Hey, Felger: It's LeBronapalooza!

Hey, Felger: It's LeBronapalooza!
July 15, 2010, 11:16 am
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By Michael Felger

So what's the deal with Jacoby Ellsbury?

Read on. None of us are doctors, but we all stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night.

Felger,I watch you every day. You always say the Celtics were six minutes away from a championship. I would like you to rephrase it to, "They were 18 free throws and two travels away." The Celtics shot 17 free throws compared to 35 for Los Angeles. The Lakers made 12 in the last six minutes and Gasol traveled twice in the last six minutes. The officiating changed the outcome of the game. Here are the calls that were complete bull:

If there is a way to put this on your show, please do. Thanks for taking the time to watch this.

Tim

Is this you, Tommy?

Mike,I know we've discussed the WWE nature of the NBA. I mean, LeBron has his own entrance with talcum powder flying; KG is banging his head off the goal standard; the officiating is somewhere between inept and corrupt; there are wheelchairs coming out for phony injuries, and everybody has their own stage name. I used to rebel against this, but last week's hour-long LeBron spectacle was my "this is sports entertainment" moment. In that vein, I think this was Hulk Hogan becoming a heel. Initially, everyone rebels against the very thought of it, and in the end it is the greatest, most compelling thing that could have happened during free agency. LeBron just made himself look like an unlikable dink, a self-serving villain of the Eastern Conference, and that is compelling. Friendly rivalries don't do it for me, and I have never wanted to root against a team more than the South Beach playboys who have just turned their team into Showtime East.Just think of the drama that might come from this, Mike. Much like the Cavs last year, the media has already crowned these guys. Even better, they have crowned themselves as well. As LBJ landed in Miami last Friday early in the morning, he Tweeted, "the road to history begins now." Other than an hour-long special the likes of which we have never seen before, I don't know what tangible accolade he has contributed that leads him to believe that he should be counting championships before they hatch. What happens if the Heat don't win the title next year? How about for two years? Imagine the pressure. What if they win just one in five years with the "Super Team"? Even better, what if they win, but Dwayne Wade is the MVP? Imagine the jealousy residue stemming from the second fiddle on your team being the guy with "Chosen 1" and "The King" tattooed all over him. Chosen to do what, LBJ: Be the greatest wingman of all time?
The villain often makes the movie. I don't know what kind of villain LeBron is going to make, but I like the previews.Peace,JakeBoston

Way to embrace it, Jake. I've been saying for years that the NBA is simply not a league for serious sports fans. And last week was just the latest example of it. But that doesn't mean it can't be interesting on certain levels. You have to admit, "The Decision" may have been phony and a disgrace, but it was compelling. The drama was real at least to us at home. And you're right, they're going to be a fun team to beat.

I hold the NBA in such low esteem that my outrage over last week just wasn't that great. The bar was set pretty low to begin with. The league didn't have far to go to hit rock bottom.

Felger You DB!Well, it's official. The NBA has stopped pretending and has officially become wrestling. That is the only reasonable explanation for the Association allowing LeBronapalooza to happen.And to put the event into the correct wrestling parlance, it was the quintessential example of a Babyface "turning heel." Usually it's done at a major PPV or TV special in a fashion as shocking and dramatic as possible. Hulk Hogan turning heel on a PPV in the late '90s single-handedly resurrected the wrestling business. Now we get LeBron, in his own prime time Piper's Pit, smashing a Coconut over the head of Cleveland and "taking his talents to South Beach." All that was missing was John Elway showing up, high-fiving the King and pointing into the camera laughing manically. And you know what, Mikey? David Stern couldn't be happier. You think he gives a toss about Cleveland? Please. He learned his lesson by wasting Duncan in a worthless market like San Antonio. Sending LeBron to Miami is a win for the NBA in two ways. First, it's a gain just in terms of market size. And secondly, and more importantly, it has galvanized the rest of the NBA humanoids against LeBron and "the new big three." Anything and everything related to Miami will be a ratings bonanza. In wrestling, reality TV and even the news, people love seeing someone they hate fail and will tune in religiously for that opportunity. Four weeks ago a scenario in which the country embraced Kobe, Gasol, Artest and Phil Jackson was either wild fantasy or would have required JaMarcus Russell to drive a tanker truck of Purple Drank into the nation's water supply. Now all that's required is for the Lakers to face the Heat in Wrestlemania, er the Finals. MikeAttleboro

Isn't it amazing how chronics think alike? Jakey and Mikey sitting in a tree . . .

Anyway, your contention that the Association "allowed LeBronapalooza to happen" is absolutely correct. Stern easily could have stopped that thing if he wanted, either through his connections with Disney or his ability to fine players and teams for failing to act in the best interest of the game. No commissioner in sports has more control over his league. It was within his power to stop it. So his claims afterward about it being "ill-conceived" are garbage. He saw the ratings from last Thursday. Mark my words, that atrocity was just the first of many.

Felger,Do you think the addition of Jermaine O'Neal will help the Celtics get older or better? Last game he played against the Celtics in their playoff series he went 1-for-13. I'm not sure if that's Celtics defense or he's just pulling a LeBron in the playoffs. TimNew Haven CT

Don't sell him short, Tim. O'Neal went 3-for-10 that final game, which turned out to be his BEST shooting night of the series. Previously he went 3-for-14, 1-for-10, 1-for-7 and 1-for-3, respectively. That's 9-for-44 for the series (20.4 percent).

Let's all say it together: Green 18!

Felgy,Couple quick things:1) I recently called the Big Show and challenged the crew over downplaying the severity of this Perkins injury. It's the worst of the recent knee injuries sustained by Boston athletes -- that's just to put in context -- because it involved damage to his PCL. How many NBA athletes have returned from PCL injuries? Perhaps I just don't have all the information, but this has the chance to derail KP's entire career. How could he damage 3-of-4 knee ligaments, including the PCL, and return in December? Talk some sense into that weenie Tanguay. 2) Even though many found the prospect of Cliff Lee joining the Yankees frightening, I'm MORE frightened that they DIDN'T close that deal. A team with that kind of capital, buying power, and resources, combined with the fact they are becoming more methodical, is troubling.Thank you.
Greg
Manchester, NH

I agree with you on the Perkins injury. In analyzing the O'Neal signing, the Green Teamers talked as if he was just going to hold down the fort until Perkins got back. As if Perkins was going to be the same guy and simply pick back up where he left off upon his return. Talk about whistling past the graveyard. Perkins may return to action next season, but there's no telling what he's going to look like.

On the Yankees, you make a good point. In the past, they would have upped their offer to beat Texas and get Lee. Now they're dealing from a position of strength and won't make a bad deal just for the sake of making it. If I'm the Red Sox, I take no comfort in that.

Hey Felger,Consider the following:Nomar Garciaparra (Mexican American), Manny Ramirez (Dominican American), Pedro Martinez (Dominican), Jacoby Ellsbury (Native American).What do these four gentleman have in common, Mike? They range in ability from good- to Hall-of-Fame levels, and they all played for the Red Sox. They all had horrible relationships with the largely WHITE media in this town.By the way, Ellsbury's been out one week longer than oil's been spewing into the gulf under the watchful eye of your hero Barrack Hussein Obama. Sure hope he and the wife are able to take a little time to get over to the Vineyard this summer. Lord knows, he deserves it.Didn't you have to take a day off a couple of weeks back due to the sniffles? And you're questioning Ellsbury's pain threshold?WalterFranklin
First of all, I missed a day of work last month thanks to a case of strep so severe the doctors wanted to donate my throat culture to science. Seriously. Had Jacoby come down with that strain we wouldn't see him for a month. Few have suffered as I did. That was a sore throat to end all sore throats.

Anyway, you're claiming Ellsbury is getting criticized because he's part-Native American? Really?

Felger,I broke my rib several years ago. It took six months for the pain to completely go away. You cannot compare it to any other injury or even someone else's broken ribs. They are only healed when they are healed. The media has made this into a much more sinister situation than it needs to be. Do you honestly think that Ellsbury does not want to play? I doubt it.You are helping to chase a great ballplayer and a nice kid out of town.Rich G

Ellsbury cracked his ribs both front and back on April 11. That means it will have taken at least 14 weeks for him to return. Call me crazy, but that seems a bit much.

Felger,We aren't on Week 13 for Jacoby. You have to reset the clock from when he went on the DL again -- because he was playing with BROKEN RIBS. Also, ribs can routinely take eight weeks to heal.RyanBrighton

Ah, you want to reset the clock from when he dove for that ball in Philadelphia on May 22? Why would you want to do that? He was very clear in saying that he didn't suffer any broken ribs on that play. For whatever reason (probably because he wanted to make the Sox' doctors look bad), Ellsbury was very clear in telling us all of his broken ribs were suffered in that original, April 11 collision with Beltre.

So, sorry, Ryan. It's coming up on 14 weeks.

Felger,

Two things:1. How does one back rib not heal at the same rate as three front ribs if you are resting accordingly?2. Who of sound mind dives for a fly ball in a rehab start coming back from broken ribs?This is more on Ellsbury than on the organization.Dan

Your first question is an excellent one. Ellsbury somehow tried to sell the fact that the reason he had to go back on the DL is because the Sox misdiagnosed the broken rib in back. But when it comes to bruised ribs and broken ribs, the treatment is exactly the same: Rest. Typically 4-6 weeks. And when Jacoby returned the first time it was at the end of the sixth week. The front ribs were apparently healed, but the back fracture wasn't? How?

I don't agree with your second point at all, though. If a center fielder is going to shy away from diving after a ball because of an injury, then he shouldn't play.

Felger,I played hockey my entire life. One injury I had was three broken ribs and a cracked sternum. Four weeks later, I was back on the ice playing in games. Now I know not everyone can have the same skirt and pantyhose that Jacoby wears -- but come on. Three months. Sally.Matt

My family just bought a puppy and my 6-year-old daughter named it "Sally Pally Lemon Tally." Just thought I'd point that out. Anyway, you nail the bottom line nicely. Fourteen weeks.

Felger,Jacoby was ticked because he knew that if they hadn't moved him to center field, which he didn't want to do, the accident wouldn't have happened. He took his time coming back for spite.BobMethuen

A perfectly reasonable conspiracy theory.

Hey Felger,Does Rob Bradford say anything negative about a Red Sox player?VictorWest Roxbury

You're leaving out the manager, general manager and owners, Victor. But I kid. I miss my former boss and the mangina on his chin. The Tanguay and Dickerson jokes just don't go quite as far as that growth on Rob's face.

Hey Felger,What are your thoughts on what Belichick has done this offseason? Do you think he's done a good job addressing the needs and re-tooling this team or has he simply been too passive and not done enough? What are your biggest concerns going into the season?I personally don't think he's done enough to address some of they key issues with this team last year. I think he's made some questionable decisions. I think he should've looked into trading for Cromartie or Boldin more than he did and brought in a different cheap vet who has something to prove at RB like Larry Johnson in favor of MorrisTaylor. I don't think the pass-rush issue was addressed, either. I love how the Pats trade a 3rd (and a 5th, mind you) for a washed-up bum like Burgess, but don't want to trade a 2011 3rd for a guy like Cromartie, who is a proven talent in his prime. Instead, they waste another high pick on a CB with McCourty instead of using that pick to find a guy who can come in and be a force at OLB.Also, where is the pass rush going to come from? Banta-Cain is a rotational rusher at best, Burgess is a year older, Adalius is gone, Crable can't be counted on, and Cunningham is a rookie. I don't think Bill has done enough to fix the biggest issue that faced the Pats last year.Brandon

The Patriots "insiders" tell me the rush is going to come from a more aggressive scheme. I'll believe it when I see it. The personnel is what it is at this point, and when it comes to getting after the quarterback, it's not pretty. The only prayer is for Mayo to turn into a real force attacking the pocket and for McKenzine, Crable andor Cunningham to emerge beyond what we expect. I'm not optimistic.

Overall, I think the Patriots are managing this season for what it is: A transition year. The single most important factor over this period will be how many of their draft picks pan out. The Pats had four selections in the second round in 2009 (Patrick Chung, Ron Brace, Darius Butler, Sebastian Vollmer). They had a first (Devin McCourty) and three seconds (Rob Gronkowski, Jermaine Cunningham, Brandon Spikes) in 2010. They have two firsts next year. If a title-contending core doesn't emerge out of that group, it's over.

Unfortunately, I think the other thing that's gotten in the way is the labor battle. Brady would be done, and perhaps another big name would have been signed, if not for that.

Felger,Stop trying so hard. You're not funny. You just come off like an ass. I wish Comcast would fire the whole staff and keep Mike and Tommy. The Celtics are the greatest franchise in sports and we have the worst analysts in the world. Tell Tanguay and Donny Marshall they suck as well.ScottHartford

Is that you, Bradford? Dale?

The Michael Felger role in Sports talk is very interesting. I hate this guy, which is unfortunate because I like the energy he brings but too often I feel like 98.5 has become the MSNBC to WEEI's Fox News. Felger was the guy once battling the old titans Borges and Cafardo during the Bledsoe-vs.-Brady wars in 2001. He became popular somehow using this contrarian status and pushed the boring Greg Dickerson out the door. Now if Holley could only push Tanguay permanently out the door at Comcast we'd have a tandem.But now Felger has become the Chris Russo of the Boston sport market. He'll have Borges on to call the Patriots and BB liars, but never refutes anything Borges says. He is anti-Celtic and NBA and a full-fledged Patriot basher. For some reason he is pro-Red Sox except when he thinks they are cheap. Cheap is his big thing, everyone is cheap. And finally the Bruins, he's a shill on that station, which has way more Bruins calls than it should. Hockey in July is borderline inappropriate. The Bruins have a spot in this town and a small but rabid fan base. And that base calls the radio, but it is not reflective of the market in general.As for Felger and Mazz: It's a terrible combo, because Mazz has become the contrarian as well. It worked at WEEI, where the backrubs of Boston teams had become common. But its boring radio to have two guys bashing the local sports scene. Tony's big thing is to bash the Red Sox, that's where he differs from Felger. So overall given the success of the teams, I find the late-afternoon shows very disappointing because they don't really attack the issues objectively. I think Holley, Zolak, Gresh and Dale do a much, much better job on a daily basis analyzing the issues, whereas Felger is pretty much the same shtick every day. Patriots are cheap, Brady wants out, blah, blah, blah. Bruins are losers, but I love them and will talk about them for hours. Basketball is stupid and I don't understand it but I'll talk about it. The only debate of interest ever is with the Sox because they will take different sides, Mazz is always anti-Sox. Still talking about Teixeira.But the Big Show is too complimentary and I think their deals with the local teams is the problem. They give the Sox and Pats a pass too often, don't talk hockey, and the Celts talk is biased when they are playing well and non-existent when they aren't.Your thoughts on my thought? George

George sent this to me last week and got it posted on the Boston Sports Media site as well. I thought I'd respond to a few items here.

George says he hates me, and I don't doubt that. Yet he's obviously been listening intently, because he's got me and the rest of the radio scene down pretty good. He's also been e-mailing me for years, responding to what I've written on this site and others. So he's a good reader, too. And I'm sure he shares his feedback with many others in the market as well. I guess what I'm driving at is that George, for all his criticisms, represents our lifeblood. I consider him a friend, not an enemy. Seriously. Keep it coming, Georgie.

The only thing he got truly wrong is the part about me being a shill for the Bruins. I may be a shill for hockey, true. I may be an advocate for that sport, yes. But if he thinks I suck up to that team, then maybe he's not listening or reading as closely as I gave him credit for. Believe me, I want the B's to do well because it allows me to talk about a sport I'm passionate about. Plus, I want the radio station to make it, and the B's going deep in the playoff helps. But if you told anyone in management with the Bruins or the Sports Hub that I shill for the team, I think they'd spit up their coffee.

Finally, one criticism that Georgie could have included but didn't is the fact I get a lot of vacation time. And I'm about to crush it. The bag is about to take a small hiatus. Maybe I'll grow a mangina with all the extra time.

Felger is off next week. His next column will appear Tuesday, July 27. Email him HERE and read his next mailbag on Thursday, August 12. Listen to him on the radio weekdays, 2-6 p.m., on 98.5 FM the Sports Hub.