Saturday, September 28, 2013

This Blog Was Founded on Statistical Ignorance, Dammit!

The label "statistical ignorance" is the ninth-most-used label on this blog, but only two of its 46 uses are after 2009.  I long for the good old days when our posts were often smarmily pointing out numerical fallacies in baseball analysis and not just Larry B bitching about pop sportswriters who write about movies and shit. But now that I'm out of the regular job world and into the grad student life, maybe I will find some time to bring "statistical ignorance" back.  Or maybe I'll just sit back and watch Larry wage his war against The Sports Guy.  

Anyways, I somehow ended up on this article: "5 Reasons Steroids Were Never the Real Problem in Baseball", by someone named Adam Tod Brown, and read it.  The whole article isn't really very interesting; it takes some sensible and some foolish angles on steroids, but overall it's nothing new.  But there was one spectacular goof, which I had to post about:

#3. Pitcher Is the Position With the Most Performance-Enhancing-Drug Suspensions

It's also important to note that of the 43 players suspended for using performance-enhancing drugs since 2005, 15 of them were pitchers. The next closest position was outfielder with 13, but that blanket term actually covers three positions on the field (left, right, and center fielder), so even then it's not really as close as it seems.

Oh!  Thanks for pointing out that outfield is a blanket term that actually covers three positions on the field!  It's a good thing you cleared that up, Mr. Brown.  But now that you mention it, gosh, maybe pitcher is the position with the most performance-enhancing drug suspension because pitcher is the position with the most players.  

In fact, the 35% pitcher ratio of pitchers suspendees to overall suspendees is actually lower than one might expect.  I'm too lazy to figure out exactly what percentage of MLB players are pitchers, but if you figure most teams carry 11 or so pitchers out of 25 roster slots, you'd expect a roughly 44% ratio.  Now this is hardly a large sample, and who knows how many cheaters evaded the testing... but this is the kind of article that suggests Adam Tod Brown needs to be beaten with a sock full of quarters.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Sanctimonious idiot Jeff Pearlman misses the point, spends 1500 words telling you that you missed the point

Are you up to speed on the whole Thayer Evans/Oklahoma State story thing?  Hopefully, because I don't really want to take the time to explain it.  (Have you already forgotten about it, because this post is about 10 days late?  Probably.)  The basics, in case you need them, are that Thayer Evans is a guy who is good at picking up on stories that people find interesting, but really shitty at adhering to basic standards of journalistic integrity as he crafts his reporting.  He's irresponsible and sensationalist.  He doesn't really do things like "verify his sources" or in some cases "have credible sources in the first place."  And please believe, I don't give a steaming pile of fuck about Oklahoma State, Auburn, LSU, the Honey Badger or Cam Newton.  But this is an indisputable fact at this point: Thayer Evans is a shitty journalist.  That should be the main takeaway from his Oklahoma State expose, because the fact that a major college football program doesn't follow NCAA rules and gives its players lots of benefits they shouldn't get is not news and thus not eligible to be a takeaway.


I don’t know Thayer Evans. We’ve never met, never spoken. In fact, before a couple of days ago I’m not sure I’d ever heard of the man. Is he a good reporter? 

Not at all.  That's well known at this point.

A shady reporter? 


Does he love Oklahoma and hate Oklahoma State? 

According to Jason Whitlock, yes, although that doesn't make his shitty reporting any more or less shitty.

Could he care less? I just don’t know—and, I’m quite certain, most other don’t know, either.

Everyone knows.  Use the Google machine.  Type in "Thayer Evans journalism ethics."  There's lots of smoke and plenty of fire.  Thayer Evans is an unethical journalist.

Here’s what I do know: Much of the criticism of his reporting methodology has been—on the surface—bunk. There’s this idea out there that, in order to properly and rightly report a story, one needs to interview a select group of people—generally the stars and head coach. If you don’t speak with them, the logic goes, you’re interviewing the wrong folk.

This is crap.

The criticism of Evans has little to nothing to do with his interviewee selections.  It has a lot more to do with his doing things like secretly recording conversations with interviewees who did not know they were going to become interviewees, not doing basic fact checking with regard to facts that could have easily been checked, and embellishing facts to spice up a story.  Jeff Pearlman is a dope, and in his quest to be OUTRAGED at another ho-hum NCAA scandal, is going to try to defend Thayer Evans.

Without fail, stars and head coaches are almost always the worst interviews/sources. Why? Multiple reasons: A. They’re the ones who benefited most from the team/program. The head coach of Oklahoma State was paid big money to guide a high-exposure program. He had endorsement deals, contractual perks, etc … etc. Unless he was ultimately screwed, there is, literally, zero reason for him to speak. Stars can be grouped in the same category. You’re Brandon Weeden. You were the starting quarterback at Oklahoma State; that ultimately led you to the NFL. What, exactly, are you going to complain about? Who are you going to rat out?

The job of a reporter (and it ain’t easy) is figuring out whose information is correct, and whose is not. 

See the fact checking link up there.  Apparently Evans isn't so good at "the job of a reporter."

It’s about feeling comfortable with sources; about having other people vouch for a source’s words and/or character. Ultimately, it’s a judgement call. 

That Thayer Evans has repeatedly demonstrated he sucks at making.

The thing that puzzles me—that has always puzzled me—is the brainless craziness that is college football. 

Crank up the Pearlman-o-matic 5000!  Here comes the sanctimony.

Whether Thayer Evans’ reporting was flawed 

It was.

or perfect, 

Not close.

clearly Oklahoma State did some very bad things. 


This is obvious, and a fact no one seems to be denying. And yet … why don’t school loyalists care? We’re talking about 19-, 20-, 21-, 22-year-old (so-called) student-athletes 


once again being treated as pieces of meat. They’re models for uniforms, dollar signs for endorsement deals, images to place on the cover of university literature … and, rarely, actually people.

Yes.  All correct.  But we don't need shady fucktards like Thayer Evans to show us these things.  1) We already know them 2) presenting them in the context of a JUICY SCANDAL does nothing but titillate for the sake of titillating, rather than actually generating interesting analysis (something much of the reporting on the Ed O'Bannon case has done).  It is no longer news that players took money or had access to sex and drugs.  Sorry.  And if you want to report on those topics without following the basic standards of ethical journalism, then fuck you and fuck the people that defend you because they think you've uncovered the next Watergate.

I hear college football die-hards speak of their teams as “we”—we need to run the ball better; we need to come out strong against Oregon. This, of course, is ludicrous. These are often kids with flimsy academic credentials, being asked to carry a full course load while also practicing X hours per day, flying X miles across the country, missing X class and X class and X class. 

Oh my God, what are we talking about?  Jeff, you are the worst ranter ever.  At the very very least, even if you're going to be the dope that we know you are, try to stay on topic.

They would struggle to maintain a 2.0 average if they were solely enrolled in school (minus sports)—

That's completely untrue, fucking insulting to thousands of kids, and possibly racist.

and yet, we pretend all is OK and groovy and grand. We dress them up in our school colors, roll out the balls and cheer away. Then, seven or eight years later, when we see X player living in his mother’s house, barely able to read, 44 credits shy of a college diploma, we shrug. Shit happens.

If you love Oklahoma State, shouldn’t you be furious? Not at the reporter or the magazine, but the school and the athletic department and the football program? 

Yes.  But you already knew about all those problems before private eye Thayer Evans arrived on the scene to build his own personal brand with a poorly-vetted story full of uninteresting crap.  You can hate the NCAA and the way it treats athletes, and you can also hate Thayer Evans.  They're not mutually exclusive possibilities.

Shouldn’t you be demanding a clean system; a desire for all-around excellence; a chance for your guys to wind up as successes in business, not just a meaningless game against Baylor? Shouldn’t you demand to hear the truth from your university? Aren’t there better questions to ask than, “Why does Thayer Evans hate us so much?”

I have no sympathy for OSU alums who feel victimized by Evans because he's apparently an OU fan.  Fuck both of those schools and fuck that whole state.  But more importantly, fuck Jeff Pearlman for taking this angle on the story.  As a, you know, journalist, you'd think he'd understand why it's important that journalists adhere to ethical standards of their profession.  Instead he's busy making sure we understand that college football is broken.  Thanks Jeff.  We got it.

I’m a Jason Whitlock fan. I truly am. I thought his commentary on the Don Imus-Rutgers stuff was outstanding. His gun stuff was equally top shelf. He’s written some wonderful stuff through the years; some columns that I’ve read more than once.

That said, this has not been a good week for the man.

Whitlock is an asshole.  Still, this was pretty awesome.

Whitlock clearly sees himself as some sort of media sheriff; a guy charged with keeping the rest of us in line. 

The lack of self-awareness is staggering.

He likes calling out individual writers, pointing out their flaws, explaining (in not these exact words) why they suck and he’s awesome.

Pot kettle etc.  And yes, of course, I realize that the pot/kettle thing goes one step further, to me and this blog.  Except that I don't think I'm awesome.  I just think that everyone sucks.

In regard to Thayer Evans, Whitlock told an Oklahoma radio station, “Having worked with Thayer Evans at Fox Sports …”

OK, to start here. I’m pretty sure Whitlock did not work with Evans. Back in the day, when people shared offices, they worked together. I’m in this cubicle, you’re in that cubicle—we work together. Whitlock never shared an office with Evans, never spent great time (if any time) with Evans. Literally, they were located in two different cities. 

And we know that they never collaborated on a project, or shared notes, or discussed their trade?  I don't want to make a big deal out of this small point, but again, in his effort to make sure we understand that the REAL STORY HERE is that some NCAA athletes don't graduate, Jeff is bending over backwards to defend Thayer Evans.  It's pathetic.

By Whitlock’s definition, I worked at Sports Illustrated with Gary Smith. Sure, he was in North Carolina and I was in New York. And sure, we literally were never in the same room at the same moment. But we worked together because our paychecks were signed by the same person. No.

I like that this is his first criticism of Whitlock's piece.  "Let's start with the important stuff--sure, Whitlock and Evans worked for the same company, but did they truly work 'together?'  OPEN YOUR EYES SHEEPLE, THEY TOTALLY DIDN'T"

Furthermore, Whitlock talks about Evans’ loyalties, calling him a “huge, enormous, gigantic Oklahoma homer.

Here's the best part.

However, Whitlock’s past desperation to work for Sports Illustrated was no great secret. His dream of being handed the back-page column. He, of course, was never offered a job by the magazine—and was, we can assume, angry about it. Does this not (by Whitlock-think) make him the wrong guy to go off on the magazine? Is he not as biased as Evans is presumed to be?


That's the greatest thing Pearlman has ever written, and we've definitely gone after him on this blog plenty of times over the years.  It's fucking priceless.  That might be the worst attempt at flipping the script on someone I've ever seen.

After slaying Evans, Whitlock noted, “I think the story is a cliché and bogus and suspect and just the wrong angle.”

You know what's fucking fantastic?  You want the full context of that comment?  To explain what Whitlock thinks is the right angle?  Here you go:

I have the obvious take (on the series) that I’m tired of these stories. We’ve been reading these stories for 30 years and I’m tired of people pointing out how corrupt participants are in a system that has been proven to be corrupt. The NCAA amateur system is corrupt, so we should not be surprised that there is corruption among the participants. I would like to see more of the focus on the NCAA and the system and fixing that, and then I’ll get upset about the corruption. I think the story is a cliché and bogus and suspect and just the wrong angle.

JEFF.  EARTH TO JEFF.  JEFF, GET YOUR HEAD OUT OF YOUR ASS IMMEDIATELY.  Whitlock has the EXACT SAME PERSPECTIVE on this issue as you do.  It's just that he, while acknowledging how fucking up NCAA football is, ALSO wants someone like Evans to not be a huge shithead.  See how he can have it both ways?  You could too, if you weren't such a sanctimonious dope.  That's the world Jeff Pearlman lives in: if an unethical "journalist" writes an unethical piece, but the tone of the piece is something Pearlman agrees with, it's asking too much of him to get him to acknowledge the shittiness of the journalism.

He also admitted, and I’ll place this in capital letters, that HE NEVER READ THE ARTICLE. Never. Not once. Not a word. DID. NOT. READ. IT. Even if you think the writer is a fraud, how in God’s name can you rip a piece you never read … then have other credible news sources give those words weight.

Whitlock should have read the article(s), but it doesn't change the fact that it is well established that Thayer Evans is a piece of shit.

Again, I think Whitlock is a good writer, and I have no personal beef. But he pulled this same crap when I appeared on his podcast several years ago to promote Sweetness. Whitlock welcomed me on, wanted to talk Walter Payton … but admitted never having read the book, because he doesn’t read sports books.

Uh …

OK, again, that's Whitlock being an asshole, but leave it to Jeff to complain about the nice (if awkwardly lacking in execution) thing that someone else did to him to help him sell his book.

My favorite piece of the Whitlock diatribe comes here: “There are a brand of sports writers who love doing these investigative pieces. They are not hard to do these days in terms of so-and-so got this money under the table. We’re into this area where unnamed sources can say anything, any of these he-said, she-said stories. I don’t respect the entire brand of investigative journalism that is being done here.”

All of that seems very fair to me, if heavy-handed.  It's not that this brand of journalism deserves no respect; it's that it's been done before, many times, and people like Evans use it to make a name for themselves because it's scandalous.  And that's pretty dumb.

Jason Whitlock has the absolute easiest job in sports media—and he knows it. He opines. That’s it. He doesn’t report. He doesn’t dig. He doesn’t make calls or seek out information. He takes the reporting done by others, sits in front of his laptop and comes up with a take. That’s it. He’s a good writer. Is he one of the, oh, 200 most-talented sportswriters in America? Probably not. 

I don't like Whitlock, but actually, I'm pretty certain he cracks the top 200 in the country.

(For the record, I’m by no means placing myself on that list either) 

Geez, I certainly hope not.  (Just kidding, Jeff!  You might be in the top 200 too.  No sarcasm.  But fuck you both anyways.)

But—and this is the big part—he’s loud. And obnoxious. He presents himself as a tough guy unafraid to take a tough stand, and people buy it. They absorb his self-righteous diatribes, because—on the surface—it seems to be driven by a desire to seek out truth and justice.

If any of you have every spent any time on, you know the one thing you will definitely find there is a collection of self-righteous diatribes.

But, with men and women like Whitlock, truth and justice are often smokescreens for the parallel drugs plaguing the American media: Attention and fame. 

If you cannot see that those things are exactly what Thayer Evans is trying to obtain, you're fucking blind.

Whitlock seems all about attention and fame. Or, put differently,what sort of person states his own case for the Pulitzer Prize? What size ego must a man have to A. Think to himself, “I deserve the Pulitzer” and B. Write about it? I mean, between all the craziness of life and the highs and the lows and the ups and the downs, who even has time to ponder such a thing?

Whitlock is an asshole.  Pearlman is a dope.

For all I know, the Oklahoma State report is filled with holes,

It is.

and Sports Illustrated will have to apologize 

Oddly, they did not, although they should have.

and Thayer Evans will soon be selling insurance door to door in Ada. 

We can only hope!

I just don’t know.

As a journalist, however, I am deeply troubled by the blame-the-messenger mentality that has zoomed to the forefront.

As a journalist, what you should be troubled by is the state of journalism thanks to writers like Evans.  1% of the country is "blaming the messenger" in the sense that Jeff means it.  They are mouth-breathing OSU fans, and they want to discredit everything Evans wrote simply because they love their school.  The other 99% is blaming the messenger in the exact way everyone should be: by pointing out that Thayer Evans is a tabloid journalist who should be legally barred from ever going near a computer.

There is more here than just a reporter with a vendetta, and or a reporter who can’t report, or a magazine story.

It’s time we all try and see it.

Which is pretty much what Whitlock said, except with a lot more idiocy mixed in.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

FMTMQR: The more things change...

Actually nothing changes, ever, because this guy is a repetitive, unoriginal, faux-intellectual piece of garbage.  How many times can you keep reading my same old comments on his same old terrible writing/analysis?  I know I always say I'm going to stop doing these, but this year I really might have to.  Let me know in the comments if you really think this is worth my time or yours.  (Not trying to beg for affirmation, but really, kind of begging for affirmation.)

TMQ is reporting on an exclusive basis that during the first half of the Washington-Philadelphia game on "Monday Night Football," Chip Kelly shouted into the Eagles' helmet radio, "Mr. Sulu, engage warp six!"


In other football news, Peter King of Sports Illustrated and NBC Sports 

Another man who knows a little something about long-winded uninsightful writing!

has decided he will stop using the franchise name "Redskins," shifting instead to "the Washington team." TMQ has been on this bandwagon for a decade, and it's nice to have company on a bandwagon. (Some sousaphones would be nice, too.) 

Find a more perfect example of a terrible TMQ joke.  I dare you.

King's decision shows he listens to his conscience. The world would be a better place if more people with insider status listened to the voices of their consciences.

In the context of this particular issue, the problem isn't powerful people not listening to their consciences.  It's powerful people who really don't give a shit about racial slurs.  Their consciences aren't coming into play.  

/stops writing post and watches Eminem's "Guilty Conscience" music video because that last line reminded me of it

Two weeks ago, this column called the moniker "Doomed, doomed. No chance this team name survives." 

As long as Dan Snyder is alive, the nickname will be just fine.  He's 48.  He's just as horrible as Al Davis, who died at 82.  I'm tempted to post a link to that horrible picture of Davis bleeding at that press conference a year or so before he died, but I won't, because maybe some of you have eaten recently.  So anyways, we can expect the nickname to maybe change in 2049, depending on who Snyder gives the team to in his will.

Tick…tick…tick. That's the clocking ticking down on what this column will call the Potomac Drainage Basin Indigenous Persons until its new name is trademarked.


Just remember this column's motto: All Predictions Wrong or Your Money Back. TMQ is free, so if any of my predictions actually proved correct, you would receive -- oh, never mind.


The asteroid capture plan would require a new heavy-lift rocket unimaginatively called the Space Launch System, with roughly the power of the old Saturn V. Dull names are a symptom of the lack of vision at today's NASA. 

That is the whitest sentence ever written.

The space station is just the International Space Station: it might as well be called the Please See Disclaimer Space Station. SLS is the dumbest rocket name ever. How about calling it Artemis? She was the sister of Apollo.

1) Who gives a flying rat's fuck
2) No, this is Artemis:

This problem stretches broadly across the football factory landscape: Boosters and the sports press fixate on game performance, avoiding the issue of the education that big universities are supposed to be providing to football players to justify their indentured status. Monday's noon "SportsCenter" led with 12 minutes -- a long time in live broadcast terms -- on Texas allowing 550 rushing yards in a loss at BYU. This was spoken of as some kind of calamity. The calamity in the Longhorn football program is that in the most recent year, 46 percent of African-Americans graduated. That was not mentioned.

There's no sportswriter out there who is better at being on the right side of an argument conceptually, and still managing to make you want to punch him in the face for the way he expresses his thoughts.

Buck-Buck-Brawkkkkkk: The Bills entered their opener on an incredibly lame 3-25 streak versus New England. Trailing the Patriots 10-0, home crowd roaring, Buffalo reached fourth-and-2 on the Flying Elvii 44 -- and punted. You don't need to know anything else about the game.

Fuck you.  Fuck you twice.  Fuck you with a Space Launch System rocket.  Fuck you, you fucking ass fucking hole.  I do not have time to do it this week, but sometime in the coming month, I am going to go through the game logs of the previous weekend's games, and find every team that punted in opposing territory on 4th and short and won the game.  And then I'm going to post them here, and I'm going to email them to Greggggggggggggg, with the subject line "Some thoughts about scientific inaccuracies in Back to the Future."

The Big-Bad Character in "Under the Dome" Was Bald -- Coincidence? The hit summer series "Under the Dome"


In "The Simpsons Movie," the solution to a town under glass was Homer Simpson. If Homer appears to save the day in "Under the Dome," perhaps he will explain how a river flows through Chester's Mill. The impenetrable dome is said to cut off the outside world and extend to bedrock, rendering it impossible to tunnel in or out. So where is the river water coming from, and where is it flowing to? Clouds float by. Breezes gently waft through the trees of Chester's Mill and cause 

He's still doing this.

Because the night was unusually hot for Denver, kickoff temperature was 70 degrees higher than when Baltimore visited in the playoffs. Not counting kicking-play specialists, the Ravens started five gentlemen from below the testosterone-pumped level of Division I; Sunday, Dallas would also start five from below the football-factory level.

Could be an editor's mistake, but is there supposed to be a line break there?  I, like you, find it CAPTIVATING that it is hot in the summer and cold in the winter in Denver.  But what does it have to do with SMALL SCHOOL NON-GLOREE BOYS?

Denver used aggressive defensive tactics, keeping six or seven men on the line of scrimmage, big-blitzing on third-and-long. 

How did they not lose by 60 points?  

By the second half, the Broncos' front was noticeably outperforming Ravens offensive linemen. Bear in mind -- big-blitzing usually works early in the season and fails late.

No support for this.  No citation, no evidence.  Just a throwaway assertion to support his long-held and utterly retarded thesis.

The Football Gods Chortled: 

Oh indeed they did wax wroth so forth, verily!

Jacksonville lost 28-2 at home to Kansas City, which was last season's worst club. 

Actually, they were both last season's worst club.

Remember, Jacksonville is the team that's too good for Tim Tebow.

Remember, every team in the NFL, and most in the CFL, is too good for Tim Tebow.  But of course TMQ is carrying water for Tebow; that's a contrarian thing to do right now, and implying that Tebow could actually be a successful NFL QB over the course of a full season, and without the benefit of a very good defense, a great kicker and several miraculous breaks is a Smartest Guy In The Room thing to say.  Next on Gregg's list of things to be snarky about: MOST OF YOU PROLES HAVE NO IDEA THAT REX RYAN IS ACTUALLY A GREAT COACH.

Located in Cambridge, Mass. the Massachusetts Institute of Technology offers intramural air pistol. Located in Claremont, Calif., Pomona College and its next-door neighbor Pitzer College field combined teams known as the Sagehens; here is their angry-grouse logo. That the University of South Carolina's sports nickname is the Gamecocks has long led to snickering about the women's teams, though Gamecock in this usage refers to Revolutionary War hero Thomas Sumter. A sage hen can be of either sex, but just as the South Carolina nickname makes the women's teams sound male, the Pomona-Pitzer nickname makes the men's teams sound female. This alone may be enough material for a college gender-studies course.


Monday, September 9, 2013

Bill's mailbag of horseshit is horsier and shittier than ever, part 3

Woof.  Not sure I'm going to be able to finish this.  It's at least one post after this one, and in the meantime he has put out a hilarious NFL season preview in which the Patriots are the second best team in the NFL.  Gotta get to that eventually.  Anyways, I'll try to breeze through this.  Some of it is bad enough to be presented without comment.  Like this:

Q: Are you aware that the President of the American Leprosy Missions is named Bill Simmons?
—Warren K, Adelaide, AUS

SG: Did you know that my middle name begins with a "J," and that the second Ku Klux Klan was formed in 1915 by the Reverend William J. Simmons? 

Yep, so that's that.  Go to Grantland if you don't believe me.  Actually, unless you feel very very compelled to do so, don't go to Grantland.  It sucks.

Q: How is it possible that Grantland's Best Song of the Millennium Bracket did not include "Seven Nation Army"? As the commander-in-chief of Grantland, I am appalled that you allowed this travesty to transpire. It is probably the most distinctive guitar intro of the last decade plus, and the song was definitely played enough to warrant a spot on the list. Use your powers and fix this immediately.
—Andrew, Thousand Oaks


SG: Heat fans ruined that song. 

Everyone ruined that song, including Andrew from Thousand Oaks.

Q: In light of the ongoing debate over the name of the Washington Redskins, don't you think it's time Boston changed the name of Yawkey Way, given that Tom Yawkey was an open racist who refused the integration of baseball?
—Kieran, Portsmouth

Let's watch Bill tapdance around this one.  And by tapdance, I don't mean give the very obvious answer: "Redskin is a slur and Yawkey is not, so there's that.  On the other hand, Yawkey was a huge bag of shit.  It's unlikely either name will change, although there are great arguments that both should, but mostly let's just agree that racism sucks and both Washington's NFL team (ACTUALLY THEIR STADIUM IS IN MARYLAND LOL, signed TMQ) and Boston could use a lot less of it." No, by tapdance, I mean, talk about what a great guy Yawkey was and try to come up with reasons why honoring racists is a good thing.

SG: Given that Yawkey Way is the road you walk down as you're about to stroll into Fenway Park, yeah, I'd say that's a little awkward. Especially if you were a black Red Sox fan thinking to yourself, Wow, if it were 1949 and I was good at baseball, the guy they named this street after wouldn't have let me play on his team. Hold on, lemme work up a good loogie to spit.

But Yawkey owned the Red Sox for 44 years (longest baseball reign ever at the time), 


helped turn the Jimmy Fund into one of America's best cancer charities 

Relevant, but only to the extent Yawkey was actually responsible for this, and who knows what that extent is.  Also, when I say relevant, I don't mean "Maybe Yawkey was a good guy after all," I just mean "Maybe Yawkey wasn't 100% a piece of shit."

and even got elected to Baseball's Hall of Fame. 


His shadow hangs over the 20th century for Red Sox fans, for better and worse. 

Mostly for worse.  And he didn't even give Red Sox fans trying to defend him today the cold comfort of some on-field success.

Dave Zirin and I discussed this very theme on Wednesday's podcast: Changing a street name, pretending your history doesn't exist, 

Love the ability of some people to pretend that not honoring someone or something is the same as pretending they didn't exist.  We HAVE to name a street after Yawkey!  We don't have a choice, we'd be lying to ourselves if we didn't!  It's not hate, it's heritage!

and not giving your fans a chance to discuss and digest what happened … 

And again, apparently without that street being named after him, there's just no way fans will be able to learn and digest the team's racist history.

I mean, that isn't the greatest idea, either. Yawkey was a flawed guy in extremely flawed times, and if the street makes you remember that and appreciate the progress we've made over the past six decades, maybe that's not a bad thing.

Yeah, that's it!  Let's have an annual "Yawkey Day" at Fenway, where minority fans have to sit in segregated sections, and the Sox have to field an all-white lineup!  It's the best way to appreciate how far we've come!

Here's what I'm thinking: What if we went the other way? What if you kept the name of the street, but you built statues of Pumpsie Green (the first minority Red Sox player), Jim Rice, Pedro Martinez and David Ortiz 

Torii Hunter is extremely angry that Bill is trying to lump those last two in with the first two.

that would be strategically positioned along Yawkey Way? And then, you point out on each statue that the Red Sox were the last franchise to integrate their team, and that once upon a time, our racist owner Tom Yawkey fought for years and years to maintain an all-white Red Sox team? (Thinking.) Or we could just change the name to Dave Roberts Drive and be done with it. What Red Sox fan wouldn't feel like a million bucks walking down Dave Roberts Drive? I need to think about this some more.

He tried to save it with a half-joke at the end there, but let's face it, that whole answer is pretty sad (though not unexpected).

Q: I was just rereading "Now I Can Die In Peace" for the 10th time and couldn't help but notice your take on A-Rod after he slapped the ball out of Arroyo's glove like a ninny in Game 6: you said the play " … exposed A-Rod as a liar and cheater of the highest order, the kind who would turn over an R in Scrabble a pretend its a blank letter." Touché sir. You called it.
—Tyler, Durham, NH

Remember that time A-Rod broke an on-field baseball rule?  THAT TOTALLY PROVED THAT HE WOULD ABUSE STEROIDS THROUGHOUT HIS CAREER.  GOOD JOB BILL NOW PUBLISH MY LETTER.  Tyler from Durham sucks.

Q: Did you read Bill Barnwell's piece on the yearly QB Championship belt? He gave Peyton Manning six seasons of belts and Tom Brady 1. My roommate and I think he's trying to get you to fire him so he can join Peter King's site.
—Danny, Lincoln NE

SG: We certainly can't rule it out. Obviously, I would have given Brady the 2003 and 2004 belts for leading a juggernaut that won two straight Super Bowls, 

Or you could just do what Barnwell did in that article, and give the belt to the guy with the best stats, rather than the best defense and coach.

finished 34-4 over that stretch (including an NFL-record 21 straight victories) 

18-1.  18-1.  18-1.  That is all that matters.

and beat the Colts all four times they played (including twice in the playoffs). 

That PROVES that Brady was better!

We left the 2004 playoffs believing that Brady was the next Montana, that he owned Manning and the Colts, and that there was no better money QB in the NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE. 

Stealing my damn bit.

Had someone written a column in February 2005 based around the premise "I don't care what just happened, I'm still giving the QB Championship belt for these past two years to Peyton Manning," he would have seemed like a crazy person … right?

With Barnwell's stat-based criteria?  No.  Manning had like 1500 more yards, 25 more TD, 6 fewer INT, and a QB rating about 20 points higher those two years.  Brady had an awesome defense and Bill Belichick.

And just so you don't think I'm a homer (you're right, we're about 10 years too late), I would have given Eli Manning the 2011 belt for carrying a 9-7 Giants team past Matt Ryan, Aaron Rodgers, a terrific Niners defense in San Francisco, then Brady in the Super Bowl. We left that season believing that he was the best big-game QB in football, right? Same logic as Brady in 2003 and 2004. 

You're an idiot.

As for 2012 … I don't know. Joe Flacco submitted one of the best QB postseasons ever, but didn't that feel more like a good QB catching fire for a month than someone becoming the league's best QB? 


Q: After Game 7 of the NBA Finals, SportsCenter cut you in the postgame show off right as you were going to say something about The Decision! What was it?????
—Matt Scully, SF

SG: Part of me never wanted to answer this question, just because I enjoyed so many conspiracy theorists thinking ESPN intentionally cut me off there. Really, you think ESPN would do anything like THAT? (Thinking.) Fine, it's probably the wrong week to ask that question. But if that were true, then that means I uttered the words "The Decision" and a panicked director in Bristol immediately screamed, "CUT HIS MIC!" within 0.015 seconds. Come on. Nobody can react that fast.

First of all, it's insulting that he thinks anyone reading this doesn't know that TV is on a delay FOR THIS EXACT REASON, that mics can be cut if people say bad shit.  Second of all:  HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA (link does not refer to this same incident, but to one similar enough to make everything he just said pathetic and obviously disingenuous)

So what did I actually say? The same thing I've written in my column before — that "The Decision" was considered a disaster when it happened, but it's really the best thing that happened to the NBA since Jordan came back from baseball. From the spring of 2010 through the summer of 2013, everything happening with LeBron James was more interesting than anything else happening in any other sport. 

Just like how Midnight Run is our least-aged 1980s comedy!

Anyway, that's what I said — and I did make that entire point. Magic was even nodding with that super-impressed, "I like where you're goin' with this, Bee-wwl" look on his face. 

That's kind of racist.

Q: Did you see Nestle launched a contest to build a female sports fan her own Wo-man Cave, or as they're calling it, the WoCave? If anyone can come up with a better name than WoCave it's you.
—Sarah, DFW

SG: Thanks for your unwavering support, Sarah. You're right, if I can't top a name that sounds like the name of a magazine targeted at gynecologists, I should just retire right now. In my opinion, no female-twisted play on the words "Man Cave" can work. Especially the reprehensible WoCave. Forge your own identity, ladies. Since it's a place to hang out, a cave-like word like "nest," "den," "lair," "bunker," "lounge," "haven" or "hideaway" needs to 

This goes on for an additional paragraph.

Q: What's your very best piece of life advice?
—Chuck Alexander

SG: You mean something that didn't come from George Costanza ("Just remember, it's not a lie if you believe it"), David Halberstam ("Being a professional means doing your job on the days you don't want to do it"), Ferris Bueller ("Life moves pretty fast — if you don't stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it") and Milton Berle ("If opportunity doesn't knock, build a door")? Hmmmmmm. I'd go with this advice …

Don't worry about what other people are doing. Worry about what you're doing.

Nope.  Not here at this blog.  Worrying about what other people are doing is pretty much the only thing we do.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Bill's mailbag of horseshit is horsier and shittier than ever (part 2)

To the anonymous in last post's comments, re Jeter vs. A-Rod as Yankees SS in 2004: yes, there were people back then who thought Jeter was the better shortstop.  They are the same people who still think he deserved every Gold Glove that he won, i.e., they were/are fucking idiots who should be thrown into volcanoes.  I realize that defensive metrics and defensive WAR have a long way to go before they're perfectly accurate, but as of the start of 2004 season, Jeter had about -2 dWAR and Rodriguez had about 8 dWAR.  That's a gap that can't be explained away with a rallying cry of SHUT UP STAT NERDZZZ, WATCH SOME GAMES.  The odds that Jeter was the better shortstop are about the same as the odds that he doesn't get into the HOF on the first ballot.  Also, re your claim that bengoodfella was exaggerating more than the pro-Jeter crowd: NO.

Anyways, when we last left Bill and his merry band of sycophants, some retard had asked/told Bill that the final scene of the first episode of the current season of Breaking Bad was the best scene in television history.  How do you think Bill will respond?

SG: I thought it was the television equivalent of the 75 seconds or so right after Mike Tyson first chewed off part of Evander Holyfield's ear — when we realized what happened, zoomed through the Seven Stages of WTF? and assumed they would stop the fight, only they didn't, and suddenly Tyson and Holyfield were hopping in their corners, ready to fight again as everyone lost their freaking minds.

/game show buzzer

Gotta give him points for comparing it to a sports moment rather than another pop culture moment, though.

I've been in just about every conceivable sports fan situation at this point — that's my no. 1 "I am prepared for ANYTHING right now" sports fan moment. (It's impossible to overstate how exciting those few seconds right before they started fighting again were. I still remember where I watched that fight, who was there, and where everyone was sitting.) 

Hopefully the reason he remembers all of that so vividly is because he was alone.  I would sooner stick my dick in a paper shredder than watch a fight with Simmons.

Wait a second, we're doing this right now? This is happening??????? I AM PREPARED FOR ABSOLUTELY ANYTHING.


Q: Is there anyone who can die between now and next month to prevent James Gandolfini from getting the hammer slot in the 'In Memoriam' Emmys montage? I see only three potential people stealing his thunder: Bill Cosby, Bill Shatner, or Jerome Seinfeld.

—Bryan Farris, Baton Rouge

Yeah, those three, and about two hundred other actors and actresses.  Good way to get your question into the published mailbag, though.  "Hey Bill, here's a horseshit question about nothing that has a bunch of possible answers.  Here are my answers to it, which are terrible.  Your thoughts?"

SG: Agree on Cosby and Seinfeld. Disagree on Shatner. Would add the following definites: David Letterman, Michael J. Fox, Mary Tyler Moore, 

And then he goes on for like 15 more.  It's embarrassing.

The single toughest call? Gandolfini or Eddie Murphy. 

THIS IS WORTH CONSTERNATION!  America's most popular sportswriter, everyone.

Q: I'm not sure why, but the other day, I decided to see what the current Red Sox rotation would look like if all the pitchers were actually dinosaurs:

1. Felix Doubrontosaurus

I'll spare you the rest.  Point is, the person who wrote this should be beaten severely on public television.

Q: SportsCenter has been showing a lot of tweets on air from sports figures and celebs. 

On the list of the fifty worst things to start happening on Sportscenter in the last four years, this is near the top, but is definitely eclipsed by the fact that they also show a lot of tweets from everyday sports fans too.  That's just what I want with my highlights--some instant feedback from @boner69 about how great LeBron's dunk was.

Most of the time, the person reading the tweet kinda butchers it due to the weird form of English used on twitter. What do you think of SportsCenter bringing in a Frank Caliendo type impersonator and use him over an anchor awkwardly reading a Shaq tweet?

—Ashton, Springfield, MA

That would be almost as funny as yelling like KG every time you order food at a restaurant!  Sick idea, bro

And here it is, as mentioned in the comments to one of my Midnight Run posts:

Q: I don't want to bad-mouth Midnight Run, but to claim "No movie used more f-bombs more effectively than Midnight Run" took me aback. Have you not seen The Big Lebowski?

—Eric S., St. Peters, MO

SG: Still haven't seen that movie. My buddy Gus believes everyone should have one movie that you've never seen just because it infuriates and perplexes everyone you know that you haven't seen it. His movie is E.T. He's never seen it. 

That was an awesome "movie I've never seen" to have never seen in 1991.  Probably infuriated and perplexed everyone Gus met at that Color Me Badd concert.  These days, I wouldn't think he's getting much mileage out of it.

This infuriates and perplexes me. For me, it's Rebowski. Er. Lebowski? Is it Rebowski or Lebowski? I wouldn't know because I've never seen it.


Q: In your "Overrated/Underrated/Properly Rated" podcast with Wesley Morris, you debated how to rate Jodie Foster's career against Meryl Streep's career. 

Woo!  Sports!  And if not sports, pop culture that people definitely care about!

Streep is probably the most similar to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

It would be a waste of Blogger's pixels to copy and paste the rest of that.

SG: I like it because Wesley overrates Foster's Accused/Lambs peak 

And yes, he answered it.  With like 500 words.  And an equation to be used to numerically determine who our greatest living actor or actress is.  This guy can make almost anything unfun and tedious with his magical superpowers of fauxnalysis.

Sorry, Al Pacino — you missed the cutoff by one point. Hoo-ah!


Q: I had a dream last night about a cricket-playing cat called Toby. Toby was like the Babe Ruth of cat cricket, I mean he made the other cats in the cat cricket league look like they were kittens. He even had an epic five-minute YouTube montage of his greatest shots that I watched several times. And the worst feeling about waking up wasn't realizing that it was all a dream, but realizing that I couldn't send you a link and tell you about Toby, the Babe Ruth of cat cricket.

—Jonathan Gault, Syracuse

SG: I've learned to see through transparent attempts to become the last e-mail of the mailbag.

Worst part about that question: all of it, or just the fact that the dude used that particular pseudonym?  And I have to unsarcastically acknowledge Bill here.  It's bad enough that he does that LOL MY READERS LOL thing still, but it's worse that he probably gets 250 emails a week trying to be the person that writes that email but failing, which is like trying to punch yourself in the face and instead falling down and breaking your arm.

Q: Pick one musical act for the New York Super Bowl halftime: Jay-Z, Bruce, Bon Jovi or the debut of the Frank Sinatra hologram?

—Chris Agar, Felton, DE

I love Bruce, but his 2009 halftime performance was a letdown.  And then SIXBURGH beat the poor Cardinals in the last 30 seconds after the Cardinals mounted that awesome comeback.  Overall, a night full of letdowns.

SG: I guess I need more clarity … are we considering this a New York Super Bowl or a New Jersey Super Bowl? (Maybe America should vote on this?) 

What a horrible idea!

If it's a New York Super Bowl, then I vote for Jay Z performing with the Sinatra hologram. If it's a Jersey Super Bowl, I vote for Bruce and Bon Jovi performing together as Chris Christie eats pasta in the background with a Gandolfini hologram.


But if we're considering this a New York–New Jersey Super Bowl — a joint collaboration, if you will — then nothing less than a Jay Z–Springsteen combo would suffice. 


We might as well go all-out because right around the second quarter — when it's 18 degrees and every Super Bowl spectator is in full-fledged WTF mode — we're going to collectively decide that no cold-weather city should ever host a Super Bowl again.

I told you he was turning into Peter King.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Bill's mailbag of horseshit is horsier and shittier than ever (part 1)

Wow, needed that week off.  Back at it now.  Don't have much time tonight, but I can spare enough to give Bill and his readers the chance to say five ludicrously stupid things.  That'll get us through a good 3% of last week's mailbag.

Q: The most amazing thing about A-Rod's career: He's one of the best hitters the game has ever seen, yet he will not be remembered favorably by a single person. 

There's one.  Hey, sorry everyone, I know the Jeff Pearlmans of the world desperately want you to believe that he's bin Laden, Stalin and the BTK killer all rolled into one, but I'm going to remember A-Rod fondly.  He was fucking good at baseball.  He also lied and broke the rules.  But he ALSO helped expose Jeter (to the few hundred Americans willing to consider the idea that Jeter wasn't Christ come back to earth) as the whining, selfish little cunt that he is when Jeter refused to switch positions for the defensively superior Rodriguez (who then acted like a good teammate and let the issue go).  Those last two balance out, leaving me only with memories of one of the ten or so best hitters ever.  Works for me.

Say what you want about Bonds, Clemens, Sosa, etc.; but at least there will be groups of fans who will always remember them in a positive light. A-Rod's going to pass 650 HRs and not have a single Old Timer's Day to come back to. Has anyone else in sports ever been so good, yet burned every single bridge when it comes to the fans?

-Peff Jearlman, definitely NOT somewhere in upstate New York

—Ryan K, New York

SG: I wouldn't count out Retired A-Rod yet. In 2008, the thought of Roger Clemens returning to Fenway to celebrate the 25th anniversary of "Morgan Magic" was inconceivable. In 2013, this happened …

(picture of Clemens at Red Sox old timers day)

… and not just that, but Clemens received a few cheers and even joined WEEI's radio broadcast during the ensuing game. 


But you brought up one intriguing story line: The real possibility that A-Rod becomes a historical nomad, a generational talent that ultimately doesn't belong to any fan base.

That's two.  He will "belong" to the Yankees for life.  It may take their fans a few years to re-embrace him, but you can bank on it.

There's a precedent: Oscar Robertson spent the 1960s with the Cincinnati Royals before finishing his career in Milwaukee. 


/boring and self-serving paragraph about Oscar Robertson deleted, because the thesis was "he's the only all time great who can't get a standing ovation in his home arena whenever he wants one," when in fact Oscar Robertson could get a standing ovation in any arena in the league anytime he wants one, because NBA fans are not fucking idiots and they know who Oscar Robertson is.

So barring a 2013 World Series miracle, how does A-Rod avoid being a historical nomad? I think he has only one career move left, whether he's suspended for 2014 or not: That's right … Japan! I could see him going there next season with two goals: make as much money as possible, and make a run at Sadaharu Oh's all-time professional baseball home run record (868). 

That's three.

Q: Which installment of the Fast and Furious franchise will feature Nic Cage?

—Ted, Alexandria, VA

SG: Fast Eight. No question. The Mayans predicted it way back when. I'm sure Nic Cage is more confused than anyone that they've made seven of these movies without ever saying the words, "Hey, what's Nic Cage doing?"

Sports!  Woo!

Q: Actual conversation I had with a girl the other night:

Her: "Did you read Bill Simmons' article about that?."

Me: "Yeah, I read all of his articles."

Her: "You say that like it's a hard thing to do."


Thanks, jackass. That tidbit was an impressive feat to throw around back in 2005. 

No, it wasn't.

Now it's just pathetic.

—Bryan, Grand Forks, ND

Bryan and I both know that conversation never happened.

Q: In your latest podcast with Zach Lowe (off his "Best NBA Team Nicknames" column), you discussed the stupidity of the Phoenix Suns nickname and suggested the Phoenix Pitbulls. Why not borrow your idea for Brooklyn to just be "Brooklyn" and drop the Suns name altogether? Just call them "The Phoenix!" The Phoenix — it symbolizes "rebirth" and it's high-flying and fiery? 

That's four.  Jiminy Fucking Christmas.  Who are these people, and have they been sterilized yet?

Q: Aren't you the king of "Stay In Your Lane"? So what are you doing abandoning your column and podcast during the 2013 NBA Playoffs for television? A column and a podcast can last forever, but all those pregame shows you did were meaningless, empty accomplishments the moment they were over.

—Daniel, Cleveland

I almost counted this as stupid thing number five for being so facially idiotic, but then I realized that I agree with Daniel's underlying message 100%: stay off my television, you untalented, nasal-voiced hack.

Q: When Hank closed the garage door, that was like the Heat improbably getting the rebound in Game 6 and everything that followed in that scene was Ray Allen hitting That Shot. One of the greatest moments in TV history, period.

—Kyle, Cambridge

I love Breaking Bad, love the way this season is developing, and loved that moment.  And yet, that's number five, partially because I want to go to bed, and partially because Kyle from Cambridge is obviously one of those AWWW BRO SICKEST PARTY EVER fuckos who ruins everything with hyperbole.  Thanks Kyle.  (And yes I know I overuse hyperbole, but come on, I'm not exactly Kyle over here.)