Bye Week Good/Bye Week Bad

In the NFL, teams play with the intention of getting a bye week in the playoffs and teams who get the bye week tend to do well after that week off. In college basketball, teams can get the equivalent of a bye week if they know they will be in the NCAA Tournament anyway; all they have to do is lose one of the early round games in their conference tournaments and they get to rest. In the case of the NFL teams, people have confidence in the teams coming back from the bye week; they are described as rested and well prepared and things like that. In college basketball, people wonder if teams coming back from a week off will be stale or if they have lost momentum. Interesting…

Oklahoma, Kansas, Pitt and UConn have had the equivalent of a bye week.

The New Jersey Nets suspended center Sean Williams for two games for “conduct detrimental to the team”. Williams was arrested earlier this week in Denver at a cellphone store in a shopping mall where he allegedly threw a computer monitor while in an argument with a store employee. Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times put this into perspective:

“Nets forward Sean Williams, arrested for allegedly throwing a computer monitor during an argument with a clerk at a Denver cellphone store, somehow escaped the charge of:

    a) disorderly conduct.

    b) criminal mischief.

    c) setting a moving screen.”

Last night, the LA Clippers hosted the Washington Wizards. At the time of tip-off, the Clippers had a record of 16-51; the Wizards checked in with an even less impressive 16-52. Attendance for the game was reported as 15,123. I have difficulty believing that many people could not find anything more interesting to do in Los Angeles last night. By the way, the Clippers won the game – - as if that might matter to anyone anywhere.

I got a note from a long-time reader wondering how I missed the opportunity for this observation:

“Matt Kemp [Dodgers’ outfielder] says he thinks he can hit 40 homeruns this year and steal 40 bases. If he does that, he will join a club with only 4 members in the history of baseball – Canseco, Barry Bonds, A-Rod and Alfonso Soriano.

“Why would anyone want to be a member of that club?”

The reason that I missed that observation is simple; I had not heard that Matt Kemp thought such a goal was within his reach.

The Washington Nationals signed Julian Tavarez to a non-guaranteed minor league contract. According to the Washington Post, Tavarez said that the more he thought about the Nats, the more attractive they looked. He said it was like going to a club at 4:00AM and waiting and all of a sudden “that 600-pounder looks like J-Lo.” I am sure the Nationals’ franchise had to be thrilled to be compared to an ugly woman who only looks good in the early morning hours while one is partially inebriated. I am not sure the Nationals had to be thrilled to learn that Tavarez is such an expert on how one’s perceptions might change at 4:00AM in a nightclub.

Notwithstanding all of that, allow me to suggest that the reason that Julian Tavarez was waiting around for a team to contact him and sign him to a deal is some combination of the following:

    1. He is 36 years old.

    2. His career ERA is 4.75.

    3. Two teams released him last year (Boston and Milwaukee).

    4. He finished the year with the Braves who did not want him back.

In a similar situation, Andruw Jones is trying to catch on with the Texas Rangers this spring. This should be easy. If Jones can hit his weight for Spring Training, not only will he make the team, he will probably bat leadoff on Opening Day.

Scott Ostler cited an interesting conundrum related to MLB in the SF Chronicle:

“I’m unclear on why MLB has put out the unwelcome mat for that Dominican doctor who is linked to steroids and Alex Rodriguez. How is that fundamentally different from Bobby Crosby and Matt Holliday working all winter with Mark McGwire?”

The Yankees have torn down “The House That Ruth Built 2.0” – - having all but torn down the actual park that Babe Ruth played in back in the mid-70s. They will play in a new Yankee Stadium that ought to be called “The House That Insatiable Greed Built”. When you see the first game played in that stadium – - and indeed, you will see it – - glance over at the seats around the Yankees’ dugout. Those are the Legend Suite Seats; those are the ones that cost $2500 a game. As you look at them, ask yourself this question:

    How much taxpayer money – in the form of bailouts – might have gone into the personal exchequers of the folks sitting in those seats?

The reason you need to ask yourself that question is simple. The folks covering the game on radio or on TV or for newspapers the following morning are highly unlikely to ask it.

Finally, here is a line from Joe Torre’s book, The Yankee Years, where he talks about the challenges of managing pitchers David Wells and Kevin Brown:

“Both make your life miserable, but David Wells meant to.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports…

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  • JJC  On March 19, 2009 at 1:35 pm

    Normally, I’d be all in favor of coming down on people like Sean Williams who go above and beyond civilized society. But he was dealing with a cell phone company, which, in the paraphrasing of the late, great Sam Kinison, really knows how to turn Mr. Hand into Mr. Fist.

  • Ed  On March 19, 2009 at 2:51 pm

    One big difference between basketball and football here is for a few days after a football game, you CAN’T play again, you are beat up. You use the extra time to recover. Basketball mostly does not need that (some individuals will).

    Raw physical testing numbers are used more in football than any other sport. How many reps at 225, shuttle runs, 40 times. Football is less a matter of skill at some positions (not all) than pure athleticism. The time allows healing, and allows the athleticism.

    Basketball is a finer touch that you are afraid of losing, like baseball. If you do not use the touch, you often lose it. It must be honed.

    Mc Gwire? One difference is it is easier to keep the foreign guy out, and he has that incident with Customs already. Plus, I haven’t heard about Mark SUPPLYING others. And he doesn’t look like he is using now, his supplier may be gone (dead, busted, whatever). Not that I’d be real happy to hear about my player working out with him, but at least he has had to hit a major league fastball, play first base. He developed those skills. The other guy can’t say that.

  • The Sports Curmudgeon  On March 19, 2009 at 4:22 pm


    References to the late Sam Kinnison are always appreciated…


    I agree that there is a fundamental difference in the sleaze factor between McGwire and the “foreign guy” as you called him. However, McGwire has been seeking a job with an MLB team as a hitting instructor and should it ever come to that, I think that MLB ought to offer him the option to “talk about the past” as a prelude to getting such a position.

  • Rich  On March 20, 2009 at 12:45 am

    Here’s a Sam Kinison opening line that I have lifted from Steve Martin’s excellent ‘Born Standing Up’:
    “You’re going to see a lot of comedians tonight; some will be good, some will be okay. But there’s a difference between me and them. Them, you might want to see again sometime.”
    An unrelated thought: I have been having trouble sleeping lately. Last night I woke up from a dream in which Kentucky was in the NIT and Western Kentucky was in the NCAA. Do you give medical advice, Curmudgeon?

  • The Sports Curmudgeon  On March 20, 2009 at 12:55 am


    It’s not a dream; you need no medical attention.

    UK fans have to be unhappy. Consider:

    1. Tubby Smith is in the tournament with Minnesota – - a team UK fans probably used to call Minniehaha.

    2. Rick Pitino has Louisville in with a #1 seed.

    3. Western Kentucky has already won a first round game.

  • Ed  On March 20, 2009 at 2:02 am


    Fair enough on MM. Just as their is a big difference between a trainer and an ex-player, there is also a big difference between 2 guys choosing to train with an ex-player, and him having a formal job with a MLB club.

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