There is a ridiculous amount of stuff going on today, so let’s not waste any time:
For a second there last night I thought I was going to look like a genius with the Nelson Cruz pick in the Home Run Derby. It wasn’t as exciting as it has been some years, but it was still an interesting way to spend a few hours. I was impressed with Fielder – I frankly didn’t think that a guy that massive would have the stamina required to win the marathon that the Derby is. I was also surprised by how little Pujols had to show for himself in the event. I thought he would rise more under the pressure for his hometown fans. I’m sure glad I didn’t get sucked into backing him.
Huge summer league debut for Blake Griffin yesterday against the Lakers – 27 points and 12 rebounds. The summer leagues don’t really mean much, and he wasn’t exactly facing top level competition in this first outing, but it was still an impressive outing – one that must have made David Stern, sitting front and center for the game, giddy. Griffin also showed off a neat new trick – a three point shot. If he gets that developed until it is reliable then it could really be something to see. A couple other players had nice games, too – Eric Gordon for the Clippers and Adam Morrison for the Lakers. It would be very nice to see Morrison settle into a role and finally make a name for himself at this level. Gordon is ridiculously talented, and I expect him to really start to flourish now that he has the ultimate pressure-reliever on his side.
You would have to have a really, really good reason – or a death wish – to bet on anyone other than Griffin to be rookie of the year. Not only is he the most NBA ready by far in his class, but he’ll be able and needed to contribute early and often, and the league has a real interest in his success. Other guys could theoretically win it, but it is unquestionably Griffin’s to lose.
Odd, odd move by the Magic yesterday. They matched the Mavs’ five year, $34 million offer for backup center Marcin Gortat. I don’t see how it makes sense to pay a guy that much – especially one who really wanted to move on – to back up a young and healthy superstar. Surely they could have found someone much more affordable who could manage the limited responsibility just fine.
The Devils have gone back to the past. They have hired Jacques Lemaire to be their new coach – the guy who won a Cup at the helm of the team in 1995. Lemaire prefers an incredibly boring defensive style that has been putting people to sleep since 2000 in Minnesota. I can’t be overly critical of this move – Lemaire is solid, and the team certainly could win. Still, the move reeks of desperation and a real lack of creativity. I find it interesting that teams often remember why they hired a coach the first time around, but they forget abut the reasons why they fire him.
We don’t know for sure yet, but Tarvaris Jackson may be the biggest moron on the planet. There are some pretty substantial rumors floating around that the Minnesota QB plans to ask for a trade if the Vikings do the inevitable and sign Brett Favre. Dumb, dumb, dumb. It’s not like Favre is going to be there forever, or even for a long time, so the team is going to need someone new again soon. It would make some sense to leave if Jackson could start somewhere else, but he hasn’t shown enough yet to get a decent shot elsewhere at this point. He’d be much better served by shutting up, being a good citizen, and watching and learning what he can from a hall of famer. If he did that then he’d be right in line to take over when Favre goes back into his next temporary retirement.
Karma can, as they say, be a bitch. That’s the lesson that Lane Kiffin is learning in Tennessee before he has even coached a game. He’s done more to alienate his peers and competitors in a short time than anyone would have ever guessed possible. Someone out there is taking note and making him pay for it. He’s already lost promising freshman running back Toney Williams for the year to ACL surgery. Now, senior receiver Austin Rogers has suffered the same fate. Rogers was pencilled in at the top of the receiving depth chart for the team, so this is a real blow – especially when their QB corps needs all the help they can get.