An angry article from Cincinnati decried the situation the Cardinals find themselves in with Albert Pujols.
Pujols has said he will not negotiate with the Cardinals after he reports to camp Feb. 16. He will veto any attempt to trade him. St. Louis has two options. Neither is good. The Cardinals can sign Pujols to a long-term deal that would likely cripple their ability to field a winning team, given payroll constrictions. Or they can let him walk after this year, and say goodbye to a player more purely a Cardinal than anyone since Musial.
Why should the Cardinals be faced with that situation?
The Yankees aren’t. Derek Jeter will retire a Yankee, because the Yankees can afford him. If Boston had believed Roger Clemens hadn’t slipped, it could have paid him enough to keep him in Boston forever.
Who will ever again be a lifetime Cincinnati Red?
Unless a broken system is repaired to give small-money teams a better financial chance, Barry Larkin is likely the last Hall of Fame quality player who will have spent his whole career in Cincinnati.
Paul Daugherty is heralding the demise of a system that never existed. We in Indianapolis are facing the final contract of Peyton Manning, and we recently said good bye to Reggie Miller who never played in any uniform but the Pacers. Such one team stars are not just a rarity now, they've always been rare.
Precious few players in baseball have ever played for one team their whole career. Of the great 8 Reds of the 70's, only Bench and Concepcion played their whole careers in Cincinnati. Even Rose and Morgan moved on to other teams. This is the rule, rather than exception in sports, and it has been for a long time. Jordan, Ruth, Aaron, Abdul-Jabbar, Bonds, Mays, Montana, Unitas, Rose, Chamberlin, Emmitt Smith, Favre, Maddux...the list of giants in sports who played for multiple teams stretches far longer than the one city star.
Consider football. Of the quarterbacks in the Hall of Fame, only 9 of the 23 modern era QBs played their whole careers in one city. Even greats like Johnny Unitas moved on late in their career.
In baseball, the vast majority of the men in the Hall of Fame played for multiple teams. If you go back over the induction rolls for the past 25 years, you'll see that most players didn't finish in the same city in which they started. In fact, Daughtery complains that Larkin is the last Hall of Fame guy to play his whole career in red, but he doesn't realize that there was only one other: Bench. Even if you argue that Concepcion was 'Hall of Fame' quality, that's still just three guys in the history of the franchise who played anywhere near a Hall of Fame quality career for the just the Reds.
The NBA hasn't been much more stable. Only around a third of the players elected to the Hall in the past 30 years spent their whole careers with one team.
Colts fans mercifully never had to watch Marvin Harrison play in another uniform, and God willing, we'll never see Peyton in anything but blue and white, but such things are massive exceptions in sports. One city athletes are special and should be celebrated.
Baseball isn't broken because Pujols might leave Saint Louis any more than it was broken when Red Sox sold Ruth or the Reds let Rose walk. Professional sports are played for money, and money will always force economic choices.
That's not a broken system; it's reality.
We've been blessed in Indy to claim Reggie Miller and Marvin Harrison as ours and only ours. I hope we get to claim Peyton Manning that way too. I hope the Cards find a way to sign Pujols, but if they don't, Pujols will be like EVERY OTHER Cardinal in the Hall of Fame but Bob Gibson and Stan Musial.
Same as it ever was.
Two 18to88.com Fixtures got a much needed update today.
Generally I update the Fixtures at the end of each season, but last year I was busy writing Blue Blood, so I never had the time.
I added two games to the list of the Greatest Games in Indianapolis Colts History. Remember, this list isn't about 'importance'. The Super Bowl win over the Bears, for instance, isn't on that list. It's about the quality of the actual game. An important game gets extra credit, but it doesn't necessarily make the list. This year, "4th and 2" and the Miami game from 2009 both made the list. Frankly any game that has a name is going to make a list, right?
The second list, the Most Important Games in Indianapolis Colts History, also got two new additions. The win over Jacksonville this year made the list because it kept Indy's playoff hopes alive. The 2009 AFC Championship game also qualified. Also, older games got some new information added to them. That list is only at 12 games now, so if you have any nominations for games that aren't on the 'best games' list, but qualify as important, let me know. Let's work to get that list filled out to 18 games.
Side project: If anyone is interested in looking up Youtube videos or other embeddable media for any of the games on this list, let me know.
John Oehser (Johnny O as I call him), formerly of Colts.com and Indyfootballreport.com, is moving to a new position at Jaguars.com. John has long been a friend of 18to88.com, and his insights have been a daily presence for most Colts fans. We wish him nothing but the best! Follow John on Twitter.
John asked that I post this message of thanks to all of you.
18to88 Readers . . .
John Oehser here, formerly of Indy Football Report.
You probably know by I've taken the Senior Writer position at Jaguars.com, replacing my good friend and your sworn enemy, Vic Ketchman, but I wanted to to thank 18to88 readers, as well as all of their contributors for their support over the two years I ran Indy Football Report. The 18to88 was quick to embrace, support and encourage me after I left the Colts, and that support was what kept IFR going for two years.
I didn't always write enough, and was sometimes hurried because of many responsibilities, but I hope I was able to provide some perspective and insight along the way.
And although I'll be writing for your rival, feel free to stay in touch. No matter where I work, I'll try to be fair, entertaining and as insightful as this small, aging mind will allow.
Thanks again everyone. I'm heading home.
The college all-star games have had time to sink in, now the rumors swirl for two weeks until the combine opens February 24th.
Week 5's results: (taken 2/4)
Positions: 29 OTs, 5 DTs (2 1-tech, 3 3-tech), 2 G, 1 CB, 1 RB, 1 WR
Anthony Castonzo 11 picks
Derek Sherrod 7
Gabe Carimi 5
Tyron Smith 5
Odd Ducks: Jonathan Baldwin (WR, Pittsburgh), Mikel LeShoure (RB, Illinois), Brandon Harris (CB, Miami), Drake Nevis (3-tech DT, LSU), Nate Solder (OT, Colorado)
Experts vs Fans: Everyone is still thinking OT, with the choice of a particular OT being the main variation. The biggest difference between the 7 expert mocks updated this past week and the 32 fan mocks sampled was Anthony Castonzo being the most popular pick of the week, despite getting no expert support. Castonzo was the pick in 11 of 32 fan mocks, but none of the 7 experts took him, despite 6 choosing OTs.
Shake's Impact: The random mocks were about as varied as I've seen them. OTs were still about 2/3rd of the pick, but there was a good mix of them and 6 different non-OTs were taken. My crusade against Tyron Smith might be working. Despite being the pick for 2 of the 7 experts and 2 of 20 random mocks, Smith was only picked once in the 12 MtD mocks.
Discussion: For the first time in the 5 weeks there were multiple picks of an interior lineman with Mike Pouncey appearing twice. While the interior line is very likely somewhere the Colts will look to address, I'm skeptical of an interior lineman in the 1st round. If a (supposed) right tackle, Rodger Saffold wasn't considered to be worth the 31st pick by the Colts FO, it seems unlikely they'd spend the #22 pick on an interior lineman. Baldwin, LeShoure and Harris are all unlikely, but interesting options. Baldwin's size, strength and hands are impressive, but a lack of great speed, unpolished route running and some concerns about his work ethic make it unlikely the Colts will invest big into him on top of their current WR corps. LeShoure is a big back coming off a great season with checkmarks in the vital categories of receiving, ball security and pass protection. On the other hand he's a true junior with only one year of bigtime production, red flags for a team that likes experience and production in it's top picks. Brandon Harris doesn't often fall to Indy as the #3 CB in the draft by most accounts. Harris is also a true junior, but with 32 starts and back to back All-ACC selections to prove his production. Harris has the kind of man coverage skills that are more necessary in the new D under Coyer, but has played a fair bit of zone as well. All 3 are interesting dark horses, with serious question marks as to Indy's interest.
Shake's Pick: Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin
The first repeat as I flip-flop back to Carimi. Indy was burned writing off an excellent Big Ten LT as being merely a RT. Carimi's clearly a better prospect than Saffold and was widely reported as more athletic than expected in Senior Bowl practices. Carimi's an experienced player at a premium, need, position, a dedicated student who is taking the last class needed for his civil engineering degree remotely while training for the draft.
The news that Indy is getting ready to tag Peyton Manning is not surprising or alarming. Let me answer a few quick questions that I've been getting from readers:
1. Does the franchise tag mean the negotiations are going poorly?
NO. It means they are going slowly, and there's a difference. The Colts have used the franchise tag to buy time for longer term deals repeatedly over the past several years, including with Manning in 2003.
2. Can they use the Franchise Tag?
Because there is no CBA, there is some dispute as to whether or not the franchise tag can be used. The owners, correctly I think, argue that no collective bargaining agreement means that the last set of rules that were in place continue. The players argue that no CBA means there are no rules. Ironically, these are the OPPOSITE positions from what both sides are selling to the public about the rest of the CBA fight. The players 'want to play' because they are being 'locked out'. A lock out means that if the owners WANTED, the players could just come to work, and the old CBA would be automatically extended. There ARE rules for them to play under, but the owners don't want to play under them, so they will prevent the players from playing. To me, that indicates that the use of the franchise tag is acceptable. The last set of rules apply.
3. Is there a risk to using the Franchise Tag?
Normally, the answer is no. The only risk is that the player will get angry about being tagged and negotiations will suffer. That's not going to happen in this case. Manning has been tagged before. Indy's going to offer him a lot of money. No one's feelings are getting hurt here. However, if Manning's people wanted to play hardball, they could sue the Colts, claiming there is no franchise tag, forcing Indy to deal before deadline in March. I can't see that happening, however.
There is a second risk, though it is a small one. If the Colts tag Manning and then wait for the new CBA to get a deal done, the new CBA could eliminate the tag system. If the tag system was eliminated entirely, Manning would immediately become a free agent. However, this is extremely unlikely to happen. The owners love the tag system, and though the players hate it, the owners have all the leverage in these negotiations. This fight is more over money than over how to structure the contract system of the league. I wouldn't expect radical changes to free agency, except possibly as a concession for rookie contracts. The odds that the franchise tag would be thrown out as part of the deal are very long. This is not something to worry about.
4. Is there any advantage to waiting until a new CBA is done?
Yes, actually there is a massive advantage to waiting. The first advantage is that Indy will KNOW how to structure Manning's deal for the new cap and cap rules. Right now, they are just guessing about what the rules MIGHT be. If they wait until after the labor crisis is over, they can move forward with confidence.
The second advantage is that it takes the pressure off Manning to sign the biggest possible deal. It will still be important to the union that Manning not take a low-ball contract, but right now, the Manning negotiation is one of the few pressure points the union has over ownership. They have to score a big win on this contract, and you can be sure Manning has been told exactly what they need from him. If the deal doesn't get done until there's a new CBA, that pressure is gone. Manning's deal becomes just another high profile player contract. This could feasibly free Manning up to sign more of a club friendly deal than what he would have otherwise. It won't be cheap, and he still will be the highest paid player, but there would be less pressure that it be a 'clear win' for labor.
5. What's the worst case scenario?
The worst case scenario is that Indy tags Manning, but then courts rule the tag is invalid. Then the union 'decertifies' and takes the owners to court. The courts then determine that the owners have negotiated in bad faith, and impose new rules. These new rules give broad freedom to the players and don't include a tag system. Peyton Manning then becomes a free agent and is upset over being tagged and takes it out on the Colts by signing with another team.
6. What's the best case scenario?
The tag holds, and Indy waits to sign Manning until new rules are in place. With a better understanding of the cap (assuming there is one) and without pressure from the union, Indy and Manning sign a team friendly deal that leaves plenty of cap room for other moves.
7. Which is more likely?
I don't know that the absolute best case scenario is going to happen, but it's vastly more likely than the worst case scenario.
So to sum up, this isn't a big deal. This is completely expected. It's not a sign that anything bad is going to happen.
Last night I did another guest appearance on It's Boris Diaw Time. Jon Landrum and I wrap up the 2010 NFL season and talk about the Super Bowl, Aaron Rodgers, the CBA fight, and magic.
I got a little hot under the collar when talking about the CBA, and do an outstanding impression of a caveman who sounds something like Cookie Monster. It's a fun listen, so check it out.
This is part two of a two point series called Point Counter Point. I hope to make it a regular feature. In part one, Nick Pease argued the that the Indianapolis Colts should go 'all in'. This is my response:
While it is tempting to think that the Colts' 'window is closing' and that they need to go 'all in' presumably by securing free agents or making some kind of big trade, I would argue that nothing could be further from the truth.
While I agree that Peyton Manning has at most 5-6 more years left, 5-6 years is an eternity in the NFL. Consider the Green Bay Packers. They only have 13 players on their roster who have been in the league more than five years. The Colts won the Super Bowl four seasons ago, and only have 17 players left on the roster from that team. The fact is that over the next few years, the entire roster will turn over on its own. That's how the NFL works.
As both the Packers and Steelers illustrated, building through the draft is the best path to a title and long term success. Free agency does not typically produce good results. If the Colts were to go top heavy and sign several aging vets, they might get a temporary boost for next season, but would actually be worse in 2012 and beyond. In fact, if the priority is to get as many shots at the title as possible, the best, most sane way to do it is to stay the course and build through the draft.
In fact, there is no real urgency for the Colts other than the urgency that always exists to win. How bad the Colts' problems are and how radical the solution needs to be depends on how you view the 2010 season.
If you think the the Colts were a bad team in 2010 that lacked talent, the temptation would be to radically overhaul not only the roster, but the manner in which it was constructed.
If you think the Colts were an elite team that suffered a crippling number of injuries, but still won 10 games and was one covered kick from advancing in the playoffs, then there's no reason to change anything. The Colts should try to improve in the same way they always do.
The Green Bay Packers won the Super Bowl, but if the Giants had figured out how to punt the ball out of bounds against Philly, the Packers would not have made the playoffs. Three times in those playoffs, the other team had the ball with a chance to tie the game on the final possession, and three time the Packers got the big stop. The line between oblivion and a title is thin. While I won't mind if the Colts sign a player this offseason, I don't favor a radical departure from past strategy.
The Colts were a couple of plays from a 12-4 or 13-3 season. You could argue that they were one Austin Collie concussion away from a dramatically better season. While I want the Colts to fix the problems on defense, my hope is that that would come in the form of drafting a good elite defender, even if it means a trade of a pick or two. A truly elite defender would then be good for the next five seasons. Signing a free agent who might produce for maybe a season or two is foolish.
There's not much evidence that the Colts have radically declined, nor that their window is closing. Going all in guarantees nothing and risks Indy's best chance at another Super Bowl: actually making the playoffs every year.
Personally, I felt the 2010 Colts were a deep and talented team heading into the season. I do feel the defense was exposed against Houston (before injuries started to pile up), but nothing else that happened in 2010 did anything to dissuade me from the conviction that the Colts are on the right track. If I were to advise Bill Polian, I would beg him to invest heavily on the defensive side of the football through the draft. I wouldn't worry too much about the running backs or the offensive line, because as the Super Bowl continues to show, teams with suspect lines and weak run games keep making and even winning the title. A good passing game and a great passing defense is enough to get it done.
The Colts should draft safeties and tackles who can get pressure on the quarterback. They should be alert for other ways to improve the team, but any kind of radical 'All in" move would likely waste years of Manning's career, not save them.
Just ask the Minnesota Vikings what the year after "All in" looks like.
In 2014, the Colts can go All in.
In 2011, they should stay the course.
This is part one of two in what I hope will become a regular 18to88.com feature. Nick Pease argues one course of action for the Colts. I respond with a different course.
Another day passes and we move further away from the 2010 football season and one day closer to NFL uncertainty. Sure, with each day that comes and goes we inch closer and closer to the start of baseball, closer to March Madness, and for those of us in Indiana, we inch closer and closer to spring weather. (Which can not come soon enough!)
But in terms of the National Football League, and our beloved Indianapolis Colts, uncertainty looms. Will the two sides reach an agreement? Will we have football in 2011? Is there really a chance I will go next winter without a major spike in my blood pressure due to another 4th quarter defensive meltdown? These are questions all of us Colts fans are asking ourselves. Well maybe the first two at least.
With all of these unanswered questions hanging in the balance and threatening the livelihood of NFL fans everywhere, one thing is certain: This is the Indianapolis Colts all in moment.
For those of you who have ever played a serious round of poker, you know exactly what I mean. Like many other folks my age, I fell pretty big into the Texas Hold Em craze. Many nights ended in nearly identical fashion. I sat at a table for hours on end and when it was all over I had lost a lot more money than I had won. Along the way however, I did pick up a few things. And one thing was for sure. If you were lucky enough to be around after a couple hours, you knew that moment was coming. The moment where you knew you had to stand up and push all your chips into the middle of the table and declare, “I'm all in.”
There is no more math trying to determine where that last seven is, there is no more strategy trying to outwit the old man with the furious cough sitting across the table from you. There is no more waiting for the guy with the short stack of chips to go down next. This is your moment. Maybe you don't have the perfect hand. It doesn't matter. You know you have a solid hand. You hesitate, because maybe someone has you beat. But again, it doesn't matter, it's no longer about the people with you, it's no longer about waiting until the next hand. It is about now. It is about this moment. You stand up and you push over the chips. This is you're “all in” moment.
For the Indianapolis Colts that moment is now.
There is no more time waiting for players to develop. There is no more time for drafting projects or only rebuilding through the draft. There is no more time to IR players year after year without looking for serious replacements. There is no more time to watch free agent after free agent sign with other teams.
Ladies and gentlemen, let me be clear. It is time for the Indianapolis Colts to stand up, push every single chip into the middle of the table and greatly announce, “We're all in!”
The rationale behind this logic is not difficult to understand. The window is closing on perhaps the greatest quarterback to ever play this game. Is there still fuel in the tank? Absolutely, but it's a lot less than five or six years ago. We have a pro bowl wide receiver and center, two pro bowl defensive ends, and former pro bowlers at tight end and safety. But we need more.
It's time to surround the existing talent with even more talent. It's time to find durable players who can play the game and stay on the field. It's time to use every available resource to field the absolute best team possible. It's time to evaluate every position on the field and determine what this team needs. Do we need another running back? Do we need another receiver? Or do we need to find a way to field a defense that won't allow a disastrous time killing drive in the second half of a home playoff game?
I believe that Mr. Irsay and Mr. Polian get it. With discussions surrounding contract talks, it appears they are interested in signing free agents. I believe they understand the situation we are in. It's no longer time to draft projects or let free agents sign with opposing squads. It's time to stack the deck on both sides of the field. It's time to recognize that “all in” moment.
And for Indianapolis that moment is now.
This post is presented by Blue Blood: Tales of Glory of the Indianapolis Colts. Buy your copy today!
The Indianapolis Colts have had some amazing performances over the years. Here are the 18 best seasons posted by a player in an Indianapolis Colts uniform
18. Rohn Stark 1992
Rohn Stark is one of the great Colts from the early years of the franchise in Indianapolis. His 1992 season helped helped one of the luckiest teams in history to almost make the playoffs. Stark posted a career high net in 1992 of 39.3 yard per punt while also pinning 22 punts inside the 20. Stark helped alter field position all season long and was rewarded with a Pro Bowl bearth and a 2nd team All Pro nod. The '92 Colts were terrible on offense and mediocre on defense, but Stark's heroics helped push the team to a 9-7 record.
17. Adam Vinatieri 2010
There were tons of questions about Vinatieri going into the 2010 season. After missing most of 2009 with a hip injury, AV silenced his doubters with perhaps the best season of his career. He hit 26 of 28 field goals, and his only misses came in a Colts' win (one was blocked). He ended his season going 3/3 in the playoffs including a 50 yard rocket to give the Colts a lead with less than a minute to play agains the Jets. He finished the year 3rd in the NFL in points and 4th in field goal percentage at 92.9%.