Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A column for change

As you may or may not have heard, apparently we are in a time of change. Last night Senator Barack Obama was victorious in one of the most historic Presidential elections in our nation's history. The President elect rode a platform built on the promises of the change we need. He is young, he is the first African American elected to this office, he is charismatic, and evidently he is looking to shake things up. But most important to Errant Balls, he told Chris Berman he'd like to change the college football BCS to an 8-team playoff... now that is a candidate we can endorse! He clearly has his finger on the nation's most pressing issues, so in honor of his election, here are the rest of the big changes coming down in the sports world this past week.

- After the Phillies won the World Series, Philadelphia officially earned the right to call itself the City of Champions for the first time in over 20 years. Hopefully this change in fortune will bring about some similarly positive changes in the way Philly sports fans choose to celebrate. Maybe the traditional booing of beloved holiday icons will be replaced merry rejoicing, and maybe the ritual beat down of fans in visiting team jerseys (regardless of age or sex) will be replaced by, I don't know... the wave?

- In the first blockbuster trade of the NBA season, perennial All-Star Allen Iverson was traded to the Detroit Pistons. While this is a big change for the Pistons this year, who have evidently gone from the most team-based mentality in the league to the "let's sign a guy who takes more shots than our whole team combined" mentality, the real change could come 2 years down the road. Many say this is a veiled attempt at freeing up the cap space necessary to make a push for LeBron James in 2010. But really, convincing the biggest star in the sport to leave his unhappiness behind in Cleveland and come play in Detroit? That's like ditching the let downs of the Econo Lodge for the luxuries of a Super 8...

- The hot stove of the MLB free agent market is beginning to heat up, and many big names can be expected to change teams this offseason. The biggest name perhaps, being Manny Ramirez. Will LA be able to re-sign him? Or will we see the famous Manny doo rag and filthy braids combo in yet another color next year? One thing is for sure, his agent Scott Boras had better keep an extremely close eye on Ramirez at all times in the negotiating process. Otherwise, he could turn around to see his precarious client eating the orange crayon he just used to sign a 6-year contract that pays him in pogs and non-toxic paste to play for the Kansas City Royals.

- Rather than allowing him to play, buying him out, trading him, or waiving him, the Knicks have elected to take a different approach with beleaguered guard Stephon Marbury; pay him $21.9 million to sit on the sidelines. In an effort to alleviate the awkwardness of having him sitting at the end of their bench though, the likely next step will be a $5 million bonus for him to position himself discreetly amongst the crowd during games.

- In a move that head coach Romeo Crennel insists was not spurred on by the vicious booing of Cleveland fans, untested quarterback Brady Quinn will finally make his first NFL start on Thursday with only one day of practice to prepare. Crennel elected to make the change after Derek Anderson and the Browns dreadful collapse that led to a 37-27 loss to the Ravens last Sunday. Browns center Hank Fraley was the first to publicly discredit the move, which was likely a product of being less than thrilled with the thought of this guy being directly behind him so often.

- Are the Yankees changing their ways? In yet another move trending away from the huge free agent spending in the organization's recent past, the Bombers declined to pick up the options of two such players, Jason Giambi and Carl Pavano. With the first base slugger and the pitcher who had impressed them so much as an opponent failing to pan out though, it seems the Yankees may have learned some valuable lessons. Plus, with the cap space freed up in their absence the Yanks will now be able to throw their hat in the ring for Mark Teixeira, CC Sabathia*, and Jake Peavy. (* It is unlikely however, that the Yankees will be able to match the Brewers offer to Sabathia for his choice of the racing sausages on a hoagie roll, so might as well just make that A.J. Burnett).

- It seems as though the Dan Orlovsky era is over in Detroit, as retired quarterback Daunte Culpepper has evidently changed his mind about retirement (and self respect), and has signed a contract to play for the Lions. The former Viking, who had one of the game's most prolific seasons only 3 years ago, could start for the bumbling Lions as early as this Sunday. As head coach Rod Marinelli put it: "We didn't even bother to tell our last quarterback that you're not allowed to run out the back of your own endzone... So no, we aren't stressing too hard about Daunte's lack of preparation coming in."

- For the first time in 17 years, the New Jersey Devils will be forced to man the crease with someone other than the greatest goalie of all time. Martin Brodeur suffered the first major injury of his historic and enduring career, and will miss 3-4 months of time after undergoing surgery to repair his injured elbow. In the mean time the Devils will now likely turn to backup Kevin Weekes to be their first, new everday starter since Brodeur made his career debut on the same night as the series finale of 21 Jump Street.

- In the face of so many changes, I'd like to close with the comfort of one thing that remains constant in our sports loving lives: John Daly's continued attempts at making changes are still failing miserably... and hilariously. The Chris Farley of the PGA was picked up by police at a Hooters restaurant in North Carolina last week after he appeared "intoxicated and uncooperative." The oft-troubled golfer was held by police overnight to sober up, as he had arrived with a touring group and had no means of transportation (Just as an aside: If you are a Hooters waitress and see John Daly arrive at your establishment in a party bus, is it the equivalent of watching this approach Tokyo?) His explanation? "They called 911 because I was sleeping with my eyes open and they thought I was dead." Wow. I've got nothing on that John... we love you.

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