Tuesday, June 26, 2007


1) Portland Trailblazers - Kevin Durant F Texas

Should be the pick: Kevin Durant F Texas

First off, the really tricky explanation: why the Blazers actually ARE taking Durant when Oden is the odds on favorite. I think if the Blazers are still trying to figure this out, it's because they are taking Durant. If their new GM wanted Oden all along he should have been drumming up support for him for the last week or so; instead of calling Durant's workout the best he's ever seen. At least wouldn't he leak that they loved Oden and see if any trade offers would come through? It seems too late in the game to still be bluffing like the decision is difficult; so, it seems to me that the decision is tough, which means it's at least 50/50. The GM of the Blazers just doesn't seem like a nimrod to me. I think it's going to be tougher for him to pass on Durant than Oden, I just really believe that. Corollary: Durant is 8 - 1 on Sportsbook to go number 1 overall. Yes, I took that bet. Corollary 2: If your Bob Pritchard (Blazers GM) can you bet on that, maybe he's trying to get Oden's odds better and then bet on him?

For how little I've written on this blog recently, I've squawked about Durant way too much; so I'll make one final case. People have been saying that Oden is more of a "sure thing" than Durant. This claim is untrue. There have been two players in the past 5 years who I have claimed as "unbustable" entering the draft: LeBron James and Reggie Bush. These are guys who have had no chance at becoming below average players in their sport and have a huge chance at becoming all stars. Both LeBron and Reggie had a freakish athleticism, freakish skill and freakish experience. In addition to Reggie being, anecdotally, one of the fastest and shiftiest players I have ever seen on film; he also was a terriffic interior runner, great outside runner, dominant punt returner, dominant kick returner, and a hell of a nice guy who had spent 3 years against great competition in the national spotlight. And Reggie wasn't maybe as amazing as I thought he was going to be in his first year, but he was still a hell of a gamechanger; and still really has no chance to be merely average. LeBron James was a 6'9" 250 pound guard who could run faster than Braylon Edwards. He also happened to be a wickedly good passer, ballhandler and rebounder; and had been dealing with media attention and pressure since his freshman year of high school and didn't even have one really strange incident occur. Both guys could play about 4 different positions at a world class level, having a talent so immense that they could fail at a couple and still become All Pros. Durant is now the third player in that category that absolutely CANNOT BE AVERAGE!!! Durant is 6'9 with a 7' 5" wingspan. He can shoot open three pointers from up to 25 feet at a 40+ percent clip; he can score with either hand from the post; he is an absolutely ferocious and talented rebounder; he is phenomenal at recognizing the double team and Duncan-esque at passing out of it; he shoots 82% from the free throw line; he just averaged 26 points a game in 35 minutes with a point guard who cannot even pass or get him an easy look; he can defend the rim; he can hit mid-range floaters, bank shots, and hooks.

True, Durant does not have LeBron's size, speed, hops, or keen eye for assists. He is, however, already a more versatile scorer, better shooter, better defender, and better rebounder than LeBron was at his age.

That AND, the 3 basketball writers I trust on ESPN: Simmons, Hollinger, and Thorpe ALL have the Durantuala as the clear #1.

2) Seattle Supersonics - Greg Oden

Should be: Greg Oden/Kevin Durant

Easy pick for the Sonics to take whoever is leftover. A quick word about Oden: the guy will obviously be good and defending the rim is a vital component of the new NBA. It seems stupid to knock the next Alonzo Mourning, but that's who I think he will be. Duncan and Shaq were just better coming out of college than Oden is. And it's too bad he wasn't healthy this year to show what he really had. If he does become some sort of Tim Duncan/David Robinson amalgamation it will be something really cool to watch. Too bad for the Sonics who I believe have drafted three project centers in a row in Swift, Saer, and Petro . . .at least they'll finally get one that sticks. Either way, Seattle will still be a few years off from contention no matter who they get.

3) Atlanta Hawks - Al Horford

Should be: Al Horford

Chad Ford tells me the Hawks are taking him, and his guarantees are usually correct.

Horford or Conley, Conley or Horford. Despite Marvin Williams and Shelden Williams early in the draft, the Hawks still don't have a legit post-scorer; and it's easier to get a point guard than it is one of those. You gotta love Horford's all-around game. He's great at scoring down low, passing and knocking down the midrange jumper. A really safe bet.

4) Memphis Grizzlies - Mike Conley

Should be: Conley/Horford

Grizzlies are in a similar situation to the Sonics. Either the Hawks take Horford or Conley, and you take the other one. Memphis needs a point guard and power forward. By the way, their team isn't quite as dreadful as their record. They could run out Conley, Gay, M. Miller, H. Warrick, and Pau Gasol next year. Now, that's not a championship team; but if they can upgrade at Miller or Warrick's spot so one of them can come off the bench, and Gay progresses .. . they could be a tricky opponent.

5) Boston - Joakim Noah

Should be: Traded to the T-Wolves for KG. The T-Wolves would then select Jeff Green

If Boston is dumb enough to keep Jefferson instead of trading him for KG; they have to go with Noah so they can pair someone with Jefferson, who can't pass or play defense, with someone who can do both. A pretty nice find for the Celts, actually.

6) Milwaukee - Corey Brewer

Should be: Brewer/Conley/Wright/Green

Milwaukee is in a tough spot with this pick actually. All the no-brainers are off of the board. I really think Jeff Green should go here, and I would never draft for need this high - but they have Patterson, Simmons, and Villanueval who are all forwards in the Jeff Green mold. They do really need a guard, so I'll go with Brewery. I was wildly high on Brewer until I read Hollinger's column which has Corey ranked very low. But I'm much lower on Brandan Wright. . hate his motor.

7) Minnesota - Spencer Hawes
Should be: Jeff Green (or possibly Wright or Young)
Minnesota desperately needs some players in the front court, and McHale is just stupid enough to choose the player who has bust written all over him. Hawes is going to be a wretched center in the league. NEVER DRAFT A 7 FOOTER WHO COULD ONLY GET 6 REBOUNDS A GAME IN COLLEGE. HINT: THAT MEANS THEY ARE HORRIBLY ATHLETIC.

Assuming they trade KG, they will already have Green, and here would be a perfect time to take a gamble on Brandan Wright.

8) Charlotte - Brandan Wright/Jo Noah
Should take: Rodney Stuckey/Jo Noah

Wright isn't bad value here, even though some say he has been slipping. In most scenarios, Noah would be the guy here (if KG is trade for instance), but if he's not, they won't go for the big Chinese guy opting instead for a huge skilled forward to rinse the taste of that Adam Morrison pick out of their mouths. With Wright, May, and Okafor they have a lot of size and skill for the next 4 years.

9) Chicago - Yi Jianlin
Should take: Brandan Wright/Glen Davis

The Bulls have the luxury of taking a player like Yi and developing him because they are so loaded. At this point, they really can't use another guard with the Duhon, Hinrich, Gordon, Thabo backcourt so full, and their SF position is stocked up with Nocioni and Deng. But they still only have Wallace, Brown, and Thomas on the interior, and they could use a real gamechanger there. Here's the problem, Yi isn't a gamechanger. There is nothing worse than a 7 footer "who can shoot and handle the ball." WHO GIVES A SHIT!!! People think that these people will make good players because of the Duncan, Dirk, KG triumvirate, who have, in some ways revolutionized the 4/5 position. But here's the deal: those guys are great and it has nothing to do with their ablity to "shoot and handle the ball." Duncan is the best post player of our era; Dirk is a PHENOMENAL shooter - one of the best in the game. 90+ from the free throw line 45+ from beyond the arc, rebounds, and is a terriffic mid-range player; and KG's shooting ability and ballhandling ability would mean nothing if he wasn't an athletic freak, hypercompetitive, a great defender, and an absolute beast on the glass. No one cares about a 7 footer who is an average shooter, ballhandler and rebounder cause you know what you have - Donyell Marshall who is 3 inches taller. (This, by the way, is Chad Ford's biggest flaw as an evaluator on ESPN. He overrates any tall guy that can shoot open jumpers and is athletic. The number one thing you need to evaluate any tall guy on is - 1) can he rebound, 2) can he score inside. Only a guy like Dirk can transcend that because he is a freakishly good shooter; and he only became a top 5 player when he 1) started scoring inside and 2) rebounding like a madman.)

If Brandan Wright or Joakim Noah were here, they would take him. But, if not, it should be Glen Davis, and all of Chicago should thank Kevin McHale for taking Spencer Hawes too early. Davis is a much better prospect as he is a big guy that actually, you know, REBOUNDS THE GODDAMN BASKETBALL AND CAN ACTUALLY PASS FROM THE POST. It baffles me that he is not considered a surefire first rounder. I'm really hoping he slips to the Heat at 20.
Granted, they've been bitten by the weight bug before with Michael Sweetney, but pairing Davis with his old college teammate, Tyrus Thomas really helps out their front court.

There's the first 9.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

PLAYS . . . OF . . . THE WEEK

Hello sports fans . . . a few thoughts from the last ten days or so

1. To update the AL and NL MVP Races thus far: A-Rod has taken over the AL MVP from Vlad Guerrero - that might be a tight one to watch.

Chase Utley is still the hands-down leader in the NL. Really, no one is close.

2. I wrote a whole diary about game 3 of the Spurs - Cavs playoff game and didn't post it because I thought it blew. So, here it is:

Well, being that the first half of these finals have blown: I decided to just do a running diary of the second half. Pardon the Central time.

9:32PM We have a Marc Jackson breakdown of Tony Parker abusing the Cavs yet again. Will say that Parker has really impressed me. The thing I don’t get it is how little credit Parker is getting for this. They keep complaining about Larry Hughes or Gibson or Brown. Parker has been dynamite.

9:33 Cavs ball: Oh the Big Z hits a 20 footer to tie it.. Does anoyne else call him the Big Z?

9:34 - Parker just effortlessly drills a 12 footer. When is Brown going to double Parker off those picks?

9:36: Wow, doesn’t Live Free or Die Hard look like shit? And the Macintosh kid is in it? Is there any way this works? AND ITS PG-13?! No way. No way am I seeing this.

9:38 - LeBron turns the ball over again. Wow, is he overmatched in this series. It really looks like he decides whether he’s going to pass or shoot with 22 seconds left in the clock. 44 – 40 Cleveland.

9:40 – WOW!! What a sequence. Fabricio Oberto just makes the world’s slowest spin move to badly beat Illgauskas to the hoop for a reverse layup. But then, miraculously, the Big Z recovers to block the shot. NBA Fever!!! Catch it!

9:41 - Haha. A great new gimmick from Van Gundy – complaining about nice offensive plays by the Cavs. Gooden just pump fakes and drives in for a lay-up and Van Gundy complains about him not taking the open jumper! He did the same thing for Varejao when he made a play earlier.

9:48 – Game’s tied with 4:12 remaining. I can’t get a good beat on this half.

9:51 - Ginobili and LeBron have been absent from this game. One of them is having a big 4th quarter.

9:53 - Wow. Varejao just somehow takes a charge from behind Ginobili. Did that just happen? Varejao actually falls down from behind Manu on a move to the rim.

9:54 LeBron bricks another 3. He is clueless in this series – is he even going to make a defensive play for points in this series. One time in the first half, LeBron took Bowen down to the low post and spun for a layup. He hasn’t posted up AGAIN UNTIL THIS PLAY. And he waited for the double team and kicked it out for three, which missed.

9:55 - Oh wait.. Lebron scored from the low post? Really? NO SHIT LEBRON!! YOU’RE 6’9” 250 GODDAMN POUNDS WITH GUARD SKILLS. WHY AREN’T YOU ALWAYS IN THE POST?!?!?! I have said it before, and I’ll say it again, until LeBron feels comfortable in the post he won’t consistently be on the Kobe, Wade, Duncan level of offensive greatness.

10:00 - Haha. The Cavs take so many damn three pointers – it’s unbelievable. They are like crappy Duke. The thing that’s funny is its not like anyone has to kill themselves to get these open looks. The Spurs are willing to give up these looks cause they are all 38% shooters from there. Standard play from this half: Donyell Marshall stands unguarded at the three point line. LeBron spins into 3 Spurs and makes a jump pass to Marshall who is no more open than he was at the start of the possession. Marshall bricks. Meanwhile, the Spurs are making everything, because they know how to get the players to the right spots. Bowen only takes 3’s from the corner; Ginobili only from the wings; Parker from the top of the key (and rarely) and Finley from the corner or low wing. Just a huge gap here. You can tell the Spurs have played together for 5 years.

10:02 - Wow David Blaine. Wow. Just. Wow.

10:06 - LeBron with another turnover. Followed by a possession where Lebron passes up a wide open 20 footer to give Donyell Marshall a covered three-pointer. Obviously. Marshall clanks it. Brent Barry comes back and drills a wide open three 58 – 50 Spurs. This game is over.

10:08 - Another promo for Live Free or Die Hard.

10:09 – Shaq and fat kids!

10:10 – All right. 10:42 left in the game. The Cavs need to get the ball to the Big Z sometime soon.
10:12 – Nope. Instead LeBron takes a 3. Brick. And . . .then Gibson bricks a 3 after a Duncan turnover. I have never seen a team refuse to even try to get to the rim or the free throw line before. They haven’t had the ball below the free throw line in about 9 game minutes. Unbelievable.

10:11 Duncan drills a silky bank shot. He’s just the best. Sure he’s played with great teams and coaches his whole career, but he’s still never had anyone getting him easy baskets in his career. Neither Parker nor Ginobili have been assist guys.

10:12 LeBron hoop and harm!! 60-53. A drive to the hoop, actually!! We need to alert someone.

10:15 Yikes. . these Cleveland girls are pretty rough looking courtside. That’s really rare, I don’t care what city you’re in.

10:16 - Parker makes it 64- 57.

10:17 - 67 -57 Spurs.

10:20 - Dangit, looking forward to this new Kevin James – Adam Sandler movie. That’s upsetting.

10:23 - 67 – 63 after a hoop and harm from LeBron. He really needs to keep attacking. Instead, next possession he passes to Pavlovic, gets it back, passes it to Gooden. Jump Ball. What the hell is he thinking?

10:25 - Parker and James trade missed layups. 67 - 63 Spurs. The Spurs are now playing 8 feet off James. James bricks the three. They’re not even double-teaming him at this point.

10:31 - James with a big save to keep possession. He’s gotta turn this into points. LeBron comes back and draws the foul on Ginobili. Speaking of Ginobili – where has he been this game. 0 – 7 and he hasn’t even gotten to the rim. Who does he think he is, LeBron?

10:33 – The most intense possession of the game so far 67 – 65 Spurs. Great ball movement and great defense until Duncan draws a foul on Gooden.
Wow. Quick shot of the Jumbotron. The Cleveland Jumbotron had the Michigan logo on it to get the crowd riled up to boo Duncan. Cleveland is just the worst. Ohio State and LeBron fans. . .catch it. . .

10:35 – Wow. . Parker and Pavlovic exchange 3’s. 72 – 70 Spurs.

10:36 Cavs ball with 20 seconds left. .. HAHAHA. . .Varejao tried to put a move on DUNCAN with 16 seconds left!!!!!! Misses the finger roll!!!

10.4 seconds left Ginobili misses the first free throw. 3 point game with 10 seconds left.

10:37 - 10.4 left down 3. Wow. They actually make the right play. LeBron gets to the rim and scores it. An actual great play from Mike Brown. Ginobili is back on the line. The Spurs smartly actually leave Bowen and Duncan their to try to get an offensive rebound. I hate when teams take their players off the block. What the hell sense does that make?

10:39 - Van Gundy and Marc Jackson are discussing the foul vs no foul strategy with 5.5 seconds left. People feel very strongly about fouling. Me, I’d never foul here. I’d always try to play tough good defense. I’ve seen the attempted foul backfire way too many times. . . . so easy to get a continuation in the NBA too. . .

10:43 - !!!!Holy SHIT!!! BOWEN TRIES TO FOUL AND LEBRON PULLS UP!!!! AND THEY DON’T CALL IT!!! UNBELIEVABLE!!!! Van Gundy and Jackson both go on how the Spurs HAVE to foul here. The Spurs DO foul. LeBron recognizes it and pulls up from about 32 feet and doesn’t get the call. That’s nuts – really unbelievable – that whole sequence.

All right. That's over. A few thoughts on the series:

1) I had the Spurs all year as being the best team in the NBA. Granted, Spurs and Suns are pretty damn close; but the Spurs only play their best players 25 - 35 minutes a game in the regular season - they stay so fresh. That, and they only add role players. On any basketball team it takes a long time to mesh - usually at least a year if there are two stars joining up all of the sudden. The Spurs never need to add a star because they locked up the Big 3. Another corollary - really watch out for the Nuggets next year. Seriously.

2) All the conventional wisdom on who to surround LeBron with has been way off. Even Simmons and Hollinger, who I love, all said to surround LeBron with shooters. Well, that's what they did and it's been idiotic. They've added way too many one-dimensional pieces all because people still want LeBron to be this massive point guard. The point guard experiment failed, everyone. LeBron has to play closer to the rim and attack from the wing and he desperately needs a penetrating guard to play on his team. For this team to have a shot at the title - Gibson and Hughes have to get better and LeBron has to become a dominant post player. That's it.

3) Flopping should receive a technical foul. I can't be more serious about this. Even though, it is ten times worse in college basketball with that whole "feet set" bullshit.

4) The West is going to be absurd next year. It will be the biggest discrepancy in my lifetime with Durant and Oden being added. It really is a bummer, just because spurs, mavs, warriors, suns, nuggets, lakers, trailblazers, jazz, hornets, and sonics will ALL be great to watch next year. And in the East there will be a grand total of zero watchable regular season teams. Not one outside of Lebron, Wade or soon-to-be Kobe putting on a memorable performance.

3. More baseball: My fantasy team has been destroyed thanks to getting rid of Troy Glaus and Prince Fielder in favor of Todd Helton and Scott Rolen. Nice decision. No, really good decison.
The AL Central is ridiculous this season. The White Sox really aren't this bad, and they'll be good again next year - but they are worse than the Twins, Tigers, or Indians.
I just couldn't be more pleased with my decision to have Grady Sizemore play left field for me in my baseball dream team; although Beltran has really been eating the shit sandwich lately.

4. NBA Draft Big Board
1) Kevin Durant PF Texas
2) Greg Oden C OSU
3) Al Horford PF Florida
4) Jeff Green SF Georgetown
5) Corey Brewer SG Florida
6) Al Thornton PF BC
7) Mike Conley PG OSU
8) Joakim Noah C Florida
9) Nick Young SG USC
10) Yi China Center

There it is. Brandan Wright and Spencer Hawes are nowhere near this page. Hawes got 6.5 rebounds a damn game in college. If anyone takes Hawes over Noah they're going to regret it for the rest of their GM days. Hawes has low athleticism

This really is a wild draft. There is no one in this 10 who I see as not being able to start in two years with the exception of Yi whose risk might outweigh the reward, because he is actually an athletic center.

Be back soon. . .

Three Weeks Down

So three weeks are in the books (more or less) for my Egypt trip, marking (more or less) the halfway point of my time here. Culturally, things here continue to baffle and confuse me. Despite being told constantly that certain things are "normal cultural practices" here, I have a hard time not trusting my American instincts on certain things. Perhaps the best example is the Egyptian trend that we lovingly (derisively?) refer to as "The Manwalk." The manwalk is essentially two (or more, we have witnessed a three person manwalk) men walking down the street arm in arm as if they had been dating for many years. Apparently this is a common cultural practice in Egypt, and who am I to doubt that since the penalty for being a gay here in Egypt is death (that's not an exagerration). However, when I visited Alexandria last week, I couldn't help but have my doubts. First of all, the number of manwalks increases exponentially as the night goes on. You may see a few here and there during the daytime, but at night, LOOK OUT, because you are in a sea of manwalkers. Secondly, the number of men participating in manwalks who appear to be suffering from limp-wrist syndrome seems highly disproportionate compared to the rest of society. Third, why the hell were all these manwalks occurring along a gorgeous, romantic stretch of beach? Color me skeptical.

Alexandria was last weekend, and the day was supposed to start with a trip to the pyramids. Which I guess it did, for everyone not named me or Mike Menter. We had gone out the night before until about 4:30 AM? I don't know, that's a rough estimate. Truth is, we went to this bar Deal's, which seems to be the intensity capital of Zamalek (the island in Cairo that we're on), had about 7 or 8 Meister Max beers each (which weigh in at an OE High Gravity-esque 8% alcohol), and proceeded to go off the reservation. Next thing we know, we're in the casino at the Marriot, I win $100 in roulette in my first play at the table, and 30 minutes later I walk home, alone, without the original $100 I even started with, and don't remember any of it. This led to: a) Not making the trip to the pyramids and b) A hangover.

However, at 3 PM I rallied to make the trip to Alexandria. It was a nice city. Alexandria has an absolutely beautiful coastline along the Mediterranean and has some amazing architecture on its buildings. Our hotel, the Windsor Palace Hotel, resembled something that you would see on Ocean Drive in South Beach. The Alexandria Library was also breathtaking as well. All of these photos are on facebook so I won't bore you with descriptions. The highlights of the weekend were teaching our 28 year old Egyptian program assistant Ahmed various dirty phrases and sayings in English. For example: Queef, skeet, donkey show, etc. I think he likes us. Probably not. Our trip was capped off Sunday with a trip to an amazing resort along the beach that had a swim-up bar at the pool. After about 10 minutes on the Mediterranean we gave the sea the old Dwight Schrute treatment and moved poolside to enjoy the swim-up bar. I took over DJing behind the bar and soon Alexandria was well versed in the lyrical stylings of 50 Cent. Sadly, our bus had to depart at 3 PM otherwise I would've spent upwards of 15 hours drinking beer, smoking shisha, burning my skin, and bumping beats.

I guess I take classes too, I've skipped a few of them, and I still haven't read the night before a class yet. I guess I should get on that eventually, but going out to a shisha bar two doors down from your dorms or going to Deals aka Rick's All-American Cafe: Middle East is far too appealing.

Also, I've had diarrhea for two weeks. Seriously. Do not come here unless you enjoy shitting like I do.

This past weekend we went to St. Catherine's Monastery (the site of Moses' burning bush), Mt. Sinai (where Moses received the Ten Commandments), and Sharm el-Sheikh (where Moses may have received the clap). The bus ride to St. Catherine's was awful. The bus left at 2 AM Wednesday night/Thursday morning, so obviously I was drunk to start the trip, as were a handful of others. The trip took 9 hours. NINE HOURS. I cannot begin to describe to you how awful the leg room situation was on this bus. I know Egyptians are short but Jesus Christ this was bad. Eventually we got there, but St. Catherine's Monastery was less than impressive. Yes, it was cool to see the burning bush. No, the rest of the Monastery was not that sweet. There were some old gospels and shit that were there, but after a 9 hour bus ride, I honestly did not care that much. After that we did absolutely nothing, because this place is in the middle of fucking nowhere in the desert. Also, we had to prepare for another 2 AM trip, this time a hike up Mt. Sinai. In order to prep for this climb, I watched the final two episodes of the Sopranos.

Wow. Those final two episodes of the Sopranos were amazing. Yes, the final scene was abrupt. I agree, could've been done a little better. However, I didn't need closure on all the storylines. It would have been impossible for that to be done. You'd have had to kill nearly every character in the damn show for you to know exactly how things turned out. I don't think Tony was going to be killed at all, not with his family present. It leaves a little to the imagination, and that's fine by me. My only quibble is with Meadow. How fucking HUGE was that spot she was parallel parking into?! Jesus, Meadow. Also, how could anyone complain about that finale after we just watched a fucking MOB WAR breakout over the final two episodes. Are you kidding me?! Does it get any better than a mob war?! I was getting goosebumps all over the place during those final two episodes, especially during Leotardo's poetic (if not, comedic) death.

Anyway, so the trip up Mt. Sinai was probably one of the most physically exhausting things I've ever done in my entire life. An absolute endurance test, pain everywhere, but whatever, I made it to the top in about 100 minutes. Immediately upon reaching the summit I commanded that Phil break out his loudspeakers and iPod and that "Africa" by Toto be played for all to enjoy who had reached the peak. Pretty sure that's the first time anyone's ever done that, and if not, it's certainly the first time anyone's ever played "Welcome to Miami" by Will Smith on top of Mt. Sinai. The view was amazing, and we got to watch the sunrise over all of the surrounding mountains. After that, we had another hour or so trip down, at which point I realized I had no more cartilege left in my knees. Needless to say, I slammed 3 advil and passed out immediately after we got back.

Sharm el-Sheikh came next, and it was amazing. We stayed at the Marriot which had huge rooms and gorgeous pools. The Red Sea was phenomenonal (though saltier than day-old semen), and featured some pretty cool snorkling along the reefs with lots of exotic fish. Also featured: jellyfish by the thousands that don't sting. This led to a fun game of, "See who you can hit in the face with the most jellyfish." We were chastized by our program director and other caring souls (also see: pussies) for this, but it was just way too much fun. Also way too much fun? Getting free weed while we were in Sharm el-Sheikh. I'm not getting into the details, but yes it was shady. However, it was free, and it wasn't oregano, so fuck off.

Spent Friday night at this sick open-air club called "Pacha" just completely blazed face and drunk. There are A LOT, and I mean, A LOT of attractive girls in Sharm el-Sheikh. The hottest of all the Egyptians are there, and more importantly, Eastern European women on vacation. I spent about a half hour dancing with some British blonde, and something somewhere went wrong (note: she probably saw my face for the first time a half-hour in), and a couple of us left to go find the casino. Blacked as we were, we couldn't find it, and instead blazed more. This is pretty much how Saturday went as well. Red Sea, pool, blaze, food at the beach, blaze, drinks at the beach, blaze, rinse, repeat. All in all, a pretty sweet weekend.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

PLAYS. . . OF. . . THE WEEK!!!!!!!!

All right. Here is the beginning of regular posting.

A few comments:

1) Durant apparently tested very poorly at the NBA combine - 0 bench presses of 185 - smaller vert and slower than Oden. Blah, blah, blah. Did anyone not expect this? The misperception of Kevin Durant is that he is some sort of 6'10" athletic freak ala Kevin Garnett, Tracy McGrady, or Shawn Marion. What in the hell were you people watching? Oden is the physical freak. (Although KD did measure a freakish 7'4" wingspan.) Durant isn't nuts athletically but neither were Dirk Nowitzki, Scottie Pippen, or Larry Bird. Kevin Durant, is frankly one of the most skilled basketball players I've ever seen. His absolute basement as a player is less athletic/worst defensive, much better offensively Shawn Marion. His basement! (Can anyone help me out with a better comparison. Super super Tim Thomas maybe . . .maybe his basement is More talented, super-motivated Tim Thomas.)

2) Just beginning to buy the Oden hype. He really is going to be the best center in the NBA for 5 years. Just think about ALL the shitty 7 footers that have been drafted. Other than Yao, the only serviceable center to come out of the draft in the last 7 years is Chris Kaman, right? Al Jefferson could maybe play some center, but he can't guard anyone. Let me know if I'm wrong.

3) Wow, do I love baseball. Although, I swear to god the Yankees and the Red Sox play every weekend. I'm convinced of this. Every Sunday night game is Yankees-Sox. And you know what? I always watch it. Usually because the Red Sox always have an entertaining pitcher on the mound. I love good pitching and getting to watch Beckett, Schilling, Dice-K, and Wakefield is usually worth it.

4) Other pitchers that you should really mark down to watch him throw this year:

1) Danny Haren - this guy has more guts than any pitcher in the league. Only strikes out guys when he needs to, and will always have entertaining facial hair. He has been hands-down the AL Cy Young so far. He's a durable Roy Halladay.

2) Cole Hamels- long hair, laid back, but a totally huge power pitcher. A little inconsistent, but he's always the coolest guy in the ballpark. Always capable of a Pedro-like 9 inning 15 strikeout masterpiece.

3) Chris Young - if only because he is 6'10" and incredibly awkward but effective. Effortlessly throws the ball in the low 90s. Yet, is so effortless and big it takes him forever to get the ball to the plate ANYONE can steal on him. In 2006 he gave up 41 stolen bases on 42 attempts. This year I've seen Edmonds, Rolen, Preston Wilson, and So Taguchi steal off him. Always exciting.

5) This list will be updated: But, currently, this would be my uber baseball team:

1. SS Jose Reyes

2. 2B Chase Utley

3. 1B Pujols

4. RF Vlad Guerrero

5. CF Beltran

6. LF G. Sizemore

7. C R. Martin

8. 3B Aramis Ramirez

9. P J. Santana

SU: Papelbon

C: Nathan

Now the explanation. Feel free to skip this whole section.

1. I take Reyes narrowly over Hanley Ramirez and by a few more paces over Jeter and Renteria. Jeter and Renteria have both been smashing the ball this year. But, Renteria's days of an elite fielder are finished and Jeter has even been worse than his usual self at his position this year. He has zero range and this year he's making errors. Not much to choose from between Ramirez and Reyes, accept to say that while Ramirez is a good SB guy. Reyes is the best since Henderson at swiping a bag. I was watching a Mets game. They were tied with 2 outs bottom of the ninth. The opposing team throws a pitch-out, and Reyes still stole the bag! Still wondering where Reyes power is that he showed last year, though . . . Ramirez may overtake him. I actually didn't love Reyes leading off here, cause I like a guy who's going to get on base. But you can't have anyone in front of him to clog the paths up. And a quick hello to Adam Everett who has been the game's best defensive SS for about 5 years running.

2. Utley is far and away the game's best second baseman. A shout-out to Dan Uggla and Brian Roberts who are having very good years in their own right, but Uggla doesn't have the defense or average and Roberts is great on defense but has zero power. Should probably be batting further down in the order on this team. But I don't see much use in putting a basestealer on in front of Pujols or Vlad. You'd like them to hit whatever pitch they want.

3. Pujols is the best offensive, defensive, and baserunning 1B in the game. The game's best player hits in the three-hole. Obviously, Fielder and Lee have been outstanding this year as well.

4. Vladimir Guerrero has been the game's best player so far this year. Has to be included in any talk of the best outfielder of our era. Still has a cannon and is having his greatest season hitting this year. He'll be a perfect hitter behind Pujols because no pitcher EVER wants to throw to Guerrero - just too damn scary to face.

5. I believe Beltran is one of the game's best defensive CF at this point in his career and also one of the best on offense.

6. Sizemore gets the call in Left. Sure he's a CF in real life, but this is my ueber team, and he'd make a hell of a left fielder. A solid gamer, and could jumpstart the offense by stealing a bag or two right after the power guys are through.

7. Catcher was the toughest call to make. Mauer has been banged up and hasn't developed quite as much power so far as I expected him too. But he's probably still the choice if he had been healthy. Don't love McCann or Posada's defense and I HATE V-Mart's D. So I'll go with Russel Martin who's healthy and would swipe 20 bags for my team.

8. I'm sorry, A-Rod is just too awkward and too weird to put on my team. That and he can't play defense, and he can't celebrate a home run. Rolen, as usual, isn't living up to his potential for the 10th consecutive year, and I LOVE Cabrera as a hitter, but he would have to play outfield for me because he has zero range. I hate Aramis Ramirez, but in the 8th spot all I really want is a lot of pop, and Aramis has as much pop as anyone. And, sadly, his defense has gone from god-awful to slightly above average. But, David Wright, A-Rod, or Cabrera would all make fine choices. It seems like 3B is turning into 1B. You just put a big bomber there and hope he makes up for his defense with his offense.

9. I have to go Santana. He hasn't been great this year. But in about 4 weeks, he'll turn it on and win 10 straight with a 1.03 ERA. It happens every year. I don't like passing up on Peavy or Haren here -who have been dominant. But I have to go with track record. And even though he hasn't been phenomenal so far. He's still been easily top 10 in the league.

SU and C: Papelbon and Nathan have assumed the role of game's best closers. I like Papelbon to get a tough strikeout with men on in the 7th and Nathan to have a clean slate in the 9th. It's that simple. Mo Rivera has finally dropped off completely. Something isn't cutting, because I see guys hang around for 10 pitches against him. That NEVER used to happen. Hell of a career for a guy who only had one pitch. I will say I've never seen Al Reyes pitch. Statistically, he looks impressive though considering his division.

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Sunday, June 03, 2007

First Nights in Egypt

So the first few nights in Egypt are in the book, and I must say, I am VERY impressed with the city's night life so far. People are out until all hours of the morning. Some of them don't drink obviously (because of Allah or pigs or something), but everyone is out late and a lot of the people here do seem to get after it. First of all, EVERYONE smokes. Everyone. Cigarettes and hookah (shishah), and they do it everywhere. Hookah, like everything else here is absurdly cheap. It's basically $1 per person for a hookah, much like it costs me about $1.50 to eat breakfast and lunch everyday. I should buy a car here or something. Or a woman. Whichever's cheaper I guess.

The first night out, on Friday, we went to a gorgeous restaurant on the Nile called Sequoia. Open air bar, beautiful out, bumpin' some soulful beats (including a techno remix of Kelis' "Milkshake"), right on top of the Nile. I'm pretty confident in saying it's the coolest bar/restaurant I've ever been too. The place was very loungy, but it wasn't the kind of place you would expect people from NJ Guido to want to go to, so that was nice. There appeared to be only a few of us getting after it (me and Menter obviously among them), and after smoking some shishah and downing some of the local beer "Stella" (no, not Stella Artois), we headed out looking for bars. Sadly, me and Menter had no idea how to get anywhere and we ended up walking about a mile to this place Bora Bora which may have been nice if the guy didn't make us pay 50 pounds ($9) minimum that couldn't be applied towards booze, then refused to let us out of the minimum after we told him there was some confusion and that we'd just pay for our beers and leave. Egyptians do not abide by the motto, "The customer is always right" apparently. They also don't abide by the motto, "Always use deodorant" or "Be less stupid." Anyway, we eventually came back and I passed out with my laptop on my chest.

Saturday, like today, we had orientation at the school. Whatever. Boring ass shit. They gave us cell phones though and if you want to call me in Egypt (fine by me, you may have to pay a decent buck though) or probably text me which won't be expensive, you have to dial 011-20-184250207. Yeah, I dont get it either.

Also, the campus is absolutely gorgeous, I posted some photos of it on facebook, but it is wide open, green, and is perfect for chilling, reading, and ripping mad butts.

Saturday night a bunch of us went for dinner and drinks at this bar/restaurant near the dorms called Don Quichotte. Yeah, they spelled it wrong. Place was kind of lame, as we should've expected, but it was a nice atmosphere, just nothing you wouldn't see all over the place in the states and hence, disappointing. After that though, was anything but a disappointment.

We then took a cab to the Hotel Marriot, which, by the way, is a fucking palace. Seriously, I think it qualifies as a palace. It's enormous. It also has a casino which thankfully we didn't get to last night. However, out back is this HUGE outdoor area of bar/restaurants. We immediately ordered 3 shishas and 8% Meister beer. Needless to say, I got after it. The place was huge, full of Christmas lights, and even had two Egyptians singing with a band and a belly dancer. We thought it was awesome. Also awesome is spending 5 hours drinking and smoking hookah, getting the bill, and realizing you only have to pay $25. God Egypt is awesome.

Also, apparently I may or may not have knocked over some empty bottles with the hookah, and I may or may not have passed out with my laptop on my chest again

I've got to run now though, I need to read for my classes tomorrow before I go out again tonight. Met some random undergrad chicks staying in the dorm on the bus back today and plan on getting after it with them. Check out the photos on facebook if you're interested. Holler.

Friday, June 01, 2007

In Egypt

So I arrived in Egypt safely. Somewhat worse for the wear. It took about 26 hours of travel time, and a mind-boggingly annoying layover in Rome. Let me say this: Italian people are idiots. Also, apparently it is just fine for people in security lines in Italy to cut you if they feel their need to get to their flight is more pressing. This is not something that went over all too well with people (myself included). I cannot even imagine someone trying to pull this kind of shit in American airport. Punches would be thrown. Also, Italians are short and slow. And greasy.

The trip itself wasn't that bad, I got to watch movies on demand on the flight from Newark to Rome thanks to Alitalia. I watched Blood Diamond (amazing) and Stranger than Fiction (also awesome) with Will Ferrell. However, my trip was not marked by any sleep, and since I didn't finish packing until 5:30 AM of the day my trip left. I arrived on Thursday at 4:30 PM having slept approximately 4.5 hours over the past two days.

The airport was fairly hectic, but not nearly as much as the roadways. New York cabbies have NOTHING on the drivers here. The roads are 3 lanes, but the cars drive 5 wide. It's truly an amazing sight. None of us could survive on the roads here, or smell nearly as bad as these cab drivers. Our cab driver made it back to the dorm in about 1/3 of the time it would have taken me. Needless to say, I was impressed, and I committed my first sexual act of the trip on him: a polite hand job.

The architecture is fairly impressive here. Everything is very crowded, and the buildings are all enormous, but they are all aesthetically pleasing (for the most part.) The area around the Nile is beautiful, and me and Menter discovered a few outside bars while walking around this morning that we may hit up tonight.

Still haven't seen much of Cairo, once we got to the dorms and setup shop, Menter and I passed out for about 12-13 hours. Our dorm room is huge though, I'm very pleased. The short stocky Egyptian man who showed us up who smelled like an old shoe also showed great social tact by questioning Menter about his lack of hair. Menter failed to similarly question his foe's lack of deodorant.

So far we've mainly just walked around the dorm area. I picked up a new digital camera (pictures will soon follow) and we finally picked up power plug converters at Radio Shack (yes they have Radio Shack's here). We noticed some semi-swanky looking outdoor bars right along the Nile that had American club-like names (Bora Bora, Sway) that we may check out later. In the meantime we went to some uninteresting cafe along one of the streets that borders the Nile to get some local food and smoke some hookah (called Shisha here). Good times. Apparently everybody here smokes, and you can do it pretty much anywhere. Kind of like Chicago, except not at all.

Downsides: Smelly people, poors, and apparently you can be hung for doing drugs (this is a theory we may test, but a sign at the airport seemed pretty explicit about it).