Friday, August 23, 2013

Barf barf barf barf barf

You know I am not a fan of Deadspin, so if I'm linking to something they did and saying sincerely that it's awesome, it must be at the very least regular awesome, if not fucking awesome.  Out of all 100 vomit-inducing actions on the part of ESPN in the timeline laid out in that post I think the most vomit-inducing might be:

Step 6: San Francisco's ABC affiliate does a segment dedicated to it. ABC and ESPN are both owned by Disney.

SYNERGY, FOLKS.  SYNERGISTIC SYNERGY.  You just know some fuckass worthless piece of shit MBA (or worthless pieces of shit MBAs, perhaps) at Disney headquarters orchestrated that move and then self-high fived (or high fived each other, perhaps).  I hope whoever was responsible catches rickets, then is cured, then catches an even worse case of rickets.  Eat a barrel of shit, ESPN/Disney.  Fuck.  You.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Bill's NBA offseason tardfuckery, part 2 (of 2)

Only two parts to this little series of posts.  I'm sure you're very disappointed.

Before we get to Part 2, I want to make five more points about one of my favorite movies ever.

If Farina doesn't die last month, I promise you couldn't get Bill to give a remotely accurate description of the plot of Midnight Run today.  Bill is like an eight year old, whose favorite anything is the whatever-it-is from that category he has most recently seen/heard/experienced.  I suppose that shouldn't come as a surprise, given that his favorite Boston team is the one that has most recently won a title (unless the Clippers make a deep playoff run this year, in which case, get ready for his article about how it's OK to have two favorite teams and how his Celtics fandom is "in a holding pattern right now, like the planes in Die Hard 2; I'VE GOT CLIPPER FEVER AND THE ONLY PRESCRIPTION IS MORE COWBELL!!!!!!!").

1. I can't remember another comedy using F-bombs better than Midnight Run. The F-bomb is practically its own character in the movie, getting dropped nearly once a minute (119 times in 126 minutes). 

Not that I would expect him to, you know, do research or anything, but a fourteen second Google search/review of top result reveals that there are dozens of comedies well ahead of Midnight Run in this category, including several everyone has seen, like The Big Lebowski.

A good way to judge the effectiveness of those F-bombs: 

We don't need to judge the "effectiveness" of them.  That is an idiot's faux-analytical exercise.

How much does the movie suffer when it's being bleeped to smithereens on TBS or USA?

All movies suffer when that happens.  It sounds bad when there are cuts in the audio.

In Midnight Run's case … a lot. You almost feel like it's being mutilated.

But American History X?  Pretty much the same movie!

If you made an F-Bomb Movie Mount Rushmore, Midnight Run probably gets the no. 4 spot behind Scarface, Goodfellas and Reservoir Dogs.

This is one of those double wrong situations--it's fucking dumb to even discuss this, and additionally, if we WERE to discuss it, any F-Bomb Movie Mount Rushmore that omits Casino is null and void.

2. Since 1996, I've been to Vegas probably 25 or 30 times.

We all care!  We care so much!  Tell us your stories, we're begging you!

And there wasn't a single time when I walked through McCarran Airport that I didn't want to scream at the top of my lungs, "SERRANO'S GOT THE DISKS! SERRANO'S GOT THE DISKS!"

You're a simpleton.  You should be fed to wild animals.

5. When you consider (a) how shameless Hollywood is, 


(b) how few good ideas Hollywood has,


(c) how terrific De Niro and Grodin were together, and

Only time ever or since that two accomplished actors did a good job with their roles as snappy characters in an action comedy.

(d) the movie's second (and more enduring) wave of popularity once it started making the rounds on cable, 

You have no idea what you're talking about.

it's surprising that Universal didn't rope De Niro and Grodin into doing a sequel. 


How easy would that have been? Serrano gets out of jail, blows up Jack's coffee shop and vows revenge on the Duke, followed by the Duke and Jack teaming up to get rid of him? Come on.





"What's that for?"
"A little inside joke between me and Alonzo."

To Zach Lowe, whose quest to call the Pelicans the "Pellies" ranked among the most goofy-entertaining moments in Grantland history. My prediction: I see their nickname unfolding much like that of Golden State, who assumed a variety of nickname forms over these past few decades (Warriors, Dubs, G-State and GSW). We'll see "Pels" (spoken and print), "NOLA" (spoken, print and Twitter) and "'Cans" (print and Twitter), with announcers calling them "New Orleans," "the Pelicans" or "the Pels." I don't see "Pellies" happening. Sounds too much like a failed Major Indoor Soccer League franchise from the mid-'80s. 

It sure doesn't!  I kind of feel bad for Lowe, who is a great analyst and pretty good writer (much like Grantland's Bill Barnwell).  He has a sweet job, but he has to interact regularly with Simmons.  That would be like someone who is actually good at this sportswriting line-by-line takedown gig being added to the FireJay staff, but also having to interact regularly with me in order to get their work published.

"How much is the coffee?"
"53 cents."
"How much is the tea?"
"53 cents."
"I'll have the tea."

To the lowly Bobcats, who smartly grabbed the vacated Hornets nickname so they could ride a wave of 1990s nostalgia momentum.  Look, it's not often you get to write the words "Bobcats," "smartly" and "momentum" in the same sentence. Let's remember this moment.

As for the coffee/tea exchange, that's one of my favorite Grodin moments and Reason No. 79 why he should have snared a Best Supporting Oscar nomination

Sweet Mary mother of Jesus, please shut the fuck up about this.

Re: the way the Dwight Howard deal ended up turning out pretty damn well for Orlando:

Jared is right, that was an outright pillaging! At the time, I criticized the Magic for not getting Andrew Bynum and made multiple jokes about then-new Orlando GM Rob Hennigan being overmatched. You know what? I'm giving myself a quote.


"What should be of paramount importance to you right now is not the phone calls, it's the fact that you're gonna spend 10 years for impersonating a federal agent."
"Ten years for impersonating a fed, huh?"
"Ten years."
"How comes no one's after you?"

To me, for doing such a mediocre impersonation of a wannabe NBA GM in this column. I wouldn't have done any better than most of these failed guys. Well, except for David Kahn. I would have done better than him. 

You know full well he's still convinced that he could negotiate circles around almost any GM in the league.

Anyway, combine Orlando's Howard haul with its Harris-Redick hijacking and Hennigan could start putting "Sam Presti 2.0" on his business cards. Let's hope he doesn't trade Oladipo for 20 cents on the dollar in four years. (Sorry, I had to.)


"You can't steal a truck!"
"You were stealing a plane!"

The riskiest part of the movie goes to this summer's riskiest team: The Warriors, who sacrificed two first-rounders to shed enough cap space for Andre Iguodala (signed to a very fair four-year, $48 million deal). I judge every contender's move by this question: Are you adding someone who could have played big minutes in the pressure cooker that I attended in Miami during Game 6 and Game 7 of the Finals?

The gratuitous insertion of the fact that he was at games 6 and 7 is so pathetic as to not need any further mockery.  Slowly, he is becoming Peter King (Or is PK becoming Bill, now that he just got his own quasi-Grantlandian-ish site? Either way, America loses).

Why didn't Cleveland pick Victor Oladipo first, trade the no. 19 pick for Thomas Robinson (as he was being fire-saled by Houston),

Yeah!  Why didn't they make that trade that who fucking knows if the other team would have accepted?

take Isaiah Canaan 31st (a potential impact bench guard for one-tenth the price of Jack), 

Isaiah, I don't hate you or anything, but I hope you flop miserably and are out of the league next summer.  Just because Bill said this.

then either make a run at Pau Gasol (for Anderson Varejao's expiring contract plus a future pick) 

Again, how could they not have made that deal that the Lakers definitely would have accepted for sure?

or Nikola Pekovic (with a monster free-agent offer)?

How dare they not come to the same conclusion Bill did regarding Pekovic's value?

OR, why not pick Oladipo, sign Paul Millsap (available at a discount for whatever reason), 

And obviously, we know for a fact that Millsap would have taken a deal in Cleveland, it's indisputable!

nab Robin Lopez from New Orleans (when they were fire-saling him, no less), 

It's so obvious!

then keep your remaining cap space for a February deadline trade? I thought Cleveland's summer was mystifying.

This is the most popular and influential sportswriter (or should I say "sports"writer LOL) in America: the guy who writes like a caller to a local sports talk radio show, proposing outlandish trades and excoriating the local team's management for not making them.  HEY THANKS STEVE FIRST TIME LONG TIME. I JUST GOTTA SAY, WHY HAVEN'T THE SOX SWAPPED ELLSBURY AND A PROSPECT FOR MIKE TROUT YET?  DON'T THEY EVEN CARE ABOUT WINNING?

Also, KG and Pierce will be significantly better off on the Tim Duncan Minutes Plan (27-28 a night), and don't sleep on Pierce in a contract year and Eff You Mode. 

Is "Eff You Mode" the stupidest/funniest recurring bit he's ever come up with?  It's got to be high on the list, especially after the number of times during the 2007 NFL season that he used it to describe the (eventual) 18-1 Patriots.  Your suggestions for other great Billisms in the comments, please.

Here's what we know: The Bobcats can build around three polished/competitive/used-to-winning college stars (Kemba Walker, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Cody Zeller, their latest no. 1 pick, which I actually liked),

Pretty much every pundit out there fell somewhere between "I don't hate this selection I guess" and "ugh, that was dumb, Alex Len and Nerlins Noel were still on the board" with regards to Zeller.  Of course Bill liked the pick though, probably for the same reason he chose his winner of that online dunk contest that got publicized on Deadspin last week.

"Ninety-three bottles of beer … on … the … wall."

Look, I may or may not have been wasting inordinate amounts of time this summer on ESPN's Trade Machine making up fake Rondo trades. With Detroit out, one other Rondo suitor makes sense: the Kings. They're rebooting around a new arena, a new owner whom everyone loves (Vivek Ranadiv√©), a rejuvenated Boogie Cousins (at least that's the hope), and the chance to play an entire season without a Maloof involved. What about Rondo, Wallace's $30.3 million basketball cadaver and Jordan Crawford's expiring for Ben McLemore, the John Salmons–Patrick Patterson expirings, Greivis Vasquez, Jimmer Fredette and an unprotected no. 1 pick in 2014? (Thinking.)

How about an expensive guy who depends on his quickness and is coming off ACL surgery, one of the worst contracts in the NBA, and a mediocre asset for a bunch of decent assets?  WHO SAYS NO?

"How much is here?"
"Neighborhood of 300 thousand."
"That's a, a very respectable neighborhood."

And here's a very unrespectable neighborhood: 


Ladies and gents, introducing our eight finalists for Riggin' for Wiggins! My preseason odds for each team.

Lakers (+700): For these odds to drop, we only need a sentence that starts, "Kobe Bryant suffered a major setback today … " Plus, wouldn't it be just like the Lakers to land Wiggins and LeBron in the same summer? I'm moving back to Boston if this happens.

Can you just move to Mongolia right now instead?

Boston (+500): If Rondo returns sooner than later, I'm worried they'll be better than everyone thinks. Especially if Brad Stevens does Brad Stevens things:


Remember, he took Butler to within a fingernail-of-a-half-court-shot 

What is that?

of winning the NCAA title. Name me anyone on that team other than Gordon Hayward. You can't. 

If you mean name someone good enough to play in the NBA, there's Shelvin Mack (who I thought of off the top of my head).  If you mean good enough to play pro basketball, there's Andrew Smith and Matt Howard (neither of whom I could name off the top off my head, although I did think of Howard's face, since he looks so much like Andy Samberg and was really good during those two Butler tournament runs).  OOPS WAIT SORRY FORGOT, I CAN'T.

If Rondo comes back for Opening Night, there's a good chance I'm talking myself into 45 wins.

Please please please please please let the Celtics finish 9th in the East this year.  Do you know how NAWT FAY-UH that would be?

Charlotte (+200): You can never count MJ's boys out of anything that involves the words "incompetence," "bottoming out," "tanking" or "flagrantly failing with the small chance of being rewarded for it." 

I like how contrary that last part (about how there's only a small chance of being rewarded with the number one pick no matter how badly a team fails) runs to almost the entire premise of his recent 8,000 word "How I'd save the Lakers GOOD THING THEIR MANAGEMENT ISN'T READING THIS COLUMN THAT'S THE ONLY REASON I'M OK WITH PUTTING THIS AWESOME RECIPE FOR SUCCESS OUT IN THE OPEN" article.  Part of his plan for the Lakers was "clear cap space for LeBron," but the rest of it was "you gotta suck to get Wiggins!"  Suddenly he is now aware of the fact that expecting to win the draft lottery is a fool's game?

Phoenix (+150): Alex Len coming off a serious stress fracture? Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe butting heads in the same backcourt? The Morris twins? The immortal Michael Beasley? Kendall Marshall's quest to become the worst top-13 pick since Joe Alexander and Jonny Flynn?

Every year the Big East bombs during March Madness, but it becomes easier to see why when you realize how overhyped some of its best players tend to be.

Robert Sarver doing cheap-ass Sarver things? 


Is there a roster you'd want less right now than Phoenix's roster?


"You're OK, Jack. I think under different circumstances, you and I probably still would have hated each other! We probably could have been friends."
"In the next life."
"Yeah, the next life."

My single favorite moment in Midnight Run goes to Pierce, one of the six best Celtics ever and someone who deserved to retire in Boston if that's what he wanted to do. Which, by the way, he wanted to do.

Things never said by an athlete nearing the end of his career who just got traded from the team that drafted him long ago: "So glad I'm out of there!"  I'm sure it has been a lie on at least some occasion or another.

But Boston wanted to buy a Riggin' for Wiggins ticket, so they crippled this year's team by dealing Pierce and KG for three unprotected first-round picks (2014, 2016, 2018), along with the right to swap first-rounders with Brooklyn in 2017. 

As discussed in a previous post, I think it's unlikely these picks amount to much.

If anything happens to Brooklyn during the middle of this decade — a real possibility considering Brook Lopez's injury history, as well as a 32-year-old Deron Williams and a 34-year-old Joe Johnson making $46 million combined during the 2015-16 season — this deal could become the "Gail Goodrich to New Orleans for two future no. 1 picks" trade for this generation. 


There's fanboyism and rose-tinted glasses, and then there's trying to draw a parallel between 1) acquiring a few first round picks from a team with a super rich/competitive owner who has a good roster now and most likely intends to compete every season as long as he owns the team and 2) a decades-old trade that involved the eventual draft rights to Magic Johnson.

Still, watching Pierce (and, to a lesser degree, KG) play for another franchise is going to be brutal. 


And I don't know what the right answer is here. I really don't. The Celtics allowed Bird, McHale and Parish to age gracefully together once upon a time, followed by eight solid years of misery … and I have to say, I'd sign up for that again. I loved those 1991, 1992 and 1993 teams because of the late Reggie Lewis, but also because we kept the Big Three — because we didn't trade them, and only because they were f-ing Celtics and you don't trade your guys like that.

The last part is about as close as you're going to get to the platonic ideal of self-important Boston fan retardery.  The cute insinuation that the fans were in some way responsible for the actions of the front office ("WE didn't trade them"), the idea that players on Boston's teams are inherently superior to other players around the league ("they were FACKIN' CELTICS"), the part that sounds like something a tough-talking drunk guy at the bar (who in fact went to an elite prep school and has never thrown a punch in his life) making up rules for other people to live by ("you don't fackin' trade OW-UH Celtics like dat!").  It's wondrous.

Danny Ainge went the other way, just as he always hinted he would because of his experience watching the Big Three grow old. I get it. I understand it. Down the road, I'm sure I will appreciate it. But right now? It hurts like hell. Paul Pierce was our dude. 


We spent 15 seasons with him in all, and as I wrote after Game 6 of the 2008 Finals, "We watched that guy grow up.

No, you didn't.

We watched him become a man.

That's just off.  That's unsettling.

We believed in him, we gave up on him, and we believed in him again." 

What?  Please, it's fucking sports.  Cut the melodrama.

Some things are bigger than sports.

Yes.  Someone who plays sports getting traded is not one of them.

I think that's why Cuban kept Dirk — because they won together in 2011, and because he couldn't bear the thought of the Best Maverick Ever playing for another team. It might not be the smartest move, but it's certainly more relatable. Human, even.


Watching no. 34 play for the Nets will never feel right, and I will never feel good about it. Alas. See you in the next life, Paul.

What the fuck are you talking about?  Jesus Christ.  What an idiot.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Bill's NBA offseason tardfuckery, part 1

To the commenter from last post asking me if I saw the Deadspin thing with the dunk contest participant responding to Bill, why yes, of course I did.  All that needs to be said is that if anyone is surprised by Bill 1) not knowing the name of a common hairstyle worn predominantly by black people and 2) picking the very unremarkable and only white entrant as the winner of a dunk contest, they shouldn't be.  Anyways, come along with Bill on a memorable revisiting of one of the 250 greatest comedies of the 1980s.  Just wait until you see which Midnight Run lines he associates with which NBA offseason storylines!  You'll find yourself laughing out loud while also (nodding)!

"Marvin! Marvin! Look out!"

One of the movie's best running jokes (Jack Walsh repeatedly tricking a rival bounty hunter into turning around so Jack can sucker punch him) goes to the Thunder, who keep allowing their title chances to get sucker punched because of their irrational love of Kendrick Perkins. 


Have you ever impulsively bought a piece of furniture you didn't really need — like a coffee table or something — 


and within three weeks, you begrudgingly realize that it doesn't fit in with everything else in the house?


And that you blew it? And should stick that dumb purchase in the garage, where it belongs? But you get all stubborn about it, so that coffee table lingers in your house for an extra three years before you finally suck it up and do something about it?

"Hey, do you ever do that thing where you spend a bunch of money on a beautiful but useless thing, but then end up holding onto the thing when you should just chop it up and use it for firewood in your beautiful fireplace in your beautiful Brentwood mansion?  Happens to me all the time."  Christ, what a fucking asshole.

(That's why I still find it bizarre that they didn't shoehorn Perkins's deal into that Harden trade. And, hey, here's an idea if you're worried about money — don't move from the 14th-biggest TV market to the 45th-biggest TV market.)

Look, I hate the Thunder and I'm sure Clay Bennett is a gaping asshole.  But that was kind of the point when he bought the team, no?  It wasn't "I'm buying this NBA team, and also, hey, maybe a move to OKC would be nice," it was "I'm buying this team so I can move them to OKC."  So that last sentence is kind of worthless in the context of this paragraph.  One of these years Bill will stop bringing up the Harden trade/Perkins contract, and the world will be a better place for it.  It's like the interplay between those two decisions and the effect they had on the Thunder is the only mildly nuanced thing he's ever figured out in his entire life, so he has to jam the fact that he knows how it all worked down our throats every fucking column.

(By the way, I don't know why the guy who plays Marvin didn't become, at the very least, the star of a funny sitcom, and I don't know if he's That Guy Who Played Marvin Dorfler or That Guy Who Played Billy Rosewood's Partner.

Earlier in this same column (from my last post), Kid Show Business enlightens us:  Some people never find the right part, and there's more luck involved than you'd think.


"I'm gonna tell ya something. I want this guy taken out, and I want him taken out fast. You and that other dummy better start getting more personally involved in your work, or I'm gonna stab you through the heart with a f----ing pencil."

To Larry Legend again — 

He already spent a whole paragraph (not copied/pasted here) crediting Bird for every win in Pacers franchise history, writing War and Peace and the invention of the airplane.  But sure, how about some more reminders that Bird used to play for Bill's favorite team?

he quickly dumped every recent Indy move he didn't make (D.J. Augustin, Gerald Green, Miles Plumlee), and he didn't even have to stab GM Kevin Pritchard with a f---ing pencil. Much respect to Larry's Pacers 

That's what their uniforms should say next year!

for assembling a legitimate contender despite (a) the crippling aftereffects of the Artest melee, 

Holy Jesus on a pogo stick, are you fucking serious?  THAT HAPPENED ALMOST NINE YEARS AGO.  The day after the suspensions for that incident were handed down, if you told a Pacers fan "Don't worry, you'll have a good team again by 2012 or so, they'd say to you "I sure as fuck hope so."  Crimny, why don't you just credit him for overcoming the difficulties associated with the ABA/NBA merger while you're at it?

(b) everyone in Indiana turning on the team and professional basketball in general, 

Again, this happened in 2005.

(c) being a small-market team that could never pay the tax under any circumstances, 


and (d) never picking higher than 10th. Degree of difficulty there: 9.89 out of 10. Now if he can only convince Paul George to switch to no. 13 so we can call him PG-13. Come on. How hard is this?

We have covered that last part already.  It wasn't funny three months ago, and it's not funny now.

"Can I at least have some French fries?"
"I said no, pecker breath, now shut up."

One of my favorite throwaway exchanges goes to my favorite throwaway revelation of the summer: George telling Slam Magazine about the time Larry Legend showed up for a Pacers practice, "picked a ball up that had rolled over," then "rolled up his sleeves and made about 15 in a row and just walked out like nothing just happened," adding, "We were speechless. We didn't know whether to keep shooting or just to end practice. It was sweet, man." The Legend!

There are people that think Bill Simmons is a great sportswriter.  If you know any of them, push them under the next steamroller you see.


The flimsiest plan in the movie (Jack Walsh somehow talking the FBI into trying that crazy airport plan to catch Serrano, then pulling it off) goes to David Stern's flimsiest plan, which could be summarized like this …

1. Allow the Sonics to move to Oklahoma City (and ruin basketball in Seattle).
2. Don't allow the Kings to move to Seattle (so we don't ruin basketball in Sacramento).
3. Keep Seattle open as an ongoing threat to every other NBA team that doesn't get an arena deal done.

Again, like Clay Bennett is a huge piece of shit, David Stern is also a huge piece of shit.  But let's give him a sliver of a benefit of a doubt and think that, hey, gee, maybe Stern worked overtime to keep the Kings in Sacramento because he learned from his mistake with Seattle.  Maybe he didn't want to be the guy that "killed" basketball in two cities.  It's pretty lame to see a guy not repeat his past actions, actions for which he was excoriated, and then say "You're a flip-flopper!"

In other words, Stern turned Seattle's NBA situation into Los Angeles's NFL situation — a lucrative potential market that helps the league more if nobody ever actually moves there. 

Keep that tinfoil hat fastened securely to your head.

Seattle owner-in-limbo Chris Hansen was willing to badly overpay for the Kings and didn't get them. You would think the league would jump at this and say, "Wow, we gotta get this guy a team! What about Milwaukee or Charlotte?" Nope. And he's not getting an expansion team, because the other 30 teams would never give up an extra fraction of their TV rights — 

If they gave one up for the Bobcats, they're capable of being convinced to give another.

what do they care if Seattle has a basketball team or not? This situation sucks. I hate it. The Seattle SuperSonics should exist.


As for De Niro, his iconic roles will always be Raging Bull, The Godfather: Part II, Taxi Driver, Goodfellas and Heat in some order; Midnight Run slips through the cracks because it's a comedy. Just name me another actor who could have pulled off everything that went into Jack Walsh, a beaten-down, sarcastic, cranky, charismatic, volatile, chain-smoking, has-been Chicago cop who always makes you feel like there's a heart beating behind every F-bomb and every menacing threat. He's a hard guy to like and you end up loving him.

Hollywood Bill strikes again!  Can I think of another actor who could have pulled that off?  Well, I don't know.  I might DIE trying to think of one, that's a pretty HARD question.  Not even BRUCE Banner climbing the WILLIS Tower would have enough strength to think that deeply.

I apologize for using that very trite device to reveal my snarky answer.

Finally, here's his attempt to squash his beef with Doc Rivers.  A beef that can be summed up by Bill saying "I KNOW YOU BETTER THAN YOU KNOW YOURSELF, FAMOUS PERSON" and Doc saying "Whoever Bill Simmons is, someone shut him up before I shut him up myself."

The day after we exchanged barbs during the NBA draft, Doc and I talked for 45 minutes on the phone and agreed to disagree on how the Boston thing ended. He truly believes the Celtics didn't want him to come back or pay him all that money as they were rebuilding. I don't buy it, as I told him — I thought that they didn't want to pay him that money once they believed he didn't want to be there. Also, I told him that I thought he didn't want to rebuild for a third time, and that the thought of coaching a contender and starting fresh in Los Angeles — where he gets to pick his own players, no less — was overwhelmingly enticing for him. He actually agreed with that. He just doesn't think he quit on the Celtics — he thinks the situation ran its course. So it's a he-said, he-said thing. 

No, you fucking dolt--it's a "he lived it, he is only pretending to know anything about it" thing.  What a clueless dickface.  

Monday, August 12, 2013

Back to the salt mines

Wow, I took some time off there.  That's what happens when you're a burnt out sports media blogger--sometimes you just have to disappear for a couple weeks and realize that no one really gives a shit whether you post anything or not.  That's just the impetus you need to get back in the game.  Lots of ground to cover here.

First of all, thanks to dan-bob for posting a couple things while I sat on my couch and watched TV rather my usual practice of sitting on my couch and watching TV while blogging.  That was the first time since November of 2010 that dan-bob posted twice in the same week.  Just goes to show you that he's still got excellent writing, analysis and joke-writing skills, but unlike me, actually has other things going on in his life that usually prevent him from exercising those skills here on a regular basis.  I know nobody cares, but since I'm on the topic of real lives of FireJay bloggers, not all that much has changed for any of us since 2007.  Back then we were recent college grads (except for PNoles, who was still in college) living all over the country who didn't have a whole lot of ideas as to what we really wanted to do with our lives.  Now, we are late 20somethings living all over the country in different places than we were back in 2007, still without a whole lot of ideas as to what we really want to do with our lives (except for PNoles, who is the only one among us who has a job that I'm pretty sure he likes and intends to keep for a long time).  Life is good!


Second of all, Jay Mariotti has launched a new website, or is about to launch it, or something.  Fuck if I care to bother knowing the details.  All you need to know about it can be read here, and also, just know that we won't be expending any effort around here towards getting him "fired."  Such effort would be unnecessary, because that new website of his does not constitute a "hiring" of any kind.  He was fired by all of his employers several years ago, remains fired, and may he fuck off and disappear from the public consciousness as soon as possible.


Third of all, I wanted to clarify some comments I made about the Biogenesis mess and its fallout.  The last thing I can afford to do is alienate any of our seven readers, so let me be very clear.  When I said this in the comments section to one of my short posts a few weeks ago:

But it's also kind of too late to undo A-Rod's career, and the mouth-breathing retards clamoring for JUSTICE AGAINST CHEATERZZZ could probably use a reminder that the guy who's pulling out all the stops to nail Rodriguez, including by jumping right over the top of the JDA and going to the CBA to find the sword he wants to use for a JDA-contemplated problem, is the same guy who has himself done tons of harm to the game in years past.

I did not mean to imply that everyone who wants to see users get in trouble is a mouth-breathing retard.  Not at all.  There is plenty of room for disagreement as to what level of outrage towards steroid users is warranted.  I do not harbor much of it (certainly way way less than the average baseball fan), but I do harbor a little of it, and I do want to see the players who get caught under the program agreed to by the league and the MLBPA get the punishments they have coming to them as laid out in the Joint Drug Agreement.  I just happen to think that many baseball fans (or perhaps I should say, many baseball fans who are vocal on the internet--if you've read anything online about the Biogenesis fallout in the last six months you've heard from them, I'm sure) and most baseball writers have a depressingly shortsighted perspective on the whole issue.  They can't seem to think any deeper than GRRRRR CHEATERZZ IS BAD and they think the solution is Draconian punishments like TAKE AWAY THEY'RE CONTRAX AND GIVE DEM LIFETIME BANZZZ, when even those steps will never come close to eradicating usage.  They also are offended at the fact that Braun escaped punishment in 2011/2012 by using the appeals process granted to him in the JDA, and offended at the fact that Rodriguez is using the appeals process granted to him in the JDA to play right now.  The idea of due process and collectively negotiated rights don't mean anything to these people--they just want heads to roll, and they want those heads to roll now.  That is why they are mouth-breathing retards.

I also happen to think that the 200+ game punishment Selig wants to give A-Rod when the JDA lays out very specific rules as to how steroid-using players should be punished, as well as his reported consideration of punishing A-Rod under the CBA instead of the JDA (to prevent A-Rod from playing while the appeal process happens), are both fucking laughable.  What a piece of shit Selig is.  Where does this guy get off?  Steroid use is a practice that the league not only didn't punish, but condoned and indirectly endorsed when big home run totals and the big revenue they led to were a financial life preserver for the league.  Now that Selig is coming to the end of his time as commish, he's going to get TOUGH ON CRIME because he wants to preserve his legacy.  Where was this response in 1998 and 2001, Bud?  What a fucking piece of shit.  I could riff for paragraphs on this complicated subject, but I'll wrap it up by saying that it's not that people who want to see users get punished are idiots for having that desire--it's that many of them (both professional writers and commenters) seem to 1) not be aware of Selig's full legacy as commish, with regard both to steroid use and other problems, and 2) think that the harshest possible response to a infraction is the right one (always beware of people like this, because they are usually fucking idiots).  So go ahead, be glad that the Biogenesis users got caught.  Just don't be the kind of person who lets the fact that Braun and Rodriguez are unlikeable people color your judgment as to whether those players deserve to use the appeals rights given to them in the JDA, and don't be the kind of person who thinks a lifetime ban is a sensible punishment for something that, well, let's just say A LOT of MLB players engage in, and have engaged in for years, often to the benefit of MLB.  The league should take steps to curb steroid usage but LOCK 'EM UP AND THROW AWAY DA KEYS is not one of them.


Fourth of all, before disappearing into Sitonmyassville a couple weeks ago I promised I would take on Simmons's abominable NBA offseason HEY IT'S JUST LIKE AN 80s MOVIE MOST PEOPLE HAVE SEEN ONE OR ZERO TIMES column.  Good news!  I'm still going to do that, since it's not like he's going to write another article anytime soon.  Bad news!  I'm not really starting tonight.  I mean, I'll give you a quick taste.  But I don't have much time to spare right now after slogging through those incoherent ramblings about steroids.

When Alan Sepinwall tweeted about Midnight Run's 25th anniversary two weekends ago, I did a quadruple take. Twenty-five years? How could that be? Top Gun seems like it came out a million years ago. So does The Breakfast Club, so does Wall Street, Fatal Attraction, The Killing Fields, Coming to America, and every other memorable mainstream '80s movie. 

All of those movies seem like they came out during the 80s, which when Midnight Run came out.  Bill is the guy at the party trying to make his inability to perceive something that pretty much everyone can perceive into an interesting conversation.  "Man, can you BELIEVE that gas is like $4 a gallon now?  I just can't even fathom it!"  Bill Simmons is a fucking moron.

Midnight Run? It's an outlier, a timeless classic, our least-dated '80s movie.

Oh my God.

Watching it all these years later, only a couple things feel rusty: The cars, the lack of cell phones, Robert De Niro's cheesy leather jacket, the relentless cigarette smoking and, most strikingly, the fact that anyone could bring guns on airplanes like they were Altoids. Everything else feels fresh. 

So, excepting all of the styles, trends, societal cultural norms, technology and laws that are different, IT HASN'T AGED A DAY.  Basically, it's 100% fresh in the sense that it's a movie about criminals and cops, some of whom are good guys and some of whom are bad guys, and those kinds of movies still get made in 2013.

It's just as funny as it was 25 years ago, the action moves briskly, and the chemistry between De Niro (as bounty hunter Jack Walsh) and Charles Grodin (as the Duke, an on-the-lam accountant who stole $15 million from a mob boss) remains ridiculously good.

Charlees Grodin!  There's an actor who makes you think "This movie definitely isn't from the 80s--gotta be more recent than that, right?"

When I retweeted Sepinwall and added "Is this Moron Number One? Put Moron Number Two on the phone" (one of Dennis Farina's many classic moments), 

"Classic move by me to pick that quote, don't you think?"

my Twitter replies quickly filled with other Farina one-liners. That made me wonder if I'd found the right medium for my annual "Movie Quotes As Awards" breakdown of the NBA's busiest offseason month. Two days later, Farina passed away at 69. Now it had to happen.

Without that inspiration, who knows what flick Bill might have chosen to fill out his unimaginative and pointless "[sports event] is just like [movie]!" template this time around.

Quickly on Farina: I first remember him during Season 1 of Miami Vice, 


when he played a wisecracking mob boss named Albert Lombard. By the end of his last episode, you liked him, you feared him, you laughed with him and, strangely, you wanted him to stay alive. (Retroactive spoiler alert: He didn't.) NBC jumped on the momentum by giving him the leading role in Crime Story, an innovative cop drama that never made it. Two years later, he stole every one of his scenes in Midnight Run and could have been nominated for an Oscar, but since Academy Awards voters don't respect or appreciate comedies, astonishingly, nobody from Run got nominated for anything.

I have never seen Midnight Run all the way through, but have seen the whole thing in pieces, and I can promise you that while it's an above average movie its lack of Oscar recognition is about as tragic as Zoolander's lack of Oscar recognition.

At that point, you would have bet anything that Farina was going to become a star 

And he did.

— a funnier James Gandolfini, basically — only it never happened. 

If you think Farina's resume is not that of a star, at least on some level (WHAT LEVEL OF STAR WAS FARINA?  IS JOE FLACCO ELITE?????), you know even less about pop culture than I already thought you didn't.  

That's Hollywood for you. Some people never find the right part, and there's more luck involved than you'd think. 


Once upon a time, David Chase agonized about casting Gandolfini or Michael Rispoli as Tony Soprano. Had Rispoli ended up with that role, there's a good chance we're remembering Gandolfini as the unforgettable bad guy in True Romance and that's it. Farina never landed his Sopranos-like break, but Midnight Run's Jimmy Serrano lives on and on. He's one of the best things in one of the most rewatchable, funny movies ever made. This column is dedicated to him.

Please, no one tell Farina's family about this.

Last note: No movie used more F-bombs more effectively than Midnight Run. As much as it kills me, I'm dashing out all those F-bombs for this column, just because of their sheer volume. 

And because I would never directly admit it, but I'm letting ESPN's desire to make Grantland as mainstream as possible subjugate my editorial authority.

And if you don't like it, I have two words for you.


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Let's just pretend nobody has played any baseball for the last twenty years

So I read some more Plaschke just to enjoy the stupid.  This article was written just after the Ryan Braun announcement.  Most of it is gloomy and boring complaining about how clean players are getting lumped in with the dirty and are getting punished like the people in Sodom who weren't... being bad. If only human beings had figured out a way to set up a perfect system of justice by now!  It's only been thousands of years!
The whole article isn't worth discussing, but the last two paragraphs have a noteworthy amount of stupid:

Kemp did have the right idea Tuesday when he said that he thought Braun's MVP award should be stripped. If the Heisman folks can take away Reggie Bush's trophy for a rules infraction that did not involve his performance, why can't baseball do the same for a player whose infraction was only about his performance?
Because baseball players have the most powerful union in sports and the owners can't just do whatever the heck they want to.  Also, the commissioner doesn't even award the trophy: the BBWAA does.  Good lord, you'd think that Bill would know that, given that he's a MEMBER (albeit non-voting, per Wikipedia).  
On the other hand, college athletes are not unionized and generally have the least amount of power of any athlete around.  In the case of college football the relative power of the players in their economic and legal world is tiny. I think that coaches, ADs and university administrators are actually allowed to poop on those athletes and they are required to enjoy it.
How can the nation's second-largest metropolitan paper employ a senior sportswriter who doesn't seem to realize this?
Heck, strip all the awards of all the juicers. Just don't give another one to anyone, lest you have to eventually strip it again. 
What a good plan.  Let's just pretend no baseball was even played after 1995.  La la la la it's all to hard to think about it so let's just call it all off.
You know, it's not pleasant, but the only way through this steroid foolishness is to investigate the investigable, punish the provable, and use our common-sense judgment for the rest. It's not as easy as it would be if we simply ignored it, or if we went on a mad witch-hunt against it... but it's really the only way forward.  Now that the baseball players' union is coming around to stricter punishments, we may indeed be seeing the light at the end of the tunnel of PED stuff.  If the players themselves are on board with a cleaner game, change will happen.
No offense to my editors, but they should have structured the top of that chart to resemble a baseball clubhouse's credibility when it comes to drug cheats. They should have left it empty.
Bill is referencing a chart his editors made, which replaced award winners of known or strongly suspected cheaters with the 2nd place finishers.  We've heard it all before.  I like how he asks his editors for pardon for his bold suggestion.  Pretty lofty of Bill to be polite when he suggests something stupid.  
The worst part about these suggestions is that the writers implicitly don't think the fans are smart enough to consider the context of any numbers.  I'm kind of insulted.  Decent baseball fans have always been able to have sensible discussions about fluctuations in baseball statistics - any fan can look at the years 1930 and 1968 and evaluate a hitter's performance within the diametrically opposed offensive environments. Bill doesn't seem to think so. But trusting in the general wisdom of the public to judge wisely in the long run doesn't make for hits on his columns today.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Good Old Bill Plaschke

So I wanted to find something stupid.  I don't know if I am just off my game, but it's harder to find outright stupid on these days, so I decided to read some of Bill Plaschke's latest screed. Here's a recent puff piece about a grindy old  white middle infielder!  I'll bet you didn't realize the greatness of a truly unsung Dodger hero: Mark Ellis.

As the sports world is learning with every jaw-dropping win, these suddenly delightful Dodgers are a team of many faces.
As opposed to the crosstown Angels, who are a team of ONE FACE.  And it's the face of Ernesto Frieri.
They include Yasiel Puig's giant look of wonder, Juan Uribe's impish grin, A.J. Ellis' grimace,Clayton Kershaw's scowl, and occasionally even Don Mattingly's smile.
That is a lot of faces.  The Dodgers sound like a bunch of manic depressives.  And if there's any word that describes Juan Uribe, a 33 year old man, it's impish.
Then there is The Stare. It's solid, expressionless, powerful in its confident calm, a constant in the Dodgers' dizzying array of emotion.
"Solid, expressionless, powerful in its confident calm". Woah!  That's a lot of adjectives. "Dizzying array".  I'm getting vertigo just reading this stuff. It sure sounds like these Dodgers need Mark Ellis to calm things down. He's the Zoloft of baseball players.
Dodgers fans know The Stare. They see it on Ellis from the moment he steps on to the field, as endemic to his appearance as the blue lettering across his chest.
Uniforms are endemic to players... until they take them off at the end of the game.  Unless maybe Mark Ellis has a Dodgers tattoo on his chest. It's all part of his confident calm.
 He stares at the hitter from the field, the pitcher from the plate, the game from the dugout, the giant season from his small spot.
Bill, thanks for illustrating for us readers.  It makes the baseball game come alive in our minds.  We can imagine where Mark Ellis stands!   Except for that last one: where exactly is this "small spot" that Mark Ellis is staring at the giant season?

Is Mark Ellis's spot any smaller than other players' spots?
It's also apparently really cute when Mark Ellis' 6-year-old son, Briggs, imitates it while playing tee ball in the middle of his living room.
"Yeah, he taps the bat on the ground and then goes into that look,'' said Ellis with a laugh. "I'm thinking, you know, he's really got it down."
"Oh, c'mon, sometimes I laugh at Puig and Uribe; the cameras just don't catch that,'' he said.
Guess not.

Even Mark seems to understand basic sampling.  If only Bill would learn that lesson.  
You could see The Stare in high definition Wednesday night in Toronto when Ellis calmly strolled to the plate in the 10th inning with no hits in his previous four at-bats to face a pitcher he had never seen.
Stare. Strike one. Stare. Strike two. Stare. Boom.

Bill is varying his sentence length, folks. That's a tip for you young writers out there!  The short sentences really heighten the drama.
Ellis launched a rocket off Juan Perez into the Rogers Centre second deck for a two-run, tiebreaking home run, then quickly rounded the bases as if hurrying back to work after a long lunch break. His teammates surrounded him in giddiness, but The Stare remained for another half-inning until the Dodgers had finished off an improbable 8-3 victory.
An excellent story. Except that Mark Ellis would never take a long lunch break, since he is busy working and staring and grinding.
"We still had work to do," Ellis said. "I have always been taught, this is only three hours of your life, and if you can't give it your full concentration for three hours, then maybe you should do something else."

I like the "maybe" in here, as though Ellis didn't want to offend anyone, like the guy with the fifth-most home runs in major league history, who doesn't have to give his full concentration even in the ninth inning of playoff games when there are bikini models in the stands.  He probably doesn't want to earn that guy's enmity.  Maybe he should do something else.  Actually, maybe he will!
Ellis, who is the oldest member of the regular lineup at age 36, did not start in Thursday's homecoming loss to the Cincinnati Reds at Dodger Stadium because he was batting a career .091 against Reds starter Mat Latos.
Too bad, because the Dodgers are 37-23 when he starts, and that doesn't begin to measure his solid-as-South-Dakota impact on this year's team.
Oh man.  I don't even know where to start here.  Rather than recognizing that Ellis's .091 average is only 11 ABs, he mentions that the Dodgers have won a lot of games when he started.  It's the worst stat ever, and even major news outlets occasionally misuse it to a staggering extent.  
Also, what makes South Dakota more solid than any other state?  Mount Rushmore or something?  Is Mount Rushmore solider than the other mountains?  I bet Alaska is pretty darn solid.  Is he just looking for alliteration?  I guess South Dakota is a lot more solid than South Carolina.  Or the Susquehanna river.  Or San Francisco. 
Oh yeah, he learned The Stare while growing up in Rapid City, S.D., a place where the good people wear their stoicism like overcoats, a place where he didn't play high school baseball because it was too cold for a high school baseball season.
Oh, ok.  Mark Ellis is from South Dakota, where people are more morally solid than in South Carolina.  Well, I guess South Dakota's only institutional racism was against Native Americans, so that's half as many institutional racisms as South Carolina. And in South Carolina people can't wear their stoicism like overcoats, because they don't even need overcoats.
"That's the way we are up there, we never get too high or low,'' Ellis said. "Like those NFL players and those touchdown dances? We're not too high on that.''
Good old fashioned grinders. 
It is this attitude that helped Ellis endure an injury last season that nearly cost him his leg after he was hit by the St. Louis Cardinals' Tyler Greene while attempting to turn a double play. It is also an attitude that has helped him thrive this year in connecting when it counts.
Two bold stats: With a runner on third and fewer than two out, he is hitting .727 with 19 RBIs in 17 plate appearance. In tie games, he is .329 with three of his five home runs.
Last year, in 14 PA with a runner on 3rd and less than 2 outs, Mark Ellis scored a measly 36% of the runners.  His career number is 50%.  Sure makes his 2013 numbers seem like random variation rather than the results of The Stare.  Ostensibly, Mark Ellis has had The Stare since his boyhood in solid-old-South Dakota.  Maybe it only really takes effect and makes him clutch when  he is surrounded by a hysterical bunch of manic depressives.
"This game takes all kinds, and Mark is one of those kinds," said Mattingly, the Dodgers' manager. "He's solid … bread and butter … nothing flashy, just gets it done."
While the hitting stars such as Puig and Hanley Ramirez get the headlines, it is the guys paddling furiously below who have fueled this Dodgers uprising, guys such as the Ellis duo, Skip Schumaker,Nick Punto and Jerry Hairston Jr.
Mark Ellis WAR: 1.9, AJ Ellis  WAR: 2.2, Skip Schumaker WAR: -0.4, Nick Punto WAR: 0.8, Jerry Hairston Jr. WAR 0.0.  I bet the "Ellis duo" feels like the just citizens of Sodom and Gomorrah who got lumped in with all the assholes and everyone went down together in a flaming destruction. 
OK, that analogy doesn't make a lot of sense.
The Stare symbolizes those guys. The Stare is what makes you think this hot streak can endure.
The Stare.  The Stare.  The Stare.  The Stare.  That's what makes you think the Dodgers will keep winning, not Clayton Kershaw's 1.87 ERA or Hanley Ramirez and Yasiel Puig OPSing over 1 in over 200 PA.
Ellis eventually played Thursday, batting in the ninth inning, knocking a pinch single into right field against a zillion-mile-a-hour fastball from Aroldis Chapman. He was stranded on third base as the game ended, but at least he was there. He's pretty much always there.
Mark Ellis: always there.
"This is what we do, this is our job," Ellis said. "You just get it done."
That was a very meaningful insight, Mark Ellis.
Three hours, and one stare, at a time.
Two examples of Mark Ellis's late-game hits and a couple of misplaced stats and a facial expression.  BOOM.  Plaschke gold.