I assume you know how this works: I introduce a number of current issues in the world of sport, and I lay down my verdict – is it a good idea or a bad idea? I don’t think I have to keep explaining this, but I digress. So, in the words of a certain annoying beer ad campaign, here we go:
Issue: Los Angeles Lakers SG Kobe Bryant calling out the front office regarding the Pau Gasol trade rumors
Quick – when I tell you a star player and his franchise’s front office are publicly exchanging words, who am I talking about?
Apparently, things are getting a little chippy between the Los Angeles Lakers – in particular, star SG Kobe Bryant – and GM Mitch Kupchak, regarding the status of PF Pau Gasol. As rumors continue to swirl about whether or not Gasol will be traded – the most lucrative of which has Gasol in a three-team deal that could potentially send Orlando Magic C Dwight Howard to Hollywood – the players are getting restless. Meanwhile, Kupchak is trying to field as many offers as he can, in order to maximize the talent of his Lakers.
But Bryant, in his compassion for a valued teammate, rushed to his defense, apparently tired of seeing the European big man jerked around in a “Will he stay or will he go” guessing game. He made it clear this past Sunday:
I talked to [Gasol] a little bit about it. It’s just tough for a player to give his all when you don’t know if you’re going to be here tomorrow. I’d rather them not trade him at all. If they’re going to do something, I wish they would just [expletive] do it. If they’re not going to do it, come out and say you’re not going to do it. This way he can be comfortable, he can go out, he can play and he can invest all of himself into the game.
Kupchak and the Lakers organization responded in kind the next day:
As general manager of the Lakers, I have a responsibility to ownership, our fans and the players on this team to actively pursue opportunities to improve the team for this season and seasons to come. To say publicly that we would not do this would serve no purpose and put us at a competitive disadvantage. Taking such a course of action at this time would be a disservice to ownership, the team and our many fans.
Now, I realize that this is a sensitive situation. After all, at the end of the day, professional sports like the NBA are business, and Kupchak is just trying to see if he can get the best deal possible to improve the franchise. Bryant, himself, wants to win championships. This may be the only way they can improve a team whose championship window may be closing.
However, I think Bryant, despite essentially trying to tip his own GM’s hand at the possible detriment of his team, was in the right.
The Lakers are 20-12, and are looking like a shockingly marginal team under new head coach Mike Brown. They seem, at times, to be a ship without a rudder, in more ways than one. Not only is the team not sure where they are necessarily getting their leadership from, they don’t know who’s staying or who’s going – especially Pau. Despite reports that Kupchak doesn’t want to trade Gasol, the rumors continue to fly.
Bryant is stepping in, and saying enough is enough. Get something done, because sitting idly by and waiting for potential trade partners are not helping the team. Not only is Bryant trying to be proactive with his team, he’s showing intangible leadership qualities in A) demanding action from a seemingly stagnant front office, and B) defending a teammate he would like to see in a Lakers uniform for the long-term.
As a man who routinely roots against the Lakers, I really mean what I am about to say: Good on ya, Kobe.
Issue: Baylor QB Robert Griffin III moving his Pro Day so it doesn’t conflict with Stanford QB Andrew Luck’s Pro Day
With the 2012 NFL Draft just two months away, the debate about who should go first overall to the Colts actually has some legs.
While the consensus #1 pick has been, and continues to be, Stanford QB Andrew Luck, the case for Baylor QB, and Heisman Trophy winner, Robert Griffin III continues to build. At this point, the debate tends to center around Luck’s pro-ready skills and translatable talents vs. Griffin’s higher ceiling and wide array of intangibles.
Reports came out recently that, in preparation for the draft, Stanford and Baylor were both to have their Pro Days – in which the schools’ respective pro prospects would showcase their skills for NFL scouts – on the same day (March 22). Considering the wide proximity of the two schools (Palo Alto, CA and Waco, TX are about 1,800 miles apart), scouts would have had to make a choice about which player to watch: Luck or RG3?
Well, Griffin decided to take it out of their hands.
In a show of good faith and fairness, Griffin moved up Baylor’s Pro Day to March 21, a day before Stanford’s Pro Day. While it solves the scheduling issue, some have implied that moving up the Pro Day was a de facto sign of weakness – catering to Andrew Luck as the man who should have priority to be scouted. It was even suggested that Griffin, as the Heisman winner, should have stubbornly stood his ground, showing scouts that he would refuse to cater to anyone, as a sign of strong character.
Forgive me, but I thought that a Pro Day wasn’t just about one athlete.
In making the decision to move Baylor’s Pro Day workouts back a day, it turns out as a win-win, not only for Luck and Griffin, but for the other prospects for both schools. Had he refused to move the Pro Day, engaging in a metaphoric game of Chicken between the two universities, it would have ended up hurting both schools’ prospects, as their chances of getting drafted would decrease. Griffin sacrificed his priority to the scouts for the good of the whole, which actually projects the kind of qualities a plethora of teams would want in a quarterback.
In any case, in moving back a day instead of forward, he and his Baylor Bears teammates actually did themselves a favor – they would be scouted first, before Luck and his Cardinal brethren. That can’t be all bad, right?
Issue: Giants C Buster Posey instructed not to block home plate in the future by Manager Bruce Bochy
It was the event that many San Francisco Giants fans could point to as the catalyst of the derailment of their team’s campaign for a World Series repeat. And it started with a Marlin making a play for home plate.
While the Giants stayed afloat for most of the summer, in the months following C Buster Posey’s season-ending leg injury, they couldn’t hold on to their division lead, and eventually missed the postseason, at the hands of the eventual NL West champion Arizona Diamondbacks. It was obvious that, even with bats like Pablo Sandoval and Carlos Beltran in the lineup, they missed Posey’s leadership and offensive presence.
Now, as Posey’s rehabilitation stint has gone as planned, Manager Bruce Bochy wants to make sure that his prized catcher’s presence on the field stays there, long-term. And he has done this by telling him what not to do.
Namely, by not blocking the plate.
I’ll take this out of Buster’s hands. As a manager, that’s my job. I certainly don’t want people to think he’s backing off on his own. It’s something we’ll work on with him this spring … I’ve already talked to Buster about this. There are ways to make the tag without putting yourself in jeopardy. I don’t want him to block the plate right now.
Now, as a self-professed Giants fan, one would think I would be completely on board with this – and, at first, I was. After all, they can’t go and run the risk of losing Posey – who many consider the Giants’ best offensive player – again to an injury like the one he suffered last year. It seems only logical for him to avoid that kind of situation.
But, I ask you to take another look at the video above. First, Posey wasn’t exactly standing in front of the plate when he was tackled – if anything, he was standing to the side of the path Cousins could have taken to the plate. Secondly, the injury, on second glance, was something of a freak accident: Posey’s ankle, after impact, got caught in an awkward position on the ground. The way his ankle was caught just doesn’t happen on the regular, or you would have a lot more catchers on the DL.
Then, there is the awkward position Bochy put Posey in, for the sake of his players’ safety. He basically put up a white flag to the rest of the league, saying that our catcher will not be blocking the plate under any circumstances. Now, opposing base-runners will have the mental edge when dealing with a play at home plate: they now know Posey won’t be so aggressive in those situations. That’s a handcuffing, in terms of competitive disadvantage, if I’ve ever seen one.
Ultimately, Bochy not only looks like he is coddling a player at the expense of his team’s success, he is basing his decision on a “What if” that may never happen again, and, if it does, is an inevitable part of the game. I love you, man, because of what you did for the Giants, but come on – if you want to put Posey out of harm’s way, then move him to first base.
Issue: Criticizing SI Swimsuit Cover Model Kate Upton … for her “chubbiness”
If you know who Kate Upton is, then you might think I was making this up.
But, apparently, this year’s Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition cover model has sparked a bit of a controversy – not from the rumors of dating New York Jets QB Mark Sanchez, or her recent viral video of her doing the Dougie – but from something you wouldn’t assume she could possibly be criticized for:
Her curvy figure.
In the wake of the annual swimsuit issue’s release, reports had come out that a certain sect of the fashion industry had deemed Upton, the 19-year-old former equestrian and perceived attention-seeker – as “too chubby to be chic.”
I’m sorry, but …
I will admit, I don’t know much about the fashion industry – though I doubt many in the sports world really does. At the same time, I do know what a slender, attractive young woman looks like. To say this …
… is tantamount to being fat, is the same as saying the 2011 Dallas Mavericks were an awful basketball team.
I don’t even know what else to say about this. Despite all of the controversy surrounding the girl, please don’t go so far as to call her chubby. If she is chubby, who in God’s name is thin in your world?
Chubbiness, I suppose like many things, is in the eye of the beholder. But, I guarantee you, in the eyes of much of society, “chubby” is one of the last things to describe Kate Upton.