Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Four Questions....on Fantasy Baseball

With the Fantasy Baseball season a month old, I think it is time to answer some glaring fantasy baseball questions.

1) If you had to do the first round of a draft over again, what do you think would be different?
*Well, I still think A-Rod is the first pick in the draft. He's going to hit 40 HRs. But, I can see Hanley Ramirez entering the argument. Reyes would have to drop, because of his streakyness and low average. I wouldn't drop him more than 6th or 7th though. Obviously Rollins would fall out, and I would slip Carl Crawford or B.J. Upton in there. And Johan Santana belongs there as well. He usually sucks in April, but he's been quite great.

2) Is (fill in the blank) for real?
*Well let's go through some of them.
-Pat Burrell will hit 35 HRs.
-Emil Brown will be lucky to reach 70 RBIs
-Xavier Nady hits 20 HRs, nothing more.
-Joe Crede is benched by August.
-Nate McLouth Hits 25 HRs, steals 25 bases.
-Mark Reynolds just misses 30 HRs, eclipses 100 RBIs
-Cliff Lee won't be in the rotation by September. Neither will Carlos Silva.
-Adam Wainwright becomes a Top 15 pitcher.
-Todd Wellemeyer has a 4.00 ERA, and strikes out 150.
-Johnny Cueto will be a roller coaster, while Edison Volquez will walk a lot of batters but win 15.

3) Out of the early season strugglers, who are you most concerned with?
*Besides your DL guys, there's a few that jump out at me. I am worried about David Ortiz, because he seems to be aging pretty fast. I would try to trade him if I could. I think Gary Sheffield is near done. And he doesn't have much trade value to begin with. Andrew Jones is slow, fat, and not motivated. I also think that Carlos Beltran will be more of a headache than a performer.
*As for pitchers, Roy Oswalt has steadily been declining. He doesn't look right to me. A.J. Burnett has talent, but I just sense inconsistency or a few DL trips. Trevor Hoffman's ERA will stay in Todd Jones territory the whole season

4) Who should I pick up off my free agent wire?
*Here's a list of free agents in most leagues who will be better than servicable the rest of the year
C-Chris Snyder
1B-Lyle Overbay
2B-Eugenio Velez
SS-Erik Aybar
3B-Pedro Feliz
OF-Mike Cameron, Fred Lewis
SP-Aaron Cook, Nick Blackburn
RP-Heath Bell

An Introduction to the Man Crush

Beads of sweat trickled down my face as I searched and searched and searched. My mom called me for dinner. I told her to go to hell, of course. This was not a laughing matter, you see. This was serious. Very serious.

It was fantasy baseball draft time and it was the 16th round. And I was choosing between Josh Hamilton and Michael Cuddyer to fill my final OF slot. Now, everyone knows Hamilton has talent. I mean, he hit .292, with 19 HR and 47 RBI in just 90 games with the Reds last year. Cuddyer is a solid player, as well.

But, he just didn’t have the upside that Hamilton did, so I took Josh. Little did I know this was the start of an intense man-crush, a man-crush so intense that it threatened to overtake my man-crush for Kobe Bryant, the best basketball player on earth.

Josh Hamilton is currently hitting .336 with 5 HR and 28 RBI. Whoa. I loved Hamilton’s swing and I knew he was a top prospect from before his druggie days. But, how could I have expected this? I mean, the guy is absolutely tearing it up. How could I not develop a man-crush on him? Going 2/5 with 2 RBIs seemingly every night will do that to a fella.

Fantasy sports is one way you develop a man crush. You develop a relationship with these players. You check on them every day, you develop a bond with them. These are your players. You are free to bench them if they go 0-4 and start them if they rip one out.

I’ve also developed man crushes on players from my favorite teams. Chad Pennington, Laveranues Coles, Jose Reyes, David Wright, Patrick Ewing and John Starks come to mind. I went to war with these players, watched their every game and cheered for them.

Finally, there’s the man-crush on the player that just absolutely awes you with their skill. Kobe Bryant comes to mind instantly. The guy is just unbelievable. He can fly like Jordan, shoot the lights out of the ball, take it to the hoop and defend with passion. Plus, I think Kobe is a pretty good guy despite the crap he did to his wife. At least he came out and admitted it, though. Brett Favre and Ken Griffey, Jr. are other ones. Great guys, amazing players.

A man crush is something different than just liking a player, though. It’s indescribable. When you see this player, you just smile and laugh, because you hope he succeeds in every way possible.

With that, here’s introducing a new weekly feature: Man-Crush of the Week. Josh Hamilton leads it off. Does he overtake Kobe on my man-crush status meter? Not quite. Hamilton has a bit of an advantage because he’s on my fantasy team, but Kobe is one of the best players in history. I make it a point to watch Kobe. However, if Joshie (yes, I call him Joshie now) keeps going 2/5 with 2 RBIs every game, he may just make the move to #1.

(Click The Sports Freakers to visit our home page for other good stuff.)

Meaningless April Baseball Awards Part 2...

I'm back for the National League version of the Meaningless April Baseball Awards. Not meaningless in that the stats and performances don't count, just meaningless in that the players/teams in this list will most likely change next month, and every month thereafter as the season progresses. With that being said, the meaningless National League awards were a bit harder to decide, mainly because there were a lot more standout good (and bad) performances in the month of April. But, because these awards are in fact, meaningless, I guess it doesn't really matter who I pick anyway. So, without further ado...

  • Best Team - Arizona Diamondbacks
    • I don't think their 19-8 record is an April fluke. The Diamondbacks are for real. They have fantastic pitching with two bona fide aces in Brandon Webb and Danny Haren, a possible breakout in Micah Owings, a lefty legend in Randy Johnson (if he can stay healthy), and some prospect named Max that may or may not be the second coming of Jesus himself. If you look at their offensive lineup, its littered with very good young stars in Justin Upton, Conor Jackson, Mark Reynolds, Chris Young, and Stephen Drew. Their only potential problem was the back end of their bullpen, but they have been pretty steady thus far. We'll see what happens, but I do believe they are the best team in baseball, not just the National League
      • Runners Up: Chicago Cubs, Florida Marlins, St. Louis Cardinals
  • Worst Team - Washington Nationals
    • They spent millions of dollars on a brand new ball park, but I guess they forgot that if you don't have a good team to sell, it doesn't matter how nice the stadium is. The Nationals started off great with a walk off home run by Ryan Zimmerman, but ended up only winning nine more games after that. Truth is, outside of Zimmerman and maybe Nick Johnson (who I bet will break his leg or something sooner or later) I really don't see any legit talent on this team. They have a couple of decent young pitchers, but nothing that is even going to come close to competing in the already crowded NL East. 100 losses is likely for the lowly Nationals.
      • Runners Up: Pittsburgh Pirates, San Diego Padres
  • MVP - Hanley Ramirez
    • There are a few well deserving candidates for this one, but I decided to give it to this 24 year old stud because of what team he's on. While the other candidates are all on good teams with other good hitters, Hanley is on the Marlins, who have far exceeded anyone's expectations in the early season. With 8 homers, 18 RBIs, 9 steals, and a .336 batting average, Ramirez seems right on track to set career numbers in every stat. The fact that hes putting up these types of numbers without Miguel Cabrera as protection, makes it even more impressive.
      • Runners Up: Chase Utley, Derrek Lee, Chipper Jones
  • LVP - Ryan Howard
    • What do you get what you have a .177 batting average, 5 home runs, and only 12 RBIs? You get a typical Ryan Howard April. He's a career .237 hitter in the first month of the season. With his ridiculously long, uppercut swing, it just takes this slugger a little while to get going. Still, his 38 strikeouts in 96 at bats means hes whiffing in more than 1/3 of his at bats so far, and he's even admitted that he's not "seeing the ball right." Either way, unless he's hurt, if you don't think that Ryan Howard will have 40-50 homers and around 130 RBIs this year, you simply don't know baseball.
      • Runners Up: Andruw Jones, Carlos Delgado, Kahlil Greene
  • Cy Young - Brandon Webb
    • The Cy Young winner of 2006 is back with a vengeance right now. 6-0, 1.98 ERA, 1.05 Whip! Webb is pitching out of his mind right now. He also out dueled the Cy Young winner of last year, Jake Peavy. Considering how good the Diamondbacks are, I wouldn't be surprised to see Webb's first 20 win season. His 34/14 K to walk ratio in 41 innings isn't half bad either.
      • Runners Up: Jake Peavy, Edinson Volquez, Carlos Zambrano
  • Lame Duck - Barry Zito
    • When the Giants signed him to the absurd contract of $126 Million for 7 years, I'm pretty sure they were looking for a little better than 0-6, a 7.53 ERA, 15 Ks, and 11 walks with a whip of almost 2! Barry's awful month was capped off wih a one way ticket to middle relief. What happened to this pitcher that went 23-5 in 2002? Is he self conscious about the contract, injured, a former steroid user? I guess we'll never truly know.
      • Runners Up? Ublado Jimenez, Tom Gorzelanny, Aaron Heilman

See ya in a month for The Only Slightly Less Meaningless May Baseball Awards...

Cliff Notes: Wednesday April 30, 2008

While 90% of you were finding bugs on the new Grand Theft Auto game and 9% of you were watching American Idol, very little went on in the world of sports.

-I guess Shaq did a lot for the Suns, who got bounced from the playoffs. Let's face it, the Spurs never get talked about and they always stroll along. Maybe the Suns will finally realize that defense will get you somewhere. A little ironic that to get Shaq though, they traded their best defensive player (Shawn Marion).

-Chris Paul is sick. A triple double? What? Are you serious? And he led his team to the next round, taking out the Mavericks. Let's take the modern day PGs for a second(1990-now). In their prime, how would you rank them? Here's how I put them:

1) Steve Nash: He's Chris Paul except a better scorer and as clutch as you can be. Never won a championship though, but I would argue that his team's were vastly overrated)
2) Chris Paul: Funny thing is that he isn't even near his peak! But he's insane to watch, and his speed and scoring ability is unreal.
3) John Stockton: He was a better scorer than even I give him credit for. But I don't know, something about him just couldn't have me put him over Paul.
4) Gary Payton: He will shut you down. He had a very stellar all-around game.
5) Jason Kidd: I think he peaked about 4 times. When you thought he was down and out, he'd do something to wow you.

-Now do you believe the Sixers have a chance? That's the sound of the bangwagon crashing.

-Oh yea, and the Rockets decided to make it a series with a win against the Jazz.

-My fellow bloggers will probably be furiously posting about the Rangers loss last night. My only comment is this: I know everyone loves the goalie (Hendrik Lundqvist, doubtful I spelt it correctly), but after allowing 22 goals in 5 games, maybe its time to stop drinking the love juice for him. See you next year Rangers, cause your not coming back.

-Okay, so Yankee land has learned that Posada is out for a little less than what they thought and A-Rod is out a little longer than what they thought. Look, I never thought you should give an upper 30's catcher a four-year deal, but this is what your going to get. This was the first time Posada was on the DL, and this won't be the last. As for A-Rod, he's had the most mirage of a season.You look at his stats and go "Okay, he's been solid." But if you watch the games, you know otherwise. But he's still A-Rod, and he will still ht 40 HRs. Enjoy Morgan Ensberg!

-Damn you John Smoltz! I trade a good outfielder for a closer in my fantasy baseball league, and now you might come back form the disabled list as a closer. Damn you and making me draft you thinking that your a young 40! Sorry, had to rant.

-The "Why the hell is this pitcher still playing baseball yet doing well" award for today goes to Joel Piniero. You have no business with an ERA under 10.

-The "Why the hell is this pitcher still in the majors and getting saves" award goes to Eric Gagne, who somehow has 8 saves. Shave your stupid beard Gagne!

-What to watch for tonight: I'll give you two. Hawks visit the Celtics. If the Hawks win, I might buy a Mookie Blaylock jersey. And second, Dana Eveland and Ervin Santana square off in a "Loser will be dropped by everyone who was stupid enough to pick them up in fantasy baseball" matchup.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Meaningless April Baseball Awards

If Baseball ended today the four American League playoff teams would be non other than The Chicago White Sox, the Oakland Athletics, The Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays, and The Baltimore Orioles?!? If Baseball ended today the four National League Playoff Teams would be The Arizona Diamondbacks, The Chicago Cubs, The St. Louis Cardinals, and The Florida Marlins?!?

April generally means very little in the grand scheme of an entire baseball season. But, since the first month of the 2008 baseball season is coming to a close in the next couple of days, I figured I would give my input on the highs and lows of the meaningless month known as April.

Now April Baseball isn't necessarily meaningless per say. I mean every game won in April counts the same as it does in July and September, same with every home run hit, and base stolen. However, the stats accumulated either at ridiculously fast paces or obscenely slow paces do not usually represent the stats a player will have at the end of a season. So, take these rewards with a grain of salt because next month they will likely be completely different, and by the end of the season, likely mean nothing at all.

April American League Awards
  • Best Team - Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays
    • I could have said The Oakland Athletics because they have the best record, but the Rays are ending the month on a six game winning streak and a sweep of everyone's favorite team, The Boston Red Sawx. This team is young, fast and talented. They have up and coming stars in BJ Upton, Carl Crawford, Evan Longoria, and James Shields. They have an experienced and rejuvenated closer in Troy Percival. And, they are in first place without their staff Ace Scott Kazmir, American League strike out champ of last year. Realistically, by the end of May, they will likely be closer to third or 4th in the AL East, but the Rays definetly have potential to compete in the future.
      • Runners up: Oakland A's, Baltimore Orioles
  • Worst Team - Detroit Tigers
    • They started off losing 10 of their first 12 games. They rebounded pretty well from this especially with the return of Curtis Granderson, but I give them the worst team award because everyone picked them to win like 120 games this year, and their pitching as already shown its weaknesses. Tigers will compete for a playoff spot, but they are also very overrated.
      • Runner Up: Texas Rangers
  • LVP - Robinson Cano
    • Everyone projected big things from the 4th year Yankees 2B who put up career highs in Home Runs and RBIs last year. He still will probably have a very good year, but for now hes just 15/98 batting a sparkling .153 with 1 HR and 5 RBIs. Perhaps his worst number is his .217 on base percentage. The encouraging thing is that he only has 12 strikeouts in 98 at bats which means hes making contact. I expect Cano to break out any time now, but for April, he was the LVP.
      • Runners up: Kenji Johjima, Jack Cust
  • Cy Young - Cliff Lee
    • Sure he went 18-5 in 2005, but no one expected the kind of start Cliff Lee has had. 4-0, 31.2 innings, 11 hits, 1 earned run, 2 walks, 29 strike outs, 0.28 ERA, 0.41 whip. That is the best statistical start to a season since Roger Clemens in 1991. Opponents are hitting .109 off him! Sure, hes faced Oakland twice, but they have the best record in the American League right now. Yes, he faced Kansas City and Minnesota, but he still has only walked TWO guys. Everyone knows Cliff Lee isn't REALLY this good, but he definitely earns the April Cy Young.
      • Runners Up: Chien-Ming Wang, Zack Greinke, Felix Hernandez
  • Lame Duck - Phil Hughes
    • This pains me to write, but Phil Hughes has had an April to forget. He's 0-3, has only 18 innings pitched, 26 hits, 17 runs, 10 walks, 11 Ks, and an ERA of 7.85. He's 21, and you can tell that hes one good start away from turning himself around, but he had to be rewarded the Lame Duck of April. I still think he can win 15 games this year.
      • Runners Up: Gil Meche, Nate Robertson

I'll be back tomorrow with the April National League Awards...

Top 10...Ways to save Major League Soccer (MLS)

So a few weeks ago, I was called upon to come up with ideas to save Major League Soccer. Why not take my ideas and post them. Please note that 90% of these ideas are unrealistic and downright dumb.

1) Reality Tv Show- Soccer players vie for an MLS contract. Series of skill tests. Bring on MLS stars to teach the players.

2) Market individual platers-Except for David Beckham, no one really knows any other players. Young stars like Jozy Altidore and Taylor Twellman aren't known outside of the hardcore fan

3) Have an MLS team face a Premier League team- It can be a three-game series or just one game. But putting MLS against Man U, Arsenal, etc. would bring some credibility

4) Bring known players into MLS- Theirry Henry, Zidane, Ronaldinho, C. Ronaldo, Droga, Adebayor are all big stars around the world. The first four are very marketable. Billboards, player interviews, etc. To follow along with this, utilize blogs, television, radio as ways of getting their name out. If Beckham can double his team's ticket revenue from one year, imagine what bringing more players in can do.

5) Bring a European team into the MLS- Most likely make it an expansion team, but imagine having a small team from England competing in the MLS? It would definitely bring International exposure and bring more of an "Us against them" mentality.

6) Have a community-owned team- Currently on the Internet, a community of people literally donated money to a website and bought a team. The website votes on lineups, transactions, etc. Even if a community can't own a team, I think having the fans vote for lineups and decisions would bring much more involvement.

7) Make soccer a one-day event- They spread the games out way too much. If you want to do a gimmicky thing and have a Thursday night special every few weeks, fine. But people are confused with when games are.

8) Make games cheaper- There's plenty of empty seats in stadiums. Figure out what seats are consistently empty and slash those ticket prices. I'd rather 0 people sit in the upper deck at $30 a seat than 10 people sit in the Upper Deck at $10 a seat.

9) Talk to players before games- Pick two players a game and have them sign autographs in the parking lot or by the stadium for a 1/2 hour before games. How many times can a sport say they do that?

10) Mic up the players/coaches/referee- AFL(Arena Football) does this and it helped them immensely. Have the viewer feel like he is in the game.


This is a new award ceremony which will be updated weekly where we commemorate the biggest 'clown' of the week.

This week we honor the biggest cry baby in the NBA:

Jason Kidd

Over the years we've seen Mr. Kidd earn more triple doubles then anyone. We have also seen him cry and complain all the live long day.

We could give him the award for that.

We could also give the award to him for being part of a spouse abuse scandal. Once in 2001 where he beat his wife, and was arrested for it, and the other last year where his wife beat him!! Yes, that's right, Mr. Kidd is a battered husband. What a lovely home that is.

We could also give the award to him for comments made right before being traded from the Nets:

"It used to be if I got a triple-double, that was an automatic win," he said. "That's just not the case now. "

WOW, you are the man, Mr. Kidd. I mean you could be the greatest athlete of all time, you fucking pompous prick.

We could also give this award to Mr. Kidd for bringing a high-flying Mavericks team (35-18 before the trade) to an extremely average club (16-13 after the trade), 3 days from being knocked out of the first round.

But we're not.

We are giving this weekly prestigious award to Mr. Kidd for his flagrant 2 foul on Jannero Pargo in Game 4 with 7:16 left in the game, and down by 13. Clearly out of frustration, this clown not only grabs the ball but the entire head of Pargo slamming him onto the floor. His comment after...

"I just tried to foul Pargo, I wasn't trying to hurt him and they called a flagrant two. ... I was just trying to stop him from getting an easy layup."

Stop the layup?! You grabbed his head, you moron. I know both are round, but one is orange and one is black. You knew what you were doing, you scumbag. Mr. Kidd, just be happy you aren't suspended for Game 5.

And congratulations for receiving this award. I hope you get hit by a car on your way to pick it up.

Xavier's the name, hockey's the game

Before I jump into the world of "sports freaking," as it were, I want to sort of set the stage for what you'll be getting out of my particular posts.

I am a huge sports big a sports fan as any of the other five contributors on this blog. We all have slightly varying interests, some different favorite teams (though we're all from the New York Metro area, so figure it out), and different feelings about what goes on in the modern world of sports. However, I consider myself particularly passionate about a couple of sports that fall to the periphery of the spectrum for most American sports fans: hockey and soccer. Later on, I'll rant about the latter...but with the Rangers biggest game of the season looming tonight, I'll stick to the ice.

Now, I was brought up on hockey. I played, coached and refereed the game. The first championship I experienced was the New York Rangers winning the Stanley Cup in 1994. I have been a season ticket holder at Madison Square Garden since the early 2000's when, pardon my French, the team was a collection of absolute shit and was missing the playoffs for seven straight seasons. I sing the Goal Song that we Ranger fans adore and our rival fans despise as loud as humanly possible when a Blueshirt puts the puck in the net. From the months of October to June (hopefully), the Rangers and the NHL are my life.

And even though I am well aware - well aware - that hockey simply doesn't "do it" for a lot of people in this country, particularly in regions which don't experience much cold weather, I still get irked when ESPN decides that the NFL Scouting Combine is a more important story than the NHL playoff race. Hmmm, actual sporting events with outcomes and ramifications vs. MEANINGLESS EVALUATIONS OF COLLEGE PLAYERS RUNNING NON-FOOTBALL DRILLS? What seems more important on the surface? ESPN sets the sports agenda, and quite frankly, they generally do an awful job of it. And by the way, I know why they don't show hockey highlights, but this being a more philosophical discussion, that's simply not the point.

Perhaps what is more frustrating is this. Being in Manhattan everyday, I am afforded the privilege of seeing the back pages of New York City's finest rags, the Daily News and the Post. While both of these are poor excuses for newspapers, they are renown for their sports sections. Some of the best sportswriters in the country contribute to these newspapers. This winter was certainly eventful, but when the dust settled after such happenings as the A-Rod opt-out, the Giants Super Bowl win and the Roger Clemens steroid freak show, you would think the Rangers would receive top-billing in NYC right?

I mean, the Knicks were awful (the Rangers had better local TV ratings than them), and honestly what happens in February in baseball? Phil Hughes threw 40 pitches off the mound (maybe he should have thrown a few more...) before spring training began? How about the Rangers torrid run post All-Star break to seal their 3rd straight post-season berth? Or them blowing a 5-0 lead in Montreal on Feb. 19 but then posting a 7-0-1 record immediately thereafter? Chris Drury and Scott Gomez, the Rangers big splash summer free-agent signings, emerging as the leaders they were expected to be? Henrik Lundqvist receiving a contract extension, playing through distraction while his father in Sweden recovered from a brain aneurysm, and securing his third straight Vezina Trophy (award given to the league's outstanding goaltender) nomination? In a world where the Knicks were sadly disappearing from the consciousness of New York sports fans, the Rangers provided plenty of top-story fodder. At least that's how I see it.

But I am somewhat resigned to the fact that ESPN and the back pages will rarely lead with hockey. Maybe it's better that way. I do know that if the Rangers win the Stanley Cup, they will be the toast of the town here in New York...and damn rightfully so.

Cliff Notes: Tuesday April 29th, 2008

Everyday(or every other day, whenever I have time), I'll give an abbreviated version of yesterday's sports events. Will I talk about everything? Probably not. But I'll pick and choose the nuggets you need to know about. And if I make an error, oh well.

The Notes
-Did you ever get something stuck in your tooth, and you try to get it out, but you just can't? Well, The Atlanta Hawks have become the popcorn kernel. With their victory over the Boston Celtics, the Hawks have evened the series at two games a piece. The Hawks still have about a 20% chance of pulling off one of the biggest upsets in NBA history. But they sure seem to be playing with a lot of confidence. Game 5 should be fun.

-No surprises with the Lakers and Magic both win their series. If I am the Nuggets, I seriously consider moving Carmelo Anthony in the offseason. I feel like he brings a headache when you least need it. Plus, he's never done anything in the playoffs.

-Here we go again with Larry Brown coming back to the NBA. Why are you going back to a bad team Larry? Didn't we go through this with the Knicks. And while Larry comes back, Pat Riley has left. I personally hate Pat Riley. He recognized the Heat were going to be good, so he gets rid of Stan Van Gundy. He takes Van Gundy's team to a championship, and then they suck. So what does he do? He runs away like a little girl. Don't hit yourself on the way out Pat.

-Barry Zito sucks, we know that. The Giants decided that he sucked, and moved him to the bullpen. I guess when your fastball isn't fast and your curveball doesn't curve, your going to be moved. The question I pose to myself is would you rather pat a billion dollars to a guy who will suck for the next 4 years or would you rather pay for a guy who gets hurt and barely pitches for 4 years? I'll tell you this much. I wouldn't want Barry Zito.

-Yankees win and A-Rod gets hurt. He's got the quietest 4 HRs and whatever RBIs this season. Maybe he needs to sit a few games. He's been a lot worse than the stats say.

-And the funniest story of the year goes to Roger Clemens and Mindy McCready. First of all, who is Mindy McCready? Secondly, maybe Mindy was the supplier of the HGH? And thirdly, do you think Roger Clemens will come back this season? Clemens is a complete moron, and if he's never seen in the public again, the world would be a better place.

-If Baltimore and Chicago play a 13 inning game, and its suspended until a later date, do I get Javier Vasquez's fantasy stats from yesterday? Do I have to wait to get it until that later date? Can I trade for Vasquez and get his stats once the game is complete? I bet this is on the mind's of about 800,000 baseball fans.

What to watch for today:
The Champions League is today! That's a soccer event they play between the best team's in the world. What does it mean for the casual soccer fan? Henry
and Ronaldinho face Ronaldo and Rooney. I think Manchester United(Ronaldo and Rooney) wins 4-2. And no, thats not the same Ronaldo that had the headline "Ronaldo has run in with prostitutes." Always nice to wake up to that.

Monday, April 28, 2008

The End of a Dynasty

Twenty-six World Championships plus 40 American League pennants. That is what the New York Yankees have provided since 1903, when they completed their first season of play. After finishing 17-games back of first place, few realized that the franchise would become one of the great teams in the history of sports.

Fast forward to 1996 through 2000; the Yankees were the most-dominant modern force that baseball had ever seen.

But things aren’t what they used to be, and in a time where parity has slowly hit the shores of Major League Baseball, the Yankees have had their share of problems in the past few years. Is the greatest dynasty in modern baseball history fading away?

Remember the infamous Jim Leyritz home run in the 1996 World Series? Paul O’Neil’s gut and grit while his back deteriorated in the last few years of his career? Wade Boggs galloping around Yankee Stadium with every fan in their home was standing in approval? David Cone, and one of the great flyouts ever produced off the bat of Mike Piazza? Those are the lasting images that fans remember of those great Yankees teams. The list goes on and on.

The core nucleus of players during "The Yankee Dynasty" was like none other. Every name brings up a story in a daily conversation among Yankee fans.

But team has taken a turn for the worst with the acquisitions of "stars" such as Randy Johnson, Carl Pavano, Jaret Wright, etc. What is wrong with the New York Yankees?

The problem lies in the fact that Major League Baseball lives in the world of free agency and enormous contracts. The "home-grown" player is no longer an option. The minor leagues should change their name to the Kansas City Royals and the Florida Marlins.

Players are drafted and groomed on those teams, and after they become too expensive, players wait for the highest bidder. That is all fine, but when a pitcher who can’t go more than three innings is added (Kevin Brown?), there is a big problem. That is the type of player that the Yankees have filled their roster with since 2000, the year of their last World Series victory.

2005-2007 have been arguably the most laughable seasons any young Yankee fan has experienced. Jason Giambi went from a machine to a shadow of his former self. If you thought Tim Redding was the name of your local train company, you’re incorrect, because he actually was the starting pitcher of a Yankee game (coincidentally, it was a loss). Two guys who made less money than Alex Rodriguez was given per swing, Aaron Small and Shawn Chacon, were the reason the Yankees were in the 2005 playoffs. That is what this team has become. A guessing game.

Some of the blame game can be put on Joe Torre. He was an outstanding manager during the prime years, making the clutch decisions that were necessary in winning championships. But he also was masked behind a truly remarkable team of chemistry and players who knew exactly what their role was. The past few seasons, it seemed as if Torre decided to manage innings 1, 2, 8, and 9, while taking off the other five innings.

Then there is "The Boss", Owner George Steinbrenner. As payrolls increased and the stakes grew higher, Steinbrenner went away from the Yankee system of building players up from the minor leagues and went to buying them from other teams. If something didn’t go right during a season, not to worry, because he would trade for new blood. And now that The Boss is gone, we get The Boss's son. Judging by his early moments, Little Steinbrenner needs to keep his mouth shut and learn how to run a team.

On paper, the team has brought in plenty of talent in the past few years. The resurrection attempt includes some intriguing names such as Johnny Damon and Bobby Abreu. But isn’t it a problem when one of the best players brought in was not only on the Boston Red Sox, the Yankee’s mortal enemy, but also was someone who once said that he would never play for the Yankees?

They also re-tooled a pitching staff that has been the biggest cause of concern the past seasons. Mariano Rivera has been the great closer he has always been, but he needs help. And then there's Kyle Farnsworth. Considering Farnsworth can’t pitch more than one inning and allows a home run every other batter, things really looked up.

But have no fear, as Phil Hughes, Ian Kennedy, and a man they call Joba have come to save the day. But their ages combined is younger than Jamie Moyer.

Every time spring rolls around, Yankee fans are fed the false confidence that "this will be the year." But it’s the same story that has been written for six years. Struggle in April and May, make a run in June and July, clinch the division in August, take a month off, and then lose to an inferior team in the playoffs because the giant forgot to wake up. Enough is enough.

There’s no argument that every other franchise in Major League Baseball would sign right now to have the type of run the Yankees have had. But, isn’t having expectations of greatness what makes the Yankees... The Yankees ?

Is it finally time to write on the tombstone? Is it over? I hope not. If Cecil Fielder is signed midseason, then all bets are off.

When is it Acceptable to Boo a Player?

Let me start by saying I am a die hard Mets fan. Especially over the past few years with great young talent such as David Wright and Jose Reyes who have already become superstars in such a short period of time.

The Mets also have their fair share of (very) old talent with guys like Carlos Delgado and Moises Alou who have been playing the game since I started following the sport way back when.

With age and experience also come expectations of players. Guys like A-Rod are expected to bat .320 and knock in 45 HRs a year. Guys like Johan Santana are expected to win 18 games and record 220 SOs a year. And what happens when these guys don't do what they are expected to do? Yeah, you guessed right - stupid sports fans (myself included) harass the player with a barrage of boos.

Get real folks - the point of a sport is that NOTHING is guaranteed. But unfortunately, expectations play such a large role in just about everything in life that it is hard NOT to be influenced by an expectation of a certain player. And when that player "underperforms" (which of course is just a word that is based upon expectations), it is hard NOT to be upset and boo them.

But is booing acceptable?? Does it even make sense??

Every baseball fan witnessed A-Rod's "disappointing" 2006 season. He was greeted with a series of boos every time he stepped up to the plate at Yankee Stadium that year. Did anything good come out of it? Did booing help him break out of his "slump"? No. Nothing good came out of booing the best hitter in baseball. It only made things worse. And by the way, taking a look at his 2006 season right now, he had a hell of a year that most baseball players would kill to have. But ah, those damn expectations come into play, and suddenly a fantastic season looks drab compared to what he was supposed to do.

The overall point of this is that not even a full month into this season, I, as a Mets fan, have already witnessed 3 players get booed. Johan Santana, Aaron Heilman, and most of all, Carlos Delgado, have gotten booed on at least 1 occasion. Regardless of whether or not these guys have been off to a good start this season, booing them won't help matters. I, for one, honestly think Aaron Heilman is going to have a mental breakdown everytime he comes out to pitch. And booing Johan Santana is just plain wrong. I would have been embarassed if I was one of the fans in the stadium that day when he got booed after giving up 4 runs in 6.2 innings.

Expectations of a players performance are inevitable. We are all going to look at the top players and expect a lot from them. But when they "underperform", just realize they are human, and what makes sports so great is inconsistencies of it. Stop the crying and the booing, because it ain't gonna help.

Go New York Go New York Go

It really doesn't feel like too long ago that those seven words sung by the infamous Jesse Jaymes meant so much to a team and a city. In 1994, This stupid little song mixed by a rapper most known for his song "Shake It (Like a White Girl)" blared over radio stations and Madison Square Garden. It became an anthem for the New York Knicks I used to love.

I'm not talking about Isiah Thomas and James Dolan's Knicks. Not the team that has collectively gone 214-360 since 2001. Not the team that has wasted countless millions on fantastic players such as Jerome James, Eddy Curry, Quentin Richardson, and Stephon Marbury. Not the team that has essentially alienated an entire fan base and has become the laughing stock of the NBA. Not the team that had a coach that was SO guilty of sexual harassment, the plaintiff won $2.5 Million more than she sued for. And not even the team that hires a new president, fires said head coach yet for some reason keeps him on the payroll as an "advisor." What the hell is that all about anyway?

I'm talking about the New York Knicks I grew up with. The Team that I can honsetly say was the first sports team I was ever a die hard fan of. I'm talking about the team that had Pat Riley and Jeff Van Gundy as their coach. The team that had players that actually tried such as Charles Oakley, John Starks, Anthony Mason, Derrek Harper, Marc Jackon, and later on Allan Houston, Larry Johnson, and Charlie Ward. I'm talking about Patrick Ewing's New York Knickerbockers.

I will always remember the dog fights in the playoff with the Chicago Bulls, Miami Heat, and the Indiana Pacers. I cried when every year the brilliant Michael Jordan beat them every year. I jumped when John Starks flew through the air and dunked over the entire Chicago Bulls team. I watched in awe as Patrick Ewing faced off against Hakeem Olajuwon. I laughed when Jeff Van Gundy hung on to Alonzo Morning's leg. I wanted to kill Reggie Miller as he held his hands over his throat. I stared in disbelief and as Larry Johnson hit his four point play, and I even put my arms in his retarded LJ sign (who didn't?).

The point of this trip down memory lane is that The New York Knicks were a staple of my childhood. The Knicks have to be good eventually again, right? Hopefully, the hiring of Donnie Walsh and the subsequent "firing" of Isiah Thomas will steer the Knicks back in the right direction. Disallowing Thomas from talking to the players is a clearly a good move (but again, why not just give him the boot altogether?!?). Perhaps the best thing to happen to the team is James Dolan's claim that he will take on a MUCH smaller role within the team's management.

Donnie Walsh has the undisirable task of hiring a new coach for a team that both Lennie Wilkens AND Larry Brown couldn't coach. He then has to shred millions of dollars of wasted salary on bad basketball players. But the only way the Knicks will ever be relevant again is to have a big star on the team. In other words, sell your soul to sign Lebron James in 2009 or 2010 or whenever he can leave the ghetto of Cleveland.

Look, I know the Knicks will never have Patrick Ewing again. They will never have Jeff Van Gundy as an assistant coach to the legendary Pat Riley, but I do believe that the Knicks WILL be good one day. It just might not be for the next two, or three, or seven years...

Where have all the great sports movies gone?

I used to live in a place where sports movies were great. Where a trip to the movies was an exciting and entertaining time. And popping a VHS provided 120 minutes of laughter, sadness, or triumph. Sometimes all of the above.

Then it was over.

For many decades movies depicting real life events, biographies of famed athletes, and even fictional incidents were the threshold into how great sports really are. Through the years, us moviegoers have experienced so many emotions at the local movie theater.

Then it was over.

For me, it began as a wide eyed boy at Easy Video. Browsing through the aisles looking for something to accomodate my need for entertainment. I landed on Major League as a young lad and instantly fell in love. The brash and bold depiction of major league baseball and the exaggeration that followed was gold. From then on, I went before my time and rented as many sports movies as I could find. The Bad News Bears, Slapshot, and Caddyshack instantly jumped on my top lists. After renting all the comedic sports movies that were listed as classic, I went to the dramatic ones. Field of Dreams, Rudy, The Program.

As I was renting these movies every weekend, more great movies were appearing in the theater. Even no-talent actors such as Adam Sandler, Kevin Costner, even Michael Jordon were creating great sports movies, each in their own way.

Then it was over.

As time went on and the 90s, the best decade for sports movies in this bloggers opinion, ended, so did ideas for sports movies. There was no explanation for this lack of creativity or even research for old sports stories. It just ended. Abruptly. I mean come on, a great movie was created about Jamaican bobsledders! And suddenly there are no more ideas?? Instead we are left with a story about a retarded boy working on a college football team.

Even when great ideas for movies arise, such as the tragic events of Marshall University, we are left with Hollywood garbage, ruined by hacks such as McG or Richard Tollin.

Even when we take big name actors such as Will Ferrell and Woody Harrelson and put them in a basketball movie about the ABA, it turns into garbage.

No, not every sports movie in the past few years has been bad. We have been blessed with such gems as Miracle, Cinderella Man, and Ali.

But why did these movies underachieve at the box office? Has the movie-goer lost interest in the sports genre? Has Hollywood put out too many busts in the past 10 years that people think its over?

I certainly hope not.


Welcome to The Sports Freakers. In the coming weeks, we will give you our take on the world of sports. Look out for columns, analysis, and plenty of freakouts. What's the difference between us and everyone else? We think we are funnier.

Site Stats