Quick Shots for Sunday, Dec. 28.
The Yankees have spent $423 million this winter, but they may not have improved all that much. And they’ve actually cut salary. CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira and A.J. Burnett will make an average of $64.5 million a year in the Bronx. That’s after the Yankees shaved $88.5 million off their books.
But the Yankees also cut talent. Sabathia and Burnett were a combined 15 games over .500 last year. Mike Mussina was 11 over. Teixeira had 33 home runs and 121 RBIs. Bobby Abreu and Jason Giambi combined for 52 and 196. So the Yankees gained four games in pitching but lost 19 HRs and 75 RBIs. That’s no guarantee that a third-place team will make it back to the playoffs. Especially when so many key players are growing old: Mariano Rivera (39), Jorge Posada (37), Johnny Damon (35) and Derek Jeter (34).
Give the Steinbrenners credit: The Yankees paid the entire $800 million in construction costs for their new $1.2 billion stadium and also kicked $110 million back to the kitty in revenue sharing and luxury tax payments this year. The Brewers, who paid for only $90 million of their $400 million Miller Park, have no right to complain it's not a “fair fight.”
Equal, but not equal
Rex Grossman (70.2) and Kyle Orton (70.0) have nearly identical career passer ratings, but Orton is about eight points better if you throw out their rookie seasons (77.4 to 69.8). Orton has clearly grown since his rookie year (59.7). Grossman has not. The biggest difference in the mediocre duo, though, is that Orton gets better at the end of games while Grossman gets worse.
Innocent because they’re guilty
Pat Williams and Kevin Williams told the NFL they should not be suspended because they took a league-banned diuretic to earn $400,000 bonuses for meeting a weight clause, not to mask steroid use. Yet the Minneapolis Star Tribune, which saw the players’ letter to the NFL, also wrote the letter stated they could not use diuretics to meet the clause. In other words, they’re claiming they tried to cheat their team, not the league.
Jets are West Coast flops
Brett Favre can’t play in the cold anymore. Nor can he go west. East coast NFL teams are 10-1 on the West Coast this year. Except for the Jets, who are 0-4 with Favre and Co. on coast-to-coast trips, against teams that are 15-41 against everyone else.
The SEC is dominating college football more than ever. The Big Ten can use academics as an excuse. And has used it. The Wall Street Journal reports that only three SEC schools rank among the top 80 universities in U.S. News & World Report’s 2009 rankings, while all 11 members of the Big Ten were in the top 80. Last year, commissioner Jim Delany wrote on the Big Ten Web site: “I love speed and the SEC has great speed ... but there are appropriate balances when mixing academics and athletics.”
Sounds good. Except The Wall Street Journal reports that Florida, which could win its second national title in three years if it beats Oklahoma, was one of those three SEC schools in the top 80. And all three played in bowl games this year.
Matt Trowbridge’s Quick Shots on Sports appear Sundays. He can be reached at (815) 987-1383 or firstname.lastname@example.org.