Category Archives: Los Angeles Lakers

I have a genetic condition

Last week, Nomar Garciaparra returned to Fenway Park for the first time since being traded away from Boston in 2003. He received a rousing and emotional standing ovation from the fans and held court with the media before the game. His demeanor with the media was jovial, open and nostalgic.

As a Boston fan it was nice to see. It’s not why I write of it though.

I write about this homecoming because of an interesting revelation Nomar made during said pre game press conference. Apparently, Nomar has a genetic condition which causes excess scar tissue to develop at the injury site and limits rehabilitation and increase the likelihood of additional injury.

!

Many have thought, mostly due to this SI Cover, that Nomar’s injuries were because of steroid use. The theory is that his muscles got too big for his tendons and started to give out on him. This news might certainly help dampen that speculation, at the very least in the Boston sports talk radio scene.

A question though, that no one seems to be asking… What if this genetic condition had been discovered before Nomar was drafted? Or before he got his first big league contract? How many other players have a similar genetic condition but have not had their careers threatened or altered drastically by injury? As a team, wouldn’t you be less likely to put good money and development into a guy who has an injury that “limits the effects of rehab” and “increases the likelihood of additional injury”.

Should these tests be made available to clubs? If I were an agent or a players union rep I would stand up and scream absolutely not. If I owned a team, or was the general manager of a team, I would argue that the clubs sink millions and millions of dollars into these players, and we deserve to know what our likely returns will be. In a league with guaranteed contracts, players with preexisting conditions could handicap a team for years and teams should have the opportunity to negotiate salary with all medical issues on the table.

Yet Nomar had 6 1/2 good/great seasons with the Red Sox. He helped the team and fan base tremendously and was arguably one of the best shortstops the team has ever had. A genetic test may have kept that from happening and I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not. Yes, Nomar’s career was altered dramatically by injury, but he’s played 13 years of Major League Baseball, 8 of them with more than 120 games. The list of players who do not have announced genetic conditions that washed out of baseball due to injuries could fill a book. Should a man’s genetics preclude him from the opportunity to succeed in the big leagues?

While I’m on the Red Sox, I came across an interesting tidbit regarding Clay Buchholz and the Roy Halladay rumor mill. Apparently, two scouts from the Blue Jays were in the stands when Clay pitched on Sunday July 12th. Incidentally, Clay Buchholz has been called up to pitch in the Red Sox first game after the all star break, to let the pitching staff settle into order. His opponent? The Toronto Blue Jays. Toronto GM JP Ricciardi has vowed to scout players on other clubs in preparation of a potential deal, so this could just be due diligence. Something to keep an eye on though. Maybe a Buchholz, Penny and prospect X deal for Halladay? I’m sure this deal would be incredibly unpopular up north but at some point these middle of the road teams have to accept they aren’t going to do it as is and cut bait. Ricciardi is a graduate from Moneyball academy and has yet to blow up the middling Blue Jays. This could be his first move in a complete youth movement dismantling of that club. Stay tuned.

I was watching President Obama’s farewell ceremony from Ghana this weekend and almost choked on my tongue when President Obama mentioned that Ghana’s president, John Evans Atta, was a member of the Ghanian National Hockey Team. A little research has disclosed that he meant field hockey (a very popular sport for men worldwide).
Just thought I’d share that little moment of hilarity. Ghana’s national Ice Hockey team? I should have known. (Cool Runnings 2 anyone?)

It’s my opinion that Ron Artest to the Lakers was without question an excellent move. I don’t think that anyone will be calling the Lakers soft anytime soon. What’s the over/under on times Artest makes Bynum or Gasol cry by the end of training camp? It will be interesting to see Ron be Kobe’s personal attack dog this season. It’s like Rodman mixed with Pippen’s skills. As a side note, Ron Artest is a prolific Twitterer. About half of his tweets are completely absurd, the other half are totally priceless. He will certainly add to the entertainment factor of the Lake show. Ariza is a strong up and coming player, but his value was inflated by an excellent post season and by playing alongside Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol. He has a career in the NBA ahead of him but Ron Artest is a proven kind of crazy. Kudos to Ariza’s agent for completely blowing any chance he had of staying with the Lakers. It’s always nice to see an agent get bitten for overestimating his players value. Between Sheed to the Celts, Shaq to the Cavs and Ron Ron in LA I’m already fired up for a new NBA season to start.

Exactly what does the mainstream media expect Brock Lesnar to say after he battles a man with his bare hands? The guy goes from being a killer ball of raging testosterone with his life in his hands to having a microphone and a thousand cameras shoved into his face. This whole WWE chatter is fricking ridiculous. MMA fans getting righteous about the purity of their sport borders on obscene. Should he quote Shakespeare next time? Perhaps a little taste of Hemingway? Give me a break people. He fights 260 pound men for a living. What exactly are you looking for. You got your blood. Don’t cry about a couple of fingers and some naughty words.

The new Domino’s pizza ad campaign makes me want to hang myself from a freeway overpass. “Yo this is Jimmy from Philly and my philly cheese steak pizza is da bomb!” “Yo this is dudebroguy from Cali and my veggie pizza is totally tubular bro” *Choking noises, air escapes from my body* Not only do they have some of the worst pizza in the civilized world, they also continue to make horrendous ads. They were the first to jump on the “bailout” buzz term, now they shamelessly pump false regional stereotypes to pander pathetic pizzas. Ick. And when did mushrooms, spinach and olives come to represent California cuisine anyway? What’s a matter Dominoes, avocados and sprouts too expensive? Tie me a rope and loop it around a sturdy pole, I’d rather order pizza from a public pool’s snack bar than eat your crap.

Game ball this week goes to Andy Roddick. In case you missed last week’s epic Wimbledon final, take notice. Andy Roddick is now in the conversation again. I’ve been watching Andy his whole career and I’ve never seen him play a better match than the one he lost last week. He was aggressive, his focus was almost eerie, his ball striking was fierce and accurate. He has got his fitness level and game to a point where he can challenge the Federer Nadal stranglehold on the sport. Federer? Well, he’s just out of this world. Aside from his running forehand, no one part of his game will blow you away. It’s the sum of his parts and consistency that puts him head and shoulders above everyone else. He refuses to lose and will not blink when the match is on the line. The guy is incredible and his success is becoming obnoxious. I anxiously await this years US open. I can’t wait to see Roddick on the home court and hope he continues to play like he did in England. Great job Andy, thanks for the match.

email me jjohnsonpro@yahoo.com

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Filed under Andy Roddick, Boston Celtics, Boston Red Sox, Brock Lesnar, Clay Buchholz, Domino's Pizza Commercials, Genetic Condition, Ghana, Los Angeles Lakers, MLB, MMA, Moneyball, NBA, Nomar Garciaparra, President Obama, Red Sox, Roger Federer, Ron Artest, Roy Halladay, Shaq, Toronto Blue Jays, twitter, US Open, Wimbledon

Is this thing on?

Sammy “I don’t speaka the english” Sosa. HE TOOK STEROIDS!

What a shock. What a surprise. What a joke.

Here’s what Sammy said when he was dragged in front of Congress. Or rather, what Sammy’s lawyer said when he was dragged in front of congress. “To be clear, I have never taken illegal performance-enhancing drugs.” For the sake of this conversation, let’s say Sammy actually wrote that and was unable to articulate it in American English.

Seems pretty clear to me, right? In fact, he even prefaced it by saying, “to be clear”
Crystal clear even. Except it’s not…

Steroids are legal in the Dominican Republic. So, by saying he has never taken “illegal” performance enhancing drugs, he was essentially saying, I took steroids in the Dominican Republic, where they are not considered illegal.

The best part is? No one cares. The media (espn) still gets all drummed up for it, they trot out Gammons and Olney to rehash “The List”, why it exists, why no one will be punished for it and what the players chances are for the hall of fame. The story shows up on the web, is featured for a day, and disappears.

The funny thing is, was there a baseball fan who hadn’t already figured out Sammy was on the roids? Seriously, show me one fan who thought Sammy played the game clean. One guy.

He was the poster boy for the steroid era. Still is, in my opinion. Bonds was potentially the best player in baseball before the drugs. Mark McGwire was a giant man from day one. He was always a home run hitter with a huge frame. Roger Clemens had won 3 Cy Young awards, struck out over 200 batters 8 times (including his 1988 campaign with 291) and won over 20 games 3 times.

Sammy Sosa? A skinny, speedy player with no home run power and zero plate discipline. His only full season before signing with the Cubs, 1990, he hit 10 triples and 15 home runs. His first full season with the Cubs he hit 33. Then 25 (in 105 games), 36, 40, 36, 66, 63, 50, 64, 49…

His eyes bugged out of his head. His neck was the size of a large man’s thigh. He had tendons and veins that bulged when he was at rest.

Barry could have hit 600 without the juice. Sammy? He could have been out of baseball by 1999.

Sammy’s thoughts on the matter?

“I will calmly wait for my induction to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Don’t I have the numbers to be inducted?”

Atta boy Sammy.

The recent flap over the payment of the Lakers Championship Parade is the kind of thing that brings out my inner Lewis Black. California is 26 BILLION DOLLARS in the red. Yet for a half of a day, CNN ran a story on their 30 minute loop about “Who’s paying for the Lakers victory parade” Complete with an appearance from city congressman “I love the media and hate Latinos
” Bernie Parks, the story was teased by the anchor twice before it’s actual running, both times acting like it was potentially some travesty that may be occurring.

Most of the parade was payed for by the Lakers and “private donors”

So it was a non story.

The Lakers presence in Los Angeles brings countless millions of dollars of “revenue” (taxes) to the city and state every year. Parking taxes, hotel taxes, income taxes, gate receipt taxes, taxes on fuel used to drive to games, taxes on meals eaten in restaurants before and after (and during) games, taxes on drinks, taxes on income derived through the advertising money spent sponsoring the Lakers and their broadcast. The list of revenue streams the Los Angeles Lakers create for their local community is long and strong.

So it’s a non story.

But the bill for the parade would have cost the city one million dollars. (I’m not sure why, it costs 20,000 dollars a day to rent the coliseum), (which the city, county and state owns), streets are free and those double decker buses are cheap. But money was spent.

And the state is 26 BILLION DOLLARS IN THE HOLE. A dozen minutes an hour were given to the state of California’s budget situation on a national news network and it was over a million bucks? That had already been covered by “private donors”? What about the other 25,999,000,000 dollars? Where is that money? Why are we not talking about the fact that Sacramento hasn’t been able to run the world’s 8th biggest economy for decades?

But Kobe has a huge Q rating. And the Lakers are sexy. And a million bucks sounds like a lot.

So it was a story.

Rafael Nadal (knee) has pulled out of Wimbledon, depriving us of a rematch from last years finals.

My guess is Stallworth’s “indefinite” suspension will be one year.

Manny Ramirez begins his minor league assignment on Tuesday.

Game ball goes to the Recording Industry Association of America. Gouging customers and artists for decades wasn’t enough. Refusing to adjust an obsolete business model wasn’t enough. Now, they have successfully sued a Minnesota woman for 1.92 million dollars. for being connected to Kazaa in 2005.

Nice job fellas. You sure showed her. You’ve financially ruined a mother of four. Must feel nice to achieve such a clear “victory” in the war against the pirates. Your families must be very proud.

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Filed under Barry Bonds, Bernard Parks, Los Angeles Lakers, Manny Ramirez, Mark McGwire, MLB, NBA, RIAA, Sammy Sosa, Sports, Stallworth, Steroids

iThink, therefore iAm

Ladies and gentlemen, Manny Ramirez! In a surprise communique with reporters, Manny broke his silence last week with the words, “(it’s) in the past and that he wanted to “move on” He also said he has no plans to publicly explain the reasons behind his 50 game suspension.

 

I can’t say I’m shocked. Manny isn’t exactly known for being open with the media, even in the best of times. We’ve been spoiled in the steroid era, there even seemed to be a PR handbook developing that Manny’s people appeared to be following.

 

Player gets caught, preferably announcing his suspension before MLB can. Player releases statement through agent, written of course by a very slippery PR guy. Statement is not surprisingly vague and quotable only in regards to mentioning the fans and starting the process of “moving forward.”

 

Player then drops off the face of the planet if possible.

 

When player returns, they give a press conference designed to A) avoid putting anything on the record that may give a federal prosecutor any ammunition for a future indictment or perjury trial, B) make sure his fans know he is very, very, very, very, VERY sorry, C) give as little information as possible regarding actual drugs used and how often.

 

If possible, said drug use should be only to return from injury and/or drug use should not actually be referred to at all.

We have seen positive tests blamed on age and youth, supplements and now fertility drugs. We get a press conference, an exclusive interview, perhaps some leaked court documents.

 

But I’ll tell you right now, we will get nothing from Manny.

 

He doesn’t need the media. Doesn’t want it, doesn’t read it, watch it, care about it. He has shut down the media for months, years even of his career. When he does speak, he borders on comedy, “I’m a bad man”, to sad, ” I didn’t rape anyone”.

 

He will return to the Dodgers, bat .490 and hit 85 home runs. If he hits a game winning home run in the playoffs he may speak to the media, but by then they’ll all be zonked on the goofy kid kool aid and just ask him things like, “Manny, how did it feel to win the series with a 600 foot bomb?”

The best part is, the Dodgers will protect him and enable him. Boras will guard him like Bruce Bowen in his prime. The Dodgers fans will cheer for him 5 times louder than any steroid chant they gave Barry. Bill Plaschke will write himself out of town screaming about it and ducking death threats but Manny Ramirez will 100% get away with it, make millions and be a hero to his teams fan base.

 

This week I overheard two Dodger fans discussing Mannygate. One of them brought up an interesting point I hadn’t considered. His suspension is actually good for the team because they can use the salary he forfeited to sign another pitcher. Makes sense to me and perfectly illustrates the current mindset of Dodger fan. The Dodger fan that screamed bloody murder at Barry for his yet unproven steroid use and would gladly chant A Roid if given the chance.

 

Awesome.

 

There seems to be a very small national debate over whether the Magic choked in game 4 or the Lakers pulled rank on them and stepped up to the challenge. To me, without the slightest doubt that game was the biggest choke job of the year. The refs gave them the game and they blew it. The Lakers played like crap most of the game and they blew it. The end of that game felt like watching a gift exchange where one person says, “here, I bought you this “and the other one says, “no, no, you didn’t have to”, and the other says, “no please take it” and the other says, “no, no, I can’t possible accept this”, and the other person says…

 

You get it. It was awkward and painful for all involved. I’ll say one thing, if Orlando can’t win that game they don’t deserve to win the series, so at least we figured that out. Congratulations to the 2009 NBA champions, the Los Angeles Lakers and the finals MVP Kobe Bryant.

 

In case anyone hasn’t noticed, David Ortiz appears to be breaking out of his slump…

The iPhone has joined the 21st century by offering copy and paste and picture messages in it’s new phone/ software upgrade.
As an iPhone owner, I’m ecstatic and angry that it’s taken this long… How dare they advance technology by two years while forcing us to wait so long for a basic function. It’s like offering a flying car without turn signals

 

I read that Stephen Strasburg is 16 feet tall and killed a bear when he was 3 years old…

The Yankee’s being 0-8 versus the Red Sox in 09 means very little to me except for two things. 1) Increased fan / owner pressure to do something shortsighted and stupid 2) Further proof that the Yankees, despite their free agent signings and the return of ARod, continue to be built to demolish poor and mediocre teams in the regular season. With the new Yankee Stadium looking like Coors field east, they seem poised for a nice run towards a loss in the divisional playoffs.

 

Meanwhile, with John Smoltz contractually obliged to pitch for the Red Sox major league team, Boston has the “problem” of 6 starting pitchers. 7 if you count an invigorated Clay Buchholz. 8 if you count Michael Bowden, who would be starting for 85% of teams in Major League Baseball. And arguably the best bullpen in baseball.

 

So there’s that.

 

Game ball (pucks) goes to the referees in the NHL. You have made the NHL playoffs a supreme product by allowing the players to decide the fate of each game. What a concept. Thank you. Name one NHL ref. I didn’t think so. Congratulations to Penguin fans, you did it the hard way, beating big D in Detroit. I can’t imagine how nerve wracking that last 6:07 was for someone deeply invested in the teams playing. I was only half heartedly rooting for the underdogs and found myself riveted. Congrats again.

David Stern, you have a serious problem and I resent every minute of it. Your officiating is a horrible joke. I’m not exactly what you’d call a conspiracy theorist but I believe you are involved. I just refuse to believe that you are that blind and that incompetent. Put your house in order, it’s embarrassing and it will cost you and your precious league money if it hasn’t already.

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Filed under David Stern, iPhone, Los Angeles Lakers, Manny Ramirez, MLB, NBA, NHL, Orlando Magic, Red Sox, Steroids, Yankees

Thinking things and things that think them

In my last blast I was unsure of wether or not I liked Chris Andersen of the Denver Nuggets. The verdict is in and I love the guy. 

From the desk of hating someone by their looks, I bring you Hedo Turkoglu. I hate that guy for no reason other than that dopey look on his face. 

Underrated? Linas Kleiza. He passes, he shoots, he takes it to the hole. All while looking like a caveman. Very impressive.

Anyone else catch Lamar Odom give the sweatiest interview on record? He looked like he just got finished a triple overtime game. 

The spelling bee has a kid in it with a mustache. 

The McDonald’s latte commercials must end. Please lord make it stop. They’ve made some pretty poor ads over the years but this one takes the cake. I understand many of our members are teenagers, but to those of you who drink coffee, here’s an excerpt from a recent attempt to get an iced coffee from McDonald’s. 

Me: Hi, Large Iced Coffee please. 
Them: What flavor? 
Me: Uhhh, coffee please. 
Them: Here you go. (hands me a white drink with 6 pumps of sugar syrup in it) 
Me: Ummm, I don’t want this. 
Them: What?! 
Me: I just want an iced coffee please, a splash of milk. No sugar at all. 
Them: Hold on (gets manager) 
Me: Hi, I’d just like a plain iced coffee please, splash of milk, no sugar. 
Manager: (looks at me like I am a frucken butthole.) Isn’t that what you have? 
Me: No ma’am, this is milk with sugar. (getting frustrated) Do you drink coffee? I mean this is not what I ordered. 
Manager: (exchanges look with employee, rolls eyes.) Takes coffee from me and tells the guy who made it that I didn’t like it. 
Guy who made it: rolls eyes 
Me: I don’t want to be a pain in the arse, but I just want my coffee to be close to what I like. 
Them: Just a moment sir. 

It took them 3 attempts to get the color of my coffee right. I was being treated like I was Osama Bin Laden by the end of the exchange. 

I get to my car and take a sip, loaded with sugar syrup. 

Here’s my point of dragging you through that painful exchange. 

MCDONALDS IS NOT A COFFEE SHOP. YOU DON’T JUST START MAKING COFFEE AND CLAIM YOU ARE A CAFE. THERE IS AN ART TO PREPARING COFFEE AND THE RETARDS YOU HIRE FOR MINIMUM WAGE AREN’T EXACTLY WHAT I CALL ARTISTS. 

All I wanted was an iced coffee, a little milk, no sugar. Imagine if I had ordered a triple shot half caf soy breve latte with 2 pumps of vanilla and shaved cinnamon. That place would have burned to the ground. 

So I will boycott. And I urge you to too. 

Glad I got that off my chest. Sorry for that. 

Was there nothing more entertaining than watch Dwight Howard push Sideshow Bob around in the 4th quarter and OT of the Lebron James V Orlando Magic game on Tuesday? I kind of like Anderson Varejao, but what on earth is he doing guarding Dwight Howard? 

A couple other things on Cleveland… Why is Wally Sz not in the game in the 4th quarter? That team needs a guy to step up and make an open 3 point shot. The fact that Lebron can score against 3-5 NBA players almost every trip down the floor in the 4th quarter and OT is amazing, but imagine if he could kick the ball out to a guy who could drain the shot? Wow. I know, Wally Sz sucks. I’m just saying, can’t they do better than what they have? Wally can hit a wide open three, right? Can anyone in the great state of Ohio whose initials aren’t LJ? Orlando can shoot 50% on jump shots and Cleveland can’t find a guy who step up and help Lebron? Really? Daniel Gibson, where are you? Paging Mark Price, please come to the Quicken Loans Arena immediately. 

Here’s a thought I’ve had watching the NBA promos. What if Shaq and Kobe had stayed together all these years? And here’s the thing; my girlfriend asked me why they didn’t stay together, and what did I say? Uhh, well they didn’t get along… After a few minutes I spit out some more thoughts, Shaq was fat and didn’t get in shape for the regular season, Kobe wanted to be the man, they couldn’t pay both of them…etc. 

But my initial reaction was the right one I think, (recap, uhhhhhhh) 

Those two could have run the league for the better part of this decade and they still couldn’t keep it together. As a Celtics fan I couldn’t be happier. As an NBA fan it just makes me shake my head. 

The NBA playoffs have been very entertaining, but has anyone else thought about how low the quality of play has been? Sure there’s been some great plays, awesome moments, but overall it has been some really sloppy basketball. 

Extremely entertaining sloppy basketball, but ugly nonetheless. 

Lebron, you’re awesome. Thank you. 

Today’s game ball goes to Carlos Zambrano. 

Wow. What an epic meltdown. You made papa (Lou Piniella) so proud when you threw that ump out of the game. Tossing the ball 350 feet was a nice touch and throwing your glove was a standard but well executed move. 

But beating the gatorade machine a half dozen times with a bat? Great call. 

A couple things on that. A) Lou’s smile, if you review the video you can see Lou’s reaction in the background when Carlos throws the home plate ump out of the game. Priceless. Tell me he hasn’t laughed out loud 3 times since that moment. B) Gatorade comes on tap? C) The two players behind the gatorade machine. Not much like seeing a couple grown men scurry away like kids. I would’ve liked to be with Michael Barrett when Carlos had his meltdown, just to see if those two share a psychic connection or something. 

Oh and Carlos, the man was safe. The Ump made a great call. 

But thanks for the memories. 

And sorry about the McDonald’s rant. 

Until next time.

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Filed under Carlos Zambrano, Los Angeles Lakers, McDonalds, NBA, Nuggets