Friday, October 29, 2010

Lazy Comments About Bill Simmons' Lazy NFL Picks Column

I get it, Bill Simmons isn't serious about anything he writes. He just says stuff for fun. He's like a kid out there! Well, double for me then.

Broncos (+2) over Niners
Afterthought: You could call this game the "What Coulda Been Wouldn't Have Been So Great Either" Bowl. Had the Broncos kept Jeff George 2.0, things wouldn't have been any different for them. Had the Niners given up on Alex Smith and traded for Donovan McNabb last spring, same thing. Both teams were screwed either way. So ... yeah.

More like the straw-man bowl!

But for serious, you can't say that the Broncos wouldn't possibly be better with Jay Cutler (and Brandon Marshal who goes unmentioned). I'd say though that the Broncos should've been much better seeing as how they got a first round pick for Cutler, but they promptly wasted it on Tim Tebow.

As for McNabb, he's an older QB who's not surrounded by a ton of talent on the Redskins. Who the hell knows whether the 49ers would be better with him? Donovan McNabb is still ranked 8 places higher than Alex Smith by Football Outsiders, so that might've been worth an extra win or two.

Prediction: You will be flipping channels in 2015, stumble across some Division III playoff game on ESPNU and say to yourself, "Wait a second, isn't that Josh McDaniels?"

Chan Fucking Gailey still coaches in the NFL. I don't think we're going to be rid of Josh McFuckFace that easily.

Dolphins (+1.5) over BENGALS
The reason: A dream matchup for me. The Bengals are wildly overvalued; the Dolphins are wildly undervalued. You get five gambling gifts per year like this one. Crap, I hope I didn't just jinx it.

Vegas automatically gives the home team 3 points. Therefore, what Vegas is saying with this is that it thinks Miami is 1.5 points better than the Bengals. That doesn't seem like an outrageous evaluation of a matchup between Football Outsider's 13th and 19th best teams.


CHIEFS (-7.5) over Bills
Prediction: In this year's NFL preview, I created the word "creeper" for teams that jump at least five wins and earn themselves a first-round bye. It's happened every year since the NFL went to four-team divisions in 2003. Well, I couldn't figure out this year's creeper before reluctantly settling on ... (gulp) ... San Francisco. Just because of its division. Did I have the right logic and the wrong team? The Chiefs have one of the creamiest-puff schedules in years. Maybe they don't seem like a 12-4 or 13-3 team, but again, EVERY season since 2003 has had a creeper. And they're the only candidate unless you think the Jets or Steelers can go 14-2.

Yes, what a shock that would be if the #1/#2 team (Steelers) according to Football Outsiders and every (bullshit) Power Ranking went 14-2 and won their division. I wouldn't be surprised if the Steelers went 15-1, despite the obvious attempts by the NFL to turn everyone against the Steelers. By gosh, we might have TWO creepers this year!

Afterthought: I liked Terry Bradshaw's quote about Dallas last Sunday: "The world is full of talented unsuccessful people." Every time he has a lucid moment on television, shouldn't the show be stopped as balloons are dropped from the ceiling?

Pot-kettle, people in glass houses, etc.

Afterthought: I couldn't be more excited that the Patriots have returned to the days of spreading it around, breaking out the bend-but-don't-break defense, having guys I've never heard of make huge plays, getting lucky breaks, coming up with huge halftime adjustments, making overly aggressive coaching decisions that somehow work out (note: I hated the fourth-and-1 call in San Diego, not that they did it, but because they ran such a crappy play when they hadn't been running the ball well all game, and yet, it worked out), and pulling out close games that make me feel sick afterwards.

Ha, yeah, that must be way better than when they had Randy Moss in 2007 and were blowing teams out en-route to being 2 minutes away from 19-0.

Afterthought: The Raiders went 29-83 from 2003-2009. Somehow, my Patriots have their No. 1 pick during the one year they'll probably finish 8-8. This makes me angry. Really, really angry.

Oh no! There'll only be 35 future Pro Bowlers left on the board!

Steelers (PK) over SAINTS
The Reason: Playoff game rules in effect because of the situation -- Halloween night,

I just really like the image of crotchety Dan Rooney giving his players a pre-game speech like "We're the Pittsburgh Steelers, we don't lose on fucking Halloween!" Oh also, I forgot to mention that Rooney would be wearing a Captain Jack Sparrow costume. Oops, that might've made that non-joke funny if I'd mentioned it at the beginning.


"We don't lose on nights when NBC couldn't cram in Jay Leno, a reality show, or the horrible Outsourced that in no way should be on TV instead of the awesome Parks and Recreation.*

*I really like the show that was created by Ken Tremendous who created the blog we stole our idea from. META!

the last two Super Bowl champs

"We don't lose in games that are no more or less meaningful than any other game!"

And also, there's this e-mail from Tom in New Orleans ...

"I remember when football was fun. You could tailgate, walk into the Dome with Bloody Mary in hand, and make comments like 'that Marshall Faulk sure is good' all the while having a great time while your team pissed away game after game. You never told me that winning the Super Bowl would ruin everything." Actually, I did. With this column.

If your biggest complaint about New Orleans is that your team won the Super Bowl and their stadium is the one place in the city you can't open carry alcohol, then your New Orleans lifestyle is pretty damn peachy. So get fucked, Tom.

Also, anyone who complains about their teams winning championships is a hipster and therefore and asshole. Thus, by transitive properties, we can infer that Simmons is an asshole.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

WMTMQR: With a Special Guest Appearance by Jarrett!

Just to clarify, this is about Gregg's column from allll the way back on Tuesday the 19th. Yeah. Two TMQs ago. So he's talking about games that happened during week 6 of the NFL season. Yup, I'm posting this that late. Fortunately I can get away with it because I'm so handsome. Kind of like how I cut in lines outside of exclusive clubs and never have to wait at the emergency room.

First, a special celebrity guest appearance by onetime semi-quasi-sorta-regular FireJay blogger Jarrett, who has a bone to pick:

As a Lindenwood University alum, imagine my surprise when my brother told me a national columnist had taken my alma mater to task.

Lindenwood 90, Culver-Stockton 19. Lindenwood gained 721 yards on offense and scored 13 touchdowns against winless Culver-Stockton, which has previous losses of 70-0 and 63-10.

A track record of futility against other teams from the NAIA that go unnamed because it would be too difficult to list schools like "Missouri Valley" (70-0) or "Baker" (63-10). I Googled the same thing that Gregg did, but maybe he just had to keep his word count down.

Apparently sportsmanship is not on the curriculum at Lindenwood University which, leading 48-3 at the half, came out passing in the third quarter, then kept starters on the field until the margin was 62-10.

Sportsmanship is surprisingly absent from the curriculum at Lindenwood University, because they dispense diplomas and not anecdotes. Sure, my diploma is crooked, but at least my name is spelled right. But let's move on to the Holier Than Thou segment of the paragraph.

Coach Patrick Ross, does bullying a weak opponent make you feel like a man?

What is this? Is this a joke? Gregg, does bullying a coach of an NAIA football team make you feel like a man? He's coaching in the NAIA in Saint Charles, Missouri. You know what else St. Charles is known for? Antiques. A casino. It's not like he's looking to get that dream job in the NFL with this gig.

Lindenwood president James Evans, your school owes collegiate athletics an apology.

Amazingly, it looks like Gregg made it back to after his brief stop at the athletics page. Gregg, nobody cares. Not a soul. Dear collegiate athletics, sorry you were brought in on this soap box, but this guy is a total dunderhead. XOXO, Lindenwood University. P.S. - Can we have money?

Located in Canton, Mo., Culver-Stockton College forbids incense in its dorms.

A school forbidding flammable items from dorms? How quaint! Forbidden from Lindenwood Dorms: Alcohol, microwaves, hot plates, and members of the opposite sex. I lived in a house owned by the University for three semesters and girls were forbidden from being on my lawn. So if you're looking for a University that accepts out of state students based on a slightly-above-average ACT scores, come to Lindenwood University, home of Bullying Athletic Programs!

Give him a hand(job?) folks. Moving on to the rest of the column: Gregg, like every single other fucking journalist on the planet, thinks he has some novel and original thoughts about the recent outbreak of concussions in the NFL.

The sports media need to change, too. Most football announcers either avoid discussion of neurological danger, laugh it off as getting "jacked up,"

That was the best ESPN bit ever. It gave Michael Irvin something to do that he didn't suck at.

or pretend not to see what's directly in front of their eyes.

It's not like a big hit is obvious neurological damage right in front of your eyes unless the person who got hit ends up lying motionless in an awkward position. If they're moving at all, and especially if they walk off the field under their own power (which often happens after a nasty helmet-to-helmet hit), celebrating the hit isn't exactly an insensitive showing of total ignorance.

When Cribbs was hit in the head by Harrison, Kevin Harlan of CBS, calling the game, said, "Wow what a hard-hitting rivalry the Steelers and Browns have," not mentioning head trauma.

The reason that's a dumb comment isn't that it was a bad thing to say from a concussion awareness standpoint; it's because the Steelers and Browns don't have much of a rivalry. I think the Browns have won like 3 of the past 30 meetings or something.

When Massaquoi was hit in the head later in the same game, Harlan said with enthusiasm, "He was drilled, Harrison was really laying the wood!" To young viewers -- and the 95 percent of football players who are high school boys -- this kind of commentary makes helmet-to-helmet hits sound cool.

I'm pretty sure watching the hit happen is about 100 times "cooler" and more influential in the minds of kids than what Kevin fucking Harlan has to say about it. Complaining about how a hit was called by the announcers is like complaining about the way an actor smoking in a movie was blowing his smoke rings.

Making helmet hits sound cool to the young is doubly worrisome because while most orthopedic injuries heal, some neurological injuries cannot be treated.

Again, watching the hits happen: responsible for 99% of how impressionable youngsters react to them. Hearing Kevin Harlan say it was a big hit: responsible for 1%.

After Joseph Addai took two deliberate blows to his helmet -- first a helmet-to-helmet hit from Kedric Golston, then a forearm-to-helmet hit from London Fletcher -- and collapsed in the Indianapolis-at-Washington game, Cris Collinsworth of NBC said, "That is a perfectly clean hit, blows to the head are allowed on running plays."

Really -- it's "perfectly clean" to slam your forearm into another player's helmet?

Yes. I can't tell if the question is worded this way because Gregg thinks Collinsworth was wrong, or because he can't believe Collinsworth was right- I hope it's the latter. Because Collinsworth was right.

Existing rule 12, 2, 7g bans "using any part of a player's helmet (including the top/crown and forehead/hairline parts) or facemask to butt, spear, or ram an opponent violently or unnecessarily," and also states, "violent or unnecessary use of the helmet is impermissible against any opponent." Any opponent, including the ballcarrier. So it's not legal to ram your helmet into the ballcarrier's helmet. But many in the football world think it is -- a reason the rules must become clearer.

Collinsworth (MORE LIKE COLLINSWORTHLESS AM I RIGHT. Actually he's pretty decent in the booth) didn't say that helmet to helmet hits were legal. That straw man is in pieces on the ground, though. Good for Gregg.

ESPN deserves blame, too, for poor coverage of neurological harm. On Monday, the noon Eastern edition of "SportsCenter" showed both the vicious hits in the Pittsburgh-at-Cleveland game as highlights, without context about helmet-as-a-weapon fouls or concussions. "That James Harrison is a dangerous player, you better account for him," Merril Hoge said, as if young players should emulate dangerous tactics.

I actually think kids somehow probably care less about what Merril Hoge says than what Kevin Harlan says. Hard to imagine but I bet it's true. Really, if ESPN were being responsible in the way Gregg expects them to be, it wouldn't show any clips of these hits or discuss them at all. Mmmmmm hmmmm. I'm holding my breath too.

Most important, Rodney Harrison said on NBC that players guilty of deliberate helmet-as-a-weapon hits should not just be ejected but suspended.

Ah, Rodney HGHarrison- champion of all that is good and wholesome in professional sports. Now THERE'S a role model kids can look up to, and who can steer them away from making decisions that affect their long term health.

This week is a critical moment for football as a sport, and as a business. If the league really does crack down in a meaningful way -- and if sportscasters, including on ESPN, start being honest about the risks and downsides of football -- then the game will become safer, and a good example will be set for high school players. If the league is just blowing smoke, or the sports media return to boosterism,

Or trying to make money, the business they've been in since they came into existence.

then Congress should step in and regulate the playing standards of professional sports.

Jesus H. Christ, Gregg. No. Congress has about 500 more important problems to tackle (PUN INTENDED) and they're lucky if they get through ten or so in any given year.

Stat of the Week No. 1: Tom Brady has won 26 of his past 27 starts at Gillette Field, including playoffs.

He's also lost 7 of his last 11 road starts. The one home loss was also in a playoff game in which he threw three picks and averaged 3.7 yards per attempt.

Cheerleader of the Week: Liam Carter of Fort Collins, Colo., nominates Jocey of the Tennessee Titans who, according to her team bio, is a lawyer who works as a public defender. If you had an NFL cheerleader as your criminal defense counsel, here is the closing argument the jury might get:

Two, four, six, eight Whom should we exonerate? My client! My client! Aaaaaaaa-CQUIT!

Yep. He's still trying to do this kind of bit. I think he tries it about twice a year. Sad.

Sweet Play of the Week: New England ran a "flip" reverse -- a risky action in which a tailback chucks the ball into the air -- to Brandon Tate for a 22-yard gain, setting up the Patriots' first touchdown in what would become an overtime win. But the sweetest play of the game, if not of Week 6, was 5-foot-9 undrafted free agent Danny Woodhead, out of Division II Chadron State, picking up Ray Lewis on a blitz block.

The sweetest play. Of the week. Was a small white guy making a relatively inconsequential block. Maybe Gregg has a little more Patriots fan in him than he'd like to admit. DANNY FACKIN' WOODHEAD! I NEED HIS JAHHHH-SEY!

Sour Sets of Plays: With Detroit trailing 21-10 at Jersey/A in the fourth quarter, Calvin Johnson caught a go route and both defensive backs on his side fell, leaving nothing but green for an 87-yard touchdown. Johnson began waving the ball in the air at the Giants' 45!

And would go on to score a touchdown just a few seconds later!

Not only did Johnson risk blowing the touchdown with a self-inflicted fumble,

That's a risk in the same sense that it's a risk to take a commercial flight because the plane might crash and kill you. Calvin Johnson can probably palm two basketballs simultaneously with the same hand.

not only did he show poor sportsmanship by mocking the home team,

It's really more of a celebration of your accomplishment than a mocking gesture. Going out to their logo at the 50 and slamming the ball down, a la T.O.? That's mocking the home team.

not only was Detroit riding a streak of 23 consecutive road losses --

Completely irrelevant.

which isn't really that much to strut about -- but after the touchdown, the Lions were still behind.

I'm getting sick and fucking tired of this presumption on the part of Gregg and other stuffy commentators that all celebrations are automatically tacky/classless/horrible/WORSE THAN GENOCIDE. Look- in some circumstances they are the first three of those things. Like if they result in a fumble and reversal of the course of an ongoing play, draw a penalty in a close game, come after a really inconsequential play (see: the defensive linemen who pose for the camera after a 2 yard sack on 1st and 10) or aggressively and personally insult someone on the other team. Everything else is fucking fair game as far as I'm concerned. If you hot dog it on your way into the end zone and there are no consequences (besides the ever-unquantifiable “Oh he totally fired the other team up!!!!”), I say go nuts. The players might as well have fun- last I checked we were all watching sports for a little escapism.

Houston got sour payback when, with 36 seconds remaining, the Chiefs allowed Andre Johnson -- one of the league's best players -- to get open in the end zone for the winning touchdown. On the play, Kansas City had seven defenders dropping back to cover four receivers -- yet one of the league's best players got open.

And maybe, just maybe, the fact that he got open in that situation has something to do with the fact that he's one of the league's best players. It's so crazy- teams continue to let Albert Pujols hit game winning home runs, even though he's one of the best players in the league!

Creep alert! It was a particularly lame week for that item.

Tam Tran of Kansas City reports, "On a business trip to New Orleans, I read a newspaper story about the Gulf oil spill and how it might affect the restaurant business of the 'quickly approaching' Lent season. Lent begins March 9, 2011."

And maybe, just maybe, the Gulf ecosystem won't yet be back to fully healthy at that point.

Jon Frosch of New Orleans reports, "Walking to school at the University of New Orleans, I spotted a car in the parking lot of Ben Franklin High School, which shares the same campus, that had written in the windows, 'Congrats, Class of 2011.' New Orleans Public Schools do not graduate for another eight months."

Pretty much every high school has cars painted with windows celebrating the current senior class at all points during any school year. This is the least creeping instance of creep ever.

Thomas Bender of Chicago writes, "I just received an e-mail for the U2 concert in Chicago at Soldier Field -- on July 11, 2011. Tickets on sale now."

What? They want to sell out the event as far in advance as possible to get paid as soon as possible? (Something snarky about the time value of money)? MADNESS.

Erik Kneebone of Genoa, Ill., writes, "Henry Kravis just donated $100 million to Columbia to expand its business school. Not only is Columbia Business School's main contribution to society the Wall Street sharks who caused the 2008 financial meltdown --

Yeah let's go ahead and single them out. Good plan. Harvard/Stanford/Chicago/Every Other Business School grads, you're off the hook! Also- no Columbia Business School grads have ever done anything good for society with their degrees. (Note: I have no affiliation with Columbia or Columbia Business School and I think NYC is a hole.)

Washington countered with the Times Square defense -- the front seven milling around at random, like tourists in Times Square.

Ohhhhhhh. IIIIIIII get it.

Manning couldn't predict where the front seven would be because the defenders themselves didn't know; they were instructed to move randomly. Manning wasn't fazed, burning this defense for 469 yards.

But let's just remember that Manning went to Division I Tennessee, was drafted first overall, was never cut, and has an enormous contract and a pretty sizable ego. Gregg conveniently doesn't mention these things when a player like Manning succeeds, but OH MY GAWD DID YOU SEE DANNY WOODHEAD ON THAT 3RD DOWN BLITZ PICKUP IT WAS THE CAT'S MEOW

Eternity with Rachael Ray -- the Third Circle of Hell: The autumn edition of the Rachael Ray promotional vehicle "Everyday with Rachael Ray" declares in its main headline "Recipes you'll keep forever!" Like 'til the end of time?

Taking things literally makes them easy to pick on! (I try to only pick on people who do this when they actually say literally, like "I'm so hungry I could literally eat a horse.")

GOD: I command that the temporal world cease.

THE LAST MAN: Wait a sec while I grab my Rachael Ray recipes.


Last week's column proposed that giving players in Division I football and men's basketball (the only college sports that don't lose money) stipends of a few thousand dollars per year would remove the temptation to take cash from agents while treating players no differently from college newspaper editors, stage crew and graduate teaching assistants, who also receive small stipends.

It's a novel idea, and I hate the NCAA and its retarded rules, but I don't think a few grand a year is going to remove much temptation. Not that I'm saying a football player's contribution to his university is 10 times that of a newspaper editor- I'm just saying that monthly $300 checks aren't really going to stop the agent-to-player cashflow.

Back to Saban. He proposed that any agent who causes a college player to lose a year of eligibility should lose his agent's license for an equal period.

Nick Saban is a legendary asshole who has exactly zero room to talk about who's exploiting who when it comes to college football.

This is a fine suggestion. The agent can't claim not to know eligibility rules; it is his business to know. Saban is correct to say that agent behavior will not change until agents receive the same punishments as NCAA athletes.

Yeah, I'm fine with the suggestion, as long as we also have a policy that coaches who graduate like three players a year are suspended without pay for the next decade.

If Alabama football, or any similar big-deal program, were pure and academics-focused, Saban would be justified in saying the agents and NFL scouts should stay away from his student-athletes. But Saban himself, and many other football-factory coaches, takes advantage of his players by pressuring them to concentrate on football above classroom work. Saban knows he will be rewarded with money for wins but never penalized if players don't get an education.

I hate agreeing with TMQ. I HATE IT. But at least he's vindicated himself here somewhat.

Many college football athletes enjoy a four- or five-year dreamworld of going on to the NFL and cut classes with the coaching staff's tacit or even active approval. When their college days end and the NFL doesn't call, and they haven't earned a diploma, they are shafted. Don't blame agents and scouts for this. Blame colleges and coaches.

Hooray! This could have been presented without giving Saban any credit for anything, as he deserves none (except for exploiting NCAA recruiting/discipline rules and putting solid FOOTBALL teams on the FOOTBALL field on a yearly basis). (Note: I am in no way affiliated with LSU, Auburn, or any other SEC school and have no team-based bias against Alabama or Saban. He's just a cunt.)

As for Saban's pimp analogy, he said of agents who hand out money, "How are they any better than a pimp? I have no respect for people who do that to young people. How would you feel if they did it to your child?" This from a coach whose football program graduates only 55 percent of its players. (Look up any Division I graduation rate here.) Saban uses up young people's college years to win games and big paydays for himself -- then graduates barely more than half of them. To use his own words, how is he any better than a pimp?

Look at Gregg, bringing the noise. Well alright then.

Cowboys' Low Football IQ: You're trailing with less than three minutes remaining -- Why are you punting? That's what Dallas did, if for no other reason than to shift the blame away from Wade Phillips, who would have been denounced if a fourth-down try had failed, and onto his defensive players.

And then he had to go and say something like this.

When will I post about this week's TMQ? (The one that came out today.) Honestly, who knows or cares.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Rick Reilly: Pipe Down

Well, I wanted to post something, and I didn't have to look far. Rick Reilly, champion of every underdog team, avenger of every wronged squad, restorer of justice to every defamed group of athletes on this planet, provides us with just what we're looking for.

It's the perfect combination of righteous indignation, overblown hyperbole and mindless ranting: Boise State Broncos can't buck this trend

So that's it, then. It's done. The fix is arranged. It's Game Over and everybody knows the score. The BCS computers TKO Boise State. Why keep punching when it's not a fair fight?

Yeah, especially when Boise State plays in a conference that is orders of magnitude weaker than the other teams in contention for the BCS title. Teams with drastically weaker strengths of schedule are not really fighting a fair fight.

Auburn and Oregon are No. 1 and No. 2 in the country according to Sunday's latest, most fraudulent compilation yet from the BCS rankings. If those two schools win the rest of their games, they'll play in the BCS Championship Game.

Boy, that seems fair to me. As long as you don't have a plus-one or a playoff, that's the most sensible way to go about it.

And Boise State? Members of football's lowest caste system? It doesn't matter. The BSUntouchables play Louisiana Tech on Tuesday night, but they're just cleaning windows on the Titanic now. If Auburn and Oregon win out, Boise State can wipe out every opponent 50-0 and not make it in now. And the Broncos probably won't even if the Tigers and Ducks don't win out. Yes, we're talking about Auburn. The team that has 13 fewer wins over the past five seasons than Boise State.

I'm going to count up the number of totally irrelevant statistics that Rick cites in support of his argument. Auburn's win total over the last five years is the first.

Yes, we're talking about Oregon. The same team Boise State punched out last season 19-8.


It's the biggest rip-off since the Nigerian prince scam. It makes you wonder why you watch college football at all. What Boise State is being asked to do isn't doable. It's like trying to win a Cuban election. Or break into the Genovese family.

Or trying to make sense of your argument.

The Broncos are 6-0. They've won 20 straight games, the longest streak in the country.


They've beaten two BCS automatic qualifiers -- 6th-ranked Virginia Tech and 24th-ranked Oregon State. Doesn't matter. BSU could whip the 103rd Infantry and it wouldn't get a sniff. The computers are in charge. The pod bay doors won't open.

This is just mindless rhetoric. I hate. Also, I don't know why Rick [Edit: I once mistakenly called him "Bill" here] cites VT as the 6th-ranked team. At the moment, they're in the 20s of all the ranking systems.

Boise State is going to get seated at the kids' table again.

They play at the kids' table for 10 of their 12 games every year.

The Broncos will go to some pointless bowl and beat somebody like they always do -- they've already bested Oklahoma and TCU in bowls like that -- and they'll come home with a win and a hatful of "You kids sure play with a lot of heart up there" put-downs from the BCS blazers.

Yawn. It's a good thing they have a champion of the little guy like Rick Reilly to further pigeonhole them into a spunky upstart. If Rick Reilly ever writes an article about my teams, I'll be pissed, because I know he's taking them on as a human interest story, not a sports story.

Amazing, isn't it? NCAA Division I football is the only sport in the world where continued, uninterrupted, hats-in-the-air winning doesn't mean you keep progressing. For Boise State, it gets you a squirt of vinegar in the eye. It's a three-card Monty game and all they get is two cards. OK, here it comes. Say it: Boise State doesn't play anybody.

Well, in FCS football, continued winning doesn't mean you keep progressing. You're still just the FCS champ. The same goes for every minor league organization on the North American continent. The Columbus Clippers and the Toledo Mud Hens can win every game this season and not make it to the World Series!

They could even win every game 50-0 and not even get a sniff!

Boise State plays -- and beats -- whoever they throw at it. It thumped San Jose State 48-0. Wisconsin, which beat No. 1 Ohio State and No. 15 Iowa, only beat SJSU by 13, at home!

Four. Ugh, this is stupid.

Boise State smashed Wyoming 51-6. Wyoming nearly beat Air Force and Air Force nearly beat Oklahoma. You're telling me Boise State couldn't beat OU? Oh, wait. It already did.

Ugh, there are three irrelevant facts in one paragraph. I'm up to like 987 in this article already.

Boise State whipped Virginia Tech on the road. VT is undefeated in the ACC. Are you telling me Boise State wouldn't be carving up the ACC?

Are you, Rick, telling me the ACC is a conference equal to the Pac-10 or the SEC?

People think of Boise State as some kind of Tahitian ice skating team. It's not like the Broncos have to wait for the high school girls' field hockey team to get off the field at 5 p.m. before they can practice. They have killer facilities, blue or otherwise. They recruit against the best for the best. They have a head coach, Chris Petersen, who is 55-4 there. (Anybody remember Urban Meyer?) They've been to a bowl eight of the past nine seasons. They're trying to be the first BCS outsider to make the championship game, but who knew they'd have to whip a bunch of Geek Squadders, too?

This paragraph is a rhetorical disaster. It's a sign that you have a weak point to begin with. It has all the hallmarks of a moron. Rick's plan: confuse the argument (blue fields), call your opponents names (Geek Squadders), simplify your opponents' arguments (Tahitian ice hockey), and cite irrelevant facts (bowl record) . This is such a disaster of thinking. Who cares about their facilities?

Also: Auburn has been to a bowl nine of the last ten seasons. Oregon seven of the last eight. Ohio St. ten of the last eleven. Oklahoma twelve straight. So... that statistic isn't even all that impressive.

"If they played anybody in the country," said Oregon's offensive coordinator, Mark Helfrich, who used to coach at Boise State, "they could give them a game. One time? Against anybody? Absolutely, they'd give them a serious game."

Yawn. What is this, Little Giants?

"I think they'd be tough to beat," said Auburn's offensive line coach, Jeff Grimes, who also used to coach at Boise State. "They've proven that. They could beat anybody on any given Saturday. Could they win every Saturday in the SEC? No. But who can?"

If a rhetorical question has a disproving non-rhetorical answer - like Alabama in 2009 or Florida in 2008 - it's probably a poor rhetorical choice. But this is Rickworld we're living in.

Also: What the hell, Rick. Did you just go around interviewing former Boise State coaches? Did you expect some kind of unbiased opinion from them? Wouldn't it have been more relevant to interview the coaches who've lost to BSU?

Also: Jeff Grimes was offensive line coach at BSU for one season, in 2000. Mark Helfrich was the QB coach for three seasons - 1998-2000. Is their opinion valid here? Kinda.

How would Grimes feel if he were the Boise State coach, getting more shaft than Chilean miners?

I'm glad Rick kept that joke PG.

"I think I'd say, 'Bout time for a playoff, isn't it?'" Grimes said.


Of course, Petersen, who's just so annoyingly classy, won't say boo. "Coach Petersen likes to stay away from the topic," said a Boise State spokesman. "If he starts worrying about the polls and all the noise out there about it, it will just be a distraction to the team."

I like Chris Petersen! He has some decent sense! He realizes that fulminating like Rick Reilly is a quick way to make everyone hate him.

No, what Petersen needs to do is get noisy in Boise! He needs to be calling up reporters and seething about the short in the BCS mainframes. He should be asking anybody, How come your schizoid computers keep vaulting unworthy teams over us to No. 1? Two weeks ago it was Ohio State. They lost. Last week, it was Oklahoma. They lost. This week, it's Auburn. Who's the computer going to leapfrog us with next? Swarthmore?

Auburn beat a top ten team.

Boise State's athletes and coaches deserve better than this dog's breakfast. Fix the crappy data going into the computers. Get rid of the SEC bias. Update the strength-of-schedule logarithms. This is 2010, not 1960. The difference between the old-school schools and the new-school schools is a butterfly's burp.

What? Rick seems to have this impression that people are throwing random numbers into these computers and coming out with equally random numbers. Now, I'm no expert at the BCS computers, but seriously? The lack of substance in these allegations suggests that the real absurdity comes from the Reilly himself.

Sports isn't fun when you take the anything-can-happen out of it and that's exactly what the computers have done.

Better yet, get us a damn playoff.

Do I think a plus-one is a good idea? Yes.

Do I think Rick Reilly's rhetoric is insanely stupid? Yes.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

MMTMQR: Yeah, I Started Reading TMQ Again

Why? Because I needed to find out whether or not that new "The Event" show that NBC is cramming down my throat is scientifically accurate or not. (SPOILER ALERT: Gregg did not address that topic this week.) (OTHER SPOILER ALERT: He also didn't identify the Wacky Wine of the Week. Fingers crossed that that item returns later this fall.)

Not only is Oregon scoring 54 points per game; the Ducks are snapping the ball and scoring so fast the whole thing goes by in a blur. "What did I just see?" both defensive coordinators and spectators must be asking themselves.

Literally. Except when they don't need to ask rhetorical questions and are able to discern that they're just watching a really talented offensive FOOTBALL team.

Call it the blur offense.

No. It's a no huddle offense that goes faster than most no huddle offenses.

Does this mean the Ducks have discovered a fundamentally new way to play football?

In case you couldn't figure out the already comically obvious answer, Gregg fills you in a few sentences later: NO. Unfortunately for Gregg, he answers "no" for the wrong reason; by identifying an offense that was fundamentally new 50 years ago and then eventually faded out. Did you know there used to be an offense called the "wishbone?" And that it was awesome at first, and used by lots of teams, but now barely exists? True story. The problem, of course, is that the wishbone was fundamentally new at one point. When you take the no huddle and shave five seconds off the amount of time that elapses between plays, you're still running the no huddle. Strange but true. Why am I still writing about this? No clue.

Fantastic offense hardly ensures a BCS bowl win for the Ducks. Oklahoma set the NCAA scoring record at 58 points per game in 2008, using a variation on the high school-style Franklin spread. The Sooners went on to lose to Florida in the BCS title game.

Ah, as soon as they faced a team that gave Sam Bradford fewer than 15 seconds to make his reads and find an open receiver. Also: no one thinks that a team is guaranteed a BCS win because they score a lot of points. Thanks for blowing the lid off that theory though.

TMQ continues to believe the NFL is merely talking about concussion safety for show, hoping the issue will go away. Player behavior won't change until penalties are assessed, and there are few signs of officials taking neurological safety seriously. If more personal-foul flags were thrown for helmet hits, helmet hits would decline.

There are like five of those every game.

Yet the NFL won't do so little as enforce the chin-strap rule. Why? Because the NFL couldn't care less about concussion safety.

I'm with TMQ in feeling like way too many dudes are losing their helmets these days, and that it can't be happening because of faulty equipment every single time. On the other hand, the NFL doesn't care about concussion safety because it's not penalizing players whose chin straps break? This has what to do with concussions? I don't know of a case in the past few years where someone sustained a concussion after they lost their helmet. Feel free to fill me in if it's happened. I know of a case where someone got their head stomped on by a 350 pound pile of asshole named Albert Haynesworth when their helmet came off, but that's totally different.

The league is just pumping public-relations smoke, hoping public attention to the head-trauma issue will fade and business as usual will rule.

What incentive would they have to respond to the issue that way? Would it cost them money to really crack down on the issue? And thanks for the unnecessary hyphen between public and relations.

United States Congress -- over to you.

It's not like they have anything else to do!

Sweet 'N' Sour Performer: Tony Romo managed to throw for 406 yards, yet have a terrible game. Only the Cowboys can really pull that off.

Lots of teams/players can pull that off. Philip Rivers does it almost every week.

TMQ: Grammar Snob: The expression "healthy food" has become widespread, used where "healthful food" would be correct. Food can't be "healthy." Food, in most cases, is dead.

Dear TMQ: Grammar Snob: DIE. You are wrong. (See #3.) And there's nothing worse than someone who's wrong while trying to be smarter than everyone. A dumb person who says "Me and my brother went down to the fishin' hole" is wrong but not annoying. A person who says "Whom went to the fishin' hole?" because they're trying to sound smart is intolerable.

TMQ contends that at moments of stress, coaches should yell: "Don't panic, there will be plenty of time for that later."

Imagining Gregg running a team from the sidelines at any level above Pop Warner makes me laugh. How could anyone take the guy seriously? At least he'd make things exciting by going for every 4th down and constantly attempting onside kicks.

Trailing by the new economy score of 24-7, Denver reached fourth-and-3 on the Nevermores' 19 with 11:54 remaining. Josh "When Does the Frat Party Start?" McDaniels sent in the kicking unit, and TMQ wrote the words "game over" in his notebook. Down by 17 points on the road late against a power defense, taking a field goal on fourth-and-short doesn't cut it. True, Baltimore was likely to win no matter what McDaniels called on this down -- but going for it was Denver's sole hope at that point.

His next sentence basically says that going for it was the only The completed kick made it a two score game. A 4th down conversion and eventual TD would have made it a two score game. So, no. As usual: no, no, no, you're wrong.

Christmas Creep:

Yep. He's still at it.

I watched Atlanta drip-drip-drip its way to victory against Cleveland and tried to think of something flashy to say about the Falcons. I couldn't. But expect them to be a factor in the postseason.


Stop Me Before I Blitz -- Wait, It Worked! Oakland blitzed like mad against San Diego, including three consecutive snaps with seven-man blitzes on the final Chargers' possession. The result was 506 yards of offense surrendered but victory when three of Philip Rivers' final four passes, all hurried by the big-blitz, fell to the ground incomplete. So the blitz worked here -- but the odds say that if the Raiders continue big-blitzing, over the course of the season they will be sorry.

Unless it keeps succeeding and helping them win close games late in the 4th quarter. In that case they will not be sorry. Just like many teams that employ the blitz on a regular basis succeed every week. Kind of like the now 5-1 Jets.

Network Greenlights a Prequel to the Sequel of the "Nikita" Remake: Anyone can produce a television show that is mainly nonsense: As James Parker of The Atlantic has noted, to produce a TV show that consists entirely of nonsense is an art form. The latest variant of Nikita rises to the level of nothing but nonsense: There are no scenes that make sense.

Hyperbolic. This isn't Around the Horn we're talking about here. ZING!

So by Parker's standard, the latest Nikita is art. But like a lot of art, it's really bad. Five episodes have aired, and TMQ needs to get his points in before the cancellation.


In the pilot, Nikita, this time played by Maggie Q, effortlessly beats into unconsciousness two huge men with guns -- Maggie Q might weigh 110 pounds -- and doesn't even muss her clothes.

No action movie or TV show featuring a female protagonist has ever stooped to such a level.

She breaks a dead-bolted hotel door with a single kick, shattering the hinges, then kicks a huge man, causing him to go flying backward and smash into a wall unconscious.

You're only making me want to actually check out the show.

One doubts even a martial-arts champion could do either thing.

1. Pretentious sentence. 2. Actually, some martial arts champions probably can do that. 3. It's just a fucking TV show. 4. Thanks for the unnecessary hyphen between martial and arts.

Nikita depicts its heroine killing bad guys by throwing knives. In one scene, a steak knife thrown into a huge bad guy's chest causes him to fall dead instantaneously. Even if a steak knife could be thrown into the center of the chest (unlikely -- the sternum is pretty strong), a person wouldn't just fall dead: he would struggle, try to clamp the wound and

You know the drill. This goes on for paragraphs. It's like he's holding a grudge or something. Did the producer of Nikita outbid him for opera tickets at a silent auction or something?

Can't physical reality at least be depicted accurately?

No one cares except you.

See you again later this week! I know our posting tally continues to slip- but I've decided that if I'm only going to do one per week or so, it might as well be a TMQR. I know you're all just thrilled about that idea.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Worst Randy Moss Trade Article I've Seen Yet

When we last left Kerry J. Byrne, of SI and Cold, Hard, Football Facts fame, he was complaining that week 7 of the 2009 NFL season was proof that parity in the NFL was dead due to an unfair system that rewarded teams for having competent front offices.

What's KJB up to now? Saying that the Patriots are better off without Randy Moss, but the reason why may surprise you!

And the Cold, Hard Football Facts are these: Wide receivers, even the all-time great wide receivers, are little more than shiny hood ornaments on NFL offenses.

And all-time great QB's are just beaded seat covers. So the big question is, what vehicular knick-knack is an all-time great fullback!? One of those pine tree air fresheners?

The best teams throughout history might have looked better with one of these glossy hood ornaments glistening in the Sunday sun, but they never needed them to run well.

The best teams throughout history might have played better with a great wide receiver, but when was the last time a great wide receiver rushed for 1000 yards?

We made this point in January, after the Patriots were embarrassed by Baltimore, 33-14, in the wild-card round. Now it seems New England management is in lock-step with the Cold, Hard Football Facts.

Yes, that game where Baltimore jumped out to a 24 point first quarter lead because the Patriots' first four possessions ended in: Tom Brady fumble, 3 and out, Tom Brady interception, Tom Brady interception. Why did it take them so long to trade Randy Moss?

Consider the 1960s Packers. They won five titles and never had a 1,000-yard receiver, despite dominating the highest-scoring decade in NFL history. The 1970s Steelers won four Super Bowls with just a single 1,000-yard receiving season (John Stallworth in 1979). The 1990s Cowboys had Michael Irvin, but look at The Playmaker's numbers: He caught 10 TD passes just once in his career.

He also had an 8 year stretch where he went over 1,000 yards receiving in all but one of those years, when he only had 952 receiver yards. Ho hum, just your average non-all time great receiver who's in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

San Francisco Hall of Famer Jerry Rice was a classic example of a hood-ornament receiver. Best wideout in modern history? Sure. Won three Super Bowls. Played huge in big games. Owns every receiving record in the books. But he didn't make the 49ers great. He joined a dynasty in progress: he was drafted by the defending Super Bowl champs, a team that dominated the NFL with a 15-1 record in 1984. San Francisco's top wideout in that nearly perfect 1984 season? Dwight Clark, with 52 catches for 880 yards.

Yes, Jerry Rice obviously had no impact on the 49er's dynasty because they won a Super Bowl the year before they drafted him. Just like James Harrison had no impact on the Steelers 2008 Super Bowl, because they'd won one in 2005 without him. He's overated I tell you!

Moss is a classic example of a hood-ornament receiver, too. He is one of the best wideouts in history; and certainly one of the great downfield threats in history. His 151 TD receptions, second only to Rice, say it all. But the Patriots didn't need Moss to race across the finish line first three times from 2001 to 2004 and lose out on a photo finish in 2006. And they obviously never drove the distance with him, either.

And the only variable that changed for the Patriots between 2001 and 2007 was the addition of Randy Moss. They didn't lose any players to free agency or retirement, no coaches left, no players talent deteriorated due to age or injury, and no other teams in the NFL got better or worse. Fuckin' Randy Moss screwed the Pat's out of second a dynasty.

At the end of the day, the Patriots were a better team without Moss. Or, at the very least, they were a much better playoff team, and a much better playoff offense, before Moss arrived on the scene.

I've never done this in a post before, but I think the preceeding paragraph was dumb enough to warrant re-print so as to simulate a double-take.

At the end of the day, the Patriots were a better team without Moss. Or, at the very least, they were a much better playoff team, and a much better playoff offense, before Moss arrived on the scene.

Yes, the Patriots were a horrible playoff team with Randy Moss because everyone knows that deep passes aren't allowed in the NFL playoffs, thus making Randy Moss completely useless.

Sacrilege, you say? No way.

Not sacrilege, just very retarded.

In fact, there are no two sides to the argument; no way any rational person can look at the evidence, look at the Cold, Hard Football Facts, and conclude that the Tom Brady Era Patriots were a better team after they acquired Moss.

No way someone could say that maybe there were other variables that prevented the Patriots from winning the Super Bowl, aside from the burden of having one of the greatest wide receivers ever.

Sure, they were a better offense, at times, with Moss, especially in 2007. The Brady-Moss battery lit up the NFL and the record books in 2007, with a truly spectacular season for the ages. You know the story: Brady set a record with 50 TD passes; Moss set a record with 23 TD receptions; the Patriots set a record with 589 points while becoming the first 16-0 team in history. But the season ended in disaster: a 17-14 loss to the Giants -- the most spectacular statistical upset in NFL history.

Some idiot might point out that Moss scored a touchdown for the Patriots in that Super Bowl, but he'd conveniently forget to mention that Moss failed to prevent the Giants from scoring the go ahead touchdown.

The Tom Brady Era Patriots didn't suffer those kinds of playoff implosions in the days before Moss.

Except against the Colts the year before Moss arrived.

They were a better and more consistent postseason offense, and a better playoff team, period, in the days before Moss. Not blaming Moss for the downfall. Maybe it's just coincidence.

Ding ding ding ding

But you can't help but notice the difference.

I'd never been mauled by a large feline before, but then I switched to Crest toothpaste. Two days later, I'm walking down the street and a white Siberian Tiger (one of the rarest cats in the world) lept out in front of me. It was lucky for me that I got to see such an elusive animal in person, but unlucky for me that the feisty feline mauled me within an inch of my life.

What I'm trying to say is, I'm never brushing my teeth with Crest toothpaste again.

The Tom Brady Era Patriots

• Went 12-2 in the playoffs before Moss
• Went 2-2 in the playoffs with Moss

2-2 in the playoffs without Willie McGinest.

[Update: 2-2 in the playoffs with Wes Welker on the roster.]

• Won three Super Bowls before Moss
• Won zero Super Bowls with Moss

Won three Super Bowls with Josh McDaniels as a non-coordinator, won zero titles with McDaniels as an offensive coordinator.

[Update: Zero Super Bowls with Wes Welker on the roster.]

• Averaged 25.3 PPG in the playoffs before Moss
• Averaged 20.8 PPG in the playoffs with Moss

25.3 PPG with Adam Vinatieri, 20.8 PPG without Vinatieri.

[Update: Averaged 20.8 PPG in the playoffs with Welker on the roster.]

So which was the better playoff team? The club that went 12-2, won three Super Bowls and averaged 25.3 PPG; or the club that went 2-2, won zero Super Bowls and averaged 20.8 PPG? The answer is obvious. The Patriots were a record-setting playoff team in the days before Moss. They were just an ordinary playoff team with Moss.

And Moss 100% deserves all the blame for that.

Brady was certainly a better postseason quarterback in the early days, too. Whether coincidence or not, we don't know.

Yeah we don't, but I doubt having one of the best receivers of all time at his disposal is the reason his stats went down.

But we do know that one set of playoff data, one set of Cold, Hard Football Facts, is better than the other.

W-L Att.-Comp. Pct. Yards Yards per attempt TD Int. Rating Points per game
Brady pre-Moss 12-2 295-486 60.7 3,217 6.6 20 9 86.2 25.3
Brady with Moss 2-2 100-151 66.2 891 5.9 8 6 82.9 20.8

The numbers are rather shocking: Brady had a reputation as a dink-and-dunk kind of quarterback in his early days. The numbers support the reputation: his 6.6 YPA in the 14 pre-Moss playoff games was just below the league wide average of about 6.8 to 6.9 YPA.

But Brady also dink-and-dunked his way to 10 straight playoff wins at one point, three Super Bowl victories, a pair of Super Bowl MVP awards, a pair of last-second, game-winning Super Bowl drives, and a record 32 completions in Super Bowl XXXVIII. Considering the Patriots seemed to play half their postseason games in snow, rain or bone-chilling cold, the numbers are pretty decent. They were certainly good enough to win consistently.

Wouldn't the 5.9 YPA during the Moss era suggest they were trying to dink-and-dunk even more with Moss?

But with Moss, the quarterback's numbers suffered badly: Brady was, at one point, the least-intercepted passer in postseason history. But he suffered not one but two three-pick playoff games with Moss as his battery mate (vs. San Diego in the 2007 AFC title game; vs. Baltimore in the 2009 wild-card round).

Randy Moss should be ashamed for making Brady throw those bad passes.

More amazingly, Brady and Moss simply could not get the ball down the field in the playoffs. Moss was supposed to be the greatest downfield threat in history. But Brady's 5.9 YPA average with Moss is incredibly poor, well below his very good career regular-season average of 7.3 YPA.

Or maybe he was trying too hard to dink-and-dunk because that'd won him 3 titles already.

And Moss was a no-show. In four playoff games with the Patriots, he caught 12 passes for 142 yards and 1 TD. That was one day of work for Deion Branch in the playoffs -- back when New England was winning championships. Put another way: the explosive Brady-Moss battery of the regular season was a major-league dud in the postseason.

At no point did Moss open stretch the field for Wes Welker or anyone else to get open. Furthermore, it's entirely Moss's fault that it seemed like every snap Brady took against the Giants and Ravens was a jailbreak for those two teams pass rushers.

[Long portion of anecdotal evidence pinning the Pats recent playoff struggles on Randy Moss redacted because I'm lazy.]

We don't believe trading Moss makes the Patriots a better team. There's no way we can make that judgment at this point. But we do know this: The Patriots ran better and faster, and crossed the finish line first more often, especially in the playoffs, before they put the shiny chrome ornament on the hood of one of the great postseason teams in history.

And everyone knows that putting a shiny chrome ornament on your car will make it break down and fail to win a Super Bowl.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Wow, that's racist! Well not racist, but man, it's pretty fucking dumb

I subscribe to the NFL RedZone channel. It's amazing. Everything about it rules. No commercials. Only exciting plays. The opportunity to feel like I'm watching six games at once- sort of like being in a crowded sports bar on a Sunday afternoon, without all the douchetard Cowboys, Steelers, and Patriots fans there whooping it up and making everyone around them stupider by osmosis.

Another great part of it is host/quasi commentator Scott Hanson. Scott rules. He narrates, runs down some of the exciting stories from the day, occasionally does play-by-play for whatever game is on, often provides color commentary or fantasy football advice, and is always quick-witted and sharp. He talks for six hours straight which is pretty impressive in and of itself; the fact that he does it well is even more incredible. Which is why it really surprised me (as well as pissed me off) when he said this about a Peyton Hillis TD run last Sunday:

And there's Peyton Hillis, reminding us of Mike Alstott.

Here are the ways in which Hillis should remind us of Alstott: they're both white. Here are the ways in which Hillis should not remind us of Alstott: the position each played, their running styles, the situations in which their team used them, and just generally what they looked like while playing football (ON A FOOTBALL FIELD AS PART OF A FOOTBALL TEAM IN THE NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE).

Hanson is far from the only moron sportscaster making this kind of claim. It's just frustrating that he had to join their ranks since he's such a badass otherwise. But really, come on. Let's try to look past race and look at ability when comparing players who play (roughly) the same position. Does Seneca Wallace remind you of Byron Leftwich? Does Kirk Hinrich remind you of John Stockton? Does every Asian baseball player remind you of a young Ichiro? Then you're stupid. Go throw yourself out of a moving ferris wheel.

Just show some awareness, people. It's OK to admit that not every white guy who carries the ball is Mike Alstott, and not every white guy who catches passes is Brandon Stokley.

This is horrible

Seriously. Was the editor really not be content with either "Road Block" or "Block Party"? Was it really necessary to awkwardly fuse together two different puns to form one long pun that won't make sense to anyone who doesn't know that the Patriots were the road team and blocked a field goal?

Also, what would a road block party even be if such a thing were to exist? That's a question I don't want to have to answer.