by John Furgele
This is the best weekend of the NFL season—Championship Weekend. Two conferences, two championship games, two champions crowned. For the record, I think Pittsburgh, at home, will win the AFC Championship Game and Philadelphia, on the road will be victorious in the NFC Championship Game.
Talk all you want about the Celtics, Lakers, Spurs, and Cavaliers, but the NBA regular season product is still not very good. When those four are mentioned, I will counter with the Thunder, Wizards, Grizzlies, and Clippers. These bad teams merely serve as fodder for the good ones. Why the NBA isn’t more like the NFL is puzzling. Like the NFL, the NBA has a salary cap and one would think that there would be more parity, but that is far from the case.
Speaking of salary caps, there are rumblings by some Major League Baseball owners that the national pastime needs one, to control the Yankees from spending millions upon millions. The players might actually accept one if there was a FLOOR and a CEILING, in other words, a minimum and maximum. Of course, this will never happen because owners like Loria in Florida, the Royals, the Pirates would never put a floor in. Sure, they would love to have a ceiling, but if cap was ever going to come into baseball, it would have to include a floor and that would require each team to spend say $75 to $100 million on salaries. No way.
Notice how quickly the college football BCS controversy has calmed down. A week ago, the Utah attorney general was threatening legal action because the Utes were denied a championship. Now, the season is over, Florida has won all the poll championships and there is nary a word about college football, save for those who are declaring/not declaring for the NFL Draft. And, that’s why there won’t be a national playoff in the near future. If you want a playoff, the media has to beat the drum 365 days per year, and they simply don’t have the energy to do it. Next December, they will be out in full force, whining again.
The Baseball writers got it right this year. Rickey Henderson, who was the first athlete in history to talk of himself in the third person was an easy choice, though, I disagree with those who say he should have been a unanimous choice. He was great, but he did compile a bit and was “only” a .279 career hitter. Jim Rice should have made it years ago. Unlike a lot of HOFers, he was not a compiler. His last full season was in 1988, when as a 35 year old batted .264 with 15 HRs and 72 RBI. He retired during the 1989 season. But, he was a dominant force from 1975-1986, and that should count more than what guys like Bert Blyleven and Tommy John did.
They may complain, but Blyleven doesn’t belong in Cooperstown. He does have 287 wins, but he also has 250 losses, a .534 winning percentage. That is not dominance. Same for John. The Hall of Fame should be for those who are dominant players. But, when guys like Bruce Sutter and Bill Mazeroski are in, once can see why the Blylevens, Johns and Dawsons are complaining.
The Hall of Fame is not needed to be called a great, or outstanding player. Dave Parker and Don Mattingly may never make it, but that doesn’t take away from their fabulous careers. Same for Blyleven, John and former Bum Gil Hodges. Many think they HOF will validate a career, but that is simply not true.
I still think the most overlooked player is former Tiger shortstop Alan Trammell. He was a better overall player than Ozzie Smith. He outbatted Smith, .285 to .262, hit more home runs (185 to 28), drove in more runs (1,003 to 793), and won four Gold Gloves. Smith did have more hits (2,460 to 2,365), but why is Smith a first ballot HOFer and Trammell gets nary a sniff?