Friday, October 31, 2008

More World Series Eschatology!

The sky is falling! The country's about to elect a Muslim! Notradamus once suggested that the world could end in 2009! Scott Miller won't let the 2009 World Series take place!

Next year's World Series has, without question, got to be stopped.

What are you, a terrorist? The threat level just went up to lavender.

It simply cannot be played.

It can and it will.

At least, not into November, it can't.

It has and it can.

Or shouldn't.

Ok, now that we're done with the hyperbole, let's talk shop.

It is utterly preposterous, and anyone who either shivered through the rain and cold during Games 4 and 5 here or watched what devolved into a mud-wrestling contest in Game 4 knows this.

A team plays a full 162-game schedule, busts its collective butt for six months, nurse-maids its fragile pitchers, chews through hundreds of packs of sunflower seeds

hundreds of packs of sunflower seeds? I bet the big leaguers either (a) chew carcinogens or (b) buy their seeds by the bucket.

... and then reaches what is supposed to be the sport's pinnacle, only to wind up playing a bastardized version of something Abner Doubleday never would have created? While wearing hoodies and ear muffs?

Things Abner Doubleday never would have created:

  1. Baseball
  2. Baseball gloves
  3. Cracker jack
  4. Home Runs
  5. An America without a Civil War
  6. Cold baseball

This is not a defense of the Tampa Bay Rays, who lost because they were outplayed.


This is not an apology for the Phillies, who didn't exactly hide the fact that Citizens Bank Park actually does not have a roof when the baseball world moved in last Friday.

Funny, nobody seemed to complain about the cold until ONE GAME GOT RAIN DELAYED OMG.

This is just to reiterate that playing baseball this late into October might be reaching the point where it's not worth the trade-off for an extra round of playoffs, which most people (with the help of commissioner Bud Selig's constant reminders) now take as gospel was a brilliant idea.

Probably the best, calmest and most sensible sentence in the article. But frankly: the wild card IS a good idea.

Let's be clear here: The wild-card round is a good idea. Great idea. In theory.

Communism is a great idea in theory, except it doesn't take into account human laziness. The wild-card round is a very good idea in theory and a good idea in practice.

But there are diminishing returns if it contributes toward pushing the World Series, what formerly was one of sports' best events, off the cliff.

Seriously: what the fuck. One game gets rained out and suddenly the whole concept of a World Series is "off the cliff"?

We're emerging from a fifth consecutive crappy World Series -- none of which has lasted longer than five games -- and the weather has directly affected at least three in a row.

Completely illogical argument. The weather has to be the worst factor to blame for this streak of shitty World Series.

The time is coming when we'll look back on this 46-hour Game 5 interruption as a minor inconvenience. We will be dog-paddling to stay afloat in some biblical-proportion flood, or losing fingers to frostbite in the teeth of a World Series-stopping blizzard, when we do.

Jesus. Scott Miller is batshit crazy. Guano-mound crazy. He probably advocated this legislation-crazy.


Rational baseball fans: let's all get together and stop complaining about one rainout. Let's all realize that weather is weather, and that a couple of games taking place in the next numerical month is not a significant enough problem to radically restructure the regular season or the playoffs.

For the last time: stop shouting just to shout. I know it makes you a paycheck, but it lowers the level of discourse in our society.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Just in Case You Missed The Worst Call in the History of World Series Winning Moments....

Here it is:

Buck's nonentity of a call begins at around 3:30. Who'd have thought a team winning their first World Series in the past 28 years would have been as exciting as a double to left in the first inning of a midseason Padres-Marlins game.

Oh well. At least Buck didn't berate the Phillies players for their "despicable" celebrations.

(watch this soon before MLB takes it down)

By way of contrast, here are acceptable ways to call World Series winners: (embedding disabled)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The World Series: It Isn't Broke, But Idiots Want to Fix It

So you might have heard, somewhere in between all the real sports news: the World Series was delayed by rain. First time in a hundred years.

Cue the idiot sportswriters.


In which Mike Freeman Complains about The Lack of Storylines

This is the 2008 version of the White Sox-Astros, Tigers-Cardinals and Marlins-Indians. In other words, gentlemen, start your Xanax.

I actually kind of liked the joke. Really, though - I think Freeman's bitching about big-market teams not being in the World Series. Which seems to me to be kind of stupid.

It's possible this could end up as the lowest-rated and least-watched World Series in modern history. Ratings gold, baby.

Who the fuck CARES if no one watches? If the millions of idiot Red Sox fans and idiot Dodgers fans and idiot Cubs fans and idiot Yankees fans aren't watching... I'm pretty sure that's a good thing.

What real baseball fan cares about the ratings? In fact, what human being cares about the ratings? It's like Mike Freeman wants to turn the World Series into the goddamn Super Bowl. What I hate most about the goddamn sportswriters is that they're so goddamn phony. They talk about all the great underdog stories like they're the goddamn ducks on the pond and they finally make it to the World Series and nobody cares.

This is nothing against the two franchises themselves. There are plenty of good folks in those clubhouses and front offices. There'll also be some stars on display when the series begins this week. The Rays are a good story and the perennially losing Phillies aren't bad either. But that's it. There's absolutely nothing else compelling about this series.

There's the fact that it's the World Series. I'm sorry there aren't any steroids or Hank Steinbrenners or PettiteGH or BizzOzzie Guillen or Steve Garvey sleeping with someone's mom. It's still the WORLD SERIES.

The biggest problem is the lack of a villain. Boston would have filled that role perfectly as the Patriots did in the Super Bowl last year. But what can you hate about either of these teams?

Interesting point, Mike, suggesting that the series lacks definition because neither team takes a binary opposition. How Lacanian; non-definition breeding aimlessness, CAN'T YOU SEE WE'RE AT LADIES?

You're all phonies because you know I'm right.
You're like the writer who went to Hollywood to write good sports stories and now he writes as a National Writer for Sportsline and you drive around in your sports car and nobody reads your actually good stuff about your secret goldfish.


Here is a picture of Jeff Passan:
Critique #1: the all-caps EXCLUSIVE at the bottom which means that Yahoo! sports is the ONLY PLACE YOU CAN GO to get your JEFF PASSAN FIX.

I never worked hard enough to get me a marketing degree from one of them there universities, but it seems like "exclusive" is only a useful marketing tool if you have a brand actually worth marketing. Jeff Passan Brand Sports Journalism is like Yugo Brand Automobiles, exclusively available in the Chicagoland Area Larry B Imported Cars dealership!

Critique #2: This picture of Jeff Passan, though small and somewhat pixelated, could easily be mistaken for one of the pictures on this site.

Now: on to his actual writing: "Baseball's Crown Event is Beyond Repair

Overly hyperbolic title. The World Series once got canceled by a strike. A fucking rainout isn't going to make it beyond repair.

This World Series is beyond salvaging.


It is a disaster borne of people who think cowbells and haircuts make them fans,

You're nobody to lecture on personal appearance.

owners so greedy they accept late-October baseball and late-evening start times,

A charge which you offer no solution for.

and a commissioner who unilaterally changes a rule while he’s carrying the book in his left hand.

A change which everyone in the inhabited (and uninhabited) universe recognizes as a necessary and intelligent change to make.

Game 5 is suspended. Rain washed through Citizens Bank Park from the beginning of the Philadelphia Phillies' potential championship clincher to the sixth inning, when the Tampa Bay Rays tied the score 2-2. The game is supposed to resume Wednesday night. It is on Mother Nature, which is a good thing, because if it were up to the baseball gods, they would smite the series before it could continue any longer.

Baseball gods don't exist. And if there were baseball gods, they would be more likely to listen to me than to you.

Re: the decision to start game 4:
The conditions were fine for playing. It’s just that the entire country was in its REM cycle, baseball hardly a competitor for sleep.

So here, Jeff Passan complains that baseball made a decision that was counter to getting higher ratings in order to complete the Series on time. This might have made sense, especially considering that the Phillies' fans might have flown halfway across the country to go to this one game. But no - the people IN the stadium don't count!

Such is the norm, too, with the 8:30 p.m. start times now typical for World Series games – and the remainder of the postponement, which will begin at 8 p.m. Thank MLB again for that. It got into bed with Fox for a long-term $3 billion deal. Fox requested a later first pitch. MLB obliged. The guys in suits win. The kids with hats and genuine interest in the game, and not the green it generates, lose.

I actually kind of like his point. Screw the networks. But here's the thing, Jeff: you can't bitch about MLB starting a game REALLY late because nobody can watch it, but then also bitch about MLB starting a little later so that people CAN watch it.

You can't have your hair-gel and eat it too, Jeff.

When two teams get together, no matter the size of the market or depth of the history, and play a to-the-max series with the requisite drama that accompanies a great matchup, it is magic. Baseball doesn’t need the Yankees or Red Sox. Minnesota and Atlanta did just fine in 1991.

Please tell this to Mike Freeman.

And that, actually, is the only thing that can turn this debacle around and help MLB avoid it being the Rain Series or the Delay Series or the Atrociously Umpired Series or the Series No One Cared About.

Every single memorable world series has to do with the spectacular plays on the field, and nothing to do with MLB decisions. 1960? Oh, that was because MLB set up the greatest and most dramatic upset ever! 2001? Oh, that must have been MLB setting the Yankees up to lose.

Series get Proper Names because of the baseball. Other than deliberately telling fans to pull Maiers or Bartmans, it's hard for the big brass to add intrigue. That's the players' jobs.

The questions crossing everyone’s mind Monday night were how to keep weather from so adversely affecting the biggest games of the year. Shorten the regular season? No chance the owners would lose the revenue.

No chance fans would want this either. What an idiotic solution, and Jeff Passan's such a two-faced moron for suggesting that only the owners' greed would shoot this down. Every respectable fan (especially the ones who recognized the endless * battle that happened LAST time they changed the length of the season) recognizes that this is not a solution. 162 is fucking sacred, man.

Do it by playing doubleheaders every other Saturday, shaving nearly two weeks from the season? Again, revenue would lag, and the players’ union almost certainly would say no.

Do we really need to reschedule the entire season just because one game - the first time in a hundred years? No... you're just a hand-wringing space-filler.

Schedule a neutral-site World Series? No thanks.

Wow, Jeff! We agree! (This, by the way, is about the stupidest solution to the "problem" I've heard).

Sometimes, nothing can save baseball from itself. Not even global warming.

Sometimes, baseball doesn't need to be saved.

But baseball journalism sure does, and that's why we're here!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Quick, Let's Anecdotally Make a Distinction that Doesn't Even Exist

Jon "I'm Terrified of Things that are New" Heyman, re: Phillies GM Pat Gillick-

Gillick's success in Philly is another point in favor of scouts over stats in the debate about the value of the two strategies.

I like the use of "another" in this sentence, as if everyone paying attention to this debate should know full well that those in the "scouts" camp are clearly miles ahead. This is like saying "My friend Angelo's ice cream preference is another point for chocolate over vanilla in the debate about which flavor is better."

Gillick puts a lot of faith in his scouts,

There are dozens, nay, hundreds of MLB teams that put no faith whatsoever in their scouts. There's a joke amongst these teams' general managers that when scouting reports arrive, they are immediately placed in "the special circular file." (The special circular file is actually a trash can!)

employs a stable of experienced scouts

The Cubs, Giants, and Twins have recently folded their scouting programs altogether. The money saved by this measure will be put towards buying more supercomputers that know where to find talented young baseball players.

and relies on their eyes rather than a bunch of numbers anyone can read.

If computers are so great, why can't they tell who's going to be an All-Star based just on how 18 year old kids look when they put on their uniforms? Why can't they find good pitchers based solely on how mean the pitchers look when they stare into the batter's eyes?

Also: saying baseball stats are just a bunch of numbers anyone can read is like saying Tolstoy is just a bunch of words anyone can read.

Also, and most importantly: pretending like any team in baseball today, let alone one capable of winning a pennant and maybe a World Series, is not depending a lot on both scouting and statistical analysis is mind-numbingly retarded.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Someone put an end to MMQB, please

6. New England (5-2). If you had told me the Pats would lose Tom Brady in the first hour of the first game, and would play a quarterback as green as Kermit the Frog, and would play like the '76 Bucs in losses to the Dolphins and Chargers, and would be 5-2 and tied for first in the division midway through the season ... well, let's just say I would have wondered if you were all there.

And, if you'd have told me that Peter King would continue to be fat. And, Peter King would continue to be lazy. And, Peter King would continue to oggle Brett Favre. And, Peter King would continue to annoy every NFL player with 3 am text messages eight weeks into the season ... and, and, and, and ... well, let's just say I would have completely believed you.

9. Chicago (4-3). Twenty-five career starts for Kyle Orton. A little early to start thinking about Orton being the long-term quarterback, but it has to be something Jerry Angelo and Lovie Smith are pondering.

On the one hand, it's too early to start thinking about this. But, on the other hand, the GM and coach are thinking about this.

14. Atlanta (4-3). Every game Matt Ryan has to struggle and get bloodied and knocked down and go through adversity is another game closer to making him a top-10 quarterback in the league.

For the record, things that make you a top-10 quarterback in this league:

1. Rocket arm
2. Ridiculous precision on passes
3. A solid understanding of NFL defenses
4. Ability to go through progressions accurately
5. Some valuable skill players would help


67. Taking a beating, struggling with your passing, getting bloodied, getting knocked down, going through adversity, and going 23-44 with two interceptions in week eight of your rookie season.

Stat of the Week

Chad Pennington is money on money drives. I find it amazing that a man who got to Miami less than a month before opening day can know the offense as well as Pennington does. How well does he know it? Miami has had 16 touchdown drives in its seven games this year. On those 16 drives, Pennington has completed 88.9 percent of his passes (56 of 63).

What's a money drive? I take it to be, roughly, the last two minutes of the first half, or at any point in the fourth quarter when your team is ahead by less than eight or trailing. Peter King, you define it as, well, as any drive ending in a touchdown pass. So, you're saying that on drives that ended in a touchdown pass - the ultimate success for a quarterback - he was good at completing passes? Got it. What a stat of the week.

e. The legend of Matt Ryan grows. How'd he thread the needle past Asante Samuel for that 55-yard TD throw to Roddy White?

Same way he managed to throw the aforementioned two picks and assist in losing the game.

g. Who's thinner, Jimmy Johnson or Jennifer Aniston?

Let's see ... we can figure this out ... is the answer A or B?

h. Europe finally saw some offense. 2008: 69 points in London. 2007: 23 points in London by the Giants and Miami.

Yesterday in London: perfect weather, the Chargers with a very solid offense, versus the Saints, who you mentioned earlier can't stop anyone. London, circa 2007, pouring rain, with the Giants, a defense you laud just about every single week, and the Dolphins, who were very, very bad at scoring points last season.

Also, when you say "finally," can that refer to the second occurrence of one thing being better or substantially different than the first? Ponder this: let's say Matt Ryan had had a really awful week one, but a phenomenal week two. Would Mr. King have written, "Finally, Matt Ryan has a good game?"

Somehow, I doubt it.

6. I think -- and I said this all week -- that there are so many reasons why Kellen Winslow is probably not long for Cleveland, but there is one overriding one: money. The staph-mania is a legitimate story, and the Browns have to continue their vigilance to make sure the infections don't continue to be any more of a problem in Cleveland than they are for any other franchise. But the biggest source of tension Winslow has with the team is that he's had two very good years and two years when a knee injury kept him off the field.

Biggest concern for Cleveland: money.

Concerns listed by King: Staph infection, and Injuries keeping him off the field.

b. Who's better on play-action than Chad Pennington? You've got to see how he froze the Buffalo front on a first-half touchdown throw.

Peyton Manning says, "hello." Also, the point of play action is not to freeze the front, but rather the secondary, into thinking it's a running play, so that your receivers can get behind them.

i. Andre Johnson had a 41-catch, 593-yard October for Houston. That would translate to 164 catches and 2,372 receiving yards for a full season. This just in: You've got to mention Johnson with Randy Moss (who had his 800th catch Sunday) and Larry Fitzgerald among the elite wideouts.

One month does not a career make. Johnson has had two 1000-yard seasons in his first five seasons. Moss is eight for his first ten.

9. I think I've got this piece of old business from the Favre-Matt Millen-Packers love triangle broken last week by Jay Glazer on FOX: Millen told Favre last week that Detroit defensive coordinator Joe Barry was the source for the story that Favre discussed Packer offensive stuff with Millen. Barry has declined to comment on the story. I have tried to reach Millen, without success.

I did speak to Favre last week. He is steadfast that he gave the Lions nothing of substance, including the kind of code words a quarterback would say at the line that would indicate an audible or specific change of play, and is adamant that what FOX called "a 90-minute dissertation on every single thing that the Green Bay Packers do on offense'' never happened. Without Millen's side of the story, I can't substantiate that one way or the other.

When you first spoke to Favre, you basically reported that he hadn't contacted the Lions at all. Shortly thereafter, you reported that Favre had spoken to the Lions, but it may or may not have been about substance.

Excuse me for pointing out you're possibly the least biased person to ever tell us what's happening in the life of #4.

a. Guess I was wrong about the Rays. That's the thing about a short series. You get a couple of guys in a slump (Carlos Pena, Evan Longoria) and it's all over before they can get out of it.

It's 3-1. It's a best of seven series. It's not over yet.

d. There are about 10 movies I want to see. Recommendations?

They all suck. On second thought, you might like High School Musical 3.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

I Watched the First Six Innings of the Game Last Night

And in doing so, I picked up the following eight pieces of garbage which Tim McCarver's mouth littered out of my TV set. (Despite my lack of DVR, all are printed here verbatim or very close.) Chris W and I had a discussion about Timmy- we agree that unlike, say, Joseph Q. McBrainless Morgansheffield, McCarver actually has a pretty decent head/brain on his shoulders. His problem is that the connection between said head/brain and his mouth is tenuous at best. He's got a lot to contribute... but he's unable to do so because he's inarticulate. He's like a less excitable version of Shannon Sharpe.

So why is this a big deal? Isn't it a little nitpicky to go after him when his crime (usually) is not stupidity, but rather struggling to put his thoughts into words? Well, I'm glad you asked. My stance is this: due to the fact that he's employed as a television broadcaster, i.e., he is paid to talk into a microphone and explain things to viewers, we're holding him to a perfectly reasonable standard by criticizing each and every dumb thing he says. So let's get to the head-scratchers.

1. During the pregame scouting report (that term being used loosely here, thanks, FOX) about Andy Sonnanstine:

[He]... might be the best thing a teammate could say about him... is that he's just a winner.

First of all, that sentence is either missing several words or is simply poorly spoken. Second, Sonnanstine's career regular season record: 19-19. Record in last night's game: 0-1. This "He's just a winner!" bullshit is the kind of half-hearted attempt at praise broadcasters give to players who don't actually have much talent, but play for successful teams. See: Young, Vince.

2. After Jimmy Rollins leads off the game with a double and moves to third on a Jayson Werth flyout:

The Phillies once again with a chance to score a cheap run here early.

I don't disagree with Tim that there are such things as "cheap" runs. However, I strongly disagree that a guy who leads off with a double and then comes around on two sac flies/groundouts scored "cheaply." A cheap run is like a HBP, a failed pickoff attempt that goes up the 1st base line and lets the runner get to third, and an error that allows the guy to score. Runs that score because of extra base hits are almost always very, very expensive.

3. Referring to Philadelphia's poor performance in the series thus far in terms of getting hits when runners are on base:

It's almost as if the Phillies can't score a run unless they drive in themselves! With a teammate... uh... (trails off)

Good point in the first sentence there. In the first three games of the series, they'd hit six solo home runs and only scored ten runs total. However, Tim, once you've made that point, maybe it's time to quit while you're ahead, shut up, and let Joe Buck fill up the airwaves with more of his smarmy drivel.

4. After Jimmy Rollins reaches on an Akinora Iwamura error to open the bottom of the 4th-

When Rollins gets on, he prevents the Phillies from becoming a station-to-station team.

Could you possibly do a worse job of phrasing that idea? It would be tough. I might go with "When Rollins gets on, the Phillies can't not be a team that doesn't go station-to-station." But I'm not sure that stacks up to what Tim said. Also: Rollins ended up scoring when Ryan Howard hit the proverbial three-run homer everyone except the Angels seems to be waiting around for these days.

5. With runners on 1st and 2nd, Iwamura snares a Carlos Ruiz ground ball but doesn't have a play on any of the runners. Tim gets excited.

Think about the wisdom of that play! With 2 outs and a runner on second, infielders are taught to dive for a ball even if they don't have a play!

Whereas, if there isn't a runner on second who could potentially score if the ball gets to the outfield, most infielders will just kind of watch a grounder trickle past them and shrug their shoulders. Also- I'm pretty sure the use of "wisdom" there is a little heavy-handed.

6. Noting that Sonnanstine was not exactly pounding the strike zone:

I wouldn't say the layoff (14 days had passed since his last start) has affected his effectiveness, but it has affected his control.

Sonnanstine's fastball tops out at about 89 mph, and one of his biggest strengths is limiting walks (63 in 324 career innings). I'm pretty sure effectiveness and control are one and the same for him. His biggest problem last night was not doing a good enough job controlling his control.

7. Comparing Tropicana Field to Citizens Bank Park:

The dimensions are not as big here.

Again, we have a problematic disconnect between a thought (good, relevant) and a sentence (sounds like it was orinigally written in Japanese, translated to English, then translated back and forth a couple more times).

8. After a Joe Blanton solo shot makes it 6-2 Phils in the bottom of the 5th:

Normally they only score in one or two big innings. They do not have an offense with those tack on runs, but they do tonight.

Re: the first sentence- Wrong. Wrong, wrong, and wrong. Re: the second sentence- What? What, what, and what?

Given the way Cole Hamels has been pitching this month, there may be but a scant one game left in the 2008 MLB season. Gosh, seems like just yesterday I was waking up at 5:30 in the morning to watch the A's and Red Sox square off in Tokyo. Good thing the NBA is about to start up! And I mean that non-sarcastically. Check the comments section for Chris W's obligatory complaints thereof.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Let's Evaluate Which One of These Occurences Matters Most

There is a serious problem with the ordering of the headlines on ESPN's front page today (Friday).

Here are the first 7, in order.

Report: Two Saints test positive for water pills
Report: Manning had staph infection in Colts camp
Goodell: Rehabbed 'Pacman' could return
Suggs says he 'misspoke' using the word 'bounty'
Ballesteros brain operation finished, eases swelling
Brady has more surgery to battle infection
Shields, Price hold back Phillies for Game 2 win.


But who cares about the World Series? The Yankees aren't in it, the Red Sox aren't in it, and ESPN's not covering it. Big who cares? You know why?

Because Terrell Suggs said there was a 'bounty' on Hines Ward.

That's news, baby.


FMTMQR: Easterbrook Is Actually Much Lamer Than Jack Gives Him Credit For

Looking back on Jack's post from a couple days ago, I realized something. Although he has correctly identified TMQ as a pretentious moron, I feel his post didn't quite do enough to also identify him (TMQ) as a clueless jackass. So here I am, with my longest post in a while, to rant and rave about that. As usual it is unfunny, because I am unfunny. Read at your own peril.

Since I started subjecting myself to his drivel last fall, I've identified what I call Gregg's "Three Pillars of Dumbassery." He constantly bitches and moans about these topics despite being (almost always) completely wrong in his analysis relating to them. If you've been reading the blog for a while, you'll recognize them. They are:

1) His "I Don't Understand Technology" pillar- In which he (embarrassingly) insists that clocks in sports which are accurate to hundreds or tenths of a second are totally pointless. This pillar has finally stopped appearing in his columns this season; I'd like to think that maybe someone sent him this video about Olympic timing doohickeys and it got him to realize how fucking dumb he was being.

2) His "Tragic Oversimplification by Insisting that Changing One Event in the Distant Past Will Automatically Change a Final Outcome" pillar- (catchy name, I know) In which he insists that when team A loses to to team B on a last second field goal, team A should have run up the middle for no gain instead of throwing an incomplete pass at some point ten minutes earlier in the fourth quarter. This would have kept the clock running at that time and subsequently it would have run out before team B could later kick the deciding field goal. Although this claim is pure lunacy 99% of the time he brings it up, I don't ever expect it to disappear because unlike pillar #1 it cannot be proven objectively wrong. Too bad. It's like trying to convince Jemele Hill that the Feds are not picking on Barry Bonds because he is black. I mean, it should be fucking obvious. But since you can't show her a cool internet video that 100% disproves it, she's going to cling to it. (While also claiming that she doesn't defend Bonds just because he's black.)

And that leads us to the topic at hand...

3) His "Coaches Don't Care About Winning or Losing, and Fans and Players Don't Care About Getting Shut Out" pillar. (I'm on fire with these names, aren't I.) This is perhaps the most patently wrong of the three. The basic idea is expressed in one of two ways- either A) pretty much anytime a coach calls for a punt when his team is trailing in the second half, he's a total pussy who has no idea how to win a game, or B) anytime a coach kicks a field goal when his team is being shut out and trailing by a huge margin in the 4th quarter it's a selfish move that he made purely to keep said shutout off his record. Rather than expand upon the ways in which these claims are usually fucking stupid, I'll just provide you with a pile of examples (only from subpoint B because Jack already covered A) from this week's column.

In other football news, over the years, Tuesday Morning Quarterback has grown accustomed to timid coaching decisions.

This is the underlying premise of pillar #3- coaches, who remain employed by making their team look as good as possible (sometimes by trying to win, other times by reducing a margin of defeat when a win is unattainable) don't actually make decisions they think will make their team look as good as possible. No. They make decisions for some... other... selfish reason. Yeah! Selfish. That's a good word to accuse people with. And these accusations make sense when you think about them, as long as shortly before doing so you spent a good ten minutes huffing model airplane glue.

Trailing Chicago 48-31 with nine minutes remaining, Minnesota faced fourth-and-3 on the Bears' 5, and kicked a field goal.

So they were losing by three scores before the field goal... considered the likelihood of a relatively difficult conversion (getting three yards against a scrunched up goal line defense)... and instead did something with a high probability of success that reduced their deficit to two scores. What a bunch of pussies. Brad Childress, you should be embarrassed.

Needless to say, the Vikings went on to lose.

Needless to say, a team trailing by 14 with nine minutes left in a game almost always loses no matter what they do.

Forget the 17-point margin;

Actually, no. Look at the 17 point margin. Then consider the potential benefit of doing something easy that will reduce the margin to 14. Then consider the potential cost of going for the first down and failing to convert.

the hour was late and the Vikings were within view of paydirt. To have hope of winning, they needed a touchdown.

To have hope of winning, they needed to get the margin to two scores. To have better hope of winning, they needed to get the margin to ten. Weigh the costs and benefits. (Now, I'm also not saying the situation is totally obvious. I'm not saying I'm 100% sure the Vikings made the right decision. I'm saying you can't even come close to telling me they made the wrong one. I'm not hearing it.)

Trailing Houston 21-0, Detroit kicked a field goal.

Less defensible, as this keeps the margin at three scores. However, it happened in the 2nd quarter. It was probably a little early to worry about that kind of thing. It was also a 54 yard field goal, attempted on 4th and 10. The odds of converting a 4th and 10, and finishing the drive with a TD (rather than just ending up with a closer field goal that took longer to attain) are, NEEDLESS TO SAY, low.

Needless to say, the Lions went on to lose.

Needless to say, most teams that are bad enough to fall behind by 21 in a little more than a quarter are probably going to lose a lot of their games regardless of how many 4th and 10s they attempt.

Trailing Texas 35-0, Missouri kicked a field goal.

For what it's worth, that got their deficit from five scores to four. It also happened on the last play of the 2nd quarter, when Missouri was 16 yards away from the end zone. This is an even less likely conversion than Detriot's 4th and 10. Additionally, at some point when you're getting run up and down the field and have no points, you just kind of want to get on the board. I would be more critical of this if Missouri kicked a field goal when losing 56-21. Slightly.

Needless to say, the Tigers went on to lose.

Needless to say, a team trailing by 35 late in the first half is probably going to lose.

Fraidy-cat coaching decisions like these are intended to deflect criticism away from the coach.

Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, and..... wrong.

In the first example, the decision was intended to bring the margin from three scores to two. If you can't understand that, you should definitely not be paid to write an NFL column for the largest sports website in America. It worked, and in fact, Minnesota ended up scoring again and getting the ball deep in their own territory trailing by 7 with a minute left. A touchdown there was very unlikely, but it would have sent the game to overtime. Granted, a field goal was less unlikely, and would have sent the game to OT had they successfully converted the 4th and 3. However, if they blew the 4th and 3, the game would have been over right then and there. Again, it's not an obvious decision.

The second and third examples also have nothing to do with deflecting blame. They have to do with taking a decent shot at 3 points instead of taking a very long shot at 7. Gregg's brainlessness in these cases is also manifested in his inability to think about the psychological impact of a huge shutout on people other than the coach. Do you think players like being shut out? Do you think fans like seeing their team get shut out? It's unquantifiable, of course. But I would bet good money that Missouri's players went into the locker room feeling a reasonable amount better about themselves just for the sake of not having a "0" next to their name on the scoreboard. Perhaps this was even the spark that led them to score 28 points in the second half and make the blowout slightly less horrific. (Oh, and they didn't lose 35-31. That would ruin my point if it were the case. Texas scored an extra three TDs themselves in the second half, making the final score 56-31.) Thinking that coaches will do anything other than what is most likely to enable them to keep their jobs (either by winning, or making their institution look less bad in losing) is fucking dumb.

Maybe they make a modicum of sense in college, where margin of victory counts in the polls -- as Missouri's ridiculous field goal boomed, coach Gary Pinkel seemed to fear being blanked and his team dropping out of the Top 25 altogether.

That's not what he was thinking, and they would not have completely dropped from the polls even if the final score had been 56-0. I promise on both counts.

(It was irrelevant that it was the last play of the first half; Missouri was on the Texas 16 and should have tried for a touchdown.)

Wrong, as already explained.

But margin of victory is meaningless in the NFL. When NFL coaches make decisions intended to keep the final score respectable,

Or in Childress and the Vikings' case, to get their team within two scores with 9 minutes left...

or avoid a shutout, while giving up any hope however small of victory,

Contrary to what Gregg thinks, kicking a field goal with 8 minutes left in the 2nd quarter when you're down 21 does not automatically cause you to forfeit the game.

it isn't just bad tactics.

Here's when it would be bad tactics: if the Vikings had been losing by 21 when they kicked that field goal with 9 minutes left. THAT'S bad tactics.

It is unprofessional -- the coach is placing his own résumé and career prospects ahead of the team.

Yes, I'm sure the team would rather take unnecessary risks (example #1) or attempt crazy 4th down conversions when points are available (examples 2 and 3). That selfish coach! Always thinking of only himself!

That's why Herm "I Honor My Contract When I'm in the Mood" Edwards' decision against Tennessee on Sunday ranks among the worst in the annals of sports.

Easy on the hyperbole, Joe Buck.

Undefeated Tennessee led 27-0 with five minutes remaining; Kansas City had fourth-and-goal on the Titans' 8; rather than try for a touchdown and maintain some tiny hope of a comeback, or at least salvage the Chiefs' dignity, Edwards sent in the field goal unit.

Let's see... 27 points = 4 scores... 24 points = 3 scores... 4th and 8 from the 8 is a very unlikely conversion, especially against a defense like Tennessee's... yeah, this seems familiar. I'm getting dumbass deja vu.

Herm wasn't even trying to protect his team's interest; instead he was protecting his own by keeping a shutout off his résumé.

There are two angles to take here, I'm not sure which is more apporpriate.


I think I'll go with "both."

Moving on to a handful of other stupid jackass nuggets from the column:

Stat of the Week No. 4:
Stretching back to last season, Dallas, picked by many touts including the consensus of experts to win the Super Bowl, has lost five of its past nine games.

How dare those pundits pick them to win this year's Super Bowl after they lost their last two games in 2007! What a bunch of lummoxes.

And I Don't Even Drink Gin:
Several British readers including Holly Abbington of Whetstone, England, noted that a week ago, Tuesday Morning Quarterback was No. 2 on the list of "favorite things" -- excuse me, "favourite things" -- being perused on the Web by readers of London's Guardian newspaper.

A joke about how both British people (stereotypically) as well as TMQ are pretentious goes here.

The Real Way Many Kids Reach College:
Here's a spoiler that matters to public policy -- a subplot of the current season of "Friday Night Lights" has Brian "Smash" Williams, graduated from Dillon High but without an athletic scholarship owing to an injury, rehabbing his knee and trying to get an offer from a college. Reader Robert Matranga of Orange, Calif., writes, "The show is giving the implication that a football scholarship is his only ticket to college -- that without it, college is unreachable. Smash's family cannot afford the tuition to Texas A&M, where he hopes to go -- but what about an academic or need-based scholarship? The show's implication that athletic scholarship is the only way Brian can attain college feeds the already poor awareness of federal aid in the form of Pell grants and subsidized loans, plus the need-based aid offered by many colleges directly."

This is an important point. The deck is stacked against African-American males in many respects; one of the few places where the deck is stacked in favor of African-American males is college admission. Most colleges and universities want to increase the black male population in their student bodies, and are generous with financial aid for African-American males who earned good grades. Black teens in fiction are often depicted as seeking athletic scholarships rather than regular need-based and academic scholarship opportunities -- though far more kids of all races attend college on regular need-based aid than on NCAA letters.

Not to say that all of this isn't correct... but boy, doesn't that sound like a thrilling storyline for a prime time drama? Smash Williams desperately wants to earn a football scholarship to Texas A&M! But, you know, if he doesn't get it, he can always just get an academic one too. BUT WHICH WILL IT BE? Tune in to find out.

Scouts Notes: Going into the Oakland game, Brett Favre -- who TMQ contends at this point should legally change his name to "Brett Favre Brett Favre Brett Favre"

TMQ is so unfunny he managed to screw up a joke about Brett Favre's self promotion and overexposure. This is like screwing up a Monica Lewinsky joke in early 1998.

-- had thrown eight of his 13 touchdown passes while already in the red zone. Since Jersey/B's coaches were criticized early in the season for not letting Favre throw near the goal line, they are having him throw near the goal line constantly now. Sunday, with the Jets and Raiders tied 3-3, Favre threw from the Oakland 8-yard line and the hosts were ready, intercepting the pass.

Conveniently omitted from this anecdote is the fact that the interception was thrown on 3rd and goal from the 8. Wow, you mean the Packers didn't call a run from that down and distance? Oh, and the Jets had also just called running plays on 1st and goal from the 6 and 2nd and goal from the 3. So basically... this proves ABSOLUTELY FUCKING NOTHING about the tendencies of the Jets' coaching staff.

Opponents: Expect Favre to throw near the goal line, because Jersey/B's coaches want to avoid further criticism for not letting him throw there.

Also: be ready for most quarterbacks on most teams to throw near the goal line on 3rd and 8, because running on that play would probably be a fucking stupid idea unless it was a well-designed draw or something.

Did Lions Tip the Cowboys? Dallas traded first-, third- and sixth-round draft selections to Detroit for Roy Williams and a seventh-round pick. The seventh-round throw-in is so trivial, it seems like a gratuity: "Here you are my good man, here's your highly paid perpetually complaining wide receiver, and I've thrown in a little something extra for your trouble."

OK, I have to toe a very fine line here. Don't get me wrong- Detroit ripped off Dallas. That's a huge price to pay for any non-QB. That said- Williams is pretty talented. He may be overpaid (Dallas can afford it) and a complainer (likely to subside if he's playing for a winner), but it's not like he sucks or something.

And just a thought: Dallas is foundering, so the solution is to raid the roster of the Detroit Lions?

What? You mean bad teams sometimes have good players? What are you, fucking nuts? Here's a thought for you from last July, Milwaukee Brewers- you're foundering, and the solution is to raid the roster of the Cleveland Indians? Ha! Like that will get you to the playoffs.

The Real Reason for Pass-Wacky High School Offenses -- Summer Practice Rules: Here is last week's New York Times front-page take on the A-11 offense (Page 2 had the story earlier this year. Describing the basic A-11 trick of making all 11 players appear eligible just before the snap, the Times continued, "The difficult task for a team defending against the A-11 is to quickly and accurately figure out who those five eligible receivers are." Wait -- this should be easy, it's whoever goes downfield!

You don't... really... uh... understand how football works, do you? (Note: there's a chance this was a joke and I'm the one that looks like an idiot by trying to make fun of it. If you read it in the full context of the item, you can't really tell. But since we're dealing with TMQ, I decided to not give him the benefit of the doubt. Probably works better this way. And if reader Erik wants to email me and argue that my assessment is incorrect, I hope he sends it to the correct address.)

Happy Hour in Hell's Sports Bar: Hell's sports bar has 28 wide-screen plasma TVs, and now gets DirecTV! But certain blackout rules may apply. On Sunday in the early slot, the TVs in Hell's Sports Bar showed nothing but Ravens at Dolphins and Cowboys at Rams, and the far more attractive Chargers at Bills pairing was not offered. (Wait -- this is what actually happened in the Washington, D.C., television viewing area.)

Well, Chargers/Bills is an all-AFC pairing. That means CBS has the rights and the fact that Rams/Cowboys was on FOX is irrelevant. Ravens/Dolphins is an all AFC pairing too. And Baltimore is 50 miles from DC, meaning there are probably a lot of Baltimore fans in the DC area. This shouldn't be too hard to figure out.

For the highlight program, all 28 screens in Hell's Sports Bar showed nothing but, over and over, winless Detroit kicking a field goal when down 21-0.

On 4th and 10 from their own 37 with 8 minutes left in the 2nd quarter, you fucking... useless... what's the noun I'm looking for... oh yeah. Zilcheroo. Man, if Gregg Easterbrook were here right now, I would FWAP him right across the face. Are we important enough to be self-referential like that? I hope so. I mean, not because I want us to be important. Just because I want to make that reference and have most of our readers get it. And possibly crack a little tiny smile. Or who knows, maybe even get a smidgen of a chuckle out of it. Heh. Heh.

OK, I'm done.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Bill Simmons: deuche who doesn't understand money

From his magazine article listing reasons he loves sports:

Reason No. 949: Gary Bettman
I thought about buying the NHL Package on DirecTV last week so I could have breakup sex with the Bruins for a year.

Right, that or so you could watch them play because you enjoy "seeing their uniforms so much."

Just admit that you're shamelessly jumping back on the bandwagon already and stop with the slow, inevitable march to the "I'M BACK, BABY!" column.

The cost? $169! Really, Gary? That's how you treat your "mostly blue-collar fans who can't afford good seats for games anymore," the ones you've already insulted 300 times over?

So much idiocy going on here:

1. Blue Collar fans can't afford good seats at most professional sports stadiums.

2. This package is cheaper than MLB Extra Innings ($199), NFL Sunday Ticket ($289), and the combination of FSC and Setanta ($300 annually) if you're down with European Footy.

3. If good tickets were available at the "affordable" rate of lets say $20 a person, it would cost a family of four $160 (not including transit and food) to see all of 2 games in person. Meanwhile, they could pay $9 extra and watch literally every fucking hockey game that year.

4. To use a Simmons-y type anecdote/analogy: remember when you were in college and and for the first two years, the local beer distributor had that really awesome price for 30's of Busch Light? Then a month into your junior year, they raised the price by $1 per case. You and all your friends said you were going to boycott the place out of spite, only to go back their that weekend to buy 50 cases for your Halloween party.

The $69 difference between $100 (the price for the NASCAR package) and $169 isn't going to stop a true hockey fan. Real fans are like substance addicts, they'll pay whatever price to watch their team play, regardless of whether or not they enjoy the uniforms. Somehow this fact eludes superfan Bill Simmons, who's probably paid over $169 on Laguna Beach and The Hills DVDs.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Rays Get Edge in World Series by Losing Game 5 to Boston

Normally, when I write a stupid headline like that, I'm kidding.

This time, that case is actually being argued by...



Rays' momentum should make Phillies nervous

Wait a minute...momentum?

Philly should be rusty entering World Series, while Tampa is coming in hot

That's true. The Rays have won one (1) game (game) in a row. Their current postseason baseball winning streak total is The Phillies have won their last two, and are 7-2 in the postseason. Ice. Fucking. Cold.

Nobody in Tampa thought this at the time, but losing Games 5 and 6 of the ALCS to the Boston Red Sox may prove to be the best thing that could have happened to a young team making its first-ever postseason foray.

Even the Rays sweeping the Phillies in 4 games would not "prove" that.

We can say that because the Rays didn’t collapse. They didn't cave to the pressure of Game 7 against the defending World Champions. And in refusing to blink in the white glare of the national spotlight, they’ve been given a huge boost in confidence going into their first World Series.

More confidence than, say, dominating (one of) the best team(s) in baseball?

They’ve also got another weapon they weren’t even aware they had

#1 overall draft pick David Price? Trust me, they were aware of him.

a big-game left-handed closer with blistering speed and composure far beyond what a kid who started the season in Class A should have.

David Price racked up his first major league save ever on Sunday. (You had to listen really closely, but under his breath, one of the commentators mentioned that he's never saved a regular season game before. I don't think he knew his microphone was on.) He's a "closer" now. Funny thing is, ol' Mikey here has no clue that he's ticketed for the rotation pretty darn soon.

The kid’s name is David Price, and if it weren’t for him, Boston would be celebrating its third improbable ALCS comeback in the past five years.

I love this blip here. I really do. It implies that no other pitcher in the world could have come in the game in the 8th inning, bases loaded, 2 outs, TB up by 2, and won the game pitching the last 4 outs. News flash, Celizic. Even though J.D. Drew is really good at baseball, he's gonna fuck this up at least 60% of the time. Price got the job done, but it isn't like it was some inexplicable feat of pitching.

These are huge advantages for a team that had never had a winning record before this season, a team that had finished last season with the major's worst record. The last two season have't been kind to those teams coming in rested.

"Have't" is the world's newest favorite contraction.

Thank you for pointing out something that has more to do with luck than an actual, sustainable trend. Use it to argue whatever idiotic point you want. I, however, will counter with this.

Teams entering World Series with five or more days off and how they fared
Year Days Team Opp. Result
2007 8 Col Bos L, 4-0
2006 6 Det StL L, 4-1
2005 5 ChW Hou W, 4-0
2002 5 Ana SF W, 4-3
2001 5 Ari NYY W, 4-3
1996 6 NYY Atl W, 4-2
1995 6 Atl Cle W, 4-2
1991 5 Min Atl W, 4-3
1990 5 Oak Cin L, 4-0
1989 5 Oak SF W, 4-0
1988 5 Oak LA L, 4-1
Source: Elias Sports Bureau

THIS IS PRINTED ON THE FUCKING SAME PAGE AS YOUR ARTICLE. The team with >5 days rest has gone 7-4 over the last 11 occurrences. You are a fucking idiot for trying to claim something based on the most recent two.

Last year’s Rays were the Colorado Rockies, another young team that hadn’t known much success.

Only the 2008 Rays are significantly better than the 2007 Rockies (sorry Larry).

The Rockies did have more veteran experience, mainly in the person of Todd Helton, but, like the Rays, the postseason was unfamiliar territory.

What the hell is your point? The Rox choked it in the World Series. Why are you mentioning this in an article devoted to explaining why the Rays will win?

The Rockies won 14 of their last 15 games to reach the playoffs, then won eight straight to get to the World Series. At the time, we all thought it was wonderful. It turned out to be the worst thing they could have done because they had eight days to rest before the Fall Classic began.

Dude, I'm going to call the Cause-and-Effect police if you don't shut the fuck up right now.

The problem was that with two weeks to go in the playoffs, the Rockies couldn’t even imagine the playoffs.

THIS is the problem? The Rockies tore apart the Phillies and Diamondbacks, followed by losing to the Red Sox because they couldn't even imagine the playoffs??? Something was wrong with the neural synapses in their brains, inhibiting this concept from entering their minds??? know what, fuck it, I'm drunk (yeah!!!! awesome!!!!), and know nothing about neurological science, and just want to point out cleverly in some way that Celizic is a motherfucking moron for attributing (any)% of
the outcome(s) of the Rockies' 2007 playoff run to how many days of rest they've had.

When they got to the World Series, they were flatter than Kansas.

There's like 20313231231e094 celebrity women who would have made for a funnier punchline at the end of this sentence than "Kansas".

(I am aware that "e" appears as a digit in that number. I wrote it in hexadecimal. Base 16, dontcha know.)

And when the Red Sox lit into them, they had no idea how to fight back.

Huh. "Hitting", "pitching", and "fielding" never entered their minds. Go figure. Major league team. Didn't even think of those things.

The same thing was true for Detroit in 2006, when they entered the World Series on six days of rest, but lost to a Cardinals squad in five games.

Again, what happened the prior 6 times a team entered the World Series on >5 days of rest?

The Tigers had won 96 games that season and trounced the Yankees and A's en route to the World Series. St. Louis barely finished over .500, escaped against the Mets in the NLCS, yet rolled in the World Series. Clearly, the Cardinals were helped by staying on a roll.


This is in the running for "Most Useless Paragraph of All-Time".

The Rays could have been in a similar situation had they beaten the Red Sox in five games, as they might have if manager Joe Maddon hadn’t started fiddling with his pitching rotation.

Woah this Celizic PRAISING the Rays for adjusting their pitching rotation so that they might more likely LOSE game 5???

What the FUCK???

I'll drop this little tidbit for ya. Scott Kazmir got in an argument with Derryl Cousins, the home plate umpire for Game 6, earlier in this season. You think that might have had something to do with the switch? Or also, if you have to win one game out of three, the best chance you have is to adjust your pitchers to favor your team heavily in one specific game. Getting Shields to pitch at home, not against the Boston ace, Matsuzaka, is absolutely the correct move.

They’d have come into the World Series having lost just one of eight playoff games with no clue what it feels like to face a must-win game.

A situation that absolutely crippled the 2005 White Sox, who lost the Series in 4 games to the Houston Astros.

Actually speaking of the White Sox, they won 4 straight do-or-die games this season. Why the hell are the Rays doing this much better than they are? Why didn't the confidence of winning from having their razorbacks against the Great Wall of China propeller blade them deep impact into the playoffs?

See, it's fun to insert nonsense words into arguments that make no sense to begin with.

But they lost Games 5 and 6 and then had to find out just what they had inside. As things turned out, it was more than enough.

Here's some counter-anecdotal bullshit to that anecdotal bullshit.

"The Rays, in losing a dramatic Game 5 on the road and a demoralizing Game 6 at home, squeaked by in Game 7 to barely salvage the American League title. However, they move on to the World Series, their minds scarred by the fact that they almost blew everything. What happens when a good team finds out just how vulnerable they are? Just ask the super-confident Phillies."

Yeah. That oughta show ya.

Just as important as what the Rays know is what their opponents, the Phillies now know. They’ve been sitting around with nothing to do but watch the ALCS since they eliminated the Dodgers on Oct. 15. Besides getting rusty with inactivity, they’ve watched the Rays first dig themselves a hole and then climb out of it. As surely as the Rays now know they can come back against one of the game's best teams, so do the Phils.

The Phillies now know that they're supposed to try super hard EVEN IF they are leading in the World Series, the ultimate championship of all that is baseball. Brilliant point!

Wait, what the fuck? The worst the Rays were losing this series was 1-0. They were NEVER in a significant hole.

As fans, we want a seven-game series and the maximum drama. But the reality is that this World Series could easily turn into a rout, just like the past four Series, three of which were sweeps and one of which ended in five games.

You've yet to make any cogent point about why this will happen. Like, using the past matchups (which were comprised of completely different teams) is totally stupid for doing this.

In the past 10 years, there have been just two Series that went the distance. In the 2002 Fall Classic, the Angels prevailed over the Giants in seven, and in 2001, the Diamondbacks plunging a stake through the heart of the Yankee dynasty with a walk-off Game-7 hit.

The odds of the World Series going 7 games is 31.25%. With all likelihood, 3 of those 10 Serieseses, rather than 2, would have gone 7 games. Huh. When you use facts, that hardly seems worth pointing out at all, eh?

This year’s participants are more likely to go short than long, and the team that is probably in more danger of being swept is Philadelphia. There are several reasons to say that. One is that the Phillies are facing more pressure.

With all due respect to the fans and everything, I don't think that Brad Lidge and Pat Burrell care about what happened to the Phillies in like the 90's or anything.

Blame their history for that. As bad as the Rays have been before this year, the Phillies have been bad for almost forever. They have lost more games than any team in major league history, a distinction helped by the fact they’ve been playing the game since 1876.

Again, Shane Victorino probably doesn't give a shit.

They’ve also been waiting since 1983 to get back to the World Series and since 1980 to win it again. That 1980 flag remains their lone championship banner.

See, this is absolutely terrible. The Phillies made the World Series in 1993. Before you think this is a typo, they made the World Series in 1983 as well, making it perfectly plausible that HatGuy is a fucking moron that knows nothing about anything. That's all I'm trying to prove here. It's not a lot to ask that you just believe me.

In Tampa, the newspapers are congratulating the Rays. In Philly, they’re writing about the Phillies' past failures and asking the players why this year should be any different than all the others.

Again, you failed to point out the part where Carlos Ruiz and Brett Myers get negatively affected by this.....

There are no curses in sports, or in life.

Finally, reason wins.

But prolonged losing streaks are helped along by the pressure heaped upon the teams.

We would also have accepted: variance.

Players tend to try so hard to prove they’re not losers that they make the mistakes that turn them into losers.

Jamie Moyer lost all ability to throw hard way before he was a well-known, crafty pitcher. You think he needs to win this World Series to prove he's not a loser? How about Ryan Howard? That 2006 MVP screaming "loser" in the back of his mind?

The only curse Tampa has worked against during the franchise’s lifetime is lack of talent and money. They’ve got the talent now, and they know it. They also know that they can come back because they’ve already done it.


Actually, this is hilarious. This is the 2nd time that Celizic has made this awful inference, but he clearly believes that the Rays "came back" by winning game 7 of the ALCS when the series was tied.

The Phillies are a powerful team, but they don’t know what they can do.

What kind of thing to say is that? "They don't know what they can do????" You disgust me.

They only know that they were swept in the NLDS last year by the Rockies and they sailed past the Brewers and Dodgers this year, never facing a game that they absolutely had to win.

Might I remind you that before Game 7 of the ALCS, the Rays were never in a situation when they absolutely had to win the game, and they still won that game anyway.

Last year, The Rockies sat for a week waiting for the Series to start. Once it did, all their momentum was gone.

They were the inferior team, and weren't very fortunate in the World Series. Nothing else to say here.

Had the Rays taken care of business in Game 5, I would've said the Phils had the edge. But they didn’t, and in losing they became stronger.

This is the most ridiculous sentence I have ever read. Not only does the fact that the Rays didn't win in only 5 games mean NOTHING, but you would have honestly taken the Phillies? You'd take the Phillies over the team with home field advantage that won 97 games in the best division in baseball? REALLY????? Fuck you and your unjustified having-a-job abilities.

They’re no longer strangers to winning, to post-season play or to must-win games. They’ve been there and done that.

If I were a Phillies’ fan, I’d be afraid. I’d be very, very afraid.

Because they're a worse team and Evan Longoria owns Brad Lidge's soul?

Yeah, that's what you're getting at.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Gregg Easterbrook: Wrong like always

Zack Galifinakis has this bit called "The Pretentious Illiterate." In the bit, Galifinakis listens to an argument about literature, then responds by slowly taking off his glasses and saying "And I already told you, I can't read."

That's essentially how Easterbrook responds to all the logical fallacies of his punting/field goal theory.

Buck-Buck-Brawckkkkkkk No. 1: With Carolina leading 13-7, New Orleans faced fourth-and-2 from its 39, and punted; three snaps later, Carolina was leading 20-7. The Saints have the league's No. 1 offense statistically, averaging 6.3 yards per snap. What's the point of having a high-powered offense if you're afraid to try for 2 yards? Toward the end of the contest, trailing big and desperate, the Saints twice went on fourth-and-short and twice missed. A small gamble when the game was still close might have changed the outcome.

Yeah that might've helped. Just like if they'd gone for it on 4th and 2 and didn't convert, it might've helped to punt it away there. Congratulations on knocking over that straw man.

Buck-Buck-Brawckkkkkkk No. 2: With Les Mouflons leading 24-7 in the third quarter, Dallas lined up to go for it on fourth-and-1 from the St. Louis 24. The Cowboys jumped offsides, and the TV announcers immediately said, "Now Dallas has to kick." No you don't, go for it anyway! So what if it's now fourth-and-6 on the 29, Dallas needed to recover the momentum and create some hope. Instead, the Boys' field goal unit came on and the football gods, disgusted, pushed the try wide. Before the kick was launched, TMQ wrote the words "game over" in his notebook.

FACT: Gregg Easterbrook constantly bandies about the average NFL play from scrimmage gaining 5 yards. Now he says Dallas should've gone for it needing 6 yards.

FACT: Dallas was down 3 scores. Regardless of whether they kicked a field goal or scored a touchdown, they would be down by 2 scores.

FACT: The footbal gods had nothing to do with Nick Folk's missed field goal.

Buck-Buck-Brawckkkkkkk No. 3: Scoring to pull within 48-34 of Chicago with nine minutes remaining, Minnesota did not onside kick, but rather kicked away. Scoring to pull within 48-41 with three minutes remaining, Minnesota kicked away again. Needless to say, the Vikings lost.

Kicking away with 9 minutes left clearly hurt Minnesota's chances to win because they'd pulled to within 7 points with 3 minutes left. In addition, Minnesota got the ball back with 1:06 left, and would've had nearly a full 2 minutes if their defense had held Chicago to only 4 downs.

Conversely, if Minnesota kicks onside and Chicago recovers, they're about in field goal range already, and even if they don't get a field goal, the Vikes are going to be pinned somewhere behind the 20 yard lune.


Sportsmanship Watch: Luke Thompson of Winfield, Kan., notes that last month, Tulsa led Central Arkansas 55-34 with a minute remaining yet was frantically throwing the ball, trying to run up the score. On Saturday, Tulsa beat UTEP 77-35, frantically running up the score: ahead 63-35 Tulsa was still throwing deep, and ahead 70-35 in the fourth quarter, continued throwing. Tulsa wants the media to notice its team. Hey Tulsa, here's some media notice -- for bad sportsmanship. Here's how it is done with class: USC was leading 48-0 at the end of the third quarter against Washington State, and did not attempt a fourth-quarter pass.

1. The BCS system rewards teams for lopsided victories you fucking asshat.
2. USC had a shut out going against WAZU and had a bigger lead than Tulsa had on any of those opponents. Also, USC intercepted a pass in the end zone with 12 seconds left and tried to run it back for a touchdown.
3. USC was beating Ohio State 35-3 in the 4th quarter and attempted 7 passes. Eat shit.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

There Are Probably About 30 Minutes Left in the ALCS

So this is definitely not a very timely post. Still, I have to request that Chip Caray stop referring to batted balls that make contact on the bat near the hitter's hands as having been "fisted." "Fisted to right... Drew is there." "Fisted towards Longoria." "Fisted.... just foul!" It really... how should I put this... uh.... there's just gotta be a better way to describe these hits. Please stop.

Update: Might as well turn this into a micro liveblog. Buck Martinez, on Rays reliever David Price-

Price was the winner in game 2 of this series. The irony of that was that he won a Major League postseason game before he won a regular season game!

Maybe that would be ironic if his name was David Regularseasonwin or something. As things actually are... Buck, you're not even close.

In addition to my proposed moratorium on "fisted," let's also just stop letting announcers try to identify irony. About 3% of them can do it correctly, and I just don't think the potential benefit to viewers of letting that 3% continue is worth the terrible cost to viewers of letting the other 97% continue to fuck it up.

Also, the Rays are now three outs away from winning this series. Is it really going to happen? Am I going to lose $20 to Dan-Bob, yet win happiness in Boston's demise that is worth so much more? We'll find out. I won't believe it until I see the Rays going apeshit in the clubhouse and Terry Francona giving a somber press conference.

Updated update: Slap my mouth and call me Joe Buck. They really did it. If you went to Vegas in March 2007 and found an oddsmaker that would take a $100 bet from you that the Rockies and Rays would each win a pennant in the next two years, how much would your payout be? A jillion dollars? I shouldn't answer my own rhetorical questions, makes me sound like Simmons. SPEAKING OF WHICH, segue.

Hey Bill... it's really great that you wrote a 15,000 word article on Friday about how the Sawks mounted a very cool and memorable comeback in game 5, beat the imaginary "curse of October 16th," or whatever you want to call it, and that they didn't get eliminated at home. But guess what? Go stick a plunger in a toilet and sit on it. You and your team both stink.


One last update: John Kruk was just asked about the ramifications of the Rays starting Scott Kazmir in game 1 of the World Series. I think his response was the single smartest thing I've ever heard out of his mouth. I can't quote it directly, but his point was basically that the Phillies' power threats off the bench are all left handed. (Stairs, Jenkins, and maybe Dobbs [if your definition of "power threat" is flexible]) So by starting a lefty in the AL park, Joe Maddon probably forces Charlie Manuel to start backup catcher Chris Coste at DH. This subsequently makes pinch running for either catcher in the lineup dicey because if the other gets injured, everything goes to shit.

The Rays won a pennant.... John Kruk is talking sense... wow. Time to start watching the Arizona Cardinals verrrrrrry closely, and perhaps expecting Peter King to stop being fat and stupid. Or at least stop being stupid.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Alright, That's It, E-FUCKING-NOUGH

I don't remember if I put up a post about this last fall. I remember starting one, but I don't think I finished it because it got too complex and didn't drive home my point as efficiently as I wanted. So this time around, I'm going to keep it simple.

Dear (Football) Announcers,

You don't fucking need to fucking use "football" as a qualifier/quasi-adjective every fucking five fucking seconds when you're calling a fucking game. Let me explain-

You don't need to say things like "There's a lot of hard hitting going on today in this football game." You can just say, "in this game." We'll know what kind of game you're talking about.

You also don't need to say "And here you can see the training staff helping the injured player off the football field." You can just say, "off the field." We'll know what kind of field you're talking about.

Finally, and most importantly, you don't need to say "He's the best player on this football team." You can just say, "on this team." WE'LL KNOW WHAT KIND OF TEAM YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT.

Sorry for yelling. It's just that I'm at the end of my rope with this bullshit. It's un-fucking-necessary. It's become so distracting for me that I can barely watch games with the sound turned on anymore. Your cooperation with my requests would be greatly appreciated.


A (Football) Fan

P.S.- This goes for studio analysts as well. Mike Ditka, I'm looking at you in particular.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Politics, Bud Selig, and Nutley, New Jersey

At first, I was going to post about an article in The Hockey News about Sarah Palin dropping the puck in Philadelphia. The article was pretty bitter, bad, and overall a FireJay winner. But you don't come here for politics. You come here to escape politics. That's why I come here.

Well tough nails, Judy, here's something that could be construed to be political in a way.

You can stop if you want. If you want to leave right now, here's a story about how you lead a better life than this guy. I can say that my own Price is Right story ended in heartbreak as well, but I didn't go that far.

Larry declared this nitpick week, and nitpick I shall. In the course of a normal day, I use Firefox to browse RSS feeds from around the internet. Having just added a fabulous tool to Firefox to display all of the text in Live Bookmark headlines, I wandered on over to Ad Age. Here's the whole article:

WASHINGTON ( --Major League Baseball has moved back the scheduled start time of a possible game six of the World Series so Fox can also air the half-hour spot from Sen. Barack Obama on Oct. 29.

A network spokeswoman confirmed the buy and said MLB had agreed to the network's request for the delay.

Fox now joins CBS and NBC in airing the half hour program, whose content the Obama campaign has declined to describe. The decision means the Obama campaign is now spending close to $3 million to air the program from 8 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. that night on at least three networks. ABC didn't immediately return a message asking whether it too has now agreed to a buy, a move which would create an unprecedented roadblock of the nation's biggest commercial networks.

Fox had originally been scheduled to start airing the baseball game at 8:20 p.m. but is now expected to start the game at 8:35 p.m.

In other words, "Hey Jughead, didja hear? The Supreme Court reversed..."

Nothing wrong with that, $1 million speaks in the world of television. In fact, dan-bob has fantastically noted the intrinsic greed of television and money.

But sometimes - and I'm not saying that it happens here - the commenter comes through for a nitpicker in a pinch. Patrick Kehoe from chortle-worthy Nutley, New Jersey weighs in.

1 Comment
Are you kidding me!!! Now baseball has gone political. This 30 minute buy is absolutely ridiculous, like we haven't seen enough of Obama and McCain. Hey Bud Selig, you suck! – Patrick Kehoe | Nutley, NJ

Yes, Bud Selig sucks. He's the reason that this time, it counts. Complain about Selig putting every LDS game on basic cable. Blame him for the Steroid Era if you want. But who is getting a cool million from Obama for 30 minutes of time here? MLB might see a little bit of it, but FOX is who you have a beef with, Nutley. Usually you can't get away form politics because it's every ad right now. Or because some loser in Missouri decided to post this to a sports blog.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Steve Phillips: Beautifully Tanned... and Stupid

Re: Rafael Furcal's 3 error performance in the top of the 5th tonight-

This is so surprising because he only made 4 errors during the entire regular season! I mean, he did miss a lot of time... but still, only 4 errors!

That's what it sounds like when the capable 5% of an idiot's brain tries to overcome the useless 95% and inevitably fails. Furcal did indeed miss a lot of time. In fact, he missed 136 games. He played in 26; for those of you without an abacus, that's around 15% of the season. If Furcal had played a full 162, he was on pace to end up with about 24 errors. Obviously three in one inning is a cataclysm no matter how you slice it, and well ahead of that 162 game pace. I'm just nitpicking because Steve Phillips deserves to be nitpicked.

This is like having an NFL quarterback get injured after throwing two interceptions while playing in three regular season games, returning for the playoffs, subsequently throwing two in one quarter, and having Troy Aikman gasp in astonishment because "He only threw two interceptions all year! I mean, he missed some time..."

I think I'll officially declare this nitpick week here at FireJay. Oh, and it's also misspelling week.

John Kruk is retarded

I hate to bury Larry's liveblog from the Rays / Sox game last night. Rumor has it it's worth the read.

But, I have to bring you this.

John Kruk ended the 11pm Sportscenter tonight with a taped segment in which he was to answer the question Is the Dodgers / Phillies series going to end Wednesday night?

ON TAPE, Kruk responds:

"If the Dodgers are going to continue on in this postseason, it's going to rely on the arm of right hander Chad Billingsley."

So, let me see if I get this straight. If the Dodgers want to win game five, their pitcher needs to pitch well? Got it.

...about two sentences later...

"If this series is going to go on though, they're [the Dodgers] going to have to figure out a way to beat Cole Hamels."

So, if the Dodgers want to win game five, they need to beat the pitcher pitching for their opponent. Possibly, they'll need to score some runs. Woah.

Seriously. John Kruk taped this segment. This wasn't something he had to answer on the spot. This was planned.

I've searched the four corners of the interweb to figure out how much money John Kruk (rhymes with duck) is stealing from ESPN. Sadly, no statistics can be found. But, here's a representation of how he feels when he goes home.

[edit: My apologies for the spelling errors. I really have no excuse for them, other than "shut the hell up and worry about something important." Like, what the Dodgers can do to beat the Phillies tonight.}

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

LiveBlog: Game 4, Rays @ Red Sawx

Let's jump right in. Larry's commentary will be in italics.

Bottom of the 1st

Buck Martinez: [Sonnanstine's] a tough guy to scout, because he won't light up the gun.

It's tough to describe the sun, because it's big and bright and hot.

Top of the 3rd

Situation: Carl Crawford is on 1st base with 2 outs for Willy Aybar. Wakefield just pitched out to make the count 1-0.

Buck Martinez: If you gamble, you pitch out twice in a row. And you're in a situation in which you have to gamble


Dude there's a guy on first with two outs. You almost can't get less threatened than this. You don't "have" to do anything.

Edit: Crawford stole the base anyway, Aybar cranks a 2-run HR. Nice one, Bucky. GAMBLE DUUUUUUDE!

Side note: These commentators went ballistic for a single that put runners on first and second for teh Sawks in the bottom of the 2nd. Aybar's home run involved significantly less enthusiasm. Shades of Chris Berman in 2005!

Chip Caray: What do you guys think, are these Rays playoff tested?

Ron Darling: (In a tone that suggests stern agreement) I think they've been playing playoff series for the past two months.

Oh, so if you don't have your division clinched by August 14th, you're playing in "playoff series[es]" until you're eliminated. That's sweet. Turns out my Rockies didn't actually miss the postseason this year- they got almost a month's worth of playoff experience before the DBacks and Dodgers put them away.

Top of the 5th:

Carl Crawford is on second base with 1 out.

Buckaroo: "It's especially important to steal 3rd base in Fenway Park, because the left fielder is so close. It's so hard to score from second on a base hit."

Unless the base hit is to center or right, of course. But yeah, let's risk stealing 3rd with one out, when a lefty is up and a switch hitter is on deck, to help make sure our guy can score on a single to left.

(Immediately after this, Willie Aybar singles to left and Crawford scores from second without a throw.)

- I'm going to punch my basement wall with all the strength my frail little arms can muster if they don't stop showing that DirecTV ad from "Poltergeist." Here's a fucking tip, DirecTV- make multiple ads and run them all at the same time, instead of individually beating them into the ground one after another.

- You're next, Bacardi "guys intentionally wear Halloween costumes that complement girls' costumes" ad.

- Buck spends 30 seconds recapping the now-famous failed squeeze play from game 4 of the Red Sox/Angels ALDS series. He goes out of his way to praise Manny Delcarmen for "knowing that a squeeze was a possibility," because the Angels had pulled one on the Red Sox when he was on the mound earlier in the year. That's all well and good, until TBS shows the replay and it is revealed (yet again) that Delcarmen threw a knee-high pitch with no break (could have been a fastball or a changeup) during the play in question. Yeah, if you think someone is going to try a squeeze on you, that's the way to ward it off. Here batter, I dare you to bunt this nice low strike. Let's see you use that one! Fortunately for the Red Sox, Erick Aybar (Angels batter during the failed squeeze) just sucks.

- I know you're specifically asking me not to, TBS, but I have a sneaking suspicion I'm going to miss those new episodes of Frank TV starting October 21.

- Not to keep complaining about commercials, but I'm going to keep complaining about commercials.

These days it seems like you have to be a physics professor to pick out a TV.

No it doesn't. Not at all. You need a recent issue of Consumer Reports and a couple of hours to comparatively shop.

Luckily, I AM ONE.

Go fuck yourself, albino douche.

- As the score balloons to 10-1, Buck has some Kornheiser-esque understatment.

I bet the Red Sox are happy they have an off day tomorrow!

Tony would be proud.

- Chip, after David Ortiz triples to lead off the 7th:

The biggest deficit ever overcome in a postseason game is 8 runs. Hey, you never know!

The Rays are up 10. I think it's fair to say "We know."

- Buck, re the Rays: (rhetorically) Who are these guys?

You may want to build a time machine and go back to May, June, July, August, September, or a week ago and ask that question. I think it just recently crossed the threshold from annoying to ridiculous.

- Time to nitpick with Chip!

If this game ends in the win column for the Rays, there may not be a bigger game in the career of young James Shields than the one he will pitch on Wednesday as he tries to close out this series.

Oh, but if Boston mounts a ridiculous comeback and ties the series at 2 games a piece, Sheilds' start in game 5 really won't be that big of a deal.

- This was the lousiest liveblog we've done so far. Sorry everyone. We really are a bunch of zilcheroos. However, I think part of this is mitigated by the fact that the game was fucking sweet. After last year, I'm not calling the SAWKS dead until they're really dead. But seeing fans filing out of Fenway in the 7th inning of an ALCS game... extremely entertaining.

In conclusion, choke on a pole, Boston. I hope you win game 5 so you can come back and get eliminated in your own stadium.

[Late edit by Larry B- that last joke would work a lot better if the LCSes actually used the 2-2-1-1-1 format rather than the 2-3-2. As usual, I'm fucking stupid. So I guess I just hope the Red Sox lose on Wednesday. But Friday or Saturday would be acceptable too.]