Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Don't do situps in your driveway: the Terrell Owens story

It is being reported that Terrell Owens has torn his ACL and already had surgery on it. At the earliest, he will be able to return in November. He appeared to have torn it while taping a show for VH1. There is concern that this may be the end of the road for Owens, as he is already 37. It is perhaps a fitting end to Owens' very flamboyant career. However, its not like there are any other signs that say he can't play anymore. Last year he played with the Bengals, and had a decent season with nearly a thousand yards on 72 catches with a quarterback that couldn't throw more than 15 yards. Depending on how his knee heals, one would think he would still be able to be a positive contributer on any team. I would be shocked if he never plays again.

Now the debate is as to whether Terrell Owens should be a Hall of Famer. When you look at the numbers, there is no debate. Career-wise, Owens ranks behind only Jerry Rice in all-time receiving yardage and is third behind Rice and Randy Moss in receiving touchdowns. In fact, in basically every receiving category, if he is not 2nd, he is in the top 5. Statistically, he is probably the 2nd best receiver of all time. Now one can make the legitimate argument that in the past 10-15 years, rules have made it easier to pass, therefore, its easier to be a receiver. The only problem with this is that Owens is the best receiver of this pass happy era, with only Randy Moss even in the running of challenging him. Make no mistake, Owens was the best receiver of the 2000s. The only reason anyone is questioning whether he is a Hall of Famer or not is because he is kind of an ass. Yeah, he did some sit-ups in his driveway while the media was trying to talk to him, and stood at midfield on the Cowboy's star, but its not like he was ever in trouble with the law. He didn't kill a bunch of dogs, his wife, or shoot some guy in a bar. He hasn't even got in the trouble that many athletes get in trouble with, like petty drug offenses, or getting into fights. Not to mention that this is a guy who played in the Super Bowl with a broken leg, and played an entire season with the Cowboys with a broken hand. One would think this makes up for carrying a sharpie in his sock, but I guess we will see what crybaby football writers decide to do.

Bold Prediction: Terrell Owens gets 4 more reality shows this year.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Why you should be impressed with the Tampa Bay Rays

The Tampa Bay Rays are just 3 and a half games back from the Red Sox, with the Yankees a game and a half behind them, in what is widely considered the best division in baseball. Why write an article about a third place team? Well lets crunch some numbers:

The Yankees have a payroll of 197 million dollars, the Red Sox (third in the rankings) have a 160 million dollar payroll. The Tampa Bay Rays have just a 42 million dollar payroll, the second lowest in the majors. That means that the Rays are competing with teams that have over 4 times their payroll. Johnny Damon is the highest paid player on the Rays, but if he played for the Yankees, he would be the 11th highest paid player.

This past offseason they lost Matt Garza (one of their top starters), Carlos Pena (starting first baseman and a power hitter), Rafael Soriano (closer), Joaquin Beniot (setup man), and Carl Crawford (clearly their best player, and stud outfielder who could run, hit, and field). To make matters worse, Soriano and Crawford went to division rivals Yankees and Red Sox. This doesn't even mention the Manny Ramirez debacle, who was their second biggest acquisition in the offseason (their first being Johnny Damon), only to not hit in the first couple weeks off the season, fail a steroid test, and then retire.

They aren't without players, David Price is a Cy Young caliber pitcher (James Shields is having that kind of season currently), Damon is solid, Matt Joyce is having an All Star Season, Sam Fuld is an incredibly fun player to watch, and Evan Longoria is starting to feel it, and when he is on, he is one of the best in baseball. However, when your going up against A-Rod, Adrian Gonzalez, Jon Lester, and C.C. Sabathia, its hard to call the Rays “loaded” in any sense.

Joe Maddon may be the smartest man to ever don a managerial uniform. I remember when he was hired, the Rays had not had any success whatsoever in franchise history. I remember some analysts insisting that he would be the guy that could turn it around because he was that good. I exhibited my cynical skepticism and insisted "Lou Pinella couldn't make them good, neither can this guy". My ignorance and wrongheadedness should be enough to disqualify me from writing any posts on baseball.
Call me back in August and we will judge whether this article was worth writing or not, but the Rays are having a heck of a season so far, and people should be impressed. If the Rays continue to stay in the race, then Maddon has to be manager of the year for the AL.

Bold Prediction: The United States Government, with nothing better to do, shuts down this blog for being so misinformed.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Fourth Most Popular Sport in the States!

Musings on the Stanley Cup
It has been disappointing to see two of the games of the Stanley Cup finals appear on Versus, a NBC/GE/Comcast stepchild that most households don't receive. I guess NBC was too busy running the identical shows of America's Got Talent, and whatever other crappy American Idol ripoff show they happen to broadcast. Its been a very entertaining series that is now going to a game 7 and thankfully that will be on NBC. Its been a very strange series, as neither team can play on the road, especially Vancouver's goalie Roberto Luongo who is a god at home, but little more than the virgin that gets thrown in the volcano on the road.

Dallas Stars New coach?
The Dallas Starts appear to be naming Glen Gulutzan, their minor league coach, as their new coach.
This has to be a disappointing hire, this is a team that fell one game short of making the playoffs last year. However, they are most likely losing their super star and best scorer Brad Richards, and are having ownership problems as Tom Hicks is trying to see how many organizations in how many countries he can tank (I hear he owns a team in Yemen). I wasn't real sure why they fired Crawford after the season, they weren't expected to do anything and, as previously noted, nearly made the playoffs. For whatever reason, coaches in hockey and basketball aren't given much of a leash.

Bold Prediction: The Montreal Canadians somehow win the Stanley Cup  

The Mavericks: the typical Hollywood story

Its a story that was made in some lame Hollywood studio (and the NBA would know about acting). A team that hasn't won a title in their 30 years of existence, a team that has won 50 games every year for the past decade only to have playoff disappointment after disappointment, finally wins the championship.

You won't see me post much on basketball here, in fact it may be my only post, but this is special. Not just because its a championship, but because of the story and being emotionally tied to the team. I have grown up in Central/North/West Texas my whole life, and I remember Dirk coming to the Mavericks, I
even remember when Steve Nash played for them. I watched the 06 finals when the Mavs collapsed and Wade couldn't do wrong and anyone who touched him was immediately executed by the referees and sacrificed to the god Camazotz. I also remember last year, when the Mavericks had a great season, only to get their heads bashed in by the Spurs. So at the start of this season, I had no hope for the Mavericks. Even when they made the playoffs I, just like the majority of local radio hosts, had them losing in the first round to Portland. The 23 point collapse on April 23rd just seemed to confirm all the
pessimism towards the team. However, they bounced back and end up winning the series. Even more shocking was that the Lakers laid down and the Mavericks pounced, sweeping them. Then the Mavericks handled Oklahoma City, allowing even the most cynical Dallas fans (I might be the most) to allow for some hope. Watching Dirk run off the court into the hallway after the Mavs won the title was straight out of some corny sports film. The Heat played the role of every "bad guy" showboating
powerful team that gets beat at the end (of course watching Mike Bibby get minutes was more like watching the not-as-funny sequel to Grumpy Old Men). Its stories and moments like this that remind every sports fan why they waste all their lives listening to Stan Van Gundy yell out fragmented grunts into a microphone.

Bold Prediction: Mark Cuban's ego becomes so massive that it sues Cuba for all its worth, and succeeds the Castros and every citizen of the country will be forced to watch Shark Tank.  

Monday, June 13, 2011

You Can't do that to Baseball!

Major League Baseball is considering shaking up its league alignment and giving both the American and National League 15 teams each, which means that one National League team would move to the American League. The thinking is that it would have to be a team from the NL Central moving to the AL west. The favorite seems to be the Houston Astros moving to the AL to foster a rivalry with the Texas Rangers. This must be long term thinking however, as the Astros have been terrible the past couple of seasons and been destroyed in inter-league play by the Rangers. There are also reports that the Baseball gods may only approve of the sale of the Astros if the new owner agrees to move his team to the AL.

Of course baseball is a fairly conservative sport, probably more than any other sport, change is met with great resistance. There was nearly rioting in the street over the DH (some baseball purists refuse to acknowledge it exists, much like Highlander nerds refuse to acknowledge the remake), and then the Wildcard. However, this obviously doesn't mean there can't be change. The DH did come about and the Wildcard did happen, and its a better league because of it (can you imagine no Jim Thome, David Ortiz, no 2003 Florida Marlins, or no 2004 “curse-breaking” Red Sox?).

A big part of this deal would that there would be two ideas that I find at least concerning, 2 more teams would make the playoffs, and there would be weekly inter-league games. Baseball currently has 8 teams going to the playoffs, 4 from each league. The winners of the 3 divisions in each league and one Wildcard team make it. Compared to other major sports leagues, baseball has the smallest playoff field. This leads to over half the teams being out of it by the All-Star break, and 95% of teams that are under .500 by June 1st missing the playoffs. It does seem that having such a small amount of teams making the playoffs diminishes the drama a long regular season could provide. While you certainly have to be a very good team to make the playoffs, having your team out of the race by June is certainly frustrating and can cause fan apathy (not to mention the economic impact, which I won't addresshere). However, one doesn't want to go the other way and be like the NBA and NHL where over half of the teams make the playoffs, making much of the regular season pointless as well. It does seem that the NFL probably has the best balance, as 12 of 32 teams make the playoffs (with the best 4 being rewarded with a bye round, something that probably isn't feasible in baseball). That seems like a ratio that baseball should shoot for, I think 10 out of 30 is a balance. So while I largely agree with the playoff expansion and am agnostic about switching a team to the other league, I don't like the inter-league plan. By having an inter-league series every week, I believe it gets rid of the alluring factor of inter-league play. I know there has been some criticism of inter-league play in the past few weeks, but I like inter-league play, and because I like inter-league play, I don't like this plan. Inter-league play is interesting because it wasn't something that had happened for almost all of baseball history, and now only happens for 2-3 weeks a season, and I think this adds to the interest to the early-mid parts of the season. It loses this if there is an inter-league series every weekend.

Bold Prediction: Bud Selig becomes his alter-ego, Mothra, fights Godzilla, and the Cubs move to Washington State to foster a rivalry with the Mariners.

Thoughts on the NFL labor dispute

For those not familiar with the situation, there may not be a NFL season this fall because of a labor dispute. Simply, the contract between the players and owners is up, and they have to write a new one. They can’t agree to what should be in the new contract, so the owners may end up locking the players out. I am a football fan, I enjoy the sport, so obviously I want to see them play. The main argument seems to be (while at one point it seemed to be as to whether there should be an 18 game schedule instead of a 16 game schedule, talk of this seems to have died down) as to how to share 9 billion dollars in revenue. How can they not share 9 billion dollars? The players want a bigger piece of the pie than what they have been getting, while the owners want to keep their much larger piece and perhaps expand it. The greed is indicative of the capitalistic system we find ourselves in. Its hard to be sympathetic with players who make millions of dollars (the big reps and union defenders have been Drew Brees and Peyton Manning, two of the highest paid players in the league, how come millionaires can have unions but not teachers? I am waiting for Republican lawmakers to go after these unions), but the owners are even greedier. They are billionaires.

This system is a joke, the fans are not thought of, only the greed of millionaires and billionaires is considered. I suggest that each city, that has a team in it, owns their team, or people are allowed to buy stocks in the team like the Green Bay Packers already allow (they do not have a real owner, instead people can own part of the team). In this system, the greedy billionaire is replaced, and players would get paid between 100,000 dollars to 250,000 dollars a year, depending on their talent level, get retirement packages (that comes from the league) of half their average salaries for the rest of their lives and would of course be free to work after they retire from football if they liked (and could pay into and draw from social security like the rest of us). For city owned teams, any profits made off the team goes to the city, which will hold ballot initiatives to decide how to spend the money. After all, the teams make money by people spending their money by going to the games, and buying memorabilia, so shouldn’t the people get back that money in some way? Or should the money go to billionaires and millionaires?

I originally posted this article on my political blog in April.