Monthly Archives: July 2009

Tick…Tick…Vick

The dog abuser is out of prison and looking for work.  I am pretty sure PETA, animal shelters and pet stores will pass on his resume. 

Ring…ring…ring!  Why won’t Arthur Blank pick up his phone?  “Hi, you’ve reached Arthur Blank.  I am not home right now.  I am on a fishing trip with Matt Ryan,  the best young QB to come along since Peyton Manning.  Leave a message, unless you’re Michael Vick. Beeeeep.”  

Where or where will our little Vick go?  Oh where or where will he go?

Many of us don’t care about this question.  Really!  Bears fans don’t care.  Eagles fans don’t care.  I guarantee the Patriots, Falcons and Steelers don’t care.  Teams are set and ready to roll in 2009.  Well, almost all of the teams.  Could their be a team or teams that might be interested in a rusty, out-of-prison Vick?

1 Oakland – The Raiders are the ex-cons of the NFL.  The fans throw rocks and batteries.  Most will identify with Vick’s situation and a good portion of the fan base have probably seen time behind bars.  Garcia is washed up and it appears Russell may be a bust.  It can’t hurt and there will be almost no PR mess.

2 Minnesota – Going, going, gone!  Favre has left the dome!  Hell, he never entered it.  Now a Minnesota team built for a playoff run has to do it with two career back up QBs in Rosenfels and Jackson.  Vick would make the perfect insurance policy.  Even if he misses the first four games due to suspension he can come in and play more than half the season.  Can you imagine an offense of Vick, Percy Harvin and A.P.?  Scary

3 Tennessee – This might be a long shot but this is another team built for a playoff run.  The defense is solid and the running game is excellent.  They even improved the receiver position.  The only question mark is at QB.  Collins is serviceable.  He is OK but I don’t see him winning a big game on his arms or with his legs.  Vick could be the perfect back up if Collins gets hurt or a change of pace in games where he struggles.  Could work.

4 Detroit – I know they have Culpepper and rookie Stafford but Detoit is going nowhere.  Culpepper wouldn’t be in the NFL if it wasn’t for Detroit.  If the Lions want a real option they will look at Vick.  Even a Vick out of the NFL for 2 years is better than Culpepper now.  If teams pass on Vick and he is sitting around for a while they should take a look.  He will at least run around a la Barry Sanders and make their games fun to watch.

5 Arizona – I am not sure this will happen but the marriage might work.  Warner is the man, no doubt, but he is 39.  One crushing hit from a linebacker and it is back to the Leinhart show and we know how inconsistent that show is.  It would be nice to have Vick there for the insurance.  Than if Warner goes down and Leinhart sucks he could step in and keep them competitive.  He might also be a nice option if they choose to employ the Wildcat this season.

When the smoke clears it will be Oakland or Minnesota.

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Fox Sports Adrian Hasenmayer is High

While scanning the Chicago Bears Web site in anticipation of the upcoming summer camp I stumbled across Larry Mayer’s Chalk Talk.  It is basically a Q&A section where fans can shoot questions to Bears expert Larry Mayer.  Some of the questions are pretty softball and some are just silly but the first one in his list of questions caught my eye immediately.  Fox Sports ranks the Bears 20th in pre-season poll.  WTF!  I had to check this out.

Writer Adrian Hasenmayer ranked the Chicago Bears 20th in the league after a 9-7 season and one of the best off-seasons in recent memory.  Even a novice football fan can realize an average football team with an amazing off-season usually translates into more wins, not less. 

He ranked Atlanta #4.  Atlanta who will have a great offense and absolutely no defense.  The Cardinals are #5 and while I think they are probably good enough to be in the top 10 they did lose some personnel and have a 39 year old QB.  The Colts at #10 is pretty laughable considering they lost more depth in the off-season and head football coach Tony Dungy.  Not too mention P.Manning isn’t happy and that usually isn’t a good thing. 

The 6-10 Packers are ranked #14.  Now while I thought their off-season was OK they really don’t impress me at all.  They have a new defensive coordinator and a whole new scheme.  There will be growing pains. 

The Bills are #15 and Saints are #16 and while that probably is pretty accurate their is no way those two teams are better than the Chicago Bears.

Now I don’t expect the Bears would be in the Top 5 but somewhere between 6-10 would be appropriate.  I mean they did acquire a Pro-Bowl QB in Jay Cutler and improve the offensive line.  They also signed several players to add depth to a defense that suffered injuries last season.  If they had acquired a top WR I probably would have put them in the Top 5.  They still have time to do that.  Overall they are a very good team with a very weak schedule.  11 to 12 wins is a very realistic goal for them. 

Here is BPD’s more REALISTIC Power Ranking.

1 – NEW ENGLAND – The Brady Moss show is back and action and their defense is loaded.

2 – PITTSBURGH – The Steelers didn’t get any better in the off-season but they didn’t get any worse.  They had O-Line depth issues and addressed it in the off-season.

3 – TENNESSEE – The receiving corps was weak so they drafted Kenny Britt and signed free agent Nate Washington.  They lost DT Haynesworth and drafted Sen’Derrick Marks and signed Jovan Haye.  Solid team all around.

4 – PHILADELPHIA – The Eagles look tough with a stud WR corps in place.  The defense looks like one of the best in the league and Donovan McNabb is happy.  This team should do very well.

5 – NEW YORK (NFC) – The Giants have a very talented and very deep offense.  The offense had struggles last season but they have the talent and leadership to re-group.  They also had a great draft to add depth to the offense.  They will contend.

6 – MIAMI – Fox Sports picks them #19 and that is crazy.  This team won 11 games last season and added weapon Pat White to the Wildcat Offense.  They improved the offensive line and defensive backfield.  Wildcard team.

7 – CHICAGO – Fox Sports again drops the ball with a #20 ranking.  The Bears added a pro-bowl QB and left tackle.  They also added depth on the O-Line, D-Line, linebacking corp and defensive backfield.  The only weakness may be the WR’s inexperience.  They should win 11 to 12 and their division.

8 – ATLANTA – I love the Falcons offense.  It should be one of the most entertaining in the NFL.  They did take some hits to the defense in the off-season and haven’t adequately replaced their losses. 

9 – CAROLINA – The Panthers had a nice off-season and should run neck and neck with Atlanta all year.  They should have a dominate run game again and with Peppers back in for another year one of the better pass rushes in the game.

10 – ARIZONA – The Cardinals are a good team but they had some issues in the off-season.  Boldin still isn’t happy and they lost their offensive coordinator.  They also have a 39 year old QB.  His health is the difference between 10-6 or 6-10.

11 – BALTIMORE – Harbaugh has his work cut out for him after the loss of Bart Scott and his defensive coordinator.  They do have enough depth on the defensive side of the ball to remain one of the better groups in the league.  Flacco is for real but does he have enough weapons?

12 – MINNESOTA – This is really a Favre question isn’t it.  A healthy Favre plays and they probably win 10 to 11 games and push Chicago for the Division title.  He dosn’t play and they go with the Jackson and Rosenfels than they are probably a 9 win group pushing for that final Wildcard spot.

13 – SAN DIEGO – The Chargers could be a little better #13 depending on their health but they play in a weak division.  They should  win 9 games easily and that should be good enough to get into the playoffs.

14 – DALLAS – The Cowboys have removed their cancerous growths and this could be good for them.  They do seem to lack depth at some key positions and happen to play in the best division in the NFL.  They may not be able to break .500.  Can you say Shanahan in 2010?

15 – NEW YORK (AFC) – The Jets are going to be fun to watch under new coach Rex Ryan.  They will have to endure the rookie QB growing pains most teams go through but I look for them to start slow and pick up steam at the end of the season.  Wildcard longshot.

16 – WASHINGTON – In any other division Washington would be 2nd best and have a shot at the Wildcard.  In the NFC East they are a .500 record doormat.  If they stick with Zorn I do like their future. 

17 – INDIANAPOLIS – Peyton Manning can’t do it all and this should be a challenging season for him.  He will still put up decent numbers with Wayne and Clark but the rest of the team is very average looking.

18 – SAN FRANSISCO – The 49ers are improving under Mike Singletary.  They have an arsenal of WRs for Shaun Hill to throw too.  Gore’s health is very important to the success of this team.  7 or 8 wins should be the max but if Arizona falters an 8 win division title is possible.

19 – HOUSTON  – I really wanted to put this team higher but QB Matt Schaub has not proven he can stay healthy.  If he misses time again the next QB is Rex Grossman and I think that says it all.  Their defense is good but proved to be inconsistent last year.  Will that continue? 

20 – GREEN BAY – Now this is the team that belongs #20, not the Bears.  Aaron Rodgers is a good QB but not great.  He doesn’t have a strong running game behind him despite his arsenal of receivers.  The defense is a work in project.  While they’ll improve later in the season the first 5 or 6 games could be rough.

21 – JACKSONVILLE – I look for Garrard to bounce back and have a better season.  RB Mo Jones Drew is the main guy now and should be a top back in the AFC.  They also improved their WR situation purging off the field headache Matt Jones and adding Tory Holt and Troy Williamson.  Defensively they should continue to struggle against the pass.

22 – NEW ORLEANS – I was destroyed by some Saint faithful last year for suggesting they were a .500 team with no defense or running game.  Ooops, I was right.  However they are probably in the same boat again this season.  Thomas and Bush will be carrying the running load and I am not sure that’s good enough.  The defense, while better, is still weak against the pass.  Look for Brees to throw…a lot.

23 – TAMPA BAY – New coach, similar philosophy and a team full of 2nd string QBs.  It doesn’t sound good to me either.  The defense should be adequate but the offense doesn’t look good to me at all.  Atlanta, Carolina and New Orleans are much better than they are.  Long season for Tampa. 

24 – DENVER – The Broncos ownership thought they were stepping in the right direction when all they did was step in a big, smelly pile of McDaniel.  Cutler is gone and Orton is in.  Their stud WR and TE both want out.  The defense was terrible last season and won’t be much better this year.  They get to 6 wins only because Oakland and Kansas City are worse than they are.

25 – BUFFALO – I look for Buffalo to take a tumber for three reasons.  The first is that is what happened to the Dick Jauron Bears.  The second is they are not better than New England, NY or Miami.  The third is Terrell Owens is going to end up being a pain in the ass and cause problems with their young QB.

26 – KANSAS CITY – They aren’t a good team but I like their upside.  I like their coach and draft too.  I am not sure about paying Cassell all that money though.   That was a huge risk and I am a fan of Thigpen.  But Cassell will probably do well long term.

27 – CINCINNATI – Ocho Cinco says playoffs for Cincy but I don’t see it.  The defense doesn’t look very good and the RB situation is kind of a mess.  On the upside Carson Palmer is healthy behind a better line.  The downside is he is missing T.J.  They’ll struggle. 

28 – CLEVELAND – Mangenius should be able to restore the pride to the ‘Dog Pound’ but not this season.  This team looks like a mis-matched quilt pattern.  Eventually the pieces will come together although that future may not include Quinn or Anderson.

29 – SEATTLE – Mora is the new coach and simply doesn’t have his guys yet.  There are a lot of old timers left from the previous coach.  The addition of TJ Houshmanzadeh was a key building block.  The running game probably won’t be too great and the defense looks to be inconsistent.

30 – OAKLAND – I don’t get it.  It has been years since Oakland was good.  Not even great, I am talking good.  The ownership has destroyed the team, they lack effective leadership and passing up on Crabtree for Bey was idiotic.  They will struggle and win only 3 or 4 games again.

31 – ST. LOUIS – The owner wants the team back in L.A.  The coach is competitive and wants to  win now.  I am not sure how long this marriage will last.  Bulger is old and his best days are behind him.  Although they are rebuilding this team on the lines they have quite a ways to go.

32 – DETROIT – They suck.  They should break the winless drought and maybe win twice.  They had a nice draft but they are terrible at every position.  The ‘Restore the Roar’ project is a 5 year project at least.

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Feed Vick to the Dogs?

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How do you solve a problem like Michael Vick?  He is a free man.  He has served his time.  He can walk the streets of the town you live.  Did he get off easy?  Maybe.  Did he serve his time?  Yes he did.  The question now goes to NFL Commish Roger Goodell.  What do you do with Vick?

Fans have been polled on ESPN and other sports programs and it seems as if half the NFL fans say, “Let him back in.  He’s served his time.”  That there are some that say, “Suspend him and address this issue down the road.”  Finally their is the group that says, “F–k Vick.  He screwed up.  He’s done.”

I think each of these groups has a valid point.  The F–k Vick group is made up mostly of dog lovers, PETA activists and the like.  That is fine and I can share a hatred of Vick from that stand point.  There are also those who wouldn’t touch him for business reasons.  Who would want him?  Do you really want animal groups protesting all of your home games?  Do you want your own fans booing its own players just because of who they are?  It may not be worth the PR headache.

The “let him play” group are mostly made up of teams lacking playmakers at the QB position hoping they can get him for a steal.  Even adding him as a back up or a QB to play the Wildcat offense might be enough to garner interest from half of the league.  San Fransisco, Houston, New England, Seattle, Denver and St. Louis are all teams I can think of off of the top of my head that could use him in one way or another.  I am sure he is extremely rusty but if an antique like Brett Favre can find interest than why not Vick who still has 5 or 6 good years left in him.

Finally their is the “wait and see” group.  Some might think these are the fans that simply can’t make up their mind about Vick.  I disagree with that.  I think that most of these fans want to see Vick live life outside of prison and not get into any kind of trouble.  If he volunteers at a dog shelter, donates money to animal cruelty and is generally a good will ambassador for at least a year that would be enough to welcome him back.  This groups fear is that you’ll let him back into the league, give him a big fat check and then he’ll start hanging with his thug friends again and get into trouble.

I am in favor of a 2009 suspension.  Goodell should suspend him with the possiblity of reinstatement in 2010 if he meets certain criteria.  He should volunteer and be a good will ambassador for the league and animal rights in 2009.  He can’t get into any sort of trouble during his suspension and that includes misdemeanors.  If he acheives all the goals set forth by the league’s conduct policy office than he can play again next season.

The other options don’t make sense to me.  A lifetime ban doesn’t make sense because legally he has served his sentence and Vick was one of the league’s most exciting players when he left. 

Letting him back in right away is also a poor option.  I think the league and team that signs him would be in for a PR nightmare.  Their would be protests and a possible loss of sponsorship.  In addition there are a lot of ‘dog loving’ NFL defenders who would love to hurt Vick a la Ice Hockey retribution.  A defensive lineman on a bad team might not even think twice about going low on Michael Vick.  Vick’s health and career could be at stake.

The NFL Commish will make his decision soon and take many of these things into consideration.  Let’s just hope he makes the right decision.

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Where Does This Canadian Hurler Go?

One of the American League’s best pitchers, Roy Halladay, is on the open market.  Roy is 11-3 with a 2.73 ERA.  He is a positive player in the clubhouse and a big game pitcher.  Almost any team would die to have a pitcher of Roy’s caliber at or near the top of its rotation.  The question is which teams will compete for his services and who wins?

Competitors –

NY Yankees – The Yankees have a few young studs left, but not many.  A pitcher of Halladay’s quality will require 2-3 top prospects and at least 2 everyday players.  Current MLB roster players like Cody Ransom, Phil Hughes and/or Alfredo Aceves might have to be in this deal.  Minor League prospects like C Jesus Montero, OF Austin Jackson and P Zach McAllister would almost certainly have to be in this deal.

Boston Red Sox – Boston’s minor league system is pretty loaded and they have a few position players to give at the major league level as well.  Utility man Mark Kotsay and P Brad Penny are expendable in this deal.  They, like the Yankees, would have to sweeten the deal with a couple of top prospects like 3B Mike Almanzar, P Michael Bowden and/or P Daniel Bard.

Chicago Cubs – The Cubs are having money issues but they may not stop them from pursuing Roy Halladay.  An all star player like 3B Aramis Ramirez might be expendable with the emergences of 3B/C Jake Fox.  Utility infielders Andres Blanco and Mike Fontenot are also available.  P Jeff Samardzija also has a lot of potential and might be included in a deal to land Halladay.  The Cubs don’t have a lot to offer in terms of minor league prospects but 3B Josh Vitters is considered a can’t miss prospect as is P Ryan Flaherty.

LA Dodgers – With Ramirez back in the OF the Dodgers might be able to offer Kemp or Ethier for Halladay.  Since LA wouldn’t be able to offer much in the way of MLB pitching in return they might have to part with both pitching prospects James McDonald and Ethan Martin.  OF Andrew Lambo has a great bat and might also be considered.

Philadelphia Phillies – The Phillies can all but lock up an NL Pennant by adding a guy like Halladay.  They don’t have very much to offer Toronto as far as Major League talent goes but they could offer P J.A. Happ.  They could also sweeten the deal with minor league prospects like P Carlos Carrasco, OF Michael Taylor and/or C Travis D’Arnaud.

St. Louis Cardinals – The Cards could use an ace in the staff to seperate themselves from the pack.  They also have many major league players to offer Toronto for Halladay.  OF Colby Rasmus, OF Skip Schumaker, IF Joe Thurston and/or P Todd Wellemeyer.  They also have a solid minor league system with several top prospects like 3B Chris Wallace, Closer Chris Perez, P Jess Todd and OF Daryl  Jones.

OTHER TEAMS – The NY Mets, SF Giants, Tampa Rays and Texas Rangers could make a play for Halladay.

Projected Winner – While Boston and the NY Yankees are famous for that kind of a trade I don’t think they’ll make the move inside the division.  I tend to think the Phillies will make a major play for Halladay and may get him.  However, I think the Cubs will end up making the deal for Halladay for two reasons.  The first reason is so the Cardinals don’t get him.  If the Cards get him the Cubs are done and will end up selling instead of buying.  The second reason is because the window for success with this current group is closing quickly.  They have this year and next before a rebuild starts to occurr.  Parting with Aramis could be a PR nightmare because he has been a fan favorite.  However he can be offered up because the Cubs have Fox now and Vitters on the way.  Toronto would be able to showcase Aramis as their star player and he could anchor their hot corner for the next 5-6 years.  The Cubs might also have a couple of arms they can give Toronto in return to make this deal a win-win. 

Adding Halladay to the Cubs rotation makes it the best in the majors.  The Cubs would then be able to part with one of their other arms at the back of their rotation for some bullpen help.  The deal just seems to make sense.

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Blackhawk Fans are Among the NHL’s Worst

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The statement I make is bold and risky.  There are a lot of idiot hockey fans.  Philly fans are just terrible, St. Louis fans aren’t much better and (according to some of my friends in Canada) Toronto fans can be unbearable during the playoffs (because they never make them).  But after sharing Blackhawks season tickets for the first time this year, a couple of things led me to believe that Hawks fans (as a whole) are the most idiotic, misinformed bunch of Cretans in the NHL.

We bought our tickets in the 300 Level and that is the Mecca of the morons.  We do have a couple of wonderful older folks who sit around us.  They are quiet and nice.  However there are also lots of drunk idiot fans that sit up by us too.  They make it a point of finding fans from out-of-town to verbally assault for three periods.

They also consistently misuse hockey terminology.  According to an idiot behind me you should yell “forecheck, forecheck!” with the puck on your own end of the ice and/or while in the middle of line change.  This happened all of the time.  His friend, also a member of Shortbus Ice Crew, assumes boarding occurs any time a Hawks players gets checked hard into the boards.  It got to a point during the season when he would yell “BOARDING!” and I would calmly reply “Not Boarding”.  Once one of my comments almost got me in trouble when I replied to Boarding Boy with, “Flight 233 for Idiotsville”.  I know, I stooped to his level on that one.  And one thing almost all of them holler during ANY home game is “Detroit Sucks”.  Well, first off if you are playing LA, Minnesota or Vancouver and you are chanting Detroit Sucks, you are an idiot.  Secondly, they don’t suck.  They have owned the Hawks since the mid-90s and never, ever looked back.  I think it could be helpful if the fans try chants that make sense like, “Detroit is a Hell Hole!”  That would be accurate and I would support that…when playing the Red Wings.

Stupid fan comments aside, I think the treatment of fans from other cities is just terrible.  In rare occassions they deserve a good ribbing.  This Pittsburgh fan was starting all kinds of crap pre-game.  Bad move on his part.  But most fans want to make the trip to Chicago and see their team play.  Some are families with kids and let me assure those kids learn a whole new language by the time they get out of the United Center. 

When the Hawks played the Devils this past year I wore my Brodeur jersey simply because he is my favorite hockey player.  That was a bad mistake on my part.  I was treated like crap from moment one of that game.  After the Hawks won in OT it got worse.  “Brodeur is a faggot!” and “Brodeur SUCKS!” were the most common insults.  I just smiled and walked back to the car because in reality I know Marty is a womanizer and not a homosexual and that he is one of the greatest goalies of all time with several Stanley Cup championships under his belt. 

The Blackhawks season has been over for a while in Chicago and baseball has been front and center.  The town has also been a buzz with Jay Cutler talk and the NBA Draft.  However, last week was the Blackhawks Convention.  Much to the fans credit it was sold out and from all reports it was exciting and a lot of fun.  Unfortunately the fans displayed their true colors by ruthlessly booing a man they cheered just one year ago.  

Team President John McDonough (formerly of the Chicago Cubs) was booed big time.  Why you might ask?  Why boo a man partially responsible for making our Hawks into one of the league’s top 5 or 6 teams?

GM Dale Tallon was fired by John just before the festival and Stan (son of Scoty) Bowman was introduced.  To Dale’s credit he put much of this current Hawks team together.  Dale did a solid job evaluating young talent over the past 5 years and bringing skaters in off of the scrap heap to become solid contributors.  However, there are a lot of things he didn’t do well.  Overpaying for Defenseman Brian Campbell (who can’t play defense) and Cristobal Huet (incredibly inconsistent) was just the beginning.  

Dale was told that the pursuit of Defenseman Chris Pronger would be a priority for a team that struggled definsively at times.  The Hawks lost out to Philly without even getting into the bidding. 

The next not-so-brilliant move from his office was to lose Martin Havlat.  Negotiating terms with free agent Martin Havlet was said to be important.  In talking with one of the Hawks future young studs, Kyle Beach, most of the players were disappointed that they didn’t retain Marty.  While injury prone, he was the key to the Blackhawks run last year.  While Marty sat “unwanted”  Dale made Red Wing free agent Marian Hossa a priority and, to Dale’s credit, got him.  The downside was the Hawks probably overpaid in salary and terms for Marian’s services.  

Don’t get me wrong, Hossa is a very nice player.  He is an all-star caliber forward the Hawks have lacked for a long time.  During this time Havlat was courted and signed by Minnesota.  Dale said they tried to bring Marty into the fold to play with his old Ottawa teammate but stated he wanted to go a different direction.  What happened?  Nothing according to Havlat who said the front office never even contacted him.

The straw that broke Dale’s back was the fiasco with the restricted free agents, most notably Cam Barker and Kris Versteeg.  All of the free agents were due for about a 10% raise.  Unfortunately for Dale and the Hawks paperwork was never filed with the league office and they almost ALL became UNrestricted free agents.  And, to top it all off, they had to fork over hefty raises to all of the players just to keep them.  Kris Versteeg for example made $480,000 last year and was due for a 10% raise.  That is it.  Instead, because of Tallon’s bonehead moves they forked over $3 million per season for three years.  Absolutely terrible management.  Now, when the Hawks are in contention in 2009-2010 and need that additional defender or goalie they won’t be able to get him because they spent millions of dollars extra on guys they didn’t have to give millions to.

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For all of those reasons Dale Tallon is now a special assistant to the guy that offers you mints in United Center’s really nice bathrooms.  John made the right decision and appointing the Bowman family is the right thing to do. 

Instead of being students of the game and realizing that firing Dale was the right thing to do, you boo the man responsible for bringing your asses back to the United Center.

Hawks fans NHL’s worst?  I guess you could debate that.  Amongst the worst?  Undebateable!

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All-Star Game is Super-Weak

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In the words of Eric Cartman the MLB All-Star Game is “super weak”.

As a kid of the 80’s I remember the All-Star games being memorable.  There would be a big hit or a couple of great plays in every game.  I can still remember Freddy Lynn’s Grand Slam in old Comiskey Park.  There were always great players in the game as well.  Carl Yazstremski, Reggie Jackson, Pete Rose and Rod Carew in the 70s to Sandberg, Boggs, Garvey and Guidry in the 80s. 

The most amazing thing is those teams played  for nothing.  Their wasn’t any extra incentive.  You didn’t get home field in the World Series if you won the All-Star game.  You played because it was an honor and because the American League and National League didn’t cross paths until the World Series.   So when you see Rose lower his shoulder and destroy Fosse keep in mind it was an All-Star game with virtually nothing at stake except for bragging rights.

As I mentioned previously the All-Star games of the past  had the big stars too.  With fans currently voting in record numbers the process has been too washed down.  You can get on your computer and vote 25 times per day for your favorite players.  That is exactly what must have happened this year.  How else do you explain Texas OF Josh Hamilton.  He has only played in 35 games this season and has sucked doing it.  How do the fans reward him?  With a STARTING nod in the All-Star Game.  Meanwhile a kid like Toronto’s OF Adam Lind (.306  19  59) is on the outside looking in.  I am a Red Sox fan but even I know Bay probably doesn’t deserve to start in the game.  Jermaine Dye of the White Sox has just as many homeruns as Bay, is hitting 42 points higher with a weaker supporting cast and isn’t in the game.  And the snub of snubs had to go to Detroit’s 1B/DH Miggy Cabrera who is hitting .321 with 18 homers and 50 RBIs.  Instead Carlos Pena of the Rays makes the team.  Sure, he has 24 homers but he is hitting .228.  That is not All-Star worthy.

Instead of having the best of the best playing the game you have some of the best and then some guys who are fan favorites voted on by high school girls, cyber-geeks and 10 year-old-boys.  This might be America’s game but why entrust it to the fans?  In past years it is obvious the public doesn’t get it.  No, not the true baseball fans that actually fill out one of the ballots at the game.  Not the fans that actually know the value of the sacrifice, hold and WHIP.  I am talking about the teen girls, cyber-geeks and little kiddies.  Instead why not have a panel of retired vets to make the call.  Establish some sort of voting system the vets have to abide by and determine the All-Star teams that way.  And I am not talking about just the starters, I am talking about the whole team.  Sometimes the managers of the teams (LaRussa being a prime example) will select a few reserves from teams contending with theirs and play those players a lot.  It is kind of a classless thing to do but several managers have done it.

The vets can be hall of famers and non-hall of famers.  It should also be a diverse panel from both leagues.  This would make me feel a little better about things.  If we, as fans, don’t like who gets picked we would have a small group of individuals to blame for it.

I think another reason its appeal has gone way down is inter-league play.  All of these teams play one another.  There is absolutely no fascination with Albert Pujols hitting against Roy Halladay.  It has happened.  Jason Bay hitting against Ted Lilly.  No interest.  Back in the day Bill Madlock might bat against Ron Guidry.  How about Ernie  Banks facing off against Jim Palmer?  That’s hot!  Classic future Hall of Famers would face each other in this game and sometimes for the only time ever.  That made the game attractive to viewers.  Now they face off all the time. 

One final point about this weak game, forget the “each team must have one representative rule”.  If your teams sucks and you have no all-stars, too frickin’ bad.  Draft and sign better players.  Quality players like Dye, Cabrera or Lind should not be left off because we want Pittsburgh or Kansas City to feel better about their baseball teams.  I am pretty sure most fans won’t tune in just because their middle-reliever made the team.

Well, that is my rant about this once proud game.  If you tune in, enjoy the All-Lame Game.  I’ll be watching Rescue Me and the NFL Network.

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Boozer to Bulls

The Portland Trail Blazers, Utah Jazz and Chicago Bulls having discussed a deal that would be headlined by Carlos Boozer and Kirk Hinrich, according to NBA front-office sources.

A deal featuring those main components would deliver the top of the line low-post scorer that the Bulls have been after since parting with Elton Brand.  The Bulls would also position themselves to have significant salary-cap space for the summer of 2010 to court Chicago native Dwyane Wade or Chris Bosh in free agency, since Boozer is entering the final year of his contract.

The Bulls have one stellar piece in gaurd Derrick Rose.  Adding Boozer gives the Bulls a scoring threat in the front court.  So, while positioning themselves for a run at one or two big named free agents next year they have also set themselves up to make a playoff run in 2009-10.  A starting line up of Rose, Salmons, Deng, Boozer and Miller should be able to win 48 to 52 games in a weak Eastern Conference. 

Here’s hoping the Bulls have the Balls to pull it off.

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