February 2009

Remember when Peds were just shoes?…

I liked Dave Letterman’s admission that he took “performance enhancing vodka” during his prior years with NBC on Late Night…

 

OSWALT CALLS OUT STEROID USERS

 

When I first saw Roy Oswalt’s critical comments of Alex Rodriguez this morning on ESPN, I couldn’t help but wonder if Oswalt had said anything about his buddies, former Astros pitchers Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens.  To his credit, he did include those guys when he made his critical statements about PED users. 

 

big league chew

MLB

 

However, he is taking the softer “innocent until proven guilty” approach with Clemens, and indicated that he doesn’t have anything against the admitted users.  However, he stated “Only the guys that have been proven guilty, their numbers shouldn’t count…I love Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens just like brothers.  I’ve played with them for three years.  They’re great teammates and I would love to have them on my team this year, but the way I feel I feel like they cheated me out of the game just because of the way they enhanced themselves but I’ve done it by working out”. 

 

Oswalt is a proponent of two record books.  One book for “clean” players and separate book for the admitted and proven steroids users.

 

“Now with the testing we have in place, there’s no way you can get around it,” Oswalt said.  “I think in the last two years or three years the game’s been clean, real clean.  It’s probably one of the cleanest sports out there.  There’s really no way to beat the tests with what’s in place now.”

 

Q&A

 

With a little modification, these old lawyer jokes can become very timely:

 

Q:  What’s the difference between a dead dog and a dead A-Rod in the road?

A:  There are skid marks in front of the dog.

 

Q:  What do you have when A-Rod is buried up to his neck in sand?

A:  Not enough sand.

 

Q:  How can you tell when A-Rod is lying?

A:  His lips are moving.

 

Q:  Why did God make snakes just before making A-Rod?

A:  To practice.

 

Q:   What’s the difference between A-Rod and a bucket of pond scum?

A:  The bucket.

 

These pretty much sum up the gist and tone of the articles I’ve been reading about A-Rod lately…

 

 

A FEW OF YESTERDAY’S MOVES AND SOME ODDS & ENDS

 

Bobby Abreu to the Angels on a one year deal.  Money-wise it was a fair deal for the Angels, but hopefully, they’ll be able to DH him more often than not given his defensive shortcomings at this stage of his career.

 

Kevin Millar continues his circuit of the AL East by signing with the Toronto Blue Jays.  I suppose that this means he will be with Tampa or New York next year…

 

Frank Viola to the Cleveland Indians as spring training pitching instructor.  It’s good to see Frank’s name again.  He was a teammate of Cleveland manager Eric Wedge in 1992 while they were with the Red Sox.  Hey Frank, good luck with the American Idle (i.e., Carl Pavano)…

 

Adam Dunn to the Nationals on a two year deal.  So much for Dunn’s plans to play for a contender.  I do feel bad for Nick Johnson.  He had so much promise when he came up with the Yankees, but injuries have robbed him of a good career and now he has no position to play…

 

I am pulling for a return to Seattle by Ken Griffey, Jr.  It would be nice to see him end it where he started.  By the way, can you take A-Rod with you?  Just kidding!

 

 

Of the Yankee players who have shown up in Tampa early, I was pleased to see that the list included Nick Swisher.  I remain hopeful that the Yankees either trade Xavier Nady, or simply keep both Nady and Swisher.  I keep hearing that the Braves are interested in Swisher, but I’d rather keep him on the roster to see if he can rebound from last year’s White Sox disaster.

 

Yankees pitchers and catchers report to camp TOMORROW!  Bring it on!  J

 

Can We Talk About Baseball Yet?…

GLOVES, BATS, BALLS AND STEROIDS…

Unfortunately, it’s not exactly in that order.  I was very hurt and disappointed when I first heard about Alex Rodriguez on Saturday and I decided in my mind what he needed to do.  But I’ll admit what I expected him to do and what I thought he would do were two entirely different scenarios.  I did think that he’d come off smugly, trying to play the cameras.  I realize that many are taking issues with the words Alex said during his confession, but from my perspective, he was talking from the heart.  I really could not have asked for more.  Unlike others, I do not feel that Alex’s achievements should be stricken from the record.  There are many others who have cheated and weren’t caught, and the names of the other 103 players from the list of those who tested positive in 2003 are still unknown.  There were no penalties for what Alex did in 2001-2003, and assuming that he is telling the truth about no subsequent drug use, he has continued to put up numbers to justify the size of his contract. 

I am still very distrustful of Joe Canseco.  It does bother me that the entire A-Rod situation has given Canseco more credibility.  “I think I have the ear of the nation now,” Canseco said Tuesday.  “I think everyone realizes that I have not in any way, shape or form tried to create smoke and mirrors like Major League Baseball has and the players have.  I have been excrutiatingly honest about what’s going on in baseball”.  Why do I keep getting the visual of Tom Cruise?

Help Me Help You

I am in full agreement with Lance Berkman’s take on the steroid issue.  “Nobody’s going to be believed anymore.  I can sit here and crow and say I’ve never done steroids or never done anything illegal from a standpoint of performance enhancing drugs, but who’s going to believe me?  The point’s well made, because we’re all guilty by association.  One side of me is glad that these guys are getting outed”.  Lance, please be sure to tell Miggy hello for me…

 photo

Karen Warren Houston Chronicle

Derek Jeter is justifiably ready to talk about baseball and only baseball.  As he indicated in Tampa, “I’m not addressing Alex’s situation until everybody’s here.  I’ll do it the first day over there” (Steinbrenner Field for the first full squad workout on February 18th).  Jeter also stated “If you’ve got baseball questions, I’ll do that…I don’t want to talk to you guys today and tomorrow three more people.  It’s better to get everyone together”.  DJ, I bet you’re looking forward to giving A-Rod a big hug when you see him, huh?

Lastly, I also agree with Joe Girardi’s take.  I think I saw one blog that predicted an 18 HR, 45 BRI season from A-Rod due to the controversy/distraction.  But as Joe so aptly put it “I would probably be worried if he had never been through a controversy before…”.  Alex will have a rough couple of weeks when he reports to camp, and while he is playing in the WBC, but I think the controversy will die down as the season gets underway and Alex will put up his usual numbers.  Joe also lent his support to A-Rod by saying, “I felt he told the truth and we have to move on.  It’s going to take some time.  It’s going to take some time healing.  But we’ll get through this as a team.”  As the saying goes, “What doesn’t kill us, makes us stronger”…

Joe Girardi, who has pledged his support to Alex Rodriguez, said of the team,

David Goldman The New York Times

STANLEY CUP PREVIEW?

A great win by the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday night.  The Boston Bruins were 26-0-2 this season when leading after two periods.  With Boston ahead 2-1 after two periods last night, the Sharks scored four unanswered goals in the final period (including three in the span of 6:16 minutes by Patrick Marleau, Milan Michalek and Joe Thornton).  Thornton, facing the Bruins for just the second time since the November 2005 trade that brought him to San Jose, said “We just turned it on, and usually when we turn it on, teams can’t handle us”.

AP Photo/Elise Amendola

By the way, a very nice drop pass from Dan Boyle to Michalek who beat Boston goalie Tim Thomas high on the glove side.

The Western Conference leading Sharks, with 81 points, trail the Eastern Conference leading Bruins by four points.  Hopefully, these two teams will have the opportunity to meet again for the Stanley Cup championship…

 

A-Rod admits use of PEDS in pre-Yankee years…

A-Rod speaks…

I have to admit that Alex Rodriguez has done exactly what I expected him to do.  Granted, he had plenty of professional and legal advice in the hours leading up to his interview with ESPN, but I feel that he handled the situation in the best possible manner under the circumstances. 

He admitted taking a banned substance, was apologetic, and expressed the proper degree of regret and remorse.  So long as there are no further disclosures of subsequent drug use, I do feel that A-Rod can slowly begin to rebuild his image and legacy.  Sure, he’ll be harassed in opposing cities, and even at home until he slams a few game winning home runs.  But clearly, Alex has handled this much better than, say, Roger Clemens or Barry Bonds. 

None of us will ever know the pressure that goes with a then-record $252 million contract and an intense desire to not only be among the best but to be the very best.  It’s not an excuse to cheat, but it was an era that did not have the necessary controls in place. 

Actually, A-Rod may benefit from being the first of 104 players disclosed as testing positive for PEDs in 2003.  Right now, the spotlight is clearly on him, but once the other 103 names start to filter out, there will be other surprises and the attention A-Rod is currently receiving will be significantly diluted. 

I found it absurd that the New York Daily News would actually suggest that the Yankees should simply drop A-Rod and the “eat” the remainder of the $275 contract.  To simply prove a point?  That makes absolutely no sense to me.  If Alex truly stopped using PEDs after 2003, it means that he has been clean for over five years.  There needs to be a statue of limitations for forgiveness.

I was fooled by A-Rod once, but I am willing to give the guy another chance to prove himself.  Hopefully, the rest of America will agree.  But, Alex, don’t let us down again…

 

Congratulations to Tiger Woods and family…

Congratulations to Tiger and Elin for the birth of their second child, a son named Charlie Axel Woods.  The baby was born Sunday night according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.

I liked the ESPN comment that said “Let the records show that Woods now trails Jack Nicklaus by four majors and three offspring”. 

Tiger’s daughter, Sam Alexis, was born June 19, 2007.

Hopefully, Tiger will be back in action soon despite the “increased” household…

Tiger Woods and his wife Elin prior to attending the Ryder Cup welcome dinner this week.

 

3 Days to Camp…

Despite the ongoing A-Rod saga and the residual effect of The Yankee Years, I am getting excited about Yankees camp opening this Friday for pitchers and catchers.  The first workout is scheduled for Saturday.  It is going to be so fantastic to see Yankee-related interviews involving others than just A-Rod, Joe Torre, and Derek Jeter. 

What’s the over/under for how long it takes CC Sabathia to take command of the Yankees’ clubhouse?  His energy and personality will bring so much to the team, and it will be great to see him prepare for the Yankee Stadium home opener on April 16th.  I feel the city of New York will become quickly enamored with CC, and he’ll give DJ a run for his money in terms of popularity.  Well, maybe not with the teenage girls, but with the rest of us.

I am feeling pretty good about a sweep of the Boston Red Sox on April 24th through the 26th!  ;)

Time to start thinking about something other than PEDs…finally!

 

Photo Credits:

1.  Alex Rodriguez:  AP Bill Koutron

2.  Tiger & Elin Woods:  David Cannon/Getty Images

3.  CC Sabathia & A.J. Burnett:  AP

 

 

In A-Rod We Trust…or Not…

MORE A-ROD THOUGHTS

A day later, I am still stunned by the developments revealed on Saturday regarding Alex Rodriguez and his apparent steroid use in 2003.

The last thing I wanted to see was vindication for Jose Canseco but here it is for him with A-Rod’s name smeared across every sports page in America.

I am troubled that A-Rod knew he had tested positive and he had to have known there was always the possibility the information would be leaked one day (particularly considering the ongoing government investigation and the case against Barry Bonds).  He had over five years to think about this day, yet none of A-Rod’s subsequent statements has given any hints of possible drug use. 

When the “A-Fraud” comments came out through Joe Torre’s book, The Yankee Years, Johnny Damon and Derek Jeter came to A-Rod’s defense…even Larry Bowa.  It will be interesting to see if they are so quick to come to A-Rod’s defense this time.

Alex needs to be honest about his past drug use, giving us some insight into why.  An apology for all concerned is expected, and it is up to him to convince us that the drug use did not continue.

The next few days will be very critical for A-Rod, and they will shape the future perception of him.  He has a chance to right the “wrong”.  Alex, it is up to you…

YANKEES CAMP OPENS ON FRIDAY THE 13TH

On the bright side, Yankees camp open on Friday for pitchers and catchers.  It will be great to see CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett arrive in Tampa.  The first photo of Sabathia and Burnett together with Chien-Ming Wang, Andy Pettitte, and Joba Chamberlain will be a classic.

It’s unfortunate that Joe Girardi will be beseiged by A-Rod questions, but hopefully, he’ll have the time to enjoy the presence of the greatest Yankee pitching staff in years.

NO PRESSURE ENVIRONMENT

Andruw Jones is clearly seeking a pressure-free environment.  By signing a minor league deal with the Texas Rangers, he’ll avoid the media glare that would have accompanied a signing with Boston or New York.  But his chances of actually making the team are no less secure.

Andruw is a mystery to me.  In 1996, he looked like he was poised for a Hall of Fame career.  But by 2008, he looked tired and worn out.  He was offered an invitation to go to camp with the Yankees, which he declined.  When asked about Boston, he said “it’s too cold”.  That sounds like someone who clearly wasn’t up to the task of ‘trying to be the best, with the best’.  Good luck in Texas, Andruw…well, at least until you get the pink slip in late March…

ANOTHER QUALITY MOVE BY THE PHILLIES

Good for the Phillies in re-signing arbitration eligible first baseman Ryan Howard to a three-year, $54 million contract.  Ryan succeeded in achieving his desired annual salary of $18 million and the Phillies locked up one of their young stars through 2011.  It is going to be fun watching the Mets and Phillies slug it out this year…

JANE HELLER, YANKEE FAN EXTRAORDINAIRE

Jane Heller wrote a great article for The New York Times today.  When all else fails, visit a psychic!  A very funny approach about predicting the Yankees’ 2009 season… 

I have started reading my copy of ‘Confessions of a She-Fan’.  So far, so good, except for the natural physique reference about A-Rod in the prologue in comparison to “those ‘roid guys with their cartoon muscles…”.  Oh well, he fooled all of us.  Jane’s book has that great, refreshing ‘we’re right there with you’ feel to it.  I am definitely re-living my emotions and feelings about the 2007 Yankees as I read the book…

And for the prediction?  I’ll go with Jane’s “Nope, I’m good”…

 

 

You’ll have to talk to the Union…

An offseason that began with so much promise and excitement has quickly turned in recent weeks.  First, there was the controversy surrounding Joe Torre’s new book, The Yankee Years.  Today, we have the revelation by SI.com that Alex Rodriguez tested positive for steroids in 2003 when he was the MVP for the Texas Rangers.

What does this mean?  It will be interesting to see how the team responds to the firestorm that is sure to engulf the team over the next few weeks.  If the “A-Fraud” tag originated as a joke, it will now become the staple in any article written about Alex.  For a player so caught up with his own image and statistics, this should prove to be a very trying and challenging time for A-Rod.

The media had already begun a recent witch hunt for negative stories associated with baseball’s most storied franchise and their return to the days of the “Evil Empire” with the huge free agent signings during the winter.  Several articles written late in the week were speculating about the drama that will unfold when Derek Jeter’s contract expires in two years.  Do you re-sign a 37 year old shortstop?  Do you move him to center field or one of the corner spots?  Do you move on, and end the relationship with arguably the best shortstop in franchise history?  C’mon, that’s two years down the road.  Much can happen between now and then.  But it does show that the media will immediately latch on to the latest A-Rod story and won’t let it go anytime soon.  If there are 104 players on the list of players who tested positive in 2003, I am curious why the other 103 names aren’t being mentioned.  Well, I know why, but that doesn’t mean that the others should be ignored or allowed a “mulligan”.

I feel that Alex needs to respond quickly and effectively.  Of course, his initial comments show that he is not quite ready to accept responsibility.  When approached by a reporter, he simply said “You’ll have to talk to the Union”.  Alex needs to ‘come clean’ and accept full responsibility for his actions.  He needs to apologize to the fans that he misled, and he must show the proper degree of remorse.  The way Alex responds in the coming days will significantly determine how he is remembered as a player and as a man.

Nobody told Hal Steinbrenner or Joe Girardi that this was going to be easy…

 

Who’s the shortstop on the other team? He looks familiar…

DEREK JETER, THE VILLAIN…

It will be very strange when Derek Jeter comes to Steinbrenner Field on March 3rd as the starting shortstop for the WBC Team USA to face the mighty Yankees.  I found DJ’s comment to be very humorous:  “Hopefully, I won’t see any pitches inside”. 

Hopefully, this will not be an experience (DJ as a visiting player) that will be soon repeated! 

WHEW, GLAD WE DIDN’T SIGN SHEETS…

I heard the news that Ben Sheets will have elbow surgery and his agent is anticipating a July or August return (which, most likely, means that he is lost for the year).  Granted, any team that potentially could have signed him would have had a full physical evaluation before signing the dotted line.  But still, there was a lot of ink wasted with words that the Yankees should consider and sign Sheets instead of waiting for Andy Pettitte.

Still, it makes sense for a team, such as Texas, to take a flyer on Sheets after June when no compensation to the Milwaukee Brewers would be necessary due to Sheet’s status as a Type A free agent. 

GOOD LUCK TO CHASE WRIGHT…

I definitely had mixed feelings seeing pitcher Chase Wright go, but hopefully, he’ll get the opportunity in Milwaukee that he didn’t have with the Yankees.  All things considered, I think the Yankees did fairly well in acquiring C/OF Eric Fryer.  I don’t know how Fryer projects as a major leaguer, but his minor league numbers last year looked good.  He hit .335, with 10 homers and 63 RBI’s in 104 games for Class A West Virginia.  He led the South Atlantic League in batting average and on base percentage (.407) and was third in slugging percentage (.506).  I will be anxious to find out more about Fryer and to see how he performs in 2009.

Nevertheless, best of luck to Chase Wright, and I hope he gets the opportunity to return to Fenway Park one day to settle his score with the Red Sox (2007’s four consecutive home runs allowed).

AP Photo

 

MATT CASSEL, INSTANT MILLIONAIRE…

Matt Cassel has definitely hit the lottery jackpot.  In this economy, how many people can go from $520,000 to $14.65 million in one year?  I am going to go out on a limb and say that’s probably the greatest pay increase ever given to a guy who never started a game in college. 

Counting Tom Brady’s cap charge of $14.62 million for 2009, the New England Patriots will have 25% of their $123 million 2009 salary cap tied up in two quarterbacks. 

Considering that Brady’s actual 2009 salary will only be $5 million with bonus of $3 million for making the roster, I wonder how Tom will feel about being paid less than his backup.  Forget about those past Super Bowls, Tom!  This league is all about ‘what have you done for me lately?’.  Too funny.  It will be interesting to see how this plays out…

Julia of Julia’s Rants will vehemently disagree, but I remain hopeful that Cassel finds his way to Minnesota in the form of a sign and trade.  C’mon, if I can’t have Manny Ramirez on the Yankees, I at least deserve to have Matt Cassel at QB for the Vikings!

Source:  The Boston Globe

 

7 days until Pitchers and Catchers report to Tampa…

 

 

 

 

Has Manny Read the Wall Street Journal Lately?…

MAN-RAM

Wow, I have to ask…when is twenty-five million dollars not enough?  I know that Manny Ramirez lives in a different world than the rest of us, but does he not recognize the state of the economy and how it has impacted even Major League Baseball?  Manny, no one is calling your agent, and multiple big market teams are saying that they are not in the game.  You know the market is tight when Brian Cashman says, “We’re tapped”.  The San Francisco Giants are routinely mentioned, but at the end of the day, they are not going to exceed any offers made by the Los Angeles Dodgers.  Manny is simply not going to get the long-term offer that he desires.  At this point, he should swallow his pride and accept the generous offer made by the Dodgers. 

Courtesy: Los Angeles Times

Besides, Manny needs to get back to the clubhouse so that he can be the central figure in Joe Torre’s next book…

WANG AND POSADA

According to the Associated Press, Chien-Ming Wang threw 27 pitches in first mound session on Tuesday.  Wang indicated there were no concerns and everything felt fine.  Wang missed the last 3 1/2 months of the season last year after hurting his foot running the bases during interleague play.  I am looking forward to a return to those 19 win seasons…

Jorge Posada is making progress and fully expects to be ready for Opening Day.  Posada, by the way, threw in his support for Joe Torre and claims that he did not violate the sanctity of the clubhouse.  Kind of what you would expect Posada, Derek Jeter, Tino Martinez or any of Joe’s other “favorite” guys to say…

New York Yankees manager Joe Torre (L) separates batter Jorge Posada from first base umpire Bob Davidson (R) after Posada was ejected from the game during the ninth inning of their American League baseball game against the Detroit Tigers in Detroit, Michigan  August 24, 2007. From Reuters Pictures by REUTERS.

Courtesy:  Reuters Pictures

 

HERE COMES THE FAVRE MEDIA BLITZ

Now that the Super Bowl is over, how long before the tabloids are swirling with the ‘will he?’ or ‘won’t he?’ retirement talk about Brett Favre.  Jets Offensive Coordinator Brian Schottenheimer is already on record saying that he wants Favre to return.  And, of course, there is an article in a Minnesota newspaper that the Jets are approximately $13 million over the salary cap (which is about the amount of Favre’s salary).  The trade between the Packers and the Jets had a “poison pill” in the agreement to keep the Jets from trading Favre to the Minnesota Vikings.  But, apparently, all bets are off if the Jets were to simply release Favre.

As for the Vikings, my preference would be for them to pursue a trade with the New England Patriots to acquire Matt Cassel.  Of course, the cost would be high, and Minnesota would have to open talks by offering at least Chester Taylor and a first-round pick according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press.  Another option cited was a trade for Cleveland’s Derek Anderson and potential signing of a free agent QB like Rex Grossman or Jeff Garcia. 

MLB NETWORK

A great hire by the MLB Network in landing Bob Costas.  That might be the key free agent signing of the off-season!  I know that there are many differing opinions of Costas, but I like the format and opportunity that will be available to him at MLB Network.  I am looking forward to watching his work over the course of the summer…

9 days until Yankees pitchers and catchers report to Tampa…

Which book to read first?…

BOOKS ARE ON THEIR WAY…

 

I received the e-mail from Amazon that the two books I ordered are on their way (Joe Torre’s The Yankee Years and Jane Heller’s Confessions of a She-Fan).

 

After Joe’s softball interview with Larry King on Friday, his book tour gets underway this week.  I agree with those who say that Joe is backpedaling, and his “clarification” of his A-Fraud comments is case in point.  In the book, he does not reference that it was in jest, but now he supports Larry Bowa’s comments that it was a fun-natured comment that was made to A-Rod directly. 

 

Bob Klapisch of The Record (newjersey.com) interviewed Mike Mussina last week, and I thought Mike had some very insightful comments:

 

“it’s not just what goes on in the clubhouse, it’s sitting on the bus, or if you’re out having lunch. As a ballplayer you need to know who you have to watch out for and who you can trust. First and foremost, you should be able to trust your manager.”

 

Mike went on to say several statements of the obvious:

 

“I mean, people knew that Brown was out there, and that Randy was ornery all the time. And Pavano is whoever he is. But if you’re their manager, you can’t go out and write about them like that.”

 

It’s unfortunate that Joe Girardi has to learn on the job, but in the end, I think the Yankees will be much better off with Mr. G. than Mr. T.   I personally wanted Donnie Baseball to get the job after Joe T. left, but for personal reasons, he clearly wasn’t ready.  Although I am hopeful that he gets his opportunity one day, I believe that the time is now for Joe Girardi, and he deserves every opportunity to lead the ship to battle. 

 

As much as I am looking forward to reading Torre’s book, I have to admit that I am more excited about Jane Heller’s Confessions of a She-Fan.  Clearly, her book will get preferential treatment upon receipt.  I can relate to her story first and foremost as a fellow Yankees fan.  But I can further relate to her story.  The Minnesota Vikings have been my favorite football team since 1972, and I was so upset when Fran Tarkenton retired and they gave the QB job to Bob Lee (I hated that guy!).  As a product of my frustration, I wrote a letter to the Vikings organization informing them that I had resigned as a fan.  I came back around with Tommy Kramer, but admittedly there are incredible highs and lows when you are passionate about a sports team.  I have thoroughly enjoyed every blog Jane has written, and I am very excited about the book.  I will provide my review after I have received my copy. 

 

I have been a Yankees fan for over 33 years, and I met the first Yankees fan that I am proud of during the 2001 World Series.  I attended Games 2 and 6 in Phoenix, and during Game 6 I encountered a very knowledgeable Yankees fan from New York who made me realize that the World Series was beyond anything short of a Yankees championship.  He had attended the games in New York, and the magic and inspiration that he shared that day were incredible.  Of course, the Yankees then got shellacked by the D-Backs, but it was still an experience I’ll always remember.  Jane sharing a story that is so engrained in our hearts is incredible. That places her among the top two Yankees fan I’ve encountered.  Considering that the Yankees are THE most storied franchise, she has written a book about us, among us, with us…

 

Thanks Jane.

 

OTHER THOUGHTS…

 

Congratulations to the Pittsburgh Steelers and their record 6th Super Bowl championship.  Perhaps we can put an end to the talk of the Cowboys as “America’s Team”.  I want to say that the TD catch by Santonio Holmes was one of the greatest acts of concentration and attention to detail that I’ve seen in a Super Bowl in a long time.  It was a incredible catch, and certainly deserves placement up there with the likes of the “Immaculate Reception”. 

 

The latest rumors have the New England Patriots placing the franchise tag on QB Matt Cassel and then trading him to the Kansas City Chiefs (due to the Scott Pioli connection).  I think that the Chiefs and Vikings rumors will run rampant until a trade actually happens, but I do hope that Cassel is wearing purple and gold when all is said and done. 

 

As Kevin Millar says, the Orioles aren’t going to win this season, but they have quietly been making some very sound acquisitions…

 

If the Dodgers are down to making a one year, $25 million offer for Manny Ramirez, why don’t the Yankees enter the game?  Trade Xavier Nady and Nick Swisher (there is significant interest in both), and ensure YES ratings with Manny in right field.  Sorry, I just can’t let go of my totally gluttonous dream!

 

Adding a Jim Edmonds to platoon in center with Brett Gardner or Melky Cabrera is probably not a bad idea…

 

I hated to hear that Andrew Bynum of the Los Angeles Lakers will miss 8-12 weeks due to a tear in the medial collateral ligament of his right knee, but at least it wasn’t a season-ending injury.  I wonder how much different last year’s NBA Championship would have looked had Bynum been healthy and available to play.

 

Bobby Knight at the University of Georgia?  C’mon, Bobby, give it up.  I am sure that ESPN will provide for a very comfortable life in your remaining years.  But you are like the guest who stayed too long, we’re ready for you to leave…

 

Just 10 days until pitchers and catchers report…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Pressure makes diamonds”…

The title quote by General George S. Patton could be applied to the 2009 New York Yankees…

 

BIG EXPECTATIONS

 

The pressure for Joe Girardi to succeed will be very intense this year given the Yankees’ significant offseason additions.  As Johnny Damon put it in a recent interview with Peter Kerasotis of Florida Today: 

 

We better win this year,” he said, “or else a few of us will need to find new jobs.”

 

I think that Girardi will rise to the challenge, and will show continued growth and development as a manager as he enters his second year at the Yankee helm.  Tony Pena will play an invaluable role in helping Girardi define himself, and this might be the year that Joe can begin to break out of Joe Torre’s shadow.  In his first year, Girardi was consistently compared with Torre in his inferior ability to handle the media and bring a “sense of calm” to the clubhouse.  But as Girardi improves in those areas, his superior ability as a statistician and strategist will become more transparent.  When it’s game time, there aren’t many managers who are better prepared than Girardi.

 

The Yankees recent trend of slow starts is a concern, and of course Mark Teixeira has a similar history so that won’t help.  Nevertheless, the key to the season is patience, and the Yankees’ dominant pitching staff will begin to exert its promise as the season progresses. 

 

As the quotes continue to circulate about Joe Torre’s new book, The Yankee Years, and how George Steinbrenner was a tyrant, I can’t help but think how much different Hal Steinbrenner is from his father.  By all appearances, he shares his father’s passion for winning and is concerned about the Steinbrenner family’s Yankee legacy, but he seems more patient and methodical in his approach.  It will be interesting to see how this plays out over the course of a long season with the high expectations and the inevitable bumps in the road.

 

For what it’s worth, Damon is okay with Torre’s book.  He mentioned that when he wrote his book, the only negatives were about himself and not others.  Although supportive of Torre, he did discuss the sanctity of the clubhouse in his interview with Peter Kerasotis:

 

“What happens in the clubhouse should always stay in the clubhouse, unless it’s funny or goofy. You know, harmless stuff.”

 

Unlike David Wells and others, Damon always has a way of putting things in the proper perspective.  I felt that way even when he played with the Red Sox. 

 

I am a little disappointed that Larry King didn’t ask any tough questions of Joe Torre on Friday night, but then again, it was Larry King so it was a given that the questions would be “Nerf” balls.  While I wasn’t totally convinced by Torre’s explanations, I still believe that the book must be read before any final judgments are made. 

 

It should be a season to remember as the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays slug it out for AL East superiority, and hopefully a trip to the World Series for the victor…

 

ODDS AND ENDS…

 

I am curious to see if something happens with Xavier Nady or Nick Swisher this week.  Later in the week, it will have been ten days since pitcher Chase Wright was designated for assignment.  Wright is too talented to pass through waivers, so I could easily see him being part of a trade involving Nady or Swisher as the Yanks attempt to recoup some prospects.  Granted, they could just deal Wright in a stand-alone trade, but I think the greater value is a package deal.   With pitchers and catchers scheduled to report in less than two weeks, I really believe that something will happen sooner rather than later.  I still have mixed feelings about trading Nady and/or Swisher, but it appears that it will most likely happen so hopefully the “return” will be worth it in the long run.

 

I am very anxious to see what Mark Melancon and Phil Coke can do in training camp this year…

 

I maintain my belief that the Steelers will be victorious later today.  If I am wrong, so be it.  I am not going to lose any sleep if the Cardinals successfully end their 61-year drought.  I grew up about 60 miles away from Kurt Warner, so it is good to see a fellow Iowan enjoy success.  Bill Bidwell has taken so many hits over the years, and he remains a villain in St. Louis, but his influence is a key reason for why the Cardinals are in Tampa today.  Over the years, the team always talked about building a team based on character.  It’s refreshing that the Super Bowl doesn’t have the likes of Terrell Owens, Adam “Pac Man” Jones, or Jeremy Shockey.  I know that Anquan Boldin made some comments this year, as has Edgerrin James, but neither is what I would consider a “bad” guy.  I am looking forward to seeing if this year’s commercials show new originality and innovation.  Last year was a disappointment…

 

I liked the quote in a SNL skit where the woman said that she thought the Super Bowl was a battle of Budweiser bottles (hopefully, the game itself will remain the most interesting part of the event).

 

I am impressed with this year’s selections for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  All of the selections were tremendous choices:  Bruce Smith, Derrick Thomas, Rod Woodson, Randall McDaniel, Bullet Bob Hayes, and Ralph Wilson.  It will be a very memorable day in Canton, Ohio this summer.

 

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