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The Baseball Roundup (6/10/15)

June 10, 2015

Been getting lots of comments and questions via email. Love it. The last two Roundups have been largely inspired by the resulting dialogue… If you have thoughts, speak up!

Without much further ado: basketball, baseball, and bad puns…

Law Dog:

Just got off night shift here in Danbury, Connecticut and decided to shoot you guys an email. Literally have spent an hour and a half watching replays of the CAVS. Absolutely speechless. In what universe does Delladevova score 20 points, hits that insane circus plus one bank and send Lebron that awesome alley-oop. You got Mike Miller laying out to save a ball back to Delle. A hell of a last two games.

I got to thinking though. Has there ever been a better time to be a fan from Ohio. Think of the top sports that Ohioans care about, Browns, Indians, Cavs and Buckeyes. You can argue Reds and Bengals but I feel that is a very small minority. Out of those four teams you have the Buckeyes who won the National Championship with their third string quarterback, and possibly the making of an on paper mediocre Cavs team, with Love and Kyrie out, beating possibly a NBA team who you could argue is in the top five for greatest team ever. Can you think of two incredible sports stories happening so close in time and geographic location?

The only ones I can think of that are close in terms of magnitude is the Miracle on Ice and the 2004 Red Sox coming back from down three games to beat the Yankees. Obviously those two events were played decades apart.

Are we not witnessing two incredible sports stories unfolding within six months that should only come around maybe every few decades?

Maybe I am just sleep deprived.

Tony:

First, I love your use of “Delladevova.” Rich.

I don’t think the Buckeye national championship is on the level of the Miracle on Ice (you could argue it was more incredible because they won the tourney, Team USA didn’t; but, I’m inclined to say that the Miracle was a bigger upset. The Buckeyes win was more a testament to Urban Meyer and how little national rankings mean than it was an incredibly improbable upset). For one thing, the Bucks were only +170 in Vegas before that game…

I’m also not willing to call this GS team a top 5 all time. I know they are tied for the 6th best record ever, but by that metric, they aren’t top 5 (they are tied for 6th), and even if you restrict you pool of contenders to teams that match or beat that record, they are not top 5.

Inline image 1

The 1996 Bulls were better, so were the 1997 Bulls (does that count as a second or do we call that the same “team?”), the 72 Lakers had Jerry West and Wilt and dominated, the 2000 LA Lakers were prime Shaq-Kobe (I’d like to see Draymond defend prime Shaq), the 1992 Bulls (that can’t be grouped, lot of personal turnover between then and 1996), and the 1986 Celtics.

If you admit that this is a bad way to limit the pool because it includes the 2007 Mavs who didn’t make it out of the first round and because winning regular season games means little (see: 2009 Cavs), you have the 2013 Heat, which I would pick over the Warriors because Lebron (and Wade and Bosh…), the 2009 Lakers with prime Kobe-Pau, and every Pop coached Spurs team… Also the 1998 Bulls (that count with 96 and 97?). I haven’t even touched the 1989 Pistons.

I’m sure by some algorithm they are better, probably their Elo rating is through the roof, but I sure don’t care in basketball. Stats don’t rule this game – it’s too small and personal. People rule it: Bird, Pop, Jordan, LBJ, Magic, etc.

What I think we are seeing is a) Lebron is a Jordan level force, b) we forgot the regular season means zilch, c) the MVP is a really hilarious award. And yes, 4) that even at the pro-level sometimes a team can will itself to victory and take down Goliath (again… hasn’t happened yet…).

I will also dispute your Ohio major teams. I’m pretty sure the Bengals are bigger than the Browns statewide. Same goes for the Reds. Tribe and Browns are north/northeast teams. Cavs are likely statewide though. And we know the state loves the Bucks.

Still, the point remains, and I think it’s a good one. It is great to be a Cleveland fan right now: the Urban Dynasty is in motion, Lebron is making this dream real (maybe… let’s not jinx? What if David Lee emerged to take this back for GS…), the Tribe pitching staff is sick and locked up through 2020, and the Browns are at least not the worst team in the NFL.

I will point out, however, be have had awesome runs like this before. See: 2007… Cavs were in the finals with Lebron (against the Spurs), the Ohio State basketball team made it to the NCAA championship, the football team made it to the BCS championship, the Tribe should have won the AL Championship with a 3 – 1 lead going into game 5. Of course NONE of those worked out. And, the Cavs are still favorite to lose this series, in which case only 1 team will have won anything…

I guess I’m saying “don’t count your chickens” and also, yes, sometimes geographical areas go on runs (2007 northeast Ohio). One of the best examples would be Boston/Mass in  the 2000s – the Red Sox have won several, the Pats are the team of the millennium, the Celtics had a run with the big 3 (that team was prolly better than GS…), and the Bruins won the NHL title… Oh yeah, and their MLS team was in the finals 4 times… Crazy.

Finally, I will say YES! to your last line. We are witnessing 2 incredible sports stories. The Buckeyes run was incredible and will/should have a 30 for 30 someday. And Bron coming back to Cleveland to win a ship, whether it is this year, or next is the best sports story of all time. Period. It’s biblical – a mix of the Prodigal Son returned and Jesus Christ. So in that sense, you are SPOT on.

Really sad I’m missing this stuff live. As LCD Soundstyem might say, “Paris, I love you, but you’re bringing me down.”

Since we are talking about the Cavs… One of the most interesting thing about the finals to me (since I can’t watch the games), is thinking about the Kevin Love soap opera. It’s interesting that both teams in the finals were suitors for his service. I don’t think anyone would have expected that the team leading in the finals would be the team that landed him, except that they would be doing it without him…

Zach Lowe addressed just this topic on Grantland this week. It’s an excellent article.

Some interesting questions/what-ifs. Saunders made it clear that the Warriors would have to send Klay for KLove, but a possible alternative package would have included David Lee, Harrison Barnes, and Draymond Green. Even without Love’s injury, it sure seems like that trade would have stopped the Warriors from having the year they did. So, what if #1 is, would they be in the finals with Love and without Draymond and Harrison? What if #2 is, would you even trade Draymond Green for Kevin Love right now, straight up? Andrew Bogut says “no,” in a hilarious comment that really knocks the Cavs:

“Thankfully, we didn’t pull the trigger… I don’t know if that trade would have gotten us to this point. I didn’t think it would be a huge upgrade. David Lee provides the same output, besides the 3-point shooting. I thought we could have just found a stretch 4 at the veteran’s minimum — someone like James Jones.”

Zach Lowe goes as far as to ask a bigger question re: Green – Love:

Is Draymond Green just flat-out better than Kevin Love? Ask a dozen team officials today and you’ll get a dozen answers: yes, no, maybe, perhaps if he improves his jumper (his biggest offseason project), and a lot of stammering about roster context. But no one thinks that question is nuts, and that alone is kind of nuts.

His conclusion is spot on, and a little sad for Cavs fans:

Green might be able to approximate Love’s value, but only if he’s on a team with at least one ball-dominant star. Green could never serve as the fulcrum of an above-average NBA offense, the way Love did tap-dancing around the elbow for Rick Adelman’s limited and injury-riddled Minnesota teams. But slot Green on a team with one or two stars who create shots, and the things he does become more valuable.

Love’s value slides along the opposite trajectory. Cleveland has LeBron and Kyrie Irving to create shots, and Love can’t recalibrate by ramping up his defense and enabling the Cavaliers to switch across the board. Love talked big about improving his defense this season, but all the bad habits were still there — the lazy slouches into transition, the ground-bound indifference at the rim. The Cavaliers didn’t need him to make the Finals, and they have defended better without him.

That’s not to say I wish they never would have pulled the trade. Tough to play that kind of what if game. Because of their performance with the Big 3, the Cavs went out and got Moz, JR, and Shump and I think that’s really fueled this push, plus KLove coming was part of the whole Bron return, so I don’t want to rethink any of that. But, IF Tristan is going to demand a big payday, and IF he is more valuable to the Cavs than Love (I suspect he is), then this gets tricky… Do you think Gilbert is willing to pay all the taxes and penalties to pay a Big 4? I suspect he will and David Griffin’s desire to keep Love is well reasoned: “we were the best team in the league with the Big Three healthy. We want to be that juggernaut again. We want to be a more talented version of this group of gritty overachievers.” Cleveland walloped opponents by 15 points per 100 possessions when Love, LeBron, and Thompson shared the floor.

The “grit” plan is likely not sustainable for an entire season. Kyrie is a fragile flower, Bron is getting old, Thibbs and the Bulls are a warning against “gritting” it out all season, and Matty Dellavedova had to be hospitalized with cramps he played so hard to guard Steph. We need to save the nights he has to do that…

Another topic before I discuss America’s National Pastime…

Ask the Maester, on Grantland, supplies some answers to two things we were discussing about Thrones:

1) Drogon was at risk, but won’t always be: “As dragons age, their scales become thicker and stronger, growing more resistant to damage and flame.”
2) Jorah was, in fact, touching Daenerys:

Inline image 5

But, “it’s fair to assume that it takes at least direct contact with a sufferer’s scaly region to cause transmission, not contact with an unaffected limb or body part. Jorah is careful to offer Dany the hand that’s attached to the non-fucked-up arm and his rash is covered by his leather bracers. Is that enough? Probably. In the books, a character by the name of Jon Connington fraternizes with lots of people in close quarters while wearing gloves that hide a growing gray patch. None of his compatriots have, as of yet, come down with the disease.”

I don’t know if this totally satisfies me since Shireen (RIP) got hers from putting her cheek to a Dornish doll… My suggestion to Jorah would be, “my dude, you’re willing to go all Maximus to show D how much you love her and be in her life. IF that’s your level or dedication, maybe keep your hands off altogether.”

On to baseball.

The Reds beat the Phillies 11 – 2 thanks to Joey Votto’s 3 home runs. Votto now has 13 home runs on the season and is hitting .300 with 35 RBIs. 2 of Joey’s last 3 years have been marred by injury, but boy can this guy hit:

Inline image 3

Look at those on base percentages!

Chicago beat the Astros 4 – 2 but Carlos Correa hit his first career home run off of Zach Duke in the losing effort. He also had a stolen base. Dude is man of the hour right now, stealing all the headlines from Bryce Harper this month. I’m a little shocked people are surprised he was “rushed” to the bigs, he is certainly better than the alternative (Marwin Gonzalez and Jonathan Villar), even if he continues the recent trend and doesn’t deliver much power from the short stop position (though I get the feeling he will).

Luis Valbuena was 0/4 and is now hitting .180… That’s so low I’m worried he won’t make it past the all-star break to challenge Kris Bryant for our board bet about homers. Astros are not shy about calling up talent if they think it will outperform what they have. Not hard to outperform .180. Dallas Keuchal got his second loss of the season, allowing 9 base runners in 7 innings, and striking out 5. Rookie Carlos Rendon pitched 6 innings of shutout ball for the White Sox, allowing only 6 base runners. Last year’s 3rd overall pick has now strung together 4 nice starts. Sox certainly don’t worry about hurrying them up to the leagues. They are like the anti-Indians.

A closer look at Dallas Keuchal is up on fangraphs. Things to note: dude is a legitimate gold-glover, he is the anti-Lester (runners are just 3/6 on stolen base attempts over the last 300ish innings), and he induced super weak contact. I bring this up because a) look at all the places a pitcher can save runs, and b) this is another suggestion that we take the ability to induce week contact (ahem… the Twins) seriously.

As for the White Sox ace, he is bucking the two-pitch trend, delivering death by diversity. Only he, Kluber, and Harvey have 3 pitches that they have thrown over 100 times this year and who strikeout at least 15% of their batters faced. You can read the details about how he can vary his kill pitch. It’s gory and great. Here are some visuals:

Sale using a fastball for a strikeout on Monday:

Inline image 4

Sale using a slider for a strikeout on Monday:

sale-slider

Sale using a changeup for a strikeout on Monday:

sale-changeup

Speaking of the Tribe and Kluber Lang, they lost to the Mariners last night, 2 – 3. Yan Gomes was the bright spot for the Tribe. He went 2/4 with 2 home runs. It’s the first power he has displayed since the knee injury. Kluber was pretty darn good again for the Tribe, allowing only 2 runs in 7 innings. He had an unusually low number of strikeouts (only 4), so clearly he didn’t have his best stuff. Maybe he forgot to bring his wiffle ball to work?

How crazy is it that Kluber has a 3 – 7 record. COME ON TRIBE. What a waste.

On Saturday the Indians will face Justin Verlander in his first start of the season. This year’s stint on the DL was the first Verlander has ever experienced in the MLB. Talk about durability. Verlander struck out nine in 5 2/3 innings on Saturday in a 93-pitch minor league rehabilitation start with the Toledo Mud Hens. Will be interested to see if he can come back and be dominant, or if the 2014 Verlander is now what we can expect. 11 seasons is a lot of pitching, especially when he threw over 200 innings in the last 8.

Continuing with the AL Central… The Royals beat the Twins 2 – 0. Freaking Chris Young took a no hitter into the 7th. When Young gave up a triple to Plouffe, Yost immediately pulled him because he has a cheat-code-bullpen to play with. Can’t blame him.

The Royals are 33 – 23 on the season and the Twins are 33 – 25. How high is that on the list of “headlines you would never expect to see in 2015” just 2 or 3 years ago… I’ll be following game three of the series to see if Moser’s BOY Edinson Volquez can beat my guy, Kyle Gibson to complete the sweep.

By the way, if this year’s All-Star voting had ended on Monday, seven of the nine members of the American League’s starting lineup would be Royals. WHAT!? This is CLEARLY the result of ballot stuffing! THE VOTING IS CORRUPT! I know it’s just the All-Star game, but how hard is it to look into this? Meanwhile, if you want to let an already disappointing event get worse, this is the way to do it… LOOK WHAT IS ABOUT TO HAPPEN:

Kansas City players occupy two of the three starting spots in the outfield voting, with Alex Rios, who has spent most of the first half on the disabled list, in fourth. Mike Trout, the one current starter who unquestionably deserves to be there, isn’t even the top vote getter among outfielders, trailing the Royals’ Lorenzo Cain by more than a half-million votes. WHAT!? LOL. Have Lorenzo on the squad, so not to caste shade, but… IT’S MIKE TROUT!

This would also mean that guys like Nelson Cruz (who also trails Kendrys Morales in DH voting), Adam Jones, and Yoenis Cespedes won’t get voted in. I can kind of live with this, because the AL OF is producing weak sauce this year, but elsewhere it’s a crime!

Kipnis not getting in over Omar Infante!? (Though, note, Jose Altuve is currently leading, thank God…)

Omar Infante, Royals (2,650,416)
Season Stats: .216/.225/.301, 0 HR, 17 RBIs, 0 SB, 45 OPS+, 0.0 bWAR
Jason Kipnis, Indians (1,104,667)
Season Stats: .338/.414/.518, 5 HR, 27 RBIs, 8 SB, 160 OPS+, 3.7 bWAR

Josh Donaldson, the potential MVP favorite, being stuck behind Moustakas?

Mike Moustakas, Royals (4,046,726)
Season Stats: .322/.373/.465, 5 HR, 18 RBIs, 134 OPS+, 2.5 bWAR
Josh Donaldson, Blue Jays (2,329,742)
Season Stats: .310/.367/.582, 16 HR, 43 RBIs, 163 OPS+, 3.5 bWAR

Miggy behind Hosmer?

Eric Hosmer, Royals (3,551,005)
Season Stats: .306/.378/.490, 7 HR, 35 RBIs, 142 OPS+, 1.7 bWAR
Miguel Cabrera, Tigers (2,933,108)
Season Stats: .320/.427/.558, 12 HR, 38 RBIs, 173 OPS+, 2.4 bWAR

That’s too much.

Anyway… Chris Young was not the pitcher of the night. That honor goes to rookie Chris Heston who led the Giants to victory by no-hitting the Mets. It was 2015’s first no-hitter, but frankly I think it was overshadowed… by Heston’s hitting! Guy had 2 RBIs AND THAT’S NOT ALL! He didn’t walk a Met, but he hit 3 of them! That’s more hit batters in a no-hitter than anyone else since 1914. This was also only the 3rd no-hit, no-walk game since 1914. If you aren’t going to throw a perfect game, hitting guys is the way to avoid it. What a G.

Via the PITCHf/x data at Brooks Baseball, Heston threw 68 sinkers with an average velocity of 90.6 mph and a high of 92.4, plus 36 curves and eight changeups. Seven of his 11 swings and misses came via the curve, five of them for strike three. Of his six strikeouts looking, five came via the sinker.

This was the 17th no-hitter in Giants history, and the fourth in as many seasons. Matt Cain threw a perfect game against the Astros in 2012, while Tim Lincecum no-hit the Padres in both 2013 and ’14.

Rob Neyer points out just how lucky it seems the Giants get. Heston, allegedly, doesn’t have one “plus” pitch and was placed on waivers by the G-Men just two years ago! Luck is right.

Another rookie pitcher, Taylor Jungmann also pitched well, leading the Brewers past the Pirates 4 – 1. Jungmann gave up one run on three hits, striking out five against just one walk. Starling Marte’s 12th home run in the second was the only mistake by Jungmann. Marte, who had a slow start, is looking like all the 5 tool player we expected.

Jungmann has one odd delivery:

Think that will lead to some early success as batters have to adjust.

The Angels beat the Reds 8 – 2. Pujols hit a dinger, tying Mickey Mantle on the all time list. Pujols also broke a tie for 15th place with George Brett by getting his 1,120th extra-base hit, a leadoff double in the third.

The Blue Jays beat the Marlins 4 – 3. Edwin Encarnacion hit a game winning homer in the 9th. Giancarlo Stanton hit two solo home runs for the Marlins, who lost for the third time in four games. Stanton leads the majors with 21 homers and 51 RBIs. Wait, WHAT!? We were too busy talking about Bryce Harper for the last month, I forgot to notice. How about this….

Stanton is having the WORST SEASON OF HIS CAREER... dun dun dun…. Kid is such a freak. He seems to really get overshadowed by Bryce and Mike, but dude is up there…

Some great videos capturing Stanton at Coors, Venditte, and the resurgent Rangers.

I hope you get to the Cards. My boy Mike Wacha had a disappointing loss. I’ll end with my other boy, Scherzer. Max didn’t get any help from Ian Desmond, whose error in the 7th ended Scherzer’s night, but he wasn’t his usually unhittable self. He gave up 4 in 6 2/3 innings, allowing 9 baserunners while striking out only 7. Bryce Harper hit his 20th home run for the Nationals, who have lost nine of 11. That’s a rough streak for the pre-season World Series favorites. The Yankees’ won their 7th straight, their longest winning streak since 2012. Anthony Rendon was 0/4. I hurt.

Beyond Bryce and Giancarlo, we seem to talk about pitching a lot, even noting that the strike zone has widened, and that offensive baseball may continue to recede for a bit as these young studs dominate even more. Tom Verducci is not so ready to proclaim offense is dead, in fact he foresees the “return to offense”:

On the same day last week that Joey Gallo, 21, hit a home run in his major league debut, Giancarlo Stanton (25), Mike Trout (23) and Joc Pederson (23) also homered. Meanwhile, Bryce Harper, 22, continued to lead the majors in home runs, and people still were talking about the 477-foot homer Kris Bryant, 22, smashed off the newly-installed Jumbotron at Wrigley Field on May 26.

Say hello—and thank goodness they’re finally here—to what just might be the greatest group of young sluggers in almost 60 years. I don’t know about you, but I’m fine if they re-write the All-Star Home Run Derby rules this year and make it a 25-and-under event. Nolan Arenado (24), Mookie Betts (22), Wilmer Flores (23),Maikel Franco (22) and Manny Machado (22) can fill out the field.

Trout is so good Socia bats him 2nd. Haha, didn’t expect that, eh? Read the article and tell me what you think. Where would you bat trout? Tradition is endangered again!

I’ll end with a quick tip of the cap to Manny-be-Manny Ramirez:

“Yo, dap me up before I double up this runner, bro.”

Kevin:

Titled: Dr. Finals- Or How I learned to stop worrying and love the Deli

I can’t fully describe how ecstatic I am to be back in Cleveland. As a recent Ohio transplant to Texas, I loved the weather, loved the city of Houston, loved the music.  But being back in Cleveland for the NBA finals with the Cavs having a chance to win the title has been magical. I told my friend Tom repeatedly last night that this felt like I was experiencing a sports movie. A cheesy, unbelievable, good versus evil, edge of your seats, cliched sports movie. And the real life sports movie experience is better thus far than any film I’ve seen.

I’ve seen you guys can shoot but there’s more to the game than shooting. There’s fundamentals and defense.

Coach Norman Dale, Hoosiers

These were the words he gave to his players at an early season practice. He reminded them that defense wins ball games. Shooters gonna shoot, and offense is beautiful, but when a team can grind it out, they can do miraculous things. The team that Hoosiers was originally based off played abhorrent basketball. They took advantage of the lack of a shot clock, held on to the ball for minutes at a time, and won games in the single digits. This is the Cavaliers strategy. They have employed a muck it up offense, driven almost solely by isolation plays, and LeBron James. Defensively, Dellavedova continues to be a pest. Sidenotes on Deli..

I have always hated Matthew Dellavedova. For a number of different reasons. I’m always quite inclined to hate any white basketball players. They drive the level of doosh through the roof. They are all about ‘hustle, grit, grind, thinking a step ahead.’ None of those are fun to watch, and typically they’re only used as adjectives because the player sucks, and it’s pointless to continue to point out someone is a step to slow and can’t hit the ocean from a boat. I’ve hated the way Deli defends full court while seemingly doing jumping jacks. I hate the way Deli dives around. I hate that he looks like a 15 year old. I hate that he plays the way that guy you hate in pickup basketball plays. You know the guy…the guy that calls next solo, then picks up 4 studs to play with him on Saturday at the gym. He continues to rule the court for the next 8 hours off of the skill of his more talented teammates, and his ‘gutsiness, grit, grind, enthusiasm, and hustle.’ He’s the guy diving for loose balls, recklessly hitting people’s limbs. He’s the guy that always hustles on the opposing team’s fastbreaks to get the sneaky foul or swipe the ball out of bounds, because they assumed the layup was uncontested. He’s the guy that randomly plays full court press, and gets a couple steals that way. He always crashes the board, and throws his body around willy nilly. He is important to his team, but nowhere near ‘the guy’ and everyone hates him. He’s constantly encouraging teammates that look down on him, but, in the end, he’s tremendously valuable. After some soul searching and texting with Drew, I’ve come to realize that I hate Matthew Delevova because…I AM MATT DELEVDOVA! I’m the dooshy guy that does all those things in a pickup game. I’m the guy that is sneaky athletic but really gets by on hustle. And I’m the guy that presents value to my pickup team by surrounding myself with better players and making effort plays. This is kind of depressing. It also means I’ve gotta start rooting for the guy. As much of a knob as he is, as lame, cheap, dirty etc. He is a brother in arms! I must appreciate the beauty in the muck he raise, and I am now on board the Deli Train.

The alternate title for this little writeup was going to be: Stephen Curry should literally commit Harra-Kiri for being outplayed by a second year player from St. Mary’s with no discernible skills. I realized it was too long, and that some get offended by the implication of honor killings, but my general sentiment still stands. How does he play the way did? THE MVP OF THE LEAGUE CANNOT DO THAT! Great example, Schumpert forgets what he’s doing, and throws the inbound to Curry the last 2 minutes of the 4th. Curry misses a wide open three. THE MVP HITS THAT SHOT. His body language was also total shit. He looked dejected, confused, and generally perplexed. Does he bring Riley to the pressers after losses? Isn’t this where we would be able to see how cute her little shenanigans are, and how patient Steph is? Wouldn’t her pulling on the table and screen, knocking stuff over act, just piss off Curry after a loss? I feel we’d eventually get a, “GODDAMN IT RILEY THIS ISN’T THE FU@$ING TIME!!! QUIT PLAYING GHOST AND GO SIT WITH GRANDPA FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!” I’m actually strongly rooting for a Riley-Steph pairing after every heartbreaking loss for the rest of the finals. On other Curry notes, if the ESPN kitchen cooks up Chicken Curry after great performances, what do they make after bad ones?

CURRYWURST! What many describe as the least tasty curry concoction ever. We should be rating Steph on a sliding scale of Curry awesomeness, and his play so far earns this cut up hot dog with ketchup and curry powder known simply as the Currywurst.

You mentioned the Love-Green comparison. I can say that this series intrigues me because of the amount of ‘systems’ guys there are. These rosters are filled with players that would likely not flourish anywhere else. Examples: Deli, Tristan (valuable, but few teams can have their PF provide absolutely no scoring), JR Smith (completely unhinged and likes to party, unlikely to settle down for anybody but Bron), Green (see Lowe article), Barnes (being a 4th option is a whole different world), and Bogut (being surrounded by some of the best shooters in the league really diminishes what’s expected of you and hides your 7 foot faults).  That’s what’s so intriguing in this series. So much of each of these teams is about the way the guys play as a team for Golden State, and how Lebron James is so good at basketball he turns a 7th grade AAU team into a 2-1 Finals lead in the NBA. You can see why people just keep saying his name…

You began to touch on the Cavs cap situation. I’m going to break it down further, with a player’s millions per year approximated in parentheses.

LBJ (23), Love (17), Andy (10), Kyrie (15) JR Smith (6), Joe Harris (1), Mosgov (5), Miller (3)

The above assumes Love,JR, and Mike Miller opt in. Now some trickier ones: assuming the Cavs resign Deli, Tristan, and Schump their salaries could look something like this..

Tristan (15), Schump (5), Deli (3)

This gives the Cavs 11 players, 103 million in salary. If Love opts out and resigns at a max deal it’s another 2-3 million. If Gilbert chose to be really aggressive and trade Haywood for another serviceable player making about the same amount of money, that would vault them to 113, and then with a couple rookies and/or vets to round out the roster, you’re looking at 115. Let’s use that for now.

Cavs could be roughly 50 million dollars over the cap…What does this mean?

Team salary above tax level Non-repeater Repeater
Lower Upper Tax rate Incremental maximum Tax rate Incremental maximum
$0 $4,999,999 $1.50 $7.5 million $2.50 $12.5 million
$5,000,000 $9,999,999 $1.75 $8.75 million $2.75 $13.75 million
$10,000,000 $14,999,999 $2.50 $12.5 million $3.50 $17.5 million
$15,000,000 $19,999,999 $3.25 $16.25 million $4.25 $21.25 million
$20,000,000 N/A $3.75, and increasing $.50 for
each additional $5 million.
N/A $4.75, and increasing $.50 for
each additional $5 million.
N/A

Running some preliminary numbers, based on being 50 million over the cap, the Cavs would pay 195 MILLION DOLLARS IN TAX MONEY! Gilbert is loaded, and seems to be willing to pay whatever, but that’s some crazy dead money.

So in response to your salary questions, I think Gilbert will pay to keep the big 4. He has to. Lebron loves TT, and they don’t want to admit they lost in the Wiggins trade. Gilbert is a proud man. The most likely scenario is they let a Schumpert walk, and simply cut Haywood’s unguaranteed contract, hoping to run with the Big 3.5 next year, and change their identity back to the defenseless, fun to watch, 115 ppg behemoths.

Some last thoughts on this game: Jeff Van Gundy is the worst, but he’s actually done a better job calling these games than any of the regular season games I listened to of his. It’s also hilarious hearing Clevelanders talk about these role players…Even the national media is convincing themselves that maybe Deli is a great player, maybe Mosgov is a dominant rim protector, Tristan is worth a max deal, and Mike Miller is a savvy vet (that one might be true, and apparently he’s literally the greatest teammate of all time). Let’s not forget what’s driving this machine, King James.

The man is averaging 40 points, 12 boards,  8 assists. He is controlling the game and being the alpha dog in a way I’ve never witnessed. He’s Kobe Bryant tenacity mixed with Steve Nash bullet passing. He’s Jordan’s defense mixed with Ben Wallace’s rebounding. He’s Joakim Noah’s whining combined with Robert DeNiro’s acting..Just kidding on the last one. Though he sure does love playing up his injuries, showing us how engaged in the game he is, and pretending to come out of games, only to make himself fight through it. Wish he didn’t do that shit. In closing, let’s not forget, despite these secondary pieces moving around the board, and trying to be, “some really bad ass pawns,’ in the end, ‘the king stay the king. That’s the way the game is played.’

Sorry no baseball, I’m too obsessed with the Cavs right now, and loving every second.

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