Ephedra banned in minors

Whoop dee freaking do.

What a brave stand by Major League Baseball, banning ephedra in the minors. Whew, that was a close one, pretty soon ,they might actually have to do something about ephedra use among major leaguers. Heck, the day after Bechler's death, about half of the Orioles were publicly admitting they used ephedra. This isn't an isolated incident. And thinking anyone would buy it as a real step towards the health of the players.

posted by Poseur 2/28/2003 11:06:00 AM

Klan supports Augusta National

The Augusta National Golf Club's policy of all-male membership has gained a surprise supporter, the American White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.

J.J. Harper, imperial wizard of the Cordele-based KKK group, on Thursday requested an application for a permit from the Richmond County Sheriff's Department to protest during the Masters tournament.

"We are going to stand up for the rights of the Augusta National to choose whomever they want to choose as a member of their club," Harper said in a telephone interview on Thursday evening.

Where would our morning be without a story about golf and the Klan? The Klan, people. The Kluckers are getting out the white hoods to lend a helping hand to golf. Yee haw.

posted by Poseur 2/28/2003 10:44:00 AM

Jason went through the cuts yesterday, and I'll throw my two cents in. First off, here's the list. It's on, and I'd like to say their new design is simply terrible. Flash is the scourge of the internet, developed by the devil and a team of a demon programmers. On to the interesting cuts.

Look, some times are in cap jail and just have to clear out lots of salary, it's not a personnel decision, it's simply money. that's why Atlanta cut $10.25 million, Cleveland $24.9 million, Denver $11.8, and San Diego $9.5. The team notably absent is Oakland, who seems to be working on the theory if you ignore the problem it will go away. Note to Al: make the cuts. You have no choice, just do it and don't drag it out. You're only making it worse.

Wesley Walls got axed. He hasn't been an elite tight end since 1999 when he caught 63 passes for 822 yards. He bottomed out this year at 19 and 241. All for the low, low price of $4 million. The only person surprised by this cut is Wesley's mom.

Most of Cleveland's savings came in Jamir Miller's $19 million. Ok, it must have been fun to cut Dwayne Rudd after he pretty much defined in-game stupidity. But Miller is a stud. He's not Ray Lewis, but he's still an elite linebacker. But in this age of tight salary caps, Miller had to be insane to think he'd ever see that $19 million. No player in the league will ever have a salary like that with the current cap.

Hosuton realized their mistake in giving a return specialist big money, and showed Jermaine Lewis the door. They were flushing $4 million down the toilet on a guy who made almost zero positive contribution.

I'm with Jason on Jim Miller. I'm not his biggest fan, but the Bears save a whopping $300k. If nothing else, he's worth that much to be the backup. Similarly, why did the Dolphins cut Dedric Ward? Sure, he only had 19 catches in a limited role, but he costs about $800k. That's not a huge expense, and it's about the going rate for a player of his skill set. That's a grass-is-always-greener cut. Ward's not going to set the world o fire, but he's a good player making a positive contribution to the team. Will the Dolphins find someone else for that role as effective for less cash? Doubtful.

Kordell Stewart was probably the third best college QB/pro wideout on his own team (Randle-El and Ward are better, and probably better QB's). He never should have gotten that huge deal, and his free agency is an IQ test for every front office in the league. If any team brings Kordell in for big money and hands him a starting job, they will not make the playoffs. The Steelers won in spite of, not because of Stewart, and every Ravens fan should do a silent prayer that they don't have a QB controversy next year between Blake and Stewart.

The Redskins cut Stephen Davis. We all knew it was coming, and I'm of two minds about this one. Davis makes $7 million, he doesn't fit in Spurrier's scheme and they are absolutely barren at the wideout slot, while they have some decent running backs who can carry the load. On the other hand, Davis is a beast. He's a bruising runner and just about every team could use him. Then again, 4.0 yards per carry isn't setting the world on fire, and that's his average in each of the last three seasons. 21 running backs average over 4.0, so let's not buy into the Davis is the best back in the NFL hype. All things considered, I have to agree with Spurrier. Davis just didn't fit, but he'll fit somewhere else.

The biggest cut is, of course, Emmitt Smith. And while I don't believe a team should hang on to a player because of the memories, the Cowboys are cutting Smith to make room for Troy Hambrick to get more carries. Troy Hambrick. How is that a step up?

posted by Poseur 2/28/2003 10:38:00 AM


All Good Things Come To An End

On Thursday the Dallas Cowboys cut Emmitt Smith, the NFL's all time leading rusher. In a lose-lose situation an emotional Jerry Jones announced the move, described it as a very unhappy day.

And it's unhappy for football fans in general. I gather even Redskins fans are sad to see Emmitt leave Dallas. As Jones said, it is time and the decision has to be made. On the one hand we have the league's most prolific rusher saying he can still carry the load at age 34, wanting to contribute, and aiming for 20,000 career rushing yards. On the other hand we have a struggling team that can't afford to pay a 34 year old back millions of dollars per year to submit diminishing returns. This is the NFL, and business decisions can't be made on sentimental value. A few points germane to this decision...

1) The decision is in the best interest of the Dallas Cowboys, by that I mean the team that will take the field in 2003.
2) Though it's a tense situation and neither party is happy, there is a genuine respect and friendship between Smith and Jones. Smith had gifts for Jones when he made the statement. That's class.
3) Smith can still be productive in the NFL. I'm not going to bet against his hitting 20,000 yards. Go for it!
4) It just won't seem right seeing Emmitt Smith in another uniform.
posted by uberschuck 2/27/2003 11:55:00 PM

Standing up for your beliefs

But within the narrow world of sports, from whence this particular story comes, it begs a different question: How often do we see an athlete standing up for something in today's sports culture, even if that something happens to infuriate a vast majority of the athlete's fellow citizens?

I personally do not agree with Smith's decision, but I also believe she has every right to make it. Because dozens of cable and radio talk shows will beat this issue to death in the next few days, I say we now leave this one behind and move on to the broader sports topic Smith's behavior inspires: the fact that we haven't seen a lot of this lately. (To which a majority of Americans, based on this one instance, are probably screaming, "Good.")

But wait. Isn't there something inherently fascinating about the athlete who emerges from the cookie-cutter image of his or her teammates or peers and dares to be different? Dares to open his or her eyes to something other than their own narrow-minded, the-world-definitely-revolves-around-me lifestyle? Dares to do something good on their own, to give their time to a cause, to perform some charitable act not first suggested by the accountant doing their taxes?

Chrisitine Brennan eloquently makes the point I was trying to make yesterday, which explains why she gets paid and I don't. We all know Tiger Woods has an opinion on Augusta, he just refuses to air it. Athletes are so image consious because, well, it means more money. And that's what makes this protest interesting. An athlete actually saying something, well, ,interesting is pretty rare. Who else uses their celebrity in such a public way, risking the slings and arrows of media and fan retaliation? Charles Barkley is about the only guy who springs to mind.

Who is the modern day Arthur Ashe?

The problem with Toni Smith's protest is that she cedes the flag to the imperialists and the war-mongers. She should come up with a way to take the symbol of the flag away from those who wish to use it as an excuse to kill people. The flag does stand for things: like freedom, democracy, and human rights. Turning your black on the flag gives the symbol away to those who wish to misuse it. The flag is not a symbol of hate and war, by making her protest, Smith concedes that it is.

posted by Poseur 2/27/2003 05:41:00 PM

Parting Company--NFL releases

There has been lots of action this week in the NFL. As we approach the free agency season, teams are running the numbers against the salary cap and telling some big name players to hit the road. A brief review.

Kordell Stewart: It's only about 5 years too late. I've never been convinced that Kordell could be a legit NFL starter. For a while he might have been proving me wrong with a Pro-Bowl year in 2001. And it's hard to believe that he's the second leading passer in Steelers history. That's in part because Bill Cowher made the mistake of keeping him around so long. More Stewart inconsitancies and the surprising play of Tommy Maddox made him expendable. That, and the Steelers save $6 million. See ya.

Stephen Davis: A few years ago Davis was a rising star. Since then his performance has withered away. Steve Spurrier doesn't appear to want to feature him, and he simply isn't producing like he did a few years ago. He's definitely not worth the price tag. A no brainer by the Redskins.

Chris Carter: Signed by Miami in the middle of the 2002 season, Carter, we're told, wanted to return to the team, but only as a starter. Yeah, Chris, you caught about 3 balls last year. I can see you being a starter in Miami. Sure!

Jim Miller: Miller is a mediocre QB at best, and he's 32, but this is a mistake by the Bears. They had a dismal QB situation for a decade and now they're releasing the guy who led them to a division championship in 2001. It's not even about money--this cut only saves them half a million dollars. Even if you don't wan't Miller running the show, keep him around as a reliable back-up or a mentor for a young QB.

Emmitt Smith: Say it ain't so. It will not be offical until Thursday. We'll keep you posted.

posted by uberschuck 2/27/2003 02:45:00 AM

Geno Auriemma & Toni Smith

Geno Auriemma, coach of #1 UCONN, has weighed in on the Toni Smith issue, saying he considers her actions a reson to kick her off the team. Says Geno...

"The flag is a symbol of what we stand for. Anybody who does [what Smith has done], they have the right to do it, but to me it's disrespectful and, as a coach, I would have that right not to have that person on the team. Then they can sue me and say, `You're denying me my rights.'"

Perhaps it's fair to say Auriemma acknowledges her convictions but condemns her actions. But is that a reason to dismiss a player from a team? I gather a lot of people would say not. But does Auriemma have an argument? Coaches can dismiss a player for conduct detrimental to the team, which is probably the only angle on which to argue his position, and it is conceivable that such a situation could create turmoil on a team. In the end, it's a matter of opinion, but his prediction of a law suit is probably a safe bet.

That's all hypothetical; let's get back to reality. I saw an interview with Toni Smith on ESPN. According to her the American flag stands for 1) The indigenous people who were slaughtered throughout American history, 2) the millions of slaves who were oppressed under the flag, and 3) the myriad of other poor and downtrodden who have suffered in America.

Oh, she also mentioned that it can stand for people who sacrificed their lives for this nation. I wonder if she's encoutered anything positive about America in her studies?

Toni Smith is a prime example of a person who thinks she's more noble than she really is. She'd be better off choosing a form of protest directed toward her government, not one that is insulting to her nation. I'll be glad when her 15 minutes of fame is done.

posted by uberschuck 2/27/2003 02:22:00 AM


A look at high, mid, and low majors. Who deserves to go to the Big Dance?

Check out the Breakdown
posted by Poseur 2/26/2003 09:36:00 PM

You probably wouldn't know who Toni Smith was if she hadn't refused to salute the flag. Before I throw in my voice to the cacophony of shrill voices, read these two columns here and here. And let's late Ms. Smith defend her actions in herew own words:

"For some time now, the inequalities that are embedded into the American system have bothered me. As they are becoming progressively worse and it is clear that the government's priorities are not on bettering the quality of life for all of its people, but rather on expanding its own power, I cannot, in good conscience, salute the flag."

To which I say, good for her. It's about friggin time someone in athletics showed even an ounce of backbone. Tiger Woods can't even pressure Augusta over membership practices out of Reconstruction. Where are the articulate men of conscience who gain our attention through athletic prowess and then use that attention to point out injustice? Where is today's Muhammad Ali, John Carlos, Arthur Ashe, or even Bill Walton? You're telling me Michael Jordan has no political opinions? Of course he does, he's just too careful selling product to alienate any potential buyers. He's not alone. OK, Steve Nash showed up to the NBA All-Star game wearing an anti-war shirt, but he's Canadian. I don't mean to denigrat Canada, but taking a position against the American government isn't exactly a risky stand in the Artic North.

So good for Toni Smith. She's taken on the heckling of the opposing student bodies, even those that are full of future military men. She's not attacking anyone, and her protest is clearly non-violent and impassioned. Is it misguided? I think so. The flag represents freedom, and just because the Bush junta is full of a bunch of criminals, it doesn't mean you should turn your back (literally) on America. Heck, most Americans are against the war, so salute the flag and protest Bush. But how does one do that? Smith has a captive audience, and she's got beleif. so she turns her back on the flag in protest, not of America, but of tis government. It's not easy, but she did it. Good for her.

Stand tall.

posted by Poseur 2/26/2003 10:16:00 AM

How not to get a bid

In contrast to Seton Hall, there is Colorado. After watching Texas Tech play their way back onto the bubble, the Buffaloes went on the road and promptly lost by 30 to a conference bottom-feeder. These are the kind of games a team cannot lose down the stretch and there they go, losing to ISU down the stretch. The bubble hasn't burst, but it took a hit.
posted by Poseur 2/26/2003 09:59:00 AM

Bad day in the MAC. First, the Zips upset Central Michigan. It was a close game, but the Chippewas couldn't afford the loss. Then, Kent State gets waxed by the Herd. That's bad news for MAC fans, great news if your favorite team is on the bubble. Because the MAC is pretty much assured now of only getting one bid. Central Michigan had no margin for error, and Kent State's late season implosion has just been painful to watch.

All in all, it makes it a wonderful night for Seton Hall. Rutgers led for most of the night, but the last three minutes, things came apart and the Pirates scored the last 10 points to secure the win. Now, with a seven-game win streak, they are one game out of first place in the Big East. This is a team left for dead at the beginning of the month, and now with every other team seemingly stumbling during the stretch, the Seton Hall team is really clicking on all cylinders. do you want to play them in March? I wouldn't.
posted by Poseur 2/26/2003 09:55:00 AM


Utah tops BYU, controls MWC

It's a shame a game this big didn't even make a dent in the national consciousness. The Moutnain West isn't the ACC, but it's a real good conference, they might send four teams to the Big Dance this year. Both BYU and Utah are in the RPI top 25. These aren't two chump teams battling for some obscure league title.

They might as well be. OK, the Notre Dame tilt probably deserves top billing because it was such an upset, but did we know that in advance? What do we have to do to pay attention to top teams out west? This is exactly the kind of crap that leads to charges of east coast bias. The tree fell down in the forest, and no one heard it.

posted by Poseur 2/25/2003 10:15:00 AM

Texas Tech keeps tourney hopes alive

Before last month's game in Lubbock, Oklahoma State defensive stopper Melvin Sanders said Texas Tech guard Andre Emmett was his kryptonite.

Some kryptonite. Emmett scored 30 points while the rest of his teammates combined for 32. Emmett is the Big 12's leading scoring, no small feat when you consider the conference's overall quality, and he just carried his team on his back last night. They aren't out of the woods yet, with games against Texas and Kansas still on the horizon.

However, this is the kind of win that the selection committee notices. Late in the season, on the road, in conference against one of the top teams in the nation. Heck, they even overcame a 15-point second half deficit. This was an epic win for Texas Tech.
posted by Poseur 2/25/2003 10:05:00 AM

UConn tops Notre Dame

Huge, huge win for the Huskies. Despite being in the top 25 all season, UConn's had a pretty lousy RPI and no real quality wins. This win secures a winning conference record and shows they can beat one of the top teams in the country.

UConn can put on their dancing shoes. They're in.
posted by Poseur 2/25/2003 09:24:00 AM

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