Barry Bonds, Tim Duncan, Alex Rodriguez, Peyton Manning and the Skip Bayless Double Standard?

Does Bayless Flip Flop on the Criteria He Uses to Judge Who is Best?

(This blog was originally posted on the Yahoo Contributor Network on May 11th, 2011. As of 7/31/14 YCN has taken down all of its content)

When asked on ESPN’s First and Ten on May 6th who is the best baseball player of all time Skip Bayless answered Barry Bonds. He discounted Bonds’ alleged steroid use. He sloughed off that Bonds ” — wasn’t that great in the postseason”.

Here is what Skip has had to say about other great athletes:

On Peyton Manning – He calls him the greatest regular season quarterback of all time but eliminates him from the greatest of all time QB discussion because of his postseason performances.

On Tim Duncan – Includes Tim Duncan on his list of top ten greatest basketball players of all time, and the first factor he mentions as to why is because of the four championship rings he won with the San Antonio Spurs.

On Alex Rodriguez – Before Rodriguez wins a World Series with The New York Yankees, Skip dubs A-Rod as A-Fraud, because of his poor playoff performances.

Now follow me Skip:

  • If Peyton Manning has won a Superbowl MVP…
  • If four NBA championships put Duncan in the conversation…
  • If A-Rod was A-Fraud in your eyes before winning a World Series…

Since Barry Bonds did not win a World Series than how is he not a fraud when his postseason numbers are not any better than A-Rod’s in the same sport? Or comparable with Manning’s for his sport? Not to mention how you discount Lebron James in basketball for what you call his lack of clutch gene.

By your own logic and past arguments how can you rate Bonds the best? Further, it is a gross understatement when you say Bonds was not that great in the postseason. Pre what the consensus was for Bonds’ PED use, he was terrible in the playoffs in his Pittsburgh Pirates days, especially when you apply the stringent standards that you do Skip when talking about superstars in any sport.

At best, if you do want to discount PED use (which I wouldn’t) I can see how you would reach the same conclusion with Bonds that you do with Manning and call him the greatest regular season player you ever saw. Because I don’t discount alleged PED years, I would take Ken Griffey Jr. as my best from Bonds’ era.

For all-time greatest? I’m sticking with The Great Bambino, Babe Ruth. Ruth would have probably hit over 900 home runs but he was too busy accumulating more complete games and shut outs than Pedro Martinez.

Look at it this way, when their careers are done I can see a modern-day debate between Albert Pujols and Alex Rodriquez for who is better. Now imagine one of them pitching and winning over 90 games and having a World Series pitching e.r.a. of under one. Who ya got under those circumstances?

What Babe Ruth accomplished would be like Tom Brady intercepting more passes and running back more punt returns for touchdowns than Deion Sanders.

Ruth is in the “who is the greatest discussion” with just his hitting. His pitching ends the debate for me. It’s to prisoner of the moment to say never as far as what we will or won’t see again in terms of an athlete. But the Babe, and a baseball player that dominant as a pitcher and a hitter tops the list of least likely to ever see again.

Published by Jeff Schubert

Jeff Schubert is the Host/Executive Producer of the show Filmnut that airs on thestream.tv. Each webisode provides an in-depth interview about the making, marketing, or distribution of film, TV or new media…

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Why the St. Louis Cardinals Should NOT Resign Albert Pujols

Do You Think the Yankees Would Resign A-Rod If They Could Get a Do Over?

(This blog was originally posted on the Yahoo Contributor Network on April 13th, 2011. As of 7/31/14 YCN has taken down all of its content)

No one is debating whether or not Albert Pujols is a great, first ballet, hall of famer. He has been great for the city of St. Louis, he’s a champion, and to date he is clear of any performance enhancing drug accusations. But if the money he’s going for after the 2011 season is as rumored, north of 300 million, that is a figure beyond what the Cardinals or any team should offer. Nothing personal Albert, but you’re not worth the risk.

To date the two biggest contracts in the history of the sport have been signed by Alex Rodriguez. No doubt the first time A-Rod was a free agent he was a better player than Pujols is now. A-Rod was younger, faster, had as much power, and was a better defender at a more premium position, shortstop, versus Pujols at first base. How did that contract work out for the Texas Rangers? A-Rod performed, but it financially handicapped the organization. They couldn’t build around him, so they dumped him to the NY Yankees, and ate ten million a year to do so.  And like the Seattle Mariners, Texas improved after he left.

Astonishingly, the Yankees eventually give A-Rod a second long term contract of ten years for 275 million. Not long after, there is the steroid admission, a hip injury requiring surgery and declining numbers.

Consequently I don’t see any fifty home run seasons in A-Rod’s future. Stolen bases? Not so much. Defense? Declining. Home run chase? Who cares? Between Texas and New York you see all the things that can potentially go wrong for a mid market team like St. Louis: Paying too much money to one player, off the field issues, declining skills due to injury and or aging.

A-Rod is the first example but far from the last. Let’s eliminate the everyday players who are clear of a performance enhancing drug connection and show me one that has produced 30 million a year numbers beyond the age of 37. Albert would be into his forties by the end of a ten year deal.

Based on the highest paid players through 2010, ask yourself are these players worth the money they were paid to their teams? Alex Rodriguez (33 m) Derrick Jeter (22.6 m) Mark Tiexera (20.6 m) Johan Santana (20.1 m) Miguel Cabrera (20 m) Carlos Betran (19.4) Ryan Howard (19 m) Carlos Lee (19 m) Alfonso Soriano (19 m) Carlos Zambrano (18.8 m) John Lackey (18.7 m) Manny Ramirez (18.6 m) Torri Hunter (18.5 m) Barry Zito (18.5 m) Maglio Ordonez (17.8 m) Todd Helton (17.7 m) Aramis Ramirez (16.7 m) A. J. Burnett (16.5 m).*

That is eighteen out of the top twenty that were debatably overpaid last season. Do you think all of these players could find a team willing to pay those figures if they were free agents again?

Think the New York Mets would like a do over on the big contracts they gave the injury prone Santana, Beltran, or even Jason Bay or Francisco Rodriquez? Generally, pre free agent numbers are better then post.

Miguel Cabrera is an exception however his off the field alcohol issues add a question mark to him. Plain and simple the odds are stacked that you’re paying for past performance and you will not get value out of a long term deal.

More logic used to justify such a salary for Pujols by analysts like ESPN’s Jon Kruk is that, “well A-Rod has a 275 million dollar contract and Albert is better then A-Rod now so, you know, Albert should get more”. If I walk into a car dealership and the sales agent says to me that the idiot before me paid ten thousand dollars over sticker price for a car that doesn’t mean I will do the same.

A team (the Yankees) that is clearly playing on a different financial field than any other cannot be used to set the market. Nor can the actions of a desperate owner, Tom Hicks of the Texas Rangers, who made a deal that set his team on a path to financial ruin.

Being from New York I am not a Boston Red Sox fan but I respect the way they do business with their players and how they created a climate where players take less money to stay there…they accomplished this by showing fiscal discipline and letting stars like Nomar Garciaparra and Mo Vaughn and Johnny Damon leave. Theo Epstein and company assess the value of a player, don’t get emotional about it and make a take it or leave it offer. Star players like David Ortiz and Jason Varitek have taken less money and or diminished roles to stay a part of Red Sox nation.

If Albert wants to be a “true” Cardinal, and spend his career with one team, let him take a little less and not break your budget. If he wants to go to the Chicago Cubs for some extra coin let him. Don’t be sucked into a bidding war and pay what will handicap you like A-Rod did with Texas.

The Cubs are not about to win even if they sign Pujols. In order for the Red Sox to break through their curse, they needed a juiced up Manny Ramirez (allegedly), David Ortiz, Curt Shilling, Pedro Martinez, Keith Foulke (who was closing like Mariano Rivera that year), Johnny Damon and the rest of the idiots. If the Cubs or anyone pay Pujols three hundred million, they will get the first laugh, but odds are you will get the last.

Published by Jeff Schubert

Jeff Schubert is the Host/Executive Producer of the show Filmnut that airs on thestream.tv. Each webisode provides an in depth interview about the making, marketing, or distribution of film, TV or new media…

Why It’s A Bigger Deal When LeBron James Flops or Dwyane Wade Is “Dirty”

NBA: Playoffs-Miami Heat at Indiana Pacers

Fair or not we expect more from superstars.  Love’em or hate’em, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are stars of the highest order.  (Albeit Wade is past his prime).  We tend to exaggerate their successes and failures.

Another way we judge players of all sports is in how they play the game.  Playing the game, “the right way”, or “the way it is supposed to be played” are two common expressions of coaches and players meant to validate:

  • Hard-nosed play.
  • Physical play.
  • All out effort.
  • Honest way of playing.

True there is also a sports expression that states, “if you’re not cheating, you’re not trying.”  But that best represents a sentiment from a pre-social media era.  With drug testing, digital technology, and the traditional media no longer in the back pocket of the games, players simply cannot get away with the things they did years ago.

Technically, since flopping is now a fine-able offense, you can say it qualifies as cheating.  And as much as we don’t like cheating, we like it even less when stars do it.  See the reaction when a player like Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens gets suspected of using steroids versus someone like Melky Cabrera actually testing positive for something.

Hypothetically, if a 45-year-old knuckleball pitcher named Phil Niekro got busted for doctoring up a baseball that would be viewed one way.  If Clemens did it?  It would be stop the presses and call into question everything he ever accomplished.  Again, we expect more from superstars.  This is not entirely new.

We admire greatness but feel betrayed by it when it looks to cheat, or for lack of a better word, a weasely advantage.  It was one thing for Vlade Divac or Derek Fisher to be floppers for the Los Angeles Lakers.  It would be another if Magic Johnson, Shaquille O’Neal or Kobe Bryant were habitual floppers.  Just wouldn’t feel right.

LeBron refers to it as a legit strategy.  Forgetting for a moment that it is now a fine-able offense, so is bunting a runner to third base in a critical late game situation in baseball.  If a pitcher or even a leadoff hitter like Brett Gardener does so, we’re excited, but if Alex Rodriguez or Albert Pujols did that in their prime, it would not be greeted with the same enthusiasm.  Plaques aren’t built for bunt sacrifices and floppers.

jordanutahIt was much more satisfying watching the Chicago Bulls win games on Michael Jordan clutch shooting as opposed to if he flopped to draw an offense foul.  MJ, Magic, Bird, Russell, they weren’t known as floppers.  Lebron, do you want that attached to your resume?

Now let’s look at hard fouls/ cheap and or dirty play.  Unless you’re talking about the 80’s bad boy Detroit Pistons led by Isiah Thomas, at best that is a role player function.  Kurt Rambis of the Magic Johnson Lakers, Dennis Rodman with Michael Jordan’s Bulls, and Bruce Bowen for earlier versions of Tim Duncan’s San Antonio Spurs are examples.

dwadeelbowIf Duncan fouled people or executed the cheap shots that Bowen did it would be a bigger deal.  As it is now with seemingly nice guy Dwyane Wade who is slowly building a resume of questionable plays.  Because of his nice guy persona he has enjoyed the benefit of the doubt, but elbows, like the one he threw in game three against Indiana’s Lance Stephenson are starting to add up.

For reasons already well documented, fans already root for the Miami Heat and their not five, not six, not seven proclamation to fail.  Flopping and dirty play only gives them two more reasons to root for them to lose, and minimize them if they win.

As players, James and Wade do so many things the right way and are so talented, they shouldn’t need to flop and or cheap shot to win.

It’s fine for people to trot out the old cliché about only remembering the winner… But with Twitter, Youtube and Facebook, that is not as true as it used to be.

Memo to Commissioner Stern:  Kudos for instituting a fine for flopping, but increase it.

 

How Much Money Should The NY Yankees Offer Robinson Cano? (Not as much as you’d think)

***The blog below was originally posted on 2/23/13 on: http://sportsnuthub.com/   The site is no longer up so I am re-posting on my personal blog.

canoRobinson Cano may be the best second baseman in baseball.  Robinson Cano may be the best free agent heading into the 2014 season.  Does that mean he is entitled to be the next grossly overpaid athlete?  We know his agent Scott, “who cares what it does to the rest of a team or baseball”, Boras thinks.

As great as he is, I thought the St. Louis Cardinals did the right thing in passing on Albert Pujols.  I outlined a host of issues and other overpaid players prior to Pujols’ free agency here.  (You can now add Joe Mauer to the list.)  It’s just year one, but Pujols’ old team made the playoffs, and his new team, the Los Angeles Angels, did not.

Even by ludicrous standards, as good a player as Cano is, he is more hype than fact if he wants Pujols or Alex Rodriguez  money.  To get an absurd ten-year 225 – 300 million dollar contracts, which is what Boras is rumored to want for Cano, you’ve got to be an elite five-tool player.  Historically great.  Not just the best free agent in a given year who is repped by Scott, “I’ll manipulate a player’s numbers to get insane money” Boras.

And if you’ve been given an opportunity, like Cano has, to bring it in the playoffs, you’d better perform.  At a minimum, an elite star should perform to his regular season standard.  Ideally, he should be taking it to an even higher level and carrying his team for that kind of cheese.

In seven seasons, Cano has hit over 30 home runs one time.  In lefty, hitter friendly Yankee Stadium, that is not exactly the second coming of Babe Ruth.  On the offensively stacked NY Yankees, he has hit over 100 rbi’s, twice.  His career batting average is .308.  That’s better than very good, but not Tony Gwynn or Wade Boggs either.  Cano has hit over .320 twice.  No batting titles.  He has 31 stolen bases.  For his career!  He has been caught stealing 27 times.

So, Cano is not a speed guy.  He has some power, hitting over 20 home runs four times, but he is not an elite power guy.  Speed and power would be two of the five very important aforementioned five tools.

Let’s look at Cano’s playoff stats.  Has he carried his team?  No.  He has appeared in fifty-one games, so not a small sample size.  His batting average is .222.  In his lone World Series he hit .136 with no home runs and one RBI.

By comparison, A-Rod, whose contract often gets justifiably ripped, hit .250 in the same World Series and has a career .263 post-season batting average.  Forgetting PED use for moment, A-Rod’s regular season numbers dwarf Cano’s.  A-Rod has won three MVP’s, Cano has never finished higher than third in the voting, (which he did once).  A-Rod wasn’t worth his money and I don’t see Cano being worth that neighborhood either.

jeter

Under normal circumstances I wouldn’t bring this up but Cano doesn’t exactly have Derek Jeter’s reputation for hustle and running out ground balls or fly pops.  Some say, “this is unfair and mention how former Yankee Paul O’Neill was the same way, and it was never talked about with him.”  Paul O’Neill was never asking for the kind of money Cano is rumored to want.  O’Neill was never going to be the face of the franchise.  It’s the difference between how the media and the public scrutinize someone who is running for congress versus running for President.  It’s a higher standard when you’re asking for that kind of contract.

So how much money over how many years should the Yankees offer Cano?  I’d offer him the highest contract in baseball for a second basemen.  Ian Kingsler  currently has that distinction with a five year $70 million deal with a sixth year option that can raise it as high as $82 million or a buyout that makes it worth $75m.  Working off of that, the Yankees should offer Cano five years at $85 million with an option for a sixth year that could raise it to $100 million.  This offer is nothing to sneeze at or apologize for.

I expect Cano will make much more.  He is a solid all-star,  great fielder, good guy, with no off the field issues.  He will garner interest from a few clubs that spend money like its monopoly.  And, “the all you need is one dumb owner” rule is always in play with Scott, I’d rip the teddy bear out of a dying babies hands if I could find that teddy bear a better offer”, Boris.

The Yankees have broken with their tradition of not negotiating new contracts while a player is still under contract because they are wisely trying to change their ways.  They have hit their financial ceiling at the same time that many other clubs are raising theirs.

In other words, the Yankees can’t buy their way out of mistakes like they used to.  Two of those mistakes, A-Rod and Mark Teixeira,  sit on their roster until 2017 and  2016.  The old Yankees could have spent ridiculously on Cano and Curtis Granderson (who will also be a free agent at the end of 2013).  There are rumblings now are that they can’t afford both.

Despite my argument here, I like Cano a lot.  It would be great if Cano could be the next Yankee lifer after Derek Jeter, retires.  But not at the expense of further handicapping the roster with a seven to ten-year north of 25 million per season contract.  Post PED era, giving that to a thirty-one year old all but guarantees you’re not going to get close to value.  And Cano’s peak numbers don’t warrant that kind of money anyway.  Further, by spurning the Yankees in talks now to chase every last dollar in free agency, while it is Cano’s right, it reminds us it is a business and hurts his “true Yankee cred”.

Yankee money, which is no longer limitless, is better off being spread out over pitching, multiple players or even player development.