An eventful few weeks in sports my friends. Full of the highs and lows that competition and life always seem to bring…


For starters, the NBA Finals met an exclamatory end with the Boston Celtics absolutely blowing the Los Angeles Lakers out of the arena on Tuesday night. The Celtics won their record 17th NBA Championship by dismantling the Laker offense early and often, with Kobe Bryant and the rest of the boys from LA retreating into the offseason not with a bang, nor a whimper, but the sound of the world’s largest egg being laid. Saying that the Lakers shit the bed in their final game of the season would be a gross understatement (no pun intended) and as a fan of Kobe and the Lakers in general I found it hard to watch. That being said, I can’t imagine a team I would feel more comfortable watching my boys lose to than the Celtics. I’ve always been a big Paul Pierce fan and when you throw a couple of class veterans like Kevin Garnet and Ray Allen into the mix, it makes for a bit less bitter of a pill to swallow.

Paul Pierce especially, who has been a part of many a disappointing Celtics team, was particularly brilliant not just in the Finals, but the entire post-season. He certainly outplayed the best player in the world all series long and Kobe and the Laker defense simply did not have an answer for Pierce at any point, in any game. I still think that the “heroics” he displayed in game one were blown out of proportion to a dizzying degree, but he showed nothing but the best of his skill set and determination against the Lakers and the other teams the Celtics bested in this year’s playoffs. To tell you the truth, I never thought that this team had this kind of a game or this kind of a playoff run in them. Their regular season performance was obviously impressive, especially their dominance over the Lakers and the rest of the powerhouse NBA Western Conference, but I thought that after a shaky performance against the Hawks in the opening round the Celts would somehow self-destruct and old beefs between Paul Pierce and Doc Rivers would begin to surface as the team stumbled in the post-season.

In fact, that stumble just never really occurred. Yes, the Celtics had trouble with a less than worthy Atlanta team, but in their defense the Hawks came together as a unit in that series, with Mike Bibby providing the glue to a youthful structure that boasts some of the best and brightest that the NBA will see in the coming years. Joe Johnson and Josh Smith are a terrific tandem and Bibby and a bit more inside help will have that team poised to replace the Cleveland Cavaliers as the third best team in the East over the next couple of seasons. The Cavs themselves were another team that the Celtics should have handled better, but any team with LeBron James on it is no walk in the park when it comes to a seven game series, just ask the second best team in the East, the Detroit Pistons. The Pistons were the Celtics obvious match in the Eastern Playoff picture, but they too were just another notch on the Celtic belt as they marched towards the title. Conceding to my logic, the Celtics beat the three best teams in the Eastern Conference and the best team in the West to win the championship; impressive stuff indeed. The Lakers (with Andrew Bynum) may have a better future ahead of them, but in the here and now the Celtics are clearly a better team, especially defensively. Congrats to the Big Three and Louisville native Rajon Rando on an amazing year.


I feel somewhat guilty that the only reason I talk about golf and the PGA Tour is because of Tiger Woods, but as an extremely wary viewer of the world’s most boring sport, watching him do what he does is really the only reason I’ll sit down for a tournament. This weekend saw Tiger Woods and veteran Rocco Mediate (among a couple of others on Sunday) gun for the US Open title, with a banged up Woods nailing a put on the 18th hole to force an 18 hole playoff on the following day. While Woods is the reason I watch golf, I found myself whole heartedly behind Mediate to take the title. A long time pro and a huge underdog to Woods (who by the way had never succumbed a Sunday lead in a major), Mediate was a pleasure to watch as he played himself into a clubhouse lead in the final round on Father’s Day. Woods of course had to spoil things and wince his way through a surgically repaired knee injury to tie Mediate on the final hole and force Monday’s playoff round.

Woods once again proved that he is the best clutch athlete since Michael Jordan, building then losing a three shot lead and once again ruining Mediate’s run at the Open Championship with a put on the final hole. Tiger is a joy to watch and his intensity and drive are already a thing of legend. When he gets in the sort of positions that he found himself in on both Sunday and Monday, with a put to either extend or seal a tournament, there is just no doubt that he’s going to come through. He would later call this year’s Open the best tournament he has ever played, and its hard to argue that, given that it might well have also been the best US Open ever played. I’d also like to say that it’s pretty awesome that the event is played on Father’s Day every year, and I myself couldn’t help but quickly dial up my dad when Woods sank the put on the 18th on Sunday. I posted an email my old man sent me about Woods a few blogs back and if you have the inclination you should read it again. He speaks admiringly and succinctly about the legacy that Tiger continues to build upon and he and my mother are still an absolute rock as far as my well-being is concerned. Thanks Dad.

Woods would announce later in the week that the banged up knee that plagued him throughout the tournament is in fact in need of more rehab than he thought; the surgical kind to be exact. Woods had minor surgery on the knee, which led to a nine week layoff and his moans and groans during the Open Championship. Now it seems, his ACL actually has a slight tear and that he will be forgoing the rest of the PGA Tour season to have it repaired. I'm guessing I'm not the only one who won't be watching golf for the rest of the year now. Oh well. Best of luck to Woods on his road to recovery.


Two of the game's previously most dominant pitchers, the Atlanta Braves' John Smoltz and the Boston Red Sox Kurt Schilling may have both thrown their last pitch in the majors. They both are set to undergo season-ending surgery that given their ages might as well be career-ending. Smoltz and Schills are a pair of amazing arms that helped a trio of teams win World Series rings (Schilling with the D-Backs and Bo-Sox, Smoltz with his Atlanta Braves) and while Kurt is a bit more shall we say, talkative, they are both truly funny guys who seem to be handling the end of their careers with equal amounts of class and aplomb. Schilling even has a blog where I'm sure he's talking about all of this right now. I've honestly never read it, but since the beginning of the blogging phenomenon, Kurt has been an avid writer and has thus given his fans a unique window into the life of a professional athlete. I couldn't let any talk of Smoltz go without mentioning that the Detroit Tigers dealt him to the Braves back in 1987, when we were mortgaging our future on a run at the World Series, which ended in the AL Championship with a loss to the Minnesota Twins. We gave him up for Doyle Alexander and a losing run at the Series. It still twists my guts to this day. Farewell to both players, who will probably find many a job waiting for them in the broadcast booth.



It's been a while since I've updated the site and I'm feeling like a man who needs to catch up a bit. I want to do a quick run through of some of the exciting stuff that happened in the month of May, some of it leading to what should be even more exciting stuff in 2008's newborn month of June.


For starters, as a resident of Louisville I feel downright ashamed that it took me until the first week in June to talk about the Kentucky Derby and the dominant Big Brown. In somewhat of a last minute coup, I was able to attend this year's Derby thanks to a friend's extra ticket and was seated at the first turn in a borrowed suit, drinking many a Mint Julip and betting (badly) on the ponies. My guest and I arrived a bit late, and while I have been to Churchill Downs on previous occasions, including the Kentucky Oaks, (which is held the day before Derby for you out of towners) I was still absolutely blown away by the sheer number of people at the race. Walking through the grounds to get to our seats took nearly a half hour alone and the mass of people drinking away the day in the track's infield only added to the packed house who were able to secure seats.

As I said, I was on the first turn of the track, probably the least exciting portion of the oval to be seated on, but nevertheless it was a treat to be at one of the sporting world's premiere events. I watched the remainder of the race on the big screen near the infield and was thoroughly impressed by Big Brown's run down the last turn to the homestretch. He simply took over the race with little to no effort and his performance in the Preakness was a period on the dominant sentence he started on that Saturday in Louisville. He has more than a puncher's chance at the Triple Crown with a win this Saturday at the Belmont Stakes, and his bum hoof withstanding, I can't see another horse getting in his way. It would be great to witness a Triple Crown winner this year, and even more exciting to know that I got to watch him run at the Derby.

Of course, in a sad note from the Derby, Eight Bells had to be put down after breaking both front legs during the race. The news came over the loud speaker, but either cheers or my Mint Julips drowned it out. I later heard from a couple of guys in our box what had happened and it put a damper on what was otherwise a great day. Moments like that make the sport feel a bit cruel, and with Barbaro's death still fresh in so many people's minds, it was a true shame that yet another high-profile horse ran itself to an early demise.


The month of May also saw the Major League Baseball season begin in earnest, with surprises abound on the diamond. The biggest of shocks comes in the form of the newly renamed Tampa Bay Rays, (who just had to get the Devil out of their name for some reason) who have risen to an unlikely perch at the top of the American League East standings. With a city that doesn't really care about them (they have to schedule county fair level musical performances after weekend games to boost ticket sales for cripes sake) and a payroll that dwarfs in comparison to the league's big-market teams, the Rays have relied on youth on the mound and at the plate to make an impressive early season run. I don't know if they have the pitching to maintain for the full breadth of the season, and youth in most cases does not lead to championships in baseball, but I still love the underdog story, especially since their division includes the game's most visible franchises in the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox.

Being that this is my blog, and I'm a huge Detroit fan, I also have to continue to complain about the sub-par play of my Tigers. Man oh man. I can't get over what has happened to the team that looked poised to win a World Series title just two short years ago. I'm not going to jump the proverbial shark and say that the skies are already black in Motown, but a 24-32 record at this point in the season was not what I had in mind when the already stacked Tig's picked up Dontrelle Willis and Miguel Cabrera in the off-season. Skipper and Perrysburg native Jim Leyland hasn't started calling out his boys in the press by name, but despite his restraint something must be done to change the losing mentality that is in that clubhouse right now. The pitching simply has to turn around, with the aging Kenny Rogers struggling alongside what were thought to be young arms on the way up in Justin Verlander and Jeremy Bonderman. In direct contrast to the upstart Rays, the Tigers have a loyal and once again rabid fan base and a payroll that would make kids in the third world wonder what the fuck is wrong with how Americans spend money. Something's got to happen in Detroit or I'm going to make a personal trip there on my next visit to Toledo and grab some Tigers players by the throat. Well, not really, but a floundering Detroit squad will make for a bummer of a summer, no rhyme intended.


Both ends of the NBA Playoff picture came into focus at the end of May, with the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers coming out of the east and west respectively. While it wasn't hard to take the top seed of each conference, I will of course remind you that I picked this as the Finals match-up at the beginning of the playoffs. I still say the Lakers and Kobe Bryant in particular are going to be a little too much for the Celts, though I say that with somewhat of a bias considering my love for the big "24" in purple and gold. The Celtics dismantled the Pistons in what was a bit less of a series than I had anticipated. There were a couple of games that were downright breathtaking all the way to the end, but I really thought the Pistons would at least push the series to 7 games before succumbing. They looked a bit flat the whole series if you ask me. Their energy level has dropped every year since they beat the Lakers in '04 and it didn't surprise me at all that they let Flip Saunders go, because something obviously had to be done. They have a lot of talent and unlike their experienced counterpart in the west, the San Antonio Spurs, the Pistons don't have to do much line-up tweaking to maintain their level of success.

The Spurs are old and even older on their bench and their series loss to the Lakers proved that in spades. Sure, Kobe has become an even more dominant force with an upgraded supporting cast, but the Spurs just looked like a team that couldn't keep up with the fresh legs on the Laker bench. Kobe is surrounded by guys who can both shoot and bring energy to the game, only adding to the ultra-talented front line that Los Angeles boasts in Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom. Have you thought about how scary the Lakers are going to be next year when Andrew Bynum is back and integrated into the rotation? They could easily be contenders for the next three, possibly even four years and Phil Jackson has a shot at putting the record for titles as a head coach out of reach for generations to come.

I think the Lakers' play this year is testament to what a superstar like Kobe can accomplish within the Triangle Offense and with solid players to fill out its complex system of scoring options. I've been doing an increasingly intense study of the Triangle, and once you get into its web of passes and options, you start to realize why so few coaches run it and why the two most dominant players of the past 20 years, Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant, were so potent for their Phil Jackson-lead squads. Its hard to wrap your head around, but it really is a lethal system when put in the right hands, and Phil has been lucky enough to have Kobe and Michael to score the basketball for him.

I don't want to get too deep into why I think the Lakers are going to beat the Celtics, because much of it is my love for Kobe and just a gut feeling, but I do think it will be a great series and its beautiful to see the Celts and Lakers back in the Finals after so many thrilling showdowns between Magic and Bird. Obviously this year's Finals doesn't have quite the cache that those legendary match-ups did, but there are compelling storylines. Can Kobe win a ring without Shaq? Can three superstars who have never even made the Finals come away with a title as their careers slide downhill? Will David Stern be able to keep a smile off of his face in the stands, knowing that he has the kind of Finals match-up that he and other NBA big-wigs jerk off about? An interesting Finals it should be.


Tonight also saw the end of the hockey season, with the Detroit Red Wings besting the Pittsburgh Penguins to take home the Stanley Cup. I have to admit that I had band rehearsal tonight and missed the final game, but the other night's triple overtime thriller was enough to make me remember why I love playoff hockey so much. That feeling of the game ending at any moment (and in this case, a possible champion being crowned at any moment) keeps you glued to the screen like no other and thinking about how those players muster the energy to play nearly two whole games worth of hockey back to back makes my head swim. That game five was one of the best hockey games I've ever watched and the fact that Petr Sykora (that's how he spells it grammar Nazis, he's Czechoslovakian) called the game winning goal is even more impressive.

He actually knocked on the glass and told NBC's reporter standing between the benches that he was going to score the game winner, and then went out and did it. Half of the assist on the goal went to Sergei Gonchar, who had a busted nose and was banged up for most of the 3rd period and the overtime periods. He was being saved in case the Pens got a power play and proved his worth shortly after he was inserted. Sure Hockeytown got another title, but the gutsy play of Gonchar and Sykora's called shot are likely the things that I'm going to remember from this year's Stanley Cup Finals. It's a shame sometimes that Americans, myself included, forget about hockey as it's surrounded by the NBA and baseball, but its playoffs are some of the most thrilling television that sports has to offer. Congrats to the Wings and now I can completely concentrate on the NBA with a little less guilt.