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Friday, June 01, 2012

OT: NBA Monthly Thread, June 2012

I estimate that only 10-12 Primates care about the NBA, but with our own thread, we won’t detract from what the site is really about: overwrought, acrimonious discussions about having where to put the site’s overwrought, acrimonious discussions.

Famous Original Joe C Posted: June 01, 2012 at 09:58 AM | 2704 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1201. baudib Posted: June 11, 2012 at 02:34 PM (#4153900)
BTW, anyone want to consider Rodman or Ben Wallace as rebounding/defensive specialists?
   1202. AROM Posted: June 11, 2012 at 02:35 PM (#4153903)
I'm with you strategically, but that is probably one of those political realities (with his friendship) that you have to take to get the team together. I like the Rondo inclusion, and I think you can slide Russell off the ball pretty naturally in this lineup.


Look, if we can invent time travel to make this matchup happen, I think we can work out a way to get a better player (and better fit) than Carmelo on the team. I see Carmelo as the player on that list that is least likely to handle the reduced usage that is inevitable with so many great scorers on the court at one time. One of the keys to the greatness of the original dream team was that they all loved to pass.
   1203. andrewberg Posted: June 11, 2012 at 02:36 PM (#4153908)
Look, if we can invent time travel to make this matchup happen, I think we can work out a way to get a better player (and better fit) than Carmelo on the team.


I'm just saying that if we're accepting that the 92 team had Laettner and didn't have Zeke or any of the other 200 better guys, then we can probably accept some sub-optimal roster making as a result of personalities on our end, too.
   1204. AROM Posted: June 11, 2012 at 02:39 PM (#4153911)
Current Howard would be interesting to see against peak Wilt/Shaq/ and flippin' KAJ.


Last 3-4 years Howard certainly. As for current Howard, does everyone take for granted that he'll come back from surgery and be 100%? I don't know the medical details, but there's at least some chance that we've already seen the best we'll ever see from Howard.
   1205. jmurph Posted: June 11, 2012 at 02:40 PM (#4153914)
Reposting from previous page:

Did I just catch him on off games this year, or is Blake not anywhere near one of the best 12-15 players in the league yet?
   1206. tshipman Posted: June 11, 2012 at 02:41 PM (#4153917)
But what's the alternative? A team run by a management group appointed by public ownership? Team Stock that can't be sold for a profit? Hard to see a team like that winning a championship more than once a decade, or bringing their A game to the playoffs after finishing with the best regular season record?


Did you not think of the Packers here? Just a brain-fart?

Aren't a fairly large chunk of European football teams run like this?

I think it could work.
   1207. andrewberg Posted: June 11, 2012 at 02:45 PM (#4153923)
Did I just catch him on off games this year, or is Blake not anywhere near one of the best 12-15 players in the league yet?


Yeah, he has a ways to go. I think part of the problem at the end of the season was just that San Antonio was so focused on taking Paul out of his game that the rest of the Clippers fell apart. If you could have him in this Dream Team scenario where his job is to set screens and role hard to the basket, catch lobs, rebound, and run the court, he would be tremendous. To directly answer the question, a realistic optimist might put him in the very back end of the top 15.

Edit: I think Blake is also a prime candidate to suffer from the Wilt-KAJ-K Malone-Lebron memorial "it looks so easy for him, why isn't he even better?" curse. He looks like he could just jump from center court and dunk on five guys every time down the court, so some people will expect him to average 180 ppg on 98% shooting and even then will complain that he's shooting under 70% from the line.
   1208. Manny Coon Posted: June 11, 2012 at 02:45 PM (#4153924)
Did I just catch him on off games this year, or is Blake not anywhere near one of the best 12-15 players in the league yet?


He was 7th in both PER and Win Shares. He had a roland rating of 10.8, with a +/- component of +16.4, so any complaints about his defense didn't show up there. By the numbers he was right there with the best. If made his FTs he'd be even closer to the top.
   1209. HMS Moses Taylor Posted: June 11, 2012 at 02:51 PM (#4153929)
As for current Howard, does everyone take for granted that he'll come back from surgery and be 100%? I don't know the medical details, but there's at least some chance that we've already seen the best we'll ever see from Howard.

Yes, I think he'll be fine. I said it before, but I think the injury stuff may have been exaggerated due to his current situation. Perhaps that's overly cynical, but that's how I feel.
   1210. Manny Coon Posted: June 11, 2012 at 02:51 PM (#4153931)
Yeah, he has a ways to go. I think part of the problem at the end of the season was just that San Antonio was so focused on taking Paul out of his game that the rest of the Clippers fell apart. If you could have him in this Dream Team scenario where his job is to set screens and role hard to the basket, catch lobs, rebound, and run the court, he would be tremendous. To directly answer the question, a realistic optimist might put him in the very back end of the top 15.


The Clippers problem was that their wing players were dreadful, Jordan disappeared in the playoffs and Griffin and Paul were both playing hurt against the Spurs.
   1211. AROM Posted: June 11, 2012 at 02:51 PM (#4153932)
Did you not think of the Packers here? Just a brain-fart?


Check your sarcasm detector. I thought I was specifically alluding to the Packers with that description.
   1212. NJ in DC (Now with temporary employment!) Posted: June 11, 2012 at 02:52 PM (#4153934)
Andre Igoudala as secondary distributor and Magic/Jordan stopper depending upon the rest of the lineup might be a better fit on '12 Ideal Team than Westbrook.
   1213. baudib Posted: June 11, 2012 at 02:53 PM (#4153937)
Yeah, the beauty of the original Dream Team is how well they fit together, how perfect the players were. Larry Bird is the greatest pass/catch-shoot combo the game has ever seen at F, and it's not like that was all he did. Barkley, Malone, Magic in particular are nightmare matchups for anyone, and Jordan is Michael F. Jordan. Stockton's the perfect distributor, and Scottie Pippen is arguably the perfect complementary piece to all of this.

If you could have him in this Dream Team scenario where his job is to set screens and role hard to the basket, catch lobs, rebound, and run the court, he would be tremendous.


yeah, this.

Also, Carmelo-bashing is understandably at all-time highs. He's a big bodied 3 with tremendous agility and he can dribble, and on an NBA-level, he can rebound a bit and pass a bit, but he's not good enough to be the primary scorer on a Dream Team, and the rest of his game doesn't measure up. For instance, he probably doesn't do a single thing better than Barkley. In this scenario, I like Iguodala, Pierce, Josh Smith better than Melo.

Dominique Wilkins didn't make the original Dream Team, probably for the same reasons.

   1214. AROM Posted: June 11, 2012 at 02:56 PM (#4153941)
Yes, I think he'll be fine. I said it before, but I think the injury stuff may have been exaggerated due to his current situation. Perhaps that's overly cynical, but that's how I feel.


My cynical take on Howard is that the back was giving him a lot of pain, and he probably knew he wasn't going to last through the season and postseason. So he opted in with Orlando (where he clearly does not want to be) so he didn't have to hit the free agent market with injury concerns.
   1215. smileyy Posted: June 11, 2012 at 03:06 PM (#4153955)

My cynical take on Howard is that the back was giving him a lot of pain, and he probably knew he wasn't going to last through the season and postseason. So he opted in with Orlando (where he clearly does not want to be) so he didn't have to hit the free agent market with injury concerns.


And was sufficiently disenchanted as to blow up the Magic's postseason to get back on the court quicker.
   1216. baudib Posted: June 11, 2012 at 03:07 PM (#4153957)
12th man/college guy:

2012 team gets Davis
2008 team has interesting choices, most notably Rose, Westbrook, Love. For an off-the-wall wildcard pick, how about Ryan Anderson as rebounder/long-distance shooter off the bench
All-Time team: this team is a cheat anyway, but I'd probably take college version of Bill Walton
   1217. tshipman Posted: June 11, 2012 at 03:10 PM (#4153961)
Check your sarcasm detector. I thought I was specifically alluding to the Packers with that description.


My bad.


Re: beating the Dream team:

I think you have to start from the inside. The Dream team didn't have great size in the frontcourt. From the post-dream team era:
C: Shaq, Howard
PF: Garnett, Duncan
SF: LeBron, Durant
SG: Ray Allen, Kobe
PG: GP, CP3

I don't think you can start CP3, because Magic would just go into the post and obviously Paul can't guard that. I think you play LeBron and Kobe on Jordan on defense. You can use Ray Allen and Durant as your shooters and Shaq as your primary focus on offense.

I feel pretty confident in that lineup in a best of seven.
   1218. Famous Original Joe C Posted: June 11, 2012 at 03:13 PM (#4153967)
I think you play LeBron and Kobe on Jordan on defense.

tship, I like your lineup the best - but why not just GP on Jordan? He did hold him to a .415 FG% in the 1996 finals.
   1219. andrewberg Posted: June 11, 2012 at 03:17 PM (#4153971)
At the risk of putting Joey to sleep, the Grizzlies were sold to a 34-year old Northern California billionaire. Initial reports are that he does not intend to move the team. Aren't they always?
   1220. jmurph Posted: June 11, 2012 at 03:17 PM (#4153972)
Berg/Manny: thanks for the take on Blake. I would not have guessed that without peaking at the numbers.
   1221. baudib Posted: June 11, 2012 at 03:20 PM (#4153974)
Payton's not bad, I think I'd go with Kidd over him though.
   1222. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: June 11, 2012 at 03:21 PM (#4153976)
Imagining the time machine leaves everyone's personalities intact, I'd love to see present Kobe d up Jordan - tell him he's playing 25 min, and show us what you can do.
   1223. Russlan is fond of Dillon Gee Posted: June 11, 2012 at 03:22 PM (#4153977)
C: Shaq, Howard

How is Howard ahead of Olajuwon?
   1224. robinred Posted: June 11, 2012 at 03:29 PM (#4153989)
BaslPro made a reference to the StratOMatic sims that they run and were running during the lockout the other day. ISTM that they could run a best-of-7 sim of DreamTeam92 vs. DefendTheDream12 pretty easily, and alot of people (including me) would get a kick out of it. They could also probably set it up to run under Olympic rules.

There was a lot if trashtalk between The Dream Team and Dream Team II--detailed in the FreeDarko historical book.
   1225. smileyy Posted: June 11, 2012 at 03:30 PM (#4153991)
Was Olajuwon eligible to play for the US team?

Olajuwon became a naturalized American citizen on April 2, 1993. For the 1996 Olympics, he received a FIBA exemption and was eligible to play for Dream Team III

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hakeem_Olajuwon

So you can have Olajuown after the 1993 season. A pretty good era for him.

Why did he need an exemption? Are there rules about duration of citizenship?
   1226. smileyy Posted: June 11, 2012 at 03:37 PM (#4153999)
the FreeDarko historical book.


Which really needs to be available on Kindle. But I'm guessing that the amount of charts and visuals in there would make it necessary to make a proper interactive ebook, huh?

   1227. robinred Posted: June 11, 2012 at 03:43 PM (#4154008)
And, they could also do it without injuries, maybe--let simulated versions of Rose and Howard play.
   1228. Der-K and the statistical werewolves. Posted: June 11, 2012 at 04:05 PM (#4154025)
1219 - My understanding is that Heisley is quite concerned with keeping the team local - more so than we saw with Seattle. (FWIW/YMMV)
   1229. baudib Posted: June 11, 2012 at 04:29 PM (#4154051)
The International Dream Team

PG Steve Nash, Tony Parker
SG Manu Ginobili, Drazen Petrovic
SF Detlef Schrempf, Peja Stojakovic, Andrei Kirilenko
PF Dirk Nowitzki, Paul Gasol
C Akeem Olajuwon, Yao Ming, Dikembe Mutombo

Note: This team can really shoot. Some problems defensively, so maybe you start AK-47, or go twin towers with Akeem and Mutombo, with Dirk at 3. Kukoc probably could be there.

Edit: In fact, Kukoc should be there, but I don't know who to leave off. Have a hard time not having Petrovic, I guess I'd rather have Kukoc than Peja.
   1230. andrewberg Posted: June 11, 2012 at 04:40 PM (#4154080)
Could you get away with putting Ewing or Duncan on the international team? It seems like they could be eligible if they wanted. I agree that Kukoc probably belongs as a bench 3. I'd include Sabonis in the middle, too. Also, was Nique born in France?
   1231. Booey Posted: June 11, 2012 at 04:40 PM (#4154081)
C Akeem Olajuwon, Yao Ming, Dikembe Mutombo


Just wondering, but is there a reason I'm not aware of why people on this site keep refering to Olajuwon as Akeem rather than Hakeem? Everyone acknowledges Kareem's name change, why not Dream's?
   1232. NJ in DC (Now with temporary employment!) Posted: June 11, 2012 at 04:43 PM (#4154090)
Could you get away with putting Ewing or Duncan on the international team? It seems like they could be eligible if they wanted. I agree that Kukoc probably belongs as a bench 3. I'd include Sabonis in the middle, too. Also, was Nique born in France

Pretty sure you can with Ewing. I have family members who are part of Jamaica's national basketball operations who absolutely loathe Ewing for his lack of interest in contributing to the island's basketball development in any way, shape or form.
   1233. Srul Itza At Home Posted: June 11, 2012 at 04:43 PM (#4154091)
Dream Team: I'm wondering how you guys felt about the Dream Team at the time.


Second Best Thing Ever*. Just watching them walk out on the court gave you goosebumps. U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!

Barkley elbowed a kid from Angola


He had it coming.

Jordan and Pippen made it a point to humiliate Kukoc


Loved every minute of that. Everybody talking up Kukoc, and he finds out fast who the alpha dogs are. Funny as all hell

*Best Thing Ever: Lake Placid, 1980.

the older team's defensive shortcomings.


Say what? Jordan and Pippen, by themselves, elevate that team's defense. Ewing and Robinson at Center also. And if you score too much, they always had Barkley to put you in a body cast.
   1234. baudib Posted: June 11, 2012 at 04:44 PM (#4154094)
Man, I always mix up that Olajuwon name change thing. I thought he shortened it.
   1235. Los Angeles El Hombre of Anaheim Posted: June 11, 2012 at 04:47 PM (#4154102)
I thought you were being clever and using "Akeem" for his pre-citizenship days, because the time frames match up just about perfect.

Oh well.
   1236. Booey Posted: June 11, 2012 at 04:51 PM (#4154108)
Man, I always mix up that Olajuwon name change thing. I thought he shortened it.


Wasn't meaning to pick on you specifically, cuz I'm pretty sure I've seen a few others on this site do it too. I'm too lazy to look it up to make sure though. :)
   1237. Srul Itza At Home Posted: June 11, 2012 at 04:58 PM (#4154118)
I had forgotten it had ever been Akeem.
   1238. Los Angeles El Hombre of Anaheim Posted: June 11, 2012 at 05:00 PM (#4154119)
Loved every minute of that. Everybody talking up Kukoc, and he finds out fast who the alpha dogs are. Funny as all hell
I just remember them keying on Oscar Schmidt, the Brazilian scoring machine, and Schmidt ended up shooting 8-25 and getting five of his shots blocked. What was cool was that after the game Schmidt went over and shook everyone's hand — he was so excited just to be on the same court as those guys.
   1239. Famous Original Joe C Posted: June 11, 2012 at 05:02 PM (#4154124)
Just wondering, but is there a reason I'm not aware of why people on this site keep refering to Olajuwon as Akeem rather than Hakeem? Everyone acknowledges Kareem's name change, why not Dream's?

I did it recently - someone on that Lab Notes/OT/Politics thread referred to "since the twin towers were blown up", to which I responded "Akeem Olajuwon and Ralph Sampson got blown up?" because, after all, he was "Akeem" and not "Hakeem" when they were the Twin Towers, and I thought that line worked better with the old spelling.

I would have added the "H" in just about any other context.
   1240. Russlan is fond of Dillon Gee Posted: June 11, 2012 at 05:04 PM (#4154128)
This is pedantic but it's not exactly a name change going from Akeem to Hakeem. It's just a more correct pronunciation of the Arabic word for wise.
   1241. Athletic Supporter can feel the slow rot Posted: June 11, 2012 at 05:08 PM (#4154135)
I did it recently - someone on that Lab Notes/OT/Politics thread referred to "since the twin towers were blown up", to which I responded "Akeem Olajuwon and Ralph Sampson got blown up?" because, after all, he was "Akeem" and not "Hakeem" when they were the Twin Towers, and I thought that line worked better with the old spelling.


Too soon.
   1242. Booey Posted: June 11, 2012 at 05:17 PM (#4154144)
I did it recently - someone on that Lab Notes/OT/Politics thread referred to "since the twin towers were blown up", to which I responded "Akeem Olajuwon and Ralph Sampson got blown up?" because, after all, he was "Akeem" and not "Hakeem" when they were the Twin Towers, and I thought that line worked better with the old spelling.


Maybe that's where I saw it before. I did read that comment, and I remember thinking that it was interesting that someone as young as you would think of Akeem and Sampson as the "Twin Towers" rather than Duncan and Robinson. :)
   1243. Famous Original Joe C Posted: June 11, 2012 at 05:22 PM (#4154149)
Maybe that's where I saw it before. I did read that comment, and I remember thinking that it was interesting that someone as young as you would think of Akeem and Sampson as the "Twin Towers" rather than Duncan and Robinson. :)

Fair point - I grew up with tapes of 80s Celtics playoff games in my house, including a couple from the 1986 Finals. Used to watch them as a kid.
   1244. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: June 11, 2012 at 05:50 PM (#4154163)
I just remember them keying on Oscar Schmidt, the Brazilian scoring machine, and Schmidt ended up shooting 8-25 and getting five of his shots blocked. What was cool was that after the game Schmidt went over and shook everyone's hand — he was so excited just to be on the same court as those guys.


1987 Tony Kornheiser article about Oscar Schmidt
   1245. baudib Posted: June 11, 2012 at 05:50 PM (#4154164)
Good point on Nique, although I'm sure he grew up a U.S. citizen? anyway

PG Steve Nash, Tony Parker
SG Manu Ginobili, Drazen Petrovic
SF Dominique Wilkins, Detlef Schrempf, Andrei Kirilenko
PF Dirk Nowitzki, Paul Gasol
C Akeem Olajuwon, Yao Ming, Dikembe Mutombo

I actually want to put Kukoc on this team over Yao Ming and just play Hakeem 40 minutes a game.
   1246. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: June 11, 2012 at 06:01 PM (#4154171)
Kirilenko looks like the weak link on that club. You might be better off with Peja Stojakovic. There are so many good centers that the SF does not need to be tall or have any defensive presence.

Edit: I see you had Stojakovic in the earlier version.
   1247. Athletic Supporter can feel the slow rot Posted: June 11, 2012 at 06:05 PM (#4154172)
Sabonis?
   1248. baudib Posted: June 11, 2012 at 06:11 PM (#4154174)
I started off by thinking Sabonis should be on the team but I'm not sure he's better than Ming/Mutombo/Gasol? Certainly probably historically underrated.

Man, I really think Kirilenko is indispensable going up against Jordan/Magic/LeBron types.
   1249. smileyy Posted: June 11, 2012 at 06:17 PM (#4154179)
Certainly probably historically underrated.


I feel like data about peak Sabonis is sadly underrated. OTOH, given what we saw of him starting at age 31 in the NBA, I'd take 25-year-old Sabonis in a heartbeat over, e.g., Gasol and maybe even Yao.

I'd love to see theoretical NBA-developed young Sabonis vs. theoretical healthy Bill Walton.
   1250. Los Angeles El Hombre of Anaheim Posted: June 11, 2012 at 06:20 PM (#4154180)
Can anyone speak intelligently about Sabonis in Europe? The stories are crazy, but... 33 years old, bad knees, overweight, and he puts up 16-10-3 every night knocking down 18-footers while throwing one-handed passes around from the post. Bill Walton called him the best passing center of all time.

I would have liked to have seen that guy.
   1251. smileyy Posted: June 11, 2012 at 06:25 PM (#4154181)
[1250] Hell, he shot 39/104 from 3 in his first year.

http://www.basketball-reference.com/players/s/sabonar01.html
   1252. baudib Posted: June 12, 2012 at 01:33 AM (#4154407)
Some comparisons between Sabonis and a few great U.S.-born centers.

Took Sabonis' per 36 minutes stats for his NBA career and compared it to some other great centers at age 31+. I'm horrible at coding and tables and such, so apologies for that.

Sabonis 17.8/10.9/3.1 1.2 steals 1.6 blocks 2.6 turnovers .500 FG% .574 TS% .200 WS/48
Ewing 20.3/10.5/1.8 0.9 steals 2.2 blocks 3.0 turnovers .477 FG% .531 TS% .137 WS/48
Malone 20.3/11.6/1.5 0.8 steals 1.2 blocks 2.9 turnovers .473 FG% .562 TS% .154 WS/48
Robinson 18.0/10.8/2.0 1.3 steals 2.6 blocks 2.2 turnovers .500 FG% .565 TS% .235 WS/48


you know, Sabonis' career NBA numbers look a lot like Bill Walton's career numbers

Sabonis 470 games 12.0/7.3/2.1 0.8/1.1 .500 FG% .574 TS% .200 WS/48
Walton 468 games 13.3/10.5/3.4 0.8/2.2 .521 FG% .551 TS% .151 WS/48

Per 36
Sabonis 17.8/10.9/3.1
Walton 16.9/13.4/4.3

55% of Walton's games came before age 31.
   1253. Athletic Supporter can feel the slow rot Posted: June 12, 2012 at 02:38 AM (#4154423)
I wouldn't call my opinion informed, but in addition to all the stories, there seems to be a strong consensus that Sabonis is the greatest USSR player of all time. Given that the USSR was the second-best basketball-playing country in the world, also by a significant margin... I think Sabonis is certainly better than Yao, and I strongly suspect he was better than Mutombo. Mutombo was never all that good of an offensive player. Sabonis, from all appearances (including some grainy youtube highlight videos -- obviously selected), had great post moves, a good face-up game, and was an exceptional passer. I think the biggest question is how his defense would have translated -- probably the thing that most went away before he came to the US, and naturally you'd expect him to dominate against generally lower-caliber opposition simply by virtue of being tall and not clumsy. Not sure what the answer to that is.
   1254. baudib Posted: June 12, 2012 at 03:51 AM (#4154434)
I'm not sure I'd so comfortably take Sabonis over Yao Ming, especially basing it off the fact that he's his country's greatest player.

First off, Sabonis is Lithuanian. I'm going into a long, boring note about countries and ethnicities. Most notably, he is not Russian. Lithuania declared independence from the USSR in 1990. Sabonis played for the USSR in 1988, the team that sparked the creation of the Dream Team (Sabonis was barely ambulatory during the Games), but he played for Lithuania in 1992 and 1996, where he won bronze medals. Russia has never won an Olympic medal.

So you are talking about the greatest player from a very tiny, basketball-obsessed nation (Lithuania) or a very large country (USSR) that was collectively very indifferent to basketball (hockey is a lot more popular and in particular, the Russians are very good at it). Only 6 and arguably only 5 of the 12 members of the 1972 Soviet team were Russians. I don't know anything about Sergei Kovalenko, but he was born in China in 1947, which was under Russian occupation. Kovalenko is a very common Ukrainian name, and he died in the Ukraine.

Anyway, Ming came from a titanic population, and China is by far the biggest basketball power in Asia. In any event, 1 billion+ people is a pretty staggering number, and we're talking about guys over 7-foot-3, and thus we have pretty ridiculous outliers.

I mean, I don't think that it holds that Sabonis must be better than Olajuwon because Lithuania/USSR is a greater basketball power than Nigeria.

Yao Ming is 20th all-time in TS%. If you take away the guys whose USG is below 19 (Yao was at 26%), thus taking out guys like Tyson Chandler and James Donaldson, he's 13th. The thing that separates him from almost every other great center is that he shot 83% on FTs.

This is a really, really good player.
***
P.S. I'm Asian.
***
The International Dream Team committee, led by the Italian faction, is making an appeal to have Kobe Bryant included based on him spending his formative years learning basketball in Europe.
   1255. GregD Posted: June 12, 2012 at 09:12 AM (#4154481)
baudib, I agree totally that you can't judge players based on their home country's relative performance. Olajuwon is great no matter how Nigeria's basketball program does. For sure. And I also think Yao is self-evidently a very high peak player, and obviously someone with no real comparables (other actually than Sabonis.)

But there's something off about your emphasis on Sabonis' ethnicity. Sabonis was born and raised in the USSR when the USSR was clearly the second best program in the world--9 medals, with 2 golds, the only country other than the US with more than 1 gold. The fact that many of the best players weren't ethnically Russian is interesting, as is Russia's struggles since independence, but not that relevant. Like you, I'm not sure what we can learn from Sabonis' standing among USSR players--since none of the rest are going to be on the non-US Dream Team, but I also don't see that we learn anything by worrying about the degree to which he should be seen as a product of Lithuanian or Soviet hoops. During his formative years, they were parts of a whole.

Most people seem to think Sabonis was a highly unusual talent; the quote I remember from a scout was 7-foot-2 Larry Bird. That probably isn't literally true since a 7-2 guy with Larry Bird's abilities would obviously be the greatest player ever by a good margin. But a hugely unusual player.

Of course Olajuwon was an all-time great on the court, not in scouting reports. And Ming was a highly unusual, effective player for a shortish time. So I wouldn't bump either for Sabonis.

But I think I would pick Sabonis over Mutombo.
   1256. NJ in DC (Now with temporary employment!) Posted: June 12, 2012 at 09:23 AM (#4154488)
Heat in 7 and I've never felt less confident.

I started watching basketball in the '92-'93 season. This is the most excited I've been for a Finals matchup since Sixers-Lakers and the most excited I've ever been for a non-Knicks Finals. Hopefully it makes up for missing out on a couple Lakers-Cavs Finals.
   1257. Famous Original Joe C Posted: June 12, 2012 at 09:27 AM (#4154490)
Heat in 7 and I've never felt less confident.

I started watching basketball in the '92-'93 season. This is the most excited I've been for a Finals matchup since Sixers-Lakers and the most excited I've ever been for a non-Knicks Finals. Hopefully it makes up for missing out on a couple Lakers-Cavs Finals.


Piggybacking off NJ here - Thunder in seven, and I agree - most excited I've been for a non-Celtics Final since....1993. Should be great.
   1258. NJ in DC (Now with temporary employment!) Posted: June 12, 2012 at 09:44 AM (#4154502)
To clarify, I think this is the most exciting non-Knicks Finals in my NBA watching memory and definitely more exciting than Sixers-Lakers, though I was really pumped for that one. OKC-MIA, PHI-LAL and CHI-SEA are my 3.
   1259. JC in DC Posted: June 12, 2012 at 09:47 AM (#4154504)
But there's something off about your emphasis on Sabonis' ethnicity. Sabonis was born and raised in the USSR when the USSR was clearly the second best program in the world--9 medals, with 2 golds, the only country other than the US with more than 1 gold.


I agree with this. Isn't "China" a bit like the Soviet Union, anyway, in the sense that one can speak of both as one thing (with enormous land masses and populations), but that belies the fact that they are (or were) cobbled together different ethnic and language populations?
   1260. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: June 12, 2012 at 10:01 AM (#4154520)
I'm not sure I'd so comfortably take Sabonis over Yao Ming, especially basing it off the fact that he's his country's greatest player.
I agree that's not a good argument, given that we're talking about wild outliers and not population means.

However, I think it's pretty clearly better to be the best Lithuanian baller from Sabonis' era than the best Chinese baller from Ming's era. Lithuanians were providing the backbone of Olympic champion squads for the USSR while China was producing Yao Ming and, what, Wang Zhizhi? I'd love it if China became a sporting power in a sport I like, but they aren't one now, and they don't really compare yet even to Lithuania in the '80s.
   1261. AROM Posted: June 12, 2012 at 10:36 AM (#4154545)
I don't think the relative populations and basketball power of their countries is relevant here. It would be if all we had to go on is their play within those countries, and whether one player's 35 pts/23 rebounds is more impressive than the other's. But both of these guys played in the NBA.

WS48 puts them both at .200. While that stat isn't going to tell the full story, it's a decent starting point for their per minute effectiveness. Sabonis played 7 years and averaged 1625 minutes. Yao played 7 years (excluding his 5 games last year) and averaged 2247 minutes. Based on minutes, Yao's NBA career was more valuable. But given that he played his peak years and Sabonis only played from age 31, when by all accounts he was a broken down version of what he once was, I'm pretty sure Sabonis at his peak was the greater player. And Sabonis at his peak might have been as good as any big man to ever play the game.
   1262. Booey Posted: June 12, 2012 at 10:45 AM (#4154554)
Most anticipated Finals for me since '98, and the most exciting non-Jazz one since '93.

Thunder in 6.
   1263. AROM Posted: June 12, 2012 at 10:54 AM (#4154563)
I'll pick the Heat, but with no certainty. I feel it's like a 51/49 situation. I hope it goes 7, and I hope LeBron and Durant put up a legendary battle that reminds of Bird/Dominique back in 1988.
   1264. Der-K and the statistical werewolves. Posted: June 12, 2012 at 10:57 AM (#4154566)
No idea on the finals. I'll go OKC in 6.
I'm with AROM on Sabonis.
Messina's joining CSKA.
   1265. JuanGone..except1game Posted: June 12, 2012 at 11:23 AM (#4154595)
And Sabonis at his peak might have been as good as any big man to ever play the game.


I was thinking of a good comp for possible peak Sabonis. The Walton one might be to obviuos so I keep coming back to a rich man's Brad Daugherty.

Excited about the Finals, though I'm sorry but nothing eclipses a LAL/BOS final.
OKC in 6.
   1266. HMS Moses Taylor Posted: June 12, 2012 at 11:29 AM (#4154607)
I feel it's like a 51/49 situation. I hope it goes 7

Yes, I think it's pretty close and I would love to see 7 games. I think the longer the series goes, the better it is for Miami (meaning, Bosh should be healthier). I am picking Miami.

---

Seeing the words "Knicks" and "exciting" in the same sentence is confusing me.
   1267. andrewberg Posted: June 12, 2012 at 11:37 AM (#4154614)
Count me in the 50/50 camp. For the sake of having a pick, I'll say Miami in 6, just because I had MIA over OKC in 6 in our playoff predictions and I might as well stay consistent.

I was thinking of classic Finals matchups this morning. Why are we letting go of 08 so quickly? That was a matchup of great teams and the historical context made it pretty thrilling. Other than that, it feels like we're back on the plane of those 90s series where the Finals were like a Godzilla movie every year. Instead of Godzilla vs. Mothra, Godzilla vs. Megalon, we had Jordan vs. Magic, Jordan vs. Barkley, Jordan vs. Malone/Stockton. All 6 series had interesting story lines.
   1268. Famous Original Joe C Posted: June 12, 2012 at 11:39 AM (#4154619)
Why are we letting go of 08 so quickly?

I'm not! That was the greatest Finals since 1986, right?

Oh, right.
   1269. robinred Posted: June 12, 2012 at 11:42 AM (#4154623)
Kirk Goldsberry piece in NY Times breaking down shot tendencies etc. of players in the finals. Includes interactive roll-over graphics for each player.

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2012/06/11/sports/basketball/nba-shot-analysis.html

Goldsberry's site is:

CourtVisionAnalytics.com
   1270. My name is Votto, and I love to get blotto Posted: June 12, 2012 at 11:43 AM (#4154624)
Miami has the best player and a better defense. OKC has a little more balance on offense, is deeper and has homecourt advantage. Both coaches are more or less unproven, but both have made adjustments in the postseason that have been beneficial. If forced to pick, I'd go with Miami, because their two best guys are two-way impact players.

My only complaint: the 9 pm tipoff.
   1271. robinred Posted: June 12, 2012 at 11:51 AM (#4154629)
This matchup is similar in some ways to 1992, and as suggested before, some James fans are hoping for a Jordan/Drexler thing with him and Durant.

The NBA never came up with a brand name for its championship round/game:

Super Bowl
World Series
Stanley Cup (this one is different than the other three, but it has the same effect)
Final Four

The World Cup is different but also has that instant recognition factor.

They try by capitalizing "The Finals" (I notice people capitalizing "Finals" in the thread) and using the fancy lettering every year, but it's not really the same IMO.
   1272. robinred Posted: June 12, 2012 at 12:11 PM (#4154650)
Why are we letting go of 08 so quickly?


Bynum and Ariza weren't there, so it really wasn't that great, although the lead-in/hype was exciting for those who are into LAL/BOS and NBA history. Boston mostly controlled the series and the matchups. It was "thrilling" for you because Kevin Garnett beat Kobe Bryant and made the Minnesota reference in the celebration.

What would have been the best matchup for NBA fans in general between LAL/BOS was 2009, had Garnett stayed healthy and had Boston made it out of the East (and that was not a given). The teams played on Christmas Day in LA in 2008; Boston came in at 27-2 with a 19-game winning streak. The Lakers came in at 23-5. Bynum was healthy at that moment; Ariza was starting to emerge, and Garnett hadn't gone down yet. The teams played a close, exciting game, won by the Lakers. If the teams had met in those forms in 2009 it would have been a very exciting series.

   1273. andrewberg Posted: June 12, 2012 at 12:18 PM (#4154658)
My only complaint: the 9 pm tipoff.


AKA the first tipoff I will get to see since before the conference finals.

It was "thrilling" for you because Kevin Garnett beat Kobe Bryant and made the Minnesota reference in the celebration.


Also, because I had a roommate from Boston who was as big of a fan, and really good Pearl Jam tickets the night that game 7 was scheduled. That game 6 win made me happy in about as many ways as a non-Minnesota victory could.
   1274. AROM Posted: June 12, 2012 at 12:44 PM (#4154685)
If the teams had met in those forms in 2009 it would have been a very exciting series.


I don't think I could take any more excitement than what we actually got in 2010. Maybe both teams would have played better basketball had they been at their January 2009 levels. But for a 7 game series, with game 7 being close down to the final minutes, 2010 was tough to top.
   1275. JuanGone..except1game Posted: June 12, 2012 at 12:49 PM (#4154692)
I don't think I could take any more excitement than what we actually got in 2010. Maybe both teams would have played better basketball had they been at their January 2009 levels. But for a 7 game series, with game 7 being close down to the final minutes, 2010 was tough to top.


Agreed. I don't think that its my Lakers bias in thinking that this was a historic series. 2 of the league's best franchises, multiple HOFs with a few inner circle guys, 7 games, met recently in another bitter finals and they plain hated each other. Not to discount this series, but I don't get people needing to go back to the 90's for a superb Finals matchup. Probably some BOS/LAL fatigue, I guess.
   1276. baudib Posted: June 12, 2012 at 12:56 PM (#4154702)
I'm more excited about this Finals than any (not counting Sixers-Lakers) since Jordan-Barkley.

I'm going to say Heat in 7, and I don't feel confident about that one, either. I can't say I have a strong rooting interesting because I probably won't be disappointed if OKC wins. I haven't really had a strong rooting interest in most years; I rooted heavily for Detroit in 04/05, Miami in '06. I rooted against the Bulls every year and for the Celtics in '08 and '10, after which I swore to never root for them again.

   1277. AROM Posted: June 12, 2012 at 01:09 PM (#4154720)
I rooted against the Bulls every year and for the Celtics in '09, after which I swore to never root for them again.


Believe it or not, I rooted for them in the Pitino years. I thought the idea of the Kentucky Celtics was cool. When Pitino left I didn't really care one way or another until 2008. I didn't really like the way the superteam was so quickly constructed, and they are the biggest reason why I had no problem at all with the construction of the Miami superteam. If Boston can do it, why not someone else?
   1278. Booey Posted: June 12, 2012 at 01:15 PM (#4154726)
I'm really looking forward to this Finals in large part because in my cynical opinion, there just haven't been many great ones since the '90s (and by "great", I mean interesting to me personally, not the average fan). I enjoyed watching most the '90's Finals for various reasons, but in the post Jordan era, we have:

1999, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2007 - Boring cuz they were absolute mismatches involving an Eastern Conference team that had no business being there, making the eventual winner a foregone conclusion.

2009 - A little better than the above group cuz the Magic were at least a legit Finals team, but they still weren't very interesting (either Cleveland or a healthy Boston would have put up a better Finals match, IMO) and the Lakers were good enough that the end result was still entirely predictable. The 4-1 outcome was exactly what I would have predicted.

2008, 2010 - Great from a competitive standpoint and for fans of NBA history/rivalry kind of stuff, but I tend to find it more exciting when teams and players that haven't won before are competing, so when the two teams that had won the most titles are competing for yet another, it's kindof a yawner for me. 2008 held a little interest just cuz Garnett, Pierce, Allen, and Gasol hadn't won rings yet, but as I mentioned earlier I strongly disliked both teams and how they built them, so it was more a series where I wanted to see both of them lose somehow than it was caring about who won. The rematch in 2010 held no interest for me at all and may have been the only Finals in the last 20 years that I didn't see a single minute of.

2005 - Very competitive, but defensive slugfests are just so damn boring! I liked the Spurs (small market, homegrown stars, etc), but even I admit they weren't particularly exciting to watch. And the Pistons were an excruciating '90's Knicks/Heat type of throwback team. Too lazy to look it up, but I think I remember this series to be one of the worst rated of all time, and from an entertainment standpoint, deservedly so.

2006 - I actually was excited about this one, but hindsight clouds my judgment. It's impossible to think of this now as anything other than a travesty.

2004 - I was really looking forward to this one too and I badly wanted Malone to get his ring (the only time I've ever rooted for the Lakers in the Finals), but once he went down I pretty much stopped caring. Surprisingly non-competitive. But I think this was the first Finals I was truly surprised by the result (I predicted an easy Lakers win).

So that leaves 2000 and 2011 as my favorites of the post Jordan era. The Shaq/Kobe duo hadn't won yet by 2000 so I wasn't sick of them yet, and Miller and the Pacers were long overdue for a Finals appearance after falling just short pretty much every other year in the '90s. And 2011 featured a long time contender led by two likeable HOFers (Dirk, Kidd) finally breaking through for their first title, against (IMO) an unlikeable superfriends team that tried to take the easy route to winning a championship.

I'm hoping (and expecting) 2012 beats them all.
   1279. Booey Posted: June 12, 2012 at 01:16 PM (#4154729)
I don't get people needing to go back to the 90's for a superb Finals matchup. Probably some BOS/LAL fatigue, I guess.


Exactly this (for me at least).
   1280. robinred Posted: June 12, 2012 at 01:18 PM (#4154730)
I don't think I could take any more excitement than what we actually got in 2010


I agree that 2010 was great theater, and was obviously a huge deal for the two fanbases, but as I said in the post, I was talking about fans in general and the January 2009 versions of the teams would have worked better for them, as you note. Game 7 in 2010 was ugly and not that compelling if you didn't care who won. It was, however, as hard-fought as any game I have ever seen.

The matchup starting tonight will be fun even if you don't really care who wins (I am rooting for OKC very mildly, but I will be fine with it if Miami wins, so I am pretty much in that group). Also, the "Will LeBron finally win or will his ringlessness continue?" storyline is the type that brings in casual fans.
   1281. Joey B.: posting for the kids of northeast Ohio Posted: June 12, 2012 at 01:27 PM (#4154745)
Miami has the best player and a better defense.

I'm not so sure their defense is really that much better when you take into account that the West is deeper and better than the East is.
   1282. AROM Posted: June 12, 2012 at 01:41 PM (#4154760)
I don't think there is that much difference in the conferences this year. Probably as balanced as you are likely to see.

1. The West had the better record, but take the Bobcraps out and the East is actually over .500

2. Playoff team wins:
East: 50,46,42,40,39,37,36,35
West: 50,47,41,41,40,38,36,36

Average West playoff team won 0.5 more regular season games than the East.
   1283. AROM Posted: June 12, 2012 at 01:48 PM (#4154771)
Never mind, scratch that. Worse than I thought. Looking at interconference East was 114-156. Removing Bobcats and they are still 112-140.

My mistake earlier in removing Bobcats 7-59 from East overall record, since most of those losses just go to padding the records of other Eastern teams.
   1284. NJ in DC (Now with temporary employment!) Posted: June 12, 2012 at 01:49 PM (#4154773)
If my team isn’t involved in the Finals I think the biggest factors for excitement are a.) Teams evenly matched on paper or b.) Individual stars who play the same/similar positions. This is the rare Finals that has both.
   1285. AROM Posted: June 12, 2012 at 01:56 PM (#4154777)
Once I break down the records it's a little shocking. Lotto teams Minnesota, Golden State, and New Orleans had 7-11 records against the East. That's the same record that playoff teams Boston, Philadelphia, and Orlando had against the West.

I'm almost afraid to check what the league records were in previous years, when despite the small number of interconference games we'd see West teams with 50 wins making the 8 seed in the playoffs while the East 8 seed wins about 35.
   1286. baudib Posted: June 12, 2012 at 01:58 PM (#4154781)
I don't think the difference in conference strength is going to make much difference in comparing the defenses. OKC ranked 17th in points allowed and 11th in Def RTG. Miami was 4th in both. Last year, Dallas played a defensive style that gave Miami fits and that was readily apparent from the regular season matchups. I'm not sure it's the same this year, tho OKC did beat them 103-87 at home.

   1287. Fourth True Outcome Posted: June 12, 2012 at 02:08 PM (#4154790)
I agree with baudlib that the individual teams here seem more relevant than conference strength overall. I think the Heat should be favorites, partially because, as Sebastian Pruiti points out at Grantland today, their defense is well-organized to stifle the Thunder pick and rolls, which are a lot of what runs OKC's offense.
   1288. andrewberg Posted: June 12, 2012 at 02:40 PM (#4154815)
Hollinger's slight preference for the Thunder came from the fact that the teams appear evenly matched, but that (a) Miami has all of their big 3 and their regular and post-season numbers were weighed down by stretches when they were missing one or more, and (b) Miami can keep their bench shorter, which is another relative weakness that won't show up in this series. In other words, both teams were about +6/48min for the regular season, but Miami is better than that with all of the big 3 and better than that with a shorter bench. With both in play, their advantage probably offsets home court and a bit more.
   1289. Guapo Posted: June 12, 2012 at 02:49 PM (#4154829)
Is this the first time that meteorological phenomena have faced off in a professional sports final?
   1290. Dandy Little Glove Man Posted: June 12, 2012 at 02:56 PM (#4154844)
I'm not so sure their defense is really that much better when you take into account that the West is deeper and better than the East is.

This is a good point. I find it very hard to believe that the weaker conference possesses each of the top 6 defenses in the league, and I'd wager that a 2-3 point adjustment is warranted. Then Memphis, the top rated defense in the West, would be on par with Philly and just a point behind Boston and Chicago, and OKC and Miami would be about the same. I'll be really interested to see how Ibaka plays in this series and whether he can be effective helping on LeBron and Wade or if he has his hands full with Bosh.

Last night I watched the flu game on NBATV, and it looks like the game will be aired again today at 5:00 Eastern. Obviously I'm biased, but that was just a tremendously compelling game. It's striking how the defenders consistently challenged penetration and shots around the rim rather than trying to draw a charge, and how getting to the free throw line wasn't a clear objective on offense. I think that OKC-Miami can be similarly compelling, and it certainly has the individual talent and storylines to be both dramatic and fun to watch, though I fear that persistent whistles may take away from my personal enjoyment of the games.
   1291. baudib Posted: June 12, 2012 at 03:01 PM (#4154849)
Is this the first time that meteorological phenomena have faced off in a professional sports final?


Yes, except I don't know anything about soccer teams.

The NHL has the Hurricanes and Lightning, but they play in the same conference. The closest you have is the Lightning beating the Flames in 2004.

Not sure if teams like the Suns or Stars count.
   1292. baudib Posted: June 12, 2012 at 03:04 PM (#4154856)
I think Jordan was faking it.
   1293. Famous Original Joe C Posted: June 12, 2012 at 03:19 PM (#4154878)
Is this the first time that meteorological phenomena have faced off in a professional sports final?

It's definitely the first NBA Finals between two teams whose nicknames don't end in an 's'.
   1294. AROM Posted: June 12, 2012 at 03:30 PM (#4154894)
The prospect of matching up with Durant reminds me too much of last year and Dirk. When a guy that tall can hit the outside shot, you just have to tip your hat to him, there really isn't any second guessing about what you could have done better on defense. But I'll stick with my pick of Miami for the series.
   1295. Booey Posted: June 12, 2012 at 03:34 PM (#4154903)
I think Jordan was faking it.


I believe that he was actually sick, but it's definitely been exaggerated for dramatic effect over the years. He seems to get sicker every time a writer mentions that game in a column. Before the game it was described as a mild stomach virus and there was never any doubt that he was gonna play.

Or maybe I'm just bitter. Most likely a little of both...
   1296. Los Angeles El Hombre of Anaheim Posted: June 12, 2012 at 03:41 PM (#4154911)
I picked the Heat before the season, so I'll stick with that. I'm mildly rooting for the Thunder if only because they beat the Lakers, and I'd rather lose to eventual champs than the also-rans, but it's not much of a lean either way.

I'm hoping for 7 games, like everyone else. The regular season's gone, of course, but in the two season match-ups, Durant scored 30 and 28. I'm not sure if KD's going to guard James very often, but I'm betting we see a large dose of James on Durant. That's what I wanna see.
   1297. JL Posted: June 12, 2012 at 03:46 PM (#4154914)
I believe that he was actually sick, but it's definitely been exaggerated for dramatic effect over the years. He seems to get sicker every time a writer mentions that game in a column. Before the game it was described as a mild stomach virus and there was never any doubt that he was gonna play.

Or maybe I'm just bitter. Most likely a little of both...


I agree, and remember this being the MO for reports on Jordan, particularly during the height of his playing days. Every little cough or sniffle was reported and then became a part of the story, particularly when the Bulls won. For a super star athlete, he seemed to be sick once a week. As a Pistons fan attending the University of Illinios in the early 90s, I thought it was just my bias showing through. But when a friend down the hall, who breathed Bulls basketball, noted the same issue, I realized it was not just in my head.
   1298. smileyy Posted: June 12, 2012 at 03:49 PM (#4154916)
I think Jordan was faking it.


He did a good job of being pale and almost falling over everytime the whistle blew.

Would the story change if he played that game brutally hung over? Because I suspect most of the issue was fatigue and dehydration.
   1299. NJ in DC (Now with temporary employment!) Posted: June 12, 2012 at 03:53 PM (#4154919)
He did a good job of being pale

Um...
   1300. andrewberg Posted: June 12, 2012 at 03:55 PM (#4154922)
The prospect of matching up with Durant reminds me too much of last year and Dirk. When a guy that tall can hit the outside shot, you just have to tip your hat to him, there really isn't any second guessing about what you could have done better on defense.


Miami's defense wasn't bad, either. Dallas shot well from 3, but was well below their 2pt fg% and ppg from the regular season. Not adjusting for pace, the Heat's Finals ppg was 10 below the regular season. Marion really bothered Lebron and they didn't develop a plan B. As was said earlier, the Thunder don't have those elite one-on-one defenders, and they don't have nearly the team defensive scheme Dallas had. That's not to say they can't replicate the results, but it will be difficult.
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