After the Patriots cut Lawyer Milloy, Tom Jackson said, “They hate their coach right now?”
Turned out they got over it. They won the Super Bowl, and Belichick has been beloved by his players ever since. And he’s hated Jackson for talking about stuff he doesn’t know about.
So all that garbage you hear from Tedy Bruschi, Trent Dilfer, Rodney Harrison, et al about Belichick insulting his defense or some crap like that, just ignore it. Two of those players used to play for the Patriots, so they sound credible, but the emphasis is on the past tense.
Time to move on. They sure have.
Tonight, Derek Jeter received the Hank Aaron award for the “top offensive player” in the American League. Derek Jeter is a great baseball player. He batted .334 this season, with 18 home runs and 66 RBIs. If you’re into OBP and slugging percentage, he rocked .406 (not bad!) and .465 (pretty good!). Also, his team won 103 games. That’s excellent!
He was not, however, the best offensive player in the American League.
Joe Mauer, the catcher for the Minnesota Twins, led the American League in batting average. He hit .365. (That’s excellent!) If you like OBP, he got on base at a .444 clip (Wow!), also to lead the AL. And slugging? His .587 clip beat all comers (Golly!). Not only that, he put together impressive numbers for homers (28) and RBI (96). Notice what all these numbers have in common? No, not that they’re awesome (But they are!). They’re all better than Jeter’s.
Every. Single. One of them.
Let that sink in for a second. This award isn’t like the MVP, the “valuable” condition of which lends itself to interpretation. But maybe Dude X made the clubhouse better! No; this award is for offense. Nor is it like the Hall of Fame, which encourages voters to include character-related factors in the vote. Albert Belle was a poophead, and I’m not going to vote for him! None of that here. You could kick your dog in public and you’d still be eligible for this trophy. It’s all about how offensive you are.
(Chase Utley just hit a home run; huzzah!)
Before I got on a tear here, one more time: Jeter is a great baseball player. But he’s not the offensive player Joe Mauer is. Nor is he the defensive player, but that’s not important at the moment… unless it is. Mauer will win the MVP award; the Twins sneaking into the playoffs basically clinched that. Maybe the voters wanted to recognize Jeter somehow, and, realizing that his long-suffering efforts to win an MVP (When will he be recognized for his contributions? It’s like no one ever talks about him) were going to fall short yet again, decided to give him a lesser trophy. Well I’ve got bad news: giving out hardware to those who don’t deserve it devalues the hardware itself, the name associated with it, and the game they’re playing. There are times when legitimate disagreements can be had about a hitter’s value; this is not one of them. By giving Jeter an award he did not earn, the voters have devalued the award. Derek Jeter’s greatness is secure without changing the rules for him. Let’s let the story be the story, and not try to write a new one to serve our own ends.*
* And as we, the fans, voted on this, I’m talking to you.
UPDATES: About 20 minutes after I posted this, I was sent the Balloon Boy Game. I know what I’m doing all morning. And then there’s this, which is just awesome—the Balloon Boy adventure as the Fresh Prince song, in Facebook comments. h/t TA.
The Balloon Boy story didn’t make sense from the beginning.
“URGENT,” a tweet from the Europe-based Breaking News Online blared over my Tweetdeck, “Six-year-old stuck in a hot air balloon near Denver.”
I wasn’t sure how that was urgent, to me, sitting at my computer in New York. Still, I pointed my browser over to CNN.com, where I saw a photo of the UFO-like spycraft floating east across Colorado. The whole thing sounded horrifying: a six-year-old kid had gotten into the inflated apparatus, unhitched it from the Earth, and had flown away? It sounded like a tragedy, or at least TV movie, in the making.
Doubt started to creep in when I heard the TV newsers describe the dirigible. I alternatingly heard that the compartment in which 6-year-old Falcon was stuck was made of “thin plywood” and then “cardboard,” leading the TV announcers to speculate that “he may have fallen out.” I came to a different conclusion: if the cab was that flimsy, how would the thing take off in the first place? Wouldn’t he just fall out the bottom?
But no. His brother had seen him elevate, flying far, far away. The ship kept going, and police needed to find a way to stop it.
I took an informal poll on Twitter, searching for solutions to a problem that sounds like something you’d hear at a job interview for a consulting agency. A six-year-old is stuck inside of a helium balloon. It will explode if ignited, and if it lands too hard, he will die. How do you save him? Responses included a net, a harpoon, and a Patriot Missile (that one was helpful). I thought that if a helicopter could get above the balloon, and match its speed of roughly 30 miles per hour, they could drop light weights on it and gradually bring it toward the ground.
Not a perfect solution, I know. But it was something.
As the drama unfolded, we learned more about the family. They were featured on ABC’s Wife Swap twice, the premise of which is that you’re a crazy family that will do anything for money. Why is it okay that America’s most family-focused network features a show that is directly inspired by ’70s-style key parties, and no one seems bothered by this? Of course, maybe a wife swap would have helped in this case, because maybe a replacement spouse would have pointed out the folly of keeping an INFLATED HELIUM BALLOON LOOSELY TIED UP IN THE YARD WITH A CABIN BIG ENOUGH FOR A SIX-YEAR-OLD.
But I digress.
Soon enough, the balloon crashed in a dirt field. Cops and paramedics were on the scene in no time, and found no kid. He wasn’t there, and they soon devised an alternate theory: Falcon hadn’t flown at all, and would reveal himself soon enough. This is, of course, exactly what happened. Within a couple hours, he was found in the attic of his house, napping through the drama. He was the one who had the good sense not to watch. We could learn something.
On Larry King Live last night, Falcon inadvertently put his dad in an odd position when he said that he had been instructed to do something “for the show.” Dad got defensive and tried to explain it away. Cops are now looking into the whole episode as a hoax, but what does it matter? The damage has been done. That’s two hours of my life I’m not getting back and frankly, I’m glad the kid’s okay, physically speaking. Psychologically, who knows. Maybe this was just a huge accident, and his parents are just as down-to-Earth as the rest of us and have an explanation for everything. I’d just be surprised if it wasn’t flimsier than cardboard.