There was a time when I was really into Sports Illustrated. Kathy Ireland had a lot to do with that, but I dug the stories, too - so much so that I kept every issue of SI from when I was 8 years old until I turned 18. (As you might imagine, I was a huge hit with the ladies back then.)
At some point, for reasons I can't fully remember, I stopped archiving the magazine. Then I gave up reading it all together. I was thinking about renewing my subscription until I recently stumbled upon SI's rankings of baseball's general managers. I doubt Time Warner will be getting a check from me anytime soon.
If you expected Phils shot-caller Ruben Amaro Jr. - a guy who made some of the biggest trades in baseball over the last year and also helped build a team that reached two straight World Series - to be in the top 10, you guessed too high. If you thought the Fightin's' 93 wins last season were enough to move Amaro into the top half of MLB's 30 GMs, you thought wrong. And if you believe he's done better work than Chicago Cubs GM Jim Hendry - who came in at No. 16 on SI's list, despite the fact that his club cratered last season and he threw lots of money at walking tantrum Milton Bradley - then you obviously fail to follow SI's peculiar logic.
Amaro was rated 19th, just four spots in front of Mike Rizzo from the Nationals and seven ahead of Omar Minaya of the Mets. Combined, the Nats and Mets won only 36 more games than the Phils last season. Even stranger: Amaro barely beat out Pirates GM Neal Huntington, who filled the No. 20 slot. Did you know they still played baseball in Pittsburgh? Me, either.
Here's SI's curious explanation: "One pennant in one year is a nice record, and having landed two of baseball's five best pitchers - Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee - in trade within a few months is even better given that these were moves he alone gets credit for. On the other hand the truly strange trade sending Lee to Seattle and the odd, if so far successful, decision to sign 37-year-old designated hitter-masquerading-as-an-outfielder Raul Ibanez to a long-term contract have to count heavily against him."
Uh-huh. To review: The mag stipulated that going one-for-one on the pennant front is impressive and gave Amaro credit for acquiring Halladay and Lee and the "so far successful" Ibanez. (By the way: Ibanez turns 38 this June, but his deal expires next season. When did three years become a "long-term" contract?)
The big beef seems to be Amaro's decision to ship Lee to Seattle, and that's fair enough. But when measured against Amaro's obvious success and the fact that he locked up one of the game's best pitchers without paying a hefty open-market free-agent price, how does the good not outweigh the bad and secure the guy a higher spot on the list? No credit for grabbing Placido Polanco? No nod for keeping Shane Victorino in town? SI makes Amaro sound like a slightly less worrisome version of Ed Wade - a man potentially capable of drowning facedown in his Froot Loops if left unattended too long.
If you're curious, SI had Wade ranked 29th. At least the mag got something right.
Over the weekend, four armed robbers reportedly held up the European Poker Tour's no-limit hold 'em main event in Berlin. The robbers went after cash, and no one was seriously injured. Berlin police have begun an investigation, though they said they have no clear leads as to the identities of the men who made off with a "low-six figure sum."
Anyone who watches poker knows they have cameras all over the place. The players can't reach for their chips without getting a close-up on their cuticles. So how did the robbers get away and leave investigators stumped? Were the cops out at Das Donut? How is that possible?
The Eagles signed restricted free agent wide receiver Jason Avant to a five-year deal yesterday. Good for them and Avant. He's a nice player. Now: Does anyone know whether he can rush the passer or play linebacker or fill in at safety or spell LeSean McCoy at running back? Something to ask him about as the Birds wade slowly into the free agent pool. . . . Producers for the Oscars reportedly cut jokes about Tiger Woods from the material used by hosts Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin. An opportunity missed. . . . Your regular Page 2 programming reminder: Tomorrow's "Ask Gonzo" chat will be held on Philly.com at 1 p.m. Potential topics: The Eagles picking up Michael Vick's roster bonus, deciding whether HBO's How to Make It in America is any good, and $1 dog night at the Sixers. This probably goes without saying, but cracks about the last subject (Dogs? Sixers? Anyone?) are encouraged.