Friday Highlights

There’s a lot going on in the world today, so let’s touch on a bunch of it briefly:

Aroldis Chapman – This is the Cuban left handed pitching savant who defected from the Cuban national team while at a tournament in the Netherlands this week. The hype is huge on this guy – they are calling him the left-handed Stephen Strasburg. He seems to intend to come to the majors, and there will surely be a Dice-K-esque bidding war for his services. There are some strange elements to the story. First, he is being reported as being 21, yet when he pitched at the World Baseball Classic he was listed as 26. He also wasn’t particularly good against major league talent at the WBC – 5.68 ERA in almost seven innings. That’s obviously a small sample size and all, but it gives you reason to at least pause in the face of the hysteria.

Wimbledon – After saying nothing but bad things about American men’s tennis for months, Andy Roddick goes out and makes the final of Wimbledon in convincing fashion today. He’ll get steamrolled by Federer, of course, but he deserves a lot of credit nonetheless, and here I am giving it to him.

Hedo Turkoglu to the Blazers – I love this deal. The Blazers add another established piece, and Turkoglu gets to be a star in a really solid system with serious upside. Now all the team needs is for Oden not to be a total piece of crap. I don’t even think that he has to be a superstar caliber player. He just needs to be solid for this team to be for real. That being said, I’m not holding my breath.

Trevor Ariza to the Rockets
– I love this deal for Houston. Ariza is already pretty good, and he has serious upside. The part that surprises me s that he refused to re-sign with the Lakers because they wouldn’t offer him anything more than the mid-level exception, but then he went ahead and signed with Houston for the same thing. Bizarre. The fascinating sub-text to this one is that theCavs were hot and heavy for both Ariza and Artest, and didn’t manage to land either of them. That won’t make LeBron any more eager to sign long term.

Ron Artest to the Lakers – It’s a serious gamble, but I like it. There is lots of talk about his ability to fit in and get along with Kobe, but I have no concerns about that whatsoever. He’ll do his part to be a pro and contribute on that front. What I am a bit concerned about, though, is whether he can manage to keep his nose clean off the court now that he will be living in the biggest playground in the country.

Phil Jackson – He has confirmed that he will be returning next year, and that he won’t be doing that ridiculous split-coaching idea – him coaching at home, and Rambis on the road. That was the worst idea ever had by anyone, so I am glad they got over that.

Tour de France – It gets started tomorrow. Call me a sentimentalist if you want, but I’m sure not willing to bet against Lance Armstrong.

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