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Friday, January 30, 2009

The Case for The Grizzlies in Seattle

The Grizzlies are for sale. That is no secret. Here is why I think it makes sense for them to end up in Seattle. It is practical and satisfies all the necessary criteria. This does not mean I want the Grizzlies to move or that some ownership group should purchase them under false pretenses, but it just makes sense. Let’s take a look at the case for Seattle.

The ownership group. A Ballmer-based ownership group would be good for the league. They are stable, will be able to ride the recession...not unscathed...but rather unbroken. Ballmer's group has the financial and political resources necessary to make it work in Seattle. They've already offered $75 million towards an arena upgrade which means they are serious.

The Arena; Regardless of it being the flashiest arena in the league - the Seattle Center Coliseum is a viable turn-key arena that can quickly accommodate a team on the fly. Does it need upgrades? Yes. What are they and who determines what is necessary? The City? The league? Schultz could not get an arena deal done because it had just been upgraded less then ten years after he bought the team and Seattle was still paying off two other new ball parks. Bennett didn't want an arena deal done - everyone knows that. In this new landscape the city will be more willing to work with a local ownership group who is already putting up their own money and is no threat of leaving. With the other stadiums debt paid off you can justifiably look to start upgrading the Coliseum - again as part of a total Seattle Center upgrade/expansion.

The Seattle market; Seattle is a top 15 market that supported a basketball team for 41 years. The fans didn't push the team away, Clay Bennett dragged them away. It's logical to assume Seattle would embrace another Sonics team and welcome it back into the fabric of Seattle. It's a large TV market with a built-in basketball fan base.

A politically correct move. After the bitterness of the OKC blunder experiment, the NBA could use some good press. Most writers and fans thought it was a huge mistake to morbidly rip a team away to the dustbowl after 41 years. Returning the Sonics would be a great story. A feel good story. The NBA could use that positive press right now - especially Stern. After witnessing the disaster Bennett unleashed on Seattle and it's fans, who would reject Seattle as a prime relocation site?

The Grizzlies need a new home. The team is floundering in Memphis. Will a local ownership group emerge? So far, none have stepped up. The team would be purchased under the condition and with the sole intention of relocating them to Seattle. There would be no illusions of any kind. The headlines would be "Grizz Sold - Off to Seattle". No hidden agenda. It would be done with support from all sides; from Memphis, Seattle and the NBA. There would be some buyout of the lease - likely negotiated before the team was ever sold. A savvy owner would not walk blindly into that negotiation knowing they are at the mercy of that single issue. The lease can be negotiated and I doubt it would be a hostile situation, like it was in Seattle. Ballmer's group would be rescuing a beleaguered franchise, not hijacking them underhandedly. That will lead to positive negotiating environment.

All emotional arguments aside, this is a practical business move for all involved. It relieves Memphis of the burden and drops it right into the waiting arms of a capable, competent ownership group, a hungry fan base and an expliotable market. There will be no expansion. The NBA has too many teams right now. They've over expanded, and as all businesses must do when hurting financially; they downsize, restructure...or relocate. No one wants to pry a team from the fans of Memphis. Sadly, the league has made it clear those voices do not matter.

Some will even argue that the Grizzlies Northwest roots make Seattle the sentimental favorite for their relocation, and that may be true, but that does not make the case on it's own merit. All the other points make the case and make it a practical one as well.

Let me know your thoughts

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Witnessing the Blunder Live in LA

I witnessed the Blunder live or the first time Friday at the Staples Center in Los Angeles as they played the league's other laughingstock, the Clippers. An interesting experience to say the least.

Sitting next to Clipper celeb, Andy Richter, we watched the Blunder get out of the gate quickly. An athletic team that surged until midway thorugh the third quarter when the Clippers began to dominate. Have you ever seen "Clippers dominate" in print before? Well, there it is.

Clipper rookie Eric Gordon had a career hight 41 points as the Clippers improved to 3-0 lifetime against the Blunder with their 107-104 win on Friday night. Future ex Blunder Kevin Durant went off for a career-high 46 points and 15 rebounds. @4 points were from the free throw line. It was my first opportunity to witness him live and he was impressive. I did see him make a nice block and then throw up an air-ball, so he is human. Nonads and Nick were non-factors.


The Clipps were without, Zach Randolph (left knee), Baron Davis (bruised tailbone) Marcus Camby (left ankle), Chris Kaman (left arch) and Mike Taylor (broken right thumb). The Blunder were at full strength. The Blunder got out of the gate quickly and led at halftime. The Clipps finally overtook them in the third quarter and the Blunder played hard right to the very end, but fell short. A solid effort by the Blunder but a gutsy game by the injury-ravaged Clippers. OKC displayed some solid athleticism but not enough cohesion or size to keep up. While I did not see Clay Bennett there, I could not find a single corn dog in the house - you do the math.

I received several compliments and praise for the Seattle Supersonics shirt I was wearing and it led to a surprising number of conversations - all of them were pro Seattle. The fans that engaged me all said it was ridiculous Seattle didn't have a team and two guys actually had followed the story pretty closely, and they did not think the NBA in OKC was a likely long-term thing. I was in a box most of the game so I didn't mingle in the crowd, but I could hear fans mocking the Blunder name, relentlessly calling the Blunder franchise 'a joke'. When Clipper fans are calling you a joke - you know you are in trouble.

It is all true and nothing was initiated in any way by me.

Blunder, 9-35
Next loss: Monday vs New Jersey.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Super Bowl Smackdown - Wanting the Cards, Taking Steelers

Leaning firmly towards a Pittsburgh victory. Arizona is talented and riding a momentum wave, but so is Pittsburgh. Two weeks off bodes well for Pittsburgh as they can rest - I think it hurts Arizona more, mentally, as they have two weeks of digesting their situation. Edge: Pittsburgh.

Pittsburg rushing game is simply better. They can run when they have to. Arizona is simply not a rushing threat. Wracking up yards against an already-defeated Carolina defense that padded Arizon's stats to give the illusion of an formidable rushing game, simply is not a good gage of reality. Edgerrin can run the ball aptly but has not struck fear into anyone in years. Not a knock on him - he's simply an older back clearly on the downside of his career. Pittsburgh has better line play and is more likely to be able to grind out yards when necessary. edge: Pittsburgh.

The Cardinals are a passing team. Clearly their biggest weapon is Fitz, and I fully expect Pittsburgh to scheme accordingly, putting a safety on him at the line and bumping him to slow his progress into secondary, where another corner will be waiting to pick him up. They'll likely look to pressure Warner into throwing quickly with creative blitz packages and pass rushes. Slowing Fitz down and speeding up the throwing process will lessen Fitz's down-field contributions, at least in theory.

If I am Arizona, I expect Pittsburgh to try and nullify Fitz, therefore Az will counter scheme to include Boldin, Arrington, Urbane more with underneath routes to lull the defense. This should more create one-on-one coverage situations with them - opening up big play potential while Fitz is being used as a decoy to tie up two secondary players for Pittsburgh.

Warner vs Roethlisberger will be an over-hyped story line. if Pittsburgh can blitz successfully they will nullify Warner. Same with Arizona - they will have to frustrate ben into making mistakes - but it'll be tougher because Pittsburgh has a stronger run game to rely on. The run game gives Ben a slight edge. They always get a trick play, use a creative playbook when necessary, and Ben doesn't make many mistakes. Their ace in the holes will be the runnng game and the short passing game featuring Heath Miller.

Arizona's defense is playing well, but their take-away ratio was dramatically bloated because of Jake Delhomme's random five-interception nightmare. That is not the norm for them at all - so do not be fooled by short-term stat bloating. They could hold Pittsburgh's offense in check, but the Steelers will eventually get some points.

Pittsburgh will win this because it will be a low scoring head knocking game - and that is where they flourish. Arizona can definitely win this game - if they can win the turnover battle and contol the clock effectively. They are a talented team for sure, but I expect Pittsburgh to be more mentally prepared and ready.

Pittsburgh 23 - 16.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Heat Cash Reality Check; Blunder Streak Over!

There would be no streamers in OKC tonight, only corndog wrappers and the fetid stench of failure as the Blunder lost to Miami, 104-94 on Sunday. A 'sold-out' crowd watched the Blunder's amusing two-game winning streak, their longest since Clayton I. Bennett moved The former Super Sonics to the 45th largest market from the 12th, comes crashing to a halt. Perhaps the "I" stands for 'into another losing streak we go!'

The Miami Heat ended a grueling 12-day seven-game road trip with a win at Congressional Bailout Center as Dwyane Wade unleashed 32 points ten assists and three blocks as the short-handed Heat head home with a 22-18 record.

Future ex-Blunder Kevin Durant had 31 points in 46 minutes, another heavy-minutes night for him. Earl Watson had 2 points in 24 minutes, Nonads Krystac went 3-9, while Westbrook and Mason contributed four turnovers to lead the Blunder low-lights. Bennett pitched in with four corndogs and a mustard stain on his Blunder 'excellence' polo. He did not receive a discount on said polo.

Blunder; 8-34, 19.5 games back.
Next loss; Wednesday vs Golden State.

Memphis; dnp, (11-28, 15 games back) vs. Detroit Monday.

New Orleans dnp, (24-13, one game back) vs. Indiana Monday

New Jersey dnp, (19-22, 13.5 games back) vs. New Orleans Wednesday.

More Corndogs! More Losses! More Blunder!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Lopez Nets Career-Highs, Blunder Nets League-High 33rd Loss

Brooke Lopez' career-high 31 points and 13 rebounds led the Nets over the Blunder on Monday, 103-99. Not to be overshadowed by Lopez' performance, the Blunder flaunted their league-leading 33 losses and Clay Bennett flaunted his league-leading appetite for corndogs.

Future ex-Blunder Kevin Durant led OKC with 26 points and nine rebounds in 48 hard minutes. Nick Collison had six fouls, Desmond Mason five turnovers, Jeff Green went 4-15 and Kyle Weaver had two points in 16 minutes to lead the Blunder low lights.

More Blunder by-the-numbers;

1 - Blunder's longest win streak.
2 - Blunder road wins - worst in the league!
6 - Blunder wins - leading the league...in fewest.
14 - January 14 - next scheduled Blunder loss, vs. Utah
19.5 - Games out of first
33 - Blunder losses - leads the league.
55 - Dollars for The Blunder 'excellence' polo; Leads the league in oxymorons.
717,142,948 - laughs the public enjoyed when the Blunder's Doritos-inspired logo was unveiled - another league record!

More Corndogs! More losses! More Blunder!

New Orleans Hornets: 22-12, one game back of the Spurs
Memphis Grizz: 11-26, 13.5 game back of the Spurs

Monday, January 12, 2009

Too Much Pennsylvania! Forecasting a Pitt/Philly Superbowl

Yep - going with the fav's here, Pittsburgh vs Philly for an all-Pennsylvania Super Bowl. I now dread the painful marketing and promotions we will have to suffer through as a result. Ben vs Donovan, yada, yada, yada.

Pittsburgh vs: Baltimore:
Pittsburgh has a stout defense, experience all over, a veteran QB and an offense that makes plays. They have a creative playbook and know when and how to use it effectively. The tight-end play from Heath Miller will make a difference vs Baltimore's stingy defense and their consistantly productive play-action pass will ultimately lead to big plays and a Pittsburgh win at home. If Baltimore stacks the line to shut down the run, Pitt's verticle passing game is likely to make some big plays eventually. Baltimore could pull this off, but out of the two games I feel the strongest about a Pittsburgh win at home. Pittsburgh's experience and opportunistic offensive makes them my pick over a very formidable Baltimore team.

Arizona vs. Philadelphia.
This is the more intriguing match-up. Arizona has something they haven't had in 40 years; no I'm not referring to a deep playoff run, I mean confidence. They've got tons of talent, solid coaching, a Super Bowl experienced quarterback and arguable the most feared receiver in the NFC right now in Larry Fitzgerald. Their defense embarrassed Jake Delhomme at carolina. Rarely is the word embarrassed used and it's not referring to the Cardinals. Confidence. And they get to host the NFC Championship game. If you picked them at the beginning of the season to reach the NFC title game, and you weren't joking, I need your opinions on some stocks I'm thinking of buying. I think they have the talent to get past Philly, but expect the Eagles experience, swagger and physical defense to win out.

Philly knocked out the Giants in NY, mimicking their run last year; by riding the defense and winning on the road. Two years in a row an NFC East team does it. I like Philly's chances here and expect their game to be to contain Fitz, play ball control and get Westbrook out into space to make plays. However, this is a perfect opportunity for Arizona to strike quickly and early, feeding of of the crowd and adrenaline, which could make McNabb force throws, resulting in mistakes. I expect Philly to be more confident and stout on defense and wins a low scoring game in the desert. But don't rule out the cards if they score early and get momentum.Arizona in the Super Bowl? If they can ride their wave of confidence and offensive power, they can.

Super Bowl: Pitt over Philly 29-16

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Blunder Bumbles By the Numbers

1 disasterous season in OKC.
2 point loss to Houston on Friday.
5 "wims' in 37 games.
7 letters in 'corndog', the unofficial team slogan; 'More Corndogs, More Losses, More Blunder!'
12 - Seattle's tv market size, which Bennett and the NBA left for the 45th tv market.
19.5 games out of first place.
32 OJ, Franco, Brown, Marcus, Magic, Malone, Minnesota (32nd state), germanium (32nd element) FDR, Blunder losses.
41 Years in Seattle.
55 dollars for the Blunder "excellence" polo on their website - the worst team in the league, charging the highest price in the league, calling it excellent, thereby putting the moron in oxymoron.
1.1 billion - losses, in dollars, by Blunder owner Aubrey McLendon in the Market crash.

Blunder 5-32, last place.
Next loss: Satuday vs. Chicago.
More Corndogs! More Losses! More Blunder!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Baskin/Robbins: 31 Flavors, OKCBlunder: 31 Losses!

Another attempt to mimic pop-culture-by-the-numbers in OKC? The Blunder continue their quest into infamy as the three-legged Timberwolves mauled them on Wednesday night, 129-87. The Blunder are the first team in 2009 to reach the 31-loss plateau. The 42-point loss was also a personal high for Bennett's Blunder after relocating to OKC. Perhaps it will pursuade Bennet to rethink the 'excellence' label on the Blunder Polo shirt, or to lower the absurd $55 price tag.

Minnesota wom (yes, wom) it's fourth in a row as Randy Foye led six Timberwolves in double-digit scoring with 32 points. Rookie Kevin Love had 16 points and tied a career high with 15 rebounds as Minnesota improved to 10-25 on the season.

Future ex-Blunder Kevin Durant had nine points on a miserable 3-of-13 shooting. Joe Smith had zero points on 0-3 shooting and Earl Watson had three turnovers to lead the Blunder lowlights. Mediocre Russian center Nonads Krstac, acquired to take OKC to the promised land on a budget, made his Blunder debut with six points in 16 minutes. He has yet to make his debut in the Ford Congressional Bailout Center in OKC. The Blunder fell to 5-31 on the season, 0-1 in the Nonads era.

Blunder: 5-31, 19.5 games behind Denver.
Next Loss: Friday vs. Houston.

Memphis update - lost to the Nets 100-89 on Wednesday. OJ Mayo had 26 points and Rudy Gay added 23. Marc Gasol had 10 boards in the losing effort.
Grizz: 11-25, 13 games out of first.
Next game: Friday vs. Toronto.

New Orleans - lost to the Jazz, 116-90 on Wednesday. Chris Paul had 26 points and seven assists.
Hornets: 21-11, second place, one game behind San Antonio.
Next game - Friday vs. Clippers.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Oh No, It's Cinco!

As in Five Wims! The Blunder continued their dominance of the NBA on Tuesday night as they held off the lifeless Knicks, 107-99. Clearly the Knicks are still hungover from the blunder that was the Isaiah Thomas administration. Or perhaps they were drained from seeing Blunder highlights in their Knick tribute uniforms. Oh wait, that can't be it...what Blunder highlights? New York fell to 13-20.

Future ex-Blunder Kevin Durant led OKC with 27 points and 12 rebounds in 46 minutes. Joe Smith had six fouls in 20 minutes while Robert "Notso" Swift had zero points in 12 minutes of uneventful play. No confirmation on the rumor he's out getting a celebratory "Five Wims!" tattoo.

The Blunder are the first NBA team this season to reach five wins (while having 30 losses). Another reason to celebrate in OKC.

Blunder record: 5-30, last place, 18.5 games back.
Next loss: Wednesday at Minnesota.
Blunder excellence polo: $55.

Possible Franchise Relocation Updates:

Memphis: The Grizz lost to Minnesota 94-87 on Tuesday. Hakim Warrick scored 22 points, OJ Mayo had 20 points and eight boards and Marc Gasol had 13 points.

Record: 11-24, last place, 12.5 games behind San Antonio.
Next game: Wednesday vs. New Jersey

New Orleans: Davis West had 40 points and 11 rebounds and Chris Paul added 32 points and 15 assists as the Hornets beat the Lakers (27-6) 116-105 on Tuesday. Kobe Bryant led LA with 39 points.

Hornets: 21-10, second place, 1.5 games out of first behind San Antonio.
Next game: Wednesday at Utah.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Ohio State - Finding Ways to Blunder.

Another chance to shine for OSU, and another blunder. After last years thrashing at the hands of LSU in the Sugar Bowl, I was skeptical about Ohio State getting yet another BCS bowl invitation. A storied program gaining a rep as a team that can't win the big one. They arrived with a chance a redemption, and left falling 16 seconds short. Tressel cannot seem to get them over the hump.

A slow first half erupted into an improbable barn-burner in the final three minutes as Ohio State scored a td with 2:07 to play. As Ohio State prepared to celebrate the monkey officially off it's back, Colt McCoy cooly led the Longhorns 78 yards in 1:42, hitting Quan Cosby on a 26-yard strike for the 24-21 win.

Where does that leave Ohio State? Underachievers? Over-rated? As expected? They held a supposedly potent Texas attack to 24 points, so they deserve some credit, but are they really BCS-Bowl-worthy? They lost the last two BCS Championship games in blowouts, yet won their previous three bowl (two of them Fiesta Bowls)games, so it's an interesting situation. They lose this year in the last second. How long do they get to ride the coattails of their past glory into BCS Games? They never seem to come up big when it counts. Ok, they did win it all in 2002, but Tony Dungy gets ridiculed for only winning one Super Bowl. Tressell's teams just seem to come up short in the big games. I guess in Columbus, 7-1 vs Michigan is called 'job security.'

Saturday, January 3, 2009

OT: Looking Forward to the Mora Era

As much as I appreciate the Holmgren years, I am looking forward to the Mora regime. Holmy seemed too often checked out, predictable, and lorded over the team in a lackluster manner - it translated to an ill-prepared an substandard product on the field. In no way do I believe it was intentional, simply human nature. You do the same routine for too long and you lose your edge and focus on the field and other coaches know how to prepare against you better. That seemed obvious this season. Seattle was outcoached and outplayed in many games. We all knew to expect the third down draw play. I'd love him back as a GM as he is a great football mind and a great person, a definite asset to Seattle.

Why am I looking forward to Mora?

The end of complacency. Let's face it; Seattle was complacent. They showed no new offensive or defensive wrinkles and no real innovation or forward progress in any area. Predictability will get you many losses in the NFL.

New coordinators. John Marshall will be replaced and that is a long time coming. Seattle's defense never recovered from the loss of Ray Rhodes. Marinelli, if hired, would create an exciting, aggressive, lights-out approach - one that is sorely needed and an upgrade. OFFENSE: It's possible Jim Zorn could come back to Seattle and I love the idea of him being the offensive coordinator. I believe his time in D.C. is directly related to the availability of a high profile hire that Dan Snyder will need to force Zorn out. He would be a force as Seattle's O-coordinator. He'd be coming home and would be very motivated. He was a knee jerk hire by Snyder and his true ability to shine will be as Seattle's o-coordinator.

Conditioning. Seattle was absurdly injury prone and had little second half wind leading me to believe this team was not in peak physical form. Holmgren was probably hands-off in this department, expecting players to take care of business on their own...and rightfully so. Mora will demand more in this area.

Accountability - Endless missed blocking assignments, blown coverages, horrible defensive scheming an a predictable offense, and no real indication of any personal accountability for those failures. Mora will re-instate that.

Fundamentals. Mora will bring back fundamental football. Basic blocking, tackling skills, missing most of last season, will be reinstated. This team lacked fundamentals last season.

Michael Vick factor. The possibility of Vick as a Seahawk will emerge because of his ties to Mora. Vick, the athlete, on the roster as a back-up qb is an intriguing possibility. Seattle needs help at QB and reeiver and a superior athlete like Vick in those roles opens up some intriguing possibilities. Vick will play somewhere, regardless of people's emotional reaction to him. He has done his time and there is no reason he should not be allowed to earn a living at what he is good at. Playing in isolated Seattle would be a good move for him and he could likely be had on the cheap. Huge potential upside, minimal downside. I doubt the franchise goes after him, but Vick in the Wildcat formation or as a receiver is a very intriguing idea.

Fire, intensity and inspired football are what I expect from Mora. He's a local and that translates to a little more hometown pride. I am looking forward to seeing a coach who looks like he wants to be there. Holmy did all he could on the sidelines and brought much to this franchise we should all be very thankful for. But in the end he just seemed bored and set in his ways. It hurt he team as other teams were able to counter-scheme against this team easily. Some of those ways needed changing (third down draw). Now it's Mora's turn. I think he'll do well.