Mike Williams Cut, NCAA to Blame

July 31, 2008

Big Mike Williams

Mike Williams and his free-fall from collegiate stardom to NFL bust can be directly attributable to the NCAA and their back-stabbing ways (though maybe that awful black Lions jersey had something to do with it). Back in 2004 when Williams and Maurice Clarett tried to enter the NFL draft despite the rule against players not having completed three years of school following their high school graduation class. Williams and Clarett sued and won, left college, signed agents and waited for the NFL draft where they were both expected to be very high first round picks.

Instead, a stay was enforced in the case and Williams was not drafted. Without an immediate NFL future, Williams applied for reinstatement, citing the fact that he was simply following rules that were in place when the lawsuit was won. The NCAA reneged and refused his reentry into college.

So rather than being a top draft pick in 2004, Mike Williams had to work out on his own and prepare for the 2005 draft, where he was ultimately drafted 10th by the Lions. I think we all know how awful he’s been since and how much trouble he’s had weighing less than 270 pounds.

But I think the blame here falls on the NCAA. The guy only did what he did in 2004 because that’s what the rules said. He can’t help the fact that they changed back after the draft and he shouldn’t have been punished for it. Sure, you can argue he was an idiot, lazy and incompetent. And really, I won’t argue with that. But he got screwed, big time. I’m convinced that if he doesn’t have an entire year to waste as a 20-year old kid with nothing to do but practice on his own, he’s not out of the league as is now the case.

It’s just sad to see the NCAA completely ruin so many kids’ opportunities.


What the Trade Means

July 31, 2008

Bye Bye MannyOk, so I admit, I haven’t exactly been following the progress of the LA Dodgers this season. I do know that Joe Torre is their new manager and that Andruw Jones, their major signing from the offseason is hitting .167 and has been hurt on-and-off this year, and is definitely now relegated to the bench.

Manny will make a big difference in their lineup. He’s a hitting machine despite his eccentricities. In a pretty weak NL West, his bat alone should increase the Dodgers chances of winning the division. They’re only only one game back of Arizona and have won seven of their last ten. Even if it takes Manny a while to get used to National League pitching, the energy surrounding the move should be a major boost for LA.

Now, Boston. They’re going to get Jason Bay, a 30-year old .280 career hitter. He usually hits just under 30 homers and drives in just under 100 runs. Not bad, for sure, and he was always on Pittsburgh so he never had any lineup help around him. But those numbers don’t come close to matching Manny’s .310 average, upper 30s or more in homers and 110 RBI over his seven and change seasons in Boston. Obviously Boston had to get a player, not prospects, for Manny as they are themselves in the middle of a tight division race. Currently they’re three games back of Tampa and one game ahead of the Yankees in the AL East.

At this point I’d have to say that as Boston is slipping a bit and now loses its best hitter and the Yankees pick up Xavier Nady and Pudge Rodriguez (and lose Kyle Farnsworth), it’s a reasonable expectation that the Yanks will pass Boston for second place in the East. But I really don’t see either of them catching up with the Rays.

As for Pittsburgh, I really can’t say. I don’t know who the prospects are and really, let’s be honest, this is Pittsburgh we’re talking about.

So in the end it looks like the Dodgers, who have a bunch of good young players and no room for prospects at this point anyway, come out major winners. This has the chance to wipe away the major screw up in the Andruw Jones trade and put one of the game’s best bats into a weak division. The second place team out west will not make the playoffs, that’s going to the Cubs/Brewers Central runner up, so it’s vital for the Dodgers to win the division. And Boston gets rid of a major headache for a guy who will certainly be less interesting. That’s good for the front office but bad for the media, teammates and casual fans. Even if Bay ends up being quite good for Boston, there will be a funk about the team after losing such a fan and team favorite in Manny.


Manny, Shine

July 31, 2008

Manny Ramirez, traded to the Dodgers in a three-way with the Pirates. Boston will get Jason Bay and Pittsburgh will get four minor leaguers. Really interested to see how this all came about and what the hell happened to Florida.

I think this definitely changes the competitive balance in the NL West and possibly the AL East as well.

More to come…


Waiting Game

July 31, 2008

Old Guy WatchAs this day creeps toward 4:00 EST (I got up at 4am today) we’re now just in a wait-and-see situation with Manny Ramirez. I feel like I’ve been reading about this all day and that I’m going to be a senior citizen by the time it actually happens or not. I don’t know how the Red Sox can justify trading him as he’s really the key to them winning right now, but who knows, the Marlins (??!!) might just pop up and get him and immediately double their payroll.

Junior Griffey has sadly agreed to be traded to the White Sox. This is disheartening. It also eliminates my question about whether or not Manny would be the player with the most ever home runs to be traded. That now, I think, goes to Griffey, though that could be wrong.


A (Probably) Useless Plea to Ken Griffey Jr.

July 31, 2008

Griffey, Jr.Don’t accept the trade to the White Sox. Please, just don’t. I’ve got a few good reasons for you:

1. I hate the White Sox.
2. Even though the Reds aren’t your original team, it would be a shame to see you end your career wearing the gray and black of the South Side.
3. You might actually be older than Ozzie Guillen.

Ok, so maybe there aren’t that many good reasons. After all, you’ll still be getting paid like $20 million per. But for the sake of not adding you to the list of guys who played one season or so for completely random teams (Joe NamathRams, Reggie WhitePanthers, etc.) just close it out in Cincy. Anyway, you’ve already turned down one trade to the White Sox in your career. There must’ve been some reason then.


Spurs Cruise Past Leyton Orient

July 31, 2008

Gio dos SantosDarren Bent completed his second consecutive hat-trick, scoring three goals in the second half to power Tottenham past League One side Leyton Orient 5-1. Luka Modric scored his first Tottenham goal and again the pace of the game was ultimately dictated by young Giovani dos Santos. More good news as Spurs look to crack the Top Four and qualify for the Champions League this season.

Meanwhile, Spurs remain in talks with Andrei Arshavin, a move that would surely shake up the balance in the middle-through-top of the EPL table. Even if Arshavin does not play as well as he did in 2007/08 or Euro 2008, he’s bound to demand dedicated defensive response to his presence, only giving more latitude for Modric, Bent, Santos and Aaron Lennon.


Daily Dose of Better…

July 31, 2008

Better Charles: Barkley or Lorenzo?


Pudge a Yank

July 30, 2008

PudgeAmazingly, the Yankees traded Kyle Farnsworth today for Pudge Rodriguez. Pudge will fill the void left by Jorge Posada choosing to have season-ending shoulder surgery. Did anyone at all see this coming? I hadn’t heard one thing about Pudge or even that the Tigers might be sellers. I guess they think the AL Central is too far out of reach? They’re only 5.5 games back of the White Sox and 5 back from the Twins…

I don’t think that this really makes the Yankees that much better. Rodriguez is so old that when I was twelve and in Chicago with my grandparents I ran into Pudge and family at a McDonlad’s next door to the Nike store before a Rangers-ChiSox game. That was in 1995 and he was already an all-star. In the interest of full disclosure, I did request and receive his autograph.

He certainly does nothing to tarnish the image of the Yankees going after aging sluggers. He is hitting .295 to Posada’s .268 and has played in 82 games for the Tigers, so I guess he’s not completely dead. He’s just nowhere near as explosive as he once was. Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t see how this changes the balance of the AL East.


David Bentley Ready to Join Spurs

July 30, 2008

It seems pending a physical today, David Bentley will jump aboard with Tottenham tomorrow. After previously dismissing an offer from Spurs, Blackburn were wooed by a higher, renewed offer closer to the £18million Rovers were seeking. The young winger will be a valued addition to an increasingly different squad from the 2007/08 version of Spurs.

Tottenham fans will also be happy to see that Jermaine Jenas and Michael Dawson have each signed extensions to stay at White Hart Lane through 2013.


Ben Gordon, Weighing his Options (and Exchange Rates)

July 30, 2008

Dollars and EurosBen Gordon freely admitted recently that he’s interested in playing in Europe because of the strength of the Euro as compared to the dollar right now. Gordon has not reached an agreement with the Bulls yet, and is a restricted free agent having turned down a $50 million extension offer before last season. While Gordon isn’t a superstar player, he did win an NCAA title with UCONN in 2004 and was the third overall pick by the Bulls that year. He’s led the team in scoring each of the last three years and would be by far the most important player to move to the Continent.

Chances are he’s using this as leverage, as Saša Vujačić just did with the Lakers, but it still is an interesting idea. Eventually a major player is going to make the jump to Europe and it’s really going to become mainstream news.


Canaries Crushed by Bent

July 30, 2008

Darren BentIn a warm-up game Monday in Norfolk, Norwich City fell victim to a resounding performance by Tottenham’s Darren Bent, 5-1. Scoring four goals, Bent single-handedly delivered victory for the new-look Spurs. The match featured the debut of Luka Modric and also a strong performance by youngster Gio dos Santos. dos Santos had several shots on goal, one of which allowed Bent to score on rebound, and used a dizzying display of speed and footwork to give the Canaries fits all night. Though Norwich City are in the Championship, they are only two years removed from the Premiership and were playing on their home pitch, all good signs for the early development of Spurs. Next up in the preseason is Leyton Orient tonight in East London.


But Can They Get Out of the First Round?

July 30, 2008

Ron Artest Fever

Yesterday the Rockets acquired Ron Artest from the Kings essentially for Bobby Jackson and a first round draft pick. Houston will also get Patrick Ewing, Jr. and Sean Singletary (Go Hoos) but that’s just to make the money line up. But does this deal actually make any sense for Houston?

Artest is clearly a gifted player who, if in the right circumstances, can be a really positive force on the court. He’ll probably average in the area of fifteen points and six rebounds and a few assists as well. He’s a ferocious defender and at 6’7″ 248 he can body up smaller players or hang with bigger forwards. He’s also completely crazy.

Losing Bobby Jackson won’t really hurt that much, he only averaged about eight points and two rebounds last year and was only on Houston for twenty-five games. The first round pick is a little risky, but if they’re planning on being good, the pick won’t be that great and now, really, where do they have room for a new, young player? McGrady, Yao, Artest, Battier, Luther Head, Rafer Alston all will be playing most of the minutes and Brent Barry will throw in a few threes now and then. Sacramento is a disaster so getting a first round pick makes sense, plus Bobby Jackson can be pretty good, especially on a bad team. Plus he’s familiar with Sacramento.

But will they make it out of the first round of the Western playoffs? I think the answer is still probably no. Does Artest make Houston better than the Lakers, Jazz, Hornets, or Spurs? Nope, so no home court advantage there. I’m not sure they’re going to be better than Portland either and will probably be fighting with the Suns, Mavs, Warriors and Clippers for the bottom rung of the playoff picture. If it weren’t for that ridiculous winning streak last year, largely without Yao, Houston wouldn’t have made the playoffs at all.

I can’t blame Houston for trying on this one. They’ve got to make some change to get them over the hump, sort of like Minnesota a few years ago when they added Latrell Sprewell and Sam Cassell to take the T-Wolves to the Western Finals. But I just don’t know that this is it. Artest is just as likely to get suspended as he is to play well. He was able to have a good year and good behavior last year because he was in Sacramento and they were horrible. Now that he’ll be back in the spotlight, will he just lose it again?


Daily Dose of Better…

July 30, 2008

Better Ron: Artest or Guidry?


Teixeira Follows Earthquake to LAA

July 29, 2008

Angels

Complements of Aje.com, we see that Mark Teixeira has been traded again, this time to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim of Orange County of California, where a 5.4 earthquake hit today. Having been rumored to be on the block for several days now, and assumed for quite a bit longer, this comes as no surprise. Though I’ve got to say I didn’t really expect the Angels to be big players before the trade deadline. They already hold the best record in baseball and already hold one of the best power hitters in the league in Vlad Guerrero. But they make the deal and have to be considered a legit contender for the AL crown.

Both Boston and Tampa have shown serious cracks on the road and who knows, Manny Ramirez might get traded to the Mets before the week is done. The leaders of the Central are the White Sox and Twins, both of whom are good stories since they weren’t supposed to be that great (especially the Twinkies after losing Torii Hunter and Johan Santana), but are not actually challengers I don’t think.

The Braves have probably filled their quota with this big trade and we can probably expect Trey to come back down from the ledge of a really tall building since Jeff Francoeur doesn’t appear to be on the block anymore. They do need to get some younger pitching, and since they got Stephen Marek, who I understand to be at least a decent prospect, they’ve helped in that regard. Sitting seven games under .500 at this point, below even the Marlins, Atlanta has no hope this year and can go ahead and start planning for 2009. So, I guess I applaud the trade since they get something for Tex, instead of nothing. Though it did cost them five prospects last year to get him, so maybe it ends up being a bigger loss than win. They didn’t make the playoffs in 2007 and essentially they traded five prospects for Casey Kotchman and a AA pitcher.

Prizz, Trey: thoughts?


Week 1 Results

July 29, 2008

Well we’re a week into our new digs and I’ve got to say the view is pretty nice. Couldn’t be happier with WordPress and with our increased readership. Not that it’s anything to write home about, but having almost forty page views today beats the alternative in our previous location by probably tenfold. So, thanks for reading and commenting. And we promise that more interesting, thought-provoking and incorrect information will continue to stream from this page. Hopefully we’ll get some polls and other interesting media involved in the coming weeks. Once I finish with all this newspaper stuff I’m doing, that is…