Off the Bench


Is there just one Colt’s story?

Posted in NFL by offthebench on December 8, 2005

No doubt you’ve heard the Indianapolis Colts are undefeated. Their 12-0 record heading into this weekend’s game at Jacksonville will continue to be the only Colt’s topic discussed by the sports media. But I have a question: Is there ANY other reason to watch them?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a Colts fan. Peyton Manning is probably one of my top 3 favorite players right now and may have taken the top spot from Tom Brady when he started making those Mastercard commercials (D-CAF! D-CAF!). I’ve like Tony Dungy since he created the second coming of the purple people eaters in Minnesota in the late 80s, early ’90s (The last time the Vikings defense was decent).

But it gets old every week to hear the same thing: The Colts are chasing the ’72 Miami Dolphins and a perfect season. Ask the players, do they care if they finish the regular season 16-0? Does it matter if they make the Super Bowl if they finish off a perfect regular season?

I saw a interview of DE Dwight Freeney on ESPN last week and he echoed everything I’ve ever heard from ANY player on ANY team when asked about something like this: A perfect regular season doesn’t matter. They want to win the Super Bowl. Anything less could be considered failure.

While I don’t think getting to the Super Bowl is a failure, I agree that the Championship in any sport trumps any record achieved along the way. So why does this happen every time a NFL team goes 10-0?

My guess is this: It’s easy.

This will probably generate a large amount of hate mail from sports columnists, but the reason it gets talked about so much is they don’t have to dig to find the story. It’s right there – staring you right in the face. No need to check the stats or go interview the assistant coaches. Their 12-0, Can they go undefeated? Maybe if the media was willing to look a little deeper, we’d know more about the Colts – giving us a reason to root for their perfect season.

Right now, I almost wish they would lose a game so I don’t have to listen to this for another month.

One down, (hopefully) more to go

Posted in MLB by offthebench on December 2, 2005

The Twins have apparently decided to make some noise this offseason (finally) announcing they have traded pitchers Travis Bowyer and Scott Tyler to Florida for Luis Castillo. While I would have preferred moving Michael Cuddyer back to second base and shopped some pitching prospects for Rangers’ Hank Blalock, I’m hoping this trade is a sign of things to come. Castillo is a considerable upgrade at a position that has been an offensive (and I do mean offensive) black hole since their run of division titles in 2001.

Castillo has a career line of .293/.370/.356 in 10 seasons. The most encouraging part of that line is the .370 OBP. The Twins are notorious for their free swinging ways and another hitter who can get on base ahead of Mauer, Morneau and Hunter would be a welcomed sight to all Twins fans. In addition Castillo has shown the ability to hit left-handed pitching. The 2005 all-star has a .343/.403/ .519 line with 11 of his 12 home runs coming against southpaws the last three seasons (in 426 ABs).

Castillo had some nagging leg problems this season that limited him to 122 games and only 17 stolen base attempts – his fewest attempts since 1998. I would imagine if his legs are healthly, he will run more in Minnesota’s small ball offense.

As for the contract, According to the report Castillo is scheduled to make $5 million in 2006. The contract he signed with the Marlins also includes a $5.75 million club option for 2007.

Bowyer and Tyler weren’t going to be counted on help the big club in 2006 and with the amount of pitching depth they have in the minors, its nice to see they actually used some of it to get a player who could help the club while they still had Radke, Santana, Stewart and Hunter under contract.

For a team that hit .259/.323/.391 last season, this shouldn’t be the only move they make.