Tuesday, January 12, 2010

At least we know pro wrestling is clean, right?

Florida's early NFL departures now stand at five, which appears likely to be the final number. No one could have been surprised that Carlos Dunlap is going, with sure first round status awaiting him, but some might have thought Maurkice Pouncey would stick around since his brother Mike decided to as well. Good luck to Major Wright, a big hitter who's sometimes suspect in coverage. I suspect his draft status will not turn out to be what he imagines it is, although I hope things work out well for him. Of the five decisions, Wright's is the only one that seems iffy to me. Joe Haden and Dunlap are surefire early choices, Aaron Hernandez may not go first round but will go first day, and Pouncey will likely do the same.

Mark McGwire's admission that he used steroids during his record setting 1998 season as well as a large portion of the rest of the decade was the most surprising news since it turned out Clay Aiken was gay. It's still noteworthy that he finally acknowledged the obvious and explained why he didn't five years ago in front of Congress. McGwire's desire to avoid self incrimination was pretty clear with the "not here to talk about the past" answers at the time, but it wasn't known that the Alberto Gonzales led Justice Department inexplicably wouldn't approve immunity for McGwire even though he confessed his use to the committee chairs in private. At that hearing, McGwire pledged to work to keep kids away from steroids. He followed that up with about as much effort as O.J. put in on his search for the real killers of Ron and Nicole. If people want to criticize McGwire now, the failure to act on that promise is probably the best place to start. He otherwise seems to be handing his reentry into baseball about as well as is possible given the circumstances, including apologizing personally to the Maris family.

Lots of things led to the homer crazy era of baseball - the new parks were mostly smaller, weight training and nutrition legitimately improved, video and computer scouting made it easier to hit, and lots of players put all kinds of illicit substances in their bodies. Figuring out how much credit to assign to all those different factors is a near impossible task, so we'll never be able to know how much difference steroids made for McGwire and guys like him. MLB needs to figure out how to handle this era for Hall of Fame purposes. Do admitted cheats get treated differently than ones who'll never fess up like Roger Clemens? What about guys who've had suspicions raised but never have had any hard evidence of use surface like Pudge Rodriguez or Jeff Bagwell? Some kind of policy needs to be in place, or we're going to be reading grandstanding columns forever from BBWAA people abut their individual stances on the subject.

Pete Carroll's hiring by Seattle has drawn renewed attention to the NFL's Rooney Rule. The rule is a well intentioned one, but it frequently creates ridiculous circumstances like the ones we've had this year in Washington and Seattle. Sometimes a team makes a coaching move knowing who they want to hire, and there's no shame in that. Why wouldn't Washington want a two time Super Bowl winner with a great resume to be their head coach? Because of the Rooney Rule though, the Skins pretended they were interviewing defensive assistant Jerry Gray and Seattle had to insult Vikings DC Leslie Frazier's intelligence as well. My suggestion on how to fix this is simple: make the Rooney Rule apply only to teams interviewing more than one person for their open position. When Tampa Bay hired Raheem Morris as their head coach, they weren't required to interview a white coach before making the hire. If you know who you want before the process starts, regardless of their race, that should be fine.

It's hard to tell when bands and realy gone for good. The Eagles have been back together performing for over a decade after spending the Eighties insisting that would never happen under any circumstances. The Police did a reunion tour 25 years after they split up. Seventeen years after Guns N' Roses blew up, things aren't looking too good though. Slash says he's turned down over 100 million dollars for a possible reunion tour with Axl and the guys. Last time I was at Best Buy they had around eighty copies of Chinese Democracy still on the racks, so if a reunion hasn't happened yet I'm not thinking the demand's going to get hotter.

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