So I woke up today with Red Sox fans Ã¢â‚¬â€œ and everyone else Ã¢â‚¬â€œ treating Nomar Garciaparra like some conquering war hero because the guy came back to retire with the Red Sox. I just donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t get it. I understand there are some players that fan bases just come to love unconditionally, and thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s no doubt he put up big numbers there, but if I were a Boston fan, thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s no question I would still have a bad taste in my mouth from the way things ended up.
Now donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t get this twisted, I actually very much respect Derek Jeter. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s an excellent baseball player, keeps his name off Page 6, does a lot of charity work and has a work ethic I admire.
But Jeter as Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year? Either it was a slow year, or that Ã¢â‚¬Å“awardÃ¢â‚¬Â is a sham.
And it wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t a slow year.
Two days after Mike PiazzaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s inspirational home run, the NFL resumed its games as well. Before the Dolphins played the Raiders, quarterback Jay Fiedler, who IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve always been partial to Ã¢â‚¬â€œ we Jews have to stick together Ã¢â‚¬â€œ led the team onto the field while waving an American Flag that had recently been flown in Afghanistan.
Fiedler was a capable but unflashy quarterback whose best attribute was his toughness. But on that day, he was a true champion, even before what he did on the field.
That said, he performed brilliantly. Fiedler, with no time left, made a gutsy dash up the middle and crashed into the end zone to score the winning touchdown of an 18-15 victory over a team that would play in the Super Bowl that season. Though a solid athlete — in fact, a former decathlete — Fiedler was no speed demon, but like Piazza, he wouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t let his team lose that day after such an emotionally charged beginning.
And through his act of sheer athleticism and joyousness, Mr. Fiedler ended up with his first and only Sports Illustrated cover.
I remember the Piazza game more vividly, particularly since I was there, and because it was in New York and had a lot more significance as such. But I remember FiedlerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s mad dash as well, and if that’s the main thing you take from his career, that isn’t such a bad thing to hang his hat on.
Fresh off this site proclaiming him the "Baseball LeBron" — the highest praise we can offer — Joe Mauer played on Sunday night in the TwinsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ extra-inning loss to the Rangers and had the first 0-for-6 game of his career. He also lost the AL batting lead to Ichiro Suzuki (.363), dropping to a pitiful .358.
Then Monday night, Mauer had a routine night off and collected a pinch-hit single, but his team blew a 12-2 second-inning lead to the AÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s and lost, 14-13, on a horrendous call at home plate in the ninth.
Now, the last thing we want to do in the early stages of SportsAngle Version II is to get a reputation like those Madden video games and Sports Illustrated have. (Is it any wonder that SI is struggling big-time right now?)
Look, letÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s just consider this a huge coincidence. MauerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s having an awesome season, and heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s still going to cash in big-time sometime in the next two years, so itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not like we could have destroyed him like the Madden Curse does. Besides, he was on the cover of SI just a couple of weeks ago, so if he totally drops off the face of the earth, I think we can just blame them.
So if we find thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s something to this Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Lance Armstrong falls off his bike tomorrow or something like that Ã¢â‚¬â€œ we may have to go back on hiatus for the greater good of todayÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s athletes.
Or even better, weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll limit ourselves to coverage on guys we donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t like Ã¢â‚¬â€œ like Shane Victorino.