LoL Dempster

This Cub pitching staff won't do anything come October. They are only good at home.

"Man Shaq, You KILLED It On That One"

Lil' Wayne needs to watch his back because someone is coming for his No. 1 spot.

See, freestyle battle rapping is as old as the genre of hip-hop itself.

Whether it was Kool Mo Dee versus LL Cool J back, Nas versus Jay-Z (who are now, as the kids say "tight") or 50 Cent versus any rapper ... rap battles are as American as apple pie. However, when hip-hop and hoops cross paths, that's when it gets interesting.

Enter stage left, Shaquille O'Neal.

The Big Cactus recently took to the stage of a New York night club and spit some hot fire in the direction at former teammate and mortal enemy Kobe Bryant in the feud that will seemingly never end.

Is that a good thing? For people like me, yes, it is. It gives us something to write about. Something to shoot in an e-mail to your co-workers or others you may know who are trapped in the cubicle in search of something that will make their day. And it gives me the opportunity to splice two of my favorite things: sports and hip-hop.

And can you blame me? Check out these hot lines by Shaq:

“I love ‘em / I can’t leave ‘em / I got a vasectomy / now I can’t breed ‘em.”

That's some Lil' Wayne stuff right there.

"It's like Patrick Ewing having more rings than me."

Nice. Way to take down Pat in his hometown. That's ballsy and I like that.

With those two lines alone, the starting center for the NBA's Phoenix Suns has lyrically outshined multi-million dollar selling artist 50 Cent.

So Kobe, tell me how does Shaq's ass taste?

I'll be awaiting your response.

P.S. I can't wait 'til Weezy hops on the remix to this one.

Olympic Hoops '08: Size Doesn't Matter

What the 2008 Olympic Men's Basketball team lacks in size, it makes up in star power.

Kobe Bryant and LeBron James headline a squad looking to erase the memories of a Bronze Medal finish in 2004. With Bryant and James leading the way, it will be up to head coach Mike Krzyzewski to mold the rest of the players into a fluid team concept.

And that supporting cast reads like an All-Star team in its own right. Carmelo Anthony, Carlos Boozer, Chirs Bosh, Dwight Howard, Jason Kidd, Chris Paul, Tayshaun Prince, Michael Redd, Dwyane Wade and Deron Williams.

And if you're not impressed with that, flanking Coach K on the bench are Hall of Fame Syracuse head boss Jim Boeheim, Portland Trail Blazers head coach Nate McMillan and newly-appointed New York Knicks head coach Mike D'Antoni.

USA Basketball is basically running with a fresh start, for only James, Wade, Boozer and Anthony return from that nationally televised disappointment in 2004. Coach Larry Brown is gone and so are Tim Duncan, Allen Iverson, Amare Stoudemire, Shawn Marion, Stephon Marbury, Richard Jefferson, Lamar Odom and Emeka Okafor.

On paper, the '08 squad should wipe the floor with the '04 team despite the leadership of The Big Fundamental (Duncan) and the man with the biggest heart in the world (Iverson.)

And thanks to the national media, it's not going to be all butterflies and rainbows with this squad as the media folk would like you to believe that this team lacks big men.

And yes, it does lack height as there isn't a 7-footer to be seen. However, don't be fooled by the hype. Howard, Bosh and Boozer can handle the four and five spots on the floor because any of those guys can put up 25 and 15 on any given night. At 6-10, Tayshaun Prince can handle the three and the four on both sides of the floor and at 6-8, 'Melo can do the same.

The team's strength will be in the backcourt. Think about it, Coach K's system at Duke made Bobby Hurley, J.J. Redick, Trajan Langdon and William Avery look so good that NBA front office types used lottery picks to draft these guys. Imagine what kind of offensive juggernaut that Coach K and D'Antoni will have at their hands with CP3 and D-Wade running a fast break with Kobe and LeBron.

Don't worry, I'll wait.

And as you wipe the drool off your chin, imagine the alleys D-Williams and J. Kidd could throw up and the oops that Howard, Boozer and Bosh could throw down.

Lost in all this is sharpshooter Michael Redd, who will thrive against the 2-3 zones that most international teams will be using this August.

So keep your immobile big men. Give me athletes, sharpshooters and some revolutionary minds on the bench and I can almost guarantee the Gold will be coming home to the U.S. of A.

A Return To Greatness?

In a world where college athletes are treating their college experience, shall I say, like a one night stand, several hoopsters are coming back to campus for one more round.

Arguably, the most notable returnees are Ty Lawson, Wayne Ellington and Danny Green are returning to Chapel Hill to team with reigning Player of the Year Tyler Hansbrough hoping to win a National Championship for Roy Williams and the Tar Heels.

Other notable returns include Texas guard A.J. Abrams, Arizona sharpshooter Chase Budinger and Gonzaga lead guard Jeremy Pargo.

There's no question that each of these players are talented enough to make the jump to the NBA, but another year of seasoning under the tutelage of some of college's best coaches can only make them better.

It's unfortunate other players either don't realize it or don't care to realize it. The NBA would be a much better product if the league decided to do like the NFL and make it so where early entrants can only make the jump three years after their high school class graduates.

Michael Beasley is good enough to be a starting forward in the NBA, but imagine how much better he would be after two more years of dominating the Big 12. He could develop some more post moves and maybe silence the critics that say he isn't a hard enough worker, all while putting up 26 and 12.

Scouts believe Derrick Rose is the kind of point guard that can change the face of a franchise, but how much better could he be if he improved on that 33.7-percent shooting from the 3-point line or that less than impressive 71.2% shooting clip from the free-throw line.

The longer these players stay, the better they get. Seeing these kids for three (maybe four) years would not only would that make the college game better, but when they took the next step into the NBA they'd be more prepared.

But I guess that makes too much sense.

Willie Randolph Got Hosed!

Some experts pegged the New York Mets and the Detroit Tigers as the teams to beat in their respective leagues. Now, the two are fighting it out to be forever known as the biggest disappointment in each franchise's history.

The difference: Motown's skipper Jim Leyland still has a job and Willie Randolph is making his way towards the unemployment line.

Randolph was axed at approximately 3:00 a.m. on the east coast, hours after the Mets beat the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. And while SportsCenter ran clips of a team seemingly rallying around its manager, the Breaking News crawl had Randolph as fired.

A 34-35 record (at the time of the firing) isn't terrible because of those 35 losses, 21 of them have come on the road where everyone in the world seems to struggle when they are not in the comforts of home.

But in a city that is delusional enough to think it should win every game, 1 game under .500 is unacceptable.

But how much blame should Randolph receive?

Carlos Beltran's slash stats (.270/.372/.475) with 10 homers and 47 RBIs is not worth $18.5 million. Carlos Delgado's offense hasn't just dropped, it's jumped off the Empire State Building because something has to explain having almost as many strikeouts (59) as hits (60.) Luis Castillo isn't terrible, but in a division with Dan Uggla, Chase Utley and Kelly Johnson producing at second base, .269/.367/.347 just isn't cutting it.

I guess that's Willie Randolph's fault.

Pedro's arm is falling off and so is Billy Wagner's ninth inning production.

Again, that's on Randolph. Right?

In the end, the firing was cowardly and that's just putting it mildly. How do you fire a manager in the middle of a series? How do you send the VP of Player Relations to whack the skip? Why was it done when the East Coast is sleeping?

And really, the real question is how do you replace Willie Randolph with Jerry Manuel?

I guess it's time to start counting down the days 'til Omar Minaya is relieved of his duties because his Latin American All-Star team hasn't worked out too well.

Mike > Kobe ... 'Nuff Said!

Michael Jordan is the greatest player to ever step on the hardwood. You know that. I know that. Everyone with an ounce of Basketball IQ knows that.

Let it sink in. Best Ever.

And while LeBron James might take a shot at that title down the line (especially if he wins a few championships and improves on that career 72.8% free-throw percentage) Kobe Bryant had the chance to really make his voice heard in the argument of being the G.O.A.T.

Unfortunately for Bryant, the Boston Celtics hit the mute button. En route to clinching their 17th title, the Celtics shut down the league MVP to the tune of 25.6 PPG, 40-percent shooting from the field and 32-percent shooting from 3-point land.

And if you're feeling a sense of deja vu after watching Game 6, you're not the only one.

Just like he did in Game 5, Bryant began the game like he was shooting with a blowtorch. He shot 4-of-5 from the field including 3-of-4 from beyond the arc. KB24's 13-point first quarter was eerily similar to his 15-point first quarter in Game 5.

And just like Game 5, that's where it ended.

Paul Pierce & Co. tied Kobe's hands with twine and shoved him in the freezer as his Laker teammates followed. Actually, they didn't, but they might as well have.

Kobe went basket-less from the 5:30 mark in the first quarter to the 7:07 mark of the 3rd. Bryant finished with a team-high 22 points on 7-of-22 shooting. That's not the stuff that champions are made of.

After knifing his way through the talent-heavy teams of the Western Conference, he was out-dueled by Paul Pierce. It seems so long ago when the man known as "The Truth" was almost run out of Beantown before Ray Allen came a-callin' and Minnesota Timberwolves exec Kevin McHale sent Kevin Garnett out east in exchange for Al Jefferson and Sebastian Telfair's high school highlight video.

Kobe is the best player in the NBA today, I understand that. He has the ability to light up scoreboards by making acrobatic shots and by throwing down thunderous dunks that a FatHead couldn't even capture. And yes, three championships, numerous All-Star appearances and a Most Valuable Player award put him in rarefied air (pun intended.)

All of that was thwarted thanks to stifling defense and a lack of production by his teammates. In the Game 6 loss Lamar Odom scored 14 points, Jordan Farmar had 12 and Pau Gasol pitched in with 11.

I would be more willing to cut Kobe some slack had he lit up the Celts despite the losing effort. Instead, he'll catch a lot of the blame and it will be well deserved. Where Jordan thrived in taking over games late after getting his teammates involved early, Bryant failed.

Instead of demanding the rock, Black Mamba deferred to Odom, Farmar, Gasol, Sasha Vujacic and Derrick Fisher. And he seemed intent on doing so, as if he wanted to show the world how much great he was by pantsing his teammates and proving to the world that the aforementioned Lakers would likely be jobless without Bryant's talent.

And even with that talent, the final score read 131-92. Shouldn't that score be a little closer since the best player in the world is playing on the team with 92 points? Shouldn't he have 40 of those himself?

Guess not. And that's where the Jordan comparisons should completely come to an end because Jordan never let his teammates hold him down.

Remember, this is the man who scored 63 in the (original) Garden before Scottie Pippen, Horace Grant, John Paxson and Dennis Rodman were even in the team picture.

Did Jordan ever check down to see what Pip was doing? No. How about Ron Harper? Nope. What about Bill Cartwright? Don't worry, I'll wait.

The only times I saw No. 23 call a number other than his own was in 1993 when Johnny Jumpshot buried the Phoneix Suns and when Steve Kerr finished off the Utah Jazz in 1997.

That's it.

While Kobe & The Gang have a quiet plane ride home to L.A., Boston celebrates it's almost perfect sports year as they make their case for ESPN's Titletown USA competition.

Now that it's over, I can't help but wonder when the Kobe-to-Chicago for the No. 1 overall pick rumors will begin.

What, too soon?

No News Like Old News

In the May 27 issue of Sports Illustrated there was a nice piece done on Texas Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton and his battle back from a cocaine addiction.

Check it out here.

In regards to the article I've heard a lot of "experts" criticizing him in a way similar to that of much maligned Miami Dolphins running back Ricky Williams. Williams didn't really have a passion for anything other than studying scripture and smoking dope but he came back to football for the money.

There's no doubt in that and his story is similar to the Hamilton story in that both had drug addictions and cleaned up to get back into their respective leagues. Hamilton mentions that he doesn't watch ESPN highlights or read box scores because he isn't really a "fan" of the game. Williams isn't a "fan" of the game either and never really said he plans to or has already, quit smoking marijuana. He's staying clean to pick up a paycheck and I suppose this year will show if he's the Williams of old or just old.

Hamilton and his story is well-documented. If you read the article you see that he has quit using drugs of any kind to a point that he's even afraid to go out with teammates after games for fear of relapse. Is he playing the game just for the money at this point? Probably. Does that mean we can't root for him? Absolutely not. While Hamilton may not have the love for the game that a fan does, he goes out there every day and does his job and does it well.

While it is a game, it's still a job for these guys.

As long as Hamilton stays clean he'll remain a good story. Anything positive that can help a recovering addict is good, despite the fact that we want everyone who plays sports to "love" it.

On a funnier note, in the very unlikely event the Texas Rangers won the American League West, what would Hamilton do?

Champagne is poured onto teammates, beers are chugged and all sorts of wild antics ensue inside the clubhouse after something like that. Does he just jump in the car with his advisor after the team clinches it? Does he run into the bathroom and close his eyes? Does everyone spray Diet Coke and Grape Juice? It would be a rather interesting site to see but don't worry, the Rangers aren't even close...


This is a hell of a way to end a short week of blogging. I'm going on vacation and will be away from my computer 'til at least Monday. But don't worry, I have stuff in the can that will be unleashed beginning next Tuesday. Hopefully.

Unfortunately, I won't be able to put out my unique spin on the Bulls coaching search which would have netted the team (presumably) its first player-coach, Michael Beasley.

Topics that might be touched on are as follows:
  • Where has Mark Prior gone?
  • Chicago's Olympic Hopes
  • Sleeping with the enemy (like when you're most hated rival joins your favorite team)
  • The statistical anomaly that was the 2005 Chicago White Sox
  • And hopefully a preview of the Crosstown Classic
That's it. I'm gone to pack. Take care! Maybe Hartwig or I Am Legend will grace you with some insight while I'm gone.

That's only if you behave yourself.

Should The Red Sox Pursue Barry Lamar Bonds?

If losing 1B/DH David Ortiz is damaging to my fantasy team, imagine how the Boston Red Sox feel.

"Big Papi" has been placed on the DL retroactive to June 1 because of a torn tendon in his wrist. Despite a slow start, which has his batting average currently sitting at .252, Ortiz has 13 home runs and 43 RBIs. Until further notice, manager Terry Francona has moved left fielder Manny Ramirez into the designated hitter slot while Jacoby Ellsbury, Coco Crisp and J.D. Drew man the outfield.

And while the Red Sox still have one of the most explosive offenses in baseball, the BoSox are basically replacing David Ortiz's bat with Coco Crisp and that's not going to be good in the long haul.

Enter stage left Barry Lamar Bonds.

Bonds, Major League Baseball's home run king, is sitting at home awaiting a phone call from somebody (anybody) who wants to pay him to play baseball. The Red Sox, who are in second place behind the Tampa Bay (not Devil) Rays are in search of a left-handed power hitter to fill in for an injured star.

It's not like anyone's really interested in Bonds right now. There won't be any competing offers, so you can get baseball's most prolific home run hitter without entering a bidding war.

In 2007, Bonds hit 28 home runs in 340 at-bats with an on-base percentage of .480. You can easily slide him in to the three-hole and have Ramirez batting with a runner on 48% of the time. There isn't a hitter in the world that wouldn't want that, let alone the RBI machine known as Man-Ram.

And it's not like Bonds will just be padding his stats, though that is what he'll be doing if/when he comes back. Barry is hungry for a ring, and with the kind of talent the Red Sox have, it might be his best chance ever.

So there's a free agent with these career numbers: 762 HRs, 1,996 RBIs, .298 BA and a .444 OBP. And your team needs a free agent. Sounds like a match made in heaven, right?

Well, almost. See, this wouldn't even be an issue if it wasn't for three dreaded letters: H-G-H.

But let's be honest, if adding Barry Bonds would guarantee you a World Championship, would you care about BB's past? Wait, what if Bonds was caught juicing (CJ in your scorecards) the night your favorite team clinched the title.

I wouldn't.

Because if my favorite team won the World Series, Barry's BALCO usage would be the furthest thing from my mind. I'd probably be too busy downing Old Style, spraying champagne on Erin Andrews and the Wrigleyville beauty of my choice.

Somewhere, there's a fan in Boston thinking the same way as I am.