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Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Long-Lost Sports Blogging

As promised, this will be a sports-related blog post. I've been saving up for a while, so there are plenty of questions to address, including:

Does it get any better than the little old Irishman Tommy Smythe analyzing Euro 2004 soccer on ESPNEWS?
Does it get any better than Bill Simmons riffing on different NBA players for Page 2?
Who are all of these guys who will be drafted by NBA teams tomorrow night?
Why are the Red Sox even considering a trade for Carlos Beltran?
And why the hell is Phil Mickelson suddenly so popular?

First, on Euro 2004, I'm wondering why it is that I detest MLS but I get into these international soccer tournaments once every few years (World Cup and Euro championships are about it for me--I don't follow the club stuff). Maybe it's the fun transnational conspiracy-theorizing that draws me in. Whatever it is, I continue to think it's a travesty this stuff isn't on US TV outside of special pre-paid packages. I walked past a bar near work on Friday afternoon and a bunch of Euro-looking folks were huddled around the television in there. Maybe I'll drop in for some of the elimination rounds.

Moving on to the NBA, Bill Simmons has been in his element yesterday and today with his annual two-parter ranking who in the league has the highest trade value. Where else will you find comments such as this one on Shawn Marion: "Have you ever noticed the disturbing parellels between his career and the declining critical acclaim for the three Matrix movies?" I also loved the suggestion that players with broken noses wear not just clear masks but Hannibal Lecter-style "schnozzaroos." I hope Simmons disregards his promises to have retired the draft-night diaries he's done in the past and writes one again this year.

Not that there's any lack of NBA news these days. I can't understand why Troy Bell of BC fame and more recently the Memphis Grizzlies bench wasn't selected by Charlotte in last night's expansion draft (I refuse to call the team the "Bobcats" and I recommend other join me in this boycott of an idiotic, self-glorifying team name for Bob Johnson's franchise; full draft details here). I also have no idea why the Clippers gave up the #2 pick to Charlotte in exchange for the #4 and a second-rounder (Charlotte gets Peja Drobjnak to boot). That #2 will probably be Dwight Howard, the Atlanta high school phenom whose "commandments" I wrote about here (a fw search engine hits have come my way looking for that). He and his family are pretty stupid if they think the NBA will even contemplate adding a cross to the league logo. Do they realize the NBA is trying to grow its fan base in China? Or that the commissioner is Jewish?

For the record, while T-Mac to Houston and Shaq to Dallas (which people say is his most likely destination) both have potential problems--McGrady's high-scoring ways clash with Van Gundy's grinding defensive style, and Shaq's beefy frame might not jive with the Mavs' running game--I like both anyway because mixing things up will be plenty exciting. And by the way, who is Steve Francis to be stating publicly he doesn't want to play in Orlando? Vancouver I sort of understand, since the team was floundering and he was just entering the league, but now that we know Francis is a good though not great player, he has no such leverage. Why wouldn't someone want to go to the Magic Kingdom?

On baseball, I agree with Eric Wilbur, writing on Boston.com yesterday, that pursuing Beltran makes no sense for the Sox. Wilbur writes the "Boston Sports Blog" there, and I can't seem to find yesterday's entry that I'm quoting from memory, which is why I think this isn't really a "blog." It's more an informal column written on a web site with information displayed around it that changes daily. The real Boston Sports Blog is upset that the Globe has lifted the name. BSB actually looks like a weblog, with dated entries going back in time as you scroll down the page, comments, etc. Even so, I like Wilbur's writing and hopefully everyone can get along despite the cyber-conflict. Anyway, Beltran is not what the Red Sox, who already have three good outfielders need. They would be wasting multiple prospects to get a guy who is a free agent at season's end anyway and wouldn't do anything to improve the team. This would be a very dumb move.

All this sporting excitement of late is so far keeping the summer dead period at bay. Usually this time of year I find myself doing things like watching golf or napping while paying a bit of attention to afternoon baseball games, but the post-NBA/NHL championships lull isn't getting me down in 2004. My current preoccupation with election-year politics and upcoming events like the Olympics suggest that any noticeable lull may not even come at all this year, thankfully.

UPDATE: Bill Simmons now has his own "Sports Guy's World" page on ESPN.com (via aaronbond, who says this page makes visiting Page 2 unnecessary; I half agree).