Monday, March 22, 2010

Three Brief Items

1. Here's an interesting article about the frequency of upsets in the first round of the NCAA basketball tournament. In a nutshell, it suggests that the downward trend in upsets (till this year's aberration) was caused because the NCAA tweaked its formulas for seeding. Adjusting the RPI, plus allowing for some other factors, resulted in better seeding and, consequently, fewer upsets.

Proving, once again, that stats are ruining sports.

2. Jeff Pearlman, ever the nice guy, wrote an article called: Lessons of Washington, Gonzalez sagas: nice guys finish first. The article suggests that Ron Washington was forgiven an egregious transgression because he's a nice guy, and Bobby Gonzalez was fired because he isn't a nice guy.

Therefore, the lesson to be learned is that nice guys finish first.

I'm pretty sure that there are a few counterexamples out there. Readers?

God bless Jeff Pearlman. I enjoy some of his stuff, but man that guy likes flowers, Cinderellas, hopeful stories, hardworking people, honesty, and general morality. He's like Rick Reilly except he is a better writer.

3. Front-page news at on March 21: Vikings coach Brad Childress has officially stated that he's willing to tolerantly and patiently wait out Brett Favre until Brett Favre has taken "all the time he needs". This article is particularly wonderful because it contains the following quotation from Mr. Childress:

As a coach, you're a mother hen, you'd like him to be there for all of it. But I'm enough of a realist to know that's probably not going to be the case.

Rarely do you hear a 100% red-blooded American football coach refer to himself as a mother hen.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Leitch swings and misses again

I've actually enjoyed a few of Will Leitch's recent "team previews," particularly the one about the White Sox. However, this one about The Mariners, and more specifically, Ken Griffey Jr., is horrible.

Seattle Mariners: The Fake Tragedy Of Ken Griffey

Ken Griffey is almost assuredly, when he is elected to Cooperstown, going to have to hear about the fact that he didn't do steroids the rest of his life.

This is a terrible way to remember Griffey, and I suspect he hates being known as A Steroid Casualty even more than he hates that he played in an era where everyone else used steroids. (This is assuming, of course, that Griffey never used performance enhancing drugs, which is not something we should assume about anyone. But I digress.) This is Griffey's real curse: The brilliance of his playing career will always be overshadowed by the era he played in. His supposed halo will get in the way of anything he did on the field. Ken Griffey is damned.

1. Why is it so horrible to be remembered as the only power hitter of your era who didn't do steroids?

2. Anyone who remembers Griffey Jr. as anything other than an amazing hitter should stop following baseball.

It's in every story you read about him anymore. The most recent, and best, example is Jon Heyman's paen to Griffey's Veteran Influence at

[Quotes Heyman]

I understand Heyman's (repeated, and repeated) point, which is the worst thing you could do for Griffey.

You're agreeing with John Heyman. Now that you've identified the problem, the next step is eliminating it.

There's going to be a sad sack cloud around Griffey throughout the rest of baseball history, because of a fundamental contradiction: For all the talk about how steroids supposedly besmirched the record book, people look at his numbers and, almost unconsciously say, "Oh, man, imagine what he would have done if he had used steroids!" If Griffey would have used PEDs, the way you're supposed to use PEDs — in moderation, to keep yourself healthy and on the field, rather than to massively bulk — he might have played enough to hit 800 homers. (Note: My math should probably be checked there.)

Your math is irrelevant because the overarching point of this article is completely asinine. Again, if you spend your days wondering what Griffey could've done with steroids: you're an asshole who should stop watching baseball.

Futhermore, the real "what if?" regarding Griffey that people who actually care about baseball should wonder is "what if Ken Griffey Jr. didn't miss so many games due to injury?" Per his 162 game average, he would've already hit 819 home runs already. That would've been a pretty big deal.

He is praised for this, but there's a tragic bent just under the surface. What those stories really say is, "If Griffey had used PEDs, and we never found out about it, we'd consider him the greatest player of all time." They secretly wish that were the case.

Way to take an opinion held by morons and make it sounds like a consensus, Will.

Griffey is as much a part of the steroid era as anybody else is. Putting him in the What Might Have Been category, it makes it implicit. That's not how Griffey will want to be remembered. But that's how he will be.

In sum:

Griffey's stats might have been better if he'd taken steroids, and as evidenced by a John Heyman article, that's all anyone will remember Griffey for. We find this to be a tragic.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

I don't have enough time to break this down...

...but it's worth reading and reveling in its stupidity. Here is Will Leitch doing the same old song and dance about how he knows better than baseball players how to police their game without bench clearing brawls.

Oh well. Could be worse. He could be one of those rock-heads who rail against fighting in hockey.

Edit: I have some time and reader Adam expressed concern about my lack of clarity in this post about what I find obnoxious about it. Let me clarify:

Will Leitch is not criticizing the violent nature of sports in his post. He's just being condescending about baseball's. Just like people who write obnoxiously about how hockey players are so much more immature than they are because hockey players fight, so too Leitch is criticizing baseball's form of retribution, and suggesting in an asinine way that baseball would somehow be more respectable if players threw punches rather than curveballs into the meaty part of players' shoulders and thighs. Let's just look at a few choice quotations that really are obnoxiously simpering, and then I really have to go:

Fielder offended the baseball gods, because, for one brief trip around the bases, he appeared to be enjoying himself. Heaven forbid.

Yeah, that's what it's about Will. It's about punishing people for "enjoying themselves" GMAMFB.

This idea of players being thrown at by the opposing pitcher as the ultimate retribution for disrespecting the game is ridiculous. It's all part of this vague macho code that those who play baseball have invented so that it might seem they are playing a man's game, rather than a boy's.

Wow what an excessively condescending passage with no evidence whatsoever to back himself up. Leitch makes two claims here:

1.) That players throwing at other players is ridiculous

2.) That players throw at other players to prove something about their masculinity

When the premise for your first claim rests on your second claim's fundamental misunderstanding of the sport you are discussing...your first claim is pretty baseless. Some baseball players may throw at others sometimes for want of masculinity or appearance thereof. But at the end of the day, the idea revolves around a concept of honorability. Not masculinity.

Now, take issue with that if you will, but don't categorically mischaracterize that fundamental motivation. Everyone in baseball knows that if you do something out of line with the dignity of the game, you will pay a small physical price for it. It's not an inherently good thing by any means but it's also not inherently ridiculous.

Prince Fielder would be the first to tell you that.

Only in the pretty-boy world of baseball would the idea exist that the only way to get Clemens back would be to plunk him in the ass with a 75-mile-per-hour slider.

Oh I's not that retribution is inherently silly because retribution itself for a perceived slight is silly. It's because "it just ain't tuff enuff"

Those who play Australian Rules Football must be so amused by baseball retribution. Oh, you hit his butt with a baseball. Man, you must be pissed.

What a compelling argument.

They untuck their jerseys, they throw inside, they generally feel like layabouts, lollygaggers and raconteurs. (That is to say: They're having fun.)

This is one of the smuggest, purplest, piece of garbage passages I've ever read.

And let's just let this one speak for itself:

Sometimes I think baseball needs a little more Ty Cobb. (Minus the virulent racism.) That was a man who knew how to fight. Respect The Game? Yeah, sure, buddy, as soon as I remove my fist from your mouth. I don't want to see baseball turn into hockey. But a good fight, a real fight, every once in a while, might do everybody some good. Loosen everybody up, let them not act as if a goofy bowling baseball performance art piece was like snorting Lou Gehrig's ashes at second base or something. This pretend retribution, this ascot justice, it's a way to put a mock macho code on a game that, all told, isn't particularly macho. It might be nice if someone acknowledged that. And, jeez, if the fat vegetarian wants to make a dopey joke with his teammates after a meaningless walk-off home run, man, just let him already.

I didn't mean to break this down so please forgive the rudimentary nature of this breakdown. I just realized it wasn't eminently clear what sucked about this article (and believe me, this article sucked major donkey balls), so I thought I'd clear that up.

Monday, March 15, 2010

A Brief Post About A Stupid Comment Jon Heyman Made

Jon Heyman previews the best rotations, lineups, etc. I'm sure he writes some other stupid stuff, this being Jon Heyman, but let's focus on this:

The Red Sox, Yankees and White Sox rotations probably have stronger cases to be cited as the best overall starting staffs based on their top-heavy strengths. But it's hard to make a case any team has a rotation as solid as the Angels from top to bottom

No. No it's not hard to make a case. Let's ignore the White Sox, so as for me not to be accused of homerism and focus on how mind-numbingly easy it is to make the case that the Red Sox rotation is both better and deeper than the Angels.

Career ERA+ for Angels starters in 2010

Jered Weaver: 121
Joe Saunders: 106
Scott Kazmir: 117
Ervin "Don't Call Me Johan" Santana: 99
Joel Pineiro: 98

Career ERA+ for Red Sox starters in 2010:

Clay Bucholz: 95
Tim Wakefield: 108
Josh Beckett: 117
John Lackey: 117
Jon Lester: 128

So let's sum up: The Red Sox have a better ace in Lester (in fact, they probably have two aces in Lester and Beckett since Beckett's up and down...but let's not stack the deck since I guess you could say the same about Santana). The Red Sox have fewer players around the league average line. Blah blah blah blah blah.

Any possible argument you could make is null. "The Angels have younger player on their upswings"? BZZZT. Lester and Bucholz are every bit the talents Saunders and Weaver are. "The Angels have great peripheral numbers!" And the Red Sox don't? "The Angels go deeper than five deep if they need to."? Well, Dice-K's not exactly chopped liver.

And that's not even taking into account the White Sox, who of course...are probably every bit as deep as the Angels and better at the top.

But why let that get in the way of the annual installment of "Sportswriters distort reality to overrate Los Angeles Angels yet again."

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Bill Simmons Has No Idea How Stuff Works

Bill loves him some Bill. He especially loves him some Bill in situations which call for what he perceives to be common sense. Thus his long standing proposal that NBA teams hire vice presidents of such, who would presumably just sit around, looking smug, telling stories about their kids/dad/friend BugHouse, and asking their team's general manager "Hey... is that REALLY a good idea?" whenever the GM decided to make a move. It's such a good idea, it couldn't possibly not fail to not work. And it's very indicative of Bill's attitude towards teams/leagues involved in pro sports: they are dumb, and he is not.

Which brings us to his recent treatise regarding the NBA's current revenue problems. Here's the good part, for him: he's pretty much correct with his overall premise. The NBA is (and many of its teams are) poorly run. Here's the good part, for the rest of us: pretty much everything he says to build on that basic premise and add detail to it is dripping with retardery.

When the Writers Guild of America went on strike in 2007, something fascinating happened: The networks, production companies and movie studios slowly realized their infrastructure made no real sense. They had been handing out too many developmental deals, green-lighting too many pilots and overpaying for too many movies for far too long.

And even then, you couldn't get a project going, That's why you moved out there, right? Don't pretend like you just did it to write for Jimmy Kimmel. We both know you had (and probably still have) a bigger plan that failed (or is still failing) in spectacular fashion.

It was a broken model. Only when that massive overhead was removed for a few months and Hollywood didn't collapse did everyone realize, "Wait a second, were we doing this the right way?"

We can only dream of FOX doing the same with Joe Buck.

The answer, clearly, was no. The old way was like watching two people battle over entrée choices for dinner, then playing it safe by ordering everything on the menu. When the strike ended right as the economy was turning, new Hollywood tightened its belt, stopped overdeveloping and aimed for a higher batting average.

Which explains "Valentine's Day," I suppose.

In the NBA, the owners are headed for a similar, "Wait a second, were we doing this the right away?" realization, if it hasn't happened already. They arrived at this specific point after salaries ballooned over the past 15 years -- not for superstars, but for complementary players who don't sell tickets, can't carry a franchise, and, in a worst-case scenario, operate as a sunk cost. These players get overpaid for one reason: Most teams throw money around like drunken sailors at a strip joint.

And we're already in "Bill knows best" territory- a scary place to be. Look, many teams misspend and have been doing so for a while. But you can put a little more effort into explaining why. For a while, it was because they had the money and the marginal gain was worth the marginal cost. Sure- guys were getting contracts they didn't deserve. But the books were still balancing, and maybe that overpaid 7th man would end up being the difference between making or missing the playoffs. Plus, most dopey fans (by which I mean most fans are dopey) like it when their team makes moves. It drums up interest in the team, increases ticket sales, increases jersey sales, increases hype, increases revenue. I guess if you didn't know who wrote this article, you could say these explanations are really just sub-explanations underneath the "drunken sailor" theory. But since it's Bill, you'd have to be fucking crazy to think he meant anything other than "NO ONE RUNNING AN NBA TEAM HAS ANY SENSE OR SMARTS AT ALL! HELLO? WHY HASN'T THIS BEEN ADDRESSED? WATCH ME COMPARE WHAT'S GOING ON IN THE LEAGUE TO THE JERSEY SHORE!"

This isn't about improving the revenue split between players and owners. It's about Andre Iguodala, Emeka Okafor, Elton Brand, Andrei Kirilenko, Tyson Chandler, Larry Hughes, Michael Redd, Corey Maggette and Luol Deng making eight figures a year but being unable to sell tickets, create local buzz or lead a team to anything better than 35 wins.

Right, it's arguable that most of those guys are overpaid. Some (Hughes, Brand) to a much greater extent than others (Iguodala, Deng). But again, most of those deals made decent sense at the time they were signed. NBA teams are in the business of winning. This isn't MLB, where the Pirates and Marlins owners are singularly focused on trimming payroll and cashing their revenue sharing check every winter. With the NBA's salary cap and revenue structure, it's a much more results-oriented league. No one is out there signing questionable players to big contracts because they're dumb. They're doing it because in their minds, it's a risk worth taking. You can pick on the list of players above, but you should also take the time to make a list of non-superstars signed to big deals who are worth every penny (or perhaps more) like Chauncey Billups or Manu Ginobili. Pretty much every team in every sport has some guys making a ton of money. Not all of them are going to be worth what they're paid. Yes, there are some abysmal contracts out there. But that happens in every sport. It doesn't mean every owner/GM is a complete moron who couldn't run a hot dog stand, much less an NBA franchise.

Like I said at the beginning of this post- Bill's right, the league has problems. And at the same time- Bill's a moron, because he's doing a horrible job of explaining them.

It's about Jermaine O'Neal making more money this season than Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Serge Ibaka, Eric Maynor, Thabo Sefolosha and Jeff Green combined.

Right, because Jermaine O'Neal is a veteran who signed a huge deal when he was a perennial all star, and most of those guys have been in the league less than four years so they're not eligible for a big payday yet. CAN YOU BELIEVE CARLOS ZAMBRANO IS MAKING MORE MONEY THAN TIM LINCECUM AND ZACH GRIENKE COMBINED THIS YEAR? (That's true, right? I didn't look it up. Substitute someone else just as washed up as Zambrano if necessary.)

It's about Tracy McGrady making $22.4 million, being unhappy coming off the bench, then convincing his team to let him disappear until it traded him.

Yeah, I mean, again- that was a contract signed back when McGrady was one of the 10 best players in the league. He's overpaid at the end of it; which is what happens at the end of most contracts superstars in any league sign. And maybe McGrady is a mopey asshole. But this isn't the problem except to the extent that players signing deals that are too long are the problem. The right explanation here is "no team should sign a swingman in his mid 20s to a seven or eight year deal." Not "OMG TRACY MCGRADY IS OVERPAID THIS YEAR."

It's about Gilbert Arenas hogging one-third of Washington's salary cap next season even though he brought guns into the Wizards locker room and had to plead no contest to a felony.

Captain hindsight strikes again! How did Washington not see this coming? After all, Arenas had a rap sheet miles long before this weird gun incident! And it's not like he was an enormous fan favorite who was capable of singlehandedly carrying a team into the playoffs or anything.

It's about Brian Cardinal, Darko Milicic, Bobby Simmons, Eddy Curry, Kenny Thomas, T.J. Ford, Mark Blount, Etan Thomas, Andres Nocioni, Tony Battie, Adam Morrison, Marcus Banks, Marko Jaric, Matt Carroll, Jerome James, Mike James, Jason Kapono, DeSagana Diop and Dan Gadzuric making more than $120 million combined this season to dole out high-fives.

Nice job italicizing combined there. As if that makes this even more staggering. Personally I would be more shocked if those guys were making $120 million each this season to dole out high-fives. Can you believe that the US, China, India, the UK, and Japan have GDPs which add up to over a gazillion dollars combined?

This is how the NBA's situation differs from Hollywood three years ago. Hollywood stumbled by accident into the realization that things were broken. But the NBA already knows. The league wants a system more beneficial to owners that features a hard salary cap, no long-term deals (only three or four years guaranteed at most)

See, there we go. That was all you had to say.

and no luxury tax. The players will dig their feet in and fight. We will have a lockout or a strike. It will last for months. And months. And months. Start preparing yourself mentally now. It's going to happen.

It could happen. It happened in 1998- for a few months. I'm not buying this "it's going to happen" shit just yet. About a year ago, Simmons put out a similarly doomsdayish column proclaiming that something like eight NBA teams were going to fold/shut down in the next couple of years. START PREPARING YOURSELF. IT'S GOING TO HAPPEN. EXCEPT THAT THE LEAGUE WOULD NEVER LET THAT HAPPEN, EVER.

OK, now that we're past that part, let's get to the "Bill is an entitled little shit" part.

And really, I would be fine with this. I would.

Just one problem ...

No one will hire you as a VP of Common Sense if there's a lockout?

Let's say the owners get their way and the new system is better than the old one. Great. Awesome. Answer these questions for me:

1. Why should I care?

Because you're an NBA fan?

2. Why should you care?

Because I'm an NBA fan.

3. Why should either of us care that owners might not lose as much money in 2013 as they did in 2010?

I don't care about the intricacies of what happens between the owners and the players. I care that the league continues to operate so I can watch games on TV and have something besides hockey (not my thing) and college basketball (lame, too corrupt and exploitative to enjoy) to distract me during the winter from the miserable life I lead. Look, I don't have strong feelings either way on the labor disagreement. The players could end up better off after the new CBA. The owners could end up better off. They could both end up significantly worse off. I don't give a shit. I just want to watch basketball and talk about it with other people who like to watch basketball. Stop acting like you're a fucking shareholder, Bill. You have no financial stake in the league other than the Clippers season tickets you keep buying because you're a dumbass (more on that later). Playing this "I don't care what happens! I'm too upset about how they got here!" card just absolutely stinks of dickheaded entitlement. PRO SPORTS TEAMS/LEAGUES DON'T OWE YOU SHIT. HANDLE YOURSELF.

Does it mean ticket prices will drop? I doubt it.

So? You'll keep buying them. So will lots of other people. The tickets will presumably continue to be priced at or very near the point at which they maximize revenue and profits for the teams. If you can't deal with the invisible hand and its effect on a multi-billion dollar industry, go watch high school games in person. I only go to one or two NBA games per season, but I can usually find tickets in the nosebleeds for around $15-$20. I think that's pretty reasonable. The more important question here, though, is would a new CBA (of any kind) mean that games will continue to appear four or five nights a week on basic cable? Well how do you like that, it does! Works just fine for me.

Does it mean franchises with older arenas aren't in danger of having their team hijacked like the Sonics were stolen from Seattle? I doubt it.

Yeah, it totally blows for the city of Seattle and all that, but it's business. Cities in all sports lose teams from time to time. I'll shed a few tears for Winnipeg and Quebec City before I spend too much time worrying about Seattle. Just like Minneapolis and Cleveland, I'm sure they'll get a new team sometime in the near future anyways. But why are we even discussing this- HOW DOES THIS HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH MY REASONS FOR CARING ABOUT THE LEAGUE AND THE PLAYERS HAMMERING OUT A NEW LABOR AGREEMENT?

Does it mean failing teams won't continue to tank down the stretch for lottery picks, or dump some of their best players to contenders for 40 cents on the dollar to save a few bucks? I doubt it.

Again- happens in every professional sport. Every one of them. At least it's not the NFL, where teams can cut some of their best players for zero cents on the dollar to save a few bucks. And one last time- I care about these problems because...

So I ask you again ... why should we care?

No wait, I was asking you that. My answer is that I care about avoiding a lockout because I like watching and talking about the NBA. If the new agreement makes things a little more financially stable, hey! I'm down with that. And if it doesn't? Hey! I'll still watch. On the other hand, why the fuck should I care about whether or not teams with shitty arenas and cuntbrained owners can move teams, or whether or not ticket prices go down?

For instance, let's say you root for the Wizards like my buddy House. Over the last two years, House watched his team overpay Arenas ($111 million; nobody else could have offered more than $85 million at the time)

They wanted to make him happy so he wouldn't feel insulted by a strategic lowball offer. It just so happened that no one had the cap space to offer more than $85 MM, but if that version of Arenas (pre felony, obviously) were a free agent this summer, there's no question at least one team would throw a max deal (which is $121 MM, I believe) at him. So in that sense, he was worth what they paid him. Was it dumb to not try to save that money, since, after all, he couldn't get a max deal anywhere else? Probably. But it's far from indefensible.

and Antawn Jamison (a $41 million extension for someone about to reach his mid-30s)

It was a four year deal, probably below market value in terms of cost per year, for a 32 year old who consistently puts up 20 and 9. It's further from indefensible than the Arenas signing. It's probably closer to smart than indefensible.

in a bizarre attempt to keep together the nucleus of a noncontender.

They made the playoffs each of the four seasons prior to those signings. They hadn't really gone anywhere, but were they a noncontender? Hardly. They were the #5 seed in the east in 2005, 2006, and 2008. In 2005 they won their first round matchup. They weren't on the verge of winning a title, but they were only a piece or two away from being serious contenders. Bill, at that point, would rather blow things up and start all over (a slight variation on the exact practice he just decried).

Those contracts forced the Wiz to package the No. 5 pick in the 2009 draft, along with a couple of lousy contracts, for immediate help (Randy Foye and Mike Miller).

Foye arrived a year or so late- he's now a major contributor who will be a starter in the league for a long time. So... yeah, they got some almost immediate help. If Arenas doesn't go schizo they might be in the running for a top 4 seed this year. And again- WHO DIDN'T SEE THAT COMING? It was so obvious that this guy who was very active in the community and widely regarded as a good (if eccentric) guy, with no prior criminal history, would go and get himself suspended for the season!

When that move backfired and Arenas went child actor on us, the team called an audible and dealt three of its four best players (Jamison, Caron Butler and Brendan Haywood) for expiring contracts and the No. 30 pick in the 2010 draft.

And it would have been so much smarter and less damaging to the fan base to just let Arenas and Jamison walk during the summer of 2008! Yeah, the Wizards got themselves into trouble. It happens. That's sports. One more time- this happens in every sport. Even the very owner-friendly NFL with its non-guaranteed contracts. Using this as your prime example is like saying that MLB is completely out of control, and then only breaking down the 2009/2010 Tigers.

Second, the Wizards will have a ton of cap space this summer, only this summer's top free agents won't be saying, "Man, I'd love to play on a young team that's built around Gilbert Arenas."

The VP of common sense knows this. I mean, it may well be true, but it's a fucking useless point. From a player personnel perspective, why would they want to go to the Knicks, the team that's been planning for this summer since 2007? So they can play on a team built around David Lee and Wilson Chandler? Money is money. Teams are good at making sales pitches to players who want it. I can't tell if Bill's angle is "the Wizards have no one besides Arenas" or "the Wizards have Arenas and that's bad because he's already a highly paid superstar so no one will play with him." Either way, it's dumb. Money is money and cap space is cap space. It may not work out for Washington, but it's not a flawed plan coming out of the game.

So it's a flawed business plan coming out of the gate.

No it's not.

The Wizards shouldn't even mention the words "cap space" to their fans again. It's like promising your kids an ice cream at the end of a long drive when you know there's nothing in the fridge.

Oh! More Simmons' daughter anecdotes, please! THERE IS NO WAY SHE'S GOING ON A DATE BEFORE AGE EIGHTEEN. DADDY BILL WON'T ALLOW IT. Bill Simmons- probably the least intimidating father figure I can imagine.

Third, they actually tried to sell their fans that one benefit of the Jamison trade was dipping the Wizards under the luxury tax threshold. As House hissed afterward, "What the [bleep] do I care if the Wiz aren't paying the tax? How does that affect me? Does that mean they're lowering ticket prices for the rest of the year then?"

No, and that's probably an irrelevant angle to sell fans on, but it may establish to them that you're less likely to take further cost cutting measures in the coming years. A cold comfort to be sure, and I'm not sure why (or to what extent) the team "sold" the angle to fans (rather than just using it as an explanation when asked), but it's not like it's irrelevant. Also- House- ticket prices. Economics. Priced in a way that benefits teams the most. Deal with it. The rest of us are.

Nope. Over the past five years, half the league's franchises crapped on their season-ticket holders at least once with mismanagement, salary dumping and/or tanking for lottery picks.

OH, THOSE POOR SEASON TICKET HOLDERS! WON'T SOMEONE PLEASE THINK OF THE PEOPLE WITH PLENTY OF DISPOSABLE INCOME?!?!?! This makes me sick. First of all, you fucking hypocrite, you're the one who keeps buying Clippers season tickets. If you hate they way they operate so much (again, more on this later), stop being a fucking pussy and do something about it. Second of all, I'll turn the implicit question around on you again: why should I care that season ticket holders are being "crapped on?" If I'm not one of them, as is the case with 99.99% of NBA fans, then I don't give a rotten flying pile of fuck what happens to them. Fuck 'em. Let them keep subsidizing my interest. Unless there's some kind of mass revolt, which there never will be because most season ticket holders are as waterheaded as Bill, they're really not a part of this discussion.

Guess what happens when you get continually crapped on? It kinda makes you not want to support your team anymore. You know, because you have a big pile of crap on your head. Teams don't seem to understand this; apparently, neither does the league.

And yet- even though the league is losing money and certainly has some financial problems to deal with- this same system is still in place, and probably will face no revisions (specifically to ticket price) at all once the new CBA is established and its effects trickle down through the business.

For instance, I have Clippers season tickets. At last week's deadline, the Clippers dumped Marcus Camby, the league's second-leading rebounder and their best defensive player,

This is my favorite part of the article, because it's where he stops being an idiot about everything else, and does what he does best- be an idiot about sports. Marcus Camby is the best defensive player of no team. He probably wouldn't be the best defensive player on most D-I college teams. He's a great help shot blocker- AND ABSOLUTELY NOTHING ELSE. He cannot defend anyone in the post, he's too light. He's horrible on pick and rolls. And he goes for too many help blocks, leaving his man wide open for offensive rebounds and tips. I say this without hyperbole- he is certainly the most overrated defensive player in the NBA in the last decade; and he's probably in the running for most overrated defensive player of all time. No hyperbole. Look at what happened to Denver after he left- they went from worst defensive team in the league to something at least a little bit better than that. Every dipshit pundit raked the Nuggets over the coals for that move, because like Bill, they all think Marcus Camby is a great defensive player. He's not. He blocks a lot of shots, and does nothing else at even a mediocre level. The end. Man I am furious about this.

for two expiring contracts and $1.5 million in cash. I had tickets last Wednesday to watch Atlanta kick the butts of the suddenly depleted/lousy/rebuilding Clips. Did the price of those tickets change? Of course not. Hey Mr. Billionaire Housing Discriminator Who Owns The Clippers, I'm glad you pocketed that extra $1.5 million. Really, I am. But what did that do for me? Why didn't you use that savings to discount my last two months of tickets?

Kill yourself. Immediately.

And what about the other "customers" who bought season tickets because you promised a good product and didn't deliver for the 17th time in the last 18 years?

They're all welcome to do the same. Actually- wait! No! It's idiots like those people (well, I mean, they're idiots if like Bill they think that every time the team saves some money they're entitled to a cut of it) who help subsidize my fandom. And again, the fandom of 99.99% of the rest of us out here.

Also, Bill, I don't have an MBA, but let me explain something to you. When you own a business, and it's losing money, and then you cut costs to try to get out of the red, you know what you don't do? Immediately add a new cost to balance out the old one you got rid of. Does that make sense? Let's say you own an ice cream shop (the kind you can lie to your kids about during a long drive!) and it's losing money. So you fire a couple workers and operate with a leaner staff to save money. What's your next move? Start giving away ice cream for free because you just saved some cash? Better hire a VP of Common Sense if you really think that's how it works. You entitled bag of shit.

Now, here's where you say, "Simmons, you're an idiot for buying tickets for that septic tank of a franchise in the first place." Great point. I still own Clips tickets for two reasons: I like seeing the other teams, and there's a puncher's chance that someone like LeBron or Wade might be dumb enough to sign here. Stupid, I know. I'm delusional.

Ah. It's so nice, I think I'll read it again.

Now, here's where you say, "Simmons, you're an idiot for buying tickets for that septic tank of a franchise in the first place." Great point. I still own Clips tickets for two reasons: I like seeing the other teams, and there's a puncher's chance that someone like LeBron or Wade might be dumb enough to sign here. Stupid, I know. I'm delusional.

Oh, and I just realized, this is also an answer to his question about why ticket prices don't go down when the team saves money. Because he likes seeing other teams, wants to stay on board in case a superstar signs there via free agency (WHAT WILL THOSE FREE AGENTS SAY- "HEY, I WANT TO GO PLAY ON A TEAM BUILT AROUND BARON DAVIS AND CHRIS KAMAN?" SO IT'S A FLAWED BUSINESS PLAN FROM THE START!!!!). That's why.

But I have owned Clips seats for the past six years; in five of them, the season was over in mid-February.

Does the NBA care that I feel like an idiot for continuing to renew these seats? I don't know.

Sheesh, I hope not. That's really no way to run a successful business.

Does the NBA care about all the loyal customers in every failing city who feel like idiots for continuing to renew their seats? I don't know.

Why would they?

Shouldn't I know?

No. You should shut up and do one of two things: 1) put your money where your mouth is and bail on the tickets if they're not worth it to you, or 2) sit back, enjoy watching the other teams who play against the Clippers, and dream about Lebron and Wade signing there this summer. Oh, and regardless of which option you pick, you should definitely stop acting like the NBA and the Clippers owe you anything more than to hold games on the nights they're scheduled and make sure no one else is sitting in your seat. You entitled cunt.

Here's what we do know ...

Teams survive on TV money, season-ticket revenue and luxury suites. They don't care about the upper decks. They care about getting fat checks in March and April for the following season, then banking that money for a few months and collecting interest on it. They care about getting us to pay for a spring's worth of playoff tickets up front even though our team might survive only eight days in the postseason.

And although revenue is down right now (in a terrible economy), apparently that model has been working pretty well for some time!

A noncontender needs to convince its fans every spring, You better lock down another year of your seats, because if you don't, you're gonna miss out when we kick ass and make the playoffs and it's going to be impossible to get good seats and you'll be jealous! Hell, look at me. I want to break up with the Clippers ... but what if they get LeBron and I miss out? I would regret it. Every minute. Every day.

And that's why the Clippers don't have to lower season ticket prices.

Sure, they have about as much of a chance of getting LeBron as I have of becoming the WNBA commissioner. Doesn't matter. I can't miss even the 3 percent chance that it might happen. Which leads me to this moment in April ...

"Here's another check, Mr. Billionaire Housing Discriminator Who Owns The Clippers. I'll keep my fingers crossed for another year. I hate you."

It's not like it's a big deal or anything, but I hate you.

I do it every spring. I have no protection. Neither do any of the other season-ticket holders for any of the other screwed-up franchises.

They do, actually. It's called running your life in the way you see fit.

In Cleveland, the Cavs asked for 2010-11 renewals last month under the guise of an "Early Bird Special." Cavs season-ticket holders will have to decide before the 2010 playoffs start, "Am I keeping my tickets next year? Am I rolling the dice that LeBron comes back?" If they keep them, and LeBron doesn't come back, it's going to feel like getting tipped over in a port-o-john. And yes, the Cavs would be doing the tipping.

And all the people in that metaphorical port-o-john (shouldn't that be capitalized?) will have been in there because they chose to be in there.

So why don't fans have protection? As a failing business -- and, really, a league that loses $400 million in a single year has to qualify as "failing" -- doesn't the NBA have an obligation to win customers back?

HOLY SHIT. YOU ARE A FUCKING DUNCE. YOU ARE THE BIGGEST DUNCE TO EVER WRITE FOR ESPN.COM, WHICH OF COURSE IS REALLY SAYING SOMETHING. THE NBA DOES NOT OWE YOU HAPPINESS AND RAINBOWS AND A PAT ON THE BACK AND A DETAILED APOLOGY. THE NBA OWES TO YOU A SEASON'S WORTH OF BASKETBALL GAMES THAT YOU GET TO WATCH FROM THE SEAT YOU PURCHASED. TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT. You have money to spend on season tickets. Congratulations! I wish I did. If I did somehow come across that kind of money, and then decided that the team in my hometown wasn't good/entertaining enough, or if they said "hey, actually we're only going to play seven home games this year" or "hey, you're going to have to cagefight someone for your seat- we're selling doubles of every ticket this year," then I probably wouldn't but those tickets! I'd spend my money on something else! Or save it. You can't go wrong with saving money. See how that works?

If I were running the NBA, eliminating the illusion of regret would be my biggest initiative.

If you were running the NBA, the sport of basketball in the USA would be dead within five years. Hey, at that point, maybe the MLS would step up and take over or something. That'd be kind of cool. I like soccer. There, I said it.

And sure, like with the Hollywood strike, an NBA lockout will end up working in favor of the owners. It will lower operating costs, protect teams from overspending and create a system in which A-listers get rewarded (the LeBrons and Wades) and the working class (the Goodens and Farmars) gets screwed. Costs will drop, franchise values will increase, and the owners will believe all the acrimony was worth it. The ship will have been righted. Or so they will say.

Will the games still be on TV? Can I go see a few games a year for around $20 a pop? Will the best basketball players in the world still want to play in the league? Well alright then. Sounds good.

I hope they're right.

I still don't know how it benefits you and me.

Your perspective boggles my mind to an extent I can't describe. You are an ass. You are a walking, talking, typing, eight-podcasts-and-one-print-article-which-is-usually-a-shitty-mailbag-per-month ass. The premise of this article was totally acceptable. Your attempt to build a column around that premise is one of the biggest failures in journalism I've seen in almost three years of living in my parents' basement and operating this blog. How you have acquired a nation wide fanbase of sycophants is beyond me. You. Are. An. Ass.

I hope the Clippers sign Rudy Gay to a max deal this summer, then proceed to go 18-64 next season. And I hope you renew your tickets for 2011-2012 anyways.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Mike Tirico: Awful in the MNF Booth, Awful Everywhere Else

Mike, what say you re: mercurial Denver Nuggets shooting guard J.R. Smith?

He can really provide a boost of your bench, but he can also take some misguided shots. He can shoot you into a game, from both directions!

So he can shoot you into a game, and shoot you out of it. See how that works so much better? I mean, what you said makes sense too. As long as you're either trying to sound vaguely sexual, or describe how to fully marinate a roast. Tirico is terrible; why he is allowed to announce live sports in any capacity is beyond me. Might as well put Kornheiser and Rush Limbaugh in the NBA booth with him. I think they'd all compliment each other very nicely.

Full Simmons post coming tomorrow morning.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Seen on the Bottom Line:

On the Tonight Show, Brett Favre announced that he isn't sure if he wants to come back next season.

Stay tuned, sports fans! Thanks for the update, Bristol!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Actual Firings Might Happen Because of This

In the spirit of a blog whose title purports to encourage the removal of incompetent persons from their occupations, I bring you this post. In the aftermath of Vancouver, Russian President Dmitri Medvedev has decided he's had enough.

Those in charge of preparing Russian athletes for the Vancouver games "should take the brave decision and submit their resignations," he said.

I wish I knew an actual Russian person who could help me unlock the Russian Presidential code that. I lost my Putin decoder ring. So, is this code for:

"The men and women in charge might consider graciously and bravely stepping down from their positions to allow others the chance to help the athletes prepare for the next Olympics"


"They better get the fuck out before we disappear their asses to Yakutsk"?

"If they cannot do it, we will help them," Mr Medvedev added.

Looks like the latter.

Russia - traditionally a winter sports powerhouse - ended 11th in the medals table, with just three golds.

It's worth noting that they did finish sixth in the overall medal count, but 11th in gold medals. Still, it's hard to hang your hat on anything when you're managed fewer gold medals than the Netherlands, which has a tenth of your population. [Side note: I just learned that Nigeria is more populous than Russia. No kidding. And they didn't medal at all!] But seriously: Russia still has the advantage of having the most cold weather in the entire world, a HUGE advantage in the per-capita cold weather rankings... and they still didn't win much.

"Fuck Yakutsk!" said Mr. Medvedev under his breath. "We're sending them to Irkutsk!"

"For a long time we have benefited from Soviet achievements, at some point they ran out," President Medvedev said at a meeting of the governing United Russia party on Monday.

I don't know anything about Russian politics. But this still seems a bit silly to me - to publicly call out your atheletes' coaches. But I also imagine this has to do with wanting to save face because his own country is slated to host the next winter Olympics.

If they don't do well in 2014, those coaches better start learning the local lingo in northern Kamchatka.