Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Fast News Day For Most Teams

What kind of news day was it yesterday? The only major league sports team to see action in Philadelphia, the Sixers, was relegated to page 3 of the Inquirer.

The first two pages were taken up with suspensions (Phillies), dismissals and rumblings about firings (Eagles) and an absence of any progress (Flyers).

Now to the news....

Carlos Ruiz, starting catcher and heart of the team, was suspended for the first 25 games of 2013 for failing a drug test.  The drug in question was Adderal, a stimulant banned by MLB.  If all available information is correct we know the following:

Adderal is frequently prescribed for people with ADD, or attention deficit disorder.  According to the collective bargaining agreement, MBL, players using the medicine may apply for an exemption to continue taking it, presumably if they have been diagnosed with or previously treated for ADD.  Now, I'm not a doctor (nor do I play one on the internet), but I would hazard a guess most MLB teams do not want starting catchers taking a drug for attention deficit disorder.  It just doesn't fit the job description.

But wait, there's more!

If a player fails a test because of the presence of stimulants, he is given another chance to pass a test.  Only after failing TWO tests is he suspended, and then for 25 games, not the 50 game suspension reserved for steroid users.

So, if we do have the facts correct (always a question), Carlos Ruiz did not apply for an exemption, failed a test and still continued to take the medicine.  Now we are into a gray area in which the question of "how could he be so stupid?" has to be raised.

If these facts are correct and I were a teammate of Ruiz, I'd be damned pissed off.  Erik Krantz is exempt.

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The same day Ruiz was suspended, Jason Babin was released by the Eagles.  Now, truth be told, the Eagles could just have easily released about ten other guys, so the decision to pick Babin seems somewhat arbitrary.  Coach Reid said his departure would give more playing time to younger guys, a dubious reason at best.  The mustachioed one also claimed the release would give Babin time to hook on with another team.  How magnanimous of a guy clinging for life himself!  Another reason might be financial (yes, I know, hard to believe money plays a role in these matters).  Babin is owed only the remainder of his salary for this season and not the two or three years remaining on the contract he signed a few years ago.  Seems it has something to do with his having already been granted some kind of severance pay at another time.  I'll bet the timing is crucial here, but no one is saying...or cares.

So, a guy who led the team in sacks a year before is unceremoniously dumped with five games remaining in the season.  Perhaps beat report Jeff Lane said it best:

The wide nine, in theory and even occasionally in execution, can be an effective way to stop an NFL offense. But Andy Reid's decision to base his entire defense on Jim Washburn's defensive line scheme and then expect an unqualified coordinator to run it with the wrong personnel was a failure of epic proportions.

And then on Tuesday, Mr. Wide Nine himself, defensive end Jason Babin, was unceremoniously released by Reid.

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The NHL and the NHL Players Union agreed to meet with an arbitrator to try and break the deadlock that has already cost at least a third of the season and seems likely to cost the entire one soon.  The catch in this announcement was the absence of the word "binding" in front of "arbitration".  What it means in practical terms is that two groups who despise each other are asking a third party to step in and try and move things toward a solution.  The bet here is that the arbitrator will have to be in one room and the waring parties in two separate ones.  Just the sight of each other will scuttle any progress.

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Oh, and the Sixers won.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Holiday Tides

The San Francisco Giants have won two of the three World Series with excellent pitching and nothing much more except luck.  Career years from has-beens and never-weres really made the difference.  Talk about mediocre teams winning it all.  A few months from now, let alone years, no one will recall more than two or three players on both teams.

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Change "Anyone seen Andre Bynum?" to "Anyone heard of Andrew Bynum?"  Right up there with the worst trades to say nothing of vetting by a Sixers team in history.  The alleged brain trust of the Sixers are already spinning this one as a salary cap gain, but in the meantime they will get nothing for the trade and cap hit this year and look like fools.

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I have a confession to make:  growing up, this nice little Jewish boy rooted hard for the Irish of Notre Dame.  It's been several decades since I rooted for their football team, but, then, I haven't really rooted for any football team unless, of course, rooting against teams from the South counts.

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The Phillies have been quiet thus far this off-season but I fully expect them to make a huge mistake and sign either B.J. Upton or Michael Bourn to big deals.  Neither is the answer to their problems in centerfield.

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Approximately two weeks from now the idiots who run the NHL will cancel another full season.

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Speaking of football, local teams had up and down seasons.  Temple entered the Big East a year too late.  Last season they were very competitive.  This season they were very inexperienced.  Meanwhile, Penn continues to play just well enough to lead the Ivy League.  When facing outside teams, the Quakers don't seem to have sufficient horses, but when the games count in the standings, these guys inevitably stand up!

Villanova rebounded from a terrible season in 2011, very uncharacteristic, and managed at least one post-season game before bowing out.

Philadelphia isn't really a great college football town, but a quick look at, say, the last ten years shows fans here could do a whole lot worse.

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And last but not least, it appears the Miami Marlins latest fire sale will go through without baseball's inept commissioner, Bud Selig, doing a damn thing about it.  The Marlins are no strangers to giving a collective finger to their fan base, all ten of them.  The Marlins already extorted a new stadium on threat of leaving town.  Then they cut their overhead dramatically, shedding any players who were making big money (thanks to ridiculous contracts approved by the same brain trust).   The rest of MLB should vote to move the franchise out of the state and strip the current ownership of operating authority. 

One can dream.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

For Sale: Slightly Used Set of Expensive Free Agents

The sick joke that is Miami baseball just sunk to new lows with the announcement yesterday of what most of the media is calling a "blockbuster trade" but which I prefer to label for what it is: the latest confirmation that Miami is the worst baseball town in major league baseball.

Even having won two rental World Series, here is a franchise that unloads players with anything above minimum salaries the way Bain Capital unloaded leveraged companies.

Thanks to years of abuse by different ownerships, the so-called fan base is nothing more than 19 visiting tourists, 200 ushers, 150 vendors, 8 season ticket holders and all the sea gulls who can find a landing spot every night. If you've ever watched a telecast from Miami, it looks more like a de Chirico painting than a baseball stadium.  Foul balls rattle around the empty seats for minutes until finally coming to rest unclaimed!

Of course MLB's alleged brain trust has the final say on this unloading to Toronto, but Bud Selig isn't going to invoke any "good for baseball" clauses to prevent this latest fiasco. He hasn't the cojones.

If I had more energy I'd look up how much the good people of Miami forked over for this new stadium, but I don't and, anyway, they pretty much deserve what they get for being such lousy fans in the first place.

There are plenty of cities that would love the chance to root for the home team.  Miami has never been one of them.  We knew that before the lime green stadium opened and we know it will remain a place where foul balls go to die.  Baseball, the game?  It died years ago there.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Spreading Our Wings

Hey, I thought this was a baseball blog!!???

Well, things are quiet on that front for now, so let's broaden our approach.

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The Eagles' onfield alleged brain trust has taken quite a battering this season, justifiably.  The head coach has had fourteen years to learn clock management but still cannot master its finer points.  Moreover, he has one of the best running backs in the game and cannot use him near the goal line.  Of course, he has one of the worst offensive lines in the game, which might explain things.

The Defensive Coordinator was fired after six games and replaced by a relative novice (stewardship division).  His charges have performed worse in the process.

The offensive Coordinator has never impressed, so it's hard to start faulting him for this season's play-calling.

BUT, without doubt the biggest area of deficiency over the course of a few seasons has been in the realm of free-agent signings.  This team is loaded with big name signees who have played miserably.  None seems worse than Nnamdi Asomugha.  Wait!  Demestress Bell is in the running for this honor.  

Then, of course, there is the drafting of Danny Watkins.  An unmitigated disaster.

So, in the end, the head coach is a poor field general and even poorer judge of talent.

No wonder the Eagles have a losing record.  (And we never even mentioned the quarterback).

* * * * * * * *

Anyone seen Andrew Bynum?

Tuesday, November 06, 2012


Go ahead, Ruben, sign a player with an attitude problem.  He'll be a big hit in this town.

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Anyone seen Andrew Bynum?

Sunday, November 04, 2012


Have you noticed the conversation about the New England Patriots inevitably centers on Tom Brady? The Denver Broncos?  On Peyton Manning.  The Giants, his brother Eli.  On the Eagles?  The coach.

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Bob Brookover wrote a piece in today's Inquirer listing his preferences for filling the many holes on the Phillies.  I agree with many of them.  Unfortunately, so do most of the other 29 MLB teams.  The problem with the Phils is they are hamstrung in the money department.  The were not only big spenders of late, they were over-spenders.  They raided the minor league pantry too much and signed too many players to ruinous long-term deals.

* * * * * * * *

Temples' entry into the Big East has been a difficult one.  Too bad, really, because last year's team would have fared much better given its strengths on both sides of the ball.  The current squad is young, which bodes better for the future...hopefully.  Remember this, too:  last year's squad was really Al Golden's. 

* * * * * * * *

The remainder of the NHL season is circling the bowl.

* * * * * * * *

Anyone seen Andrew Bynum?

* * * * * * * *

One last thing....

I received a marvelous email Saturday afternoon.  Attached was one of those 1950's illustrations showing a housewife with the caption reminding viewers to turn back their clocks one hour that night.  It also reminded viewers not to turn back the country 50 years on Tuesday.

Here's one vote for Barack Obama.