was frustrating to watch. Yes, the war is a controversial topic. We all know that. Everyone has their right to it. However, to me at least, the war is one of many issues that this election should have been about. But the media, and the candidates, chose to focus almost completely on the Iraq situation. To me, there is so much more to this presidential office than this one issue. What about the economy? What about taxes? What about abortion? What about stem-cell research? What about judge appointments? Those are very important topics as well, and they didn't get the time that they should have!
The Office of the President - I was also very disappointed in how degrading many people were to the President. I understand that he was the opponent of John Kerry. However, George Bush was the President of the United States. That is an office, a position that deserves the respect of all Americans, whether you agree or disagree with what he does or says. Does this say even more about our society? Are we a much less respectful country in general? Is chivalry and decency and respect gone?
Fox News vs CNN - Last night, I primarily watched Fox News, for obvious reasons. But, from time to time, I would flip over to CNN just to see how the election was being discussed differently. First, I found it very interesting that Fox was far more conservative in making calls for George Bush than even CNN was. CNN was more hesitant to make calls for John Kerry. I thought that was interesting. However, the perspective of each network was also different. Fox was obviously supportive of Bush, but chose to stay low-key on Bush. CNN chose to make it sound negative for Kerry much of the evening. It was an interesting contrast. Well, until Fox News gave Bush Ohio. CNN was very hesitant to do that saying they were being "extremely cautious." The other thing... Brit Hume really needs a personality. He is awful, especially compared to Wolf Blitzer and Anderson Cooper!
So, those are just some of my thoughts over the past 24 hours or so. I know they aren't popular, so I'd love to hear what you think. E-mail me.
The NBA season got started last night with just a couple of games. My favorite team, the Minnesota Timberwolves will open their season tonight against the New York Knicks (be sure to check out my Wolves Preview from yesterday). Today, I want to look at some NBA-wide thoughts that I have heading into this season on each team, some stories, as well as make some predictions.
Expansion and Re-alignment have forced the league, which now comprises thirty teams, to have three, five-team divisions in each conference. The New Orleans Hornets move into the Western Conference, something they're obviously not happy about. But what it does is makes room for the expansion Charlotte Bobcats.
The Hornets aren't happy about it because they could compete for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, but will be lucky to finish 10th in the West. Baron Davis is very good when healthy. Jamal Magloire continues to improve. Jamal Mashburn continues to be hurt a lot. Guy to watch - David West.
The Charlotte Bobcats will not be good. They essentially are comprised of a bunch of players that the other NBA teams didn't want. It will be a number of years before this team can compete. Bernie Bickerstaff is their coach. His son, former Gopher JB, is an assistant coach. Steve Smith is the team's biggest name. Emeka Okafor is probably their best player. Jahidi White is a big man! The guy I am most excited to see get a chance is Gerald Wallace who has been on the Kings bench the past three years. He should appear on highlight reels frequently.
Kevin Willis is back with the Hawks! Atlanta will be a terrible team again. They have a bunch of really old, and a bunch of really young players. I really like Josh Childress, but with Antoine Walker on the roster, will anyone else get any shots? I hope that Al Harrington fulfills his potential!
The Celtics will be improved, if only because they now have Doc Rivers. I'm glad Gary Payton decided to report to Boston. He and Paul Pierce could become a great combination. I really don't see this team as a playoff team. Much may depend on which Ricky Davis decides to show up. Talented scorer or problem!
The Chicago Bulls thought that they would continue their upward trend last year, maybe reaching the playoffs, but they took a big step backward. Eddy Curry and Tyson Chandler are now in their 4th seasons. They need to start doing something! This team has a lot of talent, but they will be counting on a bunch of rookies (Luol Deng, Ben Gordon and Andres Nicioni are the main ones). That doesn't bode well for their playoff chances.
It's Year 2 of The Lebron James Show. He's now a father, but will he take another step toward superstardom. He will certainly be an All-Star this year. He will be good, but I don't expect incredible yet. He is still young! They lost Carlos Boozer, but acquired Drew Gooden, which I think is a good pickup! But getting a couple of very good point guards who fit a role will make this team better. Eric Snow and Lucious Harris will both make this team better. I think they'll fit in the bottom couple of playoff teams in the East.
The defending champion Detroit Pistons will be tough to beat again. They were able to resign Rasheed Wallace. But this team will be what it was last year because much of it is the same. Chauncey Billups, Tayshaun Prince, Rip Hamilton and Ben Wallace are back. I would expect them to at least get to the NBA Finals!
The Pacers should be good again. Jermaine O'Neal was considered an MVP candidate by some (idiots) last year. Ron Artest makes this team go though. Good or bad, his intensity is what sparks this team! Reggie Miller is still shooting. But how far this team goes may depend on Jonathan Bender finally doing something.
Did you hear that the Miami Heat acquired a center named Shaquille O'Neal this offseason? I think that is a pretty good pickup. A lot of people want to say that the Heat could be contenders. I just don't see it. Yes, Shaq is dominant. Dwayne Wade is a great guard. Eddie Jones can still play. But after there, there isn't much, certainly little depth. If Shaq can't stay healthy, they don't have a chance. I mean, Wang ZhiZhi would have to play! If he is healthy, he's a definite MVP candidate. I think the Heat will make the playoffs, but they will struggle to get home court.
Terry Porter has his work cut out for him in Milwaukee. Again, he has very little to work with. Michael Redd can score, but what else do they have. Toni Kukoc isn't what he once was. Desmond Mason is a highlight reel waiting to happen, but not much else. This is not a good team and if they are a playoff team, Porter should be coach of the year.
Speaking of having his work cut out for him, how about what has happened to Lawrence Frank's New Jersey Nets! Kenyon Martin is gone. Jason Kidd is out for 4-6 weeks and could be traded by then too. Kerry Kittles is in LA. Richard Jefferson seems too soft to lead a team. Jason Collins and Ron Mercer are adequate at best. Brian Scalabrine's last name is fun to say though. Depending on how much more activity this team has, they may not make the playoffs either.
The Knicks won't be good again, but Isaiah Thomas has at least acquired some talent. Obviously this team is led by Stephon Marbury, which automatically means they won't win too much! Allan Houston is hurt. Jamal Crawford was a great pickup for this team and will allow Steph to play more 2 guard. I actually think that Mike Sweetney might be the key to this team, and if that's the case, the Knicks don't have a chance!
The Orlando Magic are a team that I think could surprise a lot of people. Yeah, they traded T-Mac, but look at what they got in return. Stevie Franchise is an All-Star point guard. Cuttino Mobley is a good player. Pat Garrity can shoot. Kelvin Cato will be a strong man in the middle. They had a great draft getting Dwight Howard, the high schooler, with the first pick and Jameer Nelson, the college player of the year, with the second pick. But, to me, the story is Grant Hill. He hasn't played much this millenium! If he can come back and be relatively healthy, I will be so happy for him! He is a star. He is a great ambassador for the game! I hope he can contribute. And, if all that happens, the Magic could surprise.
I don't know how to make the 76ers this year. Allan Iverson is moving back to PG. Andre Iguodala is a rookie out of Arizona who will get a lot of playing time! After that, there are nothing but question marks. Kenny Thomas has talent. Glenn Robinson has never really done anything, and all he does is score. Corliss Williamson, The Big Nasty, could be a good player for them, at least providing some intensity.
The Toronto Raptors continue to be a mess. Vince Carter is a wimp! Sure, he's talented, but he has become a jump shooter, afraid of contact. Maybe it's because of all of his injuries, but he has been a huge disappointment! But, Jalen Rose and Donyell Marshall are both very underrated players who can do a lot of things for a team! I also like Rafer Alston! Former Wolves forward Sam Mitchell has his work cut out for him! I wish him well! But, did he really want to bring Loren Woods with him? Woods has been nothing but problems wherever he's been!
The Washington Wizards are another team that will not be good. Gilbert Arenas has to stay healthy. Larry Hughes, Antwain Jamison, Kwame Brown and Brendon Hayword will also be important to the team. But they have no depth, and even these guys aren't good.
The Dallas Mavericks will be an interesting team. The Big 3 is now comprised of just Dirk Nowitzki and Michael Finley! Adding Jason Terry was a great thing, as was Erick Dampier who finally gives the Mavs an inside presence and rebounder! Jerry Stackhouse is on the roster but hurt. They're a playoff team, but home court advantage will be a question mark.
A lot of people want to pick the Denver Nuggets as a top team in the West. And, I certainly agree that they will be good. But I see them finishing 5-7 in the West. Carmelo Anthony will bring this team down. His selfishness will cause problems for the team. In basketball, chemistry is very important, and Anthony's attitude will bring them down. The best thing that could happen on this team is for Kenyon Martin to knock him down a few times in practices. Between Martin and Nene, they have a strong inside presence (along with KG's buddy, Francisco Elson!). Earl Boykins and Andre Miller are great point guards!
Golden State will be really bad again! I do like Jason Richardson, but think that both Adonal Foyle and Troy Murphy are overrated. Derek Fisher is good, but more of a role player than a starter. Eduardo Najera is new, but he's a defensive player. This team should not make the playoffs.
Houston just signed T-Mac to a long term extension. He can flat-out score, but the combination of he and Yao Ming should be quite the combination for years to come. I would like to see Yao take another step forward this year and become a legitimate star! But, other than the Big 2, this is not a strong team. They have solid, but unspectacular, veterans in Juwon Howard and Jim Jackson. They should contend for the 8th spot in the West.
The Clippers are still the Clippers. Elton Brand is still incredibly underrated despite always putting up huge numbers. Kerry Kittles and Corey Maggette make a solid couple of wing players. Marko Jaric will likely start at point guard and I think he will be good. But high school point guard Shaun Livingston could be a great distributor already this year! The key to whether this team is a playoff contender may be C Chris Kaman stepping up!
The Kobe Bryant Lakers team is one of the most intriguing stories of the season. The Lakers chose Kobe Bryant over Shaquille O'Neal. He may be the only player in the NBA more selfish than Carmelo Anthony! But I do have to say that the Lakers did a decent job in getting solid players for Shaq. Lamar Odom, if he can stay clean, can do everything! Caron Butler can score! Brian Grant is very strong on the inside. Brian Cook should make a jump into plenty of playing time. Luke Walton and Kareem Rush will play a lot. Chris Mihm will have to be the center, along with veteran Vlade Divac, and they will be very important to this team's success. I would love to say that the Fighting Kobes won't make the playoffs, but they likely will fit into the bottom half of the 8-team playoffs.
The Memphis Grizzlies moved up last yaer, but I don't see it happening again this season. Pao Gasol is great. Shane Battier, Mike Miller and Jason Williams are all solid. They have no depth. Brian Cardinal is another Mark Madsen, except with a little shooting touch. I was shocked to hear that the Grizzlies waived G Troy Bell, their top pick just one year ago. That makes no sense!
Steve Nash is back in Phoenix. He has plenty of guys to pass it to though! Shawn Marion is a great all-around player. Quentin Richardson can shoot. Joe Johnson can slash. Amare Stoudamire is so strong! And don't forget my man, Leondrino Barbosa!! The Suns will be in the playoffs, fighting for the 4th seed with Nash's old team, the Mavs.
The Blazers could be good, but we'll see. Shareef Abdur-Rahim is great! Hopefully he'll be a Wolves player this season! Zach Randolph has a great breakout season last year. I don't see him staying at that same level! Darius Miles has to step up! The Blazers took Stephon Marbury's cousin, high-schooler Sebastian Telfair, with their first round pick. The point guard will be able to learn under the tutelage of Damon Stoudemire and Nick Van Exel. That can't be a good thing!!
A lot of people thought that when the Kings lost to the Wolves in the playoffs last year, their team would be greatly different. In the summer, Peja Stojacovik asked for a trade. Well, he's back, and so are Chris Webber, Mike Bibby, Doug Christie, Brad Miller and Bobby Jackson. This will still be a very good team, and would be my pick to win their division!
I think that along with the Wolves, the Spurs are the team to beat in the West. Next to KG, Tim Duncan is the best player in basketball! Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili are still young and continue to get better. Rasho needs to only be solid. Brent Barry is another one of those players who can do so much, handle the ball, pass, shoot. He will be a huge addition to the Spurs team.
Poor Nate McMillan. The Sonics are going to be horrible, maybe the worst team in the West. Ray Allen is a superstar, unfortunately a star who has been hurt frequently. After that, there isn't much positive to say about this team. Rashard Lewis can shoot. They can hope Nick Collison is healthy and worth of his first round pick.
Andrei Kirilenko is the best unknown player in the NBA. The wiry Russian can score, defend, block shots, pass, dribble, everything! Carlos Boozer upset the Cavs and signed with the Jazz adding muscle to the roster. Mehmet Okur used a couple of decent games last year with the Pistons and turned it into a ridiculously large contract. Carlos Arroyo will become a star. Former Gopher ball hog Kris Humphries should get plenty of playing time off the bench. This is a team that will fight for a playoff spot.
So there you have it, a quick look at all of the NBA teams. As you can tell, there are just a few teams in the East that are very good. But they're good enough to play with anyone. The West is again stacked, with a lot of teams vying for the eight playoff spots.
Quickly, here are my thoughts on some of the Post-Season awards:
MVP - Kevin Garnett, Timberwolves
Rookie of the Year - Andre Iguodala, 76ers
First Team All-NBA - Garnett, Tim Duncan, Tracy McGrady, Allen Iverson, Kobe Bryant
Eastern Conference Champion - Detroit Pistons
Western Conference Champion - Minnesota Timberwolves
NBA Champion - Minnesota Timberwolves.
So, what do you think? Are you excited for the NBA season to get started? Who are your favorite players? Who would your surprise players or teams be? Any thoughts on the game? E-mail me.
Jim Bunning won his
tenth straight election to represent Kentucky in Congress. He was
expected to win easily, but the 71 year old former major league
pitcher has said a number of dumb things of late. But, he did win
the vote over the Democratic candidate by a very slim margin!
Bunning was elected into baseball's Hall of Fame in 1996. He pitched
for the Tigers, Phillies, Pirates and Dodgers over his 17 season
career. He went 224-184 with a 3.27 ERA. He won 20 games in a season
just once, but won 19 games four other times!
Wally Backman was named the
Arizona Diamondbacks manager the other day. I am thrilled at
this selection. Awhile back, when the Mariners selected Mike
Hargrove, I discussed how I hated when managers just continue to be
recycled. Well, Backman is getting his first major league managerial
opportunity and I think that is a good thing. Unlike Ozzie Guillen,
Backman has eight years of minor league managerial experience. In
that time, he was awarded as minor league manager of the year once.
So, I like that he is a new manager getting a chance. I like that he
worked his way through the minor leagues. And finally, I like that
he was a successful major league player (14 year career) as well. I
think that gives the players the knowledge that their manager has
been there, has experienced many of the same things that they
experience. I think that's important.
Yankees Get The Big Unit
- With the Hot Stove League upon us, we will hear a lot of
rumors in the coming weeks. Yesterday, it came out that the Yankees
are now offering C Jorge Posada to the Arizona Diamondbacks in
exchange for Randy Johnson. Actually, I think that the Yankees would
have to add more to make the D-Backs bite, but it would be an
incredible trade for the Yankees. First, I think that Posada is a
very good catcher, but he is hitting the age where catchers start to
decline. The Yankees also have top catching prospect Dionner Navarro
ready and waiting in the wings. But obviously, the big key for them
is to get Randy Johnson, arguably the most dominant pitcher in all
AL Gold Gloves - Twins
fans... Torii Hunter won his fourth straight Gold Glove Award
yesterday, as the AL winners were announced. I am just guessing, but
it doesn't take much to realize that the blogging world will be
bashing the AL SS winner. With Alex Rodriguez moved to 3B, Derek
Jeter won his first Gold Glove. First, I have to say that Jeter is
not a terrible SS. However, him winning a Gold Glove is like Pedro
Martinez winning the AL Cy Young Award this year. Sure, Pedro is
still good, but clearly there are a number of Pitchers who had
better seasons. Jeter is not a great shortstop. His range is poor
and he doesn't react well to the ball off the bat. I may sound like
a homer, but this year Cristian Guzman should have won the Gold
Glove in the AL. But, let's be honest, Jeter has the bigger name.
Oh, but I am very happy that Darin Erstad won the Gold Glove at 1B!
That's it for today. If you have any questions, comments or ideas
for future topics, please
e-mail me. Back to Archives
Jim Bunning won his tenth straight election to represent Kentucky in Congress. He was expected to win easily, but the 71 year old former major league pitcher has said a number of dumb things of late. But, he did win the vote over the Democratic candidate by a very slim margin! Bunning was elected into baseball's Hall of Fame in 1996. He pitched for the Tigers, Phillies, Pirates and Dodgers over his 17 season career. He went 224-184 with a 3.27 ERA. He won 20 games in a season just once, but won 19 games four other times!
Wally Backman was named the Arizona Diamondbacks manager the other day. I am thrilled at this selection. Awhile back, when the Mariners selected Mike Hargrove, I discussed how I hated when managers just continue to be recycled. Well, Backman is getting his first major league managerial opportunity and I think that is a good thing. Unlike Ozzie Guillen, Backman has eight years of minor league managerial experience. In that time, he was awarded as minor league manager of the year once. So, I like that he is a new manager getting a chance. I like that he worked his way through the minor leagues. And finally, I like that he was a successful major league player (14 year career) as well. I think that gives the players the knowledge that their manager has been there, has experienced many of the same things that they experience. I think that's important.
Yankees Get The Big Unit - With the Hot Stove League upon us, we will hear a lot of rumors in the coming weeks. Yesterday, it came out that the Yankees are now offering C Jorge Posada to the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for Randy Johnson. Actually, I think that the Yankees would have to add more to make the D-Backs bite, but it would be an incredible trade for the Yankees. First, I think that Posada is a very good catcher, but he is hitting the age where catchers start to decline. The Yankees also have top catching prospect Dionner Navarro ready and waiting in the wings. But obviously, the big key for them is to get Randy Johnson, arguably the most dominant pitcher in all of baseball!
AL Gold Gloves - Twins fans... Torii Hunter won his fourth straight Gold Glove Award yesterday, as the AL winners were announced. I am just guessing, but it doesn't take much to realize that the blogging world will be bashing the AL SS winner. With Alex Rodriguez moved to 3B, Derek Jeter won his first Gold Glove. First, I have to say that Jeter is not a terrible SS. However, him winning a Gold Glove is like Pedro Martinez winning the AL Cy Young Award this year. Sure, Pedro is still good, but clearly there are a number of Pitchers who had better seasons. Jeter is not a great shortstop. His range is poor and he doesn't react well to the ball off the bat. I may sound like a homer, but this year Cristian Guzman should have won the Gold Glove in the AL. But, let's be honest, Jeter has the bigger name. Oh, but I am very happy that Darin Erstad won the Gold Glove at 1B!
That's it for today. If you have any questions, comments or ideas for future topics, please e-mail me.
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