Where Are They Now? Crash Davis: Bull Durham

Bull Durham dope AFWhat were your glory days? The days when everything in your life was perfect and your life’s dream was fulfilled. How does one measure these days of bliss? In weeks? Months? Hours? For one man it was days, 21 days to be exact.

For 21 days life was perfect for Crash Davis. For those three weeks Davis, whose lifelong passion was the game of baseball was in the major leagues. Playing on emerald green diamonds in front of 40,000 fans under the lights of prime time. Then, just as quickly as his dream was realized, it was over.

Crash Davis is a legend, just not the one you hear about. In the pantheon of baseball lore the names of the greats like Ruth, Gehrig, Mayes, Aaron, Robinson, and C.Y. Young have become to american society super natural beings such as the gods and ancient heroes of Greece. For Davis, he is not one of these iconic figures, but rather a man whose journey could be appropriately described as a greek tragedy.

For 12 years Davis was a minor league player, the baseball purgatory where players are either trying to find a way to the majors, and veterans are desperately trying to claw their way back. Still, Crash’s legacy among the baseball misfits is considered the greatest. Davis was in the record books with 432 career minor league home runs the most in minor league history. A record that stood until August 2015 when Mike Hessman, another career minor leaguer, launched his 433rd home run toppling Crash’s record which stood for almost thirty years.

Despite his offensive records and his immeasurable gift for helping players in the minors he helped make the jump into the show, Davis just couldn’t crack the big leagues again. “I was always the player to be named later” Davis told me. “I knew how things worked and that I was just a piece that helped to finish a trade. The kinda guy that would help move their prized horses through the system, but not a guy who would help them in the bigs”.

Now years after hanging up his shin guards and catcher’s mitt, he is one again in baseball’s purgatory. Now the manager Mobile BayBears, the Double A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks, Crash is nurturing the next generation of baseball players.  Once again he is a leader of a team, this time just not squatting behind the plate.

Davis has helped players move through the system as a player. Now he is doing it as a manager.

Davis has helped players move through the system as a player. Now he is doing it as a manager.

“It’s a challenge but I help the guys I can. It’s tough though. There are guys like me who have the all the smarts but not the talent to make it, and the players with all the talent in the world but can’t hold a thought in their head.

After all my years I found that the ones who have a bit a of both usually make it. Baseball is cruel though because you do see the guys that god gave a thunderbolt arm and who piss their talent away squeak through with talent, while guys like me are screwed because they’re not talented enough despite knowing the actual game. But that’s just how it’s always worked”.

When I asked what he thinks is the most important thing that Davis can influence the guys in he says it’s all about their communication with the media.

“At this point you can tweak or put the finishing touches on guys but they are what they are. I tell them to give simple cliche answers when interviewed or on social media. It’s boring but their attitude on the field is not what people want to hear”.

Me: “What attitude do you mean Crash”?

Davis: ” You gotta be cocky and arrogant. Even when you’re getting killed out their you gotta play this game with fear and arrogance.”

Me: “You mean fear and ignorance”?

Davis: “No you hayseed. Arrogance. You gotta walk around like you’re the best goddamn player on the planet. You gotta fear that players and our own limitations, but when you step between those lines you let everyone know that your their best and you’re not intimidated by anyone”.

Like his playing career before Crash is helping countless minor leaguers get their chance to play under the bright lights of the major leagues. And like his playing days he is still waiting for the call that tells him he is back in the show. Still, when people talk about Crash Davis, or his name flows to the top of baseball conversation he won’t be known for what he could do as a major league manager.

Instead it’s his minor league odyssey. How he continued to take buses and live the grueling life of a minor league player even after he knew he had no chance to be back in the bigs. But for Crash it was never about the money, the fame, the glory, and even to play in the majors for a long time. Why did he play baseball? For the love of the game.

 

 

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Does Suspension Mark the End of Adrian Peterson Being the Best NFL Running Back

Will this suspension be the end of Peterson being an elite player?

Will this suspension be the end of Peterson being an elite player?

With the announcement that Minnesota Vikings star running back Adrian Peterson will be suspended for the rest of the season, the Vikings franchise is at a critical crossroad. With three years remaining on the 96 $Million Deal that Peterson received in  2011, the Vikings will owe 13$ million to Peterson next year. However, if the team cuts him before the season it would only put a 2.4 $ Million cap penalty on the team in 2015.  While it may seem inconceivable that even after everything that has occurred this season that the Vikings would get rid of their franchise player, it’s time to move on.

Running backs are always tricky in the NFL. one season they can go from Pro Bowl players to the next an offensive hinderance. Minnesota could try to move Peterson for some draft picks, but with a 13$million dollar cap hit in 2015, the off the field issues, and the fact that he won’t play for almost a full season will make it almost impossible to move Peterson for a decent return. Instead, the Vikings should look to rebuild around their young quarterback in Teddy Bridgewater and continue to build around the strong young nucleus of players on the roster.

Let’s face it, sometimes it’s better to get rid of a player one year early rather than a year too late. Peterson may have taken off almost the entire season, which some will view as a rest period for the running, but he’s still had plenty of wear on his tires. He’s already passed the 2,000 carry mark in his career, a barometer many coaches around the NFL view as the peak of a running back’s career and after that milestone many  running backs are on the downside of their career. Peterson will also turn 30 in March, another infamous landmark for NFL backs that indicates the beginning of decline.

Peterson's day in court might have been the final straw in Minnesota

Peterson’s day in court might have been the final straw in Minnesota

Can Peterson still be effective? Of course, but it’s unfair to assume that he will be the great runner he has been. Peterson can not handle the load or be the sole focal point of an offense. Where Peterson will play in 2015 is still a distant thought but it will be interesting to see if he is on a new team, what role will he play?

As for the Vikings, this is not a total loss. They still have a young developing quarterback and will have more than 10 $Million under the cap if they release Peterson. Let’s not forget that despite his greatness Peterson has only one playoff win as a Viking with three playoff losses. Unfortunately, running backs can get a team to the post season, but in today’s NFL a team needs a quarterback to win in the playoffs. So for the Minnesota Vikings, it’s time to move on from Peterson. Even if he still has a good year or two left in the tank, the team needs to prepare for the long-term because they are not a Super Bowl contender.

 

ELIte? Manning not an Elite Quarterback?

Eli Manning an elite quarterback? I’m not buying it.Eli-Manning-Manning-Face-Hall-Of-Fame-Game Throughout his career Manning has always flirted with the elite status bouncing from Super Bowl hero to an interception machine. Entering his eleventh season in the NFL it is safe to say that Eli Manning is not an elite quarterback.

For the Giants fans who are most certainly screaming at the top of their lungs that this is blasphemy there are many reasons that Eli is not an elite quarterback. However, he is still a very good quarterback and probably a top ten quarterback in this league. This is why he is not an elite quarterback.

Most critics would argue that the two Super Bowl rings that Manning has accumulated is proof that he is an elite quarterback. Well, not exactly. True it is one more ring then his brother Peyton, who is clearly the more talented of the two, but this is misleading.

In 2011 there is no question that Eli carried that Giants team to the Super Bowl and played a superb game against the Patriots. Even in 2007 he did have a good postseason. The problem? The Giants defense carried them throughout those playoffs and in the Super Bowl. Let’s not forget that the Giants’ defense allowed only 14 points to a Patriots offense which, before this years Broncos, had scored the most points in a season. If the Giants didn’t beat the Patriots when the defense held Brady and company to 14 points you don’t think Eli would have been run out-of-town?

Another reason why Eli is not elite is he is one of the streakiest quarterbacks I have ever seen. He’s either on or off, nowhere in between. Just look at his postseason career. In his two Super Bowl runs Manning threw 15 touchdowns to 2 interceptions. His other postseason starts have been disasters. Not only are the Giants one and down in those playoffs but Manning has only 2 touchdowns to 5 interceptions.

When we think of elite quarterbacks they are consistent. We all know what to expect out of elite signal callers like Peyton Manning, Rodgers, Brees, and Brady ever season. Eli is either great or terrible. Last season was the third time in his career where he led the NFL in interceptions. Put it this way, Geno Smith threw less interceptions as a rookie with less talent around him then Eli Manning with a better team and who has played in the NFL over ten years. I’m sorry, but elite players don’t lead the league in mistakes three times.

Manning still is a capable quarterback. He still is a great quarterback in the fourth quarter and two-minute drill. Also, when he is on he is one of the best in the game. Unfortunately for Manning, the Giants offense is rebuilding and he does;t have the pieces to be a contender. Unless Eli can finish his career strong and with some consistency, he will never be considered an elite NFL quarterback.

Tebow Comeback? Which NFL Team Should Take a Shot?

 

Tim Tebow is getting ready for another attempt to play in the NFL. The lightning rod for criticism will once again try to prove that he is indeed an NFL player as he continues to workout in hopes of a call from an NFL franchise. The 26-year-old still remains adamant that he will play quarterback and refuses to change positions. There is no question that the circus that follows Tebow wherever he seemingly travels will make it difficult for a team to give Tebow a chance. It’s hard to win with distractions in the NFL and like it or not Tim Tebow is a major distraction. However, there is one NFL team that should seriously consider bringing in Tebowmania.

After surveying the NFL landscape I found one landing spot that would be a great match for both Tebow and the team. No, it’s not Jacksonville but they are in the same division. What about the Houston Texans?video-working-out-with-tim-tebow-vert

Not buying it huh? Let me explain. Houston has a major problem at quarterback. This year the Texans will go into the season with Ryan Fitzpatrick, Case Keenum, and rookie Tom Savage. And people wonder why Andre Johnson is upset with the Texans collection of quarterbacks.

The problem is that Savage and Keenum are both still very raw prospects who need another year or two to develop. They both have great upside and I really like their potential, but exposing them too soon could break their confidence heading forward. Fitzpatrick is a decent game manager, but that is about it. With a talented defense that could be a top unit in the NFL, a great rushing attack, and the weakest division in the NFL the Texans shouldn’t settle for an average signal caller like Fitzpatrick.

Instead they should go for broke and bring in Tebow. Fitzpatrick is already there to provide a solid backup plan in case the Tebow experiment fails. However, with his effect on the running game and ability to throw the ball deep Tebow would be a nice fit in the Texans offense. Tebow’s affect running the read option will help open holes for running back Arian Foster and allow Foster to have a big season.

Not only will his presence help the running game, but also with the speed the Texans receivers have Tebow only needs to hit a few deep throw a game to have success in Houston. With the weak conference they play in, Tebow could make the Texans a playoff team. We’ve seen this in Denver with a less talented defensive team and a running back that was not the same caliber as Arian Foster. With a better supporting cast and a ferocious drive to succeed Tim Tebow could be a successful quarterback with the Texans.

Granted, it would not be as a normal quarterback. Rather than using short throws to set up the deep ball, Tebow can use his legs and his supporting running game to set up the deep throws which he has greater success with. Would there be throws that will make any NFL fan cringe, yes, but Tebow could be the piece that gets Houston into the postseason.

How you ask? Despite his flaws there is one thing that Tebow is great at throughout his high school, college and professional career. Winning.

Give The Man His MOney: New York Jets working on extension for Muhammad Wilkerson

Time to lock up the best player on the Jets

Time to lock up the best player on the Jets

With training camp fast approaching, the New York Jets should cap off their busy offseason in both the draft and free agency by locking up their best player. As he enters the last year of his rookie deal, it is clear the Muhammad Wilkerson is the best player on the the New York Jets. The good news is that it has been reported that the Jets are looking to have an extension in place for their star defensive end by the beginning of the season.

The good news for the Jets is that they will have an easier time dealing with their best player on a contract during training camp. Wilkerson will get a fat check, but I do not see this turning into a Darrelle Revis saga, thank god. There is no question that Wilkerson is one of the best defensive players in football. A prototypical 3-4 defensive end who not only is one of the best at stuffing the run, but also getting after the quarterback. Wilkerson has also gain the admiration of his peers, he was voted #42 on the NFL’s Top 100 list by players around the league.

Wilkerson is a perfect fit in Ryan’s defense. He is an elite run stopper but continues to improve every year as a pass rusher. It’s a scary thought, but Wilkerson is still getting better.

In 2013 Wilkerson had 10.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, and 63 tackles. With Defensive Rookie of the Year Sheldon Richardson already on the defensive line, it’s time to lock Wilkerson up as the centerpiece for on the the best defensive lines in football.

He is the best player on the Jets and a new deal would prove to the Jets and their fans that they will be a force to be reckoned with for years to come. It’s time for John Idzik to put a cherry on the Jets offseason, and the cherry on top would be locking up Wilkerson for the future.

From Maddening to Madden

From Cover Corner to Coverman

From Cover Corner to Coverman

It’s official Richard Sherman will grace the cover of Madden 15. After weeks of fan voting, Sherman beat out Cam Newton to win the prestigious honor of Madden cover player. Madden curse? If anything Sherman would dismiss this and probably go in a rant about how the a sorry curse couldn’t beat him. After proving he was the best cover corner in the NFL and winning a Super Bowl Ring, this is just the cherry on top of an amazing year for the Seattle cornerback. Can Sherman beat the curse? Will he back this up too? How dominant will he be when I try to throw a go route against my buddy on Xbox One? We will have to wait till later this year to find out.