MMQB Mailbag (cont.)
Now for a few other e-mails.
THE WHOLE THING IS SAD. From George of Houston: "Seriously, Plaxico Burress gets two years for accidentally shooting himself in the leg? I realize carrying guns in NYC is illegal, but come on. This is clearly a case of punishing a celebrity just to set an example."
The Plaxico Burress sentencing is sad, because what happened was an accident, if you believe his interview with Jeremy Schaap. And while I sympathize with Burress to a degree, I think there are two reasons I can find only a very small problem with what appears to be an excessive sentence.
Burress had a loaded handgun not licensed for the state of New York in a very public place. The gun could have gone off and killed someone. As it was, the gun went off and slightly wounded Burress, but the point made the sentencing.
I am in favor of mandatory minimum sentences for gun crimes. If you don't have them, then a good lawyer can make a terrific argument for extenuating circumstances in almost every case. Let's say Burress' lawyer makes an impassioned plea about how careless this was, but also how harmless it was, and a jury buys it, and Burress gets a suspended six-month sentence. How does that serve society? The next guy who thinks about walking into a crowded public place with a gun hidden on him could either not think about the consequences (likely) or he could think, "I'll get a great lawyer and get off if I get caught with the gun.''
Suppose 50 thugs hear on the street or in the media about the Burress sentence. And suppose 40 of them scoff at it and have it not affect their lives at all. But suppose 10 of the gun-toters think, "I better keep that thing in the car when I go to the club.'' I have no idea if that will happen, because I'm not a gun-toter. But as a society, all we can do is create laws to safeguard the public, and this law -- a mandatory minimum sentence for a major public hazard with real teeth -- is good for society.
YES, CHAD IS A GEM. From Andrew Schaefer of Chicago: "Chad Ochocinco's kicking is a perfect example of how the NFL has changed, for the worse. So he's good at it, and he wants to do it, and it would be incredible publicity for the team, and what do the Bengals do? Shut him down, of course, for fear of injury. I wonder what George Blanda would have to say about that. I realize the game has evolved and that money has taken over, but would it really have been such a crazy idea?''
I hear you, Andrew. But if you haven't been kicking regularly, and if you're not going to be kicking once the season starts, and you're the team's best receiver, it seems silly to have him continue kicking and risk injury just because it's cool.
THE SAN DIEGO DOMINO EFFECT. From Dan S. of El Cajon, Calif.: "Now that Philip Rivers has re-signed, do you think GM A.J. Smith will sign more guys on a team with lots of unsigned players coming up after the season?''
Unlikely. I saw where Adam Schefter Tweeted this morning that with Rivers done, now there is a slew of other players whose contracts will expire after the season to worry about -- Shawne Merriman, Marcus McNeil, Darren Sproles, Chris Chambers, Vincent Jackson. But there's a very big "if'' there: If there's no new CBA after this season, only one of those players, Chambers, will be an unrestricted free agent. Because in an uncapped year, four- and five-year veterans will be restricted free-agents, and Merriman (five), Sproles (five), Jackson (five) and McNeil (four) will all be restricted. I think Smith will try to get McNeil done next, and after that, who knows?
YES I WOULD. From no less than 500 of you via e-mail: "So you'd take Derek Jeter over Albert Pujols? You'd be the only one.''
Never thought a baseball opinion would generate so much froth. What I should have said is Derek Jeter is the best player of my adult lifetime. Say, 1975 and beyond. And I stand behind that.
It could be that Pujols will overtake him in a few years; I don't know. But Pujols is in his ninth year, Jeter in his 15th. Let's see how Albert stands the test of time. This, by the way, is not just about stats. It's about leadership, playing under the great New York microscope and consistently delivering at a championship level, and playing doggedly well, whether the game is vital or a blowout. He's everything a baseball player should be.
Hey, if you don't agree, that's fine; it's certainly not an open-and-shut case. I love Pujols, and I've loved Mike Schmidt, Cal Ripken, Greg Maddux and many others; Johnny Bench would be awfully close to Jeter. I just value a lot of the qualities and things Jeter brings to the game other than fielding and hitting.
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