Friday, November 30, 2012

John Clayton: Good reporter, good person, shitty writer

John Clayton seems like a nice enough dude. He put up with being bullied by Sean Salisbury for years, his Sportscenter commercial from earlier this year was great, and I very much doubt he's among the cavalcade of assholes at ESPN who think they are God's Gift to Sports Media. He also really should stick to doing only TV journalism, or get a much better editor for his written work. This mailbag column is abominable.

With Tuesday's release of Jason Babin, the Philadelphia Eagles are breaking up their dream team -- a dream that turned into a nightmare.

JUXTAPOSITION! The reader is now HOOKED!

What looked to be a great idea collapsed in mediocrity and is now an embarrassment. Great cap planning by an aggressive organization allowed the Eagles to jump into free agency in 2011 in the hopes of grabbing a championship. The Redskins and Cowboys were trying to do the same thing, but the league robbed them of $46 million of cap space in 2012 and 2013 for what was considered cap manipulation in an uncapped year.

Now, it's interesting to see the Eagles behind both teams in the standings.

It's really not interesting at all. All three of these teams spend shitloads of money every single year. The Redskins have been the laughingstock of the division for a decade, but they've certainly always been trying to win and it was only a matter of time before they accidentally buttfucked their way into a quality QB. Their presence in front of the Eagles in the standings is "something that is happening." Saying it is interesting is going way too far. Same for the Cowboys, who have recently actually been somewhat good (although not great), much like the Eagles.

Babin did his part to help in his first season. He had 18 sacks and earned a trip to the Pro Bowl, more than justifying his five-year, $28.3 million contract. Others haven't.

Babin got cut because he was getting paid a shitload of money and only had 4.5 sacks this year, while also not doing anything else particularly well. Let's not go not throwing him under the bus.

Cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha got $60 million over five years, but he has lost speed and coverage skills. Over 11 games, he has surrendered 27 completions for 552 yards and five touchdowns. Only 10 corners have allowed more yards. Last season, he gave up 21 completions for 314 yards and four touchdowns the entire season, which wasn't bad but the defense played too much zone.

You were doing well until that last part. What the hell are you trying to say? I guess the message is that Asomugha's 2011 numbers weren't as good as they appeared, because he had a ton of safety help, but they way you've worded it makes it sound like two unrelated thoughts crammed into the same sentence. Andrew Luck has been better than expected as a rookie this year but the Colts have a very overweight fanbase.

Defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins has been a solid interior lineman for the Eagles. He had 5.5 sacks in his first season as an Eagle in 2011, but over the past month, his playing time has dropped from the 40-50 plays per game range into the 20s. He got a five-year, $30.3 million deal.

Guy making $6 million a year who's on the sidelines for two thirds of his team's defensive snaps: sounds solid to me.

Cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie came to the Eagles in the Kevin Kolb trade and has been OK. He gave up 18 completions last season. He has given up 29 completions for 494 yards this season.

So he's worse than Asomugha? Better? Unclear. One thing that is clear is that he's better than Kevin Kolb, since he has a pulse, so the Eagle have that going for them.

Then there's Michael Vick, who got a six-year, $102 million deal to make a Super Bowl run.

Yes.  That is true.  Please complete your idea.

If there is a lesson to be learned, it's that gambling that much money on 30-year-old players is risky. Older players have a shorter window to win. 

Isn't your thesis that the Eagles were specifically looking at a short window to win? They saw that the Cowboys and Redskins (btw, I love that he didn't mention the 4th team in the division, the one that has consistently been better than the other three over the course of the past five seasons, in his initial analysis) were getting hit with cap penalties in 2011, and decided to go for it right then and there, which wasn't (or was? I can't tell) a bad idea? You are definitely casting bad light on the results the Eagles got, but are you casting bad light on their process as well? I can't tell. You are a bad writer.

Andy Reid made a miscalculation by putting three older starters with first-time defensive coordinator Juan Castillo, who had moved over from the offensive line.

So the problem was the overinvestment in old players, except that it was also probably hiring a really terrible and inexperienced defensive coordinator.

Still this nightmare won't stop future teams from making such gambles. The Eagles thought they had the quarterback in Vick. They had the cap room and the money. They were trying to keep their fan base excited.

So the process was or was not bad? Please pick one. Otherwise, you're just reciting stats and pointing out that this iteration of the Eagles sucks, something we all knew 12 months ago.

With an 8-8 first year and a 3-8 disaster this season, it wouldn't surprise me if Vick, Jenkins and Asomugha were all be gone by next season.
It's sad.

Fin. On to the letters, where John answers questions in much the same way Joe Morgan used to all those years ago.

From the inbox

Q: Can you explain the logic that the Competition Committee used when implementing the rule about baring coaches' challenges and assessing a 15-yd penalty when a coach throws a red flag on a scoring play? You know the NFL is taking heat over such a lame-brain rule when they're considering rescinding the rule during the season. When was the last time the CC rescinded a rule during the season? Has it ever been done?
Fred in Tampa, Fla.

Big ups to Fred for using "baring" instead of "barring." The last time we heard about baring coaches, Mike Singletary's ass was involved.

A: The league is trying to move more replays to the booth. They want to take some of the pressure off the coaches, who reluctantly agreed to the challenges to get replay.

The thinking is not to have a coach challenge a play that is going to be reviewed automatically, as all turnovers and scoring plays are. 

Yes. I think we all know that. This guy has asked the question "We all understand B, which flows from A, but can you tell me about C?" and John has responded by saying "Let me tell you all about A."

What the committee didn't take into account was the emotion of the moment. Coaches want bad plays overturned. They reach for the flag for fear the next play is going to happen before there is a replay.

Fine. What about Fred's other question--has this happened before?

What will be fixed is still having the play reviewed if a coach challenges an automatically reviewable play. The league may still keep the 15-yard penalty, but all will be discussed over the next few weeks. Things could change in the playoffs, which would be a positive.

Non-responsive, in the vein of Joe.

Q: As it relates to the Jim Schwartz penalty, is there a hole in the rule? What's to stop coaches in Gary Kubiak's position from throwing the flag? In fact, why WOULDN'T they throw it in similar situations? The play can't be reviewed, your touchdown stands (that would have been overturned), and you kick off from your 20. If this is indeed a hole in the rule, I would question whether the league could wait until after the year to change the rule.

Rick in Middletown, Conn.

A: If you are Kubiak, logic would be the reason you don't throw the flag. 

No. It would not. You do not understand this guy's question, which isn't the end of the world, but your editor should have caught this. There... is an editor, right? Wait, nope, this is ESPN.

It's not as though you are going to eliminate the play. 

That's exactly the point--you might be able to freeze the play as called on the field by preempting the review.

Plus, this would be judged as a calculated strategy to try to show up officials. 

That is true, and Heavyhands Goodell would undoubtedly make sure it only ever happened once by having Kubiak stoned to death, but it's still an interesting thought.

You can't have two challenges on one play. 

Again, editor, please catch this and explain the guy's question to John.

The coaches are warned before each game not to challenge a play that is going to be replayed by the booth official.


Though a scenario such as that hasn't been tried, I don't see it happening. First, Kubiak would lose a challenge that he might need later in the game. 

But keep a 75 yard TD he doesn't deserve.

Second, he'd leave his team vulnerable to a penalty.


Q: I think it is time for the league to not only expand the 53-man roster, but to consider expanding the game day 46-man roster as well. Several factors make this the right move. Teams are more conservative than ever in handling injuries, trying not to put a player back on the field until he is ready. As a separate issue, the concussion policy of the league also forces teams to be conservative with this particular type of injury.

Lastly, the schedule, which includes frequent Sunday/Monday night games for some teams, and Thursday night games once per season for all teams, causes issues for teams getting players healthy enough to play. Dallas has three defensive starters on IR, and six out of their seven inactive choices for the Thanksgiving game were essentially made for them as they had too many players that were too injured to play. What do you think? I think increasing the roster size to 55 with a 48 man game day roster may be appropriate.

Mike in Saratoga, N.Y.

That's pretty reasonable.

A: Voices on many teams would agree with you, but old-school organizations would try to block such a move. 


While it would make sense to have extra bodies available to handle special teams and provide extra bodies, 

The extra bodies would indeed provide extra bodies, yes.

these teams would worry about competitive disadvantages.


Let's say the 49ers, which have been a healthy team for the past two years, have 53 healthy players. Let's say the Jaguars, which are 1-10, have five guys who can't play because of injuries and don't have that deep of a roster. The 49ers would be deeper and better, and it could promote more of a blowout with their advantage. Agree or disagree, but that's the thinking.

You just used like 80 words to say absolutely nothing. You have not answered this guy's question, nor even comprehended it, apparently. He's not saying teams should be able to expand their rosters midseason. Every team would have a larger roster than they do now at all times. The imaginary healthy 49ers would still have 5 more healthy players than the imaginary injured Jaguars (score of their imaginary meeting: 56-0 if Gabbert starts, 35-3 if Henne starts).

Q: I watched the Bucs-Panthers game. Josh Freeman (and his receivers) played terribly for the first three quarters. Then, they started running a hurry-up offense and Freeman came alive. It seems that most QBs get hot when they're running a hurry-up or no-huddle offense. It makes the defense play more simple packages and tires them out. Why don't teams run the hurry-up offense more? Is it too hard for most quarterbacks to run it or do coaches just not have enough faith in their QBs to run it?
Brandon in Los Angeles

Another reasonable question. Unlike in a Simmons mailbag, the awfulness here is entirely on the shoulders of the answerer. The questioners are doing just fine.

A: More teams are running a no-huddle offense this season, and more teams will run it next season. Over the past two seasons, the percentage of no-huddle plays on teams has doubled. The only thing holding some teams back is having young quarterbacks who need time to incorporate the no-huddle into their routine.

What about the teams who don't have young QBs, but still don't use it?

Ryan Tannehill and Andrew Luck have already shown they are comfortable in no-huddle. The other rookie and second-year quarterbacks will start to use it more next year and the year after. Using the no-huddle with more three- and four-receiver sets takes 3-4 defenses out of the three-man line and puts it in their sub packages. No-huddle is one of the big trends that escalated this season.

Barely responsive. Q: "Why don't more teams use the no-huddle? Is it for one of these reasons I've suggested, both of which would be pretty easy to directly address?" A: "Young QBs are usually not good at running the no-huddle, but the current crop of them in the NFL are actually pretty good at it. I just looked out my window, and someone in the park across the street is flying a kite."

Q: I've never understood why the NFL makes a team kick the extra point even if the game is over score-wise (for example, Packers-Seahawks this year). The defense cannot recover a blocked kick and return it for two points like in the NCAA (another rule I don't understand), that may make a difference in the score. Other than influencing the gambling line, kicking the extra point when the game is over is pointless. Could you explain both rule quirks?

Grant in St. Petersburg, Fla.

A: The NFL would never do anything to help betting, but it has to have betting in mind during the four quarters of a game. 

Non-responsive. (OR IS IT???????  MAYBE VEGAS IS BEHIND ALL THIS)

You don't have that problem in overtime. The game is over once a team gets a touchdown in overtime. 

Another "I know B comes from A, but why B?" "Let me tell you all about A." 
But at the end of the game in regulation, the NFL believes it owes it to the fans to have that last kick. I don't see that changing.

Non-responsive, unless he's being real subtle about the gambling thing, which I don't think he is. And in any case, if they changed the rule, point spreads around +/- 6 or 7 would move (ever so microscopically slightly) in response.

Q: Twice in a couple of weeks, a Steelers quarterback lost the ball while in the process of throwing a pass and the officials allowed the play to continue, allowing the defense to recover the ball and return it for a touchdown.

Against Kansas City, the fumble ruling was rightly reversed to an incomplete pass. Against the Giants, the ruling was incorrectly (as believed by most) not reversed and allowed to stand a defensive touchdown. In another game, I saw another example of the officials allowing this type of play to continue instead of blowing the play dead as an incomplete pass. Do you believe officials are intentionally allowing any borderline play involving a potential turnover to continue because they know the play, by rule, is now automatically reviewed?

Eric in Phoenix

A: I hope the officials will be slow with their whistles. I was at the Oakland-Cincinnati game and watched a quick whistle cost the Raiders an easy touchdown. An inadvertent whistle shouldn't happen. Officials should let the play conclude and worry about a replay later. It's better to have the play happen and reverse it if it's wrong.

More than 10 years ago, the officials had too many inadvertent whistles that cost big plays. They've done a better job over the past decade. Officials shouldn't stand in the way of a play by blowing a whistle too quickly. And once that whistle blows, players should stop their efforts for safety reasons.

Oh boy.  If there's an answer in there, I sure as hell don't see it.  Let's let John off the hook a little by posting one last question, this time from an utter moron.

Q: You mention the concern about a slowing pace of play quite often. Why doesn't the NFL shorten commercial breaks, or put in a 35 second play clock? I'd rather watch a replay than a horrible Buffalo Wild Wings commercial.

Devin in Australia

AND HOW COME WE HAVE TO PAY MONEY FOR STUFF? I DON'T ABOUT YOU, BUT I'D RATHER KEEP ALL MY MONEY THAN HAVE TO SPEND IT TO GET THINGS. I take back that part about the questioners not being part of the problem in this mailbag.

Monday, November 26, 2012

A video worth watching

Dear Lord.  I love the finished product, but just thinking about the effort it took to put it together makes my ears bleed.  (Saw this first on Deadspin, guess I should credit those worthless sports-not-actually-enjoying shitheads, grumble grumble grumble)

Bonus idiocy from Scott Boras's personal assistant!

Based on any vaguely reasonable estimation of the kind of player Longoria will be for the next 10 years: No.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Bill Simmons: Master of cause and effect

This is long, and if you have a brain, you'll realize what's idiotic about it after the first sentence of Bill's response, but I'm pasting the whole thing just so you can enjoy Bill's amazing powers of deduction in full.

Q: I know you love these, so here's a great NFL what if: What if Andrew Luck came out after his junior year? If he comes out in 2011, Carolina takes him first and Denver takes Cam second (missing out on Von Miller, and one year later, Peyton Manning). In the 2012 Draft, Indy is then faced with either picking RG III or keeping Manning (and trading the pick), If they choose RG III, Washington misses out on Black Jesus. That's 4 franchises who had their course of history changed dramatically.
—Dan, Denver

SG: And you left out Von Miller (who jumped a level and became the league's most destructive pass rusher this season) going third in 2011 to … (wait for it) … Buffalo! So that's five franchises affected. In that same draft, Miller bumps Marcel Dareus down a pick, so who knows if Cincy passes up A.J. Green for him at no. 4, or if Arizona passes up Patrick Peterson for him at no. 5. (That's seven franchises affected.) And maybe Cleveland just picks the leftover guy (either Dareus, Green or Peterson) at no. 6 instead of trading down to Atlanta (who picked Julio Jones at no. 6), and maybe San Francisco picks Jones at no. 7 instead of Aldon Smith (now we're up to 10 affected franchises), or maybe San Francisco picks Smith, then Tennessee grabs Jones at no. 8 instead of Jake Locker (now my head is starting to hurt). Let's at least agree that 2011's top 10 unfolds differently, with three major chess pieces for 2012 contenders (Miller, Jones and Smith) possibly landing elsewhere.

Also, Denver never would have traded for Manning this spring if they already had Cam, which means Manning lands in either Arizona or San Francisco. (Hold on, we have to wait for Larry Fitzgerald to stop wailing.) For all we know, Manning could be throwing bombs to Julio Jones on an undefeated Niners team right now. So that's a great "What If" by Dan from Denver — and he didn't even mention Luck's fourth Stanford year inadvertently making the 2012 Cardinals eligible for the Ewing Theory, leading to last weekend's shocking upset over Oregon and our eventual Notre Dame–Alabama national championship game (13 teams affected). Amazing.

So what you're saying is.... if an elite, top of the first round college QB... were to be drafted in a different year than the one in which he was originally drafted, by a different team... you can imagine lots of other picks in those two drafts also changing?

/mind asplode

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Loud idiot vehemently defends megalomaniac

Watched Indiana/Georegtown tonight.  Reminded me of how boring I find college basketball--these are two great teams, playing a hotly contested game, and I still wasn't feeling it at all.  (When I say "watched" I mean it was on in the background as I ate, did shit on my laptop, etc.)  Anyways, DICKIE V BABY was calling the game and he only brought up how great his friend Bob Knight is about 25 times.  Most of it was just stupid bluster.  "Indiana in a zone... you know, Bobby Knight would have never gone to the zone!"  "This point guard is a Bobby Knight kind of player!  He'd be perfect in a Bobby Knight system!"  HOLY SHIT HE GOT FIRED 12 YEARS AGO WHO GIVES A FUCK.  Anyways, I said most of it was just harmless bluster.  Then there was this, which was thoroughly embarrassing.  (I no longer have DVR, #firstworldproblems, so this is not word for word but it's close.)

You know, this has to be said... there is no reason Bobby Knight should have been fired.  It's a shame he's not still there.  Some coaches just belong at certain schools.  Bobby Knight belonged at Indiana and he should have retired there.  When they wanted to fire him, there should have been a meeting of the minds, and they should have been able to work out any differences that may have existed at that time.

Dick, it's bad enough that Knight was physically attacking his own players.  But I think it's pretty safe to say the school's administration made the right move to remove him once he moved on from that to attacking students who weren't even involved with the fucking team.  I'm not Warren Buffet, but from a business perspective, I think it's generally a bad idea to have a high level employee who likes hitting your customers.  Furthermore, if you absolutely have to defend Knight, which no one should, at least say he was misunderstood, or was really a nice guy deep down who had learned his lesson, or some other nonsense like that which is definitely not true but if true would constitute grounds for keeping him around.  Simply going with "he deserved to retire at Indiana" is a horrible sales pitch when your goal is to convince an audience that a guy who hits and chokes people should definitely have a job.  Bonus stupidity points for going with the legalese "any differences that may have existed" (that part I remember verbatim, or close), and refusing to acknowledge that there actually was a problem when Knight got shitcanned.

Only four and a half months until the season is over and Vitale mercifully disappears for the summer.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

OK, I will take Mitch Albom's bait

Undoubtedly someone has already linked you to this, and it's possible you've already seen someone make fun of it.  Still, I've got to take a crack at it.  It's just too fucking awesome to pass up.

The eyes have it.

That pun, which he will go on to repeat in his final sentence, is probably the best part about this whole article.  Not because it's clever or insightful (or even sensical--it's not like the MVP vote is a yes/no proposition like HOF voting is or something); just because it's not as offensive as everything else this cretin writes.

In a battle of computer analysis versus people who still watch baseball as, you know, a sport, 

It is a well-known fact that people who like computer analysis watch baseball as a romantic comedy.

what we saw with our Detroit vision 

Detroit Vision (patent pending): from the company that brought you Cleveland Smell.

was what most voters saw as well:

Cabrera won the Triple Crown and happened to play for a team that wasn't in the same division as Texas and Oakland.  I, too, saw all that.

Miguel Cabrera is the Most Valuable Player in the American League this year.

Shouldn't have been.  Chris W put it best: he was a deserving candidate, just definitely not the most deserving candidate.  I think that's a very levelheaded and fair way to describe his credentials.  Now let's watch Mitch work his magic.

"It means a lot," he told reporters over the phone from Miami. 

(Between rounds of shots)

"I'm very thankful. ... I thought it was gonna be very close."

So did everyone. But the debate ended Thursday night when the results were announced, with Cabrera earning 22 of the 28 first-place votes from the Baseball Writers' Association of America. It reinforced what Tigers fans have been saying all season: This guy is a monster.

All season long, Tigers fans have been trying to convince other fans that a guy who has a career triple slash of .318/.395/.561 was having yet another awesome offensive year.  But those other fans wouldn't listen!  They were too busy doing computer nerd things on computers, and refusing to watch any baseball.  Finally, some vindication for those Tigers fans, in the form of acknowledgement from the always-credible BBWAA.

It also answered the kind of frenzied cyberspace argument that never shadowed baseball 20 years ago but may never stop shadowing it now.

Wasn't life so much better when we had less information?  That's how I feel.  It's so annoying that the rise of the internet and the computer age has allowed us to expand our baseball analysis knowledge base.

Statistics geeks insisted Cabrera was less worthy than Angels rookie centerfielder Mike Trout. Not because Trout's traditional baseball numbers were better. They weren't. Cabrera had more home runs (44), more runs batted in (139) and a better batting average (.330) than Trout and everyone else in the American League. It gave him the sport's first Triple Crown in 45 years.

The funny part is, if Trout gets 3 more hits and see his BA go up to .331, ruining Cabrera's Triple Crown, you can bet that Trout would have won the MVP.

But Trout excelled in the kind of numbers that weren't even considered a few years ago, mostly because A) They were impossible to measure, and B) Nobody gave a hoot.

A is correct.  B is not.  We've been keeping track of errors for decades because people wanted to have a way to quantify defensive ability.

Today, every stat matters. There is no end to the appetite for categories -- from OBP to OPS to WAR. 

"There is no end to the appetite for categories" -- guy who gets paid a generous salary to express thoughts through writing

I mean, OMG! 


The number of triples hit while wearing a certain-colored underwear is probably being measured as we speak.

It probably is not.  But highest OBP while wearing certain colors of underwear?  That is most definitely "being measured" (again, Albom is a professional journalist) right now.

So in areas such as "how many Cabrera home runs would have gone out in Angel Stadium of Anaheim" or "batting average when leading off an inning" or "Win Probability Added," Trout had the edge. At least this is what we were told.


I mean, did you do the math?  I didn't. 

Why bother when people around Detroit had already concluded that Cabrera "was a monster?"  CASE CLOSED

I like to actually see the sun once in a while.


Plus he has intangibles

That's a subheadline, not an editing mistake, but I think he should have just ended the article there.  What would the computer people be able to say in response?

Besides, if you live in Detroit, you didn't need a slide rule. 

The best part about jokes like that is that the defensive metrics that showed Trout to be an awesome CF and fuel his enormous WAR total cannot exist without extremely diligent viewing of actual game footage.  That's not to say I'm some UZRophile or something--I think most defensive metrics are crappy.  But I'd still rather have them than not have them, you know?

This was an easy choice. 

So far the only ways in which you've compare the two guys are BA, HR, RBI (all numbers which can be trusted and which favor Cabrera), how playing in Anaheim would have affected Cabrera's HR total (favors Trout, supposedly), batting average leading off an inning (favors Trout, but not a number to be trusted, apparently) and win probability added (WHAT THE HELL IS THAT?).  You haven't talked about defense or stolen bases, which are traditionally the kind of things that the I LOVE ME SOME PLAYERS WHO PLAY THE GAME THE RIGHT WAY crowd loves, and which are more or less the reason Trout's WAR total was so much higher than Cabrera's.  I know I'm simultaneously preaching to the choir and shouting into the void here, but holy dogshit, if you're going to make the case for why A was better than B, simply saying "A was great" isn't a very good way to do it.

People here watched Cabrera, 29, tower above the game in 2012. Day after day, game after game, he was a Herculean force. Valuable? What other word was there? 

Defensively inadequate?  Can I use two words like that?

How many late-inning heroics? How many clutch hits? And he only missed one game all year. 

That last stat really makes Justin Verlander's 2011 MVP look silly in hindsight.  Guy didn't even play 75% of the time!

"During the season, a lot of guys tell me I'm gonna be the MVP," Cabrera said, laughing. "But they said the same thing to Trout."
Yes, it's true, Trout is faster, Trout is a better defensive player, 

Here we go!

Trout is a leadoff hitter, and Trout edged Cabrera in several of those made-for-Microsoft categories.

4 WAR is not really an "edged him out" margin, but OK, go ahead.

But if you are going to go molten deep 

Again, this man is paid to use the English language effectively.

into intangibles, 

Like playing defense and stealing bases?

why stop at things like "which guy hit more homers into the power alleys?" (A real statistic, I am sorry to say.)

Still not an intangible.  But in any case, who wants to stop there?  This is the most bizarre and confusing straw man I've ever seen.  "ALL YOU INTANGIBLES LOVERS OUT THERE WHO WANT ME TO CONSIDER TROUT'S DEFENSE AND SPEED, JUST STOP PUSHING HIS POWER ALLEY HOME RUN TOTAL ON ME ALREADY!  WHO CARES ABOUT THE INTANGIBLE THAT IS POWER ALLEY HOME RUNS?"  What?

Why not also consider such intangibles as locker-room presence? Teammates love playing around -- and around with -- Miggy. He helps the room.

When he's not being a total distraction because his wife beat him up and he got a DUI, yes.

How about his effect on pitchers? Nobody wanted the embarrassment of him slamming a pitch over the wall. The amount of effort pitchers expended on Cabrera or the guy batting ahead of him surely took its toll and affected the pitches other batters saw. 

Surely!  Meanwhile, Trout spent the whole season giving opposing pitchers scouting reports on his teammates in exchange for an agreement that those pitchers would throw him BP fastballs.  Hardly a team player.

Why not find a way to measure that? (Don't worry. I'm sure someone is working on it as we speak.)

Why not take three seconds to realize that Trout did the exact same damn thing all season, while batting leadoff?

What about the debilitating power of a three-run homer? How many opposing teams slumped after Cabrera muscled one out? 

Clearly all of them, as evidenced by Detroit's 88-74 record, obtained while playing in the same division as the AL's two worst teams.

How about team confidence? You heard everyone from Prince Fielder to Justin Verlander speak in awed tones about being on the same team as Cabrera. Doesn't that embolden teammates and bring out their best?

I sure don't remember seeing any articles about how Trout energized the Angels and was more or less the sole reason their season turned around the time he was called up.  Anybody else catch any of those?

How about the value of a guy who could shift from first to third base -- as Cabrera did this past season -- to make room for Fielder? Ask manager Jim Leyland how valuable that is.

Yeah, nothing like playing a fat guy out of position so you can add another fat guy to your infield.  True value right there.

How about the fact that Cabrera's team made the playoffs and Trout's did not? ("Yes," countered Team Trout, "but the Angels actually won more games.") 

No response to that completely valid argument is provided.

How about the fact that Cabrera played the whole season while Trout started his in the minors? ("Yes," said the Trout Shouters, "but the Angels won a greater percentage with Trout than Detroit did with Cabrera.")

I like how he thinks that this is a knock on Trout.  Sure, he hit 30 bombs, but he only played in 139 games!  Totally invalidates everything!  /fart

How about this? How about that? The fact is, voters are not instructed to give more credence to any one category than another. Twenty-eight sportswriters, two from each AL city, decide, in their own minds, what is "valuable" and who displayed it the most.
They chose Cabrera.

By an overwhelming majority.

In the end, memories were more powerful than microchips.

I believe that was the original pitch for Forrest Gump.

Which, by the way, speaks to a larger issue about baseball. It is simply being saturated with situational statistics. What other sport keeps coming up with new categories to watch the same game? 

Basketball (PER, +/-)  Hockey (Corsi, Fenwick)  Football (QB Y/A, WR Y/Tgt)?  But wait--are those actually SPORTS, or are they computer games?  Hard to tell.

A box score now reads like an annual report. 

I'd love to be a shareholder of AlbomCorp.  Its annual reports would be awesome, they'd be like THINGS ARE GOING PRETTY GOOD, WE'RE DECLARING A DIVIDEND OF $1,000,000 PER SHARE BECAUSE WE'RE NOT SOME NERD COMPANY THAT USES NUMBERS.

And this WAR statistic -- which measures the number of wins a player gives his team versus a replacement player of minor league/bench talent (honestly, who comes up with this stuff?) 

People who like to know which baseball players are good?

-- is another way of declaring, "Nerds win!"

If you'd prefer the nerds to win after completing a series of athletic and talent show challenges, like in Revenge of the Nerds, I'm sure that can be arranged.

We need to slow down the shoveling of raw data into the "what can we come up with next?" machine. It is actually creating a divide between those who like to watch the game of baseball and those who want to reduce it to binary code.

To the extent such a divide exists, it's entirely the result of the needledicked insecurities of people like you, Mitch.  Your antiquated way of thinking is being challenged by people who like baseball just as much as you do, and have said to themselves, "Hmmmm, stats like RBIs really don't tell us that much about who's good and who isn't.  Maybe there are other, better ways to measure performance.  As someone who likes watching baseball, I'd like to discover/learn about those ways."  Since (most of you) know that you can't make the argument that old stats are more illuminating, of course you and your ilk instead attack the new stat people by saying they don't like to watch baseball, which is elephant shit.  Go read a book, then go fuck yourself, and follow that up by giving the Detroit Free Press your two weeks' notice.  You're a fucking loser and I hope you catch Crohn's disease.  

Christ, I tried to keep it lighthearted, but eventually I got worn down.  Mitch Albom is the fucking worst. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Here's the problem with the people angrily wringing their hands and gnashing their teeth about the Marlins/Blue Jays trade

They are not acknowledging that the trade is a good move for the Marlins.  "They" includes really good writers like Jeff Passan, who carries on forever here about what a piece of shit Jeffrey Loria is.

[Loria and team president David Samson] were two men who for years lied about their finances, lied about their intentions, lied all to get Miami to build them a $634 million ballpark that was supposed to end this wretched cycle of turning a major league franchise into a swap meet.

Yes. They stink.

And yet all this time, throughout the lies, the SEC investigation, the embarrassing payrolls, the pocketing of revenue-sharing dollars...

All of these are shitty things that Loria has done/been involved with.  And yet: the trade was still the right thing for the Marlins to do.  They won 69 games last year.  There's no reason to expect the Nationals or Braves to get worse this coming season.  Would it be better for the Marlins to continue to trot out an expensive but non-competitive team?  When the Red Sox pulled this same exact shit three months ago, there wasn't a peep about embarrassment to the game or other such horseshit.  That's mostly because Loria is a known asshole and John Henry isn't (to the degree he should be), but the fact is that both teams made almost the exact same move and both of them are better off for it.  I'm not the world's biggest Jonah Keri fan, but he hits the nail on the head here.  It's worth a read.  To wit:

Thing is, the Marlins weren't going to win with the players they had, at least not for the foreseeable future. Last offseason, they signed Reyes, Buehrle, and Heath Bell while narrowly whiffing on Albert Pujols, breaking the bank in an attempt to build an exciting, winning team as they moved into a new ballpark. After all that, they won 69 games, finishing second to last in the National League in runs scored while allowing more runs than all but four other NL clubs. Free agents tend to produce their best results early in long-term deals, while they're still at or near their prime, then fall off in later years. The Marlins got productive Year 1 performances from Reyes and Buehrle, bundled them with a talented but hugely injury-prone pitcher in Johnson plus a couple of fungible veterans, and cashed them in for some intriguing prospects, plus the GDP of a Pacific island nation in salary relief.

If the Jeff Pearlmans of the world could stop crying about how the sanctity of baseball has been forever tarnished by this deal, maybe they'd realize what Keri realizes.  But what's the one thing that Keri:

It's a system, first and foremost, in favor of owners who fall in line with the commissioner's office. ... Loria hasn't made McCourt money from baseball yet. But he's pulled off a series of shrewd and increasingly profitable business moves, exploiting all the advantages afforded to members of MLB's ownership cartel.

and Passan:

[N]ot a word from the commissioner. Not a lamentation that by the time the balloon payments on the stadium hit, Miami taxpayers will owe more than $2.4 billion. Not a sign that he intends to protect the sport from the cretins within. And not a chance, unless public outrage on the matter changes his thinking, that he'll use his best-interests-of-baseball clause to keep Jeffrey Loria and David Samson from murdering another baseball market.

agree on?  Not that anyone needed a reminder, but Bud Selig is a real cumbucket.  My advice to you: if what Loria did pisses you off, or at least seems wrong on some level, don't bitch and moan about him.  Bitch and moan about the system that allows him to be him.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

SMTMQR: Gregg is too lazy to not undermine himself

I did not address most of Gregg's political items, but there's this:

And if you don't vote today, promise never, ever to complain about anyone in office, any laws they enact or anyone they place on the courts.

Thanks, unclever bumper sticker attached to a station wagon driven by a high school civics teacher.

Not only did the Oregon-USC and Tennessee-Troy games this weekend break 100 points, in other college action it was Colgate 65, Lafayette 41; Knox 63, Lawrence 42; Carson-Newman 66, Tusculum 36; Augsburg 58, Macalester 41; Ripon 50, Monmouth of Illinois 47.


Sour Play of the Week No. 2: City of Tampa leading 7-3, Oakland faced fourth-and-13 at midfield. The Raiders have executed some nice fake kicks in recent seasons, including a 35-yard run out of punt formation in a 2011 win over the Texans. But that fake punt began on fourth-and-2. At Snoopy Stadium, Pittsburgh's fake field goal attempt was stopped at the Jersey/A goal line when backup corner Michael Coe did not fall for the fake. But the call was promising, since it was only fourth-and-1. A fake punt that begins on fourth-and-13 doesn't stand much chance, the Raiders gaining 4 four yards. Sour.

I include this, like a few other cuts in this post, because it's great cognitive dissonance on Greggggggg's part. Fortune favors the bold! Except when it does not. You're at midfield, don't punt! Except when you should have. This guy puts examples of his dumb maxims failing to hold true in his own damn columns. It really boggles the mind.

Victory was sweet for the vagabond Steelers -- the home team looked like the ones who had left at 4 a.m. that day because they had no hotel. In the fourth quarter, the Pittsburgh offensive line took over, dominating the Jersey/A front seven and helping undrafted Isaac Redman of Division II Bowie State to a career day. It was a sign of the Giants' lack of focus that, Pittsburgh leading 24-20 with 2:45 remaining, Jason Pierre-Paul jumped up to celebrate wildly following a routine tackle. Celebrating after routine plays is bad enough -- celebrating when losing shows lack of focus.

No. Celebrating a tackle when you're losing by 40 shows lack of focus.  If you do it when trailing by 4 and needing a big stop to get your offense the ball back, it shows passion. But if Pierre-Paul were not a first round draft pick you can bet your fucking socks this item wouldn't have made the column. UNDRAFTED DIVISION III PLAYER SHOWS EMOTION: THAT'S WHAT FOOTBALL IS ALL ABOUT.  HIGHLY DRAFTED GLORY BOY SHOWS EMOTION: THAT'S AN AUTOMATIC LOSS.

Unified Field Theory of Creep: Many, many readers including Marcia Bowen of Menlo Park, Calif., noted that Mercedes began running Santa-themed television ads on Nov. 1. Not only that, but the ads proclaimed the start of a "Winter Event" sale -- seven weeks before the beginning of winter in North America. Many other readers including Erin Campbell of Stowe, Vt., noted Home Depot running a Christmas ad on Nov. 2; many other readers including Steffie Eldrews of Austin, Texas, reported a Ford Motors Christmas commercial on Nov. 3.

No one fucking cares. No one. You even promised to stop running this item this year unless it was extra special circumstances. Christmas commercials in November are not extra special, unless you've been in a coma for the last decade.

New Orleans Wins Siesta Bowl: The "Monday Night Football" game, Philadelphia at New Orleans, should have been dubbed the Siesta Bowl, because the loser could take a nice siesta with its season over.

Great breakdown of that "joke." Very necessary. I hope the Eagles had a good time in the Big Sleazy. I call it that because New Orleans's commonly accepted nickname is the Big Easy, but there are a lot of casinos and hookers there, which are kind of sleazy, and sleazy rhymes with easy.

Philadelphia gained 447 yards yet lost badly. The Eagles have the NFL's most elusive quarterback yet surrendered seven sacks. New Orleans could call big blitz after big blitz, confident the Eagles' coaching staff would not adjust, which it did not.

Same as above, with Oakland's fake punt failure. STOP ME BEFORE I BLITZ AGAIN! Unless the blitzes are working, in which case, keep blitzing. GRRRRRRRRRR RAGE RAGE RAGE RAGE

Pulling within 21 points was not the goal -- the apparent goal was to keep a shutout off Whisenhunt's résumé, so that when he faces his end-of-season review and might be fired, one of the complaints won't be, "We got shut out on 'Monday Night Football.'" A coach who's more concerned with keeping a shutout off his résumé than with trying to win is a coach who should receive cab fare to the airport.

Behind "tenths of a second don't exist," I'm pretty sure this is my all time second most hated Easterbrook bit. Which is saying a lot. The competition for those top spots is fierce.

To Be "Accidentally" Disconnected, Press & TMQ dislikes voicemail trots that say, "When you are finished, you may hang up." Thanks for sharing that! Here is what a TMQ corporate voicemail would sound like:
"You have reached Tuesday Morning Quarterback Enterprises. Please listen carefully as our options change at random. Ili contnue katika Kiswahili, vyombo vya habari moja. To be placed on hold, press 2. To hear a computer voice very slowly reading information you already know, press 3. To be misquoted, press 4. To complain about being misquoted, press 5. Use the telephone keypad to enter your account number, followed by the pound sign. You will be connected to someone who will immediately ask for your account number. To leave a message that will never be returned, press 6. To hear these options again, press 7. This call may be recorded for use against you."

/fart sound from nowhere in particular

At least the fact that he stopped doing "Cheerleader of the Week" means he stopped doing those cringe-inducing "here's what this cheerleader might sound like if she were leading a cheer at her other job as a teacher/lab technician/orthodontist's assistant" bits.

Facing fourth-and-goal on the Carolina 2 in the first half, the Redskins went for it. Prized rookie RGIII took a shotgun snap and ran right behind pulling linemen and power backs, a designed quarterback keeper all the way. The attempt failed, as Griffin vanished into a thicket of bodies. The play had begun on the right hashmark -- meaning Skins coaches called a student-body-right style rush to the short side of the field, where there was little space to begin with. What kind of call was that? Maybe the kind of call you make when in place of helmets, your players are wearing what appear to be hollowed-out bowling balls.

FORTUNE FAVORS THE BOLD! Except when it doesn't, because of a bad play call, which is kind of like saying "fortune favors the team that makes good play calls and executes them well, regardless of whether those play calls are conservative or aggressive."

Buck-Buck-Brawckkkkkkk:Trailing 7-0, the Bills had fourth-and-2 on the Texans' 4; amiable, bumbling Buffalo coach Chan Gailey sent in the field goal unit. For the remainder of the contest, Buffalo snapped only once in the Houston red zone. The Bills were a heavy underdog on the road, facing one of the league's top defenses. Settling for three points within view of the goal line was running up the white flag. For about the 10th consecutive season, all Bills fans have to hope for is that the head coach and general manager will be fired and yet another roster housecleaning will begin.

So kicking a field goal on 4th and goal from the 2 is dumb, and going for it on 4th and goal from the 2 is dumb. Got it.

Sportsmanship Watch: Denver leading 31-23 with possession in the final minute, as the Broncos knelt on the ball, Cincinnati did not charge and attempt to injure opposition players, the tactic Schiano the Weasel uses at the Buccaneers. Afterward the Broncos and Bengals took hands, and head coaches politely shook hands. This is sportsmanship.

Green Bay leading Arizona 31-17, the Packers reached first-and-goal inside the two-minute warning, and knelt on the ball. This is sportsmanship.

Pittsburgh leading 24-20 with first-and-10 at the two-minute warning, the Giants out of timeouts, Jersey/A did not charge and attempt to injure opposition players. Afterward the Steelers and Giants took hands, and head coaches politely shook hands. This is sportsmanship.

Go fuck yourself.  Oh my God, please, for the love of all that is holy, let Greg Schiano's "bull rush during the kneeldown to try to force a fumble" tactic win the Buccaneers a game this year. How great would that be? Imagine the hand-wringing and outrage. Jeter did not test positive for steroids before Halloween, so I don't have to donate $1,000 to charity for that, but I'll roll that commitment over for the Schiano scenario. Please let that happen.  Please please please please please please please please please

Sunday, November 4, 2012

I try to avoid posting about bloggers

But this dude blogs for Yahoo so he probably makes decent money for his work (well, some money anyways).  That makes him fair game as far as I'm concerned, and besides, oh my goodness gracious what a fucking idiot.

Where does Andrew Luck ank among NFL quarterbacks at this moment? 

Well, in terms of yards passing, he's now second overall in the league.  That's pretty good, although it's also a function of the fact that his team's running backs are Donald Brown and Vick Ballard.  If you want to use ANY other metric of QB performance, you'll see that Luck ranks pretty low.  24th in QB rating.  29th in completion percentage.  Tied for 17th in touchdown passes.  I can't find a stats site that will rank the league's QBs by TD/INT ratio, but his is 1.25, and that's pretty shitty.  Luck has definitely played decently, especially for a rookie, but he's probably not among the top 20 QBs in the league.

Are there 10 quarterbacks in the league better than him? 

Yes.  There are many more than that, in fact.


Manning, Brady, Ryan, Rodgers, Roethlisberger.  And a bunch of other guys.  Fellow rookie RGIII is outplaying Luck by a pretty significant margin by passing stats alone; add in Griffin's running ability and he's way, way, way better than Luck right now.  Not that RGIII hasn't also received his share of undue hyperbolic praise.  But if someone is going to write an article about how Luck is inserting himself into the MVP discussion (oh yes, he's about to do that, just wait), it seems like "he's not even the best rookie QB in the league" is a good place to start with a counterargument.

What Luck is doing in Indianapolis so far this year is among the most impressive feats a rookie has ever pulled off. 

He's throwing for a lot of yards, in part because he's 3rd in the league in attempts per game with 42.  He's been pretty average.  I know the history of the NFL is littered with crappy rookie QB performances, but it's not like he's setting the world on fire.

Behind his NFL rookie record 433 passing yards, Indianapolis beat Miami 23-20 to improve to 5-3. In a watered-down AFC, the Colts have a great shot at a playoff berth, which is amazing.

The Colts have beaten the Packers, I'll give them that.  On the other hand they've also lost to Jacksonville and been completely humiliated by the fucking Jets.  Their remaining schedule has 5 road games and 3 home games; they play Houston twice and New England.  They'll probably finish 8-8 and if they make the playoffs it'll be predominantly a function of the AFC's shittiness.

This is the same franchise that was in serious danger of going 0-16 last year. 

It's also the same franchise that went 10-6 in 2010 and didn't really lose anyone other than Manning for 2011.  It's not like the roster was a total wasteland when Luck showed up.  They had a horrible 2011, but I doubt they were a true talent 2 win team.  Just like they're not a true talent 10 win team now.

The Colts didn't add much in the free-agent market this offseason, realizing they faced a long-term rebuilding project.

Their offense had/still has plenty of quality pieces.  Their defense put up poor numbers last year, but those were skewed by the fact that the defense spent so much time on the field because the offense was abominable.  It was probably a middle of the pack defense, give or take, as it is this year and was in 2010.  They traded for Vontae Davis during the preseason.  Not really a "we don't expect to be good this year" kind of move.  I hate to be the bearer of bad news but you're going to have give other Colts besides Luck credit for their "5-3 although we're really not that good" start.

But they added Luck. And now they are halfway to a 10-win season and a wild-card berth.  Sometimes success in the NFL is as easy as having a great quarterback.

Just ask any of the vapid talking heads on FOX or CBS's pre/postgame studio shows!  That must mean it's true!

Luck was dominant against the Dolphins. 

He was pretty good.  He completed 63% of his passes and led his team to a 3 point win, at home, against another mediocre team.  

He completed 30-of-48 passes for 433 yards, with two touchdowns and no interceptions. He broke the Colts' rookie record for passing in a game - set by Jack Trudeau with 359 yards in 1986, of course. Were you expecting someone else?

The Colts had a more memorable rookie quarterback who set records that Luck is gaining on. ESPN Stats and Info said Luck is the second rookie in NFL history with four 300-yard passing games. The other was Peyton Manning in 1998. Luck has half a season left to add to that total.

And if he keeps throwing 42 times per game, he's got a good shot at getting there.

Two Colts receivers had 100-yard games on Sunday: Donnie Avery and T.Y. Hilton. That's not exactly Swann and Stallworth. 

And those guys often get single coverage because the Colts still have Reggie Wayne, who's still really good.  

The Colts could go from a team that started 0-13, brought back a roster that isn't dramatically better than last season and had the horrible situation of coach Chuck Pagano being diagnosed with leukemia during the season, to one that goes to the playoffs. Luck's impact on the first half of this NFL season can't be overstated. 

It certainly can.  Congratulations for accomplishing the impossible, sir.

He should be considered a legitimate MVP candidate through eight games.

Not even close.

If Luck isn't already considered in the elite tier of NFL quarterbacks, 

He's not.

his inclusion on that list will be an easy decision very soon, 

He looks pretty decent so far.  Maybe in a few seasons, depending on like twenty different factors.  So basically he has as good a shot as any talented-but-mediocre-so-far rookie would have of eventually joining those ranks, which is probably worse than 50/50.

especially as the Colts start to add pieces around him. 

Yeah, maybe an elite #1 wide receiver type guy.  They certainly don't have one of those right now.  (He would benefit from the presence of a running back who's not Donald Brown or Vick Ballard, I'll concede that.)

Indianapolis picked the perfect year to be awful and earn the first overall pick.

There's a chance Luck will end up being better than other QBs picked #1 overall recently, like Newton or Stafford or Bradford.  There's even a chance he's as good as Manning or Elway one day.  And then there's also a chance he's never any better than middle of the pack, because playing QB in the NFL is fucking difficult.  Up until this point I had no strong feelings either way on Luck.  Thanks to this article, which other than the fact that it uses correct spelling/grammar/capitalization sounds like it was written by a poster at, I now hope he fails spectacularly.