Saturday, May 28, 2011

Old Man Wilpon Is a Dick and So Is Jeffrey Toobin.


Go see them.

Of all the troubles plaguing the Mets (The recurring injuries, a "Yosemite Sam"-minded owner, possible actionable ties to the Maddoff Ponzi scandal) low attendance is the most embarrassing and the most imperiling.
The first baseball game I ever saw in a park was at Shea. I didn't enjoy it much, despite the fact that the fans were absolutely insane about the team. The Mets got destroyed by the Houston Astros. On the ride home, I muttered "Mets suck" under my breath, and my uncle heard it. My uncle insisted on explaining the history of baseball in New York to me, and how the Mets were important because they brought the living legacy of National league back to New York City.
At times, I still cannot believe that the Dodgers, the Giants, and the Yankees all played in New York for decades... and when you look at what happened in the 30s, 40s, and 50s, -well let's just say that the sudden disappearance of the National League from New York in 1957 is stupid and baffling, and arguments for relocating the Hall the Fame to the old Polo Grounds are less so.
Sure, it may feel a little weird walking into Citi Field and seeing a shrine to Jackie Robinson at the entrance, -because it's not as if the Dodgers organiztion no longer exists (although some people in Brooklyn would insist otherwise.) The point remains that a game, an entertainment business took it upon itself to racially desegregate ahead of the nation, and it happened in National League baseball in New York. Some say, it couldn't have happened anywhere else, with any other team, with any other man other than Jackie Robinson.
I agree.
So why not have a church, as it were, built to comemorate Ebbets Field. Why not have a giant number 42 in the hall, dwarfing all visitors with the weight of history. The Dodgers organization went on to the West (Blame Robert Moses for that by the way, Walter O'Malley did what he had to do,) but they can't have taken what happened here with them anymore than they could take the fans of Brooklyn along with them. Jackie Robinson, as you may well remember, didn't go out West with the Dodgers and instead decided to retire as player for Brooklyn.

But back to the current standard bearers of the National League in New York City: 10 days ago, the Mets were playing like the superstars that their fans "gotta believe" that they are. In Steinbrenneresque fashion, Fred Wilpon put down his team's most notable players (Did Dave Wright really deserve that bullshit?) Jeffrey Toobin who interveiwed Wilpon for the New Yorker piece just shrugged it off as candor...
Well not really.
Let's be clear, even in sports, an area of human cultural focus largely (some would pretend entirely) and rigidly regulated by math and statistics, there is no such thing as "just being honest." You can be as factual as your knowledge allows, you can be blunt, you can be biased, you can be cruel, you can be unfair and still be dealing in the "facts."
The truth is: It's a long season in baseball. It always is. Whatever George Steinbrenner's ghost may have to say on the matter, you don't get to the All Star break in good form with the boss saying you suck or that you are overrated. There is so much more baseball (frustratingly so) to be played by this latest generation's assembly of elite players, that no one can honestly appraise a team's valor, fortunes or worth without conceding that they really don't know who is going to win a given series, a given division, or even a single game.

After all that's why we still watch.

The Mets don't suck if you're a fan, and Jeffrey Toobin of The New Yorker claims he's a fan. So to him, Fred Wilpon and all the fair weather supporters of this team in the media: This is New York, not LA.
It's only the end of May for cryin' out loud. Boston's in first as I write this.

I'm a life long Yankee fan, and I'm telling you to go.
Go see the Mets.

Go as soon as you can.
It's one of the best new stadiums in baseball (jets flying overhead notwithstanding) and it's a team that could, at any moment, play great baseball, -and recently did for quite a stretch.

If that's not excitement in sports, I don't know what is.
-SJ

Friday, February 19, 2010

By the Tail

Tiger Woods apologized on national TV today for his indiscretions. His "press conference" today was unbelievably carried live by every major network. I'm guessing that the only other person who could command that kind of coverage is the President. And even he has a tough time getting complete coverage from Fox News. He said all the right things and was sufficiently contrite and the analysts were quick to either praise him or bury him. All in all I think it was very consistent with what Tiger has done throughout his entire career. It was a very controlled and orchestrated event. Tiger seldom does anything were he does not have complete control and today was no different.

The bleeding has stopped. There have not been any other women coming out of the wood works to tell of their encounters with Tiger. I can't be certain, but I'm sure that involved a few pay offs to keep people quiet. I personally don't care if Tiger Woods has sex with a million women. I never looked to him as anything other than an amazing golfer. Hopefully he gets back out on the golf course soon. That is all that matters to me. I have said before that the public loves to beg for their "heroes" to apologize for their indiscretions. I have heard many an analyst say things like "if he'd only just admit it, the public will forgive him". Of course once that athlete comes out and says that he's guilty and that he's sorry, the press are first in line to crucify him.

I personally don't buy the fact that Tiger needs to be rehabilitated. He was the world's best golfer while engaged in these activities and I have no doubt that he'll be the world's best golfer if he's trying to restrain from those extracurricular activities. His decisions will be his alone. All the treatment in the world won't help him if he wants to continue his old ways. If he wants to be monogamous then he will, if he doesn't, he won't. He doesn't have a disease. He's a really rich and famous man who doesn't have to put much effort into attracting the attention of women. That's not going to change now. All the rehab in the world is not going to make him less well known or less of a target. Tiger isn't sick, he's an arrogant jerk. There's a big difference. I'm not sure that "talking" to someone about this is going to make much difference. His sense of entitlement will probably win out eventually. That however is a matter for him and his wife to deal with. For the rest of us, I think having the greatest golfer in the world, on the course and playing well, is going to have to be enough.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Quick Post

I know it's been a very long time since I posted anything here, but I thought I'd drop by for a quick note. I have watched about 10 Yankee games this season and I'm pretty sure that they are not going to make the playoffs this year. It's all about pitching, defense and clutch hitting. The Yankees have very little of these. The bullpen is an absolute disaster, the starting pitching is mediocre to terrible. The failure rate with runners in scoring position is astronomical and the defense, while not particularly error prone, is far from stellar. That's about it. They are not terrible, but I don't see them winning more than the 89 games they won last year.

Friday, March 07, 2008

This is the End

Brett Favre announced his retirement in a tearful press conference yesterday. The press covered as though Lou Gehrig was announcing that he was retiring because he had a terminal disease. Bret Favre has long been one of the most self centered athletes in sports and I will certainly not miss him come the fall. His yearly tease of the Packers with his "will he retire or not" nonsense has cost the Packers a few years of development of their QB of the future. I have no idea whether Aaron Rodgers can lead the Packers to playoff glory and thanks to Brett Favre, neither do the Packers.

Somehow Sports Illustrated saw fit to name this former drug abuser it's sportsman of the year. I haven't seen a less inspiring choice since they picked the steroid twins (Sosa and McGwire) as their co-winners in 1998. Somehow the press seemed to buy that "I'm just a good old boy from Mississippi" line. After all, he didn't know no better. They gave him drugs and he just kept on taking them. Also, his badgering of teammates to sign contracts instead of holdout was pretty easy for someone with one of the richest contracts in NFL history. I never heard him say that he would be willing to donate some of his own contract to help the team sign one of those players.

Brett Favre stayed around until he broke Dan Marino's records for TD's and yardage. The fact that the Packers were very competitive this year was as much a shock to him as it was to everyone else. He could not have thought that his team, which was coming off a losing season and didn't sign any major free agents, would make it to the NFC championship game. He came back to break the records, the rest was just gravy. And now with no more records to break (he could continue to add to his all time record for passes intercepted), the 19th rated QB of all time (behind such legends as Marc Bulger and Jeff Garcia) will quietly retire to his estate in Mississippi. So long Brett, and try to stay away from the Vicodin if you can.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Live from New York...

Hello everyone. I am sorry that I have been away for a while. I've spent my time covering the political season over on my other blog, Random Thoughts (feel free to take a look if you'd like), but I'm back and ready for March Madness and the baseball season. Hopefully I haven't lost everyone who used to come by (I'm sure the people searching for midget sex games are still regular visitors). I don't really have anything more to add today. I just wanted to say that it's good to be back.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Beast of the East

The New York Mets won the Johan Santana sweepstakes with a package of prospects for the former Cy Young award winner. They have until tomorrow to finalize a contract extension that would bring Santana to New York. It's an amazing coup for Omar Minaya the Mets GM and Mets fans, who had to suffer through a historic collapse of their team down the stretch last season. In fact in Vegas, the Mets are now the second betting favorite to win the World Series.

There are many who are saying that the Twins GM overplayed his hand and ended up with less than he could have gotten originally from the Red Sox or Yankees. On the surface that cerainly appears to be true. Both the Red Sox and Yankees were offering players who are major league ready and are projected to have higher ceilings that any of the players that the Twins eventually got from the Mets. Of course we have seen many "can't miss" prospects who have failed to live up to their billing and many others with less than stellar minor league careers become stars on the big league level. For instance both Robinson Cano and Chien Ming Wang were offered to Arizona in the Randy Johnson deal but they passed on both of them. It is almost impossible to predict how a players career will end up based on their minor league careers. The Mets had a trio of young minor league pitchers in the nineties (Bill Pulsipher, Jason Isringhausen and Paul Wilson) that were supposed to be the cornerstone of their franchise for the next decade. However, all three ended up with major injuries to their pitching arms and only one (Jason Isringhauser) has become a good major leaguer albeit in a different role than anticipated and for a different team.

The Yankees and Red Sox eventually both pulled back their best offers after the Twins GM kept on asking for more. In truth, I don't think that the Red Sox were really that interested in acquiring Santana. They were mostly interested in making sure that the Yankees didn't get him or in driving up the price that the Yankeees would have to pay. Once the Yankees pulled their offer, I think the Red Sox lost interest in making a deal. That left the Mets as practically the only game in town. Santana is in the last year of his contract and the team that traded for him would have to be willing to make him an offer in excess of $20 million a year for 6 or 7 years. That limited the number of teams that the Twins could talk to. The Oakland A's got a better package from the Diamondbacks when they traded Dan Haren earlier this offseason mainly because he isn't eligible for free agency for another three years. In the end the Twins management clearly decided that they had to make the deal before spring training to avoid a media circus. The problem was that once they finally came to that decision, the only firm offer left on the table was from the Mets.

With this trade, the Mets now set themselves up as not only the best team in the eastern division, but perhaps the best team in the National League. The Phillies big move in the offseason was to add the mercurial closer Brad Lidge. The Braves added the ancient Tom Glavine to their pitching staff. The Cubs added an unknown quanitity in picking up an outfielder from Japan. The Diamondbacks with the addition of Dan Haren are the only team that can claim to have improved their pitching staff as much as the Mets have. The Mets rotation, which returns two young 15 game winners, a supposedly healed Pedro Martinez and the ageless wonder El Duque can now stake a claim to being the leagues best and deepest rotation. This trade also helps the Mets in their neverending battle with their crosstown rivals for the back pages of the NY tabloids.

On it's face, this trade appears to be a slam dunk win for the Mets and Omar Minaya. It's the kind of bold move that will help the fans forget the dissappointment of blowing a 7 game lead in the final weeks of last season. Like all other fans they can now look toward spring training with a feeling of renewed hope. Unlike the fans of most teams however, they do have more of a reason to think that 2008 will be their year.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Winter Doldrums

I have to apologize to anyone who is a regular reader of this blog. I have been sadly under performing for the past couple of months. Unfortunately we are in the middle of what I not so lovingly refer to as the DEAD ZONE! We have a couple of months before the baseball season starts and the NCAA Tournament doesn't begin until March, the Football season is in their annual two weak hiatus before ending for the year and really does anyone care about the NBA or the NHL until the playoffs begin?

I have been searching for topics to write about, but I haven't really been able to come up with much. I could write about the big off season trades that have taken place, but there really haven't been any with huge pennant race implications. The free agent market was pretty lackluster this year, so I haven't really had much to talk about their either. I almost feel as if I've run out of good topics to write about.

Of course I usually feel this way at this time of year. Thankfully Valentine's Day is only a couple of weeks away. And, no, I'm not feeling particularly romantic this year, but February 14th only means one thing (and I'm not talking about once again letting down your wife or girlfriend with some crappy candy or cheesy flower arrangement); I am, of course referring to that wonderful day that will once again bring a ray of sunshine into our otherwise dull and dreary lives; Pitchers and Catchers will be reporting to spring training! Our thoughts will once again turn to spring and summer days and the endless possibilities of the season ahead. Every team is a contender and every player is a possible all-star. It is perhaps the most hopeful of seasons (I'm referring to Spring Training as a season, which is really funny since it starts in the middle of Winter) when everything is possible and the world looks a little brighter.

I'm certain that my entries will pick up again in February. Until then, keep the faith and just keep saying to yourself, "It just doesn't matter, it just doesn't matter" (by the way, I promise a personal mention in my next blog to the first person to correctly name the movie referred to in the quote. See you soon and keep fighting the good fight.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Long Overdue

In my first post of the year (long overdue), I'm thrilled to be able to do something that I should have been able to do years ago and that is congratulate Rich "Goose" Gossage on his election to the hall of fame (long overdue). In a column last January about the Hall of Fame vote, I mentioned that I hoped that I would be able to write a congratulatory note to Goose this year and thankfully the voters finally got it right.

I've said it before, but I'll say it again, Goose was the best closer that I have ever seen; Mariano Rivera and Trevor Hoffman not withstanding. Gossage now ranks 17th on the all time saves list as the modern closer has been reduced to a one inning pitcher. I would dare say that if Gossage had been used that way, he would be quite a bit higher on the list. He ranks third all time in saves of 2 or more innings. In the famous playoff game against the Red Sox in '78, he came into the game with one out in the seventh inning. Can you imagine a manager today asking his closer to get eight outs to end a game? I was actually watching that game and certainly don't remember thinking that I would have rather that Billy martin bring in the set up guy and save Gossage for the 9th inning. The game was on the line and Billy put in the best pitcher that he had in the bullpen.

Rich Gossage was named on 86% of the ballots this year which was an double digit increase from last year. I always wonder what the voters who just decided that they would vote for him this year were thinking in previous years. Did he somehow get better overnight? Did he go out and pitch a few more games? If he's a Hall of famer this year, then he was a hall of famer last year. There has always been a barrier to relievers getting into the hall, but I believe that now they have corrected one of their greatest injustices. There are now five pitchers who spent the majority of their careers as relievers who have been inducted into the hall of fame, Hoyt Wilhelm, Rollie Fingers, Dennis Eckersley, Bruce Sutter and Goose. I'm assuming that Mariano and Hoffman will join them someday in the not too distant future.

So once again, I say congratulations, Goose. You've had to wait far too long. I'll always remember a summer day at the stadium when you came into a game in the 9th inning with the bases loaded and struck out the side on 11 pitches. Pure power pitching at it's best. Thanks for the memories and the saves. I hope you enjoy induction ceremony in Cooperstown this summer, even if is long overdue.

Monday, December 31, 2007

2007

It's time for my yearly wrap up. I wasn't particularly thrilled with much in sports this year. I enjoyed the baseball season, but the ending was not what I had in mind. The year was so uninspiring in fact that Sports Illustrated named Brett Favre it's sportsman of the year. Now Brett and the Packers are having a good year, but seriously, he hasn't done anything out of the ordinary this year. Brett did break the all time passing yardage record this year, but I wouldn't say that it would be on par with breaking the all time home run record. It would be more like SI naming Rickey Henderson the SOY after he broke the all time walks record or all time runs scored record. The home run record was broken this year, but as has been rehashed many times in the press and on this blog, there were many reasons why that was not a joyous occasion. Momentous yes, joyous no.

The Year started out with Peyton Manning and the Colts finally getting the monkey off their back by winning a superbowl. Actually, the more I think about it, Tony Dungy should have been the SOY. He was not only the first black coach to win the Superbowl, but his story of perseverance after the tragic loss of his son should have been enough to put him over the top. It's a better story than Brett Favre has to tell.

The Spurs won the NBA championship again. It was predictable and boring. I'm guessing that if they hadn't already given Duncan the SOY a few years ago, he would have taken it home this year. Florida won the men's NCAA crown in football and basketball. That was an unprecedented accomplishment.

The biggest "sports" story this year was the Mitchell report. It's a sad commentary when the biggest story of the year is about the abuse of illegal drugs by professional athletes. In the end, I think that 2007 will be remembered most for the fact that Hank Aaron's record was broken under a cloud of suspicion and controversy.

That's it for this year. I had a meager output of only 100 posts this year. I hope to do better next year, but I do want to thank the people who come back on a regular basis to check out my sometimes incoherent rambling. So thank you Sandy, Louise, Craig, Denise and Jeff. I'm sure there are more, but unfortunately, I don't know your names, but I do appreciate the support. Thanks to the folks at Replacement Level Yankees and The Chuck Knoblog for adding me to your links and keep up the good work.

That's it everyone. I hope you have a happy and safe New Year's celebration and I'll be back to rant and rave in '08.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Finger Pointing

Curt Schilling found the time to write a long article on his blog about the Mitchell report and specifically about Roger Clemens. Here's a quote from the article,

"From that point on the numbers were attained through using [performance-enhancing drugs]. Just like I stated about Jose [Canseco], if that is the case with Roger, the four Cy Youngs should go to the rightful winners, and the numbers should go away if he cannot refute the accusations."

I think that Clemens is clearly in a bad situation, but as I stated in a previous article, the "evidence" against Clemens in the Mitchell report would not hold up in a court of law. In fact, the only evidence against him is the word of a former employee. Curt Schilling is someone who can't help but give his opinion regardless of the topic and whether he's qualified to comment. His views on the war in Iraq are well known (and are ridiculous), as are his holier than thou comments regarding steroid use. How exactly is Clemens supposed to be able to refute statements about something that supposedly happened with only two people in the room? Roger can deny the allegations, but he cannot absolutely refute them. Unless someone with a video camera was recording Roger's life 24/7 for the time when he was supposedly using steroids, then there is no way for him to absolutely refute the charges. His vehement denial is already on the record, but that isn't going to stop the tidal wave of articles or turn public opinion in his direction. Those two people now have differing opinions about what happened and that's probably how things will stand unless one of them decides to change their story.

I'm not here to defend Roger Clemens. At this point I think his legacy is tarnished forever. His hall of fame induction is in doubt and everything he did on the field after leaving the Red Sox is being viewed in a very different light. Roger will have to answer the accusations made against him at some point (perhaps under oath in a congressional hearing), but it's not Curt Schilling's place to demand that Roger to do something that is, for all intents and purposes, impossible.

It wouldn't surprise me one bit if one day Schilling himself is accused of steroid use. After all, he did enjoy the best seasons of his career at ages 34, 35 and 37. How rare is it for a pitcher to win 20 games three times after turning 34 when he had never won 20 games previously? Rare enough that Schilling is the only pitcher in history ever to have turned that particular trick. I'm not accusing Schilling of anything, but if you look at the numbers, you have to wonder just a little bit. Don't you?

Friday, December 14, 2007

Also...

Just so that all the Red Sox fans out there don't get on their high horse about their "clean" team, here's a report on Eric Gagne from a Red Sox scout that was sent to Theo Epstein during the 2006 off season

"Some digging on Gagne and steroids IS the issue. Has had a checkered medical past throughout career including minor leagues. Lacks the poise and commitment to stay healthy, maintain body and re invent self. What made him a tenacious closer was the max effort plus stuff ... Mentality without the plus weapons and without steroid help probably creates a large risk in bounce back durability and ability to throw average while allowing the change-up to play as it once did ... Personally, durability (or lack of) will follow Gagne ..."

The scout was responding to a email from Theo in which he asked, "Have you done any digging on Gagne? I know the Dodgers" -- not to mention everybody else in the world -- "think he was a steroid guy. Maybe so. What do you hear on his medical?"

The Red Sox traded for Gagne nine months later even though they had this report in house plus their own suspicion beforehand. That shows just how much how much baseball owners and management care about steroid abuse. It's all about winning and the money that comes with that. Even for the now sainted Red Sox.

Something in the Mitchell report that seems to have gotten lost in all the Roger Clemens talk is that the GM of the San Fransisco Giants was made aware in 2002 of the fact that Barry Bonds' personal trainer was a steroid dealer and did nothing about it. Here's something that I wrote when the investigation was first reported:

I understand that George Mitchell has a great reputation for being far and tough, but why would Bud even risk the appearance of bias? What happens if he finds evidence that the owner of the Giants knew that Bonds was taking steroids? Will he want to indict one of his fellow owners? Would he want to take down someone from his own fraternity?

Apparently he did find proof that someone high up in Giants management did know of the steroid connection, but that still wasn't reason enough for him to say that baseball ownership or management had any culpability in the steroid problem. Very interesting, don't you think?

Sound and Fury

The Mitchell Report was released yesterday and with it a firestorm of controversy has arisen. The report names names, most prominently Roger Clemens, and lays out a plan for addressing the abuse of PED's in baseball. Overall the report was a well intentioned effort to try and address the problems of PED's, but I think it missed the mark on more than a couple of points.

First of all Mitchell mentioned that the players, the union and the Commissioner's office were all to blame for this problem. While that is true, he forgot to mention another party that was implicit in this scandal. The owners are just as much to blame for this as the other parties that were named. It couldn't be because Mitchell is part owner of the Red Sox, could it? I've always thought that Mitchell wasn't impartial enough to head this assignment. The owners knew what was going on, but all they cared about was how much money they were making. And now according to this report they are blameless??? And what about the Red Sox team? According to this report over 10 former or current Yankees were abusers of PED's, but only one Red Sox player was named. Roger Clemens is named, but the alleged abuse only took place after he had already left the team. So according to the report, the Yankees World Series run was fueled by steroids. The Internet is already burning up with Red Sox fans talking about how the Yankees wins are invalid because they had steroid users on their team. I wrote about this when the investigation was first announced and I stick by everything I said then. A report by an INDEPENDENT investigator would have been much more welcome than one by a baseball insider, regardless of their credentials.

Bud Selig responded that he would take action based on this report and said that has already taken steps to implement some of the recommendations laid out in the report. So after all this time and money has been spent has baseball really learned anything that they didn't know before this started? Here's a quote from something I wrote a while back in June about what the investigation would discover:

If you're in a giving mood, you can send me the $2 million you were going to spend on the commission next month. Alright are you ready, here goes. Steroid use was widespread and rampant during the 90's and early 00's. That's it.

And that really is all they have. For the tens of millions of dollars that was spent to produce that impressive 300+ page document, did they really find out anything more than that? Bud Selig knew this before the investigation, but at yesterday's press conference, he acted as though he was shocked by what was contained in the report. Immediate action needs to be taken, he said. I'll handle each infraction on a case by case basis, he proclaimed. What a bunch of bullshit! How he can now stand there and pretend that his eyes have just now been opened to this is simply amazing to me. There is no definitive proof in the document. None that would stand up in a court of law anyway. Maybe he knows a couple more names than he did before but to think that this report is somehow the font of all knowledge about PED abuse in baseball is almost laughable.

Now we get to the players named. I feel the worst for Brian Roberts, who was included in the report based on the fact that someone reported that he told them once that he took steroids. That's the entire basis for his inclusion. That's just wrong. I realize that this is not a legal document, but to sully someones reputation on evidence as flimsy as that is reprehensible. The players for whom documentation exists (cancelled checks, mailing labels, etc.), really have no defense to these charges. They chose to associate with (and write checks to) people who were involved in the illegal distribution of PED's and so they are paying the cost for that. That being said, I think that it's unfortunate that anyone was named in this report. It's very clear that the first hand testimony was mainly limited to two people with ties to the New York area. That leaves 92% of the country basically unaccounted for. If the report wasn't going to be all inclusive, then it should have included no one. Some of the most prominent alleged cheaters, Sosa, McGwire, Palmeiro (although since he tested positive, I guess I can remove the "alleged" tag), Brady Anderson, Albert Belle, Brett Boone, to name a few, were not accused in this report. Is it fair to claim that you are releasing a wide sweeping report on PED abuse and then name less than 10% of the people that actually bought the drugs? Besides Mitchell's lack of impartiality, I find this to be the greatest failing of the report. I understand that his sources were limited, but why chose to include names, when he knew that the list is far from complete? Did he think that these two NY based informants were the backbone of the PED industry in the United States? Clearly that can't be the case. Releasing names was a mistake and one that will in the long run produce the most damage.

Roger Clemens has long been the poster boy for all that is good about the game of baseball. His legendary training regiment has been marvelled at for years. His record 7 Cy Young Awards and 350+ wins, 4,000+ strikeouts have led many to consider him not only the greatest pitcher of his era, but perhaps the greatest of all time. He may have indeed gotten 100% of the vote when he became eligible for the Hall of Fame. That all changed yesterday. The accusations made by his former trainer yesterday were the most detailed of any of the charges leveled against anyone except Barry Bonds. His career after leaving the Red Sox and turning 34 (an age at which a lot of pitchers begin to see a decline in skills) is almost the match of Barry's amazing post 35 career. If anything he has been able to maintain his incredible skills for a longer time than Barry has. Barry won 4 MVP awards and finished 2nd once, Roger won 4 Cy Young awards and finished 3rd once. However Barry won his last MVP at age 39, while Roger won his last Cy Young award at the age of 41 (he finished 3rd at the age of 42). Why didn't baseball fans question Clemens' performance the way they did Barry's? Was it because he's White? Was it because Barry's an insufferable prick? Was it because unlike Barry, he actually had people on his team and in the press who actually liked and admired him? I'm sure it's a combination of all those things. Also while he arguably had the best seasons of his career after turning 34, they were not out of scale with what he had accomplished in the past. However in the four years prior to turning 34, he won a total of 40 games. In the two years after leaving the Red Sox he won 41 games. That's pretty much a quantum leap, but no one questioned it.

The allegations against Clemens will go unproven. There are no pictures of Clemens getting shot up with steroids, there are no cancelled checks (we would have seen them yesterday if they existed). All we have is the word of his former trainer, who really would have no reason to lie. Bonds has admitted to unknowingly taking steroids and has been raked over the coals by the fans and the press (and by me on various occasions). He will have his day in court to defend his position. Clemens isn't going to get a day in court. This is not a criminal investigation and his only legal recourse would be sue baseball for libel. The problem being that libel (slanderous statements in print) carries a very high burden of proof. Basically it would have to be proven that George Mitchell (or whomever was ultimately responsible for the report being printed) knowingly included statements that they knew were false and would do harm to Clemens' reputation. I've already stated that I think that inclusion of names was wrong, but I don't think that George Mitchell or anyone else associated with the investigation knowingly included false statements in the report. Therefore Clemens is in an impossible position. He has already denied the report, but he basically has no other recourse. There are going to be people who believe he did steroids regardless of his denials. His name will always be associated with steroids in baseball and his legacy will forever be stained in the eyes of some.

Is baseball better off today than it was yesterday? I'm not sure. Besides ruining the reputation of a few baseball players, I'm not sure anything more was accomplished with the release of the Mitchell Report. I'm going to end by including something that I wrote a while back. It's a fictional letter from Bud Selig to baseball fans. I still think that this would have been the best and cleanest way for baseball to proceed. It's unfortunate that we find ourselves where we are today, but it was basically inevitable from the day this investigation was announced. The truth is that players will always look for an edge. Today's steroids will be tomorrow's blood enhancers and next decades genetic alteration. It will never end and the sad truth is that the Mitchell Report won't help at all.

To our fans,
Steroid abuse was widespread in baseball for a period of about 10 years. While we heard the whispers of this abuse, we (meaning management and the commissioners office) chose not to investigate this matter any further. The fact that the players union refused to allow us to put steroids on the banned substances list also played a big part in that decision. It is clear now that mistakes were made over that time, by the players, by the coaches, by the union, by the owners and by my own office. We apologize to the fans of baseball for our part in allowing the steroid abuse to take place. We could have done more to make sure that the integrity of the game was preserved.

We have now taken steps to ensure that this does not happen in the future. We have the toughest steroid penalties in North American sports and our testing program is among the most thorough of any sport. There is still no reliable test for Human Growth Hormone (HGH), but I assure that we are working towards eliminating all performance enhancing drugs from our sport. We appreciate your patience and continued support. Baseball is still the greatest game ever invented and we hope that the focus of attention can return to what's going on the field as opposed to the court room. Thank you once again for being such great fans of this game.


Bud Selig
Commissioner of Baseball and fan of the game

Friday, November 30, 2007

He's Got the Whole World, In His Hands

It is a slight exaggeration to suggest that Johan Santana has the whole world in his hands, but he does probably hold the key to the AL east in his hands. At this point the Twins are in serious negotiations with the Red Sox and Yankees for the services of the best pitcher in the AL. Santana, who is only one year away from free agency could be the single player who could decide which team will be the dominant one in the AL for the next five years. The Red Sox already have an advantage in pitching and adding Santana would not only make their rotation the best in baseball but the Yankees would be unable to match the move, even with their seemingly unlimited payroll. The Yankees on the other hand, by acquiring a number one starter would put themselves back on equal footing with the Red Sox in the pitching department.

The Yankees have spent lavishly this off season to retain their aging stars. Mariano Rivera was paid a ridiculous amount of money to come back for three more seasons and both he and Posada will be north of their 40th birthdays when these contracts expire. The monstrous Arod contract will also employ him until he well into his 40's. The Yankees were supposed to be in the middle of a youth movement, but their only moves this offseason have been to secure the services of players who will be well past their primes when their contracts expire. The seeming hope of the franchise (besides the endless supply of money) is that they have a wealth of young pitching. Three in particular stand out. Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy. It was assumed that they would all get a chance to make the starting rotation next year. Now the talk of trading for Santana has changed that. The Yankees have said all along that Joba is untouchable and they'd rather not trade Hughes. That's pretty tough talk, but they'd probably do almost anything to block Santana's trade to the Red Sox. The Yankees had talked about moving in a new direction, about using home grown talent, about lowering their payroll. But at the end of the day, it's all about winning and winning now.

The Red Sox are sitting on top of the baseball world at this point and adding Santana would make them prohibitive favorites heading into next season. It must seem strange for most Boston fans to realize that they have basically switched roles with the Yankees. It used to be that the Sox were always trying to catch up with the Yankees and now it's just the opposite. The Red Sox have as much young talent as the Yankees and could almost certainly make a deal if they were willing to part with the players that the Twins have requested. However, like the Yankees, they are taking a harder line by refusing to include certain players. Do they as much at stake as the Yankees? Probably not. Unlike their Bronx counterparts, they would probably still feel good about their team if the Yankees were successful in acquiring Santana. I don't think that they would sweeten their offer to include their players who they now deem as untouchable if they were told that the Yankees had increased their offer.

Santana will demand a new contract in the range of $150-$160 million over seven years. That's why this bidding has come down to the Yankees and the Red Sox. They are not only the teams best stocked with the talent to make this trade, they are the two teams who could easily absorb a $20 million a year pitcher. Santana also has a complete no-trade clause in his contract. It seems to me that if he hadn't already told Twins management that he would accept a trade to either team, that they wouldn't be talking to them. There are other players in the game. The Mets, Angels and Dodgers have all had talks with the Twins as well, but if Santana is indeed traded, I expect it to be to the Yankees or Sox.

The Twins could just decide to hold on to Santana and see how the first half of the season goes. Teams are usually a little more desperate around the trading deadline and they could potentially get even more for Santana by waiting until then. A trade deadline deal from a desperate team (the Yankees) might be the way to go. Santana has already turned down a extension offer from the Twins, so it is unlikely that they will keep him past next year. The Twins have holes in CF, SS, Third base and the starting rotation, with Santana being the biggest chip they have, they are certainly going to take their time in making a decision.

So who wins this high stakes game of poker between the Yankees and Red Sox? Frankly I think the Sox are slightly better positioned to win this game. The sticking point with the Sox and Twins is over a center fielder. Position players are easier to come by than starting pitchers. The Yankees and Twins sticking point is Phil Hughes, who is a starter. I think the Sox eventually give in and throw the CFer into the deal and get it done. It's not the outcome that I want, but unless the Yankees are literally willing to give away the farm, they are going to lose this pissing contest.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Blue Monday

Let's see how the SM fared this weekend, shall we?

Baltimore +3

A push is not exactly a great start, but at least it's not a loss. I still have confidence that this will be a great week. SM 0-0.
Atlanta +3

Okay, maybe this won't be such a great week. Atlanta apparently forgot that they were supposed to show up play football this weekend. Seven is a great number for a baseball team. I'm sure they were confused by the large men in pads and helmets that kept on tackling them as they tried to round the bases. SM 0-1.

Miami +10

Another push. I really have to find spreads with 1/2 points. This is just getting ridiculous. SM 0-1.
Carolina +10

The Panthers did not cover the spread. This is looking more and more dire. 2 losses and 2 pushes. I'm beginning to doubt the SM. Has the all knowing, all seeing SM finally met it's match? Stay tuned boys and girls. SM 0-2.
Houston +1

Finally. The Texans of all teams come through. This was basically a pick 'em game, so the SM is finally starting to show it's true worth. SM 1-2.

Arizona +3.5

How about Arizona bringing us back to .500. Having the Texans and the Cardinals not only cover the spread, but bring home victories must be a first. I'm not going to do the research to back up that claim, but if you have the time, feel free to waste it looking that up. SM 2-2.
Detroit +3

The Lions at home seemed like a good bet. Their fans were actually beginning to believe that they might be on the verge of a turnaround in Motown, but alas, they still suck. SM 2-3.

Kansas City +14.5

The Chiefs fought the good fight and managed to lose by a respectable three points. The Colts are a shell of their former super bowl winning selves and until they get healthy, it's going to be a dog fight every weekend for them. SM 3-3.
San Diego +3

What the hell happened to the Chargers? Didn't they go 14-2 last year? Wasn't LT unstoppable last year? Didn't they have the same personnel coming back this year? I guess they miss old Marty in SD now. Sorry about this one Wayne. SM 3-4.
Oakland +5.5

The Raiders couldn't cover the spread even with the fact that the league's leading rusher was out for the Vikings. They are on my naughty list now. They are definitely not getting anything for Christmas. SM 3-5.
NY Jets +9.5

The Jets shocked the world and themselves by going beating the Steelers. This one was certainly unexpected. The Jets have a constant inferiority complex because their home stadium is named after another team, plus they are always playing second fiddle to that other team. It's not a coincidence that their name rhymes with the other team that plays second fiddle in this town. But hey, a win is a win. SM 4-5.

Chicago +5.5

The Bears must have spent the off season partying with the Chargers. Either that or they are eating too much of the pizza in Chicago. Second City, my ass. SM 4-6.
San Francisco +3

The 49ers lost by four just to piss me off. I hate San Francisco. I've never been, but I hate it anyway. I know that doesn't make any sense, but I'm a bitter, old man. SM 4-7.
Washington +10.5

The Cowboys won and that's really all that matters. Toby was at this game and I'm pretty sure she spent most of the game cursing. She's still mad about a Monday Night game from two seasons ago when the Redskins won on a last second play and proceeded to celebrate as if they'd won the super bowl. Hopefully she returned the favor this weekend. SM 5-7.
Buffalo +14.5

New England absolutely dismantled the Bills. This would have been a loss even if the spread was 45! The Bills should have stayed in bed and sent a high school team in their place. They couldn't have done worse. SM 5-8.


That's it. A bad week for the usually dependable SM. Well, as a great man once said, "life ain't easy and life ain't free". Yeah, I didn't understand it either.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Pick of the Litter

Here are the picks for Sunday. You know the drill. Back to the SM this week.

Baltimore +3
Atlanta +3
Miami +10
Carolina +10
Houston +1
Arizona +3.5
Detroit +3
Kansas City +14.5
San Diego +3
Oakland +5.5
NY Jets +9.5
Chicago +5.5
San Francisco +3
Washington +10.5
Buffalo +14.5
Enjoy the weekend everyone.

High Noon

Barry Bonds was indicted yesterday by a federal grand jury on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice. This is the culmination of a four year investigation into the Balco doping scandal and Bonds' connection to the former San Francisco lab.
It seems a roundabout way to get to Bonds (like getting Al Capone for not filing his taxes), but he was granted immunity from prosecution for actually taking steroids when he orginally testified in the Balco case. In fact, if Bonds hadn't allegedly lied in his testimony, he would not be facing federal charges. There is also still the possibility that Bonds will be indicted on tax evasion charges stemming from unreported income from baseball memorabillia shows.

So where does this leave Mr. Bonds? He faces the remote possibility of decades in jail if he is found guilty of all the charges against him. There isn't a team that would sign him while he has the cloud of possible jail time hanging over him. For now his last home run on 2007 may in fact be his last home run for a while, maybe forever. This indictment comes a year too late for Bud Selig, who would have been happy to suspend Bond while this situation played itself out in the courts. He would have had his fingers crossed that Bonds was convicted and served time, so that Hank Aaron's record could have been preserved. The home run record does belong to Bonds now and no one can take that away.

He is a man currently in limbo however. He has more than enough money to assemble the best team of lawyers possible to combat these charges. I would think that it would be a long shot for Bonds to do any time based on this indictment. The only thing that could make jail time a reality for Bonds is if his personal trainer were to testify against him. Bond's trainer Greg Andserson has spent the better part of the last 18 months in prison because he refused to give testimony to the Grand Jury that was considering the Bonds case. He could singlehandedly prove the states case against Bonds by admitting that he not only provided illegal steroids to Bonds, but injected him with the substances as well. And that Bonds knew exactly what was being done. But being stuck in jail for months on end has done nothing to make him more talkative to date. I can't imagine that he would begin to talk any time soon, especially now since he has been released from prison. The Grand Jury session has ended, so he is no longer in violation of their order to provide testimony. If Bonds actually goes to court, however he will be once again ordered to testify. If he refuses at that point, he will probably be held in contempt of court and shipped off to jail once again.

It's amazing to me that Bonds has engendered such loyalty in an ex-employee. There are others who will be willing to testify to Bonds' drug use. His ex-girlfriend has already given numerous interviews where she detailed some of his drug use and she would also be a main witness against Bonds if he were ever brought up on tax evasion charges. Bonds' attorneys will argue that her testimony is tainted because of the acrimonious break up between the two, but it will be up to a jury to decide who to believe at that point.

I predict that Bonds will actually walk on these charges unless Greg Anderson does a 180. Money can't buy you innocence in the eyes of the public, but can buy you reasonable doubt in front of a jury. Even with a not guilty verdict however, I don't beleive that he will be playing baseball anytime in the near future and almost certainly not in a major league baseball uniform. If he is hell bent on continuing his baseball career, he may find an easier time of things in Japan, but if I were a betting man (and I've told you time and time again that I'm not) 762 is probably the number that Arod will have to beat to become the all time home run king.



Thursday, November 15, 2007

I Don't Know Why You Say Goodbye...

In a stunning turnaround, it now appears that Alex Rodriguez will be playing in pinstripes after all. The news broke yesterday that Arod and the Yankees had been in meetings to work out a deal after Arod had "reached out" to the Yankees through a third party to express his interest in remaining with the team. The Yankees had flatly stated that if Arod opted out of his contract that they would not pursue him as a free agent. Of course nothing was written in stone. And now that Arod has come back to negotiate exclusively with the Yankees, all seems to be forgiven.

According to "inside sources" Arod was not happy with the way things have gone for him. He didn't expect the Yankees to stand firm on their promise not to deal with him and he didn't expect the public backlash that has accompanied his free agency. It really baffles me that someone as seemingly intelligent as Arod could allow something like this to happen, which is why I think this was planned all along. Boras realized that there wouldn't be much of a market for Arod and devised this plan to get the Yankees to pony up more than the $220 million they would have originally brought to the table. Boras' plan all along was to get Arod a $300 million contract. He knew that the only team that could really commit that kind of money to Arod was the Yankees. So in order to get them to up their offer and without making Arod seem like all he cared about was money, he decided to play the bad cop to Arod's good cop.

He has manipulated the press at every turn and his plan has worked to perfection. He put out the press release about Arod opting out at the most inappropriate time. He has been the only one talking about Arod and about how much money he was worth to a team. He has been the only one making any statements to the press. Arod has been silent during this entire saga. The first thing we hear from Arod is when he put out a statement on his website about how much he and his wife love NY and that they are discussion with the Yankees about their future. Arod can now be seen as someone who was led astray by the big bullying agent. He really wanted to come back to the Yankees all along. But now instead of a eight year extension for $220 million, he will now get a 10 year $270 million contract with incentives that would push the deal to over $300 million. It's perfect, Arod and Boras get what they want and the Yankees get what they need.

Arod will now be able to say that it wasn't all about money. He really loves the Yankees and they were indeed the only team he wanted to play for. Boras gets to trumpet in the press that he had deals on the table for more money (without ever naming names of course), but his client went with his heart. It's the perfect fairly tale ending (wink, wink). Of course it's all a bunch a bullshit, but the Yankees will play along because they know that they don't really have a viable option at third base. They know that they need Arod just as much as he needs them. Arod will return to NY and continue his assault on the record books and perhaps win a World Series or two along the way and this episode will be forgotten.

This whole thing has been media manipulation pure and simple; Brian Cashman knows it, Hank Steinbrenner knows it, Arod knows it, Boras knows it and the American people know it. In the end it's not going to make any difference though. Everyone will be all smiles at the press conference. Arod will smile and talk about how this whole situation was a misunderstanding and it wasn't about the money. Cashman will smile and say that they got the deal that they always wanted. Hank Steinbrenner will smile (okay maybe not him) and talk about how the Yankees maintained their integrity. And somewhere in the background, Scott Boras will be laughing his ass off.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Catch Me If You Can

In the end, the Yankees had no choice. They ended up giving Jorge Posada a fourth year at $13 million in order to get the contract done. There were no good options in the free agent market and with the Yankees minor league prospects being at least two years away from being ready, they did the only thing they could.

Jorge has said from the beginning that he wanted to stay with the Yankees. He didn't even test his worth on the open market, because at the end of the day, he didn't want to wear another uniform. Now if the the Yankees had stuck to their three year offer, he may very well have listened to what the Mets had to say. Catchers don't have a great history of remaining very productive into their late thirties. In fact the history of catchers who have done that is exactly one player long, Carlton Fisk. That's it. The Yankees have their fingers crossed that Posada, who is coming off a career year (in which he hit 60 points over his career average), is going to join Fisk on that short list.

I've read the articles praising Posada as the heart and soul of team or the quiet leader or even a boarder line hall of famer. I've never thought of him as any of those things. I'm not even sure what being the heart and soul of a team means. He has certainly been pretty quiet and unless he turns into Mike Piazza in his prime over the next four years, then he'll be buying a ticket for Cooperstown like the rest of us mere mortals. Posada can also be a bit prickly with pitchers. Randy Johnson and Mike Mussina are just a couple examples of pitchers who preferred to have someone else behind the plate. He's a below average defensive catcher, who is not particularly adept at blocking balls in the dirt (see game 2 against Cleveland as an example). He has an above average arm, but overall his defense is not going to win you many games.

His defense is not the reason why he just got $52 million from the Yankees however. Posada has been one of the top offensive catchers in baseball for the past seven years. The Yankees are gambling that he can remain in upper echelon of catchers for at least the next couple of years. As we have seen by the Yankees inability to find a back up catcher for Posada, there is not an abundance of catchers who can hit. In fact, the other good offensive catchers have been locked up by their teams for years to come. Joe Mauer in Minnesota (who has been hurt quite a bit), Victor Martinez in Cleveland, Brian McCann in Atlanta are not available on the open market and won't be for some time. The Yankees have some young catchers in their system, but none are considered prime prospects and certainly none are ready for the majors.

In giving Posada a fourth year, the Yankees have no doubt put themselves in a situation where they will be paying for diminished production as time goes on. However, they did not have a realistic option. It was either pay Posada, or go into next season with a huge hole in the lineup. Given the fact that they already have a huge hole with the loss of Arod, they couldn't afford to lose Posada as well. Even at $52 million, the Yankees have to feel like it's money well spent.

High Steppin'

This weekend's recap:

Tennessee -4 Jacksonville
The Titans continue to amaze me with their ability to win games despite the fact that Vince Young seems to have forgotten that the forward pass is actually a component of the offense in the NFL. Jacksonville is still relying on their back up, since their starting QB is out for a while. The SM says take Jacksonville. I hate to rely on Vince, but I'm going to say roll the dice and pray that Vince has a good day. Titans 24-10.
Wow, I couldn't have been more wrong. This really is the last time I pick Vince Young for anything. From now on Vince Young, you are my enemy. I tried to play nice but clearly that's not what you wanted. You'll rue the day you crossed me! Me 0-1. SM 1-0.

Kansas City -3 Denver
KC got destroyed by the Packers last week at home. The Broncos got destroyed on the road by Detroit. Neither of these teams is very good and not having Larry Johnson for the game isn't going to help the Chiefs any. This really doesn't make much sense but I'm going to stick with the SM on this one. Denver 31-24.
I lucked into a win here. Both teams still suck. Me 1-1. SM 2-0.
Buffalo -3 Miami
Miami may not win another game this year. They are that bad. Buffalo beat the Bengals at home last week and actually showed that they do indeed have an offense. The SM says take Miami, but I can't make myself put any faith in that team. Buffalo 21-3.
This is the proverbial kissing of your sister. Buffalo's offense went back into hibernation, but they did manage to squeeze out a win with a stirring 11 point 4th quarter. Wow, I'm getting chills just writing about it. Me 1-1. SM 2-0.

Pittsburgh -9.5 Cleveland
Pittsburgh put a hurtin' on the Ravens last week, but I really don't see the Browns being as easy to push around. This looks like a SM special. Pittsburgh 34-28.
It took a late rally by Pittsburgh to pull this one out and I look like a genius for one pick. The final score was actually 31-28, but let's not split hairs on this one. Me 2-1. SM 3-0.

New Orleans -11.5 St. Louis
The Saints appear to be back on track. At this point they are playing like a well oiled machine. The Rams are bad. In fact calling them bad may be an insult to bad teams. They are coming off a bye week though, so at least they should be fairly healthy. That hasn't helped them so far and I don't anticipate a change this week. The SM says take the Rams, but I'm heading the other way. Saints 44-14.
Now I look like an idiot. The Saints scored 29 points but managed to give up 37 to a really bad St. Louis team. I'm not sure how that happened, but this will just show you boys and girls that gambling is no way to make a living. Unless you follow the SM that is. Me 2-2. SM 4-0.

Carolina -4 Atlanta
Two more bad teams. Atlanta pulled out a win last week at home, Carolina lost to the offensive juggernaut that is the Titans. The Panthers are 4 point favorites, I guess on the strength of being the home team. I'm sticking with the SM on this one. Atlanta 21-17. On a side note, why the hell is Vinny Testaverde still in the NFL. He's actually older than me. And trust me when I say that I shouldn't even be allowed to buy a ticket to an NFL game. I find it hard to believe that there isn't a QB available that was born after man first walked on the moon. Oh well, I digress.
Atlanta pulls this one out to continue the perfect week for the SM. I am struggling to stay above .500, but as I've said many times, no one has ever confused me with a rocket scientist. Me 3-2. SM 5-0.

Washington -3 Philadelphia
The Redskins at home only giving three points to a terrible Eagles team. Am I missing something here? I know this is a rivalry game, but the Eagles got doubled up at home by the Cowboys last week. This spread looks like a mistake to me. The SM says the Eagles, but I couldn't disagree more. Redskins 34-21.
Washington at home loses to a reeling Eagles team? This is why I hate both of these teams. You can't trust them. The Redskins, with their ridiculously racist name and the Eagles, with their Chunky soup eating QB, should both burn in hell. That may have been a little harsh, but I'm in a pretty harsh mood today. Me 3-3. SM 6-0.

Green Bay -6 Minnesota
Adrian Peterson put on a display for the ages last week in breaking the single game rushing record. Of course that was at home in a dome on AstroTurf. However he did run for 224 yards at Chicago. He followed up that outburst with two sub 100 yard games in back to back losses. I predicting the same pattern here. Expect GB to score early and the Vikings to be pressed to pass. The SM says take the Vikings. I'm going to disagree and say take the Pack 27-17.
This was even more one sided than I expected and with Petersen going down to injury early, the Vikings apparently just threw the playbook out the window. This is the first loss for the SM this week, but I hear the SM is doing well and will recover from this setback. Me 4-3. SM 6-1.

Baltimore -4 Cincinnati
Both of these teams let me down last week. I picked them both to cover the spread and neither of them did. So what to do this week? My only fallback here is that Steve McNair is my fantasy QB (ok, stop laughing). I guess I have to pick the Ravens to win but I'm thinking the SM works here. Ravens 17-14.
Okay, technically a win, but I can't feel good about it. The Bengals dominated the Ravens and Steve McNair joins Vince Young on my hit list. How the hell does a QB produce back to back negative point games? It' unheard of I tell you! I take this as a personal attack on me. Steve McNair, please go back to wherever you came from and take Vince Young and Chad Pennington (my other disappointment at fantasy QB) with you. Me 5-3. SM 7-1.

Chicago -3.5 Oakland
What the hell happened to Chicago? Their once proud defense has given up over 30 points on a couple of occasions this season. They have held their last two opponents to 16, so maybe they are having a mid season renaissance. Oakland at least seems to have found a running game, even if they can't seem to find a competent QB. I'll stick with the SM on this one. Chicago 13-10.
This was looking great for me. It was tied at 3 heading into the 4th quarter and then Chicago decides to score two touchdowns to make me look foolish. Well, Chicago isn't even the "second city" anymore. So who looks foolish now, huh? Me 5-4. SM 7-2.

Dallas -1 NY Giants
I can't in good conscience pick this game. My heart says the Cowboys, the SM says the Giants. In order for the Giants to cover the spread they have to win the game and I can't be a party to that. I'm going against the SM and picking the Cowboys, but unless they win, I won't be counting this one against my record (my picks, my rules).
The Cowboys came into New York and gave the Giants a beating. They are the best team in the east and maybe the best team in the NFC. It's been a long time since I could say that. Of course I probably just jinxed them for the rest of the season. But considering the fact that Bill Parcells isn't there anymore, they actually might be able to win a couple of games after thanksgiving. Me 6-4. SM 7-3.

Arizona -1 Detroit
I don't think much of the Cardinals. Detroit has been much tougher at home than on the road, but I still don't see them losing this game. Stick with the SM. Detroit 19-16.
Arizona beat Detroit convincingly. I'm not really sure what happened here. I guess the thing learned from this one is don't bet on Detroit on the road. (It's a good think I don't bet, but I am taking donations to my "save me from losing my stuff to the bookies" fund). Me 6-5. SM 7-4.

Indianapolis -3.5 San Diego
San Diego got crushed by the Vikings last week and gave up a record number of rushing yards. Indianapolis is coming off a crushing home loss to New England. One of these teams is going to have a big rebound. I'm thinking it's going to be the Colts. I'm ignoring the SM and I recommend you do the same. Colts 31-24.
Peyton Manning threw 6 interceptions in this game. If this isn't a clear example of organized crime in sports today, I don't know what is. Even with all that help from Peyton, the Chargers could only manage one offensive TD. Peyton was trying his best to give the game away, but the Chargers weren't helping at all. It's a good thing he also had a buddy on the return team to help allow the Chargers to score twice on kick returns. I never want to see another Peyton Manning commercial as long as live (which means I'll either have to stop watching TV or pluck out my eyes. I'm leaning toward the former). Me 6-6. SM 8-4.

A great bounce back week for the SM after posting it's first sub .500 record of the season. As for me, I'm changing my middle name to middling. That's it for this week.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Spreads like Velveeta

This weeks picks are brought to you by the letter F.

Home team in bold:

Tennessee
-4 Jacksonville
The Titans continue to amaze me with their ability to win games despite the fact that Vince Young seems to have forgotten that the forward pass is actually a component of the offense in the NFL. Jacksonville is still relying on their back up, since their starting QB is out for a while. The SM says take Jacksonville. I hate to rely on Vince, but I'm going to say roll the dice and pray that Vince has a good day. Titans 24-10.

Kansas City -3 Denver
KC got destroyed by the Packers last week at home. The Broncos got destroyed on the road by Detroit. Neither of these teams is very good and not having Larry Johnson for the game isn't going to help the Chiefs any. This really doesn't make much sense but I'm going to stick with the SM on this one. Denver 31-24.

Buffalo -3 Miami
Miami may not win another game this year. They are that bad. Buffalo beat the Bengals at home last week and actually showed that they do indeed have an offense. The SM says take Miami, but I can't make myself put any faith in that team. Buffalo 21-3.

Pittsburgh -9.5 Cleveland
Pittsburgh put a hurtin' on the Ravens last week, but I really don't see the Browns being as easy to push around. This looks like a SM special. Pittsburgh 34-28.

New Orleans -11.5 St. Louis
The Saints appear to be back on track. At this point they are playing like a well oiled machine. The Rams are bad. In fact calling them bad may be an insult to bad teams. They are coming off a bye week though, so at least they should be fairly healthy. That hasn't helped them so far and I don't anticipate a change this week. The SM says take the Rams, but I'm heading the other way. Saints 44-14.

Carolina -4 Atlanta
Two more bad teams. Atlanta pulled out a win last week at home, Carolina lost to the offensive juggernaut that is the Titans. The Panthers are 4 point favorites, I guess on the strength of being the home team. I'm sticking with the SM on this one. Atlanta 21-17. On a side note, why the hell is Vinny Testaverde still in the NFL. He's actually older than me. And trust me when I say that I shouldn't even be allowed to buy a ticket to an NFL game. I find it hard to believe that there isn't a QB available that was born after man first walked on the moon. Oh well, I digress.

Washington -3 Philadelphia
The Redskins at home only giving three points to a terrible Eagles team. Am I missing something here? I know this is a rivalry game, but the Eagles got doubled up at home by the Cowboys last week. This spread looks like a mistake to me. The SM says the Eagles, but I couldn't disagree more. Redskins 34-21.

Green Bay -6 Minnesota
Adrian Peterson put on a display for the ages last week in breaking the single game rushing record. Of course that was at home in a dome on AstroTurf. However he did run for 224 yards at Chicago. He followed up that outburst with two sub 100 yard games in back to back losses. I predicting the same pattern here. Expect GB to score early and the Vikings to be pressed to pass. The SM says take the Vikings. I'm going to disagree and say take the Pack 27-17.

Baltimore -4 Cincinnati
Both of these teams let me down last week. I picked them both to cover the spread and neither of them did. So what to do this week? My only fallback here is that Steve McNair is my fantasy QB (ok, stop laughing). I guess I have to pick the Ravens to win but I'm thinking the SM works here. Ravens 17-14.

Chicago -3.5 Oakland
What the hell happened to Chicago? Their once proud defense has given up over 30 points on a couple of occasions this season. They have held their last two opponents to 16, so maybe they are having a mid season renaissance. Oakland at least seems to have found a running game, even if they can't seem to find a competent QB. I'll stick with the SM on this one. Chicago 13-10.

Dallas -1 NY Giants
I can't in good conscience pick this game. My heart says the Cowboys, the SM says the Giants. In order for the Giants to cover the spread they have to win the game and I can't be a party to that. I'm going against the SM and picking the Cowboys, but unless they win, I won't be counting this one against my record (my picks, my rules).

Arizona -1 Detroit
I don't think much of the Cardinals. Detroit has been much tougher at home than on the road, but I still don't see them losing this game. Stick with the SM. Detroit 19-16.

Indianapolis -3.5 San Diego
San Diego got crushed by the Vikings last week and gave up a record number of rushing yards. Indianapolis is coming off a crushing home loss to New England. One of these teams is going to have a big rebound. I'm thinking it's going to be the Colts. I'm ignoring the SM and I recommend you do the same. Colts 31-24.

That's it for this week kids. Tune in Monday for the train wreck results. Have a good weekend.

Monday, November 05, 2007

The Sweet Smell of Success

Here's the recap of my picks for the weekend.

Redskins (-3.5) at Jets
The Jets are terrible. They are throwing the untested QB to the wolves and the Redskins have to be pretty pissed off after getting embarrassed by the Patriots last week. The SM says the Jets will cover, I say different. I'm picking the Skins to win 28-10.
See what happens when I go against the SM? I end up looking like an idiot. Maybe that's what I intended all along? I'm hoping to convince someone of this. Anyone, anyone? Bueller? Me 0-1, SM 1-0.

Green Bay at KC (-2)
The odds makers are apparently unimpressed by Green Bay's 7-1 start. Kansas City has been on a roll of late and I believe sit in first place in the AFC least also known as the west. The SM says take Green Bay and so that is exactly what I'm going to do. Green Bay 24-21.
And do you see how smart I look when I let the SM do it's job. Brett Favre is apparently out to show everyone that the Packers are indeed one of the NFC's best teams and at this point I have no reason to doubt him. I still think he's a self absorbed jackass, but he certainly knows how to throw that football around. I'm still waiting on the Dan Marino HBO special celebrating Favre setting the all-time interception record. Me 1-1, SM 2-0.

Arizona at Tampa (-3.5)
Tampa has a pretty porous run defense, so the Edge should have a good week. Kurt Warner has some good weapons to use and he should have a couple of good games left in that arm of his. This one is a SM special. Tampa 17-14.
I guess the SM isn't infallible. Tampa Bay did indeed cover the spread. Why couldn't I have picked this game. Seriously, the sum of my football knowledge could fit in a thimble. I tiny, tiny thimble that only microscopic single celled organisms could use. Me 1-2, SM 2-1.

Carolina at Tennessee (-4)
Carolina's starting QB choices are the ancient Vinny Testaverde and the beaten to a pulp David Carr. The only reason that the spread is so low is that Vince Young seems to have forgotten how to complete a forward pass. Young is also nursing a leg injury, so I don't expect much running from him either. This could be a very low scoring affair. Use the SM here. Tennessee wins 10-7.
How on earth does Tennessee keep on winning with Vince Young throwing for 100 yards a game? I had Vince Young as my starting fantasy QB this year (I know it was a stupid choice, but I missed the live draft, OK? Get off my back. Why can't you ever say anything nice to me?) and he single handedly has relegated me to the lower reaches of the standings. I wouldn't feel so bad about that except the Titans keep on winning in spite of him. This pisses me off to no end. If my team sucks because of him, then his own team should suck too (why doesn't life work the way I want it to?). Me 1-3. SM 2-2.

San Francisco at Atlanta (-3)
Jesus! is it just me or is the NFL just filled with teams that absolutely suck? Wow, you couldn't pay me to watch this game. At least when Atlanta had Michael Vick, it was enjoyable to watch him run around before throwing an interception. Joey Harrington has thrown 4 TDs, 4 picks and has rushed for less than 20 yards. San Francisco gets Alex Smith back this week and that should be enough to put them over the top. Use the SM in this game as well. 49ers 28-12.
This is just getting embarrassing now. I'm going to start using the Mussina rule. The Mussina rule is based on Mike Mussina who blames everything, except that fact that he was terrible, for a loss. I'm going to start with the fact that my computer was acting up. I also had a bad sandwich for lunch. My Lupus was acting up. My girlfriend left me. I ran out of gas. My radiator was overheating. It's not my fault! It's not my fault! How about a little sympathy, people. Me 1-4. SM 2-3.

Jacksonville at New Orleans (-3.5)
Jacksonville released their '06 starting QB in the off-season and lost their '07 starter last week. Now they will be led by someone named Quinn Gray (no, I've never heard of him either). The Saints are actually starting to hit their stride and Drew Brees had a phenomenal game last week against the 49ers. This one has the smell of a blowout. Disregard the SM on this one and take the Saints 31-7.
Wow. Will wonders never cease. This makes it sound like I actually know what I'm talking about. Brees threw for almost 450 yards and the Saints blew out the Jags. I know what you're going to say, that even the sun shines on a dogs ass sometimes. Fine, be that way. You know what screw you. I don't need you or your approval. Maybe if you would have taken me fishing when I was a kid I wouldn't have turned out like this. You only have yourself to blame. Me 2-4. SM 2-4.

Denver at Detroit (-3)
Denver is not the same team outside of mile high stadium (or whatever hell they call their new home), and apparently they aren't the same inside of it either. Detroit has some weapons on offense and they are undefeated at home. I would say that the SM would be good for this one, but I'm thinking of the glory days of Denver. This team has one quality win this year (against Pittsburgh in Denver) and a couple of squeakers against two bad teams (Oakland in OT and a one point win against Buffalo). I'm tempted to pick against the SM here and that exactly what I'm going to do. Detroit 30-20. I know I'm gonna regret that one on Monday.
Two in row! How about that. I'm on a roll. There are so many little people to thank. I'm not sure where to start. First of all I'd like to thank the guy who I buy a banana from every morning. They say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and that guy makes sure that I get the day off to a good start. Then I'd like to thank...oh to hell with it. It's clear that outside of the fruit guy, this was all me. Kneel before my superiority. Ha, Ha (that's my superior laugh). Me 3-4. SM 2-5.

Cincinnati at Buffalo (pick 'em)
Well the SM is useless here. This situation doesn't come up very often. We have a fairly anemic Buffalo offense against hard to figure out Bengals. The Bengals looked like the best team in football early last season, but have been mediocre every since. They gave up an astonishing 51 points to Cleveland earlier in the season, so we know that they have the ability to give up a lot of points. They also scored 45 points in that game, so we know that they can put points on the board. Their biggest accomplishment this season was holding New England under 40 points. Buffalo has won two fairly low scoring games in a row. The question is whether they can stop the Bengals offense. I'm leaning toward the Bengals in the is game (because I flipped a coin and it came up heads). I say this one goes the way of the tigers 24-13.
And just like that, my winning streak comes to an end. I was on top of the world there for an all too brief time. I was a modern day Icarus and when the sun melted my wings, I fell hard. But to soar above the ground was exhilarating. I only wish that you all could have experienced it with me (not really, but it makes me sound more humble if I say that). Me 3-5. SM 2-5.

San Diego (-7) at Minnesota
San Diego seems to be rolling after an early season hiccup. Minnesota pretty much has one weapon, Adrian Peterson. He has had one incredible game and the Vikings rolled to 34 points. Outside of that they have been fairly pedestrian. The SM says take the home dog, and while I have no reason to think that the game will go that way, who am I to argue. San Diego 30-24.
I get the win here, but I really don't deserve it. Peterson set an NFL record by rushing for 296 yards and the Vikings crushed the Chargers. This isn't like kissing your sister (which is the common analogy for a tie), this is more like rushing out to buy the new Michael Bolton CD. You own it, but it's your dirty little secret. Me 4-5. SM 3-5.

Seattle at Cleveland (-1)
Look how far the mighty have fallen. Just two seasons ago the Seahawks were in the Superbowl, now they are underdogs to Cleveland. The Browns are no longer a pushover and have scored over 40 points in two games this year. I have no reason to believe that Seattle will be able to overcome the Dog Pound. Screw the SM take the Browns 24-13.
Who ever thought that .500 could feel so good? Ah mediocrity, your smell is so sweet that I wish I could bathe in your goodness forever. Me 5-5. SM 3-6.

New England (-5.5) at Indianapolis
Indianapolis 34-31. I think there's been enough written about this game. Plus I really want to be done with this.
Still too much written about this game. The SM prevails. Me 6-5. SM 4-6.

Houston at Oakland (-3)
Oakland's not very good. They've lost three games in a row in fact. Their offense is anemic, although Dante Culpepper is capable of putting up big numbers. Houston also sucks. This is another battle between terrible teams. The NFL seems to specialize in these. Go with the SM. Houston 3-0.
The Texans pulled this game out even though their starting QB was out with an injury. I was right, the Raiders are terrible. The teams did manage to score a lot more points than I thought was possible. On a personal note I picked up the Raiders running back, Justin Fargas, for my fantasy team (who happens to be the son of Huggy Bear of Starkey & Hutch fame), and he ran for 104 yards and a touchdown. I know that no one cares about that particular fact, but if you're reading this blog, I figured that I'd just bore you more than you already are. Me 7-5. SM 5-6.

Baltimore at Pittsburgh (-9)
Baltimore gets Steve McNair back this week. That's enough for me to endorse the SM pick in this game. Pittsburgh wins a close one 24-21.
I somehow managed to skip the Cowboys game and pick the Monday night game. I assure that this was not my intention. However since I'm now guaranteed a winning week regardless of the outcome of this game, I will now pretend that I did it on purpose (I probably shouldn't have written that). I chose to ignore the Cowboys game because as a fan of the 'Boys, I feel it would be wrong to even guess at the outcome of the game based on the point spread. My only concern is that the Cowboys win the game (of course I would have probably picked the Eagles to cover the spread, because they were at home and the SM would have demanded it). So I'm happy that the Cowboys won and I don't think we need to say any more about that.

The Steelers destroyed the Ravens on Monday Night, but since I never intended to pick the Monday Night game, I'm not going to count this one against my record. What? Does someone have something to say? I didn't think so.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Old Soldiers Never Die


The undefeated Colts (7-0) take on the undefeated Patriots (8-0) on Sunday in the NFL's latest GAME OF THE CENTURY. That showdown headlines the matchups for the weekend. My fellow contributor Bhart has been unable to fulfil his duties as NFL prognosticator for the last couple of weeks, so it's up to me to pick up the slack. Just like MacArthur, I have returned. I will go with a modified SM* this week, meaning that I'll overrule if I think that the pick is blatantly wrong (which probably just means I'll end up with a losing record). Anyway, here goes nothing.
Redskins (-3.5) at Jets

The Jets are terrible. They are throwing the untested QB to the wolves and the Redskins have to be pretty pissed off after getting embarrassed by the Patriots last week. The SM says the Jets will cover, I say different. I'm picking the Skins to win 28-10.

Green Bay at KC (-2)

The odds makers are apparently unimpressed by Green Bay's 7-1 start. Kansas City has been on a roll of late and I believe sit in first place in the AFC least also known as the west. The SM says take Green Bay and so that is exactly what I'm going to do. Green Bay 24-21.

Arizona at Tampa (-3.5)

Tampa has a pretty porous run defense, so the Edge should have a good week. Kurt Warner has some good weapons to use and he should have a couple of good games left in that arm of his. This one is a SM special. Tampa 17-14.

Carolina at Tennessee (-4)

Carolina's starting QB choices are the ancient Vinny Testaverde and the beaten to a pulp David Carr. The only reason that the spread is so low is that Vince Young seems to have forgotten how to complete a forward pass. Young is also nursing a leg injury, so I don't expect much running from him either. This could be a very low scoring affair. Use the SM here. Tennessee wins 10-7.

San Francisco at Atlanta (-3)

Jesus! is it just me or is the NFL just filled with teams that absolutely suck? Wow, you couldn't pay me to watch this game. At least when Atlanta had Michael Vick, it was enjoyable to watch him run around before throwing an interception. Joey Harrington has thrown 4 TDs, 4 picks and has rushed for less than 20 yards. San Francisco gets Alex Smith back this week and that should be enough to put them over the top. Use the SM in this game as well. 49ers 28-12.

Jacksonville at New Orleans (-3.5)

Jacksonville released their '06 starting QB in the off-season and lost their '07 starter last week. Now they will be led by someone named Quinn Gray (no, I've never heard of him either). The Saints are actually starting to hit their stride and Drew Brees had a phenomenal game last week against the 49ers. This one has the smell of a blowout. Disregard the SM on this one and take the Saints 31-7.

Denver at Detroit (-3)

Denver is not the same team outside of mile high stadium (or whatever hell they call their new home), and apparently they aren't the same inside of it either. Detroit has some weapons on offense and they are undefeated at home. I would say that the SM would be good for this one, but I'm thinking of the glory days of Denver. This team has one quality win this year (against Pittsburgh in Denver) and a couple of squeakers against two bad teams (Okaland in OT and a one point win against Buffalo). I'm tempted to pick against the SM here and that exactly what I'm going to do. Detroit 30-20. I know I'm gonna regret that one on Monday.


I can't believe that I still have six more games to pick. I think the NFL ought to give some serious thought to contraction. I mean do the Cardinals really deserve to be in the NFL? Or Detroit for that matter. New rule, if you haven't ever been to the Superbowl, you don't get to have an NFL team. I'll give a break to the expansion teams, but if your franchise existed when the Superbowl was created and you still haven't made it, you don't deserve to be in the NFL. I'll pass that recommendation along the commissioner. Alright back to the never ending picks (unlike the neverending story, which clearly made a promise to me (that they broke along with my heart) when I entered the theater that the movie would never end, this is not a legally binding promise).

Cincinnati at Buffalo (pick 'em)

Well the SM is useless here. This situation doesn't come up very often. We have a fairly anemic Buffalo offense against hard to figure out Bengals. The Bengals looked like the best team in football early last season, but have been mediocre every since. They gave up an astonishing 51 points to Cleveland earlier in the season, so we know that they have the ability to give up a lot of points. They also scored 45 points in that game, so we know that they can put points on the board. Their biggest accomplishment this season was holding New England under 40 points. Buffalo has won two fairly low scoring games in a row. The question is whether they can stop the Bengals offense. I'm leaning toward the Bengals in the is game (because I flipped a coin and it came up heads). I say this one goes the way of the tigers 24-13.

San Diego (-7) at Minnesota

San Diego seems to be rolling after an early season hiccup. Minnesota pretty much has one weapon, Adrian Peterson. He has had one incredible game and the Vikings rolled to 34 points. Outside of that they have been fairly pedestrian. The SM says take the home dog, and while I have no reason to think that the game will go that way, who am I to argue. San Diego 30-24.

Seattle at Cleveland (-1)

Look how far the mighty have fallen. Just two seasons ago the Seahawks were in the Superbowl, now they are underdogs to Cleveland. The Browns are no longer a pushover and have scored over 40 points in two games this year. I have no reason to believe that Seattle will be able to overcome the Dog Pound. Screw the SM take the Browns 24-13.

New England (-5.5) at Indianapolis

Indianapolis 34-31. I think there's been enough written about this game. Plus I really want to be done with this.

Houston at Oakland (-3)

Oakland's not very good. They've lost three games in a row in fact. Their offense is anemic, although Dante Culpepper is capable of putting up big numbers. Houston also sucks. This is another battle between terrible teams. The NFL seems to specialize in these. Go with the SM. Houston 3-0.

Baltimore at Pittsburgh (-9)

Baltimore gets Steve McNair back this week. That's enough for me to endorse the SM pick in this game. Pittsburgh wins a close one 24-21.

That's it for the week. As I've stated in the past, my expertise lies between the white lines of a baseball diamond, so I wouldn't go taking out a second mortgage to lay down bets based on my picks. I'll be back on Monday to give you the rundown of my shame.

*The SM (patent pending) picks the underdog to cover the spread in every game and has a winning percentage pushing 60% (Unsubstantiated claim. The Speigler Method has never been studied by an independent lab, Government Scientists, God, Man or Yale. Therefore I will not accept your card and letters complaining about said method).