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Frankly Frankel: August 6, 2016

06 Aug

Michael Phelps claims he never gave it everything he had, Russell Westbrook does the Thunder a huge solid by signing an extension, a potential future Yankees dream team, Teixeira announces his plans to retire and A-Rod should follow suit.  This is Frankly Frankel on this Saturday, August 6, 2016.

  • If you haven’t watched Michael Phelps’ exclusive interview with Bob Costas, do yourself a favor and watch it.  The biggest takeaway I had from watching it was Phelps admitting he’s never competed giving 100 percent effort and essentially did zero preparation for the 2012 London Olympics.
  • So what Phelps is saying is that in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Phelps competed in eight events, won eight gold medals, and wasn’t even giving it everything he had???  I get the guy is a freakishly talented athlete, but c’mon!
  • It only gets worse from there.  Phelps, who won four gold and two silver medals in London in 2012, said he hardly prepared for those games and won races based on nothing but pure talent.  Either Phelps is simply the most talented and gifted individual that has ever lived, or he’s the cockiest person to ever walk this Earth.  Based on the impression I got from his tone, I’d have to say it’s appears like it’s a combination of both.
  • As for the Rio Olympics, Phelps claims he’s happier (following bouts with depression and a stint in rehab for alcohol abuse in between London and Rio), stronger and more motivated than he’s ever been before, and that he’ll compete at 100 percent for the first time in his career.  He’s slated to compete in a minimum of three events, and a maximum of five, so based on his own testimony, he should obliterate the field with all gold medals once again.
  • Whether Phelps will dominate or not remains to be seen, but he is unquestionably the must-see performer at these games.
  • Other must watch events for me will include any race featuring Usain Bolt, every USA Men’s Basketball team outing especially since Marv Albert will be on the call, and my favorite Olympic event, 2-on-2 beach volleyball.  I watch it once every four years, but thoroughly enjoy it every time.
  • After that report came out, it was presumed Thunder GM (and pride of Emerson College) Sam Presti would look to trade Westbrook for a king’s ransom in an attempt to quickly rebuild the franchise since the chances of him staying with the Thunder appeared slim since he could hand pick any team and situation he wanted in his quest for his first career championship.
  • Presti though, had other ideas, and on the surface it seems like Westbrook is committed to sticking it out in Oklahoma City.  I have a different view of his contract extension.  I view it as Presti and Westbrook each doing a solid for one another.  As part of signing the deal, Westbrook gets a salary bump of nearly $9 million ($17.8 million compared to his new salary of $26.5 million) for this season and Presti doesn’t have to worry, at least at this present moment, of losing Westbrook for nothing after Durant spurned OKC.
  • What the Westbrook extension does is it gives Presti more time to find the team willing to let go of everything it has ever known in an attempt to trade for Westbrook.  It’s a win-win for both sides, but a major loss for the rest of the NBA since along with paying Westbrook maximum contract money, whichever team wants him will have to to move hell, heaven and Earth to acquire him (savvy Emerson College move right there).
  • In his press conference announcing his extension with the Thunder, Westbrook also confirmed the bombshell report (at least in my eyes) that he found out Durant would be leaving the Thunder on social media and all Durant did was send him a text message informing him of his decision after the fact.
  • I always thought Durant and Westbrook were inseparable, especially since they always sat side-by-side for every one of their postgame press conferences, and there was little to no doubt in my mind the first non-immediate family person Durant would inform about his plans to leave the Thunder would be Westbrook.
  • So either there was a secret feud no one knew about, or the two stopped talking after Westbrook got the hint Durant would be departing.  Either way, I’m highly eager to learn what really happened because something’s just not adding up.  His “sting for who” line when asked if it stings more that Durant chose the Warriors was an all-timer.
  • Obviously, there’s not a lot to be excited about with the current state of the Yankees.  The playoffs appear out of reach and the hope is the reinvigorated farm system will one day in the not too distant future make its presence known in the Bronx.  But that could be two or three years down the road.  Thankfully, Andrew Marchand, who covers the Yankees for ESPN, wrote a column that got me really jacked up.
  • Marchand explored the unrealistic possibility (hence possible) that after the 2018 season, the Yankees could make one of the greatest free agent splashes by signing Bryce Harper, Manny Machado and Jose Fernandez all in one offseason and crafting a picture of what that introductory press conference could look like.  It was epic.
  • He also created a mock opening day lineup for the 2019 season that goes as follows: Clint Frazier (LF), Bryce Harper (RF), Manny Machado (3B), Aaron Judge (DH), Greg Bird (1B), Gary Sanchez (C), Didi Gregorious (who’s blossomed before our eyes this season) (SS), Gleyber Torres (2B), Jacoby Ellsbury (CF) and Jose Fernandez on the mound.  If that doesn’t get you pumped up at what could be in store for the Yankees, then I’m not sure what else will.
  • I wanted to share my thoughts on Mark Teixeira announcing he will retire after the season.  Teixeira came into this season in the final year of his eight-year, $180 million contract he signed with the Yankees following the 2008 season, and based on how his 2016 was unfolding, his value to the Yankees or another team moving forward was next to nothing.
  • The guy has too much pride to stick around making a minimum amount of money compared to what he’s used to making, all the while not being nearly the player he’d like to be, so he decided to hang ’em up.  Can’t blame him.
  • By deciding to retire, the Yankees can move forward with their plans to have Greg Bird be the every day first baseman starting next season, but Brian Cashman would be wise to bring in a reliable veteran back-up since Bird is out for all of 2016 following offseason surgery to repair a torn labrum.
  • The Yankees saw first hand the potential a healthy Greg Bird can bring after he was called up to the Majors last season, but the key there is him staying healthy, and it would be a brutal mistake if Cashman went all-in on Bird being healthy for all of next season.
  • I’ll remember Teixeira as a player who played an integral role on the 2009 championship team, hitting a walk-off home run to beat the Twins in Game 2 of the ALDS that year, and hitting one of the most overlooked home runs in Game 2 of the World Series off Pedro Martinez to tie the score at 1 with the Phillies.  Up to that point in the World Series, the Yankees offense had done next to nothing, and that Teixeira homer jump started everything.
  • Teixeira followed up his stellar 2009 campaign with two more great years in 2010 and 2011, hitting a combined 72 home runs and driving in 219 runs.  He began to take a step back in 2012, with his home run total declining from 39 to 24, and his RBI total dipping from 111 to 84.  While training for the 2013 World Baseball Classic, Teixeira hurt his wrist and played in just 15 games that season.  He returned to play in 123 games in 2014, but wasn’t the same guy he was previously.
  • Last season, Teixeira turned back the clock and was on pace to potentially have his best season as a Yankee before he fouled a pitch of his leg, resulting in a fracture.  It was an irreplaceable blow, and the Yankees were never able to recover.  Then this season, Teixeira once again had a lot of trouble staying healthy and the player the Yankees relied so heavily upon the season prior did not come through, and with Greg Bird already sidelined, Cashman’s all-in bet on Teixeira remaining healthy and productive backfired.
  • Teixeira gave the Yankees everything they could have asked for in those first three years, had two more years in which he lived up to his contract, but had two wash years where the Yankees might have been good enough to win it all if Teixeira had stayed healthy.  With Teixiera, there’s no denying he gave it his all every time, and that’s something you can’t take away from him.
  • I just wish Alex Rodriguez would see the writing on the wall like Teixeira did and decide to retire.  Now that’s a move that would win back the fan base.
  • Be sure to tune in next time for another edition of “Frankly Frankel” and make sure to follow me on Twitter @lucasfrankel.
 
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