Sunday Quick Shots: White Sox excel at free-agent bargain shopping
The White Sox will never be what they want to be until their minor league system stops looking as barren as the Cubs. Still, they’ll at least contend as long as Kenny Williams retains his touch at the free-agent discount rack.
Whether it’s signing players (Jermaine Dye, A.J. Pierzynski, Alexei Ramirez, Scott Podsednik, Orlando Cabrera, Esteban Loaiza, etc.), or taking other team’s high-priced players at a discount (Jim Thome), Williams cleans up each winter. He did so again at $3 million each for J.J. Putz (40 saves, 1.38 ERA three years ago) and Juan Pierre (. 308 last year with 30 steals). The archrival Twins kill the Sox with star power (Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Joe Nathan), but the Sox never have dead spots in their lineup, while the Twins trot out two or three of the worst hitters in baseball.
Voters get Heisman all wrong
The more than 150 Heisman voters who cast their electronic ballots before four top candidates went head-to-head last week should have their vote taken away. Early voting is the only explanation for how Colt McCoy, awful in Texas’ two biggest games, received 203 first-place votes and finished a close third. All Heisman voters should be ashamed. Nebraska’s Ndamukong Suh should have been the clear winner. If the most dominant defensive player in 20 years can’t win in a year when all the favorites stubbed their toes, the award for college football’s “most outstanding player” is a joke.
The SEC stands alone
No wonder the Big Ten can’t win a BCS title. Alabama had three times as many first-team all-Americans as the Big Ten (one), Pac-10 (one) and Big East (zero) combined. Yet it’s not nearly as lopsided as the All-American count makes it look. The SEC (11) and Big 12 (seven) had 18 of the 25 picks, but Boise State has won as many BCS bowls (one) the last six years as every Big 12 team combined except Texas (Kansas won one) and Utah has won twice as many. Oklahoma is 0-5 in BCS bowls the last six years.
The SEC stands alone in college football. The Big Ten is no worse than the Big 12 or Pac-10 and well above the ACC and Big East.
Scared of 4th down
Football writers may be even more conservative than coaches. ESPN’s John Clayton, perhaps the league’s most respected reporter, called coaches “fourth-down crazy.”
Actually, the 407 fourth-down attempts through 12 games is virtually identical to the 2007 rate and a 10-percent rise from last year. Also, Clayton praised the Colts for going for it on fourth-and-4 from the Broncos’ 34 with a 14-0 lead, but wrote “it was too early” for Denver, behind by the same score, to go for it on fourth-and-1 from the Colts’ 41. Now that’s crazy. The Colts didn’t score after Denver’s try failed.
By the way, if Green Bay doesn’t win in the playoffs, it might be because Mike McCarthy is too conservative. The Packers are last in the NFL in fourth-down conversions. Last week’s fourth-and-3 conversion against Chicago was only their second of the season.
Notre Dame won’t cut corners
Some Web sites, such as bleacherreport.com, contend Notre Dame “will lower its academic standards” with Brian Kelly as coach. I doubt it. Even if the Irish relax their admission standards, that’s not the same as dropping their academic standards. Tony Rice, the quarterback of Notre Dame’s last national championship team, was one of the first two Prop 48 players at Notre Dame, but he graduated in four years. Notre Dame will always value the student part of student-athlete. But you can do that and still give a marginal qualifier or two a chance to show he can cut it.
Rockford Register Star assistant sports editor Matt Trowbridge’s Quick Shots on Sports appear Sundays. He can be reached at (815) 987-1383 email@example.com.