Friday, November 18, 2005

Drama! Intrigue! LOOGY!

Roy Keane has left Manchester United. To properly gauge the impact, read the following analogy.

Imagine if Derek Jeter injured himself at the beginning of the season. Then imagine the Yankees going on a month-long stretch of bad play, allowing the Red Sox to go far in front of them in the standings. The legendary manager, Joe Torre, is under intense scrutiny. Has the game passed him by? Then Jeter goes on the YES network for his regularly scheduled appearance on a call-in show. But instead of his usual vague non-answers, Jeter goes on a tirade, criticizing Alex Rodriguez and his record contract, accusing him and other new players for not playing like "true Yankees", suggesting that the team will never return to its glory years of the late 90s with these players on the team. The outburst shocks Joe Torre, who has trusted Jeter as his consigliere for a decade. George Steinbrenner burns the tapes, but word gets out in all the tabloids anyway, and the Yankees have a scandal on their hands. Somehow, amidst all this distraction, the Yankees manage to sweep the Red Sox the following weekend, keeping hope alive in their season. Hideki Matsui, whom Jeter criticized for not being passionate enough, lets out a primal scream as he rounds the bases after his game-winning homer in the series finale. Jeter, watching from a luxury box, puts on a happy face and states after the game that he making progress in his recovery. The players on the field credit Jeter with inspiring them to play harder, and say they will welcome him back with open arms as their captain. Behind the scenes however, there is a resentment and distrust that not even Torre can fix. A few weeks after the famous victory, Jeter and Torre engage in a fierce clubhouse argument over Jeter's return. Jeter wants to play; Torre says he isn't ready. In the meantime, Orioles shortstop Miguel Tejada has announced his intentions to leave the club and strongly hints at his interest in joining the Yankees. The next day, Jeter announces that he has quit the team, and is looking to sign elsewhere, preferably a National League club so he won't have to play against his old team. Hell freezes over.

Whew, got all that? Okay, now substitute Manchester United for the Yankees, Roy Keane for Derek Jeter, Alex Ferguson for Joe Torre, Chelsea for the Red Sox, MUTV for YES Network, Rio Ferdinand for Alex Rodriguez, Alan Fletcher for Hideki Matsui, Michael Ballack for Miguel Tejada, and the Scottish Premier League for the National League. Oh, and soccer for baseball. That should give you a pretty accurate idea of what this means to Manchester United and to England.

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In real baseball news, the Cubs signed 33-year old lefty Scott Eyre to a 3 year, $11m deal. I'm not sure how to feel about this deal. Eyre has pitched well for the past couple seasons, but he's also been benefiting from Pac Bell Park. Plus, he's old, and a LOOGY (Lefthanded One Out GuY). The contract isn't ridiculous, but 2 years and $9m with an option for the 3rd would have been wiser. It's being reported that almost every team in baseball was inquiring about Eyre, so I can understand why the Cubs would offer this kind of contract. If anything, this guarantees that Glendon Rusch will be a full-time starter next season, which maximizes the value of the deal he signed earlier this fall. The Cubs now have two dependable lefties in their bullpen in Eyre and Will Ohman, a valuable commodity in a division with Edmonds, Berkman, and Dunn. My verdict? A good deal from a baseball standpoint, questionable from a financial standpoint. This will seem like a better deal if they continue to spend money and sign Furcal and/or Giles.

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