First of all, I hope all the mothers out there enjoyed a wonderful Mother's Day. I was fortunate enough to enjoy a wonderful morning and brunch with my parents and some close friends. I, of course, had to cut it short to race home and watch the Rockets dismantle the Lakers, but it was a great time. Seriously, the WAD Mom is the best mom in the world, which, by definition means she is better than your mom. It's a fact. Okay, fine. Your mom is great too. At any rate, as the Celtics and Magic bring a memorable sports week to a close, let's tackle 7 highlights of the week gone by:
7) I'm not ready to declare baseball dead to me, mainly because I reserve the right to get totally wrapped up in an improbable Braves playoff run, but I'm very close. While Ken Griffey, Jr. was always my favorite non-brave through my childhood and teenage years, Manny Ramirez was undoubtedly my favorite non-Brave of the past 8 years. When I moved to NYC in 2001, I knew two things for certain: 1) I was taking out enough student loans to feed an entire third world country for a significant time; and 2) I hated the Yankees (I can never explain the hatred that arose from the Yanks stealing the Braves' dynasty in the '96 Series). There wasn't much I could do about the first thing, but as for #2, I quickly learned to embrace the Boston Red Sox, as they were my best hope for avoiding the constant and intolerable Yankee bravado that surrounded me. I quickly learned that embracing the Sox, of course, meant embracing Manny.
Since 2001, I have followed Manny as closely as I've followed any baseball player, including any Brave. I've followed his highs and lows. I relished every one of his clutch hits in '04, '07, and his ridiculous closing stretch with the Dodgers last year. I relished every one of his hilarious goofs in left field. I relished his slow jog around the bases after a homerun and his dangerously slow jog after each single. Most of all, I relished the fact that this was a guy that carried himself like a big kid that truly enjoyed playing a kid's game for a living. I mean, put all the off field drama to the side, have you ever seen anybody enjoy hitting a baseball more than Manny? I haven't.
Through it all, I convinced myself that the greatest thing about Manny was that he appeared to love playing so much that he didn't really care about stats, fame, money, or any of the things that would naturally drive guys to use steroids. So, of course, I convinced myself Manny was clean. Well, suffice it to say, for the 1,789,967th time in my life, I was wrong. You know the crazy thing? I really didn't care when Bonds, Clemens, and A-Rod were exposed. I just shrugged it off as something I already knew but just didn't have the proof. With Manny, though, I was crushed. Why? I guess it's because, despite my ever waning interest in baseball, Manny gave me a reason to care about the game of my childhood. Now? I've never been so happy the NBA playoffs stretch deep into the summer and football cranks up shortly thereafter.
6) Has a player ever improved more in a shorter period of time than Glen "Big Baby" Davis has improved over the past two months? I can't think of a single guy. I mean, this guy couldn't get a shot off two months ago, and now he's hitting game winners on the road in the playoffs!!! Good job by Big Baby, and even better job by Doc in building this guy's confidence by sticking with him. These are the things that happen in great organizations.
5) The NBA must get its officiating under control. I could go on for pages pointing out the dubious and inexcusable calls we've seen in less than two rounds of this post season, but all you need to do to get the point is watch the non-call at the end of Saturday's Nuggets/Mavs game. The refs called 61 fouls during the course of the game, but they don't call the most obvious foul of the game? Were these guys running AIG?
4) Once again, can we end the Kobe or Lebron debate once and for all? Lebron is completely un-guardable, he makes his teammates better, and his teammates love him. Kobe, if not properly motivated, can be guarded (see today's 15 point performance), he rarely makes his teammates better these days, and I'll let you draw your own conclusions on whether his teammates like him. And, for all those of you that love to argue how clutch Kobe is, let me remind you that he was dreadful in the '04 Finals against the Pistons, he quit on his team in Game 5 against the Suns in '06, he was dreadful in last year's Finals, and he just threw up 15 points against a team that was playing without their best player, who happens to be a 7'6" monster that stands under the rim. In other words, Spike can make as many joints as he wants about Kobe, but his time to carry the torch as the best player in the League has come and gone, and he never fully grasped it. Lebron, on the other hand, is in the process of putting a death grip on it.
3) What is wrong with Tiger? I mean, he has played in five stroke play events since returning from major knee surgery and only has 1 win and five top 10's. This guy is done! (I really hope the sarcasm is dripping off the page).
2) Is it possible for the Rockets to advance to the Western Conference finals with Chris Rock playing point guard and Anthony Mason cutting Ron Artest's hair?
1) Most importantly of all, is Jack really going to kill Tony this week on "24"? Will he look him in the eye when he does it? If so, this will be the most cold blooded and emotional killing in cinematic history, with the possible exception of Tony suffocating Chris on "The Sopranos". For God's sake, Michael didn't even pull the trigger that killed Fredo. This could be epic television. Don't miss it.
Before signing off, here's a quick update on the WAD's attempt to make use of modern technology:
1) You can join our group on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/group.php?sid=3432e724a4f4aa1dad130413dfe84ed5&gid=61570972245&ref=search
2) Yes, I've finally given in, and you can follow the WAD on Twitter at http://twitter.com/AtlantaWAD Don't worry, you won't read anything like "going to the fridge to grab a beer" or "driving to work". I will just be using this to share random thoughts about games as they happen, as well as to let you know when new posts are up in this space. This shoudl be fun, right?