Monday, January 30, 2006

Please Paul, Don't Hurt 'Em

I still feel like crap. I'm about ready to ditch my faith in modern medicine and find a nice apothecary who sells leaches and gall from a castrated boar for my ailments. In the meantime, there's been a lot of talk in the OregonLive Blazer forum about the article pertaining to Paul Allen and his recent success with the Seahawks ownership, and conversely, his recent lack of success with the Trail Blazers. Just because a guy doesn't state categorically that he won't sell the team doesn't necessarily mean that he intends on jumping ship. Besides, after the SeaChickens get rocked by Pittsburgh this Sunday, Paul is going to be happy that he's got another team to follow, even if it is the lowly Blazers.

In more important news, the Blazers continue their road trip (which didn't get off to such a great start) with Mac-10's first trip back to Seattle since taking the money and running to our fair Portland. It's got to feel good for Nate to see the Sonics struggling like they are, though they have been playing better ball since Weiss got shitcanned. With any luck, the "Red and Black Attack" will realized the significance this game has for Nate and give it the old college try, or in the case of this team, the old high school try. The game's on KGW, so I'll get to watch it while consuming an elixir consisting of guano, eye of newt, and lemur urine. I wish those Wicca’s could find tastier ingredients.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Third World

I'm not feeling well, and the game last night didn't help things. After leading for almost the whole game, the Blazers allowed Greg Bukner of all people to push the Nuggets to a 97-94 win at the Garden last night. Is it just me, or do the Blazers almost always get pummeled in the third quarter of games, especially the games they lose? Last night, they got outscored 24 to 15 in the third. That's weak. In the loss to Dallas on Sunday, they got outscored 26 to 19 in the third. Double weak. In the loss to Miami on the 8th, they got outscored 34 to 20, not that the win was ever in doubt for the Heat in that one. Something about that third quarter. After doing a little number crunching, I've found that I'm not crazy. So far this year, the Blazers have scored 938 points in the first quarter, 922 in the second quarter, 803 in the third, and 855 in the fourth. That's a pretty big drop off coming out of halftime. And on top of that, of the 40 games played this year, the Blazers have been outscored in the third quarter 24 times. Finally, the Blazers have scored their lowest point total of the game during the third quarter in 35% of their games this year. Can't the trainer give the team a B-12 shot during the halftime pep talk or something?

In the not-so-old days, I would have attributed it to some of the guys doing bong rips during halftime, but I'm pretty sure Nate doesn't fall for the "it helps my glaucoma" line like Mo Cheeks did.

Monday, January 23, 2006

All Good Things...

A nice effort by the Blazers last night, though it's always hard to come up short in overtime. Dallas has turned into one of the premier teams in the NBA, so it's no great shame for a team like the Trail Blazers to lose to them. Still, having not beaten the Mavericks in over two years stings, especially with a loud-mouth shmuck like Mark Cuban at the helm.

If Steve Blake keeps improving like he has, I figure he'll be the league MVP in 2 years. I'm so ashamed of doubting you Steve. Please forgive me.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Theo Passes Math, Fails English.

While perusing today, I came across an interesting game in the "Fun Files" section of the site. It seems that Wyoming grad and energy drink mogul Theo Ratliff has his own "Math Challenge." While I was using my fingers to add 17+11, I noticed that the title at the top of the page read "Theos' Math Challenge." Of course, even I know that it should read "Theo's Math Challenge." No big deal. I then proceeded to read more of the question, the next line stating "TRAILBLAZERS vs. L.A Lakers" which is weird, because I could have swore that "Trail Blazers" is two words. And there are usually two dots when abbreviating Los Angeles as L.A.
Well, whatever. It was the next line that really confused me, as it reads "Sabastian Telfair scored 17 points and Shareef Abdur-Rahim scored 11 points." For crying out loud, you can't spell the name of one of your own players correctly? Does Sebastian know? Are the Blazers trying to teach math at the detriment of spelling and grammar? I know that a tech guy like Paul Allen would probably prefer to steer children to a life of math and science, but come on Paul, language arts are important too.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Proving Your Worth in Fort Worth

Our boys have been on a tear of late, winning three in a row, the last two coming against Orlando on Friday and Cleveland on Sunday. What a weekend. Those three wins, coupled with Houston losing there last five, means that Portland no longer retains the distinction of last place team in the Western Conference. Hold your heads high. Ruben Patterson more than anyone has been the key to this mini-streak of wins, playing great defense, providing a post presence on offense other than Zach, and being an all-around good guy. I'm still of the opinion that Ruben needs to be traded, but every game that he provides a spark off the bench and acts uncharacteristically unselfish weakens the resolve of my distain for the Rube. The way I see it, Ruben has more value now than he's ever had, making the likelihood of Nash getting something decent in return greater by the day.

The big news, though, is that Martell Webster and Sergei Monia have been relegated to the Fort Worth Flyers, Portland's (and a few other teams) D-league affiliate. Martell and Sergei will joins hoops luminaries like Deji Akindele, Kelenna Azubuike, and Vonteego Cummings, who, according to his bio, was born in 1976, but played his college ball at Pittsburgh through 1999, making him a 25 year-old rookie. You don't see that much anymore. I think the move will benefit a guy like Sergei, who's already been around the European block, but a kid like Martell, who is somewhat of a grandmamma's boy, might have a hard time transitioning to another locale, again. So, which hopes of easing the transition from life in Portland to life in Fort Worth, I've provided some tips on things to do in the town whose biggest claim to fame is as an American Airlines hub.

  • Fort Worth is home of the Cowtown Coliseum, which was the home of the first indoor rodeo. Someone might need to explain to Sergei what exactly a rodeo is. For that matter, maybe someone should brief Martell on the subject as well. I'm sure Vonteego could show them the ropes. If there's a better Friday night venue for a 19 year-old Seattle native and a 22 year-old Russian than an indoor rodeo, then I've never heard of it.
  • The White Elephant Saloon was named "One of the Best 100 Bars in America" by Esquire Magazine, and was once featured on Walker, Texas Ranger staring the great Chuck Norris! Tell me that doesn't kick ass. I guess they have a lot of cowboy hats too, which is one of my personal criteria for a good bar. Of course, Martell isn't of age yet, but I'm sure Vonteego could hook him up with a fake ID. Unfortunately, they already missed the Jake Ingram CD release party, which I know really bummed Sergei out, but I'm sure he'll be back when his next CD drops.
  • But there's more to do in Fort Worth than drink beer and watch grown men fight with livestock. According to the Fort Worth Convention and Visitors Bureau, Fort Worth is "the museum capitol of the southwest," which is one of the most hotly contested distinctions in the cut-throat world of museum classifications. Martell and Sergei can learn all about the exciting history of commercial aviation at the American Airlines C.R. Smith Museum, check out some dirty pictures drawn by Picasso at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, and for the non-traditional cowboy enthusiast (I think both Marty and Sergei fall into this category), there are the National Cowboys of Color Museum and Hall of Fame and the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame. So if Martell and Sergei thought that only white men were dumb enough to fight livestock, they've got another thing coming.

I'm sure this demotion comes as a bitter pill for both Martell and Sergei (whom I think we should consider calling "S&M" during their stints in Fort Worth), but I think it's best for both of them to look on the bright side. It surely rains less in Fort Worth, Dallas is just a short drive down Interstate 20, and you're sure to have an easier time finding one of those Cadillac’s with a bull horn hood ornament than you would here in Oregon. I think S&M will kick some serious ass for the Flyers, and come back to Portland better for the experience. Good luck guys, and watch out for Vonteego.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

How Sweet It Is

There's no better way to end a six game losing streak than to beat the Lakers while denying Kobe his precious statistical milestones, and getting Chalupas for the first time this year. That, my friends, is a trifecta worth noting in this season of less-than-notable events. If it wasn't the best game of the year for the Blazers, it was certainly the most enjoyable. Stevie, Rube, and Juan all had stellar games. The team as a whole shot 52.4% from the field and 75.9% from the free-throw line, which are both well above the season average. And as the old man said, the Blazers are 3 for 3 on bobblehead nights, which begs the question: "When is the Ha bobblehead night?"

Of course, there was the requisite controversy (if you could call it that) before the game, which entailed Zach being late for shoot around for the 4th time. His punishment was losing his starting job to Theo "Don't Bring That Weak Stuff in Here Chris Mihm" Ratliff, but lighting quick foul trouble caused the punishment to last about a minute. Personally, I don't understand the hardass stance on tardiness, but I guess rules are rules. Some pundits would rather the Blazers lose and make a point than win and allow a late arrival for shoot around to be what it really is; not a big deal. So I've come up with a solution that I think is fair and implementable. I'm going to look into getting Z-Bo studio apartment next to the Rose Garden, not because it pisses me off that he's late, but because I'm tired of reading articles and blog entries about what a worthless near-do-good Zach is because he shows up 5 minutes late. We could set him up a nice cot, maybe a few folding chairs, a nice accent rug, you know, make it nice and homey. If you're willing to kick in, let me know.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Travis Tells All

Soon to be bobbleheaded Trail Blazer Travis Outlaw sat down for an online rap session with fans yesterday, and hot damn, did he dish some dirt! Sometimes it's hard to get athletes to open up, as every word they say is often scrutinized by fans and media alike, but Trav threw caution to the wind and told it like it really is. Take this juicy tidbit for example (all questions and answers are presented in their entirety):

Tom (Salem): Travis, what was the hardest thing to get used to the life of being an NBA player?

Travis Outlaw: I can't really say, it hasn't been a problem.

Finally, a player admits that being in the NBA is nothing but sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows. So for all of you kids out there who were considering a life in the NBA but were concerned about the rigors of finding a good personal chef; take heart. Travis says it ain't that hard.

But what about strategy Travis? Everyone knows that Trav is one of the premiere tacticians in the NBA, and much of what he does mentally on the court is way over my head, but please Trav, give us a little taste of the complex cat and mouse that takes place on the court when playing a guy like, oh I don't know, Kobe Bryant:

Elyse, Santa Barbara: You guys host the Kobe and the Lakers tomorrow night. What are you going to do to try to end his hot streak?
Travis Outlaw: I'm just gonna try and be aggressive and stay in front of him.

Whoa Travis, slow down a bit. Some of us aren't versed in the intricacies of defensive theory in the NBA. And could you spell "aggressive" please?

But Travis, what about the other guys on the team. Some have criticized this team for being lazy and playing without heart, but we only get to see the games. Does that carry over into practices?

Chris (Hillsboro): Who is the hardest working player in practice?

Travis Outlaw:
Hmmm. I don't know, everybody works hard.

Hmmm is right Travis. I just assumed that no one was working hard in practice. Shows what I know. Any other juicy tidbits about the rest of the guys?

Ervin P.R: Hi Travis.Who is the funiest guy of the Trail Blazers?

Travis Outlaw: Zach.

Oh no you didn't! You better watch your back Outlaw. When word gets back to Zach, there's going to be trouble. You just don't call a player out like that without some sort of repercussion. If you got beef with someone, you keep out of the media Travis.

But what about Travis Outlaw, the real person. So many athletes try to put on a front, but I've got a feeling that Travis is different. What makes Travis Outlaw the beautiful snowflake that he is?

beaverton: what do u like to do on your free time? do u get much free time?

Travis Outlaw: I play my Playstation and go to the mall in my free time.

Fascinating. It's great to see a man in the tough guy, testosterone fueled NBA really open up and show us another side. But Travis, how are we to know that you're not one of those twinkle toed, show tune singing, face washers?

Brandon(Flint): What's your favorite pregame meal?

Travis Outlaw: Steak and potatoes with vegetables on the side.

Meat and potatoes. Now that's a man's meal, though the whole "vegetables on the side" part still sounds a little metro-sexual.

Well, I feel like I know Travis a whole lot better now than I did before the interview. Some guys think they have to give multi-sentence answers to articulate a point, but not Travis. He gets straight to the crux, without all the unnecessary expansion of salient issues that so many other interviews are cluttered with. Hopefully none of those unscrupulous media-types are going to misconstrue any of his comments. It would be a shame if other athletes clammed up after seeing Travis get drug though the mud for keeping it real.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Crowd Shows Up,Team Doesn't

A crowd of over 18,000 gathered at the Rose Garden last night to watch the Trail Blazers take on the Miami Heat, only there was one problem: The Blazers never showed up. In an act of generosity, Pat Riley conceded to allow the scoreboard to read 118-89 at the end of the practice scrimmage the Heat ran in place of a game.

"I mean, we flew all the way out here," Riley said. "I figured we might as let these Portland fans see Shaq and Dwayne do their stuff, at least in a limited capacity."

"Shaq came ready to play," bloviated O'Neal, referring to himself in the third person. "Shaq usually don't mind a night off, but when Shaq has to leave the sunny beaches of Miami for this wet-ass Portland, it makes Shaq angry and ready to ball on someone's damp ass. Shaq could have spent this time shooting a 24-Hour Fitness commercial. Shaq no like inefficiency."

Many of the Blazer players were also surprise that they hadn't made an appearance, leading some to wonder if a rift had occurred in the space/time continuum.

"I studied some quantum physics at Michigan State," mentioned ex-Spartan and noted thinker Zach Randolph, "but I never totally bought into the whole contention that time is infinite and interchangeable, but now I'm starting to think that maybe I am a butterfly dreaming I'm a 20 and 10 power forward, rather than a 20 and 10 power forward dreaming that I'm a butterfly. I guess you just can't trust your subconscious mind sometimes."

"Geez, I thought I was there," stated a confused Juan Dixon, "but you can't argue with so many eye-witness accounts. It kind of reminds me of that movie Lost Highway, you know, when Balthazar Getty ends up in jail and that weird guy who kind of looks like Dennis Hopper keeps showing up at parties. I don't think I ever understood that movie until tonight. Existentialism is confusing, that's for sure."

Some of the Portland fans stayed to watch the Heat run the three man weave and some baseline to baseline shuttle runs, but eventually, most of the 18,032 fans left early for various reasons.

"Seeing those guys play Hot Potato and having contests to see who could slap the highest on the backboard really took me back to my old high school playing days," remarked Ben Templeton, an electrician from Hillsboro. "I wish they would have let me try a few times. I know I could out jump Jason Kapono."

"I probably would have stayed, seeing as I coach my daughter's park and rec team," remarked Tina Harmon of Forest Grove, "but I'm pretty sure there's a new episode of The Simpson's on tonight. Sure, it's not as funny as it use to be, but it has its moments."

"I bought courtside seats and stayed up all night making this sign." pouted Shlomo Merkelstein of North Portland, holding up a sign reading 'How Much Fat Could A Fat Shaq Stack If A Fat Shaq Could Stack Fat?' "I even violated the rules of the Sabbath last night, and for what? To see the Heat practice in bounding and boxing out? I was really going to get into Shaq's head, and now all of my efforts are for naught. I'm done with coming to the games for good. Fool Shlomo once, shame on you. Fool Shlomo twice, shame on me. I feel like such a schlemiel."

Coach Nate McMillan seemed indifferent to the situation.

"Come on people," read a statement sent by Coach McMillan, which was postmarked from Bermuda, "what did you think was going to happen anyway? Sure, we could have taken the court and given it our all, but does anyone think the outcome was going to be any different? Let's get honest with ourselves here. Sometimes not attending a scheduled game is part of the rebuilding process."

No word yet on whether or not Coach McMillan and the rest of the Blazers plan on attending the game on Wednesday versus the Lakers, though one member of the team swore he'd be in attendance.

"You're damn straight I'll be there," laughed Travis Outlaw. "It's my bobblehead night. Ain't no way I'm going to miss that. The way I see it, coach has to play me on my own bobblehead night. I mean, that's in the new CBA isn't it?"

Thursday, January 05, 2006

O Canada!

Surprise, surprise. The Blazers get hogtied by the Spurs. In more positive news, I'm considering moving to Canada after reading this article. It's a wonder the Raptors aren't a better team with this kind of fresh thinking in Toronto. God Save the Queen.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Top Gun

Blazers lose 81-95 to the Dallas Mavericks last night in a game that was winnable until around the 8 minute mark in the 4th. A total lack of three point shooting is going to keep the Blazers from winning almost any game in which they fall behind by more than 10 in the second half. As mentioned in Quick's article, Nate has started to shy away from playing the young guys, only to still come up short, which seems like a really bad idea to me. At least Ruben is going a nice job showcasing himself. Maybe we'll actually get something decent in return for the Rube when playoff time rolls around.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Bear With Me

For anyone who actually cares, I apologize for the recent lack of posting. I've been on vacation, and now I'm back at work with a boatload of deadlines, so posting will continue to be light for another week or so. If anyone wants guest post anything in the interim, leave me a note in the comments. If you've read this blog with any regularity, you'd know that my standards for quality are fairly low, so most anything halfway intelligible will make the cut.

To keep some sort of dialogue going, I'd like to hear any Trail Blazer related predictions for the year 2006. I'll make two predictions. The first being that Ruben Patterson will be traded for an expiring contract by the end of the season, the second being that the Blazers will end the season with at .500, winning a lot of meaningless games in the last month of the season to playoff bound teams. Happy New Year everybody.