Friday, February 27, 2009

Thanks Brett

Kurt Warner can personally thank Brett Favre for single handedly destroying the free agent market for veteran quarterbacks in the NFL. Maybe Warner and his senior citizen bud Kerry Collins can chip in and send Brett a fruit basket for his negative contributions to the "over-the-hill pay day club".
Thanks to Favre's flop down the stretch last fall, the free agent market for veteran QB's will be slim pickens this off-season. In this harsh economic climate where teams are pinching pennies and not willing to take chances, guys like Warner and Collins who want short-term/high paid deals will be left out in the cold. To give you an idea what kind of cash we're talking about, Matt Cassel recently got the franchise tag from the Patriots giving him an average salary of the top 5 QB's in football at $14.5 mil a year.

Favre, however, proved that signing a seasoned vet with winning experience can backfire. Signing Favre one year after a miraculous resurrection in Green Bay was disastrous for the Jets. Not only did the Jets not make the playoffs, they are now without a quality QB...again.

One bright spot for Warner is the NFL's attempt to help teams better their rosters. They recently raised the salary cap to $127 million, up $11 mil from 2008. Warner's agent says that they expect to start the bidding somewhere in the Cassel range, and rightly so. Warner did just lead the Arizona Cardinals to a Super Bowl appearance. Unfortunately, as a GM I wouldn't risk my money and team's future on a guy that might fall apart physically or retire in the next 11 months. See what you did Brett?

Monday, February 23, 2009

Get Some

This weekend in college hoops saw more top teams go down. North Carolina blew a 16 point lead and Oklahoma couldn't compete without their big man Blake Griffin. But the headlines Monday revolved around comments made by UConn coach Jim Calhoun.

When questioned about his salary and being the highest paid state employee by a ridiculous reporter on Sunday, Calhoun went all "Mike Gundy" on him and asked if he was "really that stupid".

Many will argue that the reporter was out of line and that Calhoun lost his cool. But I say GET SOME Coach. First of all, he was out of line and it's no one's business what you make. Second, if he is going to question your bank account then at least get some facts, right? (Calhoun swatted the reporter's question about him making $1.5 mil per year by answering with: "I make way more than that". Love it.

He defended his salary by reminding all the skeptics that the basketball program at UConn brings in over $12 million a year to the university, and offered some advice to the reporter: just shut up.

Calhoun's mini meltdown was one for the ages. Not only does he deserve the money he currently earns, but after those comments give him a raise. You the man Coach.
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Sunday, February 22, 2009

Spring Training Shorts

Return of the Kid

It's like a dream come true. What Niner fans would have felt had Joe Montana suited up for the burgundy and gold one more time, going out at Candlestick Park where he belonged. Ken Griffey Jr. is fulfilling the dreams of baseball in the Northwest by returning to the team he grew up with. He might not be the same 19 year old kid they brought up in 1989, but a rejuvenated Jr. means a loose, charismatic star is back in Seattle. It will be poetry in motion to once again see that sweet lefty swing in a Mariner’s jersey. Stay healthy Griff, you and the M’s both deserve this.

Somebody Sign Him

Manny Ramirez is still a free agent. I know times are tough and money is tight, but his career .314 batting average and 133 RBI per season speaks for itself. This 500 home run club member not only delivers fans to the ball park, he delivers in the clutch and will deposit balls into the bleachers. Some GM better step up to the plate and deliver the goods. Note to hopeful contenders: spend the money and give your club an instant chance at a title.

Award Night

Unlike the Olympics, Major League players will be able to compete in the 2009 World Baseball Classic representing their respective countries. It is shaping up to be an amazing tournament that will put the very best ball players on display for the world to see. That being said, I would like to give out some pre-tourney awards as we ready ourselves for this stellar display of baseball talent:

First, to the player who was born in America but continues to speak in fake-broken English and play for the Dominican Republic, Alex Rodriguez.

Second, I would like to award the World Baseball Classic for choosing a time of year when no one is ready to play. March is not baseball season, and eventually they will have to move it to the middle of summer and just take a break in the MLB schedule.

A quick shout out to Japan, the 2006 champs: continue to scream at the pitcher before stepping in the box and use those funky Mizuno batting gloves. I love it.

Congratulations to team USA who seems to have put together an exciting, competitive squad. The roster has a mix of fresh young talent and grizzled vets with the infield alone having 8 All-Stars. Have fun managing those games.

And finally, I would like to award Cuba for compiling a 45-man roster and not including one Major League Baseball player. Good Luck.

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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Good Call

I have been quiet for too long, but the time has come. I am about to remove the gym sock stuck in my mouth for the past week gagging me silent. As much as I would like to overlook the recent discoveries Major League baseball has made about their superstar, I JUST CAN'T.

On February 6, I published a post telling the sporting world to stop caring about steroids and start hoping it would just go away. Obviously two weeks of prayer is not enough time to heal 20 years of sin.
Sadly, baseball fans have become too consumed with the details, the damage control, and white smile A-Rod has offered us. No one has questioned his abilities or the awards he may have won because of an unfair advantage.

As disappointment in our heroes continues to mount, when will fans demand that juicers forfeit their awards. In his recent column, ESPN The Mag's Rick Reilly spoke out against the "syringe binge", and gave fans a rallying cry to get behind. He apologized to players who finished second in MVP voting behind known juicers during the steroid era, and returned the trophies to their rightful owners.
Reading this column was like a breath of fresh air, and I am so glad that someone finally proposed that awards should not be won illegally.

We can't let cheaters be most valuable player, batting champ, or rookie of the year. Let's keep our attention and adoration on the guys who do it naturally. But as Reilly wrote at the end of his column, the rest of you guys better not disappoint us.

Read Rick Reilly's full column

Saturday, February 14, 2009

You Asked For It

After negotiations for a potential buyout failed, David Beckham will return stateside to reclaim his MLS poster boy status and rejoin the Los Angeles Galaxy. AC Milan made an offer to extract the overpaid midfielder out of his current contract and return him to past English Premier League glory.

However, the MLS felt that the pot wasn’t sweet enough. So reluctantly, Beckham will have to suit up for the Galaxy and catch reunion Spice Girls concerts with the likes of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes for at least one more year.

As much as I would have loved to send the soccer icon packing I am thrilled to death that the MLS is sticking to its guns and making Beckham honor his contract. Too many athletes today will gladly sign on the dotted line for the next big payday but then want out when the team crumbles or as soon as they get a better offer (see Baron Davis and Alex Rodriguez).

It drives true fans crazy that athletes only care about their next check. How are small market teams supposed to compete with the Yankees and Lakers of world? They can’t. As soon as young talent and team chemistry starts to develop guys jump ship for the dollars (see the Oakland Athletics).

So here’s some advice to Mr. Beckham and all the rest of you overpaid whiners out there: 1. Think about who you’re signing with (if it’s the New York Knicks, just say NO). 2. Don’t always go to the highest bidder, winning is still somewhat important in your line of work. And finally, 3. Don’t expect your contract to get restructured just because you did your job well, otherwise the suits should start taking money away every time you screw up.
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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Eye of the Tiger

Everybody loves a winner. Why else would someone sport a Tampa Bay Rays hat or a Kevin Garnett jersey? Jumping on the bandwagon is what makes sports fun (hence rooting for the Arizona Cardinals, EVER). Teams always want to be on top. But where’s the balance in sports these days? Unless it’s your team doing the dominating, winning can become pretty disgusting. Tom Brady with his three rings, the Red Sox winning two World Series titles this decade, and the Steelers’ six Vince Lombardi trophies make me sick. However, there is one champion who will continue to draw crowds, amaze audiences, and blow the minds of fans everywhere.

Tiger Woods will go down as the greatest champion in golf history. Unbelievably, the more he wins the more people root for him. The 14-time major champion has the game of a god and the heart of a lion. His competitiveness is unrivaled and his grit grows with every swing. No matter what event or who is in the final group that particular Sunday, fans want Tiger to win. You can’t blame them either.

His passion for winning is contagious and you can see the determination in his eyes. He is the only athlete making over $100 million a year on endorsements alone and still loved by everyone. Last year in the U.S. Open he proved his dominance with grace as he sank that putt on 18 that had 15 men in my house screaming like teenage girls at an *NSYNC concert. Through excruciating pain he walked an extra 18 holes on Monday just to prove that he was the best.

Now we wait. Tiger hasn’t competed since June 2008 thanks to an ACL surgery and if he makes it back for the Master’s in April it will have been 10 months since he suited up for a PGA event. But chances are Tiger will only enter the tourney if he thinks he can win. Woods is the greatest golfer because of his ability to perform under amazing amounts of pressure, and he is the greatest champion of all time because of his need to win. When he does return, I, along with the rest of the world will watch in awe as Tiger blows us away — again.

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Sunday, February 8, 2009

Toothless Gentlemen

If you’ve ever heard the quote, “I went to a fight and a hockey game broke out”, then you know where this is coming from.

As the cry for a ban on fighting in the NHL circulates the sports world like the wave at a Beyonce concert, there are some hockey purists who would argue that without it the game could not survive. Fighting is synonymous with hockey like turkey is with Thanksgiving. (I know. I just used an American holiday to make a metaphorical reference to a Canadian sport.) But you have to see the big picture. Hockey needs fights. In such a physical sport, fighting allows teams to protect their star players, let other teams know when they’re getting embarrassed and set the tone for playoff series when guys have to look across the ice at the same ugly mug for multiple games in a row. On the ice, fighting is a way for opponents to express frustration and keep the game from getting chippy.

In the defense of fighting:

The fights are always one on one and rarely last more than 30 seconds. Guys earn respect with their teammates for not shying away from scraps. They may look like toothless goons out there, but they are doing the right thing (and have dentures for later). It keeps crowds into the game, protects players from being blasted on every check, and can change the momentum of a game. It is an incredibly honorable part of hockey. Most importantly, in these harsh economic times are we really going to eliminate the role of the enforcer in the NHL? Without fights, those guys would lose their jobs—and they have families too.

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Friday, February 6, 2009

Stop Caring

Home run king Barry Bonds has been out of the game for over a year now and he is still making headlines. In a Bay Area courtroom yesterday, a judge released documentation that the San Francisco slugger tested positive for performance enhancing drugs on more than one occasion. Was he a performance enhancing abuser? YES. Did he lie to a federal grand jury? YES. Should anyone still care? NO. Here’s why:

1. I am so sick of Barry being the poster child for the juiced era. First of all, Bonds was not the only player in Major League Baseball to use. In fact I am willing to bet that just as many pitchers used than hitters (See: Eric Gagne, Kevin Brown, and Roger Clemens). Don’t punish him for being the best ball player and the best at using the drugs.

2. If there is anyone to blame, it’s the “high ups” in Major League Baseball. They knew exactly what was going on way back in ‘98 when Slammin’ Sammy Sosa and Big Mac were putting balls out of stadiums. But, baseball was still struggling to get fans back from the 1994 strike and this was doing the trick.

3. As baseball fans we have to admit that we turned the other cheek and enjoyed the show. Now, we must move on and stop putting cash in the pockets of low-lives who are writing books faster than rabbits can reproduce and cashing in on our obsession. (See Jose Canseco).

If we stop caring the books will go away, the controversy will soon be over, and we can return to the glorious game that we fell in love with a long time ago.

Monday, February 2, 2009

The Wrong Team Won

When your team isn't in the big dance you tend to find yourself rooting for a good game and funny commercials. After three dismal quarters of boring Steelers football, a rousing game of "Where's Larry Fitzgerald?", and some pretty good work by Pepsi, the game shifted into one of the greatest Super Bowl finishes of all-time.
Dramatic third down conversions, a safety, and two lead changes in two minutes helped build up to one of the greatest big stage catches in my history as a sports fan. Who could ask for more?
Apparently I can. Somewhere between the 14-point swing on James Harrison's Super Bowl record 100-yard interception for a touchdown and the
end of The Boss' halftime knee slide I became a huge Arizona Cardinals fan. I guess I was just sick of seeing Steel Curtain 2 bail out a poor running game and an impotent red zone offense.
So here you go: The Top 3 Reasons this year's Cinderella Story should have been completed: 3. Big Ben is slow and shouldn't be that elusive. 2. Larry Fitzgerald broke Jerry Rice's playoff records with 30 receptions, 546 yards, and 7 touchdowns (two coming in the Super Bowl and one that should have been the game winner). And finally, 1. The NFL a league built on pride and tradition must have wanted the Steelers to win their NFL record sixth title, because the faux fumble by Kurt Warner at the end of the game wasn't even reviewed (I wanted to NBCee it). Give the NFL's "Walter Payton Man of the Year" one more shot to go Doug Flutie style to Fitz and quite possibly one of the greatest Super Bowl finishes could have become the BEST.
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