Monday, May 27, 2013

Bill's trade value column game me herpes, part 4 (of 4)

Only took me two weeks to finish running through this dreck.  Since then, Bill has written another article (Two in one month!  That's pretty good by his standards!) in which he tells you how Dwight Howard is terrible at basketball.  I might get to that later this week, except I don't particularly enjoy defending Howard in order to mock Bill, because Howard is a zilch, so I will probably post about something else.  Your suggestions are welcome in the comments, or via email.  Actually how about just in the comments.

5. James Harden
4. Russell Westbrook

His love for Harden was vindicated this season, because Harden was awesome.  Harden's strong play this year does not excuse the complete ignorance of pretty much everything displayed by Bill here, however.

You already know how I feel about Westbrook, and Harden's breakout season in Houston was mildly jaw-dropping. The Beard (only 23, by the way) averaged a 26-6-5, with 44-37-85 shooting splits, for a team that didn't have a second All-Star. He's also wholly unique: 

He's mostly somewhat unique!  Of course Bill is that guy who treats unique like it's a spectrum rather than something binary.  And of course I'm the jackass who points that all too common mistake out and complains about it.

a southpaw who's either jacking up 3s (6.2 per game) or getting to the line (10.2 per game, first in the NBA). 

It is pretty nuts that Harden (792 FTA) attempted at least 300 more free throws than every single other player in the NBA this year except for Durant, Howard, Kobe, Westbrook, LeBron and Carmelo (in 7th with 512 FTA).  That's a huge gap, and his three point shooting was impressive too.  At the same time, who gives a fuck about handedness in basketball?

Throwing in the low number of true franchise players in 2013, 

This is, perhaps, a reasonable assessment to make.  Then you read the attached footnote in which he explains his definition and see:   

In my opinion, a franchise player is someone who, at the very least, can drag a mediocre supporting cast to the playoffs. Harden did that, so he's a franchise player.

This is "NFL pregame show talking head" level analysis.  HERP DERP WELL BOOMER TO ME A FRANCHISE GUY IS A GUY WHO LEADS YOUR FRANCHISE SO TOM BRADY, THIS GUY RIGHT HERE IS A FRANCHISE GUY TO ME.  Often times there is at least one guy who misses the playoffs and who would be agreed upon by everyone with a brain to be a franchise player.  This year it was Dirk. In 2011 it was Nash (who was 36, sure, but was still good for 15 and 12 every night; I think that counts).  It happened to Kobe during his age 26 season for crying out loud. 

the lack of crunch-time scorers and the overall dearth of 2-guards — really, it's Harden, then Wade, then Klay Thompson, then Kobe if he ever comes back, then we're suddenly looking at the likes of DeMar DeRozan and J.R. Smith — it's hard to believe Harden was ever on the market.

It's not.  Go read my post from last October.  If you're not Bill, you'll be able to separate "Will the team be better with this player on the roster" from "Does it make business sense to keep him around" and you will understand how it happened.

And look, I've hammered Oklahoma City enough for one of my least favorite NBA trades ever — you can read my thoughts here and here and here. But I don't think the following point can be emphasized strongly enough.

Gratuitous and nonsensical reference to New England-based franchise coming in 5... 4... 3...

You can't just assume in basketball that the window will always stay open for you.

And why can't we assume that?  2... 1...

In football, you can build around a franchise quarterback, draft smartly, protect your cap, repeatedly trade down for more assets and do everything else that Bill Belichick did since 2001. 


That mind-set doesn't work in basketball. You can find/afford three blue-chippers only if you're lucky. You can't "trade down" and assume you'll replace a blue-chipper with multiple pieces; it never really worked. You also can't assume that you're getting 10 more cracks at the Finals, or that your best players will stay healthy year after year after year. The '86 Rockets thought they had a perennial contender. So did the '88 Mavericks, the '91 Blazers, the '92 Cavaliers, the '93 Suns, the '94 Warriors, the '97 Bullets, the '03 Kings, the '05 Suns … but the truth is, you never know.

Bill's analysis: sometimes, teams think they are set for the future when in fact they are not set for the future.  Again, the nuance argument against this is in my post from October, but needless to say Bill is not being even 10% as smart as he thinks he's being.

The Thunder easily could have kept together three of the top six guys on this list for one more year, then decided on their future this summer. 

And Harden would have been pissed all season if they shopped him beforehand, or even if they didn't, he probably would have walked at the end of the season.  I agree with him that they didn't get enough in return for him, and that they most certainly wish that they could have a do over on Serge Ibaka's extension and instead find a way to keep Harden, but that ship had sailed by October 2012.  Anyways, "Harden to the Rockets" has become Bill's new "I saw Greg Oden walk awkwardly at an awards show, and from that moment on I knew he was doomed," so now I have to root against the Rockets for the next several years.  Such is life as a hater like me.

3. Stephen Curry
I already shot my wad on Curry

A Tobias Funke moment for Bill.  He must be an AD fan.

in last Friday's column (the extended March Madness analogy), so let's defend what seems like an overreaction of a ranking. 

It probably is, because at all times, Bill has the objective analysis skills of a drunk guy watching his favorite team play its most bitter rival in the most important game of the year. He likes Curry; therefore, the Warriors would turn down a Curry for Westbrook deal if the Thunder offered it.

I love Curry, you love Curry, everyone loves Curry … but third? Really? Third out of anyone???? When he was no. 16 just five weeks ago? The top seven reasons why Curry snared the no. 3 spot, in no particular order:

Reason No. 1: Along with Kevin Durant, he's 2013's co-winner of the Derrick Rose Award for "Guy Whose City Would Riot If He Were Traded." Right now, the Golden Gate Bridge has a better chance of being traded than Steph Curry.

He must have emailed Berman for that "local geography" reference.  That's comedy gold.  THE EMPIRE STATE BUILDING HAS A BETTER CHANCE OF BEING TRADED THAN DEREK JETER.  THE LINCOLN MEMORIAL HAS A BETTER CHANCE OF BEING TRADED THAN ROBERT GRIFFIN III.  My god, someone punch me in the face.

Reason No. 2: Here's what it looks like when a 25-year-old guy is making The Leap.

Post All-Star (30 games): 26.0 PPG, 7.4 APG, 48% FG, 89% FT, 46% 3FG, 8.9 3FGA.
2013 Playoffs (8 games): 26.5 PPG, 8.9 APG, 46% FG, 91% FT, 43% 3FG, 9.0 3FGA

And it goes beyond stats — the Warriors are winning with a team that is built around Curry's offense and personality. 

It is not built around his personality, or anyone else's.  We're back to the NFL pregame show analysis.  DURRR SEE THIS IS JUST GOOD HARD PITTSBURGH STEELER FOOTBALL, COACH.  THEY TACKLE THE OTHER TEAM'S RUNNING BACK WHEN GIVEN THE OPPORTUNITY.

You're always looking for teams with identities in May, and here's Golden State's identity: Opponents can't leave Curry or Thompson open for a 3-pointer for 48 solid minutes. 

That is not an identity.  That's just a good offensive gameplan.  The Spurs' identity is not "running most possessions through Duncan in the post and doing a great job on the boards."  That is just their gameplan.  Please stop trying to construct personality-driven narratives for non-living things.

They aren't just stretching the floor, they're bending it into something else. 

That's incredibly shitty writing.

Reason No. 4: Mark Jackson is technically right — Golden State has the best shooting backcourt ever, although it's really the best long-range shooting backcourt ever. Check out the only 13 players (their best seasons only) who made at least 2.5 3s a game while (a) shooting at least 40 percent or higher, and (b) averaging at least 16.5 points per game (sorry, Damon Jones, Raja Bell and Kyle Korver).

This list I'm about to show you proves my point perfectly!  I just had to mess with the parameters to exclude players who are awesome shooters but who would not serve as good examples for my pre-selected point.

Reason No. 5: "Turn on the game, Steph Curry is heating up" is the single most exciting sports-related text you can send or receive right now. 


Reason No. 6: You can't come up with a better NBA match of "performer and crowd" than Curry and Oakland right now. They were meant for each other. It was destiny.

You're fucking stupid.  Every crowd in the league would react to Curry the way Golden State's does if he were leading their team into the second round of the playoffs.  Fuck, Bobcats fans would be going nuts.  Nice to see him acknowledge the idea that fans other than those from Boston can be special and unique though.  It makes him more wrong than usual but also less annoying than usual.

GROUP A: "Completely and Utterly Untouchable"

2. Kevin Durant
Producer A: "So how are we gonna spruce up this Kevin Durant movie? It's so boring right now. I mean, I get it — he's a role model, he's incredibly efficient, there's nobody like him, yada yada yada. I'm bored just talking about it. What's the hook?"

Producer B: "I have a few ideas."

Producer A: "Let's hear 'em."

Producer B: "We keep everything up through when they lose in the 2012 Finals. Right before the next season, his team trades James Harden because they're afraid to pay him."

Producer A: "What do they get for him?"

Producer B: "I was thinking something pretty bad — like, Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb and two future picks."

Producer A: "What????? That's ridiculous! That trade would never happen in real life!"

Producer B: "Just stay with me. So now it's just Durant and Westbrook — now they're playing pissed off because everyone thinks the Harden trade ruined their title chances. Durant's even getting technicals and stuff."

Producer A: "I like it. Yelling at the refs! That's good!"

Producer B: 

I cut this short by about 800 words.  Needless to say: douchechills.

1. LeBron James
Let's break into a mini-LeBronbag …


Q: Last year you memorably wrote

Like I said.

that the NBA MVP trophy should vary in size based on the level of performance by that year's MVP. 

Whoever thought of that idea should be punched in the throat.  Fortunately, it was not nearly as memorable as Steven from Los Angeles wants to believe that it was.

So wouldn't this season qualify LeBron for a 40-pounder? Especially considering what he has done for his fourth trophy compared to what he did for the first 3. After this season we are firmly in the LeBron James era.
—Steven Feister, Los Angeles

Among all the other awful things about that email, the most awful is probably the idea that Steven thought it was worth anyone's time to point out that yes, finally, in 2012-2013, we are DEFINITELY in the LeBron era.  GOOD NEWS GUYS, AS OF THIS YEAR I FEEL COMFORTABLE SAYING THAT WE'RE IN THE SIDNEY CROSBY ERA.

SG: I thought it was a 40-pounder. 

I DO still like my idea that you also like!  Thanks, Steven!

Q: I propose renaming the Coach of the Year award for Mike D'Antoni. Why can't we call it the "Not Mike D'Antoni" award? 

Why, that's nearly unclever enough to be an idea Bill came up with himself!

What better way to honor someone who somehow made a team with four future Hall of Famers unwatchable all year. Here's how it works: This year's Not Mike D'Antoni Award goes to Erik Spoelstra. He brilliantly built a unique offense around his best player and took his team to near historic levels. In other words, he's not Mike D'Antoni.
—Jason, Virginia

SG: (Standing and applauding.)

Of course you are.  And while I certainly have to respect his eleven rings, I've always loved the fact that Phil Jackson and the four first ballot HOFer-having 2003-2004 Lakers couldn't get past the no superstar-having Pistons in the Finals that year.  That series (Detroit in 5, including wins by 12, 13 and 20) is one of the best pieces of evidence as to why Larry Brown rules all shit.

Q: Neo coming back to life in The Matrix and becoming The One is exactly what happened to LeBron game six in Boston last year. I guess we're in Matrix Reloaded now where LeBron can win as many games as he wants in a row like Neo defeating a million Agent Smiths. I guess next year LeBron will be reunited with the Source or something.
—Marc Feffer, New York

SG: I've never seen The Matrix … but sure! Sounds good.


Q: LeBron now looks like the only Queen on an NBA chessboard 

Ah, another Tobias moment, this time from a reader.  Nice.  Also, as you're about to see, it's a horrid analogy.

(and I mean that as a true compliment). He now understands it all. Angles, spacing, etc. … He is blessed with such physical skills that he can impose his will, at will, regardless of the other nine paid professionals on the court. When he decides to take over a game it is unlike anything I have ever witnessed. He bends the entire game, all action on the court, towards him, at both ends. I have never seen anything like it.
—Matt Robinson, Edmonton, Alberta

If you watch LeBron play basketball and you're like "You know what he's like?  He's like the queen on a chessboard" then you are a fucking moron.

SG: It's the perfect analogy. Matt Robinson couldn't be more correct … LeBron is the queen on the chessboard. 

Of course.

Thursday, May 23, 2013


From the front page sidebar.  This is, ostensibly, one of the eleven most important things going on in sports right now.  Are you ready?

Tough guy Chuck Norris sees himself in Tebow

No, seriously, here's the screencap.

As you can see I have not clicked on it (although I did click on the Crabtree story so I could email the link to Jack M and remind him to BEWARE THE CRABTREE CURSE!).  Nor will I ever click on it, because I would sooner snort anthrax.

Fuck everything.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Bill's trade value column gave me herpes, part 3

I checked Bill's Twitter feed to see if he commented on the Bruins' amazing game 7 comeback against Toronto last Monday.  He did, but just barely.  A two word tweet: "Holy shit," that can't be about anything else.  I guess he's waiting until the conference finals before he starts reminding us of his eternal and unbreakable Bruins fandom.  Most recently, he sent three tweets today bitching about Lenovo's customer service.  Apparently poor Bill has been wronged, AND THE WORLD IS GOING TO KNOW ABOUT IT.  Lenovo is my new favorite company.

10. Dwyane Wade

If Miami gets through these last three rounds with minimal damage — say, five losses or fewer — 

Go Pacers!  Since I always dump on others' predictions and rarely make any of my own (hey, I called Bulls over Nets in the first round--WHAT A STUNNING DISPLAY OF GENIUS that I was able to pick that 5 vs 4 upset) I will do so here so that I may be ruthlessly mocked a month from now.  Heat in 5.  Spurs in 5.  Then Heat over Spurs in 5.

Wade will clinch "second-best player on one of the best teams ever" status. 


He's part of the NBA's "What if?" draft lore (Darko over Melo and Wade), 

I edited out a few sentences where Bill made mostly sensible, relevant points about Wade's statistical accomplishments.  Now here's a whole paragraph of meaningless bullshit.

an officiating nadir (the 2006 Finals), 

In the context of Wade's trade value, who cares?

WTF history ("The Decision") and meaningful history (Miami's incredible 27-game winning streak). 

Jesus.  Get over it.  No one is going to give a shit about that by this time next year.

He's the five-time MVP of the "Most Misspelled NBA Name" All-Star team, 

There's this post's occurrence of subtle racism...

as well as a five-time member of the John Stockton "I'm Much More Ruthless and Sneaky-Dirty Than People Realize" All-Stars.

...somewhat mitigated by his willingness to concede that dirty-ass John Stockton was actually really dirty and not just "full of grit?"

OK, so what's happening in Decade 2? Why does Wade keep getting banged up? 

Because he's old and (sometimes) plays recklessly?

Should we worry that his body is breaking down? 

I... I guess?  Why is that a question?  Like Iverson before him, he probably will not age very well.  He's also been really good for a long time.  I think we'll look back on his career and say "Yup, that was a really good career that ended like many careers do."

Shouldn't we worry that his per-game free throw attempts dropped over the past five seasons from 9.8 to 6.2? 

Hey, good for him for not crashing through the lane and falling on his ass nearly as often.

Or what about his perennially lousy 3-point shooting (career: 28.9 percent) atrophying to the point that he's only attempting one a game these days? Doesn't he need to keep adding pieces to his game? 

I mean, I guess it couldn't hurt?  Then again, he'll still be really good for a few more years, even if he doesn't?  This is so stupid.

If there's a positive sign, it's this.

Player A: 25.0 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 4.6 APG, 45.6% FG, 33% 3FG, 19.9 FGA, 6.9 FTA, 21.9 PER.
Player B: 22.0 PPG, 5.3 APG, 5.2 RPG, 52.1% FG, 26% 3FG, 16.5 FGA, 6.4 FTA, 24.0 PER.

Player A? 31-year-old Kobe Bryant's per-36 minute numbers during the 2009-10 season.

Player B? Dwyane Wade's per-36 minute numbers this season.

6 FO-AH 24!!!!!!!!!!!11111111111111

Here's what those numbers mean …

Thanks to LeBron, [4 sentences that didn't need to be written deleted].

Yes, that's correct, playing with the best player in 15 years DOES make it easier to excel at age 31.

We'll remember Dwyane Wade as one of the best 20 players ever. It's in motion.

Always with the obsession about how we'll remember the present when we get to the future.  What a chud.

9. Derrick Rose
I covered Rose's non-comeback in last Friday's column on the first round of the playoffs, specifically the Shadow of Gilbert Arenas (the crucial point here). 

Can you imagine if Gilbert Arenas were an NFL player?  The comment sections at ProFootballTalk would have broken the internet between 2008 and 2011 as self-righteous racist assholes tripped over themselves to point out what a lazy no-good villain Gilbert was.

There's a 90 percent chance that Rose is deep inside his own head … but for Trade Value purposes, I'm concerned about the other 10 percent, which covers the length of Rose's recovery time (longer than usual), 

No, not really.

the problems that popped up along the way (muscle atrophy and hammy issues), 


and his health going forward (who knows?). 

He's day to day, but aren't we all?  I remember that time I wrongfully attributed that joke to Dan Patrick, and I got like 18 comments telling me NO STUPID IT'S VIN SCULLY.  That was a good day.  I learned something.

Rose's game hinges on attacking the paint, attacking the rim, attacking defenders, attacking everything. If you could describe him in two words, you'd use these: "relentless fury."

And you'd sound like a fucking moron whose thoughts were being written in Russian and then translated to English and then back to Russian and back again to English.

Well, what if that fury has been compromised a little? What if post-ACL Rose decides, I'm gonna pick my spots, shoot more 3s, maybe pass up a few of those fearless drives in traffic? Remember, Rose's breathtaking athleticism was his single best asset. 

There are zero point guards in the NBA (other than 49 year old Jason Kidd) who don't use massive amounts of athleticism on every single possession.  I get what he's saying, but it's still dumb.

So what now? It took 12 months for Ricky Rubio to look like Ricky Rubio again. It took 12 months for Iman Shumpert to look like Iman Shumpert again. We're at 13 months and counting with Rose. 

Should we be worried he didn't rush back and play at 75% after 10 months?  Have I mentioned that I invented 30 For 30?  Have I ever asked a single interesting question in my entire life?

I don't totally know what we're getting from Derrick Rose when he comes back. And neither do you. 

Neener neener!

GROUP B: "Lemme Save You Some Time: N-O."

8. Chris Paul
Three reasons he's not higher …

A. He's about to get paid $80 million to 100 million for five years by somebody, whether it's the Clippers, Mavericks, Rockets or Lakers.

Already said this, but please please please let it be the Lakers.  Paul is one of my least favorite players in the NBA.  Please let him and Dwight Howard fail together for the next five years.  I swear I'll be good.  I'll be nicer to strangers.  I'll stop wishing Derek Jeter gets caught with steroids and/or gets hit in eyeball with a pitch.  Pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeease

C. Look, I'm one of the preachers at the Church of Chris Paul. He's the best point guard I've ever watched on a regular basis. 

Oh, are you not a Clippers 5th row season ticket holder?  Pity.  The best part is how he has sworn on multiple occasions that he's done following them because he's pissed at this for some move or non-move or another.  Fortunately for legendary piece of dog shit Donald Sterling, Bill is a huge front runner, so as long as the Clips keep winning, he'll keep following them.

I can't blame him for being saddled with an overmatched coach and two years of pieces that never totally fit. 

LOB CITY LOB LOB CITY.  Oh, wait, did that not work out?  I actually don't have much hate for the Clippers, or anyone on their roster besides Paul, but I sure do hate "Lob City."  Here's hoping their second successive disappointing playoff exit means we've heard the last of that crap.

He did everything he could. But his personality isn't always … um … favorable? 


He's demanding and occasionally condescending. He has no problem undressing a teammate verbally in front of 18,000 people. He's always gesturing and telling teammates where to go and what to do, almost like an abrasive wedding planner. He's always playing angry. 

He needs to be more like John Stockton or Bob Cousy!  What's funny is that Paul's personality is worth criticizing, but not this part of it, which from the 10 or so Clippers games I saw this year (including playoffs), is mostly made up.  The bigger issue is that he's a legendary whiner and flopper, and I can't imagine him being a favorite of the league's refs.  That kind of thing can come back to haunt you.

Should we read anything into the fact that, in eight years, Chris Paul has never played in a conference finals? 

Much as I dislike him, probably not.  The supporting cast he had in New Orleans was consistently awful.  These last two years, eh.  The Clippers weren't that good.  The west is tough.  What are you going to do?  I dislike him, but I won't deny that he's awesome.

Or that he's 16-24 in the playoffs? It's a fair question, right? 

JACK MORRIS PITCHED TO THE SCORE, HE HAD THE WILL TO WIN.  THAT'S WHY HE HAS ALL THOSE WINS.  CHRIS PAUL DOES NOT HAVE THE WILL TO WIN.  Sorry, mixed my rants there.  You know what I'm getting at.  You know whose playoff record is horrendous?  Carmelo.  You know who's about to appear two spots ahead of Paul on this list?

For the life of me, I can't understand why Paul and Blake Griffin don't get along, or why two straight Clipper postseasons COMPLETELY self-combusted. Even factoring in the Vinny Del Negro Effect, it's still a little strange — you shouldn't keep self-combusting when you have one of the league's best players.

Except that in 2012, they lost to a team with Tim Duncan and Tony Parker, and this year they lost to a team with Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol and Mike Conley.  It happens.  Fuck Chris Paul, but he's really good.  Switch him with Westbrook and the Thunder don't miss a beat.  Switch him with Wade and he's got a ring or two right now.

7. Kyrie Irving
My buddy House tried to throw his body in front of Kyrie cracking the top eight, asking, "Can I see him stay on the floor for one season? Can he give me ONE season? Just one? Am I asking for too much?"

Nothing like riding Bill Simmons's coattails to Z-list sports media celebritydom.  Good for you, House.

Let's see … Irving missed 26 of 37 games at Duke, then 15 of 66 games as a Cavs rookie and 23 of 82 games this season. In three years, he's played 121 games and missed 64. So far he's torn ligaments in his big toe; sprained one shoulder; broken his hand; suffered a concussion; broken a finger on his non-shooting hand; broken a bone in his jaw; hyperextended a knee; and sprained the other shoulder.

(Long bit about how Kevin Johnson was super awesome but got hurt a lot, and John Stockton was incredibly durable because HE WAS TOUGHAH THAN TOUGH--MAYBE EVEN SOUTHIE TOUGH)

So we'll see about Irving, an electric offensive player who is already one of the league's best clutch scorers. He's only two years into a favorable rookie contract. And he's also just 21 years old, a baby for God's sake. There's a lot to love. Ironically, 

Get ready for something that's not ironic at all.

I think he's Kevin Johnson 2.0 as a basketball player — just as devastating off the dribble, just as unstoppable getting to the rim. Let's hope that comparison doesn't stretch to his durability, too.

Irony: when one basketball player's skillset resembles another's, and they both also sometimes get hurt.

6. Carmelo Anthony

I will try to not overplay my Nuggets fan bias here, but it's going to be tough.  I don't hate the guy.  I don't wish harm on him.  But his exit from Denver definitely annoyed me, and the holes in his game are more glaring than ever (to me) now that he's not playing for my team.  He's an elite scorer who can take anyone in the league 1 on 1.  He also 1) plays good defense when his man has the ball, but has never learned how to play halfway decent help defense, or defense away from the ball, no matter how many sportswriters may try to tell you otherwise on a yearly basis, 2) is prone to keep shooting and shooting and shooting when he's having an off night, which is not ALWAYS a bad decision, but is a bad decision if you have no other plan for coping with an off night, and 3) does not do a good job adjusting his offensive game when a team is doing things to effectively stop him.  He's a superstar, but a flawed superstar, and does not belong in the top 10 of this list.  If, in an imaginary world where all salaries are equal, the Knicks call up the Heat, Bulls, Clippers or Cavs and offer Melo for Wade, Rose, Paul or Irving, the Knicks get laughed off the phone each time.  Factor in his huge salary and it's even more of a no-brainer.  I think it's very, very clear at this point that you can't win a title with him as your best player.  He needs to play the role Wade is playing now.  The problem is, he's not suited for that role, because he's got to get his 20 shots per night, or 25+ if it's a big game.  It just doesn't quite work.

As the longtime president of the "I Still Think Carmelo Can Work in New York,""I Still Believe In Ben Affleck" and "I Still Think Kerry Washington Will Make It" Fan Clubs, 

Sports = Hollywood!

it's been a big last 12 months for me. 

Look, Carmelo CAN work in New York.  He can work anywhere, as long as "work" means 45-55 regular season wins and zero expectations for the postseason.

Since the ABA-NBA merger, we've seen five NBA teams legitimately contend for a title while being built around the offense of a scoring forward who averaged at least 27 points a game in the playoffs: Dirk Nowitzki in 2011 (won the title!), Dominique Wilkins in 1988, Bernard King in 1984, and Julius Erving in 1977 (made the Finals). Let's look at their playoff numbers …

This very biased Denver fan would like to throw in the 2009 Nuggets, who had Melo averaging 27.2 PPG and were even 2-2 with the Lakers in the WCF (and should have been up 3-1).  Sigh.

/smallest violin plays for Larry B

'11 Dirk (21 games): 27.7 PPG, 2.5 APG, 49-46-94%, 18.9 FGA, 8.9 FTA, 25.2 PER, 32.0 usage
'77 Doc (19 games): 27.3 PPG, 4.5 APG, 52-00-82%, 20.5 FGA, 7.1 FTA, 22.9 PER, 29.0 usage
'88 Nique (12 games): 31.2 PPG, 2.8 APG, 46-22-77%, 25.0 FGA, 10.4 FTA, 22.9 PER, 35.8 usage
'84 King (12 games): 34.8 PPG, 3.0 APG, 57-00-76%, 23.5 FGA, 10.3 FTA, 27.6 PER, 31.9 usage
'13 Melo (8 games): 29.3 PPG, 1.9 APG, 39-28-92%, 26.8 FGA, 7.4 FTA, 21.3 PER, 39.0 usage

Of those five, Carmelo is the least efficient playoff forward BY FAR … and yet, per game, he's taken the most shots, involved himself in the most possessions and generated the lowest number of assists. 

Definitely worth being ranked #6 on this list.  No question.  So Chris Paul is 16-24 in the playoffs?  Melo is 22-44.  He's won three series in ten playoff appearances.  He's made it out of the first round just twice.  That's ghastly.  In many of his early appearances with Denver, his teams were overmatched (losing to the eventual champ or conference champ three out of five years from 2004-2008).  But he was never close to winning any of those series.  His teams had a hard time trying to do more than steal one game, let alone steal a whole series.  Remember what I said about him doing a shitty job adjusting his game when teams key in on trying to stop him?

He's been a black hole. There's just no way around it. Since the merger, only three players averaged more than 26 shots per playoff game and made the Finals: Allen Iverson in 2001 (30.0 FGA, 39% FG); Hakeem Olajuwon in 1995 (26.2 FGA, 53% FG); and Michael Jordan in 1992 (26.4 FGA, 50% FG), 1993 (27.8 FGA, 48% FG) and 1997 (26.2 FGA, 46% FG). Carmelo isn't MJ, and he certainly isn't Hakeem.

He's not Iverson either.  Iverson was a better pure scorer, Melo's only elite talent, and a better distributor too. Iverson also made the Finals once, and got out of the first round three of the six years he was in the playoffs and not paired with Melo.

Throwing in his ample salary (2014-2015: $45 million), the following question seems fair: Why did you stick him at no. 6?

Because you're dumb.

Because I know what I'm getting with Carmelo. The dude loves playing in New York. He can handle any pressure/spotlight/scrutiny you throw at him there. He loves taking and making big shots. 

Like I said.  (Also, those last three sentences also perfectly describe J.R. Smith, who definitely rules, but also is not on this list, because those three things don't make you a top 50 player.)

And if he's playing well, you can absolutely win the title with him. 

So I guess at no point in the last ten years, other than maybe 2009, has he managed to play well in the playoffs.  Got it.

He's just not playing well lately. 

Or in 2004, 2005, 2006 (a particularly ghastly five game first round loss to the fucking Clippers in which Melo shot 33% from the field), 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011 or 2012.

You might see Carmelo swing three spots higher or five spots lower depending on what happens these next three weeks. I'm still a believer. 

Because you're dumb.

Just know that the Knicks aren't winning a title with Carmelo shooting 27 times a game. That needs to be fixed starting tonight.

Hey, he's only 28, with a mere 713 regular season NBA starts under his belt.  I'm sure Mike Woodson will have no problems with that task.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Happy lazy belated birthday to us

Was going to continue my Simmons trade value series (just wait until you hear about how uppity Chris Paul is) but had internet problems until just now, and I'm not going to stay up all night to entertain you people.  Sorry.  You'll have to wait until tomorrow.  But I figured it was worth throwing something up because--

1) Last week, the blog turned six years old.  Woo.  That announcement pales in comparison to the time Chris W made a birthday post for the blog that included clip art of a piece of birthday cake, but I've never been as creative as he is.

2) In hopes of coming up with something really quick to blog about in place of the Simmons post, I checked out the blog's email for the first time since February.  Figured maybe someone sent us a hot tip sometime in the last three months.  No such luck, there was no non-spam in the inbox, but I did find one of the best pieces of spam I've ever seen:



Do you realize more and more people are now using search engines to find local businesses, and NOT phone directories?

Are they finding your website?

If not, we can help.

Best SEO sales pitch ever: "By the way, person reading this piece of so-called 'electronic mail'--here's a fact that may cause your brain to explode out of your ears.  I hate to have to tell you this, but... people are not using the hard copy yellow pages anymore."  That email would have been kind of funny in 2003.  In 2013 it's a riot.  I hope they follow up with another email letting me know that people are using their pocket telephones to connect to the internet.

3) I was going to put something else here but now I forgot what.  Ran out of energy writing that hilarious joke about the spam email.

More Simmons on Monday night/Tuesday morning.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Bill's trade value column gave me herpes, part 2

A shout out to the Anonymous commenter from last post who mentioned the epidemic of "[X] SENT ME HERE" YouTube comments.  Holy balls those are annoying.  People who leave those should be sealed inside barrels and thrown over Niagara Falls.

GROUP C: "Only If They Asked to Leave"

13. Tim Duncan
The one perpetual flaw with the Trade Value concept: 

The one?

San Antonio would never trade Duncan … but it also wouldn't make any sense for, say, Portland to trade LaMarcus Aldridge for him. 

If the Spurs lose to the Warriors and the Blazers make that offer, I think the Spurs might take it.  How many Knicks fans thought Ewing would never be traded?  How many Rockets fans thought Olajuwon would never be traded?  The Spurs might want to shake things up and try to extend their window while Parker is still relatively young.  Before last year they hadn't been to the conference finals since 2008.  They've been awesome with this core for a long time, for sure, but 37 year old Duncan for 27 year old Aldridge sounds doable to me if there's no title this June.  (Of course the Blazers would never do this.)

We're splitting the difference and sticking Duncan here. I still have Duncan ranked ahead of Kobe as the greatest player of their generation,

No bias there.

if only because everyone forgets just how difficult Kobe was from 2002 through 2007

Ooh, he was so "difficult."  Chris W pointed out a bunch of racially loaded language Bill used in describing Serge Ibaka ("a freak athlete with a little 'dark alley' in him" ... "a starter on the 'Guys Who Make You Look Over Your Shoulder At All Times' All-Stars").  If I were more of a race-baiter I'd say this Kobe comment is more of the same.  Not sure if Bill meant to walk down that road, but I will happily point out that generally, to the media, when a black player is an asshole it's because he's an asshole but when a white player is an asshole it's because he wants to win too much.  Except for me (spoiler alert, I'm white) when I played basketball and baseball growing up.  I was an asshole then because I was mad about not being good, and because I was an asshole.

(an easy-to-forget story line that gets revived in Phil Jackson's insightful memoir, Eleven Rings).

Jackson's ability to deal with huge egos is well documented, and also really funny given his own continent-sized ego.

Even if I've sung Duncan's praises a kajillion times, most notably in this 2007 column 

Link: removed.  Thanks, Blogger.

and in my basketball book, please remember the following things:

• He's the greatest power forward of all time. He's also one of the greatest teammates ever. That's why the Spurs never would have discussed trading him, not even internally after about 20 drinks, at any point since 1997.

I maintain that it wouldn't be that shocking to see them trade him for someone as good as Aldridge this offseason, if they lose to the Warriors.  Just because I know you care, this Nuggets fan is rooting for the meteor in that series.

• He won four titles, two when he was the only All-Star. He's been the best player on every title team.

Howard Bryant reminds you that Thurman Munson was NOT the leader of or best player on the '77 and '78 Yankees WS-winning teams, because that would diminish Jeter's legacy by 0.0000000001%.

• Kareem won the Finals MVP award in 1971 and 1985. I always thought that was incredible. Fourteen years apart? Well, Duncan has a chance to do it this spring — even if he hasn't exactly seized control of the Warriors series so far. He won the 1999 Finals MVP, but a 2013 Finals MVP would complete "The Kareem." And if it happens, I can promise you one thing — in 2038, he won't be belly-flopping into a pool on a reality-TV show.

Take that, guy who is still famous and on TV at age 66!  I know Diving With The Stars or whatever it's called is a corny show, but should Kareem be embarrassed about being on it?  He's a world class athlete, he probably loved learning a new sport.

Last note: I don't think San Antonio will get past this suddenly petrifying Warriors team unless Duncan kicks it up a notch and becomes the best player in the series. The Spurs can't win with 20-and-10 Duncan; they need 27-and-15 Duncan. After all these years, does Tim Duncan have one last old-school throwback playoff performance lurking inside him? 

Like I said, go meteor.

12. Dirk Nowitzki
One of my favorite NBA lists …

Dolph Schayes
Hal Greer
John Havlicek
Kobe Bryant
Tim Duncan
Paul Pierce
Dirk Nowitzki

That's the 15-Year Club — the only seven NBA players who spent their entire careers with the same franchise, played at least 15 seasons AND won at least one title.

Why isn't Hakeem on that list?  He'll never be traded!

You don't just stumble onto that list — all seven are Hall of Famers, with 21 rings among them. Think about what the list means: excellence, durability, longevity, loyalty, championships … it's your best-case scenario for a basketball career, basically.

Thank you for spoon-feeding that to us.

And you need a little luck along the way. I don't know how Schayes and Greer played that long with all the bad sneakers, bad food, bad medical care, scary travel, second-hand smoke and everything else that should have stopped them back then. Havlicek had a Secretariat-size heart 

Isn't that usually an extremely dangerous condition?  Good for him for overcoming it.

and superhuman stamina. Duncan nearly signed with Orlando. 

And then they ended up with T-Mac that offseason instead, and would end up unloading his contract in exchange for Stevie Franchise as he was in the middle of his meltdown.  Roll the laugh track.

Kobe's Lakers career nearly fell apart twice. 


Pierce was nearly traded 935 times. Dirk lucked out with a wealthy owner who always spent enough money to compete (so he never had to pull a KG), as well as one sizable break: During the summer of '04, Dallas was the consensus favorite in the Shaq Sweepstakes when Kobe forced the Lakers to trade Shaq the Lakers decided to trade Shaq, only Mark Cuban (astutely, as it turned out) made Dirk untouchable.  At the time, that decision was a much bigger deal than anyone remembers now. 


A rejuvenated, pissed-off Shaq guaranteed you one title, maybe even two. 

Good thing the Mavs stumbled into that title as the fifth or sixth best team in the league seven seasons down the line, or that decision would have been really fucking dumb.

We all knew it. (As it turned out, Miami won in 2006, and probably would have won the previous year had Dwyane Wade not gotten injured.) When the Lakers could only get Lamar Odom, Caron Butler and Brian Grant's contract for him, I ended up creating the Vengeance Scale to figure out exactly where Angry Shaq ranked among the most vengeful people ever, ultimately assigning him an 8.7 

Who or what else is he going to place on this dumb scale as a reference point?  I hope you guessed "long-dead actor."

(just behind Charles Bronson in every Death Wishmovie).

Sports = movies!

And yeah, I ridiculed the Mavericks for keeping Dirk over dealing him for Shaq, too, even calling Dirk "the German Bob McAdoo" (not a compliment). I never thought you could build a championship team around Dirk's offense. 

And as it turns out, you almost couldn't.

A lot of people felt that way. Looking back, resisting that enticing Shaq trade was probably Cuban's third-greatest NBA moment, 

Passing up winning titles with Shaq?  In the sense that it vindicated his decision to stick with a career Maverick, I suppose it was pretty great in hindsight as of July 2011.  Prior to that, he probably considered it one of his dumbest moments.  Bill is probably just fawning over Cuban for turning down the trade because a Dirk/Kobe Lakers team would have won 5+ titles in the last decade.

trailing the time he stared down David Stern after Game 5 of the 2006 Finals, and, of course, this picture.


I almost always delete Bill's embedded videos/pictures.  But not that one.  Pretty fantastic.

What happens with Dirk going forward? 


Kobe, Pierce and Dirk have one thing in common: They don't have to chase a title like Karl Malone did. Dirk controls his own destiny; if he wants to retire in Dallas, Cuban would be delighted. Kobe probably controls his own destiny, even if there's increasing buzz (no, really) that the Lakers would amnesty him if it guaranteed them Chris Paul and Dwight Howard. 

Bill was probably one of those people who, back in 2004, was like KOBE TO THE CLIPPERS.  IT'S A DONE DEAL.

11. Blake Griffin
After winning three NCAA titles at UCLA, Sidney Wicks became memorable as an NBA player for four reasons: Portland drafted him no. 2 overall, then Wicks slowly morphed into the first we-used-to-love-him-now-we-hate-him Blazer (the first of many); along with Curtis Rowe and John Y. Brown, he's widely credited in Boston for briefly murdering Celtic Pride and nearly causing Red Auerbach to jump to the Knicks; 

HOW DAY-UH HE ONLY AVERAGE 15 AND 10 FO-AH A TEAM THAT DIDN'T WIN A TITLE!  RUINING CELTIC PRIDE IS HIS GREATEST CRIME!  HE IS NAWT LIKE HAVLICEK OR BIRD OR COUSY OR MCHALE!  BOOOOOO!  I've said this recently, but I'll say it again: Boston fans react to spurnings, real (Ray Allen) or perceived (Wicks) like 15 year old girls react to being dumped.

and he had his butt famously kicked by Calvin Murphy, a legendary NBA fight because Wicks was ONE FOOT TALLER than him. 


I left this reason out: My mom thought Wicks was incredibly handsome and gushed that he looked like a black Omar Sharif. That I remember this all these years later tells you exactly how frightened I was that my least-favorite Celtic might become my stepfather someday. 

I'm not touching that one.

But here's why Sidney Wicks stands out for NBA/history reasons …

He averaged 24.5 points as a rookie, then saw his scoring average drop every year for the next nine years until he retired. Do you realize how hard that is? You have to willingly become 7 percent worse every year for your entire career — it's like intentional atrophy. 

I'm sure it was 100% a conscious decision on his part.  He absolutely did it on purpose.

I don't know whether he's the Dave Stapleton of basketball, or Dave Stapleton was the Sidney Wicks of baseball. But that brings us to Blake Griffin … 24 years old, marketable, likable, wildly entertaining, one of the best five forwards in basketball, and one of the best in-game dunkers who ever lived. Should we be concerned by this Wicksian career arc?

Year 1: DNP (knee surgery)
Year 2: 22.5 PPG, 12.1 RPG, 3.8 APG, 51% FG, 64% FT, 16.8 FGA, 8.5 FTA, 1.3 stocks, 21.9 PER
Year 3: 20.7 PPG, 10.9 RPG, 3.2 APG, 55% FG, 52% FT, 15.5 FGA, 7.1 FTA, 1.5 stocks, 23.4 PER
Year 4: 18.0 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 3.7 APG, 54% FG, 66% FT, 13.4 FGA, 5.3 FTA, 1.8 stocks, 22.4 PER

Yeeeeesh. What happened to his rebounding? (Great question.) 

Conveniently omitted from those stat lines:  minutes per game.  Year 2: 38.0; Year 3: 36.2; Year 4: 32.5.

Why isn't he getting to the line as much? (No clear answer.) 

Conveniently omitted from those stat lines:  minutes per game.

Is he shooting more jumpers? (Quick look at HoopData says … nope.) 

Probably not, considering his FG% is holding steady.  Also, conveniently omitted from those stat lines:  minutes per game.

Did he lose shots to Chris Paul and Jamal Crawford these past two years? (Probably.) 


And should we be worried that bigger power forwards can bully him down low, the way his archnemesis Z-Bo did in Round 1? (In all caps: YES.) 

Z-Bo is really, really good.  Griffin's defense kind of sucks, but I'm not sure how much we're supposed to "worry about it."  He's really good.  He's not perfect.

What about Kirk Goldsberry breaking down Blake's offensive game by saying, "He's obviously great near the basket, but he's below-average everywhere else"? (A big fat YES.)


On the flip side — that's what we love about the guy. I have probably watched him in person 55 times at this point; he's the most fearless basketball player I've ever seen. 


You watch Blake Griffin the same way parents watch their 9-month-old child crawling around a house that hasn't been childproofed; you never feel safe, not for a second. Nobody wants anything to happen to Blake. That feeling lingers over the air in every Clippers game, especially because it's the Clippers, the most jinxed franchise in sports (see my 2009 "Curse of the Sacred Buffalo").

We went over this last post.

Stripping aside all the fanboy stuff, 

Something Bill excels at.

you're getting an 18-8 every night from someone who plays one end of the floor and treats every game like he's an X Games contestant. That's not a superstar. That's a star. Big difference.

I agree-why is he #11 on this list?  Why is he ahead of Kevin Love, Chris Bosh and Al Horford?  Because DUNKZ?

We always judged Blake on his preposterous potential — well, what happens if he already reached it?

I think he probably has, other than getting a little better at hitting midrange jumpers.  He's still very good, and I don't want to talk out of both sides of my mouth and defend Griffin while also tearing him down, but that's the position Bill and his inability to be anything but hyperbolic (EVERYTHING IS EITHER SEVERELY OVERRATED OR SEVERELY UNDERRATED OR ON THE WAY TO BEING ONE OR THE OTHER) have put me in.

His outside shot hasn't improved in three years; opponents beg him to shoot it (especially in the playoffs). He can't affect games defensively with his athleticism like, say, Shawn Kemp in the mid-'90s. He isn't a good enough rebounder right now. He isn't big enough to be your small-ball 5, and he's not strong enough to handle bigger power forwards like Duncan and Z-Bo. He thrives in up-and-down, ABA-type games, but as soon as those games slow down (especially late), so does his effectiveness. And he's a never-ending injury risk because he plays so recklessly.

Which is the biggest knock on Love (not the recklessness, but the fragility), and in my moderately informed opinion Love is a better player.  But I guess Griffin goes this high because of.... again, DUNKZ?  Wait, no, just figured it out.  It's because Bill is a Clippers STH, and sees Griffin in person all the time.  Since we're talking about a non-Celtic, I almost forgot about how staggeringly bad bill is at objectivity for a second there.

And look, we're edging into the top 10 here. We're putting up the Superstar Rope in front of the Trade Value nightclub right now. Blake Griffin isn't good enough yet. You could rank him higher because he's the most popular Clipper ever, 

Watch out, Danny Manning!

someone who earns his max contract from a popularity/interest/star power standpoint. And you could rank him lower because he's just not that valuable yet, and because his icy relationship with Chris Paul — if any coach who's even remotely competent the next coach can't heal it — 

Second typo that could have been fixed by rudimentary editing in this segment (I deleted the other one, in the Duncan section).  STET AWL CHANGES.  STET AWL CHANGES.

is straying into "Him or Me" territory. We're getting there (as covered in Part 2 of last Friday's column). So we're splitting the difference and sticking him here.

Chris Paul is a crybaby, a serial flopper and a shithead.  I hope the Lakers sign him and re-sign Howard.  Watching those two fall short of impossibly high expectations every season through 2018 would be a delight.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Bill's trade value column gave me herpes, part 1

If you missed the first two installments of my annual "Who Has the NBA's Highest Trade Value?" gimmick, here's Part 1 and Part 2.

It's fun for me to go back through the archives of this blog and look at old posts from 2007 and 2008.  Besides being an awesome portal to the past and to a time when my life sucked much less, it's also astonishing to me how often this blog published back then.  We averaged over a post per day!  Wild stuff.  Obviously we had more people writing, but we also really cranked out the content.  What happened eventually is that we all grew up, got much more demanding jobs, and stopped having time to write snarky bullshit about bad sportswriting.  It happens.  Life happens.  You're only 23 once.  When you hit your late 20s shit gets complicated in a hurry.  (Fortunately I do not have kids yet, so I won't put you through an excruciating 5000 word essay about how WACKY AND ZANY it is to have a kid like Magary writes twice a week on Deadspin these days.  I'm just saying, life right after college rules.  Life several years after college rules a lot less.)  Meanwhile, Bill's job is to write about sports, and yet he took more than three weeks to finish this column.  Part 1 was published on April 18, and part 3 finally came out on May 10.  This is a column he writes every year, and has plenty of time to think about.  That's dedication to your craft, people.  I'd say he's as lazy as Rick Reilly, but no one is as lazy as Rick Reilly.

Did I stretch 2013's edition into a 23,000-word trilogy spread over the course of four weeks? Yup. Were my readers happy about that decision? NO! NOOOOOOOOO! Not in the least. Josh from Albany summed up everyone's feelings: "What the hell is this — Lord of the Rings?"

Lol, like those movies based on Game of Thrones!  If there's one thing I've learned from Bill over the years, it's that sports = movies = TV = sports.

That's exactly what this is! It's The Lord of the Rings! 

Like I just said.

If you want to know the truth, spreading the top 50 over four weeks didn't screw up my overall rankings too much. Only five players saw their rankings get affected, for better and worse.

"I wanted to keep tinkering, but one of the three people who work for ESPN who actually has authority over me told me they were going to cut my Grantland budget if I didn't just finish the fucking thing."

KLAY THOMPSON: I ranked him 47th in Part 1, noting that "If there weren't a 68 percent chance that he's submitting a deer-in-the-headlights performance in the Denver series, I'd have him ranked higher." And then … BOOM! No deer, no headlights.

What's the point of doing these rankings in the first place if you're going to drastically alter them based on one six game series?  Also, why would you crank up Thompson's ranking because he happens to play on the same team as Steph Curry?

MIKE CONLEY JR.: Even if I'm a charter member of the Rudy Gay Is Severely Overrated committee, I never anticipated the addition-by-subtraction elements of that trade: (a) Memphis becoming Conley's team, and (b) Conley making a semi-leap in the playoffs for a legitimate contender. Throw in his suddenly agreeable contract (three more years at $26.34 million combined) and he's absolutely a top-50 guy. If I had a do-over, I'd give him Paul Pierce's spot 


and stick Conley at no. 37 in that Rondo/Chandler group. I'd also appreciate a do-over on this tweet from two and a half years ago:

Mike Conley??? Are you sure it wasn't 5 million for 45 years? RT @FRancium34: ESPN reports Conley gets 5 year 45M extension.

Not that anyone's analysis is ever going to be 100% perfect (Lord knows my Justin Upton rant from a couple months ago looks severely retarded right now), but that Tweet is the kind of thing that makes me realize I should invest a little time into learning more about the NBA so I can more properly call Bill out for the piles and piles of idiotic things he undoubtedly says about basketball all the time.



SERGEBALLU LAMU SAYONGA LOOM WALAHAS JONAS HUGO IBAKA: Here's what I initially wrote about Serge for Part 3 (when he was penciled in at no. 17):

Blossomed into a legitimate third banana, averaging a 13-8 with three blocks and making 50 percent of his shots from 10 feet or more. Not a misprint! Every time a Serge 18-footer leaves you muttering "That's a terrible shot … oh wait, I forgot he makes those!" He's a freak athlete with a little "dark alley" in him, a budding provocateur who gives OKC a much-needed edge. He's also the league's third-best out-of-nowhere blocker behind Larry Sanders and LeBron, a starter on the "Guys Who Make You Look Over Your Shoulder At All Times" All-Stars. He's only 23, with a four-year, $49 million extension kicking in next season. 

Even if explained in an obnoxious way, those are all things that mean something.

And he's named "Serge Ibaka" — 

That's something that means fuckall, and isn't funny or interesting either.

one of those names that's destined for success,

IF JOEY HARRINGTON HAD GONE BY JOE HARRINGTON HE'D HAVE BEEN GOOD!  That's a point Bill has actually pushed in the past.  Bill is the guy watching the game at your friend's place, and while everyone else is just trying to enjoy the game and pay attention to it, he's telling you that Serge Ibaka has an awesome name.

whether you're an athlete, rapper, Breaking Bad character, 

Sports = TV = sports!

vacation island, 


Disney movie franchise, or whatever else. You're not failing when you're named "Serge Ibaka."

So what happened? After Russell Westbrook went down, everyone assumed Ibaka would pick up some of Westbrook's slack. Nope. Poor Serge doesn't have another gear. You're getting 11 and seven from him, with no low-post production whatsoever, regardless of who is out there. 

If only a genius basketball mind like the author of NYT bestseller "The Book of Basketball" had been there to weigh on Ibaka, maybe we'd have known about his shortcomings earlier.  Alas.

If anything, Westbrook's absence exposed Ibaka as being less of a building block and more of a luxury. That's a HUGE deal. He can't be in the top 20 anymore.

Fuck the Thunder.  I hope they never win shit and that Durant does a "The Decision"-style TV feature when he announces he's leaving town.

As for everyone else …

GROUP E: "We'll Call You Back; We're Not Done Arguing Internally About This Yet"

18. Dwight Howard

This is unrelated to the rest of the post, but it's never a bad time to mention that Dwight Howard is mental 12 year old and truly a piece of shit.

Remember when Mike Tyson came out of prison and wasn't the same boxer anymore, even though he looked like the same guy? 

Amazing that he went with a sports analogy there, I figured he would have gone with "Remember when [that one thing that changed the character in question] happened in [The Shawshank Redemption/The Karate Kid/Teen Wolf/some other overrated or terrible movie]?"

That's Dwight Howard since 2011's NBA lockout. He's not a force of nature anymore. 

Much as I think he's a piece of shit, I also think he is being honest when he says he did not play at 100% at any point this season.  He's only 27, and even though he relies a lot on athleticism, I think he'll age decently.

The Eye Test backs it up, and so do the results: Howard dragged a 219-102 record from four half-decent Magic teams from 2008 to 2011, then went just 75-55 in these past two seasons once his body started breaking down. 

Without him, the 2011-2012 Magic miss the playoffs by a mile.  NBA team wins as an individual statistic are only slightly less stupid than MLB pitcher wins.

There's been a not-so-subtle dip in his offensive numbers …

2011: 22.9 PPG, 14.1 RPG, 59% FG, 60% FT, 227 dunks, 26.0 PER (second in NBA)
2013: 17.1 PPG, 12.4 RPG, 58% FG, 49% FT, 187 dunks, 19.4 PER (38th)

… and defensively, Dwight isn't the NBA's most impactful player anymore. You would rather have Marc Gasol or Joakim Noah, both of whom are just better at anchoring a defense. Throw in the undeniable injury risks, the maturity issues, and the words "not even a hint of any leadership whatsoever" and, um, why would I want to give him $118 million again? 

Again, I am 100% of the opinion that Dwight Howard is a jackass, but you want to give him that money because even when he's playing hurt, he can give you 17 and 12.

We'll tackle this in detail before free agency kicks off.

Ooh, he might finish whatever column that is by August!

GROUP D: "Sorry, There's No Way You Love Him More Than We Do"

17. Joakim Noah
Covered above, and also in Part 2. It's too bad we can't cement Noah's rapid rise up the Trade Value Trilogy by linking to an elaborate music video of his father singing Bob Marley's "Redemption Song" and featuring a Joakim cameo. Wait, what?????????

Sports = YouTube videos = sports!  (Obviously I didn't want to bother to imbed this video in the post.  If you don't go find it and watch it, guess what you're missing? *fart sound*)

16. Anthony Davis
Even though a few unlucky injuries cost the Brow a Rookie of the Year award, I'm focusing on a 19-game stretch he played this spring: 31.6 MPG, 16.1 PPG, 9.8 RPG, 1.7 BPG and 53.3% FG until … whoops, he got hurt again. (Stay on the damned court, Brow!) I love his Very Poor Man's McHale/Duncan low-post potential, and I love the roster flexibility that Davis provides: Once his outside shooting improves (and it will), he could be your small-ball 5 (like Chris Bosh in Miami) or your big-ball 4 (like Ibaka in OKC). You could win a title someday with the Brow as your second-best player. New Orleans was lucky that David Stern owned the Hornets and gave himself the no. 1 overall pick to get him.

Things stupid people believe: 1) The NBA draft lottery is rigged (although I do agree with Bill that it should be televised, there's no way it wouldn't be extremely popular no matter how mundane it is) 2) Your name determines whether you will be a good athlete 3) Crowds in Boston are smarter than crowds in other cities and can will Boston's teams to victory

15. Paul George
Reader Dave King reminds us that George grew up as a huge Clippers fan — repeat: a huge Clippers fan!!! — but that didn't deter the Clippers from taking the immortal Al-Farouq Aminu two spots ahead of him in the 2010 draft. That's right, the Clippers could have landed Blake Griffin, Paul George and Kyrie Irving in back-to-back-to-back drafts! Please add this to your "The Clippers Are Cursed" files.

4) There are curses in sports

By the way, I have some advice that will help Paul George become a household name. 


He should change his number immediately from no. 24 to no. 13. Here's why … can you think of anyone being helped by a nickname more than Paul George suddenly becoming "PG-13?" Uh-oh, PG-13 is heating up! Warning, this game contains strong language, violence and a possible heat check! We might have to make this performance rated "R" — it's too hot to handle! Let's make this happen already.

You're an unfunny twat.

14. Marc Gasol
Any pickup-basketball regular battles an ongoing dilemma: What's it worth to keep playing for as long as possible? If it's super-crowded and you want to stay on the court for a few games, you might suck it up and jump on a team with Pickup Carmelo or Pickup Kobe — a.k.a. a one-on-one guy who will shoot half your team's shots, only he's good enough that you might be able to ride him for two straight hours. But if it's less crowded? You take your chances with people who are fun to play with — a.k.a. unselfish guys who run the floor, know how to pass and cut, keep the ball moving, don't take stupid transition shots, and generally know what they're doing.

Pretty sure that when Bill goes to the gym to run, he's viewed by everyone else there as Pickup Shawn Bradley, but much shorter and with less quickness.

And ideally, this is what happens: A few times per year, you'll find the right four guys on a crowded day, everything will click, you'll turn into the '77 Blazers, and you end up laying the smack down, 2013 Heat–style, for six or seven straight.

Chris Jones, Chuck Klosterman, and the rest of Grantland's self-obsessed writers marvel at Bill's self-obsession.

It's just the best day you can have. It's the greatest. You limp out of there beaming, and when your wife or girlfriend asks you later that night why you're so damned happy, you can't even properly explain it. How can you explain total bliss? I love playing basketball — even now, with my body breaking down and my game decaying to alarming degrees — if only because it's one of the few places left on earth where you can connect with total strangers like that. 

Everyone at the gym after Bill leaves: "Man, who the fuck was that asshole?  Why did he keep calling plays for himself when he can't dribble or shoot?"

Age doesn't matter, 

Not that I want to discuss the intricacies of pickup basketball with a 45 year old navel-gazing loser, but yes it does.

backgrounds don't matter, nothing matters. You have four teammates, they can be anybody, and you either know how to click with them or you don't.


That's what makes Marc Gasol special, and that's why you can't totally measure him with stats. I voted for him as my first-team All-NBA center. Why? 

Because he's white?  I like Gasol, and I may have mentioned that I think Dwight Howard is a piece of shit, but Howard was the better player this year.

Because he can blend in with any four guys in the league. He'll anchor your defense, grab some rebounds, make every smart pass, post up when you need him. He's a phenomenal leader and chemistry guy. And he's malleable.

In Bill's imagination, he and Gasol hold the court for seven games in a row!  They even beat that HORRIBLE MEAN BACKSTABBER Ray Allen and his team twice!

More later.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

What this world needs is more love letters from sportswriters to Derek Jeter

How many more years will sportswriters sit down at their keyboards, or whatever awesome brain-connected device replaces the keyboard 20 years from now, and decide that the world really desperately needs to read more drivel like this?  Don't get me wrong, I know it'll go on until he dies, so at least another 40ish years, but will it stop at some point after that?  I guess Bob Costas still blabs He Was More Important Than The Game Itself garbage about Mantle to this day, so the answer is probably no.  Christ.  It's excruciating to think about.

THE MAGIC OF baseball will always live in the storytelling --

And this is why a lot of people hate baseball.  For all the shit I shovel on the NFL for being a sport for meatheads, the assface baseball fan equivalent to the NFL fan meathead is the person who thinks the magic of baseball is in the storytelling.  It most certainly does not, not anymore than the magic of any sports is in the storytelling.  The magic of baseball is in the accessibility, the quirkiness, the way it starts with spring and dies with fall every year, and a hundred other things that are not related to constructing obnoxious and often factually incorrect narratives around dreamy-eyed True Yankees.

the grandeur of Ruth, the Midwestern identification with Musial, the unbreakable Robinson and the complex defiance and moral ambiguity of Bonds.

The magic of all those guys were that they were phenomenal players.  Reading about them (and, for example, the fact that Bonds and Ruth dominated the game in very similar ways 70ish years apart) is awesome, but it's not awesome "storytelling."  It's awesome because they were awesome at baseball.

It's what gives life to the statistics.

I'm sure you can see where this is headed.

Unfortunately, in the age of Moneyball and fantasy leagues,


the numbers have been detached from, and become more important than, the players.

This is about as phenomenal a straw man as you could hope to construct to try to tear down STAT NERDS.  Hey, I'll bet you STAT NERDS think NUMBERS are more important than BASEBALL PLAYERS, don't you?  You'd get rid of the players entirely if you could!  Don't deny it!

All but one.

You guessed it... Frank Stallone.

The Yankees' Derek Jeter has defied the impact of the two most influential elements of his time: the institutional shift toward quantitative analysis and the cynical lust for home runs, fueled by performance-enhancing drugs.

This is pure horseshit.  I'm sure you were thinking the same thing as you were reading it so I'll spare you the paragraph-long response.  Needless to say, there is nothing about a guy with a .382 career OBP and 94 oWAR that "defies" the shift towards quantitative analysis.  If you want to out yourself as a shithead, be sure to say things like YOU STAT NERDS PROBABLY DON'T EVEN THINK DEREK JETER IS GOOD.  Somewhere along the line, shitheads like Bryant have tried to drastically change the message promoted by people who say things like "Jeter is a bad defensive shortstop" and "Jeter is a first ballot HOF guy, but I'm tired of reading love letters to him from people like Howard Bryant" to JETER SUX.  It's embarrassing.  Also, sorry Howard, but it's not 1998 anymore.  No one is "lusting" for home runs.

For now, he's stuck at 3,304 hits, sidelined until after the All-Star break with an ankle injury. But with Jeter, the visual has always been better than the numerical --

Those steely, calm, steel eyes.  They look right through you.  And when Derek says "Sorry guys, no more questions, I've got to shower and go home" the eyes are saying something much naughtier than that.

and there's never been a better time to appreciate that than in his absence,

Or every March through October of every year from 1996 through 2012, which apparently were also great times to appreciate him, according to numerous baseball writers across the country.

which only underscores his longevity.

It certainly underscores that he's old as shit and about to retire.  Not sure if it underscores how long he's been playing.

For years, most stats guys never liked him as much as his All-Star rivals at shortstop: Alex Rodriguez,

They both became regulars in 1996.  Between then and 2004, when A-FRAUD joined the Yankees, there was exactly one season when Jeter was better (1999).  The other eight seasons, PAY-ROD was somewhere between "somewhat better" and "insanely better" than Steely McGiftBasket.  Jeter is one of the 20 best players of the past 20 years.  Rodriguez is one of the 20 best players of all time.

Nomar Garciaparra

He became a regular in 1997.  Between then and 2003, when he finished his run as an impact player thanks to his groin/hamstring exploding like a firework in 2004, Jeter was better in 1999 and 2001 (because NOMAH got hurt and played in only 21 games).

and Miguel Tejada.

Tejada was definitely not as good as Jeter, although I don't remember too many "stat guys" insisting on that, especially considering Tejada's weakness relative to these other three was always OBP.

Jeter, now 38, has outlasted them all at the position

Lol.  Yes, Jeter did a fantastic job of outlasting Rodriguez at the position, mostly by being the world's greatest teammate and forcing the defensively superior Rodriguez to switch positions in order to accommodate Jeter's ego.

and created a more compelling legacy. (Rodriguez and Tejada will always be drug-tainted,

Fortunately, non-idiots will still be able to appreciate how good they were anyways.  Also, $1,000 to the Red Cross if Jeter tests positive before the end of the season.

and Jeter likely will finish with twice as many hits as Garciaparra's 1,747.)

Take that, guy whose career was ended by crippling and unpredictable injuries!

Jeter most clearly defined his essence on separate occasions in the 2001 ALDS against the A's. Moment One was, of course, [LB edit: THE FLIP PLAY OMG NEED TO GO CHANGE MY PANTS]. But while the scorebook registers Jeter's play as simply an out -- albeit one that was 9-to-6-to-2 -- it demoralized the A's.

This is the kind of stuff we're going to be reading from our rocking chairs at the old folks home in 2070, and the person writing it is going to think they're shining light into darkness.

The second defining moment came two nights later, with the A's spent, wondering as the noise cascaded on them just how they were here playing a deciding Game 5 at Yankee Stadium, how they had let the series slip away. Terrence Long hit a foul ball along the third base line that Jeter chased and caught, spilling into the stands. It was, again, just another out, F6, but on the field it was a referendum of championship toughness.

A ball a faster guy might have gotten to without having to sell out and dive into the stands.  But hey, GRIT TOUGH STEELY EYES CLUTCH.  Hard to argue with that.

The Yankees had it. The A's didn't.

The ability to win three out of five games in that particular series: the Yankees had it.

That intangibles notion is murky, of course, and complicated.

Could have ended the article right there.

Jeter played in an era when everyone was suspected of PED use. For those choosing to believe the shortstop that he was, is and always has been a clean ballplayer, the monument to his fidelity and greatness lies in his old-school bona fides.

That's awesome.  "Those who assume he never used credit it to something ill-defined, the existence of which can't be proven or disproven."  And let's also point out that as of June 2011, Jeter was coming off by far his worst offensive season and was hitting .257/.321/.329 with zero home runs in the not-exactly-young season. Then he rebounded nicely to finish 2011 and had a .316/.362/.429 season with fifteen home runs in 2012.  Let's just put that out there.  Something clicked for him.  Did a nagging injury heal?  Did he change his approach?  You know what--it could have been anything.

Jeter, along with possibly Ken Griffey Jr., is the only player in the modern game whose iconic moments were generated by all five tools -- not just by standing in the batter's box and hitting another home run in a game that encouraged nothing but.

Again, if you want to out yourself as a shithead, make sure you tell everyone that Jeter is one of only two players in the last 25ish years to generate "iconic moments" with all five tools.  That will make it very clear to everyone reading your writing that you're a fucking shithead.  It will also require you to ignore the existence of Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, Carlos Beltran, and about 200 other position players to play during that time.

Like Jackie Robinson, Jeter is pure baseball.

True Yankee.  Steely Eyes.  Pure Baseball.  Gift Basket.

He will be remembered for his baserunning (the clever beating of the shift by swiping third base that he made routine).

How many players don't capitalize on that?  More importantly, how many teams are like "screw it, ignore than runner on second, we're putting the full shift on?"  My guess is this happened once with Jeter in like 1997 and Bryant now wants to credit him with a) making it routine and b) inventing cars, airplanes, and computers.

He will be equally celebrated for his fielding and throwing.

He will be remembered for being an adequate to good shortstop through his 20s, and then receiving a bunch of Gold Gloves he didn't deserve during his 30s.  Not sure "celebrated" is the right term.

(Even though he doesn't rank anywhere near the top 1,000 in career defensive WAR, you can't deny the Flip, the nailing of Arizona's Danny Bautista at third in the 2001 World Series or the flying leap into the crowd against the Red Sox in the summer of '04.)

That's right.  Those three plays cannot be denied.  They really happened, they were not optical illusions that fooled everyone who saw them.  I will grant that.  He's still been a shitty defensive shortstop for a decade and running.

And his hitting consistency is close to unmatched. (His injury likely will make his quest for 4,000 hits unsuccessful, but he is in range to catch Henry Aaron at 3,771 for third all time.)

I'm not trying to overhate here, but that's not going to happen.

Not that he couldn't power the ball out of the ballpark too -- there was the first-pitch leadoff home run in Game 4 of the 2000 Series when the Mets had won the night before,

"Not that he couldn't power the ball out of the ballpark too -- remember, he hit a home run once."  Take a step back and think about this article.  What the fuck are you getting out of this?  What the fuck could Derek Jeter's closest admirers (other than Howard Bryant and his family) get out this?  Much of this can be summarized as "Jeter was great."  Holy dog balls, this is awful.  Almost over though.

and the two-out, full-count walk-off home run the following year in Game 4 against Arizona.

Why did the Yankees lose that series?  I blame A-Rod, even though he was a Ranger at the time.

As if that wasn't enough, there's also the imprint he's had on the Yankees, the first homegrown star to lead the franchise to the World Series since Mickey Mantle. (1977-78 belonged to Reggie, not Munson.) 

As Chris W put it, what a fun and worthwhile use of our time--let's argue whether Munson really "led" the Yankees to that title.  After that we can go back to debating the existence of Jeter's "old school bona fides."

He became the signature player for the game's signature team when it returned to power, and in an era of drugs and cynicism and ruined reputations, he never embarrassed the sport, his team or,

This describes 99% of all MLB players.  One of the ones it does not describe is Barry Bonds, who was still fucking awesome, way more awesome than Derek Jeter.  Neener neener neener.

most important, his family name.

Most importantly, he never embarrassed the sacred Jeter family name?  What?  Why are we giving him credit for this?  "Most importantly, he never pushed anyone off of the Statue of Liberty.  For this, he deserves a parade."

There is no metric for that. Just a magical story.

It really isn't.  This was a colossal waste of time and I apologize to you for having made you read it.

Sunday, May 5, 2013


Big ups to dan-bob for putting up a post last week while I was indisposed.  I'll be back at it this week with a few posts, but tonight all I have is a quick throwaway from part one to Simmons's NBA trade value column (he still hasn't written part 3 yet--I guess it's not like sportswriting is his job or anything), regarding the Boston bombing.  To be clear, the bombing was a horrible tragedy and it makes me very angry.  I do not wish harm or suffering on anyone, except the kind of suffering that happens when a city's teams play shitty and make their fans sad.  So I really feel for Boston, and especially those directly affected by the bombing.  All that said: here's some ridiculous bullshit Bill wrote about it that I cannot let slide.

You can't break Boston. People have been trying for 350 years. 

Who?  Who are these HATERZ who have been trying to break Boston for 350 years?  Sure, people like King George and Hitler and bin Laden have been trying to break the whole United States.  But Boston specifically?  I hate to have to roll this out here, but I'm going to: Boston is not fucking special.  The Tsarnaev brothers were not like WE WILL ATTACK BOSTON BECAUSE OF WHAT BOSTON STANDS FOR, WHICH IS SOMETHING DIFFERENT THAN WHAT ANY OTHER CITY STANDS FOR.  They were probably more like WE WILL ATTACK BOSTON BECAUSE WE LIVE HERE AND IT'S CONVENIENT.  I am happy that the tragedy was not worse, I am happy the perpetrators are now dead/in custody, and I hope Boston rebuilds itself and feels better (just like what I would hope for any city anywhere in the world that suffered through a terrorist attack).  Fuck it, I will even sing Sweet Caroline at the ballpark (just like I would participate in any mass showing of support for any city that suffered a terrorist attack).  But can we please stop pretending that Boston is dealing with this any differently than any fucking city in the country would?  Please.  WE AHHHHHH DIFFERENT!  WE AHHHHH SPECIAL!  I absolutely support you, Boston, but no.  No you are not.

It's not happening. We will mourn the fallen, raise money for the victims and come back more defiant than ever. 

Yes, like the people of any city in the fucking country would do. 

For anyone who thinks the marathon has been ruined or irrevocably altered — 

Which is no one with a brain, because it's perfectly obvious that next year's marathon will be a huge event with massive participation and lots of moments of remembrance and all that good stuff.

you're wrong. 


Too many people will do whatever it takes to rebuild that race, improve it, protect it, make it better than it was. 

Like the people of any city in the fucking country would do.

I bet more people run next year's race than ever before. 

Sure, agree.

It's our own little holiday, the most sacred of days. 


So when someone tries to blow that day up in the most evil way possible, you pull yourself back together, try to process the senselessness, slowly feel yourself getting pissed off, and then sing the national anthem at the top of your lungs and send a message to everyone else. 

Consider the message sent: just like every single other city in the goddamn country, Boston is not going to empty out and turn into a ghost town after a tragedy.  People will continue to live there and not much will change about their lives.  Quick, get them all medals and trophies for their amazing display of... whatever it is Bill thinks they're displaying.  

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Back to the Bread and Butter

Hey folks, it's been awhile, but I got a bit riled up reading a post by John Fay, a Reds' beat writer, entitled "Statheads Love to Hate Dusty", and I had to come back.  The namesake of this blog made its money hammering at stupid things said involving statistics, journalism and baseball, so this one's a hearkening back to the old days.  

Everything in baseball these days seems to come down to a Sabermetrics vs. Old School debate. That’s what the Aroldis Chapman argument revolved around. That was the whole basis for the Miguel Cabrera vs. Mike Trout MVP debate.

Did I miss something about Sabermetrics involving Aroldis Chapman?  I think he's not a very provocative player to cite in this debate, seeing as Sabermetric fans are probably amazed at, say, his incredible ability to acculumate 3.6 WAR while playing in only 71 innings or his 15.3 K/9... while Old School fans are probably amazed at, say, his incredible ability to throw a ball one billion miles an hour for strikes.

The thing that continues to amaze me is neither side ever seems to find any merit in the other side’s argument.

This line is Fay's attempt to position himself as an objective party in this debate.  Unfortunately he will consistently undermine this position.

Covering the Reds is debate central. The Saber crowd loves to scream about Dusty Baker. Baker is Public Enemy No. 1 to Sabermetric enthusiasts.

It's not a good idea, when trying to position yourself as objective, to characterize one side by calling them a "crowd", characterizing their arguments as "screams", and overdramatizing their point of view.

Baker definitely manages by the book that was written before WAR meant anything other than a conflict between nations. But so does just about every other manager in baseball.

Wow, that's a Simmonsesque joke. What about the book that war written before WAR meant anything other than a card game of pure chance involving two eight-year-olds?

So why is Baker such a lightning rod? I think there are two reasons Baker comes to the forefront of the debate: a) he doesn’t back down when asked about things like RBI vs. on-base percentage. His quote about walks clogging the bases is Exhibit A; b) I think some of the Sabermetrics crowd has a hard time accepting that an old baseball guy might know something about the game that they don’t.

Now I remember why I hate people.  

Most recently, Baker has infuriated Sabers by batting Zack Cozart second in the lineup. I inadvertently got pulled into the debate via Twitter. Keith Law of had a “Baker rant” on his podcast.

I dismissed it in a tweet with something along the lines of: Saber guy disagreeing with Dusty, I’m shocked.

That sure was nice of Fay to be honest about how he dismissed Law's point  without discussing its merits.  I'm glad Fay didn't decide to be a police officer.  

I stirred it up with that.

“Anyone who knows math would disagree with Dusty,” a follower tweeted.

“So Albert Einstein would be the ideal manager?” I replied with a tinge of snark.

I'm pretty sure this whole blog is about snark, as Larry B famously noted back in January 2008 when he introduced the famous Reader Participation Fridays.  I took Jeff Pearlman to task for it in a classic March 2008 masterpiece.  Either way, Fay's comment is stupid.  Everyone knows Albert Einstein would be a shitty manager.  He didn't even understand baseball.

I ended up listening to Law’s podcast (or at least the rant portion). 

I'm glad he did that after tweeting about it, and I'm glad he didn't even listen to the whole podcast.  I don't have a critical opinion of Fay as a whole (I'm too far out of sports journalism these days to offer sensible generalizations), but this very sentence just about makes me feel like I just got really bad news from my doctor.

It was about Cozart and the No. 2 spot. I agree that Cozart is better suited to hit down in the lineup. I completely disagree with Law’s contention that Joey Votto should hit second.

Watch that second sentence.  He's going to agree with Law here, and then contradict his own point later.

Law’s rant said Baker’s “willful ignorance” led him to make out his lineup without using the data on on-base percentage. Law cited “Moneyball” and the Red Sox as proof the theory works. (Anyone who thinks the A’s won because of Billy Beane’s grasp of on-base percentage and not starting pitching may be willfully ignorant, but that’s not the point here.)

I wonder if it's possible that the A's won because of both of those things.  Or is that just too hard to imagine?  Is this just a binary world where everything is either completely caused by one thing or another?  Is every person a Democrat or a Republican?  Can every number just be a zero or a one?  Can every bathroom just be gentlemen or ladies? 

Also, reducing Moneyball to "Billy Beane's grasp of on-base percentage" is shallow and miserable thinking.  It reminds me of the Book-a-Minute spoofs which reduce classic literature, except those are done for humor, and John Fay ostensibly gets paid real live American dollars to offer sensible and serious opinions about baseball.

Baker is batting Cozart second because he thinks it will work, not because he doesn’t know about on-base percentage.

Well of course.  But John Fay doesn't think it will work, as he's already said, but will for some unknown reason attempt (and fail) to refute himself in the next sentence.

It worked last year. Cozart hit .324 with a .378 on-base percentage and a .491 slugging percentage in the No. 2 spot compared to .246/.288/.399 overall.

Why does Fay even mention this?  He just said he disagreed with Dusty in batting Cozart #2!  I wonder if it would be relevant to put that, last year, Cozart's .324 average came in just over 100 at bats, and at the time of this writing, Cozart was hitting .198/.221/.363 in just under 100 at bats.  Given the sample size of his whole career (748 PA), his line is .245/.282/.398, I think it's safe to say that last year's performance in the #2 spot is likely to be something of an aberration.  Why would he even mention that statistic? That makes like negative sense, for anyone who knows math about negative numbers. Who would want Cozart hitting second in any lineup? It only undermines his point about Dusty and skjcnsecjnsejvnsdkjvnkdsjvnk. I can't even go on any more about how stupid this is.

I hate people.  Go Reds.