Will this be a series?
The Pacers popped Miami in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Sunday afternoon. It was the Pacers' most complete game since the All-Star break and left us with two opposing questions:
1) Is Indiana back? It's possible and even magnified because these Pacers were constructed specifically to beat these Heat. Period. And the players — quick point guards — that gave the Pacers fits in the first two rounds against inferior foes do not exist on Miami's roster. The Heat are a defensive-minded, point-small-forward based team, and the Pacers are the same with more size and, as they showed on Sunday, more balance.
2) Was this an emotional response fueled by a must-have knowledge and kickstarted by a rabid home-court crowd? It's definitely possible because that was the first thought we had when we clicked over and during the second quarter and a slew of Pacers reserves were looking like the '86 Celtics. Egad. Plus, can the Pacers count on being plus-19 at the foul line through out the series?
You can make a hard argument that Game 2 is every bit as important for the Pacers as Game 1. And we now can make a claim that it is equally as important for the Heat. Also of note: Remember this series is 2-2-1-1-1, and finally the Finals will be too.
Side note, part deux: Chris Bosh may be one of the most overrated player in all of sports. And he's Uggla-esque overpaid. Bosh makes the same coin as LeBron — $19-plus million a year — which ranks tied for eighth in the NBA behind Kobe ($30.45 million), Dirk ($22.72 million), Amar'e Stoudemire ($21.67 million), Joe Johnson ($21.46 million), Carmelo ($21.38 million), Dwight Howard ($20.51 million) and Pau Gasol ($19.28 million).
And Jeff Van Gundy said Bosh is a Hall of Famer? Don't see it. Bosh went 4-of-12 for nine points and two rebounds. Two. At 7-feet, Bosh had two more rebounds than Jomo, and we firmly believe had Jomo got more minutes he would have corralled at least one hustle board.
Triple Crown a sneeze away
We are to the point that would anyone be surprised if they were cheating in horse racing? Of course we wouldn't be.
California Chrome, who cruised to the Preakness win on Saturday and is a mile-and-a-half from being the first Triple Crown winner since Farrah Fawcett posters and winged hair-cuts were the real deal, is in the middle of a controversy.
California Chrome has been using breathing strips across his nose in what has become the most famous horse head since Jack Woltz refused Tim Hagen a favor. The New York Racing Association, which is in charge of the rules of the Belmont early next month, has yet to announce whether they will allow the strips, which Chrome trainer Art Sherman told the Associated Press:
"I think it opens up his air passage and gives him that little extra oomph that he needs, especially going a mile and a half [which is the length of the Belmont Stakes, the longest of the three races]. Anytime you can have a good air passage, that means a lot for these thoroughbreds."
The state did not allow I'll Have Another to use similar strips in 2012, and I'll Have Another scratched before the race with an injured leg.
Sherman even hinted that if Chrome is not allowed to use the strips the horse will not run in the final leg of the Triple Crown.
So here we are, with horse racing getting the lifeline it needs with a potential Triple Crown winner and a controversy that could dominate the story lines until a decision is reached.
Let the horse run. How can it be allowed at The Kentucky Derby and then not allowed everywhere else, you know?
Atlanta managed to salvage game three in its weekend series at St. Louis. The Braves scored twice in the top of the ninth with neither run coming on a hit — bases-loaded walk followed by a wild pitch — for a 6-5 win that was ugly. And featured Uggla.
It was a game that was competitive though, and featured five hit batters in a game that could plant some seeds down the road. After Justin Upton admired his monster homer in the fourth for just a smidge (where's baseball police man for etiquette and salad forks Brian McCann?), Cards starter Jaime Garcia plunked Freddie Freeman. Well, since Freddie Freeman is the Braves only reliable offensive option, the Braves hit Garcia in his next at-bat, which brings up this point: Want fewer retaliations? Do not hit the opposing team's best player; hit the pitcher that hit your best player.
The good: Starting pitcher Gavin Floyd was far from dominating — 12 base runners in 5.1 innings — but three unearned runs hurt his cause after the Cards scored three times in a second inning that was extended on a Gerald Laird pass ball. Freeman is legit. He went 3-for-3 and is hitting .314 with eight homers and 27 RBIs. He's on pace for .314-31-104, numbers that would be staggering considering the lack of table-setting in front of him and the lack of protection behind him.
The bad: Overall the Braves are lucky they got Sunday's win and after dropping 5-2 and 4-1 decisions Friday and Saturday, well, the Cardinals are better than the Braves. Period. The Braves scored nine runs in the three games, going 21-for-93 (.225) and a less-than-good 3-for-15 (.200) with runners in scoring position. And well, there's...
The Uggla: Our man Dan got the start Sunday because Tyler Pastornicky hurt his calf. Not because Pastronicky is hitting like a dollar and change but because he hurt his calf in pregame warmups — and not a cute calf like Norman in 'City Slickers' either. So Danny Struggla gets the start and goes bagel-for-3 to drop to .178 on the year, and those numbers are better than the actual situation. Uggla is 5-for-48 since May 19 and is 1-of-18 in May and hitless in his last 11 at-bats. To make matters worse, his high throw cost the Braves a double play and a run Sunday. Time to go.
This and that
— Man-up Lance Stepehenson. Way to talk it and then walk it. Dude got some heat about his pre-series quotes about Dwyane Wade and he backed them up in Game 1 with 17 points on 12 shots and eight assists.
— Next name on the list of "Hey, he was a good guard and a good guy in the room and let's give him the keys to the franchise" appears to be Derek Fisher, who is the front-runner for the Knicks job despite having as much head coaching experience as you do. (Well, unless you coached your kid's youth hoops squad, and in that caase you have more head coaching experience. R-E; R-E-B; R-E-B-O-U-N-D — Rebound, Rebound.)
— The Webster folks came up with their new list of words. Yuppers is on the list. So is selfie and slew of others. Here are some more from the Yahoo.com story:
Catfish (not the fish but the person who takes on a false online identity, a la the phantom girlfriend of football pro Manti Te'o); poutine, a French Canadian snack or side dish of french fries covered with brown gravy and cheese curds; steampunk, a literary genre with dress-up followers that mashes up 19th-century Victorian or Edwardian societies with steam-powered technology; unfriend, which joins defriend; and hot spot, a place where Wi-Fi is available.
And still more: crowdfunding, big data, baby bump, digital divide, dubstep, fangirl and gamification, the process of adding gamelike elements to something to encourage participation.
We have our regular ones:
Who won the weekend? Who lost the weekend?
We also can't help but wonder how tough it would be growing up in elementary school with the name 'Wayne Tinkle' like the new Oregon State hoops coach did? At least his parents did not name him Richard.
Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...