Ya, I couldn't think of a more clever name for my first post so... whatever. Today is the 4th of July and like the last 3 I'm spending it in Orem, UT. My sister Suzanne is here for the weekend so I'm happy to have her around. She's been here since Thursday afternoon and we've had a fun, busy weekend since. Thursday was kind of the lazy night since all we did was go out to Sizzler for dinner. The steak was good but I'm debating whether the shrimp I had led to my lack of sleep that night. Friday's activities included tennis and my brother Doug's weekly movie night. I think it's safe to say that none of us are tennis players, because I was arguably the best one out of the 4 of us. For me to be the best at anything athletic in a group doesn't say much for the group. Friday night we had pizza from Papa John's for dinner. My sister Christine did something that had me wondering. She didn't eat the crust from the pizza, but she ate the breadsticks that we got. Maybe this is just my opinion, but don't the breadsticks from Papa John's taste exactly like the crust? For our movie night, we watched The Italian Job (in HD on Doug's projector). I think that was about the 5th time I've seen that movie. For me to watch a movie that many times says a lot. This morning Suzanne and Christine were in Sandy hanging out at Christine's boyfriend's parents' house (that's a lot of apostrophes). I figured they wouldn't be back for a while so I went ahead and played ultimate frisbee like I do most Saturdays. I had a few good catches, but some terrible throws. I don't know what it was but this morning it just seemed hard for me to run too. This afternoon we went to Timpanogos Caves. That was pretty cool so I recommend it to anybody that hasn't been. I took some pictures which I plan to upload to Facebook later (facebook.com/bpjohnson). I was told that the caves would be cold, but after the long hike to get there I was actually not cold at all once we were inside. Hiking has become more of a hobby for me recently as it's great exercise and Utah has a lot of nice places to go. We had a BBQ in the evening with burgers and dogs and then went down to Provo to see the fireworks. I actually fell asleep as we were driving back to Orem since it took us an hour. Thankfully Doug's truck has a TV monitor in it so we watched a few Simpsons episodes on the way back. Now I'm back for the night and I just finished doing the dinner dishes since I was too lazy to help at dinner time. So that's how I spent my 4th of July.
The following section is intended for sports fans so non-sports fans can quit reading here:
As far as sports news goes, I think it would probably be most appropriate to talk about the unfortunate death of Steve McNair. McNair spent most of his career as the quarterback for the Tennessee Titans. He played in a few pro bowls and led the Titans to their only Super Bowl appearance. McNair was always a guy who was well respected by his teammates, the media, other players throughout the league, and fans. My first memory of McNair was in 1995 when he was drafted by the Houston Oilers. I was living in Houston and my friends were excited for the possibility that he was going to turn the Oilers around. McNair went on to have a great career, even though the fans in Houston didn't really get to be a part of it after the Oilers moved to Tennessee in 1997. McNair was always a guy that I respected and wanted to see do well, even though he played for Bud Adams who is now the nemesis of football fans in Houston. During his entire career, I don't remember there ever being any incidents with teammates, coaches, the media, or off the field. He was basically everything you could hope for from a pro athlete. As of this moment, nobody really knows who shot him or what any possible motive might have been but whatever the circumstance, this is a gross crime and there is no justice in this lifetime for whoever did this.
After McNair, it's hard to go on with anything else, but I do have some opinions about other news in sports. The NBA offseason has already been busy with several big names moving. The trade I think will have the most impact at this moment is Richard Jefferson going to the Spurs for Bruce Bowen, Kurt Thomas and Fabricio Oberto. This deal is essentially a salary dump for the Bucks who are now tied to contracts that expire at the end of the upcoming season rather than Jefferson who's contract I believe runs until 2012. What this does is it gives the Spurs another guy on the perimeter than can score which will really help the Spurs since Manu Ginobili seems to be hurt more often these days so Jefferson can step in and give them the offense they need. Shaq was the biggest name that was moved, although it is questionable how much impact he can have at his age. He had a productive year with the Suns this year, although it wasn't good enough to get the Suns into the playoffs. The other big name that moved was Vince Carter. I don't have a particularly high opinion of Vince because he has in the past admitted that he basically quit on the Toronto Raptors before they traded him to New Jersey. I've also heard speculation that he's been a guy that doesn't get along with teammates very well. He's going to the Orlando Magic as essentially a replacement for Hedo Turkoglu, who the Magic are almost certainly lose to free agency. I don't like this deal for a couple of reasons. For one thing, I think the Magic had something really good going with the team they had and would have had a better chance of getting back to the Finals and possibly winning if they kept that team together. In sports, when your team has a window of opportunity for a championship, you do what it takes to keep that team together even if financially you have to be in the red for a few seasons. If you do win, the team does make a fair amount of money from the playoffs and if you show the organization is committed to winning, the fans will often stick with the team even during a rebuilding process. As far as I'm concerned, the Magic are risking their ability to be a title contender on a guy with questionable character, and hurting the depth of the team in the process, just to save some cash. In other news, the Lakers and Rockets aren't trading Ron Artest for Trevor Ariza, but it looks like they are going to be switching teams. For many, Artest is going to be one more reason not to like the Lakers, although I believe the Lakers come out better as long as Artest doesn't have any meltdowns. He was one of the reasons why the Rockets were able to push the Lakers to a 7 game series in the playoffs as a nuisance to Kobe Bryant and the Lakers other perimeter players. Ariza's biggest impact on the Lakers playoff run was most notable when they played the Denver Nuggets and he hit several 3 pointers and made big steals in games 1 and 3 of that series to help the Lakers win. Without question though, Artest is the better player. The biggest upside with Ariza probably going to the Rockets is the fact that he is much younger than Artest, which is probably good for the Rockets because they may be forced into a rebuilding mode soon with Yao's future possibly in doubt. I also believe the Artest move solidifies the Lakers position as the favorite to win it all next year.
In baseball news, there isn't much. I don't follow baseball that closely until the pennant races really start heating up. For now, I just want to say that it's a bunch of crap that Manny Ramirez got to play minor league games during his drug suspension. This is a terrible precedent as Manny was able to play live baseball for a minor league affiliate of his team. He should serve the full 50 games with no activity with any team that is affiliated with Major League Baseball in any sort of way. If he or the team decides he needs to go through the minors to get the timing back on his swing or anything like that, he can do that after the 50 games are served. As far as I'm concerned though, Manny basically served a 40 game suspension.