Rest In Peace, Steve McNair

I certainly did not know Steve McNair. All reports are that he was a good person in addition to being a good football player. I will remember him as an intense competitor who played the game with class and sportsmanship. Requiescat in pace, Steve McNair.

With Manny Ramirez returning to the Dodgers last weekend, it is fair to note that the Dodgers had the best record in baseball when he went out on his 50-game suspension and they still have the best record in baseball upon his return. That sentence alone is sufficient to assure that Manny Ramirez is NOT the MVP of the National League no matter what he does between now and the end of the season.

In Manny’s absence, Juan Pierre rose to the task of filling his spot in the line-up. Juan Pierre hit .317 over that 50 game stretch, stole 21 bases and scored 31 runs. Not too shabby…

Let me interject a note here from Scott Ostler of the SF Chronicle, which sums up very cogently a minor story from the recent past:

“Michael Jordan’s son Jeff quits the Illinois basketball team, issuing a prepared statement. Prepared statement? Heir Jordan averaged 1.0 points. Here’s your prepared statement: ‘I suck, I’m outta here.’ ”

Sony Pictures pulled the plug at the last minute on a film that was going to highlight Billy Beane and “Moneyball”. Brad Pitt was to play Billy Beane. I’m sure that Sony had its reasons for this cancellation but one of them had to be that the baseball-stat-dweeb demographic is small and that is the only demographic likely to be attracted to a movie about Billy Beane. The movie is not nearly as interesting now as it might have been five or six years ago for a simple reason.

    Moneyball as demonstrated by the Oakland A’s over the past couple of years has been a miserable product. Oh by the way, what statistical analysis and cost/value calculation made it wise to offer Matt Holiday $13.5M last winter?

    Maybe Moneyball was an overhyped concept to begin with?

    Maybe the successful Moneyball era was an aberration and not a harbinger of things to come in baseball?

    I do not know but I do know this: I would not go to see a movie about Billy Beane and his life and his triumphs over Herculean obstacles. Not today, not ever.

Al Davis and George Steinbrenner share a birthday. OK all of your astrology mavens out there, tell me what that means…

The Memphis Grizzlies continue to astound. This is the team that traded Pau Gasol essentially for Kwame Brown. This is the team that, last year, signed Darius Miles after the TrailBlazers were happy to cut ties with him and no other team in the league had even a mild interest. Miles gave the Grizzlies all of 3.5 points per game and 1.7 rebounds per game but because the Grizzlies signed him, he was not eligible for the NBA All-Pariah Team last year. Now the Grizzlies traded for Zach Randolph making the Grizzlies Randolph’s fifth NBA team since the start of the 2007/08 season. In addition, to top it off, there are reports that the Grizzlies are talking to and considering signing Allen Iverson as a free agent. All you can say to that is, “Wow!”

If they have Miles, Randolph and Iverson on the roster, one of the team colors sure looks as if it is purple and so they can market that team as the “Purple Gang”.

There are reports that Trevor Ariza signed a deal with Houston that was exactly the same money as the one he had been offered by Los Angeles ($33M for 5 years). Then he said he had to take care of his family and that is why he went to Houston. Let us analyze:

    Money in both places is reportedly the same. That is what takes care of the family. No advantage in signing with either team there.

    Chance to win more championships is higher in LA. Moreover, if Yao Ming’s injury is career ending and with the loss (to LA ironically) of Ron Artest, the Rockets may be on a precipitous downhill slide. Advantage LA.

    There is a chance for Ariza to start in Houston and that was not gonna happen in LA. That does not “take care of the family” but it does “take care of the ego”. Game, set and match. Houston is the place he needs to be…

Speaking of “game, set and match”, the Wimbledon men’s final was a great tennis match. Some have said it was the greatest finals match in Wimbledon’s history; I am not nearly sufficiently fluent in tennis lore to agree or disagree, but when the final match is decided by a score of 16-14 in the fifth set and two of the previous sets had to go to a tie-breaker, that was a great match at a great venue.

The first round of the CONCACAF Gold Cup tournament is underway for the US men’s soccer team. Every other team in the tournament has a roster of 23 players; the US will have a roster of 30 players. The US asked for this exception “due to the extreme circumstances that teams face” when they play in consecutive international tournaments so close together. Sorry, but that is a hollow argument.

If that is such a hardship, the US should have picked between the Confederations Cup and the Gold Cup and forsaken the opportunity to be in the other one. Otherwise, suck it up and play the two juxtaposed tournaments. To make the argumentation here all the thinner, this tournament is being played in the US so the US men’s soccer team will have a home field advantage too.

Over the weekend, I got an e-mail that was siphoned off by my spam filter. It was one of those e-mails that offered me the opportunity to buy Cialis or Viagra online and save 50%. Great! But the name that the spammer put there as the sender of this message was “Peter”. Oh, come on now…

Sometimes when you put two things next to one another, you have to shake your head and ask how that happened. Consider:

    For the 2009 season, Bill Belichick will reportedly earn $5M to coach the New England Patriots.

    For the 2009 season, Jim Mora Jr. will reportedly earn $5M to coach the Seattle Seahawks.

    So, is one of these guys vastly underpaid or is the other guy vastly overpaid? You make the call.

Finally, since I mentioned tennis and soccer today – - not a common occurrence to be sure – - let me close with this line from Greg Cote in the Miami Herald:

“Didn’t do any good, but soccer star David Beckham, from the Royal Box at Wimbledon, sent a good-luck note to Andy Murray on Friday. Beckham is a big tennis fan when not busy failing to lift the stature of Major League Soccer.”

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

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  • Ed  On July 6, 2009 at 3:27 am

    1.0 ppg? I wanna see MJ channel Jackie Gleason as Sheriff Buford T. Justice….

    [to his son] There’s no way, *no* way that you came from *my* loins. Soon as I get home, first thing I’m gonna do is punch yo mamma in da mouth!

  • Rob  On July 7, 2009 at 1:00 am

    Steve McNair was a great player and a true gentleman. While he came to Baltimore past his prime, he was still an exceptional team leader. He will certainly be missed.

    I didn’t get to see the Wimbledon’s Final, but I remember being astounded when I saw the final score of 16-14 on the last set. I was even more amazed that the man who took it to Federer in a losing effort was none other than Andy Roddick. Good job, Andy!

  • Rich  On July 8, 2009 at 4:15 pm

    The McNair tragedy reminds me of the ancient adage that begins, ‘…hell hath no fury’.

  • Stephen  On July 9, 2009 at 12:32 pm

    Money is the same in Houston and L.A., it just buys a lot more stuff in Houston, especially real estate.

    I still don’t think that’s the motivating factor for Ariza, unless he’s related to Latrell Sprewell and is now responsible for feeding his family as well. We all know how expensive that is.

  • The Sports Curmudgeon  On August 2, 2009 at 12:00 pm


    Good link to the Buford T. Justice character there. Wish I had thought of it first…


    I have not heard/read anything to indicate that Steve McNair was anything but a class act.


    Texas also has no state income tax so that is another advantage with regard to playing in Houston. Nonetheless, the contract was guaranteed at a figure north of $30M. The family IS taken care of no matter where the playing venue might be.

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