Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Ron Artest to the Rockets

Amidst all the talk of NBA players going overseas, the Rockets made a big splash yesterday trading for star SF Ron Artest. The Rockets parted with PG Bobby Jackson, a former King, a 2009 1st round draft pick, and rookie forward Donte Greene.

This trade gives Houston a legitimate 3rd option on the offensive end and arguably the best on-ball defender in the entire NBA. Last season, Artest averaged 20 points a game, 6 rebounds a game, shot 45% from the field and 38% from three. He has proven over the course of his career that he is a balanced two way player who plays both ends of the court very well. His best trait is being a smothering on the ball defender who can take the best perimeter player on the other team and take him right out of his comfort zone.

Artest, who's size and build gives the Rockets many different options, won the 2003-04 Defensive Player of the Year and his defensive ability is well respected in NBA circles. Off the court though, Artest hasn't been able to stay out of trouble. Obviously there was the 2004 Brawl at Auburn Hills (you know the one where an overreaction by Ben Wallace was the leading factor in ruining the Pacers franchise), there was the incident where he almost came to blows with Pat Riley, an arrest off the court for domestic abuse, a suspension from the Pacers because he dim wittingly asked if he could take a month off to promote an R+B album. Artest has had his fair share of off court issues and his behavior seems to be on a slippery slope since the Brawl at the Palace.

Despite all of his legal problems, Artest and the supporting cast around him is too good for this marriage not to work. You have a #1 scoring option in McGrady, you have a legit big man in Ming, you have a few nice role players such as Shane Battier and Luther Head, along with Dikembe Mutombold assuming Houston resigns him. Houston made themselves significantly better yesterday as they basically traded nothing and ended up with an upper echelon small forward in the league, as well as a legitimate third option that could help McGrady finally defeat the battle that is known as the 1st round of the NBA playoffs.

Now I don't think its time to crown Houston, as they still are in the Western Conference. If everything pans out as planned, they still could conceivably lose in the first round if they get hold of a bad matchup. Still, all in all I love the trade for Houston as they vastly improved their team and gave up a bucket of used baseballs to do it. Houston now just has to stay healthy. If they do stay healthy, they have the kind of team that can go deep in the playoffs.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

NBA players running overseas, the latest fad?

With the latest Josh Childress saga, the one that ended with him signing in Europe to play for a Greek team, now it seems as if every other mid level free agent is 'threatening' to sign overseas. Depend on the Hawks to botch a situation so badly that a player they want and a player that contributes to their team goes overseas instead of re-signing with them. All that positive vibe that they gained from the playoff run last year, is drying up.

As a restricted free agent, the Hawks had the right to match any offer to Childress from an NBA team, but not from an International team. The contract that the Greek club gave Childress Olympiacos is worth 20 million after taxes over the course of three years. It is the richest contract in the Euro league currently and the biggest signed in Euro league history. Last season Childress averaged 12 PPG and 5 RPG as he helped Atlanta make the playoffs and push the eventual World Champion Celtics to seven games. Over his four year career Childress averaged 11 points and 5.6 RPG with the Hawks.

Childress claims he wanted to re-sign with the Hawks, but due to their lack of urgency he looked elsewhere. I don't buy that, I think the real issue was his reduced role under Coach Mike Woodson and his subsequent dislike for him. I mean, is there anybody on the Hawks that actually likes Mike Woodson? All I ever read is how all the players dislike him. You combine Childress apparent dislike for Woodson with the fact that Atlanta could match any offer given to him as a result of his restricted free agent status.

As far as it becoming a fad, I can see it becoming a safety blanket for current NBA players for a few reasons.

- It is essentially a counter to restricted free agency. In Childress case he didn't want to return to the Hawks, but the Hawks have all his rights so if they match an offer he doesn't have much of a choice. It's either a sign and trade or be stuck where he doesn't want to be. The Hawks, and every other team for that matter cannot match an offer from an International team. In Childress case he got more money to play overseas anyway.

-The economy in the U.S isn't exactly dazzling right now, and the currency of the Euro dollar looks better and better. Not to mention that these players can get more money from the Euro teams, anyway.

- After each year in the contract, the player can opt out. So in Childress case, he leaves Atlanta where he didn't want to be, goes overseas and makes a cool 7 million. He can also boost his value, and by next season the salaries will once again go up so he can get a long term with a deal. In essence playing in Greece is a stop gap, one that will pay Childress 7 million. Not too shabby, eh?

So far the following players have left the States to bolt for Europe are:
Player NBA team European team
Primoz Brezec Raptors Virtus Roma
Josh Childress Hawks Olympiakos
Carlos Delfino Raptors Khimki BC
Juan Carlos Navarro Grizzlies F.C. Barcelona
Bostjan Nachbar Nets Dynamo Moscow

While this list doesn't necessary knock your socks off, starting players such as Delonte West of the Cavaliers and Andres Biedrins, the young double double machine for the Warriors are also threatening to go to Europe. Could this be a trend? Could this be a detriment to the NBA? Only time will tell.

Yankees trade for Xavier Nady and Damaso Marte

In an attempt to boost the team for the stretch run, the Yankees made a trade with the Pirates acquiring OF Xavier Nady and RP Damaso Marte. The Yankees traded minor league OF Jose Tabata, RP Ross Ohlendorf and two other minor leaguers for the services of Nady and Marte in a deal that was announced on Friday night.

My opinion on the trade:
I like the trade, I like it a lot. On paper, it looks like a good deal. The Yanks essentially gave up Jose Tabata and peanuts for a nasty left handed specialist and a nice outfielder. On the season Nady is hitting .330 with 13 HR, 57 RBI, a .383 OBP, a .535 SLG, and a .919 OPS. Marte has a 3.45 ERA, 48 Ks, 16 BBs, a 1.16 WHIP and a 2.17 BAA and has been one of the best left handed relievers in baseball over the last few years.

Who would've thought that the bullpen would be this team's strong suit at this point in the season, especially after Chamberlain became a starter? I sure didn't, but it has developed into a strong suit with the emergence of Jose Veras, Edwar Ramirez, and even Kyle Farnsworth (yes, Kyle Farnsworth as reliable relievers. Rookie David Robertson has also contributed important innings out of the pen. Marte wasn't really even needed, but it already adds to a bullpen with great depth, and also gives them a lefty which they didn't have prior to this. They have tried Billy Traber but he was bad. Getting Marte provides an upper echelon lefty reliever who can pretty much do whatever is asked of him.

Nady provides a desperately needed bat in the lineup, as he replaces the slap hitter Gardner who was hitting below .200. I do feel that Gardner can eventually contribute on this level but he isn't ready yet. Having Melky Cabrera, Gardner and Jose Molina batting 7-9 might be the worst 7-9 in the American League. With the addition of Nady, that is no longer an issue, as you now add pop to the bottom of the lineup. Not only is Nady a productive offensive player, but he plays decent defense and plays hard. He gives it his all, and he is a 'lunch pail' type of player. Put it like this, he is David Eckstein with talent.

I liked the move for the Yankees, and hopefully this can lead to bigger and better things (ie a World Series title). That would be the absolute perfect way to send off Yankee Stadium.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Shockey's days as a Giant numbered

When the Giants selected Jeremy Shockey with the 14th pick in the 2002 NFL Draft, many people thought that Shockey was the next Marc Bavaro. Bavaro, the legendary Giants tight end, was most known for his ability to break tackles after the catch, along with his soft hands. Shockey attended the University of Miami where he was known for his antics after plays, his intensity and his wide receiver like talent. He proved quarterbacks a security blanket with supreme talent.

In his rookie year, Shockey gave us a glimpse of his talent immediately as he made many highlight reel plays in his first preseason game against the Texans, breaking tackle after tackle in an impressive debut. In an impressive rookie campaign, Shockey caught 70 balls en route to a Rookie of the Year Award. After that Shockey's career, while still a good one, has gradually become worse. His production has never rivaled that of his rookie season. He was used more and more as a blocker during his stint here, to the point where it made you wonder why they didn't trade him a long time ago. Continually, every week I would sit there and say, "Why are they wasting this man's talents?" Then he complains about it, or is visibly upset on the sideline, and now he is portrayed him as a terrorist, for goodness sake. I don't think I have ever seen a sports figure in NY receive as much blame for pretty much anything as Shockey has, this side of Alex Rodriguez. Its raining, let's blame Shockey. My wife left me, let's blame Shockey. Soulja Boy gets air time, let's blame Shockey. The gas prices are high, let's blame Shockey. On and on, you would think the man is a criminal. He just seems like the convenient punching bag.

The man wants the ball, he wants to help his team win. Blocking as much as he was, do you believe that is the best choice for the team? Then often times when he was open (I'm talking about open, not Shockey's definition of the word), Eli would miss him quite a few times causing him to be angry on the sidelines. Should Shockey be as demonstrative as he often was on the sideline? Probably not, but is he some disruptive force who is useless to the team? No, he isn't and that shows in his production. He was a good player for the Giants, one who often created mismatch problems on linebackers and safeties, one who often used his skill to help the Giants win games. And while Shockey has a lot of ego and attitude, he was never a bad teammate. Despite all of that, the Giants did their best to avoid having him around the team, as evidenced by the banning of Shockey from the sideline on Superbowl Sunday. That was another thing Shockey was blamed for with the 'Why wasn't he down there with his teammates, but upstairs in the press box drinking beer?' retort. What is conveniently left out is that the Giants didn't want him there.

Shockey's tenure here was a relatively rocky one, but he was still a productive player. He energized his teammates and the fans with his intensity and his will to win. Don't get it twisted, just because Shockey might have a WR's ego, just because he has shown up his QB a couple times, just because the New York press blames everything on him like its their job doesn't mean he is a bad teammate and doesn't mean he's all about himself. The man wants to win, and he has a passion for the game.

As far as how his loss will effect the Giants, a lot of people have said its like an addition by subtraction. Didn't the Eagles fanbase and many prognosticators say this about Terrell Owens? What has Donovan McNabb, and more importantly the team as a whole, done since he left? They haven't made it past the second round of the playoffs. I don't buy that when you get rid of someone that talented that you are adding by subtracting. Obviously in Shockey's case it is a bit different as the Giants went on a magic carpet ride all the way to one of the biggest upsets in history in SB XLII, but if you think the Giants offense will be the same with Kevin Boss, then guess again. It will be a noticeable setback, and unless that defense produces a replica of the Sack Exchange then the Giants will be watching the playoffs from their respective Home Entertainment Centers.

Speaking of Kevin Boss, I'm sure he is a good guy, I'm sure he wants to learn and play well, but can the prognosticators and the main stream media stop acting like he is destined to be Shockey's heir apparent. He may be good, sure but the man has NINE career receptions. For the love of god, you don't have a Vernon Davis type of talent sitting there, or a Ben Watson or even a Tony Scheffler type of talent. Boss was a 6th round pick who has nine career receptions. Let's ease up before we anoint him.

As far as Shockey's landing spot, at least he got sent to a good team, which is good for him. Maybe the Saints will be smart enough to not use him as a glorified olineman. At least the Giants didn't send him to Miami. It could've ended up a whole lot worse for Shockey. Hopefully he will show the world what he can do in a sensible scheme.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Q+A with Captain K

-George from New Jersey asks

What are your thoughts on the Lakers going after Ron Artest and trading Lamar to get him? I always liked Ron but he can't seem to separate the streets and his business on the court. If the Lakers get Ron, how much of an impact do you think he would do for the Lakers and is that enough to win the West? Lakers are also interested in trading for Marion. What are your thoughts on those 2 guys?


As far as the Lakers going after Artest, I think it is an excellent fit for L.A. Ron is a good offensive player but more important for the Lakers, he is a top of the line defender. He can take the opposing team's best offensive player and make life very difficult for him. He is a two way player and would be an asset to any team, especially one that just made the Finals last season. They won the West last season without him, so of course they can win one with him.

As far as Marion, I was never a big fan of him. His offensive game is very ugly and seems to me, that his #s were inflated by the combination of D'antoni and Nash. I also think the guy is VERY overrated defensively. Now maybe it's because he was on a team that collectively played no defense, but I never saw what made him so highly regarded defensively. I definitely think that Artest would be a much better fit than Marion. Thanks for the question George.

-Jason from California asks

Obviously the Rays have had an amazing year thus far, but recently a tough losing skid has hit them. Do you believe that this team is for real, or is about to head down the division with the the defending champ Red Sox and the Yankees? Now, assuming they still in contention (which I believe they do), what kind of moves are you looking to make at the deadline? Do you need to bring in a veteran player to lead the team? Any other ideas?


The Rays have been a nice story so far. They are a nice squad, but they are tough to get a read on. I believe that they are for real, but if they don't start hitting soon, the Red Sox will soon be a blur in the standings. As far as moves they can make, they can try and acquire some type of bat. Maybe a Jason Bay? A Matt Holliday? I'm not too big on Holliday because I think he is a product of his surroundings but who knows, he could probably help. They could also use some serious help in that pen. Their pen is terrible. Someone like a Brian Fuentes could help in that regard. Life or death, as of today, do the Rays make the postseason? I'm going to have to say, no. Thanks for the question Jason.

-Ray from New York asks

What do you think about the Jets offensive personnel (excluding QB, you've voiced your opinion enough on that :) ) ?


As a whole the Jets offensive personnel leaves a lot to be desired and a lot of questions asked. Right now we don't know the Jets don't know who their #3 WR is. Chansi Stuckey has a lot of potential but has an injury history is incredibly long so he cannot be relied on to stay healthy. Marcus Henry, a rookie out of Kansas, is a big guy with good hands who can provide a safety blanket for Clemens.

At TE, you have a mediocre TE in Baker who does nothing particularly well. You have Dustin Keller who can be a mismatch nightmare for most defensive players, but he is an unproven rookie. Starting at WR, you have 2 nice WRs, but neither one is a #1 at this point, and neither is a threat to stretch the field really. Though I do believe that Coles will spring loose deep more with Clemens at QB. I'm not a big fan of Thomas Jones. In my opinion Leon Washington should be getting more carries, and Jones is an overpaid, overrated ordinary running back. The offensive line I like on paper but they need to mesh. Overall, the Jets are about an average offensive unit that has the potential to be a good one if a few things break right. Thanks Ray.

-Amani from California asks

Is John Madden football on the Ps2/xbox360/PS3 worth all the hype out there?


As an avid madden player for basically my entire childhood up to now, I do not think the game is worth all the hype. The Playstation 2 version, which is the one I play mostly, leaves a lot to be desired. Manually catching is a little easier than it should be, the random blitz angles are annoying, the olinemen consistently standing their with their collective hands up their butts gets old as well. As far as defense, there isn't much that isn't wrong with it. The angles that the safeties take in Cover 2, the way that the defensive players play the ball in zone defense, among many other things. The New Gen versions will be good in time, but they have a sluggish feel to them. Thanks Amani

-Tanner from Seattle asks

What are your thoughts on favre holding the Packers hostage, and what are the possible effects of this on the NFL in general? What teams do you see as a legitimate possibility for Favre and how do you think the Packers will and should handle this?


I think the Packers are handling this situation as well as they can. It is a terrible situation to be in, as Favre is a legend and basically a god in Green Bay. Favre retired, they asked him if he wanted to come back and wanted him to make a decision before training camp due to Rodgers and his contract status. He said no, and rightfully so, they moved on with Aaron Rodgers as their starting quarterback. They went through minicamp with him and adjusting the playbook somewhat, to fit his strengths.

I don't blame them for wanting to move on with the future especially considering Rodgers is approaching the end of his contract and has been sitting on the bench for three years. What's the sense in completely wasting a 1st round draft pick? They want to see what they have, and I don't blame them. If Favre had done anything worth noting as far as postseason play recently I wouldn't mind if the Packers buckled. If they went to the SB last year it would be different. Favre hasn't been to an SB in a decade, so playing him is essentially saying in neutral. He's a legend, and he's still a productive quarterback, but eventually Green Bay has to move on and that is exactly what they are trying to do.

As far as effects on the NFL, I don't think it will have any effects on anything in the future. This is a special instance, and won't have effects on anything else with any other player or team. Thanks for the question Tanner.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Brett Favre to the Jets, make sense for the Jets?

First of all let it be known and clear before I begin. Brett Favre is CLEARLY better than any quarterback the Jets have on their roster, I can not dispute that as it is as clear as day. That being said, Kellen Clemens was drafted to be the future quaterback of this team. He hasn't had much of a chance to do anything. In 2007, Chad was given the job before training camp even started without earning it. I guess that is what mediocrity and relying on a good defense along with weak schedule to get to the playoffs gets you. For those who need me to spell it out, that is exactly what Chad did in 2006. Then Mangini, who by the way seemingly loves Chad, and blindly at that, gives Chad the starting position without having to earn it.

Then after Chad was FINALLY benched, about 5 games too late I might add, Clemens comes in behind a piss poor offensive line with his #1 target out. The Jets record with Clemens as a starter was 3-4 and he put up very poor numbers, while looking very bad at times. The only positive things that we can take out of this season for Clemens is that he can make every throw on the field and that he has a knack for bringing this team back in the 4th quarter. He did it against Washington, against Pittsburgh, and against Baltimore. The Jets were only 1-2 in those games thanks to Justin McDroppins dropping not 1, but TWO TD passes that would have tied the game, and thanks to Jerricho Cotchery dropping a key 3rd down pass against the Skins that would have placed the Jets in FG range.

So Clemens has been given eight games starting on a bottom 5 team in the league talent wise, and a good amount of fans are ready to give up on him. Why? He hasn't even had a legitimate chance. He hasn't stunk for 2 seasons like Vince Young, or hasn't stunk as long as Rex Grossman. Why give up on him? He's a 24 year old kid with talent.

Anyways regarding Favre and the Jets as a possible destination, I don't think it makes much sense. Favre doesn't make this team a contender. Does he make the Jets better than they currently are? Probably, but how do we know that this past season wasn't an aberration? This is the same guy who threw 38 touchdowns and 47 interceptions the two seasons prior. Who's to say that this past season wasn't simply a leap of faith?

The Jets have infused a lot of talent onto this team in the offseason, both young and old, with the acquisitions of LB Calvin Pace, G Alan Faneca, LB Vernon Gholston, NT Kris Jenkins, TE Dustin Keller. They also currently have a nice nucleus of young talent featuring the likes of Jerricho Cotchery, Kerry Rhodes, Darrelle Revis, David Harris, D'Brickashaw Ferguson, and Nick Mangold. So the Jets seem like they are on the right track to be an SB contender in the next 2-3 years. Do you bring Favre in here, and if you do, do the Jets become SB contenders? With the Chargers, Colts, Patriots, and Jaguars in the same conference I don't think so.

Also, another overlooked aspect of Brett Favre's game due to his immunity from criticism is his poor playoff play. He has played very poorly since the turn of the millennium in the postseason, leading the Packers to a 2-7 record. Since 1999, the Packers have won three playoff games. THREE. In that same span the Jets have won two playoff games, and that is a team that is universally considered a failure. Yet Favre and the Packers are seen as a force to be reckoned with on a yearly basis. Since the Superbowl in 1998, Favre has thrown 16 Tds and 20 INTs in the postseason. He has also made a living on throwing the backbreaking INT (the Dawkins INT, and the Webster INT are the two that come to mind).

So in the last 9 years, Favre has managed to lead his team to one more playoff victory than the Jets in the inferior conference. Why does anyone believe all of a sudden that Favre is going to defy history and logic, in coming here and instantly making the Jets an SB contender? Because his name is Brett Favre? Because of the hype that surrounds him? Because he's an all time great who has stunk two of the last three seasons?

Now that I'm finished with that, let's say hypothetically that he does come to the Jets. He plays for two seasons and has a productive two seasons. The Jets lose the wildcard round both years, and then Favre retires. Clemens leaves because his contract runs out, then what? We are back to square one. No QB, and not even a superbowl ring to show for the time we wasted with Brett Favre when Clemens could have been learning on the job. I for one, am not a proponent of this scenario but yet it's the one that most likely would take place.

Why not just give the kid a shot? Cut Pennington and sign Chris Simms or Culpepper and go to war. If Clemens stinks, you draft someone else. If he doesn't you're golden. Why spend time and cap space on retreads who haven't had consistent success in the playoffs since the last millenium?

Does anyone really see Brett Favre, the guy with a penchant for bad decisions, the all time leader in interceptions, going into Foxboro and defeating Bill Belichick and Tom Brady? I sure don't.

Yankee Stadium

This will be a more personal entry from me, about Yankee Stadium.

This past Tuesday was the last Mid Summer Classic at Yankee Stadium. One which the American League won 4-3 in 15 innings, a game that ended close to 2 AM. Throughout the All Star festivities, on television the memories of the Stadium have been played. Babe Ruth calling his shot on a homerun, Roger Maris breaking the record, Aaron Boone, etc.

Watching these clips is nostalgic, because of the history that the Stadium holds. so many historic events have happened here, whether baseball related or not. As far as baseball, its the home of the 26 time World Champions. We have seen record breaking home runs here, we have seen milestone homeruns, November World Series walk off home runs. Yankee Stadium has seen it all, and after this season she is gone.

I have been to Yankee Stadium about 15 times. I still vaguely remember the first time I attended a game there, it was July 4, 1996. The Yankees played the Milwaukee Brewers that day and there was a fireworks show after the game. I was too young to understand the significance of this hallowed ground at the time, but as I got older I started to understand. I've seen Pedro Martinez pitch at the Stadium, I've seen Andy Pettite pitch numerous times, I've seen Manny Ramirez, Alex Rodriguez etc. I've had the pleasure to see many great games at the Stadium, and many great players.

I will miss the Stadium. I will miss watching playoff baseball on television and feeling the intensity from my desk chair. I will always remember Aaron Boone homering off of Tim Wakefield to win thye 2003 ALCS and screaming into my pillow because I didn't want to wake anyone. I will always remember Derek Jeter homering off of Byung Hyung Kim in Game 5 of the World Series and the phrase 'Mr November' being coined since the clock had just struck midnight, November 1, 2001. I will remember getting the chills after Tino Martinez hit a game tying 2 run homerun off of Kim in Game 4 to tie the game, and remember being speechless after Brosius did the same thing a night later.

I will remember the Tino Martinez grand slam in game 1 of the 1998 World Series (though he was struck out on the previous pitch). I will remember Derek Jeter 'flying' into the stands against the Red Sox bloodying his face. I will remember all those times Bernie Williams saved the day with clutch hits. I will remember Charlie Hayes catching that fly ball to end Game 6 of the 96 World Series to end the Yankees 19 year World Series drought. I'll never forget Jeffrey Maier taking the ball away from Tony Tarasco in right field, aiding a game tying Derek Jeter homerun in the 96 ALCS. I will remember riding to the Stadium on the 4 train, getting there an hour or two early and just taking in the Stadium in all its glory.

All the memories in my short life, makes Yankee Stadium a sentimental favorite for me. Hopefully I can take in the Stadium a few more times before its farewell. I will miss it, and I hope the Yankees deliver a World Series to close it out. It would be the perfect ending for Ole Yankee Stadium. It deserves to go out on top.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Brett Favre saga

Different year, same topic, entirely different issue. Brett Favre's retirement has been a subject that has been spoken about for a long time. For the last 3 or 4 offseasons, the rumors usually ran rampant about Favre's retirement while he pondered it, with the Packers permission, for as long he needed to decide. This offseason was a bit different, as the Packers supposedly asked Favre to make his decision before the draft, mainly due to the status of QB Aaron Rodgers who hasn't seen any playing time in three years. Rodgers' contract runs out at the end of next season and the Packers apparently want to see what they have in Rodgers before that contract runs out. After all, he was a 1st round pick, and was groomed to be the quarterback of the future. How would it look, just wasting a 1st round pick without that guy ever seeing the field?

This past season, Favre was a positive story as he went through a rebirth of sorts. He had a good season for the first time in three seasons, and led the Packers to the NFC championship for the first time since 1998. The Packers came within an eyelash of an Sb appearance last season with Favre throwing lasers all over the place and leading the team much like he has done over the past decade. Those positive memories have quickly turned negative over the course of the last week and change as now it is essentially Favre vs the Packers. No matter what the result is, it can't be good, unless Favre just re-retires and calls it a day. And with how much Favre changes his mind, that's very much a possibility.

After the season ended with Favre's INT to Corey Webster in yet another playoff failure, he rode off into the sunset capping off a hall off fame career. Now---he's baaaaaaaaaack. Now the Packers are stuck in a situation they don't want to be in as it has the potential to be a public relations nightmare. They don't want him back on the team but they don't want to go elsewhere because 'they're concerned about his legacy'. Favre asked for his release, and the Packers denied it. That was a clear choice as he could end up in the same division. Could you imagine Favre hoisting up an SB trophy as a Chicago Bear? Can you imagine the backlash? Many fans believe the Packers should just release him, but because Favre is a legend doesn't mean the Packers should put him over what's best for them. He is under contract, the Packers have his rights and he just has to deal with it. Releasing him makes absolutely no sense for the Packers.

Favre allegedly wanted to cancel his retirement a month after he retired, and the Packers in an effort to bring him back were going to fly a jet out to get him. They were going to bring him back to Green Bay to announce him coming back, when he then retired AGAIN, leaving GB thinking that he was gone for good.

So let me get this straight. After retiring not once, but twice in the same offseason, Favre now comes out of retirement and feels entitled to just come back and get the starting job handed to him because he's Brett Favre? Brett Favre is a legend, a great QB, a first ballot Hall of Famer, but he is not bigger than the Packers organization. The Packers have moved on, like they should have, and he just has to deal with that. Not everyone is going to bend over backwards for Brett Favre even though he seems to feel as though he is entitled to it.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Elton Brand- The Saga of a Broken Word

On Wednesday, the 9th of July, it was made official. Elton Brand signed his name on the dotted line, and became a Philadelphia 76er. Brand signed a 5 year, 82 million dollar contract, which marked the end of a relatively disappointing but productive tenure as the Clippers 'franchise player' where he only led them to the postseason once in seven seasons.

The signing, and the events that took place leading up to the signing can be summed up in one word, ugly. Though the details of what actually took place are sketchy, the whole process made Elton Brand look like the villain. Brand opted out of his deal, claiming he was doing so to restructure his deal to a more cap friendly pact. He claimed he was doing this to help the Clippers bring in more talent. "My intention is to stay," Brand stated last week. "Right now, it's (opting out of his deal) just trying to solidify my future and work things out with the Clippers," he said. Brand's agent, David Falk, who once represented Michael Jordan said that Brand opting out of his contract was simply an attempt to gain roster flexibility for the Clippers.

What exactly changed from then to now? You know what they say, there are three sides to every story, the two sides of the parties involved and the truth. From the Clippers side, they claim they had Brand's word that he would come back. You have the quotes saying Brand opted out, so he could give the Clippers financial and roster flexibility. You have coach Mike Dunleavy saying there was a handshake, in which Brand would take less money if it helped them get Baron Davis. Also, Brand was allegedly recruiting Baron Davis to come play with him on the Clippers, filling up his phones with texts, and calls. On Brand's side, you have his agent claiming there was never an agreement, that the Clippers gave Brand a 70 million dollar offer (woe is Elton, what a slap in the face!) in a take it or leave it fashion, then when word came that other teams were offering more than that, the Clippers tried to get back into it but by then it was too late.

So, as of right now the details are kind of sketchy as to what happened, but I side with the Clippers with this one after the quotes from Brand claiming he wanted to be there and he was willing to take less to help the Clippers bring in FAs (Baron Davis). If you didn't want to be there, or there was a distinct possibility that you would go run for the money, why even say all of these things? Mind you, no one is saying that you have to be loyal, or that Brand had to play for the Clippers this season. He gave the Clippers seven good seasons, and has a right to play for whoever he so pleases. That being said, if you didn't want to play for them and wanted to get out of L.A. why talk all this talk, about wanting to stay and wanting to help the Clippers when it was never your intention? Why not be man enough to stand behind your word? You said you wanted to help the team's financial stability to help bring in Baron Davis, allegedly you were courting Baron to come play with you. Then why leave, when L.A. supposedly offered the same 81 million dollars that the 6ers ended up giving you? Why talk the talk, if you can't walk the walk?

This is like the Carlos Boozer situation with Cleveland a few years back, except there was no real concrete evidence to use against Boozer, besides word of mouth from the Cavaliers owner. Boozer had just come off an impressive 03-04 campaign, averaging 15.5 points and 11.4 rebounds a game. After the season, Cleveland had the option of allowing him to test the free agent market as a restricted free agent, or keeping him for another year, paying him $695,000. The Cavs claimed to have an 'understanding' with him for a deal worth $39 million over six years. But once Cleveland dim wittingly let him out of his deal, his agent started to receive calls about his services. One thing led to the next and before you knew it Boozer was signing a 6 yr 70 million dollar pact with the Utah Jazz. While I don't agree with Boozer going against his word (if he did make a verbal agreement), Cleveland handled this about as poorly as you can handle. They have seen the way ridiculous money is thrown around in the NBA. Boozer just came off a season where he averaged 15 points and 11 rebounds a game, they didn't think he would get more than the 6 years and 39 million that they tried to give him? They didn't think that there would be the temptation for him to back off on his supposed promise when people start throwing 'mucho dinero' at him? In this instance I think both parties are to blame, Boozer for breaking his word, and Cleveland for handling the situation as badly as you could handle it.

Back to Brand, we don't know the full details yet so it's hard to make judgments, but don't talk the talk if you can't walk the walk. Don't say how you're going to stay with the team and take less money to help them with roster flexibility and to help court Baron Davis and then leave. From that standpoint, how Brand handled the situation is Bush league. Why couldn't he just tell the truth from the beginning and say he didn't want to be in L.A.? Why couldn't he just tell the truth and say he didn't really care about L.A. or the Clippers organization? Why lure Baron Davis to L.A. then leave? As more comes out about the situation we should get a better feel for what took place, but in the meanwhile, Brand should take lessons in the field of 'keeping his word'. I don't know who's mainly responsible for this but I do think Brand's lack of integrity is the main culprit in this affair.

Monday, July 7, 2008

MLB All Star Teams

All Star Games are not my cup of coffee. They never have been, as the only purpose they serve is being a glorified exhibition where guys where shiny shoes and play half speed. The fact that this decides which league representative has home field advantage in the World Series is absolutely deplorable. The fact that the fans get to decide who play in this game that has ramifications involving the World Series is even worse. On top of all of this (you thought I was finished, didn't you?), due to the utter stupidity of the rule dictating that there has to be at least one representative from every team, you are ensured that the rosters are not comprised of all the best players in each league. Oh and to add to this pile of mess, in the player voting whoever is second on the ballots is required a spot on the team.
Now that we have gone through everything I feel is wrong with the All Star game we will take a look at the All star game rosters and my opinions on how they are made up.
American League
Starting Lineup:
C- Mauer

1B Youkilis

2B Pedroia
SS- Jeter

3B- A-Rod

OF- Josh Hamilton

OF- Manny

OF- Ichiro

DH - Ortiz






F. Rodriguez

Ervin Santana

Joe Saunders

George Sherril

Joakim Soria

C Navarro

C Varitek
1B Morneau

2B Kinsler

SS M. Young

3B Crede

3B Guillen

RF Drew

LF Quentin
CF Sizemore

CF Bradley

Now before I get started on anything else, Jason Varitek on the All Star Team is the most shameful and disgraceful selection I have ever seen, and there have been several bad ones especially given the rule that every team needs a representative. Back on Varitek, do you realize that Varitek is 15 for his last 113 at the plate?

Do you realize that his average is a putrid and downright pitiful.215? Do you realize you could conceivably call up a catcher from Single A and get similar production? Varitek has the lowest average of any catcher on the majors who has enough at bats to qualify. Upon seeing his name on the All Star Roster, I was speechless, then laughed. As I said in the opening, I don't really care about the All Star Game, but I still like criticizing the picks especially the ones that make absolutely NO SENSE like the Varitek pick.
As far as changes I would make to the roster:

1)At second base I would replace switch Pedroia and Kinsler. Pedroia is a deserving all star but he shouldn't be starting. Kinsler is having the better season

Kinsler- .338 14 HR 53 RBI 80 runs 30 2B .396 OBP .554 SLG .950 OPS
Pedroia-.311 9 HR 41 RBI 61 runs 21 2B .354 OBP .458 SLG .812 OPS

As you can see Kinsler is outperforming Pedroia in every relevant category, so he should be starting.

2)In the outfield, I would swap Milton Bradley and Manny Ramirez.

Milton Bradley- .319 17 HR 54 RBI 53 runs 22 2B .445 OBP .603 SLG 1.048 OPS
Manny Ramirez- .278 16 HR 54 RBI 52 runs 16 2B .379 OBP .494 SLG .872 OPS

Bradley is having an incredible year in Texas this season, while Ramirez is having a down year, for him anyway. Bradley is outdoing him in every category with a wide disparity in the On base percentage jersey, slugging percentage and on base+slugging departments.

3) At shortstop I would swap Derek Jeter and Michael Young.
M. Young- .291 7 HR 46 RBI 58 runs 23 2B .340 OBP .418 SLG .758 OPS
D. Jeter- .281 4 HR 37 RBI 48 runs 16 2B .343 OBP .385 SLG .729 OPS

As you can see, Michael Young has had a far superior season to that of Derek Jeter's, so he should be starting while Jeter should be coming off the bench.

4)Evan Longoria and Mike Lowell both deserve a spot over Joe Crede

J. Crede- .261 15 HR 47 RBI 36 runs 15 2B .338 OBP .478 SLG .816 OPS
E.Longoria- .283 16 HR 53 RBI 44 runs 22 2B .354 OBP .535 SLB .889 OPS
M. Lowell- .299 13 HR 54 RBI 39 runs 21 2B .362 OBP .520 SLG .882 OPS

Both Lowell AND Longoria have been better than Crede this season, yet he still made it. How is that?

5)Anyone over Jason Varitek

Jason Varitek- .215 7 HR 27 RBI 18 runs 13 2B .297 OBP .354 SLG .651 OPS
Anyone with a pulse- Numbers undetectable
This is ridiculous. It's ridiculousness won't even let me delve further into the matter.
National League

NL starting lineup:
C- Soto
1B- Berkman
2B- Utley
SS- Hanley Ramirez
3B- Chipper
OF- Ryan Braun
OF- Fukudome
OF- Soriano

Aaron Cook
Ryan Dempster
Dan Haren
Brad Lidge
Tim Lincecum
Ben Sheets
Edison Volquez
Billy Wagner
Brandon Webb
Brian Wilson
Kerry Wood
Carlos Zambrano

NL Reserves:
Russell Martin
Brian McCan
Adrian Gonzalez
Albert Pujols
Dan Uggla
Aramis Ramirez
Cristian Guzman
Miguel Tejada
Matt Holliday
Ryan Ludwick
Nate McLouth

My thoughts on the team

1. Fukudome belongs nowhere near the team, much less starting.

Carlos Lee- .292 20 HR 70 RBI 44 runs 25 2B.338 OBP .543 SLG .881 OPS
Corey Hart- .299 14 HR 55 RBI 46 runs 25 2B .337 OBP .515 SLG .852 OPS
Jason Bay- .289 17 HR 45 RBI 62 runs 20 2B .395 OBP .527 SLG .922 OPS
Pat Burrell- .277 22 HR 54 RBI 48 runs 20 2B .409 OBP .586 SLG .994 OPS
R. Ludwick- .290 17 HR 58 RBI 54 runs 23 2B .367 OBP .577 SLG .944 OPS
Xavier Nady- .323 12 HR 55 RBI 42 runs 24 2B .383 OBP .538 SLG .920 OPS

Fukudome- .287 7 HR 35 RBI 58 runs 16 2B .391 OBP .420 SLG .811 OPS

And each and everyone of those guys didn't make it while the guy with the average production in the big city did.

2. Carlos Lee should be starting in place of Soriano

SP Johan Santana over SP Carlos Zambrano

Santana 121.2 IP 113 hits 2.96 ERA 1.19 WHIP .243 BAA 32 walks 109 K
Zambrano 112.1 IP 109 hits 2.96 ERA 1.31 WHIP .255 BAA 38 walks 73 K

Santana has been more impressive this season, even though due to lack of run support his W-L record is very mediocre (even though I feel pitchers shouldn't have W-L next to their name anyway)

3. SP Cole Hamels over SP Ryan Dempster
Hamels 128.2 IP 98 hits 3.22 ERA 1.02 WHIP .209 BAA 33 BB 110 K
Dempster 111.0 IP 88 hits 3.24 ERA 1.18 WHIP .215 BAA 43 BB 93 K

Hameles has been absolutely nasty this year, how he isn't on the team is beyond me, but I am not surprised.

4. SP Chad Billingsley over SP Aaron Cook
Billingsley -104 IP 90 hits 3.12 ERA 1.31 WHIP .232 BAA 46 BB 107 K
ACook- 132 IP 141 hits 3.66 ERA 1.29 WHIP .280 BAA 30 BB 64 K

I don't know what's worse, the fact that Cook even made the team, or the fact that made it on merit, and not just being the only rep for Colorado.

3B- David Wright over Aramis Ramirez

Wright : 17 HRs 70 RBIs .288 BA .382 OBP .512 SLG .894 OPS
Ramirez : 15 HRs 60 RBIs .283 BA .379 OBP .498 SLG .877 OPS

Wright has been better to this point all season. He should have gotten the nod.

In conclusion, there will always be snubs no matter if they fixed the system or kept it the way it is, but the system the way it is currently structured is a joke of epic proportions. Again, the rule that states every team should have an all star should be lit up in flames, especially if we are playing for home field in the World Series. If the game has vested interest like that, then don't you think we should be making the best roster we could possibly make? And the All Star Game, the glorified exhibition that it is, shouldn't have any bearing on the home field advantage. Why don't we let something like the teams' actual records determine this? There is so much wrong with the All Star Game, and it actually having a tangible effect on the World Series is absolutely ridiculous. They thought that aspect would make the game more fun for the fans, more people would watch when it has had an adverse effect. It makes the game even more of a joke than it already was.

The New York Knicks- the rebuilding process

Isiah Thomas was a great GM for this team and I'll certainly miss his services. Ok, now that I have picked myself off the ground from laughing, let's talk about the Knicks and their rebuilding process. This past offseason has been a relatively busy one for the Knicks as they have hired a new coach and a new President, ending the Isiah Thomas 'error' as Knicks executive. The Thomas' era started with the disastrous trade for hometown product Stephon Marbury, and ended with him feuding with Marbury. It had a lot of bad moments in between, like the Anucha Browne Sanders case, the absolutely horrific signings of Jared Jeffries and Jerome James. I have a hard time deciding which of those signings was worse.

With the hiring of Coach Mike D'antoni and President Donnie Walsh, change is the main theme in MSG these days. Coming from Phoenix, D'antoni plans to implement the uptempo, breakneck system you saw Steve Nash run to perfection. Problem is, he is coming to a situation with a poorly constructed roster made up of a bunch of guys who you can essentially call 'losers'. D'antoni has led four straight 55 win teams in Phoenix in the gauntlet that is the Western Conference, while bringing a fun, productive style which many teams try to emulate. With all of that said, I have a hunch (I have no idea what makes me feel this way) that the string of 55 win seasons will end this season, as he is in the midst of possibly the worst roster in basketball. Put it like this, if D'antoni manages to win 45 games with this team, they should put a statue of him outside the Garden.

As far as the draft, Danilo Gallinari was the pick at 6 to the chagrin of the Garden on draft night, 95% of which had never even watched a clip of him, I bet. They booed, they chanted "U.S.A" and once again represented the city of New York so well. I am on the fence regarding the pick. I thought he was the best player for our team that was still left on the board. He is 6'10 (with room for growth), can shoot the ball from anywhere on the floor is a good ball handler. He has a very good offensive repertoire, and has huge upside. The main reason I am on the fence is described in two horrifying words--Frederick Weis. Remember him? The guy who the Knicks drafted over Ron Artest, the guy who Vince Carter jumped over and proceeded to 'teabag' in the Olympics. The guy who never played a minute of basketball in the United States. That pick still makes me shake my head.

The Duhon signing is one that I like because of the kind of player he is, a scrappy, hard nosed unselfish player. I don't really like him as a starter yet, but I think in time all of New York will warm up to him, if he improves his shot. The defense is there, the distribution ability is there, the effort is there. Now hopefully he can see a bump in his production because of his surroundings and the current system in place. Most importantly for all, this most likely means the end of the Stephon Marbury tenure. HALLELUJAH!!!!!

It's the beginning of a new era in New York, and hopefully for long suffering Knicks fans like myself, it will be a full 180 from the last two tenures. If it isn't, the Knicks might not matter for another 20 years.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

The Tampa Bay Rays- What young talent can do for you

Before the start of this season, if anyone had said that the Tampa Rays would be in first place by four games over the Boston Red Sox, 86 games into the season, they would have been looked at like they had six heads. Well, this is what makes baseball the wonderful game that it is, its unpredictability. Any team can conceivably make a vast turnaround in any given season, as evidenced by the Tampa Bay Rays this season. Their fortunes turned very quickly as they have gone from doormat to the best record in baseball. The Rays have been stockpiling young talent for a long time, such as Carl Crawford, Scott Kazmir, B.J Upton.

In the past offseason, they traded one of their young talents for a good young arm in Matt Garza. Garza has been a pleasant 'ray' of sunshine this season for the team as his record stands at 7-4 with a 3.47 ERA and a 2-1 K-BB ratio (58-29). You think Minnesota regrets that a bit right about now? Garza has combined with Scott Kazmir and James Shields to form one of the best and youngest 1-2-3 combination of starters in the majors. Kazmir, who came to the Rays in one of the most lopsided trades in the history of baseball to this point, is 24 years old, Garza is 24 and Shields is 26.

The Rays lineup is a balanced one with some power and some speed. The speed, in particular, is provided by Carl Crawford (22 steals) and B.J Upton (25 steals) as these two often set the table for the run producers in the lineup such as young phenom Evan Longoria (50 RBI), veteran Eric Hinske (44 RBI) and slick fielding first baseman Carlos Pena (44 RBI).
This team can beat you in a variety of different ways, they can outhit you, they can win a 2-1 game, they can create runs by playing 'small ball'. This team has the making of a contender, as they have the pitching to do so, the defense, and the hitting, especially the timely hitting.

In my opinion, the Rays are here to stay for this season as they will win the AL East, and march on to the playoffs for the first time in their franchise history. If they do that Joe Maddon is a shoe in for Manager of the Year, or at least you would think. They are an exciting bunch whose brand of baseball is exciting to watch, and I look forward to taking them in as much as I can from here until the end of the season.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

NBA Free Agency has begun (RE: Arenas and Davis)

The NBA Free Agent Period started with a bang yesterday as Baron Davis, who had opted out the previous day, signed a 5 year $65 million deal with the Los Angeles Clippers.
Questions first began to swirl about Davis when he was benched during the 2nd to last game of the season during a late playoff run. The Warriors would end up missing the playoffs and Davis' status with the team as well as the Warriors' desire to keep him were all up in the air. Supposedly him and Golden State were wavelengths apart on a new deal, as Davis wanted a 5 year pact worth around $13 million, which is what he got from the Clippers. The Warriors didn't want to guarantee anything more than two years, which is where the disconnect occurred.

Davis will now join a Clippers squad that has a nice young big man in Chris Kaman, and is trying to keep Elton Brand aboard. On the surface the Clippers look like they have the groundwork in place to be a contender in 2008-09. Baron Davis gives them that go-to scorer, and a play maker that they haven't had in some time. Davis was one of two players (Iverson), who played all 82 games last season and averaged at least 21 pts, and 7 assists a game. The Clippers are getting a pretty good bargain.

Now that I have spoken about Davis, I will get to the real point of this entry.
Why in the name of Jesus, is Gilbert Arenas getting an offer for 6 years and 127 million dollars?

Has Washington lost their minds? Or is Gilbert Arenas a
mega marketing machine? There has to be an underlying reason why Washington is about to cripple themselves by giving Arenas, in excess of 20 million dollars a year for six years. With that deal Washington, in essence, is taking themselves out of the running for any type of noteworthy free agents unless these guys want to go to Washington for the mid level exception.

Don't get me wrong, Arenas is a good player but a few reasons why this contract makes me scratch my head:

1. Arenas isn't even the best player on his team right now. Caron Butler is. Butler is the number one option on the team.

2. Arenas is a one dimensional, shoot first shooting guard trapped in a point guard's body who has the worst shot selection in the league, plays about as much defense as a turnstile, and offers nothing by way of leadership.

3. Do you realize that with 127 million, you could arguably sign BOTH Baron Davis and Josh Smith (Obviously Davis is off the market now but he went for 65 million, and Josh Smith will probably go for around the same amount)

4. Are you really going to win a championship with Gilbert Arenas as your 'best player'? Most teams who win titles have a force at C or PF to be reckoned with. Washington doesn't have that, and as long as Arenas is there sucking their cap dry, unless Brendan Haywood turns into something he is not, they never will have that necessary requirement.

5. 127 million dollars is a whole lot of money in a sport with a salary cap, for a guy who you aren't sure you can win a title with. For the record I do not think Gilbert Arenas is a championship caliber player.

6. These type of contracts are reserved for great players. Arenas isn't a great player, never has been.

Obviously, players who put up 28 PPG, 6 APG and 5 RPG don't grow on trees which is why Arenas, who is a good player, is still a valuable commodity. But, valuable enough to mess up your salary cap for several years to come while having no room to sign any noteworthy FAs? I don't think so
. With the current structure of the team (no big man), they aren't going to win a title anyway. Why not let him go? Try and trade for a Raymond Felton type of PG, sign Josh Smith with the money you save and go to war with that. That would make more sense then committing $127 million to a guy who just came off knee surgery, and plays the way Arenas does.

I believe the Wizards are dropping the ball with this one, as it reeks of a business decision more so than a basketball one.