Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Some random sports thoughts

*The Pirates drafted right-handed pitcher Gerrit Cole out of UCLA with the number one overall selection in Monday's draft. Since the Pirates have a lot of critics, many were questioning the selection of Cole instead of third baseman Anthony Rendon from Rice. Rendon was considered the consensus number one selection for the longest time before he suffered a shoulder injury and some teams at the top of the draft became a little leery. The Pirates weren't the only team to pass on Rendon as the Washington Nationals drafted him 6th overall. Personally, I would have rather seen them take a position player after drafting so many pitchers last year, but who can really argue with the selection of Cole? His fastball has been clocked at over 100mph. You can't coach velocity and Cole will join Jameson Tailon and Stetson Allie as young pitchers with very high upside in the Pirates' farm system. Cole is represented by Scott Boras (who else?) but it's a good sign that the Pirates are going for top-of-the-line pitchers and no longer picking guys like Brian Bullington at the top of the draft. Finally, when it comes to baseball drafts, "the best player available" is always the way to go because it's not like the other major sports where players can come in right away and help a team. It normally takes at least a couple of years to make it to the big leagues. No sense worrying about positions. You just don't know the make up of your ballclub two or three years down the road.

*Is anyone else as sick of hearing about the Buster Posey injury as I am? For those of you who don't know, Posey, the San Francisco Giants all-world catcher, was injured and knocked out for the season last week after a play at the plate with Scott Cousins of the Florida Marlins. Cousins tagged from 3rd base on a shallow fly-ball and collided with Posey at the plate. Cousins scored the go-ahead run in the top of the 12th inning and Posey suffered a broken leg on the play. Almost immediately, people from the Giants organization, and a lot of folks around baseball, started to argue that a rule-change was needed for plays at the plate. Of course, this should be no surprise. In today's day and age, everytime something like this happens, everyone wants something done about it. Cousins has now received death-threats from Giants fans and even the Giants general manager vaguely threatened Cousins with retribution before later apologizing for his comments. However, Posey wasn't the first catcher to ever suffer an injury after a play at the plate. Ray Fosse was an all-star catcher with the Cleveland Indians who was injured after a collision at home plate with Pete Rose in the 1970 All-star game. That was over 40 years ago and they never bothered to change the rules for plays at the plate. Times are different today, however, especially if a star player goes down with an injury. This sort of thing has been done in other sports, too. For example, when Terrell Owens was injured by a horse-collar tackle in the 2004 season, the NFL outlawed that type of tackle. One has to wonder if there would have been a rule change if a little-used possession receiver had suffered an injury and not TO. Anyone who has followed the NFL over the last half-decade knows that the horse-collar tackle is a very difficult rule to interpret. Can you imagine how hard it would be for MLB umpires to interpret any sort of new rule for collisions at home-plate? What Scott Cousins did to Buster Posey has been going on in baseball for over a century. Like I alluded to earlier with the TO injury, I wonder if anyone would have said a word if Ryan Doumit or Chris Snyder were lost for the year with an injury after a collision at the plate? I doubt it.

*So Jim Tressel is out at Ohio State and Terelle Pryor has decided to leave, too, and enter the NFL Supplemental draft (provided there ever is another one). This all comes after allegations that Pryor and many other Ohio State football players sold their own merchandise for tattoos (and maybe even drugs depending on who you believe). Tressel came under fire because he knew about these incidents and tried to cover them up. There are other rumors that Pryor accepted free cars from an Ohio dealership. This is nothing new. Just last season, the Auburn football program was in the news for similar transgressions, and USC is currently suffering the effects of some illegal acts during the Pete Carroll era. What really makes me laugh is when people act so shocked that these things are going on in big-time college athletics. Didn't anyone ever see the movie "Blue Chips" with Nick Nolte and Shaq from the 90's? This stuff has been going on forever. Coaches get fired, players get suspended, and programs usually suffer the long-term ramifications, but why don't boosters ever really suffer for their actions? They always seem to get off scott-free even though their influence over programs is normally what causes the mess. In the real world, drug-dealers are the ones given the harshest penalties, but in the world of the NCAA, programs suffer while the boosters never get touched. I'm not saying schools, coaches, and players don't deserve their share of the blame. They do, because it takes two to tango, but I'll bet if a real message was sent to alumni and boosters with deep-pockets, a lot of these rules-violations would stop. But that's just my opinion.

*Finally, I'll leave you with some of the stuff I've been writing on Behind The Steel Curtain.

Ever get to witness a no-hitter in person? My brother and I came this close but were defeated by "Fireworks Night."

Are there teams you that you used to be indifferent towards or even admire but now cannot stand? Well, I have my share.

Still having trouble getting over Super Bowl XLV? I am, but you'd be surprised by how many people still consider Super Bowl XXX an even tougher loss. I continue to be amazed at how many people were devastated by that loss. I feel like I'm in a very small minority of Steelers fans who really considered 1995 to be a magical ride despite the ending.

Speaking of Super Bowl XXX, I wrote a couple of things about the Steelers of the 90's. One was of my memories surrounding the Steelers loss to the San Diego Chargers in the 1994 AFC Championship game.

Lastly, I give some love to the Steelers teams of the 90's.

That's about all I have for today. Happy Wednesday!

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