Crashburn Crapshoot

The Tigers/Marlins Trade

There’s no doubt that the acquisition of Miguel Cabrera alone makes the Tigers instant World Series contenders. Then you factor in that they also got Dontrelle Willis, whose 2007 season might have just been a fluke (though it’s not hard to fathom that, given his irregular mechanics, he’s lost his touch).

In return for a top-three third baseman and a #2-esque left-handed starting pitcher, the Tigers had to give up six — count ‘em, six — prospects including Cameron Maybin and Andrew Miller.

Frankly, I’m surprised that the Tigers got them that cheaply. Think about it — the Tigers get four collective arbitration-eligible years with Cabrera and Willis, and if they walk to free agency afterwards, they get four high draft picks as compensation, basically recouping what they gave up to get them in the first place.

As for the Marlins, well, what reasons do they have left to convince Floridians to show up to their games? For the team’s sake, I hope this trade precedes a move out of Miami to somewhere where they get more than a handful of fans per game and can afford to keep their star players for more than a few years.

They are getting some good prospects in return, though, and could be contenders as soon as 2009. Of course, they could also pull a 2006 and contend in ’08 (am I being confusing here?).

The Inge Effect

Now that Miguel Cabrera is taking over third base for the Tigers, that likely makes Brandon Inge available. He’s owed about $17 million over the next three years, which is affordable when you think about the contracts that have been offered both this off-season and last. With Pat Gillick urging Tadahito Iguchi (a second baseman) to re-sign with the Phillies as their regular third baseman, he should take a look at trying to acquire Inge instead.

Inge is exceptional with the glove and isn’t too shabby with the bat. Rather than have Iguchi play a position he’s unfamiliar with and might not be able to play, just trade a mid-level prospect to the Tigers and third base is a problem solved. The only advantage Iguchi has over Inge is his ability to get on base.

Body Image

With the controversy over some pictures of Jennifer Love Hewitt resulting in her concern about other girls’ body images, I thought it’d be funny to apply it to the one player in baseball that gets a lot of heat about his weight: Miguel Cabrera.

As you may recall, ESPN ran a column in mid-July about Miguel Cabrera’s weight. The author, Jorge Aranguire Jr., said:

Florida fans from Hialeah to Homestead are wondering if he’s eating his way out of an all-time great career.

I’m going to make a much-belated response to that on the behalf of Cabrera.

This is the last time I will address this subject.

I’ve sat by in silence for a long time now about the way baseball players’ bodies are constantly scrutinized. To set the record straight, I’m not upset for me, but for all of the baseball players out there that are struggling with their body image.

250 pounds is not fat! Nor will it ever be. And being 222 pounds doesn’t make you beautiful.

What I should be doing is celebrating some of the best days of my career and my fresh start in Detroit, instead of having to deal with sports journalists writing invasive articles from bad angles. I know what I look like, and so do my teammates and coaches. And like all baseball players out there should, I love my body.

To all baseball players with butts, beer guts, flab and a waist, put on a uniform — put it on and stay strong.

Try Again, Mutts

The rumors have the New York Mets offering Phil Humber, Aaron Heilman, and Carlos Gomez to the Baltimore Orioles. MLB.com‘s Jim Molony said that offer was “politely declined.”

That may be putting it nicely.

Given that Bedard is in demand, if I’m the Orioles, I’m asking the Mets for Gomez (who compares to Willy Taveras), Pedro Feliciano (same ceiling as Heilman but he’s left-handed), Humber, and Mike Pelfrey (who looks like a #4 pitcher at best). Still, that might not even be worth it.

Regardless, adding Bedard doesn’t really push the Mets too far in the proverbial power rankings. They’ll need not only Bedard, but another pitcher as well, to have a rotation that compares favorably to that of the Phillies.

Those Crazy Zebras

The Baltimore Ravens have only themselves to blame for their last-minute loss to the still-unbeaten New England Patriots. That was a hold on fourth down by Jamaine Winborne. And that was unsportsmanlike conduct by Bart Scott.

But yes, it is questionable whether Jabar Gaffney had control of the ball or not. Even if he didn’t, it still benefited the Ravens to get the ball back with around 45 seconds left. If it’s second and goal, assume another 8 seconds or so gets ticked off. Third and goal, another 8 seconds. Fourth and goal, another 8 seconds.

Now, it’s beneficial to the Ravens assuming the Patriots do get that touchdown. Granted, the Ravens played decent defense on the Patriots all night, but the only reason the Patriots were even behind with one minute to go in the fourth quarter is because of so many dropped passes by Patriots receivers. Given the Pats’ offensive proficiency, they’d get that touchdown more often than not.

So, it was better for the Ravens to get it back with 45 seconds or so instead of, perhaps, 20. It didn’t work out for them anyway, but the ability to throw over the middle and subsequently call a time-out or spike the ball was there, adding to the chance to score.

The referees did not cost the Ravens the game. And no, Tim Dahlberg and other conspiracy theorists, the NFL is not fixing games in the Patriots’ favor.

The Anthem (Warning: Soapbox)

There was some unrest as a result of Pittsburgh’s failure to play the national anthem before their rain- and mud-soaked fultili-fest with the Miami Dolphins on November 26.

Can we please stop being so concerned with symbolism and ritual? The national anthem has been played so much it has lost any meaning it may have had, especially post-9/11. It’s simple economics, the more of something you have, the less valuable it becomes.

I’m willing to compromise. Just play the anthem before the Super Bowl, and cut it out of every other game. In baseball, play it on Opening Day and before the first game of the World Series. Other sports can follow suit. And for all sports, play the anthem on holidays like Memorial Day.

As for the article I linked to concerning this subject, notice the bad logic used:

Bad enough football has taken away all our free time in the fall and early winter. Now, it’s going to take away our patriotism?

Now it’s unpatriotic to not play the national anthem? Sorry, you’re not patriotic because you have an affection for a song, adhere “Rah-rah, America!” bumper stickers to the back of your car, and fly a flag in front of your house. True patriots don’t need quasi-religious jingoism to reassure them of their allegiance to this country. True patriots don’t follow the pack; true patriots question and hold accountable those in charge instead of accepting the status quo in a false hope that this makes them “real Americans.”

And personally, I refuse to honor The Star-Spangled Banner while this current administration is in power (and probably the next, given the dearth of good candidates running for the ’08 presidency). Am I unpatriotic for that — for not supporting the un-American, unconstitutional, and inhumane policies of the Bush administration?

Pardon.

Political Correctness Has Gone Too Far

Following the New England Patriots’ complete destruction of the Buffalo Bills’ defense, we learned two things: Andrea Kremer would totally go out with Tom Brady, and the Patriots are offensive (pun!!1!) simply by taking the field and playing the game they’re paid to play.

It wasn’t the first time the Patriots have beaten an opponent as severely as they beat the Bills, and, not surprisingly, it wasn’t the first time they’ve been accused of “running up the score.”

24, 24, 31, 21, 17, 21, 45, 4, and 46. Those are the Patriots’ margins of victory in their ten games this season. That’s an average margin of victory of  over 23 points.

The latest wails of “running up the score” came after the Patriots twice went for the touchdown on fourth down instead of settling for a field goal in the Bills game. The oft-cited “unwritten rules” were brought up, that it is unethical to go for it on fourth down if you’re enjoying a comfortable lead.

This rule applies to almost any team sport, especially baseball, where, if you’re up by about 8 runs or so, it becomes unethical to steal bases, bunt, bring in your better pitchers, and try trick plays.

It’s just an example of how no one can be offended anymore in this country. On this blog, as well as in many other venues, I’ve made what some consider extremely liberal claims (e.g. drugs should be legalized), but one liberal issue I completely abhor is political correctness. It’s often hypocritical and almost always an infringement on First Amendment rights. The Patriots didn’t even speak — they simply played a game well.

Here’s a list of people you can’t offend in this country:

  • Homosexuals
  • Bisexuals
  • Transgenders
  • Christians
  • Jews
  • African-Americans
  • Women
  • Anyone who knows anyone who knows anyone who is in the armed forces
  • The Bush administration, and the government in general
  • The disabled (note: not referring to the Bush administration)
  • People who are squeamish when it comes to violence or “foul”  language
  • NEW: Bad sports teams, or otherwise good teams simply getting demolished

It’s politically correct to not run up the score. It’s politically correct to not brag and to modestly acknowledge your success.

It’s politically incorrect to humorously reference a movie about homosexuality — still a fine source of humor for many in the comedy industry — and analogize it to basketball, as Phil Jackson did.

Back to the Patriots — what did the P.C. people want Belichick to do instead? Kick a field goal and tack on more points? At least if he goes for it on fourth down, he gives the Bills defense a chance to step it up and prevent them from scoring any points. At that point, with the Patriots leading as emphatically as they were, the difference between a touchdown and a field goal (four points) was moot anyway.

Isn’t it more insulting to “play down” to your opponent after you get out to a sizable lead? It says, at least to me, “I’m so good, I don’t even need to try hard to beat you. I can take out all of our best players and play second- and third-stringers.”

Don’t want the Patriots to run up the score? Keep them out of the end zone.  That was the response Leon Grant of the Seattle Seahawks gave to reporters when asked about Chad Johnson’s touchdown celebrations (another thing you’re not allowed to do when the P.C. police are around):

 And though none of the Seahawks wants to witness one of Johnson’s elaborate celebrations, they are more concerned with the reason it would occur rather than the act itself.

“My mentality is that if you don’t want a guy to do all of that on you, just keep him out of the end zone,” Grant said.

The Patriots will continue to win by at least three touchdowns, and will kick sand in the face of their opponents as they go for the fourth on fourth down.

Why?

I’ve been doing some thinking lately (not a frequent activity of mine), and I have some questions that need some answers. Maybe my readers can help me out.

Warning for those with weak stomachs: Heavy political content.

Why do we get upset when head coaches spy on their opponents

…but hardly anyone gets upset when the government starts spying on its own people via wiretap, seizing personal records (bank and library, for example), among other methods?

Why do we get upset when an athlete tortures dogs

…but applaud the government torturing human beings for political reasons?

Why do we get upset when managers leave pitchers in too long

…but no one takes action when the President leaves the troops in the Middle East too long?

Why do we get upset when the commissioner hands out ridiculous punishments to athletes and coaches

…but it’s A-okay to hand out ridiculous punishments to Americans and foreigners alike if you are merely suspected — not proven — to be involved with terrorism?

Why do we get choked up when Kevin Everett suffers a life-altering neck injury

…but say nary a word about the kids being paralyzed and killed in a meaningless war?

Why do we feel sorry for the disabled NFL players who aren’t getting enough disability coverage from the NFL players union

…but continue to shoot down socialized health care in the United States?

Why do we insist at least one minority be interviewed for a head coaching position

…but continue to send out two majorities from which to nominate the U.S. President?

Why do we criticize the Florida Marlins front office for not planning for an obviously upcoming problem

…but give our government a free pass when they failed to prepare for Hurricane Katrina?

Why do we detest athletes and coaches who make public their worship of a deity

…but watch from the sidelines as Christians try to put prayer back in public schools, have creationism taught alongside evolution, and religious dogma hung on courthouse walls?

Why do we frown at fights between fans of different teams

…but attribute fights between sects in Iraq to business-as-usual?

Why did we shake our heads when Latrell Sprewell said “I have a family to feed” in reference to his contract situation…

…but didn’t bat an eye when our Congresspeople voted for a payraise for themselves?

Why do we demand to hear the truth from Bud Selig about the Steroid Era

…but didn’t demand the truth from the Bush administration for many of their wrongdoings?

Why did we lose respect for Tony LaRussa and when he was found intoxicated in an automobile

…but didn’t lose respect for Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy (D-RI) when he crashed his car into a barricade as a result of being on prescription drugs?

Switching it in reverse before I sign off!

Why did we petition for a Hall of Fame plaque in Cooperstown for Pete Rose amid his gambling issue

…but have said nothing about Congress “severely limiting” online poker?

Hopefully, I will find out answers to these questions. I’m not trying to diminish that about which we are vocal, but I think it’s interesting to note where our priorities lie.

2007 NFL Predictions

It’s almost time for regular season football, and you know what that means. Predictions. These are my “incredibly genius now, incredibly stupid later” picks (note: I’m pretty sure the records add up to 256-256). +/- of last season’s record in parentheses.

AFC East

Patriots: 13-3 (+1)
Jets: 10-6 (0)
Dolphins: 5-11 (-1)
Bills: 4-12 (-3)

AFC North

Ravens: 10-6 (-3)
Bengals: 10-6 (+2)
Steelers: 8-8 (0)
Browns: 3-13 (-1)

AFC South

Colts: 11-5 (-1)
Jaguars: 8-8 (0)
Texans: 7-9 (+1)
Titans: 7-9 (-1)

AFC West

Chargers: 12-4 (-2)
Broncos: 9-7 (0)
Chiefs: 7-9 (-2)
Raiders: 6-10 (+4)

NFC East

Eagles: 11-5 (+1)
Cowboys: 9-7 (0)
Giants: 8-8 (0)
Redskins: 6-10 (+1)

NFC North

Chicago: 11-5 (-2)
Minnesota: 8-8 (+2)
Detroit: 6-10 (+3)
Green Bay: 6-10 (-2)

NFC South

Saints: 10-6 (0)
Panthers: 8-8 (0)
Buccaneers: 6-10 (+2)
Falcons: 5-11 (-2)

NFC West

Seahawks: 10-6 (+1)
49ers: 9-7 (+2)
Rams: 7-9 (-1)
Cardinals: 6-10 (+1)


Playoffs

AFC

1. Patriots
2. Chargers

3. Colts
4. Ravens
5. Jets
6. Bengals

3. Colts > 6. Bengals
4. Ravens > 5. Jets

1. Patriots > 4. Ravens
2. Chargers > 3. Colts

1. Patriots > 2. Chargers

NFC

1. Bears
2. Eagles

3. Saints
4. Seahawks
5. 49ers
6. Cowboys

3. Saints > 6. Cowboys
5. 49ers > 4. Seahawks

1. Bears > 5. 49ers
3. Saints > 2. Eagles

1. Bears > 3. Saints

SUPER BOWL

Patriots > Bears

Feel free to post your predictions and tell me how wrong mine are in the comments.