Friday, January 16, 2009

Gruden Out in Tampa Bay [Breaking News]

Indeed, Jon.

According to NFL Network's Adam Schefter, Jon Gruden has been fired as Head Coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Wow. This offseason must have set a record for the amount of revolutions of the Coaching Carousel.

Gruden was victimized by Defensive Coordinator Monte Kiffin's decision to leave for the University of Tennessee to join his son Lane. He led the Bucs to the Super Bowl in 2002, but was 45-51 with two playoff losses since. Bad timing to be fired due to the fact that many vacancies have been filled.

Spags to Tampa? "Chucky" to the Jets?

Wilpon: Money Ain't A Thang

Rob Neyer quotes Will Leitch in more depth than I'm about to, but here's what Will's blog post for the New Yorker boils down to:
The Yankees are opening a new stadium and, as a result, changing the economic infrastructure of baseball with their spending. The Mets are opening a new stadium and are being outbid for their target free agents. Bernie Madoff might not to be blame. But something must be.
I'm sure there is some feeling of impending doom when the future $400M sponsor of their new digs is depending on a $20B fix from Uncle Sam. But the Mets have the same built-in advantages, perhaps to a slightly lesser extent, that the Yankees do. They are moving into a brand new ballpark, they play in a gigantic market and have public transportation piping fans right into said park. They have a share in a major regional sports network and are owned by a family whose wealth stretches far beyond their baseball team-related holdings. The $300M Fred Wilpon lost in Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme really had no effect on their offseason spending? None? Really?

Yes, they acquired K-Rod and J.J. Putz to shore up their porous bullpen. Excellent work. But both Leitch and Neyer point to a distinct lack of starting rotation depth. Let's start from the top:
  1. Johan Santana - Awesome.
  2. Mike Pelfrey - Great last year, but threw 50 more innings than the year before. As Neyer points out, has an alarmingly low strikeout rate.
  3. John Maine - Good when healthy but had shoulder problems at the end of last year and has never thrown more than 191 innings in a single season.
  4. Tim Redding? - Don't look at his (NL!) numbers if you've eaten recently. And no, I don't think he sucks because of the one inning of six run ball he "pitched" for the Yanks in 2005.
  5. ????
  6. Ron Darling

Were they waiting for the guy to change his name to Derek Lowez? Derek Lowe would have been a terrific stabilizing presence in the middle of their rotation. For similar money, they still could probably sign Oliver Perez who, like basically every other free agent this offseason is looking at potential deals far smaller than he expected. But Perez is the model of inconsistency, while Lowe is the exact opposite.

Perez gives up fly balls and walks while Lowe gives up neither. You can count on Lowe to put together a competent start almost every time he takes the mound, where Perez is bound to have a 5 walk, seven earned run shitshow where he gets pulled in the 2nd inning once in a while, like this one. Lowe only had 3 games where he went fewer than 4 innings last year and one was in his last appearance of the season when he had yet to give up a run.

The Mets' corner OF spots are occupied by Ryan Church, who is a pretty big question mark coming off his concussion shortened season last year, and Fernando Tatis/Nick Evans/Daniel Murphy? I would probably avoid Manny since they are in the NL, but Adam Dunn and Bobby Abreu are pretty nice fits at the prices they are going to end up at, despite their marginal fielding.

If I'm a Mets fan, I don't know who I hate more: Bernie Madoff for stealing Fred Wilpon's money or Wilpon for saying that losing $300M doesn't matter, then not taking the necessary steps to improve the team after two Hindenburg-ian late season meltdowns. All I know is that Bernie Madoff didn't just steal the Wilpon's money, he stole Derek Lowez, Adam Dunnito and their graphic design budget.

WBC - On Second Thought..

You may or may not have read my post about the upcoming World Baseball Classic, and how I was thinking I would really get into it this year.  I mentioned being happy to see studs like Jeter, Braun, and David Wright join team USA, as we were going to be fielding our best team.  I finished that post really looking forward to the March 7 opener against my home away from home, Canada (I travel to Canada about once a week for work).  

Big Willie then reminded me that the WBC was scheduled against the greatest sporting event in the world, the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament.  How in the hell did March Madness slip my mind when I looked forward two months?  Thus my enthusiasm for seeing team USA take the field subsided.

Today I stumbled upon an article from ESPN that completely soured my taste for the WBC.  David Ortiz is hopeful that he'll be able to join his native Dominican Republic for the WBC.  David Ortiz, the same Big Papi who made multiple trips to the DL in 2008.  The same Mr. Clutch who was exactly the opposite last postseason batting .186 and driving in only 5 runs in 11 games.  

I don't think it's ever been more appropriate to ask this question of any individual.  "What are you fucking thinking?"

"Just as I promised, if I'm healthy, I will join the team."  Papi - you are clearly not healthy and need all of the rest you can get.  With not signing Tesh, you returning to at least 75% of your former self is crucial for the Sox to be at all competitive in what is going to be the most talented AL East in recent memory.  Tito/Theo/Larry - do something!

Listen - I'm all for representing your country - as I said I was psyched to see Youk and Pedroia joining team USA.  I'm even fine with Dice K pitching for Japan because the guy has a Jugs machine for an arm.  An injury happens to any of them - I'm not happy, but I'm still okay with the WBC.  However, I'm not fine with a Shrek sized, rehabilitating 33 year old, coming off a dismal season due mainly to injury - suiting up for his homeland.  David, by all means go be an ambassador for the team, be a bench coach.  But for the sake of the millions and millions of the Sox fans - please to not pick up a baseball bat until spring training.

LoHud Of The Rings

Arranged in a clandestine meeting of the blogsmen early this morning, we have been granted the privilege by Wailin' Suzyn of IT IS HIGH, IT IS FAR, IT IS... caught to show their their groundbreaking Yankeeography "Peter Abraham: LoHud Of The Rings." This masterpiece chronicles the beat writer's ascent through the hellish environments of UMass Amherst and the Mets' beat via the use of his Thesaurus to the top of the sports world... covering the Yankees. Truly epic.



Be sure to check out their blog. It's satirical, snarky and irreverent, which means if you're reading this, it's probably right up your alley.

Here is an example
, based on our (least) favorite Red Sock.

ESPN Widget Headlines Compelling, Current


Sorry for the poor quality, but here is the story they are linking to. The time stamp is from three days ago. ESPN, you're making newspapers look up-to-the-second.


Quarterback of the Week

Regardless of their respective performances on Sunday, Donovan McNabb, Kurt Warner, Joe Flacco or Ben Roethlisberger will not be the Quarterback of the Week.

That honor belongs to U.S. Airways Flight 1549 Pilot Chesley B. "Sully" Sullenberger III who cooly navigated his engineless plane over the city and landed it in the Hudson River. After his miraculous landing, Sullenberger walked the plane twice after everybody else was off, and tried to verify that there was nobody else on board.

According to news reports, (and his website) Sullenberger has been studying the psychology of keeping airline crews functioning even in the face of crisis.*

Headcase atheletes (A-Rod, Romo) should read about crisis management and other psychological literature so they do not let their fans and teammates down. Selfish athletes (cough T.O., cough) should take notice of "Sully's" selfless behavior.

[Ed. Note: Malcom Gladwell's (poorly named but compellingly written) book called Outliers discusses the implications of cultural dynamics in precisely these situations (among other things). It delves into concepts such as power distance and dissects the causes or Korean Air Flight 801 and other airbone tragedies. Seriously, read it. Just like his other books, it's good.

And no, I did not get paid to write that.]

Todd Drew, Rest In Peace

Some sad news coming from the Bronx Banter yesterday. Alex Belth had the unfortunate task of informing the Yankees Blogosphere that Todd Drew of Yankees for Justice and the Bronx Banter lost his fight with cancer.

Todd's feature, "Shadow Games" at the Banter was something I thoroughly enjoyed. He did a wonderful job portraying the mood of the Bombers faithful through his stories. He was one hell of a writer and an even bigger Yankees fan.

Below is Todd's final comment under his post about baseball and his cancer:

25. Todd Drew
December 23rd, 2008 at 5:10 am
thelarmis, I'm getting ready to go to the hospital and I wanted to check in one last time. I am really touched by your comments. You really made my day. I love writing here because I love baseball and all the people in the game. Your support means more than you will ever know. I would love to meet you when you're in town. My email is shadowgames@earthlink.net.

Thanks to everyone at Bronx Banter for your support. I'll be fine because I'm already wearing my Derek Jeter T-shirt. The Captain always brings everyone home.
Our thoughts go out to the family and friends of Todd Drew.

T.O. Release or Not T.O. Release: That is The Question

The Dallas Cowboys are apparently undergoing chemo to rid themselves of the locker room cancers that have turned perhaps the most talented NFL team into mere ESPN Coverage Champions and employment guarantors of Ed Werder.

Already in this young offseason they have severed ties with Adam “Don’t Call Me Pacman” Jones (although according to him they are merely giving him rain check). According to ESPN, the Cowboys are also considering letting free agent DT Tank Johnson go unsigned. This is understandable, given the fact that Tank has not accomplished much with the ‘Boys. But the rumors do not stop there. Also according to ESPN, the Cowboys are considering severing ties with arguably the best wide receiver in the NFL, Terrell Owens.

T.O., who has been unjustly vilified by the public ever since he asserted his right to be one of the highest paid receivers in the league. When he led the Philadelphia Eagles to their only Super Bowl appearance, he was the only Eagles player to perform well, despite having an injured ankle for which he was required to sign a waiver that stated he would not be owed any future money by the organization in the event that the ankle was injured.

T.O.’s on the field performance has been nothing short of special. In his 3 seasons as a Cowboy he has gained at least 1,000 a year (for an average of about 15 yards per catch) scored at least 10 TDs a year, and been a dual threat over the middle and down the sidelines. Wherever he goes on the field he has drawn double teams and opened up Jason Witten and Patrick Crayton. He also isn’t afraid to throw a downfield block for his RBs or another receiver. Drops aside, I think that you will be hard-pressed to find a more complete receiver in the NFL.

T.O. has shown great loyalty to the organization. He has said that he "definitely" wants to finish his career in Dallas and enter the Hall of Fame as a Cowboy. Unlike his time in San Francisco or Philadelphia, Owens respects his quarterback, even going so far as to pathetically cry for him after defeat to the eventual World Champion New York Football Giants. [Ed. Note: Yesss]

So why release him?

I honestly have no clue why. As Jim Mora would say “Don’t Ask Me!”

Is it because he demands the ball on every play? Show me any top receiver who doesn’t. After looking at his numbers (specifically YPC and TDs), he definitely should get the ball every play.

Is it because of Jason Garrett? Word is that the Cowboys are afraid of losing the so-called offensive genius from Princeton. Garrett, who has a rocky relationship with Owens, has been inconsistent and his play-calling horrendous. Look what he has done with all the talent surrounding him--produced the 13th overall ranked offense in the NFL. Clearly he is dispensable.

Is it because of a rift with TE Jason Witten? I’m a huge Witten fan, but to put Witten before T.O. is putting the proverbial cart before the horse. Without Owens’ double coverage, Jason Witten would be nobody significant. Look at the numbers that back-up TE Martellus Bennett has put up in Witten’s absences.

Is it because of media distractions? You are seriously going to let the media run your team? Why not banish ESPN and Ed Werder from Valley Ranch? Shouldn’t you draft/sign thick-skinned players who will not be “distracted” by being asked questions about a single player who the media has a hard on for and who will be able to live with being a member of so-called “America’s Team?” Maybe you should investigate your signings more.

The man shows up to play his hardest every day. While he is a diva, like most WRs, he is not a felon.

Do not pin the Dallas Cowboys failure on T.O. Following his biggest distraction (PlayGate involving his alleged allegation of Tony Romo and Witten leaving him out of plays), the Cowboys defeated the Giants. It is not his fault that the Cowboys defense let up back-to-back 70+ yard runs against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 17, or Romo fumbled away the game versus the Philadelphia Eagles. It is not his fault that the Offensive Line (led by a partially deaf left tackle in Flozell Adams) could not stop the Giants defensive attack of Michael Strahan, Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora in the 2008 Divisional Round or that Romo fumbled a snap against the Seattle Seahawks the year before.

It is not his fault that Wade Phillips is a puppet and offers no leadership, nor his fault that no other player has asserted leadership of the team.

So go ahead, Dallas. Release him. See what happens when all who an erratic, choking QB has to throw to are a possession receiver in Roy Williams and a double-covered Witten. I’ll give you a hint: it will not be winning your first playoff game since 1996.