Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Time to roll out the ol' "something that doesn't suck" label

Because Chris W forwarded me a real winner. Dan Wetzel, the floor is yours.

I can't decide who I hate more: the NFL and its owners, or the NCAA and its administrators. I guess I don't necessarily have to choose. I can just hope they all contract lupus. And I do.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Baseball Is a Team Sport: Mike Tully is a Fool

Today's post comes toLink you courtesy of Mike Tully of the New York Times - a rarely-critiqued news outlet here on FJayM. But this one's worth the time. This one actually suggests that really bad players are not that bad, and that really good players are not that good, and it hits on some classic FJayM fallacies - both logical and statistical.

In fact, I'm going to be so bold as to slap the "wrongest thing that has ever been said about baseball" on this post. That's because the writer implies that David Eckstein is better than Carlos Beltran, that Jonny Gomes is better than Joey Votto, and that signing Carlos Pena was a masterstroke by the Chicago Cubs. It's amazing how he has managed to pick one statistic that justifies all kinds of stupid conclusions and throws them into one article. It's a smorgasbord of stupid.

[For some reason, the article opens and closes with a long extended comparison to North Carolina women's soccer. I've cut that part out]

To Create Winners, you have to Find Winners

Uh oh. The title has ominous foreboding to it. Maybe the Cubs should just hire Charlie Sheen as a consultant?

David Eckstein is one player whose contribution far exceeded his talent. A walk-on in college and a 19th-round draft pick, he still managed to make the postseason in 4 of his 10 major league seasons, played on two championship teams and was the most valuable player of the 2006 World Series.

This is so stupid. This is classic stupid. This is the epitome of the stupid Eckstein fallacy. Why does Tully define Eckstein's "contribution" as making the postseason, which is a team acheivement, instead of looking at Eckstein's individual contributions... say his sole season above 100 OPS+ or his two seasons above 3 WAR.

On the other end of the spectrum one might find Carlos Beltran, a four-time All-Star with the Mets. While he recovered from knee surgery last year, they won 48 of their first 88 games, and were only four games out of the National League East lead at the All-Star break. Then Beltran rejoined the team. The Mets went 31-43 (.419) the rest of the way and finished 18 games out of first place.

Carlos Beltran did have a bad season last year, but let the record show that Beltran, in comparison with Eckstein, has had exactly four times as many seasons above 3 WAR. And Eckstein is even two years older.

Their decline cannot be attributed solely to Beltran, but the Mets did not improve with him in the lineup.

What a stupid sentence. Their decline barely be attributed to Beltran. The man plays one position out of nine. How hard is that to comprehend?

On the other hand, the Mets went 42-36 (.538) with Ruben Tejada, the team’s highest winning percentage among position players with extended time on the field. Ike Davis had the best winning percentage at .503 (74-73); only David Wright was on the field for more Mets victories (75).


Baseball insiders cite factors like cohesion, rhythm and percentages to defend the idea of sticking with tried-and-true players. They argue, with some justification, that baseball involves failure and that players need time to work through it.

That time is during little league baseball, high school baseball, sometimes in college baseball, and minor leauge baseball. Not in Major League baseball.

Also, what are "cohesion", "rhythm" and "percentages"? Doesn't one of those things not belong with the others? I don't understand that sentence at all.

The YankeesDerek Jeter, who has won five championships, is coming off the worst offensive season of his 16-year career. Now the team is debating whether he or Brett Gardner should bat leadoff. No matter where Gardner bats, he should play; the Yankees were 93-57 (.620) with him in the lineup, and 2-10 without him. They seemed to get along just fine (21-4) without Alex Rodriguez. In the games Jeter played, the Yankees were 92-65.

Argh. So much stupid. Of all the arguments and claptrap I've heard this week about Jeter heading into this season, this is the worst. Seriously, people, shut up about Jeter and just let the poor man fade away into mediocrity without hyperanalyzing his slow descent.

Also, how did Derek Jeter win five championships? I thought the Yankees won five championships. Who were all those other guys in pinstripes? Were they batboys for Jeter? WAS SCOTT BROSIUS NOTHING BUT A HOTDOG VENDOR?

Should teams be slaves to such statistics? No, but they should notice. And they might be surprised.

Should teams pay any attention at all to such statistics? Not really. I guess these statistics are kind of worth noticing, but I think they are probably about 50th in importance, as statistics go. I'd rather judge a hitter by HBP (hey, at least it contributes to his own OBP) than by this stat.

Last season Cincinnati won the National League Central at 91-71 (.562). But in games Joey Votto, the league M.V.P., played, the Reds went 83-67 (.553). Six regular teammates finished with a higher percentage than Votto’s: Scott Rolen, .586; Jay Bruce, .574; Brandon Phillips, Orlando Cabrera and Jonny Gomes, .561; and Drew Stubbs, 560.

We're taking about a difference of four or five wins in each of these cases. Over a full season of baseball, anything can cause a differential of four or five wins. This is the exact opposite of a sample size fallacy - this is a huge generalization about winning that has nothing to do with individual production.

Absolutely nothing can be concluded from the above paragraph. Joey Votto is approximately one hundred times better than all those other Reds players, and any clown who cherry-picks win stats to try and even weakly suggest otherwise has his head in a sack.

Similarly, Texas was 71-62 (.534) with Josh Hamilton, the American League M.V.P., in the lineup. He finished behind several fellow position players: Ian Kinsler (.592), Elvis Andrus (.568), David Murphy (.565) and Michael Young (.561).

Bench Josh Hamilton! Bench Joey Votto! Call the fire department!

This is also a completely pointless paragraph. Nothing can be concluded from this generalization except that apparently individuals on a baseball team cannot win every game completely by themselves, even if he hits .359 and his OPS is 1.044.

Carlos Pena, who had a miserable 2010 season for Tampa Bay, is a remarkable example. He batted .196 and had 158 strikeouts, but the Rays were 88-56 (.611) with him in the lineup, the best among their regular players. They were 22 games above .500 with Pena, two games under without him. The Chicago Cubs signed Pena for one year and $10 million.

Awesome. The Chicago Cubs, who have had over a century now to get adjusted to failure, are now all set to win the 2011 World Series.

St. Louis traded shortstop Brendan Ryan to Seattle in the off-season after his career-worst .223 batting average. The Cardinals were 17 games over .500 with Ryan, seven games under without him. In his place is Ryan Theriot, whose Cubs went 43-53 with him in the lineup last year, 32-34 without him.

I predict the Cubs will surge past the Cardinals this year! Based solely on Ryan Theriot and Brendan Ryan!

Sometimes teams will find a player with an X-factor that goes way beyond talent. Leo Durocher once said that second baseman Eddie Stanky could not hit, field or run — all he could do was win. But Stanky was not helpless. He retired in 1953 with a .410 career on-base percentage, among the best in history.

Let's rewrite that sentence. Eddie Stanky could not hit, field or run - all he could do was walk, which helps a whole team win. Leo Durocher's statement was meant to be interpreted figuratively, and it's pretty stupid when New York Times writers interpret it literally to support a stupid thesis.

On-base percentage was not valued in the 1940s and ’50s, and that is the point. Certain players have always done things that keep them on the winning side, even if they are not always recognized.

Except that they ARE recognized - anyone who knows anything about Eddie Stanky could quickly recognize his walks and their resultant value to a team. That's why he was kept in the starting lineup.

Well, the 2011 season starts on Thursday. Get excited, baseball fans! After game #1 of the season, if your team wins, they should run the same lineup out there for the next game. After all, they will have won 100% of the games with those players!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Blogger Makes Completely Libelous Charge of Racism, More Importantly: Misuses Irony

Famed blogger Murray Chass has written a blog post on his blog attacking Stan Musial for having a racist restaurant policy 50 years ago, a charge even the son of the alleged victim has roundly refuted. We won't dwell on refuting that since most everyone on the internet with a brain has tackled Chass's blogging ignorance and insistence on reusing a source that he's already admitted needs to be fact-checked much better (that's bloggers for you!).

No, this is FJayM--we're much much more interested in nitpicking people's use of the term "ironic" (or "literally"):

The word ironic is overused, but it would seem to me we could consider it ironic that the nation’s first black president awards the nation’s highest civilian honor to someone who discriminated against blacks.

Lol. This reminds me of the Lionel Hutz quotation from the Simpsons:

Homer, I don't use the word "hero" very often, but you are the greatest hero in American history.


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Larry B Checks In

After weeks of our desperate emails pleading with him to just give us the slightest sign that he was alive--not being tortured in a vietnamese prison camp, or washed up on some rice paddy's shoreline riddled with malaria--Larry B finally contacted us. He contacted us to player hate on Scott Miller.

The following are the words of Larry B, who has apparently gone native a la Colonel Kurtz:

Been a slow month here on the blogg.  I've been on vacation for most of it, and will be until the weekend but I decided I might as well pop in and throw something up very quickly.  And when you haven't been on the internet in a while and need to quickly find bad sportswriting to make fun of, there's only one person to look to: Scott Miller.  (The answer is no longer Simmons because he doesn't write anymore and I refuse to listen to his podcasts.)  You can always trust Scott to write poorly and uncleverly from a boring angle about a lame topic.

We know the sun sets in the West.
But is it setting on the Angels' Empire?
Yeah, their run of winning 93 games in an easy division and promptly being bounced out of the playoffs in the divisional round is finally coming to an end.
Coming off their first lower-division AL West finish in eight seasons, the Los Angeles Angels are stepping into their most pivotal summer since Mike Scioscia moved into the manager's office in 1999.
Overdramatic? Not with a team that is getting neither younger nor quicker.
Is quickness highly valued when building a baseball team?  Similarly valuable attributes: height, intelligence, ability to recover quickly from hangovers.
There were legitimate reasons why the Angels last summer stumbled to their first sub-.500 mark since 2003.
This just in: the Angels were not merely an unlucky team in 2010, a year in which they fielded a considerably less talented team than they had in previous years and subsequently won about 15 fewer games. 
Just as there were legitimate reasons (hint: $$$) why they whiffed on their No. 1 free-agent target last winter when Carl Crawford signed with Boston. And why they swung and missed on Mark Teixeira (Yankees) and CC Sabathia (ditto) three winters ago. And why they bade farewell to Chone Figgins, Vladimir Guerrero and John Lackey two winters ago.
But is regression in the standings mutually exclusive from their recent run of unseasonably cold winters?
Could their recent shittiness have something to do with the fact that they have lost a bunch of good players and replaced them with shitty ones?  Your guess is as good as mine!
The Angels are betting a hard yes on that.
Which is a reflection of the fact that they're one of the most overrated organizations in baseball.  Specifically their front office and their dickhead “GRRR DERP HUSTLE GRIT PLAY THE GAME THE RIGHT WAY” manager.
Without Figgins and, after slugger Kendry Morales fractured his lower left leg in late May, their offense dipped in the severe, lose-your-stomach manner that the Matterhorn causes its riders at nearby Disneyland.
Unclever, shitty writing.  And coincidentally (OR DO I MEAN IRONICALLY?) Figgins went on to have a pathetically horriawful barftastic offensive season in Seattle.  But yeah anyways. 
They were so off-balance that they scored 202 fewer runs in 2010 than they did in 2009. Not only was that the largest drop in the majors, but their 681 total runs were the Angels' fewest in a non-strike-shortened season since 1992. Hello, Luis Polonia.
HELLO, IRRELEVANT EARLY 90s PLAYER REFERENCE!  Scott just got his honorary degree from the Jeff Pearlman school of baseball writing.
The fix? With Morales back in the middle of the lineup this summer, the Angels are sure a clogged offense again will flow.
Classic Scoscia-esque word choice regarding those offensive problems.  “The reason our offense went in the shitter has nothing to do with losing a bunch of good hitters- it's because we're clogging things up too much.  Gotta get them to FLOW again.  Gotta get from first to third on singles.  GOTTA DO THE LITTLE THINGS.”
"He's very important," says Jered Weaver, the projected opening day starter. "Obviously, having him go out last year put a damper on our season. Anytime you lose a guy like that, it's tough."
Teammate acknowledges hurt teammate's relevance.  And zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
But on opening day, Morales will not be in the field behind Weaver. He instead will open the season on the disabled list. And nearly 11 months following his ankle surgery, that's worrisome.
"One thing we've talked about is that Morales is going to be more important at the end of the season than at the beginning of the season," hitting coach Mickey Hatcher says.
Right, it'll be much better for them to start cold and then get hot in August and September to win 80 games than to start hot and then fade down the stretch.
The addition of veteran outfielder Vernon Wells is a big upgrade over Juan Rivera in left field all the way around -- with the bat, in the field and in the clubhouse (especially work ethic).
Burnsauce on Rivera.
But by missing on Crawford, the Angels' leadoff position remains unsettled (Maicer Izturis and others). And by missing over the winter on Adrian Beltre (Texas), third base likely will remain a revolving door (Izturis, Alberto Callaspo or, ahem, Brandon Wood).
Hopefully some of those shitty hitters can help the offense start to flow again.
Which puts a target squarely on Morales' back. If the Angels don't want to watch defending champ Texas run away again, or even emerging Oakland, Morales must have two good legs and one mean bat.
Unclever, shitty writing. He'll also need at least three mean teeth!
His biggest issue now is not running in a straight line, but cutting and turning on the run (such as on the bases or in the field).
Such as while playing baseball, or doing any of the things you do when you play baseball. That's a great parenthetical.  I love it.  I enjoy blogging about bad sportswriting (such as you might find on the internet, or in newspapers, or in magazines, or in books). 
Which means the next issue is this: After nearly a year away, is Morales' bat capable of picking up where it left off?
"I think he's got the personality where it can," Hatcher says. "This guy, he's like Guerrero. He loves the excitement, he loves the challenge.
More evidence that the Angels are run by diptards.
"Anybody else, I'd be concerned. But I'm not concerned about him getting in the box. There may be some times when he looks ugly, but he can still hurt the pitcher."
There were enough ugly moments last year with the Angels' lineup that simply limiting them in 2011 will be an improvement.
Which will be super easy once Morales comes back from his injury, sometime in late Whoknowswhen.
"There were a number of components," Scioscia says. "First and foremost was the dynamics of trying to set the table with some guys in front of the middle of our lineup, and Figgy was part of that.
He always took the extra base!  That's what made him so good!
And then losing Kendrys, it changed everybody's roles in the lineup to where I think guys were trying to do a little too much.
Clogging things up!
And guys we anticipated, Rivera had a tough first half, Erick Aybar and Bobby Abreu struggled.
Erick Aybar struggled because he sucks.  Juan Rivera struggled because he pretty much sucks.  Bobby Abreu struggled because he's 37.  But again, these are the Angels, so they didn't see any of that coming.
"A lot of stuff was related. I don't think it was one thing."
The best analysis I've ever heard Scoscia offer on any topic.
As for 2011, it all starts with Morales' recovery.
"He's fine," Hatcher insists. "There ain't nothing wrong with his hitting."
Other than the fact that he can't do anything after he hits the ball besides run in a straight line to the right field foul pole.
Maybe not. But few can hit in the majors without two good feet. And the quicker Morales gets to that point, the quicker the Angels will be able to stand tall on their own two legs.
Unclever, shitty ending. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Future of the NFL Will Be Built On The Backs of Strawmen

With all the bullshit the NFL owners are spewing about a multi-billion dollar business being an unsustainable economic model, it was nice of the players to give them a break by latching on to a poorly chosen word by Adrian Peterson as if that were his actual argument. Here's the reaction of a couple of "noble" players speaking out against Peterson's word choice.

In case you're not familiar, Adrian Peterson was speaking out about how the NFL owners are soaking the players for as much profit as possible in a league that routinely underpays its players, doesn't pay them for time spent injured, and basically doesn't give a shit about them post-career (unlike the much less successful but much more player-friendly MLB and too I'm sure but who the hell knows about hockey, Jarrett?) complaining about this situation, Peterson made the regrettable mistake of comparing the situation of NFL players to "Modern Day Slavery."

Total hyperbole. I agree. But this is in the midst of an interview, and last I checked, despite his aborted degree from top 200 Research University of Oklahoma, Adrian Peterson is not expected to be an exceptional wordsmith. Look at the responses from the link above:

Ryan Grant: "Durrrr...slavery actually exists some places so Peterson is wrong."

Yes, Peterson is wrong about how NFL players being actual slaves. I don't think he'd disagree with you on that Ryan.

Heath Evans: "Durrrr...I'm so lucky to be able to play in da National Football League

Yes, you're lucky to have the chance to play professional football, Heath. I don't think Adrian's going to disagree with that either.

Anyone actually want to address ADP's actual points? No? I didn't think so.

Fucking NFL Players. I had their back until I thought about it for a minute and realized they're all a bunch of fucking idiot meatheads who brought this on themselves for trying to strike in the 80's without realizing that they have no bargaining power. These players are just as fucking stupid.

Fuck them all. Fuck this fucking league.

EDIT: Loyal reader IVN posted the following interesting point which made me want to clarify my statements in this post, not because I'm wrong or IVN's wrong, but because I think I need to clarify my general annoyance at the two above meatheads:

IVN Wrote:

why are they comparing this shit to slavery? wouldn't it make more sense to compare it to the steel/coal/oil industries from the turn of the 20th century? bazillion dollar industries run owned by comically greedy men who treat labor as interchangeable cogs in their machine...hell, you could argue some of the locations of NFL stadiums (Foxborough and Arlington come to mind) are de facto "company towns" the way places like Homestead were. maybe I'm overthinking this

My response, which I suppose you could see in the comments if you want to, but here it is here too:

Well you're not overthinking it, and you make a very good point--that is a great comparison to the modern day NFL (though, to be fair, NFL players are a lot more handsomely rewarded, both relatively speaking and pct of gross-wise than coal/oil/steel-workers). But on the other hand, Peterson's arguments are a lot more substantial than "NFL PLAYERS ARE SLAVES" and's kind of missing the point. Your response is a billion times more intelligent than the two quoted above because you're actually addressing the actual substance of ADP's quote--i.e. the NFL is exploiting its players vis-a-vis their argument that they can't afford to keep paying them THE SAME AMOUNT that they paid them in a year they made billions and billions of dollars and paid their players less than the players in any of the other major sports (less successful sports too, I might add).

But my major beef is these players latching on to this fucking use of "slavery" as if that negates Peterson's whole argument. That's all that's going to be talked about because of these dipshit players--both of whom ARE "lucky" to be in the NFL and would be well-advised to keep their mouths shut since their earnings, while they might make them independently wealthy, won't keep them from being immune to being broke at some point in the future--which is what players like Brees, Manning, and Peterson--players who NEVER have to worry about going broke--are fighting against.

Let me make this perfectly clear: HEATH EVANS AND RYAN GRANT: Adrian Peterson is campaigning FOR YOU, you dumb shitheads. ADP doesn't care about the fucking new agreement. ADP will never want for money in his life. He is arguing for YOU and all YOU FUCKING IDIOTS can do is nitpick a poor choice of words on his part.

Fucking mongos.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Irony alert

We have a new definition for irony- "unfortunate, but moderately anticipated." Take it away, Jon Paul Morosi (MORE LIKE MORONSI) and sound byte artist Ryan Howard:

The Philadelphia Phillies are supposed to win the World Series. They have the Roys. They have Cliff. They have Cole. They just have to stay healthy.

Well here we are, still a week shy of St. Patrick’s Day, talking about how the Phillies can’t seem to stay healthy.

Ironic, don’t you think?

“I would guess so,” slugger Ryan Howard said with a rueful smile.

I would guess not. Both of you: get fucked.

Also fuck the Phillies and their fffffans in the fffffffface. What? Having a team where nearly every single major contributor (C, 1B, 2B, SS, 3B, LF, CF, SP, SP, SP, CL) is over 30 (really the only exception is Cole Hamels) ISN'T always such a great idea? Color me shocked! Of course, it's worth noting that Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard, and Brad Lidge don't suck because they're over 30. They suck because they fucking suck and were terribly overrated to begin with.

Enjoy your 84 win season, Philadelphia.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Even when Bill Simmons knows something about a sport, he still knows absolutely nothing about that sport

Bill knows more about pro basketball than he knows about any other sport. Unfortunately, he still knows a hell of a lot more about anecdotal bullshit, embarrassing self-promotion, irrelevant stories about his kids, dumb unsupported theories that change depending on which way the wind is blowing, being angry at teams for not making dumb trades just for the sake of making trades, etc. And so it is that we happen upon his yearly trade deadline column.

In 2007, Kim Kardashian was leaking a sex tape, Charlie Sheen was still married, Barack Obama was thinking about running for president, Nicole Kidman's face could still move,

He knows about pop culture! I should read everything this guy writes, I bet he references movies and shows and stuff that I know about!

people other than porn stars were using MySpace, and I was calling the NBA "The No Balls Association."

Burnsauce, NBA GMs. Burnsauce.

Nobody wanted to trade. General managers would rather stand pat than make a move and get raked over the coals. Self-preservation trumped everything else.

In other words, making good decisions with regards to which players you have on your team trumped everything else. As things have been during every trade deadline ever. And during all twelve months of the year during every year of the NBA's existence.

Looking back, it was a transition year between the good old days (in which a slew of teams were run by people who made you wonder, "Wait, are they drunk?") and today's era of suffocating 24/7 coverage (in which every move is endlessly dissected by fans, bloggers and media members).

Things that were around to enable suffocating 24/7 coverage of every single thing that happens in the world of sports during 2004-2006: TV, mainstream internet sites, blogs, radio. Things that have been around to enable suffocating 24/7 coverage of every single thing that happens in the world of sports since 2008: TV, mainstream internet sites, blogs, radio, and Twitter.

The National Basketball Association


has changed in a variety of ways this century, but none more than this: February's trade deadline, June's draft and July's free agency frenzy are consumed as voraciously as the playoffs and the Finals.

Brilliant, hard-hitting analysis. People really like sports and pay very close attention to them.

You can't just slip a stupid basketball trade by an entire country anymore. You will be mocked on Twitter, on blogs, on sports radio, on message boards, in columns and articles ... if there was a theme song for this era, it would be Queen's "We Will Rock You," with one letter adjusted.

We will ... we will ... MOCK YOU!
We will ... we will ... MOCK YOU!

Jesus Chirst, is Reilly ghost writing for Simmons now? Who edited that? That's fucking terrible. Thanks Bill, you really brought your point home. Other lines to be used in a Simmons column in the near future:

"Thanks to the towering presence of Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah, the Bulls have great interior defense... if there was a theme song for those guys, it would be Queen's "We Will Rock You," with one letter adjusted. We will... we will... BLOCK YOU!"

"The owners and players haven't been able to reach a labor agreement... if there was a theme song for this situation, it would be Queen's "We Will Rock You," with one letter adjusted. We will... we will... LOCK YOU (out)!"

Fucking A, man. That's horrific.

So it took a few years to adjust, but now we're here. With a crippling lockout looming, half the league felt obligated to do ... something. You could split the motivations of the 30 franchises into eight groups.

(stupid explanations of these eight groups omitted)

Classic, useless/nonsensical Simmons analysis. "Let me break this down for you by making it more complex than it needs to be so you can tell how much I know about the National Basketball Association. See, there are subtle differences between the ways the Nets and Blazers acted at the deadline.... [something something something Jersey Shore AL-only keeper league email from my dad my kids like to wake up early in the morning and no other kids have ever done this in the history of forever]

I was stunned that my Knicks fan buddies were split over the Carmelo trade. Some loved it, some thought they gave up too much. The dissenters made the same point: "Why give up that much when we could just sign him this summer?"

I'm a pretty intense Nuggets fan. I guarantee you I know more about the Melo trade situation and Melo's game than Simmons does. (Which is kind of like saying I know more about how the world works than a goldfish does, but anyways)

Here's the problem: the Nuggets knew that (A) Carmelo was never signing an extension in New Jersey,

Probably true. He was undoubtedly only interested in going to the Knicks. Which is what makes him in some ways even more obnoxious than LeBron- while LeBron forced teams to audition for him, held the worst-planned TV special of all time, and (probably) quit on his old employer in the middle of his last playoff series there, at least he was open to playing in more than one place when he reached free agency.

and (B) Carmelo wanted a $65 million extension as much as he wanted to play for the Knicks.

Doubtful. Given the way he acted throughout the whole sequence of events, it's very likely he would have taken less money to play for the Knicks. He made it pretty clear that doing so was "a dream come true," a homecoming, the only place he wanted to be, etc.

Their savviest play was to keep him past the deadline and play the odds: something like a 90 percent chance that Carmelo would have grabbed the $65 million and a 10 percent chance that he would have been stupidly stubborn enough to say, "I'm out of here, I don't care if it costs me $20 million, I'm gone."

Hilarious. I really love Bill's handicapping skills. The guy who correctly picks NFL games against the spread about 40% of the time knows that there was a 90% chance that Melo wouldn't bail out on a team he didn't want to play for anymore to go to one that wanted him as much as he wanted it. As if they wouldn't have been able to find a way (endorsements, short term FA deal leading to a bigger extension a year later) to make the money work. How does it feel, T-Wolves fans? How does it feel that Bill isn't your GM yet? Or was it the Bucks? Either way, count your blessings.

Few NBA players would ever do that, and no self-respecting agent would ever allow that. It just wouldn't happen. Their move would be to sign the extension, play hard for the rest of the season, then push for a trade that summer. At that point, Denver could have had 29 teams bidding for him instead of one. Everyone wins.

Well at least he's consistent. But he's still wrong. Melo had no interest in playing for 29 of the 30 teams in the league. He only wanted to play for one. It's located in the city (and borough) where his boy Amare plays, and where his boy CP3 might play soon, and where his bitch of an F-list celebrity wife wants to live. That was his #1 concern all along. Obviously there was a chance that he'd sign an extension with the Nuggets before the end of the season rather than risk losing money if he wanted to go to the Knicks in the offseason as a UFA. To say it was 90% likely is insanity given how Melo acted towards NY before and since being traded as well. I'd say the percentage of likelihood was a lot closer to 10 than 90. In any case, sure, if the Nuggets were able to ink him to an extension, they probably could have gotten more than the Knicks gave. But not substantially more. And in the meantime, they'd continue to be a 45 win team at its absolute ceiling, employing a bona fide sulkosaurus, heading for a first round playoff exit. Now they're a 45 win team with a much brighter future, much happier players, and much more potential to do damage in the playoffs since they're deeper and have more frontcourt size.

That's what terrified the Knicks: Seven months of foreplay going up in smoke because Denver played those 90 percent odds


and said, "Screw it, let's keep him." So why didn't the Nuggets do that? Because they're being run by a rookie general manager (Masai Ujiri) and a rookie figurehead (Josh Kroenke, the 30-year-old son of owner Stan Kroenke), neither of whom wanted to kick off their Nuggets reign by becoming the two bumbling idiots who rolled the dice on a Carmelo extension, then watched him skip off to New York for nothing.

And watched him quasi-ruin the entire 2010-2011 season instead of just half of it.

Denver needed to save face with a decent deal, which it did: Danilo Gallinari, a future No. 1 pick, a year and a half of Wilson Chandler, a giant trade exception and a severe payroll slash.

Pretty incredible, really. Knowing that Melo would only go to one team, they still got a B/B+ of a deal from that team. Thank you Mikhail Prokhorov.


One of the strangest subplots this week: Everyone rushing to pick Carmelo's game apart, especially people who rely on advanced metrics and ended up getting caught up in small-picture stuff.

Also known as people who like to use more information rather than less when evaluating something.

Carmelo has one elite skill (he rebounds extremely well for a small forward)

BWAH HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. OH GOD GIVE ME A MINUTE TO CATCH MY BREATH. *pause* BWHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHA. Oh man, you're killing me, Billy. If Carmelo has "elite" rebounding skills for a SF (which he really isn't, he's more of a combo 3/4), I'd hate to see what a guy with "average" rebounding skills plays like. Take it from any Nuggets fan- Melo's rebounding skills are somewhere between "above average" and "pretty good." It's not that he's a bad rebounder, but in Simmons' attempt to compliment Melo he's tossed out some lofty hyperbole. That's good stuff. I have no idea what the advanced metrics have to say about it but I'd be surprised if they didn't back me up.

and one transcendent skill (he's as good as anyone in the league at scoring and/or getting to the line, especially in crunch time).

On a much calmer note, I agree with this assessment.

You can absolutely, positively, unquestionably win a championship if Carmelo Anthony is your creator at the end of a basketball game.

On a basketball court played by basketball players. But here's the thing: as the Nuggets learned between 2004 and 2010, you absolutely, positively, unquestionably cannot win a championship if Carmelo Anthony is your best player. Dude took them to two playoff series wins in seven playoff appearances. Am I saying Melo sucks? Of course not. Without him, the 2004-2010 Nuggets probably only make the playoffs a couple of times (if any). And it's not like they made the conference finals in 2009 in spite of him. He was the best player on that team. But that year, that run- with a bunch of complimentary pieces playing out of their minds (Billups, a healthy Kenyon Martin, Dante fucking Jones of all people, and a healthy Chris Andersen)- was as good as they could do. And that was get within six wins of a championship. So let's not trip over ourselves trying to blow Melo. He's not a guy who's going to take you to a title. Him, plus Amare, plus a healthy CP3? Sure. But that's not what Bill is trying to say. The above sentence should say something like "You can unquestionably win a championship if Melo is your late game scoring threat and you have another superstar and some awesome glue guys positioned around him."

Now throw this in: The other players know. They know who's good. They know who's worth a damn. They know who they'd go to war with. So you can't discount (A) how well Carmelo played on the 2008 Olympic team;

Right, he stepped up on that big stage. Makes you wonder why he rarely played like that in Denver. He developed a reputation for coming up big in games on national TV (wish I had the numbers, but I know almost all his averages are up in such games over the course of his career) and in big venues (especially MSG, but also in the United Center and Staples Center as well). There are two possible explanations there: the guy just happens to find a 6th gear in big games, or, the guy only plays at 95% the rest of the time. I know which one of those I think is the case.

(B) how much the other guys respected him; and (C) how the key guys on that team were Kobe, LeBron, Wade and Carmelo. It can't be forgotten. It just can't.

Although it's probably true, I'm pretty sure most fans have forgotten that.

Neither can the fact that he nearly carried a limited Nuggets team to the Finals two years ago.

In his five previous playoff appearances before 2009, the Nuggets won seven total games. Before the 2009 playoffs the Nuggets acquired Chauncey Billups. I'm just saying.

Now throw this in: If there was ever a player who could be ignited by a great basketball city and a consistently fantastic crowd, it's Carmelo Anthony.

See above. That might mean he's a good fit for the Knicks, but it also might mean he's kind of a self-absorbed asshole.

He's been stuck in a relatively icy cruise control for two solid years, playing in a city he didn't totally love, being professional about it,


trying hard every game




... and yet, there was something detached about him.

True, and that something often resulted in him not playing hard for quarters or games at a time. I'm not trying to turn this into an "I hate Melo" post. I'm not like a bitter and scorned Cavaliers fan here. I'm just saying, the guy has some pretty big shortcomings. You can't sweep them under the rug. YOU JUST CAN'T.

No longer. I hate how he weaseled his way to the Knicks and pissed on Denver fans, but that's over. Let's look at this thing objectively: He's going to kill it with the Knicks. I'd bet anything. They haven't had someone like this since Bernard King, which is funny because I always thought Melo was Bernard 2.0.


Playing in New York isn't for everyone, but in this case, it will be the best thing that ever happened to Carmelo Anthony.

That's probably true. I'm OK with that statement. He's still a long ways from being as perfect and angelic as you're making him out to be.

I keep hearing that you can't win a title with Melo and Amare. Agreed. But you can win the title with Carmelo, Amare and Chris Paul (or Dwight Howard, or Deron Williams). In the short term, you can make some noise, rock the building and make Knicks fans forget about the 10 excruciating years they just endured. And you can scare the living hell out of the fans from the other Eastern contenders. Believe me, as a Celtics fan, I want no part of the Knicks this spring for one reason: You never want to play a playoff series in which the other team has the best guy. There's a decent chance Carmelo could just go off 1984 Bernard-style in Round 1 or Round 2.

Yeah, after all, he did it a whole one times between 2004 and 2010! He's a volcano, just ready to erupt at a moment's notice every five years or so!

What a lazy argument.

He's referring to people complaining about groups of superstars forcing their way to chosen teams, leaving the rest of the league pretty diluted. (For the record I'm not one of those people, although I kind of see where they're coming from.)

Over the past six decades, the following players pushed their way from a worse situation to a (seemingly) better one either by trade or free agency: Wilt Chamberlain, Oscar Robertson, Shaquille O'Neal, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Moses Malone, Rick Barry, Charles Barkley, Scottie Pippen, Bill Walton, Kevin Garnett, Allen Iverson, Gary Payton, Ray Allen, Jason Kidd, Clyde Drexler ... should I keep going? Now this "phenomenon" is endangering the game???

To a name, those guys pretty much acted on their own. The Miami "Big 3" obviously acted in concert. Amare, Melo, and Paul are in the process of doing so. There's nothing THAT wrong with it... but it's kind of a bitch move. And if the new CBA allows teams more flexibility to accomplish these kinds of moves, you'll probably see groups of 4 or 5 guys working together in the future. I think that's a little bit different than Shaq telling the Magic to trade him.

As Kenny Smith said last night, "If [a small-market team] builds the right pieces around the right guy, he will stay." Period. Duncan stayed in San Antonio because it built the right team around him.

Duncan stayed in San Antonio because he doesn't give a shit about endorsements or being a "global icon" or whateverthefuck. But most pro athletes do. And some of them, like Melo, also have shrill F-list celebrity wives who can't stomach the thought of living anywhere besides NYC or LA.

Stockton and Malone stayed in Utah because they had each other.

See: Duncan.

Durant will stay in Oklahoma City because of Westbrook and everyone else.

We'll see.

LeBron left Cleveland mainly because it made bad trades and signed the wrong guys.

Most oversimplified and stupid analysis of that situation I've ever read.

And Utah never would have thought it might lose Deron Williams if it hadn't screwed up the roster around him.

That's partially true, which still puts small market teams at a disadvantage. Hey, Knicks: go ahead and make 50 horrendously bad moves over the course of a decade. Eventually, a few superstars will still find their way to you and you'll be relevant again. Hey, Jazz: don't fuck up! Better not make any big mistakes (Kirilenko's contract and Okur's contract are the only two big ones that come to mind) or no more superstars for you! It's not exactly an ideal system.

Besides, why is it such a bad thing to have six or seven loaded teams and six or seven terrible ones? Oh crap, I hate seeing the Finals with all these elite players! Give me a break.

That's what fans want to see! Superteams! Let's contract 22 of them and just leave the Lakers, Celtics, Heat, Knicks, Bulls, Mavericks, ZOMBIE SONICS (best nickname ever; they can stay because of Durant), and Clippers (BILL IS A SEASON TICKET HOLDER DID YOU KNOW THAT?)! Fans in general don't care about parity, and the fans that live outside of NYC, Boston, LA, Dallas, and Chicago certainly don't care about teams in their market playing well!