Wow, it feels like so long has passed since the last Free Kicks.  The Orioles swept the Red Sox, were swept by the Yankees, and managed to shut out the Twins for the win last night.  However, that 2-0 win was exactly what the Orioles needed- no, not to get things going or turn the season around or anything like that.  They literally NEEDED to shut the opponent out if they were going to have any chance to win a game at this point.  Man, on March 30th who thought this team would be this far in the cellar?  Whatever happened to progress?  I know the schedule was tough, but not this tough.  At least we can celebrate the wins a little more while we wait for Luke Scott, Adam Jones, and Nolan Reimold to finally get a hit.  In the meantime, let’s line up for the kick…


Is NBA Still the “Bad-Boy” League?

With Adam “Pac Man” Jones getting picked up by the Bengals (as though they needed another criminal on the roster), Lawrence Taylor getting arrested for raping a 16 year-old girl who he allegedly purchased from a pimp, and Ben Roethlisberger recently being suspended, I had to wonder to myself when the last time was that an NBA star got in as much trouble as so many NFL stars seem to.  It feels like every month another NFL player is caught drunk driving, beating his wife/girlfriend, or engaging in some other repulsive activity, forcing a crack-down from the league.  Moreover, it is the NBA that has retained the reputation for having bad apples, players who constantly get into trouble and have cast a stain on the entire league.  I understand that the NFL has hundreds more players than the NBA, so there is a critical mass issue.  But for all of Roger Goodell’s bluster and suspensions, his tough-guy approach doesn’t seem to be having much of an impact on these players.  Sure, they now say the right things and act contrite, but the players are not taking the examples of their peers to heart.  For whatever reason, David Stern’s mismanaged system of justice that makes what a player wears more important than what they’re packing is resulting in fewer incidences than I can remember.  Does the NBA still deserve its bad-boy image?  Should the NFL deserve one?

Jim Calhoun Signs 5-year Extension with UConn

The only reason I mention this is because it is a huge leap of faith by the administration to honor Calhoun with this extension- not because UConn fell short of expectations this year- that happens in college basketball.  Calhoun is an incredible coach and deserves to remain the head man at UConn.  However, five years is a long time to commit to a man who missed large chunks of last season with health problems and will be 73 years old by the time the contract is up.  Basketball is not like football, where men like Joe Paterno can meander the sidelines while leaving the coaching to their assistants.  That isn’t to belittle JoePa, he is a legendary coach, but he clearly is not as involved as he once was.  College basketball requires a high amount of energy (see Gary Williams), a sharp mind (see Phil Jackson), and the ability to quickly articulate to your players (or the refs) in 30 seconds what they need to do (Coach K).  I worry about whether Calhoun will coach next season, much less 5 years from now.  I hope they know something I don’t.

Milton Bradley Playing Games with Mariners

I apologize for the pun, but I just had to do it.  Bradley, after storming out of the ballpark during a game and abandoning his teammates, has asked the organization to help him with “emotional stress” from personal issues and has been placed on the restricted list.  I am sorry if I don’t seem as sympathetic, but if these are the same “personal issues” that have caused Bradley to bounce from one team to another throughout his career (and never with a sweet exit), I don’t see them getting any better with or without the Mariners’ help.  He once went through anger management with the A’s- didn’t work.  He has gotten ultimatums from the Rangers and Cubs during his stints there- no impact.  At best this is a realization that his behavior needs to change, which would be something that will take more than a week to fundamentally alter.  At worst this is a ploy by his agent to garner some sympathy from the organization for his horrible PR after leaving in the middle of a game.  He is there for his bat but the guy is straddling the Mendoza line on a team that is desperate for some pop.  At this point I am tired of hearing about his issues.  His history shows that as long as he hits, some team will put up with him- right now he isn’t even doing that.