Monday’s Seven Casual Contemplations

It’s Monday, time for some contemplations. Some a bit more casual than others. Starting your work week off right, here are your Monday Morning Casual Contemplations.

Shaq Daddy GM?

I can’t begin to tell you how ridiculous this sounds. It’s even more ridiculous that the Orlando Magic didn’t deny their reported interest in Shaquille O’Neal as their General Manager.

Being a GM is an art. It takes years to learn the ins and outs of the business. Shaq is a sideshow. He is an entertainer. Shaq also doesn’t seem like the brightest individual. Funny, yes. Smart, the jury is still out. I’m sorry that his MBA from the online University of Phoenix doesn’t convince me otherwise. General Manager’s need to be intelligent, dedicated to the craft and savvy. Shaq might be 1 for 3. Although, I’m not sure which one it is.

The desperation is simply pathetic on Orlando’s part. It’s sad to see that they would even consider pursuing an entertaining basketball superstar with ZERO experience in an NBA front office. And don’t tell me that Dwight Howard wants the guy who he allegedly stole the Superman cape from him to be his boss. I don’t think anyone can comprehend this interest on the part of the Magic but thankfully for Orlando fans, Shaq says that he has no interest in the position at this time.

High Rolling

In the latest case of high-profile athletes blowing all their money, former NFL running back Jamal Lewis filed for bankruptcy. Lewis is 3 years removed from football yet this is hardly surprising. It’s another example of a professional athlete’s inability to adjust to life without receiving big fat cheques throughout the year. I understand the temptation of money, especially when so many of these guys come from nothing then suddenly having everything. But for these ex-players to be able to go through so much money so fast is unfortunate.

Guarantees in Sports

The Rangers-Devils series is over. No player on the Rangers pulled a Mark Messier and declared his team victorious before game 6 had begun. Good call, because they lost. The thing is, what would be the point of it anyways?

Sportsnet analyst Nick Kypreos had an attention-grabbing title to his recent article that read “Guarantees a Thing of the Past.” The article fell flat for me though mainly because he believes that no one has the “cojones” anymore to risk their legacy like Messier did. He thinks that this generation of stars doesn’t have the courage to answer a question with the honesty and boldness of Mark Messier in 1994.

Boy, is Kypreos off the mark or what? Guarantees similar to Messier’s in ’94 are a thing of the past but not because today’s stars are unwilling to risk their legacy. It’s because guarantees have become meaningless. The Joe Namath, Mark Messier type assurances don’t happen these days because too many athletes have used the line. There is no point anymore.

With the increased media coverage, guarantees can come from anywhere. They don’t get noticed all that much anymore. It’s hardly a risk to say it in 2012. Athletes don’t even have to worry if they’re wrong because it will blow over in a very short period of time.

Patrick Ewing guaranteed a win in game 6 of 2000 Conference Final playoffs, they lost. Chad Johnson guaranteed a win over the 2-5 expansion Texans back in 2002, they lost. Anthony Smith guaranteed a Steelers win over the Patriots in 2007, they lost.

Nick Kypreos is right, guarantees are a thing of the past. But only because they are as worthless as a Nick Kypreos rookie card.

French Open Coverage

NBC has the rights to the French Open and what a nice change of pace. ESPN does a good job covering Tennis’ other majors but they miss one key ingredient – John McEnroe. He makes watching matches so pleasant. Colour commentating comes so easy to him. He doesn’t need to push personality into his all around exceptional analysis because it is already there. John McEnroe doesn’t force anything. In the booth, McEnroe is like Federer was when he was playing in his prime. It almost as if he isn’t even trying.

The Dominator

At 47, Dominik Hasek is reportedly planning a return to the NHL. The idea of Hasek attempting a comeback at his age is about as preposterous as Shaq becoming the GM of the Orlando Magic. This is a pretty minor story and probably doesn’t deserve all that much press.

However, it gets me thinking about the dominator and how, ah, dominating he was. The fascinating thing about Hasek is how great of a goaltender he was despite how sharply his style contrasts with the current NHL goaltending “stars” minus Martin Brodeur. His mask tells you everything about him. He is as old school as it gets but still was able to be a very solid goaltender into his 40’s. No butterfly, no gigantic pads, no size (he’s was listed at 6’1”, 166lbs by NHL.com).

It’s refreshing to reminisce about a goalie who played the position the way it was meant to be – with pure athleticism and instincts.

TSN 2

I know that much of my readership resides in the U.S. and writing about something exclusive to Canada won’t mean anything to you Americans. But heck, I’m going to write about it anyways.

TSN appears to be the Canadian sports station with the most money as they get the vast majority of the biggest sporting events. They get so many big events that launched a 2nd channel in 2008, TSN2, to complement their original TSN channel.

However, what TSN does with TSN2 is absolutely slimy sometimes. TSN comes with the basic cable package but TSN2 does not. However, what TSN will do on a fairly regular basis is place the bigger sporting event of the day on TSN2 while TSN is showing something on a much smaller scale. They do this in order to force people to buy the package from their TV service provider that includes TSN2. Last night, while NASCAR (not important to Canadians) played on TSN’s regular channel, game 1 of the Spurs-Thunder matchup was placed on TSN2. Their French Open coverage, which starts at 5am eastern every day, is being played on TSN2. These decisions by TSN do not affect me anymore because I now have TSN2, but I know that there must be many people in Canada who don’t happen to have the extra pocket money or have yet to change their television package to include TSN2. It’s unfair to them.

I think it’s wrong that TSN is able to have the rights to these big sporting events but play them on whichever station they choose. In my view, the purpose of a second channel is to avoid conflict if there are two major sporting events on at the same time. The purpose of that second channel is not to suck people in to purchasing your second, mostly useless, channel. TSN should have to play the more important game/match on their regular channel – the one that anyone with basic cable has.

People in Canada have and are going to continue to be missing some must see TV because TSN is willing to compromise all integrity to make a little extra cash. I guess this shouldn’t be too surprising considering this is the station that callously bought the rights to the iconic Hockey Night in Canada theme song.

Western Conference Final

San Antonio is going to lose game 2. You ask, why? This one is too easy to figure out. The Spurs are 9-0 in the playoffs, have won 19 straight games and 30 of their last 32.

Clearly, they are due for a loss.

Bonus (Shameless?) Contemplation!

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Monday’s Seven Casual Contemplations

It’s Monday, time to start your work day off right with some random thoughts, ideas, rants and ramblings from the past 7 days in the world of sports. However, it’s a holiday Monday up here in Canada. Happy Victoria Day everyone! Long live the Queen. Sucks to be American today, eh. Anyways, exclusive to Painting the Black, here are your Monday Morning Casual Contemplations.

Robot Umpires

Brett Lawrie’s childish, dim-witted, foolish or whatever you want to call it outburst against umpire Bill Miller on Tuesday really brought MLB umpires under the microscope. Lawrie was not wrong for being upset at Miller but his over the top reaction was wrong. His throwing of the helmet in his direction was just plain dumb.

Miller screwed up big time but that doesn’t mean robot umpires are the answer. I am not in favour of robot umpires. I’m not sure why because I am tired of human umpires and their, at times, seemingly limitless strike zone as I outlined in my Monday casual contemplations 3 weeks ago. Tennis has brought in video review but the line judges still exist. However, controversy is something that tennis has lost with the implementation of the challenge system. Controversy that made John McEnroe famous. The Brett Lawrie story was big news last week and brought a lot of press to Major League Baseball, which is always good for a league trying to compete with the more popular sports of the NFL and NBA.

Nonetheless, the inconsistent interpretations of a strike zone have always been and still are too much. Umpires are given too much leeway. It’s not part of the charm of baseball. The plate is there to determine what is inside and what is outside. There should be no varying interpretations of that.

If the MLB is willing to rein the umpires in and create a more consistent inside-outside zone that matches home plate then robot umpires are definitely not the answer.

Too Many Timeouts

Almost every time I watch a basketball game I think to myself the same thing – there are too many timeouts. The plethora of timeouts hurts the flow of the game. Teams do not need 6 timeouts a half. They don’t need a timeout to attempt to halt the momentum of an opposing team’s 10-0 run. Figure it out on the court. Baseball suffers from a similar issue with catchers constantly visiting the mound that slow the game down to a snail’s pace.

6 timeouts plus the TV timeouts is ridiculous. You cut that number in half and it would really help the game. It’s pretty much unbearable towards the finish of close 4th quarter games. I’ll tell my non-basketball watching brother there’s a minute left in the game. He knows that probably means 5 or 10. It doesn’t have to be that way though if they would reduce the number of timeouts. I guess the amount of commercial breaks is an issue but that is something I could care less about.

Don’t get me wrong, I love watching basketball. However, fouls slow the pace of the game enough as it already is. I would love watching the game even more if there wasn’t this overabundance of timeouts.

Drew Brees Suck it Up

I know what Drew Brees has done for the Saints franchise. He won a Super Bowl. He’s the face of the Katrina rebuild. Thanks in large part to Drew Brees, the Saints gave the city of New Orleans something to root for after all was lost. As Brees argues, he outplayed his $60 million contract. That cannot be denied.

However, Drew Brees is the one being so difficult in his contract negotiation. Management shouldn’t be the side forced to get a deal done. People are saying that the front office needs to take care of Brees, particularly because of the unstable environment the Saints find themselves in. No, they don’t have to take care of him to the tune of his asking price of $23 million. Come on, they were the only ones who took care of him when no one else would.

Drew Brees is being selfish. This is so hard for me to say about the guy who was my desktop background for the better part of the last 2 years but it’s true. He was my favourite football player. From the man who is painted as the ultimate selfless competitor, it’s shocking that he is unable to be the bigger man to help his own franchise out. Hell, by Brees refusing the Saints (low-ball???) offer of $18 million, the Saints were unable to keep his all-pro left guard Carl Nicks. Forget helping your team out, help yourself out Drew.

Tom Brady and Peyton Manning (when he was in Indy) chose to take less than their market value for the greater good of the franchise. What’s wrong with Drew Brees? Whether his motives be selfish or unselfish for taking a bit less money, Drew Brees should compromise with the Saints.

I’ll never forget this quote from Chipper Jones who never was among the 4 highest players in the MLB. Chipper said that “Nowadays, so many players play the game for the 1st and 15th [pay days], but I never have. Certainly, I want to be compensated fairly for what I do, but I wasn’t going to hold the organization over a barrel. And I never wanted to be a player who makes so much money that we can’t stay competitive on the field. That was my main concern.”

Drew Brees was lucky that the Saints were willing to take a chance on him in the first place. He says that he deserves more because he outplayed his contract. So $18 million a season isn’t fair for a guy living in a city where so many people are still feeling the devastating effects of Katrina?

You know what’s “extremely frustrating” Drew?

It’s you.

Dale Hunter’s Plans

Dale Hunter surprised most everyone this past week by stepping down as the coach of the Washington Capitals. After hearing of his decision to step down the first thought that came into my mind was that he planned it this way all along. Dale Hunter had no intentions of coming back to Washington. He said it was a difficult decision but he knew a while ago that he was going home to London.

That’s why he didn’t have to worry about the repercussions of benching Ovechkin and Semin. In his mind, he knew this was a one and done situation. He could coach the way he wanted and not have to answer to management, the fans or the media because after a few short months the stress would be over.

Will Rhymes

On Wednesday, Will Rhymes was innocently hit on the right arm with a pitch. Well, it seemed innocent. He went on to pass out at first base. Fortunately, he was okay and was back in the lineup Sunday. Since Rhymes was not seriously injured, the story has not gotten much press.

I feel though that this is exactly the incident that exhibits the dangers of throwing at people simply to uphold the baseball code. I wrote about the stupidity that surrounds old time baseball after the Cole Hamels fiasco. This wasn’t one of those upholding the baseball code moments and Rhymes was not hurt badly. But if someone can pass out from getting hit on the arm, what could happen if someone got hit on the head in the wrong place? The human body is a sturdy machine but freak accidents do happen. I said it before and I’ll say it again, let’s pray to God that it doesn’t take a death or fatal injury for the MLB to step up and be intent on creating a culture change in the game.

NBA Seeding

I don’t know why the NBA still doesn’t re-seed after each round. The March Madness style bracket is just more fuel to the fire of those who think the regular season is meaningless. We shouldn’t even be talking about the trouble the Miami Heat are having with the Indiana Pacers right now because they should be playing the 76ers. Top teams have to be rewarded for a good regular season. Boston rested its players and ended up with the 8 seed in the 2nd round.

Re-seed. It’s not very difficult.

American League Imbalance

The Toronto Blue Jays sit at 3rd in the American League East but only one team outside of their division has more wins than the Jays. Of course, that would be the Texas Rangers.

I giveth thou, the American League.

Bonus (Shameless?) Contemplation!

Hit me up on twitter and then maybe give me a follow @paintstheblack. If you like what you see around the blog, subscribe either through the email subscription in the right hand corner or with the RSS feed so you can have immediate access to the latest articles on Painting the Black. Just…awesome.

Monday’s Seven Casual Contemplations

Welcome to the new weekly segment on Painting the Black. It is my goal to start your work week off right with random thoughts, ideas, rants and ramblings from the week that was in the world of sports. It’s already Monday so let’s get at it. Exclusive to Painting the Black, here are your Monday Morning Casual Contemplations…

Granger Danger

The Pacers do stand a chance against the Heat. They clearly showed that in game 1. A lot of things are going to have to go their way but it isn’t farfetched to say that they can win the series. Granger was terrible yesterday afternoon and the Pacers kept it close until the final couple of minutes.

What Indiana needs is for Danny Granger to play less like the role player that he has been this year and more like the emerging star he was only 2 years ago. He is just a couple of years removed from averaging 24.2ppg and three years removed from averaging 25.8ppg the previous season. Despite being the leading scorer of the Pacers, Granger dropped all the way down to 18.7 per game this season and shot a career low 41.6% from the field. Granted, he has taken a reduced role because of the emergence of guys like Paul George and Roy Hibbert.

Nevertheless, the Pacers can’t just play a good team game with good team guys and expect to beat an exceptional Heat squad. They have to play a good team game with Danny Granger finding the form of the top scorer that he is still capable of being even with Lebron James guarding him.

NBA Reffing

I complain about reffing a lot. I know. But bear with me.

The refereeing so far throughout the playoffs has been outstanding. They have been letting the players play like they should in the playoffs. This isn’t hockey. Scoring is not a problem.

What I have a problem with is the inconsistency between crews. Game 1 of the Heat-Pacers series was called more similarly to a regular season game than a round 2 postseason matchup. What’s worse is that it seemed as though every time Dwyane Wade or Lebron James put their head down to go to the basket it was an automatic 2 shots. The game lacked flow, which is something that hasn’t been a problem up until this point in the playoffs for the most part.

There’s a fine line between keeping the game in check and letting the players play but I’d like to see them allow the more aggressive style of basketball to continue.

Blue Clay, No Way

Players on the ATP tour have recently been complaining about the blue clay they have been forced to play on at the most recent stop in Madrid instead of the traditional red clay. Apparently, the ball bounces differently and it is much more slippery. Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have both gone public with their staunch disapproval of the new surface.

Never mind the way it plays, the blue surface is atrocious for viewers. Like the bright blue field of the Boise State Broncos, the idea of playing over a surface dyed so colourfully may be fine in theory but, in practice, it’s a distracting sight for the most important people, the audience. Whether it is just a matter of getting used to it or just having such a bright, in your face colour, the blue doesn’t work for me.

I understand that these ATP destinations want to differentiate themselves from other tournaments but the blue surface doesn’t do that in a positive way. I find it hard to believe that I am the only person who is more than a little annoyed by the blue surface. Take away the blue clay courts. The players don’t like it, I don’t like it and I bet there are a few others who feel the same way.

I’d Rather Be Golfing

As 26 NHL teams are probably out taking advantage of sunny weather to hit the links, 4 teams remain to battle it out for hockey supremacy. I think I’d like to be on the golf course with them instead of watching the hockey the NHL is presenting to the world this May. The matchups left in the Western and Eastern conferences are not worth my 3 hours to watch. Life is too short 3 period neutral zone free for all.

With the Capitals out of the playoffs the intriguing storylines have dissipated. It’s nice to see an old school goalie like Brodeur still thrive at 40 years old but his team is as boring as ever. Meaningful hockey in the big apple is a pleasant change of pace. Neither of those narratives are enough to entice this Canadian though. I didn’t even realize the Conference Finals began last night until around the 15 minute mark of the 3rd period between the Kings and Coyotes when I caught the game in one of my many surfing’s of the channel variety.

George Karl is Pretty Good

The Los Angeles Lakers might wish they had George Karl as their coach instead of Mike Brown. While Mike Brown’s security as a head coach was being questioned going into game 7 by the likes of Magic Johnson, George Karl went about his business to give his overmatched team a fighting chance. The job that Karl did with the Nuggets against the Lakers and throughout the entire season should be applauded. He can give himself a big pat on the back as well.

There was no way in hell that the Nuggets should have been able to take the Lakers to a tightly contested game 7. Absent of a big man who can score outside of the paint and a wing player able to create his own shot, George Karl was still able to come up with a successful game plan to counter the Lakers.

Linternational Appeal

I read on NBC’s Pro Basketball Talk that the Toronto Raptors are aiming for Jeremy Lin. As the article says, it is a bit unrealistic to think that the Knicks would let the “marketing dream” that is Jeremy Lin walk away. They would almost undoubtedly match any offer the Raptors would give Lin but the idea of Lin in the city of Toronto is no doubt appealing to a Raptors fan.

Jose Calderon has one year left on his contract and Toronto runs their offence almost exclusively through the point. Bottom line is that with Jerryd Bayless looking more and more like his ceiling in the NBA is that of a streaky combo guard, the Dino’s are soon to be in need of a point guard. Lin fits the bill and if he could come close to the level he played at this year, he could make the Raptors into one of the more intriguing dark horses in the next couple of years. Additionally, Lin would have no concerns about moving to a country outside of the United States, which is always an issue with the team in Toronto.

Linsanity in Toronto? I’m on board.

Sha-Na-Na, Hey Hey Hey, Goodbye

I was absolutely shocked to see that Kevin Na blew a 3rd round lead at the Players Championship on Sunday. Bogeying 4 of the first 5 holes and finished with a 4-over 76 was so uncharacteristic of Na. Sorry, what, Kevin Na was the guy who shot that brutal 16 on the 9th hole at the Texas Open last April? Oh, that changes things a bit.

Seriously though, how often do we have these virtual no names leading after 3 rounds only to fade into the abyss. The sport of golf will always amaze me with its ability to separate the men from the boys. It always astonishes me that these unbelievably talented golfers turn into shy, little, hormonal teenagers when it comes to the final round of tournaments.

Na’s situation was no doubt worse with the crowd jeering him for his slow play and with the time clock being imposed on him by the PGA. He did not take any of that very well and deservedly lost. If he can’t mentally handle picking up his Kendry Morales running down the 1st base line pace then that’s too bad. Taking out the extra stuff Na had to deal with yesterday, I’m not so sure he doesn’t crash and burn like so many others have in the past anyways. When a professional loses his head enough to shoot a 16 on a hole, there are always going to be question marks.

Big Ball Parks

The Minnesota Twins spent a whole bunch of money on a brand new stadium and couldn’t have screwed it up more. Announcers and writers constantly mention the beauty of Target Field and that it’s one of the best parks in all of baseball. In the end, a ball park is just a ball park and no matter how you slice it, what you will still be watching is baseball on a diamond. The look of a stadium means nothing to the product on the field. For me, Target field is one of the worst parks in all of baseball.

I will never be able to comprehend the choice of teams to design a brand spanking new stadium that their players can’t hit the ball out of. Forget about the terrible and abnormally high centre field camera view that Target Field provides, the park is simply one of the worst to play in for hitters. The Twins have Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer locked up for the long haul yet both have had their fair share of difficulties hitting home runs at Target Field. Injuries have played a part in that but, ultimately, Target Field hurts the Minnesota Twins’ two most prized commodities. It’s not much fun for fans to watch warning track power either.

Pitcher friendly stadiums are not only bad for fans but they hurt a team’s ability to sign free agents. For some reason, if the team is good enough, marquee free agent pitchers don’t mind pitching roughly half of their games at a hitter friendly park (see Fenway Park and Yankee Stadium). Conversely, teams such as the Seattle Mariners and Oakland Athletics are unable to attract the best power hitters. A hitter friendly park can give your franchise the best of both worlds, on the condition that you have a team that has the possibility to contend. And even if your team sucks, at least you can see a few more long balls. I hear the chicks dig it.

Bonus (Shameless?) Contemplation!

Sometimes I should wonder if I should sneak my shameless promotion in the middle of the post just so you guys are caught off guard. Anywho, you should, no MUST, check me out on twitter and then maybe give me a follow @paintstheblack. If you like what you see around the blog, subscribe either through the email subscription in the right hand corner or with the RSS feed so you can have immediate access to the latest articles on Painting the Black. Happy Monday!

Monday’s Seven Casual Contemplations

Welcome to the new weekly segment on Painting the Black. It is my goal to start your work week off right with random thoughts, ideas, rants and ramblings from the week that was in the world of sports. Hey look, today is a Monday and it’s the 7th, quelle coincidence. Exclusive to Painting the Black, here are your Monday Morning Casual Contemplations…

Illogical NHL Refereeing

Playoff hockey is the worst for referees. The whistles disappear like Lebron in the 4th quarter. It’s not a pretty sight. ‘Let them play’ is their mantra. Of course, by ‘letting them play,’ the refs are simply ruining the game.

It is even worse in the 3rd period and overtime when penalties are only ever called for high sticking, delay of game and, my personal favourite (not really), slashing ONLY when the stick breaks. The referees refuse to make calls on legitimate penalties but for accidental or freak incidents such as the infractions I previously mentioned where the penalty has to be called. It just doesn’t make sense that the rule book becomes so restricted in the most pressure packed circumstances. It is so frustrating and almost impossible to understand how a blatant trip, hook or hold can be ignored while these other penalties have been deemed must calls by the referees. They should all be must calls.

The fact that a wild, unintentional stick that just so happens to strike the face of an opponent is always called yet other penalties that constantly prevent scoring opportunities are intentionally overlooked is absolutely absurd. This is part of the reason why the NHL has so many multiple overtime games. It becomes so difficult to score because power plays are virtually non-existent in late and close playoff games. If you know me, I sound like a broken record for saying this but this is the type of thing that was supposed to be fixed after the lockout. It is wrong that this is the norm and that people as well as the NHL, year in and year out, accept it for what it is.

Kellen Moore and the CFL

I, among many others, was surprised to see Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore go undrafted. He signed on with the Detroit Lions so it’s a pretty safe bet to say that he won’t be getting much playing anytime soon.

Kellen Moore is a perfect candidate for the Canadian Football League. Never mind all the Americans who ignorantly perpetuate the myth that the CFL is a hack league. By the way, not all Canadians live in igloos. The CFL is chalk full of undersized and underappreciated talent. It is perfect for Kellen Moore.

The stigma associated with the CFL and pride of NFL hopefuls probably prevents a lot of players from giving the CFL a shot but it’s really a wonder why more NCAA quarterbacks like Kellen Moore don’t come north of the border straight out of college. NFL scouts understand the quality of the CFL. That’s why more and more guys such as Cameron Wake and Stefan Logan, tagged as a tweener and too small respectively when they began their pro careers, have gotten their shot to play and succeed in the NFL.

The best way to improve at the quarterback position is to play on a regular basis. Kellen Moore isn’t going to get that opportunity with the Detroit Lions. It may not be the NFL but it’s the next best thing. Instead of bouncing around the league and standing on the sideline holding a clipboard, Kellen Moore could get an opportunity at some legitimate playing time and prove that he has the chops to play professional football at a high level. Except for maybe the money, it is a no loss situation.

Challenges in the MLB

Tim Welke made one of the worst calls in MLB history the other day when he called the runner out at first despite Todd Helton being a good 3 feet off the bag. It was terrible but I still feel bad for Tim Welke. He is forever immortalized in baseball history. It could have been prevented though.

It’s baffling that the MLB hasn’t adopted some form of a challenge system. They added umpire review for home runs and it has saved a number of umpires the disgrace of being wrong on potential game changing home runs. They have the technology but much like FIFA refuse to utilize it. Inputting a challenge system for determining whether runners are safe or out would be easier than Madonna is on a Friday night at the club. 1 challenge per team. If the manager is right he keeps his challenge, if he is wrong he is out of challenges for the game.

It wouldn’t slow the game down much. Definitely not more than the excessive visits to the mounds (that should be restricted I might add). Football, hockey, basketball and tennis have all made the transition to video replay for the great benefit of their sports. Baseball must do the same. I know that Armando Gallaraga concurs with that sentiment.

White Outs

NBA teams should wear colours at home. I’m tired of seeing these shirt giveaways that create a white out in the crowd. It’s just so unimaginative. Of course, when the Thunder gave all their fans blue shirts in their series opener, guess what colour the Dallas Mavericks were wearing? Yeah, blue. Dallas did the same thing when they came home for game 3. In the NHL, teams wear their colours at home and white on the road. I know white has long been associated with home but it makes a lot more sense that teams should be wearing the colours that match the merchandise their fans have purchased or have been given. It looks a lot better too.

Alexander Ovechkin vs. Dale Hunter

Something’s gotta give in the Ovechkin-Hunter feud as Washington Capitals head coach Dale Hunter has substantially diminished the ice time of his superstar player throughout these Stanley Cup Playoffs. That something that’s going to give will be Dale Hunter. The only way Hunter can continue to give Ovechkin average player minutes is if Washington somehow goes on to win a Stanley Cup. They have overachieved so far and I don’t see them getting their hands on the Holy Grail without Ovechkin playing his heart out for 20 plus minutes a game.

Ovechkin has been a good sport about his benching this time around. He is saying the right things but he won’t put up with this for much longer, especially since he is starting to produce offensively. Ownership won’t stand for this diminished ice time either if it somehow continues into next season. Despite a couple of off years, Ovechkin puts the butts of Washington fans into the seats at the Verizon Center. Ovie is the most marketable commodity in the NHL and Washington ownership no doubt wants to exploit that. Whether you agree with him or not, you have to respect Dale Hunter for his harsh stance on Ovechkin’s playing time but he is foolish if he believes that he can continue doing this and last as head coach of the Capitals.

The Baltimore Orioles Are Good?

There are few sure things in life. The sun will rise in the east and set in the west, Bill Belichick will wear a hoodie and the Baltimore Orioles will be bad.

I guess life is just full of surprises. As if the AL East division wasn’t already the toughest division in baseball, the Baltimore Orioles have started out the season 19-9 and sit in first place, a half game up on Tampa Bay. The Blue Jays have become the dark horse team outside the big 3 in the American League but with Baltimore joining in on the fun the AL East does not feature a weak team. It was always a given that the Orioles would be bad. Everyone in the American League could feel a little better about their team’s fortunes because of the Orioles.

Although it is early and fortunes could change quickly, the Orioles appear destined to fight for a playoff spot come August and September. While the Royals, Twins, White Sox, Athletics and Mariners tear up the Central and West divisions, the East no longer has a true weak team. I giveth you, the unfairness of life in the American League East.

Miami Heat and the Final Shot

Although Miami has been able to improve on a number of issues from last season, the question of who takes the shots in late and close game situations has still been left unanswered. As much as Lebrick is made fun of for his inability to perform in the 4th quarter, he has shown flashes of brilliance in the clutch.

Dwayne Wade took the final shot in game 4 Sunday afternoon. He took the shot regardless of the fact that Lebron had just made a 3 and completed an And 1 opportunity. Lebron was hot but Erik Spoelstra drew up the play for D-Wade to run. Last year it was the opposite as Lebron was given the reigns to finish off the game while Dwayne Wade, even in the midst of a stellar performance, stood helplessly to the side and watched.

It would seem to me that going with the hot hand would be the easy and rational choice for Erik Spoelstra. It doesn’t make sense to have one guy that you have to go to in a certain situation when you have Lebron James and Dwayne Wade on the same team. Kobe Bryant can take the game winning shot after he goes 3 for 21 in a game because he is the only superstar on his team and because he is Kobe Bryant. Erik Spoelstra has the luxury (or curse if you’re a glass half empty kind of guy) of two dominant wing guys so it’s hard to go wrong with simply choosing the player who is feeling it at the time.

Bonus (Shameless?) Contemplation!

I was thinking that you might want to check me out on twitter and then give me a follow @paintstheblack if you like what you’re seeing. Maybe before you do that, don’t leave the website and subscribe to the blog either through the email subscription in the right hand corner or with the RSS feed so you can have immediate access to the latest articles on Painting the Black. Sweet, I know.

Monday’s Seven Casual Contemplations

Welcome to the new, hopefully, weekly segment on Painting the Black. It is my goal to start your work week off right with random thoughts, ideas, rants and ramblings from the week that was in the world of sports. Exclusive to Painting the Black, here are your Monday Morning Casual Contemplations…

April is Undoubtedly the Best Sports Month

I used to believe that April and October were essentially equal in the best sports month department. I have now officially changed my mind. There is simply no comparison to the month of April. While October features playoff baseball and the new beginnings of the NBA and NHL seasons, the month of April contains all those things flipped around, but so much more. The Masters start the real golf season off right as we saw one of the most exciting Master’s of all time with big Bubba gettin ‘er done. But on top of that, everyone’s favourite bullshit season, the NFL draft is arguably the best football day of the year.

Yeah, April trumps the competition.

Liberal Strike Zones

I’ll never understand why so many umpires choose to give such liberal strike zones. The plate is there for a reason yet umpires are always giving 2 or 3 inches off the edges. This isn’t anything new to baseball but it is something that should change. The MLB is having enough problems with teams inability to score runs and it doesn’t help that umpires continually call strikes that hitters simply can’t reach in this steroid-less, nasty off-speed, hard throwing age of baseball.

It always rubbed me the wrong way that star players in any sport get the benefit of the calls. They are already the best and do not deserve an even bigger advantage. Greg Maddux is the pitcher that immediately comes to mind whenever I see star pitchers get the benefit of the doubt on calls outside the zone. Expanding the strike zone beyond its predisposed limits makes great pitchers like Maddux virtually unhittable. All this ‘they have earned it’ stuff is really just a bunch of garbage

Why the MLB puts up with this is beyond me. Like the NHL, they are losing ground on the NFL and NBA and a simple fix for more runs would be to tell umpires to call strikes within the strike zone. Who is running this league? Gary Bettman?

I don’t get it.

Pujols Struggling

The choice to sign a player on the wrong side of 30 to a double-digit year contract doesn’t really ever strike me as the brightest idea.
Now, of course it would be moronic to deem Albert Pujols’ 10 year contract a failure after 21 homerless games but the decision making behind the signing was questionable prior to the signing. The fact that his age is still an unknown and that he already was on the decline last season, despite his great second half, were not good indicators for his success over the next decade.

Missing Colour in the NHL

The amount of high quality colour commentators in the world of professional sports is few and far between but each sport seems to have at least 1 or 2 guys that qualify as elite. Except for hockey that is. Watching the NHL playoffs this year has brought this to my attention again.

CBC’s lead guy, Craig Simpson, suffers from a severe case of lack of insightful analysis and appears to be ignorantly blissful to all the head shots, hooking, holding and other problems that are hurting the game of hockey. Although Pierre McGuire knows his stuff well for the most part, there is a sense of arrogance to his general lack of likeability from NBC’s new top colour man.

It’s frustrating that, out of all the former players and front office men, they can’t find one guy to be the voice of authority for the NHL. The game experience really becomes a lot less enjoyable without that dynamic tandem up in the booth.

Steve Nash to Miami?

I keep hearing about Steve Nash to Miami and how this is the ideal destination for the 2-time NBA Most Valuable Player to win a championship. Sure, Miami would give Nash arguably the best opportunity to finally get that elusive ring but that’s about all it will do for him. The ring isn’t everything for Steve Nash. There’s a reason why he hasn’t demanded a trade out of Phoenix. He likes it there. He likes playing in a system that he is comfortable with and, more importantly, where he is the focal point.

Nash dominates the ball but that wouldn’t be the case with Dwayne Wade and Lebron James. I can guarantee you that Steve Nash doesn’t want that. Miami and Steve Nash makes about as much sense as cheeseburgers on a pizza. What, Pizza Hut did that?

Welp, anything is possible I guess.

Classy Bruins Fans. Very Classy.

Not that you probably need it but here’s another reason to hate Boston sports fans and it’s not a good one. Following Washington Capitals African-Canadian forward Joel Ward’s game 7 overtime game winning goal, a barrage of racially filled hate flooded the twitterverse directed at Ward by the defeated Bruins fans. It’s a classless display. I realize that it is only a small portion of the Bruins fans and by no means represents their entire fan base, but the fact that there were enough people to use the dreaded N-word in this defamatory manner to make a story out of it is pathetic.

The double-edged sword nature of twitter rears its ugly head again as its lack of any sort of filter allows emotionally charged individuals to vent their frustrations before they have any chance to properly collect their thoughts. Twitter is fascinating in that regard because it shows people in their most uninhibited state, without the masks that they put on for society each and every day. It’s almost like alcohol in that your true persona and feelings come out whether you like it or not. Now, I’m not naive enough to believe this could not have happened to another city’s fan base but, at the same time, it is by no means a shocker that the city of Boston is the culprit.

Good on Joel Ward for playing the story down though and not making this out to be something more than it has to be.

Jose Bautista, ah, Struggling

Like Pujols, Bautista is mired in a prolonged slump, which seems to concern me a lot more than the rest of Blue Jays nation. Sure, Jose Bautista has hit the most home runs in the Majors in the past 2 seasons, had a slash line of .302/.447/.608 in 2011 and WAR’d an outstanding 8.5 last season. However, those inflated numbers were due in large part to his torrid April and May. Yeah, I know his OPS was still .896 after the all-star break last year but he hasn’t ever looked like the same player since last May. A lot of his walks were because of his inability to put the ball in play even as pitchers shied away from him less and less with the realization that he wasn’t Barry Bonds anymore.

Enter 2012, where Bautista is slashing a terrible .187/.337/.333. While it would be absurd to say that Jose Bautista cannot become close to a shadow of his former self, I think it’s starting to become evident that his post all-star break numbers are a better indication of what we’re going to see from him in the future. As a Blue Jays fan, I want to be wrong (kind of). I was wrong in the summer of 2010 when I told the Blue Jays not to re-sign Bautista. Being wrong doesn’t hurt nearly as much as seeing Bautista pop out or foul back good pitch after good pitch.

It doesn’t look as though it is merely a matter of finding his timing anymore. He still has the power but something is seriously wrong. Maybe this is a case of coming to a conclusion a little bit too quickly but this feeling has been churning in my stomach since last June and, as of right now, it isn’t going anywhere.

Don’t Turn Off the Game, Ever

I think I turned the Clippers-Grizzlies game when Memphis was up by 21 points with about a minute left in the 3rd quarter. Bad idea.

By now you probably know how the story turns out. Fairy tale for the Clippers, horror story for the Grizzlies and yada, yada, yada. Nevermind the awesomeness of the comeback in itself. This is just another one of those “if you put it in a movie you wouldn’t believe it” moments that play such a big part in making sports so fascinating to society. I realize I didn’t actually watch this comeback but these are the times when I feel sorry for people who don’t watch sports. Those guys are missing out.

Bonus (Shameless?) Contemplation!

I was thinking that you might want to check me out on twitter and then give me a follow @paintstheblack if you like what you’re seeing. Maybe before you do that, don’t leave the website and subscribe to the blog either through the email subscription in the right hand corner or with the RSS feed so you can have immediate access to the latest articles on Painting the Black. Sweet, I know.

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