Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Twins are a Utilitarian Commune of Brotherly Love

The Twins have been an unusually successful small-market team over the last eight years or so. Tim Kurkjian speculates: Twins Thrive with Team-First Philosophy. Nice title - carefully employed slant alliteration!

When Twins manager Ron Gardenhire returned to his office after his team's first exhibition of the season Wednesday, he saw a note on his desk from first baseman Justin Morneau. It read: "Gardy, I forgot to do my sprints after the workout today. So I am fining myself $100.''

Gardenhire laughed. "That's entertaining,'' he said.

Then he stopped laughing. "That's leadership,'' he said.

If I had made thirteen and a half million dollars before I turned twenty-eight, I might engage in such largesse. But that's not the point: the point is that Justin Morneau, as a product of the Twins organization, engages in a self-discipline that is uncommon in baseball. OK, I buy it. But seriously - is this due to the Twins' organizational philosophy, or is this due to Justin's parents, or is this due to the fact that he grew up in a country generally recognized for genial-and-friendly-and-generous-to-a-fault persons?

I wonder what would happen if Manny signed with the Twins.

That story tells an awful lot about Morneau, who won the American League MVP award in 2006 and finished in the top five in the MVP voting this past season.

Don't tell that to pnoles.

It also tells a lot about Gardenhire, who is so respected in the Twins' clubhouse that one of the two best players on the team volunteered $100 for forgetting to run sprints.

Like I said, it might also say a lot about Mr. and Mrs. Morneau, or Canada, or anything else that might have had a formative influence on Justin... it's kind of hard to singularly ascribe this to Gardenhire's greatness. I just split an infinitive and let me tell you, as an English teacher, it felt great.

But mostly, it tells a lot about the Twins. They do it the right way, which isn't corny and isn't trite; it's the truth.

They do "it" the right "way". Thanks Tim, for not really specifying what "it" or the "way" really are. I don't really hate this article, I just hate the vagueness of the wayness that the Twins are doubtless practicingness.

And it is the biggest reason they came within one victory of making the playoffs last season despite having lost Torii Hunter to free agency, having had to trade the best pitcher in the game, Johan Santana, to the Mets, and not having their best starting pitcher, Francisco Liriano, for half the season.

That must be the biggest reason. Not any of those players - none of them were the biggest reason. But that's why: the team spirit is what drove them to become more than the sum of their parts! Not just the fact that they got a season of 137 OPS+ production out of their catcher and first baseman! (For contrast, the AL Champion Rays didn't have anyone over 127). And prettygood years outta four starters!

In this era of self-entitlement among players, the Twins have none of that.

Good for them! I bet they don't have ANY of that at all! In fact, I bet that every one of the Twins vote Democratic! You have to do that once you sign!

"It is drilled into them the first day they arrive in pro ball,'' Gardenhire said. "Our coaches and instructors make sure of that.''

I'm glad the Twins' coaches and instructors drill self-entitlement out of all their players. I'm wondering if these enlightened persons in the Twins' organization will consent to share their secrets with the parents of America's teenagers, who are struggling and failing with that very task every day. But that might take away the Twins' competitive edge!

Last spring, veteran pitcher Livan Hernandez joined the Twins.In his first pitcher fielding practice, he was going through the motions, not doing the drill properly, not bringing his glove to his chest and then throwing straight through to the bases, as the Twins teach it.

I wonder what other teams teach pitchers to do. Throw straight around the bases? Bring their gloves to their ears?

Instead, he was flipping the ball submarine style to first base. After the workout, Gardenhire called Hernandez into his office and explained that there were a lot of young, impressionable players in camp and that he needed Hernandez to do things properly because that's how the Twins have always done it.

Amen! Amen! Amen! Say it again, brother Gardenhire!

He also told Hernandez that he would have to no longer wear big earrings.

Now we've gotten to the real problem: men wearing big earrings. People in Minnesota don't tolerate that kind of crap. The 2008 teams that let their players wear big earrings sucked.

The next day, without his earrings, "Livo did the drill better than anyone,'' Gardenhire said.

Eureka! Sports abilities are inextricably tied to the lack of earrings! This explains why girls are bad at sports! Excelsior!

That story explains how the Twins were able to win 88 games last season.

Because their pitchers don't wear earrings!

It explains how they finished 29th in the major leagues in home runs but finished fourth in runs scored. (In contrast, the Reds finished seventh in the major leagues in homers and 23rd in runs).

No, it doesn't. Actually, that story about Livan Hernandez doesn't explain anything about the relative difference between the Twins' and Reds' ability to score runs! Their pitchers' fielding ability has zero influence on their batters' hitting! Here's a stat that might explain the difference: the Reds' OBP was .321 last year, and the Twins' was .340! Wow!

The Twins had the highest batting average (.305) with runners in scoring position last season in part because they practice it every day of the season in batting practice.

Can someone explain how, last season, the Twins hit .305 and the rest of the AL hit .273? Must be that Amazing Batting Practiced Developed and Patented By the Twins' Organization. Except:

The AL team average with RISP, 2007: .276

The Twins' team BA with RISP, 2007: .276

The AL team average with RISP, 2006: .275

The Twins' team BA with RISP, 2006: .295

The AL team average with RISP, 2005: .273

The Twins' team BA with RISP, 2005: .271

Conclusion: Whatever led to the 2008 Twins' outlandish outperforming of the league-average numbers for BA/RISP, it sure as hell isn't some organization-wide philosophy or drill, since in 2007 and 2005 they were pretty much league-average.

Maybe the Twins' hitters have some kind of Bret-Saberhagen syndrome where they can mash with runners on only in even numbered years?

The same thing is done every day on every level of their minor league system.

How do they practice this? Again, this must be one of the Twins' organizational secrets - the secret BA/RISP drill that wins games. Well, somone should sneak into their low-A BP and find out what this amazing drill is. I hope the Reds do it. The Reds suck. They should have a higher BA/RISP.


Doubtless the Twins have their own unique organizational approach to the game - and there's a lot to be said for an organization that has been pretty successful for an eight-year period on a small-market budget. However, don't bother reading Tim Kurkjian's article, because it's a poorly-researched clump of anecdotal evidence that confirms my pre-existing bias that persons from Minnesota are sanctimonious moralists.

Sit on the Business End of a Garden C.L.A.W. While Watching The View

From now on, if I post about Terry Frei, the title will be something that I would rather do than read his whole article. I was actually impressed when his article showed up in the RSS feed this morning, because it was very timely. I think what makes me so upset about him is that he's a national writer that only writes about the world around Avalanche hockey. I thought that maybe his article on was taken from The Denver Post, but it's very different (and can be found here.)

I was surprised to see the headline being about Brodeur's return. I knew he came back last night and had a shutout. I thought maybe this had surprised Terry enough to write an article about it. Then it turns out he shut out the Colorado Avalanche. So let's parade out the different parts of this national story that will piss you off, too.

NEWARK, N.J. -- The situation is not without its potential awkwardness, even if this is Martin Brodeur, the man who until Thursday night was only seven career victories short of both eclipsing and making history.

In their 50 games without him available this season, the Devils went 32-17-1. Scott Clemmensen made the most of his emergency recall, transforming his reputation from an organizational-insurance type to at least provisionally proven commodity as he and Kevin Weekes filled in.

If it eventually became arguable that he came back too soon, or that the Devils would have been better off, at least in the short term, if Brodeur were held out a little longer, it could have been at least slightly embarrassing.

Or worse.

So as Brodeur sat in the Devils' locker room following his 24-save shutout and New Jersey's 4-0 win in his return against the now-woebegone Colorado Avalanche, he didn't blanch when we brought up the issue of pulling his weight.

And at this exact moment all hope I had in Terry Frei's article left. It's going to somehow be about Colorado. Maybe Brodeur loves Denver's airport? Maybe he had something embarrasing happen at McNichol Sports Arena? Because it's not going to be an article about how a goalie came back from injury to shut out a team.

In one historical sense, it was a bit weird, at least with those with very long memories. It was slightly remindful of the night 29 years ago, when the Devils' predecessors, the Colorado Rockies, were what amounted to the Washington Generals, when they were the foils in "Miracle on Ice" hero Jim Craig's NHL debut for the Atlanta Flames on a flag-waving night in the old Omni. The Rockies put little pressure on Craig, and the first shot took forever to come, and it came from roughly Augusta.

On Thursday, another Colorado team minimally tested Brodeur, at least for much of the night. Chris Stewart got the Avalanche's first shot from near Weehawken -- OK, it was near the red line -- six minutes into the first period. This wasn't going to go down as the most heroic of Brodeur's three shutouts in his 11 games this season.

How is the fuck are these two situations related? Never in the history of the game of hockey have two games been so similar as these! It took a while for a team to take a shot and it came from far away! HOW IDENTICAL! If I didn't know any better, I would have thought that the Rockies and Flames were playing each other. I am so glad that Terry Frei has the memory of an elephant so that nobody could give a fuck about that game now as much as they didn't give a fuck about it 29 years ago. I know it's a shocker, but you can make goals happen by dumping in the puck. How about a goal from center ice?

All of that led a cynic (us)

Just you.

wonder if he had picked the Avalanche for his return because of the irony tied to his chase of Roy and the likelihood he wasn't going to have anything near the sharpest game of his life to make a triumphant return.

You know, kind of like walking before you run.

With 100% certainty, Martin Brodeur pulled out a pocket schedule and said "I want to come back against the Avalanche because I'm chasing Patrick Roy! He still plays for them, right?"

"It was just a good game for me to come back, as far as in the schedule," he responded. "As far as chasing the record, every day I'm going to have to deal with it. I'm excited about that, and I just want to get back. What's in my mind right now is getting back in top form for the playoffs. Winning it is what we're in the business to do, and hopefully, we'll get it done."

So the answer is no.

Once the record business is taken care of, and most likely it will happen in this stretch run, it will be on to the postseason for the Devils, again hoping to capture more of the spotlight in the area either one or two stops on the New Jersey Transit train -- depending on whether it's an express run -- from Madison Square Garden and Manhattan's Penn Station.

That will be a challenge. The Madison Square Garden Rangers just fired their head coach and sit a comfortable 2 points ahead of not being in the playoffs. I'm not too sure what Manhattan is doing here... the Islanders play about 40 minutes due east of Manhattan. They're also in dead last in the league.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Attention Sportswriters: Don't try to be funny

Maybe we're not particularly good at being funny (hey! We're nothing if not self-aware!) but you know who's really really bad at being funny? Sportswriters. Specifically, Don Banks:

If you didn't come away from Indy convinced that Wake Forest linebacker Aaron Curry is a legitimate contender for the No. 1-overall pick, you weren't paying attention whatsoever. In fact, Everybody Loves Aaron could be the name of a new CBS sitcom any day now.


Cartoonist offers subtle jab, overt hilarity

Okay, let me try to explain the brilliant nuance behind this cartoon for some of our slower readers (Chris W, I'm looking in your direction):

You see, A-Rod is now even more hated than he was last year due to his recent admission of steroid use. "But Jack, why in the cartoon does A-Rod still has plenty of zealous fans, despite being exposed as a lying cheater?" you ask. It's quite simple, look closely at those "A-Rod fans." What common themes do we notice?

They're all ripped; the men wear skin tight shirts (some without sleaves), and the women wear bikinis highlighting their androgenous physique.

So if A-Rod is hated by almost all fans, but still has a large following among muscular, image conscious men, and huge women, then we must conclude that A-Rod's only fans are:

Gays and women who are more masculine than A-Rod himself! And no one wants those social pariahs as fans! Get it!? Hysterical!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Rick Reilly Makes Me Chuckle

But not in the way he makes clueless baby boomers chuckle. He's written an article about retroactively re-awarding MVP trophies to guys who initially lost out to steroid users, but are ostensibly the "real" and deserving winners for not cheating. Amidst the predictably lame pop culture references and plays on words that usually come with a piece of Laffy Taffy (Oops... is that a pop culture reference on my part? How ironic), we have this gem:

And here's yours from 2001, Luis Gonzalez, after you finished behind The Barry Bonds Pharmacy. We won't even mention the home run title you would've won that year.

Dude- really? I know, I know. Innocent until proven guilty and all that. But if there is anyone, and I mean anyone, who has yet to be officially connected to steroids but who I am 99.9% certain was a steroid user... it would have to be Gonzalez.

Before his age 30 season: about 3800 plate appearances, 84 home runs. Home run season totals for subsequent years, which just so happen to encompass what most people would consider the height of the steroid era: 23, 26, 31, 57 (in his age 33 season!), 28, 26. Those seasons together encompassed roughly another 3800 PAs. So let's get this straight- ages 22-29: a home run every 45 plate appearances. Agest 30-35, when everyone and their mom was on the juice: a home run every 19 plate appearances. What are the statistical odds of that happening without performance enhancers? What are the odds of a guy, playing right at the (presumed) height of steroid use, coincidentally discovering the power it takes to hit 57 home runs at age 33 when he had previously hit 13 in 500+ PAs during his age 27 season?

As Rick Reilly might say, poor- about as poor as that mother of octuplets is going to be when she has to put those kids through college! Or maybe slim- about as slim as Britney Spears is looking these days! Or maybe terrible- about as terrible as the economy is doing!

Etc., etc.

If you're about to leave a comment pointing out that lots of people used to subscribe to SI just to read Reilly's articles, cram it. He stinks.

Jay Mariotti: Still a colossal fuck face

With the past week or so's events, it's pretty obvious whose picture would lead Mariotti's new column about steroids, right?

Isn't it laughable how everyone has an opinion now?

The only thing that's laughable is that you lead a steroids column with Ozzie Guillen, you pathetic fuck.

For years, baseball people were hush about steroids, protecting their dirty little secret as if the masses were morons when, in fact, a lot of these men are the uneducated rockheads.

If any one treats the American masses like morons, it's you and any one else who's ever participated in ATH.

One such creature is
Ozzie Guillen, manager of Barack Obama's Chicago White Sox,

"Barrack Obama's Chicago White Sox:" totally relevant to the conversation. Say, did you know Will Ferrel is a USC fan? Too bad OJ Simpson went and tarnished Ferrel's name by killing two people.

who went mob boss on us in 2006 when pitcher Jason Grimsley served as a steroids informant in a federal investigation.

Yeah, this whole time it was Ozzie acting alone to cover up steroid usage in Major League Baseball. Just him...and the entire fucking players union.

Go rape yourself, Mariotti.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Bert Byleven, Make the Hall of Fame and then SHUT THE HELL UP

With the usual apologies to reader's time for some Halo-bashing. Although it's not really "bashing". Let's call it "accurately-assessing-that-mediocrity-of-a-team-in-a-way-that-no-one-paid-to-write-about-baseball-seems-to-be-able-to"

Despite departures, Angels will win AL

I demand to know right now. What the fuck is the obsession that the media has with this team? It's like Eckstein never left!

The Angels won 100 games last season, but over the winter they lost Mark Teixeira, Francisco Rodriguez, Jon Garland and Garret Anderson.

They watched Hunter and Guerrero slide further down the path of "old". They inexplicably gave Juan Rivera another job, and instead of hiring a first baseman, they gave the job to a wedge of cheese.

They did add Brian Fuentes and Bobby Abreu, and they remain not only the class of the AL West, but also my pick to make it to the World Series.

There are at least eleventy-five better choices to win to the World Series. They are jusssssssssst barely better than the Oakland Athletics.

Under manager Mike Scioscia, the Angels are so fundamentally sound, and that leads to victories.

Hit that cutoff man! Tag up on a fly ball! Keep playing that mediocre defense!

They are division favorites because even with the departure of Teixeira, they will win with solid pitching, dependable fielding and a productive enough offense.

"Solid"...."dependable"...."productive enough". Gee Bert, don't get too excited about these guys!

Abreu in left field makes their lineup look even better.

"Even better". Wow Bert, "even better" than 10th in the AL? That's amazing! Oh, and did I mention that you just swapped out Teixeira for Abreu and claimed that the lineup got BETTER? You fucking serious?

Offensively, they are a very solid club,

WRONG! And just a couple paragraphs up, I thought they were "productive enough." Now they're "very solid"? Did they acquire Manny Ramirez between the time you wrote those two paragraphs?

especially in the middle of the order, with Scioscia most likely hitting Abreu second, Vladimir Guerrero third and Torii Hunter fourth.

How is this remotely considered GOOD? This is EASILY in the lower half of the league as far as "heart of the order" is concerned. Probably bottom 10.

Their starting rotation is impressive, especially the top three.

I would agree.

Ervin Santana is growing in wisdom as a pitcher,

That's a fun way to describe a 26-year old.

Jered Weaver is the fourth starter,

Naming a pitcher and not saying anything else about him is a great argumentative tactic.

and Dustin Moseley appears to have the leg up on a wide-open battle for the fifth spot.

Blyleven: Ahem...yes...that appears to be what this depth chart I'm reading names off of says. I'm just going to keep making nondescript shit up about each one as we go.

Fuentes is not K-Rod,

He's just as good.

but he has 30 or more saves in three of his past four seasons in Colorado.

And might have saved 63 if he played for the Angels last year.

There are other AL teams being more highly touted,

The better ones.

but sometimes as a former player, your gut just tells you good fortune is going to shine on a certain team in a certain season.


Seriously Blyleven, go to Vegas. I wasn't aware pitching in the MLB gave you a supernatural ability to determine what teams would get lucky in a given season.

You know, I kind of like the Atlanta Braves this year....because....because I just think they'll get lucky! That's why!

Even though the Yankees spent $423 million this offseason on free agents CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira and A.J. Burnett, the Red Sox, who made some low-risk moves that could yield high rewards, will win the AL East.

The Red Sox starting rotation is a big plus. And it’s not just Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Tim Wakefield. The free-agent signings of Brad Penny (one year, $5 million), and John Smoltz (one year, $5.5 million, with a possible added $5 million in performance bonuses) could be huge positives.

Let's see, that's 6 starters, plus Clay Buchholz.....hey Bert, how many guys get to be in a starting rotation?

Even without Manny Ramirez, the Red Sox have plenty of offense in Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz, Kevin Youkilis, Mike Lowell, J.D. Drew, Jason Bay and Jacoby Ellsbury. As long as they stay healthy, they have a lot of ways to protect Ortiz in their lineup in the post-Ramirez era.

Protect....David Ortiz? What year is it again? 2006?

The Yankees will have to settle for the wild card. Their rotation begins with Sabathia. It also has Burnett, Chien-Ming Wang, Joba Chamberlain and Andy Pettitte.

Again, really a great way to inform me about the quality of the Yankees' pitching staff! By the way, are the Rays just irrelevant or.....

Chamberlain is penciled in at No. 4. This is a move I disagree with. Chamberlain should stay in the role he has excelled in, and that is the setup man to closer Mariano Rivera. That’s Chamberlain’s greatest value to the team.

And perhaps they should plug his spot in the rotation with like....Jaret Wright (didn't that work out well that one time?). Or maybe a live donkey.

With Chamberlain starting, the question of whether the Yankees have enough reliable arms out of the bullpen to get games to Rivera becomes even greater.

You see getting to Rivera is really only important if you have the lead to begin with, and that begins with a quality starti-....oh you're not done. Sorry. So sorry.

And what about Rivera? He turned 39 on Nov. 29, and he’s coming off surgery in early October on his right shoulder. Will he be the same dominating closer as he has been in the past?

Well he was the best closer in baseball last year, if that's any indication.....

The Rays will find it too difficult to again finish ahead of the Red Sox and Yankees simply because seasons like the magical one they enjoyed in 2008 are hard to repeat.

And there you have it folks. Give Bert his paycheck. He's done his job.

It was all magic. Not the fact that they had (and still do have) the best pitching in baseball. Magic. Abra-cadabreraweablabala.

Lean toward the Twins to capture the AL Central mainly because of their impressive young pitching staff. But this division race should be an extremely interesting one with the potential of all five teams being in the mix.

Name 3 players on the Kansas City Royals before saying that. No...wait...don't just name them. I know by now that you're very good at that.

The Twins are a solid club, but they need more depth off the bench and more power.

This is the nicest thing I've ever said about Carlos Gomez, but the Twins have 4 outfielders capable of carrying a starting job. They also have Brendan Harris, who has to be one of the best bench bats you can find, and probably one of the best backup catchers in baseball in Mike Redmond. I don't understand where you got the idea that this bench needed to get any better.

I can't end on wasn't funny.


Thursday, February 19, 2009

A-Rod + Contrived Brett Favre Analogy = Ray Rotto's Newest Column

A-Rod reaching Favre Syndrome all because he didn't go the distance

An article comparing A-Rod to Favre you say? Doesn't sound like much of a stretch at all.

The Alex Rodriguez perp walk came and went without incident, a well-controlled 35-minute goat-rope that advanced his newly developed image as America's Penitent.

His next hurdle, though, is not whether he can convince the Sincerity Police, or whether he can make his teammates overcome their already well-established reservations toward him, or whether he can still satisfy the fantasy geektroids.

"Sincerity police" and "Fantasy Geektroids." I'm sure there were literally thousands of people wondering if A-Rod had won those two demographics back.

It's whether he can keep us from becoming sick to death of the sight, sound and mention of him.

Which, I'm sure, worries A-Rod a lot because he's always tried to be an omnipresent figure in sports.

Not disgusted; that's another issue entirely, and one you'll have to deal with yourselves. No, we're talking about what is rapidly becoming known as Favre Syndrome -- the reflexive revulsion of the sound of someone's name, voice or presence, or the introduction of same by another party.

I agree about Favre, but what exactly does that have to do with A-Rod?

Rodriguez is about there now, and he is about to get full-blown Favre because he didn't finish the job he has tried to tackle in the past two weeks. He left openings for people to flog his name into a flat gray paste, to the point where his name, like Favre's or LeBron James' or Terrell Owens, will come up on every slow news day, just because.

- Lebron James gets attention because he's arguably the best basketball player ever.
- A-Rod gets attention because not only is he likely to finish as the statistical leader in every major hitting category, but he's also the highest paid baseball player ever.
- Terrell Owens gets attention because he's a great wide receiver...and he's an insane attention hound.
- Brett Favre has been a mediocre QB for 4 of the past 5 years who has gotten tons of attention because of his ridiculously annoying, self-agrandizing retirement antics and the fact that "journalists" like Peter King will not remove themselves from Favre's nuts

A lot of this is determined by the 24/7 news cycle, but a lot more is determined by one of the most pernicious elements of the 24/7 -- the almost junkie-like reliance on a few big names discussed over and over and over again whether or not they've actually done something in the last day or two to merit that discussion.

This is A-Rod's fault how?

I mean, Favre has done nothing whatsoever in the last two weeks except say he isn't playing any more, and yet he is still being media-flogged to the point of national nausea.

Let me throw out a wild guess as to why this is? It's crazy; I know, but bear with me:


And now, with Rodriguez's latest choreographed mea maxima culpa, Rodriguez is there, too. You hear his name, and you try to duck your head inside your jacket, and it will get worse as the new holes in his story are passed and crowbarred apart.


A-Rod sits in chair watching Brett Favre footage on ESPN.

A-Rod: Fuck, this Brett Favre guy is stealing all the time ESPN would normally devote to questioning whether or not I have the testicular fortitude to ever win a World Series. How can I get the spotlight on me?

ESPN switches over to a story about Barry Bonds. A-Rod stands up.

A-Rod: By Palmeiro's mustache, that's it. If I admit to taking steroids and then act very coy about the details, the media will go back to raking me over the coals like they have for the past 7 years! Excelsior!

For instance, he has seized on the "I was young and stupid" angle as his ticket out, and we will hear that over and over again in the coming months. We suspect he is trying too hard to give himself the benefit of the doubt here by calling himself an idiot, but the more he says it, the less convincing he will be.

No matter what A-Rod said, he was going to get ripped on for it. Even if he had declared that he did it so he could hit the most homeruns ever, and get to sleep with the most women ever, there would've been people on talk radio complaining:


It's great excuse when you're 10, but 10-year-olds never talk about how young and stupid they are. By the time you're 24, you don't get to haul that one out any more. But he will, largely because he thinks it's better than the alternative, which is "I was young, I did what everyone else did, and I wanted to be better than me." True that is idiocy, but it's also cynicism and condescension. And Rodriguez isn't good enough at either to make it seem like anything else.

1. Everyone's jumped all over A-Rod for saying he was young and stupid at the age of 24, which I think is moronic. He'd been in the MLB since age 18 and had been surrounded by guys doing steroids the whole time with no consequences. Does any one honestly expect him to have had the perspective to be like "Yeah everyone else is benefiting from steroids, but I shouldn't because they'll one day crack down on it, even though there's nothing to suggest that they ever will."

2. Not that it excuses A-Rod for his actions, but Giambi and Pettitte got off way easier for no good reason. Giambi never admitted to anything. Pettitte said he tried PED's once and "didn't like them." Anyone who's ever used any weight training supplement (legal or illegal) knows that you won't see the effect of anything until weeks of use, so Pettitte's story is complete bullshit, but no one cared at all.

But that's only part of the syndrome. The other part is how often we keep hearing about his spring training, down to the last fast-muscle twitch. And we will, because today's news conference left more questions behind because it was managed.

There's clearly nothing A-Rod wanted more than to be hounded by the media for the rest of 2009.

He might have saved himself if he had taken follow-ups, if he had answered every question no matter how trivial or dull-witted, and stayed there for as many hours as it took.

If you honestly believe this, then you're fucking stupid.

Why? Two reasons. One, if you're trying to throw yourself on the mercy of the court, you have to stay for as long as the court wants you. Two, if you want there to be no more questions, answer all of them at the time, or pay the price for deferred maintenance.

And what happens when he says he doesn't have an answer for questions like "exactly how many times did you use it?" "did it affect how many home runs you hit that year?" etc. The reporters say "nothing new here, let's go cover the NHL!"

Conversely, the best way to keep your name in the news well beyond its shelf-life is to limit your availability. Beating the media means giving the media more than it can eat at one sitting, and yes, there really is such a thing.

Just ask TO about how demanding attention from the media is the worst way to get it.

He didn't, because he either didn't want to or because he was advised not to. He thought 35 minutes was enough treatment for Favre Syndrome, and it isn't nearly enough. And now it may be too late.

Brett Favre : A-Rod :: Ray Rotto : Good sports journalism

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

One of These Things is Not Like the Others

ESPN is paying Rick Reilly a kajillion dollars a year and he's receiving those paychecks in exchange for writing garbage like this. So I guess they've subsequently decided they're going to be sure they get their money's worth, and have invited him to start doing spots on SportsCenter. (I'm actually of the opinion that he's slightly better in person than he is in print. Not that he's unterrible in either medium, but I'm just saying I'd rather listen to him than read him.) He's currently narrating and appearing in their "Mount Rushmores of Sports" thing. Earlier tonight, in describing California's choice to include Magic Johnson, he had this to say:

He has always defied convention. A 6'9" point guard! A set-shot shooter! A 13 year veteran who celebrated and hugged like a rookie! And a guy who contracted HIV eighteen years ago, (emphasis his) but has never looked healthier!

Ooooooooooh. I don't want to be Debbie Downer, but... I'm not sure about that sequence.

Put into different words: He had an incredibly unique skillset for a guy his size! He scored from everywhere despite being averse to the jump shot! He was extremely exuberant and let his emotions show when his team succeeded! And to top it all off, he contracted one of the world's deadliest diseases, but has enough money to pay for treatments which have so far prevented it from killing him or even affecting his public appearance! What an athlete!

Thanks, Rick. You know, Jamal Lewis is one of the best NFL running backs of his generation! And he has continued his career with moderate success after serving time in prison on drug-related charges!


Monday, February 16, 2009

Good Old Fashioned Moral Values

Albert Pujols recently provided the following comments when asked for his thoughts on performance-enhancing drugs in baseball:

"I always say, [with] people saying things about me and think I'm doing crazy things, whatever is in the dark is going to come in the light," he said.
"I'm a big believer of that. It's in the Bible. I can fool all you guys but if I'm hiding something it's going to come to the light. That's it. God will show that. I told you guys already, I fear God too much for me to do any stupid things in this game. Not all the people think like that, and that's what's so sad."

Awesome. He fears God too much to do steroids. If only more baseball players feared God more, we wouldn't have this problem.

It's in the Bible.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Tim McCarver Has Been a Complete Fucking Moron for at Least Fifteen Years

ESPN Classic was showing game 6 of the 1993 World Series (the Joe Carter game) earlier today. Our main man Timmy was in the booth. Now, when I first recognized that velvety tone, I thought to myself "Maybe he wasn't so stupid back then. This could even be enjoyable." Turns out... not so much. A couple choice pieces of dumbfuckery he managed to spew in the hour I watched:

Most people think "PM" is an abbreviation for "prime minister." But Paul Molitor (who had just hit a home run) is changing that, at least here in Canada.

1. A brief Google search reveals Molitor's nickname was "the Ignitor."
2. You can't just say that when someone does something cool, their initials replace a pre-existing abbreviation that is part of common knowledge.
3. Thanks for specifying that Americans probably don't think "prime minister" when they hear "PM."

During the climactic bottom of the 9th, after Rickey Henderson leads off the inning with a walk:

It is said that television is a visual medium. But that's not the case tonight in Philadelphia, because no one is watching.

Did he mean that no one was watching because they were covering their eyes, or because they had turned off their TVs? Either way, what a fucking dunce. This guy is still paid (presumably) huge sums of money to announce baseball games- and he was saying this kind of shit back in the early 90s. Imagine how much worse his brain works now as compared to then.

The sports media world is obviously not a meritocracy.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

IN THE YEAR 2000: Jemele Hill will still be employed as a writer for some unknown reason

Would Phelps have apologists if he was black?

Perspective should never influence punishment.

Except when you say that it should.

Too often in our society, we practice selective perspective. We're willing to see all the angles only when it suits us. When perspective becomes inconvenient, we can be unflinching, even cruel.

Or we can we can be empathetic.

I'm not suggesting Michael Phelps' being photographed sucking on a bong is high treason. But it's not jaywalking, either.

You're right, smoking pot should be less of a crime than jaywalking. You know this; I know this; everyone who's ever tried weed knows this.

Should Phelps be stripped of his medals?

No. What sort of fucktard would even consider that?

Only someone who hit the bong with Phelps would believe that.

No. "Becoming a brain dead retard" is not a symptom of marijuana usage. At least not in the short term! Buh-zing.

But does he deserve harsh criticism? Absolutely.

Yes, we need harsh criticism because the guy did something that ~20% of Americans did the same weekend. Boo this man!

He has shown an incredible lack of responsibility. This is the second time Phelps has exercised alarmingly poor judgment. The first, of course, being when he received a DUI in 2004 as a 19-year-old and served an 18-month probation term.

Show me an 18-19 year old male who claims to have never done anything that level of stupid, and I'll show you a liar.

But that doesn't mean USA Swimming's decision to suspend Phelps from competition for three months doesn't ring hollow. The governing body's statement explaining Phelps' suspension was rife with hypocrisy. It read:

"This is not a situation where any anti-doping rule was violated, but we decided to send a strong message to Michael because he disappointed so many people, particularly the hundreds of thousands of USA Swimming member kids who look up to him as a role model and a hero. Michael has voluntarily accepted this reprimand and has committed to earn back our trust."

Let's be clear: USA Swimming acted out of embarrassment, and because more than a few people have wondered whether Phelps, who also lost an endorsement deal with Kellogg's, was getting a free pass.

So your beef is that Michael Phelps isn't being punished hard enough, but even though USA Swimming suspended him (when they didn't have to), it wasn't enough because of the way they worded it? Get fucked, Jemele.

I'm wondering why USA Swimming didn't seem to care about the type of person Phelps was after his DUI. That crime was far more egregious. Phelps not only endangered his own life, but the lives of others.

Why no outrage then?

Could have to do with the fact that he was far less of a celebrity then, or the fact that the public doesn't really give 2 shits about athletes (white or black) who get DUI's.

I understand why Phelps sympathizers have argued that his mistake represents only the growing pains of youth and that it was "only weed."

The thing is though, it is ONLY WEED, a substance that's far less harmful than tobacco or alcohol.

In 2002, Rasheed Wallace was given a misdemeanor citation for marijuana possession. The charge against Wallace -- who was 28 at the time -- was eventually dropped after he completed community service, and drug and alcohol counseling.

Boy did 'Sheed ever get crucified for that one? It was such a shame how he lost all those endorsements that he had. The thing that burns me up is that people still bring it up all the NEVER.

But no way would the Portland paper have ever written an editorial as glowing as the one that appeared in The Baltimore Sun, Phelps' hometown newspaper.

It wasn't glowing. It was merely pointing out the inanity of people flipping a shit because Phelps had a bong rip at a party. This is the biggest non-story of all time.

When Josh Howard admitted he and many other NBA players use marijuana, I don't recall seeing a single column like this one on

I admit the outrage over Josh Howard's comments was idiotic, but he said, in a public forum that he smoked weed all the time. What did he expect was going to happen? Phelps on the other hand thought he was doing something (that shouldn't be a crime) in private where he couldn't influence kids into making the same "mistake" as him.

Look, what Phelps did was stupid, but not unforgivable. The fact that police in South Carolina want to pursue criminal charges against him is a waste of time and resources.

So you think Phelps should be punished the same way 'Sheed was, but you think it'd be a waste or resources for the police to do so. That's fucking brilliant!

President Barack Obama, former President Bill Clinton and even Dawn Wells, the actress who played Mary Ann on "Gilligan's Island," have smoked weed before. Studies show that nearly half of you reading this column have tried marijuana at least once.

I just wish that same perspective was used when Steelers wide receiver Santonio Holmes was busted for marijuana possession.

The Santonio Holmes marijuana possession thing was easily the most annoying story line that was barely mentioned at all during the 2 week Superbowl period.

Am I turning this into an issue of race?

No, because it's been about race since the beginning of the article.

While Holmes will have to appear at a hearing on his marijuana charge later this month, he's a Super Bowl hero now. Wallace never has to worry about sponsors hounding him, but he's made millions in the NBA. Mayo's marijuana incident, which was eventually dismissed, didn't hinder him from becoming a dazzling NBA rookie. It's also fair to say Ricky Williams, a once-devoted pot user, received more criticism for bailing on the Dolphins than smoking weed.

So in laymen's terms: "I spent this whole article arguing that Michael Phelps would get different treatment if he were black, and now I'm admitting that the black athletes, who I claimed were wronged, got off with little more than a slap on the wrist, at worst. Ergo, I've rendered the whole argument moot."

An absolutely classic example of Jemele Hill building an argument up, and then torpedoing it in the final paragraphs.

But I'm proposing a wild idea: Let's try to employ perspective with every athlete. Let's not treat Barry Bonds like the worst cheater ever to inhale oxygen, when it appears that arguably the greatest pitcher and the greatest all-around player have used performance-enhancing drugs.

Yes, Roger Clemens got off totally scott-free from the whole steroids thing, and it's hard to imagine a non-white guy, whose popularity is as astronomical as A-Rod's, suffering much from being caught using steroids.

If you believe Phelps is just behaving like "a kid," then Carmelo Anthony -- who pleaded guilty to driving while impaired last June as a 24-year-old -- shouldn't be stereotyped as a troubled thug.

'Melo gets the reputation for being a thug because he was on the Stop Snitchin' DVD. If it gets any more thuggish than telling kids not to report crimes to the police, lest they be beaten/murdered, please let me know.

Likewise, Phelps' shouldn't be more harshly judged now just because black athletes weren't given the benefit of the doubt.

Perspective, after all, is for everyone.

So what you're saying is: Phelps shouldn't be punished for his non-crime, except that he should.

I'll have what she's smoking. (TOPICAL!)

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Jayson Stark's Weird Take on the 1998 Home Run Chase

Stark is a pretty legit baseball mind/writer. It's rare he appears on FireJay (although I did enjoy writing this unfunny post about him way back in the blog's infancy). But I think I have to call him out for one part of this A-Rod article. What he says is so strange that it sticks out like a sore thumb and serves as a glaring distraction from his point.

At times like this, I always tell the story of what it was like to follow Mark McGwire around in September 1998. I saw this man hit 17 of his 70 home runs that season. I saw records topple. I saw powerful numbers rise and fall.

But more than that, I measured the feat I was watching by who else showed up to catch the show. And by that I mean Bruce Springsteen. And Bruce Hornsby. And Barbara Walters. And MTV. And "Good Morning America." And many, many others just like them.

Springsteen- a pretty legit inclusion. Everyone else on that list- what? Hornsby had peaked in relevance about ten years earlier. Walters was more relevant then than she is now, but still. MTV? Who gives a fuck about MTV in the context of sports? Unless they're throwing a rock n' jock celebrity softball game, I sure as hell don't. I have no idea how you could possibly gain access to lists of people who attended baseball games more than ten years ago, but if you could, I bet a five minute scan of it from Cubs and Cardinals games played the fall of 1998 would yield at least ten more relevant names than Bruce Hornsby or Barbara Walters.

I guess Stark probably made this list based off of celebrities/networks/shows he actually interacted with that fall rather than just celebrities/networks/shows he heard were in attendance. Still really hurts his article, in my opinion. "A-Rod... steroids... tainted records... holy shit, did you know Bruce Hornsby was there when Sosa hit his 64th home run in 1998? That's when you know your sport is getting big: when Hornsby starts watching."

Bruce Hornsby. What the fuck?

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Reader Participation: A-Rod Roids. What Do You Think?

So this one took me by more than a little by surprise. A-Rod has tested positive for steroids at least once, according to a source whose validity has not seemed to be called into question.

What do you think? This is a complicated issue, I think. Since we all assumed that the 90's and early 00's were tainted by steroid use, on the one hand this isn't a shocker. But on the other hand, I think we generally cast a narrow net and only widen it as evidence became impossible to ignore.

I kind of turned up my nose at those who cried from mountain high (usually columnists like Jay Mariotti and other sanctimonious types) that "we can't assume anyone is claen."

Now, this still doesn't excuse not voting for Tony Gwynn. This still doesn't excuse impugning the likes of Griffey and Frank Thomas--guys who almost certainly never roided. A-Rod was a power hitter--the kind of guy whose athletic frame seemed to belie the kind of power AND speed he was simultaneously capable of.

And still I'd never really thought, even with Canseco's accusations, that he was a roider. Didn't rule it out, but didn't really think it likely. Well, here it is. What do you all make of this?

Does it not really affect your view of baseball? Did you already think A-Rod was a user? Do you not care one way or another who uses steroids? Do you think this affects only your view of A-Rod and not other power hitters of his time period? Anything.

This is important (I think). Might as well shoot the shit about it.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Rick Reilly: Now wasting his time in addition to yours

Rick Reilly is an award winning journalist who is paid over $1 million a year. His column appears ONCE A WEEK.

I used to think the worst jobs in sports were: (1) Thong wrangler for John Daly.

But being a thong wrangler for Phil Mickelson wouldn't be a SHIT job!? Get it? Thong...SHIT job.

(2) Mark McGwire's injector.

Second thing having to do with touching someone's butt. Is (3) going to be "NFL Quarterback ewwwwwww!"

(3) Detroit Lion.

Low paying job that every football fan is glad they don't have.....uncheck

These are the folks who come running out just before the halftime concert yelling like they just won the Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes, even though the band isn't even on stage yet.

Let me give you some advice: Don't. Be. One.

You know how sometimes you have an idea you think will be hilarious and clever, but it ends up worse than being trapped under Kevin James in a Finnish sauna?

Kevin James is fat! And he's in a successful movie that's out now! Double-Win!

"You'll be 10 feet from Bruce Springsteen!" I said to myself. "You'll find out who all those people are we see every year! The game's going to be a blowout anyway. What'll you miss?"

1. What sports journalist watches the Superbowl and walks away with the lingering question "But who were those people on the field during the concert!?"

2. Nothing says ESPNation like the assumption that the Steelers would steam roll the Cardinals.

3. If you spend time wondering about who the people at Superbowl concerts are, you don't have the right to complain about missing anything related to football.

Turns out these "fans" are real people—almost 2,000 of them.

Real people you say? Thank god someone cleared this up.

They're local teachers, nurses and students willing to rehearse for two 10-hour days and then show up at noon for a 6 p.m. football game, of which they'll get to see none of.

Once again, if you're willing to go through all this shit just to be near Bruce Springstein, then you really have no room to complain about missing any of the Superbowl.

Reilly goes on to complain about other shit, like how people further back could hear way better than the people up close. That's never happened before! Stop the presses!

Let me ask though, if you're ESPN's star reporter, and this is your first Superbowl with the company, what in the fucking hell are you doing writing your Superbowl story about the people involved in the one non-football event of the Superbowl? I know, Rick Reilly writes about human emotions blah blah, but for fuck's sake at least involve an athlete in the story in some way. Oh and did I mention he gets paid 7 figures to write one column a week? Unbelievable.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

WMTMQR: Gregg Easterbrook Should be Strapped to a Rocket and Blasted into Deep Space

Well, well, well. Look who has a bunch of bullshit and garbage to say about the Super Bowl.

Also, in the spirit of my occasional recommendation of funny non-sports blogs such as Marmaduke Explained (even though that guy is obviously a self-worshipping douche) and Garfiend Minus Garfield, I'd like to present You Will Not Be Dating Me. It's not a guffaw-inducing parade of laughter, but it does frequently use one technique that I have come to know and love over the course of my almost two years at FireJay- ending a post with an angry and critical one liner. Give them a shot.

The Super Bowl was fascinating from start to finish, and for the fourth quarter, both teams saved the best for last, reminding us of why we love sports.

We already know why we love sports. We don't need to be reminded of it. Sports aren't something that you might need a reminder about, like your occasionally annoying girlfriend or running long distances (if you're into that kind of thing). Leave the "why we love sports" nonsense to Rick Reilly, please. Not that he's any less infuriating.

Two years ago, when football pundits were forecasting a pass-wacky Indianapolis-Chicago Super Bowl, yours truly wrote a pregame column saying the Colts would win by running the ball. And verily, it came to pass. This year, with pundits forecasting a game decided by the hot Arizona offense against the No. 1 Pittsburgh defense, TMQ wrote a pregame column predicting, "Super Bowl XLIII will come down to how the Arizona defense performs against the Pittsburgh offense." Arizona had the lead with 2:24 remaining, the Steelers were stuck on their own 12-yard line; it came down to how the Arizona defense performed against the Pittsburgh offense, and the Pittsburgh offense carried the final two minutes.

What about how the Pittsburgh defense forced a fumble from the Arizona offense to end the game? Doesn't that mean TMQ was wrong? Even if you disagree, it's mind numbingly stupid to say that because the game was close and the Pittsburgh offense had the ball on what was essentially the game's final drive, therefore the whole game game down to that matchup. I think James Harrison might have something to say about that. Anyways, if the Cardinals had stopped the Steelers on that last Pittsburgh drive, he'd still obviously be tooting his own horn about his brilliant prediction. This is a clever trick by Gregggggggg: if the game is close in the 4th quarter, he has a 50/50 chance at being right with his bold prediction. Either the Steelers have the ball last and he's right, or Arizona has the ball last, in which case he will spin the facts to still insist that he's right.

"In past Super Bowls in which a great offense has been paired against a great defense … the great offense and great defense roughly neutralized each other, leaving the trophy to be decided by the lesser offense against the lesser defense," TMQ noted a week ago. And verily, it came to pass.

Fuck you.

The zone blitz is misnamed; announcers shout, "It's a blitz!" because six or seven gentlemen look like they're coming, but only four actually rush.

WRONG. If it looks like a bunch of guys are going to rush, but only four do, then it's just a disguised coverage. TMQ is correct that announcers often misidentify it, but he's misidentifying it too. If only four guys rush then by definition the defensive call was not a blitz.

And when Fitzgerald broke into the clear down the middle for the long score that might have proved to be the winning touchdown, who was the sole Steeler nipping at Fitzgerald's heels for the final 20 yards? James Harrison, a linebacker. The Pittsburgh speed guys had given up on the play, but Harrison did not.

WRONG. WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG. The final Steeler to give up pursuit was Ryan Clark. Harrison and Troy Polamalu gave up simultaneously about five yards before him. But then again, Polamalu was a high draft pick and Harrison went undrafted (AND played in NFL Europe! Don't forget! Actually, that's impossible, because if you do TMQ will remind you about two paragraphs later!) so Harrison is by default more interesting. Fun fact, however: Clark was also undrafted. If TMQ were aware of this his mouth would definitely be attached to Clark's nuts just like it is to Harrison's.

Now it's fourth-and-20 from the Pittsburgh 36, and TMQ's Law of the Preposterous Punt holds that the trailing team that punts in opposition territory in the fourth quarter will go on to lose. Arizona did punt and did lose, but considering it was fourth-and-20 and the Cards held three timeouts, punting made sense. The ball was downed on the Pittsburgh 1, which was sweet. Three plays later, holding in the end zone pulled the score to 20-16, and two snaps after the free kick, Arizona led 23-20 and the best quarter of the 2008 season was in full swing.

What a gigantic pie in Gregg's face it would have been had the game ended that way. This is how sad my life has become as a result of this blog: when Fitzgerald scored his long touchdown, one of the first thoughts to go through my mind was "I'm going to shit all over TMQ for this."

Often along the streets of Washington, TMQ observes SUVs and driver-service cars idling their engines for lengthy periods as the drivers wait for some government official or diplomat. This column has noted the trend toward government officials demanding bodyguards and private jets not to be safe but to feel more important. Perhaps somewhere some official has said, "My driver must keep the engine running for security against terrorism."

Perhaps. We don't know, but it's more fun to speculate than to rely on facts. That helps you make unsubstantiated points which sound really powerful.

Starting an engine takes five seconds! Computer-controlled engines of cars built since about 2000 do not require warm-up time, as they perform the same when they first light as they do after an hour of idling. Plus, so far as I could determine, there has never been an attack against a government official walking toward his or her car in the United States.

Hmmmm. You sure? Does the president count as a government official? It's OK, I understand how this slipped through the cracks. It's not like it was a major news story while Gregg was an adult.

Get Rid of the Penny! Four commemorative Lincoln cents will be released by the United States Mint in 2009. Why does the penny even exist anymore? One cent has no monetary meaning.

Actually, it's legal tender for all debts public and private in the United States. It's worth 1/100th of a dollar.

Pennies clog our national pockets and purses.

Sort of true. Change by its very nature tends to be a little bulky and annoying from time to time. I don't know if "clog" is the best word.

The cent forces clerks to waste time handing out hyper-specific sums of change,

$1.38 in change is a ridiculous amount! $1.35 or $1.40 is so much less specific.

which we must then lug around.

Are those twelve pennies in your purse hurting your back, Gregg? Give them to a homeless person or leave them at the counter. No one is forcing you to burden yourself with them. See, the thing is, I kind of agree. Maybe we should get rid of the penny. (Gregg makes some good points about how they cost more than a penny each to mint and distribute; thus, the treasury loses money when producing them.) But leave it to him to ruin the argument by being a moron.

In the first three quarters against Pittsburgh's standard defense, the Cardinals gained 127 net yards passing -- 27 net yards, if you subtract the 100-yard interception return for a touchdown. In the fourth quarter against the soft two-deep look, the Cardinals passed for 247 net yards and nearly won the Super Bowl. So from this, what do you conclude about the prevent defense? Plus, the one thing the soft two-deep zone "sells out" in order to stop -- the long touchdown -- it failed to stop.

WRONG. Refer back to the video above. On that play, the Steelers actually had eight guys on the line of scrimmage. Gregg is correct in that it was also a two deep look, but they weren't playing a soft zone or a prevent. In prevent you usually only have two or three downlinemen on the line of scrimmage, and you certainly don't play up on the receivers in most "soft" zones. This was just a great throw by Warner and a great run after the catch by Fitzgerald.

Harrison got TMQ's MVP vote despite no sacks and just three tackles. The Steelers' defense is a collaborative effort that is about results, not personal stats -- and note that after his 100-yard touchdown, Harrison did not dance around the field pointing at himself.

Because he had just sprinted, hurdled, and juked for more than 100 yards you fucking dummy. Very few 250 pound people, even elite athletes, can do that and still have energy to "dance around the field pointing at himself." Harrison may well be a relatively humble guy, but this is about the worse example you could choose to try to prove it.

On offense, Pittsburgh had a man in motion on almost every snap. Early on, Arizona defenders seemed confused about who had the motion man, especially when Hines Ward went in motion. Twice near the goal line, Pittsburgh sent Ward in motion inward, back toward the formation, then ran Willie Parker behind him the other way effectively.

With so much effectiveness that Parker didn't get into the end zone on either play.

Then on the game-winning play, Holmes lined up in the right slot and ran an out. No one covered him!

WRONG. Apparently TMQ is unfamiliar with how a zone defense works. I couldn't find a good camera angle to show it, but basically Holmes was "covered" by the zone about two steps after leaving the line of scrimmage. Sure, no one was manned up on him which might not have been the best idea. But saying "no one covered him!" is WRONG.

But could we clear something up here? No opponent of the Pittsburgh Steelers is afraid of towels. The Terrible Towel is a nice spectator tradition; it has no effect on the game. Mega-pumped football players in body armor are not afraid of towels.

This from a guy who talks incessantly about "the football gods" and the myriad of ways they affect the outcome of games.

And did Harrison get the ball across the goal line at the end of the first half? Maybe, but if the league would simply chip the football as TMQ keeps asking, we'd be sure.

You're outrageously stupid. This is the new "[Team X]'s linemen were literally standing around, doing nothing!" Stop bringing it up. You're embarrassing yourself.

Absurd Specificity Watch: The day before the Super Bowl, forecast there would be a 1 percent chance of precipitation at 4 a.m., a 10 percent chance at 3 p.m., a 0 percent chance at kickoff and a 10 percent chance during the fourth quarter. forecast that at kickoff, the temperature would be 62 degrees, the humidity 52 percent and the wind east-northeast at 4 mph. Reader Steve Whitlock of Atlanta reports he once noted forecasting a 4 percent chance of rain at 9:30 a.m. Jon Blum of Citrus Springs, Fla., notes the Web site Weather Underground last week listed the temperature in his town at 73.4 degrees. Last week it snowed in Washington, D.C., and during the snow, forecast the chance of precipitation would be 62 percent at 8 p.m., rising to 67 percent at 9 p.m.

I can't tell what his complaint is in items like this- if he's saying that there's no way we can measure things like the weather with this level of precision, or if he's saying that this level of precision is unnecessary when talking about thing like the weather. Either way, it's a gigantic waste of my time to read and not worth complaining about. (And if I say something isn't worth complaining about, then it really must not be worth complaining about.)

Next Week: The stadium lights are out, the film rooms have gone dark, and the cheerleaders have put their miniskirts away in very small drawers. But the final act of the 2008 NFL season remains: Tuesday Morning Quarterback's annual Bad Predictions Review. Here's a foretaste: Everyone was wrong about everything!

Whoa. That's a whoooooooooooooooooooole lotta irony right there.

Monday, February 2, 2009

I Don't Think I've Ripped on Simmons in a While

Probably because he's putting out about a column a month these days, and the last one was about his late dog. Now, I'm not saying it's not a sad story- but I am definitely saying that I don't give a flying fuck about it. I go to ESPN to read about sports. I do not go there to read about what happens in the personal lives of the columnists. I don't really care if John Holinger's wife has a baby, or if Buster Olney finds $5 on the beach. OK, enough of the mini-rant. Let's review the stupidest things said during Bill's latest chat. In some cases I'm going to pick on the idiots asking the questions rather than the dipshit answering them, but I think it's legit considering he picks every question he answers out of tens of thousands submitted during the course of the chat. Aaaaand... Teen Wolf discussion staaaarts.... NOW.

Nathan (Cambridge, Mass.): Is Mike Tomlin the coolest Super Bowl coach in history? That dude is the Samuel L. Jackson of the National Football League!

Because he's black! Note the city and state of the guy who felt the need to point that out to you.

SportsNation Bill Simmons: Not just for Super Bowls - I say he's the coolest coach in any sport ever. Even cooler than Coach Fenstock. By the way, the over/under for Teen Wolf questions or references is 7.5 for today's chat - take the over. They gotta stop showing it. I am becoming obsessed.

How old are you, 12? It's OK to enjoy a largely irrelevant movie without pushing it on everyone, you know. You don't see me trying to work "Envy" into every single goddamn post.

Brian (Milwaukee, WI): OK, Redd is out for the year, if the Bucks had hired you as GM(which they should have), what do you do to get the Bucks to the playoffs?

The "Hire me as Milwaukee's GM- I mean, why not?" thing: easily one of my least favorite Simmons topics/running gags/running non-gags/retarded ideas.

SportsNation Bill Simmons: Anyway, it's clear that the NBA GM job is overrated as we've seen by how many people have failed at it - why not take a chance with someone like me and get fans talking and message boards buzzing?

Because you're an idiot who knows about 5% as much as you think you know about basketball.

What could the Bucks possibly do that would be a bigger national story than a controversial GM or coach hire?

Why should that be their goal?

Name me one thing. You can't.

I don't need to. They're doing alright without your tiny brain controlling the franchise.

The other move would be to just make someone a player-coach... which I think is illegal.

Not that Bill has time to research this during the chat, but it's not. I'm pretty unsurprised that Bill's hunch was wrong.

Joe (Decatur, GA): Cavs question. When Delonte and Big Z come back, will the Cavs be good enough to win the title without adding a piece by trading Wally?

SportsNation Bill Simmons: Yeah, everyone's missing that about the Cavs right now - they are missing two starters and really won't be the team they will be until April. I would not sleep on them. By the way, Devin Harris making the AS team over Mo Williams was an outrage.

So playing on the same team as LeBron, who can create unlimited looks for his teammates, and averaging 17/4/3, is better than carrying a terrible Nets team and averaging 21/6/3? Later on, Bill presents that argument that "anyone" can get good stats on a bad team like New Jersey. Then how come more players don't? There aren't a lot of guys out there on any team averaging 21 and 6. That puts him in the top 15 in both categories; if that's so "easy" to do, how come no one else on a shitty team is anywhere close to doing it? Because Bill is smarter than me, that's why.

Dave (Baltimore, MD): Which one is more bizzare? The Arizona Cardinals in the Super Bowl, the Tampa Bay Rays in the World Series, or Mickey Rourke vs Chris Jerico at Wrestlemania 25?

SportsNation Bill Simmons: I still think Tampa making the World Series.

There are no other teams in the AL East besides the Red Sox and Yankees; just ask any Red Sox or Yankees fan. I often read, which may have even more obnoxious commenters than Deadspin. This offseason has been hilarious over there. Everyone seems to have conveniently forgotten the elephant in the room, with a pitching staff (even considering the addition of Burnett and Sabathia) that can crush either Boston or New York's. I'm looking forward to watching things unfold again this season. I will definitely grant to Bill that Tampa going all the way to the WS was extremely surprising, but the subtext of this answer reeks of narrow-minded Boston/New York/nothing else matters dumbfuckery.

Oh, and from eariler:

I couldn't agree more with Kenny Smith - it's EASY to put up good stats on bad teams or mediocre teams. The Cavs are a super-contender for 2 reasons: Bron is so much better/hungrier, and Mo Williams has made a huge difference for them. They are 20-0 at home. How the hell can they only have 1 All Star?

Because they have one awesome player who's probably the league MVP as of right now, and a bunch of role players who fit well around him. I'm not sure what's so hard about this. Williams is really good. Is he better than Harris? It's not even close.

All Star teams, MVPO votes, Hall of Fame votes and Oscar/Emmy nominations really make me crazy. I can't handle it.

SportsNation Bill Simmons: Like Brad Pitt getting nominated for Ben Button - I almost put my fist through a wall. HOW TERRIBLE IS THAT??????? I defy anyone to watch that movie and say that Brad Pitt even "acted." he just played himself. I can't stand it.

I can't comment becuase I haven't seen this. But if Bill's movie opinions about movies are as well-founded and intelligent as his opinions about sports...

Tim (Walla Walla, WA): Why don't you ever go on ESPN First Take to debate Skip Bayless?

SportsNation Bill Simmons: You Know, I've thought about doing this.

Please please please please, someone set this up. I will cancel whatever it is I have going on that morning and watch.

My plan would be to go on, then after every point he makes, I'd do a Sarcastic Clap like the SNL skit with the Sarcastic Clapping Family. And I'd never make any actual points. Just two hours of sarcastic claps. I think he'd be flustered.

Hilarious! Bill Simmons, master of comedy. We've finally found someone who could make Skip Bayless seem intelligent and witty if they were both on the same set.

Henry (Los Angeles): Any interesting prop bets on/related to the Super Bowl? I'm thinking of putting 10$ on the line with 10000:1 odds that the first guy to score is TO. Chance at 100k with his ego? Good enough for me.

Topical! But still unfunny.

SportsNation Bill Simmons: Also liked this one...

SportsNation Bill Simmons: Jersey Number of Player to score First Touchdown in Super Bowl XLIII: Over/under for number is 38.5 (-115 for each side)

SportsNation Bill Simmons: So if you think a WR is scoring, or any defensive player or returner... you take the over. I like that one a lot.

Anyone who has watched any football at all in the last month, you know, like maybe the fucking conference championships games, should be able to pretty much instantly remember that Larry Fitzgerald wears 11 and Santonio Holmes wears 10. Most people will also remember that Steve Breaston wears 15. Also- "any defensive player"- what about, you know, all the defensive backs who wear numbers in the 20s or 30s who maybe might return a pick or fumble for a TD? But hey, give bill this- if Darnell Dockett or Brett Kiesel had taken a one to the house, he would have cashed in big time. And hey, James Harrison did in fact do just that. Wasn't the first TD though. And it was still a dumb idea to bet the over. Gary Russell, wearing #33, scored first.

(Bill was corrected about Fitzgerland and Holmes almost immediately. Why didn't he know their numbers offhand, even though both had great seasons/postseasons? Probably because they don't play for THE GREATEST FAHCKIN' TEAM EVAHHHH! 19-0! 19-0! 19-0!)

SportsNation Bill Simmons: If you missed Monday's podcast, Cousin Sal and I broke this down and Sal loved Gary Russell -300 NOT to score a TD.


Jason (Boston, MA): Dan "The CHB" Shaughnessy says Tom Brady is now soft because a smoking hot Brazilian super model was offering him a bite of her lunch. Ladies and Gentlemen, the Boston print media!

SportsNation Bill Simmons: Nothing ever changes in Boston. It's amazing. WEEI just re-signed Glenn Ordway for 5 more years. It's Groundhog Day. The Globe has had the same two sports columnists for TWENTY ONE YEARS.

Only in Boston does this pattern happen! Only he-ah! No one else undastands us! We ahhhhh different than the rest of you cawksawkas!

PeteFitz (chicago): Mr. Sportsguy, Any reason for the podcasts over the columns these last two weeks? I personally like the columns better (for selfish reasons, I like to read at work), so I was wondering if there was a specific reason.

SportsNation Bill Simmons: Again, I am desperatrely trying to finish my book - so that's one reason, I only have so many writing hours in me each day. The other reason is that I love doing the podcasts and feel like I'm on the ground floor of a medium that is really starting to take off. It's like radio on demand and I think it's going to kill satellite radio in 2 years. I really do. It's also a huge threat to real radio in my opinion, especially when people can get internet in their cars and can just cue podcasts up within 3 clicks.

Write that down. By early 2011, satellite radio will be bust. (Actually, that might happen, but not because of podcasts.)

It's astonishing to me that nobody has written a long piece about podcasts yet. This is EXACTLY the same as what happened with sportswriting in the late-90s where nobody was taking the internet seriously and suddenly within 7 years there were a million sports blogs, mainstream sites were crushing newspapers and newspapers were hemorrhaging money.

EXACTLY like that. But really, completely different. I don't have time to explain why. We can discuss in the comments if any of you Anonymouses want to call me out.

RC (District of Columbia): Manny averages an OPS+ of 155 and a lifetime EqA of .327....with those numbers he can play LF in a diaper for all I care

SportsNation Bill Simmons: See, another team that should sign him - the Nats. People in DC do not care about that team. At all. Manny doesn't make them more interesting?????

Maybe, just maybe- and I'm going way out on a limb here- maybe the Nats front office is more concerned with formulating a long-term plan to get the team to the playoffs than making the team "more interesting" for the next 2 or 3 years. I know that as GM of the Bucks you would be exclusively focused on making interesting, exciting moves. But some people have a different agenda. Try to imagine that, hard as it may be.

They're willing to give Tex 170 million - a guy who has played on bad teams for nearly his entire career - but Manny isn't worth $75m for three? He wouldn't sell tickets? He wouldn't hit?

Like I said. Manny would definitely hit- he would also make the 2009 and 2010 Nats 75 win teams instead of 68 win teams. 2011... maybe they have a shot at something if their pitching develops. And at that point, they're out $75 million with no playoff appearances to show for it. See how that works? They were willing to sign Teixeira not for 2009 and 2010, but for subsequent years when he still has some value and they have a chance to be good. Use your noggin, dummy.

Marty Weikart (Brier WA): You have discussed Cardinals fans in your recent podcasts. I thought I would bring up how bad it was. even this summer. When I was in AZ for a business trip in Aug, there were advertising pre-season tickets as a package with the Dallas regular season game as a "Protect the House" scheme. As I understood it, in order to get the pre-season tickets, you also had to buy the regular season ticket, and the objective was that "real Cardinals fans" would be sitting in the stadium during the Dallas game, instead of a stadium completely filled with Dallas fans like had happened in the past. What other city could you ever imagine that happening in?

SportsNation Bill Simmons: I am torn on this one - I get the whole "you didn't hear from us Cards fans because our team was just hopelessly bad" argument, but there is also undeniable evidence that Phoenix is a top-3 lousy/indefensible major sports city along with LA and Washington DC. So I don't know what to think.

This from the guy who "swore off" his longtime favorite hockey team, the Boston Bruins, because they "were just too painful to watch" or some bullshit like that. (I googled around for the column for a while and couldn't find it. If i'm wrong, feel free to let me know. I'm pretty sure that's the gist of it.) So yeah, asshole, I'm sure you "get" the whole "you didn't hear from us because our team was bad" thing. Until this year, when they're suddenly good again and you will inevitably eventually write a "I'm back with the Bruins, baby!" column, you've been living that "thing." You also openly threatened to "live" it after the 2007 NBA draft lottery, in which it was revealed that Boston wouldn't be getting Kevin Durant or Greg Oden. Yeah. You "get" it. Fairweather dickwad.

Jay (Toronto): So what did SportsCenter steal from you without telling you first?

SportsNation Bill Simmons: The Mount Rushmore gimmick. I've been doing that in columns and mailbags for at least 18 months. Even did a whole Mount Rapmore last February. I just think it's petty to say, "hey, that's a good idea, let's take it."

Later on, he complains more about this. Guess why no one at ESPN thanked, cited, or included you, Bill? Probably because you're a fucking self-righteous asshole who no one likes. I hate you and I've never even met you; I can only imagine what it's like to be your employer or coworker.

Tom (Meridian, Idaho): Bill. We haven't heard your thoughts on Jim Rice FINALLY making the Hall of Fame. What's the over/under on the length of his speech? 5 minutes, 10? My bet is he says thanks, then sits down and lets Ricky talk for the next hour.

SportsNation Bill Simmons: Talked about it on a podcast a little. My thoughts go like this: If he wasn't a HOFer for 14 years, why is he one now?

Plus, as many Boston fans would remind you, he was black. HE AIN'T NO WELKAHHHH, I'LL TELL YOU THAT MUCH!

Ron Philly: SG, you've been mentioning Teen Wolf so much recently, but have not mentioned the final scene when the extra in the stand shows his "anatomy". This was apparently looked over by the editors. It was recently voted one of the biggest movie edit mistakes ever.

SportsNation Bill Simmons: It's great and the best part is that he zips it up right as Michael J Fox is basically mounting his Dad in celebration like Elizabeth Berkeley in Showgirls ... it has to be one of the strangest last few seconds of any movie that's ever been made.

Although this only gets us 2/3 of the way through the chat, I think that's a good couple of notes to end on. What better sums up a Simmons chat than a quick reminder that Boston is full of racists and that Bill likes Teen Wolf? Yup, I've definitely had just about enough of this.

Oh, one last thing- Karate Kid!