Well, the honeymoon had to end some time, it’s clear it’s all over for the O’s under Showalter now.  Not really, the guy is still 8-2 as a manager. If he guides this team to anything resembling a .500 team over the last 6 weeks of the season, the will have more than enough confidence from me.  Remember, this team is known for its epic swoons at the end of August into September- just avoiding an all-out collapse would be victory enough.  I suppose it’s easy to impress when the standards have gotten so low.  Well maybe not the standards, because just reading the comments on this blog tells me people still expect great things- the results just haven’t been there.  Yes, Ravens lined up last night but I can’t lead Free Kicks with that- as we know, preseason games are nothing but glorified practices, a day of training camp you don’t have to drive to Westminster to see.  Interesting, certainly, but not news.  Once the games start I will be excited, but in the meantime I just want to line up for the kick…

Chipper Jones Out for the Season, Possible Retirement Looming

Chipper Jones not only has the best baseball name in the entire sport, he has been a paragon of professionalism on and off the field throughout his career with the Atlanta Braves.  He has seen that team through their best and worst moments, and for much of his career carried that lineup through 14 consecutive playoff appearances.  He has never been one to call out his teammates, but led by example and forced those around him to give their best effort.  Even as his bat started to slow down this season he commanded respect and admiration- his mere presence in the clubhouse was more than enough reason to keep him in the lineup.  This season in an off year he was still better than most starting third basemen, and is a shoo-in for the Hall of Fame.  Having lived in Atlanta for a brief period and having numerous relatives in the area, I understand that Jones is more than a great player, he is an icon for that franchise.  Like Cal Ripken in Baltimore, that man will never have to buy a drink again if he doesn’t want to.  While I selfishly hope that he will try to return next season after rehabbing or repairing his torn ACL, I won’t blame him if he decides to call it quits- which he already was considering doing after this season.  He would have gone out the way he played every game- going all-out for every ball and getting the out.

LeBronfest Just Won’t Go Away

And when Charles Barkley gets involved, you know it will take forever to blow over.  Most recently Sir Charles decided to lambast LeBron James for going to the Heat in what he called a “punk move,” and you know what?  I can’t say I disagree with him entirely- James seems like an arrogant punk who twisted everyone around worse than Brett Favre in the summertime.  However, I hate the way fans and commentators think that they can pass judgment on LeBron personally for going and changing jobs to a place he thought he could win.  If you were offered a job where you were able to work with your best friends at a company with a brighter future in a better city than the one you currently worked at, would you consider it?  You might have family that lived where you did and you might have lived there your entire life.  But would you consider it?  Almost certainly- the only difference is that LeBron is a public figure and he is apparently expected to have loyalty to his team.  How many professional sports franchises exercise the same loyalty to their players that we expect players to have in their teams?  Players are attacked for changing teams, but when a team cuts an underperforming player it is just part of the game.  It’s also hypocritical.  Perhaps Charles is right, but only by the current standards of athletes owing something to their hometown team.  Maybe we need to rethink those standards and let individuals make their own career decisions.

Cueto Not The Only One Who Deserves Suspension in Reds-Cards Brawl

Reds starting pitcher Johnny Cueto was suspended 7 games by major league baseball for his role in a benches-clearing brawl in game 2 of the recent Cards-Reds series, which is equivalent to one or maybe two starts.  He was seen up against the stands thrashing his cleats wildly at the mob of players in front of him, trying to escape and/or defend himself.  Throwing sharp cleats into a crowd?  Not a good idea.  But he certainly was not an instigator of that brawl and is not the only player deserving of a hefty suspension.  There were players, like Chris Carpenter, who were actively instigating the fight and throwing punches but who weren’t so much as tapped by the Commissioner by a suspension.  In my mind the Commissioner’s office ought to have taken a hard look at the video, which was pretty thorough in its account of the action, and seen who threw the first punch, who re-ignited the fight after it had appeared to die down, and who was engaged in the fracas that followed.  If the tools are there, then Bud Selig needs to use them rather than simply toss out a few token fines and hit one player with a suspension when two entire teams were duking it out with one another.  It’s a tacit approval of the brawl to not deal with these issues more harshly or diligently, and is another stain on the worst managed sports league in America.