Sunday, November 28, 2010

Actual Proof That Boise State Doesn't Belong as a Big-Time Football School

Sure, some people are heralding BSU's loss against Nevada as proof positive that Boise State was a National Championship Pretender. I whole-heartedly disagree. Proof of BSU's wannabe status as a major football program didn't come till after the disappointing loss.

In a matter of a day, over 9,000 people joined “The Bronco Nation Loves Kyle Brotzman”Facebook Group. The page has been filled with positive comments from fans who all want Brotzman to feel their support. This is quite the divergence from the typical treatment of kickers who have cost their teams with missed kicks. Here’s what it says in the group’s description:
“Boise State’s Kyle Brotzman is the all-time leading scorer for Bronco Football. A walk-on in 2006 and a local Idaho boy from Meridian High School, Kyle has been a key part of the Broncos’ success during an incredible four-year run. In the 2010 Fiesta Bowl, Kyle was at the center of the most memorable play, “The Riddler,” in which he took a snap on a fake punt on 4th down and threw a pass to Kyle Efaw, setting up the touchdown that would win the game for the Broncos.
True Bronco fans love Kyle and appreciate all that he has brought to this incredible team and program. Thanks, Kyle. We can’t wait to cheer for you and your team in your final two games. GO BRONCOS !!!”

Amateurs. You'll never be a big-time program until the goat of a game this big fears for his grandma's life and has his cell phone number distributed on internet message boards. 

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Boise State Loses! But They're Still Awesome!!!

As you might have noticed, the media darling of Boise State football lost in OT last night.

All season, blowhards have been whining about how unfair it would be that BSU wouldn't get the chance to play in the title game, even if they finished undefeated. Rick Reilly went on and on about how bad the BCS, arguing that the "computers TKO Boise State". Well, looks like BSU TKO'd itself.

So just today, Gene Wojecehjogiaski came out with an article titled "Despite Boise's Loss, non-AQ's belong". Now, of course one game doesn't constitute enough evidence to make a judgment about a whole system, but last night's game is a piece of evidence that affirms the points of view of the Gordon Gees of the world and damages the opposing points of view of the Gene Wojs of the world: competition in non-BCS conferences is generally not up to the same standard, and, consequently, teams from those conferences should get lower preference for BCS bowl bids.

Gene's whole article isn't worth a thorough examination, as most of it explains the reasons for Nevada's win. The most interesting stuff comes at the end, when Gene asks Nevada coach Chris Ault if WAC teams can play with the AQ conferences, and he said that "Ohio State wouldn't beat Boise State". It's kind of stupid for journalists to ask these coaches these things, beacuse like what the hell else would they say? But I guess that's their job.

Here's where the article gets bad:

Anyway, this is the win that will keep on giving. It was a hard-fought victory for all those Little Sisters of the Poor programs -- the same sometimes-scruffy non-automatic qualifiers Gee so casually mocked with his comments.

Actually, this game is just the opposite. By proving the BSU was more of the caliber of the Nevadas of the world and less the caliber of the Auburns of the world, this win actually devalues the LSoP programs, since their best just proved to be ... not that great.

For years the non-AQs have been forced to jump through BCS hoops. Now TCU could be bumped up to BCS first class if No. 1 Oregon or No. 2 Auburn falters in its final game.

And things are as they should be.

Make no mistake: TCU is now positioned for a long-shot national title try not because of the BCS "system," but in spite of it. Maybe that's what makes it easier to root for the Horned Frogs and Wolf Packs of the world.

Make no mistake: both Auburn and Oregon have proved themselves clearly more impressive than TCU this season. Each of those teams deserves their spot. The BCS system is working just fine. While it might not be perfect, sportswriters' hand-wringing and fulminating about its errors is far disproportionate to its actual evil.

Friday, November 26, 2010

FMTMQR: The more things change, the more they stay the same

Oh no. He's up to it again. Remember: if you want to make a sweeping, generalized point about the entire league, you can prove it with a handful of examples.

Undrafted wide receiver Blair White, a walk-on in college, caught two touchdown passes in the fourth quarter of Sunday's tense Indianapolis Colts at New England Patriots game, both times beating high-drafted safety Pat Chung. Also on Sunday, wide receiver Stevie Johnson, a seventh-round pick, caught three touchdown passes in the Buffalo Bills at Cincinnati Bengals game, twice beating corner Leon Hall, a former first-rounder. Earlier in the season, Pierre Garcon of the Colts, a sixth-round choice from Division III Mount Union, sprinted through the Washington Redskins secondary for a 57-yard touchdown reception, past defensive backs DeAngelo Hall and LaRon Landry, both high first-round choices from football-factory colleges.

High-drafted defensive backs should always shut down low-drafted or undrafted receivers on each and every play, regardless of all the other factors that go into the result of any given play- especially when Peyton Manning is throwing passes to those receivers.

These plays, in a nutshell, summarize a core fact of NFL life: Receivers who were unknowns early in their NFL careers often outperform megabucks glory-boy high-drafted types.

That's like saying that people who speed are “often” given tickets. How about we try “very occasionally.”

Among NFL receivers having fine seasons are Danny Amendola, Anthony Armstrong, Miles Austin, Davone Bess, Malcom Floyd, Antonio Gates, Lance Moore and Wes Welker, all undrafted. Other top receivers include Marques Colston, Donald Driver, Garcon, Johnny Knox and Kevin Walter, all late-round draft choices from below-the-radar colleges.

Here are your top 25 WRs this season in terms of yards, their draft position, and their school. Schools in conferences with an automatic BCS bid are in bold.

Brandon Lloyd, 4th, Illinois.

Roddy White, 1st, UAB

Terrell Owens, 3rd, some tiny school in Tennessee

Reggie Wayne, 1st, Miami

Andre Johnson, 1st, Miami

Hakeem Nicks, 1st, UNC

Mike Wallace, 3rd, Ole Miss

Santana Moss, 1st, Miami

Miles Austin, undrafted, Monmouth

Steve Johnson, 7th, Kentucky

Calvin Johnson, 1st, Georgia Tech

Dwayne Bowe, 1st, LSU

Marques Colston, 7th, Hofstra

Jeremy Maclin, 1st, Missouri

Greg Jennings, 2nd, Western Michigan

Brandon Marshall, 4th, UCF

Larry Fitzgerald, 1st, Pitt

Mike Williams TB, 4th, Syracuse

Johnny Knox, 5th, Abeline Christian

Mike Williams SEA, 1st, USC

Desean Jackson, 1st, Cal

Anquan Boldin, 2nd, Florida State

Jabar Gaffney, 2nd, Florida

Braylon Edwards, 1st, Michigan

Percy Harvin, 1st, Florida

So like we were saying, uh, clearly, if you, uh, want to draft a top receiver... what were we saying again?

And the league's No. 1 receiver is Brandon Lloyd, who has been waived twice in the NFL and barely played in 2008 and 2009.

Quick- change your own rules! If the top receiver in the league doesn't fit into the “undrafted” or “small college” categories, cram that square peg into some other round hole that helps you desperately try to prove that unwanted WRs “often” outperform high-drafted WRs despite the fact that 13 of the top 25 receivers in the league this year were drafted in the first round, 18 were drafted in the first three rounds, and 19 came from conferences with automatic BCS qualification. Check previous years and the results are largely the same. Yes, clearly, players like Wes Welker and Miles Austin are a dime a dozen and “often” outperform their glory boy colleagues.

By contrast, you'd quickly run out of fingers counting recent first-round football-factory receivers who either were busts or failed to live up to their billing. Charles Rogers, Troy Williamson, Matt Jones, David Terrell, Ted Ginn Jr., Michael Clayton, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Ashley Lelie, Reggie Williams, Koren Robinson -- not even TMQ has room for a full accounting.

WHAT? Sometimes highly drafted players fail? Knock me over with a feather. Of course there are first round busts, you fucking asshole. There have been dozens at every position since the draft came into existence. And for every Miles Austin, how many undrafted hard work grit and guts no-ego guys never make it off the practice squad?

Why do small-school and low-drafted NFL receivers excel where glory boys falter? In most cases, the answer is ego and work ethic.

Sentence is missing “every once in a while” after “falter.” TMQ then launches into a long explanation of how different playing WR in college is compared to playing WR in the NFL, which is certainly true. And does nothing to change that during any given season, there will be a small handful of successful Miles Austins, and a very large number of successful Calvin Johnsons.

Undrafted or small-school receivers know their sole chance is to work, work, work. At Washington, Anthony Armstrong beat out high-drafted wide receiver Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly, both from football-factory colleges: Thomas was waived and Kelly has played little. At Buffalo, Johnson beat out high-drafted football-factory wide receiver James Hardy, who was waived. Thomas, Kelly and Hardy all strutted around practice complaining that they weren't being showcased: Armstrong and Johnson worked, worked, worked. Last season, while high-drafted, glam-boy wide receiver Roy Williams of Dallas was struggling, Miles Austin worked, worked, worked. Welker works, works, works and then works some more.

So like I said at the beginning of this mess: Gregg has a broad, sweeping point to make and he'll be damned if you're going to stop him from making it by citing a small number of examples.

If you were an NFL coach and saw two receivers on your sideline -- one a high-drafted complainer who expects a limo waiting for him, the other an undrafted guy who works, works, works -- who would you send in?

The first guy, definitely. He has way more talent than the second guy and it's very likely that that fact will compensate for the piles of heart and hustle the second guy has.

In other football news, just one snap away from the Super Bowl last January, the Minnesota Vikings are now 3-7 and were blown off their own home field, 31-3, by the Green Bay Packers. Head coach Brad Childress was just fired, the second NFL head coach of a 2009 playoff team to be cashiered midseason in 2010. "Dysfunctional" doesn't begin to describe the Minnesota franchise. The Vikings make the drill-sergeant-turned-therapist in the Geico commercial seem like a guy who's really got his act together.

Solid point. Horrific analogy used to drive it home.

Yet should [Brad Childress] take all the blame for the Vikes' meltdown? He is the same coach he was last season, when he brought Minnesota within a snap of the Super Bowl. Did he suddenly forget how to coach this season?

Surely, the Vikings' problem is that they have not bowed low enough before Brett Favre! Childress only drove to the airport to pick him up. Why didn't he offer to fold Favre's laundry too? If only the Minnesota Vikings would show Favre some respect!

Favre leads the league with 17 interceptions -- and maybe he wouldn't be throwing to the wrong place so often if he'd bothered to attend training camp for the past two seasons. Favre also has lost five fumbles; 22 turnovers in 10 games by the starting quarterback would doom any NFL team. The Vikings are last in the NFL in turnover differential -- and Adrian Peterson hasn't fumbled this season! Yet Childress is scapegoated while Favre floats above it all. The Metrodome crowd chanted, "FIRE CHILDRESS!" They should have chanted, "PROTECT THE FOOTBALL!"

Solid point. Disastrous chant recommendation, something we've seen from Gregg several times already this season. (Most notably: Wofford University fans should chant “HERE BOY” because their mascot is the Terriers.)

In 2007, Green Bay wanted to be rid of Favre because the team was sick of his attitude, which boils down to: me, me, me and have I mentioned me? Sunday, Green Bay's judgment was vindicated in emphatic fashion.

In 2008, Favre single-handedly blew up the New York Jets, leading to a fired head coach and bitter recriminations all around. In 2010, Favre has blown up the Vikings, with a fired head coach and bitter recriminations all around. This must be some inexplicable coincidence -- it can't have anything to do with Brett Favre.

Ah, one of the very few things TMQ and I agree on. Gotta soak it up until Favre really actually retires.

In Ivy League news, Fight Fiercely Harvard! Hurl that spheroid down the field -- won't it be preachy if we win the game? We shall celebrate our victory by inviting the whole team up for tea. Those are among the lyrics to Tom Lehrer's satirical college fight song from 1953.

This guy has his finger on the pulse of football fans everywhere. He knows exactly what they want to read.

In December, the Bengals were among the league's power teams: now they are on a 2-10 streak and continue to expend more energy boasting than performing. With Cincinnati leading 21-7 in the second quarter, the Bengals' Johnathan Joseph intercepted Fitzpatrick and had a clear path for the pick-six that made the lead 28-7. Joseph began celebrating wildly at the Buffalo 15, waving his arms and strutting. The game is far from over, your team is mired deep in a losing streak, and you're celebrating wildly? Celebrate after you win, not in the second quarter. The football gods retaliate against this sort of thing. After the point that Joseph taunted the Bills, Buffalo outscored the home team 42-3.

/Larry B holds head in hands, sobbing gently

Stat of the Week No. 10: In the games in which Randy Moss started for them, the Patriots, Vikings and Titans are a combined 4-6.

Gotta be because Moss was a first round draft pick who has a big ego, amirite?

Cheerleader of the Week: Donya of the Raiderettes, who, according to her team bio, has a master's degree in counseling and works as a high school guidance counselor. A guidance counselor who won the Miss Silver and Black Figure award -- bet a lot of teen boys suddenly have a strong interest in getting help on college apps.

Please stop running this item. It keeps getting creepier and creepier.

Here, the Junior Raiderettes program allows tween girls to dream of someday being underpaid as NFL cheerleaders.

And there it goes again. He provided a link (why?), which I deleted. Is anyone besides a Raiders fan living in the Bay Area who has a daughter interested in cheerleading going to be able to click on that without feeling like a complete dirtbag?

Halfway through the fourth quarter, New England led 31-21 and Belichick's charges went incompletion, rush, incompletion, punt -- the incompletions stopping the clock. Leading 31-28 with 2:23 remaining and facing third-and-7, Belichick again called a pass, which fell incomplete. Belichick has been crossing opponents up this season by rushing more than usual. Yet had the Flying Elvii simply run for no gain on these three late snaps that were incompletions, the Colts likely would not have had enough clock to reach the New England 24 in the closing seconds.

Hey alright! This kind of braindead thinking is back! I spoke too soon a couple weeks ago when I noted that he'd stopped saying shit like this. At least he's toned down the language, though- in the past he didn't include the word “likely” like he did up there. He just took it as fact that if a team kicked a game winning field goal as time expired, an incomplete pass by the other team with 14 minutes left in the 4th quarter was to blame.

When the Colts had the ball at the New England 24 with 37 seconds remaining, a touchdown would've won the contest for Indianapolis. Peyton Manning aimed deep for Pierre Garcon, who had a step on his man up the sideline; Manning's pass was underthrown and James Sanders intercepted, icing the game for the hosts.


Once 5-3, Tennessee has lost its past two games; Jeff Fisher and Vince Young are arguing openly; this sudden negative energy field around the Titans can't have anything to do with Randy Moss arriving, can it?

Almost certainly not. I think the poor onfield results have a lot to do with the fact that the Titans aren't really that good. I think the weird off the field stuff has a lot to do with the fact the Vince Young has the mental fortitude of a spoiled 14 year old.

As Jersey/B lined up from the Houston 48, Texans' cornerbacks, knowing the Jets had no timeouts, should have played on the outside shoulders of Jersey/B wide receivers, to keep them away from the sidelines. Forcing any action to the center of the field, where the clock would keep ticking, would doom the host's comeback.

Wouldn't have doomed it. The Jets still could have gotten down the field and snapped the ball in time for a spike- Edwards caught the pass at the 10 with about 16 seconds left.

Yet not only did Houston corner Jason Allen line up right across from Edwards as though this were a standard down --

Right, agree. That was a mistake.

Allen, busy making the high-school mistake of "looking into the backfield" trying to guess the play,

Classic Gregg revisionist history. I saw this play happen live and then saw the fifty subsequent replays. In no way was Allen looking into the backfield. He just knew he had safety help so he didn't necessarily have to keep Edwards in front of him (although he definitely did not play to the situation as well as he could have) and then got beat.

Metaphor of the Year: "Cher has come to seem the Sherman tank of divas, sometimes under fire but seldom in retreat, grinding ever onward, armored and unstoppable." The New York Times on Cher in the movie Burlesque.

What? Why?

Just a thought -- what if the Eagles tried running Oregon's blur offense with Michael Vick?

They should totally change their entire playbook and way of doing things two thirds of the way through the season, I agree.

Buck-Buck-Brawckkkkkkk: Trailing 34-16 with six minutes remaining in the contest, the Blue Men Group faced fourth-and-goal on the New Orleans 2. That can't be the field goal unit trotting in! Yes, an 18-point deficit means you must score three times, and the field goal cut the need by one score. But Seattle was only two yards from the end zone at this point: even if it got the ball back on the ensuing onside kick (it didn't), the team would have been more than 50 yards from the end zone. You need touchdowns, you're two yards away from one, why are you kicking?

I agree. Bad decision.

In the style-points-obsessed college ranks that Seattle coach Pete Carroll just left, this decision would have made sense: keep the final score respectable to impress the pollsters.

I disagree. You are a diptard. Under no circumstances would a coach of a big time college program like USC ever choose to reduce a margin of loss instead of going for a win.

Once, many NFL teams played on Thanksgiving; to this day, high school teams play championship or rivalry games on Thanksgiving. In the 1950s, the old NFL began a tradition of having only one game on turkey day, always at Detroit. In the 1960s, a Cowboys' home date was added on Thanksgiving, to help the Dallas expansion franchise become established. Detroit and Dallas have been the traditional hosts since. There's no larger reason -- the reason is, "We do it that way because that's the way we do it."

You just described 90% of all sports traditions, and some similarly high percentage of all traditions worldwide. And apparently it's a bad thing, I guess?

"Friday Night Lights" Update:

Yup. He's still doing this.

Buddy now runs a roadhouse, his car dealership vanished without explanation. This seems a missed joke -- they could have blamed Washington for shutting down Buddy's dealership in the General Motors restructuring.


Last season, the East Dillon Lions were a terrible team that went 2-8. The school hadn't fielded a football program in a generation, the players practiced on sod, there wasn't enough equipment. Naturally, SuperCoach Eric Taylor has changed all that! Though it's not clear how: In recent scripts, Taylor seems mainly to yell at people.

This show is so unrealistic!

This season, East Dillon has won its first three games -- it will be an upset if the series doesn't conclude with another state championship. The two games depicted in the first three episodes both were won on a long touchdown on the final play; the third game wasn't shown but we see the score listed as 22-21. One of the final-snap long-touchdown wins is a pass to a player who not only has never been in a football game before, he's never even practiced with the Lions; the catch defeats the defending state champion. Bet this kind of thing happens in Texas football all the time!

SO unrealistic! It's almost as if they're trying to make money by entertaining people rather than staying true to the exact way in which high school football is played in real life.

Of course NFL coaches are known for hyper-conservative decisions. But punting on fourth-and-1 in opposition territory when trailing by two scores? Cactus Wrens coach Ken Whisenhunt was trying to keep the final score close, to avoid a beat down on his resume.

/Larry B sobs heavily while in the fetal position on the floor

Sure, Whisenhunt took the Cardinals to the Super Bowl two years ago, but "what have you done for us lately?" is the NFL's key question. With Arizona looking awful, Whisenhunt might have trouble holding his job come the offseason. Playing to keep the score respectable helps his chances -- but coaches should make their decisions based on what might lead to wins, not what's good for them personally in office politics.

Percentage of NFL coaches who are fully aware of this fact: 97%. (Only exception is Josh McDaniels, who is never aware of anything, ever)

TMQ tracks the Crabtree Curse: Mike Singletary is 8-5 without Michael Crabtree and 8-14 with him. Matt Kerr of Adelaide, Australia, asks, "What about the Dez Dilemma? Without Dez Bryant at Dallas, Wade Phillips was 33-15 and earned the Cowboys' first postseason victory in 15 years. With Dez Bryant, Philips was 1-7 and fired. When Bryant came to the Cowboys and started getting away with little things like refusing to carry a vet's shoulder pads because he thinks he is above this, that had to harm team chemistry."

Congratulations, Matt Kerr. Your stupidity has eclipsed Gregg's.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

This Bothers Me Immensely

I hate to bury my own post, but this really chafes my ass.

One of Sports Illustrated's "Turkeys of the Year" is Bud Selig. Totally agree. Bud has done some knuckleheaded shit this year, not the least of which claiming that he believes Abner Doubleday invented baseball. His other dumb outbursts include his support of a 10 team MLB playoff, his claims that the MLB labor struggles were the worst in history, and basically everything he's ever said about replay. But none of those are the reason why SI thinks he's a "Turkey of the Year." Let's read:

Umpire Jim Joyce was reduced to tears of remorse, Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga gracefully forgave the painfully obvious blown call at first base that denied him a perfect game against the Indians on June 2, and a nation was inspired by their reconciliation. Yet, the Commissioner of Major League Baseball could not bring himself to get in on the class act by reviewing the play and overturning the ruling. Even the White House weighed in. "I hope that baseball awards a perfect game to that pitcher," said spokesman Robert Gibbs. "We're going to work on an executive order."

This really bothers me. I'm sorry, but Jesus fuck man. He's the turkey of the year for not going back and reversing the outcome of the game? And he should be the first person in MLB history ever to change the fucking outcome of a game not because it impacted a division race or playoff appearance but because a 3rd place team had a pitcher who almost threw a perfect game?

Seriously, this really pisses me off. 2012 can't come fast enough. Here's hoping the Mayans were right.

Jemele Hill Plays the Race Card, Logical Disjunction Ensues

I'm not wealthy with time right now so let me just highlight the grossest offenses in Jemele Hill's latest attempt to play the race card

On Sunday, Titans coach Jeff Fisher demoted Vince Young to benchwarmer after Young threw a tantrum following Tennessee's 19-16 loss to Washington. Although thumb surgery is the official reason Young's season is over, Fisher made it clear before he knew the severity of Young's injury that his 27-year-old quarterback was being removed as the starter...

I'm also not overlooking the facts that Campbell played poorly in the games in which he was benched, that Young's antics in Tennessee are largely to blame for his problems with Fisher, and that Shanahan has had difficult relationships with plenty of white quarterbacks in the past.
But it still seems as if race is playing a role in how some black quarterbacks are treated, managed, perceived and, ultimately, judged.

In other words: These quarterbacks were all benched for reasons that Occam's razor dictates have nothing to do with race. Therefore, it seems as if race is playing a role in how some black quarterbacks are treated, managed, perceived and, ultimately, judged.

The first time Campbell was benched this season was during halftime of the second game of the season.

The impatience the Raiders have shown with Campbell is stunning. They gave up a fourth-round pick to get him, and were convinced he was the answer after things went south with draft bust JaMarcus Russell, another black quarterback.

I would agree that the impatience the Raiders are showing with Campbell stands in contrast to the remarkable patience they showed with their last quarterback, JaMarcus Russell. JaMarcus, as his name suggests, is white. Thus, this is a pretty good point Jemele raises and a perfect example of the imbalance of treatment between black quarterbacks and white. I stand corrected.

Campbell will start on Sunday against Miami, but it's baffling that he's still fighting with Bruce Gradkowski -- whose career record as a starter is 5-11 -- for the No. 1 job.

Campbell's career record is 20-32. That's slightly better than Gradkowski, but Campbell played for slightly better teams than Gradkowski. And no, Gradkowski's not a good quarterback but neither has been Campbell this year.

The Raiders are fighting for a playoff spot this year, and say what you want about Al Davis being insane (Al Davis is insane) but a team with playoff aspirations isn't going to make a switch for any reason but on-field quality. Gradkowski is probably a worse QB than Campbell, which is why Campbell will probably get the start on Sunday. But he hasn't performed significantly worse this season, particularly in the last couple of games.

I know race doesn't completely explain the Raiders' treatment of Campbell or why he didn't work out for the Redskins. But Campbell's shortcomings are rarely clarified with the same perspective as some white quarterbacks

I have no idea what that last sentence means.

You hear about his 25-35 record as a starter, but you don't hear that he's played for a different offensive coordinator in every season since the Redskins drafted him in the first round in 2005.

He's certainly the only QB to have to overcome that hurdle.

Much like Campbell, those QB's were given a lot of opportunities with their original team until those teams finally came to the conclusion that these QB's were not really franchise QB's and moved on. All three quarterbacks have in common the fact that they were either white or black.

Most African-Americans are familiar with the notion that we have to be twice as good just to be considered equal with whites.

I didn't realize this was fait accompli. Perhaps in the white collar world this is true (although the multiplier might be off a little, Jemele) but I don't know how you can argue that black athletes aren't given a fair shake in professional sports.

And considering that there are only six black starting quarterbacks in the NFL, there isn't a lot of room for error.

QED! Clearly black QB's haven't gotten a fair shake throughout the history of the NFL, but I hardly think it's the NFL's fault that talented black QB's don't come around very often. When they do they're given every opportunity to succeed that a white QB with their draft status might expect (Josh Freeman, David Garrard, Byron Leftwich, Vince Young, Quincy Carter, Tavaris Jackson, hell, even Seneca Wallace) unless their team gets a better option. Is anyone really going to argue, for instance, that the Vikings pinning their hopes on Brett Favre was a race thing?

Fisher and Young had completely different accounts of what unfolded after Sunday's loss to the Redskins. Undoubtedly, Young didn't handle himself like a professional; but then again, I don't know of any quarterback who would be happy about being replaced by a third-stringer.

Young wanted to play despite a busted thumb. If Brett Favre had done that, we'd say he was being fiercely competitive.

But this is Vince Young, so he's being a brat.

Perhaps Vince Young's getting the bum's rush here. But I think the way it's generally going to read when an immature player who has quit on his team in the past has a temper tantrum is that the immature player is having a temper tantrum. It's hard to compare media treatment between black QB's and white QB's on this issue though because no one else has ever thrown this public a tantrum, including Brett Favre.

I don't question whether black quarterbacks receive opportunities in the NFL, because it's obvious they do. But how fair are those opportunities? Despite all the progress that's been made by black quarterbacks, why does it still seem as if they are held to a different standard?

Well, it's a fair question. But if your best examples of these QB's being held to different standards are Vince Young and Jason Campbell you're not going to make a compelling argument. Both players got more than a fair shake in the NFL.

"Any franchise Caucasian quarterback will get unlimited opportunities to realize their potential," says Shaun King, an African-American who quarterbacked the Tampa Bay Bucs to the NFC Championship Game in 1999. "If Jay Cutler left Chicago, and even if he played badly, he's always going to be viewed as a franchise QB. For African-Americans, their value is strictly tied to their current performance. It's tough to stick up for Vince Young because his immaturity has been a consistent issue, but a Caucasian QB that has been as successful as Vince Young wouldn't be pulled as much as him."

Ah, anecdotal bullshit! Certainly black QB's get jerked around. I don't deny that. But so do tons of white QB's. Brady Quinn and Derrek Anderson. JP Losman and Trent Edwards. Rex Grossman and Kyle Orton.

Basically, in the NFL, unless you're a top 5 draft pick, you will get jerked around.

I could write the exact same column Jemele did, only with Alex Smith, Brady Quinn, Matt Leinart and Kyle Orton as my examples of how white QB's don't get as many opportunities as Jason Campbell did. Only...that would be stupid. Really stupid.

People are still searching for ways to blame newcomer Terrell Owens for the Bengals' disappointing 2-8 season, even though Palmer has guided the Bengals to only two winning seasons and hasn't won a playoff game during his seven years in Cincinnati.

So why doesn't Palmer get the Jason Campbell treatment? Why isn't he labeled an underachiever like McNabb?

Palmer is getting the Campbell treatment by the media. And by the way, Palmer was once one of the best 5 QB's in the NFL. Certainly he seems to no longer be among the NFL's elite QB, but that might have something to do with the patience he's been shown. Donovan McNabb had a couple disappointing years at the end of his Eagles run and no one was champing at the bit to replace him. And he's black! :-o

Manning has a Hall of Fame résumé and is one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the position. But he isn't facing an avalanche of criticism from the fans and media for the interception against the Patriots on Sunday that ended the Colts' comeback attempt and sealed the game for New England.

Manning accepted responsibility for the mistake, of course. But had that been McNabb, the reaction would have been downright vitriolic...

Palmer and Manning certainly have been criticized, but rarely in their careers have they faced the same microscope or backlash that McNabb, Vick, or most other black starting quarterbacks have.

Why hasn't Peyton Manning faced backlash ever in his career? Never has Manning been called a choker or a postseason failure. It's utterly baffling to me how the reigning MVP hasn't been called out as a loser after a single bad game in an otherwise excellent season!

McNabb, who despite being an 11-year veteran who has been to five NFC title games, had to listen to his coach essentially call him too out of shape and simpleminded to run his offense.

McNabb, by the way, has led 17 fourth-quarter comebacks and 25 game-winning drives in his career.

And he didn't know the rules for overtime in a game he plays professionally. Look, I'm not calling McNabb stupid. He's almost certainly not. I think nearly everyone acknowledges McNabb is an excellent QB. But this is just stupefying--there are hundreds of explanations for why Shannahan doesn't like McNabb--the most obvious probably being that McNabb hasn't been receptive to his son's coaching. That has very little to do with him being black. Or a quarterback--after all Shannahan got on Albert Haynesworth this offseason for being out of shape. Or maybe Shannahan's prejudiced against black DT's as well. Or just all black people ever. You never know! Glad we have Jemele Hill around to make these baseless accusations of racism, otherwise we'd never know who could conceivably be unapologetic racists, maybe, if you squint hard enough.

Her coup de grace:

if most of us agree that racism is still an issue in this country, how can we dismiss its influence in sports?

I don't think most people deny the presence of racialism in professional sports. Clearly the league recognizes the possibility of racial prejudice in coaching hires and everyone knows white superstars tend to be more marketable than black superstars in certain sports at certain positions.

But if you're going to make an argument about racism--unconscious or conscious--you better come with your gun loaded with better bullets than Jason Campbell and Vince Young.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Phil Rogers is the Worst Baseball Writer in America,0,3389440.column

That's all. And no, I'm not forgetting Jon Heyman.

It isn't broke, but they're fixing it for the money - Part II

Just last week at the Winter Meetings, baseball commissioner Bud Selig announced that baseball will likely move forward with playoff expansion for 2010. [ ]. This is not a particularly good decision, and it seems to be motivated almost exclusively by a desire to make more money for people who are already absurdly rich at the cost of deflating a great product.

This is hardly new in sports (I wrote about some NCAA football rule changes back in 2008), but it's reprehensible every time it comes up. This proposal would generate some more gate and television revenue while watering down the playoffs and awarding a fairly outrageous advantage to a division winner.

Bud, ever the master strategist, had this to offer: "Eight is a very fair number, but so is 10."

Wham! The logic train has come through on the track, steaming over all the opposition. If eight teams is fair, so is ten! QED!

Jayson Stark came out with a column back in mid-September that supports it on the grounds that it incentivizes a team playing for first place, because it gives division winners a bigger advantage. In general, Jayson Stark knows what he's talking about and the man obviously has a depth of baseball knowledge. But I don't think he's accurate here: while it could increase September excitement, do we really need to invite a worse team to the playoffs just to get the Wild-Card team to try harder?

And Jayson's article (which came out on September 10), was ostensibly written with the obvious example of the Yankees and Rays, who were both assured of a playoff spot, but were fighting for a division crown. Sure, the new system would've made their run for the division title a little more exciting ... by giving the distant-third-place Red Sox a chance to knock one of them them out?

Not to mention that this proposed system would have completely eliminated the drama in the National League this year, when the Braves, Padres and Giants all entered the last weekend knowing that only two would make the playoffs. That was an exciting last day of the season, one that would've been meaningless under the new system.

Had the system been in place this year, the Red Sox and Padres would have made the playoffs. While these teams are decent teams (unlike, say, the under .500 record which gets you into the NBA playoffs), I don't see a strong argument for these teams on the basis of fairness. In fact, not a single article I've read justifies this move on account of giving a good team the chance to win the World Series.

In fact, there are really no justifications offered for this other than it would "increase playoff drama" and "make division winners count for more", both of which, IMO, are bullshit.

If this is adopted, the division winner who would play the winner of the Wild-Card round would have a rested staff ready to face an opponent who just spent their top two or three pitchers. Although that would incentivize a team's desire to win home-field advantage, that seems wildly unfair to the division winner with the second-best record, who wouldn't get to face the WC team.

The other three major sports all have a playoff system which rewards nearly half the league with a playoff spot. This results in bloated playoffs (which nobody likes) that drag on for months at a time. The other sports have no sense of end-of-season drama, since all the good teams are assured of a playoff spot, and the only teams battling for entry are teams that don't really deserve to be there.

Baseball should be proud of its differences from the other major sports. Adding playoff teams is never going to increase the playoff drama. It's only going to increase the revenues going into the hands of owners.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Snap Cognitive Dissonance With Don Banks

From this week's Snap Judgments column:

If you've seen one Jets game this season, you've seen them all. Not to repeat myself from last Sunday's Snaps, but the resilient Jets are going to find a way to win, no matter how long the game lasts...It must be torture for New York fans to sit through these three-hour high-wire acts every Sunday, but I don't know how you can possibly take exception with the results.

Bah, whatever. The Football Outsiders say that the Jets luck unit leads the league in wins, which I tend to agree with. But I also agree with Don Banks that a win's a win and all that. However, a few paragraphs later, Banks has this to say:

The Ravens wound up making it look like a comfortable win, but if you watched Baltimore's 37-13 conquest of out-manned Carolina, you know better. The Panthers, with the very lightly experienced Brian St. Pierre at quarterback, were within seven points (at 20-13) until late in the third quarter. Baltimore really doesn't close the deal very well this season...

So let's recap:

The Jets, who have needed the last few minutes of regulation or overtime to put away the sub-.500 Dolphins, Vikings, Broncos, Lions, Browns, and Texans, are a thrilling team whose results you can't argue with.

Conversely, the Ravens, who blew out the Dolphins and Broncos, don't close games out very well and therefore, their wins can be easily discounted.

Note: Yes, I'm a Ravens fan. No, I don't think the Ravens are objectively better than the Jets. In fact, I think the Jets would probably win a rematch if they played tomorrow. I just think it's a little ridiculous that Banks and a lot of other media folk are falling over themselves to congratulate the Jets for racking up come from behind wins against teams with losing records.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Hey, You Know, It's OK, Not Like They Need the Money for Anything Else.

While I was typing that title, the anchor on CSN just mentioned that Brad Abromaitis played pretty good for Notre Dame against Chicago State tonight.

Anyway, on to the crap. Steve Kornacki is probably the only human being on the planet who isn't laughing at the Detroit Tigers right now, other than Rafael Soriano, who probably just purchased a dozen yachts or something. He's here to tell us why Joaquin Benoit is worth $16.5M.

DETROIT -- The Detroit Tigers on Wednesday reached a three-year deal with super setup man Joaquin Benoit that could end up being as important a transaction as the club makes in what promises to be a busy offseason.


It’s just a shade over the $15 million for three years reliever Brandon Lyon got last year from the Houston Astros in leaving Detroit. Lyon widely was viewed as getting much more than he was worth but never has had a dominating season like Benoit did.

Oh, but Lyon was about 4 years younger, had a better track record, and didn't have rotator cuff surgery within the past two years.

Rays manager Joe Maddon said a case could be made that Benoit was the most valuable player on his very talented team.

Rays manager Joe Maddon once claimed that Jason Bartlett was the team MVP after OPSing .674. Let's hold off on putting much stock on managers making fluffy comments to compliment his own players, yeah?

The Tigers were set with Jose Valverde closing, but how would they get the game to him?

I don't know, the same way teams with an average bullpen get to their closer? Use one or two pretty decent pitchers?

Reliable reliever Phil Coke took care of plenty of eighth innings but was moved into the starting rotation. And once reliever Joel Zumaya was injured last season, the Tigers began their free fall to third place. He took care of seventh innings and might be able to again in 2011 if healthy. But who knows?

Perhaps, Ryan Perry or Daniel Schlereth will be ready for reliable late-inning work this season. Brad Thomas and Robbie Weinhardt could factor into important innings, too.

But now, there is less pressure on everybody with Benoit in the fold.

Fine, Benoit's 60 innings will help take the pressure off. There were cheaper options. It won't put a bat in RF or at DH (assuming Guillen is back at 2B). Just saying.

However, his signing is not without risk. This is not a pitcher who consistently has rattled off eye-popping numbers. He was 30-26 with a 4.47 ERA and 1.35 WHIP in eight seasons with the Texas Rangers before having one break-out year with Tampa Bay.

Uh oh Steve. That isn't good. There's a sample size to go with those numbers.

Benoit was pretty good in 2007, going 7-4 with a 2.85 ERA and 1.17 WHIP. But he walked 35 in 45 innings for the Rangers in 2008 and hasn't had the control he displayed last year.

He had right rotator cuff surgery at the end of 2008, sat out all of 2009 and signed for $800,000 in 2010.

Good. Bad. Injured. Awesome. Middle Relievers. Mike MacDougal.

Benoit began the year with Triple-A Durham and ended it by retiring all 11 Rangers he faced in the playoffs and picking up one win.


His agents, Sam and Seth Levinson, also represented Tigers third baseman Brandon Inge and shortstop Jhonny Peralta in their negotiations to re-sign with the club.

Dombrowski must have these guys on his friends and family calling list.

Argument #57 why Joaquin Benoit was a good signing: His agents also represent a mediocre left side of an infield.

And that's it. Convinced? I sure am.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

WMTMQR: From a TMQ Column That's Hot Off the Presses

Yeah so I skipped the TMQ from two weeks ago. It wasn't anything special anyways. Certainly not as pathetic as this week's, which in addition to Gregg's regular dosage of mindless bullshit, irrational reasoning, and WRONG included not one but three photos of NFL cheerleaders. Look, I like T and A as much as the next guy. Specifically I am an A man. But Jesus Criminy on a pogo stick, Gregg. Tone it down. You're a fucking weirdo.

McNabb celebrated his deal by throwing three interceptions, one a pick-six, and posting a wretched 69.4 passer rating.

Considering the Redskins were down 14-0 before the opening kickoff and 70-0 at the end of the first quarter, it's not surprising that the Eagles were ready for McNabb to throw a shit ton of passes. He actually was on the verge of getting them back in the game a couple times with big plays. I'm not saying he's not washed up or that he deserved the money, but he didn't really have that horrible of a game when you consider the circumstances.

The situation was so messed up that even though the Redskins' cheerleaders danced throughout the first half in two-piece summer outfits -- despite a cool night and light rain -- 36 gorgeous scantily attired women dancing in the rain could not improve the home team's fortunes.

Yeah, see this is what I'm talking about. Is he a closeted homosexual and overcompensating for it? Is he trying to piss his wife off? Is he just a nerd who can't keep his excitement about good looking broads to himself? Your guess is as good as mine.

And Shanahan's game management! Trailing 42-14 in the second quarter, he had Washington punt on fourth-and-1. Punting on fourth-and-1 when down by four touchdowns!


Hakeem Nicks started to run a slant, then inexplicably stopped in his tracks; Eli Manning threw the slant, Dallas corner Bryan McCann cut in front and returned the pick 101 yards for a touchdown, turning a close contest into what would become a Boys rout. The botched play was sour. So was the call -- can't anybody just run at the goal line in the NFL anymore?

If you watch any amount of football on any given weekend, you'd know the answer to that is "sometimes." I'm a Broncos fan, and at the end of last season I saw a stat that they were stopped for no gain or a loss of yardage when running the ball from the opponents' 1 yard line like 40 times last year. It was something like 2.5 times per game, pretty sad considering how rare it is to have a possession on the 1. For a single anecdote from this season, check out the Bears' possession at 10:37 here.

Scoring to pull within 23-17 with 2:10, Cincinnati onside kicked. Last month yours truly decried "an officiating problem that has been driving TMQ crazy for years. In a scramble for a loose ball, if any player takes possession for even an instant, with a knee down and in contact with an opponent, the play should end. But zebras don't officiate mad scrambles this way. They let the players fight for the ball, then award possession to whoever wins the Darwinian struggle. Often the fighting continues although all players involved have their knees down."

Who quotes themselves directly like that? And it should be so easy for the refs to know exactly when the play ends and blow their whistle right then as 10 players all converge on a loose ball at top speed! Why haven't they started doing that, since there's certainly no way it would ever lead to them fucking up the call and completely changing the course of a game.

That's exactly what happened on the Cincinnati onside kick.

I was watching this game. It's not what happened.

Pierre Garçon of Indianapolis fielded the kick, had control and went to both knees.

He never had control.

The whistle should have sounded -- down over. Instead, the zebras allowed players to fight and pull for the ball for a solid 15 seconds.

Because before the pile formed, no one had possession while down by contact.

Someone ripped the ball away from Garçon -- remember, he was down!

Without control.

-- and possession was awarded to Cincinnati.

Class Gregg- revisionist history used to prove an impractically stupid point. See also: EVERY BLITZ IN THE HISTORY OF ORGANIZED FOOTBALL HAS FAILED- HERE ARE TWO EXAMPLES.

Having the quarterback march around holding the ball, defense not realizing the ball has been snapped, is a longstanding youth league trick. In another variation of this action, the quarterback says loudly, "There's something wrong with the ball." The center hands the quarterback the ball, thus snapping; the offensive line goes Stonehenge; the quarterback walks toward the sideline as if to show the ball to an official, then sprints up the field for a touchdown. Though the snap and the Stonehenge line were kosher, TMQ thinks the middle-school play could be flagged. "No player shall act in an unsportsmanlike manner," says the National Federation of High Schools football rulebook which governs most high school and middle-school play. The NCAA and NFL have similar rules. Trying to trick the defense into allowing an uncontested touchdown doesn't sound particularly sporting, especially if it involves pretending to speak to the officials, since players are supposed to become passive when the officials are involved.

Ludicrous. Given that perspective, here are some other things Gregg might find unsporting:
-End arounds
-HB passes
-The triple option (too deceptive!)
-Passing to a WR who is taller than the DB covering him
-Running away from a player who is slower than you while you are in possession of the ball

Instead Chiefs coaches called a pass; Matt Cassel ran backward all the way to the 19, where he was hit and fumbled; Denver's Jason Hunter took the fumble the length of the field for a touchdown and a 35-0 Denver lead that effectively ended the contest. Never panic in the first half; there will be plenty of time for that later!

Unless you're the Redskins on Monday Night Football and it's 42-14. When you're facing THAT particular 28 point deficit, you definitely panic and go for it on 4th down in your own territory.

TMQ in the News: Wednesday, I will be moderator for the Washington launch of the United Nations Human Development Report, one of the world's key documents.


This year's report has a hopeful tone -- it shows that in most cases, poor nations are making decent progress. The report summary is here and the event announcement is here. I became interested in developing world advancement rates when researching


my 2003 book, "The Progress Paradox,"


and have since done what I can to draw attention to the subject, including, in most recent years, helping the report launch.


Steelers, Patriots Meet in Arena League Action: New England got steamrolled in Cleveland, then went to Pittsburgh and steamrolled the Steelers. This must prove that on any given Sunday --

Any team can win in the NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE. Jaworski'd. You know, last year I watched MNF almost every week and of course it pretty much drove me batty. Listening to Jaws, Chuckie, and that dumbfuck Tirico will do that to you. Because of my schedule this fall, I've probably only seen a grand total of 30 minutes of MNF. And I gotta say I feel just fine about that.

But a Steelers-Patriots contest in which both teams opened in the shotgun spread, and stayed shotgun spread for most of the game, was a little too postmodern for my taste.

For all your high mindedness and pretension, I'm 95% sure you're not using "postmodern" correctly there.

Trailing 10-0, the Steelers reached third-and-goal at the New England 4, threw an incompletion and kicked a field goal. Wouldn't a couple rushes have yield six points?

Maybe. Maybe not. Wouldn't a pass from an all-pro QB to a talented receiving corps have yielded six points? Wouldn't kicking on third down have been the smarter move, in case the snap got botched? Wouldn't it be great if no one started Christmas shopping until December 22nd?

Then, New England leading 29-18 with four minutes remaining and facing third-and-5, Pittsburgh blitzed seven men, and I don't even need to tell you who won the game.

Shockingly, despite trailing by 11 and not having the ball with 5 minutes left, the Steelers went on to lose. That could have been avoided, however, if they hadn't blitzed on that play. Blitzing fails every time and is a bad idea no matter what. Just ask the 2005 and 2008 Steelers.

Phillips has a low-key coaching style -- he draws up game plans but relies on players to be professionals and prepare themselves physically and psychologically. This approach worked when he was head coach of the Broncos and Bills,

To the tune of two playoff appearances and zero playoff wins in five seasons.

Was the final score poor sportsmanship? Normally the gauge of sportsmanship in football is whether a team with a big lead stops passing in the second half. Wisconsin runs the ball so well that to hold down the score, the Badgers should switch to passing. Wisconsin starters left the game early, and Wisconsin tactics in the second half were bland. The missing sportsmanship touch was that, leading 62-13 at the start of the final stanza, Wisconsin kicked extra points on its three fourth-quarter touchdowns. The Badgers should have knelt on the PATs.

Nothing screams "we care!" like forgoing that extra point. A true indication of class. Why be penny wise and pound foolish? If you're going to kneel on PAT attempts, might as well spend your possessions kneeling three times and punting.

In San Francisco, They Know About Sweet-n-Sour: San Francisco looked finished with Les Mouflons leading 17-13 with 2:30 remaining and the Forty-Niners facing third-and-32 in their territory. Troy Smith threw to Frank Gore in the left flat for 14 yards, then on fourth-and-18 threw the same play again in the left flat to Gore for 23 yards, then threw to Michael Crabtree for the touchdown.

BEWARE THE CRABTREE CURSE! Adding talented players to your team makes it worse, not better!

[Referring to the Raiders and their patchwork roster] This is a team after TMQ's heart -- castoffs and who-dats.

Remember that time he suggested that NBA teams stop using their first round picks because every year, some of them don't work out? Yes, I agree with you, that is one of the dumbest things ever written about sports.

Jacksonville Becomes the Dillon Panthers of the NFL: Jacksonville has now won games on a final-snap 59-yard field goal and a final-snap 50-yard Hail Mary. You have to feel for Texans defender Glover Quin, who tried to knock the pass to the ground -- exactly what defenders should do to a Hail Mary -- only to see it carom to Jax's Mike Thomas for the winning six.

Hat tip to Jack M: if only Quin had selfishly gone for a stat-padding interception, the game might have headed to OT.

BCS note: Can sportscasters and sportswriters please stop referring to the USA Today and Harris polls as the "human" polls? No other species gets a vote -- the BCS is obviously worried the Klingons would like TCU more than Auburn.

Does he know how the BCS works? He knows that there are computer rankings (admittedly not really true "polls," but still) involved, right?

Stop Me Before I Blitz Again!: City of Tampa leading Carolina 24-16 with 4:40 remaining, the Bucs faced third-and-15 in their own territory. Play straight defense here and a stop is statistically likely ... It's a mega-blitz! Tampa converts and scores the game-icing touchdown on the possession.

Shame on Carolina for anticipating a long-developing pass play and trying to force a sack or turnover. There's got to be some kind of weird childhood incident behind his hatred of blitzing. I don't want to speculate any further than that.

Bonus Obscure College Score of the Week: Bowdoin 26, Colby 21. OK, these schools are not obscure,

Snob alert. I am barely aware of Bowdoin's existence and couldn't begin to tell you where it is- and I had no fucking idea Colby was a school or where it is.

but I make an exception because this was the final college football game for my son Grant, Bowdoin's left tackle. Plus you gotta love a contest that pits the Polar Bears against the Mules. Leading 26-21, Bowdoin took possession on its 1-yard line with 9:17 remaining and staged a 14-play clock-killer drive, closing out the game. Twelve of the snaps were rushes, allowing Grant and his fellow offensive linemen a moment in the sun as the season concluded. Grant's best two college games were

Too long; didn't read. It's funny- Gregg and Simmons hate each other and are usually polar opposites in terms of writing content and style, yet they both hold the incorrect assumption that I give one quarter of one percent of a shit about their kids. Just write about the NFL, jackass. No one cares about your family. Or your book.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

GAH. Please Don't Do That

Jaguars QB David Garrard, on his game-winning 50 yard TD pass to Mike Thomas (fast forward to about 7:15 on this video):

I couldn't tell if he caught it... if there was even a play on the ball... and then I saw him running into the end zone. I didn't know what to do. I thought I was gonna just- literally explode right there.

Imagine that literally happened. Literally grosser than that time Joe Theisman's leg literally snapped in two back in the day? I literally believe so.

Adding some much-need clarity to his comment, Garrard continues:

On impact. Right there.

On impact? I'm literally befuddled.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Spot the Straw Man

In memory of Guy Fawkes (remember remember! The 5th of November) let's play a game called "Spot the straw man argument! This week's straw man argument comes from one of the biggest prigs ever to write about baseball, Jon Heyman, responding to the backlash against Jeter winning his 5th Gold Glove and his 4th utterly undeserved Gold Glove

Monday, November 8, 2010


So apparently there's this blog out there called Fire Joe Morgan that stole our idea for how to criticize the sports media. Kudos to them, though, because this just happened. I guess it would be even better if their blog was called Don't Retain Joe Morgan. But still. That's pretty awesome.

Now watch ESPN replace Morgan with some diptard like McCarver.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

This Week in Terrible Headline Puns

Really? Was "Doubting Thomas" not clever enough for CBS Sports? Or am I missing some deviously clever punneration?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Sometimes rhetoric is just lying

In case you didn't know, Derek Jeter is eligible for free agency. He has played for the Yankees his entire sixteen-season career and has been generally overpaid for his level of statistical production. No doubt the Yankees are happy to pay for his intangible benefits to the team.

But things are getting tough for Jeet: he's thirty-six years old and he just posted his lowest ever BA, OBP and OPS numbers. But he's almost at 3,000 hits!

His agent, Casey Close, had this to say:

"Derek's impact on the sport's most valuable franchise cannot be overstated."

Let's give this a try:
1. Derek Jeter has had a more significant career impact on his franchise than Babe Ruth.
2. Derek Jeter had a more significant impact in 2009 on his franchise than Robinson Cano.

Looks like Derek's impact on the sport's most valuable franchise can indeed, in fact, be overstated.

An afterthought: isn't it surprising that the biggest clutch player of our times had the worst season of his career... in the walk year of his ten-year deal? Not very clutch for his bottom line!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

TNTMQR: Oh God Now I'm More Than a Week Behind

So yeah, this is the TMQ from Tuesday 10/26. I'm stubborn as hell and refuse to skip one so I'm still playing catchup.

College hoops tip soon, too. Hope you didn't miss this important article on college basketball, showing cheating coaches prosper while the only coaching flaw that's punished is losing. This syncs with TMQ's contention that the structural problem of major college athletics is that coaches are lavishly rewarded with money if their teams win but not penalized if their players don't graduate.

What a novel, crazy, unique contention this man makes. Can anyone else confirm this nasty rumor? Why would coaches be rewarded for winning but not penalized for failing to get diplomas for their players? Is there a bunch of money in college sports or something?

Suppose this simple rule were added to college football and men's basketball: Unless at least 80 percent of a team's players graduate, the coach is suspended for one year. That would add what's missing -- an incentive for coaches to care about education.

Yeah, I can really see the money-grubbing NCAA and money-grubbing universities going along with that one. Surely they'll vote for something that couldn't be more against their own financial interests. Alternately, let's say the NCAA mysteriously stopped being the big gaggle of assholes they are and actually did create/pass/enforce this rule. Boy, you think schools might just go out of their way to make sure athletes got all the "help" they needed in order to graduate? What a great idea. The problem with college sports is systemic- it's the money- and it's never going away. Deal with it. It's an unsolvable problem.

Stat of the Week No. 1:
Stretching back to last season, 2009 non-playoff teams Atlanta, Pittsburgh and Tennessee are on a combined 24-6 streak.

What do you mean stretching back to last season? Since July 2nd, 2006...

Cheerleader of the Week: Bryan Law of Independence, Ohio, nominates Christina of the Broncos, who, according to her team bio, works for the Department of Justice as a paralegal in the Environment and Natural Resources Division. This means you could file a Freedom of Information Act request for her swimsuit photo.

Jesus Christ. You are the nerdiest nerd who ever nerded up the internet with your nerd comments about attractive women.

Leading 17-14, Minnesota had first-and-20 on its 24 with 35 seconds remaining in the first half, holding two timeouts, and simply let the clock expire. Huh?

A team wanted to take a lead into halftime rather than taking a relative long shot on getting into field goal range (needed 45 yards or so) by letting the guy who's thrown more interceptions than anyone else in NFL history chuck the ball downfield. Into 4 deep coverage. Does that unstump you?

Turner sent out the field goal team for a 45-yard attempt; San Diego jumped offside, making it a 50-yard attempt; Brown missed. A 50-yard field goal attempt is a 50/50 proposition, and going to overtime is itself a 50/50 proposition -- so as the kick boomed, Turner was essentially putting his chips on a 1-in-4 chance of victory, as opposed to going for it on fourth-and-2 with the league's top-ranked offense.

Love this argument. LOVE IT. First, you have the super basic problem with his math. The odds at the time of the 50 yard attempt were probably around 25%, but what are the odds of converting a 4th and 7? That was the alternative at that point, not a 4th and 2. The odds at the time of the 4th and 2 were higher than 25% because the odds of converting a 45 yard field goal are higher than those of a 50 yard field goal. But I'm just getting started.

Even if you accept his logic that they shouldn't have bothered to line up to kick because the odds of winning at that moment were pretty low, then you get the amazing false alternative that surely, going for it on 4th was a much better idea. What are the odds of converting that 4th down? The league average on 4th downs is about 49% (source: Google it if you don't believe me), and you figure most of those were of the 4th and short variety. Some were on 4th and 5 or 6 or more, but many were on 4th and inches or 4th and 1. Let's be generous and say they had a 60% chance of getting the 4th and 2. So then that leaves them... on them... somewhere around the 20 or 25, with a running clock, still down 3. What are their odds of getting a touchdown before the clock expires? How much higher are their FG odds from 40/35/30 yards? Enough to compensate for the fact that (randomly estimated) 40% of the time, you go for the 4th and 2 and miss and the game ends right there? NOT SO FAST MY FRIEND.

But just ask TMQ- going for it on 4th down is always the right decision, always and forever, and if you don't think so you're a simpleton idiot who doesn't understand football and probably likes to go Christmas shopping in November. Creep alert!

For New England, Turner's ultra-conservative decision was sweet. For San Diego, it was sour, sour, sour.


Unified Field Theory of Creep: Justin Martineau of New Orleans reports, "Starting in January, license plates for the bicentennial of the statehood of Louisiana will become the state's standard. The date of ascension is April 30, 1812. These plates are 16 months early."


Robert Drago of Washington, D.C., writes, "Tonight I downloaded the latest Norton security update, and it was advertised as Norton 2011. Is Norton taking a holiday for the rest of 2010?"


Joost Smets of Uffelte, Netherlands, writes, "Recently, I noticed an advertisement in my newspaper for the joint Dutch/Belgian bid for the 2018 and 2022 soccer World Cup. Not only does 2018 sounds like distant future to me, the Netherlands have never organized a World Cup, and already we're looking forward to host the tournament for the second time."

Very lame.

Dwight Peck of Phoenix reports, "On October 15, I received the spring 2011 catalog from Eddie Bauer."

OK, see, now THAT'S actual creep. The rest of you emailers can go take a flying fuck at a rolling donut.

The Steelers kicked for a 23-22 lead and a moment later stopped South Florida's fourth-and-6 pass attempt when tackle Vernon Carey, a first-round draft pick, failed to stay with his man despite the Dolphins having five blockers for three Pittsburgh rushers.

We all know Gregg hates first round picks (except Peyton Manning, because what media member doesn't want to blow Peyton Manning?), but this is an unusually flippant shot at one of them. It was one damn play. If a guy with a big ego and a big contract who was drafted in the first round has a bad game, a bad season, a career that never gets off the ground- sure, have at him. But sheesh. This guy had a bad play. You think Jonathan Ogden or Frank Matthews ever had a bad play? This is like some random flippant racist comment, like "Oh I got cut off on the highway the other day by this guy who was talking on his cell phone, and wouldn't you know it, of course he was a _______ to boot." It's so irrelevant what round a guy who has one bad play was drafted in that I can barely express it.

If Richmond, UC Santa Barbara and Wofford also had reached the Sweet 16, that would have brought in the Gauchos, Spiders and Terriers. TMQ thinks fans of the Wofford Terriers should chant, "Here boy! Here boy!"

Crickets. Who is he writing for? Who is his perceived audience? Four year olds? Family Circus fans?

Until such time as there might be an age-21 minimum for the NBA, Adande contends, teams should ignore the draft, concentrating on preserving cap space to sign players drafted and developed by someone else. Teams seem to be taking Adande's advice, if perhaps unintentionally -- there's a clear trend of NBA clubs simply discarding high choices.

Sure, that's somewhat true. And then we see this hilariously bad string of examples used to try to prove that fairly legitimate point.

Miami used the second choice of the 2008 draft on Michael Beasley and in July traded him to Minnesota for essentially nothing, just to get rid of him.

Because he was an asshole. They tried like hell to get him to play well for two seasons before then.

Washington traded the fifth choice of the 2009 draft for Mike Miller and Randy Foye, then a year later waved goodbye to both, netting nothing.

That one's pretty fair.

Minnesota used the sixth choice of the 2009 draft on Ricky Rubio, who won't play in the NBA until 2011, if he ever does.

They desperately wanted Rubio to come and play for them. Rubio is an asshole who doesn't want to play in Minnesota, so he held out. This might be their fault for not doing their homework on him but it's not them "discarding" a draft choice either.

Memphis used the second choice of the 2009 draft on Hasheem Thabeet, who ended up with the Dakota Wizards of the D-League.

Same story as Beasley.

Why not simply open the window and throw first-round draft choices out?

Because teams often use them to take awesome players, such as dozens and dozens of awesome current NBA players who were taken in first round (Or gasp- sometimes in the lottery!).

Banning teens -- isn't there a "right" to play in the NBA at age 19? There's no right to be a 19-year-old airline pilot. Courts have ruled that professions may impose "bona fide" occupational requirements. Requiring NBA players to be at least 21 years of age would pass the test of bona fide, since that would improve the league's quality of play.

Most oversimplified legal argument ever, and one that would take months or years of litigation to settle if the NBA actually made the restriction. It's amazing that this guy's brother is a famous federal judge.

LeBron James was an exception; as a group, basketball players in their early 20s are much better performers than basketball players in their teens. The WNBA requires players to be either college graduates or 22 years of age, and there have been no legal problems with this.

Probably because there is no money involved with the WNBA whatsoever.

A similar example is Shaun Livingston, who jumped from high school to the NBA as the fourth choice of the 2004 draft. He's bounced around to six teams, including the Tulsa 66ers, and never been close to what he might have become with a few years in college.

Shaun Livingston was quickly developing into a pretty badass player with the Clippers when, in 2007, he suffered more or less the most grotesque sports-related injury you will ever see. Youtube it if you want- it's not for the faint of heart. That season, at the ripe old age of 21, he was averaging 9 points, 5 assists, and 3.5 rebounds in about 30 minutes per game. He was well on his way to being a solid starter, if not a star. The injury (to his knee) was so devastating he essentially missed two full seasons recovering. He's still not back and may never be, but before the injury, he was great ammunition for the advocates of letting high schoolers into the NBA.

Worst. Example. Ever.

Last spring Livingston declined a contract offer from the Wizards, saying he didn't want to share the spotlight with Gilbert Arenas and John Wall -- so in six years of bouncing around, he hasn't learned anything.

Translation: he wanted to get more than 7 minutes of playing time a night, so he told the Wizards he'd look elsewhere to revive his spiraling career. WHAT A SELFISH SALLY!

See you again next week, where I'll comment on today's TMQ. Man, I am pathetic.