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Wednesday, July 19, 2006 

Crazy Day Notes of Note

Lately I’ve been updating 2 posts daily – one with NHL free agent signings (a post that is getting out of control fast) and one answering peoples fantasy baseball questions. Today, however, got so weird and out of control that I felt I had to break away from that for the day. Unfortunately, I got busy with some other things and got really tired in the process, and that can only mean one thing. It’s time

Staph Infections?

The boys at Forward Progress brought up Staph Infections today in their weekly props and flops feature. The Professional had the following to say about it:

I had never heard the term ’staph infection’ before and had no idea what it meant. Now I’ve heard it used a bazillion times on sportscasts but still have no idea what it means. It began with Sabres defensemen Jay McKee who was hospitalized when a blocked shot led to an infected leg during the Eastern Conference Final. Then Alex Rios fouled a ball off his leg and BAMMO!, staph infection. Now Jays starter and continous loser Ty Taubenheim has been put on the disabled list with, you guessed it, a staph infection.

Sportscasters have been saying ’staph infection’ almost as often as home run or field goal but no one has really bothered to explain what the heck it means (probably because dunderheads like Sean McCormick have no idea either)! Then reports came out that the Jays clubhouse was ‘disinfected’ in order to prevent an ‘outbreak of staph infections’. What is going on here people?!?

For those of you who aren’t familiar, “Staph” is staphylococcus bacteria, and is very common. Many people have it living on their skin most of the time, and it cannot do damage unless entering the body through an open wound. Generally it will only cause minor irritation (ie. puss, boils). Also as a general rule, healthy people do not become seriously ill from Staph infections. Those who do are people with weakened immune systems from chronic illness (ranging from diabetes to aids), elderly people, newborns, people recovering from major surgery, nursing mothers, injection drug users and people whose immune systems are weakened due to steroid use. This is really the list of endangered people, you can find it in most medical textbooks definitions if you try.

Unless Rios is diabetic, or has a baby at home he’s somehow nursing, there’s one glaring conclusion to be drawn here. A conclusion that is being drawn left right and center these days, but somehow the McKee’s and the Rios’ of the world have managed to side step it. Despite Rios having 1 home run and a .383 slugging % 2 years ago, 10 home runs and a .397 slugging % last season, and then inexplicably increasing his output to 15 home runs and a .585 slugging % through only 72 games this season. Of course it could be (and likely is) just that Rios has been developing in his young career. But if people out there actually knew a little bit about staph infections you might be hearing it called into question from time to time. And at least there would be more reason than just randomly decided Edmonds increased numbers one year were due to steroids without any real proof, or that Teixeira’s numbers are down cuz he’s off the juice. At least these accusations would have some concrete merit outside of speculation and Jose’s self-promoting mind.

Rios Small Sized

Speaking of Rios, it was nice to see him up and hitting a few balls today, but at the same time it looks like his sickness cost him at least 20 pounds. At least. He looked just awful. If you own Alex in your fantasy league, take note – he is not going to be back in form any time soon. Not even close.

What? Just… just what?

So, there’s this article on ESPN today - Iraqi avoids Olympic kidnapping with casual dress

In the article, you’ll find the following passage:

"Can I have a doggie bag, please?" he asked a waiter, as he got ready to pack up the burrito and a few remaining tortilla chips from the basket. Those words "made all of us at the U.S. Olympic Committee know he'd be all right," Condron wrote in an essay recounting Hussain's time in the United States.

So, apparently, because Hussain had noticed someone else ask for a doggie bag at some point, and was able to regurgitate his words, that meant he’d be alright. That just might go down in history as the most bizarre way to judge a person. If you can mimic something you saw, you’ll be just fine.

Self-Promotion Lands an All Star Appearance

OK, so it’s one thing for Canseco to be back toiling in the minors again, but do they really need to encourage him like this? Despite striking out in his first 20 straight at bats to start his minor league stint (slight exaggeration included), they allowed him to make an appearance in their All Star game. If that isn’t bad enough, apparently he’s going to pitch an inning in the game. He’s apparently worked on a knuckle ball that’s he’s planning on showing off… worked on for 2 weeks. That’s right, he put a whole 2 weeks into strengthening his arm and getting ready to pitch. This is bound to end well.

The Smith Saga

By now I’m sure you’ve all heard about the strange goings on in New York today (the Ice Block has a good rundown if somehow you haven't heard yet). When the news first broke, it was announced that 40 days after hiring Mike Smith they were letting him go. That was all the first news said. To which the JF and I had the following conversation:

JF - this is weird... they just hired him
SGN - i wouldnt mind seeing an explanation on that one
JF - they probably just hired him to get tom poti. now that he's done that, he's of no use to them
SGN - here's how i picture the conversation going:

”guy, did you really sign brendan witt to 3 years and multiple millions of dollars? “

”yes. yes i did.”

”you're fired.”

The Snow Twist

Shortly thereafter I got an email from the JF saying “well they've updated the story....”. I opened the same TSN link again, only to find out that Garth Snow had retired, and was taking over the GM duties. The only logical reply I had to that news was “that doesnt even resemble the update i was expected. what happened? no really, what? No, come on.” The JF’s reply? “he must have asked for a doggie bag when he went out for mexican with the owner”

The Saga Gets Weirder

In a sense, I think the JF was right. The team owner Wang basically explained that Smith had to be let go because he adhered to a traditional GM roll of making trades and signing players that he deemed worthy based on the opinions of the scouts and his own judgments, instead of just doing what the other executives told him to. I got the feeling that either Wang or Nolan specifically had some issues with him, and not the whole executive staff. Clearly Wang and/or Nolan just wanted a fresh doggie bagger, and not a reputable GM with a couple of Stanley Cup rings to his name.

Later on Wang voiced this opinion again, in a little bit more of a subtle way by saying "We are running this as a business, incorporating the opinions of our hockey operations staff - including Ted Nolan, Bryan Trottier and Pat LaFontaine. Despite Neil's commitment to me that he could work in this environment, he later expressed to me on a number of occasions his philosophical opposition to our business model.
"In light of our differences, I felt that I had no choice but to make this decision in the best interests of the Islanders and our fans. I'm very proud of our draft and the roster additions our staff made this month. Our fans should know that with Ted, Garth, Bryan and Pat helping to lead the way, the Islanders are in very good hands."
So he’s upset that Smith wasn’t following the business model they set out, but they are happy with all the decisions and moves he made. It’s almost like a scene out of the original Major League movie – the team was doing too well, so the owner moved in to sabotage things so that the team would fail badly enough that he could sell it to move it to Orlando. The GM made good moves, so he has to go. I’m not sure that’s the message Wang really wanted to get across, but it’s hard to see it any other way.

The World’s First 6’3” Puppet

Shortly after the press conference, my suspicions about the entire executive staff not really seeing fault in Smiths actions were shown to be true, as Islanders Senior Advisor Pat Lafontaine handed in his resignation. So much for the fans knowing that the team was in the good hands of Ted, Garth, Bryan and Pat. Make that Ted, Garth and Bryan. Oh yeah, and Garth was clearly just brought in to be a yes-man figurehead, so really they’re just in the good hands of Ted and Bryan. Wait, Bryan is just the head of player development, right? So really the team is in the good hands of Ted Nolan, who despite winning the coach of the year award what seems like 73 years ago at this point, he was too hard to get along with and out there to hold his own job, or find another one in the league until now. Yes sir, all in all the situation looks bright for Islander fans.

they made their goalie retire to take over the GM duties... and now he has to factor in his own $1.5 million of salary against the cap over two years, and find his own replacement. how did this happen? wang computers forever!

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