Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Why the Slow Market?

With the holidays upon us the major league off-season has hit the usual "pause" button on transactions and moves. But it's not like there were a flurry of moves taking place before the holidays. The biggest free agent move came out of no where when the Phillies picked up Carlos Santana for 3 years at 20 million per season. An unexpected move because the Phillies were thought to have found their first baseman of the future in Rhys Hoskins who hit 18 home runs in 50 games and an impressive streak where it only took him 19 games to get to 10 home runs, but now with the acquisition of Santana Hoskins is going to be forced to play left field where he was less than impressive. The Phillies have been rebuilding since their fall in 2014, when their roster got older by the pitch, which makes the addition of Santana even more perplexing. There are over 50 free agents still out on the market and most of them were thought to be on their way to getting lucrative deals from various teams looking to improve.

One thing that is keeping the market from moving are teams looking toward to the future and trying to get under the luxury tax threshold (there's a lot of math when it comes to the luxury tax so I'll leave that to the folks with a calculator) and making a real push for next year's crop of free agents who have huge names like Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Clayton Kershaw (who has an opt out clause in his contract), Josh Donaldson, Charlie Blackmon, among others. So making sure that teams are under a certain number so that they can wheel and deal with the big names next year is the plan for the several teams. That's why the LA Dodgers and Atlanta Braves traded Mark Kemp for a flurry of bad contracts so both teams can be in position to make moves next year. Being a free agent after this past season has been lack luster so far since teams are scheming for next off-season. Which makes you wonder if and when the big dominoes are going to fall.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

The Evil Empire is at it Again

Can you imagine a lineup consisting of Stanton, Judge, Gregorius, Sanchez, Bird, AND Machado? Sure, Sanchez, Judge, and Stanton have a history of injuries and sure all three can rack up strikeouts, but if and when all of these highly talented players are on a streak watch out. There are going to be a lot of baseballs flying over the wall and they are going to go very very far away. And to think if the Yankees are able to trade for a young controllable starter like Gerrit Cole from the Pittsburgh Pirates they would be even more difficult to beat. A rotation of Severino, Sabathia, Tanaka, Gray is already formidable and if you toss in Cole who came in fourth in the National League Cy Young voting in 2015 that would make the Yankees even more hated than they already are. Sure, the Yankees were able to somehow find a way to be lovable during last season's playoff run, but they will be hated by as many people as those who love them. Watch out pitchers. Getting through the Judge, Stanton, and Sanchez gauntlet will probably be the toughest thing they're going to have to face all season. Just watch out if the Yankees continue to add, and all signs point to them doing exactly that.

The Yankees have gone through one of the most unconventional "rebuilds" compared to teams as of late because along with bringing in new talent and avoiding the long expensive contracts that they are used to doling out. The Yankees were also able to stay competitive while building up a top 10 farm system and all the credit should go to Brian Cashman and Joe Girardi who had kept them relevant and now they're ready to take the baseball world by storm, again. The truly most outrageous moves done by the Yankees during this "rebuild" was probably letting Robinson Cano sign with the Mariners and getting outbid by the Pirates for catcher Francisco Cerveli and that's about it. While other teams tend to tear things all the way down to actually rebuild it back up the Yankees were able to flip things around while staying competitive. Staying in this lane, where the Yankees weren't the highest bidders, couldn't be easy considering the reputation that the Yankees have in the game as big spenders.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

The Mess in Miami

Oh how quick things can turn. The Miami Marlins finally got out from under the tumultuous Loria regime, something that should bring nothing but joy to the fans in Miami, but the more things change the more they stay the same for Marlins fans. The new head of baseball in Miami is this guy named Derek Jeter (maybe you've heard of him) and he's only brought the same kind of bad news that Loria had going throughout his ownership. Jeter is planning to trim payroll down to about 90 million and start a rebuilding process like that of the Astros and Cubs. While Jeter has dug a hole by firing some of the popular faces of the franchise like Jack McKeon, Andre Dawson, Tony Perez, and Mr. Marlin himself Jeff Conine. Jeter has quickly found himself on the wrong side of fans in Miami almost as fast as he was gifted the team. Jeter was recently booed while he was in attendance at a Miami Heats game and put on the jumbo-tron.

The latest public relations fiasco that has fallen "Mr. November" involves the recently crowned MVP Giancarlo Stanton. Before Jeter took the helm of the Marlins Loria signed Stanton to a huge deal, 10 years 325 million dollar to be exact, but the problem for Jeter is that Stanton's deal is heavily backloaded with 218 million being owed during the last 7 years of the contract and Loria granted Stanton a no trade clause. The no trade clause has become the biggest thorn in Jeter's side since he can't just send Stanton to whichever team has the best offer. Stanton does have an opt out clause in his contract that allows him to become a free agent in the year 2020. That's also the year that Mike Trout becomes a free agent (more on that for a later post). Jeter's rebuild has no place for the heavy anchor that is Stanton's contract and it has come to light that at some point an ultimatum was laid out to Stanton to either accept a deal or be left on a team where he's the only player of value. The question I have is what's the point of the ultimatum if either which way the Marlins are going to be a bunch of rookies learning things the hard way while their owner gets booed even when he's not at work.

Monday, December 4, 2017

I Get Ejected, You Get Ejected, Everyone Gets an Ejection

A few days ago LeBron James got his first ejection in 1082 games. A few days after that Anthony Davis caught two technical fouls and got ejected for the first time himself. The next day Kevin Durant got ejected and last night Golden Sate Warrior Shaun Livingston was ejected going forehead to forehead with a ref Livingston most likely will be fined as will Durant, Davis, and James, most likely. That's the price to pay when players go up against authority. Referees are meant to keep order. Meant to keep players in line so that another incident like the Malice in the Palace don't happen again. The question I have is whether officials are taking their responsibilities too literally or are they being too sensitive and not letting player's voice their displeasure.

Draymond Green of the Golden State Warriors is known for his outbursts of displeasure toward officials when he doesn't get a call against him or when he gets called for a foul that he doesn't believe is justified, but no ref has ever tossed him from a game, yet. As a fan of basketball I'm interested in watching stars of teams in games. I would pay to watch Green, James, Durant, Davis, and Livingston play. I don't want to be cheated by an overzealous referee who can't take a player's sign of frustration as an act of war and toss the player that I paid to watch. Should players have free reign to do as they please? No, but referees shouldn't have hair triggers and ejecting anyone who vehemently disagrees with their calls or lack there of.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

I May Sound Old But..

In today's sports landscape there are two types of managers, the old school "use my intuition/go by the book" manager and the new school "go by the numbers" type of manager. The Houston Astros just won the World Series in an unconventional way, they relied on piggy backing starters. Which means that instead of having a traditional reliever come in and work an inning or two the Astros used another starter who can go longer than your traditional reliever. The Kansas City Royals on the other hand relied on their relief corp to help carry them to a World title in 2015. Neither team is an old school type. To really find an old school type of team to have won a title was maybe the Red Sox who relied on timely power hitting and a strong starting staff to win them a title in 2013. Baseball is an ever evolving sport and with the introduction of advanced analytics it is growing and growing fast. Ways to win championships have evolved from the time tested "pitching and defense" method that I've been hearing about since I first put on my first catcher's mask.

Gone are the days of Bobby Cox, Joe Torre, Tony LaRussa, Jim Leyland, and Jack McKeon. These are legendary managers who lead their teams to the promise land using old school tactics that in today's game is getting harder and harder to quantify. These guys have been replaced by the AJ Hinch (manager of the Astros), Dave Roberts (manager of the Dodgers), Mike Matheny (manager of the Cardinals), and others who now have to run their lineups by the front office suit wearing types to make sure that the analytics of the hitters they're using line up in favor against the particular pitcher the team is facing that night. There's no way in hell that Jim Leyland would allow a pencil pusher tell him where to bat Miguel Cabrera against a tough rightie or whether it was time to pull a starting pitcher. The game has evolved to the point where pitchers aren't seeing a lineup for a third time and a leftie hitter is most likely not going to face a tough lefty even though the hitter has a hitting streak going. There are too many chefs in the kitchen nowadays with too many ingredients trying to cook up a plate that for a very long time relied on one guy throwing a ball at another guy who's trying to hit the ball to the moon.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

What a Series

The current World Series may not be between the teams most people wanted (most folks would've preferred a Yankees VS Dodgers match-up) but it has turned out to be a spectacular showdown between two very good teams that have both veterans and youth impacting the games. The thing about the World Series is that it brings players to light that casual fans would never be introduced to. Like Astros third baseman Alex Bregman who has made his mark on these playoffs by homering off of Clayton Kershaw, Chris Sale, and Kenley Jansen all of which are either the best at what they do or at the top of the list of players at their positions and has made spectacular plays defensively at third base. Not only did he hit home runs off of these pitchers they were crucial home runs to support the run the Astros have ridden this far. Before his break out in the classic game 5 Dodgers first baseman Cody Bellinger was in an a horrible slump, but he is a rising star. In the regular season he hit 39 home runs and had 97 runs batted in. Between Bellinger, Corey Seager, and Justin Turner the Dodgers are set with a core of players that are ready to carry this team to multiple runs at titles.

The Yankees and Nationals have young studs of their own, but what has unfolded between the Astros and Dodgers in this series has been nothing short of amazing. No doubt this series is headed to a game 7. No doubt will it be a good game because there are talented players all over the field, but also because baseball needs it to be a good game. With baseball being as young as it is and the loud complaints about how the sport is slow and boring this World Series is showing how much fun baseball can be. These two teams and all the young talent on these teams are going to be around for a long time. Altuve, Correa, Springer, Bellinger, Seager, Turner, and Taylor these are just a few names that are going to be on SportCenter or on back pages of the newspaper for the next 10 or so years and believe me there are going to be more names popping up and soon.

Monday, October 16, 2017

NBA Tip Off Around the Corner

Here we go again. On the 17th of October the drama that is the NBA season tips off with the Cleveland Cavaliers go up against the Boston Celtics in a match up between LeBron James and recent Cleveland defector Kyrie Irving. Kyrie Irving got his wish and is now the main option on his own potential title contender in Boston, teaming up with recent free agent signee Gordon Hayward, and whatever parts are left over from the trade that sent Isaiah Thomas to Cleveland. The East once again looks like the weaker conference with about 3 maybe 4 teams that can be taken into serious consideration and the Celtics and Cavaliers seem to be the front running squads destined to come out to face the Warriors in the Finals.

The West has had a whirlwind of activity this off season. From Chris Paul being shipped to the Rockets to Paul George and Carmelo Anthony being sent to the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Western Conference has made many moves in the attempt to overcome the powerhouse that is the Golden State Warriors. Moving powerful names like Paul, George, and Anthony to new squads trying to offset the modern day empire that is Curry, Durant, Thompson, and Green, but the Warriors found a way to keep their empire together. Signing Curry to the huge deal he earned and keeping Durant in the fold with a short, but reasonable deal, that keeps their champion core together. I don't see a team as balanced as Golden State out there. If injuries don't sideline any of their core the Warriors should once again ride off into the sunset with another title.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Jeter the Owner?

The Miami Marlins are going to be free from the ineptitude of their owner Jeffrey Loria. Derek Jeter is heading an ownership group that is going to pay 1.2 billion dollars to take over the Marlins. A need that should have the people in Miami celebrating. My question is what kind of owner is Jeter going to be? He's never been the head of an organization, he's been the face of a franchise, but not the head of a franchise and there is a difference. Jeter won 5 titles while playing 20+ years in the majors, all with the Yankees, but would that translate to success as an owner? There is so much to worry about as an owner compared to being just a player. The player worries about the present day and the current season while the owner has to worry about not only the current season, but also next season. The depth of the organization, the organization's stance with the community, and the financials of the organization all of this and more has to be in the owner's purview.

Just because Jeter was there to watch how George Steinbrenner ran the Yankees for so many years doesn't mean that he's going to be a good owner. Remember Steinbrenner was suspended for a while as owner because he fell out of favor with the league. Also, Steinbrenner was, and to this day his estate, is filthy rich so he was able to bully his way in free agency by throwing money around. Who knows who the money for this organization is going to be and how much are they willing to invest in the Marlins to make them as successful as Jeter is used to being in the realm of baseball. For now the city of Miami (once the sale of the team is approved by the league) gets to celebrate that they're going to be out from under the Loria regime which in its own is a win.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

When Will the NFL Start to Worry?

It started a few years ago at the height of the NFC West's shining time. The San Francisco 49ers were a threat with a tough as nails defense and an offense that while it was lagging behind the dominance of the defense covered for the majority of the deficiencies on the offensive side of the ball. The Seattle Seahawks and the Arizona Cardinals have been able to avoid the pitfall that the 9ers fell into when they lost vital players at all three levels of their defense including 3 linebackers who were the backbone of the defense. They all stepped away from the game behind the veil of the concussion and the overall damage they were taking from playing football. The players are to blame for looking out for their future, but the NFL has to take notice that a lot of players are taking the early exit. Players are retiring in their late 20's/early 30's.

As the concern over CTE and brain damage has come to the forefront of the league players are taking notice. More and more players are taking their money and moving on to other endeavors where they can be financially secure while also keeping their brains intact. The problem is the NFL is kinda stuck. How is the NFL supposed to accommodate players or ex-players in regards to this damage? How far back is the NFL supposed to go to treat players? How much would all this cost? Because no matter how much money the NFL makes there still has to be a limit as to how much they can spend on players who no longer benefit the league. Players did sign up for this, but how much of it is the league responsible for? And will this be the downfall of the America's past time?

Thursday, July 20, 2017

We're Talking About Summer League?

The Los Angeles Lakers won this off-season's Summer League. Congrats to them, but to steal a sentiment from Allen Iverson: what are we talking about? We're talking about Summer League. Not a real a game, barely even a practice. We're talking about Summer League. Most of the players that are playing in this league are rookies, who have been recently drafted, or players trying to hold on to a miracle of making a G-League (formerly the D-League) team. Lonzo Ball won the MVP of the league even though he played about 4 games. Lonzo stole the headlines of the league with his triple doubles and his sneaker choice, but at times he looked unathletic and slow, he did make crisp passes and looked pretty good overall.

Maybe it's because the sports landscape kind of dries up during the summer when the sexy sports like the NBA and NFL are not in season and college sports are still a few weeks away that these minor league games take such prominence. The Summer League has never been taken seriously, but here are media gasbags making a mountain out of what has always been a molehill. Good for Ball for looking good. Good for the Lakers to have won a championship, something they won't see in the true Association for at least five years when they hopefully win the LeBron lotto and pair him with a more seasoned Ball and the core of young players the Lakers have. Now that the Summer League is over it's time to turn the public's eye to the NFL teams and who they were about to tag instead of signing long term deals.

Monday, July 17, 2017

The Deadline Draws Near

With the second Wild Card still a thing; and MLB still hasn't listened to me about moving the deadline back so that teams on the fence can figure out the right time to make the necessary decisions to either buy or trade teams have started to make some moves. The Cubs traded a huge haul to the White Sox for their ace Jose Quintana even with his 4+ era and the Nationals traded away 3 pitchers to the Athletics for relief help that they needed so desperately. From now til August 31st teams will either push all their chips to the center of the table (the Cubs) so they can continue their push for another World Series or try to accumulate as many pieces for a brighter future (the White Sox). More teams are on the hording pieces side of the equation where several teams can open up their roster and make anyone available in the hopes of becoming the next Cubs or Astros who have a young controllable team.

The Red Sox have a very strong team, but their deficiencies at third base is glaring. The trade of Travis Shaw is not looking good for the Sox who are looking to trade for a third baseman after the failed experiment of Pablo Sandoval who the Sox signed for a huge amount of money (5 years 95 million dollars) while Shaw has been thriving for the Milwaukee Brewers. Rumor has it Todd Frazier is on the Sox's radar and he seems to fit somewhat the needs of the Sox so that could be a chip that falls soon. Some would say the deadline sits in the lap of the White Sox who have several players who they can trade away beginning with Frazier, but also their closer David Robinson might be moved too, along with them is Melky Cabrera who is having a solid year for the White Sox who could be a pretty good 4th outfielder for a contender, he can be had too. So be prepared for the flurry of moves that will envelope the next few weeks.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

How Unbalanced is the NBA?

With the way the NBA is going the Eastern Conference is going to end up with only 4 teams that are competitive and only a handful of stars which will make the All Star game uninteresting. With the likes of Jimmy Butler and Paul George now with the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Oklahoma City Thunder, respectively, the Eastern Conference has lost two top 10 players and has taken a main piece from two teams in the East that were on the fringe of being competitive and also has effectively taken both the Chicago Bulls and Indiana Pacers out of the picture for playoff contention. Sure, neither the Bulls or Pacers have made any serious noise even when they have made the playoffs, but at least the Bulls pushed the Celtics, until Rondo's injury. The Pacers were looked at maybe a team that could compete if only they had another piece or two or three.

Now it's looking like it's LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love, and that's pretty much it for the East. The Wizards have John Wall, but Wall hasn't exactly been a top 5 star. The Celtics have Isaiah Thomas and he has star potential, but his defensive inefficiencies will be the biggest knock against him even though he has twice the heart of most players in the association. Wall and Thomas are good players on contenders (even though any team in the East can be considered a contender) but there is a real lack of star power in the East and the commissioner should be concerned, but there is little he can do to adjust where free agents sign. Even though Gordon Hayward is now going from Utah to Boston the power scale will still be severely tilted in favor of the West. If you thought last season was boring brace yourself for an even more boring regular season and playoffs for that matter.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Why he won't Get Fired..

A lot of Met fans have issues with the manager of their team, Terry Collins. He tends to overwork some relievers and sometimes doesn't know when is the right time to remove a starting pitcher and generally seems like he doesn't exactly know what he's doing at times. This is frustrating for fans of a team who were expecting to be competitive in the National League. Hell some might've chosen the Mets to represent the NL in the World Series especially after they brought back their slugger Yoenis Cespedes and with Jay Bruce having 19 home runs before the All Star break runs are still hard to come by for the Mets because they rely so much on the home run that their offense remains inefficient.

And even with the talent the Mets have on their roster or on the disabled list in my opinion their season is flushed down the toilet and yes I know it's still only June. Here is why their manager won't be fired. The team has been riddled with injuries. From their ace down to their second baseman, most of the players the Mets would rely on to reach said World Series have spent time on the disabled list. This is the perfect shield for Collins. He will hide behind the injuries and will stay employed as the Mets manager for the rest of this season even though he's been frustrating to watch. I wouldn't be surprised if Collins came back next year and the mistakes he makes with this roster will continue to frustrate the fans and jeopardize the Mets' chance at getting that World Series the fans want so much.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Moving Pieces

This is going to be an interesting offseason in the NBA.  If your favoie team isn't ready to compete on a level with the Warriors out West or the Cavs in the East you're favorite team will either be feasted on by powerful teams or you destined to be mediocre. The rumor mill in the NBA is only getting started. Once the draft is over the rumors are really going to get going. The three biggest storylines going so far are where is Indiana going to trade Paul George to, where is Blake Griffin going to sign, and where is Gordon Heyward going to sign. The Cavs are looking to get better and there are already rumors of them talking to multiple teams to trade for Bulls star Jimmy Butler and also had the Pacers reach out to them for a potential George move.

Teams are trying to follow the foot steps of the Warriors and are adding firepower in the hopes of getting to where the champs are. Teams like the Bulls who aren't either good enough to beat the Cavs or bad enough to get a top 10 pick in the lottery are in murky standing. So now the Bulls are getting pecked at by teams like the Cavs and while holding a player like Butler there will always be a potential "super" team laying in the grass. Toronto is under the same umbrella with rumors flying that their star player Kyle Lowry may be reluctant to resign even with his outright denial on twitter; things are always shady during these times in the NBA offseason.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Where's the Parity?

The Cavs are playing the Warriors in the NBA Finals for the third straight time and I've heard gas bags on TV saying that whichever team is to win the Finals they're officially up there as one of the greatest teams of all time. Both the teams playing in these Finals are good, but they both have vulnerabilities. The Cavs play the worse defense from a team that I've seen in the Finals in a long time and the Warriors brought in another all star and have become an unstoppable machine to get here. As much as the Celtics and Lakers had teams that were stacked with all stars, the parity in the league was so much better than what the NBA has at this point. The weakness in the East along with the monster squad coming out of the Golden State there is a good chance these two teams will face each other a few more times in the Finals.

To build a contender in these times in the Association requires at least three all stars. The Boston Celtics started this by bringing in Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen into the fold and along side Paul Pierce they were able to drag themselves to one title. LeBron James then took the same angel and took his talents to South Beach and alongside his buddies Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade they promised not 1, not 2, not 3... and so on and so forth and even though they only brought 2 titles to southbeach they let Kevin Durant know that to fortify his legacy he would need a ring or 2 so he took his talent to an already built juggernaut and have become the knife that is going to through the rest of the league as if they're butter. Now the attention turns to any and all all star who is close to becoming a free agent to jump ship to another team with a friend and build a "Big 3" or in Golden State's case "Big 4". Chris Paul and Paul George will be on the clock once the Finals are over.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Finally Something Exciting Happens

These NBA playoffs have been boring. Blow out after blow out. Bad team after bad team. The Cavaliers had a 20 plus point lead when LeBron James finally showed he's capable of being human and actually have a bad game. The 11 points he scored against the Celtics in game 3 lead the Cavaliers to the snapping of their perfect record in these playoffs. Now only one team stands undefeated in the playoffs and that's the Golden State Warriors, who unlike the Cavaliers, have many more options on offense than the Cavaliers do. Kevin Love actually showed a pulse in this game and yet they still lost. Kyrie Irving where has he been? politely waiting for James to carry him to another title? I'm not trying to take anything away from Irving. He's a talented young player with the potential to carry a team, but 29 points 2 rebounds and 7 assists in 40 minutes in a game where LeBron didn't have it isn't going isn't going to cut it.

The Cavaliers are going to make the NBA Finals. They're going to go up against the Warriors, but without a competent Irving and Love the chase for back to back titles is going to be futile for LeBron and the Land. The Cavs are better than the Celtics, and better than the Wizards, and better than any other team out of the East, but the Warriors are really good and their role players would be able to compete against some of the lower level teams out of the East. Without Irving the Cavs don't stand a chance. LeBron deserves blame for losing game 3, but let's not forget Irving's 29 and Love's 28 points (6 of which came in the second half) won't cut it especially when the Warriors look as good as they do. It took a lucky bounce from a kid named Smart to finally bring some excitement to these proceedings.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Oh, The Clippers

The Clippers have gone from a joke during the regular season to a joke in the post season. The Los Angeles Clippers just haven't been able to break through. Before the Clippers became contenders they were a lack luster group of players who played through the 82 game season and was habitually in the lottery. Until recently, when the Clippers were able to hire Coach Doc Rivers away from Boston and then draft talented players like Blake Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan while also getting Chris Paul from New Orleans in a shady deal that initially was supposed to send him to the Los Angeles Lakers, but then commissioner David Stern shut the trade down to the Lakers deciding that it would make the league unbalanced (which is funny considering the state of the league right now).

So now with a core of  Paul, Griffin, Jordan, three potential hall of famers, while being lead by a hall of fame coach, and an ever growing supporting cast, the Clippers were finally able to put together a wining season and a march to the playoffs. That first run resulted in a series win over the Grizzlies, but then a sweep at the hands of the San Antonio Spurs. In the 6 years the Clippers have in contention they haven't made it passed the Conference Semi Finals and crashing and burning in the playoffs. The Clippers would have leads on their opponents and somehow would cough it up. Injuries and bad luck have taken their toll especially on Griffin who always seems to get hurt at the wrong time. Now the Clip show, Lob City, or whatever clever nicknames they have are out of the playoffs, again, and now have to decide what they're going to do with Griffin who can be a free agent and JJ Reddick who also is supposed to be a free agent. Doc has a lot to work to do or he may be done.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Death of the Big Man

Oh how the NBA has evolved. No longer is the center centric roster format the popular way to go. Before, most teams were trying to find the next Shaq, now most teams are trying to find the next Stephen Curry. Guard heavy roster construction has become the norm. In fact most teams don't care how tall a player may be as long as he can make a 3 point shot. Along with the statistical overload that has started taking over sports in the last 3 to 4 years the emphasis of the 3 point shot has gotten the biggest boost, because why score 2 points when you can get 3 in the same possession? That train of thought is very much valid, but it has made the likes of Dwight Howard and DeAndre Jordan almost obsolete. Sure Howard and Jordan can still be relied upon to defend the paint, but in previous versions of the NBA they would not only be the defensive horse, but they'd also be one of the main offensive options. Sure, there's Rudy Gobert in Utah who is still considered one of their main offensive threats, but off the top of my head I think that's the last big man who plays a vital role in the team's offensive thinking.

Think of the Gasol brothers. Marc was a Shaq-like player who played in the paint and along with Zach Randolph made the Grizzlies look intimidating in the paint. Now, he still plays in the paint on defense, but on offense he prefers to take mid-range jump shots and floats to the 3 point line from time to time. Pao has always been more versatile than his brother, taking advantage of what the defense would give him whether it be a mid-range jump shot or a lay up or even the 3 pointer, but as Pao has gotten older he too has banged less in the paint and drifted out to where only guards usually roam. The success of the Golden State Warriors hasn't helped the cause of the big man since they won their title on the backs of position-less basketball rotations anchored by Draymond Green who can guard the opposing team's center and can keep an opposing guard in front him. Sure not every team has a Draymond, but that was never a worry for GMs. Now they all want Green's teammate with the smooth J from 3.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Where the NBA Stands

The NBA is a special league. No other American sports league has the type of space that the NBA has to work with. The NBA has the popularity of generations and doesn't have to deal with the short attention span issues that baseball has to deal with and doesn't have the violent streak that scares off the fragile from the NFL. The new commissioner has made a link between previous stars and modern stars and actually has allowed them to be themselves on TV. The "Player's Only" programming on TNT Monday nights is genius it's like the studio show with Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, and Kenny Smith, but on steroids. All roles from the pregame studio show, to the sideline reporting, to the halftime studio show is done by former players. No studio gasbags leading the conversation or trying to change the subject or trying to control the players when they go off on a rant. All other sports shows incorporate former players, but not like this.

The NBA has labor peace, popularity, and most importantly a HUGE TV deal that gets everyone paid. But the league isn't without some minor issues. Teams resting stars during nationally televised games is a problem but it isn't anything that should sink the ship. Silver can write however many sternly worded emails to the owners, but when it comes to winning an NBA championship coaches are going to rest their stars whenever they need to. Most NBA games, even when sloppy, can excite a crowd with fast pace action even if it leads to nothing. That's the kind of instant entertainment this generation craves. No need to wait for a hitter to put a ball in play or one guy crushing another guy in the middle of an open football field. When it comes to basketball, parents won't complain about their kid playing a violent sport and risk long term health issues and they can't complain about the price of baseball equipment. Basketball is the safest sport of all. It's about time the Association started playing their cards right.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

As Flawed as it Could Get

Dellin Betances has been one of the most elite set up men in the majors in the last few years. He's thrown the most innings, he's had the third most strikeouts behind Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller, and has the 4th lowest era behind nothing but elite closers. This offseason is Betances' first chance to get paid through the arbitration process and Betances and his agent filed for 5 million dollars while the Yankees filed for 3 million. Instead of the two parties meeting in the middle of both offers they got dragged to a hearing where both parties make the case for why Betances deserves to either make 3 or 5 million. The hearing process can be ugly. The team pretty much makes the case that the player isn't worth the money that they're asking for in Betances' case the biggest knock has been that he only has 22 saves in the 3 years he's been in the majors.

Saves has been considered an ancient statistic that has no real representation as to how good a player is. Betances lost his hearing and will make 3 million dollars this upcoming season. Three million dollars is not chump change, but it is not indicative of how a pitcher of Betances' caliber should be getting paid. The saber movement has helped front offices quantify how good players are. It's the reason why older players are getting pushed out at the rate they are, but when it comes to a player getting paid front offices use statistics that are considered ancient so they can avoid paying players. Betances got dragged through the mud by his team to save the team 2 million dollars; a team that is valued at 3.4 billion. The arbitration process needs to change so that players in the future can avoid Betances' fate.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Times are a Changing

JP Arencibia is an ex-catcher that played on several teams and has called it a career at 31. The turnover rate is getting smaller and smaller thanks to the amount of young talent that's making it to the big leagues. There's a record number of players age twenty-five and under who teams are valuing more and more. Players are being rushed to the majors the minute they show top to mid prospect level talent. The dreaded stat WAR (Wins Above Replacement - where a player is compared to league average production) has made the old grizzled veterans almost obsolete. It seems like if you're not in the prime of your career teams aren't interested in bringing you on board. Just a year after the Baltimore Orioles signed first base/designated hitter Chris Davis to a huge 7 year 161 million dollar contract Davis' teammate Mark Trumbo had to scratch and claw his way to a 3 year 37.5 million dollar contract with the same Baltimore Orioles after coming off a season where Trumbo hit 47 home runs and drove in 108 runs.

Numbers like those usually guarantee a player a huge pay day, but not in this climate. Trumbo is mainly a designated hitter who spells Davis at first base from time to time and his defensive metrics aren't strong at all, but that's never stopped an American League team from going all in on a player like Trumbo and offering a Davis-like contract. It's not only an issue that Trumbo is suffering. Last year Chris Carter lead the National League in home runs with 41, but he also had 206 strike outs and has the same, if not worse, defensive numbers than Trumbo and Carter had to settle for a 1 year 3.5 million dollar deal with the New York Yankees or he was about to start taking offers from leagues in Asia. If the aging ball player isn't given a chance there are going to be a number of players like Arencibia who is going to be looking for work behind a hot mic and not a hot bat.

Monday, February 20, 2017

What's In An MVP?

This season in the NBA there have been two players who have taken the league by triple double storm. One being Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder who has twenty seven triple doubles and is averaging a triple double on the season. The first player to have such numbers since Oscar Robinson and the other being James Harden of the Houston Rockets who has fifteen triple doubles of his own. Both players have been outstanding and at the all star break for the NBA the competition for MVP so far has mainly been between these two players (even though LeBron James' name has crept into the conversation since Kevin Love has suffered injury and LeBron has taken more on his shoulders). The biggest difference to me is where the Thunder and Rockets stand in the standings of the Western Conference. The Thunder are seventh while the Rockets are third.

To me what Westbrook has been doing has been very impressive if not historic, but I think that with the overall success that Harden and the Rockets are having within this season Harden, at least at this point in the season, is the MVP. It comes down to the term "valuable" are the Rockets a three seed without Harden I'm going to say no would the Thunder be seventh without Westbrook, I will say that the Thunder would have a better chance at seventh without Westbrook than the Rockets would have at being three without Harden. If both players keep up the their on and LeBron doesn't do what LeBron does and just completely takes over I think James Harden should walk away with the MVP. Not to ignore what Westbrook has done, but the goal is to win and considering that Harden is doing more winning I would hand the trophy to Harden.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Is Thinner Always Better?

Boston Red Sox third baseman Pablo Sandoval signed a huge deal with Boston after his championship runs in San Francisco where he gained the nickname Panda after his rotund figure. After signing with the Red Sox Sandoval's weight hurt his production by keeping him off the field. Sandoval only played 3 games for the Red Sox last year and 126 after being over 140 all the seasons before that except for two. There something to be said about performing at a weight especially when your team wins not just one World Series but three. Was Sandoval out of shape yes. Was Sandoval a vital member of those Giants at the time the answer is also yes. Sandoval dedicated himself to getting in better shape and has. He looks better than he's ever had, but the question I have is will it work for him?

New York Yankees ace CC Sabathia had the same weight issue that Sandoval had going into the 2014 season. Sabathia blamed eating large amounts of cereal for his weight issues and like Sandoval made it a goal to lose weight. In 2013 when Sabathia was still overweight he pitched in 32 games he did have a then career high 4.78 era but he still logged 211 innings after losing the weight Sabathia in 2014 pitched in 8 games. Was that all because of the weight, or lack there of, I doubt it, but when Sabathia was overweight he knew what he had to do to make his weight work for him since he was a workhorse. Sabathia made logging over 200 innings a season a tradition. Am I predicting a drop off for Sandoval, not necessarily, but this is something to keep an eye on because as a big man he was a part of a team that won several World Series he's yet to prove what kind of player he is as a thin man.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Circus on 34th Street

It has been a trying week for New York Knick fans. Between Phil Jackson trying to get Carmelo Anthony upset enough to demand to be shipped out of town (which hasn't happened yet) to owner James Dolan having New York Knick legend Charles Oakley banned from Madison Square Garden. Fan favorite Charles Oakley at that. The same Charles Oakley who was an enforcer with the late Anthony Mason in all those heated showdowns with the Chicago Bulls, Miami Heat, and Indiana Pacers back when NY Knick basketball actually meant something. New York Knicks owner James Dolan just made himself more the villain to the fans of the Knicks than he already was. From hiring Isiah Thomas who ran a muck in the front office to the revolving door that has been the NY Knick coaching position (11 coaches have been hired and fired since 1999). The Knicks have been a circus of a team and Dolan has been the ring leader.

Phil Jackson is hiding behind the rings he has won as a coach with the Bulls and Lakers to justify the shenanigans he's pulling with Anthony. No one can approach the great "Zen Master" because he was so great at making all the talent he was blessed with go in the right direction to double digit championships. Jackson needs to come off his high chair and see that Anthony is ultimately the one who decides where and when he is to be moved thanks to the no trade clause in his contract and the trade kicker that are in Anthony's contract. Dolan didn't help anything when during an interview on the radio he threw Jackson under the bus by pretty much blaming him for giving Anthony that contract. If more evidence is needed for Dolan to sell the Knicks this week should pretty much answer that for him, but of course Dolan won't sell so the circus will continue down on 34th St.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Chuck V. Bron

In the newest drama that has engulfed the NBA LeBron James has come to beef with NBA legend Charles Barkley. It started last week when LeBron James started making demands of Cleveland Cavalier owner Dan Gilbert over needing more players to support the chase to repeat as Champions. Several media members have either supported LeBron or spoken out against him and Charles Barkley has spoken out against him in usual Charles Barkley form, but what wasn't expected was the LeBron James response. LeBron James, in an interview with Dave McMenamin for ESPN, went on a verbal lashing of Barkley bringing up various incidents from Barkley's playing days that has reminded folks that Barkley's reputation isn't all that clean. Lucky was Barkley that his glory days reached its peak when there were no social media outlets where his indiscretions could be aired out in the way that today's athlete have to deal with.

Personally I believe Barkley had this coming. The way in which Barkley uses his platform to be critical of players as if he were squeaky clean was always interesting to me. Just because you're getting paid to be a gas bag on TV doesn't entitle you the right to throw around insults and speak down to players. Eventually Barkley's words were going to come back and that they did in the shape of LeBron James calling him out for amongst other things chumming up with Michael Jordan during a playoff game something that Barkley has criticized LeBron for since in his day Barkley and other stars weren't so friendly with other stars. I'm surprised more stars haven't gone after Barkley since his criticisms of players have been so harsh. Maybe because Barkley is a legend in the game so players don't think they can go against him, but LeBron is a big enough name where clearly that isn't an issue.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

And Then There Were Two

The Super Bowl match up has been decided. The Atlanta Falcons will face the New England Patriots in SB LI in Houston Texas. Both teams won decidedly continuing the theme of these NFL playoffs. Except for one game these playoffs have been a disaster. No losing team put up a fight except for the Dallas Cowboys who lost to the Green Bay Packers by 3 points and the Kansas City Chiefs, who lost their game against the Pittsburgh Steelers despite the fact they didn't allow a touchdown. The loss by the Cowboys may have been the biggest upset in these playoffs. Considering that going into the game the Cowboys were favored to come out of the NFC as champs.

The Patriots had an easy run through these playoffs. No real team in the AFC stood up to the Patriots as they cut through their opponents like a warm blade through butter. The Steelers were supposed to be their biggest obstacle, but once LeVeon Bell got hurt it made it easier for Belichick to lock down star wide receiver Antonio Brown and that ended their run at Super Bowl glory. This Falcons' offense is supposedly the biggest obstacle for the Patriots, but that was said about the Steelers. I believe the Falcons have too much on offense and will overwhelm the Patriots to the score of 42-21. The Falcon defense has been playing better as of late and will disrupt the flow of the Pats offense by focusing on the slant receivers which have been what has really been the difference in these games for the Patriots.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Second Round with the Save

As America's favorite sport starts its playoff rounds there has been nothing but disappointment. Blow outs in the first round has made these games almost unwatchable (even though I did sit down and watched the majority of these games). Six of the eight games that have been played in these playoffs have been won by over 13 points and the closer games were close because of garbage time points. The problem I see goes back to the overexertion of players. Thursday night games can't help players be ready when needed. This is watered down football and even so the amount of damage players are going through has to effect these playoff games. The short turn around from Sunday night/afternoon to Thursday night  has to take an immense toll on players and since the NFL is making bank on the Thursday night game those games are not going anywhere.

The games between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Kansas City Chiefs and the Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys may have saved these playoffs. Both games were tight, full of drama and going for it on 4th downs. Compared to the blowouts of the first round these two games have given validation to just how good the NFL can be. The problem I see is with how much the NFL wants to increase its exposure it's all at the cost of the player. Between midseason trips to Europe and games on short rest the toll on the player is at an all time high. A team has the potential to go from California to London to play a Sunday 1pm game to then travel back to play a game in a random city in America and then play a Thursday game after that with just a bye week (rest week) between those 3 games. That's going to hurt the game, the playoffs, and the player, but as long as the NFL cashes in there's no rest for the weary.