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Monthly Archives: January 2010

Lakers lead in strong West

Last time I checked (a couple days ago), there were five winning teams in the NBA’s Eastern Conference. Five out of 15.

That same day, 12 of the 15 teams in the West had winning records.

Cleveland has the best record in the NBA. Atlanta is very good. After that, though, it’s hard to find many strong teams in the East.

The Lakers have the best record in the West. They beat another East opponent Friday, 99-91 at Philly. That victory was revenge for Jimmy Rollins’ back-breaking hit in Game 4 of the NLCS. Hahaha.

Lakers are 4-2 on their eight-game road trip, with trips to Boston and Memphis remaining. I’d be very surprised to see the Lake Show leave Boston Garden with a win Sunday.

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Today’s trivia: What do Tommy Lasorda, Mike Piazza, Kobe Bryant and Wilt Chamberlain have in common — besides earning their paychecks for teams in Los Angeles?

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I’m reading “Pistol Pete,” a book about basketball icon Pete Maravich. Always takes me longer to read non-fiction, but I’m about halfway through it and enjoying it very much.

I plan to re-read “Catcher in the Rye” sometime very soon. Ditto for “Shoeless Joe” and “The Iowa Baseball Confederacy.” It’s been 20 years since I read those books.

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Trivia answer: Tommy, Mike, Kobe and Wilt all are natives of the Philadelphia area.

 
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Posted by on January 30, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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‘The Wrestler’

A rare situation for me last night — Jill at work, Maisa at daycare and me at home.

I watched some of the Lakers’ victory over Indiana on the NBA Network. Most of the evening, though, was spent watching “The Wrestler” on DVD.

Mickey Rourke was incredible in that movie. The plot is a lot different from what I expected. It’s definitely worth watching if you haven’t seen it yet.

The Lakers, meanwhile, dominated the second half against a small Indiana lineup. Andrew Bynum had a field day around the basket.

Iowa men, ISU men and Drake men lost. UNI beat Drake, continuing its strong run through the Missouri Valley Conference.

 
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Posted by on January 28, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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Icy Hot

I was driving my car today when I heard a radio advertisement for Icy Hot. It brought back a flood of memories from high school baseball.

The only thing more popular than Icy Hot in our team’s dugout was the water cooler. Early in the season, when our arms were out of shape, I think every guy had a sore shoulder or elbow.

Someone always had a stash of Icy Hot in their bag, and every day there would be a parade of Bobcat players helping themselves.

As the season went on, the sore arms seemed to improve for most guys. Not for me, though — my shoulder was perpetually throbbing. I once asked Farley baseball legend Paul Scherrman if he experienced a lot of arm tenderness, and he looked at me like I had three heads.

“If you have a sore arm all the time,” Paul told me, “there’s something wrong with your throwing mechanics.”

I’m sure he was right. Up to that moment, I always believed I had good technique when it came to throwing a baseball. Who knows what I was doing wrong? Could have been genetics, I suppose; I think my brother Steve battled some arm issues, too.

Part of my problem, I believe, was the position I played. Catchers utilize a violent, short-arm throwing motion when attempting to throw out base runners. You throw the ball as hard as you possibly can, with the fastest possible release time, just a split-second after rising from a crouched position. It’s ergonomically insane, and I’m surprised more catchers don’t injure their arms.

I loved playing baseball and have terrific memories from the diamond, but I don’t miss having a painful shoulder all the time.

And I definitely don’t miss scooping out a handful of Icy Hot every day.

 
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Posted by on January 27, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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Ah, Sheets!

I didn’t mind seeing the Dodgers take a pass on Ben Sheets for $10 million. I think Vicente Padilla for $5 million will give us much more bang for our buck.

Sheets is a much better pitcher than Padilla, of course, when healthy. Trouble is, Sheets is rarely healthy. Let the A’s have him.

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The Lakers are 2-2 midway through an eight-game road trip. Up next for the Lake Show are Indiana, Philly, Boston and Memphis.

A 4-4 trip would be OK. A 5-3 trip would be a wild success.

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Today’s trivia: The NBA logo features a silhouette of a player driving to the basket. Who is that player?

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Anyone notice that UCLA swept its opponents last week? I didn’t think so.

Not that you care, but the Bruins are 4-3 in the Pac-10, 9-10 overall. They haven’t given me much to write about this season, but shoot, they’re only one game behind first-place Cal.

UCLA has two winnable games in the state of Oregon this week. Go Uclans!

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Trivia answer: Los Angeles Lakers icon Jerry West (aka Mr. Clutch) is the player in the NBA logo.

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One of the great mysteries of being a first-time parent is that as soon as you and baby get into a predictable routine, that routine changes dramatically.

It’s happened several times to me in the last 16 months. Just when I feel like I’m a “Maisa expert,” her behavior or favorite activities change and I’m forced to adjust my approach.

Kids really do go through a lot of phases in a short period of time. Sometimes it’s hard to keep up.

 
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Posted by on January 27, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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Cyber time decreases

I find myself spending less and less time on the Internet these days.

That’s to be expected during baseball’s offseason, I guess. But I think there’s more to it than that — I’m sort of losing my desire to explore the outer reaches of cyber space. There are 2-3 sites I check every day (L.A. Times, Dodger Thoughts, DesMoinesRegister.com) — but after that, what else would I want to see?

Unless you’re a Facebook addict, or a hard-core YouTube devotee, which sites would make a person spend all day on the Web? My Internet experience has become rather boring, and a bit overwhelming (there’s SOOOOOO much out there, that more and more I choose to explore very little of it). I can see why older Americans are generally put off by the whole idea of Web surfing. 

Seems like 2, 3, 5 years ago, I could spend hours on the ‘Net and never run out of things to do. Not anymore. It’s far easier and more enjoyable for me to read my newspapers or watch TV.

My wife said she, too, is logging fewer minutes on the Web. Granted, we’re a small sample size, but I wonder if/when society as a whole will eventually curb its online time.

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Today’s trivia: Three players have won two MLB All-Star Game most valuable player awards. Name them.

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Last night on MLB Network, “Prime 9” featured the top players of the 1980s. They had one player per position, which left some really good players off the list (Wade Boggs and Ozzie Smith, for example).

Still, it was kind of interesting to see who they picked. See how good my memory is … Dale Murphy, Rickey Henderson, Ryne Sandberg, Don Mattingly, Gary Carter, Jack Morris, Mike Schmidt, Cal Ripken. Shoot, I can’t remember the other outfielder. Andre Dawson, maybe?

They also did a “Prime 9” for top managers of all-time. I was pleased to see Walter Alston cracked the list at No. 6.

Joe Torre came in at No. 9.

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Trivia answer: The following players were named All-Star Game MVP twice: Cal Ripken (my wife’s favorite player), Steve Garvey (one of my favorite players) and Gary Carter (I’m sure he’s someone’s favorite player).

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I see in the newspaper that the Cubs have decided to remain in Mesa, Ariz., for spring training. For at least the next 25 years.

Selfishly, I wanted the Cubs to move to Florida. That would have made the Dodgers the most popular team in the Cactus League. Dodger fans will just have to settle for second-best in Cactus League attendance, I guess.

Staying in Arizona is the right thing for the Cubs to do, though. Their fans have been so loyal; it’s proper to return the loyalty. Plus, my family can continue to see the Cubs when they go down there to visit my brother.

 
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Posted by on January 26, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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Favre up to his old tricks

It was just a matter of time before Brett Favre did something stupid to lose a big game.

The attention-starved Favre threw a gigantic interception in the final minute of the fourth quarter Sunday, preventing his team from attempting a game-winning field goal. Minnesota went on to lose the NFC title game in overtime.

This is what happens when you hitch your wagon to Favre. He always wants to be the hero, and his ego often bites him in the rear.

I don’t really care that Favre blew the game. I’m not an NFL fan, and I spent most of the afternoon watching movies on the USA Network. But I have family and friends who cheer for the Vikings, so I’m disappointed for them. Minnesota still hasn’t won a Super Bowl.

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Today’s trivia: The Oakland A’s won one game in the 1988 World Series (Game 3). Who hit the game-ending home run in the ninth inning of that contest?

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Four more inches of snow in my driveway this morning. I can’t WAIT to get out there with my snowblower. Should be a lot of fun.

NOT!!!!

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Trivia answer: Steroid-fueled Mark McGwire hit the game-winning home run for Oakland in Game 3 of the 1988 World Series. Final score was 2-1.

Jay Howell served up the gopher ball and took the loss.

Rick Honeycutt (the Dodgers’ current pitching coach) was the winning pitcher.

 
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Posted by on January 25, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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Best of all time

Does a team need to win the World Series to be considered one of the best teams of all time?

It’s a fun debate as we all sit around waiting for pitchers and catchers to report to spring training next month.

I, for one, don’t think a World Series title is essential to be included in the “Best Ever” conversation.

The 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers, for example, often are mentioned as one of baseball’s best teams ever. But the 1953 Dodgers were even better — they won 105 games and lost only 49!

The 1955 team was merely 98-55, and many of the great Dodger stars were starting to show their age. Jackie Robinson, still going strong in ’53, was practically an afterthought on the ’55 team.

The difference? A World Series championship, of course. The ’53 Bums lost to the Yankees in six games. The ’55 Bums beat the Yankees in seven. Don’t get me wrong — the ’55 Dodgers were very, very, very good. They just weren’t as good as they were in ’53.

A non-Dodgers example: The 2001 Seattle Mariners won an astounding 116 games, losing just 46 times along the way. Then, facing a hot Yankees team in the ALCS, the Mariners lost in five games.

How can you not include the 2001 Mariners among the best teams in baseball history? Because they lost four games in a short series? I don’t buy it.

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Today’s trivia: How many Dodger players drove in 90+ runs in 1953?

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Maisa was a good girl at church on Saturday evening. After Mass, we ate at the parish chili supper. Three bucks a ticket — what a deal!

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Trivia answer: Five. The 1953 Dodgers’ RBI leaders were Roy Campanella (142), Duke Snider (126), Gil Hodges (122), Jackie Robinson (95) and Carl Furillo (92).

 
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Posted by on January 24, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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