Monday, May 11, 2009
5 Reasons to Live on a Monday
1. Robinson Cano is hitting again. After my blubbering fanboy post a few weeks ago, he started a slow but steady decline that gathered speed and became a 6-for-35 slump. He reverted to old habits, forgoing selectivity to chase bad pitches and ground out. Over the weekend series against the Os, he had four hits, including two doubles and a homer, and finally looked like his new self. Even after the downturn, he's still fifteenth in AL batting. They don't call him Sweet Robbie for nothing- time to start climbing.
2. CC found his command. He threw a complete game shut-out on Friday, allowing four hits (two of those in the last inning) with eight Ks and only one walk. Is the 'slow starter' talking point to be believed? With Joba looking stellar in all situations that aren't the first inning with less than two out, could we really have two reliable starting pitchers? Hughes has looked progressively worse, Pettitte can only give you so much, and AJ has cooled off after a great start; the CC train needs to be at full speed, and Friday was a good start.
3. The fulfillment of a prophecy. Remember all the Lebron-Carmelo hype when they first came into the league? 'Melo was coming off a national title as a freshman at Syracuse, and King James was the fail-proof wunderkind. They were the first two picks in the 2003 draft, if you remember not to count Darko Milicic, and there was talk of a career-long rivalry to equal Bird-Magic. At the time, the commercials and endless promotion seemed like a product of the Nike hype machine, and Dwyane Wade had the first big success from that loaded draft. Now, six years later, the Nuggets and Cavs are on a collision course, steamrolling through the playoffs. It would be a huge surprise if Cleveland got beat by anyone in the east, and the potential Nuggets-Lakers series should be a war. Melo-Lebron part 1 might finally come to pass.
4. The Rockets-Lakers series. In the end, I don't think LA will lose, but you have to respect Houston's grit. They lost T-Mac before the playoffs, and after a tough game 3 loss that cost them home court advantage, Yao went down. They responded by going small, and came out gangbusters in game 4 to even the series. After the amazing Battier-Kobe article by Michael Lewis in the Times, there's no better match-up to watch in the NBA. The great part is, Kobe knows the situation. Does anyone think he would have yelled "he can't guard me!" after every basket in game 2, and been T'ed up, if he wasn't annoyed and offended by the lingering idea that Battier could shut him down? This is probably the best example of journalism affecting the tenor of a sporting event; Kobe is actively trying to refute Michael Lewis with every performance. The Lake Show will take game 5, but if Houston can get another home win in game 6, who knows?
5. Friday Night Lights. I'm not a huge tv guy, and I generally think most sports shows are crap (I watched one episode of "Eastbound and Down," and that was plenty...crass humor and not much else, no 'real' characters, one fat guy doing the same Will Ferrell impression that stopped being funny about five years ago, and the complete lack of understanding about human nature that marks every Adam McKay production), but FNL is truly great. I finally downloaded the third season, and so far it's even better than the first two. I was very, very skeptical when I started watching season 1 a few years ago, because really, how seriously are we supposed to take a drama about a bunch of Texans who are way too gung-ho for high school football? And I will make this disclaimer: I have no illusions about FNL being an accurate representation of that world...anyone who's ever been to high school or lived in a small town knows that people are not that good looking, smart, or free from cruelty.
Instead, the men and women of FNL are archetypes, which can be a legitimate way to create art if you do it with respect, and the writers really nail it. Every single character, while not believable in the strictest context of comparison with the 'real world,' is still truthful and up to a high standard of artistic integrity that will always transcend realism. The storylines themselves are compelling, and make the absolute most out of the cast dynamic without becoming ridiculous or absurd. But the writers still take risks, and they almost always pay off. The style is vaguely cinema verite, with a moving camera that's never afraid of silence where most tv dramas resort to speeches. And man, is it stirring...I literally get misty-eyed at some point in every episode. I think this is one of the best shows in recent memory, and it's definitely the best thing network tv has to offer. Worth checking out. Happy Monday.