Jobu is coming at you with a fresh round of shots from the last week in sports news! Boy are they tasty this week!
Because of the whole Chris Paul trade debacle, I had to push the round of shots back a day. I don’t normally drink on a Tuesday, but here goes. This week, we have free agent shockers, fights in the ring, fights on the basketball court, a broken losing streak and a shocking drug suspension as we cover some baseball, some college basketball, football and even some boxing.
The Angels Shock the World
I am not often surprised when it comes to decisions made by professional athletes during free agency. There have been times when I expected a guy to stay and he left and times where I knew in my heart of hearts a player was going to go somewhere for the money, only to have him choose a lower offer to go where he wanted to play (I’m a Yankees fan, so I’m usually on the losing end of that). Those things happen a lot. What happened with Albert Pujols absolutely floored me. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever picture him leaving St. Louis. He spent eleven seasons building his legacy in there as the best hitter in the game today. In those eleven seasons, Pujols hit .328, had an ops of 1.037 (for his career!), clobbered 445 home runs, scored 1,291 runs and drove in another 1,329. Only once did he score under 100 runs. Only once did he hit under .300 (.299 this past season). He won six Silver Slugger Awards, two Gold Gloves, three MVPs and led the Cardinals to two World Series Championships. He was a God in one of the best baseball cities in the country. He had it all there, and he left for (ahem) greener pastures (see what I did there?)
The news was so shocking to St. Louis fans that police stationed security guards outside of the slugger’s downtown restaurant to make sure no one took out their frustrations on the statue of his likeness that adorns the restaurant entrance. The Cardinals allegedly offered him ten years and over $200MM, and they probably came in third in the bidding (The Marlins offered the most money, but refused to include a full no-trade clause in their offer). How much money is enough money? I’m not gonna sit here and criticize Pujols for signing with the Angels, and I don’t quite put this on a Lebron James level of fan betrayal. I actually think the rift between the two sides started when the Cardinals gave Matt Holiday more money than Pujols was making at the time. However, the fans definitely have a right to tear down that statue if they want to. Instead of taking out a cookie-cutter add thank you add in the paper the next day, Pujols should have just offered up the statue to be sacrificed in effigy.
What Did Ryan Braun Do?
Late Saturday night I received news that may have shocked me more than the Pujols news. Ryan Braun, the reigning National League MVP, is apparently facing the standard 50-game suspension for a first time violation of the Major League Baseball drug policy. I want to wait until the full details come out on this story before I really comment (expect a post this week sometime, or next week, depending on when things clear up), but I will say this. Like free agency news, drug suspensions are something we have become pretty desensitized to. Rafael Palmeiro pretty much took care of that with one stern finger point. Common sense tells me that Braun’s claims that “highly unusual circumstances surrounding this case will support Ryan’s complete innocence” should be legitimate. Because the drug testing policies in the minor leagues have been in place longer than those of the MLB, Braun is a guy that has been tested for nine years. He has also put up MVP type numbers for five seasons and never tested positive for anything until this past October. As we all know, common sense and steroids don’t always go hand in hand, so again, nothing truly would shock me. Last night it was believed that Braun had tested positive for synthetic testosterone during the Brewers playoff run this past October. Today, a source from Braun’s camp told Tom Haudricort of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that Braun did not test positive for a performance enhancing substance, but rather a “prohibited substance.” The Source went on to claim that there has never been a result like this in the history of the MLB drug testing program (Hardballtalk).
So just what the hell did Ryan Braun do? My brother and I have many theories. Did they discover that he’s a vampire? My guess is that he’s a Day Walker (his day/night splits don’t show any evidence of being a full-on vampire). Perhaps the United States government got a hold of him during WWII and made him into some kind of super soldier? Maybe his midi-chlorians are off the scale and he’s meant to save the republic from the Sith? I think the most plausible theory is that he was abducted by aliens and they sent down an impostor Ryan Braun for the playoff push? Or, maybe he’s full of shit and he’s a steroids cheater… Hopefully we’ll know more soon.
How Good is Home Cooking?
Remember in Rocky IV, when Rocky travels to the then Soviet Union to fight Ivan Drago? The crowd is so openly anti-Rocky that you honestly feel for his life. Who is to say that, if Rocky wins the fight, the Russian fans won’t just take him outside and hang him? Now imagine if the referee joined the crowd and called the fight against Rocky? He would not have stood a chance. This is what it must have felt like to be Amir Kahn last Saturday. No, the fight wasn’t in Russia. It was actually in Washington, D.C., but it was the hometown of his opponent, Lamont Peterson. Now, don’t get me wrong, Lamont Peterson fought the fight of his life when he defeated the British Kahn for the WBA and IBF light-welterweight championships. He did just about everything right in that ring, but he definitely had a little help from referee Joe Copper. In the first round, Kahn landed a hook that knocked Peterson down, but the D.C. native tripped his feet up with Copper, who had no choice but to call the knockdown off. That was fine. Later in the first, Peterson got knocked down again, although this one was definitely just a slip, but Copper called it a knockdown (maybe to make up for the other one?). That was the only thing that went Kahn’s way all night. Peterson fought a great fight, but he also kept lowering his head into Kahn’s mid-section, which would cause the champion to push down on Peterson’s head in fear of getting head-butted. While both actions are deserving of a reprimand, Joe Copper spent a lot more time warning Kahn. When the ref is clearly not calling things down the middle, you’re going to get frustrated, which is what happened to Kahn. A couple of times, Amir appeared to give a forearm shove to Peterson in an attempt to get the overbearing challenger off of him. They weren’t blatantly dirty shoves, just kind of “get off me” pushes. After just a couple of minimal warnings, Copper stopped the fight and took a point off of Kahn’s scorecards.
Kahn was never officially warned about the pushing, which Max Kellerman and Jim Lampley (of HBO Boxing) admitted is a fairly common practice that they had never seen penalized before. OK… fair enough Joe Copper… fair enough. To the dismay of Kahn, his trainer Freddy Roachman, Lampley and Kellerman, Copper took yet another point away from Peterson later in the fight for the same thing! Keep in mind that there was never an official warning for the pushing. When he realized Kahn was pushing, he should have stopped the fight and given an official “if you do that again, I’m taking a point” warning. He did not. Those two points are what ended up costing Kahn the fight, and both of his championship belts in a split decision (The scores were 113-112, 113-112 for Peterson and 114-111 for Kahn). Keep in mind, I am not taking anything away from Lamont Peterson. He fought the fight of his life, it just shouldn’t have been enough to beat the champion. I do look forward to the rematch though, assuming it’s not in London!
Battling in Cincinatti
I’m not sure why, but I’ve always liked most sports fights. Baseball fights are usually fun because they involve someone doing something shitty and a pitcher then throwing a ball at his head so that he knows not to do it again. Benches empty, someone gets tackled, maybe a couple punches get thrown, but that’s it Hockey fights are awesome because they players are basically allowed to have a slugfest at middle ice until someone falls to the ground and the refs step in. It’s cool and exciting. This past weekend I witnessed a sports fight that I really didn’t like at all. It came near the end of a heated rivalry game between Xavier and Cincinatti, and it got ugly quick. When you have two teams in the same city or state, there’s going to be a rivalry. Things are gonna get choppy, and a lot of shit is gonna be spoken. It’s expected because neither team wants to lose to the other. It’s all about bragging rights. When things go too far, like they did this weekend, nobody wins. The most horrifying aspect of the bench-clearing brawl was when Cincinatti’s Yaney Gates sucker punched Xavier’s Kenny Frease from the side as he stood yelling at another Cincy player. When he fell to the ground dazed, Cincinatti’s Cheihk Mbodi kicked him in the back of the head. It was awful, as was the rest of the scrum. Suspensions were announced yesterday and, although many are saying they were too lenient (the most anyone got was six games and Mbodi somehow only got one game), I think I’m ok with how the discipline was handed out. It was an ugly incident which will probably mar the programs for the rest of the season (especially Xavier, whose players spent the post-game press conference bragging about how they were “gangsters” and “thugs.” There’s really no room for this kind of thing in the sport, but it will definitely add a whole lot of spice to this rivalry moving forward. Hopefully everyone keeps their shit together and no more fights occur though…
JPP Beats the Cowboys
I don’t like to throw too much credit to one particular player when it comes to team sports like football, but wow did Jason Pierre Paul just decide the Giants weren’t gonna lose to the Cowboys or what? In a game where it looked like rumors were spread that tackling people gives you an STD, Paul, a 6’5″ 275 lb monster, had two-and-a-half sacks, forced a fumble, recorded a safety and blocked Dallas’ last second field goal which would have sent the game into OT. Last week, Eli did his Eli thing and drove the giants down the field to score a game tying TD and two point conversion, only to watch the Giants defense allow Aaron Rodgers to go roughly sixty yards on two plays, which led to a game wining field goal and the Giants fourth straight loss. This week, Brandon Jacobs ran the ball in with roughly forty-five seconds left on the clock, but not one Giants fan felt comfortable that the losing streak would end. Sure enough, the Giants refused to cover the middle of the field (as they have done since Steve Spagnuolo left in 2008), and the Cowboys took two plays to get into field goal range for the tie. After the typical calling of a time out right before the ball is snapped so that the kicker has to kick it again, it seemed there was no way this game wasn’t going into OT. Instead, Jason Pierre-Paul just decided that, if his defense wasn’t going to stop anyone, he’d just do it himself. The ball was snapped and he lunged forward intuit the offensive lineman. As the Dallas kicker’s foot met the ball, Paul jumped as high as he could and got his fingertips on the ball, sending it flailing off to the side like a lame duck. The game was over, the Giants had won, the streak was over the season itself was saved and a hero was born. For a guy who only played one year of high school football and only one year of division one ball, Jason Pierre-Paul made it all look easy on Sunday night, and I thank him for it.
Pujols image courtesy of: Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times
Braun image courtesy of: The Associated Press
Fight image courtesy of: http://www.bacain.com
Xavier image courtesy of: http://www.espn.com
Paul image courtesy of: Andrew Mills/The Star-Ledger
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