31 July 2007

Le Tour de France

So... Alberto Contador won the Tour de France. Or at least, we think he did - there's a growing thought now that he might have doped. So that would mean that your Tour winner would be... um...

You know what? I don't even care anymore. Between Landis, Armstrong, Ullrich, Rasmussen, Vinokourov, and a host of other guys who might-or-might-not have been chemically enhanced, I find it hard to muster up any enthusiasm for the Tour. Except, of course, for the wrecks. Those are fun to watch... unless, of course, you're a dog.

So what else is going on? NFL training camps have started; the Bucs cut Simeon Rice because he wouldn't take a $2.5 million drop in pay (can't say that I blame him), and now the Giants are using Rice as leverage to get Michael Strahan to report...

MLB trade deadline was this afternoon. Some big moves, some head-scratchers (why would anybody want Seth McClung? Why?), and the Red Sox got Eric Gagne - yeah, that move makes sense - after all, they desperately needed a potentially dominant but injury-prone closer - because that's the one thing they've been lacking...

Have a good evening, everybody.

27 July 2007

Gwynn Comes Clean

Longtime San Diego Padres slugger Tony Gwynn came clean with federal investigators today, on the eve of his entry into Cooperstown, admitting that he never took steroids. "My sculpted physique helped avert suspicion for years," said Gwynn to syndicated reporter Francois Rabelais, "but I couldn't live with my conscience anymore. It wasn't even illegal when I wasn't doing it, but the guilt..." Gwynn trailed off at this point in his statement, seemingly choking back tears.

In a move reminiscent of Mike Piazza's shocking 2002 revelation that he wasn't actually gay, Gwynn finally "came out of the closet," so to speak, on the issue that has dogged him since even before 2005, when he told a congressional committee that he "wasn't going to talk about the past"; another suspected non-user Greg Maddux, who is renowned for his physical fitness, suddenly found himself unable to speak English at the same hearing, while several others stonewalled the investigators.

Suspicions have long been raised about Gwynn, whose expanding waistline towards the end of his career marked a divergence from the MLB's marked trend towards - preferably drug-enhanced - physical perfection. "I thought he might not be using," said former Gwynn teammate Ken Caminiti. "He was always watching those game films, always studying - you could tell that something wasn't quite right."

After months of soul-searching, the now-portly former slugger said, he decided to cooperate fully with the investigation. In a prepared statement, Gwynn announced that, "I have decided to not only admit to my actions, but also to name names; I will submit a list of players who never took steroids, and leave the rest up to the good judgement of those who have conscientiously ignored this matter to this point."

Early rumors suggest that those Gwynn might implicate could include former teammate David Wells, seven time all-star Ichiro Suzuki, and now-deceased slugger Jimmie Foxx, among others.

23 July 2007

Fantasy Football Preview Pt. 5: Sleepers

It's easy enough to run a fantasy football team for the first few rounds of a draft. You get your star players, the guys who are on all the top-10 lists. You (more or less) follow conventional wisdom, and, usually, you'll be fine.

But it's the late rounds of a draft that can really determine your success - when you pick up guys like Greg Jennings, like Mike Furrey, like Jeff Garcia - guys who can come on in a key moment, whether it be stepping in for an injured star or seizing a starting role and putting up 98 receptions, and take your team to the top.

With that in mind, here are 5 sleepers to keep an eye on this year - guys who maybe haven't done a lot in the past, who definitely aren't highly regarded coming into this season, but who could mean the difference between first place and fourth or fifth in your league.

1. Kevin Walter, WR, Houston Texans
Stats
He's a big guy - 6'3", 215 lb. - and he should (barring an injury) be the #2 WR for Houston. Granted, they're not an offensive juggernaut, but they should be improved this season with the additions of Matt Schaub and Gary Kubiak. ESPN Rank: 207

2. Damon Huard, QB, Kansas City Chiefs
Stats
After last season, you'd think that this guy would be pretty highly ranked - in 8 starts after Trent Green went out, he threw 11 touchdowns to only 1 interception. But the continued aging of the Chiefs' offensive line, the mediocre state of the Chiefs' receiving corps, and the drafting of Alabama QB Brodie Croyle have all combined to drive Huard down draft boards. Given a chance, Huard should make the doubters very, very sad. Give him a chance, and Huard can make your fantasy team very, very happy. ESPN Rank: 226

3. Michael Pittman, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Stats
Let's see... why wouldn't this guy be successful? 1. He's stuck behind Cadillac Williams... the decdedly uninspiring and decidedly injury-prone Cadillac Williams. 2. The Bucs' offensive line is weak... except that it's improving, with the addition of former Tiki Barber blocker Luke Petitgout and the continue development of last year's first round pick, Gavin Joseph. Definite potential here. ESPN Rank: 291

4. Sinorice Moss, WR, New York Giants
Stats
He's more like Santana than Randy, but he's smaller (not a good thing) and quite possibly faster (definitely a good thing) than either. Electrifying speed, could be the #2 WR for NY by the end of the season, and offers points from kick/punt returns also. ESPN Rank: 429

5. Cleo Lemon, QB, Miami Dolphins
Stats
Lemon is esconced between a veteran just off an injury - Trent Green - and a 25-year-old rookie - John Beck. The Dolphins seem to like him, for whatever reason, so he should get some playing time if/when Green gets hurt. ESPN Rank: 653

21 July 2007

Fantasy Football Preview Pt. 4: WR

Wide receivers... the prima donnas of the NFL (the Gramatica family excepted). From cell phones hidden in goalposts to riverdancing on the star, these guys are responsible for some of the craziest antics on the football field.

In fantasy football, these guys are also responsible for some big numbers. While they're not the first players you'll draft (unless you're in a really, really deep league), these guys can make or break your team. If you don't have good wide receivers, you're in trouble.

There are, however, a lot of good wide receivers out there. If you don't have one of the guys on this list, you probably have some awesome running backs and probably a top quarterback; unless you horribly mismanage your draft, you should come out okay for wideouts. Still, it never hurts to have a top guy...

1. Marvin Harrison, Indianapolis Colts
Stats
He's not the sexiest pick, but Harrison has produced at a consistently outstanding level for a long time - 10+ TD every year since 1999. He's small, he's old, but he's not slowing down and Peyton Manning is still getting him the ball.
Projection: 100 Rec, 1300 ReYd, 14 TD
Yahoo! Points: 214

2. Steve Smith, Carolina Panthers
Stats
Last year, Smith was considered a bit of a disappointment, but his stats were still enough to merit top-15 WR status. This year, with a healthy Jake Delhomme (translation: Chris Weinke isn't involved) and a healthy offensive line, Smith should rebound nicely.
Projection: 90 Rec, 1400 ReYd, 11 TD
Yahoo! Points: 206

3. Chad Johnson, Cincinnati Bengals
Stats
Ocho Cinco is, to me, an annoying blowhard. But he's also a top-flight wide receiver, if an imperfect one - more physically gifted than either of the two players above him, Johnson somehow nevertheless catches fewer touchdown passes.
Projection: 85 Rec, 1500 ReYd, 8 TD
Yahoo! Points: 198

4. Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis Colts
Stats
He's the #2 WR for the Colts, but still one of the top 4 WR in my rankings. Why? You can't argue with the numbers, and if you own this guy, you don't want to. Slips a little bit in drafts sometimes because of his status as "the other guy", but Colts fans and serious fantasy managers know how good he is.
Projection: 90 Rec, 1250 ReYd, 12 TD
Yahoo! Points: 197

5. Torry Holt, St. Louis Rams
Stats
Here's the rundown on Holt: no fewer than 81 receptions and 1188 yards every year since 2000. Do you want that on your team? I thought so. One word of caution, though: his yards per catch last year was the lowest it's ever been, at 12.8.
Projection: 90 Rec, 1250 ReYd, 10 TD
Yahoo! Points: 185

6. Donald Driver, Green Bay Packers
Stats
Do you remember Antonio Freeman? Driver is Freeman circa 1998 - Brett Favre's favorite target, reasonably big, and a solid possession receiver. Did you catch that? Brett Favre's favorite target - and right now, other than Greg Jennings, Favre's only target. Significant value here.
Projection: 95 Rec, 1350 ReYd, 8 TD
Yahoo! Points: 183

7. Terrell Owens, Dallas Cowboys
Stats
As a human being, I don't like this guy - he's a loudmouthed, egotistical jerk. As a fantasy owner, I love this guy - he's a loudmouthed, egotistical touchdown machine. If you want nice people on your team, by all means don't draft T.O. - if you want to win your league, then by all means do draft him.
Projection: 80 Rec, 1100 ReYd, 12 TD
Yahoo! Points: 182

8. Andre Johnson, Houston Texans
Stats
Johnson is a bit of an enigma. He's a big, fast, skilled wideout with good hands who's been a solid contributor ever since he entered the league; last year, he broke through with 103 receptions. But why hasn't he ever caught more than 6 touchdowns in a season? I think he will this year.
Projection: 100 Rec, 1200 ReYd, 10 TD
Yahoo! Points: 180

9. Roy Williams, Detroit Lions
Stats
Mike Martz likes to throw the ball. We've known that for a while now. In Roy Williams, he has a guy who can catch the ball, and does. Last year, in his first season with Martz and his third in the league, Williams had more receptions and yards than in either of his first two years. There's no reason to think that Williams will take a step back.
Projection: 85 Rec, 1300 ReYd, 8 TD
Yahoo! Points: 178

10. Anquan Boldin, Arizona Cardinals
Stats
Last year, playing with new starting quarterback Matt Leinart, Boldin's stats took a significant hit - his receptions, yards, and touchdowns all declined bigtime. But he was still one of the better fantasy wideouts, and this year, with Leinart more accustomed to the pace of the NFL, Boldin's stats should rebound nicely.
Projection: 95 Rec, 1350 ReYd, 7 TD
Yahoo! Points: 177

17 July 2007

Fantasy Football Preview Pt. 3: QB

A few things to keep in mind about the quarterback position in fantasy football... first, you only start one of them. This means that in a typical league, only twelve quarterbacks will be starting per week - so if you don't have one of the guys on this list, you're in a bit of trouble.

Second, even though you want to get one of the top ten quarterbacks, there's no need to draft early. Usually, Peyton will be the only guy taken in the first round, and Carson Palmer will be the only other quarterback taken in the first three rounds. There'll be a group taken in the 4th and 5th, and then a guy or two taken in each round after that.

So: get a top guy, but don't reach or stress too much. Capisce? Cool, on to the rankings. Since none of these guys is Michael Vick or Vince Young, I'm not including rushing stats.

1. Peyton Manning, Indianapolis Colts
Stats
The first quarterback taken in every mock I've seen for the past, oh, four years or so? Absolutely an elite player, and the only quarterback worthy of being taken in the first round. With a new starting running back in Joseph Addai, Peyton may have to throw even more this year.
Prediction: 370/575, 4400 Yds, 34 TD, 12 INT
Yahoo! Points: 300

2. Carson Palmer, Cincinnati Bengals
Stats
Palmer typically gets drafted in the third round or so (ADP=28, according to MockDraftCentral.com), the second quarterback taken after Manning I see him as having the potential to equal Manning someday... but this isn't that day.
Prediction: 350/550, 4100 Yds, 30 TD, 13 INT
Yahoo! Points: 271

3. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
Stats
I see Brees, this year, actually putting up similar numbers to Palmer; however, he'll be taken, typically, a round or so later, making him a better value. The loss of Joe Horn will hurt, but the Saints are rapidly becoming the early-Martz Rams - they chuck it all over the field, and nobody stops them.
Prediction: 375/575, 4500 Yds, 25 TD, 11 INT
Yahoo! Points: 269

4. Tom Brady, New England Patriots
Stats
His touchdown numbers have declined each of the last three years. Moss, Stallworth, and Welker should help with that.
Prediction: 325/525, 4000 Yds, 28 TD, 13 INT
Yahoo! Points: 259

5. Donovan McNabb, Philadelpha Eagles
Stats
Yes, he's an injury risk. Yes, he's playing with questionable receivers. Yes, I rate him as the 5th-best fantasy football quarterback. Why? He's Donovan McNabb, and he's playing QB for Andy Reid. Draft Alex Smith or Jeff Garcia to fill in for the 3 games he'll miss, and you're in good shape.
Projection: 250/400, 3700 Yds, 27 TD, 8 INT
Yahoo! Points: 248

6. Marc Bulger, St. Louis Rams
Stats
I don't like this guy as a player. Something about him just gets on my nerves. But as a fantasy QB, he's pretty solid. Scott Linehan worries me with his talk about running the ball more, but as long as Holt and Bruce are in town, Bulger is in the top half of starting fantasy QBs.
Projection: 350/575, 4300 Yds, 23 TD, 8 INT
Yahoo! Points: 256

7. Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers
Stats
And now come the young guys... Rivers burst onto the scene last year, after taking the reins from the departed Drew Brees, and showed why the Chargers took him #4 overall in 2004. LDT cuts into his attempts, but also provides a valuable safety valve.
Projection: 300/475, 3500 Yds, 26 TD, 10 INT
Yahoo! Points: 234

8. Eli Manning, New York Giants
Stats
Scatter-armed and unreliable, but he has some targets in Plaxico Burress and Amani Toomer. The loss of Tiki Barber should send his attempts and his yardage, but unfortunately also his already-painful INTs, skyward.
Projection: 300/575, 3800 Yds, 25 TD, 20 INT
Yahoo! Points: 232

9. Jay Cutler, Denver Broncos
Stats
He's started 5 games in his NFL career, and he has 5 INTs. But he also has an absolute gun of an arm, and he has the newly imported Javon Walker. And you've got to cheer for a guy from Vanderbilt, right? Seriously, though, he's a lower-tier fantasy starter. Good potential, but also quite a bit of risk.
Projection: 240/450, 3000 Yds, 25 TD, 15 INT
Yahoo! Points: 205

10. Matt Leinart, Arizona Cardinals
Stats
And we reach the end of the list, with a guy who has terrific receivers (Boldin and Fitzgerald), a quality RB (Edge), but a lousy offensive line. When Leinart isn't on his back, he'll be putting up numbers. But he'll be on his back a lot.
Projection: 275/500, 3200 Yds, 24 TD, 20 INT
Yahoo! Points: 204

15 July 2007

Fantasy Football Preview pt. 2: RB

In what has become a continuing series, we're previewing the top fantasy prospects at each position. Today, we're looking at the top 10 running backs.

Running backs are the cornerstone of any great fantasy football team; they usually are at least the first 8 or so picks, and the majority of the first two rounds. Why? Position scarcity. Without further ado...

1. LaDainian Tomlinson, San Diego Chargers
Stats
The unquestioned #1. Head and shoulders above everyone else, and deservedly so. Combines dynamic rushing ability with excellent hands, and he's in an offense where he's utilized properly. With the loss of Keenan McCardell, he could acquire even more value in PPR leagues.
Projection: 350 Att, 1700 RuYd, 23 TD, 60 Rec, 500 ReYd, 5 TD. Yahoo! Points: 388

2. Steven Jackson, St. Louis Rams
Stats
The second coming of Marshall Faulk? Maybe. The premier pass-catching running back in the league, and the only back who (barring an LDT injury) has the ability to challenge the San Diego juggernaut for the #1 overall value. Of course, he could also fall back into the pack a bit. The first of the second tier.
Projection: 325 Att, 1600 RuYd, 15 TD, 85 Rec, 800 ReYd, 5 TD. Yahoo! Points: 360

3. Larry Johnson, Kansas City Chiefs
Stats
First, the warning signs: Johnson's ypc dropped from 5.2 to 4.3 last year; he set a new NFL record for carries in a season; he's threatening to hold out. Now the fun stuff: 1700+ rushing yards each of the last two years; immense talent; and there's no reason to think that he'll run out of steam any time soon, as he's only been starting for a season and a half.
Projection: 400 Att, 1750 RuYd, 18 TD, 40 Rec, 350 ReYd, 5 TD. Yahoo! Points: 348

4. Shaun Alexander, Seattle Seahawks
Stats
I very nearly put Alexander at #3; his 2005 perfomance was stellar. Then I remembered that his 2006 just plain wasn't very good - 896 yards and 7 TD are not the numbers you expect from a top-3 selection. Completely recovered from the foot injury that caused him to miss 6 games last year, though, Alexander should rebound nicely.
Projection: 350 Att, 1650 RuYd, 18 TD, 25 Rec, 200 ReYd, 5 TD. Yahoo! Points: 323

5. Frank Gore, San Francisco 49ers
Stats
The least experienced of the top 5, Gore began to tap his potential last year in his first year starting. A quality back, he doesn't, so far, seem to be as injury-prone as some feared when he entered the league fresh off two ACL tears. The arrival of Darrell Jackson could leech away a few receptions, but Alex Smith's continued development should help to offset the loss.
Projection: 325 Att, 1700 RuYd, 12 TD, 50 Rec, 400 ReYd, 4 TD. Yahoo! Points: 306

6. Willie Parker, Pittsburgh Steelers
Stats
There's a clear dropoff from the top 5 to everyone else, but don't let that fool you. Parker is consistent, he's dependable, and he gets the ball a lot. There's value there.
Projection: 350 Att, 1500 RuYd, 14 TD, 25 Rec, 200 ReYd, 1 TD. Yahoo! Points: 265

7. Rudi Johnson, Cincinnati Bengals
Stats
Workhorse. Takes the ball and runs forward. Does what you ask him to. Not explosive, but he doesn't have to be when he plays on the same offense with Palmer, Housh, and Ocho Cinco.
Projection: 350 Att, 1400 RuYd, 12 TD, 25 Rec, 150 ReYd, 2 TD. Yahoo! Points: 239

8. Joseph Addai, Indianapolis Colts
Stats
The kid has skills - over a thousand rushing yards last year, and he didn't start a regular season game. Working with Peyton Manning ensures that he'll be in the right place at the right time; it's just his job to take advantage. Can he? I think so, but the risk factor - Addai has never carried a full load - keeps me from bumping him up above Johnson or Parker.
Projection: 300 Att, 1300 RuYd, 10 TD, 60 Rec, 500 ReYd, 2 TD. Yahoo! Points: 252

9. Travis Henry, Denver Broncos
Stats
He's the unquestioned starting running back for Mike Shanahan. Unquestioned starting running backs for Mike Shanahan tend to do pretty doggone well. Not to mention, he's got a solid track record from his time in Buffalo. Plug him into your lineup and smile.
Projection: 320 Att, 1350 RuYd, 10 TD, 20 Rec, 170 ReYd, 1 TD. Yahoo! Points: 228

10. Laurence Maroney, New England Patriots
Stats
This kid makes me nervous - something about him just doesn't sit right. But would I draft him at 10? Probably, unless one of the other guys on this list was available. Maroney's stats from last year are underwhelming, until you consider he was sharing time with the now-retired Corey Dillon; then they become, if not stellar, at least okay-ish.
Projection: 300 Att, 1250 RuYd, 9 TD, 35 Rec, 220 ReYd, 2 TD. Yahoo! Points: 223

12 July 2007

Rookie Predictions

The All-Star break is over. The second half of the MLB season is abooout to start.
You know what that means - it's time to start preparing for fantasy football.

I've played fantasy football for two seasons now, in leagues on CBS Sportsline, Yahoo, and ESPN. Out of 9 leagues, I've won 3 and come in 2nd in 2 others... not terrific, but certainly reasonable. My most intense league is a 20-team dynasty monstrosity. I won it last year behind a core group of Donovan McNabb (with a Jeff Garcia handcuff), Steven Jackson, and Jamal Lewis.

In a dynasty league, of course, you can keep as many of your players as you wish. This means that rookies, especially at QB/RB/WR, are the subject of much interest, since they're guaranteed to be available in the draft.

After that long lead-in and beautiful segue, here are a few NFL rookies to keep an eye on for fantasy football this year.

1. Marshawn Lynch, RB, Buffalo Bills.
Lynch should be the unquestioned starter in Buffalo, replacing the departed Willis McGahee. As such, he has probably the most fantasy value of any rookie. Oh, and he's pretty good. Should be a solid RB2.
Prediction: 270 carries, 1050 yd, 7 TD; 25 rec, 200 yd, 3 TD.

2. Calvin Johnson, WR, Detroit Lions.
We all know that CJ is big, fast, and talented. But Johnson will still have to battle for the #2 WR spot with Mike Furrey, who last year had 98 rec for 1086 yards and 6 TD. The uncertainty keeps him from being #1 on this list. If he wins the spot, he could be a WR2; if he doesn't, he's a WR3 at best.
If Johnson is #2 WR: 75 rec, 1000 yd, 8 TD
If Johnson is #3 WR: 45 rec, 700 yd, 5 TD

3. Brandon Jackson, RB, Green Bay Packers.
Somewhat of an unknown quantity to most fantasy owners, the reviews so far on Jackson, a 2nd round pick out of Nebraska, have been good. Jackson will have to battle Vernand Morency for the #1 RB spot, but should win pretty easily. A RB3/flex type.
Prediction: 220 carries, 900 yd, 6 TD; 35 rec, 300 yd, 4 TD.

4. Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings.
First, the good: Peterson is a very talented running back.
Then, the bad: Peterson is injury prone, stuck in a time share with Chester Taylor, and has to deal with second-year developmental prospect Tarvaris Jackson at quarterback. Not a reliable fantasy option, Peterson should be no better than a flex/bench player for your fantasy team.
Prediction: 175 carries, 6oo yd, 4 TD; 15 rec, 200 yd, 2 TD.

08 July 2007

Federer V Nadal

Sometimes, you just know a contest is over.

Bulls down by 1, MJ with the ball.
Padres ahead in the 9th, Trevor Hoffman walking to the mound.
Tennis match on grass, Roger Federer playing.

Today, Federer matched up against Rafael Nadal in the Wimbledon men's singles final. And, for the first time in a long time, it didn't feel like the match was over before it began. Didn't feel that way, actually, until Federer held to go up 3-2 in the 5th set.

A little while ago, I wrote a post saying that Nadal was possibly the only player in the world who had the potential to challenge Federer on a consistent basis. Nadal has been dominant on clay - we all know that. Today, he elevated his game on grass.

This wasn't a case of Federer being "off" or having a bad day. The magnitude of the event didn't get to him (how could it? He's won 5 in a row now!). Federer was playing some of the best tennis I've seen anyone play in a long, long time. And Nadal was matching him stroke for stroke.
Federer, at times, looks like a finesse player - exquisitely precise with the ball, but slightly lacking in power. Nadal, at times, looks like he's hitting the ball hard but isn't quite sure where it's going to go. Today, both players were absolutely killing the ball, and putting it exactly where they wanted it to go.

Nadal was at his best today. So was Federer. Federer's best, on the surface he calls home, where he's won, now, 34 consecutive matches, was just the slightest bit better than Nadal's. But it didn't show until the second half of the fifth set. Truly impressive stuff fom both players.

04 July 2007

Joey Chestnut: An American Hero

“I view it as my patriotic duty,” said American hero Joey Chestnut before the contest. “I’m following in the footsteps of Neil Armstrong, of George Washington, of that dude who invented the light bulb. It’s like I’m leading America back to its rightful place in the world.”

For the uninitiated, Chestnut is America’s leading competitive eater and best hope of dethroning foreign interloper Takeru Kobayashi from the Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest, uh, throne.

Earlier this year, Chestnut set a new world record by consuming an amazing 59 1/2 hot dogs in just 12 minutes. "I'd say that it just happened, but that wouldn't be the truth. It was the product of years of intense training." Chestnut has been eating competitively since 2005, when his stomach burst onto the scene with a dominating victory in an asparagus-eating competition.

Competitive eating fan Alexander Pope, who has attended every Nathan's contest since 1744, weighed in on the issue: "Chestnut has the potential to be bigger than Michael Jordan! The magnitude of this competition really can't be overstated - everything else just shrinks in comparison. This rivalry, between Jaws (the eating community's nickname for Chestnut) and Kobayashi, makes you realize how really unimportant things like literacy and mathematical skill are. Why would anyone want to read, when they could be learning how to shove an entire hot dog, with bun, into their mouth?"

"I feel like my entire life has been leading up to this moment," says Chestnut. "I'm proud to be representing my country in such an important matter. It's like I'm the ambassador to the Soviets, like I'm Thomas Jefferson and Neville Chamberlain put together, out to demand Napoleon's unconditional surrender at Versailles. I just hope I can do as good a job as they did."

01 July 2007

Yankees Captain Fed Up

Derek Jeter is mad as hell, and he isn’t going to take it anymore.

“I’ve had enough”, Jeter said to reporters Friday after leading the Yankees to a thrilling 7-0 loss over Oakland. “My leadership and talent have never been respected in this town, and things are even worse this year.”

Jeter, who contends too few fans are cheering for him as the soul propelling the Yankees’ dominant 37-40 season, went on to defend himself against his many critics. “Sure,” the self-proclaimed greatest of all time argued, “I’m only batting .335, but who really cares about batting average? It’s home runs the fans want to see, and that’s one area where I’ve always delivered. I’ve got 5 this year already, more than those punks Gehrig, Ruth, and Mantle combined. What have those guys done for the club in the last 30 years? Nothing. Meanwhile, I’m out here busting my hump everyday, and doing it literally for peanuts.

The infielder is currently working under an innovative contract negotiated by his agent, Scott Boras, that provides the slugger with all the sunflower seeds he can chew, all the boiled peanuts he can eat, and all the B-list movie stars he can date, along with a generous stipend. “It’s a good deal, sure,” said Boras, “absolutely pioneering. I predict that within ten years, all professional athletes will have similar contracts.”

Retired Yankees star Ron Guidry, interviewed while he wore a "Ron's Deli" sandwich board on the corner of River Avenue and 161st, had this to say: “Jeter’s an overpaid bum. The only part of that team that’s actually living up to its contracts is the pitching staff.”

“The problem,” the star shortstop responded, “is that our fans have gotten used to mediocrity. The Yankees have been so bad for so long, and management has always been so cheap, that when Steinbrenner finally opens up the checkbook and we’re absolutely dominating the AL East, you guys don’t even look up and realize it. I’m starting to wonder if New York can ever support a baseball team.”

Jonathan Swift, a fan passing by as reporters exited the Yankees clubhouse, shouted “Go Dodgers!” in the general direction of the Polo Grounds.