January 27, 2014
Yanks get Tanaka: The New York Yankees were back to their free-spending ways, landing Japanese superstar pitcher Masahiro Tanaka. Last week, the club signed to a seven-year $155 million deal. Tanaka was an absolute gem in Japan, going 24-0 (as in, undefeated) with a 1.27 ERA last year. Clearly, we don’t know how those numbers will translate to the majors, but he was simply so dominant overseas that it’s hard to believe he won’t be a good pitcher. What we do know, however, is that he’ll be hard-pressed to be worth the $22 million per season he’ll get paid. To be worth that kind of money, he’ll need to be lights out for seven years … and I’m not sure he will be.
Australian Tennis Open Concludes: The Australian Tennis Open wrapped up over the weekend with a pair of unexpected champions. On the men’s side, Stan Wawrinka bested an injured Rafael Nadal in four sets. Li Na knocked off Dominika Cibulkova in straight sets to win the women’s title. Both are considered very good players, but navigating fields that included the world’s best players was a shock and few would have picked either to even reach the final.
Rice 22, Sanders 21: No, that’s not a one-on-one basketball score. Rather, it’s the score of the NFL’s Pro Bowl as Team Jerry Rice defeated Team Deion Sanders this weekend, 22 to 21. The Pro Bowl had already been viewed largely as a laughingstock, but this one really took the cake. In an effort to revamp the game, the NFL legends chose teams, conference affiliations out the window. Not only did it make it incredibly impossible to figure out where your favorite players were, it was just downright odd. Commissioner Roger Goodell previously thought about cancelling the game and frankly, that might have been a better idea. The fantasy draft thing just doesn’t make much sense and gives the game even less meaning. Teammates are even at odds with the new format and it really makes it difficult for fans to choose a side to root for now since their favorite players may be on different teams.
Jim Thome to get Statue: The Cleveland Indians announced recently that former All-Star Jim Thome would be immortalized with a statue outside of Progressive Field. Thome was one of the most popular players in recent memory for the team, but a statue just seems a bit odd in this case. For the record, Thome is the team’s all-time leader in home runs with 337 of them. Still, that’s barely half of his 612 dingers and the slugger played only a little more than half of his career with the team. Thome is a Hall of Famer and one of the best players in club history, but statues are generally best reserved for players that played the bulk of their career with a team. You can really even make a case that a player such as Lou Boudreau, who was a Hall of famer, an eight-time All-Star, a former MVP, and a member of the 1948 World Series team is more deserving of the honor than Thome.
Team Shut out … in Basketball: Shutouts are common in sports such as hockey, soccer, baseball, and even football. Basketball? That’s virtually unheard of. But it happened to a girls’ high school team when Leechburg lost to Ford City, PA 56-0. I’m all for competition, but Leechburg’s coach says that Ford City left their starters in the game well into the fourth quarter. If that’s the case, it’s inexcusable. Telling your team not to let up is one thing – and if you’re playing a college team, I think it’s a bit more fair game. In high school, however, you’re talking about kids. Playing your starters into the fourth quarter of a blowout game is akin to bullying. To be fair, Leechburg is bad. Real bad. In three of their prior four games, the team scored a grand total of 18 points. Even their coach admits he has virtually one player who can dribble the ball well. Still, at the high school level, we’re not talking about adults who get paid to do this for a living – we’re talking about kids who are in school. Pulling your starters at halftime with the game already out of control would have been the classier approach.
Carmelo Anthony goes off for 62 Points: It’s been a rough season for the New York Knicks, but star forward Carmelo Anthony gave fans something to cheer for last week. Anthony dropped 62 points on the Charlotte Bobcats in a 125-96 win. The career-high included a half-court shot and he also added 13 rebounds in the effort. Instead of contending for the title they hoped for, the team is struggling just to make the playoffs. In fact, if the season ended today, the Knicks would be on the outside looking in. Fortunately for them, New York is in the Eastern Conference and even their dismal 17-27 record still somehow makes them only a single game from the No. 8 seed. They might need more similar performances from Melo if they want to sneak into the postseason.
Win One Billion Dollars for a Perfect NCAA Bracket: We’ve all seen the contests to win thousands of dollars, or even $1 million, for a perfect NCAA Tournament bracket. Warren Buffet, though, figures he can top that. The billionaire is giving someone the chance to also, well, become a billionaire. If anyone (limited to the first ten million people) fills out a perfect bracket, Quicken Loans with the backing of Buffett, will pay them $1 billion. Still, don’t expect to win the prize. The odds are apparently in the neighborhood of one in nine quintillion – in other words, 1 in 9,000,000,000,000,000,000. Yeah, good luck with that.