Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Sports Update: Good God, the Royals have actually made a couple of smart deals to help them out down the stretch. They're just a game back of Chicago, and they've picked up Brian Anderson from the Indians, who is a competent No. 3 or so starting pitcher (ERA 3.71) and who beat the Rangers last night, and they got former Yankees All-Star outfielder Rondell White from the Padres for two lousy minor leaguers. White has the big bat that they need so badly. This will allow them to bench Ken Harvey, the Royals' worst regular player, move Raul Ibanez to first base, stick White in left field, and let Aaron Guiel play full-time in right. Guiel is on a hot streak, he's having what's clearly a career year, but you ride a guy who's playing as well as he is right now. Mike Sweeney and Carlos Beltran are back in the lineup. Kudos to General Manager Allard Baird, who's not nearly as big a moron as we all thought he was, and to Manager Tony Pena, who took an awful 2002 team and turned it into a pennant contender. Pena is clearly the American League Manager of the Year. And wait till next year, when they've got two hot pitching prospects (Gobble and Greinke) and another big outfield bat (DeJesus) ready to come up from Triple-A.

More Big Sports News: I have relented and am willing to give FC Barcelona another chance. It's hard to turn your back on a team that you've rooted for during fifteen years like I have for the Barca. They have done several things that are making me change my mind.

1) They got rid of obnoxious moron Joan Gaspart as club president and elected competent and well-behaved Joan Laporta.
2) They're getting rid of the Argentinian contingent who made so much noise talking radical leftist politics last season. Sorin, Bonano, and Riquelme are all gone. Saviola is staying, but he's the one who kept quiet.
3) They are accepting their punishment of a two-game closing of their stadium for the disgraceful pig-head throwing incident last year. No more whining.
4) They have announced that they will no longer tolerate the actions of their radical hooligans, the Boixos Nois. Until this season, not only did Barca allow them to raise hell in the stands, they let them in free and even gave them monetary subsidies. No more.
5) They hired much-respected Frank Rijkaard as coach and got rid of Milosevic-supporting Serbian Fascist Radomir Antic. Frank is the first black coach in Barca history and he was one of AC Milan's legendary Duch trio from the early '90s, along with Gullit and Van Basten, and he's a Cruyffist, too. He might be the first black coach ever in Spanish soccer, I don't know.
6) They didn't blow lots of money on crappy players this off-season--they used to be so arrogant that they figured they could just throw money around paying millions of euros for overrated players and they'd win anyway. This off-season they spent their big cash on Ronaldinho, who's worth the money, and some small cash on pedestrian players like a goalie and a couple of defensemen who are actually both competent and young.
7) They've been punished for their hubris with last year's sixth-place finish.
8) You've just got to hate Real Madrid and their high-dollar Beckham circus. Since nothing pisses off a Madrid fan more than Barcelona's success, I have to root for Barcelona by default.
9) I remember the early-nineties glory days with Bakero and Beguiristain and Koeman and Laudrup and Stoichkov and Eusebio and Zubi and Guardiola. That was a team you had to love. They had real class, Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams and Jackie Robinson class. Hating Barca, like I've been doing for the last nine months, is betraying the memory of the spirit that team had.

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