After Editor-in-Chief Bobby Olivier opened up the season with a win, he’s asking the questions in the second installment of Around the Dorm. WTSR Sports Director Mike Leatherwood and Correspondents Mike McLoughlin and Andrew Amadeo will sound off on the future of Miguel Cabrera, which NBA team will be top dog in the East and whether or not Wade Phillips deserved the contract extension
1. Detroit Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera has been in a rehab facility for alcoholism after blowing a 0.26 only hours before a crucial game against the White Sox last October. Cabrera says he’s turned his life around. Do you buy it, and what are your thoughts on Cabrera being three times over Michigan’s legal limit on a $152 million contract?
ML: Even though Miguel Cabrera hasn’t been the most reliable and dedicated player in the major leagues, I’m buying him turning his life around. Everybody deserves a second chance whether or not you are making $25,000 per year or $25 million per year. We all make mistakes and this happens. He willingly checked into rehab center. If he didn’t care or want to change his life, he never would have admitted he had a problem, let alone check himself into rehab. Granted, Cabrera was wrong and there is never an excuse to be partying before a big game, but let’s give the guy a second chance.
MM: While drinking and driving is never good whether you’re on a $152 million contract, or just an average guy on the street, it does not mean the Tigers should be concerned about his behavior. He’s a 26-year-old with a lot of money, and one is bound to have a crazy night or two. The bothersome part is that he was drunk so close before a game, and then went 0-4 in that critical game later that night. I believe him when he says he has turned his life around, because making a mistake with alcohol seems easy for someone his age with that kind of money. If he does it again, however, it will be a real problem for the Tigers the same way it will be a problem for the New York Yankees if Joba Chamberlain gets another DUI. Bottom line, everyone deserves a second chance, but if you screw up again it’s less forgivable.
AA: My thoughts are that Miguel Cabrera can do anything he wants as long as he is legally allowed to play in the games and stays healthy. He has a $152 million contract because of his stellar play on the baseball field, not because of his outstanding credentials off the field. Plaxico Burress and Gilbert Arenas committed crimes that took them off of their respective fields and hurt their teams. Miguel Cabrera is in the top-10 in the American League for home runs, RBIs and batting average. Not many other players can do that. As long as his numbers stay strong, and he can play healthy, all is well in Detroit. Keep him in a program for his drinking and get him the help he needs, but do not overreact or get him upset. Keep your franchise player, who also happens to be one of the best in the league, happy and healthy.
BO: You all basically said that Cabrera deserves a second chance. I have to give Andrew the 3 points here because if Cabrera can continue to produce at that level, he should be allowed to do what he wants. The two Mikes each get 1.5 for similar answers and names.
2. Midway through the NBA season, the Atlanta Hawks are breathing down the Boston Celtics’ necks for a No. 2 seed. Will they make the jump by the end of the season and maybe even overtake Cleveland for the top seed in the East?
ML: The Atlanta Hawks have been the feel good story so far in the NBA and as the season progresses, I think it will continue. The Hawks have a great mix of young talent and veteran presence, which any good team needs. The Celtics on the other hand have some injury issues with Kevin Garnett and his knee. I don’t think they are the same without him and I see the Hawks having a good shot at taking the No. 2 seed. However, I don’t think they can overtake the Cleveland Cavaliers. LeBron James has too much talent around him, not to mention he’s just the best player in basketball. I’ll give the Hawks a good shot at the two seed, but nothing more.
MM: I do not think the Hawks have what it takes to pass the Cavaliers for the No. 1 seed. Cleveland is a much more complete team, and perform well both at home and on the road. The Hawks, on the other hand, are a mere 10-9 on the road, and in order to overtake the Cavaliers they would need to greatly improve that mark. The Celtics are another story. If Garnett can not play at a high level coming back from his injury, they may not have the firepower to remain at number two. Ray Allen is scoring less PPG than he has any year of his career, outside of his rookie season, and with Garnett and Rasheed Wallace nicked up, they may be looking up in the standings at the Hawks sooner rather than later.
AA: The Atlanta Hawks are a very good Eastern Conference NBA team. The team has a solid inside-outside game with Mike Bibby and Joe Johnson along with Al Horford and Josh Smith. They have a future superstar in Johnson and a great defensive star in Smith. Unfortunately, they will not surpass the Celtics or the Cavaliers. Cleveland is too good with LeBron James. He is too tough to guard without a double team, and with Daniel Gibson and Anthony Parker shooting .477 and .473 respectively from the three-point line, and Shaquille O’Neal and Zydrunas Ilgauskas controlling down low, it is just too tough to beat them. The Celtics, without a healthy Garnett and Paul Pierce for some time have still held their own. They have three superstars in Ray Allen, Garnett and Pierce. They have a top two or three point guard in the East in Rajon Rondo along with a great bench with Glen Davis, Eddie House and Rasheed Wallace. Keep in mind that Boston and Cleveland are second and fourth in the NBA defensively, while Atlanta is 11th. Offense wins games, defense wins championships.
BO: Mike M. gets the 3 points here for discussing Ray Allen’s poor production so far this season. Andrew gets 2 for mentioning the beast that is Rajon Rondo. Mike L. gets the 1 for a lackluster argument.
3. The Dallas Cowboys extended head coach Wade Phillips’ contract through the 2011 season. Did Phillips prove his worth by winning a playoff game or are the Cowboys just playing it safe for now?
ML: I think the Cowboys are making the smart decision hanging on to Wade Phillips. First of all, Phillips has the highest winning percentage of any Cowboys coach (including Tom Landry and Jimmy Johnson). The biggest reason Jerry Jones made the right decision to keep Phillips is continuity. It is so difficult for any football team to be successful with a different coach every year, which is the reason the Oakland Raiders can’t win consistently. I think Phillips has the right system in place. All the Cowboys really need is a few touch ups and this is a Super Bowl team. Jerry Jones holding on to Wade Phillips isn’t “playing it safe,” it’s playing it smart.
MM: Wade Phillips proved his worth during the season, not just by winning a playoff game. While Phillips definitely has his flaws, he did an excellent job with the Cowboys’ defense this year. If Norv Turner got a three year extension in San Diego, Phillips deserved a similar deal in Dallas. Both coaches have had similar success over the past few years, and while they may not be the best coaches, they did win a lot of games last year. Phillips proved his worth over the course of the season, and put an exclamation point on it with both wins against the Eagles.
AA: Wade Phillips is a very good coach. It is as simple as that — just look at his career record. He is 81-54 with a .600 winning percentage. Unfortunately, he cannot win in the playoffs. Just look at that record of 1-5, which is a measly .167 winning percentage. If the NFL looked at regular season winning percentage, then Dan Marino would be the greatest quarterback in NFL history. Wade Phillips should not have been given an extension, especially with great coaches available like Bill Cowher. Jerry Jones should have offered Cowher anything he wanted and brought the Cowboys back to a top three football team like when they had Aikman, Irvin and Smith.
BO: Mike M. takes the 3 points and the game with his answer, mentioning the Norv Turner extension and the wins over the Eagles. Andrew gets 2 for saying that Bill Cowher, a perennial playoff winner, was available. Mike L. brings up the rear again.
Mike M. wins 7.5 – 7 – 3.5