Friday, February 29, 2008

Seattle Supersonics: Gone but not Forgotten

On Wednesday,'s the Sports Guy Bill Simmons asked for Seattle Supersonics fans emails about their anger, frustration, and sadness about losing the team to a bunch of rednecks from Oklahoma. Yesterday, less than 24 hours later, he got them. Simmons received about 3000 of them, and it made quite a statement. I didn't get one sent to him, but decided to submit the following today anyway...


So I was all set to write you yesterday, when I see 3000 distraught Sonics fans already beat me to it. Wow. Now THAT's a response! Although you'll probably never read this, I wanted to add two quick things that I didn't see in the mailbag (and this is also therapeutic):

(For the record, I fell in love with the Supes in 1990, when the Bulls were in Vancouver to play an exhibition game against Seattle. While I was there to see MJ, I came away talking about rookie Gary Payton, who wore #2 with a high flat-top, and led everybody in scoring and trash talk. I also found out who Shawn Kemp was- who became, and still is, my favorite NBA player of all-time- who at the time was a 20 year old 2nd year power forward who wore #40 and had 6 dunks in the game. I've been a Sonics fan ever since)

One is that while the hottest places in hell should be reserved for David Stern and Howard Schultz, I don't blame Clay Bennett. He and his redneck buddies had a brand new arena with no tenant and wanted to bring a pro sports team to their town. They looked for a team they could move, whiny cry-baby coffee bitch Schultz sold them the Supes, and now Stern is allowing them to leave. The fact Bennett is moving the team should rate about the same on a level of surprise as OJ Simpson ranks on the Vengeance Scale when he says he's trying to find the real killer. We knew this was coming.

The man who doesn't get enough blame however is former GM Wally Walker. You've probably heard this before, but the Jim Mcilvaine signing is what triggered this whole mess. Kemp was the best power forward in the league at the time (yes I'm biased and hate Karl Malone, but Kemp was the 2nd best player in the '96 Finals after MJ), but Walker refused to talk extension. Instead, he gave a seven year $33.6 million contract to Mcilvaine, who had done nothing with the Bullets, and did nothing in Seattle.

It upset Kemp, he forced the worst 3-team trade in history, and the Sonics were never the same. Kemp's career went in the tank, Schultz eventually takes over and runs GP out of town, fan interest sinks, Schultz throws a hissy fit and sells to The Rednecks, and now the Supes are leaving.

Those early-mid 90's teams were my favorite I've ever cheered for (although considering my other teams are the Mariners, Vikings, Canucks, and UW Huskies, I suppose that's not saying much). I hope the city at least keeps the name and colors, and that Kevin Durant bolts for free agency ASAP.

thanks for listening to all of us Bill,


I don't expect people outside of the Pacific Northwest to really understand or care. Although I'd like people to, it's human nature to feel like "that's too bad but it won't happen to us." As much as I hate David Stern for being such a cold-hearted SOB, I also understand why he's taking this stand: if he caves now, any owner in his league, and really that of any of the other pro leagues, will have a tough time getting citizens to pay for their new arenas and ballparks and stadiums. Minnesotans just paid for the vast majority of a new Twins ballpark only to watch the team let Torii Hunter and Johan Santana walk because they say they couldn't afford them. This from Carl Pohlad, one of the three wealthiest owners in baseball. Folks in Seattle paid for new baseball and football stadiums when their teams threatened to leave, and help pay for the renovation of Key Arena in 1995. Now they're being told they have need a new one?

As a fan, this is all depressing and disgusting at the same time. Being a sports fan is about the most illogical and irrational thing you can do. You give a ton of investment in time, money, and emotion, and the owners and players are the ones who reap the benefits. Our payoff is a championship, which for my aforementioned teams, has been 30 years and counting waiting for one. I would love to know if the Green Bay Packers model of fan ownership can work in the NBA. We know it's worked in soccer, as fans recently purchased a second division English football club, and now fans of world power Liverpool want to do the same. Could fans of the NBA, major league baseball, or the place it's needed more than any other, for the six NHL hockey teams in Canada, do the same? This article in Time magazine doesn't answer the question, but at least asks it. With fan ownership your time, money, and emotion invested would actually make a difference, as your voice would be heard and your dollars spent on the team would actually be a real life investment. Not to mention with fan ownership, the team would never be able to leave because you wouldn't buy it a new stadium.

It would be the one way for fans, who foot the bill for the billion-dollar pro sports business, to take some control back. It's not often I want to emulate Cheeseheads, but in this case, I would love if the green and gold of the Sonics could be like the green and gold of Packers.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Troy Williamson: Gone but Not Forgotten

If a picture's worth 1000 words, then I guess I can stop typing right here. The Troy Williamson era is officially over in Minnesota. Yes, yesterday the Vikes dealt the 7th overall pick from the 2005 draft, and the last remaining player that was involved in that awesome Randy Moss deal, to the Jacksonville Jaguars for a 6th round pick in the upcoming draft. This picture, taken from that same Strib story, really says it all for a guy who was incredibly fast, but just had no idea how to catch a football, especially on deep routes, which is supposed to be his specialty. This was a key drop in a game against Denver last year where he was WIDE OPEN! That's generally when most of his drops came, when he was streaking down field, a good five yards past the defenders. A good throw would be made, and Williamson would act like he was blindfolded. I remember a catch that hit him in the back of the head, and another that bounced right off the facemask. He couldn't locate the deep ball if you gave him Google maps.

It's of course fitting that the Jags get Williamson, since Mike Tice, the coach who drafted him, is employed there now. Williamson is a great example of why you shouldn't put too much stock in the combine workouts. He was a mediocre college receiver who ran some crazy 40 time at the combine (a 4.3 something or other), and despite his lack of on-field success, Tice was so blown away he had to draft him with the 7th overall pick. Actually when you look at that entire 2005 draft, which was awful, it shows that Tice shouldn't have been allowed to evaluate talent, let alone coach it.

Anyway, I'm not entirely sure what the Jags think they're going to do with Williamson. It's one thing when a receiver has concentration issues, but it's another when the guy just cannot react to the football when it's in the air. Last I checked, that's not really something you can learn. Oh well, a 6th round pick isn't much, but it's better than nothing.


On the free agent front, the Panthers signed free agent wide receiver Mushin Muhammad, who was arguably the best receiver available in a weak class. I had read the Vikes were interested, but it makes since for Muhammad to return to the one place he had a lot of success before departing for big free agent dough with the Bears.

Still on the market are names like Jerry Porter, Bernard Berrian, and Marty Booker, and I'd love to see the Vikes sign at least two of those guys. There's plenty of spots available and if we're to believe Rick Spielman when he says Minnesota will be aggressive in spending the almost $30 million they'll have under the cap, then we'd better see at least either Porter or Berrian in purple next year. I'd also like to see them take a run at former 1st rounder DE Justin Smith and S Adieu Williams, both from Cincinnati. Yes, the Bungles D has been pretty awful the last couple of years, but if the price isn't too high, they'd be good gambles to take, and would give the Vikes more flexibility in the draft, especially with their 1st pick at #17.

WR, DE, and S are definitely their 3 big need areas (I would argue QB but the Vikes seem to disagree. After cutting Kelly Holcumb it looks as though they'll add another veteran, but probably just for depth and not so much to push Tavaris Jackson. David Carr anyone?), and it'd be nice to shore up a few of those areas so you can either take the best player available at 17, or trade down. Personally if they keep the pick I'd love to see them take Oklahoma WR Malcolm Kelly (who probably won't be there) or Texas WR Limas Sweed, who's a bit of a sleeper because he's a big-time athlete, and produced when they threw him the ball, but was hurt for part of last year.

I want no part of Cal's Desean Jackson, no matter how fast he ran at the combine. He's 169 pounds and last year, with a veteran team around him, he should have been a Heisman contender. Instead, he was disappointing at best, and will be lucky to be anything more than a #3 WR and return man in the NFL. Not a bad guy to gamble on in the 2nd, 3rd or 4th, but not in the first round.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

I Hate the NBA

Hi there. Me again. How'd you celebrate NHL Trade Deadline Day? The three sports networks here in Canada were kind enough to break from their 24 hour poker, Mixed martial arts, fake wrestling, and all-Toronto sports coverage to have live coverage that started at 5 am this morning and is still going. And Canadians are glued to their television sets. In the States? Most people don't even know what professional hockey is, let alone that the deadline is today. I wonder if it's getting a mention on KFAN today or in the local papers? Anyway, good work by the NHL to continue to reject teams moving back to Canada and keep putting them in hockey hotbeds like Houston, Las Vegas, and Kansas City. Really NHL expansion in the USA hasn't work at all, but let's keep trying it. Great idea. Gary Bettman is a genius!

Starting off with a tangent there, so let's get to the NBA. I hate it because I hate Commish Don God Father David Stern for allowing a bunch of rednecks from Oklahoma to steal the Sonics from the good people of Seattle who for some strange reason don't want to pay for a new stadium that was just renovated 12 years ago. Stern is doing NOTHING about it, and in fact, seems more likely to speeding up the project (I'll stop ranting on this since it changes nothing, but if you're from Minnesota, just think of how mad you were when Norm Green stole the Stars from you folks. That's where I'm at with the Sonics). Anyway, despite this, I can't help but follow the NBA again. I know I know I KNOW!!! I posted on here before Christmas how I had stopped following it and didn't miss it. It was true at the time, but I forgot how dead February is for sports. Plus, as the Sports Guy has pointed out, the No Balls Association finally grew a pair with some huge deals the last few months.

The last two- the Dallas deal for Jason Kidd and the Cavs/Bulls/Sonics swapperoo- were really funny to me. I can sum up the Dallas deal in one word: PANIC!!!!! Let's have a little fun with numbers, shall we? Let's compare two point guards, and you tell me who'd you rather have if you're running a basketball team:

Player A 18.59 14.4 5.3 2.4 .483 2.3 30.4 24 $4 mill $8 mill
Player B 16.33 11.1 10.5 4.3 .406 6.8 36.3 34 $20mill $21mill

If you exclude their ages and salaries, it's pretty even right? Player A has a better PER (which means he's more effective in his time on the floor), and scores a little more while shooting a better percentage. Player B gets twice the assists, but also has almost double the turnovers of player A, and is not a good shooter. While I wouldn't fault you for wanting player B, when you factor in the age and salary differences, would you in a million years trade player A straight up for player B? Of course not. Neither did the Dallas Mavericks. Instead they traded Devin Harris, who is player A, two solid players, cap fodder and two 1st round picks to the Nets for Jason Kidd, who's player B, and two throw-in players.

Honest to God, how does this improve the Mavs? They're not only overpaying Kidd in salary but also in players and depth, and Kidd just doesn't make them that much better than Harris did. There's just no way. Not to mention that they had to give up Desagna Diop, who is developing into a solid low-post player and who was the only real defensive presence they had in the paint (last I checked there's a couple two-three good posts in the western conference). Wonderful. You've basically dealt for what Jason Kidd was two or three years ago, but now you're saddled with a player who's declining and makes about $40 MILLION OVER THE NEXT TWO SEASONS!!!! Good luck with that Mark Cuban!

What really makes this funny to me though is WHY Dallas made this deal. Last season, the Mavs finished the regular season with an NBA best 67-15 record- and then lost in the first round to the 8th seeded Golden State Warriors. Granted, the W's were quite possibly the worst possible matchup for Dallas outside of the Spurs or Suns, but this was still the best team in the NBA against a team that just squeaked into the playoffs. It was the first time an 8 had beaten a 1 in a best-of-seven. Clearly, you would think this would be a signal to the Mavs that changes needed to be made, that as good as they were in the regular season, this was not a championship team. Blow it up! Make changes! Try something different! And what did they do last summer? NOTHING! That's right the Mavs looked at their embarrassing first round exit and, like the rest of the No Balls Association, did absolutely nothing.

The result? More of the same. A so-so first half of the season where they were clearly (at least to those outside of Big D) not only not the best team in the Western Conference, they would be fighting just to make the playoffs. Still? Nothing done. Then the Lakers fleeced Memphis for Gasol, forcing the Suns hit the panic button themselves by thinking Shaq was a good idea (3 games with Shaq- 2 losses and an AVERAGE of 107.6 points against in the 3 games. Shaq was supposed to help defensively? Whoopsy poopsy!). So the Mavs, in turn, hit their own PANIC!!!!! button and overpaid for Kidd. I don’t know much, but I do know the Mavs are not winning the NBA title with Jason Kidd. Hell at this point they'll be lucky to make the playoffs as they're currently in 6th place, but only 4.5 games ahead of 9th place Denver (you know what's crazy? We could have a 50 win team miss the playoffs in the West, and yet we'll be lucky to get 5 teams with a winning record in the East. Hey David Stern- good idea to not want to tweak the playoff system. That's working out well. Way better to have three gawd-awful teams make the playoffs and have a 50 team in the West miss out. Really, who wants to see the 16 best teams in the playoffs? It's crazy talk!)

Then there was the Cleveland/Chicago/Seattle "Holy %^&$ We Need to Make A Trade but We Can't Get Anybody Good So Let's Just Swap Our Crappy Players to Make it Look Like We're Trying!" trade (and yes that was the longest name for any trade in history. It is now unofficially official). I love how scribes and media folks out East are trying to make this look like a great trade for Cleveland. Really? Explain that to me. Yes, they got rid of Larry Hughes horrible HORRIBLE contract, but what did you get back? A slightly less horrible HORRIBLE contract in Ben Wallace when you already have Anderson Varajeo doing exactly the same thing for way less money. Great move. You give up Drew Gooden, who was a solid scoring presence, so now you're stuck with player a big white Euro Center who doesn't fit your style of play, or two power forwards who can rebound and play defense but can't score to save their lives. Awesome. Start printing those championship t-shirts!

Of course, they also got Wally World, and you know my thoughts on the most overrated all-star of the past 20 years (you also know that I once compared Adam Morrison to World and concluded that Morrison would be a much better player. We know how that's turned out so far). He was nothing more than a 3rd or 4th option in his prime, and I'm not sure he even does that now. He stills shoots a decent outside shot, but can't defend, rebound, dribble, or pass. Other than that he's pretty good. Well worth the $12 million Cleveland is paying him.

Delonte West? Yawn. Cleveland basically shipped out some role players and got some slightly cheaper slightly more valuable role players in return, and we're supposed to believe this is a championship team? Let me double check this...hang on...just a minute... yup a team with a super duper uber star and a bunch of role players has never won an NBA title. Never. And you know what? As amazing as Lebron is, the Cavs are not going to be the team to break the mold. So this trade was much ado about nothing.

For the Bulls? This just means that at the next Paxson family Christmas dinner Jim (who tried his best to run the Cavs into the ground before Danny Ferry took over) can now sit back at the grownups table, because his brother John is proving just as incompetent at running an NBA team. John did a super swell job of stockpiling assets and putting the pieces together to get a true super start. He had chances at KG, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Allen Iverson, Kobe, Jason Kidd, and Pau Gasol. Who did he end up getting? Drew Gooden and Larry Hughes everybody! Viva la Bulls! Long live Chicago! Forget MJ and Scottie and Phil, the Bulls are back baby!!!!

The Sonics continued to clear cap space and grease the wheels for their move out of town by making the team as cheap and unwatchable as possible. Just what David Stern is looking to promote!

So in summary, I just used 1600 words to say I hate David Stern, but I can't help but follow his league. I'm ornery, sarcastic, and I'm back.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Sick and Tired of being Sick and Tired

I've had the flu for a solid week now, and it's just not good times. I actually got well enough to work Friday and Saturday, and then this thing came back with a vengeance by Saturday night. I'm so hopped on medication I thought I already posted about the Gasol and Shaq trades...until I checked the site and realized I hadn't. Did I dream that?

First off, I know I said a couple of months ago I was done with the NBA and wasn't paying attention. Two things about that: one, I forgot what a bad sports month February is. I mean really, after the Super Bowl, it's like six straight weeks of basketball and hockey (or if you're in the States just basketball) until March Madness starts. There's nothing else to talk about. Since they refuse to give us ESPN or a Fox Sports affiliate (honestly the Canadian standards or something or other says you can't get an American station if there's a Canadian equivalent. Well we don't have an equivalent to either of those channels here: yes, we have three sports networks, but they all show hockey, curling, poker, and talking heads who talk about hockey and the stupid Maple Leafs. God forbid we'd be allowed Fox Sports Seattle or something so I could watch a few college basketball games or another baseball team besides the Blue Jays), it's pretty much impossible to follow college basketball here. I tried looking on on their bubble watch feature, and I have no idea who any of these teams or players are this year. Apparently Memphis is really good and the Dukies are good despite playing a lot of white guys, and Carolina and UCLA are pretty good. Other than that? No idea. Drake or Butler or somebody like that is a "lock" for the postseason, while schools I've actually heard of are not. I give up. My NCAA bracket pool will be picked blindfolded this year, which means I'll probably have as good or better a chance as I've had in years past where I thought I knew what I was doing.

ANYWAY what was I talking about again? Right, the NBA trades. First Mitch Kupchak goes from being one of the worst GM's in the league (he traded Shaq for nothing, then dealt Caron Butler for Kwame Brown- whoopsy poopsy!- and did so little to help Kobe he was publicly demanding a trade) to one of the best with one trade. The Gasol trade was a heist, a grand larceny. They didn't lose any of their TOP 10 PLAYERS in this deal, and they get a low-post scorer who looks perfect for the triangle offense. If Andrew Bynum comes back anywhere close to 100% before the playoffs, this is hands down the team to beat. Unbelievable.

It should also be Exhibit A in why salary caps are just a bad idea. First, there's so few GM's who actually know how to properly use the cap, it puts most teams at a disadvantage even if your GM isn't named Kevin McHale. Second, as this trade shows, it doesn't allow bad teams to get better, it just makes them much worse. Young guys make nothing, star players make a lot, and middle-of-the-pack players are way overpaid. So if you're Memphis and you want to trade Gasol, your best VALUE would be some solid young players. An all-star caliber player like Gasol for a couple of good young players would be equal VALUE-- but with the salary cap, those guys are worth about 10-20% of Gasol, so then you have to throw in the over paid guys like Kwame and the retired Aaron McKie (how'd you like to be Aaron McKie? You're so washed up you're not even in the league, but then the phone rings and it's your agent saying "Um Aaron? The Lakers want to pay you $5 million so they can trade you to the, no they don't expect you to play...yes, it's guaranteed money...yes you'll be able to continue to sit around and do nothing and get paid for it. Is that ok with you?"). It just doesn't allow teams to get full value, or really anything close to it, for good players.

Then there was the Shaq trade. That's the biggest "No F***ing WAY!!!" trade I can remember in any sport in a long, long time. Come to think of it, I can't think of one more shocking or baffling. It scores a perfect 10 on the Ron Burgandy "Brian, That doesn't even make sense" scale. Not only does Shaq seem to be the exact opposite of what Phoenix needs on the court, but there would seem to have been better deals and better value out there for a player as good as Shawn Marion. But what about the money part of it? Not only does The Diesel have $40 million GUARANTEED coming to him in the next few years, but this puts the Suns over the cap, something they've been so unwilling to do that they've been auctioning off draft picks in the last few years, and gave Seattle TWO #1 draft picks just to take Kurt Thomas' contract off their hands- even though Thomas was the only player they had who could defend in the paint. Going well over the salary cap made sense if they were getting Kevin Garnett, but Shaq? He's old, on a steep decline, and he's been hurt for good stretches of the last couple of years.

But you know what? The folks in Phoenix seem really, truly, genuinely excited and optimistic about this trade. Despite what the stats say about this trade, the Suns seem to think the chemistry of it will be the shakeup they need, and that if Shaq can give them good minutes in the post, they're going to be dangerous. I also heard Shaq refer to his going to Phoenix as "The Amare Stoudamire" project. He made a similar statement when he got dealt to Miami that he was going to help Dwayne Wade win a title, and he was true to his word. He said similar things when he got to LA about making the Lakers champs with Kobe. Again, true to his word. As crazy and unrealistic as it seems right now, maybe all Shaq needed was some motivation, a chip on his shoulder (honestly, have you seen one person who likes this trade for Phoenix?), somebody to mentor in Amare, and a change in scenery. Maybe this isn't so crazy. Of course also having the best point guard in the planet in Steve Nash, as well as some cagey vets like Grant Hill and Raja Bell don't hurt either. Maybe this just could work. A Phoenix/LA confernce finals? How fun would that be?

Sunday, February 03, 2008

A Super Super Bowl

Well I thoroughly enjoyed that. I know it was low scoring, but frankly I loved the chess match between the Pats O and Giants D. Eli Manning was outstanding, especially that last drive, but the Giants defensive line was the difference in the game. Three things off the top:
1) I haven't seen much at all made yet of Pats coach Bill Belichek's decision to go for it on 4th & 13 from the Giants 31. That's a 48 yard field goal attempt, and if don't trust you kicker to make a 48 yarder, why is he on your team? 48 yards is not a chip shot, but it's not like it's a 58 yarder either. That should be a makeable kick for any kicker in the NFL. If there's something I'm missing or a rationale that explains this that I can't see, please, enlighten me. The Pats lost by three, and they passed on a potential field goal needing 13 yards for the first down. Absolutely baffling to me.

2) Plaxico Burress should be commended for playing on a bad ankle all season, and giving his all in this game. But he should NOT be commended for his "Guarantee" that the Giants would win. Back when Joe Willie Namath made "THE Guarantee" in Super Bowl III it was a big deal because nobody made comments like that at the time. Namath staked his reputation on that game, and he certainly wouldn't be a hall-of-famer without that monumental upset. But today, guarantees are a joke. Nobody takes them seriously. Plax had nothing at stake if his prediction was wrong. His team was a huge underdog, so if they lost, well hey they were supposed to. A guarantee needs to be backed by something, there needs to be a consequence or payment made if it falls through. If Burress had said he'd donate his game check to charity if they lost, then that's a guarantee. But just saying his team would win? Worthless.

3) It's bad enough when Congress gets involved with steroids in baseball, but now Arlen Specter wants to reopen "SpyGate"? Call my cynical or a bad person, but I could care less if the Patriots cheated this season or against the Rams when they won their first Super Bowl, or anytime before or since. It's like stealing signs in baseball- people get mad when somebody gets caught, but everybody does it. I just don't get riled up about this at all, and really hope it goes away, especially now that New England lost.

Ok, back to the game. Seriously, despite the low scoring battle for the first three quarters, I just loved watching NY's defense giving Tom Brady and the Pats the business. Their strategy was obviously to double Moss and then pressure Brady like crazy. It's not rocket science- I'm pretty sure everybody that's played them since week 1 knew this was the way to slow them down, it's just there's not many teams that can get that kind of pressure with just their front four. Really impressive.

I'm wondering a few things about the Patriots offense too:
1) was Brady's ankle hurting him more than he let on? Because the few times he actually had time to throw deep to Moss (not counting the end of the game), his throws were way off. Maybe he was just rattled a bit because he hadn't faced pressure all season, but it just didn't look right.
2) Where was Ben Watson all night? I'm guessing that after the first quarter siege on Brady the Pats started going max protect by leaving a tight end into block, but wouldn't you still think they'd try to get Watson, who's one of the best pass-catching tight ends in the game, open on shorter routes or hot routes?
3) Why didn't New England run more on their last drive, especially once they got in the red zone and knew they'd have more time? I know they were running more of a hurry-up to try and tire out the Giants defenders, but once they were safely into scoring territory with that much time left, why not run and take some time off?
4) How in the hell did Miami let Wes Welker go for a second round pick? Wow. So shifty and effective over the middle, he was Brady's safety valve all night. One of the guys I was watching the game with who knows football thought that the Giants were giving the Pats Welker all night on the short stuff in order to take away Moss and pressure Brady. So Welker's numbers may have been inflated because that's where the Giants D was funneling BRady to go, but he still made some great catches.

I can't think of much else, other than I need to go watch the Super Bowl ads again. Some really good ones, yet I can't think of many off the top. Anyway, congrats to the Giants who were definitely the best team (if Steve Smith doesn't give that one interception away, the Giants could have been rolling even earlier), and showed it's not about who's playing the best at the beginning or the middle of the season, but who's peaking at the end.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Minnesota Jer Speaks

Editor's Note: I've been asking Jeremy to guest post on here whenever he feels like it. After yet another superstar left Minnesota for pennies on the dollar, only comments from "Minnesota Jer" seemed appropriate. And here they are...

To steal a bit from Dan "The Common Man" Cole... let's play a little bit of "Gone, but not Forgotten."
David Ortiz... gone, but not forgotten.
Randy Moss... gone, but not forgotten.
Glen Mason.... gone... nevermind.
Kevin Garnett... gone, but not forgotten.
Torii Hunter... gone, but not forgotten.
Johan Santana... gone, but not forgotten.

See a trend here?
Look, I'm not going to use this space to talk about the fact that the Twins didn't get as much value for Johan as they could have. I think plenty has been made of that opinion, and frankly, I'm of the opinion that we would have been having that same discussion no matter what deal the Twins had made for Johan. The fact is, in trading a HUGE name, like a Johan Santana, you can almost never get full value in return. In addition to that, it's not even worth talking about now, since we won't know if these guys are going to be worth a dang for 4-5 years, minimum.
What I want to talk about is the emotional part of being a Minnesota sports fan. This is something that I am well-qualified to speak about because, as Jeff will attest to, I am an over-emotional, blindly loyal fan of Minnesota sports, and I don't make any apologies for my emotional, and sometimes irrational, stance on these issues.
So I'll just come right out and say it... it's starting to hurt. It's starting to hurt that we are always the market that is losing the big name guy, and getting 30 no-namers in return. I've said it before, but Kevin Garnett was my favorite athlete of all time, and whoever was second (I couldn't even tell you who) wasn't anywhere close. I think that Kevin Garnett embodies everything that is right, and could be right, about sports. Loyal, hard-working, respectful of the sport, respectful of those who came before him and respectful of the fans. It was ridiculously hard for me to see KG get dealt to Boston. Still, as big of a fan of his that I am, and knowing how he was treated here in Minnesota, I was happy to see him get his shot at a ring.
Am I still a KG fan? Absolutely. But can I call him my favorite player, when he plays for a non-Minnesota team. I know there are a lot of people who will read this who will think that I'm crazy... but I just don't know if I can.
Having said that, just who IS my favorite athlete these days. As I survey the Minnesota sports landscape... there ain't much left. It isn't that there aren't options for good players... but all of the truly great players, who have been battle tested over years, just aren't there. There is definitely potential for guys like Morneau, Maurer, Al Jefferson, Chad Greenway, etc... but the jury is still out on all of these guys because they are young.
In the end, I'm going to have to get used to the fact that I live in fly-over country, a small-mid-market that just can't afford to keep the big names. I'm going to need to learn to latch onto these guys early and hope that they are loyal to Minnesota.
KG was loyal as long as he possibly could be, and nobody can blame him for where he ended up. Heck, who could blame any of them. If the local club isn't going to pay them, somebody else will, right? And in the end, that's the lesson... these games, and yes, they are games... are still all about the almighty dollar.