Sunday, July 31, 2005
The Flop (Baseball)
1. All in all I have to say it was a little disappointing for the trading deadline pass with a whimper rather than a bang. Big names were floated (Manny, Soriano, Burnett, Hart) but none changed teams. Nothing against Matt Lawton (who the Cubs purchased from Pittsburgh) or Ron Villone but I highly doubt that those players are the extra bump needed to get over the proverbial hump. Conspiciously absent in the wheeling and dealings were the Yanks, Red Sox, City of Los Angeles, Cardinals (heck even the Mets). Yes the teams most likely to go the World Series stayed pat. I'm not entirely sure of the why. My guess is that top teams had depleted a good deal of their farm systems (see Yanks) and that the small market teams were selling high produced the outcome. Should be interesting though if that pattern continues next year.
2. Speaking of flops Peter Gammons was inducted to the Hall of Fame today. I think its fairly interesting and telling that a man primarily known for his association with ESPN was inducted. Someone can correct me but he would probably represent the first tv analyst in the MLB hall of fame. Yes its a sign of the importance of ESPN in the minds of the hall of fame voters but my question is what are the criteria for a tv analysts like Pete being inducted? Its not like he's a announcer that has decade upon decade of connection to a city or even a national icon, Gammons is just that guy that Sportscenter calls in for rumors, a few comments and dare I say back seat driving when it comes to trades or free agents. Does this mean I could be in line for a Hall of Fame award someday?
3. Remember when I said baseball had some degree of parity? Forget it. Who's the realistic contenders for the playoffs this year....basically the same as last year. Boston and New York fighting over the AL East. Atlanta (btw if Bobby Cox doesn't win manager of the year who does?) still in first. Same with the Angels and the Cardinals. Oakland is duking it out with the AL East for the wild card. Sure the Padres are in first because of Bonds "injury" but does anyone think they're a real threat in the postseason. The ChiSox instead of the Twins is my only significant change. Big whoop.
"As a matter of fact" Steven A. Smith's show premiers tonight...any takers? The NY Times article on Steven A. (see above link) was fairly enlightening. Mark Shapiro (executive VP of ESPN) said "People like him and dislike him, but they still watch him. These days, it's hard to find a talent who strikes a chord that way. Polarization is a commodity." And you know what he's right. ESPN values polarization and sensationalism more than actual journalism and insightful analysis and will continue to as long as it gets some sort of ratings exploiting it.
New England lost another steadfast linebacker (Ted Johnson). No team that has lost the Super Bowl has made it to the playoffs the next year over the past 5 yrs or so (things look dire for the Eagles). I think the Bengals might actually breaththrough. Reports out of training camp look like Palmer is looking sharp. Less than 6 weeks until Texas v. Ohio State.
Friday, July 29, 2005
Ok, now I'm really outta here until Tuesday next.
Thursday, July 28, 2005
I figure with so many happy happies abounding it was time for Cheers and Jeers (with a little rum and coke to celebrate)
Cheers: To MJ celebrating his 30th with the Colonel (and possibly Professor Plum) in Colorado with the lampstick or the rope. One of these days I'll figure out who killed Mr. Body
Jeers: To Bobby Bowden not sitting any players when there is several ongoing investigations on assault charges for these players. Paging ESPN any commentary? Somehow I feel if Ohio State did this it you would see Sports Center doing round the clock commentary on Ohio-States lack of ethics.
Cheers: To not having to study for the bar anymore. Congrats to Hart for taking and surviving the bar exam experience. Hart along with Allie will be touring NFL preseason camps in Southeast Asia. Much like Peter King.
Jeers: To Steve Spurrior on my tv. Didn't he quit in disgrace only a few years ago?
Cheers: To Laz finishing up the bar exam today. While he has failed in his duties as commentator the last few months due to the bar I'm sure he'll pick up his duties once he gets back from his tour of several different ballparks
Cheers: To Larry Brown trying to improve the Knicks. There's something unsettling about the Nets being better than the Knicks. It would be like the Clippers better than the Lakers or a sober Pittsburgh Steeler fan.
Jeers: Apparently Nick Saban can reduce a 330 pound man to tears.
Is it time for that rum and coke yet?
1. Hart: A hearty congrats to our fellow contributor, close friend and general good guy. He finished the bar exam yesterday afternoon and is now T-minus a couple of days before he goes on his well-earned vacation with his lovely and talented girlfriend Allie. I call her “Hart’s Texo-Canadian friend” because she’s from Canada but now has roots in Texas. Anyway, they’re going to Southeast Asia (follow their adventures on http://postbartrip.blogspot.com/). So, Hitman, have a good time, be safe, congrats on officially being done with hard-core studying and bon voyage.
2. So Sori: The rumors in NYC are that the Mets are thinking of dealing Mike Cameron, their top minor league prospect (AA outfielder Lastings Milledge) and another piece (maybe a minor leaguer, maybe Kaz Ishii) to the Rangers for Alfonso Soriano. The city seems pretty split about this with half saying that the Mets should do whatever it takes to compete since they’re still in the hunt and the other half saying that Soriano is showing signs of inconsistency outside of the friendly hitting environment that is Ameriquest Field. A survey of his home-road splits does show an interesting and troublesome dip in performance when playing on the road.
Home: 205 AB/66 H/17 2B/18 HR/.322 AVG/.353 OBP/.678 SLG/1.031 OPS
Road: 192 AB/46 H/10 2B/7 HR/.240 AVG/.276 OBP/.401 SLG/.677 OPS
If I’m the Mets, I am seriously stumped on this one. The Mets have one of the worst track records in player trades and free agent signings but they also haven’t developed much from the minor leagues. It’s a double whammy. On the one hand, they acquire a charismatic talent who has shown no fear and can play in NYC. On the other hand, they give up Milledge, who is being touted as a superstar in the future. I guess that’s why they pay Mets GM Omar Minaya the big bucks.
As an aside, what are the Rangers thinking? You have a guy that has a 1.031 OPS at home and you’re trading him? Ok, sure, you have plenty of offense with Teixeira, Blalock and Young, why not ask the Mets for some pitching? It’s not like Mike Cameron and Lastings Milledge will make or break you and it’s certainly not like Kenny Rogers is a guy you can count on to pitch you into the post-season. John Hart, what happened? You used to be so smart.
3. Hideous Nomo: I can’t believe this poor bastard is on our team. This is now his seventh big-league team in 11 seasons (Dodgers-Mets-Brewers-Tigers-Red Sox-Dodgers again-Devil Rays-Yanks). He’s donning Pinstripes because Kevin Brown’s back has given out again. Kevin, do us all a favor and stay on the DL for good this time. Don’t come back, we don’t like you. You suck.
4. Larry Brown: I’ve blogged about him ad nauseam. All I’ll say is Larry, welcome. You are a great teacher and the Knicks have a lot to learn. Here’s to a good experience for both parties.
5. Mountain Time: Tomorrow morning I’m heading to Denver to visit another contributor, Colonel Sanders, and to spend my birthday weekend seeing the Rocky Mountains for the first time. I’ll also be checking out the Phillies/Rockies game at Coors Field. As I’ve done with the Rogers Centre (f/k/a Skydome) and RFK Stadium, I will file my first impressions of this ballpark upon my return to NYC. Coors field will be my 10th stadium out of 30 currently in use. I’ve got a long way to go to fulfill my dream of seeing a game in each park but at least I’m getting one of the tough ones to get to out of the way.
So, other than any comments I may post today, I won’t be joining you for my regular columns until Tuesday, at the earliest. Have a great weekend and, if you’re of age, have a beer tonight toasting to my big 3-0. Send me the tab, I’m buyin’.
Wednesday, July 27, 2005
1) Speed of the game
Nothing moves faster than a hockey puck. There’s always action going on and the new rules are going to speed up the game even more. No more neutral zone traps (or at least they won’t be as effective). If you don’t know what that is, that’s a good thing.
2) 2-line Passing is Legit
The red line will still be visible on the ice, but it will not be used to call a 2-line pass infraction. This means that the goalie can conceivably pass the puck all the way up to the other team’s zone! This destroys the dreaded “neutral zone trap” which has plagued the NHL for the last 10 years. Teams would used to crowd the space between the blue & red lines, but now a team would have to cover all of the space between both blue lines. In order to get the word out, I would hire MC Hammer as a spokesman who could do some kind of rendition on "2 Legit to 2 Quit"
3) Reduced goalie pads = more scoring
Now that the NHL has reasonable restrictions on goalie pads, we will definitely see more scoring, more skill shots on the ESPN highlights, and more goalies losing their sanity, which makes for good TV.
4) Shootouts after OT to end games
To make games more entertaining, shootouts will occur. The winner gets a “W” the loser gets a “L”. Very simple, it’s just like basketball, or baseball except for that one all-star game that ended in a tie.
Together, all of these rule changes will increase scoring, and make the game easier to watch for younger & newer fans. The best thing about the NHL is the playoffs, but its hard to enjoy the playoffs if there are no fans watching.
The only other thing I would do, is to make the puck neon orange. Seriously, making the puck more visible for TV should be a top priority. And I don’t think that Fox should bring back the ominous “blue cloud” around the puck that they had about 10 years ago.
Since Larry’s about to come to the Knicks, I’d like to clear the air with some points that I’m sure I’ve mentioned before.
1. Young players: All sports fans are prone to repeating things they hear on TV or otherwise get from the media, regardless of if it is true or not. I know I’ve done it many times. Anyway, there is a belief that Larry Brown doesn’t like or can’t coach young players. After repeating that mantra mindlessly for a while, I realized that it’s complete BS. Not only has this man successfully coached at UCLA and Kansas, he’s won a national title (Kansas, 1988). College basketball is full of young players – you know, because it’s college.
Moreover, it’s been a while since Larry Brown was even on a team with young players so it’s not like he’s had the opportunity to play rookies but has chosen not to. Using Darko Milicic as Exhibit A in the “Larry and young players don’t mix” argument doesn’t work because a) not using one rookie on a team full of veterans built to win now isn’t statistically significant and b) how do we even know if Darko even warranted playing time anyway? I assume that Larry had Darko running on the court during practice and probably didn’t feel like the guy was ready to play over All-Stars like Ben and Rasheed Wallace or Antonio McDyess. I don’t think Larry had a problem coaching kids then and I’m sure he won’t have a problem coaching them now. Remember, no one put a gun to his head. Larry knew all along when he forced his exit in Detroit that he was going to accept a lot of money to come to a team full of youngsters. I’m sure he’s prepared himself for this and I’m sure he can handle it.
2. Short stays: Larry is the king of moving on. He never stays put and he rarely honors the length of his contract. I honestly don’t care. It is undeniable that he is one of the best teachers of the game and that he always makes his teams better. If he can come to New York and teach the Knicks the things he believes in, namely teamwork, effort, defense and hustle then the Knicks will be better for having him. Two years with Larry is better than 10 years with a mediocre teacher. What happens to the Knicks after Larry leaves is something no one can predict. They might regress and go back to sucking, they might not. It seems to me like a worthwhile roll of the dice.
3. Headstrong players: There is a belief that Stephon Marbury won’t be able to play for Larry or that Larry won’t like having Stephon as his point guard. Again, I think that’s BS. I’m certainly not going to say that it’ll be an easy relationship – both Steph and Larry will struggle at times – but I think it can be a positive one for both individuals. Despite all the headaches Iverson caused, he still came to play every day, played hard, played hurt and gave Larry 100% on game day (insert practice joke here). Steph will do the same thing. Is Steph a shoot-first player? Sure. Does he leave it all out there on the court every night? He does, no matter what non-New Yorkers might say. He’s a tough kid and, media shots aside, Steph doesn’t get nearly enough credit and far too much blame for stuff that he can’t control. Wouldn’t you be a shoot-first guy if the best teammate you ever played with in New Jersey was Keith Van Horn? Has everyone forgotten that Steph took the Suns to the playoffs in the ’02-’03 season?
Anyway, before this posting becomes an all-out defense of Stephon Marbury, suffice it to say that Larry went to an NBA championship with Allen Iverson, considered one of the most headstrong and selfish players in the league. Steph will take his lumps but the Knicks will be putting their franchise guard through an invaluable learning experience, one that I think will benefit the franchise and will help Marbury become a better player. Don’t forget, before Larry Brown, Chauncy Billups was also considered a me-first shooter and now he’s thought of as one of the league’s premier money players.
4. Salary: People are hooting and hollering that paying an NBA coach a salary in the $10M-$12M range is sheer lunacy. I would have to agree with that save for a few exceptions. I don’t think just anyone should be paid that kind of money. I think Phil Jackson and Larry Brown have more than earned it but I’d fall out of my chair if I saw an overrated guy like Rudy Tomjanovich get a deal like that. Larry Brown is being paid to come and teach the young Knicks how to be successful in the NBA. He’s being paid to tutor some of the assistant coaches that he’ll inherit from the previous coaching administration and he’s also being paid to restore some credibility and luster to a franchise that was once one of the league’s marquee teams. Larry’s salary doesn’t impact the team payroll or the luxury tax. This is the team’s owner making an investment in his product and, for once, doing it wisely. Knicks fans should be thrilled that our owner is spending his wealth on someone like Larry Brown.
I’ve just spent 964 words (and counting) on explaining how happy I am that Larry Brown’s coming home. People will disagree, I’m sure, with my debunking of the Larry Brown myths that float around. All I know is that no one, not ESPN, not any print journalist, not any fans or other folks are right when they say that this is a marriage that shouldn’t have happened. It’s win-win for the Knicks and for Larry. The worst thing that happens is that the Knicks don’t improve at all and, well, I just don’t think there’s a chance of that happening.
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
As we are nearing the one year anniversary of the Back Seat Drivers a few changes will be instituted for your viewing pleasure. As you may have noticed this website now contains links to our favorite columnists, sports writers, sports websites, etc. If anyone wishes for someone to be up there that is not linked now (that does not require surcharges), please let me know and I'll get our tech department working on it immediately.
P.S. This move also is in response to ESPNs surge in insider access requirements to read just about anything on the website. Damn your black corporate heart Bristol !
Sunday, July 24, 2005
1). Green Bay - Somehow Green Bay managed to win the NFC North. And by somehow I mean a Minnesota collapse (again) and 2 other teams that had less consistency than my attempt at Jello. This year Farve is another year older, they lost 2 offensivelineman, they have 6 man battle royal to replace the departed safety Darren Sharper (having 6 people compete for two positions basically means you have nobody in the secondary) and worse yet Favre's main wide receiver is holding out. Add in an improved Minnesota/Detroit team and a Chicago team that may be able to throw the ball and it looks like Green Bay is in bad shape.
2) Pittsburgh - Pittsburgh had an incrediable run last year, mostly being propelled by an outstanding defense and a rookie performance for the ages (All Big Ben does is win games). But they too have lost 2 offensive lineman, their only big target and Ben's favorite target is gone (who happens to be same person person in the form Plaxico Burress), and Ben might be facing the dreaded sophmore slump. Pittsburgh might get the to playoffs but a Super Bowl contender they might not be.
3) Seattle - I'm applying the Sacremento King principal here (I'm just inventing terms left and right they may or not have any connection to reality or as I'm now calling it, "pulling a Bill Simmons"). If a team can't break through to win the big games, evantually they fall on their face. I think for Seattle that might be the case. Their top running back (Alexander), a notoriously selfish player, might give TO a run for his money for the me-first award before the year is over.
4) New England - Now hear me out. I'm not saying New England won't be good. Heck I'm not even saying that New England won't win their division. However they are the defending champs and anything below winning the Super Bowl is by definition a step back for them. They've lost their top two coordinators. Both were highly involved in the planning, strategizing and helping Tom Brady roast his marshmellows (Brady needs his marshmellows to keep a level head). Add in a missing Teddi Bruschi for the year and suddenly a lot of the pieces that kept the Patriots machine going look a lot wobblier. I can't underestimate Belichek but this will be his finest coaching job if the Patriots win another championship.
5) San Diego - You don't go from 4-12 to 12-4 in one year and not have a few question marks hanging over your head. Is Drew Brees for real? Can Martyball continue to score points to keep up with KC or Oakland? And where are my pants?
Saturday, July 23, 2005
"There's probably no job that's more definitive in baseball than the closer's. If you do your job, your team wins. If you don't, perhaps your team loses."
Nice one, Timmy. Nothing says "definitive" like an equivocal "perhaps". Your egomaniac partner should have slam-a-lam-a ding donged you on the head for this moronic babble.
Tim McCarver - SHUT YOUR PIEHOLE!
Friday, July 22, 2005
.316 AVG/9 2B/12 HR/32 RBI/.454 OBP
I don't know how this is happening but I'm truly amazed. I still don't like the guy (I never will) and I blame him for a lot of what the Yanks have become since 2001 but I am more than happy to take whatever output he can give us. We need his bat more than ever since the Yankee pitching staff is a collection of bums and the walking wounded.
PS – Only 35 minutes after I posted this. Giambi struck out with a man at third and one out. He pretty much shat away a chance at tying the game. Now THAT'S the Giambi I know and HATE.
PPS – This morning, the little lady and I got into a tiff about Giambi. While it is not Giambi’s fault that Scott Proctor, Buddy Groom and Tom Gordon pitched like crap or that Joe Torre mishandled the way he deployed the bullpen for the second game in three days, I still find fault with Giambi’s approach to his last at-bat in the ninth inning. With a man on third and one out, I want to see Giambi fight off pitches, make the pitcher work, try to bloop a base hit beyond the drawn-in infield or hit a sacrifice fly to bring the tying run home. What I don’t want to see is a long swing at a pitch out of the strike zone.
Of course, he did hit two solo homers during the course of the game and without those, it wouldn’t have been a one-run game that Giambi was batting in but a three-run game. I am happy to admit that Giambi did a good job in his two previous at-bats. But in a “close-and-late” situation, I want to see Giambi do more than swat homers and pretend that everything is now even with Yankee fans. I want him to do what Papi Ortiz does. I want him to make pitchers work and I want him to make pitchers scared. In the end, I think pitchers know that they can use Giambi’s desire at redemption against him and get him to lengthen his swing when he should be shortening it.
The little lady says I’m wrong, that I’m too hard on him, that Giambi’s got heart and that, as baseball is a team game, I can’t blame Giambi any more than I can blame the other culprits for the loss. She’s not wrong, in a way. But in a way she is, too. She doesn’t get it because she doesn’t know what it was like being a Yankee fan in the 80’s or early 90’s when we sucked and she doesn’t know what it was like after that when we didn’t. I’ve watched enough Yankee games to know that Giambi is more Balboni or Tartabull than he is Paulie or Donnie. For that reason, Giambi will never be welcomed, embraced, loved or respected by this blogger.
(Contributor’s note: This was originally posted at 11:58 pm on Thursday, July 21st. It was taken down this morning due to the tiff alluded to above in a misguided effort to stifle criticism and domestic disharmony and in a feeble attempt at censorship. It has been re-submitted as an apology to the here-unnamed but wildly popular contributor referred to above as “the little lady.” Hopefully she’ll accept my apology.)
Thursday, July 21, 2005
My favorite schmuck Dan Shanoff argues that the Knicks shouldn’t hire Larry Brown. He says that the Knicks should think long-term and that quick fixers like Larry Brown will only contribute to the problem that the Knicks have, namely that they’ve spent the last half-decade wasting time on quick fixes instead of a thorough rebuilding effort. I think he’s flat-out wrong. It is undeniable that Larry Brown makes every team he works for better, even if his stay is short. Because he preaches defense and fundamentals, the lessons he teaches stay around after he leaves. As long as the Knicks go into this potential relationship with open eyes, knowing that Larry will only stick around Madison Square Garden for 2-3 seasons tops, then the Knicks won’t be badly damaged by his itch to move on. The man will turn 65 when camp opens and he’s battling a bladder problem (don’t you love how this bladder problem is mentioned in every article about him?) so it’s not like he’s in it for the long haul anymore anyway. The Knicks would be best served by hiring a teacher for their youngsters and it would do the Knicks good to have some expectations that go beyond simply making the playoffs. The Knicks should strive to be the best team they can be, even if that means being a .500 team that plays solid defense and becomes the team that no one wants to face because it will mean a bruising fight.
Side note: Did anyone see Bill Davidson, the Pistons owner, on ESPN last night? He ripped Larry Brown in a short interview. Dude, you’re entitled to your opinion but don’t criticize anyone when you have an alien life form growing out of your left cheek. Put a bandage on that thing, you’re gonna make us all retch.
I’ve already weighed in on the Weiss hiring (perplexing) and the Riles-to-return dance/treachery so I’ll stop right here, having written more than I thought I would this morning…
1. Bobby Bowden: Bobby is a throwback to an older era of SEC play where a white guy with a funny accent ran everything. Sure he can make public comments like "he only cares about a player's Christian soul" but who here doubts that a player would be the first to be thrown under the bus if it helped him and nepotistic coaching staff (I think he has 3 sons, 2 nephews and a former babysitter in various assistant coach positions). Although I do have to give him props for having his own police force (and by his own policy force I mean any Tallahassee policy chief has to run arrests of his players through him).
2) Brian Billick - If Billick's ego was any more massive I don't think HBO could fit the cameras into the same room that Billick occupies. A self proclaimed offensive genius, Baltimore has yet to complete a foward pass in the pass 5 years. Seriously Billick has gotten by via Marvin Lewis and his schemes (hmm no Lewis no serious playoff threat) and the drafting done by Ozzie Newsome. Thats it. Billick couldn't coach his way to a tie in tic-tac-toe.
3) Steve Spurrior - Former football coach from Florida. Strike One. Massive Ego. Strike Two. Inability to understand world around him. Strike Three. Oh Steve...I remember when you marched into Washington like Patton marching over the Rhine. I don't need to change my schemes the little Napoleon said. I don't need to work the crazy hours succesful coaches like Belichek or Parcells work said the proclaimed Einstein of football. How'd that work out for you Steve? Well he's retreated back to the safety and security of SEC football. One of my games of the year is South Carolina and Florida and seeing if Gator fans launch flaming poop at the "not good enough for pro football" coach.
Wednesday, July 20, 2005
Stephen A. Smith has his own show.
[Pause for dramatic effect].
It’s called “Quite Frankly” which makes the show sound really peaceful, when in fact that’s not what it will be like at all. In fact, I don’t think Stephen A. Smith has ever used the phrase “Quite Frankly.” I think his main argument is like a circular madlib:
“C’mon! _____[full name] is clearly the best _____[noun] at _______ [action he does well]. Did you forget about how in _____[year] when he took his team on his _____ [body part]? NOBODY wants to _____[verb: tango or dance or mess] with _____[name] when it comes to ______[what he’s best at, from above] in the ______ [sport, fully prounced i.e. National Basketball Association].”
I’m expecting that the show will consist of Stephen A. Smith yelling at a cardboard picture cutout of Tony Kornheiser, and then Stephen A. Smith proclaiming himself the victor.
Monday, July 18, 2005
That said, I invite Larry to take over the head job here in NY.
If nothing else, LeBron's and Larry's mutual distate for eachother would mean that NYC isn't where LeBron will go once free agency hits, which should no doubt please Clevelanders. Then again, LeBron may make Larry's ouster a condition of signing with the Knicks so anything's possible.
Hiring Bob Weiss. I truly can't imagine that there isn't a more qualified person out there. We're talking about a guy that's had not one, not two but three chances at being a head coach. He's compiled a career record of 210-282 (.426). There isn't anyone more deserving than this re-tread? I've said it once and I'll say it again: there is such racism in the system that it makes me wonder why no one talks about it in the NBA. It's so blatant, man. It's just awful.
What on earth can Bob Weiss possibly bring to the table? He's never succeeded anywhere. Lame.
Tiger won his 10th major at the British Open, becoming that tournament's first wire-to-wire champ in 32 years, making him 2 for 3 in majors so far this year and considerably silencing those critics who faulted him for changing his game.
Lance Armstrong added to his lead in the Tour de France, with a solid 2:46 lead over his nearest competitor - his largest lead at this stage since 2002.
And my personal favorite - showing more heart than they've ever been given credit for, the Yankees took 3 of 4 from Boston... at Fenway... with only 2/5 of their rotation going into the series... featuring 3 HRs for the series from A-Rod (indescribably huge), an embarrassing loss for Schilling's not-so-triumphant return, and surprisingly (considering he wasn't even a Yankee going into the series), an inspiring and gutsy outing by Al Leiter.
Oh, and I placed 1,921st in the 5-mile race I ran and beat MJ twice at ping-pong.
Now, if only Bernard Hopkins could have retained his title I could truly say all is as it should be in the sports world.
Sunday, July 17, 2005
It's been a long up-and-down ride for Alois. I have the utmost faith in his courage, heart, guts, knowledge of the game, intangibles, etc. I don't have any faith in his pitching ability anymore. I'm hoping that this move back north rejuvenates him and that he can grab the glory of years past one last time. I hope that he's able to do something for us that he couldn't do back in the 80's.
To Tim Redding, we hardly knew ye.
For those of us that like golf and more importantly those of us that are suckers for sentamentality, it was a wonderful British Tournament at St. Andrews. A perfect match of the past and current. Jack Nicklaus, who has won 18 majors , 2 amateur titles and an Oscar for his role as the Joker in "Batman" walked across the bridge into retirement (or at least until the Memorial rolls around). For someone who is 65 he sure played pretty good. I mean on Friday he played even. I can't play even on a putt putt course let alone hit even on one of the most trying and difficult courses in the world. But Jack, the greatest golfer and greatest OSU alumn ever, can still play with the best of them. Of course while the spirit is willing the flesh isn't what it used to be (I think I said something similiarly when I tried to eat an entire large pizza). The new generation of golfers, stronger, often married to super models powered through the course. It was apropos that Tiger would win his 10th major at St. Andrews. Tiger has 9 more majors to win to surpass the Golden Bear. I'm willing to bet it will happen but at least for now a little tribute to Jack is in order.
And now my few moments of schadenfreude of the week. For those that aren't up on the multisyllabic german words, schadenfreude it means: A malicious satisfaction in the misfortunes of others. For example if the Chicago White Sox caught leprosy, I would have schadenfreude. If Karl Rove was frog marched out of the White House, I would have schadenfreude. So here's a few moments from the week that brought me a little satisfaction
1) Curt Schilling - No bloody sock this week. No manifesto on ways to cure all of social ills. Just an ass kicking. The experiment of Schilling out of the bullpen got off to a rocky start when A-Rod bodyslammed Schilling with a homer and then rubbed it in by putting a flaming bag of poop in Schillings front yard. Oh A-Rod when will you learn.
2) Kwame Brown - I tend to associate why I dislike high school players being drafted with Kwame. Its not fair I realize but Kwame seems to be on of those perpetual "potential" people. Sure he's got the athletic build for it but the desire hasn't been there. (your getting paid millions of dollars to play basketball the least you can do is wake up for practice). By the end Kwame was traded for basically scrap metal (i.e. Caron Butler and a 6 pack of Rolling Rock) Maybe Kwame will turn it around but somehow I think Kobe and Phil aren't going to be any more accomodating then Washington was which means Kwame will probably be shipped off again to a new team (ah Darius Miles syndrome).
3) Florida State Football - For the record I hate all Florida college football teams. I think they make OSU recruiting violations look like a meeting of the prissy doilee convention. Tops of my list of hateable Florida Football coaches is Bobby Bowden. Bobby always reminded me of a good old boy (ah Boss Hog type figure if you will) that wouldn't lift a finger to help one of his players unless it helped him personally. Well the team is heading down the drain. Starting CB out with an injury. Starting LB out with a DUI. Another LB out with assault charges. Defensivelineman out with academic ineligibility. Starting QB out with Lyme disease and the fact that he claimed to be Jesus. Could FSU's record plunge off the cliff? Its possible and if it does I will be reveling in my schadenfreude.
Friday, July 15, 2005
1. Response to Hart's last blog about the Yanks: Although I dropped a comment in there yesterday, I've since thought about it and changed my mind, in light of the fact that another starter (four out of six) has been put on the DL. I'm going on record saying that I think the Yanks should trade something out of their minor league system for a pitcher. Not Chacon, necessarily, but something. With Wright and Wang out for the year and Pavano and Brown at least two weeks away, the Yanks are left with Unit, Mussina and minor league scrubs. Over the next 16 days they'll face the Red Sox three more times (big win last night, more on that below), seven against the Angels and three each against the Twins and Rangers. This stretch will pretty much define the Yankees' chances for the post-season. If they come out of it 10-6 or 11-5, they'll probably be ok to think about October. If they do less than that, they're probably done for, given that the Twins and Rangers are our most direct competition for the Wild Card.
So, the Yanks need pitchers and they should go out and get them. At $208M, you may as well go balls-out to win this year, especially if you're still in it after this brutal two week stretch. This goes against my general philosophy of stockpiling young talent and development from within but in this case the Yanks are in dire need of pitching help since all of them are going down with injuries.
2. Raffy: In keeping with the Hart theme, I'm revisiting a topic he posted on two weeks ago. I think Raffy belongs in the Hall of Fame. I just read an article on ESPN.com by Skip Bayless that says that Raffy belongs in the "Hall of Very Good" but not in Cooperstown. In that article he basically says that longevity is a strike against Raffy because, despite the great stats, he was never one of his era's top five or 10 players.
I'd agree with that -- Raffy was never Griffey or Bonds or Brett. What I don't agree with is the concept that longevity should work against you. If someone plays for 19 seasons (and counting) like Raffy has and consistently averages 33 homers and 106 rbi, after a while you're going to get to some pretty nice totals. It takes talent to stick around the game for nearly two decades and it takes even more talent to be so consistent that at the end of your career you can be in the prestigious 3000 hit/500 homer club with guys like Willie Mays and Hank Aaron. I think Raffy's a Hall of Famer. I don't really care that he was never a bigger star than some other guys. I really think he belongs and his stats are more than enough for me.
3. Last night's Yankee game: It was a pretty good game to watch on TV. I like how tight Joe played it in the late innings with Womack pinch-running for Posada and Sierra pinch-hitting for Melky Cabrera. What I liked even more was seeing ARod step in against Schilling and hit a big homerun in a key spot. Schilling is probably ARod's biggest enemy in the game and it was nice seeing Alex come up big. The garbage talk about not being a true Yankee and all the ARod hating going on out there aside, it was just great for baseball to have the game's top money pitcher go against its most famous hitter in the 9th inning. That's good stuff for all baseball fans (at least I think so).
4. Kwame Brown trade: I don't understand this move by the Wizards at all. Sure the kid hasn't worked out the way you thought he would and sure he probably has an attitude problem. In my opinion, you suspended him for the playoffs last year and that should've been the end of it. I can't figure out why you trade a tall, strong and athletic big man who is not even 22 years old yet for a useless role player (Chucky Atkins) and a small forward that has probably maxed out in talent (Caron Butler).
I also don't understand why you signed him to a preliminary offer sheet, sending the message that you wanted to either keep him or drive up the price in free agency and then pawn him off for two players that might equal his salary but don't equal his worth. Phil Jackson now has the high school kid, the former high school kid and Turiaf with which to re-create his Wennington, Longley, Buddha et al. bundle of fouls against opposing big men. The worst part about it is that Ernie Grunfeld, the Wizards' GM, is an otherwise savvy executive who had a nice track record until this point. I think this move was really lousy.
5. Pat Riley coming back? I've been hearing rumors that Riley may want back into the coaching fraternity. He probably figures that with Shaq and Wade together, this is his last best chance to end his personal championship drought that began in 1989 when the Lakers couldn't cap off the 3-peat against Detroit. For the sake of what's decent, I hope Riles stays put in the luxury box upstairs. Not only would he be displacing a loyal lieutenant in Stan Van Gundy but he would be sending a crappy message that he was more than willing to step aside when the outlook was bleak a few seasons ago but now wants to be a front-runner when the sky is a lot sunnier.
In a related story, I'm hearing that Shaq was unhappy about being underused in Game 7 against the Pistons. That's his way of saying that he's not actively pushing for a coaching change but that he wouldn't be against Riles pushing Van Gundy out. Not cool. You can't bash Kobe for pushing Phil out of LA in 2004 and not catch heat for doing the same thing. I'll even give Shaq a pass for undermining Del Harris and Kurt Rambis since those stiffs never belonged at the head of the Laker ship in the first place. But pushing Van Gundy out after a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals? That's weak. If this goes down, can it really be considred a coincidence that Shaq, who is negotiating a contract extension, would use the leverage he has to get some say in his next coach? Nope. And for that reason, I am calling him out on it and reaffirming my position as the world's least-famous but most vehement Shaq-hater.
Thursday, July 14, 2005
In Zimbabwea , a man was convicted (and sentenced to 3.5 years in prison) for impersonating a woman in an athletic contest. I think my favorite part of this story is that the guy originally told the court he had both female and male organs. Later a medical examination showed that he was a man. Did he really think that the medical examination would somehow miss this minor detail?
In criminal investigations not involving gender bending we have Italy. In Italy soccer star Paulo di Canio is under investigation for possibly having a fascist salute to celebrate his goal. Check out the picture from the link. I mean so you have your arm raised in a salute in the same manner of Mussolini while playing for a team (Lazio) that was Mussolini's. I mean accidents will happen. And by happen I mean I hope that guy gets run over by a Zamboni.
Lance Armstrong is still winning the Tour de France. According to my sources, the Tour de France is the only bike race that Americans are aware of. Is there really an athlete alive today that transcends his/her sport like Lance does? The fact that everyone knows who Lance Armstrong is but could care less about racing is a testament to what a historic figure Armstrong is.
Are you kidding me?!?!
Chacon has an ERA this season of 4.30, and lifetime, it's 5.25. His K/9 ratio is an unimpressive 6.27 for his career, and he has an overall W-L record of 29-43 (1-5 this year). "But Hart," you say, "all of that was in Colorado." That's a fair point - except that since 2002, his road ERA is 5.21 (admittedly, a stronger 3.05 this year, but that may be anomalous). This guy isn't even Jaret Wright, and I don't need to remind you how dumb that signing was.
The AL East is a tough, tough division. We all know about Boston, and now there's a competitive team in Baltimore. If Halladay hadn't gone down last week, we might have seen Toronto buying up talent and threatening from the outside. This is no time to sacrifice any prospect for a guy who has proven that he barely belongs in the bigs.
But if the Yankees want to extend their four-year streak of outspending and then disappointing everyone, well, this is the way to do it.
I read a piece by a pompous dipshit named Charles P. Pierce (that name oozes preppy rapist) who, in his day job, writes for the Boston Globe. It’s a complete hack job. This guy a) knows nothing of baseball, b) has probably never been outside of Boston’s city limits and c) has been drinking the batch of Kool Aid that Theo Epstein mixed and FedEx’ed to seemingly every journalist, pundit and media employee in the country.
The lead paragraph should dispel any notion that this guy knows baseball. I mean, if disparaging a pinch-hitter who is batting .284 is valid then what do I know, right?
He goes on to disparage ARod by somehow trying to convince readers that a “.317-23-72 first half is almost enough to make you forget his embarrassing bitch-slap meltdown against the Red Sox in last year's ALCS. (Almost).” I’m so tired of hearing about that Game 6 incident. ARod was playing to win, nothing more, nothing less. If the umps don’t reverse that call then ARod’s seen as a huge hero who “does the little things” like they used to back in the old days – sliding with your spikes up, dusting hitters, stealing signs, etc. Bobby Thompson won his Giants the 1951 pennant by slamming a walk-off homer. He stole the sign and won the game yet he’s romanticized. I could go on about this forever…
Anyway, to round out this hack-job article, I’ll give you another excerpt:
“That puts general manager Brian Cashman in a difficult place. The AL East likely is going to be won in the front office. The Red Sox, Orioles, and Yankees all have glaring needs, and the Yankees have far fewer options than the other two, particularly the Red Sox, who have a well-stocked farm system and a general manager who is a) nervy, b) brilliant, and c) not employed by an oligarch. That's an immeasurable advantage, particularly when the oligarch in question is writing checks to the likes of Kevin Brown for the foreseeable future.”
Can we stop sucking Theo’s man-part for a second here? He’s done a nice job, yes, and I’ll be the first to give him credit for being a better GM than Brian Cashman (that’s not too hard an accomplishment but Theo can consider it a compliment). But give me a break already! John Henry and the New York Times Company aren’t oligarchs? If anything, that ownership group is a crooked oligarch (I’ll explain Henry’s crookedness in another posting or, if you’re dying to know, email me) and a major media conglomerate (can you say conflict of interest, anyone?) which has to be seen as just as bad as Boss Steinbrenner. Of course, this says nothing of the error at the end of that sentence. Kevin Brown is a free agent after this year so no one affiliated with the Yankees will be paying him anything “for the foreseeable future.” Wrong again, Chazz. Now go get your f*cking shine box.
Slate Article – read and laugh (or cry, if you actually care about integrity and truth in reporting).
Wednesday, July 13, 2005
My good friend Bloody Gamebreak (his online moniker when he comments on our site) is a member of the law review journal at Fordham University. It was there that he met his legal writing mentor, a girl who has since become Mrs. Shanoff.
Bloody Gamebreak told me that both Mr. and Mrs. Shanoff are really nice people and since BG is one of the nicest people I've ever met, I toyed with the idea of burying the hatchet on this one-sided feud. Then I came to my senses. Dan Shanoff's a complete f*cking moron who deserves to be called out in public and bashed at every turn.
So, just so you all know, there is an enemy in our midst. He pretends to be a nice guy, befriending my friend and trying to sneak through our defenses. I won't let this transgression stand. From now on, I'm going to be twice as abusive to Mr. Shanoff.
I've already cleared it with my pal Bloody Gamebreak and he says its ok. Full speed ahead!
The crappiest team sport in North American history has just announced that it wants back into our lives after a completely futile, selfish and self-destructive 13 month vacation. I couldn't be more apathetic about its return. Please, hockey, don't bother me. I liked it better without you.
5. Blue Chips – Nick Nolte coaches a college team with Shaquille O’Neal and Penny Hardaway playing the star players. If you want to see a Who’s Who in NBA from 1994, go to this link from imdb.com. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0109305/fullcredits
This movie had about 100 cameos including Larry Bird, Bobby Knight, Dick Vitale, Jerry “The Shark” Tarkanian, Bobby Hurley, and Rick Fox. Other than watching this movie to see if you can identify everyone, there really is no other purpose.
4. Eddie –Whoopi Goldberg gets to coach the Knicks, and the climactic moment of the movie is the Knicks trying to beat the Charlotte Hornets and Larry “Grandmama” Johnson. If they don't beat the Hornets, the Knicks are going to be moved to St. Louis. Seriously, you could never make up a more implausible storyline. If a New York Knick owner ever tried to do this, they would be gunned down. I don’t really remember much else about this movie, other than it made absolutely no sense.
3. Necessary Roughness – A football movie with an incredible cast – Scott Bakula from Quantum Leap playing a 34-year old QB who just enrolled into college, Kathy Ireland playing the kicker, Sinbad, Jason Bateman (didn’t even know he was in the movie until I looked it up), and of course, Rob Schneider saying “fumbelia, fumbleroosky.” The unintentional comedy scale is through the roof on this movie.
2. Johnny Be Good – Scrawny Anthony Michael Hall plays a young high school QB which every school drools over. This movie is more of an educational video of how players get recruited to play for college teams through the use of strippers, steroids, and payoffs.
1. My Giant – Starring Billy Crystal and Gheorge Muresan, the 7 foot 6 inch stiff for the Washington Bullets. Honestly, I’ve never seen this movie, I have no idea what it's about, but it made me laugh whenever I saw the commercials for it.
"Well, that's how it should be. You reward the team that is the world champions."
Could've fooled me, Harold. If it were up to me, I'd reward the best players of THIS season. If there's a tough call, maybe we give the nod to players on the best team of - you guessed it - this season. Johnny Damon, David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez all deserved their starting nods this year, but not because of what they did last year. Isn't that obvious?
Harold, if we want to hear stupid comments on ESPN from a former All-Star second baseman, we'll tune into Joe Morgan. This is your official warning. Now SHUT YOUR PIEHOLE!
Tuesday, July 12, 2005
Although I'm an AL fan, I was semi-rooting for the National League in the 6th inning when Garland was on the mound. I love seeing him struggle. Nothing brings a smile to my face more than seeing fluke losers exposed. Anyway, no more negativity for the night. The right league won and that's all that matters.
PS - Miguel Tejada's All-Star Game MVP interview was hysterical. I loved the genuine look of surprise on his face when he was given the Corvette.
PPS - Jeannie Zelasko is VERY pregnant. Unless FOX wants to get fined like CBS did for Nipplegate, they should tell Jeannie to cover up those pregnant mammaries! Kevin Kennedy could barely contain himself; he sneaked a peak or two.
2. I move that unless they begin posting soon, 24, Mr. Nonymous, Laz, and Josh Pho Minh be removed from the contributors list. Hey, fellas, to be a contributor, you have to contribute.
Thank you. We now return you to your regularly scheduled blithering idiocy.
Second, a quick shut up to Gary Sheffield. I love him, I think he's a great player and a big part of the Yanks but man is this guy selfish. I can't figure him out. By all accounts, he's a great teammate and a warrior of a player, going full speed while he's hurt, doing the little things, etc. How can he be such a great player, such a good teammate and a selfish jerk at the same time?
Gary Sheffield Story
Gary, if you don't want to join in the honor of representing the United States in the World Baseball Classic then, fine, stay home. If money is all you care about, I hope you enjoy sitting at home counting your millions while the rest of Team USA goes out there trying to win a gold. I lost a lot of respect for you today. You don't wear the Pinstripes well at all.
Monday, July 11, 2005
Sure Things: Roger Clemens, Greg Maddux, Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson, Alex Rodriguez, Rafael Palmeiro. The three pitchers are obvious. A-Rod's still young, but there's no reason why he won't continue being great. I know some people don't put Raffy in the Hall, but I have a hard time believing that 25% of the voters will keep out someone with his credentials in any year.
Possibilities: Mike Piazza, Ivan Rodriguez, Mariano Rivera, Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Ken Griffey Jr, Curt Schilling, Tom Glavine. The catchers are here because it's hard to figure out what the Hall will do with catchers. Both guys will get in - but whereas Johnny Bench was inducted on his first try, it took Carlton Fisk (the original Pudge) three or four years. Whether Rivera makes it in year 1 depends on when he retires and whether, by then, the BBWAA has gotten over its fear of closers. Mariano's deserving of enshrinement, and he's been so good for so long that he deserves to be in on the first ballot. As for Bonds and Sosa, watch carefully when McGwire's name first comes up. There's been talk of backlash against suspected steroid abusers. If Big Mac gets in on his try, or close to it, Barry and Sammy have a chance; if not, forget it. Junior's chances depend on how he finishes his career. I wouldn't bet on his getting in on the first ballot, but you never know. I'm pretty sure Schilling's a HOFer, and his numbers, when the day is done, may reflect first-ballot worthiness. I kind of doubt Glavine, but he's another one who can pack his bags one day for the Hall.
Who am I missing?
"For a sport fueled by such a macho ethic, is there anything more wuss than World Series Of Poker players who wear sunglasses? If your "tells" are so obvious that you can't keep from going bug-eyed at a decent hand, perhaps you're not the poker stud you think you are."
Does Shanoff want to rethink that? I'm pretty sure that Johnny Chan, 3-time WSOP champ, would not like being called a wuss.
Shanoff is making it so easy on me. There are dead people and viruses that are smarter than this guy.
Sunday, July 10, 2005
However its all the time of year to start looking ahead to gridiron and the NFL. In this installment of Mighty Mike covers the NFL: Caballos Oscuros (or the parlance of our times Dark horses). Now what is a dark horse? According to the dictionary (which is a book that has definitions it in, but thats not important right now) a dark horse is "A little-known, unexpectedly successful entrant" . The etymology of this phrase, of course, was Super Bowl I MVP Nick Darkhorse, who led Green Bay to victory over the upstart Kansas City Chiefs. Anyway here's a quick run down of some potential darkhorses in no particular order:
1) Buffalo Bills - Buffalo was right at the cusp of the playoffs last year ending 9 -7. This year they have a quarterback instead of the human tackling dummy (Drew Bledsoe). Thats got to be worth a victory or two. The Jets seem to be inconsistent and the Dolphins will be forced to move their operations to New Mexico to avoid being supermerged by hurricanes and/or rabid FSU fans. New England may be as good as they were last year but certainly won't be better...hence the window of opportunity.
2) Arizona Cardinals - Dennis Green. One of my favorite coaches names to say. Why? Cause the man is nuts. Lets be honest , he's delusional, has rampant paranioa and treats sports reporters worse than Mo treats Boston fans (hey its one thing if I do it, I'm not paid millions of dollars to help sell tickets) Nonetheless the wild west is wide open. Seattle is never getting over the hump, I'm uncertain if the 49ers could win the WAC let alone an NFL game and the Rams are still commandeered by Mad Mike Martz. Personally its a long shot since the Cardinals still don't have a quarterback, possibly only have 2 offensive line and are relying on a rookie runningback. But hey its Dennis Green.
3) New York Giants - Eli was starting to come into the Manning mantle at the end of last year. They had a solid draft (and by solid I mean didn't forget to draft when it was their turn). Meanwhile Joe Gibbs is trying to institute the wishbone formation for the offense, Dallas apparently has 7 different quarterbacks on the roster (none of which are any good), and Andy Reid and Drew Rosenhaus (the walking symbol of a slimey agent) will be in starring in Wrestlemania XXV.
4) Carolina Panthers - They're really not a darkhorse team. I mean they came pretty darn close to winning a Superbowl two years ago. Last year the entire team from the running backs down the beer salesmen were hurt. They will be back in the playoffs. That I would be willing to bet an entire case of Norman Chad's Rolling Rock on.
5) Oakland/Kansas City
Frankly I think these teams are way way too similiar. One will be a darkhorse and push for the playoffs , one will stink. Why? Because both are out and out all offense. Raiders went out and got a great reciever and a solid running back. KC's defense is apparently being used up to keep central Missourians out of their fair city. So its question, who has better offense...beats me but I can guarentee that one way or another Dick Vermeil will cry over the answer.
Honorable Mention: Jacksonville, Houston, Detroit, Cincinnati
Friday, July 08, 2005
"Johnny Damon: His name is Theo Epstein. Not only is he your GM, Johnny, but he's the best GM in sports. So why don't you leave the personnel decision-making to HIM?"
Now I won't argue with one of the things Shanoff said -- Damon should leave the decision-making to Theo Epstein. I love the idea of making Schilling the closer so long as he's healthy and able to pitch at the major league level again. What I think is absolutely ridiculous is Shanoff's assertion that Theo is the best GM in sports. Really? Since when? Since he won the World Series with the second highest payroll in team sports?
I wonder if Jerry West has any say in this since, after all, the guy built two dynasties in Los Angeles and then took over an expansion team and made them a playoff team within 18 months of setting foot in the door. I'm also curious if John Schuerholtz in Atlanta or Walt Jocketty in St. Louis were asked their opinions on the matter. Last I checked, Atlanta's been winning since Theo was in high school. Walt Jocketty may have built the team that was swept in the World Series last year but he's been building winners for a decade out there in the Gateway City.
So, Shanoff, as you can see, there are other team executives out there that don't live in Massachusetts. It might surprise you to hear this but some of them are actually great at what they do.
I haven't listened to the talking heads of ESPN about the Cavs (or well anybodies) free agents prospects but lets be clear about how the NBA works. Its not about playing with Lebron or living it up in the Big Apple yadda yadda yadda. It boils down to two things: money and championships. If you are almost a lock to go the championship (see Spurs, Pistons and thats it) you can sign players to a bit of a discount. If you can't see (see rest of the league) guess what money is the key. Gee did anyone really think a video montage and a Lebron James smile would be worth the 20 extra million dollars Michael Redd or Ray Allen got? The Cavs (or anybody for that matter) were not going to pry away those two away. Which is ok. Kevin Garnett deserves a max contract. I'm not as certain Michael Redd (who doesn't play defense) is the other cornerstone player worth 70 million dollars. Teams wanting to get the playoffs will have to be smart about who they sign. The catch though is if their home team makes any play for the free agent the price will be awfully high (see the price for Larry Hughes and possibly Kwame Brown).
**For the record there is no reason why I have a chimp playing golf in my blog today.
Thursday, July 07, 2005
Officer Questioned About Methods For Killing Deer
Man Investigated For Handling Of Wounded Deer
Arlington police are investigating whether an officer responded properly to a wounded deer.
Police spokesman Matt Martin said the deer was found on June 18 in the 6900 block of Williamsburg Boulevard, after apparently falling 30 feet from Route 66.
It was still alive, but was suffering, so the officer decided to kill it to end its suffering.
First, he shot it, but the deer survived.
So he tried to run it over with a police cruiser, but that didn't work either.
Finally, the officer put a plastic bag over the deer's head and suffocated it. Martin said that's not the way the department normally does business. He said Arlington police are working with other agencies on their policies so that Arlington County is better equipped to handle the situation next time. He said officers typically deal with one or two such cases a year.
More infuriating than the thought of being surrounded by a nation of mindless sheep is this excerpt. As DQ wrote today:
"In your Face! The biggest story of “Final Man” voting wasn’t that Pods earned a spot; it was that Jeter – the “Face of Baseball” – lost. In a simple up-or-down vote, fans rejected Jeter and everything he stands for. His minions can’t possibly claim “Face” status anymore."
Dan Shanoff makes Derek Jeter sound like some sort of child-raping ogre or sadistic, bloodthirsty serial killer. What else can "everything he stands for" mean? I thought it was universally accepted that Derek Jeter stands for hard work, professionalism, heart and respect. I've never seen Jeter show up an opponent by flipping his bat after a homer and I've never heard Jeter say one negative thing about an opponent or teammate. I've also never heard anyone around the game question his credentials as a great ballplayer or teammate. Hell, if members of the Boston Red Sox, who are bred to hate all things New York, can say that Derek Jeter is a great player and a great Yankee then where on earth is Dan Shanoff getting all of this stuff from?
I think Jeter's "minions" (as this moron likes to call us) can claim that #2 is the best Yankee player in a generation and among the all time great players in the game. Whether he's the "face" of the game or not, I have no idea and I don't care. All I know is that Scott Podsednik isn't the best player going to the All-Star game and that, if given a choice, Kenny Williams would trade his light-hitting fluke-season leadoff hitter for Jeter.
Oh, and before I forget, Jeter's stats as a leadoff hitter compare quite nicely to any other leadoff hitter in the game, especially this guy Podsednik.
66 R/100 H/11 2B/2 3B/10 HR/35 RBI/145 TB/40 BB/55 K/10 SB/3 CS/.395 OBP/.446 SLG/.841 OPS/.308 AVG
48 R/78 H/13 2B/0 3B/0 HR/17 RBI/91 TB/32 BB/40 K/41 SB/9 CS/.363 OBP/.337 SLG/.700 OPS/.289 AVG
The Yankee lineup is better than the White Sox lineup which can account for the difference in R but the H, HR, RBI, TB, BB, OBP, SLG, OPS and AVG all favor Jeter. No question that the SB's are in Podsednik's favor since he's a steal specialist. Still, I pay my leadoff hitters to get on base, something Jeter's doing at a better rate than this fluke-season piece of crap player.
I HATE the White Sox. The team ought to be contracted and purged from our collective memories. If only ESPN.com would write something about petitioning for that, I'm sure all of the mindless American sheep would baaa-ahhh in agreement.
Wednesday, July 06, 2005
My first thought was, "how humbling this must be for Scott "The Statue" Layden." He goes from the top job in the NBA's biggest city to being an assistant in the league's smallest city. From press conferences and recruitment dinners at Nello's and Peter Luger's Steakhouse to wearing sweatpants and having staff dinners at the conference table catered by Outback Steakhouse. A definite demotion in status (well-deserved, by the way, since he not only fouled up the Knicks good and proper but stood by and watched it all go down the toilet with a deer-in-the-headlights look on his face).
My second thought was, "wow, there really is racism in the system." How else to explain how a number of qualified minorities can't score a 3rd assistant's job in the NBA but a complete failure of a basketball executive gets to bounce back and re-start his career. Pointing to Nate McMillan and a few other black guys in suits in the NBA doesn't qualify as legitimate opportunity, by the way. Other than the fact that there are probably only two dozen black guys in all of Utah, I can't imagine that there isn't an in-state minority coaching candidate from the high school or college ranks that deserves the opportunity to cut his teeth in the NBA.
Steve Nash, Suns – Well, he only won the MVP and helped power the Suns to an absurd 30-game improvement. I’d say that’s a wise choice of money. Granted, it’ll be interesting to see what happens in a few years when he gets really slow.
Shaquille O’Neal, Lakers – I hate even putting him down, since I was going more for top “value free agents,” but I guess it was worth it for the Lakers, as they won 3 championships. Getting Kobe Bryant helped too.
Chauncey Billups, Pistons – Was a virtual unknown when signed by the Pistons. He had a decent last season for Minnesota, and proved that all he needed were the minutes.
Vlad Guerrero, Angels – Won an MVP and got the Angels in the playoffs.
David Ortiz, Red Sox – His numbers have been sensational since going to Boston, and he doesn’t cost $20 million per year like Manny or A-Rod.
Reggie Jackson, Yankees – I don’t even know if he officially counts, but he was part of 2 championship teams.
Reggie White, Packers – The first mega-star to change places in the NFL was a sack-machine for the Packers and a major reason they finally won a Super Bowl in 1996.
Priest Holmes, Chiefs – Went from losing his job to Jamal Lewis, to being an absolute stud on the Chiefs.
Cris Carter, Vikings – Went from taking too much drugs on the Eagles to being a mainstay on the Vikings for 12 years.
Unjustified anti-NY attack #1: DQ's happy that New York finished fourth in the 2012 Olympic vote. Here's an excerpt..
"Two Words For You: BOO. YORK. Wait 'til 2016! After its 4th place finish in 2012 Olympic jockeying (not even good enough for the bronze!), New York City must regroup. Finishing ahead of Moscow is nothing to brag about; getting beat out by Madrid is embarrassing. But with the U.S. on the 2016 Olympic host-city radar, perhaps the best thing to happen would be for a few other U.S. cities to jump into the competition. The good news is that you've got four years to figure out a plan; the better news is that you're competing with New York. Just ask the Europeans."
Ok, lets attack this idiotic comment from all sides. Considering the fact that ESPN fashions itself as the "Worldwide Leader of Sports" one would think that they know a little something about how sports actually work. Obviously not the case. NBC's broadcast rights fee package for the Olympics expires after the 2012 Games. Since NBC pays more for the rights to televise the Olympics than any other broadcast company in the world, the IOC correctly judged that it could extract a higher rights fee in the next round of negotiations if New York were given the 2016 Games. Why give NYC2012 the Games at X dollars when you can drive up the price for the next contract and have NYC2016 launch the new broadcast deal?
DQ goes on to say that other U.S. cities should jump into the competition, implying that NY had some sort of monopoly over the process. Jeez, was ESPN asleep from 2001-2003 when Houston, Dallas, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Tampa, Cincinnati and Washington, D.C. were all vying against NYC for the USOC's endorsement as the official American candidate city? How on earth can you be in the business of sports reporting and not know that?
Unjustified anti-NY attack #2: DQ's urging voters to push Podsednik into the final spot on the AL All-Star roster, over Derek Jeter, Hideki Matsui, Torii Hunter and Carl Crawford. Why? Because it would be positively uncouth to actually like a Yankee and completely uncivilized to like Derek Jeter. Another excerpt...
“Vote Podsednik! Why Pos over Jeter, who at last report led voting by a smidgen? Standings: Podsednik shows up and the White Sox become the AL's best team; the "Cap" has managed to "lead" the Yanks to a nudge over .500. Novelty: Value: The Final Man will be a late-inning insert. Sure, Jeter has a better OBP, but Pos is a pinch-runner supreme, leading the AL in SBs. Schadenfreud: Wouldn't it be hilarious if the "Face of Baseball" couldn't even win a lousy run-off among All-Star also-rans?”
Whether fans vote for Jeter or not, I can't see the logic behind actively endorsing one player or another when you're in the media. Let the hometown papers do those players' bidding, not a national media outlet such as ESPN. Furthermore, as a beacon for the best interests of the game, it is ALWAYS better to put in the more marketable, more fan-friendly, more favorable face of the game. Whether that's Jeter or Hunter, I don't know but it certainly isn't Podsednik, a poor excuse for a baseball player who is having a great but uncharacteristic (for him) season.
If DQ wants to talk about pinch runners, roster balance or anything baseball-related, all I can say is that there are six outfielders and two shortstops already on the team so neither one is truly necessary. Ichiro is a perfectly capable pinch runner should the need arise.
If DQ wants to talk about leadership, I seriously doubt that Podsednik has anything on Jeter in that category. If anyone actually thinks that Podsednik showing up on the White Sox and their becoming the team with the best record in baseball are related, well, I just wonder what Buehrle, Garcia and Garland have to say about that. Likewise, if anyone thinks that Jeter is the problem on the Yanks...all I can say is that Jeter's not the problem, not by a long-shot.
At the end of the day, I don't really care who makes the last spot on the All-Star roster. I just don't want that person to make it for the wrong reasons. ESPN should keep its goddamn trap shut and let the fans decide who they want to see.
Tuesday, July 05, 2005
Pre-Season Prediction: Boston
Current Leader: Boston
Who Will Win and Why: Boston has deep pockets, a nice lead over the inconsistent Yanks (who I'm convinced actually has two different squads and they each work for about 2 weeks at a time). They also have Curt Schilling, unless Jesus hurts him again, coming back. If they can patch up the bullpen it might be a return trip to the World Series (sigh)
Pre-Season Prediction: Minnesota
Current Leader: The Dirty Sox
Who will Win and Why: The Dirty Sox. sigh. They have a huge 8.5 game lead and the best rotation in baseball (at least I'll make that argument). They're not a battle tested team and they're ranked 8th in OPS in the AL. Come playoff time without the slugging percentage its hard to score runs so I'm thinking the The South Siders just won't have enough against the big boys.
Prediction: LA/Anaheim/Tokyo/Dubai Angels
Current Leader: Angels
Who Will Win and Why: They've been hurt on and off all year but they're still managing to hold off the fiesty batmen from Texas. John Lackey has been a key addition to give them 4 solid starters. I think they can hold off Texas although if Texas can get a great starter in a trade this might get interesting.
The Tea Leaves Say:Minnesota. Too much pitching. This team also just seems mentally tough in that they play better as the season goes on. The Tribe are playing much better (hitting and pitching together at last) but it remains to be seen if they can play and beat the playoff bound teams on a consistent basis. Texas is in the same boat as the Tribe. Trades (or lack their of) could be the deciding factor.
Current Leader: Washington
Who Will Win and Why: Florida hasn't hit all year. Atlanta is a walking episode of M*A*S*H and the Nats are the craziest bunch of misfits to defeat big money since Earnest Goes To Camp. I don't think anyone expected the Nats to be this good. I think everyone is a little skeptical that the Nats can hang on. I'm with the experts on this one and sticking with my original prediction of Florida.
Prediction: Team Budweiser
Current Leader: Team Budweiser
Who Will Win and Why: Unless Derrick Lee not only wins the Triple Crown but also the Cy Young, Chicago is not catching the Cardinals. I think the only real question about Saint Louis is are they going to the World Series and can they win (wait thats two question. damn ). I think this team is better built for the playoffs than last year's team, now that it has 3 good starters. They still need an extra outfielder. A big name would not only help this year but would replace Larry Walker's departure/retirement next year.
Current Leader: Padres
The Great Predictor: This is the Padres year to break through. The other NL teams have even more flaws than the team from America del Sur (I'm not sure why but I always believe San Diego is only a few interstate exits away from Sao Paulo). No Barry means San Fran blows
NL Wild Card:
Using the Divining Rod: Who is a team that has never been in my kitchen. Atlanta will probably only get better when they have healthy players and the rookies develope. Florida and Washington (based on who's winning the division) should also be up there. I'm not counting out the Cubbies if Dusty Baker can keep his pitchers healthy.
World Series: Sticking with the horse I road in on . No Barry (thank goodness) means a repeat of last years World Series. And the Mo contigency Boos!
On a day where:
-Lance Armstrong won the fourth stage of the Tour de France, taking over first place in his quest for a seventh-straight championship;
-Ray Allen became the first name off the list in the NBA free agent signing period; and
-Randy Johnson pitched on three days rest and got a big 'W' for his team with seven strong innings;
ESPN.com's lead story is about players that are easy to hate. It is no surprise then that Alex Rodriguez (a Yankee) is the posterchild they've chosen as their favorite player to hate. Aren't there better stories out there? Don't any of the three that I've mentioned above qualify as better lead stories?
For all of the energy ESPN expends on Yankee-bashing, you'd think that all 25 Yanks had gotten a turn with George Bodenheimer's mother, wife, sister and daughter. Bodenheimer is ESPN's president. Most corporate executives are classier but, again, as the saying goes "You can take the boy out of New England but you can never wash the filth out of the boy."
I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a bit disappointed, however. I was hoping that Ray Allen would go someplace that could better showcase his talent. He's got the absolute prettiest jump shot in the game (and maybe in history) and I was looking forward to seeing him working for a team that knows something about a marketing campaign. No one cares about Pacific Northwest basketball and that's, in part, Seattle's fault.
Jesus Shuttlesworth isn't a franchise player and it's debatable if he makes his teammates any better but he's one hell of a second banana and it would've been nice to see him, turning 30 in two weeks, finish his career on a team with LeBron. The two of them could've made the Cavs a serious championship contender.
By the way, for those of you that don't know who Jesus Shuttlesworth is, just know that He Got Game.
Monday, July 04, 2005
Sunday, July 03, 2005
"This is not the Hall of Very Good - it's the Hall of Fame! Palmeiro is not one of those rare extraordinary talents."
There's a legitimate argument here on both sides. As Bayless pointed out in a rare moment of rationality, Palmeiro's only made 4 All-Star teams, and never finished in the top 5 in MVP voting. But let's look at some other numbers: This is his 18th full season in the bigs, and at age 40, he's hitting .267 with 12 homers and 40 RBI while helping to anchor a surprising O's team. For his career, Palmeiro has a .289 average with 563 home runs and 1815 RBI. He has 2992 career hits, meaning that, before the All-Star break, he will become only the fourth man in history with 500 homers and 3000 hits. The other three? Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, and Eddie Murray - sure-thing HOF'ers, all.
Palmeiro was implicated in the steroid scandal by Canseco's book, his longevity is due in part to many years at DH, and he's played in hitter-friendly parks his whole career. But "not an extraordinary talent"? The baseball graveyard is littered with the remains of many short-lived sluggers, who cracked 40 or 50 homers once, or knocked in 130 and hit .300, only to flame out a few years later. Palmeiro continues to play at a high level, and has for years. A man that's been this good for this long, who's 9th all-time in home runs, 26th in hits, and 16th in RBI?
Punch your ticket for upstate New York, Mr. Palmeiro. You've earned it.