Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Who put the BS in the BCS?

One of the phrases you hear all the time in Sports Talk is "East Coast Bias." Basically it refers to the thought that the Northeast (we aren't talking about the east coast of South Carolina), that The Yankees, 76ers, Patriots and all the teams from D.C. through to Boston get disproportional coverage. And maybe they do.

But not in college football.

No, there's a Gulf Coast Bias in college football. Or a West Coast Bias. Or a Great Plains Bias. Anything but a East Coast Bias.

How else to explain the fact that even though the Boston College Eagles go into Blacksburg on a Thursday Night, beat Virgina Tech, ranked 8th in the country in front of their home crowd, and all the praise they get is Lee Corso on ESPN College GameDay, saying "Oh, I'd rank them 5th because, I guess they're undefeated."

Or the fact that Collegefootballnews.com has them ranked 7th in the country. Behind such perennial powerhouses as 7-1 Missouri, who's biggest accomplishment is beating 24th ranked Texas Tech at home. And behind Oklahoma who beat Missouri, but who also lost to 5-4 Colorado.

I remind you, Boston College is 8-0. No losses. Not one.

In 2005, Boston College and Florida State both ended 5-3 in the Conference Standings, with BC totaling a 9-3 record and Florida State ending up at 8-5 overall.

Florida State went to the Orange Bowl in Miami. BC went to the MPC Computers Bowl. In Boise, Idaho.

Where, by the way, they beat hometown favorite, Boise State, ending their 31 home-game winning streak.

Before the Virgina Tech game, most of the analysts said BC had to prove themselves. That despite all the hype of being a no. 2 team, a reality check was coming; that they probably would get whupped by a tough Virginia Tech defense in front of the Tech home crowd, so stop complaining, BC, and enjoy a nice number 19 ranking next week.

So, all BC did was hold Tech to 10 points, score 14 points in the last 2:07 of the game, and beat a team favored by some to go to the BCS championship game.

Well, I guess that's good enough for the 2007 Meineke Car Care Bowl.

Monday, October 29, 2007

A-Rod Leaving...Fine. Except.....

Alex Rodriguez has decided to opt out of his gargantuan contract in the hopes of signing an even more gargantuan one. And to that I say...good for him.


Except for all the lies he told.

"My commitment is 100 percent. Unconditional. I want to be a Yankee. I don't want to go anywhere, and I can't be more clear. I hope they don't want to trade me, because I don't want to go anywhere."

That's A-Rod. Last year.

Look. If he wants to make money, get the all-time contract, "Feed his family" as Spreewell once said, then great. No one should be upset with a guy trying to make as much money as possible. But then don't talk about the Yankee tradition, Monument Park and loving the Stadium. Just don't.

"I want to be a Yankee and I understand my contract and I understand my options," Rodriguez said. "My goal is to go in with Derek [Jeter] and Mo [Mariano Rivera] and open the new [Yankee] Stadium. It's pretty clear."

I can't wait until the press conference, when he's sitting next to Scott Boras and he talks about the tradition of the California Angels of Anaheim which is Close to But Not Quite in Los Angeles and wanting to win there.

He couldn't be more clear.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

The Future of the Yankees

Back in 2001, when the Yankees lost the World Series they should have won against the Diamondbacks (or D-Backs, as the marketers would have you say), I got an anxious feeling in my stomach. Even after 4 World Series wins in the past 6 years, you just knew this loss wasnt going to sit well with Steinbrenner. He was going to do something about this loss. And you knew it was going to be brash, splashy, and stupid.

And it was. He signed a talented Zombie named Jason Giambi. A huge home run hitter, despite the fact that the 96-00 Yanks never had big HR hitter, and had won with pitching, defense and smart, clutch hitting. Those facts be damned. What the Yanks needed was a colossal, base-clogging, defense-deficient, HR-hitting 1b. Bye Tino.

I'm getting that feeling in my stomach again. Since that winter when Steinbrenner signed Giambi, Rondell White, Sterling Hitchcock, and later, Gary Sheffield, Carl Pavano, Kyle Farnsworth, Jared Wright, Randy Johnson and Johnny Damon (and history has proven him right, no?), the Yanks have not won a World Series.

I'm worried now because of the Steinbrenner sons, specifically The Hankster. Hank seems to love to gab to the press, see his mug on ESPN. And that worries me. He says all the right things, patience, youth, etc. But what happens if the Yanks dont win next year? Does he seem the type to go quietly, regroup and come back next year. Or more the type to get the back pages back with a big trade? Say Phil Hughes, Melky and Cano for Jamie Moyer?

Which brings me to the Future of the Yankees. What they need to do. Cashman has had them on the right path, but even he seems interested in signing useless free agents. He got Damon when they really didnt need an aging, injury-prone CF with a canary wing for an arm. The Yanks should take his rebuild from within vision and take a step further.

By all accounts, Damon is a class act and a good guy. But he's useless right now. Melky has CF bottled up, and for now, Matsui and Abreu are entrenched in the other spots. Jason Zombie has the DH spot as he isnt fit for any other place (at least until 2009, when he gets off the payroll). And Kyle is the definition of a guy totally ill-suited to the Big Light at the Stadium. But both have value. A team like the Braves could use these guys. With Andruw Jones probably all set to leave Atlanta, the suddenly frugal Braves could get the Yankees to pay for part of the salaries and get back a couple of prospects from the always-talented farm system. Or the Angels or White Sox who both have nice young 3Bs in case Alex leaves.

You need a couple of big-game pitchers come fall. When the Sox got Beckett, I shuddered. The kid is mercurial, sure, but watching him beat the Yanks in 2003, you knew this kid wanted the ball come crunch time. And he would deliver. Those guys are rare. And when you have one, keep him. Hopefully, Andy will come back, anchor the rotation and maybe, rub off on Joba, Hughes, Kennedy and the youngsters.

Look, nobody loves Donnie Baseball more than me. When the Yanks finally won the Series in 1996, my first thought was for Mattingly, who retired the year before, poor bastard. But the truth is Girardi is the man for the job. He already had a team of kids in Florida and got them in the playoff hunt till the last week. Even as a catcher, he was a manger on the field. He knew how to call and control a game. And he has a strong opinion of how the game should be played, which unlike other people, I think is a good thing. For all my love for Donnie, I question if he can stand up to Hank and the whole Tampa crew of upper management second guessers. Torre, a dignified, quiet and beloved man, yes, was no pushover. And I think Girardi could be cut from the same mold. A firm hand on a notoriously rocky ship.

Look, A-Rod wants to stay. Even if he does leave, you know Alex will consider this a failure. They guy wants to be the player of his generation. He wants the number retired, the plaque in left field and the trip through the Canyon of Heroes. He wants to PROVE HIMSELF. Because even with all the MVPs, and the gaudy numbers, he doesnt have the ring. He doesnt have the shining moment where he became a winner. Jeter has "the flip" and the 10th inning HR against Arizona, Rivera has countless big saves. Could you think of an Alex moment. Not in April?
Get him to stay. He wants to, so get him. Keep him with the old Yankee core and form a new one. Watching Cano, Melky, Shelly Duncan, Joba and all the kids laugh and play this season, you could see the camraderie building. You could see the future. So keep the old core and get them to help the new one. Joba and Rivera in the bullpen, Cano and Melky with A-Rod in the dugout. Build a foundation.

That anxious feeling in my stomach—if the Yankees do all this—maybe it goes away.