Monday, June 30, 2008

Best Title I Could Come Up With: Jemele Hill Flat Out Sucks at Writing About Sports

After more than a year at this blogowebpage, I'm starting to feel like I can assign specific adjectives to some of the writers we most frequently critique. When I think Mariotti, I think "ignorant." When I think Simmons, I think "obnoxious." And when I think Jemele Hill, it gets simpler: I think bad. She's terrible. She's just... fucking awful. I'm not linking the article. It's her most recent as of Sunday night.

More than a week has passed since the Boston Celtics won the NBA championship, and I've been patiently waiting for someone to point out the obvious.

Well, you're the sportswriter with the national audience. Maybe some dude in a bar in North Dakota made whatever point you're looking for, but it's unlikely more than six people heard him. Why don't you go out on a limb and take care of this big announcement yourself?

Fine, let me be the bearer of bad news.

Great. Glad you finally gave in.

The Western Conference is overrated.

That's it? That's your big point? Let's count the ways in which that is dumb and/or wrong.

1) Arguments about which conference/league/division is tougher or better than its counterparts are lame and pointless to begin with except in very special circumstances. (I'm honestly not sure I can make it through another college football season with this bullshit as the backdrop/main talking point. I might just have to take a fall off and hope that people find something else to yammer about by 2009. Yes, SEC, you have a lot of good teams. We get it. Go fuck yourselves.) Of course, assuming you buy into that like I do, much of this post immediately becomes very ironic. I already thought about that and I'm OK with it.

2) Six games between two teams, in the context of conference superiority, means nothing.

3) Not that it matters, see point 1, but it was pretty obvious that the Western Conference was a lot better than the Eastern Conference this year. The West was 66 games over .500 in matchups between the two. That's an enormous advantage. Yes, the Celtics were perhaps the best overall team in the league. (I still maintain that the Spurs or Jazz would beat them in the finals more than half the time, but whatever.) That, however, does not make the East better. Was the WAC better than the Big 12 because Boise State beat Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl? Was the NL better than the AL because the Cardinals beat the Tigers in the World Series? No, and no. Unless you're Jemele Hill, in which case: yes, and definitely, because you have a tiny brain.

The basketball certainly is entertaining. The Phoenix-San Antonio opening-round series was better than any of this year's NCAA tournament games.

It went a mere five games, and was never in question after the 1st quarter of game three. So... no. There were probably like ten March Madness games that most people would consider "better" than that series, regardless of how cool games one and two were. You sound like JA Adande.

And if I had been told I could attend only one NBA game this season, I'm positive I would have picked a Western Conference matchup.

But winning and entertaining are two different things.

Very true. And all season long, the West ran the East's collective ass up and down the court, winning 57% of the games they played against each other.

All season long, and especially during the playoffs, we heard nonstop about how much better the Western Conference is than the Eastern Conference.

If this is true, and I don't think the part about hearing it "especially" during the playoffs is, that's probably because every playoff team in the West won at least 50 games while the East sported just three 50 win teams (and one playoff team that as eight games under .500). Seems fair.

But if that's true, why has the East won three of the past five NBA championships?

This is perhaps the stupidest sentence in the whole article. Again, let's use a list to specify why:

1) Small sample size means the finals aren't indicative of much in terms of relative conference strength

2) I must have forgotten something, isn't this article about the 2007-2008 season?

3) Since in Jemele's mind it obviously isn't, I think we might as well point out that the West has won seven of the past ten titles

4) Oh wait- that makes no fucking sense; why does the fact that Detroit beat LA four years ago make the West overrated now?

5) Think about that for a second. Jemele wants you to believe that, contrary to popular belief, the West is not better than the East right now. Why? In part, because Detriot beat LA in the finals in 2004.

6) Wow.

(And when you consider the Pistons-Spurs series in 2005 lasted seven games, the East easily could have been winners of four of the past five.)

Nevermind about that last sentence being the dumbest in the article. Hey, if the Lakers don't blow that huge lead in game four of this finals, it goes seven, and you never know what can happen in a game seven. And if the refs hadn't stolen the 2006 series from the Mavs, they might have won it. So it's really the West that could have won four of the past five.

We're so fond of the style of play in the West, we've given the conference a free pass for how its teams have recently failed to show up in the NBA Finals.

The Lakers sort of showed up this year. (Not so much in 2004, but again, that was five finals ago.) On the other hand, the Spurs have obviously shown up in each of their three recent appearances, and the Mavs definitely showed up in 2006. That was a damn good series. What are we talking about again?

The past few Western Conference teams in the Finals have had one very obvious character flaw:

They've been softer than John Daly's midsection.

Wow, how do you ruin a John Daly joke? That's difficult to do. The Spurs are the opposite of soft. That Mavs team was also not soft. So let's go ahead and take what happened this year, and extend it several years back without regard for reality or facts. Sounds great.

The Mavericks mentally shrunk against the Heat in 2006.

Few could blame them, given the way that series unfolded. (They also lost games 5 and 6 by one and three points respectively, FWIW.)

The Lakers were completely undressed by the Pistons in '04. And this year, reigning MVP Kobe Bryant and his sidekick, Pau Gau-soft, were punked by the Celtics.

This is the big, bad West?

Yeah, it is. The same West that has flat out torched the East in head to head play each of the last several years. (60 games over .500 in 2006-07, 55 games in 2005-06, 62 games in 2004-05)

It's often been argued that if you entered Western Team A into the Eastern Conference, it'd either win the conference outright or at least be among the the East's top teams. But after watching how the Celtics annihilated the Lakers, how can that possibly be true?

Insanity. Absolute insanity. No explanation needed. (Except for the part about people saying Team A would outright win the East, which would obviously be untrue. And I don't remember hearing it this past season from any analyst.)

In fact, a lot of the Western teams have major issues lurking behind those pretty 50-win records.

Just as a lot of Eastern mid-tier teams have major issues "lurking" behind their 35-45 win records.

Houston can't win a playoff series.

Apparently, if you use some kind of advanced math, their inability to succeed in the Western playoffs proves that they wouldn't be one of the better teams in the East. You know, I don't see anyone out East besides Boston, Detroit, or Cleveland winning a whole lot of playoff series either.

Utah can't win on the road.


They won 17 regular season games there this year. Besides Boston, Detroit, and Orlando, no Eastern team won more than 18. In 2006-07, their 20 road wins were more than every Eastern team except Detroit and Cleveland.

Denver doesn't play defense.

Just like Washington and Cleveland don't play offense.

Golden State can't get focused (and doesn't play defense).

The Indiana Pacers, the East's #9 team this year (as the Warriors were in the West): a pillar of focusedness. Thanks, Jamal Tinsley and Jermaine O'Neal!

Phoenix can't get past San Antonio (and doesn't always play defense).

Just as with the Houston situation, apparently the fact that they can't get past a Western team that's won three titles in the last six years means they wouldn't cut it out East.

New Orleans doesn't have enough pieces and is too inexperienced.

Hilarious and inaccurate anecdotal bullshit.

Dallas has yet to regain its confidence after losing to Miami in the Finals.

They have managed, however, to continue to win lots of games.

And San Antonio, the West's savior, is starting to get old.

OK, you got me there. Clearly they suck. And Boston and Detroit are a couple of spring chickens. No key players of 30 on either of those teams.

At least in the East, there's no pretending. When Eastern Conference teams stink, they make it obvious (see: the 76ers', Nets' and Cavaliers' Finals appearances).

This is a direct contradiction to pretty much everything you've written so far.

A team with 37 wins (Atlanta) and a team with 45 wins (Cleveland) pushed the Celtics to seven games -- something the mighty West's Lakers had no shot at doing.

Something they had no shot whatsoever at doing, unless of course they managed to not pull an epic collapse in game four and lose in the final minute. Yeah, they were really miles away from making it go seven.

Both Boston and Detroit had a better winning percentage against Western Conference teams this season than against teams in their own conference. But outside of Boston, very few people thought the Celtics had a chance against the Lakers.

Why?

Because Vegas is close to LA, and because everyone thought Kobe would carry the Lakers because recent history suggests that having the best individual player in a Finals will lead to victory. I don't think conference superiority was at the forefront of most people's minds. Maybe it was tucked somewhere in the back. Maybe.

Understand, this isn't an argument about which conference is deeper. Clearly the West wins that argument. Every Western playoff team won more than 50 games, while just three teams in the East accomplished that. Only four Western teams had a losing record against the East -- the SuperSonics, Clippers, Timberwolves and Grizzlies. Just four Eastern teams managed a winning record against the West.

(Larry B slaps holds head in hands, slowly shaking it back and forth)

That ship sailed the second you started writing this, Jemele. You weren't on it.

But despite those gaudy, imbalanced numbers, the East's recent dominance in the NBA Finals

Probably the loosest usage of "dominance" I've ever seen.

has earned its teams the right to tell everyone to be quiet about how great the West is.

I sure hope the Celtics' and Pistons' shoulders don't get too sore from carrying those other thirteen teams around in the context of that argument.

At the very least, there should be a moratorium on that crazy talk that the NBA playoff format should be changed so that teams with the top 16 records make the playoffs, regardless of conference.

So Jemele can even admit (like five sentences ago) that the West is deeper than the East. But she still calls for a moratorium on this idea, which has been proposed precisely to award the conference with more depth. Let's hear it for consistency.

Golden State last season against the five, count 'em, five Eastern playoff teams that finished with worse records than the Warriors: 8-2. Yeah, it would have been totally unfair to let them into the playoffs in front of the 37 win Hawks or 40 win Sixers.

Horrendous.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

This is almost certainly the lamest introduction to an article about sports I've ever seen

Peter Schrager


"I Will Possess Your Heart," the first single on popular emo rock band Death Cab for Cutie's latest release, features a five-minute instrumental intro. Though the chorus and subsequent verses are the parts of the song that will likely get stuck in your head, it's the intro that really makes the song click. The building of tension, the rising of the beat, the clash of instruments without any words — it sets the perfect tone for what's on the horizon: a truly magical song."I Will Possess Your Heart," the first single on popular emo rock band Death Cab for Cutie's latest release, features a five-minute instrumental intro. Though the chorus and subsequent verses are the parts of the song that will likely get stuck in your head, it's the intro that really makes the song click. The building of tension, the rising of the beat, the clash of instruments without any words — it sets the perfect tone for what's on the horizon: a truly magical song.

The early summer months are the NFL season's equivalent to the five-minute instrumental intro. Now — not in early September or late December —is when the tension builds and captivating storylines emerge. Now is when the hype and excitement surrounding the 2008 campaign truly begins

Seriously......Is he trying to impress a chick with this column? Or what? Anyone?

Friday, June 27, 2008

MSNBC.com's 2nd Worst Writer is Back!

It's been awhile, Mr. Ventre! I see you chose not to write about the Dodgers or the Angels this time! You're basically the West-coast version of HatGuy, aren't you?

(Side note, realizing that he didn't write about either L.A. team, Ventre snapped today after getting no sleep and wrote a bogus column about an all-L.A. World Series this year. Because it's smart to go around talking about a sub-.500 team making it that far, right?)

Anyway, no one is sick of this Shawn Chacon garbage yet, are they?

Attacking your GM isn't good career move

I'm really getting giddy here. Is this going to be a column all about why you shouldn't do that? Like, someone needs to TELL the public why this is stupid? What's your purpose in life, Ventre? Was crap like this your true calling?

Generally speaking, if one has an eye toward career advancement, it’s not a good idea to grab your boss by the neck and wrestle him to the ground.

And the "I Have No Idea If You're Joking or Not" saga continues. Either way, this is miserable.

I did it a few times and it was always a disaster. Apparently my superiors didn’t appreciate the frivolity.

Right, I bet you did. And let me guess, it was such a disaster that you became one of the most underqualified men for a job in your field in history. Really, it just halted your career.

Now, unfortunately for Shawn Chacon, he has that resume buster to live with. On Wednesday, the Houston Astros’ pitcher was released after he collared his general manager, Ed Wade, and tossed him to the canvas.

This type of activity would be a welcome addition to the skill set of say, a professional wrestler or a mixed martial arts king. In that realm, brutality born out of anger gets one a gold star. Ditto for linebackers and surfers fending off paparazzi in Malibu.


The question remains: why are you telling me this?

And a major league player can even get away with it, as long as its done in the context of a bench-clearing brawl, or in answering a particularly nettlesome question from a sportswriter.

Last I checked, you can still get suspended and fined.......

But in this case, Chacon miscalculated badly.

I am close to beating my head against the wall. Let me check the headlines of Ventre's past articles real quick to make sure this column is just an anomaly.

"Steroids Closely Linked to Negative Reputation in Baseball."

"Pitchers Who Effectively Get Outs are Most Sought After in Trade."

"Settling a Debate: Baseball IS a Sport."

"Attacking Your GM Isn't Good Career Move."

Could you honestly pick one of these that doesn't belong?

(DISCLAIMER: Headlines might be real or fictional. Exactly one is real. The second one is fictional. Fictional headlines solely created for the purpose of exposing Michael Ventre as King Dumbass of the Universe.)

He may have believed that decking his boss would be interpreted as no biggie in the boys-will-be-boys atmosphere of The Show.

Do you really believe this? Is any human being this clueless?

I'll clarify something for you Ventre. There is no fucking way in a million years that Shawn Chacon thought that he could take Ed Wade by the throat and choke-slam him without consequences. I can't believe I had to type that. Was it irrational due to the anger of the situation? Absolutely. But there is no fucking way he thought that it would be shrugged off as "boys-will-be-boys".

Yet he failed to realize the lousy-pitchers-will-be-lousy-pitchers aspect of the scenario.

ZING!

This entire affair sprung out of Chacon’s inability to get batters out. He had been demoted to the bullpen over the weekend, mostly because he is 2-3 with a 5.04 ERA in 15 starts for Houston. He set a record with nine no-decisions to start the season.

I’m not a human resources expert, but I know that when an employee consistently submits poor performances, he usually gets written up. The top brass likes to develop a paper trail before it cans a loser.


At least you're self aware. Whoever your boss is has quite the paper trail to work with.

Oh.....you were talking about Chacon. Yeah....he sucks too.

This is a time when Chacon should have spotted the red flags and tried to be nicer to his boss. Maybe the right-hander could have invited Wade out for a martini and regaled him with tales of his exotic golf excursions, or gushed over photographs of Wade’s family, or offered to wash Wade’s car.

Yeah. Can you imagine?

Ed Wade: FUCK YOU CHACON! YOU'RE PITCHING LIKE A COMPLETE SHITHEAD! THE HOUSTON ASTROS WILL NOT TOLERATE THIS KIND OF-

Shawn Chacon: I'm going to stop you right there, sir. How would you like to join me for a martini and listen to tales of my exotic golf excursions? My you have beautiful children, and a fantastic car! Would you do me the honor of letting me wash it?

(I really, really don't want to continue doing this. There comes a point when saying "dude, what the fuck?" really doesn't cut it entertainment-wise anymore.)

But snagging him by the neck and whipping him to the turf – while certainly qualifying as out-of-the-box thinking – seems to be counterproductive.

Uh...huh.

(I can't even make an effort anymore. I'd have to repeat my own disparagings to disparage what he has already repeated.)

Chacon may have adversely affected any future job opportunities by clobbering his boss.

Emphasis on "may have".

(Good God this is terrible. This "story" has received a 3.5/5 from the rating of 29 people. There are officially too many stupid people in this world.)

It’s all so curious that Chacon would have acted like he did. For instance, the incident was precipitated by a confrontation in which Wade asked Chacon to come into his office for a chat.

Theory: It's all so curious that (Event X happened).

Supporting Point 1: For instance, (Fact that does not have much bearing on the likelihood of Event X happening).

(This guy would have struggled to be an above-average writer in my 8th grade English class. Speaking of which, I wonder what Johnny Hamlin is up to these days. I should give him a call. Or try to obtain a copy of something he wrote in 8th grade and make fun of it here. You know, it's just as fair.)

Call me a cynic, but I would have to believe the fact that Chacon is making $2 million this season figured into his decision to say things to Wade like, “You need to …” and “You better …”

Are you saying that Chacon considers $2 million a lot, or not enough? You need to use words like "only" and "just" to......God never mind.....

(You're a fucking cynic. Take that, Ventre.)

I’ve always thought ballplayers are just like the rest of us, willing to roll up their sleeves for a hard-earned buck and respectful of the company’s hierarchy.

Really. You thought ballplayers are just trying to grind out their hard-earned buck. Just like the rest of us. Just regular people. That's how most ballplayers view themselves. Just trying to pay the rent and get fed.

(Shawn Chacon has made $12,160,000 in his major league career. Pretty blue-collar. Just rolling up his sleeves.)

It may not be fair to judge a person based on one incident, but there are exceptions: Lee Harvey Oswald; the captain of the Exxon Valdez; [Latrell] Sprewell, and now Chacon.

Let's see. We have listed the athlete in question for the article, the guy you just got finished comparing him to (Sprewell), and a very famous man for assassinating a U.S. President. Pretty good, pretty relevant. And what's this? In addition we're going to toss in the captain of an oil tanker that spilled 19 fucking years ago. Not only is that a completely bizarre and random reference, you're talking about people who committed violent acts and lumping them in with a guy charged with negligence.

(This is so hopeless. Is anyone even reading this anymore? I know I wouldn't want to. You should all go do something better with your lives.)

But Sprewell had roughly $23 million coming to him when the Golden State Warriors tried to void his contract. Chacon isn’t that rich, and he isn’t that good. His decision to clock his boss doesn’t really make sense on any level.

Shut up already.....

Sometimes a corporate retreat does the trick. There are also consultants trained in the area of employer-employee relationships. But in this delicate economy, when so many jobs are at risk, energy costs are rising and the housing market is mush, it’s probably imprudent to create tension in the workplace at this particular juncture.

.

..

...

Whatever I'll just say it.

WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT????

(I'm pretty sure this is a pathetic joke and not actually serious. But why is webspace being wasted on this trash?)

Now for the last sentence of the column. It's the best ending sentence I have ever read. Like, it trumps everything Mariotti has ever done. Therefore, I'm going to copy it here, and not make a comment afterwards, because nothing would quite do it justice.

Maybe Chacon should have made friends while he was in the bullpen, because right now he could use a save.

Yeah, Seriously, What the Hell?

Per CS's heads up from yesterday's comments. I don't read Deadspin anymore (although I probably should, because I'm getting sick and fucking tired of going over to The Big Lead and finding post after post that's basically a picture of a mediocre looking chick that he insists is a "Vegas 10", and then some horrible sports related prediction) so this slipped past me.

When? How? Why? That's really his? No way. What the hell?

Not that that post lights the world on fire, but at least 1) it's not about Boston and 2) it shows he has a sense of humor re: blogs and commenters who frequently eviscerate him. I'm going to lay off him for a couple of days now out of respect.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Why Bother Knowing Anything When You Can Just Make Stuff Up?

I don't have the energy to fully critique the already-commented-upon Bill Simmons/Chad Ford draft debate piece from ESPN. I can't really spare the time needed to properly address how bonkers it is to declare yourself the winner of an argument about the relative merits of two 19 year old NBA players when one of them hasn't even played a minute in the league. I also just don't think I can squeeze in any analysis about how miserable Bill Simmons is at writing jokes, or being consistent about what qualities he thinks make for a good player. (Chad actually covers that second topic for me pretty well, actually.) No, I won't be doing any of those things. And since the comments section on a Simmons piece usually doesn't really include a ton of discussion about the article at hand, I figure it's not a big deal if I make this post mildly short and sweet. I think I'll just focus on one thing: made up non-facts about teams/players that Bill seems to want us to believe are true.

Re: Derrick Rose

I loved Derrick Rose at first sight. He's a great and selfless teammate; he's a franchise point guard entering a league in which point guards have become inordinately valuable; he's got a great name (never underestimate the value of a great name); he was the best player on an extremely successful college team; and in short, after watching him a few times, I would have bet my life on him making multiple All-Star appearances (barring injury).

One of these things is very unlike the others. I like how's it stuck right there in the middle of all that relevant information. I think I will go ahead and underestimate the power of a great name, thank you very much. (Is "Derrick Rose" even that great, as names go?) Also, keep in mind that Rose was born on October 4th. Never underestimate the power of someone born on October 4th.

Re: What it takes

As the Celtics just proved, you can win a championship with two elite players and 10 role players as long as (a) everyone busts their butts on defense, (b) everyone gets along, and (c) you have at least two guys who can get into the paint and create shots for everyone else.

First of all, Bill, don't forget (as you yourself pointed out numerous times before and throughout the playoffs!) that you need a magical, uberinformed, never bandwagony, always ready to take the team to another level kind of crowd if you want to win it all. Also, assuming Pierce and Garnett were the elite players, are we now relegating Ray Allen to "role player" status? In reality, the Celtics just proved you can win a championship as long as (a) you have three elite or near-elite players, which is obviously really easy to do in today's NBA, (b) a couple other elite defenders/rebounders, (c) everyone busts their butt on defense, (d) you get to spend the first three rounds of the playoffs limping through a pathetically shitty conference, and (e) when the finals roll around you match up perfectly with your opponent who managed to make it out of a vastly superior conference that contained at least three other teams that would have absolutely fed you your shit in the finals (PHX, SAN, UTH, yes, that's right, UTH).

Re: The Oden vs. Durant Debate (Like I said in the intro, I'm not covering the crux of it, because anyone with a brain can see how asinine Bill is being. This is more of a subpoint.)

I thought he (Durant) had a chance to become a truly dominant offensive player; I thought Oden was too nice of a guy; and I thought Oden was headed for a career of health problems.

That's right, Greg Oden, you hear that? You're too nice to win. Sorry. Good luck playing in the NBA with all that niceness you're carrying. Wait... what's that? There are many great nice players, and many awful mean players? Poppycock.

If Kevin Pritchard called Sam Presti right now and said, "Hey, we'll give you Oden for Durant," Presti would either hang up or ask him, "What else are you throwing in the deal?"

Sure, because Oden is rehabbing from a major surgery. On the other hand, if the Blazers had called the Sonics the day after the draft, and said "Hey, we'll give you Oden for Durant," before Presti could say anything, Pritchard would shout "SIKE" and then hang up.

Do you really think Oden -- the guy who's coming off microfracture surgery and wrist surgery in consecutive years, the guy who has one leg that's an inch and a half shorter than the other, the guy who walks like a 50-year-old man -- has more value in the NBA than the 2008 rookie of the year?

Watch out for that old man walk. It's derailed many a career. Like Dan Bobertson. Who? Exactly.

Re: The plight of Kevin Durant, and Bill's amazing ability to know what entire fan bases are thinking

The fact that the Sonics' fans fell in love with him when they were specifically trying NOT to get attached to him tells me everything I need to know.

Yeah, I read all about how Sonics fans were specifically trying to not get attached to Durant. Articles upon articles, with polling information and quotes. Plenty of them. What a big, accurate story that was. You know what else is 100% verifiably true? No one in New York likes Alex Rodriguez. No one. They were all hoping he'd leave after he opted out of his contract.

Re: Michael Beasley

He doesn't seem to have any leadership qualities whatsoever.

This is based on Bill watching the Wildcats' two games during the NCAA tournament last March, seeing him not carry them to the Final Four, and also noting that he doesn't give everyone on the team a high five after every time out.

Re: Beasley vs. Durant

Beasley has a chance to become a dominant offensive player, someone who could notch a 25-10 every game and get drafted in the first rounds of fantasy drafts for eight to 10 years. Durant has a chance to become one of the greatest offensive players in the history of basketball. Huge difference.

Bill can discern this subtle difference based on the relative need of the Celtics to land marquee players during the draft in which the player is going to be selected. If the Celtics have a good chance at landing a very high pick and taking the player, it's a foregone conclusion that the player will forever change the way we think about basketball. If the Celtics are coming off a championship and aren't anywhere near the lottery, the player will forever be a one dimensional team killer who is on his way out of the league by age 30.

Re: Kevin Love

He'll like Minnesota;

(pause) Where the fuck did that come from?

You know what you're getting with Love: intelligence, rebounding, superior passing, smart team defense, 3-point shooting...

He shot 35% from behind the college arc, which is mediocre and probably won't translate to a good NBA 3, and furthermore he only made less than one 3 per game in college. (He was 29 for 82 for the season.) If an NBA team drafted Love and counted on him to provide them with some production from beyond the arc, that would be incredibly stupid. Of course, that imaginary misinformed team probably could have avoided that mistake by hiring a VP of common sense. I hear Bill is available.

Re: Russell Westbrook

In New York, the pressure would be too much -- between Mike D., the Knicks fans and the media, not to mention Stephon Marbury undermining him, everything about that scenario worries me.

1) Clearly Bill knows Russell and therefore knows that he's a guy who just can't handle pressure, especially from the notoriously mean spirited Mike D'Antoni.
2) Since Russell didn't play basketball for a big time college program that attracts a lot of media scrutiny and criticism, we don't have any way to judge how he would handle a similar situation in the NBA.

Re: Blaming it on the rain

There isn't a more jinxed franchise in sports than the L.A. Clippers. There really isn't.

Yeah, I mean, they've sustained a whole one notable injury (Shaun Livingston, whose magical spaghetti knee prompted this comment) in the last twenty years while consistently making horrific personnel and coaching decisions. If that's not jinxed, I don't know what is.

Re: Darrell Arthur

...and if you remember, Arthur made an absolutely mammoth hoop when KU was down five in the final minute of regulation against Memphis. So if you're going glass-half-full, you could argue that he brought something to the table in a do-or-die moment.

Darrell Arthur: the David Eckstein of the Big 12. (Actually, no sarcasm, he probably won't end up being as good at pro basketball as Eckstein is at pro baseball. Which is saying something.)

Re: Did the Shaq trade hurt or help the Suns' playoff chances?

So you're telling me that Shawn Marion -- an enigmatic head case who was legitimately happy to leave Steve Nash and the top team in the Western Conference so he could play with Ricky Davis and Mark Blount on the worst team in the league -- now would have swung the 2008 playoffs?

I'll just steal Chad's response, verbatim: Yeah, I'm saying that. Marion can play. Shaq can't.

Re: Roy Hibbert

He's the most undervalued guy in a draft in which nearly everyone is properly valued.

Hibbert is going to have a very short and useless NBA career, in my opinion. I say this based on watching him play my Big East school several times, and noting that he wasn't anywhere close to an offensive threat in college. But my disagreement with Bill about his viability in the league isn't the real problem:

Also, I can never turn down a guy named "Roy." Have you ever met a Roy who wasn't absolutely fantastic?

Fuck. Not again. And I'd like to add that I used to have a neighbor named Roy growing up who was a mean old guy who never bought any of the stuff I was selling for school fundraisers. I would count him as decidedly unfantastic.

Re: Really simple trades that only don't happen because all NBA GMs are pussies

By the way, tell me who doesn't make this trade: Outlaw, Channing Frye, the rights to Fernandez, the No. 13 and $3 million for Conley, Brian Cardinal and No. 5. Just curious.

You're a lost cause.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

This Guy Named Erik Used to Write For FireJay

But he got sick of doing so after like two posts. I can't really blame him; he has a sweet job in the sports entertainment industry which requires a lot of writing so this probably just felt like more work to him. (I won't disclose who his employer is because he probably wouldn't want to risk being made fun of or fired from that job if his name were tied to this shitty blog. But let's just say it's with a branch of either the NBA, MLB, or NFL, and if you watch a lot of sports, there's a decent chance you've seen something on TV that he helped produce. ) Anyways, he sometimes sends me tips for stuff to put on the site, which is a nice way for him to contribute without the pressure of actually being listed as a contributor. Below is one such tip. All commentary from this point on is his.

So I find a link on SI.com for the top five NBA draft busts of all time. Like any straight, red-blooded, American male, I love busts. I scan to see where Sam Bowie is on the list. He isn't. But who is?

3. Kedrick Brown: The Celts selected this JuCo star 11th in the 2001 Draft, much higher than most experts had him projected (at least, those who had heard of him). He most recently played in the NBA's D-League.

Who else might the Celtics have reasonably drafted in that slot? Maybe Richard Jefferson (13) or Zach Randolph (19) [Tony Parker (28) never could have realistically been on anyone radar at that stage of the draft]. So Kedrick Brown is one of the biggest busts in draft history because he
didn't match the ceilings of a poor man's Scottie Pippen and an obese man's Otis Thorpe? Or the "floors" of Vlad Radmonovic, Troy Murphy, Steven Hunter, and Kirk Haston? Based on the outcome of the careers of players taken after him, Brown should've been anywhere from a fringe rotation player to a third banana. So, yes, by tumbling to the D-league, he must be the third biggest bust of all time.

Lang Whitaker is the executive editor of SLAM magazine and writes daily at SLAMonline.com

Lang Whitaker is the executive editor of SLAM magazine, which comes with a free headband if you sign up for a one-year subscription. He probably knows more than me.

Here, Take This Brief Quiz To See Whether or Not You're Stupid

If you were evaluating two teams about to match up against each other in the playoffs, and you could only use one of the following pieces of data to decide which was more likely to win, which would you choose?

(a) The teams' records this season
(b) The teams' records last season

Only one of these answers is right. And it's not the one Jay Mariotti picked earlier today on "Around the Horn." Never one to let a perfectly good point slip past him without coming up with some outrageous way to try and disagree with it, when a fellow panelist who was talking about the College World Series said he was rooting for Fresno State because they're a good underdog story, Jay countered with:

But Georgia had a losing record in 2007, so they're even more of an underdog!

That's why most people thought the Red Sox would beat the Rockies in MLB's World Series last fall- not because the Sox had much better depth both in the rotation and off the bench, but because the Rockies were terrible in 2006. And that's why most people figured the Patriots would easily beat the Giants in last February's Super Bowl- not because New England was 18-0 at the time, but because the Giants were 8-8 in 2006. Why were the Lakers mild favorites over the Celtics in the recently concluded NBA Finals? You guessed it. Boston wasn't so hot in 2006-07.

Jay Mariotti: fucking stupid.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

This Needs to Be Addressed.....

Teddy Goldstein took a little stab at Jay Mariotti in the Chicago Tribune. It's certainly worth discussing here, is it not?

The ultimate team player—that's how you think of Jay Mariotti, right?

I own 1/6th (currently) of a blog entitled "Fire Jay Mariotti", so the answer to this question is a resounding and emphatic "YES".

I find it funny that Teddy Greenstein thinks that he is addressing an audience that views Mariotti as a "team player."

The same Jay Mariotti who described his Sun-Times colleagues as "soft" for declining to rip White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen.

Damn bunch of softies! He's Venezuelan and swears a lot for crissake! Haven't you seen his team's record since July 2, 2006? The Blizzard is downright rip-able, and deserves to be ripped until the ripping brings "R.I.P." to mind. About his job of course! You tell 'em, Teddy Goldberg!

(yessssss.....nailed that one!)

Mariotti tells WTTW-Ch. 11's John Callaway in an interview that airs at 7:30 p.m. Friday: "When I'm being critical of our writers, it's to try to unify."

In Mrs. Finklebury's kindergarten class, almost everyone wanted delicious yellow cake with chocolate frosting for the class party, but Stubby Stubbornton, always contrarian, refused to have a party with anything but fruitcake. Stubby's ultimate goal, however, was to have a unified class, so that everyone had the same cake preference. After hours of thinking, Stubby decided that the best way to do this was to make fun of everyone until they opted for fruitcake instead. But a strange thing happened! No matter how much Stubby made fun of the other children, they didn't prefer fruitcake! Now if this kind of crap didn't work on kindergartners, Jay, then....

Meh, you know, it's probably just easier to call you a fucking retard.

Mariotti: "Are the local media now brainwashed that every time Ozzie goes off it's 'Ozzie being Ozzie,' or are we dealing with one of the great crackpots in the history of professional sports? I happen to choose the latter."

Maybe, just mayyyyyybe the local media thinks that there's more interesting things to write about than repetitive dissections of literally tens of Ozzie rants? Are you listening, sensible people? Jay is COMPLAINING that the rest of the Chicago media isn't beating a dead horse like he is.

Callaway: "That's what people would say about you."

Attaboy, Callaway.

Mariotti: "Not me."

WRONG as usual, Jay, WRONG as usual.

Mariotti went on to say that Sun-Times beat writer Joe Cowley "has issues" and wrote a "pathetic" column after the Sox's blowup-doll controversy.

Another fine point, Teddy Greenberg! Yeah Jay, what about that? Why are you critiquing the writing of columnists for other newspapers?

He had harsher words for fellow columnist Rick Telander after Callaway played a clip of Telander asking why Mariotti is always so angry and determined to find "the dark side."

Teddy Rosenberg is realllllly hitting the nail on the head here.

Mariotti: "If you're not interested in, as he says, 'the dark side' of sports, then get out of the business."

And there's nothing more to it than that. Period.


Callaway: "Wait a second. Nobody has said more about the dark side of college football than Rick Telander."


A FINE point. I have no idea who Rick Telander is. But a FINE point, nonetheless.

Mariotti: "We're all supposed to cover the entire spectrum.

THE MARIOTTI SPECTRUM

John Paxson is a moron
Jerry Reinsdorf is a cheap-o wuss
Cedric Benson is a stupid person, a stupider runningback, and is responsible for all evil in the world.
Tiger Woods is pretty much the best thing ever.
Alfonso Soriano is a selfish asshole
Lou Piniella is crazy
Ozzie Guillen is the worst human being alive
Kenny Williams is a terrible GM
The Bulls don't have any star players
July 2, 2006 is the most important date in sports history. Period.

Outside of the Mariotti Spectrum: Actual games played by Chicago teams.

Don't sit here and stereotype me.

Oh, sorry, Jay. I'm planning on it. It's fun and easy, and the best part is, it accurately sums up your writing career.

That's just a smear campaign from a guy who … if he calls me angry, I call him bitter and old.

Sounds like he's talking about Hawk Harrelson. It really does.

This is a fellow who needs to examine the newspaper business, where it is right now, where the Sun-Times is in this market and maybe get his act into gear and help us win this battle …"

What battle?

(I think Teddy is Jewish.)

Phillies: Team of Destiny

Sometimes you have to look hard to find something to complain about. Some days it's just too sunny, too breezy, and your favorite team is winning and nothing is wrong. Other times, you're browsing the sports interwebs and someone named Danny Knobler just hits you in the face.

Pat Burrell has been so good that the only question people are asking is whether the Phillies will make the mistake of giving him a new contract.

Last summer, I noticed that the Mariners' stats suggested they were outperforming their skills over a short period of time. Sure enough, my prediction proved accurate: the M's collapsed. In this case, Pat Burrell is outperforming his career numbers by a significant margin. I'm more than willing to put my reputation on the line and suggest that Pat Burrell is due for a slump. Though it's true that players can sometimes exceed their career numbers for a season late in their career (Jorge Posada anyone?), it's an exception that doesn't negate the rule.

Someone remember to look it up at the end of the year and see if Burrell's OPS+ is still at 155.

And in an era where one of the best indicators of success is a healthy pitching staff, the Phillies have used the same 12 pitchers to work every inning this year.

Though I suppose you could attribute it to good managerial managering of the pitching staff, managers don't do that much. I think you could attribute this to good general managering; maybe Pat Gillick is good at signing pitchers that don't get hurt. You could attribute this to the pitchers, for their gritty and tough and workmanlike outlook and working hard at their work so they don't get hurt to miss work.

I think, actually, that you have to attribute this to "luck".

Besides, this is a team that plays hard, all the time.

Oh boy.

"The grittiest team I saw all year," one scout said. "I love the way they play. It's a credit to (manager Charlie Manuel), and also to Pat (Gillick), because he put them together."

Again, the unnamed scouts. I wonder if the grittiness of the team is responsible for Cole Hamels' awesome pitching or for Chase Utley's ability to hit basballs to Saturn. I wonder if the grittiness caused Pat Burrel to learn to hit better than he has in his entire career. I think, on the top of Pat Gillick's list of things to acquire to help the Phillies, GRIT was written in capitals.

Victorino likes the word "gritty,"

Probably because the myth of grittiness is the only reason people like Victorino still have a job.

pointing to a mid-May game against the Braves in which the Phillies trailed 8-0 in the fifth, then came back to put the tying run on base in the ninth.

Wow. They didn't even win! What a bunch of losers. This point is more likely to make me believe that the Phillies aren't World Series material

"We never give up," he said. "It starts with (Manuel)."

Charley Manuel never gives up, probably because his job mostly consists of sitting in the dugout telling grown men to go do what they've been practicing their whole lives.

Ugh. This article sucked.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Three Columns Into His ESPN Tenure, Rick Reilly Begins Producing Mindless Drivel

The first article he wrote for his new employer? About his dad's alcoholism. Ok, fine. There are some things that even I won't jump on. His second article? A boring but reasonable plea for golf fans to cheer for Phil Mickelson over Tiger Woods during the U.S. Open. (It bothered me a little because of its Yankees-or-Red-Sox-and-no-one-else dichotomized type of approach to fandom; what if I want to cheer for someone besides those two? Whatever.)

But his third? Let's just say it's the kind of garbage I expect him to be writing at the WWL for years to come. In fact, it's worse than garbage; it's in the same vein as what someone like Nancy Grace does. You know, a news story that's totally and utterly meaningless, but contains a shocking/offensive/tragic element, thereby making it effective for sucking in the self-righteous masses. Oh my goodness! Someone did something bad! Doesn't that make you feel good about yourself? Not only would you never do this, but better still, you have an accurate moral compass that tells you these people are bad! Thanks, Rick/Nancy. Without you I would've never been exposed to stories like the one I'm about to unveil, and would subsequently not feel nearly as good about myself as I do for simply being less of an asshole than most.

Sigh. Fucking people. Anyways-

Brushing back a batter? OK. But this? You have to be kidding.

Get ready to be shocked and appalled, people.

You've heard of Kill the Ump, Lynch the Ump, and Strangle the Ump, right?

I'm going to open myself up to criticism here- I played organized baseball for 14 years, and I have no fucking idea what that is. But go on.

Well, get ready for the latest thing—Bean the Ump.

It happened on May 31 in the Georgia high school Class AAA championship game. Stephens County was losing to Cartersville 9-1 early, partly because nine straight SCHS batters had struck out. The last ring-up so hacked off superstar shortstop Ethan Martin—who had just been drafted 15th overall by the Dodgers—that he threw his helmet in protest.

My goodness- Scandal!

But that figured. Martin and his brother, Cody, who was pitching, reportedly had been complaining about balls and strikes the entire game.

What a fucking setup. Thanks, Rick, for telling me in advance who the villains are. You know, this is exactly what Nancy Grace and other bottom feeders of her ilk do. They're constantly hoping to invoke a reaction out of you along the lines of: "I'll tell you one thing right now- it sounds like those boys weren't raised right! If I had been their parent, you'd better believe they would have learned some respect. This whole country is going to hell in a handbasket. You know what's to blame? Violent video games, that's what."

Honestly. Fucking people.

OK. Sorry.

So now it's the bottom of the fourth, with Ethan playing short and Cody on the mound. The catcher is Matt Hill. There are no outs. The count is 0-1. Cody winds up and flings a very high, very hard fastball. Hill comes out of his squat, puts his glove up to catch it, then does a very funny thing.

He doesn't.

Instead, the YouTube video will show, he drops to his knees before the ball gets to him. Doesn't even try to catch it. Just flops to his knees, with his head looking down at the plate. Never looks up or back. The ball, meanwhile, conks umpire Jeff Scott square in the face mask. Rocks him back. Then squirts up the third-base line.

Yup, that's a good synopsis of what happened. That catcher is pretty much the worst actor of all time, and obviously the pitcher or whoever told him to do that is a little bit crazy.

But here's the thing about this incident- IT'S NOT RELEVANT. It's a story about a few shitdick kids who don't know how to control their anger. Off-the-field variations of this incident happen all over the country, 24 hours a day. Kids vandalize shit. They steal shit. They break shit. They assault people. They do unspeakable things because they don't see any other way to deal with their problems. But it's not newsworthy. The fact that ESPN considers it to be so is a sign of the times and a reflection of a tiny-brained audience. It's not a correct or appropriate decision.

Look, if I were writing a graduate thesis about unhealthy attitudes taken by some kids towards sports these days, or about odd examples of juvenile delinquency, this is the kind of incident I'd want to learn about. If enough investigation goes into the matter to draw some significant conclusions about the circumstances that caused it, I'd hope you could read about it in some kind of scholarly journal or something. But... I'm not writing that made up graduate thesis. I'm just a sports fan, who came to this sports site hoping to read an article about something relevant happening in the world of sports today.

I'm not picky. I don't care if it's a heartwarmingly sappy human interest piece. I don't care if it's about a sport most people ignore, like bowling or sailing or pole vaulting. Fuck it- I don't even care if it's about the Celtics or Red Sox. Just don't show me something that belongs in a fucking tabloid. Stop trying to titillate me with stories of people behaving badly and show me something that's primarily focused on, you know, SPORTS.

Jiminy fucking Christmas. It's never easy, is it?

Scott Singer, who videotaped the game from behind the plate, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "I don't know what was going through their heads but … it's like, good god!"

Good God indeed! Scott, you've played directly into the media's hand on this one. That's pretty much what they needed you to say, in order to invoke an identical reaction from their readers. I'm very disappointed in you. If you actually had a brain and a pair of balls, you would've told the reporter something like "What really offends me is how poorly the catcher tried to play it off. Jesus, who did he think he was going to fool?" or "Hey, the ump had it coming." Better yet, "I think it's pretty obvious that those kids are assholes. But really, do you need to be writing a story about this? Isn't there some news going on somewhere that needs to be covered?"

After the game, Hill explained that he'd been expecting a curveball, instead got a fastball and just didn't catch it.

Yeah, surrrre. I used to catch a little. Happens all the time. You're expecting a curveball and instead you get a fastball so you say, "Boy, didn't see that coming. I'll just drop to my knees and wait for the next one."

Yeah, actually, that does happen. But not in the way you see in the video. Even when Rick's right, he's wrong.

What's worse is that Hill's coach, Mark Gosnell, believed him! Right, Coach. And remember that time you found the school mascot tied up in a locker with a sock in his mouth? That was definitely terrorists.

Wow. Hey Rick- not to shit too messily on your embarrassingly bad joke, but this is not a PG-rated Disney comedy about how a ragtag band of unathletic misfits beat the well-coached and heavily favored varsity baseball team in a competition to see who would get to represent the school in the state tournament. (The reason I'm making this clarification is because that's the only situation I can imagine in which someone would bind and gag a school mascot, shove him/her into a locker, and then blame the incident on terrorism.)

If indeed this was premeditated—take a look for yourself and decide—then maybe Cody Martin should be drafted too. Say what you want, but that's pretty good aim.

Anyway, now the ump has to get back behind noncatcher Hill, who may very well have just schemed to remove his noggin from his neck. Wouldn't you have loved to have heard the conversation as they awaited the next pitch?

Ump: Uh, any chance you might catch this one, or should I duck now?

Hill: Depends. Is it going to be a strike?

I guess Rick was being honest in his chat last week when he insisted that he and Bill Simmons were getting along just fine. Apparently Bill's writing jokes for him.

Isn't it enough for an umpire to endure all the blind jokes—Hey, ump, what's it like to get your checks in Braille?—without two players actually trying to blind him?

If you want to hear an awkward, douchechilly silence, just go to a baseball game and shout "Hey ump, what's it like to get your checks in Braille?"

Cartersville wound up winning the game 13-1, and when state athletic officials saw the tape, they snapped. "The catcher did not intend to catch the pitch," says Ralph Swearngin, executive director of the Georgia High School Association. "I didn't see the eyes of the catcher tracking the pitch." He put Stephens County on "severe warning" and fined it $1,000.

Now Rick/Nancy is turning the story. Up until this point, they've wanted us to be worried that whatever criminals they've been talking about were going to get away with whatever it was they did. You're supposed to be on the edge of your seat- are you? Oh my goodness! Please don't tell me this awful act went unpunished!

Then some payback came for Hill, who was planning to walk on at Gordon College in Barnesville, Ga., next season. He got the word from Gordon coach Travis McClanahan, who said, Forget it, we don't want you. "I've seen catchers get crossed up before," says McClanahan. "But he appeared to be blocking a curveball in the dirt. I was shocked. I've never seen that happen. I've never heard of a player even suggesting doing that."

And NOW comes the part that really gives the reader the warm fuzzies. You like that, don't you? Good has triumphed over evil. Better than that- like I already mentioned, the reader gets to feel like they're a good person because they saw what the bad person did and that the bad person got punished.

I bet Hill didn't see that one coming. Don't know, though, since neither Hill nor Martin is talking.

As for umpire Scott, he had a headache after the game and went for an MRI. Then he decided to get himself a lawyer. And I'm guessing there are two things that lawyer is checking out: the health of his client and the health of Hill's dad's wallet.

Awesome. A lawsuit. God bless America. I hope the judge throws a baseball at Scott's face when he arrives at court for his first hearing.

Good god, what's becoming of us?

Track star: Well, yeah, I've always hated that official, but I sure didn't mean for my javelin to go right through his spleen like that!

Announcer: But you're a sprinter.

See, because a sprinter would normally not have access to javelins, nor would they be throwing them for any reason. I'm going to re-write a better punchline for this joke. Here goes: Sprinter? I hardly know her!

I hope Scott does ask for damages, and that the players have to pay in a way they'll never forget: by being forced to umpire Little League games. They'll be amazed how vile parental vocabulary can be, how far little brothers can spit and how many pitched balls wind up hitting them in the thorax.

But at least the 8-year-olds won't be doing it on purpose.

That's deep, man. I would like to take this opportunity to remind everyone that Rick Reilly has won like a million awards for his writing. With conclusions like that one, you can see why.

Sometimes I wonder if, in the course of writing this blog, I get too tied up in obviously horrible writing like this. I mean, people like Simmons, Jemele Hill, Gene Wojceichowski, Reilly... everyone knows they suck. They're low-hanging fruit. There's no real challenge in picking them apart. Even the least discerning of our readers should be able to see without much help why most of what they write sucks. I mean, maybe I should spend more time finding articles with a little more depth to their awfulness. There are plenty of writers out there who actually have a decent grasp on their subject matter but still produce work that deserves to be criticized. I've done it before, and it's felt pretty rewarding. For every Bill Simmons, there are three baseball writers who think stolen bases are more important than walks and three football writers who don't understand that an offense depends on more than a quarterback. Yeah, maybe I should make fun of more stuff like that!

At least, that's what I say to myself about once a month. Shortly thereafter, I'll casually surf over to ESPN.com and check out what's linked on the front page. Something like this Reilly article will come up. And I'll realize that my intentions to branch out are, well, nothing more than intentions. As long as Reilly/Wojceichowski/Simmons/Hill keep doing what they've been doing, I'm not going to be able to change a damn thing about how I blog.

Maybe that's the way it should be.

(Did you like the format of my conclusion? Guess who I stole it from!)

Speaking of Bill Simmons

ESPN is now running a simple 5 second promo advertising The Sport Guy's work on their website and ESPN360. After what I'm sure was hours of brainstorming and debate, here's the slogan they decided to use for the spot-

"It's like watching sports with your best friend- if your best friend knew what he was talking about!"

Things Bill thinks, as advertised in his own columns:

-Excessive use of the serve and volley tactic makes tennis today less interesting
-Only in Boston do professional athletes attend local sporting events (besides the ones they're playing in)
-The quality of starting pitching in the AL would be worse in 2008 than 2007 because young starters like Felix Hernandez are on strict pitch counts
-Greg Oden will not be any good in the NBA because he walks oddly
-It's harder to be a fan of a team that wins a lot and then stops winning, than to be a fan of a team that never wins at all
-It's been settled- Tom Brady is better than Peyton Manning
-There just aren't any good real life sports villains these days

Nice slogan, ESPN.

Oh, and one last time, I would like to extend sincere thanks to the 2007 New York Giants. I honestly don't know where I would be right now if not for you guys.

Bill Simmons Alert

I took an extended break from this blog because I don't hate sports writing as much as Larry and the rest of the gang. Unfortunately for them, I still followFJM everyday and was shocked when nobody ripped this apart. I'm usually one of the biggest Simmons-lovers around, but he clearly mailed this one in more than Robin Williams did in RV (you like that Sports Guy-esque joke??)

If I guaranteed you that the 2008 Wimbledon men's final would be the best tennis match of the past 20 years, would you watch it?

Yes, because I like sports.

Once a successful mainstream sport, tennis now matters twice a year—during Wimbledon and the U.S. Open—and even then it's not like America shakes with Racket Fever or anything.

Even in Bill's glorious youth, I don't think tennis ever was actually a "mainstream" sport.

The mainstream media still cover tennis, and the ratings for majors are still okay. But when was the last time you watched a big match from start to finish? When was the last time you attended one?

Among my friends and I, none of us has watched a big NBA game from start to finish in over a year. The last time any of us attended an NBA game, was December '06. Mainstream professional basketball in this country is dead.

When did you last have an argument about something tennis-related that didn't boil down to "Who do you think is hotter?"

And this is a bad thing how? ::Grabs beer, itches crotch, high fives dude::

Unlike golf, another time-sucking sport that appeals to a specific audience, tennis lacks a Tiger to keep it relevant. When tennis develops its own version of Tiger—first PeteSampras, then Roger Federer—the guys do almost more damage than good.

Comparing anyone to Tiger is just unfair. The guy is the perfect combination of dominance and marketability. Sampras was dominating, but boring. Simmons should make a dumb joke called the Sampras zone, opposite of the Tyson zone. If an athlete reaches the point where the only thing they do is win, have curly hair, have a hot wife who boned Billy Madison, and be boring -- they've entered theSampras zone. You could almost put Federer in the same category, but he's got something else way more important working against him: he's not American. If James Blake was winning tourneys at the same rate asFederer, he'd be right on par (pun intended!!ROFL!!) with Tiger in the minds of Americans.

Bill then argues that the reason we like golf players more is because they stick around longer. This makes zero sense. Does anyone give two shits about the Senior Tour?

By contrast, a great tennis career always unfolds the same way: Guy kills himself for a few years getting to the top and staying there; guy gets bored; guy starts sleeping with actresses/models; guy drops in the rankings; guy makes a brief resurgence; guy loses hair and retires; guy disappears forever.

Oh, you mean that one guy who that happened to? The guy who was HUGELY popular because he was American and charismatic? The guy who if he was going to break every record in tennis history (like Woods will) would be more popular than Tiger and BrettFarve combined?

Another big problem: Tennis got too fast (thanks to high-tech rackets, superior conditioning and 130 mph serves), which turned it into a young person's game.

Unlike the most popular sport in the country, the NFL, which is played exclusively by middle-aged men.

Not to sound like Grumpy Old Man, but back when I fell for tennis, they played with wooden rackets—and we liked it! When John McEnroe andBj√∂rn Borg had their "Battle of 18-16" at Wimbledon, it wasn't serve-and-volley, serve-and-volley, serve-and-volley; some of the points lasted for 45 or 50 seconds, and they always seemed to end with McEnroe just missing a winner, then sagging in disbelief.

This is totally absurd. Isn't it about time we added a three-point line in basketball?? And what's with all these teams running the wishbone? When isMLB gonna finally integrate with those Negro leagues? I count 2 guys in the Top 100 who you could count as serve and volleyers.

That doesn't mean we can't move tennis into the 21st century. I see three fixes that can help the sport regain a little buzz, beyond more radical moves like no longer allowing female players to wear tennis bras,

Tits!

or if you hit someone with the ball you win the point.


I hate to break it to such a tennis superfan, but if you hit the other player with the ball, you do win the point.

He then lists three ways to change the game, and finishes with this doozy.

See, tennis didn't change. We changed.

The teachers of the future will teach persuasive essay writing like this: Purpose thesis, backup thesis with points, summarize by saying the complete opposite of your thesis.

Thanks Bill. Shouldn't you be writing an article about your Dad and the Celtics?


BONUS MINI POST:

Because I'm slow to post, Simmons made several more posts. One point just rubbed me the wrong way. About Paul Pierce:

How many guys stick with a crummy franchise for 10 solid years, then get a chance to lead that same team to a championship? Does that EVER happen in sports anymore?

Oh, I don't know ... does it? Has that happened in the last few months to any athletes? Maybe they just didn't happen to live on a coast -- but you're the Sports Guy, you would have heard about this.



Wednesday, June 18, 2008

One Bad Thing Happens to the Yankees, Therefore Baseball Needs to Change The Rules

So the Yankees' best pitcher was injured while running the bases. Unfortunately, a lot of mean-spirited assholes out there want to crucify someone for dooming the Yankees' chances and deliberately hurting the Yankees' pennant run. Popular scapegoats:

1. The National League (for making pitchers run the bases)
2. Bud Selig (for interleague play) I would vivisect this awful, awful article, but attacking open-source journalism sites seems like picking on someone smaller than me.
3. Chien-Ming Wang (for not being able to run around the bases without hurting himself, which any eight-year old can do)
4. Space Aliens (for invading Hank Steinbrenner's brain)

When asked for his opinion, Hank Steinbrenner gave it:

I just think it's time the NL joined the 21st century," Steinbrenner said in a telephone interview. "The AL, the minors, colleges, high schools, they all have DHs.

All those leagues have had the DH for like 30 years, even way back in the 20th century. I like this logic: even high schools have DHs, so the NL should too, even though the DH is used in a vastly different manner in high school.

"Truthfully, the NL owners should be concerned with it

Truthfully, you're only concerned with it because one freak accident happened to you. Kind of like how baseball is considering instant replay just because two freak accidents happened to New York teams. Shut up already.

, even with the practice their pitchers get doing it.

My guess is that NL pitchers don't practice baserunning much. Of all the injuries this year, about .0000023 of them will come from an AL pitcher running the bases. Surely the rules need to be amended to adjust for this institutional unfairness toward the yankees.

You don't need to lose your best pitcher.

It's not the NL's fault Chien-Ming Wang can't round a base.

The pitcher has enough work to do.

Running around the bases is not much work.

It's something Bud (Selig) needs to address and he needs to address it soon. Don't give me that traditionalist crap.


No, he doesn't need to address it just beacuse your pitcher got hurt. Interleague play has been going on for eleven years now, and there's no reason to change things just because the almighty Yankees caught a shitty break. Just beacuse one bad thing happened to the Yankees doesn't mean baseball needs to change its rules.

Another Steinbrenner, another fat loudmouth. Also, I hate the DH.

FUCK FUCK FUCK! No! All Wrong! Bad!

But....but this is the OPPOSITE of what we wanted to happen!

Mariotti signs Sun-Times contract extension

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Jay Mariotti has agreed to a contract extension that will keep the award-winning sports columnist at the Sun-Times through May, 2011, Editor-in-Chief Michael Cooke said today.

Or alternatively, they could have saved money and just reprinted the same 5 columns over and over again

"The Sun-Times sports franchise is a robust, influential brand locally and nationally. It's the one place for independent, politically unimpeded sports commentary in Chicago," Mariotti said. "The Sun-Times provides for a strong base from which to connect with readers

You don't allow reader comments. How the fuck do you "connect" with readers?

while I continue my television work

You call yelling at Woody Paige work?

"Chicago is a die-hard sports town, and Jay is a focal point of our strong, award-winning team that produces simply the best sports news in print and online anywhere," Cooke said.

I'm sorry, NEWS??? You think THAT'S what Jay has been printing all these years? Let's just take this totally random and not cherry-picked excerpt from some column Jay wrote last October.


GREEN BAY, Wis. -- What a dope, that Ashton Kutcher. Didn't he have better things to do with his life? A lifelong Bears fan from Iowa, he and wife Demi Moore ventured from Hollywood to Cheesewood to see his team play the Packers. They even brought their friends, lovebirds Jessica Biel and Justin Timberlake -- the same Timberlake who participated in an infamous wardrobe malfunction at the Super Bowl.

I would have predicted a franchise malfunction Sunday night.


NEWS!

"We are excited to continue working with Jay, and for him to continue to pull no punches when it comes to his exceptional sports commentary."

Exceptional. Right. Here is the exceptionally genius method with which Jay writes.

Step 1) Find a scapegoat. It can be anyone who screws up majorly and deserves it, anyone who screws up minorly and doesn't deserve it, or someone you just plain don't like.

Step 2) Harp on that person's faults relentlessly for 10-15 paragraphs. Relevance is unnecessary. Avoid talking about sports at all costs.

Step 3) Repeat. And I don't mean repeat the process. Repeat with the same scapegoat and same irrelevant criticisms.

Congratulations, Chicago Sun-Times. This is truly a proud day for you.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Maybe You All Don't Find This As Amusing As I Do

I stole this picture from the front sports page of msnbc.com. Really makes Tiger Woods look like an asshole.



Hey Rocco, I'm just gonna stand here with my big giant trophy and this smug little grin on my face while you watch your hopes and dreams get flushed down the toilet. Awwwww, what's the matter, Rocco want a trophy? Rocco want a trophy? Too fucking bad. Is that a tear in your eye? Let me lick it! Mmmm...delectable!

(Please read the disclaimer in the title again and again.)

Sunday, June 15, 2008

This Is Not an Anti-Boston Post

This is an anti-dumbass radio personality post. Earlier today (before game 5 of the NBA Finals, obviously), I'm flipping radio channels. I decide to head over to the local ESPN affiliate. What is the very first thing I hear from the talking head of the hour?

You know why this series is 3-1 Boston instead of being tied 2-2? Because the Boston Celtics never stopped believing in themselves.

Yeah, that must be it. Or maybe, just maybe, it's any one of a hundred more substantive reasons. Down the stretch execution. Matchups. Defensive adjustments. Rebounding. But sure, the degree to which the Celtics "believe[d] in themselves" in game four might have been the key factor too. You never know. Hey, nameless Sunday mid-afternoonish ESPN Radio guy, whose actual identity is not revealed by their scheduling webpage: go fuck yourself. You stink.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

A Bit of Credit Where a Bit of Credit Is Due

I'm not saying he's the next F. Scott Fitzgerald, but I was very pleasantly surprised with the conclusion of this piece by Jayson Stark. Hey, how come home teams have been winning games at a surprising pace so far this year? (And speaking of which, how come David Eckstein has a World Series MVP trophy? How come Alex Rodriguez's playoff stats aren't that great since he became a Yankee? How come I sometimes flip a coin five times, and it comes up heads every single time?) Is it any one of a bunch of bullshit, anecdotal explanations? Most writers would be tempted by these foolish and almost definitely WRONG options. But not Jayson. (At least, not this time.) His conclusion- it's probably a matter of small sample size.

I like it.

Friday, June 13, 2008

A Bit of an Unjustifiable Typo

I've been staring at this for a few minutes, I just can't figure out how Jon Heyman ended up here. Your guess is as good as mine. (Thanks to regular tipster Erik)

Freddy Garcia threw 65 fastballs and changeups Thursday at "Hardball,'' an indoor facility near his Miami home, about 15 minutes south of where his old Phillies teammates were playing the Marlins. He was reported to have hit "85 mph,'' not too far from his velocity while helping the White Sox clinch the pennant in 1985.

Obviously he meant 2005, which is three digits off of 1985. And the White Sox didn't even win a pennant in 1985. Or at any time during the 60s, 70s, 80s, or 90s. Not close, Jon.

Picking on typos- the foundation of any successful anti sports media blog!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Sportscaster Says [X] On Air, Later Clarifies That He Didn't Actually Say [X]

I was about to preface this post with a protracted discussion about two massive problems affecting the world of celebrity today. On one hand, almost anything a famous person (even a local baseball broadcaster; I'm counting them as celebrity because they have access to audiences of millions) does can be unfairly and wrongly taken as offensive by nearly any person or group of people. But on the other hand, because celebrities have to half-heartedly apologize for stupid shit all the time, when it comes time for them to either make a legitimate apology or at least own up to something controversial that they said, they're completely unable to do so. Yup, I was going to spend like six paragraphs talking about that subject. But fuck that noise. It was probably bad enough for me to include even that brief summary in the post. Let me just tell you about this thing I heard that I feel is worth mentioning on this blog.

That second problem described above, regarding being unable to either apologize for a legitimately offensive statement or own up to it and defend it as controversial but appropriate, happened two nights ago in Kansas City. Said Royals broadcaster Ryan LeFebvre of visiting Rangers Josh Hamilton and Milton Bradley: (quote is pulled off Sportscenter audio and is 100% accurate)

Here's a guy (Hamilton), with all the troubles he's had, has shown that if you work at it you can get your life back in order. And that would be a pretty good role model for Milton Bradley, who clearly has no control over himself, because it's the same thing year after year. This game is... this country, really, if you follow baseball, has really embraced Josh Hamilton. And I think they've wanted to do the same with Milton Bradley. But Milton Bradley has refused to allow himself to be put in that position.

Now, let me add a brief but obvious disclaimer before I come to my long overdue conclusion: I'm not here to defend Milton Bradley. As far as pro athletes go, he seems like a grade-A shithead. He's done almost nothing in his career to convince me that he's not an awful teammate. I'm not sure what kind of person he is outside of baseball, but if the hotheadedness he shows there translates over to his personal life (and fairly or not, I assume it does to some extent), he's probably not a great guy to hang around with.

There, I'm done. That was mean, wasn't it? Sure. But I'll stand by it. I'd say it to Bradley's face, as long as there was someone in the room to prevent him from beating me mercilessly. And that's what make me different than Ryan LeFebvre, because according to Sportscenter, you know what he said about those comments when later asked about them? Apparently he "wasn't singling out Bradley" and "wasn't ripping him."

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

Read the original monolouge again, and let me know if I'm taking crazy pills here. Is that not the very definition of singling someone out, and, although not very maliciously, also close to the definition of ripping someone? Now you probably see why I wanted to write that intro. And now we come full circle to the end of the most cumbersome post in this (or maybe any) blog's existence. LeFebvre, in my mind, had two options once what he said became an issue and required further comment:

He could have A) apologized to Bradley and said he didn't mean to come across so harsh or without provocation. He didn't have to do this, of course. His original comments weren't really harsh enough to warrant it. But had he wanted to, he could have apologized, and it wouldn't have been weird or anything.

OR, he could have B) owned up to what he said and reaffirmed it. He could have simply said he was stating his opinion on the matter based on everything he's ever seen out of Bradley, and that while it's not the end of the world, it seems like Bradley is a troubled guy with some anger issues. There, that's not that hard, is it? Although it might have the fallout of causing Bradley to follow LeFebvre to his car one night and cave in LeFebvre's head with a bat, it's still an acceptable way to respond to the situation.

Is it really that hard to do one of those two things? Apparently so, because instead of either of them LeFebvre just decided to punk out and tell a bald-faced lie to a scandalously interested national audience. "Hey, I know I was singling out Milton Bradley and kind of ripping him, but I want you all to know that I wasn't singling him out or ripping him. Just thought I'd clear the air on that." OK, buddy. Whatever you say. Jeebus- give me a fucking break. What is this world coming to?

I know, I know, this post stinks. Sorry. Listen, all I ask is that if you leave a comment telling me this post sucks, and later on someone asks you "Hey, didn't you tell Larry B earlier today that his post stunk?", don't deny it.

Duh-Whaaaaa?

This was a couple of days ago. I totally forgot to mention this. It's from a Twins/White Sox broadcast from perpetual dumbass Hawk Harrelson. Quote not exact, but close.

I tell ya one thing about Alexei Ramirez. He's the best baseball player we've got on our roster. Does he give you the most production? Certainly not. We've got several guys who are more productive. But as far as just playing the game of baseball goes, he's the best guy we've got.

Honorable Mention: Pablo Ozuna and Nick Masset

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Dayn Perry Tries To Sneak a Flagrant Lie Past His Readers

Fortunately I have enough time on my hands to thoroughly disprove him. In this case, I don't think the problem is Dayn's idiocy. That's not to say that he's not an idiot, of course- but this time around I think he knew full well that his point was awful and decided to try to sneak it past everyone anyways. So which is worse- being stupid, or lying? I'll leave a question like that to Jack Handy. Let's just get down to brass tacks.

Among the major professional sports drafts, the MLB variant seems to get short shrift.

This is so for a number of reasons. One, college and high school baseball players are far less familiar to the sporting public than, say, those eligible to be drafted in the NBA and the NFL. Two, the MLB Draft is burdened by the "crap shoot" reputation, and, three, MLB draftees have far less immediate impact than those playing hoops or football.As for the first point, not much can be done about that one — college football and college basketball are and probably always will be more popular than college baseball (and certainly high school baseball).

As an aside that has nothing to do with the rest of this post, it's nauseating to me that high school football and basketball are now nationally televised. It's only going to exacerbate the already disastrous levels of corruption at sports' lower levels. Anyways-

As for the second point, well, it's a myth.

Is it? We can test that theory pretty easily, you realize.

Take a gander at the top 10 picks in a given year for all of the three major sports, and, generally speaking, you'll find similar levels of success or failure. MLB has its Brien Taylors, but the NFL and NBA have their Ryan Leafs and Chris Washburns, respectively.

Oh boy. Oh boy oh boy oh boy. Thank you in advance, Wikipedia. Let's take a look at the 5 year span from 1999-2003, because that gives the MLB draftees (who are obviously at a disadvantage relative to their NBA and NFL counterparts in terms of amount of time needed to make an impact) at least five years to have gotten to the big show and made an impact. I'll list the three leagues' top ten picks grouped together by year. I'll bold the guys I would consider to be flops. When it's all said and done, give or take a few possible disagreements between you and I about whether certain guys busted or not, you tell me whether or not you think the argument that the MLB draft is no more crapshootish than the NBA and NFL drafts really holds any water.

1999-

MLB
1. Josh Hamilton (obviously would have been bolded until 12 months ago)
2. Josh Beckett
3. Eric Munson
4. Corey Myers
5. B.J. Garbe
6. Josh Girdley
7. Kyle Snyder
8. Bobby Bradley
9. Barry Zito (the guy won a Cy; I don't care how bad he is now)
10. Ben Sheets

NBA
1. Elton Brand
2. Steve Francis (a tough call, but he was sick for his first six seasons)
3. Baron Davis
4. Lamar Odom
5. Jonathan Bender
6. Wally Szczerbiak (has had a better career than most would think)
7. Rip Hamilton
8. Andre Miller
9. Shawn Marion
10. Jason Terry

NFL
1. Tim Couch
2. Donovan McNabb
3. Akili Smith
4. Edgerrin James
5. Ricky Williams (what a weirdo, still has 7,000+ career yards)
6. Torry Holt
7. Champ Bailey
8. David Boston (David says: Hey kids, don't do steroids)
9. Chris Claiborne
10. Chris McAlister (meh)

2000-

MLB
1. Adrian Gonzalez
2. Adam Johnson
3. Luis Montanez
4. Mike Stoldoka
5. Justin Wayne
6. Rocco Baldelli (not even that good when he's healthy)
7. Matt Harrington (one of the stupidest athletes of all time)
8. Matt Wheatland
9. Mark Phillips
10. Joe Torres

NBA
1. Kenyon Martin
2. Stromile Swift (close to being a non-bust, but not quite)
3. Darius Miles
4. Marcus Fizer
5. Mike Miller
6. DerMarr Johnson
7. Chris Mihm (Andrew Bogut before Andrew Bogut was Andrew Bogut)
8. Jamal Crawford
9. Joel Pryzbilla
10. Keyon Dooling

NFL
1. Courtney Brown
2. LaVar Arrington (a tough call; in the same boat as Steve Francis)
3. Chris Samuels
4. Peter Warrick
5. Jamal Lewis (recovering in Cleveland from his prison rape quite nicely)
6. Corey Simon
7. Thomas Jones
8. Plaxico Burress (it's possible he and Darius Miles are the same person)
9. Brian Urlacher
10. Travis Taylor

2001-

MLB
1. Joe Mauer
2. Mark Prior (I really should bold him, but I'm trying to be overcompensatingly fair to Dayn)
3. Dewon Brazelton
4. Gavin Floyd
5. Mark Teixeira
6. Josh Karp
7. Chris Smith
8. John Van Benschoten
9. Colt Griffin
10. Chris Burke

NBA
1. Kwame Brown
2. Tyson Chandler
3. Pau Gasol
4. Eddy Curry (a decent offensive player when not being attacked by the NY media)
5. Jason Richardson
6. Shane Battier
7. Eddie Griffin (watch out for that train! not too soon!)
8. DeSagana Diop
9. Rodney White
10. Joe Johnson

NFL
1. Michael Vick (don't even try to argue this one)
2. Leonard Davis
3. Gerard Warren
4. Justin Smith (a fringe guy, but he got double-teamed a lot and still produced in Cincy)
5. LaDainian Tomlinson
6. Richard Seymour
7. Andre Carter
8. David Terrell
9. Koren Robinson (Koren says: hey kids, don't drink and drive.)
10. Jamal Reynolds

2002-

MLB
1. Brian Bullington
2. B.J. Upton
3. Christopher Grueler
4. Adam Loewen
5. Clint Everts
6. Zach Greinke (I'm being generous because he's still so young)
7. Prince Fielder
8. Scott Moore
9. Jeff Francis
10. Drew Meyer

NBA
1. Yao Ming
2. Jay Williams (almost definitely would have had a good career if he wasn't fucking stupid)
3. Mike Dunleavy Jr. (a tough call, but I'll give it to him for doing a little of everything)
4. Drew Gooden
5. Nikoloz Tskitishvili
6. DaJuan Wagner
7. Nene Hilario
8. Chris Wilcox
9. Amare Stoudemire
10. Caron Butler

NFL
1. David Carr (another tough call, but he can only blame his OL for so long)
2. Julius Peppers
3. Joey Harrington
4. Mike Williams (career derailed by Hostess snack cakes)
5. Quentin Jammer
6. Ryan Sims
7. Bryant McKinnie (insert sex boat scandal joke here)
8. Roy Williams
9. John Henderson
10. Levi Jones

2003-

MLB
1. Delmon Young (like Greinke, I'm cutting him slack for being so young)
2. Rickie Weeks
3. Kyle Sleeth
4. Timothy Stauffer
5. Christopher Lubanski (has good minor league numbers, but has progressed too slowly)
6. Ryan Harvey
7. Nick Markakis
8. Paul Mahom
9. John Danks
10. Ian Stewart (better than Lubanski in the minors and has flashed power in the bigs)

NBA
1. LeBron James
2. Darko Milicic (all you can really say is... oof)
3. Carmelo Anthony
4. Chris Bosh
5. Dwyane Wade (I almost labeled him a bust for this)
6. Chris Kaman
7. Kirk Heinrich
8. T.J. Ford
9. Michael Sweetney
10. Jarvis Hayes

NFL
1. Carson Palmer
2. Charles Rogers
3. Andre Johnson
4. Dewayne Robertson
5. Terence Newman
6. Jonathan Sullivan
7. Byron Leftwich
8. Jordan Gross
9. Kevin Williams
10. Terrell Suggs

Total busts:
MLB- 34
NBA- 18
NFL- 20

After a glance or two, I'm reasonably confident the same trends continue if you look at the whole first round, whole draft, or go back further into history. So, no, Dayn. You don't see the same levels of success or failure in the first ten picks across all three sports. In fact, it's not even close. But wait- there's more!

The third point? Certainly, the existence of the minor leagues means that MLB draftees have a longer wait than their NFL and NBA counterparts. However, it's not quite as long as you might think. Consider that as recently as 2005 we had these names called early on: Justin Upton, Alex Gordon, Ryan Zimmerman, Ryan Braun, Troy Tulowitzki, Jay Bruce, Jacoby Ellsbury, Matt Garza, Travis Buck, and Clay Buchholz. Needless to say, that's an impressive first-round haul — and one that's already making a serious impact in the majors.

Don't get me wrong, I understand that those are household names. Every one of those guys, even those not playing in big media markets, have received a significant amount of press. But how many are actually making "a serious impact" in the majors? Upton, Gordon, Garza, Buck, and Buchholz certainly aren't. Bruce and Ellsbury look good but haven't even played full seasons yet. Tulowitzki was awful before getting hurt this year and Zimmerman has a great glove but a mediocre bat. From that list I'd say that only Bruan has made an impact that could be characterized as anything close to serious. And I'm worried that I might be biased even in making that claim. Although I'm personally not Jewish like Braun, many of my best friends are, so sometimes I get caught up in the massive amounts of hype they pile onto any Jewish athlete. He's... he's actually legit, right?

In conclusion, Dayn Perry has done nothing to convince me of his claim that the MLB draft is the victim of several unfair misconceptions. It's still boring because even big NCAA baseball fans haven't heard of half the players. It's still a gargantuan crapshoot, much moreso than the NBA or NFL drafts. And even when it produces big stars, it still takes them an extremely long time to develop.

But after all that, here's the pathetic conclusion- since I'm no longer employed, I still watched the whole damn first round last Thursday. Damn you, hype. Your siren song always ends up costing me money, time, or both.