First of all, I panicked. I have always liked Dirk as a player and was worried Dallas would crumble if he was hurt. I was wrong. The Mavs may not be the most talented team in the playoffs or the best overall team, but they have the most heart. This team is scrappy and has been all season. Decimated by injuries, they have found a way to stay mentally tough and win tough games.
Part of this is because they have very savvy veterans. Dirk has been to the playoffs many times and made it to the Finals once , Marion made it to the conference Finals, and Kidd made it to the Finals twice, including one championship. Overall, Dallas has 1.61 times more playoff experience purely by games played among their top minutes guys and they have more Finals appearances. Dallas has been very savvy while the Heat players have at times, looked clueless.
Someone on the radio made a great analogy (though I can't remember the name). He compared the Heat to Russia from the 1980 Olympics. In "Miracle", they comment on how the Russian coach does not pull the goalie when he is down in the 3rd period. It was because he didn't know what to do in that situation. The Heat dominate with their talent, however, they start to look clueless when a team catches up and catches fire from the field. The loss on Thursday night wasn't the first time they blew a lead, they did this multiple times in the regular season. I am sticking with Dallas and am still confident because I did not factor in experience/playoff experience during the preview.
The Indians have now lost 3 in a row to the Rangers. This is not new, they are now 10 out of their last 11 at home against the Rangers. For some reason, the Rangers are a terrible match-up for the Indians and they do not do well, even at home (1-10 is horrid at home). Its either hitting, or pitching or both. The hitting overall has not been there. Its understandable the way Alexi Ogando has been pitching, however you have to get something off of Derek Holland. Letting a middle of the road starter get his 2nd shutout of his career is inexcusable for a team who has claim to the best record in baseball. We knew the Rangers could hit, the Indians needed to hit their pitching but didn't.
While Masterson was tagged for 4 runs in the box score, he had great stuff. Justin struck out 7 batters in 6 1/3rd and left the game with 2 runners on. He did give up 10 hits, but very few of those hits were strong hits (they were mostly bad contact that found a hole). Sipp got rocked for 2 home runs and sadly, Masterson got tagged with an extra 2 runs when he was pitching so well. The last 2 games, the long-ball really killed the Indians. Carmona was also much better than his stat-line suggests, however he missed on 2 pitches. Unfortunately, both pitches were hit for home runs by Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz, the Rangers' two best pure power guys. With a lineup like that, you can't miss a pitch or else you will pay.
I had said before about the possibility of Thome coming to Cleveland, and it looks like the situation may be more dire. It will be another 2-3 weeks until Hafner is rehabbing. Not playing, rehabbing. The Indians need another bat badly. "Shelley Duncan, DH" and "Playoff Team" should never be in the same sentence. While teams do not like to trade in the division, this one would make some sense because Thome is a guy you rent for a year and the Twins are not going anywhere.
If they don't go after Thome, they should push hard for Casey Blake at the deadline. If the Dodgers are still under .500 by the deadline, they will be sellers considering their payroll. Blake will likely be out the door because he is a short term option and relatively expensive. He is having a good season and is getting hits, something the Indians desperately need right now. He can also be a utility guy, filling in at 1st, corner OF, and 3B.
Lawrence Vickers insists he is a "West Coast Offense" Fullback. Yeah, he can probably play in the offense. Whats more likely is its a player crying out who is stuck between a lockout and a mid-round rookie. He is afraid of losing his job and I don't blame him. He has been a great asset to the browns.
Jim Tressel's firing was the big news this week. Personally, I think the guy made big mistakes but I don't completely hold it against him. He sold his soul for a National Championship when he courted with the Claretts, the Troy Smiths, and the Pryors of the world. All these guys were top prospects, but had serious incidents that hurt Tressel. He wanted to win so badly, he stuck by his players and covered their mistakes up. There are a lot of people at fault here, not just Tressel. The players are also at fault and the NCAA's hypocritical rules help to drive the players to these actions. You know you are ridiculously out of touch when South Park rips on you. Its easy for people to target Tressel since he is such a well known figure, but everyone's been doing it. Pete Caroll did it and got out before the NCAA cornered him. Its not right because everyone does it, its just hypocritical then to take out all the frustration on Tressel.