Cap it, but carefully

Talking about a salary cap in Major League Baseball is forbidden. Talk of a salary cap was one of the reasons there was a players’ strike from 1994-95.

That’s why it’s surprising in the last two weeks that two different MLB owners – Mark Attanasio of the Milwaukee Brewers and Drayton McLane of the Houston Astros – have said they think baseball needs a salary cap in response to the spending of the New York Yankees this offseason.

My stance on this has changed. When I was a kid watching the Twins struggle in the 1990s, I always thought a salary cap would solve everything. But in the early part of this decade, the Twins started to turn it around, and you saw how they did it and applauded them for it.

I don’t think a tough salary cap to reign in the spending of the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs, etc., is a good idea. In fact, I think a hard salary cap could HURT the Twins, who benefit greatly from the compensatory picks they receive from teams signing their free agents.

The truth is during my lifetime teams have won championships largely with players in their primes. The Yankees teams that won titles were the teams that they developed, not purchased. Same with the Red Sox. Yeah, the Red Sox supplement their homegrown talent – Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis, Jon Lester – with free agents like Curt Schilling (and smart baseball moves like signing David Ortiz after the Twins let him go).

My point is I don’t think signing players on the back ends of their careers wins you titles. That’s not to say Mark Teixeira isn’t going to have good seasons for the Yankees. But he likely won’t be real productive even into the third year of that contract.

The steroid era is over. The era of players getting better in their late 30s and 40s is over.

I think a high cap would be fine, but only because I think a salary floor is also needed. Owners like Jeffrey Loria of the Florida Marlins – who has been at the helm as one franchise in the Montreal Expos fell already – are as much a problem as the Steinbrenners of the Yankees are.

Many of these small-market owners collect the revenue sharing and don’t invest a dime of it. I don’t think owners should spend for spending’s sake, but they should be made to invest some of the revenue sharing money.

It’s absurd that a team like the Florida Marlins – who I’m a bit of a fan of because I think Marlins shortstop Hanley Ramirez is one of baseball’s rising stars – is collecting over $50 million in revenue sharing and has a payroll of about $25 million. Loria – and others like him – pocket the extra money and then ask for a taxpayer-subsidized new stadium. Where’s the justice in that?

Here’s a much better column on the topic if you’re interested.

Belichick coaching tree dealt a blow

For all the success New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has had, those who have learned from him have struggled.

Two former Belichick assistants have been fired in the last week. Eric Mangini was let go by the New York Jets, while the Cleveland Browns canned Romeo Crennel.

Toss in the struggles that Charlie Weis has had at Notre Dame and that coaching tree looks more like a dying dandelion.

Kind of reminds me of the "Seinfeld curse," which supposedly prevented any of the supporting actors and actresses of the show "Seinfeld" from finding success elsewhere.

Babich’s seat heats up

AP Sports Writer Andrew Seligman wrote a follow-up to the Chicago Bears season. He mentioned that Bears general manager praised former Detroit Lions head coach Rod Marinelli while appearing to put defensive coordinator Bob Babich – a former North Dakota State head coach – on notice.

Here’s what the story had:

The Bears hoped the defense would show some of the old dominant form following an injury-ravaged 7-9 season — Babich’s first after replacing Ron Rivera. Instead, Chicago ranked 21st overall and 30th against the pass while regis-tering only 28 sacks even with more blitzing than in the past.

It didn’t help that Tommie Harris and Brian Urlacher were limited by injuries. Angelo said he thinks both can play at a Pro Bowl level again, but Babich might be feeling a little uneasy after seeing this response to a ques-tion about him.

“When you’re not playing consistent football, your job is not good enough,” Angelo said. “You have to be consis-tent in this league. If you’re going to win you have to be consistent. We weren’t consis-tent. Those are things we’ll get into. I don’t want to go further than that because we haven’t talked about any-thing. … I can’t say all the things I feel to you today. We’ll be very honest. We see what you see. We’ll be very objective. And things that need to be changed will be changed.”

As for Marinelli, Angelo had nothing but praise.

Although he got fired after the Lions went 0-16, Marinelli and Chicago coach Lovie Smith are friends who worked together in Tampa Bay. The Bears tried to hire him as defensive coordinator in 2004, but the Buccaneers blocked them because he was under contract as their defensive line coach. Now, Marinelli is available at least to work with a Bears line that struggled.

“I think the world of Rod Marinelli,” Angelo said. “I would love to have Rod Marinelli on our staff, and I think Lovie would say the same thing.”
 

Copyright © 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. The information contained in the AP News report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press.

Funny video

The Minnesota Twins recently signed Gary Gaetti’s son Joe to a minor league contract.

Here’s a video of Joe impersonating his dad, singing "I ain’t as good as I once was" by Toby Keith except his version is "I ain’t as good as my dad was."

Another creative bullpen option

Former Texas Rangers closer Akinori Otsuka is going to work out in front of all 30 Major League Baseball teams next month in Arizona.

Otsuka underwent elbow surgery early in 2008 after experiencing tightness in his elbow in 2007. He missed all of last season while recovering.

Otsuka was pretty effective in his four major league seasons after coming over from Japan. If the Twins want to get creative with their bullpen opening, this would be a great option to consider.

Big day of NFL action tomorrow

The Minnesota Vikings will try to secure their first division title since 2000 with a victory against the New York Giants at noon tomorrow. But the Vikings’ game is just one of many intriguing matchups tomorrow. Here’s what’s else on the slate:

  • Detroit at Green Bay, noon: The Detroit Lions try to avoid becoming the first team in NFL history to go 0-16 for a season.
  • Chicago at Houston, noon: The Bears can clinch the NFC North title with a win and a Minnesota loss.
  • Carolina at New Orleans, noon: The Panthers can clinch a first-round bye in the NFC playoffs, while Saints QB Drew Brees can break Dan Marino’s record for passing yards in a single season with a big game.
  • Miami at New York Jets, 3:15 p.m.: The Dolphins and Jets meet with the AFC East title still up for grabs.
  • Dallas at Philadelphia, 3:15 p.m.: The Cowboys can clinch a playoff berth with a victory.
  • Denver at San Diego, 7:15 p.m.: It’s simple for the Broncos and Chargers: Win and you’re in the playoffs, lose and you’re not. The AFC West title is on the line.

Stocking stuffers

A couple of interesting Christmas Day sports notes:

Morris replaces Kiffin with Bucs
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers promoted secondary coach Raheem Morris to replace Monte Kiffin as their defensive coordinator. Kiffin is leaving for a job with son Lane at the University of Tennessee.

This of course means that former North Dakota State assistant coach Casey Bradley won’t be getting the gig. Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack wrote on his blog that Bradley has impressed head coach Jon Gruden and speculated that he could be in line for a promotion, but unfortunately for Bradley that won’t be the case.

Mench spells doom for LEEEEWWWWWW Ford
Major league outfielder Kevin Mench signed a one-year deal with the Hanshin Tigers of Japanese baseball.

On the surface it doesn’t seem like that big of a deal. Actually, beneath the surface, it isn’t either. But it might interest some to know that Mench will likely replace Lew Ford in Hanshin’s outfield. Ford – a former Minnesota Twins outfielder – hit just .225 with three homers in 47 games for Hanshin last season.

That’s all, folks. Happy holidays to all!

A look inside Festivus

Well, the first Festivus celebration for Goethe’s sports blog took place last night. We’re hoping to make this an annual tradition. Anywho, I thought I would take my readers inside the celebration. Here’s part of my speech from last night:

"Welcome to the first annual Festivus celebration. I just want to remind everyone that Festivus isn’t over until Heath Hotzler over at ND Preps pins Mike McFeely of McFeely State of Mind as part of the Feats of Strength.

"Now it’s time for the Airing of Grievances. I got a lot of problems with you people, and now you’re going to hear about it.

  • To ESPN and the Dallas Cowboys: I don’t care what T.O. said to Jason Witten or what Tony Romo might have said to Jessica Simpson. Stop covering this team like you were In Touch magazine and it was Brangelina.
  • To LeBron James (and ESPN again): Stop perpetuating these rumors about your departure from Cleveland. And ESPN, it’s 2008 right now! LeBron’s a free agent in 2010. Do we really have to be reminded every day that he will be a free agent in two years. Do you know how far away that is? Let’s at least wait until the summer of 2009. I’m tired of it already. Please don’t make me include this item in the Festivus 2009 celebration too.
  • To Stylez G. White and Chad Ocho Cinco: Stop changing your names to be completely ridiculous. It’s been done once by World B. Free. Find another way to show your creativity.
  • To Minnesota Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor: When are you going to completely let go of the past regime and start over? How about bringing people in from the outside who haven’t been a part of this deteriorating organization?
  • To the Minnesota Wild: When are you going to either acquire or develop a star player? I know the Jacques Lemaire defense-first system is a tough sell to free agents, but that’s all the more reason that you need to get great offense from one or two players, so everyone else can focus on D. The way Niklas Backstrom has played in net, maybe he is your star.
  • To Gopher athletics and the media: Stop pumping up the big turnaround of the University of Minnesota football team. Didn’t Tim Brewster create this mess? And where’s that Rose Bowl I was promised?!?!?!?!
  • To Manny Ramirez: End the drama and sign with the Yankees already. We all know it’s going to happen.
  • To Major League Baseball: Now that you’ve found a way to make more money with MLB Network (which starts Jan. 1), please provide quality programming like the NFL Network does. These specialty sports network don’t always work out, but NFL Network does a nice job.
  • To the Minnesota Twins: Sign someone.
  • To the Minnesota Vikings: Win something.
  • To ESPN (I hate to keep complaining about the "Worldwide leader" but there is so much): How about putting actual classic program on ESPN Classic? I’m sorry. The 2004 rodeo invitational in Calgary and the 1997 Craftsman Truck Series race in Pocono just don’t cut it for me."

Well, that was just part of the party last night. It was a Festivus for the rest of us.

Happy holidays to everyone and good luck in 2009!