Q&A With Jim Rome On The Dream Team, Dwight Howard, And More
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With the Major League Baseball All-Star break coming to an end, this past week is said to be the slowest week of the sports calendar. But with the attention the Kansas City fans drew on Monday and Tuesday night, the current MLB standings and the NBA free-agent frenzy the week wasn’t as quiet as it usually is.
For perspective on these stories, Jim Rome, host of Rome on CBS Sports Network and The Jim Rome Show on the radio joined CBS Local Sports to give his take on the biggest topics in the major sports.
CBS Local Sports: Robinson Cano was the target for Kansas City fans during the Home Run Derby and All-Star Game after failing to keep to his word and pick a Royal for the Derby. But to Cano’s credit, he had to pick the team before the Royals’ Billy Butler was named an All-Star. Was Cano treated unfairly in Kansas City or was the treatment just?
Rome: I thought it was unfair. I understand the Kansas City fans standing up for their guy and I can respect that and I can appreciate that, but what was Cano supposed to do? Who was he going to leave off that team? He made the right choices, and by the way, it’s Home Run Derby, nobody gives a damn about it anyway. I have no idea why they got that fired up about it.
CBS Local Sports: The second half is about to begin with the Red Sox tied for last place in the AL East and the Phillies in last place in the NL East. Meanwhile, the Orioles are holding on to a wild-card berth and the Pirates are in first place in the NL Central. Is it more surprising that the Red Sox and Phillies are struggling the way they are or that the Orioles and Pirates are finally having winning seasons?
Rome: I think that ultimately I’m always going to expect the big-market teams to come through. With the way Boston ended last season I thought they’d respond and do better, so I find that more surprising. Baltimore and Pittsburgh are in it, but I want to see how their success translates over the course of a long season. They’re in it, and it’s the first half of the year and it’s great, but the season is still a marathon. If those teams are there at the end of the year then I might answer differently, but right now I think the fact that the big-market teams aren’t where we expect them to be is more surprising.
CBS Local Sports: Now that there are two wild cards in each league with the teams meeting in a one-game playoff before the division series, are you for or against the new postseason format?
Rome: It makes things more interesting. More and more fans are going to be in this thing later and later in the season. Personally, I didn’t think the format was broken. I didn’t want to fix what wasn’t broken, but it’s hard to argue against if it gives more fans more interest later in the season since that’s a good thing. But to your point, if that’s going to make it so Boston gets in when they shouldn’t be in then I don’t know how that’s better for the game.
CBS Local Sports: Also over the All-Star break, Bud Selig said that there was little push from the league to increase the role of replay in the game. Do you think baseball needs to add more replay to the game?
Rome: I’m all about the human element. I think it’s part of the game, and it’s always going to be part of the game. But if you have technology and you don’t make use of it then that’s a waste since it can make the game better. I wouldn’t get carried away and put robots behind the plate like some guys want, but I think that with the technology there and the fact that you can use it and it wouldn’t take that long, they should take advantage of it.
CBS Local Sports: In 2006 the Mets unsuccessfully tried to unseat the Yankees as New York’s team with a core of David Wright, Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes and an NLCS run, and in 2009 and 2010, the Jets unsuccessfully tried to unseat the Giants with back-to-back AFC Championship appearances. Do you think the Nets, with the move they have made, have a chance to make New York a Nets town rather than a Knicks town?
Rome: I think if they had gotten Dwight Howard they would stand a much better chance at doing that. There’s definitely a buzz there and they’re more interesting than they were, but I still think it’s a Knicks town, and the Nets have a long way to go. Here in Los Angeles, the Clippers have this buzz and this excitement, but it’s a Lakers town and it’s always going to be a Lakers town. My sense is that’s how New York is going to be, but I think Brooklyn certainly is more interesting, and the Nets are more interesting now than they would have been.
CBS Local Sports: How do you feel Dwight Howard has handled his situation with the Magic and trying to push his way out of Orlando, possibly to Brooklyn?
Rome: Oh, bad. He’s handled it all wrong and extremely badly. This is a guy that everybody used to like that now everybody’s frustrated with. I get phone calls all day long on my radio show like “Hey Rome, just kill us right now … when is this thing going to end?” and “It feels like we’re all getting waterboarded.” In effect it’s not as bad as The Decision, but it’s almost the same in the sense that people now feel the way about Dwight Howard that they did about LeBron James. They used to love Howard and now they can’t stand him. I think the guy’s handled it all wrong.
CBS Local Sports: Usually players leave money on the table to stay with their current or hometown team, but Ray Allen left money on the table to join another team. Did Allen make the right choice by leaving the Celtics for the rival Heat?
Rome: I don’t know what’s going on in his head, but I can understand what he did, and I respect what he did. The guy’s a free agent and he can do what he wants because it’s his turn. It just seems to me that it’s more than just the money. Whenever a guy says, “It’s not about the money,” it’s about one thing: the money. But Allen left money on the table, so clearly there were issues with him and Rondo and with him and the organization. If it’s your chance for one last contract and you leave money on the table you clearly aren’t happy where you were.
CBS Local Sports: There was talk on Thursday and a back-and-forth between Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley about whether the 1992 Dream Team is better than the 2012 team, and which team would win in a game. Which team do you think is better?
Rome: I talked to Mike Krzyzewski about it on Rome on Thursday and I asked him that question because if there’s one guy that can speak to it it’s Coach K. He’s the coach of this team and he was an assistant coach on the other team, so he’s been on both sides. His response to me was along the lines of “As soon as we win a gold medal or if we win a gold medal with this team then maybe I’ll have that discussion.” I think it’s ’92, but let these guys win their gold medal now and then we’ll talk about it.
CBS Local Sports: There’s been a lot of talk about what it will take for the Jets and their fans to turn on Mark Sanchez in favor of Tim Tebow. People have joked that it will be the first three-and-out of the year or the first time Sanchez throws an interception. What do you think it will take for Tebow to become the starter, and how early in the season could it happen, if it does happen?
Rome: I think people that say that are only half joking, but there’s nothing funny about this. I think there’s going to be an awful lot of pressure on Mark Sanchez to get off to a quick start because you know the fans are going to do what they always do with Tim Tebow. The most popular quarterback in town is always the starting quarterback unless the backup quarterback is the most popular guy in the league like Tim Tebow. So I think that Sanchez and even the coaching staff is under a great deal of pressure to make sure they get out quickly because New York fans will be coming hard and fast for Tebow, and it won’t take very long.
CBS Local Sports: There’s a long way to go, but with training camp creeping up in the coming weeks, who do you like here in the middle of July to represent the NFC and AFC in the Super Bowl?
Rome: It’s tough to say. I think it’s really early on, but I think in the NFC I still like the Green Bay Packers quite a bit. In the AFC I want to wait and see how the whole thing develops and how it all plays out, but I have this sneaking suspicion that even with the new offensive coordinator and some changes that the Steelers are going to be tough to beat.
CBS Local Sports: As part of CBS Local’s “Pregame” feature to find out what sports figures do to prepare for their game or broadcast, is there any specific routine you follow before going on the air?
Rome: I do the same things every single day. I have to be on the air on radio at 9 a.m. Pacific, so I’m generally in my office between 5:30 and 6 and I prepare for both my radio show and the TV show Rome right up until 9:00. I do my radio show from 9 to 12 then I shoot across town and do the TV show, which airs at 3 p.m. Pacific and then I wind down for a couple hours. I have dinner and work out and then I’m back at my office from 6:30 to 10:30 at night. I get up again at 4:30 and the process just repeats every single day.
Jim Rome is host of the 30-minute sports news and commentary show ROME, which airs weekdays at 6:00 pm, ET on the cable channel CBS Sports Network. For more information and to find out local channel information for CBS Sports Network, go to CBSSportsNetwork.com