Thursday, May 26, 2005

Off to Venezuela

I'll be gone for a week or so of wild vacation, sipping cocktails on the beach. I know I will be missing the Spurs advancing to the Finals, but it looks like they will sweep the Suns anyway. Maybe I can find ESPN Desportes over there... See ya!

A night for the ages

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I still can't believe what I witnessed last night. In the Champions League Final, the European equivalent to the Super Bowl, only with the difference that this time really the entire world is watching, we might have seen the most exciting final ever! After being up 3-0 at halftime against Liverpool FC, Italian side AC Milan looked like sure winners and Liverpool was dead. Then came the most incredible six minutes of football of all time. First captain Steven Gerrard put a header in the back of the net in the 54th minute. Two minutes later, Vladimir Smicer torched the net with a shot from 20 yards. Milan was stunned. Four minutes later, the 60th minute, Gattuso fouled Gerrard on a break away, the ref immediately pointed to the penalty spot. Xabi Alonso's kick was saved by Goalie Dida, but he snatched the rebound and hammered it under the crossbar. Tied ballgame! This was an more epic choke than the of the Yankees against the Redsox last fall. After the tie both teams failed to score again, with Andriy Shevchenko having a DEAD ON chance two minutes before overtime expired. Adding insult to injury, he was the one who missed the crucial penalty in the shootout afterwards.

This night still will be talked about in 40 years.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

State of the Blog Q2/05

After committing to Transparency International I'll be publishing the actual numbers of my lil' blog:

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Today marks the quarterly anniversary of Raise The Game. After a slow start things started really to kick in after I concentrated more on sports-related blogging. But don't worry, I'll be covering the other aspects of life from time to time.
The best weekend was from 04/15 - 04/16 when we had a total of 73 visitors, with Saturday setting the record of 47 (That was right after I posted those cheerleader pictures. Go figure!). The total of visitors is 637 with 800 page views. Top country are the United States with 37.8% of all visitors (my main target audience) closely followed by Germany at 34.9%. The U.K. finishes third at 11.5% (Thanks Sheena!). A distant fourth is Canada at 3.1% and then Brunei and Singapore follow. I'm so huge in Asia, I heard they'll be naming a large market square after me... The other nations don't qualify because of insignificant numbers, you all have work a little more harder!!

Closing out, my thanks go out to you, my faithful readership! Thank You! The next quarterly report will follow in September...

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Playoff Picks, Conference Finals

Yep, now it's down to the Final Four almost everyone has expected! Let me quickly recap my picks of the Semifinals: (as usual, the actual result in brackets)

DAL PHO 2-4 (2-4)
SEA SAS 1-4 (2-4)
WAS MIA 1-4 (0-4)
IND DET 2-4 (2-4)

Once again I predicted the winner of every series correctly and nailed two series! That improves my record to 12-0, including 7 Slam Dunks. In the First Round I missed three series by only one game, in the second one two. That gives me a margin of error of only five!

Sorry for Mark from Sports etc. and of course the entire Mavericks organization and fans, but I knew you would fall short against Phoenix. I think they missed Van Horn more than some may realize. And I hate to admit it, but Dirk was just awful during the entire playoffs. He displayed leadership by calling out Eric Dampier (Did you notice how even Shaq made fun on his expense?), but who was there to call him out? Well, let's see what Marc Cuban will do during this offseason. and oh, by the way: What the hell was Jason Terry doing on that last play that led to Nash's tying Three? It sure wasn't playing defense....

Alright, it's time for the picks.

San Antonio Spurs VS Phoenix Suns (4-2)
I expected this Conference Final the entire season! Now it's there and I have a real good feeling about the Spurs' chances! After the impressive displays against Denver and Seattle they can be very confident heading into this series. And Manu is just playing out of his mind! I have to acquire his jersey as a tribute to his outstanding play asap! The Spurs had no problem handling the Suns during the regular season (When Timmy was playing), the proved that they can stop their frantic play. And remember how Tony Parker owned Steve Nash in the Conference Finals two years ago? Steve's D hasn't improved and that MVP won't help him chase Tony, Beno and Manu, so expect huge outings by them!

Detroit Pistons VS Miami Heat (3-4)
In my cocky way I once said, that I don't care who we (the Spurs) win our 3rd title against. I still don't but wouldn't it be fun to show Shaq how we do? I don't know, but I still don't like him. Probably because in my mind I still regard him as a Laker. And this is Wade's team, he carries it. That whole "Shaq was snubbed of the MVP-debate" is moot imho.
But on the other hand, I would like to see the Spurs win the title against the defending Champion because that would show the doubters who was the true champ last year (But thanks to Derek Fisher we had freakin' Chauncey "Journeyman" Billups win the Finals MVP). Did you know he's the only Finals MVP not to make the Allstar Game the following season? Because of Flash I'm picking Miami in seven but if Shaq doesn't gets healthy, Detroit will take it in six.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Cream of the Crop

Congratulations to Dirk Nowitzki, who became the first European player in league annals to earn a spot on the All-NBA first team. He's also the first player to be voted among the top five players in the league without attending an American university or high school. Quite some accomplishment...

The All-NBA Teams for this year:

1st:

2nd:

3rd:

What's your number?

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Note: You can NEVER get enough of Eva.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Join the force!

Don't worry, I'm not asking you to join the military. I hear many young people are not so excited about the prospect of getting killed in Iraq. Nevertheless I support our troops and pray fo the Boys (and some Girls) to come home ASAP! Today I am informing you about joining the Grass Roots Supports Groups in San Antonio for MLS Soccer. The Support Group has it's own website. You can also join the discussion at the Big Soccer Forums to learn more about the possibillites of support.

Too bad the Spurs blew the fourth game against Seattle. Tim Duncan put up a helluva performance but his teammates didn't support him tonight. So we gotta do this in six games now. Whatever... I'm hoping the Mavericks will be able to give the Suns another seven-game series, so they will be tired once they face the Spurs in the Conference Finals.

I have noticed a stream of visitors from Germany lately. Wondering where they are coming from... ;-) Once again: LOST RULES.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Check Yo'Self

"It's amusing from him. Sometimes you get caught up in the atmosphere of playoffs and you start mouthing off. It shows that some guys are satisfied with a temporary victory and want to speak as if it's been going on the whole series.''

Bruce Bowen about Jermome James.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Award Season

In this entry I will give my take on the various annual Awards given out by the NBA. All of the votes are done by selected members of the media.

Steve Nash - Most Valuable Player



He would have gotten my vote too. Shaquille O'Neal finished second and there were many voices that he should have won MVP. But you should ask yourself this question: Before the season, after the Shaq-Trade you knew Miami would become better, plus they got Dwyane Wade, who in my opinion carries the team. But would you have expected for Phoenix to go from 17 wins to over 60 with the Nash-acquisition? So Nash deservedly won. BUT if the Suns lose this series against Dallas, expect the media to demand him to give the award back. ;-) Here are the top-three vote getters of the official results:

1. Steve Nash 1066
2. Shaqille O'Neal 1032
3. Dirk Nowitzki 349




Ben Wallace - Defensive Player of the Year



I wasn't happy about this one. I absolutely respect Ben Wallace and admire his game, but I felt Bruce Bowen of the San Antonio Spurs deserved this one! Last year they gave the award to another perimeter defender - Ron Artest - so I knew Bruce's chances were low. Have in mind that Bowen has made the last four All-Defensive teams! Wallace has won three ot of the last four times and he has been the dominating inside defender in this league.

1. Ben Wallace 339
2. Bruce Bowen 247
3. Marcus Camby 168


Emeka Okafor - Rookie of the Year



You could see this one coming, especially after the results of the Sixth Man Award. It was impressive that Okafor put up double-double numbers in the new Charlotte franchise and they got more wins than anyone ever expected! After seeing Okafor at the Olympic tournament, I wasn't really sure if he was ready for the NBA, but he did really well! Ben Gordon has had an sensational year with all those crazy fourth-quarter performances and game-winning shots, but the voters tend to favor the big men. And he won this other award, which I will cover soon...

1. Emeka Okafor 514
2. Ben Gordon 443
3. Dwight Howard 161


Ben Gordon - Sixth Man of the Year



Talking about a closer! He's had so many 20 point fourth-quarter performances, I think he even set a new record! This vote was no doubt! Ricky Davis and Jerry Stackhouse contributed nicely from the bench, but nothing tops Gordons impact. Too bad he disappeared in the playoffs! I would like to see Lil' Earl Boykins win this award one day. You just have to love the little guy (5"10) repeatedly punishing the big dogs out there! I couldn't root for him during the Spurs-Nuggets series, but now I'm back into the Boykins-Supporters club!

1. Ben Gordon 513
2. Ricky Davis 257
3. Earl Boykins 155


Bobby Simmons - Most Improved Player



I can't say too much about this one because I honestly don't know a lot about the Clippers. They are never on TV, nobody talks about them and they never make the playoffs. In fact, I don't think anybody would be disappointed if they just got dismantled. From what I hear, he deserved the award. Of course Dwayne Wades, LeBron James and Amaré Stoudemires stats improved a lot, but don't you expect this from high-drafted rookies & sophomores every year?

1. Bobby Simmons 383
2. Dwyane Wade 129
3. Tayshaun Prince 107


Mike D'Antoni - Coach of the Year



Good choice. He engineered the third largest turnaround in NBA history this season, guiding the Suns to a club record-tying 62 wins, a remarkable 33-game improvement over last season's disappointing 29-53 record. I kinda tended to Rick Carlisle, who's achievements have been just amazing, after losing key players for long stretches.

1. Mike D'Antoni 326
2. Rick Carlisle 241
3. Nate McMillan 234


Alright, I'm getting tired already. Let's bring this to an end...


Eric Snow - J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award

*yawn* The NBA didn't even bother to release an official picture of this historic event.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Shut up crybaby!

So we got Ray Allen whining about Bruce Bowens defense again: "We've all seen what he does out there on the basketball floor. It's the way he rides me the whole way down the floor. It's possible that's the reason (for the injury). That was the second time I went to the hole and both times he was grabbing me ... The second time, I twisted my ankle.''



If you are too stupid to stand on your own two feet, switch to wheelchair basketball!!

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Playoffs Picks, Conference Semis

Finally I am able to make this entry! I have been wanting to post my picks all week but had to push this column back every time certain series advanced to another game. First I will recap my First Round picks: (the actual result in brackets)

MEM PHO 1-4 (0-4)
DEN SAS 2-4 (1-4)
SAC SEA 2-4 (1-4)
HOU DAL 3-4 (3-4)
NJN MIA 0-4 (0-4)

PHI DET 0-4 (0-4)
IND BOS 4-3 (4-3)
WAS CHI 4-2 (4-2)

My entire pick of the Eastern Conference was a slam dunk! Damn, shoulda put in some money in Vegas... And of course my insticts were right about the Houston - Dallas series. I just knew it would happen, with the history of Mavs 7-Gamers. In three other series I was only one game shy of the perfect score. So my overall record for the First Round is: 8-0, including 5 series nailed.

On to the picks for the Conference Semifinals:

Dallas Mavericks VS Phoenix Suns (2-4)
Sorry Dallas, but you just can't hang with Phonix for more than six games. The fun thing to watch will be, that Mark Cuban will get blasted in the media for every single field goal, assist, rebound and clutch play MVP Steve Nash will do. And it's not even Cubans fault, because I think Nash wouldn't have had the same terrific season had he stayed in Dallas. Sometimes a change of scenery can work wonders. I also expect Dirk Nowitzki to have a fairly better series than against the Rockets. It just hurt to watch him struggle in every single game, missing shots he hit blindfolded in the Regular Season. But he was huge on the defensive end in the crucial Game 7. But the true MVP of that series was Jason Terry, his 3-Point shooting was just out of this world! If the Mavs are able to win their first two home games we might have an interesting series but I think Phoenix will steal Game 6 on the road.

Seattle Supersonics VS San Antonio Spurs (1-4)
Actually I was more set on a 2-4, but after the impressive maner the Spurs kind of swept the Nuggets I don't expect them to give up more than one game to Seattle. Right now I'm really confident and see good things happening to them when they advance deeper into the postseason. I didn't say much about the Spurs on this blog after their wins because there wasn't much to be said about their fabolous play. Man was Manu Ginobili huge!

Washington Wizards VS Miami Heat (1-4)
There was one funny moment after the Wizs won Game 6 against Chicago: They unveiled t-shirts celebrating their advancement to the 2nd Round and they read something like Round 2: Beat the Heat. I have never seen a team celebrate the 2nd Round that much! But I understand their enthusiam, this is a franchise that hasn't won shit in the last 20 years. Still I'm not really sure if they can steal one game from the Heat, but maybe Shaq und Flash will have an off day once. I don't know why everyone in Miami is so pissed about Shaq not winning MVP. I am convinced the true MVP of this team is Dwyane Wade! He really carries the team in crunch time and plays with the heart of a warrior.

Indiana Pacers VS Detroit Pistons (2-4)
This is the post-brawl matchup everyone has been waiting for. Somehow it was gift-night at Raise The Game so I'm giving the Pacers two games, I just don't know right now how they will win them. Detroit manhandled them last year in the playoffs (Remember that Tayshaun block?). The way Indiana fought against Boston impressed me, especially that blowout in Game 7. Still Detroit has the better end of this.

In summary you will see, that my picks are setting up the Conference Finals everyone has been waiting for the entire year: Phoenix vs. San Antonio and Detroit vs. Miami. Really sort of a Final Four Tournament, the four best teams of the year battling out the championship.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Desperate Spur

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Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Offside

Why do I have a bad feeling about this? "KENS 5 has learned the hype in City Hall surrounding a Major League Soccer team coming to town is not getting the same response at the ticket office. (...) Sources say that so far, only 42 have been snatched up. (...) "I will say that doubled in one day, so that's a good reply, because as of Monday, it was 24," Mayor Ed Garza said." Talking about a promising start to a campagin, that has to sell 5,000 tix in 100 days....

Poor Malik Rose: The SAPD reports that thieves have stolen jewelry worth more than $200,000 from the former Spurs players home last week, including his two Championship rings from the years '99 and '03. Don't expect the burglars to be so stupid and try to pawn them!

There has been some talk that Bill Parcells might extend his coaching stint in Dallas after his contract expires. Sounds good to me...

I am waiting for the first round of the playoffs to finally end! I'm eager to post my picks for the conference semis, but want to wait until all matchups are completed. I expect the Spurs to finish off the Nuggets tonight. I think the Mavericks will have to wait until Game 7, just as I predicted back in April. Their 3-0 run has been very impressive, after they were almost dead after losing both of the first two games at home. And Dirk Nowitzki hasn't even had one stellar performance yet! So stay tuned for the upcoming picks-column and a review of the Award Season, after the MVP has been announced.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

MLS Soccer gettin' started

Alright, so the campaign for San Antonio to get it’s MLS team has begun. They have until Aug. 17th to get 5,000 season tickets. Word about a potential owner has been circulating in the media, the strongest candidate is a business man from New York. Ticket prices range from $240 over $600 to $800 and if you wanna go big, get yourself a luxury suite in the Alamodome for $8,400. It’s not ideal that season tickets for the club and lover level will be only sold in pairs, so if you are a antisocial loner or have a family with an uneven number of kids, you might have some trouble. Maybe you should invite a friend to join in. What’s really bothering me is the way the Major League Soccer project has been greeted in the towns media! The anti-soccer front has been lead by the San Antonio Express News and WOAI, including other networks/newspapers/radio stations. I don’t think I have read ONE article handling this in a positive way, welcoming soccer to town. What’s up with all this negativity? Okay, one point they are criticizing is the lopsided deal MLS got for the Alamodome. They will get it rent-free for 20 years and also a huge percentage of all revenues generated by other events in the venue. I know a thing or two about business deals, so I do know MLS is getting the better end of this deal and if I were an MLS laywer, I’d be feeling that I happily screwed over the other party. But still they should be happy to get another major sport franchise into town.

Some still feel that S. A. could land a NFL franchise, as former Spurs’ and Minnesota Vikings owner Red McCombs has promised several years ago. That’s why they even built the Alamodome but the city lost out to other markets during the NFL expansion. And these people should realise that the NFL will never come to town! Neither the MLB or the NHL (And Hockey's got their own issues to deal with). So why not embrace soccer? There’s certainly an audience for it in town, just think about the Hispanic community and the Indoor and Youth Soccer community, which make for a large number. Any soccer fans living in the greater SA area, up to San Marcos or Austin, even down to “The Valley” should get tickets!

But well, the nay-sayers have their platform and will make themselves heard. I haven’t seen anything like a support group working their spin, but maybe the Mayor will get something done. We’ll see how this works out. I wouldn’t be surprised if San Antonians pass the required minimum with flying colors…

If you want to order your season tickets, go to www.mls-sanantonio.com

Monday, May 02, 2005

Dick Laurent is dead.

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