Monday, July 31, 2006

Floyd, Charles Both Big Dopes

After pulling off one of the most stirring comebacks the sport has ever seen, Floyd Landis failed a drug test putting his Tour de France victory in jeopardy. Earlier in the week it was revealed that right before he cut his 8 minute deficit to less than 10 seconds in stage 17, Landis' blood test revealed he had high levels of testosterone in his blood. Now, Floyd claims this is normal for him, and from what I've read that's certainly possible. That begs the question though, if he tested positive this time, why didn't he do so for the 6 other times he was tested during the Tour? I guess we will have to wait for that answer. The sad thing is, this is one of those stories that can mar a person and a sport, no matter what the real facts are. If and when Landis is cleared, the seeds of doubt will have already been planted in the minds of the fans. So even if the lab comes back and claims they made a mistake, or come to find out it was a normal occurrence, all people will remember is that he failed a drug test. I do hope for his sake (and for the sake of his Amish looking parents) that this was a mistake of some kind, but like I said the damage has already been done. As if cycling needed this after the retirement of it's most popular rider, but in a sport constantly tainted by doping and drug use, it was probably only a matter of time before a scandal like this completely tore it apart.

Hop on the Chuck Wagon
Apparently Charles Barkley doesn't own a TV. Because if he did, he would have seen himself on it, and realized he has no business running for a political office. That's right, Charles Barkley has decided to run for Governor of Alabama. And better yet, only a few weeks ago he changed his political affiliation from Republican to Democrat. So to recap. The "Round Mound of Rebound" went from NBA All-Star, to being misquoted in his own autobiography, to the Governor's mansion? I suppose if Jesse "The Body" Ventura was elected, than Chuck has a decent shot, but come on. I mean the guy repeatedly referred to Darko on draft night in 2003 as Darko Mil-cheech. And that was after Darko had been the topic of draft discussion for at least the previous 6 months. It's also not encouraging that when asked about what he could do to help the state of Alabama as governor, Barkley responded with "it's already so messed up, it couldn't get much worse." That's the spirit Chuck. I guess his theory is, if you have to be dirt poor and live in the dumbest state in the union, you might as well have one of the best rebounders of all time as your leader! If only the rest of the country thought that way, then we could look forward to voting for Dennis Rodman and Moses Malone in 2008!

Not Ready for Prime Time
Another Patriot's training camp begins with another star player holding out. Last year it was DT Richard Seymour, and this year all the attention is on the absence of WR Deion Branch who is refusing to attend camp until his contract is redone. Does Branch deserve more money? Of course he does. Should he be holding out? Of course not. I'm always amazed at these guys that hold out because they think their contract is unfair. Wasn't he the one that signed it in the first place? Granted the NFL's labor policy greatly favors owners, allowing them to cut players essentially whenever they want, but not allowing players to opt out of their contracts with the same freedom. But does that mean Branch can just refuse to show up or show up with an attitude? I think not. In this instance however, I think he's just trying to send the message that he feels disrespected. He's probably thinking not only is he underpaid, but the Pats signed extensions for Brady and Seymour to have their salary more accurately represent their value to the team, so why not him? Well Deion, you may be great, but those two guys I just mentioned are irreplaceable pieces, are you? I'd be inclined to say no. But that doesn't mean I want you out. The fact is, the Pats still have a large chunk of salary cap space, and if they don't use it to resign Branch, it's going to leave a lot of fans wondering why they didn't use that money to upgrade key positions in the offseason. All that being said, I still wouldn't worry. I will all but guarantee that Deion is on the field in Foxboro within the next week with a smile on his face and a dumptruck full of money in his driveway.

Red Sox Update
Last Week: 3-3
Overall: 62-41
Standings: 1st place by 1/2 game

*One major edge the Sox had going into the second half of the season was playing more games at home than anyone in the whole league. Well going 6-5 in our first 11 home games isn't exactly taking advantage of that now is it? But fear not, 14 games against Cleveland, Tampa, KC and Baltimore should get this ship pointed back in the right direction.

Diamonds Are Forever
*The non-waiver trading deadline has come and gone, with only two "major" deals going on. And to use the term major is even misleading, but seeing how Soriano, Tejada and Zito all stayed put, here are my takes on the biggest trades from the last week...

Cubs send Greg Maddux to Dodgers for Caesar Izturis: The Dodgers apparently realized like the rest of us that the NL West is still up for grabs. Sure Maddux may not even be the pitcher he was one or two years ago, but it can't hurt to add his arm to your rotation. My only problem is that Maddux is a "one and done" guy, or a rent-a-player. And seeing as the Dodgers don't realistically have a shot at winning the World Series, it may not have been the best move to trade one of their highest prospects in 6'6" 21 year old 3B Joel Guzman.

Dodgers send minor leaguers to Tampa for Julio Lugo: This deal makes a little more sense to me. Lugo is that type of player that once he hits a big market he could get the national attention to turn him into a star. While his fielding is sometimes questionable (29 errors in the past 2 years), and he's not exactly young at 30, he has the skills to get a team 20 homers, 30 doubles and 30 steals a year while hitting at about .280.

Brewers trade Carlos Lee to the Rangers: A team that needed pitching went out and got another bat? Interesting move I suppose. More likely it's just a move that's going to cost the Rangers more money and not win them anymore games, but hey what do I know.

Yankees send 4 minor leaguers to Phillies for Bobby Abreu and Cory Lidle: I think I'm the only one who thinks that Lidle is the key to this deal. Abreu makes $17 million, and plays like he should be earning about $3 million, so the only team that was going to trade for him was going to be the Yanks. Just like the Rangers, the Yankees acquired another bat they didn't need. Yeah even with Matsui, Cano, and Sheff hurt I don't think they were going to struggle scoring runs. So to me Lidle was the steal of this trade. Make no mistake about it, he's no ace, but he is a reliable #4 starter and a perfect compliment to Wang, Unit and Moose. His 4.74 ERA leaves a little to be desired, but when your team is scoring 6-8 runs a game it won't seem to matter.

Mets send Xavier Nady to Pirates for Oliver Perez and Roberto Hernandez: I like this deal for the Mets because it's very low risk and high reward. Hernandez is about 200 years old, but with Duaner Sanchez just hitting the DL, Roberto should be able to help bridge the gap and get the game to Wagner in the 9th. As for Perez, he's got about as much upside as any lefty in the majors. He's only 24, and while he's never had more than 12 wins in 4 full seasons, he's shown the raw talent to blossom into an All-Star and front end of the rotation type of pitcher. Nady was valuable to the Mets, but these two additions are necessary both for the present playoff push and the future of their aging pitching staff.

*It's every fans dream to get as close to their favorite players as they possibly can, but this is a little too much. Leland's auction house has decided to start the bidding on the urinal that used to be in the hallway separating the Red Sox dugout and their clubhouse. The auction description claims that the item has been "up close and personal" with such Sox greats as Roger Clemens, Manny Ramirez, David Ortiz and Jim Rice. The porcelain collectible was installed right before the cursed 1986 season, and removed right after the World Series title in 2004. The bidding starts at $300, but Leland's say they expect to fetch more than $2,500 for it. Only in America (and possibly England) would someone pay that much for a urinal. What I wanna know is, does it come with a Grady Little autographed urinal cake?

*I'm not much for the buzz word "revolutionize", but when it comes to Bruce Sutter it's appropriate. With his induction on Sunday, Sutter became the first pitcher to enter the Hall without ever starting a game. He may not have invented the splitter, but he perfected it. Think of great pitchers like Roger Clemens and Curt Schilling who use a splitter as their go-to pitch. Where would their careers be without Sutter's influence? And another argument that's sure to come up with Sutter's induction is, why now? Sutter had been on the ballot for 18 years before finally being elected in. What kind of retarded, backwards, George Bush type process is this? You trying to tell me that for the past 2 decades he wasn't good enough, but now all of a sudden he is? It's a terribly flawed process. Granted we are only seeing now how valuable a closer is. While in Sutter's day he was a rarity as a save specialist, these days closers are just as important as clean up guys or staff aces. Either way, the system should work so you only get one shot to be voted in. You're worthy or you're not, plain and simple.

Fantasy Update
Last Week: 10-9-3
Overall: 173-152-49 (27.5 games back)

Week 18 vs Suck It France! (167-147-60)

*It's always good when you can beat the first place team, but I was in position for a larger margin of victory. My pitching continued to struggle this week, which is why I added Yankee starter Chien Ming Wang to the mix. Needless to say I needed to change my team name. So allow me to introduce my new team.....Hanley's Wang. Enjoy.

*I'm going to keep reminding you people until you all sign up. So far the football league is scheduled to have 12 teams, but I've already heard from 14-16 people that say they want in. If you want to secure a spot I recommend contacting me ASAP for the info. Otherwise you could be left out, and we wouldn't want that now would we?


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