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Minnesota Vikings all-time leading rusher RB Robert Smith has decided to retire. This is bad news to the Vikes and even worse news for Fantasy leagues everywhere. I'm not saying that Smith is irreplaceable, but he has consistently put up great Fantasy numbers and the talent at RB is very thin. The news caught many pundits off guard as to why a legitimate star would pass up the big free agency payday. But it didn't catch anyone who knows Smith off guard. The former Ohio State star, who turns 28 next month, has always marched to his own drumbeat. He's the same guy that sat out a year at OSU and was still the Viking's 21st pick overall in the 1993 NFL Draft. He has repeatedly stated that he intends to be a medical doctor once he finished his playing days. Reportedly, he had been taking medical school classes at OSU during the off seasons. The knock on Smith has always been his health. He had his third knee operation last week. Despite the announcement, there has been speculation that Smith would return, similar to Barry Sanders' retirement in 1999. Don't look for Smith to come back to the NFL.

Speaking of retirement, Dallas Pro-Bowl QB Troy Aikman should retire. The record-setting quarterback is on his way to setting a record for concussions, not a memorable stat--no pun intended. He played only 11 games in 2000, passing for a paltry 7 TDs. He had a great career, which makes it difficult to walk away at 34 years old, but scrambling your noodle permanently is definitely worse. Similarly, Steve Young thankfully walked away before the 2000 season. Aikman, who has made some good coin over the years, can find work as a TV analyst or even a coach. Do the right thing, Troy. Walk away intact. 

Hot Stove News

Baseball's powers-that-be have directed umpires to call the high strike in the 2001 season. This is not the first time that strike zone was "expanded" to the actual rule book definition. According to Major League Baseball's Official Rules:

"The STRIKE ZONE is that area over home plate, the upper limit of which is a horizontal line at the midpoint between the top of the shoulders and the top of the uniform pants, and the lower level is a line at the hallow beneath the knee cap. The Strike Zone shall be determined from the batter's stance as the batter is prepared to swing at a pitched ball."

If you feel that definition is anywhere near reality, call me so that I can refer you to someone that is Board Certified in mental health. Sure, the definition is a moving target from player to player. But the issue most people have with the strike zone is not the height as much as the width, and the plate is a FIXED WIDTH!

In any case, IF the "new" strike zone is enforced, some pitchers could really benefit. Pitchers that utilize the high fastball, affectionately know as the "high heat," such as Pedro Martinez, Roger Clemens, Bartolo Colon, and Curt Schilling already get strikes called at this altitude. Ironically, these are already some of the game's best pitchers. It appears that this change will only increase the talent gap between these high-flyers and the mere mortals.

Damaged Goods

Chicago general manager Ken Williams' phone may not ring for a while. The ChiSox shipped pitcher Mike Sirotka to Toronto last month in a six-player deal for lefty David Wells. Bad news is that Sirotka has a torn labrum in his pitching shoulder and could miss the entire season. Williams contends that he disclosed Sirotka's medical condition prior to agreeing to the trade. To make matters worse, reports indicate that Mike Williams, a single A pitcher the Blue Jays received in the SAME deal, has arm problems. The Blue Jays will certainly get some sort of additional compensation. This sort of crap hurts the entire league.

Locker Room is written by Michael Skordeles

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