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Archive for July, 2008

Manny Can Now Be Manny In LA

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Manny Ramirez
See you in LA, suckers!!!

Because I’m only a fleeting baseball person, I’m not sure my analysis will be spot-on or not, but here goes — Manny Ramirez is flying the Boston Red Sox coop after being traded to Joe Torre and the LA Dodgers. The Pittsburgh Pirates were also involved as the trade took three teams to figure out.

In return for possibly the greatest right-handed hitter of our era, the Red Sox received Jason Bay from the Pirates. SI.com has more:

Pittsburgh gets pitcher Craig Hansen and outfielder Brandon Moss, both from Boston, as well as third baseman Andy LaRoche and right-handed pitcher Bryan Morris from the Dodgers.

While there are many that think this move is the right thing for the Red Sox to do, some wonder if they’ll still be able to contend in the American League, something the guys at I’m Writing Sports don’t necessarily buy.

Whatever the case, it’s easy to imagine Joe Torre being awfully pleased with his new team’s acquisition. How could he not be considering the first-hand accounts he can offer about the greatness of Ramirez’ bat. Currently, the Dodgers are one game behind the Diamondbacks for the NL West crown and you have to think the Ramirez trade might be enough to put them over the top — provided Manny is being the hitter he’s capable of.

Ken Griffey, Jr To The White Sox?

Ken Griffey JrGood thing Junior looks good in black because his current team, the Cincinnati Reds, agreed to trade their outfielder to the Chicago White Sox. The only thing holding it up is Griffey’s approval, something he considered doing when Tampa Bay was being discussed.

According to reports, Griffey has some questions for the White Sox organization — apparently not contract-related — before he gives the green light. Provided he does so, what does this do for the White Sox who find themselves in a neck-and-neck race for the AL Central with Minnesota?

Is Griffey’s sometimes explosive bat enough to put Ozzie Guillen’s team over the hump?

Because Griffey hasn’t been in the postseason as often as his talent would suggest, if you are White Sox fan, you have to like your chances of Griffey approving the trade. However, looking at the White Sox depth chart, one wonders where he’d fit in with the team. The outfield has two players putting up MVP-like numbers in Carlos Quentin and Jermaine Dye.

Would Guillen consider replacing center fielder Nick Swisher with Griffey?

They both have similar numbers (Griffey – .245/15/53 — Swisher – .230/15/50) but Swisher’s eight years younger and durable enough to handle the potential pounding a center fielder takes. Is Griffey? Currently, no other players besides Griffey have been mentioned so it’s hard to speculate further about where he’d fit in the White Sox roster.

More on this as it breaks.

Update – 11:51: Griffey approved the trade which will see the Reds and White Sox swap the outfielder for pitcher Nick Masset and infielder Danny Richar. As you can see, these players do not answer the question about where Griffey will fit in the White Sox line-up. Provided the MLB approves the trade, is he going to replace Paul Konerko at first base or will he replace Nick Swisher in center field?

Update 2: Trade’s been approved. Expect to see Griffey in his White Sox debut this weekend against the Kansas City Royals.

Redeem Team Cruises Against Turkey

LeBron

I rose this morning at 7am CST in order to check out Coach K and the gang take on Turkey and I wasn’t disappointed by what I saw. Led by LeBron’s my-ankle-is-fine 20 point outburst, the team controlled the contest throughout, although there were a few defensive lapses.

However, worries about a lack of size or a lack of cohesion look like they are unfounded because this team plays really well together and enjoys being around each other. Of course, all of this may fly out of the window if they face some in-game adversity, but for now, folks like Jerry Colangelo must be happy with what they see.

The fashionable name for the 2008 version of the Men’s USA basketball team is the “Redeem Team” and based on the way they’ve played in these first two exhibitions, the name looks like it’s fitting. By dispatching Canada, 120-65 and now Turkey, 114-82, Team USA or the Redeem Team or Kobe, LeBron and the gang or whatever nickname you’d like to call them looks like they are indeed up to the challenge.

What stood out to me, besides all the steals and transitions baskets, was the play of Dwyane Wade. In the two games he has played, he’s scored a combined 33 points. Not only that, but the 13-19 shooting also shows the efficiency Wade is playing with. This morning, he had a dribble-drive dunk over a couple of Turkish defenders in transition that reminded me of the Finals MVP version of D-Wade.

If he’s truly 100% back, the Heat could certainly make some noise in the Eastern Conference next season; but I digress. Team USA certainly looks explosive and if they remain committed to the defensive end, especially with the way they create turnovers, they might just roll through this entire Olympic tournament.

I’m also left wondering if there’s any international team that honestly has hopes of defending this team for 40 some-odd minutes. Based on what I’ve seen, the answer is a resounding “no.”

Up next for Team USA — It’s another early morning for basketball fans as the Redeemers take on Lithuania tomorrow, same bat time (7am CST), same bat channel (ESPN 2).

Ron Artest = Rocket Man

Ron Artest

Welcome to Houston, Ron Artest. How does the idea of being in a starting five that includes Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady strike you? From where I’m standing, it looks like you should be ecstatic because now that you’ve been acquired, your new team now has the makings of being one of the brighter spots in an all-ready brilliant Western Conference.

By sending Bobby Jackson, next year’s first-round draft pick and, in all likelihood, rookie Donte’ Green to the Sacramento Kings for Ron Artest, the Rockets have indeed gotten much better — on paper — but they’ve also put themselves in a position where getting out of the first round should be a requirement. No more “T-Mac can’t get win a playoff series” stuff. If it doesn’t happen after this upcoming season, it’s time to blow the Rockets up and start over, provided another major injury doesn’t occur.

Because of Green’s rookie contract status, the deal won’t be finalized until August 14.

Now, before everyone pencils the Rockets into the Western Conference Finals, here’s a question about Houston’s new and improved NBA team — who starts? Last year, the usual rotation was Yao, Scola or Hayes, Battier, McGrady and Alston. Does Artest become the sixth man or does Rick Adelman shake up the starting five? Further, does this move put the Rockets ahead of teams like the Lakers, Hornets, Jazz and Spurs (who, when all three are healthy, are still one of the best teams around)?

Don’t forget about Dallas, Portland and Phoenix either. Fortunately for Houston, the acquisition of Artest makes them, at the absolute worst, the eighth best team in the Western Conference.

The Monkey King At The Olympics

Monkey Magic

Following up on a story first discussed back in May, with the 2008 Summer Olympics being in Beijing, you can expect some of China’s mythology to show up in the promotion of the games. In this case, it’s the Monkey King from the Chinese classic, Journey to the West.

Now, thanks to the BBC (and SbB), a promotional video is now available featuring the artistic stylings of the Gorillaz. The video tells the story of the Monkey King and his friends as they journey to Beijing to take part in the upcoming games. Take a look:

In case you are wondering, the lead image in this post is from the 80′s television show, Monkey Magic, which also told the story of the Monkey King. Perhaps, if Chinese officials are lucky, the Monkey King can swoop down on his cloud and blow the smog out to sea.

I doubt he’d want to see athletes choke to death because of China’s superior air quality.

As The Favre Turns

Favre Motivation

Continuing with the storyline of the offseason, it appears as if the Packers front office is talking to interested parties about acquiring Favre’s services. According to reports, these attempts are being made at the behest of Commissioner Roger Goodell, who, earlier in the week, encouraged the Packers to find a solution to the Brett Favre hubbub.

Apparently, the Commissioner is as tired of hearing about all things Favre as the rest of us are.

Although the reports don’t indicate who the interested parties are, it does say teams from both the AFC and the NFC are interested. So which teams want Brett? Here’s a not-so-scientific approach to try and narrow Favre’s potential destination, complete with rating system which indicates the chances of a trade happening to that particular team.

AFC

* New York Jets — no offense to Pennington, but let’s be serious here. Favre would do well with the New York media. However, what, exactly, do the Jets have to offer besides draft picks — even though they are worth their weight in gold to NFL GMs?

We’ll give this one three Number 4s out of a possible four.

Number 4 Number 4 Number 4

* Miami Dolphins — they are really needing a quality quarterback, along with just about everything else. But, I don’t think Parcells would be willing to take Favre and all the media attention that would go along with it while giving away draft picks or his budding young talent.

Zero out of four.

Number 4

* Baltimore Ravens – this actually looks like a decent match. It would give future quarterback Joe Flacco someone to study under (although, you might want to ask Aaron Rodgers about the tutelage he received) and the Ravens could offer a number of draft picks and players — Kyle Boller or Troy Smith — to make this happen. But, do the Packers want a logjam of unproven/ineffective quarterbacks?

However, considering Baltimore’s need and the attraction an available player like Favre to a franchise that hasn’t had an effective quarterback since Trent Dilfer, I give this three Number 4s out of four.

Number 4 Number 4 Number 4

* Houston Texans – While this could actually move Houston from a potential 8-8 team into a Playoff contender, I’m not sure the Texans front office would want to mortgage their bright future for a “win now” proposal. Furthermore, save their quarterbacks, I doubt the Texans would be willing to part with any of their young studs.

Again, after drafting a couple of quarterbacks a few weeks ago, it’s not like the Packers need a Tampa Bay-like stable of signal callers.

One Number 4 out of four.

Number 4

* Oakland Raiders – I have to think Al Davis would love a gunslinger type of quarterback to lead his team of stud running backs and growing receivers while letting JaMarcus Russell absorb as much as he can from the Mississippi native. The Raiders could offer a package of one of their many running backs along with the necessary draft picks to make it happen. The question is, would Favre go to a team that’s struggled as much as the Raiders have over the past few seasons?

From Al Davis’ perspective, I’m tempted to give this a four out of four; however, I don’t think Favre would approve such a trade.

Two Number 4s out of four.

Number 4 Number 4

As for the Kansas City Chiefs, I don’t think Carl Peterson would be so bold and besides, the Chiefs really seem committed to the their youth movement. In the case of the Denver Broncos and Mike Shanahan, they say they are committed to Jay Cutler; although, you have to think Shanahan would jump at a chance to have a QB like Favre lead his team. But would he give away his team’s draft picks to do so?

* Kansas City – zero out of four.

Number 4

* Denver Broncos – two Number 4s out of four.

Number 4 Number 4

NFC

I think you can count out the teams in the NFC North, unless the Vikings offer Adrian Peterson — yeah, right. So with that in mind, it leaves teams like Tampa Bay and Carolina, although, it sounds like Jake Delhomme is expected to return to the Panthers after a season-ending elbow injury.

* Tampa Bay – Favre represents everything Jon Gruden wants in a quarterback, but besides draft picks and some excess running backs, is there enough to entice the Packers to trade him south? Of course, when you look at most NFL trades, the amount of draft picks being offered has more value than players do. NFL teams like having as many draft picks as they can acquire. With that, it looks like Tampa Bay has one of the better shots at landing Favre, provided the Packers would feel comfortable trading Brett to a team in the NFC.

Four Number 4s out of four for Tampa Bay.

Number 4 Number 4 Number 4 Number 4

Now all we have to do is hurry up and wait some more for this whole mess to be dissolved. Hell, if were lucky, maybe Commissioner Goodell’s request to get the deal done by this coming Sunday can be fulfilled. Of course, if/when Favre is traded, it will set off another media storm — one that dwarfs what we are going through now.

Where do you think ole Brett will wind up?

LeBron Guarantees Gold For Team USA

LeBron
You damn right. I said gold medal.

LeBron “Illustrated Man” James has thrown down the gauntlet to the rest of the basketball-playing world by telling them they are playing for the silver and bronze because Team “Dream Team 2.0″ USA is coming out on top, much to the chagrin of some bloggers. Personally, I have no problem with LeBron’s boasting and if it gives the USA even more desire going into the Olympic tournament, all the better.

For those of you who don’t like King James saying the US will win the gold, what would you prefer? The rote, safe-for-media response where LeBron just loves on the Yao Mings and Dirk Nowitzkis he’ll be going against soon?

No thanks.

From my perspective, LeBron’s guarantee does one thing — it informs the rest of the world USA Basketball is coming for them, so get ready. If their upcoming opponents respond by playing harder against LeBron and company, so be it. It will make for even more entertaining basketball.

Team USA, after five exhibitions against Canada (tomorrow night on ESPN), Turkey, Lithuania, Russia and Australia will being Olympic play against the Chinese National Team on August 10. Then it will be time for LeBron and the teammates that back his guarantee to put up or shut up.

Of Cellphones, Brett Favre and ESPN

Brett Favre

For some reason, I can’t help but think this is who Favre is approaching this whole situation. Call me cynical, but after looking at the situation in its totality, it’s hard to come to any other conclusion. When you start pissing even the most hardcore of Packers fans off, then it might be time to change your approach.

However, thanks to the unending ESPN enabling, it seems both sides can’t get enough of this offseason attention and it’s also unlikely the situation is going to improve anytime soon, no matter what Commissioner Goodell wants.

It’s not like he can make the Pack trade any of their players, regardless of how stern his suggestion is.

As for ESPN, it’s pretty obvious they want to keep the storyline alive as they, like the rest of us, wait impatiently for the return of football. When they, as the Worldwide Leader in sports, report on things like text messages and “team-issued cellphones” in relation to Favre and it makes their front page as a lead story, it’s pretty easy to see they want Favre to stay in the limelight.

It gives them something to talk about besides the Sox/Yankees/Rays/Angels/Mets.

Does it really matter whose phone Favre was using? If he offered his services or spoke to another team about the possibility of a trade, it would still be tampering regardless of what method he used to get in touch with them. But there’s ESPN, trying their damnedest to keep this all things Favre on in the forefront of their daily content. Hell, they even have a FAVRE label on their bottom line; you know, so you can keep up with all the Brett minutiae you might have missed.

In light of all this, all I can say is 36, 35, 34…. you get the picture.