In what became the Year of Derrick Rose, New Orleans’ superstar point guard has beenan afterthought. Languishing on a small-market team devoid of other All-Stars, Chris Paul is grabbing attention back this postseason by keeping his seventh-seeded team incontention with the juggernaut Lakers.
Paul put up a triple-double last night in a win that leveled New Orleans series with Los Angeles at two games apiece. The game was close, but it really could have been a blowout. Paul time and again found wide-open teammates who proceeded to miss jumpers. Marco Belinelli went 3-for-11 from the field. Jarrett Jack hit only one of his six shot attempts. New Orleans shot under 30 percent from the three-point line. The Hornets still won.
Should the Lakers be legitimately worried? Probably not. Last night’s game had the feel of the Hornets just trying their best to fight off the Lakers’ tidal wave of size and interior scoring as the clock wore down. There continue to be moments when L.A. is simply unstoppable on offense when Pau Gasol gets it going in the paint. But through the first four games of this series, Chris Paul has proven to be the worst kind of matchup for Los Angeles — who have proven vulnerable to quick, penetrating point guards. And for all that Derrick Rose has accomplished this year in Chicago, Chris Paul may still stand head and shoulders above his competition.
Jason, what I’d like to see hard numbers on is, anecdotally, the explosion of “mud run” events such as Warrior Dash, Spartan Race, or the one I recently completed, Tough Mudder. Folks pay good money to jump into cold water, crawl through muddy sections of pipe and yes, be electrocuted. It even sounded insane to the great minds at Harvard Business School:
Dean had $8,200 for advertising and he blew it on a flurry of Facebook ads. It worked. The event sold 4,500 spots in five weeks. Two other events last year and two earlier this year also sold out.
This time around, the Tough Mudder at Bear Creek booked 10,000 spots months in advance.
“I was told in no uncertain terms that I would never get more than 500 people to do one of these things,” Dean said of feedback he received during a business plan competition while at Harvard. “I’m not going to pretend for one moment that I expected this sort of result.”
Lakers rookie forward Derrick Caracter was arrested and jailed in New Orleans on Sunday morning for allegedly hitting a pregnant waitress at an IHOP while intoxicated.
The New Orleans Times-Picayune reports that Caracter started “grabbing and pulling” at the waitress, and was charged with one count of battery and one count each for public intoxication and resisting arrest.
The Lakers were in New Orleans playing the Hornets in their first-round playoff series, which the Hornets evened up at two games apiece after beating LA on Sunday night. The incident happened near the Lakers’ hotel on a night there was no game.
Rajon Rondo left behind his late-season blues and returned to glorious form, pushing the Celtics to their first playoff sweep of an opponent since the early Nineties. His average stat line for the series: 42 minutes, 19 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 12 assists — numbers worthy of Magic Johnson.
Mike D’Antoni’s speedball will never win a playoff series, since a good defensive team like the Celtics will always shut it down, just like San Antonio did when they faced D’Antoni’s Phoenix Suns a few years ago. And his coaching in this series was just terrible. The Knicks did little defensively to adjust to Boston’s screens, or anything else Boston ran offensively. The Knicks defensive breakdowns were embarrassingly frequent; the Celtics scored on easy layups time and time again. D’antoni’s offensive advice in the fourth quarter of game four was basically: “quickly chuck up threes.” And how many turnovers did the Knicks have to end that game? The Knicks should look for a coach better suited to Amar’e and Carmelo’s formidable half-court skills.
[Sam] Fuld is fascinated by what the numbers tell him about the concept of clutch hitters.
“Most of the numbers out there show that there’s no such thing,” Fuld said. “And it’s crazy to think that, because I swear I’ve played with guys who just tend to come through in the clutch. And others that don’t.
“But that’s the beauty of numbers is that our minds don’t necessarily capture the whole picture accurately. Our emotions remember certain things for whatever reason, and there are certain things you don’t remember. So I think that’s the beauty of numbers. It’s fact. There’s no way around it.”
I await your comments accusing the Stanford stat geek of sucking the fun out of the game from the safety of his mother’s basement left field at Tropicana Field. ;-)
A report on MLB commissioner Bud Selig’s decision to take over the day-to-day operations of the Los Angeles Dodgers:
Joe Torre, who retired as manager of the Dodgers last fall, said Thursday he hopes Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig’s decision to take over the team from embattled owner Frank McCourt produces a healthier franchise.
“It’s obvious the organization needed to be tended to, paid attention to, and I know it wasn’t easy for the commissioner to come up with the decision that he did,” Torre said.
McCourt had already burdened the franchise with more than $457 million of debt, according to a lawyer familiar with the Dodgers’ finances, and he was having trouble securing more loans to meet the team’s expenses.
Baseball officials were said to be worried that money coming in from a potential front-loaded TV deal with Fox would be redirected to McCourt and not used for the team. Dodgers Vice Chairman Steve Soboroff, hired Tuesday, said baseball’s concerns were unjustified and Selig’s decision “irresponsible.”
I do wonder how many other pro teams are in a similar situation to the Dodgers. The Dodgers have an advantage that they consistently draw fans, but there are many teams around the pro leagues that struggle to put fans in the seats every night. You can’t put more debt on these teams if ticket, food and media revenues are maxed out.
Looks like the Dodgers will join the Expos, the Boston Bees and (briefly) the Texas Rangers as teams taken over by Major League Baseball. This whole mess with the Dodgers is bizarre, from owner Frank McCourt’s messy divorce to his more recent “secret” loan to make payroll. The Dodger faithful should have little to fear beyond this brief hiccup. They’re one of the best sports franchises in baseball with a great ballpark and a loyal fan base. I’m rooting for Mark Cuban to get a shot at them.
MADRID — Real Madrid waited 18 years to win back the Copa del Rey trophy – only to drop the cup and watch it get crushed under the wheels of a bus.
The 33-pound cup slipped from the hands of Madrid defender Sergio Ramos while atop the team bus during celebrations Thursday morning in the capital. Only hours before, the club defeated rival Barcelona in the domestic cup final in Valencia.
The front right wheel of the bus rolled over the trophy before the driver stopped.
Emergency service members gathered up the broken pieces and returned them to the bus. The trophy did not reappear at the club’s traditional celebration spot at the Plaza de Cibeles in central Madrid.
The scene is every professional baseball stadium. The home team has a runner on first base and there is one man out. The batter hits a slow, bouncing ball to the second baseman, who flips the ball to the shortstop for the force out at second base. Two outs. In turn, the shortstop guns the ball to first base. The play is close, but the batter manages to beat the throw. Up to half of the home team fans cheer.
From 1993 to 2010, the inning run expectancy index of a runner on first and one man out has been 0.555 runs, whereas the index of a runner on first and two men out is only 0.240 runs, a greater than 50% drop. In other words, the batter did nothing to help his teammates win.
Put it another way: if the batter had hit an infield fly that the second baseman caught, the result would have been the same — a runner on first with two outs — but none of those fans would have clapped.
So what’s the story?
Are these folks appreciative that the batter hustled down the line? Is the cheering just a knee-jerk reaction to seeing an umpire give the safe call?
If Chicago has been willing to believe that a cow caused the Great Chicago Fire, maybe it will buy this one: The White Sox got the idea to throw the 1919 World Series after the Cubs did the same thing one year earlier.
That’s the suggestion — more of a hint, really — from Eddie Cicotte, one of the infamous Black Sox banned from baseball after their tainted World Series against Cincinnati.
In a 1920 court deposition the Chicago History Museum recently put on its website, Cicotte said “the boys on the club” talked about how a Cub or a number of Cubs were offered $10,000 to throw the 1918 Series they lost 4-2 to the Boston Red Sox.
Of particular interest is the suspicious play of outfielder Max Flack:
In the fourth game, Flack was picked off not once, but twice. Flack turned a catchable fly ball in the sixth and final game into an error that allowed two runs to score in the Red Sox’s 2-1 win.
And there was the time Babe Ruth came to the plate for the Red Sox — a pitcher at the time, but emerging as one of the game’s best hitters — and the Cubs’ pitcher, Lefty Tyler, saw that Flack was not playing deep enough in right field.
“He waved him back and Flack just stood there,” Deveney said. “Sure enough, Babe hit one over his head” for a triple that scored two runs.
The entire Chicago History Museum post, “Court Confession of a Banished Ball Player,” may be found here.
Picking up on Dan’s earlier post about Major League Baseball assuming control over the Los Angeles Dodgers, those rather odd sounds you hear emanating from throughout the Southland are millions of champagne corks popping in celebration, as the team’s fans realize that the McCourt era is finally coming to an end. A longtime Dodger season-ticket holder e-mails, “That is the best #### news i have heard in ages.”
Alas, they lost game one by two points, on a late bucket by Ray Allen — who got open courtesy of an uncalled offensive foul by Kevin Garnett — and after losing five-time All-Star Chauncey Billups to injury earlier in the fourth quarter.
And they lost game two by three points, after losing six-time All-Star Amar’e Stoudemire to injury in the first half. Carmelo Anthony’s heroics — 42 points, 17 boards, and six assists — were wasted. Celtics fans have to love the non-call on Paul Pierce’s foul of Anthony on a baseline drive in the fourth quarter — the refs showed less restraint with 21 seconds left in game one when they called Anthony for an offensive foul against a flopping Paul Pierce away from the ball.
The Celts may win this series, but they’re done after that. They’re not going to get those parquet-floor calls in Miami.