Monday, April 30, 2012

Mailbag? More like mailBAD, Part 2

In which we hear about how Kobe is a bad person for wanting to win rings and score points.

Q: Hey Sports Czar — what's your fix for NFL kickoffs? You can't run for Sports Czar if you are sitting this one out.
— Jeremy, Omaha

You also shouldn't be able to run for Sports Czar (what a depressing title, not sure I like the choice of words there) if you know a medium amount about one sport, pretend to know a lot about 50% of the teams in another when in fact you have your head up your ass with regard to the entire sport, sort of like a third sport but only for gambling purposes (and you suck at gambling on it), and have no further sports knowledge whatsoever.  That list of qualifications should definitely prevent you from running for Sports Tyrant.

SG: We can't get rid of kickoffs entirely, right? 

Actually, you pretty much could.

/ducks to avoid tomatoes thrown by Bears fans

The problem from a strategic standpoint would be doing away with the opportunity for onside kicks.

For such a violent sport, we can't suddenly start picking which violent parts make more sense than others. 

I'm not saying the league should do away with kickoffs, just that the small amount of variation in outcomes among KORs and the degree to which they generate full speed ahead helmet to helmet hits makes them different than any other play in the game.  Saying "durr all plays are violent, we can't pick and choose" is like saying "in theory a batter can hit any pitch with the right swing, so why have a strike zone."  Insert some nuance into your thinking you fucking clod.

At the same time, this seems like a good chance to tweak the sport so there's more incentive to go for touchdowns instead of field goals. Why? Because fans perk up when they hear the words "fourth down and they're going for it!" and lose interest when they hear the words "and here comes [fill in any kicker] to try a field goal." 

That's a reasonable thing to think.  Now watch him completely fuck the dog trying to find a way to make it work by messing with kickoff rules.

So, what if we tweaked the rules …

• No more kickoffs to start the first and third quarters. Instead, each team gets the ball on the 25-yard line and we go from there.

WE CAN'T JUST CHOOSE WHICH KICKOFFS ARE MORE OR LESS IMPORTANT THAN OTHERS!  THEY'RE ALL VIOLENT!  What about onside sneak attack kicks?  They rarely happen, but can be pretty fun.  Super Bowl XLIV?

• After any successful field goal, you kick off from your own 25-yard line.

• After any touchdown, you kick off from your own 40-yard line.

Dumb, every one of those is either going to be in the 10th row of the stands or an onside attempt, meaning the return team would simply line up in onside recover formation every time and DURRRRRR SPORTS CZAR AT WORK EVERYONE, GET OUT OF HIS WAY.

The end result (hopefully): fewer field goals, more touchbacks, more "fourth down and they're going for it!" situations, and (most important) more decisions that will get screwed up by mentally overwhelmed coaches and eventually turn into comedic fodder!

The ironing.  So tasty.  Also, I like that he thinks that losing maybe 10 or 15 yards of field position at the start of the next possession is going to get teams to start going for it on 4th like gangbusters.  It's the 2nd quarter of a 10-7 game, or some other similarly low leverage situation.  You're a head coach.  Congratulations, you're already more qualified for your job than Josh McDaniels ever was.  Your team is facing 4th and 6 from the other team's 25.  Or maybe it's 4th and 9 from the 18.  Or maybe it's 4th and 4 from the 32.  Are you going to spend more than a second thinking about going for it there due to Bill's rule?  I mean, if it existed and I were a coach, I'd probably start going for every 4th and 2 or less inside my 15 during the first three quarters of the game.  And that's about it.  How in the world would it change your strategy in a close game in the 4th quarter?  Even on 4th and inches from the 5, any sane coach is still kicking the FG if it's a tie game, or they're down by 1 or 2.  Probably if they're down by 3 as well.

I'll concede that it might inspire more coaches to go for the knockout blow; i.e., if you're facing 4th and inches from the 5 and you're up 2 with a minute to play, might make more sense to go for the TD to end the game than to get a 5 point lead and give the other team the ball around their own 35.  But still, come on man.  You're dumb.

Let's apply the revamped rules to a game situation. 


It's Sunday night and San Diego is playing Philly. 


The Eagles are trailing by four points with seven minutes to play. They're on San Diego's 22-yard line. It's fourth-and-four. If they make the field goal, they're still trailing by one, and they have to kick off from their own 25 (conceivably, giving San Diego excellent field position to finish off the game). But if they get the first down? Better chance of scoring the go-ahead touchdown coupled with an overwhelming chance of a touchback kickoff (and San Diego starting their next drive from their own 20).

Yeah, sort of makes things interesting when a team is down between four and eight points in that situation.  Doesn't change a damn thing with any other margin.

So what would Andy Reid do? (Thinking.) Well, he'd waste a timeout to think about it —

That's fine, but I liked my McDaniels joke better.

and if he could waste a timeout by challenging the previous play, then spend a second timeout to think about fourth down, even better. 

You had it, then you lost it.

Then he'd probably decide on kicking a field goal because that would be the dumbest move. Then we could poke fun at him the next day for the entire sequence. See what I mean? We need more decisions in football; there's just no downside. 

The downsides are that you're effectively getting rid of onside kicks after a team scores a TD, and also fixing what isn't broken in a moronically complex way that will ultimately have little effect on anything.

We win anytime Andy Reid, Norv Turner, Mike Smith or whoever has to make a decision with multiple variables in the spur of the moment.

Onion headline for this:  Mouthbreathing idiot enjoys idiocy of other idiots in other professions

Q: Any chance we can get Bobby V. to make some pro-Castro comments sometime soon?

— @sethrobbins77 (via twitter)

God, Red Sox fans are such cunts that they almost make me want Valentine to be successful.

SG: Good one. 


You got me thinking about Boston's equivalent sore spot to pro-Castro comments in Miami — what's the one thing Bobby V could say that would potentially get him driven out of town?

I think we all know some things Bobby could say that would make Boston real upset.  I'm not going to say what they are, I'm just saying we all know what they are.  Joel Ward.

It could go one of two routes. Either he'd have to make the following 10 points in the SAME interview …

[list of 10 things that would make Valentine totally awesome if he said them]

OR …

He'd have to answer a question about Boston's busing riots in 1974 by saying something like, "I know that stuff happened almost 40 years ago, but I don't care — I'll always believe Boston is a racist city and you'll never be able to tell me differently." Every city has one sore spot. For Miami, it's Castro. For Boston, it's the racism thing.

That's a great parallel.  Lots of people in Miami hate Castro so you can really piss them off if you compliment him, and lots of people in Boston are racist so you can really piss them off if you point that out.

Q: Billy, how come you didn't do a post Super Bowl mailbag when you're supposed to do a post Super Bowl mailbag? My husband cannot fucking throw the ball and do a mailbag at the same time!

— Gisele, Boston

Hope that person was a Giants fan trolling him, although it's totally possible that it's some jackoff Patriots fan continuing to try to blame Welker for Brady's bad throws.

SG: Gisele just reminded me of something: If there was ever a week for Tom Brady to give an interview and say, "You know, I'm 35 years old, I'm at the tail end of my prime, I don't know how many years I have left here … man, I wish we'd stop rolling over these no. 1 picks to next year's draft and just bring in a couple of blue-chippers once and for all," isn't this the week? 

Like Belichick gives a shit about Brady's legacy.  He might not even know Brady's name.  MUMBLEROBBLE HEY QUARTERBACK!  YOU!  NUMBER 12!

Speaking of aging superstars facing the tail end of their primes …


Q: What are the odds that Kobe isn't really hurt, just sitting out the last few games because he doesn't want to lose the scoring title?

— Crooney, Miami

SG: Are you crazy? Don't you realize that every time Kobe misses a game, he thinks to himself, I just lost 29 more career points? I wouldn't be surprised if his office at home has a wall covered with some sort of Beautiful Mind–type scribbling that calculates in great detail every single scoring checkpoint he needs to hit from now until 2018 to catch Kareem. Kobe cares about two things and two things only: winning a sixth ring (to tie MJ) and breaking that scoring record (which would make him immortal, and he knows it). Don't let anyone tell you differently.

Surprisingly non-bitter answer.  He tried to make "he cares a ton about winning another championship and obtaining the all time scoring title" sound like a backhanded compliment, but unfortunately for him, it's just a regular old compliment.

Q: I already saw it as I commuted into the office at 8:00 am … I could sense it as I popped up out of the State Street stop … the abnormal warmth, the pep in the step of the women who passed by, the smiles … today is the day! it's "Halter Top Day!!! Expected high of 87 on Marathon Monday … a bevy of beautiful women roaming the city in sun dresses or booty shorts and yes halter tops! Will there be sunbathing in Columbus park and the Common? Oh yes, because in this year of 2012 remember April 16th as Halter Top Day in Boston!

— Brandon, Boston

Only super old dudes are allowed to say shit like that.  Unless you're over 85, step in front of the first moving cement mixer you see.

SG: The greatest Boston day (Patriots' Day) merged with the second-greatest Boston day (Halter Top Day)???? And the Red Sox lost??? How could the Red Sox lose on Halter Top Patriots' Day???? We're headed for 72-90, I'm convinced.

It's a patented triple non-reverse double jinx!  I'd laugh harder, but I get the impression he really feels like these things work.  He's like the 9 year old kid who thinks his favorite team wins or loses because he did or didn't wear his lucky hat.

That's enough for tonight, my blood pressure is plenty high already.  Will try to finish this off later in the week.  What's that, you say?  There's more?  Of course there is!  There's yet another love letter to Steve Nash, a disaster of an answer related to The Hunger Games, and--you're never going to believe this--a breakdown of whether or not Bill and the Sports Gal are planning on having another kid!  Try to contain your exuberance.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Mailbag? More like mailBAD, Part 1

Bill published it.  I promised a writeup.  And only four days late, you're getting just that.  Actually you're getting part of just that.  I didn't make it all the way through.  And I just read his "25 best storylines of the NBA playoffs" article and it's a fucking garbagecluster so now I've eventually got to do a writeup of that.  Jesus, life down here in this basement is tough.

/eats family sized bag of Sun Chips, falls asleep in front of TV blaring infomercials

When I heard about the "Fenway 100" anniversary celebration before Friday's Red Sox–Yankees game, my guard went flying up at the speed of a vintage Pedro fastball. See, we went from having neglectful owners (the 1970s) to incompetent owners (the 1980s and 1990s) to opportunistic owners who transformed the franchise (in a good way — we won two titles) while scraping every possible penny of profit out of their investment, to the point that Yaz was probably afraid to come to Fenway today because he didn't want to be murdered, chopped up and turned into commemorative Yaz-flavored kielbasa pieces for $499.95 per bite. 

In other words your team had a series of owners who were exactly like most other owners of their generation.  Neglectful, incompetent, intensely profit-focused: like 99% of all current owners can be described by at least one of those.  (Exception: Mark Cuban, who is intensely profit-focused in everything else he does so that he doesn't have to be with the Mavericks.)  WE AHHHH SPECIAL!  THINGS AH DIFFERENT HERE AND YOU WOULD NOT UNDAHSTAND!  WE HAVE SUFFAHED MO-AH THAN YOU HAVE, CLEVELAND!  No really he made that argument once.

The thought of a "Fenway 100" celebration made me nervous.

That's one of the stupidest things I've ever read.  Even the world's shittiest owners can put on a good ceremony if iconic players are in attendance.  Hell, Bill wrote a great article like a month ago about that very event happening at a Golden State Warriors game.  I mean, the owner in question was mercilessly booed, but people still went nuts for the iconic player.  It's not like that kind of thing is going to get screwed up.

And then the players came pouring out on the field, one after the other, and … well …

I mean …

What can you say? 

"My team has been around for a long time, so it's not too surprising that they have some legendary players.  And that those players took a day from doing nothing to show up for this.  Neat."

What can you say when every checkpoint from your entire life happens to be huddled as one big mass of Red Sox jerseys in the only hometown park you ever had? 

" (those are ditto marks)

There were Fisk, Rice, Pedro, Big Mo, Nomar, Remy, Rico … it was like a 35-man tie for "Guy I Was Most Excited to See Again." Even better, they invited everybody, so for every childhood hero, there was also a Mike Stenhouse, a Shag Crawford, even a Steve Lomasney. I ended up getting greedy and being bummed out that El Guapo and Freddie Lynn didn't show up. Talking about it with my father later, he mentioned the moment when Fisk, Yaz and Rice helped out with the first pitch — how he couldn't help but notice that Freddie Lynn was missing, how there was something fitting about Lynn not being there for that moment, either.

"He never should have left Fenway," my dad said for the 10,257th time. "Perfect park for him. He would have made the Hall of Fame if he stayed."

Lynn was a lefty who had a reputation for hitting the ball to the opposite field well, so Fenway was probably a good place for him.  Then again, he nearly broke his back slamming into the Green Monster during the 1975 World Series.  And then again again, if you're the kind of player who can only make the HOF if you play half your games in a specific ballpark, you are probably not a HOFer at all.

We have been having the same conversation about Freddie Lynn since I was 13. He should have stayed. These are the things you think about when your entire life is flashing before your eyes. Football is more popular, basketball is more marketable, hockey is more exciting, soccer means more throughout the world. But baseball has a way of making you think about everything that ever happened to you, every conversation you ever had, every place you ever lived, everything. I saw Millar and thought of standing in the tunnel at Fenway in Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS, when he was drawing that walk against Rivera. 

I should go back and do some research on that story of Bill's, but why the hell was he not in his seat?  Seems likely that he was trying to beat the crowd out of the ballpark if the game had ended with a Yankees win.  Classic Bill.

I saw Yaz and thought about him popping that ball up against Gossage, seeing it coming down, praying for a miracle that wouldn't come. I saw Pedro and thought of those precious nights at Fenway when he'd give up his first hit and the crowd would collectively sigh, as in, "Damn, I'm not seeing a no-hitter tonight." I saw Mo and thought about that hideous strike season, a year after I had moved back to Boston, when Big Mo was the only Red Sox player worth seeing. I saw Nomar and thought about how, once upon a time, it was Nomar, then A-Rod, then Jeter (in that order). 

There was never a time when it was that.  Not any onces upon any times.

I saw Remy and Rice and thought about the time Remy blew out his knee and Rice had to carry him back to the dugout, and I saw Evans and thought about the time he got beaned in the Seattle game and my dad and I thought he was dead. I saw Fisk and thought about that first White Sox game when he came back and rammed it right between our eyes.

I didn't see Freddie Lynn, and that mattered, too. So did the fact that I didn't even realize Clemens was missing until about 20 minutes after the ceremony. 

But please, tell us: how will you look back on that moment 10 years from now?  And how will you look back on the 10 years from the moment when you looked back on the ceremony 10 years after that?

All of this mattered. All of it. The Red Sox have been screwing just about everything up lately, but today wasn't one of those times. Let's hope that ceremony doesn't end up being the highlight of the 2012 season.

If the rest of us are lucky, it'll be outdone by a full-fledged dugout brawl between Valentine and Youkilis as Carl Crawford attempts to burn Fenway to the ground.

Q: I'm turning 30 and the only thing I want for my birthday is a new mailbag. The only thing. 

You're either super rich or super worthy of being shot into deep space.

I even told my fiance not to worry about giving me a gift. I hope you can come through for me, for all of us.

— Jana Fischer, Boise, ID

SG: I don't know, Jana. Lots of people turn 30. 

Like my dad, this one time!  Let me tell you about it!

I need a little more prodding.

It's astonishing: the more popular he gets (to the extent that it can be quantified, I would guess that he's currently more popular than he's ever been due to the relative success of Grantland), the more he needs to make sure everyone knows how popular he is.  That's not a hallmark of an insecure person or anything though.

Q: When a soon to be Holy Cross freshman is getting action in a 1966 Driver's Ed class on episode of TV's best show (Mad Men), I think that means it is time for a mailbag. Given that it is Holy Cross, it wasn't co-ed yet and that it was before the "free love" era, what are the odds that was the best that guy was going to do until he got back home next summer?
— John, Dunwoody, GA

SG: The odds are lower than you think. My dad went to Holy Cross in the late-'60s [rest of answer deleted because ZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzz]


Q: It's 4/20 on Friday. You almost always write Fridays and you have owed us a mailbag for weeks. Also half your audience will get high before they read that mailbag anyway. Do I have to spell this out for you Simmons? 4/20 MAILBAG!

SG: OK, now we're talking. I'm almost convinced. I'm on the brink.

Guarantee you that guy is super annoying to get high with.  MG, I mean.  But yeah also Bill.

Q: Sports guy. Deployed in Kuwait right now. Entering the 2-3 month point when you realize your life is depressing. How do you feel about a mailbag? I'm begging.
— Andrew Gerry, Udairi, Kuwait

SG: Now that's a good reason for a mailbag! Stay safe out there, Andrew. As always, these are actual questions from actual readers.

That's some good 21st century corporate PR material.  I support soldiers!  Everyone likes that, right?  Next mailbag Bill will bend over backwards to make sure everyone is aware that he is aware of breast cancer.

Q: Now that Dwight is out for the season, how likely is it that The Ewing Theory will soon become The Howard Theory?

— Kyle, Toronto, Ontario

SG: It's a perfect storm: You have the possibly overhyped superstar who never won anything; everyone writing off his team for the playoffs; a group of players who probably weren't crazy about becoming part of Howard's soap opera these past few months; a first-round matchup against a totally unproven Pacers team; and a coach who'd love nothing more than to shove it to the guy who wanted him out all season. The Ewing Theory Committee is on high alert. 

The best part about the Ewing theory, besides the fact that it's ridiculous bullshit fueled entirely by confirmation bias, is that the 1999 Knicks won a whole like three more playoff games after he got injured before losing to the Spurs in the Finals.  Not that their playoff run wasn't impressive or anything, but I just like that if (God forbid) you need to explain it to someone who's never heard of it, you end up saying "Well the Knicks made the conference finals with Ewing, then he got hurt, then they won the conference finals, then they lost in the next round.  And then the following year, with him back in the lineup, they made it back to the conference finals.  So as you can see, they were way better off without him.  Oh and also, here's the REAL proof: they've won a whole zero playoff series since his final season with them in 2000."  If you get all the way through that without the other person punching you or walking away, the nonplussed look on their face will be worth 1000 words.

Couldn't you see Orlando making, like, 20 of 35 3s in Game 1 or Game 2, then doing the same thing in Game 3, followed by Indiana getting tight and everyone saying, "Wait a second, Orlando can't actually win this series without Dwight, right????" More important …

He got the part about Indiana playing like crap and looking tight right.  The part about Orlando playing well, not so much.  I still think Pacers in 6.

Q: With Howard out for the Olympics, Stiemsma has to take his spot right?
— @bobfuton (via Twitter)

SG: Look, Greg Stiemsma already went from never averaging 12 minutes a game for a Big Ten school to averaging 20 minutes a game as a valuable backup big man for an NBA title contender. You're really telling me that "Greg Stiemsma, Gold Medalist, USA" is far-fetched at this point?

And it might be wishful thinking, but I'm also holding out hope for Hawks in 5.  Might take them 6 though.

Anyway, I'm glad Mr. Futon brought this up because I spent the morning freaking out about our gold-medal chances. Here are the nine definites for Team USA …

[long breakdown of the likely US roster, highlighting uncertainties with big men and the fact that Spain can throw both Gasols and Serge Ibaka at us]

In all seriousness, here's what we should actually do. First, we send Kobe, LeBron, Wade, Coach K and Durant to KG's Malibu house right after the Finals. They deliver the following message:

"We're looking for Andrew Bynum's place, do you have his address?"

We only need you for TWO games. You're going to be using the summer to stay in shape, anyway — what better way to stay in shape than a few weeks of July practices against the best players in the world in Vegas? From there, we'll go to London and stick you in a fire extinguisher case for the preliminaries — "ONLY BREAK IF YOU REALLY NEED KG." You can cheer on the guys, F-bomb our opponents from the bench, scream encouragement like a lunatic and do KG things. 

A couple weeks back I was thinking to myself that pretty much everyone I know who uses the "[Person] is doing [Person] things!" bit is obnoxious.  Well, lookie there.

Then, we'll bring you out for the medal games against France and Spain. You can finally get revenge on Pau Gasol for the 2010 Finals when you were playing on one leg. You can win a gold medal and add to your legacy. And by the way? WE NEED YOU. Win this with us.

No way Garnett turns them down. 

Garnett turns 36 in a few weeks.  I watched every minute of the Hawks/Celtics game earlier this evening; he played like he was 56.  In that column I posted about last week, Simmons gushed and oohed and ahhed about Garnett's midseason bounceback.  Here's the thing: the only reason he achieved a bounceback in March is because he was playing like dogshit in December and January.  Dude isn't one of the 12 best American basketball players right now.  He's not close.  He might not be one of the 12 best American big men.  Christ.  I'd rather have Javale McGee on the Olympic team.  YES I SAID IT AND I SORT OF MEAN IT.  I don't know which is more preposterous--this KG idea, or the idea that an objective person at any point, ever, could have preferred NOMAH to Fish Fillet-Rod.  They're both stupefyingly outrageous.

Q: How long do you think it will take for Bill O'Brien to get the "old person smell" out of his office?

— Mike P, Philly

SG: (Afraid to say anything.)

Ah, yet another Simmons reader writing C+ jokes that get published because most of Bill's own material is more in the C-/D+ range.

Q: Is it me or is Kill Frank Gore's Head going to be the most popular team name in fantasy next year?

— Butter, West Palm Beach

It's you, you fucking prong.

SG: Absolutely. I'm also excited for the obligatory terrible metal rock song with the chorus, "KILL THE HEAD (AND THE BODY WILL DIE)!!! KILL THE HEAD (AND THE BODY WILL DIE)!!!" 

Like I said, C-/D+ range.

That reminds me, where was the WWE during this Gregg Williams saga? How did they not create a wrestling manager/Williams parody who keeps "crossing the line," offers bounties for his wrestlers to injure other wrestlers, stirs up an ongoing moral dilemma and comes out to the entrance song, "Kill the Head (and the Body Will Die)"? How long do we have to wait?


Q: How is Grantland not reviewing Jennifer Love Hewitt's new show The Client List? 

Get Klosterman on the red phone!  Sports fans who don't actually enjoy sports are clamoring for some analysis of The Client List!

It is female porn. There are so many guys with six pack abs that all need Jennifer to "massage" them in all the right places. Insecure men leaving their women. Overdone Texas stereotypes. Please get someone on this show asap.

— Jeffrey, Austin

Please go live in the woods somewhere and stop bothering people.  (Credit to Don Rickles)

SG: Done and done. We're launching a weekly "Hate Watching: The Client List" recap post next week on our Hollywood Prospectus blog. 

Reading that sounds about as worthwhile as watching The Client List.

Q: When the 8-seeded Kings took a 3-0 lead on the Canucks, I was reminded of how little advantage Vancouver received for their amazing regular season. 

For their hard work, the Canucks received home ice advantage throughout the playoffs and the easiest road possible to the Finals.  That's plenty.  Say what you will about the virtues of having eight teams in each conference make the playoffs, but if you start with that as a given, the Presidents Trophy winner has a pretty sweet deal.  Better deal than the NBA's best regular season team gets; they don't get the benefit of reseeding for the second round.  I don't want to ask you to think too far outside the box, but when you were eating those paint chips and pondering home ice advantage, maybe what you should have been reminded of is that the Canucks aren't that good when only one of the Sedins is playing and that Jonathan Quick is a monster.

Here's a dramatic and controversial plan that could keep ESPN's talking heads busy for weeks. I call it "Game 8." It's simple and beautiful. The 1 and 2 seeds only need to win 4 out of 7 as usual, but the low seeds need to win 5 games total. How do we do this? They could win 5-0, 5-1 or 5-2 in a normal 7-game series. But, if the low seed is leading 4 games to 3? The sportstalkopalyse: Game 8. At the high seed's home arena. Winner take all. 

Fuck it, why stop there?  If Game 8 is tied after regulation, there's no overtime... WE GO STRAIGHT TO GAME 9.  AND REPLACE THE PUCK WITH A BOUNCY BALL.  Yeah, you know what I've been thinking while watching this year's playoffs?  Game 7 just isn't fair enough.  We need to tweak that a little.

What a fucking jackass.  How could he make this email worse?

As you say: Who says no?

And there you have it.

— Brent T., Los Gatos, CA

SG: Let's be honest: The only hockey-related ideas that "could keep ESPN's talking heads busy for weeks" would be Tebow, Peyton or LeBron signing with an NHL team. 

Hoo hoo!  THERE'S some decent material from Bill!  All you have to do to get him to be mildly funny is get him riled up about his employer!

Anyway, I like the spirit of your idea but don't agree with the execution — the no. 1 seed shouldn't have to play an extra playoff game. 


I'd rather see the NBA, NHL and MLB adopt the following idea: give no. 1 seeds an extra home game in Round 1. In baseball, change Round 1 to a 2-1-2 format; in basketball and hockey, change it to a 2-2-3 format. 

That's pretty dumb, although certainly less dumb than 95% of the changes he proposes.  Seems like a good spot to take a breather.  More tomorrow (no for reals).

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Larry B finally posts about Tim Tebow finally tweeting to Philip Humber

Big thanks to the anonymous/Anonymous who left this link in the comments to the last post.  That's a more or less foolproof way to make sure I'm aware of any sportswriting dumbfuckery you seven readers stumble across.  I check the account about once every three months (give or take), but I check the comments to my most recent post about once every 15 minutes because I'm an insecure, self-centered twat.  So cheers to you, a/Anonymous.

Chicago White Sox pitcher Philip Humber finally received a tweet from New York Jets quarterbackTim Tebow on Saturday.

I love the editorialist insertion of "finally" by this writer.  "Tim Tebow uses the internet to get in touch with Philip Humber" is a completely and utterly worthless story based on facts.  "Tim Tebow uses the internet to get in touch with Philip Humber AND IT'S ABOUT FUCKING TIME" is a completely and utterly worthless opinion piece based on facts.  Way more infuriating.

All Humber had to do was throw a perfect game.

Finally!  A plan to get Tebow's attention that really works!  /stops picketing abortion clinic, walks home with chin on chest as sad Charlie Brown music plays

"Congrats @Philip_Humber on accomplishing one of the greatest feats in all of sports! #PerfectGame," Tebow tweeted.


"Tim Tebow tweeted me," Humber said Monday on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000. "The funny thing about that is I tweeted him this offseason, and of course he's Tim Tebow and I'm Philip Humber ... compared to him I'm a nobody, but I didn't get a response. I was like, 'Aw man,' I was kind of hoping he'd tweet me back or something.'"


Tebow was soliciting a $1 donation toward the Tebow Foundation children's hospital in the Philippines. Humber retweeted it on Nov. 29 and replied: "I'm heading to Philippines next week with a group of baseball guys... Making a stop in Mindanao! God bless."

And really, I shit you not, this goes on for like another ten sentences.  They talk about a different time that Humber tweeted Tebow, and then surprise, bitch!  Justin Verlander and Mark Buehrle make cameo appearances.  All in all I'd say this is the most worthless article in the history of sportswriting except that I hesitate to call it an article.  It's really more like a half page featurette that belongs in a gossip magazine, accompanied by big shiny photos and flashy graphics.  

Real post covering Simmons's mailbag coming tomorrow.  In the meantime, keep in mind that to win in the NHL playoffs, you need more Ryan Clowes and fewer Dustin Penners.

PS as I'm writing this Sportscenter is doing a slow motion/freeze frame analysis of Mark Sanchez trying (unsuccessfully) to dunk during Knicks/Clippers warmups at Madison Square Garden.  The Worldwide Leader in Sports, people.  Savor it while it lasts.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Followup from yesterday

I spent hours--LITERALLY hours--on that post. OK, fine, I literally spent one hour on it. But there was some great stuff I missed. Let's go to the tape.

Angelo points out how asinine this is:

The last two Bird-McHale-Parish efforts ('91 and '92, two severely underrated teams) fell short because the Legend just couldn't stay healthy.

The Celtics won it all in 1986. In 1987 they lost in the Finals to some team from the BEST coast. In 1988 they lost to a rising Detroit team in the conference finals. In 1989 Bird was hurt all year and they failed to win a single playoff game (as the 8 seed). In 1990 Bird was healthy and playing mostly like his old self... and they still didn't make it out of the first round. In both 1991 and 1992 Bird missed some time, and they eventually won a single series before bowing out. So let's total it up: 1987 to 1992: six seasons, three with a healthy Bird, two with a somewhat healthy Bird, seven playoff series won. In other words, a fading and later irrelevant team with a fading superstar.

To hear Simmons tell the story out of context, those last two Bird teams could have been contenders if only Bird had been 100%! SEVERELY UNDERRATED, which is what Klosterman thinks actually makes them a little bit overrated. Is your brain exploding right now? Well I hope you're sitting down for this part: there might have been a little problem standing in the way of the 1991 and 1992 Celtics even if Bird had been at 100%. Yeah, that guy and his team that went 30-9 in those two playoffs might have had a little something to say about Basketball Jesus and his creaky teammates had they crossed paths. In 1991, the Detroit team that bounced Boston in six games couldn't get a single game off the Bulls. In 1992, the Cleveland team that ousted Boston in seven only took Chicago six.

Chris W figuratively jumps on this pile of garbage:

What about Doc finally (and belatedly, but whatever) figuring out the value of a locked-in playing rotation? Even when they won the 2008 title, Doc was routinely playing 11 guys in one half — he just couldn't grasp the concept of "stick to eight or nine guys, make sure everyone knows their minutes, don't deviate from this"

Bill's right--during the 2008 playoffs Rivers ran a ten man rotation. But just because it worked that one time doesn't mean it was a good tactic, right? And if Bill says eight is the way to go, it's the way to go, right? Oh shit. Well fuck. Seems like Doc might have already heard that one somewhere. That's not to say running ten deep would be the right thing to do this year, given their injury issues. I'm sure no Celtics fan wants to see Marquis Daniels or E'Twaun Moore getting minutes in the playoffs. I just find it funny that the Celtics won a title giving minutes to every guy on the roster, then switched to a tighter rotation and failed to win again the following three seasons (including two pretty disappointing second round losses), and now Bill is thrilled that circumstance has forced Rivers into running a tight rotation this year. CHAMPIONSHIP SECURED. NOW TO PLAN THE PARADE ROUTE.

I hope the Celtics get swept in the first round, then dismantle their team, then TD Garden burns to the ground. And while we're sort of on the subject, fuck the Bruins with a rusty tetherball pole.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A hilarious love letter to the 10th best team in the NBA

Bill Simmons to the Celtics: DRAW ME LIKE ONE OF YOUR FRENCH GIRLS!

You know what happens when you're rooting for a creaky but lovable basketball contender?

DUH- you write articles full of ridiculous nonsense about them because you're convinced that they're special and different and definitely not destined to get swept out of the second round of the playoffs by the Bulls or Heat (should they get past the first round).

You relish the big victories. All of them. Every single one.

You're not like OTHER fans. You're a fan's fan. You appreciate winningness.

You know the season could collapse at any time, and you're perfectly aware that a torn meniscus, calf tear or herniated disk might sucker punch your season when you least expect it. It's a little liberating, actually. Your expectations are low because you shouldn't expect anything at all.

And yet you keep in mind that it's important to tweet like a petulant child when your team gets bounced out of the playoffs.

And with that said … I actually expected the Celtics to prevail in Miami last night. I really did. Had you told me as recently as six weeks ago, "The Celtics are going to win in Miami in mid-April, and by the way, you will expect it to happen," I would have assumed that LeBron and Wade had crashed on Bobby Petrino's motorcycle or something.


Miami IN Miami? No way.

They've got nearly as formidable a home court advantage as the Grizzlies!

How did we get here? It wasn't that long ago that the great Bob Ryan described Boston's situation as "Year Five of a Three-Year Plan."

For a Bob Ryan line, that's pretty great.

A five-game losing streak had dropped the C's to a measly 15-17, as a-hole writers like myself were grabbing shovels and burying the team.

Boston writers/fans pointing in the direction the wind is blowing w/r/t one of their teams? Now I've heard it all. Fortunately Simmons learned how to be more levelheaded from that experience though, and now sees the Celtics for what they are--an aging team with no depth and no shot at the Finals. *record scratch* Wait, what?

With trade rumors swirling around All-Star Rajon Rondo — planted by other teams hoping to cause chemistry problems and drive down his price, by the way —


the Celtics won three straight, then throttled the Knicks on a Sunday ABC home game

As I type this, the Knicks are putting the finishing touches on an eight point win over the Celtics that wasn't nearly that close.

that we'll always remember

I forget the blog I was reading that pointed out how oddly obsessed Simmons is with speculating about how we will one day look back on insignificant things that are currently happening, but man, they were spot on.

as Rondo's "Look, You're Not Effing Trading Me, You'd Be Insane" game (18 points, 20 assists, 17 rebounds). The next two weeks were fairly fascinating:

MESMERIZING. The world's eyes were squarely trained on Big Papi Nation. Moreso than usual, Earth's 7 billion inhabitants spent their days and nights wondering what was going on in THE HUB.

The Celtics hoping to rebuild around Rondo and cap space, while steadfastly refusing to give away their valuable veterans.

I can't believe the media had time to focus on anything else! Republican primaries? Recovering economy? Civil war in Syria? WHO CARES, THE CELTICS ARE THINKING ABOUT MAKING A COUPLE TRADES

Before the Clippers game at Staples, less than three days before the deadline, I spent 25 minutes talking to Ainge and fellow BYU grad Michael Smith, now a broadcaster for the Clippers. It was becoming more and more clear that Ainge should keep the team intact; the day before, they played extremely well in a last-minute Lakers loss, and it's not like anyone in the East was pulling away from them. Making the decision easier: Nobody was offering anything decent for Pierce (owed $32 million total in 2013 and 2014) or Garnett (whose $21 million cap figure made it near impossible just to match salaries in a trade). Allen's expiring contract and crunch-time pedigree made him more appealing, but no contender had the right assets to pursue him. At one point, Smith brought up a young player who could, conceivably, have been the centerpiece of an Allen trade. Danny just started laughing."We're not trading Ray Allen for [the player's last name]," Danny said. "Come on! It's Ray Allen!"

This man is in charge of one of the most valuable and respected franchises in the league. To his credit, the Garnett/Allen trades worked out swimmingly. To his detriment, he's still obviously a huge fucking toolshed.

[400 words of Simmons wearing Ainge as as hat omitted]

Anyway, I left our conversation thinking that Danny honestly didn't know how the deadline would play out. Chatting with Wyc Grousbeck a few minutes later, the Celtics' owner seemed similarly confused. Why break these guys up without a really good reason? What's the point?

My thoughts right now exactly--why include any of this in this article? The point?

After the Celtics played a superb game against the Clippers, I came to my own conclusion: "The Celtics are what they are: old, proud, stubborn and (mostly) fun to watch simply because they know each other so well … Leave them alone and the 2012 Boston Celtics will go down swinging. That's all we know, and frankly, that's good enough for me." I flew to Oakland for the Warriors game two nights later, if only because the trade deadline was the following day, and, I mean … not to sound corny, but you never know with this stuff. If this happened to be the last night for the Pierce/Rondo/Garnett/Allen foursome, I wanted to be there.

Bill Simmons, everyman. Regular old John Q. Public. Just a fan like the rest of us. ALSO, DAMMIT DONALD STERLING, YOU RAISED PRICES ON MY SEASON TICKETS BY 6% LAST YEAR! THAT'S FOUR MEALS AT SPAGO, DOWN THE DRAIN!

They prevailed by two behind another throwback KG game (24 points, 11-of-15 shooting), which made little sense because Garnett looked salad-fork-in-the-back-finished as recently as January. I remember when Bird's body broke down (a four-year spiral that started during the '88 Detroit series and crested in the 1992 playoffs, when he could barely move), when McHale's ankles slowly betrayed him (1991), when Parish just couldn't fight off younger leapers anymore (1993). You usually know with these things. You just do.

Unless you're proven wrong, which you usually are. In which case, you'll later point out that really, you knew the opposite of what you knew all along.

And I would have wagered anything that Garnett was more finished than Desperate Housewives.


Guys were jumping over him (shades of Parish), his jumper was flat, and worst of all, he looked absolutely miserable. Like he didn't want to play basketball anymore.

Just like Greg Oden looked that time Bill saw him for four seconds at the ESPYs and used those four seconds to flawlessly predict the future!

Even during his signature staredown/pointing routine before tip-offs at home games, you never felt like his heart was totally in it.

WEEI listeners are writing that one down so they can call in and use it on various Red Sox players throughout the summer.

When his game inexplicably rebounded in February (17.6 PPG, 9.3 RPG, 54% shooting), everyone attributed it to Rivers moving him to center. News flash: Garnett had been playing center since the Perkins trade. Everyone was just pretending otherwise for KG's sake. He's weird about this stuff. It's the same reason Garnett likes to be listed at 6-foot-11 when he's really 7-foot-1, or Tim Duncan always wants to be listed as a forward even though he's been playing center for the past seven years. You don't ask questions with big men; you just do whatever it takes to keep them happy.

Guards, though, guards you can fuck with. Well known fact from the universe of facts Bill Simmons has made up.

You know what really fueled Garnett's resurgence? He's a competitive MF'er. That's really it.

HE'S SOUTHIE TOUGH! What has fueled Andrew Bynum's strong play during the past couple of weeks? Simmons: "STEROIDS, PROBABLY."

The lockout ended, he couldn't get going those first few weeks … and then, suddenly, the "KG is done" talk started, and even worse, opponents started treating him differently. They stared him down after dunks, talked shit to him, accorded him little to no respect.

Strange, considering all the sportsmanship he's demonstrated over the years.

He probably remembered doing the same to Patrick Ewing, Derrick Coleman, Chris Webber or whomever

or pretty much everyone

over the years and thought to himself, I'm not ready to be That Guy yet. The flame started flickering again. As he told WEEI's Paul Flannery two weeks ago, "I hear you all calling me old. I hear you calling me, um, older. Weathered. I'm motivated. It don't really take much to motivate me, man. I'm older in basketball years, but in life I'm thirtysomething."

Jamie Moyer will have what he's having.

The trade deadline passed with Rondo reinvested and Garnett reenergized. You know who else stuck around? The second-leading scorer in Celtics history, Paul Pierce, who stunk in February (16.4 PPG, 39.5% FG) and inadvertently murdered his own trade value.

Every season Simmons accuses four or five players of intentionally playing like shit before the deadline to sabotage their own trade value. Couldn't have been the case with Captain Knifehole though. As Simmons already pointed out, he had no trade value in the first place given his atrocious contract situation.

Remember when New Jersey's bid for Dwight Howard fell through, then they panicked and swapped a top-three protected 2012 pick to Portland for Gerald Wallace, and everyone said, "Wait a second, why would someone give up a top-three protected pick for the third-best player on a sub-.500 team?" Not reported at the time: New Jersey could have landed Pierce for that same pick, only they chose Wallace because he was a full five years younger.

Danny Ainge would never have done that! Instead he'd have paid Shaq to unretire so Shaq could re-retire as a Celtic!

Little did they know no. 34 was slowly morphing into Paul Pierce again: In 23 games since March 2, he's averaging a 22-6-3 with 46/38/85 shooting splits and looking no different than the Pierce from 2008-11. If you're scoring at home, suddenly Pierce, Rondo AND Garnett were playing their best basketball again. But this still-creaky Celtics team wouldn't have morphed into a contender without three other developments.

1. Simmons wearing his lucky Welker jersey during every game
2. The Ewing theory, somehow

1. The league's six best perimeter defenders right now, in some order, are LeBron, Tony Allen, Andre Iguodala, Shawn Marion, Iman Shumpert and … (drumroll please) … Avery Bradley. You might remember me writing on February 10 that "I watched Trick or Treat Tony for the first five years of his career. I watched [Bruce] Bowen for the first three years of his career. Bradley is just as good of a one-on-one defender as they were at the same point in their careers. All Bradley needs to do is learn how to shoot corner 3s and he'll have a 15-year NBA career and play a significant role for at least one contender. I swear, I'm not going Heinsohn on you."

"Also, fuck the fucking Celtics! I never liked them anyways! Pitchers and catchers report next week!"

So the defense wasn't a shock.But when those jumpers started going in? That was a shock. Doc started playing him. Everything snowballed. Avery started driving to the basket and making plays. Celtics diehards started glancing at each other and saying, "Wait a second, is Avery Bradley good or am I crazy?"

Then they collectively willed the Celtics to home victory after home victory by being the most smartest and knowledgeable fans in the whole BOOOOO KOBE BOOOOO YOU FACKIN' [horribleness]

Near the end of March, Allen missed a few games and inadvertently transformed Bradley's career; with the kid playing 40 minutes a game, suddenly the Celtics were causing turnovers, getting easy fast-break points, locking dudes down and basically wreaking havoc. They haven't played defense like that in three years. And it's contagious. People were taking charges, switching at the perfect time, flying from the weak side to block shots … everything just snowballed.

Teams played during this stretch: Washington, Charlotte, slowly fading Utah, already completely faded Minnesota.

And it happened because of Garnett and Avery Bradley. He's for real. Do I trust the kid defending Rose or Wade in a playoff series? Yes. Yes I do. So there.

/gets bowl of popcorn, waits for Rose or Wade to drop 40 on the Celtics

2. Bradley's coming-out party can be explained — it came down to confidence and minutes. But Stiemsanity? I have no answers.


Greg Stiemsma never averaged more than 12 minutes per game in any of his four Big Ten seasons. (Seriously. Look it up.) He bounced around for four solid years after college. He looked decent in the preseason, earned the Tommy Heinsohn Seal of Approval (getting compared to Bill Russell), quickly lost his mojo and seemed headed for a low spot in the All-Time White Celtics Rankings right between Andrew DeClercq and Brett Szabo. Then, Jermaine O'Neal went down, and so did Chris Wilcox … and just like that, the Stiemer was playing 19 minutes a game, blocking shots (he's averaging two a game since the All-Star break), running the floor, making open 15-footers, taking charges, banging bodies and doing everything you'd ever want from a backup center, with the added bonus that Boston fans loved him more than horny middle-aged housewives love Fifty Shades of Grey.

Not really something to hang your hat on.

Does any of this make sense? NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! It makes no sense whatsoever!

Except for the fact that every year there are guys who come out of nowhere and become decent contributors in the right role on the right team! I think some guy who plays for the Knicks kind of also did it this year. J.J. Barea did it a few years back. If you need to compare Stiemsma to another ugly white guy, Chris Andersen.

Again, he's playing 19 minutes a game in the NBA when he never played more than 12 minutes a game in college. Did I mention that he's doing this with a badly sprained foot? And that he can't practice? And that he was wearing a walking boot for a couple of weeks? Let's just move on before we jinx Stiemsanity.

But even if something went wrong and you DID jinx him, which of course can happen, you could always do a double reverse jinx in a podcast with Seth Meyers, and then a triple security jinx via Twitter just to lock it down.

3. I already made Doc Rivers's case as "Coach of the Year" in last week's column, a moment that gave the Mayans extra conviction that 2012 is going to be their year. But you know what's been even more incredible than Bradley morphing into a young Joe Dumars,


Rondo shrugging over trade rumors and somehow raising his game,

A world class athlete felt his greatness questioned, so he elevated his level of play in response? TRULY FLABBERGASTING.

Pierce and Garnett playing like they just flew to Germany with Kobe,

THERE'S your steroids dig. Right team, wrong target.

or Stiemsanity sweeping the nation?

Just like ubuntu swept the nation in 2008! Who could forget?

What about Doc finally (and belatedly, but whatever) figuring out the value of a locked-in playing rotation? Even when they won the 2008 title, Doc was routinely playing 11 guys in one half — he just couldn't grasp the concept of "stick to eight or nine guys, make sure everyone knows their minutes, don't deviate from this" (or as Vinny Del Negro calls it, "The Opposite of What I Do"). Now, you might say Doc didn't have a choice this year — after a few putrid Danny signings,

Ainge on Jeff Green: "Come on! What could go wrong? He's Jeff Green. No, I'm not worried that he failed his physical. I'm a winner."

the Celtics have seven reliable players (Rondo, Pierce, Garnett, Allen, Bradley, Stiemsma and Brandon Bass), with three key bench guys (Jeff Green, Chris Wilcox and Jermaine O'Neal's Corpse) missing and Mickael Pietrus still recuperating from a scary concussion last month. You can't play fewer than eight guys, so Sasha Pavlovic has gotten Pietrus's "Backup Perimeter Guy" minutes by default. But here's the thing about the NBA … you only need eight guys every night.

Everyone take notes, Red Auerbach is giving a free clinic. Christ, I wouldn't trust Simmons to run a hot dog stand.

Just look at how Doc handled Tuesday night's Miami game. Pierce and Rondo played 40 minutes each; Bass played 39; the old guys (Allen and KG) played 35 and 33, respectively; Bradley played 25; Stiemsanity played 20; and Pavlovic played eight. Nobody else played. Doc never had fewer than two of the Pierce/Rondo/Allen/Garnett quartet out there at all times. With Rondo and Pierce sitting in the fourth quarter, Miami made a charge as I was muttering, "Uh-oh … Doc's going to wait two minutes too long … we're about to give this game away … " when BOOM! Doc felt the game slipping and brought back the starters at the 9:30 mark.

Really a questionable onomatopoeia choice for the act of changing your basketball team's lineup.

Allen made a backbreaking three, then Garnett headed down to Bosh's Pit and started swishing old-school KG jumpers — not one, not two, not three (copyright: LeBron), but four in a row! — and before you knew it, the Celtics were ahead by double digits again.

All Doc had to do was tell them to score on every possession! 2012 NBA Title: theirs to lose.

They never really looked back. How are they playing defense this well? Why aren't their jumpers flat anymore? Why is Rondo clicking so well with the vets again? Can they really be peaking during the most brutal part of their schedule (11 games in 15 nights)?

I'm not really sure about those answers...

Are they evolving into this year's version of the '99 Knicks, the late bloomer who meshed at the perfect time and sneaked into the Finals?

But I am about this one: NO, YOU FUCKING IDIOT! The whole reason the 1999 Knicks made the Finals was that the Eastern Conference was a joke that year! The Heat and the Bulls are abundantly better than the Celtics, regardless of how the Celtics have played the Heat this month. The only way a Heat/Celtics playoff series gets to game 6 is if Wade and LeBron forget to show up for games 4 and 5.

I'm prepared for anything.

He's not at all prepared for disappointment, but you could already tell that.

The players looked like they were drifting apart in January and February; in Miami, they were hugging and slapping palms like a team that (a) totally believed in themselves, and (b) absolutely, unequivocally believed that they were winning that game.


Now, if you're a Miami fan, you come away from that game thinking, That's a fluke loss, there's no way they can shoot 61 percent against us four times in a playoff series. And you'd be right.
There's no way the Celtics can shoot 50 percent against the Heat four times in a playoff series, so yeah, you'd be really right.

But that wasn't the lesson from that game.

Go on...

The Celtics know who they are. It's Year 5. They trust each other. They trust their coach. They trust the three newer guys, and when Pietrus comes back, they'll trust him again, too. They know where to go and what to do. They can score and get stops. They will fight. They will keep coming.

The lesson was apparently "Derpa derp derp Celtics cliche cliche derp." Got it.

What does Miami know about itself? Let's start backward. LeBron and Wade are having superb individual seasons. In the open floor, they rank among the most breathtaking combinations ever (if not no. 1 all-time), but in the half court? It's still "Dueling Banjos," something that hasn't changed since day one.

Miami: 4th in the league in offensive efficiency. Boston: 25th. Either Miami never plays in the halfcourt, or maybe, just maybe, Simmons is talking out of his asshole.

Meanwhile, poor Chris Bosh got eviscerated by Garnett last night, yet another ignominious moment for someone who had already squandered any and all "Big Three" privileges. He's just not that good.

Pierce's 19/5.5/4.5 on 43% shooting: WHAT A WARRIOR! Bosh's 18/8/2 on 49% shooting? TRASH.

Their veterans (Mike Miller, Udonis Haslem and Shane Battier) all peaked three to four years ago, especially the 33-year-old Battier (December's most overrated signing), who can't even crack 35 percent from 3 (all of them wide open, by the way).

HOLY SHIT. Three of Boston's four best players peaked five to six years ago. Wow. That is astonishing cognitive dissonance. I don't care how old Garnett is in real life human years, or whatever terminology he used in that radio interview: he's fucking old. You don't want to bet on him in May and June.

Their 2011 point guard situation is just as messy as 2011's situation; sometimes Mario Chalmers shows up, sometimes he doesn't, and their two rookie backups (Norris Cole and Terrel Harris) can't be trusted. And just last week, Erik Spoelstra benched Joel Anthony for Ronny Turiaf. Yeeesh. So if you're scoring at home, we're less than three weeks from the playoffs and Spoelstra has no idea …A. Which six guys he can trust after LeBron, Wade and (by default) Bosh. B. Which five guys should be finishing every game. Seems like two pretty big questions, no?

I suppose the Heat will just have to keep doing whatever it is that has landed them eight games in front of Boston in the standings, then.

The latest media narrative has been, "Maybe Miami should just play LeBron at point guard," something the numbers back up (especially Tuesday night's stats). Really, the narrative should be, "How the heck does this team not have an identity yet?"

A laughable life preserver of a concept for a desperate fan of a good-not-great team to cling to.

Last night, they played their butts off and STILL lost.

Never happened before in NBA history.

I remember thinking that Boston couldn't beat Miami if LeBron had one of those Mega-LeBron games — you know, 36 points, seven rebounds, seven assists, a couple of fast break dunks/blocks, a couple of 3s, some post-up moves, just one of those games when he's involved — and that's exactly what happened last night. Guess what? They still lost. We'll remember it

Good God, stop. No one is going to look back in any fashion on a non-Christmas NBA regular season game between two teams that were going to make the playoffs no matter what.

as one of the single most meaningful victories of the Three-Year Plan That Lasted Five Years:
Wait for it.

the night Boston officially threw its hat into the 2012 title race.

Sorry if Bill just made you LOL at work.

It doesn't totally make sense,

No, it makes no sense, because they didn't, and they won't, and I'll post an apology if they make the conference finals. Hell, I'll post that apology if they take the conference semifinals past game 5. I'll shut the blog down if they make the Finals. I won't even bother coming up with an imaginary thing to do if they win it all. GMAFB.

but then again, none of this makes sense. Rondo could be playing for the Hornets. Pierce could be stuck on the Nets. Doc could be announcing games with Mike Breen and Jeff Van Gundy. Bradley could still be buried on the bench. Danny could have panicked right before the deadline and had a fire sale for Garnett and Allen. It's a swollen list of "what ifs," and just about every one of them went Boston's way. At least for now. You never know with those creaky but lovable basketball contenders. We've reached this specific point six other times in Celtics history.


Russell's last two squads ('68 and '69) won consecutive titles while running on fumes. The same thing happened with the last good Havlicek-Cowens team ('76). The last two Bird-McHale-Parish efforts ('91 and '92, two severely underrated teams) fell short because the Legend just couldn't stay healthy. More recently, the 2010 squad came within Perkins's knee injury and Artest's improbable no-no-yes 3 from stealing a championship. Now, the fellas from 2012 are making a run. Nobody saw this coming. And really, that's the single best thing about it.

The best thing about it you thinking they're making a run in the first place. Bill Simmons: making the Lakers and their fans seem like a tolerable bunch of people since 2007.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

ESPN is not a meritocracy

Legitimate post coming tomorrow. In the meantime, let's all chuckle at the pumpkinheaded idiot pictured on the right:

I wanted to post a clip of his BBTN appearance from earlier this evening but I couldn't find it. All you really need to know is that he and Karl Ravech (bless that man's soul for having to deal with the Kruks and Fernando Vinas and Schillings of the world) were discussing Brian Wilson's injury, and he (Schilling) pointed out that Bruce Bochy will now have to go with a "bullpen by committee," and Ravech corrected him and pointed out that he must have meant closer by committee, and Schilling agreed and corrected himself, and then eight seconds later went right back to discussing the difficulties associated with managing a bullpen by committee. Then, asked to explain what the loss of Wilson means to the Giants, Schilling said something like

I mean, what he means is everything you just saw right there. The passion. The heart.

when in fact, the viewers had not seen anything related to Wilson leading into the segment. No highlights, no interview footage, no obnoxious Taco Bell commercial. Maybe Schilling was watching one of the above in the minutes leading up to the taping of the segment, and then assumed that all the viewers would have seen the same thing right before the segment aired? In any case, I get that doing TV journalism is probably way harder than most people think it is, but facts are facts: Curt Schilling should be strapped to a rocket and shot into deep space. Or at the very least he shouldn't be allowed on the BBTN set. Maybe let him work the ESPNNews desk between midnight and 5 AM or something.

As for my snarkity snark snark headline, I'm not saying there's anything shocking or inappropriate about the fact that ESPN pays a braindead zilcheroo like Schilling to try to talk about baseball. Just look at who gets paid to talk about football on every outlet that broadcasts it and it's easy to see that all over the sports media world, being a former player is just as useful a career advancement tool as having interesting things to say and knowing how to form complete sentences. But man... Schilling really takes the cake for being uninteresting, unlikeable, and extra stupid.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Three months after starting to follow hockey, I know way more about it than noted hockey writer Bill Simmons

That's about as noteworthy as knowing more about sabermetrics than Joe Morgan, or knowing more about hip hop than Tony Kornheiser. In fact it's no more noteworthy than knowing more than Simmons does about anything besides the NBA. Still, after reading a dogshit piece he wrote for Grantland about the Los Angeles Kings, I couldn't help but smirk. I followed the NHL back when I was in middle school, stopped for almost 15 years, picked it back up this January, and could easily recognize that Simmons was talking out of his colon. Never change, Bill. Never change.

The L.A. Kings blew a chance to clinch their division (and a no. 3 seed) Thursday night, losing a shootout at home to San Jose. Those two teams play again on Saturday night, in San Jose, with the winner getting the no. 3 seed and the loser getting the no. 7 seed. (Late note after we posted:

Leitch and Simmons are the same person! Holy shit, it makes so much sense! It's like I just finished watching Fight Club for the first time!

Apparently Phoenix can win the division as well by winning its last two games.

Late note after I wrote this: my editors informed me that I didn't have all the facts correct. There's a first time for everything, I suppose.

I'm not too concerned because, again, it's Phoenix.)

Phoenix ended up winning those games and the division.

None of this really matters because seeds don't matter in hockey -- anybody can beat anybody anywhere at anytime --

Home teams in game 7s in NHL playoff history: 85-55.

but for the die-hards sitting in my section, it mattered for two reasons.

I love his insinuation that any RATIONAL fan doesn't care whether their team is the 3 seed or the 8 seed. It's only those crazypants lunatics who actually want home ice advantage.

1. The no. 3 seed potentially means an extra playoff game (Game 7, no less). Like everyone else who bought Kings playoff tickets, I wanted that extra game. Badly.


I was rooting for the Kings like they were a Boston team last night.

Sitting in your section must be super fun.

2. I know this sounds impossible, but in 44 years, the Kings have only captured one division title. They even put up a banner in Staples Center for it. Is there a better way to prove your fans have been tortured than hanging division banners,

Lots of teams that aren't 80+ years old do that. I know it's funny to imagine franchises outside of PEDROIA NATION being excited about regular season success, but it happens.

or even worse, having one of those fans say during a game, "We need to get that banner?" (And yes, I heard someone say that last night.)

Lol what's that guy's problem? What is he, a fan?

So last night's battle against the Sharks felt like a de facto playoff game.

What a shock, considering absolutely nothing was on the line.

You can always judge the chippiness of any hockey game by the number of times after a goalie freezes the puck when an opposing forward does the "go an extra couple of feet and abruptly stops right in front of the goalie just in case the puck falls out" move, then at least one opponent whacks him in the face and they do the whole "Hey, what was that????" staredown/shoving/sarcastic swearing routine.

Hockey, explained by a nine year old pro wrestling fan.

The Kings and Sharks did that after just about every whistle.

And then dad bought us popcorn, but I spilled mine, but it was OK because then we got hot dogs.

Late in the third period, with the Kings pressing on a power play and Jarrett Stoll flying up the ice on a two-on-one, the evil Ryane Clowe (a bearded bully on the Sharks who had already scored a goal and won two fights) broke up the breakaway by deflecting the puck with this stick. This wouldn't have been a big deal except, you know, CLOWE WAS SITTING ON THE BENCH AT THE TIME!!!! Did all four referees miss him doing this? Of course they did. After the 75th time they replayed it on the video screen, everyone knew the Kings would lose because that's just how hockey works — when you get screwed over on something like that, there's no bouncing back.

"That's just how hockey works." - some asshole who is a famous sportswriter because of his super sweet Las Vegas bachelor party tips, his reality TV knowledge, and his ability to repeatedly drop the same tired references from the same five or six movies into columns that use sports as a backdrop for stories about his family

Of course, that wasn't my biggest takeaway from Thursday's game. Like always, the Kings got their asses kicked in all three fights. I grew up watching Terry O'Reilly, Stan Jonathan, John Wensink, Wayne Cashman, Al Secord and everyone else on the Big Bad Bruins, a team that fought so much, they even climbed into the MSG stands once to fight Rangers fans. The Bruins always know how to scrap; it's been that way for my entire life, and really, you couldn't have it any other way in Boston.

Last sentence sounds like it was lifted from a Dan Shaugnessy column. May you and him both contract Crohn's disease. ALSO: TOM BRADY STOPPED WINNING CHAMPIONSHIPS EVERY YEAR, SO HE'S NOT ONE OF US ANYMORE!

So it's been disorienting to watch the Kings keep getting beaten up. Thursday night, Joe Thornton pounded Drew Doughty so relentlessly that we were watching it the same way Apollo Creed's wife watched the Drago fight.

Wait, what was I just saying about repeatedly dropping in references from the same five or six movies?

Was it a coincidence that the Sharks rallied back from a 3-1 hole after winning those three fights? Maybe, maybe not.

"Was it a coincidence that the Sharks rallied back from a 3-1 hole after winning those three fights? Maybe, maybe not." - some asshole who wrote a 4000 word column about how meaningful it was to hear Coldplay rocking a live show on Hollywood Boulevard the evening of the first Jimmy Kimmel live taping

The Kings have a well-balanced team with an outstanding goalie, and they chase the puck pretty relentlessly (at least lately). But you can push them around, and if you want to make a cheap run at Kopitar, Quick or anyone else, you definitely don't have to worry about someone making you pay. After sitting through half of their home games this season, that's their biggest flaw (that I can see, anyway).

Someone with stronger analytical skills might see that the Kings scored the second fewest goals in the league this season and arrive at a different conclusion, but you could be right. Another strong nominee? Too many division championship banners!

For instance, the Bruins

"Let me tell you about my night at the Kings/Sharks game. For instance, the Bruins [robble robble robble]" - some asshole who has about 50 million Twitter followers hanging on his every word just in case he drops a hot gambling tip, and who also routinely finishes under .500 against the spread in picking NFL games over the course of a season

Nobody captures their identity better than Dustin Penner, their frustrating 6-foot-3 forward who's evolved into something of a whipping boy for the Kings faithful. One of the biggest guys on the team, Penner barely throws checks, much less punches. Every time he wades into the corner and goes through the motions of not hitting someone, you hear this chorus of pissed-off "COME ON, PENNER!" hisses coming from every direction. I always want him to do well, just because it's funny when he scores and the fans instantly flip that switch and pretend to be Penner fans again. But if you're trying to win the Cup? You need less Penners and more Ryane Clowe.

Clowe has played his whole career in San Jose. During that time (the last six seasons) they have made the playoffs every season, and twice been the #1 seed in the West. They've also never gotten closer to the Cup than last year's 4-1 conference finals loss. In 2009 they won the President's Trophy and promptly lost in six games in the first round. Not to say it's Clowe's fault or something, I just thought Bill's analysis was funny.

You know who summed it up best? My 6-year old daughter,

Of course she did! I knew we weren't going to get through the whole article without hearing about some poor sap who has to spend time with Bill because they have the same blood.

who has somehow attended a whopping 14 Kings games this season and wants to marry Anze Kopitar. (I wish I were making that up.)

Brendan Fraser is offended on Kopitar's behalf.

We were watching the Zamboni drive around between the second and third periods last night when she suddenly piped up, "Hey, daddy, why doesn't someone teach the Kings how to fight?" Let's hope that doesn't become the epitaph for their 2012 season.

The real story if that ends up happening? Not enough Bruins on the team.