Wow, what a weekend. Since we've written like 10,000 words, let's not waste any more time.
From the "7-Up Stinks Studios" here we go...
A Lake of disappointment
OK, raise your hand if you had Phil Jackson's Hall of Fame career ending with a Mavericks' four-game sweep and a code-red meltdown by Jackson's Lakers. Wow - and here's saying that Andrew Bynum misses the first 20 games next year for his bush league showing in the fourth quarter (click here for video). Bynum unloaded a cheap shot on J.J. Barea after the game was well-decided, and if the flagrant foul wasn't enough, Bynum completed the complete-jerk routine by storming off the court (which means it was more than frustration, it was premeditated) and taking his jersey off about halfway to the locker room. Hey Andrew, Dennis Rodman is in the Hall of Fame for rebounding and defense - not for his maturity or his grace; try emulating more of the former than the latter, huh? (As for Bynum's looming suspension, well, there are several mitigating factors: this summer's labor struggle; Bynum's injury history and the fact that he's all-but-certain to be on the injured reserve to start the next season - whenever it is; Bynum is a likely candidate to be traded in the coming months, days or even hours.)
That said, Jackson's almost assured exit and the Lakers implosion dominated what was an awesome weekend in NBA playoff action. Let's try to wrap it up with a top-five in 10 words or less (yes, the soon-to-be copyrighted 5-in-10 by the 5-at-10):
- Rondo's got heart: If Celtics advance, Rondo's return Saturday will be Boston legend.
- Hey, you know Kevin Durant's on your team, right? Russell Westbrook can play, but Durant needs more touches late.
- Everyone knew Zach Randolph was the second-coming of Moses Malone: Z-Bo went 20-20 as Grizzlies keep impressing.
- Dirk and a Dynamite Dozen in Dallas: Nowitzki finally has lots of help - reserves scored 81 Sunday.
- Bulls-Hawks is anyone's series: D-Rose has no help; Hawks can be bad or great.
Baseball back to pitchers
In the last six days, there have been eight complete-game shutouts and two no-hiters.
Wonder what has caused the pitchers to return to dominance? The 5-at-0 is sure it has nothing to do with the crack down on PEDs. Surely not.
Anyhoo, your Atlanta Braves are among those pitching staffs that have reached out and grabbed opposing's hitters by the head. Highlighted by Tim Hudson's one-hitter last week and Derek Lowe's flirtation with a no-no Friday night in Philly, the Braves have hit their stride.
Winners of seven of their last eight (Hey, Jair Jurrjens, welcome back amigo), Atlanta has improved to 20-16, just 3 1/2 games back of the Phillies, who have the best record in the NL.
Know this: If these Braves average 4.5 runs per game, go ahead and book your postseason tickets. The starters are impressive 1 through 5 (Hey, Brandon Beachy, welcome to the
show kid) and closer Craig Kimbrel is boss. Seriously, that kid has electric stuff - if you're touching 98-99 on the radar gun and then can flip that frisbee slider up there for strikes, well,
good night folks.
Animal Kingdom won Saturday's Kentucky Derby, which actually was the best 2:02 in sports.
None of our entries had the winner, but in the true spirit of each 5-at-10 challenge, we had a winner at picking the loser.
Way to go CelticVol, who correctly picked Comma to the Top as the Last-In. We're digging through the prize drawer to see what we have in way of compensation , C-Vol, but there will be something. And it will more than likely pale in comparison to the ultimate pride and satisifaction of prevailing in something as rigorous and demanding as the "Derby Drama First-In,
Last-in Challenge." Well, unless we land Braves tickets, and those are boss.
Anyhoo, with the Derby in the rearview mirrow, that brings us to two strange facts in sports.
On a fan-interest level, is there another event that so dominates its sport like the Derby. For most of the world, horse racing is the Derby and vice versa. Maybe the Tour de France? Maybe the Olympics for some swimming/gymnastics/runnng events?
That said, is there an event in any sport that is more dependant on another event than the Belmont Stakes? If Animal Kingdom wins at the Preakness in a couple of weeks and has a
shot at the triple crown, the Belmont becomes a huge deal, If any other horse wins the Preakness, then the Belmont will be all-but ignored and could be televised on ESPN the
Ocho. (Now if Pepper and Cotton are calling the ace, we'll definitely be watching.)
Not the Derby, but racing and horse play nonetheless
Hey, gang, if NASCAR was going to go anymore old school, there would Plymouths in the field and they'd be re-filling with regular gasoline.
Tempers and racing were running hot Saturday night at Darlington, and while Regan Smith captured his first Sprint Cup win, the storylines that have emerged in this NASCAR season have hooked the 5-at-10. They've sucked us back in.
And the reason is simple - the emotion is back in NASCAR. The hubbub about the Car of Tomorrow and the public appearances and the NASCAR power brokers that worried more about pleasing people and attracting new fans more familiar with the stock market than stock cars have passed.
This was about winning again, and the emotion that goes into NASCAR is contagious. In truth that's what we want from sports - emotion and feeling and passion. That's why we love the
playoffs, because the pressure increases the drama which increases the emotion.
And NASCAR is flush with emotion right now. Be it Juan Pablo Montoya and Ryan Newman getting into an altercation or Kurt Busch and Kevin Harvick laying the groundwork for a big-time fued (click here for video) among legit big-time Big-Timers in NASCAR or even Smith's tears of joy after winning at one of NASCAR's most history-rich venues.
Sonoco fuels the race cars; passion fuels the race fans - and NASCAR is flush with both right now. (Side note: Did you see how Harvick handled his post-race interview after his on-track exchange with Busch and after being called into NASCAR's principal's office? It was exactly how Dale Earnhardt would have handled it - minus the bushy mustache of course.)
This and that
- Manny Pacquiao manhandled Shane Mosely on Saturday night. Pacquiao is a gifted fighter with great hand speed that ranks among the all-time greats, and he has earned the title of world's best pound-for-pound boxer. But whipping 38-year-old Mosely is well and good, and it's impossible to blame Pacquiao for hiting his prime in arguably the biggest boxing vacuum ever, but it's impossible to ignore that boxing is just bad right now. Want to know how bad boxing is: a 48-year-old Evander Holyfield beat some Dutchman with a 10th-round TKO before a sold-out crowd of 2,100 in Copenhagen, Denmark.
- OK, things are getting crazy at Ohio State. The Columbus Dispatch looked into car sales for roughly 50 people either directly or indirectly involved with THE Ohio State University football program, including Terrelle Pryor's mom. Let's just say that paperwork for at least one player had a list price for a 2009 Dodge as $0, but it's OK because the player said he was still making payments. (If the price is $0 and it's financed over 48 months at 4.8 percent, let's see the payments would be... carry the 4.... divide by 12.... yep that would be $0 a month.OK.) Also of note, the salesman who handled a large number of the deals at two dealerships frequently was on a pass list for OSU athletic events. There could be a completely logical and above-board explanation for this - seriously - but it does not look good, especially considering Jim Tressel's recent struggles with integrity
- Speaking of Tressel, there has been an additional reprimand from his failure to inform his bosses and the NCAA about violations and then his lying about knowing his players committed NCAA violations. Tressel will be forced to go to an NCAA compliance seminar. It's a five-day event... in Tampa, Fla., in June at a resort on the waterfront. Oh no, don't throw Tressel into the briar patch that his a five-day vacation in Tampa. No... Oh the humanity.
- Did Chris Bosh really say his Game 3 performance was affected by nerves? Really? Anyone still wondering which Heat player was crying after a regular-season loss? Best guesses for Kevin Garnett's trash-talk to Bosh in Game 4 tonight? (And keep it clean folks, remember we're a family-oriented-Intertube-web-based-sports column.)