As it became clearer and clearer that Masai Ujiri was targeted by Tim Leiweke and MLSE as the preferred General Manager of the future in Toronto, the only question remaining was whether the Nuggets would grant the Raptors permission to speak with Ujiri. Well according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, that permission has now been granted “and a meeting is expected to take place within the next 24 hours.”
Yeah yeah meta jokes are so 2011. Still, there are so many good previews floating around today that it would be pointless for me to add any more muck to the slop pile of raw speculation. But I can use my flawless reading skills to good use and point you in the direction of what’s pretty effing good.
“It’s like playing Galaga. Remember Galaga? You could nab every power-up in the game, you could clear level after level, but those aliens were going to keep munching their way toward you forever, like a typewriter ribbon that never ran out. (Remember typewriters?). Bayern is the endless loop of aliens; Dortmund is a kid who’s only got so many quarters. You can root for the kid, but be realistic.”
Jebus Murphy Phillips! The whole thing is basically as good as this, and it includes some nice Robben jokes. Actually some of the better you’ll read between now and tomorrow.
It centres around whatever Robert Lewandowski is capable of doing:
“…Bayern will almost certainly have more clear-cut goalscoring opportunities than Dortmund. If Jurgen Klopp’s side are to record an unlikely triumph, they will have to depend upon ruthlessness in the final third.
Fortunately, up front Dortmund have Robert Lewandowski – second-top goalscorer in the Bundesliga, and a striker who demonstrated his incredible goalscoring potential with a brilliant four-goal haul against Real Madrid in the semi-final first leg.”
In any case, the appraisal doesn’t look good for Dortmund. Reus and Lewandowski haven’t been linking up well recently since Goetze’s departure, which may explain a bit of their shit league record since Mario picked up his injury.
Sometimes the best thing is to put the wonderful history of the European Cup in relief. There is no better example of a team defined by success in Europe than Sacchi’s side and their romp in the 1990 final against Steaua Bucharest. It also contains a historical titbit I hadn’t heard before on how the Italian military assisted TV crews after a strike in Spain almost led to a TV blackout (plus ça change I guess).
Zone blocking-schemes are a fickle beast in the NFL, and their resounding success stories are balanced by the failures. The most notable and often cited example of the former is the Houston Texans, a team which has used the scheme that’s perfectly suited for Arian Foster’s skillset to clear room for their lead running back to run for 4,264 yards over the past three seasons, with 41 touchdowns. His highest single-season total during that stretch was 1,616 yards. Yeah, pretty good.
Then there’s the tale of woe that is the Raiders. Sure, much of Darren McFadden’s failures under their zone-blocking scheme installed prior to the 2012 season was a result of his inability to not break things (he missed four games). But when he was healthy, McFadden was mostly horrible. He averaged 3.3 yards per carry and 58.9 per game, while scoring only twice on the ground.
This offseason the Raiders announced a move away from zone blocking, and McFadden was rather excited:
“This is very exciting for me. I am the type of guy who likes to go downhill, make a cut and go; that’s my thing. We’ll mix it up like we used to, and get some zones in there, but for the most part, I will be keeping my shoulders toward the line of scrimmage.”
Despite all the wonderful things the Steelers’ coaching staff and offensive linemen are saying about their intention to mix in some zone-blocking concepts this year, you’re forgiven for feeling more conflicting emotions than a pimple-faced teen.
Click here for a full-sized version of this newspaper clipping from a 1972 recap of a game between the Bucks and SuperSonics, then please explain to me why Kareem-Abdul Jabbar didn’t change his shorts at halftime. Even Kevin Seraphin isn’t that silly.
Hey, it’s time for your weekly feed of looping images. Come and get it. We lead with Andre Ethier and his ‘hold me back’ stare directed at home plate umpire Dan Bellino. Ethier was upset with a call during his at-bat, or maybe it was the pitch that may or may not have been directed at his head by Mike Gonzalez. Whatever the case, that’s a cold ass stare.
We got spitballs, beer toss, terrible swings, and more staring after the jump.
The French Open has always held a sacred place in this tennis fan’s heart. Parisians aren’t like you or I. Fact is, they’re better. Whether it’s smoking cigarettes in the stands or vociferously booing players for no discernible reason, they do things their own way. Refined jerks add so much more to the sporting landscape with their hooting and demonstrative sighing than the casual fan. The game – nay, the world – would be worse off without them.
Here’s looking at you, Satan.
We head into the second major of the year with less questions to answer than expected. Rafael Nadal’s knees have withstood the rigors of the European clay court season. Serena Williams dispatched Victoria Azarenka with ease in Rome, proving the only person who stands a chance of stopping Serena from winning her second French Open title is Serena herself. The favorites have made an impressive case, one so strong that seeing someone other than Nadal and Williams leave Roland Garros with a garish trophy and fat check in hand will be quite surprising.
It’s the ‘others’ that will intrigue in Paris. The others being the group of players that have a shot – however fleeting – at knocking off the overwhelming favorites. On the men’s side three names come to mind, all with their own personal demons when it comes to taking down Rafa on clay, let alone at a major. Roger Federer will need divine intervention to win it all, and no, Robin Soderling is not walking through that door. Novak Djokovic is the only hope for the anti Rafa crowd and he’s coming off an uncharacteristic loss to Tomas Berdych. The Czech big man could be this year’s Soderling. Unfortunately the words ‘could be ‘ have been synonymous with Berdych’s career up until this point.
On the women’s side there is slightly more belief. Serena bowed out in the first round last year, losing to Virginie Razzano in one of the biggest upsets in French Open history. Azarenka will be there at the end, as will Maria Sharapova. Unfortunately for those two their head-to-head numbers against Williams are terrible (4-25 combined).
If there’s one thing the University of Cincinnati baseball team is good at, it’s knowing how to sabotage post-game interviews. They finished 24-32 this season, but their best plays occur after the game in their post-game interviews. Just watch the video and check out the skill.