Monday, July 21, 2008

Monday Madness

LOOKS LIKE my reverse Yankees curse has worked to perfection. Just about a week after writing off their season with extreme prejudice, my boys have turned it around and now sit at their high-water mark: 53-45, 8 games over .500, and just 4.5 games behind the first-place Rays.

Just heard on WFAN that Jorge Posada may be headed back to the disabled list, and his season may be over. This is the main reason I was against signing him to a new contract in the offseason. The guy will be 37 years old next month, so how can it be a surprise when a catcher with that much age on him starts breaking down? Posada has never been a defensively gifted backstop, but the last few years he's become a major defensive liability. This season he's cut down just 3 of 37 runners.

That leaves us with Jose Molina, who is the mirror opposite of Posada: can't hit a lick but is excellent behind the plate. This year I believe he leads all catchers in throwing out base stealers. Now Cashman faces a quandary of either playing Molina every day and suffering his weak bat, or finding another catcher who can hit. And since catchers who can hit are as rare as the duck-billed platypus, good luck with that search, Brian.

Let's face it: the Yankees have not been the same since Homer Bush left town.

And why no Oscar Gamble Day at Yankee Stadium? Give out huge Afro wigs to the first 20,000 fans and let the hilarity ensue.

Funny moment in yesterday's Mets game. Jose Reyes lets an easy grounder go right through his wickets, and Gary Cohen says: "That is so unlike Reyes, but we've seen it about six times this year." Huh?! If it happens that many times, then maybe it's a trend, Gary. I will never understand how everyone seems to think Cohen is some kind of gifted baseball broadcaster. He's more of a homer than even Phil Rizzuto, but nobody calls him on his absurd home run calls in meaningless situations, and lately he's been having a field day with low-class shots at departed Willie Randolph. I can't stand Cohen, and it's more than my anti-Met bias, trust me, because I loved Bob Murphy, and I thought Cohen consistently treated Murphy with something less than the respect he deserved. Best pitched game of the year was Roy Halladay 2-hitting the Yankees last week. Now, the Yankees have not been tearing the cover off the ball for long stretches this year. But Halladay looked like vintage Tom Seaver with an unhittable array of pitches. He pitched another complete game shutout, and if he had to go 18 innings, the Yankees still wouldn't have touched him for more than a couple of week singles.

Texas Rangers CF Josh Hamilton put on a show with his Home Run Derby performance. Even when going for the long ball, his swing was so smooth and unforced that it brought comparisons to guys like Ted Williams and George Brett. His 95 RBI at the break were 22 more than the next runner-up, Justin Morneau, and that kind of disparity at the top of a major statistical category is just not supposed to happen.

I realize we're knee-deep in baseball here, but football training camps are opening all across this great nation of ours. And with the start of football comes the first of many ridiculous columns by Gary Myers, for some reason the lead football writer for the New York Daily News. Considering that the paper still employs Bill Gallo in its sports section, perhaps we shouldn't be surprised that Myers, such an obviously untalented, unoriginal writer, has managed to hang on for as long as he has.

Sunday's column, Rising To The Challenge, about the 10 teams likely to challenge the Giants for the Super Bowl this year -- a premise absurd on its face because never in the history of major sports has such a fluke team managed to win it all -- was full of typical Myers inanities and absurdities. If Myers had even a thimble full of talent, perhaps it wouldn't be so offensive, but he doesn't and so it was.

Myers typically takes cheap shots at all things Dallas Cowboy, because he thinks that plays into how New Yorkers view football. And he's probably right. But to play to the peanut gallery with such relish bespeaks of a lack of character on his part. How else to explain Myers' opening salvo of the 2009 season:
"The 'Boys are loaded with talent, but it would be nice if Tony Romo, the celebrity quarterback, had more on his resume than being Jessica Simpson's boyfriend and inspiring a hilarious tear-filled defense by T.O. of Romo's mediocre playoff performance against the Giants."
First of all, Romo is known as something other than what Myers cited by large portions of the population. A free agent who came from absolutely nowhere to take over one of the marquee positions in all of sports. I will take Romo over the next 5 or 6 seasons, the Giants can have Eli Manning, a first overall pick who struggled for years, dropping his first two playoff games before getting hot in last season's playoffs. We'll see who has more overall success in their careers.

Last season, all Romo did was have one of the best statistical seasons in the history of the NFL. In 2007, Romo was 335 for 520 for 4,211 yards, with 36 TDs against 19 INTs. Manning was 292-529 for 3,336 yards, with 23 TDs versus 20 INTs. Romo's QB rating was 97.1, Manning's 73.9. What would Manning be known for today if he didn't benefit from a great running game and a shut-down defense?

Do I have to go through the postseason career of every quarterback not named Tom Brady or Ben Roethlisberger to find examples similar to Romo? I will, but most casual fans without an agenda will admit that even all-time great QBs like Peyton Manning, Roger Staubach, Dan Fouts, Joe Namath and even Brett Favre have had far more playoff heartache than success, even if they managed to win the ultimate game once or twice. It's the nature of the sport.
Second, football is the ultimate team game, so laying playoff failures at the feet of one player in most cases is not only disingenuous but patently unfair. And that makes Myers an ugly human being in my book, and I'm not even speaking here of the picture that unwisely peers out from his byline, but rather nothing less than an ugliness of the soul that is visible in all of his subpar football columns.

In two seasons, Romo has made two Pro Bowls, has a 19-7 record in 26 regular season starts, and is only 28 years old. I think he's a little closer to the top of his chosen profession than Gary Myers is to the top of his. Just a hunch, but that Pulitzer Committee isn't gonna need Myers' number any time soon. Romo is even a better golfer than Myers is a writer, and more than one talent usually can be found in talented people, I'd be willing to bet Romo is a better writer than is Myers, but that's not saying much.

If it wasn't for Tom Brady's once-in-a-lifetime season last year, Romo might already have one MVP trophy in the case. As it is, he's got to be a leading contender for one this year. But don't expect the cheap shots to cease from the Gary Myers of the world.

Just like Derek Jeter in another sport -- and this is not to compare Romo to Jeter, who might be one of the most clutch postseason performers in baseball history -- people are moved to take unnecessary digs at Romo. The words envious, jealous and bitter come to mind when describing such people going out of their way to degrade the success of another, but don't go far enough in describing this phenomenon. A new phrase -- to be a hater like Baldwin -- may be close to emerging that does more justice to it.

Chris Baldwin, like Myers a completely talent-free hack, writes for something called This preppy-faced nothingman managed to sink sports talk to a new level. Indeed, no one would have ever heard of this golf dweeb, and rightly so, were it not for his highly personal attack of Tony Romo a few weeks ago. The Dallas Morning News picked up on Baldwin's blog, which went beyond the pale even on the scale of invective for which pro sports "journalism" is known. Under the unwieldy and typically juvenile headline

Attention whore Tony Romo falls into a pond at Lake Tahoe Celebrity Classic, how typical of dunce Dallas Cowboys quarterback

Baldwin displaces his all too obvious shortcomings onto the star quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys, in what is sure to be a textbook case of penis envy for our future football Freuds to refer to. For the crime of falling into a pond during a tournament in which Romo finished 3rd in a crowded field of former football players and current golf pros, he was subjected to barbs of the following sort:
"The guy just can’t help himself. He’s going to find a way to make himself the center of attention while showing the lack of smarts that stops him from ever winning a single playoff game" and "Being stuck with his guy couldn’t have happened to a better set of bandwagon fans. And it must be nice for Jessica Simpson to feel like she’s the smart one in a relationship. No wonder why she doesn’t want to give Romo up."
I mean, even in the depths of the leaguewide Eli-bashing last season, did Cowboys fans call up WFAN and ever get this low? I hope not. But was Baldwin finished with his abuse of Romo? Of course not. Correctly sensing that this was his last/only chance to seize the limelight -- an opportunity that simply was never gonna happen due to an accomplishment of his own -- followed up the original Romo article with a post about the reaction he got from Cowboys fans. In another wordy post title that shows his awful Website exists without the assistance of either proofreaders or copy editors --

Dallas Morning News writes about Tony Romo blog, but homers forget to mention that Romo choked in yet another sport --

Baldwin takes pride in being a wise-ass, the first refuge of the spoiled brat so prevalent in our MTV-molded culture:
"Interesting how the Dallas Morning News failed to note how Romo choked in another sport this weekend though. That’s right, it turns out that Jessica Simpson’s dimmer half doesn’t just freeze up in football when something’s big on the line. He gags in golf too."
"This guy couldn’t win a Scrabble tournament against a 3-year-old if he was given a 500-point lead. Heck, Romo couldn’t beat a blind man in tag. (Though that blind man could probably intercept one or two of his playoff passes). There’s a reason Tony Romo has lost every playoff game he’s ever played, including this last year when everyone knew he had the best team in the NFC.) It’s 0 for 2 and counting for Tony Romo in playoff football, set to be 0 for 3 this winter with PacMan "it’s not Adam, it’s Adam” Jones screaming at him. And it’s 0 for and counting for Romo in big celebrity golf tournaments too. You know when he’s not just playing against Matt Lauer and true class act Justin Timberlake."
My first guess, like yours, is that somehow Romo snubbed this nobody when he asked for an autograph or insulted him in some other way. But his venom runs a bit deeper than that. That's for the mental health professionals to worry about, not me, and for that I am thankful.

It's almost embarrassing to have to wade through Baldwin's column again. But his editorial superiors should be the embarrassed ones for first employing and then retaining him. The only thing worse than Baldwin the person is Baldwin the writer, although I admit it's a tossup as to which is more noxious.

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