With a 9-0 pitcher on the mound, a possible MVP candidate on first and a potential Rookie of the Year at shortstop, there were fewer than 20,000 fans at the game against Miami. Only Astros and Indians fans were worse. Out of all the teams that are in first or second in action Monday night, Arizona drew the fewest fans...by 15,000.
BLACKHAWKS POWER PLAY:
0 for their last 18. As talented as they are, Chicago needs to shoot the puck and fight for rebounds. Quit trying to be so pretty.
Every major it's the same thing. Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, he dominates the coverage. After Saturday, it's then realized he won't win so they start talking about the next major. When will the national media break the trend and start explaining why he won't win on Thursday? No one on the course is intimidated by Tiger anymore and he's not as confident.
The conditioning test is brilliant. After pushing the players through a tough workout, the Suns put prospective draft picks through a grueling test of stamina. What they really want to see is whether or not you feel entitled or above the need to do the test. If a player thinks they're too good for the test at 19-22 years old with no money, you have a window to their soul on how well they will listen to a coach after they've signed their contract.
2013-14 will be very tough. I don't think the talent is there to win 30 games. I'm also not concerned. This time the pain will lead to pleasure.
About every 10 years, my beloved game embarrasses me. Not coincidentally, Mark McGwire is at the forefront.
I say "my game" not as if I own it more than you, for it is truly "our" game. I say my beloved game because of what it means to me. I realize this moment ranks nowhere near the 1919 White Sox, steroids, Pete Rose or the Pittsburgh drug trials. Anytime confidence is lost, however, it's not good for the game.
There were so many things right about the fines and suspensions. Unfortunately, there were two so terribly wrong that it can't be justified. Five games for Eric Hinske versus two games for McGwire and one for Ronald Belisario is inexcusable.
McGwire is a coach. Baseball must send a message that roid rage on the field will not be tolerated. Coaches must be held to a higher standard. A two-game suspension does nothing to discourage a coach running onto the field desperately trying to begin his own brawl. Matt Williams and Kirk Gibson are not to blame for the Dodgers' payroll, misery, injuries, bandwagon fans, overrated ballpark or Manny-world. Since McGwire cares so little for showing class, why shouldn't the next coach feel free to get a coaching brawl started? At worst, they're gone for two games.
Show me how the actions of Hinske are five times worse than the actions of Belisario. It can't be done. I'm not saying Hinske was a saint. If I'm a player after seeing this decision, I'm all in during the next fight. If I can act like Belisario only to receive one game, that's worth it. Each team should hire a goon like 1970s hockey. Your guy gets plunked, your goon runs out of the dugout and he's only gone for a game.
I see nothing wrong with the decisions made on any of the Diamondbacks. MLB was extremely fair to the Diamondbacks. They got what they deserve. I'm embarrassed that my beloved game dropped the ball on the Dodgers instead of the hammer. Another example of football's leadership being so much better. Wish it wasn't true.
The blame game has started. Everyone wants to claim they know the unwritten rules of baseball. Let's look at what really happened last night and lay the blame where it belongs while exonerating those who are getting ripped by others who only pretend to know the game. We'll go through every name of a hit batter, the pitcher that threw it leading up to the brawl and the main participants of the brawl.
CODY ROSS: He got hit early in the game but this was nothing and had nothing to do with the fight. He's guilty of nothing and neither is Grienke on this hit by pitch.
YASIEL PUIG: I normally have a huge problem with the "ODP," the out-of-the-dugout puncher. If you get hit by a pitch thrown at your head and you're not sure if your pitchers have your back, I understand charging the mound. I never thought the day would come where I'd accept the ODP but I do here. You get hit in the face -- irrelevant of how glancing the blow is -- you're completely dazed. Then you get an inning to sit and realize you could have died. Now a real fight breaks out, I get it. I give Puig a complete break for his actions during the fight.
IAN KENNEDY: The hitting of Puig was accidental. Anyone who argues that point is an idiot. Compare the reaction of Kennedy when he hit Puig and when he hit Greinke. There's a half hop as if he can telegraph a "look out" mental note to Puig while Montero immediately jumps to Puig's side. Hitting of Greinke was obviously intentional and Kennedy was walking towards the dugout in the middle of his follow through.
I have no problem with the idea of hitting Greinke. I do have a problem with Kennedy going high. I hope Kennedy wanted Greinke's back and it got away from him. If Kennedy meant to go head high, that's bush-league every single time. Due to my personal knowledge of Kennedy's level of class, I trust the pitch missed the spot on Greinke he was aiming.
ZACH GREINKE: Despite all the screaming from the D-Backs' dugout and from D-backs fans, he did nothing wrong either. So many are screaming that since Kennedy didn't mean to hit Puig, that let's him off-the-hook. No it doesn't! If you throw a pitch at the star's head, it doesn't matter whether you meant it. There will be retribution. It's Kennedy's job to control his pitches whether he's trying to bust someone up and in or not. You hit my guy in the nose, I'm hitting your guy.
Greinke didn't go high on Montero. He hit him squarely in the back. Even more impressive was Greinke's reaction to getting hit was extremely professional. He didn't charge the mound. He didn't get involved in the fight. He took his base. He went after the shortstop on the double-play turn. He didn't break any of the unwritten rules and was a complete example of how the game should be played.
CLINT FAGAN: An absolute horrific display by an umpire. If he's at third today for the series finale, you know MLB is truly lost when it comes to developing, training and promoting good umpires while fining, suspending or demoting the poor ones. After Fagan embarrassed himself with a terrible call at first Monday night, he out-does himself Tuesday night. In the fourth inning, Gonzalez is on first with Puig at the plate. Puig fouls off the first pitch for ball one. Yes you read that right. It is literally impossible to make it to the Major League level and make a call as stupid as Fagan did. How did you not hear it hit the bat Mr. Fagan? If it wasn't a strike, sir, why did you give Montero another ball? The "unfoul-ball" ended up by the screen. Isn't that a live ball and Gonzalez could go to second? If he didn't go to second, doesn't that show you it was a foul ball?
I bring this up to establish Fagan's credibility for his next horrible decision. You do not have to wait until there's a warning before you eject a pitcher. If the umpire's discretion is that there was an intentional hit batsman, he's within his right to automatically eject the pitcher and issue warnings. I completely stick up for Greinke's right to defend Puig and hit Montero. It doesn't change the fact he must be ejected. Fagan must get control of the situation and take retaliation off the table for the D-backs.
I hate the fact baseball has become soft. Baseball is supposed to be settled by the players but the rules have changed. I don't like the rule that allows pitchers to be ejected for playing the game the right way. However, my opinion is irrelevant. These are the rules as set by MLB and Fagan failed to use them to defuse the situation. If Fagan had a clue how to handle the game, the brawl never happens because Greinke's ejected and Kennedy has no one to hit.
BUD SELIG: Do you really think the umpires can see every action during a brawl? Why has instant replay been so slow? The umpire's job is to try to bring peace in that situation. There's no way they can do that while judging who should stay and who should be ejected. Give the men a monitor. Your umpires allowed a manager to throw a bench coach to the ground and stay in the game. That's not on them, that's on you.
RONALD BELISARIO: You are the classic ODP. You have no place in this game. You're nothing. You came running into a fight by slapping people away until you could start throwing hay-makers. You didn't want to square someone up like a man. Your goal was to hide on the outside of the scrum, out-flank, throw punches but make sure any that connected couldn't be returned. I hope the D-backs never forget you. If the D-backs could win a championship with you but not without you, I'd rather not win than to ever have you in this organization. The D-backs are about class and guts. You have neither.
MARK MCGWIRE: It's already established you're a fraud by your previous decisions. Now we know you're an unprofessional joke. You're going after Kirk Gibson? You really think Gibson needs you to educate him on the right way to play the game? You're not a player anymore, Mark. Even Clint Fagan is glad you were there as the biggest embarrassment of the night. Anything less than a 10-game suspension shows it's clearly time for a new commissioner.
DON MATTINGLY: You're not a fraud. You're not an unprofessional joke, but you did act like one for one night. You're better than your actions. You must be suspended for your actions but it doesn't have to hurt. Three games is plenty.
My huge take away from Tuesday's show didn't happen on the air. It happened during a not so beautiful part of the program.
I love our conversations with our guests regarding their dads. Tom Candiotti joined us to talk D-Backs. Before our conversation, we talked to him off-air when he told us about his father's death when Tom was 17. Wolf mentioned his father passed when Wolf was 19. Tom said, "It forces you to grow up fast."
I'm 41. Although I'm nervous about my father dying from a sudden heart attack, I'm so blessed to have had him here for my whole life to this point. Tom is so right about his comment. So many times I came into a situation unprepared only to find my father there to help cover me.
From me to all of you whose father is alive: Call him this week.
Bill Belichick has a reason for everything. Very few times will he do anything that doesn't have an agenda, itinerary and/or schema. Randomness is projectile vomited on and happenstance rebuked in the world of Coach Belichick.
In a meeting of team captains, I can still remember him telling us in Cleveland there was a reason behind every decision he made; he then took 30-minutes to explain why he released Bernie Kosar. His reasons were copious, sagacious and completely accurate.
When I heard the Patriots had signed Tim Tebow, I thought of my days in Cleveland with Belichick and pondered the reasoning behind this development. Nobody wanted Tebow. The Tebow Circus is something that should not be taken lightly. Why would Coach Belichick do this?
And then…the pieces started to fall into place.
The proliferation of the read-option in the NFL will be on display en masse in 2013. Washington (RG3), Seattle (Russell Wilson), San Francisco (Colin Kaepernick), Carolina (Cam Newton) and Philadelphia (Chip Kelly & Michael Vick) have already installed or institutionalized the Read-Option into their scheme.
And more teams will tinker with the concept if for no other reason than to understand how it works. The biggest threat to many NFL teams that have established quarterbacks that are adept at throwing the ball in a pro style offense is the read-option. Teams build their offense around the talents of their Q; since most NFL GMs have been looking for Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, they know very little of how the read-option works and, more importantly, how to stop it.
Tebow is not going to see the field because there is not a down & distance or situation in all of football where you would have Tebow replace Tom Brady. Nobody is going to take the ball out of Tom Brady's hands.
Belichick is bringing Tebow in to be his third-string quarterback, knowing he can run the read-option. This is brilliant.
Traditionally, the third-string Q is a young, developmental guy. There are very few teams in the league that ever want to see their third-string quarterback in a game and if he is, all is lost on Sunday. By definition, Tebow is the young (25), developmental guy if ever there was one -- whom knows the intricacies, nuance and idiosyncrasies of the read-option. Tebow will be able to show this understanding to Belichick's defense all week long as they prepare to play a team that uses elements of the read-option. Tebow will give the Patriots defense a "good look" Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
And Tebow gets to stay at Q. Although I think Coach Belichick will use Tebow to play H-Back and play on special teams, Tebow will be allowed to continue his pursuit of playing quarterback in the NFL. And don't be surprised to see Tebow running a read-option package on game day if Tom Brady goes down in a pile.
Belichick knows the read-option is here for at least the next two or three seasons. He also knows learning how to stop it is critical. It's one of the reasons he visited with Chip Kelly while Kelly was in Oregon. Belichick wanted to understand the dynamics, precepts and coaching points of the offense, not so he could run it, so he could stop it.
The best way to beat your enemy is to understand your enemy. Ancient Chinese Warrior-Philosopher, Sun Tzu, said, "Know your enemy and know yourself." Or as my old coach used to say, "Some dogs bark and some dogs bite and some dogs like to do their business close to the porch. And you better know what you're dealin' with before you knock on that door."
Belichick knocked on Chip Kelly's door and Tim Tebow answered. And it's just another example of Belichick being ahead of the NFL curve...again.