Yankees (37-25) vs. Nationals (38-23): Lineups

    Friday, June 15, 2012, 5:01 PM [General]

    NEW YORK YANKEES

    Derek Jeter SS
    Curtis Granderson CF
    Mark Teixeira 1B
    Alex Rodriguez 3B
    Nick Swisher RF
    Andrew Jones LF
    Russell Martin C
    Jayson Nix 2B
    Phil Hughes P

    Pitching: Phil Hughes (6-5, 4.76)

    WASHINGTON NATIONALS

    Steve Lombardozzi LF
    Bryce Harper CF
    Ryan Zimmerman 3B
    Adam LaRoche 1B
    Michael Morse RF
    Ian Desmond SS
    Danny Espinosa 2B
    Jesus Flores C
    Gio Gonzalez P

    Pitching: Gio Gonzalez (8-2, 2.35)

    0 (0 Ratings)

    Yankees (36-25) vs. Braves (34-28): Lineups

    Wednesday, June 13, 2012, 4:38 PM [General]

    NEW YORK YANKEES

    Derek Jeter SS
    Curtis Granderson CF
    Alex Rodriguez 3B
    Robinson Cano 2B
    Mark Teixeira 1B
    Raul Ibanez LF
    Nick Swisher RF
    Russell Martin C
    Hiroki Kuroda P

    Pitching: Hiroki Kuroda (5-6, 3.46)

    ATLANTA BRAVES

    Michael Bourn CF
    Martin Prado LF
    Brian McCann C
    Dan Uggla 2B
    Chipper Jones 3B
    Jason Heyward RF
    Eric Hinske 1B
    Andrelton Simmons SS
    Tim Hudson P

    Pitching: Tim Hudson (4-2, 3.83)

    0 (0 Ratings)

    April COUNT she will

    Saturday, April 9, 2011, 12:55 PM [General]

    A common reprise as teams get off to roaring starts and others slow ones is to say, “It’s early. It’s only April.” And then, a common retort you might hear is, “Games in April count the same as games in September.”

    Both of those statements are true (the second especially, since it’s a factual assertion), but we live today in a world where perception is everything. Politicians hinge their success on early states like Iowa and New Hampshire to boost momentum for the bigger ones, movies pour everything into opening weekends so word of mouth catches on, and sports fans and media – whether they like to admit it or not – overreact to everything.

    "Everything" is magnified in April. The Red Sox start 0-6 and the Charles River is suddenly flooding. Yes – you wouldn’t notice a six-game losing streak in June to nearly that extent – but that’s partly the point. It isn’t June. It’s April and people are talking.

    When a batter bats .650 in the first two weeks of the season, everyone goes around saying, “Wow, that Player X is having an amazing year.” If you want a case in point, study Emilio Bonifacio’s numbers in 2009 (maybe take a valium first). He rode a sizzling first week to a whole season of starting, performing abominably the rest of the way beyond anyone’s notice. What you do FIRST is what people often remember, statistically.

    This is why the Yankees could really afford to strike more fear into Red Sox Nation, right now. Of course Boston can recover, but New York has to make that recovery as difficult as possible. Send Boston into all-out panic mode and the Yankees might have gained more than just a couple of games in the standings. And after all – isn’t the point of fan rivalries to cheer for your team while your rivals hang their heads? Maybe this isn’t championship weekend, but the Red Sox are pretty despondent.

    April COUNT she will
    When streams are ripe and swelled with rain

    It seems Simon and Garfunkel were onto something when they wrote that beautiful song. Throw in “count” for “come” and you’ve got a baseball classic!

    Send Adam Spunberg a TWEET!

    0 (0 Ratings)

    Looking on the bright side

    Thursday, December 23, 2010, 7:50 PM [General]

    Like many people, I was convinced Cliff Lee would be wearing pinstripes next year.  I assumed Brian Cashman would propose an almost-impossible-to-refuse offer (something short of a horse’s head, but not by much) and that Lee -- after much reflection -- would go the way of A-Rod, Randy Johnson and others who dispensed their smaller-town values for a glitzy shot in the big city.

    It was not to be.  Why he chose Philadelphia does seem a bit curious, but I don’t think anyone can chastise him – and it seems few have. New York just isn’t for everyone, and if the Yankees came away empty-handed this offseason, the blame falls on them for putting all their eggs in one Gotham-shy basket.

    In the BBC adaptation, Love in a Cold Climate, one character remarks of Paris in the late 1930’s:

    “One's emotions are intensified in Paris -- one can be more happy and more unhappy than in any other place.”

    When it comes to sports and the modern age, Paris may as well be New York.  Perhaps Lee just didn’t feel up to a place with such violent swings of support and condemnation, known for its relentless and suffocating press and unreasonable expectations.  Some would argue that makes him less of a competitor, but to me, it just seems like an athlete exercising his right to tranquility.

    But putting Lee aside and forgetting any lingering resentments – which really don’t matter now that he’s made his choice – where does this leave the Yankees?  In the days since the fallout, there have been articles blasting the Yankees brass and some insisting the Bombers will be fine.  There can be no doubting that the Red Sox have improved considerably, but New York is still a top-tier team with oodles of talent.

    The more intriguing component – and this is where Yankees fans should find their inner holiday spirit – is just how scintillating this season is shaping up to be.  For the first time in ages, the Yanks are somewhat of underdogs, downtrodden from the media and seemingly in a brittle state.  What more exciting team could there be to root for?

    Beat the Red Sox this year and the thrill will be more real, more deserved.  Cliff Lee’s refusal only reinforces that the Yankees are not quite the “Evil Empire,” but capable of being likable, of playing the vaunted nobody-believed-in-us card.  Think how much more pleasurable it will be to earn a championship instead of buying one.  This is the chance to shed that label.  This is the chance to do something no privileged-to-the-nth-degree team ever could: to win the title a better way.

    Look at the bright side…this Yankees team will be mighty fun to watch, and a championship run would be a whole lot more satisfying.

    Click here to follow Adam Spunberg on Twitter

    0 (0 Ratings)

    Pennington is better than Sanchez

    Friday, November 12, 2010, 10:20 PM [General]

    Added note: Deepest apologies to Chad Pennington. I apparently jinxed him, as he suffered what appears to be a career-ending injury two days after my endorsement.  Still, his career ought to be looked upon more favorably.

    Carl Sagan once said, “If we could travel into the past, it's mind-boggling what would be possible.”

    Yes, it would be, and I imagine there would be far more important things to consider than the Jets’ quarterback situation.  Still, the answer could be pretty fascinating.

    Unfortunately, we don’t have a time machine, but we do have the advantage of hindsight, which has become increasingly keen, thanks to some extraordinary innovations in statistical analysis.  Even if we can’t travel backwards in a snazzy device, a la H.G. Wells’ Time Machine, we can practice the art of “psychohistory,” which Isaac Asimov defines in his Foundation series as using the past to predict the future.

    In other words, we can look over the last three seasons and pose this question:  Would the Jets have been better off keeping Chad Pennington, or even Brett Favre?

    The wonderful people at playerfilter.com have been nice enough to let me experiment with their new program, which allows YOU to tinker around and come to your own conclusion.  It’s not a sparkling-gold time machine, but it’s an extremely impressive breakthrough in the art of sports review.  I thank them sincerely for letting me use their tables below.

    I got to thinking about Chad Pennington because he was just named Dolphins starter this week, replacing Chad Henne in an astonishing move.  Jets fans seem to relish railing on Pennington, even though he’s personable, considerate, intelligent (a Rhodes Scholar), the most accurate passer in the history of the NFL, and led Gang Green to the playoffs on several occasions.  You could say they hate him for the injuries, but the real reason – as everyone in New York and New Jersey knows – is because of his weak arm.  Pennington cannot throw deep or thread the needle, instead depending on softer, lob-like passes that have as much zip as Velcro.

    Could it actually be that Pennington – despite his famous velocity limitations – makes smarter decisions, and is he just as productive in his passes as the arm-strength quarterbacks who throw frozen ropes into double coverage?

    Let’s take a look at playerfilter.com’s table for career stats.  Feel free to play around with the category assortment by clicking on the links:

    PlayerGamesPass Y/APass %Pass TD %Int %Pass TD/IntPass AttPass YdsPass Yds (avg)Pass TDInt
    1 Chad Pennington 88 7.3 66.1 4.1 2.6 1.6 2469 17804 202.3 102 64
    2 Brett Favre 296 7.2 62 5 3.2 1.5 10032 71035 240 505 326
    3 Mark Sanchez 23 6.7 53.7 3.6 4 0.9 618 4136 179.8 22 25

    Notice how when you examine “Pass Y/A” (pass yards per attempt), Chad Pennington stands atop that list?  Interesting, for a guy who supposedly can throw only short passes.  His rate even exceeds that of Brett Favre, who despite his recent struggles (on and off the field), is universally considered one of the best quarterbacks of all-time.  Mark Sanchez, the Jets’ choice-du-jour, lags half a yard behind.

    What about touchdown percentages?  Pennington again wins out over Mark Sanchez, and he boasts a better touchdown-to-interception rate than both of them.  Also, let’s not forget that his completion percentage is far, FAR superior.  Could Pennington have been perennially undervalued? (YES!)

    Now let’s examine how they’ve performed recently.  In the next table, which shows their stats from 2008-10 (note: Pennington missed most of 2009 with a shoulder injury), the numbers are not quite as convincing, but they do reveal the same conclusion:

    PlayerGamesPass Y/APass %Pass TD %Int %Pass TD/IntPass AttPass YdsPass Yds (avg)Pass TDInt
    1 Brett Favre 40 7.3 66.2 4.9 3.2 1.5 1311 9570 239.3 64 42
    2 Chad Pennington 19 6.7 67.6 3.6 1.6 2.2 550 4066 214 20 9
    3 Mark Sanchez 23 6.7 53.7 3.6 4 0.9 618 4136 179.8 22 25
    Passing statistics for Favre, Pennington and Sanchez since 2008 (as of 2010 Week 9). Source: Playerfilter

    Sanchez and Pennington share remarkably similar yards-per-attempt and touchdown-percentage ratios, but it’s in the interceptions and completion percentages that the disparity is gargantuan.  Favre’s stats are the most impressive, but keep in mind that he had Adrian Peterson as his running back and Sidney Rice and Percy Harvin as receiving targets.  Conversely, Pennington’s options in Miami were extremely thin (Ted Ginn was the No. 1 receiver), and definitely worse than what the Jets had.

    In our last table, we compare the individual seasons between 2008 and 2010:

    PlayerSeasonTeamGamesPass Y/APass %Pass TD %Int %Pass TD/IntPass AttPass YdsPass Yds (avg)Pass TDInt
    1 Brett Favre 2009 MIN 16 7.9 68.4 6.2 1.3 4.7 531 4202 262.6 33 7
    2 Chad Pennington 2008 MIA 16 7.7 67.4 4 1.5 2.7 476 3653 228.3 19 7
    3 Mark Sanchez 2009 NYJ 15 6.7 53.8 3.3 5.5 0.6 364 2444 162.9 12 20
    4 Brett Favre 2010 MIN 8 7.3 62.8 3.5 5 0.7 258 1896 237 9 13
    5 Mark Sanchez 2010 NYJ 8 6.7 53.5 3.9 2 2 254 1692 211.5 10 5
    6 Chad Pennington 2009 MIA 3 5.6 68.9 1.4 2.7 0.5 74 413 137.7 1 2
    Comparing seasons: Mark Sanchez vs. Favre and Pennington after they left the Jets. Source: Playerfilter

    Pennington’s 2009 campaign is almost a nonentity (he played basically two games), but you can see that his 2008 season was second-best on the list.  Sanchez has improved in 2010, but he has still failed to match the efficiency of the other two former Jets’ quarterbacks.  No reasonable Jets fan could argue that Sanchez has ever been better than Pennington was in 2008, and one could easily make the case that the Jets would be a better team right now with Pennington at the helm.
     
    Of course, there are other variables at play.  Sanchez is a young quarterback with plenty of room to grow and a bright future.  Pennington’s shoulder has undergone three surgeries, making him unreliable and potentially at the end of his career.  All things considered, Sanchez would be a much smarter option in the long-term picture, but if the question is right now, tomorrow, based on prior performance and what we can expect in the near future...

    The answer is, yes, Chad Pennington.  Sorry Jets fans.  Your hatred has been misplaced.

    Follow Adam Spunberg on Twitter

    0 (0 Ratings)

    Down to one

    Sunday, October 3, 2010, 12:05 PM [General]

    There are those who insist that every game counts, that games in April equate to the same value as games in September, and by all manner of arithmetic, they are correct. Still, with the Yankees and Rays – both sporting the same 95-66 record after 161 games – knowing full well that the fate of the division hangs on one final day, those egalitarian statisticians would be hard pressed to diminish the gargantuan meaning of Game No. 162.

    Tampa Bay has the upper hand, owning the tiebreaker based on head-to-head (for those who don’t know, since both teams have already qualified for the playoffs, there is no one-game playoff for division and wild card). The Yankees need to beat Boston and hope the Rays lose to the Royals.

    There are several significant factors at stake.

    Rangers or Twins: The division winner will get the Rangers, even though the Twins are scuffling. Minnesota has played horrendously over the last few weeks. The Rangers, in the meantime, look like a multifaceted threat, capable of bouncing anyone. Avoiding Texas would be a huge plus, so there is a silver lining to being the wild card.

    ALCS home field: If the American League Championship Series comes down to the Yankees and Rays, the division winner will have four of seven home games, including a critical Game 7. That is worth playing for alone, not only for the competitive advantage, but also for the fans who might want to see more playoff matches.

    Pride: Even if the matchups do not favor the AL East winner, there is still reason to aim high. Why strive to achieve anything in this world if it doesn’t matter? Why try to win 110 games instead of 108? Why try to win a World Series when there are oil spills in the gulf? Accomplishments can always be overshadowed by greater issues, but that does not make succeeding in them an act of futility.

    Decoration: Would you hoist a “2010 Wild Card!” banner in your stadium? Division champs sounds a whole lot better.

    Regardless of what happens, this final Sunday reminds us of how beautiful a Major League season can be, and though a true pennant race would have been more electrifying, we should still appreciate this last-day treat.

    Follow Adam Spunberg on Twitter

    0 (0 Ratings)

    A Vick-mas Carol

    Sunday, September 26, 2010, 2:17 PM [General]

    Rex Ryan and his rambunctious Jets dominated the preseason headlines, and rightfully so, but the resurrection of Michael Vick stands alone as this year’s most compelling story. Forgotten in the shuffle of Vick’s horrific arrest and public disgrace was his exceptional talent, a phenomenon never fully cultivated during his up-and-down reign as Falcons quarterback.

    There were brief flashes last season, certainly, but nothing quite as electrifying as what we’ve seen this year, in which Vick has scampered friskily over defenses, soaring laboriously like Atlas, with a world of condemnation humbling his shoulders. This redemption tale has the potential to be legendary, and unlike those unfortunates in Cleveland, we are all witnesses.

    --

    Earlier this year, many had the great fortune of seeing Charles Dickens’ original manuscript to A Christmas Carol, displayed breathtakingly within a room of old books at the Morgan Library & Museum. It was amazing to think that this was the very parchment scribed by Dickens, with a tradition immortal enough to inspire countless movies, theatre productions and late-night December programming. The story has a bit of everything, from holiday cheer to flirtations with the supernatural, but the biggest reason for its continued success is the redemption of Scrooge. Everyone loves to see a hardened man turn compassionate, to discover the meaning of goodness and charity amid an eye-opening journey.

    The parallels between Vick and Scrooge are surprisingly relevant. Michael Vick was not a good man, and he needed a ghastly excursion to prison to find his way. You could even go so far as to call the dogs his Tiny Tims, though that defeats the purpose. Andy Reid – in making the proper football decision – has awarded Vick a rare opportunity to repave the path to prominence, and now it’s up to Vick to prove his real worth.

    It is not enough for Vick to excel on the football field. He must continue his animal rights advocacy, behave like a true role model for children and remain grateful for the talents he has been given, never wasting this uncanny chance to become an inspiration. How it will all unfold depends entirely on him, but here’s to hoping he makes ghosts of his past and immortality of his future.

    0 (0 Ratings)

    Making the most of destiny

    Tuesday, September 7, 2010, 4:54 AM [General]

    The question of free will versus destiny has plagued the human race for centuries, from the early Shang dynasty to Calvinists who stressed predetermination.  Oedipus could not escape his prophecy, marrying his mother and suffering a tragic end, and Guy Pearce couldn’t change time in that crappy remake of The Time Machine.  Then again, Tom Cruise had a choice in Minority Report, so maybe we do control our fates.

    When it comes to the NBA, however, both elements in the debate are equally influential.  The schedule is preordained, inalterable, unchangeable, but what becomes of such games are wholly up to the players involved.  The Nets can peer into that crystal ball and anticipate the challenges ahead, but what will they do with their foresight?  Here are five games worth noting on the schedule, to see what unpredictable outcomes might occur on irrefutably predictable dates.

    1. Opening night: Oct. 27 vs. Detroit
    We all remember how horrid last season started, so what better way to erase the stigma than to claim a winnable game on opening night?  The Pistons are simply not a good team, and with the slate wiped clean and a home crowd desperate to provide encouragement, I see the Nets making an early statement.  And surely a winning record would defy the annals of fate, right?

    2. Hysteria: Oct. 31 vs. Miami
    This is New Jersey’s first battle with the three-headed monster that is the new Heat. Can head coach Avery Johnson slay his old demon (Dwyane Wade, 2006 Finals) and knock off the rest of the triumvirate on Halloween? Manage the home upset here and Nets fans will be treated to a night of delicious TV highlights and burgeoning hopes. Even a competitive game would be a moral victory.

    3. The rivalry: Nov. 30 at New York
    By this point, we should have some sense of where the Nets are headed, but nothing would delight New Jersey enthusiasts more than to take down the new-look Knicks.  New York may have added Stoudemire and feel rejuvenated, but Prokhorov’s crew wants to stab the eyes out of MSG fever, at least until the Brooklyn move finalizes.  These two squads could be mediocre, but expect this game to sport a playoff-like feel.

    4. Old friends: Jan. 22 vs. Dallas
    Jason Kidd had some of his finest years in New Jersey, just as the Nets enjoyed some of their finest seasons with him. Still a fan favorite, Nets fans want to greet him with open arms and send him back to Dallas with a loss. The Mavericks visit only once, so the atmosphere should be special for the old hero, returning home after a distant voyage.

    5. Tony Soprano lives: Apr. 8 vs. New York
    Another skirmish with the Knicks, but this one could have real playoff implications. With just four games left, New York could be jockeying for positioning, and the Nets might be right there with them or playing the role of spoilers.  Perhaps it will be a meaningless game in another failed season, but something tells me (destiny, or willful intuition?) this one will count for something.  Win and New Jersey sends New York to the fishes. Lose, and it’s a conclusion tragic enough to make Sophocles proud.

    0 (0 Ratings)

    Riley's Ode to Joy

    Saturday, July 10, 2010, 12:06 AM [General]

    To celebrate the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, Leonard Bernstein organized the most extraordinary concert in the history of classical music. On Christmas Day in the famous Schauspielhaus, he summoned the New York Philharmonic, London Symphony, Bavarian Radio Orchestra, Staatskapelle Dresden, Kirov Orchestra and Orchestre de Paris, along with several international choirs and world-class soloists in an unprecedented performance of Beethoven's 9th Symphony. No display has ever matched that scope, and only a figure as respected and persuasive as Bernstein could pull that off.

    Pat Riley has just accomplished a similar feat in the NBA. In what was the greatest free agent class in all the NBA's star-studded years, Riley managed to bring not one, not two, but the top three free agents to the same team.  LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are regarded as two of the best three players in the world (top two in my opinion), and then they add the immensely talented Chris Bosh (if he was obscured before, he will be no longer).  This is an NBA super-team more talented than any in the modern era.

    Forget whether LeBron shamed himself, whether the Heat are worth hating or whether this is good for the NBA; Miami is now the prohibitive favorite to win the NBA title, and it astounds me how many so-called "experts" fail to see what should be obvious. This is no regular Big Three. LeBron and Wade are too athletic for single coverage, both excellent defenders (that seems to be lost on people, somehow?) and freakishly good passers. This is the modern-day Dream Team, on an actual NBA squad.

    The argument against? "They don't have role players." First of all, this team is talented enough to get by with mediocre complements. Secondly, the team WILL have role players. Mike Miller and Udonis Haslem are already on the way. More are coming. Would you ever doubt Pat Riley after he pulled off this coup? Riley is Bernstein. Riley can recruit in ways previously unthinkable.

    The question should not be whether this team wins an NBA title. The proper question is whether they can surpass the Bulls' 72-win season, featuring Jordan, Pippen and Rodman. With the right parts and limited injuries, this group can do it.

    Vegas knows how to pick a favorite. Gamblers don't mess around. Miami is already the odds-on champion in Vegas, and expect those numbers to get even more lopsided as the team gets constructed.

    The Miami Heat will be the 2011 NBA Champions, and I'm not really going out on a limb to state what should be clear as day -- for those who disagree, just wait and see.

    0 (0 Ratings)

    A scarlet letter

    Monday, June 14, 2010, 2:44 AM [General]

    College football has been prancing around with a scarlet letter stitched across its chest, as the vast preponderance of fans have been clamoring for Playoffs! Playoffs! Playoffs! (Did somebody say Playoffs??? PLAYOFFS???) Not an "A" for adultery, as Hester Prynne is forced to wear in Hawthorne's Puritan classic, but an "A" for "avarice."

    Fans have wanted a playoff for years now, but school presidents and conference commissioners keep rejecting the proposition, relying on plenty of easy-to-belch excuses. In the meantime, most people assume (rightfully) that money is the real reason, with the welfare of the students and quality of competition secondary concerns.

    In the midst of all this, we suddenly have conference realignment, where schools are leaving one conference in shambles to make more money in another. For a body that throws around the words "best interest" a lot, it has become abundantly clearly what that interest is: monetary.

    Where is respect for tradition now? Never mind that Nebraska -- after joining the Big Ten -- is turning its back on decades of rivalries (don't just blame Nebraska. Blame the Big Ten and all the other schools that showed John Edwards-like faithfulness throughout these proceedings). I thought college sports were supposed to be about something greater than wins and losses, dollars and cents. This whole charade has been pretty disheartening.

    The only good thing that could come of this is a de facto playoff system. If the structure evolves into four super conferences of 16 teams each (say the Pac 10, Big  Ten, SEC and Big East/ACC), then you could have four conference championship games to drop from eight to four teams. Those four conference winners would then play a semifinals and finals. Not the way most visionaries drew it up, but it could very well serve as a suitable alternative.

    Silver lining or not, however, the hypocrisy is unmistakable. There is no such thing as loyalty in the college football universe anymore. As we wish the Big 12 goodbye, we can glance at our university leaders and remark, "there's an A on your chest!" From Puritans to charlatans, they are.

    3.7 (1 Ratings)

    Well done, Nets!

    Thursday, June 10, 2010, 5:10 PM [General]

    General opinion, both locally and nationally, seems to favor the Nets' hiring of Avery Johnson. Going with the grain is not nearly as fun as being a rebel or trailblazer, but the people have spoken correctly. Avery Johnson is a fantastic choice for New Jersey, and I can assure you that Nets fans will be quite happy about it in the coming seasons.

    Johnson brings a full coaching arsenal to the table: he's a decent guy, intelligent, respectful with the media, knows his X's and O's, has had tremendous success, is liked by his players. Seriously, what is not to like about him? Is it his fault that Dwyane Wade became superhuman for four games of the 2005-06 NBA Finals? So what if -- after coaching the Mavericks superbly to a No. 1 seed in the regular season -- they lost to a scorching hot Warriors team with inside information and matchup problems? I don't think Nets fans will be complaining about that again.

    Optimism should be soaring in East Rutherford, Newark, Brooklyn, wherever. Mikhail Prokhorov has been nothing short of perfect since taking over the reins. He clearly knows what he is doing, and his commitment to the team is becoming more evident by the day. Who would believe that such an abysmal season could spawn such reason for hope? Sometimes, one has to reach the abyss before spotting the clouds.

    Prokhorov insists that the Nets will make the playoffs next year, and I believe him. Even without a marquee free agent like LeBron James, the Nets will still attract talent (thanks to Prokhorov), and the young players should only improve under Avery Johnson's wise tutelage. Anyone who watched the games last year could tell you the Nets weren't as bad as their record. Now they will play up to their ever-increasing potential and exceed their would-be record.

    Those games they kept giving away? From now on, that will be something for the other team to worry about.

    Well done, Nets!

    0 (0 Ratings)

    Two cities, in a tale

    Thursday, June 3, 2010, 6:33 PM [General]

    It was the best of times, it was the worst of times

    Surely, the Lakers and Celtics have done far better things and gone to far better places than a mere NBA Finals. 32 times has Madame Fate knitted their names into NBA lore, 17 for the Celtics and 15 for the Lakers.

    By all accounts, the 2009-10 regular season was the best of times for Los Angeles and the worst of times for Boston. The Celts stumbled through the 82-game slog, plummeting to the fourth seed in the East and projected by many to bow out quickly. In the meantime, L.A. was too consumed with celebrity appearances and herbalists to worry about basketball. Kobe Bryant even remarked about the league: "Let them eat cake." (Not true, but did Marie Antoinette say it?)

    Los Angeles 1, Boston 0

    It was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness

    Wisdom would tell you the Lakers should have breezed through the playoffs, but the life of a Marquis would no longer suit them. Oklahoma City pushed them severely in the first round, nearly sending things to a who-knows-what Game 7.

    If the tale of Sydney Carton tells us anything, sometimes a "fool" can be quite wise. Few could have predicted a sudden resurgence, but Boston was, indeed, recalled to life once the postseason began.
     
    Los Angeles 1, Boston 1

    It was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity

    Both of these teams believe in themselves, and neither has spent all that much time confined to an NBA prison. The Celtics, however, have taken incredulity to a new level, essentially faking their funeral for two years before reappearing at the most crucial of moments.

    Boston 2, Los Angeles 1

    It was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness

    How could light not be attributed to the City of Angels? Call it celestial or not, but the sun seems to shine brightly on this charmed city. Just when the guillotine had started to fall, Pau Gasol landed in their laps and a disgruntled Kobe Bryant never looked back. All has been well for the defending champs.

    Boston is a city colder and -- in longitude and personality -- prone to darker intrigues. Even so, such are the places of revolutions, and from within the haze spawns messages of liberty, equality, fraternity and titles.

    Los Angeles 2, Boston 2

    It was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair

    Unlike Dickens, I am not paid by the word. No need for such verbosity here. Boston seems more poised to storm the Bastille. Hence, more hope.

    Boston 3, Los Angeles 2

    We had everything before us, we had nothing before us

    Both of these franchises have had everything, but they will only be satiated when they have nothing left to achieve. The Celtics flaunt their pride like lions, boasting the most rings and the crown when these two teams last met. The Lakers, however, are hungry to erase that unsavory 2008 result. Jackals, they are, and more ferocious they will be.

    Boston 3, Los Angeles 3

    We were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way

    We may not know exactly what happened in Eagle, Colorado, but I don't like Kobe's chances at heaven. In fact, I would say that he is going direct the other way. The love of a woman is what saved Charles Darnay, not a $4 million ring. Off with his head!

    Boston 4, Los Angeles 3

    For a differing take, see this much more practical prediction from the always-articulate LA Observed.

    0 (0 Ratings)

    Page 1 of 3  •  1 2 3 Next