Hello again everybody...
Welcome back from a long holiday weekend! I had a great time hanging with my family on Monday, so I hope your weekend was restful and relaxing as well.
I don't know about you, but for me, so much happened over the three-day break that it all sort of blurred together. So today my goal is to sit down, try to sort out some of my thoughts, and bring you the best in brief recaps of some of the bigger sports stories.
Sounds like Notes column time, eh?
Right after the quote...
”No human thing is of serious importance.”
- Plato (427 BC - 347 BC), Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician and founder of the Academy in Athens
I liked this one because combined with the Memorial Day holiday we just observed, it serves as a reminder that as much as I enjoy, ponder, and dissect sports, ultimately they're quite low on the scale of what's really important in life.
Not that I'm going to stop blogging about it... I'm just sayin...
So let's get to some...
The Blackhawks lead the Flyers 2-0 in the Stanley Cup Finals... and I'm really finding it difficult to care.
Don't get me wrong, it's been some entertaining hockey. Game one was a barn-burner that Chicago won 6-5. Game two was more of a defensive battle that the Hawks won 2-1.
But I'm struggling to give a rip because I don't particularly care for either club.
If I go by Hammer's Playoff Manifesto, then I'd have to root for Chicago, because rule #2 clearly states, “Always cheer against the Flyers, no matter what.”
I've got no problem rooting against the Flyers. First of all, the Hammer is about the third nicest guy on the planet. It takes a lot to piss him off. So I'm willing to trust that if a team has earned his ire, they fully deserve it.
Secondly, the Flyers have more than their fair share of players that I don't care for. Dan Carcillo is a loud-mouthed punk. And I'm not sure I can ever root for a team with Chris Pronger on it. Have you seen this story about Pronger grabbing the game-puck after the first two games? The hell with tradition, Chris is going to be as big a doosh as he wants to be! Atta boy, Chris!
The problem is, rooting against Philadelphia means I have to root for Chicago. That doesn't really work for me either.
I'm still a North Stars fan at heart. That would be the former Minnesota NHL Franchise, not the cruel, sick bastardization that currently resides in Dallas, mind you. As a North Stars fan, it was ingrained in me early and often to despise the Blackhawks. It's nothing personal, they were just Minnesota's fiercest rivals.
The North Stars played them a ton during the regular season, and with the old playoff system where the first two rounds were played against teams in your own division, they played a bevy of playoff series as well. Familiarity and geographic proximity breed more than a little contempt when it comes to hockey.
So trying to convince me that rooting for Chicago is a good idea is kind of like trying to convince the Gulf Coast wildlife to root for BP... probably not going to happen.
When I don't like either team, it's just tough to care. Even if it is still the greatest post-season in all of pro sports.
Roy Halladay pitched the 20th perfect game in MLB history and the second one this season... now this I care about!
Halladay faced and retired the minimum 27 hitters on Saturday night for the second perfect game of the 2010 season... and it's only June.
To put that in perspective, the last time two perfect games were thrown in the same season, Wabash, Indiana, had just become the first electrically-lighted city in the world; Thomas Edison was performing the first test of his electric railway in New Jersey; and James Garfield was defeating Civil War hero Winfield Scott Hancock for the Presidency.
That's right, it was 1880!
Someone else can do the math on how many tens of thousands of starts occurred between that season and this season, but the number will be staggering, I assure you.
The question now becomes, with 4+ months left in the season, can 2010 become the first time there have ever been three perfect games pitched in a single season? It's not probable, but who knows? With the way that guys like Ubaldo Jimenez, David Price and - dare I suggest it - Roy Halladay are pitching, it's not out of the realm of possibility.
No player has ever thrown more than one “perfecto” in his career. Would it really floor anybody to see Doc do it twice in the same season? The guy's been flat-out dominant this season, and it's clear that the move to the NL hasn't bothered him a bit. If anything, it's made him even more intimidating for opposing teams. Now the opposition doesn't have a DH to throw at him. Instead he gets to feast on .150+ hitting pitchers. Oof.
That kind of history, and that kind of potential to make history are what make baseball so special to me.
It's the Celtics vs. the Lakers! It's the NBA Finals! It starts Thursday night! … and I couldn't possibly care less.
Look, even though I can't stand watching the NBA, I'll admit that I got sucked in by these two clubs facing off in the Finals in 2008. The Celtics and the Lakers have faced each other in more championship series than any other two teams in all of pro sports. That's the kind of factoid that scratches me right where I itch.
But that was two years ago, and they're not going to suck me in again.
Kevin Garnett has won his title and thanked Minnesota for helping him get to a situation where he could win it, and I've pretty much moved on. At this point, he's just another aging veteran who spazzes out now and again and tries to break the arm of a defender who dares put his hand on his hip prior to an inbounds play.
Paul Pierce flops like he's been shot any time someone lays a finger on him. Kendrick Perkins is one more technical foul away from a stretch in San Quentin. I guess we're supposed to think that Rajon Rondo is the next big thing, but I can't really get work up the motivation to care there either
As for the Lakers? Kobe Bryant? Please. He's the most supremely talented doosh this side of Chris Pronger. Ron Artest has managed to make it an entire season in southern California without killing anybody (that we know of), so that's... something. Pau Gasol is the 6-times-running winner of the “Ugliest Player in all of Pro Sports” award. And with all due respect to the record number of championships that Phil Jackson has won, he's so incredibly arrogant that I want to reach through the TV and slap him.
(The really ought to make a TV that allowed that, shouldn't they? “Slap-O-Vision” or whatever. Are you telling me that reality TV stars who debase themselves for money as a career wouldn't be willing to take a few smacks across the mandible if it meant a few extra bucks? I think they would!)
So I guess what I'm saying is... The NBA Finals! … Meh.
Rookie phenom Stephen Strasburg is set to make his MLB debut on June 8th... at home... against the Pirates.
Think the Washington brain-trust isn't trying to give this kid every chance to be successful right out of the gate?
I'll admit it. I'm intrigued.
A lot of pitchers have been slapped with the “Next Big Thing” tag, and most of them have flamed out spectacularly. But so far in his brief career, Strasburg has lived up to the hype. Now, that could all change once big league hitters have a crack at him. But if anybody seems prepared to handle the challenge, it's Strasburg.
What's makes the story even more interesting to me is the fact that he's coming to the Nationals at a time when they're actually relevant. Who would've thought we'd be saying that in June?! Sure the Nats still reside in the cellar of the NL East, but with the Phillies recent struggles (they're 2-8 in their last 10 games), Washington is only 4.5 games out of first place.
So what happens if Strasburg comes up and starts dominating games? What happens if he takes some heat off the bullpen and allows the rest of the starters to slot in more appropriate spots in the rotation? What if this team with more young talent than I gave them credit for gets on a roll?
Suddenly the NL East would be up for grabs for any of the five teams in that division. When was the last time we could say that about any division in baseball?!
Back in Spring Training, I said that if the Nationals were playing in my kitchen I wouldn't get off the couch to go watch them (unless Strasburg was pitching). I couldn't be happier to say that once again, baseball has proven me wrong.
(Hope you're happy, Uncle Tim!)
That's going to wrap things up for today. I'll be back on Friday with the usual week-ender!
Until then, thanks for reading!