Hot! Triple Play: A-Gone, Rex vs. Belichick, NHL Lockout

Time to Pack Your Bags A-Rod

Alex Rodriguez is coming off one of the worst postseasons in MLB history, and that’s not even the bad news. The Yankees still owe their controversial star $114 million over five years. While the team would probably jump at the chance to unload him in a trade, his prohibitive contract which includes a full no trade clause makes him one of the hardest players in the MLB to trade. Rodriguez’s Yankee career, save his 2009 postseason heroics, has been marred by admitted use of performance enhancing drugs, declining production, and postseason struggles. This season’s conclusion proved no different, as Rodriguez posted only one extra base hit since mid-September.

Rodriguez may have worn out his welcome in the Bronx and General Manager Brian Cashman may yet find a way to move A-Rod. If the Yankees absorb a large portion of his contract, A-Rods’ hometown club, the Miami Marlins, emerge as a possible trade parter. The Marlins have their own expensive contracts such as SP Mark Buehrle to shed, and there is little doubt Miami’s Latin fan base would embrace Rodriguez’s arrival.

The contract mess can be attributed to the wishes of George Steinbrenner, and Cashman should feel no regret in dealing Rodriguez and giving the team a chance to move forward. The days of the Yankees offering ten-year contracts to free agents are effectively over. The new belief is that while the Yankees will still have the top payroll, they will reduce it to the $189 million range. At this point any money saved by trading A-Rod is worth risking the humiliation of his possible success anywhere else.

His departure will remove negative publicity from the locker room and provide another opportunity for speedy players like Eduardo Nunez to have an expanded role, perhaps in a 3B platoon with left-handed hitting inexpensive veteran, Eric Chavez). Allowing Rodriguez and OF Nick Swisher to leave and replacing their production with Nunez, young speedster Brett Gardner, and Ichiro Suzuki will help change the lineup’s identity from very homerun dependent to a more balanced mix of contact and speed. Few teams would improve losing A-Rod, but the Yankees can, and should.

Rex’s Confidence Jetting?

Rex Ryan’s declaration that the Patriots will win their AFC East matchup with the Jets if the game comes down to coaching was a silly mistake. The Patriots strength is their “illegal” hurry up offense, but what can beat it is an appropriate game plan from the opposing coach. Although it will be difficult, Ryan’s game plan must out-duel Belichick’s for the Jets to have a chance, and by admitting he can’t outcoach Belichick, he is admitting defeat. While there is no denying Bill Belichick has the superior track record, there is also no denying that for one game, Ryan is capable of out-coaching him. He’s done it before, most notably in the 2010-11 AFC Divisional playoffs.

Although Belichick has a stronger roster to work with, Ryan’s failure to produce a game plan to defeat Belichick’s will result in a Jets loss. However, there are three things that Rex Ryan needs to bring to the table for the Jets to stand a chance. Firstly, Rex needs to validate his offseason claim that he is the best defensive coach in the NFL. The Patriots strength is their offense, so if Ryan is indeed the best defensive mind in the league, he should be more prepared than any coach to combat it. Secondly, while the Patriots roster is superior, the one edge the Jets do hold is their ability to execute trick plays.The Jets offense is weak, but utilizing wildcards such as Antonio Cromarties speed on reverses or the correct usage of Tim Tebow on Wildcat formations and fake punts can throw the Patriots off guard. On the other hand, even in the no-huddle, the Patriots play calling remains predictable. Short passes will be thrown to Wes Welker, over the middle passes will be thrown to the Patriots tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, and a rotation of runningbacks including Steven Ridley and Danny Woodhead will keep the running game fresh.  Thirdly, Ryan is as capable of any coach of motivating his team, and if the Jets players feel appropriately motivated, it will only help their efforts to overachieve and beat the team that stands in the way of first place in the AFC East. Out coaching Belichick is never easy, but Ryan needs to believe he can do it, or the Jets will be 3-4 this Monday.

Enough is Enough NHL

NHL fans are holding their collective breath: the lockout appears to be inching toward some type of resolution. Earlier this week, the league sent the players’ union their most significant proposal, highlighted by a 50-50 split of revenue between the owners and players. The players’ main concern is that the owners proposal calls for the altering of current contracts. The owners proposed that while players salaries reduce by 7%, the players lost revenue can be recouped in future deferred payments proportionate to league growth. The players feel they have signed legally binding guaranteed economic contracts yet the owners proposal alters what should be unalterable. Players are asked to make a concession without compensation.

Historically, the NHL has struggled to hold on to its fan base following lockouts, which only further exemplifies the negative impact another labor stoppage would create. Ultimately this lockout is proving to be another dispute between millionaires and billionaires, and it’s unfortunate that satisfying the fans isn’t enough of a motivating factor. America’s fourth most popular sport has to recognize how hard it will be to retain the fans they’ve only just won back after 2004’s devastating lockout should this season be cancelled. The owners need to step up their efforts to reward their players, as it is the players who put hockey fans in the seats. A seven percent decrease in salary without a corresponding incentive will not result in compromise. One way or another, hockey fans will soon learn the fate of the 2012-13 NHL season.


Nicholas Kostopoulos

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