The "LeBron vs. Kobe" NBA Finals are on the back burner for at least another year while the Cleveland Cavaliers figure out how to surround their star with championship support. In today's NBA, it turns out, no one can do it alone, not even LeBron James. It appears Kobe Bryant will beat James to the title, which shouldn't be too surprising. Bryant has a better team around him.
Joey Votto's problem for the last month was a deficiency in the resources athletes can often tap to beat aches, pains and pulls. He's struggled with dizziness after an inner ear infection and flu limited him to three full games in a 17-game stretch last month. The Reds put Votto on the 15-day disabled list May 31 due to "stress-related" issues. Addressing whether the ear infection is involved, General Manager Walt Jocketty told reporters, "It's partly that. Let’s leave it at that."
A month ago, the Xavier University baseball team didn't conjure a first thought, let alone a second. A lot of baseball happens in Cincinnati. College baseball happens very quietly. But around noon on May 25 Xavier reached quite a unique distinction when it was officially announced as a qualifier for the NCAA baseball tournament, and the Muskies will play Friday at 3 p.m. against Kansas State at the Houston Regional. Over the past month, XU put together a splendid run, winning 17 of 20 games with prodigious batsmanship and a knack for winning close contests when they didn't bludgeon opponents to death.
Anyone in America can watch every game in the NBA playoffs. But try finding the NHL, even if some playoff series features the league's two best players battling fiercely to the bitter end in Game 7. The Pittsburgh Penguins, featuring Sidney Crosby, played in the NHL's Eastern Conference semifinals against the Washington Capitals, starring Alex Ovechkin.
At some point, we'll have to value the steroid era players against history. The list of greats from recent years with steroid taint (Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Rafael Palmeiro, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, A-Rod, Manny Ramirez and others) are Hall of Famers who will at least raise serious questions about their worthiness because of drugs.
One month into the 2009 season, the task of assessing the Reds for their staying power in the National League playoff race remains a work of wild guessing. They have no stars and few track records, and the first month leaves us neither hot nor cold. But we can be reliably certain of one aspect concerning the Reds: Their plan to build a ball club around pitching shows its value again and again.
Forbes Magazine recently released two lists that should interest local sports fans. Estimating the financial values of college basketball programs, Forbes ranked Xavier as the 17th most valuable and Arizona as the sixth most valuable.
The magazine also offered its list of the nation's most miserable sports cities.
Does LeBron James want to be the greatest basketball player of all time? If he can pack away an NBA title with the Cleveland Cavaliers this spring at age 24, he's well on his way. Does James want to be a true multi-national, multi-platform billionaire media personality? He can be as rich and famous as he wants, especially if he jumps over to Europe for a couple or three years, takes the long green and really dominates the Euroleague just as easily as everyone knows he would.
Those of us looking for progress from the Reds came through the first week of the season with mixed feelings. But it ended nicely, as if a momentary crisis were averted. Meanwhile, the NCAA hockey championship game ended in a bitter disaster for Miami, as the RedHawks' apparent title went up in two goals worth of smoke with one minute left against Boston University.
The Reds are a young, talented club with big upside in a couple years. They're the envy of many clubs for their young pitching, which could become dominating. They have a couple of young, left-handed hitters to replace the old ones they let go. They've been getting younger for a while now, and if getting younger means getting better they might start getting better soon.