Thursday, June 29, 2006

Could you close that window? I think I feel a Draft in here...

To the right are my friend Danny (playing the role of David Stern) and I, celebrating me being selected by the New York Knicks with the 61st pick overall. Seriously, though, I wouldn't have been that bad of a pick for the Knicks compared to the selection of Ronaldo Balkman at #20. I can't really even get that pissed about it cause I knew it would happen. I know Isaiah has been a good drafter, but he is in full-on sabotage mode right now. Anyways, my take on the draft:


Chicago: Tyrus Thomas will be great. The tourney was no fluke, and watch for his jumper to develop. The fact they were able to make the trade with Portland and pick up a player just to get the guy they wanted anyway is icing on the cake. Plus a black guy with cornrows from Switzerland has to be sweet.

Houston: Trading Rudy Gay for Shane Battier, despite what the analysts say, is a great move. Battier would've been the #1 pick in this shitty draft. Besides, you already have T-Mac on your team, and you can't have more than one player on your roster who doesn't care about anything. Unless you're Miami, I guess.

Portland: A little stupid with the trades, but if you end up with LaMarcus Aldridge and Brandon Roy, that can't be a bad draft.


Toronto: If you have the #1 pick in the draft and you end up with a skinny Euro who averages 10 points and 7 rebounds a game, you're brutal. They also broke my rule of never draft a player who plays with hair gel in his hair. I bet of their selections, PJ Tucker becomes more valuable to them. We'll see.

New York: What can you say? I can't wait to start cheering for Knick losses this year.

Seattle: Saer Sene, Denham Brown, Yotam Helperin. Suh-weet.


Quincy Douby, Shannon Brown, Dee Brown, PJ Tucker, Craig Smith


Andrea Bargnini, Josh Boone, Rudy Gay, Cedric Simmons


Paul Davis, James Augustine, Steve Novak, Will Blalock


Mike Gansey, Taquan Dean


Daniel Gibson, Thomas Gardner, Curtis Stinson, Darius Washington

OK that's enough bashing of guys who are way better than me at basketball. Props to the Sox for cheering Pedro, then shelling him. 11 in a row. Tomorrow it's off to Morris, Minnesota to see Chelsey and Mike tie the knot. Let's dust off the ol' dancin' shoes.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

You're still my boy, Pedro

Tonight marks the return of Pedro Martinez to Fenway Park, the first time he's pitched there since the 2004 World Series. It has been tough watching him the last year and a half in a Mets uniform, especially since he has resurrected a career that seemed to be sputtering late in that 2004 season. It was a tough situation for the Sox after that year. The money Pedro wanted, combined with his mediocre (by his standards) stats that year, made it a fairly easy decision to let him go. In retrospect, now, it doesn't seem like the right move. Granted, the National League is much easier to pitch in (see: Bronson Arroyo), but if this Pedro had shown up in 2004, he would still be in the red and white.

Boston radio stations have been calling for fans to boo Pedro tonight, and if they do, I will watch every Red Sox game on mute for the rest of my life so I wouldn't have to hear those idiots in the stands. This isn't a Johnny Damon situation. Pedro wanted more money, yes, and he probably didn't deserve it, but the Sox slapped him in the face by refusing him an extension in 2003, then giving Schilling a huge contract. Would you stick around? Plus, as Pedro himself put it, Johnny "went to the wrong uniform." Pedro did what was best for him, Johnny did what would spite the Red Sox the most. Pedro didn't turn traitor, he just signed with another team. I am firmly in the camp of keeping people around after a championship, which is why it has been tough watching guys such as Pedro, Kevin Millar, Derek Lowe, Orlando Cabrera, Bill Mueller, Dave Roberts go these last couple of years. The Sox are to blame for some of these moves, but in the other cases, the players had to do what was best for themselves.

It didn't break my heart at the time when we lost Pedro, but now, 2 years later, his loss hurts more than the others. He was the emotional catalyst for this team. Schilling and Ortiz may have taken his place as the leaders, but Pedro was the one who got everyone fired up. Before Pedro arrived, the Sox were a dull, uninspired team for the most part. Pedro had a large role in enticing both Manny and Ortiz to the team, and then lit a fire under everyone's asses all year long. Whether it was starting a bench clearing brawl against the Devil Rays in April by beaning the leadoff man, then throwing a no-hitter for the last 8 2/3 innings; telling Jorge Posada he was going to throw at his head; or throwing down a 70 year old bench coach later in that same game, Pedro didn't take shit from anybody, and installed that attitude with everyone. He was the idiot before the Sox were known as the idiots.

So to the moron Boston talk show hosts, the same ones who wanted everyone to cheer Johnny Damon, I will be giving Pedro a standing ovation tonight. Maybe I will boo you.

Friday, June 23, 2006

The tragic history of "Jim Championships"

After suffering the misery of the U.S. Open and the elation of Miami winning the finals in the span of 52 hours, I started reflecting on all the NBA Finals (and sports finals in general) that I have watched, and the lack of times that my teams have won, also known as "Jim Championships."

I started going through my teams' histories since I started following them, and it wasn't pretty.

College hoops, Kansas Jayhawks, since 1991: 0 titles, 2 heartbreaking title game losses, 2 final four losses, 4 early round exits as a high seed.

Golf, Phil Mickelson, since 1997: 3 majors, 5 2nds in majors.

NBA, New York Knicks, since 1991: 0 titles, 2 finals losses (one in a game 7), many tough losses to MJ and the Bulls.

MLB, Boston Red Sox, since 2000: really only the devestating 2003 ALCS scarred me, which was more than made up for by the greatest comeback in the history of sports in 2004. My team before that, the Cleveland Indians, had the blown game 7 in the 1997 World Series, and the 1995 World Series loss.

NFL, Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans, since 1989: 0 titles, 1 Super Bowl loss, many choke jobs in the playoffs by the Oilers.

I could count the 1993 shared national championship by the Florida St. football team, because I was diehard back then, but I no longer follow college football, so that title doesn't really mean much to me anymore.

So if you're scoring at home, that's 0-16 in college basketball with 4 heartbreakers, 3-38 in golf with 5 heartbreakers, 0-16 in the NBA with 4 heartbreakers, 1-17 in MLB with 3 heartbreakers, and 0-18 in the NFL with 4 heartbreakers. Not a good track record. Plus all 4 Jim Championships came in 2004 and after, so this was a really sorry record before then.

Then I decided to break it down even further. Not only do my teams never win, but the team I am cheering for out of the actual participants rarely wins, either. I didn't include golf in this one.

College hoops, since 1991: 6-16 (Arkansas '94, Arizona '97, UCONN '99, Michigan St. '00, UCONN '04, Florida '06)

NBA, since 1991: 2-16 (Detroit '04, Miami '06)

NFL, since 1989: 5-18 (San Francisco '94, Denver '98, New England '02, Tampa Bay '03, Pittsburgh '06)

MLB, since 1989: 3-15* (Minnesota '91, Arizona '01, Boston '04) *I would count '03 when Florida beat the Yankees, but I pretend the 2003 World Series never happened.

So there it is, a combined 16-65 (19-103 including golf.) I hereby proclaim myself most snakebitten sports fan ever. I challenge you to tally up your own and find worse. I'll be in my bedroom crying.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Just when I thought I was out, Phil pulls me back in!!!

I thought we were all done with this. Once again, my boy Phil Mickelson broke my heart. With his third straight and (fourth overall) major championship in his back pocket, he decided to revert back to Old Phil again, the Phil who decides to recreate Roy McAvoy's 18th hole at the U.S. Open just for kicks. The Phil who absolutely refuses to take his medicine and punch out to the fairway. The Phil who has me hiding my face in my hands every time he steps over a putt on the back nine at a major championship. The worst part about this one is he had it. He had it. He gave this one away with jaw-dropping stupidity. Hitting driver is bad enough. Trying a hero escape shot with a one stroke lead on the 72nd hole of the hardest tournament in golf, in arguably the hardest course in 40 years on tour, is downright stupid. To say that winning the U.S. Open has been your dream since you were a kid, then to treat that dream with such disrespect as to attempt those shots when that dream was so close to reality....

Speaking personally as a die-hard Phil fan, thank goodness that this was 2006, not 2003. At least I have the other 3 Phil majors to fall back on (once I settle down, which usually takes a few days). If it wasn't for those, this tournament would've been the worst, hands down, in a long, long line of heartbreaking losses for my teams. I have become spoiled a bit the last few years. After 9 years of watching Phil almost win majors ('99 U.S. Open, '01 PGA, '02 Open were the worst), I have had the pleasure of watching Phil break through and win not one, but three in two years. This is where Phil tricked me. I have seen countless 3 and 4 foot par putts slide by the hole on the back nine at majors, to the point where I couldn't watch Phil putt. Somewhere in 2004, however, he became a clutch player. The magical back nine at Augusta in '04. The clutch chip from deep rough to save par on the 18th at the '05 PGA. The stellar, 'I'm not giving this tournament up' back nine this year at Augusta. I was finally over my fear of Phil gagging on a tournament. I watched his short putts with only a slightly irregular heartbeat. I waited for him to stick that 5 iron on the short par 5. I waited for him to roll in the long birdie putt that sealed the win. Waited for him to hit an errant approach, then hit his bunker shot to 4 inches and grin like an idiot at his caddy. Even after his horrific drive on the 18th yesterday, I was a portrait of calm. "That's fine, that's fine" I told my dad as we enjoyed another Father's Day of U.S. Open action, our 9th in a row. "He'll punch out, stick a wedge in there, and bang in a par putt."

But after the calamity that was the next two shots, Phil didn't even have a par putt. Hell, he didn't even have a bogey putt. After his bogey chip slipped past the hole, my dad silently got up and walked to the kitchen to grab his second helping of dinner. He learned years ago to leave me be when my team blows it. He unfortunately has way too much experience in that department. And all of a sudden, it was 1999 all over again. It was 2001 all over again. It was 2002 all over again. The damn U.S. Open. Phil's nemesis. My nemesis. And suddenly his three majors didn't mean a thing to me anymore. I guess no matter how many majors he wins, Phil will always be Phil. Which is why I will enjoy another few major championship victories with Phil, but I will also share a few more gut-wrenching Sunday evenings with him too.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

"Ribs...I had ribs for lunch, that's why I'm doing this."

So Ribfest last night was a blast, except for maybe the part where my buddy Russell was arrested for public urination outside of a downtown bar. After the cops told him to get in the car, he asked them over and over again what he did wrong, instead of just getting in the car like he should have, and BAM, they hit him with resisting arrest, and it becomes 600 bucks instead of 100 to bail him out. So we scrounge up the money, send Bergman to the jail in a cab to bail him out, and then Russell and Bergman taxi it back to the bar to meet us and keep drinking, like true Grand Forksians do. The best part is that the cops roughed him up a little to get him in the car, so now he is limping around today and claiming police brutality. Gotta love the Fargo cops, better known as the Gestapo.

Please join me in celebrating my World Series victory over the Houston Astros in MVP Baseball 2005. The AL East title came down to the last day, where David Wells threw a one-hitter to clinch the division over the Yanks. Then I swept the Angels, knocked off the Bad Guys in 6 in the ALCS, and beat the 'Stros in 5 in a World Series that was much more exciting than the score indicates. All four of my wins were come from behind, late-inning victories. Pretty lame on-field celebration, though. I expected better from EA Sports. Schilling took home WS MVP honors, while Johnny Damon took home the regular season MVP in the biggest screw job since, well, last year when Papi didn't win. At least Wells won the Cy Young, but it only lessens the pain a little. In finishing 162 regular season games, the All-Star Game, and 14 playoff games, I would like to thank my tonsils, crappy North Dakota weather, and my priorities, which puts "video games" over "responsibilities."

Predictions for tonight: Dallas will win again in a near replay of game 1. Miami will start out hot, but Dallas will hang around, and a late 3rd-early 4th quarter run will seal it. Dirk goes for 27, Howard for 22 as Terry is relatively shut down. Wade will have another big game with 31, but the supporting cast will struggle and Shaq will get tired and finish with 19 and 11.

Friday, June 9, 2006

Pizzazilla Tastes Good With NBA Finals

Last night I had the pleasure of watching both the Red Sox victory over the Yankees and game 1 of the NBA finals, thanks to the dual-TV action at Danny's house. The other spectators are, from left to right: Jordan, Jenna, Bergman, Ricky's little bro Jeffrey, myself, James enjoying some soon to be world famous Pizzazillla, and Maxie.

I don't think either Dallas or Miami can take much from game 1, besides my boy Jason Terry. After the 1st, Miami couldn't do a thing right, and neither Dirk nor Josh Howard ever got it going. Contrary to what Danny says, without Terry Dallas would've lost by 15-20. The Heat have to find a way to slow him down in game 2, or they are in big trouble. You can't count on Dirk and Howard to shoot 20% ever again.

The Sox were able to avoid a sweep by putting together some good late innings. After leaving tons of runners on base the first few innings, they finally broke it open in the 6th (thanks in large part to Gay Rod trying to field a hot ground ball like a 12 year old girl.) Only down a 1/2 game now, and with Sheffield out til September, I'm feeling pretty good. Not feeling so good about the starting AL all-stars, however. 4 Yanks, 3 Sox, and Vlad Guerrero. Ortiz deserves to start, as does Cano, Jeter and probably Gay Rod, but Manny and Damon are questionable, and Varitek is a downright joke to even make it, much less start. Let's stop letting the fans screw over deserving all-stars and let the league and coaches pick the teams.

I've finally been able to make my semi-comeback to Jim's World after having my tonsils out. Golf is back, and last night I enjoyed a six-pack and a pound, my first Taco John's experience in about 3 1/2 weeks. Scheduled to come off the DL next week: Happy Joe's Pizza Buffet, Softball, Fat Albert's Atomic sub, and mayyyyybe even Noonball.

A special congrats to Horp, who made the leap from "Guy on the Couch" to official tenant of Culligan Manor. However, his stay will be a short one, as he starts polluting young minds as a middle school teacher in Phoenix in August.

Anyone wanna eat some ribs in Fargo tomorrow night?

Sunday, June 4, 2006

A Playoffs to Remember

A little disappointed that neither of the conference finals went seven games; I thought for sure that at least Dallas-Phoenix would. Phoenix made a great run this year, and even though I wanted Dallas to win, I would've loved to see another game 7. I see Miami taking home the hardware in another great series. I think the finals is going 7, which means we would get two straight years of finals going the distance, after 10 years of not seeing that happen, since Knicks-Rockets in 1994.

Me, Danny and Ricky were talking basketball the other day and made the point that for the most part, excluding the last couple of years, the NBA playoffs haven't been very exciting since our generation started watching them. Basically, we have three years' worth of Bulls' championships, where they never went seven games in the finals, never fell behind 0-2 or 1-3, and the few game 7's they had in the Eastern conference, you never felt like they were in trouble. Throughout their whole dynasty, you always knew that MJ would pull it out. When Michael retired, the Rockets won two straight championships, and did have some exciting series (Mario Elie's buzzer beaters against the Suns, finals vs. the Knicks, Hakeem wrecking David Robinson after getting screwed in the MVP vote), but then it was back to MJ and the Bulls rolling everyone. The '99 playoffs were sweet (Knicks beating the Heat with Allan Houston's shot, which was kind of the end of the best NBA rivalry of the 90's, and also the best series I've ever watched), watching my Knicks go to the finals as an 8 seed, but not a lot of people took that year seriously because of the strike, plus everyone knew the Knicks had no chance against the Spurs, making for a boring finals. Then it was the Lakers' era, winning 3 straight and basically walking through the playoffs each year (thanks for showing up, Sixers and Nets). Not much drama there, except for the conference finals against the Blazers where they made the amazing 4th quarter comeback. Finally, the last couple years have been good. The Pistons shocked the world by dismantling the Lakers in '04, we had the finals go seven games with the Pistons and Spurs last year, and even though the style of ball wasn't the most exciting, you had the undisputed two best teams playing for the title for the first time since probably '98 with the Bulls and Jazz. Then this year, where between the Lakers-Suns (maybe the best series I have ever watched between two teams I don't care about), the Wizards-Cavs, Heat-Bulls, Suns-Clips, Cavs-Pistons, Mavs-Spurs (amazing) and Mavs-Suns, you might have the most exciting playoffs since we were old enough to follow the NBA. There's no dominant team to remind you in the back of your head that no matter how great the playoffs have been, the champion is inevitable. No Bulls, no Lakers, no Spurs, just a wide-open race. Here's hoping the finals caps it all off. I'll be watching like I do every year, but this year it will be on the edge of my seat.