Monday’s Seven Casual Contemplations

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…

MLB Draft

If I were Bud Selig, I’d be jealous of the way the NFL is able to create an event so big outside of their season. Can you say cha-ching?

The MLB amateur draft is tonight and Major League Baseball is trying to make their draft more relevant. They are televising the draft these days, they cut 10 rounds out of the draft this year and are now flying the top prospects in to be present live for the draft.

The MLB draft will never be relevant though. Not like it is with the NFL and NBA. Unless you’re a diehard baseball fan, it’s very difficult to get on board with the MLB draft. The problem is that players drafted in the MLB draft don’t have an immediate impact on the team they’re drafted to. The appeal of the NFL and NBA drafts is that teams are drafting players that are expected to make a significant impact on their team in the following season.

Baseball doesn’t have that luxury. Even super phenom Bryce Harper had to spend time in the minors. The MLB draft is trying to gain steam but when fans aren’t getting immediate gratification from these prospects, it’s hard to receive major interest from the masses.

Moreover, MLB prospects aren’t well known to the fans prior to being drafted. There is no national stage on the same level as NCAA Basketball and Football. Fans know very little about baseball prospects other than what they hear from scouts, writers and bloggers. The MLB draft is so much less impersonal.

It’s a good attempt from Major League Baseball but, in the end, they are limited with what they can do with the amateur draft.

Perry Jones III

Some team is going to be getting some very good value out of Perry Jones III come NBA draft day. His stock fell majorly this year but he has that high ceiling that makes him so enticing. If he falls out of the top 10, which seems very likely at this point, one franchise will receive that high reward everyone looks for in prospects without the high risk of a top 5 lottery choice.
If I’m a GM with a teen lottery pick, Perry Jones is at the top of my list.

Moneyball

I still haven’t watched Moneyball. I’m sure it’s a good movie but I couldn’t get behind the concept that the movie attempts to project. The Athletics haven’t been relevant since their big 3 pitchers, Mark Mulder, Tim Hudson and Barry Zito, split up. Moneyball no doubt revolutionized how people analyzed the game of baseball but the idea behind Moneyball being the biggest reason for the success of the Oakland Athletics is nonsense.

How’s Moneyball working today Billy Beane?

The Athletics are 23-30, already out of the playoff race yet again. Josh Reddick and Yoenis Cespedes are solid in the middle of their order but other than that the Athletics lineup is abysmal. Heck, they had to resort to picking up Brandon Inge who OPS’d .548 in 269 at bats for the Tigers last season. Yikes.

The notion of a small market team with financial restraints being able to compete with the big boys of the Major Leagues makes for a fantastic story. Since the departure of the big 3 though, Billy Beane has shaped exactly what we would expect from a small market franchise with severe monetary restrictions.

Crazy Talk

Remember at the NBA trade deadline when there were Rajon Rondo trade rumours? Man, how crazy does that sound now?

Rajon Rondo is not only one of the best point guards in the league but he is also putting himself in the category of one of the best players in the NBA. He’s carrying the Celtics on that back of his. I didn’t know little guys like Rondo could take on that kind of load. It’s insane that it was legitimate debate 3 months ago if the Celtics should be building around Rajon Rondo for the future. Imagine the Celtics without Rondo.

Can’t do it? That’s what I thought

This is the Celtics last hurrah with this group and the future could not be more uncertain. One thing is for sure though, Rajon Rondo will be running the point for the C’s.

Lou and Potato Chips

Oh look, the whiny Vancouver Canucks fan wants Roberto Luongo out of town. How typical.

The questions surrounding what the Canucks could get in return for Luongo are endless. I, on the other hand, believe them to be unnecessary. Roberto Luongo is still a good goaltender in the NHL but I would be willing to give him up for a bag of potato chips. I might have to insist on Sour Cream and Onion.

Seriously though, I feel the return that Mike Gillis gets on a trade involving Luongo isn’t important. Considering all that has happened surrounding Luongo from the time when he lost his starting job to Cory Schneider, the most vital thing is to make sure Bobby Lou is not wearing a Canucks uniform come opening day. Luongo’s cap hit of $5.3 million is not horrible in itself at this point in time, but with 10 years left on his contract and Cory Schneider waiting in the wings it deserves the horrible status.

To get anything for Roberto Luongo at this point, similarly to the Toronto Raptors flipping Hedo Turkoglu for Leandro Barbosa a couple of seasons ago, would be a win in my mind for Vancouver. To be asking a lot in return for a goalie with all the baggage and questions that surround Luongo is being a bit greedy. The Toronto Blue Jays were aided greatly by the Angels when they were able to pass Vernon Wells onto Los Angeles in exchange for virtually nothing.

It’s not what the Vancouver Canucks get in return for Roberto Luongo. It’s that they just get rid of him.

Bizarro Scorekeeper

Baseball scorekeepers are supposed to help their home team. That isn’t the case for the Toronto Blue Jays. Throughout the season the team has been robbed, and by all people, their hometown scorekeeper. Saturday there were 3 more instances of anti-homerism. Kyle Drabek, David Cooper and Edwin Encarnacion were the victims.

It’s incomprehensible to me. You wonder why the team doesn’t do something about this. Talk to the scorekeeper, fire the scorekeeper, anything. Baseball is a quirky game and one of those quirks is that the home team players get the benefit of the doubt on any close call. The Toronto Blue Jays scorekeeper clearly doesn’t get that.

Get in the Hole!

Golf fans, I’m sick of every time a player hits his shot, a large group of you yell get in the hole. It happens too often now-a-days. Par 3’s, par 4’s, chips from the fringe, and big putts. It has become like the NBA ‘M-V-P’ chants where any Joe Blow coming to free throw line, who is having an exceptional game, can be the Most Valuable Player (see Reggie Evans. Although, I do love Reggie).

It’s not going to stop anytime soon but if fans could conserve their ‘get in the hole’s’ for more appropriate and selective times that would be much appreciated.

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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Miami Heat Get the Easy Route

Maybe the road is as easy as they thought it would be

The big 3 took the low road to winning a championship. Public reaction to Lebron’s dreadful 1 hour decision special could have been mistaken for the King selling his soul to the devil for a championship.

The highway to hell looks pretty good right about now.

Prior to the beginning of the playoffs it was almost inconceivable that the Miami Heat could be staring at a title after two rounds without Kobe Bryant and the Lakers in their way. The Lakers were supposed to be the final obstacle but an inevitable meeting with the Boston Celtics meant that the team built to win 5 championships might not even get out of the second round.

Screw logic.

The Heat ousted a Celtic team that probably needed a M.A.S.H unit on site more than anything else. L.A. was swept in convincing fashion by a Maverick squad desperate to remove the dreaded choke label that has surrounded the Dirk Nowitzki era.

It wasn’t unimaginable in any sense to see the Heat overcome the Celtics. However, taking down a Boston team that has been able to turn their game on with the flip of a switch was undeniably impressive.

The Heat are now the favourites to win the 2011 NBA championship and there isn’t any reasonable logic that should suggest otherwise. Everyone knows their two biggest hurdles have been overcome, with a little help from the Dallas Mavericks.

Due to a bit of an Oprah mishap, the Heat and Bulls are forced to start their series a day earlier than expected at the United Centre on Sunday. Wait, the Chicago Bulls?

Oh yeah, the number 1 seed out of the Eastern conference.

My personal favourite writer, Jason Whitlock, recently wrote a column on FoxSports saying that the Heat are no match for the Bulls. It may be plausible but it sounds like Mr. Whitlock just wanted to turn some heads and add some extra page views for Fox’s website.

He says that “the popular narrative is the Bulls look terrible, particularly on offense, against an IQ-challenged Atlanta squad.”

Really? I think the story goes more along the lines of a number 1 seeded team struggling against a 37-win Pacer team absent of any serious firepower. The Bulls are a one man show. Carlos Boozer has been a sorry excuse for a sidekick and the absence of consistency on his part isn’t going to change under the bright lights of the Conference Finals.

The emotional high of overcoming the Celtics is nothing like the Jets advancing over New England contrary to what Whitlock attempts to point out. The Jets weren’t nearly as good a team in relative terms compared to the Heat. It’s as simple as that.

Related: Miami is Wade Country

Miami is clicking as a team and the fact that the wins came easier because of the dislocated elbow of Rondo and lack of a healthy Shaquille O’Neal shouldn’t overshadow the evidence right in front of us. More importantly, the Heat have now proved that they can win meaningful and challenging playoff games.

The popular narrative coming from the Heat players is that the 3 losses to the Bulls during the regular season don’t indicate anything. They’re saying that this is a different Heat team that we are seeing.

As much as I hate clichés, they’re exactly right. Despite the brutal play of supporting cast members like Bibby and Miller, the Heat have found a rotation that works. Starting Joel Anthony at centre instead of Big Z has injected some real life into the front court.

Rose has shot 42% from the field and a sad 25% from beyond the arc in the playoffs. If Derrick Rose is off for the Bulls it’s game over. That’s not the case for the Miami Heat.

The Heat have been blessed with a ridiculously straightforward path to a championship compared to what they could have faced. It was supposed to get harder, not easier.

It’s almost as if we are handing the Heat a championship on a silver platter. No one is doing that. Not yet. Winning a championship is never easy and I’m sure the Heat have learned that by now.

Any of the 4 other remaining teams in the playoffs can and most likely will give the Heat trouble. It’s just not the magnitude of trouble that we expected.

If the regular season has told us anything, it’s that we should have believed a lot of what we saw. There are no dominant teams and seeing last year’s NBA finalists knocked out of the second round clarified that.

Anyone would be a fool not to believe that the Miami Heat are the team to beat. Two pre-season favourites are gone and the Heat have suddenly transformed from the bunch who took the low road to the team with the easy road.

Agree? Disagree? If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at cross_can15@hotmail.com. Also, follow me on twitter @paintstheblack and I will gladly return the favour.

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