Playoff time often creates a sense of hostility between fans, opposing players and yes, sometimes the food that gets shared between them.
Food poisoning apparently is not an uncommon practice if you want to try and take down your favorite team's favorite. Even earlier this year, personal trainer Tim Grover attributed tainted hotel room service for Michael Jordan's famous "flu game".
But San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker didn't even have to worry about ill-prepared food earlier Friday in Memphis. He wasn't even given the chance to be served at popular establishment.
Parker attempted to eat at Restaurant Iris, but was promptly denied upon entry.
The owner confirmed as much but gave a slightly different reason than the "he plays for the team that's up 2-0 on the Grizzlies" logic.
The D-backs' offense has been a hair above terrible in the last two weeks. The Padres have been playing much better ball than their talent should allow. They've also owned Arizona at Chase Field. If the offense of the D-backs is truly made of grinders, the offensive slump should end now.
I want to see Roy Hibbert declare himself king of the paint. Shane Battier showed to Hibbert that the Heat believe he can be intimidated. The first drive to the hoop by Miami should end up in a flagrant foul on Hibbert.
Zach Randolph needs to show the real Zach Randolph. He should be a force in these playoffs and this series. Against San Antonio, Randolph has been totally marginalized. This is not the Randolph from the last three regular seasons. Memphis must get that "Z."
Maloney is one of the biggest reasons for the Coyotes' success over the past few seasons. He was signed to the team in 2007 and the organization hasn't looked back since.
Under Maloney's tenure, the Coyotes have had a cumulative record of 230-172-56, including three playoff appearances. That's admirable when in charge of a normal team, but factor in the ownership kerfuffle and this man clearly has a knack for not just signing names, but building teams.
The Coyotes, as we all know, are not a team that relies on talent to post wins, but a system that emphasizes the basics, team play and effort. It's a machine that needs all of its cogs working or else it falls apart, a stool that falls without its legs.
The re-signing of Maloney acts as one of those legs for the Coyotes but the organization still has a long way to go to stay competitive.
It's become a routine topic during the summer, but the team is still without an owner. Hopefully Maloney putting pen to paper is a good indicator that the sale process is moving along, but no one knows for sure.
Whether or not the sale goes through, the Coyotes now need to focus on retaining head coach Dave Tippett, whose contract is up. He's going to attract a lot of attention should he be allowed to hit the free market and, without an owner willing to get the type of players Tippett demands, he may choose to take his talents -- and system -- elsewhere.
The Coyotes are hitting a key free agency period. With Maloney in place, the team can likely still acquire several players, but decisions need to be made. The two biggest cogs that are unrestricted free agents are goalie Mike Smith (arguably one of the best 'tenders in the NHL) and forward Boyd Gordon (the shot-blocking, faceoff guy who embodies Tippett's system).
Several other players, most notably forwards Kyle Chipchura and Mikkel Boedker (RFA) and defenseman Michael Stone (RFA), are likely to attract a good deal of attention come July 5. If those players leave, the Coyotes will be hard-pressed to find effort players that can still produce at a value price.
Signing Maloney was a big step for the Coyotes in an important off-season. He's part of the reason the team is competitive and the first leg of the proverbial stool, but they still have work to do. A lot of it.
Postgame interviews usually follow a similar script.
The reporter asks someone from the winning team a few questions about the game, what it means for the team, and what to look for in the future.
In a way, they're a necessary evil with regards to the television broadcast.
The Cincinnati Bearcats, though, take a bit of a different stance on the idea. Sure, one of the players always chats with someone from BearcatsTV, and there's nothing novel about that. But it's what the player's teammates do while the interview is being conducted that is worth a look. And at least a few laughs.
Daniel Hudson is getting closer to making things a lot more interesting for the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The pitcher, who is working to return after Tommy John surgery, threw to opposing batters for the first time last week and reportedly looked pretty good in the process. Assuming there are no real setbacks in his recovery, the 26-year-old could find his way back into the rotation as soon as sometime next month.
Assuming, of course, the Diamondbacks have a place for him. As of now there isn't one, and if the plan is for Hudson to re-join the rotation, someone is going to have to get the boot. But who?
Well, it won't be Patrick Corbin, as the second-year pro has turned into the club's ace. And it isn't likely to be Wade Miley or Trevor Cahill, as both have been solid this season. Brandon McCarthy, who would have seemed like the easy (based on numbers) choice, seems to have righted the ship.
That leaves Ian Kennedy, but could he really be the odd man out?
The team's Opening Day starter each of the last three seasons, Kennedy just hasn't been that good of late. In fact, he hasn't been particularly good since 2011, when he won 21 games, posted an ERA of 2.88 and finished fourth in the NL Cy Young voting. It was a season that seemingly came out of nowhere, and is proving more and more to be the exception rather than the rule.
Since that season, Kennedy has produced a 17-15 record to go along with a 4.17 ERA. Not terrible, not particularly good. Average, really. However, his 4.70 ERA in 2013 represents his worst mark since becoming a full-time Major League starter, and with his walk rate up and his strikeout rate down. The D-backs are 5-5 in games he's started.
That's as mediocre as it gets, and for a team that will go only as far as its pitching takes them, mediocre will not be enough.
The good news, at least for Kennedy, is that Hudson is not anywhere close to breathing down his neck. There is still time to turn his season around, and while no one should expect his 2011 form, there's nothing that says he can't find a level somewhere in between.
If he doesn't?
Well, as MLBTradeRumors.com suggested last week, perhaps D-backs GM Kevin Towers will look to deal his 28-year-old right-hander. Though Kennedy is under team control through 2015, his production may not necessarily equal his production. Would a trade be the best way to free up some room in the rotation?
Probably, leaving the only question as to when a deal or two will be made.
Because along with Hudson's inevitable return will be the arrival of some of the young hurlers from the team's farm system. Tyler Skaggs is not long for the minor leagues, whereas Archie Bradley, David Holmberg and Andrew Chafin could all find their way into the Major League roster in the next couple of years.
All of those pitchers -- and Hudson, too -- are unproven commodities at the moment. But the second one of them surpasses Kennedy as an option in the rotation, the D-backs will have to start examining their options with regards to who they will turn to every fifth day.
The potential season-ending Achilles injury to Michael Crabtree could have a huge effect on the NFC West race this season. Crabtree, who had 85 catches for 1,105 yards and nine touchdowns last season, was clearly Colin Kaepernick's favorite target and was turning into one of the better receivers in the NFL. The 49ers do have the talent to overcome the loss. They added Anquan Boldin to the receiving corps this offseason. They have an offensive line built around three first-round picks and a dominant runner in Frank Gore, so they could easily adjust to running the ball more. And they have a great tight end in Vernon Davis, who could become more of a focal point of the offense again. But not having their top receiver will hurt.
The one team that may benefit most from Crabtree's absence is the Cardinals. In two games vs. Arizona, Crabtree had 13 catches for 244 yards and four touchdowns. In the 49ers' 24-3 win in Week 8 with Alex Smith as the quarterback, he had five receptions for 72 yards and two touchdowns. Playing with Kaepernick in the final game of the regular season, Crabtree torched the Cardinals for eight receptions for 172 yards and two more touchdowns in a 27-13 victory, and in the process became the first 49er to go over 1,000 yards receiving since 2003.
So if Crabtree does indeed miss the entire season, Arizona will be one of many teams who won't miss him.
I'm really disappointed at how good Cahill's stuff is and how average (at worst) or inconsistent (at best) he is as a pitcher. Keep in mind though, he is pitching much better than Jarrod Parker, whom he was traded for. Cahill is 3-5 with a 2.81 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP. Parker is 2-6 with a 5.76 ERA and a 1.61 WHIP.
Everyone's all over you for leaving Roy Hibbert on the bench for both of LeBron's drives to the bucket. They're right. You're a great coach who just out-thought the room. I know why you did it, but you were wrong to do it. Which is worse, Hibbert caught in a mismatch because you're switching screens or the greatest player in the world in a lay-up line?
So many people think it's a no-brainer that he's a Hall of Famer. Is he a no-brainer if he spent his entire career in Jacksonville? I don't think so.
He's a great player who's had a great career. He's also getting a boost from the "Monsters of the Midway" mystique and his positional link to Butkus and Singletary. I'm not standing at attention guarding the Hall from him. It's not blasphemy if he gets in. Pete Rose once said, "If you have to think about it, they're not a Hall of Famer," and I'm thinking about it.
On the MLB standings page there's a column "POFF." It stands for "Playoff % chance." In the National League West, there's a 3-way tie for third with the Diamondbacks, Giants and Rockies all possessing a 26-21 record. Despite having the same record, the Rockies have the highest percentage chance to win the playoffs. Arizona is second and San Francisco is a distant third.
I love Sabermetrics. I find the work of Bill James fascinating and I've learned so much about baseball reading his work. Current statistics for run differential determine playoff percentage. So if the D-Backs would have just won Monday by a wider margin and lost Wednesday by a smaller margin, they would have a higher win percentage despite the same record and same win/loss result from this week's series. Any formula that counts a run in Coors Field as being equal to a run scored in another ballpark is ludicrous. I can safely say the Rockies will not win the National League West despite ESPN's calculator.
In real-life, the ability to operate "outside the box" is considered a compliment. It's a trait that's highly sought-after and well-compensated.
In baseball, it's an illness. And it's slowly killing the game. In the eyes of the masses, all the time spent outside the batter's box turns into wasted time. More than ever, that's time that people feel can (and will be) better spent elsewhere.
Now, have we commissioned some sort of Mitchell Report? No. (Although, if we did, we would eventually read it -- unlike Bud Selig.)
Our data is strictly anecdotal. Frequent encounters with sports fans who feel the need to vent (do I look like Dr. Phil or somethin'? Wait, don't answer that).
Typically, the conversation evolves into the following observation: "I find myself yelling at the game of baseball more than ever."
We're not talking about disagreeing with an ump or a manager. Not even yelling at the airing of concession stand infomercials during key moments in the late innings.
Instead, we're talking about yelling at batters like you're a Marine Corps drill sergeant: "Get back in the box already!" "Don't make me come down there!" "Do you really need to readjust your batting gloves - again?!" "And you definitely don't need to tighten ‘em up after a pitch you didn't even swing at!?!"
The delays are constant. And, for most folks, so is the agony. Yet, here's the thing -- it's all so unnecessary. That's the good news/bad news: baseball can be fixed. But, by failing to force batters to stay in the box, America's Past Its Prime…err, Pastime is cannibalizing itself.
Forget that I'm trying to sell a 6-year-old on the game of baseball. No doubt, it's a challenge to direct his attention towards the TV when the screen inevitably shows batters (and some pitchers) channeling their inner Mike Hargrove (nicknamed "Human Rain Delay" for good reason).
What's really alarming is how many people I speak with (many old enough to remember Mike Hargrove), who grew up with the game, who now report that baseball hasn't grown with them. "I can't take it. I don't watch any more…" is a common refrain that I hear over and over from (former) baseball fans.
Pick up the pace. Step on the gas. And don't change the rule book or the game itself. Simply force the big leaguers to play it.
Believe us Major League Baseball, it's in your best interest. Right now, life is passing you on the right. And you're doing ten miles under the speed limit with your hazards on…