Ask The Geico Guy: Is Jay Mariotti A Bitch?

31 08 2010

Can soccer announcer Andres Cantor make any sport exciting? Don’t get me wrong; everybody is innocent of criminal charges until they are proven guilty. After all,  I took loads of crap for defending Ben Roethlisberger against criminal charges, but there was no way I wouldn’t say the guy is a douchebag. After all, Big Ben had given us plenty of reasons to believe that before last spring’s rape allegations. Honestly, the same rules apply to Jay Mariotti. For those of you who may not be familiar, Jay Mariotti is a professional media hack who through his work on FanHouse.com and ESPN’s Around The Horn as made enemies throughout the sports world through his sheer need to be a contrarian asshole. Now, those same people who despise him are piling on in the wake of his arrest Saturday for felony domestic abuse. Again, I find myself saying the man is innocent of the criminal charges until the courts find otherwise, but we have a long list of reasons to dislike Jay Mariotti before this incident. The details from USA Today

:

LOS ANGELES (AP) — ESPN personality and AOL sports columnist Jay Mariotti has been arrested on a felony charge in Los Angeles. Officer Norma Eisenman says the 51-year-old Mariotti was arrested early Saturday in the police department’s Pacific Division following a “domestic incident.” Eisenman declined to provide further details. The Sheriff’s Department website confirms Mariotti was booked on an undisclosed felony charge at 5:45 a.m. He was released on $50,000 bail just after noon Saturday. Mariotti lives in Los Angeles. He is a panelist on the ESPN show Around the Horn and writes a regular column for the sports website Fanhouse.com, which is owned by AOL. ESPN spokesman Mike Soltys told USA TODAY that “we are not commenting until this gets sorted out.” Said FanHouse editor Scott Ridge: “We are in the process of gathering the facts and have no further comment.”

Meanwhile the folks at ESPN couldn’t ignore the widespread criticism that has been directed at Mariotti from fans, athletes and other media members.  When asked about it, the show’s panelists explained why it was largely to be expected. .

  • “He chose to be America’s ultimate contrarian,” said panelist Bob Ryan. “He’s going to have to start rethinking how he goes about his business.”
  • Panelist Kevin Blackistone noted Mariotti was a “polarizing figure” and “provocateur” who “told people how they should run their lives.”
  • Panelist Woody Paige noted “sometimes the critics become criticized. We’ve moved into glass houses.”
  • ESPN has not said if Mariotti will ever be back on the show, whose cast is scheduled on a week-to-week basis.

Naturally, those who also make their living in the media stayed away from harshly criticizing Mariotti. The same can’t be said of the commentary of Jerry Reinsdorf, owner of both the Chicago Bulls and White Sox. Reinsdorf often found himself as the target of Mariotti’s butter-knife sharp wit when Mariotti wrote a column for the Chicago Sun-Times. During a panel event at a downtown Chicago restaurant Reinsdorf was asked about his former media nemesis

.

“Jay Mariotti was and is a pissant.  A lot of the people who were laughing here probably have no idea what that means. You can look it up in the dictionary; it has a very definite meaning.  I couldn’t be bothered by him. If he weren’t ripping me he was ripping someone else. He was incredibly inconsistent. I remember one year he ripped (former Cubs president) Andy MacPhail for acquiring Rondell White. The next day he ripped (former White Sox GM) Ron Schueler for not making any deals and referred to the fact that Andy MacPhail had made the heist of the century in getting Rondell White the day before. Nobody ever cared what he said.”

People don’t like Jay Mariotti. I don’t like Jay Mariotti. I’m not the only blogger who doesn’t like him, which is exactly why news of his arrest this past weekend is spreading throughout the blogosphere with a certain unassailable glee. My personal favorite so far comes from Bullish Thoughts. The Quote du Jour:

But here’s the point: Mariotti is everything we should dislike about sports journalism. His opinion exists in it of itself, if that makes sense. It’s meritless and trivial, only hoping to irritate than actually conjure thought…I wrote this long piece because I felt guys like Mariotti, Skip Bayless, Jim Rome and Stephen A. Smith have blurred the lines between journalist and performer for ages and have unfortunately made fortunes off of it. I suppose it’s made me bitter about how we reward mediocrity—constantly. When I talk to non-media, they often pull those names first when referring to media figures. It’s sad, but true.

I can’t improve on that description; I won’t try. I will leave you with the fact that regardless of what Mariotti’s travels through the justice system bring, there is a big smack coming to him from the wheel of karma for what he has done to destroy sports journalism.





Open Letter to The Chicago Cubs: You Need Ed’s Deal

31 08 2010

Here it is nearing the end of the 2010 season, and once again, all is amiss in Wrigleyville. Derrek Lee is gone, Carlos Zambrano is a headcase, Alfonso Soriano is a bust, and thanks to Carlos Silva’s heart issues, the Cubs most effective pitcher is arguably some guy named Tom Gorzelanny. Manager Lou Piniella couldn’t take it anymore, and general manager Jim Hendry is just generally clueless. What it all boils down to is once again the Cubs once again find themselves in complete disarray; they are clearly in need of a leader who can bring them out of malaise that has descended upon the North Side.

Fortunately for the Cubs, this leader is in waiting in their very own farm system. The name “Ryne Sandberg” has been bandied about ever since Piniella left rubber all the way down Waveland Avenue on his way out of town. Face it, Chicago. He’s perfect for the job.

Sandberg became a Cub hero in the 1980′s being the best second baseman of that decade and arguably one of the top five at that position ever.  Sandberg became the Wrigley fixture Cub fans latched onto as a transition in to the Harry Caray-less days after 1998.  Sandberg was one of the smartest players in the game, and few played the truly complete game he did. Not only that, but Sandberg is not some Hall-of-Fame guy who  thinks he should be able to blow into town and get the manager’s job on his name alone. Whether in his playing days or in his managerial career in the bus leagues, Sandberg has never been a guy to trade on marquee value, although he clearly could.

But instead of waltzing into the Cubs front office and saying “The fans that you need to keep want me in the dugout; I will be by before the Winter Meetings to pick the keys to my office,” Sandberg has spent the past four years managing in the Cubs’ farm system, including this season with the Triple-A Iowa Cubs. In fact, few managers in the minor leagues have built the reputation Sandberg has, and due to his humility, most of that has happened well beneath the radar. Sandberg has clearly “paid his dues” all while showing himself to be a cerebral skipper who can get his players to think before they act ( Carlos Zambrano, I’m looking at you…)

Will the bus from Cooperstown to Des Moines stop at Wrigley? Probably not, because hiring Sandberg would be the smart move.

In other words, he is the perfect man for the Cubs’ managerial job. How could the Cubs possibly entertain the idea of doing anything other than hiring the perfect candidate to end all perfect candidates? Because they are the Cubs, and they make Cubs-type decisions.

The only smart thing they have done so far is not pumping up false hopes for third-base coach turned interim manager Mike Quade. Even he knows that Sandberg is the guy for the job; by announcing Quade is not in the running for the job on a permanent basis at this point takes all the heat off of a guy who has to keep this team from imploding so completely no competent manager would take the job without a ridiculously high paycheck. But to be in Cubland is to be delusional; Google “Cubs manager job” and you will scroll past stories about Joe Girardi taking the job before you get to one mentioning Sandberg. If the Cubbies think Girardi would leave the best franchise in the sport which is currently fielding the best team in the game to play “FEMA disaster clean-up” for them, they’ve clearly lost their minds. In other words, get ready for another CTD (Cubs-Type Decision).

In case you need a refresher, let’s review a few of my favorite CTDs:

  • Trading Lou Brock to the Cardinals for Ernie Broglio (future Hall-of-Famer for washed-up pitcher)
  • Trading Rafael Palmeiro to Texas for Mitch Williams (3,000 hit/500 home run guy for a relief pitcher whose stay in Chicago wasn’t as long as some people who change planes at O’Hare Airport)
  • Drafting Josh Hamilton as a Rule 5 player, then promptly trading him to Cincinnati for a small amount of cash (3-time All-Star currently hitting .357/30 HR/93 RBI for a a few dollars when the Cubs are one of the richest teams in the league)
  • Trading Sergio Mitre and Ricky Nolasco for Juan Pierre (one serviceable starting pitcher and one on the verge of becoming an ace for a “legitimate leadoff hitter” for a guy who in his ONE season as a Cub got caught stealing 20 times in 78 attempts).
  • Letting Greg Maddox go to free agency (deciding a guy who would go on to win 355 games and 4 Cy Young awards wasn’t “the kind of pitcher who could help us long-term”)
  • Trading Dennis Eckersley for three minor-leaguers (Once in Oakland, Eckersley becomes the dominant closer of his era)
  • Trading Bill Madlock for Bobby Murcer (a solid defensive third-baseman who also would win four batting titles for a slugger outfielder whose career decline began immediately after this trade)
  • Trading Bruce Sutter for Leon Durham and Ken Reitz (another dominant closer for two “bags of magic beans”)
  • Trading Lee Smith for Calvin Schraldi and Al Nipper (another dominant closer for two “bags of magic beans”)
  • Trading Manny Trillo for Barry Foote and Ted Sizemore (a second baseman who still holds the record for most consecutive chances without an error for one of the great mustaches of all-time)

So, here’s the deal, Cubbies. If you re not going to hire Sandberg, at least let me suggest a “dark horse” candidate that you really should hire. His name is Ed Hession, and if you are smart enough to make this man your manager AND general manager, he can save you from becoming a slightly richer version of the Pirates.

Now, I understand if you don’t live in greater Lafayette, Indiana, you’ve likely never heard of Mr. Hession. In short, he is the appliance king of west-central Indiana, and his sense of business acumen is exactly what the Cubs need. In other words, “Ed’s Deal” could be a great deal for Wrigleyville.

At this point, I understand you may now be asking how can a guy who sells washers and dryers help a major league baseball franchise. The answer is rather simple. Whether you are selling Maytags or tickets, business is business; the basics are universal. Ed Hession is a guy who started his business is his own garage and grew it into what it is today. He did this by following the basics, which is something about which the Cubs franchise has clearly forgotten. To prove my point, I’m going to use a few quotes taken directly from his website and do a bit of  “compare and contrast” with the what the Cubs have done in the last ten twenty thirty forty hundred years.

A guy who sells washing machines is perfect for a franchise that needs a complete cultural cleaning.

If you’ve ever seen an “Ed’s Deal” commercial, you know that Ed believes there is nothing like “Brand New.” Think about what this really means. Everybody wants to buy “brand new,” and the guy who who takes the sting out of “brand new” prices is going to own the marker. Couple that with the fact that a brand new washer is going to work better than the one you got out of your grandmother’s basement and you see the concept.  Just like the 23-year-old quality outfielder is going to be a better investment over time than the “experienced” free-agent who was a star “back in the day,” Ed’s Deal would bring you a lot more Tyler Colvins and a lot less Alfonso Sorianos.

Another theme Ed hits harder than Dave Kingman (don’t  forget his 48 homers as a Cub in ’79) does  a hanging curveball is the phrase “You Control Your Payments.”  Do you think right now the Cubs would like to re-evaluate what they are paying for Alfonso Soriano and  Carlos Zambrano?

Ed Hession also believes in “Good People.” In Ed’s own words, he has “seen all the reasons why good people, through no fault of their own, have been deprived of life’s necessities.” There are Cubs’ fans who are good people, and a necessity of sport is the occasional win. Most sports fans would define occasional as an interval somewhat less the the current Cubs’ measure of 102 years.

Like any good businessman, Ed has a keen grasp of pricing. This is why buying an appliance from Mr. Hession means  you are always going to pay sale price. It only makes sense that if Ed can afford to pass on “sale price;” he knows how to buy at less than sale price. Let’s be honest, Cubs fans; after the Jim Hendry era, which one of you wouldn’t love to sign a free-agent for less than $90 million?

Another thing Ed would bring to Wrigleyville is the exact understanding of what Cubs fans would expect. Ed makes sure you know what you get for your dollar.

Ryne Sandberg may be a Hall-of-Famer, but does he have the endorsement of the original Maytag Repairman?

Finally, Ed isn’t going to destroy your budget on those “rent-to-own” players intended to boost your playoff run. You know the type; you just did that deal to the Braves for your dear departed Derrek Lee. Recent history is full of that kind of arrangement; Mark Texieira to the Angels, Cliff Lee to the Phillies, CC Sabathia to the Brewers; just look to the South Side to see what the White Sox have done with Manny Ramirez…Ed isn’t blowing the savings account on this kind of crap.

Please understand the message here, Cubs Nation. Failing to take Ed’s Deal means you will spend another century doing the baseball equivalent of beating your clothes on a rock down by the river.





The Dubsism 2010-2011 College Football Bowl Predictions

30 08 2010

Bowl Championship Series:

BCS Championship:

  • Monday, January 10th; Glendale, Arizona;  University of Phoenix Stadium
  • Traditional/Contractual Matchup: #1 vs. #2 – Alabama (SEC #1) vs. Ohio State (Big Ten #1)
  • Payout: $18,000,000

Fiesta Bowl:

  • Saturday, January 1st; Glendale, Arizona;  University of Phoenix Stadium
  • Traditional/Contractual Matchup: Big 12 Champion/BCS vs. BCS At-Large -  Texas (Big 12 #1) vs. Boise State (WAC #1)
  • Payout: $18,000,000

Rose Bowl:

  • Saturday, January 1st; Pasadena, California; Rose Bowl
  • Matchup: Big Ten Champion/BCS vs. Pac-10 Champion/BCS *Penn State (Big Ten #2) vs. Oregon (Pac-10 #1)
  • Payout : $18,000,000

* Penn State replaces the Big Ten Champion (Ohio State) which will be in BCS Championship

Orange Bowl:

  • Monday, January, 3rd; Miami, Florida; Dolphin Stadium
  • Traditional/Contractual Matchup: ACC Champion/BCS vs. BCS At-Large – Georgia Tech (ACC #1) vs. Connecticut (Big East #1)
  • Payout: $18,000,000

Sugar Bowl:

  • Tuesday, January 4th; New Orleans, Louisiana; Superdome
  • Traditional/Contractual Matchup: SEC Champion/BCS vs. BCS At-Large – *Florida (SEC #2) vs. Utah (MWC #1)
  • Payout: $18,000,000

* Florida replaces the SEC Champion (Alabama) which will be in BCS Championship

Other:

Capital One Bowl:

  • Saturday, January 1st; Orlando, Florida;  Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium
  • Traditional/Contractual Matchup: SEC #2 vs. Big Ten #2 -  *LSU (SEC #3) vs. *Iowa (Big Ten #3)
  • Payout: $4,250,000

*LSU and Iowa are in this game as both #1 and #2 from the Big Ten and the SEC will be in the BCS.

Cotton Bowl Classic:

  • Friday, January 7th; Dallas, Texas; Cowboys Stadium
  • Traditional/Contractual Matchup: Big 12 #2 vs. SEC #3 – Nebraska (Big 12 #2) vs. Mississippi (SEC #4)
  • Payout: $3,575,000

Insight Bowl:

  • Tuesday, December 28th; Tempe, Arizona; Sun Devil Stadium
  • Traditional/Contractual Matchup: Big 12 #4 vs. Big Ten #5 – Oklahoma State (Big 12 #4) vs. Wisconsin (Big Ten #6)
  • Payout: $3,325,000

Chick-Fil-A Bowl:

  • Thursday, December 31st; Atlanta, Georgia; Georgia Dome
  • Traditional/Contractual Matchup: ACC #2 vs. SEC #5  – Virginia Tech (ACC #2) vs. Georgia (SEC #6)
  • Payout: $3,250,000 ACC; $2,400,000 SEC

Outback Bowl:

  • Saturday, January 1st; Tampa, Florida; Raymond James Stadium
  • Traditional/Contractual Matchup: Big Ten #3 vs. SEC #4 – Michigan State (Big Ten #4) vs. Auburn (SEC #5)
  • Payout $3,100,000

Gator Bowl:

  • Saturday, January 1st; Jacksonville, Florida; Jacksonville Municipal Stadium
  • Traditional/Contractual Matchup: Big Ten #4 vs. SEC #6 – Purdue (Big Ten #5) vs. Tennessee (SEC #7)
  • Payout: $2,750,000

Alamo Bowl:

  • Wednesday, December 29th; San Antonio, Texas, Alamodome
  • Traditional/Contractual Matchup: Pac-10 #2 vs. Big 12 #3  – *Arizona (Pac-10 #3) vs. Oklahoma (Big 12 #3)
  • Payout: $2,225,000

*Arizona replaces USC due to USC’s bowl ineligibility

Holiday Bowl:

  • Thursday, December 30th, San Diego, California; Qualcomm Stadium
  • Matchup: Pac-10 #3 vs. Big 12 #5 - California (Pac-10 #4) vs. Missouri (Big 12 #5)
  • Payout: $2,200,000

Champs Sports Bowl:

  • Tuesday, December 28th, Orlando, Florida;  Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium
  • Traditional/Contractual Matchup: Big East #2 vs. ACC #3 – Pittsburgh (Big East #2) vs. Clemson (ACC #3)
  • Payout: $2,130,000

Pinstripe Bowl:

  • Thursday, December 30th; New York City, New York; Yankee Stadium
  • Matchup: Big East #3 vs. Big 12 #7 – West Virginia (Big East #3) vs. Texas Tech (Big 12 #7)
  • Payout: $2,000,000

Sun Bowl:

  • Friday, December 31st; El Paso, Texas; Sun Bowl
  • Traditional/Contractual Matchup: Pac-10 #4 vs. ACC #4 – UCLA (Pac-10 #5) vs. Miami, FL (ACC #4)
  • Payout:  $1,900,000

Liberty Bowl:

  • Friday, December 31st; Memphis, Tennessee; Memorial Stadium
  • Traditional/Contractual Matchup: C-USA #1 vs. SEC #8 – Houston (C-USA #1) vs. Arkansas (SEC #9)
  • Payout: $1,700,000

Music City Bowl:

  • Thursday, December 30th; Nashville, Tennessee; LP Field
  • Traditional/Contractual Matchup: ACC #6 vs. SEC #7 – North Carolina (ACC #6) vs. South Carolina (SEC #7)
  • Payout: $1,600,000

Dallas Football Classic:

  • Saturday, January 1st; Dallas, Texas, Cotton Bowl
  • Matchup: Big Ten #7 vs. Big-12 #8 – Northwestern (Big Ten #6) vs. Baylor (Big 12 #8)
  • Payout: #1,200,000

Independence Bowl:

  • Monday, December, 27th; Shreveport, Louisiana; Independence Stadium
  • Traditional/Contractual Matchup: MWC #3 vs. ACC #7 – BYU (MWC#3) vs. Boston College (ACC#7)
  • Payout: $1,100,000

EagleBank Bowl:

  • Wednesday, December 29th; Washington, D.C.; RFK Stadium
  • Traditional/Contractual Matchup: MAC #3 vs. ACC #8 -Kent State (MAC #3) vs. *Wyoming (MWC#7)
  • Payout: $1,000,000

*Wyoming is in this game as the other Traditional/Contractual participant (ACC #8) will not be bowl eligible

MAACO Las Vegas Bowl:

  • Wednesday, December 22nd; Las Vegas, Nevada; Sam Boyd Stadium
  • Traditional/Contractual Matchup: MWC #1 vs. Pac-10 #5 – *TCU (MWC #2) vs. Stanford #(Pac-10 #6)
  • Payout: $1,000,000

*TCU is in this game as MWC#1 (Utah) will be in the BCS.

Meineke Car Care Bowl:

  • Friday, December 31st; Charlotte, North Carolina; Bank of America Stadium
  • Matchup: ACC #5 vs. Big East #4 – Florida State (ACC #5) vs. Cincinnati (Big East #4)
  • Payout: $1,000,000

St. Petersburg Bowl:

  • Tuesday, December 21st; St. Petersburg, Florida; Tropicana Field
  • Traditional/Contractual Matchup: Big East #6 vs. C-USA #4 – Northern Illinois (MAC #4) vs. Central Florida (C-USA #4)
  • Payout: $1,000,000

Papa John’s Pizza Bowl:

  • Saturday, January 8th; Birmingham, Alabama; Legion Field
  • Traditional/Contractual Matchup: Big East #5 vs. SEC #9 – Marshall (C-USA #6) vs. Akron (MAC #5)
  • Payout: $900,000 SEC; $600,000 Big East

*Marshall and  Northern Illinois are in this game as the other Traditional/Contractual participant (Big East #5 and SEC#9) will not be bowl eligible.

Armed Forces Bowl:

  • Thursday, December 30th; Dallas, Texas; Gerald J. Ford Stadium
  • Traditional/Contractual Matchup: C-USA #3/Army vs. MWC #4  -  Southern Mississippi (C-USA #3) vs. Air Force (MWC #4)
  • Payout: $750,000

Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl:

  • Saturday, January 9th; San Francisco, California; AT&T Park
  • Traditional/Contractual Matchup: WAC #1 vs. Pac-10 #6 – *Fresno State (WAC #2)  vs. Oregon State (Pac-10 #7)
  • Payout: $750,000 WAC; $825,000 Pac-10

* Fresno State replaces the WAC Champion (Boise State) which will be in BCS

Little Caesars Pizza Bowl:

  • Sunday, December 26th; Detroit, Michigan; Ford Field
  • Traditional/Contractual Matchup: MAC #1 vs. Big Ten #9 – Temple (MAC #1) vs. Tulsa (C-USA #7)
  • Payout: $750,000

*Tulsa is in this game as the other Traditional/Contractual participant (Big Ten #8/9) will not be bowl eligible.

GMAC Bowl:

  • Thursday, January, 6th; Mobile, Alabama; Ladd Peebles Stadium
  • Traditional/Contractual Matchup: MAC #2 vs. Sun Belt #2 – Toledo (MAC #2) vs. Middle Tennessee State (Sun Belt #2)
  • Payout: $750,000

Hawaii Bowl:

  • Friday, December 24th; Honolulu, Hawaii; Aloha Stadium
  • Matchup: C-USA #2 vs. WAC #3 or Hawaii – East Carolina (C-USA #2) vs. Hawaii (WAC #3)
  • Payout: $750,000

Humanitarian Bowl:

  • Saturday, December, 18th; Boise, Idaho; Bronco Stadium
  • Traditional/Contractual Matchup: WAC #2 vs. MWC #4 – Idaho (WAC #6) vs. New Mexico (MWC #6)
  • Payout: $750,000

New Mexico Bowl:

  • Saturday, December 18th; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Universtiy Stadium
  • Traditional/Contractual Matchup: WAC #3/#4 vs. MWC #5 – New Mexico State (WAC #4) vs. San Diego State (MWC #5)
  • Payout: $750,000

Poinsettia Bowl:

  • Thursday, December 23rd; San Diego, California; Qualcomm Stadium
  • Traditional/Contractual Matchup: Navy vs. MWC #2/WAC #5  OR MWC #2 vs. WAC #5  – Navy vs. Nevada (WAC #5)
  • Payout: $750,000

Texas Bowl:

  • Wednesday, December 29th; Houston, Texas; Reliant Stadium
  • Traditional/Contractual Matchup: Big 12 #6 vs. Big Ten #7 – Texas A&M (Big 12 #6) vs. Minnesota (Big Ten #8)
  • Payout: $612,500

New Orleans Bowl:

  • Saturday, December 18th; New Orleans, Louisiana; Superdome
  • Traditional/Contractual Matchup: Sun Belt #1 vs. C-USA #5 – Troy (Sun Belt #1) vs. Memphis (C-USA #5)
  • Payout: $325,000




Guys We Miss: The Only Man Who Can Fix America

28 08 2010

Four words: Terry Tate, Office Linebacker. Let’s be honest, the person who is fucking up this country is the jerk-off who takes the last of the coffee without making more, the person who kills productivity by lingering over breaks, and the person who doesn’t put cover sheets on their TPS reports.

NTWJCWV84FEF {“retval”:1,”msg”:””,”data”:{“blog_id”:”1533200″}}





Stephen Strasburg Is Just The Latest In A Long Line

28 08 2010

How many times have we seen this movie? A young phenom pitcher bursts onto the scene, electrifies the league with his electric stuff, then a fuse blows. Enter Stephen Strasburg, whose sheer voltage somehow managed to make the Washington Nationals relevant if for even the briefest of moments.

Don’t get me wrong; the probability that he needs the “Tommy John” ligament replacement surgery in his pitching elbow likely isn’t the end for Strasburg as we live in an era of medical technology that can put the spark back in any arm. Even Jamie Moyer has a legitimate chance to pitch again after doctors fix his 47-year old elbow.  So, when you stop to consider what may be possible in a young, healthy specimen such as Strasburg, he will be back on a major league mound in 2012. And while the odds are in his favor, there is still a chance he joins a long list of bright lights that went dim far too soon.

Perhaps it is that man is not meant to throw baseballs at 100 miles per hour; throwing a baseball overhand is the most unnatural act in sports. This is why every pitcher lives with arm pain and spends great periods of their lives with their elbows immersed in ice. But the ones who do it better than the rest are such a joy to watch, which is why they risk the pain and injury. In other words, that which made Strasburg so great is exactly what put him at risk.

But this is certainly not a new story. In fact, Sports Illustrated put together a nice list of examples throughout history.

11) Smoky Joe Wood

Wood reached the majors at age 18 in 1908 and by 1911 he was one of the best pitchers in the AL, going 23-17 with a 2.02 ERA that season for the Boston Red Sox. He was even better in 1912, with 34 wins, a 1.91 ERA and 10 shutouts. But he pitched 619 2/3 innings in those seasons and though he was still good — he finished with a 2.03 career ERA — he only pitched 434 2/3 innings the rest of his career. Eventually, injuries forced him from the mound for good. He pitched in just three more games after 1915 and finished his career as a position player, batting .297 for the Indians in 1922.

10) Herb Score

Score burst onto the scene as a 21-year-old rookie with the Cleveland Indians in 1955, winning 16 games and leading the AL with 245 strikeouts. He won 20 the next year with 263 K’s, but his career was forever altered when he was struck in the face by a Gil McDougald line drive in May 1957. Arm injuries soon followed. He won just 19 games the rest of his career and never made more than 25 starts in a season and only once did he top 80 strikeouts before his career ended in 1962.

9) Karl Spooner

At 23, Spooner was called up to the Brooklyn Dodgers at the end of the 1954 season and pitched two games, both shutouts, in which he struck out 27 batters and walked just six. The next year he went a respectable 8-6 with a 3.65 ERA but hurt his arm and never pitched in the majors again, bouncing around the minors for three years before retiring at age 27.

8 ) Jim Bouton

Bouton had won 46 games, had a 3.03 career ERA, made an All-Star team and helped the Yankees win three pennants by age 25. By 31, he had won just 15 more games and his career was over, due to a series of arm injuries. He became most famous for his tell-all book Ball Four about life in a major league clubhouse. He briefly returned to the majors in 1978, pitching five games for the Braves and winning one before retiring for good.

7) Denny McLain

In 1968, won 31 games for the Tigers, becoming the last pitcher to win 30 in a single season, but it took him 336 innings to do so. He won the AL Cy Young award that year, and again the next, when he went 24-9 and pitched 325 innings, but his arm started hurting and he was never the same. He won just 17 more games and grabbed more headlines for his exploits off the field (including a three-month suspension in 1970) than for anything he did on it. Repeated arm injuries helped end his career in 1972 at age 28.

6) Gary Nolan

Nolan debuted for the Reds at 18 in 1967 and became a sensation, striking out 206 batters as a rookie and finishing 14-8 with a 2.58 ERA. He pitched well through 1972, winning 15 games, posting a 1.99 ERA and making his only All-Star team. But he got hurt the next year and pitched just two games in 1973 and none in ’74. Though he posted back-to-back 15-win campaigns in 1975 and ’76 to help the Reds win two World Series, he got hurt again and was forced to retire at age 29 in 1977.

5) Mark Fidrych

Fidrych was the biggest story in baseball during the 1976 regular season. The Tigers’ rookie drew as much attention for his antics on the mound, which included smoothing out the mound and talking to himself, as his league-best 2.34 ERA, 24 complete games and Rookie of the Year honors. But Fidrych’s arm was never the same after he pitched 250 1/3 innings that year. He pitched just 162 games the rest of his career, retiring in 1980 at age 26.

4) Don Gullet

Gullett was a fixture in the rotation for the Big Red Machine of the 1970s, posting double-digit wins five times by 1976, when he was 25 years old. He won 14 more for the Yankees in 1977 but pitched only eight games in 1978 due to arm trouble. He missed both the 1979 and1980 seasons with rotator cuff and shoulder injuries and never pitched in the majors again.

3) J.R. Richard

Richard was an unremarkable pitcher for the first five seasons he spent in the majors, but in 1976, at age 26, he exploded for 20 wins and 214 strikeouts for the Astros. He won 18 each of the next three years, posting 214, 303 and 313 K’s. Richard was an NL All-Star in 1980 but just a week after pitching in the All-Star Game he left the mound with what he thought was a dead arm. Two weeks later he suffered a major stroke and despite several comeback attempts never pitched in the majors again.

2) Steve Avery

The Hall of Fame trio of Tom Glavine, John Smoltz and Greg Maddux gets most of the credit for the Braves’ run of success in the 1990s, but the best pitcher on their early World Series teams was Steve Avery. At 21 in 1991, he won 18 games and was named NLCS MVP. He won 18 games again in 1993 and made the All-Star team but his arm began hurting shortly thereafter. He never again posted an ERA under 4.00, won as many as 10 games just once and retired after the 2003 season.

1) Mark Prior

The No. 2 overall pick in the 2001 draft, Prior showed great promise as a 21-year-old rookie for the Cubs in 2002, going 6-6 with a 3.32 ERA. He was terrific the next season, posting an 18-6 mark to go along with a 2.43 ERA and 245 strikeouts, making the NL All-Star team and finishing third in the Cy Young voting. But his innings had jumped by more than 100 (including postseason play) and his arm and shoulder started to break down. He made 21 starts in 2004, 27 in 2005 and just nine in 2006, pitching his last major league game that August at age 25.

There are all sorts of things that can go wrong besides an elbow, but as long as the problems are strictly mechanical, there is no reason to believe to Strasburg won’t be again dealing fire in 12 to 18 months. The list of pitchers who have successfully undergone this surgery only to return “good as new” is far too long to suggest otherwise. Granted, there is the aforementioned risk, but look at the odds. I googled “Tommy John Surgery” and was avalanched in hits; A.J. Burnett, Chris Carpenter, Ryan Dempster, Tim Hudson, Francisco Liriano, Billy Wagner, and the late Nick Adenhart just for openers. Even Strasburg’s announcement came on the same day Jordan Zimmermann, another young Nationals’ pitcher, made his return from the procedure. Just this past week, Cleveland’s top pitching prospect Hector Rondon (just 22 years old like Strasburg) had the surgery.

Fear not Nationals’ fans, the light known as Stephen Strasburg will shine again.





Why Is Anybody Surprised Johnny Damon Was Waived?

28 08 2010

I think the reasons for this may have been mentioned before.

Let’s play a game called “Baseball Frankenstein.” The object is to create the worst player  possible by taking some of the worst individual skills of major leaguers.  One might start with the foot speed of Bengie Molina. It would be hard to imagine worse fielding skills than those of Adam Dunn. When it comes to the bat, add the power of Luis Castillo, and Jack Cust’s batting average.

While one could argue over the aforementioned ingredients, there’s no doubt that this creature must have the throwing arm of Johnny Damon.  This is a throwing motion that is riduculed by 13-year old softball-playing girls. Damon routinely can’t hit the cut-off man on the fly, let alone gun a runner down at the plate. Sports Illustrated did a poll of 380 major-league players, and 54 percent said Damon possessed the “worst arm” of any outfielder. This explains why opposing third base coaches now risk shredding their rotator cuffs enthusiastically windmilling runners home from second on even sharply-hit singles to Damon.

It is because of this inability to throw that prompted the Yankess to move Damon from center to left field two years ago. Even so, his arm still proves to be a liability. So much so that teams are overlooking his offense as his defense may cost a team more than Damon can provide. Damon hit .282 last season with a career-high 24 home runs. But defense has become a hot commodity amongst general managers, so much so that out of the top 50 finishers in the Holy Grail of offensive stats, OPS, only two are currently available on the open market: Damon and defensive clank-meister Russell Branyan.

In this recently begun era of financial restraint and advanced defensive statistics, baseball’s general managers like to bolster their rosters with strong fielders (see the Red Sox’ signings of  Adrian Beltre and Mike Cameron and almost every non-pitching acquisition Jack Zduriencik has made in his 15 months as the Mariners’ general manager), not only because fielding represents a newly focused-upon way to win, but also because the salaries commanded by top defensive players have yet to catch up with those of sluggers or staff aces.

Now Damon is 36 years old, and even though the Yankees two years ago shifted him to left field from center, his arm has become a genuine liability. Damon has been a free agent for more than two months, and during that time he has discovered how the free-agent market treats formerly highly paid defensively flawed 36-year-olds.

The answer: Not kindly.

Occasionally, time just makes words more true.





Penn State ’10 – The Last Year for the Big Eleven

26 08 2010

That’s right, with the addition of Nebraska beginning in 2011, the Big Ten will have twelve members. Gone are the days of hiding the “ten that is actually 11″ thing Escher-like in the conference logo.

Gone are the days of my being able to refer to this league as the Big Eleven Ten (I will be sticking with Big Tweleveten beginning in 2011 unless they change the name.) And gone are the days of Penn State being the figurative new kid on the Big Ten block.

But when the focus is returned to this upcoming season, what isn’t gone are the days of Penn State having an early loss. In fact, the Blue and White may have doubled-down on that trend as the Nittany Lions face the first schedule ever that features three teams that won BCS bowl games, and two of them are scheduled in the first five games. Even better, there is some huge irony in the fact the Lions get to play the role of the Christians in the Roman era, as they get to face all three away from Happy Valley.

September 4 - Youngstown State

Let’s be honest. This is merely a tune-up, Youngstown won’t mount any real opposition; instead, they will be happy to take a Happy Vally seal-clubbing, and return to Ohio check in hand.

September 11  – @ Alabama

This easily could be the Ghosts of College Football’s past. Back in the days when Penn State was still independent, a Joe-Pa vs. Bear Bryant contest was a regular on the schedule. Not to mention the Nittany Lions routinely faced an SEC team in their usual bowl game.

What do Elvis and Bear Bryant have in common? Most Alabamians think they are both still alive.

Now it is Alabama who is coming off a National Championship and enters this season ranked at the top of the food chain. Penn State will face a daunting task to win in Tuscaloosa, but if they do, look for The Blue and White to rocket up the rankings.

September 18 - Kent State

The Golden Flashes should be just another little Ohio school coming to collect a pot of gold for being another Lions’ sacrificial lamb. Although they have a hope Youngstown State doesn’t; a letdown after the trip to Tuscaloosa.

September 25 - Temple

Once again, Temple will be the second MAC representative to face the Nittany Lion buzzsaw. They also will likely become the first one to lose to a Joe Paterno-led team 26 times. Once again, this will just continue to put the in-state rival from Philadelphia in sole possession of the distinction of suffering the most losses to a Paterno-led team.

October 2 – @ Iowa

Last year, I dubbed this game The Rolaids Bowl. This year, I have made it official; Iowa has replaced Michigan as one of two “red circles of seething hate” on my Penn State schedule (of course, the Ohio State Suckeyes being the other). How does this game get such a distinction? Because fucking Iowa always finds a fucking way to win this fucking game. The last time Penn State visited Iowa City, they left having to swallow that miracle field goal. Iowa also returns a very solid team from that which won a BCS game back in January.

One of the most under-appreciated movies ever.

Then there’s the “ugly numbers;” such as Iowa’s 7-1 record in their last 8 games against the Nittany Lions in this decade, Penn State’s 7-10 record in Big Eleven Ten openers, and are only 3-3 in conference openers at Happy Valley and you see why the PSU faithful may need to keep the antacids handy.

October 9 - Illinois

Linguists have discovered "Zook" is an old Illini word meaning "3-9."

Illinois represents the first conference foe toward which I am officially dismissive. The salad days of Juice Williams, Arrelious Benn, and Rashard Mendenhall are long gone, and odds are head coach Ron “I never met a Coke machine I couldn’t head-butt” Zook have will be gone soon as well. Zook is clearly on the list of guys who need to win to save their jobs. Going to Happy Valley after what is likely a Penn State loss on the road doesn’t bode well for Coach “Z”picking up a “W” here.

October 23 - @ Minnesota

This will be Penn State’s first visit to Goldy F. Gopher’s new home in TCF Stadium. Having lived in Minnesota last year, I can tell you personally this is a beautiful facility. It is even better if you don’t look at the team Minnesota puts on the field. This program defines mediocre; being just good enough to make a low-level bowl game, but never being able to get over that hump. The combination of the new stadium that brought heightened expectations from boosters coupled with the mediocrity which has spanned two different head coaches means Tim Brewster is beginning to reek of the same cologne of desperation in which Ron Zook and Michigan’s Rich Rodriguez are marinating.

October 30 – Michigan

See the entries for the previous two games. First of all, Mi-shit-gan is the second conference foe that can be summarily dismissed. The math is easy: the “spread offense” without any real talent equals Purdue at the end of the Joe Tiller era when the Boilers’ douchebag AD started screwing around with the team. Secondly, there is the aforementioned “cologne of desperation” oozing from Coach “Forehead” Rodriguez’ pores.

Could Coach Four-head be foretelling Michigan's win total?

Michigan supporters simply won’t support any further slippage of this program; its “bowl or bust” for Rodriguez, and like Zook, he isn’t likely to get a helpful outcome in State College.

November 6 – Northwestern

Honestly, Northwestern scares me when Penn State has to go to Evanston. The Blue and White have only ever lost three times to the Wildcats; two of those occurring in Illinois. While Northwestern has improved to the point where they are no longer everybody’s homecoming patsy, the Wildcats tend to become the declawed kitties in Happy Valley.

November 13 – @ Ohio State

This very easily could be the conference championship game.  I won’t go through the litany of “what if” scenarios; suffice it to say if Penn State and Ohio State enter this game with less than two losses each, the implications could be huge.

Last time he went to Columbus, Joe Paterno proved there is a formula for beating the Ohio State Penitentary University. The calculus remains the same this year; if you want to see a Penn State win, you want to see a plodding, ball-control type game with stiff defense on both sides, something akin to watching two sloths using a rock to break open a coconut. If that happens, the blue sloth will win by a field goal.

November 20 - @ Indiana (FedEx Field, Washington, D.C.)

Now for the streak that has taken on even more meaning in the last year. Since joining the Big Eleven Ten, Penn State is 13-0 vs. the Hoosiers. However, on this day, I happen to be getting married to an alum of Indiana’s biggest rival. And even though Purdue isn’t on Penn State’s schedule this year, if for some odd reason the Nittany Lions lose this game, I will have no choice but to get an immediate divorce as I will not be shackled to a jinx.

November 27  - Michigan State

Since some things never really change, I’m just going to quote myself from last year.

“Picture it…State College, in a closet somewhere deep in the recesses of Beaver Stadium sits the Land Grant Trophy. It has been there for years, draped in a towel with years worth of dust on it. It’s two days before this game, and nobody can remember where they left the damn thing…it won’t matter, because they won’t need it…The reason is simple: the Spartans are always out of gas when they get to this game…and this year will be no exception.”

The bottom line: expect The Nittany Lions to be in a bowl game; BCS in the best case, and no worse than New Year’s Day in any event.





Goodbye, Sweet Lou…

22 08 2010

Piniella with Portland of the Pacific Coast League, 1966

After announcing that his retirement originally scheduled for the end of this season was moving up to today, it is time to give Lou Piniella the send-off he richly deserves. 18 years as a player, 23 years as a manager, three World Series rings; his 1,835 wins as a manager rank him behind only Tony LaRussa, Bobby Cox, and Joe Torre (three lead-pipe cinch Hall-of-Famers) for active managers, and ranks him ahead of Hall-of-Famers Tommy Lasorda, Dick Williams, and Clark Griffith. As a player, Piniella was the American League Rookie of the Year for 1969, and while he wouldn’t make Cooperstown from his efforts on the field, he’d certainly make the Hall of Pretty Damn Good.

Piniella during the five at-bats he collected as a Cleveland Indian in 1968.

Piniella during his Rookie of the Year season.

With that, I would like to offer the Dubsism version of the Dean Martin Roast, the photo retrospective known as the File Dump.

Many people are unaware that in addition to his baseball prowess, Piniella excelled at basketball at the University of Tampa.

Throughout his managerial career, Piniella often liked to show off his passing ability.

Lou was known to be a tad bit excitable. During his time as a Yankee, he developed a warm loving relationship with Red Sox catcher Carlton Fisk. During a 1976 match, Piniella slid hard into Fisk, who bluntly expressed his displeasure, and the love fest began.

Naturally, once Piniella matured into a leadership role, he mellowed.

Actually, not even being in his sixties mellowed “Sweet” Lou.

Actually, it was his down time at the salon that he used to calm his temperament.

Salons not withstanding, Lou always has a sense of cool.

Of course, Piniella’s sense of style is one of the reasons why he remains as part of the Yankee family to this day.

But in all seriousness, Piniella’s World Series win at the helm of the underdog Cincinnati Reds rates as one of the all-time managerial achievements of all time.

Mr. Piniella, you were a pleasure to watch both on the field and in the dugout and baseball fans everywhere owe you a sincere tip of the cap and a wish that your retirement offers you as much enjoyment as your career gave us.





Vin Scully Returning For a 62nd Season

22 08 2010

If you are a fan of baseball, you have no choice but to be happy that Dodger broadcasting legend Vin Scully is not retiring at the end of the 2010 season.

LOS ANGELES (AP)– Vin Scully said Sunday he’ll return to the broadcast booth to call Los Angeles Dodgers games next year for his 62nd season because “when push came to shove, I just did not want to leave.”

The 82-year-old Hall of Famer, whose nearly 61 years of service make him the longest tenured broadcaster in sports history, said he made the decision with the blessing of his wife, Sandy, and his five children.

Scully will continue calling all Dodgers home games and road games against NL West and AL West opponents. He calls all nine innings of the team’s television broadcasts, while the first three innings of his games are simulcast on the radio.

He works alone on the air and long ago reduced his travel schedule to avoid calling games east of the Rockies.

The only thing about Dodger Stadium that doesn't suck.

All I can say is I’m glad I have yet another season to play the Vin Scully Drinking Game.





Here Comes The Rumor Mill…

22 08 2010

Kids, learn a lesson here…you just can’t go around punching people in the face. If you are a public figure like a football player, people will dig up every little thing you’ve ever done. I’m not going to blame The Oregonian’s John Canzaro for doing his job; that’s what reporters do. Instead, you can take in the following and decide for yourself…

Two football seasons ago. Closed practice. Autzen Stadium. Running back LeGarrette Blount was carrying the football on a play that swung wide when he was met by two University of Oregon defenders.

Defensive back Jairus Byrd and linebacker Jerome Boyd grabbed Blount and shoved him toward the sideline. A scuffle broke out, facemasks were grabbed, bodies tangled and then Ducks head coach Mike Bellotti hurried toward the mess, trying to break up the players.

Blount threw a punch.

It missed Byrd and Boyd, but caught the side of Bellotti’s face — square.

Two Ducks teammates and a former assistant coach told me about that punch on Thursday.

That practice punch was dismissed as an accident. A simple expression of sport emotion by a player who wants very much to be the best he can. Football is a physical game, we’re told. Bellotti never publicly talked about it and did not return a call Thursday on the matter. Ducks teammates, aghast on the field as it happened, laughed about Bellotti’s shocked reaction with one another in the locker room after practice.

Blount, Byrd and Boyd were kicked off the field, but were not disciplined. And I suppose that punch — unlike the infamous one he threw at Boise State on national television last season – might have been mostly forgotten if it weren’t for the punch Blount threw at an NFL practice on Wednesday.

Consider that Blount is trying to rehabilitate his image. Consider that he went undrafted, despite being blessed with God-given football talent. Consider that he must know, down deep, that he’s being watched. Even – no, especially – when he’s tempted to lose his composure. And yet here Blount was, clenching a fist after having his helmet pulled off on consecutive plays, and throwing a straight right hand as he bounced on his feet like a tired boxer.

Video of a Tennessee Titans practice scuffle from Wednesday shows several players shoving one another, and Blount, helmet off, walking back to the huddle. He bumps defensive end Erik Bakhtiari. They shove each other. Then, Blount throws a punch to the facemask of Bakhtiari, who demonstrates restraint by not throwing one back.

So, what say you?








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