NEW YORK, N.Y.- In most cases, the cover-up is worse than the crime. In the case of Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred’s discussion about the Houston Astros cheating scandal, the explanation was worse than the punishment. Manfred amazingly has upset basically everyone involved in the sport of baseball despite issuing a punishment almost as severe as he possibly could have issued given the circumstances he was working with. The punishments, including a season-long suspension of both general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager AJ Hinch on top of a five million dollar fine and the forfeiture of first and second round picks in the 2020 and 2021 drafts, weren’t a slap on the wrist. But his reasoning for these punishments in the numerous times he’s spoken since have only infuriated players and fans while minimizing the actual punishments.
The commissioner spoke two separate times last Sunday, and it had the feel that he was working crisis management exclusively for the scorned Astros franchise instead of siding with the other 29 organizations who are distraught, frustrated and angered by the cheating the 2017 World Series champions committed. When the punishments were first released in January, it felt that Major League Baseball had levied a punishment about as harsh as possible considering the circumstances. Yet the more Manfred speaks, the less significant the punishments seem.
Both gaffes occurred when Manfred was talking with ESPN’s Karl Ravech, as the first foot-in-mouth moment came when he was asked why the Astros players weren’t suspended for cheating. He could have justified his decision to not punish the players involved by citing the immunity he granted in favor of getting to the bottom of the entire scheme. Instead, Manfred’s explanation was that the public’s outrage was enough of a punishment.
“I think if you watch the players, watch their faces when they have to deal with this issue publicly, they have paid a price,” Manfred said. “To think they’re skipping down the road into spring training, happy, that’s just a mischaracterization of where we are.”
This is where the disconnect comes in. Thinking that public displeasure towards the Astros is enough of a punishment is just not being in tune with reality. People want accountability. People want the players involved to be held responsible. Hearing a few extra boos or questions about the cheating won’t satisfy a majority of those passionate about the sport, but Manfred is forgetting he didn’t have many options to begin with.
The tough part for the commissioner’s office in conducting this investigation was that they were left with two options, neither of which would have satisfied everyone. Their first option was to do what they did, which was grant players immunity from punishment in return for honest and truthful testimony about when the cheating occurred, how it was executed and who participated. Giving the players a get out of jail free card was the only way to truly get to the bottom of how the entire scheme operated, which in the long run will help in preventing this type of cheating from happening again.
The other option was to interview Mike Fiers, take what he said as the gospel and hand down punishments based on his testimony. No Houston player was knowingly going to admit to cheating or provide details that would implicate their teammates. So Manfred would have had to go off of the only player who was willing to go on the record and dole out suspensions that he seemed to fit the crime.
Manfred chose the option that fits society’s mentality and served to improve the game’s long-term health. We as a society pride ourselves on being a “woke culture,” that is always being aware of what is happening around us and never just accepting a reasoning without digging into it more. The immunity granted by Manfred allowed the details to emerge, helping to truly inform the public about how the sign-stealing was devised and executed. This information also allows the league to put parameters in place to prevent further cheating from ruining the game. The issue here isn’t that Manfred valued information over justice, but it’s that his definition of justice doesn’t jive with the public’s definition.
In that same interview with ESPN, Manfred made another comment that really made many players hot. The question was simple. Ravech asked about the potential of stripping the Astros of the 2017 World Series. Manfred’s response was as short as it was damaging.
“The idea of an asterisk or asking for a piece of metal back seems like a futile act,” said Manfred in response to the question.
It’s like the commissioner took the same PR advice as Astros owner Jim Crane, as every answer seemed to undermine his punishment. These answers aren’t hard. Stripping titles has little to no effect. Just ask the NCAA as they desperately try to punish schools by stripping titles and vacating wins that do little in terms of real consequence. Everyone still remembers Louisville winning the 2013 basketball national championship, USC’s 2004 football national title and Reggie Bush’s Heisman Trophy. Stripping titles and taking banners down do little to wipe away the memory of watching those teams and players accomplish greatness. So Manfred is right when he says stripping the Astros of their World Series would be futile. Except he bungled the delivery and completely lost control of the message.
It’s frustrating to see Major League Baseball continually shoot themselves in the foot and only dig a deeper hole to get out of. With weeks to map out an explanation and defense of the punishments, first the Astros and then the commissioner looked totally off guard and ill-prepared for the questions they received. Unfortunately for the game, this entire cheating scandal has blown up in their face and taken the attention away from the Astros and placed it squarely on the sport’s leader. Rarely do words speak louder than actions. The commissioner accomplished that feat to the dismay of baseball fans everywhere.
Kobe Bryant was born on August 23rd 1978 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Son of former NBA player Joe “jellybean” Bryant. Kobe was named after a town in Japan. Ironically Kobe is known for its marbled beef and amazing scenic views of mountains framing the harbor. Don’t see why it’s ironic? Good. Enjoy where I’m taking this.
“I heard the ball bouncing. No lights were on. Practice was at about 11, it was probably about 9, 9:30. And I go out to the court and I look, and there’s Kobe Bryant. He’s out there shooting in the dark. And I stood there for probably about ten seconds, and I said, ‘This kid is gonna be great.'”
Before the start of the 1999-2000 season the Lakers and Jerry West would add their 3rd and final piece to the next NBA Dynasty. Head Coach, and zen master Phil Jackson. In Phil’s first year with Shaq and Kobe the Lakers would win the first of 3 NBA finals. 2000,2001,2002 Kobe added 3 rings to his resume. Another quick pivot here, because during this run is when tensions and hostility really grow between Shaq and Bryant. During 2000-2001 after winning the NBA Championship Shaq would come into camp out of shape. Due to this, and my biggest gripe against the whole “Shaq carried Kobe” argument, the triangle was now really a Kobe ran system. So much so that Shaq asked for a trade after Kobe dropped 38 points on Phoenix and Shaq contributed only 18. They would repeat. Tensions would diminish slightly the following year as Bryant and Jackson both suffered losses in their personal life. Also the country would be tested as a whole following September 11th 2001. Making LA forget their drama and focus on the job at hand. There’s the 3 peat. And that would be the last for Shaq and Kobe. However they would return to the NBA finals in 2004 with Shaq, Karl Malone and Gary Payton. They would be upset by the Detroit Pistons, and before long the Lakers dominance would end. And would go from the Shaq and Kobe era, and enter a Mamba.
Why? Why’s it so important? Well for those of you who know Bryant, it’s what turned him into the next phase. After being painted as a villain. And numerous outlets reporting his lack of warmth towards teammates. Kobe would look to study and analyze anything to be a better basketball player. For example, Kobe’s midrange game. This is how brilliant of a mind we are talking about. This man, this cerebral brilliant obsessed man, studied Cheetahs hunting to improve his fade-away jumper. Phillip Galanes, New York Times interview with Bryant was told how Bryant figures this out. “When you watch me shoot my fadeaway jumper, you’ll notice my leg is always extended. I had problems making that shot in the past. It’s tough. So one day I’m watching the Discovery Channel and see a cheetah hunting. When the cheetah runs, its tail always gives it balance, even if it’s cutting a sharp angle. And that’s when I was like: My leg could be the tail, right?” Amazing. But this would spark a deeper passion. And one that would change the NBA, and well frankly the world, forever. Kobe after watching Quentin Tarantino’s “Kill Bill” Kobe was interested in a code name. In an article with the New Yorker Kobe explained why he would create this persona. “The name just evokes such a negative emotion,” Bryant would tell the magazine. “I said, ‘If I create this alter ego, so now when I play this is what’s coming out of your mouth, it separates the personal stuff, right?’ You’re not watching David Banner — you’re watching the Hulk.” To follow up this segment Kobe was with friend Ahmad Rashad and would give the most Kobe-like quote yet. “When I step on that court, I become that. I am that killer snake. I’m stone cold, man.” So what type of mindset was he using? What ego did he adapt? Why’s it game changing? Because Mamba Mentality would change the league forever.
On January 22,2006 Kobe showed the Mamba Mentality to the purest form. He would also drop the most memorable scoring performance of the century. Kobe would drop 81 points against the Toronto Raptors. He was 28-46. 60%…60% from the field and 7-13 from 3pt range. He would also drop 62 against the Dallas Mavericks on December 20th 2005. Why’s that impressive? He didn’t play the 4th Quarter!! Kobe would average 35.4 points per game in the 05-06 season, and 31.6 in 06-07. The following season 2007-08 Bryant would go on to win his first Most Valuable Player Award. However during this time Bryant would also ask the Los Angeles Lakers for a trade. Kobe wanted to be traded to the Chicago Bulls. Bryant was growing frustrated dragging teams with Kwame Brown, Smush Parker and company to the playoffs and being eliminated fairly early. During this time, Spurs, led by Gregg Popovich, Tim Duncan, Manu Ginòbili and Tony Parker would be a power house in the western conference. The Phoenix Suns would also become dominant led by 2x MVP and eventual teammate of Kobe, Steve Nash, would lead an upbeat offense that would take the league by storm. Nash, was not along either. Amar’e Stoudemire, Shawn Marion, and Leandro Barbosa would also battle with Kobe. The Utah Jazz and Dallas Mavericks would also emerge as a team built well for postseason play as well. Jazz led by Andrei Kirilenko, with young upcoming guard Deron Williams, with Carlos Boozer Paul Millsap and Laker alum Derek Fisher. Dallas would be led by future Finals MVP Dirk Nowitzki with Jason “the Jet” Terry, Jerry Stackhouse and Erik Dampier. So Kobe wanted out to be on a building team after he felt the Lakers grew complacent. There was a trade in place with the Detroit Pistons, Kobe would head to Detroit, Richard “Rip” Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince and draft picks would go to the Lakers. Kobe said no, I gave you a list of teams I want to go to, Detroit was not that team. A Bulls trade never emerged as Chicago did not want to include a package involving Luol Deng. So what resolves the issue. The mamba would get his next co-star. A 7-foot Spanish forward from the Memphis Grizzlies, Pau Gasol.
Kobe would return faster than expected from this injury only a few months later to be sidelined again by a fractured kneecap. Kobe would return and monitor his minutes as he planned to retire. In typical Kobe fashion he went out on top. Kobe in his final game, dropped 60..yes..60 points. Mamba mentality on full display.
Chase Young to the Falcons? Why Atlanta should give up a huge haul and why the Redskins should take it on.
highly-touted prospects of any position in recent memory. Similarly to Nick Bosa last year,
Chase Young is a prospect that has that “can’t miss” label on him. While I don’t think he will be
as good as Nick Bosa, his skills and athleticism are phenomenal where it will be very difficult to
pass up. With the Bengals likely taking Joe Burrow #1 overall in this year’s NFL Draft, the
Redskins would be the next team that would ideally take Chase Young. However, looking at the
way the Redskins are constructed right now, do they really need him? The Redskins defense,
especially in the front 7, already has a lot of talent that, outside of Ryan Kerrigan, is young.
Meanwhile, the Redskins offense, outside of Terry McLaurin and a couple offensive linemen,
has significant question marks everywhere, which is something one draft won’t be able to solve.
This is why I think the Redskins should trade the pick and try to get a haul back, because I think
they can when it comes to a player of Chase Young’s caliber, or possibly a quarterback as well.
A team that can afford to give that haul that desperately needs pass rushing help and not much
else? The Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons roster is Top 5 in football right now probably only
needing some corner depth, running back depth, and outside linebacker if they lose De’Vondre
Campbell to free agency. But the one thing they need badly is pass rush, losing Vic Beasley and
Adrian Clayborn who both had bad years, and Takk McKinley being injury prone. With them not
needing much else, they can afford to give up the large amount of draft capital needed to jump
from 16 to 2, which will take multiple 1st and 2nd round picks. But for the Falcons, I think it is
worth it, and all the Redskins need on offense, taking on that draft capital would be well worth it
for them. Here is why it would benefit both teams.
they have a hard time holding onto them, from Claude Humphrey to Patrick Kerney to John
Abraham, and now recently Vic Beasley, who the Falcons will no longer be pursuing contract
negotiations with. Within the last century and even in the 1990s, they have been one of the
better player development franchises at pretty much every other position, from Deion Sanders
to Jamal Anderson to Keith Brooking to Julio Jones. Yet when it comes to pass rushers they
never seem to get it right, and that is a big reason why they haven’t gone further in the playoffs
than they should, and a big reason why they didn’t win Super Bowl 51, in addition to bad
defensive play calling getting too conservative too early against a Patriots team that doesn’t like
to throw the ball deep. Sorry Kyle Shanahan bashers, no NFL defense should never allow 25
points in 18 minutes. Chase Young would provide the rest of that defense the outside pass
rushing leverage they need to fuel the rest of that defense, with already talented linebackers in
Deion Jones and DeVondre Campbell, and a good secondary when healthy in Desmond
Trufant, Keanu Neal, Ricardo Allen, and a promising young and well-rounded corner in Isaiah
Oliver. It will also help Takk McKinley flourish as a 2nd option outside pass rusher, because 3
years have shown he probably isn’t a first option, which Chase Young can develop into pretty
instantly with the skillset he had in college rushing the passer and stopping the run in so many
different ways. With Young alongside Grady Jarrett and a decent back end defense, the Falcons
should be able to flourish with a top end offense that they already have, and that kind of
production allowed them to make it to a Super Bowl 4 years ago that they should have won if it
wasn’t for Dan Quinn and Richard Smith playing Cover 3 and Cover 4 defenses midway through
the 3rd quarter thinking their 28-3 lead was safe. A good pass rush helps them hold leads like
that, and what better of a current draft prospect to do that than Chase Young? Also, when it
comes to the Falcons, they are already cash-strapped as it is, with just $6.1 million in salary
cap, so it will be hard for them to add a top free agent pass rusher. That only makes it more
valuable to add somebody home grown, young, and controllable, and when it comes to the draft
capital involved, which will take multiple first round picks, second round picks, and possibly third
round picks, it is worth it for the Falcons.
accumulate in this draft to help give support to Dwayne Haskins and Terry McLaurin, who has
already blossomed in his first season given as bad of circumstances offensively as you can get.
With already having good young front 7 talent in Jonathan Allen, Da’Ron Payne, Ryan
Anderson, and Montez Sweat, Chase Young would only just improve a strength for them while
leaving offensive areas extremely weak, which is something they can improve on with this draft.
Between skill players and offensive line depth, the Redskins should profit on a lot of it within the
first two rounds, especially with the Falcons getting a second round pick from the Patriots for
Mohamed Sanu. When it comes to this draft, receiving talent they can get includes Colorado
receiver Labiska Shenault (who I like a lot), TCU receiver Jalen Reagor, and Clemson receiver
Tee Higgins, all of which will most likely available at Pick 16 if they were to trade back with the
Falcons. If they wanted to trade up, this potential trade would give the Redskins extra 2nd and
3rd round picks, which could help them jump back into the Top 10 if they wanted somebody like
Jerry Jeudy or CeeDee Lamb. When it comes to running backs, there will be a lot of good ones,
including DeAndre Swift, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Jonathan Taylor, and even guys you can get
in the second round, such as Cam Akers and Zack Moss. As for top offensive tackles, there is
good depth throughout the first round, with Georgia’s Andrew Thomas, Iowa’s Tristan Wirfs,
Alabama’s Jedrick Wills (I don’t like him as much but he still is getting a first round grade),
Louisville’s Mekhi Becton, and Auburn’s Prince Tega Wanogho. A combination of 5 or 6 of those
players makes the Redskins offense, despite being young, something they can build on, with
already established offensive linemen in Morgan Moses and Brandon Scherff, as well as a
running back that is talented when healthy in Derrius Guice. Outside of McLaurin, Dwayne
Haskins doesn’t have much else that is consistently trustworthy to work with, and one player
won’t solve that either. The Redskins need the draft capital to create an offense with several
different weapons to work with, as they did in the spread offense era with Joe Gibbs throughout
the 1980s and 1990s. One pick at #2, in terms of this draft, while it could potentially be a great
player, won’t solve that issue in a spread offense NFL as well as make it significantly easier for
a young quarterback that has had his issues at the professional level in Dwayne Haskins.