Friday, April 30, 2010

Eight Reasons to Dislike the Ryan Howard Contract

Ryan Howard is an excellent baseball player. Phillies fans should be thrilled that he will be with the club long term. Howard has led the league in RBI in three of the last four years. He plays huge in September, as well as being a fan favorite and one of the top home run hitters in the game.

However, giving a 5-year, $125 million contract to Ryan Howard may not work out for the Phillies.

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Defense

Howard is average at best with the glove. He works hard at it but by the end of this deal, he will certainly be a below average defensive first baseman.

Many think that a first baseman's defensive performance really does not matter that much. The Phillies must be among that group as Howard's range will be worse each year. On the plus side, Howard is a good receiver with good hands. He makes the plays on balls hit right at him.

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Strikeouts

Howard strikes out twice as often as he walks. This ratio will get worse. Aside from the double play, a strikeout is the worst possible outcome in a plate appearance.

A guy that can strike out in roughly two of seven plate appearances is not an elite player. As his power numbers decline even more, his huge strikeout numbers will be a liability.

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Lefties

Howard has always struggled against lefties. Check out his career numbers against left handed pitchers: .225/.308/.442. Ouch.

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Walks / OBP

Howard's walk rate is going in the wrong direction. He might draw less than 60 walks this year. Howard's OBP two years ago was .339. Last year it was .360. This year it's .308. His huge power numbers help but not for this kind of dough.

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Age

Howard is 30. Many a power hitter has seen his stats fall off as he gets into his 30s. Check out David Ortiz or Cecil Fielder for reference. Howard could be unique and find a way to keep his production up as he ages but it isn't likely. In the National League, he won't be able to hide at designated hitter either.

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Value

Good hitting first baseman are not exactly rare. Take a look at the 2009 season where 13 first basemen topped .900 OPS. Furthermore, as these guys become available in the coming years, the Yankees will not likely be in on the bidding. Paying a first baseman $25 million to produce a .900 OPS is unwise, to say the least.

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Risk

This contract has huge risk written all over it. What did the Phillies gain by committing this much money now? Were they afraid that in 2012 there would be a big demand for a one-dimensional power hitting first baseman in his early 30s? A less risky approach would have been to wait and see what kind of player Howard is going to be at 32 before throwing this kind of money at him.

In taking on this risk, one would think that the Phillies would get a discount, but that does not appear to be the case.

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Resources

Signing Howard is not an efficient use of the team's resources. They would have been better off keeping Cliff Lee. An ace pitcher has more value than an All-Star first baseman. Every team has a revenue limit. Paying Howard this much money restricts the money they can pay to other players.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Five Reasons Why Orlando Hudson's MLB Racism Claims May Be Wrong

Recently, Orlando Hudson of the Minnesota Twins leveled the claim that Jermaine Dye and Gary Sheffield are not playing for a major league team in 2010 because the owners are racists.

I can't get into the heads of each owner to know if Hudson is right or wrong. However, I have found five reasons why he might be wrong.

Now if in the next couple of years, guys like Carl Crawford, Prince Fielder, Brandon Phillips, and Justin Upton can't find work, Hudson's point may be legitimized.

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Jermaine Dye

"You see guys like Jermaine Dye without a job," Hudson told Yahoo!.

Here is why Jermaine Dye is not playing in 2010:

1. He had a very bad second half of 2009.

2. Dye no longer hits the ball hard to right field.

3. Dye's line-drive rate in 2009 was the lowest of career.

4. He would be the worst defensive right fielder in the majors.

5. He was offered jobs with (at least) Texas and Washington and turned them down.

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Gary Sheffield

"A guy like Gary Sheffield, a first-ballot Hall of Famer, can't get a job," Hudson told Yahoo!.

Hudson may be right that Sheffield will be "a first-ballot Hall of Famer." He has the numbers. He is only 311 hits away from 3,000.

Anyway, Sheffield is not in the big leagues now because:

1. He is old—Sheffield just turned 41 this winter.

2. He has often been linked to steroid use.

3. He isn't worth the trouble. The dude can still hit (.276/.372/.451 in 2009), but he sat out a game pouting because the team wouldn't extend his contract.

4. His defense is far from good (-12.7 UZR last year in 500 innings).

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The times are changing

Most everyone that follows baseball knows that young players generally are cheap while old players are expensive. Well, it seems that the owners have finally caught on.

The contracts given to guys like Alfonso Soriano, Milton Bradley, Gary Matthews Jr., Juan Pierre, and Jose Guillen are a thing of the past. Well, for now at least.

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The facts don't back it up

Reality bites. Apparently, the whole claim is not backed up by facts. Don't you hate when that happens?

According to this study, "black free agents were given more money ($3.72 million) per projected WAR (by CHONE) than any other race. If any group has a legitimate complaint, it's Hispanic players, who were compensated only $2.96 million per projected WAR."

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Dye and Sheffield are not alone

These white players have also had the same problems finding work:

1. Braden Looper won 14 games last season and hasn’t found a job yet.

2. Jarrod Washburn, like Dye, had a very good first half in 2009 but has no job now.

3. Jim Thome, like Sheffield, has first-ballot Hall of Famer stats but had to settle for a one-year, $1.5 million deal with the Minnesota Twins.

4. Jim Edmonds, despite punching up .235/.343/.479 in 2007, could not find a team interested in his services in 2008. He had to settle for a minor-league deal this year with the Milwaukee Brewers.

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Tiger Woods Commercial: What can we learn?

Opinions of the new Tiger Woods Nike commercial are all over the place. Many people are appalled. Many people think it is a breathtaking 30 second film of Tiger Woods today. Then again, many people don't care.

The objective here is to take a pragmatic approach to examining the commercial and answering all the questions. It won't be long before Tiger Woods gets his sponsors back, wins more majors, and resumes life with his family. Also, take a look this article about whether Tiger Woods is better than Jack Nicklaus.

Who should we feel sorry for?

1) Tiger Woods who just used his father's voice to sell Nike merchandise?
2) Tiger's Swedish model wife who has healthy kids and is sitting on half a billion dollars?
3) Tiger's fans who have not seen him play for a while?

Smart money says:
Tiger Woods' image which has taken a beating.

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When did Earl Woods record this?

1) When Earl Woods was talking about a time on the golf course when a young Tiger chose the wrong club?
2) When Earl Woods was talking to Tiger about blowing a tournament in the final few holes?
3) When Tiger was a youngster and got caught playing ding dong ditch on the neighbors?
4) Does it even matter?

Smart money says:
This clip was probably taken when Earl was explaining how he taught Tiger to play golf at a ridiculously high level.

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What does this commercial tell us?

1) That Tiger Woods is back?
2) That we need to give more attention to Tiger Woods?
3) That Tiger is a changed man?
4) That Tiger hears ghosts?

Smart money says:
A lot of people cashed in on this already...Tiger and Nike want their piece of the action.

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Was this commercial a mistake?

1) Yes, it’s a big mistake because people who were disappointed in Tiger Woods will become even more disappointed.
2) No, the visual is so amazing that you can't look away.
3) Maybe, but Tiger made the decision to do it and he knows what he is doing.

Smart money says:
Most people don't care either way.

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What should we learn from this commercial?

1) That Tiger is willing to profit from his situation?
2) That Tiger wants us to think differently and more kindly of him?
3) That he willingly exploited his dead father’s memory to make a little coin?
4) That Nike and Tiger Woods have made a groundbreaking, powerful commercial?

Smart money says:
We should immediately buy more Nike gear.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

MLB 2010: Should The Brewers Complain About Money Troubles?

New York Yankees president Randy Levine thinks that Milwaukee Brewers owner Mark Attanasio should stop complaining about the Brewers' money troubles. Listed below, are the points and counterpoints about whether Mr. Levine has a valid point:

Point: Yes, Randy Levine is right. The Yankees aren't breaking any rules.

Counterpoint: No, the rules are a joke. The players' union has taken over and made a farce of the game.

P: Teams that don't have the money just have to spend more wisely.

CP: That sounds easy enough. However, the Yankees will spend over $120 million more than the Brewers in salaries in 2010. That gives them a gigantic competitive advantage.

P: Perhaps the Brewers should spend all the revenue sharing money to improve the team.

CP: What are you suggesting?

P: They receive hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue sharing.

CP: There was over $400 million paid out in revenue sharing and luxury tax last year. That money is spread out over a lot teams.

P: Some bring in a lot of dough. For example, the Pirates made $40 million from that. Where does it all go? What do they spend it on?

CP: Of course, I don't have access to their accounting records but my guess is that it goes to player salaries and bonuses for draft picks, among other things. In the end, there isn't much impact on signing players. That money is reinvested on the team and they still fall short.

P: Sharing revenue lowers the incentives for each team to increase revenue at its own cost. The owners have transferred a billion dollars to a handful of uncompetitive teams over the years. I have a feeling it goes straight to the owners' pocket.

CP: I doubt that. The salaries and bonuses it pays for both have been driven up by teams like the Yankees.

P: The Yankees don't have any problem with revenue sharing. Through revenue sharing, the Yankees are helping build up the overall product of baseball.

CP: Oh yeah, they are real philanthropist bunch right there.

P: In some ways, yes. Baseball is not perfect and the Yankees benefit from the lack of a salary cap.

CP: They exploit the salary cap.

P: The Yankees provide great entertainment to baseball fans everywhere.

CP: So revenue sharing is simply the price the Yankees pay to maintain a giant competitive advantage?

P: Maybe that is true. Furthermore, by accepting handouts, the small-market teams forfeit their right to complain about the situation they are in.

CP: These complaints won't stop until the game is fixed. Even Yankees' fans don't think the system is fair.

P: The fact is that the small-market teams accept fat checks from other teams. They should focus on using that to help their teams and be grateful.

CP: The Yankees play in a market that is 10 times the size of the Brewers.

P: Cry me a river. The Yankees have a huge advantage in resources. Isn't that good for baseball since it makes it so much fun when the Yankees lose? It is good to have a big team for the little guys to beat. This makes the game so exciting when it happens. Think about the year the Marlins beat the Yankees in the World Series.

CP: Yeah, that was a great series. The Marlins had to get rid of many of their good players after that, though.

P: Another team will emerge to fill in that gap.

CP: Why can't the Yankees just try to compete on a level playing field? The other New York teams do.

P: Yeah, not in your lifetime.

CP: Maybe not but it can't be all that gratifying beating up on the little guys year after year. They would do a great service to the game if they pushed for a salary cap-and-floor system.

P: Even if they did, the players' union would stop it.

CP: It would solve all the problems.

P: I don't think so. A salary floor would cause many teams to suddenly have to overpay for veterans to reach it. A salary floor can raise the price of mediocre players.

CP: Yeah, but a salary cap would level the playing field.

P: A cap would lower the salaries for the big leaguers What about the minor leagues, though? How would minor league salaries and expenses be included in the salary cap?

CP: I'm sure that could be worked out.

P: The beauty of baseball is that a team that wins 81 games in a bad division has as much chance of winning the World Series as the big spenders.

CP: The Yankees are in the playoffs year after year. Mark Attanasio was simply stating how he wished he had it as easy as the Yankees. Is that so wrong?

P: Yeah, I think he should work harder.

CP: It looks like he'll have to.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

MLB: Should We Be As Outraged About Amphetamines As Steroids?

Listed below, are the points and counterpoints about if we should be as outraged about amphetamines as steroids:

Point: Yes, amphetamines are cheating just like steroids.

Counterpoint: No, steroids enhance performance while amphetamines enable performance. One makes you better while the other gets you on the field to play baseball.

P: Amphetamines do more than just get you on the field.

CP: If the players had never taken greenies, there would be no difference in performance. With steroids, the difference would be huge just like their muscles.

P: Amphetamines help you focus and concentrate. This would allow you to see the pitch better and make better contact. Seeing the ball better would help you drive the ball with authority.

CP: Steroids offer a big advantage over amphetamines. Just look at the record books. Between 1965 and 1990 season, 50 homers were topped only once, by George Foster in 1977. Between 1995 and 2002, 50 homers were topped 17 times, with a few 60 and 70 homer seasons thrown in for good measure.

P: You are just looking at one stat - home runs. You ignore many other factors that may have influenced this one variable. Every era has seen fluctuations in performance. You just take a few broken records and attribute them to steroids.

CP: Amphetamines clearly didn't have the same affect.

P: Well, between 1965 and 1990, Frank Robinson, Harmon Killebrew, Andre Dawson and Mark McGwire all hit 49 home runs. Willie Stargell, Mike Schmidt and Dave Kingman hit 48 home runs. You seem to think 50 is a magic number. Amphetamines have been helping players for years.

CP: Well, we don't have to use 50. Homers were way up across the board. We can use 48-49 homers to see this same thing. Between 1996 and 2002, players hit 48 or 49 homers 10 times. That would be good for more than had been hit between 1965 and 1990. That does not even include include the 17 times players hit 50+ homers over that span. You can't dispute that during those years, power numbers exploded throughout the majors.

P: Pitchers took steroids too. That balanced everything out.

CP: They sure did. that was actually one of the factors for the power surge. The harder the pitchers were able to throw, the further a batted ball will travel.

P: There were many factors for the home run explosion. The pitching was watered down, balls had more bounce, strike zones were increasingly smaller, ballparks were smaller, weight training had more emphasis, they had better bats, and they had better nutrition.

CP: None of those things helped players suddenly morph into muscle-bound mashers able to hit home runs that traveled 500 feet.

P: I admit that steroids helped many fly balls carry into the seats. It does not change the fact that amphetamine users are cheaters, too.

CP: A greenie back then isn't much different than Red Bull or 5 Hour Energy. All pro athletes take those nowadays.

P: There is a huge difference between Red Bull and amphetamines. Red Bull will give you a rush of energy. Greenies cause chemical changes in your brain. Regular use of amphetamines can cause you to get addicted.

CP: You should be careful like with any other drug.

P: If anything, amphetamines users should be looked at more harshly. They do not require any additional work for them to help you out. You pop a greenie and you are ready to go. With steroids, you have to work out to benefit. Taking steroids is the greatest evil ever but taking amphetamines isn’t really that big of a deal.

CP: People just don't care about amphetamines. The players look the same and there is no evidence that greenies improved performance.

P: They help them play more games and possibly steal more bases with the extra energy. If they didn't help with performance, the players would never use them.

CP: Players always will try to get an edge.

P: Let’s not forget that amphetamines are still around today. Barry Bonds failed an amphetamine test and there was very little coverage. Amphetamine users got a pass 40 years ago, and they’re getting a pass today.

CP: They aren't breaking any rules so it is all good.

Top Men's Tennis Player of the Open Era

The intention of this is to look at the top men's tennis players of all-time. One can make a great case for more than one player as the greatest of all-time.

The oldest player here is Jimmy Connors. It’s awfully hard to compare tennis players going back to the time of Laver and Emerson and Budge and all those guys.

Grand Slams are important. However, back in the 70s and 80s, the French and Australian Opens were not as important as Wimbledon and the US Open.

Winning is very important but there is a lot to be said for coming in second, too.

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Rafael Nadal
Points for:
-Has six grand slam titles and two runner-ups
-Nadal is one of only two male tennis players to own three grand slam titles on three different surfaces at the same time

Points against:
-His resume needs work as he only has the six titles
-Has yet to win a reach the finals at the US Open
-Nadal has injury struggles that may prevent him from more wins

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Boris Becker
Points for:
-Becker has six Grand Slam titles and four runner-ups
-Played in a record seven Wimbledon finals
-Incredible on grass and hard courts
-In 1985, he became the first unseeded player to win a Wimbledon title at 17 years old
-One of the first players to win points with a powerful service game

Points against:
-He never won a single clay court tournament but did make the semis at the French Open three times

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Stefan Edberg
Points for:
-Edberg has six Grand Slam titles and five runner-ups
-Played in a record 5 Australian Open finals
-Spectacular grass and hard court player

Points against:
-He lost in his only French Open Final to Michael Chang
-Did not dominate the game consistently

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John McEnroe
Points for:
-McEnroe has seven Grand Slam titles and four runner-ups
-Head to head, he had the edge on Jimmy Connors (31-20) and was even with Bjorn Borg (7-7)
-May go down as the greatest doubles player ever

Points against:
-He had a very short but brilliant peak but doesn't have the stats to match some of the others
-He never won a Grand Slam on clay but did reach the finals where he blew a two set and a break lead against Lendl
-Might have more titles but he rarely played in the Australian Open

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Mats Wilander
Points for:
-Wilander has seven Grand Slam titles and four runner-ups
-Has won at least two Grand Slams on grass, clay, and hard courts
-The most versatile of clay court players
-He won three Grand Slams in 1988

Points against:
-He never won at Wimbledon
-Banned for three months after testing positive for cocaine at the 1995 French Open

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Andre Agassi
Points for:
-Agassi has eight Grand Slam titles and seven runner-ups
-The only player ever to win the Career Golden Slam (Wimbledon, US Open,
Australian Open, French Open, and Olympics)

Points against:
-Only won the French and Wimbeldon once each
-Agassi seemed to disappear for times in the late '90s

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Ivan Lendl
Points for:
-Lendl has eight Grand Slam titles and 11 runner-ups
-He has the second most Grand Slam singles finals (19) in tennis history
-Lendl has eight consecutive US Open singles finals
-In another era, Lendl may have racked up more titles

Points against:
-Lendl never won at Wimbledon and lost in straight sets as runner-up twice
-Played in an era of great players at the top of their game like John McEnroe, Boris Becker, and Stefan Edberg

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Jimmy Connors
Points for:
-Connors has eight Grand Slam titles and seven runner-ups
-He won the U.S. Open a record five times on three different surfaces
-Jimmy Connors won more tournaments than any player in mens tennis history
-He has 1,241 singles victories which is the most all-time
-Except for one week, he was the No. 1-ranked player from July 1974 to July 1979

Points against:
-He never reached a French Open final
-He won on clay at the U.S Open in 1976 but it was a different clay surface than Paris

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Pete Sampras
Points for:
-Sampras has a second best 14 Grand Slam titles and four runner-ups
-Dominated at Wimbledon with a record seven wins and a 63-7 record for his career at Wimbledon
-Holds a record eight consecutive wins in Grand Slam finals
-Sampras was ranked No. 1 by the ATP for a record 286 weeks
-Regarded as the greatest grass court player of all-time

Points against:
-He never won a French Open and never reached the final of a French Open
-Besides Andre Agassi, Sampras didn't play against any of the greats, at least not while they were anywhere near their primes
-The least versatile of the tennis greats

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Bjorn Borg
Points for:
-Borg has 11 Grand Slam titles and five runner-ups
-He was great on all three surfaces—he did not ever win a U.S. Open but he reached four finals
-Won the Wimbledon Open era record of five straight titles
-He is the only player of the Open Era to have won Wimbledon and the French Open in the same season more than once and he did it three straight times
-His all-time leading win percentage in Grand Slams is 41 percent

Points against:
-He never won the U.S. Open
-Borg retired at 25
-Coulda Woulda Shoulda...if Borg had chosen to play in the Australian Open more often and not retired so young, he might have as many titles as Federer

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Roger Federer
Points for:
-Has 16 grand slam titles and six runner-ups
-One of only two players in tennis’ Open Era who have won the career grand slam
-Consistency-He has an even spread of wins across the 4 Grand Slam tournaments (4-1-5-6)
-Averaged more than one grand slam title per year
-One of only three men with at least five titles at two Grand Slams

Points against:
-He’s been consistently dominated on clay by one of his contemporaries (Nadal)
-The competition is not as good as what other greats faced...men's tennis in America has been practically non-existent during his entire run

WWE: Is the PG-Era Better Than the Attitude Era?

Point: Yes, the wrestling product in the WWE has improved significantly since the attitude era.

Counterpoint: No, the attitude era was better.

P: So, you agree that the wrestling has improved significantly?

CP: The attitude era was not known for its wrestling matches. That era was full of over-the-top characters talking and doing skits. They didn't wrestle much at all.

P: Exactly. I like to watch wrestling, and there is more pure wrestling now.

CP: But the characters now pale in comparison to the characters then. Guys like Sheamus, Miz, Rey Mysterio, or Hornswoggle just don't measure up to Brett Hart, Mick Foley, Stone Cold Steve Austin, or The Rock.

P: You are cherry-picking the big names from the attitude era. Also, many attitude era characters, like The Undertaker, Kane, Edge, and Shawn Michaels, are still around.

CP: Yeah, but they have toned those guys down. They are not like they were.

P: I don't know about that.

CP: They aren't creative anymore. There is no originality. Back then, the wrestlers would come up with their own promos. They had flexibility with their story lines. Now, the WWE has Hollywood script writers handing them lines.

P: Are you saying it comes off as phony?

CP: Yes, and another thing is the way they're pushing some of the younger guys. They don't have an edge to them anymore. They seem cookie-cutter.

P: Your criticisms are valid, but people still watch to see great wrestling, and that is better now.

CP: It is consistently better, but could you imagine seeing anything like the brutal match between The Undertaker and Mick Foley in their famous Hell in a Cell match in today's WWE?

P: I suppose not. Those thumb tacks had to hurt.

CP: You know it. Those guys took risks back then. Edge talked about this recently on RAW.

P: They did, but how long could that possibly last? Foley is still feeling the pain from that one.

CP: He might be, but there are always more guys that will do it.

P: The business model of having your top guys getting hurt all the time does not work.

CP: It seemed to then.

P: The new era wasn't brought on to irritate fans like you.

CP: It is all about money right?

P: Yes. The shift back to a safer, family-oriented show was out of necessity for the WWE's survival. They had all kinds of problems with drug and alcohol abuse among the wrestlers, steroid use and abuse, government scrutiny, and the media was out to crucify pro wrestling in general and the WWE in particular. Did you forget all that?

CP: Until now I did. I recall there were serious injuries as well.

P: This led to the big-money advertisers pulling out, which leads to closing shop.

CP: I don't buy that it would have had to be shut down.

P: It certainly wouldn't have the mass audience the WWE enjoys today. They rely on these guys to do more shows than ever.

CP: Sounds like you think it was all about money.

P: Duh. Also, having more kids attend shows, buying souvenirs and merchandise doesn't hurt.

CP: Of course.

P: The 1980s wrestling was similar to today. The attitude era was a result of the WWF adapting to the Monday Night Wars with WCW.

CP: So if TNA can pick up their game, perhaps the attitude era will return to the WWE?

P: Yes, when the WWE's ratings are threatened, the product will change. Also, The WWE fans have a very strong loyalty to Vince McMahon and the WWE. It would take a lot for them to consider watching anything but the WWE.

CP: Sounds like a long shot.

P: If you want more violence and blood, you can watch TNA.

CP: Yes, they have the blood but it isn't the as good as the WWE.

P: So you are just like all the other loyal WWE fans who complain but can't turn away?

CP: Yup, pretty much.

P: Do you need blood and head bashing to make it more fun to watch?

CP: Sometimes blood makes it realistic—like when you slam someone's head through a cage or hit them with a weapon. It isn't needed, but it adds intensity.

P: There are amazing wrestling matches without blood.

CP: Nothing gets the crowd excited like some blood.

P: The blood in wrestling matches got so out-of-hand in the 1990's that it lost all meaning. It became cartoonish. Fans came to expect bloodbaths in every match. The wrestlers were getting booed if they didn't bleed enough.

CP: I guess. You know...the girls were hotter in the attitude era also.

P: They lost their credibility too. They were little more than porn extras.

CP: Yeah, that was cool. They would cat-fight for our amusement.

P: They still do. They will have a hard time getting credible ladies' wrestling back. It may never return.

CP: At least we will have that.

P: If the TV networks did not tell you the ratings, there would not be such a huge point of contention among so many fans. Many people equate PG to a family show. The Jerry Springer episode of RAW was not family-friendly at all.

CP: Yeah, that would have been great if it was not so stupid.

P: That it was.

CP: I guess there is always something to complain about.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Tim Tebow - Will he be successful quarterback in the NFL?

Point: With his leadership skills, he is sure to succeed. I compare him to Steve Young.

Counterpoint: Steve Young, the Hall Of Fame quarterback? I think his career will more closely resemble that of Rex Grossman.

P: Rex Grossman? Are you kidding me?

CP: He's a great leader. Unfortunately, his physical skill set won't get it done at the next level.

P: You know, scouts and NFL "experts" say that Tebow won't be a great quarterback because of his arm strength. I just don't buy that.

CP: Have you seen him throw?

P: Of course, but there is nothing wrong with his arm strength at all. He just needs to work on his release. This guy works as hard as anyone and will get that part of his game straightened out.

CP: Changing his release point doesn't fix all the issues he has. David Carr also fixed his release point prior to the draft. How did his NFL career work out?

P: Carr was drafted number one by the Texans. In any case, he will be much better than David Carr.

CP: Another number one pick he compares to is Alex Smith. I could see them having similar careers.

P: Smith, like Carr, is an example of a guy who was rushed. Tebow will need a couple years. Nobody is saying he is NFL ready now.

CP: Tebow also has issues reading defenses and tends to lock into his first option.

P: Whatever...teams will regret passing on this Heisman trophy winner.

CP: Heisman Trophy winners, for the most part, don't have exceptional NFL careers.

P: That means nothing. He is a true leader and would put a fire under his team.

CP: That kind of cheerleader stuff won't work in the NFL.

P: His personality will win over any team.

CP: I disagree. Look, it's hard not to like Tebow. The media seems to love him. He might have an average career as a backup.

P: He throws a very accurate deep ball.

CP: I have seen him connect on some long balls.

P: Tebow is also a proven winner. Most successful NFL quarterbacks have college resumes that look like Tebow's.

CP: Colt McCoy holds the record for most wins by a college QB. Does that mean he will be better than Tebow?

P: No, I like McCoy but not as much as Tebow.

CP: Florida's simplistic offense with Tebow was nothing like any NFL offense.

P: Tebow will devote himself to improving every aspect of his game. He will learn the NFL schemes quickly.

CP: So you are saying he is intelligent?

P: I think he's a very smart and athletic quarterback. One of a quarterback's greatest strengths is their ability to read the defense and execute the plays.

CP: Are you aware that Tebow recorded a 22 on his Wonderlic? That isn't good in case you wondered.

P: Other quarterbacks like Dan Marino, Bret Favre, Donavan McNabb, and Michael Vick scored poorly and went on to fine NFL careers. That test has nothing to do with his football skills, determination, and leadership.

CP: It doesn't help. He doesn't compare to any of those guys anyway.

P: Tebow will be great. He is the greatest college football player ever and he will do great in the NFL.

CP: He may be in the conversation for best college football player ever.

P: He has the Heisman Trophy and two national championships. Nobody in this generation has done that.

CP: I'll give you that. He had a spectacular college football career.

P: Face it, the rare combination of leadership and athletic ability that Tebow has will make him an stud NFL quarterback.

CP: Weren't those same things said of Vince Young?

P: Young will put it all together this season.

CP: Tebow has poor accuracy, doesn't read defenses well, has bad footwork, struggles to take the snap from under center, and has poor mechanics. Tebow is years from being NFL ready as a quarterback.

P: I agree that he will struggle if he doesn't become a pocket passer and tighten up a few other areas.

CP: There isn't a long list of guys that have come into the league with so many areas to work on that have become successful. He works hard. He is a great leader. I get all that.

P: He certainly doesn't have the classic throwing motion.

CP: NFL defensive backs will be licking their chops when he drops back.

P: His greatest asset might be that he makes the people around him better.

CP: That is hard to know. He played for one of the best teams around at Flordia.

P: A good coach will take advantage of Tebow's strengths. He's got the intangibles.

CP: Yeah, I just don't see it.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Will Shawn Michaels Lose at Wrestlemania?

Point: Yes, the Undertaker's streak will not end this year.

Counterpoint: I say no. Many consider Shawn Michaels to be the best wrestler of all time. He won't go down with a loss.

P: The Undertaker has had enough of showing up at the end of Smackdown. He is ready for his next great match.

CP: Taker has looked a little lazy lately.

P: No doubt but this is the event he has won at so many times. I just can't see him losing.

CP: They both seem ready to retire.

P: The WWE has spent a lot of time promoting the streak.

CP: Yeah, it is mentioned whenever possible.

P: Why spend all that time building up the streak just to have him lose?

CP: Streaks are made to be broken.

P: But the streak is talked about year after year.

CP: They don't need that streak. There is always the next big match.

P: I guess but why would they suddenly decide after 17 years to stop it?

CP: It has to stop at some point.

P: When it stops, it will be used to promote the next big star. It would be better used as a passing of the torch. It won't be stopped like this.

CP: I don't know about that. It just seems like this will be the pinnacle of HBK's Hall Of Fame career. If the streak ends, it will be to a guy like Michaels.

P: The thing about HBK is that he has taken time off in the past due to injuries.

CP: Most people think that retirement is not far away for HBK.

P: He doesn't have much left. It is likely that he is broke down.

CP: He certainly has nothing left to prove.

P: This is true. He should be ready to move on. He should have plenty of bank.

CP: Yes, he could retire but one of his many nicknames is Mr. WrestleMania for a reason.

P: He has had multiple great matches but his Wrestlemania record is a mere 5-8. His only wins were over Tito Santana, Bret Hart, and Chris Jericho and Vince Mcmahon. He is no stranger to losing at Wrestlemania.

CP: That isn't a good record but they have been building Michaels up as much as they have the streak.

P: But they are have him looking stupid like he can't get past the mere sight of the dead man even in a tag-team title match.

CP: That was lame but they had Michaels drill The Undertaker with some sweet chin music to end his title run.

P: That was done so they can get Edge the match-up with Chris Jericho.

CP: You know...these guys have been around.

P: Both of them have been with the WWE/WWF for over 20 years.

CP: They have put in their time.

P: Is there any disputing that HBK is the better performer?

CP: Undertaker has his moments.

P: Yes, but the WWE does not regard The Undertaker as highly as John Cena, Triple H, or Michaels.

CP: The Undertaker is a legend. The crowd goes nuts when the bells ring.

P: His crazy faces are pretty cool.

CP: Wouldn't it be a great climax to have the streak end and HBK goes on to wrestle another day.

P: They could go that way. I wouldn't be surprised if they had a disqualification of some sort so they can have it both ways.

CP: I wouldn't be surprised either but that seems unlikely. We shall see.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Are The Beatles Overrated?

Point: Yes, their music does not stand the test of time nearly as well as most people think.

Counterpoint: Are you crazy? Their music holds up quite well.

P: Most opinions are influenced by the mythology that surrounds the Beatles. We have been conditioned to like them.

CP: It could be that. On the other hand, they have that tremendous collection of great songs, too.

P: The Beatles are a band that created some catchy tunes. Those tunes were played over and over to everyone.

CP: Isn't that a sign of greatness?

P: Familiarity does not equal greatness.

CP: So, if they had played Jonas Brothers songs over and over, we would be having the same discussion about them?

P: That is a little extreme but people have been trained to love The Beatles.

CP: Most successful bands made a name for themselves with heavy radio rotation. All bands that fit that description are not highly regarded like the Beatles.

P: True but I find that The Beatles songs are predictable and quite basic.

CP: Simplicity has always been a trademark of The Beatles. None of their riffs are especially complex. This makes their songs even more impressive. They did not need million dollar studios to make quality music.

P: I'd much rather listen to Oasis or Green Day than The Beatles. Any band that came after The Beatles would have learned from them. They improved on their work so the arrangements are more complex, the sound is denser, and the production is better.

CP: Complexity doesn't mean something is better. It seems like you are equating technology enhancements with a better musical product. Those two are basically Beatles tribute bands with better equipment.

P: The Beatles influenced them. They influenced most rock bands.

CP: So you don't deny that The Beatles were important?

P: Absolutely not. the band was important and influential. Unfortunately for them, their influence and importance does not make their music any better. Bands today have the advantage of superior technology and knowledge passed down from bands like The Beatles.

CP: There is a genius to creating a sound and melody that resonates with tons of people before and now.

P: The Beatles had many things going for them like the British Invasion, their domination of the charts, the ladies loved them, they had the hair, the Maharishi era, the Eastern influence, their early breakup, and Lennon's death. These things all worked together to create the giant thing that is The Beatles. If a person is told over and over how great something is people believe it.

CP: Those things certainly helped but before The Beatles, a typical album had a couple singles and a bunch of filler. The Beatles were huge because their albums were loaded with great tunes.

P: They're quite talented but I'll take U2's "Joshua Tree" over "Abbey Road" any day.

CP: "Joshua Tree" is fine album but The Beatles have many that were better. The Beatles created the framework of pop music more than anyone before them.

P: I understand that The Beatles are culturally significant and important in rock music's progression.

CP: But any band that came along after them is better?

P: Yeah, pretty much. I'm not from that era. They will always be a band with which I cannot identify.

CP: I suppose deciding who is the best band ever is a matter of opinion.

P: To me, they are just another old rock band like Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Guess Who, The Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin.

CP: Those are great bands or they wouldn't be relevant anymore. Saying U2 or Oasis is a better band than The Beatles is crazy talk. As The Beatles career progressed, their music and lyrics evolved into some of the best pop music ever. What did U2 progress to?

P: Yeah, their last cd kind of sucked. Do you realize that The Beatles were nothing more than the first boy band?

CP: I think we are done here.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Does Dusty Baker Abuse Pitchers?

Point: Yes, Mark Prior and Kerry Wood...enough said.

Counterpoint: Dusty Baker killed their careers?

P: Yes, it is well known that Baker cares little about pitch counts.

cp: What about Carlos Zambrano?

P: He has not been free of symptoms either.

CP: Abuse happens but your criticism of Dusty Baker doesn't sound very scientific.

P: Take a look at 2003. The Cubs had Prior, Wood and Zambrano. All three of them threw over 210 innings. Baker allowed Prior

and Wood to throw 130+ pitches in seven different starts. Then there was time where he sent out Kerry Wood for a 7 inning

outing in which he threw 141 pitches.

CP: Yes, Prior and Wood did blow out their arms but Zambrano is still pitching today. Woods threw a lot before Baker arrived

in Chicago. Jim Riggleman had him throw 120+ pitches a few times in his rookie season. As for Prior, the inverted-M in his

delivery is horrible for the shoulder. Prior was used pretty hard at USC, also. Isn't it more accurate that Wood's and

Prior's mechanics had more to do with their injuries than Baker?

P: Dusty abused all three arms. Zembrano is lucky not to be out of baseball. Zambrano had 129 starts under Dusty Baker from

ages 22-25. During that time, he had 31 different outings with 120 or more pitches thrown.

CP: He seems to have had a nice career thus far.

P: Carlos Zambrano gets worse every year and is likely to break down anytime. He'll have Baker to blame when it happens.

CP: Pitchers are conditioned differently now. In the old days, only the most durable could even reach the big leagues. Now,

their workload is not the same. They still break down but only when the make it. They appear to be abused but pitching in the

big leagues is a tough gig.

P: In 14 out of 16, pitchers on Baker's teams have thrown more pitches per start than the average for National League

pitchers.

CP: There is no way to prove that Baker caused any injuries. This sounds more like a half-baked theory to me.

P: There are more than just Prior and Wood.

CP: Lets go through your list.

P: Ever heard of Livan Hernandez?

CP: Of course.

P: Would you be surprised to know in 110 total starts for Hernandez under Baker, he had three outings with 140+ pitches, 13

outings with 130+ pitches, and an ridiculous 43 outings with 120+ pitches?

CP: Every pitcher is different. Some pitchers really can take a lot of pitches.

P: Then we have Russ Ortiz.

CP: What did Dusty do to him?

P: In 144 starts under Baker, he threw 120+ pitches 33 different starts, including six starts with 130+ pitches and two

starts with 140+ pitches.

CP: Ortiz does not blame Baker for anything. High pitch counts and arm problems don't necessarily go together anyway. Carlos Zambrano, Livan Hernandez and Russ Ortiz seemed to do fine while supposedly being abused. I'm not seeing any issues there. The only injuries Hernandez had were with his knees.

P: Hernandez has always pitched a lot. I'll give you that. What about Jason Schmidt?

CP: Schmidt's nasty slider likely caused his problems. He threw 120+ pitches only 8 times in 2 years.

P: How about Aaron Harang?

CP: The game in 2008 when Harang threw 63 pitches in relief then made his next start certainly seems like poor judgement in retrospect.

P: Edinson Volquez went from a guy with Cy Young votes to Tommy John surgery.

CP: The problem with Volquez in 2009 was that he pitched a lot in the offseason then in the WBC.

P: He rode Bailey a little too hard at the end of last season when the Reds had no chance.

CP: Bailey was on a roll. Dominating like he did was valuable experience for him.

P: We'll see about that.

CP: By the way, what is pitching coach doing while Baker is abusing all these pitchers as you claim.

P: I agree the pitching coach shoulders some blame.

CP: This could also be a function of the type of pitchers Baker has inherited. What about Bobby Cox? Did he abuse Steve Avery

and Horatio Ramirez? John Smoltz needed Tommy John surgery and Kevin Millwood's development may have taken a hit.

P: All managers have have pitchers with injuries. Is it a coincidence that his starting pitchers consistently throw more

pitches than average?

CP: Maybe. There are alot of things that can go wrong with a pitcher like mechanics, types of pitches they throw, how hard

they throw, number of pitches thrown during warm-ups, and how much they were used before going pro. The manager can only

control so much.

P: Baker has no clue how much risk he is taking with these pitchers.

CP: Obviously Baker likes to play with fire as you have pointed out. But I think if pitchers are gonna break down, they're going to break down no matter what. We can always second guess.

P: Play with fire? You might get away with 130+ pitches a few times and the pitcher may not get hurt. You might also get away

with smoking for 20 years and not end up with lung cancer.

CP: Exaggerate much? Look, some pitchers can throw 130+ pitches with no problems.

P: Baker thinks his whole staff fits that criteria. Aroldis Chapman should be concerned.

CP: Should the Reds never let Chapman get beyond 100 pitches?

P: It seems like stud pitchers like Chapman are extremely valuable.

CP: This is obviously true.

P: Throwing lots of pitches beyond 100 in a given outing is proven to correlate with increased rates of injury. The Reds

should be careful leaving this guy in Baker's hands.

CP: I don't know about the part about it being "proven" but they will likely take your advice.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Should We Cheer for Our Country To Win in the Olympics?

Point: Yes, It is patriotic to cheer for your country to win.

Counterpoint: Maybe, but you don't know that guy from upstate New York any more than the guy from Quebec. They both worked hard. Does it matter who wins?

P: Well, Canada is our neighbor. I guess I could cheer for someone from there if he was not competing with the U.S.

CP: What if he was from Russia?

P: I would only cheer for Americans and possibly Canadians.

CP: But aren't we all citizens of the same earth, not individual countries?

P: Like most Americans, my heart lies with the U.S. athletes.

CP: Does it seem fair that athletes from all over the world don’t receive the same level of funding to help them train and compete at an international level?

P: The U.S. certainly takes it more seriously than many countries. We take pride in the Olympics.

CP: Many Olympians from various countries live and train here at their own expense. Doesn't it make sense to cheer for them? They put more on the line and have overcome greater odds.

P: Good for them but they are competing against the U.S. so I prefer that they lose.

CP: You probably know that getting a medal in the Olympics is low on the priority list of many countries. They lack training and facilities so they have less athletes overall. The competition is set up to be unfair.

P: Yes, but only the top athletes can go. The U.S. can send the same number of athletes in individual or team events as any country.

CP: If you compare the best athletes from a small country to the best athletes from a large country, the large country surely will win more often.

P: I agree that the U.S. has an advantage but I just can't cheer for athletes from other countries.

CP: What about U.S. born athletes that compete for other countries?

P: If they were good enough, they would be competing for the U.S. Regardless, if they are not competing for the U.S., I will not be cheering for them.

CP: Interesting. Would you be alright if they didn't mention the country for which the athletes are competing?

P: That wouldn't be any fun. Anyway, would you prefer a system where all athletes were assigned teams by lottery instead of by country?

CP: That is crazy talk.

P: No national anthems for the medal winners?

CP: That sounds extreme. Please stop.

P: How about they handicap based on genetics?

CP: I'm guessing that plan wouldn't be a ratings winner for NBC.

P: Duh...the games are about nationalism.

CP: Well, originally the Olympics were just a sporting event between individual athletes. Look, all I'm suggesting is that we enjoy the high level of competition and appreciate that these games only occur once every four years. They all must compete in the spotlight. It doesn't matter which country you came from because in the end, you must perform.

P: Whatever, dude. Can I just cheer on my fellow citizens without being hassled?

CP: Fine, if you simply must choose. By the way, who is your favorite hockey team?

P: The Islanders.

CP: You will cheer for a guy like Mark Streit when he plays for the Islanders but when he represents the Swiss hockey team, not so much?

P: You got it.

CP: At least you are consistent.

Will Derek Jeter Break the All-Time Hits Record?

Point: Yes, he is ahead of Pete Rose's pace now.

Counterpoint: I'm thinking no. It would be nice and all but he has a long way to go.

P: Bill James gives him a six-percent chance of reaching 4,000 hits.

CP: That does not sound promising. Projections like that are pointless. Suppose he does make it to 4,000. He will still be 256 short of Rose.

P: Well, Jeter is still in top physical condition.

CP: Yeah, now. When he is 43, the hits will be tougher.

P: He will have to adjust.

CP: Well, if Jeter averages 188 hits per season for the next nine seasons, he can pull it off. You think he can do that?

P: I'm certainly not saying it will be easy.

CP: Pete Rose says the first 3,000 hits are easy. Maybe Jeter can make the other 1200 easy.

P: The thing about Rose was the ability to pencil his name in the lineup every day. Jeter can DH, though. I don't think playing time will be an issue.

CP: Rose played for bad Reds teams. The fans wanted him to get that record so they tolerated his less than stellar numbers. Jeter won't have that luxury with the Yankees who must win every year.

P: True but the Yankees love Jeter and would let him punch up 500 at-bats somewhere if he wanted to.

CP: He will have to do this in the outfield or DH. Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez are signed for the next few years. One of those two will play DH.

P: Yeah, so Jeter plays right or left field. Don't rule out shortstop either. Omar Vizquel still plays shortstop and he is 43.

CP: Vizquel plays very little shortstop at this point. I can't see the Yankees tolerating a weak hitting outfielder. If he isn't hitting, the Yankee faithful might turn.

P: Jeter would be an exception. He would play left or right field. He has decent speed. By that time, his arm will be average or a tad better than that. He might compare to Johnny Damon. He would play decent defense and be an OBP guy in the lineup. The Yankees could live with that.

CP: Damon has played outfield his entire career. Jeter would have to work hard to make that transition. Not many guys that age can play enough to get the hits he will need.

P: You just can't count Jeter out. They questioned his defense and in 2009, he stepped up and improved.

CP: You believe he will keep working hard into his 40s?

P: That really is the question. He may not especially since he got engaged.

CP: I can't see Jeter even playing when he is 43.

P: The other thing you are missing is how big the record would be for the Yankees. They would love for an all-time great Yankee to have the hits record.

CP: I predict he will follow Joe Dimaggio and retire at his peak. He won't want to hang around for a record. Jeter will have to be content with his all-time postseason hits record. A guy to watch out for is Ichiro. I could see him playing into his late 40s slapping hits. Ichiro has the training and desire to bang out hits for a long time.

P: Talk about your long-shots. Ichiro is over 2,000 hits behind and would need to play at his current level for 10 more years. Most of his hits come from speed, too.

CP: True...Pete Rose set a high number to reach.

Is Tiger Woods Better Than Jack Nicklaus?


Point: Yes, Jack Nicklaus has more major championships than Tiger Woods simply because he played longer.


Counterpoint: I say no.  Nicklaus played against Hall Of Fame golfers like Gary Player, Tom Watson, and Arnold Palmer.  Who can top that today?


P: I hear that all the time.  Had Woods not so thoroughly dominated, guys like Vijay Singh, Phil Mickelson, and Ernie Els would have equaled the guys you named.


CP: You aren't seriously arguing that you would take your foursome over mine?


P: All day.  Also, tournaments today have much deeper fields to beat.


CP: I'm not sure the 50th best golfer of either generation makes a difference.


P: Of course they do.


CP: I agree that the worst players of Woods' era are better than the worst players of Nicklaus' era.  However, the ones that matter are at the top and there is no comparison.  Just look at the number of majors won by my foursome compared to yours.  It isn't close.

P: Well, the courses are tougher today.


CP: All golfers play on the same course.


P: Yes, but it is much harder to maintain consistency on more difficult courses.


CP: The equipment they use today is far superior to when Nicklaus played.


P: The high-tech equipment used today makes it tougher for the best player to separate himself.


CP: I don't buy that.  If guys like Johnny Miller or Seve Ballesteros had today's equipment they would have been even more formidable.


P: They all use pretty much the same equipment so you should find another argument.


CP: Really?  Tiger has his own club designer, his own branding, and his entire wardrobe is picked out before the year starts.  He is a top athlete but there has never been a more pampered great in any sport.


P: He does that because he can.  It doesn't give him any advantage.


CP: Oh yeah, don't forget the easier travel on Wood's jet, a lighter schedule, and he  has so much dough that he can pick and choose events much more than the the guys from Nicklaus' era.


P: Has Nicklaus won four consecutive major championships?


CP: Uh...no.


P: How about three majors in the same year?  Has Nicklaus accomplished that?


CP: Um, that would be another no.


P: You know...Woods won the U.S. Open by 15 strokes while Nicklaus's largest margin of victory in the U.S. Open was four shots.


CP: Well, now we're back to the quality of Nicklaus' opponents.  Nicklaus finished second in majors a record 19 times.  His competition was top notch.


P: Woods made 142 consecutive cuts vs. 105 for Nicklaus.


CP: I get it.


P: Woods won at least five tournaments in five consecutive seasons.


CP: Nicklaus did that for three years in a row.  Once again, this all comes down to the level of competition.  Nicklaus' competition would not be hyperventilating when Woods teed off.


P: Maybe not.


CP: Four times Lee Trevino beat Nicklaus at major championships.  Nicklaus had three major championships later in his career that were taken away by Tom Watson.  Who is Woods' rival?  Phil Mickelson?


P: Hey, Mickelson is a great player.  Are you saying that if Trevino and Watson weren't great, Nicklaus would have won 25 majors?


CP: We don't know.  A great player like that may be looming.


P: You don't dispute that Woods is a better chipper, do you?


CP: He probably is, but Nicklaus was an amazing putter and probably the best pressure putter ever.  Compared to the field, Nicklaus also hit the ball longer than Woods.


P: Did I mention that Woods has won eight tournaments in a season a ridiculous three times?


CP: No, but I don't dispute that he is a phenomenal golfer.  That is unquestioned.


P: Who do you think would win head to head?


CP: It would be close, but I'm sticking with Nicklaus.


P: I'll take Woods.  He is four major victories away from tying Nicklaus and five away from breaking a great sports record.  There is no doubt that he will do it.


CP: Not so fast, winning majors is a lot tougher when you are 35 vs 25.  Can you name the golfers who have won five majors past the age of 33?


P: I'm not sure.  I'll assume there is a long list.


CP:  Sorry, but wrong.  Jack Nicklaus is the only one and he won seven majors after he turned 33.  Also, Woods has had some injuries and personal problems to deal with.  That won't help.


P: It obviously can be done and Woods has plenty of time.


CP: Five major championships is a huge feat, considering that only eight men have been able to do that in the last 50 years.  I wouldn't assume that it will happen.


P: Too bad we can't actually settle this.


CP: Indeed, it was exhausting, but fun.