Sunday, November 30, 2008

National writers let reason take a backseat

I don't have an entire article to rip. Instead, I bring you a hodgepodge of reasoning that hurts my brain from the nation's sportswriters.

Gregg Doyel
: Not again, certainly not with Vick, who is the most vile professional athlete since Rae Carruth. Vick didn't conspire to kill a person, "just" dogs, but considering I prefer the typical dog to the typical person, that's an unforgivable crime in my opinion.

Rae Carruth conspired to kill his girlfriend, who, at the time was eight months pregnant with twins. One of the babies died a week after being born. Rae Carruth was found guilty of conspiracy to commit murder and shooting into an occupied vehicle. He's now serving 18 years 11 months in prison. Vick did some pretty horrible things. But, there's a reason he might be out of jail in less than two years. Conspiracy to commit murder is ever so slightly less forgivable than teaching dogs to kill and then killing the ones who don't.

Ivan Maisel:
That's because, in the end, the blame for this mess lies at the feet not of the BCS but of the Big 12. The Big 12 tiebreaker states that in the event of a three-way tie in which all other tiebreakers have been exhausted, the team rated highest in the BCS will be the division champion.

The Southeastern Conference tiebreaker says that in the event of a three-way tie, the team that is rated the highest will be the division champion unless the second-highest team is within five places in the BCS standings. Then it reverts to head-to-head competition. You can bet emphasis is added. And you can bet that the Big 12 will revisit this rule after the season.

I can't imagine there's anyone who writes for or reads this blog who thinks that the BCS is a perfect system, or would vehemently defend its implementation and workings. Everyone gets that it sucks. This year, if you're a Texas fan, you feel jobbed and you hate the BCS. If you're an Oklahoma fan, well, you feel the exact opposite.

Oklahoma lost to Texas by 10. Texas lost to Texas Tech by six on a last second touchdown. Texas Tech then lost to Oklahoma by 44. And thus, we have a problem.

Larry and I have had plenty of conversations about how a three-way tie should be broken. And you know what? There's really no one way that is without its deficiencies.

As for the SEC's system, let's use it here in this instance. Oklahoma is #2 in the BCS, Texas is #3, Tech is #7. I assume, since it's not specifically mentioned, that the third team, of the three way tie, gets booted from the discussion. So it's down to Oklahoma and Texas. Under the SEC rules, Texas goes to the Big XII championship game. They're happy; Oklahoma's not. This is no different from the quandary we find ourselves in now.

All the arguments I've heard for Texas pretty much start by discarding Texas Tech from the three-way tie argument. Then, it comes down to the Oklahoma-Texas head to head matchup. Texas, of course, gets the edge with the win over Oklahoma seven weeks ago. But, why toss Texas Tech out of the argument? Because they had two bad wins at home, sure, but primarily because they got crushed by 44 two weeks ago. Texas Tech gets discounted because of the whoopin' that Oklahoma put on them, and because of that whoopin' Oklahoma is inferior to Texas. Ivan Maisel, and everyone else, SEC included, welcome to geometry class. I give you the circle.

Brad Edwards: That raises the question: Is it still certain that Florida reaches the BCS National Championship Game by simply beating No. 1 Alabama on Saturday?

Just guessing, but, yes.

While there's obvious reason for Gators fans to be concerned, it remains highly unlikely that No. 3 Texas will stay ahead of Florida with many voters if UF wins the SEC title.

This might be too picky, but an "obvious reason" to be concerned should yield something slightly more likely than "highly unlikely." I could die tomorrow, but, that's highly unlikely. So, I'm not concerned.

If Oklahoma goes on to win the Big 12 championship, chances are good that some (if not most) of this week's Longhorns supporters will move the conference champion back ahead of UT on next week's ballots.

No argument here. This would cement Oklahoma as either #1 or #2 in the final BCS standings.

Also, with Alabama-Florida being a 1 versus 2 matchup in the Harris poll, and the Gators trailing No. 2 Oklahoma by only 12 points in this week's coaches' poll, it's probable that Florida will move to No. 1 in both polls if it wins the SEC title. That would pretty much ensure the Gators reach the top 2 of next week's BCS standings.

Again, no argument here. This pretty much cements Florida as either #1 or #2, right?

But if Florida wins the SEC and somehow doesn't climb higher than second in one of the polls, there's a chance Oklahoma and Texas could have a rematch for the BCS title.

Sure, delineate the reasons that this won't happen, and then, tell us that in the event that the .00001% chance this scenario plays itself out, we're fucked into having a rematch of two great teams for the national championship. Sound the alarm Brad Edwards. The British are most definitely coming.

Stewart Mandel: For the first time in the 11-year history of the BCS, I find myself thankful for the computers...I myself...conclud[ed] that the Longhorns deserved to stay ahead of the Sooners.


The computers made the decision for us. They decided the exact opposite of what you personally felt. You're happy for the computers?

Andrew Perloff: If ever a personal foul was worth the 15 yards, it was Steelers safety Ryan Clark's "unnecessary hit on a defenseless receiver" against New England. Clark laid out Wes Welker, taking the Patriots' talented receiver out of the game. Welker and his fellow receivers have been torturing defenses, running for yards after the catch all season. Lots of safeties around the league have probably dreamt the hit Clark put on Welker. Hopefully the talented Welker will be just fine. While I understand the emphasis on player safety, as a fan I'd miss bone-crunching hits on receivers over the middle if they completely disappeared.

Go here. :43-:47 is the only way to aptly describe my thoughts on this.

Gregg Easterbrook: Not a fan of Tom Brady, Randy Moss, logic

Brady is a superb athlete, but right now he may be at some supermodel's Mediterranean seaside villa wincing, because Cassel is demonstrating that Brady was not essential for the Patriots to win. If New England had melted down without Brady, that would have cemented Tom's reputation as an all-time talent. If the Patriots end up having a great season without Brady, nobody will hold that against No. 12, but the focus will shift away from Brady and toward the New England team and system overall. Say what you like about Bill Belichick -- and there are many things not to like -- he runs the best ship in the NFL. And choose your nautical cliché: the ship has steered off the rocks, is back to flank speed, is headed to the blue water, etc.

I understand that the Pats have had more go wrong for them this season than just losing Brady and might account for their less than perfect record, but this talk about possibly ditching Tom Brady (regardless of his health when he returns) is bat-shit crazy.

First of all though, I think it's pretty abysmal that Gregg Easterbrook lavishes so much praise on "the system," but completely ignores one of the biggest reasons for Cassel's success: Randy Moss. Observe the following Quarterbacks who've posted 90+ QB Ratings over 2 games or more in a season when playing with Randy Moss:

Randal Cunningham (his 2nd and last time)
Jeff George (his 2nd and last time)
Daunte Culpepper (3/5 seasons with Moss, hasn't posted a 90+ since Moss's departure)
Todd Bouman (Over the course of 3 games with Moss; the only other time in his career he started 3 games in a season was with New Orleans where he put up a 54.7 rating)
Gus Frerotte (never broke the 90 QB Rating threshold before or after)
Tom Brady (held a 90+ QB rating in 2 seasons without Moss, never had a season below 85.9)
Matt Cassel (currently sporting a 90.5)

Furthermore, while Cassel and the Pats currently sport a 7-4 record, they haven't exactly been playing the stiffest competition. The 2007 Pats played (and beat) 6 playoff teams, the 9-7 Cleveland Browns, and the 8-8 Philadelphia Eagles. The 2008 Pats get to play against The AFC West and The NFC West, the two worst divisions in the NFL, with 2 "playoff teams" among them who probably wouldn't make the playoffs in any other division.

Finally, while Cassel might've lit up the opposing defenses in the past two games and currently hold that 90.5 QB rating, it doesn't come anywhere close to the 117.2 with 4,806 yds and 50 tds that Brady had in 2007. Easterbrook, et all. seem to have forgotten this, and that is really stupid.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Dayn Perry: Insufferable Douche

Gee golly guys, Dayn Perry sure disapproves of signing any free agent pitchers ever, doesn't he?

The Hot Stove season isn't notable for its certainties, but here's one bankable assumption: teams are going to overpay for pitching.

Well yeah, that's pretty safe. Some teams probably will overpay. Some will get about the right price. And few might even make off with a solid steal.

It happens every year, like paying taxes or the swallows returning to Capistrano. Teams, frantic for help, cough up contracts that can best be described as "galactically stupid."

Agreed. That probably happens too often.

Consider some of the grim boondoggles of the past ... Darren Dreifort (five years, $55 million), Kevin Brown (seven years, $105 million), Carl Pavano (four years, $39.95 million), Russ Ortiz (four years, $33 million), Chan Ho Park (five years, $65 million), Mike Hampton (eight years, $121 million), Denny Neagle (five years, $51.5 million), Barry Zito (seven years, $126 million), Carlos Perez (three years, $15.6 million), and Carlos Silva (four years, $48 million).

And there's a nice glob of evidence to support that.

Lots of belly-itchers in there, and that's but a sampling. Sure, not every winter brings us Dreifortian/Hamptonian levels of irrationality. But you can bet teams are always
(emphasis his) going to cough up more than they should for pitching help.



Never, in recent history, has any team given a reasonable contract to any pitcher?

There's an economic argument to be made that there's no such thing as an overpaid player — if the market dictates a given contract then that player is, by definition, worth that amount of money. That's true, to an extent. Contracts aren't acts of charity: they cost as much and run as long as it takes to get the player signed. However, as we all know, whether that player provides value on the dollar is another matter altogether. This is especially the case with pitchers.

Ignoring Dayn's insane need to climb on down from his pedestal way up there, this is all pretty true.

Pitching is a destructive art. The human body simply isn't designed to throw overhanded and at such speeds — it's unnatural and, done often enough, it almost always results in injury. As well, pitching entails much randomness and a level of precision foreign to other elements of the game.

Care for some more tea, crumpets, or caviar there Dayn?

(I have no idea what a "crumpet" is.)

Moving, on, your "almost always results in an injury" claim is pretty darn unfounded. There's plenty of guys in the majors who go in year-in and year out and don't have large injury risks associated with them. And you can go ahead and take your "pitching entails much randomness and a level of precision foreign to other elements of the game" argument right on over to Albert Pujols, mmmkay? Ask him, "Hey don't need to be precise or anything with regards to where you swing the bat, right? You can just hit any old part of the ball and it just flies right out of the park, I'm assuming...."

And randomness? The only "randomness" in pitching is the luck of where a ball in play lands. You might also notice, Dayn, that this "randomness" applies to the hitter, the person who hit said ball. So in re: there's some kind of mystical randomness to pitching unbeknownstative to other parts of the game, go fuck yourself.

All of these factors conspire to render all but the most elite pitchers wildly unpredictable.

Did anyone else vomit in their mouth when Dayn Perry wrote the phrase "conspire to render?"

Anyone here see why the word "make" had to be replaced by "conspire to render"?

Did you get a vocab list or something that you needed to incorporate into this article?

Because that's the shit that goes on in high school, Dayn.

High school.

CC Sabathia at some point this winter will sign the richest contract ever for a pitcher. At age 28 and with a fairly positive health history, it's conceivable he'll be worth it. But it's not likely. In fact, it's overwhelmingly unlikely.

Some evidence would be nice. After all, you wrote this article to convince me that guys like Sabathia will be making too much money.

What's that? Too much to ask? Ok.....

Derek Lowe might sign a contract that takes him to age 40.

And isn't it possible that there's an amount of money that makes said contract worth it?

Andy Pettitte reportedly wants at least $16 million to pitch in 2009.

Absolutely does not mean he'll get it.

Oliver Perez, according to the impartial and rigorously scientific estimations of his agent Scott Boras, is one of the top-five lefties in baseball and should be paid accordingly.

That is truly frightening, if true. Quite a thing to say about a pitcher who didn't finish in the top 100 pitchers by VORP last season.

Why is this so? Why can't GMs resist these annual calls to madness? Perhaps the old chestnut that baseball is x% pitching (where x >>>>>> 50) is still believed by too many people within the game. Perhaps it's the notion that good pitching is too scarce these days.

Theory: If you don't do it, you're going to take a serious hit against teams that do. Sometimes, it's smart to "overpay" for that extra guy who's going to get you over the hump and into the playoffs, a feat that nets that team plenty of extra money in revenue. I mean I don't know, I don't write for a prestigious website like, so maybe I'm just clueless.

Whatever the reasons, it happens every time. In reality, unless you're a team of near limitless resources like the Yankees or Red Sox, you should take no part in helping along these sordid valuations.

There's another solid word for the vocab list. "Sordid." And unless I've missed my guess, it's pretty out of place there (check me on that one, dan-bob).

Also, our friend Dayn doesn't seem to understand that if you have no intention of signing a pitcher, you have every reason in the world to want to help along the "sordid valuations."

Hell, for almost every team in baseball, disinterring the four-man rotation would make more sense than throwing $80 million A.J. Burnett's way.

"Disinterring." Nice one. How many more you have left to check off?

Funny. You don't think throwing $80M at Burnett is smart, because he's injury-prone, and that's bad. A proposed "better" solution is to move to a dangerously exhausting 4-man rotation for 162 games.

Huh. And you don't see any contradiction in there at all.

In a sense, the ideal path to strong pitching is the same as it is with hitting: develop your own talent, identify the keepers, lock them up early.

And anyone without 5 solid homegrown starters locked up should just stop being competitive, sit around, complain all day, and become the Baltimore Orioles.

But given the going rates for free-agent hurlers, doing things the right way is even more critical. Otherwise, you end up throwing money — lots of it — at the problem. The historical imperative is that it almost never works. Now watch as teams far and wide ignore that history. Again and again.

Yeah. The Boston Red Sox are REALLY kicking themselves for paying $51M to talk to Dice-K and $52 more to sign him for 6-years. Kicking themselves right square in the face. The Dodgers just vomited money when they threw $36M at Derek Lowe over 4 years. All free agent pitcher signings are terrible, teams are stupid, everyone else is wrong, I'm Dayn Perry, and you can all go fuck yourselves.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Welcome to St. Louis, Now Go Fuck Off

While most of my high school classmates stayed in state for college, I jumped at the chance to move back to St. Louis. Some my say that I only did that because my alma mater is the only school that gave me a scholarship, and those people are right. This city has a lot of things that most others don't. And unfortunately for new St. Louis Blue Carlo Colaiacovo, this city has St. Louis' own Bernie Miklasz

You see, I don't really care for the guy. To me, he's the Jay Mariotti of St. Louis. I don't subscribe to the Post-Dispatch because of him. I don't watch Cardinals pregame because he might be on. I only clicked to read his article because I didn't know he wrote it. If I was a better blogger, his RSS feed would be on my toolbar. Well I guess I'll take one for the team.

I have a giant pet peeve, and that's misspelled names. My name is very difficult for people, even after the Jeff Jarrett character in the WWF spelled my name for months before hiting people over the head with guitars. J-A-double R-E-double T. *KA-BONG*. So let's dive right in.

The Blues ought to send some video to Earth City, and give the Rams something to look at in between naps. Rams players could learn a few things about giving the fans an honest effort for their ticket dollars.

Man, those Rams suck! They're so bad, in fact, that they should take lessons from a hockey team! Lessons in playing hard! While the Rams players take naps atop their millions of dollars, I'm sure they'll take a second to play harder for the fans that paid to watch them.

The Blues have their flaws, but they never stop working. Over the weekend, their gritty one-goal victories over Anaheim and Minnesota were a testament to determination.

Their gritty win over Anaheim was so gritty that they had the lead 2-1 with 6 seconds left and Anaheim scored when Jay McClement knocked Ryan Getzlaf over Manny Legace so he couldn't see the puck coming in that tied the game at 2. Then Lee Stempniak scored the game winner in OT. More on him in a second.

Sure, improved goaltending played a role. Manny Legace has emerged from his funk, and No. 2 Chris Mason played his finest game as a Blue on Saturday night in Minnesota.

The final scores were 3-2 and 2-1. You think goaltending was important in those?

They've pushed back to .500 on the season (8-8-2) and you had to love the way they fought their way past Anaheim on Friday in one of the most entertaining games at Scottrade this season. The Ducks can be physically intimidating, but the Blues stood up to the visitors, with B.J. Crombeen, Cam Janssen and Brad Winchester throwing down in the first 10 minutes.

That's right Blues fans, you have to love that they gave up the lead late. You have to love it because there were fights! Nothing says "New NHL!" quite like three fights and a 3-2 final. I was at that game, and the more entertaining game was the 6-1 thumping the Blues put down on the Stars where we all got free DQ Blizzards.

Blues coach Andy Murray seems to have a genuine fondness for old-time hockey, and the injuries have given Murray a chance to thicken the depleted roster by adding muscle.

You know what helps you lose games in the NHL these days? Playing Old-time hockey. It's great that you want to send fighters out there, Bernie, but Sidney Crosby will skate past him and score on a breakaway.

"Our players aren't reticent," Blues president John Davidson said. "They'll run you out of the building. The message the other night was, 'This is our house.' ''

Followed by the message "CHEETAH GIRLS: DECEMBER 7TH!"

Two new Blues entered the house Monday, when the team traded scoring winger Lee Stempniak to Toronto for defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo and center Alex Steen.

I'm staying silent on what I think of the trade. Which tells you I hate it. But this blog is about bad journalism and Bernie and his editor leave a tightly coiled bundle of it right here.

Stempniak scored 27 goals two seasons ago but has only 16 goals in his last 97 NHL games despite clocking a lot of minutes on the power play. Stempniak was playing well at the time of the deal, but his fragile confidence is always an issue.

Also fragile? His left knee. It gave him problems all last season and was re injured this season.

The case can be made that the Blues gave up on Stempniak too soon, and the deal could blow up if his consistent scoring touch returns.

Last 5 games: 2 goals, 5 assists.

But this move also makes sense for a few reasons.

Reason #1: Nonsense

Stempniak is supposed to make $3.5 million next season; then he becomes an unrestricted free agent. Is Stempniak a $3.5 million player? Not really, and Colaiacovo and Steen will make a combined $3.1 million next season. So the Blues have obtained two players for less than the price of one, and the savings of $400,000 can only help the mission of getting McDonald re-signed after the season.

Because $400,000 will keep an NHL player from leaving.

The Blues are banking on the newcomers' upside. Colaiacovo and Steen are former No. 1 draft picks. If you include Erik Johnson and rookie Alex Pietrangelo (who was recently sent back to juniors), the Blues have 14 No. 1 draft choices on the roster.

WRONG. The Blues have 14 players who were picked in the first round of the draft. Not 14 #1 overall picks. So the two new Blues could either be really good, or total shit. In late breaking news, the Blues have also acquired The Little Engine That Could.

Colaiacoco is a bit of an enigma.

In that he doesn't exist. See, that's not his name. A simple typo. This will be corrected.

Noting Colaiacoco's injury history, Toronto coach Ron Wilson recently ripped into him for his poor conditioning. But if Colaiacoco can stay on the ice, his skating and passing should enhance the Blues' plodding transition game.

Carlo, welcome home, buddy! We make a lot of beer here in St. Louis, so hopefully you like drinking. Also, the sports columnist that St. Louis loves for no good reason will be spelling your name wrong. A lot. But don't worry, he'll spend most of his time writing about how bad the Rams are, how the Cardinals are the toast of the town, or about eating straight suet right off the kidney of a calf.

Colaiacoco didn't receive much ice time on the power play in Toronto, but he has a heavy shot and will take some turns on the point here. Still only 25, Colaiacoco has a chance to reach his potential in St. Louis and can be a top-four defenseman. Are Wilson's criticisms true or false? How hard does Colaiacoco want to work? We'll find out.

Hopefully he doesn't have that fragile confidence that Stempniak had, because some fat fuck is misspelling his last name. That's six times in two paragraphs that his name is wrong. It's not an easy name to type or pronounce. But the first thing he'll see in his new hometown's paper is that this midwestern yutz can't spell his name right. Thanks, dipshit.

If Stempniak, 25, starts pumping in the goals, the Blues may have regrets. But they've traded one mid-20s talent with upside for two mid-20s talents with upside. And they save money. It's a smart gamble.

$400,000 isn't saving a lot of money. With the economy set to bring the salary cap down next year, it doesn't hurt. I fail to see how you can say "saving money" is an upside to the trade. That's like a The only smart gamble here is William Howard Taft as the next Halloween costume for Bernie Miklasz. Or maybe he'd prefer Miklazs. Or perhaps Mikfatfuck.

Thinking Outside the Box: Not a Good Idea In Certain Situations

When is thinking outside the box a bad idea?

1. When you're on a spacewalk and your box holds all your air.
2. When you're on a dinghy in the middle of the Indian Ocean and your box is keeping you out of the shark-infested waters.
3. When you're Tom Brady and your box is already better looking than just about all the other boxes at the box factory.
4. When you've lost at the game of baseball for fifteen straight seasons so you start signing random guys from other continents who won a reality show about pitching.

Bucs sign two 20-year-old inexperienced pitchers from India

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Pirates hope Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel really do have million-dollar arms.

I like how the verb in this sentence is "hope". The Pirates don't seem convinced at all that either of these guys have million dollar arms. Sucks to be a Pirates fan.

The two 20-year-old pitchers, neither of whom had picked up a baseball until earlier this year, signed free-agent contracts Monday with the Pirates. They are believed to be the first athletes from India to sign professional baseball contracts outside their country.

What about Chief Bender? What about Louis Sockalexis? What about Joba Chamberlain?

Is there a minimum salary for a free-agent contract? I would like to know exactly how much money the Pirates are wasting on two twenty-year olds who have never played baseball before.

Singh and Patel came to the United States six months ago after being the top finishers in an Indian reality TV show called the Million Dollar Arm that drew about 30,000 contestants. The show sought to find athletes who could throw strikes at 85 miles per hour or faster.

I wonder what the ratings were for that show. Also, I can't wait until ABC comes out with a wildly popular reality show called Million Dollar Leg, where a country full of arm-based sports players has to find contestants who will try to kick a ball at 50 miles an hour into a really big net, then go to Europe and fail at that professional sport. I think it'll be even more of a hit than my current project - resurrecting Yes, Dear. Also, soccer sucks.

While neither pitcher threw hard enough to earn the $1 million prize, Singh made $100,000 from the contest and Patel made $2,500, plus his trip to the United States.

So... what you're saying is... the Pirates signed both of these guys and neither of them can throw eighty-five miles an hour?

The contest was sponsored by a California sports management company that believed it could locate major league-worthy arms in a country of more than one billion. After working extensively with Southern California pitching coach Tom House since May, the pitchers staged a tryout in Tempe, Ariz., on Nov. 6 that was attended by 30 major league scouts.

I'm sure there are people in India who are physically capable of throwing a ball hard. As most baseball fans know, big muscles and strong players do not a ballplayer make.

Baseball scouts have to be the most anonymous people ever. Their names are as better hidden than Valerie Plame's!

Snap! Political joke!

"The Pirates are committed to creatively adding talent to our organization," Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said Monday. "By adding these two young men, the Pirates are pleased to not only add two prospects to our system but also hope to open a pathway to an untapped market. We are intrigued by Patel's arm strength and Singh's frame and potential."

I can picture this conversation on the phone here (fast-forward to about 2:05 if you're busy and don't appreciate good comedy):

Indian GM: Hey, we have some players here. Yo, Neal is that you?

Huntington: Yeah, yeah.. it's me.. Neal.

Indian GM: Yeah man, we just finished laying a beat-down on the Bombay Bombers. Let me go get Terishna --

Huntington: No no no, don't get Terry - listen, there are some guys going around in baseball uniforms but they're not REAL baseball players. They're about to rob a bunch of money from the Pittsburgh Pirates...

dan-bob: DON'T BE FOOLED.

Neither pitcher has taken the mound in a game situation, no doubt a first for a Pirates prospect. They have pitched in scrimmages against junior college competition.

Depending on how you define it, it wouldn't be hard to argue that no Pirates pitcher has taken the mound in a "game" situation since 1991.

Both threw the javelin in India, a country best known for producing cricket players, and neither the right-hander Patel nor the left-hander Singh had left his small village before coming to the United States. Singh was born in Bhadoni, Uttar Pradesh, and is the youngest of nine children. Patel is from Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, and has four brothers and sisters.

I'd like to buy a vowel?

The 5-foot-11, 185-pound Patel hit 90 mph on the radar gun during his tryout, and the 6-2, 195-pound Singh topped out at 84 mph. Each has thrown harder during workout sessions that weren't attended by scouts.

1. "They threw harder when nobody was looking" sounds like a lousy cop-out.

2. There must be at least 23,456 20-year-old Americans who can top out at 84 mph, and 12,345 20-year old Americans who can top out at 90 mph. But since the Pirates have spent 15 years failing to sort the good American players from the bad American players, they're probably like, fuck it, at least we're trying something different.

"Think of them as two Dominican kids," House told the scouts. "They're very raw. But I think this has a huge upside."

Except Dominican kids know the rules to, and can play, baseball.

When they first came to the United States and began playing catch, the pitchers were mystified by the concept of gloves and had to be taught not to try to catch the ball with their bare hands.

Baseball gloves made of cow! Cannot touch! This is a pretty low-brow joke; I am making the outrageous stereotypical assumtption that these two young men are practicing Hindus!

Good thing baseballs are made of horsehide!

Despite being more than raw, the pitchers were signed by well-known agent Jeff Borris, who was attracted by their potential after watching them work out at Southern Cal. Borris estimates they will need three to four years of minor league experience before becoming major league ready.

I guess Borris is just looking for something to do now that he's finally given up the charade of trying to get teams to sign Barry Bonds.

Patel and Singh are learning English, most of which they have picked up from watching ESPN's Baseball Tonight and by taking online classes.


They're learning English by watching BASEBALL TONIGHT? That has to be the second-worst idea ever, after the Hindenburg.

Chris Berman, Buck Showalter and John Kruk: licensed English teachers.

"These young men have improved a tremendous amount in their six-month exposure to baseball and we look forward to helping them continue to fulfill their promise," Huntington said.

Yeah, OK, NEAL. Instead of picking up random athletes from foreign countries, why don't you teach your organization how to find GOOD pitchers who already exist in this country?

The signings represent a shift in policy for the Pirates, who have mostly ignored non-traditional markets such as Asia for players.

Going back to my opening bit: sometimes, thinking outside the box is not a good idea.

Seeking out non-traditional sources of talent: not a bad idea, in principle.

Signing the winners of a reality tv show in India: stupid idea.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Peter King: Fat, Stupid, and an Embarrassment to Journalism

Is there any way he could ask dumber questions? I understand that not every question a reporter gives to a star is going to be hard-hitting and thought-provoking. But this asshole takes the idea of tossing softballs to ridiculous levels. Check out his interviews with three NFL quarterbacks from this week's MMQB. After each section, I'll write what I think he probably asked each in order to get the answer. When you're done, ask yourself if King has helped you learn anything substantive about these players.

First, Ben Roethlisberger and his risky decision to dive for a touchdown on a scramble towards the goal line in spite of having a hurt shoulder:

"Heck no,'' he said after I asked if he had thought twice about exposing his shoulder to that risk. "I will never ... Casey Hampton said to me on the sidelines, 'What are you doing scoring? Why didn't you just go down at the one?' I said, 'Hamp, don't you know by now? That's my heart.' I'm a competitor. I want to get in the end zone. And I want to win. Period. I don't think about running the clock out. I don't think about saving myself. It'll take someone to bring me down. It's the competitive side. [Coach Mike Tomlin] tells me, 'Don't take a hit. Get down, slide.' You have to pick your battles. You have to know when to do it. In that situation, it's competition.''

King's question: "So, Ben, do you like to win? Are you the kind of guy who wants to give it all for his team, play like a champion, and be an inspiration all of America? Or would you rather play it safe, and not play like a champion and not try to win?"

Next, a certain Jets QB who Peter would be happy to butt-tongue if given the chance, regarding (surprise, sur-fucking-prise) his future:

"And it's been great. It hasn't been all smooth, but I've enjoyed it. I'm having fun. Now, if we were 3-8 instead of 8-3, I know I'd be back on the farm next year and it'd be over. But I'm just going to play as hard as I can every week the rest of the way and we'll see how it goes.''

No promises about next year. He just doesn't know yet, and he's not allowing himself to think ahead. He did think ahead about one thing Sunday, though.

King's question: "Brett, are you pretty much done thinking about this season? Have you pretty much decided that it's time to stop worrying about anything that happens between now and February, and just start thinking about whether you will grace us with your presence for one more year? Or are you still kind of thinking about how your team is 8-3 and rapidly becoming a playoff contender? And if so, what is your strategy for the rest of this season- are you actually going to try, or are you just kind of going to half-ass it?

Also, can I drink some of your urine?"

Similar idea for New England's Matt Cassel:

The easiest way to get put off by the polite Cassel is to mention he's about to be a free-agent, and he's about to make a jillion dollars somewhere in 2009. He knows. He's not stupid. He just doesn't want to hear about it now.

"We'll see,'' he said. "I honestly don't think about it. I just want to keep playing, and let that take care of itself when the end of the year comes.'' Smart man.

King's Question: "Matt, are you at all thinking about this season anymore? Granted, your team is still in the thick of the wild card and division title hunt. But have you decided not to worry about that, and just pretty much mentally check out? Do you spend all your time obsessing over getting a big contract from a new team next summer?"

Seriously, fuck this guy. What a zilch. Oh, and a nice little hypocritical complaint from PK at the end of his predictably awful 10 things he thinks he thinks:

If I read one more story about where LeBron James might play two years from now, I'm going to puke.

Yeah, you've never run a story into the ground or anything. Never happened. No way you would ever strongly contribute to the media's infatuation with a story that gets incredibly fucking old.

Friday, November 21, 2008

More Easterbrook Stupidity

Sour Play of the Week No. 2: "Catch the ball with your hands!" That's what coaches endlessly tell running backs and receivers -- meaning, do not catch the ball against your body, instead hold your hands outward and catch the ball before it can strike your chest or pads and ricochet away. Specifically, receivers are coached to form their hands into a diamond shape to catch the ball away from the body. On the decisive play of the Giants-Ravens game, Ravens wide receiver Derrick Mason let the ball ricochet off his upper chest and into the hands of Aaron Ross for an interception, which was returned for a touchdown. Mason's hands were not in a diamond; he had his hands all wrong in terms of form, allowing the ball to strike his body.

Would that have been a pick to the house if Mason used the diamond? Maybe not, although Easterbrook, in typical Easterbrook fashion, makes it sound like drops/ints never occur when the diamond method is employed.

However, it is fucking ridiculous that Easterbrook, who oft criticizes others for their lack of attention to detail, apparently couldn't be bothered to watch the play, or the multiple replays from different angles, with a close enough eye to see that the ball clearly struck Mason's face mask, not his "upper chest."

Fucking hypocrite.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

TMTMQR: Will Someone Please Just Fire Gregg Easterbrook Already

Now. Immediately. Today. Yesterday, if possible.

Did Marion Barber get the ball across the goal line against Washington before his knee went down? Did Santonio Holmes get out of bounds with three seconds remaining in the first half against San Diego, stopping the clock so Pittsburgh could kick a field goal in a game the Steelers ended up winning by one point? Did Marvin Harrison get the ball across the goal line before his knee went down against Houston? Did Ben Roethlisberger get the ball across the goal line at all on the key play of Super Bowl XL?

All valid questions. All of them somewhat easily answerable under football's current replay format.

More importantly, why do we even have to discuss this stuff? Let's put a chip in the football and end these debates.

Oh, wow. There's an idea. Just like that, huh? No more disputes! No more debates. Never mind the horrific practical obstacles associated with this idea- do you have any idea how little this would do to reduce the number of issues associated with tough calls around the goal line? As Easterbrook himself admits later in this article (in a section I didn't copy and paste), even when the ball crosses the goal line there's still the question of whether or not the carrier was down or had possession at that moment. And that will have to be reviewed. So guess how much time and stress this measure would save? The answer is equivalent to the number of sports journalism jobs I would like Gregg Easterbrook to have as of right now, or yesterday if possible. Now on to the practical questions, which are even more significant.

If swim meets and horse races can be photo-timed to the hundredth of a second, it is ridiculous that the football world has to argue about whether a ball crossed a line.

Worst comparison ever. Absolute worst. I don't need to explain the differences between timing a race and this idea, if you can even call it an idea. There are too many of them.

Some kind of radio chip embedded in footballs, and weighing next to nothing, could surely provide a GPS-like readout on whether the ball touched some kind of electronically projected line in front of the end zone

So where in the ball will you put the chip? Under the laces? But what if only the tip of the ball crosses the goal line plane? I guess you could put a chip on both tips. But what if there's a big dogpile on the goal line (on, say, a QB sneak on 4th and goal from the 1) and only some tiny sliver of the ball located at a random point opposite the laces and in the middle of the ball crosses the plane? So I guess what we can do is cover every ball with tiny microchips so that when any part of it crosses the theoretical electronically projected line, an alarm located in the referee's headset that sounds like crazy bells and whistles goes off. OR, how about this- we just start using a big computer chip instead of a ball. Anyways, please also consider the following potential issues:

1) Regardless of where you put chips, or how many of them you use, players will make a big stink about how the chips make the ball feel/move differently when thrown/kicked
2) Whatever equipment projects the magical electronic line will probably be kicked, rolled into, or otherwise accidentally moved or disturbed by a player or someone else running into it on the sidelines
3) Will this magical projected line be able to sense the ball crossing the plane in the middle of a pile of players?
4) Will the chip never, ever, ever malfunction due to impact or weather?
5) Is this idea likely to be cost efficient? (Answer: FUCK NO)

I could go on all day. This is a horrendous, atrocious idea. Oh, I cut Gregg off before he could finish his last sentence. He was saying that this idea will help us figure out if a ball crossed the plane along the goal line, AND-

and along a field's sidelines.

Hey, dick-for-brains: how many times during the average football game does anyone care whether or not the ball broke the plane of the sideline? The answer, of course, is zero unless there's a fumble rolling towards the sidelines that gets recovered at the last second before it goes out. And even then, you still have the question of whether or not the player had possession. Maybe Gregg thinks every player's shoes should also be coated with microchips, so we can figure out if they stepped out of bounds or not.

Considering the state of miniature electronics, this doesn't seem as if it would be very hard to do. College engineering departments surely would compete for the right to design such a system. The system might prove too expensive for high schools and small colleges, but with all the money involved in the NFL and in football-factory colleges, the price of adding electronic sensing would be small by comparison. So let's insert a chip in the football!

To steal a phrase that was popular when I was about eight years old: let's not, and say we did. Jesus. This is the lead-in to his TMQ column this week. The first thing he wanted readers to see after they arrived at his article. Really? This is the best he can do? What a fucking dolt. Think through your ideas before you put them into writing, please.

The next step should be an artificial-intelligence device that can remember NFL rules! Because the zebras don't seem to know them. Perhaps robots could be built to officiate NFL games, programmed with a rulebook memory that does not fail on national television. Imposing 10-foot-tall robots with perfect memories would command the respect of players. And if the coach of the Giants wanted to challenge a ruling, he would call to the robot referee, who would wear a white carapace, "Gort -- Coughlin barada nikto!"

I may be a blogger, but you are a huge nerd.

In other football news, TMQ has grown accustomed to timid Preposterous Punts by NFL coaches seeking to avoid criticism. I also thought I'd seen it all -- but of course I was wrong. With New Orleans leading Kansas City 27-20 with 10:05 remaining in the game, the Chiefs faced a fourth-and-2 on the Saints' 40-yard line -- and punted!!!!!!! Kansas City had lost 16 of its last 17 games going into Sunday's contest, and, needless to say, now has lost 17 of its last 18. You've failed 16 of the last 17 times, what do you have to lose? Why are you punting???????

I agree. It was stupid for KC to punt in this situation. However, the reason I'm including it in this post is because it's another classic example of one of TMQ's Pillars of Idiocy (TM pending): the idea that anytime a coach does something that's not risky or totally gung-ho, he's doing it because he's a selfish asshole who just wants to minimize the margin of defeat and boost his own resume (yes, by losing). He doesn't care about his players, he doesn't care about the fans, and he certainly isn't making the decision because he thinks (correctly or incorrectly) that it will help his team win the game. Hey, Gregg: you're out of your fucking mind. Herm Edwards is definitely stupid, but I guarantee with 100% certainty that he did not punt on the 4th and 2 with 10 minutes because he was "seeking to avoid criticism." No one- NO ONE- not one single fucking writer or fan with any kind of brain, would have criticized him if he went for it and failed in that situation. NO ONE. And while he may be dumb, he's smart enough to know that.

Further, TMQ notes that although NFL coaches order mincing fraidy-cat punts when there's still a chance of victory, after hope has been lost, then they go for it. Herm Edwards would not try for a first down on fourth-and-short in opposition territory when there was plenty of time left to win the game. Down 30-20 to New Orleans at the two-minute warning and facing a fourth-and-10 in his own territory, Edwards went for it. Likewise, trailing by nine points -- two scores -- with 4:28 remaining, Lions coach Rod Marinelli ordered a punt on fourth-and-4. When the margin was still nine points but the game clock was down to 1:22, when it made no difference what the Lions did, then Marinelli had his charges go for it.

Interesting. He's admitting that there are times when all hope is lost, and it doesn't really matter what a team does. Speaking of that, and speaking of self-contradiction (which we weren't but are now):

Buck-Buck-Brawckkkkkkk: A week ago, St. Louis, trailing 40-0, kicked a field goal -- then did not even have the dignity to onside kick, kicking away. Sunday, trailing by 35-3, St. Louis kicked a field goal -- then did not even have the dignity to onside kick, kicking away. Not even attempting to win is simply unprofessional. Anyone who has purchased a Rams ticket this season should receive a refund.

Hyperbole, anyone? Sheesh, if you're going to hold franchise to that standard, no one should have had to pay to attend a Pittsburgh Pirates game for the past 15 years. Additionally, if there is such a thing as a time when "all hope has been lost" or it "[makes] no difference" what at team does (his words from the previous paragraph regarding punts), I'm pretty sure being down 40-0 and 35-3 fits those descriptions. And don't give me crap about that time Buffalo came back from like 60 points down to beat Houston in that crazy playoff game- those Bills were a playoff team in front of a home crowd. These Rams are, uh, for lack of a better term, bad. And they were the road team in both those games.

Sour Decision of the Week: With the score 13-13 in overtime, Philadelphia faced a fourth-and-1 on its own 22-yard line with 1:30 remaining in the fifth quarter and punted. The end result was the NFL's first sister-kisser in six years. But for the Eagles, wasn't a tie as bad as a loss?

I am almost sure that it will not be. The reasoning for that is a little complex, but it's sound and I'll get to it in a second. First, Gregg, you tell me why you think it's as bad as a loss and I will then tell you why you are wrong and need to go away forever.

Philadelphia, at 5-4-1, is in last place in the NFC East.


TMQ suspects that at the end of the season, that tie will effectively be a loss for the Nesharim. The situation in the NFC East seemed to justify a little risk taking.

F for explanation, F- for analysis. You "suspect" that it will effectively be a loss by season's end. Great. So, now that you're done not thinking, let me tell you what I am thinking.

Here's the NFC playoff picture- the North and West both stink, and will only produce one playoff team each. The Giants are basically in as East champs. Assume the Panthers win the South, as they are currently 8-2 and a game up. So that means the two wild cards come down to the Eagles, the 7-3 Buccaneers, and the 6-4 Redskins, Cowboys, and Falcons. That's five teams going for two spots, and I'd say it's likely that each of the two wild card winners will have at least ten wins. At least two (if not more) of those teams will go 4-2 (or 3-3 in Tampa's case) from here on out. Here's where it gets kind of complicated; this may lead to tiebreaker questions. The tiebreaker that is used when teams going for the wild card end up with the same overall record is record within the conference. A quick check of the standings, however, reveals that the Eagles (at 4-4) have a worse conference record than every other wild card contender except the Cowboys (who are also 4-4).

Stay with me now.

So imagine the Eagles had won this game rather than tied it. They would now have the same record as the Cowboys, Falcons, and Redskins. However, if the season were to end on this hypothetical day, the 7-3 Buccaneers would take one wild card and the 6-4 Redskins would take the other based on their 5-3 conference record. It wouldn't matter whether the Eagles were 6-4 or 5-4-1; their tiebreaker (4-4) wouldn't be good enough anyways.

Keep staying with me.

So now let's go back to reality, in which the Eagles did not win the game. Having a tie on your record basically assures you that you will not end the season with the same record as anyone, and thus will not need to utilize any tiebreakers. But that's OK for the Eagles, because they are worse off than every other contender in the conference in terms of tiebreaker strength. They will now (if they get hot) finish somewhere in the neighborhood of 9-6-1 or 10-5-1. 10-5-1 will get them in the playoffs unless two other teams finish 11-5, which is reasonably unlikely. The Bucs could do it, but I doubt any of the 6-4 teams will go 5-1 down the stretch and do so. 9-6-1, on the other hand, will probably not get the Eagles into the playoffs unless three out of their four competitors fail to get to 10-6, which is pretty unlikely. So that's what we're left with- the Eagles must win five of their final six games to get to the playoffs.

We're getting closer.

Now let me tie it all together by going back to fantasy land. What if the Eagles had won against the Bengals last week? Well, first of all, it's worth noting that beating the Bengals would not improve their conference record. It would still be 4-4, and still be worse than the Redskins', Bucs', and Falcons' conference records. In this case winning five of their final six would get them to 11-5 and an almost certain wild card bid. On the other hand, winning four of their final six (the scenario that puts them at 9-6-1 and almost certainly out of the playoffs in real life) would get them to 10-6. And you know what? Because of that poor conference record, this would still almost definitely still keep them out of the playoffs unless A) only one other wild card contender reaches 10-6, incredibly unlikely, or B) they enhance their tiebreaker by winning all four games against NFC competition and losing both against AFC competition, also incredibly unlikely considering that those four games are against the Cardinals, at Giants, at Redskins, and Cowboys.

Do you see what I'm trying to say? I swear I'm almost done.

Basically, by taking the tie, the Eagles didn't change their playoff chances one bit. A win would have done them basically zero good. However, you know what would have absolutely killed their playoff chances? Going for that 4th down on their own 22, failing, and giving up a field goal and losing the game. That would put them at 5-5, and probably require them to go 6-0 to get to 11-5 and into the playoffs. As things stand they probably "only" need to go 5-1.

OK, I get it, time to wrap up.

This, my patient readers, is why Gregg Easterbrook is a zilcheroo. Now, this whole mini-essay took me about 20 minutes to type and probably took you about two minutes to read through and process. But it only took about 45 seconds to conceptualize. You think Gregg could have spared an extra 45 seconds while writing this week's TMQ, to look at what I looked at in the standings, and say to himself , "Hmmm. Although it wasn't particularly exciting that the Eagles punted in OT, it didn't really do anything to damage their playoff hopes. I probably shouldn't rip them for that." Would that have been so hard? Evidently. Man, I hate this guy.

Donovan McNabb has been ripped by the sports media for admitting after the game that he did not know NFL regular-season contests end after five quarters, unlike postseason contests, which continue until someone wins. Could it be that the Eagles' coaches didn't know this either?

No. It could not be. I would literally bet my own life that the vast majority (if not all) of the Eagles' coaches were aware that NFL regular season games end in ties after 15 minutes of OT. Literally. If someone would take the bet, I would place my own life on the line that this is the case.

Sweet 'N' Sour Results: In Week 10, the key element of Minnesota's victory over Green Bay was Minnesota coach Brad Childress' deciding to go for it on fourth down, challenging his players to win. This week, with the score tied at City of Tampa, Childress went for it on fourth-and-1 -- Adrian Peterson dropped what would have been a touchdown pass. Then trailing by six with 2:29 to play and facing a fourth-and-3 on his own 27-yard line, Childress went for it rather than booming a mincing punt and trying to shift the blame in the postgame news conference. This try didn't work, either -- two sweet decisions with sour results. But suddenly Minnesota has an all-out-to-win attitude, and the football gods are likely to smile on this team down the stretch.

This is similar to the Herm Edwards analysis. I don't disagree that both of these 4th downs were good calls. However, HEY, ASSHOLE: NOT EVERY PUNT IS A REFLECTION OF A COACH'S DESIRE TO SHIFT BLAME AWAY FROM HIMSELF. THAT'S SOMETHING YOU MADE UP. IT'S NOT REAL. JESUS FUCKING CHRIST.

Reader Comments: TMQ regularly claims tenths of seconds are too brief to have meaning in athletics. Reader David Williams of Dunbar, W.Va., writes, "While I agree with your assessment of athletes, coaches and officials, keep in mind that musicians deal with fractional divisions of seconds all the time. Take the Sousa march, the Stars and Stripes Forever -- that march is traditionally played at the speed of 120 beats in a minute, one beat every half second. The thunderous passage for trombones and tubas in the middle of the final section has everyone playing four notes on each beat, one one-eighth of a second each per note. The difficulties are higher for concert artists. I can think of passages in violin concertos that require 12 notes played in one second. So maybe the way to get an accurate assessment of whether an NBA player really can get a shot off in half a second is to have Hilary Hahn or Joshua Bell be the replay official."

I've covered this topic ad nauseum, and given an item I'm going to cover below, it would be hypocritical for me to harp on it too much again. So, a few quick points:

1) It's really sad that he still won't fully admit how obviously wrong he is. There is no commentary from him accompanying this letter: just a word-for-word copy and paste, and he moves onto the next topic. So he's still not really owning up to it.

2) I like that it was a fan of classical and marching band music (stereotypically associated with snobby people, in my opinion) who got his letter published. I bet that if you wrote him a similar letter and talked about some heavy metal song that goes 180 beats a minute, there's no chance it ever makes the column.

"Monday Night Football" Analysis: Phil Dawson of Cleveland had just put the Browns ahead 29-27 with 1:44 remaining on a 56-yard field goal kicked with the gusting wind, and then Buffalo reached first-and-10 on the Cleveland 34 with 1:03 remaining and a timeout. Buffalo was facing into the wind -- the Budgies needed another 15 yards for a realistic field goal opportunity. But ultra-conservative coach Dick "Cheerio, Chaps" Jauron acted like the game was already won, running Marshawn Lynch straight ahead three times. To the surprise of no one except "Cheerio, Chaps," the 47-yard attempt into the wind failed, and Cleveland prevailed.

It was questionable coaching by Jauron; it almost seemed like he was more concerned with running the clock down so Cleveland couldn't score one last time when they got the ball back than with assuring his kicker a better chance to hit the field goal. But I've included this item here because of Gregg's hyperbolic claim that the Bills needed to get inside the Cleveland 20 to have a shot at "a realistic field goal opportunity." It's the NFL, asshole. Pretty much every kicker is very good up to 45 yards or so. Yes, they get better the closer they get, and there was a headwind on Monday night. But it's not like the coaching staff should have felt that there was no "realistic" chance of the kick going through unless it was a 35 yarder. The failed 47 yard attempt that lost this game for Buffalo didn't miss because it came up short. Is this to say that Jauron didn't coach questionably? No. Is it to say that a 35 or 40 yard attempt would have a much better chance at succeeding than a 47 yard attempt? No. Is it to say that I love nitpicking on every stupid little thing Gregg Easterbrook says? Absolutely.

"Friday Night Lights" Update: Once again, the Dillon Panthers won on the final snap, this time a last-play 50-yard touchdown pass. The Panthers are 5-1, yet a character said "The playoffs start next week" -- again the FNL gang has been so obsessed with relationship talk and longing glances that the team has forgotten to play enough games.

You bring this up every fucking week. We get it. The show isn't written with much regard for portraying the scheduling rules of Texas high school football accurately. IT'S NOT A BIG DEAL.

And this brings up the hypocrisy issue I mentioned before, but at least when I bitch about Gregg's inability to understand how fractions of a second work, it's because he has said something dumb about one of many different sports: basketball, swimming, track and field, etc. When he brings up this "OMG they're not playing enough games!" thing, it's the same fucking thing, over and over and over and over and over again. We get it, Gregg. OK?

/Larry B cups hands around mouth to amplify his voice


Criminy on a crutch. This guy... is... the... fucking... worst.

The only good part about this column is that he didn't have a "Wacky Wine of the Week." I really thought that was going to become a regular thing.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Peter King doesn't get it

Peter King opens his mailbag for his Tuesday edition of MMQB here.

On the second page of the story, here, King responds to the question: "Do you think the NFL should adopt the same overtime rules as they have in college? Alternating possessions and then, after the third OT, they have to go for two. Can you imagine if the Jets and Pats would have traded scores a couple of times Thursday night and the excitement it could generate?''

How's the weather out in Iowa today, Brandon? Bet it's chilly.

Glad we've got this out of the way.

I've never been in favor of the college overtime rule for pro football, but I have been a constant advocate of the rule that each team should have one possession, minimum, in overtime.

I think I see where you're going. This seems fine. Let's see how you make your point.

It's ridiculous that a coin flip should have so much bearing on the outcome of a pro football game,

It is a fact that last Thursday night, when the Jets called tails, and the coin came up tails, the game was automatically declared over and the Jets were winners. Wait, you're saying the Jets still had to play the game and score?

and I don't want to hear that the team that won the toss and received the ball to start overtime has won only 54 percent of the overtime games on that first possession in the history of the system.

This statistic is bull shit.

First, if the team that won the toss scored on their first possession 54 percent of the time, there'd be way more uproar.

John Clayton, in 2002, wrote this piece in which he wrote "Since [1974], there have been 330 overtime games. Only 93 games were won by teams who won the coin toss and then scored on their first possession. That's only 28 percent."

Assuming that the percentage of NFL games that go into overtime hasn't changed drastically in the last six years, there'd have been roughly 66 overtime games between the time Clayton wrote his article and today. If every single one of those 66 games were won by teams who won the coin toss and scored on their first possession, that would make 159 out of 396, or, 40%.

Also, I don't know if I trust this completely, but RealClearPolitics (covering sports for some reason) reported that at the end of 2006, the percentage of overtime games that were won on the first possession was 29%.

I wouldn't care if it were 50 percent, or 42 percent. Every game takes on an individual quality, and the fact that you HAND the ball to a team to start a period without the other team being assured it will have an equal chance to score has always been patently unfair.

Each team has an equal chance of winning the coin toss. The team that loses the coin toss apparently gets a chance to win the game 71% of the time, after stopping their opponents on the first possession of overtime.

The proposal I favor has been shot down by the Competition Committee on several occasions.

Certainly not because it's a stupid proposal. They're just anti-Peter King.

The winner of the overtime coin flip would get a possession, and the other team would get a possession, and if one team does not have more points than the other at the end of the two possessions, then the team that scores next wins.

Peter King just suggested, in writing, that the current system is awful because the team that wins the coin toss gets the first shot at breaking the tie and winning the game. Now, he suggests that if both teams ended the first possession of overtime tied, the team that won the coin toss get the first shot at breaking the tie and winning the game.

Each team had 60 minutes to prove they were better than the other. It didn't happen. Another possession for each doesn't make damn bit of difference.

I've heard lots of arguments against it, but most notably that a defense can win a game in overtime by stopping the coin-flip winner on the first possession ...

What? The best argument against your system is that a defense can win the game for a team by stopping the team on their first overtime possession? Did I miss the sentence where you wrote that, under your suggested overtime rules, the loser of the overtime coin toss wins automatically if their defense forces a punt or turnover? Or, am I right in assuming that the team's offense would still have to score?

and that it would needlessly add time to games already destined to be three-and-a-half hours long. Fairness overrides each one of those arguments.

For national writers, the Patriots losing an overtime game without getting the ball once overrides each of these arguments.

I'm Back With a Vengeance, Bitches

Sorry about that hiatus there, folks. No one in the media has seemed to care about baseball lately, and nothing egregious was really written about the few trades that have happened so far. But at least I've got my rock, my main dawg, HatGuy, to lean on.

Sorry, but Ramirez was NL's most valuable


Pujols put up big numbers, but midseason acquisition carried Dodgers

Yes. This does not prove thing (1).

If I had an MVP vote in the National League, I’d have given it to Manny Ramirez.

This is one of the 23409234 reasons you do not have a National League MVP vote.

I don’t know how anyone could have voted differently.

1) Using stats
2) Using logic
3) Eliminating completely from consideration players who only played half a year for their respective team and didn't turn in the absolute greatest half season performance of all time
4) Thinking
5) Drawing names out of a hat, and not drawing Ramirez's name

I say this with full appreciation for the season that Albert Pujols had for the Cardinals

You said it with maybe 26% of "full appreciation" of that.

Albert Pujols is a future Hall-of-Famer, barring some disastrous injury. And he just turned in the absolute best season of his career. But here's the kicker, Mikey.

The 2008 Cardinals won more baseball games than the 2008 Dodgers.

If the Cardinals played in the cupcake-y AL West, you'd be preaching to the motherfucking world how Pujols carried his team to the playoffs. Now you're damning him because of the Chicago Cubs, Milwaukee Brewers, Houston Astros, and Jason Isringhausen.

and with awe for the power numbers of Philadelphia’s Ryan Howard.

Or, you know, the 30 or so other people in the NL who played better than Ryan Howard this year. But yeah...Howard...I guess Howard works.

(I am not exaggerating when I say 30. There is a very real chance that I understated it.)

But Manny put the Dodgers in the playoffs all by himself.

Quite a thing to say about a guy who finished 6th on his team in WARP.

(Actually, interesting factoid -- if you narrow the discussion to Ramirez and Ryan Howard, Manny takes the award if you go by WARP.)

There shouldn’t be an argument.

This is the first thing you've said that made sense. Yet here I am. And here you are.

The legend on the award says “Most Valuable Player.”

Ugh, I thought maybe you didn't know! This is difficult for me to figure out, Mikey! You know there's no question who should win the award, and you know what the award is where....where was this misstep in logic between the correct steps and the correct conclusion? I feel like you're so close....

It doesn’t say “Most Popular Player,”

That's why Pujols won. It was a fucking popularity contest! And Pujols is so popular, that's why no one shut up about how great a season he was having the entire year! Why couldn't people pay some attention to the true greats like Ryan Howard, Josh Hamilton, and K-Rod?

“Thumper of the Year,”

So, you're not taking Ramirez over Pujols for hitting reasons? I hope to God you don't want to talk defense with me.....

“Best All-Around Hitter,”

"Best All-Around Player" would do just fine.....

“Best Season”


The award absolutely means "Best Season." You can argue for centuries about what constitutes having the "Best Season." But the award absofuckinglutely belongs to whoever people believe had the "Best Season." You are a fucking idiot.

or “A Really Nice Guy.”

You know, Sean Casey has been winning way too many MVP awards lately.....

It’s about value to a team’s success; nothing else.

And Pujols was more valuable to what success the Cardinals had than what success the Dodgers had. Period. Take Pujols off the Cardinals, they were never once in the playoff discussion. They lose more wins than the Dodgers would have without Manny, especially considering their outfield logjam (say what you will about Juan Pierre, but he's solid in the "4th outfielder" category.)

In my mind, players for teams that don’t at least contend strongly for the playoffs should never win the MVP. If your team finishes down in the standings, how valuable could you be?

If I think hard enough about this, I'm pretty sure if I took that paragraph as true, I could use it to disprove the most basic fundamentals of logic. Like, maybe that syllogisms were fallacies or something.

Okay, so I can't think of one, but check out this pair.

P1) Putting up a comparatively high OPS is valuable.
P2) Player A put up the highest OPS in the world.
C) Therefore, Player A is valuable.

P1) The same Player A plays for a bad team.
P2) Players who play for bad teams are not valuable.
C) Therefore, Player A is not valuable.

To me, the MVP is the player that a contending team could not have lived without.

Okay, fair. The Dodgers won the division by 2 games. There were 19 players on the Dodgers with a WARP of 2.0 or higher. We're going to have to make many copies of this award!

There’s no question that Pujols is the player the Cardinals can least afford to lose, but St. Louis faded from contention in the NL Central by mid-August.

Because their bullpen was the baseball equivalent of your writing. It was not Pujols's fault, so don't deprive him of the hardware, dude!

They finished third

They finished fourth.


— a position they probably could have attained even without Pujols’ help.

Stop everything. I have no clue what the hell is going on here. There are a few possibilities.

1) HatGuy does not realize that the Houston Astros exist, and there are only 5 teams in the NL Central. He then believes (probably accurately) that without Pujols, the Cardinals still beat out the Reds.

2) HatGuy thinks that the two teams were actually tied for 3rd, and he also believes that without Pujols, the Cardinals would have wound up tied with the Astros anyway (i.e. Pujols is worth zero wins).

3) HatGuy mixed up the Astros and Cardinals while looking at the standings, and thought the Cardinals had the .5 game lead at the end of the year. This means he thinks Pujols was worth between 0 and 0.5 wins.

4) HatGuy wrote this sentence just so picky, angry nerds like myself would have their blood pressure raised and increase their risk of heart failure.

He's going to kill us all.

My God.....

Ryan Howard has a better claim to the award than Pujols.

Please, if I do not go into work tomorrow, please e-mail HatGuy's column to my boss. The first place he will look for me is the mental asylum, I know it.

The Phillies fought to the season’s last day to win, and Howard saved his best for last, carrying the team down the stretch. In any other year, Howard would be my MVP.

Your two favorite MVP candidates were not even one of the five best players on their respective teams.

But Philly has a powerful lineup, and Howard wasn’t the sole reason the team won.

I can't even try to be funny with this.


Besides, there was a better candidate than Howard, Pujols or Brewer Ryan Braun, the third-place finisher.


That is Ramirez


the only player who can be mentioned with Pujols in discussions of who is the greatest active right-handed hitter in the game.

But you...Yankees did you forget.....


Manny played for the Dodgers for just over two months, and some voters doubtless felt that mitigated against his candidacy.

I am still willing to watch baseball next season because of that fact.

But rather than arguing against his candidacy, the brevity of his service should have argued more forcibly for it.

My God.....

(I've had to say that far too many times in this post than is healthy for my emotional stability.)

The fact that Ramirez played only two months (that's 1/3 of the season) in the league in which you want him to be considered the Most Valuable an argument in his favor????

I just tried to think of a superlative form of the word "wrong". All I'm coming up with is FWAP. We'll go with FWAP.

FWAP, Mike Celizic! That is pure FWAP!

The facts are incontrovertible.


Before Manny arrived in L.A., the Dodgers were fighting to play .500 baseball and stay in contention in the game’s worst division. After he arrived, L.A. started playing at a championship level that carried them to the playoffs.

Any player who has a (partially coincidental) positive impact on any team ever should discount anyone anywhere from any sort of any kind of consideration for anything ever.

His stats were absurd: 53 games, 53 RBIs, 17 home runs, 14 doubles, .489 on-base percentage, .396 batting average, .743 slugging percentage.

Those numbers are incredible. Chipper Jones hit .410 through two months. Give him the fucking MVP award.

(Please do not reply with angry comments explaining that Manny's August and September were better than Jones's April and May. I am well aware, and just wish to point out how 2 months can yield really fluky rate stats.....please....PLEASE don't kill me!!!)

If ever one player carried a team to the playoffs, it was Ramirez and the Dodgers. Without him they were a mediocrity. With him, they were division champs.

And....still kind of a mediocrity. They won 84 games in the NL West, which was not the NL Best, if you catch mah da-rift.

I don’t care that he played just two months.

Sentences like this are why you humiliate yourself any time you try to talk about anything.

I do care that he was the reason the Dodgers won. He’s the very definition of an MVP.

I don't want to continue with this. Anyone else notice that he's just saying the same thing over and over again? I'm....I'm actually fresh out of reasons why this guy's wrong! Fresh out!

My God....he wore me out. I thought I could sit here and be sarcastic and angry forever. But I can't! This article is a test of my endurance. I just don't have it!

Unfortunately, too many people think that the MVP should go to the player most responsible for a team’s success

Now there's a lunatic idea.

Haven't you been using this description of MVP to attempt to prove why Manny is the MVP the entire time? Now you're saying it's unfortunate people think like that?

I can't take it anymore. Don't care anymore. GREAT sentence, HatGuy.

— unless somebody has a really phenomenal year for a team that didn’t have much success.

Whatever. Not offensive at all. Don't care that Pujols had a phenomenal year. Let it go. Serenity. Can't let him make me blow a gasket.

Alex Rodriguez once won for being indispensible to the Rangers’ last-place finish, and Ernie Banks once won for distinguished service to another lousy Cubs team.

That's fine. Roll with the punches, logic. Just ride it out. He can't write forever. He'll get sleepy or hungry or something soon. Most likely hungry. For desserts.

The other factor voters consider that they shouldn’t is popularity.

Just....let it go that no one cared that Manny was a dick. Don't worry there Nolesy, hang in there. You don't need to mention that Manny being a jerk was as much a reason for people loving him as hating him by the end of the season.

Give them a chance to punish a guy they don’t like in favor of someone they do, and they’ll take it more often than not. Ted Williams twice lost MVP races to Joe DiMaggio because the voters liked Joe D. better than they liked the Splendid Splinter.

Stuff from the 1940's. Great. Don't worry about it. It''s ok. What people did back then is probably relevant, because baseball thinking hasn't advanced at all (at least I think it hasn't). Nothing can make me angry.

Also, the NL MVP award wasn’t about Boston or anything other than who meant the most to the success of his team. And there’s no question about it. Manny’s your man. The fact that he finished fourth is no discredit to him, but to the voters.

You know, even if I'm probably going to hell for writing on this blog and spending so much of my free time disparaging someone I've never met and has honestly caused me no harm whatsoever, it's comforting knowing that ol' Mikey will be right there beside me. He broke the 8th Commandment at least 400 times in this article, and I'm sure there was some adultery or whatnot thrown in there as well.

Come to think of it.....he also worshipped a false god (Manny), did not honor his mother and father (they'd be embarrassed of having a son that can't read the MLB standings and tell others in what place a team finished), stole people's time, coveted more qualified people's MVP votes, raped logic, murdered reason.....

Well heck, at least you didn't write it on a Sunday, didn't take the Lord's name in vain, nor did you make any reference to coveting a woman (interesting....). 3/10 ain't bad, Mike.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Some baseball writers still don't get it

NL MVP voting was released today. Deservedly, Albert Pujols won the award. Anything else would have been a disgrace. But, the outcome doesn't excuse the writers for what follows henceforth.

NL Cy Young voting:

1st place votes
Lincecum: 23

Webb: 4

Santana: 4

Sabathia: 1

Lidge: 0

NL MVP voting:

1st place votes
Pujols: 18

Howard: 12

Lidge: 2

There were two writers who simultaneously thought Brad Lidge wasn't the best pitcher in the National League this year, while also being the best player in the National League.

Also, go back and look at the NL MVP voting.

In the "Others receiving votes category," as posted by ESPN, we see the #4-27 vote getters.

Others receiving votes: Manny Ramirez, Dodgers, 138; Lance Berkman, Astros, 126; CC Sabathia, Brewers, 121; David Wright, Mets, 115; Brad Lidge, Phillies, 104; Carlos Delgado, Mets, 96; Aramis Ramirez, Cubs, 66; Hanley Ramirez, Marlins, 55; Chipper Jones, Braves, 44; Geovanny Soto, Cubs 41; Johan Santana, Mets, 30; Chase Utley, Phillies, 30; Ryan Ludwick, Cardinals 17; Brandon Webb, Diamondbacks, 14; Adrian Gonzalez, Padres, 13; Matt Holliday, Rockies, 13; Prince Fielder, Brewers, 11; Derrek Lee, Cubs, 10; Carlos Beltran, Mets, 10; Tim Lincecum, Giants, 9; Jose Reyes, Mets, 3; Jose Valverde, Astros, 3; Stephen Drew, Diamondbacks 2; Nate McClouth, Pirates, 1.

Seriously. Chase Utley was insanely valuable this season. Chase Utley went .292 / .380 / .535 this year. He played in every game but three. He played the best defense in baseball at a position up the middle.

Note: I am not suggesting that Utley was the MVP this year. It was clearly Pujols, and the voters got it 100% right. But, to have Utley behind the likes of Carlos Delgado, Aramis Ramirez, Ryan Braun, and Geovany Soto, that should be criminal.

Spell Cranky with Three G's

Homer alert: I was alerted to this blog post by the St. Louis Blues' Forums and it concerns my team. As it has nothing to do with what my team puts on the ice, I feel as though I can approach this unbiased. Which actually means that I'm approaching it with bitterness and hatred. That's what shines through most.

John Grigg is way too pissed off about a marketing gimmick coming right out of St. Louis. But to be fair to him, let's see everything he has to say. Even though he doesn't deserve it.

Yesterday in its daily NHL Today media release, the league giddily announced it had set October attendance records with a per-game average of 17,388 – the first time in history attendance had surpassed 17,000 fans per game during the first month of the season – and a capacity average of 94.1 percent.

And the NHL should giddily announce that people are paying money to watch the sport in this economy. "The Lead" gets more time on the ESPN ticker than hockey does now. The NHL should be very happy.

I’m not going to rail on the league for such pronouncements. Despite the appearance of large sections of empty seats in some arenas, we don’t have any hard evidence to contradict the league’s numbers. In fact, one third-party observer is posting data that supports the NHL’s claim.

Sure, expensive seats may be going unfilled, but those things are sold to companies. And was I ever disappointed with that link joke. Let's start the downward spiral.

But what about the ways teams are trying to put butts in the seats? What are the league’s bottom-dwellers doing to further that cause? Gas and food coupons have appeared in some NHL arenas. And all-you-can-eat sections have popped-up in Atlanta, Boston, Nashville and Phoenix.

For the record, I was in an all-you-can-eat section at a Cardinals game when I was in college and discovered the true use for cargo pants that night. In Nashville - the only all-you-can-eat seats I looked into - it's $55 for an upper bowl seat. That's a little expensive and a little far from the action.

But here’s a new one: The St. Louis Blues – who are seventh in average attendance according to ESPN, but 20th in average capacity and 28th in the standings – will pay your mortgage.

It's because ESPN is using an outdated possible attendance figure to calculate average. Old arena capacity used to be 22,000 and now it's down to 19,150. For some reason, ESPN decided to go with about 21,000 for capacity. And thanks to yesterday's overtime loss, the Blues are now tied for 2nd worst team in the league, and 5 points out of a playoff spot. It's early yet.

Yes that’s right Blues fans, as long as you’re a legal resident of Illinois or Missouri, you can win support payments.

Blackhawks fans are eligible. To break down the offer, one person for every remaining Saturday home game gets mortgage or rent paid for the next four months, up to $1,000. 11 home games left on the Blues schedule means the most the team will have to pay out is $44,000. CNN and TSN have picked up the story, and all five of our news outlets reported it in some fashion. I'm no big city lawyer, but that's $44,000 well spent. But let's see some dope shit all over it.

In what can only be considered a bottom-of-the-barrel ticket-drive scheme, the Blues will draw one ticket during 11 Saturday home games beginning Nov. 29 and pay that person’s mortgage or rent for four months, up to a $4,000 maximum.

Are the Blues really interested in paying up to $4,000 to a person? No. I'm sure they don't care. But why is this a crime against humanity? It's all about ticket sales and the team is all sorts of injured. If this was $4,000 worth of gas, this article would be about fat people in Nashville. They aren't checking to see if they have diabetes, but they're feeding them all they can eat! Put a stop to it!

A novel idea to be sure, but it’s also more than a little insensitive. Whoever decided it would be OK to make light of the dire economic circumstances in the U.S. has some explaining to do to the people really feeling the economic pinch.

You want insensitive? The Blues tried to have an all-you-can-drink section. It lasted all of six hours. Sales of the tickets were started and stopped in the same day. I'm an unemployed blogger with bills to pay, and I think this is a very smart idea. The only person with explaining to do is John Grigg. John, get off your high horse. I'd love to have a job where I can type and get paid. Ideally, I would love to have a job. If somebody is having trouble making ends meet, then odds are they won't come to a hockey game. In fact, they should use that $20 for a ticket and buy groceries with it. Let 11 people get $4,000 and stand off.

It’s not just that the Blues are cashing in on all the ink the sub-prime mortgage crisis has received around the world, they’re doing so shamelessly.

Explain how, exactly. Are they forcefully relocating all Blues fans to Nashville? No, it's a gimmick. It's just like all the Crazy Eddie dressing up like Washington in February to sell used cars.

The promotion itself is called the Fan Bailout Plan – in reference to the controversial $700-billion government economic injection meant to prop up the U.S. economy. And the games are being billed as Fannie & Freddie Mortgage Saturdays – in reference to the U.S. mortgage giants the government took over in September and whose failures are at the heart of the economic crisis.

This is what you've chosen to explain? What the hell? Your readers aren't idiots. They know why the economy is in the shitter. But make every single one of them feel like an elementary school kid by spelling it out. Next week, John Grigg will explain to you why the sky is blue and claim it's insensitive to Red Wings fans.

I, for one, am amazed at the level of insensitivity the Blues are showing. Thousands of American families have lost their homes and the entire world is feeling the effects of the U.S. recession, but the Blues and the NHL seem to think playing off that misery to sell a few extra tickets is a dandy idea.

Also in John Grigg's world, the NHL says yes or no to what a single team decides to do to sell tickets. I still do not see how somebody would look at this and see it as a slap in the face as opposed to a gimmick.

Don’t these guys get it? Don’t they realize such promotions alienate the very people they’re trying to attract. Think about it, if your friend or family member had lost their home, would this promotion make you more or less likely to attend a game? For my part, I’d be more likely to not go to any Blues game with something like this on the go.

Good, then don't come. All you'd do is sit in the stands and bitch the whole time about how people in the upper bowl are segregated from the people in the lower bowl by escalators. If I had a friend lose their place, they would be invited to stay here and then we'd probably go to the game. Maybe they'd win some cash. Probably not. 1/19,150 is pretty bad odds.

When you’re languishing near last overall and not putting enough butts in the seats, maybe any idea seems like a good one.

I think enough butts are in the seats. You said yourself that the Blues are 7th overall in attendance with 18,940. I can look past the fact that ESPN hasn't updated their hockey attendance stats, and that you used that to see they have a poor average. Capacity is 19,150, and diving that by 18,940 is not how you calculate averages. Turn those numbers around, and you'll see the Blues are at 99% capacity. Injuries have hurt the Blues this year a lot and that's why they are where they are in the West.

John Grigg is a copy editor with The Hockey News and a regular contributor to with his blog and the Top 10.

Hey John, I hope you next mortgage check bounces. And by that, I mean that I hope that you don't have enough money in your bank account so that the transaction doesn't go though, which is what is happening to people everywhere in this country.

On a serious note, I do want to know what everybody else around here thinks about this. Am I just not seeing how this is insensitive?