This past Saturday, I didn’t go online until around 11:30pm for the daily dose of local sports coverage. I spent most of my day running errands and doing odd jobs around the house while watching the NFL playoff games. The one day I decide to take off from local sports coverage, and all kinds of shit goes down. Here’s my review of what happened:
The Falcons Hire A New GM
I’m not sure what to think about this guy. I know, I know. In sports these days, everyone is supposed to form an opinion on something the second it happens, and fight for that opinion like it’s the one thing you know for certain. I don’t necessarily believe in that.
Anyway, I can see one of two things happening, with absolutely no in between (tongue in cheek). Either this guy is going to be a Scott Pioli clone that will give us multiple Pro Bowlers in the 3rd-7th rounds, or he’s going to be a blithering idiot because the Falcons hired him just because he worked for the Patriots. Word is they tried to hire Tony Franklin because he used to kick for the Pats back in the ’80s, but he was busy walking around the Earth with one shoe on (why don’t kickers kick barefooted anymore???)
Who knows? One thing I do know is that he can’t do much worse than Rich McKay. Granted it’s revisionist history, but McKay’s “genius” at Tampa Bay now looks more like it might have been Tim Ruskell’s genius with McKay as the figurehead. Either way, McKay has been mailing it in the last few years. The local sports talk guys love him because he’ll come on the radio and talk to them. Big fucking deal. So will I. Does that mean I should be making personnel decisions for the Falcons?
There is a ton of work to be done. We have a crappy offensive line that was built for the Alex Gibbs run scheme (which consists of signing 240 lb offensive tackles, if that tells you anything). We have Warrick Dunn, who is 4-8 and weighs 125 lbs. He’s a gymnast, for christ’s sake. We have Jerious Norwood, who may or may not be durable enough to make it through a season. At quarterback, we have…uh, we have…Billy Joe Tolliver? No. That was 1995. Billy Jack Haskins? Um, no, I think that was ’93. Turk Schonert? No, that was the scab quarterback in ’87. That guy that sold insurance last year…Kurt Warner? No, Chris Redman. That’s it. Our defense isn’t half bad, but does consist of Keith Brooking, who’s 57 years old, and DeAngelo Hall, who is undoubtedly gone this offseason. At least Dimitroff has a fresh canvas. Yeah…that sounds optimistic–fresh canvas.
Oh, and we need a head coach. Jesus. I’m getting sick.
The Braves Made a Trade
Out of all of my sports teams, I’m most passionate about the Braves. So while a trade for a journeyman centerfielder may not mean much to you, it’s quite newsworthy to me. I’m not really sure what to think about this one either (although I’m about to tell you exactly what I think). Mark Kotsay for Joey Devine. I picture Frank Wren and Billy Beane having the following conversation:
FW: Billy! It’s Frank Wren–what’s shakin’? How’s that Moneyball book going (because for some reason, everyone thinks Billy Beane wrote it)?
BB: Hi Frank, it’s going well. What’s up?
FW: Billy, I’m gonna get right to it. How about I give you my messed up shit for your messed up shit?
BB: Deal! But how will I transport the dead whore in my trunk to Atlanta?
FW: Uh, I meant Devine for Kotsay.
BB: Oh, uh, I know! I totally knew you were kidding…yes, yes, let’s do it. The players, not the whore. I already did her.
Joey Devine has shown up on the injury report as “Devine (Psyche)” since giving up two grand slams to the first two guys he faced in the bigs, and then giving up the game winning home run in that crazy ass 17 inning playoff game against the Astros in 2005. You know, the one where I started eating my arm by the 15th inning, and shat myself four times. In his defense, he was brought up wayyyyy too early, but it was a year when our bullpen completely fell apart–it was out of necessity. And in the playoff game, he had pitched very well for at least a full inning before that, and we had to keep him out there because we had no pitchers left.
Mark Kotsay is one of the most hated players in Major League history.
(Quick aside: I firmly believe this, after 8 years of telling myself such. My roommate in college had some baseball game on Playstation, or Dreamcast, or some video game system…I don’t know. Anyway, I always was the Braves, and he would pick the Marlins. The Marlins sucked in this particular year (after they blew up the ’97 World Series team). My roommate would always do this stupid reverse psychology stuff every time Mark Kotsay would come up to bat (as if Kotsay could hear him). He’d say “Mark Kotsay? This guy sucks. I’ve never even heard of him. I can’t believe I’m even letting him hit.” Invariably, Kotsay would hit a home run. Fast forward 2 days to me in Best Buy purchasing my roommate a new Playstation controller, because the old one met it’s death after one too many Kotsay home runs.
But seriously, Kotsay’s back is in horrible shape. Anyone that has suffered back pain before can imagine how difficult it would be to attempt to perform as an everyday baseball player. That’s the hill Kotsay has to climb. Of course, Wren got Oakland to eat around $6mill of Kotsay’s salary for 2008 (how do we always do that? I love it). And Kotsay could serve as the perfect stopgap for Jordan Schaefer, the CF prospect/phenom that should be ready by 2009, since Kotsay’s contract expires after this year. He just needs to be on the field to actually contribute, which should be the difficult part. We’ll see. I personally thought we were fine without him, using the speedy Josh Anderson until Schaefer was ready. Oh well. Given that we’re only paying about $2mill for him, I’m happy with the deal. I think Devine is a classic “change of scenery” guy.
One last quick note: as a former employee of the Braves front office, I have been a part of many Fanfests (every team has one–usually around this time of year, when players sign autographs, there are interactive games, etc.). I hated these things. Any combination of the following will give you the gist of the event:
1. Incessant complaining from fans in the days leading up to the event, because the team will not release the times for players signing autographs. These dumbass fans don’t realize that if the fact that Chipper Jones is signing at 12:30 is publicized, roughly 59,000 people will get in line and women and small children (and smaller, girl-like men) will be trampled.
2. Once they’re getting their autograph from the player, every fan will tell every player how he’s their favorite, and they have followed his career for a long time. Every fan will try to take a picture with the player, even though photos are not allowed (because they slow the already ridiculously long line to a crawl–although these fans will be the same ones that complain because the lines are moving too slow. I hate everyone. Did I mention this?).
3. The “One Autograph Per Fan, Please” rule will be completely ignored, as every fan will tell the player of some sob story about their bed-ridden great grandmother that never misses a Braves game and would love to also have an autograph. Seriously–if everyone that said this was telling the truth, the entire southeastern United States would be one gigantic nursing home.
Geez, that sounded negative. Sorry.