Friday, May 7, 2010

Neftali Prays to Higher Power

That would be Rangers power hitter Vlad Guerrero.

Shortstop Elvis Andrus gamely served as my interpreter while I chatted with Felix about his seventh save in eight tries.  Feliz struck out two of the three batters he faced in the ninth inning to secure the Rangers 13-12 win over Kansas City on Thursday. 

I asked the just-turned-22-year old what goes through his head when he's out there.  He said he tries to simplify everything and just get outs.  Generic enough.

Then he made me smile when he mentioned he was praying that either Guerrero or Josh Hamilton would get a hit.  By now you know they did more than that in the top of the ninth.  They hit back to back home runs, Hamilton to tie the game and Guerrero with the go-ahead.

Guerrero is killing it now, especially in Arlington.  He's currently batting .453 at home, the highest home average in the A.L.  His .407 all-time mark in Arlington is the highest among any player, at any park.

Btw, I am so disappointed in my attempts at Spanish.  It's painfully bad.  Open to any and all suggestions.  I do Pimsleur on the Ipod.  Haven't broken down & gotten Rosetta Stone.
Tuesday, May 4, 2010

THIS is Your Leader?

This column by Jeff Caplan on got me thinking.  I'm in a bit of sinus medication induced haze right now, so that might not be such a good idea but I couldn't let this go.  I digress.

Many (notice I don't say all - many) Mavericks players say on-camera or to a reporter that Jason Kidd is this team's leader.  As that leader isn't he held accountable to the team in some form or fashion?  Isn't he the one to look to when adversity or first round failures happen?

Kidd did not participate in the Mavericks final exit interviews last Friday after their Game 6, season-ending loss to the Spurs.  Head coach Rick Carlisle had no issue with it.  "He went back to Phoenix to get away from it and do some personal things," he said.  "I've got no problem with that."

Granted, Kidd wasn't 100% during the series and, according to two excellent Mavericks sources, was dealing with an ear infection this postseason.  But that's not an excuse for bolting so quickly.  If he is that leader in the locker room, he owes it to his team on that last day to be there.  Send that message, whatever it may be, but at least make a statement!  In my biased opinion, he also has an obligation to speak to the media on that final day.  Yeah, sure, we're a beating but part of the high-paying pro-athlete gig is dealing with us fools.  Dirk Nowitzki did.  Carlisle did.  Caron Butler did.  Kidd - MIA.

Great leaders do not walk away from circumstances that don't suit them as Kidd did last Friday.  They meet them, face them, learn from them and move on. 

I am not so sure, though, that Kidd truly is the Mavericks unquestionable leader, as we've heard a few times before.  After one particular loss to San Antonio, I got into a conversation about leadership.  The message was communicated to me that the Dallas locker room lacks a real sense of leadership.  Why is that not surprising?

That's something that's plagued this team for years and, once again, when looking for a man to serve as a leader for this team - there's not one to be found.
Friday, April 30, 2010

Even Roddy B's in on Free Roddy B. He's Funny, Too!

I hear you.   I read your tweets and found you on facebook.  The Free Roddy B campaign has never been as loud as it was in the final three quarters of  the Mavericks series-ending Game 6 loss to the Spurs.

You know the story.  Beaubois had 16 points in 18 minutes in the second and third quarters.  He provided that speed and spark off the bench that helped Dallas rally from a 22-point deficit.  Yet in the fourth quarter, he was mysteriously on the bench until the 2:44 mark of the final period.  At that point, the Mavericks trailed 89-81 and it was a cliche case of too little too late.

Even Mavericks owner Mark Cuban claimed he shouted "Free Roddy B!" when Beaubois was off the court.  Cuban was aloof when asked about it after the game.  "I'm not a coach, so I don't even have an opinion on that," he said.

It's rare when Cuban doesn't have an opinion on something, isn't it?  Isn't his lack of one telling?

Friday Carlisle took responsibility for Beaubois' benching saying that there are "no right decisions when you lose."

General manager Donnie Nelson stuck with the message.  "You can go around and around with that stuff," he said Friday.  "Pick your poison.  I don't think it's the right thing one of the all-time great 4th quarter performers Jason Terry is not out there.  It's such tough call but I think in those situations you go with the knowns."

Beaubois is smart and while he's cool with the coach's decision, he, like any competitor, saw opportunities to contribute.  "For sure, I wanted to play," he said.  "In the season I never really knew when I was going to play or not.  I just wait and that's it."

As for the Free Roddy B movement and the Mike Fisher-designed t-shirts that are scattered around North Texas, Beaubois admits it's pretty cool.

 "I was flattered when I saw that (the t-shirt).  It's good to have support from fans."

When asked if he had a Free Roddy B t-shirt he said someone gave him one Thursday night.  The media throng asked if it was from Cuban to which he replied in his wonderfully thick Guadeloupe/French accent, "no".

You kinda had to be there.
Saturday, April 24, 2010

Are They Who We Thought They Were?

To paraphrase Dennis Green, are they really who we thought they were?  Did you recognize what you saw last night?  The Mavericks resembled Elaine Benes' herky jerky dancing from Seinfeld.  Seriously.  And like Elaine's dancing, it's impossible to figure out just what this Mavericks team is.

Is it the one that beat San Antonio by six in Game 1 and looked dominant?  The one that failed to show up in Game 2 and lose by 14? Or is it the Game 3 group that battled but didn't have anything left late in the game?  Even CBS11/TXA21 photographer Bill Ellis remarked while looking at the video he shot of Game 3 that the Mavericks looked confused.

I get the sense Dallas thought the Spurs would be an easier bunch to deal with.  Even after last night's loss, I still sort of feel that way.

The Mavericks have to make shots down the stretch.  They made only seven of their 22 shot attempts in the final period.  Would making a substitution have helped?  Rick Carlisle stayed with small ball for the majority of the fourth:  Jason Terry and JJ Barea to start the fourth, along with Jason Kidd.  Dirk Nowitzki started the fourth on the bench, like he usually does.  It's easy to understand why Carlisle went with that group the majority of the second half, they had a 17-0 run in the 3rd quarter, built a nine point lead and entered the fourth quarter with 70-66 lead.

"In the fourth quarter, we had too many empty possessions," Nowitzki said after the game.

You have to wonder if it was as effective as it could have been.

Caron Butler sat the entire second half. A starter.  Yes, I get he struggled,  going just 1 for 3 with two points.  Don't you at least give him a few minutes?  Now you have to ask where his confidence is.  Will he be pressing in Game 4?

This much I do know about the Mavericks: they need to win Game 4 because based on what they've shown, combined with the way the Spurs are playing, Dallas doesn't seem have the constitution to come back from a 3-1 deficit.

Please Stop!
Finally.  Stop.  Just stop about the refs.  It's so junior varsity.  Sure, the Mavericks are a whine-inducing 1-17 when Dan Crawford officiates games.  It's a bitch.  I get it.  But deal with it and move on.  It's an excuse that's old, tired and nothing more than a lame reason for the Mavericks to feel something was taken from them.  Take responsibility and deal with it.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010

No More Masked Mavs Man!!!!

I seriously had a dream about Jason Terry in that damn mask.

Get your mind out of the gutter! 

Nothing inappropriate at all!  It was more like a Jason/Friday the 13th/scary sort of dream.  I even told  him about it last week and he mentioned that he was ready to be done with that thing. 

Well after he played without on Sunday in game 1 against the Spurs, he's says he's done for good.  "Keeping my fingers crossed I don’t get hit or anything but no mask," he said after shootaround on Wednesday.

No doubt he's looking for a better performance in Game 2.  Terry was 2/9 with 5 points, with both of those shots coming in the final 6:05 of the fourth quarter.

"I'm definitely going to be more aggressive than I was in that last game," he said.  "Watching the tape, I let the defense dictate how I was getting my shots."

Did You Know:
The Spurs have not won a playoff game in Dallas since Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinals on 5/19/06.
Tuesday, April 6, 2010

If You Want to Meet the Hotties, You Gotta Take Pilates

An NBA player, I am 90% certain you know, told me that.  I had heard he was taking classes at a popular gym.  I asked him about it and he simply responded with "If you want to meet the hotties, you gotta take pilates!"  Then he proceeded to form a wide sh!t-eating grin which led me to believe that he did, in fact, meet some hotties.  

Player A wasn't alone.  He took pilates with another more famous, more successful NBA player I know you know.  Joining them were the expected soccer moms and MILF's along with a member or two of Dallas' SWAT team.  I'm talking serious, athletic guys participating in a workout that many out-of-shape guys I know think is a bit girly.

Pilates is a method of exercising that builds flexibility, endurance, coordination and strength without adding bulky muscles.  The primary focus is core strength: stomach and lower back.  A solid workout will also hit hips, legs, buttocks and upper back as well as focus on controlled breathing techniques.  This can help produce a fabulous physique.  Think long, lean and sinewy muscles vs stocky, thick ones. 

I have to admit, my first couple of pilates classes were awful.  They were taught by instructors who either a) didn't know what they were doing or b) too fearful of challenging the class.  Recently, I have been taking group classes at my personal gym and we are blessed with a phenomenal instructor.  A well-taught one hour class hits almost every major muscle.  You definitely "feel the burn" but it's a sensation different from that "pump" you get when lifting weights.  It's a true burn, a good one, that will stick with you for 12-24 hours.  I consider myself to be in pretty good shape but after a good class, I feel it.

There are a two primary ways to practice pilates.  Many people (like me) take classes on mat using their own body weight for resistance along with a few tools.  This pilates ring looks painfully simple but can be painfully challenging when properly used.  Exercise bands are also helpful for adding resistance.

Another method of training involves using what's called a reformer.  This adds additional resistance and allows a person to focus perhaps a little better on developing proper alignment, core strength and flexibility.

Here is a link to a Pilates-based workout I profiled in 2009 for CBS11/TXA21's Get Healthy Texas segments.  The story was targeted to get women bikini ready in a six-weeks.  Trust me, you can get there with these moves.

Pilates isn't for wimps.  It's a phenomenal way to get in shape regrardless of your fitness level and gender. With practice and dedication, it will improve your strength, flexibility and physique.  And if the latter is true, Player A's line appropriate for both men and women.

Have any clue who my pilates-practicing NBA guys are?
Monday, April 5, 2010

Some Spurs Perspective Down the Stretch

With five games left and the Mavericks impersonating Sybil, the Spurs are quietly playing some good basketball at the perfect time of year.  They're only two and a half games behind Dallas in the Southwest division.  San Antonio is 7-3 over its last 10 games with impressive road wins over Boston and the Lakers and home wins against Cleveland and Orlando.  Interestingly, they do have a stinker loss against New Jersey serving as the only blemish during a 5-1 stretch.

The DMN's Brad Townsend breaks it down here.  Long story short, if the Mavs tank and the Spurs win the regular season finale, by virtue of a few tiebreaks, San Antonio could win the division.

The Spurs had just a 4-4 record when they came to Dallas on November 14th.  They actually dropped to 4-6 and back to 9-9 in November.  I asked Tim Duncan about that .500 mark and about their general approach on the season.  He told me that they don't get too concerned with the first few months of the regular season.  "We want to be playing our best basketball going into the playoffs," he deadpanned, looking over to his PR guy hoping that he would end the interview after just the third question.  (The PR guy didn't)

Duncan's bunch doesn't seem to have that identity crisis that's plaguing the Mavericks.  Will it get them any a first-round series win?  Who knows but theirs is certainly a good philosophy to have.