Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The Devil's Advocates

Hey Peeps and anyone else checking in. A special “Hey” goes out to Hazel Mae if she is checking in.

What a night in the world of sports last night – The Asterisk passes Hank Aaron for top spot on the all-time career home runs list and today, for one day only, Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Josh Towers gets a bit of sympathy from us.

We here at “Thoughts of Hazel Mae” don’t purport to be offering new and fresh takes on everything that goes on in the world of sports – we merely share our opinion on events and happenings for your consideration and/or discussion. Today, we gladly assume the role of devil’s advocate to share, what we believe to be, a somewhat different view of things.

Ok, so everyone has an opinion on Barry Bonds and his run for glory (or infamy) atop the all-time career home run list. As you can well imagine, most of the opinion centers on Barry’s suspected use of performance enhancing drugs and his demeanor in dealing with the media and fans – with the prevailing thought being that he is a cheater and that people don’t respect his accomplishment. People are lining up to discredit him in an attempt to protect Aaron’s “record”.

Well, maybe its just us, but does anyone out there think that Hank’s “protectors” – the self appointed “guardians of baseball history” – are doing more to hurt the game’s former greats than protect the integrity of their accomplishments? Dragging Barry’s name and reputation through the mud has given rise to a growing movement of respected members of the media looking at past records and comparing advantages and disadvantages of by gone eras. Babe Ruth got to hit against pitchers who’s arms were falling off, and he got to swing at a home run fence 296 feet away; Hank Aaron had the luxury (compared to Ruth) of flying to games and air conditioned hotel rooms (did Hank have to face the level of competition Barry has?). Our point is this – while Barry doesn’t necessarily have “defenders”, he is helped by those wishing to be provocative by question the legitimacy of records set before him.

For the record, yes we read Bob Ryan’s column and we wholeheartedly agree with what he suggested – three Home Run Kings for three different eras of baseball. Move on gang, we’ll be looking at ARod chasing down Bonds in about 6 years – especially if he goes to Boston.

Torontonians were disappointed last week when David Beckham didn’t take to the pitch as the LA Galaxy paid a visit to the Toronto FC. We’ve been pretty outspoken about what we think of Beckham’s foray into North American “Soccer” – its is an outstanding business decision for Beckham, one that will bring him millions long after his career is done; and one that could quite likely doom the league.

Last week, in discussing Mr. Posh Spice – an interesting view on Beckham was discussed; a view that we think has quite a bit of merit to it. The theory goes that the decision to woo Beckham from Europe was not the brainchild of Galaxy GM Alexi Lalas, but rather a decision taken by the league – knowing that LA would appeal to Beckham and his wife Victoria. The MLS, knew what they were getting in Beckham – the most recognizable and marketable player in professional soccer (apologies to Ronaldihno…teenage girls aren’t going to buy magazines and coo over his over-bite); but also a guy who’s limit skills were eroding with each passing year…a guy who would NOT dominate the MLS. That’s right, they got a big name who wouldn’t run roughshod over the league, so that they could proudly claim that MLS players could take the field against the best in the world and compete – neutralizing big Beckham would make the league look better and the semblance of credibility. Admittedly, we had not considered such a sneaky angle – we just figured that Americans knew little about the game and they were out to buy a name…gives you pause for thought huh?

We leave you with this in support of the aforementioned theory. Beckham is NOT one of the world’s best players, he never has been – he was a creation of the British media who were dying to write about a homegrown superstar. In the late 90’s and early 2000’s – England was without a world renowned player; not good when your country puts out 99.9% of the world’s English content on the game and has a good portion used to form the basis of opinions in other parts of the world. Beckham’s “game” was being a deadly weapon on free kicks and a very good distributor of the ball. He wasn’t particularly fast, quick, or adept with the ball – he hit free kicks and passed the ball around. He wasn’t on his own a game-breaker; he was a nice player. His biggest accomplishment was runner up to Portugal’s Luis Figo for the FIFA 2001 World Player of the Year – the truth of it was that he nomination and votes were based largely on a media campaign more than his on the field accomplishments.

Still think the MLS didn’t know what they were doing when they signed him?

We’re pretty sure the Yankees/Blue Jays highlights were at or near the top of most of yesterday’s sports casts down in the good ol’ U.S. of A – ESPN, FOX, SportsDesk with Hazel Mae (though we can’t confirm it – we just wanted to throw it in there) – primarily for the incident that took place yesterday when Blue Jays Pitcher Josh Towers hit Alex Rodriguez in the leg with two outs in the third inning and first base open. It was widely acknowledged that the action taken by Towers was payback for Rodriguez’s indiscretion at the Rogers Centre in calling mine as he headed towards third base on a pop up –blah blah, you all know the story (we were at Fenway and heard Red Sox Nation yell “MINE” when a pop up went to third base.
We aren’t going to praise Towers for this bit of “old-time baseball” – we aren’t drinking the Blue Jays kool-aid and suggest (as Rogers Sportsnet broadcasters were dumb enough to) that last night’s incident could be a building block for the team to start a run of eight or nine straight wins. The Blue Jays are going no where…fast, and last night’s incident isn’t going to help them – it certainly didn’t help them last night…just ask Alex Rios, who got beaned by Rogers Clemens, what he thought of Towers’ actions.

We do feel a little bad for Towers though – last night’s line wasn’t really reflective of the way he pitched, and certainly didn’t turn out to be the fate he deserved. While we like to rag on Towers here – we couldn’t help but feel bad for him as his “team-oriented” action, combined with some awful decisions by his outfielders, inflated his pitching line to an ugly – 5IP, 9H, 5 ER, 4 BB, 1 K. Towers watched helplessly as OF Reed Johnson pulled a “lil’ Abner bellyflop” diving for a ball that was four feet away from his glove – a solid two-out single turned into an RBI triple for Bobby Abreu and brought ARod to the plate to be plunked with first base open. ARod gets plunked (in the midst of an awful game at the plate) and goes on to score the third run of the inning a short while later. IF Johnson cuts that ball off – maybe Towers pitches to a struggling ARod and escapes the inning with only one run against. Later on in the game Vernon Wells misplayed a line drive by Melky Cabrera into a triple – it was that kind of night for Towers. Everything that could go wrong did.

We’ll be back to piling on Towers before his next start.

New York Yankees P Roger Clemens comes back from one of his worst outings to hold the Jays to one run on two hits and a walk while striking out six. Though we can’t give him credit for beaning Rios (he’s a Maeple Leaf).

San Diego Padres P Jake Peavy pitches six shutout innings to lead the Padres to a 4-0 win over the Cards – Peavy finished the night giving up three hits and two walks while striking out five.

Detroit Tigers RF Magglio Ordonez had three hits, including a home run, and two runs batted in to lead the Tigers to a 9-6 win over the DRays.

If you think yesterday’s stars had anything to do with yesterday’s Three Play – you’re right. One of the benefits of choosing stars – plus, you didn’t really want to see Barry’s name here…did you?

Honourable mention goes to the girl who cuts my hair – name withheld - she has a way of making a haircut seem so much better than what it is…I’ll leave it at that. But if you are ever around these parts – send us a comment or an email and we’ll get you her salon’s name. Its time well spent in that damn chair! Oh yeah…she’s totally freakin’ hot.

Well, our first 3-0 night in a while…FINALLY. A great start to the week could have been better had we gotten here in time on Monday. Total for the week is + $300

Red Sox West over Cincinnati – the boys are in the midst of a horrible run right now, but we like Chad Billingsley to pull them out of it against Aaron Harang. Dodgers have to win sooner or later – we’ll go with sooner…like tonight. Lay $100 on LA + $110.

Minnesota over Kansas City – Johan Santana vs Odalis Perez – enough said. Lay $100 on the Twins - $230.

Boston over Los Angeles – this is partly about us thinking that Boston won’t get swept, and partly about our hatred of Anaheim-based teams in the Three Play. Seriously, we think Jon Lester continues the comeback with a good outing tonight against the Angeles who blew their wad for the week against Wakefield last night. Lay $100 on the Sox - $115.

That’s it for today gang – thanks for taking the time to check in. Special thanks to my man Tilt for posting. Have a great one peeps.

Hazel, we hope things are groovy in your world.

We’re Out.


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