Billick, Bonds, A’Rod & Gordon ….. It’s All Here

November 16, 2007 |

– For those who simply want to blame Brian Billick for the Ravens dismal performance this season ….. look a little deeper. It all boils down to giveaways/takeaways. In 2006, the Ravens were +17 in this category, and everything seemed to go right.

Fast forward to 2007, the Ravens currently sit at –7 in giveaways/takeaways. And, just look at the company surrounding them:

-9 – New Orleans
-8 – Houston, Arizona
-7 – Miami, San Francisco, Chicago, Baltimore
-5 – New York Jets, Denver

What do ALL of these teams have in common? Each team currently has a losing record. And, four of these teams made the playoffs last year. Conversely, the teams with the best average regarding giveaways/takeaways are WINNERS (almost):

+11 – New England, San Diego
+9 – Atlanta
+8 – Indianapolis
+7 – Detroit
+6 – Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Seattle

All of the above listed teams currently have winning records, with the exception of Atlanta. Thus, the significance of giveaways/takeaways cannot be ignored. That said, I can’t fathom how Brian Billick is responsible for this component of the game. Can you?

It also dawned on me that the Ravens have been flagged, alot, this year. In my opinion, this happens to be a facet of the game a coach can influence. However, as I dug deeper, I found that the team with the fewer penalties only wins the game 54% of the time. Thus, it’s an irrelevant argument.

For me, the bottom line is the Ravens have turned the ball over too much. I don’t see how a head coach can be blamed for that. However, I will say (and have said) they shouldn’t have been given a week’s vacation after the Buffalo debacle. I simply think a team earns such interludes ….. and the Ravens haven’t. This really is my only tangible criticism of Coach Billick.

He’s still one of the best coaches in the game and regardless of this season’s outcome, he deserves to return ….. and will. After all, he’s proven to be the GUY to dig a team out of a hole, rather quickly. In essence, don’t hang 2007 on the coach.

– As for Barry Bonds, that “Karma Train” I keep telling you about has finally pulled up to his front door. I’m constantly amazed by the ignorant souls who think criminal prosecutions are witch-hunts and cases of misunderstanding. If there’s smoke …..

Barry Bonds has defied any and every semblance of authority for years. He employs “The World According To Barry” and has simply wagged a middle finger at anyone standing in his path. He’s about to learn an important life lesson …. YOU can lie to your wife, your girlfriend and your boss ….. but don’t lie to Uncle Sam – under oath.

Yesterday, I endured a couple minutes of ESPN’s resident buffoon, Stephen A. Smith, as he attributed Bonds’ latest legal woes to racism and scape-goating. Are you serious? This guy obviously needs ratings and will do anything to spur interest.

Barry Bonds has made his bed. And, a telling tale of this “tangled web” will be Bud Selig’s reaction and ultimate disposition regarding Bonds. In essence, we’ll find out if Uncle Bud has Roger Goodell’s guts and courage. What do you think?

– Keeping it on baseball, the destiny of Alex Rodriguez appears much clearer, this morning. Evidently, A’Rod and the Ringling (umm, I mean Steinbrenner) Brothers have found some common ground of love and financial security. Say it ain’t so …..

Although, some may construe this signing ($27.5 million per season, on average) as bad for the future of the game, it could result in a positive light for the Orioles, in the short term. With A’Rod off the market and Mike Lowell likely to stay in Boston, Miguel Tejada’s stock will most certainly increase with teams needing a 3rd baseman.

The Angels, Dodgers and Phillies could be serious contenders for Tejada’s services. As for A’Rod, he’s probably tasting a morsel of “humble pie” for the first time in his career. He’s viewed as a spoiled darling, who crawled back to the Yankees, with his wife at his side ….. instead of Scott Boras.

This certainly gives the “Ringling Brothers” a sense of moral victory, which can also be good for other teams. These “knotheads” (Hank and Hal Steinbrenner) appear to be on the same track that led to their dad’s demise in the late 80’s. For the record, and with exception to Mr. Aaron, NEVER trust a guy named Hank.

– Lastly, the NASCAR season wraps up this weekend. Homestead, Florida, will serve as the venue for crowning the sport’s new champion. And, in all likelihood, it will be NASCAR’s reigning champion repeating the accomplishment.

However, I must admit I’m left with an unfulfilled feeling after this latest version of “The Chase.” Under the latest rules, NASCAR determines seeding for their postseason (i.e. – The Chase) with an emphasis on wins, over consistency. Thus, regular season rankings and standings have virtually no bearing on playoff seeding.

I cannot reference a single situation where the “regular season champion” was not the #1 seed in the playoffs. The mere fact that Jeff Gordon dominated the regular season standings and led by hundreds of points; only to start “The Chase” in 2nd place has directly impacted the outcome of this season’s championship run.

Upon the regular season finale, in Richmond, Jeff Gordon enjoyed a “choke-hold” atop the NASCAR standings. He led his closest competition, Tony Stewart, by 312 points. He had a 410 point lead over Jimmie Johnson.

Then NASCAR realigned the field, with an emphasis on wins (during the regular season) and Jimmie Johnson seized the lead over Gordon, by 20 points. As they entered “The Chase,” Johnson sizzled and Gordon stayed consistent. It appears Johnson will win the championship by 100 points. After getting 400 FREE points, he should feel pretty fortunate.

NASCAR must do something about this ludicrous system. Short of involving Vince McMahon, I don’t see how it could get more bizarre or unfair. The WORLD is watching ….. and they’re probably as confused as me.

Have a great weekend ……