Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Randomization: 07/05/06

No, wrestling is not a sport, but I still have to mention this. Rob Van Dam, you are a certifiable moron. RVD, for those who don't know, is a pro wrestler in WWE/ECW. After ten years of struggling to reach the top of the business, he "won" the WWE Championship on June 13. He was also named the champion of the newly-reformed ECW brand within WWE.

It's been a bit of an inside joke for years that RVD likes to, um, well, smoke every now and then. And I'm not talking about cigarettes. WWE put in a "Wellness Policy" in March that mandated guys live clean. While marijuana wasn't a substance that was to be regularly tested for, it was a substance that guys could get in trouble for using if they got caught. Sunday night, while in route to Philadelphia for a series of televised events, including two huge main event matches for WWE/ECW Champion Rob Van Dam, the longtime marijuana user got nailed. While driving with fellow wrestler Sabu, RVD was pulled over for speeding. The officer smelled marijuana in the car, and found marijuana and painkiller pills.

While the amount of marijuana found wasn't large enough to prompt any really serious charges, Van Dam was in direct violation of the "Wellness Policy", and he had to know he was in pretty serious trouble with his bosses. Instead of firing RVD, WWE has decided to suspend him for 30 days, along with levying a fine. And even worse for RVD, the two Philadelphia shows were re-written, and he was scripted to lose two title matches in as many nights. He dropped the WWE title to Edge on Monday night, then lost to the Big Show in an ECW title match last night.

After ten long years fighting and scratching to reach the top of the mountain, it was a quick fall for Rob Van Dam. He's a likeable character on television, and by all accounts, he's a pretty interesting guy off camera. But it's hard to feel sorry for someone who digs his own grave and puts one foot in it voluntarily. Hopefully, RVD is smart enough to fight off his demons and clean up his act. And if he does, I hope WWE is smart enough to use him the way they did for the last month or two.

Speaking of morons...How 'bout that Ozzie Guillen? Ozzie apparently feels that the six reserves taken for the American League All-Star team off his White Sox squad aren't enough. And he said he wished he could take three more of his guys for the team.


"I don't like it. But I do hope that I get to do it again next year. There are a lot of rules that fans and players have to know about. The manager really ends up picking two guys . . . It's a shame to have your hands tied like that. I didn't even get three of my favorite players on the ballclub . . . The one guy that I was really pushing [Crede] was the one guy that didn't make it. I'm going to tell Joe, 'You can go, I'll stay. I've been to a few already . . . It will be one week, and if someone gets hurt, I don't care -- pitcher, catcher, outfielder -- Crede is going. That's the way it's going to be. If anything happens to those 32 guys on the field and they can't make it, Crede is going and I don't care who gets mad.''

Now, we know the system is broken. We've known that for years. But if this doesn't underscore the fact that Major League Baseball needs to overhaul the system for selecting All-Star players, nothing will.

Guillen had three guys to select, because the players' vote determined the other reserve positions. He selected (gasp!) Mark Buehrle, Bobby Jenks, and Paul Konerko.

You can make a very strong argument for Jenks. Buerhle and Konerko are horrible choices that reek of the favoritism that Ozzie has made no bones about here. Francisco Liriano and Travis Hafner are better players at those positions, and now we are assured that only one of them will go to Pittsburgh, because they are both on the Final Vote ballot for the AL (actually, there's still a chance that neither of them will go, as Detroit's Justin Verlander and Chicago's A.J. Punkzynski are both strong candidates on that ballot, too).

It's pretty sad that the best hitter in the AL has at least a 50/50 chance of not going to the All-Star Game. It's time for baseball to fix the problem.

As I mentioned on Monday, I think the voting system needs to be overhauled. Fans and players can't be trusted to vote impartially, but they should still have a say. My idea is that the starters are chosen based on votes by fans, players, selected media, and a group of managers, coaches, and scouts. Give a greater say to the media and coaches/scouts, because there is a better chance that they will be able to vote without great biases (and local biases will be cancelled out among the media voters).

As for the reserves, stick with the voting system that's in place, but allow the group of managers and coaches to come together and fill out the rosters, instead of letting the manager of the team pick any players. Keep the Final Vote in place. It's a great marketing idea, because it really gives teams a chance to fire up their fans to get them to vote. The fans should always have a say in how the roster looks.

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