Thursday, May 31, 2007

journalist mindlessly bitches about the NBA draft lottery; makes zero good points

its over a week old, but please, do enjoy this fine piece of garbage from aol fanhouse writer steve aschburner. everyone knows the NBA draft lottery is somewhat controversial. some support it, saying it discourages teams from "tanking" down the stretch because even finishing with the worst record in the league only gives you a 25% chance at the top pick. this in comparison to other leagues, notably the NFL, where finishing with the worst record gives you a 100% chance at the top pick. others dislike the lottery, because sometimes (the orlando magic in 1993 being the most extreme example) teams that were nowhere close to being bottomfeeders end up getting a very high pick. thus, teams that didn't "tank" and really genuinely were terrible arent getting what they deserve- the best chance possible to help their team improve. somehow, over the course of this article, aschburner manages to flip flop between both sides of the argument, contradict everything he says at least once, almost declare that the lottery should be modified to give bad teams even worse odds at getting the top 3 picks, and ultimately provide one of the worst non-solutions to a sports related problem i have ever read. its all pretty disorienting. also, this is going to be pretty long. but its such a bad article, especially at the end, that i strongly encourage you to stick with me and finish. i promise youll feel all warm and fuzzy if you do.

NBA Comes Out as Loser in Draft Lottery
System Again Leaves More Deserving Teams Out of Top 3

remember that subheadline. eventually it will make steve look like a complete moron.

The NBA's draft lottery blew up on national television Tuesday night so stealthily, so thoroughly and so quietly that the broadcasters covering the pseudo-event didn't see, hear or feel the blast until several long moments later.

The explosion was muted, like a bomb deep beneath an ocean pumping a hump of a bubble to the surface, the damage all done below. The TV guys and probably a lot of viewers didn't catch on right away -- they were fixated on the teams that would slot into the Nos. 1 and 2 spots at the very end -- but other, more dedicated or more frustrated lottery followers knew things had gone awry the moment the Milwaukee Bucks were announced as the No. 6 pick.

that is a horrendously crappy pseudo-run-on-sentence of an intro. i write crappy sentences all the time... but im not being paid to do this, and besides that im writing from my parents' basement wearing nothing but dirty underpants (as all bloggers do). nothing can blow up "stealthily." if a high school english teacher were grading this, she would write "WORD CHOICE?" in red pen here. also, i watched the broadcast of the lottery results announcement. the broadcasters had a very firm grip on what was happening the entire time, and recognized the surprising nature of the results almost instantly. they didnt make a huge deal about it or get frustrated for no apparent reason like aschburner is about to do throughout his article, but they did point out that the bucks, celtics, and grizzlies all dropped an unexpected 3 spots. and your extended explosion analogy is freaking terrible, aschburner.

Anyone familiar with the mechanics of the league's annual Ping-Pong losers' derby realized immediately that the system, again, had failed. And that a messy situation for the NBA had just gotten way messier.

if the point of the lottery system is to prevent teams from tanking games, then (as aschburner himself will say later in this same article) it definitely succeeded. on the other hand, if the point of the system is to make absolutely sure that the teams with the worst records get the best picks, then i guess it failed. but if the league wanted that scenario to happen, there wouldnt be a lottery in the first place. they'd just do things the way the NFL does them. this is equivalent to saying "this past year the rich paid the government a higher percentage of their income than the poor. our country's progressive taxation policies have failed, yet again."

also, i dont know what "messy situation" he's referring to... there hasnt been any lottery controversy for several years now. people still talk about the famous lottery that brought patrick ewing to the knicks, that orlando situation in '93 i already referenced, and how the spurs got lucky to land tim duncan in '97. but those are mostly distant memories. the more current draft related "messy situation" is the problem with tanking ive already mentioned. and again, as we will later see, aschburner acknowledges that boston and milwaukee did exactly that! so other than memphis getting hosed, what exactly is the problem? dont hold your breath waiting for a clear answer. youre not going to get it.

By lottery rule, a maximum of three teams could move up from the pack into the top three spots. That meant teams could drop no more than three places in selection order. The first eight cards unsheathed by NBA deputy commissioner Adam Silver lined up exactly, by inverse order of the teams' records, as they were supposed to.

Ever so briefly, it appeared as if no team was going to move, that the entire process was stick to the chalk and be a monumental waste of time, money and hype. Then the Bucks dropped from third, their statistically targeted position, all the way to sixth.

Uh oh.

let the contradictions begin- first the lottery was bad because the teams with the worst records didnt get the best picks. but now, if that theoretically hadn't happened and everyone had gotten the pick they were supposed to get, steve implies this would have made the whole deal "a waste of time, money, and hype." make up your mind, idiot. calm down and tell me what the problem is.

Instantly, we knew that three teams had moved up, the only possible way for Milwaukee to drop the maximum number of spots. Instantly, before Silver even reached for the next oversized envelope, we knew that Boston and Memphis were about to land at No. 5 and No. 4, respectively.

Instantly, before a thousand distraught Celtics fans even had time to grab their bricks, we knew that serious trauma was about to be inflicted on all manner of LCD, plasma, DLP and traditional picture-tube television sets. Instantly, we knew that Memphis boss Jerry West had made the right choice in waving goodbye to the Grizzlies this spring, but unfortunately now for the wrong reason.

im not a professional writer but im pretty sure starting four consecutive sentences with the same melodramatic adverb is dumb and annoying. we get the point- once the bucks were revealed at number 6, discerning viewers knew right away that the fates of the celtics and grizzlies were sealed as well. as ive already said, the TV guys didnt exactly fail to notice this. they didnt shit their pants about it, but they definitely brought it up. also- considering west's reason for leaving the grizzlies is because hes in his late 60s, has a son playing college basketball who he wants to watch, and doesnt want a fulltime GM role anymore im pretty sure hes still doing it for the right reason(s).

That left three relatively undeserving teams vying, in some order, for the top three spots in next month's NBA draft: The perpetually mismanaged and unloved Atlanta Hawks, the near-homeless and potentially relocating Seattle SuperSonics and the already-stocked-with-superb-young-talent Portland Trail Blazers.

i know he says "relatively" undeserving, but this is pretty dumb. i think the difference between the crappiness of the hawks/sonics and celtics/bucks/grizzlies is pretty much negligible. he doesnt exactly make either of the former sound like theyre on the verge of a title. the blazers, well, they got lucky. good for them. the sentence still mostly contradicts itself.

A draft class boasting two of the most exciting players in recent college basketball history, Ohio State center Greg Oden and Texas forward Kevin Durant, was getting skewed -- some might say screwed -- because the balls came up crazy in the NBA hopper.

no one would say the draft class itself got "screwed". nice try for the play on words there, though.

This is what we and the league were left with:

get ready for a steady stream of contradictions and pure confusion as steve breaks down the outlook for most of the teams who were involved with the lottery. as a side note, i love the word choice here- he makes it sound like every NBA fan out there is picking up the pieces of their love for the game after this monumental tragedy of a lottery. relax, steve.

-- Portland, which cleaned up in last year's draft (Rookie of the Year Brandon Roy, No. 2 man LaMarcus Aldridge and budding point guard star Sergio Rodriguez), now figures to add Oden, the best center prospect since Shaquille O'Neal and Alonzo Mourning entered the league together in 1992. Assuming Aldridge can log most of his minutes at power forward, the Blazers are in position now to trade 20-10 man Zach Randolph, a headache too reminiscent of their "Jail Blazers" days, for even more young assets.

no problems here- the blazers are in great shape. however, i think its important to note that roy was taken with the 6th overall pick and rodriguez with the 27th. the blazers were lucky to have acquired 2 lottery selections but its not like theyre going to end up with the no. 1 pick in back to back years like the magic. rodriguez, notably, is a guy who has greatly exceeded expectations. or maybe the blazers' scouts knew something everyone else didn't. either way, no one should be mad about them having rodriguez in addition to these other guys. basically every team in the league passed on a chance to get him.

-- Seattle, stuck in its quest for a new arena, is in position to grab Durant, a multi-dimensional player capable of creating a buzz unlike anything the Sonics have had since the days of Gary Payton, Shawn Kemp and coach George Karl. Trouble is, it's not as much buzz as Oden would have brought and the Sonics still might end up being Bekins-ed down to Oklahoma City by their out-of-town ownership. Even if the franchise stays in Seattle, it will watch Oden's development play out three hours to the south via I-5, for its nearest rival in the Northwest Division.

so... confusing. a minute ago, the sonics were a bunch of lucky bastards who screwed poor little memphis/boston/milwaukee out of their birthright. now, even though they jumped to pick number 2 when they were supposed to have number 5, THEY are somehow the ones who got screwed? make up your mind, idiot. are the sonics lucky or aren't they?

-- Atlanta winds up retaining its pick, thanks to top-three protection. Had the Hawks stayed at No. 4 or slipped back, their pick would have gone to the Phoenix Suns, allowing coach Mike D'Antoni, Steve Nash and crew to add a valuable piece off the bench that maybe could have pushed the league's most exciting and entertaining team all the way to the Finals for once. Instead, Brandan Wright or Al Horford or another top prospect will join a bunch of other top prospects -- the Hawks will have picked third, fifth, second and sixth in consecutive drafts, working backward from this one -- playing aimlessly in front of empty seats at Philips Arena.

same idea, roughly. a few paragraphs ago the hawks were the beneficiaries of everything thats wrong with the lottery. now we hear that the teams plays aimlessly in front of a sparse crowd. hmmm, sounds like just the kind of team that needs more talent. at this point steve has probably forgotten what he was angry about.

-- Memphis, after posting the NBA's worst record (22-60) with a minimum of alleged "tanking," gets penalized again. The Grizzlies had the deck temporarily stacked against them by the NBA Board of Governors upon entering as an expansion club in Vancouver in 1995, barred with Toronto from earning a top pick on merit. Now the Grizzlies, who also play before a disturbing number of empty seats at the FedExForum, miss out again thanks to a bad system.

a very fair blurb. its true, they got screwed, and didnt seem to tank much. too bad. these things happen. its about to get ugly, though.

-- Plenty of fans who root for other NBA teams are reveling in Boston's pain today. The Celtics tanked games as conspicuously as anyone in the season's final month, and the team's heavy media coverage flushed out the lottery angle as far back as, what, November? Worse, Boston fans felt they deserved some lottery luck, 10 years after the Tim Duncan debacle drove coach Rick Pitino back to college and left the Celtics' fate in the hands of an Antoine Walker for so long.

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand... i think i just pulled some tissue in my brain trying to figure out why its bad that they got screwed. wait! aschburner is about to make a horrible attempt at explaining himself!

But you know what? The NBA is a stronger league if the Celtics -- its most storied franchise -- are a legitimate contender with a true marquee player. Boston is important as an NBA anchor market, on par with New York and Los Angeles and ahead of Philadelphia and Chicago. Its tradition, the passion of its fans and its media and its role in a better East-West competitive balance make it vital to the other 29 clubs, in ways that a strong Golden State or Orlando or Milwaukee club never would be.

so the celtics should have gotten a better pick, because theyre a storied franchise and its good for the league. ok. worst fucking argument ive ever heard. moving on.

-- Speaking of Milwaukee, the sympathy factor starts to slip with the Bucks' fall to sixth. This team was lucky enough to land the No. 1 pick (Andrew Bogut) just two years ago and has the No. 7 guy from that draft (Charlie Villanueva) on board as well. The Bucks shut down Villanueva and Bogut early, and Michael Redd missed 29 games and played only twice after March 30.

ok, so the bucks probably tanked too. and they have a lot of young talent on their roster. and they dont deserve a high pick because they're not "important as an NBA anchor market" like boston. (seriously, i cannot get over that. that is the stupidest shit i have ever read on a major sports website.) so why are we supposed to feel sorry for them? steve never really tells us, even though his thesis so far has basically been "the lottery is flawed because teams with bad records arent getting the high picks they deserve." remember that subheadline? how much nonsense that make at this point? he just kind of sounds like a bitter celtics fan, but his bio at the bottom of the column says he was a timberwolves writer for several years. so your guess as to why this column blows is as good as mine.

-- Minnesota? Eleven trips to the lottery, 11 failed attempts to move up. Whatever warm and fuzzies Kevin Garnett might engender from serious basketball aficionados get balanced away by the front office's mistakes, most of them related to the draft (losing three first-round picks over Joe Smith's illegal contracts, picking players such as Ndudi Ebi and William Avery, and outsmarting themselves with the Brandon Roy-Randy Foye swap last June). The Timberwolves, too, were guilty for the second consecutive year of backpedaling their way down the standings, not so much to improve their draft position but to avoid paying off the Clippers -- for the 2005 Marko Jaric/Sam Cassell deal -- with a pick worse than No. 10.

so we should feel bad that they didnt move up (first sentence). except that we shouldnt, because theyve made lots of dumb moves and probably tanked this year (rest of paragraph).

-- Of the remaining lottery teams, Chicago -- in possession of New York's pick, courtesy of the Eddy Curry trade -- was the only one whose climb into the top three might have made one team while breaking another, simultaneously. Knicks fans will have an easier time getting over the loss of the ninth-best prospect. Unless, say, he becomes a No. 9 the way Amare Stoudemire, Shawn Marion and Tracy McGrady were No. 9s.

irrelevant to what you claimed you were going to write about.

-- It would have been nice to see Oden wind up close to home in Indiana, had the Pacers beaten the odds for the No. 1 pick. It would have been nice to see Philadelphia, which survived the Allen Iverson and Chris Webber trades nicely and actually played hard down the stretch, get rewarded with some lottery luck. It would have been nice if New Orleans, as it tries to revive its franchise in the Big Easy, had been blessed with one of the top two picks.

it would be nice if good things always happened to good people, war and hunger were ended forever, and if i didnt have to write for this blog because sportswriters like you got their heads out of their asses.

Then again, six winning Powerball numbers, on a ticket somewhere in my house where I actually could find it, would be really, really nice, and that's not happening, either.

that too. actually, that would help both of us, because if you won powerball youd probably quit this job. everybody wins!

Which leaves us with the draft lottery itself. NBA commissioner David Stern, who hasn't had a very good May so far, told reporters before the event Tuesday that he doesn't like the way the system gets played by teams trying to improve their odds of winning by losing.

much as i often dislike stern, he makes a great point. maybe the painful lessons learned by boston and milwaukee will resonate with some teams in the future, and those teams will actually play their best players all season long and not screw over their fans for a slightly better shot at a better player in the draft.

In a sense, the improbable result from Tuesday ought to argue pretty loudly against such tanking. That Portland, Seattle and Atlanta would line up for the top three picks had less than a one-10th of one percent chance of happening. Combined, there was a 60 percent chance that Memphis, Boston or Milwaukee would land the No. 1 pick. And still teams maneuver, too often taking money out of fans' pockets with their lack of serious competition.

"It's a system that favors teams to not win games," Philadelphia president Billy King told reporters. "Anytime you have a system like that, it's not good for the league."

ok, good, weve established that aschburner is anti-tanking. why were then supposed to feel sorry for milwaukee and boston continues to go unexplained.

The way to end the tanking would be to give every lottery team one Ping-Pong ball, no weighting involved. Then the only temptation to lose might come from a club faced with a shot at a franchise-altering draft pick vs. a rough first-round playoff series against a No. 1 seed. And Golden State's work against Dallas this year might have enough shelf life to stifle that.

thus giving teams with bad records even LESS of a chance of winning the lottery! thatll solve all our problems! the NBA actually tried this, or a variation of it, from 1985-1989. it was not popular for obvious reasons. but as were about to see, aschburner doesnt recommend this system.

Unfortunately, we'd get more of what happened Tuesday: The most deserving teams missing out on the help they desperately need. That's what a draft is supposed to provide anyway.

fair enough, i agree.

So what Stern and his lieutenants in the NBA need to do is reinstate the old East-West coin flip between the conference bottom-dwellers, let teams draft in inverse order of record after that -- and properly police the final month of regular-season games, to make sure penalties are stiff for those tempted to tank.

at least aschburner seems to have realized the problem with his line of thinking (about 20 paragraphs too late)- you cant be both anti-tanking and anti-lottery. the latter was created to prevent the former. in a twisted way they are opposites of each other. look at the NFL's non-lottery system. if you like it, then you have to admit, youre leaving room for tanking. if you hate it, then youd have to agree that one of the easiest ways to fix it is to enstate a lottery. steve tries to get around this by talking about "imposing penalties" on those who would tank under his proposed non-lottery system. lets hear him out before i rip him to shreds.

If the league can throw the book at the likes of Amare Stoudemire and Boris Diaw, according to the letter of the law, it can flex a lot more when the Celtics sit starters, when Kevin Garnett checks out five games from the finish line or when Milwaukee lines up more suits than warmups on its bench.

no, it cannot. it abso-goddamn-lutely cannot. how is the league supposed to tell team to play their injured players? in many cases of "injured/inactive" star players on teams fading down the stretch over the course of the past however many years, i would guess that its very possible they could have been on the floor if their teams really needed them there. but there is a bottom line here: the team says theyre injured. how the hell is the league going to fight you on this if youre the GM/head of operations/coach for one of these teams? put a quota on minutes your stars have to play every night? fine you? bring in league approved doctors to examine players and overrule the diagnosis of your team physician? slap you on the wrist? im pretty much flabbergasted. what the hell is he talking about? i give steve a "D-" on this column, only for his acknowledgment that getting rid of the lottery heavily adds to the incentive to tank. then i'll lower it to an "F" for his completely moronic attempt to explain how the league could remove this incentive. dear lord. what is this profession coming to.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Quiz Time!

On my long way back from chris w's place to ol' Cincinnati today, I was listening to 700 WLW Reds radio's daily sports trivia game, and there was a great question posed by a listener about the 500-out club: seasons in which a player managed to get themselves out 500 times.

It's an interesting concept, I think - trying to find a player who made a ton of outs (bad) and yet managed to do it five times.

I was most amused because sports radio is usually a sea of garbage: jackasses ranting with uninformed opinions, and useless interviews with players and managers that are probably taped before the beginning of the year. Yet, in true blogosphere fashion, this interesting baseball tidbit gets on the air not because of good research and thought by a radio journalist, but rather because of the good research and thought by an anonymous baseball fan.

As for the question: write your guess in the comments section of this post, and the first to answer it correctly gets a buck from me, via PayPal. Also: no googling, and you only get one guess. Good luck, and here goes

Which player leads all major leaguers in seasons in which they made 500 outs with five?

ive been watching jonah keri very closely

ever since this terrible little piece about tim wakefield's amazing start to his season. and ill be honest, it appears keri isnt really a total moron. most of his "keri the ten" points are reasonably insightful. but not all of them. i was particularly bothered by a section in yesterday's column (scroll to point #2). in this little gem of a rundown, keri begins by promising analysis on a specfic topic; then goes on to deliver absolutely no analysis on that topic whatsoever. this is like going into a bar that claims to sell 7 different kinds of beer, then finding out they only serve water.

"2. Seven teams hit the beach too early"

How else can you explain seven road sweeps among the 15 series played over Memorial Day weekend?

im going to theorize they were at the ballpark, not the beach, but just didnt play as well as their opponents.

Let's take a quick look at those seven results, and the lessons learned from each one:

sounds great. i cant wait to learn these valuable "lessons."

Rockies sweep Giants
Prognosis: The Giants need more hitting. Ray Durham's abdomen injury weakens what's already one of baseball's worst offenses. The Giants own the eighth-best team ERA in the majors. But they also rank 24th in team OBP, their offense polluted by too many Pedro Feliz look-alikes.

this is not bad analysis, just incomplete. (don't worry, stick with me here, its going to get a lot dumber before were through. this might be the best of his 7 rundowns which is saying something.) the giants are in the bottom 10 in almost every team hitting stat, true. they only scored 8 runs in the series. and feliz, dave roberts, rich aurilia, and omar vizquel are a lot of the reason for their run scoring struggles.

but right or wrong, the team came into the season knowing barry bonds was going to have to provide much of the team's firepower. he's slugging .410 in may with 5 extra base hits, compared to .814 and 11 XBH in april. he's where their ability to score lots of runs starts and he hasnt been getting it done. he did hit a HR on sunday but was 0-for in the series until then. if he gets healthy, and randy winn, ryan klesko, and bengie molina can continue to hit as above average as they have so far, theyll return to the middle of the pack in those categories and win more games. on the other hand, if barry continues to stink up the joint, improvements out of those other 4 guys (none of whom are hitting THAT far below what should be expected of them except for aurilia and maybe vizquel, both of whom are old) will not help the team all that much. i hate to oversimplfy the analysis like that. but based on what you could have reasonably expected out of their lineup at the beginning of the season, the giants' offense more or less tends to go as barry goes.

The Rockies are a couple of years and one well-placed Todd Helton trade away from being really scary.

i am a huge rockies fan and very optimistic about their chances most of the time. keri's choice of language here, however, is hyperbolic. in reality they are both of those things, plus some other key trades/resignings, plus some strong development out of sketchy prospects, from being what i would consider "really scary". maybe to keri "really scary" means "capable of winning 85 games", which it should not. also, how did you discern this, jonah? anything about the games the rockies won this weekend? i guess not.

Indians sweep Tigers
Prognosis: I've been on the Tribe bandwagon all year.

you and basically every other baseball writer out there. hey, i've been on the "american idol" bandwagon for years now. (not really.)

C.C. Sabathia has gone from darkhorse Cy Young candidate to one of the front-runners. They've got the second-best record in the AL, and that's with Travis Hafner slumping through most of May (.189 average). The Tigers are still in fine shape; Magglio Ordonez (.357 AVG/.429 OBP/.686 SLG) has been the most valuable player in the game.

see, this is what im complaining about. what "lessons" did we learn from this sweep again? both these teams are good. ok... i could have learned that from looking at the standings. how about something about the tigers' miserable bullpen? cleveland's timely hitting from guys off the bench? no, nothing? ok, great.

Red Sox sweep Rangers
Prognosis: The loaded Sox didn't miss a beat without Josh Beckett, and he's due back tonight. More on the Rangers later.

so we learned the red sox can continue to win games even with a guy who plays every 5th day out, and that you want us to keep reading your column. not much of a "lesson" in either case. to be fair, the later part about the rangers he references is pretty legitimate. he basically recommends a fire sale, which the rangers already 13 games back and in that division, isnt a totally horrible idea. but still... nothing related to this particular series at all. i know the exact same amount about both teams and the series they played as i did last friday morning.

Phillies over Braves
Prognosis: The Phils are back over .500 and seem to be the wild-card contender they appeared to be on paper.

great. so what did we actually learn from this series?

The theory that most half-decent pitchers can be effective closers will get a severe test with Antonio Alfonseca thrust into the role by Charlie Manuel.

alfonseca's stats in the series: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 1 save. i mean, this doesnt really either help or hurt the case that he should be a closer. its just one game. again, my point being- what did we learn?

The Braves are still for real, but they need help at the back of the rotation. Then again, who doesn't?

so we learned the braves are not suddenly a bad team because of 3 bad games. also, in terms of a commodity that is hard to come by, they are in basically the same situation as most other teams. great, thanks for clearing that up. might as well have written "the braves will not be relocating to montreal anytime soon."

Angels sweep Yankees
Prognosis: If Ervin Santana could pitch only home games, the Angels' pitching would be nearly unbeatable.

santana did not pitch in this series. im not sure this fact makes keri sound dumber than if santana had, and had won a game (thus contradicting the point), but its damn close. anyways, as it was, on the weekend the rest of the staff WAS unbeatable. keri has nothing to offer about that, though. just a little side point about a guy who didnt appear in any of the 3 games.

I still think the Yankees will rebound. But if they don't turn things around, would they consider dealing some vets for younger talent? Could you imagine the low-budget Twins or A's dealing prospects for Giambi, Abreu ... or even Clemens?

again, absolutely no analysis of the weekend's games. but putting that aside for a minute, i dont even need to explain how dumb this sounds. there is a reason those guys he named are not on those teams he named- they make too much goddamn money. the only way those trades would happen is if the yankees picked nearly all of the salaries of the expensive players. i dont know what the odds are of that happening, but i would guess its pretty low. also, i hope clemens sucks bad enough when he finally makes it back that no one would want him anyways.

Mariners over Royals
Prognosis: Gil Meche might be turning back into a pumpkin; at least Alex Gordon and Ryan Shealy are showing some signs of life.

meche- fair enough, he stunk up the joint on friday night. 7 ER in 4.1 IP. but shealy and gordon? a combined 4-21, 2 R, 2 RBI, 3 BB. if that's "signs of life", then take back what you said about the giants and their anemic offense. dummy.

The M's might be the most perplexing team in baseball, with a record that's better than their talent level would seem to suggest.

so you were confused by their sweep of the royals. why did you write this column?

Things could get interesting once Richie Sexson starts hitting, especially if Felix Hernandez returns to King Felix form.

cant really disagree with you there. also, this column could get really interesting if you would just do what you said you were going to do in it.

Mets over Marlins
Prognosis: Carlos Delgado finally started hitting, which might have been the only thing the Mets lacked.

finally, something pertaining to the games that were actually played between may 25th and may 27th, 2007. christ. i would like to amend what i said at the beginning of this post- this column is now like going into a bar that claims to serve 7 different kinds of beer, then finding out they actually serve 1 watered down kind of beer.

Omar Minaya deserves his share of credit, but remember that Jose Reyes, David Wright and others were in the system before Minaya took the job.

omar minaya deserve his share of credit for this three game stretch. as he does for every other three game stretch the mets play as long as a team he partially assembled plays in them. what about any particularly solid performances beside's delgado's? im too lazy to look at the box score, but im sure there were several of them.

The Marlins should entertain offers for Dontrelle Willis; they're not making the playoffs this year, and Willis' perceived value is probably higher than his actual value at this point.

parallels the ervin santana comment from the NYY/ANA recap. willis did not fucking play in any of the three games. i suppose keri could be trying to say, "well, based on the fact that they got swept at home, theyre not a very good team and thus they should deal one of their most valuable players for some guys that will help them in the future." but he should have just SAID it like that. also, willis is not eligible for free agency (and a contract the marlins probably wouldnt pay) until after the 2009 offseason. i dont think trading him until at least this time next year would be a good idea. but hey, dont listen to me. i dont write an uncleverly titled weekly rundown column for

If I Appreciate One Thing About Jay.....'s that he writes a bad column every day, rather than someone like Celizic who does so just every so often, or Joe Morgan who does one dismal question and answer session per week. It's not only the quality but QUANTITY of Jay's writing that makes him a fun target, and remember kids, if you want to be like Jay, the theme is.....?

Jay's Golden Rule: Work harder on finding (sometimes) clever ways to disparage people, and hide behind that so that you'll never have to actually do some research to de-ignorantify yourself.

As much as I would prefer not to defend the Cubs, Jay begs me to defend anyone who he ignorantly slams

So now, Lou Piniella is just turning silly. We've seen his tired-old-grandpa phase, his straitjacket phase, his teacher-at-work phase, his tear-into-writers phase and his ''let's-talk-about-bikinis-and-surfers-in-La-Jolla'' phase. Tuesday, apparently running out of ways to reinvent himself for an increasingly agitated Cubdom, he chose to defend the cheap concept that being 22-28 in a sickly division is a good thing.

Do I sense someone twisting words about here? I'm pretty sure that not even 'let's-talk-about-bikinis-and-surfers-in-La-Jolla' Lou could be happy about that. Ah well, I'm a glutton for punishment, so I'll keep checking out how badly your "you said whatever I wanted you to say" spin was applied here.

That's what the man said, despite having watched the Cubs play a brand of ball best characterized as dumb and erratic even by their rock-headed standards. He is asking for your patience, oh great sufferers and masochists, and upon hearing his plea before a 9-4 loss to the Florida Marlins, I promptly adjusted the over-under date on my Lou Flees Wrigleyville Meter.

The new wager: He doesn't last past Labor Day.

Sir, by the 4-year longevity of Dusty Baker's managership, I'll take the "over" end of the wager. If you win, I'll listen to a 3 hour lecture from you on Chicago sports, and I'll have to pass it on to 20 people within 72 hours, lest I endure bad luck and broken relationships for all eternity. Oh, and I have to mow your lawn every weekend from May through September for the next 10 years while you dump sticky hot cider on me at your leisure. If I win...hmmm...what would be equally bad for about a public statement that Ozzie Guillen made one good managerial decision?

''Nobody should throw in the towel here. No, no, no, no,'' he said in a rambling speech that sounded part Jimmy Swaggart, part George W. Bush and part Howard (''I'm mad as hell ...'') Beale. ''The players aren't. The manager and coaches aren't. This organization isn't. We've just got to keep playing and get this damn thing turned around. Nobody's going to feel sorry for us. All these other teams don't give a damn if we're struggling. But we've got to turn this around, and we've got to keep working at it. And we will.

''The word 'patience' is a beautiful word. You know? You need a lot of patience. The problem is that in this business here [at Wrigley Field], patience is every night, you see? And for the fans especially, they get really involved in this. And they come out and support us in great numbers. There's so much excitement in this ballpark, and they want to see the home team win. I can't blame them. But at the same time, we've only played about roughly a third of our schedule. And we're five games out of first.''

''Forget our record,'' Piniella barked. ''We're five games out of first place. The Cardinals last year won 83 ballgames and won the world championship. So, look, let's not put this thing out of perspective. Are we happy with the way we've played? I don't think so. But look, this is not gloom and doom. This can get better, and it should get better.''

There. For those of you that didn't take time to read this, Lou said very reasonable things. Nothing crazy. Particularly note this.

Are we happy with the way we've played? I don't think so. But look, this is not gloom and doom. This can get better, and it should get better.

So out of this, Jay Mariotti got that Piniella was claiming that being 22-28 in a sickly division was good? This, Jay, is an overdose of your anti-Chicago spin.

Let's see how Jay reacts....

Why would I think that, Lou, knowing all about a wretched bullpen and shoddy baserunning? Don't sell us a pile of garbage. You were honest in the TV booth, and we expect the same honesty in the dugout.

Now just hold on one gosh darn minute Jay. Lou's right! And whether he was thinking of these statistics to prove it or not, you are wrong. Look at the Pythagenport expected won-loss record of the Cubs (X W-L) column. It's 27-23! Their record is 22-28! Their Pythagenport is the best in their division!

For the unfamiliar, the Pythagenport W/L record projection is usually correct to within 2-3 wins by the end of the season, and it is based solely on the number of runs a team has scored and allowed. It is very accurate, and a team with one significantly better than their actual record is in this situation for 1 of 2 reasons

1) They have been getting unlucky (most common).
2) Close games have been poorly managed.

My case is for #1. But here's a golden opportunity for Jay to show evidence for Lou mismanaging the club, and to cite examples, but he never does! All he does is call him crazy and bash his postgame speeches. Is this analysis? No. No it is not.

If the Cubs were in any of the American League divisions or the National League East, they'd already be out of it.

They're not. And Lou was taking this into consideration when he was talking, so you have no point.

Look, when you've spent $300 million and haven't won since dinosaurs drank at Bernie's, you shouldn't get your jollies rooting for Milwaukee -- a small market obsessed with sausages and beer -- to keep losing. The Brewers, by the way, now lead by six games.

I'm sorry Jay, do you remember when you quoted a certain something a few paragraphs ago? I'll copy it again in case you forgot.

We've just got to keep playing and get this damn thing turned around. Nobody's going to feel sorry for us. All these other teams don't give a damn if we're struggling. But we've got to turn this around, and we've got to keep working at it. And we will.

See? Lou doesn't give a shit about the Brewers. He's internally focused, as he should be.

They aren't chanting ''Looooooooou'' at Wrigley.

They're bringing out the big, old ''Boooooooooooo.''

Piniella keeps the faith anyway. Blind faith. ''What we need is to get a little bit of a streak, get ourselves up around .500, and we go from there,'' he said. ''The players are trying like hell to get the job done. And there is a lot of baseball to be played. No one's throwing in the towel. Nobody's looking to next year. We feel we're gonna turn this thing around.''

Uh, which year are we talking?

This year, Jay. They are talking about this year. A team with the best Pythagenport in their divison is talking about winning the division. A team with the highest positive run differential in the division is talking about not throwing in the towel.

It really has little to do with players being off their projections. There's about as much underperforming (Zambrano 5.24 ERA, Soriano 4 HR, Murton .375 SLG, Howry 5.11 ERA) as overperforming(Marquis 2.93 ERA, Lilly 3.20 ERA, Guzman 2.96 ERA). The fact of the matter is that the Cubs have not been lucky in terms of when they've scored their runs. Any team at this point in the season that has scored 20 more runs than they've allowed while posessing a losing record can expect a turnaround, and therefore, so can Piniella. Remember this article, Jay, when you said the Cubs would finish 87-75? That's exactly what Pythagenport would suggest they're on pace to do. Quit constantly flip-flopping and blowing everything out of proportion. Seriously.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

a quick quiz: can you identify bad sportswriting?

im not even going to do any commentary on this article. im just going to link it. you read it, then check back here to take a very important test. i know this seems weird. just go along with it, because it will help you determine whether or not checking this blog more in the future is worth your time. here's the article:

ok, youre done reading? good. now answer these 2 questions. (no peeking at the answers printed below!)

1. on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the highest and meaning "totally awesome", how good is this article?
2. what was your first reaction to the article once you were done reading it?
a. that is absolutely terrible, why would an editor approve that?
b. are you sure this isnt from "the onion" or "sports pickle" or something?
c. this writer should be fired, and possibly legally restrained from being within 1000 feet of a media outlet's offices lest she somehow get another writing job and repeat this performance
d. i dont know, it wasnt that horrible... i mean, it didnt completely offend my intelligence

answers (i wish i knew how to make this appear upside down, that would be fun):

1: if you are not a yankee fan, the only acceptable answer is 1. if you are a yankee fan, ill let you get away with answering 2 because its been a frustrating season and you can relate to the author's sentiment. but no higher.
2: a, b, or c, preferably c.

if you did not answer both questions correctly, please close the browser window and never come back to this site. im not calling you dumb or anything, but clearly our perceptions of "good" and "bad" sportswriting are so diametrically opposed that theres no point in you reading what we write here.

i love jokes and hate horse racing

its tuesday, and feels like monday because the week just started. so i thought id share an article i really enjoyed before spending the rest of the week tearing apart ones i hate.

The Debriefing: If Vick's a Jerk, So Are Preakness Organizers

by "mjh"

goddamn bloggers. always using bizarre indecipherable pseudonyms.

if were going to make 1,000 michael vick-related posts, this might as well be one of them. aol fanhouse, which i usually find to be extremely "blah" (as in, nothing i really like... nothing i really hate, either) has published a doozy of a piece comparing dogfighting to horse racing. now, before i post some sections of the article, ill put it all out there up front: i HATE horse racing. not dislike; i dislike the designated hitter rule. not "am bothered by"; i am bothered by the usc trojan football team. no... in the world of sports, there is nothing i HATE quite like horse racing.

how ridiculous is it? lets just start the complaining with the obvious fact that its a bunch of animals. if horse racing is really a "sport" lets get a panel of judges down to sea world, have them assign scores to the routines being done by dolphins and killer whales, and televise it. i know id watch that before i watched the kentucky derby. furthermore i cant stand the super-rich-or-super-drunk-white-people-only culture, the completely uninspiring storylines, or the fact that most people who call themselves horse racing "fans" really only care about 3 goddamn races. when that one horse war emblem just barely missed winning the triple crown 4 or 5 years ago, and they showed the millionaire owners and their families crying in the stands immediately after the race, i wanted to reach through the tv and slap the shit out of those people. are you kidding me? on top of all these other complaints, as this author points out, horse racing is also pretty cruel to the horses. im not sure if it should be equated to dogfighting. thats probably a stretch considering the whole point of dogfighting is for the animals to maul each other, while horse races in and of themselves are usually not violent. and its silly for him to put "the preakness" in the title of the article, rather than "nearly all major horse races." but still... fuck horse racing. without further ado, heres some of the better one liners and points this guy makes:

I'd also recommend taking one particularly charismatic pitbull, grooming it as a noble and magnificent champion (name it something like "Marmaro," maybe), and then have it brutally mauled to death during a nationally-televised pit fight. You'd be surprised at how much people love that stuff.

this as part of a sequence of fecicious suggestions to vick as to how he can pass off dog fighting as a legitimate kind of entertainment. "marmaro" is a sweet name for a barbaro parody of an animal.

later, to clarify his position, this is part of a list of things the guy says he would rather do than defend vick: WNBA season tickets...

buh-zing! coincidentally, ive heard the WNBA made fun of by being referenced as the HBA: horse basketball association.

I just want to know why horse racing is acceptable if dog fighting is evil. Do both take advantage of animals solely for the entertainment of humans? Yes. Are both responsible for the premature deaths of thousands of animals? Yes. Do both cause immeasurable suffering and injuries to the animals involved? Yes. Do human beings profit off of this pain and death? In both cases, yes. What other standards are there?

like i already said, this is definitely oversimplification and not a 100% fair comparison. but still, a valid point at its most basic level. and one that a lot of people fail to appreciate as they get swept up in "triple crown fever" this time of year. speaking of which- how mad must the owners of the belmont stakes be every time the horse that wins the kentucky derby fails to win the preakness? there goes millions in ad revenue, thanks to decreased ratings expectations. mwah mwah. i picture them as a bunch of guys dressed in seersucker suits, angrily punching through their top hats like villains in old silent movies used to do when their plans got foiled.

And when (a horse is) in a truck being shipped to the slaughterhouse, the horse isn't thinking, "Well, I've had a great run, but I feel like since I helped Elroy Ryerson hit that exacta and buy himself an extra bottle of Thunderbird, I can go out on top." He's thinking, "I DON'T WANT TO DIE, GET ME THE HELL OUT OF THIS TRUCK."

gambling just so that you can buy extra thunderbird... a terrifying scenario. maybe you should drop down to colt 45 or old english for a while, until things in your life turn around a little bit.

People see Seabiscuit and have this romanticized notion of how well horses are treated, but very few horses get the Seabiscuit suite. Not every race horse gets the immaculate stable, the company of numerous female horses, and a feast of oats and carrots everyday. Not every horse gets to develop a close, personal relationship with Tobey Maguire.

they damn well should. if he spent all his time befriending horses he wouldnt have any left over to star in crappy movies like a certain giant blockbuster that was recently released.

But most horses aren't in Barbaro's tax bracket. If a horse can't make money, or stops making money, he'll soon be holding together your child's next arts-and-crafts project. You know how much money would've been spent on Barbaro if he finished out of the money in the Kentucky Derby? About enough to buy a bullet and a ride in a dump truck.

couldnt have said it better myself. every kid age 14 or under that sent barbaro a get well card should have to watch a 3 hour tape that consists only of footage of injured race horses being euthanized. every person over the age of 14 who sent it a get well card should be spayed or neutered. if youre going to engage in that kind of activity, especially with all the other stuff going on in the world today, you should not be allowed to reproduce. the planet has enough out of touch and stupid people as it is.

look, its not that im a animal rights activist. i used to date one so believe me, i know how frightening and crazy they can be. you wont see me giving money to PETA (or even liking PETA) or refusing to eat anything but free-range-super-organic-cage-free meats. but the point remains- a large percentage of horse racing fans probably love animals and dont want them to be treated badly, and they have no idea just how shitty life really is for those things. also horse racing is fucking dumb.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Jayson Stark, I Have a Request, Sir

Please, PLEASE stop writing things about how overrated or underrated people are. It's subjective, so it's tough to be wrong, but you manage to do it anyway.

Here, we learn that Craig Biggio is the most underrated 2B ever.

You want a player who was overshadowed by other stars? Heck, he played with Jeff Bagwell, Lance Berkman, Moises Alou, Luis Gonzalez, Richard Hidalgo, and Steve Finley -- all of whom commanded at least as much national hoopla as Biggio did.

Richard Hidalgo is a true star. I bet if we took a poll among casual baseball fans (either now, or in 2000/2003 when he was actually relevant), more people would have heard of Craig Biggio than Richard Hidalgo. Remember the Killer B's? Biggio was very famous for being part of several different trios of B-men. Steve Finley???

And it wasn't the lineup that ever seemed to be the face of the Astros, anyway. It was all those pitchers: Roger Clemens, Roy Oswalt, Andy Pettitte, Randy Johnson, Billy Wagner, Brad Lidge, Mike Hampton, Mike Scott, Darryl Kile.

The only face that Brad Lidge could put on the Astros is a barfing face. He was a sick closer (a guy that pitches a relatively small number of innings) for like two years. Ask Mike Sweeney if that's long enough to become the face of a baseball team.

You want those always-helpful height issues? Biggio mastered them nicely, too. He could have grown an extra inch and made it to 6' even. But he understood, even during puberty, that that one little inch might eliminate him from consideration by important literary volumes like this one.

I acknowledge that you're kidding, but still, why did this get printed?

You want a man who avoided October? Okay, Biggio didn't quite do that. His teams did make the playoffs six times. But this fellow appeared in 2,564 regular-season box scores before he played in his first World Series game in 2005. That was more than any player in the whole World Series era (1903-present). So how poetic was that?

What does this have to do with Craig Biggio being underrated? And to answer your question, RIDICULOUSLY POETIC.

Finally, you want intangibles?

No, they aren't important, thanks.

We'll give you some serious stinkin' intangibles.

Gah, it's not like I thought you'd listen.......

What other seven-time All-Star (Non-Pete Rose Division) was willing to change positions four times (from catcher to second base to center field to left field and then back to second base) during his career, mostly because his team's lineup worked better if he made those moves? Okay, so Carlos Beltran and Willy Taveras had something to do with those final two relocations.

Position changes are very tangible. They are visible things that show up in stat books. Alfonso Soriano and Alex Rodriguez were required to change their positions......why doesn't that give them intangibles?

So what we have here is a player who has spent his career skating along two trails that don't always run parallel. One is leading him to the Hall of Fame. The other dragged him into this very chapter in this very book. So he can head for the window and cash that daily-double ticket any time he's ready.

No. Craig Biggio should not be in the Hall of Fame. Here's what it boils down to. Career .282 EqA. Career -123 FRAA. If you discount his first season in which he played in only 50 games, career 123.3 WARP3, which boils down to about 6.5 per season. Pretty good, but not Hall of Fame quality. A true future Hall of Famer, Frank Thomas, averaged 8.18 WARP3 in his full seasons, including 7 straight seasons 9.8 or higher.

Please don't use any cherry-pickish stats that try to convince me otherwise. When you're an above-average professional baseball player and you play for 20 years, you're inevitably going to be high on a lot of stat lists.

Oh, it's not as if Biggio has played his whole career incognito. The Astros showed up in October enough to assure that your average Baseball Tonight viewer knew his name, and could even spell it. But how many of those folks realized they were watching one of the all-time greats at his primary position (i.e., the position that didn't involve shin guards or mad sprints around the outfield)? Remarkably few.

You're right. Very few realized this. That's because you're making it up.

But that's what Craig Biggio is, you know -- an all-time great. By the time he's finished, the only men in history who accumulated more hits than him while spending most of their careers playing second base will be Eddie Collins (3,315) and Nap Lajoie (3,242). And in case those names don't bring back any vivid memories, it might be because they were both doing some of their best baseball work during World War I.

It's remarkable that Biggio has been serviceable at second base for so long, granted, but if you don't have a shitton of hits after playing for 20 years, that's sad.

And no player in National League history has hit more home runs leading off games than Biggio (who did that for the 50th time in 2006).

What did I tell you about cherry picking? And home runs leading off games are just about the least useful home runs you can hit.

It may be true that he wasn't passing Aaron in the kind of extra-base hit Aaron became most noted for. But for a guy like Biggio, doubles fit right into his underratedness formula. If you're known for hitting home runs, you're always in danger of making somebody's overrated list (even this one).

Overrated list? I thought that was the "being good at baseball" list.

If you want to be underrated, you do stuff like hit 50 doubles in back-to-back seasons. (Biggio is one of only four men to do that since the 1930s.) And roll up 50 doubles and 50 stolen bases in the same season. (Biggio's 50-50 season in 1998 made him the first player to do that since Tris Speaker, who did it in 1912.)

Stolen bases are a one-way ticket to overratedness. Scott Podsednik. Juan Pierre.

I've seen this man play enough to recognize that, at his peak, he may not have been as dominating as Joe Morgan, or as dazzling a worker in the second-base leather shop as Roberto Alomar. But Craig Biggio was still scoring 100 runs at age 38, and still hitting 20 homers at age 40. And he hustled his butt off to first base every time he put a ball in play. That's not something you can say about every guy who hangs around this many years.

The fact that he hit 20 homers at age 40 is impressive. I'll leave that little bit out and rephrase this paragraph.

"He may not have been as good a hitter as an actual Hall of Fame quality 2nd basemen, or as good a fielder as a Hall of Fame quality 2nd basemen, but he's still going to the Hall of Fame. He scored 100 runs at age 38, which shows he was really good at getting knocked in by hitters behind him (his .337 OBP that season is evidence that this was less Biggio's doing than others). Much like almost all players that play professional baseball, Biggio runs hard to first base to try to avoid an out or to get extra bases out of his hits."

Dependability and durability are qualities we sometimes take for granted -- when, in fact, they're the most valuable ingredients to look for in any athlete.

Ooooooohhhhhhhhh, sorry Jayson. The answer we were looking for're never going to believe's "talent".

I don't know what Biggio's actual chances are of becoming a Hall of Famer. In my mind, he's had a very good career, but he shouldn't be in, simply because even if a case was made for him being a truly great player, it would only hold between 1994 and 1998. The rest of his 20-year career is filled with average to above average performances.

im not on the "hockey is dumb and lame" bandwagon

but im certainly on the "some hockey writers are dumb and lame" bandwagon, if such a thing exists. check out some of the inane commentary damien cox offers on this piece:

cox's thesis is that its a bad thing that neither of the two teams playing for the stanley cup this year made any big trade deadline deals. why? because other teams, notably those who did make big deals but didnt manage to advance this far (red wings, sharks, predators, thrashers, islanders, others) will adopt the passive stance of the ducks and senators in the future. and this will make things boring. which i suppose is kind of, sort of an issue for a sport struggling to attract new fans. but still- what??? im not going to do the whole article but just read this pile of crap of logic:

...The most significant development (this year) might turn out to be that the playoffs delivered results that, ultimately, might kill the entire concept of the big trade-deadline deal.

Which is bad. Very bad.

But why, based on the events of the past week, would any team go out next winter and spend draft picks, players and prospects to acquire a big-name player at the March trade deadline based on the events of this season?

The Preds, Ducks and Sens, after all, are providing that such efforts might be nothing but a complete waste of time and resources, more hype than substance.
Did I mention that, if true, this would be bad? Very bad?

i cant decide which angle on this is dumber- either 1) cox is suggesting that its better for teams to be "exciting" and make big deals at the deadline than simply win or 2) hes implying that just because two teams that were already incredibly talented before the deadline made the finals without any big trades, other GMs will now stop making deadline trades because they assume thats how the senators and ducks won their conferences this year. put more simply: 1) as a fan he wants to see teams make risky trades, no matter how good their rosters already are or 2) thanks to this season's results people who run hockey teams will now assume correlation = causation. makes sense. this is like assuming that because (famous actor/rock star) treats women like crap but always has a beautiful one on his arm, i also can get beautiful women by treating them like crap. puh-lease.

also, theres this little juicy piece of WRONG:

The NHL trade deadline is arguably the most dramatic day of the entire season. In contrast to other leagues, whose comparable deadlines come and go with mostly a yawn or perhaps a minor deal or two, the NHL's deadline somehow snaps the league's 30 general managers to attention and gets them to think big, often really big.

the nfl rarely has any trades period except around the draft, so whatever. but the nba has had plenty of big deadline deals in its history. and mlb? are you kidding me? let me just toss out some names dealt at or near the deadline in the last 10 years: randy johnson, carlos beltran, bobby abreu, carlos lee, jermaine dye, aramis ramirez, and so on and so on and so on. i dont have any time to add more or find some notable nba ones. if any of our "readers" want to call me out ill look more. regardless- this is dumb.

From the Department of Lame/Unfunny Stuff


A few bad jokes for your laughing pleasure.

1. Drew Brees (New Orleans Saints): Despite working in a city visited by women who will lift their jerseys without a downpour of U.S. currency, Brees has a relatively clean street record.

According to rumor, he once shushed someone at the Purdue library, but we haven't been able to corroborate the tale.

2. Carson Palmer (Cincinnati Bengals): Palmer has impressed scouts with his ability to just say no to social offers from certain teammates.

To date, a football is the only thing he's passed to Chris Henry
also, their ranking of Tom Brady as more of an off-field risk than Ben Roethlisberger because he "alienated fans by wearing a Yankees hat" confirms that this is the kind of article this site was created for.

I hate stupid shit.

Stretching the Limits of the Word "Possible"

Ooh! Trade ideas. "Possible Trade Ideas for Lance

1. Briggs for McNabb:
2. Briggs for Larry Johnson
3. Briggs for Chris Simms
4. Briggs for Clinton Portis
5. Briggs for Michael Vick

no, no, no, almost certainly not, and no.

What the fuck is going on in the world of sports journalism?

even fox's "b" team baseball announcers suck

yesterday i was watching the indians and tigers on fox. with "the gruesome twosome" (mccarver and buck... see what i did there?) working the cubs/dodgers game, i was treated to a whole new pair of idiots in the booth. in the 4 innings i watched they never introduced themselves. but i wish they had; the color guy should be identified on this site by name for this incredibly stupid comment:

(the situation: the indians have just scored 3 runs in the top of the 7th off the tigers' bullpen to turn a 3-2 deficit into a 5-3 lead. verlander started for the tigers and gave up 2 ER in 6 innings.)

"you know, people are going to blame the tiger bullpen for this one. but the real problem is that justin verlander just threw too many pitches. he had 105 through 6 innings, so he had to come out, and thats just not going to get it done."

dude... if a pitcher goes 6 innings giving up 2 ER and youre not happy about it... i hope you never manage a baseball team. how do you get upset at this? last year there were less than 100 full time starting pitchers in all of baseball that averaged 6.0 innings per start or better. in other words, about 3 per team, meaning youre at very least slightly above average if you do this. the extra angle on verlander is that hes only 24. last year he admitted he was worn down by the time the tigers got to the world series. dumb as jim leyland is, i think keeping verlander in the high 90s/low 100s in pitches is a great idea. if your bullpen sucks, the solution is not to run your young starters out there for 120+ pitches a game. you get a better bullpen. you know who fox should hire to call their mlb games, who would be an improvement over almost everyone they have now? carrot top.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

More from the Hiney Bird

At least that's what Hawk Harrelson likes to call him. However, Mariotti fired back in this new article by calling him Foghorn Leghorn. Kudos to you Jay, I got a good laugh out of that.

Unfortunately, it's the exact same article that you wrote the day before. Remember this one?

I think I've finally figured out the formula for a Jay Mariotti article on the White Sox. It goes something like this.

something something sinking ship something something Blizzard of Oz something something potty-mouth something blame the media? something something embarrasing something no dignity something spewing profanity something something World Series opportunity window closing.

Don't bother writing about how bad Pablo Ozuna is, or how badly Paul Konerko has performed, or why the setup guys on the White Sox have just decided to implode lately (read: don't bother being an analyst). Just go on stirring up problems and controversy that prevent you from ever having to do any real work.

Anyone else besides me think it's funny that on's sports page there is a tab for "Baseball" and a separate tab for "Barry Bonds"?

No? Well I'm easily amused.....

Friday, May 25, 2007

some fun, lighthearted, snippets of dr. z trying to be funny

after my marathon simmons piece yesterday, i would be lying if i said i had a ton of energy to put into an article today. so i did what any sensible person in my position would- headed over to and checked out the latest rambling, nonsensical, unfunny mailbag from resident village idiot dr. z. included here are the best of the best dumb jokes and pieces of non-analysis the poor guy could muster up. hey, if chris w can do this, so can i.

this week, like any football writer worth his mustache, dr. z begins by weighing in on the whole clinton portis-michael vick-dogfighting thing.

The Skins have issued an apology. So has Portis. So has Samuels. Hey, fellas. Hey, Redskins. Take you're apologies and stick 'em.

the typo is [sic]. also, way to go, dr. z. you call those guys out. tell them how it is! i know a lot of "you're" readers were wondering whether or not you support portis and his remarks... glad we cleared that up. dr. z: always on the extremely obvious side of justice and not encouraging dogfighting.

See, the mistake we make is equating athletic excellence with excellence on a human level.

i don't think many people make that "equation" at all. right or wrong, with the way things have been going for the past 5-10 years, i think it's safe to say most people (especially casual fans) assume athletes are bad people until they see something to that indicates otherwise. now this assumption may not necessarily be true... but im pretty confident thats where most people's opinions start from when it comes to this topic. i have no proof of this whatsoever, but honestly... imagine taking a random poll of 100 people. how many do you think would agree with the statement "pro athletes, due to their excellence in athletics, are also excellent people in their personal lives." 10? 5? any? there are too many cincinnatti bengals out there making headlines, and not enough david ecksteins. (david eckstein did recently end poverty, correct? i remember seeing a lot of articles about him a while back and since hes not that good at baseball, i figured he must've ended poverty.) when dr. z says "we" in this sentence, he really means "me and anyone else out there without a firm grasp of the obvious in this case, which is probably just about no one."

moving forward, sort of on the same subject but not really:

Every so often, when a guy lays out an opponent with a blatant cheap shot, I revive my old rant about how, if I were commissioner, I'd institute a form of Old Testament justice, you know, an eye for an eye. Put a man out of a game and you, too, get ejected. If he's out for a week because of the dirty play, then you have to sit out for the same length of time. Out for the season, and so is the perpetrator, and if, heaven forbid, it costs someone a career, well then, see ya around, Jack.

better update your resume, dr. z. i think roger godell might just resign and hand the job over to you when he reads this.

This used to draw some interested mail.

"Surely you can't be serious?"
"I am."
"What are ya, nuts?"
"Yeah, that's me."
"Seriously now..."
"Seriously now, I mean it, seriously now..."

the only way dr. z could have saved this joke would have been to respond to the first question by ripping off "airplane!", saying "i am serious. and dont call me shirley." and then instantly jumping into a new topic that didnt suck. alas, it did not happen.

later, a conversation with the oft-mentioned mrs. z:

"What's MMA?" The Flaming Redhead asks.

"Mixed Martial Arts."

"Who's Marsha Artz?" she asks.

OK, this is serious stuff. Let's cut out the horseplay. Millions are spent to watch this stuff, maybe even billions. Not sure. It combines boxing and jujitsu and judo.

"You said what?" the wife asks. "It combines Judaism? You mean like Ultimate Seders?"

That's absolutely insulting.

"Reminds me of the ones with your family."

OK, I'm going to cut this off right now. It's getting out of hand, and The Redhead is into her Don Rickles shtick again.

i just realized, maybe bill simmons went to the dr. z school of bad journalism in which you are taught to bring up your family as much as possible in your columns. just a thought.

anyways, don rickles would probably blow a gasket if he read that. jeez, how devastating would it be for your ego as a comedian if you woke up one morning, logged onto for a some quick football news, and stumbled onto dr. z referencing your schtick? what a disaster. a potential career killer.

Olufemi of Marysville, Wash.,"a sailor currently deployed in Iraq," wants to know if the Redskins' LaRon Landry-Sean Taylor safety tandem will be among the NFL's top 10 pairs. Well, Olufemi, I know things are tough enough over there, and I don't want to make them any tougher for you, but in all fairness I can't say yes. Taylor, to me, is the classic case of a guy who occasionally messes up his coverage because he's trying so hard to make the big hit. And Landry hasn't played a down yet, so how do we know anything?

so taylor isnt very good because he "occasionally" messes up his coverages (who doesnt?). i know defensive stats can be misleading, but taylor led his team in tackles last year. he was #20 in the whole NFL, and #2 among safeties. hes been a part of 13 turnovers in just 3 years in the league. the guy can definitely play, and i think youd be hard pressed to find more than 10 free safties in the league that are better than him. and then landry- well, i dont know that much about him or how good hes expected to be in 2007 at the NFL level, and apparently dr. z doesnt either, but you know what? i bet we can find out by reading scouting reports and watching film. i know dr. z isnt paid to provide that kind of "hard" analysis. but to just flippantly dismiss the idea of being able to estimate how good a rookie will be is lame. boooooooooooooo, dr. z, booooooooooooo.

Another Skins fans, from up the road in Baltimore ("Baltimore? Up the road from Marysville, Wash.?" The Redhead protests. Honey, you had your nutty moment, now let me have mine), by name of Scott, as in Great and Sir Walter but not The Striding because that was spelled with one t ... OK, old baseball fans, who am I talking about? Answer, Bobby Thomson of the Giants, nicknamed The Striding Scot...

as you can see, stream of consciousness writing is not dr. z's strong point.

later on....

"...we have Randy of Excelsior Springs, Mo., who feels that T.O. is the ultimate me me me guy. "I did the Desert Storm cha cha," he writes, "and I can tell you this: a man like T.O. would not be on my list of guys I'd want in my unit. In the military, divas kill, but they kill the wrong people."

this is kind of weird, and most definitely irrelevant. which is probably why dr. z chose to print it.

meanwhile, in a different and even less funny part of the column:

Tim of Dover, Del., wonders when Eli Manning will receive the official "bust" label. "When do we fans and you media types call him out?" he asks. Now I don't want to be resentful, after you said such nice things about my work, but honestly, I'm not in the business of calling people out.

except when you lead off your column with a scathing indictment of clinton portis for saying some dumb stuff that everyone already knew was dumb.

I try to evaluate what I see on the field, but I know what's bugging you, the idea of high draft "savior" types getting the benefit of the doubt far too long. Manning is a scatter-passer. It's time for him to get his gunsight in place. Another up and down year and...well, a bust? I don't like that about a "burst?"

is... is... is that a joke? im confused. but im also terrified to write dr. and ask for clarification. i picture it going something like this:

"Larry B from our nation's capital (the one with the singing "Steps", not the punishment... or was that fun-i-meant?) wants to know what i meant by saying another up and down year from Eli Manning could cause him to "burst". He's confused as to why i would comedically associate that with the term "bust". Well, Lars, if you want to know about breasts- i mean busts- youll have to ask The Redhead. But if you want to question my humor, why don't you just get on the #6A bus to Sillysville and jump in a lake? I think even Eli would understand that one."

ok, i admit, that wasnt that good. for an actually funny dr. z spoof, look in the archives for a posting chris w did right after the blog started called "let's write a dr. z column" or something. then come back to this article while youre still chuckling and read this last part, because its a doozy:

Ryan of Castro Valley, Calif., reminds me that when I said Sid Gillman never coached a scrambling QB, I was forgetting that he had Steve Young on the L.A. Express of the USFL in 1984. Yeah, but he wasn't the head coach, he was the coordinator. In other words, he didn't sign one and develop one himself. And thank you, Ryan, for your pledge to buy 500 copies of the book when it comes out. Is that right? Wait a minute, make that one copy. I have trouble with numbers.

what? screw this, im done.

Criminal Negligence

More evidence to prove the fact that sportswriters are not more knowledgeable about baseball than the people who are not paid to write about it, which I allege in an earlier post. The longer I write for this esteemed media outlet, the more convinced I am of this.

Larry Dobrow's Bottom 10 Major League Starters

Owing to a particularly treatment-resistant fractured tooth, I have spent much of the past two weeks alternately sobbing in the bathtub and bonked out of my head on painkillers. Unable to do much else, I set up shop on the couch. Armed with a remote control and the Extra Innings package that Major League Baseball so graciously allows me to purchase, I watched a whole lotta games.

So wait, only when you were incapacitated by your poor dental health did you do what was required to get the information necessary to execute your job? I'm glad you watched some baseball, but nobody gives a shit about your dental health. Also, I suppose you are introducing this as an excuse for the egregious factual error you will commit in this article.

The article continues to list bad players, and I don't really care about his selections, since they're all shitty players and arguing about the shittiest player in baseball is like sitting next to your friend in class and arguing about who the ugliest girls in the class are.

But here's my major problem with this article. While talking about DougieDoug Mientkewicz, he drops this irrelevant and criminally ignorant bomb:

Separately, there's lots of talk this week about how the Red Sox shouldn't feel too comfortable with their 10-game AL East lead, since the Yankees surmounted an even more severe deficit back in August/September 1978. I don't know how to respond to this, other than to say that such a comeback has happened exactly once in the 100-plus-year history of big league baseball.

The moment I read that, I was taken back to the halcyon dan-bob's baseball-fan childhood past. I recall reading dozens of references to the famous "Miracle of Coogan's Bluff" where the Giants caught and passed the Dodgers while being down thirteen games. How could this guy have not heard of "The Shot Heard Round the World"? Perhaps he had heard of Thomson's homer, but remained ignorant of why the situation had such drama.

Now that I was certain that this gentleman's knowledge of baseball was poor, I thought this merited investigation. Then, in doing seven seconds' worth of research thanks to my insider tool (, brought me to this page, which identifies at least nine other comebacks which could be considered comparable. Now the Yankees did come back from the second-most games back (14), but the aforementioned Giants did 13 games in three weeks' less time. The point is, this sort of comeback has not happened "exactly once" in baseball's history, but something like "exactly ten" times in baseball's 100 (well, more like 138) years.

My guess is that he conveniently forgot those other comeback teams because they happened to be current teams not named "Boston" or "New York". It's sad to see that the plebe sportswriters have Yankee/Red Sox tunnel vision so bad that they ignore basic baseball history.

Oh Goody! More Steroids Baiting

It's not that I think that Selig's a good commissioner, it's just I'm getting tired of this NFL nut-cupping sports journalists do. The NFL is a fun league to watch, but to act like just because it panders to its audience, that means its success represents anything but marketing is ridiculous. The NFL is a monopoly, a socialist state, and despite every attempt to create a false parity, there's a huge imbalance b/t the AFC and the NFC. Furthermore, the NFL probably accounts for more negative news (arrests, suspensions, and so on) than MLB. And yet, articles like this make ridiculous claims that the NFL is much better run than the MLB using ridiculous reasoning.

Running the National Football League — a business that reaps windfall profits by marketing a spectacularly balletic brand of violence — is rife with opportunities for embarrassment. There is talk of a felonious tendency among the players, gifted young men whose most ferocious instincts have been encouraged and cultivated since puberty. Then, as these players age, they likely face lifetimes of orthopedic or, even worse, neurological ruin.

You mean the recent report that former-NFL players are more likely to face depression than regular everyday people because of their propensity for head injuries? Or the fact that despite a fairly generous pension, NFL players have very little guaranteed money, and in the event of a career ending injury, most players recoup nothing of the unpaid portion of their contract? The article touches briefly on the concussion issue, but applauds Goodell's solution:

So what does Goodell do? Instead of circling the wagons — standard operating procedure in major league baseball — he announces that his league will now protect "whistle blowers," establishing a system that grants anonymity and requires investigation of doctors, coaches or trainers who may have improperly pressured a wounded player to play.

I will agree that MLB has handled poorly its steroid scandal, but is this really the right solution? Applauding "whistle blowers"? Is this really what sports fans want? Maybe I misread sports fans in general, but I find it hard to support a system that allows accusations to be made anonymously. A man, especially in a closely knit team environment, should have the right to face his accuser. What's even more puzzling, though, is the direction this article takes this idea:

Selig, who became the de facto commissioner of baseball back in 1992, would do well to take note. Selig's office is now investigating Jason Giambi, who, in an unlikely moment of conscience, attempted to apologize for using steroids. But now that Giambi has tried to come clean, baseball is trying to dirty him up.

Um...what? Giambi "came clean"? You mean when he said "sorry for doing that stuff"? Or his myriad vague apologies? Giambi is a cheater and a liar and a coward and he's never accepted an iota of responsibility for anything concrete. And you want to make him into some sort of bruised, noble hero? Sorry, not buying it.

On Wednesday, he was questioned by several of the commissioner's high-ranking henchmen. Now, if the occassion warrants, Giambi might have an audience with Selig himself. He must be very careful with his answers, else the Yankees use them to void his $120 million contract. It's worth mentioning again that this is the same contract for which the Yankees agreed (at the request of Giambi's agent) to excise any reference to steroids.

So do you want baseball to be more like the NFL or less? So what you're saying is that Giambi, despite the fact that he used steroids, won't really admit to it, and keeps braying in public like a wounded alleycat, yowling for attention, shouldn't be forced to pay any penalty at all? And you're going to make baseball into a villain for defaulting on his contract for doing something that, if Giambi were black, ornery and had more than 700 HR, would be claimed as the highest crime imaginable to baseball?

If this were the NFL, he would be suspended already and be out money. There wouldn't be any investigation to see if anyone else was at fault. Ask Shawne Merriman about that. But that doesn't even seem to be the point being made here. It's so convoluted I'm having a hard time following. Let's see if it becomes any clearer:

Now, for the benefit of all the twentysomethings and teens reading this, I urge you to understand that the steroid issue did not arrive with the new millennium. I remember way back in '94, writing that Lenny Dykstra should pee in a cup. I don't know if he was juicing or not. I believe there was cause to be suspicious. Steroids were not exactly a state secret.

But for years the acting commissioner chose not to act. Giambi put it best last Friday when he said, "We made a mistake." He was referring primarily to players and owners, though he might have included the media, too. It might have been the beginning of a worthwhile admission. Steroids are an ethical issue, but, like concussions, a proven health risk. What's going to happen to this generation of power hitters? How long before their kidneys and livers come to resemble desiccated prunes?

Um, ok. I would generally agree that baseball bludgeoned the steroids issue. It was pretty obvious (to me at least, that a good number of stars were on steroids). So what does this have to do with Selig's approach now? Or your approach for that matter? Do we need a vast overcorrection or do we need to just approach steroids with a level-head and a wary eye?

But instead of encouraging Giambi to tell his story — as one hopes might now be the case in Roger Goodell's NFL — baseball initiates yet another investigation.

And all of a sudden, in an astoundingly timed coincidence, comes a leak that Giambi tested positive for amphetamines within the past year.

Wait, what? What story? He hasn't confessed to anything but a vague "mistake". And explain to me what the difference between him meeting with Selig for questioning and "telling his story" is? Oh, "telling his story" would have the condition of anonymity. So he wouldn't have to face any consequences for essentially stealing a first ballot HOF guarantee along with millions of diminished-skill clause dollars from Frank Thomas? And then the article takes a turn for the even more bizarre:

It was a good scoop by a real good reporter, T.J. Quinn of the Daily News. The timing, however, is worth noting. Baseball's sudden concern with amphetamines is yet another hypocrisy.

Now baseball wants to talk about speed? Are they serious?

The difference between steroids and amphetamines is that speed was pretty much out in the open. For years, greenies were as readily available in most major league clubhouses as beer and the post-game spread. It was public. Dwight Gooden, in the March 6, 1995 issue of the Sporting News, spoke of an upper the players called "white crosses."

"Just about everyone was using them to get up for games," said Gooden.

He uses the fact that Giambi got outed for amphetamines as an argument for what a poor widdle fallguy Jason G. Is??? I'll admit that the timing on this seems a little more than coincidental--however, revision history aside, Speed has always been considered a huge problem in baseball. This article admits that. Somehow, though, it tries to show that since it's more widespread and has been going on longer, that makes it less poisonous than steroids.

Then, in a mindboggling display of twisted logic HE USES THE FACT THAT DWIGHT FUCKING GOODEN USED SPEED to show that SPEED IS NOT A BIG DEAL.


I just love this. Bonds uses steroids, is the world's worst human being in the history of the world in the eyes of sportswriters. Giambi used steroids. Got busted. Came back 50 pounds lighter without any power.Regained all his power within a year. Gets busted again, this time for speed. The party line on Giambi: "he deserves to be forgiven! He's being unfairly treated."

Just try as I might, I don't quite get it.