Thursday, December 8, 2011

"El Hombre" heads West

Albert Pujols is now a member of the Angels. Wow. A 10-year, $250-million Angel, at that. Wow, wow, wow. This is bad on so many levels.

For starters, Albert Pujols had the opportunity to be a great hero, not only to the loyal fans of St. Louis, but to all fans, by showing us that there were some things bigger than money. But by shunning the Cards' offer for what amounts to an extra $3 million a year, Pujols is telling us it's all about the money. I really thought Pujols was different. Color me surprised.

Second, the contract: 10 years? Aside from the fact that the Angels will be paying a 41-year-old player $25 million, just how well have 10-year deals worked out in the past? A-Rod and the Rangers? Kevin Brown? Not a good track record.

Now let's fast forward to years 7, 8, 9 and 10: although Pujols is still one of the best players in baseball, his stats have declined steadily over the past three years. Guess what? That decline will continue. In St. Louis, fans would rabidly defend him because of what he's meant to the franchise, even as his production tails off. (Derek Jeter, anyone?) But as a money-grabbing free agent, Pujols' MVP awards from his St. Louis days won't carry any weight with Angels' fans looking for results from their $250-million man. (The Yankees, after all, were paying Jeter for what he'd already done for their team.)

Then there are the Angels. Sure, signing Pujols makes a splash. Last season, the Angers were 10th in the AL in runs scored and 9th in slugging.No one can deny that Pujols will make a difference in the lineup, but does he make them $25 million better? Would that money be better spent on upgrading two different positions? And what of Mark Trumbo, the young, incumbent first-baseman and last year's offensive MVP for the club? How will he perform at another position or as a DH?

Throughout this whole period, I never believed the Marlins could pull the trigger and doubted the Cubs could pull off an intra-division move. In the end, I thought the lure of St. Louis would draw Pujols back into the Cardinals fold. Never did I see Pujols pulling off a run-for-the-money like this. I'm going to wait and see until I'm proven wrong, but I don't like this one at all...

Monday, November 14, 2011

NBA Breakdown -- but not the good kind

So the NBA players and owners have taken one step closer to doomsday. Or, at least that's what the players seem to be implying. Now I understand that the players are only trying to protect their livelihoods. And that an offer accepted now will impact the salaries that players can receive for the indefinite future. It's fair not to accept an offer that wouldn't be good in the long term just to solve a short-term problem.

That said, as we fans sit in our under-valued homes, cashing our meager paychecks, and simply trying to make ends meet, it rings rather hollow to hear NBA players talk about getting their "fair share". Being paid $10 million a year instead of $15 million is a problem we'd all like to have. The battle between the greedy owners and slightly less greedy players -- who, by the way, are all vying for a chance to divvy up our money -- isn't making either side any friends.

The bright side, though, might be seen in the revitalized NHL. They cancelled a season when the owners determined that old model of business just wasn't working. The league -- both for owners and players -- has emerged healthier than ever. Sure, it didn't hurt that the under-employed players were willing to back off on a few demands in order to work again. But being paid millions to play a kid's game seems like a good deal, regardless of the conditions.

If a forfeit of the 2011-12 NBA season is what it will take to put the NBA on solid footing, then I don't see anyone in the cheap seats that are going to stand in their way. See you in 2012, guys!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Ride, Captain, Ride

Most fans are cheering loudly as Derek Jeter approaches 3,000 hits. There is that subculture, though -- Mets fans, Red Sox fans, Yankee-haters, etc. -- that are eager to tell you how over-rated Jeter is, how he can't hit anymore, can't field, yadda, yadda, yadda. Is Jeter the same player he was in 2001? Um, no. Can you point out to me another player who is as good as he was 10 years ago? Didn't think so. To say that Jeter is over-rated today is missing the point entirely. (But then, the Yankee-hater crowd is never big on logic.)

There are still those who say that the only reason Jeter is so exalted is because he played in New York and that he played on great teams. "Oh, anyone could have won on those teams!" Well, that is a hypothetical argument that can never be proven. But there are plenty of players on good teams that have nothing to show for it, so Jeter can't be knocked for winning. (Again, there's that anti-logic at work.)

Yet there are still those who would point to other players, stats, and whatever else they can grasp to diminish Jeter's career. Well, guess what? He's going to have 3,000 hits. I don't care where you played or when you played, because if you've got 3,000 hits -- something only 27 players in the history of the sport have achieved -- that's pretty exclusive company. And as for the company Jeter will soon keep, he'll walk in head held high.

Of the right-handed batters who collected their 3,000th hit in the last 20 years, Jeter will have the highest career average to go with them:

  • Paul Molitor -- 3,319 hits, .306 career average
  • Cal Ripken, Jr. -- 3,184, .276
  • Robin Yount -- 3,142, .285
  • Dave Winfield -- 3,110, .283
  • Craig Biggio -- 3,060, .281
  • Rickey Henderson -- 3,050, .279
  • Derek Jeter -- 2,998, .312
Not too shabby. Congratulations, Derek! You deserve it.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Backing Down

As if the Knicks' collective performance against the Celtics Friday night wasn't bad enough: now Amar'e Stoudemire doesn't know if he'll suit up for Game 4. Tell you what, Amar'e... don't bother.

The Knicks are paying Stoudemire nearly $100 million on a five-year contract. At this point, no one knows the severity of the injury to his back, or whether playing on it tomorrow afternoon will cause any long-term damage. But you know what? I'd rather not find out.

This series was lost last night. After two hard-fought, nail-biting, back-and-forth affairs with the Celtics that made Knicks fans believe that they were one good shot or one big stop away from victory, the Knicks turned in the kind of turkey that brought back memories of the teams that hadn't been to the playoffs in seven years. A 17-point first quarter hole. A 19-6 Celtics run in the 3rd. Extensive gar-bage time for most of the 2nd half.

No NBA team has ever overcome a 3-0 deficit in a playoff series. Even with a win tomorrow, the Knicks would be forced to hobble back to Boston to face an unruly TD Garden crowd for Game 5. Better to get it over with now, and save the possible wear-and-tear on Stoudemire.

Better luck next year.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Whither Rachel Phelps?

I know it's not nice to make fun of others less fortunate. And if you have nothing nice to say, say nothing. But has anyone seen the Mets lately? Seriously.

It's not just that they're a bad baseball team. They are. It's the way they're losing. In bunches. Under awful circumstances. The near-comic events surrounding not only their play on the field but the off-field circus is reminiscent of another sad-sack team: those Cleveland Indians.

It's gotten so bad, in fact, that Mets' manager Terry Collins is starting to sound an awful lot like Lou Brown:

"I can tell you, we’re going to break out, and when we do we’re going to win a lot of baseball games."

Whatever you say, Terry. Maybe he even believes it. But maybe the Mets just need a naked cardboard cut-out of Bernie Madoff in the locker room.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Fantasy Baseball

This is an end-around hosting solution. Let's see how it works.

Here is the logo for Nobody Beats The Azz, my fantasy baseball team.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


So Rich Rodriguez has been fired. Finally! Wait, not yet, apparently.

Ordinarily, I wouldn't put much stock in rumors. However, this time it looks like only the timing is the issue. No one seems to be disputing whether or not Rodriguez will be gone; it's only a matter of when the university can make it official. If that's the case, then it's the news Michigan fans have been waiting to hear since not long after RichRod's first disastrous season.

Unfortunately, part two of the dream scenario doesn't appear likely: a Michigan man may not be coaching Michigan next season, either. According to John Harbaugh, Jim's brother and an NFL coach himself, don't look for Jim in Ann Arbor any time soon:

"I don't know what he's going to do. I think the Michigan thing is done now. I think that's over. I don't think he's going to have anything to do with that."

Simply based on how much effort Harbaugh put into ducking any questions about next season following last night's Orange Bowl, he would appear finished with Stanford. So if he's leaving Stanford, and not going to Michigan, then the NFL will be his next destination. That's too bad for Michigan, but I'll be all smiles anyway if the search for Michigan's next coach begins this week.