Tuesday August 31st Is “Hate On Manny Day”

And here’s your obligatory columns bashing the now White Sox outfielder after he was traded from the Dodgers…

“It always ends ugly for Manny Ramirez.  Noticed that?  It can’t ever be easy. It can’t ever be classy. It can’t ever be professional.  It can’t be the kind of sweet, nostalgic, affectionate exit that true superstars, true Hall of Famers, deserve.  No, with Manny, apparently, it’s always got to be none of the above.” [Jayson Stark for ESPN]

“But, with the exception of an occasional lucky moment when a fat pitch hit his slow bat, he departed the Dodgers the moment he was busted for being a performance-enhancing drug cheat.  How do you say goodbye to someone who has been gone for 16 months?  ‘Man ain’t the same since he’s been off his medicine,’ one of the Dodgers told me late last season.  Man lost faith in his drug-free swing. Man lost the swag in his clubhouse swagger. Man wasn’t Manny again, really, until last weekend.” [Bill Plaschke for the LA Times]

“Manny never has done breakups particularly well, from airing every last stinky jockstrap on his way out of Cleveland to forcing a trade from Boston in 2008, to his latest, and perhaps greatest, act of defiance. Getting thrown out of his final game in a Los Angeles Dodgers uniform Sunday after one pitch of a pinch-hitting appearance was Manny’s one-fingered farewell to the team that embraced him when he was a leper everywhere else, to the city that deified him when he was outed as a steroid user, to everyone who engaged in the symbiotic ugliness.” [Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports]

‘A figure of fun, all the way down to his last at-bat as a Dodger. With the bases loaded in a game the Dodgers eventually lost, 10-5, he came up in a spot tailor-made for him.  He saw ball one, the umpire (Gary Cederstrom) saw strike one, and one thing led to another and Ramirez got run.  Of course he got run. He’s Manny.” [Ray Ratto for CBS Sports]

We’ll have more if we come across any.

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The Definitive Account Of Nebraska’s Decision To Join The Big Ten

There was a lot of mystery surrounding Nebraska’s decision to join the Big Ten, until now.  The Omaha World Herald released the tell-all story of everything that occurred in Nebraska’s choice to leave the Big 12 for the greener pastures of the Big Ten.  This is a must read for anyone looking to understand the depths of conference realignment and what is going on behind closed doors. 

One of the surprises of this story is that Texas and Nebraska may have a rivalry of athletic departments and athletic directors, but the presidentsof both universities are actually good friends and were working together during the decision process.  What I’m trying to say is that the assumption that Nebraska was faulting Texas was a HUGE misconception as Texas and Nebraska were actually allies.  Another huge surprise was that Nebraska was actually on a faster track to get its own TV network than Texas was.  This is surprising because everyone blamed UT’s desire to create a network as a reason the Big 12 would fall apart…and Nebraska was just as guilty!

There’s a ton more here to take in.  This article is long, but if you read nothing else today, you have to read this account.

[Omaha World Herald]

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Jeff Mathis Is A Horrible Hitter

Jeff Mathis plays for the Angels and has never been known for his prowess at the plate.  And now an Angels blog “Halos Heaven” has proof that he might just be the worst Major League hitter of all-time.  His numbers:

“So just for fun, let’s consider Jeff in his own place and time. The present day is sometimes called the “post-strike era,” referring to the 1994 players’ strike. It’s a totally arbitrary division, but there are some good reasons to stick with it. Teams didn’t settle on the current practices of pitching management (i.e. closers, five-man rotations, fixed pitch counts, etc.) until the nineties. There was also that little matter of guys sticking needles in their behinds. I’m not convinced the run scoring increases in the post-strike era can be conclusively pinned on steroids, but you can make of it what you will.

Well then, how does Jeff Mathis fit in among his contemporaries?

  • .200 AVG: absolute worst in the post-strike era (by 12 points!)
  • .267 OBP: absolute worst in the post-strike era
  • .313 SLG: 13th worst in the post-strike era
  • .583 OPS: absolute worst in the post-strike era
  • 53 OPS+: absolute worst in the post-strike era

If batting averages are your thing, then Mathis is the worst hitter in modern history by a very large margin. Looking beyond that, his career 7.6% walk rate and .116 isolated power are actually not horrible. They might even look decent on a player with a high average, but Jeff’s OPS (and hence OPS+) is dragged to oblivion by his pitiful batting average.”

[Halos Heaven]

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Universities Blocking Record Of Airplane Use

There used to be a trick that reporters and websites would use in order to guess at potential college football hires or recruits.  They could simply log onto a website and type in the registration number of the respective university’s plane number and track where it had flown to recently.  Well, the schools have finally caught on and are now being allowed to have their flight data blocked from public record according to this article from the Anniston-Star in Alabama.  It’s a fascinating look at the lengths college coach’s are now taking their power and control over a program.  Take a look:

N1UA is simply the tail number of the airplane owned by The Crimson Tide Foundation — the charitable arm of the University of Alabama athletics department — and there was a time when it was the subject to exhaustive internet searches and message board speculation. If there was a coach to hire or a top recruit to secure, the three letters and one numeral popped up everywhere.

Then, it suddenly disappeared from the online record.

The use of websites such as FlightAware.com to predict hires and signings came to an abrupt end when the university entered a little-known program with the National Business Aviation Association and the Federal Aviation Administration.

First uncovered following a 15-month investigation ending in April by ProRepublica.org, the N1UA tail number turned up on a list of 1,500 planes whose owners requested its flight information would not be made available to tracking websites. High-profile politicians and Fortune 500 corporations made the Block Aircraft Registration Request, as did Alabama and Auburn.

According to the ProRepublica report, the program’s origins date back to 1995, but web searches don’t show N1UA disappearing from web chatter until 2008.”

[Anniston Star]
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Remember Eric Crouch?

Yahoo! Sports recently tracked him down to find out what he’s up to these days.  The former Nebraska quarterback famously won the Heisman and basically took an average team to the national title game by himself.  He’s now the owner of a company that installs playground and recreation equipment.  “After all, the Heisman winner already has plenty on his hands with his small business, which he purchased from a Nebraska family in 2003 after being cut from the Packers. Crouch says it not only gives him a chance to give back, it’s also rewarding because it fights childhood obesity, an epidemic that has more than tripled in the last 30 years. And it certainly doesn’t hurt business that he just so happens to be one of the greatest Cornhuskers ever, making autographs all part of the job. The children that might one day be using his equipment always want a glimpse of his legendary hardware.”

In case you’ve forgotten who he is, here’s a gentle reminder of what he could do on the football field.

[Yahoo! Sports]

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Good Morning Generation

Yesterday Deadspin released there latest “Dead Wrestler Of The Week” series post and it was a tribute to Owen Heart, the wrestler who famously plummeted to his death during a live event in front of thousands of people.  I highly reccomend you read the article here and then check out this tribute video.

Generation Y, where we’ve got 10-1 odds Ozzie Guillen throws down with Manny Ramirez by season’s end.

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John Wall Gets Crossed…By A High-Schooler

by Eddie Moore

Austin Rivers, son of Doc Rivers and also the top high school prospect in the country, put on his best Allen Iverson impersonation for John Wall.

Although Rivers’ crossover was pretty awesome (especially since it was on Wall), it still pales in comparison to AI’s infamous crossover on the greatest basketball player of all time…

[YouTube]

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Chris Johnson’s Greed – And It’s Not A Bad Thing

by Eddie Moore

One of our favorite NFL columnists, Michael Silver, wrote a nice piece on Titans RB Chris Johnson and the Titans. Johnson is not backing down from his 2,500-yard rushing goal this season. He wants to be mentioned in the same breath as Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and Lebron James. He believes the Titans have a great chance to win the Super Bowl. He’s adamant about receiving the highest non-QB contract in the NFL. Needless to say, Chris Johnson isn’t lacking in the self-confidence department. I guess if I had just rushed for over 2,000 yards (including seven TD runs of over 50 yards!) I wouldn’t be lacking that quality either.

“I want to be in the same sentence as LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan, guys like that,” Johnson says. “In order to do that you’ve got to put up numbers year after year, and break records, and do the kinds of things they do on the court. You’ve basically got to be able to do what you want out there on the field.”

A lot of people forget that the Titans won seven of their last eight games last season and nearly miraculously made the playoffs. This is a team to be reckoned with this year. Maybe we should start taking Chris Johnson’s bold predictions a little more seriously…

[Yahoo!] [YouTube]

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How Will The Rockets Use Yao Ming This Season?

By Eddie Moore

Yao Ming appears to be healthy, but it’s far from a guarantee that he will stay that way. Rocket fans have been teased far too many times. If the Rockets don’t make any more notable changes prior to the season, it’s obvious that they will need Yao often if they intend on contending in the Southwest division and in the rest of the Western conference. Last week the Rockets decided to release some short footage of Yao. He looked solid; his post-up game looked crisp, and although it’s just a brief practice, this footage was encouraging. Yao even entertained us with a little trash talkin’ aimed at Chucky Hayes…Come on, who doesn’t love Yao?!

According to SportingNews, Morey described how Yao’s playing time will be sporadic this season. Until the big fella actually demonstrates some endurance and consistency, there’s no need to rush him back to his old minutes. “He is going to be more limited, it is just a matter of how you get to that point, how you limit him..Obviously, you start with less minutes per game. He won’t be out there for 35, 40 minutes per game, we know that. But then, things like back-to-backs, you might see him not play in the second part of those or something. Practice time, he might be limited. There are different ways to keep his minutes down. No one knows exactly right now.”

Yao’s a free agent next year and if he suffers another grueling injury this season Rocket fans will have to endure another year of “what-ifs”; more importantly though, the career of Yao Ming will probably come to a sad and unfortunate end.

[SportingNews] [YouTube]

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There Were Warning Flags Raised About Strasburg’s Mechanics

Here’s an interesting article from the Philadelphia Daily News which details a pitching instructor, Dick Mills, who published a long article weeks before Strasburg was drafted last year explaining why the young phenom was bound to get hurt.  While I realize hindsight is always 20/20 and it’s easy to say I told you so, the article is interesting to read if just to know specifically what’s wrong with his mechanics.  In case you’re wondering, the answer is yes, it’s almost the same exact problem as Mark Prior.

“I have seen lots of analysis of his mechanics where these flaws are pointed out but I have yet to read one diagnosis that suggests what changes could be made to help reduce his risk of injury and possibly improve his velocity and control,” Mills wrote.

Dick Mills wrote all this Strasburg stuff in an online newsletter that was published March 25, 2009, 10 weeks before the Washington Nationals made the college version of Nolan Ryan the No. 1 pick in the draft.”

[Philadelphia Daily News]

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Miami Football About To Be In A World Of Hurt

A former booster who got busted for running a Ponzi scheme is writing a tell all book in which he is planning to detail every violation and crime he says he witnessed during his support of the program from 2001-2010.  From the Miami Herald:

“Five months ago, UM’s website called Nevin Shapiro “an ardent, devoted, intense supporter.” A student lounge was named in his honor.

Now, facing years in prison for allegedly running a Ponzi scheme, Shapiro is writing a book about the UM football program in which he alleges former Canes players committed NCAA violations, said his attorney, Maria Elena Perez. Perez said Shapiro told the federal government about the violations, which are alleged to be major, but it did not investigate because “that’s not their area.”

Shapiro, who lived in a posh Miami Beach home before his April arrest, said from a New Jersey jail that he will not detail the allegations until the book is published; he’s aiming for December. He wrote a first draft and will seek a publisher. The title: The Real U: 2001 to 2010. Inside the Eye of the Hurricane.”

[Miami Herald]

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