Thursday, June 17, 2004

Double Your Pleasure, Double Your Fun?

Because of the non-stop rain here in the city of Philadelphia this week, the Phillies were forced to reschedule last night's game. Todd Zolecki notes today's day-night doubleheader will be the "first-ever home day-night doubleheader requiring separate admissions" in Phillies history. Sorry the first game already started (Business "person's" special, to be politically correct, no?) by the time today's column was posted (laptop problems earlier in the day). Zolecki's notebook has the players disagreeing with Lary Bowa's assessment of the season to date. While Kevin Milwood feels "we should probably be way ahead right now," Bowa says, "with the injuries we've had, I think our team has definitely overachieved." Marcus Hayes has a humorous Doug Glanville commenting on the weather this week and suggesting "maybe we can build arks and race down the Schuykill." Dennis Deitch notes "the Phils have been able to tread water in a division and a league that has no dominant team and where the presumed contenders have been beset by injuries." Hayes also talks about the relationship Bowa struck up with Larry Brown when he was here. Larry (the one who didn't shaft Philadelphia by leaving to coach a conference rival) recalls a conversation with Brown in which he confessed, "I find it difficult to deal with 12 guys. I don't know how you deal with 25."

Speaking of Brown, Chuck Bausman says "yes, we're going to be childish and carry this grudge against the former 76ers coach a little longer. You expected something else?" My sentiments exactly. Bernard Fernandez speaks with Billy King and Aaron McKie and gets their feelings on Brown winning his first NBA title. McKie says, "I'm happy for him. I just wish it could have been with us." Jon Marks of the Trenton Times talks about how excited King "was for his mentor and for the Eastern Conference as a whole, since they would no longer have to put up with hearing how they were the NBA's 'junior varsity' compared to the West." Stephen A. Smith continues to offer mea culpas to the Pistons, "that athletic, feisty, suffocating bunch of bandits given no chance--especially by me--in these NBA Finals." He called the domination over the Lakers a "shellacking the likes of which we haven't seen in some time." He also notes in that article how Joe Dumars "is the first black executive to guide a franchise to an NBA championship." Michael Wilbon, of Washington Post and ESPN's Pardon The Interruption fame, pleads, "can we officially stop with favorably comparing Kobe with Michael Jordan?" Phil Jasner writes of a "Larry moment" earlier in the week when he said that if he won a title, he "might be doing something else" after that, which no doubt had Joe Dumars beginning to mentally compile a short list of replacements. Marc Narducci has King hoping to "move up" in the NBA draft scheduled for next Thursday. "We have talked to some people, but I don't know if it's going to happen," says King. Kevin Mulligan has Jim O'Brien "very, very interested in seeing how Glenn Robinson will be, because I'm putting a lot on Glenn. I think he's going to have a great year and I'm anxious for him to come in ready to go." Rob Knox has a look at Jameer Nelson, and how his dreams of playing in the NBA are close to becoming a reality. He says that some reports having him picked at No. 10 (Cleveland), right after the Sixers 9th pick. A Jameer-LeBron combination? That would be quite an interesting team to watch. Knox concludes, "Nelson has the entire package to flourish and make an impact in a world dominated by giants. Nelson is a winner, a tough on the ball defender, a catalyst every time he’s on the court and quite possibly the steal of the draft."

Adam Kimelman briefly mentions that the Flyers signed R.J. Umberger to a 2-year contract, after he could not reach an agreement earlier with either the Vancouver Canucks or New York Rangers. Bill Conlin has a touching tribute to fallen comrade Ralph Wiley, who died on Sunday. Wiley was a key contributor to ESPN.com's Page 2, and will no doubt be missed.

The New York Post reports that Marv Albert will no longer be the voice of the New York Knicks after a four decades-long relationship. Here's what the Post had to say: "Sources said the Cablevision CEO has sent word to his network executives that negative Knick statistics should be ignored. Knick mistakes shouldn't be replayed. Announcers were told not to compliment Knick opponents. Plus, there should be no video montages extolling the exploits of opponents." So much for journalistic integrity. Aren't we happy the Comcast-Spectacor, owner of the Flyers and Sixers, doesn't impose its will similarly in Comcast SportsNet broadcasters and hosts?

Finally, for those who are "historical statistical geeks" like myself, Fred Kerber notes that the Detroit Pistons are actually the second team to have swept the three middle games at home in the 2-3-2 Finals format. When the Pistons were in Fort Wayne, they actually accomplished the same feat in 1955, the same year the 24-second shot clock was introduced. The next year, the NBA abandoned the 2-3-2 format (after a short 3-year "experiment"), until going back to it in 1985. Interestingly, the team with home court advantage won every one of those series, and those three series also featured two Game 7s (in contrast with the past twenty years using the same format, where we have had the same number--two--Game 7s). With this year's Finals concluded, we now have 20 Finals series under the belt with the "modern" 2-3-2 format. During that time, only 5 teams who began the series on the road walked away with the title (including this year's Pistons). Including the 3 "experimental" years, the teams with home court have won 18 of 23 series, at a 78% winning rate. Also of historical note, until this year, the Minneapolis/LA Lakers had been undefeated (7-0) in the NBA Finals when holding home court advantage under the 2-3-2 format (Note: some of these trends come from information gathered through email conversations with the author of the WhoWins.com website last year). I guess this year's Pistons demonstrated that you can pretty much throw out the statistics when it comes to hustle, hard work, and determination. But it still makes for interesting analysis (if you're into that sort of thing like I am).

CSN has the day-night doubleheader between Tigers-Phillies at 1:05 and 7:35.

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