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Old 09-24-2002, 05:46 PM   #1
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Post Sports Central Newsletter - #86 - End of the Road for Nomar?

The Sports Central Newsletter
September 22nd, 2002 - Issue #86

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|-- IN THIS ISSUE... --|

- Words From the Editor
- The O-Files: "Reinforcing the Status Quo"
- Reader's Showcase (Sports Trivia)
- What's new at Sports Central?
- Feature Article: "End of the Road in Boston For Nomar?"
- Marquee Matchup (NFL)



Hello folks,

With the baseball season finally coming to a close and the postseason ahead, there's been a lot of talk over who should be the MVPs in the two leagues. Brad Oremland takes this hot issue into focus in his second edition of The O-Files, right below. Find out who Brad has narrowed down as his selections for AL and NL MVP.

In another baseball-related article, longtime feature writer Mike Round gives his take on the Red Sox issue in Boston. Is star shortstop Nomar Garciaparra on his way out of town and is it the right move?

Finally, with football season is full gear, it's a great time to talk about the sport America loves on the Sports Central Message Boards (https://boards.sports-central.org)! We're about to welcome our 1,000th member and are nearing the 60,000-post mark, so there's plenty of activity and people to chat with 24/7. See you there!

Until next time,

- Marc James
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|-- THE O-FILES--|

"Reinforcing the Status Quo"
By Brad Oremland

It's nice to give the other guys a chance, the Karl Malones and Mike Mussinas. But this year, baseball's most cherished awards -- with one exception -- should go to the guys who always get them.

The AL Cy Young should go to Pedro Martinez. Derek Lowe got off to a great start, Barry Zito's kept Oakland in the AL West hunt, and Jarrod Washburn had that great winning streak for the Angels. But of those four, Martinez has the highest winning percentage, the lowest ERA, and batting average allowed, the fewest losses, walks, and hits, and the most complete games and strikeouts. No contest.

The NL Cy Young will be voted to Curt Schilling, but Randy Johnson is more deserving. Schilling began the year with such tremendous performances that many people inked him in for Cy Young before the All-Star Break. But Johnson has more innings pitched, a lower ERA by more than a third of a run, fewer hits allowed, and more strikeouts. Since the All-Star Break, Johnson is 10-2 with five complete games (three shutouts), a 2.39 ERA, and 146 strikeouts. Schilling's been fabulous, too, but not that fabulous. Johnson deserves the award.

The MVP races have more candidates, but both are fairly simple in the end. Much of the debate over who deserves the award is generated by disagreement over what MVP means. If it goes to the best player, Alex Rodriguez and Barry Bonds are clearly the MVPs of their respective leagues. If someone other than the league's best player can be considered most valuable to his team, it's a little trickier.

Bonds is still the NL MVP. The Giants are ahead in the NL wildcard race, thanks largely to Bonds. His .807 slugging percentage and .583 on-base percentage are the NL's highest by over 30% (Larry Walker, .612; Brian Giles, .444). He also is over the 100-mark for both runs and RBI, despite having drawn 70 walks with runners in scoring position. As if that weren't enough, he's also the only everyday player in either league with more homeruns than strikeouts.

In the AL, start by throwing out Alfonso Soriano and Jason Giambi. They've had fine seasons, but the Yankees would have gotten by without them. In fact, last year they went to the World Series with minimal production from Soriano and none from Giambi, who was with the Athletics. Oakland seems to be doing just fine without Giambi, as well.

That leaves Miguel Tejada, Nomar Garciaparra, Torii Hunter, and Garrett Anderson. Throw out Hunter. He's had a great season, but his best play of the year didn't even matter (robbing Bonds of a HR in the All-Star Game). The Twins' playoff run has been a team effort, considerably aided by the way Chicago and Cleveland fell apart. Of these four candidates, Hunter has the fewest RBI and total bases and the second-lowest OPS and runs.

Garciaparra is next. Realistically, Boston's been out of the hunt for weeks now, and you could make the case that Garciaparra isn't even the most valuable player on his own team, to say nothing of the whole league. Pitchers Lowe and Martinez and slugger Manny Ramirez have been just as important to Boston's success as Nomar.

It's fitting that the AL MVP should come from the West, where the most exciting baseball is being played. Tejada, an excellent defensive player, leads all AL shortstops in assists and is third in double plays; Anderson has only one error this season (.997 fielding percentage). Tejada has more runs and RBI; Anderson has more total bases. Tejada has a higher OBP; Anderson has a much better slugging percentage.

Clearly, both are worthy candidates. But I lean -- ever so slightly -- toward Tejada. He's been making plays all year and he's filled the void left by Giambi. He's also played in 13 more games than Anderson -- call it the Ripken factor -- and has generated impressive offensive numbers from the middle infield, a feat that has become less impressive with time, but is still noteworthy.

Tejada is new to the club, but this year, I'm generally sticking by the status quo. Enjoy the last few games and the postseason, folks.


Brad welcomes your feedback on his column: mailto:[email protected]?subject=O-Files



Each issue, the Reader's Showcase features either challenging sports trivia or sports rant entries from readers on a rotating basis. For the Sports Trivia questions, we will randomly choose trivia questions ranging from baseball to hockey to golf. As for the Sports Rant, you, the readers, have the opportunity write-in with your opinions and thoughts and have your thoughts published in front of thousands of interested eyes,.

In this issue, we're featuring more sports trivia to test your sports knowledge. Answer correctly, and we'll mention you in our next issue.


What city hosted the first Monday Night game on ABC?

A) Chicago
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B) Baltimore
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C) New York
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D) Cleveland
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Note: If the text below each choice is not a clickable link, you may reply to this newsletter with your selection.


[ Next Issue ]

Want to voice your opinion with thousands of eager fans? Let us know what's on your mind by sending us your sports rant: mailto:[email protected]?subject=Readers_Showcase



Revisiting the new articles for the week of 09/16/02 - 09/22/02:


MLB: The best out West?
By David Hettrick

While Oakland was busy winning 23 out of 24 games and gaining plenty of media recognition, no one bothered to notice that the Angels won 10 in a row and 16 of 17 around that same time. SC's David Hettrick explains how the Angels are playing baseball the old-fashioned way and are now smiling all the way to the playoffs.



NBA: Making the most of the max
By Bill Ingram

What does it mean to be a maximum player? SC's Bill Ingram has asked himself this question many times in the past, but never so often as he has in the Rashard Lewis story. Is a player who averages 16 points per game really a maximum contract type of player?



COLUMN: Bulls and Bears - Week 3
By Komments.com Staff

Week 3 features a number of matchups between impressive teams. Headlining this weekend's games are the Chicago Bears, who take on the New Orleans Saints, and the Dolphins, who'll try to end their losing streak against the Jets. Get your fantasty advice in this week's Bulls and Bears column.



COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Ducks' hopes hinge on Fife
By Steve Apel

The Oregon Ducks are coming off a No. 2 national ranking, a Fiesta Bowl blowout, and the loss of arguably the best QB in their history. And with nearly everyone from that team returning, there is no reason why the Ducks can't duplicate that success, says SC's Steve Apel.



MLB: On the warpath in Cleveland
By Jon Collins

They are 20 games out of first place in the American League Central. They have no hope of success in 2002. However, they may have discovered a player who can help them achieve success in 2003. SC's Jon Collins takes a look at the hot-hitting rightfielder Karim Garcia.



COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Can the 'Canes be stopped?
By Piet Van Leer

It's early, but the Miami Hurricanes look like the national champions of this year, as well. Is it possible for anyone to unseat them? Or even beat them? SC's Piet Van Leer takes a look at the busy college football world and breaksdown the top teams early in the season.



NFL: Week 2 power rankings
By Brad Oremland

The Rams and Steelers, both preseason Super Bowl favorites, are 0-2. Meanwhile, the Carolina Panthers have already doubled last year's victory total. What to make of it all? SC's Brad Oremland sorts it out in his Week 2 Power Rankings.



NFL: Holdouts hurt stubborn Cardinals
By Steve Goldstein

The Minnesota Vikings and Arizona Cardinals have rarely, if ever, shared anything in common over the course of their franchise histories. Until a few days ago, though, the Vikings and Cardinals were the only NFL teams that hadn't signed their first round draft picks. For the sake of Vikings fans everywhere, let's hope that this is the only season Minnesota follows Arizona's lead, says SC's Steve Goldstein.



MLB: His holiness: Religion and sports
By Brian Algra

A year ago this month, Dodger all-star Shawn Green made a controversial decision to sit out a game against the Giants on Yom Kippur. SC's Brian Algra remembers Green's choice, and long-windedly examines its significance for American sports and American culture.



GOLF: Playing on: The meaning of sports
By Vincent Musco

The 2002 Ryder Cup promises to renew a rivalry between the Americans and the Europeans. But for America, it is not the rematch of 1999 that seems most pressing right now, but rather our need for sports itself in this month of solemn reflection. The Ryder Cup will show us all the meaning of sports, says SC's Vincent Musco.



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"End of the Road in Boston For Nomar?"

After another disappointing end to the season for the Red Sox Nation, the Boston media have homed in on a new target on which to vent their frustration. A man who, hitherto, has been the most popular athlete in New England, with an unblemished record of individual achievement and a spotless record away from the diamond. Is it Nomar's fault the Red Sox can't get past the Yankees or even into the wildcard race?


By Mike Round

It's not been a great season for the Red Sox - again. Despite a change of ownership, manager, GM, and a bunch of roster moves, they haven't made the playoffs. Despite a career-year from Derek Lowe, a big contribution from Pedro Martinez and Manny Ramirez's efforts, they never really looked like challenging New York into September. Now the Boston media want a sacrificial lamb and No. 5 fits the bill.

The previously idyllic relationship between Garciaparra and the adoring boys of the local press has been deteriorating for a while. He's had a whine about a few things over the last year or so -- the owners, the media, coaching changes, roster moves, the scorer, and even the fans themselves. Finally, it happened -- Steve Buckley slaughtered Nomar this week in the Boston Herald.

Buckley basically told Nomar to get out of town unless he changes his attitude and toes the Red Sox line. Buckley and other Boston media "personalities" like to refer to Fenway as The Hub, as in the Hub of the Universe. Pretentious? Moi?

Let's put Mr. Buckley straight. The Sox haven't won a World Series since the Wilson administration. Over the past two years, they've spent the equivalent of the GNP of Portugal and haven't made the playoffs. Fenway Park has atmosphere and tradition, but it also has bad seats with no legroom, poor views, no bathrooms, nowhere to eat or drink, and the most spiteful fans outside of Veterans Stadium. The Hub of the Universe? Only if it's the last building standing in a post nuclear holocaust world, Mr. Buckley.

Though I'm a confirmed Red Sox hater -- actually make that despiser -- I can't think of a worse target for blame and accusations than Nomar. He runs out every groundball and popup like he's in Little League again. He busts his butt in the field. He's a perennial .320-plus hitter. He's on every list at the beginning of each season as potential hitting champ or MVP. And, on top of that, he's a nice guy who doesn't beat women or children like some (ex)-teammates. He doesn't get arrested at strip joints, spit at umpires, loaf about when the season's a dead duck, or shout abuse at his manager. If your daughter brought Nomar home before a date, you'd be as happy as Homer Simpson on all-you-can-eat pork chop night.

Doing your job isn't good enough for Buckley and his ilk. The Hubsters want more -- they want a player to buy into their myth that it's 1918 forever and that Beantown is still the sporting and commercial city it once was. I got news for you, Steve. Houston is now bigger, richer, and more important. So are Dallas and Atlanta. New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago have always been. You're stuck in a time warp where Army rule at football, baseball players are indentured slaves, and the talkies is just a far flung dream.

It's true that Nomar has had a whine this year, but can you blame him? The Red Sox look like Dan Quayle is in charge most of the time. Take a look at their payroll: $7 million a year for Darren Oliver! I've seen Presidents throw ceremonial tosses harder. A tad under $7 million a year for Jose O-For-Man, who makes Chucky look like an accurate thrower. Nearly $6 million a year for Dustin Hermanson, who has changed his name officially to Dustin Hermanson DL. $5 million a year to Tony Clark, who, rumor has it, was turned down by the Army in WW2 for being too old.

The Sox change managers more often than Nomar changes his boxers. They send their greatest-ever pitcher to a divisional rival because they think he's finished. Then he goes and wins a bunch of Cy Youngs and WS Rings. They sack Jimy Williams, who drags a poor team to the brink of the playoffs despite sabotage attempts by losers like Carl Everrett, and replace him with no-names who look like deer caught in the headlights. They make Dan Duquette GM because on his resumé he claims to have once finished seventh of 12 in a fantasy baseball league.

So what now for Nomar? He's still one of the best three shortstops in the game, but those close to the team are openly speculating that he could be a payroll victim, along with Ramirez and maybe even the mighty Pedro. Both guys pull in over $14 million a year, which makes Nomar look a bargain at $9 million. He says he doesn't want to be traded, but that doesn't mean he won't be. Though the list of potential suitors is short, as he's signed through 2004.

The Yankees, obviously, won't be interested. The Mets will be, if they can dump salary elsewhere. So might the Dodgers, with the same proviso as the Mets. Nomar is from southern California and could jump-start a flagging offense.

If he wants to win something before he goes to Cooperstown, he might need to leave The Hub to do it, as the Sox look like they're going to go into rebuilding mode for a couple of years at least. There's nothing in their farm system, they are stuck with some hideous contracts and look likely to be introducing a new manager to the players next February. With men like Steve Buckley around the locker room, New York or Los Angeles must look attractive propositions to Nomar Garciaparra.


Mike welcomes your feedback on his column: mailto:[email protected]?subject=Feature_Article



--> National Football League

By Brad Oremland

New England Patriots (2-0) vs. Miami Dolphins (2-0)
Sunday, Oct. 6, 1 PM ET; Pro Player Stadium; Miami, Florida; TV: CBS

No teams have looked more impressive through two weeks than the Patriots and Dolphins, and even if the Jets curse continues to haunt Miami or the Chiefs somehow upset New England, this Week 4 matchup promises playoff implications and good play on both sides of the ball. New England should be favored, but Miami has won five of the last six in this series.

The Patriots won their first two games in the air, but Miami matches up well against passing teams, so New England could be forced to put the ball on the ground. When the Dolphins have the ball, Bill Belichick's team will have to contain Ricky Williams and put pressure on Jay Fielder, whose play could become shaky if he's getting hit or makes mistakes early.

The Dolphins' offensive possessions will also provide an opportunity to see Miami offensive coordinator Norv Turner, widely regarded as the best play-caller in the league, work against the defense of New England head coach Bill Belichick, a defensive specialist whose schemes have played a major role in the Patriots' success.

Both teams are averaging about five touchdowns per game and each has an excellent defense, so special teams could become a factor if neither team gets big plays early in the matchup. Both teams have top-tier kickers (Adam Vinatieri and Olindo Mare), but Troy Brown can be a game-breaking returner, so New England has a slightly better chance of making a big play. This one could go either way, especially with Miami playing at home early in the season, but New England is the better team until proven otherwise.

[ Game Breakdown ]

Offense - Dolphins
Defense - Patriots
Spec. Teams - Patriots
Coaching - Patriots
Intangibles - Patriots

Prediction: Patriots 24, Dolphins 20


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(Thanks for reading! Next issue set to come out on 10/06/02.)


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