Some thoughts on what's happening right now.
1) Last week it was announced that 7'6" Yao Ming was retiring from the NBA. This prompted me to wonder if his career was the most disappointing in NBA history. Remember, he was drafted with higher expectations than any #1 pick in 30 years except LeBron James. He was supposed to be Dirk Nowitzki with inside game and 6 more inches. Instead, he was too soft, too slow, and never used his size to the full advantage. Really, Yao is the man most responsible for the myth that international players are 'soft,' a myth that Dirk shattered during his remarkable postseason. Anyway, the only reason I bring up Yao is to ask: now that he's retired, and considering there won't be an NBA season next year anyway, will Yao still manage to get voted into the All Star game?
2) Speaking of the NBA Lockout, Nets point guard Deron Williams (a fringe top 10 overall player) stated this week that he plans to "take his talents' to Turkey until the lockout is lifted. Will this lead to a trend of NBA players vacating? I don't think so. Probably some lesser knowns, but nobody as good as D-Will. Either way, this is intriguing. It shows that the players have no optimism about playing in 2011. Which stinks, but on the bright side, it's one more season that King James won't win a ring.
3) Womens soccer is headlining ESPN right now. Somebody kill me.
4) The Tigers head into the All Star break .5 games ahead of Cleveland, thanks to another Verlander gem on Sunday. We've got 5 All Stars, 2 could-have-been All Stars, and we play in the crappiest division in baseball. And we're up by half a stinking game. Boo Leyland!
5) In other news from the Leyland Stinks Department, his two favorite players (Ryan Raburn and Brandon Inge) went 0 for 6 yesterday with 4 strikeouts, while Inge committed the error that broke up Verlander's shutout in the 8th inning. It was Inge's second error in two days, giving him more errors this season (8) than doubles (7). He's tied for the team lead in errors (tied with Raburn of course) and hitting .184 with 57 strikeouts and 17 walks, for a sterling .250 on-base percentage. Of all MLB players with at least 200 at-bats, only one player has a worse on-base percentage. I'll give you one guess.
6) Why does Leyland insist on giving regular playing time to the two worst hitters in the major leagues if they are also leading the team in errors? Can anybody explain this to me? Wouldn't Detroit be 15 games ahead of Cleveland if we played our best possible lineup every game?
7) It sounds like the NFL lockout will be lifted sometime in the next 2 weeks, but they did say that 2 weeks ago. They are trying desperately to save the preseason, which makes little sense to me if everybody hates it. But they do need to save free agency and time for training camps. And the other issue no one is discussing: rookie contracts. If every year rookies hold out because no suitable contract could be reached in 5 months, how are rookies going to come to deals in 5 weeks? There are going to be tons of holdouts, and if Nick Fairley is one of them I will be pissed. If Cam Newton is one, I will be the opposite of surprised.
8) Derek Jeter got his 3,000th hit this weekend. Good for him. But I don't understand why it was such a massive story. He's the 29th guy to ever do that. Big deal. His career batting average is .313. That's good, but not amazing. All this talk about Jeter as "an all-time great" is kind of silly. He had an incredibly consistent career with plenty of championships. But my definition of all-time great is someone I will want to tell my kids and grandkids about. When Jack is a teenager, I'll tell him about Pujols, Ichiro, Verlander, the steroid era, and the villian called Barry Bonds. But if he asks "What about that Jeter guy?" I'll say "Meh, he was alright."