Thursday, January 24, 2008

Media pokes, dumb team names, etc.

With a slow time as we await the Super Bowl and the start of spring training, with a little bit of basketball and other sports thrown in, it's time for some links.

-- The WNBA announced today that its newest franchise will be the Atlanta Dream. According to a story on the new Dream Web site, the nickname was chosen because "Atlanta is a city of dreamers and this week we have had time to reflect on what it means to dream and what can happen when you do," according to owner Ron Terwilliger.

All this does is continue to make a mockery of a league that despite the deep-pocketed support of the obviously more successful NBA, still continues to struggle for respect as it enters its 12th season. After all, we're talking about a league that already has team names like the Chicago Sky (Motto: Stand tall), Detroit Shock (which goes for the double dumb title with a "HERstory" section on its Web site) and Connecticut Sun (named for the casino the team plays at).

Then again, we are talking about the NBA here, with its own, um, interesting names like the Utah Jazz (granted, the end result of the move of a team from New Orleans, but it doesn't make sense now), the Miami Heat (old joke on this is what's the singular of "Heat?" Hot?) and and its D-League teams like the Iowa Energy (it could've been worse - Corncobs was a finalist) and Bakersfield Jam (it sounds like a bad video game name).

I guess all of the cool animal names have been taken (Hold that thought - The Chicago Wolves' parent team is the Atlanta Thrashers, a rather non-threatening bird that I believe was chosen by founder and environmentalist Ted Turner because it is a threatened species).

-- Another poke at the New York-Boston regional network otherwise known as ESPN and other like-minded networks, from Pray for Mojo.

-- I watched much of last night's Bulls-Pacers game while checking out the NBA League Pass free preview on DirectTV. The game, won by the Bulls 108-95, came courtesy of 38 points from Kirk Hinrich and with two of their better players, Luol Deng and Ben Gordon, out with injuries.

This has been what can be kindly called an inconsistent season from a team considered to be a favorite to go the NBA Finals this year. In January alone, they've had great wins over Miami (126-96 on Jan. 16) and Detroit (97-81 on Jan. 19)., but losses to freakin' Atlanta and a pathetic home loss on Jan. 18 to Golden State.

But maybe a turnaround is possible. The team nearly disintegrated earlier this month when rookie Joakim Noah was suspended for one game for fighting with interim coach Jim Boylan, then had the sentenced lengthened to two games by a vote of the veteran players. Noah then apparently had a blowup with veteran Ben Wallace following a 102-88 loss to Orlando on Jan. 16.

The more I think of this chain of events, the more I get to thinking about last year, when Cubs pitchers Carlos Zambrano and catcher Michael Barrett fought in the dugout and clubhouse on June 1 and manager Lou Pinella was tossed from the game the next day. The Cubs, mired in a 6-15 slide at the time, turned things around and managed to win the NL Central title in the last weekend of the season.

Granted, the Cubs completely shut down in the playoffs, getting swept in a quick three games by Arizona (and denying me a chance to watch some Cubs playoff baseball with my newborn son at home). Hopefully, we won't see that with the Bulls.

Then again, they could just prove me wrong and we'll be paying so much attention to the Cubs and the Bears' draft in April that we won't care about the Bulls by then.

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