Friday, November 02, 2007

Caveat Emptor

Buyer beware.

Everyone has something to sell. Everyone. Me? I'm trying to sell the idea that I might indeed have a clue as to what I'm writing about...not everyone buys, particularly not my wife.

At least retail is honest about it. For the rest of us...well, let's just say you have to pay closer attention to what's being sold...

Let's go through some of the people and groups making sales pitches out there -

Scott Boras/Alex Rodriguez - A-Rod is the car that Boras is trying to sell. He's like a Jaguar- a sleek, pretty bauble of a car with a 12 cylinder engine that has a tendency to crap out on you at the worst possible moment. In 2004 when the Yankees needed a $30 million bat to save them from Mo Rivera's struggles, A-Rod disappeared like J.D. Salinger from the public eye.

Buyers need to beware of the slick, used-car salesman Boras, and his shiny toy of a product, A-Rod. Consider - even in a (contract) year in which A-Rod set career highs in RBI's (156), OBP (.422), and slugging (.645), hit the second most homers (54), and third highest batting average (.314), Boras is going out of his way to get potential buyers to NOT look at his client's post-season failings in that same career year - in a year in which A-Rod led the league in RBI's, he knocked in one in this year's post season.

So during a season in which A-Rod averaged an RBI per every 3.7 at bats, he had one in 15 during the postseason. Even adding in the 8 he had during the 2004 playoffs, this is what he has done in baseball's second season since then - 9 RBI's in 94 at bats, or one for every 10.4 at bats. For his career he has knocked in a run for every 4.9 at bats in the regular season, that has dropped off to one for every 8.6 at bats in the postseason, a number that has gotten progressively worse with each passing season.

This doesn't include the following facts that I have mentioned in other posts - for the first three seasons after A-Rod left Seattle, the team averaged in the vicinity of 10 more wins per season; after he left Texas, they averaged eight more wins per season; the Yankees have average almost four fewer per season, decreasing from 111 wins per year to 94 this year. And, here's the kicker, he has failed to help any team he has been on advance to the World Series. Buyer beware.

The first half of the Patriots schedule - What they are trying to sell? Professional football. How? By complaining that the Patriots are doing things they shouldn't scoring a lot. The people who need to beware? The fan-bases of the Jets, Dolphins, Cowboys, Chargers, Bills, Bengals, Redskins and Browns. Really, the fans of the Cowboys, Jets, Dolphins, and Redskins in particular.

Those teams, those four mentioned at the bottom of that last paragraph, were the ones that started the complaints of how the Patriots are playing offense this year (well, the Jets complained about something else, and maybe they should be more worried about what's happening on the field than on the sideline - if this were European soccer, they and the Dolphins would be well on their way to playing in a semi-pro league). One Redskin, who shall remain unnamed in this post, accused the Patriots of disrespecting the game in an effort to deflect attention from the fact that what the Patriots really disrespected was the Redskins highly regarded defense.

As just about every former coach, player, and most pundits have said - there's no mercy rule in the NFL, if you don't like a team scoring on you, then do something about it. Rolling over and playing dead when you get down by a couple of touchdowns is what really disrespects the game.


The National Press - The national press, in an effort to build up this weekend's game between the Pats and Colts, are trying to sell the Patriots as the evil empire with the merciless coach who won't take his foot off the pedal once he's driven the opposition into the ground. The Colts are the perennial good guys of the league with the owner doing everything he can to make a stadium happen in his host city, and the brilliant, but nice head coach in Tony Dungy.

Let's look at some of the facts in this - yes, the Patriots are running the score up on people and annihilating their opponents. However, it's not like the Colts under Dungy have never done this. The following was ganked from the Boston Globe's Eric Wilbur, via Dave at The Coffin Corner -

W, 49-14
W, 41-10
W, 41-9
W, 51-24
That quartet of one-sided scores comes to you courtesy of the 2004 Indianapolis Colts from a November-December period during which Peyton Manning and Company annihilated the Texans, Bears, Lions, and Titans, respectively. And, you know it's funny, I don't remember one person whining about them running up the score.

Tony Dungy, the good-guy coach in all of this, did not call off the dogs. Dungy has also publicly associated himself with groups that have well known anti-gay stances (but I suppose that's okay, because everyone knows that on one is gay in the locker room). Focus on Family, the group with which Dungy is most closely associated has been referred to by a number of people as "rabidly anti-gay." Last I checked, Bill Belichick has never aligned himself with any hate groups that hide behind a thin veil of legitimacy by claiming to be family advocates.

Let's look at Jim Irsay - still public enemy number one in Baltimore. Still the only owner that gets more of a rise out of Baltimore fans that Peter Angelos. For those who have forgotten, Irsay, the so-called nice guy owner, packed the Colts up in the dead of night and broke his lease with Baltimore County in an effort to move the team to Indy. Irsay did this against league wishes. Yeah, he's a good guy.

I have no personal issue with the Colts on the field. Manning is a supremely talented quarterback (please take a cue from Brady and cut back on the public endorsements - its annoying enough to make me look forward to seeing you get your head handed to you). The team is talented. However, the general manager and owner have whined whenever things didn't go their way, the head coach is a bigot, and the press is selling a serious double standard here.

Once again...buyer beware.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Flipping the calendar page

'Tis the Day of the Dead, November 1, a holy day of renewal in Mexico's particular brand of Catholicism and time to remember the past while moving on. And that has absolutely nothing to do with the rest of this post...I just wanted to mention that today was the Day of the Dead. Hats off to ya, Mr. Romero.

The first item I wanted to address today is the report that Martina Hingis is retiring from tennis amid allegations of cocaine use which include a positive test of both A and B samples taken during her recent run at Wimbledon. Hingis, of course, denies the allegations, and even hired a lab to perform a test, clearing her name. Unfortunately, even if she is telling the truth, there is doubt in as much as her money paid for the test clearing her name. Would the lab get paid if it didn't clear her.

Honestly, I've always liked Hingis. Admittedly, I'm not much of a tennis fan, but I was always surprised that she didn't land the endorsement deals that Anna Kournikova did. Hingis is an attractive woman that was at the top of the tennis world at one point -arguably the best player over a one year span in the women's game.

Unfortunately, I have a problem with the way she is responding to this - enough of a problem that I think it's likely that she's been caught with the straw up her nose. This is what she said when the report hit the wire -

"I find this accusation so horrendous, so monstrous that I've decided to confront it head on by talking to the press," she said. "I am frustrated and angry. I believe that I am absolutely 100 percent innocent."

She believes she's innocent? Believe? No, when you are innocent, you don't tell somebody you believe you're innocent like you're waiting for proof to the contrary. You state unequivocally, "I am innocent, and these allegations are ridiculous."

There's just something about this that doesn't pass the smell test from her end.

Some other quick hits -

We'll know within the next week whether or not Pacman Jones will be returning to football this season. Tomorrow the Titans' problem child will meet with Roger Goodell in order to state his case for reinstatement. Considering some of the bone-headed, potentially contract-cancelling issues he engaged in with professional wrestling, there may be some issues. Goodell might also look at the fact that Jones has kept off the police blotter favorably. It should be interesting, to say the least.

Speaking of police, is there any doubt that the issues in Andy Reid's personal life have had an impact on the way he runs the Eagles? For the first time in years, Reid's Eagles look horrible, and about as unlikely to make the playoffs as the Jets, Dolphins, Bengals, or Rams. All of this has coincided with a series of drug issues tied to both his sons. Could this be the first step towards an unceremonious exit from the league for Reid? It certainly would be if he were a player and the same thing were happening.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Reality check

From Redskins defensive lineman Phillip Daniels about this past weekend's 52-7 thrashing at the hands of the Patriots - "That's running up the score, there isn't any other way to look at that. C'mon, man, you're going for it on fourth down and you're up by 38 points. You're throwing the ball late in the game. Most teams just run the clock out to get the win. They don't think like that, but I guess it's our job to stop them. You can't do anything about it, just go out and play defense and try to stop them."

Daniels went on to say that he talked to Belichick after the game, accusing the Patriots coach of having no respect for the game, and saying that coaches like Bill Parcells and Bill Walsh would never have run up the score that way. Part of the point being that the old-school coaches wouldn't run the score up on anyone.

Let's take a quick look at a sampling of what Walsh did during his tenure (1979-1988) with the 'Niners (gotta love having the NFL Record & Fact Book) -

Beat the following by the following scores -
Minn, 1988, 34-9
Seattle, 1988 38-7
Tampa, 1986 31-7
Wash, 1985 35-8
Dallas, 1981 45-14
Dallas, 1983 42-17

Average margin of victory in just this cross-section? 27.2 points per game (ppg).

And of course his protege, George Seifert annihilated the Broncos in the Super Bowl in '89 (the year after Walsh retired from coaching) 55-10, after beating the Rams (30-3) and Vikings (41-13) in the playoffs. Average margin? 33.3.

Speaking of Dallas, how about the old-school coach Tom Landry -

San Fran, 1980 59-14
Seattle, 1980 51-7
Denver, 1980 41-20

Average margin? 36.7.

As for Parcells -

St Louis, 1985 34-3
Phoenix, 1988 44-7

Average margin? 34.

Gibbs himself ran up the score on the Falcons in a 1985 contest to the tune of 44-10 and again in 1991 with the result an impressive 56-17 for an average in those two contests of 36.5 ppg. And this doesn't include the 42-17 thrashing Gibbs put on Belichick's Browns in 1991.

People are talking a lot right now about payback for running up the score. Belichick has a long memory, and I think Gibbs just got that payback. It's a bitch, ain't it.

As for Daniels...know your football history before shooting your mouth off, fool.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Champions and looking forward...

"Dustin Pedroia and Jon Lester are doing something Alex has never done - play in a World Series game," said Peter Gammons last night about newly minted free-agent Alex Rodriguez. "It might be a little bit of a 'buyer beware'. Because, again, he has never played in a World Series game - maybe there's a reason."

Think about that statement from Gammons - the so-called best player in baseball has never helped a team get to the World Series. Never.

On a night when the Sox clinched the World Series in a sweep for the second time in four seasons, A-Rod's agent Scott Boras announced that the Yankees third baseman was opting out of his contract. Never mind that there was no reason this announcement couldn't wait until this morning. In a clear effort by Boras to, in some way, keep the focus on his client rather than the World Series, A-Rod and/or his agent engaged in a classless move there, making the announcement during game four. Gammons himself referred to the incident as a complete lack of respect for the game of baseball.

Let's face it, the best thing to happen to the Red Sox in the last five years was the MLB Player's Association nixing the contract renegotiation between the Red Sox and the would-be Red Sox short stop. The Sox would have sent Manny Ramirez - the Manny of the almost .500 post season batting average - for A-Rod, who has been brutally bad during baseball's second season. Where would the Sox be with A-Rod's anemic post-season bat in the middle of the line-up instead of ManRam's?

I'm guessing, as Red Sox fans, the Nation would still be waiting for the first World Series title since 1918.

Once each of his previous teams, the Mariners and the Rangers, rid themselves of A-Rod, those teams averaged somewhere around eight more wins per season for the first three seasons after Rodriguez's departure. The Yankees averaged 96.75 wins per season with A-Rod. The three seasons prior to his arrival? 99.67. Sure, a drop-off of three games per year isn't huge, but it's still a drop off and when combined with the following fact, it's a serious indictment of what his impact on a team really is - for the three seasons he played for the Rangers, Texas won 73, 72, and 71 games respectively (the Yankees won 101 his first season with the team, a total down to 94 this season), but for the first three seasons after A-Rod left the confines of Arlington, the Rangers 89, 79, and 80 games respectively - an average improvement of eight games per year.

Theo - stay the hell away from A-Rod! Let the Giants go get him. Resign Mike Lowell...hell, move Lugo to third. Whatever you do, don't sign A-Rod.

As for Lowell - congratulations to the World Series MVP. I'm glad you won, man, considering you probably won't win AL MVP in a season where you picked up the slack for an ailing pair of sluggers in Big Papi and ManRam. You might have been the most important piece at the plate for the BoSox this season. I hope to see you back again next year. If not, then thanks for one incredible run from a guy that the Marlins thought was done and was a throw-in in the Beckett deal.

I said it before and I'll say it again - hey Curt, thanks again, big guy. It's been almost a century since we had two titles in baseball and you were integral to bringing us two this decade. Good luck wherever you end up next year - you're never going to have to pay for another drink anywhere in Red Sox Nation again.

It was tough to see Okajima run out of gas those last two games, but what a way to crank through the Rockies in game two, when the Sox were hanging onto a one-run lead. It didn't feel like anyone on the roster failed to contribute. Hell, Bobby Kielty, the late-season addition on the bench for the stretch run, hit a pinch-hit game winning homer. The Red Sox rookies, Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia sparked the top of the line-up.

They were clicking on all cylinders for four games, and now it's time for the amphibious vehicles to drive the Sox through the Back Bay.

The Monster of the Mid-Way...

Somewhere along the line the Patriots signed a career back-up line-backer away from the Pittsburgh Steelers and he became the best 'backer on one of the top defenses in the NFL.

For all the talk about Adalius Thomas coming to the team (and don't get me wrong, it was an important signing), Vrabel has been a beast. In yesterday's 52-7 thrashing of the Secondstrings, I'm sorry, I mean Redskins, Vrabel caught a pass for a touchdown, accounted for 11 tackles, three sacks for 20 yards in losses, and forced three fumbles - one on each sack.

Vrabel currently leads the team with 7.5 sacks (a pace to get 15 for the season), and is second on the team with 42 total tackles (Tedy Bruschi leads with 49).

Marketing faux-pas...

One last note before I get some sleep because my two-month old is finally napping...

The autumn after the NFL cancelled NFL Europe, the league played their first ever regular season game on European soil in order to expand the game's fan base. After watching yesterday's exercise in tedium at London's Wembley Stadium, a place where NFL Europe abandoned for lack of interest, the NFL did itself no favors and likely garnered no new fans.

From a marketing stand-point, why would the NFL even pick a Dolphins team that has been moribund for about half-a-decade in an effort to bring new fans to the table? And why London?

Originally the World League of American Football, and eventually NFL Europa, the league slowly, but surely migrated from London, to Scotland, to Germany. Why didn't this happen in Germany? There's already a fan base there, there are NFL ready stadiums there, and this would have been a great bone to throw to a German fan base that set an attendance record for NFLE this past spring.

Yes, I get that the idea that it's about growing the sport - but start with where there's already a foothold. Grow that fan-base a little more, ensure its loyalty, then move onto the more fringe areas.

And, fergodsakes, send them two quality teams.


Sunday, October 28, 2007


Welcome to post 300. Nothing special, just some thoughts on Sunday...

The NFC East is a division of frauds.

The Giants, the second best the division has to offer, barely scraped by the winless Dolphins in London with a 13-10 victory. The Eagles scored more than 20 for only the second time all season en route to their third victory of the season against four losses. The best the division had to offer dropped their contest with the Patriots by a 21 point margin.

Then there are the Redskins.

The trash talking Redskins. The Redskins that kept saying during the week that the Patriots had never faced a defense like theirs. A defense that had given up only 88 points through six games - an average of 14.7 points per game.

Today they were lit up to the tune of 52 points.

It was the fourth worst loss in the history of the Redskins - 52-7.

This is the division that most pundits think that will represent the NFC in the Super Bowl.

Right now the division doesn't even qualify to be called the not ready for prime-time players. In two games against potential playoff contenders, the Patriots have combined to score 100 points.


In the two games Tom Brady has passed for eight touchdowns, and quarterbacks have accounted for a total of 11 touchdowns (including rushing). Sixty-six points came from the QB position, twenty-two from the kicker, six from the defense, and six out of the running backs.

This was against a top ten defense.

I said it in a previous post, I don't feel that the 'Skins have put together that ranking against tough competition - and I think that, like the rest of their division, they've just been exposed.

On the brink...

Of a Rocky Mountain winter...

The problem with Cinderella stories is that at some point the clock strikes midnight. Somewhere in Colorado a bell tower has chimed for the eleventh time, the twelfth chime is only seconds away.

The Rockies' offense showed signs of life for the first time during the World Series last night. Unfortunately, for the second time in three games Colorado's pitching didn't show. Through three games, Colorado has scored a total of seven runs to the Red Sox 25.

With Jon Lester on the mound, the Rockies have their best chance of taking a game from the Sox...but only if they get the pitching performance from their starter and bullpen that they got in game two. Otherwise, the celebrations will begin from Abington to Yarmouth.

It will be the second time this decade that the Sox will have won MLB's championship - the only team that will be able to claim multiple World Series wins since the start of the century in 2001. It gives me a warm fuzzy that the Sox will have won two titles since the last time the Yankees won one - and boy is that franchise looking dysfunctional right about now.

For Yankees fans that think next year is going to be the year, get a reality check - they are carrying an aging, prone to break-down, erratic first-baseman/DH in Jason Giambi. They have a left-fielder in Johnny Damon who's another year older and also having his share of health problems, they might have issues retaining their best catcher in Posada who had a career year heading into free-agency. The Bronx brain-trust plans on pulling Chamberlain out of an already undermanned/overworked bullpen and into the rotation - and all of this is just the tip of the ice-berg.

Get used to the following term in New York - rebuilding.

As for Colorado - there's a lot of young talent over there. If this year wasn't just the serendipitous convergence of career years, the Rockies should contend for some time to come. Like a bad horror film villain, they'll be back.

Lateral movement on the brink of defeat...

This has to be seen to be believed...Division III Trinity U. puts the nail in the coffin in the last 30 seconds for one helluva come-back.

Stern problems on the brink of irrelevance...

David Stern has officially sunk the NBA to a new level. After years of issues and accusations about games being fixed to get the best match-ups in the play-offs and finals it has come out that more than half of the NBA's 56 officials have violated the league's anti-gambling statutes.

Stern's reaction? He has decided that the rule is too out of date and needs to be changed.

Rather than remove the doubt that he could have up to 30 officials that might have been involved in fixing games, Stern has decided he wants to accommodate the officials' collective penchant for visiting casinos. Then to compound matters, Detroit Piston center Rasheed Wallace hits the press with the following rant -

"I still don't think they (Cavaliers) beat us, we beat ourselves," Wallace said. "And I think we also fell victim to that personal NBA thing where they are trying to make it a world game and get (television) ratings. They wanted to put their darling in there (the NBA Finals) and they did, and look what ended up happening.
"This game ain't basketball anymore, it's entertainment," Wallace said. "It's starting to get like the WWF. There ain't no real wrestling anymore either. It's all fake."

Yeah, this has been a good off-season for the NBA (note the sarcasm). After managing the league to unprecedented popularity in the 1990's Stern is now managing basketball into the ground - above and beyond the image problems caused by players like Allen Iverson, the infamous Portland "Jailblazers," and the thugs involved in the incident in Detroit a few years ago (author Jeff Benedict, writer of the book Out of Bounds: Inside the NBA's Culture of Rape, Violence & Crime, said in 2004 that 40 percent of NBA players have criminal records - that's two players out of every starting five in the league, not including the bench). This is who the NBA is trying to market to people who have to pay on average $51.00 to get a seat to a game.

Not exactly a great group to market to the people that can afford half-a-C-note to go see a game (and that doesn't even include parking, so think more like $70.00, $75.00 per game).

What do you suppose the over-under is on when the NBA starts to feel like the NHL?