So, when can I see the Red Sox-Phillies World Series I was promised?
(10/7/2011) Earlier in the year, I chronicled the start of the Boston Red Sox season and offered data to show that few teams have ever started the season 0-5 and made the playoffs. This, of course, was on the heels of every talking head who had already penciled the Red Sox and Phillies into the World Series back in May, simply because each team acquired key off season pieces that were supposed to make each team a lock. After watching my beloved Yankees get knocked out by the Tigers, a team no one picked to make “series” (yes, that’s a play on words) noise in the weak AL Central let alone the AL pennant race, I decided to revisit those payroll numbers that most believe to be the most important factor in determining who gets invited to the postseason tournament and who advances. Let’s compare who should have made the playoffs and how it should have played out, using payroll ranking figures provided in parenthesis:
2011 MLB Playoffs for “Payroll Guy”:
AL.DS: Yankees (1) vs. Chicago Whitesox (5) AND Boston Red Sox (3) vs LA Angels (4). This should have resulted in the Yankees beating the Red Sox to advance to the World Series, at least in payroll guy’s mind, though I’m sure the Red Sox knocking off the Yankess (I mean, they got Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford in the offseason for crying out loud) probably would have surprised no one.
NLDS: Philadelphia (2) vs. S.F. Giants (8) AND Chicago Cubs (6) vs. New York Mets (7). This should have lead to the Phillies beating the Cubs in the NLCS, though let’s be honest, none of us would have been surprised if the Cubs ended up getting swept in Round one, even if it was the Mess doing the sweeping.
Of course the Whitesox (who already have a new manager), Red Sox (epic September collapse, Francona is leaving the team), Angels, Giants, Cubs, and the New York Madoffs all missed the playoffs this year. Instead, they were replaced by Tigers (10), St. Louis Cardinals (11), Texas Rangers (13), Brewers (17), Diamondbacks (25), and Rays (29) (can payroll guy even explain to me how the last two got in? I’m waiting). And it’s not like the teams operating at the middle or the bottom of the payroll pack were not competitive—the Yankees have been beaten by the Tigers, and the Cardinals and Diamondbacks have pushed their series to definitive game fives.
I want to make this clear—no one is saying that money doesn’t matter or that it doesn’t give a team an advantage, it does. But it isn’t ALL that matters. There simply is no way to explain why a bunch of teams in the top five didn’t even come close to sniffing the playoffs this year, while two teams ranked #25 and #29 did (though this explains it about as much as anything does). And lest MLB fan thinks this is an anomaly, remember, last year’s series featured the Rangers (#27) against the San Francisco Giants (#10), and that the Rays were in the World Series a year before that.
If this sounds like it’s coming from a pissed off Yankee fan, that’s because it is. I want the World Championship that we paid for payroll guy.
This is what never gets discussed by the pundits who get overpaid to fill columns with tripe geared towards getting pissed off sheep to click on their links—oversigning veterans to high priced contracts with declining skill sets simply doesn’t work, as I discussed here.
Don’t believe me, track down Alex Rodriguez, or John Lackey, or Alphonso Soriano, or Tori Hunter, or A.J. Pierzynski and ask ‘em–just let ‘em finish their putts first.
Apparently they don’t teach ‘em history down in them parts
In case you are wondering if it is possible to completely remove a game from one’s memory after a win is vacated, it is. Just ask Bobby Petrino, who can’t remember losing to one of those slow teams up north just seven months ago.
(8/30/2010) Apparently Hogs coach Bobby Petrino showed up for a press conference but thought it was open mike night. When asked about winning a championship, Petrino had this to say:
“We need to get to Atlanta and win the SEC championship game,” Petrino said. ” And then history shows that you go to a national championship bowl game and draw one of those slow schools from the north and you beat them.”
Either Mr. Petrino doesn’t know his history, or he needs to make an appointment with his family doctor and have that memory issue thing checked out. Does this ring a bell Bobby?
Ohio State 31, Arkansas 26.
Yeah, I know, it didn’t happen, I just dreamed about it. But in my dreams, I remember Ohio State going up big in the first half, track meet style. I remember the Arkansas punter getting a pretty good workout too. And while I remember a bunch of dropped balls by Arkansas receivers, I don’t remember any of them several yards behind the Buckeyes defensive backs.
In the one season Arkansas was actually relevant, they lost to one of those slow Big Ten teams. Florida and LSU (and even Alabama) can joke about treating recent Big Ten opponents as punching bags, because, well, they actually did it. I’d say, “see ya in January Bobby,” but we both know that would be a lie. Enjoy the Music City Bowl or some other game the rest of us won’t be watching.
ESPN and the Posada Saga
(5/16/2011) Jorge Posada, the Yankees catcher, asked to be removed from the lineup for a game, possibly after he saw that he was hitting ninth. In other news, an elderly woman in Topeka Kansas returned home safely after buying a quart of milk.
During the telecast of the Yankees-Red Sox game last night, at the exact moment the announcers expounded endlessly on this “scandal,” a ticker across the bottom continued to inform us that Posada was out of the lineup on Saturday and that he apologized to the team. CNN runs such tickers to inform us that Osama Bin Laden has been killed by American forces. I guess CNN is doing their thing and ESPN is doing theirs.
Then today, while listening to Colin Cowherd’s show, the attention getting promo teaser offered “Posada sits out and Yankees are reeling. Is it time to blow up the team from the Bronx?” To expound on this manufactured drama, ESPN was going to ask none other than Curt Schilling, the same Curt Schilling who won the hearts and minds of Red Sox nation because he forgot to put the cap back on his Ketchup bottle as he choked down a pre-playoff game hotdog. Needless to say, this guy shut the radio off before the interview started.
This is the exact sort of drama that ESPN loves dredging up and beating into the ground until you are forced to hit the mute button on your remote or change the channel altogether. The dude asked for a day off, just like many of us do from time to time when we call in and ask for a “sick” day (a former boss of mine called it a mental health day). And it’s not exactly like it was Prince Albert in his prime asking for the day off—Posada is riding on the I-65, last amongst all MLB regulars. For the confused people in Bristol I’ll flip the light switch on for a few seconds—dude’s 39 and he’s the latest star who hasn’t been able to discover the fountain of youth. In a moment of frustration, he took his bat and went home so to speak. End of story.
Calling ESPN a news sources is a little like claiming that Bethany Ever After’s TV program is a critical intellectual think tank. ESPN loves taking a story that isn’t, repeating it over and over, usually interviewing other biased irrelevant prima-donnas, and then repeating it over and over some more until they are able to dream up the next bit of nauseating nonsense. Never forget for a moment that the “E” in ESPN stands for “entertainment” (and no, the “N” does not stand for news).
God I hate when ESPN has exclusive rights to a sporting event that I actually want to see, which now a days, is pretty much all the time. Thank goodness we have laws in this country to prevent monopolies.
Why the Arizona Cardinals will almost certainly trade down in the draft
I wonder how many times this guy was told there was no change in the piggy-bank to improve his team. Here’s to guessing he has already heard this ahead of tonight’s draft.
(4/28/2011) Those who accidentally find their way to the poleposition.com know that I write about the train wreck that is the Arizona Cardinals more that I ought to, since by no one’s definition would I be considered a fan. Perhaps some background is necessary to explain what appears to be just a bit of an obsession.
Though I was a Steelers fan since the age of eight, when I moved to Arizona in 1990, I tried to root for the Cardinals, at least in those instances where it didn’t impact the Steelers (which was all the time, since the Cards played out west and usually hovered around the four win mark). It took me four years (too many) to realize what they were all about—losing football games, blowing draft choices, and in the rare instance when they drafted correctly and developed a player, they let him walk rather than pay him fair market value.
After the Cardinals improbable Super Bowl run a few years ago, fueled by the good luck of pulling a future hall of famer off of the scrap heap (brought in by the Cardinals to be a mentor to a QB who threw like a girl, but I digress), the Cardinals immediately reverted back to form when Warner unexpectedly retired a season ago. Despite the salary windfall, the Cardinals came in some $35 million dollars under the cap last year, brought in a retread of a QB from the Cleveland Browns’ trash bin of all places, and told their coach there just wasn’t enough money for an insurance policy named Bulger. Predictably, the Cardinals returned to form, blowing an opportunity to win one of the weakest divisions in the history of organized sports.
I bring all of this up now because it makes me chuckle to hear national pundits predict that the Cardinals will draft a QB like Blaine Gabbert at number five in a few hours. Once I heard that the injunction was lifted by Judge Nelsojn, without a new rookie salary cap in place, I had all the information I needed to know how the Arizona Cardinals would proceed with their first round pick this year. As I have said many times on this site, I don’t do predictions, which is another way of saying I have no idea whether Gabbert is the next Tom Brady or Joey Harrington (statistically, he’ll probably fall somewhere in between, but who really knows exactly where). What I do do on this site is study available evidence and trends, then draw logical conclusions from there.
Having said all of this, expect the Arizona Cardinals to trade down in the draft, for the simple reason they have no intention of paying draft pick #5 money to anyone. They will of course package this to the fans as “we have many needs and are accumulating multiple draft picks.”
History suggests the Arizona Cardinals have only one need, and that is to save money.
NFL caught with Pants down, slowly losing PR battle with the players
While Goodell was busy selling the players’ position as NFL Armageddon, Owners who had three weeks to deal with anticipated Court loss couldn’t advise teams how to procced when players showed up at practice facilities on Tuesday.
(4/27/2011) On Monday, April 25, Judge Nelson ruled for the NFLTA lifting the lockout, presumably ending the present standoff, at least pending an appeal (i.e. mommy said no, so go ask daddy, who will also probably say no).
So what did the players do, they tried to return to work. While players were literally trying to gain access to practice facilities, the NFL was issuing the following statement: “[t]he NFL said Tuesday that it needed a few days to sort this out and provide rules for everyone to follow.” As a result, some teams like the Giants were allowing players access to facilities, while others in Arizona and Chicago were turning players away (in Arizona, the owners just took the locks off of the Gatorade coolers and moved them to the front door).
Are you kidding me NFL?
The original hearing before Judge Nelson was held on April 6, 2011. There were only two possible outcomes—the lockout was lifted or it wasn’t. With Judge Nelson strongly hinting that she was siding with the players, gauging by the tough questions asked of NFL lawyers, and every Joe Dick and Harry predicting a victory for the players, the financial keepers of a $9 billion dollar industry and their clearly over-priced suits were caught with their pants around their ankles on Tuesday.
It’s not only embarrassing, but it risks tipping the balance in the Court of public opinion from that of the owners to players, not that either side has acted as if the fans matter at all.
At this point the players are just asking to return basically to last year’s rules and can sell to the public that all they want to do is play football, a result that happens to coincide with the only thing that actually matters to the fans. Amidst mounting losses for the NFL in the Courts comes this embarrassing scenario whereby the League couldn’t take advantage of nearly a three week window to prepare themselves for a Court loss that was anticipated by just about everyone in the free world. What in the world are they paying all those lawyers to do?
If this is how Goodell (busy composing a silly letter deriding the players initial bargaining position as a doomsday scenario, clearly a hack for the owners) and his merry band of idiots intend to fight the “good fight,” send the suits home and waive the white flag, because you are already beaten by a not so closely unified group of players who, when I last wrote about this, were busy shooting themselves in the foot with their own stupid brand of unique idiocy (NFL players aren’t really the functional equivalent of slaves despite what some of them would have you believe).
It’s amazing that men of so little business acumen have managed to create a $9 billion dollar golden goose. Perhaps then, it should not surprise anyone that they are being so careless with it.
Why Preseason Championship Picks are Downright Silly
The collective Red Sox season thus far has been a swing and a miss, as the 2011 team has started 0-5.
(4/6/2010) Baseball fans love those preseason articles that predict the annual winners and losers in professional sports, possibly even more than some love the actual games themselves. As I have said many times before on here, they are silly, if for no other reason than many things can go wrong in a six month season (or, go exactly as they should, with many of us ignoring things like the inevitable decline of a player). I mean, raise your hand if you hand the Giants beating the Rangers in the World Series last year (now put your hand down and sit down quietly, because you sir, are full of shit)?
It is precisely these silly predictions that had me take notice that everyone in the free world had pretty much handed the Red Sox the World Series trophy simply because they acquired two high profile sluggers. The thing is, the Sox sit at 0-5.
Yes, 5 is but a small number of games played off the 162 game schedule. But, as printed in CNNSI today, consider the following:
In major league history, which dates to 1871, 110 teams have started a season 0-5. Just two of those 110 went on to make the postseason, less than two percent. Those two teams were the 1974 Pirates and 1995 Reds, both of whom actually started their seasons 0-6. Thirty-nine teams extended their season-opening losing streaks to seven games. Only one of those clubs finished as high as third place.
Why is this you might ask? Think about this mathematically—if the worst team in the league loses 100 games, it still means they win 38% of their games, or two of the five games (one baseball promo pointed out that every team will win 60 games and lose 60 games, it’s what you do with the 42 games in the middle. Makes you think, doesn’t it)? And again, two in five is reserved for the horrible teams. Teams that start 0-5 went one full turn through the rotation and couldn’t muster even one win, which would be the equivalent of a full season record of approximately 32-132. It isn’t that there isn’t time to turn it around, there is, it’s just that starting off 0-5 or 0-7 speaks to some pretty significant problems on the team, at least if they are generally healthy (as a for instance, teams like the Mariners, Diamondbacks, and Indians, three teams expected to lose 90+ games all already have 2 wins—this can’t make Tampa Bay, Houston, and Boston fans feel good). And with the Red Sox getting back Youkilis and Pedroia, they are considered at full strength.
Further analysis of the problem indicates exactly what’s wrong with the Red Sox—their starting pitching. Witness these performances from the back end of the rotation last year:
John Lackey, 4.40 ERA, 1.419 WHIP
Daisuke Matsuzaka, 4.69, 1.373
Josh Beckett, 5.78, 1.535
Through the first four games, the team ERA is 8.16 with a 1.72 WHIP (Beckett’s numbers are about the same, Lackey was hammered in one start so his numbers should get better though many are saying his fastball isn’t what it used to be, and Daiske’s 8-4 loss to the Indians today is not yet included in these numbers).
The point is this—the issue last year when the Red Sox missed the playoffs was the inconsistency of the rotation, particularly the back end. Thus far, the issue with the Red Sox so far has been the poor performance of their starting rotation, the same rotation that was considered suspect last year. While the additions of Gonzalez and Crawford were nice, those dudes don’t pitch.
Since pitching wins games, why did everyone in the free world pencil the Red Sox in as presumptive world champs?
I am not saying that the Red Sox can’t win it, they most certainly can. But ignoring a team’s weakness because they acquired two high profile offensive players when starting pitching was the question mark all along and blindly penciling them in as overwhelming favorites to win it all is beyond stupid.
Where is the Outrage with the NCAA handling of the Calhoun Scandal?
After outrage that OSU was allowed to play the Tat-5 in the Sugar Bowl, the Poleposition wants to know, why don’t fans care that Coach Calhoun was allowed to coach the Huskies this year despite an NCAA finding of recruiting violations regarding an agent and a player named Nate Miles?
(4/5/2010) Hardly a day went by when I didn’t read or hear from an outraged fan that the NCAA allowed Ohio State to play the Tat-5 in the Sugar Bowl despite the fact that it was clear that those involved sold their memorabilia against NCAA rules. A strong argument could be made based on previous treatment of similar violations that these players should not have been allowed to suit up and play in that BCS game (e.g. see A.J. Green’s in season 4 game suspension)—an argument yours truly made which can be seen here.
But here is my question: with U-Conn winning the big prize last night, where is the outrage that Calhoun was allowed to coach that game?
Despite first publically denying any wrong doing, the University of Connecticut has now acknowledged an improper relationship between Coach Calhoun and/or his staff and a professional agent named Josh Nochimson and a potential scholarship player by the name of Nate Miles. Phone records have conclusively proven a connection between this professional agent, Miles, and members of the UConn coaching staff, at times up to three phone calls a day. Though this was known well ahead of this year’s March Madness tournament, Calhoun was still allowed to coach the Huskies to a championship.
Where is the outrage?
Maybe it’s because it’s college basketball and no one really gives a shit (don’t believe me, check out the ratings for the last few rounds of this year’s tournament), but it’s completely inconsistent to be outraged that OSU’s players were allowed to play in a bowl game but give the NCAA a pass when it looked the other way on Coach Calhoun, especially since the Tat-5 will miss 41% of the Ohio State’s regular season games next year while Calhoun’s slap on the wrist will be 3 meaningless regular season conference [exhibition] games, or 9 % of the U-Conn season (keep in mind, U-Conn was 9-9 in conference play in the Big East this year, and still won the whole thing, so missing three games will hardly matter).
The NCAA is consistent—if it means devaluing their product ahead of important games, they will not do it. That’s why the Tat-5 was allowed to play in the Sugar Bowl, why the NCAA reinstated Scam Newton ahead of the SEC championship game (I still believe I will be proven correct one day that the Newton’s took some cash—stay tuned), and why Calhoun’s punishment was delayed to next season while U-Conn was on this magical run. All I ask of the fans is to also be consistent when it comes to your moral outrage. Is that too much to ask?
Owners strategy, sit back and let the players talk
Adrian Peterson says the arrangement in the NFL is modern day slavery. Here’s the difference Adrian: slaves of yesteryear didn’t own 12,000 square-foot houses, they cleaned them.
(3/16/2011) I hate to perpetuate stereotypes in this column (and despite what politically correct people will say on the subject, stereotypes exist for a reason), but comments like the ones made by Adrian Peterson highlight the difference between owners who are astute businessmen and the players who are often kids from the wrong side of the tracks who simply were given a special gift from God.
Witness Adrian Peterson, who came out and said that NFL players were essentially modern day slaves. I could go off for paragraphs on the absurdity of this statement but will leave it at this: most modern day (or even latter day slaves) weren’t residing in 12,000 square foot houses cruising out to their 12 car garage in one of their many motorirized golf carts pondering which of the Bentleys to take out of for a Sunday spin. Couple this with comments from some of the players that they may find themselves without health care (it’s called COBRA–withdraw some of the millions of dollars you should have in the bank and buy a policy like the rest of us), and it’s obvious to me that NFL players are completely out of touch with the economic conditions that plague many of the fans they count on to spend hundreds of their discretionary dollars to support this multi-billion dollar business.
Whether it will prove successful or not, both sides have decided to fight part of the battle in the court of public opinion. I discussed this below, but one advantage the owners have always had is that the general public has no idea just how much the owners are truly making from the NFL (if they are willing to admit $9 billion in profits, how much must they really be raking in?), whereas, every contract negotiation plays out in the media for the entire world to see. Because of this, most fans believe, whether fair or not, that the players are making too much money (which is absurd to me, because unless you know the size of the pie, how can you say the players piece is too big?). And that’s why statements such as Peterson’s are not only absurd, but counter-productive—exaggerating your plight at a time when public opinion is against you will only alienate the guy who has lost his job and has no healthcare who may now be deprived of one of the few things he really enjoys in his life. Stupid, really stupid.
The owners were successful in other walks in life because they have figured out how to play the game. Undoubtedly, the strategy of this exclusive club of 32 is to sit back and wait for the players to open their mouth and talk about this (you know the joke—how do you know when an athlete is saying something stupid? His lips are moving). While this may be a bit more difficult for the NFLTA after decertification, if the players don’t want to get buried in the Court of public opinion, it’s time someone teach them the rules of the game.
Is the NFL Union Going too far?
As much as I hate to admit it, the man who did absolutely nothing to prevent a lockout is right, the parties need to start talking again before the courts get too involved.
(3/15/2011) Just a few weeks ago, I had the players back in the $9 billion dollar cash grab—at a time of record profits, if you want to claim you are losing money, well, you’re going to have to prove it, especially when all the players were asking for was the status quo.
But now, I have some problems with the strategies of the NFLTA (National Football League Trade Association).
After desertification, the union has made some curiously antagonistic choices.
First, I find it amusing that they are attempting to encourage prospective draftees to avoid the draft in New York. I say this, because, the union almost immediately caved on the issue of restructuring the rookie salary cap, the very same folks you are asking to pass on maybe the most important moment in their lives. If I’m the players, I’m looking for one of those puffy foam fingers, though one with a different digit extended. And how exactly is that going to further your message anyway? You have already decertified the union and the matter appears headed towards a courtroom showdown—does the NFLTA really expect that the owners will suddenly reverse field because a few top choices won’t show up for the draft? Since this won’t accomplish anything at all, it’s just spiteful, and since you will one day be back in business with the owners, it’s just bad business.
And speaking of bad business, why are the players refusing to talk until the scheduled first court date on April 6th? From this lawyer’s perspective, the union’s leverage may never be greater than it is right now, as the players won the first court battle already and with desertification and court action pending, it’s possible the owners may be forced to reevaluate their position. Take it from this trial lawyer, but once legal action hits the courtroom, it rarely goes exactly as expected. All it would take would be one adverse ruling to change the course of momentum (like say, the Court saying the players aren’t entitled to look at the books), and the fickle pendulum called momentum may swing back the other way. If the owners are terrified of opening their books, as many believe, the mere threat that this could happen maximizes leverage for the players association right now.
And one more thing to consider—despite the fact that the owners are asking the players to take a pay cut despite the fact that they won’t open their books, most polls that I have seen still show that the majority of fans side with ownership over the players. From this guy’s perspective, the NFLTA can ill-afford any more setbacks in the courtroom of public opinion. Being obstinate and asking rookies to avoid the draft and refusing to negotiate, at a time when public sympathy may be against you, may just be the worst possible strategy for the players association. Maximize your leverage and sit back down at the negotiating table and see if the threat of forcing the owners to open the books will be enough to get them to essentially extend the same CBA that has been in place before all of this nonsense started in the first place.
If it walks like a bust, quacks like a bust, well you know the rest….
Being the next great NFL QB isn’t enough for Cam, he also wants to be P diddy. Buyer beware.
(2/27/2011) A couple of days ago Cam Newton came out and said he didn’t just want to be a quarterback, he wanted to be an entertainer. That’s a good idea Cam, because being a NFL quarterback isn’t hard enough. Maybe he can call timeouts and perform brain surgery on the sidelines. I don’t know if I am more disturbed by the fact that he said this at all, or that he wasn’t smart enough to wait until someone already inked him to a ridiculous contract before saying something so stupid.
If the previous warnings didn’t sound the alarm, then this probably won’t either. There are so many things to be concerned about with Cam Newton, that I feel comfortable saying only a fool would take this kid with a high first round pick and pay him the commensurate money that goes along with it.
First of all, he had exactly 1 great college year in a read and react offense that worked like this—if your first option isn’t open, then tuck the ball and run. If that offense sounds familiar, it is the exact same one that Vince Young ran at Texas the year he was Mr. Everything. And if you need proof that such a quarterback might not make the transition smoothly in the NFL, Google VY’s career. Being bigger and faster than some walk-ons and honest to goodness students doesn’t necessarily mean success at the next level when everyone else has your size and speed.
Throw in the circus that was his recruiting at Mississippi State/Auburn (did he get paid, didn’t he get paid), the theft of a lap top at Florida and the cheating scandal that lead him to leave the University of Florida (according to Meyer, he wasn’t forced out but was told what he had to do in order to get back in good graces, but Newton took the easy way out), and you have the perfect recipe for a bust—a limited resume, character issues, and a questionable work ethic.
Being a great NFL quarterback requires a lifetimes dedication to your work, the reason that Peyton Manning spends his time in film rooms instead of film studios, and I’m not sure that Cam gets this or ever will.
I can’t wait to say I told you so.
The downside to inking the mega-superstar in sports
Just a year after signing A-Rod to a 10 year $275 million dollar deal, it was determined that the superstar had a bum hip. This is exactly what the Cardinals must consider when deciding if they want to lock-up the 31 year old Pujols long term.
(2/16/2011) Pretty much everyone would agree that Albert Pujols is either the best player in baseball or at least in the top three in the game, and that St. Louis would take a major hit should he take his talents elsewhere (an expression that still makes me nearly vomit). And for fans who don’t have to write the checks, signing this mega super star is a no brainer. But is it?
According to published reports, which amount to little more than unsubstantiated rumors, Mr. Pujols may be looking for a deal in the neighborhood of 10 years approaching $300 million dollars. Even if that is exaggerated some, we can safely assume he wants at least $200 million, which would put him somewhere in the top ten in total salaries in the game of baseball. While $20 million (or even a little more) is a good investment for the Albert Pujols of right now, will it be in seven or eight years from now?
This is the dilemma for teams who are tasked with the goal of building a championship roster. There is no question to me that Pujols is worth that kind of money in terms of his production, marketing opportunities (never heard one negative word about this guy), and possibly even in terms of what he does to the overall value of the franchise right now. The problem for the franchise is what this does to the team long term, say when Albert is 37 and still having good but not great seasons. Devoting that much to one player will limit the Cardinals ability to build pitching depth, restock the lineup, develop a deep bullpen, pay top dollar for a field general, develop a minor league system, etc. Simply put, one guy can’t deliver you a championship in baseball.
Almost this exact scenario played out in New York a few years ago with Alex Rodriguez, the other guy generally considered the best player in the game, at least at that time. After a fiasco in which A-Rod opted out of his already biggest in the game contract, the Yankees signed the slugger for $10 years and $275 million to man the hot corner in New York, in large part because they didn’t have other acceptable options (and let’s face it, this is the Yankees. What would they be without extravagance?). Within a year, A-Rod was already missing games with a bum hip and it was revealed that he was a steroid abuser, and talk that he’d never really be the same guy that signed that contract ever again started to surface. Something tells me that if the Yankees could have a mulligan on the A-Rod extension, that prima donna (and his Hollywood starlet of the month club) wouldn’t be calling the Big Apple home any longer.
Not that I’ll ever be able to prove this, but the days of seeing players remain very productive in baseball well into their forties probably went the way of the $3 hotdog at the ballpark, for reasons that are too obvious to write about. Tie up Albert now, and that lofty contract will seriously limit the team’s payroll flexibility five or six years from now. Unlike the NBA where one or two stars (and some minor pieces) might be enough to put together a string of championships, baseball, because of the nature of the sport and the length of season, require more substantial depth to make even one serious pennant run.
I don’t envy the decision to be made by the St. Louis Cardinals franchise in the days to come. Let Albert go, and you risk disenfranchising yourself from some of the best fans in the game. Sign him long term, and you may hamstring your efforts five or six years from now making it very difficult to remain relevant. It might actually be the right decision to let someone else overpay for the backend of Albert’s career, though it will be interesting to see if St. Louis execs have the stones to do this.
Why does it seem like everyone in America sides with Owners over the players in recent CBA disputes?
(2/15/2011) It has become almost too cliché to say that recent labor disputes in the NFL have become a battle between millionaires and billionaires. Let’s just get this out in the open—they both make too much money. Though no true-blooded American (including this guy) would ever advocate for socialism over capitalism, one of the consequences of the latter is misappropriation of society’s resources—we would all be better off as a society if our teachers made more than a slick passing quarterback.
That said, what I can’t figure out is why just about everyone seems to side with billionaires over the millionaires, though, as always I have some thoughts on the subject. This was printed in Mark Kriegel’s column on Foxsports today, which pretty much sums up my position:
First, the owners cheat worse than the players. Hence, you have stuff like collusion, $8 hot dogs, and, as is currently the case in the NFL, a steadfast refusal to open up the ledgers.
Second, owners like to be known as fearless businessmen, self-made apostles of market law, when, in fact, they really want to be insulated from the consequences of their bad decisions. That’s why you have salary caps and luxury taxes. Owners are laissez-faire when it comes to parking, concessions and, in the case of certain big-market baseball and basketball clubs, television revenues. But most of them are really angling for welfare, the most preposterous form of which is the publicly financed stadium with an overabundance of luxury boxes.
Despite what Kriegel writes, which I suggest most of us would accept in its entirety, many, if not the majority still side with the owners. Why is that? The answer is the tactical use of the media to sway public opinion. Perhaps the shrewdest move of the NFL owners was to ensure that their books remained closed while player salaries were dragged through the media after each and every big contract was signed. I mean, does anyone have any idea at all how much money the Indianapolis Colts cleared last year? While we don’t, we sure as hell know every detail regarding Peyton Manning’s looming contract negotiations. Those of us that work too hard for too little have been given a target to direct our anger at—that sport’s athlete who just signed a six year $80 million dollar deal to play a kid’s game. But because we have no idea how much the owners are making off of $8 dollar hot dogs, $25 parking fees, and $125 tickets, they get a pass. I call bullshit on this.
Just yesterday, the owners filed a grievance with the NLRB claiming that the NFLPA wasn’t negotiating in good faith. If you accept that the fight between the owners and the players is essentially one of deciding how the pie is split, how exactly are the owners operating in good faith when they refuse to open their books so we can see just how much money they are making? How can they even have a negotiation about how the pie should be split when we have no idea just how damn big the pie is in the first place?
The NFLPA has the worst collective bargaining agreement in all of professional sports. The average life span of NFL players is short because of the violent nature of the game. Most of the contracts are only partially guaranteed (unlike baseball where contracts are fully guaranteed), the NFL pension and worker’s compensation systems suck, and the owners, at a time of record profits, want to add two more games to the slate at a time when they hope to ravenously consume a bit more of the pie.
Was that game in Madison on Saturday really a big game?
(2/14/2011) This is funny. As I often do, I think of writing topics on my way in to work while listening to Colin Cowherd’s radio show. Moments after I came up with a topic for a short blog, wouldn’t you know it, Mr. Cowherd opens his show with this topic. I guess “great” minds think alike, or something like that.
The topic was the big college basketball game between Wisconsin and Ohio State this past weekend. As I sorta watched what was a great basketball game, I immediately noticed that something was missing—my interest. Don’t get me wrong, Ohio State is having an awesome season this year, and an undefeated run is something special in college basketball. Still, what was the downside if they lost?
When Wisconsin played Ohio State in football, I was glued to the television set, as seemingly every play was critical to the Buckeyes season. It was. As things turned out, Ohio State would lose just that one game all season, and it probably cost them a shot at a national championship. As for the action on Saturday, yeah, Ohio State probably will relinquish the top spot in the AP poll, not that it matters. Ohio State will still probably be a #1 seed in the tournament, the only part of the college basketball season that really matters (assuming, of course that you get in). Missing from the game on Saturday was that feeling of nervous excitement in the pit of my stomach as each play unfolded knowing that the season was hanging in the balance. That’s because it wasn’t.
I know playoffs in college football is all the rage in sports chatter these days. At the end of last college football season, I stayed glued to the TV set Thanksgiving weekend to watch Nevada play Boise State thinking that if the latter lost, maybe, just maybe, my Buckeyes could sneak into the NCG or the Rose Bowl with a few more breaks, just like 2007. On Saturday, as I cleaned my house and missed most of the basketball game, I quietly shut off the TV after the loss with a barely audible sigh. I’ll turn it back on in late March when the games that matter are played.
Arizona Cardinals have their hands in the Steeler’s pocket, steal a quarter
The Guy who once charged his players for bottled water at his practice facility has come up with a new way to save a few bucks–hire assistant coaches from another team’s payroll rather than paying an established defensive coordinator.
(2/11/2011) It just amuses me that the Arizona Cardinals continue to believe that they can become the Pittsburgh Steelers of the West by stealing the Steelers’ employees.
It doesn’t work that way.
The Steelers are arguably the best run organization in all of professional sports because of their commitment to winning, which starts with the Rooneys at the top. The reason the Steelers remain consistently in the hunt is because the Rooneys are willing to open their pocketbooks to keep key personnel in the organization.
And the Arizona Cardinals? Despite a beautiful new stadium in the middle of nowhere Arizona, and a franchise that Forbes estimated is now almost worth a billion dollars, the Cardinals found themselves some $35 million dollars under the 2010 salary cap (in a year when there was no cap). And the result, two years removed from a Super Bowl and a year removed from back-to-back playoff appearances, the Cardinals returned to form at 5-11, failing to win a division that historically was one of the worst in the history of organized sports.
Fans desperately wanted to believe that the days of charging players for bottled water at the practice facility or deducting the cost of overnight delivery for a bonus check were a thing of the past for an organization that whined about the lack of revenue generated from having to play in a college stadium. In an uncapped year, with unexpected savings from Warner’s retirement, the Cards watched as Bolden, Dansby, and others walked, while once great players like Joey Porter and Alan Faneca, and never great players like Derek Anderson, were brought in simply because they could be had cheap. And when Whisenhunt asked for money to bring Bulger in for insurance at quarterback, he was told there was none.
That’s why I laughed at published reports that the Cardinals might have been trying to lure defensive guru and present defensive coordinator of the AFC champion Pittsburgh Steelers, Dick Lebeau, to Arizona. Leaving aside the obvious question of why Lebeau would want to work for the Cardinals rather than the Steelers, does anyone in their right mind really believe the Bidwells would now pay top dollar for an established defensive coordinator?
Why did the scorpion sting the turtle who was giving him a ride across the pond knowing they would both drown? It’s his nature.
Or if you like instead, a leopard can’t change his spots.
So keep picking unproven assistants off the Steelers staff and promoting them, and signing good players four or five years past their prime out of the Pittsburgh trash bin so you can stuff a few extra dimes and quarters under your mattress. Just don’t insult Steeler fans with this Pittsburgh West crap anymore.
What’s good for the Goose, is good for the Gander, except in Utah
(2/10/2011) I rarely comment on the NBA, because, as Seinfeld once said about dancing, it’s stupid. But I couldn’t pass up on this one.
Utah Jazz fans booed Carlos Boozer during a recent game in Utah.
They booed him because he did what so many athletes do these days, pack up their bags and sell their services to the highest bidder (as if there was one booing fan in Utah who wouldn’t do the exact same thing if someone offered them a 20% raise for doing the same work).
But here’s the thing with this story—those same fans didn’t have a problem cheering for Boozer when the Cavaliers released Boozer from his contract with a handshake deal in place that he would resign with the Cavaliers. Boozer, clearly not a man of his word, bolted Cleveland for Utah when the Jazz dangled a few more bucks in front of his greedy-ass face. Such is the loyalty of today’s athlete (note, had he not had a handshake deal with the Cavs in place, they wouldn’t of released him. That’s my problem with Carlos Loozer).
Now Utah fans have the gall to boo this guy because he left Utah for a bigger paycheck? As mommas tell their daughters scores every day somewhere in this country, “once a cheater, always a cheater.” Boozer didn’t care about the Jazz just like he didn’t care about the Cavs (and just like he wouldn’t care about the Bulls if someone offered him a few more dollars tomorrow and he could take it, by hook or by crook).
I suppose it’s too much to ask for fans to be consistent. After all, fan is short for fanatic. When Boozer left, the Jazz and their fans got exactly what they deserved because a precedent existed. I can’t wait till this guy screws the Bulls.
What to make of the Big Ten’s Bowl flop this Year
(1/3/2011) In my first post of 2011, I feel compelled to comment on the Big Ten, America’s favorite whipping boy. Unless you live in the proverbial closet, y0u know that the Big Ten went 0-5 on New Years day, with spectacular wipe outs in that State Up North, prompting one clever tweeter who suggested that Delaney change the conference names to Losers and Letdowns (I can’t verify stories that Mark May creamed his pants five times on New Years day, it’s just a rumor). Cue the “Big Ten” slow jokes and “no one wants to play in the rust belt” quips from the so called pundits–surely we are all witnessing the demise of a once proud football conference. Or are we?
I’m not going to make excuses for the Big Ten, but simply remind people of what they already should know–teams lose bowl games because they are playing other good teams. I’ll bet some of you didn’t know that Texas, Ohio State, and Florida all have losing bowl records all time. Hell, the mighty SEC started the bowl season this year 0-3 before having a pretty nice little Saturday this year.
The truth is, as we await the Ohio State-Arkansas game, the Big Ten has been exactly what we thought they would be heading into the season, a fact obscured by a Michigan State team that overachieved in large part to a beneficial schedule this season (remember that great Ohio State-Michigan State game this year? I don’t either). Michigan State was ranked preseason #47 by the good voters at the BDPITL, finishing 11-1 only after pulling off a fake punt against ND (that should have been called back because the clock expired) and had to rally late to beat Purdue of all teams. So why exactly are we surprised they were waxed by the defending national champs? And what of their instate partners, those Weasels run by the West Virginia Hillbilly (piece of unsolicited advice for the hillbilly, start saving your saliva, those food stamps don’t lick themselves)? Those same Weasels that sported a defense all year ranked in the hundreds, the very same team that watched U-Mass nearly drop forty on them, and a team blown out in each of it’s last three games–why exactly are we surprised they were taken apart by a pretty good Mississippi State team? Then there was a Northwestern team that was playing without it’s starting quarterback (who nearly came back and won anyway), and a Penn State team that was lead by a walk on quarterback of all things (how does that happen at a school like Penn State anyways?) going up against a program that has so many five star recruits that they are hardly fazed by the litany of arrests, suspensions, and even the transfer of a future Heisman quarterback.
Going into the season, we thought Ohio State, Wisconsin, and Iowa were the only three good to great teams in the Big Ten. Despite the suspensions, Iowa beat a solid to good Missouri team. Wisconsin was a batted ball away from tying the game against an undefeated TCU team (the receiver in the back of the end zone was not only open, but lonely), and arguably the best team in the conference is yet to play. I know people like to hate on the conference arrogant enough to call their divisions “Legends” and “Leaders,” but Las Vegas had each and every one of the Big Ten teams as underdogs on New Year’s day for a reason. While I’m sure the haters will see this as nothing but excuse making and could care less about what I write, for the Big Ten fan, it’s not time to push the panic button just yet. Rest assured, the demise of the Big Ten is greatly exaggerated.
Is the NCAA making up the Rules as it goes along?
OSU AD Gene Smith said “the school wasn’t as explicit with our student education as we should have been.” Nice try, but that explanation doesn’t pass the straight face test, one of the many problems I have with the NCAA punishment.
(12/29/2010) Just about everyone who has an opinion on the recent circus that is the NCAA’s decision on the suspensions handed out to the now infamous Ohio State Five is wondering the same thing: just what manual is the NCAA reading from as it metes out its version of justice?
How could the NCAA possibly defend all of the following:
Why are the Buckeyes allowed to play in the Sugar Bowl this season when Troy Smith was forced to sit out in the Alamo Bowl when he accepted $500 from boosters in 2004?
Why impose a punishment entirely in the 2011 season for a bunch of juniors that can simply jump ship and go to the NFL and avoid punishment altogether?
Why was A.J. Green of Georgia forced to sit out four games this season for selling his game jersey? Don’t you think he would have liked the opportunity to turn pro and completely escape punishment as well?
Why is selling your property valued at about $2,500 worth five games but attempting to sell your son for almost $200,000 worth nothing at the moment?
Why did the “we didn’t know defense” work for Newton and Ohio State but not for the University of Southern California? (How could Cam not have known when he said that he wanted to play for Mullen at Mississippi State but his dad then insisted his son go to Auburn? We’re supposed to believe the kid didn’t ask his father why? And if that is the case, then why wouldn’t every kid tell his father to pimp him out then claim a bogus Chinese wall existed)?
If Ohio State didn’t educate their players, as they say, why no action taken against the University? Isn’t that the school’s responsibility, and if so, why escape punishment for not doing it?
Why is Michigan placed on probation for essentially too much stretching but Ohio State gets a pass for failing to explain the most basic of the NCAA bylaws to their students?
If the rules suggest a four game suspension (or 30% of the season), why add a fifth game? The official explanation is that the athletes didn’t immediately disclose the violation, and yet, the NCAA mitigated the punishment and allowed the kids to play in the Sugar Bowl because they weren’t properly educated. Well, if they weren’t properly educated, and thus didn’t know, how could they have reported the violation sooner?
How in the world could anyone connect the dots above while keeping a straight face? I consider myself a pretty good mouthpiece, but this is one case I have no interest in trying to defend.
I’ll never understand why selling your property is even an offense while attempting to sell your son is not (perhaps the Buckeye Five should have had given the property to their dad’s and let them sell it), but rules are the rules, and the kids should be punished. When a father catches his son playing with matches, does he say “you’re grounded for two weeks starting in February of 2014?” Of course not, and that’s one of the many reasons this silly decision bothers so many of us. The punishment should be for the Bowl game plus the first three games of next season, a result so obvious, that only the NCAA could screw this up.
The NCAA won’t do this because this is a multi-billion dollar business, and the NCAA has no interest in fielding the voluminous calls from Sugar Bowl sponsors pissed off at what would be a decidedly less interesting game without the Buckeyes star quarterback, starting tailback, and arguably most talented receiver (translation, fewer viewers willing to tune in to watch a game with less star appeal means less of the green stuff in the hands of the cartel and it’s greedy members). And its the same reason that Scam Newton is allowed to play in the BCS NCG—even if the NCAA takes action in its typical sloth-like manner years from now when no one remembers what all the fuss was about, the money will have been divided up between the cartel, the bowl committees. and the rest of the fat cats making millions off their pool of slave labor.
In other words, it’s all about the money. Business as usual in the NCAA front office.
First, Reggie Jackson, a former baseball player, offered on the Dan Patrick Show” I’m not offended at all that he did that,” Jackson said. Reggie said that he would have done that if he thought it would save time and effort.” Um, what? Holding a one hour TV special to let the whole world know that you are eviscerating your home town team was about saving time? How about having your P.R. guy fire out a quick 30 second press release letting people know about your decision?
Mr. October wasn’t finished there. “Reggie said if he was in the same position, he would have loved to join his friends.” This is not a story about three grade school children making plans to meet on the playground. Just about every article I read concluded that it was okay for LeFraud to leave, he earned that right. The problem everyone has with “The King” is the phony one hour attention grab that made most of us sick to our stomachs. To that, Mr. Jackson was silent.
Finally, Reggie adds this bit of nonsense ” Jackson also pointed out LeBron could have made more money in another sport. If LeBron James was in baseball, he’d probably be playing for the Yankees,” Jackson said. What is this based on Reggie, do tell? Do you think this simply because he shelled out $28 for a Yankee lid and was caught shamelessly on camera wearing it? While some colleges were interested in recruiting James to play football, I haven’t seen one scouting report that suggested he had a 95 m.p.h. fastball or projected James to be a 40 home run a year type slugger. This is just plain ridiculous. While athletic, hitting a baseball is one of the hardest things to do in all of professional sports. Anyone else remember the failed Michael Jordan experiment? And since LeFraud isn’t qualified to carry Jordan’s jockstrap on the basketball court, I’m not exactly sure why Reggie thinks that LeFraud would have been the second coming of the Sultan of Swat on the baseball diamond. Pure and complete nonsense.
Not to be outdone, the Reverend Jesse Jackson felt the need to try and make an egomaniacal millionaire’s decision to jilt his home town city into a race issue. Rev. Jackson offers:
“His [Gilbert, owner of Cavs] feelings of betrayal personify a slave master mentality. He sees LeBron as a runaway slave. This is an owner employee relationship – between business partners – and LeBron honored his contract.”
Um, really Reverend? Runaway slave? Last time I checked, Lebron earned more than $100,000,000 dollars from his little business venture with the Cleveland Cavaliers, a far cry from being imported from Africa, shackled to a radiator while being fed bread and water, and worked for 18 hour days. Yes Reverend, Lebron James is a freedom fighter for all hundred million dollar African Amercans whose ultimate sacrafice here rivals the Nelson Mandela story (maybe Lebron can win the League MVP and Nobel Peace Prize in the same year!). This is not racisim, in fact, quite the opposite–the free agency of Mr. James was about six employers desperately trying to hire a black man. Crying racism at the drop of a hat in order to get your mug in the local evening news only sets back the discrimination movement in those instances when it’s all too real. I’d say shame on you Reverend Jackson, you know better, except that I think you do not.
The circus that offended just about everyone’s sensibilities was about one spoiled egomaniacal millionaire doing what’s best for himself. At this point, I don’t know what’s sadder—what James did to the people of Cleveland, or the shameless way two Jackasses tried to spin this bullshit with smoke and mirrors.
Since ten million people tuned into watch the Lebron James infomercial, and with the absurdity reaching new levels on almost an hourly basis, I can hardly wait to see who tries to cash in on arguably the most shameful moment in modern sports history. And who says “journalism” is dead in America anyway?
Stay in Cleveland. Or go to Chicago. Or relegate yourself to purgatory in New Jersey or Los Angeles playing for the Clippers. Just whatever you do, do it fast. The rest of us are sick of your ego trip.
“It’s no different than his attitude and approach to last year’s defense,” Fletcher said, “about wanting everything to revolve around him and him making plays. And if it didn’t benefit him, he wasn’t really willing to do it.”
Holmes finds himself in trouble again, this time for not shutting I-Pod off on Plane
(4/30/2010) Less than a monlth after the Steelers traded malcontent Holmes to the Jets, the disgruntled receiver is back in the news again. As I wrote a month ago, Holmes is yet one more athlete that believes that the rules of society do not apply to him because he has a big wad of cash (see http://thepolesposition.com/steeler-country/).
His latest incident involved refusing to shut his I-pod off as a plane landed, forcing airline officials to file an incident report. My man, listening to your tunes (probably classics like Beetoven or Mozart) isn’t more important than the safety of the passengers on the plane. Whether you like it or not, or are even able to comprehend the issue, these rules exist for a reason.
With anyone else, I’d be tempted to say that it was a simple misunderstanding and no big deal. The problem for Mr. Holmes, however, is that there has been too many “misunderstandings.” Some people simply believe that they do not have to follow the rules of society, and Mr. Holmes is one of these people.
The Jets knew what they were getting when they got him and this is not the end of the Santonio Holmes show. I can’t wait to say I told you so.
Will the Redskins ever get it?
What is it about Daniel Snyder’s history that makes me skeptical of the Donovan McNabb trade?
(4/6/10) Yesterday the Redskins acquired embattled former Philly quarterback Donovan McNabb. When will Daniel Snyder finally understand that acquiring players in their mid thirties as a quick fix isn’t the way to build a successful franchise? Snyder reminds me of the George Steinbrenner who insisted on fixing the Yankees by acquiring the latest one hit wonder or guy everyone else knew was past his prime. Yes, Mcnabb is only 33, but that’s NFL old. I mean for starters, do you think Snyder ever asked himself “why is Philly getting rid of this guy?” My guess is he did not.
Could it be that Philly knows he doesn’t have much left in him? Could it be that Philly realizes that he isn’t the guy to put a franchise over the top? I mean, if McNabb couldn’t do it in Philly with all of those weapons, what is he going to do in D.C. with the collection of overpayed misfits assembled by the foolish Daniel Snyder.
If it wasn’t for Snyder’s past, I’d give the Redskins the benefit of the doubt. Let’s see, there was the Clinton Portis for Champ Bailey trade. The big bucks given to the Steelers third wide receive Antwaan Randle El. The hiring of Jim Zorn. And who can forget the Skin’s saving up three drafts picks (a first, third, and a fifth) to acquire Jason Campbell in the first place. I could go on and on but my fingers are starting to get tired. Hey Daniel, why don’t you take some of that money you like throwing around and buy yourself a clue.
And ask yourself this, when was the last time the Patriots built their franchise by acquiring a quarterback in his early to mid thirties? The Steelers? The Colts? Or any team that ever won anything? The answer, these teams know better. Since Snyder doesn’t get it I’ll spell it out for him real simple like–when acquiring a franchise quarterback to build a championship team around, you do it in the draft. You hire knowledgeable football people to scout college quarterbacks, you draft a young one, and then you develop the quarterback to fit your system. You don’t pick a guy at the tail end of his career that was recently jettisoned by a team that knows how to draft and develop talent. That’s called fishing through your neighbors trash. It’s also called a 6-10 season.
Oh, and the cherry on top of the sundae; Jason Campbell found out he wasn’t the number one guy anymore when a reporter called him to ask for his comments on the trade. Real classy Washington, real classy.
Porter Arrested for Drunk Driving
Joey, why didn’t you see if you could get the officer to “tap out”?
(3/29/2010) Phew. I thought a whole day was going to go by without an athlete getting arrested for a criminal offense. Thank you for saving the day Joey.
It never ceases to amaze me that athletes continue to think that the rules of society don’t apply to them simply because they have truck loads of money. In this story according to the Arizona Republic, one of Porter’s friends was being detained by the police. “Joey to the rescue” decides to pull his vehicle up behind the officer’s squad car and involve himself in the situation. Um Joey, you see, the thing is, when the police are doing an investigation, they really don’t need your help. Or want it. In fact, they actually think having some musclebound knucklehead approach them in these situations might be dangerous for them. Here’s a crazy idea, how about you let the officers do their job and you get back to doing what you do best, which is complaining about being disrespected.
And another tip, when you are intoxicated and breaking the law by driving drunk, that might not be the best time to approach an officer of the law. I’m just saying. After smelling the alcohol on Joey’s breath, the officer had the nerve to ask for Joey’s drivers license (hey don’t you know who I am?). Joey declined (FYI Joey, this is not optional). Porter was then asked to exit his vehicle. He declined this offer as well (this also isn’t optional, see Pennsylvania v. Mims). After the officer reached into Joey’s car to stop him from locking the door, Joey pushed the officer’s hand away (that’s called assault). After finally exiting the vehicle in a confrontational manner, Porter refused to get on the ground as directed (once again not optional Joey). Porter was then arrested. I Hope ten minutes of exercising your God-complex was worth the cost of permanently tarnishing what’s left of your reputation.
Only weeks after signing a $17 million dollar deal with the Arizona Cardinals, Joey does them like this. The good news is that everyone will forget that this happened when the next athlete gets arrested, which almost certainly will happen before I can even post this. It’s getting really hard to root for these guys. Real hard.
(Story and image courtesy of the Arizona Republic from their website)
Same Ol’ Cardinals? Why this Organization suffers from a Perception Problem
This Cheapskate once charged players for water at his practice facility and billed another the cost of delivering a six figure bonus check.
(3/8/2010) Since I live in Arizona, I probably spend more time fusing over an organization that just isn’t worth it. I mean, the organization is known more for charging their players for bottled water and trying to build a stadium in a flight path then they are for any of their accomplishments on the field. One championship run since the FDR administration says all you need to know.
This week the Cardinals lost five players from their starting 22, including two that they passed on in free agency and one that they decided to trade. All five of these players played a key role in a team that went to a Superbowl just two short seasons ago. In rapid succession, the Cardinals traded Anquan Boldin for two fourth round picks and then they let Antrel Rolle and Karlos Dansby walk. All of these players could be described as in their prime, even if it’s the back end of it. And all of these decisions were motivated by saving money.
On talk radio this week all the local mouthpieces kept making excuses for the Cardinals. In an uncapped year, according to these guys, the Cards just should not have signed these guys because they just weren’t worth the money. In case you are not following along, an uncapped year means that you can sign any players you want for any amount. And don’t get fooled by this “well, there’s likely a cap next year, so we have to be responsible now.” Should there be a cap next year, the league is going to have to make allowances for those teams that played by the rules in 2010.
The problem for the Cardinals is that this is precisely the conclusion this organization has typically drawn, whether with free agents or as part of their annual “first round draft choice holdout dance” that takes place every year right after the draft typically lasting through training camp. They often conclude that the player isn’t worth the money then they let him walk, at least when it comes to the roster players due a big pay day.
What particularly galls me is that the local radio guys continue to compare this organization to the Pittsburgh Steelers, simply because they took an assistant coach that the Steelers didn’t want to hire as a head coach and because they have acquired a few of the Steelers’ hand me downs. Hate to break this to Cardinal fans, but you guys ain’t the Pittsburgh Steelers in six very important ways. People around these parts continue to pretend that the last two years is somehow the way things are going to be the next forty. History does not suggest that the Cardinals should be given the benefit of the doubt.
When the Steelers let a free agent go claiming he isn’t worth the price, their fans give them the benefit of the doubt because their track record on the field has been proven. As long as the Cardinals are run by a miser that once deducted the cost of overnight delivery for a six figure bonus check, Cardinal fan would do himself well to remember it’s always about the coin with the Bidwells. Maybe Q isn’t worth the headache. Maybe you are satisfied or even feel that Rhodes is an upgrade over Rolle. And maybe you feel that the organization really can steal another Steeler from yester-year (Porter or Foote) and make him the next Dansby. Maybe you still believe in Santa Claus or the tooth fairy. That’s your business. Unitl this organization has a trophy on the mantle, and as one of the oldest organizations in the game they’ve had plenty of opportunities, Cardinals fans should be skeptical.
As the old saying goes, according to at least one famous fool, “fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can’t get fooled again.” From what I read, that just doesn’t apply to some fans here in the desert.
Milton Bradley’s Alternate Theory of Reality
Eighth time a charm? Bradley says it wasn’t his fault that things didn’t work out in Chicago. The Cubs must be relieved he’s now Seattle’s problem.
(3/4/2010) I never get tired of the spoiled egocentric athletes that are completely detached from reality. You know, the guy who keeps having one misunderstanding after another but still believes it’s everyone else’s fault. Today’s winner is Milton Bradley, the ex Indain-Dodger-A-Cub-Ranger-Expo (and soon to be Mariner) malcontent outfielder who’s now a Seattle problem. Yesterday, Milton summed up his latest “misunderstanding” as follows:
“Two years ago, I played, and I was good,” Bradley said. “I go to Chicago, not good. I’ve been good my whole career. So, obviously, it was something with Chicago, not me.”
The problem Milton is that too many of us have been paying attention. To wit (from the Chicago Tribune, http://archives.chicagotribune.com/2009/jan/06/sports/chi-06-bradley-boxjan06):
1) In 2004, Milton had a Dugout confrontation with Indians manager Eric Wedge in spring training before getting traded to the Dodgers. This happened because Milton decided not to run out a pop fly. From an ESPN article, the following on this incident: “On Wednesday, Bradley was removed from a game against Houston in the third inning for not running hard on a second-inning pop up that dropped for a single. Bradley was told quietly by Wedge that he needed to be on second base. Bradley responded, and while it was not a shouting match, the disrespect he showed for his manager in front of his teammates forced management’s hand.” The Indians traded him.
2) Also in 2004, Milton feuded with infielder Jeff Kent, accusing him of being a racist, and prompted the Dodgers to trade him that winter.
3) In 2007, Milton had a bitter public disagreement with A’s general manager Billy Beane. After a trade to Padres and in thick of pennant race, tore ACL in his right knee when he was spun to the ground by Padres manager Bud Black, who was trying to keep him from umpire Mike Winters. Bradley claimed he had been baited by Winters, who was suspended for the final five days of the regular season.
4) In 2008, According to Dallas Morning News, Bradley attempted to confront Royals television announcer Ryan Lefebvre in the press box after a game due to what he believed were unfair comments made on the air. Texas manager Ron Washington and GM Jon Daniels chased after him and stopped Bradley before he got to Lefebvre.
5) Then in August of 2009, Milton called Cubs fans racist, a card he continues to play every time someone has the audacity to criticize him for his performance. This from the Chicagoist:
“Bradley alluded to racial slurs being hurled along with other comments. “America doesn’t believe in racism,” he said dismissively, while discussing incidents with fans at Wrigley. “All I’m saying is I just pray the game is nine innings, so I can be out there the least amount of time as possible and go home, ” Bradley griped. And yet when pressed, Bradley could give no specific examples of racially motivated comments (See http://chicagoist.com/2009/08/27/milton_bradley_accuses_cubs_fans_of.php).
What Milton meant to say yesterday is that this was a Wedge-Indians-Kent-Dodgers-Beane-A’s-Padres-Black-Winters-Lefebvre-Royals-Washington-Daniels-Rangers-Cubs-Tribune problem. Just not a Milton Bradley problem.
You can understand why the Dodgers put up with the Mannyshow because he’s good. But what are the Mariners thinking? He’s now in his thirties, injury prone, and less stable than nitroglycerine. He hasn’t played in more than 130 games since 2004 and posted a stellar line of .257, 12 hr, and 40 rbi’s for the Cubs last year after getting a fat contract from them. The Cubs were so desperate to rid themselves of Bradley that they took on an aging rotund pitcher with an 85 m.p.h. fastball and his steep contract just to unload Bradley.
Prediction: Milton doesn’t stay healthy, doesn’t put up great numbers, and comes unglued at some point next year. Not just one of these things, but all of them.
Seattle ignored the ample warnings that accompany this train wreck. They deserve what’s to follow.
College Basketball Considers Ruining Best Post Season Tournament
(3/3/2010) From everything that I read, the powers that be in college basketball are considering ruining the best post season tournament of any of the sports, and I say this from the perspective of someone who doesn’t really like college basketball. Sometimes things are perfect just as they are and should be left alone. Rumor has it that the NCAA is considering expanding from 64 teams to an unwieldy 96 teams which would make March Madness a complete joke. Is this so we can guarantee schools like Creighton a birth every year? Do we really need more Northern Oregon Technical Institute-Duke matchups? Does Kentucky really need one more scrimmage after all the preseason, full season, and post-season tournament games before playing the games that matter?
This is such a terrible idea I don’t know where to begin. For guys like me, I watch this tournament because it is the right amount of David-Goliath and marquee match-ups. I just can’t see watching another week of unceremonious beatings hoping that star players can avoid injury so that they are available for the games that will matter. One reason I dislike the NBA is because it seems like only 4 teams don’t make the playoffs, meaning that the fan is conned into watching 82 games when the best teams are identified typically by early January (three months of hoping Lebron James doesn’t tear a knee is both nerve racking and bad entertainment). There simply is not 96 college basketball teams worthy of getting a shot at the title, no matter how remote that chance may be.
Whenever you see “smart” people making bad decisions, rest assured the pursuit of the almighty dollar is the impetus for such decisions. It would be a shame if a college tournament good enough to get someone like this guy to watch when he doesn ‘t even like the sport is ruined just so a few old stodgy white men can make a few extra bucks. Sad.
Yet One More Reason the NBA is Joke
(2/25/2010) So get this, the Washington Wizards have already waived Zydrunas Ilgauskus, the player they acquired in the three team deal that sent a good young Antawan Jamison to Cleveland. Isn’t it bad enough that at the start of the season only 3 or 4 teams have a realistic chance of winning that stupid looking trophy the NBA hands out to it’s champs.? I mean, why should Milwaukee Bucks fans sit through what seems like a 132 game season when they have no chance, and I mean no chance, at winning a championship? Last time I checked, the New Jersey Nets only had four total wins.
Here’s one reason why this imbalance happens in the NBA. Teams dump good young players late in the season to pick up a guy that they don’t want. The new team buys this player out, he waits 30 days, then returns to his former team. This is exactly what might happen in Washington, with their President stating “We agreed to terms with Zydrunas on a contract buyout, giving us further financial flexibility and allowing our young big men to continue to develop over the remainder of the season.” Okay dude, whatever. The result of this behavior is the clustering of stars on a handful of teams that realistically have a chance to compete for the title. It’s one of the reason that the NBA has had the fewest number of different champions in the last fifteen years of all the major sports leagues.
Eye of the Cheetah
Tiger Woods still doesn’t get it. It’s the sordid details that the TMZ crowd wants and they won’t leave him alone until they get it.
(2/20/2010). Tiger Woods held a carefully orchestrated Press Conference lasting all of thirteen minutes to publicly apologize to his wife. He’ll be doing that for the next twenty or thirty years, or until she wises up. Tiger still doesn’t get it. He’s yet one more rich spoiled egocentric athlete completely out of touch with society (when asked to throw out the first pitch in Baltimore for the retiring of Jackie Robinson’s number, he declined saying he had a vacation planned. Dude, your whole life is a vacation). After waiting 80 days to address the public, he decides that he will deliver a carefully worded press release authored by some of the slickest PR people in the world without answering any questions at all. In fact, he didn’t even allow some reporters into the circus tent, causing many on the PGA beat to boycott the event altogether. Does he know nothing about the TMZ/National Enquirer crowd that is only interested in the tawdry details of a star’s demise? Tiger, you will have to answer these questions sooner or later, and refusing to answer reporters’ questions now only delays the inevitable. For the guy who refuses to play in the Phoenix Open because he was heckled, how is he going to handle it when some drunk guy with a chip on his shoulder screams out “how was the threesome with the Perkins waitress” as he tries to knock down a 20 foot putt? And Cheetah actually had the nerve to lecture the media about following his kids around. Should they be doing this? Of course not. But instead of acknowledging that he caused this by hiding for 80 days, he lectured the media onTHEIR morals (excuse me while I pause to chuckle).
Look, I’ve never believed in the athlete as a role model concept. They are flawed human beings like the rest of us, thrust into a world of millions and treated like deity walking amongst their fellow man. And they are not prepared for this. But spare me the “he was cheating, this is a personal thing between Tiger and his wife, and the media should leave him alone.” Once you decide to take the millions that come along with corporate sponsorship, you have altered your personal landscape forever. It’s a trade off, privacy for dollars, and at the very least these corporations are entitled to know the sordid details so they can decide what’s in their best financial interest. Lecturing the media for doing their job (as unsavory as many of us find this) because he hid and refused to address the public shows just how out of touch Cheetah is. And yesterday’s circus ensures that he will have to go through this yet one more time, this time telling the American people what they want to hear. Sorry Cheetah, you sold your soul for the almighty dollar and now it’s time to pay up.
(image courtesy of CNNSI: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/)
Arnold Schwarzenegger to Carry Olympic Torch
Is Arnold Schwarzenegger explaining to Premier Gordon Campbell just how he got so big?
(2/10/2010) Am I the only one amused by this? The Govenator has been selected to carry the torch? Was Mark McGwire or Barry Bonds unavailable? In an era when steroids dominates the wide world of sports, why would the Olympic committee choose a man that not only admits to using steroids in his body building days, but brags about it. Is this really the message that the Olympics wants to send to its athletes and the audience they hope watches them? We’re cracking down on cheats, so we’ve selected a known cheater to be featured during our Olympic torch relay. It always amazes me when men put in charge of multi-million dollar ventures completely take leave of their senses. A few years ago, MLB used an advertisement on Fox TV for their all-star game that included blown up cartoon caricatures of their stars. Undoubtedly, MLB wanted to send the message that their stars were bigger than life. They were, thanks to anabolic steroids. Not to be outdone, the Olymic Committee has chosen an acknowledged steroids user to be the Ambassador of their games in one of its biggest moments. Excuse me if I don’t take your “don’t use steroids” message seriously.
Lane Kiffin offers 13 year old kid scholarship
(2/7/2010) Lane Stiffen has apparently offered a 13 year old Delaware kid a full ride scholarship to the University of Spoiled Children even though the kid is three years away from driving or shaving (see http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/news/story?id=4891901). What is wrong with the guy not so affectionately dubbed “Lane Violation” as a result of his rather brief stint as head football coach at the University of Tennessee? This is so stupid I don’t know where to begin. While everyone raves about this kid’s ability, he’s 13. He won’t be enrolling at any college for five years. He’s not even fully grown. What if the kid gets hurt? What if he ends up 5’7”? What if he ends up not being the player everyone thinks he might be? What if U.S.C. already has four or five good recruits at that position and needs the scholly for a kid that plays elsewhere? And who is to say Lane Stiffen will still be at U.S.C. in five years anyway? Does the University honor the silly promise if Stiffen takes his game elsewhere?
What I found most telling was the kid’s response in an ESPN article to what he would have told another school if they approached him with this silly offer” [i]f it was any other college I probably wouldn’t have said yes but all it is really is a verbal commitment so I can get out of it if I wanted to.” In other words, I’ll tell you what you want to hear, now go away. And didn’t the kid learn anything from Seantrel Henderson. If you are going to make a promise that doesn’t mean anything at all, call a press conference and tell the whole world. Americans love to gobble this stuff up.
What will make for fun T.V. the next few years will be to see just how far this clown will take it. Maybe he offers a full ride scholarship to Peyton Manning’s sperm. What a complete joke.
Hits keep Rollin’ for the New York Mess
(2/2/2010) The only thing “amazin'” about the New York Mess is how they completely piss away the advantage that is playing baseball in New York City. The latest is that they never bothered to give J.J. Putz a physical before they signed off on his deal with the Mariners (and lo and behold, he had arm problems last year and struggled). See below:
While I’m sure the Mess will come out in the next few days and deny this, it really doesn’t matter. This kind of story isn’t an isolated incident. Just last week their embattled GM Omar Minaya came out and said that he is not a puppet, that he’s actually calling the shots in New York. If you actually were, why bother acknowledging the rumors in the first place? Then there was the botched salary negotiations with catcher Bengie Molina and pitcher Joel Pinerio, both players that indicated they wanted to play for the Mess but were baffled by their negotiation techniques. And of course there was the tiff with Carlos Beltran about the slugger’s decision to have surgery (yep, players have surgeries for the fun of it, it’s a hoot) and last year’s firing of Willie Randolph via text message (I exaggerate, but not by much).
Last week Joel Sherman commented on the oddity of how the Mess do business (http://www.nypost.com/p/blogs/hardball/up_cone_mets_rotation_and_damon_mqdr8sJeteszICicflEu4K). Essentially, they focus on one task at a time, meaning for example, that they will negotiate with one free agent to its conclusion, even if that means ignoring others in the process who sign elsewhere (these crazy guys wanting a paycheck and all). The one thing the Mess really needed to do was focus on their pitching, and instead, they were bogged down negotiating with a catcher. It was to the point that Piniero signed elsewhere because he basically couldn’t get Minaya on the phone. The Mess seem content to re-sign the flake Oliver Perez (good luck on a pitcher that the Padres and Pirates gave up on years ago) and go with the same rotation that failed them last year (that definition of insanity comes to mind). In the meantime, the Phillies, who have appeared in two straight World Series, have added arguably the best pitcher in the game. Good luck with that. Can you say third place?
It appears that the Wilpons are no better at running a baseball team then they are in choosing investment partners. Get ready Mess fans for an exciting seventy to eighty win season. I guess a hundred plus million dollars just doesn’t go as far as it used to.
Herschel Walker Wins MMA debut
(1/31/2009) What? Am I reading The Onion? Grandpa Walker is wrestling dudes that break bones and gouge eyes for a living? Well, not exactly. He chose to fight a dough boy with a 1-1 overall record. I don’t know what’s sadder, that an NFL athlete feels compelled to do this or that he picked on a soft fat boy named Rusty (not really but you get the point). Why do ex-athletes do stuff like this? Do they miss the limelight? Not enough quarters in the couch cushions? For a once proud athlete who had an accomplished NFL career, why stoop this level? Hasn’t he taken enough of a beating? What does the dude have against walking? I don’t know this for sure, but I’ll bet he’s one more athlete that went through his wad and is forced to put himself in peril to make ends meet. At a time when he should be reading his grandchildren bed time stories, Walker’s hoping some dude doesn’t snap his arm in half like a chicken bone. Sad.
NFL Pro Bowl to be played Today
I know most of my readers are busy putting together their NFL Pro Bowl parties, but I figured I’d chime in on this anyway. I’ve stocked up on waters and plain celery, so my party should be a hoot. I mean, really, does anyone give a shit about this exhibition game anyway?
It used to be that the game was played in Hawaii in a two-thirds empty stadium two weeks after the season ended. No one went to the game and really no one watched what essentially was a flag football game with the players giving it about 25% of their effort at best. Still, at least it was in Hawaii. Now you’d have to hang out in Miami and extra week, virtually ensuring that you will get mugged or worse.
And given that the Superbowl is next week, does anyone really think that any of the Saints or Colts players will play even one snap in this meaningless football game? Why would we want to see players from the best team in each conference anyway? Drew Brees fades back and drops the ball off to…no one. Oh well, on the bright side, Tony Romo can now claim that he’s a Pro-Bowl quarterback (was Michael Vick unavailable this weekend)? This made me laugh. Fox actually has a counter counting down the minutes till this silly three hour long infomercial gets underway. Rumors that Gary Coleman will call the game can not be confirmed.
I don’t know who is more clueless in this case, ESPN (who is televising this crap) or the NFL. Shame on both. As the most profitable of the Sports leagues, the NFL typically makes one good business decision after another, but this one is just plain stupid. t’s almost as if NFL executives said “let’s see if we can do something dumber than MLB’s use of the All-Star game to decide home field advantage in the World Series.” Mission accomplished. And don’t get me started on the Evil Empire. They must be betting that the junkies are so starved for football that they will tune in to get their fix. Not this guy.
Well, 7 hours 20 minutes and 8 seconds till kickoff, so I gotta go.
Kurt Warner Retires
(1/29/2010) The game has just lost an ambassador and a class act. He single-handedly lifted the Arizona Cardinals from obscurity to relevancy on the strength of his lightning quick release and his ability to read defenses and deliver the ball accurately. You just simply couldn’t blitz the dude. At 38 years of age, he absolutely belonged in the discussion of top five quarterbacks in the game, not bad for a quarterback the Rams left for dead seven years ago. I’m not a big Hall of fame guy, but this guy has to be a lock.
I also can’t help but feel that the signing of Warner was more luck than anything else for the desert birds. I mean, if you really thought that you caught lightning in a bottle when you pulled Kurt off the scrap heap, then why draft a QB in the first round and play him over a Super Bowl winning quarterback in the first place? This move reeks of the same old Cardinals, signing a guy past his prime hoping to revive the magic (can anyone say Emmitt Smith?) Only, this time they did. Well the luck is about to run out.
I expect the next few years to be rough for the Red Birds. With a defense that gave up points in the post-season like an arena football league team, it will be hard for the Cardinals to compete if the offense struggles with the soft-tossing ball room dancer under center. He possesses none of the talents that Warner had; Leinart reads defenses slowly, is inconsistent with his accuracy, and buckles under the pressure of the blitz. I keep hearing the Cardinals are going to become a run first team and ask Matt to manage the game. You can bet that if we’re talking about it, NFL D coordinators are also talking about it. If I’m Beanie Wells, I’m grimacing a little more today than I was yesterday. Expect defenses to stack eight in the box to see if Leinart can beat them throwing the ball. Here’s one’s guys vote that he can’t, at least not often enough to make the Cardinals relevant again.