Monday, August 1, 2011

Cashman makes right no-deal

Brian Cashman was at his best over the weekend by standing pat at the trading deadline. The Yankees already have a deeper starting staff than the Red Sox, Tampa Bay isn't going to make the postseason, and which pitching staff in the American League strikes fear in you?
The Yankees have the second lowest ERA in the AL over the first six innings and there was only one available pitcher, in theory and potential more than fact - Ubaldo Jimenez - who might have changed the Yankees' October.
Jimenez cost Cleveland four prospect, two said to be of substance, and for what? A pitcher with a 6-9 record, 4.46 ERA and an unspectacular .251 batting average against. We further remind you that he's coming to a league with a DH.
Cashman could have gotten Jimenez but does he make the Yankees better in October? Nothing suggests that as being highly likely. Erik Bedard makes the Red Sox better, but only because the Sox staff is in a medical mess.
If there was a big ticket pitcher available, Cashman would have and should have gone after him hard. But why slot in another guy who's no better, statistically, than what they have now? The Yankees aren't worrying about October of 2012. They'll be a guy as good or better than Jimenez available in the offseason. The only reason to give up a top prospect was if there was someone who clearly made them better right now.
Sure they're vulnerable in the starting rotation. But any deadline deal would have left them as vulnerable as they are today.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

NFL Doors Likely to Open by Saturday

 According to reliable NFL sources, the doors to the NFL will open as soon as Friday, contingent upon the players approving a new collective bargaining agreement Thursday. The owners are expected to vote to accept the deal either Thursday or Friday.
"The NFL's doors will open Friday or Saturday," the source explained, pending ratification.
"Then the teams will devote Monday through Wednesday of next week to trying to sign their own free agents."
Early next Thursday, the process of signing free agent veterans and undrafted rookies will begin to take place.
If all moves according to plan, most teams will then begin camp as regularly scheduled. Most teams were not scheduled to report until the middle or late next week.


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Love Love at New Haven Open

Rory McIlroy at the Golf Course at Yale?
OK, we’re taking a few leaps of faith at this point and time, but hey, the invitation has already been extended by Anne Worcester, the tournament director of the New Haven Open and first lady of Market New Haven.
Why, you ask, is Madam Tennis inviting golf’s reigning U.S. Open champion and rising face of international golf to her tennis tournament and the venerable Yale golf course?
Silly, to be with Caroline Wozniacki, the world’s No. 1 ranked women’s tennis player who will be back to try and win her for the fourth straight time in August.
It seems that he’s smitten with her and she’s smitten with him, and the two are, as they say, a hot item.
Just hours after McIlroy finished a rain and wind-swept British Open, he and the tall, blonde Dane were dining in London. She was in the UK for a photo shoot with fashion designer Stella McCartney, daughter of Beatles legend Sir Paul McCartney. And he recently broke up with his girlfriend of a number of years, Holly Sweeney. Did we mention he was a guest in the Royal Box at Wimbledon?
Sounds like a budding love match to me. In fact, when they left the London restaurant, they were seen smooching in public … verified and posted on the Internet.
According to an ESPN report, Wozniacki and McIlroy first met at the Wladimir Klitschko-David Haye title fight on July 2 in Hamburg. It wasn’t much of a fight, but apparently sparks were flying somewhere in the building.
“Really down to earth great guy,” tweeted Wozniacki. And upon her recent 21st birthday, she offered the following comment on her Twitter page: “At least now you (McIlroy) will be able to buy me a drink in the U.S. Not only in Hamburg.”
Hey, Widdy’s is open for drinks at the Yale golf course.
And wouldn’t we love to hear McIlroy’s thoughts on the uniquely famous 9th hole at Yale.
Hopefully he’ll have nicer things to say than Sam Snead supposed said once upon a time when he landed in the swale between the upper and lower portions of the green. He wasn’t amused.
We checked the PGA Tour schedule and the love-struck 22-year-old McIlroy will be in the U.S. for the PGA Championship in Georgia Aug. 11-14. And two weeks later, The $8 million Barclays is being played in Edison, N.J.
The New Haven Open starts earlier that same week. So we’ll tentatively pencil him in for a starting time of 9 a.m. at Yale on Aug. 22.
The only downside to this new romance, as we see it, is that there are 50 or so Yale football players who are SOL (simply out of luck). The lovely tennis star has had a mutual flirtation with the Yale football team since she first came here in 2008.

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Sunday, July 17, 2011

Japan's Miracle on Grass the ultimate stunner

I kept watching the women's World Cup final, wondering how the heck U.S. wasn't up by at least three goals over Japan. For basically the entirely of the 122 minutes of regulation and overtime, the U.S. seemed so dominant, it was as if they had a two-man advantage. They were bigger, faster, more skilled with the ball, and continally threatened the Japan goal with superb opportunities.
The difference maker was Japan goaltender Ayumi Kaihori, who badly outplayed the celebrated Hope Solo, given the pressure placed on Kaihori throughout the game. And that first penalty kick save by Kaihori, where she slightly overran the kick, but deflected the ball with her leg in mid-dive was as athletic a move as you'll see anywhere.
Nonetheless, soccer fans will be watching that World Cup final for 100 years and still be stupified that the game ever got to penalty kicks.
It was one of those sport miracles of which America is usually so proud. This time, Japan pulled off the Miracle on Grass and how they got there matters not. They're the World Cup champions and one of the great upset winners in sports history.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Clemens verdict was in long before prosecutors messed up

America has long since made up its mind about the guilt or innocence of Roger Clemens, so maybe in their zealous ineptness, Federal prosecutors did all of us a service by causing a mistrial. Does anyone really want to see Rocket Roger spent time in jail? What would that prove? What opinion would that change?America is convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that Clemens used performance enhancing drugs and has lied about it with the same sense of delusional arrogance  that Pete Rose denied betting on baseball for 15 years ... until the all-time hit king admitted he lied about gambling on baseball.
Aside from the momentary "aha!" of an overhyped trial, or hearing Andy Pettitte squirm by telling the truth about Clemens, a lengthy trial would have bored us silly with the obvious, with more lying and at an exorbitant price to taxpayers.
There is nothing Clemens could do or say to convince America that Brian McNamee wasn't firing PEDs into his butt over a sustained period of time. So let the thing go. Let Rocket tell whoever wants to listen that he was framed by McNamee and others, that he is pure as the driven snow, and that he is worthy of the Hall of Fame.
We don't need him behind bars to neither believe, nor care what he's selling. Hopefully he'll go away quietly, though I suspect he'll create more noise about his innocence than ever.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

K-Rod trade makes sense for Brewers and Mets

The Milwaukee Brewers' acquisition of Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez Tuesday was a well-calculated move that has a built in safeguard against K-Rod ever reaching his incentive clause (finishing 55 games), which would automatically earn him $17.5 million in 2012.
Because the Brewers already have a decent closer in John Axford, at best K-Rod will share the closing role or serve primarily as a set-up man to Axford.
Though we don't yet know who the Mets get in return, likely prospects, they had to deal Rodriguez before he got much closer to the magic number or they'd scare off suitors.
Milwaukee tied with St. Louis for the NL Central lead, gets a solid addition to the bullpen for the second half of the season and the risk is minimal, not only in terms of K-Rod getting his exorbitant payday, but in terms of him going south, mentally, if put exclusively in a setup role. This is the last year of his contract (unless the incentive is met), so he's going to want to pitch well and then shop his talents as a closer elsewhere in the offseason.
The only way the deal completely backfires on Milwaukee is is Axford were to get hurt early in the second half of the season. That, in turn, would force them to use K-Rod as the everyday closer.
But short of a perfect storm, the deal strengthens the Brewers and helps free some Jose Reyes money for the Mets - who are not winning a wild-card, with our without K-Rod.

Monday, July 11, 2011

All-Star defections spoiling the game

As we alluded to in Sunday's IWT, the proliferation of All-Star pull-outs - guys who played the weekend - have reduced the midseason classic into the NFL's Pro Bowl.
An incredible 84 players, at last count, have been selected to Tuesday game because of all the defections, Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera, two superstars and players to look up to, are setting a horrible trend that threatens to become epidemic. Jeter was well enough to go 5-for-5 Saturday, play again Sunday, and he's too hurt to play in the All-Star game? Didn't Rivera mop up Jeter's 5-hit game?
The problem may be bigger even than Jeter and Rivera because by every indication, teams are encouraging players with nagging injuries to skip the game. Half or more of the combined All-Star roster probably would do well to rest. That's just the nature of a long, gruelling baseball season.
Moreover, any team that doesn't want its ace to pitch in the All-Star game merely needs to start him on Sunday, making that pitcher automatically ineligible.
You simply can't continue to give the game any home-field World Series significance when it's being treated like a second-class event by its own players and teams.
Bud Selig needs to make sure that players who are healthy enough to play the weekend before the All-Star Game count as a roster spot. Otherwise, we're left with a home-run derby and an over-hyped spring training exhibition game.