The O’s will travel to Lakeland, FL today to take on the Tigers in a possible postseason preview- just kidding, I am not that into Spring Training… or that optimistic.  But while Brian Matusz’s wart isn’t a concern, Koji Uehara’s injury bug has reared it’s ugly head, Justin Duchscherer’s hip is still bothering him, and Derrek Lee is still recovering from offseason surgery on his thumb.  In fact, the healthiest guy out there so far appears to be Nolan Reimold, who is making the most out of his opportunities so far this spring.  While I know the fan base is divided on Reimold between him being an overrated hack and a future starter, I would split the difference.  He has the potential when healthy to be a good-not-great starting left fielder who can have major league career on a number of average teams.  That should be good enough to avoid the ire of Orioles fans, but apparently people are expecting Carl Crawford or bust.  Anyways, let’s line up for the kick…

Jones Catches Flack for Buck Comments

The hot topic for the Orioles offseason has been Buck Showalter.  What effect is he having on the team?  Will their strong play carry on in 2011?  What is different about this spring training under Buck?  What is the new attitude and culture Buck is bringing to the team?  Almost every question centers around the new manager, and if I was a player it would get kind of annoying to be asked about the manager over and over again.  This should make it no surprise that outspoken center fielder Adam Jones decided to express his annoyance with such questions, telling reporters “I don’t want to answer any more questions about Buck… Too much about Buck, honestly. I answered like a hundred questions about him yesterday.” 

And why exactly should that bother us?  If you were asked about your boss over and over by your family and friends wouldn’t there come a time when you’d say “Can we talk about something else?”  Adam Jones was not knocking the manager who he has supported since Day 1, he was only being human.  Before shortsighted fans who want an excuse to rabble-rouse about Jones and rip him for saying anything negative, try putting yourself in his shoes.  Every day you get pestered with variations on the same question about the same person over and over again.  Eventually you would say the same thing.  The fact that this statement has even become an issue is beyond ridiculous.  If you have a problem with what Jones said, then I would like to ask you a few questions…

NFL Extends Negotiation Deadline After Losing Sweetheart Deal

The NFL didn’t just decide to extend the deadline for talks out of the goodness of their hearts.  After Minnesota Judge David Doty ruled that the NFL owners had not acted in accordance with their best business interests when in 2009 they decided to re-negotiate their media deals with ESPN, Fox, CBS, and others to reduce the overall payout but include $4 billion in guaranteed money in the case of a lockout.  Doty ruled that by not maximizing revenue the NFL indicated that it was planning for a lockout and not making a good faith effort to even attempt to negotiate with the players before a lockout occurred.  On one hand the NFL has responded with a legalese version of “well we didn’t need that $4 billion anyway” but promptly did an about-face to extend the deadline for negotiating with players.

The owners have always banked on being able to collect their checks while the players couldn’t make ends meet, forcing them to cave in.  I agree with Zach when he writes that he is hoping for a lockout, but I am hoping for one for different reasons.  NFL owners are guaranteed a profit every year, and now they want even more money.  And not just a little, a lot more.  A lockout without their $4 billion in guaranteed money could prove costly, and might expose them to the losses that come when, you know, you don’t actually have a product to sell.  The arrogance of the owners is astounding, and the more I have learned about this dispute the less I can defend the justice (not legality, mind you) of the course the NFL has set. 

Heat Blow 24-point Lead, Fall to Magic

The Heat cannot beat good teams, and that’s to be expected from a club that has enormous talent but hasn’t gelled well as a group.  You see it all the time in football (Ravens?), a team that might not be able to execute as well but are talented enough to get by even when a scrappy undersized squad gets a bit uppity.  Unfortunately for the Heat, they lack any support outside of the Big 2 ½ (sorry Chris Bosh).  Basketball is driven by stars, but stars don’t win championships and they don’t beat disciplined teams that understand their roles.  How many times do we ask how LeBron James and Dwayne Wade are adjusting their games to fit one another, or the ebb and flow of how they are working together?  They are struggling to understand how to operate with one another on the floor, and all their talent in the world isn’t going to make up for that. 

The Magic won last night because Stan Van Gundy’s players know what is expected of them and they have a clear system.  For all the turmoil that occasionally erupts behind the scenes (or on the sidelines) Van Gundy still controls that locker room and they listen to him.  Gilbert Arenas hasn’t found his place yet on that team, but if he ever does their offense will improve.  In the meantime, this is a team that can avoid reacting emotionally (with the exception of Dwight Howard) and stay in a game that they had no business winning after falling behind by two dozen points in the third quarter.

Miami will continue to beat up on the bad teams in the NBA because “street ball” works when the talent isn’t there.  But when they run up against even moderately talented teams that are disciplined (Spurs, Celtics, Mavericks, Bulls), their roster of 2 ½ stars with veteran minimum co-stars won’t be able to cut it.  I hope they pull it together, because they are fun to watch.  But while they try compare themselves to the Jordan/Pippen Bulls, they could learn a lot more from the soft-spoken Duncan/Parker/Ginobili Spurs.