Monday Morning Lineup May 30: The Psychic is In, Memorial Day and Lax, Bruh

A feature inside a feature. Feature-ception?

 

  1. The Psychic is In: NBA Western Conference Final

Time for a round of mini-predictions, this time about the NBA conference finals. The Western edition of the Association’s semi-final round has been a thing of beauty and a war for the ages.

Both teams have a ton to play for, and it shows. The Warriors are fighting not to become a trivia question or a punch line by setting the record for wins and then not even reaching the final round. All summer, we will read pieces about why the Warriors were too cocky, why they weren’t focused, why they don’t rank among the all-time great teams. Fair or unfair (I’d argue for the latter—playoff series are remarkably small sample sizes) Curry and his teammates, but especially Curry, will never be able to shake off this loss throughout their career.

And the Thunder seem to know this could be their last best chance for this team to finally win a ring. Durant’s contract expires very shortly and even tough I think he’ll be back for at least one more year again for Westbrook’s contract year, there’s no guarantee they’ll make it back. The Warriors will be fully loaded once again, the Spurs will be back in the picture, and there are plenty of other teams lurking in the West.

These teams both need to win this year, at least as much as any team needs to win. Game 7 should be one for the ages. I think Curry is going to explode and remind everyone why he won two straight MVP’s, including a unanimous decision, and have the game of his life. Give me the Warriors by single digits.

2. Lax, bruh

Memorial Day every year serves as Championship Weekend for Division I lacrosse. The sport can take a lot of shit for the athletes that play it and the different stereotypes associated with it/them, but each year I try to catch at least few minutes, if not more, of the national tournament.

It’s a supremely athletic sport and it can be incredibly exciting to watch, boys and girls teams included. I’m no lax diehard by any means, but I’m always glad to see it get its day or two in the sun.

I’m planning on catching Monday’s championship. My expert analysis based on a whole 90 minutes of watching lacrosse this season tells me the UNC Tarheels will take home the crown.

3. Let’s talk about the U.S. World Cup of Hockey roster.

Okay, we all knew this was coming eventually. I’m going to take a deep breath and try to be as rational as possible regarding this entire subject.

I’ve tried to take a few days to react to this and not be too emotional, but some of the decisions were outright ridiculous. Why you would want to leave Phil Kessel off this team is beyond me. I know I’m at risk of becoming Mr. Kessel over here, but what the hell? The team clearly values some grit, with picks like Ryan Callahan, but you’re really telling me Kessel doesn’t have the heart/grit for international competition?!  I thought we talked about this already!

Simply put, Kessel has been fantastic in the playoffs and offers the US a very dangerous weapon with his speed and shot. Why any team, no matter what level, would discard a player like him is beyond me.

Now for Nick Leddy. This is a bit of a homer pick, sure, but again, why would you not want someone with his speed and skating ability on an international roster, when the rink will be more open and speedy players offer a bigger advantage than ever. He too was quite good during this year’s postseason tourney and is very solid defensively. Including a defenseman like Jack Johnson over him is just baffling.

Every national team is going to leave plenty of fans upset no matter who is left off the roster. Fans of teams with notable American players will always be mad that their favorite skater won’t be wearing the red, white and blue. But these two decisions seem especially confounding.

leddy kessel

4. See ya, Noah Syndergaard

As most fans have seen by now, the Mets dominant Scandinavian was tossed early in a game this weekend for throwing behind Chase Utley.

I’m torn over this one. In one sense, I cannot stand when umpires feel the need to make their presence felt, and this felt like one of those times. It was one pitch that did not even actually make contact with Utley, and neither bench had been warned prior, at least as far as we know.

On the other hand, though, what Syndergaard did was clearly intentional. He made no bones about being willing to intimidate guys on the mound during last year’s playoff run, and he and the Mets clearly have a (pretty justified) beef with Utley. If the umpire thought this was going to lead to a situation like the one that led to Jose Bautista catching a hook from Odor, I can’t blame him for stepping in.

Ultimately, I think the ump was too quick with the hook in this case. But, it’s not as cut and dry as many fans seem to think.

5 May’s best music

At the end of each month, I’ll try to share some of my favorite music that was released during the past few weeks. We’re not quite up to the end of the month yet, but this is close enough. I’ve got a pair of tracks for your listening pleasure today.

I Am a Nightmare by Brand New

Whenever this band releases new music, expect to find it on that month’s list, as it doesn’t come along too often. The latest single from the Long Island emo group has less in common with its latest offerings from albums like Daisy, and more like their debut, Your Favorite Weapon.

I absolutely love the track, and it’s actually grown on me as time goes on. Still, though, cut the shit, Brand New, and give us a full record. I’m sick of hearing one new song every 12 months.

Burn the Witch by Radiohead

Another long-awaited and much-hyped return, this time from British alt darlings Radiohead. I’ve never been quite the Radiohead-head(?) but this song I liked a lot. It may be a stretch of a comparison, but it reminded me at times of things like Paranoid Android, which is my favorite incarnation of Radiohead. I’ve only listened to the full album, A Moon Shaped Pool, a few times, but so far, I really like what I’ve heard.

6. All Hail Starlin Castro

The Yankees’ second baseman donned the cape and played the role of hero for the Yankees on Sunday, rescuing them from a no-hitter and giving them the win when he sent a long fly ball over the wall at the Tropicana.

Castro has had a really nice start to his year in New York, which is a huge plus for the Yankees. Castro was one of the few moves they could make this winter thanks to all those long term contracts the fans and front-office are waiting to see expire, so they couldn’t afford to miss on him.

They haven’t and he’s been a massive upgrade over Stephen Drew, who for some reason will be able to tell his grandkids he was a starting infielder for the New York Yankees. Good grief.

starlin castro

7. Get ready for the Olympics

If you’ve watched the NHL playoffs, you’re well aware of this, but the Olympics are coming. And while I know there’s plenty to be worried/outraged about surrounding Rio, I can’t help but get excited the closer we get.

The Olympics are great for so many reasons, from the chance to all root for one team, to watching incredible, if a bit cheesy, stories about athletes competing from around the world and glimpses at sports and competitions we almost never get a chance to see. I won’t go too long here, since I plan to write a longer appreciation as it draws nearer, but I cannot wait for the Opening Ceremonies later this summer.

8. Clayton Kershaw’s lonely excellence

Good lord, Kershaw has been dominant this year. But you don’t need me tell you that. Look for yourself:

Screen Shot 2016-05-29 at 9.28.24 PM.pngScreen Shot 2016-05-29 at 9.28.12 PM.png

And those were before he beat up the Mets on Sunday nighty. Those two tweets from Buster Olney give you a picture of just how good he is. The idea that a manager hasn’t even taken a walk out to get him yet and we’re almost to June is incredible.

9. Happy Memorial Day from Boston

I’ve always loved the City of Boston and am glad to now live and work there every day. It was especially cool around Memorial Day this week.

This city always feels uniquely patriotic and American. I’m not sure what it is, whether it’s the backdrop of history from the Revolution or the very American provincialism the city breeds, but it’s only gotten stronger since the Marathon attacks a few years ago. I was in college not too far out of the city at the time, and I can still remember exactly how the whole week-plus played out. It’s great to be here now afterward, and still see it strong, unique and patriotic. Everywhere you went the past few days, there were flags flying, and it was great to see.

Enjoy a photo from a great weekend in the city below. I hope your Memorial Day weekend was great as well.

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Have a good week, everybody!

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One thought on “Monday Morning Lineup May 30: The Psychic is In, Memorial Day and Lax, Bruh

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