Categories
Other Sports

NBA Season Preview

I get it, the world doesn’t really need another guy with a blog sitting in his underwear with a bowl of Cheerios making NBA predictions, but I just can’t seem to lay off the subject matter and I’m experiencing some sort of energetic pull to make my unfounded observations known to the great blogosphere wasteland.

 First order of business, The Golden State Warriors.  Last year the likable little shooting assassins finally captured the nation’s attention with their upset playoff series win over the 3 seeded Denver Nuggets.  Curry became a breakout star and the play of Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes marked the Warriors as a new world power.  In the off-season the terrific management team miraculously unloaded the obscene contracts for Andreas Biedrens and Richard Jefferson and added an all-star caliber wing in Andre Iguodala.  But, and there is always a but when it comes to the Warriors, they lost two key veterans in Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry to free agency.  So where do they now stand?  My questionable scientific NBA team predictor algorithm has the W’s battling Houston for the 5-6 seed in the West and compiling a 48-34 mark for the regular season.  My emotions are begging me to give them a higher seed but rational thinking tells me they are essentially a very good starting 5 with a major drop-off at point and center if the oft injured Curry and Bogut miss some time.  What a difference a year makes though, last year at this time I could have been arrested for proclaiming the Warrior’s the 5 seed in the West.

In the overall scheme of things here are a few quick pointers:

  1. The West will be a war just to make the playoffs.

  2. The East is a 4 pony race.

  3. LeBron is still “The King” until somebody can beat him in a 7 game series.

  4. The race to return from season ending injuries last year will determine this year: Rose, Westbrook, Rondo, Love, Granger, Gallanari, Bynum and The Mamba will all be trying to get back into game shape while on the job.

  5. There are no rookies ready to take the league by storm but it will be fascinating to see who emerges as a potential all-star of the future.

Regular Season Predictions:

Western Conference:

 

  1. San Antonio Spurs:  They are getting old, but the brilliant play of Kawhi Leonard and the marksmanship of Danny Green, combined with their Big 3, should keep them at the top.  The big key will be Marco Bellinelli replacing the departing Gary Neal.  Neal has been clutch in the payoffs and Marco will need to step up when needed.  Pop will have them ready.

  2. LA Clippers:  There are a lot of new pieces in Clipperland that may take a little time to mesh, but having CP3 out there leading the club should make the transition for Doc Rivers a smooth one.  I like the pickups of Jared Dudly, JJ Reddick and Darren Collison.  Come playoff time the limitations of Griffith and Jordan may keep them out of the finals, but Lob City should be in full force for the 82 game grind.

  3. OKC Thunder:  Losing Kevin Martin in the off-season looked like a blow to the Thunder but I never doubt the maneuvering by their ace GM Sam Presti.  If he thinks Jeremy Lamb is ready to step up, then I believe Jeremy Lamb is ready to step up.  KD will be brilliant as always.  The keys will be Westbrook returning from a torn ACL, the development of Serge Ibaka as a post player and the defensive/rebounding presence of Kiwi rookie Steven Adams.

  4. Memphis Grizz:  Same core, different coach from last years conference finals team.  If the new coach, promoted assistant David Joerger, can keep Z-Bo happy and Tony Allen on planet earth, they should be very good again.  I like their additions of Mike Miller, Nick Calathes and SDSU long sleeve shirt rockin alum, Jamaal Franklin.

  5. GS Warriors:  See above for my thoughts on the W’s

  6. Houston Rockets:  I’m guessing we are going to see a much better Dwight Howard than the shell of Dwight Howard that we witnessed in LA last year.  Escaping Kobe’s doghouse to the loving tutelage of Kevin McHale and Hakeem Olajuwon should work wonders for the gentle giant’s delicate psyche.  Harden is a star and Chandler Parson’s should thrive playing with these two monsters.  J. Lin and Asik are the big question marks.

  7. Denver Nuggets:  Most are writing the Nuggets off after losing Coach Karl and A.I. but if Gallinari can return from his injuries, I still like their core of Lawson, Faried, Andre Miller and Wilson Chandler.  As a bonus, in addition to having the most entertaining player in basketball, JaVale McGee, and the enigma that is Anthony Randolph, they now have mighty Nate Robinson running around wreaking havoc.

  8. Minnesota T-Wolves:  What an interesting roster if they can avoid the injury bug.  Love is a stud, Nikola Pekovic is a beast and Rubio is just a joy to watch pass the ball.  Rick Adelman should be able to coax this bunch into the playoffs.

 

Other points of intrigue in the West:

 

  • The Pelicans!  GM Dell Demp’s acquisitions of Tyreke Evans and Jrue Holiday could be genius or a major flop and The Brow (Anthony Davis) is ready to become a star.  Can Eric Gordon stay healthy?

  • Will Dirk remain a happy camper in Dallas?

  • Are the Suns the worst team in the NBA?

  • Damian Lillard

  • If Kobe can’t return and Gasol gets hurt, should the Lakers be relegated to the D-League?

Eastern Conference:

 

  1. The Heat:  The Champs made no major off-season moves but should still get it done again.  I would love to see their gamble on Greg Oden pay dividends.  Will Pat Riley get to cash in on his trademarked “Three-Peat”?

  2. Indiana Pacers:  Same rugged club as last year with more experience. I like the pickup of Luis Scola to replace Psycho T (Tyler Hansborough) and look for Paul George to blow up.  If Danny Granger can get back to the player he was a few years ago and mesh with this new style, the Heat are in trouble.

  3. The Bulls:  While totally dependent on Rose’s knee, this is another rugged club ready to make life miserable for the Heat.

  4. The Brooklyn Nets:  It will be fun to watch Jason Kidd coach his contemporaries and former rivals in KG and Paul Pierce.  On paper this team looks amazing but I’m just not sold.  Their fortunes will depend on D. Williams getting back to the elite PG level and feeding their horse Brook Lopez on the block.

  5. Who cares?

  6. Really, does it matter?

 

OK I feel like I’m shortchanging the East.  Call it my liberal West Coast bias.  But the bottom line is the Knicks, Pistons, Hawks, Cavs and Wizards are not very good.

 Other points of intrigue in the East:

 

  • Kyrie Irving!  He’s incredible when healthy.  Here’s a raise of the milk in the cereal bowl to the Cavs having a healthy year and getting Bynum on the floor.

  • The Wiz backcourt of Wall and Beal.  These two young thoroughbreds should be nightly staples on Sports Center.

  • The Pistons starting 5: Chauncey, Brandon Jennings, Andre Drummond, Josh Smith and Greg Monroe!  It’s fun to say that out loud like each name is a more shocking revelation.   Almost makes me wish I still had the NBA package.  Maybe Dumars has his magic back?

  • Are the 76ers the worst team in the NBA?

  • Will former Butler coach Brad Stevens make it through a full season in Boston?

Well there you have it hoop fans.  It’s time to sit back and be amazed and get reacquainted with Charles, Ernie, The Jet, Rick Kamla, Steve Smitty and my personal favorite, Jim Barnett, for another exciting season of NBA basketball.  I will check back in for the playoffs.

Categories
2013 Racing Season

MotoGP Pit Action

Dear Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta,

The mandatory mid race bike switch, as evidenced at the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit in Australia over the weekend, was incredible!  Please make this a part of every MotoGP moving forward.

Sincerely,

Bulseyeview.com

Apologies to the purists out there calling me an idiot, but I’m having a difficult time recalling a better pit stop sequence in all my years. Forget the contrived excitement of a crew of guys changing all four tires and dumping some fuel in a car.  These MotoGP cats had to execute a perfect stop from 60km and then leap onto another waiting bike.  It was part ballet in leather and part rodeo.  And if the dismount into a pirouette and remount wasn’t exciting enough, the riders then had to venture back onto the track on cold tires smack in the middle of a 150mph right hand 4th gear bend.  Watching Lorenzo closing at full tilt and Marquez accelerating for the same piece of track and making contact as Lorenzo rushed by traveling at least 50 mph quicker was the motorsports move of the year in my book. It was a beautiful display of commitment that left me gripping the couch and assuming the fetal position.

And pause for a moment to contemplate what the evolution of the bike switch would look like if it was a regular part of a GP?  I’m envisioning a rider springing off his pegs, leaving his mechanics to catch the pitting bike and landing on to the waiting bike without ever hitting the ground.  Or, in the name of technology, I could see the engineers installing an ejection button that the riders could trigger that would toss them a few feet in the air for a perfect 10 landing on the next bike directly in front.  Call it The Leapfrog button. Can you imagine the state of delirium TV commentator Gavin Emmett would work himself into if a pint size Pedrosa missed his ejection marks and catapulted over his waiting bike onto the back of Rossi as The Doctor left the pits?

In all seriousness, for the sake of artistry, I’m lobbying now for a rule that states that one foot has to touch the tarmac before the rider can mount the waiting bike.  I want to keep the pirouette in play.

Great stuff and with Honda and Marquez unable to calculate the basic math for the mandatory stops, Lorenzo now has some hope to deny the blazing rookie the title!

Random Thoughts:

A buzzard wing clap to Scott Dixon for scooping title # 3 in the Indycar series.  In a roller coaster season marked by inconsistency from most of the front runners, Dixon got hot late and deserved to take the crown with 4 wins in the second half of the year…And spare a thought for Penske Racing, losing their 6th drivers championship in the final race over the last 7 years has to sting.  It’s hard to label the team choke artists because of their tradition of excellence, but if a team in a major pro sport loses The Big One 6 times in a row, they are called chokers, plain and simple.  Somewhere, likely on a Target sponsored lear jet or yacht, wily Chip Ganassi is toasting Penske’s misfortune yet again.  On the subject of next year, the fight for superiority between Ganassi and Penske should be fierce.  They will both be using Chevy power and Ganassi is bringing in Kanaan to counter Penske’s hiring of Juan Pablo Montoya.  Fasten the bolts on those rear tire guards just a little tighter boys!

Finally, It looks like McLaren backed driver Kevin Magnussen, son of Jan Magnussen, is officially the next great hope in F1 with his clinching of the Renault 3.5 crown over the weekend.  His father Jan, once dubbed the next Senna by Jackie Stewart for smashing Ayrton’s win record in British F3, never really had any success in the big show, but hopefully Kevin has what it takes to be a Vettel beater.  I just wonder if he enjoys a smoke and a tasty beverage as much as his father?

Categories
2013 Racing Season

5 Points of Intrigue for the Remaining 5 Races

  1. Will Vettel win all 5 of the remaining races?  His Jimmy Clark-esque blistering first laps, where he gaps the field by 2 seconds, allow him to settle into a nice rhythm and manage his tires without even having to glance at the vanishing competitors in his mirrors.  It’s really textbook stuff.  I haven’t seen winning look this easy since Mansell in ‘92.   My crystal ball says: Vettel wins the next 4, then in Sao Paulo decides to gift the win to Webber on the very last lap as a retirement/Malaysia payback present, but Webber’s motor lets go on the run up the hill to the flag and Vettel has to accelerate by for the win.  I can hear the crazed Brazilians jeering the podium ceremony now.

  2. Who gets the Lotus seats?  The way I see it, Grosjean, Massa, Hulkenberg and DiResta are on stage auditioning for the two seats.  I would have included Sutil in this group if he hadn’t attempted to murder the team owner a few years ago!  But in F1 it’s a “what have you done for me lately” mentality so I will give Grosjean and Hulkenberg the nod this week based on merit.  Hopefully, the Lotus decision will be based on merit rather than the racing Golden Rule of: “He who has the gold gets the drive.”

  3. Will interest in Austin start to wane in year 2?  There are multiple factors conspiring against the promoters this year: Last year, Alonso in the Ferrari was still very much alive in the title hunt against Vettel.  This year, Vettel will likely have everything wrapped up.  Last year, Checho Mania was all the rage with Mexicans pouring through the gates in droves to support their young upstart countryman.  This year, the buzz is gone and with Mexico City hosting a round next year, maybe some of the Checo fans will pass on attending.  Finally, there is a UT/Oklahoma St game on Saturday at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium.  Don’t mess with football in Texas!

  4. Will heads roll at McLaren?  This season has been a complete debacle by McLaren standards and there must be quite a bit of nervous tension among the ranks back at the home base in Woking as the team fights to keep a distant 5th place in the constructors championship.  Somebody is destined to receive their walking papers for producing the dog-slow MP4-28.  If neither driver can luck into a podium in the remaining races, it will be the first time since 1980 that a McLaren driver didn’t stand on the top three steps!  And for the sake of trivia, their drivers that year were John Watson and a promising rookie named Alain Prost.  With 2014 being somewhat of a transition year before becoming the works Honda team in 2015, will McLaren look to save a few million pounds by opting for Hulkenberg over Button or would they consider making a goodwill gesture to their future partners by bringing in Kobayashi over Perez?  Pure speculation but I like it!

  5. Will Sauber remain the 5th best team on the grid to close out the year?  The Hinwil squad have finally cured their woes that plagued them for most of the season and they have switched places with Force India as the little team taking the fight to the Big 4.  I expected Hulkenberg to play this role all along and his drive in Korea served as a reminder that he is plenty capable of mixing it up with Hamilton and Alonso if he has the car to do so.  Gutierrez appeared to be out of his depth early on in the season, but now he’s exploiting the cars recent gains and looks poised to get a top ten result.  As evidence, in the first 12 races his average grid spot was 17.4, but in the last two it’s P9.  That elusive point would be a nice reward and may justify a second season provided the Telmex checks are still arriving on time.  Go Sauber.  Do it for Karl Wendlinger!
Categories
Reviews

Rush – The Review

I have to admit that I was shocked when I read that Ron Howard had the green light to make a Hollywood action movie based on the 1976 F1 championship battle between James Hunt and Niki Lauda.  It’s not that I don’t find the story riveting, I’m just skeptical of the American people parting with their hard earned money to see a movie that is very Euro-centric.  Let’s face it, over the past 30+ years, pushing F1 on the American public has resulted in more than a few financial disasters.  Long Beach, Detroit, Las Vegas, Dallas, Phoenix and Indianapolis all attempted to host races that for various reasons didn’t capture the locals interest.  Phoenix even had the dubious distinction of being outdrawn by an ostrich race held in nearby Chandler on the same day.  Really Phoenix?  Big Bird over Ayrton Senna?  This country is so indifferent to F1 that Michael Schumacher used to do all of his vacationing here because this was the one place in the world where he could go incognito.

But the tide seems to be changing course of late.  First a Senna documentary, then a successful F1 race in Austin and now blockbuster movie?  Even TV ratings have increased from Erik Estrada infomercial viewership levels on Speed to a respectable 700,000 households per race on the NBC Sports Network.  I find this all very strange.  Being a fan of the sport has often led to living a hermetic existence, one that I’m not accustomed to sharing (hence this site – I feel like I’m sending messages off into the galaxy to see if there are similar life forms in existence).  It was bizarre enough going to dinner parties and listening to people share their viewpoints on Ayrton Senna, now I’m going to be surrounded by James Hunt experts?

Anyways, enough ramblings about my insecurities.  This is about the movie dammit!!

To get my facts straight and regain perspective of what a racing film should look like, I read Gerald Donaldson’s solid James Hunt biography and watched John Frankenheimer’s fantastic 1966 film, Grand Prix.

This being the first ever bulseyeview official movie review, I think the establishment of a ratings system is in order:

  • For the general movie review, I’ll go with the classic Siskel and Ebert “Two Thumbs Up or Down.”  Why mess with perfection?

  • For the buzzardly aspects of the movie, I’ll go with the rating scale of 1-5 Condors, with 1 Flapping Condor being downright terrible and 5 Flapping Condors being supremely wonderful.

To score high marks on the buzzard scale, all aspects of the racing from driver conduct to on track action have to be realistic.  In other words, Do Not make another Driven!  Jean Alesi cameo aside, Driven is the worst movie ever made and will have to be the subject of a future separate review.

Five Basic Buzzard No-No’s:

  1. Using incorrect exhaust notes and revs.

  2. Going wild with CGI to transform basic contact into flaming plane wrecks.

  3. Using 1980’s super-vee’s painted like F1 cars in action crash sequences.

  4. Having the driver in the cockpit scream cliches while weaving all over the track blocking his adversary and missing apexes by 5 feet.

  5. Bill a race as the German GP but show the cars racing on a make believe track fit for Gran Turismo.

The Verdict:

Two thumbs up!  Not way up, but I’ve got them both pointed at the sky.  It’s a great story of a rivalry between two wildly contrasting characters that moves along at a nice pace.  In the pantheon of sports movies it’s not Hoosiers, but it’s a story that people with no interest in racing (my wife) will still enjoy and get caught up in.  Daniel Bruhl, who plays Niki Lauda, is fantastic.  In fact I think the story of Lauda is the show stealer.  Bruhl nails everything about the legendary Austrian, from his mannerisms to his propensity to use the word “Bullshit”.  He does a nice job of opening up the complexities of the mind of a driver in that perilous era.  We don’t really get to know Hunt, aside from his determination to win and his swashbuckling lifestyle.

Buzzard Scale:

4 Flapping Condors!  I had to pinch myself at one point during the movie when Lauda was driving through the countryside with Clay Regazzoni because never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be witnessing a conversation between Niki Lauda and Clay Regazzoni on the big screen in San Francisco, Ca in the year of 2013.  I loved the vibe of the 70’s GP scene and everything about the cars, tracks, helmets, driver suits, officials, grandstands, etc. seemed dead on accurate.  Any movie where Dr Harvey Postlewait is introduced to a sexy nurse accompanying James Hunt is off the charts buzzardly.   And the soundtrack is a beauty!

However, the actual on track action sequences were a little too CGI for my taste and prevented me from handing out the elusive 5 Flapping Condor rating.  At one point early on in the movie I cringed when they went all CGI on us to show a tangle between Hunt and Lauda at Brands in F3 cars.  But to Ron Howard’s credit, he kept the computer wizardry to a minimum, or “Bullshit” as Lauda would call it, and seemed to capture the excitement of a race through a lot of engine noise and abstract shots of steering wheels, engine valves, monster Goodyear rears, footwork action, cheering buzzards, pouring rain and quick shots of cars side by side through corners or brief in car looks.  A wise choice if you ask me.

Solid Movie.  Go See it!

Finally, we know that Hollywood tends to have a bit of a copycat mentality so here is the next  motorsports movie that I would like to see made: Gilles Villeneuve-  Life Lived at Speed.

Pitch: Small town French Canadian snowmobiler gets discovered by The James Hunt in a Formula Atlantic off season race in Canada and ends up a Ferrari legend.  Everything he does from flying helicopters to driving his rental car is a done in a death defying manner.  Just as he’s poised to become a champ, his dirty French teammate (Didier Peroni) goes behind his back and beats him in a race after they had agreed to not fight each other in the closing laps.  Gilles is so incensed that he declares war on Peroni and during qualifying for the very next round, Gilles is tragically killed while going for an impossibly small gap left open by a car off the pace on the racing line.  But his soul hovers around and causes Peroni to have a leg shattering accident a few weeks later and then Gilles passes on his gift to his son and helps Jacques win the title that should have been his.  It’s got everything.  Action, glitz, glamour & ghosts.  Get it done Hollywood!