Thursday, May 22, 2008

Matt Ryan and Ridiculous Rookie Contracts

Matt Ryan just signed a deal to guarantee him $34.75 million. Great for him and his family. That is terrible for just about anyone else. He has yet to step on an NFL field or take a snap yet he gets more guaranteed money than Manning or Brady? How does a sport get so screwed up that rookies make more than proven stars? The NFL does a lot of things right, which is why they are the most popular sport. However, if recent trends continue that might start to fall.
Who gave these agents all the power? I realize some of this is safety net in case that player gets hurt. NFL teams should not be complaining because they make enough money as it is. BS. What is the worst case scenario, here? A rookie gets $5 million guaranteed, gets hurt, and never plays after two or three years. OK, guess what you still should be a 25 year old with a college degree and starting out with a couple million. How many college kids would complain about that setup?
When will a team step up and say, here is what your player is worth. Let him prove himself over the next three years and then we will pay him. If not, he can go fly a kite. Surely, that would tick off 95% of that teams' fan base for the next year as such player would likely just sit out and enter the draft the following year. The positive would be the precedent it would set. A GM needs to step up or else the player's union needs to get this corrected.
This is one area where the NBA has a huge leg up on the NFL. NBA players sign a three or four year deal, prove their talent on the court, and then get rewarded with huge contracts. NBA players do make a lot more on endorsements but even Lebron only had a couple million a year on his initial contract.
There are numerous problems but my biggest are the following, not in any particular order; 1) Veterans get ticked and hold out to get what they feel they deserve (See Chad Johnson, Urlacher, Jason Taylor, on and on). 2) Young men get a huge payday and do not know what to do with this, so they begin a Hollywood lifestyle (Leinart). 3) Players get de-motivated since they already have a huge payday and what is next? Passion for the game falls to the wayside and talent is wasted. 4) Player gets overwhelmed to live up to that contract and in turn alienates themselves from their teammates and much needed support 5) Teams get strapped to bad contracts when the young player fails expectations and the franchise cannot compete. They feel pressure for that player to perform because they have already invested so much into them.
The NFL has a lot going for it, so I hope the problem will get fixed. I would hate to see this continue escalating and causing further problems. Goodell faces some decisions early in his tenure. He certainly has spent a great deal of time and energy on the bad personalities. He should begin to focus on what some of those players are rewarded for, too.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

NBA Playoffs

The playoffs have been entertaining so far to me. Many of the teams were so evenly matched, home court has obviously been a huge difference. Most games were very close until the third quarter, when the home team pulled away. To the box score viewer, the amount of 10+ point victories would seem as fairly boring so far. However, they have actually been very competitive. The Hawks even pushed a seven game series. I have enjoyed the competition but still find myself yelling at the TV about how much referees still control the game.
I really hoped to see the passing of the torch last night. Duncan to Paul much like Bird to Jordan as the future of the Conference. I guess that will have to wait. The Hornets will be a factor for the next 4-5 years with the nucleus of Paul, West, and Chandler. Another guard on that team not named MoPete or Pargo and lookout.
And then there were four. Spurs vs. Lakers will be a great match up. This could be the last main ride for the Spurs. That bench is getting old and either Tyson really is a great defender or the season is wearing on Duncan. We'll see since the Lakers do not have a great match up on him. I see this game going an epic 7 with the Lakers coming out on top. The Spurs have never repeated, Odom is playing out of his mind, and Kobe has that look in his eye. If Bynum were healthy, I think this would be over in 5. This could be a big addition to Kobe's legacy. He has yet to make the run with him as the main star.
Celtics vs. Pistons looks to be another great series. Most people will probably get bored and change the channel with the slow-paced, low scoring, grind it out, defensive games. I personally think that is what NBA Playoffs are all about. Both of these teams are built for the playoffs. The Celtics have home court. However, they are full of veterans not recently used to the extended playoff season (Garnett last in '03-'04, Pierce & Allen in '04'-'05) and have been pushed seven games both series. Their tanks have to be running on empty soon. It looks like Allen already is. KG is my favorite player since Jordan because of the passion he plays with. I would love to see them win this series. Unfortunately, I don't see that happening. If Billups is healthy, and he should be, then the Pistons are just too deep. Cassell was added to defend him for this series (clearly Rondo cannot because of his size), so it will be interesting to see how that plays out. I don't think he has made a shot in the last 5 games, so that tells you where I think that scenario is going. Rip vs. Allen. Well, Rip is lights out and Allen can't find the switch. Garnett/Perkins vs. Wallace/McDyess/Maxiell is a slight Celtics edge because of Garnett.
Remember, the Pistons were the first team to beat Boston at home. All the conspiracies want LA and Boston. I don't believe in that. These should both be physical, entertaining series. I look forward to the beginning tonight. Enjoy a burrito and bring on the Conference finals.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Early Season Baseball Comeback Players

While only a bit over a month into the season, here are a few guys having excellent comeback seasons. I love this award in baseball because so many guys come from years removed back to excellent play. Of course, this is real early for this award since many of these players could wind up hurt or resorting to familiar play.

1. Cliff Lee - After being outcast to AAA last year, Lee has found his control again. He carries an anemic 0.81 ERA, ridiculous 39:2 K:BB ratio, and a 6-0 record.

2. Troy Percival - He currently sports an ERA of 0.00 through 11 IP. He has a 10:1 K:BB ratio and has been responsible for turning a major league worst bullpen to the best. He has only pitched 65 innings in the last two years combined, so it is a good surprise to see his recent success. Many questioned the Rays bringing him in, but he has paid off so far.

3. Joe Crede - After playing in only 47 games last year and seemingly losing his job to Josh Fields, Crede has proven the naysayers wrong about his back. His average has dipped to .252 but who on the Sox is hitting? He does have 7 HR to go along with 23 RBI's. That goes along with still being one of, if not, the best defensive 3B in the game. Take note Kenny Williams.

4. Miguel Tejada - Tejada did have a decent season last year by most player's standards and may not qualify for many. Another thing against him, is the short hitter's park that is Minute Maid. That aside, he is hitting .331 with 5 HR's and 25 RBI's. Many thought his career was nearly over with the steroid and age issues. I have always liked Tejada because he plays hard and seems like a competitor who only wants to win.

5. Jorge Cantu - After a monster '05 season with 28 HR and 117 RBI's, many thought Cantu was primed for an excellent career. He has since disappointed many fantasy owners and practically fell of the face of baseball Earth. The former Ray may have resurrected his career with the Marlins. He is recently slumping and this may have just been an early fluke. Nonetheless, he has remade himself as a solid third baseman and is hitting .273 with 4 HR's and 12 RBI's. His big knock is the high strikeout count.

A few others: Joe Mauer (did play in 109 games last year but was not dominant after returning), JD Drew (16 RBI's), Duchscherer (back to dominant setup form), Rafael Furcal - (just realized he should be higher on this list but do not feel like re-arranging....hittting .366 5 HR's, 16 RBI's and 8 SB's.

Get excited as Rich Harden has been brought back. Is Prior next?

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Cubs Issues

Two issues I have with the Cubs.

1. Soriano's spot in the lineup

2. Closer

Let me start by saying, I do not know 2% of what Piniella knows about baseball, but I have some doubts with the current setup. Where does Soriano bat in the order? He really has no best place to hit. I think Fukudome is a prototypical 2nd hitter. However, do you give up his high RISP average? Sorioano needs to grow up and realize he is not the best leadoff hitter for this team. Reed Johnson or Theriot are both much better fits. I prefer Johnson because I like Theriot down in the order and Johnson is more patient. My thought is that Soriano should hit sixth. Derosa can hit second because he is a good contact hitter. Soriano's power numbers would likely go up and his strikeouts would not be as damaging.

Another blown save by Wood. When does Marmol move in? He is definitely one of the best relievers in the game, maybe the best with Zumaya now a religious DL visitor. I realize I said Wood at the beginning of the season, so now I am contradicting myself. Wood is simply too wild to be a dominant closer. He constantly walks and beans leadoff batters.

If we are to have any chance to break the drought, some issues need to be fixed. We probably need to add one more good arm to the bullpen.