From The Cheap Seats

As a confirmed Yankee-hater, the news that they had traded David Wells for Roger Clemens did not go down well. Five years ago Toronto was a big market team, one of the elite, rolling in bucks. Now they've become a feeder franchise for the big boys. They should've told Clemens that they couldn't make an acceptable trade and let him pitch for them, as he signed to do. Instead, the greatest team ever has now added one of the greatest pitchers ever. He may be 36, but he's in peak form. I tend to root for the great players, as greatness is a rarity in the world, but as I said a couple of months ago, I hope this ploy doesn't work for him. Is that ring really going to mean that much, piggybacking on a team that would've won it without you?

Examined as a trade, the effect is smaller than it might have been. It reduces the chance the Yankees won't have the best record in the league from 5% to 1%. Wells was about 50-50 to be mediocre this year. At his best, he was nearly a run worse per game than Clemens. At Clemens worst, he was about as good as a typical Wells season. There was a real chance of their not having an ace starter -- Wells could've returned to being a mediocrity, Cone's arm may be unable to take the pounding, Pettite may be past his best efforts, Hernandez might not be as tough the second time around. Adding Clemens takes care of that problem.

But in the playoffs, Wells was indeed an ace. Unbeatable at home, damn tough on the road, he was a different pitcher…as Clemens has been, in the other direction. Maybe there's hope that this won't help them where it matters most.

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Ike Quartey was indeed in shape for the fight, and for most of it, gave Oscar de la Hoya a boxing lesson. I don't care how two of the judges scored it, Quartey was winning the fight by a sizeable margin going into the last three rounds. Any doubts of that should have been dispelled by looking at de la Hoya's swollen face in the latter rounds. Quartey bloodied his nose, battered his face, controlled the fight, yet, as the scorecards stood, he needed a big 12th round to win.

Ah, the twelfth round…a thing of pugilistic beauty. You know, there are those who want the scores posted at the end of each round, so that everyone can know how the fight stood. If that was the case, Oscar would've entered the last round knowing he was ahead, knowing he couldn't lose unless he was knocked down. He would've been careful, as he had been for most of the fight. Instead, not knowing, he went after it. He attacked with everything he had, knocking Quartey down, then pummeling him for a minute after he got up. Quartey waved his arms during that barrage, creating the illusion of not being helpless, but he took somewhere in the area of twenty solid shots in that minute. Had the ref been Richard Steele, he would've stopped it, but he wasn't there, so the fight continued…sort of. We've all heard the term "punched himself out", but never have I seen it so perfectly illustrated as in this fight. With a minute and a half to go, Oscar was done, he couldn't throw another punch with anything on it. So he backed off, and Quartey, nearly out on his feet, tentatively moved toward him, not sure whether de la Hoya was done, afraid to counterattack, probably unable to throw any serious leather himself. So they stared at each other, feinting, but not punching, until the bell rang.

The scores were a bit surprising to me, as I had it scored a draw, but I suggest you watch it on HBO tomorrow and judge it yourself. Any doubts you may have had about Oscar de la Hoya's heart will be gone.

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NJW (Next Jordan Watch): Stephon Marbury had 40 points, 12 assists and no turnovers against the Rockets Wednesday night -- pretty damn Jordanesque, if you ask me. Grant Hill has been solid, but is starting to complain about lack of effort from his teammates. Which leads me to write a little poem:

Brian Williams is now Bison Dele
Which doesn't make him better, really
His teammates better help Grant Hill
Or the Pistons will stay run-of-the-mill.

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NBA Notes: Vin Baker has helped the Sonics get off to a good start, but is an astonishing 1-20 from the foul line. No, that's not a typo, 1 for 20. I assume teammate Hersey Hawkins, one of the best foul shooters in the game, is made ill while watching that. Maybe he can get lessons from Shaq.

Tuesday night, Vancouver won a double OT game against the Clippers. Wednesday, they played a triple OT game against the Celtics. Good thing Mike Bibby and Sharif Abdur-Rahim are young.

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