Thursday, May 1, 2008

Thursday's Starting Five

1. Caron Butler. The Butler did last night. In the paint with a layup. Over the King. Like, he made that game-winning layup directly over Lebron who was guarding him like his size advantage was a size disadvantage. The Washington Wizards All-Star 3 had a HUGE game last night (a career play-off high 32 points, 9 boards and five assists) and picked up the slack while Gilbert was nattily dressed on the bench with a bone bruise in that really messed up knee of his.

2. Didier Drogba. The imposing striker from the Ivory Coast netted two goals for Chelski as they bested Liverpool to advance to the Champions League Final against Manchester United. It's an all England final as the two teams currently tied atop the Premiership with just two games remaining are also the last two teams still vying for Europe's top prize.

3. Paul Pierce. So, you see, shot attempts are far more likely to lead to points (which in turn often lead to wins) then gang signs. The Truth must have learned this fact between Games 4 and 5 of the Celtics series with the Hawks because he game out gunning (in a basketball way and not in a gang sign way) last night, taking eight shots in the first quarter as opposed to the 14 he took in the entirety of Game 4. When it was all said and done Pierce had scored 22 and the Cs won by 25.

4. Micah Owings. There were two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning. There was a runner on the base paths and his team trailed by two runs. The manager looked down the bench toward his right-handed slugger, who'd hadn't been in that day's lineup, and gave him the nod. He strode to the plate, long ash-bat in tow. The opposing skipper, knowing the potency of his swing, went to his bullpen. The reliever trotted on to the field and fired his first bullet towards home plate. But before that speeding pea could reach the catcher's mitt it was turned around and deposited over the right field wall. The slugger trotted 'round the bases, tying the game with his final stomp on home plate. All was well in the world. Well, except for the fact that this slugger was a pitcher. Arizona Diamondback's all-around weapon Micah Owings hit a game-tying HR last night. The hit raised his batting average to .421 and his slugging percentage to .632. The guy has a higher batting average than ERA (3.48). I don't have the time to do the math there but I would have to guess that doesn't happen to often.

5. NBA Teams Looking to Hire A Coach. Larry Brown, Scott Skiles, Avery Johnson, Mike D'Antoni, George Karl, Rick Carlisle. These are all proven playoff-tested coaches who already have been and may soon be joining new teams. Somehow the coaching search has turned into a buyer's market. Which is good for the Knicks and maybe not so good for a neophyte like Mark Jackson.

Benched. Buzz Bissinger. The prize-winning author of Friday Night Lights (great book) and Three Nights in August (sycophantic Tony LaRussa slurp fest) was a guest on the aforementioned episode of Bob Costas' HBO show featuring a roundtable "discussion" about sports blogs and he went absolutely, positively Stephen-Jackson-firing-off-a-weapon-outside-of-a-strip-club-crazy, deciding to scream curses and rain senseless invective upon someone just trying to get a level-headed word in edgewise. That person being Will Leitch of Deadspin, who was invited into this ambush to represent, for these men of a certain age, all that is wrong with the world and this series of tubes that makes up Al Gore's internets.

Yikes. Someone needs to switch Buzz off the Buzz cola. And, someone also needs to get him to get his gynormous head out of his ass. He just went on television to say that he was better than people whom he perceives as foul-mouthed ranters with his very own foul-mouthed rant. Um, well played. You totally came off as the bigger and less-hateful person. The irony (and yes, Buzz, I have a degree in English and do understand what Irony is) is almost too good for W.C. Heinz novel.

For what it's worth, Will withstood the onslaught as best he could. He listened with gritted teeth the same way you have to listen to your racist uncle go off on a rant about how his life would be fine if not for [insert minority group most pertinent in your uncle's town or city] weren't taking all the jobs. Sometimes you just have to listen and nod because it's polite and easier than trying to fight stodgy, old-dog-old-tricks insanity with reason. Sometimes you just have to listen because you love your uncle (or just really liked Friday Night Lights) and even if you know that you're right you don't want to embarrass him any more than he is already embarrassing himself. You nod and choke back all the salient points and compound sentences forming in your younger and more nimble mind and you listen. Like Will did.

Not surprisingly, many people with more time, more establishment cred and a greater understanding of the stables nearby to Bissinger's home weighed in on this TV spot.

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