Archive for July, 2012

Cheeks

Advertisements on NBA Jerseys
There are plenty of sports related debates that I find to be annoying and a waste of time because there is clearly a right answer. The argument over whether advertisements should be placed on NBA jerseys is certainly one of those debates. Like any multibillion business, the NBA strives to maximize their profit margin and jersey sponsorships seems to be a lucrative venture–speculated that it will net the NBA $100 million–that does not diminish or alter the quality of the game on the court. So, why do people disapprove of this? Because of “jersey” tradition? Because it might not be aesthetically appealing? C’mon. Those are very weak reasons to oppose this attempt by the NBA to gain more revenue.
ALL II
In an age where everything is corporately sponsored in sports, it seemed inevitable that professional jerseys would receive the same treatment among the major American sports.  The NBA appears to be the first to jump into the financial waterfall with two by two inch sponsorship patches on all jerseys (game worn and replicas sold in stores).  This does not offend my sensibilities because I generally don’t care for the existing sponsors at arenas or in other team sports – primarily soccer.  Naturally teams should be concerned about this new use of marketability as a controversial company willing to buy space may turn off fans, free agents, or other potential sponsors for anything related to the team.  Taking the macro approach, sponsorship in team sports is more complicated because a team consists of multiple personalities, interests, and preferences.  The Boston Bruins demonstrated this last season with Tim Thomas taking a politically unpopular stance by avoiding the ceremonial meeting of the President following their 2011 Stanley Cup Championship.  In individual sports a single entity can accurately convey his/her own preferences resulting in a greater connection to supporters.  This is why NASCAR attracts high levels of sponsorship success.  As a Jeff Gordon fan I consciously look to buy Chevy cars, drink Pepsi (if I decide to drink pop/soda), and support specific causes like campaigns to end hunger.  Ultimately the power of sponsorship is questionable in team sports (do Atlanta Hawks fans buy Phillips products since they attend the Phillips Arena?) but if money can be made and spent on the franchise I see no need to spend more than 300 words on it.  Expect this to be the beginning of a trend towards larger sponsorship and more money – a healthy climb to the rest of the sporting world in the 21st century.
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I’ll be the grandpa, I’ll make the argument that neither guy wants to make: Over-commercialization. I’m tired of faux controversies where companies begin to represent a political ideology and the masses begin protesting against them and asking sponsors to denounce. I can see this happening with the NBA very easily. I can see it now, “Chik-Fil-A denounces gay marriage, the LGBTQ community calls on the NBA and the Charlotte Bobcats to remove their sponsorship from their jerseys.” Here we go again, MSNBC, CNN, Fox News stories now become fodder for debate on ESPN. While that’s great for our blog and for ESPN it does take away from the game itself.

I understand why the arenas have to be commercialized and sponsored and hijacked by big business. Big business = money that the state/city doesn’t always have to shell out to for arenas. (Although we are well aware that if the city doesn’t dish out a good portion of money for the stadium you can kiss your team good-bye). It’s not enough to have arenas filled with advertisements, players who are pimped out for shoe companies and other merchandise, now even the 12th man is wearing enough to have him represent some corporate entity he has little no affiliation with.

There’s also the aesthetics. No longer can I look at a Knicks jersey and think back of other men who wore the same uniform. The Boston white and green will now be littered with multi-colored advertisements that will eventually overshadow the name on the front of the jersey as well as the back. Is nothing sacred anymore?

*Pardon typos but I felt the need to be authentic with my thoughts so you get them without edits.  I am also a die hard Mariners fan working with a Yankees fan and someone who likes the Cubs…when they are winning.  As usual four stories from the world of baseball…*

Single:  Baseball has no appetite for replay says 160 year old Commissioner

Top of the third in the nationally televised Boston Red Sox vs. Texas Rangers contest on ESPN.  Dustin Pedoria just hit a scorcher down the first base line with chalk flying up 15 feet in front of the bag but umpires, managers, and commentators questioning if the ball flew over the bag to be called fair (the umpire initially called it fair and the call stood).  Certainly instant replay could be used to solve this issue because the speed of the game can corrupt but slowing tings down generally improves accuracy.  We, as sports fans, prefer is things are right versus wrong.  The blatant suggestion is baseball should use some of this newfangled technology to improve the game.  Bud Selig, certified worst Commissioner in sports and certified old fart, disagrees.  While trumpeting baseball’s annual record attendance and willfully ignoring the disastrous ratings despite great play on the field (Chika), Selig proudly stated “the appetite for instant replay is very low.”  He babbled about the game being about pace – you know the slow variety which plagues baseball’s marquee matchup between the Red Sox and Yankees, the five hour ordeal – and after conducting an informal investigation (emails from fans, reading some papers, and talking to other old farts inside baseball) concluded that this instant replay nonsense was not a real issue.  Read the silliness for yourself but I don’t know how much more evidence do we need that 1) he is absolutely out of touch with reality and 2) he needs to retire.

Double: Murder’s Row and Ichiro

The New York Yankees, Major League Baseball’s best team aside from their trip to Oakland, addressed what many people thought was their fatal flaw in route to another AL East title and potential birth in the World Series.  With Brent Gardner’s season ending elbow injury, the Yankees platooned in outfield with Raul Ibanez, Clay Bellinger, and Curtis Granderson – not exactly the type of support you look for defensively and certainly inconsistent at the plate with the wing outfielders.  By signing the slumping and aging Japanese star the Yankees greatly improve their defense over Ibanez (evidence items 1, 2, and 3 provided by Grantland’s Jonah Keri), reestablish speed to balance out their lineup, and get a valuable baseball player who I suspect will perform better finally being on a team that has a chance to play for something meaningful after May 15th.  (More on that below)  Ultimately baseball writers attempted to nitpick the Yankees looking for flaws, namely their overreliance on the home run and questionable pitching.  Without delving too deeply into these concerns, this Yankees team is nearly flawless this year only to get better with the return to form of CC and Andy “backstabbing lawyers for fun” Pettitte.  Ichiro will certainly not be a star on the Bombers but he will have a meaningful and sustained positive impact on their way to a title, something I doubted last week looking at the outfield on display.  Acceptance is a tough thing but this Yankees team is poised to return to baseball’s summit.

Triple: Handling the loss of the Franchise…

Acceptance is particularly difficult given the details of a situation.  When your favorite player in your favorite sport who is also on your favorite team is traded to your least favorite team in all of sports, the natural reaction is going to be strong and more than likely negative.  I can guarantee that is going to be strong and negative.  I knew there would be a day when Ichiro was traded from the Mariners and I knew the team to acquire him would be the New York Yankees.  It is the way this thing works.  Your team has talent.  Your team is not good.  Your talent gets absorbed by the haves and you remain a have not.  I feared this day since 2003 but every year the Mariners organization kept the suitors at bay with Ichiro’s performance starting to wane towards the end of the decade.  Surely I could not imagine the Yankees would take him now so I let me guard down.  I started worrying about King Felix Hernandez, the talented righty out of Venezuela next on the eyes of GMs looking to solidify a playoff caliber pitching staff.  I let my guard down and was exposed for the big right hand to the jaw.  NO, that’s not right.  The trade practically came from thin air with the news leaving me crippled and angry.  If I was Oscar de la Hoya, the Editor-in-Chief and Yankee Nation was Bernard Hopkins flipping in the ring.  I learned about the news while sitting in an IMAX showing of The Dark Knight Rises and I did not return to the theater.  Shocked then angry.  The Franchise was gone.  The rich got richer.  My Mariners got two minor league pitchers in return.  Now the blood is boiling.

Then the wave of emails came in:

  • “Eeecheeerooooo! Linton! Don’t ignore me!! Jeter, icheerroooo. How does my ass taste? 2 former mvps on the same teeaaamm! Linton! How does it feeeeeeel?”
    • “take a chill pill. Ichiro is no longer a good player.”
    • “Eat a fat [one] cubs fan! is he an upgrade raul ibanez? Yes. That’s all. Shut it. He still gets on base and ya know what? He’s not gonna hit 3rd.EeeeeCheeeeRoooooo! Murderers row and eeeeccheeeeroooo! Linton! Contract the mariners! They suck! They’ve got nothing. Raul ibanez, 16th best player on the yanks! “
      • “His production this year has been just as bad as Ibanez. He’ll only have a negligible impact. So, once again, TAKE A CHILL PILL!”
      • “EEEEE CHEEEE ROOOOOOOOOOOOO bite it.”
      • “1 wants to know if you want to go to a Yankee game with us. Ichiro’s playing there, ya know.”
      • “In The Baseball World, Ichiro is now a member of the New York Yankees… Somewhere Allen Louis Linton II is pouting more than usual over his Mariners Terrible Season… GO SOX!”

I suppose you get the idea at this point but one comment really stuck out and it was made by fellow “blogger” Chika: “Why are you angry about this?! Ichiro is no longer a good player (it doesn’t hurt your team) and your favorite (?) baseball player is going to better situation. Feel happy for him and compliment the Mariners for helping him out.”

This comment may or may not have sent me into a two hour verbal tirade and absolutely unprofessional behavior that I am happy was not recorded or seen by anyone except the recipients of said behavior.  Realizing that people may not appreciate losing a Franchise player to another team and that people generally spend too much time commenting about baseball when they have no idea what they are talking about, I suppose it is my duty to explain why I am so upset and stunned.

First and foremost I am not mad at all at Ichiro and in fact am happy he gets a chance to be on a team that is built to win.  Jeff Passan’s foreshadowing piece on Ichiro’s future and relationship with Buck O’Neil covered the possibilities of the Mariners’ aging star with career lows coming up on a new contract.  It was the same situation the Yankees were with Jeter two years ago, career lows and all.  Selfishly I want my favorite player to stay with my team but I recognize that he does not owe the Mariners anything and at some point even the most loyal employees get a right to chase immortality in the form of a championship (re: Steve Nash).  Baseball’s Kevin Garnett went from the Franchise to the best possible chance, the most evil of all enemies.  Good for him.  He requested a trade and the Mariners obliged him by sending him to the largest market.  With this move he will make sacrifices (batting at the bottom, benched on days against power lefties, not wearing 51) but nothing like the years he put up in Seattle with nothing of substance to show for it – namely no real opportunity for ring sizing after his rookie season in 2001.  I fault Ichiro for nothing but that does not balance out the emotion of leaving my favorite team especially when he is traded to my least favorite.  While I am deep down inside happy to see him with a chance to win, the name on the front of the jersey is most important to me and the Franchise lost much of the little substance they had with one sudden move plus pinstripes.

Home Run: Why I was so insufferable over Ichiro…

Anytime a franchise player is moved, it matters.  It makes you assess what is going on with that player, the franchise, or the state of the game.  For me, this put into focus something I also knew for many years – the Mariners franchise is horrific and it pisses me off.  Ichiro’s outward excitement for leaving a team with “the fewest losses to a team with the most” says everything you need to know.  The Mariners absolutely wasted ten great years of baseball and did absolutely nothing to build a team in contention.  Which poor move would you like to address: Richie Sexson, Adrian Beltre, Kevin Millwood, Erik Bedard, the “pitching and defense” strategy leading to the single worst offensive season in Major League Baseball since the inception of the designated hitter, annual last place finishes in any offensive category of record, having an elite starting pitcher with the second highest paid pitcher being Brandon “I live to blow games” League, or the cherry on top: two minor league pitching prospects in return for the hits machine.  Simply put it is angering that Ichiro leaving for a team with some sense of baseball while I remain rooting for a team operating like the late 1800s.  To understand the anger I simply look at our roster with Justin Smoak (the savior) being sent down for batting .189; KEVIN MILLWOOD; Dustin Ackley (savior 2.0) toeing the line at .224.  Historically Ichiro’s departure shines the bright light on the leaders of the franchise who left fans with nothing, left Ichiro with nothing, and Seattle with nothing.  That’s why I am mad.  That coupled with the fear that King Felix – the last remaining gem – will soon be in the pinstripes.  Fate is inevitable.  Inescapable.  Whether you understand the value of Ichiro (who still has substantial value) or not, you can certainly understand realizing garbage when it is thrown in your face.  Seattle Mariners….just garbage but I won’t be leaving you.  And yet I hate you so much per usual.

You know what’s tough about consuming large amounts of sports writing?  It can at once be both gratifying and self-serving while addressing a complicated issue reduced to simple, digestible terms.  Most of the Jerry Sandusky child molestation/rape coverage, which will soon be known as the Joe Paterno rape cover up saga, does not need a second opinion.  Most everyone agrees that Sandusky is a monster, Paterno is a liar, and Pennsylvania State University is not some place that should put the words “honor code” or “integrity” in any promotional publications.  What is complicated for many are the after effects of the massive, criminal cover up – namely what should happen to the school now?  Unfortunately this conversation takes the form of a simple question: Should the Joe Paterno statue remain up?   I personally think they should take it down because: 1) statues are meant to memorialize and honor one’s achievements but the “Grand Experiment” of doing college football the right way appears to be built upon a corrupt lie and 2) someone will go out of his/her way to destroy it over the next months.  There is a cruel, Christopher Nolan sense of humor about the Grand Experiment namely that it worked.  Paterno and Co. did positively inspire their football players and kept the players out of trouble compared to most every major Division I program.  It worked.  It worked because the dirty little secret recently exposed by the Sandusky fiasco remains that college programs only need to discipline students.  Coaches, administrators, and trustee members?  Carte Blanche!

Realistically, however, the statue argument does not move my meter.  Couldn’t give less than a mud hole about the statue.  What should be the real focus is what happens to the school.  Where is the NCAA forever worried about the integrity of the game?  Apparently they are policing schools for “lack of institutional control.”  CalTech got lit up for the iconic ruling when players competed in multiple sports without being fully registered for classes because the first three weeks constitutes a “shopping” period where students can visit a variety of classes before setting their schedules.  Here is the report.  So glad the NCAA is still policing programs for institutional problems like lack of protocol, no inter-departmental communication, and schools focused on graduating kids and not being perennial powerhouses.  What should be done to Penn State is my concern.  Rebranding can be kicked about by other people.  Yes, I agree the students-athletes should be allowed to transfer as Dan Wetzel acknowledges on Yahoo! Sports.  The answer to the penalty question is simple.

DEATH PENALTY.  Swift.  Meaningful.  Impacts everyone.  Sends message.

Something amazing happens when schools become out of control or incredibly disingenuous: people cannot figure out how to penalize the programs because an entire crop of new students would suffer from transgressions committed without their knowledge and before their time.  And it is a complicated issue as it pertains to individuals who broke rules with the assistance of coaches/administrators.  In this case, everyone knew.  CalTech was penalized for, among other things, lack of communication and control.  Penn State, sadly, had too much control.  Head Coach knew.  Assistant coaches knew.  Athletic Director knew.  Trustees knew.  Hell, the President of the University knew.  Everyone knew and seemingly everyone decided to hide it.  And more things started to emerge!  And the more anyone asked, the tighter lipped all parties became about the situation.

People don’t like the death penalty because it seems relatively unfair.  Chuck Klosterman on part one of the BS Report with Bill Simmons used the classic statement of relativity (begin at 40:30): if a mathematics professor molested young boys, it would be ludicrous to shut down the entire department or to dissolve the school.  The secondary argument is equally frustrating: the death penalty will not stop other people in the future from molesting young people.  Both arguments, while valid, are incredibly flawed because they do not apply here because the death penalty directly punishes the football program but tangentially impacts the entire University.  Klosterman’s second argument is too narrow because the worst part of this Sandusky 15-year sexual predation is not that Paterno did not do as much as possible or even the fact that he knew about it as much as all of the important players at PENNSYLVANIA STATE UNIVERSITY knew and actively covered it up!  That is what the death penalty would effectively stop: when something massively wrong – criminal – is happening and you actively cover it up you should pay the ultimate price especially when its harm done to minors on your property.  Why?  Money.  Everyone took salvage in hiding a damning situation to protect the golden goose that is college football.  For Paterno, football was his legacy.  For the coaches, football was their livelihood.  For the administration, trustees, and President, football was an unprecedented check and marketing tool second to none.  The money negates Klosterman’s first argument.  The football program, the entity itself, led everyone to sit on their hands and do nothing for over a decade.  The death penalty sends a clear and oddly consistent message from the seemingly random NCAA, historically disengaged from criminal matters: football or any other sport is not more important than legal and moral obligations to protect people from predators.

It would be an unfortunate set of circumstances for the current student athletes (who, again, should be allowed to transfer without restriction), students who enjoy football, and many others.  That is the consequence of not reporting a monster while protecting the greenery between the “white-out” sellout crowds in the Autumn/Winter and the green in the pocketbooks of irresponsible adults.

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You’re welcome Jeremy Lin. He left New York City while he was still a household name. He left unscathed. New York is the same town that ran Joe Torre out of town after a few years without a World Series ring. It’s also the same town who demanded a General Manager change, when that General Manager led the Yankees to 4 World Series wins. Knicks fans are also the fans who have effectively dropped carrying the torch of their greatest player, Patrick Ewing, because he couldn’t deliver a championship. But somehow that same fan base is overly protective of John Starks, arguably the man who cost Ewing the opportunity for that championship for forgetting that he was, well, John Starks. New York sports fans are also the same fans who still want to revisit the draft of 2003, because they still believe Phillip Rivers is the better quarterback. Also the same town that will put Tim Tebow and Mark Sanchez on the back page, while the Superbowl winning quarterback plays for the other team.  This is also a fan base that consistently boos and criticizes probably the greatest player of his generation, Alex Rodriguez. While the rest of the country wishes they had A-Rod in their batting lineup, Yankees fans are all too eager to see Rodriguez in another uniform.

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Jeremy, be glad you left. When Lin returns to the Garden, he’ll be praised. James Dolan is the enemy, not him. Carmelo Anthony is the enemy, not Lin. Although Carmelo Anthony has 8 years of excellence under his belt, fans still think the team should be built around a 23 year-old who had spurts of greatness followed by a streak of aloof and questionable play. Lin gets to play in a situation where he can average 20 points and 7 assists and have the entire sports world and Knick fan base say “I told you so!” Would he have fit with the Knicks, probably not. But luckily for Lin, we will never find out. Lin never received the classic New York backlash, well because he did nothing to deserve it. Plus we had plenty of other villains on the team. Amare and a fire extinguisher, Carmelo and JR’s shot selection and the Miami Heat.  Lin exits New York with the sort of immortality that took Derek Jeter nearly a decade to achieve and he all he needed was an amazing two months and a little Insanity.

Much like the words in this blogpost, Lin got out before he was buried in headlines.

 The 2003 class is the only class to have successfully defeated the Generation X class. Wade, James, Bosh and Darko Millicic have played a role in championship teams. So while the Kobe, Shaq, Duncan, Nowitzki, Garnett era is coming to a close, they still have a few more runs left in them. Instead of waiting for those guys to fade away for good (Shaq faded way as ungracefully as any once dominating player has ever faded), I’m waiting for this Generation Y squad to take over. Here are the list of 80’s babies that need to take over the next decade and slip some rings on their fingers. Moreover, here are the guys who now have the pressure of getting a ring to validate themselves in this era. 

 

 

1)Derrick Rose

Yes, I know he had he ACL injury, which buys him about 2 years and maybe a built-in excuse as to why he will never will a championship. We can always point to the “he was going to be great, until he tore his ACL” as the reason why Rose never made the leap. However, I take issue with Rose (or Chicago Bulls fans) who suggest that given a healthy rose, they would have hoisted the Larry O’Brien trophy. Not so fast. It seems fans forgot that they lost to a lesser Miami Heat team the year before in 5 games. But of course “the humble one” Rose will get a pass for awhile, but the pressure will soon mount, especially given the fact he plays for his hometown. His hometown may never turn their back on him, but the rest of us will if he can’t stop the Miami Heat freight train from getting “Not 1… Not 2… Not 3…”

 

 2)Carmelo Anthony

Carmelo went from considered being the best scorer and closer in the league to being compared to the likes of Steve Francis, Stephon Marbury, Allen Iverson and Tracy McGrady as great scorers, who were selfish to ever make the players around them better. Whether or not one thinks this is unfair, Carmelo has never lived up to the hype of being LeBron James’ number 1 rival. When they both left college, they were anointed the next Magic and Bird, although their games bring a lot of media coverage and hype, it’s been a mostly one-sided affair. In the words of Jay-Z, Carmelo has went from top 10 to no mentioned at all. With all the pressure of delivering in playing for New York City, Carmelo has to bring the Knicks deep into the playoffs. 

 

3) Kevin Durant

KD is only 23. But he’s been to an NBA Finals and was almost considered better than LeBron James at a few points during the season. But as the old adage goes: TO BE THE MAN YOU GOT TO BEAT THE MAN. He’s the heir apparent to the King’s throne, but the King’s still in his prime. Sooner or later Durant has to become a better defender and rebounder. To drag in another platitude, youth is wasted on the young, and while Durant is a fan favorite now, a few more failures will bring about “Can he win the big one?” questions.

 

4)Chris Paul 

Considered by many the best “pure” (what ever that means) Point Guard in the history of the game. But Chris Paul has never made it out of the second round. Granted he’s never had much talent surrounding him and he’s always been stuck in the highly competitive West. But at some point and it’s coming soon, criticism is going to come his way. Whether it’s the “injury prone” label or the “overrated” label, it’s coming. CP3 may not need to win a title to avoid the criticism, he definitely needs to make it to the conference finals in the next few years. 

 

 

Chika returns with ALL II and the Editor-in-Chief to discuss free agency in the NBA, family background in sports interest, MLB All-Star Break, and a discussion of race in sports coverage!

All-Star edition of The Cycle, four stories that caught my eye in baseball!

Single: American League Starters That Left More To Be Desired

As will be a common theme throughout this relatively short post, I am generally worried about fans deciding things with real consequences.  If this game matters (its result will be consequential to future happenings like home field advantage or if a retractable dome will be open or closed) then fans need to do better.  For the American League, I think it’s time for people to appreciate Paul Konerko’s work at first base.  Konerko often travels below the radar (his injury in May didn’t help his case) but his numbers stack up at the top of first basemen throughout baseball: .333/.410/.549.  His past two seasons saw true averages above .315 which is spectacular given he could not hit to save his life three seasons ago.  For my obligatory Yankees shot, I probably would go with Cleveland Indians shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera over El Capitan.  Both have similar numbers – in large part to Jeter regressing to the mean – and deteriorating defense.  Since this isn’t the Seattle Mariners, defense does not really matter.  *I just saw Elvis Andrus throw a bullet from third to get Andrew McCutchen out…he also could make an argument to start as he has the best defense of the three*  A case could be made that Adam Jones should be a starter but the only outfielder I would bump up is Mike Trout.  Aside from taking all the pressure off Albert Pujols, his figures this year are unreal: .335/.395/.530.  Young superstar who stole Bryce Harper’s thunder and can actually catch the ball consistently.

Double: National League Starters Leaving More To Be Desired

For the National League, starter decisions become more complicated by stronger fan bases (San Francisco Giants) which really show up for their teams.  That said Carlos Ruiz is clearly outperforming Buster Posey – a real shame he won’t get a starting nod.  *Joe Buck is currently fussing about Giants fans stuffing the ballot box.  Could not be more condescending.  Still not as outraged as he was here.* The numbers are not really close either.  Posey: .289/.362/.458.  Ruiz: .350/.412/.584!  Don’t be disrespectful – and nice job Phillies fans!  David Wright not starting is also egregious despite Pablo Sandoval’s worthy performance.  Wright has owned this season and owns a higher Wins Above Replacement than Sandoval and Chase Headley.  Why Andrew McCutchen isn’t starting is a testament to a beaten Pirates fan base, perhaps in shock of their first place status in the NL Central – you know when you think central United States you definitely think Pittsburgh.  Ehh, the entire thing is frustrating but as usual the American League outperforms the National League in picking a better team to lose for a third straight year.

Triple: Home Run Derby – Enjoyment For Someone Not Me

I loved the home run derby when I was a child.  Operative word being child.  Like birthdays, home run derbies should be let go at the age of 12.  It is certainly a skill that I appreciate but it does not keep up with the creativity and excitement of the NBA Slam Dunk competition or the NHL creative shot thing.  Hitting a homerun is fun but it gets old.  What never gets old is a fan base absolutely ripping a player and that player’s performance feeding the hatred. When an athlete is in control, the result is stunning (Lebron James’ 44 point performance against the Trailblazers this season).  When bad, you get Robinson Cano’s zero home run performance in the derby.  The fans, to their credit, ripped him.  Cano selected Jose Bautista (27HRs this season), Prince Fielder (15), and Mark Trumbo (22) to compete for the American League thereby leaving off Kansas City Royal Billy Butler (16).  Now to Cano’s credit, he handled the booing nicely by not ripping the fans and acknowledging he expected this type of reaction.  Furthermore, Butler is not a close snub.  Adam Dunn has 25 homeruns, Edwin Encarnacion with 23, and Adam Jones as 20.  Cano did the right thing and the fans responded accordingly.

All was well – especially with rating three percent higher than last year – until I saw Major League Baseball is thinking of changing Home Run Derby rules.  Make it shorter?  Get rid of that golden ball!?  Nope, old man Selig displayed his only connection with this era by suggesting a designated spot for a home team representative may be added to curtail this type of booing.  You know how everyone today gets a ribbon for participating?  How the Miami Heat “good job, good effort” kid is a laughing stock?  How people expect a participation grade to balance off shoddy work over the quarter or semester?  Major League Baseball is worried about future participation and crowds being too unfriendly to players.  This is a horrific idea.  MLB rightfully recognized that team captains selecting players would be exciting; to alter that idea to make sure belligerent fans don’t see the home town hero is absurd.  I want to see the best players hit balls into the night.  Well, when I was younger this is what I wanted.  To put a player in to please 40,000 fans means squat for the millions watching worldwide.  But who is surprised when Selig announces that he will consider this change amid the drawn out format we currently have today…not me.

Home Run: Fixing the All-Star Game

So I joined the All-Star game in the bottom of the fourth inning.  I knew it was coming on but had no interest in watching.   Truly a damn shame considering I watch tons of regular season games every single night but did not want to see the “best of the best” play together.  Why?  Well because the entire thing is flawed from the on field performance to its presentation.  Not to be one that merely casts stones, I have solutions in no particular order but should be implemented immediately to insure success in the future.  Since Cal Ripken Jr. suggested that this winner gets home-field advantage crap isn’t going anywhere, these solutions will be within this stupid format.

  • Move the All-Star festivities to the weekend!  I don’t know why the Home Run Derby is on Monday and the game on Tuesday.  I do know that nothing that is “all-star” happens on a Monday or Tuesday.  It is also not 1946.  So move the game to a weekend so more people can enjoy it and not worry about work the next morning.  Easiest fix.  Make the game seem more fun by putting it with the fun times on the weekend.  If you really want a kick, put the game on a Saturday night to avoid going against Sunday television shows.
  • Get rid of the “all teams must be represented” mess.  If home field advantage is on the line, I do not want great players on a last place team (who happen to be decent players overall) on the squad.  If the game means something then only take players that mean something to the game.
  • Starters should be selected by coaches/players.  Fans should be able to pick backups.  Again, the game means something so get rid of the fans stuffing the ballot box and keeping the top players out.  Plus, everyone that needs to get there eventually gets there so make fans pay attention and vote smarter.
  • While I am adjusting teams if you are selected to the All-Star game it does not mean you will get into the game.  Priority: Win game.  Secondary concern: making you happy.
  • Most importantly, Bill Simmons is right to suggest that starters should all play at the same time but they should play towards the second half of the game, not the first.  Once all the marquee players leave, reserves determine the outcome which is not nearly as captivating as starters going later into games or entering games later.
  • Add a skills competition.  All the big sports have or had them.  (By the way, the NFL needs to bring back the skills competition.  I want to see the Quarterback Skills challenge, an NFL “Punt, Pass, and Kick” competition, and combine competition with at least weight lifting!)  Give me a fastest around the diamond contest.  Pitcher accuracy?  Outfield best arm?  Some type of relay race?  I need more to accompany the Home Run Derby that should be five outs shorter.

Just a few ideas that I would like to see.  Please let me know you own in the co

 

What Lockout?

Posted: July 9, 2012 in Bunker

It’s been two years since “The Decision” that brought LeBron James from beloved hometown hero to sports biggest villain. It was the beginning of the idea of “Big Threes” and “Super Teams” which led the owners to lock out the players. Indefensible and fruitless guaranteed contracts like Joe Johnson and Rashard Lewis had hamstrung owners during a recession that netted some painful losses for these billionaires.

There was a contentious lockout that pitted small market owners vs. James Dolan, Jerry Buss, Mark Cuban and other larger market owners. The CBA incorporated a harder salary cap that would be very punitive to those big spending big market teams. It was supposed to level the playing field. The heatle trios wouldn’t work anymore. Dan Gilbert would have just as good a shot as any other owner from a bigger market, because you couldn’t stack teams in one city anymore. And the free agency 2012 happened and we’re right back where we were prior to the lockout.

The Brooklyn Nets (another large market with an owner with deep pockets) are looking to create their own big three. They didn’t waste time trying to clear salary cap space and rebuild through the draft. Quite the opposite, they traded all their first round draft picks and young players in exchange for big money talent. With Williams and Johnson receiving maximum contracts, the Nets are in heavy talks with the Magic and two other teams looking to make a deal for Dwight Howard. While the details and methodology are questionable, the trade is inevitable. Dwight Howard will be a Net. Howard will become just another player who forced his way out of a smaller market for the bright lights of a bigger city.

[youtube:www.youtube.com/watch?v=sLSd5ZeDGtc]

Ironically, Cleveland owner Dan Gilbert may be the owner who helps this trade go through. Yes, THIS Dan Gilbert. Oh yeah and THIS Dan Gilbert as well. I guess when the shoe’s on the other foot, principle really doesn’t matter all that much huh?

So we can blame LeBron, bad contracts, Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard for causing this Big-3 super-team phenomenon. But we also bashed David Stern when he stepped in “for Basketball reasons”. So who’s left to blame? The same people who got us into this mess to begin with: The Owners.

ALL II and the Editor-in-Chief discuss the 2012 Wimbledon championships won by Serena Williams and Roger Federer, Jeremiah Wright, Michael Johnson’s controversial comments on black athlete superiority from slave descendents, and a discussion on the role African-Americanization of sports.

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It was written as though it was going to be the perfect fairly tale ending. Andy Murray was going to take down the greatest Tennis player of all-time to become the first Brit to win Wimbledon. He was going to be a national hero, he was going to give it all he had and after years of coming up short, he was going to win his first Grand Slam. The English crowd would embrace him like no athlete they have ever before. But on Sunday, it wasn’t meant to be. Andy Murray is now once again lumped in with  Andy Roddick, Rocco Mediate, Ernie Els, Tommy Hearns and Mildred Taylor: Men who gave it their all in one fight, but just happened to run up against one of the all-time greats.

It’s heartbreaking to watch. I remember watching Andy Roddick have a career day against Roger Federer in 2009. His serves were lazer-like, his stamina kept him in the match. He pushed Federer to the brink in 5-set classic at a time when he seemed invincible. But at the end of the day, it just isn’t enough. The more painful fact is that no one remembers how great your best is when you lose. Sports is a winners game and when you fall short and no matter what the effort you put forth, the loser is rarely remembered. Andy Roddick hasn’t come close to winning a Grand Slam title since. His face at the end of that match said it all “I have nothing left”.

Rocco Mediate played the 4 best rounds of his career in 2008 at the U.S. Open. Tiger Woods was laboring on what we would later find out was a torn ACL . Mediate appreciated the moment, he embraced it. He became the guy we rooted for, because we wanted to see David take down Goliath. He didn’t have the obsessive drive to kill, kill, kill like Tiger. He was like us; Grinding and just happy to be there. We know what followed: Mediate loses in an 18-hole playoff to Tiger Woods, on a day where Tiger made one incredible shot after another. Mediate played the best he’s ever played and it just wasn’t good enough. We haven’t seen Mediate in the Top 5 since. Well at least he embraced the moment.

Which brings me to Andy Murray. Murray gave us something to talk about Sunday morning, something to watch. He gave us a great match, some excitement in a sport that is often swept under the rug, because their superstar, their GOAT, is less than charismatic. And he even gave us a moment, a tearful speech, for which many will remember him forever. That’s good, because it will probably be the last time we see Murray near the winner’s circle at a Grand Slam for a long time.