Posted on: August 17, 2009 9:30 pm

Vick's Back On Track

I am not sure how many people -- especially animal lovers --Michael Vick won over with his news conference Friday in Philadelphia and his "60 Minutes" interview Sunday night. But he got me.

Sure, I reserve the requisite amount of skepticism for all athlete comebacks these days, but I believe that Vick is sorry for his crimes and understands that only his actions will convince people he has changed.

There were four moments in Sunday night's exclusive "60 Minutes" interview that convinced me:

• When James Brown confronted Vick with a graphic recitation of the acts associated with the Bad Newz Kennels dogfighting operation, then asked him, "For those who may say it showed a lack of moral character because you didn't stop it, you agree or disagree?" Vick didn't hesitate, equivocate, hem or haw. "I agree," was his simple reply.

• When Brown asked Vick, "Who do you blame for all of this?" Vick once again resisted the urge to deflect the question or share the blame with others.

"I blame me."

• When Brown asked Vick about blowing his $130 million contract with the Atlanta Falcons, the richest in the NFL, Vick said, "I deserve to lose the $130 million."

• And when Brown asked Vick how he feels about his actions today, I expected Vick to take a page from the crisis management playbook and say something along the lines of, "What's most important now is that I move forward and work to make amends for what I did by being active in the community."

Instead, he said he felt "disgust. Pure disgust."

Throughout the interview, Vick painted a picture of anguish. I was physically uncomfortable listening to him talk about the moment his cell door at Leavenworth was slammed shut for 18 months. "I knew the magnitude of the decisions that I made and the poor judgment … and what I allowed to happen to the animals," he said.

The main reason I am on board with Vick is that he was never in explanation mode. He never tried to distance himself from the violence and cruelty by claiming he was just the financier. "I could have put a stop to it," he said. "I could have shut the whole operation down."

And kudos to Humane Society CEO Wayne Pacelle, whose reasonable -- and skeptical -- approach to Vick's partnership with the Humane Society offers a stark contrast to the extreme anti-Vick position assumed by the protest-happy People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

"If we just punish Mike indefinitely and don't pivot to this problem in the communities, where kids are victimizing these dogs and then going down a dead-end street themselves … we will not be doing our job." Pacelle said. "And if Mike disappoints us, the public is going to see that. So it's not going to reflect badly on me or the Humane Society. It's going to reflect badly on him."

Vick missed one opportunity Friday in Philadelphia, where reaction to his signing among Eagles fans was extremely negative. After thanking the organization, coach Andy Reid, quarterback Donovan McNabb,and his mentor, Tony Dungy, Vick should have spoken directly to Eagles fans. He should have acknowledged their place among the league's most passionate and knowledgeable fans and told them that he understands their skepticism.

Then he could have asked for the chance to prove to them with his actions that he has changed. Just like he did on "60 Minutes".

Posted on: August 1, 2009 9:35 pm

The Greatest Olympian

The great ones do their best work when the odds are stacked against them. And the odds were certainly stacked against Michael Phelps today in a 100-meter butterfly rematch with Milorad Cavic at the World Swimming Championships.

Phelps was more fatigued, had spent less time training, isn't a butterfly specialist and, most importantly, was wearing a vastly inferior suit. None of it mattered. Michael Phelps stormed from behind in the final 25 meters to nip Cavic again at the wall, winning his fourth gold at the championships and defending his title as the world's fastest butterflier. It wasn't as thrilling as the race in Beijing, but it was still pretty darn exciting.

Cavic had spent weeks talking up this race, telling anyone who would listen that he actually beat Phelps in Beijing and that the 14-time Olympic gold medalist was beatable. He made a fuss about the swimsuits, even though he was the one wearing the polyurethane-based one that has been a part of more than 30 world records so far at this meet.

Phelps, on the other hand, left his talking for the pool. While clearly miffed at having to wear the Speedo LZR, Phelps stayed silent (even if his coach, Bob Bowman, didn't) until he touched the wall first and defiantly popped out the Speedo logo. He won with relative ease after touching behind Cavic (as expected) at the first 50 and celebrated as much as he did after any of his Olympic victories. 

To his credit, Cavic handled the loss with class. He flashed a simple smile after touching in the second-fastest 100m butterfly time ever, almost as if to say, "I should have known better."

Nothing Phelps can do in the pool will ever top his eight golds from Beijing, but the victory today comes remarkably close. Against a rested rival who had spent the last 352 days preparing for those 50 seconds and was wearing a soon-to-be-illegal suit, Phelps showed again why he is the greatest Olympic athlete who ever lived.

Category: General
Posted on: July 31, 2009 6:32 pm

Winners + Losers of MLB Trade Deadline

Winners:                                                                                                                                                                                         St. Louis Cardinals: Albert Pujos has begged management in St. Louis is get a big bat and they finally get one. After missing out on Manny Ramirez and others, they land Matt Holliday who in his stay in St. Louis is proving to be a big help so far. Boston Red Sox: They get Victor Martinez without giving up any of their prized possesions. They didn't give up Clay Bucholz, Daniel Bard, Casey Kelly or even Lars Anderson. They get a guy who can catch ad play first and is a big bat for the stretch.Philadelphia Phillies: They bolster their rotation which now contains 4 lefties. They get Cliff Lee, a former Cy Young winner without giving up Kyle Drabek, J.A. Happ or Dominic Brown. This will help them in the playoffs becuase they pretty much have their division locked up.San Fransico Giants: THey needed offense. Its not everyday where you hear that a wild-card leader needs offense but you do when you speak of the Giants. When your clean-up hitter is Bengie Molina you know you have problems. They get Ryan Garko to man first base and they get Freddy Sanchez at the price of one of their top prospects but it helps them out. They already had the pitching, now they have some offense.Pittsburgh Pirates: They get a group of prospects for a couple of guys they couldn't keep. They potentially have their ace in Timothy Alderson who can be up as early as next season and they already have a talented offense with Garret Jones and Ryan DoumitNew York Yankees: They didn't fall into traps. They didn't compete with the Red Sox on who can get the best guy at the deadline. They weren't going to spend. They got some depth with Jerry Hairston Jr. and thats all. They kept their prospects including Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain who were in asked pretty much every deal.
Losers:Cleveland Indians: I know there done for this year and potentially 2010 also but what were they thinking. They couldn't get Drabek, Bucholz, Happ, Bard, Brown or anyone. They gave up Cliff Lee and Victor Martinez for unproven prospects who have a mid to high-level ceiling. In 2 years we'll figure out what they were thinking. Toronto Blue Jays: They shopped around Roy Halladay to get no where. They had their whole plan around him, who says he will leave them and test out free agency at the end of the 2010 season. He's value plummets becuase now he will be a 1-year rental. The Blue Jays could have gotten so much from him but they wanted the best of the best. Being picky is bad Mr. Riccardi. Then they go and trade away Scott Rolen for an inept Edwin Encarnacion. Yes they get a couple of good prospects but they did nothing useful. Seattle Mariners: Were they seelers? Were they buyers? We don't know and frankly neither do they. They are hoping on signing Jack Wilson to a long-term deal for the future, yet they then go around and trade away Jarrod Washburn. They might as well traded away King Felix for youngsters to. 
Posted on: June 25, 2009 11:18 pm
Edited on: June 29, 2009 4:51 pm

The Greatest Closer EVER!

Mariano Rivera has earn the title of the greatest closer ever. He is better than Dennis Ecerkersly, Trever Hoffman and etc.. He has the most number of saves in the postseason and has only given up 1 run which sadly caused the Yankees to lose the World Series to the Diamondbacks. When he got on the mound in the bottom of the 8th inning vs the Mets, we all knew he was going to get it. He's too consistent and too reliable of a closer to think that he may blow it. He'll hvae a few bad days but those marks don't hurt him. He is also only 29 strikeouts away from having 1000ks for his career, another remarkable feat for a closer. Guarenteed most people do not believe closers are important, but they are the guys that take the blame when you lose a close game. They get those last 3 outs in those tight situations. They pitch against the opposites team's best batters. They do the little things that most people forget and don't notice. A closer is just as important as having a quality starter on the mound. If your closer had an ERA of around 5 per game (not hating on Brad Lidge), then as a manager, your always biting your nails during those last 3 outs. With Mo, there is no bitiing your nails bacuase you sit back and watch. More remarkable is that he has really accomplished everything with one pitch, the Cutter. If it wasn't for the cutter who knows where Mariano Rivera might be. the Cutter is key to his success and that is the pitch he will be remembered by once he retires. Watch-out, Trevor Hoffman, Mo is coming for your saves title!  
Posted on: June 24, 2009 8:36 pm
Edited on: June 24, 2009 8:37 pm

High Value Draft Picks

I was thinking. Isn't it strange the way Draft picks are valued? It seemed like before the Draft everybody thought a first round pick was too much to give up for Anquan Boldin. Had the Jets wanted a receiver and stayed at 17, they would have ended up with Jeremy Maclin. Maclin might not have demanded as big of a contract, but what are the odds he ends up as good as Boldin?

How about quarterbacks? Remember the Jay Cutler rumors? A first and a third round pick seemed like a really steep down payment. Then the Jets trade a first, a second, and two players for Mark Sanchez. People said that was a cheap price to grab the number 5 pick. I was never the biggest Cutler fan, but he is a proven commodity. Sanchez started in college for a year. Shouldn't the perception be reversed?

On the other hand, the league tends to show the value of drafting well. Teams like the Redskins that don't value their picks and constantly splurge on big names are not relevant.  The league has a salary cap. Too many big contracts can bankrupt a team for years. Football's also a team game. In basketball, one player can carry a franchise. Aside from Peyton Manning, it's tough to come up with too many examples in the NFL.

Big contracts are based on past production. Shelf lives are not very long in a sport this violent. Most Draft picks sign cheaper contracts and provide quality play for a longer time than established players.

There's a case to be made for both sides. What do you think?

Category: NFL
Tags: draft picks, Jets, NFL
Posted on: June 19, 2009 6:42 pm
Edited on: June 19, 2009 6:42 pm

2009 Mr. Irrelevent Gets Paid

Ryan Succop, the man who was picked dead last in the NFL draft, and thus dubbed "Mr. Irrelevant", will soon be cashing some handsome paychecks. The kicker is expected to sign a three-year deal worth $1.2 million in the next day or so.

Also on the plate for Succop is Irrelevant Week in Newport Beach, California, and that kicks off on Monday. The festival includes a golf tournament, a regatta, a few parties and a banquet/roast in Mr. Irrelevant's honor. Past roasters have included Bill Walsh, Jim Everett, Mickey Mantle and Merlin Olsen.

I wonder if Succop, the 256th pick in the draft, ever sends gloating e-mails to Dan Gronkowski, the 255th pick in the draft. "Ha ha! I guess you were just a little too impressive in your workouts. Enjoy anonymity. I'll be at the regatta with Merlin Olsen."

After Irrelevant Week comes and goes, it's back to the grind for Succop. I don't know how much of that $1.2 million is guaranteed, and he still has to beat out Chiefs incumbent kicker Connor Barth if he wants a spot on the roster. There is work to be done. Life is not all regattas with Merlin Olsen, even if you are Mr. Irrelevant.

Posted on: June 16, 2009 5:51 pm

Sportsmanship: Crosby + Lebron

So should we blame Kris Draper of the Detroit Red Wings for sparking the most ridiculous faux controversy of the Stanley Cup playoffs by complaining about Sidney Crosby's handshake line "snubs,"or should we blame the media for fanning the cheap heat on the Detroit Red Wings' getaway day?

As the story goes, the Pittsburgh Penguins captain was too caught up in celebrations and postgame interviews after Game 7 in Detroit on Friday night to take part in the entirety of the traditional handshake line with the Wings.

Draper was outraged; Crosby refused to apologize, saying that he shook hands with about half the Wings and that "I just won the Stanley Cup, and I think I have the right to celebrate with my teammates. ... On their side of things, I understand if they don't want to wait around."

The Red Wings and the Detroit media had plenty more to say about Crosby's "right" to miss out on a playoff tradition.

Detroit players were asked about the "snub" on Monday while the Pittsburgh Penguins were having their parade to celebrate the Cup. Via Bob Duff of the Windsor Star, Wings forward Henrik Zetterberg had the most vitriol: 

Even the normally polite Henrik Zetterberg took a swipe at Crosby Monday when he accused him of being disrespectful by failing to greet about half of the Wings' team, including Nick Lidstrom,Marian Hossa(notes) and himself. 

"I think you should do it after a series, shaking hands," said Zetterberg as the Wings gathered for a team photo and to collect their personal belongings. "I think it's disrespectful. I don't know the reason he didn't do it, but I hope he has a really good one."

As you can see above, unless Crosby was embracing that Zetterberg impersonator, the Penguins star and the man who shadowed him in the Final most certainly shared a greeting.

Zetterberg was harsh; Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom called it a learning experience for Crosby, which of course it is: The old sports mantra "act like you've been there" is a little hard when he's a 21-year-old superstar that just captured his first Stanley Cup. If he made a mistake in the euphoria, it won't happen again.

But please: The notion that Crosby should have offered a hollow apology to defuse the situation is preposterous. Leave that insincerity to Letterman.

Comparing his lapse in attention with the outright disrespect shown by LeBron James in the Cavaliers' loss to the Orlando Magic during the NBA playoffs is misguided due to their divergent motivations, and ridiculous in that James was being intentionally defiant. One was a sidetracked winner; the other a sore loser.

Nail Sidney Crosby for his immaturity on this, but not his sportsmanship; there are plenty of other fineexamples one can use to criticize the latter.

Posted on: June 6, 2009 2:28 pm
Edited on: June 19, 2009 12:56 am

Classy Move by Pietrus

 Orlando Magic reserve guard Mickael Pietrus, whose nationality and play earned him the nickname "Air France," honored the memory of Air France Flight 447 passengers on Thursday by wearing sneakers with "AF 447" on the sides for Game 1 of the NBA Finals.

As you no doubt heard earlier this week, Flight 447 left Rio de Janeiro Sunday night en route to Paris with 228 passengers on board, but crashed over the Atlantic Ocean after flying into towering thunderstorms. Brazilian and French search teams still have found no debris confirmed to have come from the Airbus A330 jet.

"I wanted to send my prayers to all those people who lost their lives on that plane," Pietrus said, according to Met Steinmetz of NBA Fanhouse.  "I know that families are having hard times right now and hopefully they'll have better days in the future. ... Life is short and sometimes people suffer. And you've got to try to do the right thing."

Pietrus originally planned to ditch his regular Kobe-endorsed Hyperdunks for some old Jordans, but for whatever reason didn't. Instead, he told reporters that he'll wear the "AF 447" tribute shoes for the remainder of the series. Classy move.

Category: General
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