The Mad King and The Wall

Posted: May 27, 2011 by pappychalmers in Sports in General
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With NBC’s Thursday night slate and Always Sunny and Archer done until the fall, my television viewing is dominated by a few things:

1. South Park: A show that I once compared to American foreign policy in a paper I wrote in college, and has a gift for making me double over laughing. Also, the crackbaby episode was an excellent commentary on the ridiculous amateurism rules in the NCAA. FREE ED O’BANNON FROM THE SERVITUDE OF TOYOTA!

2. NBA Playoffs: As my biography states, basketball is my religion, and the NBA Playoffs, along with March Madness and the Final Four are my High Holidays.

3. Game of Thrones: I’ve used my academic experience in Political Science in concert with my Film Studies classes to overanalyze conflict in popular culture with moving pictures (see: #1 on this list). Also, I’m a dude, and GOT has plenty of tits and gore, which always work.

The NBA does those ridiculous mashup commercials for movies, such as Cars 2 (seriously, Larry the Cable Guy as a rusty tow truck is the last thing I think of as an NBA fan), X-Men: First Class (looks dope, but the commercial makes me hate Wade and Lebron even more), and Bruckheimer’s newest con to steal America’s money Pirates of the Carribean (The best one, especially Johnny Depp reacting to Charles Barkley taking a bath).

Personally, it’s a shame that they don’t do a mashup with Game of Thrones. The experts in both arenas thirst for the past: every sportswriter and ESPN talking head still pines for the days of His Airness’ dominance. Jordan was the Mad King, using his thirst for competition to cut off the heads of anyone who got in his way. And now, everyone aspires to his throne, and each team is like the families that compete for power in westeros.

Miami Heat: The Lannisters

Lebron and Wade are doing it together, which is just wrong, like the twincest between Cersei and Jamie Lannister that produced three legally bastard sons. (That is how I will view the championships they win together, the first of which is likely to come this year.) I consider Lebron to be Jamie in this relationship because despite his amazing abilities, he has never shown himself to be dominant enough to win a championship, even with the talent surrounding him. He also looks down on the subjects of the kingdom. Bosh is the imp, who will never be as good, but still has a gift of being able to dominate. Still he will be mocked mercilessly, even if they do win, because somehow, he is the second biggest diva ofthat the Big 3 besides Lebron.      (also, peep the fat white girl Bosh was trying to get drunk on Avion tequila on Entourage)

Spoelstra is like King Robert. While Robert is drunk and therefore not as easily able to wield his power, Spoelstra is at the whim of Lebron, Wade, and Pat Riley, and any misstep in the opinion of the stars and the NBA Executive of the Year (read: no championship and bad strategy) will mean his head will roll when the offseason begins.

Chicago Bulls: The Starks

Derrick Rose is Lord Eddard “Ned” Stark. He has proven himself to be outrageously valuable to the kingdom (the NBA) as he revitalized the NBA and its third most successful franchise in its third largest market. He has the chance to repeat the success of his “father,” Michael Jordan, but like Lord Stark, he doesn’t have as many allies as he thought. Carlos Boozer, his squire, has been a loyal big man scorer, but his efforts have been neutralized so far. Luol Deng is Eddard’s brother, Benjen Stark, who takes on the toughest duties as a Ranger in the Night’s Watch in the North. Deng has taken on the main offensive threats to the Bulls and performed well: he has limited Lebron in the half-court as much as one can, after havin dealt with Danny Granger and Joe Johnson in the Bulls’ first two series of these playoffs. However, as his house becomes weak, his efforts are becoming less meaningful. Joakim Noah is Robb Stark, who must defend the his family’s castle while his father serves the king. Noah is tasked with defending the rim behind the Bulls defense, and has not had a real threat at being posterized yet. Omer Asik is like Bran because he broke his fibula  at the hands of the Heat (just as Bran broke his because he witnessed the aforementioned twincest) and won’t be walking. However, I don’t think Chris Bosh will build him a harness so he can ride a horse, mostly because Bosh seems to not be that nice. Kurt Thomas is like the Bulls’ dire wolf, who will come out and protect his teammates when necessary, but understands that he is a supporting member. And Keith Bogan is Jon Snow, the bastard. Bogans is a 3-point specialist who isn’t exactly a 3-point specialist, making him an outcast among his family and the butt of much of the Bulls’ 3 game losing streak that has them in a hole. And of course, Kyle Korver must be given a role, especially because he is sick of being told he looks like Ashton Kutcher (so would I, Kyle, so would I). Korver is Araya, the tomboy who knows how to wield a sword but is protected by her father from seeing any sort of battle when she is sent back to Winterfell from King’s Landing. Korver’s minutes should be much greater in comparison to Bogans, who is a worse shooter and offensive player. Both are equally bad at defending as well.

And this could not be complete without the voiceless coach, Tom Thibodeau. Thibs is like Ned’s wife, Catelyn, in that he plots ways to get back at the Lannisters for hurting her son. Thibs is can come up with some great schemes from the bench, but sometimes the troops he is working with are unable to execute his plans.

Dallas Mavericks: The Targaryen-Dothraki Alliance

Kevin Durant, in this case, is Viserys Targaryen, who wanted to utilize the Dothraki (beating the Mavs) to climb to the Iron Throne. However, he underestimated the attachment between his sibling, Daenerys (Nowitzki, another huge scorer who has a game like a guard), and Kahl Drogo (Jason Kidd, still a wizard of a game manager). Many have thought that of Nowitzki and Kidd because of how old they are. While Durant was magical during the year, with a deft scoring touch that gave him the League scoring title, Dirk has shown himself, like Daenerys, to have the true magic touch. She cannot be burned, and is the true dragon, like Dirk, who somehow only missed TWO free throws in that five game series and shot 56%, hitting ridiculous shots with almost no window while being guarded by Nick Collison and Serge Ibaka. Jason Terry, Shawn Marion, Peja, Tyson Chandler, Brendan Haywood, JJ Barea, and Corey Brewer (because he always looks stoned) are the loyal guard of the Kahl and Calisi (Nowitzki and Kidd). Like the Dothraki, they have waited for their opportunity to cross the Narrow Sea and take out the superpowers on the other side. They seem to have overcome their fear of water and when they get on land, they will be dangerous.

Also, Mark Cuban is Illyrio Myopatis, the dude who set up the union of Daenerys and Kahl Drogo in hopes of creating an army that would retake the Seven Kingdoms across the ocean. Cuban may see that Larry O’Brien trophy soon enough.

The Lockout: The White Walkers

I am an amateur NBA historian, but this is the best playoffs I have seen in my 17 years watching them. I saw Michael dominate, which was great, but you know the ending, which sucks), the Spurs dismantle (BOOOOOORRRIIING), and the Lakers dominate (which was boring because of how well they did it), but this year has been unreal. The Grizzlies showed themselves to be the best 8-seed in playoff history (The 1999 Knicks don’t count because they played in the lockout-shortened season). The Heat has given the country an amazing villain to complain about, and Dirk’s continued dominance surrounded by old players is compelling enough that I forget how much his dad looks like the villains from the first and third Indiana Jones movies.

But a grave threat lies beyond the season just as one lies beyond the magical ice wall in the North of the Seven Kingdoms: a lockout. The Whitewalkers reportedly haven’t existed in thousands of years, just as labor strife was claimed to be a nonissue before this year. But now, it’s looking like the opposite is true in both cases, with Billy Hunter saying this to the press, and many members of the Night’s Watch disappearing, including Benjen. This would put a damper on what would be another exciting offseason, even with the Carmelo sweepstakes ended early (Imagine if they did that with the lottery) and a pretty mediocre draft class coming out.

If the Whitewalkers did kill every subject of the Seven Kingdoms, we’d lose out on the drama. Mr. Hunter and David Stern need to work this out, or like Roger Goodell, they will realize how stupid their pontificating (Seriously? The Wall Street Journal? Maybe you should write this letter to G-5 Owners Monthly and some yachting magazine. Or the KKK’s monthly e-mail list. ROGER GOODELL IS A COMPLETE JOKE) will be when the fans get angry. I hope that both seasons don’t get spoiled, but especially the NBA because of how amazing these playoffs have been.

To get you ready to jump through a window, Justice, Adidas, Lionel Messi, crazy Argentinians that deify Lionel Messi, Derrick Rose, the haka (which makes me poop my pants, and you would to if a group of Maori were doing this in front of you) and Katy Perry’s boobs (sort of):

Ed Dechellis has stepped down as the Penn State Nittany Lions men’s basketball coach for the same position at Navy.

The move is shocking to many Penn State basketball faithful, as the program just came off its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2001.

The Pennsylvania State University is approximately three-hours from Philadelphia. The Nittany Lions have to recruit in the area to build a contending Big Ten team.

If Penn State wants to become a legitimate Big Ten contender every season, the program needs to lure a big-time coach in order to land some good Philly basketball talent.

Which brings up the case of Fran Dunphy as the next head coach of the Nittany Lions.

Dunphy is known for building and rebuilding college basketball programs in the Philadelphia area. At Penn, Dunphy complied a 310-163 record, with 10 Ivy League titles in his 17-year tenure. Fran coached the 1994 Quakers into the second round of the NCAA Tournament, after an upset of sixth-seeded Nebraska.

When Dunphy was at Penn, the program was expected to win the Ivy League and make the NCAA tournament every season.

Dunphy currently is the head coach at Temple, succeeding Big 5 legend John Chaney in 2006. He rebuilt the Owls into an Atlantic-10 power and NCAA tournament regular once again. The Owls are 110-57 under Dunphy’s reign, with four consecutive NCAA tournament appearances and three Atlantic-10 tournament championships.

Fran Dunphy is the coach Penn State needs.

The Nittany Lions have the money and resources to rebuild a program in two to three years under Dunphy’s reign. Fran will not be able to recruit players at Villanova’s level, but can sway away some of the second-tier players that choose Temple, St. Joe’s, or LaSalle.

Dunphy makes his players better from year one to year four and gets the best out of his team. Fran is an excellent defensive coach, which will fit well with Big Ten basketball.

Unfortunately for Penn State basketball, the program will need to offer Dunphy a lot of money and benefits to lure him out of Temple.

The Owls will be a top-25 team next season and are a virtual lock for the NCAA tournament. Dunphy has top players Juan Fernandez, Micheal Eric, and Ramone Moore returning and another strong recruiting class heading to Broad Street.

Temple is an Atlantic-10 powerhouse and is slowly creeping up to Villanova’s level in terms of success. A deep NCAA Tournament run (possibly next year) would transform the Owls into a national power once again.

Fran has coached and lived almost his whole life in Philly, so why would he want to head to the middle of nowhere to rebuild a basketball team he just defeated in this past year’s tournament?

Penn State should at least try to persuade him away from Broad Street in hopes of trying to build a basketball power. Dunphy has done it everywhere else he coached, so why not take his talents to Happy Valley?

Cliff Lee: Pitcher, Philadelphian

Posted: May 23, 2011 by joshgoldmanphl in Philly Sports

On December 15, 2010, Cliff Lee cemented his legacy in the city of Philadelphia. For once, after years of trade demands and ugly exits, someone actually chose us.

In 2009, the Phillies knew that without an addition to a rather bland starting rotation, they would likely leave their October hopes unfulfilled. Cole Hamels was 7-5 with a 4.42 ERA at the trade deadline that season. He was the ace, and an underwhelming one at that. After Hamels, Joe Blanton was 7-4 at the deadline while Jamie Moyer was 10-7. But both starters had ERA’s above 4 (Moyer was above 5).

Then there was J.A. Happ. The rookie southpaw had a record of 7-2 by the end of July and an ERA of 2.97. There was some high hope for Happ, but trusting a rookie in postseason baseball results in a lot more horror stories than fairy tales.

The Phillies needed an anchor to lead this pitching staff and compliment an offense that was good enough to play well into October. The Phillies needed Roy Halladay.

A former American League Cy Young Award winner, Halladay was very publicly “on the market” in 2009 as he all but packed his bags in mid-July. The Bluejays fans gave him a two-minute standing ovation as he left the mound on July 24th, or what was to be his last start at the Rogers Centre after a brilliant 12-year career in black and blue (are those their colors? I’m guessing).

He was as good as gone.

Then the unthinkable happened. The Phillies, assumed to be the favorite to land Halladay, traded for Cliff Lee with Halladay still on the market. Cliff Lee? Yeah, he won a Cy Young too. But he’s not Roy Halladay. He’s not THE MAN. We wanted THE MAN.

So Phillies fans begrudgingly accepted their new ace. His legacy, it was assumed, would be as a guy who probably helped the Phillies — but ultimately as a guy the Phillies got because they couldn’t land Halladay.

As they say, it takes a real man to admit when he’s wrong.

From day one, Cliff Lee made an impression on the city of Philadelphia that would not go unnoticed nor unappreciated. His numbers aside (he was 7-4 with a 3.39 ERA in the regular season; 4-0 with a 1.56 ERA in the postseason), Lee’s intangibles made him an instant fan favorite. It was his hustle to and from the dugout between innings. It was his cool demeanor under intense pressure. It was the pace in which he worked through innings. It was his total lack of fear on the mound. Before long, Phillies fans knew they had something special — even though his last name was five syllables short.

That’s why Phillies fans loved Cliff Lee. And boy, did they love him. But 2009 would not be his legacy, That would come from what happened next.

Surely, you know the story. The Phillies traded Cliff Lee to Seattle in an attempt to replenish a farm system now decimated by the acquisition of Halladay. Or so the Phillies say. Maybe they saw him as “unsignable” with Free Agency one year away and the Yankees poised to strike. Or maybe they thought they had enough pitching, and might as well get some young talent for a guy who might be gone after just one season. Who knows? But he left, and he made no bones about it: he wanted to stay.

Then, after a season in which he took the Texas Rangers to the World Series while the Phillies watched from home, comes December 15. It will forever be a “where were you when…” moment for Phillies fans. The night Cliff Lee said no to Texas, and more importantly said no to New York, and yes to us.

It was as if the Scott Rolen’s of the world never existed. Never was there a Curt Schilling, never a J.D. Drew. After years of being the city and team that pushed stars away, someone had just turned down more money to come play in Philadelphia.

Yeah, it meant a lot. And not just to baseball fans either. It meant a lot to all of us. Here’s proof: a billboard paid for by the city that hung above I-95 for months after Lee signed with the Phillies.

Cliff Lee may go on to win Cy Young’s in Philadelphia. He may win World Series’. But 50 years from now, he’ll be the guy that when given the option between cheesesteaks and cheesecake, boldly declared, “Whiz With.”