Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Return of Michael Vick?

What Mike Vick did what with the dog-fighting was not cool. In addition, his issues with drug possession (really, Mike? you were the highest paid player in the NFL, you couldn't buy some pot when you got home?) and his complete inability to learn the West Coast offense are negatives. And who can forget Ron Mexico?

Now all that being said, Vick is a freak of an athlete.

And, in part because of Bill Simmons' most recent article and in part because I think about these things instead of doing stuff like school, I was thinking about Vick and his career after prison.

Allegedly Vick has been staying in shape (not really a surprise, what else is there to do in prison?). Now he's definitely not in football shape, but a great athlete like Vick can get there relatively soon methinks. Now Vick clearly doesn't have a future with the Falcons, and he wasn't exactly a great passer before his incarceration, and prison football isn't exactly the best place for honing your skills. But Vick does have a future. Why?

The Miami Dolphins.

This season, the Miami Dolphins have completely rejuvenated their franchise. The arrival of Bill Parcells and his main man Tony Sparano has changed the entire attitude of the franchise. In addition, returns to health from Joey Porter, Chad Pennington, and Ronnie Brown have been key and top draft pick Jake Long has been nothing short of stellar. But perhaps the most interesting part of their season-long improvement has been the introduction of the Wildcat offense. The Wildcat is the closest thing the NFL has to the option attack (which could never work in the NFL because all defenders are far too athletic). With a runningback taking snaps, any rushing play becomes an 11 on 11 play (as opposed to the standard 10 on 11 rushing plays where a QB is usually eliminated). In addition, it can creat a number of trick plays with double passes 'n such.

Michael Vick is the perfect QB to run the Wildcat. He's the fast man to ever play QB. He has a cannon, though it's not always accurate. It's like this offense was created solely for the purpose of a hybrid runner/thrower like Vick. Imagine the possibilities. All a team needs to do is invest in quick and athletic linemen, a decent pounding back for icing games, a speed back, and sign Vick to some real cheap contract and draft a late-round running QB (like Pat White or Juice Williams) and have them split snaps and you've got the most innovative offense since Sammy Baugh started making it cool to throw the ball.

And really, what does a team like the 49ers or Rams or Lions have to lose?

Friday, November 21, 2008



Huh...I guess so...

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Snow Is Nice

But George Is Nicer

Two Baseball-related items

First: I encourage all to read Michael Weinreb's brief piece for Page 2 on Bill Veeck, truly one of the most influential and important persons not only to baseball but modern sport as a whole. I also encourage anyone interested to follow up on Veeck and learn what you can.

Veeck deserves credit for the single best summation as to why some teams play better than others despite any economic advantages or disadvantages (kinda my thing, in case that was in question): "It isn't the high price of stars that is expensive; it's the high price of mediocrity."

Second (and more directly related to baseball): This could be the number one reason the Phillies might not repeat next season- Chase Utley may be out until June, following hip surgery.

It's very easy to point to Jimmy Rollins, the loudmouthed shortstop and former MVP, or Ryan Howard, the slugging first baseman and former MVP, or Cole Hamels, the ace who led the team to the promised land as the World Series MVP, as keys to the Phillies success. But if you really examine the team, there is only one player who can qualify as their best: Utley. Utley has posted a career .901 OPS, a great number at any position, but out of this world at 2b, where he also provides great defense. In addition, he instantly makes that whole lineup better. Rollins, while a very good player, is not a scary bat. Howard, though possibly the strongest man in the majors, can be pitched around (try a curveball). Utley is a complete threat. If the Mets retool (like they should and would were they run with any amount of competance), it will be tough to keep pace without Utley.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

So long, Moose.

Earlier today, Mike Mussina decided to call it a career.

Mussina pitched for the Orioles and the Yankees during his stellar 18-year career. He finished his career with 270 wins, a 3.68 ERA, 2813 strikeouts, and a 1.192 WHIP. He was a 5-time All Star and won 7 Gold Gloves, including for this past season, tying him with Mark Langston (really?) for 5th most all-time. The past year, he became the fifth pitcher to have his first 20 win season in the final year of his career, and was also the first to win his 20th game in the final start of his career. Mussina hold the record for winning the most games in a career without having a 20-win season. He also took two perfect games into the ninth inning (I was at one of them).

Mussina is, in my mind, a Hall of Famer. He never was a Cy Young winner. He never threw that no-hitter or perfect game. Only in his last season did he win 20 games. He never won a World Series. But Moose was always consistent and always classy. He amassed career numbers that qualify him for the Hall. His 270 wins are good enough for 33rd all-time and he's 19th all-time in strikeouts. His K/BB ratio of 3.58 is a great 13th all-time, and his career winning percentage, a stellar .638 (prorated over 162 games: 103.356 wins a season) is tied with Jim Palmer, another Orioles great. Keep in mind too that Mussina pitched for some truly terrible Orioles teams and when he moved to the Yankees, he was often the recipient of poor run-support. In addition, Moose was always a classy guy about whom nothing bad could be said. He was never too flashy and it was always about the team with him.
One game in particular can sum up Mussina's career: Game 3 of the 1997 ALCS. Moose pitched brilliantly, striking out 15 in just 7 innings. However, he was nearly matched by Orel Hershiser and the game was blown in the 12th inning by the bullpen and Lenny Webster (I didn't want to talk about then, and I don't want to now). Mussina was always excellent, but overshadowed by others.

Mussina was always a hero of mine. Easily one of my favorite pitchers and one of the true stars of the mid-90s Orioles teams I cherished so much, Moose was the warrior at the front of the rotation that any team would want. Some say he sold his soul when he went to the Yankees and while I'm never a fan of anyone good playing for the team from the Bronx, people forget that Moose had every intention of staying in Baltimore and was even willing to give the Birds a discount for his wonderful services. But the Orioles management tried to take advantage of Mussina and low-balled him to the point of insult. (This would not be the first time, and certainly not the last that Peter Angelos has made me want to kill something.) But I remember playing baseball in the basement with my brother and dad and always wanting to be either Cal Ripken Jr, Brady Anderson (look into those sideburns and tell me you're not smitten), or Mussina. Other than perhaps Ken Griffey Jr, never have I so wanted a player from any team other than the O's to win a World Series as I did for Mussina.
So farewell, Moose, you will be missed and will always have a place in the hearts of true Orioles fans (the only kind left) and grateful Yankee fans (there should be so many more than there are) everywhere.