December 9, 2013

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The Week in Sports

By: Anson Whaley

Seattle Mariners roll the dice with Robinson Cano: We’ve seen insane baseball deals before and one would think that with Alex Rodriguez’ contract turning into a disaster and Albert Pujols on the decline after signing his monster contract that Major League Baseball teams would finally learn a lesson. The Seattle Mariners, though, remained undeterred by those warning shots and promptly signed New York Yankees’ second baseman Robinson Cano to a ten-year $240 million deal. Cano’s a fine player and one of the best second basemen in all of baseball, but that’s a big, big number. To be fair, in 2013, he led all American League players at that position by a wide margin in home runs, RBI, and batting average. Cano’s obviously extremely valuable but the chances that this contract will turn into a mistake remain high. The infielder is still in his prime, but at 31, that won’t last long. It’s a scary thought what Cano will be doing five years from now at 36, but ten? He’ll be 41 when this deal is over and paying a player tens of millions of dollars past the age of 40 is borderline suicide.

Albert Pujols

Albert Pujols hasn't been as dominant since joining the Angels. How will Robinson Cano perform in Seattle?

New York Yankees to feature new look in 2014: Speaking of Cano, the New York Yankees will have a new look in 2014. Not only did they allow their second baseman to walk, but they also let Curtis Granderson sign with the New York Mets. That doesn’t mean the free-spending Yanks aren’t ready to make any moves in the offseason, though. New York first dropped a bombshell, signing Jacoby Ellsbury away from the Boston Red Sox to a seven-year deal worth $153 million. They also scooped up catcher Brian McCann and most recently, signed outfielder Carlos Beltran to a three-year $45 million deal. Those moves won’t guarantee success but if nothing else, New York will have a significantly different look in 2014.

Florida State and Auburn will square off for title: The Ohio State Buckeyes had their chance to play for the BCS Championship, but let it slip through their fingers in a 34-24 season-ending loss to Michigan State this weekend. That opened the door for the SEC Championship winner and Auburn routed Missouri in a 59-42 win to move into college football’s title game. There will be those that still favor Alabama over Auburn, but the Tigers certainly deserve to play for the championship after their wacky victory over the Crimson Tide. Auburn could present a stiff challenge but Florida State has just rolled over everyone they’ve faced this season – I’ll take the Seminoles in this one.

Steve Sarkisian becomes next USC football coach: The USC Trojans have their next football coach after hiring Steve Sarkiaian last week. The move raised some eyebrows to be certain as USC took a bit of a risk on this hire. Sarkisian does have major college football experience, having served the last five seasons as the head coach of the Washington Huskies, but didn’t have a ton of success there. To be fair, he did have four winning seasons in his five years there … but just barely. Three of those seasons, he was a modest 7-6 and his career 34-29 record hardly is much of an inspiration for a program with as much prestige as USC football. The hire may work out, but there’s no question the new coach has a lot to prove.

He’s back – Kobe returns in loss on Sunday: The Los Angeles Lakers got their star back over the weekend as Kobe Bryant returned to play his first game since his ACL injury. Bryant’s time was limited and he had only nine points in a loss to the 7-12 Toronto Raptors. The guard played 28 minutes and was clearly a bit rusty, shooting only 2-9 from the field and racking up a monster eight turnovers. You can expect some more rusty play out of him as well as limited minutes to start until he can get going.

Matt Prater hits record field goal: The Denver Broncos trailed the Tennessee Titans in the first half of their game on Sunday, but they recovered in part from an NFL-record field goal kicked by Matt Prater. Prater connected on a 64-yarder, breaking the league record of 63 yards held by four players. The feat is an amazing one to be sure, but don’t be surprised if the record falls in the near future. With kickers’ legs getting stronger, Prater’s record might not stand for long. After all, David Akers and Sebastian Janikowski, both kicked 63-yard field goals in each of the past two seasons and Prater’s kick on Sunday marked the third consecutive year that feat was achieved.

Gary Kubiak fired as Houston Texans’ coach: The Houston Texans have had a rocky year and as the season comes to a close, the franchise canned their head coach Gary Kubiak as a result. The move was understandable as the Texans not only had a subpar year, but a downright horrible one. The team was 2-11 at the time of Kubiak’s firing – good enough for worst in the league. When you factor in that Houston was 12-4 last season and reached the Divisional round of the NFL playoffs, the team clearly expected more and woefully disappointed this season. The Texans had a few problems in that quarterback Matt Schaub was injured and subsequently benched, and All-Pro running back Arian Foster was placed on injured reserve with a back injury. Still, to go from 12-4 to a 2-11 record (including 11 consecutive losses) is disastrous and it’s little surprise that someone had to pay the price.