July 9, 2010

Mark Heisler, the NBA reporter for the LA  Times, had this to say about the LeBron noise.

“Goodbye, Golden Child.

Ending the greatest recruiting war in NBA history — and his career-long honeymoon — LeBron James announced Thursday he’ll sign with the Miami Heat, creating the most controversial team since Shaquille O’Neal met Kobe Bryant and leaving a smoking crater in Cleveland.

In so doing, James did everything skeptics said he wouldn’t.

He didn’t go for the most money, spurning $128 million in Cleveland for $99 million in Miami.

He didn’t insist on having his own team. joining a superstar ensemble in Wade County, which was Dade County before it was temporarily renamed to help
keep Dwyane Wade.

After seven seasons of carrying Mo Williams, Anderson Varejao and Co., James now has Wade and Chris Bosh on an East power as glamorous as the
Lakers, the heretofore-unchallenged kings of glitz.

(By the way, if Jerry Buss is still looking to unload Lamar Odom to save money, someone should tell him to hold up.)

Shaq and Kobe needed years together to make the Lakers soap opera idols, or enough-already villains.

James did it for the Heat in one day, selling his announcement to ESPN as a one-hour special, serving himself up to his critics like a roast pig with an apple in its mouth.

Despite the storm about to break over his head, James had every right to leave, if it meant breaking every heart in Ohio (and driving owner Dan Gilbert off the edge, which would explain his open letter noting “our former hero … deserted this evening … [in a] narcissistic, self-promotional build-up culminating with a national TV special of his ‘decision’ unlike anything ever ‘witnessed’ in the history of sports and probably the history of entertainment.'”)

After seven years, all the Cavaliers had around James were people like Williams, Antawn Jamison, J.J. Hickson and Delonte West.

James nonetheless spent last week trying to get Bosh or Amare Stoudemire to join him.

Only after Bosh turned down a sign-and-trade did James turn toward Miami.

As a basketball decision, it was arguably OK, although Chicago had the better, deeper roster.

As TV — and a reflection on James — it was a disaster.

Injured elbow or no injured elbow, it was inevitable that James would be bashed after his second-round pratfall against the Celtics.

ESPN’s Skip Bayless, who had long insisted James was Scottie Pippen, not Michael Jordan, gave him a “D as in Dog-minus.”

Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski called him a “narcissist” who “quit on his teammates … a young Alex Rodriguez, so insecure with himself and his MVP awards, so desperate to find validation in the courtship of free agency.”

Lo and behold, James, who had accommodated only frenzy to this point, then made his deal with the devil, dressed as ESPN.

James, who once flew to Nebraska to meet Warren Buffett, prides himself on his business acumen. In the real world, he and his “people” — friends from high school — are children dressing up as adults.

The over/under on how long ESPN would withhold the news turned out to be an incredible 27 minutes, 17 more than a network exec had announced.

Rather than go low-key, ESPN gave it the full self-important, self-referencing treatment:

6:00 — Stuart Scott intro, blah, blah.

6:01 — Recent James interview, saying, “At the end of the day, we all know this is a business.”

6:02— Panel discussion, blah blah.

6:11 — Graphics with James in Cavaliers, Heat, Bulls, Nets and Knicks uniforms.

6:12 — Scott: “Coming up, it’s the decision we’ve all been waiting for — the King will chose his next court!”

6:13 — Three-minute commercial break for search engine, designer water, insurance company, fast-food chain and promos for telecasts of All-Star Home Run Derby and the World Cup.

6:16 — James interview from 2008 saying, “At the end of the day we all know this is a business.”

6:17 — Last canvas of ESPN panel. Notes Jon Barry of James: “He doesn’t look happy.”

6:19 — Another three-minute commercial break for the search engine, insurance company, et al.

6:22 — They finally go to Jim Gray with James.

With the audience hanging on every word, awaiting The Decision, as ESPN calls it, Gray, a real newsman who had been handpicked by James and had
allowed himself to be dragged into this to play emcee, asks:

1. What has James been doing?

2. What has he thought about this process?

3. Did he enjoy it?

4. What did he expect?

5. How many people know his decision?

6. Can they be counted on one hand or two?

7. When did he decide?

8. When did he last change his mind?

9. Did the team he’s going to know?

10. Who did he ask for advice?

11. What was the major factor?

12. How deep did the evaluation process go?

13. Did he have any doubt?

13. Did he want to sleep on it or would he announce it now?

And, most incredibly:

14. “You still a nail-biter?

At 6:27, perhaps having run out of chit-chat, Gray asked what The Decision was.

“This is tough,” James said later, having lined up more help on the floor and, if he had no idea, a legion of haters off it.

“It’s very tough because you feel like you let a lot of people down.”

He doesn’t know the half of it.”

Let’s get back to baseball!                                                                                                                                      Ken Davidoff of Newsday echoed all of the wondering by Mets’ fans about the addition of another starter.

“’Pretty much every team within five games of the playoffs” has called the Mariners about Cliff Lee, a person familiar with the situation said Wednesday on the condition of anonymity.
Taken literally, that’s 17 contending clubs, and you can count our Mets and Yankees as absolutely having kept tabs on the best available pitcher.
But the Mets have a special burden among those 17, it seems. They must prove, still, to their skeptical fan base that they’re not financially strapped.
Whether it’s Lee, Ted Lilly, Roy Oswalt or some unforeseen player, such an acquisition would serve dual positive purposes for the Mets:
1. It would improve the Mets’ chances of making the playoffs.
2. It would drive the Mets further away from Bernie Madoff.
Two of the contenders, the Rangers and Dodgers, are undeniably strapped, with paperwork to back it up. The Rangers find themselves tied up in bankruptcy court until they change owners, while the Dodgers’ owners Frank and Jamie McCourt continue their grisly divorce proceedings and battle for control of the team.
The Mets, however? We just don’t know.
Yes, we learned that they took a hit from Madoff, but only the Wilpons understand just how bad the damage truly was, vis-à-vis their overall assets. And as much as it sometimes seems that the Mets have skimped since the December 2008 Madoff revelation, the evidence is more gray.
They cut their payroll by roughly $15 million over the offseason. Yet they’ve countered some of that already by selecting Matt Harvey, a Scott Boras client who will not sign cheap, in last month’s amateur draft. And now they’re looking to spend a few more million on an upgrade in their starting rotation, essentially writing off the rehabilitating Oliver Perez as a sunk cost.
If the Mets don’t make a trade this month because they can’t afford to do so? Then Omar Minaya is wasting not only his own time right now, but also that of many opposing teams’ officials.
Minaya and his staff are operating under the belief that they can add payroll. That doesn’t mean that Oswalt, owed some $25 million, is coming in return for the top prospects the Astros want. We’d rip such a trade, as it wouldn’t make baseball sense.
Lilly and his $6 million, however? Doable. The Cubs are starting to get serious about dealing the former Yankees lefthander, and Lilly is going to be less in
demand than Lee. The Mets like Lilly’s flyball tendencies and his New York experience. This could definitely work, even though a look at Lilly’s peripheral statistics show that he has benefited from luck this season.
Lee? Mariners people insist that, if they can’t top the underwhelming package that Philadelphia got from Seattle last winter, then there will be no deal.
A one-year payroll cut, considering all of the other factors in play, shouldn’t set off any alarms. But of course, these are the Mets we’re talking about. Their
fans aren’t in a very forgiving mood after the Collapses of 2007 and 2008 and last year’s debacle.
To their credit, the Mets are utilizing outreach programs like the free tickets for former season-ticket holders. And they drafted Harvey. And, you know,
they’re playing very good baseball, last night’s 3-1 home loss to Cincinnati notwithstanding.
The next step comes between now and July 31. With a better pitcher will come a better pitch. “We believe in comebacks,” this team’s slogan, would carry even greater weight with a shiny, new addition to the starting rotation.”


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