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Jerry Brewer explains the thinking behind his columns and invites readers to express their views on the sports world.

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July 31, 2008 8:35 AM

Q&A(rgue): More annoying, Brett or Manny?

Posted by Jerry Brewer

After some time off, I am back today with another installment of our weekly debate. Remember, Q&A(rgue) runs in this space every Thursday. I was away last week at a journalism convention. In that time, Brett Favre's name was mentioned 1,142,209 times, I hear.

Anyway, my guest today is Michael Rosenberg, a fabulous author and sports columnist at The Detroit Free Press. Michael is an unbelievable writer and reporter.

Michael has an upcoming book called "War As They Knew It: Woody Hayes, Bo Schembechler and America in a Time of Unrest."

Be sure to keep his book in mind. It's sure to be a great read.

And now, let's debate a few sports topics.


1. Which disgruntled star's story is more tiring: Brett Favre's or Manny Ramirez's?

Brewer: I loved Manny's sign from the other day that read "I'm Going To Green Bay For Brett Favre Straight Up!" Oh, if only that trade could happen. Manny doesn't take himself too seriously, and we should enjoy Manny news because it is always so bizarre. Why he wants to get traded from Boston makes no sense. But it will be fun to see if the Red Sox can pull off a deal. Clearly, they need to move on, too. That said, Favre is the most tiring story. I was tired of his retirement talk three years ago. Now his un-retirement is the biggest train wreck in sports. Please, Packers, just trade the guy and be done with it.

Rosenberg: Favre's, easily. That's mostly the media's fault -- there are monarchs who control the press in their country and still don't get as much media attention as Favre. We've been living this retirement saga for years, and it's been an every-day thing for three months. Manny has a good defense for his actions: he is clearly from another planet. His act is at least amusing sometimes.

2. Did former NBA ref Tim Donaghy receive the proper punishment?

Brewer: He should've gotten more than 15 months. The help he gave authorities shouldn't have shaved that much time off his sentence. At first, we were talking about nearly three years. Two years would've satisfied me. That's probably why I'm not a judge. And I'm not even sure that he provided much assistance to authorities. I keep thinking he was just throwing names out there to save himself.

Rosenberg: I think so. He cooperated with authorities, which always helps. The two best things an accused criminal can do are cooperate with authorities and flub the crime -- attempted murder carries a more lenient sentence than murder. I just hope for his sake that he gets real help with his gambling addiction. In a way, I think that is even more debilitating than an alcohol problem, because it is misunderstood by so many, and because gambling addicts end up stealing from their own families to support their habits.

3. Do you think Donaghy's sentencing will put the NBA gambling scandal to rest? If not, what else can we/should we look into?

Brewer: It's not over. No one may ever be able to truly connect other referees to this scandal, but the perception is already out there. The damage is already done. David Stern has done the league a disservice by being so flippant about this issue the past few months. You cannot dismiss something so serious. His tactics make me believe there's something he's hiding. It could be my Sonics' bitterness speaking, but we saw how far Roger Goodell went to squash the Spygate scandal. Wouldn't surprise me if Stern has pushed some evidence into a closet somewhere.

Rosenberg: David Stern clearly thinks that Donaghy is a rogue referee and this was an isolate case. Unfortunately, while Stern says Donaghy is Lee Harvey Oswald, a lot of people think otherwise, and many of those people are in Stern's league. In my experience, most people around the NBA think there is something fishy about the officiating -- not point-shaving, necessarily, but other fishiness. It is a common belief in the NBA that certain officials are more susceptible to the home crowd, and that when the NBA wants the home team to win, those officials are more likely to get the assignment. They aren't told to favor a team -- nothing needs to be said. Again, this comes from people within the league. So the NBA has a perception problem among its own employees, and Stern would be foolish to ignore it.

4. What excites you most about the upcoming Olympics? What aspect of the Games are you not looking forward to?

Brewer: I'm not covering the Olympics this time, so I'm trying to take the average fan approach to it. Instead of researching the Games like crazy, I'm just letting them sneak up on me. I'm most excited to see if Michael Phelps can beat Mark Spitz's seven gold medals. I also want to see if Dara Torres will win gold. The U.S. basketball teams (men's and women's) still fascinate me. And I love beach volleyball and softball. It's a shame that softball is being eliminated from the Olympics. As an Olympic event, it's more exciting than baseball.

What am I not looking forward to? Besides the media vs. the Chinese government, I figure to get tired of the athletes complaining about the air quality in China. It's going to be out of control. Yes, they will have a point, but toughen up and go compete. A gold medal is on the line.

Rosenberg: Personally, I'm excited to see China. I am both fascinated and appalled by the Chinese attempts to clamp down on the media. There are a few guys in the press center that I would like to shut up, too, but I'm not as adamant about it as the Chinese apparently are. As for the actual games: I remember watching the 100-meter sprint in Athens and thinking "this is awesome ... but these guys are probably all on steroids." It's hard to get that thought out of your head, but also hard to ignore how riveting some of these events are. I mean, a race to find the world's fastest man has captured people's attention for centuries.

5. No. 1 pick Jake Long, a former Michigan Wolverine, is already showcasing his nastiness in Dolphins practice. Will he be as good as advertised?

Brewer: I am going to defer quite a bit to Michael on this one, since he has seen Long develop. Yes, I think he is going to be the real deal. I'm not sure which tackle position he's best at, but he's big time. For so long, the Dolphins ignored their O-line -- with embarrassing results. Now they have an essential piece to build around. All it took was a 1-15 season.

Rosenberg: Yes, I think he is as good as advertised. You're talking about a guy who took one penalty his whole senior year and did not allow a sack until he slipped against Ohio State and Vernon Gholston beat him. People at Michigan told me for three years that the guy is just a freak of nature. Big Ten coaches voted him Offensive Lineman of the Year in 2006 -- ahead of Joe Thomas. Long also has a great attitude and is extremely likeable. You could argue that he should be a right tackle instead of a left tackle, or that he will be a Pro Bowler but not an All-Pro. But I would be shocked if he fails.

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July 18, 2008 3:06 AM

Q&A(rgue): Favre, Manning and gang signs

Posted by Jerry Brewer

My apologies for the delay in Q&A(rgue) this week. I had some other things get in the way, but without further delay, let's get to it.

My guest today is Reuben Frank, a longtime NFL reporter in the Philadelphia area. In addition to his newspaper job at the Burlington County Times, Frank writes a weekly column during the season for SI.com. He also has a significant presence with on radio and television in Philadelphia, making him a strong voice in the area. He recently co-authored a book with ESPN reporter Sal Paolantonio, entitled "The Paolantonio Report: The Most Overrated and Underrated Players, Teams, Coaches, and Moments in NFL history."

He is very opinionated and knows the league as well as anyone. With the Brett Favre saga prominently in the news this week, we cannot talk NFL without delving into the issue.

So, here we go.

1. Who's wrong in the Brett Favre drama: Favre or Packers GM Ted Thompson?

Brewer: There's no doubt in my mind that Favre is to blame in this fiasco, but I must say I'm surprised at the tough stance Thompson has taken. He's battling a legend on this, and I'm impressed that he's been so resolute. I'm not sure that I would be so bold. But back to Favre: I sense there's a lot more to this mess that we don't know. My theory, similar to what many have speculated, is that Favre retired in March because he was ticked at Thompson. Now Favre is trying to force his way back in his way, but Thompson isn't having it. I don't get why Favre, after 17 NFL seasons, isn't being more savvy about NFL business. I don't get why he's so frustrated when he just led a young team to overtime of the NFC Championship Game. If Favre hadn't retired, the Packers would be the NFC favorite to make the Super Bowl right now. Favre is being very selfish -- and shortsighted -- in this situation.

Frank: Sure, the Packers could have handled this mess a little better, but Favre has really shown himself to be an insecure, self-absorbed, me-first jerk during the last few months. He's so full of himself and so desperate for attention that he's never stopped during this whole on-again, off-again retirement drama to ponder the affect his actions are having on his former team. But that's typical Favre. It's not about the team, it's about Favre. I mean, he actually admitted he was considering showing up at training camp just to create a distraction. Gee, sounds like somebody I'd want quarterbacking my team.


2. Will Favre play next season? If so, where and why?

Brewer: Yes, he will. And my prediction is Baltimore. Sometime in the middle of training camp, I think the Packers and Favre will finally work together and get him out of town. Baltimore will offer a high draft pick, maybe even a first rounder (it would be worth it for Favre, provided he agrees to play two more seasons), and the Favre era in Green Bay will end again, in the strangest of ways. There's no way Green Bay will release Favre or trade him to another NFC team. Forget it, Minnesota, you're in the same division. Favre is not going to get his way completely. Thompson would be wise to get something for a player he no longer wants.

Frank: He'll play. He obviously can't handle not being in the spotlight, and he's not going to get that spotlight on the family farm in Mississippi staring at himself in the mirror to make sure his scruff is the right length. In the right situation, he can still be an effective quarterback. I'm going to go with Baltimore. That was a 12-win team two years ago that just needs a quarterback. Coach John Harbaugh comes from the Andy Reid coaching tree, and Reid was Favre's position coach in Green Bay. Joe Flacco is a couple years away, Kyle Boller is pretty bleh, the Packers wouldn't have any problem trading Favre to the AFC. Makes as much sense as anything else.

3. What do you think of the steady coverage of Favre this week?

Brewer: I think it's been out of control, and Fox stretching his interview over three days certainly didn't help matters. No doubt, it's a huge story, but everything with Favre seems to take on an inflated importance. I alternate between being fascinated and annoyed this story. Now I'm just waiting for it all to end.

Frank: The thing that cracks me up about the coverage of this story is that the typically fawning media never bothers to mention what kind of quarterback Favre really has been over the past decade. Favre is 3-7 in his last 10 playoff games dating back to 1998, including postseason defeats to Daunte Culpepper's Vikings, Michael Vick's Falcons and Eli Manning's Giants at Lambeau, where the Packers had never lost a postseason game before the 2002 season. No wonder the Packers don't want him back. If Vick had a decade like that, we'd hear all about how he can't read defenses, he's a choke artist and he can't win the big one. Favre? He's a good ol' boy country gunslinger who loves to play the game.

4. What will have a bigger impact on this season: where Favre plays or how Peyton Manning's knee heals?

Brewer: Manning's knee, for sure. The Indianapolis Colts are still as good as any team in the NFL -- as long as Manning is healthy. To me, Manning is the best quarterback in the NFL. Sorry, Tom Brady. Sorry, Favre. I'm taking Manning. You can make a great argument that no team leans on a quarterback as much as the Colts lean on Manning. And considering how vital the QB position is, that's saying something.

Frank: Manning is going to be fine, so I don't think his knee is really a big issue. Whatever Favre does, wherever he goes, we're going to get hit over the head with it non-stop this fall. There's Brett Favre throwing his first touchdown for a team other than the Packers! There's Brett Favre playing in his 254th consecutive game! There's Brett Favre throwing another overtime interception in the playoffs!

5. To end, a change of subject: What do you make of the NFL looking for gang signs in on-field celebrations?

Brewer: I usually think the league's No Fun League antics are over the top, but I understand the NFL's rationale here. On-field celebrations are so common now that I don't pay a lot of attention to them, and I think it's similar for many fans. Still, there must be a portion of fans -- particularly TV viewers -- who see the cameras zoom in on celebrations, and it's terrible for the league if there's a gang sign included. The silly thing is, some of these players don't even realize what they're flashing anymore. I'd bet that very few of them are gang-affiliated, which makes it ridiculous to be representing something they know nothing about.

Frank: I can see it now. The Jaguars are facing a critical third-and-10 against the Colts, David Garrard looks over at the sideline, and offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter wig-wags a signal to Garrard. All of a sudden, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell stops the game and has Koetter removed from the Jacksonville sideline for using a gang signal. Sound crazy? Maybe not. According to Jaguars receiver Dennis Northcutt, one known gang sign is also a sign for a specific formation in the Jags' offense. The NFL's intentions are noble but misguided. There are more important things the NFL needs to worry about. Like telling Brett Favre to shut up!

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July 17, 2008 12:38 PM

Sexson to Yanks? LOL

Posted by Jerry Brewer

The New York Yankees are officially desperate. Buster Olney of ESPN is reporting the Yanks have reached a tentative agreement with Richie Sexson, the exiled former Mariners underachiever.

Cats have nine lives, and yet they are still envious of Sexson. The guy disappears for a season and a half, but he winds up signing with a team that remains in contention for a playoff spot. Of course, the Richie Effect might put an end to those hopes.

OK, OK. The situations are different. The Yankees will use Sexson as merely an extra bat, mostly as a righty to match up with the lefty pitchers. He probably won't start every day. The pressure of making $14 million is off. Sexson is a decent acquisition under those circumstances.

But I dislike that he gets this good of a second chance. He fell apart in Seattle and become a major factor in the Mariners' collapse this season. Now he gets to wander over to the most storied franchise in baseball and talk about how he got a raw deal with the Mariners. What a joke.

If justice prevails, however, Sexson will do just enough at the beginning to get the Yankees' hopes up and then retreat into his normal, frustrating, lackluster play and enrage New Yorkers same as he enraged Seattleites. And nothing is fiercer than an angry New York sports fan.

The Mariners feared they would release Sexson, and he would respond with a great finish to the season to make them look silly. That is why it took them so long to let go. But even if Sexson hits 20 homers in the final portion of this season (highly unlikely), the Mariners made the right move cutting him. It was time to end the relationship.

Now Sexson has found another sucker.

New York, you have been forewarned.

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July 16, 2008 2:51 PM

July doldrums

Posted by Jerry Brewer

Tired of Brett Favre and A-Rod updates? Well, the excessive attention given to these news items can only mean one thing.

It's July.

This is a slow, slow time in sports. This period following the baseball All-Star Game is always the worst. So that's why the All-Star Game wouldn't end last night.

Mid-July is bad enough when you have a contending baseball team. When you have one that has been out of the pennant race since May, it's impossible to find athletic meaning in this time of year.

Look at some of the other stories making headlines right now:

-- Stephon Marbury just had the logo of his shoes tattooed on his face. Can the Knicks get rid of him soon enough?

-- Billy Packer, love him or not, is out as one of the premier voices in college basketball. I am not a big fan, but I appreciate what he has done to advance the game.

-- Kenny Perry, the hottest PGA golfer presently (and a Kentuckian, might I add), opted against playing in the British Open. It's supposedly a big deal that the 47-year-old Perry's aspirations aren't greater than making the Ryder Cup team, but, oh, well, who cares? Just let the man be.

-- Locally, Jon Brockman is back from ankle surgery, Bobby Engram won't be skipping training camp, and Ichiro swears a lot during his All-Star Game pep talk.

It's a dry time, the calm before the football storm. Just to keep from dozing off, it would be nice to see the Mariners make a trade, or have Favre lust over coming to Seattle (now that would be a talker, with Matt Hasselbeck being so entrenched), or watch one of the moving vans run over Clay Bennett's foot.

Only a Mariners trade is likely to happen, though. And our Mariners writer, Geoff Baker, has Arthur Rhodes atop the list of Mariners most likely to go.

"M's trade Rhodes for bag of Fritos"

Yeah, it's that time of year.

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July 11, 2008 2:23 PM

Introducing ... Powerless Rankings

Posted by Jerry Brewer

How can you document the absurdity in sports every week? Well, I have a new method: Powerless Rankings.

You've heard of power rankings. Naturally, this is the opposite, a way to record all the lows. From now on, this will be an institution in Extra Points every Friday.

What's a sports blog without a list including snarky comments?

10. Jason Giambi's mustache
Comment: If you're a drug cheat trying to reform yourself and earn All-Star votes, The 'Stache is the product for you. Buy it now. And when it doesn't work, don't blame Giambi.

9. Derrick Rose's right knee
Comment: Tendinitis kept the No. 1 pick from finishing summer-league play this week. He wound up playing only two games and shot 5 of 17 (29 percent) from the field. Good thing those games don't count.

8. The Los Angeles Clippers
Comment: The Clips thought they were going to sign Baron Davis, re-sign Elton Brand and turn into, at the very least, a strong playoff contender. But Brand stiffed them. Now the Clips are whining. Really, though, it is fitting this would happen to such a terrible franchise.

7. Matt Jones
Comment: Police in Fayetteville, Ark., say they busted the Jacksonville wide receiver cutting cocaine in his car. Guess Jones, a converted quarterback, must've thought this was his best chance at being a relevant NFL player.

6. Manuel Beltran
Comment: The Spanish rider tested positive for EPO, so the French Po-Po took him far, far away from the Tour de France. It is another troubling incident for cycling. If you're counting at home, Beltran is the fourth former Lance Armstrong teammate who has tested positive for drugs. Let's hope that doesn't show up on a yellow wristband one day.

5. Brandon Jennings
Comment: The best point guard in the class of 2008 will skip college and bide his time in Europe before entering the 2009 NBA draft. Here's guessing the kid with "Young Money" tattooed on his back gets exposed and loses his lottery-pick status.

4. Richie Sexson
Comment: Goodbye to the dunce of a first baseman. Go throw your helmet at a mirror, Richie. You're the only one to blame for getting cut. The sooner you realize that, the better chance you have at resuming a lost career.

3. Kash Beauchamp, a true Wingnut
Comment: The Wichita Wingnuts manager became a national embarrassment this week for a tirade that would make even Lou Piniella cringe. Or chuckle. I'm surprised the umpire didn't faint after the smelly armpit move.

2. Brett Favre
Comment: The latest news is that he wants to play again -- but not in Green Bay. If you didn't see this coming, you must still believe there is an Easter Bunny. Favre risks obliterating the special relationship he has with Packers fans.

1. Alex Rodriguez
Comment: A-Rod wasn't discreet, so C-Rod is about to get paid in a divorce. That C stands for Cash or Ca-Ching! Maybe Madonna will write a song about it, Alex.

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July 10, 2008 8:36 AM

Q&A(rgue): Bedard in Philly? Oh, let's rumble

Posted by Jerry Brewer

Another week, another debate, another chance to dissect the inextricable Erik Bedard.

Oh, joy.

Where to begin?

With the MLB trade deadline approaching and rumors swirling about the Mariners' talented-yet-tormenting pitcher, I have called upon Philadelphia Inquirer sports columnist Phil Sheridan, who believes the Phillies need another top-of-the-rotation starter, to help me discuss one possibility: Bedard to the Phillies?

(As a journalist who began his career in Philadelphia, learning the ropes from Sheridan, this will be a fun Q&A(rgue) for me.)

The idea is gaining steam, and it makes sense because National League contenders Chicago and Milwaukee have made huge pitching acquisitions this week. It's also a perilous thought: Mr. Reclusive going to a much more hard-edged sports market? Any fed-up Mariners should be thinking naughty thoughts right now.

If you are looking to punish Bedard, this would make for a great pairing. If you are worried about your team trading away such a talent so quickly, you must be fretting over what a wrecked Mariners front office might do.

All of which makes for a fantastic argument.

So, let's get to it.

1. There is media speculation about Erik Bedard going to Philadelphia. Would he be a good fit with the Phillies?

Sheridan: If he can get people out, he'd be as welcome in Philadelphia as Elton Brand. The Phillies have cast about in the past for a top-of-the-rotation ace, with unfortunate results. It's just not a job you can fill easily -- a guy either is or isn't cut out for that. But Cole Hamels is growing into that job quite nicely, so all the Phillies would need is a solid pro who can keep them in games every fifth day. Bedard should fit right in.

Brewer: Sure, why not? As long as he is gone from here, I would be happy. The Mariners cannot build around him. He is not the right fit. It's just too bad that they had to give up five players before figuring that out. But onto the Phillies: I think Philadelphia has enough clubhouse personality to hide Bedard a little bit. He doesn't have to be a leader, which the Mariners needed. Bedard can just come in, be the No. 2 starter behind Cole Hamels and blend into a team that features stars such as Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard and Chase Utley.

This is not an outstanding fit for Bedard, but it can work because the Phillies have already established themselves as winners. They have an identity. There is a standard, and Bedard can fold into the team rather than be forced to stand at the front of a resurgence.


2. Bedard is a reluctant, even aloof, public figure. How might his attitude be perceived in the tough Philly media market?

Sheridan: We've seen it all, Brew. From Steve Carlton, who never spoke to the media at all, to Billy Wagner, who'd be dealing quotes like fastballs before we could even get into the clubhouse. I'll make two points here: 1. If Bedard pitches well, the fans won't care whether he talks, and 2. This would also be a great opportunity for Bedard to reinvent himself a bit. Athletes who handle their media responsibilities with some class and mutual respect often find they have a little more slack. He doesn't have to be anyone's best friend, but if he's a standup guy who does 10 minutes of postgame Q-and-A without being a jerk about it, he'll be fine.

Brewer: If he does his job, it will not matter. If he was performing better in Seattle, it would not matter. The fans care only about winning. That said, it is only human nature that people will be fairer to you if they understand you. That goes for the media, the fans, everyone. No one really knows what motivates Bedard. When he asks out of games, he doesn't do a good job explaining why, so we are left to believe he is soft. You do not want that soft perception in Philadelphia. Bedard would get run out of town. That's the problem. He is not Steve Carlton. He never will be. He needs some benefit of the doubt.

It's about media savvy, not media openness. Bedard has to be more savvy, so that the public doesn't turn against him.

3. In Seattle, there's been much criticism of Bedard not wanting to throw more than 100 pitches. How do you feel about that mentality?

Sheridan: That's a tough one. I don't know how Bedard's arm feels, obviously. If he is being legitimately conservative in order to remain healthy over the long season, then I guess that's something you'd have to respect. In general, I think it's counter-productive when athletes become hypersensitive about their bodies and shut down at the slightest twinge or hint of trouble. Pitch counts have their place, but overall I think pitchers' arm strength suffers from being babied. But hey -- if Bedard can give you seven or eight quality innings in a 100 pitches or less, that's great.

Brewer: I have been very critical of Bedard for this, but I am starting to tone things down a tad because I am wondering about his injuries. On the other hand, I have heard from plenty of Baltimore Orioles fans who say this is just typical Bedard. So, even if he is pitching hurt right now, Bedard still has a history of bailing.

It is OK to be a 100-pitch guy if you go seven innings consistently. But Bedard often blows 100 pitches in five innings. He has to learn to be either more efficient or tougher. Regardless of whether you think he is a wimp, you have to admit this: When the Mariners have needed Bedard most, he has let them down. It is a troubling truth.

4. How much should another team give up in a trade for Bedard, who's fallen out of favor in only a half season in Seattle?

Sheridan: That's where things get interesting. There is a lot of speculation in Philadelphia that GM Pat Gillick, who has told the team he plans to retire after this season, will wind up back in Seattle next year in some capacity. Phillies fans will watch any deal here with great suspicion. Is Gillick looking to help his current team or his next one? I would think the appearance of a conflict would be enough to pre-empt a really lopsided deal, but remember: Phillies fans are still scarred by the trade the team made with former manager Dallas Green after he became GM of the Cubs. The Phillies got Ivan DeJesus for Larry Bowa, who was near the end of his career, and threw in -- wait for it -- a young infielder by the name of Ryne Sandberg. Green knew what he was doing.

Ultimately, though, the Mariners are not dealing from strength here. They're not going to get as much as they gave up to get Bedard. They're not going to get as much as Cleveland got for CC Sabathia. Any team getting Bedard is taking on his contract, too, so I think we're looking at some good-but-not-sure-thing prospects and maybe a major-league player the Phillies wouldn't mind parting with.

Brewer: This is the tricky part. I keep thinking the Mariners are likely to hold onto Bedard, play this season out and let the new GM decide what to do with Bedard in the winter. That is probably the best thing to do, but it all depends on the quality of offers for Bedard at the trade deadline. If multiple teams bid on him, things could get interesting. If not, the Mariners should not make a trade just to make one.

To answer the question, if I am a contending team, I am trying to give the Mariners 50 cents on the dollar for Bedard. The Mariners would be lucky to get back half of what they lost in that foolish trade. If I am the Mariners, I am asking for a major prospect, another guy could become a solid major-league starter (pitching or position player) and then a third young guy with promise. I think that is realistic. It doesn't make up for what the Mariners gave to Baltimore, but you have to move on. If Bedard has his act together, he can be a difference-maker. If a team is trying to win it all, he has to be an attractive option.

5. CC Sabathia to the Brewers. Rich Harden to the Cubs. Do those moves have to inspire countermoves from other National League contenders or can you see another team holding steady and winning the pennant?

Sheridan: It could happen, sure. The Mets could stand pat and be just fine. They already have Johan Santana, Pedro Martinez and John Maine in their rotation, a strong lineup and a pretty good bullpen. They just have to get out of their own heads a little bit. Major moves at the trade deadline always look and feel good at the time, but they don't always produce division titles or pennants.

I don't think the Phillies happen to be a team that can stand pat. They might argue that getting Brett Myers back from his confidence-restoring assignment to Triple-A will be like adding a frontline pitcher, but even if Myers returns to his previous form as a starter, they'll still be where they were going into spring training. They're still getting more than they could have expected from young Kyle Kendrick. Jamie Moyer has been beyond what a guy in his mid-40s should be. But Adam Eaton has proven himself capable of a complete second-half fold.

I'll end with the point I've been making for two years: With Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins, the Phillies have their most talented nucleus since the Mike Schmidt/Pete Rose era. They are in danger of squandering that if they don't match their potent lineup with enough pitching to contend for a title.

Brewer: No matter how potent they seem, the Brewers are still the Brewers, and the Cubs are still the Cubs. I will not consider them insurmountable until they prove it. Especially the Cubs. The Phillies are an awfully talented ballclub. If they can ever get past their dysfunction, the New York Mets are good. The St. Louis Cardinals will not go down easily. It would be wise for those three to make countermoves; there is no such thing as too much talent. But the Cubs and Brewers merely have their fingertips on the pennant. Their competitors can snatch it away simply by playing solid baseball. Responsive decision-making isn't always a good idea. Every franchise has to make decisions based on what's best for the team overall, not because it has a case of trade envy.

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July 8, 2008 4:03 PM

Give it up, Brett

Posted by Jerry Brewer

I admit to being one of those effusive Brett Favre enthusiasts. I mean, the guy is the most immortal quarterback ever to win one Super Bowl, right?

When he throws the football, the air parts for his spiral. Sure, he had 288 career interceptions, but that was only because cornerbacks were abnormally lucky. And besides, his 61,655 passing yards and 442 touchdowns more than made up for his gunslingin' mistakes. Favre is great, OK? There will never be another quite like him.

Unless he comes back for an ill-advised encore.

As much as I enjoyed Favre 1.0, I do not want to see Favre 2.0. But it seems apparent that it will happen now. Just four months after announcing his retirement, the buzz of a Favre comeback is louder than ever.

There is too much smoke to ignore. Every day brings a new report. I fully believe Favre will play next season, and I think it is awfully selfish of him to do this to the Green Bay Packers.

The Packers have moved on. Aaron Rodgers is ready to be an NFL starting quarterback. He has prepared all offseason for his moment, and the Packers are a good team even without Favre. Now that Favre supposedly has that "itch" to play, he is almost forcing the Packers either to get rid of him or dramatically alter their plans to squeeze him back onto the team.

It really makes you wonder about the great Brett Favre's motives. It really makes you revisit those rumors that he retired out of anger in March rather than because he didn't have the hunger anymore.

I could understand if Favre sat out the 2008 season and then found the fire to play again in 2009. But now? Four months later? It is fishy. It is inappropriate. It is disappointing.

Favre seemed to make a graceful exit in March. If he comes back, it will be a graceless re-entry.

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July 7, 2008 9:32 AM

A dramatic sports year

Posted by Jerry Brewer

On Sunday, I watched the incredible Wimbledon men's final. Rafael Nadal outlasted rival Roger Federer -- the king of grass courts -- in a four-hour, 48-minute match that felt like it would never end. And that would've just been fine with me. It was amazing tennis.

On any normal sports calendar, this would go down as the finest event of the year. But 2008, only seven months old, has been the year of astonishing sports drama. As good as Nadal-Federer was, we have to wonder if this year will provide an even greater thrill.

Consider what we have witnessed already:

Perhaps the greatest upset in Super Bowl history, the New York Giants defeating the unbeaten New England Patriots with a memorable David Tyree catch sprinkled on top.

An overtime national championship game in men's college basketball, including Mario Chalmers' three-pointer to tie the game at the end of regulation.

Intrigue (and tragedy) during horse racing's Triple Crown, with Big Brown winning the first two legs and seeming like he would end a 30-year drought before finishing last in the Belmont Stakes. But during the Kentucky Derby, the sport was forced to examine itself after the death of Eight Belles.

Tiger Woods, on a left leg that needed major reconstructive surgery, winning a grueling 91-hole U.S. Open, increasing his legend.

After 22 years, the Boston Celtics returning to glory, winning the NBA title in six games, providing an unbelievable comeback in Game 4.

What's next?

The Cubs winning the World Series in an epic seven-game series?

Well, they do have the best record in the National League.

An astonishingly good Olympics?

Well, we are due for one of those classic Games.

It's been a great year so far. Except for that pro basketball thing that we don't need to mention right now.

Then again, if you are looking at this year purely for dramatic news, the Sonics' departure fits right in.

And we still have five months left. Grab your heart medicine.

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