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The Outer Midnight Zone
2005-06-29 00:01
by Ken Arneson

Do not click away. Do not close the window. We are in control of your browser.

Consider, if you will, a team that looks like the worst team in baseball one month, and then suddenly turns around and looks like the best the next. What kind of twisted mind writes a plot like that? The author is going mad, and trying to take the audience with him.

* * *

And if not mad, then sick. My wife and kids are all suffering from bad coughs; when I'm around them, I feel like I need to cough, too. I am I getting sick, too? Or is coughing psychologically contagious in the same way that yawning is?

* * *

How weird is it that the voices of Tigger and Piglet died on the same weekend? And as someone who was born on the very day that Disney released the first Winnie-the-Pooh film, it kinda freaks me out. They say...but I won't.

* * *

To sound a happier note: they say that winning is contagious, and I will, too. Last night, Barry Zito finally caught that victory virus that's been afflicting the rest of his team. For the first time in ages, his mates didn't screw up a well-pitched game, and he picked up that fourth win he should have had a long time ago.

* * *

More happy notes: my new Nikon D70 Digital SLR camera arrived today. Haven't had time to play with it much yet, but I already love it. Plenty of pictures to come, I'm sure...

* * *

Pictures, meet weirdness: can someone explain to me why several fans at the Coliseum last night were holding giant, four-foot-tall cardboard cutouts of the head of Paul Giamatti?

They didn't show any giant cutouts of baseball players: no Barry Zito heads, no Eric Chavez heads. There weren't superstar actor cutouts of Tom Cruise's head or Russell Crowe's head or Harrison Ford's head. Nope, just giant Paul Giamatti heads.

Why Paul Giamatti? Sideways or not, Paul Giamatti is a classic Hey-It's-That Guy, the kind of actor you recognize but forget his name.

The stands of the Oakland Coliseum during an A's game was almost as bizarre a place to find a picture of a semi-famous actor as the whole Colin Mochrie / fanimutation thing.

* * *

I missed Ichiro's leadoff home run against Zito, because I was (a) playing with my camera, and (b) flipping back to the NBA draft to see who the Warriors were going to pick with their two second round picks.

* * *

I'll watch any draft, in any sport, anytime. I have no idea why; I just love 'em.

I can't help but think that Chris Mullin could have traded down a few spots and still ended up with Ike Diogu. I saw only one mock draft anywhere that had Diogu higher than 15th: Dick Vitale had him pegged to the Warriors at 9. Many other drafts I saw didn't even have him going in the first round. Part of the art of drafting is picking the right player, and part of it is maximizing the value of your pick.

The Warriors lack the kind of inside presence that Diogu supposedly will provide, so it sounds like a good fit, if Diogu can actually play. If he can, then Mullin is a genius. Very few other people had him rated that high. I've had a sneaking suspicion for awhile now that Mullin, unlike a lot of GMs (and darn near every Warrior GM ever), can tell a real player from a stiff. Diogu is the ultimate test of that theory.

I was looking back at all the Warriors first round picks since Mullin joined the front office. Since 2001, the only mistakes the Warriors have made have been passing on a high school player (Amare Stoudamire) or two. When you look at where they've been drafting, and how all the players below their picks turned out, they've really done a darn good job at picking the best player available.

I half-expected the Mullin to grab a European player with the second-round pick, since he seems to like them so much, but instead he went for a high-school player (Monta Ellis) who needs to bulk up and a college player (Chris Taft) who probably came out a year too early. Good picks for second-rounders; they each have flaws right now, but Tremendous Upside Potential.

* * *

Every draft has one: the guy expected to go in the top six or seven, who ends up plunging to the end of the first or the second round. 2005's top draft-droppers: Aaron Rodgers (NFL), Luke Hochevar (MLB), and Gerald Green (NBA).

Bill Simmons is probably so giddy about Green falling to the Celtics at 18 that he's having trouble getting his running draft diary written, just like that guy in that movie who was at a complete loss for words because he was so surprised he got the girl he had been longing for that he couldn't come up with a metaphor based on a motion picture to explain how being happy about being so surprised about getting the girl had made him speechless, but I could be wrong, just like that guy in that TV show who thought he was doing the right thing but in a twist of cruel irony at the end turned out to be doing the very wrong thing he had been trying to avoid, but it would be very hard to explain how exactly I was wrong because at that point the plot becomes so convoluted that you need a small, devilish author (another Hey-It's-That Guy whose name you can't remember) from the Outer Midnight Zone to show up and explain everything with a quick elegant summary, which we don't have, so you'll just have to do without and assume I'm correct until proven otherwise in the morning when this long nightmare is over.

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