Monday, June 11, 2012

Has the real Ubaldo Jimenez finally stood up?

Ubaldo Jimenez (photo: Getty Images)
Ubaldo Jimenez.

Just saying the name brings forth much emotion.

There's the anger in the initial deal, when the Indians literally traded away all of their minor league parts to get him, when all indications were that his velocity was down, his mechanics were off, and his head was in the clouds.

There's the joy in the deal, when Chris Antonetti and Mark Shapiro pulled a deal to actually bring in the top available pitcher on the market, as opposed to selling one (does CC Sabathia and Cliff Lee ring any bells?).

There's the anger in the move, when Ubaldo Jimenez came aboard the Cleveland Indians train in the middle of a pennant run, and proceeded to pitch like Roberto Hernandez's (Carmona) evil twin brother. You know the one...he can't throw a strike...can't get out of the up eight runs in three-second flat.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

I'm a Cavs fan, afterall

Kyrie Irving leads the Cavs (photo: GQ)
So as I reopen B3 as an all-purpose, Cleveland Sports thread once again, I can't help but reenter the fray discussing my good friend LeBron James. For those of you that live in a hole, LeBron James has long since taken his talents to South Beach, and after last night's game, has made it to the NBA finals for two complete seasons.

My journey as an NBA fan has gone in a bit of a different direction than LeBron's hunt for "not one...not two...not three...not four...not five...not six...not seven...". Last season, while still supporting the Cavaliers, my NBA journey leaned towards the "I'm a fan of every team that beats the Heat." While the public outside of Cleveland (and inside as well) that kept telling me that I shouldn't be mad at LeBron for leaving the Cavs, I didn't, and I don't really have any explanation better than that.  I would have been pissed off had he left in any fashion. My thoughts on what I think about the decision are secondary, to be honest, since that has already played out, and I'm far beyond that at this some extent I am.

The Cavs journey in 2011 took them through a season which we would all like to forget, but they went to the draft lottery after that horrid season and brought back with them the first round pick and the fourth round pick. The first pick turned into point guard Kyrie Irving, and the fourth pick turned into power forward Tristan Thompson. Irving was a given, and Thompson more of a gamble.

Before we could find out just how good these players might be, the NBA, the owners and the player's union took center stage, as a lockout became reality, and basketball became secondary. There really weren't any good sides to all of this, except for fans like myself, who was still in a land of discontent. Still, my focus went from hating a player and a team, to curiosity at the new players coming to Cleveland.

Kyrie Irving turned out to be a dynamic point guard, averaging 18.5 point a game, 5.4 assists per game, and 3.7 rebounds per game. He shot 40% from three-point land, shot 47% overall from the field, and was everything the Cavs wanted. He won the rookie of the year honors.

Tristan Thompson turned into the project that many thought he'd be. Overall, he averaged 8.2 points per game and 6 1/2 boards, and even added a block per game to go along with it. Not bad stats for a rookie at all. His numbers got even better, as he managed 10.4 points per game, with 7 1/2 boards and six double-doubles. So the Cavs began building a good foundation.

They'll add to that foundation this year with the fourth and 24th picks in this year's draft, as well as two high second rounders. Things are good for Cleveland.

Outside of Cleveland, a funny thing happened through the season, as well, and I suppose that's the point of all this. I stopped caring about the Heat and LeBron James. Well, I'm still pissed, and there's a small hope that they'll never win a title, but I don't look for their stat-lines anymore. An even funnier thing happened during the playoffs as Oklahoma City emerged as the team to beat...I started hoping for a Miami/Oklahoma City showdown. As a fan, it's an intriguing match-up, and there really hasn't been much of that over the years.

Last night, the Heat closed out the Celtics in seven. LeBron was unstoppable through much of the playoffs, and willed his team to the finals. There really wasn't much difference between what LeBron did for the Heat, and what he did for the Cavs. Wade has become a secondary guy there, and Bosh didn't even really play. Still, when the "Idiot 3" click, they are tough to beat. Now, they go up against James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant and Oklahoma City. It's the two best teams, with Big 3's of their own, playing for the title.

Should be an interesting watch as an NBA fan... long as the Thunder win the title...

I mean, c'mon, I wanted the series, but it doesn't mean I've completely changed...