So I start off the evening watching the second round of the NFL Draft. The Browns continue to impress, picking up DE Jabaal Sheard at 37 and WR Greg Little at 59 (highlight vids at WFNY in links). I like both picks, but Little is especially intriuging; seems he has first round talent, but fell because he didn’t play last season (due to an agent scandal). Terry Pluto says that the Browns took some ricks (both Sheard and Little have had incidents in the past) but that the risks are reasonable. I concur.
So feeling pretty good about the future of the Browns, I turn to the Indians who, at the time, were trailing the Tigers 3-0 and getting two hit by some guy named Max Scherzer. But they kept fighting. Chad Durbin got out of a jam, striking out Maglio Ordonez (who was hitting a Parkman-esque .800 against Durbin) to end the top of the 6th and Shelly Duncan made it 3-2 with a 2 out, 2 run single in the 6th. Durbin gave it right back in the top of the 7th, making it 5-2 but the Tribe kept fighting. Matt LaPorta hit a home run with one out in the bottom of the 7th and Astrubal Cabrera made Jim Leylaned pay for leaving Scherzer on the mound by nailing a 2-run shot, tying us at 5-5.
The game ended with Carlos Santana… Mr. .188, Mr. End-the-game-by-taking-three-straight-pitches Carlos Santana hitting a walk off grandslam to send everyone home. I implore you to listen to Tom Hamilton call the Slamtana. Awesome. More on the Tribe here.
I then turned the television to Game 6 of the Memphis-San Antonio series (Grizzlies lead 3-2). What a fantastic basketball game. I really can’t say enough about both teams.
Memphis plays hard; they defend, they rebound, and their main man, Zach Randolph, is one of the most physical men on the post I’ve ever seen in my life. Randolph’s post game is a thing of beauty.
And the Spurs, there was no reason they should’ve even been in the game. If you were watching without knowing the score, you’d swear the Grizzlies were up 15. Memphis is bigger, younger, faster, stronger… just a better team (and they’re the 8th seed!). But San Antonio kept hanging around. Trailing all night with Manu Ginobli and Tony Parker seemingly willing shots in the basket (Manu hit a 60 footer to end the third), the Spurs actually took the lead with 4:39 to go on an Antonio McDyess jumper. Looked like the Spurs were on their way to forcing a Game 7.
(I can’t say enough about McDyess. His finished with just 10 points and 2 boards, but he played great in what turned out to be his final NBA game. Guarding Zach Randolph is no easy task. I forgot how athletic McDyess was in his early days).
After the Spurs took the lead, Memphis countered with a 8-0 run (six of those from Zach Randolph) and just flat out beat the Spurs down the stretch. Memphis, who hadn’t won a playoff game before this series started, more or less ended the Spurs dynasty.
(I was almost rooting for the Spurs to win and force a Game 7, just so they could lose to a standing O from their home crowd. But that Game 5 victory isn’t a bad way to go out either. But there was no way they were pulling out this series).
The second round of the NBA playoffs is stacked. I know everyone is pumped for LeBron-Boston III and Kobe-Dirk I (which doubles as Phil Jackson vs Mark Cuban), but this Grizzlies-Thunder series could be the best of the bunch. Both teams are young, play hard and are full of interesting, atheltic players. Shane Battier and Tony Allen guarding Kevin Durant. Marc Gasol and Randolph vs Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins… Westbrook, OJ Mayo, Harden… There’s a lot to like here (just don’t think about that this could’ve/should’ve been Seattle vs Vancouver).
Some days (like say, December 2nd), you wonder why you follow sports at all. But not Friday, with the Browns stealing a beast of a WR, the Tribe winning on a walk off slam and the 8th seeded Grizzlies eliminating the 1st seed Spurs.