Tuesday, January 31, 2012

$214 Million Might Not Win the Detroit Tigers the Division

I like Prince Fielder as much as the next guy. He just got paid $214 million dollars to hit for the Detroit Tigers for the next 9 seasons. Though the contract is a bit outrageous, there's no denying how good Fielder is with a bat in his hand. That's something of an understatement - the guy can absolutely mash.

He's averaged 38 jakks, 108 RBI, 95 runs scored, to go along with a .282 batting average and a .932 OPS. He's not just a home run or bust hitter though; he's had at least 150 hits in each of his full six seasons, with at least 25 doubles. Despite carrying nearly 300 pounds on a 5'11" frame (both of those numbers are what he's listed at - I'd wager that they're both slightly exaggerated. Not in a good way), he moves well for a big man and runs like a base stealer. Most importantly, the guy is a horse at just 27 years old. I meant that figuratively, but I understand if you would misconstrue what I was typing. He's missed 13 games in 6 seasons, which is superhuman in a sport with 162 games a year. Prince Fielder is one of the 10 best hitters in the league and a perennial MVP candidate, barring a stroke or another joke/considerable reality pertaining to the fact that he's really fat.

But that all being said...I don't know how much better the Detroit Tigers are this year.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Oh. Hey. We've Got a Second Half to Play.

I'm going to be brutally honest in admitting that with the Giants playing in this football game you might have heard about this coming Sunday, I'm a little preoccupied with my own emotional anxiety this week. Really. But I was still able to look past the looming specter of next Sunday, not just to take the rockin' good time that was the NFL's annual touch football beauty pageant last night, but to notice that earlier in the day we had this thing called the NHL All-Star Game.

There was, granted, very little defense in a game that more or less devolved into superstars trying to set each other up for crazy two-on-ones without applying any actual hockey strategy. After all, we wouldn't want to risk committing penalties on a weekend when the players almost certainly had no practice running a penalty kill with each other. Despite the fact that really only half the game was played, we did get to see some pretty cool goals and some sweet celebrations to boot. And let's not forget Claude Giroux's attempts to knock down his Flyers teammate Scott Hartnell because he promised to donate $1,000 every time he fell to the ice.

But now that Hartnell's donated $4,000 to charity, it's time to focus on some more pressing matters, namely the second half of the NHL season, which will get underway Tuesday night when 26 teams take the ice. As per the NHL's usual situation, the playoff races in both the East and West are looking particularly tight at the moment. Of the 30 teams in the League only eight are more than five points out from a postseason spot, which means we'll have 22 teams fighting for 16 spots as the calendar starts to approach April. However, if we're going to be more specific about this than simply who might be headed for early spring tee times with old Jewish authors (Goodbye, Columbus! Get it?!), you're going to need a list of what the big stories are as we head down the stretch of the 2011-12 regular season.

Here's your primer. Or at least the best one I can muster.

Pittsburgh's Sid-uation
Most of the hockey world has kept its eyes on Pittsburgh this season not for who is there, but for who notably isn't. When he's healthy Sidney Crosby is according to most accounts -- including mine -- the best player on the planet. Ever since he suffered a concussion more than a year ago however, he has spent far more time rehabilitating and seeing chiropractors than he has playing hockey. Crosby had a much publicized -- and enormously successful -- return earlier this season when he scored two goals in his first game in more than 10 months and wound up tallying 10 points in 8 games. However, the headaches returned and he's been off the ice ever since, leading to much speculation which was complicated this weekend by two startling revelations, the first being that Crosby was determined to also have suffered an injury to his neck in addition to a concussion, and that Sid is apparently good friends with Tom Brady. Because of an otherworldly season by Evgeni Malkin, the Penguins have managed to stay afloat despite injuries to numerous players in addition to Crosby, most notably Kris Letang (who has since returned) and Jordan Staal, but there is no doubt that Crosby brings Pittsburgh to a different level. While the Pens expect him to return for the playoffs, questions will linger until he returns to the ice and in the worst way possible, the NHL could feasibly have found its own Peyton Manning.

Friday, January 27, 2012

State of Laker Nation: Can we all lay off Pau?

"Pau needs to shoot the ball more"

"Pau needs to establish deeper position in the paint"

"Pau needs to finish when fouled"

"Pau is too soft"

It seems that no matter what the statistics say, the accolades he's received or the titles he's been pivotal in winning, the labels always stay the same with Pau. I feel like he's Donny in the Big Lebowski. No matter what he does, or how innocuous his play is, people are (figuratively) telling him to shut the eff up and that he's out of his element.

Now keep in mind, that any player that wins a title with the Show will always have a longer leash with me. Win two titles, and your leash turns into a long rope. Win 5 titles, and your rope turns into a bomb shelter...made of rope. Regardless, I think that most of the knocks on Pau most seasons, but especially this one, are unwarranted. Let's look at the tale of the tape though, shall we?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

White American NBA Player Power Rankings, v2.0

(Check out our updated version 3.0 right here!)

The response to MAMBINO's White American NBA Player Power Rankings post was stronger than we ever could have expected. Moreso than any other trivia question in the league (best foreign players, best player ever to come out of Duke University, best second round pick, etc.), finding the highest quality white American players is tougher than you can imagine.

As we got more and more feedback, we realized that the rankings not only had to be revised, but made over almost completely. Here we go:

NHL All-Star Game: Like you in the school yard, but cooler.

Depending on your perspective when it comes to these things -- that is to say the "right" perspective or the "wrong" one -- the best part of each sport's annual midseason break is almost certainly never the All-Star Game itself. When it comes to that yearly talent showcase, each of the four major sports is prone to injury replacements, popularity contests and local host ballot stuffing that denigrate the game at its finest. And did I mention that they don't exactly play defense at these things?

As a result, the best event of the weekend gets trumped by what's around it. The MLB All-Star Game is never as fun to watch as the previous night's Home Run Derby. The NBA All-Star Game can't possibly match up to the Slam Dunk Contest. The NFL Pro Bowl is always completely inferior to, well, anything else that's on TV that night.

When it comes to my favorite All-Star weekend of the four major sports -- the NHL -- the game itself, while periodically entertaining, is nearly devoid of physical play and often results in goofy scores like 12-9. The Skills Competition on Saturday night, however, is almost always a safe bet for some impressive moments (let's see you fire a hockey puck 105.9 miles per hour), or at least some highly goofy and entertaining ones. But of all the events and innovations that the NHL has introduced to its All-Star format -- and there have been many -- the clear-cut greatest thing the League has done -- and arguably the greatest aspect of any sport's All-Star format, will be on display tonight in Ottawa.

Tonight at 8 p.m. ET, the NHL will put on its second annual NHL All-Star Fantasy Player Draft. The NHL has come up with several different All-Star formats to attempt to drive up interest, be it the obvious of Eastern Conference All-Stars against West, the more inventive version of the defending champion against the rest of the League or the North American players against the rest of the World. But as Leagues always scramble for ways to breathe fresh life into a stale product, they have come up with plenty of incredibly stupid ideas, but the NHL has come up with a phenomenal one.

All of us played sports as children, all of us have experienced the long-entrenched process of two captains alternating picks for their teams and all of us have known how awful it feels to be picked last. Or perhaps that final one was just me. But seeing it done with athletes this superior is a fresh and exciting change to an All-Star Game -- and it makes for phenomenal television. At the NHL's first Fantasy Player Draft a year ago, the very real drama that unfolded as captains Nicklas Lidstrom and Eric Staal selected their teams was fascinating to watch.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

WWE for a NBA Fan - Northwest Division (Part 5)

OHHHHH we're back baby. The NBA season is in full swing, and coincidentally or not, the road to Wrestlemania starts this Sunday with the Royal Rumble in St. Louis, Missouri. For those of you that are just catching on, I started writing the WWE for a NBA Fan at the very bottom of my lockout doldrums. With no basketball to keep my mind sane, I started drawing parallels between various NBA fan bases and the WWE stars I thought they would most identify with. Even as a deal was struck and real ball was played again, the WWE for a NBA Fan series has soldiered on. Presented here is part 5 of 6, the Northwest Division.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

State of the Garden: How to NOT Fix the Knicks

It is fairly commonplace for the average New York resident to complain about the Metropolitan Transit Authority. Service is routinely delayed or shut down. Some stations are so filthy that they might as well be turned into homeless shelters (puddles are never just rainwater). And, if you missed it this past weekend, 4 people died on MTA property. All of these problems have been around ever since the first time we stepped foot on a subway train.

But these days, the MTA is dealing with a larger underlying issue that places those problems on the back burner. The fares they collect from you and me don't cover enough of their operating expenses. And because of the economic downturn, both the city and New York State have reduced their support. That, in turn, has led to the MTA borrowing more money. The organization's debt is over 30 BILLION dollars.

So, even if the MTA wanted to open up more lines for service, clean up every single station, and employ late-night security, they can't. What they can do is hike up the fares: three times since 2008, to be exact. What they can do is lay off employees, the number of which has reached four digits. What they can do is take the necessary risk of making us upset, in order to give themselves a shot at fixing the problem.

YOUR New York Knickerbockers have problems of their own. For a decade, fans have complained about three things: poor shot selection, an inability to play team defense, and a propensity for off-court shenanigans to be the only newsworthy information involving the team. But in the Knicks' case, while we moan, groan, and start "Let's Go Giants" chants at the Garden, we have quietly accepted those problems because something was being done to fix our larger underlying issue: the existing remnants of the Isiah Thomas era.

Monday, January 23, 2012

An Ode to Kyle Williams

It was around 12:30 a.m. that I finally got home to my apartment last night and for the first time on what had been an exhausting Sunday of football, I got a pit in my stomach. It was an odd time for it considering that I, a Giants fan, had just finished watching my team win the most mentally exhausting game I've seen in nearly 20 years of following the team -- and yes that includes Super Bowl XLII -- and I was bouncing off walls knowing that my team was going to its second Super Bowl in five years.

But of the things I've learned over the years, one of the big ones is that athletes are not super human, nor are they emotionless icons to be pilloried or praised at our convenience. They're people. Just regular people like you or I. Some people don't quite realize this, and one of whom, apparently, is a random San Francisco 49ers fan named Javier Pasquel. I don't know him. I don't particularly care to meet him. I do not care to ever be involved with him in any way and that is because while trolling through my twitter feed, I came across this gem that @javpasquel put out there after having his heart broken by his Niners:

". I hope you, youre wife, kids and family die, you deserve it"

His awful grammar aside, Pasquel's point is that he, as a fan, is upset. I once made these mistakes, notably rooting for Emmitt Smith to get injured as a child, something that, considering his track record against the Giants with injuries probably would have been poor strategy. Despite Pasquel's anger however, his outlet was completely unacceptable because not only is it cruel and inhumane, but Williams is a person, too, and as the obvious goat of the Niners' 20-17 loss in overtime in the NFC Championship Game last night he is probably feeling about as awful as any person could.

Those implications of goatdom come as a result of not one, but two stunning fumbles while returning punts at pivotal times for the Niners yesterday. The first, a fluke-ish bounce that grazed his knee, was more unforgivable than the second, a clean strip by Giants linebacker and special teamer Jacquian Williams in overtime, but it is cruel, excessive and somewhat misleading to blame Williams for these two moments -- the second of which clearly led to New York's winning field goal that sent the Giants to Super Bowl XLVI. There were multiple factors leading to New York's win last night, among them the Giants consistently improving defense, the unflappable willingness to stand in the pocket by Eli Manning and perhaps most importantly, the stellar all-around job by punter Steve Weatherford. But factor into that the almost complete nonexistence of San Francisco's wide receivers throughout the game -- Michael Crabtree, whose name might not have been mentioned once during the broadcast chief among them -- as well as Alex Smith's wilting performance in the fourth quarter and overtime and you have numerous places on which to cast blame.

But beyond that, there are dozens of reasons to ache for Williams. The biggest might be that he wasn't even supposed to start this game as a punt returner, but was unexpectedly thrust into action when Ted Ginn Jr. suffered a knee injury a week earlier against New Orleans. Williams' inexperience showed throughout the game, not just in his fumbles but in several curious decisions, including a diving grab of a punt that he probably should have let go and a fair catch at the 12-yardline when he had room to run. Williams was not ready for the moment, as much of that falls not just on his youth -- he's only 23 -- but also on his coaches who are supposed to prepare him to make decisions like those rote second nature by the time the game is played.

Further lost in the drama is that Williams attempted his own mea culpa through his play. On the next kick return he had after his first fumble, Williams was an arm tackle away from breaking into open field and giving San Francisco a 21-17 lead. Shockingly that video is not available on YouTube. On the return in overtime in which he surrendered what was eventually the game-winning turnover, he once again looked like his legs would be moving for a strong return. Clearly a phenomenal athlete -- Williams was drafted by the Chicago White Sox in 2006, a team for which his father, Kenny, is the general manager -- his speed was beginning to show as the game wore on and he became more comfortable. While I will make no bones about it -- as a Giants fan I am over the moon that he lost the ball -- it is impossible for one's heart not to go out to someone who just may have had the most brutal night of his life on the biggest stage possible.

The Life and Times of Timberwolves GM David Kahn

David Kahn is the General Manager for the Minnesota Timberwolves. This is Kahn's fourth career; he began as a sportswriter for the Oregonian newspaper in Portland, then moved on with a law degree to working for the prestigious sports law firm Proskauer Rose. After several years working as counsel for the NBA, Kahn took an opportunity to work within one of its franchises as an executive with the Indiana Pacers. I've read conflicting reports about Kahn's role; some say that he worked directly under President of Basketball Operations Donnie Walsh as General Manager, but that he was mostly involved in the business development side of the Pacers (and their arena, Conseco Fieldhouse), rather than player acquisition or movement. Whatever the case in his somewhat murky employment history, Kahn went on to gain employment under Glen Taylor and his Minnesota Timberwolves, taking over for NBA Hall of Famer and former Wolves GM Kevin McHale.

Kahn's 3-year stint as GM has been, to say the least, somewhat rocky. Caught in a rebuilding movement amidst the trade of franchise cornerstone Kevin Garnett, Kahn was charged with molding the team's future starting from the ground up. Some of the incumbent Timberwolves were forwards Al Jefferson, Ryan Gomes (both obtained through dealing Kevin Garnett to the Boston Celtics), Kevin Love, 2nd year man Corey Brewer and a bunch of other guys. Other than that, the foundation was Kahn's to create.

Over the next few seasons, his decisions bordered between questionable, confusing and idiotic. Coupled with an arrogant attitude and a face that belongs to a villain in a Die Hard movie, Kahn and the Timberwolves have quickly became the laughingstock of the entire league. Here is a brief timeline of some of our favorite GM's more...interesting decisions.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Sending our favorite NBAers to the Olympics?

The preliminary 20-man roster for this summer's Olympic Team USA was released this past Monday, and of course, BockerKnocker and I could not help but derive a spirited debate from it. In this one in particular, we discussed the merits (or demerits) of putting NBA players on active contracts into what essentially amounts to a series of souped-up exhibition games. As Carmelo Anthony and Kobe Bryant both hold the keys to our respective NBA kingdoms, we had horses in this race. The specific question that spurred our latest frivolous waste of worktime productivity was: What is your stance on those two players going to play for Team USA in the 2012 London Olympics?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Challenge: Exes Preview

I never understood why the show "Two and a Half Men" did so well during the Charlie Sheen era. I would catch up a couple of episodes here and there, and while not totally awful, the show never seemed like it was worthy of the "most watched comedy" status that it has earned. I think that's how KOBEsh feels about my high praise of The Challenge, labeled a professional sport by Bill Simmons himself. To the Mambino CEO's rather slight dismay, it is the most popular Mambino topic to date, and it's not even close. He likened it to the Thriller album; it sells copies every week. And so here we are.

Last season, "Rivals" was so good that I felt like it deserved its own space. But every once in a while, MTV puts forth a cast that contains too much of their B-squad. "Exes," premiering this Wednesday, is one of those seasons. Despite that, the lists to the right and to the left have forced my hand. Below is a preview of the new season, starting Wednesday, January 25th at 10:00pm ET.

First things first: since I do this mainly for the eyes of people who actually know me, I'll begin with an overview of this season's game format.
-26 players; 13 couples
-Each episode is a challenge that pits every couple against each other. The duo that comes in last is automatically sent to "The Dome," a battlefield in which they will fight (sometimes literally) another couple for the right to stay in the game. This other couple is chosen by the twosome that wins the main challenge. So, to stay out of the Dome, you must either win the main challenge, or be on the good side of the couple who wins the main challenge.

As for the show's connection to sport, let's just say that the final challenge in every show for the past couple years will be more battle-tested than anything you'll ever do in your life. Take a look at an excerpt from last season's Final Challenge:

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

State of Laker Nation: We Need Agent Zero

Showtime has turned into Slowtime.

What was once a cute joke after the first few games of the regular season has rapidly turned into a very stark reality for the Lakers. After seeing this team play 15 games, and including a miserable 7 point quarter against the Dallas Mavericks the other night, I realize that the Show has three very glaring flaws:

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Who Needs a Big 2012?

When Kobash asked me to join this little party almost one year ago, my sports-illiterate acquaintances shrugged it off as just another website that wouldn't find a spot in their daily browsing routine. I couldn't really blame them; why read sports posts from someone who is not connected to the biz in any form?

Well, fear no longer, you wretched human being. This post is for you.

In my mind, there are 6 individuals in sports that need a giant 2012. And if you've come to this site on the promise that you'll read something that isn't sports-related, I've compared them to 6 other celebrity types who also need 2012 to justify their place on Twitter trends.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Tim Tebow: Why We Hate a Genuinely Good Person

Today is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day. On the third Monday of every January, we get to sit on our asses, away from our jobs or school, and celebrate the life of one of the most extraordinary human beings ever to grace God's green Earth. Dr. King championed for black rights in a time when the country that guaranteed them was so ready to hypocritically compromise. For some, the issues that Dr. King specifically addressed will not resonate emotionally the way it will for others. I'm not black. I have no idea what it means to be black in America in 2012, or how my parents would have felt to be black in 1960. So today means something different to me than it would to some of my friends, or my peers. For me, today is about a moral issue that had to be rectified, and that no matter the adversity in front of him, one man was able to overcome it.

That all being said, today means nothing for a lot of people. It's a day off from work that comes up on the calendar every year. It's not a day to spend time with your family, and give thanks for what you have. There are no barbecues, or parties. It's just a day to do your laundry, hit the gym or watch some basketball. Today means nothing. People don't seem interested in celebrating the life of a great person with no distinguishable flaws. And I don't know why.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Instant Trade Analysis: Other Aspects of the Day the Yanks KILLED It

Even as the prohibitive favorites to win the AL East, the New York Yankees just got favorite...er. In fact, they might be the prohibitive favorites to win the whole damn thing. Because the New York Yankees just had a day.

Already excellently covered by BockerKnocker earlier in the evening, the Yanks pulled off a major trade tonight involving the primary pieces Jesus Montero and Michael Pineda.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Instant Trade Analysis: Jesus Montero to Seattle

Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com has reported that the New York Yankees have traded uber prospect Jesus Montero to the Seattle Mariners. Also going west is promising young right-hander Hector Noesi, in exchange for stud starting pitcher Michael Pineda and minor league pitcher Jose Campos.

The Yanks have found exactly what they were looking for, a starting pitcher who can make fans feel like they don't have to start a countdown to the next time that CC Sabathia takes the hill. But at what cost?

BQ #1 - Who makes The Leap?

These Burning Questions hardly make sense anymore, considering the fact that the 2011-12 NBA season started almost a month ago. But MAMBINO doesn't quit anything, unless it concerns KOBEsh playing organized basketball (He will use all of his fouls. All of them.).

A common topic used by other people who write on the interwebs is the attempt to find the next great player. Whether it's a local columnist raving about a player who hasn't yet stepped onto the national scene, or a fantasy sports writer (nerd alert) advising readers to target a specific sleeper in late rounds, the concept is fairly simple. Who makes "The Leap?"

State of the Devils: The Trouble with Marty

By all accounts, the New Jersey Devils are doing quite well relative to their expectations this season. The 2011-12 NHL regular season is roughly halfway over, and while the Devils' place in the postseason is far from assured, they're currently sixth in the East -- a better mark than expected Cup contenders like Washington, Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay. Ilya Kovalchuk, with 38 points in 38 games leads the team in goals and is playing like his contract requires, Zach Parise has overcome a slow start to put up 38 points himself, Patrik Elias is playing like he's 26 again, putting up a team-leading 40 points, and the Devils may have uncovered diamonds in the rough both old (Petr Sykora has turned a training camp invite into 22 points) and young (All-Star rookie Adam Henrique's numbers -- 13 goals, 21 assists, plus-9 have him looking like a future star).

After some rocky beginnings, the Devils appear to have bought into new coach Peter DeBoer's system, and his aggressive penalty kill is so impressive that New Jersey not only leads the League at 90.4%, but with an NHL-best 11 shorthanded goals in 70 opportunities (15.7%), the Devils are actually more likely to score down a man than on the power play, where they've scored 22 of 148 times with the man advantage (14.9%). That may say more about how bad their power play is than anything -- and it is fairly bad -- but the point is they aren't handicapping themselves with mistakes, and their aggressive forecheck is creating opportunities, which are leading to wins. Need an example? Look no further than Wednesday night, when Kovalchuk displayed just how effective New Jersey can be at forcing chances off its defense.

But as any dedicated Devils fan could tell you, the positive signs the team has display are encouraging, but with the team unlikely to compete for a Stanley Cup this season, they are just background noise for the two biggest weights that hang on New Jersey's shoulders. The first is Parise's uncertain contract status, but as neither side seems to be talking during the season, with little news to report, there is little to talk about. The more prominent concern, however, is the uncomfortable process that every team must deal with eventually, that of an aging superstar losing his skills but needing a face-saving ride off into the sunset. The Devils have never really dealt with that before. It's unusual that one of their star players remains with the team through the end of his career -- particularly since New Jersey has never seemed particularly interested in cultivating "stars" -- but the closest approximations the Devils have dealt with so far are the three men whose numbers hang in the rafters.

Of those three, none of them ever presented the Devils with the uncomfortable quandary. Ken Daneyko retired when his skills had clearly eroded (though not before providing an emotional boost by playing in Game 7 of the 2003 Stanley Cup Final after being a healthy scratch through the first six games), Scott Stevens had his career end due to a concussion and Scott Niedermayer played the last five seasons of his career in Anaheim. While the retirement of their numbers is warranted (though some could argue Daneyko's place in that lot), none of them represented the awkward situation nor the titanic stature of Martin Brodeur.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

2012 NFL Mock Draft

UPDATE: Check out Version 2 of our Mock Draft!
COOLER UPDATE: Check out our third and final Mock!

Lots of people do Mock Drafts. The best ones are produced from tireless research efforts. The mocker attends combines, pro days, and all-star games. He (because women have far better things to do) scouts the big league teams to ascertain the needs of each one by predicting the consequences of truly unpredictable external factors. And he relentlessly watches games, far more than you, and still more than me. He uses the man's game to find weaknesses, and the boy's game to find players who can turn said weakness into a strength. Mocker Dude watches games with a different eye:  he projects professional success not only by field goal percentage, but also by the athleticism used to obtain the opportunity to attempt a tough shot. Not only by arm strength to hit a go route, but also by the mental ability to progress to the corner post route.

I do none of those things. My status as an uneducated mock blogger has been documented before. So before you go all lame on me, I know practically nothing about college football. However, my two guest contributors and I have done a pinch of research just so this post isn't a piece of garbage. Question their analysis at your own risk.

TuckRule is the author of what is currently the #9 most viewed post on this blog. Somehow, he has been allowed to live despite his hatred of cream cheese.

Gotti is the man behind Sports by Gotti. His website is more real than ours because it doesn't have that ".blogspot" attached to its URL. He lives somewhere in upstate New York that is too far for me to even think about. He is also married; bonus points or deducted points based on your point of view.

-Each pick is alternated between the three of us
-Each person can trade their pick, with the help of the NFL Draft Pick Value Chart
-Non-traditional pictures are to be used whenever possible.

How the Lockout is Crippling NBA Basketball

It's been a little over a month since the 5 month NBA lockout was officially lifted, and NBA players got back on the courts where they belong. A little over a month ago, we here at MAMBINO amongst the other pundits of the hoops world, did nothing but lambast David Stern and Billy Hunter and bemoan how we should be knee deep in professional basketball games, when we instead talking about revenue sharing, mid-level exception contracts and BRI. And a little over a month ago, we suddenly and swiftly all got what we were waiting for.

It's January 10th, and we're about one-seventh of the way through the season. As much as we're all happy with games taking place and basketball on our TV screens, the lockout is still affecting our day-to-day watching of hoops. My eyes are telling me one story, but just to make sure, let's take a look at the league-average statistics from the 2011-2012 season, and the three previous:

Monday, January 9, 2012

State of Laker Nation: Is Bynum better than Howard?

Welcome to the State of Laker Nation kickoff post. Like BockerKnocker's recent State of the Union address on his beloved Knicks, I will be irregularly posting rants and raves (mostly rants) on the state of Laker Nation, complete with a 1 to 5 MAMBINO rating on each of the weekly (or so) issues. The inaugural subject? The ever evolving issue of Dwight Howard in a potential trade for Andrew Bynum.

Friday, January 6, 2012

White American NBA Player Power Rankings

(For an updated version, WITH a starting five, check out our new White American NBA Player Power Rankings here)

There are a lot of really good white players in the NBA. Obviously there is a far larger depth of really good black players, which maybe even enhances the appearance of how talented their fairer skinned co-workers are. Regardless, no one could possibly debate that Dirk Nowitzki, Steve Nash, Manu Ginobili, Pau Gasol, Luis Scola and Andrew Bogut are amongst the very best the NBA has to offer. But what do all these guys have in common besides a lack of melatonin and an undoubted common love of The Wire? They're all foreigners. I am counting Canada as a foreign country. They're savages up there, you know.

A couple weeks ago, I was in attendance as YOUR...Los Angeles Lakers played the Utah Jazz in Staples Center. With MAMBINO correspondent Alvy to my right, we had engaged in our usual repartee of egregious over-reaction, merciless player heckling and general bile-filled negativity. It was glorious. In the middle of our conversation, we looked at the court and noticed that the Lakers' on-floor squad was Steve Blakers at point, Jason Kapono at the other guard, Metta World Peace and Josh McRoberts at the forward spots and Pau Gasol holding down center. We laughed at the prospect of the 2011 Los Angeles Lakers looking more like the 1955 Minneapolis Lakers squad. It wasn't that the team had a mostly white line-up on the floor; it was that most of them were American.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

BQ #2 - Could the Heat Possibly Fall Short...Again?

Everybody has more or less settled into this malaise where it doesn't matter whether or not the Miami Heat win this year. The unnecessary venom has been tucked into the back pocket, and hoopheads are widely declaring that LeBron will be hoisting his first Larry O'Brien trophy in June. It's a simple argument: the Heat have the most talented roster, and after a solid year together, they're ready to win 2 more games than they did last year.

But since we're in the business of giving you something to read that you can't find anywhere else, the Bossman and I have compiled a list of reasons why Miami could fall short once again.

State of the Union Kickoff - New York Knicks

You know how the State of the Union addresses go, right? President goes up and speaks about how the country is kicking ass in everything. Problems during the President's term are either masked with rehearsed rhetoric or omitted from discussion in entirety. And, our favorite part: Congressmen, celebrities, and other losers get on their feet for the obligatory applause as soon as Mr. President indicates that it is the correct time to do so.

Well, and especially in the Knicks' case, you won't need to stop reading mid-blog post and clap your hands. This post will be the first in a series of irregularly scheduled posts detailing Mambino's favorite professional teams. I'll take care of the Bockers and Yankees, KOBEsh will handle Lakers and Dodgers, and Pucklius will muse on the Devils and Mets. Each prominent player will be given a number of Mambinos, on a scale of 1-5, with some biased analysis to follow. (Hey, at least we're honest.)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

You Guys Missed A Hockey Game On Monday

The smart money here says that BockerKnocker's biggest moment of sports-centric anxiety on Jan. 2 came when the New York Knicks suffered an awful early-season home loss to the immortal Toronto Raptors, a franchise whose claim to fame is Vince Carter winning the 2000 Slam Dunk Competition, those stupid head bands they all wore in the first round of the 2001 playoffs and that Isiah Thomas didn't completely destroy that franchise for the next decade.

Frankly, you'd think Steven Spielberg could have made their nearly 20-year history more dramatic by now.

It is worth noting however, that the Bockers' unfortunate loss to Toronto came after what was really the top sporting event of the day, at least for New Yorkers. Sure the Rose Bowl wasn't bad, and the Fiesta Bowl was entertaining, too, but I enjoy sporting events that don't end because of spiking a football after the clock hits zero and a kicker missing two game-winning field goals.

We celebrate achievement, not ineptitude.

This is where the 2012 Winter Classic comes in. Even if we want to put aside the awesome and historic atmosphere and history that comes with having an annual outdoor hockey game, though this, admittedly, is hard to do, what we had Monday night was a game that had everything. Excitement, physicality, drama, rivalry, back-and-forth action up and down the ice, picturesque snowfall -- anything the NHL could have hoped for it got Monday afternoon when the Rangers rallied from a two-goal deficit to upend the Flyers at Citizens Bank park.

In many ways, the NHL got the game it was hoping for a year ago when the League leveraged every ounce of sex appeal it had in the 2011 Classic at Heinz Field, pitting Pittsburgh and Washington against one another in hopes to showcase the personal rivalry between Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin, arguably the two biggest stars and best players in the game. Mother nature didn't cooperate that night, bringing unseasonably warm rain that forced the game's faceoff to be delayed until the evening and created ice conditions that were acceptable but far from ideal.

This time around, despite the a slight two-hour delay in puck drop, we had an ideal setting, an even better game and even a little controversy before and after on both sides. The Flyers mixed things up by robbing us of seeing Ilya Bryzgalov pontificate on the universe mid-game when Bryz himself revealed during a press conference that backup Sergei Bobrovsky would be getting the start. On the side of the Rangers, head coach John Tortorella turned some heads when he intimated that the games dramatic final minute was perhaps orchestrated by the refs and American broadcaster NBC in hopes of pumping up ratings, a suggestion that is both ludicrous and almost certain to earn the coach a hefty fine -- though it should be noted he apologized Wednesday.

And just what was so dramatic about that final minute you ask?

WWE for a NBA Fan - Southwest Division (Part 4)

It has returned MAMBINO-maniacs - the WWE for an NBA series has invaded the Southwest division. As always, this post will give the best comparable for YOUR...favorite NBA team, with metrics based on the team's style of play, personnel and of course, attitude and tenor of the fan base that makes their existence possible.

Memphis Grizzlies: Wade Barrett

In Memphis, the basketball team of choice is the University of Memphis Tigers. With over a dozen NCAA tournament berths and three Final Four appearances, the city will always have its heart with the Tigers, though any attention on the periphery may monetarily take away attention from the main attraction. This momentary distraction would be the trendy Finals pick Memphis Grizzlies.

I for one, see the Grizz as more than just a trendy pick - they are the real deal Holyfield. They are young, hungry, and have the look of a champion. There is no reason they cannot be the best in the world, other than any internal problem holding them back. I could have cut and pasted those last few sentences to sum up how I have felt for the past 3 years about Wade Barrett.

Barrett is the Memphis Grizzlies of the WWE. There is nothing about him, on paper, to suggest that he is anything but a title contender. He is one of the very best talkers in the company, who can ably hold a conversation or throw down a scathing promo in front of the thousands in attendance, and the millions watching at home. In the ring, his skills are somewhat raw, but ultimately can wrestle just enough for me take him seriously as a major player. His move set augments the most impressive facets of his body and size - his massive wingspan and impressive shoulder width. The only thing holding back Wade Barrett from being world champion (aside from backstage politics), is time and other top contenders in the WWE.