I Love It, Brother

December 14, 2010

I think that it took most of the sports world by storm when Cliff Lee agreed to a contract with the Philadelphia Phillies over the New York Yankees and Texas Rangers. New York and Texas were widely thought to be the only two major players in the battle for Lee before last night. As a supporter of the “Anyone But The Yankees” cause, this is good news, in a sense. However, Philadelphia now has the best starting pitching core in the majors since Atlanta’s trio of Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and John Smoltz over a decade ago. Quite honestly, it may be one of the best pitching rotations in the past few decades. Obviously, that claim is up for debate, but let’s take a look at the potential starting rotation for the Phillies next year. Of the five starters (Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt, Cole Hamels, and Joe Blanton), two (Halladay and Lee) are Cy Young winners. A third (Oswalt) has been a Cy Young finalist multiple times. Hamels was the 2008 World Series MVP, and not too long ago was the club’s ace. Blanton, while having the least credentials in the group, still posted a 9-6 overall record last season.

The only way I can see Philadelphia not winning the National League is if they have the offensive firepower of a local coach pitch team. Yes, the Phils were sub-par offensively last season, and the departure of Jason Werth does not help matters. However, we saw what happened with San Francisco this past fall; it was almost impossible to earn runs on their spectacular starting rotation. San Francisco’s offense only had to squeeze out a few runs a game, and the superior pitching more often than not preserved the small leads. The young core that San Francisco had doesn’t even compare to what Philadelphia has now. Four elite pitchers, all in their prime. Unless injuries become an issue, someone better send a memo to all the National League General Managers: You better watch out for the “Philly Phour”.

Does anyone else feel even a little bit bad for Brett Favre? Sure, for three years the Favre Chronicles has been a soap-opera worthy of a mid-afternoon TV slot, but it was really kind of sad to see Favre’s Iron Man streak come to an end under the circumstances that it did. Not only was the game played in Detroit, where the number of Minnesota fans is about the same as that of residents of the city that still have a job, but to add insult to injury (no pun intended), Favre got to watch his team get crushed. You know it has to be painful to sit on the sidelines (again, no pun intended) as you watch your replacement trip his own running back on a simple handoff. No matter what you think of Favre’s antics, you have to admire his desire to play the game. On Yahoo! Sports, Favre is listed as questionable for this weekend’s game against Chicago, with chest, ankle, and right shoulder injuries. The man is practically falling apart, yet still will not admit defeat. However, due to many people’s perception of him, his greatest assets may always be at least partly overshadowed by his recent behavior. It’s unfortunate that Favre’s career looks as if it will end more like the final scene of The Hulk, rather than a hero of the game riding off into the sunset as it should.

You heard it here first; in three years, the Miami Hurricanes will make the rivalry with the Florida Gators relevant again. I believe that the Hurricanes made a great move by making Al Golden their new head coach, and I think that Florida fans may be missing Urban Meyer sooner than they think, as the university signed current Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp to be their head coach starting next season. Golden completely turned around a Temple team that hadn’t been to a bowl game since 1979 before going to the Eagle Bank Bowl last year. Like Muschamp, Golden is a former defensive coordinator, but has experience running the entire show, and was one of the most sought after young coaches in the game dating back to last year. I think that Golden is much like Meyer, in that he shows the ability to improve a team wherever he goes. Muschamp, while being an extremely talented defensive coordinator, announced that he will institute a pro-style offense at Florida. It is very difficult to successfully run a pro-style offense, and as a defensive coordinator with no prior head coaching experience, will likely be even more difficult for Muschamp. Also, Florida fans can complain about the spread, but one of the reasons Meyer implemented that style of offense is because, as of late, Florida has not been able to recruit the players to run the pro-style. I think we will find that Golden is a true head coach, while Muschamp is just a very talented defensive coordinator. While neither team may be an elite college football power for awhile, I think that Miami will rise and Florida will continue to fall, making this a much more balanced rivalry as long as both of these men are at the helm.

– K. Becks

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