Tuesday, May 20, 2008

We Will Be Back

We are temporarily on hiatus. I would love to say it is due to some made up cool and fun reason, but in fact, we are just lazy.

But when we come back, expect big things to come.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Cliff Notes: Monday, May 12 2008

The Winners

-The Jazz, Spurs, Penguins, Red Wings

The Important Stuff

-Utah and San Antonio both take two games at home.
My Take: I really like Utah more than San Antonio, because Utah has changed it up a bit and are playing really well. Plus, Kobe Bryant looks pretty hurt, and back spasms tend to linger. San Antonio looked more like a team that took full advantage of being at home. I see New Orleans rebounding and finding a way to take the series.

-Manchester United wins its 10th Premier League title.
My Take: As a decently casual follower of the Premier League, it was pretty intense Sunday. Man U and Chelsea were deadlocked in points with one game to play. Man U held the tiebreaker, so Chelsea needed Man U to falter. Instead, it was Man U coming out on top (thanks to goals by Ronaldo and Giggs) while Chelsea stumbled in the closing minutes. Man U clearly is the most talented team and was also the one that stumbled the least throughout the season.

-The Marlins win their 7th straight.
My Take: Florida clearly has some hitting. Hanley Ramirez is the best player no one talks about while Dan Uggla and Jeremy Hermida consistently hit. Obviously the biggest question mark is their hitting, but the Marlins are a pesky team. I see them hanging around for a little while, and at best, finish the season in the 70-75 win range(which would be remarkable considering their payroll).

The Stupid Stuff

-O.J. Mayo reportedly accepted gifts and money.
My Take: ESPN did this whole Outside The Lines thing, and can up with these receipts and money exchanges from some agency. You think Mayo is the only one this happens to? I am willing to bet that out of the 60 or so players that are drafted every year, 20-25% of them are involved in similar activity. How do you put a stop to it? I'm really not sure.

-O.J. Simpson reportedly admits to killing his ex-wife and her boyfriend.
My Take: Can someone please lock this guy up for life? Just put him away. Can't America vote to exile him off of the island?

The List

-Rather then do some awards, the demotions of Jason Isringhausen and Eric Gagne got me thinking about the next five closers to lose their jobs (Note: These must be pitchers which started the season as their team's closers)

5) Brad Lidge (Replacement: Tom Gordon)
4) Trevor Hoffman (Replacement: Heath Bell)
3) Kerry Wood (Replacement: Carlos Marmol)
2) Kevin Gregg (Replacement: Matt Lindstrom)
1) Huston Street (Replacement: Santiago Casilla)

What to Watch for

-You have the usual playoffs (I think the Celtics finally win on the road tonight at Cleveland). And I guess you have to keep an eye on Cliff Lee going for 7-0 tonight. Can someone finally hit this guy and shut everyone up about him?

Friday, May 9, 2008

The Irony of a Baseball Brawl...

It was a random summer baseball game in the magical season of 1998. Bernie Williams had just hit one of his billion clutch homeruns. The next batter was one of my favorite all time players, Tino Martinez. Armando Benitez, clearly miffed at the fact that he sucks, drilled Tino square between the shoulder blades with a 98 mph fastball. Tino immediately looked up at Benitez and then it happened; a HUGE fight broke out between the Orioles and the Yankees. Darryl Strawberry jumped into the Baltimore dugout and started throwing punches. Graham Lloyd tackled like 6 players.

I was reminded of this classic Yankees brawl when I woke up this morning to see highlights of Richie Sexson going nuts about pitch the was “too high.” It reminded me that no matter how stupid fights are in baseball, they make incredible highlights. I love baseball brawls.

The moment when the ball leaves the pitchers hand when you know its going to be up and in, the reaction of the player when he’s hit, the hitter charging the mound, the catcher running after him, the pitcher throwing his glove down, clenching his fists, and getting into a stance to brace himself. The five seconds or so between the hitter sprinting and reaching the pitcher are some of the tensest seconds in sports. The dugouts emptying, the bullpen guys running in, random players fighting each other for no reason at all, it’s fantastic!

The fight last night also made me realize the irony in that perhaps the most individualistic of all sports, baseball, has the most team oriented fights…

Hockey by far has the most fights of any professional sport; there are usually at least two a game. The game stops and players look on as two guys punch the crap out of each other until the refs finally stop it. Hockey is a team sport. You can’t win without your teammates and yet rarely do you see other players step in during a fight. Players let the two guys go at it like men; it’s been this way for years. Hockey fights end with each guy going to the penalty box for a few minutes and then playing again.

Basketball is as much of a team, if not more, than hockey, and fights are very rare. The NBA has rules that constitute instant suspensions as soon as a player leaves the bench during a fight. Because of this, even the rare fights that do happen are usually between 2 or 3 guys. For the most part, players would rather let the two guys fight, than lose the money they would get fined for leaving the bench.

Football is the most ironic of all. Football is the roughest, most physical, and the most team oriented of all sports. Yet, there is almost never a fight in football. The NFL has the lowest class of athlete of all sports, but they are satisfied with tackling instead of fighting. There are countless incidences where players “talk shit,” but nothing ever happens.

Baseball doesn’t have fights, they have brawls. This is because if two players do start to scuffle, the dugouts and bullpens empty. EVERY player gets involved. In last night’s fight, why was Felix Hernandez running around like an idiot when he was not involved in the fight at all? In the 1998 Yankees brawl, why was Darryl Strawberry throwing punches in the Orioles dug out? Why do baseball fights always involve every player? Is it because baseball players are bored, and any type of drama excites them? Baseball, the most individualistic of all sports, has the most team oriented fights. Go figure.

Either way, I love to watch baseball brawls. I can’t wait for some random pitcher to throw inside at Melky Cabrera…because you know that Shelley Duncan will power bomb the other team’s left fielder!

Freakout: Richie Sexson

I'm sorry, but if I had my own Clown of the Year article, Richie Sexson wins it hands down. That pitch wasn't even inside! Plus, look at the score Richie! Your team is trailing and putting up another stinker.

I'm glad Sexson was able to hit something when he charged the mound. He has trouble hitting anything else that comes his way.

Cliff Notes: Friday, May 9 2008

If you live on the East Coast, this question will make sense to you: Why does it always rain on Friday and Saturday? And if you watch Lost, this question will always make sense to you: What the hell is going on?

The Winners

-Spurs, Celtics, Red Wings, Haters of Lebron James

The Important Stuff

-Spurs and Celtics start slow, but take care of business in victories.
My Take: The Spurs obviously needed the win. They let Chris Paul do what he wanted, but limited Peja Stojakovic to eight points. Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili each scored 31. It's a series again. As for the Celtics, they are clearly better than the Cavs. If Lebron is off, Cleveland has no chance (and he's been very off). Game 3 is a must win for the Cavs.

-Brandon Webb improves to 8-0.
My Take: When the game's top pitchers are talked about, I hear names like Santana and Peavy more often than Webb. But with Webb, Arizona has an absolute bull that can go nine innings. With Webb, Haren, Owings, Johnson, and now Scherzer, the Diamondbacks are the team to beat not just in the National League, but in the major leagues.

The Stupid Stuff

-The Dallas Cowboys will be featured on HBO's Hard Knocks, a series that depicts what an NFL Training Camp is like.
My Take: I love this show. It takes you through the difficulties of making it through NFL Training Camp. But if you are the Cowboys, and you've had situations like the Tony Romo/Jessica Simpson and anyhing Terrell Owens does, why put yourselves in the spotlight again? Plus, teams that appear on this show have tended to underachieve(i.e. Last year's Kansas City Chiefs).

The Awards

-The "Most Added Pitchers to Fantasy Teams" award goes to both Edwin Jackson and Daniel Cabrera. The two combined to allow one run in 17 innings. Cabrera allowed only three hits in a complete game victory while Jackson went eight scoreless but didn't get the decision. These two are the same exact pitcher. When they are on, they will dominant, but more often then not, they will walk the ball park.

-The "Cheap Win" award goes to Manny Acosta, who threw all of three pitches and ended up in the victory column. The Braves used six pitchers before him, but somehow, Acosta was the one who came away with the victory.

What to Watch For Tonight

-Utah looks to pull within a game against the Lakers. And I didn't even realize hockey was on, so Flyers/Penguins it is. And of course, the return of Kei Igawa! Yes!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Random Classic WWF Moment...

I know wrestling isn't real, but remember when it was really cool?

Here are some highlights from the late 90's brutal Hell in The Cell match between The Undertaker and Mankind...



I will always love basketball more than hockey. Basketball is my favorite sport to play and one of my favorites to watch. So, I never thought I’d be saying this, but:

Thank god the hockey playoffs are starting up again tonight, because the NBA playoffs have been just awful. As for hockey? Incredible.

The Sharks-Stars 4OT masterpiece was probably the best hockey game I’ve ever seen and, logically, Marty Turco and Evgeni Nabokov put in two of the best goaltending performances I’ve ever seen. I can’t even imagine going out there for the 4th overtime and being able to walk, let alone ice skate with any urgency!

Yes, my favorite team, the New York Rangers, failed to advance to this round. This definitely puts a damper on the rest of the playoffs, but you have to realize – I haven’t been this big into hockey for about ten years. When the Rangers started going downhill in the late 90s, I lost interest and I was always more of a basketball fan anyway.

But, there’s one thing that can’t be denied. The NHL playoffs this year have blown the NBA playoffs out of the water.

I didn’t see this coming at all, with how competitive the Western Conference was this year. But, the conference's first round was an absolute bore, with the higher seeds toppling the lower ones easily. Same with the Eastern Conference, although surprisingly, the Celtics and Pistons were pushed a bit. The games themselves have been downhill since Game 1 of the Spurs-Suns series, in which players hit a series of clutch shots, including Tim Duncan nailing his first three of the season to put it into a second overtime.

The second round has been more of the same. Every home game has won. Yawnnnnnnn.
Not the case in the NHL.

There was the drama of Sean Avery’s stick-wielding antics in front of nemesis Martin Brodeur. And the brilliant 7 game series between the Flyers and Capitals, decided in overtime no less. And, of course, the valiant comebacks by the Rangers and Sharks, only to fall short. The best part about the NHL playoffs? They’ve been unpredictable.

Look at the first round. The 6th seeded Avalanche beat the 3rd seeded Wilds. The 7th seeded Flames pushed the 2nd seeded Sharks to 7. The 8th seeded Bruins did the same to the top seeded Canadiens. The 6th seeded Flyers toppled the 3rd seeded Capitals.

And now, the Eastern Conference Finals features a 2 vs. a 6 and the Western Conference Finals is a 1 vs.5 matchup. Hardly what anyone saw coming.

My final point is a simple one: nothing beats hockey playoffs. Nothing beats the intensity that comes with one shot of the puck, or one freak play, defining an entire team’s fate.

I’ll still be watching Kobe, Paul and Garnett go at it. But, for some reason, I think Crosby, Franzen and Turco may provide the better entertainment.

When a Video Game is More Than a Video Game

We all played them growing up. Whether it was on Sega Genesis, Dreamcast, Game Gear, Playstation, XBox, whatever. Sports games were a part of our lives. The thrill of rushing home to start up the new release of a game was a feeling like no other. All of us didn't just play the game. We lived the game. There were two in particular that set the video game bar in my life.

The NHL Series (The Sega Genesis):
If you watched the movie Swingers, you have an even better understand of why these games were great (Especially NHL '94 and '96). What was better than playing on ice that was too small and with players that were too quick?

The best features of this game were the little ones. I loved the Spin-O-Rama move that they instituted later on(I think in 1995, dont quote me). I found it hilarious that you can do a little ballerina twirl and get by three players. Best of all, the Spin-O-Rama was the Start button. How stupid is that? Somehow, it worked. And what also worked was the wrap-around goal. You can have a player go behind the net, come around and score. The goalies were always too slow to react to this. They did make it a little harder in NHL '96 to pull the move off, but if you were down 4-3 with 5 minutes left, it was your best bet.

Now I don't know if this was just a glitch or it was just my game, but anytime I popped in my game after a long period of not playing and tried to load up my season as the Rangers, it would always vanish. It was like the game was punishing me for not playing. It was telling me "You ignored me for so long? You will pay for this!"

I just loved getting a quick game with my buddies and just playing to see who allowed the most goals. I can go three years without playing it, pop in my Sega Genesis, and my night is fulfilled. It was simple and to the point. It was money and everyone knew it.

The Madden Series (Any system): You could spend a whole post just on the Madden series by itself. I went from Sega to Playstation, with a little Dreamcast and XBox thrown in there. But Madden was not just a game, it was a franchise. I don't know one male under the age of 25 who did not have a Franchise mode that lasted less than three seasons. Not only could you play a season, but you could draft and scout players, building them up into future superstars. Your team was not just a team, part of your favorite teams.

One of my favorite all-time athletes (Right below Derek Jeter and Patrick Ewing) was my RB in Madden '02, Doug Hamilton. He was an absolute beast and was about 90% of my offense. With Ogden Traylor manning the QB position, my team would dominate any level (Yes, his name was Ogden. A hilarious feature of Madden is the made-up player names, which would just shuffle first and last names of existing players). The Madden series was so amazing that you would feel a little sad getting the game the next year, because that meant you had to start a new franchise.

I was also one of those losers who played online when if first came out (PS2 in 2004 or 2005, forgot the year). You could pop in your game and play against someone from another country. My ultimate goal was to beat the top players. If I lost, it actually affected me for a good half hour. My claim to fame was beating the 20th player in the world. I felt proud of it.

I also loved the players that were great in Madden but awful in real life. I could make a list of guys who had 98 Speed or 95 Throwing Accuracy but were fourth stringers rotting on the bench of a real team. Trung Candidate had the skills of Barry Sanders. Michael Bishop had a cannon of an arm. Jerome Mathis STILL can be put in at WR and go for 1,300 yards in a season.

Were there plenty of bugs? Of course there were. You could run the same curl route with a big WR and he'll catch it 9 out of 10 times. When Michael Vick was on the cover, you could run around with him all day and he'd find a way to get 20 yards. You can kick a 59-yard FG as if you had the leg of Pele. But that's what made the game unique. Madden became its own sport.

This was part of my life growing up. Unfortunately, when you grow up, you are too busy to play video games. But there's always that one rainy Sunday afternoon when you can pop in that old video game and remember the days of your childhood.

Everyone had a franchise that lost the Super Bowl two years in a row or a Jari Curri which scored 65 goals in your season. If you could go back in time to play one more season as the St. Louis Rams, you'd do it in a heartbeat. Everyone has a story.

But now the most pressing question. Do I draft Pete Welker or Hardy Barnes with my first-round pick?

Lee, Lee, Lee, Lee, Lee, Lee

Lee, Lee, Lee, Lee,
Lee Lee Lee Lee Lee Lee Lee Lee Lee,
We're talkin' f***in' Lee.
I had a friend named Lee,
He cast a spell a spell on me.

Jack Black and Tenacious D sang it, and I am feeling it. Cliff Lee has in fact cast a spell on me! Another seven innings, 0 run, 0 walk performance from the man named Clifton Phifor Lee.

Only this time, it wasn’t against the lowly Twins, the fluky Oakland A’s, or the “can’t hit their way out of a paper bag” Seattle Mariners. It was against my New York Yankees, out-dueling the Taiwanese heart throb, Chien-Ming Wang.

If you’re like me, you picked up Cliff Lee on your Fantasy Baseball team because he pitched a great game or two and you were desperate for pitching. If you’re like me, you also didn’t honestly think he would still be pitching this well. I mean he was pretty good in 2005 with a 18-5 record and an ERA under 4, but he was atrocious the last 2 years, between 2006-2007, he was 19-19 with an ERA well over 5! He was also in the minors as the Indians almost made the World Series last year. I know its still very early, but every pitcher since the divisional era started in the late 60’s that has started 6-0 with an ERA under 1 has gone on to win the Cy Young. By the way, some of the pitchers include Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson, and Pedro Martinez.

So herein lies the dilemma…if you currently have Cliff Lee on your Fantasy Baseball team, what do you do with him? The way I see it, you have three options:

1) Trade him: Lee’s value is sky high right now. There has to be someone in your league that is desperate for pitching who believes that Cliff will be, at the very least, an improvement on what they have now. Test the waters and gauge how much confidence the others in your league have that he will continue his dominance. If you have needs, use Lee to fill them.

2) Keep him: What if you trade Lee and he actually does go on to win the AL Cy Young Award? It’s not entirely out of the realm of possibility. The most impressive thing about him early on is the fact that he isn’t walking ANYONE. His K/BB ratio is an absolutely absurd 39/2 through 44.2 innings! His ERA won’t remain under 1 for too much longer, but it appears that Lee can remain a valuable fantasy pitcher for awhile.

3) Drop him: Get rid of him. Forget you ever had him. Let him tease someone else with his amazingness. Forget you and Cliff Lee were ever connected in anyway. Ok, so this is a terrible option, but it is just that, an option.

So, what will you do with Clifton Phifor Lee? What will I do with Clifton Phifor Lee? I guess only time will tell…

Cliff Notes: Thursday, May 8 2008

Time to make some changes to the format. Ch, Ch, Changessssss.

The Winners

-Lakers, Magic

The Important Stuff

-Kobe Bryant scores 34 points as the Lakers in 120-110 over Utah.
My Take: Lakers are clearly the more talented team. They have set themselves up beautifully, as they only need to win one of the next two games at Utah to gain full advantage. Utah can't let Los Angeles jump out to a 15-point first quarter lead. The Lakers are tought o comeback against to begin with, but Utah doesn't strike me as a team that can comeback. 30 personal fouls doesn't help the Jazz's cause.

-The Magic make it a series, defeating the Pistons 111-86.
My Take: Rashard Lewis scores 33 points as Orlando started the game well and closed the game out. Lewis has the ability to put up points and needs to take control like he did last night. It helps to shoot 45% from 3-point land as well. Billups hurts his hammy, and if he is out for any length of time, the advantage has to go to Orlando (especially Game 4 at home).

-Former Patriot employee Matt Walsh sends the NFL video of the Patriots taping other teams' signals between 2000 and 2002.
My Take: I mean, I don't know what the NFL is going to do if it finds anymore wrongdoing. Can you dock more draft picks? Can you fine them anymore money? It's a real bad situation for both the league and the Patriots. They didn't even have to do any of that, because they were clearly the best team in those years.

-Joey Votto homers three times while Carlos Gomez hits for the cycle
My Take: Votto is going to be a big-time power hitter and could even hit 25 HRs this year. Gomez is going to have his up-and-down games. If he develops like the Twins think he could, they have a keeper.

The Stupid Stuff

-Barry Zito falls to 0-7
My Take: Allowing two runs in five innings shouldn't be considered a "step in the right direction." He was still lobbing the ball over the plate. I don't know what you can do with this guy. He's awful.

The Awards

-The "Maybe they are better than we thought" award goes to Cliff Lee, Edinson Volquez, Shaun Marcum, Livan Hernandez, and Zack Grienke, who all dominated in victories last night.

-The "Todd Jones" award goes to Jonathan Papelbon, who suffered a blown save in a 10-9 loss to the Tigers. Detroit blew an 8-4 lead themselves, but find a way to win. Ironically, Jones got the win in the game.

What to Watch For Tonight

-Cleveland and Boston should be good. Hopefully one of these teams can score over 50 points tonight. Beckett/Verlander hook up to see who breaks the radar gun.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Separated at Birth?

Today, a source extremely close to Sportsfreakers announced that New York Yankees lead-off man is related to golf champion Trevor Immelman. Both players and every other news source in the world have denied the announcement.

Pick of the Night

Utah Jazz @ Los Angeles Lakers

10:35pm TNT

Lakers -7.5

This bet seems simple to me. The Jazz are perennial road losers, and although they won a couple in the last series, they are now up against, in my opinion, the best team in the NBA. Look for the Lakers to pull away sometime in the 4th quarter for the win, and for Kobe to dominate as usual.

Final Score: 114-102 Lakers

Adios Julio Franco

After 8,000 years playing Major League Baseball, Julio Franco has announced his retirement. Here's a nice little tribute to the man they once called old.

Man Crush of the Week #2 - Sean Avery

From my seat in Row A of Section 414 at Madison Square Garden, I can see almost everything that happens during the course of a Rangers game. Stationed centrally behind the net at the 8th Ave. end (where the Rangers attack in the 1st and 3rd periods), I get a full view of the ice, and most of the time I watch the puck and the play, like most people would.

But when a certain Ranger hits the ice, I’m transfixed on only him.

He’s unpredictable. He’s fast. He’s a good scorer, a deft passer. He’s a hitter and a fighter. He’s annoying as hell.

He’s Sean Avery.

When Avery became a Ranger on February 6th last season, I knew very little about him. Because Avery played in Los Angeles and the NHL has pretty much zero west-coast TV coverage, he was basically an unknown commodity. I think this was the case for a lot of people.

But since his arrival in New York, I have absolutely fallen in love with Sean Avery…in a totally non-sexual way, of course (come on, I’d have no shot anyway, this guy dated Elisha Cuthbert!), and so has most of New York.

Avery actually makes me laugh out loud when I watch the Rangers, partly because of the way he goes about getting under his opponent’s skin (yapping away from behind his infamous black mouth guard, throwing well-timed body checks, and of course face-washing players during post-whistle get-togethers), but mostly because he’s actually a terrific hockey player. It truly is a joy to watch the guy play the game. Most people can’t get past the agitation factor to recognize this, and that quite frankly is their loss.

Avery is the player that everyone – including even some Ranger fans – loves to hate. His language on the ice is crude, he’s brutally honest during interviews (“I guess fatso there forgot to shake my hand…”) and his goal celebrations are a bit over the top (though I think scoring a goal in the NHL would fire anyone up and I like the expression of emotion).

But I also think that the NHL’s resident bad boy fulfills the cliché, “Women want him and men want to be him.” After all, Avery isn’t just a hockey player…he’s a renaissance man. When he’s not at the rink, he claims he really doesn’t pay much attention to the hockey world and would rather talk about art than sports. His interests include high fashion and indie music. This summer, he’s interning at Vogue Magazine. Guy’s got a pretty cool life, no?

What I think a lot of people, especially over at NHL Headquarters on 6th Ave., are missing is that Avery has become one of the league’s most marketable stars. And in typical NHL fashion, Gary Bettman and Co. have shunned him. In a league that is struggling not only to garner more attention but also to promote its stars, Avery is a lightning rod for attention. He plays the part of the villain perfectly.

Now, many hockey pundits would tell me that the league is trying to clean up its image, that a “villain” is the last thing it needs. They’ll say the NHL is sick of the Todd Bertuzzi/Marty McSorely/Chris Simon moments that seem to happen yearly and give hockey an endless stream of bad press.

My argument is this: Sean Avery is not a goon. He doesn’t hit from behind. He doesn’t swing his stick at people’s heads. He doesn’t engage in slew-footing like Evgeni Malkin did in pathetic sore-loser fashion at the end of Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Rather, Avery is a modern agitator with an old-school edge. And he’s a good interview because he’s articulate and will say a thing or two that catches everyone off-guard. He also has a personality off the ice.

I watched the Rangers playoffs with a few people who are not hardcore hockey fans like me and even they were interested in Sean Avery. Say what you will about his questionable screening tactics on Martin Brodeur…it made headlines, didn’t it? The national media was talking quite a bit about hockey the next day, weren’t they? I rest my case.

I’ll say this before I go. A lot of people have accused Avery of being selfish, especially when February rolled around and Avery met with the Rangers brass to discuss extending his contract, a one-year deal that expires on June 30th. SHOCKER: Avery asked for too much money. Go figure that…a pro athlete acting like, well, a pro athlete.

The thing is that Avery has proven his worth. The Rangers were 33-14-10 this past season when Avery played and 9-13-3 when he didn’t. And then came this gem from New York Post writer Larry Brooks, who scored an exclusive interview with Avery when he was released from the hospital earlier this week after beginning his recovery from a lacerated spleen.

Avery bleeds Ranger blue.

That’s good enough for me. But even if he leaves the Rangers, I will always have a soft-spot in my heart for Sean Avery, this week’s Sports Freakers Man Crush of the Week.

Bye Bye Barry...

Jeff Borris, Barry Bond’s agent says, "No team has made me an offer for any amount at any time since Barry became a free agent."

First of all, Jeff Borris is a douche bag… Secondly, why would any team with any respect for itself want to sign a 44 year old, steroid freak, media circus?

Now, the MLBPA has launched some cockamamie investigation into the Major League Baseball Owners, to see if they are colluding to not sign free agents like Barry Bonds, Kenny Lofton, and Sammy Sosa. This is pretty hilarious. Does the players association REALLY think the owners are colluding against Barry Bonds? Or, are they just doing this because Bonds is in a union, and they just have to? I mean, Bonds can still hit: 28 homers in 340 at bats is actually really good. But, it doesn’t take an idiot to realize that no team is going to sign Bonds for $15 million a year to play DH. He can’t play the field anymore, so that eliminates the entire National League, but I decided to go through a few teams that may actually take chance on the all time home run king…

  • Seattle Mariners
    • The Mariners are off to a very slow start in ’08 and really don’t have that much pop in their lineup. Ichiro is a fantastic player but has no power, and outside of Adrian Beltre Raul Ibanez and maybe Richie Sexon, they don’t have any hitters that pitchers fear. They don’t have a DH, and could absolutely use a left handed power bat. The only thing stopping them from signing him (besides the absolute media circus he brings), is the money that Bonds and Borris will demand. Ichiro, Sexon, Beltre, Carlos Silva, Ibanez, and Erik Bedard make almost $100million combined. The Mariners are a fairly small market team, and unless he comes at an extreme discount (doubtful!), I don’t see the Mariners signing Bonds. However, if they are 10 games out of first in a month or two and continue to not score runs, it is possible we could see Barry Lamar Bonds in Seattle.
      • Chance they sign Bonds: 45%
  • Detroit Tigers
    • Everyone’s favorite pick to win it all before the season has been very up and down so far this year. Their pitching is bad, and their supposedly amazing offense has been very inconsistent. If they want to shake things up with this team, signing Bonds might make sense. Plus, their DH, Gary Sheffield looks like he might be nearing the end of his career. Truth is, this team should be trying to improve their pitching instead of signing Bonds, but desperate times come for desperate measures.
      • Chance they sign Bonds: 40%
  • Oakland Athletics
    • Despite their hot start, the A’s lineup does not scare me at all. Emil Brown is a fraud, Daric Barton is too young, Kurt Suzuki might bat .300 but he’ll have 5 homers, Bobby Crosby will get hurt, and Jack Cust stopped using roids. Also, Oakland’s proximity to San Francisco would be good for Barry because the fans would actually like him. However, the A’s did just sign Frank Thomas to be a DH and the A’s are actually winning. Who knows with Billy Beane and his stupid Money Ball tactics though? He LOVES Barry Bonds!
      • Chances they sign Bonds: 35%
  • Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays
    • No one really thinks this team can stay in contention for too long, so adding a big bat like Bonds might make sense in the short run. Their DH, Cliff Floyd is hurt (like always), and the middle of their lineup is void of any real power threat not named Carlos Pena. Signing Bonds might actually allow this team to contend for a little bit, and will give them the national attention that they sorely lack. However, in the long run, signing Bonds is a BAD idea for this team. He would immediately be the highest paid player on the team, and would ruin the team chemistry that seems to be growing with them every year. I doubt young stars like BJ Upton and Carl Crawford want to be answering questions about Barry after every game.
      • Chances they sign Bonds: 25%
  • New York Yankees
    • With Arod and Posada out, the Yankees lineup is really short right now. If these two guys miss any real length of time, and the Yankees are hovering around .500 at the all star break, Hank Steinbrenner might freak out and become his father. Back in the day, George probably would have signed Bonds already. But, with this being the last year at Yankees Stadium and the Yankees already aging, it is doubtful that Barry will ever be in pinstripes.
      • Chances they sign Bonds: 10%

Where in the World is Lebron James?

I'm just going to get this out in the open.

Last night's Cavs-Celts game was the worst basketball game I have ever seen. EVER.
It was by far the must frustrating offensive, or lack of offensive, game I have ever sat through. Neither team could go on a run to put the other away, and there was absolutely no flow throughout. The game began with an easy layup from who else but Lebron James. He wouldn't hit another field goal until the 4th quarter. Which poses the question...

Where in the world is Lebron James?

Let's forget that he went 2-18 last night from the field, but focus on the fact that he had 10 turnovers, in his worst playoff game ever. Actually, it's the 2nd worst turnover rate by a player in a playoff game, of all time! (11 is the most). What was wrong with Lebron? Early round jitters? Doubtful. Injured? No. Out drinking last night? Probably. Which poses another question...

Where in the world is Paul Pierce and Ray Allen?

They must have been out with Lebron. Ray Allen had 0 points, the first time in 852 games. Pierce finished 2-14. The only 2 players who actually had great games were Garnett and Ilgauskas, with 28 points and 20 points respectively. If these players didn't put up big numbers, the final score might have been 52-48.

I sincerely hope that this isn't the bar set for this highly anticipated series. Hopefully in Game 2 we see the dominating Lebron we're used to, and a higher scoring game.

Doc Rivers said this after the game. "This is gonna be Knicks-Heat, or Knicks-Bulls."

Don't forget DOC, if that is your real name, you guys won 17 games last year. I can't wait until Lebron turns it on. Because when that happens you are all in big, big trouble.

Cliff Notes: Wednesday, May 7 2008

The Winners

-Celtics, Sidney Ponson

The Important Stuff

-The Celtics/Cavs game was ugly, but Boston eeked out a 76-72 win. In lieu of running away with our poll question, Lebron James celebrated by having his worst game of the playoffs (12 pts, 10 TOs).

-Rick Carlisle to the Mavericks? Mike D'Antoni to the Bulls? Why is no one interviewing Herb Williams?

-The altered Cedric Benson report details him being drunk and confused. That's how most Giants fans get after a Barry Zito start.

-The shocker: Joba Chamberlain blows a game! Joba allowed a three-run go-ahead HR as the Indians defeat the Yankees 5-3. Joba now joins this list of players who have blown games:

1) Every relief pitcher who has ever played Major League Baseball.

The Stupid Stuff

-The horse that died at the Kentucky Derby (Eight Bells) has been accused of taking steroids. It's trainer demands a drug test be taken. Let me get this straight. It's more urgent to test a horse for steroids than it is to have tested Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa for steroids.

The Awards

-The "I was a complete mental case last year, but now I am a great pitcher" award goes to Scott Olsen, who threw 8 2/3 innings of two-hit ball to improve to 4-1.

-The "I'm king of the world!" award goes to David Delucci, who was the lucky one to have homered off of Joba Chamberlain.

-The "Let's just mail it in the rest of the season" award goes to the Detroit Tigers.

What to Watch for Tonight

-I guess the Pistons' and Lakers' games are watchable. Although why watch something that you know the ending to?

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

No More War (ESPECIALLY Over Sports)

This is a moment of stupidity I will never forget.

I was standing in the parking lot of Giants Stadium last October before an MLS playoff game between the New York Red Bulls and New England Revolution. It was a typical scene, really: a bunch of friends and acquaintances, enjoying some decent beer and grilled food, talking about the world of soccer, of which there are endless subjects to discuss.

One of the participants in this discussion was a friend-of-a-friend, someone who I was not terribly familiar with, but who had played the game and was a big fan of A.S. Roma of Italy’s top league, the Serie A.

He felt that Italy’s league was the best in the world. Okay, that’s your opinion.

He felt that Francesco Totti was the best striker in the world. Being a Roma fan, you’d expect this from him. Fine.

He generally prefers the defensive Italian style of soccer. Whatever man, whatever floats your boat.

Then the subject of hooliganism and soccer-related violence came up.

“I think that’s f---in’ awesome man., they’re so passionate.”

This is where I lost all respect for this person and came very close to smashing my bottle of Heineken over his head (thus making me a hypocrite in this discussion, though really, this guy deserved it…but I digress).

Most people have some idea about the problems in many countries around world involving soccer-related violence. They are still very much an issue today.

Well, I’m here to say that, contrary to what my colleague from the Giants Stadium parking lot believes, THERE IS NOTHING “F---ING AWESOME” ABOUT SPORTS-RELATED VIOLENCE.

For most people around the world, soccer is everything. Everything.

But that does not make it okay for people to riot before and after matches. There is no reason that fans wearing opposing colors should engage in a gang-like street fight. There is no reason whatsoever for policemen to die.

Wake up, people. It’s just a game. A damn game. Why in the world are people dying over it?

The sad thing is, and the reason for this article today, is that even in America, we are not immune to this sort of thing.

Now, we certainly love our sports in America, probably as much as people love soccer abroad. Europeans and South Americans always describe America as a “sports-crazed country.” Normally, we’re able to keep emotions in check over here though, and I’m proud of that. People don’t need to fear for their lives going to an opposing stadium to cheer their team on. Sure, you might be the victim of some verbal jabs, but if you’re not obnoxious, usually you’ll leave the arena unscathed. Sometimes there are fights, but these are usually broken up quickly by the security staff.

So that explains my absolute shock when I read this article yesterday on ESPN.

First of all, you can tell by the picture that this woman isn’t exactly a first-class citizen. But the fact that she drove her car into a crowd of people over a Yankees/Red Sox argument shows what a true psychopath she actually is.

Yes, Yankees/Red Sox is probably the most contentious rivalry in American sports, though at this point it is more heated off the field than on. There are usually fist-fights at games. It is a known rule that you will be spat on, insulted, etc. if you’re caught wearing a Yankee hat in Fenway or vice-versa, especially when the two teams aren’t playing each other.

But I don’t care if an opposing fan insults your spouse, children and mother in the most appalling way you can think of, you do not, DO NOT, do anything that could seriously injure or even kill that person. There is no justifiable situation. Never under any circumstance.

Hey, Ms. Hernandez. Life is more important than the New York Yankees. That guy Matthew Beaudoin you killed? Yeah, he had a family. He had goals. He was 29 years old. He was drunk and told you he thought the Yankees sucked. So what?

Well, now he’s dead because you ran him over with your car. Despicable.

This isn’t an indictment of Yankee fans (I am a Yankee fan and this woman is a disgrace to us all) or anyone in particular, really. It’s more of a call to realize that this situation of sports-related violence, which many Americans scoff at, is a real issue, even here in our hemisphere.

Passion is good. Passion fuels fans and athletes alike. It makes sports the pulsating spectacle that we know and love. But violence has no place inside, or outside of the stadium.

Top 5...Trades that Need to Happen

Everyone's loves a good trade. While these five probably won't happen, they should for the good of the teams involved.

5) The Yankees trade Ian Kennedy and Jose Tabata to the Reds for Adam Dunn

Everyone complains about the Yankees pitching, but if you look at their hitting, it has gotten old fast. Dunn becomes a free agent at the end of the season, and the Reds figure to fall out quickly. I know the Yankees were reluctant to move their young pitching in the offseason, but Dunn would be the perfect fit. He's got plenty of power(40+ HRs from 2004-2007) and is relatively young (28). As nice of a pitcher as Kennedy is, the Yankee farm system has plenty of youth. And if I recall, Brandon Claussen had plenty of hype before the Yankees traded him to the Reds a few years ago. Claussen never panned out. All I know is that right field porch at Yankee Stadium looks mighty nice for Dunn.
Result: Dunn hits 40 HRs and bats .260, injecting the Yankees with some life. Jason Giambi is put on the bench and sparingly pinch hits. The Yankees sign Dunn to a big contract in the offseason and he becomes a big bat for the Yankees for the next six years. Kennedy comes up late in the year and shows some promise. He winds up having an up-and-down career but never the Mike Mussina-clone that people expected. Tabata struggles and never sees a full season in the majors.

4) The Rockies trade Brian Fuentes to the Tigers for Yorman Bazardo and Clete Thomas

The Rockies are falling fast, and Fuentes has been one of the most touted trade candidates. The Tigers are in desperate need of bullpen help, with Joel Zumaya out a while and Todd Jones being 40. The Tigers have the lineup, but need that one guy that they can trust in their bullpen. Bazardo has talent, but the jury is out on where he will fit in. Thomas was solid in his early callup this year, but Curtis Granderson figures to man center field for the next decade. The Rockies can get younger and the Tigers can get more stable.
Result: Fuentes thrives in Detriot, posting a 2.50 ERA. He never becomes the closer, but becomes the best left-handed setup man in the league. Bazardo is moved to the closer's role in 2009 and never quite dominates, but is a servicable closer. Thomas is a solid role player who is better than his numbers say.

3) The Cardinals trade Branden Looper and Jason Isringhausen to the Mariners for Wladimir Balentien.

Looper and Isringhausen are both free agents at the end of the season and don't figure to be in the team's future plans. Looper has quickly grown into a decent SP that can eat up some innings. Isringhausen has been slipping the past few years, blowing some big saves and keeping fans on the edge of their seats. The Mariners could use some arms, especially with the volitility of their bullpen. I also think that despite their early season falters, the Mariners make a midseason charge and jump back into the division race, prompting this trade. Remember, J.J. Putz and Erik Bedard were both hurt in April, so the Mariners were clearly not at 100%. They aren't going to just give up just yet. Balentien has brought some power to the Mariners' farm system and projects to be a solid power hitter.
Result: Looper and Isringhausen give the Mariners an extra boost, but it's not enough as the Angels win the division. At season's end, Looper is re-signed while Isringhausen is let go. Balentien has Wily Mo Pena syndrome, as he becomes known as a .240, 25 HR hitter.

2) The Nationals trade Jon Rauch and Odalis Perez to the Indians for Ben Francisco

I think Perez becomes somewhat of a decent trade item. He's throwing better and is mechanically much smoother. But he's a free agent and the end of the season, and is going to want more money than his worth. Rauch will be a free agent at the end of 2009, and he's going to want to be paid like a top reliever. Plus, Chad Cordero has no trade value anymore with his arm troubles, so the Nationals will be stuck with him (meaning Rauch is the expendable one). Francisco has never found a role with Cleveland, but has been an impressive bat when given the chance.
Result: Perez is the 5th starter for the 2nd half of the year, but struggles in the AL. Rauch is a key piece to the Indians bullpen and is eventually re-signed at the end of the season. The Nationals cut loose Wily Mo Pena and Francisco has some solid power years(Think .280, 23 HRs, 80 RBIs).

1) The White Sox trade Joe Crede, Jerry Owens, and Jack Egbert to the Phillies for Pat Burrell and Tom Gordon

The Phillies aren't a lock to hang around the playoff picture. I just feel like they are going to the be the odd team out by June, meaning they will become sellers. I don't think they will keep Burrell or Gordon at season's end, so they can let them go. Crede makes sense for the Phillies, because Pedro Feliz is awful. Owens has a ton of speed and will eventually mean the end of Geoff Jenkins. Egbert has been a top prospect, but feels like the right young trading piece for the White Sox to deal. The Phillies need to get rid of age and potentially big contracts. Gordon probably retires at the end of the season. Meanwhile, Burrell can jump into a playoff race and possibly re-sign with the White Sox. Chicago is going to hang around in the AL Central and have not been afraid to make moves.
Result: Josh Fields finally comes up for Chicago and is a solid contributor to the lineup. Burrell explodes in the AL and is a big clutch hitter, but it is not enough as Chicago loses out on the division and the Wild Card. The Phillies re-sign Crede to a much less deal than they would have for Burrell. Owens is a 30-40 SB player, while Egbert develops into a back-of-the-rotation pitcher.


On June 13th, 2003, I sat in the left field bleachers of Yankees Stadium and watched you strike out Edgar Renteria for your 4000th K. On June 13th, 2003, I watched you pitch 6.2 strong innings against the St. Louis Cardinals to win your 300th game. On June 13th, 2003, I watched you make history. Roger Clemens, you used to be a legend, you used to be an icon, you used to be one of the greatest pitchers to ever touch a baseball.

Times change…

Congratulations Roger Clemens, you are now, the 2nd Ever Sports Freakers CLOWN OF THE WEEK!!!

Your first CLOWNY move was when you put yourself above the game last May. By sitting in Steinbrenner’s box and announcing you were“coming back” for the 307
th time, you were telling everyone that “I’m the man. I’m better than the Yankees. Love me!” Only, you weren’t good last year. You went 6-6 with a 4.18 ERA in only 18 starts, and you looked worse than Kei Igawa in the playoffs.

But, your descension into true CLOWNHOOD began on the afternoon of December, 13, 2007. It’s the day that will forever live in infamy in the world of Major League Baseball. Senator George Mitchell released the Mitchell Report detailing 85 players’ use of steroids and HGH in Major League Baseball. They should have just called it the Clemens Report.

While other named players with far less notoriety and evidence against them were admitting the truth behind Mitchell’s report, you sat on your fat ass and said nothing for days. Then after you and Mike Wallace stopped fellating each other, you went on 60 Minutes and told the world that the only shots you took were Vitamin B-12 and Lidocaine. Hey, guess what Rog…NO ONE BELIEVED YOU!!! Seriously, NO ONE! If you want vitamins, take a supplement you idiot! You also said that if you had taken roids you would have a 3rd ear growing out of your forehead. A 3RD EAR!?!?! Yea, Roger, that’s what Steroids do. Yep.

The next day, you air a tape of your former trainer and everyone’s favorite rat, Brian McNamee. You sat there and let him cry to you about his dying son, and aired it on national television. Do you have a soul Mr. Clemens…NO?!? You heartless bastard! On top of that, you walked out of the press conference that YOU CALLED! Are you kidding me Roger!?!

Then there was probably the worst day in sports history when you sat and got your ass handed to you by congress. I would describe what happened, but I uhh seem to have “misremembered” the details.

Hey, Roger, can you tell me what a Vegan is? No? Idiot!

Now, Roger, you’ve become nothing more than tabloid fodder. Every day it’s something else. Truth is, no one really cares if you had sex with a 15 year old country singer, or if you had an affair with your nanny, your waitress from the corner deli, an African-American male stripper, Paris Hilton or the Fabulous Moolah.

The fact is Roger, that you are not only the CLOWN OF THE WEEK, you are a liar, a cheater, an adulterer and a fool! I hate you Roger Clemens. The world hates you Roger Clemens. NO ONE likes you or respects you. I believe I speak for everyone when I say this…

(Click The Sports Freakers to read more good stuff.)

Cliff Notes: Tuesday, May 6 2008

Hillary and Barack battle for 189 delegates tonight. I say they settle it in a Best-of-3 Scrabble competition. Is Lewinsky a valid word?

The Winners

-Pistons, Hornets

The Important Stuff

-What is wrong with the Spurs? After getting beaten again, San Antonio is now down 2-0 to the Hornets. I think we should consider electing Chris Paul as our President. He certainly knows how to be a leader.

-Did you really think the Magic had a chance?

-Dice-K walked eight batters and still found a way to lead Boston to a 6-3 win over Detroit. After the game, Hideki Irabu was seen taking off a Matsuzaka jersey.

-Speaking of Detroit, it shook things up by getting rid of Jacque Jones. Raise your hand if you knew Jacque Jones was still in the majors. Anyone?

The Stupid Stuff

-Jamie Moyer out duels Max Scherzer. Hahahahhaha.

The Awards

-The "Rob Deer" award goes to Richie Sexson, who hit his 7th HR this season. It's good to see Sexson back to his 35 HRs and .215 batting average.

What to Watch for Tonight

-The Celtics/Cavs series is a must see. So is the Cubs/Reds, where Zambrano and Harang duel it out. I'm also curious to see Sidney Ponson act like he's a good pitcher.

Monday, May 5, 2008

I hate you Mr. Baseball-Man

Crump Man: Carlos Zambrano- because he punched Michael Barrett in the face for calling a bad game behind the plate, causing him to get traded.

Xavier Hutchinson: Kevin Youkilis- "Hey Youk, your team is up 11-2, no reason to slam your helmet into the ground and go into a 'roid rage because you're 0 for 4 with 3 strikeouts and a GIDP."

The Flying Murino: AJ Pierzynski- just because he seems like a douchebag

The Sherm- Any Red Sox player

Turd Burglar- Jay Buhner Because he's bald, ugly, and he looks like John Malkovich.

Pods- Pat Burrell- because he kills the Mets

Favorite Chris Berman Nicknames

Chris Berman. He’s fat, he’s old, and he doesn’t really know much about sports. But, his clever and colorful player nicknames do provide the countless ESPN viewers with much amusement. I asked my fellow Freakers what their favorite “Bermanisms” were from past and present…

Xavier Hutchinson:
Eric "Sleeping With" Bieniemy

The Sherm:
Bert "Be Home" Blyleven

Scott "Supercalifragilisticexpiali" Brosius

Crump Man:
Damion "It didn't come" Easley
Albert "Winnie the" Pujols

The Flying Murino:
Jermaine "Live and Let" Dye

Turd Burglar:
Bernard “Innocent Until Proven” Gilkey
Eddie "eat, drink and be" Murray

Feel free to comment with some of your favorites. A detailed list can be found HERE.

Top 10...Signs You're a Fantasy Baseball Addict.

1) Your draft day has more buildup than your birthday. You countdown until the day when you can sit by your computer and click your mouse 25 times. You buy beer, order food, and get goosebumps as the draft begins.

2) You talk about your team as if they were your own sons, referring to your players as "My boys." You also talk about your players to other people that ignore 90% of what you say.

3) April 1st, Alex Rodriguez goes 0-for-4. April 2nd, you trade Alex Rodriguez.

4) April 1st, Paul Bako goes 4-for-4 with a HR. April 2nd, you trade Alex Rodriguez for Paul Bako.

5) You tell your friends you cant hang out because you're busy. You're really sitting home watching your pitcher pitch.

6) When you're watching that pitcher pitch, you are really watching the CBS Sportsline Scoreboard and ESPN Scoreboard while reading FantasyBaseballGenerals.com. After your pitcher throws a strike to start the game, you give a little fist pump.

7) You start dating your girlfriend at the beginning of May. After your team falls from 2nd to 5th within the next four weeks, you proceed to breakup with your girlfriend.

8) You can rattle off Greg Zaun's season-by-season stats from 2004-2008.

9) Your fantasy staff ace Roy Halladay is facing your favorite team, the Boston Red Sox. Halladay allows a grand slam to David Ortiz. You stand up and scream out "Damnit", then look around and make sure no one heard you.

10) After the season ends, you shed tears reflecting on the journey that was.

(Click The Sports Freakers to read more good stuff.)

What Makes a Sport a Sport?

This debate came about with a couple of friends on one very drunken night. We were flipping channels on the TV and came across a poker tournament being shown on ESPN. Us, being avid poker players and fans of the game, decided to watch some of the tournament. One of my friends said something to the extent of “Poker is always being shown on ESPN, but does anyone actually consider it a sport?” To this, I quickly replied “Hell no!” And that was the start of said debate.

So, how does one define a sport? What truly makes the games that we have come to love a sport? Everyone can easily classify “The Big 4” as sports, but what about other activities such as skateboarding and surfing? And what about golf and bowling?? Are those truly sports?

To help us identify which of the above really are sports, let’s go over a few main points that are absolutely necessary for a game or activity to be considered a sport:

1) Athletic/Physical Ability – A sport must require some sort of physical aspect. No ifs, ands, or buts. If you aren’t getting up off your ass and applying some sort of physical ability, then you simply are not involved in a sport.

2) A Level of Competition – This is another requirement, but the rules can get a little sticky here. A sport must have some sort of level of competition involved. Whether it be a 1 on 1 street basketball game, or a spring training MLB game, there must be competition. “But, what if I go out and play a round of golf on my own??” you say. Settle down, I’ll get to that.

3) The Human Factor – What I mean by this is that no humans are perfect. No athletes are perfect either. A major league baseball player who does his job 1/3rd of the time at the plate is considered an amazing hitter. A basketball player who nails 50% of his shots from the field is considered to be one of the best. So there must be some sort of element of error involved in a sport. When I sit down to play chess, I know that for every single move my opponent makes, there is a “best” move I can use to counter his move. Physical abilities aside, that right there would take away any chance chess may have of being considered a sport.

With that said, now let’s take a look at some activities/games up for debate:

Golf – Athletic/physical ability? Check. The Human Factor? Absolutely check. Competition? Well, when you are in a golf tournament, you are competing against other golfers. You may not be up in their face playing defense trying to distract them from sinking a birdie, but you are sure as hell competing against their score. When you are golfing on your own, you are definitely competing as well. You are competing against yourself, trying to beat a previous score, which is definitely still considered competition. Golf is a sport, no doubt.

Bowling – Like golf, everything that makes an activity a sport is there. You have the physical ability, even though it may not be as noticeable as other sports. You clearly have the human factor, unless you can show me a guy who bowls 300 every time he bowls. And the competition is the same type of competition that is involved with golf. Bowling is definitely a sport.

Poker – There is competition. There is even a human factor (or maybe more of a luck factor…). But unless someone proves to me that the harder you shove chips in the pot, or the faster you pick up your cards, helps you to win a tournament, I don’t think there is any athletic ability involved with the game. Sorry ESPN, poker is not a sport. You can now spend some more time covering actual sports, like hockey maybe?

The debate can go on forever, naming every game out there (can a video game be considered a sport??), so please, contribute to this debate. What other factors go into a game to make it be considered a sport?

This is STILL funny...


A Response: Top 10...Ways to Save Major League Soccer (Part 2)

Last week, I carried on the discussion started by The Sherm on Major League Soccer and its current status on the sports landscape. The title of The Sherm’s post was Top 10…Ways to Save Major League Soccer, and my immediate response was, well, soccer certainly doesn’t need “saving” in this country. Perhaps as little as seven or eight years ago that would have been the case, but it is not so now.

However, MLS is at what a lot of people see as a make or break juncture in its existence. David Beckham is in good form with the Los Angeles Galaxy and regularly drawing sell-out crowds. D.C. United just signed a front-of-jersey sponsorship deal with Volkswagen which will enable the team to rake in around $3.7 million annually and will make Volkswagen MLS’ major auto sponsor. These major steps forward must carry the league to the next plateau.

The Sherm’s Top 10 list was very interesting. For someone who has a familiarity with the game and the league but isn’t a die-hard like myself, some of the ideas were eye-opening, while others were downright implausible. Here is my response to his Top 10 and some of my ideas as well.

1. Reality TV show – This has already been done in a Spanish-language format. The show is called “Sueno MLS”, which translates to “MLS Dream.” While I think this is a good idea, you have to consider it this way. With MLS trying to gain credibility on the world stage (which many feel will attract more fans at home), how does it look if one of Chivas USA’s Starting XI won his spot through a reality show? A little “Mickey Mouse,” no?

2. Market Individual Players – Agreed here. MLS must do a better job of this. There are some very marketable, young American players in this league and you don’t really hear about anyone other than David Beckham. Some names: Jozy Altidore, Sacha Kljestan, Stuart Holden.

3. MLS teams vs. Premier League Teams – This has been tried and will continue into the foreseeable future. The problem here is that these are exhibition games and usually the Premier Leauge team is just starting their pre-season training. Plus, people come to the games to see the world-renown clubs and couldn't care less about the MLS team. It doesn’t do well for the league, even if the MLS team wins.

4. Bring Known Players to the League – Definitely a major focus of the league and something they should continue to pursue. The idea here is to get them while they can still play at a high level. At this point, a guy like Zinedine Zidane is 35…too old.

5. Bring a European-Based Team to MLS – Interesting theory, definitely displaying some “out of the box thinking” by The Sherm, but it would never work. Logistically it’s a nightmare. How many transatlantic flights would that team have to make?

6. Have a Community-Owned Team – While this probably won’t happen in the near future, the spirit of the idea is what’s important here. Get the fans involved! Make them feel like an important part of their clubs.

7. Make Soccer a One Day Event – This is very important. Other than ESPN’s Prime Time Thursday game, every MLS game should be played on Saturday night. Other than the odd baseball game here and there, Saturday night is the least congested sports night of the summer. Usually the Sunday afternoon and other mid-week games are very poorly attended.

8. Make Tickets Cheaper – When all teams are in their own stadiums, they will be better able to control prices. But teams like New York and New England, who pay handsomely just to use the football stadiums they play in, need to keep prices at a certain level so they don’t lose millions upon millions of dollars.

9. Player Meetings Before Games – Great idea here. A lot of teams are pimping out their players and should continue to do so.

10. Mic Up Players/Coaches/Refs – A very good idea, though ESPN usually overdoes this sort of thing and ruins the game. They can barely get sideline reporting right. I can’t tell you how many times they’ve gone to a useless report or interview and a goal has been scored or a penalty kick awarded. These moments are what make soccer the beautiful, tense game it is! 99% of a broadcast’s focus needs to be on the game and the game only. Look at telecasts from England, Spain, Italy. Nothing on the periphery. Just soccer, how it should be.

So there are my responses to The Sherm’s ideas. Here are two of mine, very quick.

Promote the U.S. Open Cup – And the crowd goes, “Huh?! What in God’s name is the U.S. Open Cup?” This is where I direct you to Wikipedia. Yes, MLS’ main focus should be its own league, but this tournament should be seen as a big asset. Every European league, and most leagues in the world, have “Cup Competitions” that take place during the season outside of league competition. The most well-known international competition is the UEFA Champions League, and the oldest domestic Cup Competition is England’s Football Association (FA) Cup. The U.S. Open Cup could really become soccer’s NCAA tournament. People in America love upsets and the U.S. Open Cup provides them.

Increase the Salary Cap – The league has seen marginal improvement of the quality of play over the last few years, but this has been hamstrung by the ridiculously low salary cap (around $2.3 million this year). Give MLS teams the resources to compete for players on the open market. Enable them to bring in young players in their primes, not just aging stars or unproven kids. Many players in Europe have expressed interest in coming to America (Thierry Henry and Didier Drogba among them), but the money keeps many of them away.

Sorry for the long post. With the Rangers eliminated from the playoffs, you can expect continuing soccer talk from me on the blog in the future. Til then, happy freaking!

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