Jam Shots – June 12th, 2011

Well, kicking this weekly blog off was short-lived. I will be taking off to the Bahamas this Tuesday, then continuing on the MV Explorer for Semester-at-Sea to Barcelona, Naples, Rome, Athens, Dubrovnik, Istanbul, Casablanca, and Varna, Bulgaria. Needless to say, sports (unless it’s European soccer) will not be on my mind very much.

But fear not! I return August 25th, and Jam Shots returns with me! Hopefully without an accent. So this is the last week for a couple months, but here goes anyhow! Today’s topics: Miracle Mavs, Nyjer Morgan is absolutely ridiculous, a personal revelation, and a very objective, unbiased approach to this burning question – can Matt Kemp actually win a Triple Crown?

Jam Shots, Episode 3, 6/12/11

*Basketball*

Amazing. The Mavs have defied all odds and already accomplished the impossible. No, I don’t mean being up 3-2 on the mighty Miami Heat. Screw that, I meant they actually won more games than yours truly predicted! Proving me wrong when it comes to sports is akin to out-scarfing Joey Chestnut, out-running Forrest Gump or out-tweeting Anthony Weiner It just doesn’t happen.

Seriously though, I’m very impressed. LeBron disappeared behind a casual triple-double in game 5 and D-Wade missed time with a hip bruise, but I still must give props where props are due. The Mavericks shot almost 70% from three-point range. J.J. Barea, Jason Terry, Jason Kidd and of course Dirk Nowitzki were very clutch. The Dallas role players are stepping up huge in this series, whereas the Heat are just getting random spurts of brilliance from players like Juwan Howard, Joel Anthony and Udonis Haslem. No consistency though, and it is all resting in the awkward hands of Chris Bosh, and on the bruised ego of LeBron James and the worn-out Dwyane Wade.

Don’t get me wrong – each of those three at their worst is still a pretty good NBA player, but something needs to happen in Miami tonight to spark this team. They have a huge advantage playing at home for this game and possibly the next, but the way the Mavs have been shooting and effectively shutting down LeBron in the 4th quarter is bad news for The Franchise. I’m not one to go back on my word, so I still have the Heat winning, just in 7 now.

The hopeful bandwagon fan in me says LeBron and D-Wade will combine for at least 60 points in game 6 and completely deplete the momentum the Mavs have built up. And while I (seriously!) would love to see Dirk win a championship, there is this indescribable desire in me to see Dallas lose this series. Not because I necessarily like Miami. Not because I’m mad at Mark Cuban for not purchasing the Dodgers and getting them out of their damn financial predicament. Partially because those fans are all fans of the arch-nemesis Dallas Cowboys. But, mostly because I have a man-crush on LeBron. There, I said it! Can you blame me? The guy (at least for the first three quarters…ZING!) is unstoppable and just an absolute freak. Too much fun to watch.

Oh, and for the people who think the “give-LeBron-a-dollar-he-will-only-return-3-quarters” joke is that funny? It’s called a processing fee. Get over it. It’s only 25 cents for Heatles’ sake! If you are really so cheap that you are going to cry over a single coin, then you shouldn’t be rooting for the richest owner in sports to win the championship. And if you’re not rooting for the Mavs after that brilliant way of proving you wrong, there is plenty of room on the Heat bandwagon over here, so jump on (we lost about half of our wagon after Game 5. It’s getting lonely in here…)!

Speaking of how I love the most hated player in basketball…

*General*

…I thought about it and realized I must have some sort of major personality flaw. I don’t know what it is exactly, but I seem to gravitate toward both rooting for and admiring the most hated athletes on the planet. Sure, there’s LeBron (who I still don’t think deserves all that hatred by the way, though I can understand it). But what about Manny Ramirez, Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter in baseball? Manny was the MLB’s class clown, but also to many a villain. A-Rod is pretty much hated by everyone who isn’t a diehard Yankee fan, and he does something every few weeks that makes me hate him a little bit too. But I can’t say I don’t respect the guy’s ability to play ball. Let’s just say I hate him a lot less than most people.

Jeter? This one doesn’t make sense to me – all he has ever done to be a target of hatred is wear the pinstripes. You won’t find a classier act in all of sports than Jeter, who cemented his place in the Hall of Fame by about 2001. He and Ken Griffey, Jr. will always be the two guys that made baseball for me when I was growing up. I think if I was in either situation, I would miss the birth of my first child and/or ditch my wedding if I had the opportunity to see Jeter get his 3,000th hit in person. Forget the uniform, this guy is a living legend and deserves to be treated like one, so all Jeter haters (yeah, that’s you Hank Steinbrenner! What?) can go to Hell!

Perhaps the most confusing one to most of my friends, but the one I’m most proud of is my beloved San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith. Besides his good looks, incredible intelligence and professional demeanor, Smith is a beast on the football field. He has the arm of Peyton Manning, the heart of Drew Brees, the legs of Michael Vick and the confidence of Tom Brady, all wrapped into one future Hall of Fame QB. Okay, well that’s what he was supposed to be. Unfortunately his stats don’t match and he’s currently leading the Niners’ volunteer training camp as a free agent who new coach Jim Harbaugh (in a VERY subtle attempt to share who their new QB would be…) gave a playbook to despite the lockout.

Smith is approximately on chance #16 with the 49er faithful. Most fans are absolutely fed up with his lack of production and the 49ers dismal record with him at the helm. So why, you ask, do I still back him? Why do I love Alex Smith? Is it because I have his jersey ($30.00 at Big 5)? I’m a huge fan of the University of Utah, where he played in college? I’m delusional? No, no. None of the above. It’s because he does have the brains to be a top-tier NFL quarterback. He does have the confidence. He does have the physical tools. And we have seen those flashes of brilliance here and there. He has looked like Joe Montana in a few games over his career, like Steve Young on a couple 4th-quarter drives.

Now, that last part isn’t a bunch of comedy. It’s absolutely true. I have watched every second of every 49er game since Smith came into the league. I know the day he puts all these tools he has together is going to be a beautiful day, as long as he’s still wearing 49ers’ red and gold. I know if we let him walk, he will do it somewhere else. Smith took a huge pay cut to stay in the Bay Area and take care of “unfinished business.” He feels he owes something to the fans, and that’s why he won’t give up, despite being the most hated player on the roster. I have to respect that, and I have reason to hope. Harbaugh is our coach, a notorious developer of quarterbacks. Our O-line is improved again. And we have an offensive scheme in place that actually utilizes Smith’s strengths for once and doesn’t rely on handoff, handoff, and screen pass every possession.

Long live Alex Smith and go 49ers!

*Baseball*

Just a real quick Dodger plug here. I know it’s always a conversation that comes up. I know I’m biased. But STILL, does Matt Kemp have a legitimate shot at winning a Triple Crown (even if not this year, eventually)? Right now, the kid is hitting .331 with 19 home runs and 55 RBI’s for an offense that is finally starting to pick up. He has been the unquestioned star of this team and is finally playing to his potential after a huge Rihanna-induced hangover last year. Kemp leads the National League in homers, is 2nd in RBI’s by 1 and 5th in average by 10 points. Pitchers have not figured out a way to get him out yet. I’m just saying, if it comes down to the wire and he’s still close in average, he’ll have a shot at it because the power numbers will be right up there. How can you root against this?

My last order of business today is Nyjer Morgan. If you haven’t seen his post-game interview yet, catch it here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EKkSZ_qR45A

First of all, he didn’t know it was the 9th inning? Are you kidding me? Anyway, that guy must have something wrong with him. He looked like a child hopped up on way too many Pixie Stix after the game. I kinda liked the reaction though; it made me laugh almost as much as his Answer Man session last year.

He also got into a brawl with the entire Marlins team last year after he was retaliated against the day after taking out their catcher at home. He got a couple good hits in on the pitcher, but was absolutely leveled by Marlins’ first baseman Gaby Sanchez who came running in with a blindside clothesline hit. It was baseball brawlism at its finest. I couldn’t find any good video on it for you, but definitely look around for it because it’s awesome. Just imagine what would happen if he played outfield on a team with Manny Ramirez in left and Coco Crisp in right. And if Carlos Zambrano was pitching, John Rocker closing?? My god, there would be a brawl every single night. And Buster Posey would still be crying about the violence, asking us to play in football pads with Nerf balls.

That’s all folks. Keep an eye out for this blog while I’m abroad – I will be updating at least once a week on the ship about my exploits in Europe and Africa! Thanks for reading, and Jam Shots will be back in a couple months!

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