Sunday, May 31, 2009
Links of the Day 5/31/09
Saturday, May 30, 2009
Position in the Spotlight: Cleveland
So which direction should we go for position in the spotlight? The Browns have had the most success of the 3 franchises, and are also probably the most popular team in town. They are also known for having arguably the greatest running back of all time, Jim Brown. So running back is an easy choice here, right? I don't think so. Jamal Lewis is a very good running back, but I don't really think any Cleveland fans watch him with the expectation of filling Jim Brown's massive shoes, and they haven't really had a solid running back that was with the team for several years since the early 90s. So, for my position in the spotlight pick, I'm choosing a position that many highly touted college players have attempted, but few have enjoyed a large amount of success at. That position is Cleveland Browns Quarterback.
The bar was set high for the Browns when they started play in the AAFC back in 1946 with their inaugural Quarterback, Otto Graham. Graham was actually a star tailback at Northwestern before being drafted by the Lions (4th overall in 1944), but after a term of service in the coast guard and a new contract from the Browns, he switched to quarterback. Graham turned the brand new franchise into the most feared team in football and won 4 consecutive AAFC titles from 1946-1949 before the league merged with the NFL in 1950. As one of only 2 teams (49ers were the other) to actually join the NFL in the merger, their AAFC titles were looked down upon by the rest of the league, but Graham shut up the detractors and won the 1950 NFL championship. He then led the Browns back to the NFL championship game in 1951, 1952, and 1953, where they lost, but then won the NFL championship in 1954 and 1955 before retiring. In total, he won 7 championships and 10 title game appearances in 10 years of play, and has the best winning percentage of any quarterback to ever play.
Filling in for Graham was Tommy O'Connell, who led the Browns back to the title game in 1957, which also happened to be Jim Brown's rookie year. After a few mediocre seasons with Milt Plum, Frank Ryan brought some balance back to the team, leading the NFL is passing TDs in 1964 and winning another NFL title for the Browns. The Browns also returned to the NFL title game in 1965 with Ryan, which was Jim Brown's last season. The tandom of Bill Nelsen and hall of fame RB Leroy Kelly, resulted in 2 more trips to the NFL title game for the Browns in 1968 in 1969.
Shortly after the merger the Browns began to sink, and taking over for Bill Nelson was highly touted college prospect Mike Phipps, who the Browns drafted 3rd overall in 1970. Phipps enjoyed a nice first season as starter in the record books, but not with his individual stats. The retirement of Leroy Kelly and Phipps' high number of interceptions quickly dropped the Browns to one of the worst teams in the league, and backup QB Brian Sipe wasn't providing much help. Sipe eventually became the starter in 1976, and the Browns wallowed in mediocrity (except in 1980) until Sipe retired in 1983.
After a year of former backup Paul McDonald in 1984, the Browns grabbed Miami's Bernie Kosar with the first pick of the 1985 supplemental draft (because there were issues with his eligibility during the actual draft) and was named starter after a few games. Kosar helped turn the franchise around, leading the Browns to 3 AFC title games in the late 80s, but he couldn't get over the hump, losing all 3 to the Broncos. Kosar started to fade in the early 90s, eventually being released in 1993 after being replaced by Vinny Testeverde. Testeverde was another highly touted college quarterback from Miami, drafted #1 overall by the Buccaneers. He basically did what he does best, play mediocre.
When the Browns returned to the NFL in 1999, the were given the 1st pick in the NFL draft. Coincidentally, 1999's quarterback class was being compared at the time to 1983's, with 5 quarterbacks being selected in the first round. The Browns went with Kentucky's Tim Couch. Couch failed to live up to expectations and the Browns struggled with him. The Browns struggled to find a decent replacement for Couch after releasing him, and returned to the draft well once again in 2007, picking up Notre Dame's Brady Quinn, who slipped dramatically in the first round, giving the Browns the chance to pick him up. The Browns cut Charlie Frye after only one game in 2007 and promoted Quinn to backup behind another youngster, Derek Anderson. Anderson then proceeded to come out of nowhere and have a great season, leaving Quinn on the bench, and raising Cleveland's fans hopes that Anderson might be "the one." Unfortunately, Anderson came back down to earth last season and injuries destroyed the team. It seems likely Quinn will win the starting spot this year, and he will try to buck the nearly 40 year trend of top quarterback prospects failing to lead the Browns to the promised land.
Honorable Mention: Cleveland Browns running back: The Browns started their existence with 3 excellent hall of fame running backs, Marion Motley, Jim Brown, and Leroy Kelly. Since then they have had some other good running backs in Greg Pruitt, Kevin Mack, and Earnest Byner, but haven't had a consistent running back since returning to the NFL in 1999.
Whoever ends up replacing Lebron James as the Cav's star player: He won't be as good as LeBron. Fans won't like him. I promise, I've seen it happen with my favorite team, the Bulls.
I couldn't think of a good single position for the Indians. Feel free to post your suggestions in the comments.
Links of the Day 5/30/09
Friday, May 29, 2009
The reason people pay attention to splits
Anyways, the other day, I was hunting down something on baseball-reference, and as part of it, I had to look up Bush's home run history. Left handed Randy Bush was your prototypical platoon player. OK, maybe not prototypical. Definitely someone who shouldn't have been used against left handers. He hit 96 career homers, for example, and all of them, every single one, was against a right handed pitcher. Apparently Twins management saw pretty quick that he wasn't the best choice for playing time against lefties. He had a total of 100 at bats in his entire career against lefties, and only had 15 hits for a .150 average. Would something like this, the Randy Bush phenomenon, happen today? Ever? Managers would generally be able to pitch around him all the time, what with the propensity for most managers to use a pitcher per batter, right? So, here's to Randy Bush, king of the platoon players
Links of the Day 5/29/09
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Links of the Day 5/28/09
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Position in the Spotlight: Kansas City
There is another team that plays in Kansas City for many of their home games. In fact, this team has compiled an 80-24 record while playing in Kansas City at Kemper Arena in Kansas City, despite officially calling Lawrence, 40 miles to the west, home. I'm speaking, of course, of the University of Kansas Men's Basketball team. For as beloved as the Chiefs and Royals are in Kansas City, no team has the history of the Jayhawks. In an easy pick, the Position in the Spotlight is the Kansas Jayhawks Mens Basketball Coach.
KU has been marked by long tenures and winning teams. In fact, in the school's history, only one coach has ever had a losing record, James Naismith. Inarguably, the worst coach in the history of KU basketball was the inventor of the game. That should give you an idea of how good his successors were.
His immediate succesor was Forrest C "Phog" Allen. Naismith said once to Allen that "You can't coach basketball, you just play it." Of course, Allen went out and proved him wrong, becoming known as the Father of basketball coaching. The arena in Lawrence to this day bears his name. He was at the university for 39 seasons and won only one NCAA Titile, because his career predated the NCAA tournament.
After Allen retired, Dick Harp took over, leading the Jayhawks, including Wilt Chamberlain to the national title game, losing in overtime to North Carolina. Ted Owens followed Harp and led the tea to the Final Four twice.
In 1983, the shortest tenured coach, and one who actually won a title with the Jayhawks, was Larry Brown. This is the same Larry Brown, of course, who was featured in our Indianapolis sporlight.
Unfortunately, Brown was involved in a recruiting scandal at Kansas and was replaced by someone else who has been in someone elses spotlight, Roy Williams, who moved on to North Carolina. Williams went 418-101 with the Jayhawks, which is an incredible record, of course. Among his other notable accomplishments was making the tournament every year after the probation year at the beginning of his career, going undefeated in the Big 12 in 2001-2002 and two trips to the Final Four. For as incredible as his teams were, he was continually dogged by critics who noted his inability to win the title.
After Williams left for North Carolina, Kansas hired Bill Self away from Illinois. After a rough start, including early round Tournament losses, he also has a winning percentage over .800. His coaching style and recruiting brilliance eventually took, and the Jayhawks won their first national title since Larry Brown coached the team. Self continues to coach there, and was named the NCAA Coach of the Year last year.
Honorable Mention: Royals third basemen: The Royals won the World Series in 1985, thanks in large part to the contributions of Hall of Famer George Brett. The Royals have had several good players before and since then, but Mark Teahen and Alex Gordon are the most recent to hear the hype. Is he te next George Brett?
Chiefs Linebacker: The hallmark of the Chiefs has always been the defensive side of the ball, thanks in no small part to the ferocity of their linebackers. Hall of Famers Bobby Bell, Willie Lanier and Derrick Thomas all spent their careers in Kansas City.
Chiefs Kicker: Jan Stenerud and Nick Lowery, two of the most prolific kickers in the history of the game called Kansas City home for a good portion of their careers.
Links of the Day 5/27/09
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
I don't know why this happens
You are pathetic. Not only are you absolutely wrong as regards your recitation of history, your perspective is warped by your own blind jealosy. What happened, did you apply and were not accepted? Don't even get me atarted about Purdue - one story concerning the athletic recruitment of my son back in 1995 and the pride Purdue's head coach (track & field) showe when explaining how the Purdue scholarship athletes did not need to worry about classes as everythign would be taken care of for them. This was enough to turn off my son (a stellar and heavily recruited athlete) as academics were important to him. He is now a physician after having competed for four years for Notre Dame and being ranked 5th in the Big East in his event. Purdue and academics do not even belong in the same universe when discussing scholarship athletes. Get a clue.Pathetic. Absolutely wrong. Blindly jealous. Clueless. Angry blog comments are the best. But let's break this down, shall we? First, Steve, I can assure you, did not apply to Notre Dame. As he mentioned, he went into his college search already hating Notre Dame. He said that, but I doubt you actually read any of his post. You see, Steve wanted to be an engineer, Purdue's forte, not a lawyer or douchebag, which is apropos of a degree from Notre Dame.
Second, I don't understand this whole thing about the Purdue track and field team. Did Steve even mention the Purdue student athletes? No. He talked about hypocrisy in the Notre Dame hype machine. But good that you decided to drag Mike Poehlein's (thats the track coaches name, by the way) name through the mud, even though he hasn't ever been tagged for any violations in 25 years on the job. But you're right, if that's your point. Student athletes aren't always the best students. We admit that, but Notre Dame doesn't. Actually, wasn't that Steve's point?
It's too bad you posted anonymously, sir, because with your mastery of the English language, from syntax to spelling, I would want to know your name, if just so I could avoid going to your son's practice, in case he has your attention to detail.
But back to the title. We here at the Times are pretty easy going folk. I get livid about some stuff, but frankly, I don't have a problem with anyone. Why do so many have a problem with us? I think I'm getting a complex.
Links of the Day 5/26/09
Monday, May 25, 2009
Reviewing Indianapolis and Oakland
I'll start with Indianapolis since we looked there first. I probably should have at least mentioned the Indianapolis 500, even if I didn't pick anyone of that race. It's the premier event in the city, and no doubt, a lot of attention is paid to the winner. It's like if we checked out Louisville and didn't mention the Kentucky Derby. Ultimately, however, I would have a tough time making the Indy 500 Pole Sitter or Winner or even Driver the Position in the Spotlight. Take this year, for instance, Helio Castroneves was both the pole sitter and winner of the race, however he didn't bring the title back to Indianapolis, he just happened to win the race there. Nevertheless, I was remiss in not mentioning the Indy 500.
In Oakland, we got close to an important position that we didn't ultimately mention. In the honorable mention section, Steve talked about the Oakland starters, however I think we should have mentioned the other end of the A's pitching staff. The closer role in Oakland has always been of great import. Dennis Eckersley anchored the role for many years, with Rollie Fingers before him. Since then, the A's have always had decent to good closers, from Keith Foulke to Jason Isringhausen to Huston Street. It was tough, because I think Oakland has been the most historically significant city that we've seen thus far, so something was bound to be left out.
Labels: Position in the Spotlight
Links of the Memorial Day
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Links of the Day 5/24/09
Victoria Times at a Crossroads
Here's the deal. We love Cliff Floyd. He was an easy punchline back in the day when he had one of the worst contracts in baseball. Seems like a long time ago, doesn't it? Well, since then, he has become so much more than that to us. He's sort of like a father figure, and in honor of Steve's wedding last year, I sponsored Cliff's Baseball-Reference page.
Well, now the sponsorship is expiring. I would love to sponsor the page again, but the price of Cliff Floyd's page has jumped to nearly 50 bucks. Is it because he was a former All Star? Is it because he played in the largest market in the world? Is it because he was the 97th greatest Devil Ray of all time?
Well anyways, what should we do? Should we re-up the sponsorship, and have Cliff's enormous contract fittingly like an albatross around our necks (how much money do you think we make here?). Should we let him go and let him get sponsored by some unruly Mets fan? Help!
Labels: Cliff Floyd
Saturday, May 23, 2009
Links of the Day 5/23/09
Another Twins cycle!
Friday, May 22, 2009
Links of the Day 5/22/09
Thursday, May 21, 2009
In baseball there have been a number of deaths relating to current players so far this season. One can start with the tragic circumstances surrounding the Angels rookie pitcher Nick Adenhart. He was a 22-year-old young man who had just recorded his first major league win.
It was reported this weekend that the mother of MLB players Dimiri and Delmon Young passed away after a battle with cancer. Delmon is a 23-year-old young man, who is facing the funeral of his mother; that's something I hope I don't have to face for many years, and I'm much older than Delmon.
It was reported yesterday that the children of Diamondbacks relief pitcher Scott Schoenweis found their mother dead in her bedroom. Scott and his wife had just celebrated their tenth anniversary, and were raising four children. Mrs. Schoenweis was reportedly 39 years old. There are four children who have lost their mother.
I think it’s easy for fans to look at players as simply means of entertainment. When a player has a bad game, or series, or year, we tend to complain that the player is no good. These guys are people, too. They’re living lives, they have family they care about, and they deal with many of the same things we do (although with a lot more money). I’m not saying they all deserve a free pass to mess up games however they want, but this is a firm example of why I don’t believe in booing my team. Yes, it’s frustrating to see them do dumb things. But behind that bat or glove is a very real young man.
Really, when it all comes down to it, it’s just a game.
Just don’t tell me that when I’m sitting there watching a game. Because at that moment, it’s a matter of life to me, too.
Links of the Day 5/21/09
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Position in the Spotlight: Oakland
We're heading west for the next position in the spotlight city, Oakland, California. We decided to split San Francisco and Oakland up because of the cross town rivalries that exist in more than 1 sport, and the fact San Francisco's pick is obvious (we even mentioned it in the preview). Oakland actually has more pro sports teams than San Francisco, 3-2. They have the A's, the Raiders, and the Golden State Warriors, who play in the Oakland Coliseum parking lot. These teams, especially the A's and Raiders, have enjoyed a lot of success, with the 3 teams combining to win 7 championships (1 of the Raiders Super Bowls was in Los Angeles) since moving to town in various years of the 60s, but I noticed that it was hard to find a certain position that really stood out throughout a team's history. The A's have always had success with extremely well balanced teams, combining great pitching, hitting, and speed, and the Raiders have had a lot of success at running back, linebacker, defensive back, and wide reciever. There is one position though that was in the spotlight for one reason 30 years ago, and a totally different reason today, and that is my pick: Oakland Raiders Head Coach.
After a few rough years in the early days of the AFL, the Raiders hired a former USC offensive ends coach to try to turn the team around. His name? Al Davis. Yes, that Al Davis. Davis immediately turned the team around, won coach of the year in 1963, and the Raiders legend was born. After Davis left the Raiders coaching job to become part owner of the team and AFL commissioner in 1966, he was replaced by his assistant, John Rauch. Rauch brought the Raiders to a level that they hadn't been before, leading the Raiders to the 1967 AFL Championship and a trip to Super Bowl II, which they lost. Rauch led the Raiders back to the 1968 AFL Championship game but ended up quitting as head coach because of frequent interference from Davis....
Around this time, the Raiders were quickly becoming known as pro football's "bad boys," with a lot of players with colorful personalities. Davis gladly brought in all of the "problem" players of the NFL and turned them into winners. He needed a coach with a personality as big as his renegade players, and he found it in 32 year-old linebackers coach John Madden. Madden reigned in his talent and led the Raiders to the playoffs all but 2 years coaching the team from 1969-1978, winning Super Bowl XI in 1976 and leading the team to several AFC Championship games. Madden has the highest winning percentage of any modern day coach at .763 (2nd all-time to someone that only coached for 6 years in the 20's). Madden eventually left the team due to his fear of flying but left an extremely talented team behind and some huge shoes to fill.
Davis replaced Madden with his old quarterback from the 60's, Tom Flores, which made Flores the first latino head coach in NFL history. With a new quarterback in Jim Plunkett and a lot of the same talent from the 70's, Flores brought Oakland it's 2nd Super Bowl in 1980, and he made Dick Vermeil cry (ok, that's not too hard). This was all occuring while Davis was trying to move his team to Los Angeles, and he succeeded before the 1982 season...
The Raiders didn't lose many fans in Oakland after their move. They would never convert over to the hated Niners and many traveled to LA for the games (they were already used to traveling to San Diego once a year), so I'll touch on it briefly here. Flores won the Raiders another Super Bowl in 1983 and moved to the front office in 1988, replaced by Mike Shanahan. Shanahan was fired half way through 1989 (and according the ESPN still owns an Al Davis dart board 20 years later...damn, that's one bitter man), and was replaced by the NFL's first African-American head coach, hall of fame offensive lineman Art Shell. Shell led the Raiders to the playoffs 3 times before being fired after the 1994 season, coincidentally the same year the Raiders moved back to Oakland.
Things began to change for the Raiders head coaching position when they moved back to Oakland in 1995. Davis was increasingly interferring with his coaches and was growing more impatient with his hires. Mike White coached the team for only 2 years before being fired on Christmas Eve in 1996. He was replaced by Joe Bugel, who led the Raiders to their worst season since 1962 in 1997, and was abruptly fired. Davis then turned back to the strategy he used with John Madden back in the 60's, and hired the rising young coaching star, Jon Gruden. Gruden was a winner, turning the Raiders back around to a dominant force in the AFC, until he was "traded" to the Buccaneers after the 2001 season for draft picks after a controversial playoff loss to the Patriots.
Gruden was replaced by his offensive coordinator and former head coach of my rival high school, Bill Callahan. Gruden's success helped the Raiders attract a lot of talented players as free agents, and Callahan took his ready made championship-caliber team all the way to the Super Bowl in 2002, staying the course with Gruden's system and playbook in tact. Irony works in funny ways though, and the Raiders wound up running head first into Gruden and the Bucs in the Super Bowl. Tampa's defense played like they memorized the playbooks (they probably did, since they were Gruden's) and Rich Gannon threw 5 interceptions on their way to losing badly. Callahan was fired after going 4-12 the next season.
Davis's reputation as a boss was really starting to deteriotate at this point, and he was having a hard time finding a good head coach for his team. He turned to former Redskins head coach Norv Turner, who had already proved by this point in his career that he is a great offensive coordinator and a lousy head coach. After 2 seasons, Turner was fired. After a long search in 2006, the Raiders turned back to Art Shell, who hadn't been a head coach since being fired in 1994. After 2-14 season (the 2nd worst in team history) Shell was fired. Gruden went back to the fountain of youth for the 3rd time and hired Lane Kiffin, who even kind of looked like John Gruden if you squint a little, visor and all. Things got ugly quickly, with Davis trying to force Kiffin to quit so he wouldn't have to pay out his contract. It eventually led to Kiffin being fired early in the 2008 season and being replaced by Tom Cable, who was again nowhere near any other team's head coaching radars. The Raiders showed some life under Cable last year, and only time will tell how he fares as head coach. But either way, the Raiders head coaching job is in the spotlight both for the legends of the past, and the controversy of the present.
Oakland A's 1-2 starters: The A's have had their share of (steroid-enhanced) sluggers over the years, but they have had their most success when having a great 1-2 punch at the top of the pitching rotation. From Catfish Hunter and Vida Blue in the 70s, to Dave Stewart and Bob Welch in the 80s and early 90s, to Tim Hudson and Barry Zito in the early 00's, the A's always seem to find themselves good pitching.
Oakland Raiders Wide Reciever: Al Davis loves speed, and he loves great wide receivers. The Raiders have had some good ones over the years, from hall of famer Fred Biletnikoff in the late 60s and early 70s, to Cliff Branch in late 70s/early 80s, to future hall of famer Tim Brown in the 90s, and even future hall of famer Jerry Rice in the early 00's. They even had Randy Moss for a few years. Will controversial 1st round pick Darrius Heyward-Bey be the next great one?
Links of the Day 5/20/09
Doogie Howser's best friend among the top draft prospects
With the NBA Draft lottery last night (the Timberwolves will be picking 6th), it's time to look at some of the prospects. The foreign prospects are the ones you are least likely to know. The top international player is Doogie Howser's childhood friend Vinnie Delpino, who, as he grew older, decided to change his name to Ricky Rubio (like that's a real name anyways) and play basketball.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Links of the Day 5/19/09
Monday, May 18, 2009
Position in the spotlight: Indianapolis
I, like Steve, have spent some time in Indiana. There is no doubt about it, the state is a basketball state. Notre Dame and Purdue have been successful on the football field, bringing attention to the college game. They are not Indianapolis schools, and there are no college teams in town. There is a pro team, the Colts, that has reached some success over the past several years, thanks in large part to the arrival of Peyton Manning. Before this, the Colts were perennial bottom feeders.
On the other hand, the Indiana Pacers are the preeminent sports team in the city of Indianapolis. Obviously, right now the Pacers aren't the team that they once were, but if you look at the effort the Pacers ownership puts into making the team relevent, it's clear how important the franchise is. The position that receives the most emphasis, and is our Position in the Spotlight is the Indiana Pacers Head Coach. The Pacers have really only ever had one true superstar, Reggie Miller. Sure there have been plenty of good players that have passed through Conseco Fieldhouse, from Rik Smits to Detlef Schrempf to Ron Artest to Jermaine O'Neal. Only for a few years, though, did the Pacers really have the talent to put together deep playoff runs. Often, over the course of the past few years, the star of the team was the head coach.
The Pacers have had a recent run, in which the head coach is either a Hall of Famer or was met with success at another franchise previously. Starting in 1993, the Pacers have had Hall of Fame coach Larry Brown, Hall of Famer Larry Bird, future Hall of Famer Isaiah Thomas, former Pistons coach Rick Carlisle and are currently helmed by former Celtics coach Jim O'Brien. The hiring trend suggests that the Pacers realize that the position of head coach in Indianapolis is one with a lot of pressure, not one to be given to a guy with little experience.
It's not like those guys are any slouches either. O'Brien, there since 2007, is the first head coach not to reach the playoffs with the Pacers since Dick Versace, who coached the 89-90 seasons. The coaches at the helm for the past 20 years or so have led the Pacers to a 80-72 record, not bad when you consider that they have never had the game changer like Lebron or Kobe, or the stable of studs like the Celtics do currently. Not that a record above .500 is bad anyways.
So, with that being said, you would think the Pacers coaching lineage just goes back to the early '90s. Early in their existence, the Pacers also had Hall of Famer Dr. Jack Ramsey and 1980-81 coach of the the year Jack McKinney lead the Pacers.
Honorable Mention: Indianapolis Colts running back - Part of the problem with the Colts over time was that they focused on running back for such a long time despite not ever really having an offensive line. The passing game took off with the arrival of Peyton Manning and a pass blocking scheme, but before that... boy did they have some good runners. It started with Eric Dickerson, then Marshall Faulk, both of whom were involved with trades with the Rams (Dickerson from, Faulk to). Later, with Faulk in St. Louis, the Colts nabbed Colts rushing leader Edgerrin James. Since then, they have spent two more first round picks on running backs, Joseph Addai and Donald Brown.
Links of the Day 5/18/09
Sunday, May 17, 2009
Apparently, Steve was right
After every Position in the Spotlight, I try to find some sites to let them know what we did and see if they have any input on the topic. Steve featured North Carolina earlier, and I talked specifically with Dave McBrayer, my cohort from Barry Melrose Rocks and Carolina on Ice. Even he, upon reading Steve's post, mentioned that Michael Jordan was from Wilmington and played for UNC, suggesting there may be as much pressure on future Jordans as there is on the Earnhardts.
Earlier in the week, I took a look at Nashville. Both Music City Miracles, a Titans blog, and Preds on the Glass, a Predators blog, were both quite taken by the question of who would leave a greater legacy in their town, which sort of proves the point of my post. Nashville's sports future is much more interesting than their past.
Labels: Position in the Spotlight
Links of the Day 5/17/09
Saturday, May 16, 2009
Let's review my preseason picks
Links of the Day 5/16/09
Friday, May 15, 2009
In which I get worked up about Delmon Young again
While I was looking for the links today, looking for news on Delmon Young and why he was away from the team, and I came across this article. I understand that many people don't want to see Delmon Young in the outfield. I've made my peace with that. There are many reasonable arguments for it, namely Young is a less than quality outfield, and his power numbers are not where we want them to be for a corner outfielder. That being said, it's things like this that irritate me.
The facts the author, Andrew Scherber, spells out are a perfect example of looking at small sample sizes and going into a situation with a bias. Let's review:
Gomez critics cite his high- strikeout propensity, low batting average (.214) and on-base percentage (.274), and terrible approach at the plate as reasons why he should be sitting on the bench.
But Young's approach and plate discipline are equally as bad.
Gomez has scored just as many runs as Young, too (10).
The only reason this would be a valid point is if both Gomez and Young got their hits, called "ghost runner!" and then ran back and hit. It's not Young's fault he hits ahead of Nick Punto, and Gomez is often a pinch runner, who gets put on base without getting hits, and gets to be on in front of RBI machines.
In 83 plate appearances, Young has only one home run and even more astonishing: only two extra base hits all year (that single home run included). There are dozens of players in the minor leagues who could hit .270 with little to no power, nothing special.
Again, I would rather have Young, hitting .277, in the lineup than the guy hitting .214. As for the 2 extra base hits, I would like to point out that it's fricking MAY. Barely halfway through, at that. And Delmon Young is a slow starter. He was last year, and ended up being solid down the stretch. Again, maybe Delmon would start getting better pitches to drive were he not batting ahead of Nick Punto.
Argue that you prefer speed and defense over offense, and I have no problem with you. We may differ philosophically, but it's not like either of us are going to change our preferences. Trying to railroad the superior offensive player by using bullsh*t statistical analysis is where I have the problem.
Links of he Day 5/15/09
The Indians GM says this now, but keep in mind, Wedge was Steve's choice for Manager of the Year. The kiss of death.
The Blackhawks have sure bounced back quickly, huh? Consider me among those pulling for the Blackhawks from here on out.
Labels: Links of the Day
Thursday, May 14, 2009
The last two Twins games have sure been exciting, huh? Twins fans everywhere, after resuscitating themselves, may want to shake Joe Crede's hand. I'm so excited I won't even point out the inexplicable decision not to play Delmon Young in a day game following a 14 inning game the night before in which he didn't play.
Labels: Minnesota Twins
Links of the Day 5/14/09
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Position in the Spotlight: North Carolina
The next stop on our Position in the Spotlight tour takes us to North Carolina. Like Nashville, North Carolina is relatively new in the pro sports world. They have 3 teams: the Carolina Panthers, who started in 1995, the Carolina Hurricanes, who moved to North Carolina in 1997, and the Charlotte Bobcats, who started in 2004. They also had the Hornets in the NBA from 1988-2002 before they moved to New Orleans. In their short existences, the Panthers and Hurricanes have enjoyed some success, with the Panthers going to the Super Bowl in 2003 and the Hurricanes winning the 2006 Stanley Cup. But we are forgetting something very important....
North Carolina is crazy about college basketball. The ACC revolves around the state, which has 4 colleges as members. The biggest rivalry in college basketball is Duke and North Carolina, and both teams have large national followings. Both have enjoyed an amazing amount of success, and have had several, long tenured, iconic coaches. So my choice for position in the spotlight is a tie (because they are so tied together), Duke and North Carolina Basketball Head Coaches.
Let's start with Duke. Their first big name head coach was none other than Eddie Cameron, who coached the team from 1929-1942. During his tenure, he won 3 conference championships and Duke's current stadium is named for him. Even more amazing, Cameron coached Duke's football team for a short time as well and was instrumental in helping to create the ACC.
Gerry Gerard and Harold Bradley followed Cameron and won some additional conference championships, but it was Vic Bubas that brought them to the national stage, leading the Blue Devils to 3 Final Four appearances and 4 ACC championships in the 60s. After some rough years in the early 70s, Bill Foster took Duke to the 1978 Final Four.
Duke became a force to be reckoned when current "Coach K" Mike Krzyzewski took over in 1980. In an extremely competitive conference, Coach K has led Duke to 11 conference championships in 29 seasons. Even more impressive, he has taken Duke to the Final Four 10 times and has won 3 national championships. Coach K has become a celebrity of sorts in sports, and he even coached the 2008 USA Olympic basketball team to the gold medal. Whoever replaces Coach K one day will most definitely be in the spotlight.
Now lets head down Tobacco Road to an even more successful ACC program, North Carolina. North Carolina has only had 5 head coaches since 1953, and those coaches have combined to win 27 regular season ACC titles, 17 ACC tournaments, 17 Final Four appearances, and 5 National Championships. The first was Frank McGuire, who coached the team from 1953-1961, and brought home the Tar Heels' first NCAA championship in 1957.
Replacing McGuire was one of the most famous college basketball coaches of all time, Dean Smith. Smith coached the team for 37 years until 1997, leading his team to 11 Final Fours and 2 National Championships. Smith also posted 879 wins as North Carolina head coach, and was able to recruit a ton of spectacular players to play for him, including Michael Jordan. Like Coach K, Smith also led the USA Basketball team to a gold medal.
After Smith retired, he was replaced by his long time assistant Bill Guthridge. Guthridge was already an old man when he took over the team, and only coached them for 3 years, but he still led his team to 2 Final Four appearances in 1998 and 2000. North Carolina hit a shocking low point after Guthridge retired, hiring inexperienced Matt Doherty out of Notre Dame. Doherty caved under the tremendous pressure, and was fired after only 3 seasons. The Tar Heels needed another coach with big-time experience, and they found it in Roy Williams.
When you can steal the Kansas basketball head coach away to coach your team, you know your program is a big deal. Williams came to Carolina after winning 10 conference championships in 15 years at Kansas, including 4 Final Four appearances. After only 1 season to turn around the team in 2003-04, he was cutting down the nets as a national champion in 2004-05. He hasn't stopped there, either. He also took the Heels to the 2008 Final Four and won the national championship just this year. At 58 years old, he won't be coaching the team for 37 years like Dean Smith, but he will definitely leave the next North Carolina coach with lofty expectations to meet.
Dale Earnahrdt, Jr. and his unborn children - I know its kind of a strange one, but after #3 died at Daytona in 2001, Little E inherited his entire fan base in NASCAR, hoping he can perform as well as his legendary old man. If any of his future children want to get into racing, watch out. I put this here because the Earnhardt family is from North Carolina.
Links of the Day 5/13/09
Whatifsports has been bought out
Labels: Kirby Puckett
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Links of the Day 5/12/09
Monday, May 11, 2009
Position in the Spotlight: Nashville
Both teams are around a decade old now, and, incredibly, particularly in this day in age, both teams have the coach taht orginally came with the team. Jeff Fisher has brought the most success to his team, going to the Super Bowl in 1999 and going to the playoffs a total of 6 times, leading his team to a 120-104 record. Trotz, on the other hand has not been met with the same success. Even so, he brought the Preds to the playoffs 4 years in a row, with the streak ending this year.
This is the problem with Nashville with regards to the sports teams. No doubt that both franchises value the contribution of their head coaches, but since there has been only one coach for each franchise, it's hard to tell which legacy will be carried on. That's why we need to turn to the players on the field, but only acknowledging that this will likely change in the next decade.
The choice for Nashville, after all that, is Titans quarterback. The Titans came to Nashville with former third overall pick and future three time Pro Bowler Steve McNair. McNair was one of the original mobile quarterbacks, following in the footsteps of Randall Cunningham. He led the team ot the Super Bowl in 1999, where they came just short of the title (by a yard) against the Rams.
Fisher and the Titans thought so highly of McNair's play with the Oilers/Titans for so many years that when they needed a new franchise quarterback and had the third overall pick once again, they drafted another gifted, mobile quarterback, Vince Young. The pressure was so extraordinary that he had a well documented mental breakdown this year. Kerry Collins, a seasoned veteran, was able to step in and lead the Titans to a very good season again this year.
Honorable Mention: Titans Running Back: Like McNair and the quarterback, the Titans came to Nashville with a good running back in Eddie George. Since then, despite good ground games, they have mostly had a running back by committee.
Predators Center: 4 of the top 8 leading scorers in history have been centers (David Legwand, Greg Johnson, Cliff Ronning and Jason Arnott) and 2 of the 4 captains (Johnson, Arnott).
Labels: Position in the Spotlight
Links of the Day 5/11/09
Finally, a reason to be interested in the Timberwolves
For those who don't know, when I started writing sports (back then at a geocities site... those were the days), I was inspired by Bill Simmons. A whimsical, stat based approach to sports that still appreciates the fact that they are games, and it is fun? No way!
Anyways, I always like that he approached sports with common sense an bit of incredulity. That style of sportswriting found its way into sports blogs, Bill started writing way too much about the NBA, and I drifted.
Anyways, the word on the street is, Bill wants to be the Timberwolves' new GM! If the T-Wolves hire him, I promise to watch at least one full game next season. Make it happen.
Sunday, May 10, 2009
Links of the Day 5/10/09
Saturday, May 09, 2009
It's a miracle Delmon Young is hitting .300
I've made my peace with the Twins batting Joe Crede and Michael Cuddyer ahead of Young. Frankly, they have been putting up better power numbers than DY has all season. What I'm having trouble wrapping my head around is putting him ahead of Nick Punto in the batting order. As much as I love Delmon, I will be the first to admit that Young will swing at anything. The strikeouts and inability to take a walk have dragged him down early this season. So why put him in front a of a perennially terrible hitter? Opposing pitches won't give Young a good pitch to hit ever, and he'll flail at all of those balls out of the strike zone.
Give Delmon credit though. He has been able to either slap a ball into the outfield for singles or, yes, take a walk. He's completely adapted to the situation. Even I didn't think he was capable of this. If this is a complete transformation to a slap, singles hitter (or even if he's not, and he has that power stroke) let's move him up in the order, how 'bout? Young, batting second, would get better pitches and would maybe even get some extra base hits. Matt Tolbert or Brenden Harris, much more patient hitters at the bottom of the lineup, hitting ahead of Punto, would still get on base. Let's make it happen.
Links of the Day 5/9/09
If you look at the active (as in playing as recently as last season) home run leaders list, and remove those caught or linked to using PEDs, your top 5 are Ken Griffey, Jim Thome, Frank Thomas, Carlos Delgado and Chipper Jones. (Big Lead... Providing me with a lot of stellar links lately.)
It's amazing what the Twins can do when they hit a couple three run bombs, huh?
Labels: Links of the Day
Friday, May 08, 2009
Position in the Spotlight: Wisconsin
The next largest market for the Position in the Spotlight brings us to Milwaukee. Milwaukee is an interesting sports market because the most popular team in town...isn't in town. You have to head up north to Green Bay, home of the Packers, for that. In my opinion, a cheesehead is a cheesehead, no matter what city you live in, so this Position in the Spotlight entry will cover the entire state of Wisconsin.
When making the pick for each city, I think the first thing you need to take into consideration is what is the most popular sport in town, which in turn tells you the most popular team in town. Some cities are fairly equal, but in Wisconsin, football is king. Sure, the state has seen 1 championship each in baseball and basketball (Braves in 1957 and Bucks in 1971) but the Packers were so good and so popular in the early days of the NFL, that as teams migrated from towns like Decatur and Dayton to big cities, the Pack stayed put, and are still there today. Now, you pretty need to narrow it down to 2 spots within the Packers.
Currently, there is no doubt that Packers QB is the Position in the Spotlight because of all of the drama that Brett Favre caused, but in reality, the Packers have only really had 2 great QBs, Favre and Bart Starr. Aaron Rodgers has some huge shoes to fill right now, but it will be interesting to see what the expectations are for Packers QBs in the future. Over the course of Packers history, though, there is one position that may have even bigger shoes to fill, and that is Green Bay Packers Head Coach.
Historic Lambeau Field. The Vince Lombardi Trophy. What do these things have in common? They were both legendary Packers coaches. Over the 90 year history of the team, the Packers have only had 14 head coaches. Curly Lambeau started the tradition of great Packers coaches when he started serving as player-coach in 1921. He wound up coaching the Packers for 29 years, leaving with 6 NFL championships in 1949. He is known for helping to popularize the forward pass in the NFL, having witnessed it in action at Notre Dame under Knute Rockne. The 1950s were pretty rough on the Packers, but Gene Ronzani was the first to push for the Packers to wear their famous green uniforms.
In 1959, Vince Lombardi was next to step in line to try to achieve what Lambeau accomplished, and he turned the organization around. In just 9 seasons as head coach, he won 5 championships, including the first 2 Super Bowls. Only John Madden and some guy that coached in the 20s have a better winning percentage than Lombardi, and he was 9-1 all time in the playoffs. He could possibly be the most famous coach in NFL history, and is still quoted frequently. The Super Bowl Trophy was named after him shortly after his death.
The 24 years that followed Lombardi's departure threw a wet blanket on just about any legacy left by Lambeau and Lombardi, but the Packers still had some intriguing head coaches. Dan Devine left the Packers for Notre Dame, where he won a national championship with Joe Montana. Legendary 60s QB Bart Starr coached the team from 1975-1983. He wasn't all that great as a coach, but he is definitely a celebrity in Green Bay. Starr was replaced by another famous Packer, Forrest Gregg, who also led the Bengals to the Super Bowl in 1981 before going to Green Bay.
Everything started to change again in Green Bay in 1992, when Mike Holmgren and Brett Favre came to town. Holmgren led the Packers to the playoffs 6 out of 7 years with the team, and made 2 trips to the Super Bowl, winning the first one. He turned the Packers into a force to be reckoned with as the great 49ers and Cowboys teams of the early 90s started to decline. After Holmgren left, the Packers still had a reasonable amount of success under Mike Sherman, but were not as dominant as they were under Holmgren. Mike McCarthy is the current head coach, and the heat is on him now not for trying to live up to the greatness of past coaches, but because he had a negative 7 win swing after helping to run Favre out of town last year.
Green Bay Packers Quarterback: Like I mentioned before, this was a tough call. Favre's legacy will live on for a very long time, and he left much more recently than Holmgren and especially Lombardi. Right now this definitely is the position in the spotlight, but if the Packers go another couple of decades without a great QB like between Starr and Favre, those expectations will start to fade, and Packer fans have almost always had at least an interesting head coach. Ten years from now, Coach Favre?
Milwaukee Bucks "Big Man": The Bucks have had some good "big men" over the years, especially in the early 70s when they had the legendary Oscar Robertson and maybe the even more legendary Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as teammates. In the early 80s, they had hall of famer Bob Lanier, and in the late 80s, they had Terry Cummings. In the mid-late 90s, they had Glenn Robinson, and currently they are led by Andrew Bogut and Charlie Villanueva. This is probably the first time ever the Bucks have been mentioned on this site.
Links of the Day 5/8/09
Thursday, May 07, 2009
And now the news comes out that Manny Ramirez has been suspended for 50 games for violation of MLB drug policy. He said it's not a steroid, but rather something that was prescribed by a doctor for a personal medical issue.
"Recently I saw a physician for a personal health issue. He gave me a medication, not a steroid, which he thought was OK to give me," Ramirez said. "Unfortunately, the medication was banned under our drug policy. Under the policy that mistake is now my responsibility."
This is short and sweet, but really? I know this has happened before: not necessarily with a prescription, but with supplements from health stores and such. Someone needs to remind these guys that everything they take should be taken to MLB to assure that it's okay. Just because it's given by a doctor, or sold over the counter, check with MLB. Just because someone unrelated to MLB says it should be okay, check it out. It never hurts to take precautions. (I'm fairly certian that MLB makes exceptions for medical drugs--they'd almost have to!--as long as they're disclosed.)
Links of the Day 5/7/09
Ever wonder how blogs got their names? Me neither. Interesting list though. (The Victoria Times got its name by me being from Victoria!)
Of all the people from the Food Network to impersonate... Guy Fieri, really?
Labels: Links of the Day
Brett Favre.... evil genius?
Is Brett Farve an evil genius? My rudimentary knowledge of these things says yes. Let's review:
Once golden boy who doesn't get his way. Even though he is in the wrong, he feels that everyone else is to blame. He seeks revenge. After an initial set back, he finally hatches a hairbrained scheme that might be crazy enough to work. Then, after meticulous planning, the now insane madman is able to exact his revenge on the people he so despises.
Now, the story of Brett Favre, simplified, with a little conjecture thrown in at the end. He changes his mind after retiring and really wants to come back to play some more football, but the Packers have mved on. He feels the Packers are to blame, and he wants to no defeat them just to show that he can. He tries to get to a team that will play them, but is instead traded to the Jets. Now (conjecture!), with the Packers implementing all sorts of rules on the Jets in order to execute the trade, Favre begins hatching his plan. He needs to both be decent for the Jets, but somehow get his release at the end of the year. How does he do this? Retire. Sure, there is the torn bicep, but he can recover, no doubt. When he does, he will still be worthy of a contract and able to sign with whomever he wants. Did anyone stop to think that maybe Favre isn't wishy washy and attention whoring, that maybe, just maybe, the gunslinger is diabolical?
Wednesday, May 06, 2009
Links of the Day 5/6/09
I find the Twins commercials off putting
I don't know if you have heard the Twins radio commercials, but they all have on common theme. The Metrodome is awful, what a horrible place to play baseball, thank goodness we are moving outside next season. Oh, come watch us in this dump anyways. You know what, Twins? You got your stadium. You don't need to complain anymore. Instead of making us think that the past 30 or so years were a mistake, how about reflecting on the history of the Metrodome a little bit, especially since it's the only home many Twins fans (myself included) have ever known.
The Twins won two World Series while in the Dome, thanks in no small part to opponents being unfamiliar with the roof and the turf, as well as the raucus, acoustically enhanced crowds. It was a unique facility that everyone recognized as home for the Twins for the duration of their tenure in the Dome.
Now, I understand if there is a little animosity towards the Dome operators. There has been a little bit of bitter history there over the past few years, in terms of leases and concessions not going to the team, but if that is the reason for the smear campaign towards your own home stadium, I have to say that comes across as childish and generally bad for business. Knock it off.
Tuesday, May 05, 2009
Links of the Day 5/5/09
Position in the Spotlight: New Orleans
Up the road, however, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana State University is fraught with athletic history. As I mentioned, the football team plays in the Superdome occasionally, but on top of that LSU, just an hour and a half from the heart of New Orleans, is the states beloved, premier university. Of course, while the LSU football team is one of the elite programs in the country they have not always been so, and there is no position on the team that has always maintained the glamour enjoyed by positions in other towns. The basketball team, however, has seemingly always been among the best, starting with Pete Maravich in the 60s. Of course, anyone who follows college basketball knows that LSU has been renowned for producing big men, centers and power forwards (there are some years that the team doesn't have any true centers, or any that see the floor). That being said, the choice for New Orleans' Position in the Spotlight is LSU Men's Basketball 'Big Man'.
The most famous of all LSU big men was Shaquille O'Neal, who was a two time All American and an SEC Player of the Year during his time Baton Rouge in the early 90s. He also get s a spot on this list for starting an era of prominent big men at LSU. We would be remiss, however, if we failed to include Bob Pettit, the first Hall of Famer from the LSU basketball team. Pettit was a power forward who played for the Tigers from 1950-1954.
The past 20 years or so have been the halcyon days for LSU Bigs. After Shaq, Stromile Swift (also the 2nd overall draft choice in 2000), Brandon Bass and Glen "Big Baby" Davis won SEC Player of the Year honors from either the power forward or center position. Yes, most people would have gone with Shaq for an image, but I wanted the Stro Show off on the right.
Not only that, former and current NBA players Geert Hammink, Jabari Smith (now playing in Iran!) and Tyrus Thomas have all donned the purple and gold in an effort to keep opponents from going inside against the Tigers. While, admittedly, the quality of players that filled this role may not match future installments, there is no doubt that LSU has consistently fielded a team with a dominant presence in the middle.
Honorable Mention: New Orleans Saints quarterback. Two names dominate this list; Archie Manning, who on top of being the face of the franchise for many years, also raised two elite quarterbacking sons, and Drew Brees, the present record breaking quarterback on the team. Of course, when the all team touchdown passing leader is Aaron Brooks, this can hardly be considered much of a spotlight position.
(Next up... Steve with Milwaukee/Green Bay)
Monday, May 04, 2009
Links of the Day 5/4/09
A resident of Buffalo weighs in.
Before I turn to our next city, I wanted to post this in the main page so it doesn't get lost in the comments. Tim Redinger of Sabre Noise, a Buffalo Sabre's blog checked out Steve's Position in the Spotlight post and weighed in in the comments. He had a different opinion than Steve.
While you say Hasek is the reason for the Sabres honorable mention, there were many other Sabres greats when it came to netminders, I think a detailed history of Sabres goaltenders could unseat Running Back from the Buffalo position of spotlight.
While OJ Simpson made running back great for a few select years, the Sabres have had historically, always had better than decent goaltending. Darren Puppa, Grant Fuhr, Marty Biron, Don Edwards, Clint Malarchuck, Dwayne Rolosson, etc.
As Steve said, since he is actually from Buffalo, he knows better than we do. As always, we appreciate the input. Below is the aforementioned Darren Puppa, who led the NHL in wins in 1989-90
Sunday, May 03, 2009
Links of the Day 5/3/09
Saturday, May 02, 2009
What does having Mauer back mean?
Over the course of the season, obviously, having Joe Mauer back will be better than not having him back. Through April, however, it was as though the Twins still had Mauer batting for the catcher every day. Jose Morales spent April hitting in the mid .300s, lining 3 doubles and hitting pitchers of either handedness effectively. The only statistic he was lacking in was RBI, and that had more to do with the futility of players batting in front of him than Morales' own problems.
No doubt Mauer's ability to call games will help the pitching staff. After a few rough outings from a young staff, it is apparent that the Twins needed a guiding hand behind the plate. It doesn't hurt that his arm is much better than Morales' as well.
The thing that many people were waiting for from Mauer, however, was his offense. As I already mentioned, Jose Morales did a good job at the plate, hitting .349. His offense was squandered, as he was often hitting ahead of Nick Punto, Denard Span and Alexi Casilla. Span is no slouch, but thats practically 2 two guaranteed outs behind him in the next three batters. Mauer, because Gardenhire trusts him more, will be batting third with more support behind him. Essentially, Mauer's presence will cluster the best hitters better than when Morales was in the lineup for no other reason than Ron Gardenhire is more comfortable with Joe Mauer.
Of course, this ends up creating strange situations like the one seen in todays game. Delmon Young, who has the highest average among regular right handed hitters, is batting 8th. When Morales was in the lineup, Young was often placed in the 7 hole. Nevertheless, having more good hitters batting in a row is a better idea than having them scattered. Now all there is left to do is to move Casilla out of the 2 spot, and move everyone else up one, or to give Brendan Harris a little more paying time.
Basically, what it comes down to is that the Twins are a better team with Mauer in the lineup not because he IS so much better than the alternatives, but because the Twins expect him to be.