Thursday, August 25, 2005

Harris drops weight

Some might call it dead weight - I leave that in the hands of the observer. Here is the AJC article from Tony Barnhart, which you can read for free courtesy of somebody who can make decisions for the AJC actually having a clue (someone give that guy a raise too, we can't afford to lose him).

Already we have some problems with some the voters. Like Brenston Buckner, who is playing on Sunday's and I highly doubt will be able to watch enough football to make an informed decision for every team from every region (more on that in a moment).

Any voter with an ESPN affiliation had to pull out because of their contracts. Understandable.

Or talk show radio host Kenny Roda, who has links to naked chicks on his website.

Good grief. Links to naked women and gambling sites aren't what we need to worry about here. What we need to worry about is if each of these people will be able to watch a decent amount of football and try to take in games from all over the country (special thanks to TBS and their nighttime weekly Pac-10 game; that was loads of fun last year and I look forward to caching it again this year). I think many of the pollsters are going to run into the same problems the coaches had (there are only 24 hours in a day). And some will run into the same problems that all humans have (inability to work beyond bias).

Of course, some will get the boot because they don't meet any of the basic criteria ( former college player, coach or administrator, or a member of the media according to the AJC), like Jason Rush. I'm glad his father in law, Troy's head coach, decided to ignore the nomination criteria. If we're lucky dad votes in the coaches poll too.

The Harris voters may or may not prove competent as a whole. They may or may not be able to shrug off the problems inherent in polls. But it doesn't matter anyway - it's still people deciding the outcome of seasons, where we should be doing that on the field.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Heatley Traded

Reads the somewhat shocking AJC headline this morning. It didn't take much to think about why - and everything I've read since confirms it. Scott Burnside has a pretty good article up on ESPN.com about it.

His article touches on some of the more unpleasant aspects of the trade - Heatley's sliding play over the past few international competitions for example.

I wish Danny the best. I thought he'd be a Thrasher for a long time.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Harris Poll Votes Announced

Article on sportsline.

Amongs the voters are former atheletes (Steve Largent, Raghib Ismail), CFB Luminaries (Roy Kramer, who promises not to piss off EDSBS this time), and coaches (Garry DiNardo, Lee Corso. Just kidding on that last one). It's too early to say, but I'm guessing they'll be roughly as qualified to do this as the coaches and media. Take that for what it is worth.

The Harris Poll results will debut September 25th, which I think is still too early in the season - too much pre-season bias still in the poles at that point. It's better than before the season, true, but still not ideal.

Now, when there are 4 legit 10-1 teams vying for the right to play USC in the BCS Title game, perhaps we can get another schism in the offseason and next year go into the year with 3 potential champions (BCS, the AP, and pick your favorite remaining faction from amongst the Harris and Coaches). It would be fitting, in any case.

Friday, August 19, 2005

The Witch is Dead

A Report has appeared claiming that the Atlanta Spirit will buyout Steve Belkin's contract. It's great news for the 37 remaining Hawks fans in the state, and probably decent news for the several thousand Thrashers fans as well. Belkin apparently was into owning a team but not on spending money on that team. Good riddance I say.

Of course, he may well be right about the Joe Johnson deal. The Hawks might be overdoing it for a player they could (over)sign as a free agent anyway (I'm with Braves & Birds - despite posturing I think Phoenix matches the offer, but who knows). The thing is - the actual basketball guy wants to do the deal. And I think it's safe to say he knows a lot more about this than Belkin does. It's true he tried to overpay for mediocre players last year, but he's also responsible for the Hawks drafts of late, and he did do a decent job of gutting the woefully overrated and overpriced Hawks roster that existed when he arrived.

If your going to trust Billy Knight, you have to trust him. If he screws up, then kick him to the curb. Until then, I think he deserves a chance to turn the Hawks around.

Cott on Andruw Jones

Kevin Cott - aka“The Intern” of Sports Guy Fame - has a nice piece up on Andruw Jones on Page2. It's a pretty good read, nothing earth shattering to be sure; I think it nicely conveys what a lot of people have probably felt towards Andruw over the past decade.

People always want to compare other outfielders to him. Cott aptly notes that the Andruw of today is not the Andruw of a few years ago. Jones is still fantastic in the field, still gets great jumps, and still glides effortlessly. But he's not quite the defensive force he used to be. In his absolute prime, I can't imagine anybody of recent memory being close. He was standing under balls other guys made incredible running or diving catches on. He brought a routine, even strange, beauty to center field. You watched him on his own, and you might have been impressed with his fluidity and grace (you also might also have been somewhat unimpressed, assuming he's too nonchalant). You turned on Sports Center, and suddenly a larger context put his performances into a better perspective. He was standing under balls other guys never got too.

Of course, people always always wanted to compare him to other outfielders. His career didn't get off to the same start as Doc Gooden's, but it's pretty damn hard to top 2 homers in game 1 of the World Series at age 18.

I think Andruw in his prime was head and shoulders above Griffey defensively, though I mostly just saw highlight film of the latter and that always makes it hard to tell. I really think most people will never adequately appreciate Andruw's defensive ability, because you came to appreciate it over time, not with one play or a handful of plays.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Implications of the Boise State vs UGA Game

If you are an avid reader of all things college football, particularly on the Internet, then you've probably heard tell that the Boise State v UGA match-up could reshape the college football landscape.

Well, it does have a couple of things going for it. Boise State is probably playing in the premiere game of the program's history. It's on the road in a fairly environs, on national TV, and coming on the heels of Utah's appearance in a BCS title game. Up until this point, no so called “mid major” had ever played in a BCS game.

I'm thinking, though, that this whole “change college football forever” thing already happened last year. Boise could run the table or go 10-1 – assume that the loss isn't to UGA. Is it a lock for the BCS either way? No – that will depend in part on how other teams are doing. A bunch of one-loss conference runners-up could muddy the picture. However, any claim to a BCS berth will be aided thanks to Utah's performance last year.

Utah making a BCS bowl (against as big of a sacrificial lamb as we've seen in a long time, to be sure) was a bigger deal than a Boise State victory in Athens would be. Not that such an upset wouldn't be a big deal – and to the Boise State fans it would be everything. But I think the landscape already got changed last year. Utah's making and winning a BCS game could help future mid-majors who claim a spot in one of College Football's “big four”. As sensational as an upset in Athens would be, it would not the long term impact that Utah making the Fiesta will.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Belkin doesn't like Johnson

So Michael sayeth. I don't get those sports talk stations well down here in Macon, so I don't get this kind of juiciness on the way to work.

The gist is that the trade is being held up because one member of the Atlanta Spirit ownership group doesn't think Joe Johnson is worth it. Well, you're an idiot Steve Belkin.

Hey, Johnson may not be worth it. He may only be partly worth it. It's not outside of the realm of possibility he's a flop. But I know this: he can shoot, he can defend a number of positions, he handled the ball some - spelling Nash, he's athletic. If the Hawks don't sign him, it's going to be a problem for the team. We'll get thirty columns nationwide about how nobody wants to play in Atlanta (again. . .), and how Billy Knight is a bad GM (he isn't). Belkin, how do you think the team is going to do then?

You don't want to sign someone for the sake of signing them. But the Hawks need serious help. And Johnson wasn't really fourth fiddle in Phoenix - they collapsed without him against San Antonio (his missing games was a bigger factor against San Antonio that Sean Marion's relatively poor play). I'm not convinced he can play point full time - I hope other deals will be in the works. If Belkin wants to contest this deal on that, I understand it.

But - you hired a guy to take care of all of this. He knows more about basketball than you do (so does the coach). Let them do their job.

And do us all a favor - sell the Atlanta Spirit to Arthur Blank.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Help on the way

So, the Braves did make a deal for a reliever – Kyle Farnsworth.

This deal is interesting for a number of reasons. Firstly, I think it's a great move. Farnsworth is having an excellent year. He's been inconsistent in the past, and temperamental. He's been accused of too often just trying to throw the ball by people and not pitch to them. He throws very fast but doesn't get much movement – doubtless one reason he's allowed homeruns at unacceptable rates at times.

Is there a better place for a talented pitcher who hasn't put it all together than Atlanta? Methinks this could be the start of a beautiful relationship. I like Ramon Colon, but I think it's a price worth paying. Zach Minor was a middling prospect at best. So I think the Braves got a good deal here.

Apparently, this thing had been in the works for days as the Braves and Tigers haggled over the exact terms. Amazingly, but not particularly surprisingly, we never heard a peep about it. Schuerholtz often manages to operate under the radar. I don't know if keeping this quiet helped keep the deal reasonable for the Braves. Can Farnsworth close? I'm not sure we need him too (though we must be mindful of Reitsma's arm). I don't know if he has the makeup to do the 9tn inning thing. Which is interesting, because the setup guy may well face more tough spots than the closer in a given season. It's becoming trendy to bring your closer in before the ninth when the game calls for it. If you're facing the heart of the order and up a run, you don't seal the deal in the ninth, you seal it there. I'm happy pitching him as a setup guy for now.

The trade wound up the yummy (chocolate) icing on the Sunday victory cake. Farnsworth is a needed addition to the bullpen, particularly with Powel's nasty and unfortunate injury.