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.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

I would get more worked up about how fucking stupid this is

But Bono was ranked #8 on the same list, so obviously it's meant to be a joke.  Well played, Fortune/CNN.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Jeter Month: In Defense of Jeter


Because boy, does he need it from this guy.  "This guy" (cue up Jon Gruden) is just some no-name blogger.  So, full disclosure and confession from me: this is absolutely the lowest of low hanging fruit.  I know that.  I KNOW.  I feel 100x weirder about breaking this down than I did about breaking down the article from the Poughkeepsie Journal.  But man, this anonymous dude put just enough thought into this, and it's just insane enough, that I felt like covering it anyways when I uncovered it doing a Google search for insane Jeter articles on the other side of the spectrum.  I mean, come on, it's still Jeter Month and I'm getting sick of dumping on Jeter.  This is a borderline insane sports opinion masterpiece, like something Bill Plaschke might write.  Therefore I must treat it as such.  (Since it's by a non-journalist, I'll cut out criticism of grammar, vocabulary, sentence structure, etc.)

Derek Jeter: Hall of Famer?

Yes.  And possibly Pope.

Derek Jeter is one of the most prolific players in Major League Baseball. He's captain of one of the most prestigious teams in the game, the New York Yankees. However, does prestige alone justify a player’s eligibility into the Hall of Fame?

That is a great question, which can be answered by looking at the players in the Hall of Fame.  Since with very, very few exceptions (Veterans Committee guys, usually), the players in the HOF are all somewhere between "awesome" and "unbelievably amazing," I would say that the answer to your question is "No."

I would dare say that the majority of MLB fans would answer "yes" without batting an eye.

No they would not.  This is a horrible, ugly, disfigured straw man.  Please set it on fire.

I partially don't blame them. Hell, Jeter's nickname is "Mr. November" for crying out loud! 

That's not really a "prestige" label.  That's more of a "He happened to hit one really important home run during the World Series (a World Series during which that home run was his only RBI in seven games, and he hit .148/.179/.259 by the way, but hey, I'm supposed to be on his side during this post so I'll drop it) the same year that an unprecedented tragedy caused the World Series to be delayed for a few weeks so the home run came just after 12:01 AM on November 1." label.

When it comes to pressure situations, Jeter may very well be the first name that comes to mind. He is the very definition of clutch. 

It's been said a hundred times, but of course: Jeter regular season: .312/.381/.446.  Jeter postseason: .308/.374/.465.  Jeter 2 outs, RISP: .305/.404/.428.  Jeter "late and close:" .290/.382/.410.  It is not that Jeter is clutch.  It's that he's good all the time, and has had a shitload of chance to be good in the postseason because of the team he plays for, and then dipshits in the media have washed his balls and called him the greatest clutcher who ever clutched a clutch because he has been successful in the postseason at about the rate you'd expect him to be.  Fuckity fuck fuck fuck.

Furthermore, Jeter has 5 World Series championships (including a World Series MVP). Also, he is the winner of 4 golden glove awards and has a career batting average of over 300.

I will agree with all of that, even the reference to the GGs, since I'm trying to pump Jetes' tires here.

With all that said, I still question his legitimacy into the Hall of Fame. 

GO ON.

From my observation, many baseball fans believe he is a first ballot Hall of Famer due to his post season performances. I'm not blaming them. 

I sure am.  He's a first ballot HOFer because of his entire career, his whole body of work.  If he had his same postseason numbers but had hit .220/.290/.330 during the regular season with 1500 career hits, he would not be a HOFer.  And yes, I know, even if that were the case there would still be plenty of zilcheroos who would insist he belonged in the Hall.  But if Scott Brosius didn't make it past one ballot, I don't think imaginary "only good in the postseason" Jeter makes it either.

I think that's how most people do it. 

This man needs new friends.

But sometimes memories can be deceiving. 

Little does he know, he's totally right.  No really, little does he know.  I think this guy started following baseball from his hometown of Worcester MA about three weeks before writing this.

Sometimes fans, myself included, have a narrow view of something based on limited exposure. In Jeter's case, they may only remember a few great moments, and those moments alone may cloud their judgement. 

You don't say.

The following is a list of reasons why I believe Derek Jeter does not deserve to be in the Hall of Fame (if he were to retire today, the 2009 offseason):

He means the offseason after the 2009 season, when the Yankees won the WS.  At this point in his career, Jeter had about 2750 hits, 225 HR, a lifetime .317/.388/.459 slash line, and about 67 rWAR.  He was Barry Larkin (who got in on the 3rd ballot) with a worse glove, but a slightly better triple slash (and 400 more hits), and four additional RINGZZZZ.  He most likely would have been a first ballot guy if he had retired right then.  Whether that happened or not, he was a HOFer, unquestionably.

Top MLB Shortstops

1.) Derek is not the most dominating shortstop in his era.

Ah, this old chestnut.  Start filling out your bingo card.  "Must have been the absolute best at his position during his 'era' (however that's actually defined)" is right next to "Would you buy a ticket to see him play?"

In fact, Derek Jeter isn't even the best shortstop on his team! Alex Rodriguez is the best shortstop in the game, 

This is true.

and Jeter (the Captain) wouldn't even relinquish his throne to the better player. 

This is also true.  But Jeter only did this because he likes to win so much, and knew that his arm wouldn't really play at third, while A-Rod's would.  And they got a World Series out of the arrangement.  QED.

I can easily rattle off four more shortstops that are not only better at the position, but also have a more legitimate bid for the Hall of Fame during his era.

No you can't.

For example, someone who I think should be an automatic bid for the Hall is Omar Visquel. 

BUT WAS HE THE MOST DOMINANT SHORTSTOP IN THE GAME DURING HIS ERA?  Dear God, Omar Vizquel has 12,000 career PAs (17th all time, although Jeter is about to pass him) and 28 dWAR... and still only has 45 rWAR.  He's an interesting HOF case, but if you have 12,000 PAs and can't get to 3,000 hits, and you aren't Ozzie Smith (who was a much better hitter than Vizquel anyways)... I don't think you should go in.

He was an average hitter at the plate, but he's a dominant defensive shortstop. He has the second most glove glove awards with 11 (2 behind Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith). What's even more impressive is that he won it in both the American League and National League.

What's even more impressive is that he happened to play for teams in both leagues, unlike that bum Ozzie Smith!

Number three would have be Jimmy Rollins. 

Through 2009, Jimmy Rollins had 1600 hits, a career OPS+ of 98, and 35 rWAR.

He possesses all-star qualities in every aspect of the game from batting to fielding. 

I like that this guy's argument against Jeter is "Now you can't believe everything you see... you've got to THINK, sheeple!"  And then he's all over Rollins, who is maybe 2/3rds the player Jeter is.

He hits for power 

True, although not as well as Jeter does.

and contact, 

Not true.

steals bases, 

True, although Jeter does too, almost as well.

and hardly makes any defensive mistakes. 

He has a much better glove than Jeter.  Pretty much all shortstops do.  Unfortunately, Jeter is so much better with the bat that it doesn't matter.  Jimmy Rollins is a low OBP guy who in his prime, could hit home runs and steal bases at a slightly better rate than Jeter.  To be fair to this blogger, at the time this was written, Rollins was arguably still in his prime--he just finished his age 30 season on a down note, but was theoretically still capable of doing what he did in his mid 20s.  To be fair to Jeter, even in Rollins's prime (which ended after that 2009 season--he's been hurt/crappy ever since), Rollins wasn't a better overall player than Jeter.

He is a 3-time golden glove winner and holds yearly titles in stolen bases and the 2007 NL MVP award.

He won the stolen base title once, in 2002.  And Jeter's GGs are a hilarious joke, but if we're bringing up Rollins's, we should probably mention that Jeter had four as of this writing.  Also, that MVP vote was a fucking sham.  David Wright and Chase Utley wuz robbed.

Next is Miguel Tejada 

Tejada is like Rollins with more power, no SBs and a worse glove.  As of this writing his career was essentially over.  He was worse than Jeter in every way except defensively, where he wasn't anything special.

who also holds yearly titles in RBIs 

He did that once, in 2004.

and the 2002 AL MVP award. 

Another sham MVP, given to the much less deserving candidate because Oakland made the playoffs and Texas didn't and A-FRAUD is a cheater anyways.  Also, that was the year that Barry Zito won 23 games and the Cy with a 2.75 ERA.  Barry Zito used to be awesome!  I had forgotten about that during his long, slow descent into sub-mediocrity in San Francisco.  I am getting old.

Much like Rollins, his best asset is his work at the plate. 

Much like Jeter, who is way better at the plate than either of those clowns.

He can hit for both contact and power. He is a dominant force and is someone I would place ahead of Derek Jeter.

No.

And last but not least is Alex Rodriguez. 

You already brought him up.

The name alone justifies his bid over Derek Jeter. 

What?  I hate Jeter but I think "Derek" is a pretty alright name.  It's better than "Alex" any day.

Not only is Rodriguez a better shortstop but he is arguably the best player in baseball. Although he is currently a 3rd baseman, many of Rodriguez's dominant years was as a shortstop with 2 golden gloves under his belt.

Again, Jeter had four as of this writing.  Just saying.

MLB Statistics

2.) Derek doesn't have the stats to back it up

Finally.  Let's get to some gritty statistical analysis.

If one looks at it from a statistical standpoint, Jeter does not measure up.

He can't hold Omaz Vizquel's jockstrap!

- Offensively, Jeter doesn't hold a single batting title. 

Same number of batting titles won by Rollins, Tejada and Vizquel combined.  A-ROID has one, way back in 1996.

In my heart of hearts, I think that matters. 

From earlier in this article: "Sometimes fans, myself included, have a narrow view of something based on limited exposure."  MIKE SCHMIDT AND EDDIE MATHEWS: WHERE ARE YOUR BATTING TITLES?  SHAME ON YOU.  LEAVE COOPERSTOWN IMMEDIATELY.  BABE RUTH AND WILLIE MAYS, YOU GET OFF WITH A WARNING SINCE YOU ONLY WON ONE EACH.

For instance, he doesn't possess a single season MVP title. 

And this brings me so much glee.  But it means absolutely fuck-all.  EDDIE MATHEWS, WITH 96 CAREER RWAR, YOU AGAIN.  YOU WORTHLESS SHITFUCK.  MEL OTT, YOU TOO!

Although many look at him as a power hitter, 

No.  Maybe during the 1910s they would have.

at least from a shortstop standpoint, 

Not even then, no.

he has never hit over 25 homeruns in one season (only 3 seasons with over 20 homeruns). Also, he only has one season with 100 RBIs or more.

Those bastards at the bottom of the Yankee lineup are to blame for this.  He should have made Joe Torre bat him 4th.  That would have changed everything.

- On the defensive side of things, Jeter is mediocre at best. Sure he has made some spectacular plays that we all have etched in our minds, but he's really inconsistent. He's never really had a wide range, so on average, he's not going to stop anything past routine grounders. Plus, even when Jeter does manage to get to the ball, he commits a lot of erros. In total, Jeter has 213 errors in 15 years (an average of 14.2 errors per year.). To put that in perspective, Omar Visquel (as mentioned above, 11-time gold glove winner) has a total of 183 errors in 21 years (an average of 8.7 errors per year.)

No argument.  My pro-Jeter stance has limits.

Or even better, let’s take the average shortstop, someone like Adam Everett. 

Adam Everett was an insanely good defensive shortstop.  He was nuts.  He had to be, to get to play in almost 900 career games with an OPS+ of 66.

He’s solid and has been a starter for the Detroit Tigers for 9 years. He is your everyday player, but by no means a household name and hardly a Hall of Fame candidate. He has committed 84 errors in his career, averaging 12 errors per season.

And the argument just ends right there.  Jeter averages 2.2 more errors per year than Adam Everett.  Hall of Fame: ACCESS DENIED.

New York Yankees

3) Derek is a Yankee!

Is he ever!  I like the exclamation mark, like this is a feature in Us Weekly or something.

That’s right folks, whether anyone wants to admit it, Jeter gets special treatment because he is a New York Yankee. If Jeter began his career for any other team, nobody would pay him much attention.

Yeah, with his 2750 hits, 225 HRs and 300 SBs while playing a premium defensive position (poorly, but stil), I agree.  If he were a Royal or a Padre, he'd have been forgotten about.

Derek would be the equivalent of a Yunel Escobar, the Atlanta Braves current shortstop (meaning good but definitely not Hall of Fame material.). 

Through 2009, Escobar was a career .301/.375/.429 hitter.  Pretty good.  But not nearly as good as my boy JEETS.

The Yankees are a major enterprise. They are, by far, the most recognizable American sports franchise. Since Derek is their proclaimed captain, he receives more attention that may not have been warranted.

Yup.  And he still would have been a Hall of Famer if he retired in December 2009.

Now, I’m not saying that Derek Jeter isn't a good player. In fact, my opinion of him is far from that. He's really good. He hits in the clutch and helps the Yankees win ball games. He does the right things and says the right things. He is a good role model for children all across the United States and is loved by millions. Of course, I know that none of this matters. I can him praise, but most of you will just glance over this part. But the fact of the matter is, I think he's good and very popular.

That's an A+ paragraph.  My ears are smoking as my mind tries to process how this guy can agree with all of that, and still think Jeter is a non-HOFer who doesn't hold a candle to Miguel Tejada.  It's glorious.  It's one of the best cases of double wrongism I've ever seen.  It's like a Bears fan writing an article about how overrated and mediocre Aaron Rodgers is, while also expressing the opinion that Rodgers is absolutely hilarious in those insurance commercials.

However, the Hall of Fame isn’t about popularity or at least it shouldn't be. The Hall of Fame is not about clutch hitters during the month of November. And it isn’t about average shortstops that commit 13-15 errors during their golden glove season.

That is correct.  The Hall of Fame is about the collective waste of skin that is the BBWAA, and their quest to make sure everyone knows how righteous and good the BBWAA is.

The Hall of Fame is about the best of the best. Who cares if he gets 3,000 hits over an extended period of time? So? Good for him. 

And fuck Hank Aaron and the 23 seasons it took him to hit all those home runs.  So?  Good for him.

It's a great achievement, but I don't think it's an automatic bid to the Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame should be about being a dominant player at your position during an extended period of time. 

Like Omar Vizquel.

To me, batting titles should take precedence over longevity.

EAT SHIT AND DIE, EDDIE COLLINS.

Also, the number of world series rings you have on your fingers shouldn't matter. Winning the World Series is a team effort. Did Derek Jeter help Yankees win those championships? Sure he did. But he wasn't the sole reason why the Yankees won. This isn't basketball. The Yankees won because they had a great team, every single time.

This whole article should just be this paragraph cut and pasted over and over.

Again, the Hall of Fame is about being the best over the course of many seasons (not just postseason and 15 years of racking up singles). In my humble opinion, Derek Jeter simply doesn’t demonstrate these qualities.

I am ashamed for having picked on this.  I hope whoever wrote it never finds this blog.