Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Playoff Musings part vi

Yes, you probably already knew all this. But it's news to me.

Fa'real. In my defense, reading Bill Simmons' columns (and I do, with a religious fervor somewhere between Footloose John Lithgow and Holiday Catholic) is like listening to Al Franken talk about the democratic party. Or, better, Greg Kot talk about Wilco. Not exactly fair and balanced. So, when I read Simmons' usual raves about his beloved C's and the potential greatness of Rondo, I was a little skeptical. But I repent because, to quote Dire Straits, "Oh yeah, the boy can play." The PG position is in good hands for the next 10 years: Rondo, D-Will, CP3, Derrick Rose, Jordan Farmar...

Fa'lawed. The best team in the league squandered leads to the 8th-seeded, limping, in-fighting Utah Jazz. In every game. The flaws I saw: 1) The killer instinct- seen in teams like the Every Other Year Spurs, Larry's Celtics, Jordan's Bulls- is not there. 2) Bynum is not the new Kareem. He is streaky and prone to disappearing acts. 3) Their defense is spotty. It can be very good, but they just wanted to outscore the Jazz (which they did). And 4) Kobe is a mammoth douche. An unstoppable mammoth douche (seriously, Ronnie Brewer and Andrei Kirilenko played admirably but Kobe's arsenal of Shots To Counter Tight Defense is the real deal), but a mammoth douche nonetheless. Laker apologists claim that the team's just "getting its playoff legs." Whatever helps you sleep. Go Cavs.

The way he talked about his game-changing shots was so narcissistic and clearly "Hey, media, this ain't only the Derrick Rose show" as to be completely off-putting. Contrast it to Derrick Rose's humble, unassuming appoach and it puts off all the more. Then after the big 2OT win, rather than say, "WE came together" he said (paraphrase alert), 'I told the guys, we're through playing. Let's go get this. And they responded to me.'" What a desperate grab for the public perception of Who Leads The Bulls. Also, he grabbed his crotch, just like classic MJ would've. Oh wait.

The Pistons and the Jazz, in particular, have to shake things up or- in this economic climate- ticket sales will dive like a barely-pre-stitches Greg Louganis. This is not the economic climate to test your diehards. If you look, in particular, at Game 5 of Jazz/Lakers, it became painfully apparent who wasn't wondering if their travel agent could bump their flight up a couple days.

Tell the teams upon teams of medical researchers to stop their studies. The Denver Thuggets, just a year after disappointing all of Colorado, most of Wyoming, and at least half of George Karl, are playing killer basketball. They DESTROYED a team led by "the best PG in the game" by more than FIFTY POINTS. How does a playoff team get pulp-beaten by another playoff team to that demoralizing degree? Like his old buddy KG before him, Chauncey Billups changed the atmosphere in the mile high locker room. He is the anti-cancer.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Playoff Musings...Part V

This installment (number five) of our playoff-lon observations comes weighted with a lot of expectation. Episode V of Star Wars was The Empire Strikes Back. 5 is also that Lenny Kravitz album you bought and couldn't trade in at the used CD store a few years back because they already had 12 copies. 5 is also the jersey number of the incredibly intense guy in a suit on the Celtics bench dropping F-bombs and bruising ribs with chest bumps. And 5 is the number of games in a series that Detroit didn't see this year. I bet they're having more fun in Cancun than they would've had in Cleveland anyway. You can only walk through the Rock N Roll Hall Of Fame so many times.

That said, here are a few observations after all the series have played 4 games.

The Hornets scored as many points against the Nuggets as Jordan scored against the Celtics in his legendary game at the Garden. Do you believe that if His Airness had played the Hornets last night, 1 on 5, that the game would've gone into overtime? I don't either. He is a closer.

Speaking of closer, it's a term that went from a novel cross-sport reference to completely overused in about 10 minutes. Should I thank Jalen Rose for dubbing a "closer" on every team even if they don't have that kind of guy? Or should the blame be placed squarely on the Blazers for forcing Brandon Roy into that role even though he is probably only a really, really good set up man?

I can't get enough of the black and white "Where amazing happens" commercials. I wonder if it wouldn't be so hard to make a new one for each game. Here are my candidates for top 5 commercials from this years playoffs so far.

- Boozer's dunk. Even though you'll have to wait until next year to play it. But then you won't be able to play it when he's high-fiving the Detroit Pontiacs during tank-a-palooza 2010; the John Wall sweepstakes.

-Williams' game winner. It was the deciding play and gave Jazz fans some sort of condolences when this off season gets messy. And it will get messy.

-Wade's banked-in 3-pointer. That would have helped me sit through him hobbling around in Game 4. Can we get a cortizone shot please, or some of that magic soccer spray?

-Allen's game winner. For two reasons. 1) It was over Joakim Noah. And 2) I think he was crying when he saw it go in. The black and white super slow-motion would help me confirm as well as put Joakim in about 600 YouTube parody videos.

-Tracy McGrady walking out of the tunnel in the Rose Garden during game 5, in the 4th quarter with the Rockets up 5. The crowd would be going crazy because they know he just lost the series for Houston. Its the anti-Willis.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Playoff Musings pt. iv:


Can you have a "Where Will Amazing Happen This Year" commercial that shows last year's Houston Rockets? I know you have stars to peddle, Mr. Stern, but the Rockets may have won that battle, but they lost the war. I'm not saying a team necessarily has to win the series (the LeBron commercial is the good example), but they should probably have escaped the first round.

That was amazing when the Rockets lost to the Jazz in the first round. Again.

That was amazing when Yao Ming hit that shot over Okur that extended the Rockets' season.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Playoff Musings, pt. 3

It Takes Two or I'm A Believer

Marvin Gaye and Neil Diamond. Both great songwriters who have had their own songs re-popularized only to never receive credit from the masses. Rod Stewart and Tina Turner will never be Marvin Gaye, and The Monkees will never be Neil Diamond. We probably knew that already. But teams in the playoffs are a different thing. After one playoff game, we are ready to anoint and condemn and to compare to the greats. Be it the end of the Celtics or D-Will and Co., be it the coronation Derrick Rose or Yao not missing a single field goal in the Playoffs. I've always held the idea that you can't evaluate the series until two games have been played.
So now we have the evidence to decide who is believable. And just one more tie in back to music, in anticipation of the new St. Vincent album, watch this video to decide who is the most believable...just so you can't hone your skills on picking out a fake which is what we are about to do.

Western Conference

"The Lakers have been playing like crap" is what they say. Or have the Jazz been forcing them that way?
I don't think the Lakers will book their tickets to Cleveland just yet...especially not with their PG posse.
VERDICT: Lakers have a little more faker in them than they did two weeks ago. I'll take Deron Williams in the playoffs over CP3 anyday.

Do I need to spell this one out?
VERDICT: Nuggets look like a good date for The Kobe's.

This is Tony's team. That is Jason's team.
VERDICT: The Spurs might not be a quick out. I mean in the first round.

If the anti-TMAK security can be more consistent...
Just give the ball to Yao and send the rest of the team to block the exits.
VERDICT: Who is still madly in love with the Blazers? Thats what I thought. Roy is looking more like #15 for Jersey, congrats.

Eastern Conference

Can I get a hard foul someone? Anyone? At least send LeBron and Co. to the next round with some bruises. If the 2003-2006 Pistons saw this, they would kick their own butts.
VERDICT: Unchanged.

Put Rose's first TWO games together and he is having an above average post season and not a Magic-esque post season.
Remember, we are a Paul Pierce free throw away from this not being much of a series.
VERDICT: The Champs are still the Champs.

Shaq: 1, Van Gundy: 1.
Lets see if Philly can dig themselves a huge hole at the first of EVERY game and then come back. It makes for good NBA TV ratings.
VERDICT: I believe in the Magic still. But only as far as I can throw them.

The Hawks picked up a few things from the Celtics last year. All bark, no bite.
Miami can only win when they hit the 3. This is like playing roulette.
VERDICT: Wade has never lost a first round series when healthy. He's healthy.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Playoff Musing pt II

A quick apology for being off the grid for a stretch. To paraphrase Bob, "Ain't it just like the day to be busy when you're trying to be so un-busy." Oh well. As Elvis Costello sang, "Life intimidates art."

(Not that this blog is art. Moving on.)

What did we see on Day 1?

- The premiere of another player that commentators can lay their superlatives on. A word of advice to the Doug Collinses of the world: take it easy with the shining reviews and Derrick Rose; save something for the honeymoon. The kid can play. So could Derrick Coleman.

- Subtraction by subtraction If you looked down at Boston from space, you could see the hole KG left. Spin it how you will, fellas, (we still have 2 all-stars, we're still the reigning champs, these are guys who thrive on challenges) but this ain't looking good.

- Yawn. Maybe it was me, but Spurs/Mavs kind of had the feeling of the ol' Old Timers Game, where they used to roll out the retired legends on all-star weekend. I was so bored, I started on next year's taxes. Also yawnful? Portland getting shellacked by Houston. I believe that Portland has it in them, but they didn't show it yesterday.

- Expected. With his dash to the Finals looking less and less troublesome, nobody really thought LeBron would stumble in Kickoff To Coronation, did they? If it weren't so terribly square (and, ahem, anglo saxon), I would suggest Bachman-Turner Overdrive's "Takin' Care of Business" as the theme song for the Cavs' postseason. I don't believe they'll be messing around.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Playoff Musings

Spike: "I'm watching Portland/Houston. If things keep going this way, I wouldn't be surprised to see T-Mac suit up for the clinching game, just to say he got out of the first round."

Friday, April 17, 2009

If the playoffs started today...Day Before Edition

If the playoffs started today, it would be Saturday. And we would finally have a break from mock NFL Draft scenarios. Since coaches and teams have been anxiously awaiting my final assessment on the payoffs, now that the seeds are set, I will oblige.
Roll tape.

Eastern Conference

Cleveland Cavaliers
You might want to keep the bench festivities to a minimum, the Pistons tend to take things a little personal.

Boston Celtics
The biggest 2nd seed, 62 win underdog ever.
KG isn't walking through that door...or is he?

Orlando Magic
Van Gundy has a chance to prove Shaq wrong, to prove he isn't a folding chair. Or was that Dwight Howard? Maybe it was Hedo? I cant remember. But at least they are still playing.

Atlanta Hawks
They weren't scared of Big Bad Boston last year but are they afraid of Big Bad Dwyane?

Miami Heat
From Rollins, Ilinois......

Philadelphia 76ers
Savor these last moments when you don't have to feed Elton Brand the ball 40 times a night.

Chicago Bulls
Is this a year early?

Detroit Pistons
Remember the 3rd X-Men movie? Here are some parallels between that and this year's Pistons.
It was called The Last Stand.
No plot line whatsoever.
Just crazy guys doing what they do best, be it coming off screens or getting T's.
Does anything else describe D Troit better?

Western Conference

LA Lakers
Ugh. The Western Conference reminds me of the stock market about 8 months ago. Artificially inflated. Yeah you've got 7 50 win teams, but can any of them win more than 2 games against the Kobe's?

Denver Nuggets
Is Carmelo the new TMak? Has never gotten out of the first round. 4-20 in the first round to be exact, just don't use that number in front of JR, Birdman and Carmelo.

San Antonio Spurs
Is this now Tony's team?

Portland Trailblazers
Next year we are either going to be throwing Roy into every Kobe/LeBron/Wade conversation or he'll be a part of every Iverson/Carter/Webber
Its Allman Brothers or Jonas Brothers...take your pick Brandon.

Houston Rockets
You are advising security to keep TMAk out of the arena right? Right? RIGHT?!?

Dallas Mavericks
Remember when we thought Devin Harris was going to get his team into the playoffs and Kidd wasn't?

New Orleans Hornets
Are they on the way back down already?

Utah Jazz
The Jazz' best line-up (according to Williams/Korver/AK/Millsap/Okur (+26 is 4th best in the league)
The Jazz' best line-up (according to the Jazz fans): Williams/Korver/AK/Millsap/Okur
The Jazz' second best line-up (according to Williams/Brewer/Korver/Millsap/Okur (+23 is 6th best in the league)
The Jazz' best line-up (according to Jerry Sloan): Williams/Miles/Brewer/Boozer/Okur (+1 according to 82
I guess you get what you deserve.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Paul, Meet Craig. Craig, Paul.

This post was reserved for a review of "A Positive Rage", but the copy I got, as well as all the rest of the copies the record store had, didn't work. So, I am taking a different twist. Below you will find my live diary of reading Paul Shirley's review of "Stay Positive." In hind sight it is a little negative and slightly snarky, so apologies upfront for that. That said, here we go.

His first impression, "the lead singer can't sing." I'll give him that. The first time you listen to THS, Craig's singing/not singing voice sticks out like a kid wearing jeans while playing basketball.

Not even 100 words into it and he has spent more time talking about indie-detesters than actually talking about the album.

And he is still talking about them. Still.

I like his concept of a feeding frenzy amongst the hipster community. (see example: Merriweather Post Pavilion) But then he uses Sonic Youth as his example. Ugh. Sure they are critically lauded, but they have a career to back it up, unlike you Mr. Shirley.

Here come the "band comparisons" that accompany any Hold Steady review. Amazingly enough he stays away from the over-used and slightly off-based Springsteen comparison. But The National and Drive-By Truckers? Really? Is it because Patterson Hood sings back up on Navy Sheets? Is it because the National and THS live in Brooklyn? It has to be something like that because its obviously not the music part.

Now the lyrical praise comes in. "Craig Finn's words are, dare I say, magical." Yes Mr. Shirley, I too was a skeptic at first, but the miracles work.

Here comes the death blow to his credibility. "It would be interesting to find out what The Hold Steady's members think of their band." I understand taking a blind stab at reviewing something without being swayed by other opinions. But isn't it just good journalism to check some of these things out, even if its after you review the record? It took me about three clicks to find out what the band thinks about themselves. They wonder why people keep comparing them to Springsteen and why people miss the obvious comparison to Cheap Trick. And it didn't take Letterman or a truth serum for them to talk about it. Yes you are not a true music critic, and I am not a journalism critic. But that doesn't mean you can't do your homework.

A Hornby reference at the end. A few points to salvage the credibility. Way to bring it back around.

In the end I got no review whatsoever of the album, minus a couple lyrics. It was more of a commentary on the band themselves and the indie community that praises them.

If you want a real review of the album, click here. And don't take his advice on an underwhelming live show. He couldn't be more wrong. I'll even offer you the Old Spice Challenge on this one. If you don't like them live, I'll buy you a stick of your old deodorant.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Ball Soared and The Crowd Roared

Baseball season started yesterday. Maybe you knew but maybe you were too busy wondering whether or not all 70,00 fans inside Ford Field could actually see the NCAA Championship game, or even the Jumbotron for that matter.

In honor of the guys who put on pants with elastic at the bottom and run around in the grass for 162 games, we have a couple presents for you today, since music and baseball seem to go hand in hand like no other sport. The Hold Steady are bonafide baseball fans. Joe Henry wrote a masterpiece of a song with a modern day Willie Mays as the subject. Baseball players get to pick songs to come up to bat to, however terrible they may be.

The first is a gem of the brand new Felice Brothers album. These guys got a lot of attention last year with their self-titled album, and the new album promises to get even more this year.

Oh Ty Cobb, you're dead and gone
you had a game like a war machine
and through the great hall of fame
you wander

The Felice Brothers - Cooperstown

Since I couldn't find the updated version by The Hold Steady, we are going back to the very roots of this song, featuring some lyrics about Casey at the Bat that you have probably never heard.

The Original Take Me Out To The Ballgame

Friday, April 3, 2009

Injury Report 4.3

Injury Reports have become one of Charlie T's signature posts. But I've been blog-negligent lately and the only strand pulling me out is an injury report. So here we go:

Carlos Boozer (ever winning back Jazz fans) is unlikely.

Paul Milsap (inspiring Jazz fans to pray, fast, and/or kill for him to stay) is a mortal lock.

Jerry Sloan (suiting up to show an underachieving team what it means to care) is probable.

L.A. Lakers (hoping the Bobcats don't make the playoffs) are unspoken.

Tyler Hansbrough (giving teams visions of Mark Madsen and the Ghost of Eric Montross) is probable.

Philadelphia 76ers (missing Elton Brand) are doubtful.

Allen Iverson (actually out with a back injury) is complete and utter malarkey.

Joe Dumars (having patience for complete and utter malarkey) is out for the season.

Rasheed Wallace (not being the Pistons' residential talented headache) is surprised.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Injury Report 4.2

Once again, a rundown of the injuries in the Association.

Allen Iverson (actually retiring instead of coming off the bench) is doubtful.

Joe Dumars (calling Iverson's bluff) is probable.

Any team (wanting Iverson's services) is highly doubtful.

Allen Iverson (joining T-Mak and Vince-mail in some sort of NBA version of The Breakfast Club) will wait until the offseason.

Shaquille O'Neal (signing on to the same movie) is rumored to have interest.

Stan Van Gundy (taking pot shots at every team the Magic play) is cleared for tonight's game.

Stan Van Gundy (getting the Gundy kicked out of him at some point before mid-April) is also cleared for tonight's game.

Stan Van Gundy (causing one of his players to get flagrant two'ed in the last game of the regular season because he can't keep his mouth shut) is highly probable.

James Posey (bringing the Miami/Boston mojo to the Bayou) is seeking another opinion on where his mojo might actually be.

Austin Powers (going back in time with Posey in a hilarious adventure to find both their mojos only to find out that they have the same dad while fighting miniature versions of themselves) is rumored to have interest.

James Posey (the new Robert Horry) is doubtful.

Kevin Garnett (taking the next two weeks off and only sleeping 2 hours a night because he is spending 22 hours a day psyching himself up in the mirror) is taking part in drills.