Wednesday, April 30, 2008

I knew the Jazz would lose last night.

That is all. 

The Big Apple

As my loyal readers may or may not know, I am no longer near my beloved BYU. For the next seven weeks I'll be in the New York City living my wildest dreams. 

In fact, I'm on the subway right now getting mugged and eating a hot dog I bought on the street. It's the classic story of a small-town boy trying to make it in the big city. 

Anyway, now that I'm in "The Big Tornado" my blog will be incredibly east-coast-biased. I will now only be interested in the sports that happen my side of the Hudson. For instance, did anyone catch the Rangers game last night? 

The good news is now that Bryan Kehl is a Giant, I can still be true to BYU without losing my big-city credibility.  

Look for more New York-related material forthcoming!

Monday, April 21, 2008

I take it all back

Okay, admittedly I was a little upset when I found out the Jazz were once again the No. 4 seed in the west playing the Rockets in the first round. It signaled to me a lack of progression as a team.

I'd like now to take the opportunity to take it all back.

Watching the Jazz tonight, I am forced to admit this is not the same team as last year.

For one thing, we are tough as nails. The Jazz are big, and they're bruisers. Almost Bald-Bullish, if you will. We literally beat up the Rockets over these last two games. I'm surprised they haven't had to stop the game to wipe up Shane Battier's blood and tears. And if you don't believe me, just watch Matt Harpring use those cow catchers he calls arms to clear the lane. The guy is dense.

Another difference I see this year is the Jazz have become like my buddy Jeris when he gets home from Ideal Image Salon: Smooth. Guys like Kyle Korver, Ronny Price and Deron Williams have given the Jazz a completely new weapon: The outside shot. Last year Mehmet Okur was our best threat from behind the arc. This year we have a veritable cache of three-ball shooters. Even Kirilenko is getting in on the fun, for crying out loud. You go, Andre.

And that leads me to my final point. Andre Kirilenko is actually contributing to the team this year. Rather than steal the show with his crybaby antics, AK-47 is playing like the guy we all want to see. He's playing great defense, he's pulling down boards, he's cleaning up on offense and he even grabs some blocks. AK, we love you so much when you bring your A-game.

So in conclusion, this isn't Deja Vu all over again. The Jazz are looking like champions, and we will win that ever-elusive golden statue soon. Maybe not this year, but soon.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Tracy McGrady Sucks

Sorry for the strong language in the title, everyone, but after watching last night's first round game between the Jazz and the Rockets, I just felt it needed to be said in no uncertain terms. Tracy McGrady is awful.

It's no secret that I don't particularly enjoy Mr. McGrady. I guess I just hate those guys that are too big for their britches. Plus, I hate that we have to put up with the "Tracy McGrady hasn't made it out of the first round of the playoffs ever- Will he do it this year?" storyline. It's like the Ben Olson/UCLA story: It's getting old.

Don't get me wrong, I'm glad the Jazz will be the ones to dash his hopes again this year, but it still bugs me how McGrady gets all the press.

Last night's game, though, revealed so much more about McGrady to hate. Tracy McGrady had 20 points last night, with zero coming in the fourth quarter. ZERO.

He also grabbed bench with about 2 minutes left to play in the game, giving up on his team all together.

Talk about a guy with no heart. If I was a Rockets fan I'd be ticked off. What happened to the superstar? Why did he disappear when his team needed him most? The answer is because these prima donna superstar guys are all the same. If they don't get whatever they want whenever they want it, they pout, they whine and they go home. The league is full of them, but Tracy McGrady is hands down the number one poster child for whiny, spoiled little babies in the NBA.

"The Spoiled Child," by Jean-Baptiste Greuze

Fortunately for us Jazz fans, workhorses like Matt Harpring, Ronnie Brewer, Paul Millsap, Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer don't bring a lot of headcase baggage with them when they report to camp each fall. It feels good to be a Jazz fan.

By the way: Jazz in 5.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Deja Vu

Here we are again, on the cusp of a new round of NBA Playoffs. An exciting time, sure. The thing is, though, I feel like I'm exactly where I was one year ago.

The Jazz are the No. 4 seed in the West, playing the Houston Rockets in the first round. Just like last year. And we don't even have home court advantage. Just like last year.

I love the Jazz, but I hate them for not progressing. They had the perfect chance to jump to the No. 3 seed, or at least secure home court advantage as the 4 seed, but no. They had to blow too many winnable games. Not the least of which was Tuesday's game against the Spurs, in which the Jazz apparently were too aflutter thinking about the previous night's jaunt on the river walk to show up to the game.

The loss was big. Not only did it knock us down to the 4 seed, but now we have an all too difficult path to the NBA Championship. We have to beat a dangerous Houston team on the road, then we'll have to beat up on the Lakers. Then we'll probably have to go beat San Antonio.

In short, it's going to be a tough Playoff season.

Oh we'll still win the championship, but I guess it'll just take a little more Rocky Mountain Magic this year.

It could be worse, though. We could be watching the games from home.

The forlorn, but always hopeful, Portland Trailblazers

Monday, April 14, 2008

An Ode to the Mailman

After watching a raucous, fun-loving Karl Malone last night on Sportsbeat Sunday, I realized how much I loved and still love the Mailman.

It was an absolute pleasure watching Karl Malone play, and I harbor absolutely no ill will. Even when he whined about not being appreciated, even when he complained that it didn’t rain enough in Utah, even when he left the team to go to the hated Lakers, I never stopped loving the big guy.

Karl Malone was the best power forward in the history of the game. He totally transformed the position on both sides of the ball. He was as solid as the Straits of Gibraltar, and he had a shot smoother than China silk. His fade-away was a thing of beauty, and he absolutely perfected the hammer dunk.

The one hand behind the head jam.

The one-armed blindfold jam.

The rare-but-powerful two handed slamma jamma.

They were all gold.

And his offense was only part of the story. He defended the crap out of everyone that dared enter his personal area. While his teammates, most notably Greg Ostertag, cowered like little she-birds, The Mailman chopped down foes like David Robinson, Shaquille O’Neal, Tim Duncan, Charles Barkley and Dennis Rodman with ease.

Barkley, in fact – and this is true – used to switch positions to small forward every time his team played the Jazz so he wouldn’t have to face the Karl “The Solid Granite Wrecking Machine” Malone.

I loved Malone when he played for the Jazz, and unlike most Jazz fans I even loved him when he went to the Lakers. He needed a ring, and I understood that. I bid him good luck in his journey, and I was heartbroken when he came up short.

I still maintain, by the way, that he would have gotten that ring if the rest of his team had half the heart he did. And if he would have stayed healthy that year.

Anyway, Karl, this one’s for you. Keep living the good old life, and I’ll give you a call if I ever own an NBA team in the future. I would take you in a heartbeat, AARP membership and all.

It’s true: From his Rogaine down to his LA Gear Catapults, I love the Mailman.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Spring Tease

Good news everyone! I’ve managed somehow to pull myself out of the black and miring depression that has consumed me since my devastating injury. I am back online, and I’m up to full blogging strength. Today’s subject: Spring Scrimmage.

Yesterday I was among the 16,700 people to attend the annual Blue & White Spring Scrimmage for BYU football. I know what you Utah fans are thinking: What does 16,700 fans look like? It’s a pretty sight, my misguided brethren. Even prettier when it’s 16,700 Cougar faithful in mid-April.

Now before going any further, let me just say that it did my body good to be back in that stadium. The minute I stepped through those gates (after parking in one of the many open handicapped spots), I felt rejuvenated. The grass was green and the air was fresh. Good feelings swirled around my head.

But at the same time the feeling was kind of hollow—like the feeling you get after eating a Cadbury Egg.

It was fun while it lasted, but five minutes later you just feel sick and confused. It’s been nice to get news from the football team over the past few weeks, but all the excitement I felt about actually being able to watch football again disappeared yesterday when the final horn sounded. Now all I have to look forward to for the next four months is the Jazz’ NBA title run.

After that I’ll have to face the most grueling sports months of all: July and August. Do you have any idea how depressing it is watching SportsCenter in the month of July? When all the anchors have to talk about is the latest Tampa Bay/Baltimore baseball score? My favorite is how they invent football stories to keep our interest. “Coming up after the break—Is Brett Favre considering a comeback? We’ll tell you exactly what his sister-in-law had to say, next.” No wonder why they hype college football opening day so much. July and August are two rough months.

Wow. I’m getting distracted. Let me just say I loved being in LaVell Edwards Stadium, and I’m happy we’re one step closer to football season.

Now please allow me to mention my favorite parts of the scrimmage.

First of all, the Blue & White Scrimmage MVP was most definitely J.J. DiLuigi. When the scrimmage started I heard a lot of chirping from my buddies about how excited they were about J.J. I got on their cases for having such love for a guy whom they haven’t ever seen play one down. Well, I took all that back when I saw J.J. work his magic on the field.

J.J. had four carries for 27 yards for just a shade under 7 average yards a carry. The impressive thing, though, was how he ran. He was shifty, quick, and he was great at seeing the field. He created his own yards. He saw the holes and he hit them. This is an important skill, because our Tongan Trio of Harvey Unga, Manase Tonga and Fui Vakapuna tend not to cut through holes as much as… run people over. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Seriously, though, I was impressed with J.J. He’ll be a good change of pace back in the backfield, and he can play some mean slot receiver too.

Defensive MVP goes to linebacker Masi Tuitama. Masi played with the third team, I think, but he was all over the field. He laid some mean hits, and broke up some good plays.

I also enjoyed watching Andrew Rich, who got one interception, and Spencer Hafoka, who made some awesome catches and knew how to run after the catch.

It would have been nice to see some of the first-teamers, like Max Hall, Dennis Pitta, Austin Collie and Unga, but I actually enjoyed seeing the younger guys play. When I see guys like Sean Covey and Luke Ashworth play, I see the future. It’s cool to see them develop through the program, and I can’t wait to see them contribute.

Hats off to Bronco and the coaches for bringing in some talented, motivated guys to carry the BYU banner. 2008 is going to be a year for the ages.

Dang. Now I’m all jacked up about the football season, but where do I go from here? What do I do? I can’t even PLAY football thank you very much ACL tear!

4 more months…

PS—I haven’t forgotten about America’s Next Top Obscure Guest Author. Look for an update later this week.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

My incredibly devastating injury

The bad news: I injured myself quite devastatingly tonight.

The good news: I seem to be in good spirits about it. Good enough to blog, anyway.

Enough beating around the bush. I tore my ACL playing basketball.

I know, I know, why would I sit here and blog about my torn ACL the very day I did it? Well, for one, I'm stable, my knee is in a brace and I can't really do anything else. Also, tearing one's ACL isn't something everyone gets to experience, so I thought "Hey, why don't I give a voice to my throbbing knee?" Plus, it's kind of a badge of honor in a way. I mean, Russell Tialavea, Quinn Gooch, Booby Miles- these are the men that have gone before me. I'm proud to share my season-ending injury with such men.

So here's how it happened. We were battling back and forth in a heated game. Andrew, Trevor and Blake were leading the charge, and I was trying to scrap up whatever I could.

During one offensive series I got behind my defender and signaled for the lob pass. Andrew floated it up to me (it was a great pass) and I went up to get it. I came down with the ball, but I landed awkwardly and twisted my knee up with a couple of other guys. I'm not exactly sure how it happened, but oh how I felt it.

My knee twisted and popped and buckled in a most unappealing way. Pain shot up and down my leg, and I lay crumpled on the court in a heap of misery. I was pounding the hardwood and screaming in pain. I know it doesn't make me sound too macho, but in the interest of full disclosure, I thought I should be transparent.

Trevor and some other dude helped me to the bench where I tried to listen to the swirl of voices and whistles and buzzers. Becky came down to help, and luckily there were some nurses there who told me to keep my leg elevated (otherwise, how would I have known?).

I laid there for a while, and I actually felt good enough to try and put some weight on my knee. That turned out to be a very bad idea. I stood up, and immediately came crashing down. I can't describe the sensation I felt when I tried to stand. My knee felt like it was attached to a spaghetti pie. It felt like it was swimming in a sea of cartilage fluid and jello salad.

In other words, it didn't hold up.

Remember that scene in The Return of the Jedi when the Imperial Walker stepped on the logs during the Ewok raid and it wobbled a bit and fell down? That's probably what I looked like.

It felt like stabbing white hot knives piercing my leg, and again, I found myself on the bench with my leg elevated.

At that point, I decided it would be best if I went to the hospital. Blake and some other dude helped me out to the car, and soon I was on my way to the ER. My knee felt okay, but my mind was racing with thoughts about my future. Will I need surgery? How long is the recovery? Will I ever reclaim my starting spot at free safety?

The ER was cold and long. I'm so glad my wife was there, but I couldn't stop thinking about the little inconveniences this dang injury would cause me. Sleeping, for instance. How do I toss and turn to find the absolute, most comfortable position without jerking my knee around?

(My favorite part of the ER, by the way, was when the doctor brought in two or three lackeys to witness the "Lachman test" - which basically consists of the doctor grabbing my leg and stretching it out to see how loose the tendins have become. "Look at the elasticity!" He says.)

Anyway, some X-rays, a cold pack and a leg brace later, I was back in the car- this time sprawled out on the back seat. Still depressed, but a little more accepting.

Now I'm sitting quietly, after ingesting 800 mg of Ibuprofen, and my lovely wife is by my side. Sure, I didn't ask for this to happen. Actually, it's about the worst thing that could possibly happen to me right now, but eventually I'll be okay.

PS- If any of you happen to find yourself on the other end of an ACL tear, I hope to heaven that your wife or significant other treats you as well as mine does. Case in point: On a night when we could have so easily stayed in, Becky ran over to the Burger Supreme and picked me up what had to have been the best bacon cheeseburger I've ever consumed. Maybe the long road to recovery won't be so bad after all.