Saturday, February 28, 2009

Torii Hunter Donation Keeping Compton Baseball League Alive

You've probably heard someone in the media, at one time or another, describe a certain professional athlete as "one of the good guys." Meaning that this particular player not only plays hard all the time, but he has a great personality to go along with it.

And if there was anyone who fits that description perfectly, it's Angels outfielder Torii Hunter.

I had heard nothing but good things about Hunter before he signed with the Angels prior to the 2008 season. Once I met him, I realized I had been short-changed. He was even better than advertised.

Hunter not only understands what it means to be a professional athlete and all the responsibilities that come with it, but he's just cool. Even if he didn't make millions of dollars playing baseball, you get the sense that he would still be someone you would like to hang out with.

But Hunter really earns my respect with his off-the-field perspective. He came from humble beginnings in Arkansas. His family definitely had more than its fair share of dysfunction, but instead of using that as an excuse in his own life, Hunter uses it as motivation to prevent further dysfunction in the lives of others, especially children.

Hunter's latest example of his kindness and awareness comes in the form of a $10,000 donation to a Compton baseball league.

In an area long infested with drug-related violence and gang warfare, Hunter is hoping baseball can not only be an occasional escape for neighborhood kids, but quite possibly an eventual way out.

"If you have baseball in the area and kids start against each other, maybe they'll grow up together," Hunter said. "Sports can really bring people together."

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Let Them Eat Cake.. Just Not MY Cake!

I got suckered into a fascinating exchange today on Facebook when one of my friends posted the following status: "who informed this moron President that $250K a year is wealthy... idiot."

Normally, I try to stay away from such nonsense, but since I know this friend personally--or at least I used to--I just had to respond.

My contention with that particular statement was that the poster lacked some perspective. Thus, I posted the following: "$250k is more than 6 times the average U.S. income.. you try to tell someone making less than $40k a year that people earning $250k aren't rich.. and they would probably call you a moron or idiot.."

I see this all the time in sports. People making uninformed statements which show an utter lack of perspective. Not sure why so many of us feel as if we know more about a particular subject than those who get paid to know about that particular subject.

Compared to the average fan, I have a more informed knowledge of the teams and sports I cover because I get paid to. I talk to the players, coaches and executives to obtain the information I need to give the viewers an accurate depiction of what they have seen or are about to see.

However, I would never suggest I know more about basketball than Phil Jackson, more about football than Pete Carroll or more about baseball than Joe Torre. It's their job to know more than me. And they get paid handsomely for it.

So with that same mindset, how can someone who's never worked in economics or even studied the subject think they know more about it than someone who has? I know, I don't get it either, but check out some of these responses.

"Is income the new form of prejudice in our country? Punish success? That's great! I will tell my children to dream BIG but please don't dream bigger than $250 or your government will vilify you! What happens when everyone stops at $250? Who will pay the way then?"

"It's like people are being punished for working hard and being successful!! and who the heck is Obama to just pick a number and decide that it's rich or poor?? I don't know if I can take 4 years of this idiot ruining our country. And don't even get me started on universal health care.....God help us."

I have always felt people are entitled to their opinion, I just like for those opinions to be informed opinions. Your opinions are only as strong as your arguments. If you don't have any facts to support your arguments, your opinions will be fairly hollow.

I am not trying to say I am any expert on economics--far from it actually. However, I have done my share of research. Couple that acquired knowledge with my own personal experiences with money and you get the following response:

"..their has always been a price to pay for success.. in our economy, there is only so much money.. so in order for you to make more.. someone else has to make less.. just like eating a cake.. if you are eating more of that cake than other people.. shouldn't you be expected to pay for more of the ingredients for the making of the next cake? I, for one, like cake.. and I don't mind paying more for a bigger piece!"

I realize this argument could go on forever with neither side relenting, but I think this entire situation was summed up best by the following Facebook post:

"Basically its safe to say that Americans, and i use that loosely, want their cake and eat it too. They want all of the benefits of highly taxed countries ( like the ones in the EU) for things like socialized health care, paid education, etc, without having to actually pay for it. If someone could figure out how to do that, they'd be a VERRRRRRY smart person."

And a very rich one, at that!

Clippers Topple Defending Champs

Wow, what a game last night at Staples Center!

It had a little bit of everything that makes for a great game--superstars, unexpected heroes, and a dramatic finish.

And if there was ever a team that needed such a win, it's the Clippers. They have long been out of the playoff hunt. "Wait 'til next year" has been the motto since New Year's Day.

Even though the GM/coach and the players themselves have been telling anyone who will listen that this team can beat anyone in the league when they are ALL healthy--something that hasn't happened all season--it's only human nature to allow some self-doubt to creep in when you are losing games at the rate the Clippers have been losing them this season.

Confidence only lasts so long when it keeps getting hit upside the head by L's.

As happy as I am for the players, coaches and the organization, I'm even more happy for the fans. Through thick and more thick, Clipper Nation has been there year after year with their hearts and their wallets. They don't expect championships, but they do expect more wins than losses at home and a solid effort every night.

Here's hoping last night's win becomes a trend.. for the fans' sake!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

A Rare Act Of Sportsmanship

I absolutely love stories like this one--a tragedy revealing the true human spirit!

The coach never considered any other option.

It didn't matter that his DeKalb, Ill., High School basketball team had ridden a bus two and a half hours to get to Milwaukee, then waited another hour past game time to play. Didn't matter that the game was close, or that this was a chance to beat a big city team.

Something else was on Dave Rohlman's mind when he asked for a volunteer to shoot two free throws awarded his team on a technical foul in the second quarter. His senior captain raised his hand, ready to go to the line as he had many times before.

Only this time it was different.

"You realize you're going to miss them, don't you?" Rohlman said.

Darius McNeal nodded his head. He understood what had to be done.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A-Rod Admits Steroid Use

Like many of you, I'm sure, I was not surprised to hear that Alex Rodriguez had tested positive for steroid use. However, I was really surprised that he came out and admitted it.

Monday morning, while appearing on AM 830 KLAA, I said I did not think he would come clean and admit that he used performance-enhancing drugs. From my limited dealings with him, I thought he would be Mr. Deny all night long.

And why not? It has been the standard operating procedure for so many athletes when it comes to steroid use.

As I have said before, I don't really care whether athletes use any type of performance-enhancing substance. In the grand scheme of things, sports records aren't really that big of deal. Their sole purpose of existing is so sportswriters--and now, fans--can make an argument on who the best player of all-time is. So records have really never meant that much to me.

I mean, they are cool, and the pursuit of them makes for great theatre. But I have never lost any sleep or gotten into an argument over who the real baseball home run king is. And I doubt--and hope--I ever will.

The only issue I have with the use of performance-enhancers is the impression is leaves with young kids. They believe in order to be like their sporting heroes they have to depend on steroids--instead of hard work and their natural ability.

But I will give A-Rod some credit. When so many people tend to not take responsibility for their actions, he was willing to do so. However, I'm only giving him a little bit of credit. After all, he didn't really have too much choice. There was hard physical evidence, plus the confirmation by at least three people who had knowledge of said evidence.

Trying to keep up a denial of such monumental proportions would have been nearly impossible and extremely laughable. He would have become a joke around the league.

It's going to be hard enough to live down the nickname "A-Fraud" as it is.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Lakers Complete Best Road Trip Ever

While the final seconds of the Lakers 101-91 win over Lebron James and the Cavaliers ticked down, I realized that Phil Jackson and company had just completed their best road trip ever.

I don't just mean this season or any season in the PJ era. I mean ever, ever.

The trip gets off to a potentially disastrous start when Andrew Bynum went down with a torn MCL in his good knee.

But just when some thought the pursuit of a championship was doomed, Kobe responds with a record-setting 61-point performance against the Knicks, and then the Lakers cap off the trip with back-to-back wins over the Celtics and the Cavaliers, completing season sweeps of both teams in the process.

As I said, best road trip ever!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

So Long, Vladi.. Hello, Adam!


EL SEGUNDO -- The Los Angeles Lakers have acquired forward Adam Morrison and guard Shannon Brown from the Charlotte Bobcats in exchange for Vladimir Radmanovic, it was announced today.

Morrison, currently in his 3rd NBA season out of Gonzaga, was selected third overall by the Bobcats in the 2006 NBA Draft after earning unanimous First Team All-America honors and garnering multiple National Player of the Year awards his senior year. Named to the All-Rookie Second Team following the 2006-07 season, Morrison appeared in 78 games as rookie including 23 starts, averaging 11.8 points, 2.9 rebounds, and 2.1 assists in 29.8 minutes while earning T-Mobile Rookie of the Month honors for November 2006.

Missing the entire 2007-08 season after suffering a torn ACL in his left knee in an October 20 preseason game against the Lakers, Morrison has played in 44 games this season including five starts, averaging 4.5 points and 1.6 rebounds in 15.2 minutes with a high-game of 16 points November 11 vs. Denver.

In 122 career games (23 starts), Morrison is averaging 9.1 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.6 assists in 24.5 minutes.

Brown, also in his 3rd NBA season out of Michigan State, was originally selected by the Cleveland Cavaliers with the 25th overall pick in the 2006 NBA Draft. Traded to the Chicago Bulls as part of the Ben Wallace deal in February of 2008, Brown signed with Charlotte as a free agent this past August. In 30 games with the Bobcats this season, Brown is averaging 4.8 points in 11.4 minutes with a season-highs in points (16), steals (4) and minutes (26) coming November 3 vs. Detroit.

In 74 career games (9 starts), Brown is averaging 4.5 points in 10.6 minutes

Monday, February 2, 2009

Eric Gordon Named Western Conference Player of the Month

No real surprise here, but still a notable accomplishment for the young rookie. Here's the official release from the Clippers.

Gordon Ranked First Among All Rookies in January with 21.9 Points per Game

Los Angeles Clippers’ guard Eric Gordon was named the Western Conference T-Mobile Rookie of the Month for games played in January.

Gordon, who edged out Minnesota’s Kevin Love for Western Conference Rookie of the Month, ranked first among rookies in scoring for the month (21.9 ppg), fourth in assists (4.1 apg) and first in minutes (41.1 mpg). In addition, the first-year guard led all Western Conference rookies in free throw percentage (.907 %). Gordon scored a career-high 41 points (13-28 FG, 6-6 FT) vs. the Thunder on Jan. 23, the most points ever scored by a Clippers rookie, besting Al Thornton’s 39-point performance on March 29, 2008.

Gordon becomes the first Clippers rookie since Shaun Livingston in April, 2005 to earn NBA Rookie of the Month honors.

To celebrate Gordon’s big month, Clipper fans will receive 10 percent off of all Eric Gordon t-shirts and jerseys for 10 days (Feb. 2 through Feb. 12) at

Here is a recap of Gordon’s month:

Eric Gordon, L.A. Clippers
Jan. 4 vs. Detroit: Tallied 31 points, two rebounds and three assists in an 88-87 loss to the Pistons

Jan. 6 @ Dallas: Scored 32 points and added six assists in a 107- 102 loss to the Mavericks

Jan. 23 vs. Oklahoma City: Posted 41 points, two rebounds and four assists in the Clippers’ 107-104 win over the Thunder

Jan. 30 @ Cleveland: Registered 27 points, seven assists and two steals in a 112-95 loss to the Cavaliers

In support of a season-long effort to better the various youth communities in Phoenix, the Host City of NBA All-Star 2009, T-Mobile will donate $20 per point scored on behalf of the players named the T-Mobile Rookies of the Month. For the month of January, T-Mobile will donate $7020 on behalf of the Clippers’ Eric Gordon.

Other nominees for the Western Conference T-Mobile Rookies of the Month were Memphis’ O.J. Mayo and Marc Gasol, Minnesota’s Kevin Love, Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook, Portland’s Greg Oden and Sacramento’s Jason Thompson.

Andrew Bynum Suffers Torn Knee Ligament

Having suffered so many knee injuries myself, I hoped for the best, yet feared the worst for Andrew Bynum following his latest knee injury. Today, unfortunately, my worst fears were confirmed.

Here is the official release from the Lakers.


EL SEGUNDO--Results of an MRI on Andrew Bynum's right knee showed a tear of the medial collateral ligament, it was announced today.

Bynum, who suffered the injury early in the first quarter of Saturday's victory over Memphis after having scored seven of the Lakers' first 13 points, will be out approximately 8-12 weeks.

The MRI was performed Sunday at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York and Bynum was examined this afternoon by Dr. David Altchek.

Bynum, who prior to the game against Memphis had averaged 26.2 points on 65.3 percent shooting, 13.8 rebounds and 3.20 blocked shots over his previous five games, ranks among league leaders in rebounds (19th/8.2), field goal percentage (8th/.558), blocked shots (6th /1.87) and double-doubles (17th/16).

Named Western Conference Player of the Week for games played Monday, January 19 through Sunday, January 25, Bynum is averaging 14.0 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1.87 blocked shots in 46 games this season.