I have played and followed and coached sports pretty much my entire cognizant life, but sometimes things happen that I just don't understand. I've coached sports for a dozen years, and am aware that there are all sorts of motivational tactics one can use. I just can't fathom how Mike Rice got to be the head basketball coach at a major state university* by acting like a spoiled five-year-old who is finally told "no." I don't understand how lots of coaches get their jobs, but usually there's some sort of explanation. Perhaps they're not a great game coach, but they kill it on the recruiting trail and produce high draft picks. Maybe they're good at managing the program but need someone else to carry the actual coaching strategy load for them. Or maybe they're a brilliant student and observer of the sport who can't quite communicate that brilliance to their players.
Monday, March 25, 2013
This has been a wild first weekend of March Madness, with a ton of great games on pretty much every day except Saturday, when only two were much in doubt. I have watched a lot less basketball this year than I probably ever have in my life, so I haven't been nearly as informed as usual. But that won't stop me from having some opinions. There are three things in particular that I want to address.
Friday, March 1, 2013
A couple of days ago, ESPN's Buster Olney laid out the case for why the Miami Marlins need to trade outfielder Giancarlo Stanton now while his value is at its highest. Leading the article was a gem of a quote from Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria about how he attended a food and wine festival recently and got a universally positive response from '20 to 30 people' about his November fire sale. He claims that the negative feedback has stopped, and just wants to get support for the Marlins this year.
Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Hey, remember three years ago when it seemed like everyone was celebrating the demise of Billy Beane after Oakland's third straight losing season? Joe Morgan was probably cackling with glee while swirling good Scotch in a snifter. Well, which one of those gentlemen is still employed in baseball today? I'll give you a hint; firejoemorgan.com is no longer an active web page. Last season, due to trades, one ugly injury (Brandon McCarthy fielding an Erick Aybar line drive with his dome), and a PED suspension, the A's ended the season with a rotation made up entirely of rookies, yet still charged from behind to steal the AL West from the Rangers before losing to Detroit in the ALDS. So Moneyball isn't dead after all, huh? Allow me to remind everyone that Beane's philosophy isn't so much religiously tied to on-base percentage as it is to exploiting market inefficiencies on the cheap. For further proof, check out the projected lineup below.
The Second City's second team threatened to win baseball's weakest division last year before an utter collapse in the final days allowed the Tigers to sneak in and leave the White Sox out in the cold. Still, it was a successful first year for rookie manager Robin Ventura, who had never previously managed any team. You could be forgiven for asking, "Who are these fuckin' guys?"; years of poor drafting and development have left the Pale Hose with a system nearly bereft of young stars and a major league team relying on a couple of older recognizable names to carry them. Let's take a look:
The 2010 and 2011 American League champions suffered through a rough final week that saw them let the AL West title slip through their fingers (or bounce off of Josh Hamilton's glove, depending on how you look at it), forcing them to settle for the one-game wild card playoff that they lost to Baltimore. Then, over the winter, Hamilton left for Orange County, weakening their team and strengthening their division rivals. The composition of this team will be different, with three or four new faces in the lineup, but the Rangers should still be a dangerous team in 2012.
Friday, February 15, 2013
I guess because they're the Yankees and they spend more money than anyone else (except the Dodgers now), it is almost impossible to write a preview of contending teams without including them. Still, this is a very flawed organization that is transitioning to a supposedly more fiscally restrained model over the next couple of seasons, although they still have some poison pill contracts to work through. They'll probably make it interesting, because they're the Yankees and they've missed the playoffs just once since the 1994 strike (in 2008). And of course, you know, they're the most storied franchise in American professional sports, with those 27 championships and all. So what do they have this year?