Saturday, October 20, 2007

What with the way the Cleveland Indians seem desperate to save Major League Baseball from the indignity of a World Series that somehow lacks a major market team despite the fact that both Denver and Cleveland are much bigger cities than Boston, I spent a lot of time searching for something to watch. The Illinois vs. Michigan game would have been a great candidate but for three serious questions.

First, why do the Marching Illini wear capes? Are they super heroes? Even the silly helmets on the USC band (the real USC not that disco with books that stands out for its subpar academic repute in the desert of ignorance that is the SEC) look far less ridiculous than the capes.

Second, could Brent Musberger be more biased in favor of the Michigan Wolverines? Ryan Mallet fumbled two snaps, and Musberger still raved about him as though he threw for 300 yards and 5 TDs. In the drive to respond to the Illin field goal which tied it at 17, Musberger raved about Mallett as though he led a drive reminiscent of Joe Montana's game winner in Super Bowl XXII. The only differences between the two drives, Michigan gained the bulk of its yards on the ground, not through the air, and the drive ended in an interception not a TD.

Third, why is it that no one talks about Rashard Mendenhall from Illinois as a potential Heisman candidate? I know Matt Ryan has the inside track because BC plays the very best Division 1-AA has to offer and a very bad Notre Dame team. Just because Illinois will have to wait until it plays Ball State to hope for some crumbs of attention in a Jason Whitlock piece doesn't mean Mendenhall hasn't earned some consideration.

I would be remiss if I didn't talk about the Red Sox game to some degree. There is some consolation for a person with my viewpoint in Curt Schilling's performance. It means that he basically can dictate his contract terms to Theo Epstein. Of course Theo lost any slight degree of leverage he had when Schilling put his house up for sale in September and started saying that he'd like to play in a place like Tampa. There is no way that Tampa is an empty threat. Schilling would definitely go to a team that will likely lost 90 games next season to pass the twilight of his career.

Of course no one can fairly blame Theo for being manipulated and outmaneuvered by a fraud who plays Everquest for hours on end. After all, getting into a bidding war with the Yankees for the services of Roger Clemens couldn't possibly hurt the club as it makes its decision to pursue or not pursue Schilling. There's no way offering a prorated $18 million to Clemens will embolden Curt Schilling.

In part, it made sense to offer Clemens that type of deal. Why not? There was a chance they could sign him. And making the Yankees go all the way up to $28 million (prorated, to be sure) was a big dent in the vast, vast, vast resources of the Bronx Bombers. After all, Boston had a lot of appeal to Clemens, with the patient, tolerant and very nearly but not quite human media and all. And Clemens really needed to break the tie with Cy Young for most wins in club history to cement his legacy right.

The question now becomes, given the humble bearing and equanimity with which Schilling approaches every situation, whether Schilling will be avaricious enough to demand certain concessions from the team. After all, it wouldn't surprise me with the way the team bent over backwards to throw money at guys who had nowhere near the track record Schilling brought with him when he signed in '04, if Schilling felt himself entitled to demand that his General Manager clean his pool or serve as human foot stool. Could it really be any more humiliating than paying JD Drew the remainder of his $70 million over the next four years, because the grand slam tonight didn't really wipe the slate clean?

Even if the Red Sox come all the way back to go to the World Series, is it going to change the fact that Julio Lugo was paid $8.3 to be 1/2 of a baseball player? Will their be no repercussions for that little anomaly? Will Jacoby Ellsbury pushing Coco Crisp out of the lineup be sloughed off as a curious but not unpleasant quirk of the game? I understand that Red Sox fans are hypocrites, but Red Sox Nation might want to think twice about ripping the Yankee spending machine, even if it might be more intellectual activity than would kill a Red Sox fan or two million.

And speaking of hypocrites, it's been too long since I ripped Jay Mariotti. There is something very sickening about this recent column Mariotti wrote ripping the Bears for the Adrian Peterson performance last week. It seemed to me as though Mariotti was implying that the Bears somehow passed on Peterson despite Mariotti's urging and giggling while he did it. Perhaps I'm not as intelligent as Mariotti is, but I just don't see how the Bears could have drafted Adrian Peterson.

In a sense, it's possible to say that the Bears passed on Peterson by not taking a trade with the Washington Redskins which would have given the Bears the sixth overall pick in return for Lance Briggs. Mariotti did call for the Bears to trade for that pick, but he called for the Bears to acquire that pick with the express purpose of drafting Ohio State wide receiver/kick returner Ted Ginn Jr.

Ted Ginn is not playing particularly well right now, to be charitable. Moreover, he would provide the Bears with an adequate player whose skills might overlap with Devin Hester and Bernard Berrian without providing an upgrade on either player. Perhaps Adrian Peterson would do a better job running behind this offensive line than Cedric Benson, but there is no way to prove that. However, given the fact that Mariotti is a douche and universally loathed, perhaps it would serve his ends better to praise Cedric Benson than to bury him. Then, perhaps Benson would be benched.

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