Feb 03

Who To Root For In The Super Bowl?

Just came in from a walk and it is a frigid 27 degrees. Interesting that I saw a couple of kids playing catch. Not with a football, but with a hardball and glove. Damn, that must have stung their hands.

To me, baseball season gets underway in my mind the day after the Super Bowl.

Is it me, or does the pre-game get longer every year. The game starts at 6:30 p.m., but the pre-game began before 11 a.m.. Seriously, a pre-game that lasts twice as long at the game itself? I’ve always thought the NFL was a little full of itself, but more power to them if their showcase lets the networks sell the time.

I usually find some hook for a rooting interest in the game, but I don’t have a dog in this fight.

On one hand, after growing up in Cleveland, it is extremely difficult to back Baltimore. Even without that variable, there’s always the Ray Lewis factor. He’s been one of the most self-glorifying figures in sport and it is tiresome. Dancing after the Indianapolis game and taking off his jersey after the New England game was just another example of his me-first attitude. And, by the way, the Ravens aren’t in the Super Bowl because God willed it.

From his Look At Me dancing, to this new image, it is just boring. Now, I’m hearing some commentators on ESPN call him “great” and “the greatest leader in the history of team sports.” What about Mickey Mantle, Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, Bill Russell, Peyton Manning, Roberto Clemente, Johnny Unitas, Walt Frazier, Babe Ruth and countless others.

Lewis has been a great player, but he’s not even the greatest linebacker of all time. Say hello to Lawrence Taylor and Dick Butkus. I’d even take Jack Lambert over Lewis.

My Cleveland roots aside, the Lewis story has grown boring and tiresome. The NFL is so concerned about its image, yet they continue to glorify Lewis, as if those two people were never killed and he had nothing to do with it. He’s been given a free pass by virtually everybody and it is disgraceful.

I have never seen the attraction with Lewis, who is one I wish would just disappear. Of course, he’ll be on TV. Maybe he’ll preach at halftime.

The 49ers aren’t a day at the beach, either.

Jim Harbaugh is another who I find it hard to cheer for. I don’t like how he handled the Alex Smith situation and he’s got a lot of chest thumpers on his team.

The NFL is making a big deal about player safety, yet Smith, who was having a good season completing 70 percent of his passes, did all the right things yet lost his job after sustaining a concussion. What kind of message does that send? Harbaugh’s decision hasn’t bitten him because the 49ers reached the Super Bowl. But, who is to say they wouldn’t have gotten there with Smith?

Both these teams are difficult to root for outside their home areas. There’s not heart grabbing hook, although Harbaugh vs. Harbaugh is a great storyline, although it doesn’t have you gravitate one over the other.

For me, I’ll watch the Celtics this afternoon, enjoy the Super Bowl from an objective perspective and maybe a rooting hook will emerge. If not, I’ll just have some more wings.

Take care and enjoy the game.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Feb 02

Jordany Valdespin Throwing Away Career

The Mets are bringing Marlon Byrd, he of the PED suspension, to spring training. Byrd is 35 and hit .210 with one homer and nine RBI.

My first reaction was a yawn and my second was thinking how badly Jordany Valdespin is throwing away his career. The Mets have a huge hole in their outfield, but you never hear Valdespin’s name mentioned. And, here’s a guy with speed and came off the bench last year to hit a handful of pinch-hit homers. This is a guy with the potential to make an impact and he’s a virtual non-entity.

Valdespin began to shoot himself in the foot at the end of the season with a sour, combative attitude which included not hustling. What does it tell you when a bench player doesn’t hustle?

What does he do next?

With a chance to redeem himself to make an impression for the future, he’s suspended for insubordination.

What is wrong with this guy? He has a chance to be a major league player and be set for life financially. He has a chance to earn a starting outfield job in New York. It isn’t hard to be a popular player in this city. Hustle, play hard, be enthusiastic and demonstrate some success and the fans will love you. Just look at Lenny Dykstra and Wally Backman. Neither were great players, but were productive and played hard.

Valdespin had a chance to be a player like them.

Maybe he’s not another Carl Everett or Milton Bradley, but he’s headed in that direction. Valdespin has a chance to be a major leaguer and he’s throwing it all away.

His loss, not ours.

 

Feb 01

Report: Mets Considering Valverde As Closer

Maybe Sandy Alderson believes the Mets might be ready to compete this year.

That was my first impression – perhaps wishful thinking – after reading an ESPN report they are considering signing former Detroit closer Jose Valverde to replace Frank Francisco. No problems there. Actually, I have no problem with anybody replacing Francisco, who was a bad signing.

Valverde saved 35 games last year for the Tigers before unraveling and was replaced in the postseason by a committee pen. Valverde’s agent is Scott Boras, but the Mets say they need this on their terms, with a reported $4 million base plus incentives. Valverde earned $9 million last year, but with how he finished nobody will bite on that figure.

With spring training less than two weeks away – my, where did the winter go? – Valverde falls under the category of beggars can’t be choosers. If he’s signed and does well, he can try the market again. There are always a multitude of relievers every winter.

Reportedly, the Mets thought of asking Roy Oswalt to convert to closer like John Smoltz, but he was cool to the idea. He might have second thoughts if he doesn’t get any offers. Actually, if the Mets are in a spending mode, why not invite Oswalt and give him a minor league contract to start? They signed Shaun Marcum to a one-year deal as the fifth starter, but does anybody believe the Mets will make it through the season with only five starters? Not happening.

As Alderson attempts to build a bullpen at the last minute, he should not consider bringing back Francisco Rodriguez, who punched his girlfriend’s father at Citi Field, hurt himself and was traded to Milwaukee. The Mets don’t need that headache.

Evidently, this does not bode well for Bobby Parnell’s future with the Mets. He’s had several chances but spit the bit. It was thought he could get another chance if Francisco – who was injured at the end of last season – faltered again.

Parnell pitched well in place of Francisco, but there was admittedly no pressure on him. If Alderson thought the Mets could not be competitive this year, it would have been the perfect opportunity to force-feed the role to Parnell. If I’m Parnell, I’d be wanting to leave town.

By adding Valverde, Alderson believes the Mets could make something of the summer, but even with an improved bullpen there remains an enormous hole in the outfield, a thin bench and several questions in the rotation.

Jan 31

The Parallels Between Jose Reyes And Darelle Revis

When I hear of the Jets’ dilemma with Pro Bowl cornerback Darrelle Revis, I can’t but help think of the similarities with the Mets and Jose Reyes.

Both are supremely talented athletes who excel at their positions, but have apparently outgrown their team’s financial structure.

REVIS: Reminds me of Reyes.

REVIS: Reminds me of Reyes.

Make no mistake, the Mets had the resources to bring back Reyes and the Jets have the funds to renegotiate an extension for Revis.

The Mets let Reyes walk because they didn’t want to spend the money and tie up their budget in future seasons for a player with an injury history. No, they haven’t been able to fully replace Reyes, especially on the offensive side, but they have more financial flexibility than they have in recent years.

The Mets also let Reyes depart because he wasn’t the missing piece. Even with Reyes, the Mets had – and still have – numerous holes.

Reyes, a player whose living depends upon his legs, was frequently injured during his last seasons with the Mets, including going on the disabled list twice in his final summer.

By all accounts, Reyes was a positive in the clubhouse, much like Revis is in the locker with the Jets.

For the third time in his career, Revis wants to renegotiate his contract, which has prompted some NFL executives to suggest he’ll never be happy, and quite frankly, this must wear on Jets management.

Continue reading

Jan 30

Yankees Need To Challenge Rodriguez’s Contract

The Yankees, hate them or not, have always set the bar and been the pacesetter.

They must now take a proactive approach with Alex Rodriguez, who is linked to an HGH provider. Rodriguez denies the claim – but lied before – and hired a top-ranked attorney to represent him.

If he’s not guilty, then why the attorney?

If he’s not guilty, then why 16 references to him in documents obtained from the HGH clinic?

The Yankees are on the hook for $114 million over the next five years. Rodriguez has been injured and on a downhill slide for several seasons. To think he’ll rebound into a prolific slugger again is naïve.

Rodriguez admitted using steroids from 2001-2003, but said he never used them with the Yankees or prior to those dates. He had, however, repeatedly denied using them before his confession.

His credibility and believability has long been shot that he’ll never be given the benefit of doubt.

It is easy to say the Yankees made a stupid signing – they should have let him walk when they had the chance – but in fairness they have an argument in claiming they were defrauded.

There seems to be enough evidence to connect Rodriguez to PEDs after his admission. The Yankees extended Rodriguez because they knew the value of him on YES chasing the all-time home run record. In his prime, Rodriguez would have been worth it to them.

However, Rodriguez’s body is breaking down and it isn’t a reach to suggest steroid usage is a contributing factor. If he used HGH while with the Yankees then they aren’t getting the real thing.

That raises an interesting question: What is the real thing with Rodriguez?

We can’t assume it was the Seattle years any longer. We can’t assume it was his early years with the Yankees. I can’t believe it was just a lapse in judgment while in Texas.

What I believe is Rodriguez misled a lot of people, including the Yankees when they signed him. It will be costly, but so is paying off Rodriguez over the next five years and getting nothing.

They must challenge the validity of his contract and attempt to void it, or if nothing else, negotiate a buy out. They need to play hardball.

If they do nothing, Rodriguez will get paid this season (although the Yankees could recoup some of his salary with insurance). Should Rodriguez stay, he will be stung by the booing and it will impact his production. But, he doesn’t care if it doesn’t impact his paycheck.

Through the years the Yankees made several mistakes with Rodriguez. They shouldn’t compound them by not acting now.