Memorial Day Potpourri
MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND SPORTS POTPOURRI
Is everyone alright out there without any NBA Playoffs during this long Memorial Day Weekend?
No doubt that there's a countless number of pro hoops fans who are getting antsy to start these NBA Finals – the Tuesday night tip time for Game #1 between the Western Conference champion Dallas Mavericks at the Eastern Conference champion Miami Heat is shortly after 9 p.m. ET – but while Dirk and Jason and LeBron and Dwyane and 'C.B.' and friends tune up for what figures to be a thrilling best-of-seven series there's a whole lot of movin'-and-shakin' going on in Commissioner David Stern's kingdom.
We'll get to the chit-chat in just a bit plus we've got some great Major-League Baseball Weekend Notes too but first this key reminder:
Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers get you all the NBA Finals action – that's the Sides & Totals, folks – beginning when the Mavericks and the Heat collide Tuesday night in South Beach. Just remember to call the toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 or go online right here and make sure you're all aboard for the ground-breaking hoops winners. Plus, make sure you stay with us right through the holiday weekend and beyond for all the daily Major-League Baseball winners as well. Go ahead and rock-n-roll your way into this Memorial Day Weekend with lots of winners!
Note the calling times are after 10 a.m. Eastern time (ET) on Saturdays/Sundays and Holidays; after 11 a.m. ET daily for the MLB weekday afternoon games; and after 1 p.m. ET for all the weeknight action in both the NBA and MLB. Got it?
THE NBA REPORT
Okay, so let's clue you in on some of the things not involving the upcoming NBA Finals:
The Houston Rockets shook up the fans in the Lone Star State when they inked Kevin McHale as the team's new head coach – McHale succeeds Rick Adelman – but the $64,000 question is whether or not McHale can succeed here with an always-injured Yao Ming at center (what, he's good for 10 or 15 games a year!) and a wobbly roster that managed to win 43 games in the 2010-11 campaign but that wasn't good enough to secure a playoff berth in the ultra-competitive West.
McHale bungled his way through a lengthy stay in Minnesota as both a general manager and interim head coach and here's a 'thumbs down' for this hire: Maybe McHale will 'relate better' to the younger Rockets players – that's the scuttlebutt coming from Houston and the main criticism of Adelman now that he's been kicked to the curb – but why didn't the Rockets simply wait for these NBA Playoffs to end before naming current Mavs assistant coach Dwane Casey (he's a sure-fire head coach in this league sometime in the next year or two) or else tab Boston Celtics assistant Lawrence Frank (the one-time head coach of the New Jersey Nets and a reputed defensive whiz)? Sorry, Rockets, but this is a step backwards for the franchise with Mr. McHale …
Speaking of new faces in new places, the 'fallout' from the Mike Brown hiring with the Los Angeles Lakers continues – first there was Lakers megastar Kobe Bryant 'not endorsing' the hiring (apparently Kobe was miffed that he was not consulted on the move but that's too darn bad) and now there's some chatter that GM Mitch Kupchak didn't wish to go in this direction but likely preferred Lakers assistant coach Brian Shaw to get the job. The thing about Brown is that he already had an infamous fallout with LeBron James in Cleveland and clearly was scapegoated for the Cavs' playoff failures last year (when it was King James that went into the proverbial tank) and now everyone is jumping for conclusions that he'll buck heads with Bryant.
The truth is Brown may not remind anyone of a modern-day Red Auerbach but he does bring a new enthusiasm to the Lakers' organization and he's not likely to put up with the bellyaching likes of Ron Artest or Andrew Bynum and so don't at all be surprised if one or both of these guys are 'gonzo' by the time Lakers' training camp opens in October.
BASEBALL NEWS & NOTES
Hey, let's get you some numbers that jumped out at us as they pertained to some weekend results:
7 – Philadelphia Phillies LHP Cole Hamels copped his seventh win of the 2011 season (against two losses) in a come-from-behind 5-2 win against the New York Mets at Citi Field on Saturday night. The truth is barely a peep's been heard this year about Hamels who struck out 10 batters and didn't walk a soul in a seven-inning stint that saw him allow just two runs on seven hits. The Phillies are now 9-2 in games started by Hamels who's only blemish in this game was the fact he allowed the Mets to swipe five bases. Note that Hamels should get his next start on Friday night in Pittsburgh …
20 – Can it truly be possible that Toronto Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista already has 20 home runs even before he gets to Memorial Day? The Blue Jays classy rightfielder – who happens to be sporting a .353 batting average at press time – may only have 35 RBI to go along with that MLB-leading home run total but his three-run dinger on Saturday was key en route to a 9-8 win that took 14 innings. Maybe the so-called 'steroid era' is a thing of the past but Bautista could well be on his way to a 70-home run season and remember he'll be taking lots of at-bats this year at Fenway Park in Boston, in Camden Yards in Baltimore and at Tropicana Field in Tampa Bay. Hmmm …
0 – Say it ain't so that Colorado Rockies RHP Ubaldo Jimenez still has zero wins at this stage of the current campaign. Yes, Jimenez was last year's National League All-Star starting pitcher (note he was 10-1 while entering June a year ago with an 0.75 ERA) but right now the kid is absolutely lost and his 0-5 record and bloated 5.86 ERA is no fluke. Jimenez surrendered 6 runs and 12 hits in six innings of work in Friday's 10-3 home loss to the St. Louis Cardinals. Maybe the best thing Jimenez said following this latest rotten start was that he is 'not going to be looking back'. That's good 'cause he sure wouldn't like what he's seen in the rear view mirror.
NOTE: Get our NBA Finals Preview in the next edition of Jim Sez.