Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Punishment fits the crime?

So, we're a few days away from D-Day for A-Rod and one thought crosses my mind.

Can Major League Baseball actually make this 211-game suspension stick? On the surface, without having any knowledge about the inner-workings of the decision other than what was in Bud Selig's statement, I kind of think Alex Rodriguez will get off with less than 211 games.

Make no mistake, I'm not saying A-Rod doesn't deserve the ban, what I'm saying is given the rules set forth by the collective bargaining agreement, 211 might be a stretch.

Rodriguez has yet to fail a drug test (you cannot count the one is 2003 because it was essentially a "test" test to see if testing would even be implemented. When outed by the Selena Roberts' piece, he admitted to taking performance-enhancing drugs from 2001-2003, a time when — in the eyes of baseball — PEDs were not illegal.

I think that's an important distinction.

The evidence MLB reportedly has against A-Rod is voluminous and overwhelming. There are allegations of obstructing MLB's investigation into Biogenesis, lying about taking PEDs, and recruiting fellow players to that now-closed Florida anti-aging clinic.

OK, fine. If true, it would be more than enough to make up for not failing a test.

Still, remember, we're bypassing 50 games and going right to 211. Brewers' slugger Ryan Braun, who tested positive for PEDs in 2011 only to have the ruling overturned on a technicality, agreed to a 65-game suspension for his links to Biogenesis. At the time his positive test was overturned before the 2012 season, Braun claimed he didn't use PEDs, so he lied as well.

Many people think Braun got off light, and they may be right.

I think Selig might be overreaching when it comes to A-Rod, and Selig might even know 211 games won't stick when A-Rod's appeal is heard. As his tenure as commissioner winds down, Selig is concerned about his legacy, especially when it comes to the steroid era.

He can certainly say to fans that MLB has taken great strides in eliminating PEDs from the game and if the A-Rod suspension is reduced during appeal, at least they tried.

Like it or not, don't be surprised to see sometime in the next two-three months, a ruling comes down cutting the A-Rod ban to 100 games.

Not saying it's fair, but it might be right as far as the CBA is conceerned.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Understandable choice

Let me start off by saying, if I had a vote in selecting the NBA's Most Valuable Player it would have gone to LeBron James. No one player has stood head-and-shoulders above his peers in the league like LeBron since Michael Jordan played.

That said, I have no issue with the rationale from the Boston Globe reporter, who was the lone writer out of 121 not to vote for James. Gary Washburn said he voted for Carmelo Anthony because "meant more to his team" this season. I disagree, but it's not an outrageous reason. Melo led the Knicks to their first division title in nearly 20 years and made basketball at Madison Square Garden relevant again.

But the King is the King, and in my mind, has no equal.

It goes to the age-old question we have here on a local level when selecting the Freeman's top players after the football, basketball and baseball/softball seasons of whether you're picking an MVP or a Player of the Year. The two selections could be completely different.

If memory serves me correctly (and I am getting up there in age), years ago we picked an MVP. But how do you quantify an MVP

What criteria goes to selecting an MVP?

Can you have an MVP on a team below .500?

If you take the Globe/Carmelo example and apply it locally, does a player whose team has been the doormat of whatever league it is competing in, have a great season and lead the team back to respectability deserve as much/more/or less consideration than the best player in the league who's part of a talented team that wins year after year.

That's what makes picking an MVP so difficult and why we pick Player(s) of the Year.

In the history of the NBA, there has never been a unanimous MVP selection and I bet that won't change.

Maybe the league should consider switching to Player of the Year. A unanimous pick would probably come the first year.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

It's about time

So much has happened since the last time I had the chance to speak to you, but I want to touch upon the new that veteran NBA center Jason Collins became the first man in major American professional sports to come out as a gay.

For that, I have but one question. What took so long?

For as advanced a society as we all would like to think we are, the thought that it took this long for a player from MLB, NBA, NFL and NHL just boggles my mind. The sexual orientation of an athlete should be the farthest thing from anybody's mind.

I know as a fan, I have never once cared the least about any aspect of my favorite players' personal life. Just hit a game-winning home run, throw a touchdown pass on the game's final play, hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer, or score the winning goal in the shootout and I am a happy person.

Right now there's a lot of positive vibes coming from Collins' declaration. I hope those vibes don't fade away with time. I know there are many out there, straight or gay, that will look at Collins as a role model. I only hope we'll get to a place where Collins' story won't be a big deal anymore.

We've waited far too long to get this far.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Super night

As far as Super Bowls go, Sunday night's game was quite entertaining.

There was so much to digest in the Ravens' 34-31 victory over the 49ers, from the thrilling finish, to possible blown calls by the referees, to the power outage, to a rout that became a tight game following that outage, to the coaching Harbaugh brothers to Ray Lewis' final game, to the commercials and Beyonce's halftime show.

There was something for everyone who tuned in to what seemed to be 100 hours of pregame, followed by the Super Bowl itself.

Did the better team win? I'm not so sure.

Did the better team that night win? Definitely.

The enduring images from the game — and everything that surrounded it — will linger for quite some time.

If future Super Bowls can match the thrills and excitement of this one, the NFL's future is brighter than ever.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Swing and a miss

By now I'm sure you've heard everyone else's opinions and formed your own, concerning the MLB Hall of Fame pitching a shutout on potential nominees.

So here's one more person's take.

I understand what the baseball writers' looked to do by not voting in anyone in this 2013 class, which included steroid-tainted stars such as Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa. I, too, believe anybody who cheats the game does not belong in the Hall.

What I disagree with is the notion of making a stand against legitimate Hall of Fame candidates, like Craig Biggio and Mike Piazza. I'm sure both will soon, maybe as early as next year, have their Hall of Fame tickets punched, but in reality this should have been their year.

Biggio is a member of the 3,000-hit club, long considered a benchmark for making the Hall. In fact, of the 28 players in MLB history to have 3,000 hits, only four are not in the Hall. Pete Rose (banned from baseball for life for admitting to betting on baseball), Rafael Palmeiro (another steroid-tainted star), Derek Jeter (still an active player) and Biggio.

Biggio deserves to be taken off that last list.

Piazza is considered one of the top hitting catchers, if not the greatest hitting catcher, of all-time. Considered an average defensive catcher at best, his lifetime marks of a .308 batting average, 427 home runs and 1,335 RBI would be good enough in most years to warrant a Hall selection. In Piazza's case, there have been whispers (I repeat WHISPERS) of possible steroid use, but that's all they are at this point — whispers.

Innocent until proven guilty, I say.

The Baseball Hall of Fame should be for the best of the best and by not allowing two truly great players in, the baseball writers did an injustice to the Hall no matter how noble their intentions might have been.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Strange happening for Yanks

Pending a physical, Kevin Youkilis and the Yankees have agreed to a one-year, $12 million contract.

Could this have been a more strange offseason for the Yanks?

While many teams broke open their checkbooks, the Bombers have shown fiscal restraint so far. They re-signed Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera and Hiroki Kuroda (all good moves), while letting Russell Martin, Eric Chavez and Andruw Jones walk. Nick Swisher is seemingly headed elsewhere, while the future of Raul Ibanez is unknown.

Alex Rodriguez is lost for the first half of the season (at least) after it was revealed he needed surgery on his hip and now the Yanks are set to welcome Youkilis, a one-time star for the Red Sox, who's skills are in decline.

And just think, we still have two months until pitchers and catchers report to spring training. I can only imagine what else will happen.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Bump in the road

It's amazing what a difference a couple of weeks make when it comes to professional football.

Two weeks ago, the Giants were the team to beat in many experts' minds. They were at the top or near the top of most power rankings.

Back-to-back losses to the Steelers and Bengals have changed all that. Now Giant nation is in a panic over what they perceive to be a free-fall. Eli Manning hasn't looked like himself. The defense is still trying to find itself, while the running game has been — for the most part — awful.

It's funny, but I seem to remember the same complaints about Big Blue about this time last year and look where they finished — as Super Bowl champions.

The Giants, like the Yankees, seem to be one of those rare teams that can turn it up a notch when they need to, as well as play down down to the level of their opponents from time to time.

Bottom line is, barring some unforeseen circumstances, I fully expect the Giants to be where they are seemingly every year — in the playoffs with a chance to win another Super Bowl.

Giants fans, take a breath. You have an entire off-week to do so.