In the wake of a Hurricane

. Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Let me start off by saying that anytime a 24-year old dies unexpectedly, it's a sad story. Former Miami Hurricane and Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor is no different. 

For those of you who don't know, Taylor was shot in his home Monday morning by what was originally thought to be a would-be robber. Although the bullet hit Taylor in the leg, it ruptured a major artery and he died lying in a hospital bed Tuesday morning. 

Like I said, his death alone makes for a sad story. What makes it downright depressing is that the events leading up to his death aren't nearly as cut and dry as original reports made them out to be.

Monday was apparently the second time over the past few weeks in which someone had broken into Taylor's home. Nothing was stolen either time and the only notable item that had been displaced was large knife that was laid on his bed after the first break-in. 

Let's recap: two break-ins, nothing stolen, knife left on the bed the first time and a shot to the leg the second. No offense Miami-Dade Police, but scrap you burglary theory. This reeks of intentional and well-calculated malice. But something did go wrong. You don't shoot a man in the leg at close range if you're trying to kill him. In that sense, the shooter is in for more than he bargained for. Then again, so are we. 

The layers of this story are stacked a mile high and more will continue to be pulled back as this investigation moves forward. But for now, we have a pretty informed opinion as to the "what" in all of this. What I and everyone else wants to know is the "why."

Taylor was a man with whose morals were often questioned early in his career after he left Miami with a rap sheet longer than the concession lines at the stadiums in which he played. That's not to say that people are incapable of change. Familial obligations often spur that in young people and Taylor was no exception. He had a daughter. He was engaged to the mother of his child. New York Giants tight end and former Miami Hurricane Jeremy Shockey said he said that change in Taylor. Another former college teammate of Taylor's, Washington Redskins running back Clinton Portis said "ever since he had a child, it was like a new Sean." By all accounts from Taylor's former college and professional teammates, he was a man who was well on his way to turning his life around. He had managed to maintain his edge on the field while smoothing out the troubled wrinkles of his life off of it. However, the point has astutely been made that just because you try and leave parts of your own life behind, doesn't mean that others are readily willing to let you do so. 

Like I said, nothing about this is right. Some might say even the timing of this post isn't right. Then again, when would it be? Let's face it, there is, nor will there ever be, an ideal time for this. Simply put, We can't canonize any and all people who have their lives taken from them. Is it a shame that events surrounding Taylor's death seem as obscured and shady as the those of the trouble past he sought to leave behind? Of course it is. Did anyone see this coming? Maybe, though the vast majority did not. But would you honestly be surprised if this does in fact prove to be more than a random act of violence or a robbery gone array? Would it be so shocking to discover that the people responsible for this have some kind of a connection to Taylor's muddied past? 

Like I said, anytime a 24-year old dies unexpectedly, it's a sad story. But keep the facts in mind. Keep Taylor's past in mind. Don't rush in to grieve for a man because he was a 24-year-old public figure. Grieve for him because of what that man did in his 24 years of life. And honestly, at this points, I think very few of us know for a fact that Taylor was a man worth grieving for. 

The race for the Heisman

. Sunday, November 25, 2007

This weekend was as wild as any in college football this season. The #1 team in the country fell once again as LSU lost to Arkansas, 50-48 in a triple overtime thriller. The loss helped muddy up the national title picture even more, but from what I understand, if Missouri and West Virginia win out, they will face off in what will probably be the lowest rated National Championship game ever. West Virginia is a fun team to watch, but I just can't get all that excited about this potential match up.

What also became muddy was the Heisman trophy race. Darren McFadden, Tim Tebow and Chase Daniel all had "statement games" to lead their teams to victory. Here's my top four (four instead of five, because these four are the only ones with a real chance to win it)..

1.) Darren McFadden, RB, Arkansas - 1,725 rushing yards, 20 total TDs
I can say with some certainty that McFadden is the best player in college football and should be the top pick in next year's NFL draft. He had been on the outside looking in for the last couple of weeks but after basically single handedly taking down LSU with a 206 yard, 4 TD performance last week, he should vault back up to the top of the Heisman list.

2.) Tim Tebow, QB, Florida - 3,132 passing yards, 838 rushing yards, 29 passing TD's, 22 rushing TDs.
First player to ever throw and run for 20 TD's each in the same season. It's hard to argue against him, but I think he'll run into trouble because Heisman voters hate to vote for underclassmen to win the Heisman. For those voters who, because of that, were looking for a reason to vote against Tebow, McFadden's performance against LSU gave them every reason to switch their vote over to him. I don't think this is Tebow's year to win it, but they can pretty much give him the 2008 Heisman right now if they want to.

3.) Chase Daniel, QB, Missouri - 3,931 yards, 33 TD
Daniel (not Daniels) shot himself way up the charts with his 40-of-49, 361 yard, 3 TD performance against Kansas. Who would have thought this guy would be anywhere near the Heisman discussion to begin the season? The success Missouri has had, coupled with his nearly flawless game against Kansas will have him in the minds of voters, but I can't see him getting it over McFadden or Tebow.

4.) Patrick White, QB, West Virginia - 1,498 pass yards, 1,144 rush yards, 12 passing TDs, 12 rushing TDs
White is the prototype for the new spread option offense that is sweeping college football. He leads a very explosive offense but his numbers just don't stack up to those of Tebow and he hasn't had that one signature game against a critical opponent like McFadden and Daniel had this weekend.

All things considered, this will probably be the closest Heisman race ever, because you can make legitimate cases for all four candidates, which isn't usually the case. Tebow was leading late in the season but I think McFadden takes it after his performance to help knock off the top-ranked Tigers. Have no fear Gator fans, it will be Tebow's next year.

And hey, if you were thinking about voting against McFadden, remember one thing - HE GOT DAT WOOD~!..

Early season success: For real or fraud?

. Wednesday, November 21, 2007

During this past summer, while many Los Angeles Laker fans (including me) were waiting for general manager Mitch Kupchak and owner Jerry Buss to make a blockbuster trade for disgruntled ex-Minnesota Timberwolve forward Kevin Garnett, first-year player Jordan Farmar was busy taking yoga classes. While many Laker fans were calling for Kupchak's termination when his ineptitude caused Garnett to slip into the hands of the Lakers' dreaded historical rivals, the Boston Celtics, Andrew Bynum was somewhere in the gym, getting bigger and stronger. It seems to be paying off.

Although the Celtics (8-1) are off to their best start since the days of Larry Legend, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish, the Lakers (7-3) are not that far behind. Although it may be early in the season for anyone to gauge how good or how bad a team is, no one can deny that the Lakers are far from a lottery team at this point. While some people are quick to point out the excellent record that the Lakers had going into the second half of last season that turned into a seventh seed playoff team that was unceremoniously defeated by the Phoenix Suns in the first round of the playoffs, there is a vast difference between the Lakers of this year and last. If the bench play of the team continues to be consistent throughout the season, the Lakers will not only advance further into the playoffs, they will climb back into the ranks of the elite teams of the NBA.

In addition to Farmar, who is averaging 10 points coming off the bench and Bynum, who is averaging 11 points, the trade for Trevor Ariza provides a much needed defensive presence for players such as Shawn Marion, Manu Ginobili and Josh Howard, players on Western Conference teams who are known to give the Lakers a hard time. Ariza also provides more athleticism than Brian Cook and Maurice Evans combined.

In order to quell Kobe Bryant's demands to be traded, the play of the bench with the leadership of Farmar, has to play like it doesn't have Bryant to bail the team out. With that said, the Lakers might never win a championship with Kobe Bryant again, but they need to play like contenders, which they are doing so far.

Just say no to Cabrera

. Tuesday, November 20, 2007

This blog won't only be about west coast sports, but I figured what better way to start things out than by slamming one of our own hometown Los Angeles idiots.

It's the MLB off-season, the only off-season of the three major American sports that may be more exciting than the current on-field product.

Of course, the off-season means that baseball's many brain dead general manager's will once again get to rear their ugly heads. Guys who used to fleece the computer in trades on the Madden NFL video game and think it's just that easy in real life.

So, speaking of Ned Colletti, his Los Angeles Dodgers are the center of discussion to bring in a power hitter. All you need to know about Ned Colletti is that he learned from San Francisco Giants GM Brian Sabean, the master of trading away talented young players for complete garbage. The Sabean-Colletti conglomerate's claim to fame was trading away Francisco Liriano, Joe Nathan and Boof Bonser for one glorious year of AJ PIERZYNSKI.

Now, I'm not trying to compare Miguel Cabrera to Pierzynski, they aren't even on the same planet talent-wise. Cabrera is 24 years old and already one of the best hitters in baseball. It's a pretty good bet that he's going to be Manny Ramirez for the next 10-15 years.

Yet, with all that, the Dodgers still shouldn't trade for him.

It's rumored that the Florida Marlins want at least three players from the Dodgers' core group of young players that includes: Matt Kemp, James Loney, Andy LaRoche, Chad Billingsly, Andre Ethier and Double A lefty pitcher Clayton Kershaw.

Trading any two of those players for Cabrera would be too much (OK, I'd do Ethier-LaRoche for Cabrera, but no more). For a variety of reasons, the first of which being MONEY. It's kind of funny that a Los Angeles team would need to be concerned about money, but they call owner Frank McCourt "McCheap" for a reason, he's a bit of a penny pincher. Cabrera is due for a monster contract in two years while all of the aforementioned Dodgers are locked into cheap minor league contracts for the next 4-5 years.

Yes, it would be nice to get a player like Cabrera, but if you have to trade Matt Kemp, Andy LaRoche and Chad Billingsly to get him, is it really worth it? You're getting a power hitter but in doing that, you're creating two more holes on the team in right field and starting pitcher.

Coletti seems to be the only GM in baseball that doesn't want Matt Kemp, a guy who could potentially turn into a Miguel Cabrera. Kemp was reportedly offered to Florida last year in a package for Cabrera that the Marlins turned down. He was also reportedly the center piece of trade talks when the Dodgers were attempting to acquire Mark Teixeira last year. A current ESPN Insider rumor has the Dodgers offering Kemp to the fucking SAN DIEGO PADRES. For what, I have no clue, but looking over their roster I can't imagine anyone (sans Jake Peavy) coming back in that deal that wouldn't make me want to shoot myself in the head.

Of course, knowing his history with the Sabean and the Giants, he's probably using Kemp as a bargaining chip to bring back Jose Cruz Jr.

What the Dodgers need is a center fielder. Torii Hunter plays the position and is available (Aaron Rowand is too, but he sucks). It's real simple, sign Hunter and then play the kids. Get rid of Luis Gonzalez, get rid of Nomar and get rid of Jeff Kent if he insists on being a pain in the ass. It may not show this year, but it's a move that will pay huge dividends in the future.


1. Rafael Furcal, SS
2. James Loney, 1B
3. Russell Martin, C
4. Matt Kemp, LF
5. Torii Hunter, CF
6. Jeff Kent, 2B
7. Andre Ethier, RF
8. Andy LaRoche, 3B
9. Pitcher

Earlier today, I ran across THIS link. It's a couple of days old and the Mets have since agreed to a contract with Luis Castillo to play second base, but it was the photo caption that caught my eye.

David Eckstein is thought to be seeking a four-year contract worth about $36 million.

Seriously? You'd have to be a complete moron to give that much money to such a relatively useless player. I don't think $36 million is the going rate for "grit" and "moxie" these days, is it?