Friday, June 29, 2012

Instant Trade Analysis: Odom Comes Home

Utah Jazz get: Mo Williams, draft rights to Shan Foster

YOUR Los Angeles Clippers get: Lamar Odom

Houston Rockets get: draft rights to Furkan Aldemir

Dallas Mavericks get: draft rights to Tadija Dragicevic, cash from Houston, and a relief from the pain and suffering brought by The Kardashian Curse

Odom's 2.4 million dollar salary would have become a hefty 8.2 by tomorrow if Dallas couldn't pull off a miracle. Enter the Utah Jazz and their Mormon kindness, willing to take disgruntled backup combo guard Mo Williams from the Clippers, to facilitate a four-way deal.

MAMBINO Does the NBA Draft: David Stern, the Victor

Taking a train over the river to beautiful downtown Newark, NJ, KOBEsh, Bockerknocker and El Miz took seats  live at the 2012 NBA Draft. Here are some of our collective draft night thoughts and observations.

With his usual, trademark half-cocked smile, Commissioner David Stern saunters to the podium for his 29th NBA Draft. The Commish steps to the microphone to the roar of the crowd. He no doubt spoke words about the excitement of the first-year player selection process and how tonight would be a night that these young men had been dreaming about their entire lives. He no doubt vetted that June 28th, 2012 is the first step in the journey of many to NBA stardom and that we here in the National Basketball Association are so very happy to be at this beautiful arena tonight. He no doubt thanked the boistrous New York crowd that had so bravely made the inconvenient trek all the way out to Newark, while the usual home of the Draft - Madison Square Garden - undergoes year two of their three-year offseason renovation plan. He finally and crisply, no doubt proclaimed that the 2012 NBA Draft is underway, and that indeed, the New Orleans Hornets were on the clock.

I wouldn't know. The moment the Commissioner stepped to the mic, he was showered with a chorus of boos from the audience in a reception that was more befitting WWE Chairman and on-screen villain Vincent K. McMahon. Stern spoke, and kept on speaking, but barely a word crept through the wave of disdain thrown at him by the crowd. However, unlike Golden State owner Joe Lacob who shrank from the boos of the Oakland crowd on Chris Mullin Night a few months ago, or Clippers owner Donald Sterling who regularly ignores the hate at Staples Center, the Commissioner revels in the surrounding din of this Newark crowd. He hears it and welcomes it. He loves it.

Because he knows it means he won.

Read more at Silver Screen & Roll

Five Stages of Grief: LeBron James Manned Up and Got a Ring

“The best thing that happened to me was us losing in the Finals [in 2011], and me playing the way I played. It was the best thing to ever happen to me in my career because basically I got back to the basics. It humbled me. I knew I was going to have to change as a basketball player, and I was going to have to change as a person to get what I wanted." – LeBron James
          It pains me, but I’ll just come out and say it: LeBron James has an NBA title and is the best basketball player in the world. The last few years I’ve been able to put him into the Steve Nash category of flawed MVP winners, knowing that I’ll take the Finals MVP’s Kobe has earned over all the regular season accolades in the world. But instead of folding like a house of cards, LeBron leveraged his failings and the media criticisms to respond, improve, and become an NBA champion. In the last two weeks, my feelings towards him have come full circle and I’ve slowly worked my way through the grief cycle:

Step 1, Denial: At first, I didn’t believe that he’d ever get the title. I thought that Boston would pull through or the deeper OKC squad would give the Heat more than it could handle. Whoops.
Step 2, Anger: As the Heat started to build a commanding series lead, I was angry with Scott Brooks for his inadequate schemes and adjustments. Dude never listened to me, for all the screaming I did at my television.
Step 3, Bargaining:  LeBron continued his march toward a title and I got desperate. I started pleading with forces larger than myself, carrying around rabbit’s feet, four leaf clovers, and even trying a rain dance.
Step 4, Sadness: The Heat showed resilience instead of a collapse and sadness swept over me as the Thunder slowly melted down. Seeing LeBron’s face before Game 5, I knew the transformation was complete and a title was a foregone conclusion.
Step 5, Acceptance: A few days later, I’ve finally come to accept this brave new world but can’t help but wonder, how’d we get here?

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Who Starts the All-Star Game for the National League? Dickey or Cain?

I'm not surprised that the sporting world is having an argument over who should start the MLB All-Star game for the National League. Every year can't have an automatic answer like a dominant Roy Halladay or a war horse-like half season from Justin Verlander. I'm not even surprised that Matt Cain is a part of the conversation, considering his video game statistics and the accompanying hype provided by the perfect game he threw just weeks ago.

What I am surprised about is that the opposing part of the argument for NL All-Star starter is...R.A. Dickey.

Yes, Mambinities. R.A. Dickey, who spent his 2002 and 2007 seasons out of baseball because he wasn't good enough to make any team, is a probable All-Star. R.A. Dickey, who in 2006 as a 31 year-old, transitioned to a full-time knuckle-ball pitcher, is not only a probable All-Star, but considering starting material. R.A. Dickey, who at age 37 is having his most dominant season ever, is a potential All-Star starter and Cy Young candidate. Yes folks, that R.A. Dickey.

Unbelievably, just three years after finishing the season with Minnesota with a 5.21 ERA and walking nearly as many batters as he struck out, R.A. Dickey is favored by many, including our own Pucklius, as the presumptive National League All-Star Starter.

However, he's not without his detractors. An e-mail debate began to stir today with the assertion that yes, the Mets ace was more deserving of throwing the NL's first pitch than Cain.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

2012 NBA Mock Draft, 2.0

I'm not sure why I keep calling these "Mock" Drafts. The Mambino way is never to actually predict what these pro teams will do. As I've said word for word in past posts, doing so is an exercise in stupidity. The NBA roundtable knows more basketball than your average fan, but we don't pretend to have access to team war rooms, private prospect workouts, and my favorite, "sources."

So what we do here is put on our GM caps and pretend like we run the basketball operations of a franchise. Below, we will compare our picks to expert mock drafts, which provide the best glimpse of what the teams will actually do tomorrow night in Newark. And by "we," I mean our three regulars, KOBEsh, The CDP, and myself, and contributors El Miz and 6 on Hibbert.

Version 1 of this Draft took a format of alternating picks. For this second and final post on the 2012 NBA Draft, the 5 of us made consensus picks via majority rule. Check it.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Instant Trade Analysis: Ben Gordon to the Charlotte Bobcats

Charlotte Bobcats get: G Ben Gordon, 2013 Lottery protected first round pick

Detroit Pistons get: G/F Corey Maggette

On the surface, this looks like the classic "I'll take your problem if you take my problem" bad contract swap. How could it not be? Corey Maggette has been a cap-killing, ball-stopping, shoot-first offensive threat and defensive succubus for years. Ben Gordon is newer to that label, but has fallen into disgrace after dropping 20 points a game off the bench for the Chicago Bulls before signing a massive five-year, $50 million dollar pact with the Detroit Pistons three years ago.

Both started off as significantly different types of players: Maggette as an athletic swingman whose combination of strength, size and shooting ability were supposed to turn him into the prototypical All-Star small forward of the future, while Gordon a offensive spark plug off the bench - think like a faster JJ Barea with a better stroke and athleticism. However, as I just mentioned, both men have morphed into the same type of garbagey cap ballast every GM has come to resent.

TheRawLibrarian's Monday Night Raw Review: All AJ, All the Time

Location: Ft. Wayne, Indiana
Announcers: Michael Cole, Jerry "The King" Lawler

RAW starts off with a beautiful soliloquy from AJ Lee. It was assumed that she was having a conversation with all three men in her twisted love quadrangle, but when the camera pulled back, it revealed she was just talking to a mirror. @BKMambino's suggestion of a cardboard cut out of each would have been way funnier. Imagine AJ Lee having a conversation with a CM Punk Fathead

And in stark contrast to AJ Lee......"EXCUSE MEEEE!" Out comes Vicky Guerrero. The heat that woman gets is amazing, as the crowd booed her ENTIRE speech. She announces a triple threat match to start off the show. This is still RAW right? When I saw on Twitter that John Cena had a "major announcement" to make, I resigned myself to sitting through a fifteen minute goofy Cena promo (...which, no worries, we still got one later on). 

Instant Trade Analysis: Chase Budinger to the Minnesota Timberwolves

Minnesota Timberwolves get: SF Chase Budinger

Houston Rockets get: 18th pick in the 2012 NBA Draft

In the first major pre-draft trade involving picks, the Houston Rockets have sent their sharp-shooting small forward Chase Budinger to the Minnesota Timberwolves for the 18th selection.

On the surface, the main ramification of this trade is pretty clear; the Rockets and their GM Daryl Morey are stockpiling picks for a run at an All-Star caliber player. Houston now owns the 14th, 16th, and 18th picks in the draft, with other trade assets such as guards Kyle Lowry, Kevin Martin and Courtney Lee, as well as big men Marcus Morris, Luis Scola, Samuel Dalembert and Patrick Patterson. Rumors are circulating that the Rockets are going to use some combination of players and picks to eventually make a big play for Dwight Howard (even without the assurance that he'd sign an extension), with Pau Gasol and Josh Smith as back-up options.

MAMBINO Fantasy Mondays: The Kevin Youkilis Non-Trade Fall-out

In the move that everyone saw coming, the Boston Red Sox finally traded Kevin Youkilis on Sunday. After rumors flew around fast and furious like a CC Sabathia batting practice, GM Ben Cherington shipped his third baseman to the Chicago White Sox for reliever Zach Stewart and utility man and First Team All-MLB Ugly member Brent Lillibridge.

The trade fallout has been discussed all over the internet: the deal has largely been called a great one for the White Sox, who get a former All-Star third baseman to man their MLB-worst hot corner, who hit to a combined .466 OPS. Boston has rookie Wil Middlebrooks handily playing third and mashing, so at this point, an unhappy Youkilis wasn't doing any favors sulking in the BoSox locker room and creating an uncomfortable situation for everyone. RP Stewart was one of the main pieces Chicago got back in the Colby Rasmus/Edwin Jackson/Marc Rzepcynski deal with the Cardinals and Blue Jays last summer, but has so far not panned out on the South Side. He'll be sent to Triple-A Pawtucket, while Lillibridge will largely serve in the same utility man capacity when on the White Sox.

The impact that this deal will have on both side is pretty clear: the White Sox get a formerly great hitter to play a position that was absolutely killing them day-to-day. On top of everything else, the Red Sox foot nearly $5.5 million of his salary, so unless Stewart turns into the next coming of Jonathan Papelbon, the White Sox largely gave up nothing for a guy who could potentially help them win the division. For Boston, this clears the way for Middlebrooks, and to a lesser extent DH David Ortiz and first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, to play every day, and hopefully Stewart will be able to help a beleaguered Red Sox 'pen down the line.

What's more interesting though is how this trade impacts the teams that didn't quite have enough to acquire Youkilis. According to, the Dodgers, Diamondbacks, Indians, Pirates and Braves were all involved in talks with Boston to some extent. Let's take a look at how this non-move will affect these teams going down the line.

Friday, June 22, 2012

NBA Finals Game 5 Running Diary: The Miami Heat and LeBron James Are NBA Champions

(At perhaps a seminal moment in NBA history, we here at MAMBINO HQ knew it'd be important to document a minute by minute running diary during Game 5 of the NBA Finals. LeBron had lived up to his various monikers so far this series, but could he close it out in the biggest game of his career? Or would OKC send this back home? Read on for some in-game thoughts)

Pregame Introductions: We've talked for years about how LeBron is some sort of indestructible robot cyborg created to play basketball and assassinate all comers - he actually looks like it tonight. He's stone-faced, walking slowly and with purpose. He's even got a slight tick in his neck, as if part of his cold, mechanical programming is somehow malfunctioning. Despite the connotation of his pistons misfiring, that's not a good sign for the Thunder.
Pregame Shotaround: I see Wade throwing up J's, but Bron is sitting on the bench, fists to his head, mouthing some sort of mantra, which is probably something like "I'm going to murder everyone tonight". I'm a little worried that he might be putting a little bit too much pressure on himself. I feel like he's excelled these playoffs because he's had the mindset of "this is what I do, I dominate", and then gone out there and done just that. Obviously the gravity of the situation has affected his play, but he seems almost silently angry rather than stoic. Curious.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Landry Fields and Elaine Alden

On a game-to-game basis, Landry Fields does things like this:

Okay fine, he's actually decent around the rim, but every other part of his game sucks and this was the best I could do for now.

But regardless, now, on a day-to-day basis, Landry Fields is doing this:

Preparing for a World Where LeBron James Has An NBA Title

Just...imagine it.

LeBron, feet shuffling nervously as he wears an ill-fitting hat that awkwardly rests upon his massive dome, looks deliriously up towards a loving Miami crowd, who for the first time in six years, have all stood uniformly at attention 30 minutes after the final buzzer has rung. They do so at the sight of a dozen men, as well as the coaching staff, trainers, wives, children and various hangers-on, impatiently waiting for the sight of a giant gold ball, like a group of kids behind the banister on Christmas morning. James is flanked dead center by his compatriot and friend Dwyane Wade, still spouting "Yes, we did. Yes. We. Diddddddddd!" phrases ad nauseum, and on the other side a humbled Erik Spoelstra, whose face erupts in a genuine joy that puzzlingly has seemed to elude a man whose reached the zeniths of the coaching ranks in just his mid-thirties.

James, who, at the final buzzer fell to the floor in celebration, ironic for a man who just had the weight of the world lifted off of him, stands tall with his chin up. Twice before he heard within 100 yards that these ceremonies were taking place, but never had he actually seen one up close. As he giddily looks side to side, with friends, family and co-workers constantly shouting out his name and the coordinating congratulatory sentiments, the Commissioner gives his usual speech about how this is a team that came together, defied the odds and ultimately, proved to be a worthy champion. All of the sudden, a smile rarely seen on the embattled Chosen One's face flashes from free throw line to free throw line. His owner Mickey Arison says a few words to Stern, but at this point, LeBron can't hear a damn thing. But it's not his surroundings. The roar of the crowd can't come close to contending with the din created by a million different thoughts racing in his head like the locomotive train he emulates every night on the court. In a moment that plays to him like a slow motion highlight, Arison turns to James, and hands him the Larry O'Brien trophy. Astonishingly, the tears don't flow; the rush of sheer jubilation won't allow for such reflection. Instead we watch as the three-time MVP, one of the greatest athletes on the planet and one of the best players in NBA history, has finally fulfilled the destiny that so many doubted he'd ever achieve. LeBron James has just won the NBA title.

State of the Mets: Unexpected Hope is Amazin'

(I'm posting for Pucklius, because Blogger sucks.)

At the beginning of the 2012 Major League Baseball I wrote on this here blog a forecast of the New York Mets with such doom and gloom it might have sent the most optimistic fans running for the hills. In short I said that the real pain of watching this team was not how good or bad they would play this year but that the bleak financial outlook left a fan without any hope at all for this season or the next. I'm not going to say I was wrong, because the financial situation of the team, cloudy as it is, still leaves a great deal of concern for the future. I should also say that while I thought this would be a year in which the team went nowhere and made few strides toward being a consistent postseason contender, I didn't think it would really be that bad.

Of course, I didn't think it would be good either.

I thought that like every season there would be the occasional moments of joy and excitement, the rare comeback win or the fun rookie hot streak by the latest incarnation of Timo Perez in which a callup drums up excitement until the rest of the Majors had scouted him to death and adjusted for him. But I didn't expect or count on a few things. I didn't count on the Mets sweeping the Braves to open the season and get off on the right foot, I didn't count on Johan Santana smoothly coming back from major shoulder surgery, I didn't count on David Wright coming back to life and I didn't count on a suddenly pleasant and happy locker room that made its impact on the field because the 25 guys on the roster all genuinely like each other.

And I certainly did not count on Robert Allen Dickey suddenly becoming the most dominant pitcher on the planet. Dear God, I did not count on that.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Lakers 2012 Offseason Free Agent Targets

It's hard to conceive a situation where the Lakers would be under the new NBA salary cap (around $58 million) in the 2012 offseason. With Kobe Bryant pulling down a cool $28 million in 2012-2013, even if GM Mitch Kupchak traded both Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum, taking back the minimum amount of salary, and renouncing the rights to every possible free agent, LA would still be over the cap.

That all being said, let's focus on what the Lakers DO have to offer, in regards to free agency:
  1. A mini mid-level exception, which amounts to $3.1 million annually, for up to three years. The exception can be used each year (for example, just because the Lakers used this type of contract to sign Josh McRoberts last year, doesn't prohibit them from using it again this year), and split up amongst multiple players
  2. The veteran's minimum, which was around $1.3 million last year. It should be around the same for the 2012-2013 season.
  3. Bird rights on unrestricted free agents Jordan Hill and Ramon Sessions, which essentially means that the over the cap Lakers can sign them for more than the mini mid-level exception
Unfortunately, that's it. The Lakers are way over the salary cap threshold, and under the new collective bargaining agreement rules, luxury tax-paying teams are extremely restricted in regards to signing free agents (if you truly want to nerd-out, check out Larry Coon's Salary Cap FAQ. It's the bible for writing posts like these).

As Kupchak has admitted, this offseason will be one of change for the Los Angeles Lakers. It's the common public consensus that the front office will make a big trade involving either Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol, or both, but even so, the team will still have the same basic needs: a back-up and/or (without a trade) starting point guard, a small forward and a back-up big man. With any of those added personnel, the preferred prerequisite would be that the new Buss employee be a knock-down shooter in order to provide the floor spacing the Lakers so sorely lacked this year.

Knowing the Lakers' limited resources, we here at MAMBINO HQ (via Silver Screen and Roll) have come up with a list of free agents that could potentially be in purple in gold come the fall. These free agents are all well within the realm of possibility - that being said, I'm going to rule out pipe dreams like Steve Nash, Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan and Ray Allen. Any one of them would have to take a MASSIVE pay cut to join the Lakers (I suspect that all four of those players are going to get at least $8+ million per year), not to mention that all four have at least 14 seasons of rivalry with Kobe and the Show that would probably curb them from signing in LA.

Let's check out the potential free agents the Lakers could move on going forward:

Read more at Silver Screen and Roll, the best damn Lakers blog on the internet

Instant Trade Analysis: Lewis for Okafor and Ariza

Washington Wizards get:
Emeka Okafor, Trevor Ariza

New Orleans Hornets get:
The document that legalizes the robbery by Rashard Lewis of 23.7 million dollars from any NBA franchise, Washington's 2nd round pick (46th overall)

We've got LeBron James' PR team in the final planning stages of his Finals MVP acceptance speech and the Anthony Davis Experience ready to begin next week. So it's the perfect time to post about a trade that nobody cares about:

El Mariachi's RAW Thoughts: The End of People Power

(KOBEsh: TheRawLibrarian was on leave Tuesday, probably watching old Shawn Michaels tapes and weeping. I'm not really sure, but he went more MIA than Ludwig Borga. Our boy and semi-infrequent correspondant El Mariachi stepped up with a first-hand account of Monday Night RAW, emanating from the pit known as the Nassau Colliseum)

Having been to the last two live WWE events - No Way Out and Raw - I can't help but burst into "YES" chants, say "WHAT" after anything anyone says to me, and Pedigree every ten year old Cena fan I can find. My voice is shot, my ears are ringing, and I can't get the stink of the Izod Center off my shoes. I tried to mask it with the hillbilly musk of the Nassau Coliseum to no avail.

But I'm getting ahead of myself here. All I'm trying to get at is that, it has been a hell of a two day wrastlin' stretch and quite frankly, I'm "wrastled" out. So what do I do with my first moments of free time?

Write about wrestling.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

TheRawLibrarian's WWE No Way Out PPV Review

Location: The worst arena in America, the Izod Center, New Jersey
Announcers: Jerry "The King" Lawler, Michael Cole, Booker T

World Heavyweight Championship
Sheamus (C) vs Dolph Ziggler

At first I was skeptical about leading off the PPV with the heavyweight championship match. However it ended up being a perfect decision.

Mixed reaction for Sheamus. The HOT crowd stayed active during the entire match, chanting "Let's go Ziggler" to start. Pretty sick mid match reverse DDT by Ziggler that had the fans counting along.

Dolph looked real strong and the crowd was into accordingly, as he was on the offensive for most of the match up. In fact, he was so over that even a sleeper hold got a huge pop. I like that Sheamus' "White Noise" was used as a transitional move tonight instead of a finisher.

Sheamus finished off Ziggler with the Brogue kick. Great choice as an opener, as Ziggler/Sheamus delievered big time; actually, it was almost as good as Sheamus/Bryan 2 out of 3 falls. Ziggler once again showed that not only can he have a strong match with any opponent, but that his time will come shortly.

Monday, June 18, 2012

MAMBINO Fantasy Mondays: Who's in First?

 Hello friends, we're back (finally) with another edition of MAMBINO Fantasy Mondays. We give our (supposed) weekly updates and thoughts on Major League Baseball, and of course, the fantasy spin from some rugged veterans of the internet.

The NBA is winding down it's season with the championship round, while the NHL and NFL lie dormant until the fall. If your attention hasn't fully been on baseball the past few months, who could blame you? The NBA Finals is shaping up towards being one of the all-time greats, while the Los Angeles Kings' surprising romp through a supremely entertaining Stanley Cup playoffs kept us all distracted since essentially opening day.

So if you're just cracking open the sports page, you'd probably take a look at these standings and your face would be contorted into a mess reminiscent of Jack Wilson's unfortunate mug. Some of the division leaders are as predictable as a Matt Cain quality start - the Yankees and Rangers are in first, while the Giants and Braves currently hold serve as the NL Wild Card reps and Tampa Bay Rays one part of the AL Wild Card.

But the rest of the standings? Your other divsion leaders (ordered by winning percentage) are the Los Angeles Dodgers, Washington Nationals, Cincinnati Reds and Chicago White Sox. this happening?The Los Angeles Dodgers, left for dead by even Chavez Ravine sycophants here on this blog before the season began, have the best winning percentage in the majors? The supposedly "rebuilding" Chicago White Sox are in first, three games ahead of the presumptive AL Central champions in the Detroit Tigers? The Washington Nationals aren't just the best team in the ultra-competitive NL East...they're the most exciting team in the game?

The world is not round my friends. It is a cube, whose answers are in the form of clown questions, bro. It's MAMBINO Fantasy Monday. Let's unravel how this has happened in the last 12 weeks of Major League Baseball.

Friday, June 15, 2012

A Five-Game Series: Early Thoughts on the 2012 NBA Finals

Two games in, this Finals is shaping up to be everything we thought it'd be: exciting, epic, historic and potentially, dare I say, one of the greatest of all-time. This could all be a premature evaluation, but if you came to this blog looking for even-handed opinions rather than bold statements, then maybe you should head over to a lesser organization.

The series is knotted at one game a piece, and we're down to what amounts to a five-game death match for the NBA title. On Sunday, both the Heat and the Thunder are headed to Miami for three games, and then (basketball Gods permitting), back to Oklahoma for two more.

To get the pulse on the most important storylines arising from this week's games, we've assembled the MAMBINO basketball-heads to break down what we've seen, and what's coming, roundtable style. Read on!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The 2012 NBA Finals: One of the Most Historically Significant...Ever

Let's ignore the usual rhetoric for now. We're going to take the LeBron fourth quarter statistics and put them off to the side. We're going to, for the moment, disregard his erratic and immature behavior that even we here at MAMBINO can't shy away from critiquing. We're going to stop talking about the questionable nature in which the Miami Heat came together two years ago. This isn't going to be about how Dwyane Wade has slowly morphed into one of the most despicable on and off-court character in the league. Hell, this isn't going to be a sychophantic pedestal-job on Kevin Durant, Russ Westbrook and James Harden that we've professed to loving so much more than Bron and his ilk.

The prevailing storyline might be if the Miami Heat can finally win their title that they pissed off the entire world while questing to do so. The secondary yarn here is if LeBron James, by all accounts and MVP trophies the best player on the planet, can carry an unorthodox and limited team to a title. And a footnote to all of this is if Kevin Durant, James Harden, Serge Ibaka and Russ Westbrook - all under the age of 24 - can upstage their celebrity opponents and upend them for their first championship.

That's not what's important here. Is it a big part of the story? Yes, it is. Very. Extremely. LeBron, Wade and Bosh are all in their ninth seasons, with only Wade capturing the ever-elusive chip in 2006, though with Shaquille and Alonzo at his side. Durant, Russ and Harden surpassing them would be a fantastic story that the NBA-watching public could absolutely engorge themselves with - the thought of the noble, beloved, blue-collar Thunder from the humble breadbasket of America defeating the glamorous villains hailing from the neon-satured, sun-soaked South Beach would be a screenplay come to life.

For the NBA-head though, this isn't just a tale of the young, hard-working Thunder vanquishing the evil thespians from Miami. This is a match-up of the two best teams in the NBA. Lasting up to seven games, this year's Finals pits six of the NBA's best 20 players against each other, highlighted by the consensus top dog in James and the runner-up in Durant. As anyone who watched Tuesday's Game 1 will attest, this isn't just about a set with star-power - this is going to be a tough, grinding series that no matter who the victor is, we'll all agree that the trophy was well-deserved.

The Oklahoma City Thunder versus the Miami Heat isn't just going to be a great Finals. This is one of the most historically significant Finals ever. And heres' why.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Instant Trade Analysis: Andre Ethier Stays With the Los Angeles Dodgers

The Los Angeles Dodgers get: Andre Ethier on a 5-year, $85 million dollar extension

Yesterday afternoon, the Los Angeles Dodgers tied up their All-Star, Silver-Slugging, Gold-Gloving left fielder to a massive contract extension that will prevent him from slipping into free agency just five months from now.

According to Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times, his extensions will break down as follows:  $13.5m in 2013, $15.5m in 2014, $18m in 2015, $18m in 2016, $17.5m in 2017, and a (supposedly easily attained) $17.5m vesting option or $2.5m buyout in 2018.

Ethier's contract will now last until his age 36 season, if all goes to plan. This contract is the third-largest in Dodgers franchise history, only trailing Kevin Brown's $105 million deal and of course, Matt Kemp's newly inked $160 million pact signed just months ago. LA's offensive core should be set almost until the next decade, presuming good health and the extended development of young shortstop Dee Gordon.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Lord Stanley Comes Home: The 2012 NHL Champion Los Angeles Kings

After 45 long years, your Los Angeles Kings are champions of the National Hockey League.

Last night’s 6-1 victory was certainly an appropriate coronation for a team that has been playing amazing hockey since March 1st. Not much explanation is needed to understand how the Kings got here at this point (strong defense + new coach + unbelievable goaltending + Dustin Brown = title), but I would like to take this moment to go over the  numbers the Kings have accrued on this championship run.

Monday Night RAW Recap: It's time! It's time! It's Vader time!

Location: Hartford, Connecticut
Announcers: Michael Cole, Jerry "The King" Lawler

Tonight was a special 3 hour episode of RAW. This gave us a nice preview of what to expect when RAW becomes 3 hours permanently on July 23, 2012. More RAW, more review, same pay.

"I'm Kind of Freaking Out" - Keys to an OKC Victory in the NBA Finals

Along with The CDP doing aces on the Miami Heat keys to victory in the Finals, we've dispatched our main man Thunderstolt to look at the OKC side and determine what the keys to victory are. Keep in mind that this has been edited, as he's barely slept, can't eat and quite frankly, is barely a human being right now. This is him at his most serene, probably the result of some sort of placebo. As the title of the post says, earlier today his first message to me was "I'm kind of freaking out." Peace be with you, brother. Let's get to it!

He saw this coming.  From the moment he told Clay Bennett he would be his GM, Sam Presti saw this as his vision.  His vision has brought them to within four wins of raising a banner. 

Presti has done his job.  Now its time for Scott Brooks and his staff to finish theirs for this 2011-2012 season.  The good news is the Thunder doesn't have to change much from the previous three series to be successful in the Finals.

It seems fitting the first championship foe ever for this Thunder squad is against the Heat - after the next two weeks either KD or LeBron will have a ring and a banner to raise this fall.  Soak that one in.

Other than that quick little hit, I going to stay away from the obvious KD vs LBJ narrative because I'm pretty sure 99% of the blogosphere is writing about that (My thoughts on that matchup: The two best players in the league going at it for their first title and we're in for a hell of a series. That cover it? Okay, good). So let's stick to basketball, shall we? Presenting the Thunder's keys to victory.

Monday, June 11, 2012

MAMBINO's NBA Finals Preview: Keys to a Miami Victory

In many ways, the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder are mirror images of the same team. Guided by three athletic superstars and one of the youngest coaches in the league, both teams had to survive the old powers in their respective conferences to make it here. The Thunder played the Mavericks, the Spurs, and the Lakers, who collectively represent every single NBA finals representative from the West since 1999. The Heat took out Boston for the second straight year and prevented the C’s from getting to the Finals for the 3rd time in 5 years.  In terms of NBA narrative, however, these teams could not be more different.  The Heat will undoubtedly be the villains in this series and most casual fans will side with the Boy Scouts from OKC.

OKC is the homegrown model, the team created by smart lottery draft picks, cap flexibility, and opportune trades. With their culture and management structure, they are set up to be the Spurs of the next decade if they can find a way to lock up their young core. And with Harden still on his rookie deal, OKC has the added advantage of the kinds of role players that Miami wished it had. My heart says that OKC will win, but my brain is telling me that I’m merely hoping instead. Miami certainly has more experience, as both Wade and LeBron have 2 appearances in the Finals each under their belts. You might say that the Thunder are merely precocious and that the Heat are still the current generation of stars. Either way, this is the time for the Miami Heat to establish a dynasty if they’re ever going to.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Pacquiao-Bradley Review

It was a nice little Sunday, on October 16, 2004. It hadn't gotten too cold yet in Chestnut Hill, although my friends from the left coast would swear to you otherwise. YOUR New York Yankees had just finished obliterating the Boston Red Sox, taking a 3-0 lead in the American League Championship Series. Hideki Matsui hit two moonshots, and was joined by Alex Rodriguez and Gary Sheffield in the long-bomb department. Legendary Boston sportswriter Bob Ryan called it "an official death sentence."

I remember being on the phone with irregular MAMBINO contributor TuckRule late that night. I said that winning Game 4 was an absolute must, because if the Red Sox were to prevail, they would push it to Game 7 in the Bronx. He laughed at me, of course. But then came the fourth game, when Dave Roberts stole second base, eventually forcing extras with the tying run, and when David Ortiz walked off to make the series 3-1. It was that one moment where at least a little bit of yourself asked whether the opponent could come back.

I felt the exact same way on Saturday night, when the first judge scored the fight in favor of Manny Pacquiao, 115-113. Was it really that close? HBO's Harold Lederman scored it 119-109. ESPN's Dan Rafael had it the same. The people in my apartment gave two rounds, tops, to Timothy Bradley. But the first official scorecard gave FIVE rounds to the man who was jelly-legging his way to the finish? How could this be?

Friday, June 8, 2012

Pacquiao-Bradley Preview

I used to be a regular churchgoer. There were the years of my childhood, where Mama BockerKnocker would dress me in Sunday best, dragging me to Mass against my will. But there was also a period of time where I went on my own. I was never a superfreak about it, but for one hour every week, life slowed down to a stress-free pace. I couldn't say no to that.

Fast forward to the real world today, and I just can't bring myself to lose that precious hour of sleep, which is necessary due to the robbery that weekdays pull on me. 4 Sundays per month became 3, then 2, then 1, and now I'm one of those phonies that attend on Easter and Christmas only.

Manny Pacquiao has taken the opposite route. Before, he carried himself with God, but only as part of his exterior. These days, Manny leads church groups, quotes Bible verses, and declares that the "old Manny" is gone.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Ugly MLB Player Power Rankings

We here at MAMBINO consider ourselves to be fairly good people. After all, we do spend gobs of our free time cooking up this made-to-order content just for you, don't we? We try not to curse, throw around racial slurs or insult the feeble nature of women's sports,  although those thoughts might rumbling around in our head as loosely as the WNBA is based on actual basketball. 

However, as the Magellans of this sporting world, we have an obligation to leave no stone unturned,  no deserted island untouched or forbidden continent undiscovered, no matter how hideous the finding may be. Yes Mambinites. It's time for the Ugly MLB Player Power Rankings.
Months ago, we unleashed our Ugly NBA Player Power Rankings upon the world, and to this day it's a force that can't be stopped. Summoning together our collective disgust into a gigantic ball of heavy handed judgment, the esteemed council here are MAMBINO HQ came together with a tragic slate of NBA superstars whose faces were more mangled than a Joakim Noah free throw. Coincidentally enough, Noah's face actually resembled his own free throw, and thus, the Ugly NBA Player Power Rankings were on their way.
We've perused the much more expansive MLB active rosters (750 players are opposed to the NBA's 450), and come up with our indomitable top 10 list of the ugliest mugs in professional baseball.
Now please keep in mind the two simple rules here:
1) Any player under consideration has to be an active player on the 25-man Major League roster. DL players are eligible, but must be on the 25-man prior to his injury.
2) Any player under consideration has to be out and out UGLY, not just funny looking. For example, you might think that Carlos Ruiz is a little funny looking, but he's not doing a Elephant Man impersonation out there. He has to be ugly enough for your girlfriend to look at him and give an instantly "Ugh, who's that guy??"
So with those guidelines in mind, (in your best Lawrence Tanter voice) here.....we.....go!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Life and Times of Erik Spoelstra

Dead. Man. Walking.

Since the Heat head coach could be putting his hands on his hips or his forehead for the last time in Boston tomorrow night, let's examine how he got here.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Celtics/Heat Mid-Series Check-In from Two Haters

Similar to yesterday's mid-series check-in on Spurs/Thunder with our man Thunderstolt, today two pathetic Lakers apologists bring you our updated thoughts on the Eastern Conference Finals match-up between the Boston Celtics and the Miami Heat. 

The CDP and I have been fascinated in a series that like the Western Conference Finals, has taken a turn for the unexpected. In a two-game swing, Rajon Rondo and the C's have stormed back into the scrum where they were once not only left for dead, but reanimated as a Zombie and then put back down by Mila Jovovich. 

As a hardcore pathetic Lakers apologist, I'm going through a bevy of emotions on a night to night basis rooting for either the Celtics or Heat. I find that I'm consistently pulling for the team that's losing to win, hoping that every contest ends in a heart-breaking last second shot and ultimately in Game 7, just hours before the tip, all members of both teams get a debilitating, but eventually curable case of syphilis and they just have to cancel the Eastern Conference Finals. 

My sociopath tendencies aside, let's press on. Last night, the Thunder were able hand the Spurs their third consecutive loss after their 20 game winning streak, heading back to Oklahoma City with a 3-2 lead in their back pocket. Will the Heat be able to do the same?  

Monday Night RAW Recap: Oversaturated with Cena

Greenville, South Carolina

Announcers: Michael Cole, Jerry “The King” Lawler


WWE Creative@WWE_Creative
Tonight's show will open with @JohnCena, close with Cena, & whenever he's not on camera everyone will be asking "Where's Cena?" #RAWTonight

Michael Cole in-ring interview w/John Cena

According to WWE logic, ratings were down last week because John Cena was absent. The solution? More John Cena of course. Miraculously, the segment wasn’t nearly as bad as I anticipated: it was mostly Michael Cole as the voice of the IWC in calling John Cena “overrated.” The remark was obviously scripted, but it was still interesting Vince McMahon would allow an announcer to insult his golden boy. The result is John Cena vs Michael Cole later on Raw. It’s times like this when I question why I’m 27 years old and I still watch wrestling.

My first thought when Cena said he's uninteresting and being shoved down our throats was that Cena was going to wrestle himself.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Spurs/Thunder Mid-Series Check-Up

With two dramatic victories this weekend by the Boston Celtics and Oklahoma City Thunder, both the Eastern and Western Conference Finals series have essentially been reduced to 3 game series. The final four teams all held home-court serve, so it's down to three games apiece every other day this week to decide who heads towards the championship round. For NBA fans in Miami, Boston, Oklahoma and San Antonio, the next 6 days are going to be sheer agony - none of these cities are going to be sated by a mere conference crown. They're all title contenders whose goals start and end with an NBA championship. Win or lose, nothing's been accomplished except for taking years off the lives of these four fan bases.

The one silver lining to BockerKnocker's Knicks and my Lakers getting bounced weeks ago is that our hearts have been rapidly calcified in the wake of our collective playoff disappointment. No longer feel the palpitations associated with a ball clanging hard off the back iron or careless pass floating to the other team. I happily and calmly watched this weekend's action with wavering attachment depending on whoever had the lead. The Lakers fan in me wanted the games to end up in a tie, just so that everyone would be miserable. However, the basketball fan in me felt the slightest tickle in my cold, black heart watching Rondo pick apart the Miami defense and Kevin Durant continue his ascendancy to another level of stardom.

However, we need to check-in with people that still have a pulse, feel feelings and of course, care about the game's outcome past pathetic Lakers apologist biases. Two MAMBINO correspondents, have graciously agreed to help us out and take the temperature of these series with the score tied at 2-2.

First up, ThunderStolt on his Oklahoma City Thunder:

Friday, June 1, 2012

2012 NBA Mock Draft

On Wednesday night, the lottery results were released, with the New Orleans Hornets coming out on top as the night's biggest winner. In true Mambino fashion, we present to you the first version of the 2012 NBA Mock Draft, consisting of all lottery selections.

As always, this mock draft is based on what these teams "should" do, as opposed to what we think the teams "will" do. To choose the latter over the former is an exercise in futility, as readers of our NFL Mock Drafts know quite well.

Participating in v1 are your regular TGM cohorts, KOBEsh and I. Obviously. But we have some help, in the form of irregular correspondent El Miz, and brand new guest poster, 6 on Hibbert. Any NBA fan or recent Georgetown alum/student knows about the transformation of Roy Hibbert, who earned his first All-Star nod as the Center for the Indiana Pacers this past season. Well our boy 6oH, as you may guess, scored 6 points on Mr. Hibbert not too long ago. Eat it, Roy.

And now, onto the picks: