Each week, Dan Rubenstein, Ty Hildenbrandt and Jacob Osterhout will jump on e-mail and riff about various subjects in the news offered up by SI.com's Jimmy Traina.
Traina: The MLB trade deadline is coming up. Roy Halladay is the biggest name on the market. Which team needs Halladay the most? Are the Blue Jays crazy for even considering trading him?
Osterhout: The Blue Jays aren't crazy for considering trading Halladay assuming they get A LOT in return, which it seems like they are demanding. The Mets have already taken themselves out of contention due to the high price tag. And we all know that high price tags make the Yankees drool like a fat kid in a bakery. They just can't resist throwing lots of money at talent. But the team that needs Halladay the most is Philadelphia. Jamie Moyer's arm could fall off at any moment. J.A. Happ has beaten the odds so far, but who knows how long that will last? Don't even get me started on Joe Blanton. And stud Cole Hamels has been a disappointment so far. Of course, the Phillies have opened up a nice lead in the NL East and might be satisfied with their play so far, but once the playoffs roll around, their 4.46 ERA, which is seventh worst in baseball, won't cut it.
Rubenstein: Philly seems like the right fit, especially since the Dodgers don't want to give up Chad Billingsley, Clayton Kershaw or Matt Kemp (possible law firm?). The big piece for Philly seems to be prospect Kyle Drabek, but if he has anywhere near the facial hair of his father, I'd be hesitant to pull the trigger myself.
Hildenbrandt: The Phillies need Halladay the most if they want to repeat as World Series champs. It shouldn't be too difficult to outlast their competition in the NL East, but the Phils will need better pitching if they hope to go anywhere in the postseason, especially with the inconsistency they've gotten thus far from Hamels. If I'm GM Ruben Amaro Jr., I'm putting together a package for Halladay regardless of what prospects you have to trade. There are people here in the Philly area who are up in arms at the notion of trading someone like J.A. Happ -- yes, really -- but his value will never be higher. Your window to win is now. As far as the Blue Jays go, I just wish we could get some kind of formal declaration stating their intentions. J.P. Ricciardi could do this before the start of each new season, you know, just to clue us in as to whether they plan on contending. I feel like this is a team with an identity crisis, caught somewhere between the Yankees and the Padres. And for Ricciardi to deal his top pitcher in a non-contract year after signing guys such as B.J. Ryan and Vernon Wells to huge deals, it just seems like there are a lot of mixed signals being sent.
Rubenstein: The Blue Jays need a series of shrewd trades for prospects that work out if they want any hope of competing. Somehow, they need to get rid of Wells' obnoxious contract (that didn't make sense even when he could hit) and basically start over. The model to hang with the Yankees and Sox belongs to Tampa Bay, and if I were Ricciardi, I'd start furiously taking notes, like he showed up for a college lecture 18 minutes late.
Osterhout: Maybe that identity crisis comes with having a major league team in Canada. I mean, if you can buy poutine at a baseball game, is it still a baseball game?
Hildenbrandt: I'm comfortable blaming the Blue Jays' woes entirely on Canada. Seriously, though, what is this team's philosophy? Does it have one? On one hand, they hire a guy who made a name for himself under Billy Beane's Moneyball philosophy; on the other, they're signing closers to $47 million contracts. You can't have it both ways. Either trade everyone and blow up the franchise, or sign Barry Bonds to be your DH and run your payroll up to $250 million. Pick a strategy.
Rubenstein: Since the economic crunch seems to be hurting the Jays and at least plays some role in looking to deal Halladay, I'm wondering if there are some odd jobs that Wells or Alex Rios can do before the game. Parking assistance, concession set-up, light-changer -- these would all work.
Hildenbrandt: If they deal Halladay, you'll have to add "spot starter" to that list of odd jobs.
Rubenstein: Can this be an all-Canadian roundtable? I just got back from the country and I'm pumped to talk some Argo football. Anybody? Anybody?
Traina: Um, no. Let's talk Galaxy soccer. The team's fans went off on David Beckham the other day. How much longer will he last in L.A.? Can he win back the fans?
Osterhout: Everyone talks about the failure of the Beckham Experiment, but this is a great thing for MLS. Not only is American soccer in the news, but it is also headline news! And the fans actually look like they care. Beckham, of course, can win back the Galaxy fans. All he has to do is score a few goals and propel his team to victory, and they'll love him again. American soccer fans have been around for so short a time that they can't possibly hold a grudge. There's simply no precedent for it.
Hildenbrandt: At the risk of being dismissive, does anyone really care? And, wait ... the MLS has fans? What year is this? How long have I been asleep? Kidding aside, I haven't met a single sports fan who hasn't seen Beckham's stint with the Galaxy as a transparent attempt at publicizing the MLS. To that end, I think the experiment has been somewhat successful. However, Americans don't want to be force-fed a foreign superstar -- we like it much better when we create our own. Furthermore, we definitely aren't familiar with the concept of a player being on "loan" to an overseas team for a few months, and it's just our culture's nature to perceive it as an act of disloyalty, whether that's right or wrong. Landon Donovan's abrasive comments pretty much sealed Beckham's fate. I don't see this ending well.
Rubenstein: The story is Beckham, not the league, though. Jacob's right. How many people know which teams have won MLS titles? How many can name a player on half the teams? There's certainly an audience, but the national presence of the league hasn't been significantly affected by Beckham's arrival. Short of the aging Beckham scoring multiple goals per game, Galaxy fans will just wait him out. Without exception, it's always a much more rewarding experience to emotionally invest in a team whose members all have the same purpose.
Hildenbrandt: Another concept foreign to Americans: athletes allegedly calling upon unruly fans to come down on the field and bury the hatchet by shaking hands. Isn't that what happened in this Beckham "incident" with a fan? Assuming the fan did not get mauled by security, would he have shaken Beckham's hand and posed for a friendly photo? What was the end game there for Beckham? I don't get it.
Rubenstein: I won't pretend to know the intricacies of Beckham's salary and MLS politics, but my guess is that he plays the season out and then ties are cut. It's been a disaster from Day One, but the fans didn't seem to really turn on him until he went on loan to AC Milan. He came in as a shiny hero who was going to take American soccer to new levels, but from this point forward, he'll simply be a European player cashing his check while trying to increase his fame. L.A. fans are obviously a forgiving and supportive bunch with their flawed superstars (see Kobe, Manny, etc.), but it's tough to get behind a guy who doesn't want to be there.
Osterhout: That's an interesting point that Ty raises. Americans are not familiar with this "loan an athlete" concept. Somehow we can forgive players who switch teams within the same country for money, but we can't wrap our minds around players who switch teams, leagues and countries for money. It's kind of like how we subsidize our farming industry but get mad when other countries do the same. Oh, man, now I'm going off the deep end and I don't even have my water wings on.
Rubenstein: There's very little wiggle room when the athlete is one of the world's five best known and is a supposed savior for an entire league. The expectations certainly may have been unrealistic, but it isn't exactly as if Beckham played anything down during his arrival. All parties involved were perfectly content to have Beckham's image be that of the league's, and ultimately, it has crashed and burned.
Osterhout: And let's be honest here, the problem is not Beckham, it's the fact that the Galaxy have played terribly with him on the pitch. If they had competed for a title last season, this would have all blown over. But they didn't and now the fans are pissed, and Beckham is an easy target because he's a prima donna who puts gel in his hair and manscapes.
Traina: Speaking of people who take care of their bodies, did you guys watch The T.O. Show? If so, what did you think? And who should be the next athlete to get a reality show?
Osterhout: The premier of The T.O. Show was an hour! I sat down to watch it and after 15 minutes, I had to mute the sound. It is just awkward to watch him prance around in front of the cameras. The funniest part was when Pablo, his massive body guard, passes gas in the car. Now, I'm all for fart jokes, but that can't be the whole show. And there was something completely unbelievable about the dates he goes on. Also, someone tell T.O. to put on a shirt. It's like the show was created just so he could show off his upper body. The only thing that I can think of that's worse than a half-hour reality show on T.O. is an hour-long show.
Rubenstein: I didn't watch and probably won't make any specific effort to watch, unless I'm bored and come across it while waiting for a new episode of NYC Prep. My condensed list of athletes (or sports figures) deserving of round-the-clock coverage is as follows: Pete Carroll, Drew Rosenhaus, Hideki Matsui, Randy Johnson, Ron Artest and Joakim Noah. Carroll for all of the recruiting and rah-rah stuff; Rosenhaus for the business and hair gel side of things; Matsui for his secret libraries; Johnson is America's next favorite TV dad; Artest just because; and Noah for the beauty secrets.
Hildenbrandt: Sadly, I did not watch The T.O. Show; however, you could argue that we've all been watching a Terrell Owens reality show over the last five years. I mean, the guy did sit-ups in his driveway before a small army of media members. I can't imagine semi-scripted show ever topping that. So, as Dan said, I won't be going out of my way to watch this unless I can't catch reruns of 16 and Pregnant or Is She Really Going Out With Him? on MTV. I feel like a Derek Jeter reality show would do pretty well. We already know Jimmy Traina would watch, and there's definitely a huge portion of the male demographic -- read: Ty Hildenbrandt -- who would be interested in Jeter's dating life.
Rubenstein: A Jeter show would just make me angry. It's bad enough that I can't make fun of his on-field performance (for now), but to watch him make a buffet out of the Maxim 100 would just be too much for me. I'd be more interested to see how a lesser star or stars did with dating. I would absolutely watch a Lopez twins edition of The Bachelor or Swisher of Love.
Hildenbrandt: I also think an Adam Morrison show would be extremely successful, but only if he had to wear a three-piece suit for the duration of the series. Who wouldn't watch Adam Morrison looking uncomfortable for a half hour each week?
Rubenstein: I anticipate there being a theme of things that make Morrison cry -- sunsets, the mail coming late, a particularly jarring insurance commercial -- they could go anywhere with this.
Osterhout: I think we're shooting too big. Well, not with Adam Morrison, but with the other stars. A reality show based on the life of lesser athletes would be much more compelling. Let's say Mark Madsen, or Lastings Milledge, or the punter for the Detroit Lions. This way we could watch them struggle to achieve success instead of just taking it for granted. Although, the name Swisher of Love draws me in right away.
Dan Rubenstein hosts and produces the SI Tour Guy video series for SI.com and co-hosts The Solid Verbal podcast. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Ty Hildenbrandt writes for SI.com and co-hosts The Solid Verbal podcast. He can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter. Jacob E. Osterhout is a features reporter for the New York Daily News and a former writer for Sports Illustrated On Campus. His work can also be found at theCollege Sports Examiner.
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