Last week, there was a story at CBSSportsline.com saying that Ben Simmons’ agent, Rich Paul, claims that the Sixers are worsening Simmons’ mental health by levying fines on him for not playing/practicing/being part of the team and by giving him negative publicity because he has not done any of those things. Simmons has been asking for a trade for several months now and that is at an impasse because the Sixers cannot get a deal done that gets them a return they feel is sufficient. This has become a chicken and egg situation.
- Simmons is being fined and is the subject of negative publicity because of his refusal to be part of the Sixers. He claims that he needs to look out for his mental health.
- Other teams do not want to give up valued assets to acquire someone who may revert to that sort of status after they trade for him.
- Rinse and repeat…
And that brings me to the story that appeared last week. It would seem to me that a player agent is retained and paid to elevate the player’s stature in the eyes of coaches/GMs and fans. On that axis, I do not see how the claims made last week move things on a positive vector heading for Ben Simmons. Here is a link to the story from last week. I am not qualified to say – nor do I have any vested interest in the outcome of this contretemps – anything related to Simmons’ mental health status, but how do the statements made by Rich Paul enhance Simmons’ trade value which is one of the key elements in getting him off the Sixers’ roster and onto another roster where he will be happier to play basketball? I just don’t get it.
Over the weekend, a friend pointed out to me that the Washington Wizards have the best record in the Eastern Conference so far in the 2021/22 season; that record is 9-3. I have seen a couple of their games and parts of other games and there is a significant difference between the Wizards of this year and the Wizards of the past couple of years:
- This year’s team actually plays defense!
Last year for sure and probably stretching back another year or so, the Wizards idea of “tight defense” meant that as the opponent was dunking the basketball, one or more of the Wizards players still had their eyes on him. Even more importantly, the Wizards of this season box out and get rebounds; in fact, as of this morning the Wizards lead the entire NBA in defensive rebounds per game (39.1 rebounds per game) which is due to opponents missing shots because they are competently guarded and the fact that Wizards’ players are contesting the boards this year.
The Wizards have a new coach this year – – Wes Unseld, Jr. He came to the team with a reputation that he focused on defensive basketball more than previous coaches of the Wizards had done. Perhaps it is genetic because his father was a defensive force – and a rebounder par excellence – for all of his career in the NBA. The Wizards are on track to win more than 60 games this season; it is far too early to make that sort of leap of faith even for team fanboys, but they are playing a much more intense style of basketball this year; and so far, it has put them in a good spot.
As I noted in a previous rant, there is not going to be a lot of free agent signings/movement in MLB until and unless there is a new CBA in place; the current one expires on December 1st. However, once things get sorted out and there is a new CBA, there could be some interesting free agent/potential free agent doings. Consider:
- Freddie Freeman is a free agent. Freeman has been in the majors for 12 seasons all of them with the Braves. Back in the 50s and 60s, they used to call Ernie Banks, “Mr. Cub” for his importance to the Cubs’ franchise. I doubt that anyone in Atlanta would argue that since 2010 when Freeman debuted with the Braves any other player would challenge him for the label “Mr. Brave.” Freeman is 32 years old as of September of this year; it will be interesting to see what sorts of offers he gets and – potentially – might he give the Braves a “hometown discount”.
- This is the “Year of the Shortstop”. There are five young shortstops who have hit free agency all in the same year and all five of them are excellent players. In alphabetical order they are Javier Baez, Carlos Correa, Corey Seager, Marcus Semien and Trevor Story; each of these five players should command a nice fat contract that stretches over more than 5 years. There will be some sort of internal jockeying among agents for these players to see which one sets the market by signing first and then how others might – or might not – be able to leverage their deals off the deal signed first. Adding to that sort of contract dynamic is the fact that the New York Yankees are in desperate need of a shortstop this year; it is inconceivable to me that they will start the 2022 season with Gelyber Torres at shortstop. The Yankees do not have a history of penny-pinching. Now add to the mix that Corey Seager might sign with a team other than the Dodgers where he has been for his major league career; if that happens, then the Dodgers would also be in the market for a shortstop, and they too have deep pockets.
It could take a while for the MLB free agent signing season to gather any momentum, but when it does, it could get very interesting very quickly.
Finally, here is a baseball-related item from Dwight Perry in the Seattle Times:
“Ex-White Sox slugger Frank Thomas has purchased majority ownership of the ‘Field of Dreams’ movie site.
“The sale was approved by a 24-3 vote of the ghosts in the cornfield.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………