I realized over the course of my trip to and from the Magic's victory over the Wizards that there are two things in this world that I have nothing but scorn for, and both of those things I'd never really considered: Tony Battie and the DC Metrorail.
The enmity for the Metrorail is pretty straight forward. It's inefficient, slow, they never have enough trains running, the maps of the larger individual stations make no goddamn sense, it's loud, it smells, there are no bathrooms anywhere, and they never seem to plan for major events, such as having extra trains running through the Chinatown station(the station directly beneath the Verizon Center) during and after concerts and games at the Verizon Center. This isn't exactly rocket science. But there I was sitting on a platform at L'Enfant Plaza, the biggest station on the Metro, for 27 goddamn minutes waiting for the next Orange line train. I'm convinced there was only one Orange line train running all night.
The other thing is equally obvious, but deserves some explanation. We at TPASTBM clearly love the Magic. We wouldn't update this site, or have even created it, if we didn't. But there will always be exceptions. None of us ever had much love for Brian Cook, for instance. But it's very possible I'm alone amongst our crew in hating Battie. But the truth must be told.
Tony Battie came into the game last night and was, for reasons that mystify me, tasked with guarding Antawn Jamison, who was already heating up offensively. I have several problems with this:
First, Tony Battie isn't quick enough to guard Jamison. He just isn't. It's like asking a penguin to fly. Total physical limitations will always beat out desire, and it's not like Battie ever seems overwhelmed with desire(more on that later).
Second, the story on Jamison has always been "Scores 20, gives up 25". By putting Battie in the game at the 4, and subsequently putting him in the position to be guarded by Jamison, we conceded the first half of that commonality, while completely abandoning the second. Why the hell would we do that?
Third, and most importantly, I can't remember a scenario where I've ever seen someone play so lazy and so irresponsible as a big defending the pick and roll than the way Tony Battie does. I say "does" rather than "did", because during my near half hour break between subway trains at L'Enfant last night, I remembered that I had a conversation 2 years ago about how Darko Milicic should be getting Tony's minutes during the 2007 playoffs, since Hamilton and Billups were killing him on the pick and roll due to his blatant refusal to make a show of any kind on the defense. I kept imagining him having the following conversation with his guards for the entire series:
Guard: "Tony, you have to show on the pick and roll. I can't run straight through a man twice my size,"
Tony: "I have to stay on my man. McDyess can go off for 40 any given night."
Guard: "Antonio McDyess hasn't been a threat to score 40 since the Clinton administration! Do your job!"
Tony: "Hey man, don't talk to me like that. I'm blue collar."
Guard: "No, you are most certainly not blue collar. You get paid over 5 million dollars a year, and you're not even that good at your job. An auto assembly worker is blue collar, and if they were as mediocre and overpaid as you, THEY'D be fired. You're just lacking in real skill."
All that came back into my mind as I watched Tony Battie blow a pretty basic assignment on 3 consecutive possessions. It's not that difficult. If your man sets a pick for the ball-handler, you have to show against the ball-handler, to give your teammate time to recover. And yet, there was Tony, not even LOOKING at Nick Young on 3 consecutive possessions, giving Young a straight shot to the basket, resulting in an assortment of fouls and a dunk that energized the home crowd. But at least Oleksiy Pecherov was never a threat to score.
And that doesn't even speak to his contributions on offense(minimal), his passing(non-existent), his shooting(ugly and inconsistent), or his general lack of interest in putting up meaningful numbers. Unless a rebound bounces into his hand, he won't get it. Unless the ball comes directly to him, he won't get it in the offense(and if it hits his hands, it's 90% positive he's shooting it, his lack of shooting touch be damned). He is more and more rivaling the worst of the worst on the team for sole possession of the "Worst team defender" on the team, which is one of those awards you try to avoid. I know, sometimes I get confused too.
And he's going to make 6.2m next season, which is more than Nelson, Pietrus, and Alston. Or if you prefer: Tony Battie will make more money next season than JJ, Lee, and Johnson combined. I think I need to go lie down.
Question of the day: Why is it that no one slashes into the paint when Dwight is double teamed? Those are gimme assists that we simply avoid.