Friday, August 3, 2007

More Fun With Keywords

Son, no matter how many times you type it, you're not going to find a picture of Grady Sizemore's cock.

Because it's fun and easy, and because people are crazy, it's time once again for my periodic look at the most interesting keyword searches on Google that lead you to my site. Here are a couple really good ones this week:

meaning of "take the ball" in aviation - I have no idea how my site is linked to this phrase.

linda cohn sex tape - I don't want to know if this person found what they were looking for. But I do know that they did not find it on The Smittblog.

gary coleman - tough times
gary coleman cash
gary coleman is weird
gary coleman loan
- These searches pretty much sum up the life and times of Gary Coleman.

"yanni live from acropolis" - This I like.

There are a couple others of note including "Meatballs 2 'Meathead'" and "Michael Strahan Gay," which led to my site on 8 separate occasions (if it lisps like a duck...). But I have two favorites this week. Here's the first:

fuck chicken fucking

This one really gets me because I can't quite figure it out. I'm not sure if this is a person looking for information about beastiality involving chickens or hates the people involved in such acts. It almost seems like it's a bastardized version of the Farva's line from "Super Troopers." Maybe it refers to something in pop subculture that I'm not "hip" enough to know about. If so, I wish someone would fill me in because I am fricking stumped.

But lastly, and predictably, my favorite keyword seach of the week is.....

grady sizemore cock

This week that phrase led to my blog FOURTEEN TIMES (14). I know people are just fucking with me (or if not fucking with me, at least find the keyword - blog linkage thing funny enough that they keep typing it in), but it's really unbelievable. The only keyword more popular is "The Smittblog". Regardless, I appreciate that this has at least in part become a calling card of my site. You type in grady sizemore cock, and you get the Smittblog. We're like peas and carrots. Good stuff, though I do apologize to those who are disappointed on learning that this site provides no answer to their query. Those folks either need a private detective or a cold shower.

Was The Davydenko Match Fixed? You Bet Your Ass It Was.

This is the Russian mob's "horse's head in the bed" move. I'm not sure it's as effective.

When Nikolay Davydenko pulled up lame in the third set of his match against some no name scrub in the much anticipated Poland Open yesterday, not much was made of it. That was until the betting site Betfair refused to pay the winning bets on Davydenko's opponent, Martin Vassallo, the world No 87. Why you ask? Well probably because this happened:
Betfair said it received about $7 million in bets on the match — 10 times the usual amount — and most of the money was on Arguello to win, even after Davydenko won the first set 6-2.
Now I don't want to go around calling the gentleman in whatever organized crime element that was responsible for intimdating Davydenko into throwing the match a bunch of idiots, I do like my kneecaps, but did you really think that betting on the world number 4's opponent at a tune of 10 times the normal amount bet on the match as a whole wouldn't raise an eyebrw or two? How greedy can you be? Had the bets been twice as high as the normal amount it would have led to an investigation. You bet 10 times the average? Good lord. You didn't just steal from the cookie jar, you took the jar, the fucking flower, chocolate chips and the oven. I only hope that these people are outed and giving their day in court. They are sullying the good name of less-greedy organized crime units across the world.

Syracuse Football Coverage Is Pathetic

This is a leaked photograph from inside the sports reporting desk at the Syracuse Post-Standard

I understand that the 2007 Syracuse football pre-season camp just opened today. I am also keenly aware that the Syracuse football program's fall from grace has been precipitous and has resulted in disinterest from the community at large (despite the best efforts of the school's marketing gurus) and dwindling home attendance in a era where interest in college football is growing almost faster than any other sport. I get all of that. What I don't get is why the Syracuse media is helping perpetuate this disinterest by not uttering an f'n peep (before today) about the prospects of this year's Syracuse Football team.

According to (the major online sports coverage outlet for Syracuse football), the staff at the Post-Standard has written 13 articles related to Syracuse football since July 11th (three of those appeared in today's issue). Of those 13, 3 articles were about former players, one was about the marriage of Syracuse AD, Daryl Groos and one was about Syracuse pulling out of the Wyoming game (a move deserving of an entirely separate post). So there were about 8 articles in the last month that even tangentially related to the onfield play of the 2007 Syracuse Orangemen (as noted in a previous post, I refuse to call them "The Orange"). The Post-Standard also features about a dozen or blog posts from their main staff as well as a tolerable (increasingly so) blog from "The Axeman." Just as a comparison, the Newark Star-Ledger has put out 10 articles about Rutgers football since July 31st (not to mention that even the bad teams in the SEC and Big Twelve have averaged about 6 articles per day in their locals). AND THERE ARE OTHER TEAMS TO COVER IN NEWARK! The real kicker came yesterday when the Post-Standard was beaten to the punch with the story about the potential new Syracuse Football Stadium. When you are the leading newspaper for the team and you aren't the ones getting the emails and phone calls when something this major comes up, something is horribly wrong. I understand that Rutgers football is coming off their greatest season ever and are considered "on the map" in terms of recruiting classes and coaching staff, but they're still "Rutgers" and Syracuse should never get outworked by anything Rutgers. But that's what's happening today, and it's not even close.

You see, in today's college football landscape, half the battle is branding. You need to successfully brand your product in order to remain hip and relevant. This is the only way to get recruits. In the time before every college football team was on TV via the Colleg Football package, Syracuse was one of the few teams that appeared to a large audience all the time. They were the northeast's regional D1 team and EVERYONE in the tri-state area wanted to go to either Syracuse or Notre Dame because those were the two teams they saw on TV. Now that you can see every team, that advantage is gone. You now need to re-brand and gain new viewers and a renewed interest in the program. In many ways, Syracuse has been on the cutting edge of this new "branding" landscape. They are never afraid to change a uniform or try and gain access to new revenue sources (Gross has been especially on the ball in trying to gain access to NYC with the 1050am ESPN radio deal and Times Square Ads and the like). Greg Robinson is a great face for the organization and his tireless enthusiasm will go a long way towards creating a successful brand. Obviously this will all go to waste if they continue putting a crappy product on the field. No one will want to come to play for Syracuse and more importantly no one will want to watch. But in a new year with a new QB and some players that Robinson actually recruited, there is reason for enthusiasm. Sadly, there is no enthusiasm. And the reason for this lack of interest is the coverage (or lack thereof) provided by the Syracuse Post-Standard. It needs to change. And it wouldn't be all that hard to change it.

Despite the last couple of years and slow ticket sales, there is a demand for information about this year's Syracuse Football team. I know because I've emailed with friends from Boston, Northern New York and NYC who can't wait to catch a game this year. The Post-Standard's Forum on Syracuse Football (a message board hosted by The Post-Standard) gets 1000's of posts per day about this Syracuse football team. Friday, August 31st, there will be a season opening party for the 'Cuse v. U Wash game in Sunnyside, NY (sorry, the venue is sold out). This is all happening despite the fact that we don't know the names of this year's starting defensive backfield or any of the backstory about the guys protecting A-Rob or the youngsters on either side of Taj Smith who'll be A-Rob's targets. What's the RB depth looking like now that Carter is likely out for the season (and his career)? Can Dantley really push Robinson for the starting job and are Legree and Catalina really as solid as they were professed to be? Is Bud Tribbey going to start from day one? Are Doug Hogue and Jermaine Pierce the future of our offense and defense respectively? There is a ton going on with this team and the Post-Standard is not mentioning any of it.

I know these things will be clarified as camp begins and I'm aware that you can't create stories out of thin air, but we want something. Throw us a bone. We want to learn about this team and find a reason to root for the players. Some of us are excited about this season. We give a shit. It would be nice if the paper responsible for covering the team shared that sentiment.

Congrats Go Out To The Professor

Well played, Professor Clayton!

On Saturday, the NFL HOF is inducting a crackhead, a scat back, a couple guards, a tight end, some old balls corner back, the "other guy" from Monday Night Football and a true gem on the NFL reporting scene: The Professor - John Clayton. Clayton will receive the the Dick McCann Memorial Award for distinguished service by the Pro Football Writers of America. Apparently this was announced about a month ago but just came onto my radar this morning when I heard the insufferable Erik Kuselias give the Prof some belated congratulations on the radio this morning. I've always enjoyed the professor's work. He's aharp, quick and usually spot on with his information. I also enjoy that no matter where he's reporting from, he is set against the backdrop of the Space Needle. But what strikes me as most interesting about Clayton's induction is what he overcame to receive it. I mean, there's no way that Clayton's weekly stint in which he screams at the overmatched Sean Salisbury showed up on the "Pluses" side of the Clayton stat sheet. It's impressive that his career achievements were impressive enough that those segments were brushed under the rug. Let's just hope that this clip is also misplaced when the tribute to John is played on Saturday night.

Can We Lay Off Steinbrenner Please

Between Oliver Platt's portrayal of George in "The Bronx is Burning" and some intrepid (seemingly deceitful) reporting, Big Stein is taking some big shots from various media circles recently.

According to the New York Post (via snippets from an upcoming Conde' Nast article) George Steinbrenner is batshit crazy:
Condé Nast Portfolio writer Franz Lidz's new story focuses on possible successors to the Boss, including eldest son Hank.

Lidz recently gained entry to George Steinbrenner's home in Tampa, Fla., by tagging along with McEwen, a wheelchair-bound former Tampa Tribune sports editor.

"A solitary figure emerges out of the shadows, limping towards us," wearing silk pajamas and a terry-cloth robe, Lidz writes.

"Great to see ya, Tommy," Steinbrenner says to McEwen.

Steinbrenner says "Great to see ya," each time McEwen, 84, asks about the Boss' wife, sons and daughters in separate questions.

Lidz writes that "he looks dreadful."

"His body is bloated; his jawline has slackened into a triple chin; his skin looks as if a dry-cleaner bag has been stretched over it . . . His features seem frozen in a permanent rictus of careworn disbelief."
It happens to old people and rarely is the gentle arc of dementia in a 77 year-old man worthy of newsprint. But because of the Steinbrenner's megalomaniacal public persona, it's so hard to fathom George Steinbrenner as your Great Uncle Donny who sits in front of the TV and waits for the Honeymooners to come on that I guess people are intrigued by his decline and want to read about it. I'd prefer not to.

Steinbrenner's a throwback. As passionate as he is loyal, he's one of the last owners in major professional sports whose team has his handprints all over it. He signs the checks and he wants results. He's one of the few (and perhaps the only) owners left in baseball who would shell out every last penny in the coiffers to see his team win. In an era of luxury tax and revenue sharing that effectively penalizes teams for signing too many good players, George Steinbrenner keeps spending. He loves his fans and he love "his" guys. If you become one of his guys, you're in for life. But in a greater baseball context, he is the reason the game is as successful as it is today. His well documented overspending for free agents and flashy names brought the Yankees back into prominence and with it the MLB. Baseball needs the Yankees whether the rest of the country wants to admit it or not. George's overspending caused the Yawkey's to finally sell the Red Sox to a billionaire and his rich buddies when they realized they couldn't keep up. All teams were forced to spend more and with that spending came a need to find new revenue sources from TV contracts, merchandising and growth into foreign markets. With the larger contracts come better athletes and with better athletes comes a better product. To a large degree, Steinbrenner was the impetus for the degree of growth the game is seeing today.

This is not to say that George's means were exactly the most principled the league has ever seen. Here's a a guy who was twice suspended from baseball (once "for life") and once pardoned by the president for his illegal campaign contributions. His obituary won't be all roses and puppy dogs (and though he is being treated as such, George ain't in the grave just yet). It's actually a testament to what he's accomplished that few people remember any of this. He's overcome it to become beloved. The reason, likely, is not just that he brought back unmatched prosperity to the greatest franchise in sports, but his passion and bombast is so genuine that you just can't help but appreciate how much he really gives a shit about what his product does for his fans (and himself). It's this effect on the game and the blustery manner in which he chose to effect it is the way I choose to remember him. And it's a shame that people find it fascinating that this once intimidating figure is now a guy who can't put a sentence together or tie his shoes and that we exploit it by putting it on the front pages. For a guy that has changed the game as much or more than anyone in it's history (not to mention his effect on New York City), I figured he'd get a little space and maybe even a pass from the press as his health fades. That was probably a little naive I know. Just don't be too quick to eulogize George and consider him finished. I have a feeling we haven't heard the last of him (or his mouthpiece Howard Rubenstein) just yet. George has been left for dead before.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

A New Stadium For 'Cuse? Well, They Sure Have Earned It

Oh the Arch, how we miss you so.

My friends and I have often wondered why Syracuse doesn't take advantage of the only real home-field advantages is has: the weather. Imagine being forced to travel up to Syracuse to play a late season game in a driving snow storm in 10 degree weather. The 'Cuse players get to crawl out of their own beds late after practicing in the muck all week while these guys from West Virginia or Southern Florida are running warm-up drills 3 hours before the game to get used to the scene. An outdoor stadium would be huge benefit to the program in terms of wins and losses (maybe less of an advantage in the recruiting wars). This all would have been much more feasible in the mid-nineties when Syracuse was a legitimate football team and people would have been willing to invest some money into the facilities. After a couple of less than stellar seasons, the dreams of a new stadium faded with the hopes of grabbing Mike Paulus and Mike Hart. Well, according to some Syracuse supersleuths, it seems that our prayers may be on the brink of being answered:
AUG. 2, 3:12 P.M. - A private development firm, name unknown, recently contacted Syracuse University with plans for a new football stadium, SU athletic director Daryl Gross confirmed to The Daily Orange in a telephone interview Thursday afternoon.

An anonymous source contacted The D.O. late Wednesday night with initial information.

"Recently a private developer approached the University and expressed interest in conducting a feasibility study related to an idea they had for a new privately-financed athletic stadium," Gross wrote in a statement to The D.O. "Private developers frequently approach the University with ideas and we indicated to this developer that they could conduct a feasibility study at their own cost.

"It is very premature to consider this a University project, as this is simply a concept that has been advanced by a developer. We expect that the developer will discuss the results of their feasibility study with us once it's been completed."
I'm not sure who this anonymous developer is but he's got to know something I don't about this Syracuse program because even if I had the money I'm not sure I'd want to hitch my wagon to this star. That being said, I love it. It's about time they came to their senses with this. Syracuse football should be about disgusting conditions, smashmouth style offense and relentless defense (like the greatest college football team of all-time the '59 Syracuse team). They shouldn't be about the West Coast Offense and finesse blocking assignments and coaches who double as cheerleaders. It's time to return some respect to this program and it starts with freezing some asses off.

Signing Simeon Rice Is The Difference Between The Giants Competing For A Playoff Spot And Finishing 4-12

You can Phuck Filly all you want, but unless you replace Michael Strahan, Philly is going to fuck you up.

Putting aside the fact that the Michael Strahan situation provides great tabloid and talk radio fodder, as a on-field matter, the possibility of losing Strahan is a HUGE deal for the Giants. They sculpted their entire offseason plan around moving Kiwi to linebacker and getting one more good year out of Strahan on the DLine before either allowing Awasom to step in (a bad idea) or grabbing a difference maker in the draft or through free agency. The DLine was supposed to be the one area on defense that, barring injury, the Giants could feel comfortable about. They have two of the top pass rushers in the league if Strahan stays healthy and have some depth because Kiwi could always slide in there for a play or two if necessary. The rest of that defense is borderline terrible. Aaron Ross was a good pick but he's a year or two away from making a difference in a secondary that is DYING for a difference maker. If they had to put a team out there today, the 80 year-old Sam Madison would be the cornerstone of the defensive backfield and the last time he was on the field he got burned twice while pretending to pull a hammy (or maybe that's just how old people run). Their linebacking corp--even with the new-to-the-position Kiwanuka--is easily the worst in the NFC East and arguably all of the NFL. The only reason they were even competitive last year is because they got a ton of pressure off the end with Kiwi, Umenyiora & Strahan. Those guys can take a lot of pressure off the defense and force a ton of bad throws. Without Strahan, Kiwi is back on the D-Line full-time (a position he is not suited for physically), the already weak linebacking corp gets way thin, old and slow, and you have no vocal leader back there. The Giants were not built to lose Strahan this year. They are a 4-5 win team without him (though I don't think they're more than an 8-9 win team with him). Fortunately the winds of fortune have blown their way and Simeon Rice has dropped in their lap.

Say what you will about Simeon Rice, Osi Umenyiora, but when healthy he's still one of the top pass rushers in the NFL. It was only two years ago that he had 14 sacks and he's only 3 years removed from back-to-back pro bowl seasons. He probably only has one or two good years left in him and you'd likely have to rotate him in with Tuck or Joseph in non-pass situations but the alternative is no pass rush from the left side. None. I don't care how big a bitch Osi is going to be about this and how unambiguously gay his comments about how the Giants should not look into replacing Strahan have been, you need a speed rusher on the left side and Simeon Rice can do it. Other than the fact that Rice fills a big need, one thing that Umenyiora is overlooking is the way in which Rice fell to the Giants. He's not your ordinary free agent. He feels betrayed (ironically, so does Strahan except Rice's feelings are justified). He feels like he has something to prove and this is coming from a guy who had an insanely high motor as it was (when he wants to play). You wouldn't be getting Strahan gutting out another season on a gimped foot and creating drama on his 3rd fairwell tour. You'd be getting one of the top DEs of the last decade who is pissed as hell that his team let him go without a handshake or a "thank you for the time." The Giants will be undermanned without a guy flying up the left side of the DLine. They will be a bad team. Simeon Rice wants to play for the Giants and show everyone he can dominate. He is dying to fill this hole and make this team better. Michael Strahan wants more money so that can retire comfortably. Who would you rather have on your team?

The Giants need to look in the mirror and figure out exactly how serious they are about competing this year. They are a deeply flawed team with a gaping hole on the left side of their D-Line playing in a conference where that failing will be exploited CONSTANTLY. There are very few difference makers in this league capable of providing enough pressure to cover up some these flaws. Simeon Rice is one of them. He's available and he's pissed. So what the fuck are you waiting for?

Does Damon Want Out?

I can relate with this guy because when the Sox signed JD Drew, I put on a full Red Sox uniform, taped a newspaper article to my wall, didn't shave and the had a friend take a picture of me pointing at it. Maybe Yankees and Red Sox fans aren't so different afterall.

Newsday is reporting that Johnny Damon isn't exactly psyched about the Kevin Mass-esque emergence of Shelley Duncan and how his role is becoming more limited as a result. Apparently, after learning that he wasn't in the lineup last night (he wasn't told he would be sitting and had to learn of his demotion by viewing the lineup card. Classy.), Damon said:
"As a player, you always want to know what your role is and what's happening..."

"If I'm still out there on the margin, especially with Jason coming back . . . Anything's possible. I know a lot of teams are interested. With Jason coming back and a number of outfielders going down, the Yankees could probably get a better player now than what they probably got offered July 31."
Yikes. I can understand that Damon was angry and was probably just blowing off steam and therefore wasn't all that rational, but who are these teams that are interested in him? He makes $13 million a year and is on the downside of his career. He couldn't stay healthy if his occupation involved him wearing a spacesuit in a rubber room (I have no idea why that seems like the epitome of "safe" to me but it just does). It's always this time of year that someone on the Yanks makes some comment about not being used the right way, but it's weird that this is coming out of Damon. He's been a guy who while brutally honest and a quote a minute type of guy is never one to make a stink about anything. He usually takes the fall for guys rather than take jabs at them. I'm sure this will blow over (he's in the lineup today) and I'm also sure that Damon will be floated on the waiver wire. Will anyone be willing to grab him or make a waiver deal for him? I seriously doubt it. And even if they did, the Yanks would get pennies on the dollar for him. Damon may wish he'd taken the hometown discount with the Sox (and they may wish they kept him and moved Coco to right), but he may as well get comfortable in pinstripes. He's not going anywhere.

The Real Genius Of The Gagne Deal

The Eric Gagne deal has been largely praised as it makes an already strong bullpen stronger and kept Gagne away from Detroit, Cleveland and New York. And while that's all well and good, the real genius of the Gagne deal is not what they'll get out of Gagne the last 3 months of the season, but what they'll get when Gagne signs with the Yankees to replace Mariano Rivera after the season (or signs with some other team).

Because Gagne is projected a Type A Free Agent in the offseason (Determining which ‘Type’ a free agent is based on a statistical system created by the Elias Sports Bureau that uses statistics based on a 2-year average for each of the positions. Salary Arbitration has to be offered to the player by the team before he signs elsewhere if they wish to receive compensation. Type A Players: Ranks in the upper 30% of his respective position group.), the Sox will "get a first rounder and a sandwich pick if the signing club picks in the second half of the draft order, or a sandwich pick and a second rounder if it picks on the first half (which is determined by reverse order of finish in the standings)." The benefit of this is twofold: 1. The Sox will likely sign a Type A Free Agent from another team in the offseason (perhaps A-Rod) and will thus lose their first round pick. Replacing this pick is necessary as they've done very well getting good-to-great value in the first 75 picks (see Bowden, Buchholz, Lester, Masterson, Pedroia, and hopefully Bard & Place); and 2. Of the guys the Sox gave up, only one was a former first round pick (Murphy was picked in the first while Gabbard was a 29th rounder and Beltre was a free agent signee), and he is a 25 year-old minor league veteran who projects as a 4th outfielder in the mold of a David Dellucci or Jason Michaels but with less power and nowhere to go in the Sox system. Now clearly it doesn't matter now where Gabbard was selected in the draft as he has proven himself capable of pitching in the bigs and Engel Beltre's upside is almost unlimited and may end up being the true gem of this deal (though, in the Sox defense, their ability to sign players like Beltre is unencumbered by draft compensation, so it doesn't really factor into what I'm talking about), but in terms of perceived draft value (meaning the value of the players at the time they were drafted), the Sox will get better value in the 2008 draft because of the signing of Eric Gagne than what they gave up to get him. In a strange way, their minor league system may have actually gotten deeper by giving up 3 players. That, sirs, is kind of impressive.

The 40 Year-Old Sturgeon

Ow ow owwww!

The story here is that 40 year-old Dara Torres yesterday won the 100-meter freestyle at the US National Championships. But who really cares about that. The reason for my post is the title I came up with for the story. It's f'n genius. Hip, relevant and apropos. So this post is in essence just a self-congratulatory ball-washing of myself for being witty. And now you are reading it. I love me some me.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Take It EZ Monsignor

According to Monsignor Geoff Baron, heaven does not include a half-pipe, or foreigners.

This is a disturbing little film. While I have a ton of sympathy for the Monsignor in this video because these kids outnumber him about 15 to one and the video is kind of a one-sided view of how this played out (considering his reaction, one can only conclude that this is not the first time he's had to ask skateboarders to leave the premises. And given the level of anger with which he approaches the situation at the outset, I'm also willing to surmise that in the past these skateboarders weren't too keen on leaving when first approached.), he could have handled this better. He didn't really need to slap the one kid and leveling the absurd remarks about foreigners (comments that are labeled "xenophobic" though that word doesn't work in this instance for me. We need to come up with a new one for this type of behavior. It comes up enough.) was a little over the top. At the same time, these kids aren't exactly heeding his directions. In hindsight, he probably should have called the cops rather than saying, "move, you fucking fool," and calling them "fucking cunts" (an insult that, at least to me, seems very un-Christion for some reason). But the real kicker was when he pointed at one of the kids as they were leaving and said, "little foreigner there, look at the sleepy eyes, black hair." Whoa. "Sleepy eyes?" I don't really understand the insult there but it sounds really mean. As for the black hair, I guess in Australia having black hair is some sort of racial indicator that separates the foreigners from the native foreigners who colonized the country 350 years ago. Very odd.

But the real emotion for me in viewing this video is sadness. Not because Monsignor Baron has been temporarily relieved of his duties or because the media is spinning this story as "Out of Control Catholic Dean Harasses Cherubic Skating Boys" when in fact these kids were just as wrong as Baron in this instance, my sadness stems from the fact that had Monsignor Baron only listened to OPM, this whole situation could have been averted:

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Freddy Adu We Hardly Knew Ye, And We Hardly Give A Shit You're Leaving

Freddy Adu was (is?) a Campbell's Soup spokesman? I didn't know he was the mother of an NFL player.

If only ESPN had thought of their hit "What's Now" series 4 years ago, Freddy Adu would have been the Nowiest guy on the planet. He would have been more Now than Karl Malone, Priest Holmes and even more Now than Limp Bizkit! He was 14 years-old and he was going to take Soccer, a sport we all played when we were younger but grew bored of because of how much it sucked (and because all the foreign exchange students would come over for a year and kick our asses in gym class), and make it relevant again. He was going to make the US National team competitive again and he was going to make the MLS millions. Well, it didn't really work out that way.

Freddy's MLS career, while not a complete failure, did not live up to the hype. Even at the height of Freddy's popularity, his presence didn't gain the MLS any viewers because the product they put out was still third rate and you can tell it's third rate because we get the English Premier League games on cable. It doesn't take long to see that American soccer is to Premier League soccer what the WNBA is to any organized sport involving males. I don't know that this fact is necessarily Freddy's doing, he was simply overhyped.

In an era where some sports young guns have exceeded the hype (see Lebron, Sydney and Reggie Bush), Freddy just faded into Bolivian. And with him went the hopes of the MLS. It just seemed that it wasn't time for Freddy's coronation. And now he's gone; off to Portugal for a life of bigger and better things. I'm sure all 7 of the MLS fans are weeping right now but in terms of America's international prospects as a team, this is a good thing. Freddy will be taking on better competition and this can only make him and the US team better (Freddy did serve as the U-20 Team Captain this summer and excelled in that role). It's kind of pathetic that "The Next Big Thing In American Sports" spent 4 years flailing in a league no one watches playing a sport Americans have never given a shit about. So I guess it's fitting that he leaves with little fanfare, headed to a team that no one's ever heard of and it's seen as an upgrade for him.

Good luck to you Freddy. Maybe when you come back you, and we, will be ready for your true reign.

Pac-10 Wants No Part Of BCS +1 Format. Whatever Will We Do?

How will the BCS survive without the Cougs of Wash. State?

I'm a little late to the show with this but I don't really care because it drives me nuts. Apparently Pac-10 commissioner Tom Hansen does not care for the new "Plus One" playoff format that is floating around the college football landscape these days and has earned high marks from other conferences like the SEC & ACC. Hansen, obviously someone with very old balls, wants to go back to the good old days of the Pac 10 playing the Big Ten in the Rose Bowl. He doesn't want any further tweaking to the current system (a system he was strongly opposed to changing to in the first place) and he doesn't want to hear about it from other Commissioners and he DOESN'T NEED ANY HELP GETTING UP THE GODDAMN STAIRS; HE CAN DO IT HIMSELF!
"Our presidents have no interest whatsoever in a plus-one model -- none," Hansen says. "It's a little annoying that my colleagues continue to float this idea as though it has merit. If they continue to push it, and try to push us into a corner ... " Will the Pac-10 walk away from the BCS? "Yes, no question."
Take it EZ old man. It's hard to take that last comment all that seriously. I mean, maybe he hadn't taken his vitamins or maybe this jouralist woke him up from his nap too early. Maybe he soiled himself. We just don't know enough about the whole story to hold Hansen accountable for making the absurd threat of walking away from the BCS if they go to the Plus One format. I've got a question for you, Tommy: Where are you gonna go? If all the BCS conferences agree to the Plus One and you don't, what are you gonna do? Not take part in the BCS bowls? Give away the $10+ million that comes with the BCS Bowl bid? I'm sure a ton of players would LOVE to come to Cal or Oregon State now that they aren't in the BCS picture and thus aren't on TV anymore and are just plain not relevant. That should bode well. USC probably won't leave and join the BIG 14 or whatever. Here's a newsflash Tom, and you might want to put on your good reading glasses or have your nurse read this to you: if the other commissioners agree to the plus one format and the TV contract gets signed without your signature on it, you will be fired because you just passed up on hundreds of millions of dollars. And no amount of tradition and old balls bullshit will be able to obscure that big fat glaring fact. So break out your abacus Tommy because the last time I checked, $100 million over 5 years > Tom Hansen's nostalgia.

Gold Glove For Manny?

Oh you laugh, but if the voters voted for a Gold Glove Left Fielder, Manny would most likely be the man (pun intended).

The Gold Glove is really the dumbest award in Baseball. According the Rawlings Golf Glove website, the award is determined by "those who best know how to evaluate performance. Managers and coaches of each major league team select a squad of superior defensive players in their own league, excluding players from their own team." That makes sense. People like Tony Pena are asked to decide who the best SS is in the AL despite only seeing guys like Yuniesky Betancourt 6 times a year. The award is about flashiness / name recognition and entrenchment. That's why Derek Jeter keeps winning the award despite losing a step a year, why Jason Varitek won it in 2005 despite being one of the worst defensive catchers in the league and why Rafael Palmeiro won it in 1999 after playing 28 games at first base. The award has great cache' even though it is not founded on any objective criteria. What's even more stupid is that despite the fact that the point is to "select a squad of superior defensive players," they don't require a LF, OF and RF. The awards are just given to "Outfielders." Which is why this year the award will likely go to Sizemore, Wells, Ichiro or Hunter. Four guys who play centerfield. It's because of this stupidity and arbitrariness that I nominate Manny Ramirez for the 2007 Gold Glove award.

If you've seen Manny play this year, you've probably noticed (or not noticed) that he's not wound up on as many blooper reels as usual. He hasn't fallen once, he hasn't dived (is that proper english? It sounds so wrong) for a cutoff throw from Coco (a feat that still remains one of the top 5 funniest moments in baseball history and is unfortunately nowhere to be found on the interwebs) and he hasn't urinated anywhere near the playing field. It's been a fairly unremarkable season for Manny. He's been playing WAY shallow in left this year and is catching singles that fall in front of most Fenway newbies. He's gotten burned a couple times over his head but those would most likely have been doubles anyway. You can play shallow in left at Fenway because the worst that's gonna happen is a double. The wall bails you out. In terms of stats, he leads Left Fielders in Fielding Percentage and Assists. Plus, due to Fenway's Wall, no one can create a reasonable metric to cover other fielding stats like range factor and UZR. Those stats are thrown right out. If that stuff mattered and the Gold Glove outfield consisted of LF, OF & RF, Manny would probably win the award in left field. His competition is the able but new to the position Carl Crawfod, mediocrity like Ibanez, Monroe, Stewart and Payton, and the nightmarish range of Hideki Matsui (as well as part-timers Reggie Willits, Adam Lind and Emil Brown). This year he is playing light years ahead of those guys. If this award made sense, Manny would win it.

Three years ago if you'd said Manny Ramirez and Gold Glove in the same sentence you'd probably also find the word "never" in there somewhere. This year, I say that if Manny doesn't win the award, it's a crock of shit. Not that it isn't already.


Will WiMP be packing his things by 4pm this afternoon? I f'n hope not.

WiMP for Jermaine Dye? Ok Front Office, let's just step back and relax here. No need to panic. This is a bad trade. Walk away.

WiMP has received some gentle ribbing in this space from time to time but through it all I never lost the love for him. He's just one of those big lovable lugs who after striking out 4 times in a game you just look at and say, "Oh Wily, you big goof" (or something to that effect). After Manny and Pedroia, WiMP's probably my third favorite player on the team (though Ellsbury will overtake him when he makes the leap full-time). He's a freak. He's built like a defensive end, plays the outfield with a reckless abandon and has "light tower" power. Plus, he's got a pleasant on-field countenance in a Manny Ramirez meets Frankie Goes To Hollywood (of "Relax (Don't Do It)" fame) kind of way. He's hard not to like and pull for no matter how frustrating it is to watch him strike out almost 40% of the time. But since likability is not a "measurable" in the Bill Jamesian era value system, we'll need to pull out more info to combat the idea that Jermaine Dye is an improvement over Pena. Surpisingly, it's not that hard to do.

Ignoring this year, Dye's recent history suggests he is an elite corner outfielder. Last year in particular was Dye's "break out" year. 44 home runs, .315 average, 120 RBi and a slugging percentage of an absurd .622. That's one of the better non-A-Rod or Bonds seasons in the last 5 or so years. If you can get THAT kind of production for WiMP and Delcarmen, well then this trade doesn't just make sense, it makes the Red Sox the World Series favorites (not that they aren't already) as they'd have two guys named Manny Ramirez in their lineup (imagine a lineup that goes Manny, Ortiz, Manny... my zipper is sticky). The Sox would be working under the impression that Dye is underperforming and will reach a perceived "Jermaine Dye average" by year's end. But here's the problem: Jermaine Dye 2007 isn't an aberration in a Mike Lowell 2005 kinda way. 2007 Jermaine Dye is simply how Jermaine Dye normally plays. And given the same kinda opportunity, WiMP would outperform him.

Dye's career batting average is .274. His career OBP is .337, which is not horrible but is pretty awful. But what's even more striking is that his career slugging percentage is .484 and his career OPS is barely over .800. Kevin Millar has a higher OPS this year than Jermaine Dye's career average and he has 10 home runs (Dye's OPS this year ranks him at 103 overall). In his big 2006 his batting average was almost 50 points above his career average. His home run total was DOUBLE his career average and a full third higher than his previous best year. His OBP was 50 points higher and his slugging percentage was almost 150 points higher! He had his Brady Anderson / Adrian Beltre year last year (with none of the steroid rumors, I think). In this perceived "down year," Dye is only 35 points off his career average, is nearing his career average for home runs and is slightly below his normal OPS pace (though he's well below his normal OBP pace). He's having a bad year, yes. But the decrease in this year's performance PALES in comparison to how out of whack his 2006 stats were compared to his career average. Basically, 2007 Jermaine is much closer to Jermaine Dye than 2006 Jermaine Dye. Not to mention that he's 33 year and on the downside of an average career. But the argument is not whether or not Jermaine Dye is more 2006 than he is 2007. The argument is instead will Dye be a greater help to the 2007 Boston Red Sox than Wily Mo Pena (and his rights through 2008)? The answer is no, sort of.

It would be hard to argue that WiMP has lived up to the "hype." Signed to what was at the time the biggest non-drafted deal in league history at 17 years old by the the Yanks (after previously "signing" with the Mets), WiMP made his Major League debut at age 20 for the Reds. His batting cage prowess was legendary. He and Adam Dunn were seen as the future 1-2 combo in Cincy, until fans soon learned that neither could lay off the offspeed stuff and could potentially combine for over 400K's per year. And though WiMP still strikes out a ton (a "ton" is an understatement), his plate discipline has improved. He averages a walk every 12 ABs where he was at around 1 per 16 ABs three years ago. But to compare him to Dye you've got to get what he gives you over the course of a year compared to Dye and the value you get moving forward compared to that of Dye's.

WiMP's batting average in years that he has had 250 or more ABs is .269 compared to Dye's .271 average if you take out 2006. Last year WiMP hit .301. And while I'm quick to discount Dye's 2006, WiMP's 2007 gives you a little better glimpse of what he's capable of producing. For one, he was 24 years old last year and it's widely acknowledged that players don't peak until 27-28 while there is a precipitous drop in performance after 33. WiMP also hits around 18 home runs per year in almost half the at bats it takes Dye to hit those home runs. WiMP's OBP is about 20 points lower than Dye's career average and his slugging percentage is virtually the same as Dye's. But here's the real kicker (and the basis for my gripe with this trade). If you're projecting Dye and Wimp the rest of the way with the same amount of ABs, they'd give you about the exact same thing.

If you gave Wily Mo 200 ABs the rest of the way (assuming the Sox are really THAT frustrated with Drew), his prior history suggests he'd hit between 12-15 home runs, bat around .260-.270ish, get on base at around a .320 clip and strikeout 60 more times (that is amazing). If Dye put up those numbers over the close of the season after a trade, he would finish with 35 home runs and the trade would be viewed as a marked success. The papers would compare it to the Nomar / O-Cab deal of 2004. And then he would be 34 and he would hit free agency. If you keep WiMP, you get all of that production (with a few more K's) AND you have his rights in the offseason and could sign him long-term, deal him or see him through arbitration. And this doesn't even factor in the idea that the Sox are willing to part with one of their low 20's 96mph throwing relievers in Delcarmen or Masterson. It also doesn't factor in the FACT that the biggest hole in the Sox organization is a corner outfielder with power. Jermaine Dye is WiMP without the K's.

So here's my final assessment of this deal: when you make a deadline deal for the current season in which you rent a player, you either plug a hole or gain depth. In doing so you need to make sure you're dealing away a player that is not potentially a superstar or at least that you have enough depth in your organization where you can afford to lose that player. You also need to be fairly sure that if the player you are trading is on your roster that they guy replacing him has the ability to outperform him. In this situation, Jermaine Dye and Wily Mo Pena project to play out there last 200 ABs of the season in a similar fashion. If that's the case, why are you getting rid of the 25 year-old freak and grabbing the 33 year-old Brady Anderson? I know the Sox are always itching to pull a deal and the media and fanbase is nuts, but this time Theo and the Sox need to take deep breath and a queue from Wily Mo and Frank Goes To Hollywood:

Smittblog Shout Out On The Blog Show

The Smittblog gets a shout at around the 1:50 mark. At first Mottram incorrectly states that I'm selling the "Neuter Vick" shirts but goes on to correct himself. So thanks to Jamie Mottram of AOL's The Fanhouse and Dan Steinberg of The Washington Post's DC Sports Blog for the mention.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Primetime vs. PacMan - Only On TNA Wrestling!*

What do you do when you get banned from the NFL for a year? You join a fledgling wrestling operation of course.

Predictably, PacMan is joining the "Total Non-Stop Action" (or "TNA." I give them a ton of credit for making that acronym work.) Wrestling League, according to a Nashville tv station. The release also states that while PacMan will technically be a part of the league, he will not wrestle and will not be a villain (which seems both redundant and oxymoronic, though I don't claim to really understand the inner workings and dramatic stylings of the TNA). Assuming that PacMan will eventually enter the ring (or at least play a sufficient role in the league to earn a moniker of some sort), the real question about PacMan is: What will his Wrestling handle be? Sadly, because he is late to the game, several prime names have already been taken, including Primetime (no, not that one), Dustin Rhodes (yes, that one), Scott Steiner (yes, that one), Tomko (no, not Brett Tomko), Brothers Devon, Ray & Runt (not actual brothers) and Shark Boy. With that in mind, here are a few suggestions for the PacMan's new character in the TNA wrestling league:

The Rain Man
In this role PacMan would summon his inner Dustin Hoffman and stumble around the ring and through interviews while feigning a autistic persona. But unlike Ray Babbitt, PacMan's splinter skills will not be remembering dates or counting toothpicks, it will be finishing moves. The Rain Man will be able to remember and execute every finishing move and/or catch phrase of his opponents. He will make comedic reference to his opponent's move and finish off his opponent in a highly ironic and humiliating way as his opponent has to fend off an opponent who is in essence himself.

PacMan & Ms. PacMan
This one would be easy for the PacMan. He would be playing the role of himself as PacMan Jones, disgraced NFL star, but he would also be donning a Norbit-style fatsuit as his alter-ego Ms. PacMan. Much like the early seasons of the Fox breakthrough comedy "Martin" where Martin Lawrence faced hilarious encounters with his over the top neighbor Sheneneh Jenkins, PacMan would be faced with similar encounters with a character called "Ms. PacMan" played by PacMan in a fatsuit. Ms. PacMan would end up not only becoming PacMan's comedic foil but will also become his nemesis in the ring and the feud will cause severe embarrassment to PacMan throughout his stint with TNA.

Samoa Joe
Oops, can't do it. Already taken.

Mr. Blacklund
This would be a play on wrestling "legend" and TNA Superstar Mr. Backlund. According to Mr. Backlund's bio (linked in previous sentence), "Mr. Backlund believes in high moral standards, healthy living and being a good American citizen. In 2000, representing the State of Connecticut, Backlund ran for Congress, standing for family values and supporting education." The bio continues, "Today, Mr. Backlund can be seen on Total Nonstop Action Wrestling as he attempts to teach the uneducated youth and the “plebians” about proper values and morals in today’s society." PacMan would serve as the "Ying" to Mr. Backlund's "Yang," teaching players bad values like how to beat strippers, shoot bouncers and pretty much act like complete derelicts. This would probably be the best role for PacMan in my view.

There are countless other possibilities (clearly), but I don't think this is necessarily a bad move for PacMan. Anything that allows him to act like a complete asshole and profit from it seems right up his alley. Plus, who wouldn't love watching Spike TV, hearing "I make it rain" come over the loudspeakers and here the announcer scream "Oh my God! That's Mr. Blacklund's music!" as the PacMan sauntered out onto the stage, toothpick in mouth in some type of pimp suit, raining fake $100's onto the crowd. The PacMan may have finally found his calling.

*As noted above, TNA's "Primetime" is not actually Deion Sanders. Which is a shame on a lot of levels.