Good morning, bloggers! I hope everyone is doing well and is ready for the holidays.
Before I get to the hot stove news, I want to mention something that made me a little angry yesterday. I received my weekly issue of Sports Illustrated, and I was excited to read their summary of the past decade in sports (which, by the way, was really great; you can check it out here). I usually read SI roughly cover to cover, skipping anything that I don’t really find interesting. Because of this habit of mine, I normally start with the letters in the front that readers from all over the country send in. There’s usually at least one ridiculously stupid bonehead to be found in here, someone who doesn’t know how to put what is fair and makes sense in front of their personal biases.
For example, take this letter from Blake Lyman in the Dec. 21, 2009 issue:
“Even NASCAR’s Jimmie Johnson could run himself into Heisman contention like Mark Ingram has if he were running behind Alabama’s offensive line.”
Mr. Lyman, Jimmie Johnson’s greatest athletic skill is driving a car. Mark Ingram is one of the best college running backs I have ever seen and not only “ran himself into contention” for it, but took home the Heisman award. The fact that he has a good offensive line bears little meaning in his skill, because Mark Ingram is actually known for breaking open field tackles after making it through the front line. I’d be so audacious as to say that Mark Ingram could run himself into Heisman contention behind an offensive line of Jimmie Johnson’s pit crew, but hey, what do I know about that NASCAR stuff.
I have many more of these ridiculous and unjustified letters, but two stuck out at me in the most recent issue, commenting on Derek Jeter’s being named Sports Illustrated’s “Sportsman of the Year”. Now, as you’ve seen, I can get heated about many sports, but baseball is the one I’m most passionate about. So when I saw these two letters questioning the decision to name Jeter “Sportsman of the Year” (which I not only agree with but was practically begging for), I got a little angry and I think many of you here on MLBlogs will agree.
Here’s the first one from Dick Kavanaugh:
“Jimmie Johnson should have been named Sportsman of the Year. He and Jeter are solid citizens and both support charitable causes, but Johnson’s winning an unprecedented fourth straight NASCAR title was the most significant sports achievement of 2009.”
Well what do you know, it’s my friend Jimmie Johnson again. I know NASCAR fans get tired of people always saying that it’s just “driving around in circles” and that “it takes no skill.” Well, I’ve heard from many a NASCAR junkie that it does in fact take skill, I’m just yet to find out what this “skill” really is. Enough hating on NASCAR, though, I’ll cut to the chase. The reason I found this letter outrageous was the fact that “Sportsman of the Year” does not consist only of victory and sports acheivement. Although Johnson seems like a very nice guy and also supports many great charitable causes, Jeter so perfectly embodies the qualities a “Sportsman of the Year” must have. Simply put in SI’s own words,
“Jeter is an anachronism if you believe that manners and humility, the pillars of sportsmanship, are losing ground in an increasingly stat-obsessed, self-absorbed sporting culture in which the simple act of making a tackle, dunking a basketball or getting a base hit calls for some burlesque act of celebration, a marking of territory for individual purpose. Jeter is the unadorned star, and not only in the literal sense in that he is free of tattoos, piercings, cussing, posses and the other clichés of the big-time-jock starter kit.”
Not only all that, but Jeter is such a nice guy that he has actually convinced a Red Sox fan like me to not only root for the Yankees on tiny occasions, but to actually support the guy when he’s facing Boston. I mean, Jeter has got to be the most respected player in all of baseball. So no, Mr. Kavanaugh, I do not agree with your argument that Jimmie Johnson, despite his amazing 4th straight NASCAR title is justified. I think Jeter deserved this award hands down.
One more letter criticizing the decision and then I’ll stop my rant. This one’s from a guy named Justin Brown:
“A member of a team that buys championships is your Sportsman? How about a guy who plays on a team with a salary cap? How about the NBA Finals MVP, Kobe Bryant?”
So many things are immature, false, and just totally unjustified about this letter that it’s not even worth commenting on. Clearly this guy just doesn’t know what he’s talking about, because last time I checked Kobe Bryant wasn’t even close to being in contention for “Sportsman of the Year.” And please, enough of the “Yankees buy championships” stuff. What are we, toddlers?! And by golly, Mr. Brown here is from Moorpark, California. Bias? I think so.
Now that I’ve fully exerted my anger, it’s time to mention the latest hot stove news. It was a big couple days for relievers, with three big names moving teams.
Several days ago Darren Oliver signed a 1 yr. contract with the Texas Rangers, the team he started his career with. Last year he went 5-1 with a 2.37 ERA for the Angels. Over the last 4 years he is 19-4 and has made the playoffs every year. These are very good stats, and certainly helped Oliver land the deal with Texas. However, not only has he been good everywhere he’s played in the past years, but he brings experience and good attitude to a decent Texas bullpen. I think this was a great move and might just be a big factor in Texas making a run for the postseason this year.
In part to make up for the loss of Oliver, the Angels signed reliever Fernando Rodney to a 2 yr. deal yesterday. Rodney brings extreme depth to a scary good Angels bullpen, and the 1-2 punch of Rodney and Brian Fuentes will be one to reckon with. Rodney saved 37 of 38 tries, and had a reasonable ERA of 4.40. Fuentes led the majors with 48 saves last year, so Rodney may be shifted to the role of setup man. Because the Angels also have Scot Shields, it will be interesting to see what LA does with their bullpen next year. Either way, it will be a good one.
Finally, the Washington Nationals signed reliever Matt Capps to a 1 yr. deal. Capps had an OK 2009 season, saving 27 of 32 tries with a 3.61 ERA. Capps has shown to be a little inefficient, but he has played well in the past few years and will be a good candidate to lead the Nationals bullpen, which finished a sorry 30th in the league last year, back onto the right track. The Nationals have had a very busy December, and they may continue to improve the bullpen. We’ll see if they’ve “Capp”ed off their busy month yet.
I’ve got to be going now, but I’ll see you soon. Happy Holidays!