Monday, February 27, 2012

Bob Nightengale Writes News Story As Opinion Piece

One thing that struck me in the fallout of the Ryan Braun case is how many pundits and fans are decrying the verdict as "a technicality" or "fraudulent" with absolute certainty. Given this case is littered with half truths, rumors, and innuendoes, how can they be so certain? Oh, because "journalists" are propagating half-truths and rumors as facts. I don't know if Braun is "innocent" but what I do know is that we are lacking most of the facts one might want in order to make such a judgment. So where is this certainty coming from? Where are people getting the idea that half truths=truths? Hmmm.....anyway.Here is a straight news piece by Bob Nightengale in USA Today which passes off half-truths and lies of omission as straight fact. As opposed to traditional FJayM fashion, I'm just going to add objective statements  in bold. No commentary, no snark. Just facts that Nightengale finds unimportant to a story of Ryan Braun trying to find redemption after many continue to brand him a cheater after winning an arbitration case invalidating his positive drug test:

PHOENIX – National League MVP Ryan Braun won his appeal against Major League Baseball but is still trying to establish his innocence after his confidential steroids results were leaked, violating MLB's collective bargaining agreement and branded him a cheater before due process was allowed to take shape .
The Milwaukee Brewers left fielder, who was facing a 50-game suspension, became the first major league player to win his drug appeal that we know of, due to the unusual nature of Braun's test being illegally leaked last week, at least in part because of procedural error in collecting his urine sample as well as--according to sources like Will Carroll--because his lawyers were able to demonstrate that that procedural error could have resulted in a false positive.
Braun, speaking passionately in a 25-minute news conference Friday, insisted that he had never taken an illegal substance and his reputation shouldn't have been sullied, supporting that claim by asserting that he has passed 25 other drug tests.
“There's a lot of haters," he said. "There's a lot of people who doubt me. … I'm not dumb enough to pretend like this is going to go away. I recognize this is a challenge that I'm going to have to face for some time."
Braun's credibility might have taken its biggest hit from MLB officials. Rob Manfred, president of labor relations, chastised arbitrator Shyam Das' ruling and was incensed when Braun called the drug-testing system "fatally flawed."
"People are now going to question everything that happens, and rightfully so," Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy said. "Even though Braunie cleared this up, this will be attached to him the rest of his life. He'll be painted with a broad brush that he's a cheater. And that's sad."
Braun submitted a drug test Oct. 1 at 4:30 p.m. local time after the Brewers' 4-1 home victory against the Arizona Diamondbacks in Game 1 of the NL Division Series. The administrator, identified by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel as Dino Laurenzi Jr., went to a FedEx location that was closed. Braun claimed there are myriad Fed Ex's that are open past 9 PM on Saturday nights, including the one closes to Miller Park. No one on MLB's end has disputed this claim. He stored the sample in his refrigerator for 44 hours before shipping it to a drug testing laboratory in Montreal, or according to many reports he simply left it on a counter in his home without refrigeration. The delay, Braun said, allowed ample time for someone to contaminate his sample.
"Why he didn't bring it in, I don't know," Braun said. "Why was there zero documentation? What could have possibly happened to it during that 44-hour period? There were a lot of things that we learned about the collector, the collection process, about the way the entire thing worked that made us very concerned and very suspicious about what could have actually happened. …
"We spoke to biochemists and scientists and asked them how difficult would it be to tamper with somebody's sample. Their response was that if they were motivated, it would be extremely easy."
MLB vehemently denied that the sample was contaminated, saying none of the three seals was broken when it arrived at the lab, although some sources claim that the three seal procedure does not exist and others claim it is easy to forge such a sealing process. Braun won his appeal, according to MLB, because of a procedural irregularity. Other sources, who do not have a vested interest in painting the arbitration process as a tiny loophole, have claimed that there were biological and chemical elements to Braun's defense.
"The extremely experienced collector acted in a professional and appropriate manner," Manfred said in a statement. "He handled Mr. Braun's sample consistent with instructions issued by our jointly retained collection agency. The arbitrator found that those instructions were not consistent with certain language in our program, even though the instructions were identical to those used by many other drug programs. The question of how this is relevant to the Braun case was not addressed by Manfred.
"Our program is not 'fatally flawed.' Changes will be made promptly to clarify the instructions provided to collectors regarding when samples should be delivered to FedEx based on the arbitrator's decision. Neither Mr. Braun nor the MLBPA contended in the grievance that his sample had been tampered with or produced any evidence of tampering." In fact, many sources said that Braun's team argued that the test--which yielded testosterone levels three times (or greater, depending on sources) higher than the highest recorded positive--might have been a result of improper storage affecting the testosterone count.
Victor Conte, founder of the Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative (BALCO) and convicted felon with a vested interest in showing the widespread usage of Performance Enhancing Drugs, says MLB can avoid problems by using a carbon isotope ratio test, which he said can easily confirm whether synthetic testosterone is discovered in the system.
"If they used this test, they would bust everybody," Conte said, in an attempt to play down his place in the public eye as anomalous criminal. "There's no radar to go under, no loophole. They're not using designer steroids, but they're using fast-acting testosterone." Conte is, of course, not an expert on Performance Enhancing Drugs but in fact a convicted felon who served time in federal prison for conspiracy, money laundering, and bribing grand juries.
Says Brewers pitcher and player representative Chris Narveson, "We want drug testing. But we just want it done right."

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Proof from 2009 that Bill Simmons is very proud of Bill Simmons

If Grantland were a classic rock radio station, this would be a Bill Simmons *absurd radio promo announcer voice*


It's an old Simmons brainshit, unearthed and republished last week because the world needs to re-see this man's brilliance. Or something. Actually, there's not a single fucking reason in the world why it should have been republished. The desperate attempt to paint the completely obvious as brilliantly analytical, as well as the unbridled navel-gazing, begins... meow.

The following originally ran July 17, 2009, as part of a Friday mailbag.

Ah, that one. One of my favorites. Unfortunately Jack M didn't cover this particular question, probably because he realized that addressing it would be even more of a waste of time than writing posts for an unread anti-sports media blog usually is.

Q: Thought of this after Michael Jackson's death:

Too bad? Who didn't see that one coming? Was foul play involved? Do I have to go to work tomorrow? Some kind of pedophile joke?

Which famous singer would have dominated American Idol the most had he/she started his/her career as a contestant on the show?

Oh OF COURSE. "Hey Bill, thought of this when I heard about that prison fire in Honduras last week- how would Dustin Pedroia fare on The Bachelor?"

I thought MJ around the "Off the Wall" era, but then realized he would not have been eligible because of his Jackson 5 fame. So who? Please don't tell me John Mayer, circa 2005.

-- Cliff, Portland, Ore.

There are idiotic questions written by pandering Simmons fanboy assholes, then there are extremely idiotic questions written by pandering Simmons fanboy cuntrag cockwads, then there's that kid who wrote in to tell Bill how he and his friends shout at strangers all the time to act like Kevin Garnett, THEN there's the guy who wrote in to tell Bill about the imaginary friend his friends "brought" on their Vegas trip, and THEN there's this question from Cliff in Portland.

SG: Come on, Cliff, 2005 Mayer would have rolled through that show every week, caused a national riot and had Paula whipping her ovaries at him. Anyone non-threatening with undeniable talent who can play guitar, play the piano or belt out tunes is going to succeed on Idol.

I don't watch the show, but I imagine dozens of contestants who fit that description have failed over the years.

Young Alicia Keys would have crushed Idol. Same for the dude from Maroon 5.

Grrrrrr what a punchable face he has.

Norah Jones would have done well. You get the idea.

Let me name some talented, famous musicians and then tell you about how well they'd do on a show that judges musicians by their talent.

But there is one answer for your question and only one: Whitney Houston.

She's like Michael Jackson in this respect: All the craziness with her personal life these past 12-15 years ended up overshadowing the eight to 10 years before it.

What? No way. What a controversial and unorthodox stance to take re: one of the most famous career-overshadowy train wrecks of the past 25 years.

Young Whitney was like LeBron crossed with Tiger.

Crossed with Malcolm Gladwell, attached to Chuck Klosterman's ass.

Actually, you can't even compare her to anything. Let's say you rated a young female singer from 1 to 50 in five categories: likability, attractiveness, singing voice, pedigree and stage presence. Young Whitney was a 50 in all of them. Has anyone else ever cracked 45?

Quick, ponder the rhetorical question based on a nonsensical set of criteria I just invented! Now think about how smart I am for having pointed out that Whitney Houston was attractive and talented. (Smugly nodding.) (Smelling own fart and smugly nodding while flaring my nostrils.)

One of the many fascinating subplots of the mid-80s:

Decades don't have plots or subplots. No matter how spectacularly you failed in your quest to become a Hollywood writer, you can't make up for it by pretending that everything in the world is part of a narrative.

you had a male singer (Jackson), a female singer (Whitney), a boxer (Mike Tyson), a baseball pitcher (Dwight Gooden) and an actor/comedian (Eddie Murphy) who peaked at precociously young ages, convinced us they were headed toward becoming the "greatest (fill in the genre) of all time" … only none of them made it. Not one.

Fucking puh-leeze. Shit happens all the time. Let's try the late 90s since I'm pretty familiar with them there days. R. Kelly, the Spice Girls (yes I went there), I'm subbing in Terrell Davis for a boxer because fuck it who's going to stop me, Kerry Wood, Chris Farley. Fine. Laugh all you want, I put the Spice Girls on there and didn't have a boxer. The point is, much as he is convinced that he is at the center of the universe, unexploited talent is not something unique to Bill's prep school days.

I would argue Whitney barely edges out Gooden as the biggest tragedy of the five.

No one worth listening to would disagree, because comparing a vocalist to a pitcher is fucking stupid.

Eddie had a phenomenal nine-year run of SNL episodes, movies and comedy specials before his movie career went Barry Zito on us.

He's like Ryan Reynolds! Not a real movie star!

Tyson had a number of memorable fights and made such an impact that I have been pushing for ESPN to have "Tyson Week" (like Shark Week) for this entire decade. Jackson had all the Jackson 5 stuff, "Off the Wall," "Thriller" and "Bad" before things started getting weird. But Whitney should have been the black Streisand:


an iconic singer/actress who aged with her audience, lasted for decades and was mentioned in the first breath any time someone asked, "Who were the biggest female performers ever?"

There are much better ways to express that than "Black Streisand."

Instead, it was over for her in eight years. Incredible.

Let's take a quick break and make sure everyone is soaking this up. Not just the content of Bill's answer, but also the fact that Grantland dug it up and got it linked on the front page of last week. Bask in the amazingnessity, readers of the guy who knows his readers... this man, in the year 2009, was prepared to tell us that Whitney Houston squandered her talent and never became what she could have.


(Picking lint from my belly button.)

Anyway, let's say 1985 Whitney shows up for Idol tryouts next January. Only 21 years old, she comes out for her audition, smiles at the judges and belts out "Saving All My Love" like she does in this Letterman clip. Can you imagine the reaction? Wouldn't the judges have been a stammering puddle like Letterman was after that? I say '85 Whitney pulls away from the field like Secretariat in the Belmont, trounces '05 John Mayer, crushes Alicia Keys, obliterates the Maroon 5 guy. … Nobody touches her. Not for a second.

Finally! The argument as to whether or not a talented attractive singer could succeed on a show geared towards talented attractives singers is settled! You're welcome, America. If you need Bill, he'll be in his trailer, settling this whole federal budget mess.

One last Whitney story because I think it explains the "you had to be there" aspect of Whitney's brief apex.

Please let this be about his own experience listening to Houston. Please please please. This guy is convinced that the world turns because he walks on it. No way can he pass up the opportunity to tell us what his Whitney Houston listening experience was like. C'monnnnnnn

My father took me


to visit Tufts University right around the time her first album came out.

Now tell us about a Celtics game he took you to!

Dad was looking for parking

(Riveted to this scandalous tale.)

and "Saving All My Love" had just come on the radio. About halfway through the song, he found a spot and I thought we were getting out of the car.

(Eating popcorn.)

He told me to hold on until the end of the song. When I made fun of him, he explained simply, "Whitney really belts it out in this one."

Move over, Mike Brady! There's a new paragon of fatherly wisdom on the scene.

You have to know my dad.

I feel like I do at this point. He's the guy who, after Boston teams won like twenty titles last decade, wept with relief when the Bruins won the 2011 Stanley Cup because he was worried he'd die without seeing another one after the Cup they won alllllllll the way back in 1972. (Eat your hearts out, Cleveland/Buffalo/Seattle/etc. fans.) I'd like to attack him with a hammer.

He never, EVER says things like this. And you know what? He was right.

Man, I feel like I was right there with you in the car during this boring and probably fabricated conversation.

I didn't even challenge it. I just don't think there's ever been another singer who would have kept two people in their car during a random winter day in New England like that.

"Random" is the new favorite word for boring people with poor vocabularies. Sit in a quiet coffee shop or bar for 15 minutes and you'll probably hear 4 or 5 people use it. And they'll probably be vapid 20somethings, or Bill Simmons. At this point I'd also like to congratulate myself for making it almost all the way through this post without a single "Boston is full of racists so how could you enjoy Whitney Houston" joke.

Just Whitney.

Three years ago this zilcheroo proclaimed that a very famous performer well-known for destroying her career with bad decisions did in fact destroy her career with bad decisions. In a development that surprised exactly no one, decisions of a similar nature killed her last week. And so we get to read about how bad decisions destroyed her life... one more time. This is the journalistic equivalent of printing your own money. It's obscene. Just fucking kill me before this guy gets any more popular and powerful.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

I have a Simmons post waiting in the wings, I promise

It'll be ready in a hot minute (or 24 hot hours). In the meantime, since I'm low on sleep and creativity, let's continue to beat this long-dead "ESPN is a fucking tabloid" horse into unrecognizable smithereens. I only write 1.5 posts a week and something from this topic area is usually one of them, true, but take a look at their front page news stories as of Tuesday night:

Five of those eleven stories can be best characterized as omgDRAMAwaittilyouhearTHIS. God only knows why they didn't have the Quinn/Tebow dogshit up there; probably because CBS or NBC owns GQ or something. Man, that list just blows my mind. As Jack M put it, that Lin/Humphries story is the Pentagon Papers of sports news, isn't it? Engaging. Captivating. Relevant to each and every American. (And yes, it is what you think: sound bites from Humphries explaining that Lin told him he's a good player and to ignore the thousands of fuckwits that boo him everywhere he goes.)

Meanwhile, in BizzaroBristol CBS, FOX/MSN, and CNNSI were rolling out a lineup that was actually mostly about sports. What a mindfuck.

By my count that's 26 of 33 headlines about actual, like, stuff, that's like, happening and kinda sorta matters. Who reads that shit? Stop teasing me with substantive news and give me the good shit. Has Jeremy Lin tweeted about Favre and A-Rod recently? Has LeBron tweeted anything about what Lin tweeted about Favre and A-Rod? Has Big Papi flipped his bat at spring training yet? TELL ME MORE ABOUT WHETHER OR NOT PITTSBURGH'S FAVORITE OAF/RAPIST IS GETTING CALLS FROM HIS NEW COORDINATOR IN MID FEBRUARY. IF THEY DON'T BUILD THAT RELATIONSHIP NOW HOW ARE THEY GOING TO WIN ANY PREPREPREPRESEASON GAMES?

My laziness and inability to write a quality post this week is eclipsed only by my disdain for everything that is ESPN. And do I visit several times a day? Of course I do. Because I'm a fucking sheep. Man, I hate everything right now.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Oh shut up, Jonah Keri

I'd like to open this post with a three paragraph rant about why Jonah Keri annoys me, but I don't have the time or energy and you probably wouldn't have the patience to read it. My damn high school language arts teachers told me a thousand times to "show not tell" when it comes to writing effectively, so I think I will take their advice to heart and jump right into the article. I will not take any other advice they gave me to heart, as doing so might cause me to become a crazy divorcee with seven cats.

/cheap shot at perfectly nice people

Houston, We Have (Lots of) Problems
The Astros' blueprint for rebuilding

Fuck NASA for putting their mission control center in Houston. Thanks for decades of godawful lines like that, with decades more doubtless to come.

There are thousands of ingredients that go into building a successful baseball franchise. But sometimes the difference between a great franchise and a lousy one can be summed up with a single number.

This was published on Grantland, which is why Jonah channels Simmons (who is in turn channeling that worthless shithead Malcolm Gladwell) in his first sentence by handing us an obnoxiously oversimplified explanation. Ever read "The Tipping Point?" Don't, it's a waste of fucking time. Sometimes what started a small idea or event picks up speed and turns into a really huge idea or event thanks to certain factors. SPOILER ALERT. Oh sorry, should have said that before the other sentence.

In 2005, 2006, and 2007, the St. Louis Cardinals drafted a total of 24 players who've since made it to the big leagues — the highest number for any team during that three-year span. The Cardinals won the World Series last year thanks in large part to players like Jaime Garcia, Jon Jay, Allen Craig, and Lance Lynn.

In the 2005, 2006, and 2007 amateur drafts, the Houston Astros drafted a total of four players who've since made it to the big leagues, the lowest rate of return in the majors. The Astros went 56-106 last year, good for the worst record in baseball and the worst in franchise history.

And this is why Jonah Keri stinks. He found a cool stat, completely unworthy of anything more than a tweet, and is now trying to build his whole argument around it. DUR THE ASTROS NEED TO DRAFT BETTER. No fucking shit they do! But that stat and the Garcia/Jay/Craig/Lynn bit distort the issue beyond usefulness. As soon as you start saying the Cardinals had a parade and raised a flag "in large part" due to those four guys, you're ruining your article. I can no longer read it. As I stare at the page and try to process the words, all my mind can see is a picture of you wearing a dunce cap while grinning like Lloyd Christmas.

Garcia was halfway decent during the regular season (3.56 ERA but only 1 WAR) and postseason, although he did his best to try to make sure the Brewers got to the WS instead of the Cardinals (2 NLCS starts, 8.2 IP, 7 ER). John Jay was a 4th OF who moved into CF after Colby Rasmus got traded. He was worth a whole 1.3 WAR during the regular season and then mashed his way to a .182/.262/.218 triple slash in 63 playoff PAs. Allen Craig had more WAR than Garcia and Jay combined even though he only got 219 regular season PAs, and crushed the ball in the World Series, but it's not like he was on the short list for team MVP. And Lance Lynn threw a whole 34 regular season innings and got lit up in the WS. The totals for these four guys: 5.8 WAR, half of which were Craig's.

Sure, they needed every win they got just to make the postseason. You still can't say they won that title "in large part" due to these guys. It's preposterous. It's not close to close to being true. Pujols, Carpenter, Holliday, and Berkman generated 20ish WAR. Only one of them is a Cardinals farm product, and the one who was most important down the stretch and in the playoffs (Carpenter, DUH) was acquired via free agency.

Twenty-four to four. That's what separates baseball's champs from its chumps.

No, what separated them last year was 1) the Cardinals having one of the ten greatest hitters of all time 2) the Cardinals having a dominant pitcher get hot at the right time 3) the Cardinals striking paydirt on Berkman, who appeared to be mostly done in late 2010 4) the Braves taking a gigantic shit in their collective bed and then playfully rolling in it rather than bothering to show up for any of their September games.

Dumbass fans of faux-objectivity say "HEY KERI SOMETIMES WRITES STUFF FOR FANGRAPHS THAT MUST MEAN HE'S A BASEBALL SUPERGENIUS!" Meanwhile, he's distributing garbage like this. The article goes on for another 1000+ words describing changes in the Astros front office (getting rid of Ed Wade might be the platonic ideal of addition by subtraction), but why read it? I'm too distracted by this nonsense. Writing that those four homegrown players are "in large part" to be thanked for the 2011 Cardinals championship is no less obnoxious than the hundreds of "that Eckstein really has some heart, doesn't he?" articles that prompted the invention of the internet back in 2006.

Call this post nitpicky if you want; I'm sure that's what the mouth-breathers from FanGraphs would do if they knew/cared about little ol' FJayM. If you read Keri frequently, though, I hope you'd at least agree with me when I say that he's not nearly as baseball savvy or as good a writer as he thinks he is. In other words, this post is about more than a quick throwaway intro of his. It's about everything he writes. In other other words, I don't know how well this post will stand up and feel the need to make excuses about it before anyone even gets a chance to read it. That's probably a good clue that it's time for me to stop writing. I wonder what's on TV?

/turns on Sportscenter

/has seizure

Sunday, February 12, 2012

MMTMQR: Gregg ends the season about as well as Tom Brady did HEY-OHHH

A fair assessment of Brady's overall performance in the playoffs and the Super Bowl? A timely joke given that I'm finally getting around to writing this on Sunday night? No and no. Well, no and maybe. Also, before I dive into this crap, big ups to reader James B. He's one of the six people out there still regularly checking in (and sent me an email to that effect), so I owe him a shout out. Yes I know no one else reading this cares. Man, I feel like Peter King right now.

It would be easy to say New England's nemesis is the Giants -- but Lady Luck has been as big a factor for the most accomplished football team of the 21st century. Whenever a football game ends with a margin of less than a touchdown, the contest might have gone either way based on a bounce of the ball.

Worst possible starting point for analysis. Worst. Wurst. Blurst. Blurworst.

In New England's three Super Bowl victories, the critical bit of luck favored the Patriots. In New England's two Super Bowl loses, the critical bit of luck favored the Giants.

Put on your aluminum foil hats, everyone. Keep the brainwaves flowing so you can comprehend the nothingness coming off of this simpleton's keyboard. "If a game is close, basically we can just boil it down to luck and call it a day. ALSO, CAN YOU BELIEVE HOW UNREALISTIC BABYLON 5 WAS?"


In the 2002 Super Bowl against the St. Louis Rams, New England was outgained by 160 yards. But Rams quarterback Kurt Warner had an unblocked rusher in his face and short-armed a pass that Ty Law cut in front of and returned for a touchdown. New England went on to a three-point victory.

Great defensive gameplanning and playcalling? Luck, because on this one specific play it just so happened that the right defenders were in the right places to generate a defensive TD. Another hugely lucky play from recent Super Bowl history: the pick six by Nick Collins in the first quarter of last year's Super Bowl (he just as easily could have run the wrong way for a safety after catching the Roethlisberger pass!).

In the 2004 Super Bowl against the Carolina Panthers, the Panthers tied the score with 1:08 remaining. But the Panthers' place-kicker honked the kickoff, which went out of bounds. Taking possession on their 40, the Patriots moved into position for the winning field goal just ere the clock struck midnight.

But the Patriots outgained the Panthers in that game. Those lucky Panthers were lucky they had a chance to win the luckiest game in the history of luck.

Midway through the 2005 Super Bowl against the Philadelphia Eagles, New England safety Eugene Wilson went out injured, which sent a rookie into the game. But the Eagles' coaching staff did not realize there was a backup at safety until about five minutes remained.

And Reid? Shitty in-game coach? NEVER.

Then the Eagles, who had only one receiver per side most of the second half, lined up with double wides and ran a deep post at the new defender -- touchdown. The Patriots held on to win by three. Had Philadelphia attacked the novice safety earlier, the outcome could have been different.

Still not luck. Good fortune, perhaps, or more accurately a reflection of complete dumbassery on the part of your opponent. It's worth noting that he's probably completely bullshitting about this whole situation; sort of like how according to Gregg, if you watch any play in which someone scored a touchdown, there were AT LEAST seven defenders STANDING AROUND DOING NOTHING AT ALL!

In the 2008 Super Bowl versus the Giants, perhaps you have heard about a long catch a Jersey/A player made against his helmet. New England lost by three.

Yes, that is actually luck. Or at least a much better example of it than "the Patriots called a successful blitz which led to a duck of a pass which was picked off- it's just like winning the lottery!"

And with four minutes remaining in Sunday's Super Bowl, Wes Welker, among the most reliable receivers in football annals, dropped a pass that would have put New England in position to ice the game. New England went on to lose by four.

Welker's drop was 10% of the reason that play didn't work. Brady's awful throw was the other 90%. The dearth of analysts willing to confront that reality doesn't surprise me, but does disappoint me. One of the few I've seen who acknowledge it? None other than Simmons (probably because he's decided that Brady IS NAWT A TRUE BAWSTONIAN and used Brady as a whipping boy in his pity party wrap-up column).

In many aspects of life, luck is a bigger factor than we care to admit.

Watch out, here comes social scientist Gregg! He's only marginally less of a stumpfucker than football analyst Gregg.

We want to think some become rich and others poor based on merit, not luck.

And what's up with Jews getting rich off of violent movies? HAVE THEY NO SHAME?

We want to think some teams win and others lose because the winner "deserved" laurels.

Which is very, very often the case.

In a 20-point football win, the winner did deserve to win. In games that come down to the final snap, either team might have prevailed: luck calls the ultimate shot.

(Holding my head in my hands, considering pulling out my hair.)

TMQ praises the "all-unwanted NFL player who was undrafted or waived or both, yet never gives up. Eleven undrafted free agents started in the Super Bowl, versus 10 first-round draft choices.

Those GLORY BOY failures! Nevermind that at any given point in time, there are only maybe 150-200 1st round picks on rosters in the entire league, versus hundreds and hundreds more undrafted players. Titillating news flash for everyone, from the brain of football savant Gregg: sometimes, 1st round draft choices flame out. Other times guys who didn't get drafted, perhaps because they were injured their senior year of college, succeed in the NFL. You're welcome.

Undrafted Chase Blackburn made the game's most important play;

First overall pick Eli Manning and 3rd round draft choice Mario Manningham made the game's most important play.

Blackburn wasn't even on an NFL roster this season until Thanksgiving. Undrafted Victor Cruz from Division I-AA Massachusetts scored a touchdown,

He's now asking to be highly paid. TRAITOR!

undrafted Danny Woodhead from Division II Chadron State scored a touchdown. No first-round draft choice scored a touchdown.

Riveting stuff. Very valuable information, from which you can draw tons of non-worthless conclusions. Such as: getting rid of first round picks is the key to reaching the Super Bowl. And: Gregg Easterbrook's brain must rattle around the inside of his skull if he walks too quickly.

If not Lady Luck, did the football gods determine Sunday's outcome?


This being the season of Roman numerals,


I will state my view in the Roman tongue, with thanks to Josh Rasmussen, a Latin teacher at Bishop Dunne Catholic School in Dallas:

Caelicoli mortales puniunt, nam eos desidera paene adipisci sinunt; tum demum haec eripiunt. Di pilae calciatae New England Patriots semper punient, dum Bill Belichick se in Spygate fefellisse confiteatur.

Still not as pretentious as the "Wacky Wine of the Week" bit he ran a few times.

Brady looked deep and saw Rob Gronkowski, with the most touchdowns in the NFL this season, streaking deep with no safety in sight, covered only by undrafted linebacker Chase Blackburn. Watching at Lucas Oil, I thought when Brady escaped the rush and spied Gronkowski, the Patriots were about to make the deciding play. Brady heave-hoed -- just as Jason Pierre-Paul hit him hard. The ball was underthrown, Blackburn intercepted and the momentum swung to the Giants. Sweet.


Think about the coaching situation. New England had a two-point lead and faced second-and-11 on the Jersey/A 44 with 4:06, the Giants already down to one timeout. Two straight incompletions stopped the clock, keeping Jersey/A alive. On the downs that became the Welker and Branch incompletions, had New England simply rushed for no gain, Jersey/A would have gotten the ball back on its 12 with one timeout and less than three minutes. Maybe the Giants would have won anyway,

Well yeah, seeing as how their game winning TD drive took 2:49, I'm pretty fucking sure the whole "just run up the middle for no gain!" thing wouldn't have made a difference here. Not that it ever does. How fast must Gregg's heart be pounding when a team runs up the middle with an undrafted/unwanted RB like Woodhead? I feel dirty just thinking about it.

but the situation on the Jersey/A sideline would have been more tense.

Yeah, it would have gone from a 9.7 to a 9.9 on a 1 to 10 scale.

Yes, the New England offense is good at completing passes. But Belichick's disdain for the rush

"Yes, this team has built its wildly successful offense around a historically great QB and his high percentage passing game for a decade now. BUT STILL, THREE YARDS AND A CLOUD OF DUST DERP DERPY DERP"

hurt the team in a Super Bowl clock-killer situation. The Giants' defense had its linebackers backed off, expecting pass, on both downs.

Shame on you, Perry Fewell! You should refuse your ring and give your SB bonus check to Victor Cruz!

And on procedurals, the police always catch the bad guy. Actually a significant number of homicides are never solved, while most burglaries never even lead to an arrest. Of course, procedurals are just Hollywood nonsense.

These are just three sentences from a 4000+ word rant (I copied and pasted it into Word just to verify the length) in this column about how unrealistic CSI-type shows are. Words fail me, and they will fail you should you choose to read it. He sounds like Keith Law complaining about Moneyball, noting that actual police work is much less exciting than it's portrayed on TV. Wouldn't advertisers line up around the block to sponsor a show that features cops mindlessly searching a crime scene for clues that probably don't exist, and then filling out mountains of paperwork?

Final State Standings: Tuesday Morning Quarterback's annual State Standings are based on the states in which teams actually play: Maryland teams are the Ravens and Redskins, and so on. California, Pennsylvania and Texas, traditional football hotbed states, finished a respectable 69-48; the other traditional football hotbed states, Florida and Ohio, limped in at 28-53. The year's Super Bowl was held in the state that finished last in the State Standings.

Wisconsin: 15-2

Massachusetts: 15-4

Louisiana: 14-4

Pennsylvania: 20-13

California: 30-20

New Jersey: 21-15

Georgia: 10-7

Michigan: 10-7

Texas: 19-15

Tennessee: 9-7

Maryland: 18-16

Colorado 9-9

Arizona 8-8

Illinois 8-8

Washington: 7-9

Ohio: 13-20

North Carolina: 6-10

New York: 6-10

Florida: 15-33

Missouri: 9-23

Minnesota: 3-13

Indiana: 2-14

Anybody learn anything from that? (Waits for nodding.) (Sees none.) (Nods in approval.)

Plus ca Change, Plus C'est la Meme Chose: Only 13 of the 44 starters were the same as when the Patriots and Giants met in the Super Bowl four years ago; three of the four coordinators had changed, too.

If you are surprised or fascinated by that, you either don't follow the NFL at all or are Peter King.

Super Bowl Postscripts: Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride elaborately warmed up on the field pregame, including doing standing and prone hurdlers' stretches. Do you need to be warm and loose to call passes?

How dare he enjoy that moment!

Reader Mike Jones of Indianapolis notes, "If Tom Brady's career was happening in reverse, the way Merlin lived going backward in time, the media would be saying right now that Brady just can't win the big game."

Someone in Indianapolis key that guy's car please.

New England was the home team of record, meaning its choice of what to wear. Belichick chose the teams' blues -- the same color New England was wearing when it lost to the Giants in their previous Super Bowl meeting. OK, sports superstitions lack a certain factual grounding.

You have to be fucking kidding me. You. Of all people. In this column. No fucking way.

But New England could have opted to wear its whites.

The Giants are super lucky they didn't!

As usual, I recommend you employ the offseason to engage in spiritual growth. Take long walks. Exercise more and eat less. Perform volunteer work. Appreciate the beauty of nature. Attend worship services of any faith. Read, mediate, serve others. Do these things, and you will feel justified in racing back to the remote, the swimsuit calendars and the microbrews when the football artificial universe resumes in the autumn.

First of all, I don't think anyone is racing (or racing back) to swimsuit calendars in August/September. That aside, I will agree to do all those things during the next six months as long as you agree to do one: try to learn a single fucking thing about how football is played. Kthx.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

HEY! Don't you like SPORTS?

Of course you don't! You just pretend to like sports because it's a conduit for the exciting off the field drama and irrelevant bullshit that really make your dick hard! Celebrity gossip is too feminine for your tastes (and that suddenly hard dick you've got). You and your halfwit friends wouldn't be caught dead sitting around watching reality TV; but a football game on a football field? Now that's footballtaining! Of course, I'm talking about the storylines and trash talk and hissy fits and other thrilling events that don't really have anything to do with the games being played. The games themselves are like "eh." Here, I'll stop trying to explain you to yourself and just show you a screencap of ESPN's front page stories right now.

Let's take a look, going down the list in order.

#1: Fair enough, that's sports. It's part of RIVALRY WEEK full of RIVALRY GAMES like this one, during which most of the country was not rooting for either team but was in fact rooting for THE METEOR.

#2: Also sports... a tragic, pathetic part of the world of sports right now but still legitimate sports topic all the same.

#3: I don't think I have to explain to you what's going on here.

#4 and #5: You're cool, although the obnoxious crescendo of will he won't he omg what's he going to do stories is just about as fun as the same stories Carmelo generated last year at this time.

#6: Well, there are two really really important stories that came out of the Super Bowl. I'm sure you'll agree with me that they are 1) what the losing QB's wife had to say about the QB's teammates and 2) what the winning team's backup RB had to say about 1).

#7: Holy shit, is that a soccer story? Of course it's fairly common knowledge that ESPN has invested heavily in soccer broadcasting rights in recent years, but if you didn't know that, this would be a good clue to you that it were the case.

#8: Oh, one last really important story from Super Bowl weekend- what some asshole who hasn't played in four years thinks about what a current player did once the season was over.

#9: Actual sports. BORRRRRIIIIING

#10: Not mindless gossip or "drama," but utterly devoid of substance and merely posted on the front page because it contains the word Kobe.

#11: Is he talking about the Minnesota Timberwolves? What league are they in again?

I wish I had grabbed the screenshot about 4 hours earlier, before the evening's games were complete. Then we could have also discussed "Jets to pay Holmes $15.25M guaranteed," which is not actually about sports but about his RELATIONSHIP WITH HIS TEAM WHICH MAY OR MAY NOT BE GOOD, and "Suh is fourth on Forbes' most-disliked list" which may shock you but is in fact about something besides sports. This is where we are in the year 2012, people. The country's loudest sports network covers the country's most popular league by shoveling complete garbage down viewers' throats. In theory this practice occurs because the market demands it; those stories get clicked millions of times so they go on the font page. In practice, I suspect ESPN is shaping the market just as much as they're reacting to it. If they can get sports fans that are more interested in interview sound bites than what actually happens on the field and in front offices, it's that much easier for them to generate content. It takes a lot of work to report on real stories. It takes almost no work at all to say oooooooh look at what X said about Y! Isn't that captivating?!?!?!

Fuck it, this weekend I'm going back to writing TMQRs. At least that guy cares about the games.

I should also admit, I'm a little over-focused on ESPN when it comes to this kind of awfulness. I cruised around to some other big network sites today and they're pretty much peddling the same crap. Maybe ESPN isn't actually shaping the market as much as I think, maybe it really is all organic. Christ. I hate everyone.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Simmons defenders always say "At least he knows a lot about the NBA!"

Well, not really. He watches a lot of NBA games. He has lots of opinions about the NBA, most of which are wrong. Neither of those is a good substitute for actual knowledge.

ey, you know what's popular right now? The National Basketball Association.

Joke riffing on the Dilfertarded "National Football League" phenomenon, or copycat crime? You decide, America.

After antagonizing basketball fans for five solid months

Wait, what?

(the lockout),

Oh THAT'S what you were referring to. "In 9 months, there's going to be a big political event in the United States (the presidential election)..."

barely avoiding a potential catastrophe (a nearly canceled season)

Terrible, terrible writing and use of parentheticals (take it from someone who really overuses them).

and suffering a public relations semicatastrophe


(the voided Chris Paul trade),


the NBA weathered the storm, regrouped and delivered a uniquely entertaining first month.

I'm starting to realize that this is the premise for most Simmons columns. He's That Guy who makes everything into a bigger deal than it is because it makes him feel wise to have such a profound perspective on every MASSIVELY IMPORTANT AND SPECIAL thing he's observing. As such, he's also probably That Guy who tells stories about any old average night out drinking as if that night were a recreation of The Hangover, but I'd rather not think about partying with him.

NBA TV's ratings are up 68 percent and an estimated 6.7 million people have uttered the words, "I can't understand Shaq."

1995 would like its joke back when you get a chance.

Here's the weird part: The product itself hasn't been good.

Completely unnecessary use of italics, except that we're dealing with someone who thinks every little observation he makes is as important as the discovery of penicillin.

Blame the owners for this one: Instead of playing 60 games over 120 days (fairly reasonable), they crammed 66 games into those 120 days (unreasonable).

Based on my extensive 45 seconds of research into how many games my favorite team played between Nov. 1 and Feb. 28 the past three seasons, a normal NBA season has about 58 or 59 games per 120 days. His stance that 66 is unreasonable isn't completely stupid, but at the same time, probably also based on the fact that his favorite team is old and has no bench and is getting run off the court every few nights this time around. IT'S NAWT FAY-UH! If he were a fan of a young team with a lot of depth? THIS IS A GREAT PR PLAN! WAY TO WIN BACK THE FANS WITH EXTRA GAMES, NBA!

Why do it that way? Hold on, I'll give you a second to think about it. (Twiddling my thumbs.) (Humming to myself.)

(Nodding.) (Trimming my fingernails.)

And … time! The answer: Money!!!!!! You were expecting another reason?

HAHA! GOT ME! I CERTAINLY WAS! Or wasn't. I don't know. Why are you pretending like we're in the same room, having a conversation? You lost your everyman "voice of the fan" appeal like eight years ago.

Players were paid for six extra games, owners received three extra home games apiece, and fans were treated to a slew of, "We know you paid to see Derrick Rose tonight, but playing in his place, here's John Lucas III!!!!" moments because nicked-up players have no time to heal.

Fans were also treated to several more games per night than they usually get, and close to an extra game a week from their favorite teams. They'll live. I also like how his populist "someone think about the fans!!!!" platform is built around people who pay big money for tickets. THE 1% OF BASKETBALL FANS, IF YOU WILL HAR HAR HAR. Told you he lost his everyman appeal a long time ago. Does anyone like me, who goes to maybe one or two games a season and watches the rest on TNT and ESPN, really feel slighted and insulted by this schedule? I hope not.

Screw the fans, right? We're just in the way.

Yeah! Screw us! We hate watching more games per week! I paid several hundred bucks for these seats, someone pamper me!

Throw in a missing training camp (deadly for teams with new coaches or too many new players) and the lack of practice time and … I mean, how did these first five weeks have a chance?

Because these are the best players in the world? Sure, some games have been ugly, but is it really some kind of travesty?

Which teams struggled the most? Let's see … painfully untalented teams (Charlotte, Washington),

A class of teams that thrives under a normally-paced schedule.

rosters that experienced too much turnover (Sacramento, New Orleans),

Same. My God, he has the longwinded analytical skills of a self-important college freshman.

teams handpicked by Joe Dumars or Bryan Colangelo (Detroit, Toronto), teams brazenly gutting their roster for a 12.65 percent chance at Dwight Howard (New Jersey), and teams that sabotaged their rosters while refusing to do the dignified thing and trade their signature player even though he's a good guy and would rather sink with the Sarvertanic over selling out his teammates by asking out (Phoenix) all morphed into something between "an unequivocal mess" and a "first-class shitshow."

Older contenders (Dallas, San Antonio, Boston)

THERE'S the real complaint. TELL ME WHY THIS IS FAY-UH!!!! (Waiting for you to tell me.) IT'S NAWT!

and top-heavy rosters (New York, the Lakers) struggled to get going, while young legs (Philly, Denver, Oklahoma City), roster depth (Indiana, Minnesota, Chicago) and even altitude (Utah, Denver again) mattered a little too much.

The hell does that mean? Utah and Denver always have great home records because of the altitude. Utah went like 39-2 in their building a couple years ago.

I haven't decided whether this year's title winner will come with a permanent asterisk — like the 1999 Spurs, for example — but we could be headed that way.

No one with a brain puts an asterisk on that title, much as the Spurs deserve asterisks for all of their titles for employing such shithead players year after year after year. How Greg Popovich's reputation remains so sterling after more than a decade of enabling the Bruce Bowens and Ginobilis of the league is beyond me. Sure, he should be recognized as a great coach... who encourages his players to play like complete cunts. Somehow that second part isn't in the basketball fan collective consciousness. Bothers me.

"Hold on a second," you're saying. "This doesn't make sense. You're crapping on the same season that everyone seems to be enjoying … including you! Explain yourself."

(Shaking my head no.) I wasn't saying that. I don't care about this awkward, imaginary tension you're trying to force on me.

The easy answer: We haven't had this much top-shelf talent and this many storylines in nearly 20 years (since the iconic 1992-93 season). Here, check this out …

1993: Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, Hakeem Olajuwon, David Robinson, Karl Malone, Patrick Ewing (superstars); Scottie Pippen, John Stockton, Mark Price, Larry Johnson, Shaquille O'Neal (franchise guys); Tim Hardaway, Kevin Johnson, Drazen Petrovic, Chris Mullin, Dominique Wilkins (entertaining All-Stars); Joe Dumars, Dan Majerle, Reggie Lewis, Reggie Miller, Mitch Richmond, Danny Manning, Larry Nance, Derrick Coleman, Dennis Rodman, Brad Daugherty (All-Stars); Isiah Thomas, Clyde Drexler, James Worthy (tenured All-Stars); Kenny Anderson, Shawn Kemp (entertainment X-factors); Gary Payton, Latrell Sprewell, Christian Laettner, Tom Gugliotta, Dikembe Mutombo, Alonzo Mourning (up-and-comers); Horace Grant, Detlef Schrempf, Sean Elliott, Glen Rice, Terry Porter (have to be mentioned). 2012: LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose, Dwyane Wade, Dwight Howard, Dirk Nowitzki, Kobe Bryant (superstars); Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Love, LaMarcus Aldridge (franchise guys); Rajon Rondo, Blake Griffin, Steve Nash, Manu Ginobili (entertaining All-Stars); Tony Parker, Deron Williams, Paul Pierce, Rudy Gay, Chris Bosh, Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol, Pau Gasol, Amar'e Stoudemire, Andrew Bynum (All-Stars); Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan (tenured All-Stars); Ricky Rubio, Kyrie Irving, Stephen Curry (entertainment X-factors); John Wall, Tyreke Evans, Ty Lawson, Eric Gordon, DeMarcus Cousins, Andrea Bargnani (up-and-comers); Kyle Lowry, Monta Ellis, Andre Iguodala, Josh Smith, Tyson Chandler (have to be mentioned).

Another old favorite from the Simmons playbook- act like the current situation is incredibly unusual and noteworthy, when it's not. Go look at some stats and check out the 40ish best players in the league in any season between 1993 and now. Other than the fact that four of the first six have the greatest player of all time, kind of making them seem a little more badass, guess what? Yyyyyup.

Look, I'd still take the 42 signature names from 1993 over the 42 signature names from 2012. But it was closer than I expected,

When I began to approach this non-comparison that I made up and am trying to sell to you as worthy of thought,

We already witnessed dozens of games like the ones I attended on Wednesday and Thursday night, when the Clippers split hard-fought, overly physical and undeniably sloppy games against the Lakers (loss) and Grizzlies (win).

I'm surprised they even let you into the arena, seeing as how the league clearly hates its richest fans! Did they make you wait in line to get in? Were there not free t-shirts draped across your seat when you arrived?

Did I enjoy those games?

BARELY. Once I got over the fact that Chris Paul and Blake Griffin couldn't play 48 minutes each because there are too many games on the schedule this year.

Absolutely. Would you have called it "good" basketball? Hell, no. But each night, both teams fought off fatigue and slugged it out. They gave a crap.

He has way more in common with Easterbrook than either would admit.

That's the biggest reason why the 2011-12 NBA season managed to remain so compelling.

No, the biggest reason is that these are 299 of the 300 best basketball players in the world (J.R. Smith! Come back before your whole family gets justifiably beaten courtside by an angry mob!) and they're fun to watch even when they're a little out of shape and out of sync.

You know what else helped? The league shut down for five months, made its staunchest supporters believe the season was getting canceled … and then, BOOM! Suddenly we were playing hoops again! The NBA crammed its entire signing period into four whirlwind (and genuinely fun) weeks, launched on Christmas (and owned that day like never before), then rolled out seven to 12 games night-after-night-after-night. I don't know anyone who loves the NBA and doesn't secretly (or openly) love this season.

No one secretly loves it. No one is being coy about liking great basketball.

It's a quantity-over-quality thing — and remember, the NBA's regular season was never great, anyway.

Unless you like basketball, in which case, it's always been pretty great. But Simmons and ESPN make a great match (I chuckle every few years when either ever acts like they'd ever let the other one go over some dumb contract dispute or something) because he doesn't actually like sports. He just likes Boston sports, really exciting moments in sports, and anything that involves celebrities getting involved with sports.

Like six months of halfhearted foreplay. Now? It's four months of furious, energy-sapping foreplay; we're just hoping everyone has enough left for the playoffs; and there's a dangerous edge because it could lead to real disaster. In other words, it's the Eyes Wide Shut sex party of regular seasons.

Great reference to a 13 year old movie no one enjoyed.

Two other factors really helped …

Yet another standard Simmons construct: "Let me give you the complete and comprehensive list of explanations for this phenomenon. Since I know everything let me be your guide to everything as I show you how everything works. Isn't it completely insane how there are three factors contributing to this secretly astonishing season?" What a fucking chode.

1. The League Pass/Twitter/Texting/iPhone/iPad Era These are fairly amazing times for technology. At my cousin Kristin's wedding reception in Boston two Saturdays ago, 10 guests huddled around me watching the fourth quarter of Saints-Niners on my iPhone (via Slingbox).

I don't care if it was the last thirty seconds of the coolest Super Bowl ever, no way am I watching a game on a 4" screen with that man.

At one point, someone said to me, "Should I walk to my car and get my iPad so we can have a bigger screen?"

"Any chance I can send you to get the iPad for me? And maybe just not come back?"

We debated whether it would be worth the walk outside (in freezing weather),

More abuse (of parentheticals)

ultimately deciding against it. The following night in our hotel room, my wife decided she wanted to watch the first episode of Downton Abbey on Netflix Streaming (to see if she liked it).

Tell me more! What happened next? Did you use technology to entertain yourselves?

We hooked up the iPad to our bedroom TV with a special HDMI cable, and within a few minutes we were watching poor Bates get crapped on by Lord Stanley's staff … although really, I was only half watching it, because I was also watching a League Pass replay of Saturday night's Lakers-Clippers game on my iPad.

Holy shit, you're like Howard Hughes! How is your life story not a 12 hour HBO series yet?

Read that last paragraph again.

It's that engaging, I agree.

How did we get here? Did you ever think we would be able to do things like watch football games on a phone at a wedding reception or watch our own on-demand shows on a hotel TV while also watching NBA games?

As of when? 1990? Probably not. 2004? Yeah. This isn't like telling someone in the dark ages that one day most of the population will live to be 70 years old. It's really not that unimaginable unless, well, you're like 70 years old now and grew up during the Eisenhower administration.

The technology boom has been fantastic for NBA fans —

Back to the college freshman who can't wait to tell you about shit everyone knows, but with the attitude that he's letting you in on the secret to the JFK assassination.

with an onslaught of games every night, you can watch two games at once (one on your TV, one on your computer or iPad), catch up on games you missed (through those valuable League Pass replays), sneak peeks on your iPhone (hopefully not while going 75 miles an hour on the highway) or attend one game while watching another on your iPhone (depending on the arena's cell reception).

If the teams even let you take use your phone while you're there! I hear this season they're confiscating them all at the door and breaking the thumbs of anyone who tries to bring in a spare!

You always hear about players wanting to play in bigger markets, but here's the reality: Once technology progressed to a certain level, markets stopped mattering as much. Yeah, the Lakers and Knicks will always outspend everyone else because of their ticket/cable revenue, and yeah, players will always gravitate toward big cities,

One more time.

You always hear about players wanting to play in bigger markets, but here's the reality: ... markets stopped mattering as much. ... and yeah, players will always gravitate toward big cities,


warm weather or tax-free states. But from a visibility standpoint, it doesn't matter where you play in 2012. Our marquee contenders are Miami, Chicago … and Oklahoma City. Our marquee superstars are LeBron, Wade, Kobe, Rose, Howard, Nowitzki … and Kevin Durant.

Worst parallel sentence structure in the history of written language. Awesome fun cities : dust bowl sprawl with shitty weather :: awesome players : other awesome player.

The best example of things changing: The MinnesotaTimberwolves Rubio Loves

(Laughing uproariously!) Those are their two best players!

improbably morphing into America's Team. This couldn't have happened 15 years ago, 10 years ago, or maybe even five years ago, but the League Pass/Twitter/Texting/iPhone/iPad Era has been a phenomenal asset for them. Any time something is brewing with Minnesota — the T-Wolves trying to upset another contender, Rubio approaching a triple-double, Love going for a 30-20, you name it — word spreads quickly enough to catch crunch time. You know, assuming you weren't watching it, anyway.

Their two best players are white. You know Simmons will be always watching.

2. The Christmas Day Launch If we learned anything these first five weeks, it's that nobody can provide a reasonable answer for the question, "Everyone loved the NBA season starting on Christmas Day … so, um … why wouldn't the NBA season always start on Christmas Day?" Hmmmmmmmmm. You can't answer that one without first answering the question, "Why has the NBA always gone from October to April?"

Because the league likes to jump into the televised sports fray as soon as baseball ends? Because back in the day, it was insane to let the playoffs get deep into June because the arenas would heat up to like 110 degrees during the playoffs?

Here's the answer: Because that's the way we've always done it.

The NBA should only play 16 regular season games a year, like the NFL! And teams that wear green should get 20 free points per game! Think outside the box, folks- stop being sheep!

That's right, the eight most dangerous words in sports are back! Our first champions (the Philadelphia Warriors) started their season on November 7, 1946, played 60 regular season games (winning 35), then played another 11 playoff games and won the then-BAA title on April 22, 1947. That paved the way for the league's eventual October-to-April road map, a savvy idea in 1947 because baseball ruled everything back then.

All right, so let's go back to 1947 … you know, when it made sense to mirror college basketball's schedule, avoid America's pastime and position the future NBA as a winter sport. Does that still make sense in 2012, a good 25 years after football replaced baseball as America's most popular sport?


Wouldn't you want to avoid as much of the National Football League as you possibly could?

That's a fair point, except that the NFL dominates everything through early February these days, so it's not really avoidable. Starting the NBA season later just gets it further lost in the late season NFL playoff push. The Christmas launch was a big hit this year, but I think Simmons underrates the "post lockout euphoria" aspect of it.

By launching around Halloween every year, the NBA gets lost in the shuffle because of the baseball playoffs (running through October),

In the last few years the WS has run into November, but baseball is working to avoid that now. Game 7 in 2011 happened on October 28, and the series could have been over as early as the 23rd. Expect more of the same going forward. Meanwhile the NBA season usually starts on the 26th or after. But researching all that would be hard. Took me a good two minutes.

college football (cresting toward the conference championships in mid-November),

Every conference championship that people care about happens on the first weekend in December.

the NFL (in full swing at this point)

The NFL is in full swing from mid September until late January, or maybe even longer. It's 100% asinine to act like the problem "The NFL is taking all our viewers!" can be helped or solved by moving the NBA's open weekend from Halloween to Christmas.

and even November sweeps (when networks stack their best programming).

Yes, the NBA is apparently competing for eyeballs with CBS's atrocious sitcoms.

Three weeks pass … suddenly it's Thanksgiving, then Black Friday weekend, then everyone shifts into Christmas/Hannukah/holiday party/shopping/vacation/final exams/NFL stretch-run mode, then it's Christmas Eve, then most people wake up the next day, open presents, turn on their TVs and say, "Hey look — it's the NBA! Who's good this year?"


That's why the NBA smartly turned Christmas into its first signature day of the season.

Or maybe it had something to do with the fact that the NFL never played on Christmas until 1989, and of course now only does so when Christmas is a Sunday. But putting pieces like that together takes special Googling skills, skills that apparently I have but Bill lacks.

So why not own it? If the NBA launched every Christmas and played a 75-game season

Which would be mo-ah fay-uh to some of the oldah teams in the league.

over the next 160 days, that takes us to Memorial Day weekend and pushes the playoffs far enough away from baseball's first month

As a fan whose favorite sport is baseball, I can promise you that almost no one gives a shit about baseball in April after opening day.

(and that "new car smell" baseball always has),


the NFL draft (always the lead story for that last week in April),

Right, no getting around that worthless volcano of hype and idiotic analysis.

the heart of May sweeps (the other time networks stack their shows),


the first two rounds of the NHL playoffs (always frenetic),

I don't mean to dog on hockey, but I don't think the first two rounds of the playoffs are generating all that much buzz.

that crazy first sports weekend in May (which features the Kentucky Derby and a marquee boxing match)

Who the hell watches the Kentucky Derby for more than 4 minutes?

and even college exams.

College kids are always prioritizing exams above sports. It's a tragedy.

Conceivably, the NBA could own those next nine weeks (say May 29 through July 31), bang out its draft and free agency signing period in August (remember, those first three weeks in August are deadly boring from a sports/entertainment standpoint), then take the next 10 weeks off right as college and pro football are taking off. So … why wouldn't that make sense? I keep asking People in the Know this question and get the following rebuttals:

"How did you get this number? Can you please stop calling?"

"People go on vacation in July; our season-ticket holders don't want to be worried about planning a vacation if their team might be in the Finals." (News flash: I'm pretty sure they can plan a different time to vacation and/or sell their seats.

That's great. "NEWS FLASH!" Pardon your zinger, sir. Also: isn't this the guy who just bitched about how the league doesn't care about the ticket-buying fans?

And by the way, only four of the 30 teams would even be playing in July.)

Fuck those fans!

"You can't do it because of the Summer Olympics." (News flash: The 2016 Summer Olympics happen from August 5 to August 21. We could easily get creative that year and end the NBA season in mid-July so there's enough time to regroup.)

"Why aren't we doing things the way I envision them working? Sure, it would be a logistical nightmare subject to constant retinkering and disastrous inefficiency, but come on! I mean, COOOOME ONNNNN!"

"That would suck for NBA employees — they wouldn't get a summer vacation basically." (News flash: Neither do Major League Baseball employees.

Right. They get 4 months off during the winter. See how that works?

Also, can't you just take the last two weeks of August off stretching into Labor Day? You'll be fine.)

I'm not saying working for a pro sports team is hard or something, but come on. You're not really going with apples to apples here.

"We can't chop seven games from the regular season — it would cost teams too much money." (News flash: Every player says, "I wish the season was shorter. It would be better for us." Why not listen to them?

Because the market for player labor will easily bear the 82 game season?

Don't you care about your product?)

Don't you realize that pro sports franchises are not NPOs?

"Because that's the way we've always done it." (News flash: Those are the eight worst words in sports.)

"Because Simmons thinks we need to change things." Your move.

You're not going to believe this, but I spent waaaaaaaaaaay too much time trying to figure out something that will never actually happen. And here's the reality: It would be too radical for the NBA to launch on Christmas every year. At least right away. Which is why I'm offering the following plan …

I hope you didn't actually want to hear about it, because I certainly didn't want to bother with picking it apart. Just imagine a really drunk person explaining their airtight plan to rob a bank and flee to a non-extradition country. It's about that coherent, but way less entertaining.