Tuesday, October 31, 2006

NBA Tip-Off

NBA basketball returns tonight with two marquee matchups -- Heat vs. Bulls followed by Suns vs. Lakers. Here is my projected Top 5 for the season.

1. Phoenix
If Amare returns to full strength, he joins two-time MVP Steve Nash, Raja Bell, Shawn Marion and Boris Diaw on a team team that went deep into the playoffs last year. Amare gives them a chance at making it all the way to the finals ... and winning.

2. San Antonio
Tim Duncan is rested and Tony Parker was among the league-leaders in points in the paint last year.

3. Miami
Nothing changed, but Shaq and the aging supporting cast are all another year older. Dwyane Wade is going to win an MVP this year, especially if this team reaches the NBA Finals again.

4. Dallas
Another Finals team which returns all its key players. It'll be a similar story in Big D, with Big Dirk putting up MVP-type numbers. If DeSagana Diop really added a shadow of an offensive game, as some experts are saying, this team would move up in the rankings.

5. Detroit
They're the Patriots of the NBA. The talent is there (Tayshaun Prince, Richard Hamilton, Rasheed Wallace and Chauncey Billups). So is the on-court leadership (Billups). But while they may run out 5 guys who can score instead of 4, the departure of Ben Wallace still hurts.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Fantasy NBA Draft

On Saturday, for the second straight year, I attempted a live online NBA fantasy draft. Here's how it went down --

-- Rounds 1 and 2: The school internet is kicking people offline and loading slower than ever before. Perfect timing. My time runs out for both rounds, and the Yahoo! rankings kick in. My team automatically drafts the highest ranked players available. First, I get Dirk. No complaints. It's a rotisserie league, so I need somebody who can do multiple things, like score, shoot a high percentage, rebound and hit three's. Second, the computer takes Chris Bosh for me. I'm not thrilled, but he shoots for a surprisingly high percentage and had a monster year last year.

-- Round 3: Still only two live people in the draft room. With my pick, I take my third PF, Dwight Howard. An absolute beast. Easily the best player remaining.

-- Round 4: This is ridiculously hectic without live players to think things over. I'm on the clock almost immediately thanks to fast computer picks. Tony Parker and his high FG% and FG made fall into my lap with my fourth pick. One of the guys I wanted as part of my pre-season "All-Everything Team." Along with guys like Dirk, Parker is good for most stats at his position.

-- Round 5: Richard Hamilton. I love this guy. My team so far has an incredible collective post-up game and pull-up jumper.

-- Round 6: David West, an up-and-coming PF who averaged over 17 ppg last year and can actually hit some free throws. So much for going with guards. All the very strangely ranked players continue to go to teams whose managers missed the draft. I had a bad dream that C-Webb would be my starter, but he's gone to some unlucky opponent. Damon Stoudamire, AI2 and Derek Fisher all come off the board. It's funny considering how many good players I take after these guys, like...

-- Round 7: Andres Nocioni. I need a SF, and he fills that hole and my need for a three-point shooter (93 last year). The draft is now 17 minutes old and we're on to Round 8 of 14. My brain hurts.

-- Round 8: More recognizable names that I'd never draft are taken: BD, Ridnour and Battier. I'm feeling lucky until Emeka Okafor is selected. That leaves me with a tough choice -- Krstic or bite the bullet longer on a center and take a shooter? Krstic it is (13.5 ppg, 6.4 rpg, and two pass-first PGs on his team. Sure to improve).

-- Rounds 9 and 10 land me two of the skinniest players available in Tayshaun Prince and Shaun Livingston. They also have similar first names. I know these are all important things Fate is showing me because, as soon as I select Livingston, the sun comes out for the first time all day. These guys are gonna make all the difference.

-- Round 11: *Please let Channing Frye stay on the board, please let Channing Frye stay on the board.* Marvin Williams is selected. I laugh. Channing Frye is mine! BOOM!

-- Rounds 12 and 13: I gamble on Cuttino Mobley as a last-resort shooter and Chris Wilcox as an extra PF to aid a few trades. Matt Bonner is ranked ahead of Kenyon Martin (?!) but both stay on the board.

-- Round 14: Final round. Young guard Kevin Martin of Sacramento is mine. I'm grossed out by the hitch in his shot but he can hit from deep and is a solid sleeper pick. He'll got some serious PT this year, too.

4:38: End draft. I'm exhausted. I feel like I've just run a marathon. I collapse and have bad dreams of the team with Ray Allen and D-Wade tearing me apart.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Check Out Metsfanbook.com

Mets fans -- here's a book written entirely for you. Author Dana Brand's new book and blog are worth a look. As he claims, his work is "a book for Mets fans that doesn't treat us like morons."

Check out his site, www.metsfanbook.com, and his related blog, http://danabrand.com/blog/.

I still can't believe that neither New York baseball team is in the World Series right now. But at least I have the Knicks to fall back on. What? Why are you laughing? What'd I say?

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Kenny Rogers -- Part of a Cheating Culture?

I just watched a segment on ESPN's Sportscenter involving the Baseball Tonight crew, which now consists of anchorman Karl Ravech and analysts John Kruk, Peter Gammons and former Cubs manager Dusty Baker. As they commented on the brown substance which Fox cameras caught on the pitching hand of Kenny Rogers during Game 2 of the World Series, they admitted something to the cameras into which Ravech failed to dig deeper. They essentially admitted that baseball is a game of cheating.

When Ravech asked his analysts whether other pitchers in the Series would be monitored more closely, Kruk and Baker (both former players) made some curious comments. Both agreed that pitchers in the World Series will now need to hide the pine tar which, the analysts claimed, is almost inevitably used. Kruk stated that Rogers is not the only pitcher we'll see using pine tar in the Series, and that you only really cheat if you get caught. He further hinted that corked bats are something which players get away with (unless, like Sammy Sosa, the bat breaks and its secret spills out).

Baker agreed with his portly partner, stating that the only worry of the opposing players is that the pitcher isn't using a foreign substance (such as sandpaper, which Kruk referenced) to cut or alter the ball in order to put irregular movement on pitches. That, said Baker, is the players' chief concern. They're not worried about the pitcher gripping the ball with pine tar.

Although Ravech did not pursue these statements, I was intrigued. Everyone knows that baseball has always been a game of cheating, of gaining that slight edge. Foreign substances on balls, too much pine tar on bats, corking bats, stealing signs or taking steroids -- in this game of inches, everything is designed to give you a few more, whether on a curveball or fly ball.

Think of it this way -- if the players believed that Rogers was cheating (and Tony LaRussa admitted he noticed a substance which was not dirt, so how could the players not see it?) then they would have been furious. The championship is on the line, so anything the opponent does against the rules (supposedly) would drive them mad. Unless, of course, this rule is continually broken. And unless there is an unspoken culture of cheating throughout the sport.

The only question I want answered is, Do fans really want to know?

Monday, October 23, 2006

It's a Cruel, Cruel World

I thought that losing in four games to the Tigers was the low point of being a Yankees fan this season. I thought very wrong.

Following the Yanks' quick exit, the death of Cory Lidle shocked the team, the fans and all of baseball. There is no human being with any trace of a soul who could joke about this situation, regardless of what team they root for.

Then, on a much less serious level, Joe Torre nearly lost his job. Next, two Yankees castoffs and former playoff busts squared off in Game 2 of the World Series. To make matters worse, both have pitched brilliantly all postseason. Before allowing 3 runs to the Tigers, Jeff Weaver had an ERA under 3.00. His last Yankee memory was an inning of relief in which he surrendered a game-winning home run to then-Marlins shortstop Alex Gonzalez. In the opposite bullpen was Kenny Rogers, who increased his scoreless inning streak in this year's playoffs to 23. To do that, he pitched eight scoreless innings of two-hit ball.

The final blow on Sunday was the article run by ESPN.com. In it, Bob Klapisch describes how A-Rod (yes, A-Rod is still in the news) failed to attend Lidle's memorial service in California last week. Great. Just great.

Is it basketball season yet?

Saturday, October 21, 2006

The Weird Wild World Series

Show me an expert who predicted this World Series. Seriously. I'd love to meet this guy and pick his brain, because he's an absolute genius. There are times I think weather men and fortune tellers and have it easier than Peter Gammons.

Detroit and St. Louis were among the worst in baseball at the end of the regular season. The Tigers lost their division lead to the Twins on the final day, and the Cardinals finished the season with the pulse of a cabbage, nearly making history with their late collapse. And now both of these teams are in the World Series. That means one will be crowned the best team in all of baseball.

Oh, and the Red Sox finished with a better record (86-76) than the NL champions (83-78). That kills me.

Since this postseason has taught us one very important thing -- that predictions just don't apply during the playoffs -- logic dictates that I make a few predictions of my own for Game 1:

-- Tonight's Game 1 winner will score at least 1 more run than the loser.

-- The winning team tonight will record the final out of the game.

-- Jim Leyland will smoke at least 2 packs in the clubhouse between innings.

-- David Eckstein will have absolutely no need to shave before the game.

-- The world will end if either Leyland or Tony LaRussa so much as attempt a smile.

-- Tim McCarver will mispronounce at least 7 names.

-- Magglio Ordonez's hair will consume 10 hot dogs, 14 pretzels and 3 fans should he dive into the stands.

Ladies and gentlemen, your World Series competitors are ... the Tigers and Cardinals. I'll give you a moment to let that sink in. I'm gonna go repeatedly shut my head in a closet door...

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Good Luck, Mets

Game 7. Mets vs. Cardinals. NLCS. Winner goes to the World Series. Loser goes home.

A perfect time to rely on a pitcher playing in his first postseason following a 3-13 regular season with a 6.55 ERA. Right? Sure, Oliver Perez (shown above) was a potential star in 2004, when he struck out 239 batters, but since then he's had ERA's consistently over 5.85 during seasons with the Pirates and Mets. And he's only been on the Mets for 2 1/2 months to begin with.

Before Mets fans get all upset and point to his last postseason start (also his first appearance in the postseason in his six-year career), let's take a step back and look at reality. I know fans tend to idealize their own, which is okay by me. But Perez boasts a 1-0 record with a 7.94 ERA this postseason thanks to a 5.2 inning, 9 H, 5 ER performance in Game 4 of this LCS. The power lefthander only struck out three while allowing three homers in the game. Sorry to say -- not Game 7 material.

As a safety net, Willy Randolph will turn to long-man Darren Oliver, who pitched well during the regular season (4-1, 3.44 ERA, 81 IP, 70 H) but did not make a single start. Not to mention the fact that he's 36 going on 60 and is far from a power pitcher, striking out only 60 in his 81 innings. Last time we looked, teams prefer power pitching out of the bullpen in tight spots during the postseason. They're more effective and take away the threat of game-tying rallies thanks to their ability to strike out opponents. (I know, I know, Mets fans -- Billy Wagner. I know.) That's why Oliver isn't exactly the best replacement should Perez falter. Can't wait to see the veteran lefty float a changeup high in the zone to Albert Pujols. It'll be like hitting a beach ball for the big first baseman.

The good news is that it's Game 7, where anything can happen and nobody is unavailable, save for Game 6 starters. The bad news is that Perez, Oliver and the Mets are facing Jeff Suppan, who aside from hitting a homer in Game 3, three-hit the team through eight scoreless innings.

Those munching sounds you hear are Mets fans chomping away at their nails. Should be a fun Game 7.

Monday, October 16, 2006

College Basketball: Potentially Disastrous

College basketball is facing a potential disaster. Yet most fans across the nation during Midnight Madness this past Friday were oblivious to what they were witnessing. For college basketball fans, the first night of official practice celebrates the return of their sport and their teams. The slate is clean, the recruits have arrived and the upperclassmen (what's left of them) are ready to go out with a bang. The beauty of Midnight Madness and the college basketball season is that hope that your team can make some noise in the conference, grab a bid to the NCAA Tournament and either contend or upset a few higher seeds.

Well, it's time to face reality -- if fans witnessed a potentially great team during Midnight Madness, chances are they'll never see their expectations met. For some, that sounds cynical. But for early-entrants into the NBA draft, that sounds like the cash register busting open. Why? Because these players are cashing in on their basketball "potential," and it's detracting from the sweet game of college hoops.

I'm prepared to face the harsh reality of the sport as it affects my team, the UConn Huskies. This year's squad, led by Hall of Fame coach Jim Calhoun, has a chance to win back-to-back titles down the road. The Huskies have 13 players on its official roster -- five sophomores and eight freshmen. Most of them won't be amateurs anymore in one or two years, but imagined if they stayed. Imagine a team of five juniors and eight sophomores next year, five seniors and eight juniors two years from now, or eight seniors in three years time. Nobody in college basketball today has that kind of upperclass experience and talent. And nobody will win consecutive titles because of it.

UConn fans are drooling over their incoming recruits, led by 7-3 Tanzanian center Hasheem Thabeet (billed as a more athletic version of Dikembe Mutombo by some), yet they'll hardly stay long enough to whet the fans' appetites. Additionally, sophomore AJ Price will finally suit up after a two year hiatus from competitive basketball (one due to bleeding in his brain and the other following his involvement with stolen laptops on campus), but don't expect him to fulfill his potential before entering the draft.

UConn fans are not alone either, as others will lose their young stars before they know it. These stars include Ohio State center Greg Oden, Texas swingman Kevin Durant, and Arizona forward Chase Budinger, among others. All freshmen. All potentially great. All flashes in the college pan.

Since NBA teams draft on potential, players like Thabeet and Price merely need to stay healthy, and they will all but guarantee themselves a few million. It's like playing college basketball is just a chance for these players to move up in the all-important draft order. Rudy Gay had a disappointing season last year for the Huskies, but you can find him in a Grizzlies uniform now making a few million dollars more this year than last. Everything is based on a player's potential.
So here's a "potential" change -- judge all games and awards on potential, too. Award the national title based on who looks best on paper. Give the Wooden Award to the player with most potential and the Final Four MOP to the potentially-greatest player on the potentially-best team. There, done and done. At least UConn would achieve the national success it's destined for ... potentially.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Conventional Wisdom Notwithstanding

It finally happened. I'd be lying if I claimed that I didn't want to say "I told you so." Every good thing must come to an end, especially when that thing involves the baseball team in Detroit. The Tigers' youth and inexperience was bound to catch up to them eventually. This is, after all, the Champioship Series, a time when seasoned playoff veterans matter more than the young and energetic.

No one should be surprised that Detroit folded to the A's in the ALCS. You just can't expect 23-year-old Justin Verlander, who crossed into 200 IP territory for the first time in his career, and 21-year-old Joel Zumaya to keep throwing video-game-quality smoke for strikes. One hundred-and-sixty-two games and the excitement of the postseason for young fireballers make for tired arms and wild pitches. Let's not forget about the 42-year-old Kenny Rogers, whose creaks and groans could only be iced-and-massaged away for so many games before he fell apart completely.

And how long could this lineup keep hitting anyway? Everyone knows free-swingers like the Tigers fall early in the playoffs. Their leadoff hitter, 25-year-old center fielder Curtis Granderson, K'ed 174 times this season! How could they possibly get any offense going against pitchers like Barry Zito, Rich Harden and Dan Haren of the A's? Not to mention the Tigers lost their only left-handed power threat after first baseman Sean Casey injured his calf on a swing.

The cards of conventional wisdom were stacked against the Tigers, and even though they became the feel-good story of the Majors this season, it wasn't realistic to expect them to keep winning under the circumstaces. Baseball is a game of sure things -- nobody can come back down 0-3 in a series, no catcher can ever win a batting title with the modern schedule, and no free-swinging, overly-energetic, extremely young (or old) players will ever lead a team to the World Series. All that Tiger smiling and shoulder-bumping was destined to be short-lived this postseason. So let's tip our caps to Detroit and wait a few years before we celebrate their return to the ranks of truly successful teams in Major League Baseball. Detroit, we are all sorry to see you go, but it was all too easy to see coming.

What's that you say? They swept the A's? Yeah ... yeah, right.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Kicking Off a Career

Congratulations to Boston College walk-on Steve Aponavicius (shown above, during practice). The soccer player-turned-kicker played in the first football game of his life on Thursday night, converting on all four kicking attempts (two field goals and two PAT) to help the Eagles defeat Virginia Tech, 22-3.

After missing three extra points in two weeks this season, struggling starting kicker Ryan Ohliger was suspended after finally connecting on a kick ... to somebody's face in a bar fight. In stepped Aponavicius (that's AH'-pah-nah-VIH'-chis ... but we'll just call him Steve). "All of it was fun. Every minute of it," said Steve to ESPN.

A year ago, Steve was wearing a slightly different uniform, sitting front and center in the student section, face painted and "BC Superfan" emblazoned across his chest as per the student uniform during home games. Fastforward to Thursday and Steve can be seen kicking 36-yarders against Michael Vick's alma mater during a perfect football debut. Said one BC junior: "The man can kick." He certainly can, sir -- he's your new kicker.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

5 Questions the Mets Need to Answer

In tonight's NLCS opener between the Cardinals and the Mets, everything appears to favor New York. The Cardinals nearly made history with a late-season collapse then struggled to put away the Padres once the playoffs began. The Mets, on the other hand, waltzed through the regular season and then swept the Dodgers in three games. Yet not all that shimmers is gold. Here are five questions the Mets need to answer as the Championship Series begins:

1) Can the Mets continue to win without major production from Jose Reyes? Reyes needs to improve on his NLDS numbers (.167 BA, .286 OBP, 1 SB, 1 CS) if the Mets want to keep advancing. The pressure and the opponent are both greater in the NLCS, and the Mets need Reyes to start getting on base and distracting the Cardinals' pitchers with his speed.

2) Will Cliff Floyd be ready to go? With his aching hamstring raising questions about the sluggers status, New York needs to find a replacement should Floyd remain out for the series. With an overload of powerful lefties (Delgado, Beltran, Green, and Valentin), his leadership and experience is needed more than anything.

3) Will Billy Wagner come through in the big game? It was clear all season that Mets fans don't entirely trust their closer in tight games. In the Division Series, Wagner allowed one run in the first game to pull LA within a run, yet shut them down the rest of the series. If his control is there and he doesn't overthrow his fastball, he's reliable. If not, things could get interesting.

4) Can John Maine duplicate his NLDS Game 1 start (4.1 IP, 6 H, ER)? The Mets are without El Duque and Pedro and must rely on their bullpen for success, but with the pressure jacked up in the Championship Series, Maine needs to maintain his poise and hand the game over to the Mets' reliable 'pen. If the Cardinals hope to steal away home field advantage, hitting Maine early and often in Game 2 could be their best hope.

5) Who will be the unsung hero of the bench? In all postseason games, big hits can come from pinch-hitters and role players who the managers can strategically use to counter the opponent's pitching (lefty on lefty, righty on righty, defensive replacements, etc.). In the National League, with pitchers hitting and with weaker hitting prevalent, these guys become even more important. The Mets' have options, but it remains to be seen who can come through off their bench, consisting of IF Chris Woodward, OF Michael Tucker, 1B Julio Franco, OF Endy Chavez, and C Ramon Castro.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

The Joe Torre Story

First of all, let me say that I'm sick of these potentially-dominant teams crapping the bed. The 2006 Yankees and their "greatest lineup ever" joins the 05-06 UConn Huskies and their five NBA picks who couldn't beat George freakin' Mason as the most underachieving group of spoiled athletes ever.

Now on to Joe Torre. He shouldn't lose his job. Period. But if he does, there's one mold he would fit into perfectly: middle-of-the-road teams looking to get over that hump, whether it's the brink of a playoff run or the edge of a World Series. Take a look at Torre's most successful years as Yankees manager. Championship teams in 1996, '98, '99, and 2000 all lacked the ridiculous star power of the current team. Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera and Roger Clemens (in '99 and '00) were the only players on these rosters which are first-ballot Hall of Famers.

Torre's best teams had no monstrous home run threats and no 60-steal speedsters. They used a combination of bunts, sac-flies, timely hitting and the occassional longball to win four rings in five years. The roster wasn't laden with All-Stars like the 2006 lineup ("greatest" of all time, my ass). They had one or two key players and a group of guys willing to do anything to win.

I don't think Torre could turn around a Kansas City or Tampa Bay. But teams who need one extra ingredient could use a guy like Torre -- someone to handle any drama and coach fairly and with poise. Talented teams on the edge of success are out there (Houston, Philadelphia, Minnesota, Oakland, LA Dodgers, Cincinnati, to name a few) but here's hoping Torre stays in New York.

Friday, October 06, 2006

"I Know Him!"

Don Mattingly, who needs no introduction, has launched his new baseball and softball-product company, Don Mattingly Baseball. The reason I'm showing you his site is because the CFO, Jim Falco, is my good friend Jimmy's father. He's the man. Also, Don Mattingly is the man. He's Donny Baseball. How much of the man are you when they use the sport you play as part of your nickname? Is there a Vladimir Hockey? How 'bout a Dwyane Basketball? No, no there isn't either one. Don Mattingly is, was, and always will be baseball (and now softball bats and stuff too, I guess...)

Thursday, October 05, 2006

I Love Rain Delays

Yesterday's rainout between the Tigers and Yankees was something I had been looking forward to for awhile: a rainout of a nationally-televised game. This isn't the YES Network, where the regularly-scheduled programming can be replaced by Yankeeography, and it's not NESN, where the network could simply play Red Sox Classics (ever notice how they're either the 2004 playoffs or games against the D-Rays?). This was national television, ESPN, the biggest series in the ALDS.

What's not to love about yesterday's rain delay coverage? Here's my Top 10 Reasons why I was entertained:

10. Shots of ESPN sideline reporter Bonnie Bernstein sitting in the dugout while players avoid her at all costs. Posada looked absolutely elated to give an interview. I think he was sedated.

9. The creativity of all the analysts. I mean, they need to say the same bit of news a different way each time for two straight hours.

8. Repeated shots of disgruntled fans.

7. Eric Byrnes's hair.

6. Eric Byrnes's admitted "man love" for Derek Jeter.

5. Wild Detroit accusations that New York had inside information and thus saved their players from warming up. (The Yankees could feel the rain! Not fair! We stretched and threw for 10 whole minutes oblivious of it all! Scandal! Outrage! Steroids!)

4. ESPN commercials at 8:45pm which ran, "The ALDS on ESPN -- Monday night at 8!"

3. Passing coverage from Sportscenter, to Baseball Tonight, to the game crew, to Baseball Tonight, back to the game crew, then to Sportscenter, then to Baseball Tonight, and finally to Sportscenter. All I learned in a 45-minute span was that they "hoped" to play the game last night.

2. Barry Melrose. It's opening night in the NHL and nobody on ESPN seems to care except this guy. A rain delay is way more riveting. ESPN anchors have spoken to 20 different baseball analysts, yet poor Barry is in charge of watching 1,000+ NHL games and analyzing them all. He also has a mullet, which definitely needs more airtime.

1. Joe Morgan's repeated attempts at mastering the English language while on national television. Morgan was a great player, but listening to him honestly hurts your head. He butchers names (calling Justin Verlander "Jason"). He shouts into the mic (and I think spits a little, too). He struggles to stay interested while Jon Miller is talking, like a fifth grader in class. Just watch him gaze around the booth, anywhere but directly at Jon Miller and the camera. Classic.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

We're Stuck with Joe Buck...but Bill Simmons Can Help

"Hello, everyone, I'm Joe Buck. You won't be able to get away from me this month on Fox. It's not possible. Trust me, we've made all the necessary precautions. I'm going to be in your life for the next four weeks, day in and day out, like it or not." (Bill Simmons)

I had to do it eventually -- this is the latest article from ESPN's Bill Simmons, who, despite his propensity for watching too much Real World and for rooting way too hard for the Celtics and Sox, is by far my favorite sportswriter. The topic? A running diary of Game 1, Yanks-Tigers, ALDS. At least he provides a brief respite from Joe Buck.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Albert Haynesworth -- Shaming the Game

Forget the MLB playoffs. Forget Monday Night Football. Forget that Monday was Media Day in the NBA (please? I can't handle the Knicks right now...) When an athlete attempts to stab an opponent either to gain an advantage or out of anger and emotion, a quick and severe punishment needs to be leveled. And that's exactly what Titans defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth did on Sunday- attempted to stab an opponent with his cleats. Take a look at the weapon. Cleats just like those were forcibly pounded onto somebody's face.

Haynesworth, following a play in the red zone on Sunday, stomped on the head of Dallas center Andre Gurode. There's no other word which can accurately describe what he did -- following a play, as Gurode lay on the ground without his helmet, he saw the spikes of Haynesworth rise above his forward and promptly fall towards his forehead. Gurode received 30 stitches and Haynesworth received the longest suspension in NFL history for an on-field incident (5 games).

First-year NFL commissioner Roger Goodell should be commended for his swift action and severe punishment. It was well deserved. Said Goodell, "There is absolutely no place in the game, or anywhere else, for the inexcusable action that occurred in yesterday's Titans-Cowboys game."

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Mmm, Mmm, Marketing.

Here's a question for you -- if professional sports is really all about the money, who is the bigger winner? Tom Brady after his first Super Bowl ring or Donovan McNabb, an established star and one-time Super Bowl loser? Just look at television -- McNabb's face appears five times more than Brady's easy, mostly for Campbell's New England Chunky Clam Chowder. That's New England Chunky Clam Chowder.

And what about the much-maligned Alex Rodriguez? A-Rod's quarter of a billion dollar contract is the largest in history. (Yes, that's $225,000,000, or enough Junior Bacon Cheeseburgers from Wendy's to feed Shawn Kemp for a week.) But the Yankees' third baseman is not the highest-paid athlete in all of sports. Tiger Woods tops a list compiled in 2004, "Fortunate 50", earning $86.4 million total. Andre Agassi ($45.7 million), Shaq ($41.7 million), Oscar De La Hoya ($40 million) and Michael Vick ($37.1 million) round out the top five. A-Rod and his history-making contract, combined with endorsements, earned him $26 million in '04, good for Number 11 on the list.

Look again at the players who earn more annually than A-Rod. How often do we see Tiger driving a Buick onto a golf course or Shaq wearing an Icy-Hot sleeve? In professional sports today, with free agency, hold-outs and arbitration, it's all about the money (or mostly, anyway, thanks to a few true winners). So McNabb might end up the bigger "winner" come payday than Tom Brady thanks in part to Campbell's Chowder, even if Brady were to sign a larger deal. For McNabb, that's gotta be mmm, mmm, good.