Thursday, July 22, 2010

Maurkice Pouncey: Continuing the Downward Spiral that Is the Pittsburgh Steelers

Why can't the Steelers pick up a guy who is not a complete moron? Can somebody please answer me this? With the 18th pick in the NFL Draft, the Steelers selected Florida center Maurkice Pouncey. Pouncey was an All-SEC Honorable Mention last year, his sophomore year. Allegedly, he received over $100K from some shady agent, sometime between the SEC Championship and the BCS Championship game, which Florida lost. I should probably change the word received to accepted, because he had a choice. He could have said no. I am not about to go on some tangent about how "Oh, Pouncey had no real choice other than to accept the money. The NCAA does not pay their players while they cash in on their players' performance. Poor Maurkice Pouncey", because frankly, I do not feel that way. Was Pouncey really that strapped for cash? He couldn't wait a few months before he gets his multi-million dollar contract from an NFL team? Sure, the NCAA could give a little back to their players (or employees, depending on your point of view), but Pouncey has to think clearer than that. Didn't he read the Sports section, where Reggie Bush, OJ Mayo, and the entire area of Southern California has been called out by taking money and illegal benefits from agents trying to get a leg up? Is Pouncey that shortsighted? The Steelers maybe should have done a better background check on this guy.

Your telling me the Pittsburgh Steelers are not going to do some extensive research on who they are going to pick up? They have a suspended quarterback, who has been accused of sexual assault on two separate occasions. Their star outside linebacker, James Harrison, has been accused of domestic violence (Remember that? Dan Rooney was accused of having a double standard after he got rid of wide receiver Cedrick Wilson on the same charges). They just released their wide receiver after he set the stage for Lindsay Lohan after throwing glass at their girlfriend. The latter of these people is Santonio Holmes, who the Steelers gave about 412 chances before deciding to say "You know what? It is time to let him go before people start questioning our morals". The Steelers have had one of the most respected franchises in all of sports since the Rooney family bought the team eons ago. I have been a Steelers fan all my life, but these incidents are shocking. What upsets me the most is that even after all these incidents, the Steelers front office does not learn. They still draft some schmuck like Maurkice Pouncey and not realize what they are doing. I am just waiting for something improbable to happen now, like Troy Polamalu finally snap and urinate in a parking lot after a victory (That's what 2007 draft pick Matt Spaeth did after a win this past season).

The Maurkice Pouncey incident has only made me more agitated at the Steeler organization. When my father heard about all this, he said they should just "clean house". Now I am not saying the Steelers do anything that drastic, but the Rooney family needs to take a good long look at itself. It needs to see that the conduct of its players are horrible, and they need to set some kind of standard for incidents. I believed the Steelers should have traded Roethlisberger on draft day and picked up Jimmy Clausen, who the Steelers passed over for some reason. They should have used Roethlisberger as an example. They should have done more extensive research into Pouncey's past, maybe revealing that he was not all there. Maybe ask a few more questions, I don't know. But you cannot draft someone like this after having your organization become one of the most respected to a laughing stock almost overnight. My Steelers have to get their act together.

The Peanut Gallery starring Brendan O'Hare will be going on vacation for the next week. If there are any comments, questions, or concerns, comment below. See you next week.

Friday, July 16, 2010

MLB Midseason Report: Seinfeld Style

This Major League season has been filled with amazing feats, whether it be Stephen Strasburg's unparalleled dominance or the fact that Lou Pinella has not killed anybody out in Chicago. To celebrate the mid season point, it has been decided to honor (or dishonor) teams by giving them awards based on various characters from the television show Seinfeld. You have to pick Seinfeld because just like Major League Baseball, its filled with dysfunctional and just straight-up weird characters. Baseball is filled with teams just like it. Without further ado...

The Jerry Seinfeld Award

Colorado Rockies

On Seinfeld, Jerry Seinfeld seems like a character who is ready to break out. The audience can tell he is very talented by his stand-up bits and his decent-looking apartment. He has good stuff, but he has not really had that one big break. The Rockies are just like him. At 49-39, they sit at 2nd in the AL West. In the wild NL West, they seem like the team most likely to get that big break, due to their pitching and young hitting. Ubaldo Jiminez and Troy Tulowitizki are the two most talented players on the ball club, and like Jerry Seinfeld, they seem ready to become big.

The George Costanza Award

Boston Red Sox

There is really only one team that can win the illustrious George Costanza Award. George Costanza may have the worst luck out of any human being who has ever lived (or not lived). Besides working for the Yankees, he can never seem to hold down a job for very long. He lives with the worst parents this side of Jack Torrance. And he inadvertently killed his fiancee with shotty poison envelopes. The Boston Red Sox are George Costanza. Mike Cameron has been on the DL for kidney stones, and Jed Lowrie for mononucleosis. They really earned the Costanza award when Kevin Youkillis became day-to-day after injuring his ankle sliding it across the batters box to brush dirt away. But somehow both of these two have managed to stay alive. The Red Sox are only 5 1/2 games back in the AL East, and Costanza made it through the entire series without dying. Plus I love comparing Youkillis and Costanza to "short, stocky, slow-witted bald men".

The Elaine Benes Award

Texas Rangers

This is probably the highest honor you could receive, I guess. That's not really saying much. Elaine was the most successful person on the show, holding down steady jobs and having a nice apartment. She had the most going for her during the show, basically. The Texas Rangers are Elaine. They have the biggest divisional lead out of anyone. They can hit the crap out of the ball. And they are only going to get better, as they added one of the five best pitchers in baseball, Cliff Lee. Although their manager, Ron Washington may be the Ranger's David Puddy (as both make consistent stupid mistakes), the Rangers seem to be in it for the long haul.

The Cosmo Kramer Award

Manny Ramirez

Okay, Manny is not a team, but he epitomizes what Kramer was. Manny has weird hair, has weird eccentricities, and appears to be pretty well off without doing any real work. Manny has only appeared in about 75% of the teams games this years, yet is making a ton of money. Kramer once went to work just for fun, at a place where he just kind of seeped into the working environment without anyone noticing he didn't really work there. After all, isn't that what Manny is doing?

The George Steinbrenner Award

New York Yankees

Really a toss-up between them or the Toronto Blue Jays.

The Newman Award

San Diego Padres
On Seinfeld, Newman was the mailman arch-enemy of Jerry Seinfeld. Newman seemed to be a pest to various characters including George, Elaine, and Mrs. Seinfeld. The San Diego Padres are the pest of baseball right now. They have superb pitching and seem to be a team nobody wants to face. They don't hit all that way, but they find a way to manufacture runs. They have no discrenable talent, but they are doing pretty well off for themselves, just the way Newman does on Seinfeld. As the prototype for a pesty team in baseball, the San Diego Padres are the clear and obvious winners of the Newman Award. Also to no one's surprise, Newman's picture was the one that gave me the most trouble putting up. Newman!

The Bania Award

Baltimore Orioles

On Seinfeld, Kenny Bania was the awful comedian who always seemed to annoy Jerry. He had a 12-minute bit on Ovalteen, and somehow, that was the least of his problems. Jerry would say that he was the worst comedian out there. So in honor of Bania and his futility, the Bania award has to go to the team with the worst record in baseball, the Baltimore Orioles. At 29-60, they are already 28 games out of first place. It is July. They can't hit. They can't field. They can't pitch. They can't run. They can't field. Their starting pitchers outings feel like 12-minute bits on ovalteen, because they are awful and seem as if they are never going to end. The Baltimore Orioles are atrocious. Just like Bania!

Real 1st Half Awards that don't have to do with Seinfeld....

AL MVP- Miguel Cabrera

NL MVP- Joey Votto

AL Cy Young- David Price
NL Cy Young- Ubaldo Jiminez

AL Rookie- Brennan Boesch

NL Rookie- Stephen Strasburg

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

George Steinbrenner: 1930-2010

It is not unreasonable to say that George Michael Steinbrenner was the most alienating sports figure of the past thirty years. Some of his acts while owner of the Yankees were poor, cruel, and even illegal at some times. You cannot ignore that. But Steinbrenner revolutionized the Owner position in professional sports. He made baseball become a legitimate business where money flowed freely. Even it meant that baseball became top-heavy. Steinbrenner's dominance in baseball were based upon his discernible personality qualities. These made him into the man that created the modern business of baseball.

George Steinbrenner made the New York Yankees into a giant monster, as some of his advisories would call it. He bought the franchise for almost $9 million, and died with the franchises value almost $2 billion. His creation of a media network just for his baseball team, although unheard of at the time, is one of the smartest business moves of the 21st century. Steinbrenner re legitimized the Yankee organization following a rough patch in the early 1970's. In this article, it will be shown how Steinbrenner's rise to power and dominance was done through just simple personality traits. Everything he said and did made him into the man that owned more than just the Yankees.


"Winning is the most important thing in my life, after breathing. Breathing first, winning next."

George Steinbrenner would put other owners to shame with his competitive streak. Steinbrenner would go overboard a lot however, with this desire to win. He would sign and trade at will. Fire and rehire coaches and other staff members whenever he wasn't pleased. Sometimes these would work, other times they wouldn't. But there was absolutely no denying that Steinbrenner wanted to win no matter what. As a Yankee's fan who fell in love with the team in the late 90's, at the height of their championship run, Steinbrenner's willingness to win was one of the things that brought me into the team. But after the 2001 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks, Steinbrenner went insane. Signings of questionable free agents like Carl Pavano and Jaret Wright led some, including myself, to believe that Steinbrenner was going to far with his power. You see, Steinbrenner had to have unlimited power. He had to manipulate general managers and managers because he wanted to win so bad. Without Steinbrenner, it is easy to say that the Yankees do not win the championship of the 90's. But it also easy to say that King George's dominance over the organization led to those championships being won in spite of him, which I will get to later in the article.


George was very loyal to his city, there is no denying that. The amount of players and managers he brought in should have satisfied the public. But the problem with George is that he was not always loyal to those players and managers he brought in. Sure he had moments:

"It's not right to say send Darryl Strawberry to prison. What did he do?...He has a sickness. A disease. If you want to go after people, go after the... people who who are selling the stuff."

That defense of Strawberry was a noble thing of Steinbrenner to do, as Strawberry was struggling through a tough time where no one outside of Steinbrenner wanted to give him another chance. Strawberry would go on to be a vital part of the Yankee dynasty in the late 90's.

Although Mount Steinbrenner showed he could be somewhat caring, he could erupt faster than any volcano on Earth. He would fire employees for not ordering his lunch correctly. He would bash players (Dave Winfield, most notably) for not performing immediately. When I think of how Winfield was ripped and called "Mr. May", I wonder how he would have gone after Alex Rodriguez when he struggled in the postseason previously. A-Rod would have been gone, no matter what the contract, if Mount Steinbrenner was healthy. To me, the firing of Yogi Berra is one of the worst things an owner has done in the history of professional sports. After going 6-10 to start the season, Yogi was fired in 1985. Yogi vowed never to return to New York afterword. For the love of God, this is YOGI BERRA. Yogi is the Yankees. He thirteen World Series as a player and coach, what more do you want? How can you even get mad at Yogi? Have you ever looked Yogi, the most adorable eighty year old man in the world? Yogi has given so much to the franchise, and to treat him like dirt is horrible. Absolutely horrible.

My other problem with in this category is with Billy Martin. The way Steinbrenner played this guy is one of the morally worst things I have ever seen. All this man wanted to do was coach and be around the New York Yankees, and Steinbrenner played this man like a fiddle.

Steinbrenner tried so hard to be loyal to his city by bringing in all these players and managers, trying always to win, he overlooked being loyal to his employees. One of his famous quotes was

"When it comes to hiring, number one for me is loyalty."

Steinbrenner not only wanted to be loyal to his city, but he wanted people loyal to himself.


To George Steinbrenner, loyalty and competitiveness were the two most important things in the world. He always wanted to win, for the city of New York. But at the same time, he would do these things at the expense of the employees, and sometimes the city, a point I brought up earlier. As far as the city was concerned, sometimes they were brought to their knees by Steinbrenner's unholy desire to win. During that stretch of 2002-2006, so many horrible free agents were brought in, we though Steinbrenner had gone mad. He was giving away top prospects left and right, and spending money freely. It wasn't until he relinquished control of the Yankees in 2006 where the Yankees drafted smarter and kept their young and picked up guys who they knew would succeed. In fact, one could argue that in 2009, the Yankees won the Series in spite of Steinbrenner's destruction of the team in the early 2000's.

Steinbrenner was the definition of an imperfect man. He cared for his family, whether that was his real family or his players. He wanted to win so badly, and loved the city of New York. He loved children and gave back to various charities. At the same time, he was a crazy person, to say the least, one absorbed with winning. Sure he did some bad things, but he made the Yankees in the most dominant sports franchise today. The YES Network has brought much of the Yankees revenue in, and is one of the smarter business decisions of the decade. Due to the luxury tax that baseball has, Steinbrenner has given money to the low-market clubs, keeping them a float. One of the quotes I read that is now extremely ironic, but sums up George's life and personality perfectly.

"I don't have heart attacks, I give them."

I remember George mainly by his character on Seinfeld. He was not around much when I first became a fan, so I now remember Steinbrenner by reruns and through syndication. "Hire this man!" Rest in peace, George.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Worst Baseball Hall of Famers. Of All-Time

Baseball is stranger than other sports when it comes to its Hall of Fame, and for a few reasons. Simply put, baseball has some pretty bad hall-of-famers. Not Mario Mendoza bad, but bad enough that some can be considered travesties by the hardcore baseball fan. Now I say hardcore because usually these undeserving players are so obscure that only the most fervant fan has even heard of them. The football and basketball Hall-of-Fames are really exclusive clubs. They allow only the best of the best and don't make exceptions. But it for its first thirty years the baseball Hall-of-Fame seemed to induct anyone who batted over .300 or did pretty good in the old Negro Leagues! Some players made it in on pure nostalgia.

Cooperstown houses so many average players that it could create its own Wing of Mediocrity. My choices for enshrinement would include the following.

Honorable mentions:

First Baseman: Harmon Killebrew. This seems like a strange choice. After all, Killebrew hit 573 home runs and was known for absolute tape measure shots. He batted .256, by far the worst batting average of any hall of famer. In my opinion, he was a 1960's version of Adam Dunn. Adam Dunn will likely hit 500+ home runs at the pace he is at now, but is he a hall of famer? Not a chance.

Tony Perez: One of those guys who gets made out to be better than he really is. Lifetime average of .279, with 379 home runs. That may seem like a lot, but remember that it is seven less than the immortal Harold Baines.

Now here we are to the real list.....
Starting Pitcher(s): Phil Niekro, Burleigh Grimes and Chief Bender.

Phil Niekro arguably has the most inflated stats of any pitcher, barring those from the Dead Ball era. He went 318-274 in 24 major league season. Only a five-time all-star, which seems absurdly low for a guy who pitched that long, Niekro spent the majority of his career doctoring baseballs, which has to drop him down in the eyes of baseball aficionados. Burleigh Grimes was the Phil Niekro of the 1920's. He had 270 wins, but that was a large part due to his doctored pitches. After the spitball was banned in 1920, Grimes was "grandfathered" and allowed to throw the pitch even though it was illegal to everyone else. Now to end with Chief Bender. Bender had 212 career wins, which is a very low number for a hall of fame pitcher in the Deadball era. To me, a guy like Jim Kaat, who has over 260 wins, should be in the hall, if Bender was selected solely on wins. Bender seemed like an average pitcher in the easiest pitching era in baseball history.

First Baseman: Orlando Cepeda

Orlando Cepeda is basically a worse version of our honorable mention, Tony Perez. He had exactly the same amount of home runs as Perez, and was a far worse fielder. Cepeda made 21 errors in 1963. Let me remind everyone he is playing first base, a position where players regularly finish with fielding percentages well over .995. He was bad in the postseason, a lifetime .207 hitter. He also grounded into 24 double plays his last full season in the league, to lead baseball. According to, Cepeda's career is similar to that of the legendary Andres Galarraga. Andres Galarraga was the "Big Cat". Baseball fans in 70's missed out on a prime opportunity to name Cepeda the "O.C.". Maybe that would have helped.

Second Baseman: Johnny Evers

One of the few people in the history of the world have been chosen into elite groups solely on their being in a poem. Every single member of the "Tinkers-Evers-Chance" infield of the 1910's Cubs are in the hall, primarily because of the nostalgia that older baseball writers had of this infield. All of them really do not belong in the hall, but Evers selection is particularly appalling. Evers had a .270 lifetime average, 12 career home runs, and 538 RBI's. Now, 12 home runs may seem like a lot at first glance, but it is four less than pitcher Mike Hampton has had during his career. Evers only had 1,659 hits in 18 professional seasons, an average of 92 hits a season. That is horrible. He did the lead the league once in an important category in 1914, being ejected 9 times, a single-season record. While players like Kaat, Gil Hodges and Bert Blyleven are not in the hall, it is even worse that Evers made it.

Third Baseman: Ray Dandridge

Nothing against Dandridge who was one of the most feared hitters and fielders in the Negro Leagues, but third base is a pretty strong position as far as hall of famers are concerned, with George Brett, Brooks Robinson, and Mike Schmidt leading the way. My only problem with Dandridge (along with other Negro Leaguers), is that he never played in the MLB. Obviously, this was beyond his control, but I do have some trouble with players who never participated in the highest level of their sport. Dandridge did nothing wrong, its just he happened to be the most questionable choice in a very strong position.

Shortstop: Pee Wee Reese
Reese was helped a lot by his inflated public perception. He was perceived for years after his retirement as this flawless fielder, which eventually led to his election to the hall in 1999. Too bad this just is not true. Reese had a very poor .962 career fielding percentage, horrible even for a position where the ball is hit the most out of any. A lifetime .269 hitter, he hit 126 home runs and a putrid career slugging percentage of .377, which nowadays is considered a good on-base percentage. Pee Wee may also have had the single worst season in baseball history, when in 1941, he made 47 errors, batted .229 and had an OBP of .311. Not very good.

Left Field: Ralph Kiner

Now Ralph Kiner is probably the most well-known person on this list. My grievance with Kiner is that he only played ten years. Now, you can go on to say Sandy Koufax played ten years and his hall of fame-ishness is not up for debate. And it isn't. Sandy Koufax could have played five years and I would have put him up for election. Ralph Kiner is not the same as Sandy Koufax, one of the five greatest pitchers who've ever lived. Ralph Kiner had 369 career home runs in ten season, and had one of the best at-bats to home run ratio of all time. A .279 career hitter, Kiner is very similar to you guessed it, Adam Dunn. Dunn has put up 338 career home runs in just as many season as Kiner. Odds are, barring an injury, Dunn will be within ten home runs of Kiner by the end of the season. The primary reason for Kiner's induction is his home run ratio. But once again, he is a guy with similar career statistics to Adam Dunn. And is Adam Dunn a hall of famer? No.

Centerfield: Earl Averill

Averill is not as putrid as some of the other inductees on this list. He had a respectable .318 career batting average, hit 238 home runs and drove in 1,164 runs. This may serve well if he was a shortstop, but he was a centerfielder, a mainstay in the major league lineup. This position has had greats like Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Duke Snider and Joe DiMaggio. You cannot tell me that Earl Averill compares to those four guys. Averill played in the 1930's, an era in which hitting was inflated a lot. His numbers just do not compare to other centerfielders who played around his time. He also had a .970 career fielding percentage, a percentage that is awful for outfielders. Averill is also that owner of the 130th best on-base plus slugging percentage of all-time. Averill was good, just not as good as everyone else who played centerfield.

Right Field: Sam Crawford

I am going to be honest. I did not even read any of his stats. I just took a look at the picture the Baseball Hall of Fame gives for him, and I decided there could be no one worse who played right field than him. For all I know, he could have hit 500 home runs, hit over .400, and was a United States Senator for a short period of time. I just saw this picture and said this is not a hall of famer.

Anyone who holds a bat the way Darth Maul held his light saber in Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace should not be a hall of famer. Well that rounds out the list of the Hall of Not-famers (Yeah, that sounded good!). Comment below on any grievances or omissions with the list.