Monday, May 14, 2007

The Next Big Thing

Dan Shaughnessey and Bob Ryan both have published PICKING UP THE PIECES columns within a couple of days, so apparently this is the next big thing to do this week as far as columns go. So, without further ado, here comes yet another boring piece in that same vein:

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A-Rod is on pace for 270, err 198, umm 150, uhh 125, I mean 98, that is 78, I guess its 65 home runs this season. All I can say is remember Chris Shelton in April for Detroit last year. A-Rod is a great player (I have to start sucking up now since he is likely the starting third-baseman for the Red Sox in 2008), but I point to the wisdom of Rob Neyer at who wrote on April 26 (no link as it is an ESPN Insider article):

I don't watch every Yankees game, nor have I spoken to Mr. Rodriguez this season (or for that matter, ever). I certainly would acknowledge the possibilities that he has made some technical adjustment, and that he does have a different attitude this spring, and that one or both of these changes have contributed to his amazing start.
But I would like to suggest another possibility. Alex Rodriguez is one of the greatest players we've ever seen. Great players, purely as a function of basic probability, occasionally will put together phenomenal three- and four-week stretches. In 2002, from Aug. 11 through Sept. 8, Rodriguez hit 16 homers and drove in 33 runs. In 2005, from July 5 through Aug. 5, Rodriguez hit 16 homers and drove in 30 runs. Of course, his current run -- 14 homers and 39 RBI in 19 games -- must dwarf anything he's done before. But we're not talking about Neifi Perez here. Great players will sometimes do things that seem amazing, even by their own lofty standards

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Jason Marquis, is 5-1 for the Cubbies with a sub-2.00 ERA. Saw him pitch the other night and was amazed at the way he mowed down the opposition. OK, the opposition was the Pittsburg Pirates, but even so, he was bearing down in a 1-0 game and looked the best free agent signing of the season.

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I refuse to kick the Yankees when they are down. Polite? Heck, no! As Johnny Lennon once said: Instant Karma is Gonna Get Ya. The Yankees fans should stay positive: they still have the inside track at the wild card with the Blue Jays and the Twins imploding this season.

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ESPN is running their ranking of the 50 Greatest Boxers of all time. Now, I know a bit of boxing history, but there are a lot of pugilists on the list I have only heard stories about and have not seen enough in action. Personally, I blame ESPNClassic for running fights from the late nineties under the heading of Classic Boxing. Seriously, I wonder how George Foreman snuck into the top 20 with Larry Holmes at 38. Yes, Mike Tyson deserves a spot snuck in at 50, but no Lennox Lewis? Also, Roberto Duran ahead of Sugar Ray Leonard? Heck, how do you put him ahead of Hearns and Hagler?

Although it smacks of the almost daily lists from the Best Damn Sports Show Period over on FSN, it should generate debate. Instead, it seems the debate has been muted. Not enough screaming Teddy Atlas or Jerry Punch on the airwaves for my tastes. Once again, boxing shows how far it has fallen as part of the American sports landscape.

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