- The Season's Over -

ETB’s Exclusive Interview with Detroit Tigers Center Fielder Curtis Granderson

March 31, 2008

Curtis Granderson is looking to run more

Curtis Granderson Photo Credits: Icon SMI

ETB has a special treat for Detroit Tigers fans as we celebrate the team’s season-opener this afternoon against the visiting Kansas City Royals.

Curtis Granderson is the starting center fielder and leadoff hitter for the Tigers, who’ll sport an offense that should challenge a few all-time scoring records this season. He’s also one of the nicest guys in baseball. The son of two educators, he’s one of only a handful of major league players with a college degree. Curtis does indeed take academic achievement seriously: his Grand Kids Foundation charity is dedicated to spearheading educational initiatives for youths as well as bringing baseball back to inner cities across the country.

On the field, he’s one of the American League’s brightest rising stars. As the leadoff hitter in a revamped lineup that has added the potent bats of Miguel Cabrera and Edgar Renteria, he figures to score a ton of runs this season in addition to his typically stellar production across the board. He’s also one of the best defensive outfielders in the game, and last season joined Willie Mays, Frank Schulte and Jimmy Rollins as the only players in MLB history to record at least 20 home runs, 20 steals, 20 triples and 20 doubles in a single season.

Granderson will start the season on the DL because of a broken finger suffered in spring training, but should be back on the field by mid-April. He recently took the time to sit down with ETB and answer question ranging from his desire to steal more bases, his blogging and future broadcast career, his entrance music, and more.

Empty the Bench: Everybody knows you’ve got some wheels—you stole 26 bases last year and only got caught once. Do you want to run more on the basepaths? Think you could be a 40 steal guy in the near future?

Curtis Granderson: I would love to run, and feel that the potential to steal 40 plus bases is a possibility. I’m still learning when to run, and how to run from our first base coach Andy Van Slyke, and have already learned a lot, but still have room to learn.

ETB: You struggled versus lefties last year, but I know you’ve been working on hitting left-handed pitching this offseason. What kinds of things can you do to prepare for lefties, and what can you change in your approach at the plate?

Curtis Granderson: I need to continue to face more lefties and continue to get repetitions against them and for the most part that’s the main thing I can do to get better hitting them. In the past, I have been able to hit lefties, but this past year, they figured me out. My approach has to be to go the other way against them like I have done in the past when I had success and continue to stay positive.

ETB: You had some of the best entrance music in baseball last year. You putting together a new set of tunes for 2008? Got anything in mind? What albums have you been listening to lately?

Curtis Granderson: As for my entrance music I’m going to most likely stay old school again. Old school never really can get old. New music I still need to grab the new Lupe Fiasco CD and add it to the collection, and see what new is coming out this spring.

ETB: You did some work with TBS covering the 2007 MLB Playoffs this year. Do you see yourself getting into broadcasting sometime down the road? What about it appeals to you?

Curtis Granderson: The broadcasting was a lot of fun and a great learning experience. I would like to get into it after baseball is done (hopefully a long time from now). The things I really liked about it are that I was talking about guys I’ve either played with or against, and able to remember what happened which made it a little bit easier to be able to commentate along side with Frank Thomas and Cal Ripken. Remember, I also got to commentate next to John Kruk and Dusty Baker over at ESPN.

ETB: You weren’t on the All Star Game ballot in 2007 because of Sheff, but you will be this year. How important is to you to make the All-Star Game? Is that a big goal of yours?

Curtis Granderson: It never has been a goal of mine to make an All-Star team. I think that the All-Star vote is a great accomplishment, but when you look at it, you are really only rewarding a player for what they have done for just over a half of a season. My goals are the end of the year awards which cover the entire season (gold glove, silver slugger, players association all-outfield team, etc…) If I do happen to make an All-Star team, I will be extremely happy and I hear it’s a great experience, but I’ll have to leave and get right back to finishing up that second half.

Much more from Mr. Curtis Granderson after the jump…

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3 CommentsPosted by Andrew Thell and Brian Spencer on Mar. 31, 2008 at 10:57am in ETB Articles, Interviews, MLB, MLB Fantasy News

Reading is Great! Monday’s NBA Links

March 31, 2008

Adonal Foyle Makes Reading Fun!

- BallHype – Sweet Mo’ Pete lives up to his nickname.
- Los Angeles Times – The Lakers are hoping for a combined 32 points, 18 rebounds boost.
- 20 Second Timeout – Which is great, because they’re limping towards the playoffs.
- The Pioneer Press – Could Randy Wittman be done in Minnesota? Please?
- TMZ – Bet J.R. Rider doesn’t think the headline is cute; boy howdy, he’s been busy lately.
- The Oregonian – LaMarcus Aldridge: “I’m getting better, but I haven’t arrived.”
- Sports Diva Magazine – A Beer from Taiwan that’s impossible to drink.
- New York Post – Peter Vecsey must have fun making things up every week.
- SLAM Online – I think Gilbert Arenas has realized he’s not getting a max contract.
- Cuzoogle – A series of videos highlighting some of the NBA’s top ankle-busters.

No CommentsPosted by Andrew Thell and Brian Spencer on Mar. 31, 2008 at 10:37am in NBA

Reading is Great! Friday’s NBA Links

March 28, 2008

Yao Ming Makes Reading Fun!

HoopsAddict – A four step plan to develop the D-League
Hardwood Paroxysm – D-League aficionado Matt Moore interviews Dan Reed
You Been Blinded – Remembering Kwame’s good times in LA (i.e. off the court)
Point Spreads – The odds are out on the 2007-08 NBA Champion
Wages of Wins Journal – Reminiscing about the statistical greatness of Chris Webber
SLAM Online – Rookie highs and rookie lows with Thad Young and Joakim Noah
NY Daily News – The Grizzlies could be painting the town (Larry) Brown
Detroit Free Press – Does ‘Sheed Wallace have what it takes to be an NBA coach?
Globe and Mail – It’s time to trade TJ Ford and commit to Jose Calderon
Fantasy Insider Online – Whose draft stock is rising and falling in the NCAA Tournament?
NY Daily News – Richard “Peanut” Jefferson says Jason Kidd was holding the Nets back
Chicago Tribune – This town isn’t big enough for Larry Hughes and Ben Gordon
Palm Beach Post – Riley says Miami has sutured up Shaq’s stab wounds in their back
The Oregonian – What on earth was Greg Oden thinking?
Pickaxe and Roll – Only Mike Fratello could make a 360 alley-oop sound this boring:

No CommentsPosted by Andrew Thell on Mar. 28, 2008 at 3:52pm in NBA

Does Anybody in NBA History Better Personify “Petulance” than Shaquille O’Neal?

March 28, 2008

Shaquille O'Neal loves the camera

Shaquille O’Neal Photos Credit: Icon SMI

“It’s sad that he says those things. We shared so much here, together, for three years, good and bad, 3 1/2 years. I just think it’s sad that he’s got to do that. He didn’t want to be here, he didn’t want to play for [this] kind of situation, 35 years old. He wanted to go to a contender and we sent him there. We sent him to Utopia and we’re left here with the carnage and I don’t know why he’s not happy. It’s really a shame that he would insult those people like that because they gave him care. They cared. They didn’t kiss his butt. They cared about him.” – Pat Riley, Miami Heat Head Coach

Over the course of his long, storied NBA career, Shaquille O’Neal has come to be known as The NBA’s Most Dominating Player. He’s won four NBA championships and was voted into 15 consecutive All-Star games. He’s been signed to recording contracts and landed numerous leading and supporting roles in Hollywood (fortunately for O’Neal I’m focusing on the quantity of those two endeavors, not the quality). He’s never experienced a shortage of major endorsement deals, while massive contracts in the NBA alone have made him a millionaire many, many times over. The media hangs on his every word and laughs at every tired one-liner or quip.

Almost anybody who’s even somewhat plugged into Western culture knows who Shaquille O’Neal is. He remains bigger than life and sometimes bigger than the game that made him famous. Nobody can take away or diminish the significant accomplishments he’s achieved.

But… why. Why. Why. Why.

Why does a man who’ll go down in history as one of the most influential and successful players in NBA history still, after all these years, never take the high road in the face of criticism? Why does he still rarely give credit to an opponent that bests him? Why is he still considered just a big, lovable goof? And why does he still get a free pass from the media and basketball fans alike despite his childish, boorish, and often inappropriate behavior?

Does Shaquille O’Neal really need to go on a tirade about Pat Riley and his former Miami Heat teammates?

Does Shaquille O’Neal really need to issue a harsh rebuke of Bill Walton because the man did what ESPN pays him to do?

What does Shaquille O’Neal stand to gain from engaging in one pissing match after another?

Nothing. This is just who Shaquille O’Neal is: a petulant, insecure brute incapable of self-control with a microphone in his face. He always has to be “on” and always has to have the last word in spats big and small, whether it’s with Kobe, or Vlade Divac, or Jerry Buss, or Pat Riley, or Bill Walton, or …

To hear the media tell it, Shaquille O’Neal is at all times a gregarious, easy-going ol’ funster who’s always quick to make us laugh and who can still work a room with the best of them. And maybe that’s true to a degree. But suppose it was, say, Ron Artest who issued all of these personal insults Shaq has publicly hurled at opponents and ex-associates alike. Suppose it was Artest who had displayed all the poor sportsmanship Shaq has shown in defeat, and Artest who was overly defensive whenever criticized. Ron Artest would be absolutely vilified and held up as an example of a bad role model, of a bad teammate, and a bad ambassador for the NBA. But Shaquille O’Neal has something Ron Artest doesn’t: a free pass.

Everybody wants to view him as this big goofy jokester, and he loves nothing more than to project himself that way. The reality of the situation, however, is that most of the time he comes off like an immature asshole whenever he opens his mouth and very few call him out for it.

Much more on Shaquille O’Neal’s petulant behavior after the break…

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21 CommentsPosted by Brian Spencer on Mar. 28, 2008 at 12:04am in ETB Articles, NBA

David West’s Dagger Courtesy of CP3

March 27, 2008

David West deserves a ton of credit for knocking down this stone-cold, game-winning shot last night. Still, I’m more impressed by Chris Paul creating that open look. I can’t help but notice West was wide open because three Cavaliers were forced to collapse when Paul penetrated to the middle of the lane against a double-team with a killer crossover, then athletically leaped and spun in mid-air to find the open West, seemingly with eyes in the back of his head. The final of his 20 assists last night.

These kinds of plays have become routine for Paul this season; this one was just dramatic because of the situation. That’s the strongest argument for Chris Paul as NBA MVP: nobody creates more opportunities for their teammates and nobody in the league makes those teammates look good night in, night out like CP3 — coupled with the fact that he may be the best defensive point guard in the league. He deserves all the credit in the world for getting the most out of everybody on the roster, especially Tyson Chandler and David West.

Tags: Chris Paul, David West

No CommentsPosted by Andrew Thell on Mar. 27, 2008 at 8:09pm in NBA

NBA Picks and Rolls: Fantasy Playoffs Edition

March 27, 2008

NBA Fantasy Basketball

NBA Basketball Photo Credit: Icon SMI

We’re through the doldrums of the fantasy season and into the all-important playoffs. It’s go time (whatever that means). On Tuesday I discussed the all-important tactic of streaming players in and out of your roster to maximize games played. Another wrinkle to this time of year is keeping track of all the tanking and injuries major and minor that will have youngsters across the league earning more playing time. These are some of the beneficiaries so far, and all of them make for solid streaming options or outright adds:

Kirk Snyder, G, Minnesota Timbrwolves: Nobody made much of the Kirk Snyder acquisition before the trade deadline, and rightfully so. He’s never been much of an impact player in the NBA and his natural skill and defense are the only things that kept him on a roster. Over the last month Snyder has actually been playing some pretty good basketball though, potentially fantasy-roster worthy basketball, and now it’s time to take note. Snyder has been in double-digit scoring for four of the last five games. He’s been in the starting lineup for 12 games and managed a line of 10 points, 4.6 boards, 2.3 assists, .6 steals and .6 blocks with percentages of 52.5% FGs and 80% FTs that make him especially streamable.

Martell Webster, G/F, Portland Traailblazers: Whenever Brandon Roy misses time Martell Webster steps up his offensive game, and that’s the case again. Initial reports on Roy’s injury don’t look good, and there’s a lot of speculation that he could miss the rest of the season. To be honest I’m surprised Roy lasted this long and that it’s his groin, not his foot, that is keeping him out — I projected Roy to go down a lot sooner. Webster’s percentages aren’t great, but he’s a tremendous source of threes and points — he’s dropped 45 points and 9 threes in the last two games.

Wilson Chandler, F, New York Knickerbockers: Isiah Thomas is determined to get the youngster involved as the season, and the Knicks roster, wears down. Chandler has been starting for ten games and he recorded his first career double-double last night. That marks five straight games of double-digit scoring for him and over the last week he’s put up 13.0 points, 5.3 boards and just 1.0 TOs on 54.8% FGs.

Chris Quinn, G, Miami Heat: It’s looking more and more like Jason Williams, along with the Miami Heat as a team, will be packing it in and calling it a season. That means the recently maligned Quinn should get ample opportunity to produce at least serviceable fantasy stats. He’s not great, but as a starter this season he’s averaging 9.3 points, 3.4 dimes, 1.4 steals and 1.1 threes on 46.5% FGs and 83.3% FTs. That can help a lot of teams, and he’s worth a spot-start for the others.

Six more players to check out after the jump…

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No CommentsPosted by Andrew Thell on Mar. 27, 2008 at 7:20pm in NBA, NBA Fantasy News

Reading is Great! Thursday’s NBA Links

March 27, 2008

Stormtroopers Make Reading Fun!

- Daily Basketball – The months of March and April are filled with NBA holidays.
- The Boston Globe – Pat Riley and Shaquille O’Neal are in a pissing match. Embarrassing.
- FOX Sports – ETB doesn’t catch the Bracket Fever every March either.
- Vegan Fish Tacos – Melvin Ely is the reason Byron Scott could be Coach of the Year.
- Stop Mike Lupica – Who can save the NY Knicks? James Dolan’s Traveling Wilburys.
- Pistons Blog – The Pistons hold a players-only meeting, then stink it up in Toronto.
- National Post – Jorge Garbajosa celebrates a hap-hap-happy 1-year anniversary.
- T. Jose Caldeford – Quite a few otherwise good players make the All Ugly Shot Team.
- The Big Lead – Magic Johnson is totally in game shape. The game of eatin’! Ohh!
- on 205th – Baron Davis and Jessica Alba are tight (and Baron loves his b-day cake).

No CommentsPosted by Brian Spencer on Mar. 27, 2008 at 12:29am in NBA

Joey Gathright is Amazing, Part II

March 26, 2008

Yowzers. This is probably the most athletic play we’re going to see on the basepaths this season. Note how the act of jumping over a human being doesn’t even slow him down when he touches down. Joey is such an exciting player, a freak on the basepaths and able to cover so much ground in the outfield, and I’d like to see more of him. That .266 career batting average has prevented him from reaching 80 games in any season so far, but with a .307 BA and .371 OBP in 74 games last year perhaps we’ll be seeing the 26-year-old do more of this in 2008:

We shouldn’t be too surprised by Mr. Gathright’s leaping ability at this point though if you recall this clip we posted last April. He is the man:

No CommentsPosted by Andrew Thell on Mar. 26, 2008 at 7:08pm in MLB

The Knicks vs. the Heat: The NBA’s Worst to Prove Who Can Out-Tank Whom

March 26, 2008

Quentin Richardson and Jamal Crawford do the Loser DanceCall it ping-pong ball madness, blatant tanking, or simply disrespecting the game—at 7:30pm this evening in New York, two teams will take the floor that share one unified mission for these last 12 games: to lose as many of them as possible.

Unfortunately, one of them has to walk away a winner, ergh, loser, so there promises to be plenty of drama during these 48 minutes of precision basketball before either team can slink off the court and back into the dark basement of this NBA season. Tickets are predictably scarce.

In this corner, the New York Knicks, who at 19-51 are now in the midst of their sixth losing streak of at least five consecutive games. Big changes are on the horizon (when aren’t they?), with reports that former Indiana Pacers CEO Donnie Walsh will soon sign a three-year deal to join The Greatest Circus on Earth, though in what exact capacity we do not yet know. Clearly, Isiah Thomas’ power as general manager and head coach figures to be significantly weakened… but that’s all down the road in what will surely be a promising new day for this once-great franchise. For now, we’re more concerned with the Knicks as presently constituted.

Quentin Richardson and Jamal Crawford Photo Credit: Icon SMI

Your friends at Empty the Bench have had the distinct pleasure of attending about 10 games at the Garden this season. Would you believe the most entertaining one was last week’s hotly contested battle with the Memphis Grizzlies? The Knicks successfully lost 120-116, a “victory” clearly aided by Zeke’s inexplicable benching of his best (only?) low-post scorer in Zach Randolph. He claims the move was made so he could further scout his young, talented big man Randolph Morris, whose nickname was given as “The Steal” during the starting introductions. He was awesome: 1-8 FG, 4 points, 3 boards, and 4 fouls in 26 minutes. In that same game, one of the few Knicks who’s not phoning it in every night, Nate Robinson, played 37 minutes… and has now fallen victim to a mysterious sprained knee that’s kept him out of the last two games.

Oh, Isiah—you really should at least try to do a better job of disguising what’s going on here.

The riveting conclusion to this story of NBA greatness after the break…

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3 CommentsPosted by Brian Spencer on Mar. 26, 2008 at 2:01pm in NBA

Reading is Great! Wednesday’s NBA Links

March 26, 2008

Rajon Rondo Makes Reading Fun!

Wages of Wins – Al Horford is our ROY, and the WoW Journal backs it up with the numbers.
AOL Fanhouse – Barack Obama can save the NBA.
ESPN – Chris Webber is set to retire. He was a great player, but it’s about damn time.
Detroit Bad Boys – What if the Detroit Pistons played in the Western Conference?
NBA.com – Somebody give Gilbert some love. Rank him, grade him, he’s ever so good.
NESW Sports – Remembering (a svelte) LeBron James’s first NBA game.
Yahoo! Sports – What’s wrong with this picture? Oh my.
Newsday – “You tell Eddy Curry ‘Get your fat a– in shape or you’re not playing…’”
20 Second Timeout – David Friedman checks in with the NBA Leaderboard, Part XIX.
Odenized – After some initial technical difficulties, Dirk gives us an in-depth update on his status before those technical difficulties rear their head again after the 4:00 minute mark and Dirk turns in some hilarious play-by-play, including a late use of the term “shortbus”:

No CommentsPosted by Andrew Thell on Mar. 26, 2008 at 10:13am in NBA, NBA Fantasy News

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