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Archive for April, 2010

Doug Christie

(sound of whip cracking)

Say what you want about Doug Christie the basketball player, but he is a DUDE that would NEVER cheat on his wife.  He won’t ever cheat on his wife because she is always there.  More on that later…

Doug Christie the basketball player was pretty decent in his prime.  He has a career scoring average of 11.2 points per game, almost the definition of mediocrity.  I bet you if you looked at the median career scoring average in the history of the NBA, you would find Doug Christies name.

However, Doug never really made his money as a scorer, he was a defensive stopper.  Christie honed his defensive craft at perennial college basketball powerhouse, Pepperdine.  After three years at Pepperdine, Christie was drafted with the 17th overall pick of the 1992 draft.  Doug was drafted by the Seattle SuperSonics (R.I.P.), but didn’t feel like they were offering him enough money.  So, instead of signing with the Sonics and beginning his NBA career, Christie opted to do nothing instead and make no money.  Solid.  By February, the Sonics were sick of Christie’s shenanigans and shipped his broke-ass to the Los Angeles Lakers for the legendary Sam Perkins.

Christie got a little playing time with the Lakers, however, he didn’t really cut it there and was traded to the New York Knicks.  The Christie act didn’t play well in the Big Apple either and a year later the Knicks traded Doug to the Raptors and things really took off.  While in Toronto, Christie put up his BIGGEST scoring numbers, averaging 17 a game in one season and really made a reputation for himself as a defensive stopper.

This reputation continued in Sacramento, where Christie teamed with Chris Webber, Peja Stojakovic, and Vlade Divac on some very good Kings teams.  Christie was seldom hurt in Sacramento and played in nearly every game for four straight years while playing lock down D on guys like Kobe Bryant and chipped in 12 points a game in the process.

After his time with the Kings, Christie kicked around the league as a reserve a bit before finally retiring in 2007 at the age of 36.  Not a bad run for a guy from Pepperdine.

Now, back to this wife of his.  The NBA has long been notorious for having its players cheat on their wives.  Shawn Kemp has at least seven kids out there and even squeaky clean Dwight Howard has a kid with a cheerleader.  Gotta love the NBA.  Anyway, with all of this temptation and hot-to-trot cheerleaders, Doug Christie’s wife made the decision to follow him everywhere while he was a player.  She sat court side at every game and was not at all shy in telling the world how she completely ran her husbands show.  They were such a pair of weirdos that they eventually got their own show on BET about how freaking weird they truly were (are).  Every year they renew their weddings vows on their anniversary and throw a big party.  Hmm.

Doug Christie:  Mediocre player, defensive stopper, whipped like no other man in the history of the world.

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Olden Polynice

The "Haitian Sensation" snares another rebound

Olden Polynice is a pretty terrific NBA footnote.  More than that, he is a man.  Do you know anyone, or have your heard of anyone, who has ever been arrested TWICE for impersonating a police officer?  Yeah, didn’t think so.  Olden Polynice has got that on me, you and everyone else in the country.  The guy has no fear and that’s how he played basketball.

Polynice was a lottery pick by the Chicago Bulls back in 1987 after a pretty decent college career at the University of Virginia.  In his three years at Virginia, the big 6’11” center average a paltry 12 points and 7 boards a game.  But we all know that you can’t teach height, so the Bulls thought it wise to draft Olden.  However, they promptly traded Polynice to the Seattle Sonics for their lottery pick,  a guy named Scottie Pippen.  Pippen would go on to become the greatest second fiddle of all-time and an absolute stud on defense.   Polynice?  Well, things went a bit differently for him.

Polynice was traded four times in his career and played for five different teams (he played for two of them twice) and averaged in double figures four times including a career high of 12.5 in 1995-96.  He actually spent the first 6 seasons of his career as a role player.  He got some starts here and there but never really logged any serious minutes.  However, in the middle of the 1993-94 season, Polynice was shipped by the hapless Detroit Pistons to the Sacramento Kings and began to get some serious burn.

Olden was a starter during much of his time in Sacramento and then in Utah.  His teams in Sacramento were not much to write home about, but he was able to catch on at the tail-end of the Malone/Stockton era in Utah and was part of some of the oldest teams in the history of pro sports.  Check out the dudes that played for the 1999-2000 Utah Jazz:

  • Olden Polynice, 35 years old
  • Karl Malone, 36
  • Jeff Hornacek, 36
  • John Stockton, 37
  • Armen Gilliam, 35

The astounding thing here is that most of these guys got serious playing time.  This team of geriatrics managed to put up 55 wins and finish first in their division.  Polynice helped lead the charge with 5 points and 5 boards a game in a starting role.  Talk about mediocre!

Since retiring, Polynice has done some TV work for the Sacramento Monarchs of the WNBA and has helped raise money for his native Haiti.

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Bill Doran

Is that a smile or is he really sad? I can't tell.

This post was the idea of my boss at work so I basically have to get it done today.  His suggestion was to do Bill Doran, a pretty mediocre second baseman from the 1980s and early 1990s.  Doran was a name I remembered from when I was a kid and I’m pretty sure I have a few of his baseball cards at my parents house in Michigan.

Doran got his start in the Houston Astros organization and made his big league debut in 1982 as a late season call up.  In his first full season, 1983, Doran handled the second base duties in Houston and played well enough to pick up a few Rookie of the Year votes after hitting .271 with 12 steals and 8 homers.

Doran’s progression continued over the next seven seasons in Houston.  He usually posted OPS+ totals right around the league average.  Some highlights of his time with the Astros include his 42 steals in 1986 and his 1987 season in which he played all 162 games and hit a career high 16 homers while stealing 31 bases.  Basically, he was a poor man’s Brian Roberts.  Doran also played on the 1986 Astros team which played in one of the more memorable NLCS series of all-time against the New York Mets.

What’s so outstanding and impressive about Doran is that he was ALWAYS about average.  Most guys, even on this site, have a BIG year or two, not Doran.  The guys was consistently mediocre.  His career-high OPS+ was 125, while dipping below 94 just once as a full-time player.  That sort of production is just outstanding.

In 1990, Doran was shipped out of Houston to Cincinnati where he helped the Reds win a World Series.  Playing for the Reds down the stretch that season, Doran hit a robust .373 in 17 games.  He spent the next two years with the Reds before flaming out in only 20-some games in 1993 with the Milwaukee Brewers.

Over the course of his bland, 12 season career, Doran never made an All-Star game and retired with an OPS+ of 106, almost perfectly league-average.  Doran coached a bit in the big leagues after his career was over, but is currently out of baseball.  His son, named after Nolan Ryan, is apparently attempting to be be an actor.  Best of luck to him.

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Delino DeShields

Delino had a huge head.

Delino DeShields is one of the great baseball names of the last century.  He is probably the only person on the planet with that name.  Does anyone out there know any one named Delino DeShields?  Yeah, I didn’t think so.  Aside from having a pretty cool name, Delino DeShields is one of the great mediocre base stealers of all time.  He’s right up there with Tom Goodwin and Eric Young.

I’ve been a DeShields fan since using him to steal all kinds of bases on RBI Baseball III for Nintendo.  I’ve also always been a fan of the Expos.  God bless that old team.  Moving on…

DeShields was a first round pick of the Montreal Expos in 1987 out of high school.  Delino debuted with the Expos in 1990 and finished second in the Rookie of the Year voting behind the immortal David Justice.  That season DeShields helped the speedy Expos tear apart the base paths.  DeShields stole 42 bases as a rookie and hit .289.

In 1991, DeShields led the National League in strikeouts as he topped the 150 plateau.  However, he still stole 56 bases and scored 83 runs.  He continued this kind of play for two more years while playing north of the border.  DeShields stole 187 bases in four years with Montreal before getting traded to the Dodgers after the 1993 season.  It was this trade that makes DeShields a bit of a baseball footnote.

In this deal, the Expos sent the speedy DeShields to the Los Angeles Dodgers for a young pitcher named Pedro Martinez.  You really know the rest of the story.  DeShields continued to post high steal and strikeout numbers to go with a low batting average and on base percentage.  Martinez on the other hand, blossomed into an ace and won Cy Young Awards with the Expos and Red Sox.

Delino spent three years with the Dodgers then bounced around the league with the Cardinals, Orioles, and Cubs before falling out of the bigs after the 2003 season.  DeShields played in the bigs for 13 seasons and stole 463 bases.  Not bad.  however, he retired with a career batting average of only .268, which doesn’t cut it for a top-of-the-order guy like DeShields.

DeShields currently manages minor league ball in the Reds organization.  He is married and has five children, all of whom have names starting with the letter “D”.  Awesome.  In fact, his son Delino Jr. (I guess there is more than one Delino DeShields) is one of the top running back prospects in the country.

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Pro sports has a long standing tradition of turning its former players into its future managers and coaches.  It started back in the day with the role of the player/manager.  Some athletes across all sports have excelled in this role, including the great Bill Russell of the Boston Celtics.  However, greats like Ty Cobb have struggled mightily in that position.

The focus of this Top 10 List is on former players who have gone on to become managers or head coaches in their sport.  You won’t find guys like Joe Torre on this list.  You also will not find greats like Casey Stengel or Sparky Anderson, two guys who didn’t do a lot as players but are Hall of Fame managers.  This list will feature only guys who have been mediocre as both players AND as managers/coaches.  Enjoy!

10. Lloyd McClendon (.244 career hitter / .430 W% as manager):  McClendon could very easily be higher on this list, but I thought he was a great guy to leadoff for this group.  McClendon was a decent hitter during his eight big

Lloyd loses his shit.

league seasons, retiring with an OPS+ of 94.  However, he was your typical, mediocre National League fill-in player.  He would pinch-hit and he could play multiple positions.  His highlight was a player came in the 1993 NLCS when he was forced to start and responded with a .727 AVG and a home run before the Pirates went down to the Braves.  McClendon’s last season as a player was in 1994 with the Pirates.  He returned to the Steel City in 2001 as the Pirates manager and promptly guided them to their first 100 loss season in 16 years.  None of the McClendon led Pirates clubs finished higher than 4th in the division and he was fired in the middle of the 2005 season.  I’m totally sure how he kept his job for that long.  Say what you want about the Mad McClendon, but the guy could really throw a tantrum.  In 2001, McClendon was arguing with the 1st base umpire and ripped the base out of the ground and ran off of the field with it.  He was fined $1,000.

9. Vinny Del Negro (9.1 ppg as a player / About to be fired by the Bulls):  Del Negro was a painfully average basketball player.  For the most part, Vinny was a bench player.  He put together a decent run in the mid-1990s with the David Robinson-led San Antonio Spurs, averaging 14 a game during the 1995-96 season.  When Vinny called it quits as a player in 2001-2002, he had career averages of 9.1 ppg and 3.2 apg.  Not exactly an all-league sort of player.  The circumstances that led to Vinny being named a head coach in the NBA are a bit fuzzy.  Let me put it this way, the guy must have some dirt on several higher-ups in the NBA.  Del Negro managed to turn his job as a radio commentator into a front office position with the Phoenix Suns.  Then, prior to the 2008-09 NBA season, Del Negro was named the head coach of the Bulls despite having ZERO coaching experience.  All he’s done since then is put up a total record of 82-82.  His Bulls teams have gone 41-41 in both seasons he has coached.  In many ways he is perfectly mediocre.

8. Herm Edwards (9 seasons, zero Pro Bowls / .422 W% as NFL coach):  Herm Edwards is probably best known for his

Intensity.

awesome soundbites as an NFL head coach.  His postgame comments were hardly mediocre, but really, the guy never got great results.  As a player, Edwards was a pretty decent defensive back and spent the bulk of his NFL career in Philadelphia with the Eagles.  Edwards peaked as a player during his first two seasons, picking off a combined 13 passes in those two years.  However, he never reached those heights again and was out of the league after nine seasons.  Edwards then worked his way up the coaching ranks and was hired as the head coach of the Jets for the 2001 season.  Herm put up a pair of 10-win seasons, but that was pretty much it.  After a 4-12 season with the Jets he was fired, only to be quickly hired by the Chiefs.  He had a 4 win season in KC and a 2 win season and was canned after the 2008 season.  He has one of the worst winning percentages in the history of the NFL for someone who has coached in at least 100 games.  Ladies and gentleman, Herman Edwards!!  Get excited!!

7. Hal McRae (3 All Star games in 19 seasons / .458 W% as manager):   Hal McRae might be the best player on this list.  He was a pretty good hitter in the 1970s and 1980s spending most of his time as a designated hitter for the Kansas City Royals.  He retired with over 2,000 hits and a .290 average.  However, he was very limited defensively and was never really a guy you were afraid of.  He wasn’t exactly the star of any team he played on.  McRae retired as a player at the age of 41 and was hired to lead the Royals as manager only four years later.  McRae did okay in Kansas City, posting three winning records in four years (including the strike shortened 1994 season).  McRae was known to flip his lid from time to time as a manager and never led a team of his to the post season.

6. ML Carr (10 ppg in 10 seasons / .293 W% as coach):  ML Carr is one of the worst coaches in NBA history.  He took the Boston Celtics franchise and ran the baby right into the ground in the mid-1990s.  Carr put together a mediocre first season as coach with a 33-49 record, narrowly avoiding the humiliating 50-loss mark.  In his second season, the Celtics went 15-67 and Carr soon found himself out of work.  Since then Carr has spent some time working in the WNBA.  Don’t let him tell you this was a lateral move.  As a player, Carr was decent.  Never known as a scorer, he was a decent defensive player.  Carr led the league in steals in 1978-79 while playing for the Detroit Pistons.

5. Gary Kubiak (5 starts in 9 NFL seasons / 31-33 as a coach):  Gary Kubiak started a mind-boggling 5 games in 9 NFL seasons.  Dude barely got off the pine.  Kubiak spent his entire career, after being drafted in the 8th round of the NFL Draft, backing up John Elway.  So, we can’t really blame him for staying on the bench.  In his limited action, Kubiak posted a pretty dismal QB rating of 70.6 and threw 14 career touch downs.  Since “retiring”, Kubiak has been the man calling the shots for the Houston Texans.  In his four seasons there, Kubiak has not seen a lot of improvement, winning between six and nine games each season, including a high of nine in 2009.  For some reason, Gary and his wife have given each of their three boys a first name starting with the letter “K”.  Hopefully none of their middle names start with K.

4. Jim Zorn (67.3 QB rating / 12 wins in 2 seasons as a coach):  If Jim Zorn had been able to hang in there as a coach for more than two years he would be much higher on this list.  As a player, Zorn was painfully mediocre and it’s entirely possible that he used up all of his favors and luck by staying in the NFL as a player for 11 years.  Zorn spent most of his career in Seattle with the Seahawks before making cameo appearances with Tampa Bay and Green Bay.  Zorn has the distinction of leading the league in interceptions and times sacked in separate seasons and threw 30 more picks than TDs for his career.  Zorn was named the head coach of the Redskins before the 2008 season.  He led the Skins to a disappointing 8-win season in 2008 and then followed that up with a 4-win season, making him the most obvious fire in the history of organized sports once the season ended.

3. Ron Washington (414 hits in 10 seasons / Did cocaine while managing the Rangers):  Ron Washington was a utility

Cocaine is one hell of a drug.

infielder as a player.  He was a regular for the Twins in 1982, but spent the rest of his career as a back up for five different clubs.  When Washington was done as a player in 1989, he retired with an OBP below .300 and an OPS+ of 79, meaning he was about 21% beneath your average player.  Yikes.  Washington emerged as a big time managing prospect while working in Oakland.  He was hired before the 2007 season to lead the Texas Rangers.  He has a .496 winning percentage in Texas and was said to be on the hot seat before this season started.  Then, before the 2010 season started, it was revealed by Washington himself, that he did cocaine last summer while managing the Rangers.  Somehow the guy has kept his job.  I don’t understand.

2. Sam Mitchell (8.7 ppg in 13 seasons / .452 W% as a coach):  Sam Mitchell ranks high on this list due to his longevity.  He was never considered a “good” player but stuck around because he was good buddies with Kevin Garnett.  Sam was a member of the first ever Minnesota Timberwolves team and averaged 13 points a game during his first two years in the league.  He also found time to lead the league in fouls during his second season.  Mitchell was reliable, seldom missing time due to injuries and played on some damn good teams in Minnesota and Indiana.  When his playing days were over, Mitchell worked as an assistant and was eventually hired to lead the Toronto Raptors.  Mitchell clashed a bit with the Raptors star Vince Carter.  This helped lead Carter to (I believe this) tank on purpose and force a trade out of Toronto.  Either way, the Raptors never won more than 47 games with Mitchell and when he was fired after 17 games in 2008, he was 33 games under .500 as a coach.

1. Phil Garner (16 seasons, 99 OPS+ / One playoff appearance in 15 years as a manager):  Phil Garner is blessed with on of my all-time favorite nicknames, Scrap Iron.  “Scrap Iron” worked primarily as an infielder during his 16 seasons as a player.  He spent most of his career with the Pirates and Astros.  He was named to three All Star teams and played until he was 39 years old.  Garner was never really great at any one things, but could play all over the infield and wasn’t a total zero at the plate.  When his playing days were done, Scrap Iron moved to the bench for good.  He got his first job managing the Brewers in 1992.  That season the Brewers won 92 games.  No Garner-led team has won that many games in a season since then.  Garner actually hung in Milwaukee for seven more seasons after than and posted a losing record in each season, but never lost more than 93 games.  He really just kept doing enough to NOT get fired; until, ya know, he was fired.  Garner was fired in 1999 and was hired to manage the Tigers in 2000.  Scrap Iron lasted only two full seasons in Detroit and was fired after starting 0-6 in 2002.  He took the 2003 season off, but in 2004 he was hired to manage the Houston Astros.  It was in 2005 that Garner led a team to the playoffs for the first time.  Sadly, he was right back around the .500 mark the next season and sucked the year after that.  In 15 years as a manager he has a mediocre winning percentage of .483.

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Matt Nokes

I spent the last week of March in Arizona.  Along with two other chaperones, I took 11 high school boys out west for a spring training trip.  Over the course of the trip we saw some sites, ate some food and went to a couple of spring training games.  However, the main point of the trip was to get the kids some expert training.  The guys attended three days of pretty intense training with two different camps.

Most of the instructors/coaches at these camps were former ball players, most of them at the minor league level.  At one of these camps, I was standing with my fellow chaperons and we were watching the kids play.  The lead instructor comes up to us and starts chatting.  The guy was drafted by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays back in the 1990s and was actually in their minor league system before they even had a big league team.  Old school, right?  We asked him about where he played and all that jazz and he uncorks this gem of a story.  I’m paraphrasing, but I think it’s pretty close:

A couple years back I was playing independent ball and that was a lot of fun.  We had a player/manager.  Do you guys remember Matt Nokes (We all smile and nod).  That dude was our manager and he was a ton of fun and he was HUGE…and I’ll tell you why in a minute.  (The guy then walks away for about 30 seconds to talk to someone else and then returns.)  The guy LOVED steroids, man.  He loved them so much that he was pushing them on all the other guys, trying to get them to take them.  I think he got at least three other guys hooked.  But man, he loved them and he was BIG.

So there, that’s Matt Nokes apparently.  As a Tigers fan, I have fond memories of a young Nokes taking the league by storm in the late 1980s and then fading off after leaving the club.

Nokes’ best season was in 1987 when he was a rookie with the Tigers.  Nokes debuted with the San Francisco Giants in 1985 and had a cup of coffee with the Tigers in 1986, before finally sticking in 1987.  That season, Nokes made his only All Star appearance and finished third in the Rookie of the Year voting.  The 23-year-old Nokes slugged 32 home runs and won the Silver Slugger award for the catcher position.

The following season was not as kind to Nokes.  He hit only 16 homers in 1988 and followed that up with 9 in an injury shortened 1989 season.  In 1990, the Tigers shipped the struggling slugger to the New York Yankees for a couple of pitchers.  Nokes struggled in New York in 1990, but rebounded with a pair of 20+ HR seasons in 1991 and 1992.  However, Nokes was kind of an all-or-nothing kind of hitter.  In those two power-filled years in New York he had OBP of .308 and .293 and it’s really hard to stick around in the bigs when you’re getting on-base at that rate.

In 1995 Nokes had cameos with the Orioles and the Rockies before exiting the majors for good.  Nokes then bounced around the minors and some independent leagues for the better part of a decade before finally hanging up the spikes for good.

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Jay Schroeder

Jay avoiding no one.

This post is in response to the one that procedes it about Steve Beuerlein.  In that post, Alex referred to Jay Schroeder as “Jay who” and I take offense.  I think everyone knows that Jay Schroeder is best known as the quarterback for the Raiders on Super Tecmo Bowl, a team that features the immortal video game hero, Bo Jackson.  Being linked to Bo in video game lore is probably the best thing that could have ever happened to Schroeder.

Jay Schroeder was first drafted as a baseball player by the Toronto Blue Jays in 1979.  Not only was he drafted, he was  a top prospect, going third overall in that draft.  He was chosen ahead of guys like Andy Van Slyke and Tim Wallach.  Jay was then a third round pick of the Washington Redskins back in 1984 out of UCLA after starting only one game while in college.  I’m not totally sure how that happens, really.  He was thrown right into the mix as a rookie with the Skins, starting nine games in that initial season.

Schroeder took some lumps that rookie season, but earned the starting job his second season.  That season Schroeder made the Pro Bowl and led the Redskins to a 12-4 record and an appearance in the NFC title game.  Schroeder threw for over 4,000 yards that season, but threw just as many interceptions as touchdowns.  He actually finished the season with a QB rating of 72.9, which has to be one of the worst ratings ever for a QB that still made it to the Pro Bowl.

Jay guided the Skins to an 8-2 mark in his third season but injuries prevented him from playing down the stretch or in the playoffs.  Doug Williams took over Jay and led the Redskins to a Super Bowl win in the postseason and that was it for Schroeder in Washington.  Jay was traded in the offseason to the Raiders.

The Raiders and Schroeder had some ups and downs while he was running the show out west.  In 1990, the Raiders went 12-4 behind Marcus Allen and Bo Jackson.  Schroeder finished the season with a QB rating of 90.8, easily the best of his career.  However, in their first playoff game, the Raiders lost to the Buffalo Bills 51-3 and Schroeder threw five interceptions.

Jay bounced around a bit towards the end of his career.  He played for the Raiders for two more years, then had stints with the Bengals and the Cardinals before calling it quits.  For the past few years, Schroeder has enjoyed the high profile job of assistant coach of a high school team.

Apparently, you can also pay Jay to come and talk to you about his Christian faith if you want to.

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