Saturday, August 30, 2008

So It Is Written

Sports reporting, for the most part, is silly. You read it and then take what you've read with a grain of salt. And for the most part, you get used to the schmoes who blast you with anger and overstatements—you mostly get used to it. However, the one thing you don't get used to is when the overstatement mixes with the smug and lazy thinking and silly rationalizations. Here's an example.

John Harper and Mike Lupica (in fact all almost all of the Daily News writers) have been pounding Brian Cashman all week for not making the Johan Santana trade. That's the trade of Phil Hughes, Ian Kennedy and Melky Cabrera for Johan Santana. They imply this season could have been saved if Johan, and Johan alone would have been a Yankee. They imply he would have fixed all the Yankees problems.

And yes, while Hughes and Kennedy haven't performed all that well, it's way too early to be giving up on these kids. Hughes, for instance was only in six games, for a total of 22 innings before he broke a rib. Kennedy has pitched 39 innings this season, and a total of 59 for his career. Johan Santana, the guy everyone at the Daily News revere had a 6.49 after his first 86 innings. In fact, Santana didn't become "Santana" until his third season in the league.

But more than the famous Yankees impatience—or rather New York City impatience—is the lack of vision regarding Santana itself. Namely, there are signs he's slipping. Now, a look at his numbers show that, yes, he's not "Barry Zito" slipping, but there are definite signs. First of all, his strikeouts are way down, from a 9.7 (K/9) last year to a 7.5 this year. And his walks and WHIP are up. In fact, his WHIP has climbed steadily every year since 2004.

There were already signs Santana was slipping last year. His ERA and WHIP both jumped significantly. And in the second half last year, his ERA climbed north of 4.00, including a 4.94 ERA in September. This year, in the much easier National League, in the cushy confines of spacious Shea Stadium, Santana still has the highest WHIP of his career since his first year as a starter and the highest walk rate nice that same year. Consider LaTroy Hawkins, who with the Yankees had a 5.71 ERA has with the Astros, has earned a 0.00 ERA in 9 innings and has 15 Ks. Santana should have had a dominating year in the National league and in Shea Stadium. He was set up to rule. And while he has a had a nice year, it wasn't the mega year he should have had.

But don't tell that to the media. Heck, if only the Yankees had gotten Santana, all would be well. According to them, he'd have gotten the Cy Young in the more hitter friendly Yankee Stadium (the 4th highest hitter-friendly rating as opposed to 23rd rated Shea Stadium) while pitching in the American League. And the Yankees, with Giambi batting .250 and Cano slumping the first half and Posada injured and Matsui injured and Wang injured and Bruney injured...Santana would have cured all of that. Because he would have magically pitched in his 2004 form and not the trend he seemed to be going.

While the above paragraph is sarcastic, let me be honest. Santana is a superb pitcher, no doubt. However, what irks is the overstatement, the hyperbole—the eagerness to blame somebody for something, despite the fact that your "cure" might not have been the cure at all. And in the New York papers, the belief is, if you repeat something enough, it becomes true. So not getting Santana ruined the Yankees season. So it is written, so it is true.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Infanity

Back when I was growing up, the two things that kids could get into that scared parents senseless was Dungeons and Dragons and heavy metal. Parents were paranoid that listening to Dio or living in a fantasy world with elves and gnomes would cause their children to filp out and go on a kill-crazy rampage. Seriously. Tom Hanks even starred in a movie called Mazes and Monsters about a guy going insane playing D&D (it was awful), and Congress, because they had nothing better to do, held hearings about the dangers of heavy metal music.

As seriously stupid as it is to believe that things like that could drive you to insanity, I have to admit it crosses my mind sometimes that sports might drive people out of their gourds. Think about it. You have thousands of people, who have nothing personal at stake—no money, no loved ones' lives, no jobs, nothing taken from them—but who paint their faces and get into costumes, and turn their bodies into living displays of their favorite teams.

Aristotle said: "No excellent soul is exempt from a mixture of madness." And heck I'm no different—I live and die with my teams. I passed out for 16 hours when the Knicks lost to the Rockets in 1994 because my body couldn't handle their losing. I was so dejected when the Yanks lost to the D-Backs in 2001 I became physically became ill for a time. However, I draw the line at painting my stomach and sitting in freezing cold weather without a shirt. In fact, I don't own a jersey or cap or anything with a team logo on it. And I've never had the urge to shave my head or carve my team's logo into my teeth. I don't know why—I just never had the urge.

And frankly, the people who do freak me out a bit. Again, I write a sports blog and dedicate huge blocks of time to watch games that, when it comes down to it, affect my life in no way at all—so you know I've got serious credentials as a sports nutter. But, how does that love for a sports team turn into...well...displays of a proud kind of insanity.

I mean, look at the guy with the hairdo. Really...that took a lot of work. He got someone to agree to shave his hair into the shape of India, then dye it the correct colors of the cricket team. Man, that's a lot of work. Never mind coming up with the idea in the first place; that's tough to execute.

Or look at the guy with the back tattoo. I'm all for supporting your team...but mutating your body in an painful manner by putting a bizarre montage of your favorite game...a wedding ring by comparison, which you would assume would matter more, is about an inch big. And can be taken off.

So help me out here. What am I missing? Why the urge to shave your back hair into your favorite Nascar number? Why does dressing up like a biker-Skeletor make you feel like you're supporting your team better than me? And what's with the face paint?

And I'm not putting down those guys (and gals) who do that. (OK, maybe a little.) I'm just curious.

I lied. In point of fact, I do have something that has a logo on it. A Yankee key chain. But it's a bottle opener too. You know. For my beers.

So I showed my fan-dom. And it didn't involve costumes, needles, shaving or looking like this guy.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Transactions....

Nice to see China wait for like 6 seconds after the Olympic lovefest ended to expel 8 political protesters from the country. Yeah, the Olympics really helped "open up" Chinese society.


Miami Hurricane football coach Randy Shannon suspended 7 players for the game against Charleston Southern this week. All 7 will be back and play the following week against the Florida Gators. Wow, what a disciplinarian. Suspending them for the Charleston Southern game—if he really wanted to punish them he should have bought them X-boxes and free pizza.


Here's a great story I wish had gotten out more at the Olympics. Not only did the American women sweep all three medals sabre fencing—the first time that's happened for America, but the gold medal winner, Mariel Zagunis, also won the gold in Athens in 2004. And she wasn't even supposed to be there.

In 2004, Zagunis only made the team as an alternate. However, at the last second, Nigeria decided not to send an athlete, so Zagunis got to go, although had next to no chance for any medal. She then, however, won every match and got the first gold for American fencing in 100 years. Then, she did it again this year. A great story.


By the way, New York Giants....whatever Strahan wants to come back....give it to him. A private blimp to take him to and from Giant games, a personal cheerleader/masseuse squad. Whatever. Give it to him.


He's a review from a scout watching the Giants: "They have not been sweating the loss of (Jeremy) Shockey at all. (Second-year TE Kevin) Boss is good — he’s a better blocker (than Shockey). It does not even look like they even blinked (since he left)."


Seems like the National league took, what? 3 weeks to adjust to Jeff Karstens?


And Julius Jones is looking the same in Seattle as he did in Dallas—a bad mix of hard/easy. Afraid to hit the hole hard, goes down easy.


I loved the Olympics, but man am I happy to not hear Tim Daggett criticize each and every gymnast mistake as "Disastrous" 1000 times a night.


The man the Chiefs traded around Jared Allen's 16 sacks a season for, Brandon Allen is still walking around with a boot around hi left foot. And with the other starting offensive tackle Damien McIntosh also out with an injury, the Chiefs might be entering the season with back-ups at both tackle spots. Why not just paint a bulls-eye on Brodie Croyle now?


And lastly, America's favorite recovering alcoholic/strumpet/part-time actress, Lindsay Lohan called Bears quarterback du jour, Kyle Orton ''super-hot''as he showcased his moves at a Chicago dance club. So for you all, I decided to showcase Kyle showcasing his moves at other clubs over the years. Gotta tell ya...I just don't see the super-hotness.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The House That Yogi Christened

In 1923, even before the first ticket had been sold, the baseball cathedral that opened as the home field for the New York Yankees came to be known as "The House That Ruth Built." Humongous and pricey, the stadium's nickname was a tribute to the person who had brought the fans to it. It wasn't called "The House That Ruppert Built" even though it was owner Jacob Ruppert's money that built it, and his acumen that made the Yankees from an also-ran to a perennial powerhouse. No, the stadium was nicknamed for the man who brought in the fans, making them cheer by playing the game with a majesty and splendor they had never seen before.

Next year, when the new Yankee Stadium opens, amongst the fanfare and hoopla of the opening festivities will come the ceremonial first ball thrown. Without question, that honor should go to Yogi Berra.

Some may say it should be George Steinbrenner, and yes, a case can be made for old George. Like Ruppert, he bought the Yankees at a low ebb in their history and turned them into contenders. Steinbrenner has repeatedly said that the Yankees have a history of class and quality—Yankee Pride—and has never stopped short of trying to live up to that pride, by getting the best players available, rewarding said players monetarily, and acknowledging those player's achievements once their careers are over. There's a reason players such as Goose Gossage and Reggie Jackson decided to enter the Hall of Fame wearing the Yankee logo—and that's because the Yankees have always tried to treat their heroes with respect. To do the right thing by them—retiring their numbers, having a special day in their name, and keeping them in the Yankee family.

And that tradition should continue with Yogi Berra, the greatest living Yankee, throwing out the first pitch in the new stadium. His resume needs no defense. Indeed, his ten World Series rings as a player and two more as a Yankee coach, his three MVPs, and, even more, his ambassadorship of the game make Berra the obvious choice. Simply put, he best represents what the Yankees stand for, both on and off the field.

Yogi is baseball. He's what's good about the game. While Steinbrenner did a lot of good for the Yankees, outside of New York he is not regarded with much love. To some, he's exactly what's wrong with the game with his perceived overspending hurting small market teams. But Yogi supercedes the Yankees and represents all that was, and is, good about the game of baseball. For almost 60 years, as player, coach, manager, and spokesmen for the game, Yogi Berra is the guy jumping into Don Larsen's arms or the man tagging Jackie Robinson at home plate. He is the iconic aw-shucks smile and the off-the-wall quote. He's everything the Yankees, and baseball, want to exemplify.

Even Steinbrenner himself, as ego-maniacal and controlling as he has been in the past, would probably agree that the right thing to do to introduce the new stadium is by having the greatest living player from his franchise throw out the first ball. This new stadium is not the stadium that Steinbrenner built. It's the stadium that Berra, DiMaggio, Mantle, Ford, Rizzutto, Jackson, Munson, Guidry, Jeter, Posada and Rivera built. Steinbrenner should know that and get the greatest one of them all out there to christen it.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Monday, August 18, 2008

Transactions....

Let me get this straight: Baseball gets voted out of the next Olympics, but Trampoline is safe?


Word is Dave Duncan might not re-up with the St. Louis Cardinals next year as their pitching coach. Dave should tell his wife to expect 31 phone calls from GMs around the league. Oh...and that sound your hearing....it's the Brewers and Cubs dancing for joy.


Growing up in New York City, I used to love to read Mike Lupica. He was smart, could write well and had a good sense of humor. But somewhere along the way, he actually started to actually think that his opinion was so important it couldn't—and shouldn't—be confined to sports. So it is that every week—and I mean every week—in the middle of reading about Mike Phelps, or Joe Girardi, or Brett Farve, we get a crack about John Edwards, or George Bush, or Lupica's personal obsession, Rudy Giuliani. Every week!!!

Yesterday, right after a comment on Joe Torre and the Dodger's chances in the NL West, he writes this. "You better read The Atlantic story on Hillary Clinton's campaign and then ask yourself a question, for the last time: If she was the most qualified manager, if she was ready to lead on "day one," how come she couldn't even manage her own campaign?" A little while later, he writes about Roger Federer and just before a few comments on Mo Rivera and Michael Phelps, he drops this in out of the blue. "I like when our President talks real tough about Russia and then heads off to the ranch for vacation."

Lupe...I don't care what you think about John Edwards, Hillary Clinton or George Bush. Neither does anyone else. No one picks up your column to read your witticisms on our President or the Mid-East peace process. We read your column to get your take on Damien Woody, or Carmelo Anthony, or Aaron Rodgers. You're not a political analyst. You're a sportswriter. Write about sports.


Anyway, now that's off my chest, I'll go and pat myself on my own back. I told you back in June, you should watch the Olympics for nothing else than Bela's bizarre commentating. http://andaplayertobenamedlater.blogspot.com/2008/06/transactions_30.html Was I wrong. His over emphatic Borat-isms make the studio segments worth while.


The Sporting News had an interesting point in discussing the Cardinals' post-season chances. They wrote this: "...the [Cardinals] bullpen has already blown a major-league high 25 saves this season. Mariano Rivera has blown 25 saves too—in the past seven years.


I really hope Mike Mussina makes it to 20 wins. if for no other reason that to keep quiet the bean-counters who say he isn't a good pitcher because he's never won 20. As if a lifetime .638 winning percentage, a career WHIP of 1.19 and a SO to Walk ratio of 3.57 (13th all-time, mind you) wouldn't qualify him as a damn good pitcher.


Expect 9 men in the box against the Raiders offense this year. Word is out of Raider camp is the passing game actually regressed during training camp—with bad passes being mixed in liberally with drops. Pray that Michael Bush, Justin Fargas and uber-rook Darren McFadden can find a whole in the huge fronts defense will be giving them.


On the other hand, the Colts are loving what they've gotten in this year's draft. Mike Pollack has gotten a ton of reps in camp and is the front-runner to replace Jake Scott as the everyday RG and Jacob Tamme, has been called "a Dallas Clark Clone" which is the highest form of praise you could get from Indianapolis coaches.


And finally, while we don't mean any disrespect, but doesn't American volleyball player, 6'9" Phil Dalhausser remind anyone else of Manhunter's psycho killer Francis Dolarhyde? No. Just me?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

No Manny, Please

As the Yankees' season looks more and more like one that will end with the end of September, the buzz around water coolers and bar stools is: "Should the Yankees go after Manny Ramirez this winter." Wouldn't that be cool?

In a word, no.

Yes, I'm aware of what Ramirez is capable of. A righty bat that can thump the ball anywhere any time. Power, average, the works. Then why no?

The first reason not to do it is Ramirez's age and the amount of money it would take to sign him. Ramirez, while still a dangerous hitter (especially when focused, which is rare) is aging. His HRs are way down, hitting only 24 this year after only 20 last year (compared to 43 and 45 in 2004 and 2005). Up until the trade to LA, he had a .529 slugging percentage and only a .493 last year. Consider that even past his prime, Ramirez's agent, Scott Boras, would command a 5- to 6-year deal in the 20 million a year range (Ramirez is not taking a 1- or 2-year deal as some have suggested) and that's a serious commitment to an aging player. And where exactly does Ramirez play—in Yankee Stadium's spacious left field? If so, where does Matsui or Damon play—both highly paid players themselves? And how would your defense really perform if, say, Matsui and his bum knee played in left, Damon and his weak wing patrolled the deep parts of center, and Ramirez was on first? Is that a better option than Ramirez playing in left?

All that considered, do you really want to give 100 to 120 million to a player who—should we put it politely?—dances to his own beat. Even more so than the huge financial commitment, his declining stats, and his indifferent—if not outright poor—defense, the reason the Yankees shouldn't go after Manny Ramirez is...well, I'll let these examples speak for themselves:

1. Ramirez pushes a traveling secretary down because the man can't get him the 16 tickets he wanted, only 4.

2. Ramirez misses an important series against the Yankees claiming he has pharyngitis. He is later seen at a hotel bar with Yankee Enrique Wilson.

3. In his first game ever, Ramirez hits a ground rule double, but thought he hit a home run until the third base umpire stopped him and told him to go back to second. He is shortly thereafter picked off.

4. Often, doesn't leave batter's box after hitting a ground ball.

5. Refused to enter a game when manager Grady Little sends him in to pinch hit.

6. Takes a self-appointed day off even though outfielder Trot Nixon is injured and the Red Sox have a short bench.

7. Tried to sell his neighbor's barbecue grill.

The list goes on.

The point being, manager Joe Girardi and Brian Cashman are in the process of refurbishing the roster to make a new Yankee team. And while yes, the mandate in Yankee Stadium is always to win now, no matter the cost, the philosophy has changed—for the better. With the hiring of Girardi and the refusal to sign huge market free agents last fall, the Yankees have recommitted to what won them their last four championships (and what is working for the Angels and Rays right now) that is, defense, speed and pitching. Not huge money signings.

Right now the Yankees roster is clogged with slow, station-to-station DH types and a mish-mash of old and young pitching. But that is slowly changing. With Joba, Edwar Ramirez, Jose Veras, and hopefully Phil Hughes and with kids like Austin Jackson on the way, it's clear that Cashman and Girardi have a new plan in mind. And that's a plan worth sticking to.

Again, I don't think Manny Ramirez is a bad player; he's a remarkable bat when focused, but at this point in his career, and considering the Yankees aren't in a place where he's a good fit, the wise move is to pass.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Transactions....

Truly, this year has got to be one of the most amazing in recent sports history. The Giants defeating the Patriots, the Nadal-Federer match. And now, the incredible last twenty meters against the French in the 4x100m relay. Truly awesome stuff. One thing, though—Mike, do me a favor. Pick up your pants a little bit. Please.


So, now, 1st round bears pick, Chris Williams is out with a back injury. Well, heck, usually those aren't so bad...right?

Really, what's with the Bear's first round picks? Going back to Curtis Conway in 1993—since then, they've only hit it 3 times, with Brian Urlacher, Tommie Harris and Walt Harris. Some of the other picks? Rashaan Salaam, (picked ahead of Ty Law and Derrick Brooks), Curtis Enis (picked ahead of Fred Taylor, Keith Brooking and Randy Moss), Cedric Benson (picked 60 picks ahead of Frank Gore), Michael Haynes (picked ahead of Troy Polamalu), David Terrell (picked 22 picks ahead of Reggie Wayne and 28 picks ahead of Chad Johnson) and Cade McNown, whom the Bears passed up on Daunte Culpepper to take. Guys....not a good legacy.


Speaking of the Bears, this one really hurt. Mushin Muhammad called out—and by called out, I mean totally ripped—the Bears. He said, and I quote, "Chicago is where receivers go to die." Hey Musie, not to defend the Bears or Rex Grossman, but when did you exactly turn into Marvin Harrison or Jerry Rice? You've had a decent career, but really, just shut it.


So, I guess we're back to Gary being Gary. Wish I could say I didn't see this coming—that is, Sheffield returning to his jerk ways—but I did. And here he is, right on cue.


I don't think that Joe Girardi or his coaching staff has gotten enough credit in getting Mike Mussina to pitch so much better this year. Moose's ERA is almost 2 full points lower than it was last year. While it seemed at times last year, he was pitching scared, this year, with the edict given to him by pitching coach Dave Eiland and Girardi to challenge hitters, Moose already has more strikeouts than he did all of last year, and his WHIP has dropped from 1.47 to 1.20. That kind of stuff should get noticed—the Yanks coaching staff should get some credit.


And lastly, after watching a little of ESPN's coverage of pre-season Monday Night Football....man I wish I had the NFL Network. Instead of whatever soap opera fomenting, bad TV sitcom plugging nonsense ESPN is calling their football coverage these days.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Ragin' Giant Fan Gets Some Love From The Post

As you know, this blog has a serious, no-nonsense Giants fan for a brother-in-law. And if you've read the excellent open letter he and his wife wrote to the Maras a while back, they are not so much in love with the Giants seat licensing plan. ($20,000 for the right to spend another jillion on the actual tickets) My posting of the letter is a small way to join their raging crusade against this ticket stick-up the Giants are committing.

Well, to join these Righteous Raging Giant fans comes the New York Post. That's right, the world's most dangerous newspaper has printed a story on my brother-in-law and his crusade. And for your reading enjoyment, here it is.

http://www.nypost.com/seven/08112008/news/regionalnews/big_blue_crew_123929.htm

And if you like what you hear, join the fight against this seat licensing fee rip-off.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

A Tale Of Two Selfish Twits

It is the Best of Times to be a Sports Fan. It is the Worst of Times. Never has there been such an incredible year of competition and Cinderella stories—Eli Manning beating the Patriots; Nadal defeating Federer at Wimbledon; the Rays upsetting everybody to take the lead in the AL East, the Fresno State college baseball team. And never has there been such unmitigated selfishness as there's been in the past couple of weeks.

Maybe I overstate, but truly, the sports world of the past few days has been eye-opening in the way a few athletes have been acting selfish with impunity.

If case you hadn't heard, Ron Artest was traded to the Houston Rockets recently. And when asked by the Houston Chronicle of his opinion on the trade, Yao Ming said, "Hopefully, he's not fighting anymore and going after a guy in the stands."

Right now, if you go and check out the mainstream media sites regarding Ron Artest and Yao Ming, all you'll find is how Yao and Artest love each other; fences have been mended, all is well. There are quotes of Artest saying all the right things, he loves the Rockets, he's a Soldier of Yao, blah blah blah. (Good PR team you got there, Ron.)

But here's Ron immediately after he found out what Yao said to the Houston Chronicle, this would be before his PR team got to him.
"I understand what Yao said, but I'm still ghetto. That's not going to change. I'm never going to change my culture. Yao has played with a lot of black players, but I don't think he's ever played with a black player that really represents his culture as much as I represent my culture. Once Yao Ming gets to know me, he'll understand what I'm about. If you go back to the brawl, that's a culture issue right there. Somebody was disrespecting me, so he's got to understand where I'm coming from. People that know me know that Ron Artest never changed."
To be honest, is there anyone who's surprised that this was Artest's first, most honest reaction? Here's a guy who appeared on the Today Show just days after he fomented an arena-wide brawl, and mugged for the camera while trying to hawk his new CD. A guy who asked for a month off from playing with the Pacers because he was tired from promoting an album for a group on his production label. A guy who's had the cops called to his house for domestic violence more than a couple of times throughout his career—including last year.

But the thing that irks is this: Why is Artest getting nothing but love from mainstream media? Here the link for ESPN's PTI interview one day after the "ghetto" comments. http://sports.espn.go.com/broadband/video/videopage?videoId=3513866

Not one question about his first comments—his "I'm still ghetto, I haven't changed." Not one question to the fact that he hasn't changed. Nothing but softballs, such as "Do you think people think you have changed?" What the hell? Why not a question about his "Somebody was disrespecting me" comment?

A few days later, Ron Artest goes on Sunday Conversation with Steven A. Smith (again, great PR team, Artest—pay them well) and when Smith actually brings up Artest's reaction to Yao's comments (though leaving the most incriminating parts out—essentially Smith just quoted the part where Ron said "Yao doesn't know me") Artest's reply—with a straight face and with a serious demeanor—is that he thought Yao meant it as a joke. Honestly. About as believable as the Chinese government saying the pollution problem in Beijing is "just mist."

"Yao is a funny guy. I see him in commercials." Smith has no follow-up question to this—he lets Artest go on. And go on Artest does. He says he doesn't regret the Auburn Hills Palace brawl because he "overcame things." No counter-question from Smith about how the adversity Artest overcame he, in fact, created. Smith let him speak. "I'm not going to say I regret things. Everything I've been thrown has prepared me for now."

It's plain to see that Artest doesn't get it. And why should he? If the media is letting him off the hook for the comments he made, and swallows whole the PR nonsense he spouts afterwards, really, why should he? If they insist of believing—and reporting—that Ron Artest is a changed man, then he can go being who he really is whenever he wants, safe in the knowledge that the media has his back. As he said himself, "People that know me know that Ron Artest never changed."

Also this week, in a story that doesn't at first appear to be similar, but is...His Lordship, the great and powerful Favre himself, "reported" to Packer training camp. Of course it wasn't to lift weights or participate in practice drills with a single teammate. No, there was another purpose to The Favre's visit—to show Packer management how much His Lordship is still loved by the Packer fan and ticket holders. In short, it was to get 56,000 people out to Packer practice to tell new Packer quarterback Aaron Rodgers, “You suck.” Which they did. Day after day.

Here's more of Lord Favre: “I worked my butt off . . . to try to get them to sign Randy Moss.” But the Packers didn't listen to Lord Favre. How dare they! “The Packers shouldn’t be allowed to tell me where I can and can’t play.” No, Lord Favre is above that. Only common players get traded, not The Favre. And to show his displeasure, he's got the faithful Cheese Nation, who showed up at the airport to welcome him back to Wisconsin as if he was John, Paul, George, and Ringo. Not to mention a couple hundred reporters (including his lapdog, ESPN).

Here's something from an article on Yahoo Sports. On Tuesday, while still in discussions with McCarthy about his future, a future he insisted he wanted to be in Green Bay ("My intentions have always been to play for Green Bay,” Favre had told the Sun Herald of Gulfport, Miss.), Favre took a break to call Chris Mortensen of ESPN to tell him he wanted out. In short, he pouted in public. And lied doing it.

“The problem is that there’s been a lot of damage done and I can’t forget it,” he told Mortensen. “Stuff has been said, stories planted, that just aren’t true. Can I get over all that? I doubt it. … So they can say they welcome me back, but come on, the way they’ve treated me tells you the truth. They don’t want me back, so let’s move on.”

Let me repeat that. He called ESPN in the middle of a meeting. Scratch that—in the middle of a spectacle of his creation—to say, we should all "move on." Well, Brett, Charles Woodson, one of your former teammates agrees.

“I think it should end today. We should be talking about the team; instead, we’ve talked about one guy for the last five minutes. This is a situation unique to itself, and it has become its own monster.

“You’ve got fans out there yelling ‘we want Brett,’ yelling A-Rod this and A-Rod that, Ted Thompson this and Ted that. That’s not looking at the grand scheme of things. It’s not helpful at all. You’ve got fans that are die-hard Brett fans, and they’ve put that above the team.”

Exactly, Charles. Brett is purposely making a giant spectacle—no matter who gets hurt—and damaging the ability of his former teammates to do their job. In effect, Favre is holding his former teammates hostage. Until Green Bay deals with him.

And that's what make Favre and Artest so similar. Even in totally dissimilar situations, they both acted the same. They put themselves before the team.

But why are we surprised? When a professional and good guy like Chad Pennington, who did nothing that would ever hurt the team—including helping Kellen Clemens, his eventual rival—appears on the scene and acts with dignity and respect, we all marvel at it, because it's so rare. More common are people who put themselves first—people like Manny Ramirez, who say the Red Sox don't deserve a player like him (a player like him who supposedly was too sick to play in an important series against the Yankees in 2003, but was seen drinking in a hotel bar with Yankee Enrique Wilson; a player like him who pushes down a press secretary when he can't supply him enough free tickets)—in short, athletes who make sure they get what's coming to them, and as much of it as possible.

So when you get a guy like Yao Ming, who's been nothing but a stand-up class act from the second he was drafted and who unequivocally apologized to Artest, we actually take notice. "If something I said would make Ron feel uncomfortable, I apologize...I'm really sorry about that, because I still don't know him very well...Right now the Rockets made a good trade for us and we got a good player." He apologized, even if he felt deep down he wasn't wrong. Why? Because that's what a good teammate does, create harmony for the betterment of the team. Would Manny have? Or would it be "Just Manny being Manny?"

And has Artest apologized to Yao? He said he'd be a warrior, but has he said said he was sorry for having done anything? To Yao? To the people of Detroit? To the game of basketball? "I'm not going to say I regret things. Everything I've been thrown has prepared me for now." Well, how nice for you.

What about Farve? Has he said a word to Aaron Rodgers for making him the most hated man in Green Bay? For whipping 56,000 people wearing Favre jerseys into a frenzy so they'd berate and curse him while he was trying to practice? Has he apologized to Rodgers, when shortly before training camp, a story surfaced that Favre had the itch to return. Favre, via text message, dismissed the report as “just rumors.” Has he apologized to Rodgers for the text message? Has he spoken one word of regret to the Packer franchise while he made them wait on a bed of razors every spring while he thunk and thunk about retiring or not—forcing the organization into inaction and making every other player in the franchise put their careers on hold? For putting himself ahead of the organization as a whole. Has he ever said a word of regret about that?

Of course not. They're both the victim! Favre didn't mean to retire. The Packers are to blame for his retiring! And Artest isn't to blame for jumping into the stands. Heck, everyone else needs to adjust to him, not the other way around.

And that's just the way it is. Right?

Monday, August 4, 2008

Transactions....

Gotta say—that beatdown the Cubs put on the Brewers last week might have just made a really great stretch race moot.


Despite giving up 4 runs in 6 innings yesterday, John Lackey might be the most underrated pitcher in baseball. The AL ERA winner last year, his ERA is about the same this yeae (hovering around 3.00), but his WHIP this year is even better, at a wacky 1.09. He's only given up 25 walks in 107 innings pitched and has a couple of complete games this season—since 2003, he's good for roughly 220 innings a year. Great movement, pinpoint accuracy—why isn't he mentioned along with the Santanas and Becketts?


Word is Marcus Stroud looked strong and quick in Buffalo's training camp. Just a hunch, but I think the Bills got the best of this deal with Jacksonville.


I always thought Steve Smith was a jerk. Thanks for proving me right, Steve.


Let me ask you this; if the Pirates were so high on Jose Tabata (the jewel of the Xavier Nady trade), why did they drop him two levels back to rookie league instead of putting in their AA league, which is where he was with the Yankees? The Gulf Coast League—really?


So now Andy Petitte is thinking of coming back next year after vowing this was his last year. I guess $16,000,000 does make an impression.


I get the feeling Jason Bay is going to fit in perfectly in Boston. I really do.


And lastly.....can someone explain to me how the heck Prince Fielder gets this far off the ground? He must have the leg strength of the Romanian gymnast squad to get that body that high. If anyone can tell me how he does it, please write back and let me know.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Worst Uniforms Ever

In 1987, I was sitting in Madison Square Garden at the NBA draft. A guy in front of me had driven in from Charlotte, North Carolina, just to watch the draft. He was excited because his city was getting a franchise the next year. "That place is gonna be rockin'! The whole city is excited!" but then his face grew pained. "But man....I heard the uniforms...are gonna be pink and green."

My friend and I consoled him as best we could. Lucky for him, the rumor was wrong.

Uniforms matter. They just do. It's the symbol of what you stand for, of who you are. And over the years, I've seen some just awful ideas that made it hard to root for a team, hard even to watch the game. But hey, wearing a ridiculous uniform comes with earning a gigantic salary—although sometimes the players should earn hazard pay. Click on the pictures to make them bigger and get a real good luck at these atrocities.

The Utah Jazz: Mid 90s to Mid 2000s
They look like spearmint-flavored gum. "For that refreshing taste, try "Utah Jazz!"
Chicago White Sox—Mid 70s
Collars. Shorts. They looked they were on a cruise ship, having a Tom Collins when suddenly a baseball game broke out.
Phillies—Late 70s
The Phillies unveiled these burgundy beauts in 1979. I don't think even Ron Burgundy would have worn these.
Cincinnati Bengals—Right Now
I mean...wow. No wonder so many of their players commit crimes.
Anaheim Ducks—Mid 90s
Despite having a pretty cool logo, the face mask lifted to make a duck bill (creative!), these jerseys are just designed to humiliate the wearer. Don't believe me—just click on the picture and look at the guy's face.
Oregon Ducks-Right Now
This is what happens when you have a sneaker company design your uniforms. You get uniforms that look like the Jolly Green Giant's sidekick. Seriously, how do they recruit kids to play in these?
Pittsburgh Pirates—late 70s
The stirrups, the turtleneck underneath the jersey, the colors, just everything.
Denver Nuggets—Late 70s to Early 90s
Dikembe Mutumbo once said, "It's hard to play good when you look so bad." True that, Dikembe. True that.
Oakland A's—70s
No matter how fast you run, dude, you ain't running out of that uniform.
Chicago White Sox—Early 80s
After the pajama unis of the 70s, the White Sox had to think hard to one-up themselves. They came close.
Tennessee Titans—Right now
Actually took the Oiler uniform, and made it worse. Also, the worst logo in sports, period.

Toronto Raptors—Early 2000s
Got their name from a movie. Then thought..."Hey, why not have it dribbling a basketball....in purple? With stripes. (Actually, the raptor on the jersey is wearing a better uniform.)
Syracuse Orangemen—Right Now
Again...how the heck do they recruit kids to play in these uniforms? I mean look at these guys—do they look happy to be there?
Tampa Bay Buccaneers—late 70s
Sticking with the orange theme.... So, if you're a new team, and you decide light orange is your color, and your logo is of some foppish pirate holding a knife in his teeth, winking...you're going to lose for a long, long time.
Golden State Warriors—70s
The 70s were a bad time. Those shorts are the size of a Band-Aid.


San Diego Padres—70s-80s
Too many uniforms to choose from so here, a montage of the Awful that is the Padre uniform. Also, watch Bud Black point out exactly where he lost his dignity.



Houston Astros—70s-Early 80s
Nothing—but nothing—will ever top these uniforms in the Hall of Shame. Where do you start? The gradient/rainbow of screaming loud colors? The number on the pants? The cinching beltline? The giant off-center star? Truly, a masterpiece.

So, did I miss any? Let me know which is your favorite/most hated. Or let me know of any other awful uniforms I missed on the boards.