Thursday, June 24, 2010

The NBA Draft

I WATCH THE NFL DRAFT closely, but I have to admit I don't pay too much attention to the NBA and baseball drafts (or tomorrow's NHL Draft).

The Lakers won't be able to get too much help through the draft anyway, although, at some point, they're going to have to get younger. I think they have a second-round pick coming up; no big deal.


More blog entries by Tom Gillispie

Anecdotes by Tom Gillispie

Blog entries from The Auto Racing Journal:
(a book of great stories about the Intimidator)
(the book of great NASCAR stories)

Friday, June 18, 2010

Relief

IT WAS A RELIEF to see that the Lakers beat the Celtics in Game 7 Thursday night. It was the Lakers' 16th NBA title (one fewer than the Celtics' record 17), and I think it marked the first time the Celtics lost a Game 7.

If the Lakers are playing anyone, it's stressful, but it's worse with the Celtics. I've said that the NBA is at its best when the Lakers and Celtics are good at the same time, and it's true. There are tons of people out there who don't care for either team, but there's no NBA rivalry to match it.

The history alone -- with everyone from George Mikan and Bob Cousy to Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain to Jerry West and John Havlicek to Larry Bird and Magic Johnson to Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett -- is astounding. I don't think it's hyperbole to call this a matchup for the ages.

There was a downside to the victory, though.

It's funny, but the Lakers have won 11 titles during my time as a fan (1969 to present), and I've enjoyed them. But I'd enjoy a Miami Dolphins or Baltimore Orioles championship more. It's been 36 years since the Dolphins won and 27 years since the O's did it. Too long.

The Dolphins could win -- you never know (the Saints did) -- but the Orioles sure aren't going to win anytime soon.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The great hyped hope

IT'S HARD TO REMEMBER someone as hyped as Washington Nationals rookie pitcher Stephen Strasburg. And it's harder to remember someone who was that good in his debut.

Strasburg, who was held down to the minors until this week, struck out 14 batters in his D.C. debut, including the last seven batters he faced in his seven-inning stint. He twice hit 100 mph on his fastball and toyed with the Pirates.

Amazing.

Let's hope he has better long-term luck than David Clyde and other would-be wonders.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Remembering Wooden

I love the stories about UCLA coaching legend John Wooden, who just died. He had his rules to live by, including my favorite, be quick but don't hurry. He never scouted opponents, since he was more concerned about his own team. If they did things the right way — even worrying about the way they put on their socks — they'd win. And they did.

I found several online stories and photo packages on Wooden.

I enjoyed these photos in the Washington Post, including one of Wooden and wife Nell taken when Wooden first got the UCLA job in 1948.

The N.Y. Times probably did one of the better stories on Wooden.

Here's the Associated Press story, found on the N.Y. Post web site.

Here's the best site I've found so far, at ESPN. There's film about Wooden, of course. One expert said that Wooden won 10 national championships in a row; he won 10 in 12 years, ending in 1975.

There's also a nice section on Fox Sports.

There are more, and I'll find some of them.

More blog entries by Tom Gillispie

Anecdotes by Tom Gillispie

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Wooden's condition

I WAS A LITTLE STUNNED when my wife told me that a newspaper was reporting that former UCLA coach/legend John Wooden had died. I didn't feel much better later when she said that they're reporting now that he's in grave condition.

Wooden, 99, was a big part of my youth, as I followed college basketball. The UCLA Bruins won 10 titles under Wooden, the first man to become a college hall of famer as both a coach and player. Wooden, so calm on the bench and always ready to give advice, seemed special to me.

It's funny, but my biggest memory of Wooden is him sitting quietly on the bench with his legs crossed, holding a folded piece of paper.

Simply not perfect

LIKE MOST FANS WHO watched the replay, I was appalled at the safe call that ruined a perfect game Wednesday night. The runner was clearly out, and there's been a backlash. The first-base umpire, Jim Joyce, has taken a lot of grief, and various "experts" have said that Commissioner Bud Selig should decree that the Cleveland Indian baserunner was out.

The pitcher, the Detroit Tigers' Armando Galarraga, has taken it well, though, although I can't help but think that the almost-perfect game will haunt him forever. Whether he says so or no.

The mistake is a good argument for instant replay, and some people have argued that, with existing technology, you don't even need umpires. The problem is that you can't argue with technology; it won't argue back.