June 7, 2009

MLB’s investigating arm is like a hungry dog with a bone. They’re going to gnaw on the entire league. Most recently, the Angels were looked at and Bill
Shankin wrote in the LA Times, “Reporting from Detroit — The Angels fired international scouting director Clay Daniel upon receiving information from
baseball’s investigative arm that connected him with improprieties in the signing of prospects in Venezuela, a source familiar with the probe said Friday.
The source was granted anonymity because he is not authorized to discuss the issue publicly.
The investigators appear focused on Daniel.
The Angels’ media guide lists 17 minor leaguers from Venezuela, variously signed by scouts Amador Arias, Leo Perez, Carlos Porte, Denny Suarez and
Cesar Velasquez.
Arias left the organization several years ago, but the other four scouts remain employed by the Angels, club spokesman Tim Mead said Friday.
Baseball’s investigative unit, born out of Sen. George Mitchell’s report on the steroid era, has interviewed representatives of nearly every team amid
allegations that some scouts kept a share of bonus money intended for Latin American prospects and others signed players whose ages were falsified.
Daniel said Friday he had met with major league investigators but said neither he nor the scouts working for him had done anything wrong.
He said he did not know what allegations might have been relayed from the investigators to the Angels.
“I have no earthly idea,” he said.
Could he say that he and his scouts had neither skimmed bonus money nor participated in age falsification?
“Yes, sir,” he said.
The long-running investigation has been linked to the firing of Chicago White Sox player personnel director Dave Wilder last year and the resignation of
Washington Nationals general manager Jim Bowden this spring.” 

Bruce Jenkins and Wilbon talked about how poorly the Magic played in Game-1 of the NBA Finals:                                                                                                                  
From Jenkins- “The Celtics had the nerve to make it personal. They attacked Kobe Bryant with their bodies, their strategy and their minds in last year’s
NBA Finals, finally breaking his spirit. The Orlando Magic chose a different route in Game 1 Thursday night, opting for reverence and a bizarre lack of
energy. If there’s a reliable theme through playoff history, it’s that consecutive games rarely bear any resemblance to each other. Disturbing trends get reversed, shut-down players become unstoppable and premature conclusions (“It’s over”) get put in their place. Still, you wonder if there’s any trace of Celtic pride in Orlando. To a man – and this is just inexcusable – they all said the team was “flat” for Thursday night’s Game 1. Asked for a solution to
Bryant’s 40-point dominance, Dwight Howard suggested, “Pray.” Mickael Pietrus said Kobe is viewed as “a legend” in the Orlando locker room, “so what
can you do?” Perhaps they should choose the off-days
to review exactly what happened last year. Figuring their offense would come naturally from a trio of future Hall of Famers, the Celtics focused exclusively
on Bryant. They smothered him with a floating zone, pestered him with hand-checking, and frustrated him with hard fouls. The primary assignments went to a couple of superb defensive players, Paul Pierce and James Posey, with the snarling Kevin Garnett down low.                                                                                                                                                
It seems hard to believe now, the way Bryant has steamrolled through the playoffs, but the Celtics actually shut him down. He shot 9-for-26 during the
Game 1 loss in Boston, went 6-for-19 during a home loss in Game 4, struggled at 8-for-21 as the Lakers stayed alive in Game 5, then completely
disappeared in the decisive Game 6 in Boston. The box score shows 22 points, but Bryant shot 7-for-22, didn’t make a field goal between the 5:30 mark of
the first quarter and 7:09 of the third, and didn’t seem to care if he ever scored again.                                                                                                                   
This is why the comparisons with Michael Jordan won’t ever work. If you’re too young to have appreciated Jordan’s prime-of-life performances, you get a
pretty solid impression from Bryant. It’s just that Jordan never let up, never stopped dominating. He averaged 33.4 points per playoff game in his career,
and the only time he averaged under 30 in any postseason was his rookie year (1984-85) – at 29.3.      
Give Kobe a ton of credit. He’s on the verge of some personal history, a fourth NBA title, as he leaves LeBron James and everyone else in his wake. The
accomplishment will be especially significant if Orlando decides to compete.                                                                                                       
From Wilbon: “Why a team would give less-than-maximum effort in Game 1 of the NBA Finals is impossible to understand, especially when the head coach
is as impassioned as Stan Van Gundy.                                                                                                              
But effort, as we saw with the Lakers, is almost always in professional basketball co-signed by the star player. Orlando has only one: Howard. He was stung by criticism that he doesn’t have the intensity to carry his team to a championship. And it’s true, he is an engaging man who simply doesn’t scowl
naturally. He’s what people used to call “introducible.” He’s lovely, really, well-mannered, never disagreeable. He’s a corporate sponsor’s dream, always
well turned out, perfectly groomed, appropriate. But this series puts him in the water with a shark in Kobe, who played Game 1 with so much “grrrrrrrrrr!”
that his own teammates seemed scared not to follow him.                                               
 The Lakers, when they’ve had trouble the past two postseasons, have struggled against big, tough, physical players who pushed them around and
dominated the game three feet from the rim. The Magic has only one player who can do that, and whatever his demeanor on Sunday, it’s certain he’ll need
to take more than six shots in Game 2 and hit more than one to make this a real series. Probably, Phil Jackson would prefer Howard not make him look
like a genius just now.


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