Monday, March 31, 2008

Ebert, Roeper, and Morgan

Joe, during tonight's Twins/Angels game, re: Bull Durham:

That's one of the greatest movies ever made about the minor leagues.

Are you sure? Boy, that's going out on a limb. Do you really want to stick it up there with Brewster's Millions? What about Major League III? And don't forget Bleacher Bums, with that unfunny pud Brad Garrett. I guess if you really wanted to stretch it, you could call Bull Durham one of the top 25 minor league-centric movies ever. But expect some resistance to that inclusion from serious movie aficionados.

Herez you're bonus punchedline!!!!!!!1111:

I bet Joe would call Babe Ruth one of the best home run hitters of the 1920s.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

John Kruk Stays The Course

Krukie, earlier today offering his prediction for who will win the NL Central this year:

I like the Cubs- and I've been saying this since day one.

It is day one, jackass. Or day five, I guess, if you want to be picky about those A's/Red Sox games. I guess he probably meant "since the beginning of spring training." That's still like picking a team to win the NCAA tourney when the brackets get announced, watching them beat East Bumfuck State A&M in the first round, and then reaffirming the pick as if you're going out on a limb by sticking to your guns.

In an unrelated story, it's been tough to keep holding on to this one, but I've still got Andrew W.K. as my pick for douchiest one hit wonder of the 21st century.

Baseball Is Back!

But that's no reason for this puff piece from HatGuy.

At last, our lovable pastime, is here again

We're in the title, and already HatGuy is having annoying grammar disorders.

There is no better team game than this most American of sports

Ironic that baseball is largely an individual game, eh?

It is a game of geometry,

This is the way we're starting out a "baseball is awesome" column? "It is a game of geometry???" Yeah, there's shapes....there's like....lines....and diamonds (funny story about diamonds...they're like tilted squares!), and spheres too!

ESPN trailer: Get ready for some geometrical action right here on ESPN tomorrow at 1 PM when the Hexagons duel it out with the Tetrahedrons!

a game of subtlety,

That's is pretty freakin straightforward in both rules and analysis.

a game of power, a game of strategy, a game of speed

Very yes, less yes, much less yes.

a game of skill

Wow. This is what separates baseball from.....sitting in a fucking garage and flipping a coin.

a game of deception, a game of visual beauty.

Yes, and aw what the hell, who doesn't think baseball is beautiful?

It is baseball, and there is no better team game than this most American of sports.

You said that already.

Football is more popular. Basketball, when played as we’ve seen in the NCAA tournament, is terrifically exciting.

Bitch slap: NBA and NCAA basketball regular season.

Hockey is jam-packed with collisions and breathtaking speed. Soccer is a passion bred like religion into its fans from before they are even aware that they are alive.

But baseball is the best.

Now HatGuy. No matter how much I agree with you, you have to accept that this is an opinion and not pure fact.

We remind ourselves of this truth

No. No. No. No. No.

as we do every year when the calendar reaches April, and the game that will carry us through spring and summer and into fall begins its languid journey.

HatGuy: ::runs into his editor's office, sees note that says, "Dear bastard Hattigan. I am sick of looking at your fedora, and have left to work for Jay Mariotti of the Chicago Sun-Times. Sincerely, Jeffrey Conway. 3/24/2005"::

HatGuy: Whatever, my grammar's perfect through spring and summer and into fall begins its languid journey. I don't need Jeffrey.

If the sun is shining on opening day, there is a thrill to the sight of the sharp white lines that outline an emerald diamond populated by figures in unblemished uniforms.

"Optimist in March" -- a poem by Edgar Allen Celizic.

Football is a game of drives and marches.

Uh huh....

Basketball is one of possessions.

So is football.

Baseball is one of anticipation and journeys.

I now see the difference between these three sports. Thank you, Mike.

Bart Giamatti, the former commissioner of baseball, wrote eloquently about that journey that begins with the batter standing at home, trying first to leave it and then to get back — to be safe once again at home. For him, it was a grand metaphor of life, this circuitous journey that could be fraught with danger and obstacles, that could demand daring and bravery to complete.

::sniff:: That's just beautiful.

The ball itself is just the agent of play. In other games, you score by putting the ball — or the puck — somewhere important. In baseball, you score by putting the players somewhere important. Even when you hit a home run, the ball itself doesn’t score. Its journey out of the field of play merely gives the players a free pass to go home again.

I don't know about the rest of you lunatics, but this is why normal people like me and Mike Celizic find baseball so fascinating.

Then there is the anticipation of baseball, the gradual build-up to moments of critical mass that the savvy fan can see coming.

Like, say, that late-game 3-pointer that crushes the enemy team, or the field goal attempt as time winds down in football with your team down by 2?

You can look ahead in baseball as you can’t in any other sport.

He's about to list examples. I am going to give you a literally parallel basketball example for each.

Count the outs remaining,

Count the minutes remaining.

figure out what your team needs to do to get its big guns up

Figure out what your team needs to do to free up your best player for shots.

check the pitch count, estimate when the bullpen is going to have to get involved.

Check the "minutes played" stat for players, and also "fouls", estimate when bench players are going to have to step in for starters.

Your superstar in any other sport is a constant threat to score. In baseball, you have to wait your turn, and there’s something really cool about that. That’s one reason it’s so much fun to play. Even the worst player on the team gets his times at bat, and the worst player in the field will discover that the ball will find him. Unlike other sports, you can’t hide your weaknesses; everybody on the field is important, everybody can be there at the critical moment when the game is won or lost.

What HatGuy is saying here is technically true. But one bad offensive lineman can derail your offense in football. Also, one bad defensive player can be absolutely abused in basketball. So yeah, there's something cool about the worst hitter in the lineup needing to bad with the game on the line, but it's not like you can just hide your weaknesses in other sports.

The rest isn't terrible, but it does offer a description of Celizic visiting for the first time and getting himself horribly confused in things he doesn't understand.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Jeff Pearlman Wants Rick Reilly's Job

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, the ultimate puff piece. It's by FJayM favorite, Jeff Pearlman. It's pretty much an exact recap of my first post on this blog, where I satirized Rick Reilly columns for being overly sentimental. The problem with any satire is that someone just might take you seriously. You have to wonder if one poor Irish baby actually ended up dinner thanks to that Swift asshole.

Anyways. To the article!

The other day I submitted a column to my editor that was lathered in snark. That's pretty much all I've been shooting off lately -- one snarky piece after another. It's a trap writers fall into from time to time.

"Snark" is a word invented by Lewis Carroll to describe an imaginary animal. Just because "snarky" is an adjective doesn't mean you can say that you lathered your column in snark, unless you've just slain a Jabberwocky.

We start to believe opining on the negatives of sports is more fruitful than opining on the positives. So we unload on steroids and dumb jocks and David Carr and Pittsburgh's middle relief, quite certain that's what you, the customer, covets.

Not only do we at Fire Jay Mariotti covet just that, we actually produce just that when you writers fail to supply it. Actually, even when you opine on the positives, Jeff, some asshole on the internet will probably make a blog post criticizing your word choices.

"There's a fine line between being cynical and coming across as bitter," my editor said. "The readers are turned off by bitter, and I believe it makes them a lot less likely to read future pieces of yours."

I know for a fact that larry b is turned on by bitter, and I suspect chris w is as well. In fact, I suspect that 95% of this blog's readers are turned on by bitter - that's what brings them here.

Although it doesn't always show, I love sports. Love them.

Actually, Jeff, so do we.

I love walking into the Toronto Blue Jays' clubhouse and finding Sal Fasano -- the ultimate baseball survivor -- standing there with a goofy smile and tobacco juice dripping down his chin.

Disagree. Jon Lester is the ultimate baseball survivor.

I love watching the David Tyree catch on YouTube over and over again. I love little guys who have no business being here: Spud Webb, Harry Chappas, Theo Fleury.

What the hell? No Eckstein?

Also: you're wrong, Jeff. Just because they're little doesn't mean they have no business being here! If they really had no business being there, you can bet that the GMs wouldn't have hired them to play sports, because GMs don't really give a shit about advancing the cause of undersized people everywhere, they just care about winning games!

-- at this point, Jeff goes on a weird memory trip about his high school track team. Weird.

I love what this job has allowed me to witness. Tony Gwynn leading his Padres teammates back onto the field to thank the fans after winning the 1998 NLCS. Robin Ventura's walk-off grand slam single. Luis Gonzalez smoking one up the middle.

There's no way that Gonzo "smoked one" up the middle. Here's where being overly sentimental about things actually influences your memory. Here's VIDEO EVIDENCE of my point:

(fast forward to the 3:45 mark if you don't have time for all of it)

See? The announcers describe it as "floated" - it was a little bloop at best. I realize I'm being nitpicky - overanalyzing one of Jeff's verbs - but it's stuff like that that annoys the hell out of me. You know you're being overly sentimental when you describe a texas leaguer as being "smoked".

[Also, if you listen to the whole YouTube thing, Tim McCarver makes the most salient point I've ever heard him make - immediately before Gonzo's at-bat. I hadn't seen this clip since I watched it live six years ago - but I'm actually kind of impressed. Way to go, Tim!]

I love that I once interviewed Lou Piniella while he was simultaneously urinating, smoking a cigarette and eating a hoagie.

Jeff: TMI.

I love sports names. I love Taylor Coppenrath, Orlando Woolridge, Dewon Brazelton and Alge Crumpler. I love Coco Crisp, Flozell Adams, I.M. Hipp and Mike Augustyniak. I love Nuu Faaola even more than I love Mosi Tatupu, but not quite as much as I love Niko Noga.

Everyone likes good sports names, except larry b who just yesterday complained that he doesn't care what anyone is named. Larry b is a cynical asshole.

Just for the heck of it: Snuffy Stirnweiss.

[This guy has a good list of the good ones in baseball. ]

Jeff, everyone loves sports as much as you do. Even the bitter, cynical people who write blogs like this one. But everyone (should) hate overly sentimental sports pieces, just like this one. Don't turn into Rick Reilly.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Simmons, Bill: Munch, Ass

I will say this about the Sports Guy: he knows a hell of a lot more about basketball than he does about football or baseball. Given that fact, you'd think he'd be able to write a semi-coherent Basketball Blog entry. Of course, you'd be wrong.

I spent the weekend lounging around the Sports Guy Mansion, watching college basketball and waiting for the Milwaukee Bucks to contact me about their suddenly vacant GM job. You're not going to believe this, but they never did. And you know what? I can't spend the next few weeks checking my e-mails 300 times a day and jumping every time the phone rings waiting for the Bucks to come to their senses and interview the one guy who'd actually generate some interest in the franchise...

Things that Bill has a point about in regards to his quarter serious/three quarters joking pursuit of an NBA GM job:

1) There are a lot of dumb GMs out there right now. So it's not beyond the realm of possibility that a guy off the street with no formal sports management experience could do just as good a job as some of those idiots.

Things that make Bill sound like an idiot in regards to said pursuit:

1) He's just generally stupid. A copout as my first point, of course, but I'm feeling uncreative tonight.

2) Sad as it may seem, not every GM out there makes decisions based solely on the merit of whether or not that decision makes the team better in either the short or long term. Sometimes they do what the owner tells them to, because the owner thinks the decision in question will help the franchise put butts in seats and generate revenue in the short term. If a washed up guy gets a huge contract, it's not necessarily because the team thinks he's not washed up. It might be because the team considers the contract a good investment. No, it doesn't necessarily make sense. Yes, it is the way sports work.

3) Real GMing is nothing like this: "Why do teams never make trades that make perfect sense for all parties involved? Team A can send Players G and K to Team B. Team B sends their 2010 first round pick (top four protected) to Team A and Player Q to team C. Team C sends Player M to Team A (to make the cap work), three future 2nd round picks (top 45 protected) to Team B, and throws in $500,000 in cash and a Faberge egg. Look at this simplistic and mostly wrong explanation of how it helps all of them! If anyone can come up with any reason as to why this shouldn't happen, I'd love to hear it." *Smugly crosses arms and smirks*

It's really cute how he can come up with imaginary fifteen player/six team trades all the time. But I'm pretty sure those are a tad bit difficult to pull off in real life. Even his two team/handful of player ideas are often poorly justified. The reason so few trades happen is not because the league has become the (acronym joke alert!) "No Balls Association." It's because it's extremely difficult to find trades that truly, actually benefit all parties involved. It's not fantasy sports, where teamwork and chemistry don't matter and where it's easy to see exactly how much a trade helps a team get better in certain categories. Bill's inability to understand this would undoubtedly lead to the tragic early termination of his job. How would it be tragic? I'll leave that to your imagination.

If your team had a creative, enterprising, thinking-out-of-the-box bone in their lottery-ridden body, it would have jumped on my "candidacy" quickly and tried to milk a few weeks of P.R. out of it. Why?


They could have made me think I had a real chance at the job, put me through the interview process, added me to the final list of candidates, then given the position to someone else in the end. That's a savvy move, right? Throw in the one-in-a-thousand chance that I'd impress the hell out of them and somehow get the job and it's the proverbial no-brainer -- just to get their fans chattering, they should have contacted me and thrown my name in the mix, even if they didn't really mean it. That's why the average Bucks fan should be thinking to themselves right now, "Wow, we're such a mess right now that we couldn't even figure out how to cash in on some easy P.R."

Totally awesome. What a bodaciously rad idea. Maybe they could also have a car wash or bake sale to raise some money to build a new arena!

I bet Bill Veeck is rolling over in his grave at the lameness of this idea. Being at the center of a bizarre and not-nearly-as-interesting-as-the-guy-who-conceptualized-it-thinks-it-is publicity stunt: a chance every struggling franchise should jump at! Or not.

Anyway, since the Bucks refuse to acknowledge my candidacy, it looks like I'm going to have to shift to Plan B: Openly and frequently torturing them. Stay tuned.

Openly and frequently torturing them? I'm sitting right here, man. I can hear everything you're saying.

In the meantime, allow me five extended thoughts on the first two rounds of March Madness:

1. There were five astounding things about the first round in Anaheim. First, the arena didn't serve any alcohol for the entire day. That's just un-American and I can't even come up with an adequate reaction of disgust for this decision.

It wasn't a decision made anytime recently, or about just the Anaheim regional of the 2008 tournament. His ignorance as to how NCAA athletics work is really shining through. I guess I can't blame him- he didn't grow up caring about college sports. He had his beloved Sawks. And his dad was a Celtics season ticket holder! Did you know that? I bet you didn't. And, of course, it goes without saying that he spent every fall loyally cheering for his beloved Patriots, who he's been a huge fan of since he was a small child. Wait, did I just say "since he was a small child?" Sorry. Just like with 90% of Boston-area natives, I meant to say he's been a huge fan of them "since the late 90s."

Second, everyone was forced to leave the arena between the first session (the first two games) and the second session (the last two games), which would have been fine if we were in downtown Boston or downtown Chicago, but, um ... we were in Anaheim. Half the arena spilled into the only bar/restaurant within a three-block vicinity, shattering the record for "most customers per waitress" and threatening to become the biggest mob scene in California since the Rodney King riots.

Too soon!

And third, everyone at that same bar had more fun drinking and watching the K-State/USC and Duke/Belmont games on TV than anything we witnessed in our four games. It's absolutely incredible how many people despise Duke and how the entire place galvanized behind Belmont at the end like it was the 1980 Olympic hockey team. If Belmont had pulled off the upset victory, there's a 25 percent chance that we'd still be there drinking and celebrating four days later.

Whoa there, Mr. Emasculated. How would your wife feel about that one? I don't think she'd be too fond of that crazy idea. And remember, you've got kids too! Remember? Your kids, that you always fucking talk about? I do. They're awesome. And they help you come up with little jokes about how smelly diapers are and how terrified you are for your daughter to reach dating age! You know who really tells it like it is? That cartoon strip For Better Or For Worse. Oh man! Raising kids isn't all it's cracked up to be, is it? Sorry. I'm done.

As for the fourth astounding thing, we happened to be sitting near the Cornell section for the Cornell-Stanford blowout and saw fans wearing Cornell jerseys and red paint. You have to love March Madness if only for the thought of someone buying a Cornell jersey five years ago and saying, "Some day, we'll make the NCAAs and I'll get to wear this thing during a 40-point blowout."

How astounding. Fans of a team. Attending a game in which their team is playing. Wearing their team's apparel. Folks, you can't make this stuff up.

But all of those astounding things paled in comparison to the Cornell cheerleaders, a group that apparently was assembled hastily within 48 hours of the tournament. During the first half, they tried to do one of those pseudo-pyramids in which two groups of three girls lifted two other girls in the air, only one of the girls lost her balance and nearly tumbled face-first to her death before the other girls somehow caught her. Unfortunately, they had to finish their routines...


And, we're back!

...poor girl lost control of her bowels on the three girls holding her up. Just kidding. Again, you have to love March Madness.

That story was so bad, I feel like claiming I found ten dollars after just listening to it.

2. The biggest tournament shocker for me: The "powerful" Pac-10 failing to live up to the hype, keeping just three teams alive in the first round and then having two of those teams nearly get toppled in the second round.

They only got three teams into the Sweet 16? Pussies. I hear the WAC got seven. The Big Sky, even in a down year, got twelve. Now, admittedly, the Pac-1o didn't exactly set the world on fire as a whole. But their three best teams took care of business, two of them beating medium-strong Big East teams in the second round. I don't think they fell pathetically short or anything. At least they're not the ACC.

3. Speaking of the draft, did anyone else find it interesting that Texas A&M's DeAndre Jordan was ranked 10-15 spots ahead of Love on every draft board for most of this season, but when they crossed on Saturday night Love dominated on both ends down the stretch while Jordan looked like the illegitimate son of Kwame Brown and Darko Milicic? You're telling me that Love isn't one of the best 10 prospects in this draft? Really? What else needs to happen?

1) Love's supporting cast might be just a little bit more talented than Jordan's, which may under some circumstances possibly affect how good each player looks when they square off head-to-head. Perhaps.

2) NBA draft boards are made based off of estimations as to how good players will be in the NBA. They are not made based off of estimations as to how good players were in college. This is why Trajan Langdon should have never been a Cleveland Cavalier.

3) It's worth noting that Bill is from Boston and Kevin Love is white. Am I directly saying anything? No. Am I implying something? Absolutely. Did I borrow the concept of aggressively playing up Boston's racism from Kissing Suzy Kolber? Maaaayyyyyyyyybe. (Jeff, and any other cool Boston readers we might have, you know I'm not talking about you. Just the kind of people that think Wes Welker is better than Randy Moss, or that Bird was as good as Jordan.)

4. Most common question from the past four days: Does Texas qualify for the Ewing Theory? Of course it does. I may be drinking the Kevin Durant Kool-Aid, but he's never won anything and Texas is doing better without him. These are the facts.

Bill is not just drinking Kevin Durant Kool-Aid. He's fucking swimming in it. He's got an IV of it running directly through his skull and into his brain. Remember all the shit he said about Durant between March and June of last year? It got ridiculous. Bill just fell head over heels for the guy. Why? Because he turned on his TV a couple times earlier in the season, saw Durant lighting it up, and decided he was the future savior of the then-struggling Celtics. That's basically it- I'm not going to link the columns, but if you read Simmons regularly, you shouldn't have any trouble agreeing. That's basically it. Durant hung 30+ on a couple of teams in December and January... Bill saw those games... the Celtics were likely to have a good shot at the top pick in the draft... and that was that. Durant was going to be the guy Bill could cheer for for the next 15 years. OK, fine, fair enough. Durant will probably end up being a great pro. His rookie season is going well. But here's the problem- earlier in this same article, in a section about the stupid Bucks thing I omitted, Bill claims:

If you're expecting the lottery to change things, know that there isn't a prospect in the 2008 draft who could be the best player on a championship contender with the possible exception of Michael Beasley (who has a little too much Glenn Robinson/Derrick Coleman in him for my liking).

Oh, OK. Even though Beasley is a better shooter (52% FGs vs. 47%), better in the post (stronger and quicker), and at least as good of a rebounder (12.4 per game vs. 11.1) as Durant, let's go ahead and slap the ol' "semi-bust" sticker on him right now. Why? Because the Celtics don't need a future savior anymore, and as a result, Bill has no reason to glom onto an obvious future star as he plays out his first and only NCAA season. It has nothing to do with the players in question, or former players they may or may not resemble. Switch the years each of them appeared on the scene, and Bill's drinking the Beasley Kool-Aid while huffing and puffing about how Durant has a little too much Joe Smith in him for his liking. It's sad- this is the #1 sports columnist on the internet. And we are his readers.

Seriously, though- fuck those two pieces of analysis in their ears. Saying the things he's said about Durant, then turning around and saying Beasley will never be the best player on a top 10 NBA team, is fucking ludicrous.

5. All right, I have to come clean on something.

After watching them multiple times this season and seeing them in person last Thursday, I've become a fan of ... (gulp) ... the Lopez brothers. (I know, I know. It's like you don't even know me anymore.) I'd be the first to admit that everything about them cries "bust" -- the twins gimmick,

Yeah, all those over-hyped sets of twins in NBA history all turned out to be busts. All... one of them. I think that's a sufficient sample size with which to conclude that no twins will ever succeed in the league.

the Stanford pedigree,

Hall of Famers Jim Pollard and George Yardley? Bums. Brevin Knight? Never helped a team in his life. Josh Childress? My grandma could average 12 and 6. (I mean, he's not great, but he's not a bust.)

the androgynous first names,

Bill's not exactly known for his "hard" analysis, but that's kind of strange.

the Jose/Ozzie Canseco talent differential between them--

So... if Robin played like a basketball equivalent of Ozzie Canseco, and Brook played like a basketball equivalent of Jose, who would be a fringe HOFer if not for the roids... that would make them... both busts?

and yet, if you watch them closely and ignore all the fringe stuff,

Like whether or not they have names like "Chris" and "Pat,"

you'll realize pretty quickly that these guys are not the next coming of the Collins twins.

Right. Once you get past all that other stuff that doesn't fucking matter.

What's weird is that Brook has been ranked too high (top-three) and Robin has been ranked too low (second round) by the draftniks; Brook might be a better scorer at the college level, but Robin projects well as an energy rebounder/defender in the pros, like a cross between Joakim Noah and Anderson Varejao (right down to his hair).

This might surprise you- here we come to the sentence in this article which actually offends me the most out of any of them. That's right, this is the one that really gets me going. It's pure, unbridled laziness. It's like an even worse derivative of the same phenomenon we see in his comparison of Durant and Beasley. Here's what happened that led to the formation of the second part of this sentence.

1) Bill saw Robin's hair.

2) "Ha ha! That guy has a funny 'doo! What a goofball."

3) "Hmmmmm, kind of looks the hair of two other guys in the NBA- Noah and Varejao."

4) "I kind of want to write about these guys in my next Basketball Blog. Here's what I'll do! Even though his game is not really anything like theirs, mostly because he's bigger and slower than both of them, I'll say that he's going to be like them! Then I'll tie it all back together with the hair thing!"

5) "Should I try to work in name dropping Jimmy Kimmel somewhere in here to make it complete?"

I don't throw the word guarantee around much, but I'm breaking it out here. I gua-ran-fucking-TEE you that this is what happened. I mean, not all the specific words, but the concept. He saw the hair, thought of Varejao and Noah, and then decided that would be sufficient grounds for comparing Lopez's game to theirs. Having lived in the Bay Area (in fact, not more than 15 minutes away from Stanford's campus) all last winter, I have seen Lopez play many times. The comparison of skillsets in question is flat out wrong. It's just factually incorrect. Why does this guy have a job?

Let's get ready for the big finish. This is it, for both Bill and me. I'm not even going to write anything else after I copy and paste this. I think the horrific awkwardness and inexplicable rambling he provides for the ending of his own column will also work out well for me. Ready?

Now, the reason that we're inherently prejudiced against the Lopez twins is simple: They're charter members of the Lindsay Hunter All-Stars for "Athletes with names that make them sound like hot girls." In other words, because their names make them sound like two smoking-hot juniors at an all-girls prep school, it's impossible to take them seriously as NBA prospects. If their names were Dwight Lopez and Isaac Lopez, you'd feel much better about them in the first round. You would. On the flip side, you could argue that O.J. Mayo received so much hype over the past two seasons simply because he had such a fantastic name. Anyway, watch the Lopez twins this week and pretend their names are Dwight and Isaac. You'll feel much better about them.

OK, I lied. Only because I have to rhetorically ask- how the fuck do you end a column like that? You might as well just tell an anecdote about a hilarious phone call you recently shared with your dad/J-Bug/House/Hench.

Lingerie On The Deck!

Someone should kidnap Bill Raftery and Dick Vitale and force them to fight to exhaustion to keep their jobs. Lock them in a tiny room... two men enter, one man leaves after the other taps out. Just like that, NCAA basketball becomes significantly more enjoyable.

A real post to follow later tonight.

Bubbleheaded Optimism Radiates From The Toronto Star

We're now welcoming FireJay newbie, Dave Perkins.

Jays have the pitching to contend

No they don't. Their pitching is playoff caliber, but it doesn't come close to make up for their offensive shortcomings, especially if David Eckstein starts at shortstop over slick-fielding John McDonald. Ground ball pitchers getting hundreds and hundreds of balls slapped Eckstein's way. ACK!

Even with subtractions, the Jays go north with more pitching, front to back, than either the Red Sox or the Yankees, it says here.

It says where? Are you reading from something? If so, this is plagiarism!

Boston has Josh Beckett and his bad back to consider; he didn't fly the 21,000 kilometres to and from Tokyo, possibly because nothing is worse for a bad back than flying.

Beckett will be out of action for a little bit, then most likely he'll be back pitching and awesome.

They also have Curt Schilling on the long-term DL

Good thing they have 6 starters.

DL and are counting heavily on talented kids Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz.

Buchholz is a stud. There's nothing wrong with counting on him. Most likely, he'll be the 2nd best starter on the team this year.

The Yankees are holding their breath on Andy Pettitte's bad back, plus Mike Mussina looked washed-up much of last year.

I'm going to stop you right there. You are arguing for a team containing A.J. Burnett by saying Andy Pettitte has injury problems? Sure, it's a concern, but Andy threw 215 innings last year.

They have outstanding young arms in Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy, but what are the odds all three will come through under intense pressure?

Decent. And the odds that at least two will come through are very, very high.

The Jays have a slight edge in that their young pitchers, namely Dustin McGowan, Shawn Marcum and Jesse Litsch, have more experience than the Boston and Yankee kids.

You're being ridiculous. "Experience" is not an adequate substitute for "skill", and it certainly does not trump it. Hughes, Buchholz, Chamberlain, and Kennedy are all better than those three pitchers.

Kids aside, would you trade Toronto's top three starters – Roy Halladay, A.J. Burnett and McGowan – for the first three of either New York (let's say Chien-Ming Wang, Pettitte and Hughes)

That's pretty close actually.

or Boston (Beckett, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Lester)?

Plug in Buchholz for Lester, and yes, absolutely, I would make that trade in a heartbeat and you'd be crazy not to. And yes, I am talking about just for this season.

Not me.

Because you overrate Dustin McGowan to the extreme and have no clue that Clay Buchholz is better than Jon Lester.

Toronto's lineup, which has been dreadfully powerless down here this spring, will not score runs the way New York's and Boston's will. That's a legitimate concern. But pitching is the backbone of any good team and because Toronto's pitching looks better, at least to these eyes, than either of their rivals, this might be a more interesting summer than most if not all of the past 14, depending on health issues.

You know what? You're right. Sure, San Francisco won't be able to score runs to save their life, but they have damn good pitching! And that's the backbone! This might be an interesting summer for them.....

(Side note: I've been thinking about this a lot, and am inclined to believe that hitting is more important than pitching. Baseball is 50% scoring runs, 50% preventing runs. A small but significant part of preventing runs is defense, so it can't all be pitching. Scoring runs is almost all hitting.)

It usually does and the critical component in all this is Burnett. If he's healthy and gets 30-plus starts, this team could contend. If he breaks down again, they'll be scrambling for pitching again.

If this happens, and James Shields gets injured, the Blue Jays have a great shot at 3rd place.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Jonah Keri + Rob Dibble = "What?"

Jonah Keri takes on the question of "Are the Red Sox a dynasty"?

It's a too-wordy article, but it does ask a good question. Basically, Keri compares the current Red Sox to two groups: teams that were actual dynasties (like the Big Red Machine) vs. teams that approached dynasty level (like the '86 Mets).

Now, I have a number of qualms about his method for classifying "approaching dynasty" teams - he highlights five one-year wonderteams (like the 1990 Reds, who didn't make the playoffs for any of the three years before or after their WS title, which, I think, precludes them from dynasty consideration. I might've chosen the late-80s A's as potential dynasties. Actually, it's a crime that he makes no mention of the late-80s and early-90s Blue Jays, who won four division titles and two WS in a five-year span.

Here's some stuff in here that merits mention:

"There's too much movement now," former Reds reliever Rob Dibble says. "Chemistry is a big deal. You need to come up with the same guys, stay with them, get to know their tendencies and their inside jokes. Otherwise, it doesn't work."

I suggest that Reds' GM Wayne Krivsky immediately telephone Rob Dibble and hire him as an inside-joke consultant. Obviously, the Reds' recent lack of success comes from an extreme dearth of tendency-knowing and inside-joke playing. Man, I loved Rob Dibble growing up, but he's an idiot.

Dibble knows something about the challenge of building a dynasty.

No, he doesn't. You are a moron, Jonah Keri. Rob Dibble knows something about injuring innocent first-grade teachers while throwing a public temper tantrum. The Reds' GM in 1990 (Bob Quinn) knows a lot about that challenge. Jonah, why didn't you interview him? You interviewed Rob Dibble. That's what I call "bad journalism".

In 1990, he was a member of the Cincinnati Reds team that won the World Series. Joined by Randy Myers and Norm Charlton, Dibble helped form the Nasty Boys bullpen, a collection of hard-throwing young relievers who -- along with Barry Larkin, Jose Rijo, Eric Davis and other young stars -- figured to form the nucleus of a Reds team that could reel off multiple championships. It didn't happen. Injuries and bad luck conspired against the team, and management soon took it apart.

Well, we could also consider that it was a team that really wasn't that good at all. In fact, Keri did a series of other articles on failed dynasties where he concludes (correctly) that:

Nearly two decades later, it's clear what the Reds' shortfall was: They just weren't all that good. Larkin is a player who deserves a spot in Cooperstown one day, but Davis was the poster boy for those teams, a player with all the talent in the world whose inability to stay healthy eventually sapped his ability. Players such as Duncan, Sabo and Armstrong had career or near-career years in 1990, then soon fell off the map.

And that's where Keri's article turns into a real stretch. There's no real comparison between the 2003-7 Red Sox and the 1990 Reds - because the Red Sox have sustained their success over a span of multiple years. They're not built solely on a few guys having career years. I'm not sure the '03-07 Sox are a dynasty, but they're getting pretty close.

"Once you break a link in the chain, it's never as strong as it once was," Dibble says. "Free agency has ruined the game."

What, Rob? You mean the advent of free agency (circa the 1970s) ruined the game? Yeah, you would know. You were playing in the sandbox when free agency was ruining the game.

Forgive Dibble if he sounds like the lords of the realm who still keep Marvin Miller out of the Hall of Fame.

I won't. It's stupid for Rob to long for a baseball past he never experienced.

It's not that he begrudges players the opportunity to choose their employer and make a healthy living. It's that, as a fan of the game, he misses those Mount Rushmore-level teams of the past, the ones you either respected or hated, but could never ignore.

Here's where Jonah Keri is an idiot. Not seven years ago, the Yankees won four titles in five seasons. That's a dynasty by any definition. In the same article, Keri mentions ten distinct baseball dynasties - over one hundred years, that's about a dynasty a decade. Major-league baseball, though experiencing some degree of parity, is not struggling from a lack of dynasty. Say what you want (and this the fault of your employer, Jonah), there are teams that we can't ignore in baseball today. They're the Yankees and the Red Sox.

Although teams such as the Yankees, Red Sox and Mets pull in and spend more money than their lower-revenue counterparts, bigger dollars haven't translated into the kind of juggernauts that once littered baseball's landscape, teams such as Casey Stengel's Yankees, Branch Rickey's Cardinals and John McGraw's Giants.

The 1996-2000 Yankees did that. The current Red Sox are doing that. Still - he's full of shit when he claims that those teams "littered baseball's landscape" - the three teams he cites are separated by 50 years!

Actually, Dibble was born in 1964, too young to remember any of those teams, barely in middle school when the Big Red Machine was winding down. He might pine for the powerhouse teams of the past, but more because of what he has read and heard than what he has seen with his own eyes.

Finally, some sense.
From 2000 to 2006, Major League Baseball crowned seven different champions: the Yankees, Diamondbacks, Angels, Marlins, Red Sox, White Sox and Cardinals.

How many times have I heard that stat? 2397812

Buzz past the Yankees' run to 1995,

Why? Because it disproves your point - that dynasties don't exist in contemporary baseball?

and you find a similar mishmash of teams in the winner's circle -- East Coast, West Coast and in between; big markets and small; expansion teams and old-time clubs. Bud Selig's oft-repeated mantra has come to fruition, for long-suffering White Sox fans, short-suffering Marlins fans and many of moderate suffering. "The most important part of our sport are the two words that I use at owners' meetings," Selig told a University of Wisconsin crowd last year. "Our job is to provide hope and faith -- hope and faith that your team has a chance to win."

Is that his job? Maybe so. If "acting in the best interest of the game" means "trying to make baseball a totally even playing field", I guess he is doing his job. Maybe, in order to accomplish this job, he could just hire Shane Stant to whack all the Red Sox' knees.

I think the job of providing hope and faith falls to the team's ownership. Yes, Orioles fans, unless Bud implements the Tonya Harding approach, you're screwed for the forseeable future.

For the record, I think baseball's level of parity is just about right. The dynasty-frequency doesn't seem to have changed. Maybe the luxury tax is the best way to go about limiting the absolute power of big-market teams and giving small-market teams a small leg up. It seems better, to me, than a salary cap system, which, to be honest is just too Communist for the American pastime.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Uh Oh, Jay Made A Stupid....

Multiple stupids, in fact. Before reading, be careful. You're about to enter a zone with a very unhealthy concentration of WRONG.

As the most tortured and masochistic fans in sports, you demand love and tenderness in Cubdom. You want hope, optimism, faith. You want 100-year amnesia. You want a combination of Ron Santo, a Wrigley Granny and Eddie Vedder in the bleachers.


You want me to say 98-64,

No one cares what you predict, because it's probably more based on Piniella's post-game speeches than baseball.

a sweep of the Rockies


a Game 7 victory over Johan Santana and a Game 7 win over the Red Sox, after which you can die peacefully.

For such goo (woo!), please call Ronnie Wickers. I cannot help you.

Mentions of Ronnie Woo Woo in Jay's columns are reaching July 2, 2006ish annoyingness levels.

But what I can do is this: You tell me what you want to hear, and I'll follow with what you SHOULD hear. It's called telling the truth, assuming you can handle it.

Jay is about to do this many, many times. We're going to see how often he actually says something truth-related.

You say Kerry Wood will become the toast of Clark Street. I say Huston Street is available on the trade market.

There are two very good reasons to not trade for Huston Street

1) Billy Beane will probably rip you off.
2) Wood, Marmol, and Howry are good enough between them to handle the late innings.

Jay literally thinks teams can just trade for awesome players all the time, and if they don't, then they're fucking up.

You say Wood will be pain-free all season, save 40 games and uphold the confidence of enabler Jim Hendry, who said this after the general manager's pet rock was named the closer: ``For his sake and ours, I hope he stays healthy because that's world-class stuff.'' I say Wood symbolizes All Things Cub in the 21st century and, sadly, will have arm soreness to accompany his world-class stuff by May 1, which is May Day, prompting the electric Carlos Marmol to inherit the role he deserved all along.

Marmol had a very good 2007, but middle relievers tend to be wildly inconsistent from year to year. He's bound to see some regression. Saying that he deserved the role all along is crazy. Cliff Politte had a great 2005 for the White Sox, should he be a closer?

I apologize....not enough "angry" out of me yet. I know, I know. Read on.

You say Sam Zell, in his detached role as temporary Cubs owner, will provide a refreshing change after 27 years of ineptness from previous Tribune Co. chiefs.

I basically live in Cubsville. No one is saying that. What's your "truth", Jay?

I say Zell looks like the billy goat,


actually might be the billy goat


and already is plotting to eliminate the jobs of at least a dozen Cubs players through voluntary separation programs, involuntary layoffs and attrition.

Jay Mariotti: ::closes dictionary:: I have no idea what I am writing.

`Who needs relief pitchers? Let the starting pitcher finish every game,'' Zell will declare. ``And if you're paying eight players to be in the field, all others are superfluous.''

I'm eyes must be going. I could have sworn you said at the top of this column you were going to tell me something called the "truth".

::checks again::

Yes, yes, that's what you wrote. It clearly says "truth", not "wildly stupid and un-funny exaggerations." Stop deceiving me!

You say the rotation is loaded with a Cy Young Award candidate in prediction-free Carlos Zambrano, a potential 18-game winner in Ted Lilly and a potential 15-game winner in Rich Hill.

Zam's chances of winning the Cy Young this year are probably something close to 1%, especially low due to the Santana trade. But other than that, there really isn't anything crazy about this sort of optimism.

I say you're right about Zambrano and Lilly,

All of last year, you slammed Zambrano for not being a true ace, now you think he's a Cy Young Award candidate?

but that you deserve to be conked in the head by an errant pitch from Hill, who last was seen walking six of 11 Colorado batters and has a 7.50 ERA in his last four Cactus League starts.

Rich Hill winning 15 games this year is definitely very possible. Spring starts from an established starting pitcher couldn't be less indicative of regular season performance. Please, PLEASE win 15 games this year, Rich Hill.

I'll never forget how this newspaper splashed Hill across the front page last October, wondering if he could save the Cubs. After he allowed three runs and six hits and was yanked after three innings, the Diamondbacks supplied the musical answer amid much Wrigley angst: ``We found our thrill, on Boo-berry Hill.''

Damn you Rich Hill! You pitched poorly in your first postseason start! You'll never win 15 games this year!

You say the Cubs have an awesome lineup.

Jay's right, this actually is a serious problem among Cub fans. Their lineup is severely overrated, mostly because of Soriano and the disease sweeping Chicago that
causes people to think Ryan Theriot is good at baseball.

I say they do as long as Derrek Lee doesn't remain a doubles hitter,

Derrek Lee posted the 2nd highest slugging percentage of his career last year. He also got on base at a .400 clip. You wouldn't take a doubles hitter with a .400 OBP?

Alfonso Soriano rips fastballs instead of muscles


and Aramis Ramirez is kept away from secret cockfighting arenas.

These are such stupid substitutes for actually analyzing these three hitters. For once, will you do your fucking job?

You say it's a sign of special camaraderie when several Cubs pitchers maul a '95 Nissan Sentra belonging to Tim Buss, the team's strength and conditioning coach, and his wife. You say it's very cool that they purchased him a 2008 Nissan Xterra.

How can you possibly argue that it wasn't?

I say it's a metaphor for certain pitchers who will be destroyed accordingly this season and require new replacements.

What the fuck??? This makes no sense.

Among them is a starter, Jason Marquis, who somehow won a rotation job after telling management that he, the great Jason Marquis -- who was left off postseason rosters the last two years -- would request a trade if he was moved to the bullpen. I say trade Marquis to Boston for Coco Crisp, center-field insurance for Felix Pie, while his ERA is still under 5.00.

Jim Hendry: Theo, what do you think of Marquis for Crisp?

Theo Epstein: Umm....gee Jim, ::snicker::, I'm going to have to think about that one. I have 6 starting pitchers, all better than Jason. I have an awesome bullpen. But yeah, I totally have a higher need on my team for a bad pitcher than one of the best defensive outfielders in baseball.

Jim Hendry: You don't have to be so wasn't my idea, anyway.....Chicago Sun-Times columnist Jay Mariotti totally came up with that idea. It seems that I care so much about what he thinks that I just had to pitch that one to you.

Theo Epstein: HA! Jay Mariotti!?!? That guy's a moron! There's this wicked sweet blog on the internet that constantly says he should be fired. I read it all the time!

You say I'm being mean to Wood. I say I'm rooting harder for him than anyone but family, friends and Hendry.

You are not rooting for him, because you're rooting for you to be wrong, which everyone on the fucking planet knows isn't the case. How did you sneak this lie in there? You're supposed to be telling me the truth!

I'm now about to copy and paste the most worthless paragraph of all-time, and won't comment on it. Read at your own risk.

You say Piniella, in introducing ``Cubbie occurrence'' to the lexicon, has coined a phrase for eternity. I say you're right. Pie's twisted testicle -- has it untwisted yet? -- is a Cubbie occurrence. Zell is a Cubbie occurrence. Blaming the Evil Stoney in '04 was a Cubbie occurrence. Trading Lou Brock and not keeping Greg Maddux in 1992 were Cubbie occurences. All the various animals associated with a century of futility are Cubbie occurrences. Thanks, Lou, for new material. Unless Piniella, too, is a Cubbie occurrence.

Moving right along....

You say Kosuke Fukudome will have no problem acclimating to Cubdom. I say he runs for cover the first time trash is thrown from the bleachers. You say you'll be very cordial to him out there. I say some of you become filled with rage when the mood strikes and will treat anyone like Jacque Jones. I also say you don't want any international incidents when we're trying to land the 2016 Olympics.

You might find this paragraph shocking, as Jay just did something he's never done before. He took an incident that happened awhile ago that has nothing to do with the situation at hand and used it to argue a point which also has freakishly little to do with the situation at hand.

You might find my last paragraph there shocking, as I used something called "sarcasm", which is completely new to my writing style.

He does that shit all the time. In case you guys wanted a recap of that paragraph, filled with things that have so little to do with each other, here it is.

"You say Kosuke Fukudome will blah blah blah, I say blah blah blah run for cover blah blah filled with rage blah blah international incidents blah blah 2016 Olympics".

You say the Milwaukee Brewers are frauds. I say slugger Prince Fielder, who last year became the youngest major-league player to hit 50 home runs, is now a vegetarian after reading his wife's book, ``Skinny Bitch: A No-nonsense, Tough-love Guide for Savvy Girls who Want to Stop Eating Crap and Start Looking Fabulous.''

See? They're not frauds! Prince Fielder is gonna lose weight!

You say I'm making this up. I say it's impossible to make up something this weird

Last year, you said that there was black magic associated with a baseball that rolled in from the bullpen towards third base because "baseball" starts with the letter 'b'. You also said that Torii Hunter is better than Nick Swisher, a statement that I consider equally weird.

You say the Sun-Times got Punk'd when a Tribune intern, Katie Hamilton, won this newspaper's video contest condemning Zell's attempt to sell Wrigley's naming rights. I say Hamilton is more clever than most writers at the sleepy broadsheet. I also say the Tribune is too cheap to give her a raise, and that Zell is contemplating laying her off because she has had her day in the Sun(-Times).

Oh yeah Jay, I forgot to tell you. Irrelevance called, it wants its nonsense back.

You say the Cubs are winning it all. I say they'll repeat as division champs, their first back-to-back claiming of cloth since 1907-08, but lose in the playoffs. You say I'm being negative. I say you need to get a life one of these centuries.

Jay seems to think that winning a playoff series is an impossibility for a given team that makes the playoffs. Why, Jay, can the Cubs win their division and then have a 0% chance at beating another baseball team in a best-of-five series? There's a shit-ton of luck's not like the NBA, you can't say things like, "oh, the Cubs, they're only an NLDS team, nothing more." One day I want you to wake up and realize that.

On a side note, I saw the comments left on this article. Everyone really, really dislikes you, Jay! And I mean we're talking threats of physical violence!

How To Be a Good Outfielder

Watching the Red Sox-A's postgame breakdown by ESPN... and for some reason the talking heads solicit Bobby Valentine's advice on the quality of Japanese players. Bobby decided to address Kosuke Fukudome first [paraphrased from TV]:

He's a very good player.


He can really play the outfield - always throws to the right base.

Wow. Really, Steve? You're touting the guy as a legitimate major-leaguer, and you decide that the first detail you need to mention is not that he has power, or a sweet swing, or a strong arm... but that he THROWS TO THE RIGHT BASE?! Third graders can do that!

Thanks, Bobby. Go back to your hole.

Strikes And Gutters, Dude, Strikes And Gutters

My sequence of thoughts shortly after waking up this morning-

1) Zzzzz.... wha.... Oh my God! It's here! It's finally here! It's opening day! Hooraaaaayyyyyyy!

*quickly scrambles to couch, turns on TV*

2) Wow! And the Red Sox are losing! This is the greatest day of my life!

*ten seconds pass*

3) Fuck. Why is Steve Phillips talking?

*sighs, turns off TV, gets ready for work*

That's life, I guess. Just when you think everything is going your way, Steve Phillips starts running his mouth as if he actually knows where both his asshole and elbow are.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Barry Zito Is Fucked, And He Knows It

First of all, a brief congatulations to Martin for winning last week's Reader Extra Participation Friday. I really don't want to talk about it much, but I will print the part of his submission that earned him the title:

anonymous/Anonymous/Chris Hart

For those who don't know the context, that's a listing of three people in descending order of shitheadedness from bad to worse to worst. Hard to disagree, really.

So anyway.

(awkward silence)

CNNSI's John Donovan recently wrote a pseudo puff piece about arguably baseball's most overpaid player. It's not bad journalism, but it's sure full of entertainingly awful quotes from Zito himself, who is slowly coming to terms with the fact that he stinks. I'm not saying he's there yet... but you definitely get a sense that he's on his way. And once he accepts and embraces said stinkness, he can work on steeling himself up to be relentlessly mocked and used as an example of why not to spend big money on free agent pitchers for the next five to ten years.

Then came last season, when he was not only not Zito-like, he was worse than your run-of-the-league starter. He had a 4.53 ERA, the worst of his career. He didn't throw 200 innings for the first time since becoming a full-timer. And he had an ERA+ -- a measure that takes into account the park that he pitches in and factors the league-average for a pitcher -- of 98. A 100 ERA+ is considered average.

This spring, at least before last Friday, he's slid even further. He had a 14.92 ERA in four starts before Friday's exhibition game against the White Sox. He had given up 21 hits in 12 2/3 innings. He didn't have a single strikeout. He looked, in a word, terrible.

Where does Barry Zito, who soon will turn 30, go from here? Back to the elite pitcher he once was? Or into the scrap heap of free-agent busts?

What's wrong with this guy?

Yeah, Barry. What the hell is wrong with you? Shoot from the hip. Try to give us something specific.

"For me, I'm just focused on what I got to get done," Zito said.

Translation: "Jesus shitballs, I hope I don't embarrass myself too much for the next few years. If I could crack 15 wins a couple of times, that would be nice... how about I keep the ERA in the high 3s? That shouldn't be too much to ask, playing in a moderate pitcher's park in the NL. Oh fuck it, just please don't let me get any worse than I was in 2007."

"Whatever people think, they're going to think.

"I'll tell you one thing: I am so, fucking, lucky that I'm doing this in San Fran as opposed to Boston or New York or Philly. If I played like this while being paid like I am in one of those cities, someone would have taken my family hostage and burned down my house while I was on a road trip sometime last summer."

But I still have to go forward with what I'm doing."

"Well, for what it's worth, I won't be spending too much time this year fondly remembering last year. Hopefully that counts for something."

His fastball, never a strength, is a huge weakness now. Scouts report that it almost never cracks 90 mph any longer. Many report it tops out about 88 mph. It's hard for Zito -- hard for anyone -- to be effective with an 88 mph fastball.

"We had it at 85-86," a scout from a rival team said.

Zito has heard all the questioning, of course. But he says he healthy. (Clearly, he wouldn't be throwing 96 pitches in an exhibition game otherwise.) He is in a good mindset. He says he simply has a few things to ... work on.

Hmmmmmm. Good thinking, buddy. What would you say are a couple of the areas you've really hit hard with this revolutionary "working on" plan?

"I feel good. I'm where I got to be," he insisted.

Oh....... you're...... you're OK then? You sure? You don't want to, you know, work on your plummeting strikeout total or try to stop giving up so many home runs?

Fine, you're the boss. You know yourself better than anyone else I guess. I'm just having a hard time agreeing that you're "where you've got to be." Nevermind though.

Friday's turn against the White Sox -- albeit in a meaningless afternoon game in March -- was, maybe, a turn in the right direction. But only maybe. At the minimum, it's something for Zito and any faithful Giants' fans to cling onto for the time being. It's something concrete. And that's more than anyone's had with Zito for a long, long time.

Great! You're finally taking a step in the right direction this spring. How are you going to build off this decent performance?

"It's always good to have something to base confidence off of," Zito said, "instead of trying to ... uh ... you know, just have it."

You clearly don't have it. You sound like a college freshman at a party, trying to tell himself that because he's wearing an ironic t-shirt he's cool enough to pick up that girl over there who's miles out of his league.

Enjoy sleeping on your giant piles of money. That's about all you've got going for you.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Jemele Hill Continues Her Quest To Become The Worst Journalist Of All Time

I have no idea who currently holds that title, but I can't see them doing so much longer as long as Jemele keeps up her recent pace of drivelish shit.

(A quick Google search reveals that she's far from the only writer out there to hold this opinion, but for our purposes let's pretend this whole perspective was her idea. It'll be more fun that way. And thanks to everyone who tipped me off about this.

LeBron's image clearly means a lot to him, maybe even as much as pursuing a championship.

Apples and oranges, you stupid bint.

And that's why I can't understand why he would allow Vogue to feature him with supermodel Gisele Bundchen in such a distasteful manner.

Here's a link if you haven't seen the shot in question yet. Jemele has the same image up in her article of course, but I don't want you going over there to see it and adding to her article's traffic unless absolutely necessary.

In case you haven't seen the cover, LeBron has Gisele in one hand and a basketball in the other. LeBron is dressed in basketball gear, with his muscles flexing, tattoos showing and bared teeth. Gisele, on the other hand, is wearing a gorgeous slim-fitting dress, and smiling.

Yes. And?

She looks like she's on her way to something fashionable and exciting.

Well, she's a supermodel. I'm not a supermodel, nor do I know any, but I'm pretty sure that all they do with their lives is put on nice clothes and attend events that are fashionable and exciting.

He looks like he's on his way to a pickup game for serial killers.

Why does it look that way, Jemele? Because he's black? It's because he's black, isn't it. (Actually, most serial killers in US history have been white, but you know what she's getting at. Black people = criminals!) You racist. Racist racist racist. A self-loathing racist, no less! You'd think in this day and age, we'd be able to get past this kind of thing, at least in the mainstream media. What kind of editor lets this kind of assertion go? "Hmmmmm... Jemele is saying that because James has a mean expression on his face and is dressed to play basketball, he looks like someone who likes to murder people... yeah, that works." Anyone with a brain should be insulted by this. Have you ever seen him play basketball? He makes that face like five times a game.

Now, maybe the point was to show the contrast between brawn and beauty, masculinity versus femininity, strength versus grace.

OK, sure, that works. I personally think it was really just more about showing a top model and a star athlete striking a fun and energetic pose. But whatever.

But Vogue's quest to highlight the differences between superstar athletes and supermodels only successfully reinforces the animalistic stereotypes frequently associated with black athletes.

Actually, it doesn't. What it does instead is reinforce those stereotypes in the minds of people that can't see past color and who bend over backwards to find racism in places it doesn't exist. In some cases, it may be because they are obnoxiously sensitive and find complaining about artificially offensive things like this soothing. Well, that makes them idiots. But at least they're not hateful. What we have here, based on that serial killer comment, is entirely different. This is ten thousand times worse than being an hypersensitive complainer with a stick up your butt. Break it down with me to its simplest terms- this is someone who's part of a group... who then sees a member of her group looking exactly as he often does while performing in his line of work... and then decrying it, because when she looks at the pose all she can see is the worst possible stereotype associated with said group. That's mind-bogglingly dumb. He's a goddamn basketball player who's well known for making intense facial expressions. When he appears on a magazine cover dressed as a basketball player and making an intense facial expression, the last thing you should be is offended.

A black athlete being reduced to a savage is, sadly, nothing new.

Reduced to a savage by who? The eye of the beholder.

But this cover gave you the double-bonus of having LeBron and Gisele strike poses that others in the blogosphere have noted draw a striking resemblance to the racially charged image of King Kong enveloping his very fair-skinned lady love interest.

This is also stupid, given how un-distressed Tom Brady's fucktoy looks and, again, the fact that LeBron looks like that all the time when he plays basketball. But at least the people who are taking that angle on the photo ostensibly managed to get past the idea that if a black guy looks angry, he's probably a felon. They got the "don't be an idiot" car down the driveway and out into the street. Jemele is stil in the garage.

LeBron is just the third male ever to appear on Vogue's cover, but it's hard to believe Vogue would have made Brett Favre, Steve Nash or even David Beckham strike his best beast pose.

Good point. You know who else probably wouldn't have been asked to pose like that? Tiger Woods. Or Tim Duncan. Or LaDanian Tomlinson. (Shawne Merriman? Maybe. But that's different.) You know who else they might've actually asked to try that pose though? Roger Clemens (pre-Mitchell report, of course). Or Brian Urlacher. Or, I know this is going out on a limb in terms of the definition of "athlete", but John Cena. So, nice try. This still has everything to do with LeBron the person and nothing to do with LeBron the African American.

...[W]e don't even have to dip back to the 19th century to see how images of black athletes have affected how we think and thus how we view sports. In 1994, Jack Nicklaus said there weren't more African-Americans in golf because "blacks have different muscles that react in different ways."

As stupid as that is, where's the Fuzzy Zoeller remark? I guess it doesn't work as well in this context.

And that backward thinking isn't limited to whites, either. Former ESPN NFL analyst Michael Irvin channeled his inner Jimmy the Greek when attempting to explain Tony Romo's abilities. Irvin surmised that Romo was good because his "great, great, great, great grandma pulled one of them studs up outta the barn [and said], 'Come here for a second.'"

All of that makes for interesting discussion. But you know what? It has abso-fucking-lutely nothing to do with this magazine cover. Go look at it again. If you think the magazine editor or photographer set up that picture intending to reinforce any particular stereotypes about black men or white women or what happens when a black man holds a white woman, you're out of your fucking mind. The picture is about LeBron and Gisele looking like they're having fun while doing what they do for a living.

Or, shit, maybe I'm naive and stupid and everything Hill speculates about the photo's intent is actually true. But if you know for a fact that that's the case, please don't tell me. I kind of like living here in Noteverythinghastobeaboutracegoddammitville. (It's located in HeyIunderstandracismstillexistsbutfortheloveofgodletsnotmakeeverythingintoaracialissue County.)

Bad Pitchers & Bad Thinking.. More of the Obvious from Jerry Crasnick

The latest from's Jerry Crasnick is a waste of your time. Don't read it - unless, like me, you're looking for something to disparage. The gist of this article could be summed up:

"Hey, I interviewed a lot of injured Cardinals pitchers. Boy, they sure are gamers! Also, the Cardinals' organization hopes these injury-riddled pitchers and the other mostly-average starters on their roster suddenly achieve their career-bests this year!"

I'm imagining that quote uttered by dear Jerry, whose voice I have never actually heard, but which I think I can characterize simply based on his thumbnail picture:

I think that pretty much sums up the entire article. But here's my favorite part:

While Lohse has a reputation as an underachiever, he pitched some huge games for the Phillies in a pennant race last summer. Lohse lasted six innings or more in seven of his past 11 starts before giving up a grand slam to Colorado's Kaz Matsui in Game 2 of the Division Series. The challenge now is breaking through the ceiling of unfulfilled expectations. Lohse, a career 63-74 with a 4.82 ERA, is free from those overpowering American League lineups and cozy parks in Cincinnati and Philadelphia, so the Cardinals have reason to hope he will spread his wings and fly.

Kyle Lohse's HOME ERA - in Citizens Bank Park and Great American Ballpark - in 2007: 3.03.
[dan-bob, while performing this cursory research: "Shit! He was pretty good at home!"]
Kyle Lohse's ROAD ERA - where he is free from those cozy parks - in 2007: 6.17
[dan-bob, while performing this cursory research: "Shit! I wonder what caused this? Probably too many hookers in his hotel room."]

Ladies and gentlemen, this is why we have the label "anecdotal bullshit" - because of writers like Crasnick who blame Lohse's struggles on some vague "ballpark" problem instead of the obvious fact that he isn't that great of a pitcher.

If the Cardinals want Kyle Lohse to break through the ceiling of those unfilfilled expectations and fly up and become an ace, they're pretty stupid. Then again, it's typical shitty baseball journalism to think that a pitcher will become a stud based on the fact that he pitched at least six innings in seven out of eleven starts, rather than looking at the fact that he has seven full seasons of major league experience has a career ERA+ of 95.

Oh well. April is indeed the cruellest month, mixing the memories and desires of all the optimistic fans of below-average teams around America.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Hey Everyone!

Gee, it sure has been awhile since anyone has gushed over big ol' overrated ol' Torii Hunter, eh? Well Jon Heyman just changed that! Let's dive in!

Angel in the outfield
Torii Hunter is a perfect match with his new club

A "perfect match" you say? Here's what I'd call a "perfect match".

Step 1: Team has a lack of outfielders.
Step 2: Team signs a free-agent outfielder.

Look at this farking depth chart! Is there some convenient little spot where Hunter fits? No, it's a clusterfuck filled with other overpaid people like Gary Matthews and Garret Anderson who are slightly worse than Hunter. Reggie Willits had a .391 OBP last year! Juan Rivera was injured last year, but slugged .525 in 2006! So before you even say anything on the topic, I want you to know this, Jon Heyman. You are completely and totally one-hundred-per-fucking-cent WRONG.

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Hard as it is to believe, the best deal anyone made this winter just might have been done at a Del Taco, out on I-91, halfway between Anaheim and Riverside, on the way out to the desert. Over a couple iced teas, Torii Hunter's agent, Larry Reynolds, and new Angels GM Tony Reagins, two longtime baseball acquaintances, hammered out the $90-million, five-year contract that made Hunter an Angel and seemed to upset almost half the American League.

It upset two. The Rangers and the White Sox. And neither of those teams spent $90M on an overrated CF on the wrong side of 31 who has never EqA'ed above .282, so they realized the error of their ways (not really) and lived happily ever after. The end.

PECOTA-haters shut your eyes, but Hunter is projected for an average of 3.08 WARP for the 5 years of his contract. That's less than what Gary Matthews Jr. gave them last year by more than a full win. And this is supposed to be the best deal of the winter?

The Angels acted like "a Ninja in the middle of the night wearing all black," says Hunter, coming out of nowhere to sign the man who is now tearing up the Cactus League, with a .500 batting average (16 for 32), three HRs, 10 RBI and a 1.063 slugging percentage so far.

Why Jon, I couldn't dream of anything more meaningless than spring stats! Ivan Rodriguez has hit 6 HR in 41 ABs! He hit all of 11 last year. George Lombard is slugging 1.053. I have no clue who the fuck that is.

In reality, this is the perfect match, anyway: the perpetually sunny Hunter and Southern California. It was like a Disney ending. He says, "This is the one team I always wanted to play for. They were No. 1 on my list.''

Yeah, but guess what? Most Disney movies have really crappy sequels. I know just how they're gonna follow this up. We're going to turn it over to deep-throated movie trailer guy.

"One is a Major League Baseball team in sunny Southern California. The other is a sunny Major League Baseball player. It was a match made in heaven....or was it?

Tony Reagins: ''s gone! Someone spent it all!'

Coming to theatres this spring.....


....the story of the Torii Hunter and the Los Angeles Angels continues, as their seemingly perfect marriage melts into newlywed trauma and drama.

Torii Hunter: 'I'm givin' one hundred and twenty percent, coach!'

Mike Scioscia: 'If you ain't runnin' into outs you ain't tryin' dagnabbit!'

Garret Anderson: 'Doesn't anyone CARE about me anymore?'

Torii Hunter stars in his most difficult role yet.........


Torii Hunter.

Mike Scioscia.

And introducing Tony Reagins as the new Angels GM.......

Disney and Pixar proudly present.....

Free Agent Centerfielder II - The Low-OBP Debacle

Rated PG-13. Starts March 31"

Well that was pointless.

Some folks suggested the Angels overpaid. (If so, it's the first time anyone ever could claim that at a Del Taco.) But judging by the reaction of the teams that lost out for Hunter's services, those opinions are worth less than one Macho Taco (yes, it's on the menu).

We get it, the deal took place at a fucking fast-food taco restaurant. Those of you who read the actual article know that I've omitted several other useless references to the restaurant already in my commentary. It's getting REALLLLY annoying, no one cares.

The Rangers and especially the White Sox seemed to be floored by Hunter's quick call to go west. Both teams are believed to have offered $75 million for five years, with the Rangers perhaps willing to go even higher, and offer a sixth-year option.

The White Sox saw Hunter as the one to rescue a ho-hum clubhouse

Oh....yeah...and they had this black hole in center field that the Angels totally didn't have. You think they wanted him for that reason too? Or was he just supposed to uplift the clubhouse spirits?

This just in: It appears the White Sox have just signed Jabbo the Happy-Go-Kooky Klown to a 5 year, $105M deal. Jabbo will perform juggling tricks and throw pies in peoples faces in the dugout to lift the spirits of the players. He will also serve as a pinch hitter for Jerry Owens.

Hunter said he didn't approach the Angels since they already had Gary Matthews Jr. for center field, though that didn't stop him from waiting for their call, or jumping at the chance. Matthews will move over to leftfield, though with Reggie Willits and Juan Rivera also in tow, he may lose a few at-bats (that's probably OK by the Angels, as Matthews' brush with HGH last spring surely didn't help his stock with them).

Even Hunter realized that this move made absolutely no sense for the Angels, and that he totally didn't fit there. Yet one of the 30 Major League GMs couldn't figure that one out.

If those other teams that lost out are paying attention this spring, they can't feel any better about Hunter playing for an American League competitor. He is killing the ball out here

So are Gerald Laird and Ronnie Belliard.

and proving to be the perfect piece in a clubhouse that probably needed a little extra energy boost.

I love when journalists say crap like this. This little clause has something amazing working for it. You can't prove it.....but by golly, it's 100% impossible for someone to disprove it as well. We like to call these statements: mid-article cop-outs. This is when the author has run out of substantial things to say, so he starts racking up nonsense, or "phony-baloney" if you will, to fill the white space. Be at ease, Heyman, page 2 of this column is all about other topics. You only need to get a little further making up BS about Hunter.

Hunter's always upbeat nature is a welcome enhancement to a laid-back clubhouse whose biggest personality in years past was probably manager Mike Scioscia.

And again.

Southern California fans historically also are known for being laid back, but Hunter was so impressed by the Rally Monkey-fueled craziness in 2002 when the Angels knocked the Twins out of the playoffs en route to their World Series title, he made a mental note of it. "The atmosphere is crazy here. They're not laid back at all,'' Hunter insisted.

Thus: Hunter to the Angels was the best deal of the winter, and ZOMG! IT HAPPENED AT A TACO-BASED FAST FOOD OUTLET!!!!!

This is so disappointing. There's little-to-no correct, relevant substance in this entire column.

Hunter's also a great fit in the lineup, where he'll bat fourth or sometimes fifth, with Garret Anderson being the other option to protect the team's best hitter Vladimir Guerrero.

Batting order doesn't really mean that much, but yes, it will be nice for the Angels to have a solid HR hitter behind Vlad to make pitchers feel less easy about pitching around him. Point: Heyman.

Some might suggest Hunter isn't your typical cleanup man,

What crazies. Heyman, give us some solid evidence to the contrary.

but he will have none of that talk. "I'm going to bust your butt if you make a mistake," he warned opposing pitchers.

When an opposing pitcher makes a mistake against Ryan Howard, Howard literally sits down in the batters box and starts laughing, rather than actually swinging at the pitch to make the pitcher pay.

Thanks for the solid evidence.

The numbers suggest that's more than just a boast. When batting fourth last year for the Twins, Hunter batted .337 with three homers and 16 RBIs in 23 games.

Oh my just gave be a world full of things to pick on! I feel like a kid in a candy store!

1) Let's start with the obvious one. 23 games. That's like, less than a month. When a player has a hot July, Heyman, do you automatically assume there's something about the player's genetic makeup that makes him more awesome in July?

2) That 3 HR / 23 games rate is actually LOWER than Hunter's HR rate for the season.

3) In 2005, Hunter batted only .279 batting 4th.

4) Hunter has never hit .290 in a season, and to suggest that a move to a DIFFERENT LINEUP SPOT would somehow give Hunter magic skills that allow him to hit at a sustainably higher batting average despite seasons upon seasons of evidence to the contrary is stupider than referencing the fact that a MLB offseason deal took place at a taco restaurant multiple times in an article. Good thing you've never done the latter.

5) You are a terrible columnist, Jon Heyman.

In his career, he's hitting .276 with 22 homers and 93 RBIs in 158 games -- almost identical numbers to his career 162-game average of .271, 25 and 93. like.....Torii Hunter hitting 4th is identical to Torii Hunter hitting anywhere else! Thanks for proving that we needed to talk about batting order!

As it turns out, the Angels may have found the perfect person for the middle of

their defense


their lineup,

Because who doesn't love a .324 career OBP?

and their clubhouse.

You based this on which specific interactions between Hunter and the other Angels players, again?

On the plus side, this is probably the first Torii Hunter article I have ever read that did not make ridiculous comments that overrate his defense. Kudos, Heyman.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Reader Extra Participation Friday: Bad, Worse, Worst

Thanks to everyone who responded to my request earlier in the week for links. I definitely have a small backlog of them going at this point, and will try to get to a couple over the weekend. I still have to finish that Gene Wojceichowski thing, someone tipped me off about a random asshole over at who needs to be fired, and we now have definitive proof that Jemele Hill is a huge racist. Tune in during the next few days to see what I'm talking about. Consider yourselves teased!

And I know I'm starting to repeat myself, but sorry for the relative lack of activity around here these days. The Google Analytics shows that we've lost a few readers recently and frankly I don't blame them. But thanks to those of you who continue to patiently check back on a regular basis. I promise we'll get a little more activity going and make it worth your while (non-sexually) to have stuck around relatively soon.

Is everyone familiar with the time-passing game "marry/fuck/kill?" Basically, it's an excuse to argue with your friends about various members of the opposite sex. Someone throws out three names (celebrity or mutual friends, attractive or not), and you have to choose one to marry, one to fuck, and one to kill. It can provide hours of entertainment on road trips or while waiting in line for shit. And every once in a while, one of your friends will make a stunning admission that completely rocks the foundation of everything you thought you knew about him or her and can then be used to mock them for weeks and months to come. (Seriously, Chris Hart? You'd marry Rosie O'Donnell, fuck Oprah, and kill Roseanne? OK, Mr. Crazypants. Go ahead and ruin your life. It's your choice.)

Anyone who has played it can vouch for the fact that it's a lot of fun. So I thought for Reader Extra Participation Friday, we should do a spin-off on that game. It's called "bad/worse/worst." I know it sounds complicated but stick with me. I'll throw out a few trios of names from the sports media world. You pick any of them and let me know which person you think is bad, which one is worse, and which one is the worst and why. Choose carefully or you could be mocked relentlessly by the other seven readers of the blog. I won't offer my opinions on these examples yet, although I wish I could be by a computer during the day tomorrow to argue about them with whoever stops by and decides to chime in. I guess I'll check back in when I get home from work and throw my hat in the ring.

Jay Mariotti/Bill Simmons/Jemele Hill

Stuart Scott/Linda Cohn/John Kruk

Tim McCarver/Dick Vitale/Joe Morgan

Sean Salisbury/Steve Phillips/Emmit Smith

Or hey, if you get bored with this whole bad/worse/worst thing, just play marry/fuck/kill with them. Whatever floats your boat.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

He Might Have To Transfer To Michigan After This

Terrelle Pryor's announcement earlier today as to where he'll attend college starting this fall:

Everybody here? Alright, good. (Unzips warmup jacket to reveal school shirt, puts on school hat) The University of Ohio State.

Hmmmm... let's break this down. I like the cool and casual style. He made sure all 350 invited media members were present, and then just dove right in. No fluff. And the fact that he utilized both a shirt and and a hat, rather than just a hat like most kids do, was a nice change of pace. But there's one major issue here. I think everyone knows what I'm talking about. He didn't use that school's vernacular name, which when said aloud usually makes me want to smother whoever said it with a chloroform-soaked rag. Get with the program, Terrelle: if you're going to be a Buckeye, you're going to have to sound like a fuckbag whenever you say "[explitive] Ohio State University."

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Gene Wojceichowski Can Wait

He's just been one-upped by Around the Horn supporting character J.A. Adande. Thanks to reader Peej for the tip.

This is really, really, really bad.

This March, NBA Has the Madness

My editor sent down a list of games for me to cover, and that March 21 Rockets-Warriors assignment didn't bother me at all. Yes, I know the significance of the date. It's the first Friday of the NCAA tournament. One of the best days on the sports-viewing calendar. When I bought my comfy leather theater seats, I envisioned this day, the hours I would spend staring at the screen. Only this time, I don't mind missing that sport's holy day one bit.

I'm not as excited about the road to the Final Four as I am about the final eight weeks of the NBA regular season.

Everyone in this wonderful country of ours is, of course, entitled to their opinion. At the same time: you're wrong. Very wrong. And I'm saying this as a big NBA fan, too. I'm not some kind "football and NASCAR are the only real sports and if you like anything else yer a big pussy" kind of guy. I like the NBA almost as much as I like MLB or the NFL. In my opinion, the NBA's regular season clowns on college basketball's regular season and the NBA playoffs are just a slight step below March Madness. Wire-to-wire, therefore, I think the NBA puts out a much more entertaining product. So with all that said, let me reiterate: J.A. Adande, you are a fucking idiot.

This year the pro game doesn't just offer better players, it offers better games and better story lines.

Such as: how many Eastern Conference playoff teams will actually have winning records? At what point will teams actually start playing like there's something on the line? Why is everyone who plays for the Spurs such a little bitch? Must see TV.

As soon as Tennessee ended Memphis' quest for an undefeated season, this year's festivities became Just Another Tournament. We won't get a chance to see perfection.

Why is just another tournament capitalized? Is there some acronym joke in there that I'm missing out on? And for what it's worth, a team has entered the tournament undefeated exactly once in the last 28 years. (UNLV, 1991.) So if that's your complaint, you're clearly not the March Madness fan you made yourself out to be in that awkward intro.

There's no fully loaded Florida, Duke or UNLV going for a repeat.

Whoop-de-shit. Did anyone besides UF's fans enjoy last year's tournament that much more because of their repeat pursuit?

There are no truly great teams that will be remembered by anyone but their fans a few years from now.

Yeah, but that Suns-76ers matchup on March 28 is guaranteed to be one for the ages! (J.A. specifically names this game as one he's excited about watching in lieu of NCAA games in a sidebar to the article.)

In the NBA, the Rockets are working on the league's longest winning streak since 1972.

True, that is interesting. Probably about 10% as interesting as March Madness, but still, I'll give credit where it's due.

The Lakers are trying to lay the foundation for a new dynasty.

Apparently being bounced out of the playoffs early a couple seasons in a row, then being one of the best teams in league 3/4 of the way through a subsequent regular season now qualifies you for dynasty-foundation-laying status. Man, if only my Nuggets could put together a little win streak and get themselves to the top of the Western Conference heap, they'd be laying the foundation for a new dynasty too.

The Spurs are trying to put a cap on theirs.

Here's my impression of a person watching a Spurs game: Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Get it?

The Celtics are trying to do their banners proud.

What? Are they good this year? I hadn't heard.

LeBron James is walking across the bridge from potential to reality.

He's been doing that for like three years, dummy. It's still not more interesting than March Madness.

For a change, none of these stories can simply wait until the playoffs.

Actually, they will have to wait until the playoffs. And 99% of American sports fans will not be bothered by this at all.

There's too much on the line right now, when seeds can be gained or lost, pathways determined. All you need to know about the importance of this month is that Kobe Bryant would rather play with an out-of-whack finger than get surgery and miss any of these games.

That's right, folks. A hyper-competitive, mega type-A superstar who's working on cementing his legacy as an all time great would rather be on the court playing than sitting out to heal. Therefore: the NBA's regular season is better than March Madness.

Not that there's anything wrong with the tournament. I love filling out my brackets. I even love it when they get shredded by an out-of-the-blue upset. I love getting off a plane in March and seeing people crowd around the airport bar TV sets, with the sound of high-tops squeaking on the court coming from the speakers.

Good, yes, these are all reasons many people (especially airport employees) like the tournament.

But my first love is the game of basketball, and it's being played at a much higher level in the NBA.

No. Stinking. Way. Shut the front door. Please excuse my dear Aunt Sally. You're telling me... players in the NBA... are better at basketball than college athletes? This is outrageous. Everything I thought I knew has just changed. Down is up. Left is right. Basements are full of natural light. Jay Mariotti is awesome. Carlos Mencia is funny.

Instead of watching Derrick Rose and imagining how good a point guard he might be, I'd rather witness the mastery of the position demonstrated by Chris Paul and Deron Williams right now. Michael Beasley can be. Tim Duncan is.

Compared to 99.9999% of the population, Rose is already an amazing point guard and Beasley already "is." The difference between those guys and Paul/Williams/Duncan is relatively small. If you're going to pick on something, sheesh, pick on NCAA role players compared to their NBA counterparts. The gap between the average NBA 10th man and NCAA 10th man is astronomical compared to differences between the stars. Not that that even matters.

Ultimately it comes down to this: The pros make shots. As intense and competitive as that Memphis-Tennessee game was, neither team shot 40 percent.

Both teams in the one NCAA game Adande watched this year had bad shooting nights. Therefore: fuck March Madness. Bring on the Celtics visiting the Hornets on March 21! (Memphis for the entire year: 46.6% on field goals. Tennessee: 46.1%.)

Normally the tournament compensates for the talent gap with extra passion.

Not this year. Turns out, none of the players, coaches, student bodies, or alums give a shit anymore. Weird timing, huh? Why, it was just last year that the tournament was as exciting as ever. Now people are really just looking forward to getting up and going to work every morning.

Win or else your season and/or career comes to an end.

That's still how it works.

But in this season's NBA, in which no team's playoff seeding is assured, there's something to be gained or lost every night. Add stakes to skills and you get phenomenal ball.

In the West, 8 teams are fighting for 9 playoff spots. Yawn. In the East, everyone outside the top four teams knows that they suck, are extremely lucky to still be in contention, and are getting bounced the fuck out in the first round. Are you really going to call that "something to be gained or lost every night?"

Seeing a college kid dive for old U is one thing. Seeing Shaq hurdle seats because he wants one last ring for his collection is something beyond.

The college kid is playing for nothing more than tuition, and will be selling insurance in a year or two. But he'll always remember that year he led his mid-major team full of nobodies to the Sweet 16 and became a household name for just a few days. Shaq, on the other hand, wants to buy another diamond-encrusted bidet. He knows he can afford to do so with a playoff bonus. You're right- that second storyline is a lot more compelling than the first.

For every day of the tournament until the championship game gets that Monday night to itself, I can point you to an NBA game that could make for better viewing. (Read the table on the right to see what I mean.)

I've already referenced it twice. Click on the story link and check it out yourself in its entirety if you need a good chuckle.

There's no guarantee that all of these matchups will turn out to be great.

But the pro games I promise you won't be subjected to:

Complete and total lack of defense from many teams until the fourth quarter? Hilariously preferential refereeing for superstars? Constant offensive sets consisting of nothing but isolation kick-outs? Oh, wait. You definitely will be subjected to all of those.

Obsessive coaches hogging the attention, forcing their players to stick with systems while mismatches scream to be exploited. This drives me crazy. I almost want to smuggle some Detriot Pistons game DVDs to the kids just to show them it's OK to break from the offense to take advantage of a weak defender.

How often is this an issue? I'm no Phil Jackson, so someone feel free to explain to me the extent to which this is some horrific epidemic at the college level. I'm guessing that it really isn't.

Excessive use of the word "Cinderella." It comes up in the NBA, just not as often. Google search hits for "George Mason Cinderella": 355,000. Google search hits for "Golden State Warriors Cinderella": 70,000. And I dare any writer to go up to Stephen Jackson and compare him to a fairy-tale princess.

Fuck, that doesn't prove anything. I dare you to make eye contact with Stephen Jackson from less than 15 feet away. It doesn't really matter what you say to the guy, he's probably going to rip off your arms and beat you with them regardless. And really, who is complaining about "Cinderella?" Anybody? Anybody besides J.A., and maybe people like Dennis Miller or Larry David who complain about everything?

Any of that Duke floor-slapping stuff. Although I have to say, the most satisfying college basketball moment I've seen in a while came during Saturday's Duke-North Carolina game, shortly after Greg Paulus did a floor slap. Danny Green threw down a Lipton's special dunk on him that said, "Slap this." That was so next level. I hit the rewind button on my DVR so much I nearly drained the battery. That enriched my life immensely. Thank you, Mr. Green.

What the hell are you talking about? Stop. Acting like anyone really gives a shit about Duke's celebration tactics is like saying "much has been made" of the Celtics' African mantra/motto thingy this year.

The problem with the NCAA tournament is that it doesn't deliver Duke vs. North Carolina. The committee is required to spread conference teams as far as possible, to put off a potential meeting until the later rounds -- so we get a bunch of matchups with no history.

I don't even need to explain how dumb that is. If you can't figure out why, let me give you two hints from two different angles, phrased as questions:

1. Do you think the point of the NCAA tourney is to determine a champion, or recreate historic conference matchups that already happen twice a season?
2. Remember all those great Nuggets/Mavericks games from back in the day? Or how about all the times the Cavaliers and Magic have gone toe to toe? Woo hooo!

J.A. is evidently one of those people who thinks that every year, the World Series should be the Yankees vs. Red Sox, the Super Bowl should be Cowboys vs. Steelers, and the Olympic hockey final should be USA vs. USSR.

Because the players turn over so often and the scheduling is inconsistent, it's hard to develop good national rivalries in college hoops.

Yet somehow, it's still easy to effectively shut down productivity in most places of work that employ sports fans for two Thursdays and two Fridays each March. How does the NCAA manage to pull it off? My theory: steroids.

The NBA loads up on the conference and divisional matchups as the schedule winds down. This season promises to be a slugfest all the way through.

Sure, I'll be watching the NCAAs during the off hours. But when NBA duty calls, I won't feel I'm missing out. I'll be where the real action is.

You will be alone. Everyone else will be where the allegedly fake action is, which we find to be about 1,000 times more compelling. Pretty strange- I guess you're just that much smarter than the rest of us.

Seriously, what a dipshit.