Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Suspicions, Steroids and the Hall of Fame

Just trollin' around the internets these days, looking for interesting articles to enjoy and miserable articles to mock. Here's one of the latter, by Dan Graziano over at AOL FanHouse: Jeff Bagwell a 'No' for This Hall of Fame Voter. According to Mr. Graziano, if it looks like a steroid user, it must have been a steroid user. Since Jeff Bagwell in 2000 had big arms, he shouldn't be in the HOF.

Now, looking at Jeff Bagwell's hilarious 1991 Topps RC, which I probably have somewhere stashed in a plastic sheath, it's obvious that the mulleted and high-hatted rookie Bagwell bears little resemblance to the goateed basher of 2000. But that doesn't make a man a steroid user. For a reasoned, logical argument that seems to disprove some of the circumstantial evidence surrounding the Bagwell suspicions, read this intelligent post from Arjuna Subramanian at the Washington Post blogs.

Anyways, on to the Graziano article:

No, I didn't vote for Jeff Bagwell for the Hall of Fame. Yes, it's for the reason everybody loves to hate. I don't know for sure that Bagwell took steroids or any other performance-enhancing drugs to help him attain his Hall of Fame-caliber numbers. I don't have evidence, like we do against Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro. But I'm suspicious. And this year, that suspicion was enough to make me send back my ballot without the Bagwell box checked. I'd rather withhold the vote based on suspicion than vote the guy in only to find out later that he cheated and I shouldn't have.

As soon as I read this paragraph, I knew I wasn't going to agree with the rest of it. On the whole, his entire premise (summed up, like any good English Composition Theme, in his thesis at the end of this paragraph) seems sort of silly to me. He's withholding his vote because he's afraid of what his future self might think of his current self. Sounds to me he's a guy who's more concerned with his own morality than with the baseball Hall of Fame.

I understand the position of those voters (and non-voters, for that matter) who insist it's not fair to take such an action without hard proof. Understand it and actually agree.

This is a bit of a distortion, because the rest of his article contradicts it. Pretending to agree when you actually don't is an effective strategy early in a debate. I can see how this would work in lots of other cases:

Average Man: I understand the position of my wife, who insists it's not fair to hit on her sister. Understand it and actually agree. But she's still smokin' hot. It's not even slightly fair.

Average President of the United States: I understand the position of those Republicans (and non-Republicans) who insist it's not fair to tax millionaires more than paupers. Understand it and actually agree. But I'm still going to try to let some of these tax breaks expire.
It's not even slightly fair.

It's not even slightly fair. But it's the world in which we voters and Bagwell and his fellow Hall candidates now live -- a world of the cheaters' creation. If Bagwell's upset about it, and if he truly is innocent, then he has my apology, but I'd also advise him to seek one from McGwire and Palmeiro and all of his peers and contemporaries who decided they had to cheat and break the law in order to play baseball better.

Again, that just seems like a real dick move to Bagwell. Rather than do the actual legwork of investigating Bagwell, or reading about Bagwell, or even outlining any of his circumstantial theories against Bagwell, he's just going to blame those other guys.

Average man: If she's upset about it, and if she truly is innocent, than she has my apology, but I'd also advise her to seek one from her sister, who decided she had to slink around in all those sexy black cocktail dresses at all these family parties in order to celebrate Christmas better.

Average President of the United States: It's not even slightly fair. But it's the world in which these millionaires and their Republicans now live - a world of the millionaires' creation. If they're upset about it, then they have my apologies, but I'd also advise them to seek one from Bernie Madoff and Ken Lay and all of their peers and contemporaries who decided they had to cheat and break the law in order to make money better.

Bagwell insists he's innocent, which is what you'd expect him to do whether he is or isn't. The Steroid Era (and the supposedly post-Steroid Era) has shown us repeatedly that the cheaters don't admit to anything until they've been caught -- and that even then they'll only admit to the exact thing for which they were caught, nothing more. Bagwell surely wouldn't be the first to passionately deny guilt only to later be proven guilty. So with all due respect to the man's words, I don't think they're worth very much in this debate.

Well, just because a bunch of other guys did it doesn't mean that Bagwell did it. I, too, don't know that Bagwell did or did not do steroids; I just think it's wrong to smear a guy because of what other guys did.

This isn't about whether I believe what Bagwell says.

Yes, it is. That's why you devoted the previous paragraph to addressing just that.

It's about suspicions I harbored long before he spoke out on the issue. It's about where he played and when he played and the teammates with whom he played and a whole bunch of circumstantial evidence that I readily admit wouldn't hold up in a court of law.

All of which you don't even mention, Mr. Graziano. Are you referring to the Houston Astros at a particular time? Are you referring specifically to Ken Caminiti? It's nice of you to admit that your evidence is circumstantial, but it certainly decreases my confidence in it if you don't even mention what it is.

But this isn't a court of law. This is a Hall of Fame vote. I don't need proof beyond a reasonable doubt in order to cast a vote for any candidate in either direction. I could refuse to vote for someone because I didn't like him personally, though I think that would be wrong. I could refuse to vote for somebody based on racial or ethnic or religious grounds, though I think that would be despicable.

This paragraph is a specific appeal to the moral senses of the readers - we're supposed to think that since Mr. Graziani treats his HOF vote with such moral care, he's a trustworthy voter. But isn't it still rather immoral to evaluate a man's entire life life and career based on stereotypical assumptions and unstated circumstantial evidence?

I could withhold a vote because I don't want people in the Hall of Fame who have blue eyes, or owned cats, or ever played on a Texas team. It's my vote, and the only standards to which I am beholden are my own.

You could, but you'd be an asshole. Since that's not your criteria, you want us to believe you're not an asshole. But you are withholding your vote because of what a bunch of other assholes did, so you're kind of being an asshole here.

So yeah. I'm suspicious of Bagwell, and what that means is right now he doesn't get my vote. If he registers a "yes" with 75 percent of the electorate, then congratulations to him, he earned his way in. If he doesn't, I promise to grant him my full consideration in every future year in which he appears on the ballot, as I do with every candidate every year.

No you won't, because you're basing your consideration not on his candidacy, but on what a bunch of other guys did.

But where I am with the PED guys is I don't vote for them. I haven't voted for McGwire or Palmeiro. Right now, I don't plan to vote for Roger Clemens or Barry Bonds.

I wouldn't vote for any of them either, because we have hard evidence on each.

I could change my mind, but that's where I am right now on the issue. And in order to be consistent with that position, I don't feel I can vote for anybody I suspect, even if that standard casts an unfairly wide net.

How do you determine your suspicions? Other than hitting a lot of home runs, having big biceps, and playing with Ken Caminiti, I'm not sure what Jeff Bagwell has done to merit your suspicion.

People will hate this position, and I understand that.

No, you don't. I hate it because it's stupid, and if you understood that, you wouldn't write articles claiming it's a good position. Stop claiming you understand. What you really mean is:
"People will hate this position, and I think I understand why, but my moral high ground here means that I am too worried about my feelings ten years from now to understand why."

But I offer this in my defense: we writers who covered the game during the Steroid Era are often criticized for not reporting more skeptically based on the suspicions we harbored then. And while much of that criticism is justified, I believe the fact that we and our newspapers could have been subject to legal action for such reporting works in our defense.

Lame. There are journalists around the world who are investigating much weightier topics and pursuing all kinds of interesting stories, and they're not cowed by the possible repercussions. Wars, politics, government, and the like - somehow reporters have the courage to cover these topics. Would that baseball writers had that fortitude.

The withholding of a Hall of Fame vote based on suspicion of illegal activity is not the same as writing a newspaper story accusing someone of illegal activity.

Yeah, it's just a safe way to complain about steroids a decade after your voice was really needed.

I'm not accusing Jeff Bagwell of taking steroids or any other performance-enhancing drug. I'm just saying I'm suspicious. The five players for whom I voted this year -- Roberto Alomar, Bert Blyleven, Barry Larkin, Jack Morris and Tim Raines -- escape my suspicion, and I admit I could be wrong about any or all of them, too. But all any of us can do is the best we can with our individual ballots. And if you don't like mine, I'm sorry. But now at least you know the thinking behind it.

Several things:
1.Well, if you voted for Jack Morris, you've got standards low enough to make me discount your opinion on Hall of Fame matters.
2. In the last several years we've realized more and more that steroid users were not just home run hitters (Pettite, Clemens, Brian Roberts, Neifi f'n Perez, Matt Lawton, etc (per Mitchell Report))... why exactly do these five gentlemen escape suspicion?

Of course, the debate over the HOF criteria in the steroid era is just beginning - if this blog is around for the next few years, I can imagine the torrents of articles just like this one. I hope the crusade of baseball purists correctly evaluates players based on evidence and context, and that means doing the hard work of investigating and deciding just who belongs and who doesn't. Not throwing out every big-muscled baby in the needle-strewn bathwater.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

FMTMQR: Now with Youtube links so you can actually see what an asshole Gregg is

Is he capable of complaining about Christmas creep less than a week before Christmas? Read on to find out.

Ho ho ho! Here's what TMQ has asked Santa to leave each NFL team under its tree for Christmas morning:

Ho ho ho! Here's a series of lame jokes:

Atlanta -- An identity. The Falcons are on a blazing 15-2 run, yet are known for what, exactly?

The only reason other teams are known for something, like Pittsburgh for its NASTY (steroid-fueled) DEFENSE and New England for its gritty white receivers, is because those teams have large national fan bases. Atlanta is a horrible sports town and no one gives a shit about the Falcons. If they had bandwagoners from coast to coast hooked on their success, you'd hear a ton about their #5 scoring offense and how Matt Ryan is the next Roethlisberger.

Buffalo -- A complete set of jerseys from the 1990s Super Bowl run. It's no coincidence the Bills have not made the playoffs since switching to the league's ugliest uniforms.

Their new uniforms are essentially the same as their old ones. The title for league's ugliest uniforms resides safely with the Seahawks.

Chicago -- A game in Florida.

Because they lost one game to the league's best team when it was snowing.

Cleveland -- A dawg who can play football: "Fetch the pass!" Ideal marketing gimmick.


Detroit -- A Rand McNally road atlas with all NFL cities except Detroit missing. If the Lions can't find the road games, they won't have to play them.

This was written about 24 hours after the Lions won on the road against a non-horrible team.

Green Bay -- A water slide so Aaron Rodgers can practice sliding.


Jersey/B -- A recording of Ronald Reagan saying, "Tear down this wall!"

Maybe it makes me an idiot, but I'm lost here.

Minnesota -- Brett Favre plays until eligible for membership in AARP.


Philadelphia -- DeSean Jackson cast as the lead in a revival of the musical "Show Boat."

More on this later.

Seattle -- No restrictions on phone calls, official visits and scholarships when Pete Carroll goes recruiting in the upcoming free-agency period.

OK, see that's actually funny.

In other football news, if it has come to pass that Favre will tape his ankles no more, consider how his final seasons concluded. Last play of 2007 season for the Packers: interception. Second-to-last play of 2008 season for the Jets: interception. Last play of 2009 season for the Vikings: interception. Last play of 2010 season for the Vikings: sack. All's well that ends well!

Agreed, although his last play in 2008 wasn't an interception. He completed a pass, then received a lateral from the receiver (desperation time), then was absolutely CRUSHED while trying to throw another lateral and drew a penalty for illegal forward pass in the process. So really it's better to think of it as: 2007 interception, 2008 penalty + JACKED UP, 2009 interception, 2010 sack + JACKED UP.

In other news, Tuesday Morning Quarterback sends holiday good wishes to all space aliens, mega-babes and football enthusiasts. Bells are ringing all across the local star cluster!

What. The fuck. Are you talking about? /insert Chris W's jpeg from last post here

Sweet Quarter of the Season After being down 31-10 on the road at Jersey/A with 8:17 remaining, the Eagles won. This comeback ranks with Buffalo's comeback from 35-3 against the old Houston Oilers in 1993. That comeback took an entire half; Philadelphia's warp-speed comeback happened in eight minutes.

Buffalo's was in the playoffs, with Frank Reich at QB. Point: 1992 Bills. Not that what Philly did wasn't amazing.

Jackson is electrifying. But when he broke into the clear for the touchdown that would make this the first NFL game won by a punt return on the final play, he began waving the ball in the air at the G-Men 30-yard line even though he had already lost a fumble earlier in the quarter. Stop showboating! Dance after you score, not before. If Jackson

Tl;dr. As we've known for years, TMQ hates flashy players. Especially if they were drafted in the first round like Jackson was. But yeah, let's make sure to spend a whole paragraph complaining about Jackson celebrating that incredible moment.

As for the Giants' coaching: Has any coaching staff ever had a worse quarter? Ahead 31-10 with eight minutes remaining against the top big-play combination the NFL -- Michael Vick and Jackson -- if the Giants had gone to backed-off shell coverage and forced the Nesharim to nickel-and-dime their way down the field, the clock would have run out on any comeback.

The Giants are on national TV often enough (after all, they play in the most important and exciting division ever, a division which has produced a whole one Super Bowl winner and three NFC champs in the last 15 years; a division that surely deserves to be on national fucking TV every single fucking time any two of its fucking teams play a fucking meaningless game against one another, fuck you very much FOX) that I've seen them quite a bit this year. My roommate is also a diehard Giants fan. As such, I know for a fact that blitzing is one thing their defense does well. They often succeed when they get pressure on the QB and often fail when they don't. I'm not sure whether or not the Eagles could have scored 3 TDs in 8 minutes against base coverage, but I guarantee they would have moved the ball very quickly and effectively against it.

With the Eagles trailing 31-10, first-and-10 on their 35 with 7:43 remaining, Fewell called a safety blitz, resulting in a 65-yard touchdown pass to Brent Celek. On the play, deep safety Kenny Phillips whiffed so badly that he air tackled. The morning of the game, The New York Times ran an article lavishly praising the Giants' secondary -- guess those players read the article. "We're never out of position," Phillips was quoted as boasting.

Ah, welcome to the wonderful world of TMQ, where everything is nice and simple and can be explained by a single convenient little rule. When a play turns out poorly for a team, it's because several of its players were standing around doing nothing. Going for it on 4th down always leads to victory, no matter the result of the 4th down play; punting always leads to losing. Undrafted players are hardworking success stories, high drafted players are lazy assholes who expect the game to come to them with no effort. (I'm surprised TMQ didn't mention here that Phillips was a 1st round pick.) And of course, teams that say anything good about themselves and then subsequently lose must have lost because they have big egos. Guess what? Phillips was probably asked by a reporter to explain why the Giants have the 2nd best passing defense in the league, and he answered with something fairly innocuous (in terms of how braggy it was). It's not like he said "We're the best secondary in the history of organized football, take that to the bank, and fuck orphans and people with terminal diseases because they suck." Christ. Why do we need to crucify him because he gave an interview and then made a bad play? I hate TMQ more than anything in the world, including baseball writers.

Why safety blitz with a three-touchdown lead and less than eight minutes? Unless the plan was to humiliate the Eagles and then boast to the New York media.

Which it wasn't. Probably the most preposterous assumption/accusation I've ever seen TMQ make, which is saying something. Let's go to our old friend Occam's Razor and assume the plan was to, uh, WIN.

Humiliating an opponent is totally irrelevant; keep your focus on winning.

/Larry B frustratedly holds head in hands

Sweet Stat of the Week: The Flying Elvii have gone an NFL-record six games without a turnover -- very sweet -- and lead the league with a plus-20 turnover margin. In a league in which megabucks stars wave the rock around asking for turnovers, the Patriots protect the football. This must have something to do with their no-name, egoless offense. Big-ego players with big contracts, such as Roy Williams of Dallas, commit careless fumbles because they figure they will never be benched no matter what.

Roy Williams fumbles all the time for exactly three reasons: 1) he sucks 2) he's got a relatively weak and lanky upper body and 3) NFL DBs are really good at stripping the ball. Would he like to fumble less frequently (or preferably not at all)? Of course. Has there ever been a single moment at which he said to himself "Hey, I might as well keep fumbling- they're not going to cut me?" FUCKING N FUCKING O.

The undrafted free agents of the New England offense know they must perform to stay on the field. So they protect the football.

I like how the GREATRIOTS are being lauded for employing hardworking, egoless WRs. Meanwhile their coach and QB have two of the largest egos in football. Why does Roy Williams's ego drag him down, but Belichick's and Brady's egos result in only success? See my point 1) above as to why Williams fumbles, and also understand that Belichick and Brady definitely do not suck. Christ. I hate Gregg Easterbrook more than anything on this earth, including jewelry commercials.

Now let's enter the segment of the column where Gregg makes up facts to fit the explanations he wants to use. I'll provide video and other info where appropriate, so that you can see what actually happened rather than accepting Gregg's made up version of what happened.

Sour Pair of Plays: Pittsburgh and Denver both surrendered safeties in close fourth-quarter situations. The Steelers were attempting a slow-developing sweep from their end zone. Don't sweep from your end zone!

If you think the play call here was a sweep, you know nothing about football. (To be fair, the play definitely was slow-developing. But still.)

Sour Play of the Week: TMQ notes the distressing number of downs on which highly paid NFL performers simply stand around doing nothing or simply brush their men and then stand watching. New England leading 31-27, Green Bay had possession at the Patriots' 15 with five seconds remaining -- with one play to win or lose. The Flying Elvii rushed three; Packers right tackle Bryan Bulaga, a first-round pick this year who recently cashed a huge bonus check, brushed his man, then, doing nothing, turned around to see what was happening on the play.

If I were Bryan Bulaga, I would literally take a dump in a FedEx box and mail it to Easterbrook for that ridiculously inaccurate description of what happened on the play. This (start at the 3:30 mark), apparently, is what brushing your man and then standing around doing nothing looks like. Weird. There doesn't seem to be much brushing, just a regular block that was beaten thanks to some good DE play and bad luck as to where the QB moved in the pocket. And I certainly don't see any standing around or doing of nothing. But then again, what do I know? I'm someone who stands up for high drafted players who are obviously lazy shitheads who don't know how to play football. That's why they were all such failures at the college level.

Were those the Baltimore Ravens or the Wisconsin Badgers? Ravens coaches called 39 rushing plays and 23 passes, outrushing the defending champions by 181 yards. Vince Lombardi would have felt right at home at that contest. Let's hope his ghost wasn't watching the Packers-Patriots game, in which the Packers, yet again, went five-wide on first-and-goal at point-blank range.

OK, we get it, you don't have to bring it up every fucking week (which he does). Back in Lombardi's day teams ran a lot. Now they throw a lot (pass wacky!), sometimes when they only need a single yard. Will the wonders of the universe ever cease?

As for the Ming Ding Xiong ("Bears whose outcomes are decided by fate" in Chinese),

Probably the most annoying/least funny of all Easterbrook's team nicknames. It's a dead heat between this and Squared Sevens.

Devin Hester is back in business, which means the Bears are back in business. In 2006, Hester had five kick return touchdowns and Chicago reached the Super Bowl. In 2007, Hester had six kick return touchdowns but the Bears didn't make the postseason.

Well that leads us to conclude... uh...

In 2008 and 2009, no return touchdowns for Hester, no playoffs for Chicago. This year, Hester has three kick return touchdowns and the Bears are division champs. So when Hester doesn't run back a kick for six, the Bears do not make the playoffs; when he does, they are 2-for-3 in reaching the postseason.

Such valuable insight can only be gained by reading the musings of a man who knows absolutely nothing about football.

Pregame, viewers saw that Ron Jaworski was wearing an elaborate zoot-suit-inspired heavy coat with gloves and Mike Tirico wore a sportcoat, sweater vest and no gloves. Immediately I knew that Tirico would have a better game, which he did. Cold Broadcaster = Victory.

Worst bit ever.

TMQ's Law of the Obvious Holds: Sometimes All a Team Needs to Do is Run Up the Middle: Was that really the Pittsburgh Steelers in a shotgun spread on third-and-2 at home in bad weather? Jersey/B snapped out of its funk and won on the strength of two terrific special-teams plays in the fourth quarter -- punts downed on the Hypocycloids' 1 and 8. But even in victory, the Jets' offense seemed fouled up. Thrice in the final three minutes, holding the lead in a kill-the-clock situation, Brian Schottenheimer called a passing play. Thrice the result was an incompletion that stopped the clock. Had the Jets simply run up the middle for no gain, there would not have been enough time left for the home team's almost-comeback.

I did a Youtube search for "wrong," hoping to find a clip of Charlie Murphy on Chapelle's show yelling "WRONG. WRONG." during the Rick James sketch. It wasn't there. There was a kind of funny clip of Dr. Cox from Scrubs singing "wrong" over and over but it wouldn't quite create the effect I wanted so I decided to link to nothing. Instead I will just say that as usual, Gregg is 100% wrong.

Check this out: presumably the three plays he's referring to are the two pass plays on 2nd and 5 and 3rd and 5 that ended the Jets' drive that started at 7:09, and the pass on 3rd and 3 that ended their final drive of the game. As of the first of those plays, the Steelers had all three timeouts. That means that even if we switch the 2nd and 5 and 3rd and 5 plays from the 7:09 mark to runs of 0 yards, the Steelers still get the ball back for their 2:45 drive (the one play drive that ended with a safety) at the same time but with just one timeout. Then, after the safety, when the Jets get the ball back at 2:38, assume they ran for zero yards three times in a row before punting. After the first, the Steelers call a timeout. After the second, the clock runs down to the two minute warning. And after the third, the Jets punt with about 1:20 left. Sure, the Steelers' last drive becomes a lot more difficult; they have about 50 fewer seconds, no timeouts, and no two minute warning. But Gregg isn't capable of that level of thought (which took me about 30 seconds to research and 2 minutes to write out). To him it's DERP DERP THREE RUNS UP THE MIDDLE EQUALS TWO MINUTES OFF THE CLOCK, STEELERS GOT THE BALL FOR THEIR FINAL DRIVE WITH 2:08 LEFT, BORK BORK BORK. I hate Gregg Easterbrook more than People and Us Weekly.

As Tuesday Morning Quarterback noted of Shanahan this past summer, "His big seasons all came with John Elway: in his non-Elway years, Shanahan's results are pedestrian." Left on his own without Elway, Shanahan is somewhere between average and a bumbler.

Left on his own without Elway, Shanahan made four playoff appearances in ten years with Denver. His record from 1999 until his firing was 91-69. Sure, he only won one game during those four playoff appearances and made a number of shitty personnel decisions. But he also won 57% of his regular season games. If that's average at best, who qualifies as a "good" NFL coach? Sure, the Redskins blow this year. Even TMQ has to admit that has a lot more to do with their ownership than with Shanahan.

The Curse of the Holiday Letter: Don't you hate boastful holidays letters about other people's fascinating lives and perfect children? Below is one Nan and I received last week.

Dear Friends,

What a lucky break the CEO sent his personal jet to pick me up from Istanbul; there's plenty of room, since I have the entire aircraft to myself, to take out the laptop and write our annual holiday letter. Just let me ask the attendant for a better vintage of champagne, and I'll begin.

It's been another utterly hectic year for Chad and I and our remarkable children, yet nurturing and horizon-expanding. It's hard to know

Tl;dr. Where is this going? It's obviously not a real letter but doesn't relate to anything else in the column and the only setup he provided is copied and pasted above. The fuck is going on here?

in Maine, and before we know it, we will be packing two cars to drive Rachel's things to college. And of course I don't count Davos or Sundance or all the routine excursions.

I hope your year has been as interesting as ours.

Jennifer, Chad, Rachel, Nicholas & Emily

(The above is inspired by a satirical Christmas letter I did for The New Republic a decade ago. I figure it's OK to recycle a joke once every 10 years.)

It is, as long as the joke is funny and you provide some context for it. Neither of those requirements were met here.

NFL teams might invest $20 million to $50 million in the starting quarterback -- you don't want a $50 million investment going off tackle. Colleges, by contrast, invest almost no money in their quarterbacks -- Newton got the same amount of scholarship funds as Auburn's third-stringers.

Or did he? *rimshot* TOPICAL!

With the Bolts leading 7-0, the Squared Sevens

Ugh. Yeah, definitely worse than Ming Ding Xiong.

kicked a field goal. San Diego was called for "leveraging," the second time in three weeks this unusual call has been made. Accepting the penalty took points off the board but gave San Francisco first-and-goal at the 10. Three snaps later, Alex Smith ran for what officials signaled was a touchdown, but San Diego challenged and the six points came off the board, too. Mike Singletary went for it on fourth-and-goal from the 1. High first-round draft choice guard Mike Iupati air-blocked -- he made contact with no one -- as undrafted Bolts defensive tackle Ogemdi Nwagbuo shot into the backfield to drop the runner for a loss, San Diego ball and zero points for San Francisco.

But... but... going for it on 4th and 1! Letting your team know you believe in them and you're in it to win it! Being a manly man! Not launching a fraidy-cat field goal/trying to reduce the margin of defeat rather than going for the win! What did Singletary do wrong? Someone, anyone, please make sense of this. If Singletary had elected to keep the initial field goal on the board or kicked after the successful challenge, what would TMQ have written about it? Yeah, I think we both know what he'd have said. What a self-contradicting asshole.

That's the kind of moment that makes TMQ love sports -- undrafted unknown gets the best of megabucks glory boy.

Oh brother, don't we ever know.

Mike Singletary wore dark glasses on the sideline for a night game -- Does he have any idea how ridiculous that looked? (Tony Sparano of the Dolphins wears dark glasses at all times because of an eye injury he suffered in youth; that's different.)

Right, a practice TMQ mocked Sparano for last season without knowing about the medical condition. Smooth move Gregg. I wonder if he makes fun of Michael J. Fox for not being able to keep his hands still. I hope Singletary's glasses were also medically necessary and another printed apology is in order. That shit never gets old.

Reader Stephen Levy of Washington, D.C., reports the annual Winter Concert at Nottingham Elementary in Arlington, Va., which was scheduled for Dec. 16 -- six days before winter begins --


was "canceled due to wintery weather."

Hilarious. Almost like a beach closing down for a day because the sand is too hot! WHO SAW THAT COMING?

Manly-Man Play of the Week: The Chiefs continue to be a team after TMQ's heart, having gone for it on fourth down 21 times this season, including on fourth-and-1 at midfield against St. Louis on Sunday, converting.

When the 49ers do something similar, they're dumbasses.

The Jaguars lead the league with 22 fourth-down attempts, and, at Indianapolis, they went for it on fourth-and-1 from their own 39 on the first series of the third quarter. The result was a busted play -- fumbled pitch -- and a quick Colts touchdown in the other direction. But the idea was the right one.

Always, even though it led to a Colts touchdown in a game the Jaguars would go on to lose.

Jacksonville and Kansas City, both going for it on fourth down much more often than common in the NFL, both have winning records.

The 49ers continue to be run by idiots who go for it on 4th and 1 as if that's ever a good idea.

Bonus Obscure College Score of the Week: Wisconsin-Whitewater 31, Mount Union 21 (Division III championship). Five-foot-8, 170-pound Levell Coppage rushed for 299 yards -- mostly on power runs between the tackles -- as Whitewater took the Division III title from Mount Union for the second straight year.

Wow- can you believe it? A successful running back at that size, busting it up between the tackles? He's the next Woodhead! He's even better! He must be the greatest athlete of all time to succeed in the trenches against NFL competition at that size! Oh, you said college Division III? Well it makes much more sense now.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Barry Petchesky Has a Quick Douchebag Turnover Rate

Dear Devin Hester:

Be a bigger douchebag! Or something?


Barry Petchesky

After breaking the NFL record for return touchdowns, Hester took the podium and before any questions were even asked, emotionally thanked his coaches and teammates. I know he's got to do it, but c'mon. He's earned the right to brag.

Hester's 14th return TD came in his 74th game and 286th return. Brian Mitchell, the previous record-holder, reached 13 in 223 games and 1070 returns. That's fucking bananas. But there was Hester, deflecting all the credit to his coaches and blockers.

I guess we can praise the coaches for being sensible enough to put the greatest single-situation weapon in NFL history in the game in those situations. And while I'm sure Hester's been the beneficiary of some great blocks over the years, I'm also pretty certain that the 2006-2010 Chicago Bears weren't the greatest blocking team of all time. I'm sure Football Outsiders can figure that one out, but plenty of return men have had great return teams. No one has ever scored 14 times.

If ever there was a time for a player to say, "You know what, forget my teammates. I did this myself," this is it. Maybe Devin Hester isn't so great at running routes, or even catching a football. That's fine. He's fast, and he can cut and he can see holes no one else can, and because of that he's one of the few players alive you don't dare take your eyes off of when he's got the ball. It's a limited skill set, but when it comes to doing what he does best, he is the best.

(courtesy of

The only thing worse than being a power-crazed asshole like Roger Goodell

is wrongfully accusing Goodell of being an asshole when he actually wasn't. Enter Deadspin's resident guy who probably lived under power lines and ate a lot of paint as a kid, Barry Petchesky.

Quietly, the NFL fined Carolina's Tyler Brayton $15,000 for setting a moving screen on an Atlanta gunner last week. That's less money than Alosi, and no suspension, so the NFL's consistent record of inconsistent punishment continues.

This would be biting and timely criticism- if only the NFL had actually been responsible for Alosi's fine suspension. Unfortunately they weren't. The Jets made that call. Alosi situation: Jets applied harsh internal discipline; NFL elected not to do anything further. Brayton situation: NFL stepped in and applied tepid discipline; we don't know what the Panthers would or would not have done. Yep, it all adds up. TIME FOR OL' BARRY THE WHISTLEBLOWER TO LET THE PUBLIC KNOW HOW RIDICULOUS THIS IS!

Nice try though, Barry. It's bad enough that you often shit the bed when you write an editorial post. The least you can do is try not to also shit it when you're just doing a quick throwaway "breaking news" post. But living up to that standard would require you to know stuff about the subject you're covering, so I guess we're both shit out of luck.

If you bother to click on the link, please note that none of the first 30 or so Deadspin comments point out this pretty obvious error. But hey, at least they all managed to either 1) make a lame pop culture reference 2) make a lame joke about how bad the Panthers are or 3) make a lame joke in an attempt to agree with Barry's commentary. Thanks Deadspin! You continue to be a holding pen for snarky, unoriginal douchewads.

And for the three of you out there wondering whether or not this blog should be in the business of attacking no-name bloggers who are definitely not part of the MSM: I don't know what to tell you. It is what it is.

TMQR tomorrow. Maybe.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Don Banks needs to spend a few more minutes thinking out his Snap Judgments

From Don Banks latest Snap Judgments column, comes this:

If we're talking about strictly the most valuable player in the league, how can you argue that anyone means more to his team than Matt Cassel does to the Chiefs?

Anyone who knows how to say the "Phillip Rivers," "Tom Brady," or "Peyton Manning"* instantly has a better argument than any Cassel for MVP advocates.

For serious, Matt Cassel is, by just about any metric, a marginally above average quarterback. At best, he's the third most valuable component on his own team's offense behind Jamal Charles and Dwayne Bowe. Meanwhile, Rivers, Brady, and Manning are far and away the most important players on their team's offense and are better than Cassel in every metric.

*I don't necessarily think those should be the top 3 finishers in the MVP vote; those guys are both in the same conference as Cassel and obviously more valuable at his position than him.

We saw what [The Chiefs] were without [Cassel] last week at San Diego, when Kansas City produced just 67 yards of offense in a 31-0 loss.

Brody Croyle is awful, but there's no way that the dropoff between Cassel and Croyle is as profound as the gulf of talent between Rivers, Brady, Manning, and their respective backups.

But in Sunday's 27-13 Chiefs' win at St. Louis, Cassel helped keep his club in first place in the AFC West, throwing for 184 yards and a touchdown

With numbers like that, they might as well just rename the MVP award: "The Matt Cassel Award for Best QB EVAR!!"

With Cassel back, the Rams (6-8) couldn't just key on the Kansas City running game like San Diego did.

The Rams stink. The Chargers don't.

The result was the Chiefs (9-5) rumbled for 210 yards rushing, with Jamaal Charles leading the way with 126 yards and a touchdown on just 11 carries.

MVP = Most Valuable Player-who-hands-the-ball-off-on-nearly-every-play

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Somehow Barry Petchesky looks like the bigger asshole in his attempted takedown on Favre

Everyone hates Favre and all the attention the end of his streak has got, and Deadspin writer, Barry Petchesky, had a typically dipshit postmodern take on it. The passages that most annoyed me were these:

Cal Ripken played in 2,632 straight games. That number would be unthinkable in football, because it's football. If Ripken properly stretched his hamstrings, his only opportunities for injury were the odd play at the plate or a runner trying to take him out while he turned the double play. That's baseball: guys tend not to run into each other.

That's completely retarded. By Barry's definition, any baseball player that goes on the DL is one of the following:

1. A fool for not stretching that day.
2. The world's biggest pussy.
3. A vile sinner who angered God enough to be struck down by a freak accident on the baseball field.

Hit by pitches, the grind of playing games almost every day for six months, fielding hazards, etc. are not valid excuses for taking a day off or going on the disabled list.

And let's face it: quarterbacks in the 21st century are a lot closer to kickers in the punishment they take than they are to linemen, or even skill positions or the secondary.

Textbook false dichotomy: linemen, skill position, secondary players are contacted on every play whereas QB's and kickers are not. Therefore, QB's are like kickers. QED to everyone who hasn't seen the end of this awesome video, or people who don't know that Aaron Rodgers has now suffered two concussions in thirteen games this season.

Rules have been changed to protect them. Flags are thrown on those hitting them at the slightest provocation.

Try telling that to Ben Roethlisberger's nose after it was disfigured on an illegal hit by Haloti Ngata which went uncalled.

Between sacks, QB sneaks and making the occasional tackle after an interception, Brett Favre probably received full contact on 5 plays a game.

And this is why Barry Petchesky is a bigger asshole than Favre. Say what you will about what a self-absorbed prick Brett Favre is, but you really can't question that he's tough as shit. The guy was the 5th most efficient passer last year at the age of 40, after having torn his biceps tendon the previous season. I don't care what anyone says, that is fucking nuts. Of course, he did only receive "full contact on 5 plays a game," so I guess it was all incredibly easy in hindsight.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Is This Petty? Perhaps...

But I sure do hate Phil Rogers

What an everloving tool. Let's see how long it stays that way before a copywriter changes it.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Just another example of how college football brings out the worst in everyone

Fans. Administrators. Journalists. Broadcasters. Heisman voters. They're all reduced to complete fucktards every year by some kind of issue stemming from college football. This year it's the whole Cam Newton thing. Well I guess I probably shouldn't have included fans on that list I just made- NCAAF fans are complete fucktards year round regardless of what's happening in the world of their sport. But I just wanted to make it clear that they, too, are affected by this mostly unimportant debate about did he take money, was he eligible, etc. (I say it's unimportant because of the degree to which college football is rotten to the core. I'm guessing that Newton was, in fact, ineligible this year. Who cares? Every team in the FBS probably had five ineligible players this year. Every SEC team probably had ten.) Anyways, let's let Kevin Scarbinsky from the Birmingham News give us his $.02 about what it means that 100ish voters left Newton off their ballots.

Remember the Moral Majority? That conservative political action group of fundamentalist Christians led by the evangelist Jerry Falwell? Lobbied for things such as prayer in school and against things such as the Equal Rights Amendment?

Founded in 1979, it had a nice run until it dissolved in 1989.


At least it lasted longer than Urban Meyer.

Despite how strongly I feel about Urban Meyer-specifically that he is the biggest piece of shit we've seen in the last ten years in the world of sports-that's a lame joke and I refuse to so much as chuckle at it. Also, this is instance #1 of Auburn Superfan Scarbinsky wearing his colors on his sleeve. Because, you know, that's good journalism and such.

Unfortunately, we've discovered recently that the Moral Majority has an illegitimate offspring whose passion is college football.

Call this outfit the Moral Minority.

It's a single-issue group whose sole mission was to make sure that Cam Newton didn't win the Heisman Trophy by the biggest landslide ever.


Write more single sentence paragraphs.

Any Bill Plaschke can tell you that they're a great way to get your point across.

People notice your sentences.

Mission accomplished.


Also, isn't it great to imagine him conceptualizing this? "Hmmm. I'm upset that some Heisman people didn't vote for Newton. I hate how they're trying to take this stupid moral stand. What's my intro going to be? How can I cleverize the ever loving shit out of this?" (Five seconds pass.) "Got it. Moral Majority reference. Boom. WAR EAGLE."

O.J. Simpson's records for highest Heisman point total and largest Heisman margin still stand.

Gotta hand it to the Juice. He's hard to beat at the ballot box, inside or outside a jury room.

See, that's mildly funny. Where was the heart attack reference in his earlier swipe at Meyer? That could have saved the joke.

As he should have, Newton did win the 76th stiff-arm statue Saturday night as the best player in college football, running away from the other finalists as if they played defense for South Carolina.

Instance #2 of colors on the sleeve. Take that, other team that my team beat this year. My team is better than you.

The third Heisman winner in Auburn history won every voting region, even the West, the home of the three other finalists.

Lolz to that. Wow, can you believe that Newton was able to win a region that contained voters who ostensibly are bigger fans of not one not two but THREE other candidates?!?! Amazing. Good thing there weren't five or six other candidates from the West, though. No way could Newton still win the region with that many other players dividing up the hometown votes.

Of the 781 ballots that contained Newton's name, 729 of them - a whopping 93 percent - put him in first place. That brings up a question for the 24 voters who placed Newton second and the 28 who put him third.

What were you guys thinking?

They're probably Oregon, Stanford, or Boise fans. Or conference loyalists from the Pac-10 or WAC. Unanimous Heisman winners are kinda hard to find because of biases like those.

By any measure, Newton's victory over the runner-up, Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, was a landslide of Reaganesque proportion. But if you're keeping score at home, do the math. There were 886 ballots returned, and 781 of them had Newton's name on them.

That means 105 voters did not vote for him. They didn't vote for him in first place, second place or third place. They didn't vote for him at all.

This seems like a good time to clarify why I'm writing this post in the first place. I don't have a strong stance one way or another on what those 105 voters did. On one hand, I think that's a pretty lame way to make a statement, especially since the #1 most important thing voters are supposed to decide on is: who is the best player in the country? Plus, shady as it looks, he was officially cleared by the NCAA. So that's got to count for something when you're checking boxes on a ballot. On the other hand, I think the Newton snub voters have a point if their statement is supposed to be directed at the NCAA rather than Newton himself. The NCAA is a huge piece of shit. So anything which calls attention to that fact, which this kind of does, is fine with me. Additionally, the Heisman mission statement talks about players having integrity, or some shit like that, so I suppose that's a leg those voters might be able to stand on. Anyways. The whole reason for this post is: say what you want about those voters, either way. But don't say it like this asshole does. He's a fucking dunce.

They didn't overlook him. It's impossible to overlook a 6-foot-6, 250-pound quarterback who led the SEC in rushing and the nation in passing efficiency, who's harder to grasp than smoke and harder to stop than a runaway cement truck.

Hooray for purple prose. Also, it's hard to tell whether or not this whole sentence is supposed to list the reasons Newton was the best choice for the award, but if we assume it is, I didn't know measurables were now something we voted on. I hate it when announcers/sportswriters are talking about some player who's really good and the first thing they list is the player's height or weight. Whoop-de-shit. I know that Matt Ryan is 6'5". I know that James Harrison is 250 lbs. of muscle and steroids. I know that David Eckstein is 5'3" and 80 lbs. You don't have to keep telling me. Measurables have little to do with those players' abilities. Unless you can measure the size of Eckstein's heart, of course.

So the holier-than-thou 105 omitted him, which means they tried to send a message to him or about him.

Welcome to the Moral Minority.

Thanks for remaking your lame and antiquated reference.

They argued that they wanted to preserve and protect the Heisman, as if it were the Nobel Peace Prize.

Well, as far as college football awards go, it kinda is the Nobel Peace Prize.

They said they wanted to prevent the Heisman from being returned to sender for the second time in five years.

That's reasonable. Sure, the NCAA cleared Newton for now (so that he wouldn't be taken out of the SEC or BCS title games, which would probably cost the NCAA a lot of advertising money both now and in the future), but what if they change their minds a few years from now? Kinda makes the award look a little less shiny when you keep giving it to people who shouldn't have been allowed to win it.

Their argument: What if the NCAA cleared him too soon?

My counterargument: What if you smeared him too soon?

Awesome, logical response. If the Moral Minority (we'll call them the MM- it just sounds right) is wrong: Cam Newton still wins the Heisman. The voters kind of look like judgmental assholes. NCAAF continues as before. If Scarbinsky is wrong: Cam Newton should have never been eligible for the Heisman. It is eventually taken from him. Auburn's SEC (and National?) title is vacated. Everyone involved looks like a total asshole. There are reasons the MM are being lame- this is not one of them.

Better to base your vote on the facts, as most of us did.

Like the fact that Newton is harder to tackle than smoke. And that he's 6'5".

Also- it is a fact that Newton's dad solicited money from Mississippi State in exchange for Newton's services. It is also a fact that doing so is an NCAA violation (see NCAA bylaws 10.1(c) and 10.4) if Cam Newton was at all involved or aware of those negotiations. And finally, it is a fact that the NCAA's ruling regarding Cam's eligibility is hilarious. Apparently Cam had NO IDEA what his dad was doing; he was never in any way aware of any pay-to-play negotiations regarding the school he would end up transferring to. When his dad told him "Son, I'll talk to MSU for you," he though pops was just going to ask about what kind of food the dining halls serve and if the girls are purdy or not.

The Moral Minority's rush to judgment was mirrored Saturday by the 12-member panel of the Football Writers Association of America that chose an All-American team that included two quarterbacks. Neither of them was Newton.

The FWAA named Boise State's Kellen Moore as its quarterback and Michigan's Denard Robinson as an all-purpose back.


The Football Writers, though, had no problem naming Oregon's LaMichael James as their All-American running back, despite the fact that he was arrested on domestic violence charges, pled guilty to misdemeanor harassment and was suspended by his head coach for the season opener.

Here's what he didn't do: violate NCAA rules by trying to get a school to pay him to transfer there. Obviously James is an asshole. He's also an asshole who is (probably) still an amateur athlete.

Just goes to show. Some football writers can't spell hypocrisy. Others have trouble defining it.

If all members of the FWAA were required to abide by NCAA rules, and then all of them broke those rules, and then refused to elect Newton to their All-American team, yeah. That would be pretty hypocritical. Just goes to show you that some sportswriters named Kevin Scarbinsky have trouble defining hypocrisy. I think the word he was looking for was "inconsistency," and even then, it wouldn't be correct.

This is the second FWAA snub of Auburn this year. After stripping USC of its 2004 national title, the Football Writers declined to award their trophy to that season's No. 2 Auburn, leaving the title vacant instead.

Christ, is this guy a Patriots/Red Sox/Celtics fan or something? Stop bitching already. I'm sorry it feels like the world is against you. Get over it.

You have to wonder. When Auburn beats Oregon in the BCS Championship Game, will the FWAA give Gene Chizik its precious Grantland Rice trophy the next morning, as is the custom?

More colors on the sleeve. In a pretty assholish tone, too. Note the sarcastic use of "precious." I think Auburn is a better team than Oregon and will probably win the title game, but if they don't, hoo boy, this dude is going to hear about it from me. I'm going to taunt the shit out of him via email. Because like the title of the post says, college football brings out the worst in everyone. That includes me.

Or will they keep it until Auburn is certified as 99 44/100 percent pure by the NCAA, the FBI, the CIA and Interpol?

You can't be too careful about these things.

Ask the Moral Minority, which now has a tiny victory over Cam Newton.

All he has, big picture, is a very large trophy.

Basically his closing argument is the equivalent of yelling "SCOREBOARD" at another team's fans after your team has beaten theirs. Awesome. I hate Kevin Scarbinsky, I hate Gene Chizik, I kind of hate Cam Newton, I especially hate the NCAA, and I hope Auburn loses to Oregon (both of whom I kind of hate) by a million points in January.

Most of all I hate college football fans because they're the party most responsible for the hype and excessive attention that fuels mindless bullshit like this article and the events surrounding it. If your favorite sport is college football, there is an 80% chance you are a complete waste of skin. (That number jumps to 99% if your favorite team is in the SEC, Big 12, or Big 10.) Go tape a knife to something and run into it. I'll be over here hoping and praying that the NFL doesn't skip the 2011 season due to labor problems, lest you dipshits get an even bigger slice of the media pie next fall.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Guy Pwned By His Own Website

Hey guys, remember when I posted an article about Ron Santo written by a guy who thought Home Run Baker had nothing to offer but a nickname? No? Well anyway, he's back, and making an asinine post about contract extensions.

As is the case with most fangraphs articles, a lot of this is dry info that's poorly written and a slog to read, so I'll cut right to the chase:

Here’s a fun fact. In baseball history, there have been exactly twenty-five nine-figure deals — twenty-five contracts for $100,000,000 or more. Four of them have gone to free agent pitchers. Position players have received the other 21, and of those 21 contracts, 11 have been contract extensions, and just 10 have been free agent contracts. (Of the top five contracts in baseball history — Alex Rodriguez, Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Joe Mauer, and Mark Teixeira — four three were extensions.)

Right. Either that or two. Two were extensions. Mark Teixeira signed a free agent deal with the Yankees (This should be pretty obvious, given that he played for Anaheim the year before). And A-Rod signed two free agent deals, one with the Rangers, and one with the Yankees.

(Technically, as Bryan and Art Deco point out below, Alex Rodriguez was a free agent when he signed his second contract with the Yankees. But I view it as an extension, because he essentially used the opt-out in his contract as a bargaining tactic in his negotiation with the Yankees — who were the only team able to afford the amount of money they wound up paying him. That’s a judgment call on my part, though, and if you want to consider him a free agent both times, that alters the numbers a little bit: ten extensions, eleven free agent contracts.)

Oh okay, you view A-Rod as an extension because you say you do. Gotcha. But never mind. Let's focus on why Mark Teixeira's free agent contract was an extension. Oh? That's the last you're going to mention him? Gotcha.

So why have more position players been paid more money when they weren’t on the free market than when they were?

They haven't.

It’s too facile to say that free market competition actually depresses player salaries, but it’s beyond question that teams have a tendency to bid against themselves, both on the free agent market and when negotiating extensions. After all, the two biggest contracts in baseball history both belong to Alex Rodriguez, and both his free agent contract with the Rangers and his extension with the Yankees were largely the result of a team bidding against itself. Of course, the Yankees can better afford to bid against themselves than could the Rangers.

First of all, it's not beyond question that teams have a tendency to bid against themselves in contract extensions. They're negotiating with an agent what it will take to get their player to forgo free agency. Thus, they are bidding...against other teams. Secondly, the Rangers were in no way bidding against themselves for Alex Rodriguez in the 1999 offseason. A number of teams wanted to sign A-Rod. They didn't have access to what those teams were bidding and they bid a number that made sense to them because they had a new cable contract coming in contingent on signing Rodriguez. But that's hardly "bidding against themselves."

Anyway, let's get to the real stupid stuff:

The jury is out on three of the eleven richest extensions in history, those featuring end dates between 2015 and 2020: Troy Tulowitzki, Miguel Cabrera, and Joe Mauer. But we can start to evaluate the other eight. First, Ryan Howard and Alex Rodriguez are signed through 2016 and 2017, but they have already started to look like albatrosses. And the jury is more or less in on the other six. They are listed below:

Derek Jeter, NYY, $189,000,000 (2001-10)
Todd Helton, COL, $141,500,000 (2003-11)
Johan Santana, NYM, $137,500,000 (2008-13)
Vernon Wells, TOR, $126,000,000 (2008-14)
Ken Griffey Jr., CIN, $116,500,000 (2000-08)
Albert Pujols, STL, $100,000,000 (2004-10)
Of those eight contracts, three of those have been unmitigated disasters (Helton, Wells, and Griffey), two have been qualified if overexpensive successes (Jeter and Santana), two are likely disasters (Howard and Rodriguez), and only one was a clear success (Pujols). In other words, seven of the eight extensions have been hard to justify on their dollar value alone.

This is where I "laugh out loud." Let's start with the "unmitigated disasters." Griffey's contract exists largely before Fangraphs started computing dollar-values for WAR so let's give Remington this one, since he's probably right. Wells is a disaster indeed, although he has come close to the $18 million he makes per year last year. But Todd Helton?

Let's go to Remington's own site and see what an unmitigated disaster looks like:

Todd Helton 2003-2010 Fangraphs WAR: 31.4
Todd Helton 2003-2010 Fangraphs Contract Value: $111.9mm
Todd Helton 2003-2010 Actual Salary (using avg per year): $123.8mm

What an unmitigated disaster! A loss of about $1.5mm per year!

Now let's take a look at one of his qualified but "overexpensive successes:

Derek Jeter 2002-2010 Fangraphs WAR: 41.9
Derek Jeter 2002-2010 Fangraphs Contract Value: $151.7mm
Derek Jeter 2002-2010 Actual Salary (using avg per year): $170mm

Man that's overexpensive! A loss of ~$2mm per year. Meaning he was something like 9% overpaid. What an overexpensive success! Look--I'll buy "overpaid" but overexpensive strikes me as having connotations of someone making more than about 10% of what they should have made. Especially when, allegedly, Jeter brings in plenty of off-the-field income. I think that might have been overstated in this year's negotiations, but certainly he bring in at least $2mm per year in corporate tie-ins and merchandise revenue (and yes, I know that the Yankees don't make specific money off of JETER jersey sales, but they make money off of jersey sales in general, hats in general, souvenir bats in general, etc and you have to figure Jeter moves those to some extent)

In short, 3 of the contracts Remington mentions are more or less square deals or an out and out bargain (Helton, Pujols, Jeter). Of the remaining extensions, two have been hampered by injuries (Griffey and Santana) and one was made as a publicity move rather than a baseball move (Vernon Wells). Now, injuries happen, and you can't just discount them. But they certainly don't say anything specific about contract extensions, now do they? If Griffey and Santana are overpriced, it's not because "teams bid against themselves." It's because "they got hurt." Certainly you'd rather be paying a hurt player like Santana $22mm a year than the dollar amount he could have gotten on the open market. How do we know what Santana could have gotten on the open market? We don't, necessarily, but we can take a pretty good guess.

Anyway, all of this non-information adds up to an asinine conclusion. Here goes:

But just as many inexplicable dollars are being spent on extensions, which aren’t even a market — they’re a response to a hypothetical market, and in recent history they’ve been a poor investment. If eyebrows should be raised anywhere, contract extensions are the place to start.

So much is wrong with this. So much. I'll leave that to you the reader to deciper because I'm utterly sick of this uninformed squawker who can't even be bothered to look up players' statistics.

Thursday, December 9, 2010


ESPN wants you to know something about tonight's Indy/Tennessee matchup:

We'll get more details out to you when we hear them. I suppose I shouldn't complain too much- they didn't go for an unnecessary play on words like "CLASH OF THE TITANS (and Colts)."

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Dear Jeff Passan: You're a Diptard

The Rockies recently handed Troy Tulowitzki a hefty extension, and the baseball media's reaction was mostly negative. Rob Neyer was mildly unsupportive, Tangotiger sort didn't really mind it, and Keith Law hated it. No surprise there because Keith Law is a card-carrying asshole who (smugly) hates everything. The fact that Passan also hated it, then, isn't anything special. What's special are his reasons for hating it, which range from WRONG to terribly thought out to fucking ridiculous. The craziest part- he found a way to try to claim that the deal isn't just bad for the Rockies, but for Tulowitzki as well (something no other writer I stumbled across did).

What could’ve been, though. Oh, what could’ve been. On one hand, Tulowitzki played things safe. He was reasonable.

Agreeing to be paid $19MM per year 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10 years in the future for doing the same thing you do now is probably a reasonable thing to do, yes. LET'S PAT HIM ON THE BACK FOR IT BEFORE WE TEAR HIM TO PIECES.

And on the other, he lacked the fortitude to chase the greater glory that awaited him elsewhere. The money he could’ve gotten and the championships he could’ve won had he simply played out his current contract with the franchise that can’t help itself from taking a blade to its jugular.

Allow me to translate: gross! Who wants to try to win anywhere but Boston, New York, and MAYBE Philly or L.A.? What kind of an unreasonable stupid person is Tulo? Doesn't he know that all players should focus singularly on playing for one those teams? What a dummy this guy is! Trying to win a title with the team that drafted him. For shame.

By turning down the opportunity to hit free agency after 2014, Tulowitzki potentially left millions of dollars on the table.

Hard to say. Probably. He's still going to be paid for sure during those years, even if he decides to get fat and lazy and really sucks by then. So the security the deal offers was, you know, probably worth something to him.

He certainly left the opportunity to play for franchises that need not operate with tight margins because of one man’s deal.

This sounds like sour grapes from a Yankees/Red Sox fan, but The Google reveals that Passan doesn't seem to have any particular bias towards big payroll teams. In any case, it's shitty logic. More on why later. Let's move on to Passan's analysis of the Rockies' side of the deal, which is predictably dumb.

If this deal is bad for Tulowitzki, it’s ill-conceived and unconscionable for a Rockies team that knows what long-term, big-money contracts do to franchises with middling budgets: cripple them. And even if Tulowitzki is the anti-Mike Hampton

Right, terrible contract. No one would argue otherwise.

and even if he can stay healthy like Todd Helton couldn’t,

This is where the WRONG starts. He mentions the Helton extension (a 9 year deal worth $141 MM signed after the 2002 season and running through 2011) multiple times, as if it were some spectacular failure. Here are the facts which you can keep in mind as Jeff keeps referencing this deal- in by far the three worst years of the deal, the most recent three, Helton appeared in 352 games, or about 118 per season. He missed a boatload of time in 2008 and quite a bit last year. During this stretch, he "only" accumulated about 5 WAR and OPS+ed 108. Slightly above average for a corner infielder. Now- was he worth what he was being paid at the time? Of course not. He made $50MM from 2008-2010, and if you use the somewhat-accepted conversion rate of $5MM per WAR on the open market, he made double what he should have. It's really 2008 and 2010 that were the problem- he had a great 2009 (4 WAR).

So in spite of the good will his presence generates among fans, and his leadership/grit/whatever other intangibles you want to throw in there, he's spent the last three seasons being a mild cash sink for the Rockies. But from 2003-2007? He accumulated 26 WAR and OPS+ed 145. He was worth what he was paid and then some. Using that same conversion rate for WAR on the open market I described before, he paid for roughly 80% of the cost of the contract in those five years alone. Combine his performance then with his 2008-2010, and it's batshit insane to say the contract was anything worse than a "fair deal" for the Rockies. It would be perfectly reasonable to call it a good deal, and if you're really into intangibles and all that crap, you could call it great. Would they have been better off signing him to a 5 year extension and avoiding his eventual decline? Sure, in most ways. But making a deal to keep him around for the rest of his career generated a lot of value for the franchise, as he was their first true homegrown superstar. Comparing this contract to Hampton's is lunacy. Implying that it was or is some kind of albatross around the franchise's neck is flat out WRONG.

and even if he is the do-everything, all-world, good-guy shortstop, heir to Derek Jeter,

Then that would be awesome, because Jeter was really really good until last season and Tulo was a better defender to begin with so in theory his defense will age better.

he still leaves the Rockies in a compromised position: with limited money to spend on the other pieces and parts that would comprise an annual contender.

To an extent, that's the whole point, isn't it? If you're not the Yankees or Red Sox, you have to spend money on certain guys and build around them. Of course you can't keep everyone- I'm sure Carlos Gonzalez will leave the Rockies when he's a free agent or on the brink of becoming one, as Matt Holliday did- but there are certain guys you keep and build around. And you pay them a lot of money so you can do that. You keep Joe Mauer. You pay shitloads of money to keep Miguel Cabrera if you acquire him. And you keep Tulowitzki. It's a very smart way to do things, and keeps fans interested. Being successful while operating your team like the Rays or A's do is nice in theory, but it's a dangerous game. Having a cornerstone that keeps ticket sales up and allows you to be absolutely sure about something that's six, seven, or eight years down the road is a preferable option if it's available. Don't be surprised if you hear rumors about the Rays approaching Evan Longoria about this kind of mega extension a few years from now. And at the same time, this is a really stupid point. Because by the time the extension's big money kicks in, the Rockies probably won't be dealing with much of a "limited money to throw around" situation at all.

The Rockies operate with a payroll of around $80 million. Last year, it was $5 million more, the year before $3 million less.

And in 2015, it's a very safe bet that it'll be around $100 million or more. Back in 2003/2004/2005, it was around $60-$65MM. See how that works? In fact, call me crazy, but I'm willing to bet that salaries all across MLB have gone up in the last 5ish years, and will go up again in the next 5ish years. Magic!

Tulowitzki’s contract extension adds six years and $119 million onto the end of his current deal, which, including a 2014 option, was to pay him $38.75 million. So, starting in 2015, when Tulowitzki will be 30, the Rockies will give him nearly $20 million a year.

“If there’s a guy to spend a quarter of your payroll on, he’s it,” said a GM of a low-revenue team, “but you just don’t spend a quarter of your payroll on anyone. Period.”

Which is why it's a good thing they won't be doing that with Tulo unless some crazy and unforeseen financial catastrophe hits baseball or their team.

The Rockies ignored that rule again,

They didn't. This line of logic is kind of similar to saying "Why would you take an entry level job coming out of college that only pays you $40K a year? You'll never be able to buy a house and put three kids through college with that salary!"

And yet Rockies executives admit that attaining such success with Helton’s albatross nine-year, $141.5 million deal took an incredible confluence of timing and luck.

See above.

Locking up any other players of significance became an impossibility.

They didn't have any to lock up other than Holliday and MAYBE Jason Jennings. They traded both for packages of players who provided better value in the short and the long run. The Rockies' problem in 2003-2006 wasn't that Helton's contract (and Hampton's "dead money" contract, left over for five years even after he was traded) were holding them back. Their problem was that they didn't have enough homegrown talent to make it worthwhile to compliment that talent with extra free agent pieces.

With attendance unlikely to return to the halcyon late ’90s, new revenue streams to support such deals are almost impossible to come by. The jump to a $100 million payroll isn’t happening.

It almost certainly is, and probably by 2015. They're going to be at about $85MM this year.

So as the Rockies celebrate Tulowitzki’s new deal, they do so knowing that Ubaldo Jimenez is now likely to leave after the 2014 season.

Depends. No way to tell this far out, and stupid to make assumptions about a pitcher's ability to sustain success without having his arm explode.

And that Carlos Gonzalez, a Scott Boras client, is certain to do so.

Sure. He was probably going to whether they signed Tulowitzki or not.

And that rather than waiting until 2014 to figure out where to spend their money, the team went all-in on a player who has missed significant time in two of his four seasons because of injuries.

In 2008 he missed time for one injury that won't be repeated (hurt himself slamming a bat in the dugout) and one that was a legitimate on field "wear and tear" injury (quad/groin pull). In 2010 he missed about 30 games because some asshole Twins relief pitcher hit him in the wrist with a pitch. Jeff is only the 50th columnist in the last two weeks to overstate Tulowitzki's injury issues.

This is a marriage of convenience, though, a rarity in sports with good reason: rarely do they turn out well. Even the model for great long-term deals, Jeter’s 10-year, $189 million contract with the Yankees, comes with a warning label. Over the life of the deal, even after splurging on $1.6 billion worth of contracts on top of Jeter’s deal, the Yankees won only one World Series.

The Yankees signed Derek Jeter to a long contract, during the majority of which he was an awesome player and worth much more than what they paid him. But because of the way baseball's postseason works they only won one WS (and two other pennants, while appearing in the playoffs nine times) while he was under that contract. Therefore... don't sign awesome players to long contracts?

One of the stupidest things I've ever read.

The Rockies may spend half that, and even though general manager Dan O’Dowd and his lieutenants Bill Schmidt and Bill Geivett do a commendable job finding cheap talent and securing it to reasonable contracts, sustaining that for a decade is Sisyphean. It took O’Dowd, after all, nearly a decade to turn the Rockies from perpetual losers into a franchise worth emulating.

You know what they say: the easy part is finding a sustainable model for success in a mid-sized market where 9 out of 10 people prefer football to baseball. The hard part is keeping it going once you have a talented and young MLB team, a fairly stacked farm system, and supportive ownership willing to spend in certain situations. That's where you really see problems.

And what mummified the team for all those years? The contracts of Hampton and Helton, of course.

From 2003 until 2010, the Rockies paid Todd Helton about $120 MM to accumulate 31.7 WAR, play a starring role on two playoff teams, and be the face of the franchise. From 2003 until 2008, the Rockies paid Mike Hampton about $60 MM to pitch for other teams. Putting those two deals in the same sentence suggests how utterly unqualified you are to write about this subject. Cautioning the Rockies that there's a chance that the deal "only" works out as well as the 2001-2010 Jeter deal verifies it. You, sir, are a diptard.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

I'm Probably The Only Person in the World Bothered By This, But I've Got the Microphone In My Hand, and Goddamnit, I'm Going To Be Heard!

In a Yahoosports post arguing Ron Santo's HOF case (a case I agree with wholeheartedly, btw), a columnist named Alex Remington posts this "gem":

Third base is the most underrepresented position in the Hall: There are 16 catchers, 25 first basemen, 18 second basemen, 22 shortstops, 21 left fielders, 21 center fielders and 22 right fielders, but only 14 third basemen.

Of those 14, three are former Negro Leaguers, and four are relatively weak players from the dead ball era who were elected by a previous, much more permissive incarnation of the the veterans committee. (These include Frank "Home Run" Baker, whose most notable feature is his nickname, and Freddie Lindstrom, who was mainly elected because he was a member of John McGraw's dynastic New York Giants.)

Emphasis mine. I support Santo's case, but the abject ignorance in this argument kind of undermines the writer's case. Home Run Baker was a fantastic player with a short career, but by nearly any measure significantly better than Santo. Just for a quick and dirty look: in 6660 Plate Appearances, Home Run Baker tallied 63.7 WAR in his career. Santo took 9396 PA to tally 66.4. Is there an argument for longevity? Sure, but to say "Home Run" Baker's most notable feature is his nickname in the same column arguing for the HOF enshrinement of a lesser player seems like a pretty dumb move.

Meanwhile, in the same column, Remington makes an offhand comment indicating he doesn't think Santo stacks up to BBWAA enshrinee Pie Traynor. Another rough and dirty look: In 8293 PA, Traynor has 37.1 WAR (which includes a -3.6 dWAR). Santo, as we saw above, has 66.4 WAR in 9396 PA (which includes a positive dWAR). So it's pretty clear that Remington is very close to completely clueless. But enough about this d-bag. Let's talk like adults about Santo's HOF case.

As far as 3B HOFers go, they probably rank like this:

1. Mike Schmidt
2. George Brett
3. Eddie Matthews
4. Wade Boggs
5. Home Run Baker
6. Maybe Brooks Robinson

That's about it in terms of 3B who are better than Santo at 3B in the HOF. So let the guy in already, for crying out loud. Oh, and Dick Allen, Bert Blyleven, Tim Raines, and Allen Trammell too.


Thursday, December 2, 2010

FMTMQR: Watch out for post-Thanksgiving Christmas Creep!

Oh, the football gods would so chortle at some of the shit in this week's TMQ column if they existed.

In other NFL news, Forget the Titans! Three weeks ago, Tennessee was 5-3 with a 13-5 streak stretching back to last season. Now, the Flaming Thumbtacks have lost three straight; they're playing a befuddled third-string quarterback;

Right, Kerry Collins and Vince Young are both hurt. I know what you're thinking: this is Randy Moss's fault.

coach Jeff Fisher and star Vince Young are openly arguing;

Gotta be Moss!

corner Cortland Finnegan looks like a horse's behind;

Probably from spending too much time around Moss.

and, on Sunday, the Titans were shut out by the league's 31st-ranked defense.

Prime suspect: one of the league's top 20ish WRs.

This can't possibly have anything to do with the arrival of Randy Moss, can it?


On Sunday, Moss didn't bother to chase a deep pass that might have been a touchdown.

Every deep pass "might have been a touchdown." Every WR in the league gives up on them from time to time, because they can tell from having chased thousands of passes during their lifetimes that they won't be able to catch this one. I didn't see the one he's talking about, of course. It's possible that Moss was being a bum and gave up on a catchable ball. But I'm pretty comfortable guessing Gregg is being a doofus as usual and blaming Moss for nothing.

In the games in which Moss started for them, the Patriots, Vikings and Titans are a combined 4-7.

No elite receiver can ever be on a sub-.500 team. It's unpossible. I said it in the comments last week: Broncos fans should just be happy their team's biggest offseason move involved trading away that selfish diva Brandon Marshall. Look where it's gotten them, and look where the Dolphins are! Those suckers.

Also- remember that time Moss was an integral part of a team that scored like 60 points a game and was 3 minutes away from finishing 19-0? Career loser that guy.

Fisher said a month ago, when Tennessee was 5-3, "there is absolutely no risk" in bringing Moss aboard. Tennessee is now 5-6, and it's time to forget the Titans.

Because they have an overrated defense and no QB. Not because they took a flier on a super talented WR who hasn't been able to drag them through their own shitstorm to any wins.

Christmas Creep Veers Into the Absurd:

This is probably my favorite creep segment ever. Read on and be ready to lol.

Since childhood, TMQ has loved the stop-motion animation special "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer," which was first broadcast in 1964. One of the things that first brought my future wife and I together was the discovery that, though we had super-serious careers, we both loved this delightfully cheesy show.

Thanks for the wife story, Simmons.

When our kids were little, they watched "Rudolph" on VCR over and over again in December, memorizing most of the lines. When my youngest was perhaps 8,

Tl;dr. Don't care about your family. Get to the damn point.

It brought a tear to my eye to learn, two months ago, that Billie Mae Richards, the actress who voiced Rudolph, died at age 88 in Canada.

Is there anything less tragic than a voice actor who probably made millions in royalties from her work living to the age of 88?

On Tuesday night, CBS takes Christmas Creep into absurdity

Note the word choice- what follows is patently ABSURD.

by airing "Rudolph" in November!

Oh my. OH MY. GET THE NATIONAL GUARD ON THE PHONE- A FAMOUS AND POPULAR CHRISTMAS TV SPECIAL AIRED 26 DAYS BEFORE CHRISTMAS. There's no way that's true, it's just too absurd. Maybe TV Guide misprinted it.

That's no misprint:


The 2010 broadcast of the show happens on Nov. 30.

Gregg, you are a sad, sad, sad man with an astonishingly strange complaint agenda. You make Larry David sound well-balanced and rational. HAS ANYONE EVER NOTICED THAT THE MACY'S THANKSGIVING DAY PARADE HAS ALL KINDS OF CHRISTMAS-THEMED STUFF IN IT, BUT IT AIRS ON THANKSGIVING? STOP THE MADNESS AMERICA

Will "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" air next September?

Probably not, since no one really cares about Halloween until mid October. As opposed to Christmas, which they care about in late November. Which is the point of him complaining about "creep," I suppose, except that it's perfectly rational to get excited about Christmas a month in advance. It's the biggest or second biggest family holiday of the year for most of America, and what the fuck else are you going to be excited about during December? January and February are the worst months of the year because it's cold and shitty outside and there's nothing to look forward to except spring.

My family will not watch on Tuesday; we will DVR the show and watch it next week,

You rebels! Do the advertisers know about this? You'd think they'd put a stop to this DVR nonsense.

fast-forwarding through the commercials.


Rudolph lovers: Tape the show, save it 'til December and fast-forward through the commercials!

Make a completely inconsequential statement!

Make CBS pay for this absurdity!

Best line Easterbrook has ever written, ever.

Now Jax, trailing 24-20, has first-and-10 on the home team 29 just inside the two-minute warning. The Giants run a choreographed blitz on which Osi Umenyiora, the right end, sprints straight up the field and allows the Jacksonville left tackle to drive him behind Jax quarterback David Garrard -- an action that opens a lane for safety Antrel Rolle to come through unblocked for the sack.

Wait- on a blitz? No fucking way. The correct defense for all downs and distances is to play base coverage and rush four.

Normally, a left tackle who drives the right end behind the quarterback has won the down; in this case, Umenyiora was cooperating to leave a lane for Rolle. Garrard was sacked on each of the next two snaps, closing out the contest. So blitzes themselves aren't bad -- but there's smart blitzing and dumb blitzing.

He's learning, people. He's learning. Now we just have to make him understand that it's OK to punt and kick field goals sometimes. Teams have even won the Super Bowl using those ultra-conservative tactics!

Stop Me Before I Blitz Again! No. 2: With Oakland leading 14-10 late in the first half, the South Florida Dolphins faced third-and-10, beyond field goal range. The Raiders blitzed seven, and an easy completion to the Oakland 20 set up a field goal, helping spark the visitors' comeback win. Why mega-blitz when the opponent isn't in field goal range? Just play coverages and get an incompletion.

Just like that. As if it's equivalent to going to the grocery store and buying a gallon of milk, or picking up your remote control and turning the TV on. Just play coverage, and make sure that one of the (ostensibly) 32 best QBs in the world doesn't pick up 10 yards.

The Minnesota win came against the NFL's worst defense. Still, the Vikings looked more like a team, and less like a jeans promotion organization, than so far this season.

Gregg seems to struggle with the idea that just because they employ Favre as their QB, they don't necessarily spend their time on the field during games promoting all the products he promotes.

Comic-Book Characters, Having Ruined Hollywood, Are Now About to Ruin Broadway: The Spider-Man musical, complete with music by U2, began previews Sunday. Eight years and $65 million in the making, it sounds like the dumbest idea ever for a Broadway show

Here the one time this week when TMQ and I are on the exact same page. That does sound like just about the worst idea ever.

In the latest X-Men movie, about Wolverine, Logan became immortal -- If he's immortal, why is he scared of flying?

Come on, Hollywood writers. YOU'RE DROPPING THE REALISM BALL.

and acquired Superman-class strength, plus the ability to jump tremendous distances. In that movie, Wade Wilson and Agent Zero, who were normal people in the comics, become superpowered mutants. Dozens of men fire machine guns at Wilson at close range, and he uses his mutant super senses to locate the bullets and deflect them away with his fancy swords. Bullets move at 1,500 to 2,000 mph, so Wilson's arms would need to move at several thousand mph to reposition the swords fast enough to deflect every shot. That's flexing your biceps pretty fast. You'd think his skin would melt, and there should be constant sonic booms caused by his arms and the swords.

There are... no words to describe this man's idiocy.