Monday, December 31, 2007

The Post That Started It All.....Nostalgia Time!

Before Fire Jay Mariotti was its own internet entity, I was being a nerd and making posts through some other medium. It was the following post on which Larry commented with the idea of starting the internet juggernaut that is FireJay.

This article was written by Mariotti during the Bulls/Pistons playoff series last spring. It's really bad. I haven't changed anything of substance about this post, so keep in mind, you who wish to shoot down things I say, hindsight is 20/20. I've obviously changed my opinion on things since then (e.g. I no longer think John Paxson is a sweet GM). Here we go!

Mariotti. Bad. Again.

You almost longed for the dismal days of Tim Floyd and Dalibor Bagaric, or Jerry Krause sending Benny the Bull and the Luvabulls to the airport in a daffy attempt to recruit Tim Duncan and Tracy McGrady.

I long for the days when you didn't have a job writing about sports for a city you hate.

That's how embarrassing it was to watch the Bulls choke on a 19-point lead and collapse like, well, the Cubs.

Typical. It would be just a sin for you to only hate on one Chicago team in this article.....

Not much was at stake in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, only the credibility of John Paxson's master plan and community trust in the Bulls' future. But all they did was expose themselves as a brittle, sloppy, skittish team of erratic jumpshooters who weren't ready for prime time, turning wild cheers to boos in a soft, spineless, 81-74 loss to the Detroit Pistons. The Bulls at least could have made the series interesting by knocking out the Pistons, who didn't show up for the first half and had no apparent interest in working Thursday night.

The Bulls are a decent shooting team. They aren't great, but they certainly are far from awful. Their 40.9% from the field in the playoffs is the worst among any team. Don't you think that a few unlucky shooting games is too teensy an issue for a GM to lose his credibility? The Bulls shot 33.7% last night! Shots weren't falling! It's that simple!

Instead, the talk today will concern whether Paxson's nucleus is a hocus-pocus tease -- good enough to reach the second round but stuck in some no-man's land between real contention and mediocrity.

Are they supposed to like....not make the playoffs and avoid "teasing" the city until they are legitimately a top 5 team in the NBA? I don't understand this.

How symbolic was the pregame tardiness of Ben Wallace, whose $60 million will look foolhardy if the Bulls are swept by his former team?

Not very. / It's been one year.

While traffic is no excuse in Chicago unless you're Michael Jordan, the fact remains Wallace was hired to set a competitive tone against his former teammates. play basketball. Against all teams. Not just the Pistons.

Alarmingly, he preferred to text-message them last weekend in pathetic attempts to have dinner, requests that were denied by Pistons players who'd rather drink title champagne than break bread with the enemy.

If this is true, that's actually kinda funny.

But then, the Bulls have much bigger issues than Big Ben's bad clock. All Flip Saunders had to do on the Detroit sideline was yell ''zone'' to his players in the second half. Instantly, the Bulls froze. What happened to Gordon, who shot 4-for-16, went scoreless in the fourth quarter and has played an abominable series that thrusts doubt about his future? Is it realistic to keep using Kirk Hinrich in a critical offensive role when he's so unreliable as a big-game shooter? Only Deng has been consistent as a scorer. In the end, it was the experience, moxie and pride of the Pistons that put the Bulls in their place, with any remaining loyalists reminded of harsh reality.

As primarily a shooting guard, Ben Gordon: 19.3/4.3/4.3. If anyone is questioning his future (by the way Mariotti, he's young!), they should be....well....hired by the Chicago Sun Times, apparently.

Luol Deng has shot 38% in the series, and this is the first time this season he hasn't consistently buried that 15-footer. He shot 51.7% in the regular season.

My conclusion: Luol Deng and the Bulls played 3 games against a superior team in which their shots were off.

Jay Mariotti's conclusion: Get rid of the nucleus! Get rid of Paxson! SOMEONE GET DOLIBOR BAGARIC BACK ON THE COURT!!!!!

No team has overcome an 0-3 hole to win an NBA playoff series.



Asked about the Detroit zone, [Scott Skiles] smirked as only he can smirk. He is being outcoached by Saunders -- where was Chris (DNP) Duhon, by the way? --

He's not that good......

but he can't face the music. ''Is their zone getting all sorts of public recognition? Is that what's going on? I think it's kind of funny. I don't mean to show disrespect, but we're missing open shots,'' said Skiles, in comments that will fire up the Pistons. ''They're good enough to feed off of that.''

Pistons = adequately fired up, thanks.
Skiles = knows more about basketball than you = agrees with me, not you. (yippie!!!)

This next paragraph is perhaps the stupidest of them all, so I'm going to parse it.

For the record, the Bulls scored 30 points in the second half, two fewer than they scored in the second half of Game 1. They desperately need scorers,

Bulls scoring: 13th/30 in the NBA, 5th/16 in the East. Luol Deng: 22.9 PPG. Ben Gordon: 19.3 PPG. Wow, sucks for me to root for a desperate team.

and if Paxson has the nerve, he'll see Garnett, Gasol, Jermaine O'Neal, Vince Carter and others available this summer.

Ben Wallace was signed last year. Paxson made an insanely good trade with the Knicks in the Eddy Curry debacle. He has plenty of "nerve" and is a very good GM.

I enjoy youth movements as much as anyone, but they have to show continued progress.

Wow. WOW. Lets check out this progression over the last 4 years, shall we?

No playoffs -> make playoffs, lose in 1st round, -> lose in 1st round with better showing vs Heat -> lose (probably) in 2nd round against #1 seed


This series, so far, is a major setback after the stunningly easy sweep of the Miami Heat.

In which the Bulls shot at unsustainably good levels.

Either that or the Pistons are bound for an NBA title

Probably not.

though I can't see it when San Antonio and Phoenix are playing the league finals as we speak.

Writing off the Jazz....that's smart. Ooh yeah....writing off the Warriors too! Good call....they never upset anyone. Oh wait......

I keep thinking back to Wednesday, to a post-practice scene involving Skiles. His forehead tightened like a rack of washboard abs. His frown challenged the cojones and competitive integrity of his players. His facetious tone could have cut through Steve Dahl, Dan McNeil, Mayor Daley or any of the town's smart-alecky blowhards. He was in vintage attack mode, firing a survivalist rally cry to his desperate team.

facetious (adj): 1) not meant to be taken seriously or literally. 2) amusing, humorous. 3) lacking serious intent, concerned with something nonessential

Look it up before you completely misuse it next time. I'm in shock that you don't know what this word means and still wrote it down for newspaper publishing purposes.

''Man up,'' he said.

Mission unaccomplished.

Okay, we get it, they played bad in 3 straight games. You, however, write bad every time, and the Sun Times hasn't like.....traded a city you hate less or something, so why are you on Paxson's case so bad for sticking with his players?

What would you write about if no Chicago teams ever performed badly? I bet you'd like....quit your job. That'd be nice.

I guess you could still write about which of the 2 baseball teams didn't beat the other in the World Series......

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Without Players Like Darin Erstad and GMs Like Houston's Ed Wade, Blogs Like This Probably Wouldn't Exist

I did a quick search on the Houston Chronicle's website to see if anyone there had written something funny and long winded about the 'Stros recent acquisition of Mr. Nails McFormerpunter. Unfortunately, the answer turned out to be "not really." But their general blurb about the signing did have a great quote from Wade (widely regarded as one of baseball's worst decision makers).

"Darin is one of the prototypical professional baseball players," Astros general manager Ed Wade said. "He's made a career out of playing the game the right way. Darin is a veteran who brings a lot to our club and will really help us."

That last sentence is a real doozy. Hopefully they're not counting on him to "bring" anything that resembles an offensive skill set, or "help" them win games. Maybe he's really good at throwing batting practice, or setting up the postgame spread, or something.

The article also mentions that Erstad

will provide depth behind outfielder starters Carlos Lee in left, Michael Bourn in center and Hunter Pence in right.

If your definition of "provid[ing] depth" is literally having someone who's played pro baseball before available to take over for one of your starters should they suffer an injury, then yeah, I guess he will. On the other hand, if your definition of "provid[ing] depth" is having someone who will be productive in his role as a 4th outfielder who gets 200-300 ABs, then no. No he will not.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Where Oh Where Would We Be Without ESPN Page 2...

David Schoenfield offers up a little tribute to Craig Biggio.

I apologize, but this one lends itself to being stat-heavy.

Craig Biggio's name has never been linked to performance-enhancing drugs, but I know two things he tested positive for during his Hall of Fame career: hustle and dirt.

Other players who have tested positive for hustle:

Jim Thome
Jack Wilson
Ronnie Belliard
Alex Rios
Eric Byrnes
Yuniesky Betancourt
98% of the rest of Major League Baseball

Other players who have tested positive for dirt:

Everyone who has ever slid into a base.

This Biggio fellow is pretty unique, eh?

Despite playing much of his career in the Astrodome, Biggio always found a way to get dirt on his uniform.

This is in no way impressive. Biggio had a great career. You are basically shitting on him by pointing to this as a reason and ignoring things he was actually good at.

But (and no offense to David Eckstein here) Biggio was much more than a scrappy hustler: He's arguably one of the top 50 players in the game's history.

Now that the lunchpail alert is officially the brightest red it has ever been, I can successfully puke.

Just off the top of my head, Biggio had 3 contemporary teammates who were definitely better than him: Jeff Bagwell (career .322, Roger Clemens, and Lance Berkman. You really think it's tough to knock off another 47?

If Biggio gets into the Hall of Fame, which he probably will, and deservedly so (I've come around on this), it's on the strength of his durability, character, and counting stats. He was a legitimately great player for like 6 years or so in the 90's when he was OBPing .400 and stuff. Top 50 of all time? No.

He came up as a catcher, became an All-Star, moved to second base and was a Gold Glover.

Fielding stats are pretty sketchy at times, but Biggio's FRAA was -163 for his career, and had 11 seasons of -10 FRAA or more. I think it's pretty clear that Biggio was not a very good defensive second baseman.

He topped 10 home runs just once in his first four seasons, but finished with eight seasons of 20-plus home runs.

Reggie Sanders had 10 of those things.

He stole 50 bases once

Juan Pierre has done that 4 times.

he hit 56 doubles another time;

You got me there.

he scored 146 runs in 1997 (only Astros teammate Jeff Bagwell has scored more in a season since 1950);

22 of which he scored with no teammate assistance!

Funny you mention think he might have been a large part of the reason Biggio got to that absurd total? Bagwell had 85 extra base hits that year! The REAL reason that was a great season for Biggio was his .415 OBP.

Jimmy Rollins managed to score 139 runs this year on a .344 OBP. You think he wants to thank Ryan Howard and Chase Utley?

he once played 162 games and didn't ground into a single double play

That is just plain sick. Amazing job Biggio, no joke.

only 12 players have scored more than his 1,844 runs.

Because he played 20 healthy seasons batting in front of power hitters maybe? Biggio's career OBP is .363. Good, not great. It pales in comparison to say, Jeff Bagwell's .408 career OBP. I have a gigantic man-crush on Jeff Bagwell.

And, those 12 are all legends of the game -- names like Mays, Cobb, Aaron, Musial, Gehrig. His run scoring ability offers a little insight into how underappreciated Biggio was during his career; after all, isn't the object of the game to score runs?

For the last fucking time. Scoring runs is not an individual ability. It is a team ability. Getting on base is an individual ability. When you're standing on 2nd base, you can't control whether or not the guy at the plate gets the single you need to score.

For a time, it appeared Biggio's legacy (shared with Bagwell) would be one of failed Octobers. From 1997 to 2001, the Astros lost four straight playoff series and Biggio hit .083, .182, .105 and .167 in them.

Remember this, you A-Rod nay-sayers.

Finally, in 2004, Biggio hit .400 as the Astros beat the Braves for the first playoff win in franchise history. Although they lost to St. Louis in the National League Championship Series that year, in 2005 the Astros reached the World Series as Biggio hit .316 and .333 in playoff series victories. Biggio was past his prime by then, but at least he finally showed a glimmer of his greatness on a big stage.

Blah blah blah batting averages in playoff series are so luck-based it's scary. If you want to pay homage to Biggio, at least cite the facts that he is in the 3000 hit club, played 19 full seasons and only failed to crack 130 games played once for reasons other than the 1994 strike, was consistently pretty good at getting on base, and was a great character/team player/presence in the Astros clubhouse/dugout (a little puffy, but definitely true).

Instead, you chose things like dirt, hustle, that season he stole 50 bases, the 8 seasons he was an above-average home run hitter, the awesomeness of the hitters behind him at driving him in, and postseason batting averages.

I sincerely hope David Schoenfield is never asked to give a eulogy at a funeral.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

More Double Standards, Please

Whether they're created by the media or simply by the ignorant masses, sports are filled with them. Fighting in famous Pistons/Pacers brawl of 2004 shows that the NBA is filled with dangerous thugs. But fighting in baseball and hockey, which has at times also spilled into the stands, is just part of the game. Baseball is boring and unwatchable unless teams from New York, Boston, Chicago, or Los Angeles are involved. (I don't need to link this one; go look up the ratings for the 2007 NLCS.) But football is completely engaging and enjoys massive ratings even when teams from Pittsburgh, Seattle, San Diego, and Indianapolis consistently play deep into the playoffs. Vince Young (career: 21 TDs, 30 INTs, 0 playoff appearances so far) "just goes out and wins football games." Jeff Garcia (career: 149 TDs, 77 INTs) can't seem to keep a job; he's played for a different team each of the past 5 seasons. And according to a very reputable source who plays wide receiver for the Cowboys, he's probably gay.

But perhaps the most relevant and annoying double standard in all of sports today involves those fancy little pills, injections, and arthritic balms we're all so familiar with. We all know what the reaction to the Mitchell report has been so far; but chances are it'll intensify next April when baseball starts up again. Expect a chorus of boos for the named offenders and a hefty amount of bad journalism (even moreso than what we've got right now) to show up. But where was the outrage when this happened? Or this? I'm not saying no one cares about steroids in football. I'm not saying that offenders get a free pass. But it's incredibly disproportionate compared to the vitriol journalists and bloggers have spilled/will spill about baseball's users. It's very frustrating. And ESPN's Jayson Stark lays out a fantastic analysis of the situation here. It's a great read. I can't believe it took me two paragraphs to get to that point.

It's a well known fact that Rick Morrissey hates Jay Mariotti. Rick thinks it's laughable that Mariotti won't show his face in the Chicago White Sox clubhouse (he literally fears for his life) but constantly slams the Sox from a distance. Mariotti, in the most immature of stunts, posted this, claiming with ridiculous evidence that Rick Morissey is "stalking" him.

I have nothing more to say about this. It looks like Jay is right. It's just funny that actual sports analysis is taking a progressively lower portion of his writing, and when he writes on topics like this, it just vanishes completely.

Nothing but this little nugget, actually.

As I've said for years, the Trib should have hired Michael Wilbon when it had the chance -- or never should have let Lincicome, Verdi and Bayless go. Those gentlemen seemed to develop opinions without reading the Sun-Times first.

Yes, that's right Jay. The Tribune would be in way better shape if it kept Skip Bayless on their staff. He's not pointless, retarded, and an ignoramus or anything.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas!

That's right, Merry Christmas. Screw "Happy Holidays." For all intents and purposes, Christmas isn't a religious holiday anymore. Nearly everyone gets the day off work. Few businesses are open. It's been secularized, and don't let any crazy people tell you any different. Of course, at the same time, let me also wish you Happy Hanukkah or whatever else you want to celebrate religiously.

Anyways, as I'm sure you could have guessed, posts will be few and far between here during the next couple days or so. That doesn't mean that bad sports journalism is taking a break. For example, I just saw a segment on Sportscenter featuring The Count from Sesame Street. He informed me that 21 is the Patriots' "lucky number" right now, because that's how many different players on their team have scored a touchdown this season. He also encouraged them to keep adding to that number because it would allow him to keep counting. Can't he find inspirational material anywhere else? And since when did PBS sell out to the NFL/ESPN? Anyways, like I said, this FireJay hiatus doesn't mean there aren't any bad articles out there. It just means that we are lazy. After all, these mediocre bowl games featuring teams that finished somewhere between 4th and 7th in their respective conferences aren't going to watch themselves.

Oh yeah, and thanks for all your kind words about my Jemele Hill post. I promise I wasn't fishing for them.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Johnny "Red" Kerr Does His Best JoeChat Impression

I love Johnny "Red" Kerr. He's been the voice of the Bulls for a long time. He's also getting old and crazy, making him more of a Bulls fan than color commentator.

A fan sent a question in to the broadcast tonight (both quotes in this post not exact, but close).

Red, other than playing time, what factor do you think is the most important in Aaron Gray's development into one of the better centers in the NBA?


RED KERR: Well playing time is obviously the most important with a young guy like Gray, as he needs the experience. Gray already has the talent, no question about that, so he just needs to keep playing.

WAYNE LARIVEE: You like Gray, huh Johnny.

RED KERR: Yes, yes I do.

Red.....we're still waiting on an answer there Red. Red?

We seem to have lost him. Join us next time when Larivee helps Kerr dodge yet another bullet of a question by dumbing it down to 6-year-old difficulty!

Thursday, December 20, 2007


[This is the post I've been hyping up all week. I worked on it for like four days, and in the end, it turned out to be a piece of garbage. Sorry. Basically, I just learned a painful lesson: don't ever make a big deal out of a something that's a work in progress. Only awfulness comes of that. Go ahead and read it if you need to be put to sleep. And no, I'm not fishing for compliments. Just shut up and enjoy the crap.]

Here's the deal: a mystery journalist just wrote a scathing response to Andy Pettitte's admission that he did HGH. Don't click on the link if you don't want to find out who it is! Soak this up and pay very close attention to the author's tone and conditions of judgment.

I'm confused. Was Andy Pettitte's admission that he used human growth hormone supposed to be an apology, or an insult to everybody's intelligence?

It came off as the latter -- as something so disingenuous, it's laughable. It's hard to take any apology seriously when it contains this loaded statement: "If what I did was an error in judgment on my part, I apologize. I accept responsibility for those two days."

If what I did? Way to be contrite, Andy. Sorry, but this was more than an error in judgment. This isn't throwing to third base when the play was at first. This is your credibility and your reputation.

Last year, the Los Angeles Times reported that former Yankee Jason Grimsley told the feds Pettitte was one of the players who used performance-enhancing drugs. This is how Pettitte responded to that allegation at the time: "I haven't done anything," he said. "I guess reports are saying I've used performance-enhancing drugs. I've never used any drugs to enhance my performance in baseball before. I don't know what else to say except it's embarrassing my name would be out there."

Now Pettitte wants us to believe he took HGH only twice in 2002, and only because he wanted to heal faster for his team's sake?


The only thing Pettitte has demonstrated is that he can lie under duress and then craft an apology that would make any public relations expert proud.

The apology was definitely weak, and this person's analysis of it is actually pretty fair. I kind of enjoy it. I mean, focusing on previous denials of use isn't overly relevant. Pettitte is hardly the only player to have taken this path. It's par for the course for most high profile users. Overall, however, the author's point that he made a pathetic "admission" is 100% spot-on. It's a slight improvement over not saying anything at all. (Remember that I said that. It will be important in about three to five minutes depending on how fast you read.)

Had I read what this journalist wrote without knowing their identity, like you just did (or at least pretended to do, for the purpose of the point I'm trying to make), I'd have been content to nod in agreement and move along. Overly convoluted celebrity non-apologies are annoying. Some of what the author says is a little melodramatic, but overall their points are salient and well-put.

But- as soon as you find out who the person behind the article is... some serious problems arise. If you haven't already figured out who they are, I'll tell you. It's a woman. She writes for ESPN's Page 2. We complain about her all the time here at FireJay. Eriz made a label in which he identified her as a "stupid bint." (Eriz, being a bit more vulgar than me, might have meant definition #1 on that list when he made the label. Since I'm trying to keep this mildly classy I'll clarify that I mean the cleanest interpretation listed under definition #3- "a girl not well liked." That's right. Classy.) Yes, it's Jemele Hill.

Why does the fact that Jemele penned this piece create problems? Well, most of the time, any journalist is free to comment on a controversy in any way they see fit. But when a writer takes a particular stance on an issue, they can't just suddenly change their mind or create a double standard whenever it's convenient. Put more simply they can't contradict their initial position when a new story in the same vein of controversy arises. It's bad journalism. Really bad. Like, I'll bitch about you in in my anti-sports media blog if you do it bad. "Well then," you ask, "how is Jemele's position here a contradiction of something she's written before?" Don't be so coy. I think we both know exactly what/who I'm referring to. So in order to fully understand just how offensive this anti-Pettitte article is to anyone with a brain and an interest in sports, let's review a history of her thoughts on Mr. Barry Q. Bonds.

First, let's establish Jemele's fascination with Bonds. Since last April, including this Pettitte article, she's only written eleven articles about baseball. But five of them have been about Barry. So although she primarily covers the NBA and NFL, when she does venture into the world of MLB she often talks about Bonds. Therefore it's extremely unlikely could she could have written an article about baseball (much less baseball and steroids) without considering Barry's place in the situation. I just don't see it happening.

Second, let's look back on what she's had to say about Barry since April. At the conclusion of this review you should (if you don't already... am I just preaching to the choir here?) understand why this Pettitte column is an insult to anyone who reads it.

Jemele's views on Barry didn't start out very positive. Back in May, she wrote an article awkwardly pleading with God to somehow stop Barry from breaking Hank Aaron's record.

...I've got a critical request that requires your immediate attention. God, if you do this, I promise to be kind, generous and compassionate. At least for the next 30 minutes.

God, can you smite Barry Bonds before he breaks Major League Baseball's all-time home run record?

(OK, maybe smiting is a little extreme. Could you conjure up some locusts every time he bats? Give him a few boils? Crack a stone tablet over his head?)

I know the Bible says vengeance is your department. But might you consider speeding things up?

The point of the article wasn't necessarily just to shit all over Bonds, but also and more importantly to hope for the preservation of Aaron's untainted record. She announced her stance, which she has been consistent with ever since, that he knowingly took steroids. It was almost completely critical of Barry and made no apologies for him. But something must have snapped after this column appeared, because she's been singing a different tune ever since. My theory is that she realized she was going about things all wrong in terms of generating attention for her columns and making them "buzzworthy." Who wants to read yet another anti-Barry piece? Boooorrrrring. So although she couldn't reverse her position that Bonds was definitely a user, she could still generate controversy/"buzz" by defending Bonds in other ways. Ever since, she has sung a different. Every column has contained an acknowledgment of his usage, but then moved past it to a bunch of bullshit about how he's still great/important/awesome in a mysterious and "honest" way. It's sickening.

First (on June 25th) she wanted us to know that he belongs in the All-Star game, no matter what anyone thinks of him.

So how would it look if the biggest story in the sport is absent from the league's marquee showcase? A marquee event, by the way, that's held in San Francisco -- the one place in the solar system where Bonds has unwavering support.

Aren't All-Star games supposed to be entertainment for the fans? What would be more entertaining than the scene at AT&T Park when Bonds is at the plate? Even the most ardent Bonds hater would want to see that.

Despite Bonds' transgressions -- both real and imagined -- he is a transcendent figure in sports. He's a star. And last time I checked, that's the defining characteristic in an All-Star Game.

Gross. See what she's doing? It's an intentionally understated position of "Barry is a cheater, sure... but he's still a great, majestic, important figure who transcends baseball! Yay Barry!" But, like I said, more understated. It's disgusting.

Then in November, Hill wrote two articles within a week full of sneakily disguised disgusting pro Barryism. First, she railed against that fashion designer who put the asterisk on Bonds's 756th home run ball.

You can trust Bonds' defiance, arrogance, and certainly, his talent. You can trust that Bonds really doesn't give a flying bat what we think of him or whether we -- the media, fans or baseball -- believe he knowingly or unknowingly took performance-enhancing drugs.

He reiterated his feelings a week or so ago, when he promised to boycott the Hall of Fame if it accepts his historic 756th home run ball with an asterisk.

Too bad everyone else isn't so easy to read.

For the record, I believe Bonds took steroids and knew exactly what he was doing when he did it. I believe he dishonored his talent and his legacy, acting out of jealousy of Mark McGwire when McGwire wasn't a tenth of the player he was -- home runs or not. Still, the federal government's repeated attempts to nail Bonds are a waste of taxpayer money and an abuse of power. And given the numerous reports of various players obtaining human growth hormone, it appears Bonds was merely a fish in a sea of cheaters.

But that isn't the real issue. The issue is history is being manipulated for personal gain, so that an artist can pull off the ultimate tag -- the sullying of a historic home run ball.

Again, gross. Bonds himself sullied that ball more than Mark Ecko ever could have. But don't ask Jemele to make that connection. According to her, Bonds did steroids... but he should still be treated like the super-duper awesome home run king he is! Also, as per the first paragraph I printed up there, he's a defiant hero of a talented superstar whose consistent assholism is actually a positive thing.

Finally, a week later, when the perjury indictment came down, Hill was up in arms again. (I covered this article in its entirety here.)

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.

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.

The government has spent some $6 million to catch a baseball player who mostly committed a crime against himself and his legacy. They have sought Bonds for four years, a pursuit that would have been reasonable if he were a violent criminal. For what? Because they didn't like that Bonds didn't cower in fear while testifying during the BALCO trial? Because he's spoiled, rich and arrogant, and they wanted to knock him down a peg or two?

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

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.

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. 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.

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

Gag me. More of the same. "Barry screwed up, to be sure... but stop picking on him! He's a victim, not a criminal!" The whole thing makes me sick. It's so subtle and yet so obvious.

And since I'm sure that no one is reading this anymore, I'll make my conclusion as short and sweet as possible. Jemele Hill loves Barry Bonds, but knows she can't get away with stating it outright. So she keeps printing pieces that underhandedly defend him. On its own, this is merely annoying. But it turns into nothing short of unprofessional journalism when you combine it with what she says about Andy Pettitte. Look at this line:

The only thing Pettitte has demonstrated is that he can lie under duress and then craft an apology that would make any public relations expert proud.

Are you kidding me? The only thing Bonds has demonstrated is that he can lie under duress and then continue to lie for years on end. If you're Jemele, how can you possibly write the Pettitte article after spending the whole year defending Barry? It's a subject you can't touch. You painted yourself into a corner. Steroid discussions about other players, particularly those that fess up to using (no matter how weakly they fess up), are off limits! It's shockingly brazen.

Hill herself maintains that Barry used. Therefore he's also a liar. Given that fact, what she says about Pettitte, and how often she writes about Barry, I have to conclude that she considers it morally more acceptable to stick to a lie than to come clean on one. And given that conclusion, I think it's safe to definitively say that Jemele Hill is indeed a stupid "girl not well liked."

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

I have a much uglier word for it, Sir: Misappropriation

I was encouraged by dan-bob to take all of the anger that I have brewing behind (This happened to me) and focus it at internet journalism. So I went looking for love in all the right places, and found an old friend serving up a very old complaint. and Scott Burnside have the honors.

Just wondering where all the howls of derision were when the Philadelphia Flyers announced last week that they had signed third-year center Mike Richards to a 12-year, $69 million contract extension.

That's pretty good job security for a player who just established a career-best 14 goals. When the New York Islanders became a league laughingstock when they signed netminder Rick DiPietro to a 15-year deal coming out of the lockout, at least he had won a playoff game and established himself as a capable goaltender, if not an elite one.

Those howls, if Scott listened enough, came from anybody who follows hockey carefully, and throughout Canada (with the possible exception of Toronto.) And why was nobody paying attention to hockey? Why, oh why, were the masses of sports fans who have nothing to follow during weekdays in the winter not see this terrible event?

Mike Richards signed this contract on December 13th. Other notable things happening on this date?

(1)A-Rod signs 10 year deal

Let's face it, Scott. Yankees baseball news, especially from the media's half-drunk prom date, usually trumps NHL news.

(2) Mitchell Report

The day that Adobe Acrobat was updated in more offices around the country than any other in the year. But let's bitch about hockey being ignored. Let's complain about this contract being ignored. Because Mike Richards' contract is long and pays over $5 million a year.

Not to mention the second part of his whining. Philadelphia wasn't made fun of as throughly as the Islanders were. Let's examine this a little more as well.

Rick DiPietro is a goalie. For good reason, the team is good, great, or awful depending on your goalie. Ricky D isn't a very good goalie. Career win-loss is right around .500 (104-93-8T-16OTL). 554 minutes played in playoff games. 2-7. And yet New York Islanders GM Garth Snow signed him to a 15 year contract worth $67.5 million. Garth Snow is an important name here because he was a goalie. And if the Mighty Ducks trilogy taught us anything, it's that goalies fly together.

Mike Richards is a forward. While they are touted as the superstars of the sport, it's because goals are more exciting when they are scored and not stopped. When your team sucks, you can rarely blame one guy playing bad hockey as the reason why the score is 9-1. The entire line must be looked at to see if there is a reason that goals have gone down. Adam Oates left St. Louis and Brett Hull wept. Teemu Selanne retires (or does he?) and Andy McDonald gets shipped away from Anaheim.

You cannot compare these players to each other. They are not interchangeable parts in the NHL.

Seems to me that I just read something about substitution and bad players.

In other sports terms:

MLB: Pitcher vs. Catcher
NFL: Quarterback vs. Cornerback
Rugby: Backs vs. Forwards


Richards has one point in six playoff games for the Flyers.

Who was the goalie? His point was an assist. His +/- was -5. So what he should have done was score 10 unassisted even strength goals. Because he can do that without a team.

But less than half a season is a pretty short testing period on which to base a 12-year contract. Still, no one batted an eye when the deal was signed. Why? Because that's the new NHL. Identify the young core of your team, and then roll the dice and lock them up to as long a term as you can possibly manage.

Then hope you're not wrong.

I'm sure there is no scouting involved in signing him to a 12 year contract. If only there was a league that players could play in before they got to professional levels that would gauge them against other players.

OHL Stats for Mike Richards:

233 GP, 115 G, 177 A, +/- of +75, and 56 points in 41 playoff games.

But nobody is making the Flyers the butt of jokes.

Blame the WGA, Scott. That must be the reason why nobody cared about this hockey signing.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Here's a Challenge: Imagine Something That's Pretty Easy To Imagine

In a comment I recently made on my anti-Keith Olberman post from Sunday, I hyped up a big article I'm working on right now. I planned on putting it up tonight, but was unfortunately derailed by this article you're about to read. So the big project is on hold on until tomorrow. I think you'll understand why things unfolded this way once you're done with the garbage below. Take it away, Mike Nahrstedt of The Sporting News. Hit me with a puff piece.

2007 Sportsman of the Year: Tom Brady

More like 2007 Fathering Kids Out of Wedlock While Dating A New Womanman of the Year! Am I right? Am I right?

Here's a challenge: Imagine the NFL without Tom Brady.

I'm not feeling very challenged. Given that all 32 teams in the league carry an active roster of 53 players, it doesn't sound too difficult to omit one dude. Regardless of his credentials.

Seriously. Put aside, for a moment, any anti-Goliath sentiments you might bear. And think.

I don't hate the Patriots because of their "Goliathism." I hate them because a disproportionate number of their fans are assholes. But fine, I will try to put that aside. And think.

Think about the Patriots with somebody else under center. No, you can't plug in Peyton Manning or Brett Favre or Tony Romo. For purposes of this exercise, let's go with Matt Cassel. Just like Bill Belichick would.

Ok. I just did. Well, I mean, Belichick wouldn't plug in Cassel. He would go get someone a little more legitimate. But that's splitting hairs. Let me imagine the Patriots of the 2000s and today with an average NFL starting quarterback at the helm. Hmmmmm.

After several seconds of contemplation, I can confirm that they would still be very good. Hell, they'd still have been to a couple Super Bowls in the last decade. I wouldn't bet against them winning it all in 2001 (based on the fact that Brady was merely a bit above average during the regular season and did nothing in the playoffs other than the "tuck rule" game) probably win it all in 2003 (Brady was great, but his defense was even better) but probably wouldn't get a ring in 2004 (Brady carried that team all through those playoffs). However, maybe they'd also have a more of a chance to win the Super Bowl in 2005 than the real Patriots did, because Brady's imaginary replacement hopefully wouldn't throw a terrible interception in Denver's end zone which Champ Bailey returned for a touchdown during the divisional round. As for this year, they'd still be one of the top 5 teams in the NFL. They'd still already have locked up a playoff berth and maybe a first round bye on the strength of having loads of talented players pretty much everywhere except QB. So basically, these imaginary Bradyless Patriots are doing just fine. They're not as good, because Brady is definitely a great QB, but they're still a perennial contender with at least one title in the decade. No doubt in my Patriot-hating mind about it.

I'm sorry, Mike, did I interrupt your journalistic knob scholbbing? Please continue.

Back to the Patriots, a 14-0 team in the real world. Think that happens with Cassel?

Probably not. They'd probably be more like 12-2, 11-3, or at worst 10-4 (Colts, Cowboys, Chargers, Browns?).

OK, to be fair, Cassel hasn't seen much of the field in his three seasons. Put him behind New England's line and surround him with the likes of Randy Moss, Wes Welker, Donte' Stallworth and Benjamin Watson and he'd have some nice numbers, too.

That's correct. Pretty much any NFL level QB would.

But, remember, we're imagining an NFL without Tom Brady, which means we're left with "nice numbers," not out-of-this-freakin'-world numbers. And so there's no way we'd be looking at a quarterback with 45 touchdown passes -- the third-best season total ever -- with two games to go. We wouldn't be anticipating the imminent fall of Manning's league record of 49, a total that was hard enough to comprehend only three years ago.

It's true, Brady's had a great season. But I wouldn't call the prospect of his getting 5 TDs in the next 2 games "imminent." His pace has slowed considerably since the midway point of the season. And he's left with two meaningless games, both of which will probably be played in bad weather: home against Miami and in the windy Meadowlands against a Giants team that could be fighting for a playoff berth. Will I be surprised if he gets it? Given how much Belichick probably hates Manning, no. Is it "imminent"? No.

New England's opponents wouldn't mind an NFL without Brady, that's for sure.

That right there is pure, unadulterated puff. It might be the puffiest part of the whole article. That's a sentence you'd expect to come out of the mouth of a 70 year old barber who owns a Patriots-themed barbershop.

Remove him from the equation and you're probably not gasping at the whuppins inflicted on the likes of Miami, Buffalo and Washington. The utter domination was a sight to behold -- or, depending on your point of view, a massacre from which to avert one's eyes. But you couldn't help but admire Brady -- his poise in the pocket, field vision, perfect form, quick release, rocket arm, pinpoint accuracy.

His offensive line is so astonishingly good, it's a rare occasion that he even gets touched by a pass rusher. That's really more astonishing to me than his ability to hit Wes Welker on a five yard curl twice a quarter.

And, above all, his complete command of the offense. Quite simply, Brady was toying with opponents.

So much puff!

Says CBS analyst Solomon Wilcots, "He wins ... games. It's as plain and simple as that. He wins football games."

Thanks for clarifying what kind of games he wins, Solomon. I thought at first that you meant he wins board games. Or backyard wiffleball games. Or maybe even complex captive/hostage mind games. But then you came through with the specifics, and showed me the light. He just goes out there and wins football games. Finally the key to Tom Brady's success is explained. If only Cleo Lemon could go out there and win football games, maybe the Dolphins wouldn't suck so much.

OK, maybe the Patriots aren't your favorite team.

True. In fact, besides all three of my favorite team's divisional rivals, the Patriots are probably my least favorite.

Maybe you don't like all those rings.

Did you say dickheaded bandwagon fans? No? You said rings? Sorry, I thought you said dickheaded bandwagon fans.

Maybe those lopsided scores grate on your nerves.

A little bit. Not nearly as much as the aforementioned fans.

Maybe Spygate soured you. Whatever.

"Spygate" was overhyped as shit. I was tired of hearing about it by early October. I'm really more concerned about, you guessed it, the fans.

Don't hold that against Brady. All he does is execute the offense he's told to execute.

What... how does that... what are you talking about? Even if someone went into this article hating Brady, how are they supposed to interpret that as a reason to change their mind about him? Of course he's executing the offense he's told to execute. How many NFL quarterbacks get a play call from the sidelines, then go to the huddle and tell their teammates "Fuck what coach said. We're running the fumblerooski every down this drive. On one on one BREAK." I'm so confused... how how is this supposed to vindicate Brady in the minds of haters?

The sheer puffiness of these next two sections is enough to make even the biggest Tim Tebow fan nod with respect.

"He is a nicer and better human being than people see or imagine," says Patriots owner Robert Kraft. "He's a great leader, and everybody respects him. I would say every woman in New England between the ages of 2 and 80 is nice to me so they can meet him."

Every woman except Bridget Moynihan! OHHHHH! ZING!

"He doesn't like being in the limelight," says Browns linebacker Willie McGinest, who played with Brady on all three Patriots Super Bowl championship teams. "He's a great guy. He's humble. He works hard. He's quick to say his success comes from 'these guys.' Even though a lot of it has to do with him, he's not selfish. At all."

Assuming Brady really does say things like that, hey, more power to him. At least he realizes that (this year, at least) he's got one of the best receiving corps in the league and an offensive line that regularly gives him enough time to go through his reads twice.

Think of an NFL without Tom Brady.

I already did. It didn't change much. It wasn't like imagining the NHL in the late 80s/early 90s without Gretzky. It sure as shit wasn't like imagining the NBA in the 90s without Jordan. Here are some other players I'm comfortable of imagining an NFL without: Ladanian Tomlinson, Peyton Manning, Terrell Owens, Randy Moss, Brian Urlacher, Champ Bailey, and Adrian Peterson. I hope that makes my point clear.

Actually, let me sidetrack for a second. There actually is one Patriot I can't imagine the NFL without. You know who I'm talking about. A mountain of a man named Tedy Bruschi. 260 pounds of pure American hero. He solves cold murder cases for third world countries during the offseason. He's actually the guy who found Saddam Hussein's hiding spot. He's going to help baseball get rid of its steroid problem by sitting all the players down for a motivational speech. Did you know he had a stroke, but returned to the NFL less than a year later? True story. I read about it in an underground NFL fanzine. I guess the mainstream media somehow missed out on that compelling story. Regardless- Tedy Bruschi. He shits pure gold, and donates it anonymously to the United Way.

Sorry about the side rant. Back to Brady and his perfectly chiseled chin donut.

Think of the water cooler discussions you wouldn't be having because Brady wouldn't be doing something every week that absolutely blew you away.

BARF. The puffiness of this puff piece has finally overcome my ability to keep food in my stomach. Think of the discussions I wouldn't be having without Brady? Are you fucking serious? Now, let me clarify- you can legitimately say this about the Patriots as a team in 2007. Their pursuit of perfection and running up the score storylines are interesting enough to be talked about by even a Patriots hater like me. But Brady himself? For sitting untouched in the pocket all afternoon and alternating 3 yard outs to Welker with heave-hos to Moss? You can't be serious. Fuck that. Let me name ten QBs who are more "water cooler talkworthy" than Brady this year. (Not all of them are playing well, or even playing every week, but that doesn't mean they aren't being discussed for one reason or another.) Romo, Grossman, McNabb, Kitna, Brees, Anderson, Roethlisberger, Young, Rivers, and Favre. Boom. That's not counting the always discussable Mr. Vick. Or, you know, people who play other positions. Bad news, Nahrstedt: while Tom Brady is very good, and having a great season, and a super swell guy to boot... he's not that eye poppingly impressive. He's basically a very good QB behind a dominant offensive line who consistently makes good reads and hits wide open receivers. Yawn. When's lunch?

Think of Randy Moss in continued decline, his amazing skills going to waste yet again.

This might be the funniest line in the whole piece. As if it's somehow not Moss's own fault that he sucked in Oakland. It's abundantly clear to anyone that watched a Raiders game during 2005 or 2006 that Moss didn't give much of a shit. And considering that he's not an overly beloved character, I don't think the idea of him spending another year with his skills "going to waste" is going to bring a tear to many eyes. But thank goodness Belichick and Brady came along and rescued him from obscurity!

Think of the '72 Dolphins, long ago having uncorked the champagne.

I'll admit, the thought of the '72 Dolphins having to shut up and go away should the Patriots go undefeated is the one thing keeping me from going to Foxboro and trying to kidnap Belichick. Those stuck up, self-important, insufferable fucks. You've got to be kidding me. It's been 35 years. You played a joke of a schedule. GET OVER YOURSELVES. Should the Patriots finish undefeated... I'll be disappointed. But I bet those crusty old ex-Dolphins will be crying. And that realization makes me happy enough to merely be disappointed.

Think of the final two weeks of the regular season and the impending playoffs with no talk of perfection, no speculation about this Patriots team being perhaps the greatest the NFL has ever seen.

Whatever would I do during weeks 16 and 17 without this drama? Follow the exciting chases for wild card berths in both conferences? Yeah, that probably is what I would do. And in fact, will be doing anyways. I will check in on the Patriots score whenever CBS/FOX updates me or on the internet later in the evening. If they lose, awesome. If they win, I'll just hope they lose next week. And I imagine pretty much anyone who isn't a Patriots or Dolphins fan will take the exact same approach.

Think of how ordinary the 2007 season would seem by comparison.

Gag me. I won't even dignify this with a list of things about this season unrelated to the Patriots (OH NO! WHERE WOULD WE GET EXCITEMENT WITHOUT SPYGATE, OR THE TOTALLY RELEVANT BELICHICK/MANGINI "FEUD," OR THE PURSUIT OF PERFECTION!) that make it very unordinary. Actually, I will dignify it briefly- I'll just throw out a couple names to prove I'm not bluffing. Peterson. Chad Johnson, even in defeat. Favre. Sorry, I don't mean to sound like Peter King with all this Fav-ruh hoopla. I know Mr. "I Feel Comfortable in Wrangler" doesn't need more praise or recognition. But in the context of this particular article, he's ten times more compelling and interesting than Brady this year. Easily.

We'd rather not.

I hope you're using the royal we, as in you singularly. Because I personally don't have a problem with that proposition at all.

I'm Sorry Everyone, but Jay Wants Attention Again

I know, it's stupid. But like the 2-year old who doesn't get to play on the big boy slide, he won't stop crying for attention until someone gives it to him.

I guess we might as well do the honors for him. Jay?

The End: Bears better off losing

You are a Chicago-based columnist saying that your sports teams are better off losing. This is not the first instance of something like this happening. No team in contention for anything is ever better off losing, Jay. Ever.

A victory over the Vikings would have brought some false hope. At least now it’s clear that the once-proud Bears are in dismal shape

I wonder what Mariotti would be like as a Denver columnist.

Sept. 25, 2007: "Rockies tease city by arousing playoff hopes with another meaningless win."

Oct 4, 2007: "Rockies off to good start in playoffs, but better they lose now than later before they realize they aren't more than just an NLDS team."

Oct 11, 2007: "Webb an embarrassment as Colorado sneaks away with a win. World Series remains a pipe dream, however."

Oct 23, 2007: "Wake up and smell the reality. These Rockies are no match for the Boston juggernauts."

Oct 28, 2007: "Told ya."

MINNEAPOLIS -- Now America understands why the Bears are the NFL's newest crash dummies -- or, I should say, the segments of America that wasted their lives watching Monday night.

Note: Watching a football game that comes down to the final 2-minute drill is a waste of life. These games are totally uninteresting. Also, sports suck.

After the latest collapse, three men gathered on the ESPN set. One was Emmitt Smith. Another was Adrian Peterson, who might break Smith's all-time rushing record, smiling as he was serenaded by lingering fans with the obvious, "Yo, Adrian!"

But I was more interested in the guy sitting with them. Hey, Steve Young, can we talk you into quarterbacking the Bears? Yes, at your age?

Oh yeah, that's totally a professional joke. Every fucking idiot Chicago fan has been saying this type of thing for 2 years now. "Hey, my son should be the new Bears QB, am I right guys?" Haw. Haw. Haw. How do you have a job?

False security doesn't stop the bleeding. It only creates a pseudo comfort zone that shouldn't exist at Halas Hall, where the Bears officially are stuck in the NFL past tense and need a significant offseason overhaul. Much as a victory might have warmed the civic bones on a cold December night, really now, what would it have accomplished?

Excitement. Satisfaction for every guy on the team. Derailing a division rival. Keeping the playoffs as an outside possibility. Achieving the goal of winning, the only reason that the team went onto the field instead of just forfeiting beforehand. Gee, I don't know, Jay? Why do sports teams try to win?

What did loss No. 9 teach us?

That Kyle Orton is not a legitimate starting quarterback and has a bigger neckbeard than a future, which I already knew before he made a horrendous throw to downtown Duluth on 4th-and-1 to end a late threat.

Jay, you're brilliant! What foresight! You knew that a guy who has a career 59.5 passer rating that plays as a THIRD STRINGER for a team stereotyped by not having a good quarterback is not, let me emphasize this ladies and gentlemen, not, a legitamate starting quarterback!

That the defense played well against the explosive Peterson but is finished as a dominant force, which I already knew before Brian Urlacher stopped writing his blog and woke up for the ESPN cameras he so adores.

And....get this guys. Jay knew that the football team that has let up the fourth most yards per game in the NFL is not a dominant defensive force! Maybe he isn't so stupid after all! Let's get rid of this blog, or at least retitle it.

That Devin Hester is the most exciting athlete in sports but also the most perilous to his team when he grips the football like a lunchbox, which I already knew.

A kick returner that has trouble catching/hanging onto the ball puts his team in a perilous situation? ESPN should really consider getting you onto that "Around the Horn" show.....

That this team makes stupid mistakes, which I already knew before Peanut Tillman's unforgivably unnecessary roughness penalty (which led to a Minnesota field goal), Fred Miller's roundhouse swing at Jayme Mitchell (which killed a drive) and a Garrett Wolfe holding penalty (which shortened a good return in the final minutes).

Pompous, insightful Mariotti continues to hammer home that he KNOWS the things that casual fans observe every fucking game. This better not keep going on much sarcasm is waning.

Oh, I can hear the giddy amnesiacs now. The Bears made the Vikings sweat, which can serve as a confidence builder for 2008.

What giddy amnesiacs think the team will say to itself next year, "Hey guys, we can do it! Remmeber last year when we were 5-8 and almost beat the 7-6 Vikings? If we can do that, we can do anything!"

Apparently Jay thinks that there are dumbass blowhards out there stupider than he is.

Bad news about that, Jay.....

So It was for the best that they lost, if only to subdue the would-be nonsense that their future isn't so shaky after all.

Again...if the Bears win, they become 6-8. The difference between 6-8 and 5-9 is not enough to change anyone's opinion about how "shaky" the Bears future will be.

The Bears, of course, need a quarterback, as they have for most of their existence, with the Donovan McNabb dream still flickering for serious fans after Orton stumbled in his first start in two years. The Bears also need a running back, a revamped offensive line and probably a receiver assuming Bernard Berrian signs elsewhere, which makes sense with his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, prowling in the hallway near midnight. The Bears will need to address the likely departure of Lance Briggs (another Rosenhaus client), problems in the secondary and whether Urlacher -- who was great -- still can be a consistent, healthy season-long monster.

All of which, you understand, is pretty easy, given Jay's excellent advice in "Offseason Sports Team Management For Dummies". Here are the main principles.

1) Sign every free agent. It don't matter what he costs, kids.
2) Trade for everybody good. You don't need to consider contracts or what you're giving up. Just beat the other teams to your guy!
3) In baseball, you have to make "bigger" moves than the team on the other side of town to be considered a success, NOT (and this is a common misconception) the moves that maximize the use of your resources.

When Peterson slipped past a blocked Briggs and scored to give Minnesota a seven-point lead with 10:50 left, tell me: Did anyone think Orton could win the game? He had a couple of impressive moments in the first half, but he was seen flipping his helmet on the sideline when the offense turned sickly in the second half.

Yes. I thought Orton could win the game. It was a possibility. There was a chance that he would repeat the impressive first half moments. And let's not forget that the ball was being moved pretty well before that fatal interception on Kyle's final 40-something yard bomb.

How many times do I have to say it?

1273. I don't even care what you're about to say. I bet you'll repeat it 1273 times.

Rex Grossman can't play. Brian Griese can't play. Kyle Orton can't play.

You were singing a different tune about Griese earlier this season, but more to the point....

What is your goal in saying this? What should the Bears be doing? Do you think there's some other quarterback they could be playing right now? What kind of insight can you offer that the loud, fat 45-year-old at the game sitting behind behind me can't? This isn't a sports column. This is just a bitchfest.

I'll end with a legitimately funny quote that Jay the Entertainer put in this column about Lance Briggs.

Briggs is accused by the mother of his 3-month-old baby of not paying sufficient child support and getting at least two other women pregnant.

"I have had an open-door policy toward parenting," Brittini Tribbett, 21, told the Sun-Times. "Lance has apparently had an open-pants policy toward paternity."

Nevermind. I'm not ending with that. I just read the last line of the column.

This season was dead before it started.

Shut the fuck up. Seriously. Shut the fuck up. This is a team that went to the Super Bowl last year and only had one major loss in the offsesason, middle-of-the-road running back Thomas Jones (who, by the way, has been worth a whopping 7.5 more yards per game and an astronomical 0.2 more yards per carry this year than perpetual scapegoat Cedric Benson was before his injury). How can you POSSIBLY, in a million bajillion years, say that this was a season that was dead before it started??? Are you fucking claiming that before Sunday, September 9, 2007, that this Bears team had ZERO chance of going anywhere???

It's a fucking disgrace that words you type hit the presses in any newspaper, let alone the second biggest newspaper in one of the biggest cities in the United States of America.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Don't Ever Watch NBC's "Football Night In America"

It's their pregame show for "Sunday Night Football." It features Bob Costas, Peter King, and Keith Olberman reviewing highlights of all the afternoon's NFL action. And it's absolutely atrocious. Costas is Costas- I like him a lot during the Olympics, but could do without him pretty much any other time. He makes for a capable frontman but gives off a very strong "bored" vibe. That's a bad thing. If I'm handing out grades, which I am, he gets a C-. King is King- he's actually a lot more tolerable on screen than in print. On "Football Night in America," he spends less time than usual cooing about Brett Favre and Tom Brady and more time just giving analysis, which is obviously a step in the right direction. Still, he doesn't mesh with Costas or Olberman at all. Whenever they defer to him it sounds like his voice is being piped in from a different sound stage and neither of the other guys ever engages him in dialogue. I'll give him a C, but that's only because today he managed to go a whole half hour without calling Brady or Favre "adorable."

Olberman, however, is the real reason I'm making this post. (Grade: F) I guess you could say he's lost a step. In my wistful mind, he'll always be paired alongside Dan Patrick and offering quippy one-liners while calling highlights on Sportscenter as he did five nights a week until 1997. He was fantastic back then. Now? He's completely intolerable. They hired him to do exactly what he used to do; narrate highlights while adding a couple funny one liners here and there. Today, there were two key problems with his attempts to do so. 1) He couldn't keep up with the highlights, and didn't seem to know what was going on in many of them. 2) He was completely and totally unfunny. Here's one example that stuck with me because of how bad it was. During the New Orleans/Arizona game, at one point Kurt Warner fumbled while standing in the pocket. Saints LB Scott Shanle recovered and returned the ball. Olberman:

And the ball is picked up by Shanle! It's a "Shanle Production!" *pause* If anyone gets that reference, I'll buy them something.

If your references are self-admittedly obscure, you suck at your job as a highlight narrator. This one is so obscure I couldn't even decipher it with the help of Google. There's a writer/director somewhere out there named John Patrick Shanley, who is credited on as having a hand in 12 Hollywood productions since 1987 (less than half of which I had heard of). That's my only guess as to who Keith was talking about. If it's correct, that's the lamest shit ever. Olberman and this Shanley guy have to be close friends or something. If it's not correct, then congratulations are in order for Keith. He made a completely and totally indecipherable reference, on national television no less. America appreciates his efforts. And of course, that's just one example. There were many others that were much easier to understand and still fucking stupid. What happened, Keith? Where have you gone? Has becoming a smarmy political commentator robbed you of your ability to tell me what's happening during a football game without sounding like a jackass?

I know, I know- it's not like there are a lot of options when it comes to highlight shows like this one. If you spent Sunday afternoon anywhere but on your couch or in a sports bar, you need to get caught up somewhere as soon as you get home from wherever. All I'm saying is, don't do it on NBC. If you feel like you can't put up 30 minutes of Chris Berman on ESPN's "The Blitz," just go to ESPNews. Those anchors are the JV guys- they're not yet full enough of themselves to try and upstage the highlights with awful jokes. They're just there to calmly say what happened. I speak only for myself, but that's all I'm ever looking for anyways.

Baseball Players Never Grew Up

I recently stumbled upon this blog post by a guy named Jeff Horrigan. In it, he mentions that former Reds catcher Joe Oliver (a classic name from dan-bob's youth and the catcher of the last world champion Reds team) is feeling disgruntled. Here's what Joe said:

What would happen if someone like me decide to have an attorney bring a lawsuit against MLB because the owners and GM’s knew about players juicing and did nothing about it. That would have created an unlevel playing field for players like me to compete. I had to vie for a job every year and now I know it had something to do with certain players having a competitive edge on me.

I don't think the lawsuit would hold a lot of water. But what confuses me is that Joe alleges that the owners and GMs knew about it, but that he didn't. This brings me to the larger point: sure, you got screwed, Joe... but as much as the owners and GMs tolerated it, so did the culture of the players tolerate it. Baseball players are some of the most immature athletes; a lot of them never even started college. Their player culture is famously closed (see the story of Jim Bouton's Ball Four). One wonders how many scores of clean players like Joe were aware of the level of abuse, but never said a word. Got to toe the line. Don't break the code.

“I spent all that time in the early hours running and lifting weights, these guys would shoot up and be done and get stronger, faster, and the owners knew who they were and the GM’s knew who they were. Every time I argued for a contract, I was competing with juiced catchers in the same boat looking for a job. They got the higher paying jobs and I got screwed.

Yep. You got screwed, Joe. You did get screwed, but just as much by your own players' culture as the management's willful ignorance. At least now you're not on the list, Joe. The players won't suffer repercussions due to the strength of the players' union [see how successful the game is? gotta feed the beast -ahem, the players]. It's hard for anyone to check the arrogance and collective power of a group of young men who, while making millions for themselves, also generate millions for the owners and for their cities.

The losers, as usual, are the fans and the Joe Olivers of the world. With apologies to Green Day and the Leo Durocher, "Nice Guys Who Didn't Take Steroids Finish Last in Contract Negotiations".

Friday, December 14, 2007

A New Milestone in Blogging Laziness

Blogging is an amazingly lazy process. Example: I was about ready to go to bed and realized that it's been an extremely long time since I have voiced opinions in a post. So here I am, it's 1:15, and instead of holding my breath in anticipation of the forecasted six inches of snow that will bring the Saint Louis area to a screeching halt tomorrow, I went trolling the blogosphere for somebody with a Doug Weight/Andy McDonald trade post that I could carve up.

Enter St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter Jeremy Rutherford.

He reports hockey news and painstakingly handcrafts a blog for the P-D sports section. So, Jeremy, can you weigh in on the trade for us?

I’ve got a house full of people over for a Christmas party, so instead of blogging, I will post the story that I wrote for tomorrow’s Post-Dispatch

Oh, sorry. Wouldn't want to keep you from showing your article to your friends. My apologies. Go back to your cheese balls, and we'll touch base with you later.

The article really isn't bad, I guess. It's really just a bunch of facts. And who would want to read that in a newspaper, right? I hear a foghorn off in the distance... BOOOOOOR-INNNNNNNG.

Now please, somebody tell me that I'm inherently lazier than Mr. Rutherford for only boldfacing one sentence.

Ombudsman? More Like OmbudsWOman

I'm not trying to be some crazy, oversensitive, Birkenstock-wearing hyperliberal cootbag. I've just always thought it was weird how when a female gets a job that traditionally is titled with the suffix -man, you don't change it to -woman. If a lady who works for the USPS delivers your mail, can't you call her a "postwoman?" Is that so wrong? And fuck all that politically correct crap about changing the suffix to something gender neutral like -person. Foreperson, repairperson, and milkperson don't roll off the tongue. I just want to use "man" when it's a dude and "woman" when it's a chick. Simple as that.

Wait, what were we talking about again?

Oh yeah. LeAnne Schreiber is amazing. I'd even say that as far as my interest in blogging/sportswriting goes, she's my idol. If you haven't heard of her, she's ESPN's Ombudsman. (That still sounds funny to me but whatever.) She writes a monthly online column for their website which is basically a review of something the World Wide Leader did recently that elicited a lot of criticism or discussion. Recently she's addressed their handling of Barry Bonds's indictment, the Joe Torre melodrama, and Sean Taylor's death. Her tone is often critical, as it should be considering how shitty the product ESPN puts out often is, but it's also fair and objective. She's like a professional, non-angry, non-profane version of us who comments on a network as a whole rather than individual articles. If I'm allowed to define her as a journalist, she's easily my favorite anywhere on teh whole wide interwebs. Here's a link to her archive at ESPN; please read her last few articles if you haven't already. You'll understand why I'm hyping her up so much.


Thursday, December 13, 2007

Official Fire Jay Mariotti Mitchell Report Thread

*EDIT* works now.

I know this isn't what we're all about here at FireJay, but this is a pretty significant event, and I think some discussion could be fun and interesting. For those of you who haven't seen the Mitchell report yet, you can do so here. A bunch of the players cited can be found in boldface type from like pages 180 through the 200s.

Several of the names on the list made me laugh out loud.

Glenallen Hill....that one should have been obvious, but it never occurred to me.

Larry Bigbie.....he was perpetually terrible, yet next to David Segui he seemed to be the most enthusiastic guy about using steroids.

Probably the funniest one for me to see was Jim Parque. As a White Sox fan, I've seen quite a bit of Jim Parque....a diminuitive, skinny pitcher who threw really hard for a person his size.

Although the Mitchell Report is long, if you read it closely, some things are actually pretty how Benito Santiago ran away in fear of a drug test and the excruciatingly unnecessary story of Roger Clemens having some guy inject steroids into his ass.

Thoughts? Any players on the list particularly funny or shocking to anyone?

I'm Tired So This Is All You're Going To Get

I can't get full 100% confirmation on this, but a trusted source of FireJay was watching the Jazz/Suns game on ESPN earlier tonight. He claims that one of the announcers at one point celebrated a Steve Nash assist by claiming that Nash is "underrated." If this is true, that is dumbest thing that has been said about an athlete in years, or maybe ever. I don't think anyone who has covered the NBA during the past four or five years has underrated Steve Nash at any point. No one. None of them. Everything Nash touches turns to gold. He's completely un-criticizable. He's like basketball's answer for David Eckstein. (They're both white... they're both short... They're both constantly hyped by the media... I'm just saying.) Saying Nash is underrated is like saying Victor Zambrano is overrated.

On the other hand, if this tip is not true and that announcer actually said something else, I am basically printing lies in my blog. Is that illegal?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

WMTMQR: Gregg Easterbrook Is Still Very Wrong About Clock Management

I haven't done a WMTMQR in a while because Easterbrook has somewhat cleaned up his act recently. This has probably happened because he reads my scathing commentary and takes it to heart. But he tried to sneak a couple giant slices of crap pie into this week's column, so I might as well complain about them.

In other football news, would New England actually be better off losing Sunday against Jersey/B? If the Patriots beat the Jets, they lock in the No. 1 seed and home-field advantage throughout the postseason. Then, with two meaningless regular-season outings and a bye week, a full month will pass until Jan. 12, the earliest date the Flying Elvii could appear in another game that counts. Consider New England's last three regular-season opponents: the 3-10 Jets, the 0-13 Dolphins and a Giants squad that might be resting starters. Even the mad-at-the-world Pats could have trouble maintaining focus for an entire meaningless month. Meanwhile, Dallas is in almost the same situation as New England. With effectively a two-game lead over Green Bay -- owing to beating the Pack head-to-head -- through the final three weeks, the Cowboys need only a combination of Dallas wins and Green Bay losses that adds up to two to lock up home-field advantage in the NFC. Thus, Boys faithful actually might root for Green Bay to beat St. Louis on Sunday -- otherwise it's possible the Boys could lock up the top seed this weekend, and face a meaningless month of their own.

Oh yeah, definitely. I think think both of these teams should intentionally lose their next two games and hope Indy and Green Bay win both of theirs. That way, the Cowboys and Pats will have something at stake during week 17. That's a great strategy. No way that could possibly blow up in their faces. Or maybe Gregg is saying they should just lose this weekend, and then win to wrap up home field in week 16. Because, you know, a three week layoff from "meaningful" games is totally different than a 4 week layoff. Someone get this man a head coaching position.

It's been mentioned by commenters here before: do the "stats of the week" really add to anyone's enjoyment or understanding of football? Below, I have added a made up stat about my own life that I consider to be equally as interesting as what Gregg offers.

Stat of the Week No. 3: Since taking the field for their final playoff appearances last season, a combined 28-6 at that point, the Bears and Ravens are a combined 9-19.

Stat of Larry B's Week No. 1: Since choosing the fastest checkout lane at the supermarket twelve out of a possible fifteen times during a stretch that ended last January, Larry has chosen the fastest lane only two out of thirteen times.

Stat of the Week No. 6: Kansas City was outrushed by 199 yards.

Stat of Larry B's Week No. 2: Larry parallel parked his car four times.

Stat of the Week No. 8: In high school, college and now the pros, Derek Anderson is 3-1 as a starter against Kellen Clemens.

Stat of Larry B's Week No. 3: Including high school, college, and now post-college, Larry is 23-18 in pickup football games against Chris Hart.

Stat of the Week No. 9: At the end of the Cleveland-Jersey/B game, the Jets attempted three onside kicks in less than three minutes.

Stat of Larry B's Week No. 4: On Friday, Larry attempted to complete five transactions at the bank during their last seven minutes of business.

Tell me mine aren't better.

Sweet Special-Teams Plays of the Week: Trailing 17-3 with 10 minutes remaining, San Diego punted on fourth-and-29 at the Tennessee 40. Chargers special-teamers downed the ball at the Titans' 1, then the defense forced a three-and-out. Quick San Diego touchdown, and suddenly it's a game.

Although I will concede that converting a 4th and 29 is next to impossible, I can't count the number of times Gregg has bitched about teams punting from their opponent's territory while trailing in the 4th quarter. Now it's suddenly a good thing, as long as the team that does it subsequently forces a 3 and out. Had the Titans somehow put together a game icing field goal drive after this punt, I'm reasonably confident Easterbrook would have made some dumb point about how no matter the distance, punting in the 4th when you're trailing and in your opponent's territory is always bad.

Yes, I'm nitpicking. It's what we do here.

Dallas has reached the Detroit 16 with 22 seconds showing on the clock. To that point in the game, Boys tight end Jason Witten had 14 receptions for 122 yards. This is what is called "a clue."

What does that even mean? As if the Cowboys didn't have anyone else to throw to on that play. Assuming Marion Barber was in the game, he had 10 catches for 61 yards including an 8 yard touchdown at the end of the 1st half. Maybe that was "a clue." T.O. also has 74 catches for 1270 yards and 14 TDs on the season. That could have been "a clue" as well. Yeah, Witten was getting thrown to a lot during that particular game. That still doesn't guarantee shit on any one given play.

As the Cowboys broke the huddle, TMQ said aloud, "Maybe it's to Witten."

Easy there, Nostradamus. You had a one in five chance. And you didn't even say you knew for sure; you went with "maybe."

Moving on, I hadn't seen this particular demonstration of idiocy out of Gregg in a couple of months. But apparently old habits die hard.

TMQ's Law of the Obvious holds: Sometimes, all a team needs to do is run up the middle for no gain and things will be fine. Leading San Diego 17-10, host Tennessee faced third-and-4 on the Chargers' 46 with 2:37 remaining and San Diego down to one timeout. Run, grind the clock! Instead, incompletion, and San Diego scores to force overtime with nine seconds remaining. Had the Flaming Thumbtacks simply rushed up the middle for no gain, keeping the clock moving, the Chargers would have run out of time.

No. That is wrong. You can't say that with any certainty at all. You have no idea what would have happened if the Titans ran there. None. You have no idea how San Diego's play calling would have changed on their possession if they had 37 fewer seconds to work with. BOOOOOOO.

When Roger Goodell fined the Patriots a first-round choice in the Beli-Cheat scandal, it was New England's first-rounder, not the San Francisco choice acquired in trade, that Goodell voided. Belichick obtained San Francisco's first choice fair and square, and his decision to bank that choice reflects the wise husbandry New England has shown consistently under current management. Still, if the Patriots win the Super Bowl, then go second in the 2008 draft after Goodell publicly imposed what sounded like a harsh draft penalty, the situation will seem rigged, even if it isn't.

I hate the Patriots as much as anyone, but what the hell is the point of this? That's the item's conclusion: The Patriots have lost their own 1st rounder this April, but still possess another team's 1st rounder, which will probably be a top 5 pick. Even though there is nothing shady about this, it seems shady. What?

At the endgame, Washington led 24-13 and Chicago faced fourth-and-goal on the Redskins' 4 with 34 seconds remaining, holding a timeout. The Bears' faint hope was a touchdown and a two-point play and a field goal, wrapped around a recovered onside kick. Sure, that hope is faint, but to have any chance at all, Chicago needed to try for the touchdown first. Assume the onside kick will be recovered and the deuce will work. At the 34-second mark, the Bears were just 4 yards from a touchdown. If they go for the touchdown here, they need to gain 4 yards and -- after the deuce and the recovered onside, likely to be recovered just on their side of midfield -- will need to gain about 25 yards to attempt the field goal that forces overtime. Thus, Chicago needs about 30 offensive yards, plus success with the deuce and the onside, of course. If, on the other hand, the Bears take the field goal here, they must score a touchdown after the onside and will need to gain about 55 offensive yards to do so. So to keep the faint hope of victory aflame, the team should go for the touchdown first in this situation because it already is close to the goal line and, if successful with the onside, can launch the field goal try for long distance. Yet Lovie Smith ordered the field goal first. When this happens, it is fairly obvious the coach is not going all out to try to win but rather is taking the easy three points to make the final score more respectable and deflect criticism. (Washington got the onside.)

I agree that kicking there was probably bad strategy. I would have elected to go for the TD in that situation. But it's not like Smith's decision is completely indefensible. To accuse him of not really trying to win is laughable. I mean, let me play devil's advocate. Easterbrook's claim about the yards the Bears needed in each hypothetical situation was correct, but didn't factor in the number of plays the team would get in order to gain said yards. Had they recovered the onside after kicking the field goal, they would have had probably about three or four plays (maybe five) to get the 55 yards needed for the tying TD. That's pretty unlikely but not impossible. Sure, had they instead gone for it on 4th and gotten the touchdown, they would have had three or four plays to get a mere 25/30 yards needed for the tying field goal. But that opportunity only arrives after putting the entire game on the line for four yards on one play against a compressed defense. Failure, obviously, would have ended everything before an onside attempt even becomes part of the equation. So although I disagree with the decision, I can definitely see why Smith chose to kick. TMQ just loves implying that coaches care more about the margin of victory than their won-loss record; he's done it many times before this. It's pretty comical. When he's being evaluated by his owner/GM at the end of a failed season, what coach actually gets points for saying "Well, I went 5-11 this year, but nine of those losses were by single digits!" That's ridiculous and does not happen. Coaches are judged first and foremost on Ws and Ls. To imply anything else is WRONG. There is absolutely a 0% chance that Smith sent in his field goal team with any thought in mind other than "I think this gives us the best chance to win." Zero.

Speaking of WRONG, I think I'll wrap this up and attach the labels. And speaking of labels, don't you all love the kooky and zany labels we sometimes use here at FireJay? They're soooooooo silly! We can't quite match up with the juggernauts of the absurd label world like Kissing Suzy Kolber, but I think we do alright for ourselves. I think for this post I'll re-use a couple of the wackiest ones we've already got, just for the hell of it. Get ready to laugh at something that's not really overly funny!