CLEAR AS DAY; TURTURRO’S PLAN; MCNABB CAN THANK REID

April 7, 2010

Bob Molinaro, of HamptonRoads.com, put the Bosox-Yankees rivalry in proper perspective.
“There’s no arguing the marquee value of a prime-time game between the Yankees and Red Sox on ESPN2, but let’s not mistake what went on Sunday night for Opening Day.
Opening Day is what happens this afternoon in places like Washington, Chicago, Texas, Kansas City, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh.
By definition, a night game like the one played Sunday at Fenway Park doesn’t qualify as Opening Day.
Nitpicking? I don’t think I am. Because this is about more than semantics.
Anyone who has attended an Opening Day game knows what I mean.
After a dark winter inside a man cave watching indoor sports like basketball and ice hockey, there is nothing quite like walking into a baseball park bathed in bright sunlight.
I can’t tell you who won or what went on at all the Opening Days I’ve attended, but what always comes back to me are memories of the welcoming sun bouncing off seats, adding shimmer to the outfield grass and warming the back of my neck.
A good Opening Day experience is enough to make you forget for a moment what awaits: a long, slow slog toward postseason play. Floodlights are fine for
all the rest, but they don’t do the trick on Opening Day, when the sun is more than just a source of heat and light; it’s a symbol.
Baseball people – traditionalists at heart – know this, but ESPN gets what ESPN wants. Sunday night, though, even the Opening Day purist in me understood
that baseball fans were being well served.
ESPN, the complaint goes, would cover only the Yankees and Red Sox if it could get away with it. Like the seventh-inning stretch, griping about ESPN’s
Northeast bias has become a baseball custom.
The ratings, though, tell a different story.
ESPN is in the business of attracting eyeballs to the screen. And nothing in baseball captures fans like a game between the Yankees and Red Sox. Nothing else comes close. That includes in Hampton Roads.
Over the winter, The Pilot conducted a readership survey involving a relatively large sample of customers in order to gauge the interests of people who frequent our sports pages.
When they were asked which big-league baseball team they followed the most, the overwhelming answer was the Yankees.
By a 2-to-1 margin, the Yankees were more popular in our survey than the second-place Red Sox. The Orioles and Mets tied for third.
Obviously, among local fans, the Orioles enjoy a geographical advantage over the Yankees. It’s a lot easier to get to O’s games. Plus, we’ve been getting the
Birds on cable for years.
Years of losing, though, is what it’s been for Baltimore, while the Yankees continue to be the Yankees.
During the 38 years the Tides were their minor-league affiliate, the Mets cultivated a healthy following in Hampton Roads. More recently, David Wright, the Mets’ best player, has become a local legend.
But the Yankees and Derek Jeter trump all that. By a much smaller margin, so do the Red Sox. At least they do with the people who took the survey.
That represents an older demographic, to be sure, but ESPN wouldn’t be saturating its programming schedule with Yankees and Red Sox games if fans of all ages weren’t attracted to the teams.
If the appeal of the Bronx Bombers to Pilot readers comes as a revelation to some of us at the paper, maybe it’s because we never bothered to ask before.
But in the absence of a local big-league team, it makes sense, doesn’t it? People are attracted to champions.
Isn’t that as clear as day?”

He had a brief taste of baseball stardom by doing a show called “I Breathe Baseball” for the MLB Network last season.
Now at the start of this baseball season (and now that his beloved Yankees are holders of the crown), Nick Turturro wants more.
He wants to save the game.
Not that baseball is in trouble or anything, but Turturro knows that the game needs something more: Him.
“They need a guy like me to come in and loosen up the sport,” Turturro said while walking to down the streets of Boston. “Humanize it.”
Turturro said today’s players act like movie stars.
“You can’t touch them. The fans need to see that the players are still really kids inside,” he said. “A-Rod, he’s like a robot. They should let me come in and
loosen him up, give him a massage or something.”
Last season Turturro was able to bring the kid back out of Johnny Damon by playing him in a game of stickball on the streets of New York. In Turturro’s
mind, it shouldn’t stop there.
“Albert Pujols? He’s another one. I’d take him dancing. I’d take him to a Dominican club, make him do the merengue, get back to his roots. See if he still has that DR rhythm,” Turturro said. “I love Ozzie Guillen. He’s what the game needs. But I’d take Ozzie out for some Cuban food. Chill with him in his element and talk baseball with him. See how he really feels.”
Turturro said baseball needs to bring the fun back.
“The game is so clouded with steroids, juice, and everything else,” he said. “I want to bring the players back to earth and the game back to the days where
you’d see superstars like Willie Mays in the neighborhood, playing stick ball or wiffle ball, connecting with the people.
“The game is the game and these players think that they are bigger than the game when they are not! It’s still a kid’s game. They just forgot. That’s why
baseball needs me. To come in and remind the players of this, to bring them back to being human.”

Paul Domowitch follows the “Philly Iggles” for The Philly Daily News” and gave reasons for Philly sending a “Prime-Time QB” to the Redskins.

“Andy Reid’s willingness to trade Donovan McNabb to the Washington Redskins tells us a lot more about the kind of man he is than it does about his football  judgment.
Once Reid made the decision to put the seven-time Pro Bowl quarterback up for sale several weeks ago and begin the Kevin Kolb era, his top priority was
getting the very best deal possible. At the same time, he also wanted to make sure he did right by McNabb.
They spent 11 years together, and while they never managed to collaborate on a Super Bowl title, they accomplished a great deal. Eight playoff appearances.
Six division titles. Five NFC Championship Game appearances. He owed him.
Reid had a plan when he arrived in Philadelphia in January of 1999, and that plan started with a quarterback. For all of McNabb’s flaws, the truth is that if the Eagles hadn’t acquired him with the second overall pick in the ’99 draft, Reid probably would’ve been fired a long time ago, and Eagles fans wouldn’t even have those five conference title-game appearances to complain about right now.
“Donovan and I have been together for a while and have developed a great relationship,” Reid said Sunday night after the Eagles traded McNabb to the
Redskins for the 37th overall pick in this year’s draft, and a conditional third-round pick in 2011. “I’m not trying to sugarcoat this. I know it’s tough on
him (to leave). You can’t erase the last 11 years. We had 11 great years together.”
He could’ve traded him somewhere else, maybe even for a little bit more than he got from the Redskins. Could’ve sent him to Oakland or Buffalo or another
AFC team where McNabb wouldn’t have been nearly as happy, but where a trade would’ve been a lot less likely to come back and bite the Eagles coach in the butt.
But Reid has to look at himself in the mirror in the morning. He never could’ve shipped a man who has done so much for him and for the Eagles organization to a dysfunctional franchise such as the Raiders. It would’ve been the football equivalent of sticking your mother in a state-run nursing home “We wanted to do what was best for us and best for him,” Reid said.
The fact that the Eagles kept McNabb informed through his agent, Fletcher Smith, the last few weeks clearly tells you that Reid wanted to do his quarterback a solid.
Yes, he is absolutely taking a huge, huge risk by sending McNabb to a division rival; a much bigger risk than he took three years ago when he traded away his first-round pick in the ’07 draft to another division rival, the Cowboys, in a deal that allowed Dallas to grab pass-rushing linebacker Anthony Spencer and resulted in the Eagles taking Kolb with the 36th overall pick.
No ifs, ands, or buts about it. This deal instantly makes the Redskins better, and only time will tell what giving the Eagles’ starting quarterback job to Kolb makes the Eagles. Maybe it makes them better, too, maybe it doesn’t. This much is clear: If Kolb struggles next season and the Redskins make a deep playoff run with McNabb, more than a few talk-show callers are going to be calling Reid the village idiot. Check that. I’m sure they already are.
Reid acknowledged the risk Sunday night.
“You can’t say we didn’t think about it,” he said. “We did. But we thought it was best for Donovan. At the same time, we got what we felt was good
compensation for him. But (Washington) was a good place for Donovan.
“Are they a better team with Donovan? Absolutely. We’ll be seeing them a couple of times this season and we’ll see how it goes. I think we’ll be a pretty
good team, too.”
In defending the trade, Reid pointed out that “you’ve seen this before” in the league, meaning trading a quarterback within a division. The New England
Patriots did it in 2002 when they sent Drew Bledsoe to the Bills. But that was different.
While Bledsoe was three years younger than the 33-year-old McNabb at the time of the trade, his successor, Tom Brady, already had proven he could play, leading the Patriots to victory in Super Bowl XXXVI. Brady would go on to lead the Patriots to two more Super Bowl crowns, including one over the Eagles.
The Bills never won more than nine games in Bledsoe’s three seasons in Buffalo.
With Sunday’s deal and the Friday trade of cornerback Sheldon Brown and linebacker Chris Gocong for fourth- and fifth-round picks, the Eagles now have five of the first 87 picks and seven of the first 121 in the April 22-24 draft, which many are calling the deepest in two decades. They still have to use those picks wisely, but they certainly have some impressive ammunition.
As for McNabb, he gets a fresh start in a new town playing for a coach — Mike Shanahan — who won two Super Bowl titles in the ’90s with another
thirty-something quarterback, John Elway. Beats the hell out of playing for the Raiders or the Bills.
“Donovan would’ve played anywhere because that’s the kind of person he is,” Reid said.
And the fact that he’ll be playing just 130 miles down I-95 for another NFC East team tells you the kind of person Reid is.”

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