Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Randomness While I Apply For Umpire School
- It's official, I honestly believe I can do a better job being an umpire than the umps in baseball. I can never be an NHL ref since I can't skate and the NBA and NFL referees actually have a harder job than people think due to the speed of each game. Baseball umpires just stand there and can just wait until a play comes to them. Consider the following missed calls this postseason: The Brandon Inge ball hitting the jersey, the C.B. Bucknor performance at first base in Game 1 of the Red Sox-Angels series, Phil Cuzzi forgetting that the foul line is fair, and lastly the unforgettable performance as a crew Tuesday night (particularly Tim McClelland) that MLB would be in worse shape if not for CC Sabathia shutting down the Angels last night.
- While I'm giving benefit to the doubt to NFL referees, the best conference in college football, the SEC, all of a sudden have the worst group of officials in sports, even with the putrid baseball umpires effort. It's not just about the LSU/Georgia celebration penalties, but last weeks Arkansas/Florida game was almost fixed in the timing of the gift calls for Florida. First a weak pass interference call, then a simply wrong personal foul penalty ensured that almighty Tim Tebow would get to keep the Gators unbeaten. Good job by the SEC though for suspending those officials for the next few weeks, hopefully it sends a message, although a strong one would be firing them.
- This week has been full of weird stories. First the balloon boy mess that if we just realized the family was on WifeSwap and the kid's name is Falcon, we would of knew it was fake and no longer waste time on this (great work by the Huffington Post here). Next, talk about "What a moment", we have the Jim Nantz divorce proceedings where Nantz now is dating a 29-year old and the biggest issue of contention is the placement of a portrait of Nantz in a warehouse because the former Mrs. didn't want it hanging in the mansion. Finally, this story about Steve Phillips cheating on his wife with a 20-year old intern, who then goes Glenn Close on his wife, is funny on so many levels, 75 % of them because of the girl he chose. Based on that decision, I'm quite certain that Steve Phillips would have made the Scott Kazmir-Victor Zambrano trade, like his successor Jim Duquette did. Yesterday seemed like the start of a war with ESPN at Deadspin, as they have now been reporting outing all of ESPN's behind the scenes trysts (since it's not public, I won't name them on the site).
- I wanted to touch on the NY Rangers who lost the other night to end a seven game winning streak as it seemed like John Tortorella had Stephen Valiquette play in net to prove a point, that the last few wins were because of Henrik Lundqvist in net, not by their good play in those games. Hopefully, the players learned something, but a couple of shoutouts since I was at the game Monday night. The first goes to Jed Ortmeyer, the former Ranger and two-time Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award winner who returned to the Garden in a Sharks uniform and scored a goal and was making hits and flying all over the ice. My best memory of Ortmeyer was his first goal after a pulmonary embolism on a penalty shot against the Bruins, another game that I was there watching from the blue seats. The other shoutout goes to Michael Del Zotto, who despite the loss, scored another goal and is playing out of his mind. He's the best power play quarterback since Leetch and he's the next superstar in New York, mark my words.
- It's a good thing I didn't write a comprehensive NFL posts since Week 1 because it saved you from a bunch of "the Giants are great" columns and it saved me from the taunts of my readers who are at best non-Giants fans and at worst those who loathe the team (i.e. Eagles fans, Cowboys fans). I still like this team and I'm not going to overreact to the loss against the Saints, but for the Giants, the important thing to do is win the NFC East and the division is weaker this season. Washington's got this boulder of a situation with Jim Zorn and the Cowboys are in the third year under Wade Phillips who now you just can't even look at without thinking "This is my coach?" As for the Eagles, they are still good, but I always have the feeling they give away more regular season games than they should because the Donovan McNabb/Andy Reid tandem does cost them 2-4 games a year.
- So much for the Sanchise talk. It's not just that everyone's off the Mark Sanchez bandwagon, it's that Mark Sanchez was driving that bandwagon fine, then thought he could drive in oncoming traffic, then hit a guardrail and tumbled into a ditch. Now, I haven't declared this statement a failure, he's a rookie, he'll have bad games. However, it's time for me to officially tell Jets fans to settle down.
- After the Dez Bryant for Heisman campaign I ran ended like Rudy Giuliani's presidential bid, I have a new player that should be in front of every voters ballot, Mark Ingram of Alabama. First of all, the Crimson Tide are the best team in the nation right now, they have done better than Florida for much of this season and Ingram has been the main reason. The key stat is that he has 568 yards rushing against Virginia Tech, Mississippi and South Carolina. If the Tide end up finishing unbeaten, there's no better Heisman candidate, especially if Colt McCoy continues to play ordinary.
- Congratulations to the Philadelphia Phillies for repeating as National League champs. The Yankees should have joined them in the World Series, but they allowed the Angels to send this series back to New York. Here are four names I find responsible; Joe Girardi should have taken out A.J. Burnett to start the seventh inning and in a move that isn't being discussed, he should have pulled Phil Hughes after the game-tying single to Vladimir Guerrero for Phil Coke to face Kendry Morales and turn him right-handed (sidebar, how in the world do you pinch run A-Rod, there's no argument you can make that makes it a good move. At least it didn't bite the Yanks, it could have if the Yanks tie). Burnett deserves a lion's share of blame; he was terrible in the first inning and then couldn't handle the success of a Yankee comeback (second sidebar, that's it with the Burnett/Molina experiment, now it's Jorge Posada at catcher for good). I completely disregard the 2nd-6th innings because there's no pressure for A.J. and when the pressure is back, Burnett chokes. That's why you take him out, along with the long top of the 7th.
As far as Hughes, he angered me most of all. He had no command of his fastball when facing Torii Hunter and against Guerrero, he gets a 1-2 count with a curveball in the dirt. Then, Hughes shakes off Posada and throws a fastball that Hughes misses in the zone and Guerrero ties it. Now, come on Hughes YOU DON'T THROW A 1-2 FASTBALL TO GUERRERO!!!! You don't, make Guerrero chase a pitch outside or tail him inside. It's time for Girardi to move Dave Robertson into the setup role as Rivera's bridge because both Hughes and Chamberlain haven't been to put it lightly automatics; to put it blunt, they have been terrible. Finally, Nick Swisher, he may be a good clubhouse guy, but he's awful at the plate. He should of taken some pitches from Brian Fuentes, who was brutal in that ninth inning (third sidebar; Mike Scioscia was pulling a Girardi last night, first by taking out John Lackey, then by bringing in Jeppsen to face Cano in the seventh and by taking out Jered Weaver who was dealing for Fuentes, who is so nerve-wracking. Imagine Jim Leyland managing with Fuentes as his closer, he have to save a full pack of Marlboro Reds exclusively for his save attempts). Instead Swisher, swings at the first two pitches, somehow rallys back to 3-2 then a pop-up to lose it. The Yankees are lucky to have CC Sabathia ready for Game 7, which could kill them in the World Series if he has to pitch.
- Since this is coming out Friday afternoon, let's do some housekeeping. My NFL/College picks column will be out either later tonight or tomorrow morning. I will have an NBA preview, probably Monday, if not before the Tuesday openers. Finally, I will have a World Series preview on Wednesday.