It is great to be back writing about sports and inserting my commentary to the world,let’s go for it!
Our first Odds & Ends in 16 months starts with the story of San Diego Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr.’s hitting a grand slam in a game against the Texas Rangers on Monday night when he missed a take sign on a 3-0 count. At the time,the Padres were ahead in the game 10-3 in the eighth inning,leading some to cry foul over an unwritten rule being broken that you shouldn’t pad your lead in a game like that.
Following the grand slam, the Rangers’ Ian Gibaut threw at the next batter,Manny Machado,an act that netted Rangers manager Chris Woodward a game’s suspension,which was served Tuesday and Gibaut was dealt a three game ban.
I personally don’t believe Tatis did anything wrong. The guy got a good pitch to hit on a count that’s benefitting him anyway and he swung on it and his team scored four runs as a result. If you want to stop this guy from doing something like that, do yourself a favor and strike him out. Also, don’t cry about a 14-4 lead when, in 2007, your very same franchise beat the Baltimore Orioles in a game by a score of 30-3. You guys certainly cared nothing about unwritten rules about gamesmanship at that time, so why do we care now? The San Francisco Giants got smoked 15-3 against the Oakland A’s on Sunday, were they crying about unwritten rules about gamesmanship? No! They took their losses like men and moved on to the next game and series. The Rangers need to either prevent a beatdown like that from happening or take it like professionals and try and do better the next time.
Now that Vlade Divac is no longer in the Sacramento Kings’ front office,the search is on to find a new general manager and the search could lead them to someone who was involved with The Process. Yes,that process!
Sachin Gupta,currently the vice president of basketball for the Minnesota Timberwolves, was the second in command under Sam Hinkie during their time with the Philadelphia 76ers when they went through their “Process” rebuild,which saw the team lose games over and over with subpar talent from the then D-League and nabbing of several first round picks to use for the future of the team.
There are other candidates of note,such as Trajan Langdon and Brent Barry,both former players,but Gupta is one that caught my eye regarding the team being reportedly interested.
Here’s why I am cautious about having someone from that era overseeing the Kings: this team has not made the playoffs in 15 years, fans are not very patient about it anymore and if they choose to tear down again and try to rebuild, you’re not going to have fans left who will sit through it. They’ve suffered enough with this team being bad year after year after year and want to see results and see them sooner rather than later. They have good pieces in De’ Aaron Fox and Bogdan Bogdanovic and Harrison Barnes and they have to find players who can fit a system built for success. One has to wonder if once a new GM is found that Luke Walton’s days may be numbered. There a lot of fans who hope that’s the case.
Following the Toronto Raptors winning the NBA title, general manager Masai Ujiri was accused of shoving an Alameda County sheriff’s deputy out of the way in order to get to the court and celebrate with his team. Upon hearing that news at the end of that season, I found the story very hard to believe on account that if something like that did happen, a television camera would’ve been there to catch it.
Over a year later, my suspicions were proven correct as that did not happen initially and that it was the other way around for Ujiri.
Video was released Tuesday shot from a body camera on Alan Strickland, an Alameda County sheriff’s deputy, as part of a countersuit filed by Ujiri’s attorneys. Strickland is shown on the video shoving Ujiri and telling him to “back the fuck up” as Ujiri tired to gain access to the court after the Raptors’ Game 6 win at Oracle Arena, the former home of the Warriors. Ujiri was shoved twice before he shoved back in self defense. Strickland has sued Ujiri, alleging assault of a law enforcement official.
Ujiri had this to say in a written statement on Thursday:
“The video sadly demonstrates how horribly I was treated by a law enforcement officer last year in the midst of my team, the Toronto Raptors, winning its first world championship. It was an exhilarating moment of achievement for our organization, for our players, for our city, for our country, and for me personally, given my long-tenured professional journey in the NBA,” Ujiri said.
“Yet, unfortunately, I was reminded in that moment that despite all of my hard work and success, there are some people, including those who are supposed to protect us, who will always and only see me as something that is unworthy of respectful engagement. And there’s only one indisputable reason why that is the case — because I am Black.
“What saddens me most about this ordeal is that the only reason why I am getting the justice I deserve in this moment is because of my success. Because I’m the President of a NBA team, I had access to resources that ensured I could demand and fight for my justice. So many of my brothers and sisters haven’t had, don’t have, and won’t have the same access to resources that assured my justice. And that’s why Black Lives Matter.”
I am absolutely glad Ujiri is getting justice for what happened to him in what should have been a moment of joy and excitement that turned out instead to be a haunting moment in his life. What I hope happens now is that Strickland gets charged for his false accusations and loses his job. He clearly saw an opportunity to be an instigator and then claim to be the victim for whatever gain he could get at the expense of an NBA executive. I’m glad everyone got to see what really happened and that Ujiri is vindicated.
Finally, I want to talk about the NBA and NHL bubbles and how both are peaking my interest in the sports again. While I haven’t lost interest at all with the NHL, the NBA has not been on the forefront of my mind much the last few years because I am a Sacramento Kings fan and they haven’t been relevant since I was 24 years old and weighed 175 pounds. However, with the neutral sites these teams in both leagues are playing in, it’s starting to become exciting again. Why? Because I have a feeling that teams in both leagues that we may not expect to win usually just may win a championship.
Think about it, in the NBA, huge favorites like the Lakers and Bucks would be
feeding off of their home crowds and be up in their series at press time. However, the Trail Blazers upset the Lakers in Game 1 and the Magic boatraced the Bucks in their first meeting. Both series are tied at a game a piece. I think not having those home crowds,or any crowds at all may affect the teams that are favored. It would not surprise me if I saw a team like the Dallas Mavericks or Denver Nuggets sneaking in there and winning it all. It actually may be more fun to watch because they shouldn’t be there.
Meanwhile in the NHL, while I don’t think having a home ice advantage is as meaningful, not having crowds in attendance could be part of why teams like the St. Louis Blues and Washington Capitals are exiting the bubbles of Edmonton and Toronto,respectively. Before these series were announced after the qualifiers, did anyone have the Canucks or Islanders advancing? Probably not (although I did think the Canucks would upset the Blues). While it’s true that any upset can happen anytime with crowds or without, neutral site or not, it’s especially true now. I can’t wait to see what happens next. That’s the beauty and perhaps the most fun thing about the postseason.
That’s it for this edition of Odds & Ends, I am not sure when the next one will be,but I am sure it will be sooner than 16 months from now.