Posts By Weston Bruner

Is one great game against the Lions enough to hand the keys to an offense over to Matt Flynn?

The Peyton Manning sweepstakes is on, with the latest report putting the former Colts legend on a flight to Denver to talk with the currently Tim Tebow-led Broncos.  I imagine when John Elway said that the Broncos would look to add a few quarterbacks Tebow wasn’t thinking about Peyton Manning walking into the locker room.  But this won’t be the last visit Manning makes, nor the last visit that Matt Flynn makes as he takes his sterling record as a starter to franchises across the NFL looking for a savior.  But of course that record is shining because it comes in just 132 career passing attempts and sporting 9 touchdowns to 5 interceptions.  Already it is being debated which teams will snatch up Flynn after Manning signs.  One thing is for certain- whichever team signs Flynn will be getting far from a sure thing.

The expanded playoffs may make baseball more dramatic, but baseball wasn't designed for one-game series.

I have to be honest; I am lukewarm on the addition of two new playoff spots for major league baseball.  It feels like terribly manufactured drama to me, where we are content with days off between games in the playoffs yet this sudden death game is crammed right after the regular season, one contest which is completely anathema to the spirit of a 162-game season.  The playoffs already have systems that work against the best teams making the World Series, and while this system solves some of those issues it doesn’t solve them all.

For instance, I love that the sudden death game occurs right after the regular season.  Too often you have teams that are able to go through the playoffs with just 3 starters due to the excessive days off, failing to play 40% of their starting rotation.  Would we shorten football games because one team tends to tire more easily than another?  Then why would we allow some teams to possibly omit a serious weak point in their team (a poor back-end of the rotation) due to conditions that are completely different than the regular season?  Just look at last year’s playoffs.

Ryan Braun remains in the crosshairs of public opinion despite the successful appeal of his 50-game suspension.

Ryan Braun has been exoneratedWell, not exactly.  It’s like a suspected criminal getting a not guilty verdict but losing the civil trial, that sort of uncomfortable moment where you aren’t sure if you should be cheering or cursing Bud Selig yet again (one of these days it’ll stick).  Ryan Braun, circa 2011 season, was by all appearances a stand-up guy, a team player who was a role model for kids everywhere and a statistical leader well deserving of the MVP award.  He may still be a stand-up guy even if he turns out to have used performance enhancing drugs.  We don’t know if he did, though.  Even after his appeal, we don’t know.  That might be the hardest part.

Every season of Law & Order seemed to have an episode like this- the investigation winds up leading to a murder from 20 years ago but- oh no!- the critical piece of evidence is gone from the locker room.  Or the medical examiner isn’t quite sure if it’s the same finger print after she pledged it was the same on the stand.  Or Lenny “sees” the murder weapon on a casual tour of the apartment even though it’s way up in the suspect’s closet out of view.  The case doesn’t become about whether the defendant is guilty but whether the evidence has the proper chain of command, was interpreted correctly, or was obtained fairly.  The advantage of Law & Order is when the evidence is obtained we see it happen and we usually know that the suspect is guilty by the time Jack McCoy is furrowing his brow and shaking his head back and forth at the outrageous decision of the judge.

At the end of the day Stoudemire and Coach D'Antoni will be far bigger factors in his success than his race or religion.

The Jeremy Lin craze has made Knicks games must-see for all but the most disinterested sports fans, drawing into the convenient trap of Tim Tebow comparisons with his sudden success and commitment to his faith.  Heck, even the New York Times has gotten into the act with a new David Brooks column attempting to frame the humility associated with Christian devotion as incompatible with the ambition and drive to win that comes with modern sports.  While I am not much of a believer myself, I always assumed that the Christian faith encouraged people to work as teammates (the ultimate facilitator is the point guard) and work to be the best they could be at their given craft.  Certainly Mr. Brooks wouldn’t argue that a Christian businessman should feel guilty if he beats out a competitor for an account or that any of us shouldn’t work as hard as we can in our lives to be the best we can at our craft.

But like the Tebow comparisons, the very existence of “Linsanity” or any phenomenon that takes sports past the sports pages, people are making up facetious connections when they should simply be enjoying the ride.  It’s the “second wave” of reporting that comes after a story has gotten too big for the confines of sports media and people try to get another spin on an on-the-court story.

Pujols and Fielder didn't just get paid, they stuck with teams who may easily play in October.

I don’t like watching Sportscenter (I have been sober from Sportscenter, PTI, Around the Horn, and ESPN News for over a year now) so I peeked over to and Yahoo! Sports to get a feel for what the top stories are this week on the national stage.  Yahoo! had a story on Bobby Valentine and the Red Sox while SI was going with the indomitable Tim Verducci’s Three Strikes on their front page.  With the Super Bowl behind us, I realized that baseball is officially back in the sports consciousness until October.  Now, for us Orioles fans (even if you hate the Orioles it only means you still care) this is not a happy time of year.  The optimism of last year (and the year before) is not around in 2012, and for good reason.  After a decade and a half of convincing ourselves that “this year is different” we know that this year won’t be.  Football may be king, but baseball is America’s pastime for a reason (that’s another, far more sentimental column).  This season there are plenty of storylines as we approach Spring Training that have nothing to do with the Orioles but will make this season one of the more interesting in recent memory.

The Colts say Manning is welcome back, but aren't acting like it.

Look, I am not a sentimental sports fan.  At least not very sentimental.  I won’t expect my team to pay a player based on what he has done for the team since the last contract I made already paid him for what he was going to do.  In Peyton Manning’s case, he has been paid handsomely for that work.  I am also not all that sentimental towards a player entering the twilight years of his playing career, keeping him on the team just because the fans like seeing him drag himself out there “one more time.”  If the player’s value goes beyond the playing field to the locker room and makes his teammates better that can make up for diminishing play, but only to a point.

But in Manning’s case, it isn’t so much that he is being shown the door in Indianapolis, but he is instead like the houseguest who has worn out his welcome without knowing it.  His host will ask small questions like whether he misses his brother out east and whether he has considered another line of work while Manning thought he lived there all along.  Peyton has allegedly gotten approval from two doctors, including the surgeon who operated on his neck, to resume playing and is on the path back to the football field.  Meanwhile the Colts’ only reply was that he hasn’t passed any physical and has not been cleared by them to play for the Indianapolis Colts. 

The players deserve the pageantry, because the schools take control as soon as its over.

Saturday morning- growing up that meant superhero cartoons with my siblings and staying in my pajamas as long as possible.  Years later it meant something was horribly wrong, since I was never awake by noon on Saturday.  Now it appears it means a new timeslot for this column, joining Lindsey for your weekend BSR content.  So grab a bowl of cereal, try to ignore how much less appealing Batman, and X-Men cartoons are now than they were 20 years ago and enjoy Broken Bat’s move to Saturday!

By this time next week we will have hit college football’s signing day, the most overhyped ESPN-manufactured event since, well, every NFL Draft and “The Decision.”  Thousands of college kids will announce and sign their letters of intent, and committing themselves in writing to attend that particular university. 

Well it looks like I am delayed today, which means that at least there will be some fresh sports content between Friday at

Fielder isn't the only one swinging for the fences and hoping not to strike out.

noon and Monday morning.  However, I am not the only one procrastinating- Prince Fielder is still on the market and while the Orioles are most certainly not in the running for his services (even Washington is more competitive and there is no doubt they would back up the Brinks truck for him) he will have a significant role in some team’s long-term future.  Personally I am rooting for him to join the Rangers, a team that would seemingly be strung as far as they can go after their Yu Darvish signing, but Tom Verducci has a very compelling idea of how they could go after him by offering him an opt-out after three years.  Regardless, this is another example of Scott Boras taking a big risk and hoping it pays off.

I am curious: what exactly does it take for a commissioner not to be considered a hero by his owners?  In recent years,

How exactly is this the best MLB could do?

despite all of the upheaval and utterly moronic moves by culturally and psychologically cloistered commissioners, they seem to live on in their positions, promoted not only to incompetency but far beyond it.  When Bud Selig announced that he was coming back through 2014 for another round overseeing the demise of America’s pastime, I found myself wondering whether being a commissioner might be the easiest job to retain in the country.  As long as the commish is content to be a puppet of the owners behind the scenes and a Generalissimo in front of the cameras, he can do whatever he wants as Americans continue to eat up all the sports content they can get, though their tastes waver between the sports.

You would think that perhaps if franchises are losing money or the sport is losing market share to the other major sports that that could be a reason to get rid of a commissioner.  It would make sense after all- if the commissioner’s job is to oversee the league and the league starts to struggle, then like any CEO he is out.  But that may be the best part about the modern-day commissioner. 

Bill O'Brien's job will be much easier if his administration is able to reform its practices and prevent another Sandusky.

Well, it looks like Penn State finally has their man.  Of course, by “their man” I mean “someone who was willing to take the position.”  Bill O’Brien won’t inspire wonder in the hearts of Penn State fans or recruits though his resume is certainly one to respect as a head coaching candidate.

He has served in a host of assistant roles in college at programs like Georgia Tech, Maryland and Duke, which will be helpful if he hopes to reach outside of Pennsylvania to recruit the fertile southeast.  Despite the history of Belichick assistants flaming out as head coaches (see Charlie Weis, Romeo Crennel, Josh McDaniels, Eric Mangini, etc.) it is certainly not a poor background to have.  If nothing else, the heavy-handed dictatorial approach that Belichick assistants tend to have would serve him well in a place that needs a head coach with firm control over every aspect of the program after decades of moral decay and stagnation.  At the end of the day however, we have no idea what kind of a head coach Bill O’Brien will be, and to me that will be far less important than what kind of university Penn State decides to be.