It's already mid-July, which means my list of disgruntled readers is flowing very smoothly. To compare and contrast the levels of angry readers, check out my early summer mailbag.
In this edition of the mailbag, we tackle James Harrison (sorry, I couldn't resist), MLB power rankings and of course, the NBA lockout.
I like Harrison as much as a Cowboy can like a Steeler, but the over the top I don't care is a bit much. He cared on those practice squads guaranteed!
-- Danny Fowler -- Dallas, TX
JS: Harrison is a terrific player, no question about it. The fact that he did it the hard way (undrafted free agent) speaks to an incredible work ethic. The question I think we all have now is if he is becoming more of a detriment than an asset to this team. Speaking against teammates -- especially your two-time Super Bowl winning quarterback and star running back -- is a major no-no. He can say his comments were taken out of context all he wants, but really, the fact that he went that far tells you all you need to know. Harrison's act is not unlike former Steeler stud LB Joey Porter, who Art Rooney and company clearly grew tired of before electing not to re-sign him four years ago. There is a Steeler way of doing things and this is not it. Now, Ben Roethlisberger hasn't exactly been a model citizen either, but when you reach three Super Bowls in seven years, you have more runway.
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Thanks for a greatly information lockout column.
Question: What happens behind the scenes with the owners? For example, how many owners would have to look at the latest proposal from the players and say, "Screw the lockout, I'm willing to take this proposal" in order for the owners to end the lockout?
-- Mike O'Brien -- Chicago
JS: Behind the scenes the owners are wondering when Billy Hunter is going to stop filling the minds of players with inaccurate information. Hunter is simply not a leader. The players aren't stupid, but they're not lawyers either. They rely on Hunter to provide them with the correct information, so when he tells them that he believes the owners are inflating their losses, everybody loses. I spent an hour with deputy commissioner Adam Silver last week. The league simply does not have an enduring business model. What other business continues to operate under such dire financial circumstances? There would have to be a majority vote for the owners to do that, but unfortunately it's just not that simple. At least 22 franchises are losing money, so even if one or two owners (e.g. Mark Cuban) agree in principal with the players union, it won't matter. As I've said before, the two sides are extremely far apart. At best, we'll have a 50-game season, and I'm not even sure that will happen.
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What was the bigger moment for USA Soccer: Donovan's goal vs. Algeria, or Wambach's goal vs. Brazil?
-- Bil -- Danville, PA
JS: Great question Bil. I think you can look at this a number of ways, but I'm going to say the former, Donovan's goal, and here's why:
Looking back in American sports history, the only other example of a victory for Team USA that galvanized this nation so much was 'The Miracle on Ice' in 1980. Oddly enough, neither sport is considered elite in this nation's lexicon of baseball, basketball and football, but both played crucial roles. While Lake Placid may never be replaced in terms of historical importance, Donovan hit a chord that most Americans didn't think was possible. Don’t take anything away from Abby Wambach and the women however. 1999 was the last time that women's soccer mattered. The names Mia Hamm and Brandi Chastain truly meant something. The key for women's soccer is to STAY relevant. Any miraculous moment can be the flavor of the month, but time has a funny way of eroding sensational performances. The American men seem to have held at least a part of that momentum one year later; I'm not so sure the women can do the same.
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I tried to stomach your power rankings today and you really should be more responsible in your assessments and DO YOUR HOMEWORK!!! How do you have the D'backs ahead of the World Champions?!! And how do you forget the Giants 5th starter Ryan Voglesong? The last time I checked they were two and a half games ahead of the 2nd place snakes. Then you have the Cardinals ahead of the Giants and Texas? What is the matter with you? It just goes to show that you don't know the game of baseball or the heart of a champion. The Giants should have earned your respect for being defending World Champs! Also here's another secret ... they have the second best record in the NL and the 4th best overall record in Baseball despite all of the injuries they have sustained. When are you so-called baseball experts going to get it ... pitching + defense + heart - belief = World Champions and 31 other teams are looking up to the San Francisco Giants. At least give my team credit for being defending W.S Champs that should give them some points given a equal record, but who really cares what you think anyway, you probably never played the game and you don't know what you are talking about!! The Giants should be no lower that 5th. Boston-Philly-NYY-Atl-SF-Milw (Atl only because they sweep us at home), the Giants have beat St. Louis 5 of 7. You obviously think of hitting first, but baseball as with all of sports is defense-defense-defense WINS CHAMPIONSHIPS!!!
--Stephen Nash -- Antioch, CA
JS: A spirited reply which as much as I like, I also take with a grain of salt. Clearly, a massive Giants homer here, but you do make some good points nevertheless. I have given your team plenty of credit for being defending champs, but that has very little to do with THIS season. As well as San Fran has played, the bottom line is that it owns a dreadful division and doesn’t have enough offense to sustain itself without Buster Posey. Pitching and defense does win championships, but you must have at least some hitting as well. Ranking 27th in runs scored and 26th in slugging isn't "some hitting," but rather zero. Pablo Sandoval lost a ton of weight and is once again a productive hitter, but when he has just eight home runs and 31 RBI and yet is perhaps your most feared hitter, you aren't going back-to-back. And, when your leading home-run man (Aubrey Huff) is yet to reach double digits, how can I possibly rank the Giants in the top five? Seriously, how?
Plus, check out my brand new HuffPost sports blog, The Schultz Report, for a fresh and daily outlook on all things sports.
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