The TSD Best of 2010 Debate… Bad Contracts and Great Context

Read the opposing arguments from Loyal Homer and Bleacher Fan.

This was an easy year to love here at TSD. Not only do we enjoy providing entertaining and informative analysis of the current world of sports, we love giving historical context to modern events. In fact, it is the history surrounding a given event that provides the context necessary to understand, appreciate, disparage, or lament. Context and history gives fanaticism meaning. That’s our charge here at The Sports Debates, to give fandom meaning, a dose of reality, yet still keep it entertaining.

In the department of entertaining, there are a few people, organizations, and cities that we pick on routinely. We pick on these not because we are out for blood, but because they routinely showcase everything that should not be done in sports.

We pick on guys like Barry Zito who do everything they can to score a huge contract, and then refuse to hold up their end of the bargain (if you can call it a bargain) and play well. We also pick on the Toronto Blue Jays as we are all baffled by how that city still has an MLB team. We also pick on the Chicago Cubs, because few sports organizations in the history of the world do a worse job of getting out of its own way. It’s laughable and comical. I should know, since I’m a lifelong fan.

My favorite debate of the past year is the “The 2010 Worst Contract in Baseball Debate” as it combines these perpetual sports realities, coincidentally all in MLB, into one neat package that really showcases what this website is all about.

The debate revolved around Barry Zito – who still fails to live up to what he was supposed to be when he signed that huge contract with a San Francisco Giants team that managed to win a World Series without him – Vernon Wells, and Alfonso Soriano.

You, our loyal readers, voted for the winner in this debate and scored us a tie between Barry Zito and Alfonso Soriano. Though the debate still remains tied, it was full of some of the best historical context and most entertaining one liners in any debate all year. My personal favorite line is from Babe Ruthless’ article about Barry Zito where he writes:

Barry Zito was brought to the City by the Bay to be a franchise player, the face of the organization. As it turns out he became a face the organization would probably want to put a paper bag over.

Great line, something the Babe has become known for in his career here at TSD, a tenure that just cracked the one year mark.

My favorite breakdown of the year was the one on Soriano’s contract. What is interesting about is that reviewing the history of Soriano’s career before he came to the Cubs, there was really no good reason to sign him to a huge deal. He had never proven that he understood the game very well, or that any of his processes and abilities were repeatable. In fact, all he has done is prove that he’s a one pitch hitter, an below average outfielder, and a selfish guy who never seems willing to work hard enough to actually contribute to making a team better. Further, realizing that Soriano is the ninth highest paid player in all of MLB is staggering. Considering the actual talent that resides at positions 1-8, it is mind-blowing that Soriano has found his way on to this list.

It was a great debate concept, too. This is a debate that we can have annually in every major professional sport. Heck, maybe we will.

I am also thrilled that Optimist Prime joined our ranks this year. His eternal optimism provides some superb context and a reminder that it is easy for fans to get cynical, and when they do they lose touch with reality. Sports teams are forever doomed to failure. Optimist is important because he reminds us of that. He’s the type of fan that walks Bleacher Fan in off the ledge of Browns Stadium.

I hope you have all enjoyed your sports year as much as we’ve enjoyed writing about it for you. It’s been a strange year in many ways, and a routine year in many others. I look forward to 2011. I hope that we have both an NBA season and an NFL season. Regardless, we’ll have plenty of debates for you. Now that 2010 is history, it becomes part of the history we’ll draw on to keep bringing you what you’ve come to expect from TSD.

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