The Daily Six Shooter April 13, 2011

1. “It was stupid.”

That’s what Josh Hamilton said after the game when describing his 3rd base coach instructing him to tag up on a foul ball that didn’t get past the infield. It’s also what every fan was thinking immediately after seeing the play because it was pretty stupid. Although, it was a stupid move by both Hamilton and his 3rd base coach.

In the first inning, you’re not scrapping for runs. It’s the top of the 1st. You don’t know how the game is going to play out and taking unnecessary risks like a tag on an infield foul ball is overly aggressive, especially for a team producing runs at the rate the Rangers are. The hottest hitter in baseball, Nelson Cruz, was up next. What’s more likely, that Hamilton successfully pulls off the daredevil tag-up or that Cruz drives him home?

But the onus is also on Hamilton, who got to the World Series last year and was the ALCS Most Outstanding Player. You’ve been in plenty of situations where you had to make tough decisions out in the field on much bigger stages than the 2nd week of the regular season. You should have been able to figure out on your own that tagging up there was a really bad idea and held back. You should have realized that the catcher didn’t nearly have to cover as much ground as you to get to the plate and that Cruz was up next to try to drive you in anyways.

Now Hamilton is going to miss 6-8 weeks with a broken bone in his shoulder. Texas is really going to miss him, but maybe not too much. David Murphy has been pretty impressive in his turns as a pinch-hitter and late-game sub with an OPS of close to .900 and plenty of experience in the outfield.

2. When Oklahoma City finally beat the LA Lakers at the Staples Center, Kobe Bryant dismissively asked Kendrick Perkins, “Are you happy about this win?” He asked as if to demean the victory, like the Lakers weren’t trying hard and the loss didn’t mean nearly as much as the win meant for the Thunder. After the Spurs B Team pushed the Lakers to the brink with four key players riding the bench and LA losing Andrew Bynum to an injury because he had to play for a win and not rest his injured knee, I wonder how Kobe would respond if asked…

“Are you happy about that win?”

I was really surprised at the toughness that the undermanned and overmatched Spurs showed in LA last night. It was fun to watch Tim Duncan on the bench so into the game and cheering on his teammates as the Spurs held the lead in the 4th quarter and pushed the Lakers to the brink in the final minutes. It was also somewhat comical to see Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, and the Lakers crowd pumped in the final minutes as the team made one last run to close out the game, as if they were doing it against the full San Antonio Spurs team and not one that resembled a summer league team or the Austin Toros of the NBA Development League.

This was a Lakers team that said that they were going to come out and play with a new determination because two wins would clinch the #2 seed in the West. So either the Lakers will be even more hindered than everyone thought without Andrew Bynum or the Spurs really are the best team in the NBA as a result of last night’s outcome. It’s likely a combination of both, but it’s certainly not the result anyone could have imagined before the game started.

One thing is for certain, Gregg Popovich looks like a genius for sitting his guys while Bynum gets injured and won’t be nearly the same guy he was when the Lakers looked unstoppable.

Photo by Bradford Harrison

3. As for the playoff seeding implications of last night’s game, the Lakers clinched at least the #3 seed and can’t fall down to the 4th spot because of their win over San Antonio. They own the tiebreaker over the Dallas Mavericks for the #2 seed, so they just need a win or a Dallas loss to finish in that 2nd spot.

Meanwhile, Dallas has to beat the New Orleans Hornets tonight and hope Sacramento pulls off an upset when they host the Lakers tonight. It’s a stronger possibility than usual because the Lakers will be without Bynum in the 2nd game of a back-to-back set and it should be an inspired crowd in what could be the final Kings game in Sacramento ever.

Ironically, Jason Terry said that even though a Spurs win would help Dallas last night he wasn’t rooting for the Spurs, but San Antonio is sure rooting for the Mavs against the Hornets. A Hornets loss plus a Memphis Grizzlies win over the LA Clippers would switch their current playoff seedings, dropping New Orleans back down to #8 and bringing Memphis up to #7.

Memphis has given San Antonio fits this season and their size wouldn’t just be trouble for the Spurs, but any first round opponent. The Grizzlies are 9-4 in their last 13 games (should be 10-4 after beating the Clippers) and have lost consecutive games just once since the trade deadline. While there’s something dangerous about nearly every Western Conference team, the one consensus is that everyone would love to play a depleted Hornets team that is without David West. The Spurs have beaten a better New Orleans team in the playoffs in the past and would relish a chance to play them in the first round this year.

4. San Antonio is tied for the best record in the NBA with Chicago and the #1 overall seed could literally come down to a coin flip between the Bulls and Spurs. But, as Mike Monroe of the San Antonio Express-News writes, don’t expect to see any Spurs receive any awards or show up on any lists.

5. While no one can be sure about what the NFL season will be like next year or even if there is going to be an NFL season, if the labor agreements can be accomplished in time then the Dallas Cowboys will hold their full training camp in San Antonio at the Alamodome, according to Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News.

6. The Houston Astros are officially NOT the worst team in baseball as the Boston Red Sox lost again last night to the Tampa Bay Rays and the Astros defeated the Chicago Cubs. Houston is surprisingly scoring a lot of runs while Brett Myers is the only pitcher not struggling. Richard Justice of the Houston Chronicle is happy to see at least a little glimmer of hope for this season.

About Javi Perez

Javi Perez is a contributing editor with Playmaker Magazine heading up the sports desk, as well as covering the San Antonio Spurs, Dallas Cowboys, Houston Texans, film, and TV. He currently lives in San Antonio.