Archive for January, 2014

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This off-season included some massive shake-ups in the Majors so far, including big free agents, some trades, and injury news regarding those lost last season. But what prediction post is complete without some bold guesses? Here are some of mine.

The Yankees will miss the playoffs: I’m well aware of all the money the Yankees spent this winter, with numbers estimating close to half a billion dollars in total contracts. But last I checked, money isn’t the immediate solution for problems this day and age. The Yankees spent a good chunk of money on a new-looked outfield, including Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran, more money on a new catcher, Brian McCann, and a Japanese import pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, all while watching as Alex Rodriguez got suspended for the entirety of the season. All those are good things, but here come the not so good. The entire infield is full of question marks. Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira are both coming off season-long injuries, with latest reports that Teixeira won’t even be at 100% this whole year. Patch-up replacements Kelly Johnson and Brian Roberts aren’t strangers to the DL either. Along with that, the back end of the rotation as well as the bullpen are not as reliable as the Yankees would like. Also, their farm system is nearly non-existent. Money can’t solve those problems to the tune of playoffs this time around.

The Royals will contend for a wild card: For the first time in a while, the Kansas City Royals had a good season. 86-76 is a tremendous mark, for a team that’s been perpetually rebuilding since George Brett retired. But, now, they have one of the better up-and-coming cores of players including the likes of Alex Gordon, James Shields, and Eric Hosmer. The team had a fun vibe last year, celebrating with barbecue sauce and a light-up deer in the clubhouse. Their rotation took a hit, when Ervin Santana told them he won’t be returning, but still hasn’t found a new home, but that won’t deter them. They made a few smaller moves, picking up Nori Aoki, Jason Vargas, and Omar Infante, to go along with most of their club last year. Look for them to be that fun-loving team people can’t help but root for, because they are always underdogs. They may be a year or two away with the same group, but they are certainly on the rise.

The Nationals will make a title run: I’ve been behind this notion for a couple of years, but this year seems like the window is wide open for them. The deepest rotation in baseball got deeper with the acquisition of Doug Fister from Detroit, to go along with phenom Stephen Strasburg, reliable Gio Gonzalez, and up-start Jordan Zimmermann. Young guns Bryce Harper and Anthony Rendon are another year older and experienced, and will begin to really tear up the NL East with their youth along side veterans like Ryan Zimmerman, Jayson Werth, and Adam LaRoche. The bullpen is also solid, with Rafael Soriano, Tyler Clippard, and Craig Stammen. There isn’t really a weak spot on this team, and they are among the most complete teams in baseball. Expect big things from DC this season.

The Reds will miss the playoffs: This one’s tough, mainly because the group that they have has the look of a playoff team. But an off-season loaded with questions has me questioning their playoff possibility. The departure of Shin-Soo Choo is a big one, leaving a massive hole in centerfield, as well as in the lineup. The Reds are looking for help in speedster Billy Hamilton, but as a rookie, he will have his mistakes. Another question that will hover over this team is at second base, Brandon Phillips. The question isn’t how he’ll play, but how long he’ll play in Cincinnati. Questions rose all over the winter about whether he would be traded, with the Yankees seemingly as the top destination. If the Reds struggle, the calls to trade Phillips will get louder, which is bad news for the Reds, likely triggering an impulsive move. The team also is in limbo about what to do with Aroldis Chapman, the fire-throwing closer, whether to keep him or put him in the rotation. Last time a team had that question, they were following the Joba rules. If the Reds don’t keep pace with the Cardinals and Pirates, expect them to be on the outside looking in come September.

The Mariners will miss the playoffs: Last year, I wouldn’t call this bold. This year, they decided to dust off their wallets and spend some money, bringing in Robinson Cano, Corey Hart, and Logan Morrison. Despite having a great 1-2 punch in the rotation, with Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma, the rest of the rotation is filled with younger guys with little to no experience on a major league mound. Also, the lineup has exactly one name in it that would scare people, and that’s Cano. With a team that was just recently assembled, it’s hard to judge. Look at last year’s Blue Jays. They scored the big off-season move, trading for the Miami Marlins, and finished well behind the other 4 teams in the AL East. The Mariners are likely destined for a similar performance in the West, with the Rangers, A’s, and probably the Angels still ahead of them in terms of talent and veteran know-how. They showed some life by spending money, but they are still a year or two away from making noise again.

As the final pin dropped in the NFL coaching carousel, its time to make early predictions for how those hires will work out.

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Best Head Coach Hire-Mike Pettine The former Buffalo Bills and New York Jets defensive coordinator knows a thing or to about molding and mentoring players. With an impressive resume including Darelle Revis and Mario Williams, Pettine is the perfect coach to come in and turn the Browns around. With Joe Haden, Josh Gordon, Barkevious Mingo, and a brand new quarterback, it may finally be time for Cleveland to return to the playoffs.

Best Coordinator Hire-Norv Turner Not enough credit was given to the former Chargers head coach for his job last year. With the aforementioned Browns, Turner turned Jason Campbell into a somewhat decent quarterback. Now give him Adrian Peterson, Cordarelle Patterson, and a half decent quarterback, and the Minnesota Vikings may be back in the playoffs pretty quickly.

Worst Head Coach Hire- Jim Caldwell We learned two things when Peyton Manning missed the entire 2011-2012 season. The Colts led Jim Caldwell went 2-14 without Manning, landing the number one overall pick in the draft. Caldwell was immediately fired and replaced by Chuck Pagano. Despite having Reggie Wayne, Pierre Garcon, and Joseph Addai, the Colts had the 28th ranked offense in the league. Furthermore, as the Ravens offensive coordinator last year, the reigning super Bowl champions struggled mightily. Despite talent, the Lions will struggle with Caldwell leading this team.

What hire did we forget? Which hire are we wrong about? Let us know  in the comments!

The 22nd Winter Games is scheduled to start on Friday, February 7th, in Sochi, Russia. There is always excitement when it comes to the Olympic games, and the closer we get to the Games, the more you’ll see written about it.

Comedian Daniel Tosh mentioned how he hates the Winter Games because it’s a contest of “which country has more rich white kids”, and “who slides down a hill faster”. We all know how exciting the hockey games get, but Tosh has a decent point. Let’s take a look at why I’ll only really care to watch the hockey games.

Biathalon, Cross Country Skiing, Nordic Combined: These are in direct comparison with, say, the marathon. They involve people skiing (with variations on what exactly the contest is) very slowly and deliberately for long, long periods of time. So long, that they switch to other events, and return to one of these, and the race will not have changed. At all. The same dude is miles ahead of everyone, and it’s time to switch to another channel in hope something else is on.

Alpine Skiing, Ski Jumping, Speed Skating: These are actually pretty cool to watch, but it’s the same stuff over and over. One guy skis down the hill and is slightly faster than the guy before him. Another guy skates in a circle at high speeds slightly faster than another guy. Another guy flies farther than the previous one. British TV show Top Gear sent a rocket-powered Mini down a ski jump ramp, and it was awesome. But again, the actual event gets quite repetitive, much like swimming, or any various track/field competitions in the summer.

Bobsleigh, Luge, Skeleton: Who slides perfectly still down an icy tube faster? Granted it’s hard to do, it’s not very exciting, unless you hear the Jamaicans yell out “Feel the rhythm, feel the rhyme, get on up, it’s bobsled time! Cooooool runnings!”. Let’s be honest, NBC’s bobsled ratings will spike when the Jamaican bobsled team is ready to slide down the slope. The break-neck pace they slide at is wicked, but like the previous category, it gets repetitive.

Figure Skating: Wake me up when someone pulls off an Iron Lotus. Until then, I would rather not watch men in tights, unless it’s Robin Hood.

Curling: Mildly entertaining, because it’s silly to watch people vigorously sweeping ice with a broom. Unless the Norwegians are on, because of their pants. Which are way awesome and I want one.

Freestyle Skiing, Snowboarding: Have you seen the Winter X-Games? Good, because this is the exact same thing, but on a bigger stage with more prestige. It’s cool to see someone doing crazy flips and twists and sometimes fall on their bums. But it’s the same darn thing as the X-Games, which cuts into your valuable ESPN time.

Ice Hockey: It’s become the most anticipated event at the Olympics. For the 2010 Gold Medal game in Vancouver, 80% of Canada reportedly tuned in, and the other 20% was likely at their friend’s houses watching the game. At every hockey game you’ve watched on TV this season, they are talking about who’s gonna make the team. It’s the only sport on this list that really involved political views and entire countries stopped to celebrate, wherever they were. It’s where we believe in miracles.

I know that people still care about the other sports, and I’m cool with that. But let’s be honest here, the only games you will make time to tune in to, will be hockey.

Aroldis.Chapman

 

Aroldis Chapman made his name by doing something better than any man in baseball history, and that would be throwing fastballs. I mean FASTballs. There were a couple of instances where the lanky lefty was clocked at 105 mph. You did not read that wrong. Since his entry into Major League Baseball with the Cincinnati Reds in 2010, he’s had 77 saves (38 each of the last 2 seasons), and struck out 324 hitters in just 198.2 innings. Doing the math, that’s alot. But there has been talk of changing his role with the team, and removing him from the bullpen, where he’s dominated hitters with mind-blowing velocity, and put him in the starting rotation.

The thought process at first glance is simple. He’s good one inning at a time, let’s give him 5-7 innings every 5 days, and see if he can replicate those outstanding numbers. He was originally thought to be a starter when he signed with the Reds, and has been in the bullpen since.

But it’s not that simple. Relief pitchers give 100% of their night’s effort into that one inning they pitch. That is what allows the late inning guys to pump their fastballs at the high 90’s, to maybe breaking triple digits. Starting pitchers, on the other hand, have to divide that 100% of energy into every inning they pitch, and conserve their arm to be able to pitch later into games.

Joba Chamberlain, for example, came on the scene in 2008, and was dominating hitters with a 98 mph fastball, and a complimentary slider that just disappeared (much like Chapman’s skill set, but with less 100 mph-ness). The Yankees moved him to the rotation, and his velocity slipped to the low 90’s, and his effectiveness exponentially fell.

Compare this to Chapman. Chapman likely will have to tone his fastball down from averaging 98 mph roughly, to possibly low-mid 90’s. That’s a huge difference. His mechanics, as explained by Sports Science’s John Brenkus, can’t possibly be repeated 100+ times a night.

Tim Lincecum has similar mechanics, and his effectiveness died down over the last couple of years, as his body caught up to him. So too with Chapman, that motion is extremely taxing on the body. As simple as he makes it look, a human arm isn’t meant to throw a baseball 100+ mph. The tremendous strain it causes on his arm and shoulder would cause his arm to collapse if he tries overthrowing his fastball too many times.

Also, part of the reason Chapman is so effective, is that at that velocity, his control doesn’t need to be pin-point. Batters have less time to see where the ball is going, and will wildly hack at it, trying to hit it. If Chapman’s fastball is more pedestrian, say at 94 mph on average, hitters have more of a chance to decide not to hit it, and can pick and choose rather than guess on the fastball. That would increase his walks, hits, and home runs, and decrease his strikeouts.

While Chapman is in the bullpen, his quasi-legendary velocity is unleashed, reaching 100 mph on average. But if he’s installed in Cincinnati’s rotation, his effectiveness will hit a sharp decrease. The transition the opposite way has shown success, but it’s incredibly rare to find a reliever make his way to being a number one starter overnight. I’m sure he’d be effective, but I doubt it would work in the Reds’ benefit. Keeping him in the bullpen optimizes his talents, and allows him to use his full potential every outing.

Melos Wild Weekend

Posted: January 28, 2014 in Uncategorized

Melos Wild Weekend

New Radio Show on WQMC Radio. 5-6 pm est everyday. tinyurl.com/qcradio

Should the Sabres trade Ryan Miller?

Posted: January 28, 2014 in NHL
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The Buffalo Sabres easily have the worst record in the NHL. With a record of 14-30-7, they are 5 behind Edmonton for last in the league. They are 14 behind Florida, who’s the second to worst in the East. They seem like they are on their way to the top of the draft lottery, given Edmonton doesn’t win it again.

The Sabres have a lingering question looming over their head, though. Franchise goalie Ryan Miller has an expiring contract, set to become an unrestricted free agent after this season concludes. Obviously, with a talent level that Miller possesses, the Sabres would like to keep him. He’s 33 years old, and still has plenty of service left in the tank. But, do the Sabres chance it and keep him so that they can extend him exclusively? Or do they jump ship and continue planning for the future.

One case to be made for them keeping Miller, is that he’s the only thing keeping this team from being historically bad. His record is 13-20-3, with a GAA of 2.63 and a save percentage of .926. His backup, Jhonas Enroth, is 1-10-4 (that’s correct), with a GAA of 2.67 and .910 save percentage. The Sabres play much better for Miller, clearly indicated by the similar numbers between the tandem. If they played for Enroth for a season of 82 games, at the pace he’s played, they would finish with approximately 7 wins. How bad is that historically? The worst team ever, the 1974-75 Capitals had 8 wins. The Sabres really need Miller in net.

Another reason, is that Miller has had sustained success with this franchise. Between lockouts, from 2005-2012, he’s had at least 30 wins every season, leading the team to the playoffs 4 times, and as far as the Eastern Conference Finals twice. They know that if they can put a team in front of him, that can score with regularity, then they can contend for a playoff spot. Clearly that’s become the main issue for Buffalo, having just 97 goals, 22 less than the next team up, Calgary.

However, it may take trading Miller to get some offense. While they do have many expiring contracts, many of those players are key components to the offense they already have, like Matt Moulson and Steve Ott. Those players have much more value on the Sabres roster than they do on the trade market, because without them, the offense is near non-existent. Trading Miller, who would have extremely high pay-back value, could bring in some of that missing offense. Last time they traded offense, they got back Moulson and two picks, and it’s safe to say it’s been working out better for the other team, who now has Thomas Vanek and is on the rise.

Also, it would take a massive contract to keep Miller in Buffalo at this point. His previous contract was 5 years and just over $31M. With his value to the team, he could garner a contract at near Lundqvist value, probably without the same length. With as valuable an asset as Miller is, he would eat up a ton of the cap space that Buffalo might need to use on offensive talent.

From Miller’s point of view, he might want to spend the rest of his career with a team that has a chance to win, as opposed to a team that will be rebuilding for the remainder of Miller’s good years. With his impending free agency, he will be one of the top targets on the market for teams in need of goaltending help. There is the loyalty factor, that he spent his whole career so far with Buffalo, but that hasn’t stopped players from testing free agency, and then ditching their old squad to play somewhere closer to their hometown, or to play for more money, or both.

Odds are, Miller will test free agency this off-season, trade or not. There is a no-trade clause in play, so Miller can theoretically pick and choose. But he will be a high priced rental for the remainder of the season, and if Buffalo is wise, they take the trade before risking losing him for nothing. They are rebuilding now, so it makes sense to add some high value prospects while they are at it, and hope that they can find another franchise goalie somewhere along the long road of rebuilding.

Radio Shows Back!!

Posted: January 27, 2014 in Uncategorized

WERE BACK! On from 5-6 today, talking Knicks, Nets, Pro Bowl, Hockey, and more!
Tinyurl.com/qcradio
718-997-3986 if you’d like to call in

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This past week, we experienced 2 more outdoor hockey games, including one with a relatively newer twist; 60+ degree weather. There have been some complaints that the NHL is going wild with these outdoor games, and it’s watering down the originality and special feel that the game brings. But from what we’ve seen out of New York and Los Angeles, it seems like each event keeps bringing something more to the table, and keeps filling stadium after stadium. Maybe it’s the novelty of watching an NHL regular season game outdoors, maybe not. But one thing we do know, is that this style of event is unique to the sports world. Is it possible for the other 3 major leagues to match this kind of event? Let’s dive in.

The NFL just had their annual Pro-Bowl at Aloha Stadium, in Honolulu, Hawaii. This year, they added a new wrinkle (originally from the NHL), a fantasy draft instead of AFC/NFC format. The game was neat, and fun to watch with the new rule changes they implemented. But it didn’t bring a regular season/playoff feel to the game, because it was merely an exhibition match. Also, with the dimensions of a football field and stadium, it’s tough to take an NFL anywhere that’s not an NFL regulation size stadium. The games are stuck, and too few to really make a big impact. They do have the International Series, where they visit Canada and England, but every sport does that at one point or another. It’s very hard for the NFL to have a novelty regular season game, and I don’t see them coming up with something new and ingenious anytime soon.

The NBA is the closest league to the NHL, so similar events are always compared from one to the other. In 2010, played the All-Star game in Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, in an effort to break the attendance record for a pro basketball game. Like the NHL, they looked to a football stadium for something new and cool. It worked, as the game was attended by  108,713 fans. But with the nature of basketball, it’s nearly impossible to host an outdoor game, for a number of reasons. Like the NHL, the games are played indoors exclusively, and the regular season is in the winter months. The differences are what set the NBA apart for potential outdoor games. The NBA would require a warmer climate to host the game, or an indoor stadium, as it’s fairly obvious the players wouldn’t be able to play in colder conditions. That being said, it would knock out anything north of, say Atlanta or Texas. The NHL solved their problem with the inverse, playing in warm and cold temperatures alike. It wouldn’t work for the NBA, and there really isn’t anywhere else for them to try something similar.

Major League Baseball is far and away the last sport to be able to pull off something like the Winter Classic. With 162 regular season games, you would think that a team would instantly give up a home game for something like this. But there’s a massive problem or two with a novelty event in baseball. First, you need an MLB ballpark to play baseball. Football stadiums have not been able to fit an MLB game in with even dimensions (they tried it in the L.A. Coliseum, and the left field foul pole was 200 feet from home plate). Second, with the season broken down into series, it would be tough for 2 teams to meet for 2-4 games in some random location that’s ill suited for baseball, just to try and fill a stadium and make some money. It just couldn’t and wouldn’t work, especially with teams having troubles filling their ballpark on any ordinary night.

The NHL has dug up a gold mine with this concept of bringing the NHL product outdoors. They are capitalizing on it, and milking every penny out of it that they can, and rightfully so. The best part, is that this kind of cash cow is only available to the NHL, and wouldn’t fly in any other sport, because it can’t. If it fills the seats, and brings in revenue that other sports can’t reach, why not keep going to the well?

Sure, there are ideas that people can come up with. I would love for you to prove me wrong. But until then, I will hold by my statement, that novelty games belong to hockey.

Three Targets For The Knicks

Posted: January 27, 2014 in Uncategorized

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New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony is scorching hot lately. After scoring a franchise record 62 points against the Charlotte Bobcats, Anthony put up another 35 points in a win against the Los Angeles Lakers.

With his days until free agency numbered, the Knicks are going to need to do something truly impressive to get Melo to come back. Unfortunately, bringing in a star player like Rajon Rondo is out of the question. This is due to the fact that the Knicks have no draft picks or heavily enticing trade pieces (other than Melo). Therefore, the Knicks will need to pull of an impressive second half in order to sway their star to stay.

With that being said, here are three potential moves the Knicks can make in order to start that run.

 

Sign Richard Hamilton- To be a great team you need to have discipline. It is obvious that your coach needs to possess that trait, but having a player disciplinarian is a great asset to own. That’s where Rip Hamilton comes in. The NBA champion knows what it means to win and can instill that feeling into others. Furthermore, Hamilton can be a mentor/babysitter to J.R. Smith. As seen with Juwan Howard in Miami, a player doesn’t need to have significant minutes to be a guide for a team. Bringing Hamilton in for that role is imperative to righting this ship.

 

Sign Seth Curry- It’s worth a shot. The undrafted rookie has generations of NBA blood in him. His father, Dell Curry, played 16 year in the league, averaging a modest 12 points a game as a sixth man. More importantly, his brother, Stephen Curry is going insane right now in the Golden State. In his senior year at Duke, Seth Curry averaged an impressive 17.5 points per game. For pretty much pennies, the Knicks may be able to find lightning in a bottle with Curry.

 

Trade for Jeremy Lin- Despite a good game against the Lakers, current Knicks starting point guard, Raymond Felton, has been an embarrassment. The former Tar Heel has looked slow, overweight, and totally inept on defense. Lin has showed that he cannot only handle New York, but shine. With Patrick Beverly back and Aaron Brooks on the bench, Lin has become expendable in Houston. With all that being said, this deal would not come cheap. A trade that would work would be sending center Tyson Chandler and either guard Iman Shumpert or Tim Hardaway Jr.to Houston for Lin and center Omer Asik. While people will be very reluctant and off put by this deal, it makes sense. Asik will be a slight downgrade from Chandler defensively, but it will be worth it overall if they can acquire a court leader and facilitator like Lin.

 

These are three moves that have the potential to return the Knicks to the top of the East and more importantly, keep Carmelo. What do you guys think? Can these moves help the Knicks or are they worthless moves? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

 

 

In the January 20th issue of Sports Illustrated, writer Michael Rosenberg wrote a piece describing a brief recap of Alex Rodriguez’s career beyond baseball, as told on December 10, 2018. For those of you who may have glossed over it, here’s the article:

OSLO, Norway, Dec. 10, 2018—Baseball star Alex Rodriguez announced today that he would “humbly accept” the Nobel Peace Prize that nobody has offered him. Rodriguez said he deserved “the trophy, or cup, whatever it is,” because he had “ended the war” with Major League Baseball executives who suspended him five years ago for using performance-enhancing drugs.

“My dispute with them was overblown and foolish, and I apologize,” Rodriguez said, “on their behalf, as well as mine.”

When told that MLB executives had not apologized but had in fact released a statement calling him “the vermin that feeds on skunk poop at the bottom of a rat-infested pond of nuclear waste,” Rodriguez said, “I’m just glad we have all moved on.”

The press conference was televised in the United States on the A-Rod Network, a channel he has called “excessive,” even though he owns it. The New York Post reported that every time a viewer turns on the A-Rod Network, Rodriguez’s phone buzzes. It must buzz a lot, because A-Rod has remained a source of endless fascination—and not just to himself.

His career took off when it ended, in January 2014. That is when arbitrator Fredric Horowitz reduced his suspension from 211 games to 162. Rodriguez said then, “No player should have to go through what I have been dealing with, and I am exhausting all options to ensure not only that I get justice, but that players’ contracts and rights are protected.”

Rodriguez has tried to protect the rights of his fellow players by suing MLB, former commissioner Bud Selig, the New York Yankees, Horowitz, the Yankees’ team doctor, a New York City hospital, the players’ association, six former teammates, two nurses who did not find him attractive, and a court stenographer. In one famous mix-up Rodriguez accidentally sued himself. When that suit was dismissed, Rodriguez declared victory.

A-Rod has fought a p.r. battle on several fronts. When fellow Yankee Derek Jeter retired in 2015, Rodriguez frantically scrambled from one midtown Manhattan hotel to another, trying to locate the press conference. He found it, burst in, put his arm around a startled Jeter and told the media, “Jetes is the best teammate I ever had, and I look forward to our numbers being retired together.” The Yankees called the police.

The next year Rodriguez’s number 13 did indeed appear in Monument Park at Yankee Stadium, along with a plaque saluting Rodriguez as “the most popular Yankee of his era.” The Yankees were on a road trip at the time.

In 2016, Rodriguez endorsed both major presidential candidates, saying he wanted to bring people together. He released a cologne called Justice, a deodorant spray called Fairness and a scented bathroom candle called Nothing Happened Here. He appeared on the pro-wrestling circuit as the Innocent Man, saying he did it because he “enjoyed the competition.”

In 2017, Rodriguez said he would pay funeral expenses for Selig, who, of course, is still alive and well.

Rodriguez also built a church in his hometown of Miami, though religious scholars have wondered why the statue hanging from the church’s 47-foot-tall crucifix is wearing a Yankees jersey. In Oslo, Rodriguez was asked what the inside of the church looks like. He paused, then said, “I close my eyes when I pray.”

Rodriguez then personally distributed chocolate hazelnut coins with a peace sign on one side and his face on the other.

Rodriguez finished by vowing to attend Yankees’ spring training in Tampa, where he hopes to resume his playing career. He said he is “in tip-top shape” and is “looking forward to leading the young guys again,” even if it means violating the Yankees’ restraining orders against him.

“This is a great day for America and for the game we all love,” Rodriguez said. “I’m so happy this farce is over.”

I was laughing most of the article, obviously meant to be facetious, but it might open up a little more of how ridiculous this case has gotten. A-Rod had actually sued everyone in baseball, both the league and the players association. There was outcry from several anonymous players to kick him out of the union, but to no avail.

One way or another, this article shows us that this story is all a wild goose chase, and we should stop taking things so seriously. The arbitrator levied the punishment. Now it’s time to argue about how the Yankees are spending too much money again.