Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Pondering the World of Sports

Can somebody get Jay Cutler a binky? I’m sure that it’s a little unnerving to discover that your new coach would rather have somebody else as his starting QB, but when you really get down to it that’s pretty much how every QB not named Peyton Manning feels. Seriously, Jay, put on the big boy pants and play ball. Every player in the NFL is available if the right offer is made and sometimes teams feign interest in a deal just to make sure that a rival isn’t pulling off a steal.

Speaking of babies, Curt Schilling, announced his retirement and the discussion is raging: is he a hall of famer? A lot of baseball people think he his; even though he falls short of several statistical milestones people revere. What sets Curt apart is his post season success but the Hall of Fame isn’t a post season award, it’s an honor bestowed upon the best players in the game. Should Curt get a pass for all those mediocre seasons? There’s speculation that Curt’s surly disposition could cost him a vote or two and a few baseball writers think that’s wrong. The Hall of Fame is about what you do on the field, they claim. Of course when somebody happens to be a great guy on and off the field they give him credit for being an “ambassador of the game”. So if being a swell guy can help somebody get in, why can’t being a jerk hold somebody back? It seems to me that there should be consequences for being a jackass.

Speaking of jackass, why would the Celtics want to add Stephon Marbury to their team? There’s no question that the dude has talent, but can the Celtics really afford a tantrum in the middle of a tough series against Orlando or Cleveland? You’d think Marbury would have the sense to keep his mouth shut and go along for the ride but one thing Marbury has proven throughout his career is that he doesn’t have any sense. If the Celtics win, Marbury will probably be a model prisoner but the danger is how he might act if the team gets stuck in an 0-3 hole. There’s no question that Boston’s got the talent to win four games in a row, but Marbury could easily derail the effort if he decides to pout. As a lifelong Cavaliers fan, I’m hoping for a classic Starbury implosion.

Implosion pretty much describes the Cleveland Browns. Eric Mangini is remaking the entire team in his own image which is to say that he’s alienating existing players and poaching a roster full of mediocrity from the New York Jets. Rumor has it that Mangini is strutting around Browns HQ with oodles of ego, but that the act isn’t impressing anybody. Mangini squandered his credibility with the New York Jets. He was the hot young protégé of Bill Belichick a few years ago when he was hired by the Jets but aside from stirring up trouble when he blew the whistle on Spygate, his career stalled. The Jets finally cut him loose after he presided over the Jets meltdown last year. Four years from now the Browns will be starting from scratch again with a new coach and a paucity of talent. Perhaps the NFL should put an end to Ohio’s misery by combining the Brown and the Bengals into one semi-respectable team and relegate it to the CFL where they might actually make the playoffs.

Playoffs? Don’t talk about playoffs. Not if you’re the Cleveland Indians. Cliff Lee will follow his Cy Young performance with a humbling season of frustration. It was a fluke. Lee is a mediocre pitcher who had everything go his way last year. The Indians will probably be a more productive team this time around but Lee will be lucky to crack the .500 mark. Fausto Carmona will be healthy this year but expect him to look mortal as well. It’s just the reality of the game. A lot of guys have great seasons but great pitchers are few and far between. Mark Shapiro is nuts if he thinks that he’s managed to slip a couple of aces in his deck when nobody was looking.

The Yankees are probably going to be surprised the return they get on their off season investment plan. CC Sabathia is a streaky pitcher who isn’t known for sticking to a conditioning plan. He’s due for a down year and considering the signing bonus he just cashed, I’d bet that he’s going to get off to a slow start. Yankee fan won’t like that and CC isn’t going to like the fishbowl that is New York City. I’m sure there are tabloid editors itching to dazzle readers with clever “CC” nicknames. Calorie Consumer, Check Casher, Chilli Cheese…

I didn’t mention the NCAA Tournament because my brackets--yes there were several (hundred)--are busted. I wanted to pick Cleveland State over Wake but I didn’t. I really thought Ohio State’s size was going to give Siena trouble. Now we’re already staring at the Sweet 16 and there aren’t any surprises. It’s all chalk. Some people like it that way, others don’t. I’ll reserve my opinion until after I see next weekend’s games. The bottom line is that the best teams are supposed to advance. When you have a lot of upsets it only proves that nobody knows what they’re talking about. Most of the time that’s true, but after watching thousands of games played over the course of six months you’d think that identifying the top 15 teams in the country wouldn’t be hard to do. So all the ones, twos and threes are still alive. There won’t be a Cinderella story this year, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some good games left to watch. Especially if you want Gonzaga to win it all.


Anonymous said...

I picked Cleveland State over Wake, but Syracuse let me down. I'm pulling for Michigan State and Villanova.

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