I've found that the best source of movie reviews is the kid working behind the popcorn counter. They've seen everything that's out; you won't get any movie-critic-artsy-fartsy nonsense -- just a good, common-people review of what's at the multiplex.
Wednesday night, I'm waiting to see Star Trek, and the popcorn kid tells me that what I should be seeing is Mud with Mathew McConaughey, which is funny because he's now the third person to share this with me. In a summer movie season filled with blockbusters like Iron Man, Star Trek and the upcoming Hangover 3 and Man of Steel, it's Mathew freakin' McConaughey claiming scoreboard with his 98% on Rotten Tomatoes.
The author's premise, in this case NFL writer Chris Burke, is to praise the Cardinals for their work this offseason while acknowledging reality; they play in the NFC West. The 49ers are loaded. The Seahawks are loaded. They are not only the two best teams in the division but perhaps the conference, heck maybe in the NFL. Oh yeah, and St. Louis kinda killed it in the draft and look to be trending upwards.
Burke suggests that the Cardinals could be vastly improved in 2013 with nary an extra win to show for it. I agree with the premise but with one caveat I'll get to in a second.
I agree the Cardinals have had a good great offseason. There are question marks that can't be glossed over -- Daryl Washington's dicey status and the selection of Tyrann Mathieu in particular -- but between the draft, free agency and the acquisition of Carson Palmer, I think Keim and company nailed it.
I agree with the notion that it might not matter in this division. Box office is all that matters in Hollywood and I'm pretty sure Mud ain't gettin' any.
What if something happens to Colin Kaepernick or Russell Wilson? What if NFL defensive coordinators, with a year's worth of tape as reference, figure out a way to slow their attacks? What if one of those teams is besieged by injuries? It's the NFL, it happens.
I understand the "what if" argument isn't the most sound one, but all you have to do is go back and look at preseason predictions from any year to understand that very little in this league goes according to script. You have to be prepared when they don't and I believe the Cardinals are prepared.
The 49ers are Iron Man. The Seahawks are Star Trek. The Cardinals are Mud, and I mean that in the nicest way.
By now the Justin Upton trade has been evaluated every which way possible. And unfortunately for Martin Prado, he will always be compared to the former D-backs' top overall pick, and there is not much he can do about it.
But while I am a big believer that in every trade there is a winner and loser, I do think there is an angle to this trade that hasn't been discussed but needs to be. And that is that Prado, while traded for Upton, did not replace him. Prado, in essence, replaced Chris Johnson. It's Cody Ross who actually replaced Upton.
So it's a better indicator to look at how Prado compares to Diamondback third basemen from last year and how Ross compares to Upton. Now Ross missed the first 10 games of the season with a bum calf, but since coming off the disabled list, he is hitting .290 with a homer and 10 RBIs. Not comparable to Upton's 13 homers, 23 runs batted in and .285 average, but numbers that aren't bad.
It's easier to compare player for player when they play the same position, ala Jarrod Parker for Trevor Cahill.
Now history shows that the team that gets the best player almost always wins the trade, so I do expect history when all is said and done will show the Braves got the better of the deal.
But if you compare Prado to D-backs third basemen and Ross to Upton, it's a more fair comparison.
It's been eight years since the Arizona Diamondbacks drafted Justin Upton; he spent six seasons in a D-backs uniform, was traded four months ago and will play against his former team for the first time Monday night.
And I still haven't figured him out.
When Upton steps onto that field Monday, is he the hero or the villain?
I was hoping by now for clarity regarding one of the most enigmatic athletes to ever play in Arizona, but as I sit to write this, I realize I have more questions about Upton than I ever did when he was here.
Why were the Diamondbacks so intent on trading him? Or, more to the point, why did they actively put themselves in a position where they had no choice but to trade him?
Will he ever reach this much talked about ceiling or is this who he is? And by "this" I mean a wildly talented player who routinely fluctuates between greatness and just so-so-ness. Some like to point out that he's only 25. I like to counter that he has amassed nearly 2,800 at bats in his major league career.
I don't want to see him fail but I sure as hell don't want to see him kill it either. Why is that?
More than anything though -- this was something Nick Piecoro touched upon in his Upton story this weekend -- how different would this all have turned out if Upton had gone on the DL for his thumb injury a year ago? If he sits and heals and has a second half as dominant as his 2011 season, I can't imagine the Diamondbacks would have moved him. And why didn't he go on the DL? He said he wanted to play through it. Fine. Wasn't it then incumbent on the D-backs to be the grown-ups here and make him get healthy? Guys play through injuries all the time, I get it, but if he can't even grip a bat properly, it sure seems counter-productive to run him out there every day.
The answers aren't likely to come over these next three games. If Upton has a great series but the D-backs win two of three, who won? Who lost?
Just because something starts the same way doesn't mean, by rule, it has to end the same way.
You and I can go to the same restaurant and have completely different experiences. Between the waiters, the chef, the food, the hostess and the valet attendant (I don't usually valet the car but I needed one more example), it's all a series of twists and turns that potentially yields uncommon results. Bear that in mind when I make the following comparison:
Ryan McDonough reminds me of Josh Byrnes.
Not the man, mind you, the situation. I write this having not met him yet -- that moment comes Thursday when Gambo and I host the show from US Airways Center.
Young, bright, super innovative, a blend of the new world analytics and the old school, eyeballs-on-the-target scouting, a pedigree of working with some of the best in the industry. A highly-praised selection from the moment it was announced.
Now, we all know Byrnes' tenure with the Diamondbacks did not end well, be it the Eric Byrnes contract or letting A.J. Hinch ride shotgun from the manager's seat.
But at the beginning, there was hope. Hope that the D-backs made a wise choice. Hope that Byrnes would stabilize a ship that was floundering from bad signings (Russ Ortiz), bad decisions (Wally Backman) and bad PR (Jerry Colangelo shown the door).
He ushered in what was presumed to be an era of believability. For a long while it was just that.
The hope is that McDonough can do the same. I have yet to read one credible NBA observer who doesn't think the Suns absolutely killed it with this hire. When Lon Babby was on our show Tuesday, even he joked that it's been a long time since he's heard widely praised and his name in the same sentence.
McDonough has a mess to cleanup himself: Michael Beasley, mediocre draft picks, a plethora of future picks, and a coaching carousel that made us all nauseous.
I am as hopeful today about McDonough as I was that day about Byrnes.
I am even more hopeful that just because their tales start the same way, doesn't mean it has to end so.
The Phoenix Suns say that Lindsey Hunter is still a candidate for the head coaching vacancy, but he has about a snowball's chance in hell of actually getting the job.
I'm sure at some point Hunter was promised an interview with the new general manager and that is why he is still a candidate. And I'm sure newly-hired GM Ryan McDonough was asked to keep an open mind about Hunter when he took the job. So at some point, McDonough and Hunter will actually meet and talk, and I don't expect the Suns' interim coach to be able to blow away the kid from Boston during the interview process. So with that being said, here are the four candidates who have a legitimate shot at being the next head coach of the Phoenix Suns.
1) Kelvin Sampson - The former college head coach at Washington State, Oklahoma and Indiana is going to get a gig running a show in the NBA. He has NBA experience in recent years as an assistant in Milwaukee and San Antonio. He is a hot candidate, with Milwaukee, Philadelphia and Charlotte all interested in interviewing him.
2) Quin Snyder - The former Missouri head coach has resurrected his career by working his tail off. He has worked as an assistant with the 76ers, coached in the D-League with the Austin Toros, worked in Los Angeles with the Lakers as an assistant and in Russia with CSKA Moscow.
3) Brian Shaw - After 15 years as a player in the NBA, which included being a part of five championship teams, Shaw spent seven years as an assistant coach of the Lakers and has been with Indiana as an associate head coach since 2011.
4) Mike Budenholzer - The Arizona native played professionally in Europe. He has been a San Antonio Spurs assistant since 1996.