Sunday, May 31, 2009

Saying Hello to an Old Friend

Ladies and gentlemen, it's time we revisit a story that was told billions of times already, but hasn't been told in almost a year. A story told by a man who once showed up here quite frequently, and is still allegedly our flagship target. Ladies and gentlemen, please wwwwwwwwwwelcome back.....Jay Mariotti.

Bad Vibes Abound in Friendly Confines

For those of you who don't believe me......









::sniff:: Those were happy times. I sort of miss you, Jay.

CHICAGO -- I'm actually a hopeful guy at heart, confident we'll one day have an economic recovery,

Likely very soon!

peace on earth

Likely not happening!

and better late-night TV from Jimmy Fallon.

The least likely of all!

But my faith in humankind never has extended to the Cubs. Let me lay this out right here: They won't win another World Series in our lifetime or anyone's else,

Interesting. Jay should bet his life savings against the Cubs winning every year and live like a king. But I don't quite understand that sentence. Can you please give me three very random and completely unrelated references to clarify this?

doomed like pork rinds, Vanilla Ice and the last U.S. president as irreversible national debacles.


On a cold, rainy Tuesday, it was Country Music Night at Wrigley Field, the perfect promotion for the saddest ongoing song in sports. Living here, I am sensing more than a smidgen of burnout in Cubdom, a world-weariness that suggests even the most loyal masochists in sports are sick of pledging their entire beings to a cursed cause -- only to be inevitably bludgeoned every autumn.

I stopped reading the second you used the word "cursed". Unfortunately, it seems I already read roughly 89% of those words.

Wasn't there some sort of "curse" on that there Boston baseball team?

Naw, couldn't be. They won the World Series twice recently.

Now, there's a queasy feeling that the Cubs are regressing and might not even make the playoffs this season. They've lost eight of their last nine games, with a rain-shortened 6-1 win over the Pirates finally breaking the streak, and they too often strike the appearance of a sluggish, broken-down, overpriced blob that has overstayed its welcome as a National League contender.

They're four games out of first place on May 31. And they're behind teams that aren't even good.

This begs for a snarling, spitting, belly-bumping tantrum by manager Lou Piniella, who went bonkers in June 2007 and saw the Cubs use it as an emotional turning point in a division-title season.

Jay seems to be of the opinion that the Chicago Cubs won the division in 2007 because Lou Piniella kicked dirt on an umpire. Good for you, Jay.

But here's the rub: His wife, Anita, won't let her hubbie throw bases or fits anymore at 65, which not only is the clubhouse's loss but SportsCenter's, too.

Translation: The Cubs are fux0red.

At 22-22, the Cubs are only four games behind Milwaukee and St. Louis, locked in a first-place tie in the NL Central.

Dan-bob, please explain to the audience what is wrong with this sentence.

But the Cardinals, with Albert Pujols as the resident machine and pitching coach Dave Duncan working more miracles with mediocre arms, are poised for a division-title run.

I'm glad you think that Joel Piniero and Kyle Lohse aren't in for some sort of rude awakening.

The Brewers aren't bad, either, even without C.C. Sabathia.

Actually, they are kind of bad, especially when you consider Rickie Weeks isn't playing anymore. They have four guys hitting the ball acceptably well, and one of them is Craig Counsell, who is totally going to hit .327 all year. Trevor Hoffman will never give up a run, and the team will definitely stay in first place with Manny Parra and Jeff Suppan pitching this awful.

Let me read that sentence again.

The Brewers aren't bad, either, even without C.C. Sabathia.

Wow Jay, you've totally convinced me that you know one thing about the Brewers.

The Cubs are one of baseball's worst offensive teams,


ranking 11th in the league in runs and 14th in batting average and total bases, a far cry from the mashers who powered their way to glory.

Geovany Soto is going to hit .210 all year, and Aramis Ramirez will never come off the disabled list.

One issue is the deterioration of Derrek Lee, who hit 46 home runs four years ago, into a glorified singles hitter. Another issue is Aramis Ramirez, a dangerous hitter who can't stay healthy. Then there's the maddeningly streaky Alfonso Soriano, who is striking out like a fiend and remains misplaced as a leadoff man. The reigning NL Rookie of the Year, catcher Geovany Soto, is hitting .214 with one homer.

There is absolutely no reason to think that any of these players will produce at such a sluggish/disabled rate over an entire season.

Then there's Milton Bradley, who has brought nothing but poison to the Friendly Confines and threatens to spoil the good vibes that have pervaded Wrigley the last two seasons. Only Bradley, who should be accompanied by a shrink 24/7, still can carry a grudge in late May about an umpiring spat that happened on April 16.

Bradley is hitting home runs at a higher rate per plate appearance than he ever has in his career. His OBP is 119 points higher than his batting average. If you think that Milton Bradley is a .224 hitter, then please, by all means, panic.

But, hey, at least Mr. T was there on Monday night, in his red, white and blue get-up and bandana, mucking up the seventh-inning song with the worst of them. You thought Denise Richards was bad? Jeff Gordon, Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Romo, Mike Ditka, Dick Vitale? Mr. T brought "PAIN!!!" in the worst way.

See? It isn't all bad!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Writer Attempts to Understand Fielding Statistics; Lobotomy Ensues

Paul Daugherty of the Cincinnati Enquirer is surprised by the Reds' recent stretch of reasonably good baseball. Who isn't? But this article is a slop-fest of statistical foolishness. Check it out:

[Note: this article dates to 5/18 - I simply hadn't gotten around to it till now]

Numbers Add Up to Better Defense

In baseball, defining good defense is like catching a butterfly with a frying pan.

That's why some of us are professional writers and some of us are bloggers. Similes, ladies and gentlemen: not just something your tenth-grade English teacher tested you on.

It's the team with the fewest errors, right? It's the team with the best fielding percentage. Fewer errors equals better defense. Of course it does.

This is what we call a "straw man" - Paul is setting up the old version of baseballthink and oversimplifying it. Then, he will refute it! Paul is smarter than conventional baseball wisdom. QED!

Not really. Reds center fielder Willy Taveras gets to flyballs that some major league outfielders couldn't reach in Danica Patrick's ride.

Pop culture references are not the exclusive property of Bill Simmons. Even hometown joes can use 'em!

What if Taveras gets to a ball in the gap and drops it? He gets an error. Does that make him a bad outfielder?

Can't be fielding percentage, then. Must be putouts. Has to be. An outfielder with a lot of putouts has to be good. He's catching more balls. Makes perfect sense. OK, seamhead, but what if his pitching staff includes more flyball pitchers than groundball guys?

I love the "OK, seamhead" part - as though Mr. Daugherty is conceivably addressing someone who had thought a lot about fielding, but hadn't thought of the last point (which really isn't that complex).

I hope someday I'm in an argument and someone says, "OK, seamhead, listen to THIS!" Then I will slink away like I did when I lost a sixth-grade cap war.

See what I mean?


The Reds defense is better this year. Even as they've made more errors than 29 other major league teams.

Now we're getting interesting. They're last in the majors in errors. That's not a good sign.

I asked readers of my blog to tell me where to go. (They're very good at that.) Actually, I wanted Web sites that delivered cold, hard facts when it came to catching butterflies with frying pans. The posters delivered.

Wow, never mind. Daugherty is cool. He takes advice from his blog's commenters. I take back all the snide, backhanded insults I used earlier.

One offered this helpful tidbit: Compare "the statistics of fielding percentage, number of putouts and assists, along with doubles, triples and inside-the-park home runs allowed by the outfielders this year to the 2008 team after 32 games."

A helpful tidbit to be sure, but it's really hard to measure the stat of "doubles allowed by outfielders"... usually you measure the "doubles allowed by pitchers" stat. I hear Adam Dunn allowed 28375 doubles last year, which was only exceeded by this guy, who allowed 298329757 doubles last year.


I don't think this word is in the dictionary.

Who do I look like, Norman Einstein?

A veiled pop culture reference! TV commentator (and Notre Dame graduate) Joe Theismann once allegedly claimed that "A genuis is a guy like Norman Einstein".

Someone else suggested Batting Average, Balls In Play: BABIP.

BABIP sounds like the hero of a jungle movie. "Babip, come quickly! The lion is eating the little boy!"

To some people, this could be construed as vaguely offensive. To no people, this could be construed as funny. Also, most reasonable commenters who understand what BABIP is will recognize that it doesn't do a great job measuring defense. But hey! it's a funny acronym, and thus it has a place in this article.

A few offered UZR, which isn't a designer steroid

That was a joke! Did you catch it? You wouldn't have caught it if I hadn't separated it like this!

but something called Ultimate Zone Rating. I was directed to an author named John Dewan, who has published the Fielding Bibles, I and II. After the bosses said I couldn't expense the Bibles, I blew that one off,

Gosh, the newspaper industry sure has fallen on hard times when you can't spend thirty-three bucks on books you don't really intend to read because you already don't like stats.


That was another joke! Get it? He blew off Dewan's book, a "Bible", so it was like committing blasphemy! offers a Defensive Efficiency rating, "the rate at which balls put into play are converted into outs." The Reds rank fifth in the major leagues.

Hey! A stat! Maybe that's why the Reds are doing well at defense! Why don't you explain this, Mr. Daugherty? That would be a great way to support your claim that the Reds' defense is better this year.

There were a lot of other, very small numbers to look at, but I felt myself slipping into a coma, so I stopped reading them.

Why were the numbers smaller? I have a subscription to myself and I'm pretty sure all the numbers are the same size. Was there a font problem? Are you actually narcoleptic? [Note: the link is definitely worth the very short time you will invest in it].

Generally, I think baseball stats are like vegetables: An important part of a well-balanced diet and occasionally hard to swallow.

You just spent the whole time mocking pretty much all the statistics - from errors to fielding % to UZR to BABIP to defensive efficiency. Which stats do you like? Which stats, like spinach, are actually good for you, even though they look funny on paper and have weird acronyms? Food metaphors for everyone!

So where do we go with this?

Last year, the Reds were hurt by Ken Griffey Jr.'s diminished range in right field and Adam Dunn's general mismanagement in left.

Amen. I actually like the phrase "general mismanagement" - it aptly describes Mr. Dunn's fielding ability. These guys explain how it works. [Note: the video is worth your time if you've ever been an opposing fan in the left-field bleachers at Wrigley].

But how much better are they now, with Jay Bruce in right and the Chris Dickerson/Laynce Nix combo in left?

More importantly: What has Willy Taveras given them in center field?

What a good pair of questions to ask. Bravo, Mr. Daugherty!

For what it's worth, Nix's and Taveras' RF/9 is a bit above league average, and Dickerson's a bit below. In contrast, Dunn's and Griffey's RF/9 for 2008 are both significantly below league average. Since the Reds' staff is generally the same staff as last year, it seems that the Reds' defense has improved substantially since last year! You're right, Paul!

I asked Sam Grossman. Sam who?

The Reds Manager of Baseball Research and Analysis. Like most astute baseball people, Grossman has a degree in mathematics from Northwestern. He worked in insurance, decided he'd rather not, took a few minor league internships and was hired by the Reds in 2007. Grossman crunches the fielding numbers.

Shit. I should follow my dream like Sam Grossman.

He reads play-by-plays like they're the Dead Sea Scrolls.

More Bible allusions! Anyone who reads this post all the way through will be older than Jared!

They show where balls are hit - their "zone" - and what happened. From there, Grossman employs a double-secret formula similar to the one used by the UZR folks: How hard was the ball hit? Was it off a right-handed or left-handed pitcher? And so on. Then the numbers are compared to the league average.

I wonder how "double-secret" this formula is. I also like how he calls them "the UZR folks".

That's basically how the Reds concluded last winter that Taveras would be a great, um, catch

Another joke! Get it? It's a pun!

as a free-agent center fielder. "It was as simple as (Taveras) turning into outs a lot of balls hit to him," Grossman says. "He played in two big center fields, first in Houston, then in Colorado. He made plays most visiting center fielders wouldn't make."
He still does.

He still has a .330 career OBP as a leadoff hitter. But that's not the point.

The UZR boys

Whatever happened to "UZR folks"? That sounds nicer. Either way, the "boys" and "folks" almost makes these dudes sound like rednecks. The good old UZR boys probably still live in their folks' basements anyways.

currently rank Taveras the second-best center fielder in the game. Jay Bruce - Jay Bruce! - is seen as the No. 1 right fielder. Overall, UZR says the Reds right now have the best outfield defense in baseball.

Excellent! Stats have proved Mr. Daugherty's point, even though he likes them about as much as he likes okra!

"Our formula rates our infield as average and our outfield a little above average," says Grossman, who adds helpfully, "Another guy uses what he calls 'probablistic model of range.' " We really don't want to go there.

I kind of want to go there. When you say "we" don't want to go there, Paul, don't include me in the royal "we". "You" and some other fans don't want to go there because it probably involves too much thinking. Baseball isn't about thinking. Baseball is about turning the double-play and executing bunts.

Grossman notes his work doesn't trump the eyeball work of scouts and general manager Walt Jocketty, but supplements and often confirms it. "A scout can tell you if a guy has good range," says Grossman. "This just quantifies it."

If a scout watches a guy play one game, how can he tell the extent of the player's range in all directions? The UZR, which "watches" every game a player plays, seems to be able to define a player's range a lot more accurately than a scout watching just a few games...

While stats are certainly not the end-all of baseball analysis, you gotta imagine that it stings a little bit for Grossman when he has to say shit like this.

To me, defense is judged best through daily watching. There ought to be a Web site:

Paul, how are the Reds supposed to watch every game of every player they might want to trade for/sign/draft? It's just not plausible. Also, there is a web site like that: it's called and it's pretty great. I've subscribed the last five summers and there's no money better spent. I say, Paul, there ought to be a web site:

"That's how I do it," Jocketty says. "We use (Grossman's) information as a baseline. I use input from scouts, and add my own. It all works together." But unless you're a genetic mutant or Bill James, you can't watch enough baseball to be an expert on every team's defense.

Wait, Bill James actually watches baseball? I thought played Strat-o-matic baseball in his garage every day. Huh.

Jocketty mentioned David Eckstein, the current San Diego Padres infielder who played shortstop on the St. Louis team that won the 2006 World Series. Eckstein's defense had to be seen daily to be believed. "Below average arm strength, OK range," Jocketty says. "But he always seemed to be able to position himself and get a throw off."

YES! Eckstein! It's like an unholy rule! Whenever any journalist wants to mention the "stats are stupid and some things in baseball are just unquantifiable", they have to cite the ECKSTEIN law. Seriously: as any discussion of statistical relevance in baseball grows, the probability of a comparison involving Eckstein approaches 1. It's a law.

Let me repeat one of the most ridiculous statments I've read recently:

"Eckstein's defense had to be seen daily to be believed".

Actually, nothing Eckstein does has to be seen to be believed. I've probably seen the guy play only three or four times in my whole life, and I can believe everything the guy does: play slightly-below average baseball.

Grossman says quantifying defensive ability "was the hardest thing to nail down, in the past. We're getting there."

Hooray for stat-guys!

The past? What's harder to judge now?

"The effect of team chemistry," he says. "The manager effect."

I can't wait until we come up with stats for these ones. The acronyms will be ridiculous!

The manager? That's an easy one. Just ask the fans what they think.

What? I thought this article was about defense?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

It Ain't Broke, and Rick Reilly is Just Enough of a Dumbass to Fix It

Although he's a real baggadouche, I usually shy away from ripping on Reilly's articles. But right now I have a bone to pick. A few days ago, he did something very personally offensive to me. Here's a rhetorical question: Is it possible to "jinx" a team which is a perennial loser, wasn't even expected to make the playoffs this year, and is more or less playing with the house's money by reaching the conference finals? Well, Rick was more than willing to find out when he wrote this article about how great it would be for the Denver Nuggets to win a championship this year. Don't get me wrong- my complaint isn't even about jinxes. I don't believe in them because I'm not a dipshit Cubs fan. It's about writing a moronic article about my favorite NBA team. I know Reilly, like me, is a Colorado native. But that doesn't give him carte blanche to write bullshit fluff articles about Colorado teams. STAY AWAY FROM MY ALLEGIANCES, REILLY. I FUCKING MEAN IT.

So, with that established, let's see how Rick would "fix" baseball. Because clearly it is broken.

I personally find baseball so crushingly boring I would happily plunge knitting needles into my eyes to avoid another snap zoom of Joe Torre's nostril hairs.

Where is the celebrity pop culture reference here? We're a whole one sentence in and he hasn't even mentioned Octomom or Bristol Palin. Couldn't he have said "I'd rather hear more about the Pitt-Jolie-Aniston love triangle than watch baseball!" and called it a day?

But my buddies like it, so I sit and watch with them. And bitch.

And talk about horse racing for hours, without realizing that it's entirely predicated on gambling and profit maximization.

"Why do all these ballparks have to be so precious?" I was opining the other night. "You take Houston's. Why does it have a rise in centerfield for no apparent reason? Why is there a train running along the fence? Any chance we could stick the architect under it? Why is the outfield wall in San Francisco made of five different substances and at five different heights? What is this, pachinko? I mean, if I were commissioner … "

This from a guy whose favorite sport is golf. The quintessential "unique venue" sport. How come the 17th green at Sawgrass is on a tiny island? Any chance we can drown Reilly in the adjoining lake?

And that's when my buddy spun around on me, red-faced, and yelled, "Tell you what! I hope you do end up commissioner! But until then, just shut up and watch the game!!!"

I was shocked into silence. Because I realized, "He thinks I could be commish!"

Well, to be fair, Bug Selig is probably on the short list of people who have done more to ruin my enjoyment of sports than Rick Reilly. So go for it, Rick. You're (somehow) the lesser of two evils here.

And so, I am hereby announcing my candidacy. Bud Selig is, what, 108? And here are the things I'll change before I even hang my coat on the door peg:

1) More puns. 2) More stories about parapalegic blind kids who made a free throw this one time. 3) More Britney Spears.

1) We'll put in a pitch clock. The reason baseball is slower than cold honey tipped over is that there's no clock when men are on base.

There is already a rule for this. I think it's something like 20 seconds between pitches. It is never enforced because most baseball fans don't care. I'd say the real reason for games getting longer and longer is the ever-expanding amount of time between half innings, so that teams and MLB can cram in as many commercials as possible. I can't prove that, but strongly suspect it's the case. Anyways, my counter-solution to this problem: give Rick more shiny things to play with if and when he's watching a game.

You get 10 seconds to shoot a free throw. Golf penalizes you for taking more than 40 seconds over a shot. A chair umpire takes a point from a player who uses more than 25 seconds to serve after a dead ball.

All of these are always enforced. Always.

But umps let hitters step out of the box to readjust their socks, belts, sleeves, gloves, jerseys and helmets -- after a ball!


They let pitchers fuss endlessly with their rosin bags, the rubber and their eternally askew cups, while we fans decide which of our peanuts resemble presidents.

Or celebrities!

But with my 15-second pitch clock, we get the hitter in the box, the pitcher on the mound and everybody in their homes by 10 p.m. We get two-hour-15-minute games instead of four-hour sunburns. We get World Series games that kids can see end. And not a dime of ad money is lost!

Yeah, wouldn't want to upset that little arangement. Lord knows MLB has been hemorrhaging money for years. God forbid any solution to this "problem" of game length prevent me from watching at least 90 minutes of Cialis commercials during every broadcast.

2) Once a week, every player signs autographs for 10 minutes by the dugout.

How else is Rick going to get fodder for saccarhine-sweet stories about how swell it is when athletes are nice?

Don't tell me you're too busy, Mr. Seven-Car Garage. I've seen you elbows-deep in the clubhouse porn stash.

That sounds an awful lot like jealousy. Quit bogarting all the porn, Ichiro.

3) We'll bring in Olympic testing. Saying "baseball players cheat" is like saying "wolves like hamburger."

It's like saying Lindsay Lohan likes media attention!

In the Small-Balls era, nobody -- not the players, not the owners, not the writers -- tried to stop it. Where were all these books when we needed them?

I don't know, Smartpants. Why weren't you writing one?

But when I bring in the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) -- and let it test anytime, road or home -- we'll finally see who's faker than Octomom's lips.

Finally with the pop culture. Jeez. Thought he was never going to get there.

4) If you're 0-for-4, the crowd picks your at-bat music. Is it my fault if they choose "Nothing From Nothing" by Billy Preston?

Hooooooo! Now there's something that could really entertain fans who find the game boring. Counter-solution: any song Rick likes is removed from all stadium sing catalogs across the league.

5) The National League will get the DH. No more pitchers swinging a bat at a ball the way Paris Hilton swings a shovel at a moth.

OMG Paris! Now we're on a roll. Have to disagree with Rick here, though. If you're the kind og scholar who thinks baseball is boring, you should probably prefer to see the comedy that can ensue when a pitcher tries to hit. It's a refreshing change of pace I would think.

6) We'll fine more players. The NFL fines guys $5,000 for not having their socks right. Nuggets forward Kenyon Martin got a $25,000 fine for shoving a guy. But often, Selig yawns when pitchers throw 95 mph retaliation beanballs. You want to brain a guy just because he stood in the box after his moon shot? Okay. We'll fine you until your kids end up in public school.

I hate to get all serious in my criticism of this article, but again, the same logic as above applies. So Rick is bored by baseball- and he thinks that removing beanballs from the game will change that? He should love beanballs and brawls. They're awesome. Or maybe he 1) wants to see more crazy home run celebrations and thus wants to remove any obstacle that prevents their happening or 2) doesn't expect pitchers to throw fewer beanballs if this rule were put into effect, he just thinks fines are really exciting.

7) Umps will be in charge of rainouts year round, not the home team. I'm sick of seeing a full house soak for two hours 59 minutes waiting for the manager to get word from his owner to call it, just because the greedball wants to sell more $9 beers. We'll put Double Doppler 9000 in the umps' room, and they'll decide in under an hour.

Counter-solution: any fans who stick around through the duration of a rainout get their ticket refunded with money from Rick's outrageous salary. I hate greedy owners. But his 5 year, $10 million contract with ESPN is far more offensive to me than any $8 slice of pizza or $6 churro ever could be.

8) Balls that hit the foul pole are foul. Duh.

First time anyone's ever made that joke. I'm pretty sure Rick owes royalties to Ernest Thayer on it.

9) A prospect won't be allowed to enter an MLB farm system until he's the age of a college sophomore, just like in the NBA. Over the years, I've noticed most baseball players are dumber than toe lint.

Athletes in other pro sports are totally different though. You can just tell when the average NBA or NFL player is being interviewed that those 1-4 years he spent pretending to be in college have drastically raised his intelligence level.

This is because many of them report to the minors even before graduating high school.

(whispered) Pssst! He's talking about players from Latin America! (spoken) So, making them play amateur ball for a year or two before being drafted is clearly the answer.

10) And most important, if you're the dweeb fan on your cell behind home plate waving at the camera, the rest of your section gets to pour beer down your shorts.

Well we can all agree on that.

Now shut up and watch the game.

Will do. Just as soon as you quit your job, agree to never work in the sports media ever again, donate any money you've made in that field to charity, and print a retraction for everything you've ever written.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Gregg Doyel Tries to Write about Sports; Chaos Ensues

This is one of those great articles that has, like, ten layers of wrong. (Don't click on the link unless you're really, really concerned that I might have fabricated something in this post; I don't want to give him any extra traffic.) The concept behind the article is ridiculous in the first place. As Chris W put it when he linked me, it's about a controversy which doesn't actually exist. Then Gregg takes that ridiculous concept, which should be pretty easy to make a coherent article about- like how murdering people is bad or how eating food is a good way to stay alive- and somehow fucks it up. It's fascinating. Really fucks with your head when you try to parse it. Reading stuff written by Gregg Doyel is like sitting in an asbestos-enclosed room with a slow gas leak while drinking lead paint.

Recognize LeBron's greatness now... or your own stupidity later

Hmmm, you think? I don't know. Being in the neighborhood of averaging a triple double for a season makes you pretty good- but great? I don't toss that word around lightly. If we're willing to call LeBron "great," who else do we have to include for consistency's sake? Sounds like a slippery slope to me.

In any case, now you see what I mean regarding the ridiculous concept here. That being: LeBron is good! And don't you tell Gregg otherwise! Now, you'd think it would be really easy to write an article about this topic. And yet, you'd think wrong. Because Gregg immediately tries to leap across a gaping void of logic by implying that people who are tired of hearing about LeBron don't think LeBron is really badass at basketball. And thus the diaster.

All of you silly people who are tired of LeBron James, do me a favor. Maybe you're a sportswriter or a blogger and you've written something like my friend at the Orlando Sentinel, Mike Bianchi, wrote on Monday.

Go read that article if you have time- although it contains a bunch of lame Reillyesque pop culture references, it's pretty well reasoned and takes one great cheap shot at NBA players and their propensity for fathering a lot of children. Take that, Shawn Kemp! It's 2009, but we're far from being done with making fun of you! But anyways, for the purposes of this post, Mike makes its clear in that article several times over that he thinks LeBron is awesome. Really, really awesome. Mike is just sick of the hype surrounding LeBron (and specifically his buzzer beater from game 2 of the Cavs-Magic series). That's his thesis. He also tosses in some stuff about LeBron not having won a title, which is a bit of a criticism; but the majority of the article is just about hype.

Being unable to separate someone's distaste for the public's/media's treatment of a subject from that person's public/media-independent opinion of that subject is something most high school graduates should be capable of doing. This makes me wonder if Gregg is capable of other basic thought processes. Does he always remember to put his pants on before his shoes, or just sometimes? Can he open a tightly sealed jar without resorting to temptation and smashing it against the counter to get at the delicious pickles inside?

Maybe you're a reader and you've gone onto a message board and nodded along with something like you'll find here at on Monday.

Among all the moronic sports columnists out there, only Gregg is a big enough dumbass to actually complain about what random internet commenters say. I honestly feel bad for the guy.

Here's the favor I need: Print out whatever you wrote. Print out whatever you read. The story, the message-board post, whatever. Print it. And save it. And 20 years from now, go back and read it.

You'll be humiliated.

You'll mostly be humiliated for actually following through on a stupid and pointless task Gregg Doyel assigned to you twenty years ago.

Because by then it will be obvious: The game's greatest player was right in front of your eyes. And you missed it.

Somehow, by being annoyed by all the coverage LeBron is getting, you'll have missed all the coverage about how great LeBron is. Quite the paradox.

The same thing is happening in golf. Tiger Woods is the greatest player in that sport's history. He hasn't played long enough to wipe every last vestige of Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer from the record book, but he will. He'll get there. And when he does, when Tiger Woods is officially and not just subjectively recognized as the greatest golfer of all time, who will you be? Will you be one of the people who recognized his greatness -- I don't care if you appreciate it, just recognize it -- or will you be one of the people who didn't?

1. So people like Mike Bianchi, who clearly recognize LeBron's greatness (odds that Gregg didn't actually read that article: pretty good) but are tired of hearing about him, have failed to recognize his greatness?

2. Wait, which athlete are we talking about again?

This is like being alive in the year 25. If Jesus was really around back then, healing dead people and turning water to wine, imagine being one of the negative knuckleheads who didn't believe.

Boy, would your face be red in the afterlife!

Did I just compare LeBron to Jesus?

Looks like I did.

At least I didn't compare LeBron to Tim Tebow. That would be blasphemy.

If you didn't read Mike Bianchi's article, he made several jokes about the similarities in treatment received between LeBron and Tebow. So apparently Gregg agrees with that sentiment- that the media's gladhanding of Tebow is (also) incredibly tiring at times. But for some reason Gregg is still mad. At someone. For something. I guess that straw man over there must have looked at him funny.

This story isn't just about LeBron. It's about you. Take some personal inventory and try to decide, if you're one of the growing number of people sick of LeBron James, why that is.

Because the star-obsessed 24 hour sports media cycle won't stop fucking talking about him and analyzing every single thing he does?

OK, at this point Gregg goes into how a discussion about how the fact that LeBron hasn't won any titles is not a legitimate reason to not acknowledge his greatness. It's still a bit of a straw man, as anyone who brings that up as a detriment to LeBron's credentials obviously understands that it's a "wait and see" situation. No one is saying "he hasn't won a title AND HE NEVER WILL, EVER." They're pointing out that he hasn't won one- yet. It's not like we're comparing Karl Malone or Charles Barkley to other all-time great PFs. We're comparing a guy who is still in the prime of his career with guys like Jordan and Magic who are done. But in the interest of not repeating myself 50 times about what a mental midget Gregg is, I'm going to pick and choose pieces of tardery from the rest of the article.

Put it this way: Tim Duncan won four NBA titles. Wilt Chamberlain won two. Does that make Duncan twice the player? Please. Chamberlain is the dominant big man in NBA history. Duncan is a very good player, maybe one of the top 25 at any position, ever. But between the two, there is no comparison.

I like his use here of a simple multiplier to determine who is "X times" better than someone else. As if anyone is saying "Jordan won six titles, and Duncan has won four- therefore Jordan is 1.5 times better. But if Duncan wins another one Jordan will only be 1.2 times better."

Imagine this. Imagine LeBron switching places with Los Angeles' Kobe Bryant. Give James a frontcourt of Andrew Bynum, Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol. LeBron and those Lakers would have gone 78-4.

Wow. The Lakers won 65 games this year. So now LeBron is worth 13 more wins than Kobe over the course of a season? Man, I among all people think Kobe is an asstwat, but I think that's a little much.

The greatest player in college basketball history, Pete Maravich, never won a title.

Hmmm. You can't really just say that Maravich was objectively the greatest player in college basketball history. You can make a case for Lew Alcindor and Oscar Robertson, among others.

The greatest quarterback in the NFL, Dan Marino, never won a Super Bowl.

Hmmmmmmmmmmmm. You also can't objectively say that. You're can make cases for Montana, Elway, Unitas, and, dare I say it, that guy who used to play for the Packers. It's just not that clear cut.

The greatest baseball player, statistically, of all time -- Barry Bonds -- never won a World Series. You can argue Bonds' legitimacy, what with the steroid question, but you cannot argue that he was the best player in baseball for almost 15 years. By a large margin.

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. Again, no. Not to this extent, anyways. I'm more of the opinion that Bonds was probably the best player in the game for about 10 years. I mean, he was pretty amazingly ridiculously super duper awesome. But even if you want to extend the window to a full 15 years, presumably from about 1990 to 2004, you fucking definitely cannot say he was the greatest, over that whole time period, by "a large margin." No. You can't. You have to factor in his declining defense, especially during his four best offensive years (2001-2004). You have to factor in the presence of other all-time greats whose peaks coincided roughly with Barry's, like Greg Maddux, Sammy Sosa, and Jeff Bagwell. Was he better than those guys? Almost definitely. (Maddux has the best case against him, but it is obviously tough to compare pitchers and hitters. Whatever.) By a large margin? No. And not for all 15 of those years.

Look at where this article has gone. From simple and obvious premise, to tragic use of the straw man to make an argument unrelated to the premise, to mildly relevant side argument full of outrageous and completely batshit-crazy claims. How did we get here? It's staggering to think about. Again, I worry about the problems Gregg encounters while trying to write coherently seeping over into other parts of his life. How often does he set his house on fire pouring himself a bowl of cereal? What's it like to go somewhere in a car he's driving? How many pedestrians does he usually hit? Does he ever reach his intended destination before the car runs out of gas or the engine block explodes? It really seems like anything is possible with this guy. He's a fucking train wreck. A complete and total fucking train wreck.

So here we are. LeBron James. An annual threat to win the NBA scoring title, as he did last year, and one of the best passers in the game. And the second-leading vote getter for the 2009 NBA Defensive Player of the Year. He does it all, and he makes it look easy.

And you're sick of him?

Great as he is, yes, some people are. And because I have a brain I can understand why.

Or, more galling, you don't even understand what you're watching?

No one you've mentioned or referred to has said this. At any point. Ever. This isn't even a straw man, it's an air man.

Maybe the problem isn't LeBron. Maybe the problem is you.

Sounds like a line you'd use during an alcoholism intervention.

Try watching lacrosse. Because you can't handle basketball.

Burn! Burn burn burn burn burn! On everyone who doesn't love hearing about LeBron all the time! But especially on lacrosse! Out of the way, NASCAR and pro wrestling. According to Gregg Doyel, lacrosse is taking your place at the top of the "sports for dummies" list. Presumably for some LeBron-related reason.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Horses Aren't People

Siblings carry Barbaro's legacy, capture imagination of fans

WILMINGTON, Del. — As the runaway leader galloped down the stretch at Delaware Park, the Barbaro nation roared again.

I didn't even know Barbaro nation existed. I hate teams/horses/countries that have followings called "nations".

This time, the cheers were for Nicanor. He is the oldest of three full brothers of Barbaro, the Thoroughbred star who grabbed the attention of horse racing fans and the sports world with his 2006 try for the Triple Crown, then touched hearts beyond the track with his fight for life following a leg fracture in the Preakness.

Touched hearts beyond the track? I'm pretty sure that nobody who wasn't already a horse racing fan had their heart touched.

After dominating the Kentucky Derby, Barbaro was 6-0 and favored in the Preakness. Before the first turn, he sustained a hind leg fracture. He was euthanized in January 2007 due to a foot condition called laminitis.

More like lame-initis.

Now fans who prayed for him and mourned his death are watching his siblings grow up via the Internet and the interstates — and looking for signs that there might be another great one.

It's like Barbaro was the messiah or something. These poor fans are such devoted fans, awaiting the consolation of the Triple Crown.

One fan drove from Bristol, Conn., on Wednesday to see Nicanor win by a mile (actually 15¼ lengths) at the same track where Barbaro won his first race.

The ghost of Barbaro lives on at the track, spurring his brother on to honor his memory.

"A 10-hour round trip to see a two-minute race. It was worth it 100%," said Gregory Jones, 42, noting he shares a March 15 birthday with Nicanor.

That's... awesome. Not only did he drive ten hours to watch a low-grade horse race, he proudly notes that he shares a birthday with... a horse.

Karen Line, 43, here from Wilkes-Barre, Pa., follows "every possible detail" about the brothers on Internet blogs.

dan-bob, 25, here from internet blogosphere, follows "every possible detail" about the Barbaro saga on internet sports news sites.

"We are hoping one of them will take the Triple Crown," she says.

"I am hoping that news stories about Barbaro keep coming out so I can spur Larry B's rage to new heights," he says.

Bloodlines are studied at the betting windows and valued on the breeding farms. Dynaformer, the stallion whose matings to La Ville Rouge produced Barbaro and his brothers, has a stud fee of $150,000 per live foal.

I'm glad all these fans are in it for the sentimental value of these inspiring horses, who fight against all odds to make their owners enough money to buy a yacht for their new yacht.

But Saturday's Preakness in Baltimore, the second leg of the Triple Crown, will be won at the finish line.

As opposed to all those races that were won at the starting gate.

The long road to get there is fraught with uncertainty, and family ties provide no guarantees. Like Barbaro, the brothers are colored bay with white markings on their foreheads. But how much they resemble Barbaro on the track remains to be seen.

These horses will have to overcome incredible odds, fighting for a chance at glory, much like human sports players have to. This is such an inspirational story!

Nicanor, a 3-year-old, hadn't won in three starts in his year of eligibility for the Triple Crown. Instead of getting ready for the Preakness, he was entered here in a maiden race for horses who had never won.

So all these blogo-fans of Barbaro should have known that Nicanor sucks at winning races... but, being true die-hard fans, they still root for him.

Roy and Gretchen Jackson, the couple who owned Barbaro and now own the siblings, say they won't saddle them with high expectations. Patience is the trademark of their trainer, Michael Matz, who also trained Barbaro.

Roy and Gretchen Jackson spend millions of dollars on horses. They're probably richer than Jesus. How nice of them not to "saddle" them with high expectations.

Says Roy: "It would be a miracle if we ever had another one like Barbaro."

What was so great about Barbaro anyways? Six horses in the last eleven years have won the first two legs of the the Triple Crown. When you compare Barbaro to them, considering that he only won the first race, Barbaro doesn't have a leg to stand on!

Well, he didn't have four legs to stand on after the Preakness.

Barbaro finished with $2.3 million in earnings at the track. Had he gone on to become the first Triple Crown winner since 1978, he might have earned millions more as a breeding stallion.

And Gretchen and Roy Jackson could have bought a new horse and put him on their yacht so they can watch horses race on their yacht.

For his win at Delaware Park, Nicanor earned a modest $39,750.

Damn, that's modest.


Brown says "Fans of Barbaro" now is an Internet community of 2,000-4,000. It is a platform for horse welfare causes, Barbaro's legacy and brothers.

I sure hope these million dollar horses can get someone to advocate for their welfare. I hope the media picks up on this and the whole public can really get behind the horse welfare movement so these million dollar horses can get their story told.


Jockey Rosie Napravnik after riding Nicanor: "He was just out there having fun. He looked like he was really the best horse in the race on paper. Once the gate opened, he outran everybody."

Rosie, the horse was just out there having fun? Hey - why didn't anybody ask Nicanor if he was having fun? Oh, right, he's a fucking horse and can't talk.

Jackson says it's "completely" up to Matz whether to enter Nicanor in the third leg of the Triple, Crown, the Belmont Stakes on June 6. So might Matz look to the Belmont?

Too bad it's not up to Nicanor. He's just having fun.

"I would say 99.9 (%) that he's not going to run in the Belmont," he says.

Makes sense, 'cause he sucks at winning races.

His fans will be there if he runs. On Wednesday, Ann Pournaras, 55, came here from Fleming, N.J., to see one of the brothers she follows on the blogs.

On Saturday, dan-bob, 25, didn't have anything better to do than make fun of middle-aged horse racing fans on his blog.

"I hope one is great," she said, while holding a winning $50 ticket on Nicanor.

"I hope my parents don't kick me out of the basement," he said, while holding a bag of Cheetos.

Matz will be looking for signs of whether Lentenor is ready for the "stresses and the pressures and the distractions" of the track.

Horse racing: 90% mental. The other half is horse steroids.

"You wouldn't send a Little League baseball player to play in the majors until he's seasoned enough," Matz says.

"I wouldn't make serious comparisons between animals and people," dan-bob says.

The numbers are in the Jacksons' favor. In 2007, The Blood-Horse magazine analyzed the 11 Triple Crown winners and their 39 full siblings. Of the 39, seven (18%) won stakes races, the premium events. That's five times greater than the general rate.

Don't expect stats like this every horse racing post. Most of these posts only exist to make fun of horse racing.

"The full siblings of Barbaro have a better chance of being superior racehorses than the general population because Barbaro was a great horse," says Ernest Bailey, a geneticist at the University of Kentucky's Gluck Equine Research Center.

That seems like fallacious reasoning: the reason Barbaro's siblings are likely to be good horses isn't at all because Barbaro was a good horse, its because Barbaro's parents were good horses.

The Jacksons were in Louisville the weekend before the Derby for the unveiling of a Barbaro statue outside Gate 1 at Churchill Downs. Fans were there in force, wearing his blue and lime green colors. They cheered when the covering was removed from the bronze statue of Barbaro in full gallop. The day after Mine That Bird won the Derby, his team placed his mantle of roses on the railing around the statue. Roses later were given to fans.


During Barbaro's battle for survival at the New Bolton Center in Pennsylvania, fans sent flowers and gifts and flooded the Jacksons with letters and poems wishing him well. That continues.


"There's never a week goes by that we don't receive at least one or two communications from fans. Somebody just sent me a gold cross that they wanted to be buried with him," Gretchen says.

Awesome. Horse racing fans are so fucking legit, they mail gold crosses to absurdly rich owners hoping to get the cross interred with a horse that was cremated two years ago.

"That isn't possible (Barbaro's ashes are interred at the base of the statue) … but it's still so ongoing, the dedication of so many to him."

The Jacksons probably pawned the cross to buy more horses.

Says Roy, "For some reason, he just captured the interest of the public."

I wish my million-dollar investments captured the sentimental interest of the public.

Kathleen Anderson was veterinarian to Barbaro and now is in the same role with Nicanor and Lentenor at Fair Hill.

"I think everybody wants to see a fairytale ending," she says. " … And I think the hope is that Nicanor, Lentenor, one of the lineage will come up to his (Barbaro's) standard.

I think Larry B wants to see an ending involving a lot of dead horses.

And we never know until the story is over."

I think I know before the story is over, thanks to the foreshadowing of this article: Barbaro's brothers will lose a lot of races, horse racing fans will continue to do idiotic things, and Larry B will punch a lot of inanimate objects.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Hiatus Over

I was reading a "newspaper" this morning on a train (apparently those things were huge back in the 1960s or something), and I stumbled across a thing written by Rick Telander of the Chicago Sun-Times that made me miss my long months away from all you fine fellows here at FireJay.

To say it was a bad day for Sox is an understatement

I'd say it's a pretty decent description. They lost a baseball game, and a decent-ish trade idea fell through. But pray tell, Ricky, why is this the apocalypse?

And how was your day? I guarantee you it wasn't White Sox bad.

The Whipped Sox, my friends, should have slept through Thursday.

You know those White Sox....always running ridiculous errands for their girlfriends and never spending time with anyone else.

They should have found a time warp past Thursday and exited somewhere far, far down the continuum, in a place where the team, the attitude and the future all have possibilities.

I'm right on page with this. There are no possibilities for the White Sox right now. Not even losing. Just nothingness. And let's not forget that attitude! So possibilityless! No doubt that's behind that oh-so-glamorous 17-23 record!

(Psssssssst. Rick. You used the wrong word, dude! And you totally suck at writing! Teehee!)

The Sox lost by three touchdowns to the Minnesota Twins at U.S. Cellular Field

They lost by 19 runs. You are trying way too hard to work in football analogies, bro. You're allowed to say that when a team loses by either 18 or 21.

in a game so colossally bad that if there are such things as game tapes that must be burned, this was them.

We are sorry to report that the English Language was found dead in an empty apartment today at the age of 1571.

Bad pitching, bad fielding, bad hitting, bad baserunning, bad managing. That's how you get shellacked 20-1.

Did I miss anything else?

No, that's really it.

I did.

No, you didn't.

There was the humiliation of having a ballpark about as full as a field of carrots -- before the carrots have sprouted.

Dude. This was a fucking DAY GAME on a THURSDAY. Were you expecting a goddamn sellout?

The Cubs were out of town

Irrelevant. Very, very irrelevant.

the temperature was in the 80s

People were at work.

the clouds had vanished,

It was May 21st.

a light breeze blew from the south,

The team is 6 games below .500

the Sox were playing the Twins -- the hated ''piranhas'' of Ozzie Guillen's verbal creativity

About the only legitimate point you made.

and the clean, well-appointed park was about half-empty.

I'd call it half-full, or well over half, as you are about to state.

There were 23,048 attendees (56.7 percent full) at The Cell, to be precise.

This is very, very good for a day game on a Thursday for a team 6 games below .500 in a crappy division. I can probably find you 20 teams that would never have managed that attendance mark. You sir, are a pooheaded fuckshit.



Jake Peavy.

The San Diego Padres' 2007 Cy Young Award winner basically told the Sox they stink.

So he elected to stay with the San Diego Padres. Huh. Good logic there.

Did they need that?

About as much as Rosie O'Donnell needs to be told she's not runway material.

Just an awesome joke.

Hey, a big backslap to K-Will for even getting this potential trade on the table and fiddling around with it! Know what I'm saying?

Kenny Williams has made more trades than any MLB manager in the past 7 years. You're making it sound like he's terrified of doing this sort of thing.

You do remember the Cubs were the team that really wanted Peavy during the offseason -- and he really wanted them -- but the Padres and Cubs couldn't work out the compensation, so the thing fell through.

So this would have been a nice middle finger to the crosstown National League team that always hogs the Chicago headlines and attendance figures.

I'm sure that was the first thing on Kenny Williams's mind. I don't know how many times it has to be explained to writers. The Chicago White Sox do not give a shit about the Chicago Cubs. They play 6 games a year, and then that's it.

When the Sox came from nowhere to try to get Peavy, it shocked everybody in these parts.

But, uh, maybe general manager Ken Williams should have gotten word from the pitcher himself that he would come to the American League team -- Peavy has veto power over his trade rights -- before figuring out the rest of the equation.

Reliable sources have suggested that Williams knew Peavy would never come, and that this whole thing was a sham to pump up Peavy's trade value. Just a thought.

Williams and Padres GM Kevin Towers had come to an agreement, but what the hell did that mean? It was like changing Paris Hilton's lip-gloss color without getting her consent first.

I like this guy! He's got fresh one-liners!

The embarrassment of Peavy's renunciation of the Sox was so profound that it will linger for months, if not years, tarnishing the franchise that just can't seem to get over the hump of second-class status.

"Rick Telander" is clearly a pseudonym for "Jay Mariotti". You think you're exaggerating a bit there, Jay?

The guy didn't even use first-person English. (emphasis his)

''As of right now, this is the best place for us to be,'' Peavy said late Thursday, ''this'' being wretched San Diego. ''We made that decision for the time being.''

Wow. He used "we", and "us" (referring to his family and possibly agent) instead of "I" and "me". Take that, White Sox.

Is Peavy, like, a platoon?

He was talking about his family, you fuckhat.

Oh, this was sad, sad. Dumb, dumb.

Not as sad and dumb as your writing! Heyooooooooooo!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Official Spring 2009 Bill Simmons/Boston Schadenfreude Post

Live (actually last Thursday) from Bill's garage: It's a night of pain, suffering, and horrendous analysis that we can all look back upon fondly next time Bill writes a 7,000 word column about the Celtics/Patriots/Red Sox/Bruins(?) and their legendary fans. You know, the Beantown faithful who are capable of carrying their teams to victory under any circumstances. Well except game 7s at home- they're pretty much useless in those. The "marathon chat" from which I pulled all of these was, as advertised, pretty fucking long. So I really had to work to narrow things down and pick out the really truly inane things Bill said for the purposes of this post. Sit back and enjoy, everyone.

Keep in mind, when Bill was saying all this stuff the Celtics were busy choking down the stretch in game 6, not game 7. Their game 7 loss was nearly 72 hours away from happening. Oh, and fucktarded opinions frequently espoused by Bill/his chatters regarding Boston, its teams, and its players will be in ALL CAPS. A thick Boston accent will be (poorly) phonetically spelled out, in the spirit of Kissing Suzy Kolber's TAWMY FROM QUINZEE.

SportsNation Bill Simmons: Dwight Howard... the worst great player ever? Discuss.

What does that even mean, you ask? Well, Howard pretty much made Boston's (admittedly depleted) frontcourt his collective bitch for the duration of the series. As a Celtics fan, Bill's response to this is to attack Howard and claim that he's nothing special. Cool. It's pretty a pretty standard defense mechanism used by 15 year old girls against each other. In games 6 and 7, Howard averaged 17.5, 19, and 4 blocks. For the playoffs he's averaging 19.6, 16.6, and 2.8. If that makes you the "worst great player ever," I think Orlando fans will live with it.

Ben (Denver, CO): Hey Bill, whose job is it on the Celtics bench to alert Kevin Garnett when the camera is on him so that he knows when to look intense?

SportsNation Bill Simmons: Are you kidding? It's amazing KG hasn't charged the court yet! They have to hose him down after games.


SportsNation Bill Simmons: Rondo should have made 3rd team All NBA... how did Shaq get on it? Put up an 18-8, team missed the playoffs, they couldn't give him away at the deadline, he got a coach fired. That's 3rd team All-NBA? And why were Gasol and Duncan considered forwards?

WE GOT RAHHHHHBBED! THE LEAGUE IS AGAINST US, THEY DON'T WANT TO RECOGNIZE THE POWAHHH AND HISTORY THAT IS CELTICS NATION! No, but really, the reason is because there were six guards better than him in the league this year. The two guards on the third team were Tony Parker and Chauncey Billups. Parker at 22/7/3/1 steal and Billups at 18/6.5/3/1 both probably had better seasons than Rondo with his 12/8/5/2. Any arguments about Shaq are moot. Each All NBA team is made up of one center, two fowards, and two guards. We can't just change the rules because the 7th best guard in the league one season played for the Celtics.

Matt (Colorado): Dwight Howard is becoming the most overrated player in the league, and everyone is starting to realize it. What can he do on offense beside dunk? Then he calls out his coach, when it's the team's fault for the choke job, he has a lot of work to do to become a premier center in this league in my mind.

SportsNation Bill Simmons: My issue is that he's not getting better, and also, he gets worse at the end of games. He's like Ben Wallace with a jump hook.

No one will confuse Howard's offensive skillset with a young Tim Duncan's. He can certainly do more than just dunk though. The coach call-out seemed to work pretty well though. As for him "not getting better-" it can be difficult to get better when you're already averaging 21/14/3. But his points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks per 36 minutes all improved from 2007-08 to 2008-09. So yeah. Maybe he needs a few more low post moves, but he's only 23. He still has time. Also, the assertion of Matt (who is probably a Boston bandwagon douchenozzle who has never been within three states of Massachusetts) that Howard "has a lot of work to do to bececome an elite center in this league" is probably stupider than the stupidest thing Simmons has never said. Go play on some train tracks, Matt.

SportsNation Bill Simmons: By the way, I boned up for this chat by doing some real-time writing on Twitter this week. Here's the link: Don't think I won't rehash a couple of those jokes tonight. Do NOT put it past me.

SportsNation Bill Simmons: My flip-flop on Twitter tranks among my greatest flip-flops ever - you'd have to go back to me liking the Joe Forte pick in 2001 and then turning on it for a comparable 180.

We've got an even better flip-flop coming up later in this very chat. I'm getting all tingly just waiting to write about it. Oh, speak of the devil-

Jamesa(ottawa): Do we consider you a bandwagoning Bruins fan?

SportsNation Bill Simmons: How dare you. I loved the B's as much as the Celts and Sox and Pats once upon a time. The owner pushed me away. Now we have a salary cap and he can't screw us anymore. I have been quietly easing back the past 2 years. It still hurts and I still hate him.

Excuse me. Can you go over that one more time?

Jamesa(ottawa): Do we consider you a bandwagoning Bruins fan?

SportsNation Bill Simmons: How dare you. I loved the B's as much as the Celts and Sox and Pats once upon a time. The owner pushed me away. Now we have a salary cap and he can't screw us anymore. I have been quietly easing back the past 2 years. It still hurts and I still hate him.

One... one more time, please.

Jamesa(ottawa): Do we consider you a bandwagoning Bruins fan?

SportsNation Bill Simmons: How dare you. I loved the B's as much as the Celts and Sox and Pats once upon a time. The owner pushed me away. Now we have a salary cap and he can't screw us anymore. I have been quietly easing back the past 2 years. It still hurts and I still hate him.

Wow. Wow wow wow wow wow wow. Wow wow wow wow wow wow wow wow wow wow wow wow wow wow wow wow wow wow. Wow wow. Let's look at the pieces here.

The owner pushed me away.

(Said in a Dateline NBC's Chris Hansen-like tone): So the owner... pushed you away... did he? Interesting. Are you saying it has nothing to do with the fact that the Bruins missed the playoffs in 2005-06 and 2006-07?

Now we have a salary cap and he can't screw us anymore.

That's interesting, because that very same salary cap existed as of 2005. You'd think that would have drawn you back in then, no? As we'll see below, that process didn't begin until more than two and half years later. I mean, if you were a real fan who really cared about the team but only stopped because the owner nickeled and dimed you one too many times, you would have immediately started caring again once the salary cap kicked in and fixed that problem. Right? I mean, if you didn't want to sound like a fucking fairweather shithead hypocrite fucknugget, that's what you would probably do. In my opinion.

I have been quietly easing back the past 2 years.

On April 21, 2008, about thirteen months ago, you said this:

"I am an NHL widower. I have made that clear many times. I cared about the Bruins for years and years, and up until last week, I had stopped caring about them completely."

Very interesting. You wrote that article in the middle of the first Bruins playoff series in four years. And we're supposed to believe that your revived fandom has nothing to do with winning, and everything to do with the owner. The pattern is pretty telling: 2005-06, no playoffs, no interest from Bill. 2006-07, no playoffs, no interest from Bill. 2007-08 regular season, Bruins teeter on the brink of a playoff berth and only clinch one at the last second, no interest from Bill. April 2008, Bruins are back in the playoffs... interest from Bill. It's a pretty nifty fucking coincidence if you ask me. (For a more complete breakdown of Bill's blatant fairweather fandom, read Jack M's take on it here.) Oh, and via that post, from Bill's own rules of being a fan:

" can't start rooting for a team, back off when they're in a down cycle, then renew the relationship once the team starts winning again. All those Cowboys fans who jumped off the bandwagon in the late-'80s, jumped back on during the Emmitt/Aikman Era, then jumped back off in the late-'90s ... you know who you are. You shouldn't even be allowed out in public."

But apparently if you lie and just say you actually stopped rooting for them because the owner hurt your feelings, it's OK. Awesome. Bill Simmons, you are a fucking hypocrite. You're an insult to other, less transparent hypocrites. You fucking make me sick. The fact that you are's biggest draw is the saddest media-related story of the past ten years. Sadder than the dozens of major newspaper closures from the past couple years. It's a fucking travesty, plain and simple. You. Are. An. Asshole. Of the greatest possible magnitude. DIE.

But paradoxically, I have to say that this is perhaps my favorite chat answer of all time. Just look at the indignancy- it drips off the page. HOW-UH DAHHHHHRE YOU. I'M A DIEHAHHHHD BRUINS FAN. I JUST STOPPED BEING ONE FOR A FEW YEA-AHHHS BECAUSE THEY DIDN'T MAKE THE PLAYOFFS. WHAT'S WRONG WITH THAT?

Methinks the lady doth protest too much.

Dan (Cambridge, MA): Ok, Bill, serious question here. I was at the Bruins game for Game 5, and it was awesome. Insanely loud. When the sucker punch happened, the place erupted. I'm sitting in the upper section along one of the blue lines, two rows from the top, and this guy in the row in front of me chucks his water bottle in disgust. The bottle landed in CENTER ICE. From three rows from the top of the upper deck. It started the mass garbage throwing from everyone else, which was also awesome, but my question is, is that even possible, or was it a glitch in the Matrix or something?


SportsNation Bill Simmons: Scal for three!!!! I think the concussion headband gave him super powers.


SportsNation Bill Simmons: Is it a bad sign that our 2009 Defensive Player of the Year can't keep Kendrick Perkins from getting an easy 5 foot jumphook?

No award winning defensive player has ever given up an easy basket before. Ever. Dwight Howard- really just a shorter version of Shawn Bradley.

Adam (New Rochelle, NY): Bill, have you ever seen a team chemistry that has soured so dramatically so fast as we've seen from the Magic in the last 2 games of their series with Boston?

SportsNation Bill Simmons: It really started with the Anthony Johnson/Van Gundy incident in Game 3... even though they won that was pretty goofy even for the NBA.

It really worked out pretty well in the end, too.

SportsNation Bill Simmons: Look at Van Gundy's outfit tonight! My god! I can't get enough of it. He looks like he's on the sixth day of a cheap cruise and tonight is "Expensive Dinner" night.

SportsNation Bill Simmons: Shard just killed Scal: Tirico called it "no contest." I think SVG is Boston's MVP in this series. It should be over already.

Casey (Dallas, TX): The shortest coffee table book would be "Games SVG could keep a lead."

SportsNation Bill Simmons: You guys are more on fire than House and Scal.

I love it. I love it I love it I love it.

Paul (Berlin, Germany): What happened to Ray Allen in this series?! It is sad to see him play with so tired legs, when he was the most important player in the bulls series... May be he could ask mikki moore, if he could borrow his legs, since he doesn`t need them any time soon...

SportsNation Bill Simmons: The Celts need rest. They're at the 200-game mark since Nov. 2007 and this is their 39th playoff game in 2 springs. They've played every other day for like a month. They need 2-3 days off.

They had two days off before games 1, 3, and 4 of the Chicago series and game 7 of the Orlando series. They went 1-3 in those games. Also, except for maybe baseball pitchers, I'm not buying for a second that last season has a bearing on this season at all in terms of wear and tear. The Celtics had a long 2008 playoffs. They also had almost 5 months to recover from them. They're professional athletes who do nothing else with their lives- I'm pretty sure they entered 2008-09 just as rested as anyone else in the league, or if less rested, negligably so. They also clinched a playoff spot back in March and had plenty of time down the stretch to rest up their key guys from a playoff run.

Danish (Toronto ON): "They need 2-3 days off?" You mean like the Cavs have right now? Lebron is going to crush your squad.

SportsNation Bill Simmons: Look... we know. We just want to get there. And then, hopefully, LeBron will sprain an ankle or blow out a hammy. By the way, the goal is to defend the title.

Lord knows Bill has only ripped into the 1986 Lakers about 25,000 times for "intentionally" losing in the Western Conference Finals because they wanted to avoid the juggernaut Celtics, and thus doing a horrible job of defending their 1985 title. I can't wait to hear him defend the 2009 Celtics. Sure, KG was hurt. They also didn't even make the conference finals, losing to a team with the "worst great player ever" at the helm and an allegedly pathetic coach. Funny, you'd think Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Co. would be able to get past a team as shitty as the Magic. I fucking despise the Lakers, but I almost hope they win it all now just to get Bill to either A) shut the fuck up about this topic or B) dig himself an even deeper hole while trying to defend his undefendable position.

SportsNation Bill Simmons: Danny Crawford just swing this game with the pushoff foul on Perk's followup. Seven point swing. Now it's tied. By the way, name a big guy who doesn't push off with their left arm when they dunk. The list is zero.


Allen (Boston): With Baby on the bench, who's gonna shove that pudgy 12 year old over when we win?

SportsNation Bill Simmons: Is the kid there? I forgot to look. I wish Big Baby had shoved him harder - little kids should not be sitting courtside at NBA games. That's bad parenting. period.

That kid was, as Allen says, like 12. Twelve year olds are more than capable of sitting courtside at a basketball game. (As opposed to, say, five year olds.) Bill is being an idiot again.

lancter (Boston): odds of KG coming back for the cavs-celts series?

SportsNation Bill Simmons: Will Carroll said it on the BS Report today: Four to one.

For the Cavs-who series? Oops!

SportsNation Bill Simmons: Canes scored. 1-1. Nobody said this was gonna be easy. My Lord, Shard can go by Baby every time. How dumb is SVG????

Just dumb enough to get out-dumbed by Doc Rivers, evidently.

SportsNation Bill Simmons: Good point. I demand a Cristal Taylor reality show. Wow, nobody picks up dumber fouls than Dwight Howard.

He sucks! And you can watch him continue to suck tonight on ESPN in game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

SportsNation Bill Simmons: Dick Bavetta just got the memo from DS: "I want you to foul out Perkins and do it right now."


Joe (Bristol): Um, you're not including Hanks' world class turn as Charlie Wilson? That was a HOF performance for so many reasons.

SportsNation Bill Simmons: Great point. That was a potentially great movie that Julia Roberts murdered like SVG murdered Orlando's 2009 season.

Keep those Van Gundy jokes coming!

SportsNation Bill Simmons: I gotta hand it to Howard tonight: He is playing like he gives a crap. 9 offensive boards so far. The question remains: Why didn't he do this every game? It's the playoffs!

No Celtic ever had a bad game this playoffs- they always played super awesome. Ray Allen's 5 point, 4 turnover effort in game 6? Hey man, I watched that game. He obviously was still playing like he gave a crap. What Howard was doing earlier in the series was totally different.

SportsNation Bill Simmons: FYI: if the announcers are praising you for being "super aggressive" in a playoff game, odds are you were mailing it in.

Hopefully he doesn't mail in any games against the Cavs- the Magic are sure going to need him if they want to advance to the Finals.

SportsNation Bill Simmons: My buddy Sully reports that that John Cena was sitting courtside wearing a Celts jersey and now he's wearing a Magic jersey - Orlando must have made him change it because they gave him the tix. Stay classy, Orlando.

No other organization has ever done this, ever. Only the Magic. Whenever I watch [Team X] games on TV, they constantly show celebrities in the crowd wearing other teams' apparell. (Notable unsarcastic exception- LeBron wearing a Yankees hat at an Indians/Yankees playoff game in 2007. Obviously the Indians didn't give him those tickets. Man, if you're from Cleveland, that's gotta hurt.)

SportsNation Bill Simmons: SVG Wired: "LISTEN! LISTEN WE GOTTA MAKE PLAYS! LISTEN!!!!" He might never work again.

Well, he's probably working right now. Less than 24 hours to go until his team tips off against top seeded Cleveland in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Evilgrin72 (Orlando, FL): I'm going to beat the rush and start putting For Sale signs in SVG's yard right now. BRB.


SportsNation Bill Simmons: Game time. What a collapse. Thought we had it. The good news: Celts have 2 days off before Game 7. They need it.

I blame Dwight Howard for Boston's game 6 loss- he played so crappily that the Celtics let their guard down. And Stan Van Gundy's shitty coaching permeated the arena and caused the Celtics to play worse. Only possible explanation.

Nate (Des Moines, IA): Celtics are going to play their 5th game 7 in 13 months on Sunday, your theory that they're drained is warranted.

Worst measuring stick for how drained a team is. Ever. What? Five separate games in a year-plus? How have they not died of dehydration yet?

mike (brighton): All of SG nation wants to know if youre coming out for game 7? And you going to be celebrating with us at Sullys? (knock on wood)

SportsNation Bill Simmons: Of course I'm coming back.

Yes. Yes yes yes yes yes. Oh, I hope he got up and left before the final horn in an effort to beat traffic. That's the sign of a true fan, after all, which we can be sure he is after he demonstrated his undying devotion to the Bruins.

Nate (Des Moines, IA): Again, Manny Ramirez didn't have an RBI in the ENTIRE 2004 ALCS Series against the Yanks. All you New York fans who want to say the World Series MVP is tainted: we didn't need him to smoke you after being down 0-3!!!!!

YANKEES SACK! YANKEES SACK! YANKEES SACK! YANKEES SACK! Ramirez also had a .400 OBP that series, which I'm sure did nothing to help Boston's chances. And don't worry about his 1.009 OPS, 43 HRs, and 130 RBIs during the 2004 regular season. Nope- just cherry pick one tiny little insignificant stat from a seven game span, and use it to prove that the YANKEES SACK! YANKEES SACK! YANKEES SACK!

Robert (Huntsville, Al): Do you feel any shame for saying you won't root for the B's until the owner is gone, and here you are rooting for them? I feel for you, I'm a Redskins fan. Every year I disown them because of Snyder but always end up rooting for them... Just wondering...

SportsNation Bill Simmons: The salary cap has made him irrelevant though. There's no way for him to be a soul-less miser. I hope we win the Cup, and then, as he's hoisting it over his head, he knocks himself unconscious with it.

The salary cap made him irrelevant in 2005. But I guess Bill is such a diehard fan that he wanted to be really sure that the owner wouldn't find some clever way to circumvent it- that's why he didn't start cheering for them until April 2008.

Rug (Yellowknife, NT, Canada): Seriously, as a sports fan and sports writer, how could you possibly have given up on this sport??? Other than because of Bettman's obvious attempt to alienate the league from the entire American population.

SportsNation Bill Simmons: BECAUSE MY OWNER WAS AN EFFING CHEAPSKATE!!!!!!!!!!!


Danny (Boston): I'm on my 11th beer of the 3rd period...i can't take this anymore


Tom (Vermont) : So at what point are you going to a Bruins game? Conference finals? Stanley Cup Finals? Jeremy Jacobs Memorial Night?

SportsNation Bill Simmons: I was supposed to go to Game 5 of B's-Habs with my Dad. Was super pumped. Then they swept. Never thought i'd be slightly disappointed by the Bruins sweeping Montreal.

Never thought I'd find myself going to Bruins playoff game anytime soon- that's why I gave up on them in 2005!

Chris (Jersey): Just my luck...I effing hate the NBA and watch back to back games to be able to participate in this chat, and now its all geared towards the NHL playoffs which I cant watch...I give up Simmons.

SportsNation Bill Simmons: You sounds like quite a sports fan!

Pot, meet kettle!

Dan NY, NY: What a phony you are for not watching the Bruins all regular season and pretending to be super nervous right now.

SportsNation Bill Simmons: That's total BS. I absolutely watched the Bruins this season - I watched more hockey than I let on. Remember, I have 4 TVs.

Yeah, it was last season where I didn't watch them at all until the playoffs started! Get your years straight.

SportsNation Bill Simmons: A game-winner by Scott Walker would have caused the biggest riot since 1776.

What's that you say? A series-winning overtime goal from the guy who half sucker punched a Boston player earlier in the series? That would supposedly cause a giant riot? Well, I sure hope it did when it happened about 30 minutes after Simmons wrote that sentence. Scott Walker is my favorite hockey player for the time being.

KB: Nice job of TSN bringing up the 0-20 stat. Even Canada likes to torture Boston fans


Greg (Boston: Everytime Walker touches the puck near the net, rage boils in my heart hoping it won't end like this...

Someone check on Greg and make sure he's OK. It's been a few days, maybe the rage is only simmering at this point.

Mike, Bruins Nation West: So proud of the Bruin fans! They're bringing it!

And every last one of them has been a huge fan since at least 2007. Alright, let's let Bill close this one down and let the schadenfreude wash over us.

SportsNation Bill Simmons: You gotta be kidding me.

SportsNation Bill Simmons: Worst.

SportsNation Bill Simmons: Case.

SportsNation Bill Simmons: Scenario.

SportsNation Bill Simmons: Time to go walking... thanks everybody.