Jam Shots – June 5th, 2011

I just want to say, for the record, that I’ve seen a few collisions at home plate since the Buster Posey situation, and nobody’s made a big deal out of it. Although Jordan Schaefer did bunt a pitch off his face, and the league is now considering outlawing bats and balls. In other news, the Mavs pulled off the impossible, and won a game against the Heat! Unbelievable.

In today’s episode, Albert Pujols wasn’t dormant for long, Adam Jones makes an incredible catch, the Heat choke on their own ego, and an argument that would make Skip Bayless proud (that’s not a good thing). Plus, the most overrated baseball players in the game today. Enjoy!

Jam Shots, Episode 2, 6/5/11

*Basketball*

Let’s start with the biggest sports story of the week. The Miami Heat, behind 36 points from Dwyane Wade, had a huge lead midway through the fourth quarter of Game 2, only to start bricking shots, throwing the ball away and performing a vanishing act on defense en route to losing by 2 to the Mavs. Dirk Nowitzki had the last 9 points for Dallas, who showed a ton of confidence and impressed me with their ability to keep cool in that situation.

The Heat looked foolish celebrating Wade’s three, the last shot before the furious rally mounted by the Mavs. Well, the celebration was kind of cool actually, and was blown way out of proportion by the media, (surprise, surprise), but there is no doubt that it fueled the Mavs. So the question is, after the comeback and heading home to Dallas for three games (why do they change the format?) in a row, can they actually pull off the upset and win?

Well…no. It was a fantastic game and all, but it took a miracle for them to pull that game out, coupled with a complete collapse by the Heat. Wade, Bosh and LeBron will not let this opportunity slip away. I’d be hard-pressed to believe the planets will align again like that. Don’t get me wrong; Dallas is a good team, and Dirk is a star. But, I’d be shocked to see them win more than two games in this series. Sure, they have home-court advantage now, but the Heat have been an amazing team on the road this postseason, and playing that poorly at the end of Game 2 is going to fuel the three-headed beast.

I’m giving the Mavs one game at home, losing in 6 overall.

In other completely unrelated basketball news, a few mock drafts have Washington State University’s Klay Thompson going to the Warriors with the 11th pick. Why is this relevant? Because, as a WSU alumnus, I would absolutely love to see him go to Golden State so I can see him play nearby…sure, it’s selfish, especially since he doesn’t exactly fit the Warriors’ needs. But still, he’s the greatest player in Washington St. history so you won’t hear any complaints from me if the Dubs snag him. But, if Bismack Biyombo, the unknown center from Congo falls to that spot, we must take him. Forget the team needs, I want that jersey!

And just for the hell of it, I’m still baffled that Reggie Miller was not elected to the Hall-of-Fame on his first try…blasphemy! Wait, he wasn’t even one of the 12 finalists? What the f*&! are those Nazi’s in the Hall committee smoking? That’s more ridiculous than…

*Baseball*

…the fact that the Buster Posey talk is still dominating the headlines (or the fact that I used the EXACT same segway as last week). Even Buster himself is sick of the talk, saying “we all need to move on.” At least one respectable person who has given their two cents is on point about this. Cue Hall of Fame catcher, 14-time All Star, and widely regarded “best catcher there ever was,” Johnny Bench:

“Buster is laying in front of home plate, and it’s like having a disabled car in the middle of a four-lane highway. You’re just going to get smacked. Show them the plate. You can always catch the ball and step, or step and catch the ball, as long as you’ve got the runner on the ground. And if you have the runner on the ground, there’s less chance of any severe collision.” – Bench

Okay, seriously. We’re moving on now.

Remember that Albert Pujols guy? Well, um, yeah. He’s back. Pujols hit two home runs yesterday, including a walk-off in extras. He almost single-handedly won that game for St. Louis, who already has a lead in the NL Central. That’s not very fair to the other teams that they can still be so good with below-average production from Pujols and Adam Wainwright out for the season. It also doesn’t bode well for my pre-season pick of the Milwaukee Brewers to win the division crown…sigh. Oh well, I love watching Albert play and it looks like he’s heating up with the weather, which is great news for all baseball fans (save for anyone who likes the Cubs – but they never had a chance to begin with).

Speaking of home runs, anyone who hasn’t seen Mitch Moreland and Justin Upton’s home runs from Monday, can find them here:
http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/gameday/index.jsp?gid=2011_05_30_texmlb_tbamlb_1&mode=video
Anyone who thinks Moreland’s home run did not travel over 500 feet must be dealing to the NBA H-O-F committee. I just love a good dinger. Ah…that came out wrong.

Even though those home runs were sweet, nothing compares to this unfreakingbelievable catch by Adam Jones of the O’s. Tell me what you think: is it better than Willie Mays’ catch? We know Mays’ will always be the original icon of that kind of play, we know he made the catch in the playoffs and also covered tons of ground, AND wheeled and fired a strike back to the infield to keep the runners from advancing. But, Jones made his as he crashed into the center field wall, and I’m not sure how the ball physically went over his shoulder and into the glove before impact. You be the judge; let me know which catch you think is better.

Last but not least, Sports Illustrated released their annual “Player’s Poll,” which asks almost 200 MLB players to rank their fellow players and coaches in certain categories. The most popular, most read and most controversial list came out recently. Who is baseball’s most overrated player? According to the poll, Alex Rodriguez tops the list, followed by Yankee teammates Joba Chamberlain and Derek Jeter. The Nationals’ Jayson Werth and Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon rounded out the top 5. This is another interesting debate – surely, I can see why these guys are on the list, but I question if A-Rod and Jeter are actually “overrated.” Overpaid, definitely. But so is anyone making that much money to play a game.

The two relievers’ numbers don’t warrant any praise, so they definitely have earned their spots on this list. And as soon as Werth inked that contract (I called it by the way – check out my Bold Predictions/Burning Questions blog), he became Werth-less. I have a soft spot for DJ as he and Ken Griffey, Jr. are the two faces I point to as the guys who epitomized the sport for me growing up. And it’s hard to hate on someone who is so respectable. But A-Rod on reputation and salary alone claims a spot.

So, who do I think should slide into that last spot? Here’s a doozy for ya: how about someone like Zack Greinke? He’s likeable, got filthy stuff and a Cy Young award to boot – but his career numbers are really not that good. I don’t know if I would go as far as to include him on the list, but he is treated like the second coming of Tim Hudson, when he’s really not.

*Other Sports*

General –
I hate Skip Bayless. There is no reason for me to introduce this topic with that line, other than the fact that I know he would side with the wrong argument in this debate: To be considered a truly great player, does one have to win a championship ring? The issue obviously arose with Dirk and LeBron, both ringless, facing off in the Finals this year. Apparently, whoever wins will finally be labeled “great.” Because they both are not already, right? I can think of plenty of players who will never, ever be remembered, let alone considered “great” like James and Nowitzki who have a ring; even multiple rings!

Look, I can see where the argument comes from. Who cares how dominant a player is in their sport if they never win it all? But for some, it just wasn’t meant to happen. I normally wouldn’t be one to believe in credence like that, but it’s different in sports. The logic just isn’t there for the other side. Bayless, undoubtedly, and his cretins would have to say then, that Ernie Banks is not an all-time baseball great. Same with Ted Williams, the last man to hit .400 in a season. Charles Barkley, Reggie Miller, Patrick Ewing, John Stockton and Karl Malone in the NBA. Dan Marino and Jim Kelly in the NFL. The list goes on and on.

Greatness is based on individual achievements and legacies are built on how many championships a franchise has won. Williams’ Red Sox were mired in the middle of an 84-year title drought while he played. I think he did all he could though: he hit .344 with 521 home runs in his career. He was elected to the All-Star game 17 times and won 2 A.L. MVP’s. The debate for greatest hitter of all time is never complete without him being mentioned in the top two or three. And you’re going to tell me that because he never won a World Series, he’s not an all-time great? Screw you Skip Bayless.

Soccer –
Sooo…I would love to see the USA National Team be a world force in soccer. And I know Landon Donovan wasn’t playing yesterday, but we looked like a Special Olympics team losing 4-0 to Spain in a friendly in New England. We still have a long, long way to go. But, for the casual soccer fan, how pretty were some of those goals by Spain??

And I leave you with this clip. The coolest thing I’ve seen since Wayne Rooney’s bicycle kick goal a few months back.

That’s all for now. Check back next Sunday for more Jam Shots!

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