You Are The General Manager…

Let’s play a game today. Let’s play “You Are The General Manager”. Suppose you are a GM in the NBA and you have decided that your team would really benefit by adding a veteran guard. Who is your choice here?

    A. Allen Iverson: After all, AI is known as “The Answer” although there is some debate as to whether or not he understands what the question might be.

    B. Stephon Marbury: After watching his behavior this off-season on the Internet, can your team afford the horde of guys named Freud and Jung it might take to convince Starbury that the four guys in the game with him wearing the same color shirts are not his enemies?

    C. Mateen Cleaves: Hey, he is 32 years old and he won an NCAA championship – which neither of the other two has ever done – and he has been playing in the D-League where he averaged 13 points per game and 8 assists per game last season.

Switching sports, you are the GM of a team in MLB and you are asked to offer your opinion on which of these two teams is burdened with the worst quartet of contracts for 2009. Your anonymity is a certainty; and so, you choose to answer the question:

    A. NY Mets: Beltran $19M, Delgado $12M, Perez $12M, K-Rod $10M

    B. Chicago Cubs: Zambrano $19M, Bradley $10M, Soriano $22M, Fukodome $12M.

    You make the call…

By the way, spending loads of money on player salaries in MLB is surely not a way to assure success on the field. The Mets rank 2nd in MLB in salaries paid out this year; the Cubbies rank 3rd. Neither team is very good. Joining these teams in the Top Ten teams in player payroll this year are the Mariners, Astros and White Sox. Those are three other flawed teams too.

HOW-EVAH, the teams that spend very little – - the ones at the bottom of the spending spectrum – - do tend to be really bad. Ranking form #30 in player payroll on up are the Pirates, Marlins, Padres, A’s, Orioles, Nationals and Indians. Can we agree that among that grouping, only the Marlins are interesting?

Sticking with baseball for a moment, loads of people take it as a given that Lou Piniella is a really good manager. I am beginning to wonder about that despite the successes he had in Cincinnati and in Seattle. This is his 22nd year in charge of a major league team and in that time, Piniella has a cumulative record (through 124 games this season) of 1764-1622. That is a .520 winning percentage which in a single season would be 85-77 (roughly). I guess 85-77 every year is better than taking an ice-water enema; but pardon me, if I do not fall all over myself drooling over Sweet Lou as one of the great managers in the history of the game. And by the way, this season the Cubbies really needed some leadership and focus to get some of their high-priced talent to play up to the level that the Cubs’ AAA players showed when they had to be up on the big team and in the line-up. Said leadership and focus seems not to have been present…

Yesterday I mentioned Brad Lidge in the context of the “closer problems” that the Phillies have experienced this year. Later yesterday, I read that Brett Myers was on a rehab assignment for the Phils and that could put Charlie Manuel in an interesting position in September. He might have Lidge, Myers and Ryan Madsen in the bullpen at the same time and it is not impossible to see any of them fitting the closer role. Closer-by-committee usually does not work but in this case, it might give Charlie Manuel a chance to see who has the “hot hand” and to go with him. We shall see…

They say that patience is a virtue – - and no one has ever accused me of being virtuous. Nevertheless, once in a while a morsel of delicious irony drops into your lap. The CEO of the SPCA in Richmond VA left her deaf and blind dog in a closed car and the animal went to visit the great fire hydrant in the sky. Let me be clear; I do not rejoice in the demise of this creature in any way; I have no animus toward dogs despite the fact that I do not own one. I can say with impunity that I have never been engaged in any activity that has resulted in the death of a dog – - and the CEO of the Richmond SPCA cannot make that statement any longer. The “dog-killer” here is not an athlete or an elected official or a person with obvious deranged tendencies; the “dog-killer” here is a certified do-gooder. How unseemly…

Animal activists preach to others about how others need to behave and conduct their lives; I wonder how this woman might react the next time she is pontificating and someone asks her why she is so high and mighty when her actions led to the death of her own dog. If the Mayor of Richmond’s dog had died in similar circumstances three weeks ago, I strongly suspect we would have heard less than positive things from this woman about Hizzoner. If you read the full account of this matter from the Richmond Times-Dispatch, you will note that she has no plans to resign her position. How convenient for her…

Let me go out on a limb here for a moment and make this prediction:

    If you go to an Eagles’ game at Lincoln Financial Field this year, you are not going to hear the DJ play Who Let The Dogs Out?

    However, if you go to see the Eagles play when they come to visit your town and your team, you will most certainly hear the DJ play, Who Let The Dogs Out? and How Much Is That Doggie In The Window? and You Ain’t Nothin’ But A Hound Dog.

Finally, I got this in an e-mail from a long-term reader yesterday:

“People need to buy the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue so as to keep their sports intake Title IX compliant.”

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

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  • Rich  On August 28, 2009 at 1:23 pm

    I’ll go with answer ‘B’ on that baseball question, Curmudgeon, but only because Bradley is such a wing nut.
    Comparing Lou Piniella’s record to an ice water enema was a fine example of your in-depth ,penetrating analysis. I am sure you’ve sent chills up your readers’ spines.

  • Ed  On August 28, 2009 at 2:47 pm

    Lou Pinella as a manager is like Lou as a player – good, not great. When I think of a Reds manager of great success, I think of Sparky Anderson, and only Sparky. Total wins is not a good judge – it is like total hits. Say a kid comes up at 22, gets 600 ABs every year, and hits .250. If he plays 20 years, he becomes a 3000 hit man…

  • The Sports Curmudgeon  On August 28, 2009 at 5:47 pm


    The Mets are a mess but I actually think that the Cubs’ legacy contracts – - ones that may be impossible to offload until they are almost over – - are even worse.

    For anyone who has trouble waking up in the AM, let me suggest an ice water enema as a brisk way to get your day started…


    I agree completely. Lou has lots of wins but they have come over lots of years. Granted an average 85-77 season is a lot better than an average 77-85 season, but it isn’t spectacular.

    Your numerical example about how a mediocre player might accumulate 3000 hits puts Ichiro Suzuki into perspective. He didn’t get to MLB until he was 27 but it is not impossible to imagine him getting 3000 hits in his career.

  • Ed  On August 29, 2009 at 4:33 pm

    Yeah, 3000 hits is a lot, but it is a bit of a fake accomplishment at times, as it really more rewards longevity more than anything else. Worse is the “200 hit club” – my favorite argument against that is I will name an all-time outfield who has 4 200 hit seasons in total, with a high of 208. I’ll even bat them 3,4,5, you name whoever else you want. So I name Ted Williams in left, batting #3 (never did it), Ruth (3 times) in right cleanup, and Willie Mays, (once, the 208) in center field. Now, if it is so great an achievement, your outfield who has unlimited 200 hit years must be far better. (BTW, if you want Mantle over Mays, Mickey NEVER had 200, so it is just Ruth’s 3 years)

  • The Sports Curmudgeon  On August 31, 2009 at 9:12 pm


    Getting 200 hits in a season requires a player to avoid injuries, play every day high in the line-up and get 750 at bats or so. Under those conditions, 200 hits is not such a big deal that it demands special recognition.

    However, when a player routinely gets 200 hits year after year after year, that means he is doing something right – - just to stay at the top of his line-up all that time so he can amass the number of at-bats needed to get 200 hits without having to bat .425.

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