Archive for December, 2010

On December 23rd, after a little over six months at the helm, Rafa Benitez agreed to part ways with Inter Milan.  I’m not a fan of Inter but they did the right thing by getting rid of Benitez.  Inter is currently in seventh place in the standing, thirteen points behind leaders Milan, unacceptable.  That’s not reason enough to get rid of him.  He deserved to go because upon winning the FIFA Club World Cup he decided to give the owner an ultimatum.  He told Massimo Moratti that either the club back him with new signings or they should consider whether or not they wanted to keep him in charge.  Inter chose the latter and they decided that his services were no longer needed.

That didn't last long

Where does Benitez get off making these demands?  Did he not realize that this team has won the last four scudetti (the fifth one was handed to them)?  Did Benitez also forget that Inter just came off a season where they also won the Champions League and Coppa Italia?  Does this sound like a team that needs new signings?  Jose Mourinho was able to get this team to them top so why couldn’t Benitez make it work?  Hell, if Roberto Mancini can win a Scudetto, anyone can.  This team has five titles in the span of one year (Serie A, Coppa Italia, Supercoppa Italiana, Champions League and FIFA Club World Cup) but the players weren’t good enough for Rafa Benitez.

Proof anyone can win a Scudetto

Inter has 34 player on the roster.  How do you not win with the likes of Julio Cesar, Javier Zanetti, Lucio, Maicon, Cristian Chivu, Dejan Stankovic, Wesley Sneijder, Sulley Muntari, Esteban Cambiasso, Samuel Eto’o, Diego Milito and Goran Pandev?  Throw in youngsters Jonathan Biabiany (France), Philippe Coutinho (Brazil), and Davide Santon (Italy) and thats a pretty good team.  That’s only fifteen of the thirty-four players on this team.  Too bad Benitez had no use for Mario Balotelli (Manchester City) and Victor Obinna (West Ham), they could have really helped out this team.

Balotelli would've looked good in an Inter uniform....oh, wait

Who did he think he was going to sign?  I know the names of Dirk Kuyt, Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard were being thrown around in the summer but why should Inter have to pay that much money to improve a team that has won so much in recent years?  Why couldn’t Rafa Benitez make do with what he had?

Sure, Rafa Benitez won a Champions League with Liverpool in 2005, an FA Cup in 2006, and two La Liga titles but what has he done lately?  That sounds harsh but in today’s game you have to win now.  Unless you’re Sir Alex  Ferguson, Arsene Wenger or Jose Mourinho, what you’ve done in the past doesn’t mean a thing now.  Benitez left Liverpool in ruins and wanted to change Inter in his own image.  Rafa Benitez might have been able to talk Gillett and Hicks into buying every player he wanted but Massimo Moratti doesn’t work that way.  You don’t tell Massimo Moratti what to do.  He does what he wants to do.  Benitez didn’t understand that and it cost him his job.

Massimo Moratti

Do you know who I am?

Where does Rafa Benitez go from here?  His name has enough cache that he’ll be in the running for some major jobs but teams will also be leery of giving him too much authority after seeing what he did with Liverpool and his actions at Inter.  There’s talk of Liverpool being interested in Benitez but that probably just talk.  No way the new owners of Liverpool hand the reins back to the guy who ruined it in the first place.  Roy Hodgson won’t make it through the season as the Liverpool coach but I seriously doubt we’ll ever see Benitez there again.  He’d be better off going back to La Liga and trying to find a team to wrestle the league away from Barcelona and Real Madrid.

I thank Inter for giving him a shot because AC Milan was able to take advantage of his poor showing and find its way atop Serie A.  Thanks for the memories Rafa, we hardly knew ya.

This was a long time ago Rafa

“Don’t feel entitled to anything you didn’t sweat and struggle for.”   -Marian Wright Edelman

I’m not one of those people who think athletes, as a whole, deserve this or that but there are some instances where I believe some athletes are entitled to a certain career.  Joe Montana should have been a 49er for life.  Michael Jordan should never have had to put on that ridiculous Wizards jersey.  Ray Borque should have won a championship with the Boston Bruins and not have to do with it the Colorado Avalanche.  Can you imagine if back in the late 1950’s the Boston Red Sox had decided that Ted Williams was past his prime and maybe he should ply his trade elsewhere?  After all, he only hit .254 in 1959.  That’s not very Splendid Splinter like and it was the lowest batting average for the career .344 hitter.  Instead, Ted Williams came back and retired on his own terms and, more importantly, retired as a Red Sox player.

 

This never should have happened

This brings me to Derek Jeter.  Am I a Yankee fan?  No, but I’m not a hater either.  I seem to be in the minority that thinks that Jeter deserves to be a Yankee as long as he wants.  Derek Jeter grew up a Yankee fan and his goal early in life was to be a Yankee.  He worked hard and achieved his dream.  He debuted in 1995, won rookie of the year in 1996, won five World Series, an All-Star MVP, a World Series MVP and five Gold Gloves.  I’ll talk more about Jeter’s most recent Gold Glove later.

Derek Jeter has become a New York icon.  He OWNS the Big Apple.  He’s the damn captain of the New York Yankees but the Yankees want to play hardball with his contract negotiations.  He’s been such a huge part of this franchise that he deserves, nay, is entitled to stick around as long as he wants.  It’s not like, at 36, he’s washed up.  Sure, he doesn’t have many good years left but he does have something left in the tank.

The sign says it all

His demands of somewhere around $25 million a year for five years is a bit steep.  Jeter’s agent denies these demands.  The Yankees are offering $15 million a year for three years.  The Yankees offer seems more reasonable given Derek Jeter’s age but their differences shouldn’t be dragged out in the media.  The Yankees told Jeter to test the market and see what’s out there.  How dare you?  Whatever the Yankees and Jeter are doing should be kept behind closed doors.

Then again, this is not The Boss’ Yankees anymore.  As much of a hard-ass George Steinbrenner was, I doubt he would allow this to be played out in the media.  Why all the sudden are the Yankees worried about spending money?  This is the same team that game Jason Giambi $120 million over seven years and Carl Pavano a four-year $40 million dollar deal.  Why is money so important now, and with a legend and future Hall of Famer, Derek Jeter?  Hopefully the Yankees and Jeter can come to terms and find a number they both can agree on.

On to the most recent Gold Glove won by the Yankee captain.  The Bearded One and The SandRant both derided the decision to bestow a fifth Gold Glove on Jeter as, “a joke”.  Why is it such a stretch?  Derek Jeter only had six errors in 2010.  Those six errors are the lowest in his fifteen full seasons.  Those six errors are also the lowest of any American League shortstop.  His .989 fielding percentage was also the lowest of any everyday American League shortstop.  Only two American League shortstops were involved in more double plays than Jeter.  Those players are Alexei Ramirez of the Chicago White Sox and Cliff Pennington of the Oakland A’s.  That’s nice but Ramirez had twenty errors and a .974 fielding percentage.  Pennington had twenty-five errors and a .966 fielding percentage.

 

He can still get it done in the field

I have a feeling the major argument anyone will make has to do with range.  Yes, there are eight AL shortstops that have a higher range factor than Jeter but how much stock should we take in this number?  Most of the shortstops above Derek Jeter in range have double-digit errors.  You definitely want a shortstop with range but let’s not get too excited about it.  How many of those extra chances a player gets by having range ends up in the stands?  Sure, getting to that ball might save an extra base hit or a run here or there but I imagine that gets cancelled out with an errant throw that allows player to advance.  Maybe Cesar Izturis of the Baltimore Orioles deserved a closer look for the Gold Glove but to totally discount Jeter is the real joke.

Besides those stats, here are some other stats you might be interested in.  Here’s a list of Derek Jeter’s girlfriends over the years.

Mariah Carey (before she became a cow)

Miss Universe Lara Dutta

Joy Enriquez

Jordana Brewster

Venessa Minnillo

Jessica Biel

Minka Kelly

Jessica Alba

Scarlett Johansson

Gabrielle Union

Vida Guerra

Rachel Uchitel (Tiger Woods knows her too)

Adriana Lima

Yankees, pay the man!