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Jun. 15—Postseason post-op
I believe the NBA has a problem, and it has very little to do with its stances on the problems in our society.
The game before us is hard to watch.
Granted, discussions like this one about the league weighing a rule change so players can alter their form to draw fouls, especially on 3s, will help.
But that's a band-aid when it feels like a tourniquet is more appropriate.
First is the matter of health. Be it conditioning, the bubbled season and next to no offseason, or just the demand put on the freakish bodies of NBA players — 7 footers like KD with handle are physical anomalies — the story of this postseason has been injuries. The Nets have been undone by them. The Lakers were bounced in part because of them. The top-seeds in the East and West — Philly and Utah — are in deadlocked series at least with some blame on them.
And while the above rule change would address at least some of this next issue, the avalanche of Harden-inspired, ball-fake, lift-your-shooting-arm-into-the-defender move in an effort to get to the line makes the game disjointed. It also leads to a cry-fest from every player from KD to Embiid to almost everyone. (Well, everyone other than Kawhi. Side question: Of all the NBA stars of today, who's game would translate to the rough and tumble world of the 1980s and 90s NBA hoops when the stars were men and the non-stars were enforcers? My first pick would be Kawhi. My second would be Luka, who would be a better shooting Magic. I believe LeBron in his prime would have been great too, because they would have beaten all that whining out of him.)
Anywell, the flop-fest and attempts to draw fouls not only disturbs play, it also creates the pantomime of pain from these players and the worst acting jobs since James Van der Beek uttered, "I don't want your life" in "Varsity Blues."
Which leads me to this question? Of the remaining NBA teams, what Finals match-up would be best for the league?
I know Mader is going to say the Hawks. (Side note: Speaking of Mader's Hawks, last night's gumption was impressive. Atlanta was down 18 late in the second quarter and rallied for a 103-100 win to tie the series with Philly at 2. It was a must have game, and the Hawks went and took it. Side question on the side note: This may seem counterintuitive to the entire discussion of the issues with the action in the postseason, but at what point does Nate McMillian truly embrace the 'Bang Ben' approach and foul Ben Simmons on almost every meaningful trip down the floor? Simmons is 8-for-25 from the line in the series, and more than the math, this tactic will greatly improve McMillian's matchups. Simmons is a great defender and switched to guard Trae Young after Young's brilliant Game 1 performance. If the Hawks can get Simmons off the floor by making his free throw failures a key part of Game 5, it will help Young more than any high ball screen could.)
So which Finals meeting would make the league smile broadest? I'll start with Clippers and Nets, if for no other reason than city size.
But the Nets have gone from a commanding 2-0 series lead to a 2-2 series and being an underdog at home with Durant as the only healthy member of their Big Three at the moment.
The Clippers? That's anyone's guess.
Not sure there is a good answer for the league, but that's a philosophical issue as much as anything. Because when you market your product about the stars rather than the teams, a star-less Finals sky is lose-lose. Because the drama of these playoffs has been great, and for what seems like the first time since Jordan retired the first time, there's real intrigue right now in these playoffs.
And that's what you should want in any postseason. Yet, these NBA playoffs still seem off.
The Open is this week, and as JTC noted on Monday, I was remiss for not mentioning it Monday.
As for a contest, I'm out this week. We'll be back strong for the British Open next month, but this week has gotten away from me, and it's only Tuesday.
That said, any free time away from the softball park this weekend will be spent watching the Open.
I have high hopes this week. The US Open is normally not my favorite major. It's better than the PGA of course, and I understand the "Par is a good score" aim of the USGA. But the reason I love the Masters is that great players go make great scores and way more often than not, the champ wins the event.
At the Open, the last man standing has survived it more than won it, if that makes sense.
Yes, it's a great test, and there are a slew of great players who have won the US Open at a slew of great venues. Like the last time this tournament was at Torrey Pines, where it will be this weekend.
Some dude named Eldrick won on one leg, beating Rocco Mediate in a playoff.
But that survival is also one of the reasons Phil has never won this one.
Sure, Mickelson's storyline — fresh off an improbable PGA win that made him the oldest major winner ever, trying for the career grand slam, playing at the course he grew up playing — is so rich that it seems like fiction.
And maybe believing he can win this one is a fool's errand, but sign me up for that task and to be that fool.
Do I think he will? No way.
Do I really want him to? You bet your pitching wedge.
The College World Series is set.
Tennessee is in one bracket and Vandy in the other. Mississippi State also made it, so the SEC has three of the final eight.
Many thought the SEC would be at least half of the field.
Arkansas was bounced in a heart-breaking loss to NC State over the weekend. Kudos to the Wolfpack, who, as it was referenced around these parts on Monday, rallied from a disastrous start to the season to reach Omaha.(Side note: Having been to Omaha for the CWS, it would be tough to recommend it more highly, especially if your school is there. What an electric atmosphere that joint was.)
Anywell, NC State and the rest of the field will get their moments in the spotlight when the action commences. Let's tip the visor to Arkansas senior right-hander Kevin Kopps from a weekend performance of pitching excellence and sportsmanship that make me remember why I love this stuff so much.
Kopps has been an ace all season, even though he's been a reliever. Kopps was 12-2 with 11 saves and started only one game all season — Sunday's elimination game against NC State. he struck out 131 in 89.2 innings and had an ERA of 0.90. Safe to say dude was dealing.
After giving up a ninth-inning homer than ended his college career, Kopps was seen crying in the dugout. His next move?
He walked out to greet the fans and signed autographs for more than an hour for every little kid there who wanted one.
His reasoning? Because they wanted us to win as badly as we did, he said after the game.
War Kevin Kopps. Well-played, sir, well-played indeed.
This and that
— Wasn't me. Yes, I've been known to get a little energetic coaching youth sports. But I was at Warner Park last night, not in Eastern Kentucky, where adults swarmed the field of a little league baseball championship game and the heated arguments and scuffles forced the game to be called. Yeah, not a good look whatsoever.
— Distance runner Shelby Houlihan — a medal contender in multiple events — has been banned for four years after testing positive for a banned substance she claims she ingested 10 hours before the drug test. The origin of said banned substance? Houlihan says it was in a burrito she ate. Somewhere Bob Baffert is saying, "Dang it. We should have gone with Mexican food rather than pee-soaked hay."
— Today's A2 column on Scott Wilson, who is leaving after a dozen years as the headmaster at Baylor School.
— Wowser, did you see the story from Super Dave Flessner in today's TFP fish wrapper? Apparently Lookout Mountain, Tenn., has the highest household income in the state at more than $219,000 per in 2019. Makes sense; that's where Paschall lives.
— Wowser, again. Talk about losing the weekend, but the NBC show "Ultimate Slip 'N Slide" has been put on hiatus and it has nothing to do with early ratings or reviews. A parasite on the show's set has been found and said parasite causes "explosive diarrhea." My questions are many? First, is the term explosive diarrhea redundant? Can you calm diarrhea or maybe casual diarrhea? Plus, is there any possible way to have "explosive diarrhea" in a headline online and not click on said story? Also, that this happened on a show called Slip N Slide is not lost on anyone, is it? Man this whole thing stinks. (Thank you, and remember to tip your wait staff.)
— Lots of wowser stories across the landscape today. Here are the details from the fight at the Monday qualifier for this week's Korn Ferry Tour event as two players got physical after the round. One player was arrested. The exchange that started the brouhaha is pretty funny. (Side note: Brouhaha is a glorious word. So is donnybrook.) Anywell, according to a report in Golfweek, after the round, one player confronts the other for poor etiquette, including not participating in an effort to find a lost ball. Player A reportedly hits the ball way left and Player B eschews the search. Player A chirps, "You could have helped look" and Player B responds with "You could have hit it straight." And then punches. Wonder if they said "Four" before swinging? ("Maybe I should have yelled two?")
— Buckets, did you see why Adam West was trending on Twitter? Yes, the dead TV actor who famously played Batman was a social media talking point Tuesday morning, and the reasons are not printable on a family-oriented, interweb-based conversation.
— Been too long since my last Shohei Ohtani fawn fest. So here goes. Shohei pitched last Friday (5 IP, 8 Ks, 2 ER) and has a 2.85 ERA over his nine starts this season. In the last week, he's 7-for-18 with a homer and five runs scored. As for the latest, 'Oh'tani historical fact, MLB.com reported that Ohtani is the first starting pitcher to hit in the top four of the order in a regular-season game at an NL park since at least 1901. So there's that.
True or false, it's Tuesday.
True or false, Mickelson winning this week would be better than Tiger winning the Masters in 2019.
True or false, Mickelson makes the cut.
True or false, Kevin Kopps could pitch in the Braves bullpen right now. (Duh. True or false, my 11-year-old daughter could pitch in the Braves bullpen right now.)
True or false, LeBron would have been All-NBA if he played in the 1980s.
You know the drill, answer some T or Fs, leave some T or Fs.
As for today, June 15, let's review.
Dylan recorded "Like a Rolling Stone" on this day in 1965.
Wow, Ice Cube is 52 today. Rushmore of ice and be creative.