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Foul Shots

Referees exist to push the game forward in a fair and balanced manner.  They police the players and ensure that everyone is playing properly.  They call players out for cheating or other misconduct, sometimes having to go to the extreme and eject a player or coach from the game.  They need to keep a watchful eye on everything and they need to make calls that are going to make half of the fans watching very angry.  They have a tough job that I don’t envy in the slightest.  Last night the Indiana Pacers lost their battle against the Miami Heat in Game 7, ending their season and allowing the Heat to advance.  They put up a hell of a fight over the series, but it wasn’t enough.  In some instances, one team simply outplayed the other to secure their victory.  In other instances, the game was lost because of the referees.

Mike Montgomery

I’m no basketball expert; I started paying attention to games again when I moved to Indiana about 5 1/2 years ago and I still have to have my husband explain certain things to me.  Basketball is a business and to me, it sometimes feels like the refs have been instructed to favor one team over the other during the finals in order to ensure both teams make it to game 7 and therefore make the NBA more cash by selling more tickets.  Other times it feels as if I’m watching the WWE, where outcomes are determined and the ref is there just to play along and make it look good.

The biggest issue I have is with the NBA players flopping in order to draw the foul.  These are very large grown men who work out on a regular basis and seem to enjoy the tough guy image that comes with being an athlete.  I find it hard to believe that a slight nudge from the opposing team is enough to send one of these men sprawling, yet we see it in each and every game.  I can somewhat understand doing it if someone throws an elbow and it’s in an effort to get out of the way and not absorb the full hit, but I don’t see any reason for it during regular fair play.

flopping

Lebron James stated “It’s kind of the same as when people said I was overrated, I have the same response.  I don’t need to flop. I play an aggressive game but I don’t flop. I’ve never been one of those guys. I don’t need to flop. I don’t even know how to do it. So it doesn’t mean much to me.”  Yet in this video and this montage and in countless other instances, you can clearly see this 6’8″ man throwing himself to the ground like a toddler throwing a tantrum in order to draw the foul and go to the line.  Even when he is shoved, as in this video while playing the Bulls, he reacts with drama and throws himself into a slide.  Come on, I get that the shove was mostly unwarranted but there is no way there was enough force to drive him to the ground and halfway across the court.

Flopping makes a mockery of the sport and costs many good teams an honest win.  According to a 2012 article, “the amount of flopping has become so excessive the NBA Commissioner voiced his disgust stating that flopping was ruining the NBA brand and it had no place in the game of basketball. Flopping has not only decided the outcomes of games but also has impacted the NBA playoff picture and also determined which team hoisted NBA Finals Trophy at season’s end.”  Even so, too many players seem to think flopping is the way to go.  To quote Lebron again, “Guys have been accustomed to doing it for years, and it’s not even a bad thing. You’re just trying to get the advantage. Any way you can get the advantage over an opponent to help your team win, then so be it.”

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Players can and will be fined for flopping, but what is a few thousand dollars to these players?  If a player knows that a couple of flops will win a series, does anyone expect a ten grand fine to be enough to convince a player to stop flopping and lose the series?  If a team is down a few points and the opposition’s defense is simply too strong, a couple of well placed flops to earn foul shots can be the difference between a win and a loss.  The fines can be worth the cost for some players if it means advancing in a series and making it to the finals.  The team is appreciative of the win and the player, although fined and mocked a bit, is rewarded and praised for getting those foul shots and helping win the game.

The beauty of the sport is lost when players flop and refs allow it.  Thanks to multiple camera angles and the ability to replay and slow down the action, the refs have no excuse for allowing flops to turn into fouls and to continue to reward the players who throw themselves to the ground dramatically.  Fines are not enough.  Players should be made to feel ridiculous for flopping and be penalized more strictly than simply giving up a tiny portion of their paycheck.  Flops should not be brushed over and ignored, they should be called out as bad sportsmanship and the flopper (and his team) should not be rewarded in any way for it.  If I was better versed in the game, I’m sure I could offer better solutions for the flopping problem, but I’m just a simple girl who recognizes that it’s the wrong way to go.  All I know is that unless the people who matter change their view and buckle down, we’re just going to see more and more great teams take a loss due to “great” players falling on their ass instead of being strong athletes and properly playing the game.

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Dark Passenger Revealed

After what seemed like an endless wait, Dexter made its triumphant return to our television screens last night.  [SPOILERS]  After toying with the idea of Debra Morgan discovering Dexter Morgan’s secret season after season, last year wrapped with Deb entering the church just as Dexter plunged his knife into Travis Marshall, season 6’s Big Bad.  I’m not ashamed to say that I stood up and yelled at my TV in excitement.  Season 5 brought us close to Deb discovering the truth, putting the two of them in the same room with their final kill.  Deb decided to give Dex and Lumen a running start from the police because she understood and sympathized with Lumen, an abused woman seeking retribution and revenge.  After that close call, I was certain the writers would never allow Deb to see under Dexter’s mask.  Damn, was I glad to be proven wrong.

Season 7 picks up right where 6 left off; Deb was shocked to see Dexter standing over Travis Marshall’s body, wrapped in plastic on the altar of the church.  Dexter begins to pretend to be panicked, claiming Travis attacked him and he didn’t know what to do.  After an internal struggle, Deb agrees to assist Dexter in setting fire to the church to cover his tracks and wait to be called back to the scene to investigate, playing ignorant to what she had just witnessed.  In their hurried state, Dexter’s blood slide falls from his pocket and into an air vent on the church floor.

During the investigation of Travis Marshall’s “suicide,” an officer is gunned down in the street, opening an important investigation for Miami Metro and a distraction for the Marshall case.  Dexter easily embraces his dark passenger and takes matters into his own hands.  His sudden departure from the department, usually overlooked, is noticed by Deb, who then questions Jamie Batista, little Harrison’s nanny, and learns that Dexter takes many late nights “working” at the office.  While Dexter is removing the cop killer from this world and delivering him to the ocean floor, Deb goes to Dexter’s apartment where she finds Dexter’s tools and blood slides.  As Dexter enters the apartment to find it in shambles, Deb sitting in front of the blood slide box, he is asked if he is a serial killer and if he killed all these people.  Having no out, he says yes.

Debra spends the episode putting piece after piece together in discovering who Dexter truly is.  She recalls Dexter’s brother, Brian Moser, the Ice Truck Killer, and the way Brian had Deb on a table wrapped in plastic.  The set up was identical to the way Dexter wrapped Travis and Deb does not see this as a coincidence.  She recalls how Dexter was wearing an apron with plastic sleeves when he killed Travis, dressed in clothes she’s never seen before, which leads her to believe he planned this killing.  She begins to have flashbacks of the night Brian nearly killed her and begins to see that while Dexter did save her, perhaps it wasn’t in his nature to do so.  With the discovery of the blood slides, there is no more denying what she knows and what Dexter has done.

Dexter doesn’t only have Deb to deal with this season in protecting his identity and livelihood.  Louis, a tech at the office and Jamie’s boyfriend, has gone through Dexter’s computer, stolen a blood slide, and mailed Dexter the prosthetic hand from the Ice Truck Killer case.  There is no doubt he knows who Dexter is and it remains to be seen what he will do with this knowledge.  He thinks Dexter is a jerk and it wouldn’t be surprising if he tries to reveal his secret.  The other problem is Captain Maria LaGuerta.  In season 2, when James Doakes was believed to be the Bay Harbor Butcher after Dexter planted the blood slides and set him up before his fiery death, LaGuerta fought the idea to the bitter end, believing there was no way that Doakes could do such horrible things.  After she found the blood slide at the scene of Travis Marshall’s “suicide” and confirmed that no other cases other than the Bay Harbor Butcher case involved blood slides, she is confident that Doakes was not the culprit and seems to be ready to go ahead in finding the real killer.  Doakes always suspected there was something wrong with Dexter and it’s quite possible she could follow his lead and begin to look more closely at him as well.  Jonah Mitchell, the son of the Trinity Killer, has knowledge of Dexter’s true colors, as does Detective Quinn.  Add all of the elements together and Dexter could easily be outed.

I have high hopes for this season and I’m looking forward to seeing what Dexter does to deal with Debra learning about his dark passenger and how she comes to terms with the fact that her brother has an uncontrollable urge to kill.  Will Dexter tell her that their father, Harry, gave him the code to be used to kill only those who have killed others?  Will she understand that he has to kill or will she try to curb his urges to do so?  What will Dexter be forced to do in order to silence LaGuerta and to get Louis off his back and out of his business?  With one more season after this one, there are countless things that could happen and endless possibilities.  Whatever course this takes, I’m definitely rooting for the serial killer to come out on top.

Why I Loathe Lebron

I did not want the Heat to win in the finals because I think Lebron James is a poor excuse for a human being, a shitty team player, and not someone who has the right attitude for success.  I have never stated he lacks ability, simply that he lacks character.  Rather than explain why in MY words, I’m going to give you the why in Lebron’s own words:

“All the people that were rooting on me to fail, at the end of the day, they have to wake up tomorrow and have the same life that they had before they woke up today. They have the same personal problems they had today. I’m going to continue to live the way I want to live and continue to do the things that I want to do with me and my family and be happy with that. They can get a few days or a few months or whatever the case may be on being happy about not only myself, but the Miami Heat not accomplishing their goal. But they have to get back to the real world at some point.”

“I’m a winner.  I’m a competitor.  That’s what I do.  It doesn’t make sense for me to go over and shake somebody’s hand.”

“Even my family gets spoiled at times watching me do things that I do, on and off the court.”

“Me and Nike came up with the concept.  We just ran with it, man.  It was awesome!  It took me about a week to do it.  I was putting on different costumes.  We hit everyone; the older generation, the younger generation, and the ME generation.”

“I’m only one guy.  If I could clone myself, we’d be all right.  But I can’t.”

(on why he didn’t tell the Cavaliers about his departure) “I didn’t talk to anyone personally because I got to a point the last day, I heard so much throughout the whole process.  The last day I wanted it to be about me.”

Lebron stays humble just by being Lebron.”

(on starting in the All-Star game) “It is very humbling for myself.  To continue to showcase my talent, and the same to respect that is humbling.  It is an opportunity for them, the fans, to have their wish list come true.”

Volleyball, I could be pretty good.  After a few practices I could be that striker, or whatever they call it.”

(on Serge Ibaka’s comment that Lebron “can play defense for two or three minutes but not 48) “I don’t really care what he says, he’s stupid.”

(on why #23 should be retired) “There would be no Lebron James, no Kobe Bryant, no Dwayne Wade if there wasn’t Michael Jordan first.  I feel like no NBA player should wear number 23.  I’m starting a petition, and I’ve got to get everyone in the NBA to sign in.  Now, if I’m not going to wear number 23, then nobody else should be able to wear that number.”

“That’s just me.  Being around new teammates, you don’t want to wear out your welcome on Day 1.  But I just can’t hold it back because my leadership skills won’t allow me to do that.”

“Don’t think for one min that I haven’t been taking mental notes of everyone taking shots at me this summer.  And I mean everyone!”

(on why his Nike shoe is better and costs $30 more than Kobe’s) “Because it’s Lebron’s shoe.  It’s got my name on it.  I take pride in having the best shoe.  So they’re going to cost a little more if you decide to wear them.”

(on his child’s mother) “A person like myself always needs a great sidekick.  And she’s that.”

The Main Event: WRESTLEMANIA 28

April 1, 2012, Wrestlemania 28, the main event live on Pay Per View was finally here!  My husband and I made the purchase and set the show to record just in case, watching 50/50 and anxiously waiting for our clocks to hit 7pm and the show to begin.  It’s been hyped up like crazy, adding more matches and controversy on each Raw and Smackdown throughout the week.  I wish we could have been there, but being able to watch live is definitely the next best thing to it.

The first match of the night was between Daniel Bryan and Sheamus for the World Heavyweight Championship.  Bryan stole that title from The Big Show after he had it for maybe 30 seconds.  As Bryan entered the ring and proceeded to yell YES about 50 times, he paused to give his girlfriend, AJ, a kiss.  As he turned back to face Sheamus, he received a boot to the face, went down, and was counted out.  The match lasted 18 seconds and Sheamus walked away the new Heavyweight Champion.  YES!  YES!  YES!

Up next was Kane and Randy Orton.  For some reason, Kane decided to start a feud with Orton.  Not sure why, possibly out of boredom, maybe he was feeling lonely, but the two have been going at it since Orton returned from his injury.  Kane started out strong, pinning Orton a dozen times to the two count.  Orton eventually began to retaliate and it was looking good for him, but Kane delivered a powerful choke slam from the top rope and the poor Apex Predator was down.

The Big Show versus Cody Rhodes was also hyped up quite a bit in the weeks prior to Wrestlemania and I was really looking forward to it.  Rhodes had been mocking Show, mainly because he has never had a victory at any Wrestlemania.  Rhodes is my favorite heel; he’s amazingly good at being hateful without being obnoxious and making you actually hate him.  The match began with Show throwing Rhodes around the ring like a rag doll; I started to feel bad for Rhodes for taking such a beating.  Rhodes finally got the upper hand after knocking Show to the ground, starting to work on his leg and take the big man out.  Sadly for him it wasn’t enough; Show knocked him out and won the Intercontinental Championship!

Finally, it was time for Hell In A Cell; Triple H versus The Undertaker, the end of an era.  I was worried about this match because there’s no good outcome.  If Triple H wins, we’ll continue to see him in the ring which is great, but it means the Undertaker ends his career with a 19-1 streak at Wrestlemania instead of 20-0.  If Undertaker wins, his streak finishes strong, but he also finishes Triple H.  This match spanned nearly an hour and was as brutal as you can imagine; both men were bloody and the Undertaker’s back was badly bruised from a severe beating with a metal chair.  Shawn Michaels, the guest referee, looked as if he was about to cry near the end of the match, watching his friend suffer as both competitors struggled to finish the other one.  My heart jumped at least half a dozen times when it looked like one would be counted out, only to see them roll their shoulder up just in time.  It was honestly hard to watch at some points.  Undertaker managed to find the will and energy to finish Triple H, stretching his streak to 20-0 and was able to walk out of the ring this time around, unlike last year when he couldn’t stand.  Triple H, however, couldn’t get up.  Michaels and Undertaker stood on either side of him, lifted him up, and all three walked out of the arena together.  It was an amazing end.

At some point there was a Diva’s match.  Beth Phoenix and Eve versus Kelly Kelly and a freaking talk show host, Maria Menounos.  It was idiotic and insulting to someone like Phoenix, who is built the way a wrestler should be, to have to go up against these two little twigs.  She was also the only competitor in that match that didn’t do some lame booty shake as one of her moves.  It’s not a stripping competition people, come on now.  The match ended with something that would never happen in the real world; teeny Maria pinning Phoenix.  Really?  REALLY?

Anyway, back to the real events:  Team Johnny versus Team Teddy was up next, the winning team would determine the new general manager for both Raw and Smackdown.  Team Johnny consisted of my favorite, Mark Henry, and 5 other guys I can’t stand, including Dolph Ziggler and the shaved gorilla Jack Swagger.  I was pulling for Team Teddy and their captain, Santino.  The tag team match had competitors quickly entering and leaving the ring, very high energy.  Finally, Team Teddy knocked most of Team Johnny to the ground outside of the ring and Zack Ryder of Team Teddy was close to victory but stopped to do his Woo Woo Woo with hoeski, Eve.  The Miz took advantage of the distraction and won the match for Team Johnny.  It was a let down for sure, but my husband says it makes business sense.  I still don’t like it.

The match I probably cared the least about, other than the divas, was next; CM Punk against Chris Jericho and his lite brite jacket.  Jericho had been attacking Punk’s family for weeks, saying his sister is a drug addict and his father a drunk, that Punk is a bastard because he was conceived out of wedlock.  It was a set of arguments you would expect from a group of 5th graders out on the playground.  A rule was set that if CM Punk was disqualified, he would lose his title to Jericho, so naturally the taunts got worse.  Jericho started out dominant, but Punk gained the upper hand and Jericho was forced to tap out.  I was glad he won only because Jericho annoys the hell out of me.

Then this happened:

Finally, The Rock has come back to Wrestlemania!  The once in a lifetime match between two of the most charismatic men in the business.  After their tag team match against The Miz and R-Truth, the tension has been rising and the feud between these two Superstars has been heating up.  Cena mocked The Rock for leaving the WWE to become a movie star, Rock called Cena a bowl of fruity pebbles, which resulted in him ended up on a box of cereal.  The Rock won the war of words many times over but the feud continued strong in preparation for Wrestlemania.  The match was very 50/50; one would gain the upper hand but the other would soon turn it around.  This was the match that Cena said he couldn’t lose, as once it’s over, he’ll still be here and he’ll lost credibility with a loss.  The Rock also couldn’t lose; how can he come back and say things haven’t changed and then choke at Wrestlemania?  There was so much riding on each of their shoulders, both determined to pull a victory out and show the world that all their words have been truthful.  Unfortunately for Cena, he was wrestling The Rock.  When The Rock wants something, it’s his, and this match was his with an amazing victory to end the night.

This was actually my first Wrestlemania and I loved it.  I’m planning to get there next year, somehow, because I want to be a part of the excitement first hand.  We’ll be saving this on our DVR for quite a while.  On a sidenote, the Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards aired on March 31st and at the end, Santino referees a match between The Big Show and The Miz.  Check it out if you get a chance.

The Dark Passenger’s Ride

WARNING:  This contains spoilers for multiple seasons of Dexter.  Please do not proceed unless you have either watched the show through season 6 or you have no interest in watching it in the future and being surprised by anything.

My husband and I were busy watching WWE: Tables, Ladders and Chairs on pay per view Sunday night and I just couldn’t make myself stay up past 11pm to give my full attention to Dexter.  I was deathly afraid of someone ruining the surprise for me all day on Monday and shut Twitter down so that no one could spoil the ending for me.  My husband had the ending of Season 4 ruined for him; a coworker told him that Rita died at the end, so he had to go through that whole amazing season knowing that Rita would die at the end.  Considering how jaw-dropping her death was for me, I had no intention of letting any loud mouth give away even the smallest detail.

Season 6 was a bit odd for me in the beginning.  Debra’s relationship with Quinn dissolved when she was promoted to Lieutenant.  Most of her storyline revolved around her therapy sessions which finally resulted in her therapist suggesting that she was in love with Dexter, her step-brother.  The “big bads” of this season were on a mission from God, which obviously involved the deaths of many innocents.  Dexter, through developing a camaraderie with Brother Sam (played by Mos Def) and through investigating the Doomsday killings, began raising questions about faith and believing in God or another higher power.  Maria LaGuerta, now separated from Sergeant Batista, spent the majority of her time being a cutthroat bitch for lack of a better term.  There was a lot going on and it was difficult to see how things would come together.

Season 5 left me a bit disappointed; Dexter’s relationship with Lumen ended once they dispatched the last of her rapists and he was again left alone.  That season wrapped up nicely, which was in direct contrast with the end of Season 4.  They also toyed with the idea of Deb finding out Dexter’s secret, but of course there was no danger of it being revealed.  It was definitely a letdown for me.

The Season 6 finale began with Dexter hitching a ride to shore after he was nearly killed in the middle of the ocean by Travis Marshall, one of the big bads and truly the only one after it is revealed that his teacher and leader was dead the entire time.  At one point, I feared that Travis was going to get away, as Dexter seemed to almost give up on finding him.  Travis was hardly done with Dexter, however, and kidnapped his son with the intent of using him as a sacrifice.  Fear not, the writers weren’t as bold as to kill poor Harrison; Dexter saved his boy and loaded Travis into his SUV to deal with later.  While Travis didn’t succeed in completing his final tableau, he did manage to murder a cop, giving Deb something to beat herself up over.  She rushed over to her therapist and admitted that her theory was correct, she did in fact love Dexter as more than a step-brother and desired to tell him how she truly feels.

The creep factor is high on this one; the step-siblings grew up together.  Then again, this IS Deb and she does tend to be irrational.  Having requested earlier that Dexter visit the church that was home for the Doomsday killers, she immediately headed over to reveal her feelings to her brother.  Meanwhile, Dexter has Travis wrapped in plastic on a table in the church, toying with him a bit as he prepares to plunge a knife through his chest.  As Dexter is talking, Deb enters the church and it’s painfully obvious that she can clearly hear Dexter and is completely confused as to what is going on.  Just as Dexter’s knife slices through Travis, Deb enters the room and has a perfect view of her step-brother, the man she is in love with, murdering the man the entire police force has been chasing.  And now, we fade to black.

I was bouncing around on the couch like a kid who ate one too many pixy sticks as the season came to a close.  After the total lack of fear and anticipation I had in Season 5, I was giddy beyond belief to see this amazing turn of events.  The show has toyed with Deb finding out in a few ways, one of which was Dexter imagining all the ways she could possibly react to the news.  Having it actually happen was just what this show needed.

So what now?  We already know that Dexter will be back for two more seasons and will most likely wrap for good after Season 8.  I trust the writers enough to feel confident that they won’t do something ridiculous like have Deb lose her memory or have the whole thing be some sort of dream sequence.  Deb finally knows Dexter’s secret and has seen his Dark Passenger in action.  I can’t imagine her reacting well to this; she is highly emotional and flies off the handle at the drop of a hat.  At the same time, I feel that she will also feel comforted by this.  Deb has always desired to know more about Dexter and now she has seen him as naked and open as she possibly could have.  This will also explain a lot to her about things she has been insecure about in the past and in the present, such as why their father spent so much time with Dexter and why he is so guarded and closed off.

That being said, Deb is a cop and I’m not sure how well it will sit with her knowing that her brother is the Bay Harbor Butcher and is responsible for all those bodies that were discovered in Season 2, as well as many many others that were never found.  How will she react knowing that her brother murdered Trinity and is somewhat responsible for Rita’s death.  Will she forgive Quinn for suspecting Dexter since it’s obvious now that he was right?  Will she put the pieces together about Doakes and his untimely passing, coming to the conclusion that he was right about Dexter as well?  Will she do what is right in the eyes of the law or will she do what is right in the eyes of a loved one?

I’m going to have to let the season closer marinate a little before I draw any conclusions.  I am quite curious to hear theories and thoughts, so please share with me what you believe will happen from here.  At this point, I don’t believe anything is off the table.  What about you?

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