What McNabb Deserves? Closure.

Just make a Decision Already.

I can’t imagine what the perception of Donovan McNabb is among football fans around the country.  If they aren’t tired of the story, they are more patient than I am, or else they are one of the handful of Raider fans that want him to come to Oakland.  I think we’ve officially run out of talking points on McNabb.  He’s not appreciated, he’s not a winner, he’s a franchise quarterback, he has no value…all of that is just noise to me at this point.  I don’t know if McNabb was appreciated the proper amount.  All I know is what I thought of him.  Do I think you could win a Super Bowl with McNabb?  Yes, I do.  But, I don’t know that McNabb will win you a Super Bowl.  That’s the distinction that so many seem to have trouble making.

If Donovan was the Steelers quarterback for the 2006 Super Bowl against Seattle do I think the Steelers would have won?  Absolutely.  Could he have drastically altered the losing team’s fortunes?  I doubt it.  And, that is McNabb for me.  Nothing more, nothing less.  I know that for a couple more years he will probably be among the better quarterbacks in the league, but barring an unforeseen circumstance here or with another team, he isn’t going to win a Super Bowl.  The Eagles aren’t good enough, and the teams he is likely to be traded to aren’t good enough either.

So, that’s what I think of McNabb for the most part.  I don’t think he should be the starter, or given an extension, or be allowed to pick and choose where he is traded to.  Those decisions are unfortunately not up to me, and McNabb is owed none of that.  Football is a business.  I think he understands this.  He’ll be fine if he’s traded, just like he was fine when he wasn’t really booed on draft day.  If the Eagles want to cut ties, they should cut ties, but for the sake of everyone and especially Donovan, can we just stop jerking the guy around?

He’s put his time in here.  Let’s stop dragging his name through the media every single day.  Let’s stop single-handedly keeping the entire ESPN football crew busy.  Stop leaking information, stop flip-flopping on McNabb’s status, and just get something done.  You may say the media’s treatment of this isn’t the Eagles fault, but surely they should have expected this is what it would turn into.  The contract situations, the decade long history, the way last season ended.  I know the Eagles are arrogant, but did they think everyone was going to sit by quietly and wait for something to happen?

As I said before, the way it looks now, the Eagles have bungled this quarterback situation.  And, the only way to start to repair that is to make a definitive move.  If for nothing else, the sake of McNabb.  Hate him, love him, either way he doesn’t deserve this.


The Birth of the Jinx.

I played the role of Spike Lee.

I saw the Reggie Miller vs. The Knicks 30 for 30 documentary.  It was an interesting piece.  I’m a sucker for anything like this.  I’d probably sit down and watch an hour-long documentary on the 2009 Royals.  But, I think this one would probably have a little more appeal than that.  The only thing missing is these battles took place in the Eastern Conference Finals and not in the Championship Series.  As great as the games were, with all the improbable drama, neither of these teams ever won the title.  What struck me watching it was the media response to Spike’s Lee involvement.  Lee was given credit for motivating Miller, and the New York tabloids grilled him the day after Miller dropped 20+ in the 4th quarter for the win.  This is a pretty big deal.  A fan getting this kind of attention regarding the outcome of a game.  Unprecedented?  Not quite.

During my illustrious four years my high school wasn’t exactly a sports powerhouse.  In fact, my friends and I joke that we were part of the worst athletic class to ever move through the school.  We had other talents, I suppose.  On a personal level, I experienced some success with the wildly popular golf squad and routinely had my butt handed to me in a neat little brown package in baseball.  In the grander scheme of things, there was an occasional good team or good individual performance.  Before my time, though, a very good tradition in soccer had been established.  In the Philly burbs soccer was kind of a big deal, and old Great Valley was usually well represented.  State titles, high school heroes, everything you’d expect.

The boys soccer team could always count on raucous fan support, and even I on occasion attended a game.  Sometimes they are hard to catch when you are jerking around at the driving range for “golf practice.”  Of course, the night games were the most popular, a true social occasion.  This support was still in fine standing by my senior year, even if the team had lost a little luster.  They were 4 years removed from the last state title, and entering the (district?) playoffs that year, the expectations were nothing like they had been in previous years. This didn’t stop a really nice crowd from turning out for the game, though.  It was a night game, and regardless of the soccer, it was a prime spot for some good old high school social interaction.

As I said I didn’t make it out to a ton of games, but I managed to be in attendance for this one.  We were certainly the underdogs, but undeterred none the less.  Now, I don’t really know anything about soccer, so I can’t give you a smooth breakdown of the action.  All I know is that we took a 1-0 lead, and time just kept ticking away.  Throughout the game the crowd was mostly contained, we were on the road, and we may have been a little nervous about the outcome, upset brewing and all.  Well, as the time ticked down to five minutes remaining there was a lull in the action.  Some restart, or I don’t remember what.  The crowd was pretty quiet, and being the creative linguist that I was, I took the opportunity to drop a bomb on the other team.

“How’s it feel to be playing the last five minutes of your season?”  I screamed at the top of my lungs.  ZING!

I’m fairly sure nearly everyone at the game heard me.  It was considered an above-average and clean insult, laughter was abundant.  And then, the wheels came off.  The opposing team suddenly looked like the 1985 Oilers on a power play.  Shots were ringing out, goalposts were being hit, and then it was bang, bang.  Two quick goals, before you could even blink.  They didn’t even do us the courtesy of taking the game into overtime.  It was a kill-shot, right to the head.  Painless.  Jubilation from the opposing fans, and disbelief from us.  I was thinking if I just laid the biggest hexola of all-time.  I shook it off, and blamed the players for not being able to close out the last five minutes.

I didn’t hit Spike territory though until the next day.  In one of the distinguished local papers a player from the winning team was quoted as saying, “We heard someone say it was the last five minutes of our season, and that really fired us up.”  Should I be a motivational speaker?  Maybe.  Does Spike Lee have anything on me?  Absolutely not.  And, there it is.

Hangover 2: Gonna Happen.

How About A Prequel?

So, they’re going to make a sequel to The Hangover.  I didn’t know anything about this, but apparently it has been in negotiations for quite some time.  The hold-up being money of course.  The first movie made a ton, and the actors didn’t see much of it, so they held out for the big prize this time.  It seems they’ll be compensated quite well.  I have mixed feelings on sequels.  They usually don’t compete with the original, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be entertaining movies.  I’m a little worried about this one, though.  Tarnishing the franchise, so to speak.  I’ve actually only seen The Hangover one time.  I’m not completely sold on its re-watch-ability.   That in itself is cause for concern for The Hangover 2.  Or whatever it will be called.  If they go with a stupid pun or something….bad news.

Comedies I think, even more than other genres, don’t really lend themselves to sequels.  Off the top of my head, the best “sequel” in the comedy genre is Christmas Vacation.  The Vacation sequels really run the full gamut in my opinion.  You have Christmas which is amazing, European which is mostly terrible, and Vegas which is sneaky underrated.  Meaning, mildly entertaining if you’re not comparing it to the first movie.  Also, some of the best comedies have some of the worst sequels.  Caddyshack 2, Major League 2 & 3, the last Austin Powers movie, Look Who’s Talking, Dumb and Dumberer (which shouldn’t even count), but the list goes on and on.

When I think about good sequels, I tend to think of unfinished stories like Rocky II.  Or nerds might think of the Lord of the Rings.  Sometimes in action movies, or sci-fi movies, the simple advancement of technology and special effects can make a sequel better than the original, or at least in the same ballpark.  Comedies don’t benefit from any of that.  Meet the Fockers was just a bad idea.  It couldn’t be dressed up with any computer generated nonsense.

Comedies can’t really play to the formula theory, either.  Look at the Die Hard series.  It’s not batting 1.000, but you know Die Hard 2, Die Hard with a Vengeance, solid flicks.  They have a good formula and with the right casting, couple other things go right, and you have a decent movie.  I think action movies set the bar lower too.  It’s not vying for an Academy Award or anything.  You simply need to be entertained, and I think it’s easier to produce that through action than comedy.  In comedies the formula can actually work against you (American Pie sequels).  Not all jokes and gimmicks have indefinite shelf life.

So, I’m going to keep my hopes for The Hangover sequel in check.   I kind of have a feeling it’s going to be a little like Ocean’s 12.  The same characters, doing their same routine that we liked the first time, just not remotely as good.  I would love to be proven wrong, though.  Just not sure what the premise will be, how much more ridiculous they can get, etc.  A lot of pressure on the writers.  If you want to read more about the sequel, here’s a wrap-up of the deal, money breakdown and whatnot….

Jack’ll Be Back At Augusta.

Start you off with a little video of the 1986 Masters. I’m probably jumping the gun on Augusta, but there is absolutely nothing going on right now. As I said last week most of the interesting stories at this point are just off-season speculation. We’ve got a few days until the Final Four, a few more until opening day, and nothing in the meantime. So, I saw a story Bob Harig had at ESPN about Jack Nicklaus coming back to the Masters to be the honorary starter, and I figured the Masters was as good a thing to talk about as any. By the way, if you can carve out ten minutes, I’d watch the video. Great shots, great announcing catch-phrases, the whole deal. I’m feeling I may have even posted this before, I don’t know. It’s a personal favorite.

Anyway, Harig hinted that he wouldn’t mind seeing Jack and Arnie play the front nine as honorary starters. This was the tradition back in the day until the likes of Sarazen and Snead couldn’t handle the full nine holes, and so they just rifled a tee shot out there. Neither Jack nor Arnie sound too interested in the thought of playing more than a tee shot, but I certainly wouldn’t stop them if they wanted to get out there and play a couple. The crowds would go wild. It might even keep a person or two out of Tiger’s gallery this year. I know it’ll never happen, though. You might be able to talk Arnie into it, but Jack would get out there, make a bogey or two and be furious. Guy can’t handle playing poorly, and it’s hard to blame him. He’ll gut that opening tee shot, though, I’m sure.

It’ll be nice to have Jack back to hit the starter with Arnie. The Masters really does a nice job of maintaining their connection to the past, even though the changes to the course have rendered some of the past champions obsolete a little before they are ready to leave. If this was still a cozy little 6,800 yard golf course you might be able to talk yourself into Tom Watson going Turnberry out there for a couple of days. That situation is unlikely now, but the old guys still give glimpses. Larry Mize opened with 67 last year, and it always seems like some past champion is lurking at least for a while. And, it’s nice that they are always invited back.

Watson will be there, and Fred Couples will as well. Fred, who has won three straight on the Champions Tour, and could contend if you listen to some people, wouldn’t be in the field had he not won the event in 1992. But, because the Masters takes such good care of their past champions, we get to see if Fred can translate his Champions Tour success into Augusta success. Plus, it gives Tiger someone to play a practice round with.

Now, your criticism might be, this is a limited field event as is. There’s only 85-100 players, and 8-12 of those spots are going to old guys and amateurs. Meanwhile, hot young sensations like Rickie Fowler will be nowhere to be seen. It’s a valid point in some ways, but no one ever says the Masters has the deepest field in golf. There are plenty of ways to get in. If you can’t get yourself into the top-50 in the World, maybe the Green Jackets don’t want you hoisting the trophy. They’ll kindly wait for Ben Curtis to win the British Open before they start inviting him to play the Masters, for example. And, I suppose that is their choice. If you like longshots, root for the amateurs.

So, I guess what I am saying is, one of the things I like best about the Masters is the familiarity. There will be more of that this year with Jack and Arnie on the first tee. And, I like to see the occasional good round by one of the old guys, or a quick Ray Floyd cameo. It all works for me, and in this disgusting week of sports lull, it’s something to look forward to.

2010 MLB Forecast

Weatherman Accuracy > My Accuracy.

We’re less than a week away from Opening Night for baseball.  Easter Sunday, and ESPN and MLB are gracing us with Red Sox/Yankees that night.  As if there was another choice.  I suppose it’s time to make some predictions.  Some blurbs that we’ll be able to look back on in July, and say, what was he thinking.

American League:

MVP:  Miguel Cabrera.  I think as long as Rodriguez and Teixeira both have good seasons, it’ll be hard for one of them to lock up the award.  Joe Mauer probably set the bar too high for himself last season.  If the Tigers are in the hunt in the Central, I like Cabrera.

Cy Young: Josh Beckett.  Beckett’s in a contract year.  He has a good rotation around him.  The Red Sox solidified their defense.  I think it adds up to some hardware for Beckett.  Then a monster pay day.

Playoff Teams:  Angels, Tigers, Yankees and Red Sox.

Odd Team Out:  Rays.  The Rays looked great this Spring, but the division is too good, and I don’t trust their starting rotation quite yet.

Overrated:  Mariners.  Seattle is the trendy pick after adding Cliff Lee, but now he’s not healthy. And play defense all you want, this team is still going to have too much trouble scoring runs.  That’s bad news in the American League.

National League:

MVP:  Hanley Ramirez.  Picking Pujols is too easy, and the persistent concerns about his back give me a little pause.  Ramirez is a trendy pick in his own right, but he’ll need other Marlins to step up to win this award.  If their season tanks he has no shot.  Much like A-Rod and Teixeira, too many Phillies involved.  I don’t think one guy emerges this season.

Cy Young:  Roy Halladay.  I think Halladay is going to flourish in the National League.  He’s going to get plenty of decisions, and on a team this good, he’ll pile up wins.  I think Tim Lincecum takes a half-step back, opening the door for Roy to win 20 and the Cy Young.

Chapman/Heyward or Strasburg:  For this year, I’ll take Chapman.  The Nationals are going to be incredibly cautious with Strasburg.   It could be June before he comes up.  And, when he arrives in the Big Leagues, the Nationals don’t offer a ton of help.  It’s going to be tough for Heyward to come in from day one and be the guy.  If the Reds give Chapman the ball, I think he can have the biggest impact this year.

Playoff Teams:  Colorado, St. Louis, Atlanta and Philadelphia.

Odd Team Out:  Los Angeles. It’s tough to choose.  The NL still feels a little like a garbage league to me.  I think the East is a little better this year, and a team out West gets nosed out.  We’ll see.

World Series Match-Up:  St. Louis vs. New York.

Hometown Hexolas.

Phillies-centric Predictions:

Raul Ibanez:  .264/18/71.  I think Ibanez is going to be a little bit of a disappointment this year.  I think he bottoms out in the seven hole.  Now that I look at it, those numbers might be a tad optimistic.

Jayson Werth: .265/31/95.  I think Werth falls short of his career year last season, but still puts up good enough numbers to price himself out of Philadelphia in the off-season.

Howard or Utley:  Howard.  Utley is a force of nature, but he can’t stop running himself into a wall.  I think Howard leads the league in RBI’s (again) and could even give his average a little bump this year.

Cole Hamels:  14-9, 3.95 ERA.  I think we’re going to bounce up and down with Hamels again.  This year, I’m hoping the lows aren’t quite as low.  These numbers should be good enough for the #2 starter.

Pleasant Surprise:  Shane Victorino.  I think he’ll be an adequate replacement for a slumping Ibanez in the six hole.

Lidge:  I think Brad Lidge comes back at some point and will be a serviceable closer.  He’ll keep the ERA under 7, but it’s never going to be like 2008 again.

Rest of the Bullpen:  I think Durbin comes back with a decent year, and Madson in the eighth inning should be all right.  Jose Contreras may have to step up, and if Romero doesn’t get healthy, there will be a huge hole against left-handers.

Regular Season Wins: 93.

Nets Hit 10 Wins. Shame.

Fred Carter can Keep his Record.

Maybe the Nets were inspired by their future owner making an appearance on 60 Minutes.  Maybe they were finally comfortable with their lead in the ping-pong ball race.  Or more likely, it’s just really hard to go 9-73 (or worse).   Still on pace to unseat the Sixers of 72-73 as the worst team ever a couple of weeks ago, the Nets exploded for three wins, and leave those lowly Sixers in the dust.  Of course, when you are only shooting for 10 wins, winning 3 of 4 is an unnecessarily flashy hot streak.  I’ll be honest, I wasn’t going to be disappointed if the Nets lost 74 games, but it’s nice to know that one of the great records in sport still stands.  And, as for their new owner?  Interesting guy.  I think he’s going to get in the mix.  Should be wild times in Brooklyn.

Has it been a month since I said I wanted a resolution in the Eagles quarterback situation?  It feels like it has been longer than that, and each day drags on with a new set of seemingly unfounded rumors.  The freshest?  The Raiders have the inside track.  Is this code for the Raiders being the only team interested?  Is the 39th pick in the draft coming to Philly?  Do the Eagles still not have a plan?  These are the questions that come to mind.  I guess we can’t say that the situation has been poorly handled until it reaches a resolution, but it feels like it has been poorly handled.

Phillies bullpen update.  Ryan Madson is going to start the season as the closer.  Madson is not having a good spring, and he’s suffering from what Rich Dubee is calling, “dead arm.”  Everyone gets it, he says.  I think this is coach speak for, “I don’t feel like answering questions during Spring Training.”  Madson can be very dynamic, but I’d be a little more comfortable with him in the role if he didn’t give up so many homers.  Brad Lidge might have to hurry back, but even when he does return, nothing is guaranteed.  This is an ugly bullpen, and it’s going to stay ugly for most of the year.  Unfortunately, get used to it.

I took a look at the odds to win the NCAA tournament, and interestingly enough in a four team field, only Michigan State has longer odds than 4/1 and just barely at 9/2.  Duke is the new betting favorite,  sitting in the 3/2 neighborhood.  I wouldn’t touch that Duke number, even if I wouldn’t mind seeing BK in an Eagles hat.  My favorite bet left on the board?  West Virginia beats Butler in the final.  That’s going off at a little better than 5 to 1.  If somehow this thing turns into Michigan State/Duke, like some unwanted flashback to 2001, I think I’ll be sick.  There’s only so much Tom Izzo and Coach K lip service I can take.

Will Sam Bradford Be a Bust? An Open Forum.

The Next Who?

Sam Bradford had his pro day in Norman today.  It was his first real workout in front of pro scouts and GMs and by all reports Bradford was very impressive.  Gil Brandt at NFL.com was left “speechless.”  Bradford threw 63 balls, and showed plenty of arm strength.  I’m sure it answered questions for some, and probably further peaked the interest of the St. Louis Rams.  Their interest in Bradford appears to be increasing.  Perhaps they’ve realized they can’t continue to pass up first round quarterbacks.  Full of holes or not, the Bulger/Boller/Keith Null era probably needs to come to an end.  If the Rams take Bradford, it drops the two prized defensive tackles (Suh and McCoy) into the laps of the Lions.  We’ll see if they can mess that up.  I guess I’m just wondering what people’s thoughts are on Bradford.  I’m no talent evaluator.  When looking at quarterbacks I apply the following:

Arm Test:  Probably my biggest concern.  Though I can frequently be wrong about this, my general stance is there are a lot more quarterbacks in the league with good arms than there are with noodle arms.  The poster boy for the bust with the arm is and will always be Jeff George.  If you could convince people George was 22, and he ran through Bradford’s workout today, he’d probably be going in the top-5 picks next month.  That’s all I’m saying.  You don’t need a huge arm to play in the NFL, Drew Brees doesn’t throw lasers, but a weak arm in my book is equivalent of a guy being 5’11”.

Face Test:  Some guys look the part.  Brady Quinn failed the face test.  Cade McNown?  Fail.  This is not a fool-proof plan either.  Take a look at Eli Manning.  Complete fail on the face test, and he turned out to be a good quarterback.  Romo doesn’t score too high on the face test either.  Mark Sanchez, we’re going to wait and see.  The hardest thing to do is differentiating between pretty boy confidence and straight-up asshattery.  Take a guy like Brady, Matt Ryan maybe, and you can’t deny that these are some clean-cut pretty boys.  But, they don’t crossover the idiot threshold where you find guys like Matt Leinart, Brady Quinn and where I assume you’ll eventually find Jimmy Claussen.

Who’s Going to Draft Them:  I think this makes a difference.  The Browns shouldn’t draft quarterbacks.   The Redskins haven’t done so well.  I’m a little concerned about the Rams.  This isn’t going to be a good situation in the first year, no matter if Bradford is good or not.  Look at what happened to Matt Stafford this season.  Was an entire year taken off his career with the beating he took this season?  I guess I just wonder if someone like Aaron Rodgers ended up in Washington instead of Jason Campbell…would their careers be in similar spots to where they are now?  I think you have to take into account the beating a guy is going to take, the likelihood the team is going to a 2-14 walloping, things like that.

That’s about it for me.  I like some things about Bradford.  He probably passes the arm test and fails the face test.  If he goes to St. Louis, that’s an uphill battle.  We’ll see.  What do you think?