Friday, March 10, 2006

Tourney Update

8. Cincinnati1. UConnSyracuse
UConn
'Nova
9. Syracuse9. Syracuse
5. Georgetown4. MarquetteGeorgetown
12. Notre Dame5. Georgetown
6. Pitt3. West VirginiaPitt
'Nova
11. Louisville6. Pitt
7. Seton Hall2. VillanovaVillanova
10. Rutgers10. Rutgers

Predictions in italics. Wrong picks in bold

Well, at least my tournament winner is still in. The games don't start until later tonight, and I'll be out, so no running diaries. Still, we're poised for two stellar matchups between -- in all probability -- four NCAA Tournament teams.

As it stands now, the four remaining teams should make the dance, along with WVU -- even though they kinda stunk towards the end of the season. Marquette, Cincinnati, and Seton Hall are bubble teams, though I don't see a scenario in which they could make it, especially since George Washington lost the A-10 tournament.

That's it for this week. I'll probably update the brackets after tonight, and surely will be back for Selection Sunday. Man, is this the best time of year or what?

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Round 2: WVU-Pitt

8. Cincinnati1. UConnSyracuse
UConn
'Nova
9. Syracuse9. Syracuse
5. Georgetown4. MarquetteGeorgetown
12. Notre Dame5. Georgetown
6. Pitt3. West VirginiaWVU
'Nova
11. Louisville6. Pitt
7. Seton Hall2. VillanovaVillanova
10. Rutgers10. Rutgers

Predictions in italics. Wrong picks in bold

As expected, my boys fell hard to 'Nova. So my distant dreams of a dance ticket have been expunged. But that doesn't mean any lost interest in the tourney.

We're a bit more than halfway through the first half of WVU-Pitt, a game I've been waffling on over the past few days. As you can see in my predictions, I picked WVU. Then Pitt got out to that monstrous start against Louisville, and I figured they could be carrying some serious momentum into tonight. And then they nearly blew the game, all but negating said momentum.

WVU doesn't exactly look "on" to this point, but they still have an 11 point lead with 7:48 left in the first half.
[MORE] - It's running

I'd like to take this time to state that WVU is just a plain likable team. They move the ball, and while they chuck up a lot of threes, they still have a respectable percentage. There are usually five scrappy players on the court, giving it their all and having fun. What's not to like about them?

Looks like we're in store for another low scoring game, but not exactly because of great defense. WVU isn't shooting terribly -- 8-19, 5-12 from three -- but Pitt hasn't exactly been "on" to this point, 4-18 from the field, and now 1-5 from three.

And that's what happens when you don't pay attention to Collins. Some lanky big white guy on Pitt (didn't catch his name) kinda half-heartedly stepped in front of Collins, who did what any player would do -- took a step around him. Did Lanky White Guy keep with him? No, he went to double a guy without the ball. Let's just say Collins can hit open threes at an alarming rate. The entire WVU team can.

Round 2: Uconn vs. Syracuse

8. Cincinnati1. UConnSyracuse
UConn
'Nova
9. Syracuse9. Syracuse
5. Georgetown4. MarquetteGeorgetown
12. Notre Dame5. Georgetown
6. Pitt3. West VirginiaWVU
'Nova
11. Louisville6. Pitt
7. Seton Hall2. VillanovaVillanova
10. Rutgers10. Rutgers

Predictions in italics. Wrong picks in bold

It's all Syracuse in the early goings, as they race out to a 7-0 lead. Oh, and in case you missed it (which would be rather difficult, since it was played roughly 1.8 x 104 times yesterday), Jim Boeheim's rhetoric regarding G-Money may have been the greatest comments ever made by a coach at a press conference. Ever.

This is seriously one of the best games I've seen in quite a while. As such, the game log is rather long, so I've spared the main page. Just click on that [MORE] link for the full post.

[MORE]

ESPN just flashed the graphic showing that UConn is 0-7 from the field. This is promising for the Huskies. They have to start falling some time, right? They did for G-Town yesterday.

Last year, while closely following the Big East during my senior year at Rutgers, I developed a dislike for UConn's Josh Boone, mainly because the Scarlet Knights had zero people who could guard him. With Charlie Villanueva garnering much of the defensive attention, Boone was left to run wild. His prolific and emphatic dunks pissed me off to no end, so it was quite a delight to see him stripped on a fast break. It was equally as delightful to see a subsequent 3-point attempt blocked. Yeah, I may have picked UConn in this one, but I'm certainly hoping they lose.

The equilibrium was restored for a bit, as UConn started sinking some buckets, but it looks like SU is rolling again, up 10 with eight minutes left in the first. Alas, the back-and-forthness continues, with UConn slicing the lead to four with over three minutes left in the first. SU's early run may prove pivotal in the waning minutes of this one.

That brings me to a point about SU vs. UC yesterday. Right as the first half was about to expire, G-Money stripped Jihad Muhammed and splashed a tre as time expired. The game was decided by a single point. So while G-Money's three with .5 seconds left was the game decider, his half-ending tre was nearly as pivotal and went mostly unnoticed. Folks, that's why I love sports; all the little things that come together to form the bigger picture.

And there's Rudy Gay, proving his worth as the No. 2 pick with a stupendous putback slam. But SU answers right back with a backdoor cut, leading to a return slam. Ouch. A bucket and a foul mucked up SY's lead, which is down to four. And there goes that bum Watkins, traveling on a play where he should have been sent to the foul line. These are the kinds of mistakes a championship team doesn't make. They also don't make mistakes like the one Roberts just made, completely mistiming an easy rebound-putback combo.

Another interesting graphic - points in the paint favor Syracuse 22-8. That's 22 of 34 points in the paint. And while I pointed out things Syracuse did that aren't characteristic of a championship team, scoring 22 of 34 (now 37 thanks to a tre from the "other white guy") certainly is what champions do.

Long three missed by Uconn, shutting off the shot clock for SU, who should hold for a final shot. Yep, that's what they're doing, with "other white guy" almost muffing a pass to G-Money. Thankfully, G holds on, feeding a teammate right under the basket for SU's 24th point in the paint and a 39-29 halftime lead.

Five points each to start the second half, but that's not the interesting story here. Hilton Armstrong, obviously taking the mantra to "protect the ball at all costs" too seriously, just elbowed "other white guy" in the nuts. Seeing OWG had no reaction, I think it's safe to say he's neutered.

And now SU is up 14, leaving me with a feeling of impending doom. We've all seen this before: a No. 1 team down big, only to make a huge run in the last 10 minutes to win the game they should have been winning all along. It's an ageless story, and this game just reeks of it. Here's to hoping I'm wrong.

Time just can't move fast enough. And now G-Money is sitting on the bench, making me wonder if this is where UConn stages their comeback. But two botched threes will throw a monkey wrench in those plans. But a missed SU shot and a Rashad Anderson tre later, and we're at a five point game, with no sign of McNamara at the scorer's table.

Seriously, UConn is getting way too many second chance opportunities. Thankfully, Boeheim is smart enough to take a break, which hopefully means the return of McNamara. After watching them for the past two days, I have to conclude that whoever thought G-Money is overrated obviously does not have an eye for talent. This kid carries the team, both with his sweet shot and his impeccable feeds to teammates. Sweet, there's No. 3.

I know possessions with 12 minutes left aren't critical, but SU needs to score here. YES! A miss by McNamara is slammed home by Roberts, putting the lead back at seven. Armstrong to the line when they come back from a timeout.

McNamara to Roberts is beginning to look like Stockton to Malone. Those two are feeding off each other in a major way. This could be a key for SU down the stretch. As will second chance opportunities, like the one they just created.

Dammit. Absolutely gorgeous drive by G-Money, followed by an impeccable pass to Watkins, but his made shot is waved off for a foul on the floor. Disappointment, but that puts UConn one step closer to the penalty, at least. Perfect possession by SU, eating clock and feeding Wright for an open three. The lead is back to 11.

Ugh, and there's that Rudy Gay. I can't bring myself to dislike him because he's just so good. And now McCrosky is a little hasty, driving and getting his shot blocked, followed by Wright committing a sloppy turnover.

This is why G-Money is the man. He gets the ball off a missed shot, feigns a fast break, and then kicks it out to slow things down and keep the clock moving. Would have been a great possession had McCrosky not been called for a charge.

Now UConn looks alive, with a quick steal off an inbounds pass, followed by a trip to the foul line. Marcus "I stole lap tops, but I'm an athlete so just got a slap on the wrist" Williams hits both, cutting the lead to six. Another pivotal possession for SU here. Wright misses a tre late in the shot clock, but a Syracuse rebound gives them a fresh 35. G-MONEY! For threeeeeeee! Back up to nine.

Marcus Williams answers, and we're down to six minutes. Sloppy pass, easy UConn bucket, we're down to a four point SU lead. Timeout. Can you smell the doom?

Roberts just picked up his fourth, giving UConn and 1 and 1, of which they sink the first...and the second to slice the lead to two. And bye bye Roberts, who gets called for his fifth fighting for a rebound. That might just seal Syracuse's fate. And there's the two free throws to tie it.

Wright misses a wide open three on the ensuing possession, but thankfully there's a foul on UConn during the rebound. I still think SU needs to be eating clock. But they don't. Watkins misses horribly after a perfect pass from McNamara, and then SU blows the rebound chance. Doom yet, anyone?

Sweet, foul on Josh Boone, but somehow that's only his first. One more until the Orange are shooting one and one, but I'm more concerned about them posting two points on this possession. And can McNamara be any better? He continues these ridiculous no look passes (this one to Nichols) that are leading to buckets or at least open looks. Stupid media timeout. SU up by a mere two points with 3:25 left.

More G-Money. Feed by McNamara to Other White Guy, and with a steal on the next possession, SU has a two point lead and the ball with 2:30 left. Ouch. Turn around three by G-Money doesn't fall, and we're down to two minutes with a two point SU lead -- which is immediately erased.

Should be close to a minute left after this possession -- and McNamara misses a shot earlier in the shot clock. This does not bode well. Tie game, minute left, No. 1 team in the nation has the ball. Block by Other White Guy! And Other White Guy scores! Absolutely sensational.

Uh oh. A missed three by Gay is followed by a G-Money rebound, but not only is he called for traveling, he's limping. Doesn't look overly serious. NO! Anderson hits a three to give UConn their first lead. The good news: the shot clock is gone, and Syracuse has a chance to win with a two. I'm giving the ball to McNamara at this point and letting him do his thing. If he gets open, he shoots. If he's doubled, he's had great success finding the open man. That should be Boeheim's timeout speech: "Gerry, this is your game. If you want to shoot, shoot. If you want to pass, pass."

Pass it is, and Wright misses an easy looking shot. Sure, add in the pressure of the situation it's not as easy, but now SU has to pray for a missed free throw. One of two sunk...two of two. Three point lead, and there is no doubt that Gerry will be taking the final shot now.

Oh...my...God. I want to bear Gerry McNamara's children. Second clutch three in two days sends this game to OVERTIME, baby! And it was an NBA three, to boot. I don't know what Big East assistant coach called him overrated, but he should be immediately fired. However, SU will now have to endure an entire overtime period sans Roberts. Watkins, I know you're a freakin' bum, but it's time to step up.

Speaking of Watkins, he quickly picks up his fourth within the first minute of OT, meaning UConn is going to get real aggressive down low. Missed three by G-Money, and UConn now has a two point lead and the ball. Boone is hovering near the paint, and I fully expect him to get the ball this possession. But I'm an idiot, and ended up with a missed three.

Ensuing possession...ball moving around nicely...FOUL AND THE BUCKET! McCrosky finished strong and puts SU in a position to take the lead. And they do. HAHA! Armstrong just doinked a dunk attempt. The hilarity is kind of ruined, as G-Mac gets caught up, resulting in a jump ball. Syracuse has the arrow, and they've got it with a chance to go up three...or four.

Ouch. Missed runner, missed putback, but miraculously, SU is still able to recover the loose ball. Just over two minutes left, and Other White Guy misses a runner.

You can tell how tired these players are by the rainbow-esque arc on thier shots. A missed three by UConn results in a foul on the rebound, sending McCrosky to the line for one and one, which he inevitably doinks.

Here's UConn trying to beat Syracuse's zone with some quick passes along the perimeter, but that just results in another missed field goal, of which UConn has made none in OT. And here's another foul, giving SU a chance to open the lead to three. Minute fifteen left, and I think I need to sweep up the pile of fingernail bits next to me.

Nichols comes through were McCrosky failed, twice even. Three point lead for SU, UConn ball. Holy crap! Just as expected, UConn goes with some quick passes to beat the zone, and feeds Gay, who is covered by four-foul Watkins. But Watkins holds his ground, doesn't commit a foul, and now it's SU ball. AND THEY FOULED G-MONEY! Five point lead. Boone to Brown...missed three! Brown up again down low...BLOCKED BY WATKINS!

Thirty five left, and UConn is just launching threes now. And when you go with that strategy, one is bound to fall. Brown has the touch, and now it's a two point game with 28.5 left. Quite a conundrum here, since G-Money will be touching the ball as soon as they get over half court.

Great quip by a commentator: "Syracuse obviously wants to win." No shit, Sherlock.

Why did it take UConn two and a half seconds to foul Watkins? That may be the biggest break UConn gets in OT, and they nearly blew it (right after the foul was committed, the ball was in McNamara's hands). Clutch by Watkins, but the true test is this free throw to make it a two possession game. CLUTCH!

OTHER WHITE GUY! Qhat a steal off the inbounds, but he botches the layup, followed by a quick three on UConn's end. Seventeen and a half seconds left, Syracuse up one. Seriously, this team has made so many mistakes, and they're still in prime position to win this thing.

Thankfully for them, McNamara is at the line, sinking one, but misses the second. Will they go for a three at the end? Nope. Runner missed, followed by a scramble and a jump ball in favor of UConn. I can't believe how close Marcus Williams was to making that one. Five and a half seconds left. No timeouts for UConn.

WILLIAMS MISSES! SYRACUSE WINS! Holy God, I can't believe that just happened. Honestly, if you couldn't tell from my voracious typing, this is one of the best games I've watched since last year. This is just what I needed to take my mind off the NBA. March Madness, baby! I can feel it already!

Just Because It's Relevant

Memo on MLB's drug policy from 1991. Pay particular attention to Page Two.

Once again, this is not to further decry Bonds. Rather, I'm just trying to make it clear to his apologists (and denialists, if that's a word) that Barry did wrong and should be punished. With this letter, it looks like the whole no ex post facto sentiment I expressed yesterday is moot.

Read the SI article.
Check out the book.

While it's true you shouldn't believe everything you read, it's equally as harmful to ignore facts. So give it a shot. Read the article. Peruse the book. Become enlightened.

More Benefits of the New CBA

So it looks like my rant about the lack of a new CBA is moot now, as the owners and players have finally freakin’ agreed to terms that will extend the CBA six years. Well, in reality it’s four years, since we’ll likely be facing the same situation in 2010.

Now that there’s no looming threat of an uncapped year, the spending can begin. Teams will have an additional $8 mil or so to work with, which could be the difference maker for many. And while the teams nearest the cap will benefit the most (since they have some flexibility now as opposed to none under the old CBA), four teams now emerge as serious buyers in the free agency market. Minnesota, Green Bay, Cleveland, and Arizona will all have over $30 million in cap room to work with.

Of course, the fine details of the CBA haven’t all been divulged yet, but for now I’m just satisfied a deal is done. And just in case you’re wondering, while the cap is $102 million this year, it makes another $7 million hike to $109 mil next year. This most directly affects the smart front offices, since they can plan this off-season around the additional $7 million available next off-season. Dumb front offices, however, will probably blow all of their cap space this year, banking on the increase next year. But we all know that strategy never works.

Many veterans can now feel safer with the new CBA is in place, since many that were slated for the chopping block will now remain with their teams. However, keeping these veterans isn’t always the smartest move. Cutting a player triggers a cap charge for the current season, meaning the net cap savings is the player’s base salary minus the prorated portion of his bonus for the remaining contract years. As such, cutting a player later in his contract provides more net cap savings, since base salaries rise with each passing year, and there is less of a bonus to subtract. Now, try to follow me here.

Teams need to show foresight at this point in the game. There’s a fresh CBA with expected salary cap increases in the coming years. We already know of the $7 million hike next year, and many teams may run amok in the free agency market. However, teams can poise themselves for an even bigger spending spree if they cut players loose now that would be potential cap casualties next year.

Take Player A for instance. The net cap savings for cutting Player A this year is $1 million, a nominal amount for a player the caliber of Player A. But, while Player A is still largely effective, he’s on the wrong side of 30. Surely if he sticks around for 2006, he’ll be cut prior to the beginning of the 2007 league year. Even though cutting him will only provide menial cap savings this year, the savings down the road could make it all worth it.

While they save $1 million in 2006, the cap charge triggered by Player A’s release will be completely erased on the commencement of the 2007 league year. If, however, Player A is retained for 2006 and cut prior to 2007, the team will only save his base salary minus the prorated portion of his bonus, surely a far reach from the savings they’d realize if they cut him loose in 2006.

Let me be clear: in no way am I suggesting teams throw 2006 in order to better position themselves for 2007. But for some teams, this maneuver makes the most sense. Take my beloved Jets for example. They will only see $1.1 million in cap savings by cutting Kevin Mawae. But his base salary is through the roof. Once 2007 rolls around, they’ll have no remnants of Mawae affecting their cap, whereas keeping him would mean fewer saving in the long run. They’re not going to be a winning team this year, so might as well cut a 35-year-old who’s costing you a fortune. Save for the future.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Rutgers Wins!

8. Cincinnati1. UConnUconn
UConn
'Nova
9. Syracuse9. Syracuse
5. Georgetown4. MarquetteGeorgetown
12. Notre Dame5. Georgetown
6. Pitt3. West VirginiaWVU
'Nova
11. Louisville6. Pitt
7. Seton Hall2. VillanovaVillanova
10. Rutgers10. Rutgers


Predictions are in italics.

I'm so proud of my boys. Of course, I didn't get to see the proceedings, but boy does that box score tell a story. Everyone knew the keys to the game for each side; Rutgers needed to stop Whitney, and Hall needed to stop Douby. Well, guess who did a better job?

Not only did The Hall let Douby loose for 18 points, but they couldn't contain the guys around him. Eighteen points may be below average for the Big East scoring leader, but he also had seven assists, which led to 14 points from freshman Anthony Farmer and 10 from senior Marquis Webb.

On the other end of the ball, Rutgers did their job spectacularly. They kept the pressure on Whitney, forcing him into a 1 for 9 game and a mere three points. Donald Copeland did the bulk of the scoring, but without his big man in full force, Seton Hall didn't stand a chance.

Too bad it's going to be gruesome murder when RU faces Villanova.


I'd talk more about this Louisville-Pitt matchup, but it's more than one-sided. I don't know exactly when Louisville scored their first bucket, but there were under 13 minutes left in the first half. True, Georgetown didn't score a bucket until a similar time, but their opponent only scored 11 to that point. Pitt was over 20. And now it's 28-5, and Pitt looks all but unstoppable. I may have jumped the gun on my WVU over Pitt prediction. Judging by the way both teams have played of late, I wouldn't be the least surprised to see Pitt steamroll in their second round meeting.

What the hell happened?!? I get up for 5 minutes, I come back and it's a one possession game. Well, until Pitt hits a free throw and makes the lead 4. There we go: blocked shot might just seal the deal. Yep. Even a last second field goal is futile.

Remember that Pitt momentum I was talking about? Not so sure about that one right now, I'll be honest.

Dirka Dirka

8. Cincinnati1. UConnUconn
UConn
'Nova
9. Syracuse9. Syracuse
5. Georgetown4. MarquetteGeorgetown
12. Notre Dame5. Georgetown
6. Pitt3. West VirginiaWVU
'Nova
11. Louisville6. Pitt
7. Seton Hall2. VillanovaVillanova
10. Rutgers10. Rutgers


Predictions are in italics.

It's that time of the year again: The Big East Tournament. Now, I know some of my faithful readers out there (all four of you) aren't as enamored with the Big East as I. That makes sense, of course, since most if not all of you did not attend a Big East School -- though I went to Rutgers, which hardly counts.

Regardless, the Big East is defnitively the best conference in NCAA Men's Hoops, and as such I think coverage of this event is warranted. And don't give me any jive about the ACC trumping the Big East; it just can't be done at this point. Last year you might have been able to make a case. This year, it's as clear as the Barry Bonds steroid case (sorry, had to throw that in).

As I type this, Syracuse is up 66-61 with five minutes left against Cincinnati, which makes my prediction kind of biased, but I was going to pick 'Cuse anyway. Lordy Lord do I hate Cincinnati and their elbow throwing ways. And now that it's 66-65, I feel better about picking 'Cuse.

Oh, and about the title. Well, there's this thing with Cincy; I've loathed them for quite some time now. Just not a fan of the elbow-throwing, complaining to the refs style of ball they've perpetuated for years. And during last year's tournament, my ire was directed toward a selfish, terrible shot lobbing mofo named Muhammed. Didn't catch his first name actually until today, which I found out is Jihad (pronounced Ja-Had, but he spells it J-i-h-a-d). Makes me want to pop in my copy of Team America: World Police.

Update: Holy shmoley! I hope everyone just saw what I saw. Did Syracuse just catch the break of their lives or what? Up 71-70 with few ticks remaining, 'Cuse allowed Cincy to go up one with a 15-footer. Eight seconds left, and a sloppy inbounds pass leads to a steal by Cincy and an immediate foul. And the bum missed the second free-throw, which was immediately followed by a Syracuse timeout.

Gerry McNamara -- a.k.a G-Money -- took the inbound pass and took it all the way to the three line. A hop-step (followed by another step, which could have been calle traveling) later, and he hits a tre to put his team up by one with .5 seconds left, all but assuring a bout with UConn. It was further to my delight that Jihad Muhammed missed the final shot (though it was frighteningly close).



Georgetown - Notre Dame
Digger Phelps thinks Notre Dame can go deep into this tournament. Someone alert the press! Digger is picking 'Dame! You know, at this point, I don't even think sarcasm fully captures the degree of bias Digger shows towards Notre Dame. Needless to say, I made sure I wasn't tuned in for his $.02.

But I was there for the beginning of the game, and cringed as the boys from South Bend rolled out to an 11-0 lead. More than six minutes ticked off the clock before G-Town finally hit a field goal (a tre), which had me worried about my pick. Alas, the world evened out and Georgetown battled to trail by only three at the half, 30-27.

At the half, Karl Ravich asked a simple question: if you're up 11-0, why not run away with the game? This perfectly portrays why Ravich should stick to baseball. Why didn't 'Dame run away with the game when they were up 11-0? Oh, I don't know, maybe because Georgetown is a good team? That could be part of the equation.

Doug Gottieb, Ravich's partner in crime for the day, seemingly brushed off the question, launching into his own rant about how this game is a Notre Dame game, and that it would come down to the final possession. I have trouble believing Dougy G., since Georgetown began playing like the team they truly are about halfway through the first half. And if Georgetown and 'Dame are both playing to their normal capacity, Georgetown wins every time.

And as I type this, the Hoyas just went up 33-30, meaning they're on a 6-0 run to begin the half. Not only am I emphatically standing behind my selection of G-Town to win the game, I'm figuring it will be by at least six points. And I'll stick to that one until the clock hits zero.

The Final Two Minutes
Man, G-Town just keeps putting the ball in the basket, but 'Dame has the answers. What a terrible foul, too, on Francis, allowing the Irish to pull within one with under a minute left.

HOLY CRAP! What a lazy freakin' pass, nearly netting Notre Dame a turnover. Thankfully, G-Town recovered and called a timeout to talk it over. Looks like my six-point prediction won't come to fruition unless the Hoyas can grab a four point lead late and net a few free throws.

Bowman takes advantage of his size and power and puts in a relatively easy layup to put the Hoyas up by three. And since they have fouls to give, they're able to foul and keep the Irish off-balance.

It's a one and one opportunity now for 'Dame, down three, which doesn't bode particularly well. And the first one clunks out, all but sealing 'Dame's fate. It's going to take two made free-throws, a quick miss by 'Dame, followed by a foul and some more made free throws for my six-point prediction to come true. Oh well. I'll take five, but more importantly, I'll take a Hoyas win and a 2-0 record in my rather safe Big East Tourney predictions.

Eh, it's four points in the end. But that doesn't matter; it's over. Unfortunately, I'm going to miss the bulk if not all of my beloved Scarlet Knights against Seton Hall, but I'll be back tonight with thoughts and commentary, plus some more on Pitt-Louisville.

Bonds Didn't Use Steroids?

Well, at least according to Bay Area students and radio show callers. For a list of quotes, head over to the article at Deadspin. It's chock full of quotes from students who sincerely believe Bonds' massive growth was due to extra training.

I'm sorry, but these kids are the most closed-minded people I've met. The evidence is there. Why have a doping schedule if you're not going to dope? Once again, I encourage you to check out the article over at SI.com and review the excerpted evidence for yourself. I'm sure that the forthcoming book will only elaborate on this and give us a clear view of Bonds's doping habits.

This pure denial is an exercise in ignorance. Facts are being ignored, and people are outraged at facts. Of course, this type of thing has happened before. Hell, some people to this day believe that Richard Nixon did no wrong during his presidency (thanks to jscape over at Pinstripe Alley for that one. For a guy whose favorite college course was US History, 1945-Present, I can't believe I missed this one).

The only issue left open to contest here is the degree of Barry's wrongdoing. Baseball didn't have an active steroid testing progam until 2003, well after Barry's alleged (I think that term still needs to be used for legal purposes, though I doubt Bonds would sue me if I omitted it) doping commenced. So, under the rules of no ex post facto, Bonds really can't be punished for his past offenses, since they technically didn't violate MLB guidelines -- even if they did violate federal law.

While many people are, I won't go so far as to say his stats should be asterisked or deleted. Sure, I hate him as much as the next guy. He's an arrogant, lying sonuvabitch. But, like Bill Romanowski, Bonds stayed ahead of the game and used substances not explicitly banned by the league. Also like Romo, Bonds is a sleaze bag.

So if you're from the Bay Area, I plead with you to accept evidence and facts. Barry Bonds put illegal substances in his body for the purposes of adding power to his already prolific skills. Please, debate the degree of his wrongdoing, because that could at least be marginally interesting. But to deny that he put these substances in his body is a futile attempt to cover for a liar; it defines the word "ignorance."

Boomer: "Selig Needs To Resign"

Tell us something we didn't figure out years ago. In my travels through the world of baseball fandom, I don't believe I've found anyone who can adequately defend Selig. There's just too much incompetence there to circumvent.

Of course, I'm not posting this just because I hate Selig. I'm posting this because Boomer has some choice words for the man, and I couldn't have summed it up better myself.

"This is just something where Bud is bored. He has no clue. He's clueless," Wells said. "If you say something derogatory toward Bud, he wants an apology. My question is, why is he even wasting his time on something like that? What's the purpose? Does he have to let people know that he's there? Tell him to come talk to me. I've had issues with him the last few years. He said, 'Oh, we need to talk.' He said, 'I'll take you to dinner when I come to Boston.' Has he done it? Hell no. He's a piece of shit. And you can quote me on that."


I would have been satisfied had the rant ended there. But, since Boomer is Boomer, he felt the need to elaborate:

"Bud has a hard time leaving Milwaukee, let alone going out and trying to do [anything]," Wells said. "It's almost a burden for him to have to go to New York or a city like that. If he has that much passion for the game of baseball, then why isn't he doing something good for it? Name one good thing he's done for the game of baseball. "He worries about what people say about him and he Googles himself. I'm sure he's going to Google [his name] tomorrow and say, 'Oh, there's Dave talking about me.' You know what? Be a man of your words. He's ducked me for two years."


Remember, he's only the commissioner because the owners wanted to install someone they could manipulate. They looked around the room and saw Selig as the most malleable. Hopefully the next commissioner has something resembling a spine.

The link to the full article is here.

Best...Prank...Ever

I'm not a fan of these five-line posts with a link, but sometimes it's worth it. Like yesterday with the Bonds thing. Today, however, I'm putting up a short post for entertainment purposes.

Best prank ever.

In my mind, this one beats out the infamous prank when Yale students fooled Harvard students into holding up cards that collectively read "Harvard Sucks."

This one is pure genius. I'd like to shake the hand of the Cal student who consummated this prank.

That's Called Two In A Row

Have you ever half-heartedly wished failure upon someone just so they could learn a lesson? Like your buddy who dogs it at practice and doesn’t keep up with his conditioning outside of the team. You half-heartedly hope he loses so that he’ll have to step back and assess himself. And upon doing so, he learns a lesson and comes back full force. Well, I was hoping the same thing on the Knicks. I wanted them to lose every single game following the Francis trade so the executives could learn a lesson in humility. Alas, my dream is dead (was on Saturday, actually).

Yet, despite the hex I put on them, I’m not disappointed at all in the Knicks current winning streak. Well, two technically isn’t a streak, but with the 2005-2006 Knicks we’ll take what we can get. I will become enraged, however, if they regress from this point. I didn’t get to catch much of the Knicks-Pacers contest from last night, but I have my box scores. Oh boy do I have my box scores. Poring over game statistics is much more enjoyable if you haven’t seen the game, and especially if you find something of note.

I was going to wait until Game 10 of the Francis Era to report my initial findings, but something clicked as I entered my statistics into Excel last night. As I typed in each player’s points and assists totals, I watched their per minute stats inflate. Of course, this is in large part because of the aforementioned sample size. But it got me to thinking, Knicks played definitively better last night than they had in the six games prior.

This is a promising sign for the Knicks. The backcourt is loaded with “assets,” that are intended as trade bait this summer. The paradox here is that the players most attractive to other teams are the players that should be sticking around for 2006-2007. This is a veritable self-destructive situation for Isiah Thomas. More on that in a minute.

As it stands, the Knicks have a backcourt of Stephon Marbury, Steve Francis, Jalen Rose, Quentin Richardson, Jamal Crawford, and Nate Robinson. Obviously the intention is not to carry all six of these gentlemen in 2006-2007. And since all of them either have actual value or value in Isiah’s eyes, some of them will be packaged this summer for another crappy contract. Let’s take a look at each of these players and their value.

Marbury: There is little to no chance any team would take on Starbury’s ginormous contract this summer without unloading a crappy contract of their own. However, this shouldn’t be much of a problem for the Knicks this off-season because there is a zero percent chance Isiah will trade him. Think about it. Attitude and contract aside, Marbury is one of the most talented players in the NBA. What does Isiah value? Talented players. We all know his M.O. of obtaining the single best player in all of his trades. No team on earth would give up a player more talented for Marbury in exchange for his “dogging it” attitude and cap-crippling contract. He’s staying in New York, which is a shame, because he’s just going to continue dogging it through 2010.

Francis: Very similar to Marbury on all fronts, though his contract isn’t as atrocious. Isiah could land a player more talented than Francis (especially if he was packaged with a low-price, high ceiling youngster), so he seems the likely candidate.

Rose: Another inflated contract, but this one expires in 2007, making Rose a bit more valuable. When he’s gotten his minutes, he’s been producing on the floor as well, making me kinda want to keep him around next season. His expiring contract may be trade bait, but the cap relief is infinitely more valuable at this point. But, since he has actual value, Isiah will undoubtedly dish him for a more talented, more overpaid player.

Crawford: Most frustrating situation in 2005-2006, and I doubt we’ll see him in a Knicks uniform come November. Since the Francis trade, he’s seen 13 less minutes per game, which must be frustrating. And it’s shown in his numbers, too, dipping from just over 20 points per 48 minutes pre-Francis to 16 post (and that number was inflated by his 20 minute, 16 point performance last night). I thought Crawford was making some serious strides this season, but Isiah went and effed it up for him. Now he’s playing scrub minutes. You just watch him have a breakout season in 2006-2007 for another team.

Quentin Richardson: Chronic back problems. Uninsured, inflated contract. Nope, Q is completely untradable this off-season. Maybe, just maybe the Knicks can find a role for him next season. I wish upon a wish that he can fit into the offense as a pure shooter, but I don’t see him falling in line to that role at all. He was so successful on the Suns because he was placed in the middle of a system that had impeccable personnel. In New York, he’s stuck in the middle of a system that has no place for him. Lordy Lord do I decry Thomas for this trade. Though it did net us…

Nate Dogg: I’m going to punch through my bedroom wall the day he’s traded. He’s young and has shown tremendous potential (19.59 points and 4.38 assists per 48 minutes before he was deactivated), making him a valuable throw-in on a potential Francis trade. Maybe I’m wrong about this, and man do I pray I am. I just don’t see Thomas clinging onto Robinson if the chance to land an overvalued player comes along. It will just be too enticing. And we’ll wave bye-bye to the star that never was. Fare thee well, Nate.

In essence, the players with value are the ones the team should be keeping around, and the worthless ones are untradable. Did James Dolan miss out on that memo? Or is it just part of “the plan?” Any way this off-season goes down, the Knicks are screwed. This leads us to the self-destruction of Isiah. It’s impossible to avoid. He’s going to attempt a cannon ball in the free agency waters, and he’s going to wind up doing a belly flop. So instead of being killed by the cap until 2009, it will be 2011.

My recipe for the off-season: Larry Brown and Nate Robinson get a reality show in which Larry does to Nate what he did to Chauncy Billups. Then, Dolan buys a clue from a traveling salesman, which leads him to slam his head against the wall, simultaneously firing Isiah Thomas (and screaming “two years ago! Two years ago I should have done this!”). I elect Bill Simmons as his replacement, who keeps delighted readers privy as he holds a fire sale for the Knicks glut of “assets.” Okay, so maybe I went a little overboard in the fantasy world. But at least my fantasy world doesn’t lead to the destruction of the Knicks ::ahem:: Isiah.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Spring Training: Yanks 5, Twins 0

It may be spring, and the scrubs may be eating up much of the playing time, but it's always encouraging to see your pitching staff combine for a shutout. Not only that, but they worked out of a few jams along the way, making me a bit more confident about the development of the staff. A few notable observations:


  • Kevin Thompson RBI double. He's definitely making an emphatic push for the 5th outfielder spot.
  • Jorge bomb in the first. Picture perfect swing, and it wasn't off a late-inning scrub, but Twins legend Brad Radke. Another promising sign.
  • Chacon looked pretty much in control during his three innings, and definitely looks ready for a further increase in his workload. Maybe four innings next time?
  • Still not too hot on Sean Henn, still hoping he'll be converted into a reliever.
  • Michael Kay started yapping about Matt Smith as trade bait during his appearance in the ninth. Of course, I wholeheartedly disagree. The majority of the pitching staff is old and/or of questionable ability, so a flame throwing lefty should be in the plans for the future, not as trade bait. Though, I wouldn't be completely opposed should the right deal come around -- i.e. Andy Pettitte or Barry Zito.
  • Chris Prieto lost his last inkling of making the club in the sun.
  • In a brief Farnsworth observation, he seemed to be overthrowing it at the beginning of the 8th. Thankfully, the adjustment was quickly made.
  • Where's Mo? He was supposed to make his first appearance today, and though I admittedly missed fragments of the game, I didn't see hide nor hair of No. 42. What, Joe can't use him for an inning with a 5-run lead in Spring Training?

Game of Shadows

That's the title of a book written by Mark Fainaru and Lance Williams, two San Francisco Chronicle reporters who have thoroughly investigated Barry Bonds and his association with BALCO, Greg Anderson, and steroids.

I'm as glad as anyone that the steroid scandal has subsided, but this book is still infinitely interesting, mainly because I despise Barry Bonds.

An overview of the book can be found over at SI.com, and I put my full endorsement on the article. It certainly has inspired me to peruse the book at my next earliest convenience.

A Yankees-Twins recap is forthcoming.

Faux GM: New York Giants

As I stated in the previous post, the current CBA situation makes it rather difficult to assess how much cap room a team will actually have heading into free agency. Monetary numbers will fluctuate over the next few days, and as such strategies will change. Each team should have a Plan A (no CBA extension) and a Plan B (CBA extension with added cap dollars) in place, so I’ll present both sides here.

As it stands, the New York Giants are roughly $5.5 million under the old CBA cap, which should allow them to make at least one major splash in the market. Cutting Luke Petitgout – which should be a no-brainer at this point – will save them an additional $4.5 million, and Carlos Emmons could net $2 million in cap savings, pushing the number to $12 million.

Before I get to the free agency situation, let’s take a look forward to April’s draft. The Giants draft 25th, which is far from an optimal spot for a team with plenty of needs. Consequently, they likely won’t be selecting someone who will make an immediate impact. That is, unless they catch a break.

Auburn OT Marcus McNeil is slated for the pickin’ right around the mid-twenties, meaning he could slip right into the Giants hands. Even in the event he’s taken before the 25th pick, the Giants should still be able to find an adequate replacement for Petitgout. This is a draft deep with offensive linemen, and the team could find their man in the second or third round, leaving some flexibility with the first pick.

If McNeil is off the board, the most logical move would be the selection of Ohio State cornerback Ashton Youboty. Will Allen is likely bound for another city, and considering the injury history of Will Peterson, the Giants would be wise to select another young corner to complement 2005 pick Corey Webster. However, with the name Sam Madison floating around (more on that in a second), the Giants could be inclined to beef up their thin linebacker corps with Florida St. LB Ernie Sims, who could actually be the safer pick. The third option for the pick is South Carolina safety Ko Simpson. This would be contingent upon the team’s dealings in free agency, however.

As I mentioned before, the G-Men are reportedly in hot pursuit of former Dolphins CB Sam Madison. At 31 years of age, Madison isn’t likely to get a long-term deal, but with the current state of the CBA, he should be on board for at least two years so a team doesn’t have to count his entire signing bonus against the 2006 cap.

Considering the Giants do ink Madison (and cut Petitgout and Emmons), they should have some remaining cap flexibility. Their rookie pool number won’t be cap-busting, since they pick 25th in each round. Maybe not enough room to ink Will Witherspoon or LaVar Arrington, but possibly enough to nail down a safety. Tebucky Jones, Adam Archuleta, and Chris Hope are among the top names at the position in free agency, though the Giants should avoid all three. With the current state of the secondary, they need a guy who can help out in coverage rather than stop the run.

Former Buc Dexter Jackson is the most inviting name on the list, and the Giants should pounce on him. Shaun Williams just doesn’t look to be working out, and Gibril Wilson’s viability is still up in the air. Jackson could provide some solidity to the last line of pass defense. Present a CBA extension, however, the G-Men might not be able to focus their attention on Jackson, because…

LaVar Arrington may be the man. With an additional $10 million in cap room, the Giants could easily have enough room to ink the up-and-down former Redskin. There is obviously some bad blood between he and his former team, as evidenced by him paying the team $4 million to release him. As such, he may be seeking additional compensation – and this notion is only furthered when you realize that his agents are the infamous Poston brothers. But if he really wants to stick it to the ‘Skins, the division-rival Giants could be an intriguing target for Arrington, but he’ll need a new CBA for that idea to come to fruition.

A final key to the off-season will be re-signing DT Kendrick Clancy. That will keep their front four optimal, with Clancy and William Joseph surrounded by Osi Umenyiora and Michael Strahan. Umenyiora still looks to be on the rise, as does Joseph, so barring a significant regression from Strahan, the Giants should continue to boast one of the top front four in the NFC.

Thankfully for the Giants, they’re pretty set on the offensive side of the ball, though they could use a third wide receiver for Amani Toomer’s eventual replacement. They have but one potential hole on the offensive line, Petitgout’s tackle spot, which as previously stated should be addressed in a deep draft. Tiki’s clock may be ticking, but the Giants have more pressing concerns than finding his heir.

Recap
Needs (in order of importance): CB, LB, OT, S, WR

Non-CBA Plan of Action
FA: Sam Madison, CB; Dexter Jackson, S
Draft: Marcus McNeil, OT; Ernie Sims, OLB

CBA POA
FA: Sam Madison, CB; LaVar Arrington, OLB
Draft: Marcus McNeil, OT; Ko Simpson, S

Contingency Plan
Will Witherspoon, OLB; Kevin Shaffer, OT; L.J. Shelton, OT (though he should re-up with the Browns in the coming days); Chris Hope, S

Introducing: Faux GM

Everyone likes to play Faux GM, and since I have the medium to do so, I’m going to hop right on this bandwagon (though it’s getting a bit stuffy). And since we’re past the NBA trade deadline and there shouldn’t be any earth shattering moves in MLB prior to Opening Day (sans a Soriano trade, which should happen if the Nationals have an inkling of a clue), the NFL is where we’ll start.

As a precursor, I’m going to mention that I gleaned much of my salary cap information from Ask the Commish. That’s a link to the salary cap page, but you might want to go to the main page and click around for a bit. Definitely worth your time.

It’s tough to make these faux moves at this point, considering the limbo status of the CBA. The league year doesn’t start until Thursday, and if a new CBA isn’t ratified, big names could hit the market en masse. But, since this is a faux analysis, I’m going to play around a little bit. Basically, if a player is heavily rumored to be on the chopping block (e.g. Will Shields), I’m going to consider him up for grabs.

While I will maintain a degree of reason in assessing a team’s situation, I’m not too concerned with the specific terms of a potential contract. Sure, you can forecast how much a player will make in total salary and guaranteed money, there’s no way to realistically figure out what the net cap charge will be in the contract’s first year. Just remember, the 30 percent rule (i.e. total money earned in one year cannot exceed a 30 percent raise over the previous year) is in effect, meaning that there will be no “base salary of $1 mil for Year One and $10 mil for Year Two, the uncapped year” deals floating around in my faux office.

Seeing how I’m not a die-hard fan of every professional sports team, feedback is much appreciated.

The initial experiment will begin sometime later today.

Yankees Tidbits

It was inevitable that Giambi would spend some time on the bench this Spring Training due to injury. He’s not exactly a young buck anymore, so as his workload drastically increases, he’s liable to tweak something. Thankfully, it was merely his calf, which shouldn’t be much cause for concern. Call me when we get to the hammies and his back.

This pools Giambi with Sheff, who has been sitting out with a hammy tweak. His injury is a bit optimistic because 1) the injury was caused when he ran out a grounder, which is a nice sign, and 2) if this was the regular season, you know Sheff would be wiggling that bat four times a game.

Chien-Ming Wang got lit up pretty bad in his spring debut, though it’s not much cause for concern. "Not too good," Wang said. "Sinker, everything up." Some people are tweaking hammies; Wang needs to tweak his delivery. Not a huge deal, really. More can be gleaned from this after his next start, which should be this weekend.

At least he wasn’t Dustin McGowan.

IPHERBBSOHR
167211


Best quote from the ESPN game recap, regarding the Giambi/Sheff injuries:

New York already is without shortstop Derek Jeter, third baseman Alex Rodriguez, center fielder Johnny Damon, outfielder Bernie Williams and pitcher Al Leiter, who are at the World Baseball Classic.


Now, I don’t like them being away at this WBC bullpoppy one little bit. But I’m not about to make it seem like their absence is detrimental to the team.

From the Carl Pavano Files: "I just feel like I'm getting better and better." The next step in his rehabilitation is to start talking with his arm, not his ass.

Rounding things out, let’s make fun of the enemy for a bit.

"It's not like I was just out there trying to throw my pitches. If I was going to do that, I would have just thrown a 50-pitch bullpen. When I'm out there, I'm trying to get people out," the 2003 World Series MVP said.


Yes, yes, Josh Beckett got shellacked by the Devil Rays yesterday. It may be Spring Training, and I may have already spoken to the triviality of the games, but it’s still nice to see Beckett in a mess. May he find himself in many more this season.

R.I.P. Kirby Puckett, 1960-2006

I know that coverage of this is everywhere and I'm not adding much to it. But I'd be remiss not to post a link to the MLB.com tribute.

Always sad to see a gamer like Puckett go so early.

On a lighter note, there's a ray of hope that the NFL owners can get this damn CBA thing done today.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Yanks Tidbits

After three straight losses to open the unofficial season, the Yanks finally offed their AL East rival Blue Jays 3-2 on Sunday, with a return match set for 1 p.m. on Monday. Mike Mussina started the game and was pulled after allowing four hits and a run over 2 2/3 innings. I didn’t watch the game (non-televised event), so I can’t speak to Mussina’s stuff. But judging from the lineup he faced, it probably wasn’t all that great.

Phil Hughes came in to retire the final out in the third and did well enough for himself in the fourth, though he did allow a run on two walks and no strikeouts. It seems like a double standard, bashing Mussina and praising Hughes for similar outings. But the Yanks need to exercise patience and understanding with the 19-year-old fireballer, and an outing like yesterday’s should be seen as a sign of encouragement.

Nary a run was scored after the fourth yesterday, and there were a few notable performances. Jeff Karstens, a distant shot to make the 25-man roster, hurled 1 2/3 scoreless innings, offsetting two hits with two strikeouts and zero walks. True, it was a late innings appearance, meaning he was facing mostly scrubs, but it inspires optimism nonetheless.

I was even more encouraged to see that Mike Myers threw a perfect inning and a third, especially after reading a little ditty about him in today’s Star Ledger:

Mike Myers worked in the bullpen yesterday on changes to his delivery to see if he can be more effective against right-handed hitters. In 2004-2005, Myers -- a lefty sidearmer -- held lefties to a .197 average but had right-handers hit .360 against him.

To try to combat that, Myers will experiment with moving from the first-base side of the rubber to the third-base side when facing righties, and also to make his stride shorter and less closed. The goal is more movement on his pitches.

"It's something the first couple of times felt uncomfortable, then it felt OK, then right at the end felt real comfortable," he said after about 20 test throws.

Myers will try the alterations today when he faces the Toronto Blue Jays.


Once again, he was relegated to late inning work, but what better way to get acclimated to a tinker in your delivery? A significant drop in that .360 BAA vs. righties will come as a huge relief, as it will help combat the common strategy of pinch-hitting a righty to face a LOOGY.

Matt DeSalvo also pitched two junk-time scoreless innings in Sunday’s affair.

Not a good sign from Randy Johnson in his first spring outing on Saturday. Forget the fact that he let youngster Edwin Encarnacion run amok; we’re once again hearing about his mechanical problems.

The Big Unit said he was opening his shoulder too early Saturday and dragging his arm, especially on his slider.

Posada visited to the mound to tell Johnson he was opening up when he pitched from the stretch and went another time to get the pitcher a breather.

"I think he saw a lot of things that sometimes you don't see when you're a pitcher out there, and that's mechanics," Johnson said.


Hopefully this is just an early spring problem that needs requires merely minor adjustments, but it certainly isn’t a positive omen coming on the heels of a season in which Randy constantly purported that his poor performances were due to sub par mechanics.

I said last week that Chein-Ming Wang was slated to start next Monday, but I think I stand corrected. I haven’t found a list of scheduled starters at the time of this posting, but it would make more sense that Wang starts against the Jays today. This is disappointing, since I won’t be around until 3ish, at which point Wang will certainly have showered. Though maybe I’ll catch an inning of Matt Smith.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

2006 Begins Absent CBA Extension

This is going to be a short diatribe, but I have to get this off my chest. I was obviously miffed last week at the lack of progress in NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations, and at 7ish on Sunday, talks broke off with only hours looming until the official beginning of the 2006 league year. Sure, a deal could get done after the year starts, but there will be stemming legal ramifications. The ostensible message here is that a deal will not be reached, and the NFL will enter the season under the restrictive measures of the current CBA for 2006, with the uncapped 2007 all but assured.

There is one underlying message to the ongoing labor negotiations: no one wants an uncapped year in 2007; not the players, not the owners. The restrictions in place – six years credited service for free agency eligibility, maximum percentages of salary increases, no team salary minimums, restrictions on playoff teams signing free agents – were included so that the players wouldn’t intentionally balk at negotiations in an effort to secure an uncapped year.

We also know about the ramifications of a work stoppage following the Major League Baseball strike of 1994-95. It took years – and the insufferable inception of interleague play – to boost baseball back to an acceptable level of patronage. The NFL may eclipse MLB in terms of popularity, but that wasn’t so definitively the case in 1993. Without baseball, football was able to thrive and gain popularity. But now they’re risking the same fate as baseball, leaving them to play catch up for years to come.

In essence, everyone wants to get a deal done. And there have been rumblings over the weekend that the two sides were rather close to an agreement and were set back by borderline trivialities. So what gives? Well, the NFLPA is a union with one directive: to act in the best interest of the NFL players. And the NFL negotiating team are acting in the best interest of the league. But it is in neither party’s best interest to enter 2006 sans a new CBA. Therefore, it is reasonable to think that someone with selfish motives is pulling a few too many strings. Here are a few excepts from a report at Pro Football Talk:

Actually, we're hearing that the owner of one of the high-revenue teams is mucking up the efforts to strike a deal that will work for the union, the league, the low-revenue clubs, and the big-money clubs.

We're also hearing that the problem from the union perspective is NFLPA lawyer Jeffrey Kessler. As one league insider told us (echoing sentiments we heard on Saturday), "If they could just get him out of the room the deal would get done."


This makes the labor negotiations even more disheartening. If a bad apple or two can spoil the entire process, what does that say for the rest of the governing bodies?

Talks are supposedly set to resume at 8:30 (and it’s 8:31 as I type this sentence), meaning there may be a ray of hope. However, it will take the absence of Kessler and the one owner “mucking up the efforts” for the talks to succeed. Otherwise, they’ll just be going through the motions, “proving” their good faith to the NFL fan base. This one isn’t buying it.

As with most situations in life, there are two outcomes here: they get it done by midnight or they don’t. The failure to execute a CBA extension proves that the representatives of both sides are not acting in the best interest of both parties, not to mention the fans and sponsors who put the money in their pockets. Why, then, should fans continue to support the NFL?

Most people I’ve talked to think that a deal will eventually get done. While that will be all fine and dandy if true, it won’t negate the irreparable damage some teams are currently inflicting on their rosters in order to fit under the current $94.5 million cap. The big money is always spent in the first few weeks of free agency, and it is a great disservice if more money were available in mid-April, since the big names will already be off the market.

I’m hearing that Minnesota, Cleveland, Green Bay, and Arizona are the teams most primed for the small cap number. As such, there is no reason for them to not make an enormous splash as early as today. They have the money in place to sign the big names on the market (i.e. Brees, Alexander, James), and would be wise to spend it quickly. In other words, Jamal Lewis, Edge James, and Ahman Green should be off the market in the early goings (Alexander will likely hold out for more money or simply re-up with Seattle when he realizes he won’t get it).

It’ll be an interesting week, no doubt. It just would have been a lot more interesting with a $108 million cap.

Update: Minutes after I posted my ramblings, Alexander signs an eight-year, $62 million deal that pockets him $15 up front. I offer Shaun my sincere apologies, as I have grossly underestimated his mental facilities to this point.

Further Update: Ahman Green has signed a one-year deal with the Packers, pocketing him $3 million in base salary and a possible $2 mil in incentives.

Man, It Just Keeps Rollin' In: Free agency now begins on Thursday. Don't know how I missed this one last night.