Saturday, December 18, 2010

Legends and Leaders and Buckeyes, oh my!

The Big Ten came up with names for the newly-minted, 12-team, two-division football league that will begin play next season. No big deal you say? Ordinarily I'd agree. Except for the choice of names: "Legends" and "Leaders". Really.

So some team next season will be the "Big 10 Leaders leader"? We already know that there aren't any highly-ranked officials in the Big 10 that can count, so why should their grasp of language be any better? Predictably, it didn't take long for public outcry to begin building against these ill-advised names. Suprisingly, though, is how quickly the Big 10 brass, specifically Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany, has reacted to the bad reviews:

"I think we have enough experience with names, and expansion and development of divisions, to know that you never, rarely, get 90 percent approval rating. But to get a 90 percent non-approval rating was, you know, really surprising."

If Michigan had a guy who could backpedal that fast, they wouldn't have the nation's 111th-ranked pass defense. The most remarkable result of the backlash is that Delany is already talking about changing the names. That's just short of convening a committee.

I agree that by randomly shuffling the teams to create the divisions it makes it difficult to use geographical designations. I also don't think Delany is wrong in thinking that Wisconsin wouldn't want to compete in the "Hayes" or "Paterno" division.

That said, the men who run the Big 10 are all highly-paid executives at major institutions. Someone go grab some English Lit majors, put them in a room and check back in a few hours. You'll have some new division names in no time.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Captain Cash

Well, the Yankees finally got their man. After much public negotiation, Derek Jeter and the Yankees have agreed on a 3-year, $51 million contract. While it may have been much ado about nothing, it's a relief all across the board to have the deal done.

Sure, the Yanks are grossly overpaying Jeter. And I'm not sure what he'll be doing in three years, let alone the fourth year of the contract which has an option he'll almost certainly pick up. But as it's been said, the Yankees are probably the one team in baseball that can afford to overpay a player like Jeter.

In the end, this was a deal that had to be done -- neither side would have come out looking good had the two not come to an agreement. At the same time, Jeter was able to hold his ground and make the statement, at least from a salary standpoint, that he's still one of the top players in the game. For the Yankees, they win the PR contest, as they were willing to pay whatever it took to keep the face of the franchise in the Bronx.

Throughout this "free agency" period, much attention has been focused on where Jeter will end up playing as his defensive skills continue to erode. Oddly enough, that doesn't concern me at all. With A-Rod to his right and Robby Cano to his left, Jeter is sandwiched between some good defenders. And with Mark Teixeira cleaning up anything thrown his way, the Yanks can afford to have an again Jeter manning the middle, at least for another couple of years.

Even on offense, perhaps last season was just an aberration, considering how well Jeter played in 2009. Besides, the Yankees have such a talented cast -- and the ability to replenish it -- that even with declining skills, Jeter won't slow the Yanks down.

All told, it's great to have the Captain back in the fold. Considering how it could have gone down -- Ken Griffey, Jr. in a Reds uniform or Joe Montana playing for KC? -- it's nothing but good new for the Yankees and their legion of fans.