Sunday, September 30, 2012

Simmons and Easterbrook square off in a Thunderdome of inanity

Unless you consider this entire format to be a gimmick (which you probably should), we really don't do a lot of gimmicky posts here.  THAT CHANGES TONIGHT.  THINGS ARE ABOUT TO GET SILLY.  I'll bring you some highlights from Greggggggg's and Bill's most recent efforts, but I'll mix them up, switching back and forth, and I won't tell you which one of them said what.  If you've read this blog for more than a month you will have absolutely no trouble assigning blame to the correct party for each logic and/or comedy blimp crash you read.  I mean, it's all kind of pointless because Gregg's column mostly looks back and speaks in past tense while Bill's mostly looks forward and predicts (and gives us example after example of his horrific gambling skills).  But bear with me.  Pretend it's fun.  Lord knows I've been pretending that writing these posts is fun for like three or four years now.

Last week, I hammered Greg Schiano for having his defense charge the offense on a final-snap kneel-down at the end of the Giants-Bucs game. 

So that pretty much gives it away right there.  Still, this is so good that it's worth highlighting even if it's super obvious which nimrod said it.

Schiano has since defended himself by claiming this tactic actually works. Schiano told "Mike & Mike in the Morning" that charging the victory formation "caused fumbles several times" at Rutgers. Schiano told Pro Football Talk the tactic "actually created a fumbled C-Q exchange four times in the past four or five years. It does work."

Schiano did not add: Rutgers never got a turnover. I asked Jason Baum, associate athletic director of Rutgers, what happened when the Scarlet Knights attacked kneel-downs under Schiano. Baum said that four times the quarterback fumbled -- against North Carolina in 2011, against Pitt and West Virginia in 2009 and against Cincinnati in 2007. Rutgers recovered once, but the play was nullified by a Rutgers offside. Any defense can cause the quarterback to fumble by jumping offside and slapping the ball before the snap! The other three times, quarterbacks covered their own fumbles.

So in other words, Schiano was absolutely right, and while he may ruffle some feathers by using this tactic, it seems justified from a "WE DO ANYTHING WE CAN TO WIN FOOTBALL GAMES ON THE FOOTBALL FIELDS OF THE NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE OF FOOTBALL" perspective.  Which is the perspective of pretty much every FOOTBALL coach who's ever been successful so I can't really fault him for having it.  Considering the way Schiano's tactic has twisted panties into bundles all over the league, I encourage him to keep doing it.  The kind of people who are complaining about it (both inside the game, as well as among the media) are generally the kinds of people who deserve to be tied to rockets and shot into space.

Atlanta is 8-1 all-time versus San Diego.

GOTTA TAKE THE FALCONS AND THE OVER THIS WEEK, AMIRITE?  Nah just kidding, that's one of Gregg's ever-captivating stats of the week.

Wouldn't you rather have that on Baltimore's résumé than a frightening riot? Let's add that to the "Welcome to Baltimore" sign on whatever the highway is there: "WELCOME TO BALTIMORE: HOME OF THE WIRE AND THE WORLD'S LOUDEST BULLSHIT CHANT."

Yeah, not like anyone who has grew up on the East Coast should know that every big city between Boston and Washington is on I-95, right?  And that's certainly not something Google Maps could help with.  Whatever your highway is, Baltimore (if you even have one!), here's an unclever slogan for it.  NOW, LET ME TELL YOU MORE ABOUT UBUNTU SINCE YOU'VE ALREADY HEARD SO MUCH ABOUT IT.   THE NATIONAL DISCUSSION SURROUNDING IT IS INTENSE, I KNOW.

Twice a year, I stumble across a stupendously good reader e-mail and think about stealing it, then pretending I never saw it, before ultimately deciding against it for karmic reasons.

Could have been either of them, I know, except that Gregg's readers are merely unfunny whereas Bill's are unfunny AND mirror images of their fuckbag columnist (a columnist who loves to navel gaze, at that).  Thus you know he wrote that because Gregg would never dream of stealing anything his readers send him; I'm sure he considers himself much smarter than all of them.

When Detroit reached fourth-and-1 on the Tennessee 7 in overtime, trailing by three, the Lions botched a first-down try, ending the game with a Titans win. The coach was immediately mocked by the sports press: "Jim Schwartz's Risky Call Costs Detroit Lions in OT Loss" read a typical headline. Schwartz said afterward his offense was supposed to try to draw Tennessee offside; failing that, he planned to kick the short field goal to continue overtime. Botched communication between center and backup quarterback caused the ball to be snapped while most of the Lions stood around. (It was a botched play, not an attempt at the silent sneak.) Schwartz had to supplicate in his postgame comments, apologizing for defying orthodoxy.

But fortune favors the bold!  Even if the coach never actually intended to try for the first down, shouldn't the Football Gods have rewarded the team for accidentally going for it anyways?  I'm so confused.

For that matter, the Lions could have gone for the win on the untimed try that ended regulation. A fake kick for two would have been maybe 75 percent likely to succeed -- and then there would have been no overtime.

That's just fucking awesome.  Breaking news, everyone: fake extra point attempts, particularly those attempted with your team trailing by one and with no time left on the clock, are 75% likely to succeed.  Source: SCIENCE.  (Correction: MAYBE 75% likely to succeed.  So, also, maybe only 4% likely to succeed.)

The Dolphins threw incomplete toward the sidelines three consecutive times, then kicked a field goal and went on to lose in overtime. But Miami had all three timeouts, why not throw down the middle? The Dolphins acted as if it was critically important to stop the clock, despite holding three timeouts. At least the unused timeouts can be donated to charity.

That joke is so bland and non-awful, you can be sure Bill didn't write it.

Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees are 2-9; Kevin Kolb is 3-0. Norv Turner is guaranteed to end this September with at least as many wins as Bill Belichick, and probably one more. The NFC West is in the conversation for the best division in football. And fans are talking reverently about the real NFL referees. Does anyone doubt the Mayans anymore?

CURVEBALL MOTHERFUCKERS.  That's actually one of Bill's readers who happens to sound a lot like Gregg.  BEWARE THE MAYAN NON-FOOTBALL GODS; THEY ARE VENGEFUL.

I'm feeling good about the Seahawks pick and see this week being "The Russell Wilson Breakout You-Wouldn't-Want-Him-In-Fantasy-But-At-Least-You'd-Halfheartedly-Look-Up-His-Stats-On-The-Waiver-Wire Game."

A week after having a not very good game against a nothing special Green Bay defense, Wilson went for 160 yards, 0 TDs and 3 INTs against a nothing special St. Louis defense.  

Suppose you were a father and mother who knew all technology was about to stop working -- you'd buy more than one bag of groceries! You wouldn't wait until the last conceivable instant to draw water or copy the magic software. 

Hmmm... is this Bill using a tortured analogy to make a point about what Aaron Hernandez means to the Patriots' offense, or is it Gregg pointing out that characters in a TV show or movie do not behave exactly like a perfectly rational person would?  Of course it's the latter, you knew that.

Here's my theory on the day after Thanksgiving in 2009: I think Jack Nicklaus heard the news, went out and bought a bottle of 20-year-old Pappy Van Winkle, found an antique shotgun with 300 rounds of ammo, then drove to a secluded spot in the woods 25 miles away from any other human being. He got out of his car, started jumping around and screaming like he won the Super Bowl, did this for 20 solid minutes, then started swigging whiskey and shooting at things while whooping it up. Eventually, he drank the entire bottle, got back into his car and just started happily ramming into trees until the car stopped moving. Then he passed out in the driver's seat, woke up the next morning and walked home.

Bill Simmons: somehow, not employed as a Hollywood comedy writer.

Canceled by Christmas; lucky to make it to Thanksgiving.

If only that were an internal ESPN memo referring to the employment prospects of both these clods.

Sportsmanship note: Leading 24-14, Buffalo reached first-and-goal on the Cleveland 1 at the two-minute warning. Bills coach Chan Gailey ordered his charges to kneel. The football gods should reward this.

New England beat them by 24 today, throwing the ball long after the outcome was in question.  Conclusion: the Football Gods will definitely have their revenge on the Patriots at some point!  Probably!

Democrats would have been happier had Romney claimed every possible deduction, lowering his tax rate even further and embarrassing him politically. Unspoken in all this -- not claiming deductions is admirable behavior!

Holy shit, I definitely do not want this blog to get political, but I will say this: only someone as sheepfucking clueless as Gregg could fail to connect the dots and realize that it's very likely Romney didn't claim all his available deductions because he anticipated a Democratic attack on that point, not because he wanted to be Mr. Charitypants.  Christ, Easterbrook fancies himself some kind of Beltway Insider.  Simply pathetic that this is his take on the situation.

But the need for higher tax rates on the rich should not stop anyone from being impressed that Romney voluntarily paid more than current law requires. Voluntarily paying more than required is not being a sucker. It's being civic-minded.

No, in this case, it's neither.  It's being an image-conscious politician.  Holy Christ, Gregg.  I think someone wrote "gullible" on the bottom of that swimming pool over there.  You should go check it out.

Sorry again, I just couldn't let that one slip.  Let's end on a lighter note.

I would NOT advise taking kids to this week's Giants-Eagles game … especially if it goes the way I think it's going to go. You realize the Giants are 33-17 in their last 50 regular season road games, right?

Road performance of the 2006 Giants: definitely relevant in 2012. With the Monday night game still to come, Bill's picks ATS are 6-8 this week, and he's now 30-31-2 on the season. ESPN pays this man millions of dollars per year. Other than his somewhat substantial number of NBA columns, these NFL pick columns are pretty much the only writing that is actually about sports. You would have lost money by following his picks nearly every year for the past decade. I will now light these copies of "Now I Can Die in Peace" and "The Book of Basketball" on fire.

Monday, September 24, 2012

He orates about as well as he writes

Rick Reilly, on the MNF set, talking about the crazy final play of the game:

B.J. Raji told me he was shocked to look up and see one ref signaling touchdown, and another signaling touchback!  To me, this is... the whole... era of replacement refs... one touchdown, one says touchback... (trails off) So fellas, is this the straw that broke Goodell's back?

/death stare from Steve Young

Throw in a few terrible puns and something about how great golf is and you've got yourself an article.

You can't take a $1,000 pair of Italian loafers and step in poop, over and over again!

You certainly can't!  Fucking idiot.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Gregg: Stooping lower and lower with each passing week

This post is not going to be extensive enough to get the TMQR label.  It's also about an incident that's already a week old.  I am ashamed of myself and I will try to write my usual two shitty copout posts this week as opposed to the single one I wrote last week.  Anyways, I'm sure it's painfully clear to everyone that Gregggggg is in the business of pushing certain stories/lessons.  Undrafted players who have been cut at one point or another are awesome.  Punting is terrible.  Tenths of seconds do not actually exist.  And of course, many players (particularly those MEGABUCKS GLOREE BOYS) are stupid dumb idiots who do stupid stuff like celebrate excessively because they're morons who only care about themselves.  (To his credit, he has occasionally taken the side of the players during certain incidents where they were penalized or fined for TD celebrations.  So he's not completely anti-celebration under all circumstances.  But he also frequently references the stupid white guy "GRRR I HATE HOW THESE PLAYERS LIKE TO DANCE WHEN THEY MAKE A GOOD PLAY, THEIR EGOS ARE TOO BIG" bullshit.  Also, to his discredit, about a hundred different things.)

Now, it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world if he only pushed his perspective on these items on his readers when events warranted such pushing.  I mean, it would still be pretty bad, but if he were always honest about the facts that led to his referencing his perspective, I could maybe tolerate that.  Sadly, he's so obsessed with pushing his narrative that he can't even surmount that extremely low threshold for my maybe tolerance.  Rather, when he needs to make one of his points, he's more than happy to change facts.  You've probably already seen this, but if you haven't, watch it again, and then join me in celebrating Gregg's complete and total assholery.

Single Worst Play of the Season -- So Far: Trailing 31-28, the Redskins faced third-and-8 at the St. Louis 36 with 1:27 remaining. RG3 threw a 7-yard completion to Josh Morgan, advancing Washington to the 29 and field goal range. More concerned with attention for himself than victory for his team, Morgan celebrated by throwing the ball at a Rams defender. Unsportsmanlike conduct pushed Washington back to the 44, where a desperation field goal try sailed far off the mark.

If I had just started reading TMQ, I might give him a pass for that patently incorrect assessment of why Morgan threw the ball at Cortland Finnegan as perhaps being the result of Gregg not actually watching the play (and maybe having had it explained to him second hand by someone even dumber than he is).  But at this point, I know his game.  I know he watches highlights from every game before he writes.  And I'm 99% sure that in this case, he saw the play lives, since he lives in the DC area.  No no no no--this is not misinterpretation.  This is intentional deception, because it tickles his balls to tell his readers about a ME FIRST player doing something that cripples his team's chances at winning.  Note that he doesn't identify Finnegan by name.  I promise you he knows that Finnegan was the Ram who had the ball thrown at him.  But Finnegan is known as an agitator by most fans, so naming Finnegan might cause the TMQ readers who didn't see or hear about the play and who take Gregg as gospel to question whether Morgan was celebrating or angrily lashing back at a guy who was (as usual) being a complete and total pain in the dick to line up against.  I'm telling you, Gregg knew exactly what he was doing when he wrote that paragraph.  The dots are all there, we just have to connect them.  WAKE UP, SHEEPLE.  Gregg is such a cuntswabber.  He's just the absolute fucking worst.

Bonus idiocy:

Many sports commentators have noted this knucklehead move by Morgan deprived the Skins of a makeable field goal to force overtime. But consider -- it would have been fourth-and-1 on Les Mouflons' 29. Washington rushed for 176 yards on the game, a 6.1-yard average. 

And each and everyone one of their previous rushing attempts in the game came on 4th and 1!  That piece of data is now even truthier than it was before.  I know I just spent like 500 words telling you that Gregg is smarter than he appears; that he's not accidentally misinterpreting events, he's lying about them outright to advance his agenda.  But let me just walk that back a couple of steps: in this case, I really think he is enough of a doofus to think that a team's expected number of yards gained on 4th and 1 with the game on the line can be accurately estimated by taking their average yards per play gained throughout the course of the game to that point.  Yeah, you know what, sometimes he really is just a total shitbrain.

The Redskins could have gone for the first down and positioned themselves to win outright with a touchdown.

FORTUNE FAVORS THE BOLD!!!!!!!  EXCEPT WITH BLITZING--DON'T EVER EVER BLITZ, BECAUSE THE OTHER TEAM MIGHT SCORE WHEN YOU DO, AND THEN IT'LL BE ALL YOUR FAULT.  (If I were more awake right now, this is where I'd put an angry paragraph or two about how Stanford closed out their upset win over USC last week by blitzing on every single play of USC's final drive.  BUT WAIT, MATT BARKLEY IS A GOOD QB!  IT'S ESPECIALLY DUMB TO BLITZ GOOD QBS, THEY ACTUALLY WANT YOU TO DO IT!  YOU'RE HANDING THEM FREE TOUCHDOWNS!  And yes, this is a whole post referencing two games that happened 7+ days ago.  Sometimes, you come up with an idea for a post, and then time passes and the subject matter of the post is old news, and then you say fuck it, I'm writing the post anyways.)

Josh Morgan, you are guilty of the single worst play of the season -- so far.


Sunday, September 16, 2012

My brain is going to explode if I try to do a Simmons or Easterbrook post tonight

Both of those motherfuckers.  Unreal.  Whether it's Gregg lambasting Mike Gundy for allegedly showing poor sportsmanship against Savannah State, when Savannah State's coach went on the goddamn record after the game and thanked Gundy for the way Gundy handled things, or Simmons's douchechilling appearance on PTI (summarized by Bill Brown in the  comments to my last post), they're both too much for me to handle right now.  Instead, let's let Richard Justice have the spotlight.

Ageless Jeter Worthy of MVP Consideration

There will be writers prepared to give Jeter MVP votes well after he retires, but wanting to put him in the conversation this year is only slightly less silly than that.

There can't be a conversation about the American League's Most Valuable Player Award without including Derek Jeter, 

There certainly can.  He's been worth 2.5 rWAR and 3.5 fWAR this year, which doesn't even put him within shouting distance of the top 10.  He's been crappy on defense as always, and merely good on offense.  If there were a separate MVP vote for guys 35 and older, he'd be in contention, although if that imaginary "senior division" vote were fair (and we all know it wouldn't be because baseball writers are worthless pieces of shit) Torii Hunter would win it.  

and doesn't that make this whole season even better?

No.  Always good to lead off your column with a non-rhetorical rhetorical question that most readers will answer differently than you want them to.

Jeter is leading the AL in hits

And in plate appearances, meaning he's pretty high on the "outs made" leaderboard as well.

and is second in batting average and fourth in runs. 

You or I could bat leadoff for the Yankees and score a shitload of runs.

He batted .389 in April, 

Making him a strong candidate for AL player of the month for April, which is apparently also known as 2012 AL MVP.

and his average has fallen below .300 for just two days the entire season.

Batting average is a dumb statistic, etc.  His .366 OBP is pretty OK, nothing to sneeze at, also not what you'd want from your leadoff hitter in a perfect world.  But also: intangibles.

His defense at short has been terrific, as usual. 


Meanwhile, his Yankees have had at least a share of first place in the AL East for 93 straight days, 

Making Robinson Cano and his 6.5 rWAR/6.2 fWAR an excellent candidate for AL MVP runner up to the guy who is having one of the 50ish best seasons of all time by any hitter, ever, in baseball history, in the history of baseball.

and now with the stretch run upon us, Jeter is hitting .378 in September.

As the Yankees fall apart.  Just saying, SOMEONE has to take the fall if they finish behind the two inferior teams that are chasing them down, and hey, shouldn't it be the guy who apparently has leadership skills growing out of his ass?

He's part of what appears to be a close race for the AL MVP Award. 

It does not appear to be anything resembling close.  I don't like the Angels, and I despise the hype that surrounded Trout during his meteoric rise through the minors these past couple seasons, but there isn't much I can say to shit on his 2012.  Dude plays lights out center while absolutely raking.  

There's a case to be made for Mike Trout, Miguel Cabrera and Josh Hamilton as well.

Hamilton leads the league in RBIs so of course someone like Justice is going to claim he's part of the race when he's not even the most WAR valuable guy on his own team (good for Adrian Beltre for putting together a great season after getting paid for once, zing, sick burn by me).  Cabrera deserves some props for not being a complete and utter blimp crash at 3rd, and he leads the league in OPS, but clearly, Mike Trout is the only player who should receive a 1st place AL MVP vote this year.

Trout is especially interesting because he didn't come to the big leagues until April 28 but immediately ignited the Angels. They're 68-49 with him in the starting lineup, and he's leading the AL in batting average, runs and stolen bases. Trout is second in OPS, third in OBP and fifth in triples. He has also played a spectacular center field, and with the numbers so close, it might be what decides it.

But then again: does he play shortstop for the Yankees?  Is there a media mandate that he be included in all MVP discussions as long as he's having something resembling a half decent year?  If you blow him, will he give you a gift basket?  Those things could decide the race too, if the race were close, which it's not.

Cabrera is right there, too, leading the AL in OPS and slugging and second in batting average, RBIs and hits. He's fourth in runs and home runs.

And first in being a fat guy playing out of position for a playoff contender.

And there's Hamilton. Despite hitting .202 in June and July, he's leading the AL in home runs and RBIs and is second in runs and fourth in OPS. Also, the Rangers are leading the Major Leagues in runs and have been in first place in the AL West for all but two days. Their lead hasn't been less than three games since April 15.

Hamilton plays on the same team as a bunch of other really good players; players so good they were able to cover for him when he completely no-showed for 1/3 of the season.  Don't forget to factor that into your voting.

The case for Jeter is this:

Jeter-like Jeterness.

• Doing his job at the top of the lineup spectacularly well.

By OBPing a "hey, most teams would take that from their leadoff guy, I guess" .366?  By making sure to touch every base in the proper order as Cano, Fish Fillet Rod, Teixeira, et al drive him in?

• Playing nice defense.


• Winning.

He wrote that.  Not me.

• Leadership.

That too.

• Being at his best when the pressure is cranked up the most, 

Like during April.

which is pretty much every day of the year with the Yankees.

Oh, well that's just sneaky.  "Give Jeter credit for performing at his best when the chips are down... i.e., ALWAYS.  Except for during June when he hit .232/.295/.313, but that doesn't count, because Jeter."

Regardless of how it plays out, it's fun just having Jeter in the discussion. 

If you are a member of the BWAA or a Yankees fan (or hell, maybe if you're a Red Sox fan, because BOOOOO FACK YOU JETAH THE CHEA-TAH).  If you are anyone else: no.

Scouts have marveled at the quickness of his bat 

I will give $500 to charity if Jeter tests positive for steroids before Halloween.  I'll scan the receipt and post it on the blog.  Promise.  Please please please please please

and his ability to get hits on pitches in tough locations.

Also: Winning.  Leadership.

There was a time last season when it looked like Jeter's best days might be over, 

And they were/are.

and no one wanted to see one of the all-time greats go out this way. He'd simply done too much and meant too much to the game.

/chugs bottle of Pepto

If someone ranked every player the last 100 years in terms of winning, production and citizenship, 

Ooh, a new -ship to go along with the never-explained but always cited leadership he apparently displays regularly.

that is, representing the game the right way, 

A lovely combination of "representing the game" and "playing the game the right way."  Justice is breaking new ground here.

Derek Jeter might be No. 1. He's pretty much the poster boy for what those of us who love the game would like every player to be.

/goes to store, grabs another bottle of Pepto, chugs it before paying for it

And then it goes on for a while longer.  Apparently all you need to do to insert Jeter into an MVP conversation these days is 1) make sure he's hitting over .300 2) claim he's playing great defense, what, is anyone going to be able to definitively prove you wrong? 3) note the fact that the Yankees and their $10 kajillion payroll are in playoff contention and finally 4) spit some boilerplate about playing the citizenship the right way or some shit like that.  It's that simple.  Oh, in closing:

Andy Pettitte considers Jeter both a friend and a teammate.

Well then!

"I mean, he's just the same every day," Pettitte said. "He's out there doing his job, 

Number of players who have been on MLB rosters since opening day who are not doing their jobs: 0

getting hits, 

Lot of guys pulling that one off too

getting on base, 

His BB rate is just over 5%.  His OBP is 42 points higher than his average.  Just sayin'.  I'm fine with the "getting hits" part but I'm going to push back on this one.  GENTLY.

leading us. 

And representing the game the right way

He's just amazing."

OK, $1,000 to charity for a positive steroid test in the next six weeks.  Please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please

Monday, September 10, 2012

Knowing me I won't post again until Sunday, so here are three posts in one, I hope all eight of you out there are happy

First of all: thanks, Chris Berman (and pretty much every other NFL announcer this weekend), but I truly could not give any less of a hairy, sputtering shit what these replacement refs do for a living when they're not refereeing.  I don't care if any of them are teachers, I don't care if any of them are in sales, I don't care if any of them are cocksucking nuclear physicists.  I flat out don't, and I think I'm probably in the majority.  1) Like I already said, NO ONE GIVES A SHIT, IT'S JUST NOT INTERESTING OR RELEVANT IN THE LEAST.  2) The regular unionized refs have other full time jobs, too, and there's a good reason we don't have to hear about those jobs twenty times a game (see #1).

Second of all: there are Bill Simmons fans out there.  Tens of thousands of them.  If you know one, link them to this (they'll already have read it, and possibly already linked YOU to it, but I'm presenting a "just in case" scenario).  Once you know they've read it, as calmly as you can (suggestion: assuming you do the asking via GChat or email, don't use all caps), ask them how they sleep at night.  That article is supposed to be about last Wednesday's Giants/Cowboys season opener.  It is 1261 words long.  The first 647 are a story about his dog.  There is no sports context, not even a hint of one.  Just a drawn out, snooze-inducing story about his dog pooping in his house that can be best summarized as GUH HURRR DOGS ARE A REAL HANDFUL DERP DERP DERP.  So that's just over 50% of the article, toast.  Then we get the following:

What does this have to do with tonight's Giants-Cowboys game? 

GODDAMN NOTHING. You just wanted to tell a story about your dog because you're a navel-gazing self-obsessed cuntswabber.

There's an exceedingly good chance that Jerry Jones, as an NFL owner, has turned into a post-ribs Rufus. Year after year, he ruins at least one rug as Cowboys fans shrug their shoulders and say the football equivalent of things like, "Well, we're stuck with him, it's not like we can just drop him off at the pound and start over, right?"

Your dog pooped on a rug.  Jerry Jones, like every owner in the history of modern professional sports, occasionally makes a dumb move.  I get that Jones is more hands on that pretty much any other owner, so it's easier to pin the Cowboys' failures on him than it is to blame the failures of the average team on that team's owner, but this is still incredibly pathetic.

The Cowboys do everything in the flashiest way possible, obscuring their staggering lack of success in recent years. 

Their lack of recent success is not obscured in any way.  EVERYONE knows they've only won one playoff game since their last Super Bowl victory and have had some very shitty seasons.  Everyone.  Only someone completely out of touch with the NFL would think the "the Cowboys actually haven't been that good for the last 15 years!" is some kind of insightful angle.

When a franchise worries about the perception of what it's doing instead of what it's actually doing, trouble usually ensues. We just watched this happen to the Red Sox. 

Oh good, finally, some Red Sox analysis!  That's what the readers came for!

When a franchise underestimates its fans and assumes they're not smart enough to value things like patience and planning, and that it needs to keep them interested with splashy moves the same way a parent would hand a screaming kid an ice cream cone, trouble usually ensues. Again, we just watched this happen to the Red Sox. 

/wanking motion

Which makes me think the Cowboys will be our next big-market flame-out. 

They already have flamed out, dumbass.  They're one of the biggest failures in the league since 1996 if you measure dollars per win or dollars per postseason win.  You pointed it out yourself like 150 words ago.  

Just ask Knicks fans and Redskins fans. When your fans fully expect you to crap on the carpet before it even happens, that's officially the point of no return. 

That sentence is meaningless.  It carries no meaning, it adds nothing to anything.  It is a waste of time, pixels, bandwidth, and anything else of which it could possibly be a waste.

Anyway, I'm laying 3.5 points with the Giants over Dallas tonight. 

Of course the Cowboys handled the Giants and cruised to victory.

Finally of all: managers don't do that much.  They just don't.  But some of them are media darlings, and that means that when those managers' teams succeed, the media is going to trip all over itself to find a way to give those managers as much credit as possible for success that is 95% due to the actions of players.  Here, some doofus gives Buck Showalter big time props for doing stuff that holy sweet Jesus, I certainly hope every single manager in the league does.  (This article contains another article.  Stay with me now, don't get confused.  INCEPTION.)  

What's his secret? As with any manager, it's putting his players in position to succeed. That can take the form of sniffing out the platoon advantage, keeping peace in the clubhouse, having a deft touch with the bullpen, balancing hunches with data-driven decisions, and so on. 

Like you just said, "as with any manager."

One of the ways managers can distinguish themselves is by juggling lineups and rotations based on non-traditional "platoon points" -- e.g., ground ball-fly ball tendencies, park effects, and strengths/weaknesses of the opposing defense.

They can only distinguish themselves by paying attention to these things if other managers around the league don't pay attention to them, and the odds of that being the case are like nothing percent.

Additionally, as Jonathan Pitts of the Baltimore Sun explains in an outstanding piece on the peculiar phenomenon of the strike zone, Showalter also lets the umpiring drive his tactical decisions. Pitts writes:

The skipper, now in his 14th big league season, points to a spreadsheet on a wall in his office. It ranks all big league umpires by how greatly they favor pitchers or hitters.

The top name on the list is Brian Runge, an ump known for calling a big zone; lower down is veteran Joe West, whose zone is seen as smaller, his ball-strike distribution more even.

When Runge's behind the plate, Showalter says, he might tell hitters to "go up there swinging." When West is back there, "we know we'll have to throw the ball over the plate."

Holy.  Shit.  It's like he's Rain Man or something.  What a savant.

Showalter is known to tweak his pitching rotation when he sees the umpiring schedule for the week.

I live within the TV broadcasting area of the Orioles and watch a couple games a week.  I have not once heard my main man Gary Thorne or any of his revolving cast of color commentators mention that a starter was moved up or back a day to correspond to the umpiring schedule.  If it's true, that's actually a somewhat unorthodox thing for a manager to do, but I kind of doubt it's true.  Now back to the original CBSSports article.

It stands to reason, right? 

Wrong?  Teams are definitely not going to go out of their way to start pitchers on three days' rest because they might get some kind of nebulous benefit from the plate umpire that night.  I just looked through the game logs of all eight Orioles pitchers who have started at least ten games this season.  Not one of them has made a start on three days's rest, something they'd pretty much have to do by definition if Buck was fucking around with the rotation to get favorable umpire matchups.  Granted, because they've started so many different guys, it's possible that Buck has moved some of them in and out of the rotation at times advantageous to those matchups.  But it's certainly not a primary strategy of his; the most I'll allows is the possibility that at times he's had to say "Shit, Arrieta can't fucking get anyone out anymore.  I guess we'll bring up Tillman to take his spot in the rotation next Thursday, and hey, whaddaya know, that's also an umpire whose tendencies will help Tillman!"  Again, I sincerely doubt that even this much has happened, but I'll grant that it's possible.

After all, the discrepancies among umpires have a bearing on the game itself, so it only follows that those discrepancies also have a bearing on how managers approach the game. 

If you're desperately trying to give Showalter the credit that should go to Baltimore's bullpen and timely hitting, then yeah, you might make that argument.

Maybe Showalter's ahead of the curve in this approach, 

If by "this approach" you mean telling hitters to swing more often when an ump with a big zone is calling the game, there's not a fucking chance.  If by "this approach" you mean juggling your rotation to somehow generate umpire/SP matchups favorable to your team, there's almost no fucking chance he's actually doing this.

or maybe he's the only one talking about it. In either case, it's interesting to know he's thinking about the umpires as he fills out his lineup card.

Buck Showalter is an MLB manager.  There are 29 other guys who have more or less his exact same skillset out there.  His has a career managing record that is mildly successful at best.  He's not made out of magic and candy and lollipops.  Can the baseball media please just get the fuck over the guy?  That's rhetorical, I know the answer is no.  I'm hoping the O's make the playoffs because their fans deserve it. But if and when they do, holy fried shitballs, it's going to be an insufferable week of hearing about how Buck himself made 50 starts on the mound and hit cleanup and 7th every day to propel them there.  

Monday, September 3, 2012

TMTMQR: Please have someone edit your work

First of all, I guess I can kind of sort of backtrack on what I said about Theo Epstein. You dastardly commenters have talked some sense into me. I kind of conveniently forgot about the Beckett/Lowell and Schilling trades, which were both pretty big deals. Whatever. I still bet he does nothing special with the Cubs.  Anyways I almost did a post on this NFL player trade value column written by Bill Barnwell and featuring terrible jokes and worse analysis from Simmons in the footnotes. That's the whole problem though--Barnwell is a pretty good writer, and the column is very enjoyable in spite of Bill's David Foster Wallace-inspired idiocy. So I figured it made more sense to rip on Gregg for continuing to be a diptard in all of the ways he's always been a diptard.

When the other team punts, Pulaski rarely has a returner on the field. Kelley reasons that a muffed or fumbled punt is about as likely as a long return, and so is content simply to let the punt roll, in order to ensure his side takes possession. Kelley rarely sends a rush after a punter, reasoning that a roughing-the-kicker penalty is more likely than a block. 

I get that this Arkansas HS coach is doing a good job (Gregg says they've played in the state championship game for two consecutive years, winning one of those games), but isn't the point of being a coach to help teach your players not to make dumb and avoidable mistakes like roughing the punter or muffing catches? I mean, results are results, but this just seems lazy to me. 

"Everyone says football is a game of field position, but it's not," Kelley maintains. 

Well, the extent to which it is important can vary from game to game, but field position is definitely generally something teams should worry a lot about. 

"It's a game of scoring points, which only happens when you possess the ball. 

And call me crazy, but I would guess that there's a direct relationship between how far a team has to go with the ball to score on a given drive and their likelihood of scoring on that drive. 

Last year the typical NFL offensive play gained 5.4 yards. 

Oh God. 

If it's fourth-and-3 or less, going for the first is likely to result in keeping possession. Of course a fourth-down try may fail, giving the other team the ball, but a punt is certain to give the other team the ball. So why do NFL teams almost always punt in fourth-and-short situations, surrendering possession? It's a game of points, and scoring points requires possessing the ball.

You are a simpleton. There is no better word for you. You are a fucking simpleton. 

Here in 2007, TMQ detailed the math of rarely punting. The Accuscore computer simulated thousands of NFL games for TMQ using NFL stats, and found that at the pro level, rarely punting made victory 5 percent more likely. In a 16-game NFL season, that means one additional victory per year. 

That's all well and good, but it's worth noting that if it was known that a team would always go for it on 4th down, the way other teams defended them on downs 1-3 would change. You'd see fewer 15 yard screen pass completions on 3rd and 19, for example, because defenses wouldn't go all soft in order to ensure they forced a 4th down. I'm not sure the net effect would make going for it on every 4th any worse than Gregg supposes it would be, but I'm just saying is all. Let's make sure we try to take everything into account before we start sucking our own dicks and anointing ourselves football savants.

"When coaches go for it on fourth-and-short, announcers call that a huge gamble," Kelley says. "It is not a gamble, it is playing the percentages. The gamble is punting! But coaches are afraid of criticism, so they order punts." 

Well, Mr. Watch How Aggressively (And Incorrectly) I Turn Conventional Wisdom On Its Head, it's probably still fair to say that going for it on 4th and 8 from your own 22 is a pretty decent sized gamble. 

Consider that the Giants-versus-Bills Super Bowl in 1991 came down to a 47-yard field goal attempt on grass as the clock expired. When the kicker missed, he was blamed for the loss, though 47 yards on grass is 50/50 for the best place-kickers. 


Though TMQ believes football coaches should go for it more often on fourth down, that does not, of course, mean the tactic will work. Fourth down was Atlanta's bête noire in 2011; the Falcons an awful 4-for-16, including 0-for-3 in their playoff defeat at Jersey/A. Failure on fourth-and-inches at the Giants' 21 in the third quarter was the game's pivotal down. 


Carolina: Cam Newton's rookie season was seriously impressive -- 4,784 yards of total offense and 35 touchdowns passing or running. He even caught a pass for a first down. The sky seems to be the limit for Newton, plus he has a sense of humor. At a Super Bowl brunch, Newton was asked whether, after he is sacked, he yells at his offensive linemen. His response was to tilt his head upward as if looking high into the sky and say, "I tell the offensive line, 'Now listen you guys ...'" 

I like that Gregg considers this a noteworthy example of someone demonstrating comedic chops. I'm sure he loses his shit when he reads the cartoons in The New Yorker. 

Despite the show put on by their prize rookie, the Panthers finished 6-10 and a weak 1-6 versus teams that made the playoffs. Defense was the main reason: poor overall, and an NFC-worst 143 points allowed in the fourth quarter. New head coach Ron Rivera is a former defensive coordinator, so presumably will have something to say about the tackling. Perhaps he also will break Carolina of its recent habit of cannibalizing future drafts. In the past three years, the Panthers have traded future first-, second- and third-round choices for second-, third- and fourth-round selections right away. The net of those transactions was to swap a first-round draft choice for a fourth-round draft choice. 

And cash in on assets a year early. I like that he came up with that unclever and misleading angle though. HEY LOOK THE NET RESULT OF ALL THE TRADES THE RED SOX HAVE MADE SINCE 1919 WAS TO TRADE BABE RUTH FOR CLAYTON MORTENSON, HOW FUCKED UP IS THAT 

Chicago: The Chicago Tribune reports that once again, Lovie Smith plans to cut back on kick returns by Devin Hester so that he can devote more energy to being a wide receiver. In other news, the United States Navy plans to dry-dock its aircraft carriers in order to devote more resources to wooden sailing ships. 

First of all, there's a real humdinger of a zinger. Also, apparently Hester as a KR : Hester as a WR :: awesome modern warships : warships we haven't used since the 19th century. 

Few NFL teams have fight songs -- why not? 

Because it's not 1955 anymore? 

The Cowboys have 18 coaches including four gentlemen with the title "coordinator." Considering Garrett's Princeton background, how long until the Boys have a faculty senate? 


In 2011, Aaron Rodgers was close to perfect: a 122.5 rating -- best ever for a single season -- plus 39 more touchdown passes than interceptions. For his career, Rodgers' 6.25 percent touchdown passes is the best in a generation, while his 1.8 percent interceptions is the best of active quarterbacks. But Graham Harrell is his backup. Aaron Schatz notes, "Over the last 10 years, 11 different undrafted quarterbacks with no NFL starting experience have started games because of injury to the No. 1 QB. Those players have combined for a 38-to-48 touchdown-to-interception ratio, and their teams were 10-18 in these starts." 

Here's your Packers preview, everyone: if Rodgers gets hurt, they are kind of fucked. 

Now high school football teams are jetting all over the nation for games put together by promoters and shown on television. Surely this is exciting for the boys involved - but also distracts them from schoolwork, while cutting into study time. Football keeps getting bigger and bigger. Where is the sense of perspective in high school programs that act like college programs?

My monthly "gotta agree with Gregg on this one" moment. Fuck high school sports being on national TV, and doublefuck the disgusting companies like ESPN that make money off of it. 

Last season the Vikings were 1-2 when rushing for at least 200 yards, which may mean the run is overrated in the contemporary pass-wacky NFL. 

Last year the Broncos were 1-0 against the Jets during Thursday night games, which may mean that the Jets are the worst Thursday night team in the history of organized sports, or might not mean anything because holy shit who thinks that's a meaningful sample size. 

Want to lead the league in sacks? Any team can lead the league in sacks by blitzing a lot and ignoring "contain." In 2011 the Steelers were a modest 17th for sacks but had the NFL's top-rated defense, because Pittsburgh defensive ends first contain and get after the passer second. Allen ignores contain -- an old lady with a walker could get around Jared Allen. 

No one is trying to "get around" Allen.  He is trying to get around offensive tackles. Please reconsider that line, it doesn't make sense when you're referring to a defensive end. You are a bad writer. 

Not honoring contain is good for his personal self-promotion, but bad for the team. Why should Allen care? 

Present tense. 

He is very well paid for sacks, 

He is paid well to accumulate sacks. 

and none of the 23 Minnesota coaches seemed concerned about defense. 

Past tense. Holy Moses, that paragraph made my brain bleed. 

"Procedurals" Update: TMQ wound up last season spoofing the "procedurals" that have taken over network television, and soon will have more on the nuttiest of them all. Here are "procedurals" lowlights from the offseason: 

Oh no. 

On "NCIS: Los Angeles," the agents look super-cool by wearing tight jeans and fashion tees. Then they pull out cell phones, pistols (sidearm plus backup), handcuffs, flashlights, badges, wallets and extra magazines for lengthy gun battles. Where were they carrying this stuff? In one episode the mega-babe detective attends a party wearing the sort of short, skin-tight outfit that starlets sport on a red carpet. Her partner asks where her gun could possibly be hidden; she replies, in a bra holster. Moments later a firefight begins against mobsters with automatic weapons. She pulls her gun and fires dozens of rounds. Viewers never find out where the extra magazines could possibly have been hidden. The instant the battle ends -- with, of course, the bad guys dead while all their automatic weapons fire missed at point-blank range -- the babe detective pops her pistol back into the bra holster. A gun that has just fired dozens of rounds would burn her skin! 


Meanwhile, later in the column: 

If you haven't seen "Necessary Roughness," it's a pleasant diversion -- a clever show that's more or less about pro football. Catch it while you can since the midseason finale is Wednesday night.

And I'm sure life in the NFL is depicted with pinpoint precision on that show. 

New Orleans: The Sinners -- their new TMQ name -- 

ROASTED!  Billy Joel, sit back and wait for those royalty checks to start rolling in.

Several times over the past three seasons, before the bounty scandal broke, TMQ said things like this: "Tuesday Morning Quarterback continues to feel unease about the New Orleans defense which, under the tastefully named Gregg Williams, blitzes way too much." 

And then the Saints won a Super Bowl and continued to make the playoffs every year after that and we were all like, oh yeah, that's right, Easterbrook has his head in his ass as usual. 

Reader David Starnes of Fletcher, N.C., notes, "Now we know why the Saints blitzed too much. The game plan was predicated on payday hits. You can't get those hits without big blitzes." 

You are the stupidest person alive. You are stupider than the Manning/Unitas/Colts curse guy from last week. Please destroy your computer and never use the internet ever again., the league's website, has been aggressive in coverage of Sinnersgate, running many items that surely made the owners squirm. One front page showed Gregg Williams in a graphic with Pete Rose and Mike Tyson; the attached report hit hard on sports scandals. This is a positive sign. being honest about an NFL scandal, along with the NCAA being honest about the Penn State scandal, is a step in the right direction for the traditionally closed, "how dare you criticize us" culture of football. 



Andy Reid has guided the Eagles to 19 playoff appearances -- of active coaches, only Bill Belichick received more postseason invites. 

Each NFL postseason game should not be described as an "invite." This is bad writing. 

This year's wide receiver corps includes the me-first Randy Moss, the me-first Michael Crabtree,


Mega Millions is one of many lottos run by the Multi-State Lottery Association, which has 33 member states. Governors and lawmakers of those states say they want to help average people. Yet they sponsor lottos that pick the pockets of average people. In 2010, Americans spent $58 billion on Powerball games run by state governments. Did the states extend that much in in aid to average people? When state and local income taxes, sales taxes, energy taxes and property taxes are combined with billions wasted to buy state lottery tickets, it may well be that on balance, the poor and working class are harmed financially, rather than helped, by state and local governments. 

OK, fine, I'll agree with Gregg twice in the same column. Lotteries are awful. 

It's been a laff a minute at quarterback for the Seahawks under Carroll, six players attempting forward passes in his two seasons. The laffs will continue with two new signal-callers, Matt Flynn and Russell Wilson. 

Not sure I follow the use of "laffs" here. I mean, it's kind of funny to spell it that way (not Cam Newton pretending to be on the ground after a sack funny, but funny all the same) but it comes in from out of nowhere.  Also, Wilson looks like a pretty legitimate QB so far. 

TMQ likes Miami over Seattle on Nov. 25. That game follows the Seahawks' bye, and Seattle is a league-worst 6-17 after bye week. 

Context? Check for typos? Come on man, you're taking my attention away from pointing out how much you suck at thinking and putting it on how much you suck at writing. That's annoying.