Monday, May 31, 2010
There is no doubt that May 2010 will go done as one of the rarest months in baseball history.
And why, one might ask?
Because 2 perfect games in one month, let alone, in one season, just isn't suppose to happen-- and unbelievably, it did. Only once before had two perfect games ever been thrown in a single month and it happened way back-- and I mean, WAY BACK, in the beginning-- 130 years ago, to be exact.
So it is fair to say that Dallas Braden and Roy Halladay accomplished the almost impossible. They threw the 19th and the 20th perfect games in major league history within 20 days of each other--
May 9, 2010 (Oakland A's 4 - Tampa Bay Rays 0)
May 29, 2010 (Philadelphia Phillies 1 - Florida Marlins 0)
But like I said, it did happen once before. But we have to go all the way back to 1880, when the 1st and 2nd perfect games ever thrown occurred, within days of each other.
June 12, 1880 (Worcester Ruby Legs 1 - Cleveland Blues 0)
June 17, 1880 (Providence Grays 5 - Buffalo Bisons 0)
I think it is safe to say that those 4 teams are now defunct but nonetheless those were the first 2 perfect games ever thrown in professional baseball.
The third perfect game wouldn't occur until May 5, 1904 when Cy Young of the Boston Americans (now the Red Sox) pitched a 3-0 perfecto against the Philadelphia A's.
An interesting breakdown: It took 100 years (1880-1980) for 9 perfect games to be thrown but the next 11 happened relatively quickly during a 30-year period (1981-2010). In fact the last 3 have occurred in less than a year-- Halladay, Braden and Mark Buehrle (July 23, 2009). Go figure!
I guess sometimes fact is stranger than fiction.
Halladay-Braden photos courtesy of Getty Images
Lee Richmond and Monte Ward photos are part of the public domain
He is the world's No. 2 player....
....and he's back! Nadal has easily reached the quarterfinals at the French Open, barely breaking a sweat and is yet to drop a single set.
He used to own Roland Garros [35-1 career record] and the 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 champion.
An injury-plagued 2009 cost him his thrown-- but he wants it back!
Prior to the French Open he played in 3 clay court events and won all three. He went 15-0 and dropped a grand total of 2 sets in all 3 events. There is no doubt, Rafa is on a mission.
From the looks of it, he is on a collision course to meet world No. 1 Roger Federer in the finals.
And from the looks of it, there is no stopping him.
Sunday, May 30, 2010
2010 WESTERN CONFERENCE CHAMPIONS
Saturday, May 29, 2010
2010 EASTERN CONFERENCE CHAMPIONS
A new decade, a new century, a new generation-- but the same old story:
Beat LA! Beat LA! Beat LA! Beat LA!
Photos courtesy of Getty Images
Friday, May 28, 2010
Mets 5 - Phillies 0
Mets 3 - Phillies 0
The New York Mets (25-23, 3rd in the NL East) just finished a 3-game sweep of the Philadelphia Phillies in stunning fashion. The Mets shutout the Phillies in 3 consecutive games and as we all know, that is no easy task. The two-time defending National League champions are a run-scoring machine, no doubt about it. So to shut them out 3 consecutive games, requires a whole lot of dominant pitching.
Mike Pelfrey (7-1, 2.54 ERA) is quietly having a Cy Young-caliber season. He's letting the Roy Halladays and Ubaldo Jimenezes of the world get all the press, but in the end he may just steal the prize. Pelfrey blanked the Phillies for 7 innings last night in Game 3. In Games 1 and 2, the Mets got strong starting pitching from places they didn't even know they had any-- R.A. Dickey, 6 shutout innings; Hisanori Takahashi, 6 shutout innings; the bullpen, 6 shutout innings.
If anything, the 3-game shutout sweep of the first-place Phils, coupled with the 2 of 3 series win against the Yankees in their annual subway-series, has at least, quieted the "fire Jerry Manuel" chants.
And on the Jerry Manuel front--
I say keep Jerry!
I think with all the injuries he's had to deal with the last couple of seasons, he's done a great job. Its not like he inherited a championship-caliber team to begin with and he's been able to at least play near-.500 baseball (150-153) since he took over for the fired Willie Randolph in June 2008.
So why fire him?
Its not like a new manager is going to make the Mets any less injury-prone.
Photos courtesy of Getty Images
Monday, May 24, 2010
It seems like the "We're the New York Yankees: Who do you think you are rejecting our offer?" fiasco that went on between Johnny Damon and the Yankees, is working in Damon's favor.
A quick recap: Damon wanted a 2-year $24 million deal, give and take a few bucks. The Yankees offered 2 years at $8 million per year, give and take a few bucks. Both sides were adamant about their stance. So the Yankees went out and made some moves, basically telling Damon, bye, bye. In the end, Damon caved and was willing to take a one-year deal which the Yankees had earlier thrown on the table. The Yankees said, "too bad", "we've already made some moves, so go look for work elsewhere". Damon ended up taking a one-year, $8 million deal from the Detroit Tigers.
But, as of today, Damon is getting the last laugh. The Yankees went out and got Curtis Granderson, Randy Winn and Nick Johnson to fill the holes left by Damon and World Series MVP, Hideki Matsui, who was also run out of town.
Damon is currently batting .290 with a team-leading 32 runs scored. And that's what Damon has always gotten paid to do-- get on base and the big horses (Miguel Cabrera and Magglio Ordonez) will drive him in. So far, things are working in Detroit. The Tigers are 25-19, one game behind the AL Central-leading Minnesota Twins.
The Yankees are still the Yankees at 26-18, but both Granderson and Johnson are on the DL and Winn, well, let's face it, he's Randy Winn. The 3 have combined for 29 runs scored, 3 less than Damon. And its no secret the Yankees are having outfield problems.
Also, in the clubhouse, Damon is a disciplined veteran who knows how to win. The word in Detroit is that he has been a big influence on rookie sensation, Austin Jackson (.337 AVG). To add insult to injury, the Tigers got Jackson in the Granderson trade from the Yankees. So the kid who replaced Granderson is being molded into a superstar by the man who Granderson replaced. Go figure!
As a fan, I'm happy things are working out for Damon. I've been following his career numbers because to me, he'll one day join the 3000 hit club. He currently has 2470 hits.
It was definitely a bummer to see Damon go after winning a championship with the Yankees and becoming one of the few players in history to win a World Series with both the Yankees and the Red Sox. And that in itself is impressive--
Someone tell Babe Ruth, he has company.
Photo courtesy of the AP
I don't know much about the guy but he may just be the Milwaukee Brewers (17-27) savior for the time being. At least until Trevor Hoffman figures out how in the world he forgot how to pitch after doing it for over 30 years.
I suspect, Axford's call-up was a desperation move on the part of the Brewers. And a good move, because they have to fix their bullpen problem as quickly as possible or the law of trickle down economics will eventually eat them alive. In other words, their crappy bullpen will eventually effect all other components of their team in a negative way.
Anyway, last night the Brewers beat the Twins, 4-3, and Axford (not Hoffman) got the save. And let's safely say, BARELY got the save. Hoffman actually got the hold, by pitching a strong 8th inning and handed the ball to Axford, with a 4-2 lead.
Oh and by the way, the Brew Crew experimented with Carlos Villanueva the night before and of course he BLEW THE SAVE in the bottom of the ninth. He was handed a 7-6 lead, but allowed the tying run and the Brewers eventually lost 8-7 in 12 innings. It was the 9th blown save of the year for the Milwaukee bullpen.
As for Axford, he did his part in making Brewers fans bite off all their fingernails. He allowed a run to bring the Twins to within 4-3, but in the end, managed to get the job done--
Photo courtesy of Yahoo Sports
Sunday, May 23, 2010
In 1999, Lima was 21-10, 3.58 ERA, All-Star Game appearance, for the Central Division champions, the Houston Astros.
Lima died last night of a heart attack in Los Angeles. He was 37.
Photos courtesy of the AP
Saturday, May 22, 2010
Yesterday, I asked, "Can anyone stop the Rays?"
I guess I didn't expect to get an answer so quickly.
Coincidentally, the other night while looking into Trevor Hoffman's nightmare of a season, I noticed how good the Astros bullpen has been this year despite the fact that the team (to this point) can't hit even if their lives depended on it.
Let's face it, the Astros can't hit for beans. Their two star players-- Lance Berkman is hitting a paltry .220 and "El Caballo" Carlos Lee is even worst at .199. With those kind of numbers out of their two main players, the only thing Astros fans can look forward to is the No. 1 pick in next years draft.
But their bullpen is good. Last nights 2-1 win over the mighty Tampa Bay Rays pretty much summed up the Astros season so far-- bad hitting, good starting pitching and a great bullpen. Starter Brett Myers went 7 strong innings and handed the ball to the bullpen with a lead. If they can do that more often, the Astros are in business, because the bullpen, more often than not, will come thru.
Brandon Lyon pitched a scoreless 8th inning for his team-leading 5th hold of the season and Matt Lindstrom came in and shut the door in the 9th for his 10th save in 10 opportunities.
Excellent work against the best team (record-wise) in the major leagues.
But let's face it, the Astros need to start hitting-- El Caballo, a.k.a. The Horse and Berkman need to get going. If not, its going to be a long season in Houston.
But kudos to the bullpen. They know how to get the job done.
Photos courtesy of Getty Images
Friday, May 21, 2010
Some things just never change.
If the Magic and the Suns don't rally, it's just a matter of-- will it be championship #18 for the Celtics or championship #16 for the Lakers?
This is one drama that has been going on for generation after generation.
Photos courtesy of the AP
The Tampa Bay Rays (30-11) were the first team in the major leagues to win 10 games. They were the first team to win 20 games. And now they are the first team to win 30 games.
The Rays just wrapped up a 2-game sweep of the defending world champions, New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium-- and the question on most people's mind is-- can anyone stop this locomotive? Will the Rays eventually cool off?
Yankee broadcaster Michael Kay brought up an interesting stat during Game 1 of the series. Kay said, "The Rays have such a good record, that if they play .500 baseball the rest of the way, they'll still win 90 games." Very impressive!
And based on what I saw in the two-game set-- barring any unforeseeable circumstances, the Rays look like they'll play WAY ABOVE .500 the rest of the way. At their current pace, they'll win 120 games, but of course, no one expects that to happen. Then again, who knows-- if the Rays keep pitching the way they do (2.83 team ERA, the best, by far, in the American League)-- anything is possible.
And of course, they have Evan Longoria. If Longoria continues his current pace (9 HR, 32 Runs Scored, 37 RBIs, .323 AVG) he may just be the American League MVP.
The Rays (est. 1998) are the newest team in the major leagues. They are a quote, unquote, small market team. They have one of the lowest payrolls in the bigs. And they already have an American League Pennant (2008) under their belt.
So much for the small market theory.
Maybe "Sweet" Lou Piniella (who to his credit, left the foundation of the current team, before jumping ship) should have hung around a little longer-- 'cause the little 'ole Rays are the talk of the baseball world.
Gotta love it!
Photos courtesy of Getty Images
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Let's face it, blown saves are demoralizing for any team. Think about it-- you work your tail off all game long and then you just give it away in the last inning. That's tough on anyone. Sooner or later it starts affecting everyone on the team.
A look at the Astros hitting:
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Here is Part 1 of "In The Beginning":
The 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings
The Red Stockings were the first fully professional baseball team. Prior to 1869, baseball was only played at an amateur level. I guess they can be considered "the father" of professional baseball as we know it. Today's Cincinnati Reds are direct descendants of the original Red Stockings.
The Red Stockings were managed by Harry Wright. Harry's brother George Wright was the team's best player and of course the team's highest paid player. George earned a whopping $1400 for the 1869 season.
Both Harry (inducted in 1953) and George (inducted in 1937) are members of the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Between 1869-1870, the Red Stockings won a record 130 straight games, proving that if you pay people to work, they will excel at what they do.
But after the 1870 season, most members left the team and moved east to join a newly formed professional team, the Boston Red Stockings. And amazingly the team still exists today. No, not the Boston Red Sox, but the Atlanta Braves. More on that in a future post.
But the remnants of the Cincinnati team would find new players and rebuild. And this new Red Stockings team would become a charter member of the newly formed National League in 1876. Unfortunately, the team would get expelled from the National League in 1880 for breaking a strict league policy which banned the practice of serving beer to fans at games. Go figure!
The team would rebuild itself yet again in 1882 and become a charter member of the newly formed American Association. The 1882 version of the Cincinnati Red Stockings is the same Cincinnati Reds we have today-- the same team who is 22-16 and in first place in the National League Central division today. After all the bumps and bruises from 1869-1880, the team as played non-stop ever since.
The team played in the American Association from 1882-1889. They would rejoin the National League (who banned the first Red Stockings team in 1880 for selling brew to fans) in 1890.
In 1890, they changed their names from the Red Stockings to the Reds and thus began the journey of The Big Red Machine.
Very interesting stuff!
To be continued....
The above photos are part of the public domain
Historical facts courtesy of Wikipedia
Monday, May 17, 2010
Saturday, May 15, 2010
If the season ended today, Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Andre Ethier, with his .392 AVG, 11 HR, 38 RBI (all tops in the National League), would win the elusive Triple Crown.
And when I say elusive, I mean elusive--
In the modern era (since 1900) there have only been 13 Triple Crown winners. That's 109 years of baseball played in two leagues. In other words, 218 opportunities and it has only been done 13 times.
There is no doubt that winning a Triple Crown is a tough gig and no one realistically expects Ethier to pull it off. But 35 games into the season and he's atop all three Triple Crown categories, is a pretty decent accomplishment, in my book.
The last Triple Crown winner in MLB came in 1967 when Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski (.326 BA, 44 HR, 121 RBI) of the Boston Red Sox pulled the hat-trick. We have to go all the way back to 1937 to find the last winner in the National League. Joe Medwick (.374 BA, 31 HR, 154 RBI) of the St. Louis Cardinals is the last NLer to do so.
The great Ted Williams (1942, 1947) and the immortal Rogers Hornsby (1922, 1925) are the only players to accomplish it twice.
And incredibly in 1933, Jimmie Foxx (AL) and Chuck Klein (NL) did it simultaneously. I highly doubt we will ever see that again. I mean, having just one is hard enough, imagine having two in the same year.
The others include: Frank Robinson (1966); Mickey Mantle (1956); Lou Gehrig (1934); Ty Cobb (1909) and Nap Lajoie (1901).
As we can see the list only includes a who's who amongst baseball royalty. Every member is a Hall of Famer and would easily make any ones list of the 25 greatest of all-time.
Just imagine if Andre Ethier made the list.
Ethier photo courtesy of Getty Images
Stats courtesy of baseball-reference.com
Friday, May 14, 2010
Celtics win series and advance to the Eastern Conference Finals....
LeBron James and Kevin Garnett-- sportsmanship at it's best!
So what will "The King" do next? This will no doubt be the question of the summer.
Photos courtesy of Getty Images
The Boston Celtics!
The Orlando Magic!
The Phoenix Suns!
We are down to the nitty gritty! Who will win the NBA championship?
The usual suspects (Lakers and Celtics) are still hanging around. They have 32 combined championships [Celtics-17 & Lakers-15]. The rest of the NBA has 31 COMBINED. In no other sport have two teams combined to win +50% of the league's championships. This is, by far, the most storied rivalry in the history of championship sports. Will either one add to their collection of rings?
Will one of the 0-2 members prevail? Both the Suns (1976, 1993) and the Magic (1995, 2009) are 0-2 in the NBA Finals. The '76 Suns lost to the Celtics. The '09 Magic lost to the Lakers. One thing history has proven, if you want to win an NBA championship, more often than not, you're going to have to go thru Boston or LA. And this year is no exception.
So we are down to the NBA's version of the Final Four-- and surprise, surprise-- Boston and LA are still around.
Will it be Kobe Bryant?
Thursday, May 13, 2010
I guess parts of the reason are-- we love it when past great players are back in the news and we love it when a certain player does something that has never been done or rarely done. Whatever the mystery, baseball, it's history and it's records, are in a class by themselves.
Here are some milestones that have made headlines so far in this young season:
- Jamie Moyer, at 47 years, 170 days old, became the oldest player in major league history to throw a shutout. Moyer threw a 2-hitter for the Philadelphia Phillies against the Pittsburgh Pirates. He bumped Phil Niekro (46 years, 188 days old), who threw a 4-hit shutout for the Yankees in 1986, as the oldest player ever to do so.
- Chicago Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro became the first player in the modern era (since 1900) to drive in 6 runs in his major league debut. Five players had previously had 5 RBIs in their debuts, the last being Ben Grieve in 1997. At 20, Castro also became the youngest shortstop ever in Cubs history.
- Oakland A's pitcher Dallas Braden threw the 19th perfect game in major league history. Braden's 4-0 perfecto came against the Tampa Bay Rays. It was the first perfect game ever thrown against the team who currently held the major leagues best overall record.
- New York Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira hit 3 home runs in one game against the Boston Red Sox. He became the 4th player ever to hit 3 HR in a game for 3 different teams. He joined Alex Rodriguez, Johnny Mize and Dave Kingman in that exclusive club. It was also the first time a Yankee player hit 3 HR in one game at Fenway Park since the great Lou Gehrig did it in 1927.
- Last week the New York Mets won back-to-back-games on walk-off home runs against the San Francisco Giants. It marked the first time in major league history that a team gets back-to-back walk-off HR wins from two different catchers. First, Rod Barajas' walk-off beat the Giants, 6-4, and one day later, back-up catcher Henry Blanco beat the Giants, 5-4, with a walk-off HR of his own.
Anyway, lots of good stuff so far this season.
We've also seen a no-hitter (by Colorado Rockies ace Ubaldo Jimenez) and 2 one-hitters (by Cincinnati Reds righty Johnny Cueto and San Diego Padres righty Mat Latos. Cueto one-hit the Pirates and Latos one-hit the Giants.
Lato's 1-hit gem was extremely rare because he won the game 1-0 and he himself drove in the lone run. And to make it even more rare, the 1 hit the Giants were able to mustard, deflected off of him. Had he made the play, he would have thrown a perfect game.
And to think, all this, and only 20% of the season has been played. Hopefully we'll see many more milestones. But that's what makes baseball so great-- you never know....
Photos courtesy of Getty Images
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
The act, which is the toughest anti-illegal immigration act of any kind in decades, was signed into law by Gov. Jan Brewer on April 23, 2010.
For the sake of this post, I will withhold my personal opinion on the law, and simply say, those who disagree with it have a right to do so. We live in a country where people have the right to assemble and protest if they disagree with a certain government policy.
Having said that--
What concerns me is how Major League Baseball has been dragged into this mess. Today, Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) has urged the Major League Baseball Players Association to boycott the 2011 All-Star Game in Arizona. Other elected officials and civil rights activists have called for similar measures, even urging Commissioner Bud Selig to pull the game out of Arizona all together.
But my question is-- is it right for an organization to punish the people of a society because of their government's actions? Is it THE PEOPLE'S fault?
Let's assume, for the sake of argument, that the law is unconstitutional-- should MLB punish the millions of baseball fans in Arizona just because their government screwed up?
As a New Yorker and a baseball fan, it was a thrilling moment for me, when the All-Star game was held at Yankee Stadium in 2008. As I remember, the event and all the festivities that came with it, were held for the people of New York, NOT the government of New York. So don't the people of Arizona deserve the same privilege?
Should the people be deprived of their special moment, just so a political point can be proven?
Everyone has a right to disagree with their government, but taking it out on the people, to me, is not the appropriate course of action. There are other ways to dissent and protest a law which is viewed as unconstitutional. Taking it out on the people of Arizona (by depriving them of their baseball moment in the sun) seems irresponsible and unfair to me.
And the notion that, well, the government is elected by the people so we're all in it together, doesn't stick with me either.
First of all, the people of Arizona did not elect Jan Brewer as their governor. I'm sure they were perfectly fine with Janet Napolitano (who was TWICE elected by the people). I've always found it inappropriate for Presidents to strip states of their governors for the purpose of filling in their cabinets. But I guess that's a story for another day.
And secondly, the "people elect government" notion, sounds like something out of an Al-Qaeda playbook, if you ask me.
Anyway, just a thought....
Stats courtesy of Wikipedia
Thursday, May 6, 2010
Robin Roberts 1926-2010
Career: 286-245, 3.41 ERA, 305 CG, 45 SHO, 2357 K
*Member of the 1950 National League champions, Philadelphia Phillies.
*Had 6 consecutive 20-win seasons between 1950-1955.
*Led the NL in Complete Games (30,33,29,26,22) 5 consecutive seasons, 1952-1956
*Led the NL in IP for 4 consecutive seasons, 1951-1955.
*Inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1976.
Photos courtesy of thesportsgallery.com
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
His name is Robinson Jose Cano. He dwells from the town of San Pedro de Macoris in the Dominican Republic. His father, Jose Cano, named him after the legendary Jackie Robinson. And yes, he plays second base for the New York Yankees.
And dare I say it-- he may just be the best player in the American League.
Ok, I said it!
A look at Robbie--
- .376 AVG - 1st in the AL
- 23 R - Tied for 2nd
- 38 H - 3rd
- 9 HR - 2nd
- 21 RBI - 5th
- .420 OBP - 7th
- AL Player of the Month in April
- In 2009, Cano (204 hits) and Derek Jeter (212 hits) became the first middle infield duo in MLB history to both have 200 hits in the same season.
Cano has the swing and the potential for greatness. But he's surrounded by Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, 27 World Championships and some of the greatest immortals the game has ever seen. So it's kinda easy to get lost in the shuffle in the Yankees universe.
But I've been watching this kid for 6 years now and he definitely has the skills to someday be an immortal himself.
And somehow I get the feeling, he doesn't even know it.
In 2005 (Cano's rookie year), then-manager Joe Torre got hammered by the media for comparing Cano to the great Rod Carew. Under pressure, Torre had to clarify himself by saying that he only meant his build and his swing reminded him of Carew and that he didn't expect Cano to be as great a player as Carew.
Hey Joe, we know how the media works in this town and how every comment is scrutinized to the bone. We understand you had to diffuse the whole thing. After all, Carew is baseball royalty.
But don't fall asleep on your comment, Joe. You may just get the last laugh.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images
Stats courtesy of Wikipedia
Monday, May 3, 2010
Can Zack Greinke get a break?!
Greinke has pitch phenomenal so far this season, BUT is 0-3. It is sad to see the kind of support the anemic Royals give to arguably the best pitcher in the major leagues.
Are the Tampa Bay Rays good? YES! Super good! Can the Rays pitch? YES! Superbly!
Come on! All the kid needed was 2 measly runs. That's all!
Greinke has a 2.27 ERA, has allowed only 10 earned runs total in 7 starts, has 33 K and only 7 BB. He has handed the ball to the pathetic Royals bullpen with a lead on 3 occasions, only to see them screw things up and throw his wins down the drain.
In his last outing against the Seattle Mariners, he pitched 7 scoreless innings-- that's 0 runs allowed thru seven innings-- and somehow the Royals found a way to lose the game, 3-2. All that action happened in the 8th and 9th innings. The offense mustered 2 runs (after he left the game with a no-decision) and the WEAK bullpen figured out a way to give back 3 runs.
Every single person associated with the Royals (10-15) and even the mayor of Kansas City should issue the defending AL Cy Young Award winner a WRITTEN APOLOGY!
Even last seasons Cy Young campaign-- Greinke had to do it on his own by having to pitch perfect baseball for most of the season. It isn't like the Royals gave him much help. The poor kid has no elbow room to pitch-- it's either pitch perfect baseball or you lose. And with these pitiful Royals, even perfection (like yesterday's 1-0 complete game loss) is not enough.
Anyway, this kid's plight is the saddest story I've seen in baseball in a long time.
In their apology it should say, "Kid, you are GREAT! We stink!"
Photo courtesy of Getty Images
Saturday, May 1, 2010
Things are getting good in the NBA Playoffs--
- Lebron James and the No. 1 Cleveland Cavaliers are set to go to war with Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and the No. 4 Boston Celtics.
- The No. 5 Utah Jazz and the No. 7 San Antonio Spurs were the only higher seeds to advance. The Jazz disposed of last year's Western Conference runners-up, the No. 4 Denver Nuggets, in 6 games, and the Spurs sent owner Mark Cuban and the No. 2 Dallas Mavericks packing, in 6 games also.
- The No. 6 Milwaukee Bucks are giving the No. 3 Atlanta Hawks a run for their money. There is no doubt Atlanta did not see this storm coming. The series is all knotted at three with the winner-take-all Game 7 to be played in Atlanta. The No. 2 Orlando Magic are well rested and licking their chops awaiting the winner of this series.
- Steve Nash and the No. 3 Phoenix Suns took care of Brandon Roy and the No. 6 Portland Trailblazers, 4-2, setting up a good old-fashion showdown between the Suns and the Spurs in the second round.
- The No. 1 Los Angeles Lakers won their series against the No. 8 Oklahoma City Thunder, 4-2. But kudos to Oklahoma City for giving the Lakers all that they had and coming within one basket of pushing it to a Game 7.
Things that make you go hmmmm?--
- Are Kobe Bryant and Shaquille "The Real Deal" O'Neal on a collision course to meet in the NBA Finals, with the winner breaking the "4 rings" tie between them and putting an end to their "Cold War"?
- Will Tim "Don't You Forget About Me" Duncan be the one to earn his 5th ring?
- Are the Lakers and Celtics marching to their record 12th NBA Finals meeting, which the Celtics hold an impressive 9-2 advantage?
- Will "King" Lebron James take the city of Cleveland to the "promised land" and deliver their first-ever NBA championship and their first of any sport since the Cleveland Browns 1964 NFL championship?
- The "0-2 Crew": Will the Orland Magic (1995, 2009), the Utah Jazz (1997, 1998) or the Phoenix Suns (1976, 1993), all 0-2 in NBA Finals appearances, win their first-ever championship?
- Or will the Atlanta Hawks be the "anointed ones" and win their first championship since they were the St. Louis Hawks (1958)? Of course assuming they escape with a win against pesky Milwaukee in Game 7.
Anyway, the wars continue--
In the end some elements of the above will play themselves out. Let's see....
Photos courtesy of the AP and Getty Images