Monday, April 23, 2007

Weekend Thoughts

Jared Trexler
The Phanatic Magazine

Before I get cracking on the NBA playoffs, the Phillies' team meeting and Penn State's Blue-White game, here is an interesting side note from the weekend that was:

I finished my first book since college. Shocking for a sportswriter, but I detest reading long novels. I lose interest about halfway through or end up forgetting a key piece of the storyline. So, I decided to venture into the short story world -- and folks, I found a winner. The Best Story Ever by a woman who goes by the initials "T.M. G" She's relatively new to the short story circuit -- or so I've been told -- but the story had a Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe feel without the 150-page mythical ramblings of T.S. Elliot.

The story includes such characters as a shooting star, a bear dressed as a jester and a jester himself. The words -- albeit few and far between -- give meaning to the pictures, which were also illustrated by the author. The story ends unexpectedly, so much so that I had to re-read it to see if I missed some foreshadowing. It's a must read.

NBA PLAYOFFS

San Antonio and Miami are in trouble.

Granted it's just one game in the grind-it-out seven-game marathons of the NBA Playoffs, but each provided some foreshadowing for the series' futures. Carmelo Anthony and Allen Iverson are two of the best three players on the court in the Denver/San Antonio series, and stars usually win in the playoffs. They get the calls late and normally don't need to shake out any jitters from the start.

The duo combined for 61 points in Denver's Game One victory, and I don't see the Spurs having the athleticism on the perimeter to contain them for nearly 48 minutes. One special characteristic about Anthony and Iverson is their stamina. They play more minutes than any stars in the league. That fact convinced me to pick the Nuggets in seven, but I was wrong.

They may finish the series out one game earlier.

The Heat are old. I've heard from the talking heads and my Phanatic Magazine colleagues at length about Miami's star power (injured Dwyane Wade) and (physically worn down Shaquille O'Neal). Chicago is fresher, hungrier and has the home court. The Bulls' Game One victory is a sign of things to come.

Golden State, with kudos to colleague Greg Wiley, stunned Dallas in relatively easy fashion Sunday night, 97-85. Wiley was quick to research the Warriors' dominance over the Mavericks this season. Dallas won 67 games on the campaign, but Golden State now has won all four contests. It's a shocking stat that likely won't repeat itself over a long series, but Wiley was right in giving Golden State its due. This series may last longer than many pundits expected.

PHILLIES MEETING

The time had finally come. After being just one out from its first winning streak of the season -- a game that eventually ended in another loss -- Charlie Manuel hosted a closed-door family meeting before Saturday's game at Cincinnati.

The results, albeit minimal, have been positive since. Cole Hamels struck out 15 Reds on Saturday and Freddy Garcia picked up his first win with the club on Sunday. Chase Utley appears to be heating up, and Ryan Howard came back from injury to go yard in the series finale.

Reports from inside the meeting say there wasn't any yelling, but rather "10 or so family members" talking about problems, what players need to improve on and how the team's overall cohesiveness on the field can improve.

It better work. Or it will likely cost Manuel his job.

BLUE-WHITE WEEKEND

Anthony Morelli looked solid -- comfortable in the pocket, going through his progressions rather quickly and efficiently -- during Penn State's annual spring scrimmage on Saturday. The game was played under sun-splashed skies with approximately 71,000 spectators in attendance.

Yes, 71,000 fans for a spring game with no true opponent. Penn State is college football territory.

Chris Bell, a heralded, physical wide receiver, also showed some breakaway speed and the ability to make defenders miss in space. Bell could land a job in an already loaded receiver corps that includes Deon Butler, Derrick Williams and Jordan Norwood.
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