Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Head of the Class- 2013

The 2013 Hall of Fame class for baseball should prove to be a very interesting one. As in all Hall of Fame ballots and voting there are always questions and great debate on who is deserving, why this guy and not that guy and then a lot of stats to prove or disprove whatever argument you feel is correct. This next ballet is no different and is actually more controversial then ever before. This is the first year that the wave  from the  'steroid era'. Today, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa are set to show up on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time. Craig Biggio, Mike Piazza and Curt Schilling are certain to be among the other first-time eligible  Jack Morris, Jeff Bagwell and Tim Raines are the top holdover candidates.

There are a lot of the writers/voters that are going to be hardliners and not vote for some or all of the big 3 on 'principal'. Writers tend not to like jerks and that will be 1 strike against the top 3 guys. That should not way into the discussion but it does. Just ask Jack Morris. He is a prime example of old school baseball guys holding a bad attitude over the head of a potential candidate. Because of the new names going on the ballot this year might just open the door for Morris and Tim Raines to slip in. That is one thing I do not understand is how guys that have done nothing in the last year to increase the chances of getting into the hall but because of who they are up against this time around make them more deserving. Their stats have not changed and they did not win a championship but NOW they are worth of Hall of Fame Status? That is just the way that it is under the current system and is that way in most leagues.
It is notable to know that Mark McGwire is 10th on the career home run list with 583, but has never received even 24 per cent in his six tries. Big Mac has admitted using steroids and human growth hormone and recently was on the Dan Patrick Show and stated that he himself did not deserve to be in the Hall of Fame.

I can see  Craig Biggio and Mike Piazza being worth to get in. Piazza was one of the most feared offensive catcher of all time and when you have power numbers that are in the same range as Johnny Bench it is hard to ignore. He was the best at his position when he played and there is not a lot more that you can ask for. As for Biggio he was productive at the top of the order, he got his 3000 hits and was a leader on Astro teams that were very good for the many years he was there. His versatility also is impressive to move positions the number of times he did to not only help his career length but showed he was a team guy and would do whatever was best for the team. To go from a catcher to second base and then to center field. Teams always like to be strong defensively up the middle and he ended up moving to 3 of the positions up the pipe.

When it comes to Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa the debate is there on should they or shouldn't be put in the Hall. Bonds and Clemens are known for not being the most congenial of characters and Sosa has been known to forget how to speak English when asked questions on performance enhancing drugs (PEDs). What people have to remember is that despite the fact that there is all kinds of evidence and seems to be the consensus that all have done some kind of PED's over some time during their career, they were never proven to have done anything wrong. They did not violate any rules that Baseball had in place, did not fail any test while playing and even if they did do something they were, for the most part, facing opponents that themselves were on something at that very same time. That is the thing, the number of guys that were playing were on something probably outweighed those that were playing clean.

Worst case, lets say that these guys were juicing.  They still outplayed the competition and were arguably the best players of all time. One might suggest that it was more ego enhancing drugs rather then performance enhancing  Sure the numbers may be skued but these were still some of the best talents of all time. In the case of Bonds and Clemens, the body of work they had with their original teams, Pirates and Red Sox respectively  a case could be made that both players are deserving based on that time alone. It was then, when both were skinny and ``appeared`` that they were...more clean.  Bonds landed in San Francisco and Clemens landed in Toronto those are the times that most believe that they, at least ramped up whatever they may be on and both got bigger and better.

I do not condone the use of drugs to play better or get stronger but if baseball did little to do anything about PEDs until forced to by the government (granted the players union did everything they could to allow players to get away with it), had no method to test or prevent or rules against PEDs then you should not be able to penalize player for something the may or may not have (but almost guaranteed did) done during their career. Drugs or no drugs it still talks a lot of skill to take a round ball a round bat and hit it square. These drugs seem to be more beneficial for recovery so when guys work out they can rebound better and quicker and can then train harder and more often. But they are still training  still working out. All these legal supplements like Whey, Protein  Creatine, Flax Seed whatever you want to add to your morning shake are OK? Where is the line? Even a shot of cortizone is performance enhancing  how many guys get a shoulder or knee shot up to be able to play? How is that not performance enhancing? What is the difference between medicine and dope? All are valid questions with a lot of Grey in terms of answers.

All in all, writers will hid behind the well 'we voted their conscious  excuse and say they are doing it for the integrity of the game and to honor the Hall but their excuse, when you look at it seems awfully thin. Let the players in, drugs or no drugs they were the best when they played, possibly the best of all time and were never convicted.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

While You are Sleeping - NFL Network Pre-Game Show

There are very few reasons to be up early on a Sunday morning. One big reason, if you are an NFL fan, is to watch NFL Networks early morning show First on the Field. The show airs from 7am-9am on the NFL Networks and features Former running back LaDanian Tomlinson, and co-hosts Sterling Sharpe (former Wide Receiver) and Melissa Stark (Monday Night Football and Today Show). The show has a good mix of entertainment and information for the days games each week. Fresh off the field Thomlinson gives a good feel from a players perspective and Sharpe has been doing these pre-game shows since his retirement and has earned a role as a host/co-host while still bringing the ability to break down plays and games. Just about every network has their own version of a pre-game preview show and this one ranks right there with the best of them. What sets it apart is the ability of Melissa Stark as the host and helps guide the ship. Knowledgeable, skilled and attractive...a deadly combination. 

No other Pro football show features a female host which sets First on the Field apart from any of the competing shows. Erin Andrews (Dancing with the Stars and formerly ESPN) is the host for FOX's NCAA Football show on Saturday Nights and also does a good job on that program. 

Stark, who worked on Monday Night Football in the early 2000's left that gig to focus on family. Since then she has done some work on the Today Show. Stark brings a nice balance of classic journalism and can control the show in her role as co-host, but also offers great football knowledge to the show. Her ability to deliver either insight or statistics while keeping it entertaining is a remarkable and it proves to be in that role. Now it must be noted that she also possesses the other skills that helps one on the television excel as well. There is a reason that some people are just better in other mediums. There is a reason for that old saying "a face for radio". The television is a visual medium and like it or not looks count. There is no denying that she is stunningly beautiful and probably possesses the most stunning pair of legs since Mary Hart from Entertainment Tonight (and she reportedly had each insured for $1 Million each, so $2 Million total). If that doesn't keep you tuned in and willing to get up to watch who knows what is.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Blue Jays Trade - Part Deux

The Blue Jays are taking Miami's talent (and contracts) from South Beach

The Blue Jays are still waiting for the MLB to approve the blockbuster trade that has been agreed upon with the Miami Marlins. There does not appear that they can put a stop to this like David Stern did last year with the proposed trade last year with the Chris Paul to the Lakers.

It is interesting to look at this deal not from a Blue Jays point of view but some other vantage point. As for the 3 fans of the Marlins, it is tough. For the few that there were actual fans there is only 1 player left in Miami, OF Giencarlo Stanton. He was on Twitter lat night and said basically ``Ok, i`m pissed``. Clearly he was not a fan of the deal. One can only presume that fish fans feel the same. Miami just moved into a new stadium last year and spent like drunken sailors to make a splash. They hired Ozzie Guillen. All of that turned out to be a colossal failure. Now the Marlins are operating under the marketing slogan ``The Marlins are ALL IN...Toronto``.

Not a minor point either is the money, and not just the salaries that are being picked up by the Jays. Florida is a no tax state and the contract that each player signed is going to be a little less then it was. The numbers work out to roughly 14% of 45% of the players salaries are going to be taxed. Players are taxed on the 81 games they play in Canada.

It is interesting to note that the Marlins have had fire sales in the past, but never to this extent. This time it was the Blue Jays that were the benefactors of this method. Jays fans are not used to the kind of buzz that this deal has created not just in Toronto but all over Major League Baseball but the US and A. When Miami went on the spending spree last season, baseball people were already apparently worried that if their experiment did not work the possibility that a deal like that could happen. What was even more of a sign was that one of the big ticket contracts that were given out included a no-trade clause ..guess that should have been a warning sign. That is a possible good thing for the Jays too as they are not restricted buy such a restriction as well, especially with the deals being very back loaded.

What was always aggravating was that people were always blaming the Jays for not going out and spending. It appears that this was part of the plan all along. If they had spent just for the sake of spending and not doing it wisely.  Building a team and then filling it with high price players when he could. People seemed to always place blame on the Jays GM for not spending on past Free Agents. Just remember that it takes 2 to Tango. Just because you have money and a spot doesn't mean that that the player will be willing to play for your team. Canada has never been a destination spot for big time free agents so to get the big names is not as easy as just spending money. What Alex Anthopoulos was able to do was get last years free agents...this year instead. This time via the trade rout. In the big picture it does not matter what method was used the players are coming now... whether they wanted to or not.

The great thing right now is you know that the Jays are ready to put the big plan into motion and it is only November and there are still winter meetings to be held where a lot of talks take place among GM`s plus free agents are yet to be signed. There is plenty of time to continue tweaking the roster. You never know, just because these players are on the way to Toronto right now does not mean that they will be on the opening day roster. Just remember Mike Avilas was brought over from Boston for Manager John Farrell...he was traded for a power arm to help out the bullpen and is now in Cleveland. There seem to be a lot of catchers on the roster and Adam Lind and Colby Rasmus are far from safe with holes that can be upgraded at second base and left field. Stay Tuned this could just be the tip of the iceberg!

Oh yeah, there is still no manager in place.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Huge Deal For Blue Jays

The Blue Jays are set to acquire starters Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle, shortstop Jose Reyes, infielder/outfielder Emilio Bonifacio and catcher John Buck from the Marlins. This is one of those epic deals that is very rare in general for any sport. A deal of this magnitude is rare but even more so because it is involving a Canadian team. Having a deal that will rock the baseball world and being done by the Toronto Blue Jays is almost unbelievable.

A deal like this is something out of a video game or a fantasy league and that can't help but bring hype to a team that needs to be brought to the for front in the city. With no hockey the Jays have a huge opportunity to become the team of the City an this is a great start. Maybe it works, maybe it will be a failure of epic proportions but it has brought back a buzz and optimism to a team that was...3 hours ago a near afterthought and not a lot of love after a dismal end to the season.

The Blue Jays were criticized for the handling of the John Farrell situation, that they had no direction and had no manager. Now the last thing on peoples mind is the loss of Farrell. It will be interesting to see what GM Alex Anthopoulos does in regards to a new manager but you can bet that there will be some interest from players and fans alike.

It appears that the Marlins will receive a package that includes shortstops Yunel Escobar and Adeiny Hechavarria, major-league starter Henderson Alvarez, minor-league starter Justin Nicolino Jacob Marisnick, and a catcher maybe JP Arencibia.

Not missing hockey anymore...they can stay locked out now for the full season as far as I am concerned, my interest has now shifted back to baseball. I remember now what a fan I used to be, nice to have that back. I look forward to see what else happens with this team to fill out the roster. I think there is a spot at 2nd base and Left Field.

More to come I am sure!

Friday, November 09, 2012

Exit From LA - Mike Brown Fired

The Lakers have let coach Mike Brown go after a 1-4 start. After the death stare that Brown got from the unquestionable leader and face of the franchise Kobe Bryant the writing may just have been on the wall. When Brown was hired, Kobe came out and stated that he was a little surprised that he was not only not consulted or asked for input before Brown was hired in the first place. That was a big mistake and it has proven to be the case. Most players should not have a voice on who the coach of a team is, Kobe is not one of those players. He is special, he is the face of the team the team leader and holds A LOT of power in the organization. I am she that the Bulls GM  gave a quick call to Michael Jordan before hiring his coaches.

Now the question is who come in? Jerry Sloan? maybe. Mike D'Antoni? maybe. Bring back Phil Jackson? Doubt that he would have any interest in coming back but that would be very interesting. Kobe wants a ring, Steve Nash wants a ring, I am sure Pau Gasol wants another ring...Dwight Howard, he may be more interested in having fun and that can't sit well with Kobe. One might wonder if the Lakers are rethinking if it was such a good idea to drop Andrew Bynum this off season.

The Princeton offence just didn't get any traction and just never fit with the personnel  It is basically a ball movement offence, a half court offence and one that essentially drains skill from the game. That is why Princeton used it. It was used by a team that used that style because they were not good and needed to drain the skill from the game. When you have players that are by all accounts superstars that are athletic and skilled why would you try to restrict them. Maybe it is time to bring back the triangle offence! With that said the overall offensive rating was not that bad. What seemed to be the bigger problem was the defense and that is odd since Mike Brown is/was a defensive minded coach. That's what makes it all so confusing.

Maybe the Lakers need to bring in 2 coaches or in football. Have one Offensive Coordinator that can put it in Steve Nash's hands when he comes back healthy and run a high octane pick and roll offence and then another Defensive Coordinator that can lock down the other teams. Kobe and Dwight are 2 of the better defenders in the NBA when the want to be and Ron Artest is a hard worker and like to crash the boards. There is no reason that they should not be able to lock it down.

This should be another interesting saga to watch play out. After Showtime and The Late Show It will be interesting to see what this turns into...for the sake of Lakers Fans hopefully it doesn't turn into the Magic Johnson show (for those who may not know, I am speaking of the talk show from Magic, not his time on the court)!