Tuesday, December 27, 2011

MVP This, MVP That

One of the toughest arguments to settle in baseball is that of the Most Valuable Player award. Does it go to the absolute best player in the league, or does it go to the best player on a team that makes it to the postseason (i.e., the player created the most value by being the biggest reason Team X made the playoffs as opposed to missing them). It's incredibly subjective, and despite being a major advocate of the former, I've little choice but to accept the latter's point of view as....somewhat valid. After all, they're right in the sense that being awesome and pushing your team to .500 and still nowhere close to the playoffs as opposed to like .450 doesn't do all that much for your team except morale and jersey sales. Stuff like this kind of makes that argument look really stupid though.

Anyway, for this year's NL MVP, the argument is simple. If you wanted to pick the player that generated the most wins, it's Kemp. If you wanted to pick the guy who did the best job of leading his team to the postseason, it's....Roy Halladay, or something? And if you want to pick the guy that did the best job of leading his team to the postseason and come from the planet Tardulon where "pitchers" are not "players", it's Braun. Fine. Argue that last point if you want. But don't do it like Tracy Ringolsby. You see, even though you would think a guy wearing an obnoxious cowboy hat in his profile picture would act like he's way smarter than you and have a my-way-or-the-highway attitude towards his own opinions, well.....heh....stereotype's right on I guess.

Thank goodness Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun was able to claim the National League MVP.

That's the way it is supposed to be.

Says you, my friend. Says you. Why don't you go ahead and tell me why?

Braun was No. 1 on 20 ballots and No. 2 on 12 ballots. Runner-up Matt Kemp of the Los Angeles Dodgers was voted No. 1 on 10 ballots. One ballot had Braun's teammate, Prince Fielder, and one had Justin Upton of the Arizona Diamondbacks in the No. 1 slot.

There is no argument over the worthiness of Braun.

Really. None huh? Matt Kemp was the best individual player in the National League. That seems like it's a decent argument!

There's also no argument about the wonderful season that Kemp put together, but it's hard to buy the claim that he was the NL MVP.


He was the Player of the Year, honored by the Major League Baseball Players Association and by voters for the Hank Aaron Award, which goes to the best position player in each league.

Oh, because he won an award that says he is the best player in Major League Baseball, a set of players that contains the subset of National League players, and an award that says he is the best position player in the National League, a set of players that includes National League Most Valuable Player, Ryan Braun.


He also was honored by the Dodgers, who signed him to an eight-year, $160 million contract extension just a year removed from when members of their front office and previous coaching staff questioned his attitude and wondered whether he could be a part of an eventual contending team.

Could not be less relevant. But at least this sentence didn't contradict your premise.

Braun had a sparkling season. But MVP stands for Most Valuable Player. Put an emphasis on the term "valuable." Why is that so hard for anyone to understand?

I picture Tracy Ringolsby beating his peers senseless with a baseball bat while reading that last sentence.

For all the newfangled forms of statistical analysis that have been developed, there is still one stat that has the ultimate value in baseball, and pretty much any other sport: victories.

And those newfangled statistics say that Kemp was worth more victories than anyone in the National League. That's why they invented things like WAR and WARP and DERRRRP and NERDVAR, to translate player performance into victories.

The Dodgers didn't win. They finished third in the NL West. Players on third-place teams don't even get postseason shares anymore. That's how much value a third-place finish has.


[At this point in writing the article, Mr. Ringolsby stopped writing to smash several expensive items in his living room with a baseball bat]

Anyway, back to reading about what place the 2011 Los Angeles Dodgers finished in. I mean, uh, the NL MVP.

There is the claim that without Kemp, the Dodgers would have finished somewhere in Baja California.

Ah. Addressing the opposition's argument. This is good. Now, Tracy, how would you go about arguing against this claim? How do you assert Ryan Braun's superior value?

This begs the question of how poorly are the Dodgers run that a team with the Cy Young Award winner, Clayton Kershaw, and the Hank Aaron Award winner, Kemp, couldn't even find itself in a pennant race.

Of course. By going off on a weird tangent about how Ned Colletti is a dunderfuck.

The Dodgers were out of the NL West race before Memorial Day. They didn't spend a day in first place after April 4. They were 14 games below .500 by July 6, and never were more than three games above .500.

The Dodgers were a "meh" team that finished in third place.

The Dodgers had to paddle upstream just to inch above .500, finishing 82-79.

The Dodgers were a "meh" team that finished in third place.

The Dodgers were never closer to first place than 10 games after Aug. 6.

The Dodgers were a "meh" team that finished in third place.

They finished 11-1/2 games out.

The Dodgers were a "meh" team that finished in third place.

They had a winning record against only three teams with winning records: Atlanta (5-2), St. Louis (4-3) and Detroit (2-1).

The Dodgers were a "meh" team that finished in third place.

Have you ever heard of being succinct?

Anyone out there think that whether the Dodgers had a winning record against the Phillies or Giants has anything to do with whether Ryan Braun or Matt Kemp should win the fucking MVP???


(This "stat" of his is even stupider than it sounds. The Dodgers only had 6 NL opponents with records above .500. They were even with the Giants and had the upper hand against Atlanta and St. Louis. In the AL, they only played 2 teams with a winning record and won the season series against one of them. What exactly does this prove, even external to the MVP argument?)

Braun and the Brewers, meanwhile, won the NL Central. They faced the pressure of being a preseason favorite, and Braun and his teammates handled it well.

You know what, Tracy, you can have this point if you want. One can certainly argue that there's more value in performing well in a high-pressure pennant race than performing well on a middle-of-the-pack team. Like I said, I don't agree it should be a criteria for winning the award, but it's a legit argument that's tough to absolutely disprove given the subjectivity. Fine. That's pretty much all you need to say about the Brewers....

They knocked off the NL West-champion Arizona Diamondbacks in the Division Series before being upset by eventual world champion St. Louis in the Championship Series.

....but what would this column be without a bunch of superfluous sentences?

As Braun was quick to point out, it was an award that was about more than him. It was his teammates, his manager and coaches, and even the Brewers ownership who played a role in his claiming the MVP award for the Brewers for the fourth time, joining Rollie Fingers in 1981, and Robin Yount in 1982 and 1989.

"A reason I won is they put a better team around me," he said.

Ryan Braun's response to the media's questions about him winning the award, in no way, argue that he, not Matt Kemp, is the MVP. If anything, putting this comment here only adds fuel to the fire that people besides Braun were responsible for him winning the award.

Kemp put up strong numbers, hitting .324 with 39 home runs and 126 RBI, but Braun's numbers compared quite nicely. Braun did, after all, lead the NL with a .597 slugging percentage, .994 OPS, and 77 extra-base hits. He was second with a .332 batting average, drove in 111 runs, hit 33 home runs and stole 33 bases.

The two were pretty similar at the plate (with probably a slight edge to Braun). Ryan Braun plays left field. Matt Kemp plays center field. That is a very important difference that tips the scales in the favor of Kemp. So don't go the stat route. You won't win that one.

And he was nervous while he wait at home in Malibu, Calif., for the announcement Tuesday .

"I woke up early and went for a drive," Braun said. "From about 9:30 a.m., on I sat outside my home with my cell phone and home phone, hoping I would get a call from a number I didn't recognize."

He got the call.

Uh huh, great.

Kemp didn't, although he did receive 10 first-place votes, 16 second-place votes and six third-place votes to finish second ahead of Fielder, and Upton. Braun, Kemp, Fielder and Upton were the only players who were included on the ballots of all 32 voters from the Baseball Writers Association of America.

Fittingly, Braun won.

"Fittingly, Braun won?" Really? Well, here's what I took away from this article. Go ahead and stop me if I oversimplified.

1) Kemp is the best player in the National League
2) The Dodgers were kind of mediocre and finished in third
3) The Brewers won their division
4) Braun is excited to be the MVP
5) Braun attributes much of the award to his teammates and other members of the Brewers organization
6) Statistically, the two players were pretty similar, however "newfangled" statistics also exist.

And THAT is why it's so fitting Braun won.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Something something something Jon Gruden THIS GUY

First of all, in regards to my last post, what are two of the eleven front page main sidebar stories on ESPN right now? "Ryan confident in Sanchez, Schottenheimer" (which sounds kind of like "Hitler confident in Final Victory" in a German paper published in March of 1945) and "Giants' Tuck: I still hate the Cowboys." Let's run down my checklist again: 1) nope, no substance whatsoever 2) obviously the Tuck article is nothing but manufactured drama 3) yep 4) yep and yep 5) admittedly, whether or not Sanchez is the Jets' QB again in 2012 requires a little speculation; as for the Tuck article it can go straight to hell and 6) yyyyyyyyyup. Thanks for staying consistent ESPN--please never change. I don't know what I'd do without you.

The real reason I'm writing this and not a legitimate post is because I was busy watching Saints/Falcons all night. Besides the whole Brees record thing, the game had major implications for the fantasy league I run. Wouldn't it be fucking fascinating if I told you in gruesome detail what those implications were and who stood to win or lose money? Of course not; fortunately for you, I have self-awareness than 80% of fantasy football players lack. Anyways, eventually Brees and the Saints did their thing and the record fell. Which led to a funny/sad sequence of analysis from Gruden and the special needs children with whom he shares the booth.

First they heaped praise on Brees. They'd been doing it all game though, so they needed to move in a different direction after the first 45 seconds. They noted that Marino's record was great and stood for a long time. Then they noted that Marino told them before the game that he was happy for Brees (aw shit, you think? of fucking course he said that). Then Tirico noted that while the game has changed and become more pass-friend since Marino set the record, Brees' yards/game is higher above the league average this year than Marino's was in 1984. At that point it was almost like they were talking more about Marino than Brees. Then they cut to commercial. When they got back, Gruden spent a good two minutes talking about how great Marino was at everything and how "No one can throw like he threw." It really progressed pretty quickly from "Let's celebrate this!" to "Whoa, not too much! Let's make sure we didn't hurt the feelings of the multimillionaire and HOFer who set this record when Brees was in kindergarten but also Brees is good too!"

I say this sequence was funny because I legitimately enjoy Gruden. His overwhelming positivity can get old but it's a harmless flaw, not something that ruins a game he calls. It's more of a "oh great, here he goes again" thing than a "I'm about to put golf club through the TV" thing. Along with Collinsworth and a handful of guys (and one lady who does college games for ESPN) whose names I don't know but whose voices I can recognize, I feel he's one of the few color commentators who adds to the game rather than taking away from it. He explains things without sounding like a moron or a blowhard. He's also self-deprecating despite being a Super Bowl winning coach and I appreciate that. So listening to him carefully cover everyone in the booth's tracks and make sure America knows how great Dan Marino is, when everyone knows Marino is great and also that he retired more than a decade ago, was funny.

At the same time, it was sad. What the fuck, you know? Why? Marino doesn't work for ESPN. He didn't recently die. He's not some amazing super charitable person who deserves flawless respect and adulation every time his name comes up. He's a guy that held a sort of significant record for 27 years. It was broken fair and square by a guy most fans like. While my point is certainly not that Gruden and Co. didn't give Brees his due--they absolutely gave him his due throughout the entire game--their tiptoeing around the good name of Marino was obnoxious.

I mean I understand that Gruden is connected to Marino in two ways- they're both in broadcast media based around the NFL (or as I call it, the snake oil business), and they're both former participants in the sport. So obviously one of them is going to watch out for the other pretty intensely. I just don't think this was the time or place to do it. Saying "Marino was great, and played under a different set of rules, but the record now belongs to Brees and it's his night" would have been enough. I really didn't need to be reminded that Marino had a quick release or hear about how all the young QBs Gruden has interviewed for MNF are in awe of Marino's abilities. Those would be good subjects for, you know, a pregame segment about how good Marino was. Why insert that into the moment, you know? Fucking media types.

Of course, at least the moment the record was broken Tirico and Gruden and Jaws got excited. The only thing worse than a misguided ode to the former record holder is something like Joe Buck's call of the final out of the 2008 World Series. With all the energy of someone working behind the desk at the DMV: "And the Phillies... are World Series champions." (Couldn't find it on Youtube, I hope Bud Selig gets hit with a meteor someday soon.) At least THAT didn't happen.

Real post coming... soon? Who knows. Man I'm lazy.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Is this the least worthwhile article in the history of sportswriting? Scientists say: maybe

Allow me to indulge my Simmons jealousy by making a definitive and undoubtedly comprehensive list of all the things that make ESPN's brand of writing/reporting patently fucking worthless:

1) style, style, style, style.... substance? nope, no substance, but plenty of style
2) manufacturing "drama" from irrelevant sound bites
3) pandering to mouth-breathing football fans
4) beating tired or trite stories to death
5) speculating about things that require absolutely no speculation or even thought
6) spending 90% of their time talking about things that are going to happen and 10% on things that already happened, when it should be the other way around (which is sort of a subset of item #2)

Well, now we have this. I'm not sure I've ever seen all six items simultaneously on display in such spectacular fashion. (Note that I'm not bitching about the New York-ness of it since it's from ESPNNewYork.com.) As Greggggggg would note, Rex Ryan is a fat loudmouth so if the Jets lose on Saturday that's why. Unless they win, in which case Tom Coughlin's red-faced screaming and shouting is to blame. Unless Ryan was wearing more cold-weather clothing than Coughlin, in which case all bets are off.

What I'm trying to say is that ESPN can eat a bag of moldy taints.

Sunday, December 18, 2011


ESPN employs a few legal analysts whose job is ostensibly to explain complicated judge-y court-y crime-y stuff to viewers/readers. It's a practice that makes sense in theory, but is utterly worthless in reality if they're going to let lawyer/writers like Lester Munson run wild with editorial commentary that's full of total horseshit. That's what happened here. I have no idea who Munson's dog in this fight is; could be federal investigator Jeff Novitsky, could be someone on the prosecution team, or maybe he just hates the judge who oversaw the trial and sentencing. In any case, I don't have much time to break it down but if you want to read the whole thing, just know that it reads like something a government PR rep might write in the aftermath of an expensive and relatively fruitless investigation/prosecution.

Q: Isn't a sentence of 30 days of home confinement a sign that the agents and the prosecutors failed in their pursuit of Bonds?

A: No. His sentence is not the result of any failures by federal agents and prosecutors.


There is no doubt that Bonds used steroids, and there is no doubt that he lied to the grand jury about his use. The problem that led to the conviction on only one count and a deadlocked jury on three counts of perjury was not the quality of the work of the agents and prosecutors.

Some of the work they did was quality. Much of it was shitty. If you're looking for some light reading that might make you think that the investigation was perhaps I suppose not handled quite as professionally as it could have been I guess, try this.

The problem was the refusal of Bonds' personal trainer, Greg Anderson, to testify against him.

If you can't close a case against someone without a key adverse witness's testimony, and you fail to get that testimony, you have fucked the dog. You did not conduct a quality prosecution. This is like saying "We didn't lose to the other team, they just scored more points than us."

For reasons that are not yet known, Anderson went to jail twice instead of offering evidence against Bonds.

Here's a theory for you, Columbo: maybe Anderson's refusal to testify has something to do with money changing hands between him and Bonds (and the fact that the two of them are buddies, sure). Anderson didn't feel comfortable perjuring himself in front of the grand jury so he figured he'd just do his time for contempt of court instead. I'm sure he sleeps soundly at night, and I'm sure Bonds made sure he was taken care of financially during, between, and after his two stints in prison.

Anderson's refusal to testify prevented the prosecutors from connecting Bonds to positive drug tests and other compelling evidence of Bonds' use of steroids. If Anderson had testified, Bonds would have been convicted quickly on all four charges.

But don't follow Occam's Razor on this one, people Munson desperately wants to fool: this is absolutely not the fault of the investigators and prosecutors involved.

In the face of Anderson's conduct, the prosecutors -- who occasionally stumbled --


rallied brilliantly


at the conclusion of the Bonds trial and obtained the conviction for obstruction of justice

Which is just as good as a conviction for perjury, as long as you don't care about establishing that Bonds actually lied under oath.

and were one vote shy of a conviction for perjury.

Put that one on your resume, prosecutors involved.

This outcome, even with the light sentence, is a triumph for investigative agent Jeff Novitzky and prosecutors Jeff Nedrow and Matt Parrella.

Jesus Christ. This sounds like a North Korean newspaper reporting on its soccer team's performance in the 2010 World Cup.

The government will not be asking a higher court to change this outcome.

No fucking shit, you fucking spin artist. They already have the option to retry Bonds on the perjury charges the jury deadlocked on. Bonds hasn't been let off the hook for those yet, so there's no need for the government to appeal. Not that they'd be able to buttfuck their way to a conviction the second time around anyways (should they get the chance). If the outcome of the trial was "guilty on obstruction of justice, but not guilty on perjury," you can bet your sweet bippy they'd be appealing along with Bonds.

It is Bonds who will be filing the appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

The fact that he's appealing a relatively insignificant charge to avoid spending 30 days under house arrest because he has the money to do it is, again, not something over which the feds should be high-fiving each other. Read the rest if you want. It's fucking bizarre. And sad.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

WMTMQR: Still banging my head against this wall

And the Denver Broncos looked really, really finished when they took possession with 4:34 remaining in regulation, trailing by 10. Denver hadn't scored in the game. Tim Tebow had misfired on 11 consecutive forward-pass attempts. Despite having the league's No. 1 rushing offense, Denver coaches ordered punts on fourth-and-1, fourth-and-1 and fourth-and-2.

And the football gods allowed them to win? Awful inconsistent of them if you ask me. It's almost as if they don't fucking exist, and that punting on 4th and 1 against one of the league's best run defenses isn't actually a moral transgression on par with mid-level war crimes.

Denver has become the NFL's top rushing team, and the running game often starts slowly. In the first half the defense is fresh, and may stop the run. By the fourth quarter, the front seven is tired and becomes vulnerable. So it's not just craziness in these Denver comebacks, though craziness surely is a big factor in the entertainment value. It's tactics. Denver is using tactics that are likely to result in an explosion of yardage late in the game.

Which tactics? You mean "running a lot?" There are several teams doing that. (Even in this PASS WACKY version of the NFL!) And I'm pretty sure the idea that defenses get tired is 1) not anything new, 2) not a tactic that is only likely to work if the offense is focused on the run, 3) not really "likely" to result in an explosion of yardage late in the game; a better choice of words would be "slightly more likely than an offense based solely on heaving the ball deep on every play."

Opponents need to realize this, and "roll" their defenses -- bringing personnel out to rest -- from the first quarter on.

Thanks for the advice, Lombardi. Every team already does this every single game, especially visiting teams in Denver. I don't think it's much of a secret that it's harder to breathe at higher altitudes.

Denver's use of the high-school-style zone-read option also forces defenses to defend all 11 Broncos players on rushing downs. Usually in the NFL, on a rush down the defense defends only 10 players.

And unless they're playing the Panthers, they cease defending the quarterback the moment he hands off the ball. There's this popular tactic you might have heard of called play action passing that is partially dependent on that phenomenon.

Against the Broncos, all 11 offensive players must be defended.

/watches video of Drew Brees handing off and the defense's reaction, then watches video of Tebow running the zone read

Yep. Completely different. The zone read works well for Tebow because he's big and fast and good at it, not because defenses are "forced" to defend him while by contrast they can ignore other QBs after the handoff. Your expert analysis of this situation is a bunch of fucking white noise.

By the fourth quarter, defenders are more winded than they would be against a standard offense.

No. Except for the altitude factor.

And in other NFL news, by the third quarter at Green Bay, the Packers led Oakland 43-7. That means if the game had been played under National Federation of High Schools rules, the timekeeper would have switched to "running clock" in which the clock almost never stops, shortening the contest. The running clock, used when the margin is 35 points or more, is the most common mercy rule found in high school football. The Packers reached it in the third quarter!

I'm not sure that last sentence needed an exclamation point. Plenty of teams have done that to the Raiders since Rich Gannon and Tim Brown retired.

Sour Redskins Plays of the Week: "He held the ball too long." That's what every TV commentator said of quarterback Rex Grossman, who was sacked in the end zone for a safety by former teammate Andre Carter in the New England at Washington collision. Time the play -- Grossman was starting his throwing motion at three seconds. The problem was not that he held the ball too long.

Considering a sack in that situation meant a safety, it kinda was. The QB has to treat that situation differently than if the line of scrimmage is the 20.

The problem was that undrafted free agent emergency left tackle Willie Smith, filling in for the megabucks Trent Williams (suspended for failing drug tests), did an "olé" block, all but stepping out of Carter's way.

NOOOOOOOO! WILLIE! HOW COULD YOU???? Why were you not inspired by every Jeff Saturday who has gone before you? More importantly, what did you do to Gregg to get him to call you out as a shitty player considering your incredibly Gregg-friendly credentials? Also, typical of Gregg to not realize that the real problem was that the Redskins called a play that gave Grossman a chance to hold the ball in the end zone and stare down Santana Moss as he ran a triple move thirty yards down the field.

Later, score tied in the third quarter, New England faced third-and-12 on the Washington 37.

You don't need a sack here -- the Patriots are already out of field-goal range.

Stephen Gostowski's career long is 53 yards. So no, not really.

Nevertheless, Washington big-blitzed.

A tactic that has never worked in football history, except for the three or four times it worked for Dallas against Eli Manning on Sunday night and the four or five times it worked for the Seahawks against Sam Bradford last night (yeah I watched some of that game, what's it to you?).

Gronkowski ended up covered by linebacker Ryan Kerrigan, catching another easy-looking touchdown catch to set the single-season record for touchdowns by a tight end. Just to prove this was no fluke, on the play, Washington corners Josh Wilson and DeAngelo Hall just stood there watching Gronkowski run the final 10 yards to pay dirt.

Neither were nearly close enough to Gronkowski when he caught the ball to try to stop him from scoring. Both would have been flattened like traffic cones in the way of a garbage truck if they were close enough and did actually try. But it's more fun to write from the perspective of GRRR WHERE'S THE HUSTLE THESE GLORY BOYS ARE SO GLORY BOYISH

Sweet 'N' Sour Playoff-Clinching Plays of the Week: The Houston Texans had never made the playoffs. Trailing Cincinnati 19-13 with 18 seconds on the clock, out of timeouts, third-string quarterback T.J. Yates at the controls, Houston faced third-and-10 on the Bengals 23. Incompletion. But Cincinnati corner Adam Jones, who grabbed a receiver during his route, did a theatrical hands-in-the-air gesture, meaning "I didn't commit a penalty." Then the flag flew -- Jones talked the officials into penalizing him! As TMQ points out, football players should never make the hands-in-the-air "I didn't do it" gesture. This only notifies the zebras you did, in fact, do it. Always act nonchalant! Very sour.

Watch football for, like, 45 fucking minutes. You'll see a DB make the "I didn't do it" gesture and not get flagged.

Gregg's editor: "You know Mr. Easterbrook, it's not really good to try to prove all your points and hypotheses with scatted anecdotes."

Gregg: "Huh?" /eats paint chips, makes anti-Semitic remarks

Last year when TMQ mocked the highfalutin flavor claims of wine tasters -- notes of "buttered toast" was my favorite -- oenophiles protested that tasting terms don't mean a drink actually tastes like toast or fruitcake, they signify the presence of flavors that aficionados recognize. Maybe. I still doubt most wine snobs could tell a merlot from a cabernet in a blind tasting, let alone identify "aftertaste of pomegranate."

Whoa, twat-on-twat crime. Brutal. Usually they all stick together. They must have kicked Gregg out of their bridge club or something.

Everyone knows the San Diego Chargers turn it on as the holidays approach, and they are 34-17 in December in the past decade. But the team that owns Christmas month is the New England Patriots, who are 42-7 in December in the same span.

Interesting- two of the best regular season teams of the last ten years have also been good at the end of the regular season. Sounds crazy but I'll hear you out. It's a free country.

Possibly this is because while other NFL teams move to their practice bubbles when the weather turns nasty, the Flying Elvii continue to practice outside.

Or because the Patriots have had a Hall of Fame quarterback, a great coach, and plenty of other great players for the past decade.

The worst Decembers of the past decade are Detroit (13-37) and Oakland (16-35). Detroit is always indoors at home, Oakland's home offers ideal weather. Both teams fold when it's cold outside.

Both teams have folded at every possible opportunity during every month of the season for the past decade. But I like your theory too, it's a lot more clever and wrong.

Lend Me a Tight End! Four NFL teams -- Green Bay, Houston, New England and New Orleans -- routinely use multiple tight end sets. Their combined record is 43-9. Why does the rest of the league not notice? P.S.: It's working for Stanford, too.

Yeah, other teams! Just sign Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, or Owen Daniels and Joel Dreessen! It's not that hard- how are you too stupid to figure it out?

Arizona leading San Francisco 21-19 with 2:14 remaining in the fourth quarter, the Squared Sevens,


one of the league's best rushing teams, faced third-and-1 near midfield. San Francisco went incompletion, incompletion, game over. On the day, the Forty Niners averaged 4.3 yards per rush and 3.4 yards per pass attempt. Why, with the game on the line and just one yard to gain, not rush?

Yeah! It's not like that yards per rush figure came from plenty of runs on 1st and 10, or 2nd and 3, or dozens of other down/distance combinations that don't involve a defense that's got 8 guys in the box! It's science: if you gain 4.3 yards per rush, every rush will result in 4.3 yards. Come to think of it, the 49ers should have simply run on every play- they'd have scored a touchdown on every possession. It's so simple.

Friday, December 9, 2011

I love Charles Barkley, I just wish blogs would stop posting about him

As the Bears try to stop Tim Tebow from his sixth straight victory on Sunday amid a fever pitch of attention on the polarizing Denver Broncos quarterback, Charles Barkley made a plea to Chicago: Stop the madness.

"I want to make a personal plea to Lance Briggs, Brian Urlacher, Mr. [Julius] Peppers, please stop the madness," Barkley said Friday on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000.

OK, so you were on ESPN radio talking about Tebow.

"I'm just so tired ...

And you're tired of hearing about Tebow?

I like Tim Tebow. He seems like a good kid, and I wish him success, but I am Tebowed out."

That's fair enough, but aren't you just-

"It's clearly a media-driven story," Barkley said. "They just want you to argue about Tim Tebow. Dude, let the kid play."


"It's clearly a media-driven story," Barkley said. "They just want you to argue about Tim Tebow. Dude, let the kid play."

And one more time.

"It's clearly a media-driven story," Barkley said. "They just want you to argue about Tim Tebow. Dude, let the kid play."

Words fail me.

"If he can play, good. If he can't play it will show. But to have this argument every single day after five or six games is just ridiculous.

"Tim Tebow is a good player. I wish him luck, but if I don't ever hear the words Brett Favre or Tim Tebow again it won't be enough."

ENOUGH ALREADY! Stop it with the Tebow, media members using media to distribute their opinions about Tebow all the time! If you media types would just shut up about the guy Chuck would really appreciate it. To be fair, he obviously said all this in response to someone asking him his Tebow-related thoughts so it would be kind of hard to avoid the issue. On the other hand, my man Drew Rosenhaus knows a little something about how to convey that you don't want to answer something. All you have to do is command the questioner to ask the next question.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

ThMTMQR: Just when I was ready to leave him alone

Holy squashed bear balls, this is one of Gregg's worst (or best?) performances ever. He outdoes himself several times on several familiar topics. Man. Whew. (Larry B slowly runs hand over top of head while puffing cheeks out) This reads like a "best of" clip column. I almost don't know where to begin.

What are the Packers' secrets? First, the personnel:

Note his use of the word "secrets."

• Great players:


All championship teams must have a few. Rodgers and Charles Woodson will be Hall of Famers. If they continue to perform at their current levels, Clay Matthews and B.J. Raji could be, too. Donald Driver and Chad Clifton have had great careers, and Greg Jennings is getting into that territory.

• Undrafted players:

The only surprise is that he didn't list this ahead of "Great players."

The Packers have 16 on their roster --

I'm not going to look it up, but I'm going to guess that's just about par for the course for most teams.

Jarrett Bush, Tom Crabtree, Evan Dietrich-Smith, Ray Dominguez, Rob Francois, Brett Goode, Ryan Grant, John Kuhn, Jamari Lattimore, Tim Masthay, Brandon Saine, Sam Shields, Shaky Smithson, Vic So'oto, Tramon Williams and Frank Zombo. Football is a team sport,

And most of those guys contribute to the team by making four special teams tackles a year while high-drafted megabucks glory boys Rodgers, Jennings, Raji, and Woodson (all first rounders besides Jennings) make all the plays.

and for team sports, little-known role players are as important as great players.

In the sense that you need some on your roster to make special teams tackles so your star players don't get hurt covering punts, yes.

Unlike highly drafted crybabies who think the rules don't apply to them -- Exhibit A, the Detroit Lions --

How predictable. How fucking predictable, you know? Didn't hear a lot about the Lions and their highly-drafted crybabies when they were tearing shit up earlier this season. Now that they've hit a rough patch he's right there to tell us all about it. Gregg Easterbrook : the Lions :: Jay Mariotti : every team in Chicago and everywhere else.

undrafted players listen to the coaches and give you what they've got.

Shoot me in the fucking eyeballs.

• Home-grown:

Largely irrelevant. Good players are good players are good players. Building through the draft is sometimes cheaper than using free agency, and always a source of pride for the fans (especially mouth-breathing bulldozers like Packer fans) but no more a secret to fielding a championship team than "having a historic stadium" is.

Many Green Bay players were late choices, selected by a point in the draft where many teams were just winging it.

No need to justify your point with examples! That takes lots of work.

• Green Bay won the Brett Favre mess: Had the Packers not shown Favre the door, Rodgers would have departed. Offloading the franchise's most accomplished player was wrenching.

Sure. Still not a secret. "Hey, they traded away a legend because he was getting old and there was a capable replacement waiting in the wings. Maybe if the Rams could figure that out for themselves they wouldn't be so terrible!"

Leaders make decisions for the future rather than the present -- if only those in Washington, D.C., thought this way --

Look at those clowns in Washington, clowning everything up with their clowniness LOL

and Green Bay made a smart decision for the future regarding Favre.

• The only NFL roster with five tight ends, as TMQ has noted before: Green Bay has five tight ends, and has won 18 straight games. Why don't other NFL teams notice this rudimentary fact?

Because simply signing more tight ends won't make your team better unless those tight ends are actually good? The Lakers won titles in 2009 and 2010 while starting two 7 footers- WHY CAN'T OTHER TEAMS NOTICE HOW SIMPLE IT IS?!??! Just sign two tall guys, sit back, and collect your ringzzzz

Multiple tight ends allow for multiple offensive sets that confuse defensive game plans. All contemporary defensive coordinators have some experience dealing with multiple wide receiver sets. Most don't have experience dealing with multiple tight end sets.

If by "multiple" you mean two, you're patently wrong. If you mean three or more, you're still wrong.

• Aaron Rodgers:

Already listed, and the opposite of a secret.

Plus Rodgers is handsome. Just as the football gods are propitiated by cheerleaders with sex appeal, the gods also smile on handsome quarterbacks. Rodgers, Tom Brady, Cam Newton, Drew Brees -- it may not be fair, but this seems to be the way it is.

Explain John Elway then.

There are two other big factors:

• Mystique: The Packers have won four Super Bowls, 13 conference and/or league titles. Green Bay has the oldest consistent winner in football. The place is Titletown. Vince Lombardi is looking down. The Packers exist in a college-town atmosphere -- they are even the sole NFL franchise with college cheerleaders, not professional cheerleaders, on the sidelines. The aura around the Packers is unmatched by any other NFL organization.

The Saints just won a Super Bowl. The Cardinals were two minutes from winning one. Who gives a shit?

• Bicycles: Packers players ride bicycles to the opening of camp, an annual summer ritual attended by thousands of children. Cheesy? Well, it is Wisconsin. Corny? Gets the season off on a fun note.

My God.

In his seven weeks of starting, Tebow has committed just three turnovers. Eagles quarterbacks Michael Vick and Vince Young have 13 turnovers in the same period; Ryan Fitzpatrick has 12 turnovers in same period.

That's undrafted all effort no glamour Harvard alum (chip chip cheerio I have a cleft asshole!) Ryan Fitzpatrick to you, buster.

Sour Play of the Week: Godfrey Daniel, what happened at the end of regulation in Arizona? Game tied, Dallas completed a pass to the Cardinals' 31 with 26 seconds remaining, holding two timeouts. Then Garrett appeared to ice his own kicker by calling timeout just before his team's kick was launched -- good, but wiped out by the coach's timeout. Dallas kicked again and this time missed; Arizona prevailed in overtime. Godfrey Daniel!

Any clue as to who or what Godfrey Daniel is? Me neither. So I Googled. Topical.

Several times during the contest, Newton ran the zone-read option play. Considering Newton and Tebow, this action is advancing from gimmick to standard NFL strategy.

Two out of thirty two teams (the only two with big QBs who ran as much as they passed in college) are using it? Sounds commonplace to me!

So when big-college sports programs hire coaches, appeal to the TV audience may mean a lot more than technicalities such as having players in class and getting their degrees. Ohio State just hired Urban Meyer, who has proven TV marketing appeal. According to the News-Suns of Springfield, Ohio, Meyer's contract includes maximum annual bonuses of $550,000 for victories and $150,000 for players' academic achievements. This suggests that football is 3.7 times more important than education at Ohio State.

Are you kidding me? Only 3.7 times? If I were dean of students at tOSU and the university officially announced that figure I'd pop some champagne. I wouldn't be surprised if they shut down their entire academic arm (except student athlete support services) within the next ten years and just focused on sports. How much money does the chemistry department bring to the university? Thought so.

Stop Me Before I Blitz Again! St. Louis blitzed seven; San Francisco threw a 56-yard touchdown pass to Kyle Williams for the icing score. Arizona blitzed seven; Dallas threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Dez Bryant.

There's your weekly anecdotal evidence that blitzing never works and should be discarded.

Sure, the blitz sometimes produces a big play for the defense -- New Orleans got a sack against Detroit by rushing seven.

Whoa! From out of nowhere! What's with this new fair and balanced approach?

But on the big blitz, a big play for the offense is as likely.

It's a 50/50 proposition, folks. Close the book on that one. No further research need be done. Well, maybe one anecdote just to really get the point home.

The 36-yard late third-quarter catch by Tony Scheffler that put Detroit back into its game at New Orleans came against a mega-blitz.

Yyyyyyyup. 50/50.

Washington has not only put the younger generation on the hook for at least $14 trillion in debt -- now young Americans may end up on the hook for money squandered in Europe. TMQ asks again: Why aren't voters under age 30 outraged about this?

They're too busy being enraged about minor changes to Facebook?

/shakes fist at damn neighborhood kids playing on his lawn

Manly-Man Play of the Day: Tennessee led Buffalo 17-10 midway through third quarter, Flaming Thumbtacks facing fourth-and-1 on the Bills' 18. Tennessee went for it and converted. The result of the drive was still a field goal, but Titans coach Mike Munchak sent his players a message that he was challenging them to win, as they did.

And there's your weekly anecdote that going for it on 4th down is a great idea no matter what every time. Even when you do it from your own 29 in overtime and fail. If the Falcons make the playoffs, you can bet your house, dog, and savings that Gregg will attribute it to that loss against the Saints. If they don't make the playoffs, you can bet those same items that Gregg will fail to mention it but will also continue to point out that cheer-babes are mega hott (especially when they don't wear much clothing!).

Arkansas finished sixth in the BCS, ahead of Boise State, is a megabucks insider school, yet didn't reach the BCS either. In the Razorbacks' case, because LSU and Alabama made the title tilt, by BCS rules no other SEC school could enter. But that shows the BCS isn't entirely rigged -- Arkansas, an insider, is out.

I cannot think of a stupider conclusion to draw from those facts. Not one. You could use them to conclude that it was actually space aliens who assassinated JFK and you'd still be closer to right than Gregg.

Skins-Jets note: Pass rush specialist Aaron Maybin, who had zero sacks in two seasons at Buffalo, has six sacks in his first nine games with Jersey/B, leading Rex Ryan's pressure-obsessed defense in the category. Maybin hit Rex Grossman to force the fumble that turned the game in the Jets' favor.

Buffalo used the 11th overall selection of the 2009 draft on Maybin, then rarely let him on the field, criticized him relentlessly in public, then waived him early this season. Nonsensical? Not if Buffalo's new front office, which took over shortly after the Maybin choice, is more concerned with protecting its high-paid jobs than with winning.

1) And there's your weekly reminder that Gregg actually thinks coaches do things besides try to win.

2) I love when he has to grapple with the resume of a player like Maybin, who was a mega-bucks first round pick but was also waived.

The Bills are 5-7 and last in the NFL in sacks. If everything about their season was the same except they'd simply kept Maybin, the Bills might be in the playoff hunt.


But to the coach and general manager, lining up excuses for losing was the first priority.

Also no.

Undrafted Quarterback Plays of the Day: Undrafted Miami quarterback Matt Moore threw a touchdown pass

Undrafted because he transferred, got hurt a lot, and only had one quality college season.

to undrafted Miami receiver Davon Bess

Undrafted because he's tiny and not that fast. Although I admit that that shouldn't have been the case.

versus Oakland. Undrafted Tyler Palko threw a touchdown pass against Chicago.

And what an artful touchdown pass it was! I'm sure he planned to throw it off Brian Urlacher's hands and into the waiting stomach of Dexter McCluster. Just a few paragraphs later, in his "Hell's sports bar" bit:

They endlessly re-saw Kansas City getting its sole touchdown on a fluke Hail Mary on the final snap before the first half.


In the Carolina-City of Tampa game, undrafted quarterback Rudy Carpenter, called up from the practice squad just hours before the contest,

And now we're congratulating undrafted QBs for successfully handling snaps.

handed off to undrafted tailback LeGarrette Blount.

Who went undrafted because everyone thought he was too small and untalented to make it in the NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE. Or perhaps everyone realized that he was incredibly talented but was also a loose cannon asshole who punched an opponent in the face on the field after a loss. (Not that that Boise State guy didn't deserve it. I'm sure he did.) One or the other.

Class of 1983, Meet Class of 2012: Sports touts, and Indianapolis Colts faithful, are focused on the destiny of Andrew Luck in the 2012 draft. Landry Jones will be available too.

Landry Jones is fucking terrible. I'm pretty sure Oklahoma State's good-not-great defense made that clear on Saturday.

Matt Barkley may come out of college, and this season he's looked like he was expected to look when he was the most sought-after prep player in the country. Don't forget Case Keenum,

Probably not NFL material

Russell Wilson

Probably not NFL material

and Robert Griffin,

OK, he rules

all of whom have spectacular touchdown-to-interception ratios.

That's six quarterbacks with a legit shot of going in Round 1, plus a realistic shot of at least one Hall of Famer among them.

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA. That's great. There are 23 QBs in the HOF from the modern era, only 11 of whom entered the league during the Super Bowl era and only 9 of whom took a snap after 1980. Luck seems pretty awesome. Those other guys could be anywhere from pretty great to Alex Smith to Matt Leinart. Happy hunting, teams with a QB vacancy next spring. Gregg realistically likes your chances.

Monday, December 5, 2011

UH OH! This literally worries me

If you're in the greater Jacksonville area tonight (and good gravy I hope you aren't because that's a shitty place to be), watch out for a flying Ron Jaworski. During the fourth quarter of tonight's broadcast he announced that he was

literally blown away (!!!)

by the play of rookie QBs this year. Then they went through a sequence of graphics that showed the stats accumulated by Andy Dalton, Christian Ponder, and Blaine Gabbert, and Ron was forced to admit that OK fine it's really just Dalton. Dalton's been good--good enough to cause a fat old man to go airborne? Apparently.

Also, left the TV on ESPN after the game and subjected myself to about eight minutes of Sportscenter before Stu Scott's vocal mannerisms caused me to turn it off. In those eight minutes I learned that Robert Smith's Heisman ballot (he actually has a vote, this isn't just a bit for the show) goes as follows:

1) Trent Richardson
2) Montee Ball
3) R. Griffin III

I guess that's what Andrew Luck gets for playing on the west coast and for not having any flashy wideouts (at least after Chris Owusu went down) who can catch 80 yard bombs and make him look super duper badass. Cue up Brent Musberger lamenting Luck's failure to "give us a Heisman moment!!!!!" But yeah, if he's not top three on your ballot... you and Robert Smith can go soak your heads together.

Shit like this just makes me happy that spring training is 11ish weeks away

I wanted to post something extensive about the BCS title game mess but sadly I couldn't really find anything worth wholeheartedly attacking. My stance: it's annoying that the game is a rematch, I would rather have seen Oklahoma State, but it's not the greatest injustice in the history of sports. (What is that greatest injustice, you ask? Easy. Jimmy Rollins over Matt Holliday for 2007 NL MVP.)

Anyways, the two closest calls came over at CBSSports, where Dennis Dodd wrote a piece titled "Blame voters -- not SEC -- for having LSU, 'Bama in title game." A bold stance to be certain. What? Voters (and really, you can call the people who organize the computer rankings voters too given how screwed up some of their results are and the fact that they don't have to disclose their formulas if they don't want to) are responsible for the championship game matchup? I was ready to blame greedy Wall Street bankers, illegal immigrants, and the moon. But then the article had some good points; Okie State had the better resume, but the SEC has a lot of street cred and voters are influenced by that. It also pointed out that most SEC fans are insufferable cunts--can't go wrong with that one. (Not you, Biggest Ruckus. You're cool.) So Dennis is off the hook this time.

Troll extraordinaire Gregg Doyel wrote a similar piece about how Okie State got screwed simply because they don't play in the SEC. He wandered all over stupidland to make his points, my favorite part being:

Because Alabama is in the SEC, and the networks love the SEC. They have reason to, given the top-dollar TV contracts given to the SEC, but it's more subtle than that. Familiarity breeds appreciation, which explains the unfathomably bad songs that make it into the Top 40. Why are they there? Because the radio plays them. Why does the radio play them? Because they're in the Top 40. It's a vicious cycle that has resulted in Katy Perry in your eardrums, and Alabama in your favorite bowl game.

LEAVE KATY PERRY ALONE! SHE HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH THIS! But like Dodd, Doyel had some points. So yeah, it is what it is. The whole BCS hierarchy continues to be at best fucking worthless and at worst a corrupt money-funneling scheme for big bowl and big conference execs. I bet we have a playoff system of some kind within ten years, because any time the season doesn't end with two and exactly two undefeated teams, there's going to be a shitstorm. But it'll take a while for people (execs of the non-AQ conferences, powerful coaches, NCAA execs who aren't greedy assholes oh wait there probably aren't any) to get angry enough to actually do something about it.

Really, I'm just pissed that LSU won and Houston lost this weekend. Because of one or both of those things didn't happen, man, we'd have really seen some quality (and justified) bitching and moaning today. Sigh. Maybe next year. In the meantime: TEBOW TEBOW RODGERS PACKERS NFC EAST LOGJAM STEELERS RAVENS TEBOW JIM HARBAUGH PEYTON MANNING'S BABYNECK SAINTS TEBOW WILD CARDS GRONKOWSKI BRADY TEBOW TEBOW!!!!! And that, plus a little NHL and NBA regular season ACTION ACTION ACTION have to get us through until mid-February. No, I will not acknowledge regular season college basketball.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Note to pretty much every football commentator on every network

"Dynamic" does not mean talented, skilled, or awesome. In fact, saying someone is a DYNAMIC FOOTBALL PLAYER OUT THERE ON THE FOOTBALL FIELD isn't really much of a compliment at all. Now of course it's not an insult either. But just because it has three syllables and sounds cool when you say it doesn't mean you blithering idiots need to use it forty times a game. Thanks.

Also, was subjected to an avalanche of FOX promos while watching the Pac 12 Championship Game tonight. Turns out they're debuting a Napolean Dynamite cartoon in January. Big ups to whoever greenlit that project; it's a mere six years too late to piggyback on the moderate success of the movie. Can't wait for them to roll out a Wedding Crashers single camera reboot next fall.

The only people I hate more than sportswriters are TV and movie executives. MOAR REMAKES AND SEQUELS PLZ

Monday, November 28, 2011

I have literally (LITERALLY literally!) been waiting 32 months to write this post

[In the words of Bart Scott, this post goes out TO ALL THE NONBELIEVERS. Yeah, FireJay may have seen much better days, but we're not dead yet. We're just slowly bleeding out. And we'll stop breathing only when we're good and ready.]

Give Bill Simmons credit where credit is due: he knows a lot about whether or not he is acquaintances with Jimmy Kimmel. He also sometimes occasionally bumblefucks his way into some half decent NBA analysis. In February of 2009, he wrote an article about how (and to what extent) the NBA's revenue system was broken and what fans could expect when the then-current collective bargaining agreement expired in the summer of 2011. He was right in a lot of ways; the CBA was awful for the owners, the owners were pretty awful at managing their finances regardless of the content of that CBA, and trouble was brewing.

Had he left his analysis there I wouldn't be writing this. But I remember reading his article and chuckling at some of his dire predictions regarding how things would shakeout in the aftermath of the impending lockout. I said to myself, "Assuming I don't die in a tragic sex accident between now and the fall of 2011, I'm going to rip this apart one day." And sure enough, I managed to completely avoid any and all sexual activity between then and now. Women don't dig basements I guess. Anyways, let's take a trip back to February of 2009 and look at Bill's analysis of "The No Benjamins Association." See, the problem wasn't Bill's premise- it was the comical hyperbole and scare tactics he used to try to support it. I usually don't link to Simmons (or anyone, really) but since this article is so old I'll buck the trend this one time.

I skipped my annual NBA All-Star Weekend column because I was frantically trying to finish my book. At least that's how I rationalized it. I need to finish this book. I have a deadline. I can't afford to spend that writing time on anything else. But after reflecting for a few days, I came to a sobering conclusion: The book was a convenient excuse. I could have found time to pump out that column. I just didn't want to hand it in.

See, it wouldn't have been a typical All-Star Weekend account for me. It would have been about money. You might remember me writing that the NBA was the No Balls Association two years ago.

Man, did I enjoy that column.

Now it's the No Benjamins Association. Nobody is rolling in Benjamins anymore. Everyone is scared. Money hangs over everything.

Funny twist- the theme of his whole article then was about how the NBA was triple fucked because of money, money, money. And then this week one of Bill's hand picked Grantland writers released a piece about how the lockout was never about money; it was purely about power. I will not set myself on fire while telling you stories about my kids and trips to Vegas with my friends.

[Ten paragraphs about how the league is financially screwed combined with anecdotes about how ZANY Celtics fans are when they visit other teams' arenas omitted.]

Yet declining attendance isn't even one of the league's four biggest problems right now. I would rank the top four like this:

1) Len Bias- still dead
2) Zombie Sonics! Or something!
3) Kobe won finals MVP after being the best player on the team that won the finals BUT OHMIGOD HE SHOT POORLY FROM THE FIELD IN GAME 7
4) Milwaukee's owner won't return my calls- doesn't he know that 200 of their fans who also like me signed an internet petition to make me GM?

1. The 2011 Lockout That Hasn't Happened Yet

Someone In The Know told me that 20 of the 30 NBA teams will lose money this season … and we haven't even come close to hitting rock bottom yet. Just wait until next season.

Yeah, just wait!

Which brings us to the Lockout That Hasn't Happened Yet. Unless the players' association agrees to major concessions by the summer of 2011 -- highly doubtful because that would involve applying common sense -- the owners will happily lock out players as soon as the current CBA expires, then play the same devious waiting game from the summer of 1998.

A waiting game that lasted SEVERAL MONTHS before a new agreement was reached and a shortened season with full playoffs happened. How strange that the exact same thing is going to happen this time around. But fuck being reasonable about that possibility; it's more fun to act like there's some kind of chance the league was going to miss multiple seasons (see below). Look, I'm not trying to play "nah nah toldja so" with Bill here. I probably should have posted about this article when I originally read it. But he's just so... Simmonsy. He can't just make a point; he has to try to pound his nail into the wall with a sledgehammer. And in doing so he butchers the point and wrecks his credibility.

David Stern will grow another scruffy beard. The owners will plant their feet in the sand, grab the tug-of-war rope and dig in. Only this time, they KNOW they will win. See, we learned a dirty little secret in the last lockout: An inordinate number of NBA players live paycheck to paycheck. Yes, even the guys making eight figures a year. You can play high-stakes poker with them … and you will win.

Quick tangent: You're asking yourself, "Wait, how can a dude making $8-10 million a year live paycheck to paycheck?" Easy. First,

And you can sort of imagine what it would sound like when a white guy from Boston paints a picture of how NBA players could be living like this. NOT DAVID LEE THOUGH! HE'S CAREFUL AND JUDICIOUS WITH HIS FINANCES!

Team Stern and the owners know this better than anyone. They will pick the next fight, and again, they will win. When the players' union waves a white flag and the lockout finally ends (2012? 2013?),


I was actually scared for a couple weeks there that the lockout could potentially wipe out this season. I don't think the odds were ever over 25%, but I was sweating a little. To pretend that it might not have ended until 2013, though, is pure lunacy.

I predict a raise of the individual salary max (to $24-25 million), a softer salary cap, a restriction on long-term contracts (can't be more than three years unless you're re-signing your own star), the elimination of opt-out clauses and the midlevel exemption, and the rookie age limit rising to 20. That's seven predictions in all … and I bet I'll end up nailing six.

Simmons predicting his own predictions will be right: least surprising thing in the history of sportswriting things. Let's see how he did.

I predict a raise of the individual salary max (to $24-25 million),

Actually sort of got this one right, in the sense that teams can now spend a larger portion of their cap figure on one guy. 1 for 1.

a softer salary cap,

Cue up the Price is Right losing horn. The cap's softness remains unchanged while the luxury tax got more punitive. 1 for 2.

a restriction on long-term contracts (can't be more than three years unless you're re-signing your own star),

He counts this as two separate predictions and he got one; teams can go five years to bring their own guys back and four if they're bringing in a new guy. That's a cut back from where things were last CBA, but not as drastic as he predicted. 2 for 4.

the elimination of opt-out clauses and the midlevel exemption,

Wrong on both counts. 2 for 6.

and the rookie age limit rising to 20.

As far as my research shows, this wasn't even discussed as part of this negotiation. Not to say the owners wouldn't prefer it to exist, but still. 2 for 7.

That's seven predictions in all … and I bet I'll end up nailing six.

Insert joke about Bill's NFL gambling skills here.

Will the league survive a yearlong disappearance?

Sure, but that's the wrong question. How about "How likely is it that the league and the players look at what happened to the NHL after its yearlong lockout last decade and say 'Fuck it, that looks like a great idea.'"

What about two years?

Again, I'm guffawing.

We're less than 29 months from starting to find out. If you think it's a good idea to disappear for even six months in shaky economic times, ask any Writers Guild member how that turns out.

The NBA lockout is like an apple, and the writers' strike is like an orange. Hope you see what I did there.

These wealthy or used-to-be-wealthy owners don't want to keep losing money just to feed their ego by continuing to own a basketball team. They will make other arrangements, the same way they would arrange to sell their favorite yacht because they didn't feel like splurging on gasoline anymore. These guys don't want to fix the system; they want to reinvent it.

No, they didn't. All they wanted was a bigger slice of the cash pie. And they got it. Most of the framework around that pie ended up more or less unchanged, to the surprise of no one with a brain. Gotta admit that sensationalism is more fun though. Moving ahead to a slightly less absurd but still pretty stupid segment of the same article.

4. The dawning of NBA Franchise Hot Potato.
Ohhhhhhhh, it's coming.

I became obsessed with this topic over All-Star Weekend and solicited input from as many people in the know as I could. Franchise Hot Potato hinges on five factors in all, although only three need to be in play.

The most Simmonsy of all Simmonsisms: there are X and only X factors that determine how the universe works. Here, let me list them for you. 1) Something about girls who are "stripper hot." 2) 80s movies! Etc.

Looking at the next 15 months only, the consensus of people in the know was that multiple NBA franchises (guesses ranged from three to eight) will move cities, get sold to new owners or throw themselves on the mercy of the league (meaning the NBA would effectively take over operations of that franchise, kinda like what happens in the MLS or WNBA).

The league took over the Hornets about 22 months after this writing but I'll give him that. Obviously no one moved cities; the Kings might next summer but it's a big might. As far as I know, there have been three ownership changes since February '09 (only one of which happened before June 2010): Bobcats, Warriors, and Nets. The Hawks deal fell through. So I guess the people on the lower end of his guessing spectrum were close to right. Still kind of absurd though. The alarmism in this piece is fucking silly. And it all comes to a head in the second to last paragraph:

So that's the climate for the No Benjamins Association right now: Murky, unpredictable and not so lucrative. And you wonder why I didn't want to write about All-Star Weekend. Looking at the big picture, the league won't struggle even 1/10th as much as the NHL in years to come -- of all the wildest predictions I heard in Phoenix, the craziest came from a connected executive

Named JackO, Hench, or something of the like.

who predicted that fifteen NHL teams would go under within the next two years (and was dead serious) --

/checks NHL website, laughs

and Major League Baseball is about to get creamed beyond belief.

Man, I wish someone had told Pujols and Fielder and Reyes about this before they hit free agency. Those guys aren't going to make any money this offseason! Also, I hope your standard for "beyond belief" is really low. MLB indeed saw a multiple point attendance drop from 2008 to 2009. And then: yeah.