Thursday, July 28, 2011

Back and Stuff

Man, what a difference a quarter makes.

Just three months ago, I was in between several trips back and forth across the country, to some of the grossest places the USA has to offer in fact, and mired in without a doubt two of the very worst transactions my career as a lawyer has ever taken me. I was barely seeing my family, I was struggling to keep up with the backlog at work to boot, and I was as close to miserable as I ever get, and it seemed like it would never end.

Mercifully, with June came the closing of the two deals, and since then I've barely had to travel at all for work. In fact, here just three months later, I've been able to take Hammer Wife and and the kids away to three different beaches along the east coast, for what the Hammer Kids have been calling "Beach Camp" and having a blast. Seeing my older girls get out there with me and bodysurf in the ocean now that they now how to swim is just priceless, watching them get completely wiped out by that wave that nobody even saw coming, disappear briefly below the shallow surface of the water, but then pop right back up, dust themselves off, and hurl themselves back at mother nature for another go-around. It really makes a daddy proud. And to think back even as late as early Spring, I could literally never have even seen such fun times coming in the future. It's just crazy how life can be sometimes.

Anyways, so Beach Camp has definitely had a negative effect on my blog frequency, but the positive effect on life is immeasurable. And now I'm back. I had written a monster post about the baseball season, reviewing all of my preseason over-under picks and analyzing all the teams, and then hungry blogger ate it right up. Gluttonous pig. Rather than re-write that whole thing, I'm just going to post up my random thoughts from the past week or so below and get that all out of the way in short order.

I thought that the Mets might finally starting to understand the notion of buying low and selling high. Right now is clearly the time to offload Carlos Beltran, who is having a strong first half of the season just in time for his go-year to get himself a fatty new contract. Remember the last time Carlos Beltran busted out of nowhere to come onto the scene and get himself a huge mega contract? Remember that postseason blowout with the Astros that led him to the Mets in the first place? The Mets are doing a good job dumping Beltran now when his value is clearly at its highest. They didn't get a ton in exchange for him, but the Giants are only renting him for a couple of months here, and in my view they almost certainly won't resign Beltran at season's end when he becomes a free agent. So the Mets did ok with the Beltran situation, and so did the Giants IMO. It's the team who signs Beltran to the next big deal who's gonna get screwed here, cuz this guy has shown it over and over again: when the motivation (money) is gone, so is the performance.

But then the Mets turn around and make the same mistake all over again, this time with Jose Reyes. Here is Reyes, another guy in his go year to get a new contract, and suddenly he's busting out with far and away his best season of all time, and really his first-ever awesome MLB season. He's not missing 67 games due to a stubbed toe, he's running out all his hits and making a great all-around effort, and he would be at the top of the list for the National League MVP if his team wasn't as bad as it is. But if anybody, ever, was at their highest value right now, it's Jose Reyes. If the Mets knew what they were doing, they would dump this guy in exchange for a big young starting pitcher, and a prospect of some kind, right now. Signing Jose Reyes to a long-term deal will be a total disaster, as the Mets will be forced to pay Reyes his overinflated value right now, only to watch him miss another 70 games in 2012 and hobble through his 30's as the team buys him when he is high instead of selling when they have the chance. As a Phillies fan, I like seeing the vestiges of the old Mets remaining with the organization -- the Wilpons might be the literal worst owners in all of baseball these days -- but it's amazing how obvious the truth can be to some people while others just consistently misread the situation.

Speaking of my Phillies, not many fans want to come right out with this, and I know I've seen some better overall records at this point in the season before, but I'm going to do what most Philadelphia fans are afraid to do right now and just say it: this might be the best Philadelphia Phillies team of all time. There, I said It-That-Must-Not-Be-Said. We already saw in 2010 how the Phillies failed to step up in the NL Championship Series when expectations were at their highest in a how will the current squad deal with even higher expectations here in 2011?

Oh, and Charlie Manuel: How the fuck do you reintroduce that shitbag Brad Lidge to the mix with this team the other night, after finally being free of him all season long so far? For a guy who is perhaps one more World Series victory away from Cooperstown, the Phillies manager certainly has a consistent way of over-trusting his veterans to the detriment of his team.

And to finish out my baseball rants, how the fuck they allow that umpire to continue calling games after the debacle in the 19th inning in Atlanta the other day is beyond me. I mean, it's just like that assysniff ump with the perfect game from Armando Galarraga in Detroit last season -- there are fucking major league baseball umpires for crying out loud. In that spot -- especially in that fucking spot -- you have absolutely no fucking right to make that call unless you clearly see that a tag was missed, the runner clearly got a step in there ahead of time, etc. Which obviously did not happen, since both calls weren't even fucking close, and in the case of the Braves the other day, that runner still hasn't even touched home plate at all, let alone ahead of the tag. It's simple, really: that idiot Jerry Neals already decided long before the play at the plate in the 19th inning that he was sick and tired of working -- he had already put in more than two full games' worth of work and it was nigh on 2am -- and that the next schmuck who even came close to home plate, he was going to rule safe and call it a day. And an umpire who ever makes that kind of a predetermined decision -- under any circumstances whatsoever -- without a doubt, should be banned from calling baseball games for the rest of his life. They should ban his ass from major league baseball stadiums, period.

Oh, and about my preseason over-under picks. Suffice it to say that right now my biggest misses on the season are the Pirates on the downside, and the Reds and the Rockies on the upside in the NL, and the Indians and the Tigers on the downside in the AL. Overall I am looking at 14 up and 14 down among my preseason picks, with two of the picks a virtual tie at this point with about 104-105 games in the books for most teams on the 2011 regular season. So, as usual, it looks like it's going to come down to the last week of the season to find out if I can continue my streak of over-.500 preseason over-under picks in baseball and football.

And to at least begin the 2011 NFL ranting season, can I just be the first to say that the owners officially accomplished nothing by their silly fake "lockout" which was really nothing more after all than a standard negotiating tactic that the owners were not ultimately willing to allow extend into their 2011 regular season. When the Cardinals are paying unproven Kevin Kolb a five-year contract extension worth $63.5 million with $21 million guaranteed -- this for a guy with just a handful of mediocre NFL starts under his belt, and 11 lifetime tds vs 14 interceptions? $21 million guaranteed? And you locked out this year to get this? I mean, just look at the Carolina Panthers, coming off a 2-14 season last year and with a new head coach in town. First, it was defensive end Charles Johnson, whom the Panthers signed for $72 million over 6 years with $32 million of that money guaranteed. Then it was runningback DeAngelo Williams, who scored a 5-year, $43 million deal, with $21 million guaranteed. Sidney Rice signed with the Seahawks for a 5-year deal in the $40 million that includes almost $19 million in guaranteed money. Santana Moss. Santorio Holmes. Steve Breaston. The list just goes on and on and on. The NFL owners have the exact same problem today that they had before their fake lockout that they refused to follow through with in the end -- their player contracts are not guaranteed, so the players simply insist on extracting as much signing bonuses, up-front and guaranteed payouts in the contracts as is humanly possible. The players clearly have the upper hand in the real world in the NFL -- regardless of what the owners say about the outcome of collective bargaining negotiations -- and to think that this is the situation just literally days after agreeing to end their lockout of the players, this is about as weak as the NFL owners have ever looked against what has traditionally been the weakest of the four major sports' players unions in this country.

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