Editor’s Note: Mr. Rockford is a private detective based in Malibu, California. We here at Dubsism have retained Mr. Rockford at his standard rate of two hundred dollars a day plus expenses to investigate matters of crime and other general shadiness in the world of sports, then report back to us when needed. If you would like to contact Mr. Rockford, at the tone, leave your name and number and he’ll get back to you.
Divorces in sports don’t necessarily have to be the actual and messy kind, like the matrimonial train wreck to which Frank and Jamie McCourt treated us. There have been plenty of on-the-field relationships that exploded in various states of severity, ranging from the “we can still be friends” style break-up like the one Peyton Manning and the Colts had. Or, it can be the “domestic violence waiting to happen” split as in the case of Terry Francona and the Boston Red Sox.
As a private investigator, I try to avoid domestic cases. But, to be honest, I’ve had to re-finance my trailer five times in the last ten years, and let me tell you those “balloon payments” can put a major skid on the wallet. That means whether I like it or not, I’ve peeked through more keyholes than I care to admit. That’s why J-Dub asked for my thoughts on ten notable sports divorces.
10) Joe Montana and the San Francisco 49ers
If you thought the Indianapolis Colts wouldn’t run Peyton Manning out of town, you forgot about the 1993 divorce between the San Francisco 49ers and Joe Montana.
Yep, Joe Montana, the four-time Super Bowl champion, back-to-back NFL MVP in 1989-90, and arguably the most beloved athlete in the history of San Francisco got handed a suitcase by the 49ers.
It all started after a “should-have-killed-him” hit by the New York Giants’ Leonard Marshall in the 1990 NFC title game. The 49ers were on their way to an unprecedented third straight Super Bowl, but Marshall’s jarring blow blew out Montana’s elbow, which not only ended his stint in this game; it would be almost two full seasons before Montana would see the field again.
The trouble is by then the 49ers had become enamored with Montana’s replacement, Steve Young. Not only that, but Young had entrenched himself as the starting quarterback and was the reigning NFL MVP when Montana was ready to return for the 1993 season. 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo and coach George Seifert gave Montana the “run-around” as to whether he’d get a shot to compete for the starting job, so he demanded a trade.
At 37, Montana landed in Kansas City, where he had two good seasons; he took the historically insignificant Chiefs to the AFC Championship game in 1993. Young finally escaped Montana’s shadow by leading the 49ers to a Super Bowl win the next season. The story did have a “happy” ending as through a one-day contract, Montana had the opportunity to retire as a member of the 49ers.
9) Bobby Hull and the Chicago Blackhawks
In the annals of NHL history, Bobby Hull will be best remembered as the first player to light the lamp 50 times in a season and the first guy to hold a gun to the head of ownership for a big payday. Hull went for the big dough twice; first for $100,000, then later for $1 million.
The “Golden Jet” was the Gretzky of the 1960’s; he led the NHL in goals seven times that decade and took the the Chicago Blackhawks to the 1961 Stanley Cup. In 1962, Hull matched previous standard for hitting the twine with the 50 goal tally of Maurice “Rocket” Richard and Bernie “Boom Boom” Geoffrion in 1962, then Hull used his legendary slap shot to become the sole standard bearer with 54 goals in 1966.
With that level of success, it should come as no shock to current-day sports fans that Hull decided he wanted more money. He demanded $100,000 a year in 1968, and threatened to quit if he didn’t get it. in 1968. That tactic worked, and it encouraged Hull to do it again in 1972, only this time the price escalated. Hull used the fledgling World Hockey Association (WHA) as leverage, but this time he wanted $1 million, which was a ridiculous amount at the time.
However, the Winnipeg Jets jumped at the chance to land a superstar; they were more than happy to pony up $1 million per year in a 10-year deal. Hull had four more 50-goal seasons in Winnipeg, including what was a then-professional record of 77 goals in 1975.
In one fell swoop, Hull made a huge payday, solidified the WHA to the point it would eventually merge with the NHL, and became a major reason the Blackhawks would need 50 years to win another Stanley Cup.
8 ) Manny Ramirez and the Boston Red Sox
The Red Sox are notorious for bad marriages; they could be the Elizabeth Taylor of sports. It’s always amazed me how they ran Terry Francona out of town after he led that franchise to two World Series championships in four seasons after the Red Sox had gone 86 seasons as a bridesmaid and never a bride. But the list of bad Boston marriages could be it’s own blog.
Let’s focus on Manny Ramirez also fits that bill, but a good case of “Manny Being Manny” helps to explain why what should have been a New England honeymoon turned into a Boston bitch-fest. Manny took a swing at local hero Kevin Youkilis. Manny shoved 64-year-old traveling secretary Jack McCormick to the ground. Manny even pulled himself out of multiple games citing a knee injury that many thought was an act of protest because he was upset with his contract.
The Red Sox finally had a belly full of Manny and dealt him to the Dodgers in July 2009. Ramirez showed exactly why the Red Sox had put up with him for so long. Manny had such an impact with the Dodgers that despite the fact he only played in 53 National League games, he finished fourth in the NL MVP voting. However, it was the next season when Manny’s reputation began it’s major slide when he got popped for the first of his suspensions for violating baseball’s drug policy.
7) Shaquille O’Neal and the Los Angeles Lakers
It wasn’t just Shaq and Kobe who were battling over who was the leader of the team; the Lakers’ management was Pacific-deep in the same issue. Owner Jerry Buss and GM Mitch Kupchak were dealing with two show ponies and felt they had to pick the one they were going to ride following the loss to the Detroit Pistons in the 2004 NBA Finals.
In Shaq’s book, “Shaq Uncut: My Story,” he claims Kupchak promised him a contract extension during the 2003-04 season but then made comments that O’Neal’s future with the Lakers was up in the air. During an exhibition game, Shaq yelled to Buss, “pay me.”
Shaq never had a good relationship with Kupchak, and matters only got worse when he replaced Jerry West as the Lakers’ general manager after the 2000 season. According to Shaq, “Mitch looked out for two people: himself and Jerry Buss. The rest of us were afterthoughts.” O’Neal was traded to the Heat during the offseason and oddly enough, the next day Bryant signed a huge contract extension with the Lakers.
As an “afterthought,” Shaq won an NBA Championship the very next season with the Miami Heat. But Kobe and the Lakers would outdo that by winning back-to-back titles in 2009-10 after acquiring Pau Gasol.
6) Eric Lindros and the Philadelphia Flyers
Just like Mary’s little lamb, everywhere that Lindros went, controversy was sure to follow. After he flatly refused to play for the Quebec Nordiques, his rights were traded to the Flyers. Philadelphia gave away the moon and the stars, and possibly a few planets for the number one overall pick; the spoils of that trade and a relocation to Colorado morphed the quasi-lousy Nordiques into the championship Avalanche.
Lindros went on to become an All-Star in six out of eight seasons with the Flyers, yet by the time he left town, the City of Brotherly love had none for him. The end of the affair began on April 1, 1999 when Lindros was misdiagnosed by Flyers’ medical staff with a rib injury. Later, Lindros’ teammate Keith Jones found him pale and cold in a hotel bath tub during a roadtrip. The Flyers told the trainer to put him on a flight back to Philadelphia, but Jones insisted Lindros go to a local hospital. He was diagnosed with a collapsed lung and internal bleeding. Lindros’ father, who was also his agent, ripped the organization for its treatment of the injury and the two sides would never again be on good terms. get back on good terms.
Matters only got worse when Lindros suffered a series of concussions; Lindros heaped criticism on the Flyers after they performed yet another misdiagnosis regarding the bell-ringing he got in March 2000. After that incident, Flyers general and legendary asshole Bobby Clarke stripped Lindros of his captaincy and demanded he apologize to his teammates. The concussion Clarke insinuated was no big deal kept Lindros off the ice for the rest of the regular season. Lindros did skate again in the playoffs, but another head-shot ended his season, after which he was summarily shipped of to the New York Rangers.
Lindros did have a few more moderately successful season in New York, but he always maintained the Flyers’ medical staff helped to shorten his career.
5) Marcus Allen and the Los Angeles Raiders
Would everybody who had a feud with Raiders’ owner Al Davis please stand up? (Insert sound of floor creaking from everybody standing simultaneously). Marcus Allen is in no way the first or last person to have a feud with Al Davis, but his was among the ugliest. For the first few years , the marriage of Allen and the Raiders was of the story-book variety. Allen was a Los Angeles from having been a Heisman Trophy winner at USC, and now he was tearing up the field of the L.A. Coliseum for the relocated L.A. Raiders. Allen was Rookie of the Year and an NFL All-Pro in his first season. If that weren’t enough, Allen trucked the Raiders to an NFL Championship in Super Bowl XVIII, picking the Super Bowl MVP honors via his 191 rushing yards.
Then, the honeymoon cruise hit the iceberg, and the marriage morphed into an ugly, California-style divorce. Allen got into a contract dispute with the Raiders during which Davis called him a “cancer to the team.” Suddenly Allen, arguably the premier running back in the league at the time, found himself on ass-duty on the Raider bench, due to Davis benching him and using the arrival of two-sport phenom Bo Jackson as an excuse. Five years of this went by before Allen finally struck back in 1992 during a Monday Night Football halftime interview. Allen said Davis was out to get him and that he thought Davis was trying to ruin Allen’s chances of making the Hall of Fame.
The next year Allen finally got out of Los Angeles by joining the one of the Raiders main rivals, the Kansas City Chiefs. In Kansas City, Allen earned NFL Comeback Player of the Year honors while helping Kansas City reach the conference championship game.
In 2003 when Marcus Allen was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Allen buried the hatchet by thanking Davis in his induction speech.
4) Patrick Roy and the Montreal Canadiens
Roy’s downfall in Montreal was almost Paterno-esque in both it’s quickness and shock value. Roy was a two-time Stanley Cup champion, Conn Smythe winner, a three-time Vezina Trophy winner and a native son of Quebec. This meant Roy was beloved for most of his time in Montreal; the fans loved his brash and combative spirit and for 10 years he was a hero on skates for Les Habitants.
That was until December 2nd, 1995. On that night against the Detroit Red Wings, Roy got smoked like a convenience store cigar; he gave up 9 goals on 26 shots. When th score plummeted to 7-1, the crowd sarcastically cheered after Roy gloved a routine save. Roy responded by mockingly lifting his arms in celebration. After the socre hit 9-1, Canadiens’ coach Mario Tremblay finally gave Roy the hook, after which Roy stormed directly up to the face of president Ronald Corey and essentially demanded a trade Denis Lemieux-style. Naturally, this led to a shouting match in the locker room, and the next day Roy was suspended and the Canadiens announced they would trade him. One night, and the marriage was o-v-e-r.
Four days later, Roy was on a plane to the Mile High City, thanks to a one-sided trade with the Colorado Avalanche. In Denver, Roy would go on to lead the Avalanche to a Stanley Cup and Tremblay would only last one more year in Montreal. In 2001, Roy and the Avalanche won a second Stanley Cup as Roy took home his third Conn Smythe trophy. Before Roy left, the Canadiens were the greatest franchise in hockey. Since then, then have won a total of six playoff series. Some fans call this “The Curse of St. Patrick.”
3) LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers
Here’s another case of hometown hero turned prodigal son who just ain’t coming back. LeBron and the Cavaliers had a warm, loving relationship right up until the end. There was no posturing and no public squabbles between the two sides in LeBron’s last year in Cleveland. The Cavs loved LeBron and seemingly did whatever they could to appease him, and he rewarded them with two MVP seasons and the NBA’s best regular season record in both 2009 and 2010.
LeBron clearly had his eyes on another suitor, and really nobody can blame him for wanting to leave. After all, Cleveland did nothing to live up to their end of the marriage which was based on winning a championship. LeBron lived up to his end of the deal, the Cavaliers did not. All you have to do is look at the supporting cast the Cavaliers put around James. If LeBron had simply left the marriage, nobody would have faulted him.
It was how he did it that killed him. If one were to imagine hosting a birthday party for a cancer-stricken wife, laden with friends and family, knowing full well this may very well be her last one as evidenced by the little pink turban where her hair used to be, and one used that opportunity to a) announce one is leaving, and b) introduce Tiffany, the 22-year old surgically built fuck-toy for which one is leaving, and c) stating Tiffany “sucks it” way better than the wife ever did and one can begin to understand why every Cavalier fan everywhere will hate LeBron James until the day he dies.
2) Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers
Farve dicked over three teams, but for purposes opf brevity, we will stick the the first one, if for no other reason, he was a legend in Green Bay. On the frozen tundra of Lambeau field (fuck you, Chris Berman), Favre was a three-time NFL MVP who set nearly all meaningful passing records while never missing a start. He took the Packers to back-to-back Super Bowls and brought the Lombardi Trophy back to Green Bay since the man for who it was named patrolled the Packer sideline.
For that, given enough time, he will again be venerated in Titletown…once everybody who remembers his douche-tastic departure is in the home drooling on the armrests of their wheelchairs.
For years, Favre left the Packers hanging either by threatening to or actually announcing his retirement, only to come keep coming back. But after Green Bay’s loss to the Giants in the 2007 NFC title game, largely thanks to another late-game Favre interception, the Packers management had had enough and told Favre in no uncertain terms to either shit or get off the pot. Green Bay was ready to had the future to Aaron Rodgers, who had been patiently playing understudy to Favre for three seasons.
In what should have surprised no one who hadn’t been living under a rock at the bottom of the deepest crater on the dark side of the moon, Farve dished more waffles than an IHOP. He retired, but once again changed his mind, which led to an acrimonious and public spat with Packers’ general manager Ted Thompson, who both told Favre he couldn’t have the starting job back and at the same time refused to grant Favre his unconditional release, thus dooming Favre to the bench. Green Bay even went so far as to file tampering charges against division rival Minnesota fro talking to Favre about coming to Minnesota.
Favre forced matters when he reported to training camp for the 2008 season, knowing he was persona non grata in Green Bay. After an awkward standoff, the Packers traded him to the New York Jets. It didn’t help matters that Favre finished his career in Minnesota.
1) Jackie Robinson and the Los Angeles Dodgers
It what may be my original reason to hate the Dodgers, no organization treated a hero worse than the Dodgers treated Jackie Robinson. Not only was he unceremoniously traded after the 1956 season to the Dodgers’ arch-rival, the Giants, he was traded for essentially nothing after what he had done for baseball (the Dodgers got Dick Littlefield (a career 33-54 pitcher with a 4.71 ERA) and $35,000 for Hall-of-Famer and icon of the game.
The end of the relationship between Robinson and the Dodgers began ironically as an off-shoot of the dissolution of the relationship between Branch Rickey and the Dodgers. Remember, it was Branch Rickey who promoted Robinson from the Triple-A Montreal Royals in 1947 to break baseball’s color barrier. Unfortunately, Rickey lost a power struggle with Walter O’Malley for the ownership of the Dodgers, which led to Rickey leaving to accept the general manger position with the Pittsburgh Pirates. O’Malley wasn’t terribly interested in Robinson’s achievements, and to be fair, had noticed that Robinson’s skills were on the wane due to age and his worsening diabetes. However, O’Malley would later be loyal to many iconic Dodgers (see Roy Campanella), but for some reason Robinson was not accorded the same favor. Hence, Robinson was dumped.
In another indicator that the relationship ended badly, despite the fact Robinson had already decided to retire in favor of accepting an executive position the restaurant/coffee house chain Chock Full o’Nuts (good luck remembering that place if you are under 60), he took the trade so personally that he quietly cleaned out his locker at Ebbets Field and never set foot in it again before it was torn down, despite several events held there to honor the Brooklyn Dodgers.
Another give-away indicating the Dodgers and Robinson had mutually shunned each other was the fact his official retirement announcement was conducted through LOOK magazine instead of by the franchise for which he played his entire career. The Dodgers never offered Robinson any role within the organization, and despite his iconic role, they let pitcher Ray Lamb wear his number 42 before they finally retired it merely months before his death in 1972.
Major League Baseball retired Robinson’s number across baseball in1997. Players who wore that number before are grandfathered to the right to wear it. If Mariano Rivera ever pitches again, he should be the last player to wear it. In comparison, short of MLB’s Jackie Robinson Day where everybody wears number 42, it took the Dodgers 16 years to retire Jackie Robinson’s number.
Honestly, this is hard to type…there are tears rolling down my cheeks from laughter. Somebody just used the phrase “culture of winning” in the same sentence with the Oakland A’s. I know, right?
Rico, otherwise known as the the guy at Athletics Nation…well, I’m sure he means well, and to be honest, I feel what he’s saying. For reasons I will divulge another time, I have split loyalties in baseball; I’ve been a fan of the Twins and Angels since my earliest days of sports fandom. That’s is relevant here for the fact that I know what loving a losing team is like. But I would hope my cheese never slipped this far off my cracker.
There are at least 3 people who I gather believe in the value of creating a “culture of winning,” and they are me, Billy Beane, and Bob Melvin. However, just because these three highly qualified and esteemed baseball people — ok fine, these two highly qualified and esteemed baseball people and some guy on the internet — believe in a principle does not make it a principle worth valuing.
There is an oft-argued question of whether a team like the A’s would be better off crashing and burning to 95-100 losses in order to grab a truly high draft pick, and perhaps the next Evan Longoria, or whether it’s better to remain as competitive as possible during the rebuilding process.
Wow…I barely know where to start with this. Let’s take the Brad Pitt-fueled legend of Billy Beane. I know the A’s went to the playoffs in four straight years from 2003 to 2006, but their pinnacle of achievement was losing to the Tigers in the 2006 American League Championship Series. Since then, the A’s have not made the playoffs again, in fact they’ve never finished above .500 since then. That doesn’t look to change this season.
Then there’s Bob Melvin. This guy defines “Jekyll or Hyde” as a manager. Here’s a guy who won 93 games with Seattle, and lost 95 with the same team the next season. Then he won 90 games with the Diamondbacks, and got fired less than two seasons later. He’s got a .481 winning percentage as a manager. The Mets hired Terry Collins as manager over Bob Melvin. Let that sink in for a moment…Terry Fucking Collins.
Culture of winning, huh? BWAHHHHHAHHAAAAH (deep, lung-reloading gasp) BWAHHHHHAHHAAAAH!!!! I’m sorry, but any place that has even a hope of building a culture of winning doesn’t have “oft-argued positions” about “crashing and burning” for draft picks. Herm Edwards covered this the best: “HELLO??? YOU PLAY TO WIN THE GAME!!!”
One thing you have to like, right off the top, about a signing like Yoenis Cespedes is that the A’s have improved now without sacrificing the future in order to do so. This is in sharp contrast to the Matt Holliday trade, where the A’s either miscalculated how wide open the AL West would be in 2009, miscalculated how solid a player Carlos Gonzalez would develop to be, or quite possibly both.
That “get better now” deal set back the rebuild because it sacrificed a young player with potential; the only “downside” to the Cespedes signing is money, but in a way what the A’s did is to grab a #1 draft pick without having to lose 90+ games in order to do so. So now if they were to win 75-80 games and get a lower draft pick, they would essentially be getting that lower pick plus a really high pick on top of that: Cespedes.
Not bad, but what’s the point of winning 75-80 games when that won’t compete for anything while you’re waiting for your most talented young guys (Michael Choice, AJ Cole, Derek Norris, Sonny Gray) to move up through your minor league system, and for your most talented “major league ready” guys (Jarrod Parker, Brad Peacock, Tom Milone, Josh Reddick) to get their feet wet in the big leagues?
As far as Cespedes is concerned, the guy may very well be the real deal. But if you are a team crying about money (I think we all saw “Moneyball,” right?), it seems to me $36 million is an awfully big bet on a guy whose never seen a major-league pitch. If it works, Beane regains some of his “genius” status> Bu if not, this goes down as yet another Beane miscalculation.
“Miscalculation” is a key word here, as Rico uses it in his description of the Matt Holliday trade. Either of the “miscalculations” he mentions are perfectly valid. But so is the one he doesn’t mention; that Beane miscalculated when he acquired Holliday from the Colorado Rockies; switching leagues to a group of pitchers he’d never really seen and trading a very hitter-friendly Coors Field for that mausoleum for offense in Oakland.
Then there’s that pesky question of “what’s the point of winning 75-80- games?” Cue Coach Edwards again…”HELLO??? YOU PLAY TO WIN THE GAME!!!”
Hold on, Rico will take us deeper into his thinking.
One point, arguably, is that if you’re an 80-win team you are only 10 wins away from being a 90-win team, so much of the foundation is there and you can more easily identify targets for bridging the gap to add those “just 10 more wins”. Few 65-win teams can make the jump to add 25 wins and call themselves contenders — Tampa Bay recently being one very notable, but rare, exception — and so you may be drafting very high but you’re also needing an awful lot of chips to fall into place in order to climb the mountain from 65 wins all the way to 90. And we all know, all too well, how frequently something goes awry in the world of “talented but unproven young prospects”.
Another point is that winning may require sufficiently talented players, but it is also a mindset within a team and within an organization. Students, employees, athletes — basically, people — have a natural tendency to rise or fall to the level of expectation, and one thing I really respect about Beane and Melvin is that I see them as being highly competitive, with the expectation that “if we’re not winning a lot, then we’re winning as much as we can and we’re building towards winning more.”
I believe that for whatever reason, Bob Geren brought a “mediocre is good enough” ethos to the team that was reflected in the team’s practice habits, and subsequently its on field play. The A’s didn’t have the talent to win a whole lot after Melvin took over the 2010 team and perhaps more importantly the bad habits, and “culture of mediocrity,” had been too entrenched in spring training, and then the first half of the season, for Melvin to reverse it significantly in June-September.
To be honest, this is the part where I said to myself “Holy shit! Maybe I miscalculated what this guy is really talking about!” I understand completely what he means about Bob Geren; if that guy managed my team, I’d probably wake up every morning wanting to drink a gallon of gasoline, then fire a flare gun up my own ass. This honestly was the part where I really felt Rico’s pain; watching the Twins in the mid-90’s was as exasperating an experience as one can get watching baseball. Going from the era of two World Series championships in four years to 95 losses; going from Puckett, Hrbek, and Gaetti to Scott Stahoviak, Rich Becker, and Pedro Munoz was as painful as I care baseball to be. Perhaps Rico has a point; maybe Beane and Melvin are the guys to right the A’s ship.
Then I read his closing.
However, even though the A’s most competitive years still loom in the distance, I see the Cespedes signing, even the interest in Manny Ramirez (whether you like that particular gamble or not), as efforts to keep sending an important message to the young players as they begin their A’s major or minor league careers: We aren’t going to sacrifice the future, like we did with the Holliday trade, but while preserving the future to be as great as possible we are going to be as good — heck if need be, as “not bad” — as we possibly can be, every day, every game, every season, until we’re ready to go “all in” and reclaim the AL West.
I like the message this sends to the players who will have to win down the line, and I think it’s the right mentality for an organization to have.
I’ve already said I see the Cespedes signing as a gamble, but it was the Manny Ramirez comment that tipped me as to what Rico is really up to. This isn’t about the pain of loving a lousy team, this is barely about baseball. This is an early “April Fool’s” joke; a gigantic dick-pull in green and yellow and I fell for it. Face it, anybody who can say with a straight face that signing Manny Ramirez “sends a positive message” is a master of satire. Forget the steroids and the 50-game suspension hanging over his head. Forget the drama and the clubhouse cancer he brings. Look at the fact that at this point in his career he is largely a non-factor and the Rays got better last year once they quit wasting at-bats on him.
Rico, I tip my cap to you. You are a master of satire. I’ve never been so taken in by a gag in my entire life. My sides will hurt for weeks from the convulsive laughter I went through.
I mean, you are kidding me, right?
-Dubsism is a proud member of Sports Blog Movement
Whether it’s stocks, fantasy baseball, or the real thing, trading can be a dangerous proposition. There’s no guarantee that the deal will work; only time will tell whether your investment pays off or whether you get to sell you blood to make the rent this month.
But, one thing that is certain; where there’s trading there’s bleeding, and nothing draws the sharks like blood in the water. Since we here at Dubsism are at the same time not willing to wait for two years to see who the bleeders are and stuck in the middle of the Discovery Channel’s “Shark Week,” we’ve decided to give the rating of winners and losers a bit of a Swim With The Sharks twist.
Great White Shark: The Texas Rangers
Clearly, The Texas Rangers are going to need a bigger boat. Rangers’ General manager Jon Daniels played the role of Chief Brody to a tee. Not only did Daniels figure out he’s got a team ready to reel in winning now, he set sail to bag the fish he needed to make this team complete. The Rangers have been playing fur seal to the Angels’ Great White for nearly a decade now, but the additions of of ace Cliff Lee, catcher Bengie Molina, infielder Cristian Guzman, and slugger Jorge Cantu make a frankly scary roster when mixed with the likes of Josh Hamilton, Michael Young, Elvis Andrus and ironically enough Vladimir Guerrero, who was acquired in the off-season from the Angels.
Not only does this make the Ranges likely to seal up the American League West sometime in August, barring an unforeseen collapse, the Rangers become an honest-to-goodness World Series contender. If that weren’t good enough, the Rangers, who are awash in bankruptcy even managed to get the Nationals and the Marlins to toss in cash in their respective deals. Could this finally be the year where a good-looking Ranger team doesn’t get grilled into oblivion in the broiling Texas summer?
Tiger Shark: San Diego Padres
The Padres have spent eons being the bottom feeder of the NL West, so much so they gained a reputation for eating anything that would come their way; they were so desperate a few years ago they were the only team that showed interest in a clearly-finished Mark Prior. However, even a creature that eats everything occasionally gets a gourmet meal. Gaining the services of both infielder Miguel Tejada and outfielder Ryan Ludwick while not giving away anything useful cement the Padres as a legitimate force come October.
Ludwick’s big bat finally provides some protection for Adrian Gonzalez, while his glove complements a stellar pitching staff. As long as they manage Tejada correctly, meaning they play him at shortstop as long as David Eckstein is on the disabled list. Once Eckstein returns, it will be necessary to platoon him with Jerry Hairston Jr. at shortstop. Otherwise, the Padres run the risk of seeing Tejada’s age and lack of range cost them in the long run.
Bull Shark: New York Yankees
Bull sharks are notorious for conducting the most attacks on humans; the Yankees commit the most atrocities against humanity. The Bronx Bombers were likely the best team in baseball before the trade deadline, however, that didn’t stop them from adding Lance Berkman to shore up the DH slot, Austin Kearns to make them even better against left-handed pitching, and (if he stays healthy) Kerry Wood to add the consistency to the setup role Joba Chamberlain seems completely incapable of doing.
Hammerhead Shark: Philadelphia Phillies
Just looking at a hammerhead, one gets the idea they are completely bereft of the ability to see either forward or backward. With some foresight, they might have seen the combination of Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay could’ve dominated National League lineups. Instead, they must give up a good bullpen guy to get Roy Oswalt.
With some hindsight, they might have seen that Greg Dobbs alone isn’t a good enough insurance policy against injury. In the absence of Ryan Howard, imagine how that line-up would look now had they dealt Jayson Werth for the obligatory bag of magic beans. In other words, they easily could be the bottom-feeder that didn’t find the good meal.
Nurse Shark: Los Angeles Dodgers
Much like a nurse shark is a large fearsome looking creature that actually has the aggression level of Mickey Mouse on valium, the Dodgers looked like a contender until the calendar read August. Honestly (and I can’t believe I’m saying this), it really isn’t general manager Ned Colletti’s fault for once. Coletti is suffering the Malachi Crunch of being pinned in between the ugly divorce of owing junta Frank and Jamie McCourt and the over-priced, under-performing Manny Ramirez who is rapidly becoming the millstone around the neck of this franchise.
In other words, Colletti is trying to do his job, but he is in a swimming race in a shark tank with a bleeding side of beef chained around his neck. Somehow, he has manged to make deals for effective B-list players like Ted Lilly, Scott Podsednik, Ryan Theriot, and Octavio Dotel; the trouble is this team needed a couple of A-listers to make the difference.
Mako Shark: Minnesota Twins
This is a case of a shark that is the fastest in the sea, and a seriously feared predator. Just look at that thing; I shit my pants just uploading that picture. But the problem is the Mako wastes that fearsome nature chasing Charlie the Tuna. This is the perfect analogy for the Twins; a franchise that can grow some seriously scary talent, yet has no idea how to get full value on a trade.
It was no secret that even though the Twins uber-catching prospect Wilson Ramos was never going to do more at Target Field than sell hot dogs to the “ya, you betcha” Minnesota crowd as long as God in a Mask Joe Mauer is a Twin uniform. Sure it was obvious Ramos was the chum to catalyze any deal, but with high-quality bait you expect a high-quality catch.
To be blunt, Ramos should have got the Twins Miss Universe, but Matt Capps is Miss Iowa. Now don’t misunderstand us here, while Iowa may be an acronym for “Individuals Out Watering Animals,” Miss Iowa is a hottie in her own right. But unless she becomes Miss Universe, she’s a decked-out Cadillac Seville in a world of Rolls-Royce Silver Shadows. In other words, Capps is a fully-loaded, brand new Cadillac for which the Twins paid $750,000.
Blacktip Reef Shark: Arizona Diamondbacks
Timid and skittish, the blacktip reef shark seldom poses a danger in the National League West. However, teams wading through Arizona do occassionally run the risk of having their legs mistakenly bitten. However, this timid nature leads some to believe that this shark may be an endangered species when in fact they may have put a screwing to a couple of larger sharks in the Baseball ocean.
Frankly, I’m amazed to hear people who think the Diamondbacks got screwed in the Dan Haren trade. Keep in mind this is a franchise in need of swimming into a gill net and hoping for a better lot in the next life. Just in the deal with Angels alone, they unloaded $30 million in salary while getting four pitchers in return, including Joe Saunders, a not-that-long-ago former All-Star. When you add how they fleeced the White Sux for the perenially shaky Edwin Jackson, the D-backs now boast a farm system stocked with nine of the top 80 picks from last year’s draft.
Remora: San Francisco Giants
Yeah, we know a remora isn’t a shark, but you can’t watch Shark Week without seeing one. If you aren’t familiar, a remora is one of those little fish that just hangs around, cleaning up whatever bits the big sharks leave behind. Lots of other sharks had a major feeding, and the Giants got a few nice bits in relievers Ramon Ramirez and Javier Lopez. Plus, the bit of “addition by subtraction” that happened by shipping Bengie Molina to Texas, thus opening the way Buster Posey to look like a right-handed coming of God In a Mask Joe Mauer could easily move the Giants up the food chain.
The Chum Bucket:
Just as you would expect, this would a a mish-mash of the assorted pieces left over from those who really didn’t figure out what the trade game is all about. For example, the Los Angeles Angels did net a nice catch in Dan Haren, but this team really needed a big bat at a corner infield position/designated hitter position (Adam Dunn, anyone?). When you combine that with the price of the Haren deal, it’s pretty hard to say the Halos helped themselves for the long term. Another team that needed offensive firepower and didn’t get it were the White Sux. Not only they not get Adam Dunn, Lance Berkman shot down the Sux with his no-trade clause. They still can make this worse by engineering one of those Kenny Williams “waiver wire” specials by grabbing Manny Ramirez. Plus, Ken Griffey, Jr. is still out there – oh wait, Williams has already made that mistake before.
Then there’s the teams who added nothing. The Cincinnati Reds find themselves in a neck-in-neck race with the Cardinals, but just couldn’t get that extra horse they need. Roy Oswalt cost too much, Dan Haren pulled out the no-trade clause, and they came up empty looking for bullpen help. In the end, they are pinning their hopes on a couple of senior citizens they have stashed in Triple-A Louisville, Russ Springer and Jason Isringhausen (yeah, I can’t believe they are still alive either!) But at least the Cardinals’ swim in the shark tank came out as a net zero. Sure, Jake Westbrook helps the rotation, but giving up Ryan Ludwick when the Cards were already offensively challenged… this team better plan on winning a lot of 2-1 games. The Mets literally did nothing, Jarrod Saltalamacchia likely can’t replace the injured Kevin Youkilis (except as a Scrabble word) for the Red Sox, much like Jhonny Peralta won’t come close to replacing Magglio Ordonez and Carlos Guillen for the increasingly toothless Tigers.
The Idiot Who Gets Bitten Because He’s an Idiot:
Again, this is something that no Shark Week would be complete without. You’ve all seen this guy, usually a fisherman who while trying to retrieve a 40-cent hook somehow forgets that even small sharks have mouths full of razor-sharp teeth that make an exceptionally efficient finger-removal tool. Welcome to the world of the Houston Astros, a team that actually gave the Yankees, a.k.a. the richest team in baseball $4 million to put Lance Berkman in pinstripes.
But worry not sports and shark fans; while Shark Week is just a week, there still the waiver wire deals for which August is notorious. In fact, I hear Adam Dunn may still be available…