Friday, April 19, 2013

...or, "How I learned to stop worrying and say Fuck Boston at the worst possible time"

Okay, so I lied - I have yet to reach the point where I'm comfortable saying Fuck Boston as anyone other than Bushido Brown (good thing we brought this blog back, amiright?).  As a runner (and one whose wife would probably have been right in the vicinity of the blast when it happened had I been in the marathon) the events of the last week have me shook, though at this point that should be true for every human being.  But at the same time, some things are more important than life and death, and this golden opportunity for the Knicks to win their first playoff series in 13 (THIRTEEN!!!) years is one of them.  Thus, its time to take off our "human being" hats, and put on our "FUCK BOSTON"...err, something thats not a hat I guess.

Now, if this were just a case of Team A vs. Team B, Team A being the division winner with home court advantage and the leagues leading scorer and Team B being the 7 seed that was missing (arguably) its most dynamic player, I don't think that there would even be much debate about this being a series.  But Team A is, of course, the Knicks, and Team B is the Celtics, and man, has Team B OWNED Team A for a long time.  Maybe history shouldn't factor into the analysis, but its hard for me to just go along with the prevailing gentleman's sweep logic that others have put forward.  Until Paul Pierce is retired, the Celtics have a fighting chance to ruin this Knicks team's summer with a few sucker punches.

Do I think Boston will win the series? No. But when you combine the fact that the Celtics will have convinced themselves that they are playing to lift the spirits of an entire city with Paul Pierce's tendency to just kill the Knicks when it counts and Kevin Garnett's ability to take Melo off his game (I'm still curious if LaLa tastes like Cheerios or just likes to eat them the morning after) then suddenly we are looking at a very stiff test for the Knicks.  And while I still think the Knicks are up to the challenge, it will not bode well for their chances to advance to the conference finals (lets not even begin to address the prospect of a Knicks championship until they get to that point) if they are suddenly sucked into a six or seven game dogfight against a motivated Celtics team.  Unfortunately, I think that's just what they have in store over the next few weeks (you can't even say a couple since a seven game series would feature games in three separate weeks).

With all that said, the Knicks will do themselves a huge favor if they open up the night with a nice video tribute to the City of Boston before proceeding to demolish the Celtics in the Garden.  Heading to Boston with a 2-0 should help overcome any major emotional factor, and while I think its a lock that the Celtics win their first home game, if the Knicks can come back to the Garden up 3-1 then they should be able to put this one to bed swiftly.  Alas, I just don't see this one being easy.

Knicks in six.  Fuck Boston.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Hello Old Friends. And Hello Playoffs.

Writing on Gil Meche requires shaking off rust, and writing anything about basketball is doubly so. For crying out loud, this is a platform that requires basic code to bold and italicize words. And the best thing any of us ever wrote about basketball described a fictional team. Anyway, the basketball playoffs are coming, meaning that all of us will turn into doughy-eyed hopefuls as our teams are one-by-one eliminated en route to Lebronathon 2.0 (Bushido, don't get up in arms, my man. I don't like it any better than you do). For the seven fictional readers who remember us and those who don't, the cast of characters here roots for the Knicks, Rockets and Warriors. Ush has done his own humble job of giving you a Warrior update of sorts. I wish the boys of Golden State, a fictional land of weed and rather friendly seals, good luck in the playoffs. I see a hard fight there with the Nuggets if the playoffs look the way I think they will. And I hate to say it for my West Coast amigo, but Denver looks bleeding deadly. The Warriors have a shot at upending them, but in the same vein, it's not necessarily the pick I would make. As a loyal Rockets fan, I know all too well what a team missing a piece looks like. Then again, the Pistons were probably described that way in the early 2000s... ...and the Rockets aren't on any more solid footing. Why? Because as nasty as James Harden is, and as much as he will want him some Thunder scalps as revenge, and as much as Jeremy Lin turned out to be the Luis Gonzalez of basketball, and Asik wound up worth what we thought was outrageous money at the time we signed, and the young guys are rebounding, and we're not missing P-Pat as much as we thought we would, and Parsons turned out to be just plain frustrating to opposing defenses, the Rockets are still going against the Thunder, and they're still under .500 vs. the Western conference. Speaking of which, the Boston Celtics are 14-16 against the West, while the Knicks are 17-13. In some ways, that's an indicator of specific medium performance, something somewhat useful in a seven game set prediction. I think the nicks will take the series, but understand this friends: Boston is a very real and live threat. They have been to the dance. They have the pieces to pull an upset. And they've looked a lot better than their record at points over the season. After that series, the Knicks can go as far as they can without Lebron in front of them. After that, he has to break his leg. And an arm. Or two. Because it's time to say something that goes about halfway to the thing that would be too early to say and no one wants to say: We haven't seen this kind of dominance since MJ. Even when the Lakers ruled the courts, there was always a chance they could fall. Hell a ragtag Rockets team led by MO TAYLOR and STEVE FRANCIS gave them hell in the playoffs. Then, a few years later, a Rockets team led by Von Wafer and a rookie Aaron Brooks took them to seven games, including a game 6 blowout. (Noticing a trend here? I don't just hate the Lakers as a Darth Vader. I consider them a rival. By the way LA, I can't miss the opportunity to ask: How does Ralph Sampson's back hand taste? Too soon?). But I'm no dummy. The Lake Show has just as much chance of toppling the Spurs as the Celtics do of taking out the Knicks. Well, OK, not JUST AS MUCH, but some chance. Essentially, aside from LBJ & company, no one's safe. BTW... what would Lebron have to do to pull a legitimate Barry to MJ's Ruth? It's a fair question. I'm thinking the bidding starts at 8 rings. Things are getting Meche-y, Tex

Monday, April 8, 2013

Yellow t-shirts

I put on my yellow 2007 "We Believe" Warrior playoff t-shirt today, before attending tonight's game vs. the Jazz.  I haven't worn this shirt to a game in a while, but with the chance to see the Warriors clinch their first playoffs since that year, I figured it was appropriate.

Oh well.

The current Warrior squad, led primarily by Steph Curry and sneaky goon David Lee, are going to the 2nd Warrior team in the past 20 years to reach the playoffs.  Which is a sad thing to type, and only underscores how impressive this Warrior team has been this year.  They have good size from 1-5, which even the "We Believe" team couldn't claim, a decent bench, and one of the emerging stars in the league.  But, being at the game tonight, it was difficult to avoid comparing this team with the magic of 2007.

Baron Davis.  Stephen Jackson.  J-Rich.  Andris Biendris, before Don Nelson ripped out his heart and ate it in front on him.  Matt Barnes.  A young, pre-moped Monta Ellis.  A brilliant, sometimes drunk, always swaggering Don Nelson.  This team was unique, and won playoff games in ways that no team is every supposed to- without a center, playing four guards, letting Matt Barnes play the 4.  It was a mess of swager, anger, deadly 3-point shooting, courage, and Baron Davis realizing his true potential, if only for a brief moment.  It was the most seductive team I've ever seen play, one that displayed its flaws so openly, honestly, that it was impossible to not fall in love with them.  They were the most human team I've ever rooted for.  And they fit the Bay Area's need to be weird and out of the main-stream perfectly.

The current Warrior team is better than 2007.  They're younger, steadier, more reliable, much more well-rounded, with size at every position.  They look like how a playoff team should look.  But what they don't have yet, and what they still could develop through experience alone, is the fearlessness that the "We Believe" team had.  Watching Curry, Lee, and the rest get pushed around by a mediocre Jazz team, seeing Klay throw tentative pass after tentative pass in the first quarter, failing to see Barnes do something unexpected, is a reminder that these Warriors, while a solid NBA team, have much work to do before becoming anything more than first-round fodder.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Hello World- we're back.

It logged me in automatically.

Can I post to this blog, anymore?

Well of course you can

But I didn't before?

Friday, October 29, 2010

How I Spent My CMJ

When I see a band multiple times over a weekend it gives me the opportunity to find cracks in the fa├žade. Do they go through the motions? Do they get angry at a lack of crowd participation? Do they tire out easily? Do they act like entitled jerks just because they play music? Tiny Victories, who played last Thursday, Friday and Saturday, didn’t crack at all. At a packed upstairs room at Pianos, a sparsely populated Matchless show and a beautiful late-fall night outdoors at Brooklyn Fireproof, Greg Walters (synthesizer) and Cason Kelly (drums) played energized sets of their anthemic synth-pop. And they were polite.

I’ve got punk roots and I’m still not completely sold on the synthesizer revolution sweeping the Indieverse but the essential life giving properties of Kelly’s live drumming gives a depth to Tiny Victories’ sound that separates them from other synthesizer heavy acts. It also helps keep them loud. They're loud enough, for example, to be heard crystal clear despite being confined to Matchless’ smoking cage and loud enough to get a stamp of disapproval in the form of a wet paper towel thrown down by one of Brooklyn Fireproof's neighbors.

There’s a touch of LCD Soundsystem in Tiny Victories' DNA. It’s easy to pick up in the swirl of melancholy and optimism Walters mixes in the synthesizer. Walters lyrics aren’t as funny as James Murphy’s but he’s got the potential to be based on some of the one-liners he casually tossed off (“If you’re looking for merch or CDs or anything…talk to another band because we don’t have any,” being my favorite).

Get Lost Mr Bones by Tiny Victories

If I had any doubt that this was a band that could keep their energy up it was dispelled when Kelly took advantage of Brooklyn Fireproof's spacious backyard to do a victory lap during Sunday night's set-closer "Get Lost Mr. Bones". It was the kind of joyous improvisational act I rarely see at shows, but maybe I just don't get out enough.

Full disclosure: Cason Kelly and Tiny Victories' manager David Teller are friends. Blogger's honor the above was not editorially compromised.

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Perils of Rooting Against, or, Playoff Omnibus Numero Uno

Just because the Mets are too poorly run to make the playoffs doesn't mean I stop watching baseball after Oliver Perez has walked his last batter as a Met. Unfortunately for me, it also means watching at least one team I hate play extra baseball for a week, maybe even a month. More unfortunately for me, this year the Braves, Phillies and Yankees managed to make it to the playoffs. I would only be able to find a real life equivalence for that if I was dumped by my girlfriend minutes after losing my job and then was set on fire by a war protesting Buddhist monk who found self-immolation too constricting.

Rooting moderately hard against three teams takes as much of an emotional toll as rooting passionately for a team that I do like, with the added bonus of not giving back any comparable feelings of joy I get when the Mets win. It's just a moment of smugness that quickly goes away when I remember I'd give anything for them to just make the playoffs next year.

Watching the two games I did tonight, it feels a like I'm being punished for investing as much in a team I hate losing as much as I do in a team I love winning. However, my strict atheism forbids me from believing in any kind of gods, much less The Baseball Gods. No, the truth is that I hate three teams that are really good at baseball. Hell, two of them made the World Series last year and came into this year as the favorites. If I'm being punished by anything, it's baseball science.

The only team I can gin up any legitimate affection for is the Giants, a residual effect of living with Ush. Even with the Giants though, my good will towards them is tempered by their employment of the loathsome Cody Ross. Not to mention rooting for a team that's relying on Aubrey Huff and Pat Burrell to carry the offense just seems so hopeless.

With the Yankees and Phillies already up 2-0 in their respective series, I can already feel my molars sharpened from the constant grinding. That I just turned off a game where the Braves came back from a 4-0 deficit mere hours after the Phillies had done the same thing will not help me avoid costly dental reconstruction. After tonight, there's a good possibility of a Phillies/Braves NLCS with the Yankees advancing to the ALCS, followed by the following nightmare scenarios:
  • The Phillies playing in a third straight World Series, winning their second in three years
  • The Braves winning a World Series in Bobby Cox's final year on the bench
  • The Yankees winning their second straight World Series
By then I may just have to throw in the towel and skip the World Series like I threatened to do last year. Not that I was able to, I enjoy the depths of addiction far too much.

  • Being a fan of things that are shiny and new, I started pulling for the Reds after the Mets disastrous, post-All-Star break road trip. Here was a Central division team that wasn't the Cardinals or Cubs, running away with the division. Plus the whole redemption thing after ten years of ineptitude. I didn't get to see much of them all year, so maybe if I had, my expectations wouldn't have been so high. They look terrible so far, chasing Roy Oswalt notwithstanding. Orlando Cabrera, "winning ballplayer" made the play to start the Reds' brain lock on Wilson Valdez' grounder in the second inning of Game 1. Wilson Valdez isn't Usain Bolt, go to first base, get the last out and go sit dow-. Oh no, definitely shovel the ball to second base using only your glove. Kudos as well to Scott Rolen for going to second tonight on an impossible play instead of taking the sure out.
  • The Reds were also singlehandedly outgamed by Chase Utley, who faked being hit by a pitch and missed third base when scoring later in the inning. The former is poor sportsmanship, but the Reds had a chance to appeal the latter and I can't imagine why they didn't.
  • Last night, I watched the Giants strand a runner on third with one out and thought, "Hmm, offense like that can certainly kill you." And so the Giants, despite getting an early lead managed to still look putrid on offense tonight, blowing a first and third with one out in the seventh inning. Atlanta scored three runs the next inning. People: runs left off the board count just as much as the ones you can get up there.
  • Dick Stockton and Bob Brenly made a big show out of talking about how Aubrey Huff and Pat Burrell were college teammates and are now great friends. It makes sense on more than one level. Sure, maybe their personalities mesh really well, but they're also two guys who are always going to drag some vague sense of disappointment around with them to whatever team they end up on.
  • Brian Wilson isn't so damn special. He's got great numbers, but it didn't look like he was fooling anyone on the Braves. If your fastball isn't good enough to beat Alex Gonzalez when you miss with it belt high, you aren't going to anchor a championship bullpen.
  • Speaking of bullpens, the last bullpen I remember that collectively grew horrible beards is the Astros' bullpen from 2005. The Giants should be sure to remember that those beards only got the Astros to the World Series, it didn't help them win it.
  • I haven't seen much of Yankees/Twins, but I did see the Jesse Crain vs. Mark Texiera at-bat. From watching that one inning, Jesse Crain came out looking like one of those infuriating relievers who has a great fastball with movement and speed but is too afraid to throw it until his back is against the wall. Science has proven this is the most irritating type of relief pitcher in baseball. Number two? Kyle Farnsworth.
  • The most comedic play-by-play moment of the playoffs goes to whoever was calling Game 1 of Rays/Rangers who claimed having Jeff Francoeur batting seventh provided lineup insurance for the Rangers.
  • Lucky for me I have to go sling fish heads tomorrow while the Yankees and Twins play. I can't stand to watch this sweep happen.