Well the baseball playoffs kick off the Championship Series tonight, and with all of the emphasis on great starting pitching I am kind of hoping there is a 9-6 game in there somewhere just to throw things off from what has been a great postseason, but one with a rather predictable outcome- great pitching, smallball wins it.  I get it, and I enjoy it more than a 90’s era Coors Field match, but perhaps this postseason could mix it up a bit.  Either way, I will be watching.  So who are you rooting for this postseason?  By now O’s fans should be pretty used to having to root for another team in the postseason.  See?  Even in mid-October there is still some baseball talk in the air on a Baltimore blog.  So let’s line up for the kick…

Jonathan Ogden Implicated in Sports Illustrated Agent Expose

Okay, so while Ogden refused to directly accept money from ex-NFL agent Josh Luchs, he did accept a couple of Janet Jackson tickets, and it is unclear from the article whether Ogden knew that this violated NCAA rules or not.  I somehow doubt that he would have the moral fortitude to reject money but was willing to accept tickets instead.  Overall the article gives some real-life examples of things that we already knew were going on, but perhaps we didn’t understand the depth of it.  The athletes themselves are hardly victims, and neither are the coaches, universities, or even the NCAA.  This is a problem born out of a clear need- young people who need or want money are being actively approached by people with money who are often willing to give it with no strings attached.  If you are 18 or 19 years old, the temptation is understandable.  Moreover, one cannot expect the cutthroat world of representation to hold true to a strong set of professional standards, especially when so much of it is done surreptitiously.

The coaches themselves need to get off of their soapbox, because their players are just as responsible as the agents.  The players surely hide this from their coaches in much the same way that teenagers hide alcohol from their parents.  Rather than self-aggrandizing Nick Saban-style, the parties involved (including the NFL) need to step up and have an honest conversation.  Agents who are found to have given money need their license revoked, students who accepted money are not draft-eligible in their first year after leaving school (heavily hurting their stock and forcing them to sit out a year), and coaches who fail to put forth efforts for compliance have penalties that affect them as much as the university (not allowed to coach at an NCAA Division 1 institution for a given number of years).  All parties are responsible, so all parties should be held accountable.

Gilbert Arenas Just Doesn’t Get it… And Probably Never Will

Gilbert, why in God’s name would you fake an injury and lie to your coach to get a younger player playing time?  Getting the kid playing time is as easy as suggesting to coach Saunders that he sit for a bit more of the game.  That is it.  That is all he had to do.  Given his injury history and the fact that he doesn’t exactly need to learn the game (though his defense could always use some work), it would be perfectly understandable if he asked to be held out a bit.  But to take it into his own hands is not only disrespectful, it is downright idiotic.  I often try to rationalize where players are coming from, but in Arenas’ response to reporters he sounded like a 15 year old with a martyrdom complex. 

The media is not out to get Gilbert Arenas like they are some other athletes, he told them that he lied to his coach, and that is a story no matter what.  It doesn’t matter what his good intentions were, and I am sure he can find good intentions around keeping his guns in the locker room last season.  The worst part about this is that Gilbert appears to have learned nothing from his previous incidents.  He doesn’t shy away from controversy, he doesn’t behave in an honest and forthright fashion with his organization, even after all he has been through.  He utter lack  of understanding and contrition that he displayed after being fined for his behavior is tragic not just from a basketball perspective (which, God help the Wizards if that locker room stays the way it is), but as a human being.  We hope that people grow, develop, and mature, and I believe in the power of people to change and become wiser.  Gilbert Arenas has shown no comprehension of his actions, and that is horribly unfortunate for someone who has shown so much talent on the court.  I would end this with a hope that Arenas turns things around, but sometimes it’s time to throw in the towel.  This won’t be the last fine Arenas receives from the league, perhaps not even this season.