Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Since we passed the 3/4 mark of the decade a few months ago (to little fanfare), I hatched an idea for a blog post about the most influential sports figures of the decade, largely because I firmly believe that the individual befitting that award goes unmentioned by all. But it occurred to me that a list of the most influential people in the world as a whole would be interesting as well.
I'm basing these rankings on the amount of influence these individuals have had over the ways we live, the ways that society functions and the ways society will function in the future. These influences can be for good or ill -- influence is influence, after all.
First of all, I want to give honorable mention to Chad Hurley, Steve Chen and Jawed Karim, the founders of YouTube. When the history is finally written about the technological advances of our day, I'm convinced that they will be on a very short list of the most important innovators. While Internet video certainly existed before YouTube came about in 2005, it wasn't nearly as mainstream. The invention of this website dovetailed nicely with the explosion in various types of broadband availability and served as THE entity most important in developing video-on-demand on the Internet. Quite simply, Hurley, Chen and Karim created something that will affect the way we consume media far into the future.
5. (TIE) Vladimir Putin and Howard Dean. Surely, this is an odd couple if ever there was one! But since my rankings were only five-deep, I could not choose between them for the final spot.
Let's examine Putin first. For several decades leading up to the Nineties, the leader of the USSR would have had to make such a list. For example, could a Top Five of the Eighties have not included both Reagan and Gorbachev? Unlikely. But as the Soviet Union faded into history, it took with it its vast influence over the world. Russian President Boris Yeltsin would certainly not have made such a list in the Nineties, at the low ebb of power for that country in the last hundred years. But Putin's Russia has roared back with a vengeance this decade, taking advantage of openings caused by ramifications of American foreign policy mistakes. While Russia has asserted itself as a key player on the world stage, make no mistake, the means it has chosen will be a major cause of strife and a threat to free societies in the years to come. The old Soviet axis seems to be reconstituting in a way, as Putin gathers up any adversaries of the U.S. that he can find to befriend (Iran, Venezuela and to a certain extent China). Also, his regime is taking on disturbing fascist tendencies at home, as our blog post from August documented. Even after his term as president ends next year, Mad Vlad will continue pulling the strings in the Kremlin and the effects of just the actions he's already set in motion will already be extraordinarily far-reaching.
Now to Howard Dean, who emerged from complete obscurity as governor of the gay-friendly state of Vermont to become one of the most important American political figures of the last 50 years. While he's best-known nationally as a punchline with his infamous speech after the Iowa caucuses in 2004, Dean actually emerged from that election cycle as an enormous transforming figure in the political system. In the months following the end of the first phase of the war in Iraq, when George Bush was appearing in front of "Mission Accomplished" signs and the public was still savoring the heady feeling of having deposed Saddam Hussein, Dean rode his opposition to the war to the front of the pack in the Democratic presidential field. This was made possible in large part by Dean harnessing the nascent blog movement and the organizing power of the Internet to level the financial playing field with an absolute blizzard of small-time contributors. By combining grass-roots political practices with the technological possibilities of the Web, Dean managed to bring the antiwar movement into the mainstream and changed forever the ability of political insiders in both parties to dictate party nominations by fiat. Personally, I regard the former as a great negative and the latter as a great positive, but the far-reaching influence is undeniable and led to his selection as chairman of the Democratic National Committee.
4. Osama bin Laden. I imagine that an explanation of bin Laden's influence in the 2000s needs little elaboration. The fact that he's not #1 on the list is certainly a measure of the extremely consequential presidency we've lived under for the last seven years. The phrase "9/11 changed everything" became a cliche long ago, but as I always say, cliches get to be cliches because they are true. OBL belongs on the list if for no other reasons than the fear he instilled by launching the first attack on the American mainland since the War of 1812 and the resulting security measures that followed -- and those factors are just the tip of the iceburg. There's certainly a spot waiting for bin Laden in Hades, but in the meantime, he resides both in the hinterlands of Pakistan and at #4 on our list of the decade's most influential people.
1. (TIE) George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Karl Rove. For one man to trump bin Laden's influence this decade in the aftermath of 9/11 would have seemed unlikely, but three would have seemed preposterous! Yet, the style of governance in America the last seven years has made it so. Bush is, as he says, "The Decider," and must therefore be listed here as the man with the final word. But his chief deputies belong right with him for the directions they've successfully pushed for him to adopt, Cheney in foreign policy and Rove in domestic policy.
First, Cheney. He and his neoconservative fellow-travelers persuaded Bush to enter into war in Iraq. Effects of this conflict will be felt for decades. Most are negative, from the diminishing of our deterrent threat around the world to hostility stirred up in Arab countries to the trillions of dollars we are sending over there to the fact that the American people were able to turn against a war so quickly after 9/11. Cheney was the chief backer of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and the successes of 2007 would never have occurred if Rumsfeld had not been forced out and the surge policy inserted in. The positive side of the ledger for Cheney is mostly in his rare forays into domestic policy, such as pushing Bush to pursue positive tax policies (leaving aside the disastrous spending ones).
Rove, while no longer in government, did more to shape Bush's theories on government than any other figure. Like the Clintons, he merged policy with politics in a crude manner. Unlike the Clintons, he was not quite so skilled at it. True, he helped Bush manage to slip across the finish line in 2004, although the jury is out about whether it could have been accomplished against a candidate better than the pathetic John Kerry. Rove's notion of "compassionate conservatism," a feel-good compilation of contradictory blather, became Bush's domestic governing philosophy and ultimately his political undoing along with the Iraq mess. Rove had greedy dreams of stitching together a Republican dynasty like the one in the early 1900s, but he sold the conservative soul to do so. From education (the horrific "No Child Left Behind" boondoggle and reprehensible sellout of poor kids by abandoning vouchers in the face of bullying from Ted Kennedy) to health care (burdening generations to come with the asinine Medicare prescription drug fiasco) to spending (completely condoned as long as Republicans were operating Congress and operating the old pork dispenser) to immigration (let the illegals flow in unchecked so that Big Business contributors can hire them for 10 cents per hour) to the basic issue of competence in government (Katrina, which in fairness was also victimized by state and local lack of government), the Rove/Bush philosophy of trying to build a permanent majority by being all things to all people did nothing but alienate the base. Their tone-deaf White House political apparatus was constantly a day late and a dollar short in answering Democratic attacks after the 2004 reelection campaign and led straight to the debacle of 2006. There would be no Speaker Pelosi or Majority Leader Reid were it not for the bumbling of this Republican trinity. Even as they fade into history, however, their legacy will loom strong for at least a quarter century. And that gives them a collective influence the likes of nobody else this decade.
As a sworn enemy of the Red Sox "nation," I take no pleasure whatsoever about my forecast of their World Series victory coming true. The difference in the strength of the two leagues alone made that a foregone conclusion. Not in my lifetime (and I'm in my thirties) has the disparity between the American and National League been as stark as it is right now. FDH Lounge Dignitary Nathan Noy told me that he heard somebody cracking that the Rockies had advanced to the World Series by winning the NIT bracket. Sad but true, and it points out the opportunities present for more than half the teams in the NL to advance to the Series next year with just a few upgrades. Winning once they get there, though, will be problematic to say the least.
To use the gambling parlance for a moment, Boston is certainly the "chalk" for the 2008 world championship as well. Ellsbury, Pedroia and Youkilis still have a long ways to go to reach their ceilings and there's a ton of fine young arms in the rotation and pen, making Curt Schilling expendable. Surely they won't let money get in the way of resigning Mike Lowell if they want him back. ManRam and Big Papi probably have less prime years left than most folks think (Ortiz in particular seems a fine candidate to become the next Mo Vaughn with a steep falloff thanks to matters of conditioning, although my best guess for that is no sooner than three years away), but ownership will continue to augment their excellent core with marquee free agents. Oh, and Josh Beckett is the best postseason pitcher going right now and arguably the best since Bob Gibson. So it's almost inconceivable that any other team could make enough moves to keep Boston from being a consensus pick to repeat next year.
In case anyone is still unaware of the deplorable depths to which ESPN Page 2's once-amusing Bill Simmons has plummeted, his hacky trail of "look Ma, I'm going to get some attention by saying something stupid" has wound down to this pile of excrement: Lebron and the Cavs won't even make the playoffs in the weak Eastern Conference. Really.
If you wish to amuse yourself with his continued idiocy, you can't do better than this wonderful parody, which is a "Sports Guy Mad Lib" of sorts. Have fun!
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
The archive for the October 27 show is not up yet, but we urge you to catch it when it gets posted this week. As we mentioned when the rundown was posted, it was the final in-studio program with our friends and partners Jason and Samantha Jones prior to their relocation and subsequent establishment of the FDH branch office in Colorado Springs.
Towards the end of Hour Two and into Hour Three, we had a segment that was truly unique: comparing prominent rock and roll figures to presidential candidates, the greatest NFL quarterbacks of all time and the greatest NFL quarterbacks of today. If you never thought you'd hear these names in the same sentence, think again: Ozzy Osbourne and Otto Graham, Hillary Clinton and (post-Federline) Britney Spears, Amy Lee and Brett Favre! The warped minds of our friends the Jones newlyweds never cease to amaze and astound!
On a personal note, as the head of our little FDH family, I want to mention that we will greatly miss having Jason and Samm around personally even as we remain grateful for our continued association with them. Professionally, we won't miss a beat, they'll still be there thanks to the wonders of various forms of technology that will keep us tightly bound, but we'll be sad not to get to spend time with them personally. Sports viewing parties at my place just got duller (no offense to my other friends!). Best of luck to them in their new location.
ESPN ombudsman Le Anne Schreiber might not want to eat on-campus next time she's in Bristol lest she end up with any ground glass in her food. The kind of truths she's telling can't be too popular with the Powers That Be.
Her most recent column continues to illuminate the manner in which ESPN has dumbed down our national sports discourse with their lowest-common-denominator approach to sports "debate and discussion." Interestingly, ESPN executive vice president of production Norby Williamson comes off a titch defensive when called on the devaluation of the ESPN brand. He also claims that the course charted over the past few years has been a profitable one. Insert H.L. Mencken quote about the American people here.
Saturday, October 27, 2007
THE FDH LOUNGE comes your way on a different day, albeit the same time as usual, on SportsTalkNetwork.com. Tonight, Saturday, October 27, we air 24 hours earlier than usual from 8-11 PM EDT.
We are being preempted by special programming on Sunday, but rather than skip this turn in our every-other-week rotation, we are airing a special version of the show to recognize a milestone of ours: the final in-studio program for Jason and Samantha Jones. They are relocating to Colorado next week and will be participating long-distance as some of the other FDH Lounge Dignitaries do. But before that happens, we'll have one last version of the show with them on-site.
In Hour One, after the Opening Statements of the Dignitaries, we speak once again with our good friend Rick Calvert from Blog World Expo, the new media convention that harnesses so many world-changing forces for the first time. With the expo less than two weeks away in Las Vegas, what developments are expected to come out of this gathering? We'll find out.
In Hour Two, we catch up with Samantha, our Chief Entertainment Dignitary, for the latest in music and movies. Additionally, our newlyweds will have some travel tips for you fun-seeking vacation types out there.
In Hour Three, the FDH Lounge Pigskin Report reviews a poll-shaking weekend of college football and previews NFL Week 8. Additionally, we'll bring you our comments throughout the show on the game between #1 Ohio State and Penn State and on World Series Game Three (go Rockies!).
Join us tonight on SportsTalkNetwork.com as we close the door on one era of the Lounge and prepare for our 20th broadcast and all that lies ahead!
Thursday, October 25, 2007
New York 40-42
New Jersey 39-43
Y-Golden State 45-37
Y-Los Angeles Lakers 42-40
Los Angeles Clippers 37-45
Y-San Antonio 54-28
New Orleans 40-42
FIRST ROUND OF PLAYOFFS
Cleveland over Orlando in 6
Toronto over Miami in 7
Chicago over Detroit in 6
Boston over Washington in 6
Dallas over Los Angeles Lakers in 4
Phoenix over Denver in 5
San Antonio over Golden State in 6
Utah over Houston in 7
SECOND ROUND OF PLAYOFFS
Boston over Cleveland in 6
Toronto over Chicago in 6
Dallas over Utah in 6
Phoenix over San Antonio in 7
Boston over Toronto in 6
Phoenix over Dallas in 7
Phoenix over Boston in 5
NBA MVP: Lebron James
Finals MVP: Amare Stoudemire
Coach of the Year: Rick Adelman
The most fascinating story of the year does not involve the Kobe trade rumors (a perennially overplayed drama), the struggle of the Cavs to take the next step without having upgraded in the offseason and without their two holdouts (a somewhat overblown concern considering that the team will improve from within with Daniel "Boobie" Gibson becoming their Ben Gordon), Dallas' quest for redemption (they'll be a great team just like they've been the past few years) or the Spurs' quest to finally repeat as champions (they won't). The unprecedented attempt by the Boston Celtics to "topload" their roster with three Hall of Famers and most of the rest of the roster being fit for the developmental league will seize center stage. It says here that their efforts will take them through the feeble Eastern Conference, thanks mainly to a draw that will cause them to avoid deep teams like Detroit and Chicago. Like most East teams in recent years, however, they will be exposed in the Finals as the Valley of the Sun hoists its first title in a reverse result of the classic Clash of '76.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
By Rick Morris
Two seemingly separate stories that materialized this week are bound by one common thread: on-the-ground observance trumping a pre-existing media template.
One example may sound unbelievable at first glance, but makes more sense upon further consideration. The much-vaunted nooses hanging on the tree on school grounds were apparently not racially motivated, but a misguided joke aimed at one group of white students from another. While this might seem to stretch credulity, it really doesn’t. We hear and see all the time about this historical illiteracy of kids these days. The notion that some of them might be too uneducated to know the context of racism and lynching is actually quite possible, regardless of where they live.
The other story we reference is the defining one of this last half-decade: the
Speaking of milbloggers covering the scene up close, Bill Roggio continues to be near or at the top of this outstanding field. We had him on THE FDH LOUNGE show previously, in what we consider one of our greatest segments ever, and we look forward to doing so again, although we regrettably have not been able to get our booking requests answered (we mention this solely to let those listeners who have requested a repeat appearance know that we want it also and are working towards making it happen). Notwithstanding that, Bill is spending every day making the most difficult-to-understand corners of the world relatable to his readership and his latest writing about the volatile
By Rick Morris
A recent post taking the Ohio Republican Party to task for burying Democratic state officeholders under a mountain of public records requests also advocated a better path for the GOP, one that demonstrates the superiority of a conservative public policy path. If any politicians end up being wise enough to heed the advice, there are now two different examples of how it can be done.
These possibilities come from two states very different from each other and very different from
Sadly, the Ohio Republican Party mirrors in many ways the national apparatus, which is similarly outclassed in public relations every time they try to compete on the Democrat turf of cheap politics. If the Machiavellis calling the shots actually had a clue that idealism and good government actually pays a lot more politically than transparent “politics as usual” gaga,
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Remember the days when the Red Sox were a fuzzy, lovable underdog whom
Those seem like distant memories.
The national media will spin this series as the empire against the ragamuffins, but in reality, it’s the most star-studded World Series since 1999 with the Rocks definitely holding up their end of the bargain. Although Matt Holliday, Brad Hawpe, Troy Tulowitzki, Garrett Atkins and Todd Helton toil in relative anonymity, that does not negate what they accomplish between the lines. Holliday is probably The Baddest Man on the Planet right now and is probably the only player who could legitimately reduce Manny Ramirez to being the second best left fielder in the World Series.
I have maintained all along that the winner of the
^ I picked against
^ David Ortiz or Kevin Youkilis at Coors Field? We won’t see both.
^ Rookie starters Franklin Morales and Ubaldo Jimenez are wildly inexperienced, but also unknown commodities to the Red Sox. Young pitchers can buffalo even great hitters unfamiliar with them.
^ In addition to excellent performances from their core players, Colorado has had timely hitting up and down the order – and they are one of the best defensive teams in baseball, if not the best.
^ While the Rocks will have to deal with the atmosphere at Fenway, the Red Sox must play the middle games of the series at Coors Field. Tim Wakefield’s knuckleball might not be dancing on a cold October night at altitude.
^ There is at least a surface similarity I see, albeit with great irony, between this Series and the 2003 one. Then, an upstart team led by, you guessed it, Josh Beckett, punched the favorite Yankees in the nose and continued their Cinderella run all the way to the top. But the crucial difference I see is that the Sox are not in the decaying-dynasty mode
Notwithstanding these factors, I pick the Red Sox to win in 6. I sincerely hope that I am as wrong about the
By Rick Morris
The knee-jerk reaction by Tribe fans is to label the 3-1 ALCS lead and subsequent collapse as a choke. But relinquishing a lead, no matter the circumstances, can never be a choke when it was simply a matter of the law of averages kicking in and the better team winning.
We need not revisit the fact that all available measures to load up this team for the postseason were not taken. But clearly, the Red Sox had the edge in starting pitching (especially big-game starting pitching in the form of Beckett and Schilling) and lineup depth (Pedroia and Youkilis, anybody?). The Indians featured not-ready-for-primetime performances from their dual aces and sub-par lineup production from most players not named Victor Martinez. Additionally, when your second baseman and right fielder are so new to starting in the big leagues that they start to become exposed at the plate at the worst time of the year, you are reaping what you’ve sown in terms of roster assemblage.
As for the crash of “The Raffys” in the
Again, the Indians did not choke -- because they used smoke and mirrors to amass their 3-1 series lead in the first place. When Tom Mastny is retiring the middle of the order effortlessly to help you win an extra-innings game at
The Tribe has a very talented core of players, but it needs to be augmented with legitimate help from the outside if the team is to have more than a puncher’s chance at winning a World Series title. Like many other fans of the team, I got caught up in recent weeks in thinking this team had a chance to go all the way, but I never deluded myself about how it would happen. If it was going to go down, it would have been because it was one of those magic seasons, not because the team built to be the best was going to take what it deserved. That team is the Boston Red Sox and they now face another “magic” team in the Colorado Rockies in the World Series. And for the second round in a row, the only team that can possibly choke is the one from Beantown.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
An idiot on a Boston radio show, deciding to play "Wacky Morning DJ Hack," has gravy-trained for himself some publicity regarding the bug infestation that descended on Jacobs Field during Game Two of the American League Division Series. Said ignoramus shall not be named or linked to here because that just encourages fellow no-talents to exploit circumstances in a willfully disingenuous manner. For the record, what happened during that game did not constitute any form of cheating or unfair advantage and Fausto Carmona had the guts to pitch through it unaffected unlike young Joba.
But I will give credit to my good friends Don Peterson and Tony Mazur from The Don and Tony Show, the flagship daytime program on SportsTalkNetwork.com, for schooling this chump thoroughly. His hometown newspaper, the Boston Herald, even found their beatdown notable enough to cover. For the record, the Herald was wrong on one count -- Don and Tony dispatched of this pretender without resorting to any vulgarity. But otherwise, the article sums up their fine work quite well.
Since the post-lockout/wildcard playoff format/serious 'roiding era of baseball began in 1995 (this started the culmination of these factors, even though steroids had been around before that), what kind of correlation has there been between the World Series teams with the greater number of top-end players and ultimate victory? I decided to determine this. Keep in mind that by definition the labeling of a player as a "superstar" is inherently a bit arbitrary, so I make no pretense whatsoever about the scientific nature of this piece. In terms of how I arrived at whether a player was a superstar at the time, I went by track record (in other words, I eliminated players who appeared at the time to be a one-year wonder) and, because I'm a big roto/stats guy, dominating statistical production. Here's how my fun little study proceeded in terms of whether it was predictable or not by this admittedly random criteria:
2006: St. Louis (3 superstars: Chris Carpenter, Albert Pujols, Scott Rolen) over Detroit (2 superstars: Ivan Rodriguez, Justin Verlander). While Verlander didn't have an extensive track record through 2006, he was a very high-ceiling prospect and I factored in his pedigree in determining that he already was a legitimate superstar. I did not include everyone's favorite intangibles player/underdog David Eckstein to keep the good folks at Fire Joe Morgan from having their heads explode!
2005: Chicago White Sox (3 superstars: Paul Konerko, Jermaine Dye, Mark Buehrle) over Houston (5 superstars: Lance Berkman, Roy Oswalt, Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte, Brad Lidge). Remember, Lidge was tarnished only by the Pujols homer in the NLCS at this point and had yet to lose his invincible image. UNPREDICTABLE.
2004: Boston (5 superstars: Manny Ramirez, David Ortiz, Pedro Martinez, Curt Schilling, Keith Foulke) over St. Louis (5 superstars: Albert Pujols, Chris Carpenter, Jim Edmonds, Scott Rolen, Jason Isringhausen). PUSH.
2003: Florida (1 superstar: Ivan Rodriguez) over New York Yankees (6 superstars: Jorge Posada, Alfonso Soriano, Derek Jeter, Mike Mussina, Roger Clemens, Mariano Rivera). While the Marlins had many youngsters on the verge of stardom, by the fall of '03 few if any could be said to have proven themselves at that level yet. UNPREDICTABLE.
2002: Anaheim (2 superstars: Garret Anderson, Troy Percival) over San Francisco (3 superstars: Jeff Kent, Barry Bonds, Robb Nen). UNPREDICTABLE.
2001: Arizona (3 superstars: Luis Gonzalez, Randy Johnson, Curt Schilling) over New York Yankees (6 superstars: Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Bernie Williams, Mariano Rivera, Mike Mussina, Roger Clemens). UNPREDICTABLE.
2000: New York Yankees (5 superstars: Jorge Posada, Derek Jeter, Bernie Williams, Roger Clemens, Mariano Rivera) over New York Mets (3 superstars: Mike Piazza, Mike Hampton, Al Leiter). PREDICTABLE.
1999: New York Yankees (4 superstars: Derek Jeter, Bernie Williams, David Cone, Mariano Rivera) over Atlanta (6 superstars: Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux, Chipper Jones, Kevin Millwood, John Smoltz, Andruw Jones). UNPREDICTABLE.
1998: New York Yankees (5 superstars: Derek Jeter, Bernie Williams, David Cone, Mariano Rivera, Paul O'Neill) over San Diego (4 superstars: Tony Gwynn, Kevin Brown, Andy Ashby, Greg Vaughn). PREDICTABLE.
1997: Florida (5 superstars: Gary Sheffield, Moises Alou, Bobby Bonilla, Kevin Brown, Robb Nen) over Cleveland (4 superstars: Matt Williams, Jim Thome, Manny Ramirez, Dave Justice). PREDICTABLE.
1996: New York Yankees (4 superstars: Bernie Williams, Paul O'Neill, David Cone, John Wetteland) over Atlanta (9 superstars: Javy Lopez, Fred McGriff, Chipper Jones, Marquis Grissom, Ryan Klesko, Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux, John Smoltz, Mark Wohlers). UNPREDICTABLE.
1995: Atlanta (5 superstars: Fred McGriff, Ryan Klesko, John Smoltz, Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux) over Cleveland (7 superstars: Carlos Baerga, Jim Thome, Albert Belle, Manny Ramirez, Kenny Lofton, Eddie Murray, Dennis Martinez). UNPREDICTABLE.
So the team with more elite players lost in 1995, 1996, 1999, 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2005. 2004 was a push with an equal number of superstars on each team and the team with more superstars won in 1997, 1998, 2000 and 2006. Now, the '06 determination could come as a surprise to some, because the Cards only won 83 games in a vastly inferior National League, but St. Louis certainly had fewer players just below the superstar level than Detroit.
^ A more talented Braves team on paper lost the Series in '96 after winning in '95. Their young talent was a year more advanced, but couldn't get past a cohesive Yankees squad, who would go on to beat them notwithstanding a similar talent situation again in '99.
^ The World Series with the most combined superstars? 1996 (minor surprise that it had more than the year before, but it did because of the previously mentioned maturation of the Braves lineup) with 13, 1995 with 12 (no surprise at all), 1999 with 10 (with many of the same players as 1996) , 2004 with 10, 1997 with 9 (the Tribe in its prime and the Marlins with their mercenaries) and 2001 with 9 (the beginning of the end of the Yankees dynasty).
^ The World Series with the least combined superstars? 2002 and 2006, each with 5.
I'm at a loss in terms of spotting definitive trends out of that data. The team with more elite players has failed to win the World Series 7 times since 1995, but in many instances they had more players on the next tier down. If anything, we could speculate that the "superstar effect" can be overrated in October, but I wouldn't stake my life on that claim.
How do this year's potential teams rate?
Colorado (5 superstars: Matt Holliday, Garrett Atkins, Brad Hawpe, Troy Tulowitzki, Todd Helton). I'd still consider Helton at that level by the skin of his teeth given his power decline and I rate Tulow up there based on the "Verlander Precedent" of 2006 in that his superb pedigree means that we can give him the benefit of the doubt sooner than most.
Cleveland (5 superstars: Grady Sizemore, Travis Hafner, Victor Martinez, C.C. Sabathia, Fausto Carmona). Ryan Garko comes close to making the cut but misses just barely on experience (and thus not being given the benefit of the doubt given that his minor league projections were high, but just a shade below Tulow and Verlander). But since I included Troy T., so too will I include Fausto, who was projected as a #1 starter in the minor leagues and has survived more adversity than most major leaguers already with his infamous disaster at closer in '06. Rafael Betancourt was not listed because I did not include Mariano Rivera in 1996 -- it's hard for me to regard a setup man, no matter how dominant, on the level of other elite players.
Boston (6 superstars: Manny Ramirez, David Ortiz, Mike Lowell, Josh Beckett, Curt Schilling, Jonathan Papelbon).
The quick note that comes to mind when looking at a Cleveland-Colorado matchup is that the lazy national media template would be to regard both teams as a collection of ragamuffins because they haven't been here before or recently, as the case may be. Regardless of who comes out of the American League Championship Series, this will mark only the second time since 1999 that we have seen a World Series with a double-digit number of superstars being involved, albeit many of them lesser-known to the casual fan. So reject that superficial storyline for the pabulum that it is if you encounter it.
Mitt Romney's laughable assertion that he represents the "Republican wing of the Republican party" in the 2008 presidential race represents a rare misstep in his preprogrammed plastic pandering path to the GOP nomination. His creepy Max Headroom affectations aside, Romney has tried to get ahead by essentially repudiating the status quo moderation which had previously represented his career -- and now, by taking his "I'm one of you" gaga a step too far, he's invited the kind of rhetorical beatdown that John McCain has since dropped on him. Frankly, it doesn't take someone with even a fraction of my "Mad Google-Fu Skillz" to expose Mitt the Mendacious for the Fantastic Fraud that he is:
* He famously said that he was an independent in the '80s and didn't want a return to the days of Reagan-Bush.
* He said during his 1994 Massachusetts Senate campaign that abortion should be safe and legal and praised Roe v Wade as the law of the land.
* He disregarded the Second Amendment when it suited his needs in the People's Republic of Massachusetts.
* He was a great pal of "the love that dare not speak its name" back in the aforementioned Bay State.
* He trumps up similarities to standard Christianity to attempt to suck up to the Republican base while belonging to a religion that has, among its many "interesting" points, the notion of no unified Trinity, the Book of Mormon being a co-equal document to the Bible, and the notion that God has a physical manifestation.
His convenient reversal on the first four points just happened to coincide with his move from electoral pursuits in the Chomskyite state of Massachusetts to the national stage and a conservative base unforgiving of his heresies. While Romney has his useful idiots who are willing to sell out all principles for whatever jaded reason to be a part of his demeaning sideshow, legitimate conservatives are distinguishing themselves by choosing not to be part of the poser campaign of Romney or New York liberal Rudy Giuliani.
Sunday, October 14, 2007
The 18th edition of THE FDH LOUNGE on SportsTalkNetwork.com (8-11 PM EDT) will feature its trademark eclectic blend of content.
In Hour One, we get caught up on the presidential race, now entering the homestretch of pre-primary and pre-caucus campaigning. On the Democratic side, is Hillary a lock? If so, who might her running mate be? With Lounge Dignitary Burrell Jackson having proclaimed himself a Barack Obama supporter, we'll ask him what the senator's tack should be in terms of taking down the former First Lady. In the Republican bracket, Lounge darling Fred Thompson has entered the race and participated in his first debate. How has the race changed? And what's up with the Rudy-and-Mitt attempts to wean this down to a mano-a-mano contest? With Romney's Mormonism coming closer to taking center stage, is religion a legitimate reason to vote against a candidate?
In Hour Two, once we make it through the presidential politics, we'll check out Israel's bombing of the Syrian nuclear facilities and what it bodes for stopping the spread of nuclear arms worldwide. And in the aftermath of the Flava Flav roast at summer's end, we'll address a question sure to divide the Dignitaries -- Flav: minstrel clown or great entertainer?
In Hour Three, we review the baseball playoffs to date and look ahead to the bombshells that are reported to emerge from the Mitchell Report regarding substance abusers. We wrap up with The FDH Lounge Pigskin report reviewing an interesting weekend of NFL and college action including the massive choke-job of #1 LSU at Kentucky. Join us for all the fun Sunday night for The Great American Radio Show on Internet TV!
Shades of Osirak in 1981, the Israelis have destroyed a grave threat to their security in the form of a Syrian nuclear weapons facility. It's very sobering to think that our intelligence agencies missed this while committing at least some form of assessment failure about Iraqi capabilities pre-war. We can all be grateful that the superior intelligence agency Mossad found out what we could not, that the Israelis got the job done, and that their necessary attack did not further inflame the Middle East.
Saturday, October 13, 2007
As a lifelong resident of the Cleveland area, you might think I'd be most sick and tired of the perennially horrible and depressing economy -- or perhaps the harsh summers and winters -- or perhaps the single worst market in the country for terrestrial radio (albeit made much more bearable by my sweet, sweet iPod in the car) -- or perhaps the knuckle-dragging, no-vision mediocre politicians sucking at the public teat -- or perhaps the legacy of no major professional sports championship (I said major championship, indoor soccer!) since 1964.
Actually, the element I'm most sick and tired of is none of the above, although it's somewhat related to the legacy of losing sports teams.
You see, the Cleveland area is singular in the barely repressed overcompensating self-loathing that manifests itself in the world's biggest inferiority complex. If somebody at ESPN so much as mentions something unflattering about Cleveland off air and sotto voce to boot, 10 morons would immediately clog the phone lines of a local talk show to whine about it. It's almost impossible for anyone outside of Cleveland to properly appreciate this, but ANYTHING said by ANYONE in the national media can be taken at any time as a reprehensible slam on America's North Coast by its paranoid residents. A mere "Here comes the Yankees" from Chip Carey during the ALDS telecasts was enough for the majority of the Tribe fanbase to complain that its female private parts hurt.
So Lebron James, as a fellow lifelong Northeast Ohioan, should have known the grief he was buying by wearing a Yankees hat to ALDS Game One at Jacobs Field.
Personally, as a lifelong fan of all C-Town sports teams and certified Yankee hater, I didn't appreciate his gesture. But I'm just about unique in this town right now for the fact that I have no great urge to burn him in effigy.
Cleveland fans are actually pretty amusing in their ignorance and lack of any type of perspective on Old Number 23. To date, Lebron has lived up to the NBA pedigree by serving as (unmarried) baby daddy to two young tykes. With urban America plagued by countless ills that could be traced back to births out of wedlock and single parenthood, Lebron has chosen not to set a positive example for so many of his fans. But the "sports is my life" yokels who worshiped him considered him perfect before and now call him the devil incarnate for donning a Yankee lid.
Let me be clear. I have worn, and will continue to wear, Lebron gear including a #23 Cavs jersey. I have never been an immense fan of the man personally, dating back to his Hummer-driving days in high school (just try defending the indefensible on that deal!). I don't harbor dislike for him -- his "King James" persona is a bit much for me, but I think he's fairly well-adjusted when you grade on the curve and factor in that the world has been kissing his tuckus since his mid-teens. But I've always been cold and mercenary in my support of him. He's the single greatest athlete Cleveland has had in my lifetime, inasmuch as Jim Brown was before my time. He represents the greatest hope for a championship for my hometown teams, so I want him to succeed to bring my team a title. But I'm certainly not invested in him personally at all.
So when he does something jerky like taunt Tribe fans with a Yankees cap, I've got it in perspective, unlike the "Lebron hates us just like our evil overlords in the national media" nutcases who populate my hometown. Fortunately for them, The FDH Lounge exists and can demonstrate to those types that sports are important and fun, but there's actually a world that exists beyond it.
Dusty Baker to manage the Reds -- outstanding! In the interest of heaping maximum abuse on the Cincy arms, may I suggest Frank Robinson and Bob "Pitch Counts? We didn't have pitch counts in my day! After pitching six days in a row, I'd go into the manager's office and say 'Skip' -- we called him 'Skip' back in the day -- 'Skip, I'm available for long relief if you need me today because I'm a real man, dagnabbit" Feller to serve as pitching coaches?
Thursday, October 11, 2007
By Rick Morris
At this time last week, the experts were still agog about the almost unprecedented scope of upsets and general silliness yielded by NFL Week 4. As the dust has started to settle, one crystal-clear conclusion has shown itself to be undeniably true: none of these games were gigantic upsets, and we’re likely to see few legitimate ones the rest of the year.
Why? When you examine the league as you would a fantasy sports draft board, with tiers included to delineate where teams should truly be slotted, it becomes clear that for all of the talk about the league being parity-ridden in recent years if not decades, that it has never been truer than right now. There has rarely if ever been a time in the history of professional football that a good 20 teams are separated by so little.
Standard power rankings are insufficient to display the full gist of the way the league is configured through six weeks of the season. Here’s an assessment, with the aforementioned tiers included to give an accurate sense of where teams are at as of today:
TIER I: Mutant Super-Teams
TIER II: Above-Average Teams That Should Make the Playoffs and Lose to the Top-Tier Teams
6. Tennessee (in the all-time overachieving and overcoaching example this side of Bob Melvin – at a time when much more talented squads like San Diego, Carolina and Philadelphia have proven to be gutless disgraces, the Titans are to be hailed)
TIER III: One Large Amorphous Mess That Will Ultimately Yield Some Complete Cannon-Fodder Playoff Teams, Possibly with Records as Bad as 7-9
29. Buffalo (and they wouldn’t even be on this tier without the breath of fresh air known as Trent Edwards)
TIER IV: Bottom-Feeding Slugs
Tuesday, October 9, 2007
By Rick Morris
I correctly predicted the participants in the American League Championship Series, but missed wildly on the NLCS. In that matchup, we will see one of the greatest underdog vs. underdog matchups in the recent history of sports.
The Diamondbacks are a fascinating story. This team, so filled with young and raw talent, but so underdeveloped, seemed to morph into their 2009 selves right before our very eyes against the Cubs in the Division Series. Assuming that everyone stays healthy, the
Fans of the Backs and
NATIONAL LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES: Can the “future version” of the Diamondbacks stick around for one more series against the
AMERICAN LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES: These are clearly the two best-balanced teams in Major League Baseball at the moment, as the first round demonstrated. With Curt Schilling reverting to October form as I predicted for the first round, he has earned his way into the #2 slot in the rotation, which promises a pair of incredibly tight pitching battles in the first two games of the series as Beckett-Sabathia and Schilling-Carmona will keep us all on the edge of our seats. Dice-K probably still rates an edge over whoever the Tribe designates as a #3, however. The lineups seem fairly even at the moment, owing largely to the roll that Indians like Asdrubal Cabrera and Kenny Lofton have been on lately. The bullpens also seem well-matched, with the notable exception of Papelbon vs. Joe Blow at closer. That disparity, combined with the
World Series Prediction:
By Rick Morris
Since the WWE needs to begin planning for WrestleMania (well, they should have begun months ago, but it’s not really their style and in fairness, injuries have cropped up), what matches would you like to see? I went through the possibilities, taking into consideration the politics of the WWE because that really dictates what is and is not possible and here’s what I came out with:
WWE Championship Match: Randy Orton defends against Chris Jericho: Since Jericho was not brought in as a hot-shot opponent for Orton at No Mercy, the WWE has the opportunity for a slow build to WrestleMania. The show was probably going to end with John Cena in another successful title defense and the format seems to call for a babyface winning the top Raw title at the end, as it is now frozen in stone for all time that a Raw match must be the main event.
World Championship Match: Undertaker defends against Edge: There’s already a built-in feud here stretching back to last May, and it can plausibly be billed as “Streak vs. Streak” since Edge’s only loss at Mania was not in 1-on-1 competition, but rather the “Money In the Bank” match (and as a heel, he should claim that loophole for being undefeated anyway so as to rile up the crowds). Assuming Edge is the guy that the Undertaker is willing to put over at Mania, this makes sense because it puts Edge into the pantheon of elite heels in the history of the company.
ECW Championship Match: CM Punk defends against Mark Henry: Not a great match, admittedly, but I don’t see many possibilities for Punk. He should make it through the ECW roster before Mania and exhaust those feuds, so they’re going to have to bring somebody in from the outside. Having said that, the emphasis should be on having Punk get an impressive victory and Henry is probably a big enough name to furnish that boost. Make it a relatively short match with a gutty Punk comeback to keep building on his list of accomplishments.
HHH over Batista: Somebody’s going to have to be fed to HHH, and I don’t have as big a problem with this as some of my fellow smart marks. Realistically, he’s going to be somebody the company is building around for at least the next 2-3 years since he’s back from his hiatus and being pushed big-time. The WWE seems to be hinting at this match based on the last 2 PPVs. The setup could come easily, by having Batista interfere at No Way Out to have HHH drop the title back to Orton (again, realistically, HHH will probably hold the belt at some time in the next few months) – perhaps a Batista heel turn based on building jealousy of HHH. This solves a few purposes: puts a cross-brand match on Mania, gives HHH a win against somebody who is a big name but “disposable” enough looking down the road and gives HHH one win after he gave Batista three in a row back in ’05.
Shawn Michaels over Kane: These two have never had a really big-time feud over the years, and like HHH/Batista, it’s an opportunity to go cross-brand. Kane seems to work better as a heel, and with the host of psychological issues his character has had, finding a rationale to have him go after the popular and accomplished Michaels should be easy. Plus, since Kane seems fairly bulletproof in defeat, this, like the HHH victory, is a fairly harmless way for Michaels to go over somebody. Remember, he’ll probably go over whoever he wrestles, and he is probably going to be one of the core players at least in the near term, so the politics dictate that he gets thrown a bone – and this could be a great match.
US Title Match: MVP defends against Rey Mysterio: MVP deserves a successful singles match at Wrestlemania to help build him for bigger things possibly even in the next year (hindsight is 20/20, but don’t you think the WWE wishes he had gone over at last Mania?). Rey Rey could probably withstand a loss without any damage, especially if MVP uses the ropes for leverage or the victory is not completely clean.
Lashley over Mr. Kennedy: This is assuming that Lashley recovers in time for WrestleMania. If he does, the revenge angle is money and this could be the kickoff of a hot summer feud.
Money in the Bank: Jeff Hardy and Santino Marella from Raw, Matt Hardy and Chavo Guerrero from Smackdown, Elijah Burke and Finlay from ECW (with Finlay being moved to ECW in the next few months to fill the veteran leader role that he has performed on Smackdown and that was being reserved for Chris Benoit in ECW). This is a good opportunity for Marella to go over and take his character to the next level
Women’s Title Match: Beth Phoenix defends against Ashley: The identity of the competitors is significantly less important than the format. The “lumberjill” style used last year should be a part of every WrestleMania going forward, as it gets the Divas involved, but puts them into one match rather than taking up space during the rest of the show. Ashley could be built up nicely for this coming off of her Survivor run and
Brand Wars Battle Royal: Instead of the “DVD only” battle royal of the last few years, put the battle royal as the opening match of the PPVwith team rules. 10 wrestlers each from Raw, Smackdown and ECW, each wearing the official T-shirt of their brands, would compete to have wrestlers from their brand as the last one(s) remaining. The respective general managers could make bets among themselves and offer incentives to the wrestlers. It would provide an all-inclusive storyline opportunity for the wrestlers left off of the big part of the card. Politics being what they are, Raw would end up going over and I would use Snitsky and Umaga as the co-winners. They could eye each other warily at the end and you could have some interesting storyline possibilities as friend or foe going forward.Note also that I did not account for bringing back any stars of the past or any currently on the outs (Ric Flair, King Booker, etc.). It's time to start looking to the future in a viable manner and to prove that the WWE can fill a football stadium with the talent currently on their roster.
Wednesday, October 3, 2007
The first round of the MLB playoffs has resembled “March Madness” almost since the inception of the three-round playoff format instituted in 1994 (but not utilized until 1995 – thanks again, players’ union!). This year could well be the wildest yet, with four fairly evenly-matched teams in the superior American League and a number of hot teams in the National League – with only the surprising Arizona Diamondbacks not needing an insanely hot second half just to make the postseason in another down year for the NL. Before anyone overestimates momentum going into October, however, remember that the Cardinals and Tigers were ice-cold going into the playoffs last year only to turn it on when it counted and that the Cleveland Indians were absolutely dominant heading into the 1996 playoffs only to have their fortunes turn on a dime against
RED SOX/ANGELS: More than any other series, this one has many mirror-image elements. Both teams go three-deep with scary starting pitchers and are the only teams in the postseason to be able to make that claim. Both aces are legitimate big-game pitchers with both John Lackey (2002) and Josh Beckett (2003) having been on the hill for their teams in a World Series clincher – and both did it under impressive circumstances with Lackey having achieved it in Game Seven as a rookie and Beckett pitching on short rest. Lackey has been awful at
INDIANS/YANKEES: Too much has been made of the Yankees’ domination of the Tribe in the regular season, when, due to a fluke of the schedule, they did not have to face C.C. Sabathia once. The Indians have the widest edge in starting pitching of any of the eight Division Series teams, as the dual aces of Sabathia and Fausto Carmona blow away anyone the Yanks have at this stage of their careers. Unfortunately for the Indians, they lost the American League #1 seed to
PHILLIES/ROCKIES: These are the poster children for hot teams going into the postseason, with
DIAMONDBACKS/CUBS: As has been widely chronicled, Bob Melvin should win Manager of the Century for the job that he has done in shepherding the BabyBacks to the playoffs. Bursting with awesome young talent, Arizona could legitimately become the best team in the National League in a year or two, but they have without question overachieved en route to the National League #1 seed for the demonstrable reason that their young core is simply not productive enough yet. With one legitimate superstar in the lineup (Eric Byrnes), the defending Cy Young award winner (Brandon Webb) and an admittedly great bullpen, the D-Backs have thrived by flying under the radar – but the harsh glare of October doesn’t allow for this method of success to continue. The Cubs survived a tough start with good-not-great starting and relief pitching and timely hitting that disguised a disappointing power output. For
Projections for the next rounds of playoffs: American League Championship Series (Red Sox over Indians in 6), National League Championship Series (Phillies over Cubs in 6), World Series (Red Sox over Phillies in 5).
By Rick Morris
When the Major League Baseball playoffs begin tomorrow, the stakes will be even higher than many analysts have indicated. At stake is more than the 2007 World Series Championship – the designation of “Team of the Decade” may be in the balance as well.
Consider the following: no team has accrued more than one World Series title this decade. Of the teams who have been to the mountaintop, the Red Sox, Yankees, Angels and Diamondbacks are in position to gain a second grand prize (forgetting for a moment that there is no continuity whatsoever between the 2001 D-Backs and this squad – we’re speaking of franchises as a whole). The Yankees, with two additional pennants and one excruciating near-miss of a pennant in 2004, would, for all of their disappointments in recent years, actually be the leaders in the “Team of the Decade” chase so far. This is similar to the situation that
With only two more seasons remaining this decade, a team winning its second World Series of the Oughts could stake a strong claim to going down as the best franchise of the era – especially if it is the Yankees and can pair the aforementioned two pennants with two world titles as part of their case. Not every decade has produced a dynasty like the Fifties Yankees, Seventies As or Nineties Yankees. Sometimes the leading team asserts itself in a more subtle manner, such as the Eighties Dodgers, and that’s probably the main reason that this intriguing subplot to the postseason has flown completely beneath the national radar. But if you are a fan of any of the four teams with a chance for your second title in the last few years, you should be aware of just how much is at stake in the eyes of history.
Isiah is guilty! Surprise!!!
Fittingly, though, he escapes personal accountability yet again as has been the case ever since he retired from the Pistons -- MSG is left holding the bag for 11.6 mil and they're not going to take it out of his hide. That money could sure buy you a pretty thorough personnel screening service, but since when has the Garden been interested in that?
Oh, and nice move by the NBA to keep this news both off of the front page and "news" page of their website. What a gutless move by the Association to try the "hear no evil, see no evil" routine as if we all lived in Cold War-era Eastern Europe and they could keep the news from us if they don't mention it. But the Knickerbockers have been league favorites dating back to the frozen envelope and before, so this is predictable but still sad.
Tuesday, October 2, 2007
X-Pittsburgh 106 points
Y-New York Rangers 102 points
Y-Philadelphia 98 points
Y-New Jersey 94 points
New York Islanders 80 points
Y-Buffalo 92 points
Toronto 90 points
Montreal 84 points
Boston 80 points
X-Carolina 96 points
Y-Tampa Bay 94 points
Florida 92 points
Atlanta 90 points
Washington 80 points
X-Detroit 108 points
Nashville 87 points
St. Louis 87 points
Columbus 76 points
Chicago 72 points
X-Vancouver 102 points
Y-Minnesota 100 points
Y-Colorado 100 points
Y-Calgary 94 points
Edmonton 82 points
X-Anaheim 106 points
Y-San Jose 98 points
Y-Dallas 98 points
Los Angeles 82 points
Phoenix 71 points
Pittsburgh over Buffalo in 6
Ottawa over New Jersey in 5
Carolina over Tampa Bay in 6
New York Rangers over Philadelphia in 7
Detroit over Calgary in 6
Anaheim over Dallas in 5
Vancouver over San Jose in 6
Colorado over Minnesota in 6
Pittsburgh over New York Rangers in 7
Carolina over Ottawa in 6
Detroit over Colorado in 6
Anaheim over Vancouver in 6
Carolina over Pittsburgh in 6
Anaheim over Detroit in 6
STANLEY CUP FINALS
Anaheim over Carolina in 6
Lady Byng: Joe Sakic
Art Ross: Sidney Crosby
Masterton: Joe Sakic
Calder: Nicklas Backstrom
Conn Smythe: J-S Giguere
Selke: Daniel Alfredsson
Hart: Sidney Crosby
Jack Adams: Peter Laviolette
Norris: Nicklas Lidstrom
King Clancy: Mats Sundin
Pearson: Sidney Crosby
Richard: Alexander Ovechkin
Vezina: J-S Giguere
Jennings: Dominik Hasek
Previously, I had regarded Game Seven of the 1991 World Series as the most exciting baseball game I had ever witnessed. But the twists and turns in tonight's National League wild card play-in game surpassed even the drama in the Metrodome on that wild October evening.
And no, San Diego, Matt Holliday did not touch home plate. I'd be lying if I said I was that worked up about it, though, since he's a truly great player and didn't deserve to be remembered as a goat for his miscue in the outfield and since the Rockies would surely have advanced in the winning run anyway that inning.
The luckiest guys in baseball tonight? Clint Hurdle, whose overmanaging with the asinine premature defensive substitutions could have cost his team dearly -- and Charlie Manuel, whose Phillies get to face a thrilled but drained Rockies team Wednesday afternoon.
We at FDH have changed and improved the format of our Ultimate Links Page. Sections of links are now organized by overall categories and the look and functionality is much improved. Check it out here.
Many but not all of the links on the page are from the world of sports. A great many of them are useful whether or not you are a sports fan. The page is certainly the most useful on the Internet and an ideal home page -- that is how I personally utilize it.
The newest of our 335 links on the page is for the greatest dog-training unit in the world, Canine Case Squad. You can avail yourselves of their services here.