Joe-Pinions: Sports

30 June 2010 – Brian Shaw Update

Posted in Basketball by txtmstrjoe on 30/06/2010

It appears that Brian Shaw and/or his representatives read my previous blog entry, since Yahoo! Sports is reporting that coach Shaw has withdrawn himself from consideration for the Cavaliers’ head coaching search.

Funnily enough, Byron Scott now seems to be the Cavs’ new top contender, according to the same Y! Sports story referenced in the preceding sentence.

Of course, I’m just kidding about coach Shaw and/or his people having come across my musings, but I can’t help but believe that they probably believe the same things as I do.  To restate them, I think that the Cleveland head coaching job is a death trap for prospective head coaches.  To me, it’s quite obviously a moribund-franchise-in-waiting.  The only angle that makes sense to me for any serious head coaching prospect to consider taking that job is as a cash grab.  As such, it’s likely to be the final coaching job any interested candidate will ever pursue, whether willingly or unwillingly.

So, what does this all ultimately mean?  I think that there are two probabilities here for coach Shaw:

  1. He may return to the Lakers as a valued assistant coach (which means Phil Jackson has communicated his intention to return next year), with the promise of being the first candidate in line when Phil eventually leaves the coaching chair behind.
  2. He may return to the Lakers as the first candidate in line for the current head coaching vacancy (which means Phil Jackson has communicated his intention to finally retire).

I think that Phil Jackson is the key, the critical first domino that needs to fall which will determine the Lakers’ short-term future.  Of all the things in the NBA that are happening right now, “will Phil Jackson come back” is the question I’m personally most interested in.

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30 June 2010 – Quick Put-backs

Posted in Basketball by txtmstrjoe on 30/06/2010

A few quick notes:

  • In a move that doesn’t surprise anyone (and one which I personally hoped for), the L.A. Lakers declined to offer Jordan Farmar a qualifying offer, making the guard an unrestricted free agent.
  • Farmar is THE ONE LAKER FROM LAST YEAR’S SQUAD WHO I WANTED OFF THE TEAM.  Now he can be someone else’s defensive liability.
  • Per many reports in the media, Farmar’s ego is bigger than everyone else’s on the team with the exception of Kobe Bryant.  There’s nothing worse than a wannabe alpha dog who is less valuable and useful than even the runt of the litter with the way he plays.
  • One reason why I grew to detest Farmar so much (and there are many, to be quite blunt about it) is that the guy reminded me of Gary Payton. “The Glove” groused and complained about playing time and the style of the Lakers’ play during his one year with the team, and he did this when the team was actually winning and was a favored championship contender!  In other words, Farmar, like Payton, put his own selfish interests in front of the team’s.  While such an attitude could perhaps be understandable when you’re a superstar at your peak (personally, I don’t like that attitude myself, but any fan of any team or any superstar athlete will forgive his/her favorite for indulging in this), it is completely unacceptable when you’re someone coming off the bench.
  • In a completely unrelated direction now, it still boggles my mind why some Lakers fans still nurse a giant hard-on for Chris Bosh.  I just don’t get it.  It’s not like the Lakers can afford him without gift-wrapping one of their own true assets if Bosh’s salary is going to fit inside the Lakers’ budget.
  • (Don’t start with the predictable and asinine “Bosh-for-Bynum” garbage, either.  Thankfully, most sensible minds, including ones who actually make the key decisions on the team, pooh-pooh this idea and expose it for the crass stupidity that it really is.)
  • In other Lakers related news, Shannon Brown will opt out of his current contract and test the free agent market, according to his agent.  It will be interesting to see if Brown will command a bigger fee in free agency than the terms of his voided contract would have paid him for next year (approximately $2.1million).
  • Still no news on whether or not Phil Jackson will return to the Lakers next season.
  • I’m sick of all the LeBron James free agency speculation and hype.  Are you?
  • Lakers’ assistant coach Brian Shaw has reportedly all but signed a contract to be the Cleveland Cavaliers’ next head coach.  If I was coach Shaw, I wouldn’t touch that job for all the money in Ohio.  The Cavaliers franchise is doomed, destined to be the front-runner in the race to become the Eastern Conference’s version of the L.A. Clippers.  In other words, once all this LeBron James hype finally dies down, the Cavaliers will revert to being just another irrelevant, doomed-to-fail-for-all-time pro basketball franchise just like the Clippers are (and always will be).

Well, that’s all I got for now.  Hope to see some comments next time!  Thanks for reading.

29 June 2010 – More Post-GP of Europe 2010 Thoughts, Random Stuff

Posted in Auto Racing, Basketball, Cycling, Formula 1 by txtmstrjoe on 29/06/2010

Here are some more thoughts on last weekend’s GP of Europe:

  • Lewis Hamilton clearly passed the safety car which was deployed in response to Mark Webber’s crash with Heikki Kovalianen.  However, I do not subscribe to Fernando Alonso and Ferrari histrionic contention that it was a case of Hamilton cheating deliberately, and the FIA stewards in charge of the GP being unfair in doling out the drive-through penalty Hamilton served.
  • For one thing, despite Hamilton’s checkered history insofar as incurring the stewards’ attention in his career so far in F1, I can give him the benefit of the doubt in this particular incident.  When you consider that he’s got Alonso in close pursuit, probable radio calls from his pit crew in his ear, and the fact that the timing of the whole incident had him racing down the pit straight just as the safety car and medical vehicle were being deployed from the pit lane, that’s a large number of things to think about on top of actually keeping his McLaren under control under racing conditions.  That’s a lot of factors to calculate in your mind all happening concurrently, and it’s easy to be overwhelmed with so much information to think about.
  • There is no question there was a transgression, but I don’t agree with Alonso and Ferrari’s insistence that it was a deliberate attempt to cheat.  I think Hamilton got confused by all that information coming at him, hesitated for a few brief moments (he lifted on the pit straight, allowing the safety car to get in front of him in the first place), and made the mistake of passing the safety car after it had crossed the 2nd blend line.
  • What’s intriguing about this whole incident is that the FIA originally had been completely unaware that Hamilton had indeed committed a rules violation; the stewards in charge of the race only became aware of the incident because Fernando Alonso complained to his team bitterly about it, and Ferrari relayed the complaint to the stewards.  While I give Alonso full marks for his knowledge of the rules (all competitors should be similarly comprehensive in their knowledge of the regulations), I believe that he is nurturing an unhealthy obsession over Hamilton.  Either that, or Alonso is still nursing a very angry grudge against McLaren.  (I don’t believe Alonso would have been so bitter about the safety car overtaking incident if it involved another driver or team altogether.  I might be wrong, but you have to admit there are grounds for my beliefs.)
  • Perhaps this is only natural, since Hamilton is the only teammate Alonso has ever had who has proven to be a match for him.  The two were contentious teammates at McLaren in 2007, when Lewis Hamilton was an F1 rookie and Alonso a new recruit into the team.  Hamilton beat Alonso in an equal car, so perhaps Fernando fears Lewis as a rival.  Also, Alonso may still be angry with McLaren because the team did not cede to his wish to grant him a guaranteed #1 driver status, a condition that Alonso is used to having in most other teams for which he has driven.  McLaren has never subscribed to the practice of officially naming one of its drivers as a #1, making it team policy to allow them to race each other as hard as possible without jeopardizing the team’s chances at scoring the most championship points.  McLaren has always believed that the issue of which driver is “#1” is settled on the track; in other words, the more successful driver in the team becomes #1 by virtue of his performances and results, not because he is nominally granted that status before the races are run.
  • One more point against the idea that Hamilton deliberately cheated by passing the safety car:  Alonso and Ferrari are mystified by why they fell so back in the race order while “respecting the rules,” to paraphrase their statements, when Hamilton did not suffer too much of a penalty by “cheating” and passing the safety car.  I disagree with this viewpoint as well.  I think that Hamilton’s drive-through penalty lost him all opportunity at challenging Sebastian Vettel for the win; 2nd place was the maximum result he could get if Vettel finished the race sans problems.  Hamilton had a lot of performance in hand, in my opinion, as shown by his torrid run of laps after the FIA notified McLaren that Lewis was being investigated for passing the safety car.  He put the hammer down and created a big-enough cushion between himself and Kamui Kobayashi so that he wouldn’t get stuck behind the slower Japanese driver in the Sauber during his drive-through penalty.  Let’s now suppose that Webber didn’t have his spectacular somersaulting crash and the safety car had never been deployed:  I think that Hamilton was just biding his time, saving his tires so that he could attack harder and close the gap to Vettel as the tire stops came into play, thereby putting himself in position to challenge for the win.  Alonso, in contrast, was pushing hard just to stay in contact with Hamilton.  What I’m trying to say is that I think there is enough evidence to suggest that Hamilton was never going to finish behind Alonso anyway  unless he hit trouble (say, he had a bad pit stop, or made a mistake on the circuit, or got balked by traffic long enough to allow Alonso to close and stay in contact).  Whether Lewis was faster than Vettel was and could overtake, however, is another argument altogether.  It’s a moot point, regardless.
  • The last few races, Ferrari has been quite vociferous in their complaints against their fellow competitors, whether it’s against McLaren (a long-time enemy since it’s a successful team with a long history, just like Ferrari is) or against the backmarkers (the slower cars and teams who happen to all be new to the category).  Things aren’t going well in Maranello, but they don’t ever acknowledge the possibility that their car simply isn’t good enough to fight against the front-running Red Bulls and McLarens.  It’s always other people’s fault that Ferrari isn’t doing well, if you were to swallow everything the team tells you.
  • Last thing about Valencia:  I think that a large part of the problem is in the rules themselves.  For some incomprehensible reason, the FIA likes to write their rules in legal-speak, which means that even the simplest contingencies are governed by regulations that are needlessly complicated.  (Again, kudos to Fernando Alonso for his apparent mastery of the rule book.)  I very strongly believe that the FIA does this deliberately so that their rules can be subject to interpretation.  This is especially true in the technical regulations; apparently, even the apparently mundane regulations governing merging behind the safety car are more muddy than they are clear.  Insofar as how the cars line up behind the safety car is concerned, in the event that there is a mistaken overtake of the safety car (obviously, this is the first time the safety car had ever been overtaken in F1, so the rules governing this contingency had never been exercised prior to the European GP 2010), the driver who overtook the safety car would simply be instructed to allow the safety car to overtake him again as soon as possible, then take his rightful position behind it.  This is the most straightforward solution to this particular question, in my opinion.  It does not penalize honest mistakes, which is all Lewis Hamilton’s violation really was.

And now, some other non-F1 items:

  • Lakers fans like me are on pins and needles right now waiting for Phil Jackson’s decision to either return to the team and coach, or to finally retire.  In my selfish heart of hearts, I want Phil to come back since I believe he gives the Lakers their best chance to defend their title again next year.  A new coach coming in may have a good shot at performing reasonably well given the quality of the team’s core, but he is also handicapped by that same advantage.  The Lakers’ success depends much on positive chemistry given the egos and personalities of the players on the team, and I fear only Phil Jackson is the only coach around who can come up with the right mix of ego massaging, instruction, and strategic direction for this group.  If a new coach is needed, this will obviously disturb the equilibrium that Phil Jackson creates for this team, and this disturbance may be enough to send the whole house tumbling down on itself.
  • LeBron James’ arrogance is astounding.
  • As June ends and July begins, I’m getting quite excited for the Tour de France.  I feel this way every year in July.
  • In my opinion, the Tour de France is the single most difficult athletic challenge that exists.  Consider these facts:  1)  The race takes place over the better part of a whole month.  The peloton is out racing almost every day every summer in France.  2)  The Tour is unmistakably dangerous partly because of the tremendous variety of terrain that the peloton has to cover.  They race up and down mountains, they race on cobblestone streets, they sometimes have raced on roads so dusty and bumpy they seem like dirt tracks.  Riders have been killed in the Tour.  3)  It takes a great degree of coordination of teamwork to win a gigantic race like the Tour de France.  The team’s ace (most teams which are run well know which of their riders gives them the best chance to win the Tour, so everyone else in the team becomes a domestique in service to the ace) cannot win without his team’s support.  This means having superior tactics (primarily in where they position themselves in the peloton) as well as performing the best in the team time trials.
  • Anyone who tells you that the Tour de France is overrated as an athletic event, and that road race cycling is not a “real” sport, is a bloody ignorant idiot who has absolutely no clue about what he/she is talking about.  It is not just riding a bike.
  • In fact, the same is true for people who say car racing isn’t athletic either.  I’d love to see what these morons can do strapped into a real racing car.  Let’s see them set competitive lap times lap after lap, racing in traffic, without stuffing the car into the barrier or the wall or into another competitor.  It’s not just “driving a car.”

After all, when was the last time someone was killed playing on the PGA Tour?

Now golf:  THERE’S a “sport” whose status and credentials as an athletic event I seriously question…

29 June 2010 – Some Quickies for Today

Posted in Auto Racing, Formula 1 by txtmstrjoe on 29/06/2010

Here are a few quick thoughts for today:

  • The F1 Grand Prix of Europe was held this past weekend in Valencia, Spain.  Sebastian Vettel won for Red Bull, leading McLaren’s British duo Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button across the line.
  • Vettel’s teammate, Aussie Mark Webber, dropped out of the race in spectacular fashion when he collided with Finn Heikki Kovailanen early in the race.  Webber was not injured despite his Red Bull RB6 being launched into the air, hitting an overhead advertising board, and somersaulting unto its nose and roll bar (the car was completely upside down), before bouncing off the circuit and landing on its wheels again and sliding into a tire barrier.
  • Here is a video of Webber’s frightening crash:  
  • In my opinion, Webber’s crash was a complete accident, albeit with Webber being primarily responsible for it.  He was following Kovalainen’s Lotus in a battle for position and simply misjudged his closing speed and his braking point.  As you can see in the video, Kovalainen was defending the inside line initially, then moved to the outside (driver’s left) as he and Webber approached the very slow 2nd gear right-hander.  Webber followed Kovalainen left, but was far too close and hit the Lotus’s right rear wheel when Kovalainen hit the brakes in his attempt to make the corner.  Kovalainen did not block illegally Michael Schumacher-style (ironically, Webber tends to indulge in similar questionable defensive tactics occasionally as well) and did not “brake-test” Webber.  Kovalainen had to brake in order to make the corner and appears to have left his braking to the absolute latest in order to do so; Webber, though, tried to brake even later and therefore caught up the Lotus in front and caused the accident.
  • Webber’s Valencia crash was not his first airborne experience in a racing car.  He was involved in this spectacular flip in the 1999 LeMans 24 Hours:
  • Webber and Kovalainen’s crash looked an awful lot like Riccardo Patrese’s collision with Gerhard Berger in the Grand Prix of Portugal in 1992:  
  • Thankfully, none of these drivers in these video clips was injured in these accidents.  This is a testament to the safety standards in F1.  While it will always be an inherently dangerous sport, F1 is undoubtedly safer than it was in the past.  The cars are stronger and are better designed to help protect the driver in case of accidents than they’ve ever been, and the circuits have to conform to very specific safety regulations before they are deemed appropriate for competition.
  • To me, the only rogue element in the mix is the driver.  Drivers are only human, after all, and can and do make mistakes.  Moreover, there are some drivers who, by their mentality and attitude, increase the chances of causing accidents because of inappropriate and excess aggressiveness.  Such drivers seem to lack the imagination required to understand that too much aggressiveness shrinks the already small margin for error.  In an activity as dangerous (and as potentially lethal) as motor racing is, you have to do everything you can to increase that margin for error, but sometimes the competitive instinct dominates too much.  Common sense and an appreciation for the dangers and consequences of mistakes and/or deliberate misdeeds have to subjugate that competitive instinct, or all the efforts to decrease the dangers in motor sports will be in vain.

Next time:  A few more thoughts on the Grand Prix of Europe, and some non-F1 items as well.

28 June 2010 – Welcome!

Posted in Uncategorized by txtmstrjoe on 28/06/2010

Welcome to Joe-Pinions:  Sports, a blog that will be purely about sports!

First, a little introduction:  I’m a HUGE sports fan.  I enjoy an eclectic list of sports, including:

These are just the sports and events that come easiest to mind.

Of course, as a sports fan, I have my favorite athletes, teams, and organizations as well.  I even have favorite sports writers!  Here is a short list of some of those favorites:

Who are YOUR favorites, whether they are athletes, coaches, sports teams, or whatever else?  What are YOUR favorite sports?

I hope this will be the first of many posts to this, my very first blog dedicated entirely to sports!  And I hope that you’ll be part of this journey I will be taking.

I look forward to going places with everyone!

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