Thursday, July 30, 2009

Manny, Ortiz Reportedly Had Positive Tests in 2003

Baseball is just stupid. Not the sport, the community. When Alex Rodriguez's name came out of the supposedly confidential list of players who tested positive for performance enhancing drugs, baseball should have seen that as a sign that the list will never be held under confidence.

I was on the bandwagon of just going out and releasing all the names on the report so we can digest it all at once and somewhat quickly move on. Instead, baseball decides to keep trying to keep this under wraps and risking the fact that every two months or so another name gets reported.

It happened with Sammy Sosa earlier this year. It has now happened with David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez. Both Ortiz and Ramirez are reportedly on that 2003 list. The New York Times is reporting that the two then-Red Sox tested positive for PEDs when the league had preliminary testing.

This isn't surprising. Manny just served a 50-game suspension for testing positive for a female fertility drug. There have been whispers about Ortiz that grew into roars as he struggled mightily at the beginning of this season. Not to mention that Ortiz basically wasn't very good in Minnesota ... who dumped him in 2002. Magically, Ortiz signed with the Red Sox and started putting up elite numbers. Plus, no one in their right mind cannot at least fathom that every slugger over the past 10-15 years has been juiced at some point. Even if they weren't, the perception is that they all were.

Also, Ortiz and Ramirez are both from the Dominican Republic. Just like reported PED user Miguel Tejada. Alex Rodriguez is of Dominican decent. The only country that has produced more positive users since 2005 has been the United States.

This is yet another huge blow to baseball ... if you pay attention. Barry Bonds single season home run record? He was juiced. Mark McGwire breaking Roger Maris' home run record before Bonds? He was rumored to be juiced. Bonds all-time home run record? He was juiced. A-Rod, McGwire, Raphael Palmeiro and Sammy Sosa ... among the greatest HR hitters of all time ... all have been rumored or proven to have juiced. Go back and look at all the MVPs over the past 15 years and pick out all the ones who have been linked to PEDs.

Now that magical Red Sox run in 2004 looks like it was performance enchanced. The Red Sox amazing comeback against the Yankees in the ALCS and their winning their first World Series since 1918 has a little bit of taint on it.

So, we now wait another couple of months to see who's name comes off the list next.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Favre, Buehrle, Minaya, Plax, Trade Talks and the Passing of a Defensive Guru

What a weird sports day, huh?

The biggest news is the fact that Brett Favre isn't coming to the Minnesota Vikings. I know that this seems like some closure, but I'm not completely sold. I still think if someone desperately needs a QB during the season (and they have a chance to go deep in the postseason), Favre may look at it again. But for now, we can chill with the Favre Watch.

And how about that Mark Buehrle? Dude took ANOTHER perfect game into the sixth inning before a walk broke it up. He faced and retired a record 47 straight batters. I'm waaaay more impressed with what Buehrle did than Bobby Jenks ... who held the previous record. Jenks is a reliever who didn't have to deal with the same things Buehrle had to. Ya know, facing guys multiple times in a game. Rest.

The shame is that it all unraveled after that walk and the White Sox were beaten.

The story this morning was about that little tirade Omar Minaya went on. The end is near in New York. Minaya's team is failing, the front office butchered the Willie Randolph firing last year and to have your GM going off on a reporter and blaming him for you having to can your assistant because he was caught acting like an ass. Whew. Goodbye, Mr. Minaya.

Speaking of the Big Apple, isn't there a saying about a "New York minute"? Well, how long is it going to freakin' take before this Plaxico Burress/Antonio Pierce situation gets handled????

Also, can we chill with all these reports about what trades may or may not happen? I don't need a minute by minute update about the guesses people are making. Red Sox offered a deal to Toronto (I think this one may happen) for Halliday. The Phillies are talking about acquiring Cliff Lee. Yay! I can't wait for this to bleed and bleed and bleed and bleed!!!

There was one trade that went down. In the NBA, the Hornets sent Tyson Chandler to the Bobcats for Emeka Okafor. I get this from both sides. Okafor is much more reliable than Chandler. He's a better rebounder and is just one solid cat. Chandler is a better defensive player, bigger and gives Charlotte a guy that could bring more offensive flow to a team that badly needs it. Also, it is a cheap deal for the Bobcats, who don't mind shedding some payroll so they look attractive to potential buyers.

Lastly, the passing of Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Johnson. Johnson's defenses in Philly were just wicked. He always had you guessing; he always had you confused and he usually had you broken by the end of the game. He was a wizard who had a certain flair about him. Johnson passed away after a long fight with cancer. May he rest in peace.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Terrell Owens' Comments on Vick Is Kinda Right ... But Kinda Stupid

Terrell Owens said this about Michael Vick's pending suspension/reinstatement:
"The Michael Vick situation, I think, is unfortunate," Owens said. "I think the way the commissioner is handling it is unfair to Michael Vick. I think he's done the time for what he's done. I don't think it's really fair for him to be suspended four more games. It's almost like kicking a dead horse in the ground.

"A lot of the guys around the league need to speak up. I think the players' union needs to step in because the guy's already suffered so much, and to add a four-game suspension onto a two-year prison sentence, I mean, that's ridiculous."
Okay. I agree with what Owens is trying to say. Vick has had everything taken from him and to pile on just doesn't seem fair. Still, I can get with the probationary reinstatement that Roger Goodell gave Vick.

But ... as Jim Rome said today ... you can't go with a "kicking a dead horse" blast when defending Vick. Do you really want to bring up dead animals when discussing a man who just did a 23 month bid for bankrolling a dog-fighting ring?

This, to me, is T.O. in a nutshell. While what he says at time really isn't as bad as it seems, the manner in which is says them tends to be.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Selig Considering Lifting Ban on Pete Rose

Yesterday was the Hall of Fame ceremonies in Cooperstown, NY. Again, some of the talk was about one man who wasn't there: Peter Edward Rose.

It gained some interesting steam today when it has been reported that commish Bud Selig is seriously considering lifting Rose's lifetime ban which could open the doors to the Hall of Fame.

I've been on this blog for years saying that I think Rose should be in the Hall of Fame. Keep the ban on him to be a player (I know, that's meaningless now), coach, manager or even a front office guy. But let the man be able to get into the Hall of Fame and let him be able to go to baseball events (i.e. jersey retirements, anniversary remembrances).

I'm hoping for this since next September is the 25th anniversary of Rose's 4,192nd hit that passed Ty Cobb on the all-time list. This city deserves to have some sort of celebration of it.

I also agree that Rose should've come clean a long, long time ago. If he did, he'd already be in the Hall. Now seems to be a much different time in baseball. Will people decide that if steroid players are being blackballed from the Hall that Rose should be too? Or will people decide that Rose's transgression was after he put up all his numbers and he should get into the Hall? Valid questions, for sure.

I'm not a fan of astericks. But I do understand the need for putting some of the bad with the good. Put on Rose's plaque that he was banned for 20 years for betting on baseball as a manager.

I hope Selig really is looking into this. I hope Rose has done enough to replace some of the trust he burned over the years.

So What If Lance Didn't Win the Tour de France?

It seems as if Lance Armstrong needed to prove something. The man won a record seven straight Tours (even if he did use PEDs or something, I'm convinced that damn near everyone else was too ... including the rumors that have followed this year's winner), fought off cancer and started one of the dynamic fund-raising campaigns we've seen.

He last raced in the Tour back in 2005. He missed three years. He went from age 34 to age 37. Could you really expect the man to just walk right in a win again?


I'm not gonna lie. I wasn't so much expecting a win as much as I was hoping for one. Armstrong left at the top of the sport and we really didn't get to see any kind of decline. That's usually the lasting image of someone who retired. We tended to forget that Armstrong couldn't possibly be able to pick right back up where he left off.

I think he did. Armstrong finished third in this year's Tour which is quite impressive. I know that it breaks his streak of titles in years he competed, but this one has to be viewed positively. Most people just can't take that kind of gap off during their competitive years and do that well upon their return.

To him, it was just like riding a bike.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Hall Of Fame and Rickey Henderson Go Perfectly Together

Tomorrow will be Rickey Henderson's induction into baseball's Hall of Fame. It has the potential to be one of the greatest induction speeches in history.

I hope so since Rickey deserves that. In my lifetime (I'll turn 34 tomorrow), Henderson may be the second best player in baseball (Bonds first). He was a freak on the base-paths as the stud of the stolen base era of baseball. He also hit for power as all those lead-off home runs will attest. He wasn't the greatest fielder but he covered so much ground and did win one Gold Glove in his career. Of course, some of baseball's best clubhouse stories (true or not, eh John Olerud?) have been about Rickey.

Guys like that make the Hall of Fame zing. I'm hoping his bust will have some gold chains on it. Future generations can go to Cooperstown and hear about all that Rickey did and the style of baseball that was played during this time. A man who played during the 1970s, 80s, 90s and 2000s. A man with a seemingly insurmountable 1,406 stolen bases -- including a record 130 in 1982. He played for World Champions in Oakland and Toronto. When he retired, he held the record for walks, runs scored and lead-off home runs. He was the 1990 AL MVP.

Again, I will continue to say that he is one of the truly greatest players in baseball history. It is rare to find someone with all those qualities packed into one man. This is how insane he was: his career stolen base record is nearly 50% above Lou Brock, the man sitting in second place. He also led off 81 games with a home run.

The knocks against him was mainly his ego and the fact that he switched teams 12 times in his career (including four separate stints with Oakland). His loved to refer to himself in the third person and loved the showmanship of being one of the greats. And dude gets to hang his jerseys with the A's, Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers and Mets on his wall. His "but today, I'm the greatest of all time" speech is one of the most memorable.

Congrats to Rickey. I'm sure he'll be saying that a few times tomorrow.

Who Are You More Tired Of: Favre or Vick?

This has been an unbearable week for NFL fans. Because the season starts so late this year, it is nearing the end of July and we still aren't seeing teams in camps. In it's stead, however, is constant speculation of Brett Favre and Michael Vick.

Right now, neither Favre or Vick is a member of any NFL roster. Yet they've completely owned all the sports talk all week long (thank you Mark Buehrle for breaking that up for a few moments). Will Favre come back? Will Vick be reinstated?

I hate to say this, but the Favre story actually means more to me than Vick's. Yes, I'm completely tired of Favre and all this crap he has put us through over the past five years. Yes, my perception of him has gone down over the past 15 months. But his "will he" or "won't he" story is more meaningful to me.

Favre's a Hall of Fame quarterback who could join a Minnesota Vikings team that already has Super Bowl aspirations. His addition to that team could vault them into a NFC Championship.

Vick is a guy that hasn't played in two years and he really wasn't a solid QB before then. He'll be a public relations nightmare for any team that dares sign him. There is no way he'll start for any NFL team right now. If he does sign with a team, he'll be a 2nd or 3rd string QB. He probably won't have much of an impact this season.

Vick's story is fresher. He's been a forgotten man for the past year or so and it will be very interesting to see (a) how Roger Goodell handles this, (b) how any teams that are interested in him, (c) how those teams handle the P.R. nightmare and (d) what does he have left? Favre is a tired story or a man who just can't ride off into the sunset.

Yet while I'm sick of hearing about Favre, what happens to him is more important than what happens to Vick.

At least this season.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Nike to Give Back LeBron Tapes

This whole LeBron dunk thing has been handled as poorly as anything could be. I'm not one to say that people should lose their jobs ... especially in this economic climate ... but the people who decided that it would be a good thing to snuff out these tapes should be reassigned to Siberia or something.

After all the bad press that the "LeBron Tapes" were getting ... magically two videos show up on the internet on Wednesday. Magically two tapes were leaked. And today, magically, Nike says they are going to return the tapes to the rightful owners.

I give Nike some credit. The magical leaking of the video right now will cause this whole fiasco to die down a bit. Now we know that it wasn't that big of a deal and the actual play will be a non-issue after a while. However, Nike can't take back their part of the damage to LeBron's crafted image.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

LeBron + Nike = Mountainous Molehills

The video of Jordan Crawford dunking on LeBron James has finally come out. As you watch it, you really aren't impressed.

Yeah, Crawford dunked on LeBron. Yeah, LeBron did jump late ... but he still got dunked on. And yeah, if Nike and LeBron didn't try to confiscate the video of this happening ... no one would care. It isn't like it was anything that impressive. He had a wide open lane, took off, LeBron came late and got in the poster. Yeah, LeBron got dunked on. But it isn't as big a deal that needed the tapes destroyed.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

2009: The Year of the Bad Calls

This isn't the first year we've seen bad calls. This probably isn't the year with the worst calls. Really, there isn't any one thing that sticks out like a sore thumb as being a horrific mind blowing call (I'll take that back in a second).

But 2009 may go down as the year of the bad call in sports. I have no stats to back that up -- I just know that even my normal "sometimes they get it wrong" outlook is growing smaller and smaller by the day.

Last night, the Twins Michael Cuddyer was thrown out at the plate for what would have been a game-tying run. In a game that saw huge momentum swings and a 14-13 ending, most people will remember that the game ended on a blown call. Cuddyer was safe by a mile.

This comes during a year of whining about fouls, bad penalties, missed goals and the infamous Ed Hochuli incident. Aside from Hochuli, there really isn't anything going on that hasn't happened before.

The problem is more noticeable now because of technology. We've had instant replay on TV for a long time now, but now with have X-MO and a ton of different angles covering the entire field of play. We have HDTVs where everything comes in crystal clear at home. How can we expect three basketball refs to see everything when we need 20 cameras doing the same.

Now instant replay is in every major sport in one way or another. Before, bad calls were blown off because there wasn't any way in the rules to correct it besides huddling up and asking "what did you see?" Now it's everywhere so the athletes and fans can all see when a call is bad and wants it rectified.

This has always been the slippery slope that anti-replay people point to. Baseball finally allowed replay to review home run calls ... and we were all fine with that. However, when something like last night happened, we all want the umpires to check out the replay and get it right.

Referees have to realize this. Before, they could anticipate calls. If a guard was driving to the basket and a big man comes over the defend, the ref is usually going to blow the whistle no matter what. If the ball beats the man to the base (which in Cuddyer's case, it did), the umpire just calls him out. If a wide receiver and a defensive back get tangled, the ref usually tosses the flag.

That was all just accepted. But not anymore. I can sit at home and see the network's replays. I can use my DVR to rewind and slo-motion it myself to see if the call was good or bad. With HDTV, even the toughest angles look good.

So the question is how do you fix it? Hard to say. Believe it or not, these officials are the best in their business and most don't have a pre-existing agenda. They are given all sorts of tools to get better at their craft. However, there must be a way where replay can be used where it doesn't completely slow the game up or become the ultimate crutch. It must be there to right the wrongs.

Especially the really, really, really, really wrongs.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Does Anyone Want Quentin Richardson?

Well, of course not. But what do Darko Milicic, Zack Randolph, Sebastian Telfair, Mark Madsen and Craig Smith have in common? All were traded for Q Richardson at some point over the last month.

The Knicks dealt Q to the Grizzlies for Milicic on June 25th. Almost right after that deal, the Grizzlies dealt Q to the Clippers for Randolph (the trade wasn't finalized until last Friday). Now the Clippers are sending him to the Timberwolves for Telfair, Madsen and Smith.

Richardson is the classic "contract year player". After averaging around 10 ppg during his first three years with the Clippers, Q erupted for 17.1 ppg. He would use that momentum to sign a huge six year deal for $46M with the Phoenix Suns. Just one year into that deal, Phoenix shipped him out to New York for Kurt Thomas. And, well, ya know that nothing good has come out of the Knicks since then.

He's so popular now because of his contract. That big deal he signed in 2004 ends after the upcoming season. So that's another $9M in cap space a team could get from him. The Knicks dealt that opportunity away for another expiring contract. Milicic's salary will be off the books after the season, too, and he plays a need position for New York. No one knows what Memphis was thinking by dealing Q away for Zack Randolph's bad contract ($33M over the next two years) ... though it could pay off down the road.

This new deal (which isn't official yet) would mean Q goes to a Wolves team that could actually use him. None of the other teams needed him. Also, it gives the Clippers a few backup pieces with Madsen and Smith's contracts expiring this year and Telfair with a player option next year.

I Guess I'm Just an Old Blogger

When I worked at FanHouse, we all started comparing our ages in the NFL department. It really threw me for a loop that I was one of the oldest cats there. That's a first for me.

I turn 34 on Sunday and in some aspects I do feel a bit old. I'm older than my wife and her siblings. I'm older than my sister. But I've always kinda held that perspective during my life.

To feel old on the internets is some other beast. I've been blogging for about six years now. I started with in 2004. I then contributed to, Sports Bloggers Live and AOL FanHouse. Now I'm back with a new and improved site and working with Yardbarker. All this is great!

But I get lost in the shuffle a bit. Unlike most sports bloggers (or any bloggers), I'm not filled with snark. I also don't really care about the salacious items in the sports world. Yeah, some of it ungulfs me ... but I don't need to see Erin Andrews undressing through a peep hole. I don't need to put some chick in lingerie on my site everyday so I feel like a real man. I don't like using blog buzzwords like "fail" (even though I did in my last post to make a point) nor am I big on Twitter. Also, I don't care about having my face on this blog or television. I don't need to have videos of myself acting like a tool just so people look at me.

One of things that bothers me was while at FanHouse, I had to turn into someone who cared about those things. Forget posting about what actually happens on the field of play! Blog about the guy who punched out a cabbie outside a restaurant! Don't write about what this athlete does in a game! Write about the hot chick he's screwing!

I don't like that, which is why I'm glad I'm back doing my site the way I want. And thanks to Yardbarker for actually seeing the stuff I write and putting in on the front page from time-to-time.

What makes me also feel old is the fact that I've seen this whole thing build up. I remember when AOL recruited me to write a "journal" for them in 2004. I never heard of the world "blog" before. I never went to one. For any sports news, you had to go to the MSM or their offshoot rumor sites.

I was there as sports blogs took off. I was there when podcasting started to get popular. I was there when YouTube launched and gave all of us a huge tool to make our blogs zing. I was there when AOL stepped up to the front and became the first mega-corporation to support a blogger-based blog. I was also there when AOL and other mega-corporations started their own blogs ... then just moved their columnists over to write editorials there. I've been through the MSM-Blog Wars. It's amazing how this has exploded over the past six years.

In 2004, I just started blogging because I had a lot to say and typing it up made it look cool. I never in my wildest dreams thought that anyone would read it or that it would take me anywhere. I'm thankful to all the people that helped me along the way. My blogging isn't seen as much as it once was, but maybe that's a good thing.

Age is nothing but a number, but it does bring perspective. If you turn 34 in the sports world, you are considered a senior citizen. I was born the same day as the NBA's Joe Smith. How do you view him? Guys I remember getting drafted are now retiring. I'm usually about 10-15 years older than guys getting drafted now. These cats were born in years I remember!!!!

I don't think that older means smarter, better or wiser. It usually does mean more experienced and usually holds a better view of the landscape. I'm not saying I don't blog about Erin Andrews nekked because I'm against it! I'm saying that I don't care about it so I'm not going to blog about it. There are plenty of 20-somethings that will.

I'm not a traditionalist by any means. If you've read my blog over the years, you'd know that I'm all for all kinds of radical changes. I want to have the NBA in two 15-team conferences (no divisions). I'm open to the idea that baseball should have full blown interleague play. I'm the one who said basketball should abolish free throws and just have the player take an uncontested shot from where he was fouled ... or from the FT lane if it is easier.

However, I still long for the majesty that sports used to bring. Remember being a kid and thinking these athletes were bulletproof? That they were role models that we should emulate? We didn't really think about salary caps, contract disputes, sign-and-trades, recruiting violations, salary dumps, steroids, luxury seats or corporate ownership groups. It was there, I just didn't care. Heck, when I was a kid, athletes in all the sports were snorting the nose candy and I didn't really notice. Cocaine nearly destroyed the NBA and is one of the lasting images on one of my most memorable sports moments in my young life (the 1986 Mets winning the World Series).

Now I see all of that. I see NBA players fighting over contracts, NFL veterans getting cut due to salary cap issues, MLB stars getting caught with steroids or PEDs, teams holding cities hostage for new venues, etc.

That's the sad part of getting old and cranky. Perspective is a double edged sword.

Tom Watson Exposed Non-Tiger Tour

The 2009 British Open will be remembered for two things: two fails. One was the fact that Tiger Woods, the favorite to win the event, missed the cut for just the fifth time in his pro career. The other was the fact that 59-year old Tom Watson ... who led virtually the entire tournament ... hiccuped down the stretch and lost to Stewart Cink in the playoff.

There was actually a third fail (I'm not big on that "fail" word as the rest of the internets). The fact that these young bucks let a 59-year old man nearly win a major championship is insulting.

We used to always consider this era of golf as the Tiger Era. He's dominated the tour and he has placed himself on the Mount Rushmore of golfers. We all know that these guys are so skilled, so strong and so gifted right now. There may not be as much talent on a golf course than there is right now.

But how does a man who hasn't done much of anything in 20 years nearly win one of the sport's signature events?

Put this Watson stuff aside for a bit. This year has been the perfect opportunity for somebody ... anybody ... to break away from the pack and become a star. Tiger Woods is coming off major knee surgery and isn't playing as well as he used to. Phil Mickelson has been going through a horrible time with the illnesses of his wife and mother. The two biggest names (and best players) in golf are not at their best so it would figure that there would be a pack of names ready to move in to the opening.

It hasn't happened.

This isn't just a post British Open thought. I view the British Open in golf as I do the French Open in tennis. It is much different than the rest of the tour and guys who you aren't as familiar with tend to do well there. I get that. But that doesn't excuse the rest of the year.

When I look back on the 2009 season, I'll remember Tiger not winning a major (he won't win the PGA Championship), Watson nearly winning the British, Phil Mickelson's heroic climb at the U.S. Open and John Daly selling stuff outside Augusta National. None of those thoughts is about anyone else doing anything about actually winning.

That's the golf world that Tiger Woods has put us in. He's the huge elephant in the room and you know he's there. We all expect at any moment for him to put it together and start dominating again.

It would be nice if someone would step up while he's working on it.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

What to Look For in Baseball's Second Half

Okay, the second half of the baseball season is upon us so we all have to give our two cents about what may or probably won't happen.

My love affair with baseball isn't what it was when I was a kid. I don't care as much as I used to. So here is my attempt to pull a wild hair outta my butt as I predict the winners:

NL EAST: Philadelphia Phillies. The Phills tend to get rolling late in the year and I don't see any other team in that division that can stop them. Yeah, the Mets could do it ... but who can believe in them?

NL CENTRAL: Chicago Cubs. This is more of me sticking-to-my-guns than anything. The Cardinals look like the team playing the best, but the Cubs just look like a better team. I know they are a mess, but despite all of that they are still just 3.5 games out of first.

NL WEST: Los Angeles Dodgers. They have some holes and the division is better than people think. Still, this team has all the tools needed to win the West.

NL WILDCARD: San Francisco Giants. It will probably be the Mets or even the Cardinals. But I love the Giants pitching and hope they can bring in another bat from somewhere before the deadline.

AL EAST: Boston Red Sox. I think the Red Sox are the best team in the American League and will fight off both the Yankees and Rays.

AL CENTRAL: Minnesota Twins. They stay consistent and are tough to beat at home. They need to pull up their road record if they are going to win the division over Chicago or Detroit.

AL WEST: Los Angeles Angels. The Angels have had horrible luck thus far ... yet are sitting atop the division. If they can get healthy, they should win the division. Also, I think the fact that Texas and Seattle are pushing them could pay off for LA when the playoffs come around.

AL WILDCARD: New York Yankees. This was tough. I want the Tampa Bay Rays to get this spot and I wouldn't be surprised if the White Sox, Tigers or Rangers took it, either. But the Yankees haven't really put it all together at any point during the season, yet still have one of the best records in baseball. I think that gazillion dollars worth of talent gets it done.

MY REDS: I think the Reds are due for a tough going the rest of the way. Jay Bruce is gone for probably two months and they've already had trouble hitting. I don't think they believe that they are in the hunt well enough to make some sort of deadline deal. If they do, it will be something like Cincinnati trading away somebody (Bronson Arroyo?) for prospects.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Please Don't Let Lamar Odom Leave!

I'm not liking the way these Lamar Odom talks have gone for the Lakers. After reaching an agreement on the yearly salary for Odom, talks fell apart over the length. LA wants to give three years; Odom wants five. Now comes word that owner Dr. Jerry Buss has pulled the offer from the table.

Now, I've been cool with the negotiations thus far. Both sides to feel they have leverage. Odom has said that he wants to stay in L.A., he just one a title there, he's one of the team's most popular players and he actually has the perfect role for his comfort level. L.A. knows they really need Odom back because he's part of their deadly trio of big men that bring pain to everyone else. He also could be a terrific buffer in case Ron Artest has any dust-ups.

As a fan, I say that the Lakers should give in to Odom and at least offer him a fourth year. I think Odom has deserved that. Of course, it isn't my money we are spending so I understand the reluctance to do it. This may be essentially the same team as last year, but mostly everyone's salary went up. Andrew Bynum's huge extention kicks in, Shannon Brown signed a nice raise. Ron Artest may make as much as Trevor Ariza does now, but it is twice as much as what Ariza made last year.

I hope it works out. However, the rest of the league ... who all stayed away because they didn't really think he'd leave the Lakers ... now smells blood and are searching for ways to bring in the talented Odom.

Iverson? Will the Clippers Ever Learn?

In professional sports, there are always those downtrodden franchises. The ones that just can get out of their own way. However, every one of those franchises tend to have a few silver linings in their past.

The Los Angeles Clippers really don't have any silver linings. Despite living in a sports world where parity reigns and advantages are given to help teams get up off the mat, the Clippers have managed to stay bad for nearly three decades.

Their stupid move of the week is their flirtation with Allen Iverson.

I can get with this a little. Iverson is a year removed from being one of the league's top scorers. He can bring fans into the arena. And he can be had relatively cheap.

He also is a guy who needs to ball in his hands alot. The Clips already have a guy like that named Baron Davis. Can both of them share the ball with each other? Can they share the ball with their future stars of Eric Gordon and Blake Griffin?

The biggest laugh I've had in all of this was the news today that the Clippers want to look Iverson in the eye and have him say that he's cool with coming off the bench. What? Iverson pissed and moaned about being a bench player for a perennial playoff team in Detroit. Why would you think he'd really be cool with that with the freakin' Clippers.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Not a Fan of the HR Derby; But I Don't Wanna See It Go Away, Either

The home run derby was last night and I saw that Prince Fielder won. I didn't watch any of it because I was laying around on the couch watching TV with my wife. I didn't care if I missed any of the derby or not.

I'm not a big fan of it. I've been to plenty of batting practices to get the same sort of feeling. Old guy lobs one into a beefed up hitter's wheelhouse and ... boom. Rarely does the home run derby champ equal the best power hitter as it all comes down to who finds their groove the quickest and for the longest time.

Also, it doesn't have that same feeling of a real home run. One that happens when you didn't expect it. During this derby, you expect every swing to connect and the ball flies out. When it doesn't, it kills it pretty quick.

That isn't to say that I think baseball should do away with it. If plenty of people do like it, then why not have it? It isn't my (or some others) cup of tea, but that's the beauty of living in 2009: there are 400 more channels to watch. If there are a ton of fans that dig this contest, then keep it going!

I liken it to the NBA's slam dunk contest. I used to live for it moreso than the actual All Star Game. You had the league's stars competing and coming up with new and exciting dunks. Then it moved into more of the "young guy that vaults into stardom" contest ... which I'm fine with. But I don't break my neck to make sure I watch it anymore. I can get the same thrill by watching the highlights on ESPN later on that night.

The home run derby isn't even that for me. I'll check out ESPNews to see who won and if there was any perceived drama, but I usually forgot that it was even held that day. Give me a few more days, and I'll forget who was even in the thing.

Monday, July 13, 2009

'Hero'? 'Troubled'? How About 'Average People'?

This has been an interesting two weeks in America as we learn about death and the impact of one's life. Whether it is sudden (Michael Jackson), long and suffering (Farrah Fawcett) or violent (Steve McNair), it all has an impact on everyone death leaves behind.

As fans or bystanders, we tend to try to figure out a person's legacy. The shame of America now is that it seems that legacies have to be easily labeled and categorized or else we struggle with how we are supposed to feel.

Since this is a sports blog, I'll concentrate on Steve McNair. He was a warrior of a player who is just a rung or two from being a Hall of Famer. He gave back to his community and was a respected man among his peers. We knew all of that before July 4th. After that day, we found out that he cheated on his wife, had a pad on the side and had this life we didn't know he had.

So what is McNair's legacy? It is all these things. It isn't just the hero that people want to remember and it isn't the salacious way he died. It is all of that. He will be remembered for being one of the best quarterbacks of his era. He will be remembered for his philanthropy. And he'll be remembered for being murdered at age 36. He's all those things.

Same as Michael Jackson. MJ was both the genius who created some of the greatest music and videos of our lifetime. He also was that "Wacko Jacko" character who lived a bizarre life. He's both as well as many other things. Look at your own life and see what makes you. If you died tomorrow, you will be remembered for your good deeds as well as your faults. And that's fine.

I go back to O.J. Simpson ... who obviously isn't even dead. Now, of course he will be known first and foremost as the "alleged but non-convicted" murderer of his Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman. Some people will remember him as a Heisman trophy winning running back for USC. Others will remember his Hall of Fame career with the Buffalo Bills. Some will recall his acting in the Naked Gun movies or in Hertz commercials. He is all of those things and to suggest he wasn't a great football player because he's viewed as a murderer and now is a convicted felon isn't right. One may shadow the other, but it is okay to remember someone's entire life.

Yeah, the way McNair died to tarnish his legacy a bit. But that doesn't erase anything he did before it.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

My Yearly Whining About the All Star Game Deciding Home Field Advantage

It is All-Star time again in baseball, where we get to take time out from our fantasy leagues, take a step back and check out the landscape and hear the gripes about the actual game.

To be honest, I probably won't watch it. Not because I'm against it or anything, but it isn't something that I would set aside my night to make sure I saw it.

I like having the game. I like having the fans vote the starting lineups even if they/we get it wrong from time to time (it is an All-STAR game, remember?). I like the fact that every team gets at least one representative on the team even if that means knocking off someone who may be more deserving.

I just don't like that the game decides home field advantage in the World Series.

For all the good that baseball has done in its history, they just can't seem to figure this out. I wasn't a big fan of the rotating home field from the NL to AL every year, but it was kinda fair. It was even and we all knew it going into the season and (this used to be important) allowed the NFL to schedule their games without worrying about the stadium being booked. Since they've switched to the All Star game winner gets to host the World Series, I've become completely against this.

Again, the All Star game should be what it is: an exhibition. All the great players and all the fan favorites get to strut their stuff in one place. Everyone should get a chance to play and be seen. It should be fun.

The game has now changed a bit. Both Charlie Manuel and Joe Madden (who will manage their respective leagues) have championship aspirations and should manage as such. If I was Manuel, I would play Albert Pujols all game long. If it could make the difference between hosting Game 7 of the World Series or traveling for it ... go with your guns.

But no one really likes that anymore. Sure, back in the day it was the norm. But now the rosters are so deep and there are so many teams now that there just isn't any way to just roll with your starting nine all game. Don't you think fans in Baltimore would like to see Adam Jones take the field at some point of the game? Reds fans would like to see Francisco Cordero pitch to a couple of batters, right?

As a fan of a small market team that seemingly gets just one guy on each year, I wanna see my team represented at some point after the roster introductions.

Peter Gammons (UNC guy) has said it and I agree with him: make the winner of the interleague series the league that hosts the World Series. Seems fair, right? After all, baseball is a long, grueling 162 season and it is that grind that creates our postseason, right?

So why have one exhibition game be the determining factor of something as major as home-field advantage in the Fall Classic?

Friday, July 10, 2009

LeBron James Is Having the Worst Offseason Ever

How things change so suddenly in sports. I remarked on this during the 2009 NBA Finals when Dwight Howard went from "next dominant center" to "guy with no game" in about a week.

During that time, LeBron James was having his own issues. Since then, it hasn't gotten better.

First off, it is always a tad bit embarassing to be the league's MVP and not bring home the title. I'm not saying that he's at all to blame (it was his teammates that let him down), but the 2008-2009 NBA season was a LeBron Lovefest and to have it end before the Finals had to be a bitter pill to swallow.

Exactly at the end of the Cavaliers season, LeBron's problems started. From his storming off the court without congratulating the Magic, to the sneaking out of the arena instead of talking to reporters to the sad explaination of his that didn't really sit right with anyone, LeBron got off to a tough start to his offseason.

We all see him as a sore loser. He doesn't mind cutting up during pregame introductions or sitting in front of reporters when everything is going great, but storms off like a little kid when he doesn't get his way.

Then came just some bad P.R. issues. The Nike puppet commercials which he and Kobe were the focal point of made him look like a loser. He was seen wearing an "LBJ MVP" shirt that most people (including me) found very tacky. There was also that weird story that he allegedly called free agent Trevor Ariza and told him that he was staying in Cleveland past the upcoming season (his people have denied this conversation). He also watched his recruitment of Ron Artest go out the window when he signed with the Lakers. His lack of a future commitment is killing the Cavs.

But the worst two things that have happened to LeBron this offseason came a few days ago. One is that horrible fit where Nike confiscated Xavier's Jordan Crawford dunking on him in his own camp. You know the story by now and LeBron looks like a major ass for his and Nike's actions. The odd thing is that LeBron looks worse now than he ever would have if he just let the YouTube footage of it get out. King Baby.

But the dagger came from a memo from the NBA. The league advised the 30 teams to watch their money as the cap could fall to around $50M in 2010. That is $10-$12M less than what many teams were figuring on. 2010 is supposed to be the "LeBron Sweepstakes" where at least half the league would try to reel him in. There will still be about seven to 10 teams that can do so ... but now they can only afford LeBron. LeBron and teams like the Knicks were planning on bringing in two of the max players (LeBron plus Dwyane Wade or Chris Bosh or Yao Ming or Amare Stoudamire). Now, it seems that no one can pull that off. LeBron can still go to one of these teams, but what kind of talent will they have? Sure, LeBron can be a New York Knick but what kind of teammates could he possibly have? At worst, LeBron can just not opt out of his contract and hope others do the same and try it again in 2011.

In any event, LeBron is having a tough time. David Stern may want to break off another phone call to LeBron to put him in timeout.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

NBA's Free Agency Bonanza of 2010 May Not Happen

NBA teams have spent the last couple of years clearing up cap space for the summer of 2010. That year, some of the top players will be free agents and can go anywhere they want. It is what teams like the Knicks and Nets have been waiting for.

Too bad it may not happen they way they wished.

The top prize will be LeBron James. Knicks and Nets fans have been salivating over the possibilities of King James in their unis in one year. Well, reports are that he told Trevor Ariza that he's going to stay in Cleveland past next year. That must have felt like a punch to the gut for fans in New York.

Next up is Dwyane Wade who said he'd stay in Miami if they showed him that they were going to attempt to be a title contender. While Miami hasn't done much this offseason, they could be a major player in 2010. In the aging East, that could put them back up there.

Yao Ming could be available ... but who would want him? Most likely he will be coming off a season of no basketball due to a broken foot. A broken foot that is just one on a list of lower body problems that Yao has faced in his career. Does anyone want to mortgage their future on a chance? It all may be moot because Yao would be stupid to opt out of his contract that year.

So would Dirk Nowitzki. He can be a free agent in 2010 if he opts out, but he probably won't since he'd be due $21M that coming season. Mark Cuban loves him and will gladly overpay for his services.

Chris Paul will probably sign an extention at some point soon and he'll probably be off the market.

Amare Stoudamire? He scares a lot of teams because people think he's a "system player". Still, if the Knicks can't get anything else done then they Mike D'Antoni may try to bring in Amare. He could be joined by teammate Steve Nash.

Chris Bosh could be the biggest name out there. Too bad that he's coming off a less than stellar season. All signs point to him wanting out of Toronto ... but that could change if Hedo Turkoglu can help get them back into the postseason.

Shaq? That will be the most interesting of all the free agents since he (a) is at the end of his career and (b) wants to win a title right now! But Shaq also likes getting his cheddar, so it will be interesting to see what offers are out there and from whom. And we'll get to hear those "Shaq back to LA" rumors again.

Ray Allen? Manu Ginobili? Rip Hamilton? Those guys best days will be behind them and all of them would probably stay with their organizations. Allen and Manu are on franchises that have outstanding chances at a title. Rip's Pistons have rebuilt.

Now you are looking at Michael Redd, Marcus Camby, Joe Johnson, Tracy McGrady, Stephen Jackson, Jermaine O'Neal and Carlos Boozer. Most can probably help a team get over the hump but who (aside from Johnson) really deserves the big, big money?

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Steve McNair Found Dead

Just saw this flashing on FoxNews: Steve McNair found dead in a Nashville apartment in what may be a double homicide or possibly a murder-suicide. McNair was found shot to death from a bullet to the head. A female was also found dead.

Not much is out right now, but I'm sure there will be quite a bit soon.

McNair was the star quarterback of the Houston Oilers-turned-Tennessee Oilers-turned-Tennessee Titans. He also played for the Baltimore Ravens late in his career. He became just the second African-American QB to lead his team to a Super Bowl (Doug Williams was the first). He was 36 years old.

He went to three Pro Bowls and, along with Peyton Manning, was the 2003 co-MVP.

UPDATE: It's looking like more of a double homicide instead of the first reported murder-suicide. McNair was killed in his Nashville apartment.

UPDATE II: Titans owner Bud Adams released a statement from the organization: "We are saddened and shocked to hear the news of Steve McNair's passing today. He was one of the finest players to play for our organization and one of the most beloved players by our fans. He played with unquestioned heart and leadership and led us to places that we had never reached, including our only Super Bowl. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family as they deal with his untimely passing."

Former Titan Steve McNair dead - WKRN, Nashville, Tennessee News, Weather, and Sports

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Ron Artest Is a Funny Guy ... and Hopefully a Laker

This isn't so much an article or blog post as it is a story.

First off, I hate this "Twitter society". I reluctantly got a Twitter account recently because it seems as if athletes everywhere are shoving their feet in their mouths on a daily basis. Either that, or screwing with everyone. I made the decision/mistake to follow Ron Artest. Now, he's a funny guy and all but I don't need 50 "tweets" in a span of an hour from him.

Now, Ron-Ron is a free agent and methinks he could be a Laker if the team can't re-sign Trevor Ariza. Today is the start of free agency and Artest is in form. His Twitter page has this whole thing of he "just signed his deal" and he even said a mild good-bye to Houston. He also tweeted that he was playing pool at "Lamar Odums" [sic]. Interesting.

He then tweeted that he'd be on Sacramento's sports radio station soon (I can't remember what the name of it was), so I logged on to the site to listen to the interview. Artest was in full party mode and just playin' the fool. It was a cool laid back interview (the interviewer seemed to have a good relationship with the former SacKing) and Artest was sort-of candid. He talked about Yao Ming being a great guy and how he could or could not be a Rocket next year.

He followed up with a tweet about him getting a $12M deal from the Knicks. Hilarious!

I'm still not a fan of Twitter because of stuff like this. I don't really care about people's mundane thoughts and I'm don't care to respond to any of them. I can also chalk up Artest's Knicks deal alongside Amare Stoudamire's tweet that he is a LA Laker and Chad Johnson's tweet about his fake facial tattoos. April Fools Day was back in April, fellas.

It makes me think about Michael Jackson. Remember back in the Thriller days, he used to leak fake stories to the media as his sort of inside joke that only he got. He leaked that he slept in a oxygen chamber and that he bought the Elephant Man's bones. He pretty much began his tabloid life by creating "Wacko Jacko."

The point is that this is 2009 and you aren't just kidding beat reporters and columninsts. This is the digital age where every Tom, Dick and Harry Butts can take a stupid story and run with it. Kidding your followers (read: fans and curious looky-loos) can lead to them seeing you as a tool.

Again, sorry for this not making too much sense, it is just the thought that crawled up into my skull just now.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Stephon Marbury Spouts Off About D'Antoni

Okay, here is what Stephon Marbury just said:
"I wouldn't want to play in that system," Marbury told The Post. "That system can't win championships. You can't win championships if you don't talk about defense. In Boston, the coaches even play defense."
Where to start? First off, realize that I actually like Starbury a bit. He's exciting to watch and has unbelievable skill. However, he has no room to talk about anything right now.

"That system can't win championships"???? Maybe not, but D'Antoni's "system" has gotten further in the postseason than Marbury ever has. Marbury has gotten out of the first round of the playoffs just once in his career -- last year as 9th man for the Boston Celtics.

Look, I'm not saying that Marbury isn't right in his assessment. I also don't think you can win a title playing D'Antoni's style. But for someone who also is known for his playing style not translating to the postseason, it is more "pot-meet-kettle".

Michael Curry Fired; Just Another Great Move By Joe Dumars!

If you've read this blog over the years, you'd know that I'm not one of those people who really think that Pistons GM Joe Dumars is one of the best in the business. He isn't. Sorry, but anyone who drafts Darko Milicic over Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh can't be considered a "genius".

I'm not going to rehash all my reasons for not liking Dumars, but another one is the fact that he seems to not be able to get along with his coaches. He ran off Rick Carlisle after two 50-32 seasons, bumped heads with Larry Brown despite two NBA Finals apperances in both his seasons and one title, couldn't tolerate Flip Saunders one year after he delivered a 64-18 season and then grew tired of Michael Curry.

I understand why Dumars is bailing on Curry. Curry kinda rubbed the players the wrong way and Dumars was worried that he could scare free agents away. That's cool and all, but why did you fire Flip to hire him? Why fire a guy that won the Central Division two years in a row and had a 64-18 record in 2006-2007 for a guy you are just going to bail on after one season?

Wimbledon's Center Court Controversy Really Isn't

Let me first say that as I begin to type this, I don't know what side of the fence I'll end up on. For those who don't know, an official for Wimbledon admitted that they scheduled matches involving attractive women players on Centre Court and put the higher ranked, less attractive women on the side courts.

So there are people that are bent. I understand that. It is sexist in some aspects and it does stomp on women's sports as a whole. Women are continuing to be judged by their looks.

However, I cannot really fault Wimbledon for doing this. The more attractive players have a bigger following and a higher interest level. It would stand to reason that they'd place their matches in the expanded seating of the Centre Court. After all, is it also fair to have the high ranked players play most of the tournament on the same court?

I know people hate hearing this, but sports is a business. It is an entertainment business. Everyone goes ga-ga for the Megan Fox, Jessica Biel, Jessica Simpson and Scarlett Johanssens of the entertainment world so why would tennis follow suit? Wimbledon wants to squeeze everything out of this opportunity. The LPGA loves it when several of their attractive golfers are atop the leaderboard because it could bring in the young male demographic. Why wouldn't tennis be the same way?

Again, I didn't notice which court whom was playing on. I don't care because I barely watch tennis anymore (my heyday was the Ivan Lendl/Boris Becker years). I'm just surprised that somebody admitted to this. Since they did, they may as well do what they really want to do: have one half of the bracket filled with the most attractive women and the other half filled with the leftovers. We maximize the attractive girls by placing two of them on the same court at all times. That would end up meaning that our Wimbledon Final will be an ugly chick versus a pretty one.

I wonder which one the crowd will be rooting for?