Coco's Brawlin, Casino Drive's Contusion and The Sports Take Mailbag

Hello again everybody...

Welcome to the cusp of yet another weekend. Hope you've got plenty of fun things planned.

First a couple of housekeeping notes. I'm constantly trying to tweak the blog to make it as reader-friendly and sensible as possible. To that end, I've dropped the "Baseball Notes" tag today because I felt compelled to drop in a last minute note about the Belmont. And I also wanted to clear up something about the mailbag. My intention is for the mailbag to be open to any questions or comments, not specific to baseball. So to include it in a "Baseball Notes" column doesn't make a ton of sense. Also, to keep the length from getting completely out of control, I'm holding off on the DFTU (sorry Dave) til Monday.

So enough about what today's column isn't, let's talk about what today's column is! Today I'll be talking about the brawl (and I used that term loosely) between the Red Sox (whom I hate) and the Rays last night. Then I'll fill you in on the latest big news about the Belmont. And finally it's the newest edition of The Sports Take Mailbag.

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Last night we had the latest dust up on a Major League ballfield. To explain it you have to go back to Wednesday night's match-up between the Red Sox (whom I hate) and the Rays. Early in that game Red Sox (whom I hate) OF Coco Crisp - yes, that's his real name - was caught trying to steal second. On the play, he injured his thumb as Rays SS Jason Bartlett blocked the bag with his leg. Crisp apparently took exception to this. So the next time he was on base, he tried to steal second again, and was caught again. But this time, he went in spikes-high. Meaning he had one of his feet up in the air which put Rays 2b Akinori Iwamura in serious danger of getting hurt. And if you go back and watch the video it's fairly obvious that Crisp intentionally started his slide late. So he was trying to come in hard. That's okay if you're trying to break-up a double play, but doesn't make sense on a stolen base attempt - unless you're trying to hurt somebody. After Crisp returned to the dugout, Rays manager Joe Maddon went to the mound, obstensibly to talk to his pitcher, but basically spent the entire time screaming at Crisp about his "bush league play".

So fast forward now to Thursday night. Apparently baseball justice demanded retribution on the part of the Rays. In Crisp's first at-bat of the game in the second inning, he was hit - obviously intentionally - on the right hip by Rays P James Shields. Crisp's reaction was to charge the mound and duck a wild swing by Shields before taking a few shots of his own which prompted a bench-clearing brawl. During the brawl, Rays DH Johnny Gomes also went after Crisp throwing his own set of haymakers.

In the end all 3 players were ejected and fines and suspensions are forthcoming.

So what do we make of all this? First of all, Crisp was out of line with his slide. If he got hurt on a play, I can understand being upset, but trying to intentionally injure another player in response is just flat wrong.

And honestly, I don't have a problem with what Shields did. Crisp tried to hurt one of his guys, so he responded. He didn't hit him high. He didn't knock him down. He put a fastball in the least-injurable part of the human anatomy.

What Gomes did, however, I could live without. If you're going to come off the bench, do so with the intent of separating players and try to keep people from getting hurt. Don't go in there and jump on a pile of guys and start throwing punches. That just looks like you're seeking an excuse to throw down without any legal consequences. Seriously Johnny, take a pill.

As I said expect stories in the next couple of days involving those three players being fined and suspended for their actions.

Next up, I have to add one more quick note about the Belmont. The big news out of New York today is that second-favorite, Casino Drive, has been diagnosed with a bruise on his left-rear hoof. A bruised hoof may not sound terribly significant, but if the horse starts to favor that leg, and not put an equal amount of weight on it due to the pain involved, that's when you start to have serious problems with the other legs.

Owner representative, Nobutaka Tada, said today, "We are not 100 percent happy with the movement of the hind leg. We haven't withdrawn him, just giving him an easy day. He probably stepped on something. He looks fine, he has a good appetite. He's not lame."

As of now they have no plans to scratch the horse from the race, but if he continues to favor that leg, I'm not sure they'll have much choice. No one single race is worth intentionally risking a horse's career and more importantly their life.

So if Casino Drive doesn't run, what does that mean? Well first of all it means I'll have to adjust my trifecta wager. In that case I'd drop the 5 (Casino Drive) from the ticket all together, obviously. Then I'd probably add the 3 (Macho Again) to my Place line, and the 10 (Icabad Crane) to the Show line. So the cost would remain the same.

Secondly, it makes Big Brown a near mortal lock for the Triple Crown. Sure something flukey could still happen, but Casino Drive is the biggest, best chance for someone to prevent Big Brown from making history.

So make sure you tune in early tomorrow to find out if Casino Drive is going to run!

Finally it's time for this week's Sports Take Mailbag. Today's question comes from Craig in Burnsville:

With their 4th cup in 11 seasons can we declare the Detroit Red Wings a NHL Dynasty and if not what do they need to do to reach that status?

I'm sorry to say it Craig, but I have to say no. I'll acknowledge that one could certainly make an argument that they are, but I think in this day and age, the definition of "dynasty" has changed to the point where, in my mind, the Red Wings don't currently qualify.

It's my belief that the definition has changed because of free agency and the massive turnovers that occur in professional sports rosters. In the last 20 years, roster turnover has increased to the point where it's exceedingly rare to be able to keep a group of players for any more than 5 years or so.

So for that reason, I contend that dynasties should be defined by what I call the "3 in 5 rule". That rule says: a sports dynasty shall be defined as a team who wins 3 or more championships in a contiguous 5 year period.

Prior to this year, the Red Wings last won the Stanley Cup Championship in 2002. That falls just outside the 5-year period necessary to qualify under the "3 in 5 rule". Is that fair? Well if you look at the two rosters, of the 28 players who suited up for the Red Wings this year, only 8 - less than one-third - were also on the 2002 roster. I don't know how you can call it a dynasty when the rosters are that dis-similar.

So who does qualify? Here's where I make it up to you Craig. The Red Wings of 1997-02 qualify. So during that period they were a dynasty. But not at the moment. If they win 2 out of the next 4, then once again they can call themselves a dynasty.

Who else in recent history qualifies? In the NFL, the New England Patriots won the Super Bowl in 2002, 2003 and 2005. They were a dynasty. In the NBA, the L.A. Lakers won the championship in 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2004. They definitely qualify. Also the San Antonio Spurs won in 2003, 2005 and 2007. They were a dynasty. And in baseball, the New York Yankees won the World Series in 1998, 1999 and 2000. They certainly qualify. Sadly enough, if the Red Sox (whom I hate) win one more in the next 3 years, they also would qualify. Okay, now I'm kind of depressed.

So thanks for the question Craig. I'm sure you'll disagree, but hopefully I've made some salient points. Thanks a ton for the question!

You too can be a part of The Sports Take Mailbag by emailing me at: Get your questions in early and often!

That's all for this week. Have a wonderful weekend. Remember to tune in to ABC at 5:25 central for the Belmont and root for Big Brown (and my trifecta)! I'll be back on Monday!

1 comment:

  1. A near mortal lock? Only a lover of the ponies would say a horse is a "sure thing." Understandably, you did not say the gambler's curse. However, you did say he was a "near mortal lock." As someone who knows a thing or two about how your gambling mind works (For instance, in a heads-up showdown in Texas Hold 'Em, if someone were to say "Good luck, Dan" you might get upset and blame that person for jinxing your hand. Hmmmm, sound familiar?). I think by you jinxing Big Brown by saying he was a "near mortal lock" was poetic justice!

    I must admit that after reading your latest blog, you don't really like the Red Sox. Just a hunch. As a lover of the underdog in a sports world where only the team with the deepest pockets seem to win the titles, I loved the Red Sox a few years back. That is until they won the Series for the first time since ballplayers rode trains to visiting ballparks. Since then the Boston Red Sox have become the ugly sister to the New York Yankees (That's not so say the Yanks are good looking. Incest is never pretty as the Yankess are the hillbilly Daddy in the family). Needless to say, I love the Devil Rays as a team of under-achievers taking it to the powerhouses of the AL East. Coco Crisp is someone I would liken to the school yard bully who starts a fight but when push comes to shove, he will get his ass kicked by every kid on the playground. It only takes instigation before the school revolts against the bully. I hand it to the Rays for following through on fighting the bully! Touche!

    I would agree with you that a dynasty should be defined by the "3 in 5 years" standard. Of course 4 in 11 is fanstastic. Maybe there is more parity in the NHL (I hate that word by the way). I give the Red Wings credit for winning as their teams continues to age while other teams are building great success on youth (i.e. Pittsburgh). Nonetheless, 4 in 11 just doesn't cut it for a dynasty.

    Looking forward to your next post.