Sunday, August 29, 2010

MMTMQR: AFCP (the P stands for Preview!)

Ohhhhh brother. Lordy. Get ready for more unsubstantiated bullshit (lots and lots of it), more complaints about how sometimes advertisers like to get the word out about their products before the products are available, and of course, plenty of smug comments about how people who claim to be psychic aren't actually psychic. On the other hand, there are no science fiction realism complaints in this week's AFC preview. Speaking of- the NFL season doesn't start for three weeks. CREEP! This information won't be relevant for nearly a month!

Thus you don't have to run the ball well to win at football. Increasingly, you can't run the ball even if you try -- because linemen are getting so big, there's steadily less room for running.

Unsubstantiated bullshit. The best kind, really- unsubstantiated bullshit that has a folksy, simpleton logic to it. Well gee there, y'know, if them boys cain't rush the ball no more, maybe that's cause them other boys tryin'a block for 'em and them other other boys tryin'a tackle dem is gettin' too big!

In 2008, only seven NFL teams rushed more often than they passed. In 2009, the number fell to just four -- Carolina, Cincinnati, Jersey/B and Tennessee. Maybe this is because, as the Football Outsiders website long has contended, establishing the pass has more tactical value (because of more yards gained per attempt) than establishing the run. Maybe it's because rules changes (no contact with the receiver after 5 yards, no head slaps by pass-rushers) encourage the forward pass. Or maybe it's because linemen are now so big.

Maybe it's because of these two other possible explanations that are based on actual thinking and logic- or maybe it's cause the durn players is 10% heavier than they used to be!

Needless to say, my favorite pick of the draft was Myron Rolle.

Fair, but it's also worth noting that your favorite players in any draft are those who are not picked at all. And are then cut from four teams before catching on somewhere.

Had Rolle declared for the 2009 draft, he probably would have gone in the second round. Instead, he took a year off from sports to study at Oxford University on a Rhodes scholarship. Because of this decision, Rolle lasted until the sixth round -- NFL scouts and touts thought placing education over football made him weird. What it made him is smart!

Thank you, Rick Reilly.

Trent Edwards, likely to start at quarterback, seems a nice person. But he was 10-20 as a starter in college and is 14-17 in the pros.

Right- his record from college sucks because he went to Stanford before Jim Harbaugh taught them how to not be atrocious. But don't forget that VINCE YOUNG IS A WINNER. LIKE TEBOW. TEBOW IS THE NEW VINCE YOUNG, AND VINCE YOUNG IS THE SORT OF NEW CHARLIE WARD.

Last year, Edwards was the NFL's shortest passer in an ultraconservative offense, with only 11 percent of his pass attempts traveling more than 20 yards. Winning NFL teams -- New Orleans, Minnesota, Indianapolis,

Anyone else?

New Orleans --

Ah right. And Minnesota as well.

do not play ultraconservative, as the Bills have for several seasons.

Teams with awesome QBs tend to throw deep a lot. Maybe if Trent Edwards just starts throwing deep more, he will become as great as Manning or Brees or Favre or Brees.

Three years ago, the Giants faced a meaningless season-finale game against the Patriots, went all-out to win and nearly did; when the two teams met a month later in the playoffs, at the Super Bowl, the Giants prevailed. The gung-ho attitude showed in the meaningless final regular-season game surely was a factor. Last season, the Bengals faced a meaningless season-finale game against the Jets, rolled over, and the next week lost again to the Jets at home in the playoffs: two losses to Jersey/B in consecutive weeks, by a combined 61-14 score. Not trying to win that season-finale game surely was a factor in Cincinnati's early playoff exit.

Meanwhile, the Saints started 13-0, then lost their last three regular season games. In their week 17 regular season finale, Drew Brees didn't take a snap. And this surely was a factor in... something.

SI Swimsuit Count: Annually TMQ tallies the number of disrobed babes in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition: Somebody's got to do this!

You are a creep, and no one cares.

Cleveland Browns: What is it that new Browns president Mike Holmgren saw on tape of Jake Delhomme that no one else sees? Holmgren traded away Brady Quinn, passed on Tim Tebow and Jimmy Clausen in the draft,

And drafted Colt McCoy- but don't mention that, because it doesn't fit within the idea of this section.

and handed the Cleveland starting quarterback's job -- plus $7 million guaranteed in 2010 -- to Delhomme, who has thrown 35 interceptions over the past two seasons.

So that Colt McCoy wouldn't have to start as a rookie and throw 35 interceptions.

Denver Broncos: Talk about turbulence -- this was the second consecutive offseason of upheavel in Dove Valley. A year ago, Mike Shanahan was cashiered and Jay Cutler airmailed to Chicago; this year, two high-profile quarterbacks were brought in (Tebow and Quinn)

In what world is Brady Quinn still considered high-profile? Was this paragraph originally drafted in 2006?

Trades brought Josh "When Does the Frat Party Start?" McDaniels an impressive 10 high draft choices (first, second or third round) in his first two drafts with the Broncos -- but only one pick was invested in an offensive lineman, which increasing looks like a problem area for this team. Denver now has three prominent, big-salary quarterbacks on its roster (Kyle Orton, plus Quinn and Tebow),

Am I missing something here? Has Brady Quinn done anything in the NFL for the past three years besides suck balls? Excuse me- prominently suck balls.

Indianapolis Colts Last season, the Colts opened 14-0 and closed 2-3. Guess that pretty much settles the argument about whether a team that has locked up its best playoff seed should stop trying to win.

Again- the Saints started 13-0, then went 0-3 while giving its starting QB an entire game off, then finished 3-0. So yeah. Let's leave that argument open.

Polian said the Indianapolis offensive line "did not have a good game … they were outplayed by the Saints' defensive line … pretty decisively." Maybe, but the Colts would not have reached the Super Bowl without that line.

THAT MEANS YOU CAN'T SAY ANYTHING BAD ABOUT THEM EVER. Those of you riding Scott Norwood for missing that Super Bowl kick for the Bills- just keep in mind how many other field goals he DID make. (Not that I'm a Norwood hater or anything. Dude dealt with all that nonsense pretty well.)

Hank Baskett was criticized for flubbing the second-half-opening onside kick; but what about special-teams coach Ray Rychleski, who failed to warn his charges to watch for an onside?

More unsubstantiated bullshit. Because if Rychleski actually HAD warned the special teamers, how would Greg make his point (not copied and pasted- that Peyton Manning and Jim Caldwell shouldn't escape criticism)?

(The unusually long Super Bowl halftime show was perfect for making the receiving team fall asleep.)

It was exactly as long as the 2007 Super Bowl halftime show (Prince was the performer- remember his boner guitar silhouette thing?). In that game, the Bears kicked to the Colts to open the second half. Just saying- the Colts had been here before.

Reggie Wayne was criticized for dropping the touchdown pass that would have given Indianapolis a last gasp in the final minute, but why wasn't Manning criticized for his bad fourth-quarter pass that was returned for a touchdown?

Manning was relentlessly raked over the coals for that pick. Everywhere- MSM, blogs, water coolers (or at least the ones I frequent). Holy moly. You really will just go out and change facts wherever you can to make them fit your point, won't you? You know, it's really a shame no one ever talked about the Babe Ruth curse during the 2004 World Series- just goes to prove my point that stories about Boston's sports teams are tragically underreported these days.

Jacksonville Jaguars: In the past two drafts, Jax used two first-round, one second-round and two third-round choices on offensive and defensive tackles. In the previous draft, counting trades, Jax spent first-, second-, third- and fourth-round choices on defensive ends. And this offseason, Jacksonville signed defensive end Aaron Kampman to a big-bucks free-agency deal. So far, there isn't much return on the investment. Last season, the Jaguars opened 6-4, then closed 1-5: Both the offensive and defensive lines seemed to weaken down the stretch.

More unsubstantiated bullshit.

New York Jets: Since Rex Ryan took over the Jersey/B Jets in winter 2009, you'd think the emphasis would have been on defensive trench types.

No, I'd think the emphasis would be on whatever players the Jets needed most. Last year they had one of the best offensive lines in the the NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE- therefore it's not very surprising to me that Ryan hasn't really focused on drafting any offensive linemen.

You'd think wrong: Ryan has used his high draft choices and trade material to obtain a quarterback, three running backs, a cornerback, two wide receivers and two offensive linemen -- mostly skinny glory boys, and no front seven personnel at all.

If only Ryan had Gregg's uncanny general managerial skills- the Jets might just be going places this year.

"Blood, Sweat and Chalk" does a fine job of emphasizing how high school and small-college football -- Whittier, Iowa Wesleyan, Glenville State, William&Mary, Emory&Henry, Portland State -- influenced the development of football tactics. In many cases, big universities and pro coaches took the credit for ideas begun in the prep or small-college ranks.

Reminds me of the way the mean University of Louisiana coach stole Henry Winkler's magical playbook in "The Waterboy."

I See Gullible Marks … No, Wait, I See Federal Agents: Why didn't six people who make their livings as psychics see the indictment coming?

Take that, so-called psychics! Gregg is blowing the lid off this one! Call up Chris Hansen and Dateline NBC- we've got a story to sell them.

Christmas Creep:

Is there anything left to say about this topic? Nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnope.

Why do the Chargers of late perform well in the regular season then wheeze out in January? Maybe it's the San Diego lifestyle: They want to take off the athletic tape and hit the beach. Or maybe this team lacks mental toughness.

Unsubstantiated bullshit.

All football games are hard physically, but playoff games are notably harder mentally than regular-season games. The further into the postseason a team advances, the more important psychology becomes -- because if you lose, you are embarrassed and your season is over, whereas if you lose in the regular season, that's annoying, but maybe you'll play better next week. The Chargers are a physically strong team but do not seem mentally strong.

My guess- they're having a hard time dealing with how big offensive and defensive linemen are getting these days.

I really don't think I can do another full season of this shit. I hope Simmons takes the time to write something new soon so I can focus on him. In the meantime- six more podcasts with Bill's high school friends, and another with Seth Myers.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Mariotti Fallout

In the last few days I've read a few of the pieces about the JayBird's fall from grace. If you've been asleep at your keyboard, the sportsblogosphere has been awash with joy at Mariotti's tumble. Here are a few of the sites weighing in:

Sports By Brooks has chronicled an exhaustive list of all the times Jay's castigated a professional athlete for domestic violence issues over the last twenty years or so. It's a pretty extensive list, and the SBB post excerpts all the relevant pieces which do a clear job of exposing Jay's willingness to criticize.

Deadspin has gotten ahold of an alleged eyewitness and even a photo of both the woman and the apartment lobby in question.

Richard Deitsch at has collected a few interesting viewpoints from around the media, though he mostly discusses the vitriolic response of FJayM whipping boy Gregg Doyel. Apparently Doyel had a Mariotti-related rant on his Twitter account (quick recap of the tweets here) a few nights ago. After reading Doyel's Twitter account it is clear to me that these sportswriters have an enormous amount of time on their hands to tweet about bullshit. After reading a few of Gregg's thoughts, it's clear that in spending a great amount of his energy castigating someone before knowing the facts, he seems to lack a sense of self-awareness.

Doyel had this to say:

"My initial thought was of the irony," Doyel said. "Here's a guy who writes without pause or nuance about athlete misbehavior. There is no gray with him, only black and white. In his columns he's fired more people than Donald Trump -- and for doing the exact thing Mariotti was accused of doing the other night. I was shocked by the news, and I was disgusted."

Gregg's timing reveals that he's preposterously eager to see his own version of Jay confirmed in public. It's evident in the way he says it - carefully including the "accused of" phrase to technically cover his ass when he obviously has convicted Jay in his mind. Convicted him not because he has any factual knowledge of the events but because it's a perfect opportunity to kick an enemy when he's down.

[Aside: one of my favorite Onion sidebars ever, moderately relevant at this point: "Bully Not So Tough After Being Molested". Cringe humor. Awesome.]

Even Ochocinco seems to have grasped the fundamentals of the situation. Lord knows he's not one to withhold his thoughts.

In my opinion, the Miami Herald's Dan le Batard offers the most dispassionate and long-distance view of the situation. He points out that Mariotti is a symbol of a greater malaise within the sports world, and the overwhelming vitriol spewing out of the mainstream media and the blogosphere is disconcerting. He correctly recognizes Mariotti as a caricature who's unrepresentative of the sports media as a whole, but also suggests that the sheer glee with which his colleagues have reacted to Jay's situation is a symptom of a culture too obsessed with grabbing attention - even at the expense of core values like "fairness and fair play and compassion". It sounds a little hokey when put that way, but it rings true.

I fall in with Le Batard's take. Domestic violence isn't joyful, and an overhwelming reaction against Mariotti misses the point: he's a symbol of what people want. In a way, Jay isn't really Jay - he's just a stand-in for our own appreciation of an entertainer who stirs the pot on television and in print with a skill that infuriates but grabs attention. He's the face of our desire for entertainment. We hate that, and we hate that Jay has made a ton of money off that... but Jay wouldn't have made that dough and gotten his name in the bylines and his mug on the screen if there weren't enough of us clamoring for it. The sports media is big business, and these companies wouldn't have hired Jay if people didn't want Jay.

Don't confuse your hatred of Jay the personality's existence with a hatred of Jay as a person. I make no attempt to defend Jay's actions or personality: a quick glance at our posts reveals that we think he's an asshole, at least in print. The facts may bear out in any number of directions, and Jay has surely earned little sympathy or forgiveness. But public humiliation went out of style a few hundred years ago.

I suppose we've carved out our own little niche of the blogosphere tearing Jay up, and it's paying off enough that our traffic on the 21st went up more than twelvefold compared to the previous two Saturdays. It pains me to think that we might be making our last few posts labeled "Jay Mariotti" and may even have a moderate identity crisis soon, but at this point there's not much left to say. Let the court case come out where it will; let the eventual firing happen in its course (doubt any media employer would take him now even if the accusation proved false); let Jay go back to being whoever he was before the media conglomerates gave him the pulpit to fulminate from.

To the rest of the sports media: if we really want to attack the problem here, we should take our last opportunity to keep Jay off the air and tone down our attacks on him. Why not just let Jay slink away into whatever career might be left for him? Is that such a bad solution?

Monday, August 23, 2010

MMTMQR: New Season, Same Shit

Come one, come all- marvel at Gregg's continuing inability to suspend disbelief when he watches TV, understand how clocks work in the context of sports, or get over the fact that sometimes events get advertised a few months before they happen.

But isn't getting the outcome right what matters? If everybody knows the right outcome is a Galarraga perfect game, why not bring about the right outcome?

The problem is that a bad call or calls alone can't be grounds for reversal of outcome, since it's impossible to know how the game would have unfolded later if the calls had been correct.

Consider the two disputed calls against Seattle in the Seahawks-Steelers Super Bowl. Had those calls been correct, Pittsburgh might have gone on to win regardless. There also were two arguable calls that went Seattle's way -- would those be reversed, too? It sucked for Seattle that two bad fourth-quarter calls occurred (and that the zebras failed to impose the time-honored, corrective, makeup calls). But in that case, the only alternative would have been to replay the entire game.

First of all, no fucking shit. Thanks for explaining that. This is like sitting down a 17 year old kid and telling them how babies are made. Second of all, keep this kind of normal and obvious logic (changing an event at time X will affect all events that took place at times X + anything) in mind for later in Gregg's article.

As for Tuesday Morning Quarterback, I'm back and I'm bad!


Well, I'm back.

Oh no he didn't!

What follows is my annual review of offseason nuttiness.

What follows is the printed word equivalent of being kicked directly in the balls.

New York Being in New Jersey Seems Accurate by Comparison: In the NCAA men's basketball tournament, Milwaukee and Buffalo played host to West Regional games. Spokane, Wash., played host to Midwest Regional games. San Jose, Calif., played host to East Regional games.

ABSURD! Why don't they DO anything about this? IT MAKES NO SENSE. Meanwhile, Americans everywhere continue to care about 10,000 other more important things.

"Later On, We'll Conspire ..." On Feb. 26, the ice skating rink in Prospect Park in Brooklyn, N.Y., was closed -- because of snow.

I just think it's funny that Gregg can't imagine how this might happen/finds it hilarious or notable that it did happen and thus found it worthy of inclusion in this column.

In retrospect, could that nationally televised kiss have been more evidence that everything about Al Gore is phony? When Sandra Bullock and Scarlett Johansson played tongue hockey at the MTV Movie Awards, their mega-smooch was obviously done for publicity; they didn't claim to be in love. Al, on the other hand, wanted us to believe his feelings for Tipper were genuine.

Nice analysis, and only ten years too late. Why this fuck is this worthy of discussion? Next week, Gregg tackles the pressing question of today: where is Britney Spears's music career headed?

BOEMRE to the Rescue: After the spill, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar changed the name of the Minerals Management Service to the unpronounceable Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement. Replacing one agency with three is a classic government response -- the bureaucracy failed, so let's have more bureaucracy!

Smugness: A+. Accuracy: no credit awarded. Surprisingly, making the title of a government office longer is not the same as dividing it into multiple offices.

Cold Coach = Victory: Reader Jerrod Ewing of Columbia, S.C., notes that when the United States lost to Ghana in the World Cup, U.S. coach Bob Bradley wore a ski parka, though the temperature in Rustenberg, South Africa, was 52 degrees Fahrenheit.

Yep, he's still talking about this.

Boston led the series 3-2, then lost the last two. In those contests, big man Rasheed Wallace heave-hoed 10 3-point attempts, missing nine; had Wallace simply stayed near the basket in Game 7, a four-point Celtics loss, Boston might have won the NBA championship.

It's only fair to mention that he used the word "might," but this is the kind of writing that I think juxtaposes nicely with the introductory paragraph (about why it's not worth reviewing officials' calls in most cases). Obviously you can't change a call in hindsight, because that might have changed the path of the rest of the game... but you CAN suppose that if one player had played differently during a game which involved 20 players, the outcome would have changed entirely.

LeBron James has never won an NBA championship -- as opposed to, say, Derek Fisher, who owns five rings.

This is the kind of analysis that gets you millions on Around the Horn. And hey, I hear there's a spot opening up! TOO SOON????!?!?!

What exactly are his accomplishments, beyond making money and getting media attention?

Being amazing at basketball?

Supposedly, James is unstoppable, but in the playoffs he has been stopped on an annual basis.

He has yet to win a title (unlike Derek Fisher, who is obviously superior in every way)- he has also averaged 29 points, 8 rebounds, and 7 assists in 71 career playoff games. If that counts as being "stopped," just call me Bruce Bowen!

Bruce Bowen, Robert Horry and Michael Finley: These are players who started against James the one time he reached the NBA Finals and defeated him. Horry owns seven NBA championship rings; he is a substantially more accomplished basketball player than James.

See above.

Yes, James wins trophies for himself. The most tedious figures in sports are the ones who collect individual awards but never make their teammates better.

Like much of America, I'm a LeBron hater these days. But those two sentences are so dumb they're not even worth addressing directly. I just figured I'd copy and paste them here for your enjoyment. Also: David Eckstein >>>>>>> Barry Bonds.

Once, James seemed a special person because he was loyal to Ohio, a nonglamorous place with all kinds of problems. When James made his announcement, the carefully screened little kids at the Boys & Girls Club of Greenwich, Conn., didn't clap; they groaned in unison.

No one groaned. Stop being so dramatic- you make me want to set myself on fire. (Credit to Lindsay Bluth)

The Queen of England announced she would cut her personal staff of 1,400, which includes an official "counter of swans."

EMPLOYMENT COUNSELOR: Your résumé notes you have experience as a counter of swans. We don't get a lot of calls for that.

COUNTER: An official counter of swans. I was the Queen's official counter. Unofficial swan estimates can be deceiving.

Good to see that Simmons is brushing up on his comedy writing skills by helping Gregg out with his TMQ column.

The "V" Aliens Can Build Enormous Faster-Than-Light Starcruisers, Yet Don't Understand Cell Phones: There's not much out there on TV for science fiction aficionados: "V" is awful, "Stargate Universe" is plodding and "Fringe" is only sorta sci-fi.

As for "V," we are asked to believe that enormous starcruisers could


I See Big Profits ... No, Wait, I See the FBI ... Sean David Morton, who claims both the gift of prophecy and remote-viewing ability, was sued by the Securities and Exchange Commission, which alleges he swindled $6 million from investors by claiming he could foresee movements in currency markets. Why didn't he foresee getting caught?

One of Gregg's more "under the radar" idiotic bits that he uses all too often. Yes, people out there advertise themselves as psychic. No, none of them are actually psychic. Thanks for blowing the lid off that story, Gregg. Thanks for bringing it to light.

They Should Have Eaten Doughnuts on the Ice: Hockey Canada issued a formal apology when members of the women's Canadian national team drank beer and smoked cigars on the ice after winning the gold medal at the Vancouver Olympics. In Canada, drinking beer at hockey games is seemingly mandatory: the problem was that some team members are below the legal drinking age in British Columbia. What TMQ wants to know is how the women got beer onto the ice mere seconds after the contest concluded. Isn't the only possible explanation that the Canadian women's hockey team went into the Olympic finals with a cooler of beer at their bench?

Why didn't the hockey Gods punish them for their hubris? You'd better believe the football Gods wouldn't have tolerated that shit. Shocking that Gregg bothered to bring this up, actually- he usually only writes about something if it reinforces one of his long standing theses (here, that being cocky will cause a team to lose because a mythical figure or figures controls the team's fate).

Christmas Creep:


Unified Field Theory of Creep: The year's first summer movie, "Iron Man 2," opened on May 7. As noted by many readers, including Leah Tilford of Madison, Wis., the opening-week ads proclaimed, "Summer officially begins Friday!" That "official" start of summer came weeks before school ended and 45 days prior to the June solstice. This "summer" movie had already closed before the summer solstice arrived.

The audacity. Will someone please stop the madness? It's almost as if movie studios acknowledge the season of summer in such a way that fits the common definition many people assign to the season.

Clang! Clang! Clang! No. 1 seed Kentucky missed 20 consecutive 3-point attempts on the way to 4-of-32 3-point shooting in losing to West Virginia in the men's NCAA basketball tournament. And the game was close to the end -- there was no need to go trey-wacky. Shortly afterward, all five Kentucky starters left school early for the pro basketball draft. All five became first-round choices -- though playing together, they weren't good enough to reach the Final Four. Those failed 3s meant Kentucky players only care about their own stats, not whether the team wins.

Shockingly, this is only the second dumbest passage in the column (after the LeBron doesn't make his teammates better thing). Attempting three pointers means you don't care about your teammates. In fact, that's what attempting field goals of any kind means! Real TEAMS win without attempting any FGs. Or free throws- those are a sign of not properly respecting the game.

Clang! Clang! Clang! In his first game with the Cleveland Cavaliers, megabucks All-Star Antawn Jamison went 0-for-12. In his final game of the season, Jamison went 2-for-10.

And that's just character assassination. No commentary- just raw stats and an implicit conclusion that this guy blows because he had a couple of bad games. Glad you're back, Gregg! See you every Wednesday/Thursday/whenever I get to it this fall.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Huh. Interesting

Not that we here at FireJay condone domestic violence or anything... but it seems somewhat likely that this will lead to a firing of some kind. So in that sense, and that sense only- hooray!

TMQR post coming up later this weekend.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

I Like Karl Ravech. Having Said That-

Put him on the list of people who literally make me angry. Earlier, on Baseball Tonight, Karl said

The use of instant replay in the Little League World Series is literally a watershed moment.


Thursday, August 12, 2010

By Far Bill's Worst Baseball Article Ever, Part 2

Aaaaaand we're back. Eleven days later. What does this half of the article hold? Will we learn about how popular triple A baseball is? Will Hench make an angry posting on a Sox message board? Will Bill talk about how it doesn't matter that Kevin Youkilis is out for the season, because he's not an exciting player in the mold of Jason Bay? (Unlikely, since the injury occurred after this article was written- although it happened since I wrote about the first half of this shitpile, so you never know, maybe ESPN's editors updated it.)

Before I try to bumblefuck my way through it, let me restate a key point that Chris W made in the comments of last week's installment: it's OK to be a frontrunner. It's not some major sin against all that is good and holy in sports- most teams thrive on frontrunners. With a few rare exceptions, when teams suck, fan interest goes down. When they compete for titles, fan interest goes up. Being a part of that group that pays attention to a team when they're going great and stops caring when they stink isn't that big of a deal. I mean... it kind of hurts your credibility as a fan. But whatever. So it's not that my last post and this one should be summarized as "HAHA BILL IS A FAIRWEATHER FAN AND THAT MAKES HIM DUMB," they should actually be summarized as "HAHA BILL IS A FAIRWEATHER FAN AND REFUSES TO ADMIT AS MUCH, INSTEAD CRAFTING AN ELABORATE WEB OF RETARDERY AND BULLSHIT TO JUSTIFY THE FACT THAT HE'S NOT WATCHING RED SOX GAMES THIS YEAR." You feel me? I know you do. Back to the madness.


MLB's defenders will point to attendance numbers (dropped in 2008, held tight in 2009 and 2010), its history (by far the most significant of the four major sports), its World Series ratings (still better than the NBA Finals) and a new generation of younger-than-25 stars (Strasburg, Heyward, Price, Longoria, Posey, Santana, etc.) who rank among baseball's biggest talent boons ever. Troublemakers like me will point to the following things:

The attendance numbers didn't keep plummeting only because of discount deals and cheaper tickets.

Ridiculous argument, does not apply more to baseball than it does to any other sport or recreational activity that costs money. Now, let's stop and think for a moment. What... what happened in 2008 (and didn't unhappen, so to speak, in 2009 or 2010) that might have affected ticket sales numbers? What indeed. Hey, Mr. "Troublemaker"- how about instead of seeing a sales phenomenon in the real world and assuming it must be happening because durka durr people no like buying that thing no more, instead we look at the how the economy as a whole might have affected consumer interest in the good? Now, I'm not exactly getting my doctorate in economics here. I probably don't understand the whole situation. But I'm willing to be that economy shits the bed => people lose jobs => people have less disposable income => people stop going to baseball games is a reasonable chain of causation.

Shouldn't baseball worry that the onslaught of new ballparks (20 since the Skydome in 1989) caused an ongoing attendance bump that's soon coming to an end?

Shouldn't you try to justify your assertion that stadium attendance bumps last more than a couple seasons? The Nationals' new stadium (opened in 2008) is gorgeous and has reasonably priced concessions and tickets. Go to a non-Strasburg start there- I did four or five times this summer- and see if that bump is still bumping. (It's not. There will be like 5,000 people in the park.) That's one anecdote, but I'm fairly certain I've got this point locked down. It's not like the Orioles are still riding a bump from opening Camden Yards 18 years ago. It's not like the Mariners are still riding one from opening Safeco 11 years ago. Etc. So no, baseball shouldn't worry about this.

The honeymoon "we have a new park!" stage eventually wore off in Baltimore,

When they started losing. Last playoff appearance: 1997. Last winning season: 1997.


When they started losing. One playoff appearance since 2001. Two winning seasons since 2001.


Last playoff appearance: 1993.

and Houston.

They were actually pretty good for most of the '00s, but whatever.

Who's next? When the dust settles, attendance will hinge on the same thing it always did: winning.

Yes, diptard. Good for you. That's correct. That's why the Rockies, Phillies, Angels, etc. have good attendance numbers the past few years despite the fact that THE GLOSS HAS WORN OFF THEIR ONCE-SHINY STADIUMS. You can pack shitty Wrigley Field or Fenway Park with 34,000 fans a night if the Cubs/Red Sox are winning. On the other hand, people will not go to super fancy nice family-friendly affordable Nationals Park if the Nationals blow.

Especially in the 65-Inch HD Plasma/DirecTV Package/"Screw It, I'd Rather Just Stay Home and Flick Channels" Era

Which is why NESN ratings are way down this year. Oh waiiiiiiiiiiiiit. FRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRONTrunners.

There isn't a single baseball star who could have gotten a 4 rating for switching teams, much less a 9 rating like LeBron did.

Ridiculous argument, does not apply more to baseball than it does to any other league besides the NBA and any other player besides LeBron. No other athlete in the country could have pulled that kind of a ratings number. I don't even think that cockhole Brett Favre could do it. Among big US team sports, the NBA glorifies individuals the most. Add that together with the fact that LeBron is considered to be one of the greatest players ever, still in his prime, and yeah. It's a bit of a unique situation.

Right now, Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez are the only mainstream famous baseball players. That's the list. And they're a combined 71 years old. My goofy take on this: The narcissism, chest-pounding and me-first mentality of stars in other sports has, perhaps unfairly, made baseball players seem boring as hell.

That's fine, and maybe somewhat true, although hockey isn't a whole lot different. But the point of sports is not to generate ratings for some ill-contrived TV special. 99.9% of all professional athletes would never even begin to consider doing something as stupid as going forward with "The Decision," because only 0.1% of all players in all sports can even generate the kind of free agent interest LeBron did. This is not a strike against baseball. It's a reflection of how insecure and stupid LeBron is (in the PR department anyways). If Joe Mauer hadn't signed that extension with the Twins, and he wanted to do his own TV special during this winter's free agency, it would have generated a lot of interest. And would have been hilarious. Would it have generated "LeBron interest?" No. But that's the NBA for you. Trying to use "The Decision" as evidence that baseball is "declining" is like trying to base your entire argument that scripted television is declining on the fact that American Idol gets great ratings.

Hell, even when George Steinbrenner died, the ensuing coverage reminded us of that gloriously crazy era in the '70s and '80s when players wrote tell-all books and ripped teammates,

That happened in the 00s too- with hilarious consequences.

drunk managers fought drunk pitchers in hotel bars,

Now drunk managers just leave the bar, get behind the wheel, and fall asleep on their way home. Oh wait, that's just legendary hyprocrite/asswad Tony La Russa.

players swapped wives,

Probably still happens.

superstars made quotes like "I'm the straw that stirs the drink,"

Bonds used to drop some pretty good one liners. My favorite is "I'm not afraid to be lonely at the top." Rickey Henderson, perhaps the most quotable superstar of all time, played into the 00s. Granted, those guys aren't around in 2010. Still, this isn't just a 70s thing.

owners derisively called their best player "Mr. May" and hired convicted felons to frame them,

Probably doesn't happen much anymore.

pitchers beaned guys just for sport, guys took 26-second home run trots, teams had bench-clearers five times per year and everything else that made baseball so much fun. Now, it's all about RESPECTING THE GAME, MAN!

Yes and no. The league itself has harshly cracked down on beanballs and fighting, because it's worried that too much of that hurts fan interest and costs everyone money. (Bless hockey for not giving in to that line of thinking too much.) The players are also pretty interested in getting their share of all that money, so they generally avoid getting suspended/being labeled loose cannons and generally toe the league's line. I don't think it's so much about respect as it is about money. Players are also a lot more buddy-buddy with one another than they once were, probably due in part to the rise of cell phones (and the damn social networking face books!) and in part due to how often most guys change teams and meet a new set of teammates. It's all one big happy family. This is why I say: Brandon Phillips rules for defying that culture.

We're feeling the effects of two solid decades of World Series games ending well after the bedtime of any prospective young fan.

True, starting games at 8:30 eastern really hurts the number of kids in the Eastern time zone who can watch them. That's half the country's population. On the other hand, half the country's population isn't subjected to those kinds of late nights. Twenty percent of the US lives in the Pacific zone. Even kids out there with a 9 PM bedtime have seen nearly every out of every world series ever televised. Not saying this is a good policy by the league, but it's funny and east coasty for Bill to talk about "any prospective young fan" up there. Especially considering where he lives. Maybe he's referring just to kids who are Red Sox fans? But those little assholes are everywhere, coast to coast. Frrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

And don't kids have dozens more choices in 2010 than they did in 1975? Back in 1975,


I went outside, whipped a baseball off the wall, dove for it and pretended I was Freddie Lynn. Do kids do that now? Isn't it more likely that they're watching Nick Jr., playing video games, watching DVDs, messing around with the computer ... how could baseball possibly mean as much to a young kid now?

Ridiculous argument, does not apply more to baseball than it does to any other sport or outdoor activity. The NFL seems to be doing OK these days.


Soooo.... more than half of the reason Bill isn't following the Red Sox is because their games are running long. Let's see where this leads.

There are two separate issues here. The first: Nobody wants to spend 3½ hours watching anything on television. Not even porn.

Certainly not NCAA football games, which regularly run that long, or NFL games, which are usually right around 3 hours and occasionally run longer. THE EXTRA 27 MINUTES MAKE ALL THE DIFFERENCE THOUGH! RED SOX FANS ALWAYS LOSE INTEREST IN THE TOP OF THE 8TH!

The second: It's not that fun to spend 30-45 minutes driving to a game, paying for parking, parking, waiting in line to get in, finding your seat ... and then, spend the next three-plus hours watching people play baseball ... and then, leave, find your car and drive home. That's potentially a five-hour commitment. Ludicrous.

Ludicrous! When did this start happening? Decades ago? Oh. Also, I understand Bill is mostly focusing on the Red Sox here, and (as he's about to explain) their games are longer than average, but most MLB teams are finishing up most of their games under 180 minutes. Just saying.

By the way, have you ever looked around during a baseball game these days? It's 35,000 people texting or writing/reading e-mails while they wait for something to happen.

Ridiculous argument, does not apply more to baseball than it does to any other spectator sport or outdoor activity. Have you ever looked around a concert? A restaurant? A movie theater? Assholes everywhere are on their cell phones every waking minute. I would know, I'm one of them.

I went back and examined the times of games of my most memorable Red Sox seasons (1975, 1978, 1986, 1999, 2004, 2007) along with 2002 (when we first worried that games were becoming too slow) and 2010 (through 101 games). Check this out; it's incredible.

Check out how it totally explains how Bill has just now, just this season, stopped following the Red Sox.

[data from earlier seasons, when games were shorter, skipped]

2007 Red Sox

2 or less -- 0
2:01-2:30 -- 11
2:31-3:00 -- 48
3:01-4:00 -- 97 (5 extra)
More than 4 -- 6 (2 extra)

(Note: Uh-oh. One-hundred three of 162 games dragging past three hours??? Call it the Tipping Point ... as in, "I'm tipping over because I just fell asleep." I blame the recent frenzy of milking pitch counts, the constant preening between pitches and more frequent pitching changes. Yes, I look forward to those arguments being struck down by an angry blogger within the next 48 hours.)

2010 Red Sox (101 games)

2 or less -- 0
2:01-2:30 -- 1
2:31-3:00 -- 41
3:01-4:00 -- 53 (7 extra)
More than 4 -- 6 (4 extra)

(Shaking my head.)

So as you can see, Red Sox fans like Bill were paying attention in 2007 because games were so much shorter back then. In 2007, 63% of their games lasted for more than three hours. But here in 2010, that figure has skyrocketed to 59%.

What a nightmare. I'm the same guy who once created the 150-Minute Rule for all movies, sporting events, concerts, even sex -- if you edge past 150 minutes for anything, you better have a really good reason.

Again, see: NFL and NCAA football.

Meanwhile, National League games move significantly faster: Every NL team has played at least 50 percent of its 2010 games in less than three hours, led by St. Louis, who cranked out 71 of its 102 games in less than three hours. That tells me the following things:

1. We need to dump the DH. Like, right now.

Agreed. But not because it might make games marginally shorter.

It's stupid, anyway.

OK, we're on the same page. [Insert Chris W rant about how awesome the DH is here. YOU DON'T WANT TO SEE PITCHERS BAT, DO YOU? THEY'RE NOT EVEN GOOD AT IT!]

2. We're only a few other tweaks away from getting these games to a manageable time. What about giving managers six timeouts during a game in which they can cross the baseline, and that's it?

Horrible idea, and most managers don't cross the baseline that many times in a game anyways. I bet there's an average of like 2.5 mid-inning pitching changes per team per game.

What about a 15-second pitch-clock?

If the bases are empty, maybe. Otherwise: horrible idea.

What about giving hitters three seconds to leave the batter's box, or it's another strike? (Unless you've tipped a ball off your foot, caught something in your eye or desperately need to adjust your boys.)

What does this mean? Three seconds to leave after a pitch? Most guys do that- the problem in terms of game length, to the extent that there is one, is that the hitters leave after a pitch and then spend the next 30 seconds outside the box, fucking around with their clothing/equipment and looking for hot women in the stands.

What about two minutes between half-innings for commercials, then the next hitter has to be standing in the batter's box at 2:01?

This kind of already exists, I believe.

Look, we could throw out unrealistic suggestions like "no baserunner can take a lead past a defined line within 7 feet of the base" (to eliminate pickoff throws); "every batter needs to bring a second bat to the on-deck circle" (in case he breaks the first one); "relievers don't get to warm up;" "catchers can visit the mound only once per inning;" "we wire the area around the home plate and electrocute batters any time they step out to adjust their elbow pads or their crotch;"

To the extent that any of these (except the last one, obviously) are serious suggestions, the people who made them should be kicked squarely in the balls.

The most damning fact about these interminably long games? They pushed some die-hard fans toward English Premier League and World Cup games mainly because we knew those games would end in less than two hours.

Second best line in the whole damn article. LET'S BREAK DOWN WHY THIS IS COMICALLY DUMB, SIMMONS STYLE

1) "Some die-hard fans" = Bill and maybe a few of his friends, mostly while the World Cup was on

2) World Cup games and EPL games, if watched live, take place in the morning or early afternoon here in the US

3) The EPL and MLB seasons overlap by like a month; saying you've switched fandom from one to the other is like saying you've stopped being a fan of going to the beach during the summer because you're much more interested in going snowboarding during the winter.

4) Frrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

Like you, I have a lot of crap going on. I have a job (no, really, they pay me for this),

His job is to watch and write about sports. With a job like that, who has time to watch sports?!?!?!

I have a wife, I have kids, I have a bunch of things I like to watch at night.

Like the Red Sox, as long as it's 2007, 2008, or 2009 and they're on track to make the playoffs.

Slogging through a 3-hour, 45-minute anything just isn't entertaining. We have too many choices in 2010. That, over anything else, is why those NESN ratings dropped in 2010.

Best line in the whole damn article. Let's review. Entertainment/family/etc. choices in 2009: nearly infinite. Same choices in 2010: apparently even MORE nearly infinite. Let's read that again, because it's so beautiful.

Slogging through a 3-hour, 45-minute anything just isn't entertaining. We have too many choices in 2010. That, over anything else, is why those NESN ratings dropped in 2010.

Soak it up, folks. Soak it up. Everyone in Boston will remember 2010 as the year we had too many time usage choices (as opposed to any of the previous three years, when there were way fewer choices AND it just so happened that the Red Sox were much closer to playoff contention).

The big question? Will Bud Selig do something about it?

Bud Selig is an asshole. To the extent that game length (or at least RED SOX NATION GAME LENGTH) is a problem, I doubt Selig does anything about it.

I do think Selig cares a little; if he didn't, baseball wouldn't have made such a concerted effort to reduce prices for families. Three facts since the economy went south:

You're just now connecting that dot with the "ticket sales are down" dot?

87 percent of MLB clubs now offer tickets for $10 or less; 80 percent of MLB clubs now offer price reductions on merchandise and concessions; and 57 percent of the clubs now offer tickets for $5.50 or less on a regular basis. Team Selig has done a terrific job of keeping fans coming to ballparks. Now it should start worrying about keeping them awake.

I think it should start worrying about moving the Rays over to the NL (assume it's within league rules to do that before the end of the 2010 regular season). What do you think that would do to NESN's ratings?

Estimated time of arrival for Bill's next article about baseball: June 2011, when the Red Sox have just swept the Yankees and sit four games up in the AL East.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Woody Paige is lazy and wrong

Wow, who knew that Larry never actually removed me as a contributor on this site.

Anyways, Woody Paige wrote an article about Floyd Little being inducted into the hall of fame (GO BRONCOS) and included this anecdote.

When Floyd played his second season with the Broncos, 1968, he couldn't dream of being in the Hall of Fame. Floyd was "fired" by coach Lou Saban on Nov. 24 after he fumbled, resulting in a go-ahead touchdown by Buffalo. But Floyd defied Saban, returned to the field, and scored the winning touchdown.

Sounds great, yeah? Hollywood ending! Except it's not actually true. Well, it's actually mostly true, except for the last part. He caught a late deep pass, setting up the Broncos for a go-ahead field goal. No winning touchdown... sorry Woody. There's even video of it on teh internets. (I have no idea how to embed this, sorry.)

This isn't even that big of a deal. I just found it to be lazy. It's a good story without the embellishment.

See you all in another year.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

By Far Bill's Worst Baseball Article Ever, Part 1

I couldn't get all the dumbassery from last week's article into one post. Just couldn't do it. In any case, I know the title of the post sounds hyperbolic (not that we use that kind of style around here, not at all, ever) but I stand by it. It's terrible in so many ways; covers so many facets of godfuckingawful; contains so much garbage that it's hard to get my mind around it. You'll see what I mean.

Before we begin, I'd just like to remind everyone what Bill taught us last post: that the MLS is less popular than AAA baseball. Sure, MLS is on TV infinity times more often, but if you want the whole story you have to look at the attendance numbers. Oh. Damn, nevermind. (If you don't want to do the division for the AAA numbers, or click on the links, the long and short of it is that MLS teams on average draw more than twice as many fans as AAA teams.)


The most prominent (and pretty much the most hilarious) way in which this article is fucking terrible is in Bill's perfect embodiment of the frontrunnerness of RED SOX NATION. The last third of the article, which I hopefully get around to before the weekend, is about how baseball games are too long. There are all kinds of ways to put fire to his analysis there and watch it burn, but it's not really homerish. Well it is and it isn't. You'll see what I mean. But most of the first two thirds of the article, covered here, consists of reasons why Bill thinks the Red Sox are "boring" this year. The real reason NESN and Boston radio ratings are down, of course, is because the Sox are buried in third place and probably won't make the playoffs. But watching Bill spend 5000 words dancing around that and instead blaming a bunch of other shit (some of which actually isn't other shit, just a half admission that he's a frontrunner) is fascinating. OK, I think the intro is sufficiently long.

On Tuesday night in Anaheim, with a teetering Red Sox season threatening to crumble, J.D. Drew saved Boston fans from another episode of "Papelbon, P.U."

/rimshot followed by 1950s style laughtrack

by walloping a timely double. The ball bounced off the right-field wall toward Bobby Abreu, who reacted to the carom like a ghost was clubbing him from behind with a two-by-four. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! (Didn't we create the DH position for guys like Abreu? I'm almost positive we did.) Two runs scored, Boston's eighth-inning lead expanded to three and when the TV crew cut to the obligatory shot of Drew pumping his fist at second base ...

Oh, wait ...

I forgot. J.D. Drew never does things like that.

HOW DARE HE? Doesn't he know how to "own" a moment? Doesn't he know what the legendary Beantown faithful deserve? Clutch doubles only mean something if you celebrate afterwards.

He stood there impassively, handsome as always, looking the same way he always does, like the guy whose at-bat music should be Lady Gaga's "Poker Face." If NESN launched a game show called "Guess What J.D. Just Did?" in which contestants guessed based off his expressions -- did Drew just hit a game-saving double, take a called third strike, hit into a double play, win the lottery or find out he was going to jail? -- nobody would ever win. Really, he's the perfect player for the post-2007 Red Sox regime: someone who plays hard, looks good statistically, does everything either "pretty well" or better and leaves you cold. He used to have me screaming obscenities every time he took a called third strike in a big moment. Now I get him. There are no big moments for Drew. He approaches every game, every inning and every at-bat exactly the same. Expecting him to own that Anaheim moment just wasn't realistic.

We're off to a good start. Who the fuck cares how a player "owns" moments? Sign #1 that you're a frontrunner: your team is 15 games over .500 in early August, but you're bored by them because they don't pump fists and shout at the sky enough. You know who owns moments? That fuckstick Papelbon. And Joba Chamberlain! Now there's a guy you can get excited about.

Quite simply, he's a boring player on a boring team during a fairly boring season.


It's the first Red Sox team without a truly compelling player since 1993 -- when we went 80-82 -- and even then, we had a young Mo Vaughn (29 homers, .915 OPS) and Roger Clemens launching his loathsome "I just got paid, I'm gonna start puttin' on weight,

I cut this joke short. You didn't miss anything.

Really, you have to go back to 1981 (pre-Wade Boggs, post-Fred Lynn, post-Carlton Fisk) for a Red Sox team with less pizzazz than the 2010 crew.

Significant losses for the Red Sox from 2009 to 2010: Jason Bay, Nick Green (significant in that he had a lot of ABs, not that he's good), and Takashi Saito. 2009 Red Sox on August 1: a half game back of the Yankees for the division crown, 2.5 games up in the Wild Card. 2010 Red Sox on August 1: 6.5 games back in the division, 5.5 games back in the Wild Card. So you do the math: either Jason Bay is the most magnificently exciting player of all time, or Bill is a complete and total fucking fffffrrrrrrrrrrrrontrunner. Oh, and as he explains later, they've also been missing Jacoby Ellsbury basically all season. But if Ellsbury and Bay are the difference between this article being written and not being written... Bill can go eat a box of taints. JD DREW WHY DON'T YOU DO A DANCE AND SHOOT OFF FIREWORKS WHEN YOU MAKE A GOOD PLAY?

On Wednesday, both Boston papers carried front-page stories about Sports Business Journal's report that NESN's Red Sox ratings had plummeted 36 percent. (The Boston Globe also reported that WEEI's ratings were down 16.5 percent, and that male listeners between the ages of 25 and 54 had dwindled by 28 percent.) One morning earlier, my father and I had been on the phone trying to make sense of SBJ's story. Neither of us was surprised, more curious. What caused it? Was there a single reason? Five reasons? Ten reasons? Was it a fluke or a sign of something more substantial?

There a single primary reason. I've already brought it up a few times. Finish it for me: you're all a bunch of ffffffffffffrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

/Larry B makes direct eye contact with you, encouraging you to say the word out loud

Let's say we assigned a percentage pie of blame for dwindling Red Sox interest in 2010. My pie would look like this:

Needs more pop culture references. Pie charts are boring. Let's get Jersey Shore or The Bachelorette worked in here somehow.


[Newly acquired CF Mike] Cameron also can't hit. And he's one of those guys who looks old -- like, when you're watching him stand on second base, you make jokes like, "I wonder whether he still keeps in touch with old teammate Satchel Paige's family" and "I forget; did Cameron integrate the American League in the early '50s, or was that Larry Doby?"

And here's your obligatory mention of the fact that the Red Sox were the last team to integrate, 12 years after Jackie Robinson debuted for the Dodgers. Twelve fucking years. That's crazy. That's like if integration started the same year the McGwire/Sosa HR chase happened, and some team was just getting around to taking care of that this year.

As for Bill's substantive analysis, Ellsbury has been down all year. Pedrioa and Victor Martinez have been hurt too. On the other (sensible) hand, the Sox still have Kevin Youkilis (I always laugh when Sox fans claim he's underrated, although he isn't as overrated as you'd expect a white Red Sox player to be), David Ortiz (somehow OPSing over .900 after starting the season like 4 for 100), Clay Buchholz, and Jon Lester. Those four guys alone would be enough to excite any rational non-frontrunning fanbase. Add in Pedroia's substantial contribution (342 PA so far) and there's really no leg for Bill to stand on here.


A few days ago, the following rant appeared on the Boston Dirt Dogs site:

" ... can't believe the front office just fiddled this summer while Rome burned and we flushed an entire season and $150M down the toilet by thinking we could tread water with Bill Hall playing second and Kevin Cash catching and David Ortiz batting third against lefties and J.D. Drew playing every day against lefties and Eric Patterson and Daniel Nava and Dusty Brown, et al. It was so [expletive] obvious when the Laser Show and V-Mart got hurt that we had to go get a real bat, Jason Werth level, who would still start when we got healthy, but instead we did [expletive] nothing and buried ourselves. It was like we had no front office, the Jack Hannahan blockbuster notwithstanding." -- An understandably apoplectic Kevin H. on the lost season

Awwwww. Poor guy. His team didn't go pick up an all-star caliber hitter at the trade deadline when the few that were available would have cost way more than their value. THEO YOU BUM YOU LET US DOWN WE WILL NEVER FORGIVE YOU UNLESS WE MAKE THE PLAYOFFS AGAIN THIS YEAR FOR THE 7TH TIME IN THE LAST 8 SEASONS

My friend Daniel recognized the venom immediately: It sounded just like our crazy friend Hench, who had been griping about Theo Epstein in our e-mail circle for the past few weeks. Daniel e-mailed us the rant with the subject heading "Hench, is this you?"

Yup. It was Hench.

Who. Gives. A. Fuck.

I couldn't disagree. Team Theo's lack of urgency as the injuries mounted was appalling -- on July 3, after the Pedroia/Martinez double whammy, we were still a half-game behind New York and 1½ games ahead of Tampa

And we had an exciting team! Now that we're 5+ games back, they're just not exciting anymore. You know what's exciting though- playing with the ESPN NBA trade machine. Hoooo boy. THE NETS SHOULD SWAP THEIR ENTIRE ROSTER WITH THE CLIPPERS. WHO SAYS NO? WHICH GM HANGS UP THE PHONE FIRST?

At the same time, you can blame Epstein (and Boston's owners) for ignoring a simple law of entertainment these past two seasons: Just like you can't open a blockbuster movie without a star, you can't expect a nine-figure baseball team to capture the daily imagination of a big market without a player who passes the Remote Control Test (when you don't flip channels because you know Player X is coming up) or the We Can't Go Get Food Yet Test (when you don't make a food/drink run at a game because Player X is coming up) or even the Every Five Nights, I Know What I'm Doing Test (when you have a transcendent pitcher who keeps you in front of the television every five days).

I like Pedroia. I like Kevin Youkilis. Clay Buchholz has been a revelation this year. I really, really like Lester, my favorite current player (and someone quietly enjoying a monster season) mainly for everything he's been through. But none of them passes the above tests. I went to a Philly-Boston game in June in which we shelled Jamie Moyer for something like 30 runs in the first two innings. Philly pulled Ryan Howard in the third. We were crushed. Dammit! We only got to see Howard hit once! The 2010 Red Sox don't have a pitcher or hitter who generates that reaction. It's true.

So I guess either Bay, Ellsbury, or some combination of them passes all those tests. And geez, I had forgotten that the Red Sox and Phillies played a series against each other in Philadelphia. How much asshole can you cram into one stadium at one time? I'd hate to have been a security guard at Citizens Bank Park for that one. Oof.


It's been the elephant in the room for three years. Do I care as much as I did? I think about this question constantly. The short answer? No. It can't mean as much. It will never mean as much.

I'm fine with this. It's OK to say that your team's first championship in nearly 100 years was super special and meant more than any other one in the future could.

Before 2004, rooting for the Red Sox wasn't about just sports. It was about mortality. It was about a ticking clock that only we could hear. It was about exchanges like this:

"Jimmy's dad died last weekend."
"That's terrible! How old was he?"

... and how you'd immediately add 1918 plus 65 and realize, "Crap."

I'm not fine with this. If you or anyone you know did/does this, you are an asshole. Stop watching sports immediately and go throw yourself off a building.

With that said ... it's not life or death. Which opens the door for fickle TV ratings and everything else.


This reminds me of the time Bill claimed that Celtics fans (pre-2008 championship) were suffering more than Clippers fans, because it's harder to be a fan of a team with a great history of winning that's in a slump than be a fan of a team with no history of winning at all. You hear that, Browns fans? YOUR FANDOM IS LESS TORTURED THAN COWBOYS FANDOM.

(Interesting side note: In just the past decade, five franchises lost life-or-death status.

Interesting fact: Bill makes up categories like this and presents them as universally agreed upon six times per column.

Boston in 2004. The White Sox in 2005. St. Louis in 2006.

That's fucking ridiculous. Their last win before 2006 was 24 years earlier.

Philly in 2008.

And 28 years. Let's throw the Marlins in 2003 on here, why not.

And really, the Yankees in 2009 -- since every Yankees fan was secretly having a heart attack about the fact that they were 0-for-the-century, the Red Sox/Yankees dynamic had flipped and A-Rod had become the Reverse Curse of the Bambino, so we have to count them.

You're the stupidest person ever born.

That leaves San Francisco and the Cubs as the last remaining big-market, life-or-death teams with that "Jimmy's dad" factor, although you certainly can count Cleveland, Houston and Milwaukee as well, and maybe even Seattle, San Diego and Texas if you're feeling magnanimous.)

A World Series win by any of those teams would mean 50 times as much to their fans than Philly's 2008 win or Saint Louis's 2006 win did. It would mean 500 times as much to their fans as New York's 2009 win. FIVE OF THE EIGHT TEAMS YOU JUST NAMED HAVE NEVER WON THE WORLD SERIES. ANOTHER IS ON A 102 YEAR DROUGHT.


Look, I don't want to be Grumpy Old Man. I really don't. But I probably attended 100 Fenway games just from 1998 to 2002; the level of baseball sophistication in the stands was unparalleled.

Unparalleled relative to Bill's experiences in other ballparks, which probably adds up to a handful of games in Yankee Stadium and this one time he went to Philly and saw the Sox beat the hell out of Jamie Moyer. Hilarity always ensues when he starts talking about Boston crowds. Always.

We worked with Pedro like Frick and Frack. He did his job (rolling through lineups); we did ours (standing every time he got two strikes on someone, doing the steady clap to get him fired up, cheering him like a Roman gladiator). That's gone now.



Gag me.

The best thing about baseball? How 120 years and six generations intersected. Now our little statistical compass has been shattered like a beer bottle. For the past week, every media outlet has tried to talk us into A-Rod's 600th homer -- as if the moment means something, because, after all, just six other people have done it! -- only the nation's collective indifference was telling.

As I've perceived it, people are no less excited for it than they were for Ken Griffey Junior's 600th in 2008. And he's insulated from steroids in the minds of most. So really, what this point amounts to is Bill admitting that he's not really that into baseball this year. Probably because the Red Sox are buried in third and he's a ffffffffffrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

(I tweeted sarcastically Friday, "I'm on pins and steroid needles!")

Congratulations! You turned a phrase!


This is where it gets really, really, really, really stupid. And it's also where I go to bed. Join me next time, as Bill comes to the conclusion that the state of the economy overall has no bearing on baseball ticket sales! And that when a team starts sucking ass on the field ten years after opening a new stadium, and then their attendance drops, that's because fans got bored with the stadium!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Long Post? Nope, Short Post

I was going to cover the latest pile of shit to stumble off of Simmons's unfunny fingertips, but it's so long-winded and terrible that I couldn't finish the post tonight. So instead I thought you might find it hilarious that FOX hired Kevin Millar to call baseball games. And similarly hilarious that he said this on Saturday during the Reds/Braves game:

Drew Stubbs has great speed. I was watching him during spring training, and he beat out a routine ground ball to the shortstop. Literally beat it out.

Did he kick the ball out of the stadium? Did he masturbate on it? I'm not sure how you literally beat out a grounder to short, and sadly, Kevin probably doesn't either. But hey, at least he doesn't look like a complete dumbass, right?

Oh. Frowny emoticon.