The Unwelcome Return Debate… Boo-zer Deserves It

June 18, 2010

Read the opposing arguments from Bleacher Fan and Babe Ruthless.

I admit that I had extreme difficulty finding someone to feature today. The fact that we are even discussing which player most deserved a rude greeting upon returning to a former team’s stadium is due to the fact that Manny Ramirez is making his first visit back to Fenway Park tonight, his first appearance there since being traded to the Dodgers at the deadline two years ago. I feel fairly certain that Manny will receive his share of boos over the weekend. But I really can’t write about his situation yet.

So I spent time contemplating the topic. Michael Vick? Nah, he got a fairly mixed reaction on his return trip to Atlanta. I called Sports Geek last night to toss around ideas, as I already knew who Babe Ruthless and Bleacher Fan were going to write about. We tossed around some ideas and finally Sports Geek came up with a name that Bleacher Fan is going to kick himself for not choosing… Carlos Boozer.

Boozer spent the first two years of his career with the Cleveland Cavaliers. After two productive seasons Boozer was set to make $695,000 in the third and final year of his initial rookie contract. Boozer was not happy about making so “little,” so the Cavs agreed to release the exclusive contractual rights to him in exchange for Boozer signing for the club’s full mid-level exception, which would have equaled been about $40M over six years. According to the Cavs, there was a verbal understanding that this was what both sides wanted. Unfortunately for the Cavs, that’s not what happened.

Just days after this verbal agreement was supposedly reached, Boozer signed an offer sheet with the Utah Jazz for $68M over six years. It was an offer that Cleveland had no shot at matching. Apparently Boozer wanted to play with the likes of Andrei Kirilenko and Raja Bell instead of a young LeBron James. And thus, in the blink of an eye, Carlos Boozer left the Cavs, and poor old Cleveland had nothing to show for it. (By the way, would the Cavs have possibly won a title by now with Boozer on the roster? Hmmmmm!).

Obviously, the city of Cleveland, and all Cavs fans, were irate. Then-team owner Gordon Gund issued a letter to fans explaining how the whole situation went down from his perspective. Basically he said that the organization put misguided trust in Carlos Boozer. Boozer became a hated man in Cleveland, a very passionate sports town. He was called a “backstabbing, double-crossing, money-grubbing Judas.”

Boozer claims that no agreement was ever reached with Cleveland. Who knows what really happened, though it is important to note that last year Boozer did actually say to a Chicago radio station, “I’d love to be a part of the Chicago Bulls.” This happened after a trade from Utah was supposedly imminent. The trade never happened, and he still remains with the Jazz.

In his first game back in Cleveland, Boozer deservedly received a rousing chorus of boos and insults thrown at him. Bleacher Fan, were you at this game? Even if you didn’t know the situation with Boozer before reading this debate, wouldn’t you boo him? If you would, you have millions of new friends in the state of Ohio.

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The Unwelcome Return Debate… Carl is a 4 Letter Word

June 18, 2010

Read the opposing arguments from Bleacher Fan and Loyal Homer.

Carl Pavano is a bum! He disappointed, swindled, and lied to the New York Yankees and their fans. This guy deserves the type of reception Mets fans reserved for John Rocker. Each and every time he returns to the Bronx he should most definitely wear a cup, regardless of whether the trip has anything to do with baseball or not!

Normally stars elicit boos, jeers, and cold receptions in general from their former teams only when they leave town chasing a bigger contract or shooting their mouths off about their team. But Carl Pavano did neither of these things. His case is unique. The ire that Pavano provokes amongst Yankees fans is based mainly on all the things he didn’t do.

He didn’t lead the Yankees to their elusive 27th world championship (Editor’s Note: Okay, Babe, we get it. The Yanks win a lot.). He didn’t put up All-Star numbers, or even end of the rotation journey man numbers. For the most part, he didn’t even pitch! What he did do was spend hundreds of days on the DL and laugh all the way to the bank.

After rising to prominence with the Florida Marlins during a dominant 2003 postseason, he set career highs in 2004 posting an 18-8 record, a 3.00 ERA, and a 1.17 WHIP. That performance earned him his one and only nod to the All-Star team and put him in position to be the most coveted free agent of the 2004 offseason. Having previously settled for a handful of small one year contracts, Pavano was ready to cash in on a big pay day – and cash in he did! Although he entertained several suitors, the Yankees eventually won the bidding and landed the right-hander to the tune of a four year, $39.95M contract with a fifth year $13 million dollar club option for 2009. There was an excited buzz when Pavano joined a stable of talented hurlers, including Randy Johnson, Mike Mussina, and Kevin Brown. But the anticipation of what Pavano could do for the Yanks in 2005 is where the magic ended because when he took the mound, and things took a turn for the worse.

The super talented ace-caliber pitcher the Yankees thought they paid for in Pavano was nowhere to be found. Instead what was forced upon the team was an oft injured bust.

Pavano’s first season with New York ended with a 4-6 record with a 4.77 ERA, not exactly the All-Star stat line he posted just one season earlier. Yankees’ fans were able to overlook this deplorable start as an anomaly, and set their hopes on the next season… except there wasn’t really a next season for Pavano. He sat out the entire 2006 season. That’s right, he failed to pitch in the majors throughout the entire second year of his contract, citing shoulder and elbow injuries. At one point it seemed as though he was actually going to make it back to the majors from his rehab stints, but things went from bad to worse when a few broken ribs and a lot of deception knocked him out for the whole season. With everyone’s patience running thin, and Pavano’s injured act growing tiresome, he did away with any pretense that he was a team player New York fans could rally behind and made the jump into full fledged villainy by lying to the team about an injury. Pavano hit the disabled list yet again, but this time it wasn’t because of a baseball action, but a car accident. An accident which he kept secret from the team until his broken ribs could not be kept under wraps any longer. The next season was better, but not by much. In 2007 Pavano was almost as nonexistent as he was in 2006, logging only 11 innings of work. Seriously, just 11 innings of work! And what did he get for 11 innings of work? $10M. For you math whizzes, that means he made more than $900,000 for every inning of work. During his final season with the Yankees in 2008 Pavano had a 4-2 record over seven starts, leaving the Yankees frustrated, disappointed, and downright embarrassed by the whole Pavano drama.

I am well aware that it is hard for anyone to have pity for the New York Yankees, but when it comes to Carl Pavano, the saga is exactly that – pitiful. Everyone knows that New York fans set huge expectations for players, but few have ever disappointed the way Carl Pavano did. He is truly despised in New York, and definitely gets a noteworthy negative reaction whenever he returns to the Bronx (in fact, it was subtitled for Yankees fans on one occasion). While the Bronx Bombers usually play the role of bully, it was Carl Pavano who has left a lasting legacy as the bad guy. So when he takes the field, and the fans rise to boo and throw things, it’s music and justice to many fan’s ears.

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The Unwelcome Return Debate… At Least the Prodigal Son Was Repentant

June 18, 2010

Read the opposing arguments from Babe Ruthless and Loyal Homer.

No one in sports has burned his bridges after leaving a team or city more unabashedly than Terrell Owens.

Despite being one of the best wide receivers to have ever played the game (just ask him, he’ll tell you…), Owens is one of the least respected, least welcomed personalities in the entire NFL. Nowhere is that sentiment more strongly felt than in the cities of San Francisco, Philadelphia, and Dallas.

Owens is one of the rare people to whom the adage “actions speak louder than words” does not apply. Quite the contrary, actually. For Owens, it does not matter what his actions have been, it is his words that carry the greater volume, and the ringing echo of those selfish and arrogant words (usually spoken at the expense of others) lingers bitterly in each of TO’s former “hometowns.”

Whenever Owens joined a new team he enjoyed a very nice (albeit brief) honeymoon period. The teams were understandably excited to have Owens on their side of the ball, and Owens was (at least publicly) happy to have earned a HUGE paycheck to play for a team that really appreciated his absolute greatness (just ask him, he’ll tell you…).

Inevitably, though, the honeymoon would end, and that is when the REAL Terrell Owens would rear his head.

Here is a brief and incomplete rundown of Owens’ infamous escapades, and why the fans of those cities now perceive Owens as public enemy number one.

San Francisco: Owens never got along with quarterback Jeff Garcia, and even though he shared the field with his alleged idol, Jerry Rice, Owens felt slighted that the was not getting enough passes thrown his way. He didn’t seem to care that he was lining up with the greatest wide receiver ever to play the game, he felt he was more deserving of the ball. The simple fact that he was not on pace to catch 100 passes was intolerable for Owens.

His tirades played a major factor in Garcia’s ouster from the 49ers, and then, after having thrown his tantrums and demanded that he get his way, he skipped town for a sweeter deal in Philadelphia.

The feud with Garcia boiled to a head shortly after Owens left San Francisco, when, during a Playboy interview (Editor’s Note: Sorry, no link here. Heh.), Owens launched a personal attack against Garcia, calling him gay.

Owens has also publicly attacked Jerry Rice’s accomplishments, the DE FACTO greatest wide receiver to ever play the game. He has implied that Rice’s success is due more to his playing with quarterbacks like Joe Montana and Steve Young, and that Owens would have at least equaled, if not surpassed Rice’s results if he had been fortunate.

By commenting that Rice was fortunate to have played with “quality” quarterbacks, he was also criticizing Jeff Garcia, Donovan McNabb, and Tony Romo as not being of the same “quality” stock.

Philadelphia: Second verse, same as the first!

Once again, after frustrations mounted because Owens did not feel he was being treated with the respect he felt he deserved, as well as not having the on-field success he felt he was entitled to, he set out on another personal campaign to simply trash those things he didn’t agree with.

One of the biggest feuds in the NFL began after Owens made a comment that he “wasn’t the one who got tired in the (2004) Super Bowl,” implying that quarterback Donovan McNabb was the reason the team lost the game. He then further attacked McNabb by saying that the Eagles would have been undefeated if a guy like Brett Favre was quarterback. He attacked the Eagles as an organization for not recognizing his 100th touchdown catch, calling it a classless organization. He then stated that he did not care what the fans thought of him.

This was never more evident than when, at the close of the Eagles’ 2005 game against the rival Dallas Cowboys, Owens was seen leaving the stadium sporting a Michael Irvin Cowboys jersey.

After that, the city of brotherly love felt nothing but animosity towards Owens.

Dallas: Things went well in Dallas for a while, but old habits die hard, and Owens once again wore out his welcome. This time, it came as the result of Owens’ jealousy for the relationship between quarterback Tony Romo and Jason Witten.

Owens could not fathom how he, one of the most accomplished wide receivers of all time, could possibly have less catches that a tight end, and felt that Witten and Romo had agreed to draw up plays specifically to target Witten, slighting Owens in the process. This one ended with Owens and Witten having to be separated after a locker-room confrontation.

It seems like everywhere he has been, Owens managed to do nothing more than stir up controversy, alienate teammates, and alienate fans. His attitude of self-service has left a very bitter after-taste for fans of the 49ers, Eagles, and Cowboys, and while Eagles’ fans may feel it the strongest, there is no welcome-home party waiting in any of these cities whenever TO comes to town.

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