Monday, April 16, 2007

Getting the Ich-iro


Duncan vs. Crawford worthy of PPV, Jackie Robinson sticks it to the Yankees and other ramblings from the week that was in sports.

By Greg Wiley
The Phanatic Magazine

It's never too early to start thinking about next year, especially if Brett Myers keeps grooving fastballs, the bullpen continues to blow leads and the offensive woes with runners in scoring position persist.

So, since I like to give the fans something to look forward to, digest this --Ichiro Suzuki.

That's right. The electrifying leadoff man in Seattle who has recorded over 200 hits in each of his first seven seasons in the league, will be free agent at season's end. He has yet to work out a contract with the Mariners and appears headed towards free agency.

I imagine your first reaction is something along the lines of this: "Bullsh--! How would the Phils be able to do this?" or "Why would Ichiro want to come to Philadelphia?"

Well, I have an answer for you -- Pat Gillick. That's right, "Stand" Pat Gillick. If you remember, Gillick was the general manager in Seattle when Ichiro came to America. The two are familiar with each other and Ichiro is probably comfortable with the Phillies general manager. The only question is cash.

If the Phils were ever going to spend money, this is the guy to spend it on because he will solve a number of problems for the club. First, he is the legitimate leadoff hitter the club has been looking for. He can put the ball just about anywhere on the field and has the speed to wreak havoc on the base paths. Second, he allows Jimmy Rollins to move down in the order, making the lineup deeper and thus saving the franchise money in trying to find a power bat in addition. Thirdly, he is a Gold Glove outfielder and has a rocket arm.

Finally, and maybe most importantly, he would be a legit free agent signing that gives the fans a reason to believe in this team. Enough of this team trying to pawn off the signings of players like Wes Helms and Adam Eaton as the answers. Go out and get an All-Star caliber player that will not only get the fans excited, but also the players.

So, when mid-July comes around and the Phillies are out of it, remember next year the concession stands in Ashburn Alley might be selling cheesesteaks on Ichi-rolls...

The nor'easter that pounded the region on Sunday gave me a chance to watch some things that I might not otherwise have tuned in to. One was the Mavericks-Spurs game that was on ABC. What a great game. It's not often you see two teams partake in such a well-played game at the end of the season, but this was one of them. Both teams had something to play for -- the Spurs were going for the two seed in the Western Conference and the Mavericks wanted to go into the playoffs with a win over a solid team. We even saw an ejection.

In case you missed it, in the final minutes of the third quarter, Spurs center Tim Duncan was given a technical foul for mouthing off to official Joey Crawford. Then, just a minute or two later, Crawford hit Duncan with another technical, resulting in his ejection. The funny (or sad, depending upon how you look at it) was that Duncan was on the bench when he received both technicals and when he got the second one he didn't say a word. However, it was Duncan's obnoxious laughter a foul call by Crawford that drew the official's ire.

Afterwards, Duncan made some pretty serious accusations that will probably result in a fine from the league. He said that Crawford has a "vendetta"against him and he doesn't know why. Duncan said the Crawford had it out from him from the beginning and that he was just looking for the chance to eject him. He even said that Crawford asked him, "Do you want to fight?'
Crawford has been in the NBA for a long time. He comes from a family of officials. His brother Jerry is an umpire in the majors. The family has the reputation for being hard-headed and stubborn. They are so well-known that HBO's "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel" did a piece on the family last year.

Despite the respect Crawford gets, in this case I am going to side with Duncan. Watching the game, at no point did I think that the complaining was getting out of hand. Crawford seemed to have a quick temper and I think there is something to Duncan's accusation.

I think it's time for the league to take a look at Crawford and decide if there is anything to this. He's had problems in the past and he might be getting too big for his britches again.

Then put Crawford and Duncan in the room and have them say their peace. If this carries over into the postseason, it could get ugly. Duncan is a superstar in the league and to have him ejected in every game Crawford works or play timidly due to the fear of being tossed won't benefit anyone -- especially the fans...

I also got to watch some of the Jackie Robinson Day festivities before the Dodgers-Padres game Sunday night. It was nice to see the players around the league pay tribute by wearing his No. 42. A lot of the players who wore 42 had big games as well. Andruw Jones homered for the Braves, Cleveland’s C.C.Sabathia threw eight innings of one-hit ball and Tony Clark in Arizona hit a pair of homers.

The one player who is still allowed to wear the No. 42 regularly, the Yankees' Mariano Rivera, had a day to forget (The retirement of the No. 42 league wide kicked in 10 years ago, but players who wore the number at the time were allowed to continue). He blew a two-run lead with two outs in the ninth Sunday, yielding a walk-off three-run homer to Marco Scutaro of the A's. It was just the fourth career walk-off homer allowed by Rivera. Think Jackie, a life-long Brooklyn Dodger, had anything to do with the Yankee misfortune?...

I also caught some of the NHL playoffs on Versus -- that is after spending 15 minutes trying to find the channel. I was watching the Dodgers game when I decided to see some of the Stars' game against the Canucks. It took me a few minutes to track down the channel, and when I finally did, it didn't surprise me at all to find the game not broadcast in HD. Not only that, it wasn't even being broadcast by a Versus crew. It was the Candian Broadcasting Corporation feed.

What a shame. I know that Comcast, the cable company that owns Versus, is charging customers an arm and a leg, so why can't they put that money to use by at least broadcasting all playoff games in HD and with a Versus crew? I guess Comcast Chairman and CEO Brian L. Roberts hates to break into that $27.8 million he pocketed in 2007 for making his customers experience a little better...

Finally, I'm sure you will all be happy to know that after two weeks of fantasy baseball I'm at the .500 mark. After a 2-7-1 record in week one, I scored a 7-2-1 mark in week two. Adam Dunn and Josh Beckett have been coming up big for me. That means that something bad is on the horizon for those two. If you have them, trade them now. You don't want too many players that I have. As you know, I'm the mush. Just ask Ohio State's football and basketball teams.

Let's ramble. gwiley@phanaticmag.com
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