By Mike Bruu, TSB Sports Writer
1. Welcome into a pine-tar-free edition of The Numbers Game. You can look at my glove and cap all you want to, but you won’t find any foreign substances here. Not anymore at least. I will have much more on the “Glove-gate” situation that occurred Tuesday night in our nation’s capital, but first we have some pressing issues to cover first. Can the Heat win game five and earn LeBron James his first championship? Will R.A. Dickey start in the All Star Game next month for the National League in Kansas City? Lastly, will I survive all 17-18 numbers this week without cramping up and having to sit out a couple plays? All these questions and many more will be…darn it, I got one. Stupid cramp. Pass me a Gatorade and let’s talk sports.
2. My pre-Finals prediction was Miami in seven games. Although I am rooting for the Thunder and my favorite baller Kevin Durant, I just had a feeling James and Co. were finally ready to make a statement this year. And for a matchup that looked as though it could go the full seven games, it appears as though we won’t get to see another 48 minutes in OKC. The Thunder just don’t quite know what it takes to win yet, and while it is impossible to convince fans that losing can actually do more for your team than winning, OKC fans should realize that this small town juggernaut will be back in the Finals soon. Very soon. If they lose the series in five games tonight, they can look at 3-to-4 moments from these games and realize that just being more under control and smarter with the ball can turn a lose into a win.
3. While I don’t like LeBron as much as the next guy, it’s about time the guy wins one. It’s going to happen eventually, so why not just have it now? The guy has played lights out this series and has won over many fans and critics for his play in the final five minutes of games, but he still needs the ring to validate everything. And just think folks, he’ll only need seven more titles to reach his goal set back two summers ago!
4. Last week I dropped to 0-2 in my Interleague Bets this season, this time losing to my brother Alex. Because the Rays couldn’t get any Mets players out in any of the three games, I must now pay up by reading R.A. Dickey’s memoir Wherever I Wind Up. While I am about halfway through with it, I will save my thoughts and my obligated review until next week upon completion. But I must say that I have found it fascinating so far, especially in light of what the man has accomplished this season on the mound. After two straight one-hit complete games, Dickey improved to 11-1 with a 2.00 ERA. What’s even crazier is that the knuckleballer has a strikeout per 9-inning rate (SO/9) of 9.4 and a walk per 9 innings rate (BB/9) of just 1.9. The greatest knuckleballer of the 90’s and 00’s, Tim Wakefield, only averaged a SO/9 of 6.0 and a BB/9 of 3.4. While I will have much more next week on his fascinating story, the 37-year-old Dickey has made it nearly impossible for National League All Star manager Tony La Russa to not start him in K.C. next month.
5. For those who may have not gotten the pine tar reference in the first number, you may want to head over to ESPN and read a little background information on the incident. Sorry, but it would take too many numbers to fully explain. While I obviously don’t condone what Rays relieve Joel Peralta did or was trying to do with the pine tar in his glove, I firmly believe that Davey Johnson, the Nationals skipper, could have handled the situation much quieter and without a huge scene. Also, if the man played in your organization for one season and was a clubhouse favorite with the guys, why would anyone on that coaching staff feel the need to use some private information about what the guy sometimes used on the ball against him? It was OK when he was wearing your colors but it’s wrong if he’s not? Baseball has numerous unwritten rules and some can be interpreted in hundreds of different ways. But one of the biggest ones is that if anyone is trying to gain a competitive advantage on the field, you settle it between the players. If a runner on second is trying to steal the catcher’s signs to relay them to the hitter, hit their best player in the lower back and move on. If a pitcher is trying to use a foreign substance on the ball, ask the umpire to tell the opposing manager to get rid of it on his own. If nothing changes, then you can go call out the guy in front of 40,000 people. Peralta should not be vilified for his actions because I am sure there were several pitchers around the league changing their gloves early Wednesday morning. He certainly earned the suspension he will receive in the next day or two, but to call the guy a fraud for being singled out by his former organization in their home building shouldn’t make Washington feel too proud about themselves.
6. You want some new uniforms? Here’s the Charlotte Bobcats rocking their new digs for the upcoming season. If you want a little bit of humor to your day, put on a Finals game replay and watch all 48 minutes. After you are done, find a Bobcats game versus just about anybody and realize that the Thunder, Heat, and ‘Cats are all in the same league. They do say laughter is the best medicine, right?
7. Song of the Week: 808 Bendin’ – Stevie Stone FT. Tech N9ne. There are certain verses in any type of songs that can turn an average track into something out of this world. On this song, the legendary Kansas City rapper Tech N9ne used some of the most random references while changing up his flow every four lines. In fact, I caught the first reference at the very beginning that says, “My name is Aaron, I’m no fair and, your sister’s starin’, she’s in love.” For some reason I felt like I had heard something like that before in a movie, so doing a little research I found out that a similar rap is sung in the movie Lethal Weapon. When Mel Gibson meets Danny Glover’s family for the first time, the youngest daughter starts rapping, “My name is Sharon, I’m no fair and, my sister’s starin’, she’s in love, with a guy named Martin.” For an artist who made a living creating intricate rhyme schemes and over-the-top metaphors, this subtle reference is just one of the reasons why Tech is ridiculously underrated and a hip-hop genius.
8. I finally cracked down last night and watched Project X at my house. After hearing about how awesome the movie was for months and months, I have to say that it was a lot better than what I thought it would be. It’s a ridiculously stupid film with absolutely nothing positive to take away from it. It’s a really fun movie for people in my demographic to watch and enjoy when they are hanging out with their friends, but I don’t think I would watch it again. I can definitely see why cops and parents freaked out after the movie was released though. They do a pretty good job of making you believe you can get away with 1,500 people being in a residential neighborhood for a couple hours without the cops showing up. 1 out of 4 bases.
9. Want some more jerseys? How about the 1979 Tampa Bay Rays? Yes, the franchise was founded in 1998. But had they been playing in the era of the rainbow jersey and loud pants, this would have been the Rays attire. I’m ashamed to like it.
10. While the guy certainly has some interesting opinions and falls under the category of the “east coast loudmouth,” I have been spending a lot of time on Bill Simmons’ Grantland.com the past couple weeks. His collections of columnists and bloggers touch on everything from sports to pop culture, and darn near everything in between. You can kind of lose track of time on a site like his, especially when Simmons finds some very creative ways to cover sporting events and television shows. If you like some good sports and entertainment reads, check out Grantland.com. But please finish this column first you guys. There’s a 50-question quiz and an essay at the end.
11. Here’s to hoping we can all have a good laugh one day with the great Rangers TV play-by-play guy Dave Barnett about his little episode on Tuesday night. Apparently Barnett has been suffering from severe migraines recently and his confusing story in the bottom of the eighth inning may have been the result of them. Not only did he claim that the Padres had a runner on fifth base, but he also said that it was a result of Mike Adams’ botched robbery and his henchmen. While we may not know for a while what exactly caused the situation in the broadcast booth, I sincerely hope that he is in good health and spirits very soon so we can ask him how the heck he knows about Mike Adams and his botched robbery. He wasn’t supposed to know about that.
12. It is official: I will be attending Nolan Ryan Snow Monkey Night at the Ballpark in Arlington on July 1st. In fact, I will be proudly donning my ‘Snow Monkey Ambassador’ T-shirt in honor of the historic occasion. As a 4-year-long P1 of the little Ticket sports radio station, I am so excited to see 10,000 of those little snow monkey stuffed animals all around the ballpark. For some who are completely in the dark on the Rangers’ reason for this promotion, search ‘Nolan Ryan snow monkey story’ on YouTube and enjoy.
13. So once the Finals conclude and ESPN can’t talk about LeBron anymore, does Tebow Time automatically start or do they at least wait until July?
14. I really cannot wait to see Seeking a Friend For the End of the World. As a huge Steve Carell fan I will see him act in almost anything, but I’m especially pumped to see how he is in this film. I just hope it’s not one of those indie-type movies that seem appealing through the trailers, but halfway through you are wishing you had your money back. I’ll report back next week with a full summary and review.
15. Folks, it’s been an honor talking to you guys this week. I think we have a good thing going right now. Let’s just hope that…geez it happened again! Darn cramp in my leg. Beer me a Gatorade and I should be all right. Until next time, ladies and gentlemen.