Aretha Franklin knew what she was talking about. The definition of respect is a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements. Theoretically, we all strive to show people respect, however, just how to show that respect seems to be a moving target. For some, financial gain or promotion, others it’s a pat on the back or being acknowledged for your hard work, dedication or success in any variety of ways. But the professional athlete is a whole different animal. Their definition of respect changes frequently and is very often defined by sports agents, insecurity or a posse that easily influences the athlete’s thought process.
Pablo Sandoval says he didn’t feel respected by the San Francisco Giants and hence signed a deal with the Boston Red Sox. Sandoval said the Giants disrespected his agent but declined going into detail. The Giants were not only willing to match the Red Sox offer this offseason, they were willing to exceed 100 million. Sandoval went on to say “If you want me around, you make the effort to push and get me back”. Sandoval played seven years and won three rings for the Giants and was a fan favorite. He has gone out of his way to bash the Giants and says he will only miss manager Bruce Bochy and Hunter Pence. What else could the Giants have done to show Sandoval respect? No one knows for sure, but athletes often behave like little children because in many cases they are pampered growing up and never fully mature. If Sandoval truly felt disrespected, go to the Giants, communicate the problem and resolve it instead of taking the easy way out and disparaging your former employer and making yourself look petulant in the process.
The AFC East teams have been perennial whipping boys for the Patriots, but I believe the Miami Dolphins are much closer to catching the Patriots than people give them credit for. Adding Ndamakong Suh will give them a toughness and attitude they have sorely lacked and the defensive front for Miami could be the best in football. Ryan Tannehill has been in the league four years and threw for 27 TD’s and 12 picks last season and continues to show signs of improvement. The Jets will be dominant on defense perhaps among the top three units in the league and if offensive coordinator Chan Gailey can work his magic with Ryan Fitzpatrick like he did in Buffalo, things could get interesting. I pick Buffalo for last. As of now, the Patriots look to have the worst defense in the division this year and that should be alarming to everyone because defense wins.
What the heck are the Kansas City Chiefs doing signing receiver Jeremy Maclin as a free agent? No Chiefs receiver has caught a touchdown since 2013 and Alex Smith can’t throw the ball consistently past eight yards anyway. Maclin might stretch the field but Jamaal Charles might have to tip the ball forward for Maclin to catch it.
Why is it DeMarco Murray was only great because the Cowboys had a great offensive line? I don’t remember hearing people saying that when Emmitt Smith played behind a ridiculously good offensive line. As a matter of fact, I would argue that Emmitt Smith has probably been the biggest beneficiary of any running back in the last 25-30 years by putting up amazing stats because of a great O-line. I think the Cowboys are going to very much regret him moving to the Eagles. I’m not thinking Lance Dunbar or Joseph Randle are winning the rushing title any time soon.
Amazing what is happening with the Boston Celtics right now. They are 7-3 in the last 10 and realistically should be 9-1. In two of those losses to Golden State and Orlando, they blew 20 plus point leads and the only other loss was in Cleveland who has the best record in the NBA since Jan. 15 at 21-5. The Celtics starting five for those of you wondering are Tyler Zeller (acquired for nothing by Boston so the Cavs could get cap room to acquire LeBron James), Evan Turner, the second pick in the 2010 draft who was happily discarded by Philly and Indiana, Brandon Bass, who has been a backup on good teams and desperate starter on bad ones and the guards are Avery Bradley and rookie Marcus Smart. Not only is Avery Bradley the highest paid player in that group at a mere seven million, but the total salaries of the Celtics starters is slightly over 22 million which is cumulatively less than Kobe Bryant, Joe Johnson????? And Carmelo Anthony. Coach Brad Stevens had his first winning month in February since taking over by going 7-4 and has every player on this team contributing in one way or another and playing hard. The coaching acumen and motivational skills that Stevens is starting to show are exactly what GM Danny Ainge had envisioned when he lured him from Butler.
The Celtics remaining schedule has 19 games left including two games against Cleveland and Toronto and games against the Clippers, Spurs and Thunder. The other 12 games are very winnable. By the way, prior to trading Rajon Rondo the Celtics were 9-14 and are 18-22 since. Dallas was 19-8 and is 22-17 since.
Montreal, Tampa Bay, NY Rangers, Nashville, Anaheim, and St. Louis all have between 89 and 91 points right now to lead the NHL. There is no clear cut favorite this year heading into the playoffs and the two most consistent playoff performers (LA Kings and Chicago) are lurking. The Kings though would not make it as of now despite their most recent push.
Don’t look now but early reports on Alex Rodriguez look promising.
Before I get into this week’s blog, I wanted to introduce a new section that will close each blog called “Sports Cheater of the Week”.
I want to start out by defending Joe Montana. It is just downright unfair all the grief he is getting for having inflated stats thanks to his main man Jerry Rice cheating all those years. Apparently, Rice who played in the NFL from 1985-2004 missed the NFL memo in 1981 that said stickum and other adhesives are banned. Montana, who played with Rice from 1985-92, said he believes that quarterback Tom Brady cheated and is responsible for the New England Patriots cheating leading up to the Superbowl. What are the odds that in eight seasons together, Montana ever witnessed Rice using stickum or high fived him/shook hands with Rice while he had the substance on? I would hate to think Montana turned the other cheek. It’s unfortunate that such a deity like Montana would allow his Hall of Fame teammate to cheat knowing that his touchdown, yardage and Superbowl total could have been adversely effected when those passes weren’t sticking to Rice’s hands.
Two last Superbowl notes. Pete Carroll continues to get grilled for not handing the ball to Marshawn Lynch at the end of the game but the flack is somewhat misguided. If Carroll had thrown to Chris Matthews on a fade or a much lower risk play in general, there would have been very little grief about him passing. It was the type of pass play he chose as opposed to passing the ball. Even if it is incomplete, he still has two more downs to give the ball to Lynch with one timeout remaining. Also, the contention that Seattle lost the game as opposed to the Patriots winning is misguided as well. The Patriots outplayed Seattle the entire first half aside from the last 30 seconds (which could go down as the worst 30 seconds of defense in franchise history). Seattle won the third quarter, New England won the fourth quarter and Jermaine Kearse made a miraculous catch on 3rd and 10 that allowed Seattle to have the chance to blow it in the first place. New England played a better overall game and executed when it counted the most. The best team won.
The Boston Celtics continue to be a black mark on the Hub sports scene as they now have the longest drought without a championship as they haven’t won since the 2007-08 season.
The teams with the best hope of snapping their cities’ drought are Cleveland who has gone 66 years and has hopes with the Cavaliers and Atlanta who has gone 19 and has hopes with the Hawks.
Chris Paul was in the news twice in the last week and not showing well in either. The first was when he criticized a rookie female official to a reporter after the game regarding a technical foul he received. In his post-game rant, he implied that “This might not be for her.” So the question was whether he was degrading the referee because she was female or because she was a rookie. My guess is a little of both although in fairness to Paul he has no negative track record in this area. The Clippers lead the league in technicals and had issues with Lauren Holtkamp earlier in the season but Paul didn’t endear himself to anybody by leaving himself open for ridicule. And then to add insult to injury, in Sunday’s matchup with Oklahoma City, Paul drilled a jumper in the face of Thunder player Mitch McGary and preceded to stare down the Thunder bench to which Kevin Durant yelled “You’re down 20 now, homie.” No better response to a taunt than “scoreboard.” The Clippers lost 131-108.
And lastly, what would be a blog without a New York Knicks reference. Ever-popular owner James Dolan, who is probably only runner-up to Al Davis for consecutive years destroying a franchise got into it with a long-time Knicks season ticketholder this week. Irving Bierman, who claims to have rooted for the Knicks since 1952 lambasted Dolan in a letter regarding scandals and poor decisions during Dolan’s tenure. Dolan responded by calling Bierman a sad and possible alcoholic who makes his family miserable and as if that wasn’t enough, really dug in when he encouraged Bierman to start rooting for the Nets instead. If Dolan really wanted to insult the guy he could have said any of the following to Bierman: You deserve to get business advice from Isiah Thomas. You deserve to get traded to Denver with Marcus Camby, Nene Hilario and Mark Jackson for only Antonio McDyess. You should sit next to Renaldo Balkman at all future games since he was drafted one pick before Rajon Rondo and lastly, you should be forced to feed Eddy Curry since to acquire him the Knicks gave up the draft picks that turned into LaMarcus Aldridge and Joakim Noah. On second thought, the Nets don’t look so bad.
Great move by the continuously improving San Diego Padres for locking up James Shields to a four year and approximately 75 million dollar deal. Petco Park is a notorious pitcher’s park and a small market which will be perfect for Shields after his days in Tampa and K.C. Interesting how much less Shields took in years and money than Jon Lester and Max Scherzer who are clearly better. Lester got double the money and Scherzer almost got triple.
Sports Cheater of the Week:
Montreal Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban. Every sports has ways athletes can cheat and let’s face it, the majority of professional athletes will utilize any advantage they can get unless you are Cris Carter and have never broken a rule in your life.
Subban, who is a notorious diver/embellisher etc. was fined $2000 for trying to trick officials into calling a penalty after his second infraction of the season. This embarrasses the game and his team and is unnecessary for a player of his caliber. Interestingly enough, Subban continues to do this on a regular basis which would seem to imply that it is not discouraged by the coaching staff or management.