not paralleled; unequaled or unmatched; peerless; unprecedented:unparalleled athletic ability.
Funny isn’t it, that we are all so caught up in the opening weekend of the 2009 NFL Season that most of us were totally oblivious to the fact that the greatest basketball player of our generation, and arguably the biggest athlete of our time was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame yesterday? Of course, I'm talking about Michael Jordan!
That’s right, I came right out and said it in the opening paragraph. Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player of our generation, and likely of all-time as well. Now, that’s not to downplay the accomplishments of those that were inducted with him, as the class the included David Robinson and John Stockton as players represents a collection of players that leave no shadow of a doubt as to their Hall of Fame credentials. Nor am I looking to downplay the players that came before Jordan or followed him. There is a place on the pedestal for guys like Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Julius Irving, George Gervin, et al, but there is only one seat on the thrown for the best player of all-time, and Michael Jordan deserves to sit in it above all others.
It’s almost too easy to list his accomplishments as evidence to what he meant to the game, but it is necessary to put him into perspective.
6 NBA Championships – Twice Winning Three Consecutive
2 Olympic Gold Medals
1984-85 NBA Rookie Of The Year
5 League MVP Awards
6 NBA Finals MVP Awards
14 Time League All-Star
10 Time All NBA First Team
10 League Scoring Titles
32292 Career Points – Third All-Time
30.1 PPG Scoring Average – First All-Time
7327 Free Throws Made – Fourth All-Time
2514 Career Steals – Second All-Time
5633 Career Assists – Thirty-Fifth All-Time
5004 Career Defensive Rebounds – Fifty-Third All-Time
Mere stats do not show the complete package that Jordan brought to the game. His competitive spirit and complete knowledge of the game saw him sink or set-up his fair share of game-winning shots, putting him constantly in the position of having the ball in his hands when crunch time hit. His ability to dominate lead many teams to incorporate special rules when it came to defending him, which in turn, lead Jordan to become a more complete basketball player who made his teammates better.
Jordan also transcended the game itself. Whether he rode the wave created before him by Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, or he helped to explode it further, one will never truly know, but Jordan created a persona in the game that is unmatched by any player that has attempted to follow him. He became a marketing powerhouse, both for the league and the hundreds of sponsors that saw him as a goldmine, using his fame to both grow the game and to become the most financially secure athlete of all-time until Tiger Woods came along.
So while David Stern continues to try and find the next Michael Jordan among his latest crop of NBA talent (?), we can rest assured that we just saw the unparalleled best ever get his just due, perhaps putting an official end to The Jordan Era.
Earlier this week, the PGA Tour learned its most valuable lesson:
Tiger Woods is bigger than the PGA and bigger than the game of golf itself.
After being warned by a course official that he and Padraig Harrington were taking too long during their final round last week, Woods blasted the official after he felt that warning caused his playing partner to hurry shots and took away what would have otherwise been a stellar finish between the two competitors.
Well, first things first; Woods was right. Golf is a game of concentration and peace. If either gets interrupted, it becomes hard to find that center again, and the more frustrated a player gets, the further away from it he floats. The rule needs to be updated to allow any penalty to be exercised after the completion of the round. If a player knows that there is the possibility of a penalty at the end of the round, then they’ll make a concerted effort to play at a speed that will keep them under that line. This way, they’ll have found a pace from the start that works for them instead of trying to enforce them changing that pace midway through their round.
But that’s not the point of this piece. The PGA rulebook also states that any players that mouths off about another player or tour official will be subject to a fine. Woods, perhaps the biggest face in American sports, knew this, but still felt the need to voice his opinion, and more power to him for that. Unfortunately by doing so, he put the tour in a tough position. He made the PGA Tour make a choice between penalizing Woods and alienating its biggest figurehead, or they could ignore it and keep him perched on his well-earned pedestal.
For its part, the PGA Tour chose to not fine Tiger and instead simply “discussed” the issue with him over the phone. Will this further embolden Woods to become the voice of the players? Will it make it more difficult for the PGA to police its players in future incidents?
The answer to both questions is most likely “yes”, but given the alternative, the PGA Tour was willing to sacrifice face in order to keep Tiger happy.
Woods if everything an athletic organization wants of its star. He’s warm to the media and the fans. He’s a family man who grew up with strong morals and exhibits a strong code of conduct. And while he picks and chooses the events he plays in, he’s still one of the hardest workers in sports, taking time off only for the sake of allowing others to shine in his stead. And his dominance has forced others to step up their game to compete when he does play. Without Tiger, the PGA Tour would be half the organization it currently is.
In the end, it wasn’t necessarily a difficult decision for them, made in the best interest of the Tour and its relationship with its best player. But was it really the best choice?
You finally make it to the big leagues. You’ve worked hard, busting your ass in the minor leagues and finally earning your shot with the big club. All that dedication, and now you’re getting your just reward. And how do you pay them pack for that opportunity? You take a whack-ass photo to be included with all press releases, scoreboard line-ups, and online at MLB.com.
Let’s take a look at some of my favorites.
Clete Thomas – Detroit Tigers
Someone forgot to tell this poor kid one of two things. First, they obiously surprised him with the photo, otherwise he wouldn't look like he had just seen a naked woman for the first time. Second, when your parents are kind enough to stick you with a name like Clete, it's probably best if you don't look like a foot!
Julian Tavarez - The Waiver Line (Where He Belongs)
I always called Tavarez, "The Cancer Man". I'm not sure why, because he doesn't look anything like the X-Files character, but perhaps it had something to do with this snapshot, where it looked like Tavarez had partook in something a little smoky. That might explain why he was constantly ineffective as a pitcher.
David Ortiz - Boston Red Sox
Ever wonder what happened to Fat Albert after Bill Cosby finally put down the pencil? Hey, Hey Hey.....
Yunel Escobar - Atlanta Braves
Television is great for borrowing one countries ideas and trying to nationalize it locally. If Escobar ever chooses to return to Cuba, he could totally be their Jay Leno. Either that, if he could take over for Patrick Warburton as The Tick...
Joba Chamberlain - New York Yankees
You've got to wonder if he came out of the womb with tobacco stuffed in his cheek, because I gotta tell you, I've never seen a picture of the kid a lump in the side of his cheek. Then again, maybe that load in his cheek isn't chaw....
Omar Vizquel - Texas Rangers
If Escobar is the chin, then maybe Visquel is the forehead. Damn, that thing goes on forever! If he ever quits baseball, he could always star as...
SINESTRO in the Green Lantern Movie...
Alright, that's about all the time I have for this fun tonight. I had a few minutes and wanted to do something a little different. Maybe I'll revisit this again in the future. Enjoy!
With the trade deadline now behind us, I can honestly say that the Major League Baseball season is finally getting interesting. Sure, I guess I have only very little to complain about, since the Red Sox are still in the playoff hunt, despite having dropped to 2.5 games behind the Yankees, but the season has had next to no excitement until now.
However, now I’m scared out of mind, so that adds a little peak to the games. Why am I freaked out? Well, I can see the weaknesses my team has and thanks to dropping two in a row to Tampa, I’m also realistic enough to know that this weekend’s four game tilt with New York now affects three teams, with Tampa now just three games back in the Wild Card standings as well. If Boston is going to make a stand, they are likely going to need to continue their 2009 dominance of the Yankees or face the possibility that they were nothing more than high expectations.
However, the big storyline of this series may not revolve around the game itself. Rather, it will be the Big Papi show in the Bronx as Ortiz makes his first trip to New York after news broke of his inclusion on the steroid list, by a New York newspaper nonetheless. If you thought Boston fans were harsh on Alex Rodriguez, I’m willing to be we haven’t seen anything near what Ortiz will face tonight.
On TOPPS of the CardMountain
Major League Baseball today announced an exclusive deal with TOPPS that would give the sports card company sole rights to printing team logos and such on baseball cards. The thought behind this is that it will stabilize the collecting card market after years of over-saturation. Personally, I couldn’t really care. The steady rise in price of card packs, not to mention the plethora of sets have made it difficult for the average fan to take part in what once was a pleasurable past time. Still, in my day, TOPPS wasn’t a name of quality, so taking a company like Upper Deck and putting them into a secondary market seems like a backwards maneuver to me.
If Major League Baseball really wanted to stabilize something, they should sit back and look at player salaries instead.
Speaking of salaries
We’ve had a number of discussions here lately in regards to teams like Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and Florida holding never-ending fire sales. Of course, the first thoughts of many would be to have a salary cap in Major League Baseball that would allow all teams to compete for every player. That seems all fine and dandy, but it isn’t realistic. I think the solution would be to start smaller.
Therefore, I’m proposing this. The magic formula for fire sale teams is to give them prospects. But the question needs to be asked as to why these teams can’t draft and sign their own. The reason is that agents have been allowed to control how the draft is executed, enabling incoming players to basically determine who they will be drafted by due to signability concerns. This means the rich continue to get richer, while the poor teams either lose a draft choice by picking a player they can’t sign or by having to settle for a lesser prospect that they can. Want to put a stop to it? Do two things:
1.)Make it so that incoming players cannot sign a major league contract. They can get their signing bonuses, but they aren’t guaranteed major league money at this stage.
2.)Instill a salary cap on incoming rookies. They do this in the NBA and in the NFL, why not major league baseball. If they aren’t signed to major league contracts, then they aren’t under the protection of the union either, meaning that their negotiations can be handled in a much more cost affective manner.
The big number mind set is being put into place by these agents now before these kids ever see draft day, so why not change that first.
Alright folks, that’s what’s on my mind for the MLB Minute this week. Let me know what’s on yours.
The trade deadline represents one of two things to baseball fans. To some, it represents the assembly of the final piece of the puzzle, helping a contender become a favorite. Yet to others, it signifies the beginning of the end, where teams admit to themselves that they are done and start preparing for the years to come, by jettisoning the aforementioned puzzle pieces in exchange for highly regarded prospects.
And isn’t that just the buzz word of the day; prospects.
Dictionary.com describes prospects as “anticipation; expectation; a looking forward,” among other things. And isn’t that really what a prospect is in sports, an expectation of something to come. While expectations are high by nature, they really are nothing more than a role of the dice, a chance taken on an investment, and most realities, a gamble with nothing more than a 10% payout.
So why is it that both sides of the battles fought at this time of the year put so much faith into the hope that they have the golden nugget? Teams have spent years and millions of dollars hoping for some players to shell out to what they expected them to be, only to become disenfranchised with the player and shipping him off in a package for the next great thing. Yet year after year, the buyers don’t want to spend their vaunted youngsters, and the sellers want to keep picking from the same tree.
Let’s face facts though, there is a reason there are so many minor league levels that a player needs to ascend before he reaches the big leagues. They are there to weed out the plethora players that will never see a pitch on the big stage, and they don’t care how much potential you had when you were drafted or who you were supposed to be. They only care what you are and how quickly you are progressing.
This all being said, a team that is rich in prospects should have no qualms in surrendering one of them if they get a sound veteran, who would be under club control for the next year or so, or would at least be signable immediately after acquisition.
The other side of the coin also demands to know why some of the lower revenue teams continue to turn their rosters over in hopes of hitting the jackpot. Sure, you can’t win the lottery unless you play, but you can also go broke trying, and at some point your fans become the casualties of forgotten trades. There is no winner when the expectation is that the fan base can’t get behind a team that they don’t recognize from year to year.
The long and short of it is this. Prospects are exactly what that, nothing more, nothing less. Holding your breath while waiting for your horse to come in is only going to suffocate the team in the end, cutting off the fans in the process.
Hitting The Links
-MySportsRumors has a good piece written on what we should consider David Ortiz in the wake of the NY Times report on his positive test in 2003.
-Need to keep up with the latest on the Trade Deadline, Fox Sports has a live feed going.