Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Robustelli's legacy as a player and man

Most of what I know about Andy Robustelli as a player came from my father, a lifetime New York Giants fan, but I later got to know Robustelli when covering the Giants in 1978, his final season as general manager of the Giants.
He had talked about retiring as GM for a couple of years prior, to devote himself to the family insurance business in Stamford. But I can still remember the utter shock on his face when The Fumble undid so many of the the painstaking advances he made in trying to build the Giants back up to a championship level team.
Still, Robustelli, who passed away at the age of 85 Tuesday, was immensely proud of leaving the foundation of the Giants in much better shape than when he took over as Director of Operations -- essentially when team owner Wellington Mara was convinced to put the football decisions in the hands of a football man.
If nothing else, Robustelli was the essence of old school, maximizing his own talent as an undersized defensive end. He beat you with preparation and savvy, then looked for that in the players he drafted and signed with the Giants.
He's was a Hall of Fame talent and without doubt, one of the legendary Giants. But Andy Robustelli, who passed away Tuesday, but if there's anything about Robustelli I'm left to remember, more than three decades later, it's that he treated people with respect and compassion.
He was a great player, but the Andy Robustelli I got to know, was an even greater man.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Calhoun statement on APR is step in right direction

Jim Calhoun may have come kicking and screaming into the age of political correctness, but his response to the official APR announcement Tuesday was perfect. There was no mixed message and no sniping at a process that clearly has its warts.
Calhoun’s message Tuesday that “we are going to attack this is the only way I know how and that it to work as hard as possible to get better,” was a clear and welcome break from the previous stance that saw him dig in harder and harder against the process.
Even his valid points – and he had several to make over the years – served no positive purpose because it sent a mixed message about the importance of academics at a school of higher learning.
As we wrote Sunday, (http://www.newhavenregister.com/articles/2011/05/21/sports/doc4dd87ae7e07de365755656.txt) we believe first year academic advisor Felicia Crump is the right person to get UConn back on track, but she needs unambiguous support from Calhoun toward achieving their target numbers.
Tuesday, Calhoun took the first step toward giving her clear support.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Wilpon makes up for lack of $$$ with stupidity

We’ve learned over the course of the last year that Fred Wilpon is no longer rich enough to own a New York City baseball franchise. Now he’s proving that he’s not smart enough, either.
Wilpon’s comments about Carlos Beltran, Jose Reyes and David Wright in The New Yorker are unconscionable and completely self-defeating.
It’s one thing to have a bad baseball team, which he acknowledges in a story largely aimed as a profile of his  financial rise in real estate. It’s another to openly and brazenly devalue his best baseball assets.
Wilpon, who will have a season-ticket revolt on his hands when Reyes is dealt away or leaves as a free agent at the end of the season, had to be stupefied to hear Wilpon say, “He thinks he’s going to get Carl Crawford money,” referring to the Red Sox’ signing of Crawford to a seven-year $142 million contract. “He’s had everything wrong with him. He won’t get it.”
Wilpon clearly doesn’t
Then there’s Beltran, who everyone knows is on borrowed time with the Mets in the last year of a seven-year contract and on knees that have been a chronic problem. The Mets should trade Belran, who is playing well and going to get the team some young pieces in return. But what does Wilpon do to inflate Beltran’s value?
He says, “We had some schmuck in New York who paid him based on that one series (2004 postseason),” referring to himself and the seven-year  $119 million contract he paid Beltran. “He’s sixty-five to seventy per cent of what he was.”
That’s quite a strategy.
And still, there are Wilpon’s remarks about David Wright, calling the Mets third baseman “a really good kid … a very good player … not a superstar.”
Wright also happens to be the face of the franchise.
We thought that Wilpon’s kiddy, Jeff, was the root of the Mets problem, but I guess we’re learning together that the Mets problem is the guy who gave Jeff the keys to the kingdom.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Celts, Perkins, Shaq and sabotage

Doc Rivers stated the obvious Tuesday when he said he regretted the Kendrick Perkins deal, specifically the timing of sending Perkins to Oklahoma City for Jeff Green.
Seems to me, though, that the biggest mistake made by the Celtics was not the timing, but their judgment. The Celtics were obviously convinced that Shaquille O'Neal could play 20 minutes a night and give the team the necessary muscle come playoff time.
It was a collosal leap of faith, given that Shaq has been a broken down tractor trailer for several years and he ain't getting younger and healthier, carrying around 300-plus pounds.
If the Celtics considered the downside on Shaq, there's no way any reasonable person would have traded Perkins and sabotaged their May.

NBA draft lottery is a farce

The NBA draft lottery is a made-for-TV joke.  Of course, if fairness was part of the process, it would be too boring for TV.
So you have a classic style versus substance debate ... and shtick wins.
But how can the worst team in basketball have only a one in four chance of getting the first pick?
At the very least, it's got to be north of 50 percent, because that's what the draft is supposed to be about -- providing instant help to the worst team in the sport.
The fact that that worst team almost never gets the No. 1 pick (twice since 1991) tells you the process is flawed.
The only reason to have a lottery at all is to prevent a team from intentionally losing a game at the end of the year to improve it's draft position. But teams don't tank in January, February and March. If they do, fans would revolt (and probably file a lawsuit to force teams to refund money).
So make the draft lottery five teams, giving the worst team 51 percent odds. Give the second worst team, 27 percent odds; third, 13 percent; fourth, six percent, and fifth, three percent. I think that comes to 100 percent, but don't hold me to the math.
The only downside to my suggestion is that it would probably ruin one half hour of TV suspense for the basketball junkie (the only people who are watching, anyway) per year. The trade off is fairness.
Even David Stern should be able to figure out this no-brainer.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Yanks should target Beltran

If I were the Yankees I'd make a strong bid for Carlos Beltran, who is not only an upgrade in right field, but might have a lot of mileage in his knees as a DH – especially with so much controversy swirling around Jorge Posada.
Would the Mets ship him to the Yankees? That’s the million dollar question, but how could they not for a couple juicy prospects? The Mets aren’t going to re-sign him, so why not get some future for him.
Under normal circumstances, the Mets would never knowingly trade a quality bat like Beltran across town where every big hit would be magnified in the tabloids. But in this case, I don't think Mets fans would be hostile – or should be hostile ‑ to the move. Beltran is on borrowed time with the Mets, so it’s the team’s responsibility to maximize the return. The Yankees have some jewels in their farm system.
It makes sense both ways, and forget the sensitivity. It’s a win-win trade.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Odd Posada night is leading down dead end

As a rule of thumb, professional athletic careers don't end well. For every guy who goes out with a flourish or on his terms, there's a dozen who are cut, benched, have lost their skills, and are forced out of town. Sadly, that seems to be the way it's unfolding for Jorge Posada, the longtime Yankee catcher who pulled himself out of the lineup prior to Saturday's rivalry game with the Red Sox.
Posada has been a great Yankee and champion over the years, but from the moment he balked about being the DH this offseason, through a listless first six weeks at the plate, and Saturday's controversial decision to pull himself out of the lineup with a much debated back injury, we can see the end of Posada's career in the side-view mirror window (objects may be closer than they appear).
He'll always be part of the Yankee family, but we question if he'll be part of the active roster by the all-star break.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Was Uncle Mo sick (of his post position)?

Given the financial implications riding on the Kentucky Derby for a horse of the ilk of Uncle Mo, it seems entirely plausible that Uncle Mo's stomach ache was a product of an unfavorable post position (18).

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Mendenall will be radioactive

It's hard to know where to begin on the tweet of Pittsburgh Steelers running back Rashard Mendenall in defense of Osama bin Laden, other than to say this country is founded on the right of every American to espouse such absolute ignorance. We say that with the proviso that every American is responsible for his/her own words, and I don't think I'm over-reacting when I say that unless Mendenhall is forthcoming with an apology/clarification that is so strong as to somehow temper his remarks with the moderate majority, his days as an NFL player are over.
Mendenhall trampled the most sensitive issue in American hearts and minds, and in the blue-collar city of Pittsburgh, it's hard to imagine football fans will ever forgive and forget his defense of Bin Laden. The Steelers have already distanced themselves from Mendenhall in no uncertain terms, and, again, unless Mendenhall can somehow qualify his blashemy - and we doubt that's possible - he's radioactive to any sports franchise in America.
They say America is a forgiving society, but I doubt they'll ever forgive Rashard Mendenhall.