Just a bit outside

Winning with Shawn Marion

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Shawn Marion is said to have chosen to suit up for America’s team, and since he’ll be doing it starting in late October, it goes without saying he’s not making Team USA. 

Marion may be part of something bigger, because all things considered, an NBA ring holds more sway, in any language, than a FIBA World Cup gold medal.

The veteran small forward will join the Cleveland Cavaliers, in what appears to be a short-term deal for the veteran’s minimum, the kind of extra perks a franchise gets when it signs LeBron James. 

There will be, as always, some skepticism. Marion will be 37 sometime next season, his 16th year in the NBA, in a game and league unkind to the elderly, despite a run of success from guys like Kevin Garnett, Steve Nash and Paul Pierce sometime between the past two seasons. Pushing 40 isn’t a hindrance, and for that very reason, Ray Allen could come back. Like Marion, he’ll likely sign with Cleveland at some point between today and the completion of the Kevin Love-for-Andrew Wiggins deal. 

There is no backtracking on Cleveland’s second blockbuster move now, in the league’s worst kept secret. It’s happening. Wiggins will play for the Wolves, Love will suit up for the Cavaliers and Anthony Bennett will end up with the Sixers. 

Cavs GM David Griffin and owner Dan Gilbert have been second-guessed since acquiring Love on a handshake* about two weeks ago, even though the consensus on Wiggins’ ceiling is as polarizing as it is high.  

*The league put a month-long moratorium on any trades involving Wiggins after the first overall pick officially signed with the Cleveland Cavaliers, as part of the new CBA.

The Cavs simply don’t know how fast Wiggins will evolve into a championship-ready rotation regular, though it’s all but certain that he won’t be that guy in his first year in the league. Or at all. Wiggins will be a defensive phenom as soon as he arrives, and though his shooting struggle is as overblown as Love’s defensive shortcomings, there remains an element of truth to that. 

Among Cavaliers fans, the win-now approach comes with paranoia — did their team just trade Kobe Bryant for Vlade Divac a particularly gnawing concern. 

Brace for the outcome later. For Cleveland there’s no better time than now. 

James is creeping into his 30s, Kyrie Irving is coming into his own and Dion Waiters is already an above-average scorer. Love, who’s leaning towards signing an extension with Cleveland, ranked third in Player Efficiency Rating last season, and mimics the stretch four advantages Chris Bosh had given the Heat while playing beside James.

James’ homecoming is fueled just as much by pragmatism as it is by sentimental attachments. While there’s no reason to believe he’ll renege on a promise to stay for the long haul, there’s also a sense that time is close to running out.

It’s no coincidence that the Cavaliers went hard after Marion. Wiggins is often compared to The Matrix. Except Marion is a better shooter right now — yes, despite sporting the league’s ugliest form. He has championship experience and is a grizzled playoff performer. Though he stopped being an elite perimeter defender, Marion has a better feel for the pro game’s physical nature. He’s more or less what the Cavaliers wanted out of Wiggins. Marion will likely get worst before getting better, but he won’t demand the ball on offense. On the occasion that he finds himself having to take a shot, such opportunities will come from 18 feet out. At this point he’s better at converting those than a 19-year-old rookie. 

Cleveland gets a pass for being shortsighted. It’s hard to regret losing a special talent like Wiggins when the league’s best player is already playing on your team. 

David Price received a video tribute and standing ovation in his return to the Trop for the first time since the Tampa Bay Rays traded him to the Detroit Tigers on the non-waiver trade deadline.

David Price received a video tribute and standing ovation in his return to the Trop for the first time since the Tampa Bay Rays traded him to the Detroit Tigers on the non-waiver trade deadline.

The Clippers’ No.1 cheerleader was welcomed to Los Angeles Tuesday at Dodgers Stadium by Magic Johson, the Dodgers co-owner who unwittingly played a part in Donald Sterling’s removal from the NBA.
It’s magic.  

The Clippers’ No.1 cheerleader was welcomed to Los Angeles Tuesday at Dodgers Stadium by Magic Johson, the Dodgers co-owner who unwittingly played a part in Donald Sterling’s removal from the NBA.

It’s magic.  

That’s how you tag runners out at first base — definitively, with conviction and without reservations. 

That’s how you tag runners out at first base — definitively, with conviction and without reservations. 

Show off. 

Show off. 

CyleTherapy
Rockies 1B Michael Cuddyer’s two RBI double in the eighth inning made him the seventh Rockies player to hit for a cycle,
Cuddyer got the hardest extra-base hit out of the way in the first inning, scorching a triple off Reds standby Dylan Axelrod. After striking out in the third, Cuddyer smashed with a home run off Axelrod in the sixth. 

CyleTherapy

Rockies 1B Michael Cuddyer’s two RBI double in the eighth inning made him the seventh Rockies player to hit for a cycle,

Cuddyer got the hardest extra-base hit out of the way in the first inning, scorching a triple off Reds standby Dylan Axelrod. After striking out in the third, Cuddyer smashed with a home run off Axelrod in the sixth. 

Boo, Jordan Danks. BOO!

Dude. Guess who’s this generation’s Bruce Lee. 

Fuck yo couch and basketball, bitch. 

Jeremy Lin’s bigger than basketball, and has a cool ass statue of him, a temple really, of all things Lin and BD Asian, in Taiwan. 

Baby you made it. 

This is what Shaq meant by little bitty town. As soon as Lin became a Laker, they started erecting altars on sacred ground in his name. 

To high to care about cool

The Most Heart-Warming Record in Baseball, a PR spin on Gyorko’s Padres milestone

I don’t get all the mockery the San Diego Padres’ Jedd Gyorko has reaped after breaking a franchise record in his sophomore year of play. 

In a sad season that can’t be saved by the league’s best offense since the all star break, the Padres clung to a sliver of good news when homegrown slugger Gyorko broke the all time career home run record for a Padres second baseman. 

Gyorko hadn’t done much to temper that mockery — he needed to hit career No. 31 to break a record no one thought of unraveling from the glut of stats surrounding baseball. 

But shit, that’s pretty impressive for Gyorko, even though it’s pretty sad for the Padres. 

In an injury-plagued season mirroring the power and contact of Dan Uggla, Gyorko has become part of the team’s problem. Remember that Gyorko took the hometown discount after a solid rookie campaign in 2013. It’s currently looking like another bad move for a snake-bitten team which has spent its limited budget wisely, but ended up with parts made in Papua New Guinea. 

Or something to that effect. Cameron Maybin, Josh Johsnon, Gyorko, Yonder Alonso, Yasmani Grandal and Andrew Cashner all came to the team based on solid decision-making, but Josh Byrnes was still fired because anything that went wrong, well, went wrong. 

The Padres weren’t expecting much out of Maybin, but rewarded him when he finally met his expectations and started hitting. He was Exhibit A when the Brewers extended Carlos Gomez, because sometimes Five Tool Players mean Jack of All Trades, Master of None. That typically means you keep him around until he starts costing money. Instead the Padres made sure to keep him around for when he regressed to the mean. 

Johnson signed for cheaper than what a pitcher of his caliber would fetch, but he also came with questionable health. Still, it was a gamble, and a return to the NL, and playing home games in a big stadium, would have mitigated some of that risk. It was also a one-year deal big market clubs typically shrug off. Johnson never pitched a game for the Padres before hitting the DL. 

Grandal and Alonso should have adequately answered for Mat Latos, himself good when healthy. So the Reds get in the postseason that one year Latos was healthy and the Padres suffered through a weaker version of James Loney at first base and a roids user at catcher. And when Alonso started hitting for power, he’s out for the year. 

And the rotation fell apart, quick-trigger extensions for guys like Corey Luebke not panning out as well. 

Holding on to Chase Headley for too long had the right intentions behind it — but they basically gave him away for free, as a rental, for the MLB equivalent of Pedro Ciriaco. 

Gyorko’s about the only thing going right for the Padres, and he’s hitting a buck, ninety-nine, and around 40 percent worse than the regular second baseman. That’s not a high bar to begin with, and Gyorko can’t even clear it. 

There’s been flashes though, if you tend to pay attention to baseball in two-week increments. And for crying out loud, he’s 25, playing out of position, coming off injury, just had a kid … and so on and so forth. Careers aren’t linear. He hit 20-some home runs that one time. There’s a higher chance he’d hit 20 home runs again, than for Chicago’s Javier Baez for example, to do it again, for the simple reason that he’s done it before. In a big park. And he’s pretty big. 

Thing is, three years ago Gyorko had the same hype as Chicago’s Kris Bryant, and Baez. Just a load of awesome power. Big body types. Tore up minor league pitching. We’ll see. Gyorko never had Bryant’s bat control, and his hands aren’t as fast as Baez’s, who in fairness perhaps has the quickest hands in the Majors right now. 

Gyorko broke a sad record when you think in terms of Adam Everett owning Houston’s all-time homer record for shortstops. He’s got three more jacks than Gyorko. So, you know. Sad. 

Before Gyorko there was a Home Depot lineup — old versions of the O-Dog Orlando Hudson and close-to-40 David Eckstein, short-term patchworks that got San Diego what they paid for. Before Eckstein, they had the declining Tadahito Iguchi. Before that the Giles Brothers reunion tour went more sour than the Uptons in Atlanta. Another short-term outcome. They traded Kevin Kouzmanoff, but Josh Barfield wasn’t as good as his dad. 

Gyorko’s career and franchise milestone should be a sign of better things to come. He’s locked for long-term, and has as much of a ceiling and more minor league pedigree than the clowns the mid-market Padres have been forced to trudge out, for lack of money and draft day luck at the position. I mean, they haven’t existed for 150 years so calm down. 

All may not be well, and ultimately it’s a hilariously Padres headline, the punchline that just keeps giving. 

They just hired a new guy. He’s so good at exploiting the Latin American market that he got suspended for it. But hey, the Texas Rangers have had two World Series runs, and should be solid again next season. A.J. Preller could end up making the right decisions. He’s just like the fired Josh Byrnes, but with a better track record for pitching. Ideally the Padres are on the right track. But the same was true when Kevin Towers and his successor Jed Hoyer and then Byrnes. 

If you need reminding, Hoyer’s time was uplifting but short. He however left a welt-sized stamp of his own when he traded 1B Anthony Rizzo to the Chicago Cubs for the then-oft hurt Andrew Cashner. 

So yeah. Guess who’s the All Star. 

Through all that shit, Gyorko’s milestone is the majors’ most uplifting records. Even in his down year he accomplished something. He could be good again next year, and the year after that. He doesn’t cost $240 million and isn’t signed for the next 10 years. He’s at least entering his prime, which is something no Padres second baseman has said since Barfield messed up his audition. 

Oh well. 

Celebrate.