THOUGHTS ON BOB SHEPPARD’S FUNERAL, THE YANKEES, THE ALL-STAR GAME, LEBRON AND THE KNICKS

                                                                                       Kallas Remarks by Steve Kallas

BOB SHEPPARD’S FUNERAL

It was disappointing that no Yankee player went to Bob Sheppard’s funeral. A Yankee legend, Sheppard deserved better. But, as often happens, the after-the-fact comments made it even worse. For Derek Jeter, of all people, to go with “I didn’t know when the funeral was” and the old “there’s lots of ways to show respect for someone” besides going to a funeral was, to be kind, very weak. Once upon a time, and not very long ago, it was the ultimate sign of respect to go to a person’s funeral. Not so, apparently, in the 21st Century.

And Joe Girardi, not surprisingly, had to stick up for his player.

Are there lots of ways to show respect for a person who has passed on other than to go to his funeral? Absolutely. But the best way to show respect is to show up, to take time out of your busy day and to be there. But hey, maybe that’s just the old way of thinking.

THE YANKEES

Are the Yankees the best team in baseball? Of course they are. Does that mean that they will win the World Series? Well, not necessarily. Losing both Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui has been a disaster when compared to their replacements (see Kallas Remarks, 2/6/10). Nick Johnson was always injured and still is. Curtis Granderson has been injured and a disappointment. And that’s BEFORE we find out if these guys are able to hit in the clutch in the post-season, assuming they are healthy enough to even play in the post-season. While Robinson Cano has had an MVP season which has helped to camouflage the disappointment of Johnson and Granderson, you still won’t know how much Damon and Matsui are missed until the actual post-season. It says here that they will be missed greatly.

THE ALL-STAR GAME LINEUP

Joe Girardi got it all backwards at the All-Star game. Flip the starting lineup over and who would you take (leaving out DH Vlad Guerrero, who batted fifth):

Carl Crawford                                      Ichiro

Robinson Cano                                   Derek Jeter

Joe Mauer                                            Miguel Cabrera

Evan Longoria                                   Josh Hamilton

I would take the lineup on the left and they batted ninth, eighth, seventh and sixth, respectively, in Girardi’s All-Star lineup. Interesting, no?

And, should Stephen Strasburg have been an All-Star? Of course he should have. He was lights out again last night (six innings, no runs, four hits, seven strikeouts). Major league baseball and Charlie Manuel just didn’t get it. This kid brings the crowds like The Bird and Valenzuela did decades ago. And he’s probably better than both of them. Because of the five-day rotation and the refusal of teams to bring their stars up at the start of the season (for whatever reason), this kid can’t play in the All-Star game? Utterly preposterous.

And, by the way, there aren’t five pitchers in the major leagues who have better stuff than this kid (there may not be one, but I’m being cautious). The numbers are now 48.2 innings, 68 strikeouts, 36 hits, 2.03 ERA and a 4-2 record.

Baseball missed the boat, badly, on this one.

LEBRON DID WHAT’S BEST FOR HIM, BUT …

I just happened to be in beautiful Oberlin, Ohio, about 30 miles from Cleveland, when the fateful news of Lebron’s “decision” hit the state like a thunderbolt. And, literally, at least in Oberlin, there was thunder, lightning and rain shortly after that “decision.”  A number of people that I saw right after the “decision” was announced really were upset, some even angry and bitter.  

But from a winning championships perspective, Lebron did the right thing. And, under normal circumstances, leaving $30 million on the table would be saluted (whatever you think of Lebron, remember, when some idiot says it’s ALWAYS about the money, just say Lebron to him and shut him up). But, once again, it’s the after-the-fact that makes things really bad.

Lebron didn’t call anyone from any team right before the “decision.” He owed, at least, the Cavaliers a personal phone call. In his own words, he didn’t call anyone. He wanted the night to be “about me” (you can’t make this stuff up). Clearly he had no clue and no advisors with a clue to explain things to him. And the one-hour “Decision” show was comical. Stan Van Gundy got it right when he said, essentially, that it was a fifteen second statement – what else could they do for the rest of the hour. Well …, nothing.

While it’s obvious that people will hate him forever in Cleveland, Lebron, whether he knows it or not (and he probably doesn’t even care), now has everybody else rooting against him. It was terrible for his image and that will be hurt for awhile, maybe forever. But he can never climb to “the next level” without championships and this is the best way to get them. The absurd coming out party in Miami was just another sign of the times; shouldn’t these guys win SOMETHING before they have the celebration?

And who would have thought that Chris Bosh, of all people, was the most influential of free agents? If he had decided to go to Cleveland (according to reports, he just didn’t want to play there), the landscape would have been totally different. Either Wade would have joined them in Cleveland or the Cavaliers would have made a real run with Lebron and Bosh. Frankly, Lebron probably didn’t want to wind up like Patrick Ewing, tilting at the Michael Jordan windmill (and, briefly, the Hakeem Olajuwon windmill) with little or no help – and no titles (See Kallas Remarks, 9/6/08)

And, as often has happened, the guy in the corner with the Cheshire cat grin was none other than Pat Riley, who may, over time, be considered one of the greatest Presidents/GMs of all time. Some, like this writer, already think that he’s one of the greatest coaches of all-time (see Kallas Remarks, 4/30/08).

WHERE DOES THAT LEAVE THE KNICKS?

Frankly, nowhere. With the addition of Amar’e Stoudemire, are the Knicks a better team? Yes, but so what? Knick fans are looking for a championship, not a competitive win-one-round-if-they-are-lucky team. It really was an all-or-nothing thing. The Knicks needed two superstars: one (or two, if possible) from Column A (Lebron and Wade) and one from Column B (Joe Johnson, Bosh, Stoudemire, etc.).

One from Column B just won’t cut it.

Plus, with the loss of David Lee, the Knicks improvement isn’t as great. Frankly, Lee has turned into a very good NBA player. The two knocks on him have always been that he can’t defend and he can’t get his own shot. While he still isn’t a good on-the-ball defender, he is certainly an excellent rebounder and a better-than-you-think team defender.

And if you watched him this past year and didn’t realize that he now, in many situations (including end-of-game situations), can get his own shot, then you haven’t been watching with an open mind. He’s a very good NBA player, a walking double-double, and will be missed at the Garden.

The Knicks came up woefully short in free agency. Can they get a Carmelo next season? A Chris Paul? We will just have to wait and see. But the improvement you see this season won’t be enough if it’s a championship that the long-suffering Knick fan is waiting for.

They probably will be waiting for a very long time.

© Copyright 2010 by Steve Kallas.  All rights reserved.

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