Friday, November 13, 2009

Sheer Randomness

With Mike on a short hiatus this week and no NFL picks article, I thought I'd take a few minutes to chime in on a few of the things going on in the world of sports in a new feature I like to call "Sheer Randomness".

Cutler Can't Cut It

Watching Jay Cutler hand the game to the 49ers Thusday night was brutal. I agree that at least two of those five interceptions were not his fault and that passing for 300 yards in an NFL game is nothing to sneeze at, but surely 2006 draft-mates Matt Leinart and Vince Young couldn't be any worse than Cutler has been this season.

Already one interception away from a career-high, Cutler is perilously close to going from strong-armed future star to overrated bone-head. I used to think Cutler had what it took to be the man, even with a sub-par supporting cast like he has in Chicago. But his petulant child act is starting to wear even thinner than his penchant for red zone turnovers, neither of which can be all that endearing to his new teammates.

It's true that quarterbacks get equal parts too much credit and too much blame for the successes and failures of their team, but the best quarterbacks learn to eliminate their mistakes and point the finger at themselves when they make them. Two things Cutler has yet to figure out.

LeBron Minus-17

So LeBron James is switching from his #23 to #6 after this season as a nod to the great Michael Jordan. A nice gesture to be sure, but James isn't stopping there. Not only is he going to give up the famous digits, he wants everyone else in the league to do the same.

"He can't get the logo [Hall of Famer Jerry West's silhouette adorns the NBA's logo], and if he can't, something has to be done," James told reporters. "I feel like no NBA player should wear 23. I'm starting a petition, and I've got to get everyone in the NBA to sign it. Now, if I'm not going to wear No. 23, then nobody else should be able to wear it."

As nice as it is of James to honor his hoops hero, it's flat ridiculous to think of putting MJ in the same category with the only other player in professional sports whose number is retired league-wide, Jackie Robinson. Robinson's impact, not only on the sport he played but on American society in general, is actually worthy of that kind of honor.

In fact if James was actually thinking, he could have called for the NBA to retire the numbers of the ten players who in 1942 became the first black players in the National Basketball League, which eventually became the NBA.

Jordan without question has had an enormous impact on the way the game is played, watched and marketed around the world. But his accomplishments on the court pale in comparison to those of true pioneers like Robinson and the men who broke the color barrier in the NBL.

No Love For Panda

What's a Panda gotta do to get some respect around here?

Already snubbed for the NL All-Star team in July, the Giants' Pablo Sandoval was passed over for the Silver Slugger Award on Thursday, losing out to Washington Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman. Sandoval lost the award despite a slugging percentage that was 30 points higher and an OPS that was 55 points higher than Zimmerman's.

Sandoval had a higher on-base percentage, more extra base hits, fewer strikeouts, a better strikeout-to-walk ratio and grounded into fewer double plays than Zimmerman. Not to mention the fact that unlike Zimmerman, Sandoval didn't have the fearsome Adam Dunn for protection and he still managed to power the Giants into meaningful September baseball while the Nats were out of the running in May.

Sure Zimmerman hit 8 more homeruns and drove in 16 more runs than Sandoval, but if we're going by those numbers, shouldn't Mark Reynolds have won the award? Here's hoping the voters don't hold Tim Lincecum's win total against him in the Cy Young voting.

Bravo Madieu

EBH contributor Allen Wardell sent me this story about Minnesota Vikings safety Madieu Williams and his more than generous gift to his alma mater, the University of Maryland, as well as his other efforts to make a difference away from the football field.

For me, Williams' story is a shining example of what a large portion of people, sports fans or not, don't get to see or hear about professional athletes. For the most part the only time an athlete makes news off the field is because they broke the law in some shape or form, or did something to completely embarrass themselves.

What you learn once you've been around professional athletes for any length of time however, is that generally speaking they're just normal, everyday people who happen to be athletic enough to play a sport for a living. It's refreshing to hear about a young man who isn't into charity for charity's sake, but instead feels compelled to do the right thing because it's the right thing to do.

Sure there are plenty of idiots running around the various professional leagues, but those idiots exist in all walks of life, not just in sports. So before you write off all professional athletes as spoiled, self-centered ass-holes, think about what it is you really know about them and not just what you see on Sportscenter.

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