Archive for the ‘MLB’ Category

I understand people getting worked up over presidential elections, but sometimes I don’t understand the outrage people have over this type of stuff. So this past Wednesday, all the major sports leagues in the U.S. – NCAA, NBA, NFL, MLB and NHL (let’s not forget them) filed a lawsuit against New Jersey Governor Chris Christie in federal court because he signed a law that allows for betting on pro and college sports at New Jersey casinos and racetracks. Now, the leagues claim that New Jersey sports gambling law violates a federal law that is already in place – enacted years ago. But here is the outrage part – by the way, laws change all the time and so just because something is federally enacted doesn’t mean that it can’t be federally rescinded.  The NCAA and pro leagues say “such gambling would not only harm sports leagues and organizations such as the NCAA or the NFL, but would be a flagrant violation of the 1992 Congressional Act, to halt the spread of sports gaming.”

Now, here’s what I don’t get: why is everybody so anti-sports gambling in these leagues?  Does anybody remember the Tim Donaghy scandal? Do you know who tipped off the NBA? Vegas!!! They are not your enemy, they’re your alley! Vegas called the FBI and the NBA and said “you’ve got a problem” Use Vegas as your friend, they are not your enemy. Vegas tipped off the NBA or else Tim Donaghy could’ve gone years and convinced other refs to do the same. First of all, sports gambling are here, we love it and it’s not ruining society. “But Andrew, people get addicted…” people get addicted to butter! Don’t blame the beer because you’re an alcoholic and don’t blame the bagel because you’re overweight. People have to be accountable for their own addictions. Is it a moral issue? Well, more wars have been caused by religion than sports gambling. Religious zealotry scares me, who has the over on the Bengals/Ravens game, does not!

Again, I get the outrage on a lot of issues – why do people get worked up over sports gambling? Know a family friend who lived in Vegas for years, there are sleazy people in Vegas, but there’s sleazy people anywhere! This family friend once told us that he found, at the time he was in Vegas, that the people he knew in sports gambling, he found them to be incredibly trustable – it’s a highly regulated business. You know what’s not regulated? Strip clubs! If you’re anti-strip club, you may have a point! The alcohol business – every state and province is different. “In this state, it’s the Wild Wild West…in this state, you can’t drink on the Lord’s Day” But the idea that people get worked up – that I have the Rams at -6, I’ve never understood. Here’s a little secret, sports gambling is already everywhere! Did you know that? Like everybody thinks “Vegas…the evil empire that takes everyone’s money” pfft, did you know that only 4% of NFL bets take place in Las Vegas? I’ve got news for you, there’s already sports gambling in New Jersey – there’s more in New Jersey than in Las Vegas! I don’t know the industry well enough to make big predictions, but I wouldn’t be shocked and I don’t think any of you would be either if sports gambling were legalized on the internet in the next 10 years.

I mean what person have you ever met in New Jersey that says “Bob, it’s not legal for me to bet on the Giants…Guess I’m out of luck!” You want to bet? Go bet! This is like the government trying to stop television viewing. People are doing it, they’re always doing it, its part of our fabric and even if it’s illegal – and there’s a 12% underground economy in America anyways, you’ll never stop it! People are going to drink, they are going to lust, they’re going to gamble, they’re going to eat and they’re going to watch television – you can’t stop it! So legalize it, tax the hell out of it and the state of Jersey could make over $200 million a year! Really? How many are they making on strip joints? Not that much I’d assume! It is amazing how people treat sports gambling – they treat it as if were the Ebola Virus “here it comes!! We’ll bleed from our eyes…run for the hills!” I bet football games people!! Again, is it a moral issue? I mean when the government had prohibition – do you think people didn’t drink? It was more of an underground premium that ever! I simply find that the stigma just forces more illegal activity but if you legalize it, the bad guys go away – they lost their market!

It’s like going to your son and saying “Do not listen to the band Gawr, I do not like that music…that music is evil” You know what your son is probably going to do? He’s going to go to his room and crank Gawr simply because I told him he can’t. But if I say to him “you know what, Gawr is awesome!! Crank it buddy!” suddenly it’s not cool. So again, take away the stigma, legalize it everywhere! “Andrew, but you’ll have game fixing” they’ve had more game fixing in Europe. There was an Arizona State basketball game several years ago that was fixed – sports gambling wasn’t legal in Arizona yet it was legal in Vegas and UNLV games aren’t fixed! Gambling sanitizes when it’s legal, there aren’t any thumb breakers, and there aren’t any loan sharks. We’re going to gamble as a society – get over it!! Legalize it and tax the hell out of it! You can’t stop it! Illegal card room/legal card room – how about we just make them legal and get some tax revenue out of it! Think about it, what vice has the government not gotten a piece out of it?

I think they’re biggest issue is – and here’s the great thing about sports gambling for you and I – and we’re doing it right now and it’s not ruining society. I mean look around our society folks, how many of them are tied to this: you can bet on a Laker game tonight! Are any of our societal ills based on that Laker game 4 months from now? This is not asking to legalize marijuana – there are concerns that it’s a gateway drug, concerns on what it does, I mean we all went to school with corky – he was forget and sort of apathetic. I just never understood and it’s so bizarre! The family friend lived in Vegas, he knew these people who betted on sports for a living – all they really are, when you think about it, are analysts! You’re a hedge fund analyst, financial analyst, insurance analyst and then there’s sports gaming analysts. Hit 58%, manage your money and that’s your living!


I’m not into even – never had been for that matter! Some people, some teams, some programs, some franchises, some coaches, some athletes, men and woman, some work harder are more committed, sacrifice more, and put in more hours. I’m for that woman, that kid, that man earning a better spot at the table of life. Why work hard if there is no reward? In baseball, the American League East – the Yankees, Red Sox’s, Rays, Jays and Orioles – could see 3 teams get into the playoffs come October.  I’m okay with that! They are more committed and spend more money.

In college football last month, we voted for even! We didn’t vote for fair. We have now finalized a 4 team playoff – there is some good news of course, you can now lose a game and still play for the national title. If Ohio State, USC or Oklahoma, Virginia Tech play great all season long and suddenly get nipped by an inferior team in Week 10, but can still win their conference championship, they will get in now.  But what was decided last month wasn’t fair, but even. The SEC is now going to get in only 1 team. Here’s what we are going to get:  The best team from the south, the winner of that Ohio State/Michigan game, USC out west and a Big 12 champ – the Big 4, touching every corner of America. That’s certainly more even but I’d contend it’s not fair because you and I know that conferences are not all even. The SEC has been more committed and worked harder, paid more for their coaches, recruited better players – they will not be rewarded.

Today, college football is more even and although it creates more arguments – more material for me to rant about, the media however often confuses fair and even. A really good team will get left out every year, one that scheduled much tougher games. Don’t think for a second that college football is even. For example, go look at LSU’s schedule last year (seriously, look it up) they played 7 of the top programs in the country: Oregon, @ West Virginia, Florida, Auburn, @ Alabama, Arkansas and Georgia – heck I’m not even counting the SEC championship game. Do you want to know who Iowa played in 2007? Ohio State and Michigan weren’t even on their schedule!! They loaded up with teams like Florida International! They didn’t even play a top 20 team that year, until they got into the Big 10 championship. If your okay with that then so am I, I really don’t care.

By the way, who is going to select the final 4 teams? Oh shoot, it’s a committee!  You don’t think they’ll be biased there? Go check out the Heisman voting. What was the only region last year to vote in Andrew Luck for the Heisman? Oh what a shock! He plays for Stanford, the guys out west. What was the only region to have Trent Richardson in at #2? What a shock! He played at Alabama, the South had him. Fair isn’t even and even isn’t fair. Every region will be represented – if this was baseball, sorry 2nd place team in the American League East, you don’t get in, but the Cleveland Indians do!! That’s what we voted for in college football. Now I’m not totally against it, it’ll certainly be fun, it’ll be good for the fans, and it’ll be more “even”…there’s a lot of good stuff. We’re going to get 2 really good days of this stuff where #4 meets #1 and #3 meets #2…I’m all for that. But I think sometimes we confuse fair with even – I’m not a big believer in “even” in life. I’m a big believer in that the harder you work, the more you get.

Here’s another thing, only 4 teams get in yet we have 5 power conferences and Notre Dame. Are you going to be okay when Notre Dame goes 11-1, can create their own schedule, gets in over LSU whose also 11-1 but finished 2nd in their conference and has 7 quality wins to Notre Dame’s 2? Is that more intellectually honest? The idea here, what I’m trying to tell you is that we’re still going to have massive bias and massive arguments. It’ll be better for ESPN, better for my blog, better for people in the media, but it will not be fairer!! It’ll just be more even. This is going to ensure than one big dog from every part of the country gets in.

You Yankee fans out there today, would you be okay if even if you committed more than the Mariners, with a new system, just to ensure we get a team from the Pacific Northwest in? They get into the playoffs every year and you don’t? Would you be okay with that? I certainly don’t think you would. Speaking of which, last month there was a particular play at a Yankee game, where Dewayne Wise was ruled to have made a catch when in fact he didn’t. He went into the stands, doesn’t make the catch, fan has the ball in hand, but the umpire rules that he had caught the ball.

Now, here’s the interesting part – when did everyone discover that it wasn’t a catch? Ahhhh when the REPLAY was used is how we found out the truth! How ironic is that?? When did we find out the truth on that call? Replay! Which MLB refuses to use and the decision not to use it looks sillier by the day. It was not easy to see but of course was easy to see with replay because a fan was holding it in the air and the umpire apparently didn’t see it as the player Dewayne Wise ran into the dugout with no ball in his glove – the umpire never checked. Folks, what if that were an ALDS game? We have to get replay into these big baseball games

Apologise for the three week absence – found myself touring all over Spain for two weeks and have been playing catch up for the last week or so before piecing something together, but here we go! So it’s no secret that I have several theories in life – most that I care to share with you on this blog. Before leaving for Spain, I thought about North American sports and when you think about it, the NHL is really the only league in North America with parity. In baseball, Kansas City, Oakland, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, San Diego and Seattle…they simply cannot compete financially, let’s quit that argument right now. In the NBA nobody disputes that you really need a star in order to get to the next level. In the NFL, parity is widely overstated and exaggerated – New England has 5 Superbowls in 11 years, Green Bay, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, New England and the Giants…you know that they are always going to be good.

But the NHL has got ultimate parity, a strong rigid salary cap – 9 different Stanley Cup winners in 9 years, won by often young, dark horse teams. The lower seeded usually sneak in, get momentum and win. What does all this parity get the NHL? A rating on a Monday night  which is a great television night, with nothing else on and I mean nothing else on, you get an invisible league with mostly starless teams and a lower rating that your average college football game on a terrible TV night like a Saturday.

Canada has got parity but the U.S. doesn’t have it as much. But the 20 best hospitals in North America, 19 of them are in the U.S. Of the 20 best universities, all 20 are in the U.S. Parity squishes everything in the middle; it valiantly protects the bottom and handcuffs those at the top – affecting ultimate greatness. Some would call that socialism – is sports really better than for that? Or with that? Really? Is sports really better with everything smushed in the middle? And if you love that in sports – why are you so deathly afraid of socialism in the form of a government? At least I’m consistent in that I believe parity and socialism are both garbage! But parity fan – to me, reeks of socialism fan to me.

To me sports are better with stars, people not only to root for but against – real villains! I don’t want a jungle where every animal is equal, I think Africa is more interesting – the Lion and the Tiger chase the Gazelle every day. Parity guy roots for all Gazelle’s. I love the Lion, by the way, the Lion doesn’t always win, and it sometimes gets killed by a horn or other predators. Even Hyenas have killed Lions! Why should the Yankees have to suffer for being born a Lion? Life isn’t equal, why force unnaturally sports to be. Milwaukee will never be Chicago – don’t like it? Get on a car, train, bus or plane and move!!  But at least with a Lion in the jungle you’ve got a formidable presence to root for or against.

I hear about parity all the time “Andrew, you’re an elitist!” noo, you have the wrong word! I’m a traditionalist. I like the Lakers, I like the Yankees, I like Ohio State football, I like Duke Basketball – they’re just interesting. Sometimes I root for them and sometimes I root against them! But I like villains because life becomes more interesting. Why punish New England for having a better head coach in Belicheck, a better quarterback in Tom Brady and a better receiver in Wes Welker – all of those 3 men were available to the entire league. Belicheck was fired, Brady went late in the draft and Welker was available to all other teams.

You go ahead and support socialism and parity, salute the NHL and the Los Angeles Kings. I enjoyed Oklahoma City vs. Miami for two weeks or so – 2 guys who will probably meet each other in 4 of the next 5 NBA finals. Parity is for people afraid to compete, afraid to move to a better place …and I should congratulate that? No thanks! Go ahead and knock yourself out. Parity stinks, socialism stinks, cramming everything into the middle stinks. Greatness is what I want to watch on my television screen and the culture I want to live in my life. Life has never been even – my parents try to tell me that every single day. If you think it is, you are delusional and it’s a horrible message to ever give a kid. Life’s not fair or even and you don’t deserve squat nor do my future kids, you earn everything!

So I saw something last week – for people who say that New York sports fans are harsh, I think they are incredibly tolerant and Exhibit A is Mark Teixeira. Mark Teixeira doesn’t even get booed at Yankee Stadium. Mark Teixeira has become a .230 hitter with an on-base percentage that has eroded every year…never gets booed! In fact, if you criticize Mark Teixeira, I was talking with some baseball guys at Real Sports Bar two weeks ago – all sent me emails after our meet up. “30 home runs, 100+ RBI’s, great defense” If a guy makes $22 million a year, should his best talent be defense?

I can find all sorts of guys in baseball that make a million a year that can play 1st base better than Teixeira. Justin Smoak of Seattle doesn’t make anything! Yet he plays really good defense. There’s that kid in Kansas City who’s really good – he’s cheap.  Don’t tell me “Andrew, it’s the Yankees where money doesn’t matter” How much are you paying for that Heineken, how much for those seats in the first 5 rows at Yankee Stadium? I’ve got news for you, somebody is paying for Mark Teixeira and it’s not the Steinbrenner’s.

Finally the Yankees acknowledge that Mark Teixeira is a disappointment because they moved him to 7th in the batting line up…it is about time!! In baseball history, nobody puts their best defensive player at 1st base…there’s a reason! Yeah he’s got a nice corner glove, though I think it’s more important to have a good 3rd base glove than 1st base glove, pfft the Cardinals put Mark McGuire at 1st base…enough said! “But Andrew, he gives you 100 RBI’s…” have you seen who hits before and after him? Have you seen who is on base ahead of him? Jeter, A-Rod, Cano and sometimes Granderson –guys who get on base in a hitters park, he should be a 135 RBI guy.

The truth is, the Yankees paid for a .300 hitter. Starting from 2005 – 2008 he hit .301, .317, .358, and .308 for all sorts of different teams like Texas, Atlanta and the Angels but then the Yankees got him. Since then its .290, .250, .248 and .227 with an on-base percentage that has gone from .383 to .280 and you’re paying $22.5 million for that? With Teixeira, you were always giving up 2 major things anyways: speed – which he has none and the months of April and May – he can’t hit in either but now you’re starting to give up on-base percentage and hitting as well??

You were already giving up speed and pre All-Star break, but now you’re giving up his batting average in the most competitive division in baseball? I’m sorry, but I’m amazed at the tolerance of Yankee fans. Maybe it’d be one thing if he hit 45 home runs with 130 RBI’s, then I’d tolerate the .230 and lousy on-base percentage, but I would gripe silently. The last 4 years of Teixeira’s deal are starting to look like the last 4 years of A-Rod’s…awful!! I’m reading a columnist Jeff Bradley who writes for the Star Ledger and he says “blame the annoying upper respiratory ailment that’s had Teixeira hacking up a lung for 6 weeks” he’s not a tri-athlete, he’s standing up at 1st and has become a .235 hitter, that is what he is in the American League East!!

If you’re playing football in the SEC, you can have a great arm but you can’t throw a bunch of picks. In the end, Teixeira is what he is, but everybody is still like “oh but he plays great defense” he’s at 1st base!!! Not a center fielder, he’s not a shortstop, not a catcher, 3rd basemen or 2nd baseman…he’s a 1st baseman. Years ago, Kansas City put John Mayberry at 1st base – like look who baseball likes to put over at 1st base, they tend to put a lot of stiffs at 1st base. It’s not a key defensive position “but Andrew, Jeter’s getting old and he bounces balls when throwing over there…” please, Jeter is not 70, he’s having a very good season, he’s not bouncing that many over there. It’s amazing, like I’ll defend Yankee fan to the end because they have been incredibly patient. They paid for a .318 hitter and got a guy closer to .218.

Two stories I want to rant about today. I think it’s coincidental that they both become stories on the same day. I was reading this morning one of the reports on the Lakers’ loss to the Nuggets last night and it said “the 2012 NBA season more than any other, has had the Los Angeles Lakers looking towards their young center Andrew Bynum for big contributions” umm, I think Laker fans are still waiting! Ever since Bynum said “close out games are easy” he’s not made more than 3 field goals within 5 feet in any one game, he’s 7’2.

Then I read another quote from Kobe Bryant – who had a 100 degree temperature and a stomach virus yet was diving all over the floor for the loose balls. After the game, when asked about Metta World Peace, Kobe said “you know, he’s the one guy I can rely on night in and night out to compete and play hard on this roster” Laker fan, when Metta World Peace formerly Ron Artest is your rock, you are in trouble! When Metta World Peace is the one guy Kobe can count on – you are not a championship team and your season is pretty much over. Either it’s happening on Saturday night or four games after the Oklahoma City series begins. I got news for you because in Hollywood, when the director says “Lindsay Lohan and Charlie Sheen are the only people I can count on” your project is dead!! It’s over and it’s time for drastic wholesale changes. Los Angeles is renowned for face lifts…you need one!

Unfortunately though, good luck getting rid of some of these pieces after this performance – the series is now irrelevant. Win or lose, statistically and historically you win this game at home but it’s so much greater and so much sadder than that. Kobe Bryant – in his 209th year playing in the NBA at a high level, 100 degree temperature, stomach flu – if you’ve never had it, it’s awful!! Yet he was all over the floor. Andrew Bynum though, after the game and after mailing it in, the best thing he could come up with was “man, Denver hit a bunch of shots” he said after the game “this game in particular, I was surprised and in amazement of the types of shots they were hitting. I didn’t play in the 4th quarter, Kinda sucks…”

For the record, find me an athlete with a bad attitude half way through his career and where it dramatically changed in the second half of his career as he become richer …diva is diva! Certainly Pau Gasol is to blame too and George Karl is outworking Mike Brown, but when players have to be shaken, poked, prodded, to get motivated for a playoff game, you’ve got the wrong players. Kevin Garnett – another guy in his 138th year in the league has his best game in over half a decade last night. Kobe Bryant – stomach flu and all was all over the floor. Hey Bynum, it’s not Tuesday in January against Charlotte, the last game of a 6 game road trip…it’s the playoffs!!  What a joke!! I find the Denver Nuggets today really easy to root for – less experienced, no star player, down 3-1, win in LA, blew them out in Denver…I have no problem rooting for that effort.

But from one diva to the next, if you’re not a Red Sox fan – God bless you if you’re not, but if you’re not a Red Sox fan, you may not understand the gravitas of this story. The Red Sox’s –and they do this about every hour and a half these days, are blowing up – the bad kind. Let’s take you back to where the story began. It’s hard to imagine that anybody could lose the equity that Josh Beckett had several years ago – unbelievable in the playoffs, has one of the greatest post-season performances ever…yet he’s blown all the equity out, unbelievable! Red Sox’s can’t win at home, they’re falling apart – perhaps the worst team in the AL East and that’s not a stretch based on the way the Orioles have played the last few weeks.

So Beckett misses a start and says “ahh it’s my lat” that’s funny because he was apparently on a golf course, playing golf – a sport where you need your lat, as he missed yet another start for a team that desperately needs him. Combine that with him playing video games, drinking beer in the clubhouse during last September’s erosion and you’ve got a guy that is quickly becoming an unlikeable figure in Boston. He could have saved it though, reporters came up to him this past Thursday and asked him about the golfing, missing the start. Yet instead of being humble, instead of understanding the room temperature – here is his response “Reporter: Josh what impact, if any, did the whole golf thing have in terms of it being a distraction? Josh:  nothing! Reporter: Do you have anything to say about that in general? I know it’s obviously a big story in Boston. Josh: no, because I’ll spend my off-days whatever way I want to spend them. Reporter: do you have any regrets that it could’ve hurt you because of the lat. Josh: my off-day is my off-day!” Ahh, that was great! You know what he just did? Do you know what Josh Beckett just did? He made Bobby Valentine incredibly likeable!

Bobby Valentine, you should thank Josh Beckett – he just did you a solid. Bobby Valentine, until that quote, had been reeling, getting booed and falling apart. Today you woke up and said “that’s what Bobby Valentine has to deal with?” the thing is, it got worse! Here’s the other bite he had where he was even worse! “Reporter: Josh, given that you skipped a start, do you think people have a right to question why you were playing golf when it was said for you to get some rest? Josh: Not on my off-day! Reporter: Do you understand the perception that leaves when the team is playing as poorly as you guys are right now? Josh: listen, we only get 18 off-days a year, I think we deserve a little bit of time off just for ourselves” Whoa, 18 off-days a month maybe – you’re a pitcher!

Superstars in any walk of life see the world differently than you or I do – doesn’t matter if it’s a singer, golfer, business person. They are better – they know they are better, they want to be treated differently – even the guys we like such as Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson had coaches fired. But I’m watching Sunday night and the Heat are 10-1 without Wade, the Bulls are like 12-5 without Rose, the Lakers keep winning without Kobe…why? What is the downside to any superstar? Like the public, the players often become bystanders – you bring Picasso into a loft, you give him a canvas – that’s if Picasso was still around, even with other great artists around, everybody would want to watch Picasso perform. That was always the brilliance of Phil Jackson – former Bull and Lakers head coach. Is that he got Michael Jordan – the greatest individual scoring talent, except for Wilt, in the history of the game – he created an offense called the “Triangle offense” and a lot of people think the Triangle offense was built for Kobe and Michael Jordan, yet I’d argue just the opposite.

Anybody who really knows the Triangle offense knows that it was created to get Kobe and Michael to share! To get guys shots that don’t normally get shots, that was always the genius of Phil Jackson. Sitting down with the great Picasso of our time and convincing him “let somebody else have the paint brush and the canvas every once in a while. I mean, you can get your shot anytime you want, relinquish the brush from time to time.” When Michael Jordan had Doug Collins as a head coach, he shot about 1100 times a year, with Phil Jackson it was 900 or high 800’s. Couple shots a game – 2 or 3, makes a world of a difference. That was the genius of Phil Jackson because it’s very hard to ask the gifted to give things up – you know, unless they’re getting a tax break. The key in the NBA is not getting a star; it’s getting the right star! And getting the right coach to work with that star and convince him to get others involved because stars will always get their shots.

Carmelo Anthony had 42 points on Sunday; yet the problem is that the rest of the starters had 19. The Knicks offense became like the Cleveland one when Lebron was there – 4 dudes watching one dude. You’re not beating elite teams with the “4 dudes watching one dude” offense. It’s really a gift; it’s a gift for anybody and any management position to get a star – a superstar, to share. Share the mic, share the ball, share the brush, share the technology, share your genius…it’s really hard because superstars, in any industry, think differently. I watched the Knicks on Sunday and sat there and thought “Melo has always been a great talent, but does Melo realize that Denver got better when he left and ultimately, it’s not his shot but the ability to draw a double team and pass to a better shot, a 60% shot not a 48% shot, which will get the Knicks to the next level” It’s hard, after he scores 42, to see that because he was the only guy late, taking 22 ft leaners that clanked.

It’s like I’m watching Kobe on Sunday – and Kobe didn’t play for the Lakers, but he was coaching on the sidelines and I was reading in the LA Times this morning where it basically said “man, Kobe would be an interesting coach” Kobe would be a terrible coach! Magic couldn’t coach; Michael Jordan has not been a good GM. Most of your great baseball managers, Joe Torre was a very pedestrian player. Isaiah Thomas – great player, not great anywhere else, why? Because they see things differently. If Kobe Bryant was a coach – let’s do a role play here. I’ll be Kobe and you be random NBA player, let’s play a game. This – if Kobe Bryant was a coach, I’ll play Kobe, this is how Kobe would coach.”Kobe: alright guys huddle up, here’s the plan. You go break his ankles top of the key, launch from the free throw line, switch hands in mid air, then dunk through two defenders…got it? You: ugh, coach…I don’t think I can do that. Kobe: what don’t you get? It doesn’t matter if somebody’s hand is in your face, you drain the shot anyway, just be better than everybody else. You: but coach, I can’t be better…Kobe: can’t you just be…great?”

That’s how great players see the world, that’s the prism in which they see it. They don’t understand that most of us don’t have that innate skill – that’s why average players make great managers in baseball. Was Jim Leyland a great player? Was Joe Torre? Not really!  A-rod is a great player, but he won’t be a great manager, he won’t even be a manager! Kobe’s a great player; he won’t be a very good coach. That guy at Oklahoma City, Brooks…he’s a good coach. Phil Jackson? Was a marginal player, but a great coach! Greg Popovich, Doc Rivers…good not great, but are great coaches. So as Melo lights up the Gardens, in the end superstars…it’s not about them, it’s about ball movement and getting the right superstar to link up with the right coach who can convince him that he’s got 4 other guys on the floor.

Speaking of other guys, this thing in Boston is a mess! So Bobby Valentine gets hired by the Red Soxs – and everybody knew it was problematic, Bobby is pretty rigid, pretty old school, you’ve got baseball players with guaranteed contracts, mix that with the parochial nature of Boston  which is – there’s an old saying in New England that “fences make great neighbours” I’m serious!  Boston is uniquely parochial; it is uniquely interested in itself. Chicago – in the middle of the U.S. their TV ratings show that they will watch east coast sports teams and they’ll watch the west coast sports teams. Boston will watch nobody but themselves and perhaps New York. So Bobby is really a visitor to Boston, he just doesn’t understand it yet. Bobby’s got a blue hat with a red “B” and he thinks he’s like a native, he thinks he’s just like “one of them”

I’ve got family friends who live in New England – they moved from Texas almost 10 years ago, they still feel as if they are visitors – you can’t move to Fenway and just because you have a uniform think “hey, this is my town and my team” Bobby Valentine criticized Kevin Youkilis on Sunday and Dustin Pedroia came out saying that it’s not the way they do things in Boston – maybe that stuff works in Japan (Bobby was a baseball manager in Japan for 8 years) Dustin Pedroia spoke up for Kevin Youkilis, who got ripped by  Bobby Valentine on Sunday saying “…his teammates have his back and we know how hard he plays, so I really don’t understand what  Bobby’s trying to do but – that’s really not the way we go about our stuff around here, I’m sure he’ll figure that out soon” But then he added another shot to Bobby Valentine saying “…maybe in Japan or something, but over here in the U.S. – man we got a 3 game winning streak, we want to feel good and keep it rolling. We feel like we have a good team and we just have to get each other’s backs and play together because if you don’t do that, I don’t care what sport you play in, you’re not going to win” ohh boy more to come on this later!

So if you did not hear this story, Ozzie Guillen – manager of the Miami Marlins was taken from Chicago to Miami, where he was often very controversial – apparently had to a take a sensitivity class because of his constant outspokenness throughout the years, MLB has fined him in the past. So the Marlins take him under their wing in the hopes of becoming a vital part in the outreach towards the Latino community in Miami but people, specifically Cubans, are now outraged as of this morning because of the comments he made about Fidel Castro – the long time Cuban dictator.

To me, there are two things here. First of all, time and place. These comments don’t’ resonate to this degree in Seattle or Minneapolis or South Dakota, but in Miami/South Beach, they absolutely do. I have relatives who live in Tampa – which is a couple of hours drive from Miami across Alligator alley down south at the tip of the state and he is viewed – Castro in Florida, he is viewed as what he is, a tyrant and a dictator, relentless and evil and sentences and words play different in different places. I can do a cocktail/alcohol joke in Madison, Wisconsin and will get big laughs, but won’t get it in Westpoint – an alcohol free campus.  Time and place, you can do the “no, there is no bomb” joke at an airport, but you don’t make the Fidel Castro joke anywhere in America per say, but in Miami it’s an absolute no no! Dan Le Batard on the Mike & Mike Show this morning talked about how Fidel Castro is seen as the devil in South Beach “The ocean between Cuba and Miami is filled with dead Cubans who have literally thrown their lives to the winds, who get on tires and rafts made of erratic wood in the hopes of getting away from this man [Castro] and what he represents.”

A couple of people e-mailed me today asking if we were being overly sensitive on Ozzie Guillen. To answer that, let’s think about this for a moment. So the New Orleans Saints have been in the news recently and let’s say that you try to re-name the New Orleans Saints to the New Orleans Hurricanes. That would be seen as incredibly insensitive! Yet we have the Miami Hurricanes in college football and basketball, the Carolina Hurricanes in the NHL. But if you tried to re-name the Saints to the New Orleans Hurricanes today, it would be outrageous! It’s just a word though right? It would be just a word if I said your wife or husband was unattractive or that your kids are stupid – those are just words too, words count. Our laws are only words until they’re put into action. The Constitution of Declaration of Independence or the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom, are all words right?

Words, time and place are very very important and Ozzie Guillen just didn’t understand the room he was playing too. Dan Le Batard, a Cuban-American sportswriter out of Miami, made another point about Fidel Castro and his impact – his negative impact on how any words associated with Fidel Castro and what they could mean in South Beach “Given that Ozzie Guillen was hired to be a latin voice and face for a team that would represent Miami, this is the worst possible thing that Ozzie Guillen could have said, I can’t think of anything else, given the customers, that would’ve been worse because for Cuban-Americans, he’s our Hitler” ‘He’s our Hitler” is what Dan Le Batard is saying of Fidel! A veteran Spanish speaking baseball announcer down in Miami Omar P. Gonzalez, who fled Cuba at age 17 and lived in Miami for several years had this quote this morning “ it’s like going to New York’s Jewish  district and saying ‘Hitler wasn’t so bad’ he managed to stay in power for a few years”

So this is what we are dealing with here and Cubans have every right to be sensitive about this. When I last visited my relatives in Tampa it was interesting because Cuban food is a real part of Tampa, the food was absolutely delicious and in Miami you’ve got Cuban coffee shops all over…Miami is just a fun town with a great deal of flavor. Cubans – when I was visiting my relatives in Tampa, I was told this they make great neighbours – very self aware, very decent, hard working…they make great neighbours, they are such a big part of South Beach though and they have so much pride and they are great neighbours, they are just an incredible part of that community. So for somebody reading this in Los Angeles – they may not fully understand the impact of this or somebody living in Toronto or Minneapolis, Seattle or Pittsburgh, but having visited Florida, not South Beach, but the Tampa area you can imagine what the Cuban presence must be like there.

So the Miami Herald did a poll this morning asking if Ozzie should keep his job and it was dangerously close if you’re Ozzie to 50/50 – it was 56% No, he shouldn’t be fired and 44% saying yes. A lot of people in baseball were saying this morning “there is no way Ozzie is getting fired” I think it’s doubtful, but I do believe that the Marlins’ ownership this morning – like any corporation, was watching that press conference very carefully. Now, I don’t think protests will lead to his firing but I think they will watch it [ the drama unfold] because if advertisers pull out, if fans stop showing up to the park, I think Ozzie Guillen – in my opinion, is in a great deal of trouble. You see this often with corporations – where they sit and wait and watch how people react. I’ve said this since I started blogging, the media is so strong and powerful in markets like Philadelphia or New York that sometimes management will plant a story, give it to talk show hosts, they’ll talk about it and ownership and management will watch the circus develop and see how fans react to “Tebow to the Jets” or “Jason Bay to the Mets” stuff gets floated all the time in these powerful media markets by ownership or management to see how the public reacts.

I think the corporation of the Marlins this morning and the ownership are going to be watching and seeing what unfolds in the next 7-10 days. I will go the other way though, I think Ozzie Guillen could be fired – I’m not saying he should be or shouldn’t, I’m just saying that my opinion is “ they have not made a decision yet” and his future I think hangs in the balance over the next 3-6 days, that is my opinion and my opinion only. But I do not believe that he is free and clear on this.