Friday, November 30, 2007

No Crappy Sportswriting Here

But if you want some crappy sportswriting in the near future, here's what to root for in the wide world of football this weekend. After each game listed, I'll write the hilarious angle or angles terrible journalists will take should the indicated outcome happen.

Saturday's NCAA Games:

Hawaii over Washington ("They're for real, just like Boise St. last year! Put them in the national title game, they're undefeated!" or "What a bunch of frauds! They haven't beaten anyone! They don't even belong in a bowl! BOOOOOOO!")

Missouri over Oklahoma ("What a great story! These guys are the best! Let me tell you all about them! Who cares if I couldn't name a single guy on the roster a month ago!")

Tennessee over LSU ("More proof that the SEC is the toughest conference in the country!")

LSU over Tennessee ("More proof that the SEC is the toughest conference in the country!")

Boston College over Virginia Tech ("That Matt Ryan is the second sexiest man alive! Have you ever seen this guy! He's almost hotter than Tim Tebow!")

USC over UCLA ("These guys are unstoppable! They would crush both Missouri and West Virginia right now! Put them in the national championship game! It's not like they lost to Stanford at home or anything!")

Army/Navy over Navy/Army ("This is the greatest rivalry in sports! Except when Ohio State plays Michigan and I write the exact same thing about that rivalry! Or Florida State/Florida! Or Texas/Oklahoma! Or Auburn/Alabama! Or Yankees/Red Sox!")

Moving on to Sunday/Monday's NFL Menu:

Tennessee over Houston ("I don't care that Vince Young was 9 for 24 with 120 yards and 4 interceptions! All this guy does is win! What! Tennessee has a good defense! Who cares, they've got Vince Young!")

New England over Baltimore AND New York Jets over Miami ("Let me just be the 1,000th different journalist to point out how crazy it would be if the Patriots went undefeated while at the same time the Dolphins went winless! How strange would that be! Very!")

New York Giants over Chicago ("Eli Manning is making 'the jump' right before our very eyes! He's completely matured and never makes mistakes anymore! He's ready to win some Super Bowls!")

Chicago over New York Giants ("Eli Manning is officially the worst quarterback in the league! It's time for the Giants to cut their losses and trade him to the CFL! His career is over!")

Pittsburgh over Cincinnati ("Maybe Chad Johnson should spend less time trying to do crazy celebrations and more time winning! He's an insult to the game! Even though I used to talk about how funny he was! I guess the court of public opinion just turns around like that sometimes! What are we talking about again!")

New Orleans over Tampa Bay ("The city of New Orleans is whole again! All the problems are fixed! Except for the fact that it's the murder capital of the country! But who cares! Their football team is winning, that means everything is OK! It's like the hurricane never happened!")

Fine, I'll admit I'm about a year late with that last one. I guess I'm out of material. Anyhow, hopefully about half of these happen, giving me my pick of the litter on Sunday night. Enjoy your weekend.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Bill Simmons Somehow Delivers A Very Inoffensive Chat Session; Several Shit-For-Brains Readers With Dumb Questions End Up Stealing The Show

The headline says it all. Actual questions from The Sports Guy's extravaganza of a chat on Wednesday, as answered by me, because Simmons is too nice to tell these people they need to turn off their computers and go back to laughing at Garfield comics and eating paste.

Mike (Philly, PA) : Bill, is McNabb done in Philly after Feeley's game on Sunday and Garcia's play last year?

Larry B: No, asshole. McNabb is potentially done because he's frequently injured, not playing very well this year, and both Philly's fans and management are getting tired of his bullshit. The performance of his replacements has nothing to do with it. Either or both could have bombed while filling in for him and it wouldn't have made him any less potentially done. It's not like Philly fans are saying "McNabb is great, but Feeley almost won last Sunday! Give him a 5 year deal!" They're saying "Screw McNAbb, we need someone new. Anyone."

Chris (Jersey City, NJ): Fair on balanced? What? While it may turn out that Sean Taylor was killed IN HIS HOME because of something that he had previously done wrong, it is a lot bit unfair that every story is referencing his past mistakes. If a regular non-famous person was killed during a break-in (the most obvious scenario) would the stories talk about that time in college when I got into a bar-fight or when I was lied to my boss about being sick so I could go away for a long weekend? No and no. Yet every single news outlet wants to link his being fined for the occassional late hit and his murder. That is not balanced at all.

Larry B: Due to the nature of my employment, I'm able to consume a large amount of sports media from a variety of sources on a daily basis. I can promise you that not one of them is trying to link his late hits while playing a sport and his tragic murder. Somehow you have arrived at this conclusion. When did you manage to do so? Right after you decided that the feds went after Mike Vick because he once flipped off his home crowd and got caught with some weed at an airport?

sammy (Florida): whatever happened to the steroid investigations that were going to happen after the world series and the players that were supposed to be 'outted'?

Larry B: Why are you asking me this? Do you understand how the internet works? This is a live ESPN chat during which about .1% of all questions submitted will actually be answered. There are about 1,000 better ways to figure this out right at your goddamn fingertips. Anything else you need to know? Are you wondering what the temperature is outside? Maybe you're looking for some deals on air travel or hotels? And on another level, anyone who cares about baseball knows the deadline for the Mitchell report is sometime before the end of the year. Although this aspect of your stupidity is much less glaring than the fact that you're asking me about "whatever happened?" to the Mitchell report.

Forest: (Minneapolis): Randomly I am forced to stay at work until 6 tonight which turns out to be the best punishment ever. I started watching the Wire on demand this fall and it has consumed me. It may be responsible for me failing out of school. Everything you have said about it is accurate. You can't hype the show up too much. Who's your favorite character? Its gotta be Lester or Omar, right?

Larry B: The Wire is a sweet show, so forget the question itself. Instead, let's go back to your preface: you've been forced to stay at work all the way until 6 tonight? Unless you're a teacher or a bank teller, you are officially a bitch for acting like that's significant. America does not feel your pain for having to work a whole half hour later than most people do.

John (Toronto, Canada): Whats up with no one realizing that the Patriots worst threat is a healthy Indy team.....I dont get how no one sees that this Indy team is the best they've had in recent years, but still no talk of a Superbowl....what do you think?

Larry B: Maybe you missed it, John. Less than a month ago, in one of the most hyped regular season NFL games in years, New England defeated Indy in Indy. Then, Dwight Freeney got sidelined for the season. Remember those events? Evidently not. Now, this doesn't mean the Colts aren't still a huge threat to the Patriots. But no one's going to be talking about seeing them in the Super Bowl anytime soon, because they lost to New England at home and then lost one of their best defensive players. That's how comparisons between two competing teams work.

Simon (Pueblo, CO): Kobe to Denver for Carmelo, mix in some other guys for cap reasons, tell me why this is bad for either team.

Larry B: Well, Simmons gave the obvious answer by making a joke about Kobe and his misadventures with rape in Colorado. Here's an even more obvious answer: the Nuggets have Allen Iverson. He and Kobe basically play the same position, and both love dribbling the ball around for the first twenty seconds of the shot clock. They would not play well together. At all.

Jesse (Chicago): Bill, I am disappointed that none of my questions have been answered yet. I know you are busy, but I actually did donate to Jimmy V Foundation. I figured a response wasn't too much to ask... I'm out

Larry B: Jesse, do you need me to call the WHAAAAAAMbulance for you? Do you have any idea how many people are sending Bill questions during this chat? He's probably getting like 10 every second. Suck it up and deal with it. Thanks for donating to a worthy cause. (Promotion of the foundation was the purpose of this chat, part of the reason I'm taking it easy on Simmons.) Here's your cookie. Go play in traffic.

Vev (Atlanta, GA): Do you have something against us women sports lovers since you haven't given us much print on answering our questions?

Larry B: I'm all for gender equality, Vev, but exactly how the hell do you know how many women are submitting questions? What if you're the only one, up against like 100,000 men? You're nearly as clueless as Jesse in Chicago.

Ricky, Sherman Oaks: I think it was you who noted that Kobe's teammates are significantly better than what MJ was working with towards the end of his run with the Bulls. What is the single greatest reason that Kobe simply cannot do what MJ did? Same drive, same passion, same vicious thirst to win, and both great offensive and defensive players. What is it?!?

Larry B: This is basically what Simmons said, but I was already thinking it before I read his response so I get to count it here as my own. I'll keep it simple for you, Ricky, because you seem like a simple guy. Kobe. Isn't. Nearly. As. Good. As. Jordan. Was. The. End.

Craig (Baltimore, MD): Will you ever re-release your Boston Sports Guy columns? Like many of your readers I've only seen your ESPN work. I would love to read your early stuff even if it means slitting my wrists from reading more love notes about the Celtics, Red Sox and Patriots. Plus can you hint at all on the new book???

Larry B: Always coming back for more even when they know it's not in their best interest. Tragically, these are Bill Simmons's readers.

We're Getting Lazy

Or is "efficient" the word I'm looking for? You'll see what I mean. We haven't bitched about Ed Hardiman and his blog The Fowl Line (Why did he use the animal spelling? Why does he get paid for being a shitty writer? The world is full of mysteries.) for a while so I decided to stop in and see what kind of crap he was writing about. Turned out his most recent column was one evaluating this year's newly eligible baseball Hall of Fame candidates. It was pretty inoffensive. There were a couple bad jokes, like

Tom Lampkin, banjo-hitting catcher, Fowl Line says: Lampkin? Lampkan’t.


Lee Stevens, a 1st sacker with a .254 career average and 144 potatoes way better than my numbers, rock-solid mediocre. Fowl Line says: Give us a call when the Kintetsu Buffaloes induct you in their HOF, cause Cooperstown isn’t quite ready for you yet.

As well as a pretty flagrant grammatical error, for what it's worth.

HipĆ³lito Pichardo, rhymes with Ricky Ricardo. There is a baseball hell it’s called the KC Royals, seven-years of a ten-year career spent there will not get you HOF numbers. Fowl Line says: When pig’s fly he still won’t get in.

Yes. When pig is fly. Or is that pig, possessing fly? I am basically a 6th grade English teacher.

But let's get to the main point of this post. The one place Ed really actually crossed the line was with his evaluation of one Timothy Raines.

Tim Raines, Rock! Rock! Four guys have stolen 800 bases, Raines, Rickey Henderson, Lou Brock and Ty Cobb. Two are in and the other two will be. Not even a close call. Fowl Line says: Hell yes.

This is where the laziness and/or efficiency of FireJay comes into play. Is Tim Raines really a no-brainer 1st ballot guy for the Hall? Well, let me just refer you to my colleague Dan-Bob, who wrote this amazing piece probably well before any of you nine faithful readers even know we existed. So it's basically new! I think he handles the subject very gracefully.

And just like that, my work here is finished. I really need to half-ass my way through more posts and just link you guys to old stuff we did months ago that no one has seen. That would make my life down here in the basement much easier. There's only so much time in the day to blog in between eating Pop-Tarts, shooting spiders with old Nerf guns, and playing Sega Genesis.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

This Is Why We Prefer Jay Mariotti Didn't Write About Sports

Go ahead. Read this. It's very short, I promise.

I don't want to create a bunch of new labels for this specific post. But here are a few new ones I could easily tag onto it. Each one is applicable to many of Jay Mariotti's columns.

"Chris Duhon is not better than Kirk Hinrich"
"Blowing a small sample size out of proportion"
"hyperbolic crap" -- wait, we actually have that one
"One bad decision does not a player make"
"Player B, usually regarded as worse than Player A, played better than Player A last game. Therefore, Player B should start over Player A"
"Cleanup on aisle common sense!" (sorry, the Miller High Life commercial just came on)
"Marriage....the true cause of sports failures."

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Why Wallace Matthews Should Not Have a Job

This column, and Larry's Dennis Dodd column from earlier today have both lead me to believe that the more stupid, vague jokes per column, the less intelliegent the columnist.

Exhibit A: Wallace Matthews. Wallace is very stupid and doesn't understand baseball. Let's examine his diatribe against the New York Mets. It's full of real "humdingers", as someone from Jon Heyman's time would say. Oh, and not to mention, a healthy dose of WRONGism!

Time again to knock stuffing out of Mets

We'll give him a pass. It was written on Thanskgiving.

It is Turkey Day, which means it is once again time to brine, stuff, baste and roast the Mets.

Having enjoyed more free rides this offseason than a serial turnstile-jumper circa 1977, the Mets made a comeback on Tuesday by trading Guillermo Mota for Johnny Estrada, who is Paul Lo Duca, only worse.

Serial turnstile-jumper circa 1977??? Here's some solid advice, Wallace. Any dumb jokes or references that require most readers to do a Google search to understand are best left out. Apparently there was some sort of power outage in New York that lasted a couple of days in 1977. Big whoop.

If this article was about the minor leagues, he'd be saying, "The Mets' farm system is going through a position player famine worse than the fish market circa 1838!"

This was blockbuster news because previously, during the same time period in which the Yankees had lost to the midges, passed their ownership torch from George to Boy George, fired one guy named Joe, hired another and entered into negotiations with three big-ticket free agents, the only activity in Mets camp was the removal of a bunion from El Duque's foot.

Oh great! Let's criticize the Mets for not being active in the offseason by using the Yankees as a basis of comparison! The Yankees have done a ton of really stupid things this offseason, but that doesn't matter, because Wallace Matthews is crediting them for being active. Oh, if only the Mets gave $45M to an aging reliever, $52.4M to an aging catcher, and needlessly endured negative publicity by shortchanging then replacing a manager who was perfectly fine. Then they'd be on the right track!

At least they think it was a bunion. The guy's so old, it might have been a vestigial toe.

At this point, the fictional comedy club in Wallace's mind explodes with laughter.

So far, this offseason is shaping up as even worse than last year's, when the Mets at least had an excuse. Having failed to make it out of the 2006 NLCS by, arguably, one called strike, GM Omar Minaya believed, with some justification, that all his team needed was a turn of the wrench or two to make the adjustments that would put the Mets in the World Series.

This year, having witnessed the worst collapse in New York baseball history, Minaya knows it's going to take a lot more than that. The problem is, what the Mets need most can't be had on the free-agent market.

Worst collapse in New York baseball history: see 2004 ALCS

Okay, now for the meat of Matthews' point. What is this thing that the Mets need! It's a riddle. The only hint is: it's not on the free agent market. So that rules out servicable starting pitchers and another good outfielder. But....both of these things are actually things the Mets need! What could Wallace mean here?

Heart transplants are not available.

Oh.....HEART transplants! We're in Eckstein territory! I don't think anyone told Wallace that Eckstein is a free agent!

Character can't be bought even for A-Rod type numbers.

Actually it can. 4 years of character can reportedly be bought for $36M. The Mets are apparently interested in this man, and you're still clueless.

As far as we know, not even BALCO has figured out how to bottle killer instinct.

Killer instinct. Because baseball is a sport in which you need killer instinct. Because you're always trying to use physical aggression to outfight somebody for something in baseball. This is what's wrong with the Mets, people!

Worst of all, Estrada looks to be just another part-time player on a roster that is chock full of same. Aside from David Wright at third, Jose Reyes at short and Carlos Beltran in center, the Mets don't have one everyday player who looks capable of playing a full season.

Whew. Ignorant lunchpail-alert Wallace is gone. We're back to ignorant WRONG Wallace.

Is Carlos Delgado really a part-time player? He's failed to log 500 at-bats once since 1996.

Ditto with Luis Castillo since 1999.

Then there are the corner outfielders: Moises Alou, who is a good half-player, or half of a good player, managing to appear in 87 games last season; Endy Chavez, who made it into 71 games, Lastings Milledge, who showed improvement but was lucky to make it through the year with his head still attached to his shoulders, Marlon Anderson, Ben Johnson and Carlos Gomez. Help.

Okay, you did a great job of exaggerating this problem. These 6 guys compete for 2 spots in the starting lineup.

"Team X is having serious problems. They have 5 guys that can catch, but they're never all healthy at the same time!"

As for first base, wouldn't Carlos Delgado look so much better in an American League uniform? At least you'd see him only four times a game.

Carlos Delgado, 2007: +9 FRAA. Carlos Delgado's fielding is not a reason the Mets failed in '07.

Which brings us to the starting pitching. Right now, it's El Duque, a man of indeterminate age, and Pedro Martinez, a man of indeterminate ability, although being in the walk year of his contract can only help. John Maine is dependable, but as for the lone lefty, he's Oliver Perez one start, Oliver Hardy the next. Cover your eyes when Mike Pelfrey and Phil Humber are given the baseball.

Oliver Hardy. What. The. Fuck.

That is a picture of Oliver Hardy. Wallace Matthews just made a joke that sometimes, Oliver Perez pitches like an actor who was born in the 19th century.

Oh yeah, and "cover your eyes" when Phil Humber, one of the best prospects in baseball, is pitching. He threw 7 innings last year. Call it quits on this one, boys!

Happy Thanksgiving, Mets fans. Enjoy your bird today, because a diet of turkey doesn't go down nearly as well in April.

Citizens of New York, fear Wallace's horrific tales of indigestion to come!

Dennis Dodd, You Are An Embarrassment

I hate Ohio State football. So much. I hate their coach, I hate their program, I continue to hate their players if and when they make it to the NFL, and I especially hate their fans. And it's not like I went to Michigan or something. I grew up in Colorado and didn't go to a Big Ten school. In fact, my university only played the Buckeyes once during the four years I spent there. But that experience plus what I've learned about them after researching graduation rates was more than enough to make them one of my most hated teams. Quite frankly, everything about OSU football pisses me off.

And yet, here I am, ready to lambaste Dennis Dodd for writing a column which basically shits all over them. It's going to be weird. Since I'm doing this in spite of my hatred, you know the article in question has to be really, really bad. And it is. Let's count Dennis's absolutely pathetic attempts at comedy.

Spread the word: Mizzou-West Virginia is the game to watch

Missouri is on the front page of the New York Times today.

Ohio State is not on the front page of the New York Times, unless Maurice Clarett was just named a GA.

Buh-zing! Starting off an anti OSU piece with a Clarett joke. Very original. That's uncharted, virgin territory right there. Bad joke #1.

Ohio State is old news. Real old news. Like finding the entire first season of Freaks and Geeks half off, old.

A Freaks and Geeks reference. Awesome. Bad joke #2.

The same goes for both the football team and the sitcom: Who wants to see that again?

And who wants to read about it in a sports column?

That's why Ohio State-West Virginia in the BCS title game does nothing for me. If the center holds, those two teams should not be playing for it all after the haze clears this weekend. That's assuming a lot considering this season, but for some reason or other Mike Freeman finds it a sexy matchup.

This is a reference to Dodd's CBSSportsline colleague Freeman, who somehow managed to write an article about this same topic that might be worse than this one. If I have time, I'll address it tomorrow. Let's just say Freeman has a tiny brain and leave it at that for now.

Sexy? Grab the makeup case, dude, we've got some work to do. What are we going to learn, that the Buckeyes still can't defend the spread? That the site of the championship game matches the description of their schedule?

The Big Easy.

Bad joke #3.

Before you Luckeyes light up the message boards, three syllables for you: Ill-i-nois.

Even Bill Simmons doesn't flagrantly taunt fans of teams he doesn't like as directly as this. This is the opposite of responsible journalism. This is what you post on internet message boards or yell at OSU fans across a parking lot before your team plays them. I'm not trying to be Mr. Uptight Nofun Crabbypants, but something like that simply doesn't belong in an article that gets published on a major sports website.

How many of you were booking New Orleans two weeks ago when the Ohio State University dropped to seventh in the BCS?

That "THE (pause) Ohio State University" thing is really annoying, so I won't count this as a bad joke. It's close though.

No, the best matchup for everyone's health and welfare is Missouri-West Virginia. They are the poster children for what has shaped this season. The two best executioners of the spread option/zone read/shotgun blast, ah, whatever. You know it when you see it.

The spread offense has been the biggest reason this has been the highest-scoring season in history. It can't be stopped. Balls flying in the air. End arounds. Quarterbacks (well, Tim Tebow) running for 22 touchdowns. Tailbacks (Darren McFadden) playing quarterback.

Do you know the three highest-scoring games in history have been played in the past five weeks?

Do you know that the overtime format that allows these high scoring games to happen has been in place less than 10 years? This juicy little tidbit is about as relevant as the fact that Derek Jeter is MLB's all time postseason hits leader. More games/overtime periods equal more chances to get hits/score points. It's not very complicated.

Do you know that the nation's 1-2 teams each average more than 41 points? Do you know that Missouri is the only team in the country to score at least 31 points every time out? Do you know that West Virginia just dropped 66 on Connecticut?

And neither Jim Calhoun nor Bob Huggins were involved?

That's hilarious! Because that number of points is commonly associated with a college basketball game, and those two gentlemen coach the men's basketball teams at those two universities! I get it! So much comedy. I really love it when a contest that takes place in a certain sport ends with a number of scored points that is commonly associated with another sport, and commentators/writers/analysts point out that idiosyncrasy! Examples:

Baseball score: 14-13 Sportswriter: "Looks like the losing team missed the extra point!"
Football score: 9-7 Sportswriter: "They were passing the ball around with sticks that had little nets on the end. It was like a lacrosse game out there!"
Basketball score: 119-114 Sportswriter: "Sounds like both teams brought their cricket bats, and played cricket instead of basketball!"

And so on and so forth. Man, that just cracks me up every time it happens.


College football has morphed into the equivalent of gorging on a pizza with everything -- without the guilt.

I don't even know if that's a joke. It could be... maybe? Just for bringing up the concept of feeling guilty about eating pizza (what is this, a "Cathy" cartoon strip?), I'm counting it. That's four.

Disney should be working on a new theme park right now.

The Chase Daniel Experience?

That's five. Also, are there even any Disney parks titled "The ______ Experience"? Wouldn't this non-joke work better if the punchline were "Chase Daniel World" or the setup were "A progressive rock band should be working on a new album right now"?

If the NCAA decides to make a highlight film of 2007, it should be 15 minutes of Missouri's offense, 15 minutes of West Virginia's offense and 30 minutes of a defensive back with his weeping face buried in his hands.


West Virginia and Missouri conjure visions of pinball machines. The nation's No. 2 rushing offense -- ping! ping! ping! -- vs. the country's No. 5 passing offense.

Seven. Pinball? What year are we in? (No offense to any of our older readers who might have grown up with pinball and still enjoy it.)

You'd need a curfew because the championship game starts at 7 p.m. local time. Five hours later we'd be in the third quarter.

Who would need a curfew? Minors? Everyone? This is incomplete. I'm calling it number eight.

Ohio State? There's no story there. Sen. Jim Tressel (R-Columbus)

Nine. I was hoping for a sweater vest joke.

and his well-rested squad spent 51 days last year getting ready for a game they lost by 27 points. This time they would have sat on their, uh, laurels

What a funny synonym for, uh, asses!

for 15 days before being awarded a trip to New Orleans. That isn't game prep, it's water boarding.

Very topical. Still bad joke number 10, because waiting for a bowl invitation has nothing in common with being in pain/being tortured. If you want to say "Watching Ohio State in the National Championship Game would be like water boarding," well, I'll listen to that. Even though it's still dumb.

The reigning mood would be irony. In a rebuilding year the Bucks somehow got back to the championship game after losing to an unranked team at home.

That is not irony. It would be irony, if, for example, last year Ohio State had been unranked and beaten #1 Michigan in the Big House, knocking them out of the title game. But that's not what happened. In fact, there is nothing ironic about what happened.

Gee, what a heart-warming story. Someone please pass me a Kleenex.

Again with the flagrant taunting. As much as I hate OSU, it's pretty awkward and off-putting.

The game, dear Michael, is reinventing itself in front of our eyes. The Tigers and Mountaineers would take our hands and lead us into the 21st century. I counted four receivers for Missouri on Saturday night that I thought could play in the NFL.

If Dennis Dodd says so, then it must be true. I hope those guys have all hired agents and booked flights to New York for the last weekend in April.

Wideout/return man Jeremy Maclin is the best all-purpose return guy since Reggie Bush.

What the hell is an all-purpose return guy? A guy who returns both punts and kicks? That's like saying a running back who stays in to block on passing downs is an all-purpose backfield guy.

West Virginia's Rich Rodriguez practically invented the spread. He was running it 15 years ago at Glenville State. The Mountaineers have won at least a share of four of the past five Big East titles.

An odd assemblage of simple facts with no punchline. How did this get in here?

You're not looking for the best game, Mike, you're looking for a brand name. Well, shucks, Nebraska isn't available so why not Ohio State?

That's eleven, although it's really more nonsensical than unfunny. Clearly anyone who thinks OSU belongs in the title game is purely interested in "brand names." I mean, it's not like they're one of only four teams in D-I (yes, I'm still calling it D-I, what the hell is this FBS/FCS bullshit?) with less than two losses. I mean, again, I hate them and they've beaten exactly no one so far this year. Still- dumb. Dumb dumb dumb.

As I mentioned, the game is changing around us. Twelve teams in the top five have lost to unranked teams this season.

Ohio State is the only one of the dozen still in realistic championship contention.

That's because they're the only one of the dozen to not lose to anyone else. Of course, they didn't really play anyone else. But facts are facts. USC lost to Oregon. LSU lost to Arkansas. Losing once is generally viewed as better than losing twice, regardless of schedule strength. It's the way things go.

In the interest of full disclosure, yes, I am a Missouri grad. We've all got to be from somewhere.

Ohhhhhhhhhhh! How interesting! No wonder he thinks Missouri has four NFL caliber receivers.

But I'm also a Tiger who picked Kansas last week.


My degree doesn't disqualify me from weighing in on the topic.

No, but your bad sense of humor should disqualify you from writing jokes.

I know Missouri's current entertainment value. It has earned its place at No. 1 if suffering counts for anything. This is a program that once gave up 77 to Oklahoma -- and scored zero. I know that fans waited 14 years between bowl games from 1983 to 1997. I know that we, er, they also had a coach flashing a Super Bowl ring (yes, Missouri had its own Charlie Weis), now he coordinates the defense for New Mexico State. Thanks, Woody Widenhofer.

All irrelevant.

For the sake of keeping everyone awake until Jan. 7, make it the best game. The sexiest game.

Yeah, baby.

"Yeah, baby" indeed. Sex? Yes please! Thanks for giving us a nice round number of terrible jokes by closing out the column with number 12. And this might be the worst of the bunch. Austin Powers... yeah, I remember when that was relevant... like six or seven years ago. Might as well have wrapped things up with a Baja Men reference.

Who let the Dennis Dodd out?


Monday, November 26, 2007

I am a real American, fight for what's right, fight for your life!

It's been a little bit since I hockeyed everything up a bit here, so let's get right to business.

Daryl Reaugh... what a jackass. Usually I just link to a post out of common courtesy, but you really need to take a look at this post. There's a picture in the post. It's Daryl Reaugh with Mike Modano. For starters, Modano is in the Stars' home jersey, which clearly spells out for the home town fans that the team plays in Dallas. But who really posts a picture of them standing next to a player like that?

But wait... there's more. He types, too!

Lovely ceremony last night for #9. He was showered with love, and praise, and admiration -and gifts, lots and lots of gifts. By the end of the night I figured all that was left was for his chat-line buddy President Bush to commission a fourth head at Mt. Rushmore.

(1) Are chat lines still operational? From what I remember, the last ones died out with young coeds singing "Pick up the phone!" at me at 2AM. Now all I see at 2AM are midget brothers flipping houses.
(2) Chat lines were guys talking to girls, right?

Oh, and then the one glaring omission:

(3) Holy shit, he thinks there are three people right now on Mount Rushmore.

This guy is making hundreds of thousands of dollars to make terrible comments about hockey for a national television station. He knows that Mt. is the abbreviation for "Mount." Three. A five year old says that sort of thing and gets on CBS. Perhaps he should get on the singles chat line with Modano and Bush to get his head put up there next to Modano's. But it only gets worse.

And to that end, where would you rank the Stars great American amongst Greatest Americans?

I don't have him higher than Lincoln, or Reagan, or Walt Disney...but I do rank him above Lucille Ball, Dr. Phil and Michael Moore.

I really love the sport of hockey. I moved away to college based on how close the place was to my team and the fact that they accepted me. I would never mistake a great hockey player as some sort of American hero.

Mike Modano has done nothing great for America. And for that matter, what exactly did Walt Disney do that was so great? Honestly, this guy has the mind of a five year old.

Am I the only one who found it strange that the NHL didn’t have a representative at the ceremony?

Yes, you are. He leads the country in scoring. It was a classy move by the organization. There is no need for anybody from the NHL to be there.

Turns out that the classy, and newly minted Hall of Famer, Jim Gregory was going to come but due to the league’s own limits on the length of pregame ceremonies (15 minutes) Stars officials had to say thanks but no thanks. (Apparently these same time limits were not in place during Mark Messier’s 45 minute retirement epic at MSG, but hey, who’s counting, and besides, that was just a cab ride not a flight during Thanksgiving).

Whenever Mike calls it a career I'm sure the Commissioner will find the time and muster the energy to get to Dallas, just as he did for Al MacInnis in St. Louis last week.

Teams can ask the NHL for more time before the game for a ceremony. It happens all the time. But the NHL is overlooking the Stars! They care for the Rangers more because they are in New York City, just like NHL HQ! It's a conspiracy! Burn them!

And a minor note - when Al MacInnis retired in St. Louis on April 9th, 2006, the NHL didn't have a representative. Gary Bettman only showed up for the tribute to Al going into the hall of fame and having a statue commissioned in his honor. Which Daryl Reaugh only knows about because he was sitting in the press box working for Versus, presumably playing on his GeoSafari and learning state capitals.

Jon Heyman Is Trapped Somewhere In The Distant Past's Jon Heyman has been doing a very admirable job covering baseball's "Hot Stove" season over the course of the past couple weeks. He brings in plenty of new information about potential signings and trades every day, which is all very interesting stuff to a baseball fan like me. However, the slang he chooses to utilize makes him sound like he's still living in the mid 80s*.

[Kenny] Rogers is a talented pitcher. But he should stop taking business advice from Gary Sheffield, who's no Warren Buffett or Boras. Maybe Rogers and Sheffield could start their own agency for cheap players and call it "Knuckleheads Incorporated."

Knuckleheads? Really? That's the best synonym for "stupid people" you could come up with? Why not "Nitwits" or "Numbskulls" or "Bozos?" Keep up the good work, Jon. But please stay away from jokes like that on.

*This term may or may not have been popular 25 years ago. I'm too young to know first hand, and I know Mr. T used to say it a lot. So that's my best guess.

Presenting: An Idea So Stupid, It Could Only Be Formulated With The Combined Efforts Of Two Different Easterbrooks

First of all, in case you haven't noticed, I've added a "Blog Popularity Tracking Meter", courtesy of, on the left sidebar. Ballhype is a monitoring site that serves as a pretty effective barometer for what's readable and sucks among about 3,000 sports blogs. I added their ranking display thingy so that all twelve of you (that's right, we've cracked double digits) can numerically follow FireJay's downward spiral into sub-mediocrity. As you can see we're listed in the mid 600s right now. With your help, I'm confident we can drop below the 1,000 mark by the new year! Everyone chip in. Together, we can make this dream come true. Look out, whoever's in 3,000th place. FireJay means business.

In other news, I love picking on Gregg Easterbrook, also known as the TMQ. So what could be better than picking on an idea that he included in last week's column, but actually originated with his brother Neil? "Yeah, it's me... NEIL." (That's an inside joke for Dan-Bob, Chris W, and anyone else who has seen the best movie ever made.) That's right; I'm about to present to you one person's absolutely atrocious idea, but in the words of another person who is notorious for coming up with equally atrocious ideas. It's a double whammy. This whole two-for-one phenomenon is almost as fun as watching Ryan Leaf's younger brother stink up the joint as Dennis Dixon's replacement at QB for Oregon. I get to laugh at the person who's proposing something dumb, but I also get to laugh at the unquestionably dumb person they're related to who's bringing this proposal to light. So much fun.

I've copied and pasted the whole original segment just so we can all be totally sure just what the Easterbrooks are advocating here. It's a little long but stick with it. It'll pay off, I promise.

Pay Them With Educations: On Nov. 11, Michael Lewis argued on the New York Times op-ed page that since football factory colleges are rolling in money, Division I football players ought to be paid: "In 2005, the 121 Division 1-A football teams generated $1.8 billion for their colleges. If the colleges paid out 65 percent of their revenues to the players [the share paid to NFL players], the annual college football payroll would come to $1.17 billion." Distributed across the 121 Division I schools with 85 football scholarships each, that would come to about $114,000 per season per big-college football player.

That big-college football and men's basketball players should be paid is a perennial contention. TMQ thinks the idea is wrong on these scores: First, the players already receive tuition, room and board, which is hardly an inconsequential form of payment; second, paying college players would ruin college sports, thus killing the golden goose and ending the money flow. The real scandal of big-deal college sports is not that the schools are keeping the revenue, it is that they are keeping the revenue without educating the players. With a few sainted exceptions such as Stanford and Boston College, graduation rates for Division I football and men's basketball are atrocious. Colleges recruit players and exploit them to generate money, but don't make them attend class or ensure that they learn. The players use up their eligibility and come to the rude awakening that no professional career awaits -- fewer than 2 percent of Division I football players ever receive an NFL paycheck. At that point, the players understand they need a college education to succeed in life, but by then the scholarship is exhausted and the university has moved on to taking advantage of the next round of suckers.

Thus Lewis' article gives me an opening to repeat the reform proposal made by Official Brother Neil Easterbrook, a professor at TCU -- for every year a Division I football or men's basketball player performs, he receives an additional year of tuition, room and board at the school. That way, when NCAA eligibility expires and the player realizes no NFL or NBA payday will ever happen, he can buckle down, get serious about studying and obtain the college education that will help him advance in life. Neil's rule would ensure that Division I football and men's basketball players are not used up and tossed away by the sports-factory schools; would create a strong incentive for those schools to be serious about teaching their athletes, so they graduate on time and don't represent extra years of costs; and would create a campus presence of once-star players who didn't make the NFL or NBA and are now at the library studying, radiating the message that you'd better study. How about it, NCAA? Why not use your billions of dollars to set up a system that would allow revenue-sport athletes who have brought you cash and glory on the field to remain in school until their degrees are complete?

Everyone get that? So basically, the Easterbrooks are following this chain of logic:

1) Currently, the NCAA doesn't give colleges adequate incentives to entice them into helping their athletes graduate on time
2) Something should be done!
3) Let's give every athlete that competes for a year an extra year of tuition, room, and board in order to give them the best odds at finishing their degree (even if it takes them 8 years to do so)

Point 1) is fine and definitely true. Many nationally prominent colleges have pathetic athlete graduation rates. Point 2) is therefore obviously true as well. And then... everything falls apart and breaks into a million tiny wrong pieces.

Now, I'm no economist. But Gregg and Neil have proposed an incentives-based plan. And I do happen to understand a thing or two about incentives. You see, sometimes there is more than one party involved in a societal problem. Sometimes an issue that demands action from a ruling body, such as low NCAA addressing low student athlete graduation rates, exists because of more than just one factor. I appreciate what the Easterbrooks are trying to do here. Colleges that don't seem to give a shit about their players are omnipresent in today's sports-oriented college culture. Giving them reason to prod their players through the system instead of just abandoning them once their eligibility runs out makes a little bit of sense. But have you ever considered that maybe, just maybe, those players have just as much to do with low graduation rates as the institutions do?

TMQ regularly bemoans the commercialization of college football and the culture that has been erected around it. It's the primary reason he's such a big NFL fan by comparison. And if you read him regularly, you won't have any trouble agreeing with me when I say he seems to long for the days when players at this level were students first and athletes second. Well, can you imagine a more effective incentive to prevent them from doing nothing more than the absolute bare minimum in the classroom than to tell them: "Hey, it doesn't really matter what you do in school while you're athletically eligible. You'll have an equal number of years after that ends to finish your degree. As long as you don't fail out, who gives a shit what you do in school while you're playing? You can always go back and fix things, at no cost to yourself, later on." What a joke. Sure, since those extra years would end up taking up a chunk of the budget for the schools, they would have a vested interest in keeping athletes from utilizing this plan. But in the end, who's in control of what kinds of grades and credits students earn: the school they attend, or the students themselves?

I concede that this plan would probably increase overall college athlete graduation rates. Were it instituted, a fair number of former football and basketball players in their seventh or eighth year of school would eventually end up with diplomas that otherwise would never have been obtained. But this would take place at a terrible cost, at least in the minds of someone as "old school" as the TMQ: the cost of basically giving student athletes a free pass to do whatever they wanted while playing out their eligibility (as stated, so long as they didn't completely fail out). How he looks past this obvious flaw in Official Brother Neil's plan is beyond me. Maybe he assumes that giving colleges the incentive to graduate athletes on time (lest they have to extend scholarships past eligibility) will somehow magically cause the schools to spur the athletes in question into action and cause them to complete classes at the same pace non-scholarship athletes do. I can guarantee with 100% certainty that this would not happen. I very recently spent four years in college. During those years I met and interacted with hundreds and hundreds of other students, many of whom were on athletic scholarships. I can promise Gregg this: if you give almost any college student the option of doing something productive now, or doing nothing now but with the guaranteed possibility of doing that exact same productive something later at no additional cost, they will take the latter option almost without exception.

Long story short, if all the Easterbrooks care about is raising graduation rates at any cost, I guess this is a somewhat worthwhile plan which would probably experience very limited success. I highly doubt it would be utilized by the vast majority of "failed" revenue sport athletes (those who didn't end up going pro once their eligibility ran out) who didn't already get their degrees on time. But that's just my opinion. More importantly: on the other hand, if, as I strongly suspect, the Easterbrooks care about altering the culture of NCAA student athletics and encouraging players to get in the classroom and behave like everyone else rather than people that are at school to do nothing play sports and party, this is the exact opposite of a good idea. As graduation rate statistics show, many of them already feel they have little incentive to learn. Why remove that incentive entirely?

Friday, November 23, 2007

I Can't Believe I'm Dignifying This With A Post

It's shooting fish in a barrel. But as usual, when it comes to this particular quasi-journalist, I just can't help myself. From Bill "My Profile Picture Makes Me Look Like A Used Car Salesman" Simmons's 2007-2008 NBA Preview:

As far as I'm concerned, Duncan is the greatest power forward ever and the most underappreciated superstar since Moses Malone. But what if KG rolls over him in the NBA Finals? What then? Doesn't that open the door for a lifetime of, "Yeah, Duncan was good, but if KG had his supporting cast, he would have won seven titles!" arguments? Just the chance that we might settle this once and for all makes me happy. I love when things get settled. You know, kinda like how the "Brady vs. Manning" argument was settled over these past 11 weeks.

Really? We can put that one to bed now? Great. I'm all for it. I mean it's not like before their showdown a couple weeks ago Manning had won the last three matchups between the two, including last year's AFC title game. Or that Manning has a higher career yards/attempt, completion percentage, and quarterback rating. Or that even with how good Brady's been this year, that Manning still has thrown more TDs per game over the course of his career.

Am I saying Manning is definitely better? Absolutely not. Assuming he doesn't get hurt, Brady's 2007 is going to end up being better than Manning's 2004. Brady has thrown fewer interceptions per game during his career, has won more of their head to head matchups, and trails Manning only slightly in those three metric categories I listed above. (7.7 vs 7.2 yards per attempt, 63.9 to 63.1 completion percentage, and 93.9 to 92.9 QB rating.) What I AM saying is that the issue is not "settled." It probably never will be, even after both guys wrap up their careers. Who's better, Montana, Marino, Elway, or Favre? Depends on where the person you ask grew up. Montana has the rings, Marino has the yards (not for long, admittedly), Elway was great for years with a terrible supporting cast, and Favre has the TDs. Although I'm from Colorado, it's hard for me not to choose Marino after his performance in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. But if you want to say there's a clear cut winner in that debate, you must have invented some kind of "magical impossible debate settling machine" that you should patent and start selling. Lord knows I'd buy one.

Anyways, barring unforeseen circumstances, in about 10 years we'll throw Brady and Manning into the debate. People from Indiana will all hype up Manning and people from New England will hype up Brady. People from Northern California, Colorado, Florida, and Wisconsin will disagree. The argument will escalate. Someone will imply (or possibly state directly) that they had sex with someone else's sister. The first punch will be thrown. Bar stools will be broken over heads. Beer bottles will be shattered on pool tables and used as stabbing weapons. The bouncers will kick everyone out so that the fracas can continue in the street until all but one person is arrested or killed. The end. But still, even that one person won't be right. It's just not possible to "settle" that debate.

And don't get me started about how Brady has more rings than Manning. There's exactly one reason the Patriots won those three Super Bowls and will probably win this year's. He goes by the name of Tedy Bruschi. (Did you know he had a stroke and missed part of the 2005 season, but ended up making a triumphant return on Monday Night Football? I heard that somewhere. What a fuzzy, warm, cuddly story! Where was ESPN when this happened? They really dropped the ball.)

Final "food" for thought (food, because it's Thanksgiving... GET IT?): Who had/has the better supporting cast? 2004 Manning or 2007 Brady? You've got Harrison, Wayne, Stokely, Clark, E. James, and a great offensive line versus Moss, Stallworth, Welker, Watson, some capable RBs, and another great offensive line. If you're Bill Simmons, this debate has already been settled. If you have a brain, it's just another great unanswerable question.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Jay Outdoes Himself, Literally

Okay, so I was working on a brief from Mariotti's online column, which was something about the Bulls being quitting losers (even though they've had horrendous starts the past 3 years and still made the playoffs). I couldn't even finish doing the writeup before Jay wrote something even worse. I should have known. He's the first person to bitch about Chicago not trading for or signing a star player, regardless of whether or not the player is actually worth it. And here we are, one day after the White Sox "failed" to sign Torii Hunter at a gross price, and I forgot to expect a miserable piece of shit from Jay? Shame on me! No, fuck that. Shame on you, Jay.

Sox too cheap for bidding wars

Here's the thing about bidding wars, Jay. When teams compete to sign the same free agent, offers keep rising until one team bites the bullet and pays too much. The Angels are the suckers here, especially because they have Vlad, G-Matt, 10-RBI team-personifying superhero, and Willits (who has a tremendous ability to walk for a guy with zero power, by the way). Unless they use this surplus to trade for Miguel Cabrera, this is nothing short of a disastrous waste of resources.

Side note: I've heard that the Angels are actually going to keep Anderson in the outfield and squeeze Willits and Matthews (probable DH) with this signing. What dolts. They paid $90M to replace Willits' 4.0 WARP1 with Hunter's 5.5 WARP1. Good move, Angels.

Shocked? What is Ken Williams so "shocked" about? In the Reinsdorfian tradition, the White Sox underbid for a major free agent, making their fans believe they were going guts-out after Torii Hunter when, in the context of a rich 2007 marketplace, they merely were half-buttocksing it.

Hunter should not be making $16M a season. There. I said it. The proposed 5 year, $80M deal by the White Sox is a little high for someone who gets on base below league average and is (CONTROVERSIAL POINT ALERT!!!) a middle-of-the-road defensive CF despite flashy catches (since 2002, nothing special doing on the FRAA front).

Then they told the world about their offer, a dumb poker move that let the Angels swoop in on Thanksgiving Eve and sign Hunter to a five-year, $90 million deal.

Which makes the Angels total suckers. Tony Reagins is trying way too hard to be the best GM in history, IMO.

Shocking? Try embarrassing.

Try "not overspending for 5 wins per season".

Because once again, the Sox have shown they're full of stuffing when it comes to bidding wars. Deep down, chairman Jerry Reinsdorf doesn't want to win such battles, or he and Williams would have been more competitive for Hunter in a period when baseball is flush with wealth

Do you even care how much Hunter is actually worth? Suppose they don't win the "battle" for Carlos Silva by not offering him 5 years, $75M. Will that make the Sox pathetic too? (Silva was worth exactly the same as Hunter in 2007 by WARP1)

Don't you just love Reinsdorf? For two decades, he has been centrally involved in trying to build a better industry financially, but once that has been accomplished, he still refuses to play high-stakes, big-boy ball in a major city. You're better off not bidding for Hunter at all than losing him to a more pro-active franchise that makes you look, well, second-rate.

How does that make sense? Your bid jacks up the competition's offer and drains their resources! This isn't about avoiding embarrassment, Jay. This is a business, and success is measured by wins, not how much or little idiot columnists like yourself blast the moves of management. If you ran the team, you would splurge on every free agent out there and the team would be broke in seconds. Worse yet, you would trade away the entire farm system for overrated "stars", robbing the team of its future as well as its resources. You appeal constantly to the mindless fan who doesn't care how much a big name costs, as long as he lands in Chicago. This entire fucking article is just you pressing the "Look at me! Look at me!" button.

"They shocked me," Hunter said of his new club. "I wanted to be with these guys. I thought maybe they didn't need a center fielder like me but they shocked the world. I love these guys. I want to say thank you, guys, for choosing me. I'm honored.

Even Torii understood that the Angels had no need for a CF.

"I've watched the Angels play for a long time. They play the game the right way, they play hard-nosed baseball every day."

And now he's shifted into mindless broadcaster cliche mode!

As opposed to the Sox who suffered the worst offense in the major leagues last season, a plague that won't be helped by the consolation signing of set-up reliever Scott Linebrink.

Damn you Scott Linebrink for not improving the offense! (Linebrink's 4 years, $19M will almost certainly yield more wins per dollar than Hunter's contract)

Hunter's .334 OBP wouldn't do much to solve the out-making tendencies of the White Sox either.

Consider this the latest significant setback in a bloody, 17-month Sox slide, which includes a 109-135 record since early July of 2006.

Poor Jay, he's been monotonously writing this crap for so long that he's forgotten the exact date!

It's JULY 2ND, 2006, Jay. Exactly 13 days after Ozzie Guillen called you a fag.

This is more confirmation that a star like Hunter, who fled Minnesota with the aim of winning a championship, thinks he has a better chance of achieving those goals in Anaheim than on the South Side.

1) This is the loosest definition of "star" I have ever seen. Torii Hunter was worth half as many wins as A-Rod last year. In that context, A-Rod's contract is a bargain compared to Hunter's, because his salary is less than twice Hunter's.

2) Really? We needed this to confirm for us that Hunter has a better chance of winning a championship with Anaheim, a team that made the playoffs last year, than the White Sox, a team that was one of the very worst in baseball? Thank you soooooo much for clarifying that, Jay!

The Angels have sustained a consistently high level since their World Series triumph five years ago, primarily because they have an elite manager in Mike Scioscia and a title-driven owner in Arte Moreno.

Mike Scioscia is 0% of the reason that the Angels have been consistently good. He bunts, hit-and-runs, and foolishly tries to steal bases to the extent that I think Scioscia actually likes when his players make unnecessary outs. Moreno, sure.

The Sox have a ditzy manager in Ozzie Guillen and an owner who likes to win but only at his price, though Reinsdorf has no problem charging top dollar at The Cell.

This is a blatant appeal to fans' desire to not pay high ticket prices. I've had this theory for a long time that Jay wants to be considered the voice of Chicago fans, even though all of them hate him.

And brace yourselves, Soxdom, because more surprises could be coming from the Angels at your expense. Earlier this week, Williams made a questionable move in dealing pitcher Jon Garland -- a skilled, durable starter entering his prime at 28 -- for Orlando Cabrera, a fine shortstop who, unfortunately, is 33 and becomes a free agent next offseason.

Apparently the fact that Jon Garland is also a free agent after next season is irrelevant!

In the Garland deal, all the Sox did was weaken their rotation, deplete their potential trade pool for Miguel Cabrera and pick up a veteran who might play here one season.

Jon Garland is a veteran that may have only played in Chicago for one more season.

I didn't get it when he re-signed Uribe, I didn't get it when he dealt Garland and I obviously don't get it now. Unless Williams pulls off the pipedream of Miguel Cabrera, giving him a half-Cabrera infield, his "Full go" offseason is stuck in the muck. No wonder he suddenly was shy when reached Thursday by the Sun-Times.

"What's to say?" he said of Hunter.

How about this?

He gone.

The last line of most of Jay's columns is some sort of attempt at biting cleverness. This is just a weak allusion to one of Hawk Harrelson's catch phrases. I'm disappointed, Jay. Even you can do better.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Why Are You Here?

It's getting to be Thanksgiving. You should be worried about dealing with your family, watching football, and fighting off thousands of strangers just so you can buy some shit at the mall. It's true that bad sports journalism never sleeps, but even we here at FireJay have to come out of the basement and spend time with our parents every once in a while. We'll be back with a vengeance next Monday. In the meantime don't expect too much out of us. Or, do expect a lot out of us, and be disappointed. Whichever. Here, if you get bored, read this for some laffs-

It's beautiful.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Jemele Hill Probably Just Wants To Make You Laugh

I mean, I can't think of any other reason why she would write this article. It needs no further introduction.

(Note, for the sake of legal accuracy: throughout this post, when I say "Bonds committed perjury" or stuff like that, I just mean he has been indicted. I don't pretend to know how the case will pan out, and obviously he is innocent until proven guilty. He's not officially a perjurer... yet.)

The indictment of Bonds is just plain wrong

You will automatically assume the reason I'm defending Barry Bonds is because he's black and I'm black.

You will be wrong.

Good thing I didn't also assume that you were a half-decent journalist, because I would have been wrong about that as well.

This is not about the commonality of race. And for the record, I have been as critical as anyone of Bonds.

Now, Jemele is being partially honest here. She hasn't outwardly been a vehement Bonds supporter. But when you look at some of her recent articles, such as:

Hall of Fame needs to rethink accepting asterisk ball (Nov. 13)
Why aren't Ankiel and Bonds painted with the same brush? (Sept. 11)
All-Star Game loses relevance without Bonds (Jun. 27)

You can see that she's not exactly tripping over herself to criticize the guy, either. There is a popular figure of speech for this kind of behavior: it's called talking out of both sides of your mouth. Jemele isn't dumb (about this one, specific topic). She knows that the argument about Bonds is a very contentious one. And she's desperate to please people on both sides of the issue, so she consistently writes articles that play to audiences in each camp. "Hey, it's not like I love Barry. I mean, he's a jerk and probably took steroids. But at the same time, I think everyone is being too mean to him! Be nice to Barry, what has he ever done to you?" It's pretty sad. Fortunately I am in neither the pro-Bonds nor the anti-Bonds camp. I am in the hating bad journalism camp. This allows me to see through Jemele's little ruse.

I didn't want to see him break Hank Aaron's record, because he's not as dignified as Aaron was and Bonds didn't respect his natural ability the same way Aaron respected his.

But that doesn't mean Bonds belongs in prison.

It sure doesn't! But you know what does? The fact that he lied to a federal grand jury! Wait, you're telling me Bonds isn't being indicted for doing steroids? That his actual crime is something much different, and something that no other member of baseball's "steroid generation" has done? So we can't bitch and moan about how Barry is being singled out over McGwire and Palmiero, because he did something they never did? In short, yes. (Jemele's complete and total lack of understanding about the justice system will come to further light throughout the column.)

The only way to see the indictment of Bonds is as a gross, terrible injustice, a startling abuse of power and a waste of taxpayer money.

God, I love the "this is a waste of taxpayer money!" argument that always surfaces anytime a famous person gets in trouble for something. "There are starving kids in Africa, you know!" pleads Paris Hilton's mom/Martha Stewart's fans/Jemele Hill. It's such a comical line of reasoning it doesn't deserve a response, but I am bored so I'll give it one anyways.

Here's how crimes work: if you do something illegal, and are charged with one, you have just forfeited your right to complain about the "big picture" of government and the justice system as a whole. You have not forfeited your right to defend yourself against the charges. My advice to you (and in this case, "you" is being applied to both the criminal and those who support him or her) is to shut up and deal with the issue at hand. Telling a cop who's giving you a speeding ticket that there are unsolved murders he should be solving is not a good idea. If speeding was never enforced, everyone would speed, and the greater good would suffer as a result. Same goes for one of my favorite things to complain about- parking regulations and tickets. Sometimes I get furious when I think about all the money that goes into parking enforcement in this fine country. Then I realize, if parking laws were never enforced, a whole lot of problems would pop up. I'm not here to claim to know the perfect balance of resources that should be devoted to the enforcement of every variety of law, but I most certainly am here to laugh at the idea that it's a bad thing when the government spends money (in this case, chump change by their standards) to prosecute someone who they believe has committed a felony. Our legal system has a wide variety of crimes that carry a wide variety of punishments. All have been enacted because they theoretically serve the best interests of the country. Is perjury as bad as murder? No. Could that $6 million be better spent elsewhere? Sure. But crimes and punishments (epic sports cliche alert!) "are what they are," and exist for a reason. If government authorities have reasonable cause to think you've done something illegal, and you get charged with a crime as a result, that is the opposite of a "terrible injustice." It is, in fact, an "expected occurrence." Deal with it and stop playing the "but that's a waste of money!" card. Put into one pithy sentence: that's how America works, moron.

The "race card" is somewhere in my back pocket, but I'll play that later on.

Wait! But you said... about you being black... not related... I'm so confused.

For now, let's focus on something even bigger than race -- the unbelievably deep hypocrisy that has fueled the federal government's pursuit of Bonds for four years.

How dare they attempt to prosecute someone who committed several felonies! Hypocrisy! If you look at the real facts, you'll see that they were the ones committing felonies! (And taking steroids in an attempt to break Hank Aaron's home run record, although that's not related.) Hey Jemele- if you want to toss around big words like hypocrisy, you might want to know what they mean first.

The decision to indict Bonds on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice, a charge I still don't understand, considering the government didn't need Bonds to topple BALCO -- isn't right, fair or just.

This isn't about toppling BALCO. This is about a man swearing under oath to tell the truth to a federal jury (with total immunity, I might add) and then not doing so. That is a crime. A very, very significant crime. The feds don't like it when people do this, so when they have a chance to catch someone who did, they usually go after the offender. I can probably just copy and paste this paragraph about twenty more times to finish out my criticism of the article.

The feds have made Bonds into Al Capone, when he's more like Pookie than Nino Brown. They're blaming the crackhead instead of the drug dealer, the prostitute instead of the pimp, the wayward child instead of the enabling parent.

They're not blaming Bonds for distributing steroids. They already got the drug dealer, pimp, and enabling parent more than two years ago when Victor Conte plead guilty. They're blaming Bonds for a different crime, which occurred when they were trying to solve the first set of crimes.

Cast aside whether Bonds signed enough autographs, the irrelevant tales about what a jerk he's been to the media, his mistress, the rocky divorce and our general addiction to seeing towering stars fall,

OK. Do I also have to cast aside the fact that he committed perjury? I hope not.

then digest this: Barry Bonds -- who didn't create BALCO, who didn't distribute the performance-enhancing drugs that came out of BALCO, who was nothing more than a client of BALCO -- is facing stiffer punishment and castigation than Victor Conte, the man who masterminded the entire operation.

Distributing steroids. Lying to a grand jury (when you have total immunity!). Both are really bad. The former is probably more damaging to society, but the latter is still atrociously horrible and deserves harsh punishment. If found guilty, Bonds will probably receive a sentence similar to Victor Conte's 2 years of probation, so this point is irrelevant anyways.

Bonds -- who wasn't the first baseball player to take performance-enhancing drugs unknowingly or otherwise, who played in a league that, for a time, subtly encouraged PED use, who played against players taking the same drugs as him, who isn't even the first player to lie to the government about taking performance-enhancing drugs (see: Palmeiro, Rafael) --

There are two epic problems with this point, both of which prove Jemele's total inability to understand what exactly the fuck she's talking about.
1) Palmeiro allegedly lied during a Congressional hearing, which is done under oath, but is not a situation which leads to perjury charges. It's certainly nowhere near as bad as lying to a grand jury. One takes places in front of legislators, but the other takes place in a motherfucking court of law. There is a significant difference there. The best analogy I've heard is that what Palmeiro did is like lying to your boss and what Bonds did is like lying to a cop. Both will get you in trouble, but only one will get you charged with a crime.
2) I'm not here to defend Palmeiro. (Uh-oh! I'm starting to sound like Jemele. I swear I'm not a closet Rafi fan!) Anyways, it's highly likely that he had been juicing for years, but his positive steroid test came back after he testified. Therefore it's highly unlikely, but conceivable, that he was actually telling the truth when he made his statements to Congress and only got on the juice during the timeframe between the two events. With the Bonds indictment, the positive test the feds claim to have must have been administered before his testimony was given. Without that, there is no perjury charge. So obviously that's what they think they've got. It's a key difference.

is facing prison time and will be anointed the primary culprit of an era he didn't create.

As if it's unfair to ever anoint the most prominent member of an era its primary participant just because they didn't create it. I was trying to think of an example that wasn't too obscure or creepy. How about Kurt Cobain and grunge music? Anyone?

And the universe was definitely trying to send us a message, because as the Bonds indictment continued to ripple, MLB commissioner Bud Selig announced that Major League Baseball's revenue climbed to $6 billion this year, the highest amount in history. How much of that came from Bonds' bat? How much of that came because of an orchestrated ignorance of steroids?

She's got me there. Baseball is to blame for the steroids mess to a large degree. But you know what they're not to blame for? Barry Bonds perjuring himself. Nope. He did that all by his lonesome.

The government has spent some $6 million to catch a baseball player who mostly committed a crime against himself and his legacy.

And against the government of the United States, when he lied to them under oath.

They have sought Bonds for four years, a pursuit that would have been reasonable if he were a violent criminal.

Most white collar criminals are nonviolent. I guess we should put a cap on the number of years the government is allowed to investigate them. After all, there's other stuff going on, you know?

For what? Because they didn't like that Bonds didn't cower in fear while testifying during the BALCO trial?

No. Because they didn't like how he lied to them while testifying during the BALCO trial.

Because he's spoiled, rich and arrogant, and they wanted to knock him down a peg or two?

No. That's why much of America wants him put in prison. You've mixed them up with the Justice Department, Jemele. The two are not related.

Should Bonds have fessed up to whatever he did? Certainly. But $6 million seems like a hefty price to pay to crush a ballplayer's ego and inflate a government branch's.

She's right. I mean, we should punish perjurers. But not at the cost of 0.00001% of the federal budget! New rule: if the justice department can't catch a nonviolent criminal for less than $20, drop the case. It's not worth it.

I certainly don't support lying to the government -- if that's what Bonds did. But I'm not about to pretend that Bonds' alleged lie is the equivalent of handing over sensitive government documents to Osama bin Laden.

What? Bin Laden... somehow in this article... I'm confused again. Maybe she decided to drag him in after watching Bill Simmons reference Nazism four times in one column last week.

SMACK. Time to play the race card.

I love this. Boom. Slap. Smack. Boo-yeah. Facial. In your grill. Onomatopoeia. ALL CAPS. Reader, you have just been pwned by Jemele Hill. She's about to tell you how it is.

Bonds' blackness is not the sole reason Bonds is in this mess.

That's correct. In fact, for the twentieth time, the fact that he lied to a grand jury is the sole reason he is in this mess.

But it is a factor in why the fairness seems so skewed, why the vitriol seems so severe, why the pursuit was so unrelenting.

PUNCH. Time to play the please don't play the race card. Jemele, please don't play the race card if you're not going to base your accusations on anything other than unprovable bullshit which ignores the one real legal issue at hand.

Bonds' most egregious error is that he is not content to play the role of the grateful black man.

This is the last time I'm going to say it. His most egregious error is committing perjury. In fact, from now on, [P] represents the phrase "committing perjury" or "committed perjury," whichever makes sense in the context of the sentence. I'm tired of writing it. Jemele Hill is so stupid, she's moved me to using shorthand.

Black athletes, particularly males, who express the kind of arrogance Bonds does are often villified more than white athletes who do the same. Brett Favre pleaded to be surrounded by talent for years, yet when Randy Moss expressed similar frustration in Oakland he was called selfish and whiny and told to shut up.

We here at FireJay have a label to stick on columns we cover that contain stuff like this. Look for it below. Two words. First one starts with "a", second one starts with "b" and ends with "shit."

Gary Sheffield, while not the most eloquent speaker, alerted us to the obvious -- that MLB has a certain amount of economic control over Latino players because it plucks them from their home countries so they won't have to pay hefty signing bonuses in the draft.

No. Sheffield alerted us to the obvious- that he is a crazy racist dickhead who doesn't know his asshole from his elbow. And also, that you "can't control" him.

Sheffield was roasted for this, but it was perfectly fine for Larry Bird to say the NBA needs more white superstars.

More anecdotal bullshit. Oops! I gave away what the label I was talking about earlier is.

Black athletes who refuse to kowtow get it worse, and from that perspective the race card is appropriately applicable.

They don't, and, it isn't, but thanks for making yourself sound more ridiculous.

For weeks, we've gotten reports of various baseball players purchasing human growth hormone, for obviously circumspect reasons and from obviously suspect people. Why isn't the government knocking at the door of Rick Ankiel, forcing him to testify against his supplier? Why didn't the government pursue the past that Mark McGwire wasn't eager to talk about? Why does MLB seem to have only a passive interest in Paul Byrd?

Those are all relevant questions on their own. But not in the context of this article. You know why? Because this indictment isn't about taking steroids. It's about [P].

What-about-them arguments are normally despicable, but to ignore that Bonds was part of an ensemble cast is foolish and lacks perspective.

You're right, he was part of a cast. But he's the only one who [P] in front of a grand jury.

Of course, no matter how this situation concludes -- despite the hypocrisy and racial undertones in this case -- the overall moral lesson here is integrity should be used in conjunction with talent.

Still waiting for proof of hypocrisy on the government's part. I haven't yet seen the part where Jemele builds her case about them [P]. (Or taking steroids, even though that's not what the case is about.) As for the overall moral lesson part, did Rick Reilly tell her to write that? I mean, it's right and all. But still.

If it's true Bonds could have avoided this -- had he not been jealous of Sammy Sosa and McGwire, players whose talent was never in the same stratosphere as Bonds' -- then that's the real crime.

From a legal standpoint, he also could have avoided this by not [P]. That would have been really easy to do. I mean, his baseball reputation would have been damaged. But not much more so than it was before this indictment. How many rational people living outside of Northern California believed before last week that Bonds was clean? I guess what he got out of it by [P] was a more fun run at 755. People were only wildly speculating about his steroid use, rather than knowing for sure that it had taken place.

Had Bonds simply stayed the course and remained the player he was prior to the steroid era, he would have received the credit that made him seek out performance-enhancing drugs in the first place.

That's the most sense you've made all day. Keep it up, you might eventually match up with Skip Bayless!

He'll have to live with that forever. And that, to me, is justice.

Good for you. To me, though, justice is being charged with and tried for a crime when the government thinks you've committed one. I've always been an abstract thinker like that.

[Update, 1:21 PM- Steroid Nation's take on the situaion, which is a lot shorter and more articulate than mine.]

Monday, November 19, 2007

One Of These Things Is Not Like The Others

I usually don't like arbitrarily constructed lists about sports. The classic example is the ever-present "power rankings" columns that permeate every major sports website. Other than providing hilarious user comments sections on a weekly basis (seriously, check them out sometime if you haven't before. ESPN, Fox Sports, CBS... doesn't really matter), those couldn't possibly be a bigger waste of time.

But I have to admit, some topics are best discussed in list format.'s Jeff Gordon (no, not THAT Jeff Gordon! LOL! NASSSCCCCCAAARRRRRRRR!!!!!!11111) has assembled a kind of sort of interesting one. For your reading pleasure, he has listed what he considers to be the 10 best free agent signings in baseball history. And I have to concede that this is one of those rare topics that works better as a list. So take a look at his selections, and see if you can figure out why I'm blogging about his column right now instead of just silently nodding in approval and moving on to something else.

David Ortiz, Red Sox, 2002
Andre Dawson, Cubs, 1986
Reggie Jackson, Yankees, 1976
Greg Maddux, Braves, 1992
Roberto Alomar, Indians, 1998
Barry Bonds, Giants, 1993
Roger Clemens, Blue Jays, 1996
Kevin Brown, Marlins, 1995
Ichiro, Mariners, 2000
David Eckstein, Cardinals, 2004

Did you catch it? Go look again. In order, we have (all stats were acquired by candidates while playing for the new teams they signed with):

-A guy who has hit 241 HRs in 5 years
-A guy who won an MVP and OPS+ed 130 or better 3 out of 6 years
-A slam-dunk hall of famer who hit 144 HRs in 5 years
-One of the greatest pitchers ever and winner of 3 straight Cy Youngs
-A guy who in 3 years with his new team OPS+ed 139, 114, and 150 while playing unbelievable defense at a premium position
-One of the greatest hitters ever and winner of 4 straight MVPs (5 total with new team, 7 overall)
-One of the greatest pitchers ever and winner of 2 straight Cy Youngs (7 overall)
-A guy who recorded ERA+es of 216 and 150 in 2 years with his new team
-A guy with 7 straight seasons of 200+ hits, who may one day reach 3,000 despite not entering the league until age 27
-A guy who in 3 seasons with his new team OPS+ed 99, 81, and 93, and who plays bad defense at the most important defensive position on the field

Is it any clearer now? Let's let Gordon defend that final inclusion in his own words:

When he signed his three-year, $10.25 million free-agent deal after the 2004 season, some experts ripped the Cardinals for giving him too much money and too many years.

They were right.

After all, Eckstein was really a second baseman playing shortstop. He didn't possess great fielding range and his arm strength was famously poor.

Like I said, those critics were right.

He was a decent hitter,

He had just put up back to back OPS+es of 75 and 79. So, no. He was not. (Although it's fair to note that in context with those numbers from 2003 and 2004 in Anaheim, Eckstein's had a huge resurgence in St. Louis!)

but he had no power and little speed on the basepaths.

Absolutely right. All this for the low, low, low introductory rate of 10 million over 3 seasons.

But Eckstein was the perfect fit in St. Louis, where he moved into the lead-off spot.

Where he did not belong.

He earned two trips to the All-Star Game

Proving to fans everywhere that the All-Star selection process is a joke.

and became the MVP of the 2006 World Series, on the strength of his three doubles in Game 4 against Detroit.

He certainly had a great game 4 of the 2006 World Series. Can't take that away from him. He also went 0 for 5 in game 1 and 0 for 4 in game 2. He was also a complete anchor for the Cards that year overall, OPSing .696 in more than 550 plate appearances from the leadoff spot. It's a minor miracle St. Louis managed to limp into the playoffs at all considering what a shitbomb of a season he had. His 2005 and 2007 campaigns, although worth nowhere near what he was paid for posting them, were positively Bondsesque/Ruthian by comparison. Oh, did I mention he plays bad defense and the most important defensive position on the field? That's right, after all this, you're looking at what Jeff deems to be one of the 10 greatest free agent signings ever.

In many ways, he is the anti-A-Rod —a low-budget, low-glamour signing that produced maximum results.

Given this statement, I have to wonder what Gordon would consider "maximum results" from things or events in his everyday life. Say he told you he recently bought a used car, and was getting "maximum results" out of it. Would you be surprised if it didn't have an engine? Or wheels? What if he went on a date and came home reporting it ended with "maximum results." You couldn't really assume anything from that description other than that the girl didn't punch him in the face. "Maximum results" from a new appliance in Jeff's kitchen? As long as his house hadn't yet burned to the ground, that's probably how he would describe the situation.

David Eckstein. "Produced" "maximum" "results." Wow. The lunchpail alert is now at red. Bright, vibrant, red.

Look at what was left off so Gordon could squeeze Eckstein onto this list. Randy Johnson to the Diamondbacks in 1998? Overrated. Vlad Guerrero to the Angels in 2003? Yawn. You want to talk about truly great free agent signings? Look no further than America's favorite 4'7" white guy and his amazing ability to sprint from home to first on a ground ball.