Sorry folks, I didn't have internet access yesterday, so no post yesterday. And likely no post tomorrow, as I've got a phone interview with Purdue in the morning. I'm a little worked up about that one because of how badly I want it, so I've not really been thinking about things to write here. So I've decided to go ahead and say we're closed today. Check back Thursday when the Blackhawks might have won a few games for my NHL preview in the style of the NBA one I did on Friday.
I was going to do the NHL today, but that didn't really work out. I didn't want to look at the standings, because I'm writing this while watching the Blackhawks game I recorded from last night. I decided to do the NBA while I waited on the game to get over, and it made sense with the All-Star Break and all. But then my dad called saying he was ready for me to help him get moved to Lafayette, so hockey will have to wait.
The NBA fixed their standings, so apparently I had a point with my confusion yesterday. In order, the playoff teams right now in the East would be Miami, Chicago, Indiana, Philadelphia, Orlando, Atlanta, New York, and Boston. Cleveland is in a very surprising ninth. The last team with a winning record is Atlanta, with New York being one game under .500.
In the West, things are a bit better with all teams at least having a winning record. In order again, we would have Oklahoma City, San Antonio, LA Clippers, Dallas, LA Lakers, Houston, Memphis, and Portland.
In the first round, I think Miami would take care of the Celtics pretty easily, and Chicago would handle New York. The Pacers would probably have a somewhat tough series with Atlanta, but I think they would pull it out in five or six, especially with home court advantage. I do think Orlando would take the 76ers, though it would be tighter than most people who don't really follow the NBA would realize.
Out west, I think OKC would handle Portland, Memphis would upset San Antonio (shades of last year), the Clippers take a seven gamer against Houston, and Dallas beats the Lakers pretty easily. That might change if they make some of the trades they've been threatening, but we're going off of today's team.
In the second round, Miami again wins, but in a tougher series against Orlando. That pits the Pacers and Bulls against each other. If last year is any indication, the Pacers might just win this one. The Pacers have already won in Chicago this year, and this seems like a bad match up for the Bulls after the Pacers could have swept the Bulls if they had hit some late shots or held big first half leads. There was no game the Pacers were just out of. And if the jump from 8th to 3rd is any indication, this is a much stronger Pacer team. Either way, though, I think Miami beats either of these teams. Another conference final heartbreak for the blue and gold.
In the West, OKC would beat Dallas, though it's probably seven games. It's really hard to call, but I do think the Clippers would beat Memphis, though I do think a lot of Memphis after their run last year. OKC and the Clippers would be a great showcase for the up and coming teams in the NBA, though I think OKC would win fairly easily.
That leaves us with the Heat and the Thunder in the finals. This would be a great finals which would feature the Heat against their antithesis, at least as far as philosophy is concerned. I would love for the Thunder to win this series, and I really think they would. You might remember, the Heat don't necessarily shine under pressure.
I'll be recording all the All-Star festivities this weekend, but not the game, in keeping with all my non-baseball all-star games. Paul George is in the Rising Stars Challenge and the dunk contest, so I'll be cheering him on. I'm not entirely sure what he's doing tonight, but hopefully it's entertaining.
There isn't too much else to type about the Purdue game last night except that it seems that Robbie Hummel is back. It would be great if the Pacers could find a way to pick him up in the upcoming draft. I would think he would probably be available in the later picks because of how his body has betrayed him. I'm not exactly sure how Robbie would fit into the Pacers' mix, but it would just be nice to see him keep playing his pro ball in the state.
As far as his NBA chances, first and foremost, you have to assume he will stay healthy. If that holds true, I could see him being a lot of Paul George, also of the Pacers. Similar builds (tall and long) with similar skills (more like a very tall guard). PG is more explosive than Robbie, I think, but I also think Robbie will be a better shooter. The nice thing is, though, PG can still shoot pretty well, and Robbie has shown he still has some life in those legs the past few games.
Now, as for the meat of this post, the Pacers beat the Bobcats last night to go into the all-star break. The Pacers have played exactly half of their games, and are sitting at a very respectable 21-12. That's good for 5th place in the conference somehow. It seems to be they should be in fourth, because Philadephia (currently listed as 4th) is at 20-14. So, the Pacers have more wins, less losses, better winning percentage, less wins back of the Heat and Bulls (currently tied at the top). The only thing I can see is Philadelphia is leading their division, although that should put them in 3rd, I would think, with Orlando sitting in 4th a half game above the Pacers.
Granted, the difference between all of that at the moment doesn't make all that much difference. There are still 33 games or so to sort all that out, in which time I fully expect the Pacers to probably take 4th place when all is said and done. The one thing I'm not sure of in the NBA is how division championships work. In the NHL, the division champs take the first three seeds regardless of record. That's how, as of today, San Jose would be the third seed in the West, even though they are ten points behind St. Louis, who is sitting in 4th at the moment. But, again, if that were true in the NBA, I would expect Philadelphia to be sitting in third right now, and they aren't, according to the NBA's website.
In any case, I've been very pleased with the Pacers thus far, and I only expect them to get better. About the only move I haven't ended up liking out of the Pacers this year was to replace Stacey Paetz. When your biggest gripe is the new TV girl isn't anywhere as good as the old one, I would say you can feel pretty good about your team. And, as Larry Bird mentioned today, they are still $15 million under the cap, so we could still see some big moves. I don't know who I would really want to part with at the moment, but it's a nice feeling to have for the future.
Looking ahead to the schedule, I like what I'm seeing. There are some tough games left. There's another game with Miami (in South Beach), along with a home-and-home with the Bulls. Outside of that, though, I would fully expect the Pacers to win every other game they're in. Now, I don't think the Pacers are going to go 30-3 in the second half. But I am expecting a lot out of them to finish out the year, especially when they play a ton of division games against Cleveland, Milwaukee, and Detroit in April. If things break right, it wouldn't shock me for them to only lose to Oklahoma City in April. I think everybody would be awfully pleased if they were 14-1 going into the playoffs.
Buckle up, Pacer fans, it loo
Sorry folks. I've been wanting to post this week, but things just haven't really worked out.
The trip to Columbus was nice. They've done a very good job with the arena district, I really liked that part. And the Blackhawks stomping the Blue Jackets didn't hurt, either. What wasn't so nice was waking up the next morning and finding our car broken into.
After finding ourselves down 2 iPods, a GPS, and the driver side window, we didn't have too much else to do but come home. If you've never driven from Columbus, OH, to Crawfordsville, IN, without a driver side window in mid-to-late February, I wouldn't recommend it.
After we got back to Crawfordsville, I managed to vacuum up all the glass I could find and got the window covered in plastic. Yesterday, we brought the car (our only car, at the moment, if I haven't mentioned that yet) in to get a new window. I dropped it off at 8, and we were told it would be an hour and a half. After maybe a half hour of sitting at the glass shop (reading God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, if you were curious) they told me they forgot to order the window, so it wouldn't be in until about noon that day. Annoying, but nothing too bad. I got a ride from my mother-in-law to Purdue, where I then met up with my buddy Adam, who let me chill in his place until he was done teaching and we would go get the car.
2:30 (the appointed time) rolled around, and my phone rang. Instead of the shop like I was expecting, it was Kristine. Not that I didn't want to talk to her, but I was getting antsy for the car to be done. At a bit after 3, I called the shop to check up on things. Just finishing up they said. I got dropped off at the shop a little while later. And I pretty much sat there until the car was done at 5. So an entire working day was put into fixing this car window that was supposed to take 90 minutes. Very frustrating, but at least it's done. And they managed to reset the theft alarm, but I don't know if that was intentional or not.
Anyway, because of all that, I've been a bit out of the sports loop. I do see the Blackhawks managed to beat the Red Wings, which is an accomplishment. Now maybe we can be the ones to stop the streak in Detroit. Wabash's basketball season came to an end last night, though. A bit of a disappointing year, but there are good things on the horizon.
Purdue and Pacers on tonight. I'm feeling good for a pair of wins tonight. I know I could certainly use them.
That's what I was thinking after watching last night's Blackhawk and Pacer games. The Blackhawks went into New York and beat a very good Rangers team 4-2 and made it look easy. After Jonathan Toews scored a penalty shot under a minute into the game, Chicago never looked back, leading 4-0 after the first period. It was a very cathartic way to break a 9 game losing streak, I'm sure. The Blackhawks will travel to Columbus to take on the lowly Blue Jackets next. I will be traveling to Columbus, too, to watch the game. It's a whole lot easier to find tickets in Nationwide Arena than it is the United Center, believe me.
The Pacers also won, beating in the Nets in a closer-than-it-should-have-been fashion, 93-88. Still, Danny Granger was back, and it was obvious what sort of a difference that made. He hit some early shots, and that seemed to get David West and, maybe more importantly, Paul George going. George has had a very, very good season and really looks like the future of the Pacers. And if the future looks like it did last night, Indiana is in for a bright future. He was doing it on both ends, and had another nice dunk, justifying his inclusion into the dunk competition at the all-star game. I'm not usually one to pay much attention to the NBA all-star stuff, but I'll watch PG at least. It's nice that Roy made the team, but that's not really enough to get me to watch that farce of a game.*
*The NBA version is still a whole lot better than the Pro Bowl. Has the NFL decided to kill that one yet?
In more troubling news, I hear DJ Byrd has picked up a DUI. He has really been a stud for Purdue since B1G play started. He's started to look like the player I thought he was going to be when I watched him destroy Covington when he was still at North Montgomery.* I haven't heard if that's going to affect Sunday's game with Michigan State, or any other games for that matter. I suppose he hasn't actually been found guilty yet, so maybe Purdue can get out of doing any punishment just yet. It sounds bad, I know people should get punished for what they've done regardless of who they are, but I can't help but hope
*See, I remembered that North doesn't like shortening it because Southmont does that. Wasn't that good for a WRC alum?
See that guy over there? That's the medic from Star Craft II. And the Pacers desperately need to hire him.* They've now lost five straight, and it's not too hard to see why.
*Or her, more likely. The medic is voice by a woman in the game.
The Cavs pretty well handled the Pacers last night, who are now a decent 17-12, but that's way below where they should be. Watching the game was pretty hard to do. No offense flow, the defense looked lost. It seems to me that a whole lot of that can be chalked up to missing Danny Granger and George Hill, two very key pieces to this team. Roy Hibbert is starting to look a little run down, too, but I think he'll bounce back after the all-star break.
In related news, I really don't understand why AJ Price hasn't got more of the missing minutes. It seems those have all fallen on Lance Stephenson, who couldn't find it his way off the bench under Jim O'Brien. Even when Vogel first took the reins last year, Price got those minutes and was Darren Collison's backup. True, there was a definite downgrade from Collison to Price against Derrick Rose, but that's to be expected. I have a feeling his increased minutes is coming from Larry Bird, who I think everybody tremendously respects, but I think he's misjudged his talent here. Taking 19 tries over two years to finally hit his first NBA three speaks to that. Along with his complete indifference to defense. AJ Price is probably a career backup, but I still like him over Stephenson.
Oh well. So it goes. Maybe things will go better with the Nets tonight. In happier news, Purdue was able to hold off Illinois in Champaign. That was very nice to see, and very nice to see Robbie Hummel look like the Hummel of our memories. Still, I'm hesitant to write too much about that yet. I want to see if he can do that for a few games in a row. He'll get a very good chance on Sunday when they take on Michigan State.
If you don't remember, Purdue got curb stomped in East Lansing. While I'm not absolutely convinced Purdue was going to win that game under great circumstances, any chance they had pretty much went up in smoke after the travel woes. The team didn't blame that, but it was pretty clear to anybody watching that nobody was themselves in that game. If they play like they did last nig
Sorry folks, I was busy with Valentine's Day yesterday, and today I'm getting things set for my mom's 50th birthday, so I haven't given any thought to a post today. I might come back and post something later today, but I wouldn't count on it.
In happier news, though, I'm being brought in for a two hour in-house interview as a follow up to my phone interview, which is very exciting. Wish me luck!
I was going to write a post about the Mountain West and Conference USA merger, but then I just got a bit depressed about all the movement in college sports, the Big East in particular. After my initial bellyaching about Nebraska joining the Big Ten, it now looks like the model of restraint to just add Nebraska and basically leave an open invitation to Notre Dame.
If you follow the history of college sports, football in particular, you'll see that conference alignments have always been fairly fluid, and conferences have generally crept towards larger and larger numbers, in much the same way the federal government kept soaking up more and more power through the history of the United States. But these latest moves are the most drastic. Where college conferences were once intensely regional, the Big East now literally stretches coast to coast, at least in football. This seems like a pretty major sea change that could threaten how college sports are played. On some level that's good, as college football needs a new system for the post-season. But, that doesn't require "national" conferences. I don't know exactly how this will change the landscape, but I have a feeling I will be putting my head in the sand and watch little outside of the Big Ten. And I might not be the only one. I'm hoping this will be a widespread reaction, and maybe the NCAA will step in and rebuild conferences that make sense on a regional and competitive level.
I don't know. I've lost a little bit of faith in college sports. It makes it hard to concentrate on other subjects. I think I'll just go make myself some lunch, make some dinner reservations, and finish out some games.
I thought my interview went well. They're supposed to let me know one way or another in a week or two, so I'll have my fingers crossed until then. Metaphorically, of course. That would make it awfully hard to type otherwise.
Today, though, isn't going to be a sports post. As is patently obvious from reading this blog, I studied history in school. If I had done things a bit different in school,* I would probably be teaching history right now. I've got a passion and, I think, a talent for it. I would hope Pacer Week might have shown that.
*Read: How I should have done it in school and regret not doing.
Readers of this blog might not be aware of how I minored in English. Creative writing, to be precise.* It probably doesn't come as a shock, given my tendency to write (or at least start) novels. But, even the great Kurt Vonnegut says not to look for the future writers of America (or maybe it was the world, I can't remember the exact lines from Palm Sunday) in English departments, so it might not have been as obvious how seriously I've studied the mechanics of fiction writing. That said, it's probably no surprise that one of my all time favorite web sites is TV Tropes.
*Though that has not been lost to practically any of my employers. At least at Purdue and Watchfire they had it in their heads that I had majored in English, and I don't really know why. My BA in History is in bold on my resume, my minor just in normal font.
That's all fine and good, I hear you saying, but what's with the picture of Pope Benny up there? Well, I'll tell you. One area I'm more than a little fascinated with is the idea of Word of God in literature. For those that don't want to click the link, "God" in this case is the creator of a work. So, for example, in the Harry Potter universe, J.K. Rowling would be God. For Star Wars, that would be George Lucas. They wrote the series, so they can declare what is and is not canon, or the proper way to interpret a work.
Except, well, maybe they can't. Sure, George Lucas can spout off all he wants, but it's possible that his opinion can be totally discounted. The nice (or at least easier) thing about literature (or maybe art in general) over history is that the source material is very limited. History can be viewed through so many prisms and is pretty dependent over your views coming into whatever project you're working on, and what primary sources you can dig up.* With literature, your source material is a book, possibly a series of books.
*And as a side note, I would rather not hear anybody I know ever talk about revisionist history. As Dr. Michelle Rhodes once put it in class, every history should be revisionist in some sense if you're doing it right. But, that's a post for another day.
Because the source material is so limited, everybody who has an interest can be working with exactly the same material. That means that what exists to analyze and interpret is the work itself. In our Harry Potter example, the only things that can be taken as unequivocally true is what exists in print. Whatever JK Rowling says in an interview is just as valid as what another reader gleans from the books. Just because she wrote it doesn't give her the license to declare anything extra about the work or the characters in it. Now, I've not really read Harry Potter, but from what I understand, there is a kind of famous example of this with that series. In fact, if you go to the Word of Gay* page on TV Tropes, it's pretty much the trope maker.
*That would be a very specific application of this whole Word of God thing, one you can probably figure out from the title.
This is just fascinating and exciting to me, though probably less so for other people. And maybe a lot of this is from my history background. There is some similarity there. With history, there is unquestionably one way things happened. The US and its allies, mainly the British, invaded Iraq in 2003. That is the truth. Now, interpretations about why this might have happened and what sort of effects it has had depends on how you interpret documents and events surrounding that one instance. With literature, this is also true. In Slaughterhouse Five, there are stories about Billy Pilgrim going to Tralfamador and spending time as an exhibit in their alien zoo. That is in the book, no question about that. There is some question and debate about whether is actually happens, or if Billy is hallucinating or something of that sort. If you believe in the Word of God theory, then Kurt Vonnegut could have come out and said "Yes, what Billy was saying is true." Or he could have come out and said "No, Billy was suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress after the firebombing, and his brain just sort of broke." And that would settle that.
That does seem a bit boring, doesn't it? And if the author really intended that to be the reason (or for Dumbledore to be gay, in our earlier example), it wouldn't have taken that much effort to write definitive proof into the story, right? This works especially well for novels, as there is the space to really flesh out every idea you wish to flesh out. There are certainly those that hold the Word of God theory to be totally infallible, but that seems to take a lot of the fun and mystery out of writing and reading, doesn't it? Isn't it more fun, and perhaps more fair, to imagine that anybody that has read or experienced a work of art is equally valid to posit their own interpretation as the creator? All it takes is to be able to back up your assertions with proof from the work.
Maybe if any of my writings gain widespread enough readership to have to worry about such things, my ideas will change, but I surely hope not. If you do read anything of mine, feel free to draw your own conclusions. I'm sure I would get a hell of a kick out of people coming to a different destination than myself with something I wrote.
Nothing today or tomorrow as I prepare for a big interview. See you guys on Monday!