Live Blog: Game 4 NBA Finals

A few things need to be said before this blog gets going:

1. I DO NOT think Kobe is the best player in the NBA. The objective numbers suggest he is behind LeBron, Chris Paul, and Dwayne Wade. His Hype machine is the biggest though. I may make fun of this.

2. Orlando Magic bandwagon fans have annoyed me to the point that I want LA to win by 1,000.

3. I have had a few beers and will continue drinking.

Let's Go!
The NBA Finals: Where not dressing like a coach happens. Congrats to Stan Van Gundy on being the most underdressed coach ever to make the finals.

Prediction: Lakers by 6. 2 of the 3 "experts" (since when is Michael Wilbon an expert on anything) chose with me.

Side note: David Ortiz Homers off C.C. Sabathia. Most unlikely thing to happen this entire baseball season?

Skip Bayless announces on Twitter he is sticking with Orlando in 7, and that "Cant Count on Sabathia" is surprising pitching well against Boston. You know even though C.C. has been like, the best pitcher in baseball the last 2 years.

9:07: Kobe makes first shot of the game, then a miss by Orlando (0-2 Lee) and a foul.

9:10: The Magic are really crashing on Gasol down low early.

9:11: The first 4 shots are 3 pointers by Courtney Lee (1-4) but an offensive rebound and Howard goes to the line, (1-2) Why isn't his hand on the side of the ball when he shoots free throws? Seriously?

Skip Bayless is an idiot. I will continue monitoring. But just know that.

9:17: Jeff Van Gunday hates foul calls down low that are reflected in the rule book so that "men can be men". He is like 5 feet tall, I'll show him what a foul looks like.

9:19 Good defense and rebound by Howard, then Hedo throws the ball away, but JVG thought it was a "good look by Turkoglu" even though nobody was close. Then an And-1 by Kobe. He's got 7 of 11 Lakers points.

11-12 Orlando first timeout, beer time.

Skip Bayless thinks Dwight's energy is because of Kareem's stupid side remarks. I think it is because he is a pro basketball player in game 4 of the finals. Who do you think is right?

9:24: Magic have a 24 second violation out of a timeout. Good coaching. A couple sloppy possesions after that and then Skip to my Lou knocks down a shot. 14-11.

Then a Howard block and a crazy shot by Alston going out of bounds and barely looking at the basket, must of learned that at Rucker.

9:30: Technical foul on Ariza, gotta hone in that emotion Trevor, this ain't UCLA!

9:33: Stan Van talking about what another coach (Popavich) tells his team during the finals. Way to go Coach!

Jeff Van Gundy says after Dwight's start he should shoot the technical shot. That may be the worst grasp of basic statistics ever in the history of the universe*

*hyperbole, sort of.

9:37: Pietrus grabs the crap out of Bryant and then fouls him. Then he does the good NBA thing and complains about it for no reason. 20-17 Orlando.

9:40: Alston with a gorgeous floater, then a Laker's travel. Mbenga with a huge shot block, and Bryant nails a jumpshot.

9:42: Reddick super bricks the last shot. Magic by 4 after 1 quarter.

** Second Quarter will not have live updates, maybe a couple general thoughts I will be back in the second half.**

UPDATE: Unfortuantely my internet and computer are malfunctioning to the point where live blogging is no longer a possibility.


You had a good run, Magic

Well as predicted by me, and any sane human being who knows what a trend line looks like, the Nuggets-Lakers series did not consist of seven games where both teams scored 100 points. Magic Johnson did make it to the third game, so I guess that was close.

I actually heard him repeat it after the first game too. Sweet.


This is getting fun! Steve Phillips is stupid!

Update: a much better writer took Steve Phillips to task for SI.com http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2009/writers/joe_posnanski/05/19/carlos.beltran/index.html

From Steve's chat:

I would take Torii Hunter, Grady Sizemore, Curtis Granderson, and Nate McLouth over Beltran, and use the financial difference to improve the team in other ways. Beltran isn't a $17 million dollar a year player. He just doesn't have the kind of impact for that kind of money.

Okay so let's look at how good the people he would rather have over Beltran are.

Torii Hunter: Age-33, 106 OPS+, -2.3 UZR/150, 2008 WAR 2.3 worth 10.4M, 16.M Salary
Grady Sizemore: Age-26, 122 OPS+, 6.7 UZR/150, 2008 WAR 6.3 worth 28.3M, 3.2M Salary
Curtis Granderson:Age-28, 118 OPS +, 6.0 UZR/150, 2008 WAR 3.8 worth 17M, 1M Salary
Nate McLouth: Age-27, 111 OPS +, -11 UZR/150, 2008 WAR 3.6 worth 16.1M, .4M Salary

Now Beltran: Age-32, 119 OPS +, 3.7 UZR/150, 2008 WAR 6.7 worth 30M, 18.6M Salary

As you can see Beltran put up more wins above replacement(WAR)than any of the other players last season. But let's delve into it a little further.

Torii Hunter used to be a great defensive CF but is no longer, his career UZR is actually negative now. He is older than Beltran and not nearly the hitter. Only a person who has no knowledge of statistics or really baseball would want an older player who is a lesser hitter, lesser fielder, and makes about the same amount.

Grady Sizemore I would legitimately rather have than Beltran. He is at the same level of play all around and is younger and has a lower salary. Good job Steve, you got one right.

Curtis Granderson you could make a case for because his defense is legitimately great, and he has show the ability to hit well. He has less power than Beltran and doesn't steal bases as well, and has not been as consistently great. He has one season (2007) where he had 7.4 WAR, however no other season has he gone over 3.8. He is an excellent player but not in the Beltran class. The only real argument would be on salary and age. With the Mets in win now mode this would be stupid.

Lastly Nate Mclouth. Nate had a good hitting season last year and got lots of people excited about him. He has never in 4 other seasons been even an average major league baseball player. Despite the gold glove last year every single defensive metric thinks that he is one of the worst everyday fielders in MLB. It is so silly and short sighted to even think he and Carlos Beltran are on the same planet. He is sort of young, actually right at peak age, which means more of those sub-average years to come than the 3.5 WAR years.

I hope I illuminated how stupid Steve Phillips is. If not look at how good Carlos Beltran is.

He is the most effecient basestealer in the history of the game. Meaning he has the highest percentage of successful steal attempts of any player with more than 200 steals.

His WAR the last 3 years: 6.7, 4.9, 7.0

The only outfielder who has produced more value than him since 2002 is Barry Bonds. Not worth his contract Steve? Sheesh!


Sports analysis, where you can say whatever you want and nobody will call you on it.

Magic Johnson played basketball at Michigan State, then for the Los Angeles Lakers. He was extremely good at it, I consider him the second greatest player in the history of the game. What he is not good at is basketball analysis. This can be seen with many ex-players (Emmitt Smith!), because players aren't especially good at describing how they did what they did, or who does it the best today. They often overweigh things like "heart" and "grit" instead of just saying that one guy is a much more talented player than another. Also Magic Johnson (and every analyst ever) likes to make crazy predictions that the statistical evidence does not suggest is possible (John Kruk said Randy Johnson would win 30 games at the beginning of one season). I like making crazy predictions too, I did it before the baseball season, but at least I looked at statistical trends beforehand.

So what was Magic Johnson's assessment of the Nuggets-Lakers series. "I think it will be a highly contentious series that will go seven games and each team will score over 100 points every game."

Let's break that into parts.

I think it will be highly contentious

Ok, both good teams. I'll buy it.

I think it will go seven games

They are the #1 and #2 seeds in the west so that sounds good.

Both teams will score over 100 points each game

Umm, huh? That sounds ridiculous, let me spend 30 seconds looking up their past macthups this year.

102-116 Lakers, ok so he is doing well
97-104 Lakers, pretty close but nope (also was before the Billups trade and the Nuggets slowed their posession rate)
90-104 Lakers, Whiff...
90-79 Nuggets, WOW not even close


Sick of Manny crap, Going FireJoeMorgan.com style, only less funny because I don't write for The Office

Howard Bryant wrote a column called "Manny fallout: no excuses left". I tried my darndest to do the good people of FireJoeMorgan proud.

Just when it appeared there could be no more surprises in baseball's drug-fueled con game of three-card monte, the joker just hit the table.

First off, huge slugger linked to steroids, not so much a wild surprise. Secondly, who really thought we were done with this stupid steroids crap with the illegal list of 103 players floating around.

And what can they all say now that Manny Ramirez -- engine of the Dodgers' resurgence,

Who is they? you haven't introduced any people into the article. Do you know english?

arguably the best right-handed batter since Rogers Hornsby,

That would be a short argument, ready
Bill: Manny Ramirez is the best right handed hitter since Rogers Hornsby
Bob: Pujols
Bill: Oh yeah, nevermind

owner of 533 career home runs, MVP of the Boston Red Sox's first World Series win in 86 years -- has been banned for 50 games for his use of a substance -- the female fertility drug hCG -- that men inject when cycling off steroids?

Actually he was suspended for having possession of it, after having raised levels of testosterone. But fact checking is for sissies.

This is a media story. Why won't the media leave this alone?

Oh I see what he is doing, he is going to talk about excuses that apologists use. And yes, the media does take this WAY too far. You know, like breaking A-Rod's constitutional rights to access a list of players that should not have existed.

This one was a favorite old chestnut of players and fans too blind or too apathetic to confront the truth that their gilded, fallen heroes have been engaged in a deep deception for many years (roping their admirers in along with them).

The ones that the media made into heroes. Sane people don't make baseball players into heroes. Although while you bring this up, why aren't you talking about how players in the 60's and 70's ate amphetemines like they were candy to stay on the field. This must be about only this generations "heroes". I'm starting to catch on.

What has occurred has been nothing more than a naked money grab at the cost of something far more precious than cash


The blame-the-messenger approach won't work today. It can't. This time, it wasn't Selena Roberts or BALCO crusaders Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams or the New York Daily News or the ESPN bulldogs chasing down another misunderstood ballplayer.

You know you're right, I should hate Manny Ramirez even more than these people. I'm angry, you ruined my favorite sport Manny Ramirez, how dare you. I will never again enjoy a homerun.

For once, it wasn't even the federal government that stepped in, extinguishing those doesn't the government have more important things to do than hunt down ballplayers? dismissals.

Don't get me started on the government intervening. It's like he loves everything I hate. Mostly infringing on constitutional rights, and ruining effecient government.

This time, it was baseball's own trap -- its much-maligned substance abuse policy -- that snared Ramirez when its testing program revealed that Ramirez arrived at spring training this year with elevated levels of testosterone. That red flag set off an investigation that ultimately led to his suspension for using human chorionic gonadotropin. People keep talking about performance enhancers because the players keep using them.

Look eventually he got the chain of events correct. It's not that the media keeps talking about it, it's how they get on their soapbox and proclaim steroid users liars, cheaters, filthy, theives, and every other word in the book. Then barely cover the fact that Brett Myers beat the shit out of his wife. It is about the shock and awe coverage. Mostly it is about people like you who do a million of these stories in baseball, but it is halfway forgotten when Shawn Merriman tests positive.

All this took place in the past, when there were no rules. Why is everyone digging into the past? We need to move forward.

Legitimately, this is a stupid excuse in a vacuum. However it does seem that the amount is going down right? And we can't even really prove that PED's help you play baseball better.

In December, one year after the release of the Mitchell report, major league baseball was triumphant: No big-name big leaguer had violated the league policy.

See, I told you. But I cheated because I knew what he was going to write, having read the article and all.

In January, journeyman Phillies pitcher J.C. Romero was suspended, under somewhat murky circumstances, for the first 50 games of this season.

"somewhat murky" You mean he took a supplement sold in every health store in the country that had been spiked by a company to show better results, and the ingredient he tested for was not written on the bottle he bought. THE HORROR!

A strengthened testing policy suggested by George Mitchell -- and agreed to by MLB and the MLB Players Association -- was in place, and MLB had created a no-nonsense in-house investigations unit unafraid to look into the dark corners of the game that the combination of fear, politics and denial had led the game's leadership to ignore.

Ok so the new policy is doing well....and you are writing overly dramatic nonsense.

The Phillies won the World Series, and, for the first time in a long time, a calendar year hadn't ended on a scandalous note. Life was good. The steroids era had finally been put to rest, comfortably in the rearview mirror.

Woo the game is clean again (you know like it was when it was filled drunks, racists, drug addicts, gamblers and we didn't have the huge media soapboxing), even though smarter sights like Baseball Prospectus were talking about a new frontier of drugs.

Now, in the first four-plus months of 2009, two of the game's biggest stars -- Alex Rodriguez and Ramirez -- have fallen harder than Enron,

You do know that the proven timeline for A-Rod was comfortably in your "steroids era" right? So it is a little silly to lump it in after talking about the new policy.

and baseball is finding out the hard way what the Olympics have long known: There is no end to the steroids era, only the beginning of a new, permanent age in which sophisticated drugs and high technology are part of the game's ethical discussions.

Right like I said, intelligent people have known this for a while. Highly competetive athletes with millions of dollars on the line will take what ever edge they can get. It is seriously not rocket science.

With Rodriguez, the old argument could have applied. His name had been leaked from the anonymous survey testing link back in 2003, supposedly the Stone Age of steroids awareness

Why do you keep spouting misinformation, and then going back and telling us it was a stupid thing to say right after I tell you it is a stupid thing to say.

But Ramirez represents an entirely different entity. He clearly had been using banned substances as late as this year, suggesting the colossal arrogance (if not stupidity) that players -- even at the level of Ramirez -- still believe they can beat the system.

I would bet a lot of players are beating the system.

Ramirez has proved that the use of performance-enhancing drugs is not a "yesterday" issue but a "today" one.

Right, we already talked about this.

And Bud Selig wins the Pyrrhic battle of the day. He has the satisfaction of knowing that his drug-testing program is not just a showpiece and that he has put his money where his mouth is. He promised no player would be spared under his tough new guidelines, and he proved he was willing to take down one of his biggest stars

See this is a good thing. You finally have me hooked in especially with your fancy words. I am totally with you!

But that victory must go with the salty disappointment of knowing that his players were using and are still using because no one wants to be the only guy on the field who isn't getting extra help. Baseball labor chief Rob Manfred once told me, "The goal isn't to catch players. The goal is to get them to stop using."

See then you just blew it. You know why? Because I saw you on television talking about how stupid and putrid Manny is. How he shamed the game, and villifying him to no end. The goal of the media is obviously to catch players, report it and get on their high horse for as long as possible.

I don't really know what the whole point of this story was. I guess it was to tell us there is still steroids in baseball. Thanks, I guess. A little reasoning would have made that clear. Roger Goodell should thank his lucky stars that the Howard Bryants, and Bill Plashkes, and Jayso Starks of the world write primarily about baseball.


Predictions running amuck

This is where I post random predictions about baseball this year and then check back after the season to see how ridiculous I look.

Cliff Lee is a huge regression candidate, he will not win 17 games.

Hanley Ramirez goes 40/30.

C.C. Sabathia's ERA will go up almost a whole point, but he will be just as good of a pitcher, it will be because of playing in a division full of good lineups.

Derek Lowe will be the best free agent signing of the off season. Pudge will be the worst.

B.J. Upton will hit 25 HR. Justin will hit 30.

The Rangers will be in contention and trade Taylor Teagarden for pitching help near the deadline.

Kelly Shoppach will be better than Victor Martinez.

Derek Jeter's BA will be below .280.

Dice-K's ERA will go up more than a point. Beckett's will fall.

Cameron Maybin and Travis Snider win the ROY awards.

Miguel Cabrera leads the AL in HR again. Ryan Howard does the same in the NL. However the MVP trophies go to Mark Teix, and David Wright.


Fidel Castro Loves Sabermetrics