Irony alert: Reggie Jackson tells an athlete to be quiet and humble

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I don’t give a pair of fetid dingo’s kidneys about the NFL playoffs and — certain strokes of unadulterated genius aside — don’t care if the Jets beat the Patriots this weekend or vice-versa.  But Mr. October Reggie Jackson does. And he’s had it with the trash-talking of the Jets’ Antonio Cromartie:

Former New York Yankees’ legend Reggie Jackson ripped Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie on Thursday, telling him to, “Shut up and play football.”
The slugger, a guest on ESPN 1050 in New York, didn’t hold back when it came to talking about Cromartie, who called Patriots quarterback Tom Brady an “ass——.”

“What are you talking about? What are you doing? Shut up, play football,” Jackson said. “What are you talking about [Patriots coach] Bill Belichick and these people for? Spend your time looking at film, spend your time knocking down a pass. What are you doing? You’re not affecting Brady; you’re wasting time.”

…“Go look at the hardware, dude. Walk through the lobby up there and look at the stuff that’s there,” Jackson said. “You don’t have that, you don’t have anything close to that.

“You might want to shut up, you might learn something. Read, you might figure something out. Watch film, you might get educated. If not, you have a chance to get embarrassed on Sunday. I hope you don’t, because I like the Jets.”

Stuff Reggie Jackson is credited with saying during his career:

  • “After Jackie Robinson the most important black in baseball history is Reggie Jackson, I really mean that.”
  • “I am the best in baseball.”
  • “Fans don’t boo nobodies.”
  • “I didn’t come to New York to be a star, I brought my star with me.”
  • “I’d like to be able to light the fire a little bit.”
  • “The only reason I don’t like playing in the World Series is I can’t watch myself play.”
  • “This team, it all flows from me. I’m the straw that stirs the drink. Maybe I should say me and Munson, but he can only stir it bad.”

Hey, I think that kind of bravado is great fun, and I wouldn’t have Reggie Jackson any other way. But really, he’s the last dude that should be telling anyone to “shut up and play.”

The Giants are winning but they’re still gonna sell

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The state of baseball in general, the state of the National League in particular and the state of the San Francisco Giants as a competitor are conspiring to create what seems like at least a mildly absurd situation.

The Giants, a veteran-laden team that, as recently as this past offseason but definitely within the past couple of years, were at least talking about being on a win-now footing, just swept a four-game series, have won five straight games and have won 12 of 14 to pull themselves to within two and a half games of a playoff spot.

Yet, that’s all for temporary show, because they’re about to sell off. At least according to Jeff Passan at ESPN. Giants president Farhan Zaidi tried to push back on that in a radio interview yesterday, denying that the club has foreclosed the possibility of a postseason push, but I’m not really buying that and I don’t think most people are.

On one level it makes sense to ignore the recent surge and forge on with a rebuild. Sure, the Giants are winning but they’re not exactly good. They’re two and a half out of the Wild Card, but there are many teams ahead of them. There’s a lot of reason to think that they’re playing in good fortune right now and that that, rather than finding some extra gear of sustainable better play, is what’s to credit. Hot streaks can happen at any time but the trade deadline only comes once a year. When you have the best starter available in Madison Bumgarner and the best reliever available in Will Smith, you gotta make those deals. That’s what I’d probably do if I ran the Giants and I think that that’s, wisely, what Zaidi will do.

Still, it’s an odd look, less for the Giants specifically than for baseball as a whole. We may in an era of cheap front offices who don’t like to contend if it means spending money, but it’s unfair to paint the Giants with that brush. They’ve spent money and acquired talent and have done whatever they can to extend their 2010-2014 mini-dynasty a few more years and in doing so they’ve made a lot of fans happy. That team has pretty much reached the end and, even in an earlier, more competitive era, they’d not be properly criticized for starting in on a rebuild. Heck, they’d be excused if they had done it a year or two earlier, frankly.

But, because so many teams have punted on improving themselves, these aging Giants are at least superficially competitive. As such, when they do sell off in the coming days, it’ll look to some like they’re waving a white flag or something when they’re not really doing that. I mean, the Rockies and the Pirates, among other teams, should be much better than they are but didn’t seem all that interested in improving, thereby helping the Giants look better, right? It’s less a knock on the Giants for rebuilding when they’re within striking distance of the playoffs than it is on the rest of the league for allowing a team like the Giants to be within striking distance of a playoff spot.

But that’s where we are right now. An insanely competitive Wild Card race from teams that, on the whole, are rather unconcerned with being competitive. What a time to be a baseball fan.