After a one week hiatus, I’ve come back locked and loaded. Ok, so maybe I’m being a bit over emphatic about my return but since the sports world waits for no man, I figured neither did you.
SO LONG LUIS; OLLIE NEXT?
Why the likely delay of Perez release, you ask? A team official suggests it would be callous to do morning after bad outing.
I think its safe to say that this day was one that most saw coming and even Luis Castillo did as well. The most concerning part of cutting Castillo had nothing to do with performance as many saw him as the best second baseman the Mets had in camp. It had more to do with what he was in the eyes of fans which brings me to what I feel is the most obvious storyline that the Mets face this upcoming season. What moves can this new regime make to build up enough goodwill with the fans that when they ultimately make the unpopular ones, (for example trading Jose Reyes or letting him go in free agency) that they will point to the overall changes and say “see, we listened to you and we did what we could.”
Mike Vaccaro wrote a pretty interesting piece yesterday which called the Mets on what he feels their strategy is and his own suggestions on what they could do to bridge the divide that exists between the fan base and ownership. The Mets ownership situation being what it is, will find it ridiculously difficult to win the fan base over if Oliver Perez finds himself on the opening day roster. It would be a death sentence on a team that already faces charges of willfully ignoring repeated warnings about the operation Bernie Madoff was running. This would inevitably lead to the sale of the Mets franchise, something that the Wilpons stubbornly refuse to admit is an option for them. They have only publicly announced that they are looking for investors to take on 20-25% of ownership.
This season will be very interesting to watch from a business standpoint as this may be the final season that the Wilpons can hold on to the Mets. If the team flounders and sales of season tickets continue to lag behind, the decision of selling the team will no longer be under their control and it will HAVE to be sold.
But there are still baseball decisions to be made. The Mets refused to answer any questions relating to the inevitable release of Oliver Perez which all but seems certain after his latest shellacking. He allowed 2 home runs on his first 5 pitches which even for him is a remarkably difficult thing to do. I find it funny that I was about to write a piece on the Mets allowing fans to run their team and make their decisions which seems eerily familiar to what the Minaya regime did. I said that perhaps it wouldn’t hurt to see more of Oliver Perez and try to recoup some kind of value for a 28 year old lefty who can get other lefties out. His numbers last year, if only used as a lefty specialist, project very well. But now it seems that after this latest fiasco in which the fans actually cheered when he gave up the two home runs, that it no longer seems likely that he has a future with the Mets.
Perhaps the Mets are looking to purge the old regime and its mistakes. Luis Castillo is a good player but never meshed with the team the way many thought he would. He’s a stand up guy who always faced the music and vitriol from the fans like myself who screamed many a times for Castillo to be sent to Siberia or anywhere far from Citi Field. As of this morning, rumor was that the Phillies had signed him to a minor league contract which lead me to two thoughts:
1. The Phillies are really concerned about Chase Utley and don’t trust that he will be back anytime soon which would be terrible for an already questionable line up.
2. He will be a good fit on that team.
Why would I say he’d be a good fit? A fresh start would be great for him because he needs one, but also because the locker room in Philadelphia has one of the better reputations in all of baseball and they will support him and do a good job of keeping him in good spirits even when the Philly fans eventually turn on him like the Met fans did.
One final story about Luis Castillo that I must share and yes, it has to do with the dropped pop up. I was vacationing with friends in the Dominican Republic when the Mets and Yankees played in the now infamous “Castillo Dropped Pop Up” game and the resort was filled with a mix of Yankee fans and Yankee haters, not necessarily Met fans.* As A-Rod popped up and slammed his bat to the ground for what surely seemed like the last out and K-Rod threw his right hand in the air to point to the pop up, I got up and turned my back to the television. Mind you, I had taken enormous amounts of heat from Yankee fans and I was going to have the last laugh on what was a very close game. I don’t remember what I said but I do remember the cheer I saw from the Yankee fans, and I quickly turned around. Right in time to see Luis Castillo pick himself up, and throw a weak throw to home that Mark Texieira beat.
*= There were Red Sox fans there, and a Manny Ramirez fan who didn’t like the Red Sox but rooted against the Yankees. Go figure. In the Dominican Republic, who would have thunk it that I would find baseball fans.
Two thoughts on that:
1. Tex is not a speedy runner so for him to beat that throw showed you how absolutely flustered Castillo was at that present time. A normally sure handed defensive infielder, he wrote his death sentence with Met fans on that night. Nine times out of ten, he makes that play.
2. I went back and saw the replay from the time that Castillo knew that the ball was coming to him and he NEVER looked confident. He seemed to lose sight of the ball in mid flight and spent the next 5 seconds trying to find it in the stars. He never looked confident and never possessed the wherewithal to recover from it after that. Fans turned on him and never gave him a second chance to win back their affections and frankly he never did anything to win it back either. He was losing range as a second baseman and what little power he had to begin with, he lost along with his confidence after that night.
I think this move is for the good of both the Mets AND Luis Castillo and will allow him to finish his career in a place that won’t hold one play against him. He was never a power hitting second baseman and he lost his range as he got older with the Mets, a phrase that Met fans have grown sick and tired of hearing.
There remains one last move for the Mets to make to fully extricate themselves from the former era: cutting Oliver Perez and I’m sure however loud that cheer was for his two homeruns will pale in comparison to the collective cheer of Met fans when news spreads that they have finally separated themselves from the talented but clueless lefty. Yes, I still consider him talented.
Jalen Rose and Uncle Tom
I’ve never been a fan of Jalen Rose’s. He says very little on TV that make him worthy of the title “analyst”. Nothing he says makes me sit up and take notice. But people like him continue to find a way to stay on the air because the players who WOULD have made good analysts don’t want to be one or they just don’t get hired because they refuse to do anything beyond their jobs. Guys like Jalen Rose know how to market themselves and create an air of importance that everyone else except the big wigs find engaging enough to listen to.
So when the Fab Five documentary was being spoken about by ESPN even before airing I sensed that its executive producer, Mr. Jalen Rose, probably had something to do with it. Wouldn’t you know, he did. In fact, it was his comment that created a semi controversy. Except I saw the documentary and came away with the same feeling that Deadspin writer Jack Dickey had: what controversy?
First of all, the article does a great job exploring the timeline of events which clearly place the onus on this bit of cooked up controversy squarely at the feet of both the Worldwide Leader and Jalen Rose. Rose is their employee. Rose was part of the Fab Five. ESPN’s 30 for 30 chronicled the impact of the Fab Five. The message of the documentary was that none of these kids, especially Jalen, did not benefit financially as much as the university did and the NCAA did from their accomplishments which were two Final Fours, and zero championships.
Of course, there’s a bit of a problem with that logic. While it may be true that the Fab Five did not immediately benefit from their popularity, their hype multiplied their status among NBA scouts who grouped all of them as one collective body of talent. Juwan Howard was a number 5 draft pick in the 1994 NBA draft. Jalen Rose was the 13th pick in the NBA draft. He got his money. And then some. Not only from their obvious talent but also from the hype that his group of rogue super freshmen group created.
One major voice missing was Chris Webber who did not appear for reasons still yet unknown. His involvement with a booster, Ed Martin, caused Michigan to relinquish any accomplishments that the university had from that era. Maybe he did not want to relive moments like the timeout heard round the world. Maybe he just grew tired of hearing that question. Maybe he likes Jalen Rose as much as I do and found it unappealing to help Jalen in any conquest to recoup money.
Whatever the case may be, I found the documentary to be insightful yet completely one sided. Jalen Rose made himself and his band of brothers out to be victims when one could hardly call them that. They were rockstars. They got more attention for a team who’s collective record would normally draw a yawn. They had talent yes, but failed to bring home the gold and more often than not THAT is what made them great. You either wanted to see them fail OR you wanted them to win and give a big middle finger to the critics. Either way, the Fab Five were a polarizing group of players who wore baggy shorts and black socks.
Michigan had two major things going for them:
The timing of their fashion sense was impeccable. Hip Hop was emerging as a major form of urban expression and for white America they didn’t understand the opinion of young black males who looked at their well to do white friends and saw a system corrupt and unwilling to allow them access. White America at the time did not understand that position. They believed the “everyone has equal rights” line and America once again refused to have a full fledged discourse on race. The Fab Five were young freshmen who came in and after being covered nationally became symbols of that hip hop generation with the way they wore their basketball shorts and openly praised hip hop music.
2. They had a perfect opponent in Duke. Naturally they played in the one and only national championship game that group went to against Duke who represent the elitist tradition in our culture. Duke are more than just Blue Devils, they are Blue Blood and stand for everything that Michigan, with the Fab Five were not. Jalen Rose harped on this subject. He felt they were all uncle Toms. They thought Christian Laettner was soft. That Duke only recruited black players with the wonderful family that Grant Hill came from. They were the perfect foil for the dream story that Michigan wanted to write.
I think, like anything, our memories provide a much more glossy look at that team than what actually happened. We put too much weight on their affect on society and tend to remember the legend more than the actual product which didn’t really amount to much. That group took more away from Michigan than it brought. True, it brought a lot of attention to the Wolverine basketball program, but it also put too much pressure and warranted much more attention from the NCAA investigators who tend to shut down programs like the Wolverines for reasons that they say have nothing to do with race.
There are two ways to look at this. One is to understand Grant Hill’s side which was placed as an op ed in the NY Times. Or you can agree with ESPN and Jalen Rose by reading this. Either way, my take on it is this. The thoughts and opinions about Duke and its players were that of an 18 year old Jalen Rose and he made that very clear when he said that. While some may feel that Grant Hill didn’t need to defend himself, I think his letter still served a purpose.
Society as a whole continues to look at race as a subject that has the cooties. We better not touch it because it would begin a long debate that we don’t feel comfortable in. By we, I mean everyone. Black people and white people and yellow people and brown people. Nobody wants to really talk about a subject that they find hard to put into words without it looking like they are racist.
Grant Hill’s upbringing was great, but it also represents a stark contrast to what Jalen Rose grew up in. Those two worlds are whats at fight here, not Jalen Rose and Grant Hill. While its sad that Rose grew up knowing who his father was yet never meeting him, it goes to show you that he rose from those surroundings and became a well to do person with a successful career. My opinion of his skills in that career may not be the most flattering but I don’t begrudge his success. He’s good at making himself feel wanted and THAT is a skill that even I find hard to master.
The ends are most important, not the means. Jalen Rose’s story is inspirational and one that many kids can look at as something to aspire to- it shouldn’t be one that brings conflict. The sad part of all this is that it once again brings to the forefront the problem with race discussions. They aren’t looking for solutions, they want their voices and opinions heard. That’s all.
I didn’t think the documentary was as awesome as people thought, and maybe it had something to do with the direction of the discussion after. Its sad. That group does deserve a place in history. Maybe not where Jalen Rose thinks they belong but a spot nonetheless.
NFL’s Ridiculous Discussion
Have we mentioned that the ill will between players and owners is not going away? Sigh
@judybattista- New York Times NFL Writer Judy Battista.
The Twenty first century has come to everyone BUT the NFL apparently. Over the weekend as discussions went absolutely nowhere, the NFL through Roger Goodell and the NFLPA exchanged letters, typed up on Microsoft Notepad probably, expressing their sides view on why a deal did not get done. While there isn’t an internet copy of Roger Gooddell’s letter, there is one of the players response and here it is. In it, they outline the proposal that Goodell said the players should have taken and go point by point as to why they could not. The opening to the letter says it all:
“We start by reminding you that we were there at the negotiations and know the truth about what happened,”
Listen, I dont know what happened during the negotiations that have made this a disaster, but what I do know is that the first I heard about the owners making an offer was during the 11th hour of negotiations which made it so that the players had to rush to make a decision and the players did the right thing by reeling it back and taking their time.
Look, I’m not picking sides but if those facts are accurate, the owners tried to pull a fast one and couldn’t get away with it. All I know is that the fans are the ones losing out here as millionaires fight billionaires and no one seems to consider that. Neither side is willing to negotiate on good terms because there’s too much money involved.
I’m still maintaining my original premise that the NFL will have a longer hold out than the NBA does because there’s too much money in the NFL and not enough in the NBA. Simple as that.
“NCAA officiating boss John Adams was asked on CBS/Turner what he’d say to Pitt fans: “Don’t foul with hardly any time left on the clock.”
@sportswatch- Neil Best writer, Newsday
Ok, so my bracket is basically in the toilet and so is most of America’s. There was a stat that said that at the beginning of the NCAA tournament 3.9 million brackets had been filled out and by the end of the first day only a few people got it all right. That’s the FIRST DAY!
Incredibly I had the Morehead State upset over Louisville but have since seen half of my Final Four go kaput. But I dont want this to be about that.
The dumbest argument has been one carried out by most of America’s talking heads that the Big East is overrated. That the Big Least didn’t deserve to have as many teams as they did make the tournament. I find it funny because it really had legs once Charles Barkley said it.
Charles Barkley. The NBA analyst who admirably has not tried to pass himself off as an NCAA expert and has admitted to not knowing a thing about college sports but has been dispatched by the higher ups in Atlanta to help in their coverage of the tournament.
I get why he’s on, but for him to pass this opinion off as fact is misleading and downright stupidity on his part which, let’s face it, isn’t something new. Barkley likes to say things without thinking which has created for him a pretty nice niche out there and has made him a very likeable funny person who everyone enjoys hearing and from time to time he expresses opinions we wish some of the analysts would say but are afraid to. Barkley knows that he has untouchable status at this point and will get a slap on the wrist as opposed to being fired if he says anything remotely controversial. He’s the breadwinner for TNT/TBS and so has the right to run his mouth.
But let’s just say for argument’s sake that we take Charles Barkley up on his argument. IS the Big East overrated? For me it isn’t. The tournament is not exposing the Big East, its just proving that the hottest team wins, not necessarily the better team. If you were to have some of these mid majors play Big East teams in a best of 7 series, how many of the would win? I’m waiting. Yeah. I didn’t think so. So let’s stop that argument right then and there. The Big East IS a better conference than most because it produces more talent, it recruits more talent and it plays a physical style of basketball that most other conferences don’t play. Losing one game does NOT mean that this team sucks or that team sucks. There’s a reason why everyone talks up George Mason as this major Cinderella story or VCU or Gonzaga in years prior- because they were not EXPECTED to beat the teams they beat. So if you are assigning favorites in a game, losing in a one game playoff means that for that one game, that team was better. For that ONE night. Not overall. Let’s begin to use our heads here people. Let’s come off the anti-Big East bandwagon.
Sir Charles is just mad that he never won a national championship because the Big East teams were kicking the SEC’s ass EVERY YEAR in the tournament. Suck on that Sir Charles.
I just had to post this for those who were not there for it or didn’t hear about this. First off, Butler’s head coach Brad Edwards is starting to resemble the second coming of Coach K. What a brilliant coach who is leading yet another deep run into the NCAA’s. Who knows where this will lead, perhaps a rematch of last year’s classic game that went down to the last shot? But let’s break down this last 7.1 seconds in the Butler/Pitt game.
7.1- Butler out of the timeout calls a fantastic play that ends with Drew Smith putting in an easy lay up that left 2.2 seconds on the clock.
Now, comes the fun.
2.2- Pitt throws in the ball to Gilbert Brown who runs to get the pass but at the same time Sheldon Mack is coming with his arms raised and lands on him and gets the foul called. Now, at this point I originally thought it was a terrible call but when you look at the replays its clear that Mack made a horrendously stupid play. An overzealous play by a guy who had done everything in this game to help Butler win scoring 30 points. Originally there were .009 seconds left.
At 1:01 in the video the announcer suggests that there should be more time on the clock. While the refs sort it out, Sheldon Mack tries to work some mind games on Gilbert Brown and lines up right next to him on the free throw line. As the refs take their time Mack is trying to talk Brown out of being the hero. By the way, I LOVE when guys do this. I remember when Lebron went up to Gilbert Arenas (any correlation between the Gilberts?) and whispered something and Arenas missed the free throw. I thought, wow, what a great move by Lebron. Here was no exception. Mack was going to do everything in his power to make sure that Brown’s head was not clear for the two biggest free throws of his life.
Refs put 1.4 seconds on the clock. Brown hits the first one. No timeouts for Butler. He misses the second one, Matt Howard comes up with the ball and immediately throws up a shot as he’s being held on to by Nasir Robinson and a foul gets called.
Unbelievable. Howard makes the first, and purposely misses the second one and the rebound goes to Pitt and even though the shot happened after the buzzer sounded his 3/4 heave almost went in.
Why did I select this particular game? Because afterwards Seth Davis echoed a sentiment that undoubtedly many feel: refs have to swallow the whistle with 1.4 seconds unless its such an eggregious foul and in my mind I was like: WHAT?!??!?!
That makes absolutely zero sense. I dont get how you could make the case that its ok for referees to not make certain calls because of the amount of time left on the clock. If anything there’s more impetus for them to make the right call at that time than anything. Mind you, Davis made this opinion AFTER admitting that he thought those two calls WERE fouls. Referees have one job: to call the game fair. We’ve seen plenty of games in which the refs have made terrible calls late in games and been hammered for it, and fairly I might add. So how can someone make the case that its ok for referees to swallow their whistle with that kind of time left in such an important game? That non call on the Howard foul may have helped Pittsburgh and Butler would’ve cried foul at the NCAA for abusing their Mid Major brethren.
I realize its a never ending battle but let’s end the hypocrisy and keep it real.
The Links and things you sing about bring em out.
– The anti-bully PSA for those who haven’t seen it.
– Probably one of the best posse shows I’ve seen. GOOD MUSIC afterparty with Nas, Mos Def, De La Soul, Will I Am, and others in the background. Love it.
What’s coming down the pike:
Carmelo Anthony said yesterday that the Knicks may take some time to gel before they make any noise. That is an honest assessment from a guy who naturally fears the backlash that inevitably will come from a fan base that suddenly has a lot more expectations from its talented yet inexperienced with each other bunch. I’m not saying that Melo is at fault. As a matter of fact, I think Melo has plenty of reason to believe what he believes, I just think that the nature of this team has changed now with two superstars and other players may not feel as much a part of what the Knicks are trying to do. I will explore more in depth about that chism that clearly exists.
– A podcast soon? Me thinks its a possibility.
– Have a great week.
As usual we leave you with another inspiring thought from the very wise Ron Artest: