Monday, October 29, 2007

Scott Boras is an Idiot

Okay, so that's not news. But Boras did make some news over the weekend by announcing (to no one's surprise) that A-Rod has opted out of his contract with the Yankees. But that's not why Boras is an idiot. In fact, I've been in favor of getting A-Rod out of town since last year's playoff meltdown. It's just that even when doing the right thing, Boras comes off as an ass.

As we all know, A-Rod had until 10 days past the World Series to make his call. So Boras makes the announcement last night during the World Series. His rationale? (And believe me, it's Boras' rationale; A-Rod is just along for the ride.) With the identity of the Yankee manager and the contract statuses of Rivera, Posada and Pettitte still undetermined, there were simply too many question marks in Yankee-land:

"Alex's decision was one based on not knowing what his closer, his catcher and one of his statured pitchers was going to do. He really didn't want to make any decisions until he knew what they were doing."
Umm, so let me see if I'm following this. A-Rod doesn't want to make any decisions until he knows what the Yankees are doing. So he makes the decision to leave the Yankees. Ten days earlier than needed. Right. Thanks, Scott.

Of course, this whole charade makes it that much easier to part ways with Mr. O-fer-tober. Not that I needed convincing, but there were plenty of folks who thought A-Rod should stay, no matter the cost. Instead, we're left with all his empty pronouncements, including this gem, from not even a month ago:

"I've always said it: I love New York. For me, as a player, to come full circle in New York, it's the most comfortable I've felt. Hopefully, things work out."
Well, Alex, when you're content to let your ego-maniacal agent pull all the strings, you pretty much know how this one is going to "work out". Good night, good luck, and good riddance.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Hanging Chad

Finally, it looks like the Chad Pennington Era has come to an end. Please don't start about how Kellen Clemens looked even worse, or that he didn't look ready, etc. The bottom line is that the future for the Jets starts now. 2007 is but a memory; it's all about 2008.

Barring injury, Pennington shouldn't take another snap in a Jets' uniform. He's proven, time and again, that his days as an NFL signal-caller are no longer. Regardless of what Clemens does from here on out, he needs to play. Clemens should take the reps with the first team all week. Sure, he'll make his share of mistakes, but there's nothing that gets you prepared to play quarterback in the NFL better than actually playing QB in the NFL. The Jets need to know now if Clemens is the real deal. A half a season at the helm should tell them just that.

And even if Clemens proves to be no better than Pennington, at least the Jets will know. Besides, if Clemens plays poorly, the Jets, more than likely, are going to continue to lose. And with losing, comes a pretty good shot of landing a brand new stud QB in the upcoming draft.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Who's the Bad Guy Now?

There's been an awful lot of fallout concerning the Yankees' handling of the Joe Torre situation. Much of the media angle has been to slam the Yanks, but I'd say there's widespread support for what the team did, too. The irony, though, is that I don't think what the Yankees did actually affected anyone's opinion. If you thought Joe should stay, then you were offended by the Yankees non-offer and applaud Joe for turning them down. On the other hand, if you thought it was time to turn the page on Ol' Joe, then you thought allowing him to remain the highest-paid manager in baseball while expecting a little success in return was more than fair. It fit each scenario nicely, which I suppose is as well as the Yankees could have played this.

I, for one, was staunchly in the "Joe Must Go" camp and felt the Yanks offer was more than fair. Look, is it so wrong to ask the man in charge of baseball's highest-paid collection of talent to win something every once in a while? All I keep hearing is "12 playoff appearances, 6 World Series, 4 Championships." Very nice. Joe's a Hall-of-Famer, but as the "What have you done for me lately?" crowd will exclaim, Joe's success has been very much front-loaded. Three straight first-round losses, not to mention the historic 2004 collapse that preceded them, is a cause for concern.

As for the offer itself, I understand, on the face, the notion of the pay cut being an insult. If my employer (with whom, by the way, I don't have a contract) told me he was going to cut my salary from $75,000 to $50,000 next year, that would definitely irk me. If, however, he said I could earn $10,000 bonuses based on hitting a few milestones, to the point where I might actually exceed my original salary, then maybe it's not so bad. And really, isn't winning a playoff series or two a reasonable expectation? If it's good enough for Les Moonves, then it should be good enough for Joe.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Why Athletes Should Not Be Role Models

I can’t take credit for compiling this list, nor can I verify whether any of the following was said by any of the following individuals. But it’s still funny…

· New Orleans Saints RB George Rogers when asked about the upcoming season: "I want to rush for 1,000 or 1,500 yards, whichever comes first."

· Upon hearing Joe Jacoby of the Redskins say, "I'd run over my own mother to win the Super Bowl,” Matt Millen of the Raiders said: "To win, I'd run over Joe's Mom, too."

· Football commentator and former player Joe Theismann in 1996: "Nobody in football should be called a genius. A genius is a guy like Norman Einstein."

· Senior basketball player at the University of Pittsburgh: "I'm going to graduate on time, no matter how long it takes."

· Bill Peterson, a Florida State football coach: "You guys line up alphabetically by height." And "You guys pair up in groups of three, then line up in a circle."

· Boxing promoter Dan Duva on Mike Tyson again hooking up with promoter Don King: "Why would anyone expect him to come out smarter? He went to prison for three years, not Princeton."

· Stu Grimson, Chicago Blackhawks left wing, explaining why he keeps a color photo of himself above his locker: "That's so when I forget how to spell my name, I can still find my clothes."

· Shaquille O'Neal on whether he had visited the Parthenon during his visit to Greece: "I can't really remember the names of the clubs that we went to."

· Shaquille O'Neal, in 1994, on his lack of championships: "I've won at every level, except college and pro."

· Lou Duva, veteran boxing trainer, on the Spartan training regimen of heavyweight Andrew Golota: "He's a guy who gets up at six o'clock in the morning regardless of what time it is."

· Pat Williams, Orlando Magic general manager, on his team's 7-27 record in 1992: "We can't win at home. We can't win on the road. As general manager, I just can't figure out where else to play."

· Chuck Nevitt, North Carolina State basketball player, explaining to Coach Jim Valvano why he appeared nervous at practice: "My sister's expecting a baby, and I don't know if I'm going to be an uncle or an aunt."

· Steve Spurrier, Florida football coach, telling Gator fans that a fire at Auburn's football dorm had destroyed 20 books: "But the real tragedy was that 15 hadn't been colored in yet."

· Jim Finks, New Orleans Saints General Manager, when asked after a loss what he thought of the refs: "I'm not allowed to comment on lousy, no-good officiating."

· Alan Kulwicki, stock car racer, on racing Saturday nights as opposed to Sunday afternoons: "It's basically the same, only darker."

· Frank Layden, Utah Jazz president, on a former player: "I told him, 'Son, what is it with you? Is it ignorance or apathy?' He said, 'Coach, I don't know and I don't care."

· Torri Polk, University of Houston receiver, on his coach, John Jenkins: "He treats us like men. He lets us wear earrings."

· Shelby Metcalf, basketball coach at Texas A&M, recounting what he told a player who received four F's and one D: "Son, it looks to me like you're spending too much time on one subject."

· And the gem: then Houston Oiler coach Bum Phillips when asked by Bob Costas why he takes his wife on all road trips, Phillips responded: "Because she is too damn ugly to kiss good-bye."

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Screw Mariano, Too

Well, this was inevitable. Now Mariano Rivera is throwing his two cents into the Save Torre / Ditch Torre debate:
"I don't feel good about it," Rivera said Wednesday, two days after the Yankees were eliminated from the playoffs. "I don't see why they're even thinking (about letting Torre go). I wish he's back, definitely. If you ask me what I would want, I want him back."
OK, fine, defend your manager. I get it -- players love Joe, he's the only major league manager Mariano's ever had. But here's where the story turns south for me:

Rivera's contract also is expiring and he is eligible to become a free agent. He said whether Torre returns will help determine whether he remains with the Yankees.

"It might do a lot of it," he said. "I mean, I've been with Joe for so many years, and the kind of person he has been for me and for my teammates. It's been great. The thing is that I don't see why they have to put him in this position."

So not only is Mariano demanding a new contract on his terms, but now he's running the team, too? If that's his attitude -- and frankly, I haven't been too fond of his attitude in recent years -- then Mariano also should start looking for new houses. Maybe he and Joe could share a place in St. Louis. (I hear they may be looking for a new manager, soon.)

After all, Mariano started whining about this in spring training, when he got all uppity about the Yankees refusal to offer him an extension:
"The Yankees always knew that I wanted to be with the Yankees and finish my career with the Yankees," he said. "If they don't want to do [anything] with me, I'm not go home crying. I'm going to move on."
Really, Mariano? Seeing as how you haven't had to close out any World Series wins lately, I'm thinking that if you're so flummoxed with the Yanks then maybe it's time to part ways. Closers have a limited shelf life; while Mariano has certainly extended his, there's going to come a day when he goes from extraordinary to just plain ordinary and the Yankees shouldn't be stuck with the bill. (Thank you, Roger, you can put your hand down now.)

I'm all for players getting paid. Okay, I'm not all for it -- to me, there's something unseemly about fleeing a city and the fans that have embraced you for so long over a few extra million, considering the utter largess these athletes command. There's something refreshing about the "home-team discount", a player realizing that he's made more money in his career than anyone who plays a game for a living has a right to, and that maybe taking "only" $12 million per year is worth more in goodwill than the $14 million he might get elsewhere. If Mariano wants to play the field, more power to him. Just don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Housecleaning in the Bronx

Here’s a question: if King George doesn’t threaten Joe Torre’s job, are we all still sitting here today wringing our hands, pleading for another go-round for good ol’ Joe? All sentiment aside – and really, what is the defense for keeping Torre other than that? – shouldn’t someone be held accountable for “leading” the world’s most expensive collection of baseball talent to three straight first-round losses? Coaches have been fired for less.

And if you’re one of those who believe that it’s the players who play the game – and who can argue with that? – then what role, exactly, does a manager play? Shouldn’t the man in charge of a $200 million roster get more out of his players than Torre has gotten in the last three years? The last seven years?

Joe Torre has cemented his place in Yankees’ history. No one can ever take that away. There will be a Joe Torre day at the Stadium, probably sometime soon. But today it’s time for a change.

And speaking of changes, the manager won’t be the only one. First and foremost: so long, A-Rod. As Mr. O-fer-tober has proven at every stop he’s made, you don’t need the best player in baseball to win a championship. Would the Yankees have made the playoffs this year without his offense? Probably not. Does it matter now? Not by a long shot. I know the Yankees don’t have a budget like other teams, but can you imagine to how much better use the Yanks can put that $30 million than tie it up in a ridiculous contract for A-Rod? For a third of that money they could sign Mike Lowell and use the rest to shore up the pitching staff.

Ah, yes, the pitching. Never has so much been spent on so little. Igawa. Pavano. Farnsworth. Mussina. Clemens. Good riddance, all. Unfortunately, among the ones they should keep, Chin Mien Wang is not a #1 pitcher. The Indians made that perfectly clear. But I’d have no problem with him as the #2. Andy Pettitte pitched well enough in spurts to be invited back as the #4 starter. Between them I’d stick Phil Hughes, and maybe throw Ian Kennedy at the back. Of course, that leaves a rather gaping hole at the top. But that’s why we have George. And his money. Grab that broom and have at it, Boss...

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Why NOT Fire Willie?

So Willie is coming back to the Mets in '08, thus ending the rampant speculation he would take the rap for the Mets' epic collapse. According to his GM, Omar Minaya, Willie's done a heckuva job:

“I think that what Willie Randolph has done the last three years speaks for itself. I think, on the other hand, my relationship with Willie is very good, but I do believe that the way we lost, I have to sit down with ownership and tell them how I think.”

Ahh… So if we understand Omar correctly, he thinks Willie is keen, but if those Wilpons want him outta there, well, far be it from Omar to tell the boss what to do. All it really means, of course, is that if Willie’s Mets don’t get an invite to the post-season party in 2008 then Willie can pick up his check at the front desk on his way out.

But that leads to the inevitable question: why not just fire Willie now? What, exactly, has he done over these “last three years” that makes him so special? The Mets have the third-highest payroll in baseball so winning is sort of expected, no? It’s not like he led the Pirates into the playoffs... once.

As for the rest of his résumé, this is a guy who was placed at the helm of a franchise in the country’s biggest market without a single day of managerial experience. Not in Kansas City, not in AAA, not even in A-ball. I’ve heard time and again about all the experience Willie gained from his time as a Yankees coach. Let me tell you: sitting next to the guy driving the bus is not the same thing as driving the bus. I’m sure any Mets fan would have no trouble rattling off a dozen or so questionable moves Willie has made, especially during this slide of all slides. Can the Mets really afford a manager who's learning on the job?

Look, if you think Willie is a good manager who's only getting better, keep him. If, on the other hand, you're among the many who could go either way, who think that 2008 will tell the Willie Randolph story -- redemption or recrimination -- then why not cut bait now? As Joe Torre proved, a manager is generally only as good as his players (See his early-90's Cardinals vs. his late-90's Yanks). Willie had arguably the National League's most talented roster and managed to grind them into the dirt. That's potential? When we're back here in October '08 reading all the post-mortems on Willie's managerial career, remember where you heard it first.