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Life is a Highway

Life is a Highway
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Sunday, 24 June 2012

The History of the Lakers vs Celtics Rivalry: The Greatest Rivalry in the NBA



To say the Los Angeles Lakers Boston Celtics Rivalry is great is a huge understatement, as former Oakland Raiders Head Coach John Madden said. For a Rivalry to be great two teams have to be good at the same time, the games that the two teams play against each other have to mean something. Championships and playoff positioning has to be at stake, the two worst teams in a league or two of the worst teams in the league. May hate each others guts but so what and may play very close games against each other but so what, bad teams tend to play close games against each other. And one reason for that, is a lot of times when they play each other, neither team is good enough to actually win the game. Its the team that makes the most mistakes that loses the game, which is different from actually winning the game and I know that looks different in Record Books but thats how it is. What separates the Lakers-Celtics from everyone else in the NBA, as well as most rivalries in the Pro Sports. Including the long 45 year rivalry between the Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers. Is their history that goes back to the early 1960s.

The Lakers played the Celtics for the NBA Finals Championship in the 1960s, I believe five times alone. Three times in the 1980s and twice already in this century, once in the last decade and in 2010 as well, the best of the West, meeting the best of the East, Southwest meeting Northeast. Two big cities in Los Angeles and Boston but culturally very different, its sorta like Little Mexico in Los Angeles's case, vs Little Ireland in Boston's case but with a lot of other peoples. And cultures mixed in both communities, very different communities that really only had one thing in common. They both had a great NBA Franchises that only had one goal every year, to win the NBA Finals and knew the other team was in their way and that they had to play their best. And their hardest to beat the other team, because they knew the other team was great and the best team that they would play that year.

Another reason why the Lakers-Celtics Rivalry was so great, was because of what they were playing each other for. Five times in the 1960s and three times in the 1980s, between 1984-87, 2-3 years from 2008-10, to be the best to be the best basketball team in the World, not to be World Champions. But to be the best team in the best basketball league in the World the NBA. Thats what made the Lakers-Celtics Rivalry so great and why its still great, what's at stake when they play each other.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Yankee Stadium Don Mattingly Feature: The Great Yankee Who's Not in The Hall of Fame



You don't get a nickname like Donny Baseball especially in a city like New York with all the great baseball players they've had. Unless you are something special and thats exactly what you have in former Yankee 1B Don Mattingly, when you think of Marcus, you think of the Raider RB Don Marcus Allen. When you think of Earvin, you think of the Lakers Point Guard Earvin Magic Johnson. When you think of Wayne, you think of the great Edmonton Oilers Center Wayne Gretsky and you can go down the line. When you think of Donny you thing of Don Mattingly who brought everything that a baseball player can bring to the game and the New York Yankees. But happened to play in an era, when the Yankees were still contending for Division Championships, just not winning any after 1981 in the 1980s. Donny breaks in with Yankees in 1982, so a lot of this was timing. Had MLB had the Wild Card back then, the Yankees would've made the playoffs at least a couple of times past 1981 and we would've gotten to see what Donny could've done in the AL Playoffs in his prime. Instead of in 1995, the Yankees only Playoff Appearance in the Donny Baseball era, where Donny was still dealing with his back injury. That limited his ability to hit for power and be the Gold Glove 1B that he was.

This is why I believe Don Mattingly should be in the Hall of Fame without even mentioning that. Before the back injury in 1989 or 1990 and the Yankees were already going downhill at this point. No longer a serious contender in the AL East but before the back injury, you could count on Don Mattingly hitting 330-340, 25-30 Home Runs, around 100 RBI's, more or less and around 100 Runs scored. As well as being a Gold Glove 1B, you are talking about the best all around 1B of the 1980s, the only other 1B I would consider would be Orioles 1B Eddie Murray, who other then in 1986, didn't have any major injuries in his career. With all the other 1B that Donny played against, Eddie Murray with the Orioles in the same division, Keith Hernandez with the Cardinals and Mets, later on Mark McGwire with the Athletics, Frank Thomas with the White Sox and others. For Don Mattingly to not only be the best 1B amongst this group and for a whole decade. He belongs in the Hall of Fame, and without the back injury, he's a no doubter.

Numbers alone other then the career Batting Average of over 300 and the multiple Gold Gloves that Don Mattingly won, doesn't get him in the Hall of Fame. But numbers aren't the only picture, there are guys with average stats that are in the Hall of Fame like Orioles 3B Brooks Robinson. Who's not in the Hall of Fame as a hitter, even though he was a solid hitter, especially in the clutch. The reason why Brooks is in the Hall of Fame, is because he's the best Defensive 3B of all time, its that simple. The reason why Donny isn't a clear cut Hall of Famer, is because of his numbers, his back injury limited his production for the rest of his career. Otherwise you are probably talking about a guy with a 330 or Batting Average, 400-500 Home Runs, 1800 RBI, somewhere in that neighborhood, it would've depended on how long he would've played. But had he stayed healthy he could've played 16-20 years.

The reasons why Don Mattingly should be in the Hall of Fame, best 1B of his era and in an era of great 1B. Best 1B of an entire decade the 1980s and in a decade of great 1B, without the back injury, a locked in First Ballot Hall of Famer. And there are guys who are in the Hall of Fame, that should be in the Hall of Fame but weren't as good as players and who played in the same era like Red Sox 3B Wade Boggs. Who was mostly a slap and doubles hitter, who didn't drive in a lot of runs, especially for a 3B with as high of a Bating Average that he had. Part of that was playing at Fenway Park for as long as he did but Mattingly was a better all around hitter. So was Red Sox OF Jim Rice who just recently went in to the Hall of Fame.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Rodney King Dead at 47: The Man Who Asked The Question, Can We All Get Along, Passes Away



I was fifteen and a freshmen in High School, in March of 1991 when the Rodney King Police Brutality story broke. And I saw it on CNN with my family as we were eating dinner that night and saw the video of those LA Cops, beating a man lying on the ground, after they pulled him over for a Traffic Violation. It seemed like a strange story for me from the beginning, I heard about Police Brutality in the past but I don't remember ever seeing it. Even on TV, the other interesting thing about this story to me, was that even though Rodney King was pulled over for a Traffic Violation, there were like four Cops there. To just one person, King being the driver, they felt the need to pullover one man with four Cops, over a Traffic Violation. Hearing stories about Caucasian Cops beating and abusing African Americans is not new, perhaps especially in Los Angeles. But four Cops to pull over a motorist for a Traffic Violation and of course these Cops getting off, my words for this incident, as far as not having to do time for it. Even though they are caught on video, beating this man on the ground with knife sticks, pulling someone over for speeding.

From what I know about Rodney King, I'll be the first person to say the man wasn't a Saint. He had innocents with law, before and after this incident. But to his credit, in response to the LA Riots, Rodney King asked the country or at least Los Angeles, a simple very fundamental but important question, can we all get along. That this is not the way to handle in justices, that these riots are only hurting the people who live in these communities, not LAPD or the Cops that should've been punished for these crimes. This is a man who suffered a brutal beating at the expense of Law Enforcement Officers, who must of been as mad as hell about that. And yet he takes the high road and asks the question, can we all get along, not accusing all Cops of being thugs or all Caucasian Cops of being racists. Or throwing Racial Slurs at them but wanted to know if LA could move past this and move forward as a city.

Rodney King had a rough 47 years, everything from having a Drug Addiction, a Criminal Record, blowing a lot of the money he made. From the lawsuit he won against LAPD but he did seem at least at one point, be getting his life turned around and moving forward from this. I'm not shocked to hear that King has died today, even at the young age of 47 but I'm just a little disappointed by it, because he could've done a lot more with his life, then what he did.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

1979 Houston Oilers, "Luv Ya Blue": Bum Phillips Builds a Winner in Houston



Before Bum Phillips came to Houston in 1975 to be the Oilers Head Coach/General Manger, the Oilers were down. Having not had a winning season since the 1960s, when they did have some good teams but they did already have some talent. Like QB Dan Pastorini, C Karl Mauch, WR Ken Borough, WR Billy Johnson, DE Elvin Bethea and some others but as Bum Phillips said the Oilers had players but they weren't a team. He built the Oilers into a team and that they had three straight winning seasons from 1975-77. And would've made the AFC Playoffs in each of those seasons, had they not of been in the same division as the Pittsburgh Steelers. And had the NFL back then had five Wild Card teams in the Playoffs in each Conference, finally made the AFC Playoffs in 1978-80, back to back AFC Finals in 78 and 79. And the Oilers were very solid on both sides of the ball, both tough and physical and would run you over and when they drafted RB Earl Campbell in 1978, they now had explosion in the running game as with WR Ken Borough, explosion in the passing game as well.

You don't have to be a huge NFL Fan as far as how much you love that league, to appreciate the game of the mid and late 1970s. When you had all on this explosion of talent coming into the league, the 1974 Pittsburgh Steelers draft, where they drafted like six future Hall of Famers. Is a pretty good example of that, the players that came into the league from 1974-79, are excellent examples of this. And the Houston Oilers of this era are excellent examples of this, where both the AFC and NFC each year, had 3-4 teams that had excellent shots of not only winning their Conference but winning the Super Bowl. With the Pittsburgh Steelers, Oakland Raiders, Miami Dolphins, Houston Oilers, Cleveland Browns and San Diego Chargers later on in the AFC alone. And even the Cincinnati Bengals of the 1970s had very good teams as well in the 1970s but played in the best division in the NFL, the AFC Central.

The Oilers of this era never really had a great team, someone who was going to beat the Oakland Raiders, Pittsburgh Steelers or Dallas Cowboys. To play and win the Super Bowl but they were in that next group, the wannabes and I put that in nicest way possible, a collection of teams year after year. That wanted to be Champions but kept coming up a little short, as well as I believe playing in the best era the NFL has ever seen in the 1970s.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Sicilians Scene from "True Romance": Christopher Walken The Ultimate Character



I could write a blog saying that actor Dennis Hopper is the Ultimate Character and I wouldn't be lying. The movies Speed, Easy Rider, Top of The World and guess what True Romance one of my favorite movies of all time, are excellent examples of that but this blog is about Chris Walken, so I'm going to go with him, the King of Saturday Night Live hosting. Alec Baldwin and Tom Hanks are excellent hosts of that show as well but Chris Walken to me is a full time comedian, I realize his title is that of an actor but I put him in the same category of a Robert Diniro or Al Pacino, I believe Deniro and Pacino are better actors. But Chris Walken and is funnier then Diniro and Pacino, all three of these actors and I'm going to make this about Chris Walken, don't really need a script or words to do their routine. Walken is a master improver or improviser, someone who can pull out characters off the top of his head. Who can go from charming articulate guy, to evil bastard, who kills people for saying the wrong thing, like you see in this scene, in the same scene.

What you see in this scene is Master Gamesmanship between Chris Walken and Dennis Hopper, well I guess their characters actually. Walken is trying to convince Hopper that he needs to tell him what he knows about Hopper's son played by Christian Slater, as far as what they talked about when they came by. And where they are headed to, because Slater and his wife stole their mob money and obviously want it back and he's basically trying to convince Hopper. Look you tell me what I need to know and I won't hurt or kill you, you don't tell me what I need to know. You'll die very slowly, Hopper being the veteran Detroit cop that he is, knows better then to trust an Italian Mobster, who's Sicilian by the way and has just said that Sicilians are the World Heavyweight Champions of liars. And has calculated that he's dead no matter what and he should protect his son. Makes sense right.

Chris Walken is a great comedian because you can think he suppose to play one role and then can bring out a different character and bring that into his routine. Into the scene and pull it all together into one performance and make it work, as he's said he's not a mimic, the only person he plays is Chris Walken. And these different characters and personalities that he pulls out when he does his routine, are all his own creations and he's a brilliant Physical Comedian. Similar to Al Pacino or Bob Diniro or a Jack Lemmon but even better.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

TYT Sports: Video: Lebron James 4th Quarter: Celtics Take Game 5: A Teams vs Stars and The Team is Winning



My definition of a great player is pretty simple, a great player dominates on both ends of the court. Someone who doesn't present himself as a weakness on either defense or offense and is a player that plays his best when the game matters most and in the biggest games. A guy who scores 30 points after three quarters but does nothing in the fourth quarter is not a great player. But a guy who consistently scores 20 points and even goes for 30 at times and makes several shots, when the game matters most, close game in the fourth quarter, towards the end of the game. And in the biggest games, Playoff games Championship games, which is what the Conference Finals are to decide . Who represents the Conference to play for the NBA Championship the Larry O'Brien Trophy in the NBA Finals, Kevin Garnett is 35 years old, in his 17th NBA Season but he's still a great player. He dominates on both ends of the court and is still a great rebounder and makes his biggest plays when the game is on the line, thats what great player do. Not a guy who scores 30 points as his team loses by twenty.

The reasons that I just laid out of why Kevin Garnett is still a great player to go along with Forward Paul Pierce of the Celtics, is why Lebron James is not a great player. Another Fourth Quarter, another MIA for Lebron James, this time he managed not to foul out but he might as well have, because once again it was Dwayne Wade making all the big plays for the Miami Heat. Lebron James was suppose to be the next Michael Jordan, the guy who was going to replace Kobe Bryant, Michael didn't take Fourth Quarters off, especially in a Conference Final and neither did Kobe, you didn't have to explain to them what he situation was, they knew it by heart. And if anything knew it better then their own Head Coach, which is a lesson that Lebron James hasn't learned yet. Which is something he's going to have to learn quickly, because once again the favorite to win the NBA Finals, are at the brink of elimination.

The Miami Heat haven't been eliminated yet, the Celtics still have to beat them one more time, which they'll have an excellent opportunity to do back in Boston. And maybe Lebron will prove all of his critics wrong and step up and have a great game and the Heat will beat the Celtics. But with the last three games, there isn't much evidence of that as the Heat a team of a couple stars and guys who watch them, are losing to a very good team.