Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Free Kicks

Forget the obligatory "Extra Points" title for a miscellaneous post, I am going soccer with this one. Or pulling a Doug Flutie, depending how you look at it. Enjoy.

"Offensive" Performance
The Orioles scored 8 runs and lost. I don’t think Fernando Cabrera should have been pulled in the 6th. Sure he had walked two, but he was fresh and had still gotten the first two guys out. I thought he would settle down and it would have been a better idea to let him work it out than send in Alberto Castillo with runners on first and second. If you have a fresh reliever like Cabrera, you should use him to the utmost. Instead, they sent out a pitcher who in his Orioles debut (discussed on ATH here) saw the very same situation against the very same team and imploded. What else did Dave Trembley expect to happen?

That said, there is simply no excuse for Garrett Olson’s performance. Trembley keeps saying Olson's problem is trying to pick at the corners of the strike zone rather than going right at batters. On one hand, if the problem is all in his head it seems easy enough so solve by telling him to attack batters more with his fastball. On the other hand, success for a pitcher is as much about mental makeup as it is about physical talent. He has been told throughout the season to start going after batters but has yet to do so consistently. Olson could have a promising future with the Orioles, but he first has to start playing with the confidence of a major leaguer. So much for an aberration…

ACC Tears its ACL
The Atlantic Coast Conference is now publishing injury reports for all of its football teams prior to each week’s games. Within the conference, this is a rather benign idea- everyone is playing with the same information. Of course this opens the door to Belichick-esque ambiguity and petty misdirection, but at least everyone can do it. But what does this say about non-conference games? When Maryland plays California on September 13th, the Bears will know the status of Maryland’s injured players while Maryland’s coaches are left in the dark to guess who they will have to account for on the field.

It isn’t that this is a bad idea, but it should not be handled at the conference level. If this is worth attending to, it should be attended to by the NCAA as a whole- and good luck to anyone who tries to get the NCAA to act on anything. The problem is not whether or not to have injury reports; personally I don’t mind which way it is handled. However it is handled should be the same for every team in Division I. Injury reports, as the NFL has shown us, have been a source of great subterfuge. Don’t subject ACC teams to stricter standards than their competition, no matter how small the disadvantage.

National Favre League
I know this is a Maryland sports blog, but every other media outlet is talking Favre so I just can’t help it (bring it on, Windsor and Falco). It is being reported by various sources that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has spoken with ownership of the Green Bay Packers regarding Brett Favre. He is demanding that the Packers either accept him back onto the team (and it is implied that they start him) or trade him sooner rather than later. The Grand Commish has ostensibly stated that he will not have a league where Brett Favre is refused the right to play in the league because the Packers won’t let him play for them and won’t let him play elsewhere.

Goodell realizes that this is damaging the image of one of the NFL’s more recognizable players and forcing fans to choose between a football icon and one of the league’s most storied franchises. In that competition, football loses. The Commissioner wants the situation dealt with as fast as possible, as this story seems to have legs that will never get tired. Moreover, Goodell realizes that no player of Favre’s status should be locked out of the league if he wants to play. The NFL cannot afford to force Favre into permanent retirement under these circumstances or risk alienating a great ambassador of the game. I’m normally against league interference in teams, but this is another great move by Goodell on behalf of the game of football.

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