Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Derek Anderson and LeBron James

Last night, Derek Anderson was caught laughing on the sideline during the 49ers' rout of his Cardinals and then blew up when asked about it in the postgame press conference.


It strikes me as a case of people expecting athletes to act how we want them to act rather than be the real people they are.


We have no idea what kind of person Derek Anderson is, but now we're judging him don't know. We just hate the fact that Derek Anderson would dare to laugh while his team was getting blown out.


The usual sports equation goes like this, however: Great talent = Great person. The two have no correlation to one another, not a bit, and yet has soon as a tremendous talent arrives on the scene, sportswriters fall all over themselves to declare how terrific a person he is.


Here, for example, is Joey Votto's cover, totally framed around what a "nice guy" Joey Votto is.


Then there's LeBron James, whose public persona started to take a hit last summer with "The Decision."


Contrast that with Sports Illustrated's 2003 depiction of a modest James or, more recently, Michael Rosenberg's defense of an earnestly competitive James who deserves our admiration.


Here's Adrian Wojnarowski's latest column.  What do you think of King James now?

Monday, November 29, 2010

On the other hand, I refuse to believe...

...that Derek Jeter is going to sign with a team other than the Yankees.

Unless it suddenly becomes concrete and official, I don't see it happening.  There's no way.

Interesting note:  You know how it's always talked about how you never see a player play for one team for the entirety of his career anymore?

(The people who assert that forget that Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Tris Speaker, Billy Williams, Warren Spahn, etc. all switched teams at the end of their career, as if this was somehow a new occurrence.)

Anyway, your National League All-Star Game starters this past year:

Hanley Ramirez, SS, Florida
Martin Prado, 2B, Atlanta
Albert Pujols, 1B, St. Louis
Ryan Howard, DH, Philadelphia
David Wright, 3B, New York
Ryan Braun, LF, Milwaukee
Andre Ethier, CF, Los Angeles
Corey Hart, RF, Milwaukee
Yadier Molina C, St. Louis
Ubaldo Jimenez, SP, Colorado

Exactly one of those players -- Ethier -- has switched organizations in his career, and that was before he reached the Majors.  Every single one of them has played each and every game in his career for the same team.  What do you think about that?

As for the American League side, seven of the 10 players (Ichiro, Jeter, Longoria, Mauer, Cano, Crawford, Price) can boast the same, with only Miguel Cabrera, Josh Hamilton, and Vlad Guerrero serving as the exceptions.

That's a pretty stable sort of life for a professional sports league's superstars.

This is irrelevant, but Justice John Paul Stevens is mistaken about the "Called Shot."  That's one of those myths, like Abner Doubleday or Plymouth Rock or the idea that corked bats help hit a baseball farther that I think would serve us all a lot better if we forgot we ever heard them in the first place.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

I still believe in Boise State

It's the off-season, so I'll be updating this much more often in ensuing days.

I stayed up for the brilliant game between the Boise State Broncos and Nevada Wolf Pack last night.  I'm not ruing my lack of sleep one bit.

Maybe I'll be the first to declare this:  Kyle Brotzman, the Boise kicker who missed a 26-yard field goal at the end of regulation, is the American college football version of Ghana's Asamoah Gyan, who missed a last-second penalty shot at the World Cup against Uruguay.  Heartbreaking.  Both those guys could make their kicks in their sleep, but in the crucial moment they came up lacking.

The rest of the college football season is now anticlimactic.

Ah, what am I saying?  College football always becomes anticlimactic in November and December.

Cam Newton reminds me of Ohio State's Troy Smith, albeit he's bigger, stronger, slower, and with a weaker arm and worse footwork...

I'm sorry, I guess he doesn't remind me at all of Troy Smith.  You know who he reminds me of instead?  Tim Tebow.  Big, strong, loves to run for first downs up the middle on third and short.  Same polarizing cloud of controversy surrounding him, too.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

"Shock the World"

ESPN's front page headline for Jayson Stark's Giants championship column is, bafflingly, "Shock the World," though "Trophy finds home in San Francisco" is the title above Stark's actual article.

Far better.

After all, the 92-70 Giants had a better record than the 90-72 Rangers this season.  In Dave Sheinin's Washington Post preview of the playoffs, he listed the Rangers as the eighth best team in the playoffs and forecasted a first-round elimination at the hands of the Rays.  When Texas outlasted Tampa Bay in a hard-fought series and then dominated the Yankees in the ALCS, heads were turned... much the same way the Rays had seized critical opinion entering the 2008 World Series against a then-underrated Philadelphia team.

The San Francisco Giants, as has often been stated, featured an odd lineup of self-described misfits... but they were placed alongside a talented pitching staff that outclassed Philadelphia's hyped H2O of Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt.

This was a championship earned, and a fitting titleholder.  No flukes here.