Dreams Blog

March 28, 2014

Vick-tory- I Think Not
I’ve never liked Michael Vick’s game. I’ve thought he’s always been more of a self-promoting divisive force than a uniting one; but, maybe I’m wrong.
Rich Cimini (ESPNNY.com) took a similar track, “It sounded like Idzik was reading from talking points, emphasizing their objective is to build for the long term. Example: “When we define winning, it’s not winning the first week of free agency, it’s not winning the draft, it’s not winning our preseason games. (Don’t tell that to Ryan, who sacrificed a quarterback last summer to win the MetLife Snoopy trophy). It’s winning going forward in what we do. It’s sustainable success.” Unless he’s playing to play only one corner in the base defense, they’d better start doing some winning in this offseason.”
The Big Orange Said
Ian Begely (ESPNNY.com) talked about the Syracuse U. b-ball coach, Jim Boeheim who said about Carmelo Anthony and Phil Jackson, “Boeheim believes Jackson is a huge addition to the Knicks’ front office, but must attract a “difference-maker” to help Anthony, who will turn 31 in 2015. “I think Phil Jackson brings a lot of credibility to that organization, $12 million worth,” Boeheim said with a laugh. “Sixty [million over five years], that’s a lot. I’m sure he’s going to have the power to do things. It is a good place to play but it hinges so much on who can you really get to come there? Can you get a difference-maker? It’s a lot more stable when you have something like Indiana where they have a bunch of good players. But it’s how they figure this out. Phil Jackson, The Zen Master, also said that on the U.S. Olympic team, Anthony doesn’t have to do as much because he’s surrounded by stars like LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant and “that he can play a role if he has to play a role.”
Boeheim echoed those thoughts.
“He plays better on the Olympic team because he doesn’t have to do as much,” he said. “He doesn’t have to work that hard. He has to work too hard here [with the Knicks]. It’s too much. He gets the ball in one-on-one situations with 10 seconds left and he has to go and make a play over a good defender with help. He’d be much better [with more help]. On the Olympic team he shoots 55 percent from the field, 50 percent from 3 because he’s getting good shots without having to go one-on-one all the time.
“He’d be much better with some guys like that.”
Molinaro Maranara
Here are a few college b-ball thoughts from Bob Molinaro, “Lord, have Mercer! Duke’s loss Friday – the way Mercer closed things out with a 20-8 run – cements my belief that this was Mike Krzyzewski’s worst team in many years as far as basketball IQ is concerned. Its lack of defensive cohesion, revealed by how easily Mercer beat the Blue Devils off the dribble and with cuts to the basket, was very un-Duke like, except this sort of thing happened too often all season. It wasn’t the mentally or physically toughest team, either. Fit Mercer with the glass slipper, but Duke was overrated.
At 71, crusty former UConn coach Jim Calhoun reportedly wants to be considered for the vacant Boston College job. He’s got a resume of winning. But if longevity is an issue, a better choice among New England prospects might be Harvard’s Tommy Amaker, whose team beat Cincinnati Thursday in the NCAAs.”
A Cote Mote
Greg Cote (Miami Herald) said that, “Tiger Woods withdrew from another tournament amid concerns his balky back might still be bothering him during next month’s Masters. The question of Tiger used to be, ‘Is he back?’ Now it’s, ‘Is his back back?’”
Yo Adrian!!!
I was watching a TV ad for Rocky, The Broadway musical and began thinking about the original Rocky- Chuck Wepner. Wepner was a journeyman fighter not a “ham-and-egger” or a “tomato can” in any way. He came by his nickname, “The Bayonne Bleeder” honestly and with good reason.
I was talking with Randy Newman one night at the Hammerstein Ballroom (when I was still could walk), before the evenings first bout of a Lou DiBella sponsored Broadway Boxing card. I said that he and Chuck Wepner fought some historical matches and he told me about their match in March of ’74. This was the type of night where the first three rows of fans would have been better off wearing raincoats as if they were going to attend a Gallagher concert (Wepner and Newman fought three times and none of their fights went the distance). In that fight, as with their other meetings, there was a lot of blood all over the place.
During one clinch Wepner asked referee Tony Perez not to stop the fight on cuts because he was going to sign a deal to meet Muhammed Ali for a big payday. Perez told Wepner it wasn’t his blood, it belonged to Newman. Chuck said, “You better stop the fight, Tony, before this guy bleeds to death.”
Wepner finished with a 35-14, 17 KO record. Wepner met Ali in 3/75 and was stopped in the 15th by TKO (on cuts, naturally). Newman was 31-3, 11 KO.
Brendan Alert
Brad Dickson (Omaha World-Herald) on the pro-rasslin’ dinner theater in Kissimee, FL., “This is for diners who don’t mind when a 450-pound Russian lands on their salad.”
Web Gem Dept.
Dwight Perry (Seattle Times) noted that, “The world wide web turned 25.
Coincidence? 1989 was also the last year the Oakland A’s strung together three W’s in a World Series”
More Dwight
“The Dodgers and Diamondbacks open the 2014 baseball season in Australia.
‘If the teams get off to a bad start,’ wondered Jerry Perisho, ‘will their entire season go down the drain counterclockwise?’”
Jobs Plan
The Sports Curmudgeon quoted Brad Dickson (Omaha World-Herald), “The Oakland A’s are advertising for employees to spend next season running around the field in mascot heads. Finally, the Obama jobs plan begins to pay dividends.”

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Dreams Blog

March 21, 2014

Final Four
I have Florida, Virginia, Louisville, and Creighton as my Final Four and Florida winning the whole thing. But remember, my record is terrible.
Roster Feng Shui
Ohm Youngmusic (ESPNNY.com) wrote about the tasks facing Phil Jackson. “Jackson will have to find a way to apply his own brand of feng shui to Madison Square Garden and the disorganized clutter that is the Knicks.
Moving some of the expensive furniture to improve the balance and flow of the Knicks’ energy is now the biggest basketball challenge of Jackson’s career. Convincing Michael Jordan to sacrifice his ego, coaxing Scottie Pippen to get over Toni Kukoc and getting Kobe and Shaq to coexist and play nice is child’s play compared to fixing the Knicks. Jackson’s first major decision to meditate on is whether to keep Carmelo Anthony as the franchise’s centerpiece. Can Jackson build championship harmony around Anthony? Does Anthony have the kind of greatness in him that Jackson has been so fortunate to have been surrounded by throughout his charmed basketball life?
Should Jackson decide to build around Anthony, then Melo should listen to Jackson’s plan and stay. While Anthony likely won’t have Jackson to coach him, the Knicks’ superstar should see if Jackson’s tutelage can have a transformative effect on his game. All the proof he needs is to look at the profound and lasting impact the former Bulls and Lakers coach had on Jordan and his good friend Kobe Bryant. We had a statement that we must have repeated so many times to the players,” Jackson once said in an interview with Oprah Winfrey on OWN. “No man is an island. No man goes his way alone. What I put into the lives of others will come back into its own.” “Those words, sometimes, are difficult for the boys to hear,” Jackson said of the “no man is an island” statement. “So then I would say, ‘Do you understand what I’m saying? No man goes his way alone. We’re in this together.'”
While Melo isn’t yet a top-50 all-time great like MJ or Kobe, he is a top-10 talent with top-three scoring ability in today’s NBA. For all the things Melo does well, he still can improve on the two most vital skills for an elite superstar — winning in the playoffs and making his teammates better.
Those are two of Jackson’s strengths. It remains to be seen whether Anthony, who turns 30 at the end of May, can still improve and make that great leap from elite scorer to ultimate winner.
But Jackson, more than anybody else, can show Melo how he doesn’t have to do everything on his own and hopefully provide him with the kind of supporting cast he desperately needs.
“Carmelo has to be a better passer,” Jackson told HBO’s Real Sports in 2012. “And the ball can’t stop every time it hits his hands. They need to have someone come in that can kinda blend that group together.” “Anthony says,” Ohm Youngmusk (ESPNNN.com) wrote, “He will opt out of his contract and become a free agent this summer. He can re-sign with the Knicks to a max deal worth $129 million over five years. If he signs with another team, he can do so for four years and $96 million, barring a sign-and-trade. “As far as knowing what it takes to win, Phil is the best to ever do it,” Anthony said. “So for me to be able to have the opportunity and have him by my side, for him to teach me, you know, because I’m still willing to learn the game of basketball. “And I haven’t won anything [and] he’s won a lot. I can learn a lot from him and his system, things that he wants to incorporate here. I’m hoping and praying this all works. “From a basketball standpoint, he’s a great mind to dissect,” Amar’e Stoudemire said. “And also from a spiritual standpoint, he is known as the Zen guy, so that would be great to sit down and have a great conversation with him.”
“Everybody as an organization, as a city, as a whole, our fans in general as well, everybody’s excited to see that,” Anthony said. “We are playing good basketball right now too, so it’s like a lot of things coming into place right now.”
How-Evah
Stephen A. Smith (ESPNNY.com) gives us a warning, “Before New York Knicks fans get themselves all up in a tizzy just because Phil Jackson is coming to town, they would be wise to check the fine print, scour the particulars and triple-check exactly what stipulations owner James Dolan has insisted upon. Because, chances are, the Knicks’ billionaire chairman didn’t institute real change. In fact, I believe he plans on keeping things just the way they have been.
Which means Jackson will primarily serve as a figurehead — a prop — to fend off the media. Which means Carmelo Anthony will see right through it all and leave the team this summer. Which means that no real marquee free agent will want to come to Madison Square Garden, unless it’s only for the money.
Oops, I forgot — Hello, Mr. Phil Jackson. How ya doing? Question: Why, exactly, did you take this job? To be fair, no aspersions should be cast against a man with 11 championship rings and two more as a player with the Knicks in 1970 and 1973. Show me the fool who’d turn down a $12 million per-year deal to run a franchise, and we’ll have learned what a new fool looks like.”
Sports Recap
From Greg Cote (Miami Herald), “Bacardi Sailing Week ended. Nobody finished the race because everybody was too drunk on rum.”
“Idaho hockey fans are suing a Boise arena for selling large beers with the same amount as small beers. That’s shocking. Who knew there were hockey fans in Idaho?”
Dwight Perry (Seattle Times) Says- “Peavy Does It”
“Red Sox pitcher Jake Peavy finally made his spring-training debut after he cut a finger with a fishing knife.
Coincidence? Scouts say he suddenly has a much nastier hook and sinker.”

Dreams Blog-Extra

March 20, 2014

I was watching a TV ad for Rocky, The Broadway musical and began thinking about the original Rocky- Chuck Wepner. Wepner was a journeyman fighter not a “ham-and-egger” or a “tomato can” in any way. He came by his nickname, “The Bayonne Bleeder” honestly and with good reason. I was talking with Randy Newman one night at the Hammerstein Ballroom (while I was still able to walk), before the evenings first bout of a Lou DiBella sponsored Broadway Boxing card. I mentioned to him that he and Chuck Wepner fought some historical matches and he told me about their match in March of ’74. This was the type of night where the first three rows of fans would have been better of wearing raincoats as if they were going to attend a Gallagher concert (Wepner and Newman fought three times and none of their fights went the distance). In that fight, as with their other meetings, there was a lot of blood all over the place. In one clinch Wepner asked referee Tony Perez not to stop the fight on cuts because he was going to sign a deal to meet Muhammed Ali for a big payday. Perez told Wepner it wasn’t his blood and Chuck said, “You better stop the fight, Tony, before this guy bleeds to death.”

Wepner finished with a 35-14, 17 KO record. Wepner met Ali in 3/75 and was stopped in the 15th by TKO. Newman was 31-3, 11 KO.

Dreams Blog

March 14, 2014

The Agents’ Goals Are Different
Chris Broussard (ESPNNY.com) wrote about the negotiations with Phil Jackson. “While Knicks owner James Dolan will pay Jackson handsomely to make basketball decisions, Dolan is still expected to maintain a voice in terms of decision-making, the source said. Bringing Jackson aboard could move the Knicks away from their ties to Creative Artists Agency, the player- and coach-representation firm that many league insiders, including some Knicks players, believe has an inordinate amount of influence within the franchise.
Assistant general manager Allan Houston, coach Mike Woodson, player personnel director Mark Warkentien and star forward Carmelo Anthony are all CAA clients.
One Knicks player recently told ESPN.com that the CAA ties were a problem in the locker room.
“You see how guys from CAA are treated differently,” the player said. “How they get away with saying certain things to coaches. How coaches talk to them differently than they talk to the other guys. It’s a problem.”
I feel that Jackson might still be trying to get a piece of the Lakers from Jerry Buss with his delays. Will his girl friend Jeannie Buss, Jerry’s daughter, come to NY? Of course I could be entirely wrong. But, it’s possible.
That CAA business is still a big problem. Their interests are in bigger client contracts, which pay them more money not Knicks wins that don’t.
Gee, Do You Think?
“The Logo” gave the Post a sort of an explanation, “Jerry West told The New York Post, ‘Coaching and being an executive are different things. But he has a lot to draw on in terms of experience with players, how to organize teams and how to put them together. The biggest thing to learn is that you’re going to need a lot of really good players.’” I don’t think anyone, even Red Auerbach, could win without good players/
What’s Worth Challenging, What’s Not
The Boz (Thomas Boswell- DC Post) posed that strategy question. “So far, nobody has more than an inkling of what’s smart, what’s dumb and who’s going to figure out the Challenge Edge first. Yummy. MLB had a brilliant idea with its new system. It’s so perfect you wonder if it was an accident. A team is guaranteed only one challenge for a whole game — just one precious challenge. If you get that challenge correct, then you get a second challenge. But that’s all — there’s never a third. Do you challenge a call in the third inning, when your chance of winning changes by just a half-percent, and risk a mistake that may haunt you the rest of the game? What if, in extra innings, you have no ability to demand a replay of a three-run play — perhaps a diving catch of a bases-loaded fly ball with two outs in a 4-2 game that’s ruled a “trap” not a catch? Under the new rules, all you can do is beg the crew chief to ask for a replay himself. He can. I suspect he probably would. But what if he didn’t? What if he thought he saw the play clearly? What if he hates your guts as much as Ron Luciano hated Earl Weaver? (It happens.)
In many close games this season, one team will be out of challenges while the other still has its challenge and, potentially, another one, too. That is going to feel like an advantage, whether it ever becomes a factor or not. Will it play on the minds of the teams? Is there added psychological value in holding back your challenge even if you have a base stealer incorrectly called out in the fourth inning? Or will the failure to challenge be seen as gutless?
My guess is at least half the plays in a typical game aren’t worth challenging unless you are virtually certain of winning. Remember: The video replay team that will review all plays from a central studio in New York (nicknamed “BAM,” for Baseball Advanced Media) may lean toward “inconclusive.” Will they really reverse all the possibly “wrong” calls decided by an inch or two? Isn’t this system’s purpose to prevent miscarriages of justice — not to nitpick? But the greatest benefit to the game — and to our fun — may be the addition of the second-guess of the challenge. You can almost hear the hubbub, as video screens in parks will be allowed to show controversial replays. Thumbs up, thumbs down? Use it! Save it! Love it.
Si, Si But Not Yet
Wallace Matthews wrote about CC Sabathia’s struggles, “Necessity is the mother of reinvention, and at 33 years old — he turns 34 in July — Sabathia may be facing the toughest challenge of his career as he transitions from power pitcher to simply pitcher. And there’s no way we’re going to know if he can do that off this start, or the one after that or the one after that. In fact, it may take a healthy chunk of the regular season before we can even begin to make a fair judgment on how much Sabathia has left, and how much he can contribute to the Yankees this season, and for the remaining two seasons — plus an option — remaining on his contract.
Of course, plenty of pitchers have had great careers with the kind of repertoire Sabathia seems to have now. Tom Glavine rode an 89 mph fastball all the way to Cooperstown, and David Wells never threw much harder.
The difference is, those guys started out like that. They never had to make the kind of adjustment Sabathia is going to have to make now. That is the challenge that faces him, and none of us should expect him to make it overnight. Suffice it to say that Sabathia’s changeup, a huge part of his arsenal in 2009, will be a key pitch for him this season.
Rhetorical Question
The Sports Curmudgeon asked, “How come Tiger Woods’ back injury is only sufficiently debilitating to force him to withdraw from inconsequential tournaments after it is apparent that he is so far behind that he cannot possibly catch the leaders?
I’ll hang and wait for your answer.”

Dreams Blog

March 7, 2014

All You Really Need Is Heart
I don’t think the current Knicks situation is all Woodson’s fault. He didn’t put this team together. “Garden Dolan” did it all with his small b-ball mind.
On paper the guys on the Knicks bench should be a lot better than they are. J.R. Smith gave an opinion. “It’s not a mental thing, it’s a heart thing,” Smith said after the Knicks gave up 73 first-half points in the loss to Golden State. “Guys get open shots, [they’re] walking through the lane, running around, slapping high-fives, laughing, joking. When you’re supposed to be a team trying to make the playoffs, you ain’t gonna win. It ain’t gonna happen like that. You gotta play with effort, play with heart. I mean, I’m not condoning knocking somebody down and hurting nobody. But we gotta do something. We gotta stick up for ourselves. We’re just letting people do what they want to do.”
Part of the problem is that Dolan hasn’t given these guys any direction at all. You can say- they don’t need direction. They know the way to the bank. But even with all of their money- they’re twenty-year-olds and don’t have the maturity to lead themselves anywhere.
Jason Kidd supplied that leadership last year and the Knicks did really well. Who’s carrying that banner this year? No one, that’s who.
VanGundy Said
Ian Begley (ESPNY.com) quoted Jeff VanGundy, “The most damning point Van Gundy made was that the Knicks don’t have enough players who have the “hunger” to win. So Van Gundy, the last coach before Mike Woodson to lead the Knicks to a playoff-series win, suggested the Knicks keep Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Jeremy Tyler, and blow up the rest of the roster, filling it with players who are “hungry” enough to win in the NBA. (We’d add Toure’ Murry to the list, but we understand Van Gundy’s point.)
“You’ve got to get some hungry guys … some durable, hungry guys to surround Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler, who are the foundation for your team. If you just do that, [get] guys who are hungry, durable and can shoot a little bit, at least when you lose you can feel good about yourself,” Van Gundy said this can be done with a lot of fast talking so teams will pick-up the salaries of Stoudemire, Prignatoni, and Shumpert.
Ian O’Connor (ESPNNY.com) agreed and wrote, “The New York Knicks have so many problems up and down the organization, from Jim Dolan at the top to a D-League reject named Chris Smith at the bottom, that it’s easy to forget they will need a qualified coach to replace Mike Woodson within a few months. That coach will not count against the salary cap. His wage will not come packaged with a luxury-tax bill from hell. The Garden’s policy of muting coaches, of practically subjecting them to lobotomies, could cost its basketball team a shot at the best available candidates. But in the end, there are only so many of these glamour positions to go around. Someone will want the title of head coach of the New York Knicks.
Jeff Van Gundy coached eight 82-game seasons in New York and Houston, and claimed 50 or more victories in half of them. Van Gundy won eight playoff series with the Knicks, or seven more than the franchise has won in the 13 years since his departure.
Van Gundy is the most likely to smooth over Dolan’s rough edges, to sell him on the virtues of glasnost. He was the Garden’s last basketball coach allowed to speak freely from the beginning to the end of his term, the last one to win consistently and the last one ambitious enough to see a second-round playoff exit as a complete failure.
Olympic Maranara
Bob Molinaro (HamptonRoads.com) wrote:
“I never did find out if the four-man bobsled comes with cup holders.”
“Does anybody know of a curling fantasy league someone could join?”
“Check out these names: Ersan Ilyasova, Zaza Pachula, Miroslav Raduljica,and Giannis Antetkounmpo. Who do they play for? If you guessed the Latvian hockey team, give yourself a couple of points for effort. But actually, they’re members of the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks.”
Olympic Cold Sweat
Dwight Perry (Seattle Times) told us that he, “Just woke up in a cold sweat from the ultimate Sochi nightmare.
As in tennis scream Queen Maria Sharapova decided to take up curling.”
MLB Thoughts
To counteract the extra time that will be spent on replays, perhaps games can go quicker if those “Nomar Batting Glove Adjustments” can be stopped as well as those between-pitch delays (wasn’t there a rule that pitchers only had so much time between pitches?)
Brendan Alert
The Sports Curmudgeon told me that when, “My long-suffering wife and I arrived in the Northern Virginia area around 1970, dinner theaters were a big deal in the area. There were lots of them; they put on extensive productions; lots of people went to the shows. Today, dinner theaters around here are difficult to find; the more common dramatic entertainment is dinner at a restaurant near a theater followed by a production in a theater. I mention this because I learned yesterday about a new dinner theater in Kissimmee, FL. What does this have to do with sports (his word, not mine), you ask? Well, this is a professional wrestling dinner theater.” More Marinara
Bob wondered where those “Women hockey players go between Winter Games.”
“The U.S. speed skaters taught me something. From now on, whenever I have a bad day at the laptop, I’m going to blame it on the clothes I was wearing.”
“Conventional wisdom holds that the appearance of NHL stars at the Olympics promotes the league. But NHL executives insist otherwise and will take their time deciding whether to shut down the regular schedule for two weeks in 2018 or turn over the competition to college players and juniors. Doesn’t seem possible that Olympic hockey can go back to the way it was before 1998. I’m guessing that NBC and its money will see to it that it doesn’t happen.”