Twining’s Take on the week in sports: MLB trades, Philadelphia Eagles, X-Games
Some of my fondest memories growing up took place at summer camp – a week in the wilderness camping, swimming and taking part in numerous activities all without the pleasure of television, cell phones or newspapers. Okay, that last part might not have been so pleasurable. In fact, the worst part of summer camp was that I had to catch back up on everything I missed in the sporting world.
Even with the advent of the smart phone, where internet is as accessible as cell coverage, staying up-to-date on every major headline in professional sports is a difficult task. This past weekend I was on vacation in Seattle. Between gatherings on Friday night, a wedding Saturday and then traveling back south Sunday it was nearly impossible for me to follow all that took place this past weekend.
It’s taken me a few days to research and review all the transactions that happened between the MLB Trade Deadline and the ongoing NFL Free Agent Frenzy, all while attempting to follow the beginning, middle and end of X-Games weekend. If you are like me and were out-of-the-loop this weekend, Twining’s Take on the week in sports is back to fill you in on what you need to know.
MLB Trade Deadline
Unlike years past, Major League Baseball was relatively quiet leading up to the July 31 deadline. Only a few trades took place the weeks prior – closer Francisco Rodriguez from the Mets to the Brewers being the biggest. As the weekend approached, outfielder Johnny Gomes was dealt from the Reds to the Nationals on Wednesday. While not necessarily a big move, this trade signified the unofficial start of Trade Weekend.
On Thursday afternoon we had our first major trade of the season – eight players, three teams, two big names. The St. Louis Cardinals traded away starting center fielder Colby Rasmus to Toronto. In return, the Cardinals bolstered their pitching staff by acquiring right-handed starter Edwin Jackson, who has a no-hitter on his resume, and relievers Octavio Dotel and Marc Rzepczynski. Earlier in the day, Jackson had been traded from the White Sox.
The beauty of the MLB Trade Deadline is two-fold. For fans of struggling franchises (think Mariners and Padres) it’s a chance to see how those teams plan to rebuild toward the future. While being a “seller” at the deadline usually means giving away top talent, it also means gathering prospects for an extended run at a World Series title down the road.
The Padres, expected to deal closer Heath Bell, opted to trade away 33-year-old setup man Mike Adams instead. It was a hotly-debated issue; should the Padres trade Bell, a free agent after the season, Adams, who has one year left on his contract, or both. In keeping Bell and trading Adams, I believe the Padres made the right move.
Like I said, Adams is still under contract next season. Therefore, when trading him to a contender, the Padres can increase their asking price because the receiving team, in this case the Texas Rangers, are getting one of the best setup men in the league and a potential closer for a year and a half. By holding on to Bell, a projected class-A free agent, the Padres stand to receive two first-round compensatory draft picks if Bell signs elsewhere. Ultimately, by dealing Adams and holding on to Bell the Padres could end up with four top prospects by next June.
If your team is currently a contender (think Indians and Giants) the trade deadline represents an opportunity to improve the lineup for a run at a World Series, while sacrificing some future talent. Cleveland, considered the “winner” of this year’s trade deadline, traded away four prospects for Colorado Rockies right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez. The Giants, in a move to solidify their offense, acquired switch-hitting outfielder Carlos Beltran from the Mets.
The acquisition of Jimenez is ironic because in 2008 and 2009 the Indians traded away C.C. Sabathia and Cliff Lee for prospects from the Yankees and Phillies, respectively – both were reigning American League Cy Young Award winners at the time. With Jimenez, the Indians get a 27-year-old ace, but are taking a big gamble by leveraging the future in an attempt to win the AL Central for the first time since 2007.
Whether your team is a buyer or a seller, the trade deadline can provide excitement regardless of your team’s record. As a fan of the Mariners, obvious sellers on the heels of a franchise-record 17-game losing streak, I watched as they traded away starting pitchers Doug Fister and Erik Bedard to the Tigers and Red Sox, respectively. Although these trades make official the fact the Mariners are no longer attempting to compete this year, I’m still excited about the ongoing rebuilding efforts by the front office to become a playoff-contender in the near future.
Free Agent Frenzy
Last summer, after Lebron James very-publicly announced his decision to play for the Miami Heat, everybody quickly anointed the Heat as the favorites to win the NBA Finals. They had Dwayne Wade, Lebron James and Chris Bosh. Nothing was going to stand in their way.
Oh shoot, I forgot basketball is a team sport, and what ultimately stood in Miami’s way of an NBA Championship was a better team: the Dallas Mavericks.
After significant signings during the weekend, the Philadelphia Eagles are becoming the Miami Heat of the NFL. Everybody is declaring them division champs and Super Bowl favorites just because they signed top free agent cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, traded backup quarterback Kevin Kolb to the Arizona Cardinals for cornerback Dominique Rogers-Cromartie and signed free agent QB Vince Young to back up Michael Vick.
Sure, the Eagles now have one of the best secondaries in the league anchored by two top-five corners on either side. If Vick gets hurt – excuse me, when Vick gets hurt – the Eagles can seamlessly insert Young behind center without altering the game plan. It seems the stars are aligning in Philly in an attempt to produce a championship, but need I remind you that a great lineup doesn’t guarantee success.
Just ask the 16-0 2007 New England Patriots; or the 14-2 2006 San Diego Chargers; or the 12-4 2005 Seattle Seahawks. I think the New York Yankees might have a thing or two to say regarding high payroll, talent-laden teams, and minimal championships in the past decade.
Before we anoint the Eagles as Super Bowl favorites, let us not forget the New York Jets resigned Santonio Holmes, added Plaxico Burress and still have Darrell Revis and one of the top defenses in the league.
The San Diego Chargers, who had the best offense and defense in the league last year but failed to make the playoffs, added veteran leadership to the defense with the signings of linebacker Takeo Spikes and safety Bob Sanders. Oh, and they also resigned Vincent Jackson and have a healthy Antonio Gates.
What makes the NFL so great is that with 16 games in the regular season, anything can happen on Sundays. Just because a team is loaded with talent, it in no way guarantees it a Super Bowl appearance, let alone a playoff berth.
X-Games or X-Lames?
On Friday night, all-around X-Gamer Travis Pastrana launched off the ramp during Moto-X best trick for his second try at a corkscrew-720. Attempting two horizontal rotations on his dirt-bike, Pastrana landed, yes, but did not complete the trick. When he finally did hit the ground, Pastrana’s bike landed on top of his right leg, fracturing his ankle and foot in the process.
It was a bold move going for such a difficult trick on the first night of X-Games weekend. What made the injury especially devastating was Pastrana was competing in three more events throughout the weekend and was considered a favorite in each. Instead he was forced to fully withdraw from the X-Games and, as a result of his leg injury, also cancel his NASCAR debut this upcoming weekend.
Pastrana is one of the biggest names in extreme sports. Two years ago on New Year’s Eve, Pastrana jumped a rally car a record 269 feet over Long Beach Pier. When I learned Pastrana was done for the weekend, I just didn’t care about the X-Games anymore. I used to watch the X-Games to see cool events such as wakeboarding, street luge or rollerblading. But, recently I’ve tuned in to see how far Pastrana and others are willing to sacrifice their bodies just to land a cool trick.
Moto-X champion Jackson Strong, who won with a front flip, had this to say regarding the push for higher and harder tricks: “One day, somebody is probably going to be doing a double front flip on a dirt bike. I hope I’m not around when that happens.”
That begs the question, how far will they go? In 2007, during skateboard big air, Jake Brown fell nearly 50 feet onto the middle of a half-pipe. I wouldn’t be surprised if, eventually, somebody dies during the X-Games attempting too big of a trick.
And there is the problem. It has come to the point where death in the X-Games, while devastating to the sport, would not surprise me. That can’t be a good thing.
Photos courtesy SD Dirk, Ed Yourdon and James Henry via Flickr.