Monthly Archives: July 2011

The Indians Go For It

Cleveland apparently rocks.

There is having a sack (edited version) and then there’s having a huge sack.

The Cleveland Indians are the latter.

The guts the Indians showed yesterday in acquiring Ubaldo Jimenez shows that they mean business. This isn’t just a one-time, happy to be here team that is enjoying their success this year after a few years of looking like mush. No, no, no, the Indians are going for it.

Jimenez was the most coveted pitcher of this trade deadline with the Rockies looking to get a huge package in return for a guy that is an ace even with questions about his mechanics and velocity. The Rockies got that and more by receiving super talented righty Alex White and possibly an ace in the making in lefty Drew Pomeranz.

That’s a lot of pitching to give up for one guy, but Jimenez might be worth it.

Jimenez has the talent to be one of the best pitchers in the game as he showed last year by winning 15 games and posting an era near 2 before the All-star break before having an off second half. He’s suffered through an injury plagued year going 6-9 with an ERA around 4, however he has regained some form lately. In his last ten starts he has a 2.58 ERA with 63 strikeouts in 66 innings and his velocity has recovered after he showed a considerable dip in arm strength early in the season.

Scouts were worried that he seemed to lose at least 3mph off of his fast ball when he had arm problems in April and May. However, his fastball has been topping out at 96mph lately, which has him looking like the Cy Young candidate that he was last year. They need him to be that Jimenez with two months left in the season and the Tribe a game and a half behind the Detroit Tigers in the AL Central.

Even if Jimenez isn’t as dominant as he was last year it still shows how eager the Indians are to win and win now.

The Indians smell the postseason and are doing whatever they can to get there.

This deal combined with the deal for Kosuke Fukudome earlier in the week (which was just as huge because the Indians needed some type of positive outfield production) shows that the Indians aren’t happy with just winning a few games.

Their surprise season has them hungry for more than just a few pats on the back and some spots on sportscenter. The Jimenez deal shows their fans just how serious the team is about contending despite the concerns behind Jimenez.

Is he an ace or isn’t he? He is an upgrade in a rotation that desperately needed help outside of Justin Masterson and Josh Tomlin. He is also more of a reward than a risk; his contract is small market friendly as he’s only owed $4 million next season with a few club options that total $14 million over the next two seasons. Even if it doesn’t work out with Jimenez it’s still a very cost effective deal.

But that’s not what the Indians want out of this deal. They want the guy that made scouts drool over him last year with a combination of his big fastball and nasty off speed pitches. They want the guy that could be mentioned in the same breath as Justin Verlander, Josh Johnson and the other young and talented aces in the league.

They made this deal to acquire a pitcher who can carry them down the stretch and be counted on to go the distance when needed. If Jimenez can fulfill those thoughts then giving up two blue chip hurlers will have been more than worth it.

Even if he doesn’t at least the Indians tried. They pulled the trigger on a deal that the Red Sox and Yankees were afraid to make. The big dogs feared about Jimenez’s health and velocity and rather than give up prized possession they passed.

The Indians took a risk on a pitcher that can become one of the best in the game if he is fully healthy. They outbid two of baseball’s behemoths for one of its prized possessions.

They deserve props no matter the result.


Its Always Sunny In Philadelphia

It's all smiles for Hunter Pence and the phans in Philly.

You know how much I hate the city of Boston as a New York fan. You know about the rivalries of the Bruins-Ranger, Yankees-Red Sox, Knicks-Celtics and the Pats-Jets, Giants conundrum. There is no Boston gear of any kind allowed in my house, if I see a Boston hat in my sight I might start a ruckus over it.

There is no other city that I hate more when it comes to athletic competition than Boston…

…that was until yesterday.

Ladies and gentlemen, the city of Philadelphia is about to eclipse my hatred of Boston. To say that Philadelphia made a splash in both baseball and football yesterday is an understatement. The Eagles and Phillies respectively got the best players available during NFL free agency and the MLB trade deadline.

The Phillies won the Hunter Pence sweepstakes by trading their top pitching and hitting prospects plus two other for Pence who the Phillies desperately needed in their lineup.

The Phillies are hitting .235 against lefties thanks to a lefty heavy lineup that isn’t producing many runs. Pence is hitting .295 against lefties and adds some right-handed pop to a lineup that except for Ryan Howard hasn’t had much power at all for this entire season.

Add that to the fact that Pence is only 28 years old and in each of the last four years his batting average, hits, and RBI have increased while his strikeouts have decreased. With Dominic Brown improving and Shane Victorino staying steady offensively and defensively the Phillies have set their outfield for the next few years and could get back to those high offensive numbers from a few years ago.

The move was in response to the San Francisco Giants acquisition of Carlos Beltran, which got rave reviews. However, the Pence deal is a better deal because Pence is younger, isn’t injury prone like Beltran and Pence is ascending in his career while Beltran is on the decline.

When you put that together with the fact that the Phillies rotation has been better than advertised (even without Roy Oswalt) and you would assume that the Phillies are now the team to beat.

Nmandi Asomugha can smile now, he's out of Oakland.

If Pence can revive that lineup by hitting behind Howard in the 5 hole in a hitters ballpark then the Phillies should win the NL East easily and have enough muscle to get by San Francisco in the NLCS and deal with any AL team in the World Series.

The Eagles acquisition was out of left field as well… no seriously it was out of nowhere.

Nmandi Asomugha was thought to be heading to the New York Jets to team with Darrelle Revis and form the most despicable secondary in the league. The Dallas Cowboys were also in the mix as were the Houston Texans. Notice not one mention of the Eagles.

Friday night the Eagles seemed to swoop in (pun intended) and steal Asomugha when the Jets offer fell through at the last second. Asomugha’s deal was the latest in a week of deals that made have made the Eagles the team to beat in not only the NFC, but maybe the NFL.

Asomugha joins Jason Babin, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Vince Young in Philadelphia as the Eagles have made it obvious that they are gunning for a Super Bowl and nothing less.

With Asomugha, DRC and Asante Samuel the Eagles have a secondary that will make any QB feel uneasy throwing the ball into during the season. They have to be the early front-runners to win the NFC East as the Giants, Redskins, and Cowboys have made no moves to even attempt to counteract with the Eagles moves, and also who in the NFC in general can match the level of talent that the Eagles currently possess.

How good is it to be a Philly fan right now?

Your baseball team is tops in the MLB with the best rotation in the league and you just got a young, speedy and effective bat in Pence who should be a big piece for your franchise going towards the future.

Your football team just got one of the league’s best defensive backs who fits in perfectly with a revamped defense that along with Mike Vick and an explosive offense has everyone around the league talking Super Bowl.

Imagine if rumors from the offseason were true that the Flyers were interested in obtaining Steven Stamkos from the Lightning.

Philadelphia has had a hot summer and it looks like it’s going to continue to stay warm well into the fall in October and maybe even February.

It makes me mad just to even think about it. Who knows, it’s probably making the people of Boston mad as well.


North Carolina Does The Right Thing

Dick Baddour did what Gene Smith couldn't do.

North Carolina did what Ohio State didn’t have the testicular fortitude to do; they fired their coach amid an NCAA investigation and other outstanding allegations while their AD stepped down in the process.

It didn’t matter that Butch Davis was the school’s most successful coach since Mack Brown in the 90’s, nor did it matter that he constantly said that he had no idea that his football team was running amuck. The school still held him responsible and told him to get to steppin.

I give now former AD Dick Baddour props for what he did yesterday. He swallowed his pride and admitted his mistake that Davis wasn’t worth the trouble that he was allowing to happen under his watch.

Baddour hired Davis to rebuild the North Carolina program in the way that he did with the University of Miami before Larry Coker took over. Davis recruited very well with future NFL-ers Marvin Austin, Greg Little and Hakeem Nicks standing out during his time there.

However, the school was caught in a huge scandal involving athletes receiving improper benefits from people outside of the program and more recently it came to pass that there were academic irregularities involving his players.

Davis continuously played dumb by stating that he had no idea of what was going on at the time and UNC went with it…

Until yesterday.

Davis cant play dumb any more.

Baddour fired Davis and then today stepped down as AD a year ahead of his retirement. He did so to ensure that the next coach wouldn’t have any conflict between his departure and the arrival of a new AD next year.

If only Gene Smith had the same level of care in his system.

This is what Ohio State should’ve done when it came time to discipline Jim Tressel. Sure Tressel was a highly successful coach and kept OSU in the top 10 nationally, but he was running a shoddy program.

Smith knew this and so did Gordon Gee. Instead of suspending him back when they knew of the violations they let all of 2010 play out, let him coach in the Sugar Bowl (not to mention let the players play), suspended him for two games, then only when the situation kept getting worse and worse did they finally allow him to step down or be forced out, whatever story you believe.

UNC didn’t let its recent success get in its way of making the right decision. It was clear that Davis was at fault for what was happening and it did the right thing by releasing him of his duties. Furthermore Baddour upped the ante by removing himself from his position due to the fact that all of this happened all of his watch.

The Tar Heels admitted their mistakes; the Buckeyes turn their dishonest leaders into martyrs.

North Carolina may not be on the same playing field as Ohio State when it comes to football, but rest assured the men in charge know what to do in a situation that calls for immediate action.

The Tar Heels will suffer in the short term on the field as they look for a new coach to get this team ready for football with only a month to prepare.

However, they should be the standard when it comes to disciplinary action. Their message to Butch Davis and any other coach that comes in is simple; hold others accountable for their actions as well as yourself. Success matters, but so does the integrity of the institution. If you can’t comply with both then you will not be a coach here.

I wish Ohio State would’ve taken that stance earlier this year.


Bring Plax Back

This is where Plax belongs.

We were 11-1, defending Super Bowl champs, beat every division leader; Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh, Arizona in Arizona, destroyed the Ravens defensive at home, we were the number one contenders to win the Super Bowl and repeat as champions…

Then Plaxico Burress shot himself in the leg with a concealed handgun, fell victim to New York’s strict gun laws and our season was lost.

To say that I hated Plaxico after that night at The Latin Quarter nightclub in New York City was an understatement.

To me and many other New York Giants fans that one moment killed our season and the momentum that we had. Plaxico’s recklessness and lack of common sense not only hindered his career but it hindered our success.

Plax was one of if not the main catalyst behind our run to the Super Bowl the year before. He played injured, caught everything that Eli Manning threw in his direction and showed a sense of leadership that he never showed before. What was lost in that run was his dominance in below freezing temperatures in Green Bay as he caught 12 balls for over 140 yards on a bum ankle to get us to Arizona. Once we got there he came through once again on a fade from Manning that gave us a 17-14 victory and a place in history.

He was a New York legend. In this city winning a title (not to mentioning guaranteeing it the week before then proving it on the field) makes you unforgettable. Joe Namath was a mediocre QB but because of Super Bowl III he can never fail. Doc Gooden’s career flamed out due to drugs and alcohol, but we still remember Doctor K and the Mets of 86.

Plaxico's gun charge derailed his career and the Super Bowl chances of the Giants.

Plax had joined that lexicon, a hard-headed wide receiver that finally put his demons to rest to become a leader and guide us to victory. He could’ve killed the mayor and we wouldn’t have cared to be honest with you.

That was until the old Plax returned the exact next year.

Plax was back to feuding with coach Tom Coughlin, fined for immaturity and then the gun charge came and derailed his career and the Giants season.

I hated Plax. As I watched Dominik Hixon drop passes and the run game stall thanks to no deep threat I kept thinking back to that night in the LQ and it made me mad to no end. When Plax went to jail I thought good riddance, thanks for killing our season and the immediate future dude.

(Side note: sometimes as fans we get so caught up in the sport itself that we forget about life. As much as fans hated Plax imagine how his family felt with his impending sentence. I would just miss him catching passes, but his daughter would miss him as a father.

Sure Plax screwed up off of the field in terms of violating his contract and dooming his team, but he doomed his family structure for a few years. That softened my hatred for Plax because honestly the Giants could’ve found another receiver. Families just can’t find another dad, it doesn’t work like that.)

Two years have gone by and Plax was released from prison this past May. He looks like the same lanky receiver that was roaming the sidelines years earlier and was eager to return to the sidelines.

Rumors of the Eagles signing him as well as the Jets have surfaced, but there is one team that I think Plax should play for more than any others… The New York Giants.

That’s right, I want Plax back in blue wearing his number 17 and catching jump balls from Eli Manning again.

Let’s be real, when Plax and Eli were together they were a perfect match. He was Eli’s go to guy and Plax didn’t disappoint. He was a hard matchup for any defender and he and Eli exploited it every single time.

Plax is a Giant, always will be in my eyes. Sure he screwed up but that cant overshadow what he did in 2007 and how he performed in pressure situations.

He deserves a second chance and a chance to redeem himself for what happened 3 years ago and he deserves that chance in New York and not with the Jets.

I can’t believe that I’m actually writing this after being super salty towards him years ago. We were a Super Bowl contender with very few injuries, the toughest offensive and defensive lines in the game and it was clear that no one could beat us. Once the LQ incident happened and the firestorm that followed we couldn’t focus and we were done.

It was in part due to Plax and his selfishness. Now three years later he will walk into Tom Coughlin’s office and talk about the past and a possible future in New York with the Giants.

Hopefully when it’s over Plaxico Burress will return to the Meadowlands and don the number 17 in blue next season and link up with Eli again in hopes of bringing home another title.

That’s what Plax deserves, and that’s what we deserve as fans.


The Pirates Got Robbed

Eventually there has to be a winner of a game, period. However, sometimes the loser gets robbed in some form or fashion.

He's not out?

You could add the Pittsburgh Pirates to that list.

After 7 hours of a tight baseball matchup where runs came at a premium the Pirates were facing a tight scenario in the 19th inning of their game against the Atlanta Braves last night. With Julio Lugo on third and pitcher Scott Proctor at the plate Pirates pitcher Daniel McCutcheon forced what looked like an easy groundout to get Lugo at the plate and get the second out of the inning.

Unfortunately home plate umpire Jerry Meals didn’t see it that way and called Lugo safe, giving the Braves a 4-3 win. This would be ok except for the fact the ball beat Lugo by 30 miles and a tag was applied from every angle that I saw.

Maybe Meals was tired and wanted to go home. That’s my only explanation.

How could he miss that call? It was clear as day. He was right there in point blank range and there wasn’t a way that he couldn’t see it. Clint Hurdle was a tad heated and rightfully so. That loss placed them a game behind the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Central race, which is tighter than skinny jeans on a fat girl at the moment.

Every game counts and games like these can swing a division later in the division.

So now the question is will Major League Baseball look to expand instant replay for situations like these?

We know umpires make mistakes all of the time more so in baseball than in other sports. However, I think it’s time that MLB pushes for more replay due to the fact that games like these are so important and can’t be tainted in any way.

If the Pirates lose the division by one game or miss out on the wildcard they can solely point to this game and that moment as the one that killed their season.

Replay could’ve found conclusive evidence and called Lugo out at home. Even if the Pirates would’ve lost the game afterwards the right call would’ve been made and we would’ve had an undisputed winner with no controversy.

Instead the Pirates go home down a game after a loss that was taken from them.  In their season of redemption some of that old Pirates bad luck that has plagued them in the last 20 years came back to bite them in the rear.

If there was instant replay for plays at the plate then it wouldn’t have.


Throwback Post: The Passion Of The Favre

This was supposed to be the end...

Editors note: This article was originally published on August 5th, 2008. Yeah, I’ve been hating on Favre for a minute.

Like most football fans I was thoroughly saddened this past March when Brett Favre decided to retire from the NFL. I adored Favre over the years for his unbelievable creativity on the football field and never say die attitude. He was a gunslinger, the last of a dying breed of Quarterback. Jay Cutler and Rex Grossman can do nothing but hold the man’s jock strap. So when he made his tearful good-bye plans were being put into place for his accesion to deity status. His jersey was to be retired on opening Monday night against the Vikings, maybe a staute here, and road named after him there, just some stuff to remind young packer fans now and down the road how truly awesome this man was…then came June.

Brett Favre decided that it wasnt time for him to step away after all and sent a text to his boss saying i want back in…problem is once you say you’re done, you’re done. Which brings us to today and the purpose of this piece…Brett Favre has gotten on my last damn nerve! Brett you said you were retired but now you want to come back after giving it thought for three months? um, no, doesnt work like that not even for superstars such as yourself. Truth be told i’ve always thought Favre has been a little overrated. I mean when you turn on ESPN and see Mark Schlareth slurping the guy you would think he his an actual god. But Favre is flawed, very. For every monday night classic like his performance against the raiders after his father died, there is a moment when you go, what the hell Brett? Remember the Eagles game in the playoffs a few years ago (4th and 26…btw what the hell happened to freddie mitchell) and that ridiculous lame duck pass he threw in over time, or this past year against my giants when he threw two terrible passes that looked like Corey Webster and R.W. Mcquarters played for the pack? that gets lost in the whole Brett is God discussion. Especially the last five or six years I mean Brett at times has looked like Rex Grossman.

...Then came this.

Personally i dont want to know how Ted Thompson the packers GM feels. Brett for years has held the team hostage for months on deciding his future. Now when it looks like he’s moved on and the packers finally have something in place brett wants back in. Ted is in a no-win situation. I think he’s right for telling Brett that Aaron Rodgers is the starter, but can you really see Brett as a backup? plus all the talk of trading him which is stupid. look i know teams who are on the cusp would love brett for a year, but in the case of Minnesota why? you lose draft picks, kill your youth movement all for a guy that has to learn a new system, make quick chemistry with his receivers and do it in one year? and releasing him would be just plain stupid (imagine the bears picking him up, just for a sec).

Then there’s Aaron Rodgers. poor guy. first he loses about 40 million in the draft falling from the top 5 to number 23 now the guy cant do anything with having favre in his vicinity at anytime. Did you see the Espy’s would Justin Timberlake was mock hugging him, i thought Aaron was gonna either cry or knock his lights out. I dont think Aaron is going to be the next bart starr or anything but he’s on the last year of his deal and has been waiting for his time to shine for an eternity it seems. if he came out tomorrow and said he wishes death on brett favre could you blame the guy?

Finally there are the fans. Some want favre back, some want him to go back to mississippi, then there’s guys like me who would like the talk of the NFL to be how my world champion Giants are going to repeat (god that sounds beautiful) not how some guy who cant make up his mind on his future. I cant even enjoy baseball highlights in fear of seeing a Favre update flash across my screen and im sick of it. there are going to be those people who still feel he’s one of the greats ever and those people who feel hes a spoiled overgrown baby, like yours truly. whenever and if ever this gets resolved Favre legacy has changed. whether for better or worse remains to be seen. But whatever happens can it happen now? I want to enjoy a Favre-free sportscenter.


Now I Can Write About The NFL

I'm glad that we can finally stop talking about you two.

So, you’re probably wondering what in the world took me so long to write about the NFL lockout. It’s simple; I knew that 32 owners and about 1900 players wouldn’t let $10 billion float away because of stubbornness.

Dudes aint that stupid.

Of course the owners wanted more money, they’re owners, they’re greedy. However when you own a franchise and you think you should be making more money chances are you’re going to try and get more money.

The owners were successful in doing that with the agreement that was reached by both sides this afternoon. The salary cap has dropped, the players got a little bit out of it and both sides are happy… as happy as they’ll get.

Fans are happy because they get football to start on time with no delay. We get to go to training camps and watch some of our favorite players and teams sweat it out in the sun and get ready for the season to commence.

I know I talked a lot of trash about how Roger Goodell and DeMaurice Smith needed to get on the ball, but besides the money issue I just knew that a deal would get done because what other options were there?

The NFL is the only football league on the market that’s worth two cents. You think guys were really going to the AFL or CFL? No.

This aint the NBA, or NHL. There are no other real options for these guys other than strapping the pads on and playing right here. The fact that the players would be silly enough to flush they’re jobs down the drain and lose millions of dollars in one season wasn’t logical. Even for the owners it didn’t make sense to let their stubbornness get in the way of getting this deal done. I mean Jerry Jones can hold all of the college football games that he wants at Cowboys Stadium. However, do you really think that Oregon-LSU and Texas A&M-Arkansas will pay the same bills that Dallas Cowboys games will?

Negative.

AAAAAAAAAHHHHHH! NOT YOU AGAIN!!!

So the only solution was to get this deal done. Despite all of the battles in the media, name-calling, chest bumping and gamesmanship being displayed by both sides, they were always focused on this day and coming to a resolution.

They had to, their livelihoods depended on it.

I’m more excited about what going to happen in the next week than what happened in the previous 20.

Where’s Nmandi Asomugha going to end up? How about Plaxico Burress? What undrafted rookies will go where? Is Goodell going to suspend James Harrison for his reckless tongue? Where’s Brett Favre going to…

(JESUS CHRIST!!! FAVRE AGAIN?!?!?! CAN I HAVE ONE DAMN NFL OFFSEASON WITHOUT BRETT FAVRE?! NOT EVEN MICHAEL JORDAN GOT THIS ANNOYING WITH THE RETIRING AND UNRETIRING!!! REALLY PHILADELPHIA?!?!?! YOU HAD TO POSE THIS QUESTION AND SHOW INTEREST IN MAKING FAVRE A BACKUP?!?!?!?! I HOPE DESEAN JACKSON BREAKS HIS LEG!!!

My bad, talking about Brett Favre does that to me sometimes… you understand.)

There is so much that will happen in the next week and some change that our necks will be sprained from trying to look back and forth.

I’m happy that this is the kind of NFL news that we get to talk about. The wheeling and dealing of the actual 9-5 business of the NFL and not some dog and pony show that was the collective bargaining agreement.

It’s time for some real football talk to commence, and no one is more ready for it than I am.