Ramble On Sports

Where sports, pop culture and everything else collide.

Archive for June, 2010

PAPELBLOWN!

Posted by bdowd625 on June 24, 2010

It’s probably a little unfair to pin last night’s loss to the Colorado Rockies entirely on Jonathan Papelbon, but that ninth inning was absolutely brutal. Pap gave up two BOMBS, one to Ian Stewart – which is still orbiting the earth right now – and one to Red Sox killer and gold-thong aficionado Jason Giambi. Papelbon showed he was willing to get back to his splitter and slider earlier this season, but from what I can tell, those two fateful pitches last night were fastballs right down the dick.

It was an especially difficult loss because the Sox mounted one hell of a comeback against All-World starter Ubaldo Jimenez. Daniel Nava and Darnell McDonald had huge nights to lead the Boston offense – who thought we would ever utter those words this season? – but John Lackey did his best John Burkett impression and allowed 17 more earned runs and about 36 hits. This guy sure hasn’t panned out yet and I’m not going to hold my breath waiting for it to happen. Maybe its time Krista Lackey starts showing up at the ballpark in nothing but Victoria’s Secret garments for good luck. A man can dream, can’t he?

I can’t complain this entire post, however, because the reality is that the Sox have played pretty damn good baseball during the last month. Even with last night’s loss, Boston is only 2.5 back of the Yankees and dead even with the Rays, who looked like they were going to run away with the American League East in late April. So I’m going to try to stay positive even though last night’s game was a major kick in the balls. Let’s hope everyone else out there can do the same.

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Random YouTube Video of the Day: Gerrard’s Top 10

Posted by bdowd625 on June 23, 2010

In honor of the United States and England moving on to the knockout stage of the 2010 World Cup, I’ve decided to treat all our faithful readers to a wonderful soccer video. If you have a few minutes and enjoy the sport, you simply have to watch it. Steven Gerrard – England’s team captain and one of our soccer binkies here at Ramble On – shows off his immense talent in 7 minutes of mindboggling goals. I hope England goes down in flames in the next round, but even I can appreciate Gerrard’s undeniable abilities. Enjoy.

P.S. Could that USA/Algeria game have been any more of a nailbiter? Thanks for cutting it so close, guys. Props to Landon Donovan for being in the right place at the right time to slam home the game-winner. I could have done without all his “I’ve worked hard for this” nonsense during the postgame press conference, but I suppose I can let him have his moment. Just remember that it’s a team game, Lando.

Posted in Soccer | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Ramble On Poll Question of the Day

Posted by bdowd625 on June 17, 2010

I’m going to make this real simple on everyone. Tonight is one of those rare nights in sports where a championship – an entire season, really – comes down to one game. So who do you like?

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No Perkins could spell big trouble for Boston

Posted by Bill Koch on June 16, 2010

Kendrick Perkins

Kendrick Perkins will officially be a spectator while the Boston Celtics try to take home Banner 18 at Staples Center on Thursday night against the Los Angeles Lakers.

Doc Rivers waited until today to reveal what we here at Ramble On already knew last night – that Perkins suffered a torn MCL and PCL in his right knee and won’t be available to play in Game 7 on Thursday. It was obvious for all to see when Perkins went down grabbing his right knee with 5:30 to play in the first that this wasn’t a simple sprain. The ABC guys in the broadcast booth finally got something right when they told their audience that Perkins is one of the toughest guys in the NBA and one of the last people who would flop around needlessly while waiting for medical attention. Perkins is facing surgery and several months of rehabilitation to get back to 100 percent, no small task for a guy who came out of high school badly overweight and had to work himself into the current bruiser that he is through hours on the treadmill before and after practice.

Big Baby Davis and – gulp – Rasheed Wallace will have to pick up the slack for Perkins if Boston wants to maintain its perfect 7-0 record in Game 7s of The Finals and its 11-0 record after taking a 3-2 lead in championship series. Let’s hope the two of them are better than they were during a dreadful 89-67 loss in Game 6 in which the Lakers’ reserves outscored the Celtics’ scrubs, 24-0, through the first three quarters while Los Angeles rolled out to a 25-point lead.

Mr. Man Boobs was particularly awful on Tuesday, going 0-for-7 from the field and missing all six of his 3-point attempts. Take it from us here at Ramble On, Rasheed – the reason that you seem to be wide open all the time is the same reason that you and your teammates have been leaving Ron Artest unguarded for most of the series. Everyone knows that you both shoot a terrible percentage from the field and would rather have you trying to score than getting other people involved. Big Baby doesn’t have this problem, because most of his offense comes from putbacks and hustle plays in the lane. The issue with Davis against the long Los Angeles front line is simple – he’s too short to stop Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom from having their way in the paint.

The biggest problem for Boston while trying to compensate for losing Perkins comes in the two areas where championships are won – defense and rebounding. Gasol had his best game of the series in Game 6, finishing one assist shy of a triple double, and a similar performance will spell doom for the Celtics on Thursday. In addition, the team that has won the rebounding battle has won all six games of this series – Los Angeles hammered Boston on the glass, 30-13, in the opening half of Game 6 on its way to victory. The Celtics can’t afford to have the same thing happen on Thursday, or they’ll be missing much more than Perkins going into the offseason.

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Five thoughts from Game 6 of Celtics-Lakers

Posted by Bill Koch on June 15, 2010

Kobe Bryant

Only in the NBA could a team give away a game with a chance to clinch a championship, but that’s exactly what the Boston Celtics did on Tuesday night.

The Los Angeles Lakers forced a Game 7 in the 2010 NBA Finals thanks to an 89-67 victory at Staples Center. Los Angeles was in control from start to finish and now Thursday night will determine which team will celebrate its second championship in three seasons. The Lakers were never threatened and have a chance to benefit from the home court advantage that they worked all season to get by stealing the final two games of the series and becoming the first team to beat Boston in 12 tries after the Celtics gained a 3-2 lead in The Finals. Let’s go to our five thoughts to see how the NBA season has been stretched to its limit.

— Los Angeles didn’t take very long to show how desperate it was to force a deciding game. The Lakers were diving for loose balls, hammering Boston on the glass and suffocating the Celtics on the defensive end. Los Angeles enjoyed a 30-13 advantage on the boards in the first half and set the tone thanks to diving efforts by Jordan Farmar, Derek Fisher and Lamar Odom, noteworthy because Mr. Khloe Kardashian is usually at the front of the line when someone is about to call the Lakers soft. Boston shot a dreadful 33.3 percent from the field after making 56 percent of its shots while winning Game 5.

— Boston could be about to pay the price for its casual approach to the final 54 games of the regular season. All of those losses to the Knicks, Nets and the rest of the league’s bottom feeders that led to a 27-27 finish might be about to bite the Celtics in the ass now that they have to try to win a Game 7 on the road. It’s amazing to think that Boston would even have the balls to go so far as to give away a game in The Finals, but nothing that the Celtics did in Game 6 would suggest otherwise.

— Losing Kendrick Perkins could be a killer blow for Boston’s title chances. Andrew Bynum leaped over Perkins’ back with 5:30 left in the first quarter and the Celtics’ center crashed to the floor clutching his right knee. Our guess? We’ve seen the last of Perkins for at least nine months – we’ll bet he sustained a serious knee injury and won’t be available for Game 7. Perkins does most of the dirty work in the paint and played effective defense against Pau Gasol in each of the last three games, helping Boston to a pair of wins. Gasol capitalized with Perkins out of the lineup by finishing just one assist short of a triple-double in 41 minutes, piling up 17 points, a game-high 13 rebounds and nine assists in Game 6, and the Celtics will need to make a significant adjustment to prevent Gasol from running wild in Game 7.

— The Lakers’ bench completely embarrassed the Celtics in this one. Los Angeles held a 24-0 advantage over Boston’s reserves through the first three quarters while the Lakers were building a 76-51 lead, a total collapse by Big Baby Davis, Rasheed Wallace and the rest of Boston’s backups. Farmar and Shannon Brown played with great energy, minimizing Fisher’s early foul trouble, and Odom chipped in eight points and 10 rebounds in 29 minutes.

— Los Angeles would have taken this situation if you had offered it to them at the start of the series. The Lakers improved to 30-4 in home playoff games since 2008 with their win on Tuesday, including a 10-1 mark this season. Boston owns two of those victories – its miraculous Game 4 comeback in 2008 and its win in Game 2 this year thanks to Ray Allen’s magical shooting night. The Celtics will need to do it again to raise Banner 18 to the rafters at The Fake Garden and improve to 10-2 all-time against Los Angeles in The Finals.

Posted in Basketball | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Five thoughts from Game 5 of Celtics-Lakers

Posted by Bill Koch on June 15, 2010

Paul Pierce

What better way to prepare for a chance to clinch the NBA Finals than thinking about how the Boston Celtics arrived at this point in the first place?

Boston’s 92-86 win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday night at The Fake Garden put the Celtics one victory from Banner 18, their second title in three years and eternal damnation of Kobe Bryant’s place in NBA history. Think back to that night while you watch the action unfold in Game 6 with these thoughts in mind:

— Wedding season robbed me of the chance to view this game live, but all you need to know is how I felt when I heard Boston was up by 10 points midway through the fourth quarter. I didn’t feel any urge to check and see if the Celtics would hang on down the stretch – I already knew that they would. Boston’s ability to close out games with the lead and Los Angeles’ toothless displays in the fourth quarter have defined this series.

— Rajon Rondo is one bad little dude, and it has nothing to do with how well he’s played this postseason. Introducing Ron Artest to the basket stanchion in the second quarter after his hard foul on Kevin Garnett and drawing a technical foul was the perfect incident to highlight what sets these two teams apart. Here’s Rondo, the smallest player on the court for the Celtics, defending his teammates and sending Artest, the Queens-bred alleged tough guy who was brought in during the offseason to give Los Angeles some grit, to the ground with one well-timed shove. Rondo’s message was clear – ‘F*** you, Ron, and f*** your teammates while you’re at it. We’re in charge here.’ It’s that same attitude that carried the Celtics to victory over the softer Lakers in the 2008 Finals.

— Boston scored 46 points in the paint on its way to shooting 56 percent in Game 5, a sure sign that the Lakers lacked both the will and the skill to clamp down on the defensive end. Los Angeles relied too much on Kobe Bryant at the offensive end while the Celtics dished out 21 assists on 40 field goals. It’s that team approach that clinched Banner 17 for Boston and we’ve seen it throughout this series as well.

— Paul Pierce was overdue to have a big game this series, and he delivered on Sunday night. The Truth poured in a team-high 27 points and saved the day late in the fourth quarter with a difficult catch on an inbounds play that led to Rondo’s clinching layup. Pierce led four Boston players in double figures – the Lakers had just two in Bryant and Pau Gasol.

— Let’s get back to Bryant to wrap this up. He scored 19 points in the third quarter on his way to a game-high 38. He sunk 3-pointers, fadeaways and attacked the rim. He looked like Michael Jordan did when the NBA’s greatest player poured in 63 in the old Boston Garden for the Chicago Bulls in a 1986 playoff game. Jordan and Bryant both had another thing in common in those two performances – they lost, and it’s not a coincidence. Bryant had just three rebounds and four assists in Game 5, finished at minus-6 in his 44 minutes and allowed the three players that he guarded (Rondo, Pierce and Ray Allen) to shoot 26-for-43 from the field. A word of advice, Kobe – look in the mirror next time when you ask for help on the defensive end. Losing this series will bring Bryant’s record in The Finals without Shaquille O’Neal to 1-3, placing a permanent dent in the claims that he’s a top-5 or top-10 player in league history.

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Random YouTube Video of the Day: Wally Backman gets upset

Posted by bdowd625 on June 14, 2010

UPDATE: The people who originally posted the Wally Backman video on YouTube are being idiots, so we will send you to Barstool Sports instead. Some morons just have to ruin all the fun. Carry on.

If you haven’t seen the video yet, you need to crawl out from the boulder you’re currently living under and pay attention. Backman, manager of a minor league baseball team and former second baseman for the New York Mets, absolutely lost his shit during one of his team’s recent games. Apparently Wally didn’t agree with the home plate umpire’s decision to eject one of his players. Hilarity ensues. Oh, and did I mention that Wally happened to be mic’d up for the whole fiasco? Classic.

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One win away!!!

Posted by bdowd625 on June 14, 2010

I stand here today a changed man.

The Boston Celtics are one win away from their second NBA title in the last three seasons. (Say it again with me, friends.) Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that was possible when the playoffs began back in April. Last night’s victory gave the C’s a 3-2 lead and forced the Lakers into unfamiliar territory – this is the first time they’ve trailed in a series since the postseason started. Oh baby.

Kobe Bryant had his best game of The Finals and it still wasn’t good enough, thanks to some torrid shooting by the entire Celtics team. I won’t get into too much detail because BK1015 will break this one down later, but I just have to mention that wonderful speech from Zen Master/Lord of the Office Chair Phil Jackson during a timeout in the fourth quarter. Thanks for giving the C’s bulletin board material, pal. The series ends tomorrow night in Hollywood.

Just in case you missed Jackson’s pompous-ass rant, here it is in all its glory:

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A World Cup glossary, Ramble On style

Posted by Bill Koch on June 13, 2010

World Cup

At times we feel the need to provide a public service at Ramble On to thank our loyal readers, and it’s that responsibility that’s inspiring this post today.

In case you haven’t heard by now, the 2010 World Cup is well underway in South Africa. All the advertising on ESPN and ABC might have given it away, as did this ridiculous assertion by John Harkes that the USA-England match was 10-times as important as the current NBA Finals between the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers. We think that our hearing must have been compromised by the incessant sound of vuvuzelas or that Harkes might have been in a pub somewhere with the England hooligans before the match.

Anyway, we digress. We’re here today to provide you with a small glossary of soccer terms that you might hear over the next month. The only people who would understand them in this country likely follow the action that goes on across the Atlantic from August to May, so we’ll help out those who might be new to the game.

— Howler
There’s no need for us to use words to explain this one. We’ll let England goalkeeper Robert Green and his butterfingers do the talking for us:

That is a first-class, A-1, top-of-the-list howler. Green will never be the same again. There’s nothing he can do short of starting in the final and helping England win on penalty kicks to erase this permanent stain from his résumé.

— Class
The soccer folks don’t use this word the way we typically do. Simply call to mind Steven Gerrard’s goal against the Americans on Saturday – that’s class in the soccer sense of class. In fact, most people would say that Gerrard himself is class. You get the idea.

— Shambolic
One of our favorites, and it usually describes unorganized defenders who are powerless to stop opposing strikers from finding the back of the net. Teams that are guilty of shambolic defending are destined to be tourists in South Africa and not serious contenders for advancement out of the group stages. Chile, New Zealand and The Netherlands are three likely examples.

— Simulation
Simply put, it’s diving. You’ll see plenty of instances of this, and it’s all meant to deceive the referee and cheapen the game. Just watch Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal for 90 minutes or any striker from Honduras, France, Ivory Coast, Italy or Brazil to see simulation at its best.

— Martin Tyler
His is the soothing voice that you hear as the lead play-by-play man for ESPN and ABC – enjoy it while it lasts. We’ll be back to screaming fools who don’t allow NBA or Major League Baseball games breathe before too long. For now, enjoy Tyler’s effortless command of the stage, his wealth of knowledge and his accent.

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The fall of Troy is complete

Posted by Bill Koch on June 11, 2010

Reggie Bush

We don’t really like to brag here at Ramble On, but we can see through frauds like Pete Carroll from a mile away.

It came as no surprise to us that USC was slapped with serious sanctions by the NCAA this week, most of them directed at the Trojans’ football program for violations committed on Carroll’s watch. The allegations concern improper benefits given to Reggie Bush during his time at USC, a period that coincided with the rise of Troy to the top of the college football world. The penalties are severe – a two-year postseason ban, a loss of scholarships and four years of probation that will set the Trojans back a few years in their pursuit to keep up with what could soon be a beastly Pac-10.

Carroll’s move to the Seattle Seahawks always seemed a little fishy, and we called him out on it when he decided to accept a 5-year, $35-million offer to assume total control of the team’s football operations. He clearly knew that the ax was coming from the NCAA and didn’t stick around to take the heat, gutlessly running away up the West Coast and back into the arms of certain NFL failure. Carroll was a loser with the Jets and the Patriots in the past, and he clearly hasn’t lost his touch in his first few months on the job in Seattle. His draft-day trade and subsequent release of former USC star LenDale White in the face of a drug suspension was the first of what is guaranteed to be a series of mistakes that will sink the Seahawks and Carroll’s professional reputation further into the gutter.

As for the Trojans, we couldn’t be any happier that an absolute dick like Lane Kiffin is stuck trying to clean up the mess that his former mentor made in Los Angeles. The way Kiffin stabbed his previous bosses in the back during his time with the Oakland Raiders and at the University of Tennessee isn’t going to generate Kiffin any sympathy from anybody outside of the USC fan base, and we think this is a case of justice being served all around.

Posted in Football | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »