Thursday, June 2, 2011

Tying on the 'Feed' Bag

If the first games of the series are any indication, then the NHL's Stanley Cup Finals has taken a big lead over the NBA Finals in excitement and edge-of-your-seat entertainment. Last night's Game 1 between Vancouver and Boston was as thrilling a hockey game that anyone has seen in an opening act in a long time. NBC's overnight ratings seem to indicate as much with the network reporting the best numbers in 12 years.


Watching the career highlight clips of Shaquille O'Neal last night on ESPN was a stark reminder of how the game has changed in the NBA. Since O'Neal left his prime, which would have been around the time he went to Phoenix from Miami where he lead the Heat to the 2006 championship, the game has gotten smaller under the basket, with less defense and rebounding in the pivot.
The dominant presence of a big man in the paint was sorely lacking in this season's NBA playoffs, even with a team such as the Lakers with its big front court of Gasol, Bynum and Odom. The ongoing Finals series between Dallas and Miami, at least in Game 1, was a mishmash of long-range jump shots and uncontested lay-ups.


Several critics, including in the media and in baseball, have called for better protection for catchers after the San Francisco Giants' Buster Posey was injured in a collision at home plate during a game with the Florida Marlins last week. Posey suffered a broken ankle and torn tendons and will be sidelined for the rest of the season.
The fact that Posey is arguably the Giants' best everyday player prompted the complaints but in reality there have been more base-runners injured in home-plate collisions than catchers, especially with the head-first slide. The catcher, obviously, has the advantage because he wears shin-guards, a think chest protector and a metal mask.
In the collision in San Francisco, Posey bobbled the throw to the plate and replays showed that in his attempt to secure the ball, he was out of position as he was hit. His ankle turned awkwardly under him after the runner hit him high in the shoulder.

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