February 11, 2009

The Four Best Words in Sports...and More...


Oh, wait, that's just the South rubbing off on me. Ok, so no one else may be pumped for the Daytona 500, but I think everyone loves the sweet sound of...


I don't care how downtrodden the economy is, who or how many people have taken steroids, or what the outlook of your favorite team is. There's something special about pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training. I've actually talked myself into this years Braves team, and have my fingers crossed that they sign Bob Abreu or Adam Dunn on a one year $4 million deal. More on that in a second.

-Here's one man's opinion of the A-Rod situation. I think it's great that he admitted to something, instead of apologizing for nothing (Giambi), denying it (Clemens and Bonds) or some other lame statement. But his whole, "the truth has set me free" and acting like he was coming forward with this info is the biggest steaming pile of crap that I've ever heard. Yo, A-Rod. You got busted! You aren't volunteering this information. You got caught and now you are just trying to cover your ass. Also, his claims that Selena Roberts has been stalking him and breaking into his apartment is apparently completely bogus, if you believe Roberts.

-I'm sick of the Steroids Era. Here's the list of players that I know didn't take steroids:

I'm pretty sure that Greg Maddux was not on the juice, but at this point no one gets the benefit of the doubt. Let's just move on. Bud Selig was practically visiting McGuire and Sosa at their lockers during the summer of '98 and making sure they had taken their daily dose of roids. Hitters on the juice were hitting homeruns off of pitchers on the juice. The fact that Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, and Alex Rodriguez will never get into the Baseball Hall of Fame is a flat out joke. Their careers happened, they were incredible players with or without the roids, and you cannot begin to mention the history of baseball without those three guys. That's my take on that.

-I've talked myself into this Braves team. I like their pitching, whether or not Tom Glavine accepts their $1 million dollar offer. Derek Lowe may have a ridiculous contract, but now that the ink is dry and there is nothing that can be done about it, I like what he brings to the team. Last year, the Braves had far too many games where the starter got knocked out in the 3rd or 4th inning and the bullpen got severely overworked. I REALLY would like to see them take some money that they say they still have to spend and go sign Bob Abreu or Adam Dunn. Right now, the starting outfield is Jeff Francouer (ugh), Josh Anderson or Gregor Blanco in CF (unless Jordan Schafer blows up this spring) and Matt Diaz in left. That is not a contending outfield. That unit will be lucky to hit 30 homerruns combined. Anyway, with the state of the Braves in recent years, I feel like a Royals or Pirates fan heading into spring training. I've talked myself into the offseason moves and if everything breaks right I could see the Braves in contention in August. In reality, they will probably be in 4th place by the All Star Break.

-I just wanted to throw my two cents in on this Irish basketball season. I think the problem has been twofold. One, the system and personnel has gotten stale. Kyle McAlarney has been running off screens for it seems like 5 years. Everyone in the Big East knows that. He has never developed a dribble drive game, and the offense has not really changed at all since Brey has been here. Brey hasn't really introduced any new players in two years. You just can't do that in the Big East. With the emphasis that teams like Louisville, Pitt, Georgetown and UConn place on defense, you have to constantly be reinventing either your system or your personnel. Brey has done neither. The second problem is the talent level. Comparing our roster to the aforementioned teams and even those like Nova and Marquette is a joke. Look, I'm sure that Ayers and Hillesland are tremendous guys and student athletes. But they just aren't good enough to be key pieces on championship caliber teams. They are fine as 6th, 7th or 8th men. Brey has to find a way to upgrade the talent pool. We need guys like Jerel McNeal or Terrence Williams, slashers or guys that hit the boards relentlessly. I think that Brey can still get this thing turned around long term, but he has to get Nash and Scott as many minutes as possible this year. Time to thank Ayers, Hillesland and Zeller for their contributions and give them each about 15-2o minutes a game.

-Lastly, I had to give my thoughts on the Sixers. First, I couldn't have been more wrong about Marreese Speights. The guy is going to be a star. I had heard that he had weight issues and character issues while at Florida. When I went to a game at the O-Dome last March, the locals booed him off the court for lack of hustle and dumb fouls. Everybody was hoping he would go pro so they could be rid of him. But I give him credit. He has been a team player and is in great shape and is producing big time. A core of Speights, Dalembert, Iguoudala, Thad Young and Lou Williams is pretty solid. Unfortunately, there is the huge contract of Elton Brand sitting on the books. He is a square peg in a round hole. Everyone already realizes it's not going to work, but they really can't do to much about it at this point. He is an aging power forward who has now missed most of the last two seasons. Not exactly great trade material.

-If there has been a better performance than LeBron's 52-9-11 in the non-Jordan category in the last 20 years, I'm not aware of it. The fact that he is only 24 is just scary. Is there any doubt that he will be the greatest of all time? Despite the loss to LA, I still think the Cavs win the championship this year.


Doug said...

Adam Dunn is now a Washington National, so cross him off the list! I bet they are dancing in the streets of DC over that signing. Or not.

Trying to figure out if I like what the Braves have done in the offseason or not. They definitely opened up the pocketbook a little bit, but was it money well spent?? I'm assuming that going all-in on Lowe and Vaquez is going to keep them out of the free agent derby for next year.

I like Derek Lowe, but I've had him on my fantasy team a couple times and can say from personal experience with him that he was a major product of Dodger Stadium. I don't think I started him once outside of Dodger Stadium because he was a borderline certainty to go 3.1 innings and give up 5 runs. His ERA was in the mid 4s on the road last year, and even that was aided by the fact that he pitched in Petco and San Fran. Lowe is almost 36 years old. I just think it's risky to give out big dollars to a 36 year old guy who doesn't strike a lot of people out and consistently has an ERA in the mid 4s when he isn't playing in the cavernous Dodger Stadium. I feel like he could revert to being league average now that he's a Brave. And if that happens, you just locked yourself into a ton of mediocrity.

I actually like the Vazquez move to some degree since he still strikes a ton of people out and eats innings like crazy, but even Vazquez is a guy who has had exactly one season of sub 4.00 era since 2003. Is he an upgrade over what they had?? Yes, but is he a long term answer?? No.

In a vacuum, I like both moves, but they will look awful if the Braves aren't contenders this year. The older those two get, the more they become anchors on the roster. NO ONE is going to be taking Lowe's contract off the Braves' hands in a couple years, and the Braves don't seem to have the unlimited pocketbooks these days to just write a move like that off.

I like the Braves' rotation if Jurrgens pitches well again. What's the word on this Kawakami guy?? If Hudson comes back healthy at some point in the second half of the year and Glavine signs, that would be a pretty strong 1-5.

That lineup looks putrid though. Kotchman is Sean Casey Jr, and you pretty much know Chipper Jones is going on the DL at least once or twice. The only saving grace would be if Frenchie rejuvenates his career.

Who knows though in baseball. If you get pitching, you can compete. The Braves need Lowe and Vazquez and Jurrjens to be studly.

Doug said...

I think your point about Brey's failure to reinvent this team before the year is the best summation I've read about the 2008-09 basketball season. As you point out, it's the Big East! There are top 20 programs all over the place. Does anyone think that Calhoun and Pitino and Dixon aren't watching a little tape in the offseason and preparing game plans?? I read an article about Thad Matta and his staff the other day, and it blew me away how much game planning and scouting they do. College basketball is not some rec league.

We had a bullseye on our back all offseason, and did nothing to present a fresh look. It's almost as if Brey thought he could roll the balls out and win again just because we had the same roster and were a year older (I fear that we might see the same thing in football this year, but that's a separate topic).

We had a chance to be a really good team this year, and we blew it. Brey needed to be thinking about using Nash and Scott as soon as he sat down to create an offseason plan last year. And if these guys weren't any good, then why wasn't he recruiting anyone over the last couple years who could come in and contribute?? Not a good job with roster management. He has known for 4 years that Zeller and Hillesland were not low post guys, but we did nothing to bring in some low post help for this year. No athletes plus a lack of low post guys has made us extremely limited, and it has hurt McAlarney and Harangody.

Extremely disappointing season. Next year will be a new look and maybe an opportunity to start fresh, but it will take a long time to get over this season.