Sunday, February 28, 2010

Random NFL Trade Thought

St. Louis needs a quarterback.
In an uncapped year, prior to a CBA renegotiation which will almost certainly produce a rookie slotting system for contracts, no GM wants to be on the hook for doling out the last of the ginormous rookie deals. Hence, teams in the top 10 or so in the draft will be scrambling to trade down. especially since there's really no elite offensive talent in this year's draft.
Even in a good year, GMs hate giving the really big money to defensive players. Cf Jimmy Kennedy, among others.
The undisputed best player in this year's draft is a defensive lineman, Ndamukong Suh.
Which means a GM with high draft pick - like, say the Rams' GM, is going to be doubly unwilling to pay top dollar for Mr. Suh as the top draft pick.
The Eagles have a surfeit of quarterbacks and cash to burn. And they have a desperate need on the defensive line.
It may not happen. But someone's probably going to at least sniff around it.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

UR DOING IT RONG

Which is another way of saying I was watching some ESPN over lunch at a local pizza joint the other day and spotted their spring training coverage of the Dodgers. Included in the "key additions"? Angel Berroa.

That...pretty much says it all.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Thank you, ESPN

Without your relentless coverage of Saturday's minor league NASCAR race, I never would have known that Danica Patrick A)drives cars and B)has breasts.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

48 hours after the biggest press conference in history...

...and I still don't care who Tiger Woods slept with.

Dear commercial media: This is not important news. Please stop treating it like important news. Please stop saying horrifically inappropriate things like insinuating Jesper Parnevik had "tried Elin out" before introducing her to Tiger. Please stop saying stupid things like "Tiger owes you an apology." He doesn't. He owes his wife an apology, and his kids when they're old enough to figure out what the hell happened, and maybe Jesper Parnevik. Not you. And please remember at some point that if you're even going to pretend golf is a sport, you should cover what's going on out on the links every so often. Just in case, you know, actual sports happens.

Thank you.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Sixers-Bucks Trade

After all the rumors, it's...Jodie Meeks and Francis Elson for Primoz Brezec, Royal Ivey, and a second round draft pick.

And I can honestly say - as someone who knows that Mo Cheeks was a second-round pick out of West Texas State and loved chocolate chip cookies - that I had to double-check to see which team these guys originally played for, and who was getting whom.

This is what passes for trade deadline excitement in Sixerland.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Mixed Messages

The NBA welcomed a record 108,000 fans to the All-Star Game this past weekend!
The NBA claims $400M in operating losses this year!

There could possibly have been a better time to announce the latter. Doing so at an event that highlights the league's resurgent popularity and ability to sell tickets gives it the whiff of mathematical monkeyshines. At this point, I'm skeptical of any pro sports league's claims that its owners - who enjoy ridiculous tax breaks, see their assets steadily rise in value, play accounting games that make Madoff's routine look like Candyland, and play in publicly-built castles with sweetheart leases - are losing money. but this one definitely comes with a side helping of "you're kidding me, right?"

Of course, the real thing they're going for here is to stir up anti-player sentiment among the fanbase. How can those players ask for so much money? How can they demand such a high percentage of gross revenues for playing a game? It's a time-tested PR strategy, and it works.

Left unsaid, of course, is that if the players aren't getting that money, the plutocrat owners are. Ticket prices won't drop. Concession prices won't drop. Parking prices won't drop. But hey, at least those greedy players won't be getting the cash!

Right? Right.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Great American Race(TM)

"Hi! I'm a pothole! And I hate NASCAR!"


The irony of the biggest, baddest race on the NASCAR calendar being held up - twice - because of a pothole - is just too good. For all the talk of "the car of tomorrow" and how these "stock" car drivers are the best and most competitive on the planet, they still got derailed on national television by something a soccer mom in a station wagon - excuse me, "crossover vehicle" - would plow right through.

Yeah, I know. Hit a pothole at 190 and it's ugly. That being said, you'd think NASCAR would do a better job with the track at their showcase event. And really, apart from Alaskan Ice Truckers, who else can claim a two hour delay at work because of a pothole and get away with it.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Tournament of Everyone Ambulatory in Shouting Distance

The big topic in college basketball today - now that we don't have to worry about "Will Dick Vitale burst a blood vessel courtside and spray Duke blue from his femoral artery all over the Dean Dome?" for another year - is whether the NCAA tournament should expand to 96 teams.

The people this notion benefits are obvious. One, the coaches. 50% more of them get to say they led a team to the tourney. Two, the big conferences. They'll have more teams getting in, which means more tourney revenue to split. Three, umm, well, you've got me there. Really, this is about making sure that the #s 7 and 8 teams from BCS conferences make it in so that coaches can plaster "Made the tournament" on their resume. None of the teams potentially picked up by this would ever be a threat to win the Big Dance. Hell, most wouldn't make it out of the first round. All that would be achieved would be the final death of the venerable NIT, and the reduction of font sizes in order to squeeze 96 team brackets onto single pages for office pools.

Oh, and "student-athletes" missing more class for the additional games, the very same thing supposedly holding up a football playoff. But hey, consistency is the hobgoblin of the minds of people who don't rake in billion dollar television deals, right?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

DuClina

There are three kinds of basketball fans in the Triangle: Duke fans, Carolina fans, and State fans, i.e. "fans who hope that the Dean Dome and/or Cameron will suffer a fortuitous meteor strike when Duke and Carolina get together". This is due in part to the relentless overexposure the rivalry gets, and in part to the fact that 98% of the carpetbaggers who move down here immediately become Duke fans because, hey, nobody in the Northeast can play college football, either.

(The closest thing I have to a rooting allegiance in college basketball is for the Big Five; I'm happy to see Temple, Penn, Nova, St. Joes or LaSalle take down anyone.)

Duke-Carolina really is the Yankees-Red Sox of college hoops: a stirring rivalry that has been relentlessly hyped and sold as the only rivalry in the sport worth paying attention to. What that means is that other, equally interesting teams don't get as much play, weakening the sport as a whole. It also means that when one of the two titans in blue is having a down year - like this year - all the Chicken Littles immediately start going off on how "the rivalry has lost its luster" - and the sport as a whole is diminished as a result.

Duke-Carolina is great. So's 'Nova-Georgetown. And Purdue-Indiana. And Louisville-Kentucky. And any number of other rivalries. Until Dickie V admits that he's actually Connor McLeod's great-grandpappy - which is not out of the realm of possibility - it should be clear: there can be more than one.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Super Bowl Afterthoughts

In no particular order...

  • Was it just me, or was it mildly creepy that the NFL was using the same music for its ads that "Where the Wild Things Are" used for its trailer?
  • The game turned, not on the pick, but on the Colts' inability to pick up multiple first downs at the end of the first half. The Saints' gamble was clear: go for it on 4th. If you score, you're tied. If you don't, bet your defense can hold and you'll get a decent chance at another crack at a three. The safe play would have been the bad one - kick the field goal and give Manning a couple of minutes left to march down the field and drive a dagger in. Of course, the gamble would have failed if Manning and company had been able to get more than 9 yards. The Saints took the punt in good field position, drove far enough to get a field goal, and had both a manageable game and the momentum going into the locker room. For all that Payton Manning made his patented "kickers are icky" face when Matt Stover's 51 yarder knuckled left at the last minute, he's not blameless in the loss.
  • Why does anybody care about the halftime show? At this point, the acts they get are trying to cram so many song snippets in - you can't play the Super Bowl unless you had albums originally come out on 8-track at this point, which means a back catalog of hits you MUST get to - that it's basically like listening to a series of ringtones. Also, why was Roger Daltrey hunched up like that throughout the performance. He looked like he was either going to fall down or sprout wings.
  • Perfect symmetry -Reggie Wayne and the Pride of Hofstra, Marques Colston, both had through-the-hands-and-off-the-facemask drops.
  • I believe this is the first Super Bowl where tackling was optional. Joseph Addai hasn't seen holes like that since he dreamed he was trapped in a giant Swiss cheese, but the Saints' devotion to the matador tackle didn't help much.If the Colts had kept going to him - like they did on their last scoring drive - things might have turned out different.
  • Gotta love the "Aww, man!" Payton Manning expression. You've just gotta. One got the sense that had Indy won, it would somehow have been solely Manning's work - never mind that monster offensive line that kept him off his butt all season long. But since they lost...
  • That being said, any of the talking heads yammering about how Manning needed to win a second Super Bowl to "cement his legacy" needs to put a sock in it - and then fill the sock with concrete. Winning a Super Bowl, or not, does not make one a great quarterback. Jeff Hostetler won a Super Bowl. Brad Johnson. Trent @#$ing Dilfer. Even if these guys had somehow managed to win ten, they wouldn't have been great quarterbacks. Oh, and Brett Favre? The Greatest Quarterback Evar? One.
  • Imagine how much damage Drew Brees could have done if the Saints' O-line had given him enough time to set his feet before he threw?
  • Once the Colts started rolling Manning out, it was all over. Mannings don't run. They just don't.
  • That being said, I think Dallas Clark is still open over the middle.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Big Fat Hairy Game Prediction

New Orleans lives by getting turnovers. Indianapolis doesn't turn the ball over.

Colts win.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Random Thoughts On Random Free Agents

  • Orlando Hudson, 2B, Twins - People point out that Hudson was benched for Ronnie Belliard last year. People forget that this was in large part due to Joe Torre's predilection for playing guys in worse shape than he is.
  • Adam Kennedy, 2B, Nationals - Because nothing is more important to a franchise that needs to develop its young players than keeping Christian Guzman on the field as much as possible.
  • Johnny Damon, OF, Nobody In Particular - Because it wasn't that his salary demands got big. It's that the Yankees got small. (Seriously - when Buster Olney, the High Priest of the Yankees at ESPN, lays you out for dealing with them poorly, you've made a serious tactical error somewhere along the line.)
  • Jason Bay, OF, Mets - Because if you can't play for the Yankees, at least you can play near the Yankees.
  • Scott Hairston, Jon Garland, and a cast of thousands, Padres - Don't be too rough on those uniforms, boys. They're going to need them for someone else around July 30th or so.
  • Placido Polanco, 3B, Phillies - Well, somebody has to stand out there. There is, however, no truth to the rumor that Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. dropped his iPod before opening contract negotiations began and got stuck on an endless loop of "Three (Is A Magic Number)" At this point, the only Phillies he hasn't locked up for three more years are Steve Jeltz, Bake McBride, and the ghost of Del Ennis.
  • Adam LaRoche, 1B, Diamondbacks -No truth to the rumor that he keeps a bar chart on his wall tracking how much Damon's lost by overplaying his hand this offseason vs. how much he lost by turning down San Francisco.
  • Bengie Molina, C/land mass, Giants - Because when Adam LaRoche turns you down, really, what's the point.

And the Super Silliness, It Continues

Overheard tonight on the drive home, a commercial for the Super Bowl (I'm not calling it The Big Game and you can't make me) huffing excitedly about how on Sunday, Drew Brees and the Saints will match wits with Peyton Manning and the Colts.

Now, call me crazy, but does anyone, and I mean anyone, sit down to watch the Super Bowl and say, "Boy, I can't wait for those two teams of freakishly large physical specimens in lightweight body armor to match wits!" People watch for the parties. People watch for the cheerleaders. People watch for the commercials. Some folks, especially those who have money riding on it (and let's not kid ourselves - 80% of the ghoulish interest in Dwight Freeney's ruptured ankle tendon this week is driven by betting) watch it because they want to watch the game. But very, very few people think, "Can't wait for the Super Bowl. They're gonna match wits*!"

*Yeah, yeah, I know. Quarterbacks are field generals, it's all very complicated with lots of planning, blah blah blah. That still doesn't mean anyone watches it for the wit-matching. Besides, if Terry Bradshaw could figure it out, how witty do you really have to be?

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

In the Ever-Raging War...

...between "mainstream journalists" (most of whom blog now, or think they're blogging) and bloggers (who may or may not be wearing pants as they perform their professional duties), there really is a clear differentiation between the two. Sure, you can argue about old school media versus new media and how the ESPN guys (except for Olney and KLaw) are giving the goods away on Twitter and so forth, but really, there's one insurmountable difference that clearly draws the line.

Mainstream media never, ever, gets schooled in the comments section by the subject of a blog post's Mom.

Define "Interested"

According to a tweet from Dan Hayes, Brian Giles' agent is claiming that 8-10 teams are interested in him.

8-10 teams. Roughly 30% of the teams out there. Somehow, I find it difficult to believe that there are that many teams interested in an aging, injury-prone corner outfield who hasn't displayed any power in years. Sure, there could be somebody who wants a bel0w-average fielder who slugged .271 last year - by comparison, that's lower than Willy Taveras' OBP number - as a "veteran influence", but with better options out there, why look at this guy?

To be fair, at this point it's not an offseason to me until Scott Boras claims that a "mystery team" is in on one of his clients for whom the number of bidders ranges between zero and one. After yesterday's attempt to link Johnny Damon to the Tigers (note to Johnny: you can't have wanted to be a Tiger all along and still be upset over not getting an offer you like from the Yankees. The timing, it doesn't quite work), it's becoming increasingly clear that by "mystery team" Boras means the Fort Worth Cats, but they're at least real. On the other hand, claiming 8 to 10 are in on a guy whose knees got more solid hits than his bat last year is just showing off. It's the old "I have a girlfriend. In Canada. Who's a supermodel" shtick, and just as believable. if there are 10 teams out there kicking the tires on Giles, I'm guessing at least one's made up of Skaven and halflings, three are actually bowling teams in the local seniors' league, and one is Team Venture. And no, Teams Edward and Jacob don't count.

(Also, considering how much of last year Giles was on the shelf with a knee contusion, whoever's kicking the tires had best do it very gently.)

Ultimately, I'm sure someone will give Giles an NRI. He was productive, if not powerful, in 2008, and if he's willing to take "aging outfielder money", there's probably a place out there for him*. That being said, I'm having a hard time coming up with five teams he'd be a reasonable fit for, let alone ten, and never mind that there are still offensive options like Johnny Damon and the Mighty Branyan out there. And really, a non-story like this is good news. It means the off-season's winding down, the agents who didn't hook their guys up are getting desperate, and pitchers and catchers will be reporting soon.

*San Francisco? I mean, he's an aging veteran who can't hit. It's a natural fit.
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