Friday, February 27, 2009

Redskins Make Big Free Agent Signings

My 'Skins made a huge signing that could help them get over the hump in the NFC East by inking Albert Haynesworth. I like the move very much. My only concern is that he has never played a full season. Sometimes guys of his girth have a tendency to breakdown, especially with offensive guys trying to cut at the knees constantly. But I do like the idea of a building-sized clogger on the defensive line. This move has made a solid D even better. Now if they could only learn to score some points on O.

Another defensive signing that I'm not so psyched about is the 6 year $54 million contract that Washington gave DeAngelo Hall. They already have Carlos Rodgers, Fred Smoot, and Shawn Springs at corner. I don't think Hall is any better than them. Hall has always managed to manufacture a reputation by talking about himself as opposed to with his play on the field. There's a reason Atlanta (and Oakland for god's sake) had no problem letting him go. I suppose there's nothing wrong with having the depth, a rare advantage in the NFL.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Beautiful Day for a Ball Game

There is finally some real baseball to be played today as the Yankees will open their spring training season against the Blue Jays at their place. Pete Abe has the lineup over at his blog. The Yanks wont be on YES until tomorrow when they send Hughes to the mound against the Rays.

All the big boy pitchers are taking their time getting ready for their first starts because the games are starting a little earlier this year because of the WBC. They should start getting into it sometime next week. So let's play some baseball.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

BA Top 100 Released

Baseball America released their Top 100 prospect list for the 2009 season and both the Yankees and the Red Sox have three members among the 100 best in the minors.

Sox first baseman Lars Anderson ranks the highest among both the Yankees and the Red Sox minor leaguers coming in at number 17 but it's a long drop to the next Sox prospect, Michael Bowden, who comes in and number 83 and then Daniel Bard at number 98.

The three Yankees on the list are Austin Jackson and Jesus Montero at 36 and 38 respectively and Andrew Brackman who moved up eight spots from last season to 92 on this year's list.

I think those rankings are pretty fair for all the talent involved though, I think Montero ends up getting a raw deal because nobody ever expects him to still be a catcher by the time he makes it to the bigs. That assumption usually costs him a few spots on everyone's prospect list but his bat is huge if he stays behind the plate. Mike Piazza huge.

Most of the top 100 stuff is free on the Baseball America site, so if you're into following the young guys at all then you should definitely check it out.

Friday, February 20, 2009

A New Perspective on Mark McGwire

Here's another interesting column from Joe Posnanski of Perhaps Big Mac had it right all along.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A-Rod to stand before firing squad

Today is the big day for A-Rod as he and his fellow Yankees stand up before the media. Will he give us all the juicy details? Will he put this issue to rest and allow the Yankees to focus on baseball for once?

Probably not.

Whether it's being a masochist or whether he just has to many people whispering in his ear or maybe he just loves that it's all about him, A-Rod just doesn't know how to act like an average person and put things to bed.

Today could be the last major day of controversy for him or it could be the next step in a long line of incidents that causes the Yanks to self-destruct over the course of the year. Hopefully the fact that Andy Pettitte will remind Rodriguez of how these things should be handled. But probably not.

I may watch the press conference but then again I may just take a nap and wake up when actual baseball stuff happens.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Thoughts on Steroid Admissions

So far the steroid-accused sports star has followed one of two patterns once the news breaks. Pattern numero uno: Lie that you never did it. Then the report comes out. Then there's the denial in the face of overwhelming evidence. Pattern number two: Lie that you never did it. Then the report comes out. Then you admit your PED usage and repent.

But I have often wondered what would've happened if A-Rod had just told the truth a year and a half ago. What if when he was asked the question by Katie Couric, he just said, Yeah, I did some stuff between '01-03. I'm not proud of it and I regret it. I haven't done it since. And he did this not because he had no choice because he got caught, but because it was the right thing to do and he didn't want to lie about it. What would the public perception be then?

Let me just clear up a couple of other things for the idiot media. They're jumping all over him because he said he didn't know what he took. Here's my take. He said he didn't know exactly probably because the stuff has a 17 letter name that he can't recall at the moment. He also probably ordered it by some code name like Rhino Juice or something. Furthermore, by giving the actual steroid name or by even saying the word steroids or drugs he might incriminate himself. And if the Feds want to get you, they'll get you. We all know they love a good witch hunt. That's why he kept saying, "that stuff" or "substance" in the Peter Gammons interview.

Finally, how many irritating nicknames will we see? That bastion of journalism the NY Post gave us A-Hole. I personally like A-Roid, or perhaps HGH-Rod. Is that last one too much of a stretch? Offer up your own.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Confessions of Yankee Drama Queen

Well A-Rod confirmed the Selena Roberts and Dave Epstein story to an extent in his interview with Peter Gammons on ESPN. Rodriguez claims that his only transgressions with steroids occurred in the highly localized time frame of 2001-2003.

I'll give A-Rod some credit for at least admitting that he used steroids but his storyline about trying to live up to his contract will only go so far. His story reads a bit too easy and is far to hazy during all of the important parts for it to be truly believable.

It was a easy choice for A-Rod to admit his use as he has several examples to draw from in the Steroid Era's recent history. I'm sure he and Scott Boras looked at the cases of Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens juxtaposed to the tales of Andy Pettitte and Jason Giambi. It was a no-brainer.

But what is ridiculous is that as A-Rod tries to jump out of the pot he may have just jumped into the fire. During his interview he attacked the co-author of the breaking story Selena Roberts. Now it isn't that surprising that A-Rod would go after Roberts given the fact that she helped break this story and is currently writing a book that supposedly will not paint A-Rod in a very good light.
But it is surprising that he made claims that are quite serious and easily proven or disproved. From the transcript at ESPN A-Rod made these claims:
I mean, what makes me upset is that Sports Illustrated pays this lady, Selena Roberts, to stalk me. This lady has been thrown out of my apartment in New York City. This lady has five days ago just been thrown out of the University of Miami police for trespassing. And four days ago she tried to break into my house where my girls are up there sleeping, and got cited by the Miami Beach police. I have the paper here. This lady is coming out with all these allegations, all these lies because she's writing an article for Sports Illustrated and she's coming out with a book in May.
That's some pretty heavy stuff to throw at someone. Now A-Rod claims to have some paperwork regarding the incident and for his sake I hope he does because right after he said that I'm guessing that the University of Miami and the Miami Beach police probably got a 1,000 phone calls.

I'm not sure why Peter Gammons failed to follow up on that juicy tidbit but I'm sure we will here plenty about it especially since Roberts has already adamantly denied the allegations.

Hopefully this admission of guilt expedites the process and baseball will move on. The more it gets talked about the worse it is for baseball. Hopefully some good things come out of this though. Maybe the MLBPA starts to lose some of its struggle-hold on baseball. Maybe Bud Selig gets fired (I wish but not likely). If anything perhaps baseball starts to really take a look at itself and decides that it doesn't like what it sees and changes are made because fans wont be able to endure much more of this steroid ridiculousness.

Update 9:02: Bad news for A-Rod. Pete Abraham, fresh off of a one week vacation, noted that Selena Roberts was not cited for any of the transgressions A-Rod claims she was. I hope A-Rod has his copies handy.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

The News on Arod

Well it would be hard for someone not to know what is going on with Alex Rodriguez right now. The news of his positive steroid test in 2003 has spread like a wildfire through the Internet, TV and radio. For those of you who somehow missed the story, you can check out the story at SI.

Now my initial reaction was probably the same as most Yankee fans. I was angry. Arod essential destroyed what little faith most baseball fans might have still had in the superstars left over from the steroid era. I was hoping that most of his statistics and ability came naturally and might have erased the stains of Bonds and Clemens.

But it looks like me and anyone else who had faith in him was wrong. Sure Arod had his issues, but none of them were cheating related. None of them were really going to harm the integrity of the game. Now that has all changed and what support Arod was getting from the Yankee fan base may have all but vanished for the time being. I say the time being, because like most fan bases who have controversial figures as an integral part of their team, they learn how to forgive when that player wins them games.

For me, I'm somewhat burned out with steroids. This was the final straw and what is most upsetting for me is that this will ruin baseball for me for the next nine years. Everything the Yankees do and everywhere they go this is going to follow them, overshadowing whatever they accomplish individually or as a team. As much talent as the Yanks have recruited this off-season it will be hard to imagine that they perform up to their ability while this distracts them. There isn't much the Yankees can do about Arod now as they have locked themselves into a Bonds-like situation until his contract runs out in 2017.

It's a dark day in Yankeeland and it will be a long time before the clouds lift away. At least Arod will be in the World Baseball Classic for the better part of Spring Training and Yankee Camp will have time to settle in and ready themselves before the Arod Circus rolls into town. As for me my anger has already subsided. All I can say right now is that I'm disappointed. Watching the Yankees with Arod in the lineup just wont be the same anymore.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Stuper Steelers

The game unfolded the way I expected, more or less. I was starting to get bored in the second half as yellow penalty flags began falling like rain. Fortunately, a riveting 4th quarter more than made up for it.

It's been a long time since I've seen a quarterback duel quite like the one I witnessed last night. Except for that costly interception return for a touchdown, Kurt Warner was phenomenal. Peyton Manning should take notes on how Warner mans up in big games. Warner now has thrown for the most yards in Super Bowl history, passing none other than Joe Montana in the process. He also owns the three biggest games in terms of passing yards. Of course, that is little consolation for him right now, as the only throw he'll remember is that mistake that turned out to be the margin of defeat for Arizona.

Roethlisberger was equal to the task. You just can't get that guy to the ground. This was the most accurate game I've seen him play. He and Santonio Holmes probably should have shared MVP honors. They make a potent combination. The Steelers should try to give Holmes a more prominent role in the offense next season. Their performance is made all the more remarkable by the fact that the vaunted running attack was non-existent. In the first half Holmes helped move the chains as Dominique Rogers-Cromartie gave him a huge cushion on nearly every play. Effectively, that was Pitt's running game.

Though the Steeler D didn't play very well, but it made plays at critical times; the int by Harrison, the strip on the final meaningful play of the game. The Cardinals offense certainly helped with penalty after penalty. It would have been a much different game had Arizona been able to minimize that. You can't kill yourself when you play a defense like the Steelers'.

I think I'm going to take a bit of a hiatus now. There's two months until Opening Day. Peter, I'm sure, will keep you up to date on all the spring training news. I, for one, can only be entertained by that stuff for so long. There's always a big let down for me when football is over. Perhaps I can do something constructive with my Sundays now.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

SB XLIII: Here's how it goes down...

In the first half, Dick Lebeau will come up with a defensive scheme to flummox Kurt Warner.  Warner won't panic or try anything stupid.  However, the Steelers will make a play or two to take the early lead.  Perhaps it will be a turnover or a sack on a big third down.  Or maybe it will be something more subtle like a punt that pins Arizona back and changes field position.  Half time score: Steelers 10, Arizona 3

Nevertheless, the Steeler won't be able to hold Arizona down forever.  The simple fact is that you cannot game plan for Larry Fitzgerald.  His athletic ability will always trump your scheme.  Once or twice Warner will get the time he needs for Fitzgerald to get open, and a Cardinal comeback will start to look plausible.  However, the Arizona D, which has been playing over it's head all post season, will finally give up the big run that they can't afford or blow a coverage that allows Santonio Holmes to get deep.  When Arizona tries to get the points it needs on one final drive, Pittsburgh's D will shut the door.  

Final Score:  Pittsburgh 24, Arizona 17.  Dan's playoff prediction comes to pass (mostly) with the Steelers walking off as champs.