Tuesday, March 08, 2005

The Big Hurt Is Healthy...And Happy?



On Monday Frank Thomas made his annual "Hello, I'm here so now spring training can officially start" entrance to White Sox camp. Of course, this meant several things:

1) He was late.
2) He was talkative.
3) Most of the Chicago sports sections ran with photos of Thomas holding court surrounded by a throng of reporters anxious to get caught up in all things Frank.
4) His contract situation was discussed, which is more predictable than an Anna Nicole Smith meltdown.
5) He's still really big.

This happens every year. Thomas arrives late to spring training and everyone walks on eggshells as his mood of choice is anticipated. More often than not, he arrives surly and full of opinions, most of which center on a contract he inevitably feels is unfair and outdated. Or perhaps he has a problem with the present manager. Or his eggs were runny at breakfast. It's always something.

The point is, Thomas is one notoriously unhappy guy, and he's more than willing to let the world know, as he often does, particularly immediately upon his arrival at spring training. And the the world (i.e., Chicago fans and media) blasts him for it. And then a big ball of hate festers and manifests itself as drunken brawlers in the Cellular Field bleachers. This has become an annual occurence right up there with Christmas, taxes, and Peyton Manning choke jobs. Thomas has made putting one's foot into one's mouth an art form.

So it was nice to hear that Thomas arrived in camp not only seemingly happy, but in better shape than expected as he attempts to return from last season's season-ending ankle injury.

The Sox may have overhauled themselves from a home run-dependent club into an outfit based on speed, defense, and added pitching depth, but as long as Thomas is on the roster, the Sox will somehow always be "his" team. He'll always be the center of attention, and the face of the franchise.

So a happy Frank is a necessary Frank.

So far so good.

**********



The Sun-Times Mike Kiley writes that Joe Borowski may reclaim his spot as the Cubs closer. Hmm. Borowski: a 33-year old one-year wonder who physically collapsed last season amid rumors of steroid abuse. I can't say I feel overly optimistic about this possibility.

**********



The strange, and often annoying, saga of Eddy Curry continues.

Continuing his habit of feeling overly and unfairly maligned, Curry expressed dismay over his lack of playing time in the second halves of games. He then had a private meeting with Scott Skiles and the rest of the Bulls coaching staff. And, allegedly, everything has been worked out amicably.

Well, good. Glad to hear it.

There are three ways of looking at this:

1) Curry needs to stay quiet.

Perhaps if Curry used his 7-foot frame to grab a decent amount of rebounds, played better defense, and wasn't a turnover machine, he'd be on the court when it mattered most. If Skiles feels Curry is a liability during crunch time, he surely has his reasons for it. It's not like Skiles wouldn't play Curry if he thought it would give the Bulls their best chance at victory.

2) Curry has a point. He needs to play in the fourth quarter.

In actuality, I tend to lean in this direction. For the past several weeks I've been frustrated during the fourth quarter of Bulls games as I've awaited appearances by Curry that rarely come, if at all.

Does Curry have his weaknesses? Definitely. However, he's a 7-footer who can score. This is a rarity. And Curry won't learn much about crunch time by continually sitting it out. At some point, you would hope that Curry is as effective in the fourth quarter as he is in the first halves of many games. For this to happen, he'll first have to find his way onto the court during crunch time, even if it's in a trial-by-fire scenario.

3) The Bulls are aiming to limit Curry's productivity as he's in a contract year. Smaller numbers, not to mention meltdowns expressed through the media, would surely keep his price tag down. But this possibility is way too sinister for me to comprehend. Nah, couldn't be.

Perhaps this is all a mental game being played by Skiles. Perhaps he's letting Curry simmer on the bench until his psyche reaches a suitable boil. It certainly seemed to work in last night's win over the Bucks in which Curry played the entire third quarter and the final 6:39 of the fourth and seemed very into it. An excited Curry can be a devastating Curry.

Normally, I'd be all over Curry for his latest grumblings about being unhappy and feeling unfairly treated. God knows I've been on his case in the past. This time, however, I'll give him a pass and chalk it up to his desire to be a factor when it matters most. Nothing wrong with that.

**********



DaMarcus Beasely, Carlos Bocanegra, Ante Razov...

Add Damani Ralp to the list of Fire players who have left to test their games in Europe, with the exception of Razov, who was traded to Colombus. While it's nice to see them get their chance in the big time atmosphere of the European leagues, it sure is making it hard on Fire fans. What was once one of MLS's most successful franchises is deep in rebuilding mode, or at least it would appear that way.

On the other hand, I've driven past the site of the Fire's new stadium and construction is underway. Exciting.

**********



In Champions League action this afternoon, Chelsea defeated Barceona 4-2 to advance to the quarterfinals on aggregate 5-4. (If anyone wants an explanation of the Champions League, or wants to know what "aggregate" means, just ask.) Chelsea captain John Terry scored the goal on a header that proved to put the Blues through, and allowed Chelsea coach Jose Mourinho to look very smug, which he seems to love to do. In what was one of the better soccer matches you'll ever see, I was left with one question: Does Terry cut his own hair in the dark while drunk? Jesus, what's up with that mess on his head?

**********



It didn't take long, did it? Chris Webber is already complaining in Philly about playing time and differing "philosophies." Webber and Sixers coach Jim O'Brien had a meeting to "clear the air." Again with the meetings! I love how NBAers have these meetings. How does one of these meetings go?

Coach: "I'd really like to work this out. You seem unhappy. What can we do to ease this situation."

Player: "Shut the fuck up! Do you know who I am? I have a shoe commercial!"

Coach: "Well, certainly that attitude won't resolve anything. Perhaps we..."

Player: 'I said shut the fuck up! I didn't appreciate the way you pulled me out in the fourth quarter last night."

Coach: "But you fouled out. I was only..."

Player: "Tell it to my agent. I'm outta here after this season."

Coach: "Yes, but for the time being..."

Player: "Our philosophies ain't jiving, man! That's it! I'm doggin' it!"


The disease known as "justdoesnotgetititis" continues to infect the NBA. And what's up with this "philosophy" crap? Here's a philosophy for Webber: Shut the fuck up and put the ball in the basket.

Truth be told, I was worried when the Sixers acquired Webber. I didn't like the way they suddenly looked formidable in an extremely top-heavy Eastern Conference. But now? Now I'm just looking forward to watching Webber implode in front of the notoriously harsh Philly fans.

**********



Are you lonely? Perhaps you can drop $20 bucks to talk to Leon Spinks or Larry Holmes, among other celebrities. As soon as Mike Tyson gets in on this deal, I'm all for it.

2 Comments:

Blogger Jackie Chiles said...

I recall reading an article in SI on Thomas many years ago. The lasting impression I got was that his was a big gigantic baby. From your post, seems that's certainly the case. Considering his production has fallen off so dramatically, I'm surprised Chicago even still deals with his routine.

As for Webber, I'm totally with you. Not only can't I wait to see his punk ass get it from the Philly Fans, but I can't wait till AI and all his Blacktop Pride turns on that whiny little bitch. That's some serious oil and water right there.

11:44 PM  
Blogger UnknownColumn said...

Frank is Frank. He likes to whine. But I wouldn't say his production has dropped off, or at least not that much. He's put up good numbers consistently and was putting up good numbers last year when he got hurt. And he has openly called for steroids testing throughout his career. Honestly, if steroids were never an issue, Thomas could arguably be the best hitter of this era. He was passed up statistically by guys like Bonds and Sosa when they were juicing and putting up Nintendo numbers.

Iverson is arguably the coolest mofo in the NBA, and Webber possibly the least likeable. And Webber says their "philosophies" don't mix. If I'm not mistaken, Iverson had his usual 33 points last night and Webber had eight. Nice of Webber to show up.

1:02 PM  

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