NBA history lesson and Dave Roberts’ folly

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The NBA scam: From its inception in 1949 the NBA has been the most noncompetitive league in professional sports.

From the outset it was dominated by the Minneapolis Lakers. Then beginning with the 1956–57 season after Red Auerbach made the trade with the St. Louis Hawks to get the draft rights to Bill Russell (giving up star center Easy Ed McCauley and the rights to Cliff Hagan, both of whom contributed to making the Hawks one of the best teams in the history of the NBA) the Celtics dominated until Russell’s retirement in 1969.

The 1970s comprise the only period during which no team dominated and the league was actually competitive. But it was also enormously boring which resulted in fans staying away and TV ratings declining.

Then came the 1980s and Larry Bird and Magic Johnson and the league was once again popular but once again noncompetitive as the Lakers and Celtics dominated.

In the 1990s it was Michael Jordan/Phil Jackson’s Chicago Bulls that dominated. After Jackson moved to the L.A. Lakers, the 2000s saw the Lakers dominate, winning five of the 10 titles. Today, similar to the ‘80s, there are only two teams out of the 30 presently in the league that have a chance to win the title, Golden State and Cleveland.

The 82-game regular season is a mockery. The games are basically meaningless because only the very worst teams in the league fail to qualify for the playoffs. The playoffs themselves are relatively pointless because virtually everybody knows that the finals are going to be between Golden State and Cleveland. Right now the only interest is the series between Houston and San Antonio. But what difference does that make? Golden State is an odds-on favorite to beat either one easily. As for the East, there is no team that can measure up to Cleveland. For the record, as of this writing, neither Golden State nor Cleveland has lost a playoff game this year.

Roberts’ folly: A while back Dodgers’ manager Dave Roberts made the statement that regardless of how well rookie sensation Cody Bellinger hit, weak-hitting Joc Pederson was going to get his job back because Roberts didn’t believe a regular should lose his job due to injury or illness, and Bellinger would be given a ticket back to the bushes. This type of reasoning shouldn’t surprise longtime Roberts-watchers. Had Roberts been managing the 1925 Yankees instead of Miller Huggins, Wally Pipp would never have lost his job to Lou Gehrig.

But Bellinger has been such a star; even Roberts won’t be able to send him down.

Roberts somehow loves people who can’t hit. Peterson is inked in as his starting center fielder despite his .208 batting average, which is a pretty accurate assessment of his ability to hit major league pitching. As puzzling, 26-year-old infielder Chris Taylor changed his swing over the winter, had a sparkling spring, and is presently batting .353 in part time play. Yet Roberts insists on starting ancient Chase Utley at second base, maybe because of his .100 batting average. Young, vibrant and .353 vs. old, creaky and .100? You make the call.

To make matters even worse, despite a plethora of talented hitters on the bench Roberts sticks with Yasiel Puig in right field. Puig is a spectacular fielder with the best arm I have ever seen on a right fielder. But he is still playing only because of his spectacular start when he first appeared on the scene a few years ago, and hope springs eternal. Then it was discovered he had a weakness for a low breaking curve in the dirt on the outside. Now, however, his weakness seems to be a waist high fastball down the middle. But he looks great when he swings and misses by a mile and then acts petulantly. Call me crazy, but his arm is so strong and accurate I think they should try to convert him into a pitcher.

The bottom line is that Cody Bellinger should be the first name inked in on every lineup card Roberts makes out and Taylor should be a regular, also, until the pitchers find some way to get them out, which I doubt will ever happen. I thought Bellinger might have a weakness for a high fastball. Then I saw him blast a high fastball into the upper deck.

Tony Medley is the author of three books including “UCLA Basketball: The Real Story,” the first book written on UCLA basketball. Visit TonyMedley.com.

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