Praise Jesus, we can finally move on!
That was my first thought when I heard the news at about 7:15 p.m. Monday in California. It’s comforting that Nuggets head coach George Karl agrees.
All sports have trade and free-agency rumors that linger way past the nation’s attention span. They are largely tolerated and I can put up with most of them in my most beloved sport, baseball. But there comes a time where everything turns into overkill. You are left to scream at your TV, “SOMEBODY JUST FREAKING DO SOMETHING ALREADY!!! Gaaaawd!” Can you tell I’m watching Napoleon Dynamite right now?
Anyway, that’s what the past month became with Carmelo Anthony.
Now, did the Knicks completely cave to the Nuggets’ demands? You bet. I love how the package of players from New York mutated seemingly every day:
“Wilson Chandler and either Raymond Felton or Danilo Gallinari, but not both, plus some draft picks.”
“OK, Chandler and Felton, but not Gallinari, got it? We’ll throw in the picks.”
“Fine! Chandler, Felton, Gallinari and some picks, but there IS NO WAY we are going to give you Timofey Mozgov. No, sir. Nuh-uh.”
Finally ending with:
“Here is Chandler. Here is Felton. Here is Gallinari. Here is Mozgov. Here are three draft picks and we’ll even toss in $3 million for giggles. Now give us Carmelo and get the hell out of our house.”
Despite all of the pageantry and creativity from Saturday’s slam dunk contest, you could argue that the best moment of the event came before a single dunk attempt. As DeMar DeRozen was preparing to take flight, TNT’s Cheryl Miller asked his coach, Darryl Dawkins, what could we expect from DeRozen:
“Well, we’re going to pull something off exciting. Nobody expects us to do a whole lot. But we just may able to rattle somebody balls.”
An Oxford-trained poet couldn’t have said it better.
Dawkins’ full-length suit looked to have taken the lives of at least 10 leopards to design. If that didn’t ooze enough elegance, his opening words certainly did the trick. “Chocolate Thunder” has a way with the English language. It’s similar to the way a baby has with a bowl of spaghetti.
Saturday night’s NBA dunk contest had many of the qualities that made the previous decade of coma-inducing showcases so forgettable, including plenty of misses and an overall lack of star power.
But who needs actual dunks when you’ve got imagination? That’s what made the 2011 edition so special. In recent years, a single personality or a single dunk has been the sole takeaway for viewers — Jason Richardson going between the legs and directly over his head in 2003, Josh Smith in 2005, Nate Robinson over the top of Spud Webb in 2006, Dwight Howard in 2008, Robinson jumping Howard in 2009.
But outside of those nice notables, the contest has become an exhibition to see who can throw down the most authoritative windmill or tomahawk. Gerald Green almost wore out the between-the-legs dunk for eternity. Last year gave us nothing extra, just a bunch of seen-it moves.
But clean dunks aren’t required to make a contest memorable; just show some thought. The dunks are actually secondary if you’ve got the props to go with them. The props make the program. It’s the setup for the dunk that everyone loves. The possibilities of what you could do with whatever that is and then slam it home make everyone stop and notice. We are all fools for buildup and original elements outside of just athleticism.
This year, the participants emphasized originality or, in the case of Serge Ibaka, being just as good as the original.
Detroit Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera experienced the most statistically successful season of his career in 2010. He surpassed his previous bests in home runs, slugging percentage and OPS. He led all of baseball in RBIs, OPS+ and offensive WAR.
He made $20 million and, as a husband and father of two, seemed to smooth over all of the domestic difficulties that came to light when the police were called to his residence in October 2009.
But everything is obviously not rosy in Cabrera’s life.
Earlier this week, I joked about a certain phrase often used by inebriated athletes and celebrities in the face of legal authority. But when Cabrera used “DYKWIA?” while being arrested Wednesday for DUI and resisting arrest without violence, he added an ominous follower.
“Do you know who I am? You don’t know anything about my problems.”
Miguel Cabrera is a rich, famous, talented, praised athlete and a family man. But he’s got a huge substance-abuse problem and needs help in dealing with his vice again.
A 28-day program, another 90-day program or more, something has to be done. Cabrera is expected to show up to Tigers spring training Saturday, but baseball shouldn’t be his first priority right now. He needs addiction rehab and psychological therapy and yes, he needs it now. Being without Cabrera would obliterate the Tigers’ hopes of a triumphant season, but this situation has to transcend wins and losses. The organization needs to look at Cabrera less like an asset, a ticket-selling, offensive powerhouse and more like a human being who is in a bad way.
Of course, as much as I talk about what the Tigers’ organization has to do, the team can only help to a certain point; Cabrera first needs to realize what he is and then openly accept the help.
I don’t have any evidence by which to gauge that statement, but it’s got to be true. Before Wednesday, Washington National Roger Bernadina was known as a reserve outfielder with some tools. He’s 26 years old and has a .670 OPS in 494 at-bats in the majors. Last season, he hit 11 home runs and stole 11 bases. He batted .246 and appeared to have the physique of your typical lanky ballplayer.
Now he’s going to be known as that guy who apparently underwent offseason surgery to have Albert Belle’s biceps (circa 1997) attached to his frame. Bernadina caught everyone’s eye when he reported to camp today and when asked about the bulk, he said he added 10 pounds of muscle during the offseason.
He must have forgotten to weigh the other arm.
This is Bernadina’s Garciaparra moment. I’m not suggesting steroids or any of that garbage in the slightest. It’s just that when you read about Bernadina adding upper-body strength and then look at that picture in the Washington Post, it’s impossible not to be thrown for a loop. The reality far surpasses expectation. You look at the new Bernadina and wonder out loud, “Where the hell did that come from?” Bernadina’s arms are basically the 2008 Tampa Bay Rays.
Mike Morse and Rick Ankiel probably stand in Bernadina’s way of earning the starting left-field gig in Washington. He may come out on the short end, but at least he is looking the part — the part of a linebacker. I figure it will work in a corner outfield spot, too.
According to my diamond-encrusted watch that Mr. Pujols is kindly displaying above, it’s noon in the Eastern Time Zone, which means the period for negotiations has expired. Albert Pujols is going rogue!
Although Pujols won’t report to Cardinals camp until Thursday, today at 12 p.m marked his self-imposed (and once-extended) deadline for his people and the Cardinals to come to terms on a nine-figure extension. With that window closed, this means Pujols doesn’t want to listen to any offers until after the season when he’s a free agent.
It also means absolutely nothing.
What happens if Cardinals General Manager John Mozeliak tries to drunk-dial Pujols’ agent, Dan Lozano, on a random day — say June 13 — and belligerently shouts, “FINE! You want 10 years and 300 million dollars or whatever?? Fine, man, you can have it. YOU CAN HAVE IT! Here, we’ll give you 15 percent of the franchise. TAKE IT ALL!! (loud cries leading to soft whimpers) I just want you back, baby.”
To which Jake Westbrook’s agent, who is unfortunately listed right below Lozano in Mozeliak’s speed dial, says, “When can we meet!?”
The point is that the only thing that can stop Pujols from signing his preferred long-term contract during this season is Pujols. If he does get that call on June 13 and if the Cardinals do surrender to his demands, I don’t think he’s going to decline the team’s advances, insisting that he needs to spend time preparing for tomorrow’s matchup against Livan Hernandez in Washington. No, Pujols will find his way back to St. Louis and re-up for a decade without a second thought.
Deadline? What deadline? I’m rich, bitch!
But for now, we are slaves to overreactions and ridiculous rumors because Albert Pujols is this much closer to becoming a free agent. The possibility of Pujols leaving St. Louis has to be discussed until America experiences a giant, collective migraine because we are stuck in the middle of that annual sports void between the Super Bowl and MLB’s opening day. The NBA is in its dog days. The NHL is … playing … games?. NASCAR’s season is in its infancy. The NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament is a month away. The Masters is about two months away. The French Open is about three months away. The World Cup is at least 26 years away.
So Pujols madness will have to carry the news cycle. Bring your sense of reality and a pair of ear plugs.
If you follow the San Diego Chargers or have a sick fondness for unremarkable wide receivers in your deep fantasy football league, you probably do.
But some of Indianapolis’ finest didn’t on Saturday morning when he asked, and that’s always a problem. Yes, Legedu Naanee played the “Do you know who I am?” card shortly before getting arrested and charged for public intoxication and resisting arrest.
Besides the fact that question is never asked these days by someone whom anyone actually knows, it’s becoming a cliché. In the past, it was a pointed comeback for a higher-up being challenged by a lowly grunt. It should be reserved for royalty. Now it is used far too often by athletes — and this thing. It’s just tired.