Saturday, December 24, 2005

Damon and Millwood - 2 wrongs don't make....

We at Red Sox Nation weep. What would Johnny Damon do? Go for the money, of course! Damon, shorn of his Jesus-like locks, is now the $52 million Yankees' center fielder. Ugh. The only thing worse would be the Sox signing Kevin Millwood, who failed in Philadelphia, especially down the stretch.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Fly Eagles Fly (or were those just penalty flags?)

The Eagles beat the Rams Sunday, but it wasn't pretty. Over 200 yards in penalties. More false starts than TD passes. I see the Eagles with a different backup QB next year, because Mike McMahon can't get it done. And the fact that McMahon is starting instead of Koy Detmer speaks volumes about Andy Reid's (lack of) confidence in Detmer. And why does Reno Mahe continue to get second-half carries when Ryan Moats isn't winded?

And did you catch the latest Campbell's chunky soup ad where McNabb's mom has him running right, running left, running right, then throwing? Looks like he did more running in that ad than he did all year long. I'll agree with J. Whyatt Mondesire on one thing - defenses get flustered when McNabb runs.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Piling on No. 5

J. Whyatt Mondesire, President of the Philadelphia NAACP and publisher of the Philadelphia Sun, recently blasted Philadelphia QB Donovan McNabb in an editorial. Among other nuggets, Mondesire called McNabb a "mediocre talent" who cheats his fans by not running the ball as often as he could, and consciously made the decision not to run because, in McNabb's mind, this would somehow make him less of a field general.

Reaction ran the gamut. Michael Wilbon of ESPN's Pardon the Interruption and The Washington Post, called the article "hateful" and blasted Mondesire. John Smallwood of the Philadelphia Daily News had this to say:

If McNabb were Caucasian, I am positive white people would not have been motivated to call into talk radio shows and debate whether the quarterback was a true white man.

But debating Donovan McNabb as a true black man is exactly what a good number of African-Americans in Philadelphia are doing since the Owens-McNabb flap became the focal point of the Eagles' demise.

It's fascinating that this has spiraled way beyond the confines of a football debate. And don't tell me it hasn't, when terms such as sellout, token, company man, Uncle Tom and other racially charged ones have been thrown into the debate.

What this black-on-black verbal violence has caused me to wonder is: Who gets to determine who is truly African-American and what is or isn't a part of African-American culture?

Stephen A. Smith of ESPN's Quite Frankly and The Philadelphia Inquirer interviewed Mondesire for today's Inquirer:
Q: How do you feel about the ramifications, how this has affected the life of Donovan McNabb? Black and white folks are now opining on McNabb's blackness because of a column written by you.

A: I'm not sorry it happened, because I felt strongly about it. I think you've seen in the latter part of my piece that we were disappointed in the way he failed to step up in a leadership role. I raised the issue at the end of the piece about why he wouldn't share some of his dollars with either T.O. or Westbrook.

Had McNabb chosen to do that, they would have circled the wagons around him, run through hot coals barefoot for him. It would have cemented the team, kept the T.O. debacle from growing into the massive scandal that it became, and kept the team concentrated on winning football games.

Q: So you're saying Donovan McNabb should have taken a portion of his salary and given it to T.O.?

A: Or offered to do so. The same way Tom Brady did with New England.

Kind of. The difference was, McNabb was already under contract and Brady was negotiating a new contract. And I don't see Brady's teammates backstabbing their QB, either. If a teammate's throwing grenades at you, you don't throw money at him.

And this is how Smith opined about McNabb's season:
Balls were repeatedly underthrown or overthrown. At times, there was no rhyme or reason to his lack of production. His accuracy and timing were sporadic at best.
2005? Yes. But Smith could have just as easily been talking about any other season in McNabb's career, save for last season. McNabb is not mediocre. But he's not the greatest QB since Elway and Montana, either.

Monday, December 12, 2005

since I last posted...

The Eagles squeaked by Green Bay, were slaughtered by Seattle, and lost to the Giants on an overtime field goal.

While the offense remains largely inept in the absence of a healthy Donovan McNabb, you can spread the blame around. Despite Jeremiah Trotter's assertion that some offensive players "quit" against Seattle, looks like his team's 'D' could use some help.

For instance:
Sacks: The lack of sacks and hurries, as noted previously by Rich Hoffman of the Daily News. Trotter himself has one sack this year. One. That's a Mike Mamula-like number.
Red-Zone Efficiency: Opponents scored touchdowns 63.2% of the time against the Eagles once they got to the red zone (prior to the Giants game) - worst in the NFC.
Points per game. We'll give up the yards, the Eagles always said. But judge us based on points. OK. The Eagles are giving up 24.2 points per game. Even if you discount the generous gifts offered up by McNabb against Dallas and McMahon against Seattle, that's still over 22 points per game.

And as for the QBs....
McMahon is not the answer. His horrid passing accuracy is just one reason.
Detmer is not the answer. Koy is still the # 2 QB (apparently in name only, since McMahon got the call first this year), but why? Because David Akers is comfortable with Koy holding? Not acceptable any longer. And for those fans who argue "what about Koy coming to the rescue?" that was three years ago and for part of one game before he got injured.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

TO: Bloched

Now that arbitrator Richard Bloch has ruled against Terrell Owens and the NFLPA's grievance, what now?

For starters, Bloch will be fired as an arbitrator by the union, according to ESPN's Chris Mortenson. Terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement permit either side to request termination.

Anyone remember Peter Seitz? Same circumstance (following an arbitration) that case Seitz was fired by Major League Baseball immediately following his award of free agency to Andy Messersmith and Dave McNally.

And what got the NFLPA so riled up about Bloch's ruling? Perhaps the fact that it was a complete legal victory for the Eagles. Bloch addressed three key points made by the union: that the severity of the punishment was unwarranted due to the player's actions; that Owens was not properly warned of the consequences of his actions, and that the team had a contractual duty to release Owens should his services no longer be desired.
The point of progressive discipline is to properly advise an employee of unacceptable behavior, to warn that their tenure is becoming increasingly challenged and to attempt to provide for the possibility of better behavior in the future. The repeated, unambiguous warnings accomplished all of this....
But the critical issue that continues to elude the Player is that, without regard to who was right on the true meaning of the statements, the team and McNabb were upset by them. Owens knew this. And, he knew that any suspension could be immediately avoided by addressing his teammates, and McNabb, in an effort to make things right. Yet, with full knowledge that discipline was hanging in the balance, he refused to take these steps.......The Association argues that, to the extent the Coach wished to keep the Player from the fields or the locker room, he should have released him. It is a mark of the highly unusual nature of this case that this should be regarded not only as not disciplinary, but as the desired goal of the Player and his representatives. More to the point, while releasing the Player is an available option, it is not a mandatory one.
Reaction was mixed. Stephen A. Smith of the Philadelphia Inquirer, who should no longer be confused with a TO defender, retorted that
They just didn't rob Owens of the right to work. They slapped him, then threw him change for good measure.
Phil Sheridan, also of the Inqy, writes that
The more the Eagles hurt Owens at this point, the more they ultimately hurt themselves. Other players are watching now, around the locker room and around the league. They are watching, and they are forming lasting impressions about what kind of organization the Eagles are running....If this is winning the battle with Owens, what would losing look like?
Bottom line is, there really are no winners here. The Eagles made their point that no player is above the team. But at what cost? Their season is over, with TO out due to suspension and quarterback Donovan McNabb out with season-ending surgery. And as Jason Whitlock of ESPN and the Kansas City Star notes, it's not like a lot of McNabb's teammates came to his defense in the TO mess. I agree with most of what Whitlock says. The Eagles' players are looking at McNabb's $115 million contract, looking at the team drag its feet when re-signing Brian Westbrook and David Akers, and looking at veterans heading into free agency with little hope of re-signing with Philadelphia. Above all else, Eagles President Joe Banner wants cap space. But exactly what did extra cap space help with this season? What veteran wide receiver did the Eagles sign to replace injured WR Todd Pinkston? What help did the Eagles get for the defensive line after letting free agent DE Corey Simon go after slapping him with a franchise tag?

And speaking of defense, this season hasn't been entirely McNabb's fault. The fact that McNabb was hampered by his hernia injury, coupled with some horrible throwing decisions and poor late-game clock management, resulted in bad losses to Washington and Dallas. But the defense is nothing like the unit that has dominated the NFC the last five years. They're giving up big plays (Lito Sheppard and Shelden Brown, for starters), yards and points. And as Rich Hoffman of the Philadelphia Daily News wrote on the eve of the second Dallas game, the Eagles' pass rush has a lot to do with this year's problems, too:
One more stat thing, outlining the impotence of the Eagles' pass rush. Last year, in the 14 games when the starters played, the Eagles got pressure (a sack or hurry) on the quarterback 37.3 percent of the time. In 2003, when they had multiple defensive line injuries and such an alarmingly weak pass rush that Andy Reid reacted by spending a billion dollars to sign Jevon Kearse, they got pressure 30.5 percent of the time.

This year, it is down to 25.7 percent of the time, which is a lot weaker than alarmingly weak. It is the killer stat of the season so far, a number so bad that it exposes not only the pass rushers but also the people left to clean up the mess behind them. That it has nothing to do with McNabb is self-evident.
Of course, that night McNabb proceeded to throw the interception from hell to Roy Williams and put the spotlight back on himself. The next six games won't be fun, folks.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Next Question

Now that agent Drew Rosenhaus torpedoed Terrell Owens's chances of getting reinstated by the Eagles, Ralph Nader and Rev. Jesse Jackson have joined the fray. Nader argued in a letter to Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie and NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue that Owens should be reinstated as a consumer protection measure, since there are fans who bought tickets to see Owens play. Jackson noted that
"This does not warrant a one-year ban from the game" and is "much too severe for the charge"
Given that Owens played seven games for the Eagles and may not play for nine, that doesn't add up to a one year ban. Oh, and as for Rosenhaus's argument that the media caused all this trouble, just remember that Owens generally refused to talk to members of the media other than ESPN, and when he appeared on ESPN, his comments didn't exactly shy away from controversy. The Eagles should have cut Owens in the summer, but that's another story.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

No go on T.O.

T.O.'s greatest dream comes true: The Eagles lose after suspending Owens for the Washington game.

T.O.'s nightmare comes true: the Eagles punt T. O. for the rest of the season, which means possibly no money for four games.

And did you catch T.O.'s wink at Monday's press conference after a reporter asked agent Drew Rosenhaus what else he had done for Owens other than getting him kicked off the team? Rosenhaus quickly said "next question" while T.O. (behind Drew) smiled and then winked at the questioner. As Sam Donnellen of the Philadelphia Daily News observed, it's what would have happened if Quentin Tarantino had written the screenplay to "Jerry Maguire."

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Hurricane T.O. Blows Over

"It has been brought to my attention that I have offended the organization and my teammates."

Terrell Owens was suspended by the Eagles Saturday for "conduct detrimental to the team." Of course, his worst nightmare came true Sunday: Brian Westbrook got the long-term deal he wanted (at least 5 years) and Reggie Brown (T. O.'s replacement) scored the Eagles' first touchdown against Washington.

And as for Owens wanting Brett Favre over Donovan McNabb? Going into Sunday's games, McNabb had a higher passing rating, more yards and the same number of TD passes (15). Favre had a higher completion percentage but six more interceptions than McNabb. Maybe he can talk with T.O. about how some of his picks killed the Packers' momentum in their 6 losses.

Sorry, that's 7 losses after today's wipeout against the Steelers. And even McNabb can't fumble as well as Favre can - just ask Pittsburgh's defense.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Hammerin' Hank strikes out

Hank Aaron is upset that the Astros were the first World Series team since the 1953 Yankees without an African-American player, according to a story in the Washington Post:
"It is very disturbing to see something like this," Aaron said. "And you would think that this ballclub could find at least one or two African Americans, especially in this city. It's very disturbing. I think they need to look at that very carefully. They need to talk to people in the scouting department and everybody else because this needs to be addressed."
Perhaps Aaron is galled by the fact that he and other blacks in the 50s, 60s and 70s who worked so hard to break down barriers and make baseball accommodate blacks, now face a league where barely nine percent of players are African-American. Now, that's not counting Latino blacks. I mean just Black Americans. And Houston, in town that's 25 percent black according to the 2000 census, couldn't manage to have any. Neither did Baltimore.

This is not new. For years, the Red Sox had one or two blacks at the most, and given the fact that they were the last MLB team to integrate (Pumpsie Green, in 1959 I think), Boston has a long history characterized by obstructionism at best, racism at worst. Same with Philadelphia, a city that booed Dick Allen unmercifully and where manager Ben Chapman famously refused to shake hands with Jackie Robinson. A few years back Doug Glanville was the "token" African-American. Now that the Phils have Jimmy Rollins at short, Kenny Lofton in center and Ryan Howard (at least part-time) at first, the team doesn't have to face the same racial criticism it once did.

The larger question is whether baseball has fewer American blacks because of design (i.e., by conspiracy to not hire more blacks), because of benign neglect, or because baseball just isn't as popular as it once was in this country among youth, not just black youth, but all youth. These days basketball and football rule, especially in urban areas. There is a growing effort in major cities across the country to make baseball popular again, but this takes time, effort, equipment and space. And desire, which Hammerin' Hank can wish for, but may not happen again.

Congrats ChiSox

Dap to those OTHER Sox, who broke through after 88 years. Maybe Chicago will never be anything other than a Cubs town, but at least the other team has rings.

Monday, October 03, 2005

One year after

So one year after Boston finished as the AL Wild Card winner....Boston is the AL Wild Card winner. I would have preferred a one-game playoff to decide the East, but them's the breaks. That's what you get for losing to Tampa Bay and Toronto down the stretch.

I still miss Pedro, DLowe to a lesser extent. Just for kicks, here are stats for those two compared to the three pitchers brought in to replace them :

Martinez 15-8, 2.82 ERA
Lowe 12-15, 3.61 ERA
total: 27-23
50 decisions

Clement 13-6, 4.57 ERA
Wells 15-7, 4.45 ERA
Miller 4-4, 4.95 ERA
total: 32-17
49 decisions

Did Theo make the right call? The Sox are back in the postseason. They finished 95-67, same as the Yankees. The record was three games worse than 2004 and the same as 2003.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Talkin' Baseball

The Sawx are 2nd, but in the playoffs. Again. The Phils are out. Again. And by the way, Ed Wade's contract as GM was (shhhh!) quietly rolled over for two more years a few weeks ago. Didn't hear about that? Didn't think so.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Brian Westbrook - essential or interchangeable part?

After seeing Philadelphia eek out their win over Oakland, I can give credit to quite a few Eagles. But Brian Westbrook's multi-dimensional game stands out. While naysayers say he's not worth a new contract, let's look at the reasons why not, and why:

Why not:
He gets hurt a lot.
No, he gets hurt sometimes. Other times, the coaching staff has held him out of games. I really don't know if he can play a whole season.

He's not as talented as LDT or the great power backs in the league.
Oh? Based on what measurement?

He doesn't have as many yards or rushing TDs.
That's because the Eagles' offense is designed around the run, like San Diego's offense is, for example. On Sunday, Drew Brees threw 22 passes. Donovan McNabb threw 52. You can't compare LDT and Westbrook if they get vastly unequal carries per game.

In Sports Illustrated's pro football issue, an opposing scout said TO is far more important to Philly than Westbrook. If Westbrook goes down, Ryan Moats can step in and do well. If TO is out, who's going to pick up the slack?
Hm. TO is vital to the offense, no doubt. McNabb's 2004 stats are testament to that fact. But keep this in mind: NFC Championship vs. Panthers: average receivers, no Westbrook, loss. NFC Championship vs. Falcons: average receivers, Westbrook, win.

But they needed TO to get homefield advantage.
And how is that any different from the year before, or the year before that? Bzzzz. Time's up.

And now for the reasons why Westbrook should get some more dough:

He's a multi-dimensional player who flourishes in the West Coast offense.

Many teams in the NFL use the West Coast offense.

If they let him go, they will regret it.

He makes #5 better.

He makes the receivers better.

Have a nice day.

Sunday, September 25, 2005


David Akers gutted out Sunday's game against Oakland, hitting the game-winning field goal. Akers will likely miss the Kansas City game with a pulled right hamstring.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

MNF flashbacks, Bronco-style

The Rocky Mountain News takes a trip down memory lane and looks at Monday Night Football, as it starts its last season on ABC. Are you ready for some football?

Friday, September 16, 2005

Data Mining Goes Too Far

I read this article on New Orleans by Rick Telander of the Chicago Sun-Times, followed on the page by these Ads by Google:
Saints (a ticket site for games at the Alamodome)

Permanent Odor Control

Water Filtration

Mold and Mildew Cleaner

Eliminate Vaginal Odor

That pretty much covers everything, doesn't it?

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Roaming Saints

Word has it that the Saints will play four games in San Antonio's Alamodome and three in LSU's stadium, following their "home" opener at Giant Stadium in two weeks. Some drawbacks to the LSU plan: the campus is still being used as a staging area for medical teams and their patients, while Baton Rouge hotels are getting full with refugees. Somehow I don't think they're going to kick out 250-300 people just so visiting teams can get rooms. Unlike Florida, for example, where state law requires hotels to honor confirmed reservations.

Monday, September 05, 2005

New Orleans

Our prayers are with you, New Orleans

Deion hits a home run

Deion Sanders of the Baltimore Ravens has challenged every pro athlete to contribute $1,000 to Katrina relief efforts. Sanders can be a jackass sometimes. But this is putting his money where his mouth is.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

WPEN returns to sports

WPEN, the low-watt station that carried Phillies games from 2002-2004, is getting back into the sports business. Philadelphia Business Journal reports that the station will be Philadelphia's second all-sports station, in addition to Sports Radio 610 WIP. That would be news to ESPN 920 from Princeton, which bills itself as "Philadelphia's real sports station." ESPN 920 covers a six-county region, three in PA and three in NJ. Naturally, it has a weak or non-existent signal in Delaware and Chester counties, which is where I do most of my driving.

WPEN's talent will include nationally syndicated yapper Jim Rome from 12-3 (whom ESPN 920 already includes in its lineup from 12-2) and former WIPer Jody MacDonald, who will compete with 610's Howard Eskin from 3-7. That has mismatch written all over it. MacDonald, who used to co-host 610 middays with Glen Macnow before leaving for WFAN in New York, also works for the Eagles pregame show on 94.1 WYSP-FM.

I'm not sure if the region really needs three sports radio stations. We'll see how much cash they hemorrhage before they call it quits.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Yaz hits 66

Happy Birthday, Yaz! Carl turns 66 today. My first sports hero.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Von Wafer

I forgot, the Lakers signed Von Wafer out of Florida State. Von Wafer. 12.5 PPG. Start the parade now, folks. Kobe has found his protege.

Enough with T.O.

Too much T.O. - enough is enough. I'd rather have Michael Irvin in an Eagles uniform than this angry, stubborn, pouting child. Can't the Sixers use this guy instead of Shavlik Randolph?

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Ouch x 2

Eagles lineman Jerome McDougle was shot Thursday in Miami, apparently in a botched robbery attempt. When I told this to the wife, she said "it sure wasn't for a Super Bowl ring." Ouch. And she doesn't even follow the Iggles.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

"They're risking their lives"

Would Drew Rosenhaus be referring to:

A. His clients, who play a sport?
B. People who really DO risk their lives?

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

T. O. in Hot 'Lanta? Hahahahahaha

"We don't need those kind of distractions on our club. And I don't know of any club that really wants to deal with them."
-- Falcons owner Arthur Blank, on Sporting News Radio, after Terrell Owens said Atlanta would be on the list of teams he'd want to play for if the Eagles traded him.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Larry's crew

Ian Thomsen of reports that while Larry Brown is mulling over various coaching offers (including staying in Detroit, where three years remain on his contract), he is also seeking employment for for three members of his staff in case he leaves: Phil Ford, Dave Hanners and Pat Sullivan. Hmmm, what do these three have in common? Hint below:

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Shark bait

I'm also sick of Drew Rosenhaus bitching about the injustice of NFL contracts: "what if a player outperforms his contract? Why is it so outlandish that a player ask for a better one?" blah, blah, blah. Guess what? That's Drew's job - to get a better situation for his clients. But the reality is Drew should be talking with one person and one person only - Gene Upshaw. The reason NFL players don't have guaranteed contracts is that's because the union agreed to that provision of their collective bargaining agreement last time around. So don't blame NFL teams - they're always out to make as much money as they can under the present system, because the system allows them to do it at the expense of players. The players get theirs in the form of signing bonuses, which Drew conveniently leaves out of his little salary calculations (taking only 1 year's salary out of a 7 year deal also tricks the math, too). But when 2007 rolls around - watch out.

Larry's song

I'm getting sick of the whole Larry Brown saga. The facts: Larry Brown is under contract with the Detroit Pistons. Larry Brown is obligated to come back next year. Why is Larry Brown saying "I'll come back if they'll let me come back?"

Because that's his side ofthe PR war. Cleveland is out of the picture now. The Knicks would be a questionable fit. And even if his Pistons players are clearly annoyed with this circus, they somehow respond to Brown.

Stick around, Larry.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Can I have that ring back, please?

Patriots owner Robert Kraft says he really meant to give Russian President Vladimir Putin his Super Bowl ring "as a gift." Right. What he meant was, "No, I didn't really mean it as a gift, but how the hell am I going to get it back - with or without causing an international incident?"

And the Sixers pick...

Louis Williams? He might the top-ranked high school player in the country, but he does nothing to address the Sixers' needs...namely, outside shooting and good front line help. And for those of you who say never draft for need, always draft "best available," you cannot argue that Williams was the best available player left at No. 45. He might be 6'2" and 180, soaking wet, but does this team really need a new Iverson? He's just not bulky enough or skilled enough at the pro level to be a 1 or a 2, at least not for a couple of years. I see "NBDL" in his future. What a waste.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Augie's crew wins again

Congratulations UT Longhorns for winning the College World Series!

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Bye now

Myron Cope said goodbye, retiring after 35 years as the Pittsburgh Steelers' color analyst. Cope was known for coining such phrases as the Steel Curtain and coming up with The Terrible Towel. If you ever lived in Pittsburgh, then you were lucky to have heard Cope. He wasn't everyone's cup of tea, but had a significant following. He will be missed.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Blackhawk down

The Chicago Blackhawks fired coach Brian Sutter on Tuesday. Sutter was fired by new GM Dale Tallon, who was hired Tuesday and quickly moved to clean house. "Brian didn't win any games for us this year and that's just unacceptable" Tallon said.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Randolph stays in the draft (!)

Duke's Shavlik Randolph surprised many by deciding to stay in the upcoming NBA Draft. Coach K could not be reached for comment, but I can imagine it would be one word: "Yeeeeeeessssssss!"

The Blue Devils simply played better when Randolph wasn't in the lineup. Harsh but true. I guess Randolph thought with Shelden Williams staying another year, this is his big break. Right. Maybe to join some ex-Dookies playing ball in Jordan. Or Lebanon.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Down on the farm, not so good...

It it just me, or did anyone else notice that all the Phillies' minor league teams were in last place in their respective leagues through Thursday? Ugh. So much for building prospects. Is that Mike Arbuckle's fault? Or Ed Wade's?

Friday, June 03, 2005


Apparently the Cavs are serious about Brown for President. Normally teams would hire a President first, then a GM, then a head coach, as opposed to Cleveland which is doing this in exact reverse order...Are NBA refs EVER going to call traveling in the paint? Manu Ginobili of the Spurs and Richard Hamilton of the Pistons seem to have perfected the art of carrying the ball, taking five steps and careening out of control towards the basket, while hoping for a whistle - one which is almost NEVER against them. And Hamilton is developing a great knack for flopping - just ask Shaq, who has barely touched Rip this series. Hamilton reacts likes he's been shot whenever Shaq is in his vicinity...I'm telling you, the Heat-Pistons series would be over if the Heat would just let Christian Laettner loose. You can't stop him, you can only try to contain him.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Larry Brown for President?

Numerous sources (for example, here) have suggested Detroit head coach Larry Brown will become Cleveland's new president of basketball operations at the end of this season. Brown denied contact with Cleveland management, and still has three years remaining on a five-year, $25 million contract. Other sources have Brown peeking at the Knicks and Lakers.

But why would a team want Brown to be their President? The man is a teacher, not an administrator, plain and simple. Exactly what in his background would make people believe the man has talent choosing pro personnel? In Philadelphia, the Sixers (with Brown and Billy King calling the shots, but mostly Brown) made a team in Brown's defense-first image, then collapsed when Brown departed for the Pistons. Since the team was tailor-made for Brown, first Randy Ayers and later Chris Ford took the fall when the team struggled. And remember it was Brown's bright idea to bring Derrick "Team Cancer" Coleman to Philly, not just once, but twice. Coleman played hard only in his contract year. But apparently he was Larry's kind of player.

I'd mention our last Olympic team too, which couldn't hit a three (or the broad side of a barn), but allegedly Brown didn't have a large role in player selection, so I won't hold that against him.

Bottom line, he'll be coaching next year in Detroit or retire. I just don't see him taking the Cleveland job and there is no good reason they should be offering it to him. The Knicks are a mess, and if Larry thought he had problems with Allen Iverson, wait until he runs into Kobe Bryant. Big, big mistake if he comes back any place other than Detroit.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Another one?

"We do not want to change coaches [again]," Ed Snider said. "We've seen enough coaches."

Quick - was Snider talking about
A. his Flyers? Or
B. his Sixers?

B. On Monday, the Sixers fired Head Coach Jim O'Brien and replaced him with Maurice Cheeks. The Sixers will be paying three former or current head coaches next year, four if Chris Ford sticks around (though he's classified as some sort of super scout and is not technically drawing a coach's salary). Reminds me of when Joe Conklin was doing a Pat Croce imitation on WIP, writing out monthly checks to coaches and players no longer here, but still on the Sixers' payroll. It went on and on and on...

So, did Allen Iverson get O'Brien fired? I say no. Iverson had the highest scoring average of his career (something a point guard shouldn't do, but this is not your typical point guard situation), plus finished 5th in assists (something a good point guard should do). The lack of a stable rotation, the lack of developing the core of the team (if Willie Green is "untradable" shouldn't he have played more?), the incoherent defenses, the lack of getting Chris Webber involved in the offense, O'Brien's communication breakdown with multiple players - all of these contributed to O'Brien's exit.

One question posed on Comcast SportsNet last night was: if Mo Cheeks were not available, would this move still have been made? Hmmm. Remember two years ago that Detroit fired a very capable Rick Carlisle, who was still under contract, in order to get Larry Brown, despite the fact that Carlisle had just taken the Pistons to the Eastern Conference Finals and had back-to-back 50-win seasons. The Sixers have coveted Cheeks for years but were rebuffed by Portland each time contact was requested. I don't think the Sixers would have made the move just to get Flip Saunders, for example. We'll find out if this all works. In the meantime, the Sixers need some shooters and some rebounders.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Nash vs. Shaq

Steve Nash won the 2004-2005 NBA MVP Award. While some heatedly (pardon the expression) disagree, and others naturally bring up race, let's look at some of the arguments:

First argument:
"Shaq is a better player."
Yeah. So?

MSNBC's Mike Celizic argues that
for the 12th time in Shaq's 13 Hall-of-Fame seasons, someone other than the most dominant player in the game is the most valuable player in pro basketball. by this definition, Michael Jordan should have won the MVP for every year he was in the league, since he was the most dominant/best/greatest player in the league at the time. Not Magic, not Bird, not Duncan, not Shaq.

Next argument:
"If you take Shaq off Miami and Nash off Phoenix, you'll see how valuable Shaq is."
Oh? Let's see:

Miami with Shaq, 2004-05: 59-23, made playoffs, 17-game improvement
over previous season

Shaq missed 9 games (Heat went 6-3)

Miami without Shaq, 2003-04: 42-40, made playoffs


Phoenix with Nash, 2004-05: 62-20, made playoffs, 33-game improvement
over previous season

Nash missed 7 games (Suns went splat!)

Phoenix without Nash, 2003-04: 29-53, did not make playoffs

Hm. Seems like someone had a little more impact.

"Statistics don't lie. Shaq scored more - he had a better season."
Apples and oranges. One's a point guard who's paid to distribute (11.5 apg, league leader). The other is a big 'ol center who's paid to hit shots from two feet away from the basket (60.1 fg%, 1st in the league, and 22.9 ppg, 12th in scoring - behind Dwayne Wade. In other words, Shaq wasn't even the leading scorer on his own team, though he certainly was the most accurate. Oh, you say there are more important things than scoring? Bzz. You just disproved your own point.)

No argument there. Shaq's a better defender. I don't think Nash has discovered the word "defense" yet.

Let's face it - would I rather have Shaq over Nash if I had to pick first when making my team from scratch? Sure. Just as Wilt dominated the league, Shaq does the same thing now. But does that mean Shaq automatically gets the MVP vote? Nope.

Sunday, May 08, 2005


Did you see the Yankees have been hovering around last place in the AL East? Forgive me, but HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Life is good. The Sawx could finish in third and it wouldn't matter! You can take that $206 million lineup and stick it where the sun don't shine.

OK, rant over.

Did you see David Wells is on the DL, but felt well enough to go to the Pacers-Celtics game 7 at Fleet Center (or whatever it's called now)? Nice shot of him reaching over a row to shake hands with Reggie Miller after the Pacers ripped the C's.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

JFK, UFOs, and Yao Ming

David Stern does not like conspiracy theories.

Rockets Head Coach Jeff Van Gundy was fined $100,000 by NBA Commissioner David Stern for JVG's comments regarding NBA officials targeting Houston center Yao Ming. Stern also suggested he could end Van Gundy's career:
"If he's going to say things like that, he's not going to continue in this league," Stern said. "If the attitude reflected in those comments continues to be public, he's going to have a big problem with me as long as I'm commissioner."
Normally that would be called a threat and result in a lawsuit. Stern, commissioner for 21 years, is widely regarded as the most effective top man in the four major US pro sports and such a lawsuit would probably go nowhere.

Van Gundy told reporters that he recently spoke with one of the 40 refs not working the playoffs. This referee indicated Director of Officials Ronnie Nunn issued a directive instructing officials to watch Yao closely. If what Van Gundy said was true, then he is on the prongs of a dilemma. Does he "rat out" his source as requested by Stern (and apparently, as compelled by league by-laws)? Or does he keep silent and invite suspension, additional fines or even banishment from the league?

Wonder if anyone's asked Nunn to comment about the alleged directive. No comment, right?

And will anyone actually do anything about the bad calls? For example, players stepping out of bounds and refs not seeing this (Dallas)...players slipping and opponents getting called for fouls (i.e. Carmelo and Duncan - his sixth foul in Game 4).

Stern was right to fine Van Gundy, but went overboard on the amount and with his comments. For some reason, Stern didn't see fit to "ban" Mavs owner Mark Cuban for anything Cuban said about officials - just fine, fine, fine. Double standard here, folks. But as long as Stern's in charge, it will stay that way.

Update, 5/9/05:
From the NBA Front Office today:

NEW YORK, May 9 – NBA Deputy Commissioner Russ Granik today issued the following statement in regard to Houston Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy:

“Over this past weekend, Coach Van Gundy publicly apologized for his comments last week suggesting bias in the league’s refereeing relating to Yao Ming. He has also confirmed directly to an NBA representative that, during the Houston/Dallas playoff series, he did not have any communication with a referee (working or non-working) other than, of course, during an ongoing game. In fact, his only conversations with league employees during the series were with league personnel in the normal course. In light of these circumstances, we now consider the matter to be closed.”

So, Van Gundy went the 3rd way ("I made it up"), apologized, and won't get a suspension. We think.

Net loss

After going down to the last day of the regular season to qualify for the playoffs, the Nets were Swept by the Heat in 4 games. This is not a surprise. It did point out the Nets' lack of a dangerous 3-point shooter. But to paraphrase Richard Jefferson's complaint of racism after Team USA's poor showing in the last Olympics, "All we heard about was Hoiberg, Hoiberg, Hoiberg." Gee Richard, maybe it's because y'all could have used Hoiberg to shoot off the bench. Or maybe Michael Redd? Let's see, for 2004-05, regular season 3-point FG%:
Jefferson 33.7%
Kidd 36.0%
Hoiberg 48.3%

Wouldn't turn down that kind of help.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Mitch Albom: "oops"

If you haven't heard by now (see here for a thorough rehashing), Mitch Albom of the Detroit Free Press had a little oopsie a few weeks ago - when writing a column on a Friday, to be published on a Sunday, Albom wrote about events on the intervening Saturday as if they had already happened. Unfortunately, two Michigan State players featured in Albom's column did not show up at the MSU-UNC game as they had planned.

Albom apologized, saying "while it was hardly the thrust of the was wrong just the same." Hmmm. I read the article, and Albom spent the first three paragraphs talking about the two players - what they were wearing, how they got there, what they were feeling, etc., etc. He also concluded by using the phrase "you looked around the stands Saturday" - rather difficult, since it was Friday when the column was written.

Let's hope the editors worship their idols a little less and actually do their jobs a little, no, make that a lot, more.

Friday, April 15, 2005

T.O. needs a T.O.

Terrell Owens claims he needs a new contract. Apparently he is suffering from Spree-itis. Since he will "only" make $3.65 million or so this coming season, that makes him "underpaid."

Hm. But not if you take the first three years of TO's contract - he'll make around $21 million. Not bad. Yet Drew a/k/a "Rodent" Rosenhaus is only counting the first two years. It's common in NFL contracts to have a lower figure in the 2nd year of a long, multi-year deal. Peyton Manning, for example, will earn far less than his $14 mill per year contract in certain years of that deal (per Howard Eskin of 610-WIP in Philadelphia). Horrors! Get that man Drew's number!

And Stephen A. Smith (of the Philadelphia Inquirer and ESPN) took TO's bait hook, line and sinker. Now Stephen A. is comparing TO's salary to Austin Croshere of the Pacers. Good thing we can compare contracts across sports, I'd have never thunk it. Well, if Spree can't feed his kids on $7-12 million a year, what makes you think TO can provide for his punch-the-time-card mother so she can quit her job? Oh, you didn't hear about her? Hm. Wonder why we didn't hear about her last year when TO got his big signing bonus? Or his previous eight years in San Francisco. "Sorry, Mom. But since Mother's Day is right around the corner, I'll get some brownie points if I bring you into my contract talks".

Let's see - did anyone make TO sign his contract last year? And do they Eagles really cut players before the 3rd year of a 7 year deal? Remind me of one please. Still thinking?

If the Eagles budge on this, they will have rough, rough times ahead.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Billy Buck and "oops"

If I read one more inaccurate article referring to how "Bill Buckner lost the '86 Series" I'm gonna puke.

1. It was Game 6, not Game 7. The Sawx managed to blow the next game, too.
2. If Buckner had made the play at first on Mookie Wilson's dribbler, Boston could not have won the World Series because the game was tied.
3. If I blame anyone for losing Game 6, it would be a 3-way tie between Calvin Schiraldi, Bob Stanley and Rich Gedman. The Sawx were not just one out away from winning, they were one strike away. Billy Buck isn't listed as a pitcher in the box score, so I'm not pinning this on him.

I was listening to the game on a Walkman radio back in '86. When the wild pitch/passed ball occurred courtesy of Stanley and Gedman (which tied the game), I yanked my headphones off and threw them across the living room. I didn't even know about Buckner until later that night when I was at a friend's house watching highlights. That's why I never, ever blamed Buckner for "losing" '86.

You might argue that if he managed to make the play at first (or if Dave Stapleton, Buck's normal late-innings defensive replacement, had made the play), they might have won in extra innings. But exactly what confidence would you have in a pitching staff that just cost you a win the previous inning?

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Finally, it's Carolina!

Wow, what a game. Illinois gave everything they had and Carolina gave them one better back. Roy finally gets over the hump. No more bitching from impatient and/or ignorant fans. As Dean Smith said to Roy in '82, does winning make me a better coach than the coach I was 2 1/2 hours ago? Nope. Same for Roy. I guess spitting in the river paid off. Congrats from a Dookie, guys.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Final 2

2 really good games last night. I still can't believe how well Carolina played in the 2nd half against Michigan State. The Heels were in serious, serious trouble. MSU was faster, stronger and hungrier in the 1st half. Sean May, who appeared to be a liability in the track meet that was the 1st half, came alive in the 2nd half.

Illinois and Louisville were close until the Illini turned on the jets.

The Duke streak is over - the one about either Duke or whoever beats Duke gets to the final. Well, UNC took care of that. Should be a good final.

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Never heard of him. That's not exactly true. We were like brothers.

From 3-30-05 regarding several active and former Carolina Panthers players obtaining steroid prescriptions days after Super Bowl 38:

CBS said Mitchell and Steussie did not respond to repeated calls and letters seeking comment. The network said that when it contacted Sauerbrun by phone, and asked him about Shortt, the punter said, "I like the guy very much."

Ten minutes later, CBS said, Sauerbrun called back to say he had been confused and that he did not know Shortt.
You wonder what phone conversation took place in the interim - a call to an agent perhaps? Or a PR guy? "Yeah, what's up with this Shortt guy everyone's calling me about? Under investigation by the DEA? Really? Oh. Have to call CBS back, gotta go."

Somewhere, a Gramatica brother is laughing.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

not a "friendly"

Mexico defeated the US in soccer today 2-1 in a World Cup qualifying round, as fans chanted "Osama, Osama."see story here

There's such a thing as being patriotic, and there's just being idiotic. Sometimes people confuse the two.

It would be nice to see their faces when we eliminate Mexico from the World Cup. Again.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

So long, Devils

Michigan State edged Duke last night, 78-68. At the 3:12 mark in the 2nd half, Daniel Ewing hit a 3 to bring Duke within 3 at 66-63, but that's the closest they would get. Sheldon Williams fouled out at 2:47 and effectively Duke's season was over. Shavlik Randolph came up small again, getting as many turnovers (2) as rebounds, and did not score. Give credit to MSU - they were faster, bigger and more aggressive when it counted. They shut down J.J. Redick (13 points, or 16 fewer than when the 2 teams played November 30th). They shut down the middle. And did I forget to mention that Duke had as many turnovers (22) as field goals? Ugh.

In retrospect, Duke went deeper into the tourney than was expected at the start of the season. Given their lack of depth, Coach K held this squad together with duct tape, and more often than not in the 2nd half of their season, they resembled Wisconsin and Princeton much more than North Carolina or Wake Forest. They were a squad happy to keep the score in the 60s. Unfortunately for Duke last night, Michigan State was in the 70s.

on the other hand...

Highlight of a discussion from March 15, Comcast SportsNet's Daily News Live, on the strug-gul-ing Sixers:

Rich Hofmann: They can reach 40.
Dei Lynam: They will NOT get to 40.
Hofmann: What do they have to go?
Phil Jasner: 10-9.
Hofmann: They can do that.
Jasner: OK.
Lynam: They haven't played above .500 all year.
Hofmann: I see a surge...

The entire set laughed at that point.

Jim O'Brien will NOT be back next year as coach of this team. No way. Players not named Iverson have no clue how much they'll play from night to night. The defense is horrible. C-Webb has no idea how to contribute in an offense that doesn't revolve around him, but it's not like Iverson is helping him. Or at least based on their performance, that's what it looks like. Bad. Maybe some Earth-shattering trades for Kwame Brown and Darko are needed to shake things up. Or trade for an all-Duke lineup.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Sweet 16

Things are looking good for Carolina. I don't see a Duke-UNC matchup in the Final 4, even as a Duke fan. UK is just too tough. And no idea how MSU will play. Duke has to play much, much better. Jay Bilas made an interesting point on PTI yesterday - normally, Duke wants as many possessions as possible. This year, because of depth issues, they want fewer possessions, hence scores in the 50s and 60s.