LEADING OFF WITH A FEW THOUGHTS ON DONALD STERLING

 

All the money in the world can’t erase the fool the owner (at least for now) of the NBA Los Angeles Clippers has made of himself. He can’t buy his way out of this one. He’s even losing his second award of merit from the Los Angeles chapter of the NAACP. How’d he get the first one?

 

I understand why the Los Angeles Clippers players are upset, but I wonder why Sterling’s comments haven’t galvanized them instead of apparently severely hurting their performance on Sunday…The players must realize today that the vast majority of observers – basketball fans and non-basketball fans alike -- are rooting for them now more than ever. I’ll be very surprised if they don’t put forth a superior effort Tuesday night at their “safe haven” home arena in Game 5.

 

I’m buying every negative comment regarding Sterling from former NBA superstars, but I didn’t like Charles Barkley saying “we’re a black league.” It is a league for everyone to play in and for all fans to follow. I think I know where the ever outspoken Barkley was coming from but he didn’t need to say it.

 

CarMax being at the front of sponsors dumping the Clippers because of the Sterling tapes will get the company far more positive exposure than its nine-year affiliation with his team ever did.

 

Life lesson thanks to Sterling :Narrow-minded old rich guys who associate with much younger pretty women should be wary of their intentions and be on guard for being taped.

 

KNIGHTHAWKS CAN ‘T COUNT ON ZEBRAS FOR HELP

 

The two-time defending champion Rochester Knighthawks will enter the six-team National Lacrosse League playoffs with a chance to make history. No team ever has won three straight NLL titles.

 

The numbers say the Edmonton Rush (16-2 record; +63 goal differential) and Rochester (14-4 record; +43 goal differential) are the obvious teams to beat.

 

The numbers also say the Knighthawks are the playoff team least likely to get any help from the officials.

 

Here’s how the six playoff teams rank in penalty minutes and special teams:

 

Penalty minutes differential:

 

Edmonton – 251 PIM…opponents 348 (+98)

 

Colorado – 272 PIM…opponents 313 (+41)

 

Calgary – 286 PIM…opponents 305 (+19

 

Buffalo – 349 PIM…opponents 337 (-12)

 

Toronto – 426 PIM…opponents 377 (-49)

 

Rochester – 344 PIM…opponents 269 (-75)

 

The bottom line: Rochester is a rugged team and the 344 PIM is not shocking, but the opponents showed remarkable restraint in accumulating only 269 PIM.

 

Power play percentage:

 

Calgary – 55.4 percent (41-for-74)

 

Toronto – 50,0 percent (42-for-84)

 

Colorado – 49.4 percent (43-for-87)

 

Rochester – 48.1 percent (26-for-54)

 

Edmonton – 42.0 percent (37-for-88)

 

Buffalo – 40.5 percent (34-for-84)

 

The bottom line: The Knighthawks have a decent power play. The concern is the lack of opportunities.

 

Penalty killing percentage:

 

Calgary – 66.7 percent (64-for-96)

 

Edmonton – 54.3 percent (38-for-70)

 

Rochester – 53.4 percent (39-for-73)

 

Buffalo – 52.5 percent (52-for-99)

 

Toronto  -- 51.2 percent (44-for-86)

 

Colorado – 45.6 (37-for-69).

 

It will be interesting to see if the Knighthawks continue to get the short end of the stick from the zebras in the playoffs. Winning three straight titles is tough enough without a normal number of power plays.

 

WILL JOSE ABREU BE A BARGAIN COMPARED TO TANAKA?

 

Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka got more money and media attention when he signed with the New York Yankees than Cuban slugger Jose Abreu received from the Chicago White Sox. So0 far, Abreu looks like a bargain.

 

Tanaka signed a seven=year, $155 million deal with the Yankees (plus a $20 million posting fee to his team in Japan). He’s 25 years old. He’s had a very good April for the Yankees: 5 starts; 3-0 record; 2,27 ERA; 35 2/3 innings; 27 hits allowed; 6 walks; 46 strikeouts.

 

Abreu signed a six-year, $68 million deal (including a $10 million signing bonus) with the White Sox. He’s 27 years old. He’s had a spectacular April: .262 batting average (27-for-103); 6 doubles; 1 triple; 10 HRs; 31 RBI. He entered Monday leading the majors in HRs and RBI.

 

Tanaka is two years younger than Abreu and – as a pitcher – far more likely to have future injuries that could limit his effectiveness.

 

RAMSAY COACHED THE BEST OF THE BUFFALO BRAVES

 

Basketball Hall of Famer Dr. Jack Ramsay, who died Monday at age 89 in Naples, Fla.,  coached the Buffalo Braves during the team’s brief run of success in the NBA.

 

Ramsay coached the Braves for four seasons – 1972-73 through 1975-76:

 

1972-73 21-61 record…drafted Bob McAdoo

 

1973-74 42-40 record…lost to Boston in first round of playoffs

 

1974-75 41-33 record…lost conference finals to Washington

 

1975-76 46-35 record…lost conference finals to Boston.

 

Ramsay’s next stop was Portland, where he coached the Trail Blazers to the 1977 NBA title.

 

Ramsay preached uptempo basketall and his Braves – featuring McAdoo, Randy Smith and Ernie DiGregorio – were for a three-year period one of the NBA’s best offensive shows. He preached RUN, RUN, RUN and no team did it better. It was fun to be a Braves fun.

 

For the record, the Braves were 30-52 in 1976-77 and 27-55 in 1977-78 – without Ramsay – before new owner Irv Levin moved the team to San Diego.

 

NBA’S FIRST ROUND HAS NEVER BEEN BETTER

 

Even the unfortunate revelations regarding Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling can erase the fact that the first round of the NBA have been extraordinarily entertaining. The update entering Monday night:

 

Home teams 13-17 (that’s not supposed to happen in the NBA)…Las Vegas favorites are an amazingly lousy 6-22-2 against the point spread…7 overtime games.

 

The only completely formful series is Miami 3-0 over Charlotte entering Monday night. The Heat are taking it relatively easy while Western Conference powers are beating each other up.  San Antonio, Oklahoma City and the Clippers are fighting for their playoff lives.

 

The first round of the NHL playoffs have been as intense as usual. The update entering Monday: Boston, Chicago, Anaheim and Chicago have advanced to the second round…Home team are 27-14…23 of 41 games decided by one goal, including 13 overtime games.

 

WHO WILL BE THE FIRST SLUGGER TO REGULARLY BUNT VS. SHIFTS

 

Baseball players are stubborn athletes in a stubborn sport.

 

I’m sure you’ve noticed the latest craze in Major League Baseball – defensive shifts.

 

Why did it take so long for managers to decide to place their fielders at spots particular opposing batters are most likely to hit the ball? Seems so simple. Took so long.

 

So now I’m wondering why the top hitters – particularly the left-handed, pull-hitting sluggers facing alignments on the right side of the infield – continue to defy logic in an attempt to prove their manhood by continuing to swing for the right field fences.

 

Most big-league hitters are skilled enough to swing late or even drop bunts when facing the shifts.

 

What will be the first manager to suggest that a highly-paid slugger drop down a bunt or swing late for a single to help the team?

 

This is like asking which NFL coach will consistently do for first downs on fourth-and-short from inside an opponent’s 50-yard line.

 

SHORT SHOTS

 

Red Wings veteran right-handed pitcher Yohan Pino isn’t on Minnesota’s 40-man roster, but he deserves a shot with the Twins. Minnesota’s 5.00 earned run average ranks 14th in the American League and it is tough to believe that Pino isn’t better than a few chuckers currently in Minnesota’s bullpen. His pitching line with Rochester: 4-0 record; 1.17 ERA; 23 innings; 12 hits allowed; 7 walks; 27 strikeouts; 0.83 WHIP.

 

Cody Jamieson of the Knighthawks is the 2014 National Lacrosse League scoring champion: 108 points (36 goals, 72 assists)…Shawn Evans. Calgary (105 points; 26G, 79A)…Garrett Billings (Toronto) 101 points (32G, 69A)…John Grant Jr. (Colorado) 91 points; 40G, 51A)…Dan Dawson (Rochester) 91 points (19 G, 72A).

 

Check out Monday’s Daily Gammons for an in-depth article on 2013 Rede Wings superhero Chris Coilabello by Hall of Fame baseball writer Peter Gammons. He describes Colabello’s drive to play baseball as “at the intersection of dream and reality.”