Monday, July 16, 2007

Mark Teixeira- Jerk? Part 2 and who is the real blame for the Rangers problems?

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post on Mark Teixiera being a big whiner because he was unhappy with Ron Washington after being one of the main players complaining about Buck Showalter. Well, just after getting off the disabled list, Teixiera is at it again. He basically said that he wants to play for a winner, with five years of non-contending is weighing on him.

Of course, this brought out the old school baseball writers complaining about Teixeira's complaints. Jean Jacques Taylor called him a chronic complainer. Gil Lebreton said it was contemptible.

Let me give a few disclaimers. Teixeira is not ever gonna be my favorite player. He comes across as a guy who is getting ready for his next big payday when he gets to decide where he goes. His being a toady to Scott Boras bully doesn't make things any easier. He just doesn't seem like one of those guys who will tell Boras what to do rather than the other way around. He's a mercenary. If he signs with the Orioles after next year, we'll all know that his "I want to play for a winner" is a bunch of garbage.

However, Mark is not the problem. I honestly don't think I can blame him that much for his complaints. Why because I agree with him. The Rangers have acted like a small market team for too many years. The real problem with this team is Tom Hicks. In 2001, he decided to play with the big boys and signed A-Rod. Seduced into wanting the "win now" he signed and traded for a bunch of spares that turned "win now" into "win never"- Andres Gallaraga, Ken Caminiti, Todd Van Poppel, Randy Velarde, etc. Then he put a ridiculous amount of money on who was possibily the worst free agent ever, Chan Ho Park. After these stupid signings that made Hicks synonmous with idiot owners like Peter Angelos and brought the Rangers three straight last place finishes, he decided that he's had enough, trades A-Rod and gives the Yankees $9 million a year for him to hit homeruns at Yankee stadium. The problem with this team is Tom Hicks.

I want to root for winner. I am trying to believe that the future is bright, but trading Mark Tiexiera is a step backwards. At the same time, if he's leaving and I think he is, you gotta get the best deal you can. Good luck, Mark in Atlanta or New York or Boston or where ever you end up.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Tinkering with the All-Star Game

The MLB All-Star Game has taken a beating the past few years, beginning with the infamous Tie Game. Bud Selig's solution to that problem was to give 'meaning' to the game by putting home field advantage for the World Series up for grabs.

First of all, Bud made a bad call the night of the Tie Game—it should have been played until there was a winner. Not enough pitchers? Tough rocks, you shouldn't have burned them up an inning at a time during the first nine. Besides, if your last pitcher is a little gassed, he'll likely give up the game winner soon enough. I think the game would have ended legitimately soon enough anyway. In the aftermath, Bud could have implemented an All-Star rule allowing for pitchers to be reinserted in the case of extra innings.

Instead, he put home field for the World Series on the line, which was Mistake Number Two. This is absolute nonsense. One event has nothing to do with the other, and does anyone really think that this artificial 'relevance' make a bit of difference in how players play? I doubt Michael Young was thinking about giving HFA to Detroit, Boston or New York when he hit the game winning RBI last year, and I know he wasn't thinking about earning HFA for the Rangers.

If this doesn't work, then how do we bring meaning to the ASG? Allow me refer you to Australia's National Rugby League, and their version of the All-Star Game, State of Origin. This three game series, spread out over the NRL season, pits a team from New South Wales against a Queensland team. Trust me, the players care when they are representing their home state.

Can we take this idea to MLB? Unfortunately, I don't think so. State or Origin works because it is state v state, and that doesn't work with fifty states, plus all the international players. North v South? East v West? No one really identifies with those labels. How about US v World? I wasn't a big fan of this when the NHL did it—seemed a little xenophobic to me. So the matchup that leaves us with is NL v AL. This used to be a matchup that did bring out the competitive nature of the players, but free agency and interleague play have killed that.

Many have suggested paying the winning team, but I don't think this will work. The players, particularly these All-Stars, make enough money. I just don't think that does it here. I'm not opposed to cutting a check to the winner of the Home Run Derby, but I don't think that will improve the competitiveness of the ASG.

If home field advantage failed and if I'm right about money failing, how do we make it competitive? I suggest we go the other way with it and not worry about it being competitive. Just make it fun. More backward helmet switch hitting on the fly, a la Larry Walker 1997. More on the field antics. Mike the players and let them talk. Who wouldn't want to listen to a catcher call a game or the dialogue between a pitcher and hitter with two outs and runners on late in the game?

In addition I love Kevin of All on the Field's idea of making it a three game series. Baseball is a series game, so why not the ASG? This would also fix the way manager's handle pitching staffs. If rugby league can play three games in the midst of their regular season, surely MLB can pull off three games during the All-Star break. When I become baseball's next commissioner, Kevin, you can be my assistant.

And we won't let it end in a tie again.

Monday, July 9, 2007

The definition of insanity

One definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result. By this definition the Dallas Mavericks are insane.

When we last saw the little Mavericks, the completing a waste of a 67 win season being run out of the gym by the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors got to every loose ball and rebound, ran the Mavs ragged with their dribble penetration, and hit every single shoot they threw up there, while the Mavs looked old and slow. But the Warriors juggernaut lasted one round and they were booted out by the Utah Jazz. So the Mavs lost to the team that lost to the team that won the Championship. A complete and total waste of a season.

Unfortunately, it looks like we are going to get the exact same team next year. First, in the draft, the Mavs who admittedly had little to work with in only #34, #50, and #60 picks in the draft, picked another slow white guy. They have been trying to get this exact player for decades! Change regimes and leadership and they pick slow white guys. Nick Fazekas carries on the long and glorious tradition of Uwe Blab, Bill Winnington, Cherokee Parks, Loren Meyer, Shawn Bradley, and Keith Van Horn. Every thing I've read about him is that he is slow. Chad Ford of ESPN said he's Dirk without the ATHLETICISM. Oh, he'll fit right in on the matador defense of this team.

After flirting with possibly trading for Kevin Garnett (a pipe dream that I'll get to in a minute), do they make big splash in the free agent market? No, they resign Jerry Stackhouse and Devean George. I don't mind the Stackhouse move so much as he seems to bring something that they lack, but to just bring back the exact same team from last year is not a good start.

Finally, I'm really tired of the Mavs getting caught in pipe dreams while seeming to leave realistic thoughts aside. This year it's Kevin Garnett. But are they gonna trade Devin Harris and Josh Howard for him? No and they probably shouldn't. Are the T-wolves gonna take Jason Terry, et al. for him? No and they shouldn't. It's foolish to focus on that expecting Kevin McCale to go back to being an idiot. If it happens fine, but don't leave other possibilities on the table. A couple of years ago they put all the eggs in the Rashard Lewis basket even though they couldn't more than the mid level exception while the Sonics could give him a great deal more money. Predictably, he took the Sonics offer.

If this is the team the Mavs go to war with next year, you're hoping for improvements from Harris, DaSagana Diop, and Maurice Ager. At this point, I think the team is behind San Antonio, Phoenix and maybe Utah. And with Seattle getting Durant and Portland getting Oden, the window is closing for this team. And the sad part about it is that it won't matter what they do during the regular season. The Mavs season doesn't start until April. Hopefully, they'll be ready.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Chris's Hall of Fame Nominees

PJ and Rus have already presented their nominees. Here are mine to complete the list.

Historical player: Roger Staubach (quarterback, Dallas Cowboys 1969-1979) In a word? Winner. Roger was the Cowboys starter for nine seasons, played in six NFC Championships, won four, and won two Super Bowls. Awards include a Heisman, six Pro Bowls and a Super Bowl MVP. The NFL achievements all followed four years of active service in the Navy, including time in Vietnam. He retired with a 83.4 passing rating, highest career average at the time. That day also marked the saddest day of my childhood.

Roger, along with Don Meredith and Troy Aikman, spoiled Cowboys fans, who have only recently learned how difficult it can be to find a franchise quarterback. Over the combined thirty years this trio played the game, the Cowboys fielded a Pro Bowl caliber QB, while other teams are still searching for their first.

And, boy, could he run.

Current player: Vince Young (quarterback, University of Texas 2002-2005, Tennessee Titans 2006-present) Going in to the 2006 Rose Bowl, all the talk was USC. Leinart was considered the best QB in the country, Reggie Bush has just been awarded the Heisman and USC was assumed to be the greatest team of all time. Then Vince took the field.

Football is a team game. More than any other sport, it requires each player to do their job for the team to succeed. But that night, Vince put on the greatest individual performance college football has ever seen, and beat the 'greatest team of all time'.

Then for some reason, everyone doubted him going into the NFL Draft. You'd think they would have learned. The Titans clearly did, drafting him and naming him a starter during his rookie season. The Titans started 0-5 (Kerry Collins started the first three games), but went 8-3 to end the season, missing the playoffs in a last week loss to New England. Eleven playoff bound defensive coordinators breathed a sigh of relief. Vince was not only named Rookie of the Year, but was also named to the Pro Bowl, no small feat in the AFC.

Don't expect anyone to doubt him a third time.

Favorite player: George Teague (safety, Green Bay Packers 1993-1995, Dallas Cowboys 1996, 1998-2001, Miami Dolphins 1997) By most standards, Teague had a perfectly average career in the NFL. But there was nothing average about his heart.

The day was September 4, 2000, and the once proud Cowboys were being embarrassed by the San Francisco 49ers. Terrell Owens scored a touchdown, ran to midfield and danced on the star. Emmitt Smith did the same later, staring down the 49er sideline, but the rest of the team was defeated. When Owens ran to the star to repeat the stunt on his second touchdown, Teague raced after him, leveling him at midfield. The hit earned him an ejection. As a Cowboy fan, I have never been prouder. Seven years later, I hope T.O. still feels that hit.

Putting it simply, Teague did the one thing that fans demand from athletes, but too often don't see: he cared.

I didn't set out to go all football. But PJ covered hockey, Rus took care of baseball (and saved me a Nolan Ryan nomination), so three football nominees it is.

But where's the basketball love? So I bent the rules a little, and am inducting a fourth player, without the express written consent of my co-110 Percenters. This brings our inaugural class to an even ten. Which is fitting, because 'ten' describes his game perfectly.

Tim Duncan (Forward-Center, San Antonio 1997-present) In a league infamous, fairly or not, for thuggery, Duncan is as clean as they come. I'll go ahead and guarantee that you will never see his name in a police blotter, and in today's world, that's saying something. But don't think for a second that the soft spoken Duncan is soft on the court.

I hate the San Antonio Spurs. But I certainly respect them, and that starts at the top, with Pop and Duncan. Duncan is the Spurs. Every adjective used to describe him also describes the Spurs. Some say boring, but I prefer fundamental, efficient, selfless, tough, flexible, relentless, you name it. Just don't forget winner: Duncan and the Spurs have four titles, and counting.