Sunday, September 30, 2007

bill simmons wants to remind you that boston sports fans are different than those from other cities

the point of this post is roughly the same as that of a great post dan-bob made back in august. and he's a better writer than me, so if you don't want to be bored by my rambling, just click that link and forget all about this. or, if you're bored, and have a mild to medium distaste for simmons, stick around. i'll make it worth your while. ANYHOW-

it should be abundantly clear to almost anyone at this point: the sports guy is a pretty ok writer until he starts talking about boston, at which point he becomes an insufferable douche. what is the deal with (some) boston sports fans? get a clue, folks. i hate to keep going back to this issue and griping about it, but it's so damn prominent in today's sports media that i feel like i have little choice. before i dive into this simmons article from last week, please allow me to set up the premise with a brief list. here are the facts about boston's sports teams:

1. no one cares about the celtics
2. the patriots are enormously popular, probably because they've been really good for several years now and many people would rather cheer for a winner than a team with any geographical, familial, or sentimental connection to them
3. the red sox are enormously popular, probably because a) they've also been pretty good for several years now (see point 2) and b) because they were famously long-suffering underdogs for a decades and then won it all, and any "successful underdog story" attracts tons of fans.

most importantly:

4. they have pretty passionate fans... wait for it, here's the important part... JUST LIKE DOZENS OF OTHER CITIES ALL OVER THE COUNTRY. this is the real problem here; people like simmons and the author in the piece by dan-bob i linked above seem to think that just because espn saturates its programming with boston related coverage, all of a sudden their fan base is different and special and magical and more important than other fan bases. like i already said: get a clue, boston fans. you're not different. you may be more numerous than lots of other fan bases (because of points 2 and 3 on this list). but in terms of the passion you feel for your teams, and subsequent appropriate reactions to what they do on and off the field: you're. not. special.

sorry about that. just had to establish it before i commented on bill simmons' thoughts on whether or not it's ok to boo athletes. take it away, bill. i think this is a pretty interesting subject, and i'm approaching it with an open mind.

(intro about heidi from "the hills" being booed for singing at a club skipped)

ok, let me amend what i said: i'm approaching it with an open mind so long as bill doesn't reference "reality" shows aimed at 14-24 year old girls during his intro.

Cheering and booing will always be the purest reactions spectators can have. When somebody delights a crowd, we cheer. When somebody angers a crowd, we boo. Simple. Booing, which dates back to the sixth century, when Greek playwrights were booed, gained steam in Rome's heyday, when gladiators were cheered and jeered for their efforts. But it didn't really round into modern form until professional baseball, college football and boxing took off, in the late 1800s.

ok, fine. i'm liking this this so far. like i said way back at the beginning of this piece, simmons can be pretty decent when he's not talking about boston's teams.

Then, somewhere along the line, sports fans decided it was acceptable to mock their own players. No star was immune, not even legends like Babe Ruth, Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio, all of whom took heat for the size of their contracts. When salaries and ticket prices skyrocketed in the 1980s and '90s, the player/fan dynamic changed for good. Now everyone is fair game, helpless victims of these 10 words: "Hey, I'm paying a lot of money for this ticket!" When we direct venom at our own guys, though, the results can be spectacularly unproductive. And yet we keep doing it. At what point is "tough love" just damaging?

i'm still enjoying the piece. but remember that last part, about people booing because they pay for tickets. notice the context in which simmons writes it. clearly he's implying that booing is bad, and subsequently, having paid for a ticket is no excuse for doing it. this will be important later.

Antoine Walker was treated so unfairly by Celtics fans that he'd search them out in the stands to ask with a pained expression, "Why aren't you supporting us?" Eagles fans booed Donovan McNabb on draft day and picked him apart for the next nine seasons (and counting), even though he has taken them to four NFC championship games. Yankee fans jeered Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera even after they proved themselves to be the glue of four World Series champions. Keith Foulke clinched the first Red Sox title in 86 years, but when he broke down the following spring, he got lambasted. Now more than ever, you're only as good as your last game.

true. right or wrong, this is the way things are. so tell me, bill, since you're implying with these examples that booing is usually inappropriate, why should fans cut athletes like these guys a break?

Does this make sense? Not to me. I believe a player should be booed by the home crowd for four reasons only:

ok, like i said, i'm approaching this open-mindedly. i don't really have a strong opinion on the matter, so i'm willing to listen to the reasoning of someone who doesn't approve of booing.

1) a noticeable lack of effort,

that makes sense. pro athletes are being paid tons of money while playing games. they should at least put out effort while doing do.

2) an indefensibly dumb mistake,

this is a little nebulous. i assume he means something like flagrantly roughing the opposing team's quarterback to cost your team a 3rd down stop or calling a timeout when you don't have one in basketball, as opposed to booting a ground ball or missing a free throw. that makes sense as well.

3) if the coach keeps stupidly trotting him out in big spots (in which case the expressed displeasure is for the decision, not the player)

totally fair. i agree 100%. sometimes it's just obvious that someone shouldn't be on the field/court/rink. booting seems very justified in that case. ok, great! i really like what the sports guy is doing here. i'm enjoying this column.

Our favorite teams are extended families. There's no way you'd boo a family member at a Little League game, so why is it okay to boo someone on your favorite team? What's the goal? To make him feel worse than he already does?

great points, i really see where simmons is coming from. booing often feels therapeutic, but really, what does it accomplish when it's directed at your team's players?

oh shit, wait. while i was copying and pasting pieces from simmons' article, it looks like i missed the fourth item of his list of times when it's ok to boo. crap.

4) if he happens to be named Tim Thomas or J.D. Drew.

oh no. no no no. i shouldn't have let my guard down. i can already feel this turning into a huge disaster. this will end poorly. let me spoil the ending for you before we get there. basically, bill is saying: "hey, it's mean to boo your team's players and really doesn't accomplish anything! the only times it's ok to do, in my mind, are 1) good reason, 2) good reason, 3) good reason, and 4) because boston fans are different than other fans." i know it's not clear yet, but trust me, you'll see eventually. this is exactly what bill is getting at. (and you can disregard the tim thomas reference, that's a throwaway joke. this column is all about drew.)

From time to time, a respected veteran even upbraids the fans for badgering a player. Jason Varitek recently begged Red Sox fans to stop booing the beleaguered Drew, saying, "I wish the fans understood how much power they have. They can help J.D. Drew."

Of course, Drew is a poor choice for our sympathy because of his contract (obscene), demeanor (lifeless) and clutchness (nonexistent).

so this is why drew is the exception to simmons' "the only 3 times you can boo players on your own team." because he's being paid a lot of money, because he's not an outwardly emotional player, and because he hasn't been "clutch" by simmons' estimation this year. WOW. hold on one second.

ok, i'm back. you know, i did some research, and the results were stunning: j.d. drew is actually the only player in any sport ever to sign a big free agent contract, not be "clutch" during his first season with his new team, and not be a fiery emotional guy! who'd have known! the only guy ever!

(huge tangent, skip this if you just want to get on with the simmons hatred.

sarcasm aside, here are the numbers on drew and his "clutchness" this year.

full season: .270/.373/.423
"close/late" situations: .277/.377/.385
2 outs, runners in scoring position: .213/.404/.427
at bats when either team's lead 4 runs or less: .277/.385/.416
at bats when the margin is more than 4 runs: .231/.292/.461

overall, not at all what you want from a high-paid corner outfielder, but not exactly bottom-of-the-barrel-worst-player-ever-cut-this-guy-already numbers. just kind of subpar. note that his OPS and batting average are both much lower when one team is leading by 5 or more than when the game is closer than that. as for "close/late", it's a bit of a crude stat. it includes all plate appearances in the 7th inning or later when the game is tied, the batter's team is ahead, or they're behind but the tying run is on base, represented by the batter, or in the on deck circle. so, for example, pretty much any at bat in extra innings counts. or if your team is trailing by 3 in the 8th inning and you're batting with guys on 1st and 2nd, etc. drew has been pretty "meh" in those situations. let's see how some other red sox have fared.

manny ramirez, "close/late": .197/.310/.361
kevin youkilis, "close/late": .182/.321/.348
mike lowell, "close/late": .262/.323./.357
david ortiz (king of clutch, most clutch player ever, first ballot HOF because he hit like 3 walk-off HRs in a week in july 2006) "close/late": .263/.371/.395

hmmmmmmmmmm. interesting. like i said, "close/late" is a crude stat, and all 5 of these guys only had about 90 PAs this year to formulate those numbers. but it's pretty interesting to me nonetheless. i mean, 90 PAs isn't a ton but it's not nothing either.

i know, i know, the fact remains: boston fans hate drew regardless. so let's let bill finish up telling us why it's ok to make him an exception to the booing rules. don't say i didn't warn you: it's going to be because boston fans are special and different than other fans.)

In a recent column, I joked about my new book, Caught Looking: My 100 Least Favorite J.D. Drew Late-Inning Strikeouts, and received hundreds of e-mails from readers who wanted to write the foreword. J.D. has always rubbed his fans the wrong way, even the mellow Dodgers faithful, who practically spit their Pinot grigio at him last season.

remember that sentence and the context: dodger fans are pretentious, and drink pinot grigio during baseball games.

He's such a beautiful player to watch: He's got all five tools and a perfect swing. It's almost insulting to think anyone so gifted could finish with a lower OPS than Dustin Pedroia. When he fails, he isn't just failing himself; he's failing the baseball gods who gave him those gifts.

as is every talented major league player when they fail. and, as i showed in my tangent, 4 other key red sox hitters (2 of whom make even more money than drew, and 1 who makes around 2/3 as much) have failed just as much or even more than drew has when games were on the line this year.

After he signed for $70 million, every logical baseball watcher believed Boston fans -- who have a storied history of responding poorly to players who keep getting hurt --

here's where the "special/different" talk starts. yes. only in boston do fans respond poorly to highly paid players who get injured frequently.

-- would eventually regard J.D. the same way PETA supporters would now react to the sight of Michael Vick's exiting a Petco.

obligatory (bad) vick joke.

After a recent game against the Yankees, during which Drew performed the trick of supergluing his bat to his left shoulder right before a third strike, my father, who was in attendance, told me he'd never heard a local athlete get booed more loudly and with more venom.

bill's dad, a recurring character in his columns: master of anecdotal bullshit.

Hearing Dad describe the hatred as "palpable" made me feel bad for Drew -- for about three seconds. Then I remembered how he has enraged me so often this season. I can't watch the Sox while holding the remote anymore because I'm afraid he might force me to whip it across the room.

how dare he! how dare he put up a .270/.373/.423 split at age 31, when his career split is .284/.390/.500! what an asshole! how dare his close/late splits be the same as "big papi's" and better than "lowell's", "manny's", or "youk's!" what a selfish dick. he should give back all the money he made this year, and personally call and apologize to simmons and every other red sox fan.

But just for the hell of it, let's say Boston fans took Varitek's advice. Let's say they cheered Drew every time he came up, and every time he killed an inning, they reacted like Little League parents and shouted things like "Keep your head up, buddy!" and "Don't worry, we didn't need those runs!"

from earlier in this exact same fucking article:

Our favorite teams are extended families. There's no way you'd boo a family member at a Little League game, so why is it okay to boo someone on your favorite team? What's the goal? To make him feel worse than he already does?

bill, do you even have an editor? or are you just trying to sneak contradictions like this through to prove that you're a total badass to your buddies j-bug and hench? you even used the exact same goddamn "little league" comparison. you cannot be serious.

How long could that show of faith last before they turned on him again? A week? Two? Can you ask 35,000 loyal fans who are paying as much as $312 a ticket to sympathize with a $14 million-a-year guy who has killed more rallies than the National Guard? Probably not.

i asked you to remember 2 things from earlier in this posting. do you remember what they were? here, like that little league contradiction, i'll cut and paste them for you.

1. Now everyone is fair game, helpless victims of these 10 words: "Hey, I'm paying a lot of money for this ticket!" When we direct venom at our own guys, though, the results can be spectacularly unproductive.

2. J.D. has always rubbed his fans the wrong way, even the mellow Dodgers faithful, who practically spit their Pinot grigio at him last season.

so, you shouldn't be allowed to boo just because you paid money for a ticket. and dodger fans are soooooo pretentious (the AUDACITY!! pinot grigio at a baseball game... how stuck up!). but people who would pay that price to see a red sox game are presumably unpretentious, and furthermore, since they're paying that kind of money, the rules go out the window for them. bill is flaunting contradictions with reckless abandon here. makes me cry. everything was going so well for a little while back there. the wheels just came off as soon as j.d. "the human embodiment of the verb choke" drew came up.

i really don't have the energy to finish out the column. let's briefly summarize, just to see how ridiculous this whole thing looks.

first, my concessions:
1. drew has not been as terrible as simmons would have you believe, but definitely is not worth what the red sox are paying him.
2. simmons doesn't flagrantly and outwardly state that boston fans are "special/different." but come on, read between the lines. anyone who reads him regularly can see this column is just dripping with the tone of "this situation is different because it's happening to red sox nation!" if you disagree, leave a comment. i dare you.
3. bill simmons really bothers me. i didn't actually come into the article with an open mind, as i originally stated. sorry. i mean, i had an open mind about whether booing your own team is ok or not... but not about simmons himself.

all that in mind, here are bill's absolutely inane points.

1. bill thinks there are only a few times you should boo your own team's players. i mean, you wouldn't boo your own family members at a little league game, and your team's players are like family!
2. j.d. drew is the only exception to this rule (besides tim thomas). i mean, come on! what do you want boston fans to do, cheer him on like family at a little league game? this is boston red sox baseball we're talking about here!
3. boston fans are paying good hard earned money to see ortiz, ramirez, lowell and youkilis OPS .776, .671, .680, and .669 respectively in close/late situations and this doesn't bother them. when drew OPSes .762 in those same situations, it's an absolute travesty.
4. "the hills" is a great show.

yeah. all that seems about right. gag me, espn. please either hire someone to tell simmons when his columns are full of nonsense, or ban him from writing about boston's teams. seriously, it'll make the sports journalism world a much better place.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Extra: "Killer Instinct Necessary to Win Divisions"

Wallace Matthews has a great theory as to why the Mets are faltering.

These Mets lack a killer instinct

There you have it. The New York Mets are finding themselves out of the NL East league because they have no killer instinct, as evidenced by them not killing anything lately.

Pity poor Willie Randolph. Try as he might, he can't turn these sleeping dogs into pit bulls.

I'm going to go ahead and skip to the last sentence of the column real quick.

But deep down, he's got to know that no matter how much he whips them, he can't turn this litter of pussycats into a pride of lions.

This is basically the same dumb metaphor. I've got one! "No matter how many dumb metaphors Wallace Matthews puts into his articles, he still can't turn his writing into something that makes any sense"

Right now, he's got three gamers - David Wright, Moises Alou and Paul Lo Duca - and a clubhouse full of Mister Softees who wouldn't have survived one day in the crucible of Brownsville, where Randolph's character was forged,

Let's have a one-player draft between you and me Wallace. You can go first and pick either of these two players.

Mister Carlos "Softee" Beltran: .276/.355/.527 EqA: .302. WARP: 8.1 Good at fielding? Yes

Mr. Paul "Gamer" Lo Duca: .276/.314/.284 EqA: .247. WARP: 2.8. Good at fielding? Not particularly

Now normally I'd say Beltran is a better guy to have, but....

Catch: The latter is FIERY and has KILLER INSTINCT

Now I see why you want Lo Duca.

Side note: Why is Moises Alou considered a "gamer"? He's about the last guy on the Mets roster someone would label a "gamer", except like Jose Valentin or something. The guy is 41 years old and is bad at fielding! (I heard somewhere good fielding is what makes a "gamer") So which is it? "gamer" = killer-instincty, hussle-y, gritty? Or "gamer" = good at baseball? Either way, you're wrong.

let alone the walk in the park that is the National League East.

Or, at least, should be.

The NL East isn't like, amazing, but it's hardly the NL Central, the only true, "walk-in-the-park"-y division.

Their non-performance against the Washington Nationals, a team with nothing to look forward to but winter vacation, was inexcusable considerng the gap in talent and payroll between the two teams.

Yes, and no bad teams ever beat any good teams in a best of 3 series. The Marlins actually aren't 6-0 against the Cubs this year, because there is no such thing as "variance" or "small sample size".

When you factor in that the Mets not only should want to beat such a team, but desperately need to, it borders on the shameful.

The Mets want to beat the Nationals, as opposed to other teams.....whom they are indifferent to beating.

All season, the Mets have taken a day or two off each week, hence their inability to put together a five-game winning streak until two weeks ago.

And yet, they and their fans have been lulled into a false sense of security by the weakness of their division, which has kept them in first place every day of the season since May 16.

Here's the problem. It's hard to call the 2nd best division of a 3-division league "weak", especially when the difference between the best teams and the worst teams is far less pronounced than it is in the AL.

But now, faced with their first real test, they are floundering like a prizefighter who has won 35 setups in "preparation" for a title fight. And every time you think you have seen their worst performance of the year, they surprise you by taking it one step lower. And who knows when it will bottom out?

I would imagine that if it hasn't already, it would have to be sometime in the next week, Wallace.

And what's the "title fight" here? Playing the Washington Nationals? This comparison does not hold water.

Read on if you want to. It's a bunch of garbage about how the Mets don't "look like a playoff team" and "don't care about winning". Piss off, Matthews.

mike celzic fails to understand irony

the venerable journalist known as "hatguy" wrote this article back on sunday, but it's definitely still worth reviewing. re: mr. april (you know exactly who i'm talking about), and the possibility that his agent scott boras has already been talking with the cubs about him being a part owner upon retirement in addition to playing there for the rest of his career. now, follow along and see if you can find the irony.

The big magazine article is out, the denials are in place and Alex Rodriguez, near the end of one of what may be his greatest season as a hitter, is once again the center of controversy, seemingly without even trying.

how does he do it? i've always assumed it's because he has a job with every major media news outlet. so whenever he so much as takes a piss, he immediately goes to the offices of all these media outlets and gets a story about himself published. i mean, what other possible explanation is there for all the exposure he gets?

“Great players with great demand create great rumors,” Boras told the Associated Press, and even that denial reeked of spin and ego, as if this sort of thing is to be expected.

non sarcastically- yes, this particular rumor is a little bit outside the scope of the norm. it's not everyday you hear about a player possibly negotiating to own one of the most valuable teams in sports before he even plays for them. i acknowledge that. at the same time, i'm still comfortable saying:

sarcastically- how dare scott boras imply that a popular and hyperexposed player like a-rod (who plays in new york to boot) is often at the center of media firestorms! what is he, high? great players in great demand don't creat great rumors. we all know how it really works- shitty players not in demand at all create great rumors. did you hear journeyman reliever rudy seanez recently bought a new TV? true story, i read about it on teh internets.

What’s got to be annoying to the Yankees is the timing of this – a week before the playoffs. When the story should be about the Yankees’ remarkable comeback from 14.5 games back to the brink of the AL East title, it’s about A-Rod. It always seems to be that way.

funny how that works. i'm curious- what's your theory about why people constantly talk about arod, mike? maybe you and several hundred of your fellow sportswriters should write columns containing your explanations for this strange phenomenon for several years, and let the fans read them and decide. that might help clear things up because i currently have no idea. none. and for me it would kill two birds with one stone, because personally i feel like i don't know enough about a-rod. he's really kind of underexposed. what's his personal life like? does he have a girlfriend? do he and derek jeter hang out ever? please, someone link me.

i really don't have enough energy to address any of the other central points of the article. to sum it all up-

1. yeah, scott boras is a sleazy guy.
2. yeah, if this rumor is true, it's a sleazy thing to do.
3. yeah, the timing of it is maybe a little bit questionable.
4. but far and away, most importantly- here we have yet another goddamn column about arod. more specifically it's one about something related to him that hasn't even been verified. and within it- this column made out of guesswork, theorization, and vague attempts at serious analysis- hatguy has the gall to fucking complain about how arod is always in the news. unbelievable.

my parting shot, unrelated to the central idea of the piece-

He’s an incredible baseball player, but stuff like this sure does make him annoying, sometimes to distraction. He’s like the guy who cuts the cheese in a crowded elevator and doesn’t get why everybody’s trying to get away as far away from him as possible and making faces – after all, the odor doesn’t bother him.

who the hell does hat? who is this imaginary guy mike's referring to? i'm a 23 year old bachelor who still usually thinks bodily function jokes are funny. i have a lot of brash and crude friends who think pretty much the same way. and when we're hanging out together in private, we often laugh at any "cheese" that might get "cut" by one of us. yet i still have to say that i definitely don't know anyone like this guy, who would react as mike describes to a fart released among strangers. i'm pretty sure even the brashest and crudest of my beer swilling, self scratching, profanity using, about-their-appearance-and-demeanor-not-caring friends would be embarrassed to pass gas in a crowded elevator. this ridiculously off point "don't you readers know exactly who i'm talking about?" analogy kind of makes me wonder what celzic does when he lets one loose in a crowded public place. *shudder*

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

cbssportsline forces its writers into awkward arguments

(preamble: given my relative lack of knowledge about the bears compared to pnoles and chris w, this post could easily blow up in my face. we'll see what happens. mostly i had the idea of making it based on the ridiculous premise of the position pete prisco had to defend. my analysis might suck, but it's still a funny situation. alright, roll the tape.)

in today's flashy, loud, "who's now", in-your-face, people-screaming-at-each-other-all-the-time, "no spin zone"-emulating sports media, there are few things more annoying than the awkward "head to head" segment. everyone knows what i'm talking about: two analysts are asked the same question, almost invariably take opposing viewpoints, and simplistically duke it out with each other for about 30 seconds. then they move on to the next subject. sometimes, like on "pardon the interruption," it works pretty well. but when this happens, usually it's a function of a genuine (or at least genuine looking) rapport between the two combatants. i wholeheartedly feel like mike wilbon and tony kornheiser are good buddies who love talking about sports and just happen to disagree a lot. most of the time, though, these kind of segments seem forced and obnoxious. PTI is the exception rather than the rule.

sadly, it would seem that some media firm has done market research saying viewers love people shouting at each other in split screen, so this is the way things are going to be. we have to live with it. so, given that that's the case, let's try to look on the bright side of things! sometimes it can create some pretty hilarious situations, such as during this printed exchange between's pete prisco and clark judge.

Should the Bears have benched Rex Grossman?

this is where the comedy comes in- some jackass editor came up with this question, and as a result, someone's got to defend grossman. pete, this is pretty much the journalistic equivalent of being o.j. simpson's legal team. how are you going to work your way out of this one?

No. That might sound crazy considering how he has struggled, but three games does not make a season.

right. but it does make almost 20% of a season, and when you lose two of those three games and one of your division rivals goes 3-0, it makes for a 2 game deficit. furthermore, grossman does have a very recent (hint: it was last year) full season of absolutely maddening inconsistency and overall slightly subpar performance on his resume. in 2006 he completed only 54.6% of his passes, had a TD/INT ratio just slightly over 1, and sported a very "meh" 73.9 QB rating. in fact, those stats can be broken down further when you separate his starts in weeks 1-5 (completed 61% of his passes, 10 TDs against 3 INTS) to the rest of the regular season (51% completions, 13 TDs and 17 INTS). in three playoff games he was very pedestrian (56% completions, 3 TDs and 3 INTs, 197 yards a game). so, grossman has sucked this year. aaaaaand, since right around last halloween, he's also sucked. i'm aware that the bears as a team aren't built in such a way that they require a 350 yard/3 TD performance out of their QB game in and game out. and i'm not saying brian griese is going to be much better. but can you really defend grossman from a "he just needs more time... let's not do anything drastic after 3 measly games" perspective?

Plus, I blame the coaching staff.

please elaborate.

Grossman hit Bernard Berrian in the hands in the second quarter for what should have been a long touchdown pass. Berrian dropped it.

i wasn't aware berrian was part of the staff. also, let it be known that grossman is the only QB ever to have one of his WRs drop a potential touchdown pass. this fact should be acknowledged by any grossman detractors.

Then with his team down 10-3, he passed them to the tying touchdown.

this is pretty much true.

After the Cowboys made it 17-10, Cedric Benson fumbled and Dallas turned that into a field goal.


Then it went bad. Grossman's first pass on the next series was picked by Anthony Henry and returned for a touchdown. Game over.

you're not helping grossman's case.

The rest really went downhill, but it didn't matter.

true. the bears probably were out of the game, down three scores with less than 12 minutes to play.

It doesn't matter if it's Grossman or Brian Griese. You can't succeed as a quarterback in a system designed to make the quarterback play it safe.

trent dilfer (during a half season in which he never cleared 300 yards) and brad johnson (during a season in which he cleared 300 yards once) have super bowl rings. now, i realize 300 yards is an arbitrary point to choose whether or not a QB is "playing it safe" or not. but i think it's pretty generally established that those two guys were "game managers," not "gunslingers," and each made few enough mistakes to take their teams to titles. obviously the 2000 ravens and the 2002 bucs had amazing defenses. it's not like dilfer and johnson carried the teams to titles all by themselves. i'm just saying... this sentence, about how QBs can't succeed while playing it safe, is a crock of crap. in fact, it's patently false, as long as "leading your team to a super bowl title without putting up manningesque numbers" qualifies as being a successful quarterback.

The Bears think they can just win by playing good defense, running the football and mixing in a special-teams return or two by Devin Hester.

i'm not sure they could win it all by doing that, but they could definitely win a lot of games. the injuries their defense has sustained hurt that prospect, as has cedric benson's spotty play. but stranger things have happened than a team with an awesome defense and a home run threat like hester winning a lot of games by playing conservative offense.

At some point, the coach has to let the quarterback do more than just manage the game. Grossman never got that chance. It's unlikely Griese will get it either.

again, not sure i agree with that. maybe with the bears' d hurting, and benson struggling, the playbook needs to be opened up a little bit. but not a ton. especially with griese or grossman or kyle orton in charge.

meanwhile, clark judge, you have the oh-so-enviable position of taking the counterpoint and explaining why it's good grossman was benched. your thoughts?

Are you kidding me? The Bears were getting nothing from the position.

[middle of column omitted]

I don't know if Brian Griese will be better, but I do know he won't be worse.

good enough for me. i'm sold.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

unaware the NL west even existed, several baseball "experts" are asked to evaluate it

this will end badly. from jon weisman's "fungoes" blog on NL West- Rockies in the Discussion. now let me just clarify- i have no problem with weisman himself. the blog itself looks pretty good overall. rather, i have several large problems with all of the people he interviewed for the piece. seven different "smart baseball people" were asked the same question. how many different ways they can be wrong/tragically oversimplistic in answering it? (sorry, this ends up being pretty long... if you don't care about the NL playoff picture, you might want to skip it. but i have no regrets about writing it. three quarters of the analysis in here is absolute baloneyshit. i had to do what i had to do.)

Flying around the bend like Franz Klammer at Innsbruck '76, the Colorado Rockies, with an eight-game winning streak capped by a three-game sweep at San Diego this past weekend, are still vying for a medal with one week remaining in the regular season.

when's the last time you saw a baseball team compared to an olympic skier? just saying.

If the Rockies can get over the hump, do they become the worst nightmare for their potential NL Central and NL East playoff opponents? Or do Arizona and San Diego still offer the biggest challenge? Sunday, I asked several online baseball writers for their thoughts:

and it would seem none of them did any research whatsoever before offering their answers.

Rich Lederer, Baseball Analysts: Arizona has the best record in the National League since the All-Star break, yet it has been well-documented that the Diamondbacks sport a negative run differential. San Diego has allowed the fewest runs in the majors, although skeptics say that is in large part due to the fact that the Padres play their home games at spacious Petco Park. Colorado has the longest current winning streak in baseball, but is still four games back in the West.

ok... good start. where are you going with this?

Hey, it's the playoffs. Throw out the analysis and logic, and bring on the Ouija board.

is that how you got your job?

Anything can happen come October.

thank you for the epic cliche. you must work for FOX's self-promotion department. i can just hear joe buck saying this in his douche-iest "playoff voice."

My hunch is that Colorado would do the best in the postseason, but the Rockies have to get there first.

a hunch. good. again, how did you get your job? however, i do have to give this guy some credit. he clearly doesn't know anything about the NL west; but he more or less admits to it. wait until you see how some of these other clowns try to fake their way through the fact that they have no idea about any of these three teams.

(side note- can you imagine anyone offering analysis like this about one of baseball's more loved-by-the-media divisions? it would sound ridiculous. "who's the favorite in the AL east? the yankees have been really good since may, but the red sox are really good too! let's throw out the analysis and logic and say... shoot, the yankees, i guess. no! wait. red sox. yeah, i'm going with the red sox. on a strong hunch." sigh. welcome to baseball in the year 2007.)

David Pinto, Baseball Musings: Which would I least like to face? The Arizona and Padres offenses just don't produce. They're both around 4.45 runs per game, near the bottom of the league. Adjusting for parks, however, gives San Diego an edge. San Diego's lineup sends good hitters to the plate, where that's not true for the Diamondbacks.

san diego-
team OPS: .727
team OPS+: 98
top 3 individual OPSes on the team: 1.004 (m. bradley, in limited action), .824 (a. gonzalez), .792 (k. kouzmanoff)
number of regulars with an OPS+ of 100 or greater: 6 (including bradley and mike cameron, both injured)

team OPS: .735
team OPS+: 89
top 3 individual OPSes on the team: .859 (m. reynolds), .826 (e. byrnes), .819 (c. jackson)
number of regulars with an OPS+ 100 or greater: 5 (including the injured orlando hudson and chad tracy)

san diego has the edge in OPS+ despite having a lower raw OPS because they play half their games at petco park. other than that, the sole big difference is bradley, who is now out for the year. to give pinto the benefit of the doubt, i'll assume he gave his answer before bradley got hurt. but his answer is tragically simple anyways. "san diego has good hitters, arizona does not." use your brain buddy. reynolds and byrnes (whose SBs add an extra dimension of offense) aren't good hitters, but gonzalez and kouzmanoff are? look at the numbers, moron.

[Jake] Peavy and [Chris] Young make a terrific 1-2 punch in the rotation, but Young hasn't pitched well since returning from his injury.

young since his return, including a disastrous outing last night- 48 IP, 34 ER, 6.33 ERA. yeah- i'm gonna go ahead and say he's not really pulling his weight in the "1-2 punch" combo. sadly, the rest of david's analysis is pretty inoffensive, although still extremely oversimplified. but let's skip it and get to the real idiots.

Joe Sheehan, Baseball Prospectus: San Diego by just a little bit, mainly for the edge Jake Peavy has on Brandon Webb, and their having the best offense of the three teams.

that's all joe offers. that's it. peavy is better than webb (true, but how significant is that really? san diego's ace is probably the best SP in the league, and arizona's ace is like the 5th best... what a difference maker.) and san diego has the best offense of the three. before we take that as fact and move forward, let's just make sure it's true.

colorado 5.21
san diego 4.44
arizona 4.42

batting average:
colorado .278
san diego .248
arizona .250

colorado .353
san diego .320
arizona .320

SLG %:
colorado .434
san diego .407
arizona .415

oooooooooooooooooooook. thanks for the analysis, joel. baseball prospectus is held is incredibly high regard by so many dedicated baseball fans (read: intense SABR people, who love numbers more than anything when it comes to proving a point). and this is the kind of guy they employ? almost makes me want to side with the joe morgans and jerry crasnicks of the sports journalism world.

D.J. Short, I feel that the Diamondbacks are the biggest threat, simply because of Brandon Webb, who had a 42-inning scoreless streak earlier this year. Something tells me that he could be Orel Hershiser of 1988 revisited.

d.j. and joe from baseball prospectus should have compared answers before submitting. so webb is the singular reason he favors the d'backs. besides the fact that liking a team more than another based on one SP is pretty dumb (even when it comes to the postseason), what about the fact that peavy has a better ERA and WHIP this year? i guess because he didn't have a long scoreless inning streak, his season long dominance isn't worth as much.

(again, just like with the guy who picked the rockies on a hunch, can you imagine this kind of analysis being applied to one of baseball's more media friendly divisions by a so called baseball expert? "yankees or red sox? i'm going yankees, for one reason and one reason alone- i think chien-ming wang is slightly better than josh beckett." that would NEVER happen. welcome to the NL west.)

Led by a scrappy Eric Byrnes, the D'backs show a lot of fight and are more of an offensive force than the Padres.

review those numbers i just gave in response to joe from baseball prospectus, and tell me how this is true. well, the "offensive force" part anyways. the scrappiness part? i gotta admit- eric byrnes is scrappy as hell. he's like a version of david eckstein that actually plays above average baseball and even spends time in the sun occasionally. have you ever seen the way he somersaults on his followthrough every single time he's trying to throw out a baserunner from left field? plus, his jersey always has dirt on it. always. i think he practices his headfirst slide during pregame warmups. what a jackass. what a scrappy, gritty, gutty, hustlerific jackass.

The Mets have dominated the D'backs at Bank One Ballpark in recent seasons, including taking three of four there in May, but all the stats in the world mean nothing once the playoffs begin.

this wasn't asked, but thanks for telling us about how the mets have fared against them. also... the rockies... not really part of the question, then? ok.

Dave Studeman, The Hardball Times: I'd pick San Diego and Arizona over Colorado, because their pitching staffs are built for the postseason: ace starter, good No. 2 and 3 starters, deep bullpen.

the san diego and arizona bullpens are definitely awesome. and they both have an ace. however- let's look at these allegedly sweet no. 2 and no. 3 starters.

san diego
no. 2- chris young, who i've already discussed (6.33 ERA since august 1)
no. 3- greg maddux, 4.10 ERA, 1.24 WHIP (very solid), 6.29 september ERA in 5 starts (not solid), only a 101 ERA+ because of petco (shockingly unsolid)

i'm not as familiar with the d'backs rotation, so i'll just list the credentials of their next 3 best pitchers after webb, and we'll try to figure out who no. 2 and no. 3 are.
doug davis- 4.27 ERA (ok...), 110 ERA+ (ok...), 142 Ks in 187 IP (pretty good...) 1.60 WHIP (that is awful, for a potential #2 or even #3 guy)
livan hernandez- 4.85 ERA (that kind of sucks), 97 ERA+ (nope), 1.56 WHIP (not even close), 87 Ks in 200 innings (wow)
micah owings- 4.49 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 102 Ks in 146 IP (and a grand slam!)

so i guess owings is probably the #2, and davis is #3... i guess. are those the kind of guys you expect to carry you through the playoffs? i guess, as that one idiot said, "anything can happen in october!" and look at how good jeff weaver, jeff suppan, and anthony reyes were last year for the cardinals. still... neither of these top 3s are even close to elite as far as the whole league goes. although they've fallen out of the playoff picture, the dodgers have a much better 1-2-3 (penny, lowe, billingsley). the braves have an edge with smoltz, a rejuvenated tim hudson, and chuck james. the mets are comparable to both with perez, maine, and glavine. hell, i'll even take what the cubs have to offer with zambrano, lilly, and hill over what the d'backs are running out there. and all that's only in the NL. i mean, this whole argument only exists because chris young and maddux are hurt. were they healthy, the padres would be way better than all these teams in this department. but both have been hurt and performing poorly for a signficant amount of time, and these "experts" should know that.

Of the two, I'd give a slight edge to the Padres because their offense seems just a bit better, and I think a visiting team might have a hard time adjusting to their ballpark.

might have a hard time adjusting how? is the batter's eye covered with pictures of baseballs? is the outfield made out of trampolines? pathetic. and again, imagine this kind of analysis being offered re: the yankees and red sox. it's sad to realize the depth of information offered about certain teams just dwarfs that offered about other very talented and "significant" (as in, playoff worthy) teams.

Bob Timmermann, The Griddle: A question as puzzling as this requires a nap. And after thinking about the topic, I started napping. But once awake, the answer became no clearer.

unfunny. get to your answer.

Each team, if viewed objectively, looks like it should not be able to make the playoffs.

this is nonsense. what is the difference between objectively and subjectively viewing a baseball team's chances at making the playoffs? any act of trying to predict the future is inherently subjective.

I would have originally tabbed the Padres because of their pitching, but I'm just not sold on it.

although you probably don't know why, you are right. i've got $5 that says bob doesn't know young and maddux have been hurt recently.

I would have to go with Arizona because they actually have a manager (Bob Melvin) who seems to best be able to wring out the most from the talent he has available. The Padres are reminding me a lot of the 2004 Dodgers -- in a bad way.

thank you for that great piece of non-analysis. the rockies weren't picked to finish above .500 or 4th in the division by anyone during before the season started, but the fact they're going to do both has nothing to do with clint hurdle. bud black? terrible manager. couldn't wring water out of a wet sponge. (sarcastic joke does not apply to the fact that black just tackled his best hitter on the field, tearing the guy's ACL)

And I think the Rockies are not as formidable once Matt Holliday (who missed games Saturday and Sunday with a strained left oblique muscle, but will try to return Tuesday in Los Angeles) is subtracted from the lineup.

the rockies are not as good when their MVP candidate doesn't play. who'd have thunk? so he missed 3 games, all of which the rockies won, and now he's supposed to be back. and... this works into your answer.... how?

Ken Tremendous, Fire Joe Morgan: I think it's unquestionably the Padres. Although Young hasn't been quite as good since the injury,

young, pre-injury: 20 starts, 1.82 ERA, 0.99 WHIP
young, post-injury: 9 starts, 6.33 ERA, 1.39 WHIP

slight discrepency there.

he still has a WHIP of 1.06 for the season,

not relevant, since he's obviously not the same pitcher since he's been injured.

and he and Peavy are easily the best 1-2 combo in the division.

when healthy, yes. now, no.

No one on the entire team can hit, but no one on the Diamondbacks can hit either, and they only have one good pitcher.

at least all of that is vaguely correct.

Assuming the Pads make the playoffs, I wouldn't be shocked if they went to the World Series.

considering this is baseball, where even the best teams only win 2/3 of their games, and you only need 7 wins to get through the LDS and LCS, i wouldn't be shocked if any of the eight teams that make the playoffs go to the world series. also... the rockies? part of the question? i guess not.

so, finally, let's summarize: weisman asked seven baseball experts whether the padres, diamondbacks, or rockies present the biggest playoff challenge to teams from the NL east and NL central in the postseason.

-2 want to choose based soley on either peavy or webb, 1 of whom picked the padres because peavy is better than webb
-3 think chris young is helping the padres win games right now
-1 thinks the padres have the best offense out of all three teams
-3 fail to mention the rockies at all, despite the fact that they're a single game behind the padres for the wild card
-6 of them fail to mention arizona or san diego's bullpens, both of which are amazing
-1 thinks the diamondbacks don't send good hitters to the plate, but the padres do
-1 made their choice on "a hunch" after "throwing out analysis and logic"
-1 wants to remind us that all the stats in the world don't mean anything once the postseason begins
-1 required a nap before coming up with his answer

ah, online sports journalism. you've gotta love it.

eat a dick espn...

Okay, this is from a complete homer's perspective, but here it goes... go here and check out the NL MVP fan poll on Click the link to vote for the NL MVP. Notice the names they give. Hmmmmm.... I feel like there might be someone missing. Like maybe someone who's number two in BA and OPS, number one in hits and extra base hits, and number 4 in runs scored and HRs. Oh, what's that you say? He plays at Coors field? Fuck him then I guess.

Eat a big fat dick ESPN.


Headline from Ed Hardiman of The Daily Fowl:

"Parker Brothers Signed to Replace Milton Bradley

LOLLERSKATES! Another great joke, Ed.

He's apparently funny enough to have Gene Shalit commenting on his posts.....

Well Ed, Milton always seems to be playing the 'TROUBLE' game, and then he's 'SORRY. He's up and down like 'CHUTES and LADDERS', which tends to make up his game in 'LIFE'. I don't care 'TIDDLEY WINKS' about Milton. He should get a 'CLUE'.

Monday, September 24, 2007

one of the most confusing dumb fan comments you'll ever hear

the scene: tonight's giants/padres tilt at AT&T park. bottom of the second. fred lewis on first. omar vizquel laces a ball into the huge right center field gap, and ends up on third when all the dust clears. guy standing behind me:

"Wow... an in field triple!"

what the hell? i mean, i guess he's right... sort of.

for crying out loud

how many goddamn baseball cliches can cbssportsline's scott miller cram into one stinking article? a few weeks ago i wrote this, in which i pointed out how joe morgan loves gushing all over the los angeles angels of anaheim for "not waiting around for the three run homer", "moving runners", and "playing angels baseball." well now that i've seen what scott has to say about the halos, unfortunately i must report that joe isn't alone in loving their gritty gutty approach to the game. let's count scott's angel-loving cliches together. it'll be fun.

the front page teaser, before we even get to the article itself, reads:

1) They don't wait around for three-run home runs. They don't wait around for anything.

this is why the giants are playing so poorly this year- they're waiting around for "anything," unlike the angels who are not. hey giants, if you want to win, get out there and start not waiting, you lazy sons of bitches. (now on to parts and pieces of the actual body of article.)

2) This is an emerging dynasty,

they've won three division titles in the last four years. yup, sign them up for dynastic status. they will certainly be remembered as one of the all time greatest AL west teams from the mid 00s.

3) "We have to get used to beating them because they're going to be here year in and year out," John McLaren, the interim Seattle manager and longtime coach to former Mariners skipper Lou Piniella, said.

as opposed to the a's, who will only be participating in mlb competition every other year from 2008-2017. or the rangers, who will be using a two years on/two years off system during that time period.

4) Most importantly -- and this is no small part of why the Angels could wind up with the game's best record -- they all believe in manager Mike Scioscia's way of doing things.

scioscia's way of doing things. you know- trying to score more runs than your opponent while playing the game of "baseball." good thing the angels believe in this or they'd really be up shit creek.

5) "I remember walking one day with Lou in Peoria (the Mariners' spring training site), and they had two huge buses parked there," McLaren said, noting the oddity because most clubs travel to spring games in one bus. "They were pinch-hitting, running the bases ... they beat us something like 14-1."

i count this as a cliche because of the "pinch hitting, running the bases" part. as if nobody but the angels do this. in fact, it's really alarming teams like the yankees and diamondbacks have had such success this year, considering they don't instruct their players to run the bases. and amazing, the rockies are still in the NL wild card picture despite not using a single pinch hitter yet! at least they've gotten some hilarious at bats out of their relief pitchers.

6) "Afterward, I asked Lou, what was that about? He said, 'They wanted to beat us. They wanted to beat us bad.'"

a continuation of the previous cliche, and one of my favorite sports cliches out there- the oft-used and never relevant "they wanted to win." you think the royals want to win this year? do the red sox just want to win more than anyone else right now? is that why they've got the best record in the league?

7) "We had a lot of young guys in the organization, and the only way to evaluate them was to play 'em," he said.

well, you could always have an arm wrestling tournament with all of them. or maybe a spelling bee.

8) They bid farewell to Bengie Molina two years ago because of the young catching on the way. And anybody who watched Molina with the Giants this summer knows he can still play.

molina did have a good season; i'm not making fun of this statement as if he didn't. i'm just highlighting an underappreciated cliche. of course he can freaking play. he's 32 years old and in good health. he didn't suddenly lose all his ability overnight.

9) "A lot of teams have injuries. It's what you do with them that counts."

thanks garrett anderson. personally, were i the general manager of a baseball team with injuries, i would try to replace the injured players with the best available healthy guys. genius. that's why they pay me the big bucks. got any other story cliches/cliched stories?

10) "I've been on teams that were good but had no depth whatsoever. And that ship didn't sail right."

great. much appreciated. but if your team has no depth, is it really any good?

11) This one does for a couple of reasons: talent, and an aggressive, in-your-face style that is baseball's equivalent of a full-court press.

i'd love to see basketball's version of a sacrifice bunt.

12) "They're a National League club," McLaren said. "They can beat you in a million different ways."

literally, they can beat you exactly one way- by scoring more runs than you. figuratively, i really have a hard time believing you could list 1,000,000 different ways to beat someone at baseball. here, i'll try:

1) wait around for them to wait around for three run homers (note: does not work against angels)
2) steal as many bases as possible
3) go from first to third on all singles
4) utilize hustle, grit, and gristle
5) be david eckstein; if you are not david eckstein, play with as much heart and determination as possible

whew, i'm exhausted. what else is there?

6) want to win more than your opponent

i think that's it. shoot, i came up 999,994 short. getting back to the original point of this post, we need one more cliche for a lucky set of 13. chone figgins, do you want to do the honors? how would you describe your team's approach to the game this year?

13) "It's playing the game. It's playing baseball." (emphasis is scott's/chone's, not mine)

thanks buddy. couldn't have said it better myself. this is not bowling. it's not cribbage. it's motherloving baseball.

Sunday, September 23, 2007


Jay Mariotti has started writing "exclusive online columns every day". Basically he pumps out like 4 new briefs a day onto the Sun-Times web site.


This is more of just an ironic/funny thing than a bad article. I thought it was worth pointing out because it makes me very, very angry.

Sox-paganda exposed!

Gee, I think this is the proudest day of my career. A piece in Columbia Journalism Review says professional sports franchises, such as the White Sox, orchestrate specific campaigns against sportswriters they don't like based on smear strategies derived from -- drum roll, please -- the Bush administration and political public-relations firms.

Let's take a minute for Jay to change his pants.

OK. Good. On we go. (I couldn't find the article he's talking about online, but if anyone does, please post!)

Let me get this straight: You mean to say a baseball team is so obsessed with what I'm writing that it would resort to using Bush-like tactics against me?

This really puts writing on a blog called "Fire Jay Mariotti" into context, eh?

Is that why Hawk Harrelson is always drooling over his flower shirt to say something about me 10 times every telecast -- because he's being told to follow the Dubya handbook? The CJR piece lists me and Jason Whitlock of the Kansas City Star among organized targets.


I'm asking for a raise. I had no idea I was this important.

This is the reason that this situation pisses me off.

I also had no idea the Sox were so petty and devious. Actually, I did have an idea, but between covering major stories involving the Cubs and Bears, starting this perpetual Web column, writing my regular column for the paper, doing five ESPN shows a week and making plans to cover the Beijing Olympics, I kind of forgot the Sox were still around.

Forgot? I wasn't aware you knew anything about them at all besides:

1) Ozzie Guillen is an embarrassment and the reason the White Sox suck
2) Their record, up to the minute, since July 2, 2006
3) They are, on average, less popular than the Cubs

Of course, fans are smart enough to see through any silly Sox-paganda attempts. The franchise should stop worrying about the media and try to dig out of its monstrous hole since July 2, 2006, a period in which the Sox have gone 105-133 and fallen back into their irrelevant two-hole on the local baseball food chain.

There it is.

Barry Bonds Doesn't Run Fast, So He's Bad At Baseball

Isn't that right, Scott Miller?

Saying bye to Bonds shows that Giants finally mean business

When the premise of an article is that a team giving away the only offensive force in their lineup is a sign of "meaning business", you know you've got a winner. But I mean, Barry is an asshole, right? And that means that his homers actually count as negative runs for the team.

What San Francisco's split with Barry Bonds means is that the baseball people are back in charge of the Giants.

There are about a hundred different threads running through this story, many of them with soap opera twists and controversial turns, but the most important thing for the organization and its fans is that baseball people again will be making baseball decisions.

Keeping the guy with the highest EqA in the world: not a baseball decision.
Cutting ties with aforementioned man: baseball decision.

Thank you, baseball people, for re-taking charge of this baseball team, and letting one of the best baseball hitters hit the baseball free agent market. Baseball.

That sounds patently simple. It isn't. Last winter, general manager Brian Sabean and his people wanted to cut ties with Bonds and begin fixing what they viewed as a flawed roster. The business department, headed by president Larry Baer, wanted Bonds back.

Made sense from the standpoint that Bonds was going to set baseball's all-time home run record this summer. The turnstiles would be clicking and the money would be flowing in.

That was the main reason. The other reason (and the one more relevant to your article) is that he doesn't make an out nearly half the time he comes to the plate.

Didn't make sense from the standpoint of, what are the Giants attempting to do, win or stage a circus?

Is this a sentence?

Everyone knew Bonds, at 43, couldn't play the outfield and was brittle as a saltine. With him, the Giants were going to be older, slower, less athletic and far more one-dimensional.

Mr. Slow, Unathletic, One-Dimensional and Circus-y: 7.4 WARP3
Mr. Multi-Dimensional, Winning, and Athletic: 3.4 WARP3

For the record, saying that keeping Barry Bonds would make the Giants more one-dimensional is bogus and retarded-vagina-ish. Barry Bonds is good primarily at two things: 1) getting on base, and 2) hitting home runs. The Giants are 27th in MLB in HR and 29th in MLB in OBP. How the fuck does losing Barry Bonds make them less one-dimensional? Nay, my friends, nay! Keeping him would INCREASE the quantity of dimensions that this team has!

Scott Miller, you are a moron.

The business people carried the day. This was, as predicted, good news for the bean counters as the Giants played to packed houses both at home and on the road for most of the summer until Bonds hit No. 756. It also was, as predicted, bad news for Sabean, new manager Bruce Bochy and anybody who cared more about Giants W's than individual records.

Find me a left fielder available to the Giants this season that would contribute to more wins than Barry Bonds. I dare you. It certainly isn't fucking Fred Lewis, if that's what you think (man, his life sucks!).

Bonds is batting .279 with 28 home runs and 66 RBI over 125 games and, in his website farewell, writes that the Giants told him that he's "far exceeded" any expectations they had for him this season.

Because he played well and contributed to winning.

That's all well and good, but what's notable is where the expectations were to begin with this spring. At their camp in Scottsdale, Ariz., all you heard was how well Bonds was moving around. He was -- compared to the Willie Mays statue outside of AT&T Park. And almost as if to prove it, Bonds stole a base on opening day. It was almost as if he was staging a public viewing of his quest for the Fountain of Youth.

The Giants would lose that day, 7-0 -- a precursor of many days to come. And as for Bonds' theft, what we now know is this: San Diego couldn't throw out the corpse of Ty Cobb. Of those attempting to steal bases against them this season, the Padres have thrown out only 10 percent. They're about to set a major league record for most stolen bases allowed.

That's pretty valid, but in large part due to Chris Young being absolutely awful at keeping runners on, and he wasn't pitching that day. Also, does anybody know if the Padres have added any bad defensive catchers since the beginning of the season that may have contributed to that stat?

No, Bonds still barely covered any ground in left field and he still was more a threat to clog the base paths than he was to steal 30 bags.

Yeah, and the asshole clogged them 48.3% of the time, because that jerk decided to be an ASSHOLE and clog the bases by getting on base that often. What a cloggy cloghead. Very few people steal 30 bags. I want to literally write a 3-page essay full of shitty metaphors and comparisons about how bad that sentence is. Who cares if he's slow and doesn't steal bases? If he leads THE FUCKING UNIVERSE IN EqA THAT MEANS HE'S STILL THE MOST PRODUCTIVE CARBON-BASED LIFE FORM PER PLATE APPEARANCE.

His power numbers are solid, but they're no longer stratospheric enough to carry a team into the upper division of the standings.

Really? A 1.053 OPS isn't that great? I wasn't aware.

At the time of Friday's news conference to announce the divorce with one of the greatest players in club history, the Giants were 67-86, last in the NL West. Only Florida (66-87) and Pittsburgh (66-88) had worse records in the NL.

This is 100% Barry Bonds's fault. Fuck you, Barry Bonds, for being a terrible baseball player. I can't think of any other reasons why the Giants have such an unproductive offense that doesn't get on base very much other than that Barry Bonds is terrible.

Fuck, there's another page of this crap and I don't really have the time. So one last fun blip.

Third baseman Pedro Feliz has been a middle-of-the-order hitter too often this season. He's Bochy's kind of player, but he's also a No. 6 or 7 hitter in a winning lineup.

Pedro Feliz has a .287 OBP and is a bad offensive player. He's a 6 or 7 hitter in a winning lineup when the team has Sandy Koufax, Pedro Martinez, Roger Clemens, Don Drysdale, and Johan Santana in their primes as the starting rotation.

Want to change your mind, maybe, Scott? I expect a full apology for this trashpiece tomorrow.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

some random asshole does something hilarious

credit where credit is due: saw this on deadspin. more important credit where credit is due: someone out there is about $15/year poorer because of this. and i think we can all agree it's money well spent. go to:

here's to you, unknown person with more money than they know what to do with and a well expressed disdain for for one mr. mariotti. your effort is appreciated.

i'm not 100% sure this counts as a mixed metaphor

but i am 100% sure it counts as stupid. bob griese, calling the penn st.-michigan game on abc, talking about how michigan needs to establish a ground attack because they don't want to put too much pressure on their freshman quarterback:

"Once they get that running game going, anything else is just the cherry on top of the iceberg."

you sure it's not gravy at the end of the tunnel?

Most Ridiculous Hook Ever

So I've been busy lately. I missed a few updates on the Reds. I went back and read the write-up on after the Reds' victory over the Cubs on Tuesday and I found this gem, which makes the somewhat-valid point that Aaron Harang is underrated.

CHICAGO -- Aaron Harang could nail a performance as "Hamlet," and the nation's critics would likely rave first about Shakespeare's writing or how great the costumes or lighting were.

Actually, I think that if Aaron Harang nailed a performance as "Hamlet", the nation's critics would likely write headlines like "Daring Director Casts Gigantic Hamlet" or "Enormous Hamlet Dwarfs Role". If Shakespeare envisioned Aaron Harang playing Hamlet, the script would've only been one act long and Hamlet would've beat the shit out of Claudius right away. I doubt any production of "Hamlet" has ever had a 6-7 275lb star.

Also, I don't know why Mr. Sheldon put "Hamlet" in quotes. Is he envisioning Harang doing a one-man rendition of the entire play? Because that would be downright ridiculous! I'm sure Aaron has a lot of acting talent, but I don't know if he could handle both Hamlet and Ophelia!

The point of the article is somewhat valid; Harang has been a top-10 pitcher in the NL two straight years. You hear more about blowhards like Zambrano, who will not win the Cy Young because he hasn't even been the best pitcher on his team, and has been a great deal worse than Tom Gorzelanny. Good, Mark. Valid point. But your article's hook is either whimsical or stupid, based on your literary affections.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Okay Larry you got your Wish

There are four guys involved with professional sports I wouldn't mind seeing as a quadriplegic for the rest of their lives, spending the rest of their miserable days shitting themselves, unable to even twitch a finger. The list includes:

1. Barry Bonds
2. Tom Brady
3. Ray Lewis
4. Skip Bayless

Note there's only one sports journalist (I use the term liberally) on my list. I really, really hate about 90% of sports media, but not enough to wish pain and suffering upon them. Bayless is the obvious exception. larry b left this comment on the last post:

skip bayless really gets too much of a free pass here at firejay. i need to crack down on him a little bit. the problem is ESPN doesnt let him near a keyboard anymore, so in order to do this "cracking down", i'm going to have to watch first and 10. ugh. i'll consider it.

That's right: the website that still lets people like Jerry Crasnik and Jemele Hill write for them took away Bayless' column. That's like being kicked out of the special olympics because "sorry , you're just a little too retarded"

Now that his inconsistant, rampling, half-brained trolling isn't in written form anymore, it's like 100 times more difficult to make fun of him. It requires a DVR, and anybody who has comcast knows how godawful those pieces of shit are. But I'm gonna make the effort from here on out: SKIP BAYLESS YOU ARE A MARKED MAN.

Today's "First and Ten" was ripe with fodder to make fun of. He started out by saying that the Mets lost to the Marlins because The Philles have a "mental stanglehold over the Mets." I don't even need to make a clever remark, because what he says is so obviously, painfully stupid. That's the best part about writing about Bayless. Just quote him, baby. No need for well though out counter points. Just jokes about how he's retarded, and you wished he was dead. Better not go to Texas after trash talking the Coyboys Skip. They have no problem finishing off the mentally challenged.

Anyways, on to Skip's NFL picks for this weekend of marquee games (marquee because they involve teams from New York or Boston)

-Picked the Packers over the Chargers. He's not sure the Chargers “know who or what they are under their new coach norv turner.” Also he's not a big fan of Turner.

-Picked the Patriots over the Bills, but no way will they cover the spread. Because “after getting so high for San Diego, surely NE will have just a little bit of a letdown for this game.”

-Picks the Redskins over the Giants, but this one will also be a squeaker, because “it's so difficult to get high for a Monday Night Game.”

Welp that's it. Expect more Skip Bayless over here at firejay from now on, because it has to be done, dammit.

Biting The Hand That Feeds Us Part Deuce

hey remember when I did this?

What MUST Jeff Pearlman think about our gratitude. This time it's cw "soapboxes" edition...and doesn't have so much to do with Jeff.

In a recent interview with our noble patron Jeff "Fire Joe Torre" Pearlman, Larry B. asked the erstwhile columnist about regional bias. Larry inquired whether this bias was a natural side-effect of the print media or something that should be looked at as a serious problem. Pearlman gave his honest opinion, and should be commended for that. However, his opinion is problematic and full of leaps in logic (and judgment). It's not that Pearlman's the problem--far from it. The problem is that sports journalism, more and more, has become a black hole of flawed mentalities of coverage.

Far be it for me to tell ESPN how to market their "sports entertainment programming," but...well...I'm going to tell them how to market their "sports entertainment programming."

Here's Pearlman's response to Larry's question:

JP: I don't have a problem with it. Eight million people live in New York City. That's eight million people (well, not all of them) who live and die with the Mets and Yankees. Milwaukee, on the other hand, is home to approximately 550,000. To suggest fans care about both teams equally is illogical. When I was in college at the University of Delaware, our student newspaper would give the same coverage to swimming and diving as we did men's basketball. Then we realized six people were reading swimming and diving stories. So we stopped writing about it.

Basically, Pearlman makes some valid points here on a very general level: sports are not politics, science, or any other sphere covered by the American press. Sports are entertainment, plain and simple, and should be treated as such. Sports isn't news except to the extent that they effect the economy or impose on the society as a whole (i.e. The Juice and his endless string of murders and memorabilia robberies). Therefore, it stands to reason that the biggest news should be reserved for the biggest fan bases--supply and demand and so forth.

Fine. Good. I'm the last one to say the WNBA should get any sort of coverage because of "Good Fundamental Basketball". I'm the last person to care how the L.A. Clippers are doing, even if they're doing reasonably well and that's a "Good Story". I'm the last person to demand MLS air on prime time tv just because "The Rest Of The World Cares About Soccer So We Have An Obligation To Care About Soccer." I'm not that guy. Seriously. The only obligation sports journalists have is to report the biggest stories in an informed, professional manner.

That's the issue--what determines the "biggest stories"?

In the answer to Larry's question, Pearlman tellingly mentions the New York area and how its disproportionately large fanbase makes sports in that region a bigger story than in the much smaller area of Milwaukee, WI. This is a telling argument in that it exposes the flaw in the perceived righteousness of nationwide sports journalists (particularly ESPN journalists).

Fact of the matter is, the New York Yankees do merit coverage on popularity alone. NY is a much bigger city than any other city in the US. Excellent. However, this appeal to numbers begs the question of why teams in relatively small markets (Boston, Philadelphia) get preferential treatment to teams in large markets like Houston or Los Angeles. Is this the East Coast bias we've heard so much about?


But most likely the answer lies in what the producers of sports related websites, magazines and television programs WANT to be a big story. Take for instance my oh-so-beloved Irish's cataclysmic embarrassments on the field. Truly this is a story for the ages--traditionally excellent football program has unimaginably horrible season. All the stats prove that this is a historically awful season for a once proud franchise.

HOWEVER, the coverage of this collapse by ESPN is telling in regards to how a portion of the sports media manufactures a self-replenishing story. Observe:

1.) Notre Dame is no longer a football powerhouse. If they're lucky they'll be ranked in the top 15 come year end (it's been 14 years since they have had a legitimate claim to National Title Contender). If they're real lucky they'll win a bowl game (though they haven't in more than ten years).

2.) Notre Dame is having an awful year, but the statistics used to prove how awful they are are distorted at best. Current sports media manufactures artificial stats at an alarming rate. To digress, how many times do we have to hear "this is only the third person to take a no-hitter into the seventh inning against a team with a .274 batting average or better."? What do these stats prove? What does "this is the first time Notre Dame has lost 4 games in a row by a total of 35 or more" do to prove anything besides that they have been losing by a relatively large margin? It has no historical significance, even in the context that Notre Dame is nowhere near the program it was 15 years ago.

3.) Overexposure followed by complaining about overexposure. Do we really need segments on SportsCenter interviewing current ND students about their thoughts on the season? Do we need Regis Philbin on SportsCenter talking about how he feels about the Irish's offensive line? All this will do is give female-genitalia-faced Mark May more ammo when he talks about the overexposure and constant overhyping of the Irish. Sure, this start is awful and the Irish offense has been surprisingly bad, but this exposure is unprecedented for an 0-3 team...especially one that all the experts predicted to be lousy.

So thus the process is set in motion:

1.) take a non-story

2.)pump it up with artificial statistics and sound bytes that you get from round-the-clock mic-pushing until it seems like a much bigger deal than it is

3.) assure that even if the story disappears, THE ACTUAL ACT OF YOUR DISTORTION will be a story

You see this beyond ND, with stories like TO (I actually heard discussions on ESPN whether the media's constant mic-pushing is the reason for his bad rep, and debating the reasons why he's been relatively uncontroversial this year), Bill Belichek-gate, Ron Artest, and so on.

But the big reason why I bring this up, and now I come full circle, has to do with Mr. Pearlman's employer's pet-team:

The Boston Red Sox. A team from a non-huge metro area that gets nearly round-the-clock coverage. Can an argument be made that they have their merits (sort of big, widespread fanbase, general success and postseason aspirations, colorful personnel) but not much more so than any big city team (LA, San Diego, NY Mets, Phillies, Indians). The problem is that the media (particularly ESPN) members just so happen to be Red Sox fans. Period. Therefore, they're convinced, like any fan of any team, that their team is totally definitely interesting to the world. Is it unconscious or conscious? is a question that is hard to answer, but this process is in full-swing:

1.) Boston New York is a generally interesting rivalry with some historical significance, including some extremely memorable moments, but on the whole no more rich or interesting to non-fans than rivalries between other historical teams with an equally large fan base (Giants/Dodgers, Cubs/Cardinals)

2.) network plays it up in interest of good story, focusing more on sporadic moments and stats of interest instead of that largely the rivalry has been uninteresting and a non-rivarly between teams that were alternately non-contenders

3.) consequently the ensuing media circus ensures that there are high tensions, both among the players AND the viewing public, during the series so that broadcasters can focus on that in subsequent broadcasts, harping on things like "wow, this is the most exciting rivalry in baseball."

Think back 10 years. Did anyone really give a shit about the Yankees/Red Sox rivalry, aside from Yankees or Red Sox fans? Think back 20 (before my time so someone will have to help me out). This is a relatively new thing that we are ALL supposed to care about this rivalry.

This is a self-feeding story--one that's made villains out of players (who subsequently become embarrassingly huge stories and the subject of the purplest of prose...i.e. A-Rod) and heroes out of players, and fucking most embarrassingly of all, has raised our awareness of a now dead dwarf. A fucking dwarf.

In conclusion, thanks for the interview, Jeff Pearlman, but I fucking hate ESPN