Monthly Archives: May 2012
To say the Spurs are the hottest team in the NBA playoffs would be quite the understatement. The Spurs have won 18 straight games, including sweeping the 1st two rounds of the playoffs, making short work of the Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Clippers. The Spurs have gone from the #1 seed that nobody believed in, into the trendy pick to win it all this year. It’s no surprise that the Spurs are winning, seeing as they are the winningest franchise in all of sports over the last 15 years. With the current NBA coach of the year, a core group that has won 3 titles together, and the deepest bench in the NBA, it shouldn’t be a shock that the Spurs look like the class of the west. What is surprising is that the Spurs are now getting the national media attention that their previous 4 titles lacked.
After the Spurs 24 point comeback victory against the clippers in game 3, Magic Johnson went on ESPN and compared the Spurs to his old Lakers dynasty, and the 80’s Celtics he battled. Magic also told America to enjoy this team basketball, and that the Spurs are a once in a lifetime team. Nobody on the ESPN set argued with him. In fact Jon Berry stated the Spurs are so great because it starts at the top, and that the Spurs are truly a family. Shaq and Charles Barkley gave the Spurs similar praise that night, on the TNT broadcast. That’s right, the Spurs are so good this year that even Shaq is on the bandwagon.
The national praise didn’t stop there, earlier in the week ESPN.COM ran a cover story on the Spurs, as several national writers chimed in on the Spurs current success, and 15 year impressive run. The biggest national praise came on the cover of Sports Illustrated, as the most respected sports magazine in America put Tim Duncan on the cover. The cover story had little to do with the Spurs current success, but rather the magazine finally found the time to get to know Tim Duncan, the greatest power forward in NBA history.
So, with all this national attention, does this mean that America is ready to actually cheer for the Spurs? Ok, that might be asking for too much, I’ll try again. Does all this media attention mean that America is finally ready to watch the Spurs, as they make a run for title #5? The Spurs previous title runs came with little fanfare, it seemed America didn’t care one way or the other for the Spurs. But with the Spurs getting the media hype in round 2, could this hype build up if the Spurs make it all the way to the NBA finals? Will America tune in, finally appreciating the greatness that is Coach Pop, Tim Duncan, and the best organization in sports? If so, why now?
So why should Spurs fans expect the rest of the country to finally fall for the Spurs? Maybe America finally realizes that Tim Duncan is one of the all time greats, and that we should appreciate his last great run at a title. Maybe the Sports Illustrated cover story sparked an interest in Duncan. Maybe it’s because it’s just too hard to ignore the Spurs anymore, seeing as how the Mavs are gone, the Lakers seem done, and the Celtics are just too old to make a serious run. Maybe it’s because the Spurs are the anti Miami Heat, the team we all love to hate. The Heat are the star powered super team that had a parade just for signing Lebron and Bosh. Perhaps America is tired of the Heat show, and are looking for a hero, a hero that wins the right way, doesn’t pound their chest, and don’t feel the need to be in the spot light all the time. Maybe, just maybe, America is just ready to appreciate the San Antonio Spurs as a whole. Ready to celebrate the fact that in an era of big free agents going to big markets, the Spurs have not only survived in a small market, but have kicked everybody’s ass along the way for 15 years. The current Spurs run is rival only to the Dallas Cowboys 70’s and early 80’s run, led by Tom Landry. It was during this time that the Dallas Cowboys became “America’s team.” Perhaps the Spurs are ready to take their place in America, as our generation’s “America’s Team.”
This weekend was the 1st series between the two west rivals, and the Rangers took the series 2-1 in front of 3 straight sold out crowds. Long before the Angels arrived in Texas, the ball park in Arlington was completely sold out for the 3 game series. There was a serious buzz around Texas, and across the baseball world, around this series. Game 1 was televised on the MLB network, game 2 on the FOX national broadcast and game 3 was on ESPN. All 3 games were nationally televised, showing the nation is as intrigued as Texas and California is about a Rangers/Angels match up.
The main reason this AL west match up has become a big deal is the Angels off season spending spree. For most of the last 11 years, the Angels ran the AL west. Nobody was a serious threat to challenge them for the AL west crown, meaning the Angels had a clear path to the playoffs every year. That all changed in recent years, as the Rangers have won the last two AL west titles, and used that path to the playoffs to win the last two AL pennants. The Angels decided not to stand pat, and they opened up their check books and made a huge offseason splash. The Angels went out and bought the best player of the last decade, Albert Pujols. The Angels weren’t quite done spending, as they also set their sights on the new AL west king, taking the Rangers Ace CJ Wilson.
CJ Wilson is another reason this has become a real rivalry. CJ Wilson was a big part of the two AL pennants the Rangers won, and was an all star last season. The Rangers didn’t match the offer the Angels made, so CJ went home to southern California to pitch for the division rivals. CJ Wilson was showered with boos twice during this series, as he is looked at as a traitor.
Another big reason this has become a big rivalry, is both teams look like AL pennant contenders. The Rangers are clearly an AL contender, but many experts feel the Angels bought their way to also being a contender. And with the Yankees and Red Sox down, this division rivalry might very well be the rivalry that now shapes the American League.
Game 1- Tuesday, May 15 @San Antonio 8:30 TNT
Game 2- Thursday, May 17 @ San Antonio 8:30 ESPN
Game 3- Saturday, May 19 @ Los Angeles 2:30 ABC
Game 4- Sunday, May 20 @ Los Angeles 9:30 TNT
Game 5- Tuesday, May 22 @San Antonio TBD TNT
Game 6- Friday, May 25 @ Los Angeles TBD ESPN
Game 7- Sunday, May 27 @ San Antonio TBD TNT
Josh Hamilton was player of the month in April, and has already started his campaign for May. Camden Yards has seen some great moments in baseball history, most notably Cal Ripken Jr’s iron man record. Tuesday night was a different kind of history, not a career achievement, but rather a night that Rangers fans or baseball fans for that matter will never forget. Josh Hamilton hit 4 home runs Tuesday night, as the Rangers beat the Orioles 10-3. Hamilton’s 4 home run night was only the 14th 4 home run game in the modern era of baseball. Just to put in perspective, that’s over 100 years of baseball, and only 13 other times has this happened. Josh Hamilton also hit a double, which gave him 18 total bases in 1 game, which is now an American League record. After Hamilton hit his 4th home run, the Baltimore fans gave him a standing ovation. Kudos to the great baseball fans in Baltimore. Hamilton now leads the American League in home runs by the very 4 home runs he just hit.