C800 2009 Yankees Outlook: LF

Chasing800 is going to look at each position and give you insight and opinion on the current situation and what may loom ahead. Today we will look at the Left Field.

Left Field:
Johnny Damon seems as the likely candidate to get most of the playing time in LF. He is entering the last year of a four-year contract that he signed prior to the 2006 season. Last season, Damon proved he was again one of the elite lead-off hitters in the game. His defense in LF is better than average in my opinion and he's better suited there, than he is in CF. His consistency at the plate will keep him in the line-up in some capacity, even if it means he gets a few days at DH.
On the days Damon isn't in LF, Hideki Matsui and Nick Swisher will be there. Matsui is looking to bounce back from an injury-plagued 2008 in which he only played 92 games. I'm optimistic in thinking he will have a solid season. Matsui will get the majority of his at-bats at DH because the Yanks want to keep his knees healthy but I believe he will still be a key player for the Bombers this season. Swisher was the starting First Baseman before Mark Teixeria signed in December but he's now been reduced to a part time role, mainly in the outfield. Swisher should provide reliable defense in LF and a decent bat at the bottom of the order when he's playing.

Chasing800 Prediction: Damon has another solid season in LF, in his free agent walk year, I expect him to bat around .315 14 HR 78 RBI. His speed is not what it once was, but I expect around 20-25 steals and to play above average defense. I don't see Matsui getting much time in LF, and I see Swisher being a nice back-up. Yankee fans shouldn't worry about this position because they will get production and defense from whoever is out there.


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Yankees Cap Gets A New Look For '09

The Yankees will wear a new hat this season to commemorate the inaugural season in the New Yankee Stadium. It will have a patch on the back of the hat instead of the side. It's a little weird that they would place a patch on the back of the hat but it's not a bad logo. It will just get a little getting use to. Here are some photos of the new design:






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Yanks Win In Spring Opener

Today, there was actual baseball played. No more talk, it was time for business. Spring Training offically began today as the Yankees played their first game of the spring.
Some highlights of today's game against the Toronto Blue Jays was Brett Gardner hitting the second pitch of the game for a homerun. Alex Rodriguez also went yard, as he hit a 2-run shot in the 4th innning. The Yankees won the game 6-1. Derek Jeter, Robinson Cano, and Nick Swisher were the other "main" Yankees that played in today's opener. Mark Teixera should make his spring debut tomorrow.

Manager Joe Girardi announced his rotation today, he said it was going to go as follows: CC Sabathia, Chein-Ming Wang, AJ Burnett, Andy Pettitte, and Joba Chamberlain. This rotation makes the most sense as the Yanks want to seperate the power arms of Sabathia and Burnett and they want to limit Joba's innings. Things might change as the season gets closer but for now Girardi has things set.

Not much of a reaction for A-Rod today when he came to the plate for the first time, but some boos were heard when he hit the homerun but that's expected. This will be an interesting thing to keep an eye on as Alex travels from city to city.


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A Day Of Fun In The...Poolhall?

Spring Training is under way and the Yankees are eager to make sure the team is ready for Opening Day. After a week straight of workouts, manager Joe Girardi called for a day off and an afternoon of fun for the Bronx Bombers.

Girardi wants to build a better relationship with his players than he had with them last season and this, was a step in the right direction. He took his guys to play pool. Now this, you don't see everyday. I have to give the manager a round of applause for this. It's a nice way to get the guys to bond and get to know one another off the field and lt loose for an afternoon and not have to go through the everyday stress of baseball.

Here are what some Yankees had to say about Girardi's idea:

Johnny Damon:

"It was a great day. We’ve been at spring training for a week and Joe came up with a great idea to get us together as a team. It was great to break up spring training a bit, get the team together, get some camaraderie there.

“I think everybody had a great time. We got to see who’s been spending too much time at the pool hall and we know the ones that don’t spend enough time in there.

“For Joe to let us take a day off from practice like that, it makes you want to work even harder for him.”

“Camp has been going great so far. We all have been rallying around each other, having a good time in the clubhouse. Today is one of those days that, as a ballplayer, you’ll never forget. I don’t think any team has ever really done this. It’s a day I’ll never forget. It says a lot about Joe. He knows we’ve been working hard and he rewarded us with a day off.”


Mark Teixeria:

"It was great. That was probably the most fun I’ve ever had in spring training in my whole career.”

“I thought it was a great idea. We’ve been working really hard – the pitchers a little bit longer than the position players. We had a good week of practice and we’re going to start games here soon, so I think Joe just wanted to give us some time off.”

“I’ve never have (heard of a team doing something like this), but I think more teams should. This was a great time, great for all of us to get together.”

“There were probably 16-18 pool tables, there were some card tables, we had darts, we had guys playing dominos and we had lunch also. Everyone was just having a good time.”

“It makes you relax and realize that we can have fun off the field. Once we get on the field, it’s business, but we can build some relationships as well.”

“Usually during the season, you get to hang out with guys because we’re always on the same bus or the same plane. Our schedules are identical. In spring training, you don’t go on trips together, the pitchers have different schedules than the hitters and the hitters are in different groups, so there might be a couple guys you don’t get to know at all.”

In case you were wondering, Mariano Rivera won both pool tournaments the Yankees held amongst themselves. Not bad Mo, maybe he has another career lined up after baseball.


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Network Us!


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Don't forget to join us for our Tuesday Night Chats! Live at 8pm at www.ChasingRecords.com.






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Jeter's Bachelor Days May Be Over

The following news may upset a lot of females out there. There's a rumor swirling that Derek Jeter might be getting married to his girlfriend Minka Kelly. This rumor came about from Hideki Matsui.

Last season Matsui, Jeter, and Bobby Abreu made a bet as to who was going to get married first. Matsui got married last year before the season began, thus leaving Abreu and Jeter behind. Jeter said he didn't have a girlfriend so the bet was extended for him an extra year. That year is about to be up.

“We’ve got a bet going,” Matsui replied. “If he doesn’t get married within a year, I win the bet. Basically the bet was, whoever gets married first wins. Jeter said he himself doesn’t have a girlfriend, so he’s getting a one-year handicap” Matsui said last year.


Most people, myself included found this hilarious. Derek had a different take on it:
“That’s not hilarious, that’s sad, that’s real sad,” Jeter said. “If he wanted the money, all he had to do was ask. He didn’t really have to do it.”

Abreu earlier this week signed with the Los Angeles Angels and apparently didn't uphold his end of the bet.
“Bobby left without paying,” Matsui said.

Bobby was expecting a hefty contract this winter and didn't get it. He might have to give Matsui an IOU until the Angels come to the Bronx. Jeter's bachelor days may be numbered.



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Jeter's Bachelor Days May Be Over

The following news may upset a lot of females out there. There's a rumor swirling that Derek Jeter might be getting married to his girlfriend Minka Kelly. This rumor came about from Hideki Matsui.

Last season Matsui, Jeter, and Bobby Abreu made a bet as to who was going to get married first. Matsui got married last year before the season began, thus leaving Abreu and Jeter behind. Jeter said he didn't have a girlfriend so the bet was extended for him an extra year. That year is about to be up.

“We’ve got a bet going,” Matsui replied. “If he doesn’t get married within a year, I win the bet. Basically the bet was, whoever gets married first wins. Jeter said he himself doesn’t have a girlfriend, so he’s getting a one-year handicap” Matsui said last year.


Most people, myself included found this hilarious. Derek had a different take on it:
“That’s not hilarious, that’s sad, that’s real sad,” Jeter said. “If he wanted the money, all he had to do was ask. He didn’t really have to do it.”

Abreu earlier this week signed with the Los Angeles Angels and apparently didn't uphold his end of the bet.
“Bobby left without paying,” Matsui said.

Bobby was expecting a hefty contract this winter and didn't get it. He might have to give Matsui an IOU until the Angels come to the Bronx. Jeter's bachelor days may be numbered.



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Mo Ready For '09 After Painful '08

Yesterday Mariano Rivera addressed the media and let them in on a little secret...he was pitching through a lot of pain last season.
"I felt it all day," Rivera said. "I don't want to go through that again....It was painful but I did it," said Rivera, who said the worst days were the ones when he pitched more than an inning or for the third game in a row."

It was quite the season for Rivera in 2008, it was possibly the best season of his career. Rivera had a 1.40 ERA and allowed only 41 hits over 70 2/3 innings. He struck out 77 and walked six while recording 39 saves. To Mo, it wasn't such a great year because the Yankees failed to make the playoffs for the first time since Rivera came aboard 14 years ago.
"I look at how we finished," he said. "To me, personally it was a year we didn't go nowhere."

With the new additions to the team this offseason, the Yanks look poised to return to October baseball in 2009.
"I can't wait; it's going to be an exciting year. We have a great team to bring a championship to the new Stadium."

Rivera is coming off of shoulder surgery this winter and is a question mark going into the season as to whether he will be the same Mo we have all come to know and love.
"I will find out when I get to the mound. I feel good; my shoulder feels great. But I haven't thrown."

That's no surprise, Rivera is known not to pick up a baseball during the offseason and it hasn't affected his control or arm strength.
"Ultimately he's a question mark," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said. "All the reports are good, but you just don't know."

Based on Mo's track record, I wouldn't worry. He's one of those guys you may take for granted because he's always so good, so hopefully this year is no different. Another 30 plus save season is awaiting Rivera and hopefully some October baseball.


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Sometimes people need to think before they open their mouths. I wasn't going to mention this but it's such an ignorant opinion I feel the need to address it.

This past week Houston Astros pitcher Roy Oswalt was very critical of Alex Rodriguez in part due to his admission of using steroids. Ok, so were alot of people. Here's what Oswalt said:
"A-Rod's numbers shouldn't count for anything," Oswalt said in a phone interview with MLB.com. "I feel like he cheated me out of the game."

Did Oswalt forget his Astros were led to the 2005 World Series by Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens? Two men who were using performance enhancing drugs combined for about 30 wins that season. Come on, are you serious Roy?
"It does bother me," Oswalt said. "Especially for the guys that went out there and did it on talent. We're always going to have a cloud on us, and that's not fair at all.

"The ones that have come out and admitted it, and are proven guilty, [their numbers] should not count. I've been cheated out of the game," Oswalt continued. "This is my ninth year, and I've done nothing to enhance my performance, other than work my butt off to get guys out. These guys [who took PEDs] have all the talent in the world. All-Star talent. And they put times two on it.

"I'm going out there with the ability God gave me. They have that ability, too, and they're putting something on top of it."

While with the Rangers, Rodriguez was 3-for-5 against Oswalt with two doubles, one home run, three RBIs and two walks. Last year, as a Yankee, Rodriguez was hitless in two at-bats against Oswalt.
"The few times we played them, when he got hits, it could have cost me a game," Oswalt said. "It could have cost me money in my contract. He cheated me out of the game and I take it personally, because I've never done [PEDs], haven't done it, and they're cheating me out of the game."

Did I fail to mention that Oswalt's Astro teammate Miguel Tejada is going to court because he lied to Congress about PED's? Oh, I think Roy forgot that too. This is an example of when a player should just keep his mouth closed and just play the game. While I understand his logic behind his rant, it's not justified because that 2005 team won because of the use of HGH and in Clemen's case, "steroids" (which has still been unproven but given the evidence against Clemens in his case against Congress, it appears to be a given Roger took PED's).

Unbelievable. It's time people stop worrying about the steroid scandal and start worrying about the upcoming season, sorry Roy but you just made yourself look bad here. Nice try, better luck next time.


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Now, It's Time For Baseball

A lot has gone on this week regarding Alex Rodriguez and steroids. I'm a little tired of all the talk about it, hence the inactivity of the blog since Monday. I don't think it's necessary to state my opinion over and over again or cover everyone's opinion. I think we all have our views on the matter and there is little room for changing that.

Of course anything A-Rod does is big news but some of it is really not worth covering but it's interesting to see the fascination with Alex. Now that Spring Training is under way we can start talking actual baseball. Alex is suppose to report to camp on Tuesday and sometime this week will hold a press conference based on his admitted steroid use. I hope once he addresses the media that he can focus on the task at hand, winning a world championship. I hope the media and the fans do the same. That is asking alot, especially from the media but I hope Alex can put it behind him and this won't be a season long distraction.

With the World Baseball Classic set to start in just a few weeks, the focus will eventually turn to actual baseball games being played. I, for one, can't wait. It'll be an interesting 2009 baseball season all across the board.
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Coming To The Defense Of Alex Rodriguez

A week before Spring Training starts we have one of the biggest scandals to ever hit baseball. Yea, it's that serious. Just as things looked to be getting away from the whole steroid talk Sports Illustrated comes out with an article on Saturday morning telling us that Alex Rodriguez tested positive for steroids in 2003. On top of that, the head of the Major League Baseball Players Association Gene Orza tipped A-Rod as well as other players on when their drug tests were going to take place. This is a HUGE mess and puts MLB in a fragile state just days before the 2009 season is to begin.

I was shocked to hear Alex tested positive. Yes, shocked. Why? Because Alex has always been a consistent .300 35-40 HR 100 RBI guy. Steroids or not, he's one of the most gifted players to ever play the game. Now with the steroid allegations all of a sudden he's a big cheat and he's not worthy of the Hall of Fame? Give me a break! This is a big story only because of the name attached to it and the team he plays for. If the name was Endy Chavez, then would we be making such a big deal? No! That's because people find this a story, A-Rod cheated. Ok, so he "cheated", my guess is he was trying to keep up with the rest of baseball but I could be wrong. It was no secret that most of baseball was on something and no one did anything about it. MLB knew guys were taking steroids but didn't care because they were cashing in, now it's come to bite them in their rear. MLB should find a way to get behind A-Rod in this because in essence his rights were violated. Those results should've never been released. Nonetheless, Alex will prove in the next 8 or 9 years how great he is by still performing at a high level.

We are all human beings and we all make mistakes. Alex is no different. I know many people think he's a machine and isn't allowed to sun bathe in Central Park or hang out with a female while on a road trip but come on, seriously, get over it. Andy Pettitte admitted last year to using HGH a few years ago to heal from an injury. He admitted to being wrong and making a mistake in judgement and all was forgiven. Why? Because he won all those championships for the Yankees. Is that fair? No. Listen, I'm a big fan of Andy's but you can't have a double standard here. If A-Rod didn't make the most money in the game's history would this still be a big story?

Maybe A-Rod tried the steroids once. Don't tell me that you haven't tried some type of drug at least once? Personally I can say I haven't but unfortunately I fall in the minority on that. But does that make the people that have tried certain substances any less of a person, any less of a worker? No. This is America, let the guy do whatever he wants. You pay money to watch him entertain you right? So now because he might've taken steroids, he's a phony and you want answers. Well here's a news flash, we live in a corrupt world. A-Rod taking steroids is the LEAST of our problems. The country is in a finanical crisis and you're worried about A-Rod 24/7. At some point you have to leave the guy alone. We all know how fragile his state of mind can be at times and this could very well get him over the edge. Hoepfull it isn't. Some people will not be satisfied until the man is in a mental institute and out of baseball. Well to those people who are anti-Alex because of this, shame on you. He was the man that represented everything that was good in baseball, now that changes because of a leaked test that was suppose to remain anonimous.

Another point I want to get across is, how in the world is Alex's name the ONLY name leaked to the public? There were 104 names in the paperwork the government got their hands on,104! And ONLY Alex's name is leaked. Give me a friggin break! Four sources confirmed that A-Rod's name was indeed among the names that tested positive in '03. Ok, great but where are the other 103 names? Somewhere in here there's a lie and someone had it in for Alex. The way Alex's name was obtained was just as wrong as him taking the steroids.

The documents of the 2003 tests were suppose to be destroyed. I want to know why they weren't and why the government got their hands on it. Someone in the MLBPA didn't do their job and made sure those documents were destroyed. The MLB Union is not helping A-Rod in this matter, that's a shame. MLB themselves want nothing to do with this either. So basically A-Rod is on his own here. I think Yankee fans should stand behind the man that will be the face of the franchise after Derek Jeter calls it a career. Remember there was no penalty for using performance enhancing drugs back in '03 so A-Rod if he did take steroids, was not breaking any rules. It is also vaguely mentioned that Alex has NOT failed a drug test since. And guess what, he's still producing amazing numbers. You can't tell me they didn't test him in 2007 when he had one of the greatest season known to man with 54 HR and 150 RBI. He didn't test positive then. That means yes, he IS that good and will continue to be.

Alex's next move is huge in terms on how we view the Yankees' Third Baseman. His legacy is tainted whether the SI.com story is true or not. It's a shame that this has happened. As if Alex didn't already have the weight of the world on his shoulders, now this. I'm not excusing his "cheating" but I certainly am going after the hypocrits that are bashing him. One person I have seen that should find a new hobby is the Daily News Bill Madden. He is all over A-Rod and how he should not make the Hall of Fame because of the allegations. Madden also compares A-Rod to Mark McGwire, that's horrid. McGwire is a one dimensional player, Alex is a five tool player, don't insult my intelligence Bill. It's funny how people are quick to switch sides. That's not good journalism. If you switch sides so quick how am I suppose to read your work and see any credibility? It just looks to be that Madden needs to jump on the "A-Fraud" bandwagon. I bet Madden came up with the "A-Fraud" thing too.

A lot of people have jumped to conclusions before we even hear from A-Rod. This story is far from being over so let's see how this pans out ore we place judgement on the legacy of Alex Rodriguez.
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Alex Rodriguez Steroid Admission Interview

ere is the Alex Rodriguez interview with Peter Gammons that aired on ESPN earlier tonight containing Alex's admission of his steroid use. I will post them in parts as they become available.








My thoughts on his interview will come soon as I review the interview and gather my thoughts and facts on the situatuion.
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STATEMENT FROM THE NEW YORK YANKEES

RE: ALEX RODRIGUEZ

“We strongly believe there is no place in baseball for performance enhancing drugs of any type, and we support the efforts of the Commissioner to continually improve the testing process.

“We urged Alex to be completely open, honest and forthcoming in addressing his use of performance enhancing drugs. We take him at his word that he was. Although we are disappointed in the mistake he spoke to today, we realize that Alex—like all of us—is a human being not immune to fault.

“We speak often about the members of this organization being part of a family, and that is never more true than in times of adversity. Alex took a big step by admitting his mistake, and while there is no condoning the use of performance enhancing drugs, we respect his decision to take accountability for his actions. We support Alex, and we will do everything we can to help him deal with this challenge and prepare for the upcoming season.”
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Alex Rodriguez Tested "Postive" For Steroids In 2003

According to Sports Illustrated Alex Rodriguez tested positive for steroids in 2003, his last with the Texas Rangers. SI.com is reporting that they have four sources that told them Alex tested positive for two anabolic steroids.

From SportsIllustrated.com:

In 2003, when he won the American League home run title and the AL Most Valuable Player award as a shortstop for the Texas Rangers, Alex Rodriguez tested positive for two anabolic steroids, four sources have independently told Sports Illustrated.

Rodriguez's name appears on a list of 104 players who tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs in Major League Baseball's '03 survey testing, SI's sources say. As part of a joint agreement with the MLB Players Association, the testing was conducted to determine if it was necessary to impose mandatory random drug testing across the major leagues in 2004.

When approached by an SI reporter on Thursday at a gym in Miami, Rodriguez declined to discuss his 2003 test results. "You'll have to talk to the union," said Rodriguez, the Yankees' third baseman since his trade to New York in February 2004. When asked if there was an explanation for his positive test, he said, "I'm not saying anything."


Well I JUST wrote how everyone should leave A-Rod alone. That didn't last too long did it? Let's see how far this story goes, I'm sure it will take a life of it's own because....well it's Alex Rodriguez. I find this hard to believe because Alex has been so consistent throughout his entire career. We'll have more as this story unfolds.
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Cashman Says A-Fraud No Big Deal To A-Rod

Yankees Genreal Manager Brian Cashman doesn't think Alex Rodriguez will be effected by the Joe Torre book. As everyone knows by now, it is said in the book that players called Alex "A-Fraud". People close to Alex say it's a non issue, so does Cashman.

"He's fine," Cashman said. "It's something he's going to have to deal with."

Every spring A-Rod has had to deal with some type of controversy and this year will be no different. He will again be asked about his relationship with Derek Jeter, something Torre also alluded to in his book. Cash said he's spoken to Alex recently about the book and it's topics and he has no issues with it.
"He's already dealt with stuff like this way too many times," Cashman said of the "A-Fraud" fallout. "It's just another thing for him to swat out of the way."

I agree, we're beating a dead bush here. How many times are we going to ask about A-Rod's status in the clubhouse? He's been here for four years, it's time to find something else to talk about with Alex, or how bout leave him alone for once....well the latter may never happen. As long as the media continues to make A-Rod's every footstep a big deal so will we here on the blog.

Players report to camp on Feb. 17th.
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I'm On WFAN - Joe Torre Book Signing

I went this morning to go buy the Joe Torre book, "The Yankee Years" and had no problem finding it. I bought it at Barnes and Noble on 86th street. When I went to go pay for the book the cashier told me about a book signing Torre was doing on 46th and 5th. I orginally wasn't going to go through the hassle of waiting on line to meet Joe because I would be waiting for hours. I asked when the signing started and the cashier replied "in 5 mins". So I said I might as well go ahead and try, after all it was snowing like crazy so the line couldn't have been that long, right?

Well a few train stops and a few blocks later I reached my destination. Now I had to see what I was dealing in terms of a line and waiting time. I was also trying to do this and make it back in time for work at 3pm so could the unexpected happen? Could I get Joe Torre to sign my book AND make it back in time for work? It was def worth trying. I walked down the block from where Barnes and Noble's main entrance was and turned the corner only to see a LONG line of people who were there before me to get a glimpse of Joe. As I went to the very back of the line optimism was still with me. Just as I settled into my place on line, I was approached by WFAN and was interviewed about the book. I gave my two cents and they were off to interview another person on the line. All in all I didn't get to see Torre or get my book signed but at least I made it on the radio/tv/internet. That made the attempt worthwhile. I'll be posting my thoughts on the book as I go through it. In the meantime, here's the video from today, look for me around the 2:00 mark.
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Kobe Bryant Sets MSG Scoring Record

Last night Knicks fans witnessed history. No, it wasn't anything done by the Knicks. This time the opposition made history. Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers scored 61 points in the win over the Knicks. The 61 points was the most scored EVER by a player in Madison Square Garden. Kobe's 61 surpasses the previous record of 60 by Bernard King on Christmas Day in 1984. Kobe also passed Michael Jordan's 55 points which was the most ever by an opposing player.

The Lakers won 126-117. Bryant was 19-31 from the field and 20-20 at the line. Remarkable. The crowd at MSG went from booing Bryant to chanting MVP at the end of his record setting performance. New Yorkers know a good show when they see one and believe me they haven't seen one in awhile with the Knicks.
"It's a blessing to do what you love and to have moments like this," Bryant said.

Last night marked the the 24th 50-point game of his career. The Lakers were short handed because their big man Andrew Bynum was out due to injury. Kobe knew going into the game he had to pick up the slack, something he did just fine.
"He was on fire from the start and finished the game almost the same way," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "That was a remarkable performance."

I couldn't agree more. Next up for the Knicks: Lebron James and the Cavs. Can Lebron duplicate Kobe's record performance just two nights later? That'll be interesting to watch.
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