Ladies and Gentlemen,
This is Cody Sandusky, co-host of Makin’ the Play (Monday-Friday 4-6pm on SEMO ESPN 92.9 FM) and the Saturday Morning Express, which can be heard on Saturdays from 9-10am on the SEMO ESPN networks. Welcome to the first of what will be a running series of blogs about the status of the sports world, ranging from headline news to uniform quirks (I am a big uniform fan, so you have been warned) that I am calling “Ramblings from a Talking Head.” I love being able to pursue a childhood dream of working in sports talk radio, whether it be play-by-play or studio hosting, but I am more than willing to take a joke and acknowledge my role as a “talking head” on the airwaves. Thankfully, due to developments in technology, I do not have to talk your ear off with ramblings on the air; you can instead read it at your leisure here on SEMOESPN.com! Another warning: I will at times go entire blog posts without mentioning the “big stories” or local and regional teams. This is because we as a station discuss them during our shows (The Sports Huddle, Makin’ the Play and the Saturday Morning Express), so I do not want to tap the well dry and repeat the sentiments we share on the air. I think we are covered on the preliminaries, so without further ado, let’s start the rambling:
The NBA Playoffs are in full swing and the Eastern Conference appears to own a monopoly on the dramatic flair that playoff basketball can bring. Game winners have not been difficult to find, with three coming this weekend from Paul Pierce, Derrick Rose and LeBron James; Rose and James exchanged buzzer-beater shots in back-to-back games that caused many in Cleveland to have nightmares on Friday night about The Shot, as well as the opportunity to strike back (albeit 26 years too late for payback on MJ) with their own clutch shooting. I am a Chicago Bulls fan, so I loved seeing one of those shots… not so much on the other, but I have to acknowledge and respect LeBron’s ability to take the shot in the midst of a rough shooting night. The series is heading back to The Q in Cleveland and I feel confident in saying that the fireworks are not done yet.
Paul Pierce is doing his part to lead a hobbled Wizards squad (missing their leader in John Wall) past the number one seeded Hawks, who did everything within their power to make Washington look like a team without ambition in the final quarter before the Pierce bank shot. If Pierce and Rose’s faces are not in a local bank’s advertising campaign or on the side of ATMs in D.C. and Chicago (respectively) by the end of the week, their agents will have missed a perfect opportunity to capitalize on the hype of those moments.
The Western Conference playoff matchups have seen a few surprises, namely the Clippers playing like the team that many thought they could be and the Warriors are not playing like the dominant team we saw throughout the regular season, in large part because of the hard-nosed play of the Memphis Grizzlies. Mike Conley has proven that, even with an imposing frontcourt that is above and beyond what the Warriors regularly send to the floor, he plays a big role in the success of the Grizzlies. Conley may have only contributed 11 points in Saturday’s 99-89 victory in Memphis, but one cannot overlook the fact that Grizz have not lost a game this postseason when Conley has played. Look for Tony Allen to continue shining on the defensive end as Memphis looks to build a 3-1 lead tonight at FedEx Forum… a game that you can hear on SEMO ESPN 92.9 FM.
As for the Clippers and Rockets, “Hack-a-Jordan” is the latest in the NBA’s series of plodding attempts to stifle a team’s performance by deliberately sending their worst free throw shooter to the line. The Clippers have been able to play above and beyond the Rockets’ efforts in Games 2 and 3, with both games seeing LA score over 120 points while limiting Houston to under 100. If it provides any consolation to the fans at home, James Harden voiced after the game that he is not the biggest fan of the “Hack-a-…” strategy, but stopped short of completely backing the bus over Head Coach Kevin McHale. The ’14-’15 Rockets are primed to become another example of Dwight Howard’s inability to help his team during a playoff series, being ejected in Game 3 after receiving two technical fouls. Houston has their backs against the wall and the Clippers are one win away from playing in the franchise’s first Western Conference Finals. My X-Factor in this series? Clippers owner Steve Ballmer. If the Clippers can close out this series, prepare for a manic Ballmer and a lot of Vines and YouTube clips of his celebration.
Rickie Fowler was recently named, alongside Ian Poutler, as the most overrated golfer on the PGA Tour in a poll of Tour members taken by SI Golf. The 26-year-old has always been known as a flashy dresser (I must admit that I am consistently a fan of the head-to-toe eclecticism that Puma provides Fowler on a week-to-week basis) and as well-liked amongst his peers, but also as a golfer that could not take the next step and win a tournament down the stretch. Trailing leader Sergio Garcia by five strokes with six holes to play, Fowler put on an impressive display of shooting that carried over into the three-way playoff between Garcia, Kevin Kisner and himself. Fowler delivered in the playoff and took The Players Championship trophy over Garcia and Kisner, two men who are versed in disappointing finishes to tournaments. Fowler has long been painted as one of the young faces of golf, but has not had the hardware to back up those aspirations. I am not saying that we need to immediately crown him as the future of golf (he has more to prove in the form of a few more victories, namely a major), but he is still primed to be seen alongside Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth (who missed the weekend at TPC Sawgrass, a disappointing showing compared to his mastery at Augusta) and Hideki Matsuyama (if you don’t know who he is, look him up) as the future of golf.
– The Cardinals dropped two out of three in the series against Pittsburgh this weekend. The team is still struggling in the areas we have seen up to this point (Heyward and Adams not consistently producing offensively, no 5th starter to eat innings and help the bullpen, bullpen being taxed) and the hot start may be waning. It is an off day today with a series against Cleveland starting Tuesday; a tough stretch against the Tigers, Mets, Royals and Dodgers to end the month will reveal more of who the Cardinals will be in this 2015 season… and it may not be the beautiful picture we saw to start the season.
– The Chicago Blackhawks swept the Minnesota Wild, proving that the Blues fell to what many considered to be an inferior team in the Wild. I don’t have a complete answer as to what the Blues should do this offseason with respect to the coaching staff and its roster, but seeing Chicago take it to the Wild will do nothing but fuel the fire sale that could occur.
As I have detailed in a large portion of this post, playoff season is in full swing for the NBA and the NHL, as well as high school and college baseball ramping up for their respective postseasons. There is plenty of action to catch both locally and nationally, so find a game and enjoy the breakneck pace of spring sports as we look to crown champions in a number of sports and organizations! Until next time… Ramble On.