First, I would like to thank Justin (a.k.a. Coach) for giving me the pulpit this week. This column usually refers to me as Lawyer Dan, yet I still have one more year of law school before I become a lawyer. I am from
New York (big Mets and Jets fan), went to UNC (Go Heels!) and now live one block from the Pacific Ocean in (not really Go Lakers). I went to graduate school with Justin at NYU, and was with him when he got the job with the Braves at the 2006 baseball winter meetings (I definitely recommend every baseball fan to attend the annual winter meetings once and observe the epic lobby scene featuring a who’s who of baseball’s wheelers and dealers). Santa Monica, California
I apologize in advance for the lack of commentary about country music, barbecue joints in the South and
baseball/football/basketball/gymnastics teams. University of Georgia
I don’t know about you, but I have gotten used to the buzzing sound of the vuvuzelas at the FIFA World Cup™. Maybe it is because of the double audio filter now implemented by ESPN, but I barely notice those horns anymore. I don’t think the vuvuzelas will come to the
anytime soon (see the harsh reaction to the vuvuzela promotion at Saturday night’s Rays-Marlins game), but the misconception that the vuvuzelas have a long history in South African culture must come to an end. “Originally made of tin, the vuvuzela rose to popularity in U.S. at football matches in the late 1990s. Its fate was sealed in 2001, when South-African-based company Masincedane Sport began to mass-produce a plastic version, thereby making it essential kit for football supporters across the country” (source: MacMillan Dictionary). A 10-year history! Please! Internationally, the vuvuzelas are more closely associated with Mexican soccer than anywhere else. South Africa
I have been watching one game a day (it is tough here on the West Coast when the games come on at 4:30, 7, and 11:30 AM), so I am not qualified to adequately pontificate about the tournament. For a great daily recap of the games, check out the roundup columns by David Mosse (disclosure: I grew up and have been friends with the soccer genius after he moved to the
U.S. from when he was 10 years old) and Zac Lee Rigg on Goal.com. Here is David Mosse’s roundup from Day 9, posted on Sunday. Brazil
Here is one stat that I came across: South American teams are 7-0-2 thus far in the tournament. Furthermore, a South American squad has won every FIFA World Cup™ played outside of European soil. All signs point to another South American title in 2010.
As mentioned above, I now live in
Los Angeles, and although I have tuned out the NBA the last few years (thank you Knicks), many of my friends consider the Lakers their favorite sports team (can you blame them after winning 16 titles?). I asked Cal David, a law school buddy and diehard Lakers fan, to provide his Game 7 atmosphere: L.A.
On Thursday afternoon I posted this status message on my facebook: “I am so geeked for the game tonight! 6 can't come soon enough. The game of my generation!” In my life as an avid Laker, Dodger and Cal Football fan I have never been so excited and nervous for a game. To truly understand the meaning of this game I need to take you back to game 4 of the 2008 finals. I was in
, watching amongst mostly neutral “we just want to a see a good game” fans. With the Lakers taking a double digit lead into the half, I felt secure that the series would be tied and the stage would be set for an epic game 7. As the shit hit the fan and everyone in the bar turned against the Lakers, rooting for an epic comeback, I watched in agony as the Lakers let the championship slip away. I found myself kicking a box, yes a cardboard box, for ten minutes down a very public street. I got some very interesting stares that day. Berkeley
So the stage was set for game 7, 2010. I was back in LA, watching amongst true Laker fans and lifelong friends. With the score tied midway through the 4th (I was 7 beers in at this point out of sheer shit-in-my-pants nervousness) we all knew that win or lose we would remember this game for the rest of our lives. And then Ron Ron hit The Three, The Machine was The Machine, Gasol grabbed The Rebound, KB24 ran the ball down and us Laker fans experienced The Game of Our Generation.
Cal David’s self-proclaimed “Game of Our Generation” ended well for him and the other Lakers lunatics, but if you want a neutral, intelligent take on the captivating Game 7, I urge you to listen to Friday’s monologue by Mike Francesa on WFAN radio in NY.
By the way, the NBA Draft is this Thursday. Expect John Wall to go to the Wizards first overall, Evan Turner to be picked by the Sixers with the second pick, and a big man to get selected by the Nets at number three (Derrick Favors or DeMarcus Cousins). As a UNC fan, I am very interested in where Ed Davis will be picked. If he doesn’t get drafted in the top ten, then his decision to leave
Chapel Hill after two years will be highly questionable. Last year, had a disappointing season on a disappointing Tar Heels team, and he missed the final two months after breaking his wrist in mid-February. I would be intrigued if he is picked 10th by Davis and joins former championship-winning teammate Tyler Hansbrough on the Pacers front line. Indiana
I hope you watched the June 17, 1994 30 for 30 ESPN film. I thought it was amazing, and probably my favorite film in the must-watch 30 for 30 series (nudging ahead of The U and the Hank Gathers documentaries). 6/17/94 was an unforgettable day (I had my
Scarsdale Middle School graduation pool party that day at the town pool), and the documentary was effectively produced exclusively with news and sports footage from that day. No interviews, just incredible footage spliced together with music behind it. I am obsessed with the OJ stuff, and some of the audio (i.e. the communications between the police negotiator and OJ while he is in the back of the White Bronco) and footage (i.e. Bob Costas practicing the most appropriate way to toss NBC’s Game 5 of the NBA Finals to an update from Tom Brokaw about the OJ chase) is never-before-seen and tremendously fascinating. Where is Al Cowlings today? If you are reading this, A.C., please contact me. I know who the #$^& you are. Scarsdale, NY
Trivia question of the week: Which current baseball broadcaster is shown singing the national anthem before Game 5 of the NBA Finals at
? (Extra Credit: What was the connection between the singer and one of the 1994 NBA finalists?) Madison Square Garden
The winner receives an autographed copy of my recently published Loyola of Los Angeles Entertainment Law Review article about how the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft is illegal because it discriminates against
players (and Puerto Ricans and Canadians) based on their country of national origin. They can only enter MLB by signing with the team that drafted them, while international players can sign freely with any team of their choice when they reach the age of 17 (and 16 in some cases depending on their birthday). If you know the answer to the trivia question or are interested in reading my article, email me at email@example.com. Hopefully my legal argument changes the drafting process in baseball someday soon. You heard it here first. U.S.
Links of the week:
- You probably have not read this, but this is the best sports feature article that I have ever read. You may have never heard of Joel Buchsbaum, an NFL draftnik who died nearly a decade ago, but please read about his mysterious and um… unusual existence.
- I just read this article about Bernie Madoff’s life in prison. The
magazine author interviewed more than 20 fellow inmates, and some of the stories about Madoff’s proud, cavalier attitude towards his life-ruining Ponzi scam are unthinkable and cruel. New York
Halftime: If you haven’t had enough of Ron Ron, here is his “new” (recorded last June) rap single “Champion”
I cannot come close to replicating Justin’s weekly baseball thoughts, but here are five:
- The NL East will be the most interesting division in MLB this summer and for the foreseeable future. The young studs, equal competitiveness of the teams and the recent rivalry history (Mets-Phillies especially) should make for fun times for East Coasters.
- Speaking of the NL East, as much as it pains me to post this, here is a stat contribution from the clearly unbiased Coach: The Braves have won 42 straight games when scoring 5+ runs (disclosure: Justin will be fitted for a championship ring if the Braves win it all!).
- This week, C.C. Sabathia earned the many millions that the Steinbrenners are paying him, as the hefty lefty beat Roy Halladay and Johan Santana in consecutive stellar starts.
- Ubaldo Jimenez has as many wins on the road (8-1, 0.80 ERA) as the Orioles (8-29).
- This is why baseball all-star voting by fans is a joke: Taylor Teagarden is currently fourth in the voting for
catcher. Teagarden has recorded one major league hit this year, and he currently plays in Double-A. For the Rangers, with whom he started the season, he's batting .037, with zero homers and zero RBI. Another travesty: Ken Griffey Jr. is third in the voting for AL designated hitter. He will never play another game, and even when Junior was playing this season he hit .184, with zero homers and 7 RBI. He did lead the league in one important category: Clubhouse naps. AL
The 2010 U.S. Open of golf from beautiful
concluded on Sunday night. While watching the broadcast, every time I heard Dan Hicks and crew talk about Dustin Johnson, vivid images of a jolly, former Pebble Beach baseball manager popped into my head. Scary stuff! Speaking of scary stuff, how about Johnson’s performance on Sunday. Putrid. University of Georgia
Personally, I was not that into the U.S. Open once Tiger faded away early on Sunday. I had it on, hoping that I would be dragged in, but with the unheralded Graeme McDowell and a bunch of other golfers that I don’t care about on top of the leaderboard, there were other ways that I wanted to spend my Sunday. I think I am probably indicative of the average golf fan, and the sport is in trouble if this new-and-NOT-improved Tiger Woods cannot return to his prolific form of yesteryear.
I am a huge tennis aficionado (much bigger than golf), and I am excited for Monday’s first ball at
Wimbledon. For a comprehensive preview of the 2010 tournament, here are the thoughts of Todd Keryc, a CBS Sports graphics producer and the commissioner of the annual Grand Slam of Pools™:
- On the men's side, we're set for possibly the most exciting grand slam tournament in years. In the age of Federer, we've seen far too many lopsided and obvious results. In recent years, the
Wimbledon Gentlemen's final has become the gold standard of tennis. In 2007, Rafa Nadal pushed The Mighty Fed to 5 sets and many think he might have won if not for a backloaded schedule due to some unlucky rain delays. In 2008, Nadal finally dethroned TMF in the greatest match ever played. In 2009, with Nadal sidelined, Andy Roddick put on the serving clinic of a lifetime and was not broken until the 77th game of the match to lose 16-14 in the 5th set as Federer broke Pete Sampras' record for slam titles. What could 2010 possibly have in store for us that could even enter the discussion with the last 3 years? Well, if you consider 2007 & 2008 a draw between Federer and Nadal, then 2010 will be the grudge match. Federer has long dominated Wimbledon but Nadal had the answers the last time he took Centre Court. In 2008, Nadal's win was the passing of the torch. After being injured and relinquishing the #1 world ranking back to Federer in 2009, the Spanish Sensation is back atop the world. Can he possibly accomplish the French/Wimbledon double again or is Old Rog still ticking? Add in Roddick's undying desire to win Wimbledon, the Brits' undying desire to see Andy Murray win Wimbledon, and the likes of Djokovic and Soderling and you've got a legitimate tournament.
-On the women's side, Justine Henin returned to the game simply to win
Wimbledon and finish off her career slam. Her game seems perfectly suited to grass but she's been stopped in the final twice before. She's coming off a surprising loss at the French which led to questions about the condition of her game so closely removed from a "retirement." Serena is the defending champion and Venus is always a major factor on the grass. It's now been 6 years since Maria Sharapova became the darling of tennis. Winning Wimbledon at 17 put her firmly on the radar and many expected she'd win a few more at the All-England Club before she was done. Now at 23 she's still looking for the confirmation that what she achieved as a teenager was not a fluke. Francesca Schiavone heads to Wimbledon with a sparkling new line at the top of her resume. The French Open Champion will also have an easier path to the end as a Top 10 player. One of the more unlikely grand slam champions in tennis history, Schiavone has already hit tennis nirvana but another title would put her in an entirely different class.
-On the women's side, Justine Henin returned to the game simply to win
The Grand Slam of Pools™ is run by Todd for each of the tennis majors. I have entered every pool since 2006 and famously won the 2010 Australian Open contest. The rules are simple: Pick the winner of every men’s and women’s match (like an NCAA Tournament bracket pool). Entry fee is $10 and winner takes all. Todd emails informative and humorous daily updates, and I highly recommend all tennis fans to “get-in-the-mix”™ for all future pools. To be added to the mailing list, email Todd at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
One player not at Wimby is my favorite tennis clown, Vince Spadea. The former top-20 tennis player/white rapper is now 36 years old and ranked 500+ in the ATP rankings. He is now forced to play futures tournaments, which are lower than even the challenger tournaments he played in the last couple of years. Spadea’s goal is to play one more match at Wimby, and this funny/sad self-made video details his journey.
The only book recommendation I will give this week is to pick up Vince’s classic book “Break Point,” which details his life on the ATP tour, complete with how to pick up girls while traveling across the globe. Once you read the book, he will become your favorite player, too.
I also suggest following him on twitter (twitter.com/vincespadea). Very random stuff.
I want to close my guest cameo by wishing a very Happy Father’s Day to my dad and all the fathers out there. When you wake up on Monday it will be the first day of summer and the most sunshine of any day of the year. Enjoy it and BE WELL (I had to end with Coach’s catchphrase).
P.S.: Happy 30th birthday, Yosh.