Okay, so Adam Dunn is officially off the board- let the low-ball accusations commence.  And this time, to be honest, I’m not sure I can argue with them.  Dunn signed for 4 years, $56 million with the White Sox.  The Orioles offered 4 years, $40 million.  Seriously?  The best bat on the market (granted, there isn’t much to choose from) and Baltimore can’t come within $15 million?  It’s particularly odd considering they were willing to pony up $48 million for Victor Martinez, and when they struck out on him you’d think they’d be willing to up their offer on the next best slugger.  Meanwhile, it’s looking like Baltimore’s courtship of Paul Konerko will be brief, as all signs still point to the White Sox resigning their current first baseman.  The pickings are starting to get very slim for Orioles management.  Derrick Lee?  Carlos Pena?  Fine, if Baltimore had already acquired that strong bat for the middle of their lineup.  The alternatives are all complimentary players at this point in their careers.  Like Carlos Pena and Mark Reynolds, the Orioles are striking out.  Maybe they are good matches after all.

Luckily there’s the rest of the sports world to talk about.  Line up for the kick, folks…

NCAA Destroys Credibility in Cam Newton Ruling

The NCAA has declared open season on recruits, and it’s time to shop.  In declaring Cam Newton eligible, the NCAA has made its position clear: regardless of what a parent tries to do, as long as the student has plausible deniability of knowing about it, he or she are in the clear.  This has already been taken the obvious next step, in what I hope is a sarcastic Ebay ad for one man’s unborn son’s verbal commitment.  Basically what Reggie Bush did was okay, as long as his parents never told him about it.  The NCAA has said they will look into closing this loophole, but they were the ones who opened it.  Up until this point their position was a fair one- the sins of the father are imparted to the son, to paraphrase a famous line.  If the parents act unethically the child will pay the consequences, thus providing a disincentive.  What is the disincentive for Cecil Newton or any other parent to shop his son around just to see what they could get?  And what if Mississippi State had said “yes” and given Cecil Newton his $180K?  There should be no distinction in the law between trying to get illicit benefits and actually getting illicit benefits, because the only difference is the person on the other end. 

The NCAA had an opportunity to make a statement and follow their precedent- instead, they looked at the standings, saw Auburn’s lofty rankings, and decided not to rock the boat and risk the millions of dollars from an Auburn appearance in the title game.

…and so does the NFL

Let me get this straight.  You lower your helmet into another player during a tackle, you get hit with a $75,000 fine.  I get it, I agree, it makes sense to me.  You remove someone’s helmet and physically wail on them, you get a $25,000 fine.  Wait, what?  Cortland Finnegan and Andre Johnson put a black eye on the NFL in their Sunday fistfight (though Finnegan wasn’t putting up much of one), but not as bad as the NFL inflicted on themselves in refusing to suspend either combatant.  So if I wanted to lay a big hit on someone this weekend, why risk the $75,000 fine?  I can just send a goon in there to rip off his helmet and give him a right cross and try to give him a concussion that way.  It’s way less expensive, after all.  This is downright horrifying for the message it sends to players and teams.  We are more interested in policing your tackling technique than we are in preventing brawls on the football field. 

Look, I don’t like the way James Harrison plays, but I understand it- he has played this way his whole life and it is hard to change the way you tackle.  However, there is no excuse for what transpired in Houston on Sunday.  I don’t want to hear another word about player safety or discipline from the NFL, because they are doing as much to put it in danger as the players are.