Sunday, October 31, 2010

Dome Pondering Movie Review: Greenberg (2010)

DPMovieReviewGreenberg What is it about?

A soon-to-be middle-aged man that moves to Los Angeles to house sit for his brother reflects on the the decision that changed his life, while sparking an interest with his brother’s assistant.

Who is in it?

Ben Stiller – Roger Greenberg

Greta Gerwig – Florence Marr

Rhys Ifans – Ivan Schrank

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Five Keys To Knicks Season 2010-2011

DPKnicks10-11 Now that the summer of 2010 has come on gone, the new era of the New York Knicks has begun. And while the Knicks did not land either of the super friends that decided to take their talents to South Beach, the Knicerbockers landed a player that wanted to be here, and most importantly, embraced the opportunity to be a leader and spearhead this new era.

As the new season is set to begin, the Knicks are undoubtedly better than any team they have put on a court in the last five years. With a legitimate star, a productive point guard, young talent, and a great supporting cast that fits the seven-seconds-or-less offense, the new season is one that has plenty of anticipation and excitement heading into it. However, with ten new players that make-up this young (4th in the NBA) roster, there lies a lot of questions this season. With the current goal of the franchise to make the playoffs this season, here are the five keys to the New York Knicks for the 2010-2011 season:

1. Help Wanted! – We all know that Amar’e Stoudemire is going to score, score, and well, score. And while Stoudemrire will face double and on some nights, triple-teams, someone else will need to step up. No, Carmelo Anthony is not walking through the Garden doors anytime soon, therefore, the answer will have to come from within. The most logical choice will either be Wilson Chandler and/or Danilo Gallinari. Both players will not only need to step up and take their game to the next level, but will need to be consistent every night. If both can develop into the very best their potential suggests, the Knicks can surprise a lot of teams and “experts” this year.

2. STAT As Advertised – While we already covered that Stoudemire will score in this system, can he be the guy the Knicks have been looking for since Patrick Ewing. New York is not an easy place to be that kind of guy, and so far, Stoudemiore has said and done the right things from becoming part of the sporting media fabric, to leading in the pre-season. If he can play like the $100M player the Knicks expect him to be, maybe even force his name into MVP chatter, the Knicks maybe well on there way to a good season. Imagine that for a change.

3. Defense – Defense! – clap – clap – defense! The traditional chant at the guard we often hear at the Garden have rarely been reciprocated on the court by the players. In D’Antoni’s first two years here, his teams have fared well in offensive categories in the NBA. Defense on the other hand, were on the other side of the spectrum as the Knicks have been of the worst defensive teams in the NBA for the past two years. However, in D’Antoni’s defense, he has had teams that were always in flux, or simply make-shift, due to the salary dumping to get to this point.

Now, there are no excuses. With considerable hard-nose defenders in the back court with Felton and Douglas, including much needed size and length in guys like Mozgov, Turiaf, and Randolph, the Knicks ought to be better. In fact, they need to be better in order to have a winning season. No one is predicting championship, however, by the blueprint laid by the Celtics and Lakers last year, we’ve seen what defense can do for a team.

4. Felton, Steve Nash East? – Raymond Felton is the best point guard the Knicks have had in recent memory, period. Better than Eisley. Better than Marbury. Better than Duhon. Felton I believe can flourish in this system. His strength and speed allows him to be a perfect fit. How good can he be? The better question is, how good does he need to be? The pick-and-roll combination with Stoudemire has potential be very dangerous. However, Felton doesn’t need to become the East Coast version of Steve Nash. All Felton needs to do is lead this offense in productively running opposing teams ragged every single night.

5. Lean on Me – Finally, how fast can this team gel and become comfortable in a system that is new, with teammates who are new? Chemistry is going to be very important, especially for a team and franchise that needs to get off to a good start with a tough opening schedule.

Dome Pondering Prediction: 41-41

Monday, October 25, 2010

UFC 121 Loss is Best For Lesnar and White

DPUFC121 There is no other way to put it, Brock Lesnar looked absolutely awful this past Saturday night against Cain Velasquez. In fact, Lesnar, the former UFC Heavyweight Champion, looked so awful that it reminded everyone that he is indeed inexperience, that he did only have six professional fights going into his bout with Velasquez, and that he might have been a product of the UFC marketing campaign. 

Lesnar, who came out aggressive, even firing a flying knee, was picked apart by the more experienced and more rounded fighter in Velasquez. Going into the fight, Velasquez had all of the abilities that made for a recipe to dethrone Lesnar. Velasquez is a two-time All-American wrestler that can strike and is light on his feet. Velasquez also had a template given to him by Shane Carwin who had Lesnar beat in his last fight before tiring himself out with an all-or-nothing (senseless) strategy.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Retain or Release: New York Yankees 2010

DPNYYankees

40 Man Roster

Pitchers

Alfredo Aceves: Retain – Aceves’ injury left a gaping void in the Yanks bullpen that was never completely filled. Back surgery may turn that retain into a release. However, if all is well, a return can help sure up what may be another overhaul to the pen.

Jonathan Albaladejo: Retain – Had a stellar year in Triple-A with lights out numbers as a closer. Is a great long man out of the pen in the majors whenever Girardi needs him. Maybe this spring is the year he finally steps up to grab a hold on a more significant spot.

Andrew Brackman: Retain – Is finally becoming the pitcher that the Yanks knew they were getting. The return from Tommy John Surgery isn’t quite there, but Brackman is now of the 40-man and is well on his way.

A.J. Burnett: Retain – Absolutely awful year for Burnett. However, no one will take him, and to be honest, he is Mr. Inconsistent. Wouldn’t surprise me at all if he came back in 2011 with a stellar year.

Joba Chamberlain: Retain – Many may say Joba is done, but there are far worst relievers in baseball. Sometimes I think he might be better off going somewhere not for the sake of Yankee fans, but for the benefit of his own career.

Steve Garrison: Retain – Has bounced around between Rookie and Triple-A. Has shown flashes at times and is worth the keep.

Chad Gaudin: Release – Is a semi-decent long man out of the pen, but everyone holds their breath when he is on the hill. Could possibly fill his role with talent from the farm.

Phil Hughes: Retain – An 18-8 record with those ever-so-popular innings limit rules throughout the season. Should be fun to see how he bounces back once the handcuffs are off, as well as a not-so-good ALCS.

Boone Logan: Retain – Rock solid all year long with a streak of scoreless appearances thrown in. Reliable lefty that should make for interesting competition when Marte returns.

Damaso Marte: Retain – Should be interesting to see if surgery hinders the kind of pitcher Marte was in the past.

Sergio Mitre: Release – Slightly more reliable than Gaudin. However, with the influx of pitchers coming up in the farm, Mitre’s time with the Yanks should be over.

Dustin Moseley: Retain – The 2010 Tanyon Sturtze with less velocity. A great find by Cashman who was able to fill in during Pettitte’s injury and Hughes’ restrictions.

Hector Noesi: Retain – Still early in his development. Too soon to call.

Ivan Nova: Retain – A kid that quite possibly be something special for the Yanks moving forward. Needs to improve ability from the stretch. Could be a 4th or 5th starter, or even a vital guy in the bullpen.

Andy Pettite: Retain – Does he want to be retained?

Royce Ring: Release – He could end up returning with a minor league deal or Spring Training invite. Anything further is not necessary.

Mariano Rivera: Retain – No brainer here.

David Robertson: Retain – Aside from his meltdown in the ALCS, Robertson has really emerged as a force in the pen. Girardi deserves a lot of credit for his growth and improvement. Should be part of 2011 pen.

CC Sabathia: Retain – The Horse. The ace.

Romulo Sanchez: Retain – Big righty with limited time in the majors. Jury is still out on this one. Nonetheless, couldn’t hurt to have depth in Triple-A.

Javier Vazquez: Release – The Javy redemption project was a bust. He’ll pitch in the Kansas City’s or Pttisburgh’s of world next year and win 15 games.

Kerry Wood: Retain – Only at a reasonable price. Dave Eiland deserves a lot of credit for resurrecting Wood’s career. Claims to love New York, however, has an 11M option, and could possibly receive many tempting offers to be closer again. He’s about 51% gone.

Catchers

Francisco Cervelli: Retain – Cervelli gets a bad wrap for his inability to throw out runners (due to always catching Burnett who is terrible at holding guys on) and his low batting average. However, Cervelli is a great receiver that can help carry hold the load while the catching situation is in transition.

Chad Moeller: Release – With guys named Montero, Romine, and Sanchez on the farm, Moeller’s days with the club are finished.

Jorge Posada: Retain – Posada is your everyday DH next year. With Montero, Cervelli and himself currently projected to split catching duties in 2011, Posada will be on his final season with the only club he has ever known.

Infielders

Lance Berkman: Release – Interested in playing everyday and in the field. Not a good fit moving forward.

Robinson Cano: Retain – The future face of the New York Yankees.

Reegie Corona: Retain – Developing and can add strength and versatility.

Derek Jeter: Retain – The question becomes more real every year – how much longer at shortstop?

Juan Miranda: Retain – Great pop of the bench with a decent glove.

Eduardo Nunez: Retain – Cashman called Nunez the future shortstop of the Yankees. Big expectations to live up to, and certainly big shoes to fill.

Ramiro Pena: Retain – Decent glove off the bench with versatility. Needs to improve with the bat.

Alex Rodriguez: Retain – Once again has a lot to prove that his career is not in a free-fall downslide.

Mark Teixeira: Retain – Like A-Rod, needs to bounce back from down year.

Outfielders

Colin Curtis: Retain – Showed poise and ability in opportunity given.

Brett Gardner: Retain – Carl Crawford without the power. And oh yeah, much, much cheaper.

Greg Golson: Retain – Quite possibly could crack team as 5th outfielder. Has speed, glove, and a heck of an arm (ask: Carl Crawford).

Curtis Granderson: Retain – Second half saved what could have been an ugly season. Would Jackson been able to have same season with Yanks as he did in Detroit? We’ll never know.

Austin Kearns: Release – Logical move at the deadline. Did not pan out.

Kevin Russo: Retain – An infield version of Colin Curtis.

Nick Swisher: Retain – Had a great year with new tweaks from Coach Kevin Long. Post-Season struggles are beginning to haunt Swish.

Marcus Thames: Retain – A great find by Cashman. Dominated lefties, and would be a great bat again off the bench.

Designated Hitter

Nick Johnson: Release – Anyone remember him playing this season?

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Real Reason We Are Not In The World Series

DPRealReasonYanksLose Following the elimination of the New York Yankees last night at the hands of the talented, and hot, Texas Rangers, raw emotions are high here in the big city. Unlike the years where most eliminations occur, this year seems to be a little different. Instead of mourning, sorrow, and sheer sadness, there seems to be a growing unrest amongst some in the Yankee fan base. Whether that unrest seems to come from the real fans, the fraudbags, or others in this city, there are many that have an opinion on what happened, should have happened, and what must happen going forward.

With all of the cloudy emotion and judgment being on high, one thing is for sure – everyone is overreacting.

Yes, overreacting. Big time.

Here are some of the comments, thoughts, and reactions that were made on sports talk radio today that are an example of the overreaction:

“C.C. Sabathia should have been in after Girardi pulled Hughes”

“If Sabathia was available for 50-60 pitches, why didn’t Girardi just start him for game 6?”

“Girardi is not the guy for this job. He got lucky last year.”

“Girardi needs to use his gut more, and stop relying on that stupid binder. We lost this series because of him.”

“We need to go out and get Lee, Crawford, and Werth.”

“A-Rod will never be a two-time World Series Champion like Jeter.”

Logical? I didn’t think so.

The fact of the matter is this – the New York Yankees were outplayed by the Texas Rangers. Point. Blank. Period.

In fact, if it weren’t for a breakout 8th inning of game 1, the ALCS could likely have ended in a sweep. Texas were better in all facets of the game – pitching, hitting, fielding, running, and even the intangibles.

The entire series felt like an up hill climb, including all but Game 5 where the Yankees played from behind.

In a series for the Yankees where A-Rod, Jeter, and an eventually hurt Teixeira came up empty, Sabathia and Hughes were both average, the bullpen always having to pitch from behind or with inherited runners, and Posada unable block a pitch or throw out a runner, it’s unbelievable that Girardi seems to be everyone’s root and prime suspect.

I understand that there needs to be a fall guy. And as manager, he is that guy.

However, Girardi, a man who’s physical appearance is evident of the pressure that comes with being manager of the new York Yankees, has done an absolutely great job over the past three seasons. Heck, he lead them to a championship last year! He’s done a great job of managing and at some points, getting the most out of his bullpen. DPRealReasonYanksLose1

At the end of the day, he cannot play the game for the men whose names he writes on a lineup card. He made the same moves he has been making all year. He put the correct players in the right position to succeed the same way he has all year – the same way he did last October. Except this time, for one week, for six games, very little of them worked. 

An argument can be made that Girardi did little to adjust. However, the argument – any argument - against Girardi for the loss of this series is strictly once again, overreaction.

I’ll be the first Yankee fan to admit, the better team is moving on. So let’s stop giving poor excuses and crazy reasons for the loss. Let’s stop searching for someone to blame this failed run at number 28 on. Let’s stop wishing for crazy acquisitions and talent transactions over the winter. Let’s look no further than the clearest and simplest way to cope with, and to answer, why we’re not in the World Series.

We were outplayed, period.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Dome Pondering Movie Review: Big Fan (2009)

DPBigFanPoster What is it about?


Paul Aufiero, an obsessed New York Giants fan, struggles to deal with the consequences after he is assaulted by his favorite football player and hero.

Who is in it?

Patton Oswalt – Paul Aufiero

Kevin Corrigan – Sal

Michael Rapport – Philadelphia Phil

Friday, October 15, 2010

Bound For Glory Could Mark New Era in TNA Wrestling

DPBFGFallout TNA Bound For Glory has come and gone, and the recent developments in Total Nonstop Action Wrestling has created a situation that has everyone in the world of wrestling buzzing. Of course, the situation being alluded to is the heel turn of probably the most popular wrestler in all of pro wrestling – Jeff Hardy. 

With weeks upon weeks of build up surrounding the “10.10.10” storyline and the mystery of “they”, the entire saga was revealed with Jeff Hardy aligning with Hulk Hogan, Eric Bischoff, Jeff Jarrett, Ric Flair, and the all of Fortune to form the stable, “Immortal.” 

Now following Bound For Glory, which I must admit, was subpar in comparison to other BFGs, everyone’s opinion went one of two ways: 1) It was the dumbest move TNA could make, and 2) it was a great move that will spark lots of interest. Initially, as BFG went off the air, I loved the idea, and the new direction TNA seemed to be heading in. I hated the quirky finish to the main event, but the payoff to the “they” storyline, and the possibilities it creates for future in-ring matchups were something that seemed endless. However, as with most wrestling storylines (especially TNA), I wanted to wait until the fall out on the following iMPACT to really solidify my stance. 


Well, despite the lack of wrestling on the broadcast (hopefully, due to the fall out from BFG) it seems that TNA Wrestling is on to something that may take the company to a new level. The series of promos and interaction between Dixie Carter and Immortal is great stuff that seems to be setting things in motion for the next few months. More impressive was the new persona of Jeff Hardy who is refreshed and impressive in his new role as a heel. 

And while some may still complain about the direction of the company, the television ratings of last Thursday’s iMPACT prove that many are interested in the new direction the company is headed in. While I still hope for more X-Division action, the new and current direction of TNA Wrestling is proving to be the best thing going in the wrestling industry today, and most importantly, could be the start of a new era in TNA Wrestling.

Friday, October 01, 2010

It’s Not Because You’re Black, LeBron. It’s Because You’re Wrong.

DPLeBronRaceCard NEWS FLASH: LeBron James is black!

It is the reason the city of Cleveland burned his jersey upon learning about his departure. The nerve of a black man to leave Cleveland.

The rest of the nation was disgusted with “The Decision” because it surrounded a black man. The nerve of a black man to be a free agent.

The nation’s backlash against LeBron’s decision to join the rest of the super friends of Miami was because he was a black man joining other black men to play basketball. The nerve of a black man to join a really good basketball team.

Race has to be the reason why you are viewed this way, right LeBron? Right, Maverick Carter?

“I think so at times. It’s always, you know, a race factor”

                                                     - LeBron James

“It definitely played a role in some of the stuff coming out of the media, things that were written for sure.”

                                                    - Maverick Carter

Wow. Are they seriously using the race card to cover up their mistakes?

Upon reading Lebron’s comments which were of course, and undoubtedly, cosigned by his “business partner"/friend”, Maverick Carter, I could not believe what I was reading.

Maybe he enjoys being the new guy to hate in professional sports?

Or maybe, just maybe, Lebron doesn’t think he is wrong?

Is he that naive? That… well, umm…dumb?

This “Summer of LeBron” revealed three things about Lebron James: 1) how uneducated and out of touch his “team” (his friends) really are, 2) his true lack of loyalty and lack of competitiveness, and 3) that he believes he is not at fault for any of this backlash. None at all.

And while this all began to unveil itself when LeBron decided to “take his talents to South Beach”, it seems LeBron continues to build upon his image of becoming (being) the most pompous, pretentious, and clueless athlete in sports.

The public backlash against LeBron has absolutely, and undoubtedly, zero chance of being connected to the fact that he is black. The majority of the NBA is black. Shaq left Orlando high and dry for Los Angeles without any major backlash. Tracy McGrady at one point switched teams. So did Amar’e Stoudemire recently, including his new teammate in Chris Bosh. The reason each of them never received negative feedback is because they didn’t need a one hour special of ESPN promoted propaganda to make their “decision.”

More on ESPN later.

The real backlash backlash comes from the arrogance and ego that LeBron and “his team” exhibited from “The Decision”. Or how about the public embarrassment and humiliation he put the city of Cleveland through? Or yes, even that grand spectacle of dancing, posing, and showboating to cap it off in Miami. Pick one. They all did damage. LeBron pulled off the trifecta in a week.

Now this “Race factor” blame can now be added to list.

In fact, what LeBron fails to realize, the true “race factor” in the NBA is not involving the black athlete, but the one of the white athlete. The white player, who has the tougher hill to climb and the larger stereotype to break because of his skin color. He’s white, so he can’t run, jump, be physical, or play above the rim. He’s just a shooter. Yup, the only comparable player for the white player is Larry Bird. But that’s another post for another day.

LeBron needs to seek advice from someone who has been in the business, and understands how it works.  He won’t get that from Maverick Carter and the rest of his band of friends that have gotten him into this hole – the one he needs a huge ladder get out of.

He needs to know that the public backlash has nothing to do with him personally, his switch of teams, or even his race. It has to do with the fact that he’s wrong. Wrong in the way he handled his departure of Cleveland and wrong in the way he handled his free agency.

The shocking fact is, it is that easy to put this all behind him. A simple admittance of being wrong about the way he left Cleveland and his free agency would suffice. We are, and have always been a very forgiven society (see: Michael Vick).

Unfortunately, LeBron and Maverick Carter do not believe they, or anything they have done was wrong.

Jason Whitlock, who has never been afraid to state his opinion on such topics does so in a great piece. He touched on similar points stating:

“The truth is, LeBron James and his kiddie corps of handlers are no threat to the power structure. None.

LeBron James and his business partner/friend Maverick Carter are two spoiled kids, drunk on fame and privilege and clueless about how to maximize and utilize the power they have.

LeBron’s enablers are providing him the racial cocoon of denial. They’re giving LeBron an excuse to avoid dealing with his own bad (The) Decision.

LeBron blew a perfect opportunity to say, ‘Man, I screwed up the way I left Cleveland, and I regret the animosity it created. It’s a mistake I’ve learned from.’”

The following are additional feedback and comments from Charles Barkley. Barkley is real, candid, and the straight shooter that he always is stating:

"Sometimes you just say he’s making bad decisions and you’re like okay, he’s gonna get it together. Then he makes more bad decisions. The thing that’s interesting about LeBron ... Magic, Michael, and myself, we said we wouldn’t have did it. That’s not a criticism. We were asked a question. I don’t want to play with Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, or Michael, I want to beat them. That’s strictly basketball. The only criticism I’ve heard about LeBron and it was my biggest criticism, that decision thing was just stupid. It was stupid.

The second thing when they all came out there dancing around on stage, that was silly. That’s the only thing I’ve heard LeBron get criticized about. That has nothing to do with race. That’s what makes this last thing so stupid. That’s stupid. The only criticism of LeBron has been the decision and the one hour of our life that we can’t have back.

And ESPN, oh my God. Oh my God. To go down to training camp and report everyday is one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever seen. I’m watching yesterday and one of the guys actually said LeBron looked fierce in practice. I’m like fierce in practice? What the hell does that mean? He was fierce in the second day of training camp. You’re like come on man, he really didn’t say that did he. This summer with LeBron and all the stuff that went on is like a bad movie. You just can’t make this stuff up. They do realize the Lakers have won the last two championships? If you're going to cater to somebody, at least cater to the guys who have actually won the last two championships. They have definitely crossed the line and this is unprecedented. This is unprecedented a-- kissing."

I’m glad I wasn’t the only one that noticed ESPN’s continued LeBron worship. Four days ago it was tweeted here at the DP, “ESPN is at Heat camp along with a booth and their analysts. Didn't see that one coming. *Sarcasm* Let the butt kissing begin.”DPESPNOutofControlTweet

Sir Charles is completely right - it needs to stop.

Nonetheless, LeBron’s recent  attempt to play the race card is just another action that forces me, and probably many more, to lose respect for him. It is amazing to think about the 180 that LeBron and his image/brand (Isn’t that what he is supposedly so conscious about?) has undergone since July 1st, 2010. As alluded to by Barkley, his self-inflicting actions just won’t stop.

But why would it?

LeBron, Maverick Carter, and the rest of his team don’t believe they have done a thing wrong.