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Just Off-Camera

"They respect you if you write. The dumber the world gets, the more the words matter." -Dan Jenkins


Sunday, February 15, 2004

Shock And Aw, Man...

There's nothing like a spark from the hot stove to bring me back from the late-night mumblings that comprised my last column. This was more than a spark, though. A spark is the Phillies signing Tim Worrell - nice, but certainly not earth-shattering. Yesterday's news falls more under the category of high-voltage shock than spark.

If the reports are true - and they're more likely to be true than similar reports from a month ago - then Alex Rodriguez, the best player in baseball, looks like he'll be suiting up for a team other than the Texas Rangers. Earlier this offseason, it looked like A-Rod was going to be shipped to the Red Sox in an elaborate three or four-team deal. But that trade fell through, primarily because A-Rod's salary was just so monstrous that the parties involved couldn't restructure his contract to make the deal work.

The next act of this production should have been obvious, in hindsight. There's a certain baseball team for which money has never been an object. If the Rangers were so eager to dump A-Rod and the $22 million he's supposed to make this season (not to mention future seasons), shouldn't we have seen this coming?

Of course the Yankees would get involved. Only the Yankees would be willing to take on a salary like A-Rod's. I guess the reason this wasn't already a foregone conclusion was because the Yanks obviously have Derek Jeter at shortstop. But now, with Aaron Boone's injury leaving a hole at third, apparently A-Rod is willing to man the hot corner for the Bombers.

That'll be interesting to see how it plays out. Anyone remember A-Rod's only other stint at third? It was the first inning of Cal Ripken's last All-Star Game, when A-Rod started at third to allow Ripken to take one last start at short. So A-Rod has never been a third baseman for real, but I can't see that being too much of a liability when you have his bat in the lineup. It's a tradeoff I'd make.

The Rangers are reportedly getting Alfonso Soriano and a prospect in return, so the Rangers aren't exactly getting stiffed on this deal, either. I guess because of that I can't be too pissed at the Yankees for this deal - they're killing themselves on baseball's luxury tax, and they're giving up arguably the best second baseman in the league as well.

This doesn't fall under the category of "Yankees moves that piss me off," because that heading is usually reserved for their July acquisitions of pinch hitters who make $8 mil a year or free agent signings that nobody else can afford.

All I have to say here is that I'm glad I'm not a Red Sox fan. They must be really stewed over coming that close to landing A-Rod, only to see him go to their dreaded rivals. This must be how Zack Morris felt when Kelly Kapowski started going out with that Jeff dude on "Saved By The Bell." Who was he, anyway?

Anyway, it's always good for baseball to stir things up with a shocking trade now and then.

***

Speaking of shocking, I got to watch the Cornell-Penn game on YES last night, live from Cornell's Newman Arena (which really looked like a high school gym on TV). You know those foam, "we're number one" fingers?" Well, I've seen variations with a middle finger extended, or a West Coast gang sign, but some fan in the front row was waving a foam hand with all fingers but the ring extended. Classy impression to display when the basketball team finally gets some air time.

Fortunately for him, nobody was paying attention, because Cornell played some atrocious ball, especially in the first half. Check out these numbers from the first 20 minutes: 4 assists, 12 turnovers, outrebounded 22-13, 8-25 shooting, and 1-6 from 3-point range. Eric Taylor managed no points and six turnovers in eight minutes of action. That fiasco resulted in a 44-20 halftime score, so the Red was out of it from that point on.

They lost the game 79-52, but at least Ka'Ron Barnes played lights out in the second half. I'd call him the best baller in the Ivy League. He's just a solid athlete, and if his supporting cast had given him some help, the Red might have even pulled it out. Barnes had 22 points and 5 of the team's 7 assists on the evening.

The good news from the Cornell sporting world is that the hockey team pulled another win out of the hat, scoring in the third period to beat Yale, 2-1. That's a four-point weekend for the Red, which keeps them in the thick of the race for a first-round bye in the ECAC. The top four teams get one, and currently, Cornell's sitting in a tie for third. Let's go Red!

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