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Wednesday, July 23, 2014 @ 2:05pm

For the Arizona Diamondbacks, does stability sell?

By: Doug Franz
From the time that Tony La Russa was hired as chief baseball officer of the of the Arizona Diamondbacks, the "if" question seemed to become a "when." Why hire La Russa if you're satisfied with the job being done by Kevin Towers and Kirk Gibson? His hiring alone makes it obvious the plan was to fire Towers and Gibson. Let me stress WAS.

It still may happen but it's impossible to not read into the last two days of comments from the Diamondbacks' front office. At a press conference to allow local media to speak to La Russa about his upcoming Hall of Fame induction, he made the joke that he wants to fire Gibby because of the 1988 World Series homer, alone. Bosses don't joke about firing people with questionable job security.

Kevin Towers told us at the time of La Russa's hiring, he wouldn't stay on if he was a de facto GM. Last week, La Russa said that Towers had complete autonomy in making the Brandon McCarthy trade. Wednesday, Towers said he feels like he has complete power to carry out his plan for the upcoming trade deadline. Bosses don't let soon-to-be-fired GMs completely run the ship.

A lot of D-backs fans were excited for the addition of Tony La Russa because it suggested upcoming upheaval. What if it doesn't? What if a Hall-of-Fame manager that is respected by everyone in baseball decides the best course of action is stability? Fans would never have accepted that two months ago. Would they now? Would you?

La Russa's joke about his manager and hands-off approach to his GM means only one thing. The decision still has not been made. The future is still being evaluated. The results of future games and trades are still part of the process.

Managers are fired because teams quit on them. The D-backs are 35-35 since the end of April. No, you can't ignore April. You can assume, though, the players are still playing for Gibby or, at least, so professional that April results don't affect individual preparation. Minus April, that's three straight seasons of .500 baseball. It certainly isn't good, but it's not a disaster, either.

General managers are fired for any number of reasons. To be .500 with the massive injuries this year is a testament to the backups that the GM has acquired. None of Kevin Towers' big moves have worked. However, none of Towers' moves have been proven to be embarrassing to the family name. Only recently have Justin Upton and Trevor Bauer started to tip the scales against him.

It's easy to compile a list of 500 pieces of evidence to prove Towers and/or Gibson should be fired. Believe it or not, it's easy to do the same to prove they shouldn't. Obviously, that's exactly why this is a .500 team, which could be reason enough to bring in a new staff.

The big lesson learned this week, Towers and Gibson are still fighting for their jobs instead of facinc a long, slow walk to the guillotine.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014 @ 11:42am

Love notes

By: Ron Wolfley
The Chicago Bulls have targeted Kevin Love and reportedly made an official offer for Love.

This surprised me.

Kevin Love is apparently not LeBron's puppet. How do we know this? Because there is no way Gar Forman, the GM of the Chicago Bulls, would make a run at K-Love if he didn't know he had a chance to a) make the deal work and b) re-sign K-Love to a long-term contract.

They wouldn't open themselves up to a public beat down, putting all the pieces together to make a deal, unless they knew Love would entertain the possibility of re-signing with them. This is the same rationale I used when determining why LeBron had a good chance of ending up in Cleveland. Why would Dan Gilbert and the entire organization open themselves up to a public flogging -- again -- if they didn't have a serious chance of getting LeBron? They wouldn't. You have to believe that Dan Gilbert knew he had a shot at LeBron; and how did he know? Messages were obviously passed along via the grapevine.

So why are the Bulls making a run at Love when we all believe he's going to Cleveland? Love must have told Mr. Forman he would re-sign with the Bulls. Communication is a beautiful thing, is it not?

I wonder how LeBron feels about that. Why would Kevin Love tell the Bulls he would re-sign with them when he could go play with LeBron?

Ultimately, I think Kevin Love is going to be a Cavalier. But there doesn't seem to be as much love for LeBron as I anticipated. Interesting.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014 @ 12:14pm

Let's talk

By: Doug Franz
How well would the American education system work if teachers had to yell at students every time they were wrong? When there's an opportunity to educate, should educators call students "haters" and threaten future educational opportunities simply because speaking exposed a lack of knowledge on a certain subject?

Tony Dungy said he would not have drafted Michael Sam because he wouldn't have wanted the distraction. I think Tony Dungy's comments open up an opportunity to educate and not a chance to attack.

Clay Hopper was the manager of the Montreal Royals in 1946. The Royals were the AAA affiliate of the Brooklyn Dodgers. He told Dodgers GM Branch Rickey that he wouldn't manage Jackie Robinson. When he found out he didn't have a choice, he asked Rickey, "You don't really think a n***** is human, do you?"

The Montreal Royals' spring training was the definition of "distraction." Some cities wouldn't let the Royals train due to Robinson's race. Jacksonville actually chained and locked the stadium before a spring training game without letting the team know. Imagine the anger from Royals players when they arrived to that scene. It's safe to assume not all of them were angry with Jacksonville.

Entire municipalities caused distractions which did not influence Rickey at all. He simply believed what he was doing was right. After a year of having Robinson forced upon him, Hopper recommended Robinson be promoted Brooklyn. The same Clay Hopper, who uttered one of the most despicable comments in sports history, said knowing Robinson made him a better man.

In a lot of situations, the comparisons made between Jackie Robinson and Michael Sam are way off-base. I'm not comparing the two men. I'm comparing Branch Rickey and Tony Dungy. Rickey knew there would be distractions for those who allowed themselves to be distracted. Luckily, he wasn't distracted.

No one is thinking Tony Dungy said anything close to what Clay Hopper said. This is not about who Clay Hopper was. It's about who Clay Hopper became.

I wish Tony Dungy didn't say what he said. Not because I want him to lie. I have such respect for Tony Dungy I wanted to hear that he would have drafted him. Since I know he wouldn't, I respect his honesty greatly. Tony Dungy is not a terrible man for making these comments. He's human with honest opinions. If those honest feelings offend you, talk about the subject manner in a way to educate. Does attacking Dungy's character suddenly bring out the better Dungy in the future?

If/when I say something that is offensive or disappointing to you, I would love the opportunity to learn from it and have you educate me. I want you to expose me to how you and your community have been wronged when people like me express those types of opinions. I hope you'll make me a better man, just like Jackie did for Clay Hopper.

Monday, July 21, 2014 @ 10:58am

Too good to be true

By: Doug Franz
I'm not a believer because it would have been done.

The Boston Globe and others reported the Lakers explored the idea of an Eric Bledsoe sign-and-trade deal with Phoenix for Julius Randle and a future first-round pick.

This deal is simply too good to be true. Technically, the Suns can't do the deal because the CBA demands a 30-day waiting period before a team can trade a recently-signed draft pick. That wouldn't stand in the way, however, if the deal was real. It would just delay the announcement of the trade but not the negotiations.

I get the fact the Lakers need to do something. If they really want Bledsoe, just sign him. Give him the max. After you've done that, call the Suns and work on the trade. If the Suns have reservations about matching a max deal, they can negotiate a sign-and-trade. If they don't have a problem with it, the Suns will pay Bledsoe the max and everyone gets what they want. he Lakers even get something in that scenario because they stuck it to the Suns and forced them to overpay for Bledsoe.

If the Lakers were really willing to offer Bledsoe the max, it would have already happened.

Every day that goes by, Eric Bledsoe loses a little more leverage.

Friday, July 18, 2014 @ 10:39am

Tiger has no roar

By: Doug Franz
What were you doing on November 27, 2009?

It's probably hard to remember last week, let alone almost five years ago. Tiger Woods drove into a fire hydrant on November 27, 2009.

In the life of an athlete, five years is a monstrous length of time. There's still this wonderfully positive group of people who follow Tiger's every move and still believe in him. Don't waste your time talking about how he's done in one small tournament once a year that pumps you full of hope. Name the Saturday or Sunday round in a major after the fire hydrant that looked like Tiger before the fire hydrant.

Tiger Woods is not the same guy. No one would be the same person if they experienced the self-inflicted problems of Tiger Woods at the end of 2009. The problem is that guy drew great confidence from the life he was leading. That confidence is gone. He has nothing to draw from in recent history.

Look at how few golfers are repeat winners in a major. It's easy to know why. There's too many other good golfers. Tiger has "raised" an entire generation of young golfers to understand the focus it takes to be great. The new Tiger isn't confident enough to beat all of the new Tigers he's created. For years, Tiger's talent dominated the first three rounds and his confidence was a blockade against any other golfer's ability to catch him on a Sunday. Those days are gone.

He's a man who has never come back when trailing on Sunday. In 14 majors that ended with Tiger holding a trophy, none of them started that day with Tiger trailing. If he couldn't come back when he was at the height of his game, it's too far a leap to think he can do it for the first time now.

Five years is long enough to say Tiger Woods is one of the better golfers in the game right now who will never live up to the old Tiger Woods. There's a lot of good golfers in the PGA and the current Tiger sits with them. It's the old Tiger that is the legend.

Jack's 18 majors will never be surpassed.

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