Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Wednesday's Starting Five

Here are the five persons, places, minerals, vegetables and/or Knickerbockers that you should be talking, thinking about and/or critiquing today.

1. Brett Favre. No. 4 is a winner today. Not in my eyes (where he is the guy that taught me you never know what you chad til it's favre). But in his. Which is all that really mattered. You've got to know that by now if he actually matters to you. He wrangled exactly what he wanted out of the Minnesota Vikings. He got a starting quarterback job on a club with a great running back and a very good defense. And he got it without having to come to training camp, without having to learn the entire playbook during the offseason, without having to spend too many long August days with his teammates, and while sticking it to his former bosses in Wisconsin. The Riverboat Gambler surely won this hand. But at what expense? The Purple Judas may finally have alienated his devout followers in dairy country and, gasp, even his cheerleaders in the media.

2. There was one ancillary benefit of Brett Favre signing with Vikings. Tired of being lied to and forced to go the Pedro Gomez route once too often, some in the mainstream media have, at long last, turned on No. 4. Most notably, Sports Illustrated's website was finally calling them like you know that the individual reporters must see 'em. They produced a "Heroes to Villains" photo essay featuring Brett and even NFL scribe and noted Favre acolyte called the move a "mistake" by all parties involved. The ever-candid Jeff Pearlman called him a traitor to his fans in Green Bay. How far we've come from the weekly boot-licking that be-wranglered one received during every nationally televised NFL (whether he was playing or not) for the past half decade. If he doesn't play well then this has the potential to get ugly. I can't wait.

3. Last night was the sort of thing that Alanis Morrisette might have included in her song "Ironic" had she written it late last night instead of during the mid-nineties. And if she was a Phillies fan (although "she went down on him at the Vet" doesn't have the same ring to it). Like everything else in that song, what happened last night at Citizens Bank Park wasn't "ironic" as the word is defined in the dictionary but it was close enough. Making his home debut, Petey took the mound in the turn that once belonged to Jamie Moyer. And he promptly allowed a leadoff longball to Stephen Drew. But after that he looked like vintage (OK, vintage 2005 maybe) Pedro, setting down the next nine D-backs to face him, including a masterful strike out of Mark Reynolds to close the first. But then the rains came. Along with the lightning and the thunder. And the elderly. 46-year-old Moyer came on in relief after the rain delay and twirled six scoreless frames to close the game and secure his team-leading 11th win. Not only did he snag the win on Pedro's debut at CBP but he also kept himself atop the club leaderboards a bit longer. Of course, ESPN wasn't breaking down the eight ground-ball outs that Moyer coaxed from Arizona. Nope. But they were breaking down the aforementioned strikeout of Reynolds.

4. Joe Mauer. Prior to this season the Twins' All-Star catcher had but one solitary double-digit home run season to go along with his three batting titles. Although his consistency was impressive enough, it seemed the tools of ignorance capped his power. That was the knock on him. And made him vulnerable to sluggers whenever it was time to cast MVP ballots. Then he hit 11 dingers in May 2009 and will more than double his career high before the season is through. So aside from leading the league in hitting (which he is), Mauer is also leading the DH-laden AL in slugging percentage. There are silly, misguided men who think that Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira should be a frontrunner for the MVP. They are wrong. It's so plain that even folks who work for FOX can tell. Some people will talk about his club's middling record and I'll then show them this play. Case closed. I think.
Sports Videos, News, Blogs

5. Arsenal FC. Hot off the heels of their season-opening undressing of Everton at Goodison Park, the Gunners were up in Scotland playing the first leg of a Champions League qualifier against Celtic. At the time the ball dropped, just Barcelona and Dynamo Moscow had emerged victorious from Parkhead in the preceding 36 Champions League matches at the grounds. Until the Gunners topped the Scots, 2-0. With a relentless performance, Arsenal made their own luck, getting two fluky goals to all-but ensure their progression to the group stages of the competition. It's a bright start for the club that many thought/think was/is likely to falter this season after letting too many players go and refusing to be lured into the Real Madrid-led free agent frenzy.