Monday, April 21, 2014

Guess who has some bad ideas and unfunny jokes to share? (Part 3 of oh God he's just going to keep doing mailbags until the NBA Finals end, isn't he)


New mailbag column.  Same stupidity you've come to expect from all parties involved in its creation.

I know, I know … we’re two days late with the weekly NBA bag again. In my defense, my entire life revolves around the free-falling Celtics, 

Pending the results of the draft lottery, the lowest they can pick is 7th.  Boy, do I sure hope they end up picking 7th.  How this can come to pass: none of the Bucks (owners of the most ping pong ball combinations--25% of them), Sixers (owners of 19.9% of all combinations), Magic (owners of 15.9%) or Celtics (owners of 10.4%) have any of their combinations picked.  So for each of the three actual lottery picks, there's a 71.2% chance any of those teams has one of their combinations picked, and a 28.8% chance one of the other ten teams in the lottery has their combination picked.  So the odds that all four of those teams miss out on each of the three selections if (.288)^3, or 2.4%.  Hey, it could happen (McWorrrrrld!).

Chad Ford’s Big Board 8.0 and endless conversations about Wiggins, Jabari and Embiid right now.

Come to think of it, it would also be pretty fun for the Celtics to pick 5th, causing them to presumably miss out on those three guys and Julius Randle.  IT'S NAWT FAY-UHHHHHH!  It would be like 2007 all over again, only this time without two other teams each handing the Celtics a future HOFer for pennies on the dollar, followed by a Celtics championship.

Do you realize that, on Tuesday, May 20, your buddy Bill will appear on a one-hour NBA Countdown show that happens to include the live 2014 NBA draft lottery results?

Thanks, I'll be sure to DVR it, and either delete without watching if the Celtics move up, or watch for the schadenfreude if they move down.

Do you realize they’re also having me do the NBA draft with Rece Davis, Jay Bilas and Jalen Rose again?

Hopefully an NBA coach gets a chance to tell you you're a fucking idiot live on the air again this year.

Do you realize that ESPN is expecting me to be coherent for both of these live events?

If you want to get drunk before you go on set, and then spout some shit that is flagrantly racist/homophobic/otherwise worthy of getting you fired, that's fine with me.  You absolutely have my permission.

It’s like a science experiment. Maybe they’re trying to get my head to explode so they can wipe my contract off the ESPN books. 

Come on, that would never happen.  Human heads don't work that way.  Let's just go with my get drunk and then pop off at the mouth plan instead.

It’s the next best thing to using their amnesty on me. As for this particular column, as always, these are actual emails from actual readers.

And may they all catch herpes and hepatitis.

Q: Can you fire up the “SIMMONS FOR GM” campaign again, my friend? 

DIE DIE DIE DIE KILL IT WITH FIRE

This team needs new blood, and what better way for the new ownership group to show the community that things will be different than bringing in a guy who will make changes, 100 percent guaranteed? 

Yeah, what could POSSIBLY go wrong?  A guy with no sports management experience, who's demonstrably stupid, being given control of a team that's not in particularly good shape right now?

How about it, Simmons? I don’t want to have to cheer for the Seattle Bucks, man. Do they even have deer there?
—Jake Klipp, Milwaukee

Oh snap great point!  Also, UTAH Jazz?  LOS ANGELES Lakers?  LOLOLOLOL I BET NO ONE HAS POINTED THIS OUT BEFORE.  Jake Klipp is a certified cunt.

SG: Don’t worry, you won’t have to cheer for the Seattle Bucks. As I tweeted last weekend, the Seattle guys (Steve Ballmer and Chris Hansen) aren’t getting the team — even though they were willing to go higher than anyone else, they dropped out because Herb Kohl (the longtime Bucks owner and a fearless champion of mediocre basketball) wouldn’t sell them the franchise unless they agreed to keep it in Milwaukee. 

Not that he's saying this directly, but I like the implication here (that he also pushed heavily during the Kings sale mess)--Seattle deserves a team!  ALSO, WHEN THE SONICS MOVED TO OKLAHOMA CITY, IT WAS THE WORST TRAGEDY IN THE HISTORY OF SPORTS OTHER THAN LEN BIAS, REGGIE LEWIS AND ANYTHING EVER RELATED TO BERNARD POLLARD.

The guys who thought they had it as recently as two days ago? Hedge-fund billionaires Marc Lasry and Wes Edens, who slid under the radar this entire time and thought they landed the Bucks with an offer in the $550 million range (slightly more than Vivek RanadivĂ© paid for the equally unappealing Kings). As recently as Wednesday, Lasry and Edens were expecting the NBA to vote on their bid at next week’s Board of Governors meeting.

So … what happened? Apparently there’s been a late flurry of offers from at least two other parties — not the Seattle guys — and now, incredibly, the price might be climbing and/or Kohl might be wavering to see if he should play this out longer. I thought I had this story nailed two days ago; now, I’m not sure. 

Of course you aren't sure.  Much as Mariotti should be kicked in the teeth by a rhino, he's right--you couldn't break a story if your life depended on it.  (Those two dudes ended up landing the Bucks for $550 million).

(Sadly, I’m pulling myself out of the running for the GM job that I wouldn’t have gotten, anyway. Unless they give me the Phil Jackson deal — $60 million over five years, you get to stay in L.A. — I’m out. And I have 13 fewer rings than Phil Jackson. I don’t think it’s happening.)

BUT BILL YOU'D CHANGE STUFF UP AND DO SOME TRADES AND TAKE ADVANTAGE OF ALL THE STUPID GMS WHO WOULD GIVE YOU ALL THEIR GOOD PLAYERS FOR FREE!  WHO SAYS NO??????

Q: How have you missed one of the best F.U. mode stories in recent memory? The Bulls trade Joakim Noah’s best friend on the team (Luol Deng) in an effort to avoid the luxury tax, but with Joakim’s possible incentives for earning all NBA first team honors, he could bump the Bulls up and over into the luxury tax. As a Bulls fan, nothing would make me happier.
—Zach, Lemont

OK, even though he referenced F.U. mode, one of the worst of all Simmonisms, I'm going to exempt this guy from hepatitis (but not herpes).  That's actually a pretty crazy story.  I mean, it's juvenile and stupid to think that Noah consciously started playing harder because Deng was traded so that his incentives could knock the team over the tax threshold, but it is pretty crazy.  And Noah is pretty fucking good.  So in sum, this might be the least obnoxious Simmons mailbag question ever (needless hyperbole alert!).

SG: You’re right! I was already voting for Noah for first-team All-NBA anyway; now I’m voting for him in all caps. In the words of the great philosopher Rasheed Wallace, “CTC!” Cut that check, Reinsdorfs! That’s karma paying you back for the Deng trade in the form of a luxury tax spinal tap.

Since we’re here, I have to fill out my NBA awards ballot by April 17. 

Very said he gets to vote on this stuff.  Also pretty sure he shouldn't be disclosing this stuff publicly before that deadline (this was published on April 11).

Congrats in advance, Gregg Popovich (Coach of the Year); 

I hate that guy.  He's good and all, but I hate him.  And as the years go by, I want to give more and more credit to Duncan and less and less to Popovich.  But I hate Duncan too, so I guess I'm really just spinning my wheels by thinking about this at all.

Victor Oladipo (Rookie of the Year, if only because I can’t vote for someone who lost 26 straight games); 

Michael Carter-Williams had a much better year with much worse teammates, but yeah, I agree.  The fact that his teammates were terrible should definitely be held against him.

Gerald Green (Most Improved); 

Pretty reasonable pick, although Simmons probably arrived at his decision to make it based solely on the fact that Green is a former Celtic.  ONCE A C ALWAYS A FACKIN' C!

Taj Gibson (Sixth Man); and Noah a second time (Defensive Player of the Year). MVP and All-NBA were a little more complicated, so I’m hashing them out here.

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

My top five for MVP: (1) Kevin Durant, (2) LeBron James, (3) Blake Griffin, (4) Joakim Noah, (5) Dirk Nowitzki.

Totally complicated.  There are two guys who are clearly the two best players in the league, and you have them as your top two here.  The one you chose to win the award is the one most people are choosing, if only because the guy you and many other picked second already has a bunch of MVPs and his team had a so-so year, relative to expectations.  The guy you have third is the guy most people would pick third.  I mean, you've really gone out on a limb here, Bill.  I'm shocked your editors even let you publish these ZANY selections.

Thoughts: I care far too much about MVP voting and even devoted a swollen chapter in my NBA book to the league’s worst injustices ever. On paper, giving an MVP vote to someone who isn’t actually the league’s best player — like Barkley over MJ in 1993, or Malone over MJ in 1997, or West over Reed in 1970, or even Nash over Kobe in 2006 — is one of the 12 best ways to make me irrationally angry. If you’re the best player, you’re the best player. There shouldn’t be any qualifiers or caveats.

But here’s the difference with 2014 Durant: For six solid months, a pissed-off Durant in fifth gear night

Who gives a shit about your personal MVP standards, and your willingness to compromise them whenever you see fit because someone went into F.U. mode?  Who gives a fucking shit?  Not me.

First-Team All-NBA: Durant, LeBron, Noah, Chris Paul, Harden.

Second-Team All-NBA: George, Griffin, Dwight Howard, Curry, Dragic.

Third-Team All-NBA: Kevin Love, Nowitzki, Al Jefferson, Kyle Lowry, Tony Parker.

TOTALLY BONKERS.  I thought for sure he was going to show some love for J.R. Smith or Nick Young, but no dice.  Controversial.  Actually, the one idiotic thing here is that Anthony Davis is absolutely deserving over Jefferson and Nowitzki (depending on how you want to juggle the positions), but Simmons says Davis is "a year away" and Jefferson is an ex-Celtic, so there you go.

Thoughts:

(VCR fast forward sound goes here)

The good news for Love: He won yet another Mokeski Award as the league’s best white guy this season. That’s his third in four years! Hold the trophy high, Mr. Love.

You're stupid.

Q: So who was the LVP for the 2013-14 season?
—B.S., Los Angeles

The only person with the intellectual firepower to match Bill: bizarro self-questions-asking Bill.

SG: Fine, I wrote that one. They wouldn’t let us vote on this, but here’s how my ballot would have looked.

1. Josh Smith: Helped get a first-year coach and a once-great GM fired (it’s coming); drained Detroit’s salary cap; 

Even if he hadn't regressed this year and had duplicated his 2012-2013 statistics, he'd still have been way overpaid.  Smith was indeed terrible but Dumars is an idiot independent of that terribleness.

is completely and totally untradable; 

Every non-superstar on year one of a four year $50MM-plus contract is untradeable.

probably launched somewhere between 700 and 750 truly reprehensible shots; enraged the advanced metrics nerds; nearly broke the SportVU cameras and Goldsberry’s shot charts; sucked the life out of Detroit’s fan base; was disowned by the no. 1 Defender of All Lefties (Jalen Rose); couldn’t have been less fun to watch. Did I miss anything? Oh, wait — his old team (the Hawks) played better without him. 

Totally.  They went from winning 44 games and finishing sixth in the conference to winning 38 and finishing eighth.

And he achieved the advanced metrics triple crown, with his PER dropping from 17.7 to 14.1, his win shares per 48 minutes dropping from .075 to .021, and his sulks per 48 minutes skyrocketing from 8.2 to 14.8. If the LVP trophy changed sizes depending on the season, 

Another of Bill's utterly idiotic ideas that gets trotted out entirely too often.

then Josh Smith’s 2014 season is a 40-pounder. He did everything short of getting arrested. 

Always a good point to make if you want to fight the stereotype that Boston sports fans are racist.

The good news — we still have five days to go.

2. Raymond Felton: He’s gotta be in disbelief right now. What else did Ray Felton have to do? He was the league’s worst starting point guard, by every conceivable calculation, and somehow became untradable even with a cheap contract.

I have no snark here.  Felton is terrible.

3. Andrew Bynum: 

Probably not even fair to include on the list, given the fact that he played just 26 games this season after playing none last season.

Forced a trade from Cleveland by hijacking a practice and shooting every time he got the ball, even if he was past the 3-point line. The Bulls acquired him and immediately waived him. Eventually, Indiana signed him and went into an inexplicable tailspin — even without Bynum playing — almost like he spiritually infected the team like Sayid got spiritually infected during the final season of Lost. 

Sweet reference!  Do a "Fringe" joke next!

4. Larry Sanders: He’s like Bizarro Hakeem in 1993, in that he just slapped together a career LVP year, only he can’t even crack the top three. Nightclub fights, a PETA scandal, a marijuana suspension, a $44 million extension that hasn’t even kicked in yet (and Milwaukee is already regretting), a near fight in the locker room with Gary Neal, severe regression on the court, and even last week’s bizarre marijuana-should-be-legal defense that murdered his trade value. 

Yeah good point, that was really what did it.

5. Kobe Bryant: 

Should I keep making 6 for 24 jokes?  I think I should.  If you disagree, leave a comment.

Q: Is Lebron going to be in Eff you mode for the playoffs after KD wins the MVP?
—Michael Cleary, Tappan

 No, he won't, because that does not exist, and because LeBron would want to win the championship as much as anyone could possible want to win it even if he was awarded the MVP.  Michael Clearly deserves shingles in addition to herpes and hepatitis.

SG: The brief history of MVP Eff You Mode: 1993 (MJ pays back Barkley in the 1993 Finals); 1995 (Hakeem demolishes Robinson and the Spurs in the Western finals); 1997 (MJ throws up the basketball equivalent of a 10-7 boxing round over Malone in the Finals); 2001 (Shaq eviscerates Iverson’s Sixers and basically turns Dikembe Mutombo’s career into something else). All four times, you had the league’s alpha dog taking it personally that someone else got their stomach scratched. 

I think you mean all four times, the much better team won, and their awesome player played really well.  His analysis of the 2001 Finals is particularly laughable.  That Sixers team didn't even belong in the same gym as that Lakers team--Iverson dragged them there by averaging 33/6/5 for the playoffs.  Their second best player was 35 year old Mutombo, or geez, I don't know, maybe Aaron McKie?  And then 29 year old Shaq dominated Mutombo.  Shocker.  Clearly, it was the result of MVP voting that caused that to happen.

Will LeBron take Durant’s MVP personally? And will Durant take it personally that LeBron took Durant’s MVP personally?

You're a moron.

Q: I’m a big OKC fan and watch most of their games. The way that teams guard Kevin Durant is unlike anything I have ever seen. He is basically denied the ball from the moment he crosses halfcourt. Against the Rockets on Friday, he was denied by two people at certain points during the game. Have you ever seen another player guarded like this?
—Kevin Gill, Richmond

SG: Please add that entire paragraph to KD’s 2014 MVP files. By the way, I’m pretty sure nobody would defend Durant that way if Harden still played for OKC. I’m almost positive. (I know, I know.)

He inserted that "olde tyme guy in a top hat beating a dead horse with a cane" gif here, which demonstrates a stunning amount of self awareness.

Q: I just read the following headline, “Mason Plumlee blocks LeBron James’ dunk attempt in final seconds, Nets complete season sweep of Heat.” Here’s a fun game: making up absurd yet more believable headlines from the NBA. Like – “JR Smith mortally stabs teammate during 4th quarter timeout.”
—Ben, Fairview, UT

SG: I wouldn’t believe that one. But I absolutely WOULD believe …

“Felton fined 25K for eating BBQ on Knicks bench during final home game”

Strike one.

“Third assistant coach leaves Warriors as Jackson maintains everything is fine”

Strike two.

“Parsons vows that flying back and forth to film The Bachelor won’t affect him in the Finals”

Strike three.

“Boozer looks forward to playing with toupee in playoffs”

Strike four.

“Paul George categorically denies appearing in Teen Mom’s latest sex tape”

You get the idea.  I deleted the other five he wrote.  They were just as bad.  CAN YOU BELIEVE KIMMEL LET THIS GUY GO?  I BET HE STILL LOSES SLEEP OVER THAT ONE.

Q: Part of me wants to believe Mark Jackson made a hyper-aggressive “Nobody Believes In Us” play by firing his staff – artificially inflating their “Nobody Believes In Us” stock. 

Another useless Simmonsism, although to be fair, some non-retarded analysts also sometimes refer to this concept.

The other nagging part remembers his public squabbling with Bogut and that the Warriors are masters in surgical heartbreak. Which is it? Also please regard this suddenly relevantly placed photo.
—Andrew Carr, Brooklyn


Actually, that link is pretty funny. We'll take Andrew off the hepatitis list as well.

Q: A friend of mine “Stan” married this crazy lady “Tina”. They were engaged for a year when Stan took the ring back because she was nuts but decided to give it back to her a year later. So I explain this situation to a friend and she names Tina the Re-Fiance and it instantly becomes the term of choice to describe her among our circle. Upon hearing of Mike Brown’s re-hiring by the Cavs my girlfriend turns to me and deadpans “Well we have The Drive, The Catch, The Fumble, The Decision….now we have The Re-Coach.” Ladies and gentlemen, your 2014 Cllllllllleveland Cavaliers!
—CD, Cleveland, OH


YEP THESE ARE MY READERS LOL

SG: A few readers reminded me of this one … in my 2009 NBA book, I created a 12-man “Wine Cellar” team around the premise, “Aliens just invaded Earth and we have a time machine — we can grab any 12 players from any of their ‘vintage’ years, pull them into the current year and battle the aliens with them.” So greats like 1986 Bird, 1985 Magic and 1992 Jordan were involved. (And yes, 2014 Durant needs to be included whenever I write the next edition of this book.) But the coaches of that Wine Cellar team? 2007 Gregg Popovich, 1988 Rick Pitino (pulled from college to spearhead our killer second-team press), 1977 Willis Reed (big-man coach and our enforcer, just in case the aliens start a bench-clearing brawl), 2006 Mike D’Antoni (my words: “offensive guru”), and 2009 Mike Brown (my words: “defensive guru”). This is in print and everything. (The lesson, as always: I’m an idiot.)

That's pretty funny, but we certainly didn't need it to be reminded of your idiocy.  We'll get more of this "Aw shucks!" material next time.  Until then, I hope everyone doesn't shed too many tears about how we missed out on what would have been a captivating Entertaining As Hell Tournament this week.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Guess who has some bad ideas and unfunny jokes to share? (Part 2)


Since I started this series of mailbag columns, Bill published another mailbag column. The more the merrier, that's what I say. I could do this for a while. It's a lot more fun than Jeter Month. Anyways, I'll pick up where I left off last week, and depending on how comfortable my butt is in this chair, maybe I'll power straight through into the next mailbag. You'll know you're there when you encounter yet another "BILL FOR BUX GM CUZ HE IS SMRT!" email.

Q: I know it’s impossible. But, for argument’s sake, the Knicks grab the 8 seed, and then beat the Heat in the first round, would that be the greatest sports upset ever? Would USA-USSR 1980 finally be outdone?
—Mike, New York, NY


Only took us one question to get to more mindless hyperbole. People are fucking idiots. They really are.

SG: Settle down. Besides, it wouldn’t even be the greatest NBA first-round upset ever.

[Denver-Seattle 1994 video]


And I'm not even sure that's right--the 1994 Sonics won 63 games while the 1994 Nuggets won 42.  That was a five game series, which makes things easier on the underdog.  The Nuggets also had a +1.5 PPG differential over their opponents.  In 2007, the 42 win Warriors beat the 67 win Mavericks in a seven game series, and that Warriors team was outscored by their opponents on the season.

Q: Could you see Kevin Ollie being the next coach of the Thunder if they crash and burn in the playoffs? 

WOULD IT BE THE GREATEST CRASH AND BURN IN THE HISTORY OF PRO SPORTS IF THEY LOST IN THE FIRST ROUND?????

In your podcast with Kevin “The Servant” Durant, he spoke very highly of Ollie as a leader.
—Ricardo, McAllen, TX

I know Ollie finished his playing career in OKC, and I hate Scotty Brooks, but I'm pretty sure Brooks is a good coach.  I'm also pretty sure he's not on the hot seat, despite losing to Memphis in the 2nd round last spring.

SG: Had the same thought as I watched Ollie coach his ass off last weekend, then abandoned that thought last night when I remembered that OKC can still make the 2014 Finals because they’re such a horrendous matchup for the Spurs. 

Spurs in 5, should that matchup occur.  MY NBA PLAYOFF GAMBLING MANIFESTO SAYS SO.  Just kidding, I have no fucking idea what will happen, but I know that Bill isn't the person you want to listen to regarding such things.

(Then again, that’s the coolest thing about the 2014 playoffs — there’s a little rock-paper-scissors action going on. Everyone has someone they don’t want to play.) 

That's probably been the case for 90% of the playoffs held in every professional sport for the last thirty years.  This isn't the pre-expansion era, where you could often safely bet on the Canadiens/Yankees/Celtics to kick the jizz out of everyone else.  Every team has strengths and weaknesses.  Very profound of Bill to point that out.

Anyway, I asked Durant in that podcast if he believed in the whole “veteran leadership thing.” His answer …

“Most definitely. Kevin Ollie, he was a game-changer for us. He changed the whole culture, I think. He might not say it, but he changed the whole culture in Oklahoma City. 

The culture that had been there for all BOTH of the franchise's previous seasons with that nucleus of players.  The Thunder stunk the year before Ollie got there (allowing them to draft James Harden--watch out or Bill will remind you that the Harden trade was not a very good one!) and then made the playoffs during Ollie's only season, but surely that was mostly attributable to Ollies gritty gutty crusty veteranness, and not to the development of Durant and Westbrook and the addition of Harden and Serge Ibaka.  Right.  I think this is just another case of Durant being too damn nice to tell it like it is.

Just his mind-set, his professionalism, every single day. And we all watched that and we wanted to be like that. It rubbed off on Russell, myself, Jeff Green, James Harden — and everyone that comes through now, that’s the standard you got to live up to, as a Thunder player, and it all started with Kevin Ollie.”

Not buying it.

Now, I can’t see the Thunder changing coaches unless they get bounced in Round 1. Not because they’d be unhappy with Scott Brooks, but because they’re too friggin’ cheap to pay two coaches. 

BURNNNNN!!!!!!!!

But Ollie is a super-intriguing name to file away, especially if OKC doesn’t win the title in 2014 or 2015 and wants to avoid “The Decision II” (Durant in 2016). It all started with Kevin Ollie. Hmmmmmmmm.

Obviously Ollie will be coaching in the NBA (or turning down very lucrative offers to do so) within the next 12 to 18 months.  When this happens (regardless of which team hires or pursues him), Bill will be sure to remind everyone about how brilliant he was for publishing this clod's email and pointing out that a 41 year old ex-player who just won an NCAA championship in his second year as HC is a hot commodity.  Shut up, Bill.  I'm telling you in advance.

Q: I’m ready for your annual trade value column. 

This is how you get Bill to publish your email.  Stroke that ego.  Stroke it good and hard.  Put some elbow grease into it.

This is where you’re going to explain why Goran Dragic and his cap friendly salary and slashing style are more valuable than Damian Lillard and his eventual max contract and poor percentage at the rim. I’m going to get mad because Damian is my guy and I’ll think you’re an idiot. 

You'll be right.

Then I’ll come to grips with the fact that you’re right, 

Even if that's the case, you'll still be very right about the whole who's an idiot thing.

I’m a homer, and watching my Blazers crawl to the finish line while the Suns seem to not go away only verifies your point. 

The Suns eventually went away and finished in 9th in the West.  Not that I'm hating on them or anything.  They're good.

I suppose that’s why you’re a necessary evil. I don’t have to like it though.
—Jake, Gold Beach, OR

Oh, Jake, you sly dog!  Look at you--a little false mockery of Bill to round out your written word tonguing of his taint.  Now you're in the mailbag.  Make sure to print out a copy and tape it to your dorm room door.  It'll totally get you laid, according to the many (alleged) women who have written Bill emails about how sexy Bill's fans are.

SG: That was this month’s winner of the Backhanded Compliment Award. 

I'll see your false mockery, and raise some false self-deprecation as I pretend that you really weren't genuflecting before your computer while writing that. 

I don’t know when we’re seeing the annual Trade Value Column — if I wrote it right now, I’d end up putting Anthony Davis first, second and third. Might be better off waiting until the summer when I can’t overreact to everything. I love overreacting. It’s one of my weaknesses.

That, and being a fucking dunce.

Q: I can’t think of a scenario where Frank Kaminsky isn’t at least useful in the NBA. Seven feet, can shoot it from anywhere, quick, good free throw shooter, good intangibles. I spent 30 minutes trying to find him in the top 100 NBA prospects, but could not. Am I missing something?
—David Moore, Charleston

Plugging a terribly unathletic (on the scale of NBA players) white guy as a legitimate pro prospect?  YOU'VE COME TO THE RIGHT PLACE, DAVID MOORE OF CHARLESTON.

SG: FRANK KAMINSKY SHOULD BE A LOTTERY PICK! WHAT IS EVERYONE MISSING HERE?
(See, I love overreacting. 

OK.  When are you going to start?

But seriously … this guy couldn’t be an effective big off the bench for a contender? 

He couldn't guard anyone on any NBA roster right now, and couldn't create his own shot against any defense employed by any NBA team right now.  Those could be issues.

The Spurs couldn’t figure out how to use a 7-footer who shoots 3s, plays with his back to the basket and doesn’t do anything else? 

Holy shit, you really don't know anything about basketball, do you?  I've often said "Well at least Bill knows the NBA" and then had commenters here say "No he doesn't."  Guess I was wrong for the first time ever in my life.  Good on you, commenters.

Watching Kaminsky dismantle Arizona like he was Pau circa 2006 whupping on Lithuania in the World Basketball Championships or something — that was absolutely delightful. I loved it.)

IT WAS LIKE WATCHING BIRD, COUSY AND MCHALE TAKE DOWN MAGIC, KOBE AND KAREEM!!!

Q: What would be the most IMPROBABLE BUT FUN thing that could happen in the 2014 NBA Playoffs?
1. “The Heat are swept in any round”
2. “Knicks enter as 8 seed and beat Indiana or Miami”
3. “Phoenix goes to the Conference Finals”
4. “It gets leaked that Prokhorov offered 5 hookers to each Net if they won the East.”

What are we missing?
—Mauricio, Santa Monica

Anything that resembles a good joke, for starters.

SG: You missed the comedy of NBA TV getting stuck with every single Indiana-Charlotte game. Has that ever happened before? An entire series getting the NBA TV hammer?

God that would be IMPROBABLE BUT FUN.  I agree 100%.

/Larry B drinks lead paint

Q: I almost died when I read the title of this TED talk: “Dan Gilbert: Why We Make Bad Decisions.” Unfortunately, it’s not the Cavs owner, just a namesake. But imagine if it were!
—Francois Aube, Montreal

Unsurprising to see an overlap between people who write to Bill's mailbag and people who are interested in TED Talks.

Q:
Player A: 21.6 ppg, 6.4 APG, 41.7 fg%, 32.4 3-point%
Player B: 21.3 ppg, 8.9 APG, 42.8 fg%, 33.5 3-point%
Player C: 21.1 ppg, 6.2 APG, 42.8 fg%, 36.6 3-point%

Player A is Steve Francis Year 3.
Player B is Stephon Marbury Year 3.
Player C is Kyrie Irving Year 3.
—Kyle B., Indy

Q: Look at this.
Player A: 20.7 ppg, 6.4 apg, 1.3 spg, 3 tpg, 45.3 fg%, 35.4% 3fg.
Player B: 21.1 ppg, 6.3 apg, 3.6 rpg, 1.4 spg, 2.7 tpg, 42.8 fg%, 36.6 3fg%.

Player A is Isaiah Thomas. Player B is Kyrie Irving.
—Aamir Shakir, San Francisco

SG: My counter to Kyle and Aamir …

Player A: 21.1 ppg, 6.3 apg, 3.6 rpg, 43.1 FG%, 36.6 3FG%, 20.1 PER
Player B: 21.3 ppg, 6.9 apg, 3.3 rpg, 43.8 FG%, 29.1 3FG%, 21.6 PER

Player A? Kyrie. Player B? Devin Harris in 2009.


(YES! I just won the “Who Could Freak Cleveland Fans Out The Most With a Blind Player Comparison To Kyrie Irving” Contest!!!)

First of all, that was Harris's best season by a lot, a complete outlier, and it happened when he was 25.  Irving is 21.  And 21 year old Isiah Thomas (the HOFer who played for the Pistons, not the current Sacramento King) went for 22.9 ppg, 7.8 apg, 4.0 rpg, 47.2 FG%, 28.8 3FG%, and some PER that is probably higher than 21.6 but not significantly, as Thomas average 4.0 turnovers to Irving's 2.7.  From all of this, we have learned... absolutely fuck-all.  What a good use of everyone's time.  And while Isaiah Thomas is nothing special, and Francis definitely washed out well before his time, I love the implication that having a career like Marbury's would somehow be a bad thing for Irving.  Sure, he's not making the HOF, but gee, he was ONLY a top five PG for five more seasons after the one Kyle B. from Indy presented.  What a bum!

Q: What is your opinion on Vivek Ranadive’s “V Plan” to stop tanking?
—Lawrence Faulkner, Sacramento


For those who don't want to click the link, the Kings' owner's idea is to 1) freeze the lottery order at the All Star Break, which, no, and 2) implement the idea Bill has presented many times (but almost surely didn't make up) of the top seven teams in each conference making the playoffs, and then the eighth spot going to the winner of a single elimination tournament among the remaining teams in each conference.  Bill has a name for it--it's too dumb for me to reference it here.  Nevertheless, rest assured that A) these are idiotic ideas and B) Lawrence Faulkner from Sacramento should be kicked in the balls for pandering to Bill like this.  "Hey Bill, this guy likes and idea you like!  What do you think of his thoughts on your idea???"

SG: Put it this way — if I bought a small-market team, gave my polarizing young head case a massive extension, overpaid an injury-prone free agent to become the sixth power forward on my roster, told my local TV cameras to shoot my reactions as much as possible during our home games, then traded for one of the league’s worst contracts who doubled as the least popular player in the advanced metrics community at the time, I would not have the balls to call this “The B.S. Plan.” Just kidding, Vivek. But you might want to check the Internet.

Hey look!  A link to some vintage Bill retardery!  Sadly, that was published six weeks before this blog was started, so we didn't cover it.  Too bad.  I'll have to go back and pick it apart one of these weeks.  Check it out, it's got this line:

In retrospect, though, what’s worse: Tankapalooza 2007 or a young team winning two straight lotteries? Did it negatively impact TV ratings, attendance or general fan interest to have a suddenly stacked Magic team? Were you turning off your TV in the mid-’90s because Shaq and Penny were on? The NBA’s crucial mistake was forgetting that it’s better to have more quality teams, even at the expense of a few extra doormats. This isn’t the NFL; parity can’t work.

You're a fucking idiot.  A fucking idiot.  A fucking buttfucking idiot.

Q: Could you please make sure that near the end of the NBA season you tease us with a breakdown of what your Entertaining-as-Hell Tournament would look like?
—Scott Scattergood, Korea

I only left this question, with the reference to Bill's atrocious joke name for the "play in tournament," because this is the setup for his essay about how to fix the playoffs.  Take it away, pinhead.

SG: I thought the lopsided 2013-14 NBA season vindicated the Entertaining As Hell Tournament premise. 

"I liked my idea before, and I have the critical thinking skills of a cow, so I still like it."

Right now, we’re headed for a 50-win Western team missing the playoffs (my guess: the Suns) 

Sort of correct, although 1) they won't win more than 48, and 2) as of when this mailbag was published, they were in the 9th spot anyways, so it's not like this was a bold prediction.

as well as the reprehensible 35-win Knicks reprehensibly sneaking into the reprehensible no. 8 seed.

Thankfully for the sake of those of us who don't want to watch bad basketball in the playoffs, they did not.  Although Atlanta sucks too.  But at least they don't suck while being shoved into the viewing public's face every four seconds.  They suck quietly, off to the side, and their series with Indiana won't get the best TV timeslots.  This is a good thing.

When the 2014 Suns can miss the playoffs and the Knicks can make it, we’re fundamentally doing something wrong. 

I would feel bad for the Suns if it weren't already the case that 53% of the teams in the NBA make the playoffs.  This isn't baseball pre-wildcard when you could have a legitimate claim to best team in the league (1993 Giants, e.g.) and miss the playoffs.  The Suns have the 13th best record in the league, and if you stretched it, you could make a case that they are the 10th best team, give or take.  Because of an administrative rule, they won't be able to play for the championship.  Boo fucking hoo.  Maybe if they hadn't lost back to back games to the horrendous Kings in November, or lost two in a row to the Pistons and the Knicks in January, or lost at home to the Cavs last month, they would have made it.  I'm not saying the "cherry picking bad losses" method is the best way to show that a team's playoff resume is insufficient, but Christ.  Sixteen teams make it.  If you can't get in that field, regardless of the power balance between the conferences, it's not exactly a travesty.

When the Sixers can blow 26 straight games, then win at home to break the streak as their mortified fans don’t know whether to cheer or cry, we’re fundamentally doing something wrong. 

The whole point of the lottery is to prevent outright tanking.  If there was no lottery and the NBA used MLB's or the NFL's method for determining draft order, the fans definitely would have had more reason to cry than cheer for that win.  At least under the current system they could enjoy it a little.

When the 2014 Hawks say,We’d rather fall into the lottery than make the playoffs, we’re doing something fundamentally wrong. 

Yeah!  It's not like Bill has stated time and time and time and time again that being mediocre is the worst thing you can be in the NBA.  We need some kind of rule that prevents teams from wanting to stop being mediocre!  We need MORE mediocrity!

Such a frustrating season. I love watching 10 teams, tolerate maybe five others, and don’t want any part of the other 15.

Wait, what did you say in 2007 about that?

In retrospect, though, what’s worse: Tankapalooza 2007 or a young team winning two straight lotteries? Did it negatively impact TV ratings, attendance or general fan interest to have a suddenly stacked Magic team? Were you turning off your TV in the mid-’90s because Shaq and Penny were on? The NBA’s crucial mistake was forgetting that it’s better to have more quality teams, even at the expense of a few extra doormats. This isn’t the NFL; parity can’t work.

Ah right.  Go fuck yourself then.

OK, so here’s how the EAHT would play out if the season ended on Wednesday (before Thursday’s games). Remember, here’s the premise: The top seven seeds in each conference make the playoffs, then it’s a single-elimination tournament for the last two playoff spots.

First-Round Winners: No. 1 Memphis over no. 16 Milwaukee (“Welcome to Tru TV!”) … no. 2 Phoenix over no. 15 Philly (Sam Hinkie: “Hey, Thad and MCW, it’s OK to try in this one”) … no. 3 Minnesota over no. 14 Orlando (yes, ’Sota could absolutely blow this game) … no. 13 Boston over no. 4 Denver (OUR FIRST UPSET! LET’S GO CELTS! HERE WE GO GREEN!!!!!!!) … 

DIE DIE DIE DIE DIE DIE DIE DIE DIE

no. 5 New York over no. 12 Utah (with the Knicks nearly blowing a 22-point lead as every Knicks fan melts down on Twitter) … no. 11 Lakers over no. 6 Atlanta (17 assists for Nash, 35 points for Kobe) … no. 7 New Orleans over no. 10 Detroit (34 points, 19 rebounds and eight blocks for the Brow) … no. 8 Cleveland over no. 9 Sacramento (triple-OT!!!).

Lingering first-round thoughts: Can you really go wrong with a single-elimination tournament featuring 

I'll stop you right now: yes.  Yes you can.  It doesn't matter what you wrote as the rest of that paragraph.  I know it's really fun to come up with an idea, ponder its legitimacy for ten seconds and then scream WHO SAYS NO? as loudly as you can.  But this is a bad idea.  It just is.  Most of the players will not want to be there.  Most of the coaches will not want to be there.  They will just want to go home.  Most of the arenas will be empty.  This is not March Madness.  No one is clamoring for the chance to get curb stomped by San Antonio or Indiana in the first round, especially after having to win three games in three days or four games in four days (assuming we're not trying to fuck over the fourteen playoff teams TOO badly by making them wait for like a fucking week for the playoffs to start).

Second-Round Winners (re-seeding): No. 13 Boston over no. 1 Memphis (MASSIVE UPSET! BRAD STEVENS LOVES TOURNAMENTS!!!!! RONDO WITH A 17-19-16!!!!!!) … just kidding, no. 1 Memphis over no. 13 Boston (golf clap for the C’s) … 

Oh my God.  This guy is proud of his team's imaginary performance in a tournament that doesn't exist.  That's not a tongue-in-cheek "golf clap for the C's" right there.  That's real.  This man should be sealed inside a cave forever.

no. 2 Suns over no. 11 Lakers (final score: 129-125, and I gotta admit, I came damned close to picking Kobe, Nash and Vertigo Pau) … no. 8 Cleveland over no. 3 Minnesota (here’s the textbook 2014 T-Wolves game in which they score 70 points in the first half, then blow a 15-point lead in the fourth quarter, choke the game away on a Dion Waiters Heat Check, then lose in the last 10 seconds because someone other than Kevin Love took the final shot, followed by Love taking his jersey off on the court and angrily flinging it into the stands as Rick Adelman turns maroon) … no. 7 New Orleans over no. 5 New York (38 points, 22 rebounds and eight blocks for the Brow!).

Lingering second-round thoughts: I really, really, really, really, really enjoyed pretending to watch all of those games. Look at what we accomplished already. We convinced Kobe to come back. 

AND THEN CHOKE AGAIN MUHAHAHAHHAA TAKE THAT IMAGINARY KOBE

We figured out a new and improved way for the Knicks and Timberwolves to torture their fans. 

No one in Minnesota would give a flying fuck about this tournament.  The Wild are in the playoffs.

We rewarded the Brow for turning into a franchise guy — now he has something to play for other than the lottery. 

THANK GOD!  I was worried that imaginary Anthony Davis was feeling unappreciated.

Same for that goofy Cavs team that floundered for four months and needed a mini–Ewing Theory situation with Kyrie Irving to find itself. I like our Final Four. And we ended up with four spectacular second-round games. You’re enjoying this!

I want to jump into an electric fence!

Final Four Winners: no. 1 Memphis over no. 8 Cleveland (too much Big Spain, too much Z-Bo, too much Mike Brown), and no. 7 New Orleans over no. 2 Phoenix (the Brow! The Brow! THE BROW!!!!!!!!!!!).

Excellent fake cheering.  Top notch fake fanboyism.

Lingering Final Four thoughts: This was beautiful. The Grizzlies earned a playoff spot they deserved anyway; they’re 29-12 since January 9. 

You know what they can be happy about?  Having actually earned a playoff spot in real life.  And they can earn the 7 seed by beating the Mavs tomorrow night.  Also, pretty great that his tournament nearly ended with the top two seeds winning anyways.  And pretty great that IT'S AN INJUSTICE THAT PHOENIX CAN'T MAKE THE PLAYOFFS, LOOK AT THEIR RECORD turned into THE 33-48 PELICANS DEFEAT THE 47-34 SUNS TO CLINCH A PLAYOFF SPOT HOW AWESOME IS THIS!  And pretty great that even with this system, the 42-39 Bobcats are still in the playoffs, because life isn't fair. 

The Brow pulled a 1988 Danny Manning and single-handedly dragged his boys to glory. And we ended up with a better no. 8 seed than the freaking Knicks. The only downer: Phoenix got bumped from The Show. But hey, if you can’t fake-beat New Orleans at fake-home, then you don’t fake-deserve to make the fake-playoffs.

DIE

All right, so we found our last two playoff teams. Now what? The more I think about it, the more I think (a) the EAHT should end after three rounds (it doesn’t make sense to have a championship game), 

Oh, you think?  And you think maybe the teams that qualified for the playoffs might be a little annoyed that the season ended on Wednesday, and now it's Sunday (at the earliest) and they're waiting around?  And the two winners of the EAHT just played four games in four days, including Wednesday's regular season finale (if it's Sunday), so it really wouldn't be fair to make them play again until at least Tuesday, forcing at least two of the top fourteen teams to wait on ice for nearly a week between games?  None of this resonates with you?

and (b) we should just dump conferences and go with an NBA Sweet 16 for the actual playoffs.

Yeah!  The idea of a California team being able to play three straight seven game series with teams from the east coast in a 2-2-1-1-1 series just to make the finals sounds awesome!  That won't lead to sloppy basketball.  No way.  Look below: most matchups work out to be non-horrible this year, but of course mileage would vary by year.  And that Clippers/Nets series should be a fun one.  If it goes seven, I'm sure the winner will be nice and fresh and ready to play the Pacers or Bulls.



So, why not? Why wouldn’t we want an extra week of rest for the best playoff teams? 

Because no team wants to rest for a fucking week right before the playoffs?

What’s wrong with 14 single-elimination playoff games over one action-packed week? 

Most players and coach won't want to be there?  The stands will be empty in many arenas, leading to embarrassment for the league?

Why not open the door for a late-peaking team? 

Because they had 82 games to be in the top 53% of the league and they couldn't do it?

Why avoid a scenario in which someone like Kobe says, “You know what? I’m coming back,” instead of, “There’s no reason for me to come back”?

Because the league doesn't exist to make sure Kobe comes back?

And doesn’t re-seeding 1-through-16 for the actual playoffs, NCAA-style, make more sense than what we’re doing now? You’d still have your best team in each conference on opposite sides of the bracket

No the fuck you wouldn't, not if the top three teams were all in one conference and the fourth was in the other conference.  

only someone like Indiana couldn’t be rewarded for hiccuping down the stretch. Instead of getting gift-wrapped the below-.500 Bobcats in Round 1, the Pacers now get Noah, Thibs and the Bulls. Good luck going on cruise control in THAT series.

Oh snap!  Take that, imaginary Pacers!

How would the EAHT affect tanking? 

I don't know, but I'm sure you have more runny dogshit ideas up your sleeve.

I’m throwing out my fourth different idea for this one … what if we blew up the lottery format and reinvented it with three tiers:

Worst Six Teams: 9 percent chance of winning
Worst Teams 7 through 12: 4 percent chance of winning
Worst Teams 13 through 16: 2 percent chance of winning


Wait, that’s only 86 percent. Hmmmmmmm … let’s give each of the 14 playoff teams 1 percent odds. That’s right, we’re putting everyone in! TRY TANKING NOW!!! 

OK.  Bad teams will still do it, because it gives them a better chance at winning the lottery than not tanking.  You got anything else?

We run the lottery for the first four picks, then the draft goes in reverse order of record from the fifth pick on. You really think Philly is casually blowing 26 straight under this revamped system?

Yyyup.

Oh, and Adam Silver? You’re shopping your next slew of media rights packages right now to ESPN/ABC, Turner, Fox and everyone else, right? And you’re thinking about adding a third package that includes a Saturday-night regular-season bundle, right? Wouldn’t it make the most sense to combine that bundle with the Entertaining As Hell Tournament into a third, mack-daddy package? 

No.  The Entertaining As Hell Tournament is basketball ebola.  It's a terrible idea and the world is a worse place for it having been conceived.

Conceivably, Disney would pay more for the same deal it already has; same for Turner and its current deal; then a third party comes in (Fox Sports? NBC? Maybe even … gulp … Google or Apple TV?) 

MALCOLM GLADWELL TOLD ME TO PUT THOSE LAST TWO IN!!!!

and grabs those Saturday-night games and the Entertaining As Hell Tournament? Thank you and please drive through.

I am at a loss for words.  May this man somehow be fired as soon as possible.  Fuck Bill Simmons.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Guess who has some bad ideas and unfunny jokes to share? (Part 1)


Look,Chris W and Bill S agree on most things (including whether Mr. Deeds is the best Adam Sandler movie), but if there's one thing they ESPECIALLY agree on, it's that the NBA playoffs are broken.  I know how Chris would fix them: more off days between games so the teams don't get too tired.  How would Bill fix them?  He's here to tell you, in mailbag format.  (Note added after finishing this post: We don't actually get to Bill's playoff analysis this time around.  You'll have to wait until next time.  I'm sure Chris appreciates the IRONING.)

I didn’t write an NBA Bag on Thursday because I knew David Letterman was stepping down. I wrote an NBA Bag because I’ve been doing mailbags ever since I started writing this column in 1997 … and only because I loved Letterman’s “Viewer Mail” gimmick. 


Good job by Bill of making Letterman's retirement all about Bill.

So thanks for that, and thanks for everything else, David Letterman. 

Thanks for fucking nothing, Letterman.

If you hadn’t passed through my life in my formative years, I’d probably be doing something else for a living. 

And he'd only be annoying the coworkers at his shitty office job, instead of annoying everyone in America who has a brain and likes to follow sports.

And I like doing this. For the record, every NBA Bag has a 5,000-word limit, and you can submit your questions here. As always, these are actual emails from actual readers.

[Several horrible and hopefully fake letters from readers begging Bill to write a mailbag column skipped]

Q: Did you see Mark Cuban fire shots at NFL’s possibly expanding 18-game schedule? Would the NBA would ever go nuclear and attack the NFL over concussions? Ads showing NFL players laying on the field unconscious with tag lines like “The NBA, our players actually remember their careers” and “The NBA, watch the top athletes in the world — guilt free.” They could also go the political attack ad route and flash quotes from former NFL players that blamed the league for their decline in mental health. Pro leagues have playfully disparaged other sports before in promoting their own league, but would the NBA ever go this far?
—Nick, Hamilton, ONT

While this is dumb, it's surprisingly undumb relative to most of the letters Bill publishes.  As I read the first sentence, I thought the guy was going to end up having a question about whether Cuban is a pantheon-level owner or whether the NBA would ever consider going to a 162 game schedule.

SG: Kudos to Nick for coming up with my favorite idea of 2014 

Stupid and useless superlative #1.  THIS IS MY FAVORITE THING I HAVE HEARD ALL YEAR UNTIL I HEAR MY NEXT FAVORITE THING TOMORROW.  HEY LOOK A SHINY OBJECT!

— the NBA spending $25 million on attack ads specifically to wound the NFL’s credibility and give the NBA a competitive advantage. 

While I agree with the line of thinking that sports leagues don't like each other and are competing for the same pool of fans/dollars to be spent, I can't see the rich white guys who own NBA teams wanting to poke the rich white guys who own NFL teams in the eye this aggressively.  I think there's probably a rich white guy gentlemen's agreement among all these owners that while they're in competition, everyone is going to maintain civility and tact while clawing for that extra buck.

/Larry B imagines Jerry Jones and Mark Cuban shaking hands and polishing their monacles after a steak dinner in the International Space Station served by Playboy bunnies

But why stop at concussions and 18-game schedules? I’d throw in stuff like, “The NBA, Where We Don’t Replace Our Refs For 25 Percent Of The Season With Random Dudes Off The Street,” 

I can't believe I'm about to defend the NFL, but fuck it: 1) the NBA let its referees strike during the fucking playoffs in 1977; 2) if you're still complaining about the 2012 NFL referee lockout in April 2014, you're either a piece of shit Packers fan, or just a regular piece of shit, but either way, you're a piece of shit; and 3) the NBA's referees are an absolute joke compared to the NFL's, the NHL's, and MLB's umpires.  

and, “The NBA, Where Our Players Don’t End Up Committing Crimes Every Other Week.”

Only racists actually concern themselves with exact statistics showing the criminal activity of pro athletes, but suffice it to say that pros that play every sport get in plenty of trouble.  To the extent that it's a problem, it's not exactly an NFL-only problem.

Can all the Talented Weirdos Who Make Elaborately Weird YouTube Clips make attack ads and put “GRANTLAND NBA/NFL ATTACK ADS” in the subject heading so we can binge-watch them? Also, even if it’s beefing down, why can’t we go after baseball, too? What about ads pushing the NBA as America’s new pastime with messages like …

If you've ever spent time creating something because Bill Simmons asked you to, you're a sad human being.

“The NBA — Our Games Don’t Take Four Freaking Hours To Play.”

Last year, the average MLB game lasted 2:58.  The average NFL game is basically right there.  The average NBA game is somewhere between 2:20 and 2:30; same for the NHL.  The real offender in this area is college football, which is getting out of fucking hand these days.  But don't expect Bill to know how long the average MLB game takes--the four games per year he watches before the playoffs (when, yes, games get longer, as they do in every sport) are Sunday Night Baseball telecasts of Red Sox Yankees.  BOY THESE COMMERCIAL BREAKS SURE DO SEEM LONG!  What a diptard.

“The NBA — The Sport To Watch If You’re Not A White Guy Over 50 Years Old Who Needs Help Getting An Erection.”

LOL BONER PILLS ONLY OLD PEOPLE LIKE BASEBALL.  That's A+ material right there.  Bill Simmons should be kicked in the back by a horse.

“The NBA — Our Best Players Don’t Get Suspended For Using PEDs … Because We Give Them A Crazy Amount Of Heads-Up For Every Drug Test, But Still.”

That was silly!

Q: Something we’re not talking about with Miggy Cabrera’s contract extension: Mike Ilitch is 85 years old. What does he care? He’s going to be dead by the time this goes bad. So what’s the age limit for owners, so we can’t have some octogenerian shouting “YOLO” and signing another Anna Nicole Smith contract?
—Ian, New York


SG: (Cut to the 89 remaining Milwaukee Bucks fans nodding glumly.)

Herb Kohl is only 79, and was an active Congressman until 15 months ago.  I'm pretty sure he's still going strong.  But anything to let Bill remind people that he would totally make a really awesome GM who would never make any of these dumb mistakes other GMs make.

Q: Is Joakim Noah the first “Point Center” in NBA history?
—Ed C., Chicago

Fuck no he's not, you idiot.  Jesus, I bet even Bill knows that.

SG: This guy (video of Bill Walton) wants a word with you.

(And really, Bill Russell was the first point center — 

"Do you like the Red Sox like I do?  Let me tell you about Bill Russell!"

Q: On the list of fake injuries that helped a team lose games over the final stretch of the season for lottery purposes, where does Pau Gasol’s vertigo rank?
—Ethan, Goleta

The Lakers are so irrelevant this year I actually hadn't heard about this yet.  After some brief research, I see that he took an ambulance to the hospital during halftime of a game in Orlando a couple weeks back.  That's scary stuff, and make it 99% likely that the injury, at least initially, was anything but fake.  Maybe the Lakers are now playing it up to keep Gasol out, but it's not like they were doing that great with him in the lineup anyways.  But Bill is one of these mouthbreathers who thinks that every team that isn't in a playoff spot is obviously tanking, or should be, or something dumb like that, so let's get his #hottaek on it.

SG: Come on, that’s a real injury! Who would ever make up “vertigo” as a reason to sit your best player? Even Sam Hinkie wouldn’t have thought of that. You should look at this another way:  It’s a fact that Kobe Bryant 

Shot 6 for 24 in a game 7!  And his team won!  You believe that shit?????

could have returned five or six weeks ago, only the Lakers decided they’d be better off holding him out until next season — even if it meant costing him about 600 points that he needs toward Kareem’s scoring record. 

That is a "fact," if your definition of fact is "something Bill Simmons made up because it helps him drive an inane narrative."

You gotta love the NBA, a league with a lottery system so screwed up that even Kobe — the most maniacally competitive player since Jordan — looks at the big picture and says, “You’re right, I shouldn’t play.” Hold this thought for later.

Oh I will, you dumbfuck.  I will.

Q: Have we ever seen a “superstar” player have his on-court production affected by his off-court antics more negatively than Paul George, at least in this era? 

Needless superlative #2.  THIS PLAYER WAS PLAYING AWESOME, BUT THEN HE STARTED PLAYING A LITTLE LESS AWESOME AFTER HE WAS INVOLVED IN A COUPLE WEIRD OFFCOURT INCIDENTS.  IS THIS NOT THE MOST INSANE THING THAT HAS EVER HAPPENED?  Bill Simmons makes everyone stupider.

Ever since the stripper story (in February) and the recent “catfish” incident (in March) became public stories, his numbers and impact for Indiana dipped drastically. 

George before the stripper story broke on February 7: 22.6 points on 44% FGs, 6.4 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.8 steals, 2.8 turnovers.  Since February 7: 20.3 points on 40% FGs, 7.3 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 2.0 steals, 2.8 turnovers.  HOLY SHIT HE'S COMPLETELY GONE OFF THE RAILS.  BILL PUBLISH MY LETTER PLEASE.

It’s not the Paul George we saw in the first half of the season, not the top 3 MVP candidate. I know this stuff is sensitive, but we can’t ignore it when evaluating a slumping Indiana.
—Connor Harrison, Gainesville, FL

Connor: you are a douchenozzle.

SG: I’m answering only because my readers keep asking if the off-court stuff affected George (and, by extension, the Pacers). He’s also acknowledged this stuff publicly, which makes it fair game. But you know what really happened? I think he just regressed back to being a slightly less efficient version of Paul George.
Wow.  What?  How am I supposed to respond to that?  He's totally right.  Of course, now he'll spend like 1000 words being a huge asshole about it, and drawing a bunch of incorrect intermediate conclusions, so we still have plenty to go over here.

George’s 19 playoff games last spring: 19.2 PPG, 43% FG, 33% 3FG, 73% FT, 14.6 FGA, 5.5 3FGA, and 6.7 FTA . Slightly fewer 3s, got to the line twice as much, everything else was on brand.
George’s 2013 hot streak (October 29 through December 31, 30 games): 23.8 PPG, 47% FG, 40% 3FG, 86% FT, 17.3 FGA, 6.6 3FGA, 5.8 FTA. And it happened: We thought, PAUL GEORGE IS MAKING THE LEAP!!!!!!

George’s shooting slump (January 25 through March 31, 33 games): 19.2 PPG, 37% FG, 32% 3FG, 87% FT, 16.5 FGA, 5.8 3FGA, 5.8 FTA. Even after you make the “extra shots” and “once he made the leap, every defense concentrated on stopping him” excuses, that’s a pretty dramatic dip from a two-month hot streak. Maybe he caught fire, drifted away from who he was and is, predictably cooled off … and now he doesn’t know what he is. If you’re not consistent enough to carry a superstar’s burden offensively, but you’re eminently overqualified to be a role player, then what are you? How do you handle it? He seems trapped between those two worlds right now.

I am OK with all of this.  I think what happened was he shot lights out for half a season, and now he's shooting much worse.  This happens even with the best basketball players in the world.  It's fucking hard to score with another world class athlete who's the same size as you waiving his hands in your face and bumping you in the ribs with his elbows.

From an eye-test standpoint, I thought George exhibited unusual confidence those first two months, 

Here comes Dr. Internet, ready to make a diagnosis.

taking and making hands-in-the-face, off-balance 3s right out of the Durant/Carmelo/T-Mac/Old-School Vince superstar playbook. But are we sure that’s who he is? What if he’s just an incredible athlete, an elite defender, an above-average 3-point shooter, an elite competitor, someone who isn’t remotely afraid of LeBron … and a streaky shooter who has his good stretches and his bad ones? 

This is not a 30 For 30 intro, no matter how much Bill wishes every aspect of his career could be as heralded as (his minimal contribution to) that one.

What if there’s still another offensive leap for the 23-year-old George to make, only he’s one or two seasons away from making it? What does that mean for the Pacers in the short term?

HOW WILL WE LOOK BACK ON THIS MOMENT IN 5.2 YEARS?  HOW WILL WE LOOK FORWARD AT ANOTHER POINT IN TIME 3.7 YEARS PAST THAT WHEN WE GET THERE?  I AM A REAL ANALYST I SWEAR.

Remember, he’s also playing without a slash-and-kick creator, and he’s playing for a contender that deliberately slows games down, limits possessions and relies on defense. Do I wish he went to the rack more over settling for jumpers? Absolutely. 

Coach Carter over here says THIS GAME IS WON AND LOST IN THE PAINT.  Also I DON'T KNOW THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CORNROWS AND DREADLOCKS.

Young LeBron went to the line 10-plus times a game. Same for Young Wade, In-His-Prime Kobe, Young T-Mac (9.7 FGA in 2003) and Durant right now. George’s closest style dopplegänger is T-Mac, also a streaky scorer, but a more talented offensive player who got to the line whenever he wanted. George isn’t there yet. 

Yeah, I like George just fine, but he doesn't stack up to T-Mac yet.  

He’s a work in progress. And lately, he’s fallen into some bad habits — see Zach Lowe’s Indiana piece today — 

See the thing written by the guy on my staff whose head isn't in his ass--

that have undeniably stilted his progress. The problem for Indiana is that Paul George is the guy from 10/29/13 to 12/31/13, but he’s also the guy from 1/25/14 to 3/31/14. 

That's deep, man.  That's really insightful.  Thank you.

They’re living in the same body. He’s not a finished product yet.

You already said that.  But congratulations on not being too offensively wrong about any of that.

Q: Remember when the Celts were humming along towards a 2011 title run until a trade deadline deal sent Kendrick Perkins to Oklahoma City for Jeff Green and a pair of underwear? And how it made sense on paper but destroyed Boston’s team chemistry, killed Ubuntu, 

MUCH HAD BEEN MADE of Ubuntu at that point.  I agree.  Much had been made.

and shipped Rondo’s best friend all at the same time? Well remember when the Pacers were humming along towards a 2011 title run until a trade deadline deal sent Danny Granger to the Philadelphia 76ers for Evan Turner and a pair of underwear? What say you Sports Czar and King of body language?
—Mike, Chicago


SG: If I could create a pie chart of percentages explaining Indy’s pseudo-collapse, here’s what it would look like.

*fart*

The Collective Slump (10%) — When’s the last time you watched anyone on the Pacers and said, “That guy’s playing great!” They’ve looked broken offensively for two solid months, for all the nuts-and-bolts reasons that Zach laid out today. 

Again, I direct you to the work of my colleague, who unlike me, is not a fucking moron.

Identity Loss (25%) — Their play tailed off because they stopped pounding the ball inside, their defense slipped, their ball movement effectively disappeared, and they don’t get nearly enough easy baskets. 

Here come the anecdotes and comically poor analytical skills!

And also — the concept of “handling success and being out front the right way” is a great one. Wasn’t that what derailed the mid-2000s Pistons? 

No.

They won in 2004 and made the 2005 Finals because of defense, teamwork and consistency. When the ’06 Pistons ripped off that 37-5 start and sent four players to the All-Star Game, it was the worst thing that happened to them. 

No.

They arrogantly developed an on/off switch that doomed them. 

That did not happen.  They won 64 games (a piddling 27-13 after that 37-5 start) and lost in 6 in the conference finals to a Miami team with one of the 20 best SGs of all time entering his prime, and one of the 5 best Cs of all time on the tail end of his.  The best player the Pistons had to counteract Wade and Shaq was, geez, I don't know, Rip Hamilton, one of the 30 best SGs of the 2000s?  Chauncey Billups, one of the 20 best PGs of the 2000s?  The 2005-06 Pistons were awesome.  The 2005-06 Heat had two players way better than anyone Detroit had, and outlasted them in a series.  That's all there is to it.  If you believe that the fact that four Pistons went to the ASG had anything to do with that outcome, please stick your head in the nearest oven and turn on the gas.

Could that be happening here?

No.  Nice tabloid-style phrasing, though.  "IS OBAMA A SPACE ALIEN FROM KENYA?????"  It's not libel if you use a question mark!  (Note: I understand that talking about a team developing a figurative on-off switch would not be libelous.  Just let me me make my bad jokes in peace.)

The Chemistry Thing (40%) — I’m the same guy who wrote a 700-page NBA book about the secret of basketball not having anything to do with basketball. 

Quasi-semi-Klosterman-esque.  Good decision, Bill.  Try to confuse everyone into thinking you're smart.  It's your best bet.

So, yeah, I can’t help overanalyzing Indiana’s chemistry meltdown. 

Because I actually know exactly fuckall about sports, and it's more fun to come up with bizarre, worthless and unproveable theories than to do all that messy "work" that people like Zach Lowe do!

Heading into the 2013-14 season, the Pacers were calibrated a certain way — grit and grind, defense first, stats don’t matter, the team is bigger than one person. 

Take it one game at a time.  Play Pacer basketball.  Practice like you play, play like you practice.  All of these are very meaningful things.

Then they ripped off that early hot streak. Then George got some early MVP buzz. Then all the “THEY CAN BEAT MIAMI!” stuff started. Then the media started preaching the genius of Roy Hibbert’s verticality and pushing for Lance Stephenson to make the All-Star team. Then they signed Andrew Bynum (not exactly Gandhi in the clubhouse) and flipped Danny Granger (a beloved teammate) for Evan Turner (a 2014 free agent who hasn’t fit in).

They added a good player and a guy who has in the past been a great player, giving up only a guy who isn't a good player right now.  Can you prove that that's NOT the cause of their slump?

So now you have 25 percent of your team playing for new deals, 

Funny how this is only potentially problematic when the team is losing.  When the team is winning, it's a brilliant idea to have expiring contract guys around, because they play their hearts out.  Funny that.  Funny funny that.

a star who’s getting prematurely compared to LeBron and Durant, a defensive anchor who thinks he’s Bill Russell, Lance thinking he’s an All-Star headed for a meaty extension, and a subtle behind-the-scenes chemistry downgrade from Granger to Turner/Bynum. 

Sure, their best player is playing much worse, as are their role players.  But can't we blame this on Evan Turner and Andrew Bynum (who is, of course, hurt and has been for several weeks)?  WE SURE CAN!

And as soon as things started going south a little, shit drifted out into the public. Larry Bird calling out Frank Vogel. Hibbert and George arguing in front of reporters. All of Hibbert’s quotes. Teammates arguing on the bench during games. West saying what he said. That’s the sign of real dysfunction.

Until they start winning, and then all those things are just great ways of everyone keeping everyone else accountable, and keeping the focus on the team.  Sportswriters are the stupidest fucking people alive.

Lance Has This (25%) — I’m going mostly eye test here. Admittedly dangerous. 

I deleted about five paragraphs that were just too fucking dumb to subject anyone else to.  You're welcome.

So, this isn’t a media-created story line just because it’s March and we’re bored. 

First of all, it's April.  Second of all, even allowing for that error, yes, that is exactly what this is.  You could not have been more incorrect about what this is not.  

Two months ago, I couldn’t imagine there not being a Round 3 Miami-Indiana slugfest without a major injury intervening. Now? I could absolutely see Brooklyn or Chicago toppling Indy in a Round 2 rock fight. It’s in play. Stay tuned.

This is a guy who has diligently honed a system for gambling on NFL games for the past 10 years, and who updates said system with all the new information he acquires every single year.  He loves football, loves gambling, and has enough free time on his hands to study both extensively.  And yet, he's still significantly worse at picking against the spread than a coin.  Be sure to keep that in mind anytime you're reading any prediction he's written about anything.

More next week.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The real question is, Who's Now? Is Mike Trout Now?

I should have done this post back on Tuesday when I took the screen cap, but fuck it, it's still relevant so I'll do it now.  Here's the ESPN front page as of Tuesday morning:


































First of all, before we get to the main event, let's look at the undercard that is the four "sub front page" stories on the bottom.

Going from left to right: NCAA women's basketball, which is front page news the day after MLB opening day, while the NBA and NHL are approaching the end of the regular season.  I wonder why this is here?  Could it be because ESPN televises NCAAW tournament games?  Nah, no way, couldn't be.  I was promised by John Skipper (or some other piece of cat shit high powered ESPN decision maker, I'm not going to look up exactly who it was right now but I'm pretty sure it was Skipper) in "Those Guys Have All the Fun" that's ESPN's editorial decisionmaking process is COMPLETELY REMOVED from its business side.  So therefore, I guess NCAAW is on there with the same number of panels/stories as MLB because it's editorially important to cover it, right?  And I guess the NHL just really isn't editorially important at all.  Not that I give a shit whether ESPN enables obnoxious NHL fanboys (who are the worst fans this side of obnoxious soccer fanboys) by giving the fanboys' sport the attention the fanboys think it deserves, but come on.  Fucking women's basketball?  Fuck that.  Fuck.

Next: Turmoil in Indy.  Wow, holy hell!  It's a story about a team that isn't the Heat, Knicks, Bulls or Lakers!  And it appears to be about how they're doing on the court and what challenges they might face as they move towards the playoffs!  Wild stuff.  I'm shocked.  ESPN management is aware of the relatively low number of people who live in Indy and/or follow the Pacers, right?

Next: Final Four.  It's the week before the Final Four.  Sounds like news to me.

Finally: "Critical of Kobe."  I don't know what this is and I don't give a fuck.  He hasn't played a meaningful game in a year.  I don't care what he Tweeted about what someone wrote about what he Tweeted, or whatever the fuck is being addressed here.  This is tabloid garbage and it does not belong on the front page, or anywhere else.

OK, enough of that.  I should just be happy the entire front page isn't NFL draft.  IT'S ONLY FIVE WEEKS AWAY, GUYS.  WHO'S GOING TO GO #1 OVERALL?  I THINK I JUST PEED MY PANTS.  Fuck the NFL draft.  Anyways, here's the reason I decided to write this post in the first place.

Mike Trout is really awesome.  He's the best player in baseball.  When he signs a gigantic contract extension, that's very important news.  However, he signed that contract on Friday night.  In the world of 24 hour sports news, it's ancient history by Tuesday morning.  It would have been ancient history even if Monday weren't opening day, i.e. the day on which a bunch of teams played their first game and lots of cool stuff happened.  Now, Mike Trout hit a home run on Monday night, which is pretty cool.  But his team still got their shit kicked in by the Mariners.  They lost 10-3.  But that doesn't even get mentioned in the subheadline.  It's only in the title of one of the links.  To be clear: I am not a Mariners fan.  I don't give a pot of piss about the Mariners.  I am not whining about this because I feel like the Mariners have been disrespected here.  As you can see from the highlighted box on the score ticker at the top of the screen capture, I am a Rockies fan.  God, do the Rockies suck.  Anyways.

So, the Mariners beat the Angels on Monday night.  Lots of other baseball stuff happened too.  What is ESPN's angle?  Well, since ESPN is more interested in promoting marketable personalities (WHO'S NOW????  IS JOHNNY FOOTBALL NOW?  I'M PRETTY SURE HE IS NOW) than covering sports, the angle becomes: Mike Trout hit a home run.  But Mike Trout's home run was pretty unimportant.  It was a long ways away from being the most important thing to happen in this game, and this game was definitely not the night's most entertaining.  Thus: this home run isn't really news, unless you're some shithead who cares more about stories and narratives than about sports.  Unfortunately, that's exactly who ESPN caters to.

ESPN is awful.  Please stop watching ESPN, people.  I have, except for live MLB and NBA broadcasts, and with the MLB ones I mute the TV.  (Their NBA announcers are kind of good though!)  Reading ESPN.com is not as bad as watching the network, but it's still terrible.  What do they offer that another major content provider that is 10% less horrible doesn't?  If you think the answer isn't "Nothing," you are wrong.  Just go to CBS or FoxSports or the actual home page of whatever league/sport you like to follow.  You won't regret it!  Oh, and if you use ESPN ScoreCenter on your phone, please stop.  That app was OK a couple years ago but it's horrendous now.  You're going to laugh at this suggestion, but I stand behind it.  Hear me out.  Delete ScoreCenter now and download TeamStream.  Yes, TeamStream is from Bleacher Report.  No, I do not go to Bleacher Report's website.  No, I do not respect Bleacher Report.  But damn, that is one fine app.  Seriously.  Try it.

In conclusion: fuck ESPN in the nose.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Swan Song of Jeter Month: A Paean to The Greatest Man Who Ever Lived

I swear, sometime we're going to actually stop writing about Derek Jeter's retirement.  But there's just too much.  I don't write very much these days because I don't consume much crappy sports media these days, and I don't make the time to go search for bad sportswriting.  But when an event like Jeter's retirement comes along, it's just too easy to find.    I promise, we'll eventually stop Jeter Month™.
Here's The New York Times, ostensibly the nation's premier source of good journalism, presenting Doug Glanville's "The Book on Jeter".  Right, I know, Glanville probably just gets writing gigs because he was a player.  But  still: this is horrendous. It's a mixture of terrible writing, dramatic prose, awful cliches and a bald-faced lie.
Every major league player is deeded real estate in the book of baseball. 
Are we talking real estate or literature here, Doug?  Holy mixed metaphor!

Some may be granted only one word, others a paragraph. And then there is Derek Jeter, who is closing out, in a masterly way, one of the great chapters in baseball’s history.
Would anyone argue that Jeter is closing a chapter in baseball's history, or rather merely in his own? I'm sorry, folks, but Jeter is not a symbol of anything. Unless you want to make him a symbol of a Player Who Did Not Do Steroids, which as Larry B mentioned previously, was the sort of thing that only hundreds of other players could manage.
It is rare when you can craft both the beginning and end of your entry and also guide the pen in between. The serendipity that marks a life in the game can add pages of unforeseen horror (or romance) to your story. 
Swoon!  Oh, the horror, the romance, the drama!  Coming out next month in trade paperback, Doug Glanville's Fifty Shades of Derek Jeter.  Spoiler alert: there are no pictures.
The wayward hand of the larger forces in baseball can act like a toddler’s first dance with a crayon. Wantonly scribbling out previous work, recklessly writing outside the lines without control.
Toddlers dance with crayons?  Good lord, this is a terrible metaphor, made worse by terrible execution.  It's like a heaping dose of terrible garbage force-fed to a dancing, drawing toddler who spews the terrible garbage everywhere, even on the walls, and then the Times publishes it.

But a major league player has a magic pen, too.
What?  Is Jeter now Harry &#@*% Potter?
 In Jeter’s letter to the fans, he expressed a common player belief that this game was a dream, the domain of the supernatural and unexplainable, enduring against all odds. 
Look at Jeter, going all Puck on the audience here. Also, I can only imagine the game of baseball, with its billions and billions of revenue, feels pretty scrappy because it's enduring against all odds.
So you tap your dreams, and accept that every once in a while they will be interrupted by a trip to the disabled list or a subpar season. Yet Jeter lived the daily dream of being an exceptional player with an exceptional organization behind him, and he became one of the best of baseball's dream.
With an exceptionally huge market and an exceptionally huge amount of money behind him buying exceptionally awesome players to fit around him.
Jeter has built a career on grit and hustle, on an inside-out swing and a jump throw to first from deep in the hole. The ice water in his veins enabled him to expect victory in the most dire circumstances, and doubled as an antidote to the sometimes venomous scrutiny that comes with playing in New York.
Grit?  Hustle?  Inside-out swing?  Jump throw? ICE WATER IN HIS VEINS?  JETER BINGO!
[And I didn't even use the free The Flip square in the center]
Jeter has always been daring and fearless, 
By fielding a lot of ground balls and hitting a lot of opposite field singles?  Shit, I did that in high school.  
and it takes a lot of courage to pre-empt the inevitable physical decline of a professional baseball player and do what he did this week: declare a self-imposed deadline and submit, finally, to baseball’s history book. 
How courageous of Jeter.  What COURAGE.  It's the most COURAGEOUS letter that's ever appeared on Facebook.  Other players merely retire when they get old, but nobody does it with Jeter's COURAGE. 
This is ridiculous.  The only baseball players whose retirement MIGHT be considered courageous are Sandy Koufax, Ralph Kiner, and Kirby Puckett, and even then, those were Sort of Obvious That They Couldn't Keep Playing.
The game’s actuarial tables don’t generally put a 40-year-old shortstop in the starting lineup on Opening Day for any contender, so he already enters this season as an anomaly.
Doug Glanville is lying.  Jeter will actually be 39 when he's in the starting lineup on Opening Day.  But why care about the truth when you're trying to sanctify the holiest shortstop ever to play the Game? 
Yet no player can completely control the ending. Happenstance is one of baseball’s great gifts and curses. When you are playing 162 games in a season, nearly every single day, anything can happen.
Anything can happen is our only hope.  Maybe Jeter's ankle will completely disintegrate on Opening Day and we will be spared the Jeter Parade of 2014.
Jeter never gave up until he knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that it was over, and even then, he winked.
1. Never gave up.  BINGO.
2.What the hell?    He winked? Was Jeter trying to be coy?  Or did he have some of the good old grit in his eye?
 He is pragmatic and knows the risk of entering a season at this stage in his career without a plan: it’s an invitation to chaos. 
But he has a plan: waltz around the country, get lots of attention and gifts, help the Yankees to a first-round exit, and distribute gift baskets all along!  omg. Best.  Summer.  Ever.
There would be the inevitable questions about a slow bat or an unhealed ankle, the distractions and self-doubts that come with a slump at 40 versus a slump at 25.
In many ways, Jeter’s declaration not only provided parameters for himself, it spared his teammates and his manager. They will not have to explain his future struggles, they will not have to consider joining a conversation that suggests he think about retirement.
He spared them that! How noble! And then he courageously and generously and nobly invited them to 30 different Jeter Day parties.   I bet by the end of the season Brendan Ryan's face will be permanently distorted from 162 postgame interviews of fake smiling and he will just lose it if he has to tell one more reporter about the Honor of Backing Up Jeter.
Truth is, he does not know how this year will unfold. We can imagine the impossible — like a standing ovation in his honor at Fenway Park or a game-winning home run in Game 7 of the World Series — because all along he played for something bigger than rivalry and organizational pride. 
Oh god, what a nightmare. That's worse than my recurring nightmare about flunking out of graduate school, my wife leaving me and being sent to a gulag while my leprosy spreads over the just-healed gangrene. Please god by all that is good and ho do not let this happen.
Those priorities earn the respect of anyone who loves the game and cares about its future. Jeter transcended tried-and-true constructs, and it would be fitting if his transition from the game were transcendent.

IS IT ANY COINCIDENCE THAT JETER STARTS WITH JE-?
But even though Jeter’s baseball legacy will be there for all time, the world changes, and how that legacy is interpreted will change with it. This is what is so hard. Even if we end on our terms, we still can’t know how we will be remembered.
That's not hard.  That's normal. In fact, I' m looking forward to seeing how history will look back on Jeter as an excellent Hall of Fame shortstop who did not transcend anything.  Nothing about this will be hard.
We hope there is something immutable about our effort. That we are somehow timeless and forever.
Good god, this overblown prose is worse than Rick Reilly.
 But we have to wait and see, and clarity still might not come in our lifetime. As Jeter stated in his letter to his fans, “Now it is time for a new chapter. I have new dreams and aspirations, and I want new challenges.”
Because playing baseball has become too challenging.
His greatest challenge may be those first steps without the pinstripes, without the packed stadium, without the opponent 60 feet 6 inches away.
A fifth of a billion dollars, the adulation of the biggest city in the country and worldwide fame might help him navigate that.
 It might arise while he’s sitting on the couch, opening up baseball’s history and seeing his entry complete, with nothing more to be added.
And saying, YEAH JEETS while pounding his chest.
And now for the dramatic ending, where Doug has saved the worst for last:
But the good news, as baseball turns to the next chapter, is that it’s a game that looks forward and backward equally, and something tells me that Derek Jeter will be that rarity who will find a way to travel through time and stand in both the past and in the future.
There it is, people! Doug Glanville thinks that Jeter will be able to travel through time.

That's it, folks.  I can't do any more Jeter Month.  Unless someone else takes up the torch, I'm done.  Next post will come sometime this week where I will discus how ESPN is digging up good old fashioned racism and decorating it with the facade of statistics!  Believe me, it's putrid.