The week that was

Jim Rodriguez: Some MLB teams have no chance in hell

The Pirates said goodbye to Gerrit Cole (above) and Andrew McCutcheon. Sbnation.com

What do Major League Baseball and World Wrestling Entertainment have in common? For a disturbing number of teams, the entrance music to WWE boss “Mr. McMahon” is a perfect description of the 2018 season: “No Chance in Hell.” 

Clubs like the Marlins and Pirates will be playing out the string as early as Opening Day. 

What must it feel like for a fan in Miami or Pittsburgh to know that your squad has no chance? I’m not talking winning a World Series or the division or squeezing in as the second Wild Card. Shoot, I’m not even talking about finishing above 500.

I thought revenue sharing was suppose to eliminate this kind of purging of a franchise. The luxury tax was installed to prevent the big clubs from spending smaller teams out of contention. Yet, I still see the Yankees trading for the reigning National League Most Valuable Player, Giancarlo Stanton, all the while taking on his quarter billion dollar salary.

Are the big spenders just smarter? Do they have better owners?

Disney recently bought BAMTech, Major League Baseball’s interactive and internet company for 1.58 billion dollars. As a result, each franchise is getting a check for a cool $50 million bucks this season.

The Marlins are using that money plus a scandalous payroll slash, to turn a profit. Not to win. Not to get better. But to make a profit. Another generation in south Florida gets to root for the visiting team at Marlins Park.

The butterfly effect is that players that remain on the team now want out. Christian Yelich’s agent says the relationship between his client and the Marlins is “irretrievably broken.” Whoa.

Josh Harrison said he wants out of Pittsburgh after the club traded their best pitcher, Gerrit Cole, and face of the franchise, Andrew McCutchen. Trying building a fan base on that foundation.

Clubs like the Marlins and Pirates will point to World Series titles in Chicago and Houston as the endgame. Yet for cities like Miami, Tampa, Oakland and now Pittsburgh the World Series is not realistic. It’s a sham. Teams are trying to catch lightning in bottle as opposed to building long term success. That’s like saying your retirement plans are winning the lottery. Good luck with that.

The lasting legacy of former Marlins owner, Jeffrey Loria, is not winning a World Series. It’s exposing the cold, soul crushing reality of the business of baseball. Loria openly questioned having a $100 million dollar payroll for a fourth place team. So after years and years of mediocrity, Loria sold the franchise for $1.6 billon dollars. His original investment was $30 million dollars.

That’s the real blueprint. That’s what Derek Jeter is trying to do in Miami. 

This is on MLB Commissioner, Rob Manfred. This game is hard enough when you’re actually trying to win. It’s a shameful spectacle when you’re not trying to win.

Good luck you guys. Plenty of good seats available.

You can listen to my radio show, The Sports Bosses , weekdays at 10am ET on SBNation Radio. Follow me on Twitter @mediarodriguez

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ROCKETS BEAT THUNDER

Rockets blast Thunder in home opener, 124-91

Rockets take care of business in home opener. Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images.

The Houston Rockets had an impressive outing versus the Oklahoma City Thunder after an embarrassing loss against the Minnesota Timberwolves Wednesday night. They took care of business at home on Friday night, which was a surprising blowout. The Rockets didn't have to worry about Karl-Anthony Towns screaming at Alperen Sengun or Anthony Edwards telling Coach Silas to call a timeout. Instead, they took their frustrations out on the Thunder (another younger core).

"We responded and bounced back from that game 1," Silas said. "I wouldn't say it was taking anything out. It was just learning and applying to what you learn and that's going to be us this year. Applying to what you learn and getting better and having some games like we had the other day. Veteran teams have some games when they don't play as well they want."

Christian Wood led the way, as he controlled the paint on all aspects with rebounding and putbacks. He played an incredible game after having a poor performance versus the Timberwolves. Silas showed complete trust in allowing Wood to open sets, as he walked the ball down the court several times, and in transition too. Wood became aggressive on the perimeter with open shooting and tough shots, and long strides towards the rim. He finished the night with 31 points and 13 rebounds off 66 percent shooting from the field.

The young core for the Thunder had a tough night defending Wood from every aspect. Hopefully, he keeps this play up. Silas loved the space that was created throughout the game for Wood, which included the help from Eric Gordon, as he continued to play better. Wood continues to develop underneath the Silas umbrella. He had a great feel for off-the-dribble shooting a few times. Wood becomes more dangerous when space is created on the court.

"It allows me to show what I can do. It allows the floor to be open and I can create for other guys and create for myself," Wood said.

As Gordon continues to impress, his teammate Kevin Porter Jr was amazed with his performance.

Gordon looked marvelous inside and outside of the paint, as it looked like a time ripple. The younger guards of the Thunder had a tough time staying in front of Gordon. His size and strength gave the Thunder a huge problem. Gordon is shooting the ball better too, as he is shooting the three-ball at 70 percent this season. Although it's a small sample size, Gordon is trying to overcome his shooting struggles from last year. Gordon finished with 22 points on 66 percent shooting versus the Thunder.

"EG is the biggest part of this squad," Porter said. He comes in and just scores. We need somebody off the bench to do that. He is our guy when me and J come out, it's EG time and he knows that, and comes in aggressive. So much energy on the bench, and we need that every night from him if we want a chance to win."

As I recently mentioned Porter, his facilitation did look better versus the Thunder than the Timberwolves. Porter had nine turnovers in his first game but managed to have two Friday night. He made great slip passes and found open teammates in the open corner. Porter forced a good number of passes versus the Timberwolves but looked more relaxed Friday night. The hardest position in the NBA is the point guard position, but Silas will not allow Porter to fail. Instead of nine turnovers, Porter dished out nine assists. Silas said:

"Bounce back right, going from nine turnovers to nine assists… I think he had two turnovers tonight, which is great. He is making plays for his teammates, and he was really focused."

Porter's shiftiness and creative ability allowed his teammates to get open looks near the rim. He had 18 points because of his step-back threes and first step going towards the basket. Thankfully, Porter is a great ball handler, which confuses defenders on different spots on the court. It's almost like watching a ballerina skate on ice in the Olympics. Hopefully, his confidence continues to get better throughout the year. Porter shot the three-ball at 50 percent tonight. Efficiency is key for Porter this year.

"I'm just trying to let the game slow down," Porter said. "I had a lot of turnovers last game and I just wanted to piggyback and learn from them and learn from some of my forced passes and reads. And sometimes I still force it a little bit. My guys hate that, and sometimes I'm still passive and I'm working on that. When to pass and score and bounce it out, and tonight I felt like I did a good job of that."

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