Friday, June 11, 2004

T.G.I.F.

Looks like the area writers have been putting in a little extra time these past few days, because there was a plethora of links to go through, and that despite the fact that a Philadelphia team has not played a game in the last 36 hours...

Todd Zolecki has a notebook looking at Jim Thome's plans with the ball from home run #400, when it comes in the next few days. Paul Hagen has a look back at the scout that "discovered" Thome. Some interesting stuff in there about the "cloak-and-dagger methods" involved with major league scouting. Hagen also writes about the development of Thome's "natural" swing with the assistance of an old manager. He also talks about the possibilities of the makeup game's scheduling, including the (no doubt rare) chance that it would be rescheduled the day after the regular season ended, and played only if it had playoff implications. He also submits this commentary where he says the Phillies front office "should be asking themselves if, all things considered, this $93 million team is playing up to its capabilities." His opinion is that they certainly are not. Finally, this fifth article by Hagen (see, I told you they were busy yesterday, I guess they were bored by the rainout) has some of the Phillies discussing the difficulties of tracking the ball at Minnesota's Metrodome, where they open a series tonight. Kevin Mulligan has nothing good to say about this year's interleague scheduling.

Stephen A. Smith says that Kobe Bryant's "perpetual smirk...indicative of a blase attitude" seems to be fading. I'm not sure what happened to Stephen A.'s article here, or whether his headline writer got things messed up, but the online version has "Bird has the authority to be frank with truth" as the title of this article (perhaps we'll see Smith's opinion on this subject over the weekend). Phil Jasner is out in Detroit covering what is turning out to be a surprising Finals. Shaq seemed to be doing his usual finger pointing after the game, including his comment that this was the "first time in my 10 years I went to the line once. I thought I was getting bumped, but maybe not." Brown managed to get yet another dig in at his former team, saying after last night's game, "Like my players reminded me, we are not the same team as Philly." What he fails to mention is this is not the same Lakers team either. The 2001 squad steamrolled through the playoffs, and the Sixers were the only team to actually made them earn their wins. Jasner also reiterates Allen Iverson's plans to honor his committment to play in the Olympics this summer, joining only Tim Duncan as the original players picked for Team USA. Phil also just had to mention yet again that Iverson "has not spoken with beat reporters since March 20," as if the fans cared about that. Jasner also speculates on who the Sixers will protect in the expansion draft for the new Charlotte Bobcats. Harvey Yavener almost sums up my feelings perfectly when it comes to finding a rooting interest in this Detroit-LA matchup. Al Morganti points out that Brown's "ego gets in the way of winning championships," since that means insisting on "playing the right way," (which is a euphemism for "Larry Brown's way") even if that means losing, as it did in Game 2.

Peter May of the Boston Globe has the NBA's announcement that it would establish a single-season attendance record this year. Through Game 3 of the Finals, 21,810,973 fans have walked through turnstiles in arenas throughout the league this year, making you wonder about rumors of the league's demise in fans' eyes. However, these figures are slightly misleading, as the the NBA fails to mention that they added at least one, and possibly two, games to each series in the first round (up to a total of 16 games for the 8 series played). Figuring each arena at an average of 20,000, that's an increase of 320,000 due to increasing the number of playoff games alone. Not to say that this entirely explains the new "record," but it does appear disingenious on the NBA's part to cite such statistics. A far more telling stat would be average attendance. This is kind of like David Stern being proud that this year's Finals' ratings spiked compared to last year. Again, it's not mentioned that last year's Finals was the lowest rated since the championship round was shown on tape delay back in the 1970s.

Mark Lelinwalla plugs the 14th annual basketball clinic being held Sunday and Monday at the Borgata in Atlantic City. Marc Narducci looks at Nate Robinson, who is facing a similar decision as Jameer Nelson did last summer. Ray Parrillo gets John Nash's opinion of St. Joe's guard Delonte West.

Mark Eckel looks at the ever-evolving role of Brian Westbrook. Bob Brookover looks at the Eagles paying a visit to the Edward Gideon School in North Philly.

Frank Fitzpatrick watched Game 5 of the 1980 Phillies-Astros NLCS on ESPN Classic Monday night, and didn't miss the ads behind the catcher, the sports tickers across the bottom of the screen, or the AFLAC trivia questions. Don Steinberg has a look at some upcoming programming on CN8 and Comcast SportsNet. Ed Moran says that "according to sources, the Flyers have decided not to renew their broadcasters' contracts if the season does not begin on time and there are no games to air." Rich Hofmann noticed there were only 20,000 who showed up for the Tampa Bay Lightning's championship parade, and wondered:
You wonder what is more galling - to be from Boston and to go for decades at one point without being able to beat the Montreal Canadiens in a playoff series, and to go for a lifetime without being able to beat the New York Yankees in a big spot, to be tortured by historical greatness, or to be from Philadelphia and have your lunch eaten three times in less than a year.
I have to admit that ESPN got me. Their "Larry Bird says more white guys are needed in the NBA" controversial headlines of the past couple days got me to tune in last night to Jim Gray's "Two on Two" interview. I have to say that I enjoyed the interview and failed to see what the fuss was all about. The only thing I was upset about midway through is that ESPN resorted to such tactics before the interview was aired to attract attention and ratings. That is a shame, because the interview certainly should have been able to stand on its own merit.

Tonight, CSN has Phillies-Twins at 8:10.

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