Thursday, August 20, 2009

"Somebody's Going to Emergency, Somebody's Going to Jail"

In a "New York Minute" both of those people are former Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress. Burress pled guilty today to one count of attempted possession of a weapon, and will face up to two years in prison. Burress who faced these charges after shooting himself in the leg last November, in a NYC night club (apparently, not only did Burress lack judgement in bringing the gun into the club in the first place, but he then compounded his stupidity by keeping it in the waistband of his pants). Burress initially ignored the D.A.'s first plea bargain attempt that would have reduced his jail time to potentially under one year. Burress, who caught the winning touchdown in the Super Bowl 18 months ago, will now face a minimum of 20 months in prison.

Burress, who was suspended for the remaining part of the 2008 season (which helped torpedo the Giants' chances of repeating), will now miss the next two football seasons as well. He has lost ten's of millions of dollars, on top of having to spend two years in jail. He's already 32 years old and won't be able to play football again until he's 34, which isn't exactly the prime years of an NFL wideout. His actions affected his team, the New York fans and himself, and its good to see the D.A. not being to lenient on him since it was an "accident". Hopefully more players will take heed of this case as a warning and ensure that they respect the law and stay away from situations where they feel they need a gun. Burress is lucky that his accidental shot didn't strike and injure any innocent bystanders or his two year sentence could have been 10. The only good news is it will be at least a 20 month reprieve until we have the "Who is going to sign Plaxico Burress" hype.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

He's Back!

Three weeks ago Vikings coach Brad Childress told the world that Brett Favre wasn't coming to the Minnesota, and Favre said that he was truly retired. Now, after a few weeks of training camp and one preseason game, the savior of the Packers' franchise is lining up behind center for a division rival. How did it happen, apparently one phone call from Childress and a plane ride to Miss. by owner Zigi Wilf was all the convincing that was needed. Now Favre has a 2 year $25 million in hand (and the Vikings have a 39 year old QB who just had bicep surgery, and now has a tear in his rotator cuff).

Look I'm not going to say the Vikings don't benefit with Favre leading the troops, even with the medical issues, he is a better QB than Tarvaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels. Also, Favre will add a big boost to ticket and merchandise sales (that might even pay for the $25 million price tag). That benefit will come at a cost though for the Vikings. While press stories were going to follow the Vikings-Favre courtship all year, now the controversy of another Favre comeback (and not the 4th quarter kind that made him great) will reach epic proportions. Every interception and loss will be scrutinized and criticized like we will have never seen before.

On the field Favre benefits as well. He went from a team with a new coach that finished in 3rd place in their division in 2008, to a team who won their division last year and has the league's best running back. If Favre shows some of the magic from the past than the Vikings and him can challenge for the NFC spot in the Super Bowl. However, that's a best case scenario and a lot of things need to go right for that to happen. Favre may make the players on the field better, but what does he do to this team off the field. The preferential treatment given to him by the coaching staff and front office isn't going to sit well with a number of players. The fact that there was so much misinformation, if not out right lying by Childress and the Vikings (not to mention Favre) can only burn bridges at a time when he needs to develop chemistry with a new team. That Vikings' locker room is a powder keg right now, and if Minnesota starts losing (or Favre breaks down) it will blow up in their face and sink their playoff hopes this season.

What's most interesting about this is the legacy issue. Plenty of great players from various sports have returned and maintained their respect league wide. Favre's image was already damaged due to the retirement drama that has surrounded him these last two seasons, but it wasn't irrevocable, until now. Up until this week some Packer fans might have abandoned Brett Favre, but were they really going to ignore him in 5 years when he gets enshrined in Canton? Now, if Favre leads the Vikings to the playoffs, and knocks Green Bay out of the postseason, he will be forever despised by Cheeseheads. Joe Montana and Emmit Smith extended their careers by going to another team, but they didn't go to division rivals and are still loved by San Francisco and Dallas fan bases. Favre will face the team that he led to the promised land twice this season. When the Packers come to Minnesota on Oct. 5th it will be very interesting and unforgettable. However, when the Vikings come to Green Bay on Nov. 1st, Favre will become Judas with his thirty pieces of silver ($25 million dollars).

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Nationals Ink Top Pick

The Stephen Strasburg signing saga has came to an end with about a minute and a half to spare before last night's midnight deadline to sign draft picks. Strasburg agreed to a 4 year Major League contract (the vast majority of draft picks sign minor league deals with signing bonuses), that will guarantee him $15.1 million over the next 4 years. The deal includes a $7.5 million dollar signing bonus, and seven figure salaries between 2010-2012 (regardless of whether he is in the minors or major leagues). The deal means Strasburg will be immediately added to the Nationals 40-man roster, and will give the Nationals the star they've been looking for.

What should be made clear is this deal doesn't change the amount of time that Strasburg is under the Nats control. Strasburg won't be eligible for free agency until he has 6 full years of Major League service (including time on the D.L.). So if he does make his debut next opening day then he won't be a free agent until after the 2015 season. If he spends next year (or at least a few weeks of next season) in the minors than his free agency will be held off another year. Because of the need of 6 years of service time in the majors before becoming a free agent, I was shocked by a string of recent tweets from USA Today's Bob Nightengale. These tweets which allude to Scott Boras (Strasburg's agent) saying that Strasburg won't pitch in the majors this year and possibly even next year. While I can understand why they would hold off on Strasburg this year (though I'm sure the Nats would love to showcase him to their fans), I have a hard time buying that Strasburg won't be pitching in Washington sometime early on in the 2010 season. If Strasburg spends the entire 2010 season in the minors he will lose out in millions in expected salary, by putting off his arbitration and free agent clocks. I also don't think Washington paid out the largest guaranteed deal in history to boost the attendance numbers in Potomac, Harrisburg and Syracuse (their top 3 minor league affiliates). I will guess that Strasburg will be up in the big leagues by the Nationals 2nd or 3rd home stand next season, and he will likely be pitching in front of a sold out crowd.