Thursday Thoughts: October 22, 2009

-Alex Rodriguez is having a one-for-the-ages postseason, while Manny Ramirez and David “Big Papi” Ortiz floundered.  All three were identified as PED users this spring/summer.  Ramirez served a 50 game suspension, while Rodriguez admitted his wrongdoing and Big Papi sort of took the blame for putting illegal substances into his body, even though he may not have known that their were forbidden. 

After serving the suspension, Ramirez came back as an ordinary player, and Ortiz has spent the last two seasons coming back to earth.  As for Rodriguez, he is still in the prime of his career, but all three leave tons of unanswered questions.

Is Rodriguez still using something?  How many years was Ramirez on the stuff?  And, what’s the truth with Ortiz?  This is what’s unfair about this stuff and what will make it hard for the Baseball Hall of Fame voters.  Instead of looking at the raw numbers and big moments, the voters now have to make guesses as to which years look good and which look suspect.  Watching Ramirez and his slow bat in this year’s playoffs makes me think he’s been on PEDs for years, but how will we ever know?  He is over 35 and naturally, his bat should be slowing down.  Barry Bonds’  bat kept speeding up, even at age 40,  and we think we know what was behind that, but the questions will continue to linger.

-The emergence of the Denver Broncos and quarterback Kyle Orton is yet another reason why taking a quarterback in the first round or furthermore, the number one through five overall pick is not really necessary.  Say what you want about Orton, but the man is 28-12 as a starter, good for a 70 winning percentage.  The top QBs in college right now are Sam Bradford (Oklahoma), Colt McCoy (Texas), Tim Tebow (Florida), and Jimmy Clausen (Notre Dame), and to me, none are first round worthy, although the experts at ESPN and elsewhere say otherwise. 

Bradford plays in a gimmick offense and has been hurt all season. When you’re in the shotgun for every snap, that doesn’t give you the experience you will need to play in the Big League.  Ditto for Colt McCoy.  To me, he looks like a bigger Ty Detmer, who was a backup for most of his career.  They’re both solid quarterbacks, but I don’t see greatness when I watch them.  I see them throwing to wide open, first option receivers.   Does that translate to success in the NFL? Ask Mark Sanchez of the NY Jets.  Sanchez has the tools, but maybe making just 15 college starts is now showing up on Sundays.  At USC, Sanchez didn’t have to make lots of reads.  And, before we get on the Matt Barkley bandwagon, let’s remember that his tight end was wide open every time he looked at him, as were the other receivers.  Please, slow down.

Clausen may be the best prospect, because like him or not, he plays in Charlie Weis’ pro style offense.  Notre Dame lacks defensive players, but they do have skilled players on offense, and they run the Pro I, the offense that every NFL team runs.  That may make Clausen more suited for the NFL, but Notre Dame’s track record of producing star first round QBs is not there.  Rick Mirer was destined for greatness and Ron Powlus was supposed to win two Heismans.  Both failed to live up to expectations.  At least Mirer was a good college QB.  Oh, and what about Brady Quinn?  Everybody was miffed when he slipped to number 22 in the draft, but in reality, he should have slipped to number 42.  The best QB to come out of Notre Dame and do well in the pros was Joe Montana, and he was a 3rd round pick by the 49ers in 1979.

Tebow is the mystery man.  Like most, I don’t like his throwing motion and I also question his accuracy.  Most of his passes connect with guys that are wide open and once again, that will never happen in the NFL.  Like Bradford and McCoy, he plays in a real trumped up, gimmicky offense created by head coach Urban Meyer, the same guy who had Alex Smith run it while at Utah.  Tebow might be a tight end, an H-back, or a QB, nobody is really sure, but I don’t think he’s a going to be a 10 year starter NFL QB. 

The point is that there are guys that can be found at smaller schools and in the later rounds that can be producers like Kyle Orton is.  Everybody knows that Tom Brady was taken in the 6th round, and Shaun Hill was a decent QB at Maryland, and now starts and wins—over Alex Smith—games for the 49ers.  Heck, Buffalo Bills backup (and this week’s starter) Ryan Fitzpatrick played his college bowl at Harvard.  Baltimore’s Joe Flacco starred at Division 1-AA Delaware, so we know it can be done.  For every Peyton Manning, there are two Ryan Leaf’s, but when I hear that Bradford is slipping out of the top ten, I cringe, because he really isn’t first round worthy at all.

-Major League Soccer is winding down its 14th reagular season and unless you are web savvy you would never know.  Of the the 15 teams in the league, only three are officially eliminated from playoff contention with one week left.  American soccer and the MLS have improved greatly since 1996, yet the media doesn’t seem to care.  Newspapers should be faulted.  All they have to do is run some Associated Press articles, but they don’t.  Most newspapers suscribe to the AP, so the articles are there for the taking, yet hardly any newspaper runs them.  Why is that?  They can’t run the AP story on a slow Wednesday or Thursday?  And, newspapers wonder why subscriptions are and revenue are down.  Less is not more, and unless newspapers realize that covering the news and providing information is what they’re supposed to do, they won’t survive.  Nobody expects the MLS to be covered like baseball and football, but to ignore it completely is bewildering. 

What makes it more bewildering is ESPN.  They pay for MLS rights, they show Champions League games and this year, they show an English Premier League match every Saturday.  They have invested monies into soccer, but they never show any MLS highlights even though they pay the MLS a fee to broadcast their games.  They show more NHL highlights and they gave up the NHL years ago. 

Until next time.

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