Wednesday, November 30, 2005
Some truisms far from the truth
The articles (see sidebox for what turns out to be two columns) seperates out fact from fiction. Losing turnover battle (chance for losing 81%) is indeed a truism. A kick/punt return for a TD does not guarentee a win (only 42% chance). One of the more striking characteristic that jumps is the importance of a good rushing game (or conversely good rushing defense) Having a hundred yard rusher (75 %) and controlling the game clock (67%) are both signs of having a succesful ground game. I think one factor that is missing in the analysis is average field position. The importance of special teams in both returning punts or more importantly covering punts is often under-rated. Anyway give it a perusal
If so, today's Konerko deal marks the end of the Frank Thomas Era on the South Side. One of the game's more talented hitters of the last 15 years, and arguably in history, Thomas is held by many Sox fans in high esteem, and in contempt by most everyone else. His two MVP awards and his numerous accomplishments are overshadowed in this Cubs fan's eyes by his impish behavior, his absurd contract demands, his random holdouts/walkouts, and his general lack of understanding of the business side of player-management relations.
Don't let the door hit you in that big ol' butt on the way out, Frank. I hope your next residence is right beside Von Hayes* in the Retirement Home for Contemptible First Basemen - which, incidentally, is nowhere near Cooperstown.
*Hayes never spoke out as Thomas did. He simply found a way to go 2-for-4 with a double and 2 RBI in every single game he ever played against the Cubs. Stupid Von Hayes...
When Bob DuPuy says that Washington risks the “disillusionment of baseball fans” in the community, he should be reminded that Washington survived very well without baseball for 30+ years. Given the fact that his employers, the team owners, all pooled their money together to make the purchase of the Montreal Expos, I’d suggest to DuPuy that the risk is all on baseball’s hands. If they would like to go through the process of finding yet another suitable home for the Expos – a franchise Bud Selig and Major League Baseball chose to destroy – then I guess Washington, D.C. should call their bluff.
“I got a fascinating e-mail from my ESPN.com colleague Michael Knisley, who pointed out that my HOF commentary yesterday about Gooden and Hershiser is eclipsed by the Great Albert Belle Debate.
Your knee-jerk reaction is probably to insist he couldn’t possibly be a Hall of Famer, but as Knisley pointed out, his stats are more than comparable with first-ballot HOF’er Kirby Puckett, who, like Belle, played 12 seasons:
It begs the question of whether Hall status should ever be a popularity contest (which Belle would never win). If not, Belle has got a decent shot, at least by the ‘Puckett standard.’”
I mean, really, do I even have to attack this one? I thought it was obvious at this point that when comparing the credentials of Hall of Famers, one does not compare a table-setting type of player to a cleanup hitter. I can see why Shanoff and Knisley got confused, since Puckett did normally hit third in the Minnesota lineup but still, I thought everyone knew that Puckett wasn’t a prototypical middle-of-the-order bat. He was more Tony Gwynn (who also batted second or third for most of his career) than he was slugger.
Why are they even using Kirby Puckett as the benchmark for all hitters deserving of enshrinement? If Kirby’s the standard then certainly Jim Rice, Andre Dawson, Jose Canseco, Dave Kingman, Don Mattingly and Tim Wallach all could make arguments that they belong. I’m sure there are plenty of other hitters who hit 207 career homers that might match up favorably too. Why use Kirby and not Ozzie Smith? Ozzie hit 28 career homers with a .262 average over 19 seasons. When you look at it that way, even Paul Sorrento looks qualified with his 166 HR and .257 AVG. (Of course, I’m exaggerating…I just wanted an excuse to drop Paul Sorrento’s name in here…)
And while I’m rolling with non-sequiturs, when did World Series rings enter the equation as criteria for baseball players’ Hall of Fame chances? For managers, sure, that makes sense. But for players, that’s ridiculous! Ted Williams, Ernie Banks and Barry Bonds strike me as guys that never won rings and have Cooperstown credentials (obviously Teddy Ballgame and Ernie Banks are already in). Unlike basketball, which fairly or unfairly defines a player’s career by their championship hardware, baseball has never done so. Baseball, like football, is a team game and no one player can propel an entire roster to October glory. Without pitching, the best hitter in the world won’t see October. Without hitting, an ace won’t taste champagne. Basically, who cares how many rings Puckett won? It’s totally irrelevant.
Albert Belle might make the Hall of Fame or he might not. I think he probably doesn’t deserve it only because he didn’t play long enough to compile the types of stats required to match up favorably with his power-hitting peers. Keep in mind, Belle played in the asterisk* era where power was in abundance and sluggers were a dime a dozen. That isn’t to diminish his incredible seasons, however. His 1993-1999 stats are absolutely amazing and 1992 and 2000 were pretty solid too, but that’s just not a long enough period of dominance to be Hall-worthy in my opinion. If he’d put together two to three more years of that kind of production, I think he’d have enough to make it in. Anyway…
I hope everyone realizes that this isn’t a rant about Albert Belle or about why Kirby Puckett doesn’t belong (although I could make against the latter if I were so inclined), this is just to ask the obvious question – does Knisley have a BBWAA card? Is he a voter? I certainly hope not because if he is, we’ve entrusted the history of the great American game to a guy that can’t tell the difference between two extremely different types of hitters.
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
If anyone else is interested in sports law and other issues such as these, refer to http://sports-law.blogspot.com/. Despite being Red Sox fans, the people that run the site are quite well-informed and well-spoken.
The Phillies are now interested in going after Tom Gordon as Billy Wagner's replacement. As long as they don't overpay, it's not a bad move. Gordon's been a fairly reliable regular season pitcher and he has a lot of experience as a closer, having earned saves for the Cubs, White Sox, Red Sox, Royals and Yankees (in no particular order). Given how the market has become irrational, however, I wouldn't be surprised if Philly throws too much money or too many years at him. Oh well. The Yanks have been prepared for his departure for quite some time so it's no real loss if someone is willing to overpay for his services.
The most interesting development in the closer market is that Cleveland is interested in signing Trevor Hoffman. Such a signing would signify that the Indians are again players in the free agent market after a half-decade hiatus. I am curious to see what kind of package the Tribe put together. What kind of contract are we talking about here? Hoffman wasn't as dominant in 2005 as he had been in years past and might be coming up on the end of a good career. I imagine it'll be an expensive proposition to pry Hoffman from the Padres. Plus, could Hoffman really be induced to leave San Diego? I have no idea if it will happen but I see no reason why it shouldn't happen. Money is money and it spends the same in southern California as it does in northern Ohio. Hoffman would have just as good a chance, if not better, perhaps, at making the post-season in the AL Central as he would in the NL West.
While I generally don't like seeing guys who have made their Hall of Fame careers in one city leave for another, the overall likeability of the Cleveland Indians makes me look the other way here. Plus, "Hells Bells" always seemed a little out of place for San Diego. Cleveland is more of an AC/DC town, if you ask me. If it happens, good for Cleveland.
Monday, November 28, 2005
Rick Aguilera, Albert Belle, Bert Blyleven, Will Clark, Dave Concepcion, Andre Dawson, Gary DiSarcina, Alex Fernandez, Gary Gaetti, Steve Garvey, Dwight Gooden, Rich Gossage, Ozzie Guillen, Orel Hershiser, Gregg Jefferies, Tommy John, Doug Jones, Don Mattingly, Willie McGee, Hal Morris, Jack Morris, Dale Murphy, Dave Parker, Jim Rice, Lee Smith, Bruce Sutter, Alan Trammell, Walt Weiss, John Wetteland
With respect to Stu Scott's poetry segment, I just think it is totally unneccesary. I would much prefer to see a straight sports report instead of all this gimmicky stuff, even if it's trying to go highbrow instead of lowbrow for a change. For one, I can't take Stuart Scott seriously since he opts to speak a language that is not English. Further, if I wanted to get culture, be it in a traditional art form or a more urban type of art, I'd rather not get it from ESPN when I'm trying to unwind and watch the day's highlights. I don't know if that segment is here to stay (I hope not) but I have to cast serious doubt on ESPN's programming executives if they thought their demographic was going to appreciate it. Let's stick to scores and stories, ok guys?
With respect to Sean Salisbury's rankings, I have no argument with the Seahawks, Bears, Panthers, Cowboys or Bucs being considered top five NFC teams. At least four of them belong there (the Bucs I'm not 100% sold on yet). I would also not argue if the Falcons appeared on that list. But the Eagles? At #5? The Eagles don't even have a winning record. They haven't even won a game in the NFC East yet. How much of this is Salisbury's opinion and how much of this is ESPN's editorial hand trying to create a storyline to talk about. Seriously, the Eagles have no chance of winning the division and next to no chance of making the playoffs. At best, they finish 9-7, assuming they lose to Seattle next Monday, then win their last four in a row against the Giants, Rams, Cardinals and Redskins. It's possible that they run the table from Week 14 on but I'd expect them to lose to the Giants and possibly Washington as well. I'm predicting that they finish 8-8 and out of the playoffs and I don't think I'm going out on a limb with that call.
Finally, and this was just an impromptu addition, I'm thrilled that Michael Irvin was busted on a drug-related charge yesterday. He's a lousy studio analyst, he's far too cushy with many of his subjects (a violation of the single most important rule in journalism) and he doesn't speak English well enough to be on television. I'm hoping against hope that ESPN fires him and replaces him with a more qualified person. Sterling Sharpe was once upon a time a great ESPN studio analyst. Now he's on the NFL Network. Too bad ESPN canned him for the flashier ex-wide receiver. It's a trend that ESPN continues, much to my chagrin. Ask yourselves who you'd rather listen to talking about your favorite sports -- David Aldridge or Stephen A. Smith? Sterling Sharpe or Michael Irvin? Tony Gwynn or John Kruk? ESPN's programming executives are horrible and ought to either be fired or subjected to sitting next to their hires on a cross-country flight sitting in coach.
Sunday, November 27, 2005
Well the news has just come over the wire. Byron Leftwich broke his ankle against the semi-professional team known as the Arizona Cardinals. This reshapes the playoff race. Indianapolis' schedule gets a lot easier but more importantly it opens the door for San Diego or KC for their bid for a Wild Card. Jacksonville had the easiest schedule of any Wild Card hungry team in the AFC (somewhere around a .367 strength of schedule or what we in the profession call Tara Reid level of easiness). KC and
Alright, time for some news and notes of this week in sports. As the 17th guru Kevin Bacon, once said: "These are the facts and they are not in dispute."
1) Jesus hated kickers this week. Giant’s kicker Jay Feely missed 3 consecutive field goals and handed the game to
2) Speaking of the supernatural those that watched the Giants v. Seahawks game had to have one thought (that wasn't about field goal kickers) and that was "How the hell was Joe Jurevicius open the entire game?"
3) How about those Rams? They go down in my book as having the best comeback win led by an Ivy graduate this week. Ryan Fitzpatrick, out of Harvard, starting his first game threw for over 300 yards, 3 touchdowns, finished a rubix cube, set the date for the next Canadian election and gave the first 17 digits of Pi. Not a bad afternoon. Plus some random guy from the stands (Kevin Curtis) caught a game winning OT touchdown. Where do the Rams get these guys?
4) I don't know why the NFL keeps its stupid OT rules. I know it’s been mentioned before by MJ but each week it gets sillier and sillier to have a coin flip so crucial to determining a game. If they refuse to introduce college-like OT rules at least make it interesting. I would recommend Monkey Knife Fights. Plus if you give them helmets it would reduce the chance of a death blow by a good 4%.
5) Note to the Cleveland Browns - turning the ball over 5 times will not win you games. When you have your rookie QB subbing in for the injured starter, don't have the first play a complicated long pass. Ease him in. Also scoring touchdown's the red zone is helpful. I've stood by Romeo Crennel so far but he needs to fire the offensive coordinator (Maurice Carthan) otherwise Romeo will be going down with the ship.
6) The Indiana Pacers are a tough team. They are deep. They are good on defense. They punish opposing teams via physical play. I'm already looking forward to the
7) ACC v. Big 10 Challenge starts up this week. As my favorite non-conference thingee in College Basketball I'm pretty psyched since I think this year the Big 10 has a shot at winning (read all games should be competitive). I personally recommend Tuesday night's rematch of last year's championship game (UNC v.
Saturday, November 26, 2005
1. The Blue Jays have reportedly offered BJ Ryan a five-year $47M contract. That would make BJ Ryan the highest paid closer in baseball. While I understand that Toronto would like to get back to playing varsity instead of the JV they've been playing the past several years, I don't understand how bidding against yourself for a player makes any sense. I don't know of any other offers for BJ Ryan. I also know that the Mets are offerning Billy Wagner, a more proven closer, a three-year $33M deal with an option for a fourth year.
Personally, I'd rather have Billy Wagner, but that's a different story. I am shocked that the Blue Jays would outbid the Mets for the second best free agent closer on the market. I just don't understand the logic. BJ Ryan's good but by no means unbeatable. A five year deal? For a closer with only one year experience at the position? What happens if Toronto's horrible again in two years? This is a bad business decision. I totally endorse Toronto's going after a closer but I think they're grossly overpaying for this guy.
2. The Mets have offered Anaheim's free agent catcher Bengie Molina a chance to play for the new Latin All-Stars, aka the New York Metropolitans. With Mike Piazza's impending move to Oakland (I don't know what Beane has up his sleeve with that old dude) and Ramon Castro firmly entrenched as one of the game's best backup catchers, the Mets are hot for Molina as their regular backstop. From what I understand, they'll be paying him somewhere in the range of $7-$9.5M a season. Now I don't want to be totally negative here but a simple look at Molina's stats should tell everyone that he'll be overpaid as he is underaccomplished.
Bengie Molina turned 31 shortly after the 2005 All-Star break. It is well-known that catchers begin to precipitously decline at the age of 32-33. Bengie Molina's career OBP is .309. His career OPS is .705. He has never caught more than 127 games in a season and I would expect that as he ages, he'll catch between 90-120 games a year. For a guy who doesn't carry a big stick, I'm not sure that Bengie Molina is quite the off-season "catch" that many think him to be. If he were five years younger, maybe the offense gets better. But for a guy who will blow out 32 candles in mid-July...I wouldn't give him any more than a three year deal with all the money up front.
Depsite the serious character issues surrounding Carlos Delgado, I think that the Mets can win their division with a Delgado/Wagner off-season. I think adding Molina will hurt the team in the long run. If the Mets should have a key injury during the 2006 season, they might not have the financial flexibility to add a player if they go overboard on Bengie's contract.
Friday, November 25, 2005
I just figured I would write a little eulogy to Pat Morita. Although not sports oriented, he made many a 10 year old happy in the mid 80s with training Daniel San. And later jumpstarted Hillary Swank's career with training her. We will miss you Pat!
Ok, we've reached the point where the Marlins are colluding with the Red Sox. This is getting ridiculous. Next thing you know, Juan Pierre will be traded to Boston for a box of Dunkin' Donuts to fill in the Dave Roberts role of designated pinch runner. I'm not one for conspiracy theories but I could add a couple to the ones already circulating about the Red Sox-Marlins trades. After all, current Red Sox ownership can also be referred to as former Marlins ownership. Bud Selig delivered John Henry's crew to the revenue-generating city of Boston after permitting him to run the 1998-2002 Marlins into the ground. Baseball's so fucked up it's not even funny.
1. Rumors abound that Lions head coach Steve Mariucci might be fired today. As I argued when Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon and Tigers manager Alan Trammell were fired, I just don't understand how you can fire a coach when he's in charge of such a terrible team. Ownership and management in Detroit is horrendous. Matt Millen is clearly the problem here with his lousy drafts and terrible signings. He's also made horrendous PR blunders with his statements about gays and minorities (even if he didn't mean them, which he probably didn't). If you want to fire someone, fire Matt Millen. The guy doens't even work out of the office in Detroit, he does all his GM stuff from home in another state. How can it be Mariucci's fault that Joey Harrington isn't a pro-caliber QB or that Charles Rogers doesn't believe in working hard or that the offensive line is lacking? In my opinion, coaching is like hot sauce -- you need the food in front of you before you can pour it on and then, you need to make sure to only put on the right amount. Too little hot sauce and your food's bland, too much and you're dropping acid rain in the toilet. The Lions haven't even cooked the meal yet. They're just a bunch of ingredients that look good on the kitchen counter but haven't turned into anything.
(Sorry if that metaphor was lost in translation...)
2. The Saints need to shut up already. Joe Horn and Ernie Conwell blasted the NFL and commissioner Tagliabue over a bunch of things including the team's up-in-the-air status. You know what guys? Be quiet. Hurricane Katrina is a tired excuse for the shitty performances you put out there week in and week out. Your coach stinks and should be fired. Your best players are all pussies. If I could even name someone on your defense I'm sure I'd say they suck too. If you're so unhappy with the way you're being treated by the league, go ahead and quit. I am so tired of hearing the Saints crying about everything...
3. The coinflip rule stinks. I'm not a Dallas fan by any stretch of the imagination so I'm thrilled they lost the game yesterday. I can't understand, however, how the most fan-friendly and creative league in pro sports can't just admit its mistake and go with the college format in overtime. Dallas is now, I believe, 1-2 in overtime. They've won one coin flip (vs. Giants) and lost two (vs. Seattle and Denver). You can't continue this stupid format any longer.
3 1/2. I hope Ron Dayne chokes on his wife's dick this weekend. The "running" back formerly known as Fatty McBust won the game yesterday with a 55 yard run in OT. Where was this talent when you were in NY, Ron? How come you didn't run right into your blockers like you used to? Of course I'm bitter; the Giants could've had Shaun Alexander instead of Ron Dayne. I hate Ron Dayne. At least the beat the Cowbitches though.
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
For the Phillies, this is addition by subtraction. They get rid of Thome to open the everyday spot for Ryan Howard and they replace Kenny Lofton in CF with a younger, fresher set of legs. Rowand is a decent ballplayer -- not great, not terrible -- and he will be asked only to play defense and bunt a few guys over from time to time. The Phillies lineup is pretty stacked so Rowand will have an easy time meeting expectations.
1) The Urkel. Can't you just see Dee Brown scoring a big basket, then pulling his waistband up to his chest and prancing around? What, you can't?
2) The Shoe Pump. Why not do a retro celebration like the old Dee Brown of Celtics and dunk contest fame? (Reebok could use the pub.)
3) The Delivery. Borrowing from a recent goal celebration by soccer's Francesco Totti (a new father), college players who've just become dads could score a big basket, insert the ball under their jersey, lay down and spread their legs as a teammate pulls the ball out and shows it triumphantly to the crowd. (Caveat: requires a stoppage of play and a ref who has enough patience not to T you up.)
Courtesy of: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2005/writers/grant_wahl/11/23/bkc.bag/1.html
1 – TO – just selfish and wants more money, but still is one of the best in the game
2- Bill Romanowski – known Steroid user who can facilitate teammates' access to BALCO
3- Randy Moss – will refuse to block if unhappy, and has dragged a meter-collector down the streets of Minneapolis
4- Ryan Leaf / Cade McNown – white-man superiority complex; ripping on teammates for not protecting while throwing 4 INTs per game.
5-Dennis Rodman – will only show up to the games (not practices), and will do anything for attention leading up to each game
6- Ron Artest – will harm fans if hit by object
7- Latrell Spreewell – will harm his own coach if aggravated
So you see, keeping TO on the team may be worth it after all, it’s only a 1.0 on the Insanity scale. Please note, I was going to put Mike Tyson on the list, but it didn’t fit because biting the ears of an opponent in an individual sport didn’t fit in this team sport level of insanity (though Mike Tyson is insane of course). I also couldn’t relate Rae Carruth’s actions to the team sport of football and making light of his situation was disturbing, so I left him off the list.
Random Note of the week-
Did you know? Brandon Rush plays for Kansas, and he is the little brother of JaRon Rush (UCLA), and Kareem Rush (Missouri). It’s almost mandatory at this point that every 3-5 years, a new Rush must enter NCAA Basketball. I expect a similar trend starting in 2010 for Shawn Kemp offspring.
On to the games…
Manwich Matchup of the week
NY Giants @ Seattle- The winner of this game really could be the favorite in the NFC. The winner would certainly have the inside track to homefield advantage. I’m just rooting for backup QB Tim Hasseleck to take the field, so we can have the first-ever brother vs. brother QB competition.
Upset of the week
St. Louis @ Houston- St. Louis is terrible on the road, and is using Jaime Martin as their QB. It’s a prime opportunity to pickup a 2nd win for the Texans.
Atlanta @ Detroit- Whenever I think of Thanksgiving day games, I always think of when Madden was on Fox in the early ‘90s, and they gave out this turkey that had six wings. The cooks were so skilled, they made it really look like the wings came from one mutant turkey. I also remember this big, fat D-lineman, Jerry Ball, winning the turkey, and eating 2 wings while being interviewed by Madden on the nuances of hitting a defenseless QB. I love Thanksgiving!
Denver @ Dallas- This should be a good game, and it will be interesting to gauge how good the Dallas defense really is. Dallas’s defense has been steady, but has had their relapses at time, and I’m curious to see how they attack the Mike Anderson / Tatum Bell two-headed monster.
Balt @ Cincy- Brian "Cobra Commander" Billick got a nice victory last week. But there's a big difference between playing Tommy Maddox and Carson Palmer. It's like comparing a Yugo to a Lamborghini.
CAR @ Buffalo- I fully expect CAR to bounce back, and I still am dumbfounded by the Chicago Bears.
Chicago @ TB- Don’t forget, the Houston Texans beat the Cleveland Browns who beat the Bears that beat the Panthers.
Cleveland @ Minnesota- Reuben “Attack of the” Droughans has been relentless. However, the Vikings are back in playoff contention, and I’m going to stick with the hotter hand.
NE @ KC- This is an interesting game. The Pats defense has been suspect all season, and I’m not sure if they will figure out how to stop the Chiefs either.
SD @ Washington- Marty “The Party” Schottenheimer will be loving the passing game and will do his best to run up the score on former employer, Redskins owner Dan Snyder.
San Fran @ Tennessee- Yawn.
Jack @ Arizona- Jacksonville is really pushing for a wild card spot, and once again, the outcome of this game depends on the weather. Forecast: High 63, winnable game.
Miami @ Oakland- I love when Porter goes nuts, and the following week, teams go back to single coverage on Moss. Every other week, Porter has huge games, and I just hope it continues for my fantasy team’s sake.
GB @ Philly- The real moral of the story in the TO saga? Every team should have a separate coach and GM. At a minimum, there should be someone that negotiates with the players, even if its just a "puppet GM, just to alleviate the tension. IF you have two separate people, one can negotiate and take hard-line stances. Meanwhile, the coach can pretend to be on the player’s side, and focus on just the football. So really, this whole TO mess can be blamed on Hungry Hungry Hippo Andy Reid.
NO @ NY Jets- America’s team has a winnable game against 4th-string QB Brooks Bollinger.
Last week: 9-7
Manwich Matchup: 6-5 (Vick couldn’t get it done)
Upset Special: 2-9 (The Bengals came close against the Colts)
In 2005, Petit 21 starts for AA-Binghamton and produced some very nice numbers: 9-3 W-L/ 117 2/3 IP/ 2.91 ERA/ 0.91 WHIP/ 130 K/ 9.9 K:9IP/ 7.2 K:BB. In fact, his stats show that he's produced at every level of the minors except for his late-season promotion to AAA late last summer. Having just turned 21 years old yesterday, Petit will likely start in AAA this season and should be a big part of the Marlins rotation come 2007 or 2008.
Jacobs is no slouch, as his minor league stats indicate. Before being called up to the Mets in mid-August, the kid had torn up AAA pitching with 25 HR in only 433 AB (17.32 HR:AB). Upon being called up, Jacobs hit 11 HR in 100 AB. Taking into consideration that Dolphins Stadium is an extreme pitcher's park, Jacobs should still be able to hit between 15-20 in his first full season in the majors.
For the Mets, they get the bonafide heart of the order hitter they desperately wanted to land before the 2005 season. And by getting the Marlins to agree to give up $7M in cash, the Mets are now on the hook for a little over $13.5M instead of $16M over the next three years. That $2.5M savings will go towards overpaying for Billy Wagner to the tune of $44M over 4 years. Should the Mets land Wagner, they should be considered the front-runner for the Wild Card, at the very least. Their lineup would be the second best in the division (after Philly):
SS Jose Reyes
By acquiring Delgado, the Mets can move on without exploring a trade for Manny Ramirez. The Red Sox are probably sorry they didn't talk to the Mets sooner because that effectively kills their shot at getting Milledge from the Mets. And, as I indicate above, the Mets are still in hot pursuit of Ramon Hernandez at catcher (Padres free agent) and Alfonso Soriano, who is arbitration-eligible. Should they acquire Soriano, they would consider batting him sixth and moving him to LF, moving Floyd to RF and using Nady and Diaz off the bench. Alternatively, they could keep him at 2B and retain their RF platoon. Either way, the Mets are not done dealing and should be totally re-made come April 2006. Minaya is a bold GM and he's doing his best to make Atlanta sweat.
This is bad all around. It's bad for the city of Miami because it never looks good to lose a sports franchise. It's bad for the handful of people that still call themselves Marlins fans because they're likely turned off from baseball for good (wouldn't you be if your team had three owners, two major fire sales and a cruddy stadium all in less than 12 years?). It's bad for baseball because it a) clearly shows that Miami was a poor choice for expansion, b) turns off fans that liked the Marlins in Miami, c) forces baseball to re-visit contraction talks which are always ugly, and d) means that Tampa Bay will be going down this road soon too. With respect to the latter point, it is questionable if there are enough cities left in the country that can sustain a major league club. Las Vegas is definitely one, Portland may be one (although I doubt it) and Charlotte might be another. After that, I don't see where else teams can relocate to and expect to be better off. San Antonio? Maybe but they've never expressed an interest. New York is the only other market in the country that already has baseball and still has the demand for more. Steinbrenner and Wilpon would never allow it without a guaranteed cut of the profits, however. So baseball is left with a quagmire that will make them focus on issues "c" and "d" from above. One Florida team might get to move but the other might not because there might not be anyplace to move to which means that team would get the executioner's kiss.
The only party that might get something good out of this is Jeffrey Loria, the Marlins owner. He might get an offer to be bought out or he might get to relocate his franchise to a city that is willing to foot the bill on a new stadium, guaranteeing him millions. The Devil Rays' owner, Stuart Sternberg, has just re-shuffled his front office and made Wall Street investment bankers the top executives in his ballclub. To me that means one thing -- he's read the writing on the wall and is preparing himself for contraction. Why else would he hire a team from Goldman Sachs to run his club besides to value his assets, get his financial house in order and then sacrifice himself at baseball's chopping block.
Baseball's collective bargaining agreement states that contraction is off the table until 2007. Count on the D-Rays, and potentially the Marlins, to be the top teams on Death Row.
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
Johjima has a pretty decent catcher's build at 5'11" and 198 lbs. His stats in Japan show that he's not a high on-base guy but does possess some some pop. Of course, pop in Japan isn't pop here, but still, he might be able to have a nice couple of years in the Majors. I'm not basing this opinion on anything other than my bias towards Asian ballplayers. I just love them for their attention to the fundamentals of the game. Not all of them can succeed here (see Matsui, Kazuo or Park, Chan Ho) but they still come over knowing more about the game than a lot of the kids coming out of high school and college baseball here in the States.
Why should we care about this signing? Well, if Hideki and Ichiro are any indication, Kenji might become a better-than-average defensive catcher in the AL. I don't think the M's will be contending in 2006 but they could improve if they have a good receiver behind the plate who can block balls, throw out runners and call a smart, sensible game. The only thing that might be tough for Johjima is the art of blocking the plate. In Japan, catchers don't have to block the plate; an out is recorded by stepping on the base as in all force play situations (I don't understand why myself). It will take some practice for Johjima to get used to the footwork of an effective block as well as getting over the fear of contact. That's what spring training is for, fortunately.
I'm sure there are people who will believe that a Japanese catcher won't be able to communicate with American or Latin pitchers but I'm sure it'll work out. Everyone speaks the international language of baseball where one finger means fastball and two fingers means curve. I'm rooting for Johjima and I hope he opens the door for even more Asians in the States.
Back Seat Drivers now comes with polls. Check out the Daily/Weekly poll on the sidebar below the archives. Today's/this week's poll is on Thanksgiving. Any future requests on polls to be posted please e-mail to the webmaster (me).
Well my favorite holiday is probably Thanksgiving (although Diorama-rama is a close second). The food, strangely the family, the movies and most importantly the sports. What's better than after watching a great football game, sitting down to a giant turkey, knowing full well that at the end you can scurry with a plate of stuffing to watch more football. Football should be watched either a) in a hyperventilitating/belicose manner or b) in a near comatose, lying on the couch barely having the strength to hit the mute button when Shannon Sharpe is about to speak manner. Thanksgiving and the wonderful drugs found in turkey lead one to embrace the "B" method of watching football. Luckily this year not only is there a good football game (Denver v. Dallas) but an outstanding basketball game (Indiana v. Cleveland). While early in the year the Cavs can put announce themselves as a legitimate contender for the Central Division and even the Eastern Conference with a prime time win. Yes its runaway optimism, yep its early but nothing would be better than pumpkin pie, a Denver loss and a Cleveland victory.
There are several ways to view the Mike Lowell thing in the AL East context. One way is to say that Boston is willing to eat $18M over two years in order to get Beckett. Another way is to say that Boston believes that Lowell, despite a too-high price tag, might still rebound and become a productive player again. His splits vs. LHP and RHP do show me something interesting. Despite hitting .236 with 8 HR and 58 RBI (down from .293/27/85 in 2004), Lowell did hit .304 against lefty pitching, with an OPS of .840. Contrast that to .221 and .617 vs. RHP and a case can be made that even if he is washed up as an everyday player, he can still hit lefties and can platoon at 3rd base with Kevin Youkilis or someone else. Of course paying $9M to a platoon player is unreasonable and foolish but the possibility remains that a hitter's park might re-energize Lowell. There even remains the possibility that 2005 was an aberration and that Mike Lowell isn't washed up at all. Then again, it's equally possible that he is completely washed up and that the 2006 Lowell is as much of a drain on the Red Sox as the 2005 Lowell was on the Marlins. Mike Lowell is the big wildcard here - he could be great, he could be awful or he could be just OK. If great, the Red Sox replace Mueller with Lowell and don't miss a beat, plus get better defensively. If awful, the Red Sox can't add a player in July since no one will take Lowell in a trade with that contract. If OK, the Red Sox have gotten deeper with a part-time player that can play 1st, 3rd and DH who can hit lefties.
This trade also has ramifications for the NL East. In 2005, the NL East was baseball's best division, where only nine games separated first (Atlanta) from last (Washington). All four NL East runner-ups (Phillies, Marlins, Mets, Nationals) were in the Wild Card chase until the last few days of the season. Now that's about to change. The Marlins should be written off as a last place team with permanent ink. They will go into 2006 with Dontrelle Willis, Brian Moehler and Jason Vargas as their remaining starters and the latter two combined for an 11-17 record in 35 starts. Not good. If Carlos Delgado is traded (to Boston, potentially), they will have only one player (Miguel Cabrera) who hit more than 16 homers, drove in more than 76 RBI and had an OPS over .796. That is not a very promising lineup for 2006. Basically, count on the Marlins to lose over 90 games and be a creampuff on everyone's schedule.
I think several more trades and signings will happen. I think Delgado will be traded to one of the Mets, Red Sox or Dodgers. Delgado has $48M left over three years so he's definitely going to a big market. I think the Yanks will go hard and fast after Kyle Farnsworth of Atlanta and insert him into the 8th inning setup role for Tom Gordon. I think the Mets and Billy Wagner will agree to a contract and the Mets will be considered favorites for the 2006 Wild Card. I think the Yanks will trade Carl Pavano, Eric Duncan, Kevin Thompson (minor league prospects) and cash to the Seattle Mariners for Ichiro Suzuki and Joel Piniero. I think the Rangers will push Blalock out the door for pitching.
The winter meetings are being held in Dallas, TX from 12/2 to 12/5 and I know several people who will be attending. I hope to get first-hand reports from my friends so I can continue to post my Hot Stove reports.
Monday, November 21, 2005
For the Red Sox, this trade is a no-brainer. Sure, they added $18M to bring in Mike Lowell for 2006 and 2007 but they got a 25 year old flamethrowing righthander. With Papelbon and Lester, the organization's top two pitching prospects, the Red Sox will have a young trio for the next several years. The cost to them, besides carrying Lowell, was the minor leaguers whose reputations are sterling but whose statistics might be leaden.
Case in point, Gammons had been raving about Hanley Ramirez as a future star but how good can Ramirez be if he had a .335 OBP in AA ball. AA is not a place that future star hitters should have a hard time with. With 34 extra-base hits (21 doubles, 7 triples and 6 homers) in 465 at-bats, I'd say Ramirez projects out to a low-contact, medium pop hitter. Basically a little better than your average middle infielder. Sanchez might be a little better although he's still at least a year away from the big leagues, having only spent a few months in AAA in 2005.
For the Marlins, this trade is all about reducing the $65M payroll and dumping Lowell. What I can't understand is how they can justify this trade. Without the benefit of seeing their balance sheets and cashflow projections, I can only assume that they would rather be profitable and bad than operating at a loss and competitive. How that makes sense, I don't know, when you factor in revenue sharing welfare checks from New York City. Then again, no one ever accused the Marlins franchise of making any sense. None of us should forget that the ownership in Miami is the same group that ran the Montreal Expos into the ground.
Final analysis - the Red Sox improve, the Marlins get much worse and the United States of America will once again be convinced that Boston is winning the World Series. To that I say not so fast. Not only do we not know how the rest of Boston's issues will end up (Damon to stay? Manny to be traded? New closer? Schilling's health?) but Josh Beckett, good as he can be, is oft-injured and not as statistically dominant as people would have you believe. His K/9 has declined in each of the last three seasons, his VORP was only 40th among all National League pitchers and the fact remains that he is untested as an American League pitcher in a hitter-friendly park. Before we start fitting the Red Sox for the 2006 crown, let's see if this former NL pitcher can handle the AL. He might. He might not.
For the record, Beckett's overrated. As a Yankee fan, I wouldn't mind seeing Beckett in Boston. Lowell is welcome to chew up $18M of the Red Sox payroll and Beckett's career 41-34 record doesn't scare me one bit. Outside of the 2003 playoffs, the guy hasn't done much in the game. He's never started more than 29 games in a season or logged more than 179 innings. He's not what you'd call dependable.
“I’ll say it: Fire Phil Fulmer, whose best years with UT are obviously behind him. The Vols failed to end the season bowl eligible. They’re the new Vandy!”
I am NO fan of Phil Fulmer. He’s a fat, stupid idiot and he’s a tattling nanny for ratting out fellow SEC schools to save his own hide. There’s a special place in hell for guys like him. But what the hell is Shanoff talking about here? Why would Fulmer deserve to be fired for a losing season? Even if he loses next week to end the year at 4-7, his career record at Tennessee would still be 127-38 (.769) in 14 seasons, including an undefeated national championship season in 1998. How are his best years behind him when he’s had no losing seasons before this year? What amazes me even more is that in the same column, Shanoff writes:
“This season was the best coaching job of Joe Paterno’s career (and, yes, that takes into account his two national-title seasons). Factoring in his age, all the offseason criticism, the youth of his team and the competitiveness of the Big Ten, for him to go 10-1 is astounding.”
Now I’m not saying that the Big Ten wasn’t competitive (it was) or that it wasn’t impressive for PSU to go 10-1 (it was) but age and off-season criticism have nothing to do with how Paterno coached this year. Paterno did what he did. I don’t think he did a better or worse job this year than in his national title years. He did better than the last two years, that’s for sure, but what’s that really saying?
The astounding thing, in the Fulmer context, is that Shanoff would call for Fulmer to be fired after one bad season but stumbles all over his two left feet to kiss Paterno’s ass. Paterno should’ve been pushed to retire three years ago. He wasn’t and that’s fine but how can Shanoff call for Fulmer’s head when Fulmer’s been more successful than Paterno over the last 14 seasons? Fulmer matched Patero's wins, has more national titles and bowl appearances and played in just as competitive (if not more so in at least half of those seasons) a conference.
I guess I just don’t understand why Shanoff thinks Fulmer should be fired. It just makes no sense. The only person that should be fired is Shanoff himself. I don’t blame him for being so stupid, though. I blame ESPN for not recognizing his stupidity. How can they give him a forum to write? He barely knows sports on a simple, casual-fan level. His dad must be really rich or his mom must be really hot (think how Forrest Gump got into elementary school…) because this complete idiot didn’t belong at Harvard.
Contributor's note #1: I know full well that Shanoff writes sensational fluff pieces just to get publicity and to drive his own Q-rating on the ESPN.com site. I just like ripping on him for sport. I don't actually care that much about him, I just really like to write and it's easier if I get worked up, even under false pretenses. So, Shanoff, since I know you read this, don't fucking flatter yourself piss-boy; you're not under my skin. I'm just the type of sadistic bully that picks on an easy target.
Contributor's note #2: An articulate criticism from blogsite Promohthree (http://www.promohthree.com/):
"Speaking of Shanoff, “The Daily Quickie” has to be the most frustrating read of my day. Great format for a daily column, but an awful guy behind the wheel. I’ve never seen a guy so desperately try to generate catchphrases and buzz words despite failing each and every time. Shanoff has been one of the more persistent promoters of what bothers me the most about ESPN these days: “the ESPN era.” It’s not a terrible idea. In fact, they may very well be right. But don’t viewers decide this sort of thing? I don’t hear anyone else referring to the ESPN Era."
-Eddy Curry is as bad as I thought he was. All this "second best center in the Eastern Conference" stuff must've been spoken through the funhouse mirror-distorted prism of a crackpipe. He's fat, he's slow, he's lazy, he can't rebound, he won't defend, he misses open layups and easy shots in the paint and he doesn't play through minor cuts and scrapes. In short, he typifies everything the Chicago Bulls were from the fall of 1998 to the winter of 2005. He absolutely stinks and I'm ashamed that he's on the Knicks. The least the Knicks could do is take away Oakley's #34 (it really should've been retired by now) jersey and re-assign him to something else. He's doing very little to earn his keep here.
-Channing Frye is better than people gave him credit for. Sure it's only 10 games into a career but he's shown an ability to score that has surprised me. Over the last three games that he's been given significant playing time, he's racked up some nice numbers. His averages:
29 MPG/ 55.5% FG/ 86.6% FT/ 21 PPG/ 5.6 RPG
I know there's a whole world of basketball statistics out there that rival Sabermetrics that I don't know or understand that could probably shed more light than these more mundane and common numbers but I'm encouraged that Frye could do this well in FG%. Larry Brown will be forced to keep him in the rotation as long as he's scoring and running the court well.
Sunday, November 20, 2005
A great sports weekend, especially for those of us located in Central/Northern Ohio. I don't remember the last the Cavs, Browns and Buckeyes all won on the same weekend. I shall cherish it always will with a commemorative plaque. Also I shall reward myself with an extra helping of stuffing at the family food fest known as Thanksgiving. You know it’s my family’s thanksgiving when all food preparation is prefaced- this is made with light (fill in blank)). Anyway a lot of thoughts on a fun weekend of sports.
Well contrary to the fears/wishes of the pundits we have two teams lined up for the BCS Championship game...Texas and USC. Even with a loss in the coming weeks, I question if either of these teams will be nudged from their place at the Rose Bowl. However this week introduced a dilemma that is over looked by the usual lackey's of the college football playoff system. Typically the argument goes that playoffs will give you a more definitive winner. The problem is who gets to go the playoffs. Theoretically it would the same 8 BCS bound teams. The problem is that the 2 at large bids are just as (and in my opinion more) controversial as determining the top 2 teams. Who deserves the two at large bids? I have my own biased opinions but here are the contenders (in order of my bias)
Notre Dame - Only two losses (USC and
Auburn- After losing their QB and top two running backs I thought this team would take a step back. They did....two losses. The two loses were to tougher than expected G-Tech and SEC Championship bound LSU. However, they barely beat
- I didn't realize Reggie Bush was that good. 513 all purpose yards? You got to be kidding. That’s hard if you’re playing Madden Football. He's bigger than I thought (200 lbs) and a lot faster. I haven't seen someone turn the corner and accelerate that fast outside of a select few (Marcus Allen comes to mind). The Heisman Trophy Award is his. Period.
- Didn't see the
victory coming either. The New Monster's of Midway sacked, attacked and possibly sexually harassed Jake Delhomme all day and then egged his car for good measure. If the NFC's representative at the Super Bowl is murkier than ever, the number of NFC teams legitimately vying for the playoffs is shrinking faster than Publius in a cold lake. By my own calculations the list of possible teams (i.e. teams with better record still in the hunt) goes down to the suddenly disappointing 5-5 Chicago team. Next week against Washington is a must win for the 2005 Gibbs bunch. San Diego
- Who Dey (of the ex-Bungals variety) played
tough but usually if let the opposing team score touchdowns five straight times to open the game you have a hard time winning. Usually. My sense is that Marvin Lewis doesn't have the personnel yet to stop the run. Playoffs should keep the Indianapolis Southern Ohiofaction happy but the Super Bowl isn't in the cards this year. Both and KC (who plays the Pats next week) need wins next week. The Steelers need Roethlisberger back. Tommy Maddox's impersonation of a washed up quarterback while believable is not helping the team. San Diego
- Who picked the Dallas Mavericks to do better this year? Who said it would be with the help of Desagna Diop (a man who while in
could barely run, let alone dribble, let alone score)? I don't know if Cleveland can keep this up but as of right now I have them as the top challenger to the Spurs. Dallas
Saturday, November 19, 2005
Troy Smith had an outstanding drive at the end to push OSU over the Wolverines 25 - 21. Michigan's special teams and defense (two fumble recoveries) kept them in the game but ultimately Michigan ran out of time at the end of the game. Whew. Hats off to the OSU rush defense that limited the potent Michigan rushing attack to 31 yards. Michigan has struggled this entire year when the offense becomes one dimensional and this was no exception. I really want to know what sedatives Tressel is on because I swear that man is unflappable. The only bummer was the number of injuries. I hate seeing seniors get hurt this late in the season and Bobby Carpenter breaking his ankle was a shame. Nonetheless great game. 364 days till another OSU v. Michigan game and it can't come soon enough.
Friday, November 18, 2005
This kind of system is going to ruin the playoffs. The idea is to have the two best teams in each conference playing for the Conference Championship, it allows for a slow building of tension rather than premature celebration. I can't defend the current set up anymore. Even the NFL pretty much relegates the struggling division winner to that of a wildcard team. So NBA, I'm calling you out. Change your system or I'm handing out lollipops and ass-kickings and I'm fresh out of lollipops.
The story continues by saying that he "wants an opportunity to close for a team that has a chance at the championship" and identified the Blue Jays, Tigers and Mets as interesting to him. Maybe the Blue Jays have an outside shot at the championship (big maybe, but at least it's possible). But the Tigers? What on earth are you talking about dude? Plus, why would the Tigers be interested in you? They already have Troy Percival signed to a bad contract, not to mention the bad contracts of Pudge Rodriguez and Magglio Ordonez. The Tigers aren't competing in October anytime soon.
The Mets? The Mets are certainly a team of the future -- David Wright, Jose Reyes, Mike Jacobs, Victor Diaz, Lastings Milledge and Aaron Heilman make it so. Perhaps they can compete sooner if the young kids play great and Pedro and Glavine each have one more spectacular year like 2005. But then we go back to the issue of stress. Why would BJ Ryan think that Queens is any less stressful than the Bronx? It's the same press corps and the same rabid baseball fans in the same city. He should ask Braden Looper what the stress level is like at Shea. Looper got booed off the field at least 10 times this year.
Thursday, November 17, 2005
Here's the link
I would recommend the article on the website about Skip Bayless titled "I think the exact opposite of you about sports"
Although my favorite is the headline that reads: Barry Bonds punches Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth's corpse, "I'm the homerun king"
Wouldn't that be something? The Toronto Blue Jays actually participating in an off-season transaction where they're adding, not subtracting talent? What gives? Where has this desire to compete been for the last 10 years? What changed that they can now allocate an extra $20M in payroll for 2006? If I were a Blue Jays fan, I'd be happy that they're deciding to get back in the game but I'd also be pissed that it's taken the franchise this long to wake up and realize that players won't just come to Toronto because there's a McDonald's in the stadium and really good beer on tap (Molson Canadian). If the Blue Jays actually land AJ Burnett, they'll have a 3-man rotation of Halladay, Chacin and Burnett with Lilly and Bush at the back end. That's two lefties (Chacin, Lilly), two power pitchers (Halladay, Burnett) and Bush. Not a bad rotation. Oh, sure, their offense is still crap and they won't run with the Yanks and Red Sox for more than a few months (see Orioles, 2005) but at least Toronto is making an effort.
That's more than I can say for the New York Mets. What on earth are they going to do with Xavier Nady? Mike Cameron may not the greatest player in the game but he's certainly not a bad player. He had more trade value than just Xavier Nady. I can't figure this move out. If the Mets are intent on making a big splash by going after Manny Ramirez and Alfonso Soriano, I'm not sure how trading Mike Cameron furthered those plans along. Both the Rangers and Red Sox are in the market for an everyday CF. The Mets had the luxury of having two -- Cameron and Beltran -- so trading one (clearly, Cameron) made sense. But for Nady? So he can back up Mike Jacobs at 1st base and keep RF warm for one season while uber-prospect Lastings Milledge gets more seasoning in AAA-Norfolk? What the hell is Xavier Nady's trade worth? I have to give Mets GM Omar Minaya the benefit of the doubt since he made the Mets a .500 team again but I just don't see the next move here.
* * * * *
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
Manwich Matchup of the Week-
TB @ Atlanta- This should be a great game. Apparently, the Falcons partied all week leading up to the Green Bay game. This was similar to someone drinking heavily before a Mario Kart battle, and thinking they could perform just as well. The Falcons just didn’t realize that everyone has limits. Just like the Falcons, even I could win in Mario Kart while drunk, but not every time. I have a feeling the Falcons will be more motivated this week after their pathetic loss last week.
Upset of the Week-
Indy @ Cincy – I agree that the Colts are the best team in the league, and they still will be even if they lose. There may only be one thing that can stop them, the dreaded spiked shell. Eventually, someone gets a spiked shell to provide a setback to the leader, and I think the Bengals are more than capable of launching that spiked shell. And remember, once launched, there’s no escaping the spiked shell.
Arizona @ St. Louis- After Roy Williams used a super-mushroom 3 times to get past the Cardinals last week, the Rams were welcoming a change. Unfortunately, the Cardinals travel to the super-fast St. Louis Speedway.
Pick: St. Louis
CAR @ Chicago- The Chicago “Donkey Kongs” have been using a combination of brute strength, heat-seeking turtle shells, and the motto that “slow and steady wins the race.” Unfortunately for them, they are playing a team that is not afraid to litter the course with bananas while using speed (Steve Smith) to evade any shells.
Detroit @ Dallas- The star is that invincible item, right?
Jacksonville @ Tennessee- I could picture Jacksonville letting Tennesee have the lead in the beginning of the game, just so that they could pick up some red shells and beat the Titans silly.
Miami @ Cleveland- After getting waxed by Pittsburgh, Cleveland head coach Romeo Crennel told his team, “We will never be able to compete in this league unless we are able to power slide.”
New Orleans @ New England- And Coach Bill Belichick said, “Let’s go!”
Pick: New England
Oakland @ Washington- Don’t you hate when you finish 4 races, and someone has to get up to reset the machine, because it’s absolutely mind-numbing to sit through that awards ceremony?
Philly @ NY Giants- I’d be pretty disappointed if I were the Eagles and used my “ghost”, hoping for a good item, and then it only turned out to be QB Mike McMahon.
Pick: NY Giants
Pittsburgh @ Baltimore- And the evil Wario laughed, “I’m a Pittsburgh, and I’m a gonna win!”
Seattle @ San Fran- San Fran may be a glitch in the NFL – a team that really is from the 50cc but competing on the 150cc. As we all know, the 50cc circuit is inferior, and the other racers purposely run into obstacles and fall into lava pits, just to allow you to win. It’s kind of similar to the 49ers strategy for this season.
Buffalo @ San Diego- This should be an interesting game, but San Diego is represented by a lightning bolt, the best item in the game, and could shrink their opponents to mini-Bills at any moment.
Pick: San Diego
NY Jets @ Denver- And the Jets kept screaming, “I swear my controller isn’t working!" Denver refused to reset the game though.
KC @ Houston- After yet another loss, Houston QB David Carr said, “oh man, how did that red shell get through my offensive line. I had all 3 shells rotating about me!”
Minnesota @ GB- Mike Tice, regarding his injured knee from last week when someone ran into him on the sideline: “This is an insignificant injury. You can't keep me off the sideline. MCL, PCL, ACL, cartilage, I don't really care. I don't have to tackle or block or do any of those things. I just walk up and down, talk in the headphones." Let’s just hope he doesn’t walk into any fake prize-boxes.
Last week: 9-5 (Good! The league isn’t as predictable as feared.)
Manwich Matchup: 6-4 (Thank you Seattle SuperSeahawks)
Upset Special: 2-8 (This time the Chiefs did me in. I stink at upsets this year.)
“Of course, it's been a tough November for Larry-boosters; his old team, the Pistons, have proven to be better without him. Apparently, the real “right way” in Detroit includes offense.”
I still want to see how Detroit does in the NBA finals (assuming they even get there). Until Detroit wins another title without Larry Brown, I don't see how they can be better off without him. Sure, they can be better off without him for the drama he causes and he distractions he creates but, until proven otherwise in the playoffs, they are not better without him as a basketball team. I don't care if the 2005 Pistons turn into the Doug Moe Denver Nuggets of 1982 that averaged 126.5 points per game. As far as I'm concerned, if Shanoff's criteria of Brown's skill as a coach is how many points his former team is scoring without him, well, I guess he probably thinks Flip Saunders is a Hall of Fame coach. I guess I could probably convince Shanoff that Mike Martz is a good coach too -- after all, his team isn't scoring as much now that Martz is gone.
The thing about this new agreement that I don't understand is why amphetamines were part of the deal. They have been a part of baseball for 60 years (Mickey Mantle used to take them) and not all of them are dangerous. Sure ephedra is bad, but is ritalin or adderal? If doctors prescribe these drugs to 11 year old children for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, why can't athletes in peak condition take them? Besides the legal question of taking a controlled substance without a doctor's prescription, who really cares if taking a pill before a big game helps you focus? Is that really cheating? Banning greenies, as they're called, is just overkill.
Sure, Congress and the morality police would have you believe that the game should be played free and clear of any and all chemicals. But caffiene is a stimulant and caffiene is one of the main ingredients in some of these greenies. So, no more coffee in the clubhouse?
This all goes back to Davis and McCain and Waxman and Bunning being morons, wasting taxpayer dollars and precious time on a big, fat non-issue. And then both parties wonder why more than half of voting-age Americans, like myself, have been turned off by the political process? Here's some advice to the "honorable" politicians: now that steroid-free ballplayers' nuts will go back to their normal size, why don't you go gag on them you miserable fucks.
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
You know what? It was actually a pretty good show. Stephen A. did a pretty solid, if unspectacular, job of leading discussion and carrying on the various debates. He stated his opinions without the hyperbole we've seen when he's been a commentator on SportsCenter or NBA Fast Break, and in particular was adept at asking questions of his panelists to draw out some insight and analysis into the subjects at hand.
Quite frankly, Stephen A., you've bought yourself another half-hour of my attention next week. If what I saw last week is any indication of your show in general, then I'll be happy to support your program as an example of what good sports TV is about.
Quite frankly, though, I'm not crossing my fingers.
Statistically speaking, Pujols had the best all-around season in the National League. The problem is, I don’t think that is what the MVP is all about. I think the MVP shouldn’t just be the “best batter” award (we already have that with the Silver Slugger and the Hank Aaron awards). I think the MVP should take other factors into consideration – issues of impact and “clutchness” as well as team adversity, team strength, placement in the standings and other stuff along those lines. Sure, you have to meet a certain statistical standard to even be considered, otherwise you’d have guys like Chris Burke winning MVP’s because they hit one more meaningful homer than, say, Jeff Bagwell or Morgan Ensberg. But once you weed out the crowd and you get down to your final candidates, you have to go beyond stats. You have to look at a player’s contributions to the team beyond numbers.
Am I opening myself up to conversations of “well, that means David Ortiz should’ve won the MVP over ARod!”? – you bet I am. As a Yankee fan, I’m happy that one of our own won the award. I think it was well-deserved. But I also would’ve understood if Ortiz had won and would’ve found it perfectly legitimate.
The fact is that despite all of Pujols’ impressive stats and his easy-to-root-for personality, Andruw Jones meant more to the Braves than Albert Pujols meant to the Cards. I know that might sound strange but its true. Given the crappy state of the NL Central, the Cards probably would’ve won their division even if Albert had gone on the 15-day DL at some point. The same cannot be said of Atlanta’s chances. They played in the best division in baseball and Andruw going down for an extended period of time would’ve sunk the Braves. Andruw carried the Atlanta Braves on his back all summer long. He had no protection in the lineup, he played alongside a half-dozen or more rookies and he steered his team to their 14th straight division title. To me, that is unbelievable. To hit 51 homers on a team like that? Sure, Rolen missed the whole season and Edmonds wasn’t 100% this year but Pujols still hit in a better lineup, in a more hitter-friendly park, on a better team that was expected to win. Jones took a team that was written off and delivered them to October’s doorstep.
To penalize Andruw Jones for being a lazy fat-ass who has squandered his natural talent in pursuit of the perfect cheeseburger isn’t fair. I don’t believe that Andruw Jones will ever have a season like this again, one where he hits meaningful homers and carries his team to the top of the heap. He earned his MVP in my mind and he should’ve been awarded it accordingly. Remember this: if Albert Pujols never wins an MVP because each and every year there is someone better, that’s not anyone’s fault. It happens. It’s not the writers’ responsibility to handicap the field and decide that this is the year they correct past mistakes or squeeze in an award before Bonds or another player comes back.
At the end of the day, I don’t think Pujols’ victory is legitimate. I think it’s a case of the writers sticking to their pre-season predictions, not wanting to be wrong, not wanting to do the right thing.
Anyway, onto the quote of the day. Now, I'm not saying Mike Tice is dumb, but:
"Vikings coach Mike Tice says that the knee injury he suffered when Giants special-teamer Jamaar Taylor crashed into him during a punt return on Sunday won't keep him from the sidelines. Tice will still coach even if he is unable to walk. But on the bright side, such an immobilization would allow Tice to take up gum-chewing again." -Pete McEntegart (courtesy of Sports Illustrated)
I watched an episode of Nip/Tuck the other day. The nicest thing I can say is that, for a straight cable channel, it was disturbingly vile. My first thought: How on God's green earth can this show be on cable TV and not on, at least, a pay-cable tier? Is anyone at the FCC watching a cable show that has graphic sex scenes? I'll get off my prudish high horse, but that show belongs on TV only after midnight on HBO or Showtime.Guess what Pete, some of us don't schedule our lives around over-priced corporate coffee. Not all of us live in some gated white community. You want to be walking suburban stereotype, knock yourself off out Pete. However try to avoid throwing yourself into some puritanical tizzy because maybe you can see someone's bare ankle or back. Maybe you missed the headlines that a lot of tv networks refused to air Saving Private Ryan because they feared FCC fines. Maybe you've missed the fact that show after show is being self-censored for fear that the government will shut it down. Obviously not Peter King, since he's not so subtly advocating the FCC be even more of a Talibanesque nanny.Yeah thats the America I want, a place were creative freedom and diversity is regulated by a guy that thinks the sun rises and sets on 5 dollar coffee. Listen here Ayatollah King, you prove that your able to comprehend concepts more complicated than opening a door and I'll consider letting you comment on the world outside of your white white world. In the meantime stick to Boston sports since its apparently the only thing your qualified to comment on.
Sunday, November 13, 2005
Rivalries. Sports wouldn't be sports without good rivalries. There's always one team on the schedule that you have circled. That one team that as long as your team beats them, the season doesn't seem so bad or conversely everything could go well but a loss to the arch-rival spoils the season much like the FCC spoils a good movie. Personally I think college football on average have the best rivalries. Don't get me wrong there are ton of other rivalries worthy of watching (Sox v. Yanks, UNC v. Duke, Steelers v. Browns, Cubs v. Cards, Tyson v. the Law) but college football has the most for 3 simple reasons: 1) They typically involve larger geographic blocks, i.e. state v. state, and bigger is better. 2) They typically happen only once a year, so there's no margin for error and no redemption. You screw up and you have to wait for another 364 days and 3) the one rivalry game can determine success or failure for the entire season. In baseball one series does not make or break a season. In college football there are so few competitive games, that rivalry games typically are the difference between playing on New Years day and hanging out in the Tidy Bowl Classic. My top college rivalries (based on history, relevance and hype)
6. USC v. Notre Dame - The original hyped game of East v. West. Southern Cal Hollywood v. Catholic
3. Army v. Navy - This one gets the nod because of history. The series is currently tied 49-49. Would you want to be the team that lets the opposing service to be the first one to get to 50 wins? I think you get shipped to some place awful like
2. Aurburn v. Alabama- The Iron Bowl has been played for over 110 years and I think the original fight was over who would get the state's only set of encyclopedias. Unfortunately the game was a tie so neither school got the books. Nonetheless lets be honest there is nothing in the entire
1. OSU v. That Team Up North - Woody Hayes never dared to blasphemy by speaking the name of OSU's archrival and neither will this column. Unless it’s surrounded by swear words or humorous pictures. Nonetheless, OSU v. Those People nearly always has Big 10 title implications. There's no friendly pat on the back after a good play or a crowd that doesn't threaten the life of opposing fans. Nope this is gladiatorial combat on the field, in the stands, and in the streets. I've already put fire retardant material around my apartment for the necessary riot. If that’s not the sign of a good rivalry, I don't know what it is. To celebrate Rivalry week I can say with some amount of certainty that supporters of That Team Up North are hairy, smelly people that can go fornicate themselves.
Quick NFL Hits
This week's Bronze Testicle Award goes to John Gruden and his 2 point conversion against
Big win of the week goes to
The Don't Show Up on Monday Award goes to the Giants special teams. Tom Coughlin will have you killed, your family killed, your house burnt to the ground and possibly your dogs sexually molested. He doesn't mess around when players lose games on special teams. As such your only chance for survival is to skip town and go into the witness protection program.
Finally the Under the Radar Award goes to