Saturday, May 30, 2009

Manny Ramirez: All Star?

As of this writing, Manny Ramirez is about 34,000 votes shy of being voted a starting NL outfielder in the 2009 All Star Game. Does he deserve to be an all star when he misses 50 games for violating the league's drug policy? Of course not. Did MLB forsee this and put language in the All Star eligibility rules to prevent this? Of course not, baseball (and the union) have shown a willingness to do as little as possible, and only when public pressure forces them to act.

Let this be the fans giving a giant, public thumbs down to Bud Selig and how he handled the entire PEDs issue during his reign as commissioner. If you think Selig turned a blind eye to the problem until an entire era had been tainted by drug use, put him in an uncomofrtable position he's having nightmares about right now. Selig doesn't want Manny to play in the all star game, but he also doesn't want to have to step in and uninvite someone the fans nominated.

Make him make the decision, vote Manny into the All Star Game here.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Michael Vick

After 19 months, Michael Vick is out of federal prison for running a dogfighting ring. Vick's still not out of custody yet, as he's now under house arrest until July 20, and then goes on probation for at least 3 years, but he is out of the big house. Though he is still suspended from the league, we can move on to the next question:

Should Michael Vick get the chance to play football again?

Yes, he should.

True, Vick fought, abused, and killed countless dogs for "entertainment". True, Vick has given every indication that he's sorry that he got caught, period. To be fair, it's hard to demonstrate you're serious about changing your life when you're locked in a federal prison. And true, playing in the NFL is a privilege, not a right.

However, Vick committed a crime, went to prison, and as of July 20 will have paid the debt society itself decided it was owed. Once Vick is out, he will be a free man, a free man who deserves a chance to try and get his old job back.

How I could support letting a piece of scum like Vick back into the league? I give you two words: Leonard Little. In 1998, after leaving a birthday party, Little struck and killed a woman in St. Louis. His blew a 0.19 at the scene, more than twice the legal limit. For this, Little was suspended 8 games by the league (in addition to being sentenced to 90 days in jail). After that, he was allowed to return to the league and resume his career. In 2004, Little was charged (though later acquitted, despite failing 3 roadside sobriety tests) with DUI again, admitting at the scene that he had had some drinks that night. Under Goodell's predecessor, Little was suspended 0 games for being dumb enough to drive drunk again after killing someone less than 6 years earlier.

Yes, Goodell changed the league's interpretation of its disciplinary policy after both of Little's brushes with the law, so he doesn't have to be bound by the precedents set before his watch. And Michael Vick didn't "make a bad decision", he systematically tortured and killed many dogs over a prolonged period of time. But Leonard Little killed a person and was not banished for life by the league for it. Then, he showed remorse by driving after a few drinks again years later. Once is a bad decision that unfortunately turned tragic. Twice is a pattern. Michael Vick did a lot of terrible things, but he killed no human being, so banning him for life is unwaranted.

Does this mean Goodell should reinstate Vick immediately on July 20? No. Vick has been punished for his crimes. But simply being involved in the dogfighting ring was a black eye for the league. And when Goodell asked Vick about the charges back when the rumors were flying, Vick lied to Goodell's face and said he wasn't involved.

Goodell should continue Vick's suspension for 4-8 games, but by the halfway point of the 2009 NFL season, Michael Vick should be allowed to play on Sundays if an NFL team will sign him. Because even if he is reinstated, Vick will be a 29-year-old "quarterback" removed from the league for 2 years who's best attribute was his legs. There's no guarantee any of the 32 teams will give Vick a shot, but they should all be given the choice.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Blake Griffin: FML

The Los Angeles Clippers have won the draft lottery, so Blake Griffin is stuck in that pit of despair for the next 3 years of his life. Of course, they are the Clippers, and drafting Blake Griffin is the smart choice, so maybe they'll do something else.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Lou Merloni

Lou Merloni, native son of New England and former Red Sox player, surprisingly threw his old team under the bus earlier today.

From the New York Post:

"And I walk into that office, and this happened while I was with the Boston Red Sox before this last regime, I'm sitting in the meeting. There's a doctor up there and he's talking about steroids, and everyone was like 'Here we go, we're gonna sit here and get the whole thing -- they're bad for you.' No. He spins it and says 'You know what, if you take steroids and sit on the couch all winter long, you can actually get stronger than someone who works out clean, if you're going to take steroids, one cycle won't hurt you, abusing steroids it will.'

Now, this is a bombshell. Baseball already has a giant black eye relating to steroids because everyone believes the league and the teams turned a blind eye to its players juicing. But to suggest a team actively encouraged steroid use? That takes things to a whole new level.

Reading further, however, it seems Lou Merloni is about as good at this revelation stuff as he was at hitting major league pitching.

From the same story:

Merloni said he couldn't remember the name of the doctor or what year the meeting took place.

Oh. Well...ahh, hmmm...are you sure you don't remember trivial details like when this eye-opening meeting occurred? I don't want to call you a liar, or claim you're trying to make yourself relevant in a way your playing career never could, but this does make it just a touch more difficult to believe you. I can understand not wanting to name names, but I don't think we're going to shun February 25th if it turns out that's when this meeting occurred.

Really, giving us these kind of specifics isn't going to taint anyone you're not already trying to taint with the information you've already given us. Since you won't, excuse me, "can't" give us these details, I'm afraid all you're accomplishing is making Dan Duquette into a sympathetic figure. That is quite the accomplishment, but I have a feeling it's not really what you were going for.

Monday, May 11, 2009

NBA musings

The Cavaliers are a juggernaut, and LeBron's MVP coming out party is a sight to see...but Atlanta might have put up more resistance against Sherman. There was no way Atlanta was going to win this series, given the fact that they haven't won a big game on the road in 10 years, but next time maybe King James can at least break a sweat.

The referees already ruined the ending of game 3 of the Nuggets-Mavs series, and they're well on their way to doing the same to game 4. In playoff basketball, guys will get hit and fall to the floor, it happens. Yes, part of a ref's job is to keep control of the game, but if your method of keeping control is to call touch flagrant fouls, you're not doing the game or the fans any favors.

Big Baby, bigger baby

For those of you who missed it, the Celtics tied up their series with Orlando 2-2 on the back of a buzzer-beating jump shot by Glenn “Big Baby” Davis. Don't believe me? I don't blame you, here it is:

First of all, I thought Doc Rivers handled the postgame press conference well, responding to a question about the play with something like, "We draw it up to have a couple of options, and Baby played his role perfectly." In his shoes, I would have said something like, "Yeah, we've run that play 20 times in practice, and 20 times Big Baby hasn't sniffed the ball, I'm glad he knew what to do with it in this situation." Watch his reaction when the shot goes in, to say he was expecting good things to happen when Davis released the ball would be a lie that would make Bernie Madoff blush.

But the real story now, involves the kid you'll see at the 1:00 mark in the video. After Davis hits the shot, he ducks behind the referee, bumps the kid, and then acts like you'd expect a goofy, awkward kid would act when he tries to imitate Kevin Garnett. Well, now that kid's dad has written the league demanding an apology from Big Baby for the bump.

Really? Sure, it's unfortunate that the kid got bumped and that his hat fell off, but writing in to demand a written apology? That seems a bit over the top, considering 1) Davis clearly didn't mean to hit the kid, 2) the only thing that hit the floor was the kid's hat, he clearly wasn't hurt, and 3) the kid was practically on the court. Davis didn't run into the stands and seek out the contact, the kid was practically standing on the sideline.

You want to demand an apology for Davis acting like a lunatic for the 10 minutes immediately following his shot? I'll jump on that bandwagon. But right now your kid is known as the overweight kid bumped by Big Baby after he ruined Orlando's night. The blogs are not being kind, why drag this story out further?

Friday, May 8, 2009

Manny being Dirty

In case you missed it, Manny Ramirez was suspended 50 games yesterday for violating MLB's drug policy. Apparently he was caught with a female fertility drug in his system (in addition to unnatural testosterone). Manny claims his doctor prescribed him this drug for a "personal health issue".

Many were surprised at this news, and one of the reasons boiled down to this: If Ramirez was a juicer, how on earth did he manage to not get caught all of the years leading up to now? Manny may be the smartest hitter in the game, but he certainly isn't an Einstein in any other field.

I obviously have no information about Manny's past or present, but I do have a theory: Follow the money. I'm not going to say Manny never juiced as a Red Sox player, but I wil say he received new motvation to juice as a Dodger. While with Boston, Ramirez was playing under an 8-year, $160 million contract, with team options to make it a 10-year, $200 million one. You may recall that Manny acted like a spoiled teenager when the team refused to make a decision on the option before last season, all but forcing a trade to LA and voiding those team option years.

For the first time in 8 years, Manny was playing for a contract. All of a sudden, a switch flips, and Manny begins destroying the National League. Along comes the offseason, and all of a sudden, Manny's not getting many offers. He's looking for a 4-year $80-100 million deal, and no one's going above 2 years. Whether it's his age, his atrocious defense (yes, atrocious, the Monster protected Manny and made him look like merely another bad outfielder 81 times a year), or the stunts he pulled to get out of Boston, teams weren't biting. In the end, Manny signs a 1 year deal with a player option for next season.

Guess what? It's a contract year again, and with Manny running out of time to get his last big deal, there motivation to squeeze every last drop of talent out of his body that wasn't necessarily there during his first 7 years in Boston.

On the other hand, it's not like Manny was caught with simple steroids or amphetamines in his system. He was caught with a hormone that gets the body back to producing testosterone naturally after a steroid cycle. It stands to reason that to know how to use the more sophisticated stuff, you've already gotten comfortable with the simpler ways of the juice.

We'll never know if Manny became a juicer or simply got caught this season (well, unless SI gives him the ARod treatment), but his motivations certianly have shifted these last 2 seasons...unless you believe Manny isn't all about the money, and if that's true, I've got some B-12 shots and flaxseed oil to sell you.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Yankees thinking of changing uniforms

To this:

Since more than 60% of their fans are now showing up to the games dressed like this, I think it makes sense. When the 7th inning of a Red Sox-Yankee game (even in May) looks like this:

Then you have a problem. Next time, perhaps you should spring for a retractable roof and Ben Sheets instead of CC Sabathia and AJ Burnett. Your pitching won't be any worse, and your fans won't be left out of the stadium due to poorly communicated rain delays.