Monday, October 29, 2007

Running Up the Score, Opting Out and Demanding Trades

Three sure-fire ways to make yourself look like a tool, make SportsCenter and taint your legacy. Tom Brady, Alex Rodriguez and Kobe Bryant are the three best players in their respective leagues and in the last week have again made headlines more for their overwhelming ability to flaunt their good fortune than for their accolades on the field.
There is a reason people respect Peyton Manning, Derek Jeter and Tim Duncan more than those guys. There is a reason that Manning, Jeter and Duncan have been the cornerstone of championship caliber teams for a decade and that while doing have received the respect of their fans, opponents and teammates. When it comes down to strength character, those three guys recognize that their achievements on the field are trivial when compared with being good people and teammates first.
Those first three clowns have their fans, because they win ballgames and do it with style, but looking back over their careers you find an arrogant sense of personal entitlement that they possess more so than any team goal they have ever been a part of. Maybe that's what you need to be the best of the best. Maybe that arrogance has made them the greatest at their position. Maybe that aggressive determination drives them into the record books. But looking at all the other successful players at their positions and all the successful athletes in other sports, you can find that same greatness without the immaturity and without the disrespect.

The Colts won't do this, because they have more class and an actual shot at beating the Patriots. But I hope the next time the Pats play some scrub team, the opposing defensive coordinator stacks eight guys in the box, runs their outside linebacker around Brady's blindside and drives him into the dirt. When you get pushed, you push back and just like knocking someone down with a high and inside fastball you remind Tom Brady and Bill Belichick that this is a fragile game and that their perfect 16-0 season rests in the hands of Tom Brady health. You hit them where it hurts and the only things that's gonna do that, is to take away their chance at the trophy.
The other two clowns, A-Rod and Kobe, they've already eaten their just desserts. They can't win the big one and won't ever again. Kobe can't win without Shaq and A-Rod just can hit in the clutch. Heavy lies the crown upon their heads and I don't envy them for a second. When your teammates don't even care if you're around, that's when you've lost everything and I don't hear anybody begging and pleading them to stay in LA or NY.

-The Hokie


DMG said...

I don't think it's fair to say A-Rod can't hit in the clutch. He hit .333 with 18 HRs in 102 AB with runners in scoring position; .500 with 3 HR with the bases loaded; .318 12 HR in 85 AB with RISP and two outs and .357 with 6 HR in 70 AB close and late this year. Of course there's always the issue of small sample size, as there is with almost any sort of 'clutch' statistics.

Basically he had two bad playoff series and got labeled a choker. Bad series can happen to anyone, even God-like Jeter, who has hit .250 or below in 9 of 25 playoff series hes been in (compared to 2 of 8 for A-rod). And heck even one of those series Arod OBP was .381, so it's not like he was an automatic out.

He's still a jerk but he's also the best player in baseball and if there's no one in New York hoping he stays then there really aren't too many intelligent people in New York.

And I don't know about seeing a sense of entitlement looking back at Tom Brady. Dude was a 6th round pick who got to start b/c Bledsoe got hurt. If he's walking around like he's king of the world it's because he's earned it. I've also never actually heard anyone say Brady was a bad teammate either...

The Friendship said...

I'll throw most of my Brady criticism towards Belichick instead as the habitual line stepper, but a chip on your shoulder doesn't earn you the right to step outside the boundaries of etiquette. I'm not saying they should or shouldn't have run up the score on the Redskins; I'm just saying that the target on their backs just increased exponentially and if they are going to toe the line of class, their hubris is going to get them in trouble. They could expect violent repercussions as this season wears on.

And while I agree that A-rod isn't a choker, because in baseball there isn't a bigger myth than the clutch hitter, I will stand by the statement that nobody in New York wants him to stay. The clowns in the front office certainly don't want him, and the fans only care about one stat, number of rings. This will be his second MVP season while with New York, but he needs a fresh start.

I'm just not sure where he's gonna get that start. A-Rod is the best, no doubt about it, but even if the Nats had the means I'm not sure I would go after him as a GM, regardless of any existing third base option. He just hasn't evolved into the veteran leader that you expected from a guy with that kind of talent.

He also never evolved into the dominated presence in a lineup like you'd expect a guy with those numbers. Players like Bonds, Pujols, Ortiz or Howard to some extent change the entire dynamic of an inning. Pitchers and managers are genuinely afraid of these batters in the lineup. I've just never gotten the sense that a pitcher would shy away from A-Rod or pitch around him in tough spots; they seem content to attack whatever weakness they think he has. This has helped him because he puts up the numbers, but to be successful in the postseason he needs to go somewhere where he can be the protection behind the big dog, and a lot of teams just don't have the ability to spend all that money on a Robin instead of a Batman.

DMG said...

I agree with you about Belichick, although I don't know about the role of etiquette in the NFL, especially these days.

In terms of A-rod, I think he can be that disruptive force in the middle of the lineup. I mean, 54 home runs, .645 slugging how can you not be? I think maybe his impact hasn't been as noticed in New York as it may have been other places because there's so much other talent in the Yankees lineup.

I'd love to have him on a team for his talent, despite his less-than-ideal demeanor. However I don't think he's worth the $30 million a year for 8-10 years he's asking to anyone because there's just so much more you could do with that money.

The Friendship said...

I don't get why he's still asking for such a salary. Doesn't he remember what happened in Texas? Great stats but no wins because he takes up all the money you should use for pitching.

Yard Yoder said...

Comparing Tom Brady to Alex Rodriguez and Kobe Bryant is absolutely ridiculous and unfair. Tom Brady is the quintessential team player. He has taken smaller salaries to get better players to the patriots. He never complained that until this year they never had any good receivers around him, he made the best of what he was given. He made players around him better. He puts his head down, supports the team, and plays hard throughout the season. He is a flat out winner, leader, and everything you should want as a player on your team.
Tom Brady has never asked that anyone on his team be traded, certainly not another cornerstone player. Tom Brady has never punched another player in the face on the field, and claimed it was an accident...twice. Tom Brady doesn’t blame others on his team when the job doesn’t get done. Tom Brady understands that when you win 3 world championships that you should keep your team together and not get rid of the hall of fame coach.
Tom Brady never until this year put up mvp numbers, and when he does it he wins unlike a-rod. Tom Brady doesn’t talk about how he doesn’t get along with the captain of the team. Tom Brady doesn’t care more about his image then his success on the field, so much to the point that he goes in absolutely miserable slumps when the media doesn’t portray him well. Tom Brady doesn’t start fights on the field, or try and pull cheap tricks in ALCS games.
Tom Brady cares about winning. Do you see him doing 20 commercials a season? Presenting at award shows? Getting in arguments with a kicker? No, he year after year puts up and shuts up. He even makes Randy Moss look like a good teammate!

DMG said...

Good points Yardie. I can see people having a problem with Brady/Belichick running up the score and Brady's mini-tempertantrum after a false start in a 38-0 game, but he isn't doing the same things as Bryant or A-rod. I guess the point was that he was being classes, as were the others, but in a different way.

The Friendship said...

Brady's arrogance may not manifest itself as vividly as the other two clowns, but his continued "me against the world" mentality reeks of insecurity and bitterness.

Being a good football player and understanding what it takes to win ballgames consistently doesn't make you any less of a primadona.
It's easy to keep your mouth shut and your head down when you are winning. No, he's not as outlandsih as these other two guys, but for my money, looking good in a suit and regurgitating cliches at every press conference isn't the definition of class when you start rubbing wins in people faces. Didn't the Chargers and LT say something about this last year? Me thinks they may have been ahead of the curve.

Oh and how many people still remain from that first Super Bowl win... maybe 5?

Yard Yoder said...

For me, I personally don't see this Tom Brady, "me against the world," mentallity. I think he's well behaved and a good role model, but thats just a difference of opinion.

Lets remember though that just because there are only “five” players from the original super bowl team, doesn’t mean Brady chased them away. Most players left because they asked for to much money, and the patriots are too good of an organization to accept that. It’s not a mark against Brady, once again it just shows his brilliance winning with new players.

Tom Brady’s career hasn’t been all winning either, they didn’t make the playoffs in 02, no complaints. They haven’t been to the super bowl since 04, no complaints. Kobe Bryant ripped apart his team in the midsts of a dynasty. Alex Rodriguez has been in the playoffs every year as a Yankee. Lets keep that in mind, winning isn’t the remedy to not being an asshole apparently.

The chargers spoke out about how they felt Bill Bellicheck, not Tom Brady, was no class act after they got embarrassed in the first round of the playoffs last year. Which is fine, he’s not a class act. He’s a class 1 asshole, as you see with him running up the score on the redskins. I have no problem if you compare Bill Bellicheck to assholes, but it’s not Tom Brady’s fault that Bellicheck decided he wanted to embarrass Gibbs and the Skins. What is Tom Brady to do? Lighten intensity? What makes Tom Brady, and all the other greats great, is that when they are on the floor/field they go 100% all the time. It’s up to the coaches to take them out or change the play calling.

DMG said...

Exactly. What's Brady going to do, refuse to run the plays his coach wants?

I have no idea how many players are left on the Pats from 2001 but think about this - it's been 6 years; the average NFL player's career only lasts 4-5 I believe; how many teams have a bunch of players left from 6 years ago in this day and age? Not many. And the guys who left the Pats either left as free agents or retired, as so many do. Deion Branch was traded after he held out for more money, not because he was feuding with Brady or anything. In fact as I recall it Brady said he wished the team would resign Branch since Branch was a good teammate.

In the end Brady seems to get along with his teammates and coaches and be ferociously devoted to winning, and I don't see anything wrong with that.

Really the only controversy I've ever heard of about Brady is religious groups being upset he had a kid out of wedlock.