Friday, January 27, 2006

Sans Stats

Welcome back, loyal readers, for another edition of Sans Stats, the only place on the Internet where you can find a guy trying to do sports in news show format. Not that I’ve searched around for another other similar material, but I think that my mere conjecture should be enough for everyone.

What better place to start today’s show than with the man mentioned just about every week in this here space: Ron Artest. Some weeks I defend him, some weeks I berate him, but all in all I like the guy. Never before have I known of a guy who can say all the right things followed by all the wrong things like Artest. The most disappointing aspect of this is that Artest didn’t have a zinger parting line for the Pacers.

"I think it's good for the Pacers (that I'm leaving). I think they will be able to focus on playing basketball. I can focus on playing basketball myself and be very happy. I'm upset that I won't be with Donnie Walsh anymore. It was an emotional meeting, but it wasn't like what was reported on TV. We had a good conversation."

Are you serious, Ron? Nothing to tickle the old funny bone? Nothing to infuriate David Stern? Most of all, Artest’s lack of colorful commentary did a great disservice to the national media. Without fuel added to this fire, what are they going to talk about for the next month? Maybe Scoop Jackson will fill the void with a column railing against the Pacers for trading Artest, a black man, for Stojakovich, a man with white skin (though I don’t know if Serbs are considered “white”). Come on, Scoop, I need to know the injustice of this world, and how the black man is treated unfairly. Only $55 million? A white man would have gotten $55.5!

ESPN’s Marc Stein had a few words about the trade, including this gem:

Yes: Stojakovic is a world-class marksman and the Pacers desperately need one after Reggie Miller's retirement. Yes: Stojakovic gives Indy undeniable length at small forward and will allow Stephen Jackson to return to his natural position of shooting guard. But remember: O'Neal might be too banged up for even a rejuvenated Peja to make a major impact in the second half.

Four hours later, ESPN reported that O’Neal will miss eight weeks with a groin injury. You couldn’t script this.

You know who always makes me crack a smile? Dan Marino. He’s been in the news this week, giving advice to second-year pro Ben Roethlisberger on his upcoming Super Bowl appearance.

“My advice would be to have fun with it," Marino said.

I have some advice of my own for Big Ben: don’t take advice regarding the Super Bowl from Dan Marino. That would be like taking advice on not sucking in the playoffs from a Manning. You’re a Hall of Famer, Dan, but a ring didn’t get you in there.

While I’m doling out advice, I might as well tough on Daunte Culpepper, who is mulling the possibility of negotiating his own contract following the firing of his agent, Mason Ashe. The only question is: what’s to negotiate? Culpepper is signed through the 2013 season, so he’ll have another eight years before he can hone those negotiation skills.

Well, after expressing this thought to my buddy Scott, he reminded me of an irrefutable fact. Contracts are only valid when both parties agree they are. As soon as one party deems a contract unfit for their current conditions, they can claim invalidity and somehow escape it. For evidence, see Owens, Terrell, or more recently, Heimerdinger, Mike. Culpepper obviously thinks he’s worth more than the $8 million signing bonus he received prior to the 2004 season, as evidenced by his awe-inspiring performance in 2005.

If one positive thing can be said about Culpepper as an agent, it’s that he’ll probably find an inkling more success than Drew Rosenhaus did with T.O.

Baseball is at a lull right now, but we here at Sans Stats couldn’t help but laugh our asses off this week at the expense of the Boston Red Sox. Okay, there’s some level of bias here, since for the most part we’re Yankees fans. But still, it’s universal hilarity when antics like this go down. In case you haven’t read the news, Boston’s play for Indians outfielder Coco Crisp fell apart this week, apparently because add-on player Guillermo Mota failed his physical.

This announcement came directly on the heels of another huge announcement: Theo Epstein is back in the saddle as the Red Sox GM. These two stories are linked in the mind of Eagle-Tribune writer Rob Bradford, who says that Theo came back too late to fix the mess. Apparently Bradford is blind, deaf, and dumb, because those of us with senses know that Theo has been calling shots for longer than anyone will let on.

The real question here isn’t whether Theo was around to fix the Crisp trade mess. We know Theo has been officially back with the Red Sox for some time now, and probably was working with the team in an unofficial capacity before that. The question the papers should be asking is: why didn’t Mota take a physical when he came over from Florida? Isn’t this enough to call the Cherington-Hoyer GM tandem incompetent? Doesn’t that make Red Sox fans a bit more uneasy about the state of Beckett’s health?

Let’s face it: the Red Sox brass wanted to make a statement on the heels of Epstein’s departure, and they got that opportunity with the Beckett trade. They had all the facts about Beckett, bum shoulder and all, and still consummated the trade. Worse yet, they neglected to have Mota undergo a physical examination. And now they’re in a bigger bind, because this negligence has led to the collapse of a trade that would have benefitted the Sox.

To top it all off, Theo stated that he wants to run the team in the same manner as the New England Patriots, since they’ve had so much success. Good luck, Theo. You have spills in Aisles 9, 10, 13, and 15 before you can even think about righting that ship.

In other baseball news: the World Baseball Classic is inane and stupid. Thank you.

This one is pretty fresh: the Toronto Raptors axed GM Rob Babcock last night. Richard Peddie, president and CEO of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, issued the following statement regarding the decision: "I'm disappointed that Rob was the wrong choice for us. In hindsight, we should have gone with someone more proven."

Translation: “You suck harder than Brianna Banks.”

However, the quote of the century goes to Babcock. "I was very surprised. I had no idea this was coming," Babcock said. "They told me they want someone with more experience."

No idea this was coming? Your team is worse than the Knicks. You traded a marquee player for Aaron and Eric Williams (we’re not counting Mourning because he never played a game for Toronto), your first draft resulted in a bust – Rafael Araujo – and blew his 2006 first rounder on Charlie Villanueva.

Sorry, Babby, but they only let you screw up a team so much before they let you go. For future reference, the more dumb moves you make, the greater chance of you getting fired. Not that anyone’s going to give you another chance anyway. Then again, Isaiah could use some assistance as the Knicks GM, given his recent legal troubles.

Saddest part about that: it wouldn’t shock me in the slightest if Isaiah hired Babcock.

Wrapping things up in the NBA, breaking news in Boston. The Celtics just got worse. Tough to do, but Danny Ainge succeeded. The basic trade: Mark Blount and Ricky Davis for Wally Szczerbiak and Michael Olowokandi and a first rounder.

Here’s the problem for the Celtics: Ricky Davis was their second best player. What’s worse: Szczerbiak is now probably their second best player.

I realize that getting rid of Blount’s contract was a priority for the Celtics, but to take on Wally Szczerbiak’s seems to negate any benefit from Blount’d departure. In fact, though Szczerbiak’s contract is one year shorter than Blount’s, he is owed more total dollars, rendering the deal further pointless.

That about wraps up this week’s edition of Sans Stats. You may have realized the absence of a weekly cog, the Idiot of the Week. Well, we have a new line of thinking here at Sans Stats: everyone we cover is an idiot.

To paraphrase the fizzled out Andrew W.K., party till ya puke. See you next week.