Giancarlo Stanton, the Miami Marlins, and a $325 million apology

Giancarlo Stanton - (Image: Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
Giancarlo Stanton – (Image: Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

The Miami Marlins agreed to terms with Giancarlo Stanton on a $325 million, 13-year contract, it’s the most lucrative deal for an American athlete in history. The deal averages out to $25 million per season, a no-trade clause, and an opt out for Stanton after six years.

Stanton is the real deal, 25 years old, and arguably Major League Baseball’s most feared hitter. He doesn’t just hit home runs, he hits them far. Stanton has more 450-foot home runs than any player in baseball over the last five seasons.

Signing Stanton to such a lucrative deal puts Miami at the top of the baseball headlines. The Marlins have drawn criticism for how the team’s ownership has handled payroll in the past. They splurged on big-money free agents a couple of years ago, hoping it would help fill their new state of the art ballpark that the public helped pay for. They then changed course after one bad season by slashing payroll so aggressively it turned their fan base against them.

Miami needs Giancarlo Stanton to continue launching baseballs far beyond the fences of Marlins Park. Signing Stanton to a long-term deal is just as much about business off the field for the Marlins as it is on it. It’s another high-priced apology by a team to its fan base, $325 million to be exact.

Stanton can’t be blamed for taking Miami’s money, Major League Baseball does this every year it seems. Alex Rodriguez, Robinson Cano, Miguel Cabrera, Albert Pujols — all of these players have received  big-money deals from teams obsessed with capitalizing on the present, however gambling on the future.

In Stanton’s case, his 2014 season ended abruptly on September 11th when he was hit in the face by a pitch. It can’t be ignored the possibility of Stanton seeing that as a reminder of how fragile a professional athlete’s career can be, it can be over in one play.

There’s also the opt-out clause in the deal for Stanton, he’ll be entering his 30’s around that time. If the Marlins are not holding up their end of a the deal as far as fielding a competitive team, Stanton can always look to take his talents away from South Beach to another team with deep pockets, perhaps the Yankees.

While many will debate if Stanton’s worth the money, or if the Marlins will surround him with enough talent to compete in the years going forward, both sides have agreed to this deal for reasons far beyond just baseball.

Anthony Rushing | @AnthonyRushing_

 

 

Calvin Pryor, the New York Jets, opportunity, and the things that motivate us

Calvin Pryor - (Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
Calvin Pryor – (Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

2014 hasn’t been the rookie season Calvin Pryor was hoping for. The first-round pick of the New York Jets has not played up to expectations, the Jets are a 2-8 team, and Pryor has now been demoted from his starting safety position.

Pryor’s poor play isn’t the primary reason the Jets are 2-8 this season, however it’s arguable the reasons behind his demotion shed light on some of the things that have gone wrong with them.

There were reports of Pryor missing multiple team meetings this season (Patra, Nov. 10), apparently it all came to a head this past weekend when Jets head coach Rex Ryan decided enough was enough. Pryor played only 13 snaps on Sunday against the Steelers, all on special teams.

Pryor’s response to being benched was one of admission and realization (Walder, Nov,12). He realizes when it comes to the expectations placed upon a hard-hitting, first-round draft pick out of Louisville, he hasn’t held up his end of the deal.

“I haven’t been playing the way I should,” Pryor said Tuesday. “That’s something I have to look at myself and tell myself and just go do better.” “Got a little chip on my shoulder right now. Kind of my back is against the wall,”

His back’s against the wall alright.

Pryor not only lost his starting job this past weekend, his replacement, Jaiquawn Jarrett went out against the Steelers and picked up two interceptions along with a sack. Pryor’s mistakes and poor judgement created an opportunity that Jarrett is taking full advantage of.

Sometimes it takes the strangest of events to motivate us into fixing what went wrong along the way. Pryor will have to work hard to regain his starting job, he’s a first-round draft pick so I wouldn’t count him out. However, he’ll need to use that chip on his shoulder to help navigate him through the first major crossroads of his professional career.

Anthony Rushing | @AnthonyRushing_

 

 

Trouble in Brooklyn? Nets’ Joe Johnson rips teammates for ‘selfish’ play

Joe Johnson - (Alex Goodlett/Getty Images )
Joe Johnson – (Alex Goodlett/Getty Images )

Joe Johnson leads the Brooklyn Nets in field goal attempts with an average of 16 per game. The Nets are 4-2 to start the season with a top-five offense, however the normally quiet Johnson apparently isn’t pleased.

Before taking off for a three-game road trip out west, Johnson voiced his concern on what he feels has been selfish play on the offensive side of the ball by the Nets (The Brooklyn Game, Nov 11).

“It’s just- as individuals, as players, (we have to) have each other’s backs out there,” Johnson vented to the media after the team’s Tuesday afternoon practice. “I just felt, I didn’t believe it. I go back, and I watch the tape, and I watch film just to try to get a different perspective, and I mean, my feelings haven’t changed.”

“It’s just kind of what it is. Defensively, we help from time to time, offensively, I just think guys kind of exhaust their options and then when there’s nothing else for them, then they’ll pass it when they have to. For the most part, we’ve been very selfish…”

“I’m not hiding anything,” Johnson vented after the team’s practice Tuesday. “We’re 4-2 six games into the season, but it’s early. We haven’t played anybody, and the Minnesota game (is) obviously a game we should’ve won. I thought this last game that we played against Orlando was almost a carbon copy.”

Johnson has been a key reason as to why Brooklyn is off to a 4-2 start this season, he leads the team in scoring, averaging 19.8 per game. The timing of his comments seem odd along with the fact that he’s normally very quiet when it comes to these type of things.

Whatever it is that caused Johnson to speak up publicly, it has to be something worth keeping an eye on as the season progresses for Brooklyn.

Anthony Rushing | @AnthonyRushing

 

 

Michael Cuddyer on decision to sign with the Mets: “It really wasn’t about the money”

Michael Cuddyer - (Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Michael Cuddyer – (Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

They always say it’s not about the money.

Newly signed outfielder Michael Cuddyer turned down a $15.3 million qualifying offer from the Colorado Rockies to head east and play for the New York Mets. Cuddyer noted his desire to contend for a team on the east coast, as a primary reason he’s packing his bags and saying goodbye to Colorado.

Cuddyer agreed to a two-year, $21 million deal with the Mets, however he wanted to set the record straight on how much the money factored into his decision (Rubin, Nov 11th).

“It really wasn’t about the money,” Cuddyer said Tuesday, a day after passing a physical. “As hard as it is for some to believe, it’s not always about the money. And this was one of those cases. I think just the excitement of being able to come to the East, come play for the Mets, that was the biggest attraction. You get to the point that I’m at in my career, that’s the thing that’s important: One, to win. And wanting to be closer to home. Both of those issues were nailed in this signing, for me at least.”

Cuddyer’s close friendship with Mets’ team captain David Wright has also been reported to have played a major role in his decision. They both grew up in the Norfolk, Virginia, area and have maintained a close friendship over the years.

In my column for CitySportsReport.com, I note the Cuddyer signing as being a clear indication of how serious the Mets are about contending in 2015.

Cuddyer isn’t the cure for everything wrong with the Mets offensively, however he’s a step in the right direction. General manager Sandy Alderson wanted to address the need for another quality bat in the lineup and he wasted no time in doing so on someone who clearly wants to play for his team.

Anthony Rushing | @AnthonyRushing

 

 

Leadership from the top is lacking with the New York Giants

Tom Coughin - (Image: Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Tom Coughlin – (Image: Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Ten weeks into the NFL season, the New York Giants are 3-6, heading nowhere fast. The narrative has been the same now for the past few weeks with the Giants, no passion and no heart. Injuries are an easy fallback for an excuse as to why the Giants have played so poorly. However, there also comes a time for accountability. That’s become no more evident than after how awful the Giants looked this past Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks.

Injuries have robbed the Giants of their depth this season, they don’t have the talent to keep up with the league’s top teams for four quarters. What can’t be ignored about Sunday’s loss to Seattle was the way their defense was dominated.

The Seahawks ran the football down the Giants throat, rushing for a franchise record of 350 yards. It’s one thing to allow Marshawn Lynch to go beast mode for 140 yards and four touchdowns, however it’s unacceptable to have that along with quarterback Russell Wilson run for another 107 yards with a touchdown. The Seahawks averaged 5.2 yards a carry rushing the football through their first 8 games of the season, they ran to the tune of 8.2 yards against the Giants on Sunday. (ESPN New York, Nov. 9th)

The Giants defense couldn’t stop a nosebleed on Sunday.

Antrel Rolle, Jason-Pierre-Paul are the Giants defensive leaders, they have said all the right things this season as for why the Giants are where they are. However, this is beyond them. No NFL team should run for that many yards (that easily) against your defense. It’s no longer about the Giants not having the players, it’s now about leadership on the next level, the coaches.

Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell has to be held accountable for not having his defense prepared for Seattle.  The Giants are last in the NFL in defense, that’s not all on the players, it’s also a matter of game planning and adjustments.

Winning two Super Bowls has camouflaged a great deal that’s wrong with this team. The debate can be made that head coach Tom Coughlin’s message is no longer getting across with the players, maybe a new voice is needed. General manager Jerry Reese needs to also answer for the alarming inconsistency his teams have shown under his watch.

There is plenty wrong with the Giants that needs work after the season, addressing the leadership should be at the top of the list.

Anthony Rushing | @AnthonyRushing

 

 

 

The best apology Alex Rodriguez can give us is no more apologies

Alex Rodriguez - (Image: Michael Heiman/Getty Images)
Alex Rodriguez – (Image: Michael Heiman/Getty Images)

There’s nothing left for Alex Rodriguez except to just go out and play baseball. There’s no need to apologize again for his involvement with performance-enhancing drugs.Whatever credibility Rodriguez had remaining left a long time ago. When the New York Yankees take the field in 2015 with Rodriguez penciled into the lineup, he should just  be quiet and play the game.

Alex Rodriguez needs to ask himself this one question — was it worth it?

Rodriguez was recently reinstated to the Yankees’ active roster after serving a 162-game suspension. It didn’t take long for reports to surface again linking Rodriguez to PEDS. The Miami Herald  reported that Rodriguez admitted to the use of of performance-enhancing drugs during a meeting with the Drug Enforcement Agency in January.

Rodriguez was stopping for microphones, cameras, and anyone with a platform for him to stand on. He strongly denied any wrongdoing he was accused of. However, he was apparently hiding details of how he injected HGH into his stomach while also learning how to beat Major League Baseball’s urine test.

This all comes on the heels of a court-filing disclosure that Rodriguez paid his cousin Yuri Sucart nearly $1 million in exchange for Sucart’s silence regarding Rodriguez’s illegal PED use.

Rodriguez  put himself in this position. Nothing he’s ever said about his professional baseball career can be taken as truth. For all we know, he’s been cheating the game ever since his early playing days in Seattle.

The reality of it all is that he’ll still get to play baseball in 2015, and at the moment there isn’t anything the Yankees or Major League Baseball can do about it.

All the reports out now only confirm what the world already thought of Alex Rodriguez. He’s a liar and cheater, however, he’s also served his punishment already.

It’s not his  fault the Yankees owe him $61 million over the next three years. Like many of us, the Yankees drank the kool aid every time Rodriguez hit a baseball over the wall, bringing him closer to the all-time home run record. Now there stuck with a declining 40-year old third baseman who’s become a story for all the wrong reasons.

Nothing Rodriguez can say will make any of this better for him, the damage is done. Apologizing again will do nothing but further insult his peers and supporters. Rodriguez isn’t sorry for using PEDS or lying to the world about it, he’s sorry he was caught.

However, if Rodriguez truly wants to hear cheers again, if he truly wants to win the crowd —  he’ll go out there in 2015 and hit home runs. The case can be made the Yankees will take whatever they can get out of him until a better alternative comes around.

The very same game that’s contributed to the downfall of Rodriguez will also serve as his only method of redemption. His actions on the field are now all that matters, because his words off the field  to many will never matter again.

Anthony Rushing | @AnthonyRushing_