Wednesday, May 25, 2011

RFH Book Review: Heaven is a Playground

It’s generally assumed that the process of getting young ballers from the projects to college and possibly the pros is a dirty business wrought with sleazy agents and predatory middle-men looking to make a buck off unsuspecting kids. Movies such as He Got Game and Through the Fire show what the superstars – both fictional and real – of Lincoln High in Coney Island went through as they navigated the process: dodging agents, accepting offers and hearing promises of fame and fortune in the NBA. Stories of the mythical Worldwide Wes floated around the internet for years until he finally surfaced with CAA last summer, as his influence on John Calipari-bred stars such as DaJuan Wagner, Derrick Rose, Tyreke Evans and John Wall wreaked of shady dealing. Needless to say, it’s a tricky world that has yet to produced a real consensus about whose interests are being met. But before all that, before Worldwide Wes, before Spike Lee and before Sonny Vaccarro, there was Rodney Parker in Foster Park, Brooklyn. And during the summers of 1973 and 74, 24-year-old Rick Telander hung with Rodney as he scouted the courts for kids with enough game to get a prep school or college to take them in. It was a different world, and Heaven is a Playground details it beautifully.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Battle of Thermopylae and the Eastern Conference Finals

By Scott Simon

The Battle of Thermopylae was immortalized on the big screen in the movie 300. The Battle of Chicmiami is going down in the Eastern Conference. You know the basic plotline- 300 Spartans with massive spears and minimal clothing block a crucial pass before ultimately getting run over by Persian soldiers and their leader Xerxes who referred to himself a “King-god” (shhh, don’t tell LeBron, he may fancy the monarch’s moniker). The Spartans were fantastically skilled but were too small in number to continue to endure the relentless force, determination, and sheer quantity of the Persian army. Inevitably, the Thermopylae Pass was won by the Persians although we admire the Spartans for their dedication and effort. I have a feeling James, Wade, and Bosh may go the same way as the Spartans, but please, do not go tail between the legs because I’m pretty sure there was no cloth covering their backsides.

Friday, May 6, 2011

MLB Player to Watch: Eric Hosmer

Earlier this year, I wrote about how Kila Ka'aihue was an MLB Player to Watch.  So, you might wonder, why did you write about a guy who batted .195 in 23 games this season before getting sent down to Triple-A, Charlie?  Part of the answer, of course, was that he had a pretty impressive minor league track record of getting on base and hitting for power, and those types of guys are always worth watching when they get a shot in the big leagues.  Not only would it be interesting to see if he could be a successful major leaguer, but his fate would, no doubt, be connected to another young first baseman in the Royals system.  Never mind that that GM Dayton Moore and the Royals front office probably mishandled the whole situation by not giving him an earnest opportunity to play and it's questionable if they will ever understand how to value and assemble a major league roster, because that may not even matter soon.  

Why, you ask again?  BECAUSE ERIC HOSMER IS MAKING HIS DEBUT TONIGHT!!!!  That's the second reason I wrote about Kila -- because Hosmer is a stud we knew he'd be making it difficult to keep him in the minors very long, especially if Ka'aiahue struggled.  Well, he struggled, and Hosmer was even better than we expected, and now he's in Kansas City for all of us to watch.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Western Conference Semi-Finals Preview

Yesterday Obama kills Bin Laden. Today Guest Contributor Ryan Mahanna predicts that the Lakers will lose in six games to the Mavericks. Tough week for evil.  The real question is: Has Ryan overcompensated for his first round predictions by riding the Mavs and Grizz all the way to the Conference Finals? You make the call.

Before I begin my Western Conference Semi-Finals preview, I would like to extend an apology to two of my favorite players in the NBA, Dirk Nowitzki and Zach Randolph. Diggler and Z-Bo, I am sorry. First, I would like to say to Dirk that I felt dirty predicting that Portland would take you to seven games and then I felt even worse after much of the media was making the same prediction. Portland stinks, you are the man and I am stupid. After receiving my Western Conference First-Round preview, my RFH Collective editor and legal counsel John Hendrie immediately responded back "this looks great, but Dirk hates you." Ouch. I will do everything in my power to make it up to you in this round Dirk, I just hope it is enough.
Ich werde Sie unter verknallt Hammer.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Comprehensive Draft Recap

Consider yourself served Mel

The typical way that drafts are graded make no sense to the Collective. Giving a team an “A-” or a “C+” seems trivial and random. What we decided to do instead, was evaluate the draft by categorizing teams in ways that make more sense. The categories that we came up with were the following: “The Rich Get Richer”, “Welcome to the Playoff Hunt”, “Mixed Results”, “Pro Bowlers and Practice Team Players”, “Playoff Teams No More”, “From Bad to Worse”, and “Flat Out Bad”. These categories make more sense than the typical format because they take into account draft order and the current state of the team. It is unfair to compare the Cardinals and Jets on an A-F scale. The Cardinals had the opportunity to pick Patrick Peterson and the Jets did not. They were in different positions. In addition, the top teams have the luxury of picking niche players, where bad teams are trying to improve their rosters from top to bottom.

Two things that we emphasized in our analysis were trades and finding players who will end up on the 53 man roster. One thing we didn't emphasize strongly was need. Whether a team “reaches” on a pick is taken into account but not over emphasized like it is by some draft prognosticators. On a stylistic note, you will notice that the round is not included for each player. This was a purposeful way to remove stupid tags like “first round pick” when the pick is 28 or “second round pick” when the pick is 34.