Sunday, December 16, 2007

What's Going On...

So much has happened this week in the wild world of sports, I figured it best to fire off some Quick Hits on all that has gone down.

The Mitchell Report:

After spending the last few days pouring over the more than 400-page report composed by former Sen. George Mitchell on the steroid era in baseball and listening to all the rhetoric spewed by Bud Selig and Donald Fehr, I've come to the conclusion that baseball is no closer to solving the steroid problem than they were last week, last month or last year.

The Mitchell Report took the aggressive step of naming names, including stars like Roger Clemens and Miguel Tejada, and at first blush that seemed to send a major shock wave through the baseball world.

But when you examine the report a bit closer you find that nearly all of the "evidence" against the players in question is little more than hearsay or the words of already outed steroid users and providers.

That is not to say that the players named in the report are innocent, but the lack of solid evidence against most of them does little to shed any extra light on the larger issue. And to be fair, the lack of subpoena power for Mitchell and his committee greatly hindered their ability to obtain more compelling information.

We all knew that steroid use has been widespread in baseball over the last 15-plus years and including the names of several dozen players in a report on the problem is nothing more than an affirmation of that previously held knowledge.

Moreover the response from Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig was neither ground breaking nor impressive, with the biggest news being that he intended to punish those named in the report after further exploration on a case-by-case basis.

Well great, that should only take another few years to iron out, good on ya Bud. I have to say it amazes me how little of the blame Selig seems willing to take, especially with the report placing much of the blame on the shoulders of the league itself.

Predictably the stance taken by the head of the Players Association, Donald Fehr, was predominately defensive and filled with lawyer-speak. Although I can hardly blame Fehr for going that route given Major League Baseball's practice of witch hunting in an attempt to shine a more positive light on themselves.

In the end the Mitchell Report did manage to crack the door open a bit more on the steroid-era and all that it encompassed, and that is a good thing. But until a lot more solid evidence is brought to the forefront and a reliable test for human growth hormone is developed there will always be uncertainty, and that is a bad thing.

Rodriguez to Michigan:

Last week's defection of Bobby Petrino from the Atlanta Falcons to the University of Arkansas was gutless as I pointed out in a previous piece.

The move from West Virginia's Rich Rodriguez to the University of Michigan is a bit more understandable, but still a bit heartless and fairly risky if you ask me.

To his credit Rodriguez did not completely rule out the possibility of switching jobs and in doing so took himself out of Saban-territory in terms of his overall integrity and character. However after signing a deal through the 2013 season to remain at West Virginia, a move that ultimately helped land uber-recruit Noel Devine, Rodriguez has done those kids a major disservice.

What I really don't understand about this move is what makes Michigan at this point so much more attractive to a guy like Rodriguez. Sure it's Michigan, the Big House, the maize and blue and all that, but from a strictly football standpoint it doesn't make a lot of sense, especially in the short term.

As it stands today, West Virginia is a better football team than Michigan. They have the talent to beat the Wolverines and their ascension into the ranks of the elite had them poised to play in the National Championship game before a stunning loss to rival Pittsburgh in the season finale.

On top of that is the 180-degree shift in offensive philosophy that Rodriguez will be taking to Michigan. At West Virginia Rodriguez was known for his use of the spread option that requires an athletic, running quarterback.

Michigan's top recruit from 2007 was the 6-foot-6, 235-pound Ryan Mallett who will not in any way remind people of Rodriguez's former prodigy, Pat White. In fact I'd be shocked if Mallett isn't already considering his options in terms of a transfer.

In addition the tradition of Michigan being a top school for wide receivers will no doubt take a major hit. In 2007 West Virginia's top receiver, Darius Reynaud, only had 691 yards receiving and 11 of the teams 13 total receiving touchdowns.

By comparison Michigan had two receivers, Adrian Arrington and Mario Manningham, who eclipsed the yardage total of Reynaud.

On the positive side the move by Rodriguez to Michigan does put Terrelle Pryor, the nation's top dual-threat quarterback, on the Wolverine's recruiting radar and given Rodriguez's prowess as a recruiter they should be considered a favorite to land him.

As always I feel sorry for the kids left behind by Rodriguez and for West Virginia as a program who now has to struggle to fill that spot and maintain the positive momentum created by Rodriguez over the past several years.

It should be interesting to see how the whole thing plays out for both schools and I would warn fans of the Wolverines and Mountaineers to have patience through the changes that are on the way.

Winless No More:

Take that Jim Rome, the Miami Dolphins staved off history with their win over the Baltimore Ravens, avoiding the first 0-16 season in NFL history.

I have to admit for a while I really wanted to see a team go undefeated (Patriots) and another go winless, but after seeing the reaction from the Dolphins players, coaches and fans I have to say I am really happy for them that they were able to get the monkey off their back.

A team that lost six games by three points or less, the Dolphins and their first-year head coach Cam Cameron never gave up and more importantly never gave up on each other as easy as that would have been.

Congrats to the Dolphins and their fans, you deserve it.

Rowand to the Giants:

Truly I did not see this one coming. I was hoping for Torii Hunter and would have settled for Andruw Jones, but as a Giants fan I am very pleased to now have Aaron Rowand patrolling center field for the San Fancisco Giants.

Coming off the best season on his career, the 30-year-old Rowand is a perfect fit for a Giants team looking to rebuild an offense after the departure of Barry Bonds. He's not exactly a thumper, but he does have good power and AT&T Park is much friendlier to right-handed hitters.

His defensive prowess goes without saying and more than anything he brings a toughness and all-out hustle that Giants fans will no doubt love to see.

The biggest win for the Giants in this one is that they made it without having to give up top starting pitchers Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain. For weeks Giants fans were sweating as a deal for Toronto's Alex Rios seemed to be creeping closer to completion and had that happened it would have no doubt included either Lincecum or Cain.

I know as well as any other honest Giants fan that there is still a long way to go personnel-wise before they can be competitive in the NL West, but signing a talented player like Rowand is a big-time step in the right direction.

Tiger Woods is Still Good and Rory Sabbatini is Still a Jackass:

OK, so there was little doubt that the best golfer in the world would be just fine after the longest self-imposed layoff of his career, but the manner in which he made sure all doubts were put to rest was vintage Tiger as he strolled to a seven shot win at the Target World Challenge.

The win was highlighted by a second-round 62 which set the course record and came after a first round that was derailed by a double bogey on the 18th hole.

He followed that performance up with a 67 in round three which gave him a six shot lead. Of course it wasn't all good for Woods who struggled early in the final round, bogeying two of the first nine holes and allowing playing partner Jim Furyk to close within two shots of the lead.

In typical Tiger fashion of course he birdied the 10th while Furyk bogeyed and the rout was back on. The win was Woods' eighth overall in 2007 and was sealed by a kiss from his adorable baby girl Sam who was waiting for her daddy at the 18th green dressed in the customary lucky color red.

Meanwhile one of golf's more loathsome characters, Rory Sabbatini, withdrew from the tournament which is hosted by Woods, citing at first "personal reasons" and later shin splints.

Of course Sabbatini's second round 81, followed by a third round 76, may have had something to do with his wanting to high-tail it out of town. See, Sabbatini is spending the holidays in Maui and apparently felt it was in his best interests to get there sooner rather than later.

It will be interesting to see if Sabbatini, who earlier in the year prodded Woods with a few backhanded criticisms, will cash the $170,000 check he still earned just by showing up to Tiger's tournament.

Woods, as has become his custom, will donate his entire winners share ($1.35 million) to his Tiger Woods Foundation and I think if Rory has any decency at all will do the same.

No comments:

Post a Comment