Modell's football team is finally going to the Super Bowl. I know
that true fans are outraged and disgusted by this senseless assault
on loyalty and decency. Trust me, I'm a native Clevelander! No one
reviles Modell more than Clevelanders. And all of this after last
year's "Gypsy Bowl" where BOTH Super Bowl teams had
we must take a step back to reality. We can't always think with our
hearts. Regardless of what we think of "Artie," the Ravens
are a good football team with arguably one of the best defenses of
all time. The Ravens defense shattered the NFL record this season by
allowing just 165 points in 16 games, 20 points fewer than the 1985
Chicago Bears or even Pittsburgh's famed "Steel Curtain."
How can you deny a team that held Oakland's #1 rated rushing offense
to just 24 yards on 17 carries, averaging just 1.4 yards per carry?
the other side, Jim Fassel's gutsy guarantee that the Giants would
make the playoffs started it all. Since the fateful guarantee, the
"G-Men" have been on a 6-game winning streak. Then comes
the 41-0 win versus the Minnesota Vikings in the biggest rout in NFC
championship history to get to the Super Bowl.
just hope that Fassel's Giants can out-fairytale the Ravens for the
sake of decency.
agent season is pretty much over. There are probably only two or
three remaining free agents that have any real Fan value. Relievers
John Wetteland and Rick Aguilera are the biggest, with SS Kevin
Stocker and inconsistent OF Henry Rodriguez pulling up the rear.
Spin: Since most of the free agent moves are finished, now is the
time to get reacquainted with what free agents have settled into new
teams. Find an AP free agent signing list or visit Sports
Illustrated's list at their website.
David Cone, and his five World Series rings, will not be in Yankee
pinstripes in '01. Instead, Cone will compete for a fifth spot in the
Red Sox rotation with Tomo Okha, Paxton Crawford, Tim Wakefield, Pete
Schourek and Sun-Woo Kim. Boston's first four starters are Pedro
Martinez, Frank Castillo, Rolando Arrojo, and Hideo Nomo.
Spin: If the Yankees didn't make an offer to Cone, neither should
you. Cone has a 184-116 record and a 3.40 ERA over a 15-year career
but struggled last season, going 4-14 with a 6.91 ERA in 155 innings.
He did not start in the Yankees post season, making just two relief
appearances. We all hate the Yankees, but no one argues that they are
best at judging talent. When was the last time the Yanks made a
mistake on a player? I can't think of any recently.
Yankees did, however, sign reliever Ramiro Mendoza to a one-year,
$1.6 million deal. The 28-year-old right-hander was 7-4 with a 4.25
ERA in 9 starts last season. Mendoza was headed for arbitration prior
to the signing (see "Playing Chicken" below). In a similar
move, the Astros signed breakout OF Richard Hidalgo to a four-year,
$32 million deal. The 25-year-old center fielder set career highs
last year, hitting .314 with 44 homers and 122 RBIs. Fan Spin: Keep
an eye on this kid--he'll go early in the draft.
the "show-me-some-love" category, slugger Sammy Sosa and
the Cubs are said to be having "constructive" meetings.
Both sides agreed to keep negotiations private but there is no
timetable for getting a deal done. The Cubs need to sign Sammy and
build around him or deal him to someone before he turns into a
pumpkin in that cruddy lineup. With Mark Grace gone to the
Diamondbacks, Sammy has no one hitting in front of him. Fan Spin:
Sosa's value continues to fall thanks to the Cubbies front office
tip of the hat to Tribe GM John Hart for his coup to get OF Juan
Gonzales for $10 million, which is $7 million per year, less than the
offer Gonzales turned down in Detroit. Pundits are calling "Juan
Gon" the second best free agent signing this off-season-- ahead
of Boston's signing of OF Manny Ramirez.
are 103 major leaguers eligible to file for arbitration. Three days
after the filing deadline, players and teams exchange proposed
salaries with hearings scheduled for the first three weeks of
February. The players can only sign with their current team. During
this month of waiting, teams usually come to their senses and sign
the players for a negotiated salary prior to arbitration hearings. Of
the players eligible for arbitration, Yankees SS Derek Jeter is
highest profile. Expect to see the Yankees ink him for a long-term
contract before it comes to a hearing.
Room is written by Michael Skordeles