Friday, June 28, 2002

The world's worst soccer team will be crowned Sunday. Interesting article on USAToday.com. Makes me proud to know that my college's soccer team might be able to actually beat a FIFA-ranked team.
As you have probably heard, the Cleveland Indians traded Bartolo Colon to the Expos for 3 prospects and Lee Stevens. This is, of course, a great move for both teams. The Expos are faced with a situation not unlike that of the Cleveland Indians in the movie "Major League." Both teams faced a all or nothing situation. In the Expos case, they will be moving, or possibly contracted next year. They have no incentive to play for the future, only for this year. In "Major League", the Indians had to get fan interest up in order to avoid being moved to, God forbid, Florida. They accomplished this by making an unexpected push for the playoffs. Besides being a great movie, it serves as a precursor for a real situation. Whoda thunk?

Anyway, back to the trade. The Expos automatically get better. While they may have damaged their chances for future success by trading away three good prospects, who cares? Win or else. The Indians were in a situation where they had to do something to improve for the future. The biggest commodity is an ace of a pitching staff, and they just happened to have one. A hurting one, to boot. The Indians also came out ahead in this deal. The acquisition of Lee Stevens seems to be a precursor for a Jim Thome trade. If the Indians can bring in some more prospects for Thome and maybe Burks and middle relievers, they might be set up for the future quite well. We could see a revival of the early 90's building Indians if they are smart enough.

Thursday, June 27, 2002

As promised, I did a little research to find which teams draft the best and the worst. As you will find from the following table, some teams do well with their top picks (i.e. Orlando), while others just seem to blow pick after pick (i.e. Houston). I hope this table gives you some insight into the NBA draft that you may not have known before. Note: The "Good" and "Best Player" columns are subjective, but I think I have done a good job to weed out the bad players and pick the best from each team. If you don't agree with me, email me back.

TeamPicksGoodBest PlayerSpot Picked
Atlanta286Jason Terry10
Boston176Paul Pierce10
Charlotte188Kobe Bryant13
Chicago275Elton Brand1
Cleveland197Andre Miller8
Dallas288Jason Kidd2
Denver259Dikembe Mutombo4
Detroit188Grant Hill3
Golden State287Vince Carter5
Houston268Cuttino Mobley41
Indiana208Antonio Davis45
LA Clippers237Antonio McDyess2
LA Lakers189Nick Van Exel37
Miami205Steve Smith5
Milwaukee2512Dirk Nowitzki9
Minnesota249Kevin Garnett5
New Jersey177Derrick Coleman1
New York155Charlie Ward26
Orlando2310Shaquille O'Neal1
Philadelphia237Allen Iverson1
Phoenix267Shawn Marion9
Portland174Jermaine O'Neal17
Sacremento298Predrag Stojakovic14
San Antonio153Tim Duncan1
Seattle268Gary Payton2
Toronto106Tracy McGrady9
Utah194Andrei Kirilenko24
Vancouver136Steve Francis2
Washington208Rasheed Wallace4
ESPN.com has a NBA draft grade website up right now, and it has some commentary that I think is very interesting. First, I find it hilarious that every mention of the Washington Wizards must include a mention of Michael Jordan. It's as if there is no Wizards without Jordan. Yes, I understand he was the best player over the last 20 or 30 years, but I don't think that he will succeed in the GM position. He is too focused and driven in the role of team savior and leader to ever succeed in this role. He has to look past himself to find talent in other players, which I think will be impossible for him to do. He will always be thinking, "I am better than that guy. I am better than him, too. Why can't players be like me?" When you see a bunch of guys worse than you, what's the distungishing factor that seperates the good from the bad? I don't think he sees it. By the way, I say he is the best from the last 20 or 30 years because there is no way he was better than Wilt Chamberlain. No way.

The other thing I found funny is that these teams were given grades, sometimes for only one pick. One team, the New Orleans Hornets, which I hope they change the name to something like the New Orleans Shrimpeaters or something, had NO picks. How can you grade a team that did not make a selection? On the teams that had only one selection, it is do or die for that one person in terms of how this draft is viewed by the fans. Possibly later on today, I might have a team-by-team draft review over the last 10 years to see who picks well and who sucks.
Adrian Wojnarowski has a good article over on ESPN.com basically praising college football for elimanting margin of victory from its rankings, but he still manages to say that this will probably do little in terms of making games less lopsided. There will still be Nebraska vs. Nebraska A & M Technical Community College games, where it is almost impossible to not run up the score. Throw the ball, touchdown. Run the ball, touchdown. Take a knee, somehow still a touchdown. I think this problem calls for a more thoughtful solution.

I know the NCAA is, for some unknown mystery to me, forsaking a playoff format. So, the rankings will have to do. But, if they want true national champions, they should make Division-I football into a tier system. I propose having three tiers. The lowest Tier, call it Tier-C, will be compromised of the 50 Division-I teams with the lowest winning percentage of all the current Division-I teams from the last 10 years. This group would also include the incoming Division-I teams, or teams that have not been in Division-I for 10 years.

The middle tier, Call it Tier-B, would be filled with the next 75 Division-I football teams according to winning percentage over the last 10 years. Now, I know some of the better teams might fall into this division, but that can't be helped. It would give them incentive to win. Last, the top tier, Tier-A, would have the best Division-I teams from the last 10 years.

Everything else works similiar, except the conferences would be slightly realigned every year, depending on what teams ended up in the different tiers. Every team would have to declare no more than 2 natural rivals that they would be able to play every year, regardless of which tier each team was in. Another open game could be used at the discretion of a team to play any team, as long as that team was in no worse than one tier below it. For example, Florida State could not choose to play Duke, because FSU would be in Tier-A, while Duke would be in Tier-C. All the rest of the games would have to be made up from teams in the same tier.

At the end of the year, you would have three tier champions, and three runners-up. The Tier-C champs and runners-up would then be able to move up to Tier-B, replacing the two worst Tier-B teams. Likewise, the two Tier-B teams would move up to Tier-A, replacing the two worst Tier-A teams. You would then seed the top two teams from Tier-A and Tier-B them like this: Tier-A champ is one, followed by Tier-B champ, then Tier-A runner-up, then finally Tier-B runner up. They would then play in mid-December, which could be the first set of "Bowl Games." There could be other Bowl games from the teams that did not qualify, but these are reduced in stature. Finally, one New Years Day, the third place game would be held, and on January 3rd, the championship game would be held.

I don't think this system is asking too much. You would eliminate a lot of mismatches. The action would be great, and maybe a true champion would be determined.

Wednesday, June 26, 2002

Pete Sampras lost again, this time in the second round at Wimbledon. I've thought he should retire for about a year and a half now. I don't understand the drive that compels him to continue to play. He is obviously off of his game, yet he continues to go out there and lose to inferior opponents. I hope this will show him he needs to hang it up and retire before he embarrasses himself too badly. I don't want my memories of this great tennis player to be that of an over-the-hill player playing way past his prime. But, maybe I am just selfish.
Much has been said already about the dustup between Barry Bonds and Jeff Kent last night in the Giants dugout, so I really can't add much to it except for my opinion. All I can say is that this just makes Bonds look worse in the eye of the public. I tend to not believe what the media says about a guy, whether he is nice or not. I don't really care how he treats his teammates, as long as he can do his job. And, Bonds does his job. He does it so well, in fact, that he had the best offensive season in history last year. If he does not get along with Jeff Kent or another Giant, so be it. Bonds did not have to re-sign with the Giants this offseason. He chose to, implying that he figured he liked it well enough to come back for a few more years and a run at Hank Aaron's record. Kent himself said, ''Add this to the half-dozen times we've done it before.'' Now, maybe this sort of stuff happens all of the time in Major League clubhouses. Maybe there are even teammates that physically hate each other. It will be interesting to see if this motivates Bonds and Kent or if it causes a distraction, something to focus on rather than the game. Let's keep a close eye on the Giants for the next few days.
Last night's Detroit Tigers - Kansas City Royals game marked the first time in MLB history that two managers from the Dominican Republic faced each other. To commemorate the occasion, the President of the Dominican Republic was there, as well as Bud "I am not a crook" Selig. It's great to see this occasion, but it has too long in coming. There is a good percentage of dominican-born players in the big leauges already, and to just now have two managers face each other does not show very well on baseball. A side not: Both of the managers in this game stepped in this year after the manager was fired at the beginning of the year. So, thanks to the incompetence of two white managers, two dominican managers had a chance to square off.

Now that I think about it, though, baseball has done a good job in recent years in terms of hiring minority coaches. While it may not be up to a level some people would call acceptable, and it may never be, no matter what, for a few others, baseball has done a much better job than other sports in terms of minority coaches as a percentage of minority players. Check out the following:

League% Minority Players*% Minority Managers% Difference
MLB39372
NHL303
NBA795029
NFL651946

* - Player Percentage Taken From Random Team

While the NHL might be close, that is basically due to the lack of minorities playing in the league. While the NFL and NBA have much higher percentages of minority players, the percentage of minority coaches is not much higher, or possibly even lower. This is a testament to Selig actually succeding at something he set out to do, unlike contraction or a salary cap or etc.

Tuesday, June 25, 2002

The NBA draft is almost here. Can't you feel the excitement? Me neither. The Sports Guy has a funny piece on the last few drafts, although some of his choices are somewhat dubious (for instance, number 23 is unfunny to the point where I have to wonder 'am I missing something?'). With Yao Ming likely going first, the best player in the draft should fall to Chicago at number 2. I guarantee Jason "Call me Jay if you want, I don't care cause I'm getting PAID" Williams will be the best player in this draft, hands down. Sure, it's not every day that you find a 7' 6" center that can shoot the three, but it's also not every day that you find a frachise point guard. No, not just a franchise point guard. A Hall-Of-Fame point guard. No, not even that. Possibly one of the top three point guards of ALL TIME. All time, hear you. Now, I am not one to throw things like this around lightly. But, I do believe that J. Williams is going to be that good, as long as he stays out of trouble. You heard, er, read it here first.
College Football has gotten rid of margin of victory from their rankings. On one level, I think this is a good move. Maybe it will show some of the SEC schools and Nebraska that they don't have to run up the score and throw the ball when they are up by 40 in the fourth quarter. A little gamemenship never hurt anyone. On the other hand, the Bad, Crappy System is losing some very good computer rankings from their formula. These guys put a lot into making these formulas. It is not like they just woke up and stated tinkering around with a formula to try and get an Army - Navy game every year. These are legitimate formulas used to compute the rankings. If the use margin of victory, so be it. I guess I will just move on and wait for the Playoff system that should be here by 2005.
An interesting note for a sad franchise: The Devil Rays made 10 roster moves today. While 10 moves may not seem like a lot to the american football fans out there, 10 in one day in baseball is a huge amount. The Rays managed to call up Toby Hall, a young catcher that looked like he had a bright future until this year, and they put Greg Vaughn on the DL, among other moves. This puts a big damper on the annual attempts by the Rays to trade Vaughn. I just don't see a taker out there. Sure, Vaughn can mash now and again, but he is not an offense addition, rather a large subtraction. Add that to his enormous contract and you have one untradeable player, someone like the Colorado Rockies' Mike Hampton.

Speaking of the Rockies and large contracts, there is a rumor that the Detroit Tigers and Rockies are trying to work out a Denny Neagle and Jose Ortiz for Damion Easley and Shane Halter. Now, maybe I am missing something, but I don't see how this trade hurts the Tigers. Neagle could have a huge turnaround in spacious Comerica Park, while Ortiz is still young and has a future. Halter has already been relegated to the bench, a role he is good at, and Easley is quickly losing his job to Damien Jackson. Word has it that the Rockies have cooled on the deal due to Easley's lack of hitting this year, but look for this deal to heat up if Easley hits AT ALL.
One last post for a while. With Domink Hasek's retirement coming on the heels of Scotty Bowman calling it quits, some people may wonder about the state of the Red Wings. I heard rumors out of New York saying that Chelios has broken off talks with the Wings and is seriously looking into the Rangers. If this is true, coupled with Hasek's retirement, the Wings shoudl have about $13-15 million in payroll free for next year.

Now, I'm not a NHL genius, but it seems to me you could do a lot with $13-15 million. For instance, just for the sake of arguement, let's say the Wings sign headcase Eddie Belfour to a two year contract worth somewhere around $12 million. This leaves about $7-9 million freed up to sign another free agent. Hmmm, $7-9 million. Sounds like Bill Guerin salary. Wow, the Wings turn Hasek and Chelios into Belfour, a Cup winner before, and Guerin, a good, gritty scorer. As if the forward lines of Detroit weren't already deep enough, you throw Guerin into the mix.

If you also add in the rumor that the Wings might try and accomodate Luc Robitaille and trade him to a west coast team, possibly for a defenseman that would add something to the Wings, you would have an upgraded team for about the same money. Wings fans, worry not.
As I write this, the Cubs and Reds game has just kicked off. The thing I love about baseball is the dependibility of it. You know it will be there tomorrow and the next day, barring a strike. But, the thing I also hate about baseball is the lack of day games. Mind you, I am not some oldtimer wishing games were played in the daytime at the Polo Grounds without the DH or anything, but I like to have something to keep me occupied at work during dull stretches. If baseball can't provide that for me, what can it do?

Speaking of the Reds, it's a shame that Ken Griffey, Jr got hurt again. About 7 years ago, Griffey was my favorite player and the Most Exciting Player in the game. Now, he has been reduced to an insignificant part of a winning team. I've heard rumors his hammy will never be the same again, and that's a shame. This man could have been the greatest baseball player in the last half century if not for all the injuries. He still has a chance to be second banana, behind Bonds, if he can get and stay healthy. No one would have said that 7 years ago.
Wow. That's all I can start with. I am relatively new to the blogging world, having discovered it only a couple months ago, but I think I make up for my lack of experience in abdundant enthusiasm. The first blog I ever stumbled upon was Maxpower, a very good running commentary on news and law. I was hooked upon first sight. I then visited all of the mandatory blogs, getting more from the news than I ever have before. What finally convinced me to make my own blog was reading the superb work by James Lileks. There was just something about it that motivated me into writing.

Now, here I am, my first post on a sports website and I have yet to even mention sports. Don't worry, there will be much to come. I plan on posting whenever something strikes me as worthy. Also, I will be on the lookout for any contributions to this blog. I am engaged and in college, so I spend almost all of my weekends away from my computer. If I find someone worthy to pick up the weekend slack, and possibly add to what I do during the week, I will jump at it. Otherwise, I hope you enjoy the show.