Monday, November 30, 2009

The VY Roller Coaster Of Love

It's late November which means wives and girlfriends are out elbowing each other in an attempt to spend all of their (or someone else's) money on coutures and ornamental crap while the guys stay home and watch the NFL playoff picture come into focus while ignoring most Christmas shopping duties.

Usually by now, the NFL is separated into groups of have and have nots. Vikings? Good. Browns? Bad. The haves jockey for playoff position while the have nots jokey (yes, I meant to mispell that) for draft slots. Then right there in NFL purgatory sit the Tennessee Titans just a game below .500. The record isn't exciting, but how Tennessee got there is.

The Titans have become the first team ever to win five straight games after losing their first six. The common denominator in the turnaround is one Vincent Young. He just keeps winning football games. Yesterday, he proved he could actually pass as he threw for 387 yards including a game winning touchdown against the Matt Leinart led Cardinals.

Now we'll see all sorts of comparisons to Young's drive to beat the Leinart led USC Trojans in the 2006 Rose Bowl. It's cute. You get to see Leinart relive his college nightmare in the pros. And that's about it.

It's the NFL. If you play quarterback long enough, you will have a chance to win a game. How many game winning drives does Tom Brady or Peyton Manning have? That's nothing new.

Yet here goes everyone jumping back on the VY bandwagon. These are the same people that were falling all over each other to label Young a bust over the past year. So is Young the future in Tennessee? It was only two months ago when people were assuming Young would be gone from the Titans and possibly the NFL before long.

Did Young really become that much better of a quarterback on the bench? He's definitely matured. But he was leading the Titans to the playoffs before his benching too. So why did everyone suddenly label him a colossal bust and why have they suddenly reversed course after only five regular season games?

Vince will lose at some point, he's not going undefeated. He'll also have some bad games. It will be interesting to see the reaction when Young proves he's human again because right now it's like his fans are manic depressives. When he wins, he's in the Pro-Bowl, when he loses, he's in the toilet bowl.

Young has rejuvenated his career, but is this the norm or just a peak in his crazy NFL life?

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Trophy Colt

As I watch the waning moments of the Florida/Florida State game and everyone falls over each other to talk about how wonderful Tim Tebow is and legendary Florida State coach Bobby Bowden deals with whether he will be forced to rusticate after this season, I think about the upcoming weeks in college football.

Barring a major upset, Texas will play the winner of the Florida/Alabama game for the national championship. TCU and Boise State should at least make a BCS bowl and if they don't, college football is flawed beyond recognition.

That just leaves one thing up in the air: who will win the Heisman Trophy (aka the most overrated award in sports)?

Some will probably vote for Tebow just because he's just so awesome and wonderful, but I'm guessing most people will resist the alluring pull of Saint Tebow. Which leaves a pretty tight race between the deserving players.

Alabama running back Mark Ingram was the front runner through last week, but with only 30 yards against rival Auburn, Ingram didn't leave a very good final impression. He'll have to dominate the SEC championship game to be the favorite again.

Stanford running back Toby Gerhart has come out of nowhere this year to get into the Heisman discussion. He's a powerful back who has a nose for the endzone. The problem is that his team just lost their rivalry game to Cal. Losses hurt even if Gerhart had a great game.

Speaking of losses hurting, C.J. Spiller is an all around threat at running back for Clemson, but that couldn't prevent the Tigers from losing three of their first five games this season. He also only ran for 18 yards against rival South Carolina today in a big loss.

With no front runner really emerging, I'd like to re-introduce Heisman voters to one Colt McCoy of Texas. Like the other Heisman favorites, McCoy has had his ups and downs this season. He started slowly and had a miserable day against Oklahoma earlier this year. Two big things though: the Longhorns won that game and McCoy has been scorching defenses since.

He's completed nearly 75% of his passes for 16 touchdowns and only two interceptions since the OU game and has run for 277 yards as well. The crown jewel was his performance against rival Texas A &M. Colt threw for 304 yards and four touchdowns, plus he ran for 175 more yards and a touchdown. It was a dominant performance against a juiced up rival. Without McCoy, the Longhorns don't win that game. He doesn't have the stats he did last year, but the Longhorns don't have a loss either.

And that's where McCoy separates himself from the other candidates. While some people keep beating me over the head with the fact that Tebow set a new SEC record for touchdowns in a career, I can look them in the eye and tell them that McCoy is the winningest quarterback in college football history.

Should winning count so much for the Heisman trophy? Probably not. But it does. With that in mind, it's hard to argue against Colt.

McCoy replaced Vince Young at Texas as a freshman which is feat no one could imagine doing. He led Texas to the brink of a championship last year, but was denied both a title bid and the trophy to the rival Oklahoma Sooners. This year, he hasn't been pretty always, but he's won. And now McCoy is rolling. He has one more game against a top defensive team in Nebraska. If McCoy performs in the Big 12 championship, he should finally get his trophy.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Fantasy Football PantsCast November 24

It's the Thanksgiving version of the fantasy football PantsCast!

In this episode we discuss:

-What do the Oakland Raiders have in common with Poland
-Some Pantsgiving wishes to NFL players around the league
-Plus the weekly awards

So get yourself in the holiday spirit and listen to the Pantsgiving episode of the fantasy football pantscast feast!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

That's Not What The Gipper Meant

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Whether you love them or hate them, they have a lot of tradition. Generally, Notre Dame is known for it's Catholic education and rigid schedule that produces martinets for alumni. It's Brady Quinn telling us in a commercial how he worked 14 hours a day between football and school work because "that's how it is at Notre Dame."

It's annoying and the golden domer holier than thou attitude always rubbed me the wrong way, yet I always respected them. A Notre Dame fan generally understood sportsmanship. They weren't a group of drunk morons who didn't care if the linebacker raped a woman last week as long as he led the team in tackles. They had dignity.

Either I was wrong or losing took that away too since Notre Dame fans are apparently acting just like the idiots at any state university.

First came the potshots at Charlie Weis. This is a guy who actively seeked out the Notre Dame coaching job because he's an alumnus. He wanted to bring his beloved university back to the mountain top. Things haven't gone as planned and according to Weis, they are much worse than anyone can imagine.

Speaking candidly like a coach who knows he's gone after the season, Weis absolutely blasted Notre Dame fans for taking such personal shots at him saying that people went over the line and hurt his family. Weis said "The damage to Maura and Charlie Jr. is irreparable, it's watching me get hammered. I'll never forgive the people who character-assassinated me without even knowing me. Those people did irreparable damage to my wife and son, and I'll never forgive them."

You might be thinking that Weis just has a thin skin and is overreacting. Then how about this cheap shot....literally? Jimmy Clausen the star quarterback for the Irish was having dinner with his family and friend after this weekend's loss to UConn when there was an altercation where he was sucker punched in the face by a fan.

Apparently losing makes Notre Dame fans forget all about that silly stuff like dignity and discipline. What a pile of hypocrites. Oh well, I guess there's still Joe Paterno.

Monday, November 23, 2009

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Of Those Word Like Things

I could sit here and write you a novel about what NFL fans think about the Chicago Bears offense this season which I had the displeasure of viewing on Sunday Night Football, but then I had the benison of finding a picture to do my talking for me.


I'm pretty sure Devin Hester feels the same way.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Blown Karma

Since college football has such blah match-ups today--- the top teams are all gigantic favorites against teams like Florida International and Tennessee Chattanooga while the Michigan/Ohio State game will determine nothing except local bragging rights--- I guess today is a germane time to talk about a different kind of football. As in futbol.

While we Americans are knee deep in BCS madness and NFL playoff runs, the rest of the world is watching the World Cup qualifying games. One such game just took place between Ireland and France this past week. On the line was an invitation to the World Cup tournament next year.

As Irish luck would have it, France won. But not without major controversy. French super striker Thierry Henry set up a game tying goal for his team as he's done so many times. Unlike the other times, Henry blatantly used his hand to pass the ball. That's a no no.

Somehow, the refs missed this call. The goal stood and the game ended in a 1-1 draw which sent France into the tournament and the Irish home with a bitter taste that all the Guinness on the island couldn't remove.

Ireland officially appealed the goal and even asked France to replay the game to make sure things ended properly. France naturally declined which left the Irish with little other recourse than to call foul on the whole situation.

Irish football CEO John Delaney asserted that "without doubt, the credibility of fair play has been damaged by this incident in front of a worldwide audience." The goal definitely shouldn't have counted, but does everyone think that the credibility really suffered? After all, we've seen missed calls in every sport and very few seem to withstand the test of time except with the fans who were wronged.

Many sports fans just accept blown calls as part of the game and that karma will eventually even things out. It's a nice, easy, cut and dry way to deal with a situation. Unless, of course, your team is the one that got screwed. One thing is certain, Irish eyes as well as everyone else's in the soccer world will cast a skeptical view upon the French come tournament time next year. Don't expect a bailout.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Too Bad, So Sad, Bye Bye?

As Nebraska and Kansas State battle this weekend to figure out which Big 12 North team gets to be fed to Texas in the conference championship game, a program that was favored in the North continues to unravel.

The Kansas Jayhawks went from pre-season favorites in the North division to a 1-5 disaster in the conference. The hard feelings are starting to bleed over into the press as the Kansas fatty Mcbutterpants of a head coach, Mark Mangino, has been called out by former players for using billgingsgate, throwing around remarks in poor taste, and even physically abusing his players.

Former Kansas receiver Raymond Brown says that one time during a practice that followed an unrelated iincident where Brown's brother was shot and wounded in his home city of St. Louis, Mangino got upset with him. "I dropped a pass and [Mangino] was mad," Brown said. "And I said, 'Yes, sir. Yes, sir.' The yelling didn't bother me. But then he said, 'Shut up!' He said, 'If you don't shut up, I'm going to send you back to St. Louis so you can get shot with your homies.'

Brown was obviously a little shocked that his coach would throw out that type of comment.

Brown also tells the story of another former Jayhawk who confided in the team that his father was an alcoholic and the player dreamed of becoming a lawyer. "One day, [Mangino] said in front of the entire team, 'Are you going to be a lawyer or do you want to become an alcoholic like your dad?' "

Brown has been backed up by some other former players who agree that Mangino would take your personal business and use it against you. Sometimes he'd even grab you if he lost his temper.

Mangino maintains that these are false accusations by bitter players whose college career's didn't turn out the way they wanted.

But the accusations linger and now SportsbyBrooks.com is reporting that university reps are looking to buy out Mangino's contract at the end of the season. This is a coach that only two years ago resurrected a dead Kansas football program and won the Orange Bowl with them. That's one hell of a fall.

Even if Mangino gets to stay, opposing coaches will have field days with these accusations during recruiting season. It could be dark days ahead, again, for Kansas Jayhawks football. Hey, at least basketball season is starting.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Fantasy Football PantsCast November 17

The PantsCast is up for this week. In this episode Jason Dula and I will discuss:

-What the hell happened to the AFC West fantasy players?

-How fantasy football can ruin your game watching experience

-The rash of running back injuries in Week 10

-You even get to hear my girlfriend's television program mixed with my little puppy's squeaking toys in the background to show that is a completely professional podcast.

-Plus, fantasy grenades, torpedoes, and fires in a hole somewhere....

It's all here on the Fantasy PantsCast for the week.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Was It Worth It Lane?

Remember 9 months ago when Lane Kiffin called out Urban Meyer for cheating? To refresh your memory, Kiffin was recruiting a blue chip player on the Tennessee campus when said player got a call from Meyer down at Florida. For some reason, Kiffin thought that was cheating and he gleefully told a group of Vol boosters that the player had signed with Tennessee despite Meyers attempts to cheat.

That got Kiffin into trouble with the conference and he was forced to issue an apology for being a dumbass. Clearly unfazed by his mistake, Kiffin has perseverated his headline making ways through this season.

Maybe now he'll be speechless.

That player whom Kiffin was recruiting when Meyer called was Nu'Keese Richardson (no relation to Nu'Kar Richardson). Kiffin was so gleeful when he signed with the Vols, and now Kiffin gets to be the one to dismiss Richardson from the team because he attempted to commit armed robbery.

Thus ends the first saga of Lane and Urban: An attempt at armed robbery and a dismissal from the team.

Perhaps the next recruiting battle will be for aggravated assault.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Night The Genius Died

Go ahead a laugh. Wear that smug face all day long and make sure to send 25 emails to your friend who suddenly started wearing Patriots gear around the year 2000. Get it out of your system this week because that's what Bill Belichick is doing.

I received about ten texts last night the second after the Colts scored the game winning touchdown to beat the Patriots in the game of the year. Every single one of those texts were gleeful messages from friends who still couldn't believe coach Hoodie made a football move that blew up in his face. Belichick's decision to go for it on fourth down from his own 28 and the failure to convert it left the game open for the Colts to break the Pats' hearts. And Peyton Manning broke their hearts indeed.

Now most of us get to pour through the sports news to read something unflattering about the Patriots. We get to imagine those obnoxious Patriots fans who think New England should have won five Super Bowls this decade (apparently the Pats got hosed in playoff losses at Denver and Indianapolis, but the tuck rule call was totally legit) trying to come to grips with their team snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

Most of all, we get to sit back and day dream about the sour faced Belichick, the frowny coach who doesn't seem to have time for things like sportsmanship, post-game handshakes, or any of the hoi polloi sitting there scratching his head trying to figure out what went wrong. Even former Patriots like Rodney Harrison and Teddy Bruschi are piling on Belichick for that decision. Let's all take a second and imagine how this mistake and resulting loss will send the Patriots into a downward spiral that ruins their season...

Okay, now get over it.

Belichick will have to live with this loss, but he isn't one to dwell on things. The Patriots are now preparing for their next opponent and Tuesday will mark another practice. That's all.

And go ahead and expel that glimmer of hope you hold about the downward spiral of the Pats this season. In 1995, the Dallas Cowboys blew a 4th down run not once, but TWICE against Philadelphia. The Eagles ended up winning that game and the Cowboys lost twice more in the next few weeks. It crushed the team so badly that they ended up winning the Super Bowl. That Dallas team was more talented than this Patriots team, but the head coach was Barry f-ing Swtizer. You could have put a monkey on the sideline and gotten the same production.

Belichick is still a football genius who will devise wicked game plans that test teams. The Pats will still probably make the playoffs and will be a formidable opponent once there. They will still collect draft picks from the Raiders in exchange for older players on the downside of their careers and will use the draft picks to grab guys we've never heard of and those players will make the Pro-Bowl.

So enjoy your moment of Belichick questioning because he's going back to work and so are the Patriots.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Passing Fancy?

The Dallas Morning News had an article this morning about the growing effects that the passing game is having on the NFL.

Traditionally, the NFL has been dominated by run first teams. The Packers of the 60's, the Steelers of the 70's, and the Cowboys of the 90's have all had run first attacks. The reasons to run first were numerous: less chance for a turnover, offensive lineman can be more aggressive during a running play, the run can work even when the weather turns, and most teams can't wrap their quarterbacks in a carapace so injuries are bound to happen the more a team tries to throw.

Even earlier this decade, teams with a 300 yard passer in a game were winning less than half of the contests. But last year, a team with a 300 yard passer won 62% of games and so far this year, a team with a 300 yard passer is winning 73% of games.

Is this the wave of the future for the NFL? College teams have embraced the spread passing attacks with open arms. Maybe the NFL is following suit with the pro-style passing attack.

Or maybe this is just a hiccup in the running trend because guys like Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, and Tom Brady are throwing the ball. How many top flight running backs can you name? Backs like Tomlinson, Portis, and Westbrook are on the downside of thier carreers. Larry Johnson has already been cut. Even the Steelers have taken to passing more than running.

Of course, teams are going to pass. They have great passers and very few great runners. Soon the weather will turn nasty in many cities and you'll see the 300 yard passing days decrease. Whether you see the passing decrease after Manning and company leave remains to be seen, but the jury is still out on the high flying NFL of the present day.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Dance Of The Jilted

This weekend TCU will visit Utah in a college football game that involves last year's jilted girlfriend versus the flavor of the season this year who will probably be dumped once the bowl schedule comes out.

Last year Utah went 13-0 and smashed Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. That started the clamoring for justice in the bowl system. After all, Florida played Oklahoma for the championship and both teams had lost.

Of course, both teams played in much tougher conferences where week in and week out was a battle to the end.

One side of those arguing say that it's hard to go undefeated anywhere and what's the point of having a football program in a lesser conference if you won't get a chance for a national championship try.

The other side says that if you stuck Utah in the SEC or Big 12, that team would have maybe been .500 because it's much different playing one game against a good team as opposed five over a two month span.

Both sides agree that last year's Sugar Bowl outcome asseverates the need for some sort of tournament for college football. But you won't see that any time soon, so stop wasting your energy until there might be a chance.

Meanwhile, TCU is preparing for the same disappointment at the end of this season. When asked about the possiblity of going undefeated only to miss a chance at a championship, the undefeated (and ranked #5) Horned Frogs were mum on the subject. Coach Gary Patterson told the Dallas morning news that he isn't going to make a big deal out of it like Utah did last year because it won't do any good to complain.

Maybe. But if TCU gets by Utah this weekend, the Horned Frogs wheel might get just a little bit squeakier. It won't matter, the Horned Frogs won't play for the National Championship. College football just doesn't like the little man. If TCU wins it's bowl though, it could raise some thoughts among the college football elite that maybe a small school team might actually someday belong with the giants.

First though, TCU has to get passed last year's girlfriend. Chick fight.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Fantasy Football Pantscast November 10

This week's PantsCast is up and running. This week I welcome fantasy psycho Jason Dula to discuss. We cover:

-What to do about "sleepers" in your fantasy draft (yes, it's a bit late in week 9, but we put it out there)

-The continuing pinata treatment of Aaron Rodgers

-Plus, the weekly fantasy awards. Hint, I win the country music sob story of the week! Yippie!

-Stuff

So procrastinate for a while and listen to the November 10 Fantasy Football PantsCast todayish!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Now What?

So the Chefs threw away the leftovers of Larry Johnson. Coach Todd Haley decided that the team was better off with the fungible combo of Jamaal Charles and Kolby Smith. What a fall from grace for the former league leading rusher.

Johnson burst onto the scene in 2004 and fantasy football players can tell you he was one of best backs through the final five games of the season when he had several 100 yard games and scored a touchdown or two per week. In 2005 and 2006, Johnson blew up. He had over 2,000 yards from scrimmage both years and averaged about 20 touchdowns. Big stuff.

And then it stopped.

In 2007, Johnson had only 559 rushing yards as he missed half the season due to injury. This was actually predicted by many because Johnson had so many carries the year before. His body just broke down for the year.

The problem is that Johnson never has come back. He hasn't had a 1,000 yard season again and since 2007, he has fewer touchdowns COMBINED in two and a half years than he had in any one of his first three seasons. Johnson has also become increasingly difficult to handle off the field. He allegedly spit on a woman in a night club and has been generally ornery and difficult to get along with. These days he's taken to his problem to Twitter and got suspended for some off-color remarks that he posted.

Now he's gone from Kansas City and fans don't seem too upset. I guess Chiefs supporters don't like homophobic players who just seem angry at the world.

Is Johnson done? His numbers say so and he is about to turn 30 years old which is generally the point of diminishing returns for a runner.

But then you have to take into account the surroundings Johnson has played in. Kansas City has sucked like a vacuum cleaner for the past three seasons. Since the bye week of 2007, the Chiefs have two wins. TWO. That's a win per year.

The line collapsed, quarterback Trent Green concussed himself into oblivion, the defense is still being rebuilt, and there is no passing game to speak of. Plus, Johnson is a big bruising back that works best when he can slam into the line and wear a team down and then break off some big runs in the fourth quarter to salt the game away. That kind of back doesn't work so well when a team is down by a few touchdowns as the Chiefs always are.

So L.J. is now free to go anywhere. If he winds up in the right situations, he might just add some muscle to a running game as the playoffs approach. But who could he go to?

Logic tells us that Johnson wants nothing to do with a losing team anymore, so bottom dwellers can forget about him. He's too frustrated to be patient with a team that's building. He'd do more harm than good.

The Houston Texans could use some help in the running game, but that seems to be more of a line problem than a back problem. Still, the Texans might decide that Johnson is an upgrade to Chris Brown.

How about (gulp) the Patriots? That team has dead running backs everywhere and Coach Sweatshirt has a habit out of signing other teams' trash and turning them into treasure.

Maybe the Bengals will sign another problem back and hope they can strike gold again like they did with Cedric Benson.

Johnson is definitely a risk with his reputation for locker room disharmony, but malcontents have gone on to great things with a new team before. If L.J. goes to a team that has a chance to win and can block for him, you might see fireworks again. If you don't, well, I guess it's better to burn out than fade away.

Friday, November 6, 2009

This Week In News Of The Asshat

SportsPants is a well rounded fellow. Maybe not rounded, at least not a complete 90 degree angle. I occasionally feel the need to discuss things that happen outside of the sports world.

For instance, I like to discuss when the father of, say, Michael Jackson, decides that he deserves lots of money from his son's estate despite the fact that his son didn't leave him anything.

I think I know why Jackson left nothing for his dad. I recall reading about how Joe Jackson liked to play a little stickball with his kids....his kids being the ball. I don't know all the details, so I won't pretend to, but Michael Jackson was a little screwed up (understatement) and I'm guessing the events of his childhood may have had something to do with it.

A few days after Michael died, his dad was so broken up over the sudden death of his son, he went public....to plug his new record company during the felicitous moment when there are a bunch of news cameras around. It was a real heartfelt tear-jerker of a moment.

Now Jackson is up in arms because he's not getting rich off of his son's death. How rich?


Well, Joe Jackson says he needs a MONTHLY stipend that consists of:

-- $2,500 for eating out
-- $2,000 for air travel
-- $3,000 for hotel bills
-- $1,000 for groceries
-- $1,200 for rent
-- $50 in charitable contributions

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Tell Me Why!

You've heard the statement about how there are two sides to a story and the truth is usually in the middle. I'm sure that's true in every sport including the NFL.

Peyton Manning is probably not as pleasant is he comes across in his 305 commercials. Ray Lewis probably doesn't actually eat children like I guess he does.

Same thing goes for the owners though I'm convinced most of them are rich men looking for a buck or an ego boost. But many do charitable work and create foundations that we don't consider when we criticize them for some of their business decisions.

Some owners though just seem like really unlikable folks. Washington Redskins owner tops that list for me. Since he bought the team I've considered him one of the most despicable owners in all of sports. He very well could be number one if the old dehydrated Darth Vader didn't exist out in Raiderland.

Even former Redskins are warning us on Snyder. Former running back John Riggins said that Snyder is just a bad guy with a dark heart. I know Riggins is an outspoken guy, but those accusations are strong even for him.

Just when I assumed Snyder was as bad as a person can get, Redskins defensive coordinator Greg Blanche vehemently defended him. This wasn't the maundering of a company guy just trying to tow the line. This was someone who was offended by the perception of the Redskins owner.

Okay! I'm interested. I want to know what makes Blanche say that Snyder is one of the most generous people he's ever met. I really do. I might be completely missing something that Snyder has done.

The problem is that Blanche refused any further questions.

That's not cool, man. I really want to know what makes Snyder generous to someone. The Snyder I watch has dressed down coaches in front of others, demoted current coach Jim Zorn in favor of a guy who was calling Bingo numbers earlier this year, and let his starting quarterback twist in the end for the entire off-season. He has confiscated signs that paying fans brought to the game and there are reports of him threatening play by play guys from other teams for saying anything bad about him. I've seen first hand how miserable employees of his media stations are. I can't say that is definitely his fault, but office atmosphere often starts from the top down.

So what is so good about the guy? I actually want to know, but Blanche isn't talking. That only lessens the power of his words. Let me know and I'll take another look. If not, I'll just go with what I've seen.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Fantasy Football Pantscast November 4

We are Halfway through this here season!

The Fantasy Football PantsCast takes a look back at Week 8 and previews Week 9.

We won't pretend to be experts, just fans who enjoy the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat every Sunday as our fantasy football teams either rise up or fall apart at the seams. We'll talk about:

-How fantasy football can make you lose sleep
-The player my co-host Joe hates more than all others this year
-Our weekly grenade, torpedo, etc. awards.

Just two fans talking about....stuff. But it's good, really.

Time to procrastinate! Listen to the Fantasy Football PantsCast for this week.

Monday, November 2, 2009

What's The Big Deal?

I keep seeing all of these Facebook and Twitter updates from Yankees fans. They seem genuinely excited that their team is one game away from winning the World Series. I'm happy that these fans can be so enthusiastic about the win because I just keep asking myself "what's the big deal, aren't the Yankees SUPPOSED to win the World Series?"

Yes, I'm a Yankee hater, so you can save your breath. And why shouldn't I be? I mean, cheering for the Yankees is like cheering for Goldman Sachs: it's only a matter of time before they come out on top. I assume Rush Limbaugh loves the Yankees because the team represents his ideal greed-based free-spending super capitalist society.

I know Yankee fans are tired of hearing about the payroll. Money is the front topic of every conversation with a fan of another team, so let's get it out of the way: it's the biggest unfair advantage in pro sports. It's the doing of Major League Baseball and New York just takes advantage of it, but no one can come close to to the Yankees spending habits. I'm not just talking about $200 million payroll, it's the unspoken words behind the payroll. Everyone in baseball knows that in the truculent world of free-agency, New York will be able to outbid any competitor if they choose to.

Is the money all that matters? Of course not. The Mets and Cubs have both proven that spending lots of money doesn't mean success. The difference is that the Yanks can cover free-agency mistakes more easily. Remember Carl Pavano? Kei Igawa? Jason Giambi and his mustache? When these deals go sour, it's enough to derail some teams for years. The Yankees just reload and start shopping again.

Yankees management should be given some credit for this approach. They don't go hide under the bed when mistakes are made in free-agency. They keep searching. Fans know that if the team has a bad year, things will change.

Things did change and finally New York was able to buy the right men for the job. A.J. Burnett, C.C. Sabathia, and Mark Teixeira are all expensive, but great players. They have been solid in doing their jobs and haven't suffered major injuries. That coupled with A-Rod suddenly showing up in the post season have made the Bombers a formidable group. It's a group that boasts the top paid third baseman, shortstop, first baseman, starting pitcher, and releif pither in the game.

The shortstop and relief pitcher are home grown Yankees. That's nice. Yankees fans love to tell me how New York would be a great team even without the big spending. It's true that Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, and Jorge Posada among a few others form a decent core of players. Then all that you're missing is the entire middle of the batting order, most of the outfield, and the front part of the rotation. I think the work C.C. Sabathia has gotten in the World Series shows just how few pitchers the Yankees have faith in.

It's just part of baseball reality. The Yankees will land the top named free-agents 99.9% of the time and they will eventually win because of it. That's the way baseball is set up.

But don't be upset that people like me learn to hate the Yankees. We aren't brought up to root for the powerful greedy types. We're taught from an early age that that's bad. The Yankees aren't alone though. I won't cheer for Goldman Sachs either.