The week in sports featured some small Baltimore tidbits, with rumors of free agents the Orioles won’t sign passing over Twitter and the Ravens back under the radar after playing (and losing) last Thursday. Personally, that’s how I would prefer it for a team that tanks when the hype gets too loud. Carolina should be little more than a speed bump, but we should know better than to sleep on anyone this season with the way Cleveland (before they got competitive) and Buffalo pushed Baltimore to the brink. And you know what? I think we should be proud that Maryland basketball hung close against an incredibly talented Pittsburgh team last night. This team is so young and inexperienced that they will improve by leaps as the season progresses. The fact that they were able to hang within striking distance of Pitt for much of the game, closing the gap to 4 points with 2 minutes left to play, should speak volumes for how good this team could be. This could be a fun season to watch.
Outside of Maryland, the sports world was abuzz this week. Let’s line up for the kick…
Miami OC Dan Henning helps Chicago beat Miami on Thursday Night Football
You read that right. Yes the Bears dominated the Dolphins, but I cannot wrap my head around why Tyler Thigpen was thrown back there to pass on every down. Look, I like Tyler Thigpen a lot, I even thought he had earned a shot at a starting job with Kansas City after he performed admirably in the face of adversity back in 2008. He actually is a borderline starting QB in my book. However, any quarterback will be killed when a team abandons the run in a close game and lets a Julius Peppers-led pass rush pin their ears back and go for the passer. This isn’t about the fact that the Dolphins have two great running backs (which they do) or that Thigpen is a bad passer (not the case), this is about the fact that when the game is within a score (which it was for most of the game), there is no sense in abandoning the run game- especially when one hasn’t given the backs an opportunity to succeed by giving them touches early. The Bears won, but they didn’t prove as much to me because Miami was doing everything in their power not to score.
Yes, this Yankee Deserves Better
Once again the Yankees manage to trip all over themselves but outwardly portray their clean-cut, tradition-laden image. The franchise that has draped itself in history as the most storied franchise in professional sports has decided that now is a good time to behave like the Pirates or Marlins in their treatment of their star shortstop and face of the franchise, Derek Jeter. A team so flush with cash that it can afford to pay AJ Burnett $82.5 million and make up for that poor move by coming up with over $100 million for Cliff Lee cannot seem to give its aging star the contract that perhaps he does not deserve as a player, but deserves as an icon. Look, I don’t like Derek Jeter, and I think he is a terrible defensive shortstop- he can make great plays on balls hit right to him, but has the range of a cardboard box. However, when he is still performing decently (the worst year of his career is still better than most shortstops) and he is the leader of the team, the organization should be able to afford a 4th year for Jeter. If Jeter’s skills diminish to the point where he looks like Willie Mays late in his career, he will probably be wise enough to retire, and the team can pressure him to bow out then. Unless that happens, the face of the Yankees deserves better. If this organization is going to pretend that it is special, built on history and a tradition of excellence, this is their chance to show it.
UPDATE: Seattle’s Felix Hernandez wins AL Cy Young
Okay, so Zach has asked what I thought of Felix Hernandez winning the AL Cy Young. I usually like to include topics that I consider to be kind of controversial, and I guess I figured Felix Hernandez winning made perfect sense to everyone who didn’t judge Wins to be an important stat. However, since he asked, here goes. Wins is the least important statistic in baseball, because it is only tangentially impacted by the performance of a pitcher. A pitcher can allow 9 runs in 5 innings and get a win if his team scores 10. Another pitcher can allow one run in 8 innings and lose, 1-0. That pitcher gets a loss. Which pitcher had a better game?
They say CC and David Price pitched in the AL East, so their stats should be given deference. But Hernandez pitched with this sad-sack of a lineup, which is its own disadvantage. How tough must it be for a pitcher to trot out there knowing that one run could lose the game for them? Hernandez had the lowest run support in all of baseball, yet he put together incredible performances week after week. There should not have been any doubt that Hernandez deserves this award- I don’t understand sabremetrics or any of the advanced statistics, but I know this: for an individual achievement award lik the Cy Young a player should be judged by what he does, not what his teammates did.