Monday, December 25, 2006

The Chicago Conundrum

posted by BiCoastal Bias

As this NFL regular season comes to a close, there is one phenomenon that will categorize 2006: mediocrity.  I don’t mean that word with all of the negative connotations that are normally associated with it.  And I certainly wouldn’t call Ladanian Tomlinson and the Chargers’ season mediocre.  But on the whole, this season has featured a lack of dominant teams.  

The best example is the Chicago Bears.  I shouldn’t have to remind you that this particular blogger picked the Bears to go to the Super Bowl back in week 1.  So while I could be gloating about their 13 and 2 record; instead I’m quickly admitting that this team has been finding ways to win amidst their mediocrity week after week.  

Now I’m torn on whether I should jump ship or not.  On the one hand, I think both Philadelphia and New Orleans are better teams than Chicago, so much better that they could very well beat the Bears in Chicago.  However, the Bears seem to have this knack for winning lucky, and I don’t have reason to believe that their luck will run out just because the games are of the playoff variety.  

In public, the current debate about the Bears’ potential has centered around Tank Johnson – a key defensive lineman who was arrested a couple weeks ago for illegal possession of firearms.  Johnson is currently serving a team suspension for this fact, as well as other off the field tragedies surrounding this event.

I find this debate interesting, because everyone seems to agree that Johnson deserves to be suspended for the remainder of the season, but for different reasons.  I’ve heard one commentator claim that “If you can’t trust Johnson to make the right decisions off the field, then you can’t trust him to make the right decisions on the field.”

I’m not debating Johnson’s suspension, but this reasoning is completely bogus.  If you want your organization to be viewed as a franchise with class, then sitting Tank out for the duration of this obvious turmoil is a completely justified move, (especially while the details of his bodyguard’s murder are being sorted out).

But to claim that this suspension is for purely football reasons is asinine.  The truth is, very bad men can be great football players, and on top of that, sometimes they are even great teammates.  I’m not going to try to list examples of this, I don’t think I know enough about player’s personal lives, or relationships within the locker rooms to pass this judgment.  Tank Johnson would definitely be a great help to the Bears Super Bowl run, even while he’s dealing with this scandal.  

In life, making the right decisions can often cost us things we really wanted.  For the Bears, making the right decision to suspend Johnson might very well cost them a Super Bowl ring.  

Saturday, December 16, 2006

New Skool Survivor

posted by IntrinsicBent

I’m writing this after having just successfully run the gauntlet that is Oakland Airport.  It’s like a new version of the Survivor® series.

Why?

It’s Saturday, the day before a Raiders’ game.  Every miscreant, hanger on, wannabe, and football myopian is coming in from black places everywhere to play dress up and root for their crappy team.

I ran the race like a man.  The degree of difficulty was down due to not being distracted by face paint, Darth Vader regalia, and horns protruding from every possible area of their face and body that a game day trip would have presented.

I corrected this issue by actually making eye contact with some of the swarms of black.

Don’t try this at home.  I’ve spent years in training for stuff like this.

A quick memo to airport food providers:

I realize that you think you are your own country and are comfortable with charging 13 bucks for a burger.  Adding the word “Gourmet” to a food item does not give you Carte Blanche to throw the leftover vegetable items from the night before all over it.

Peace.

Friday, December 15, 2006

NFL Network Castaways

posted by BiCoastal Bias

I watched last night’s Seahawks vs. 49ers game from home.  This is the first NFL Network live game I’ve been able to watch from my couch, as I finally got off my lazy keister and exchanged my old cable box for a digital one.  

First of all, does anyone else feel like the Thursday night NFL Network crew is composed of a bunch of castoffs from other networks?  Calling the game, we’ve got Bryant Gumbel and Cris Collinsworth.  I can’t say that either of their voices are pleasant to listen to, especially in tandem.  Last night, they repeatedly used the phrase, “This has been such an odd game.”  That’s the second worst thing you can hear from an announcer, the worst being, “It looks like Tommy Maddox is warming up on the sideline!”

The rest of the pre-game and on field personnel seem like guys who have been bounced around the other four networks that air NFL games –Rich Eisen and Deion Sanders, for example.  This game also featured plenty of technical difficulties.  At one point, they asked a question of Marshall Faulk who was reporting from the sideline.  Not only did the question have to be repeated three times for Faulk, but it appeared that he was completely unprepared for the specific direction of Gumbel’s question.

At the beginning of the third quarter, Collinsworth actually suggested that perhaps the Thursday night schedule is a bad idea, stating that the short week of preparation is probably to blame for the sloppy play his crew has seen week after week.  Wow, does this guy know that his job depends on the very existence of these Thursday night games?

I’ve got to hand it to you, Cris – that’s a bold move . . . or just a really dumb one.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Future for College Football Playoffs Looking Brighter

posted by BiCoastal Bias

So does anyone else feet like we may have reached critical mass in vying for a college football playoff system?  I hear more and more college football coaches coming out and stating what they might have been afraid to say a couple years ago – that a playoff system is highly necessary.  

This would have been the perfect year for it.  With one unquestioned top dog in Ohio State, and a parade of other teams begging for a chance to play them, and one team begging for a chance to re-play them.  An eight team playoff bracket would have fit nicely, with the only debate being whether or not Boise State deserved the eighth seed or not, but a debate over the last seed is a lot easier than our current debate over the second seed.

Ironically, last year was the ideal situation for the BCS system.  Texas and USC were the only undefeateds, and nobody else had an argument.  That was pretty much as good as the current system is going to get, it can only go downhill from here.

But of course, with all this clamoring for a playoff system, your BiCoastal Bias is going to say this for the BCS: at least it doesn’t reward teams with powder puff schedules.  That was the difference between Florida and Michigan this year.  Michigan had only beaten two ranked squads, Notre Dame and Wisconsin, whereas Florida took on Tennessee, Arkansas, LSU, and Tennessee.  And while Michigan could say they only lost to the number one team, Florida could fire back that their only loss came to Auburn, a better football team than anyone Michigan beat this year.

As you can probably guess, I think we’re getting the right national championship matchup; although I’d prefer an 8 team playoff.  And while there are still some hurdles to overcome, I think we’re on our way to getting it.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Barry Bonds Is Capable of Crazy Things

posted by MoneyMouth

Given my prior rants on Barry Bonds, you probably aren’t surprised that I’m currently taking a lot of delight in the fact that Bonds isn’t getting his way right now and still remains a free agent. Apparently, the market for a 42 year old clubhouse cancer who will probably play around 100 games a season—with stipulations on day games following night games—isn’t as high of a priority as signing overpriced leadoff hitters (id est Juan Pierre and Gary Matthews Jr.).

What’s great to see is the Giants calling Bonds’ bluff that there is a mystery team out there interested in him and so the Giants should be offering him more money. In short, Bonds wants 2 years and $40 million while the Giants are prepared to offer him half of that with a lot of incentives to get him to actually try to play out his contract. It seems that the Giants are finally tired of Bonds sapping their funds and only creating problems with the media while the team struggles.

Nonetheless, what surprises me is that there isn’t another team (or 5) that are actively trying to sign Bonds for his last 2 years of his career. Plenty of American League teams could definitely benefit from his bat at the DH position while ensuring that he would play more than 125 games. Despite my previous statements, I still believe Bonds could hit 30 hrs and drive in a 100 runs this next season, not to mention provide plenty of protection and draw plenty of walks. And if you consider that the Giants are probably offering him in and around the $10 million per year mark while J.D. Drew just pulled down a $14 million per year contract for only hitting 20 homers and driving in a 100, I’d say that’s a pretty good deal.

But like I was saying, there are plenty of teams in need of that kind of a presence in their lineup and the free agent market isn’t providing many other options. The Angels are still in need of protection for Vladimir Guerrero[i] and the Yankees are always up for making ridiculous signings every year. Besides being a helpful power addition to the lineup, there are plenty of other teams that could benefit from simply having him on their roster. If I were the Kansas City Royals, I’d be at least offering the dude a 2 year, 10 million dollar deal just to put some fans back in the seats. They’d see an immediate increase in ticket sales especially as he approaches the all-time homerun mark.

And yet, the Giants appear to be the only team pursuing him, which begs the question: since when did teams really care about the clubhouse-cancer moniker? The Yankees have always been willing to pay big money for troubled players as long as they produce. The Nationals didn’t care when they traded for Jose Guillen from the Angels back in 2004. And the fact that A.J. Pierzynski even has a job should signal that the White Sox wouldn’t mind adding Bonds to the lineup. And it’s not just the MLB that has ignored the “troubled player” stigma either. The NFL and NBA have acted similarly with players like Terrell Owens, Randy Moss, and Latrell Sprewell.

It seems that the motto of competitive teams has always been “whatever it takes to win.”[ii] Suddenly, we are faced with a much different picture that leaves me to conclude that either something has changed within competitive ball clubs that have always desired to do whatever it takes to make them better, or (and I’m putting my money on this one) Bonds is that disliked of a human being that teams would rather steer clear of him and pass on adding a 30 hr, 100 run, 100 RBI bat to the team.

Consequently, it’s down to one team for Bonds: the Giants. However, it’s for that reason that I think it’s actually plausible to imagine Bonds playing for a different MLB team in 2007. You see, if the Giants aren’t willing to up the pay, I don’t think Bonds can put aside his ego for the two seconds it would take for him to sign a contract that he doesn’t agree with. And in that case, he might decide it’s more important to show the Giants up and sign somewhere else for even less money.

It may seem crazy, but then again, roids can make you do crazy things.


[i] I’ve thought about this possibility of the Angels signing Barry Bonds long and hard. There are two sides to the coin. First, I’m an Angels fan and I’m tired of seeing the Angels squeak through the season with marginal hitting, especially when Vladimir has minor slumps. Second, I hate Barry Bonds more than any other player in professional sports. I've come to the conclusion that putting Bonds in an Angels uniform would create such a divide within me that I would probably go into a coma.

[ii] The exception to the rule in this case is the New England Patriots who have be able to show that one can be competitive while refusing to put up with players who won’t think of the team first and foremost.