1/29: Sports Roundup

January 29, 2013 by  
Filed under Featured, Len Berman

If winter comes, can spring be far behind?  Although it’s the eve of the Super Bowl, for those whose passion is baseball it’s a matter of days until pitchers and catchers report.  The Marist Poll’s John Sparks chats with sports journalist and Marist Poll Contributor Len Berman about this year’s prospects for the Yankees, Mets, and Len’s predictions for Super Bowl XLVII.

Len Berman

Len Berman

Listen to the interview or read the transcript below.

Listen to part 1:

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John Sparks

What a world we live in.  We’ve got a Heisman contender with a fake dying girlfriend.  The NCAA investigating itself in the University of Miami football mess.  Hockey players back on the ice.  Sammy Sosa thinks he and McGwire belong in Cooperstown although this year no one was elected to the Hall of Fame, and there’s excitement in Baltimore for the first time since Johnny Unitas as the Ravens prepare for a Super Bowl.  Now, I was talking with Marist contributor Carl Leubsdorf yesterday.  He thinks that the Washington Nationals will win the World Series.  So, there’s excitement INSIDE the Beltway.  Let’s quickly talk a little baseball.  First of all American League East.  Am I nuts or do the Yankees seem to be out of it in trying to build a contender this year?

Len Berman

Well, you know, John, I’m one of those people who think that this could be the year the Yankees don’t make the playoffs.  I mean they have this self-imposed salary cap.  Now, you wonder if they’ll ever be able to help themselves when it comes to spending money because over the years they’ve always outspent everybody.  But, what happens if they really do keep to that salary cap?  All of a sudden smarts will enter into the equation, and the Yankees have always been accused of being smart with their checkbook, as opposed to being smart with their brains.  So, that remains to be seen.  I think Toronto have improved themselves.  The Orioles are certainly an exciting young group, and I just wonder if this is the year it all falls apart for the Yankees. You know, people refer to 1965 as the watershed year for the Yankees when the dynasty ended.  Maybe, 2013 is the latter day 1965.

John Sparks
What’s the deal with the Steinbrenner boys?  They certainly aren’t like the old man.

Len Berman
Well, but that’s, that’s good and bad.  I mean George was so tempestuous and flew by the seat of his pants.  But, he was certainly entertaining, and he’s missed from that standpoint.  I don’t know if…  Well, maybe he would have given Alex Rodriguez that God awful contract that his kids had doled out.  But, that’s going to be an albatross hanging around their necks for years to come unless they can somehow unload him.  But, I wouldn’t sell the boys short.  They’re certainly astute business-wise, and they want to face the new reality of $189 million dollar salary caps.  So let’s, you know, the jury is out on the boys.

John Sparks

You mentioned A-Rod.  And, aren’t steroids really the cause of all his physical problems?  And, if so, isn’ there any way they can dump him?

Len Berman

No.  I don’t think so.  I don’t know if it’s the cause. You certainly have to feel suspect.  He did take steroids.  He admitted to some of it.  So, you wonder.  You know, like I tell my kids, if you lie once, you lie every time. So, just because he admitted to taking it for a couple of years doesn’t mean he really took it a lot longer.  I wonder about that relationship with Dr. Galea, the disgraced Canadian doctor.  I wonder what his involvement was.  So, yeah there are a lot of open questions about A-Rod, and I don’t know if, if the steroids caused everything. Now, what was the second part of the question?

John Sparks

Well, I just wondered if the Yankees could not turn him loose…

Len Berman

Right.  Well, I think they looked hard into that when they had the problem with Jason Giambi.  And, I think their lawyers came up and said no because Giambi signed under false pretenses, and then he was caught up in steroids.  So, my guess is that just because someone’s involved in steroids, doesn’t mean you can dump a contract.  That doesn’t mean they won’t try, but I don’t think they would be successful.

Listen to part 2:

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John Sparks

Let’s look at the rest of the league.  American League West?  Angels, Rangers, and now, we’ve got the Houston Astros.  What do you think there?

Len Berman

Well, I’m not counting on the Houston Astros to provide much other than a punching bag.  You know, I hope Seattle improves a little.  You always have to worry about the Angels.  And then you know, Oakland seems to do it with mirrors every year.  And then, Texas still has talent.  That’s a loaded division.  And, that could be the division that knocks the Yankees out.  In other words, if you have extra wild cards coming from the West, I think the Yankees would be in trouble.  So, I think you know, I think you’re strong on the coasts.  The middle of the country, I’m not so sure of in the American League.

John Sparks

Well, you have the Detroit Tigers in the American League Central with Justin Verlander.  Are they going to repeat in the Central?

Len Berman

Well, I think it’s hard to repeat.  I mean I’m more excited by Cabrerra to see what he does coming off his triple crown year.  You know, Kansas City’s out there lurking, you know, improving bit by bit.  But, you had some, you had probably the worst teams in the American League all bunched up in the Central, and you know I don’t know if the White Sox… you know, I guess Detroit would have to be considered the favorite because when you look at the rest of the division I’m not sure there’s much competition there.

Listen to part 3:

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John Sparks

Let’s go to the senior circuit.  The Dodgers, now, are Major League Baseball’s top spenders outspending the Yankees.  Will it bring Don Mattingly a trip to the World Series that he never experienced in pinstripes?

Len Berman 

Yeah.  I hope so.  I’m a big Don Mattingly fan.  And, I think with all the money infused, and they’re about to sign their new whopping television deal so there’ll be even more money in it.  I don’t think they’re afraid of any kind of salary cap.   San Francisco you have to just tip your cap.  They’ve won two out of three.  And you know, so they’ll give them the competition there.  But I, secretly I’m pulling for the Dodgers.  I love Mattingly.  I think he’s one of the classiest guys baseball’s ever seen, and I hope, I hope they get him to a World Series.

John Sparks

Indeed.  Let’s go to the National League East.  Mets or Mutts?  Will they ever regain their past glory?

Len Berman

Well, the Mets are struggling.  And I, you know, I was with some of their team executives the other night.  And, you know, their mantra is we’re not as bad as people think we are.  Well, that’s one hell of a catch phrase.  You know, in their division, they’re dealing with three very, very good teams.  I mean, I think your friend who likes the Washington Nats has a lot to bank on. I think they are the favorites.  They had the best record last year in all of baseball, and there’s no reason why they shouldn’t do just as well this year with their young kids.  Atlanta.  I think that’s a tough, tough team.  And, I think Philadelphia’s going to be better than a .500 club.  So, I think the Mets are going to be buried for the foreseeable future.

John Sparks

Finally, in the National League Central.  No more Astros.  Pirates seem to be arming up, but will the Cardinals repeat?

Len Berman

Well, that’s hard to say.  I think Cincinnati is really the team in the Central.  I like what they’ve got with the live arms out there, and Milwaukee’s better.  You know, they’re lurking.  They’re over .500.  I think… I would like to hope that this is the year Pittsburgh finally goes above .500.  I think they set the North American record for losing seasons.  They flirted with it last year, but didn’t make it.  I like this year, but I still, you know the class of this division is going to be Cincinnati, I think.

Listen to part 4:

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John Sparks

Len, I want to go back to this steroids business for just a moment.  Should they be discounted when it comes to baseball’s Hall of Fame?

Len Berman

Well, I think you have to make intelligent choices.  In other words, I think you have to look at each in a case-by-case basis.  I think Sammy Sosa’s nuts.  I think clearly the conventional wisdom is that if not for steroids he would not have done what he did.  Same with Mark McGwire.  So I think you have to discount those two from the Hall of Fame which certainly elevates the candidacy of Roger Maris, but that’s another story.  But, I think what you have to do is say to yourselves, and it’s very difficult because in essence steroid users were cheaters, I think you have to say to yourself would this person have been a hall of famer without steroids.  And, I think, that if you really go down the line, you have to say that Barry Bonds without steroids would have made the Hall of Fame.  And, the same goes for Roger Clemens.  So I think, you know, I think down the road those two deserve to be in.  But heck.  I’ve been, I’ve been campaigning for Pete Rose forever to no avail. So, I think on the field accomplishments are what really counts, and I know there’s an integrity clause when it comes to Major League Baseball, but there are so many scoundrels in the Hall of Fame that, you know, they’ve certainly gone through that loop hole with, with a Mack truck.

John Sparks

Len, we’ve been talking and looking ahead with baseball, but we’re right on the eve of the Super Bowl.  49ers or Ravens?  What do you think?

Len Berman

Well, you know, whatever I choose, I think you should pick the opposite.  I mean I shocked myself by correctly picking the two winners in the championship games.  I picked the two road teams which went against form, and they both won.  There’s something I like about Baltimore.  I like the redemption story.  You know, forget the Harbaughs and forget Ray Lewis.  I like the Flacco story.  I mean here’s a guy who’s been just a, you know, demonized for so long as just being just an average quarterback, and here he is driving the Ravens to the Super Bowl.  They certainly have a much better quarterback than when they won Super Bowl XXXV.  So, I’m gonna, I’m gonna cast my lot with Flacco which means if you’re a betting man you should go and probably bet the house on San Francisco, but I’m gonna, I’m gonna lean towards Baltimore on this one.

John Sparks

Okay, Len.  Finally what’s going on with you these days?  You’re still doing some television.  You’re writing books.  You’ve got your daily e-mail blog.  And, you emceed an event with Yogi the other night.  How’s Yogi doing, and how are you doing?

Len Berman

Yeah.  I’m doing fine.  I’m really enjoying my new life of not working the news every single night.  I have my ThatsSports.com website and send out a daily e-mail.  And, I’ve written some books.  My latest was “Greatest Moments in Sports—Upsets and Underdogs”.  And, I’m on the Today Show once a month with my Spanning the World feature, and I’m contributing to Channel 5 locally in New York with my Top Five on Channel Five once a week.  So, I’m keeping dabbled so to speak, and I’m going to continue to stay active.

John Sparks

Finally, before we call it quits, how can folks sign up for your blog?

Len Berman

They just go to ThatsSports.com and I send out a daily e-mail, you know, and there’s no spam involved, and I just give my take on sports. Some of it’s whimsical.  Some of it’s serious.  You know, the whimsical nature I talked about the Orlando sportswriter who said tha we finally know who was sitting in Clint Eastwood’s chair at the Republican Convention.  It was Manti Te’O’s girlfriend.  So, that’s the whimsy aspect, but you know, we have fun with it.  And, some serious issues such as injuries.  Head injuries in football we talked about today.  So, it covers the gamut and we have a lot of fun with it.

John Sparks

Len, You’re the best.  And, it’s always great talking with you.  Thanks for your time, and we look forward to our next visit.

Len Berman

All right.  Thanks, John.

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