Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A Meaningless Rock Band Post - Part 2

What do you do with a meaningless post? You follow it up with updates and responses, of course. After giving it some thought (and seeing that my list was 80% classic rock...when really 70% is plenty), I've made a couple of adjustments to my Top 10 Songs That Should Be In Rock Band list. List 2.0, again, in no particular order...except for Jungle Love. That song has just got to be in there. Anyways, the list:
  1. Steve Miller Band - Jungle Love
  2. Dream Theater - A Change of Seasons (don't tell me a 24 minute song won't work...it'll work)
  3. Finger Eleven - Paralyzer (I don't care, I like it)
  4. Ted Nugent - Stranglehold
  5. Deep Purple - Perfect Strangers
  6. Motley Crue - Kickstart My Heart
  7. Jethro Tull - Locomotive Breath
  8. Bill Withers - Use Me Up
  9. Hard-Fi - Gotta Reason (if you own FIFA '06, you know the song)
  10. Velvet Underground - Oh Sweet Nuthin'

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Wing T

While hanging out this weekend, Joe made a joke referring to the wing T offense, and I was the only person who laughed, and laughed heartily in fact. There's something particularly satisfying about getting a joke that not everyone can get. So the next time you're about to snicker at someone who made a joke involving Klingons, D20 dice, or HTML, remember how much fun you had throwing the "challenge flag" when you were drunk last Thanksgiving.

Edit: If you're interested, here's the Wikipedia article on the single wing formation, off of which the wing-T is based.

A Meaningless Rock Band Post

So here's something that's completely useless: What songs should be added to the Rock Band downloadable content list? It's a discussion you can have with friends, but forwarding the results of that discussion to the folks at Harmonix is completely useless.

Fortunately, this a blog, where I can say whatever asinine shit I want, so here goes. What follows is my top ten songs that ought to be available for download for Rock Band (excluding Led Zeppelin, who apparently aren't yet interested in joining the fray...I guess the Beatles as well, but they don't have any songs that would make my list).

In no particular order:
  1. Steve Miller Band - Jungle Love
  2. Dream Theater - A Change of Seasons (don't tell me a 24 minute song won't work...it'll work)
  3. Finger Eleven - Paralyzer (I don't care, I like it)
  4. Cream - White Room
  5. Deep Purple - Perfect Strangers
  6. Motley Crue - Kickstart My Heart
  7. Jethro Tull - Locomotive Breath
  8. INXS - Elegantly Wasted
  9. Scorpions - No One Like You
  10. Velvet Underground - Oh Sweet Nuthin'
Yeah, so what it's mostly classic & 80s rock? It's my goddamn list.

Friday, July 25, 2008

You Know What?

I'm sick of Brett Favre. Go to the Vikings, or go to the Bucs, or stay with the Packers, or stay retired. But jeez, shit or get off the pot, people. Was this just a massive plot to get people talking about football on TV/radio throughout July? If so, it's working, because there's some sort of Brett Favre talk every day, on PTI or on SportsCenter, or on the radio. It's just obscene.

Still, if he comes to the Vikings, I'll forget all of this hullabaloo and cheer him on.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Better Trade: Jeremy Shockey or Jason Taylor?

As I'm sure most of you have heard by now, the NFL has seen a couple of big moves this week. Jeremy Shockey and Jason Taylor have both been traded for similar packages this week. Shockey goes to the Saints in exchange for 2nd and 5th round picks in the 2009 draft, while Taylor heads to Washington for a 2nd rounder in 2009 and a 6th rounder in 2010. So, as always on Joe & Joe Sports, we wonder, "Who got the better deal?"

First, it's pretty fair to say the two players were acquired for roughly the same value. The Saints and Redskins figure to have similar records this season (the Skins were a game better last year), so the 2nd round picks will probably be of similar value. And between a 5th rounder this year and a 6th rounder next year, while you'd obviously rather have the 5th, the difference is mostly irrelevant. At least these two football teams have helped us out in that regard.

We'll start with the money end of things, which is often important in football. Jason Taylor will count about $8 million a year for the next two years against the salary cap (the same cost for Christian Guzman; funny how things tie together like that). Shockey, meanwhile, will make between $5 million and $6 million a year for the next three years. Both players will be on the high end of their position with regards to cap numbers (Shockey was 4th among tight ends last year, Taylor was 2nd among DEs).

It's obviously difficult to compare two players who don't play the same position, and even more difficult to compare two players on different sides of the ball. But hey, that's what I get paid (absolutely nothing) to do. So here goes: Jason Taylor was a better acquisition.

I think the three factors that you can use to evaluate any acquisition are as follows: health, production, team need. If the player is normally healthy, is a good bet for production, and the team improves itself substantially at that position, it's a good acquisition.

You can count the number of games Jason Taylor has missed over the past eight years on your tusks. That's right, zero. He's missed zero games over the past eight seasons (and you, hopefully, have zero tusks). Health: check.

As far as the kind of production you can expect from the 2006 defensive player of the year, well, he should be pretty good. Over the same eight year period discussed above, he's averaged 12.5 sacks per season, placing in the top 5 in sacks in five different seasons. He had 11 sacks last year, more than any Redskin. He's no Michael Strahan, but he's pretty damn good.

So that's health and production. Team need? The 'Skins were the second worst passing defense and had the third fewest sacks among playoff teams. Then they lost Philip Daniels for the season on the first day of training camp. I don't know of many teams that have needed a defensive end more than Washington did after that first practice. So that's the trio, health, production, team need. This move has got it all, and it looks like a very good move for my home town team.

But what about the Shockey deal? Certainly the Saints didn't get taken for a ride. Again, I'll look at health, production, and team need. The most obvious here is team need; the Saints have been absmal at the tight end position for years now. They've tried a few different guys (Boo Williams, Eric Johnson, Ernie Conwell), and all have been failures. Shockey is certain to perform better than any Saints' tight end since Hoby Brenner, a standout from the mid-80s. So we can definitely check off "team need" as something this trade addresses.

I do want to make one additional point about the "team need" aspect, though. New Orleans had the 3rd most passing yards in football last year. It might be true that the team has been lacking at tight end for a while, but it doesn't seem like the offense suffered. So while the improvement at the position is legitimate, the improvement of the unit is questionable.

Health? A little more questionable. He's never played 16 games in a season, and is coming off of a postseason where he didn't play a snap. Still, he's played in at least 14 games in five of his six seasons, and I don't think anyone would accuse him of being soft. The health isn't a sure thing, but it's football, everyone gets hurt.

Production is where Shockey is actually a little suspect. His best year was his rookie season, when he posted his career highs in yards (894) and receptions (74). He's improved his touchdown numbers (from 2 in 2002 to 7 in '05 and '06), and certainly touchdowns are important for tight ends, but he dropped back down to only 3 last year. That's not enough to pay the bills; it wasn't enough in New York, and it won't be enough in New Orleans.

As I said, I like the Taylor deal better for the Redskins, but I'll concede that the Shockey trade can turn out just as well. Shockey never seemed fully suited to the glamor and pressure of playing in New York City. He may find the fans and media in Louisiana more to his liking, and his production could improve accordingly. And, if Shockey can become as valuable as some of the other elite tight ends (Antonio Gates, Kellen Winslow), he can actually help the Saints save some money: high caliber tight ends don't get paid like high caliber wide receivers do.

Either way, both teams look to have made a big splash, and it'll be very interesting to see how things turn out as the season progresses.

The Washington Nationals: One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

The Nationals made a smart move yesterday, trading current closer Jon Rauch to the Diamondbacks for Emilio Bonifacio, an infielder prospect. A closer is never what you want to build around, and the Nationals have a few guys who fill that role anyways. "Great," I thought to myself when I saw it. "Now they can let go of some of this dead weight, like Christian Guzman."

Oh dear. It was then announced that Guzman and the Nationals had agreed to a contract extension for 2009 and 2010, paying him $16 million over those two seasons. That's right, Guzman will be making $8 million a year, almost double his current salary. Worse than that, an $8 million annual salary makes him virtually untradable for the duration of his contract, so he'll be a National throughout the next two years. Just because a guy makes the all-star team doesn't mean he deserves to be paid like an all-star. And really, Rauch was at least as deserving of an all-star spot as Guzman.

Let's look at some numbers for Guzman, just for kicks.

Career highs:
HR: 10
RBI: 59
Runs: 89

Career batting average: .268
Career on-base percentage: .305

The problem is that the Nationals still have a pretty low ceiling as far as salaries. They can't afford to make money mistakes, and giving $8 million a year to one player with no power and limited speed is a big one. Their total payroll this year is $54 million, which means Christian freakin' Guzman will be making somewhere around 15% of their entire team's budget for player salaries. That's not the key to success.

I still like the Rauch trade, but I hope the Nationals have some sort of grand plan that I'm not seeing. I loved the team when they were the Expos, and I'm trying, really trying to embrace them now that they're my hometown team. But come on fellas. Spend your money smart, or don't spend it.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Rock Band 2 Setlist

For those of you I haven't seen face-to-face recently, and who aren't on the pulse of the video game industry, here's a bit of news for you: Rock Band 2's release has been announced for September of 2008, and the setlist has been released.

A couple of the more exciting songs for me are Livin' on a Prayer, Peace Sells, Eye of the Tiger, Alive, and basically all of the 1970's songs. And of course, fans of The Office will appreciate You Oughta Know.

Update: Jason Taylor to the Redskins

Only a few hours later, my hope has become a reality: Jason Taylor was traded to the Redskins. Granted, giving up a second round pick may come back to bite them soon enough, but with a suddenly extremely depleted defensive line, and a defense still looking for its identity after the shocking loss of Sean Taylor last season, a surefire Hall of Famer like Jason Taylor seems like a worthwhile addition.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Josh Hamilton Is Still On Drugs

I got an interesting text message a few days ago. My buddy Max, in his always tactful manner, sent a text that said "There is no fuckin way josh hamilton is not on hgh", almost unquestionably due to Hamilton hitting 500 foot bombs out of Yankee Stadium during the 2008 Home Run Derby. When I received the message, I laughed it off, Max just being Max was what I thought, classic over-reaction, mixed with sarcasm, that's Max all over. But then all of a sudden it hit me, Max (whether he knew it or not) was dead on, Josh Hamilton is absolutely using performance enhancing substances, absolutely.

This is the point of the post where I say that I have never seen Josh Hamilton use performance enhancing drugs, nor do I have any sort of evidence to suggest Josh Hamilton is or ever has used performance enhancing drugs. In fact, outside of last week's text message, I have never even considered that Josh Hamilton might be using performance enhancing drugs. All that being said, I know Josh Hamilton is using performance enhancing drugs.

Here are the condensed facts (as you no doubt already know): Josh Hamilton was the #1 overall pick in 1999, because of injury and drug abuse Hamilton did not play organized baseball from 2003 until 2006 (and played only 15 minor league games in 2006), the Cubs selected Hamilton in the Rule 5 Draft and immediately sent him to Cincinnati for cash. This is when the craziness starts, Hamilton, despite only playing 15 minor league games in four years, makes the Reds team out of spring training and hits .294 with a .554 slugging percentage in 298 ABs. In the off-season Hamilton is traded to the Texas Rangers where in a little more than half a season puts up some huge stats: .310/.369/.552 with 21 HR and 95 RBI (as of the All-Star Break).

Hamilton's rebirth is the stuff of fiction novels (no, really, Bernard Malamud's The Natural). In fact, it's completely illogical that a player, regardless of physical gifts, could be completely out of baseball for four years and develop into an All-Star caliber player within two years of returning to the game. It just doesn't add up.

Let's looks at a player who compares very well to Hamilton: San Diego's Adrian Gonzalez. Gonzalez, like Hamilton, was the first overall draft pick (Hamilton in 1999 to Tampa Bay, Gonzalez in 2000 to Florida), both were drafted directly out of high school and both were first-time All-Stars in 2008. Like Hamilton, Gonzalez's first full season in the majors (2006) was a huge success, .304/362/.500 with 24 HR and 82 RBI (compared to Hamiltons .310/.367/.552 with 21 HR and 95 RBI in 93 games thus far in 2008). Unlike Hamilton, Gonzalez played in 712 professional baseball games from 2000 through 2005 , he had 2672 AB against professional pitchers, he spent a year in Rookie Ball/Low A, another year in High A, and three years between AA and AAA. Gonzalez spent five years working with professional hitting coaches, five years facing professional pitchers and five years working out in a baseball environment. Hamilton spent nearly four years doing drugs and not playing professional baseball, not working with professional coaches and not facing professional pitching... and Hamilton's first year big league numbers are across the board better than Gonzalez's. This makes no sense.

Check that, it can make sense. It can make sense if you believe that Hamilton is a supremely talented player, one that is so much more talented than good Major Leaguers (ex: Gonzalez) that he can catch and pass them by in just two years. Unfortunately, this is the exact type of thinking that dominated the steroids era. In the late '90s I believed that players could do superhuman things, I believed that Mark McGwire could hit 70 homers on skill and weight training alone, I believed that Barry Bonds could follow that feat three years later with 73 homers because of his baseball pedigree and I believed Roger Clemens could win his 7th Cy Young Award due to his legendary work ethic. I believed Ken Caminiti could have a 40 HR, 130 RBI season despite the fact that in the first 8 years of his career he never went better than 18 HR and 80 RBI. I even believed Rafael Palmeiro when he wagged his finger.

I had a lot of faith in baseball and was burned time and time again, so how can I now believe Hamilton is having a incredible, clean season when everything I have learned over the past ten years suggests otherwise? Josh Hamilton's story is one of resilience and resurrection, but just because it's a good story doesn't mean that we have to accept results that are completely illogical without the aid of performance enhancing drug. Ten years ago, I might have believed Hamilton was clean, but a lot has happened it ten years and I'm not willing to ignore those years just because it makes for a good story.

Jason Taylor to the Redskins?

Listen, I'm not one of these people who thinks Jason Taylor is the best defensive lineman of all time...what? Nobody thinks that? People just think he's among the best of our time, a class act, and a guy who can be a solid producer this year? Oh, yeah, I'm one of those people.

http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/trainingcamp08/news/story?id=3497248

It looks like the Skins may be interested, and somehow, defying all logic, they've actually got plenty of cap space to pick him up. That's the nice thing about the NFL (which is decidedly different from how the NBA works): spend a year and a half cleaning things up and any team can get into a favorable salary cap situation.

Anyways, being a Skins fan, and acknowledging that they've done very little to improve their defense this offseason, I'd be happy to see Jason Taylor join up for his swan song. Say what you will about Washington fans, the one thing they'll do as well as any other fans is embrace a new player. Hell, most Redskins fans were excited about what Mark Brunell could do with the team. I, being of sound mind and judgment, knew better, but it was nice, as it always is, to see the fans of my favorite team rally around each player. Not like Chicago, where Rex Grossman (deservedly) gets booed, or Philly, where everyone gets booed (deservedly or not).

Hopefully this'll be a quick process and we can start enjoying the brief Jason Taylor era at defensive end.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Richie Sexson? Are you serious?

Who's running the Yankees these days? Should we blame Hank or Cashman? As of this moment, I believe the deal is everything but done with Richie Sexson joining the Yankees lineup as early as this Saturday.

Out of all the players available to bolster an injured lineup, the Yankees chose Richie Sexson. The .218 batting average, .315 on-base percentage, .381 slugging percentage in 74 games this year Richie Sexson. Homeruns? Eleven, with a lovely 30 RBI. If you're looking for that crucial 9th spot in your lineup, sounds like you've found your guy.

Work has slowed down a little for me, so let me take a minute to point the Yankees in the right direction... Barry Bonds. Here's his stats from last year: 126 games, 28 HRs, 66 RBIs, .276 BA, .480 OBP, and .565 SLG. If the Yankees have any interest in scoring runs, they might want some base runners. Barry gets on base. At 42, he can still get it done. What? He hasn't played in half a season? Its great to know he's well rested and ready for work. At least bring the guy in for a work-out to see what he can do. If you want runs, you have to get players on base. This guy gets on base almost 50% of the time.

Maybe its because Bonds doesn't address the Yankees' need for a right-handed slugger to face left-handed pitching. HA... Richie Sexson... a slugger. This is, however, the only good thing I've read about Sexson all year. He's .344 BA with 5 HRs in 71 at-bats against lefties. In 2007, Bonds hit about .265 vs. LHP, but with 8 HRs in about 117 at-bats. Oh, but wait... ITS BARRY BONDS. He'll bolster the lineup PERIOD.

If Barry Bonds can still play, I can't think of a better fit. First, with an American League team. Then with a team with a bunch of pampered stars already. The media coverage might be tough, but he's going to get that regardless of where/if he lands.

Yankees, cut the crap with Sexson. You've got phone calls to make with Jeff Borris.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Marcus Camby just got traded for what?

Like most sports, the NBA is always under scrutiny from the government in order to keep safe their antitrust protection. But honestly, the flavor of socialism that permeates many professional sports these days is a bit nauseating.

The idea, of course, is parity, which is just a pretty word for "fairness." Everyone wants every team to have an equal chance to be successful, so you put a salary cap in place, since salaries are the best (and only) indicator of a particular player's value. Kirk Hinrich is "worth" $10 million. Paul Pierce is worth $18 million. But of course, it's a flawed system. Steve Francis isn't more valuable than Amare Stoudemire, or Ray Allen, or LeBron James, but he's paid more than any of them. And Andre Iguodala is playing at a level far above his $3.8 million price tag. So you get cap specialists and contract negotiators, everyone trying to squeeze as much as possible out of the cap.

But the NBA adds a twist, because they have what's called a "soft cap." That means, essentially, that you don't really have to stay under the cap; you'll just be limited in what you can do in the offseason if you're over it. So we've got a wide spread of teams, some that are over $10 million under the cap, and some that are $30+ million over. And when those teams get together to try to improve their situations, you get a trade like we've got right here: Marcus Camby goes to the Clippers, and the Nuggets get the right to swap 2nd round picks, not even in 2009, but in 2010.

"There must be more to it than that," you say suspiciously. Yes, of course there is more than that. By trading Camby, the Nuggets acquire a $10 million "trade exception," which means that the Clippers basically used their cap space as an item of value. Hence, Camby was traded in order to try to find a brighter future for the Nuggets, 2-3 years down the line.

Some people dislike the system that baseball uses, where there is no salary cap, just a luxury tax that gets redistributed to the rest of the league. Many of the same teams are competitive every year; likewise, many of the same teams are not competitive every year. And there are situations where one team will dump salary to another, sometimes even offering to pay a portion of it. But at least you can generally understand every move. Camby is a damn fine player, one of the strongest defensive players in the game. He shouldn't get traded for a Twix bar. Something's got to be wrong when that happens.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Philadelphia 76ers + Elton Brand = Conference Finals?

Now that the Elton Brand deal is official, let's investigate how the 76ers might do in the 2008-2009 season.

In 2007-2008, Philadelphia was the 7th best team in the Eastern Conference, earning them a first round matchup (and exit) against the perennial powerhouse Detroit Pistons. Certainly there's no debate that the acquisition of Brand makes them better, but how much better?

I say a lot. The 76ers now have legitimate stars at three starting positions (Andre Miller at PG, Andre Iguodala at SF, and Brand at PF), and a defensive force down low (Samuel Dalembert). If they can find a decent shooter (Willie Green probably isn't the answer), they'll have all the tools to be a contender.

Among non-playoff teams last year in the East, you could conceivably say that you expect Chicago, Miami, New Jersey, and Milwaukee to be noticeably improved. If Michael Beasley matures quickly for the Heat, they could be back in the mix, but I expect Philly to be better than all four of those teams when the season is over.

The lower-end playoff teams are pretty easy to judge. I do think that they'll be better than Atlanta, despite the fact that I love how they've built that team from the ground up, drafting talent every year and playing their best players, regardless of positions. The addition of Jermaine O'Neal makes the Raptors intriguing, but they still have nobody on the wings who can play.

Now we get to the tough ones. Washington played almost the entire season without it's best player in Gilbert Arenas, and despite my efforts to temper the enthusiasm, there's a buzz about this team in the D.C. area that hasn't been around in a while. And the Wizards have still got those three star players, with Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler to go with Arenas. Orlando's also got three stars, in Dwight Howard, Rashard Lewis, and Hedo Turkoglu. I'd realistically say this is a push, but since bloggers are supposed to be opinionated, I'll say the 76ers are above the Wizards and below the Magic, but all within 4 or 5 games of each other.

What about Cleveland? They're carried by a single superstar, with odds and ends to fill up the stat sheets, and a rookie who's not likely have more than a minimal impact. LeBron James is tremendous, and will likely carry them into the playoffs again, but as we've learned, you need more than one player to get far in these NBA playoffs. I'm actually going to bump Philadelphia above the Cavaliers as well.

Finally, we come to the upper echelon. There's no chance that Philadelphia is better than the Celtics, so let's just end that discussion right now. But what about Detroit? The Pistons have a new head coach, and their starting lineup is getting old. Richard Hamilton (who'll be 30 when the season starts) can still score, but his points per game average has slipped the past couple of seasons. The same can be said about Chauncey Billups (32) and his assists and Rasheed Wallace (34) and his attitude. The wheels have to come off this team at some point, and I think this year is as good as any. So I'm dropping the Pistons behind the Magic, behind the 76ers, and behind the Wizards and Cavaliers as well.

That makes Philadelphia the 3rd best team in the Eastern Conference in my book, behind Boston and Orlando. The alluring part of it is, if everyone's healthy, we could have four teams with three stars each in the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs, and maybe for one goddamn year we wouldn't have to hear about how much better the West is than the East.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Better Trade: Harden or Sabathia?

This week we've had two big name pitchers traded from floundering AL teams to competitive NL Central teams: CC (apparently the periods have been tossed) Sabathia from the Indians to the Brewers, and Rich Harden from the Athletics to the Cubs. Which deal figures to be a better move for the team that acquired its respective starter? Let's investigate.

Your first thought should be, "Wait, this isn't even close. Sabathia is a defending Cy Young award winner, a proven, healthy, dependable starter that could be a number one for all but a few teams (and a number three on Arizona; Webb and Haren are insane). What has Rich Harden done but gotten hurt?" And you're absolutely right. There can be no debate about who the better pitcher is; it's Sabathia, without question.

Harden is certainly pitching well right now, though, and comes at a substantially cheaper price than Sabathia. Harden (along with Chad Gaudin) was acquired for Matt Murton, Sean Gallagher, and Eric Patterson (three major-league ready but unexceptional young players) and 2007 supplemental first rounder (#48 overall) Josh Donaldson. Yes, one of those players might develop into something, but the Cubs gave up essentially nothing to get one of the most impressive pitchers in baseball this year.

Meanwhile, to acquire Sabathia, the Brewers had to give up three legitimate prospects, including Matt LaPorta, the jewel of their farm system, and Rob Bryson, arguably their 2nd-best minor league pitching prospect. LaPorta has been playing in AA Huntsville, but with an OPS near 1.000 and the dearth of power in Cleveland's lineup, don't be surprised if LaPorta is starting in a corner outfield spot for the Indians by Labor Day.

So who made the better deal? Despite what they gave up, the Brewers still did the right thing. There's not a ton of room in their outfield with Corey Hart and Ryan Braun locked into two spots, and their need for another solid pitcher was much more severe than the Cubs. Sabathia also gives Milwaukee another left-handed starter, and in fact one who dominates left-handed hitters.

And if you're wondering whether the Brewers faithful are behind the deal, have a look at this article. Notice how LaPorta isn't even mentioned until three-quarters of the way down the page? And the other prospects aren't even mentioned by name.

One final thought. Sabathia seems like a perfect fit for the Brewers, doesn't he? The portly pitcher joining the team with big Prince Fielder, and daily sausage races? It just feels right.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

To Every Washington Sports Commentator Who Can't Stop Saying Nice Things about Antawn Jamison: Stop.

Listen, I like Antawn Jamison. I think he's a nice player who can score and rebound from the power forward spot, and I think the Wizards got a pretty good deal on him at $12.5 million per for four years. But he's not a superstar, and folks need to just calm down about him.

Yesterday, on my drive home, I heard the Sports Reporters talk about Jamison's value and continue to cite, over and over again, that he's a 20-and-10 guy (that's points and rebounds for those of you scoring at home). And he was. Last year, he was one of only four players to average over 20 points and 10 rebounds a game.

But that was the first time in his 10-year career. His career averages are 19.6 and 7.9. He's never had more than 45 blocks in any season (or roughly one every other game), and doesn't shoot a great clip from the floor. He does get to the free throw line at a decent rate, and is a solid outside shooter. But he's not a superstar. Valid comparison players for Jamison are Lamar Odom, David West, and Mehmet Okur. Good players, players you'd rather have than a lot of other guys. Not superstars.

But to listen to the guys on Sports Reporters, you'd think we just re-signed Karl Malone. Their analysis of Gilbert Arenas, while equally praising, was at least more valid. They acknowledged Arenas' recent injury troubles, and that his contract would be an albatross if he crashed, but seemed to believe that the investment was necessary in order to give the Wizards the best possible team this season.

That might be true. With Elton Brand seemingly likely to rejoin the Clippers after their addition of Baron Davis, the number of players more valuable than Arenas who may be available would drop down to Arenas' jersey number. While I'm not crazy about investing a ton of money into a guy who's missed most of the past two playoffs with injury and who is a generally quirky and unpredictable guy, at this point, with the Wizards having virtually no room under the salary cap after the Jamison signing, re-upping Arenas probably gives the Wizards their best chance to succeed.

That said, I don't see this team becoming a top-tier Eastern Conference team without major strides by Andray Blatche and a solid showing by the just-drafted JaVale McGee. I'm not crazy about trading second round pick Bill Walker to Boston for cash, but I trust Ernie Grunfeld as much as I trust any personnel man in sports, so presumably he knows what he's doing.

Here's hoping that Jamison's a late bloomer, and we've actually got a 20 and 10 guy.

Top 500 Songs - Dave Matthews Band

This was always going to be the hardest of my band lists, because I like so many of DMB's songs, and have liked them so differently over...