Monday, October 28, 2013

Rest easy, everyone

I know you were wondering what the key to winning tonight's game 5 would be for the Cardinals and the Red Sox.  Tim "a half step above Joe Morgan" McCarver is here to enlighten you: it's to go back to Boston up 3-2.  You're welcome.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Oblivious and self-righteous Cardinals fans vs. desperate-to-play-the-victim Red Sox fans: WHO YA GOT?

If you happen to cross paths with any media members who write about either of these teams anytime in the next few months, kick them in the crotch for me.  I'm not 100% sure which side is worse, although I am leaning strongly towards the Cardinals.  At least loudmouth moron Red Sox fans are pretty honest about themselves: they're loudmouths, they're morons, and they're OK with that.  Their other most annoying flaw is their obsession with climbing up on their crosses and portraying themselves as victims (as seen most recently in the way many of them donned tinfoil hats and briefly insisted that the NFL changed the "pushing your teammates into the line of scrimmage" rules specifically to screw them, or more generally in every tweet Simmons has ever tweeted after a Boston team loses).  And that flaw is insufferable.  HOLY SHIT, THE WORLD IS NOT AGAINST YOU, AND IT SURE AS SHIT HASN'T BEEN PARTICULARLY CRUEL TO YOU IN THE REALM OF SPORTS FANDOM FOR THE PAST 15 YEARS.  But mostly, Boston fans just love their teams, and think their teams are better than your teams, and FACK YOU if you disagree.  I have a modicum of respect for that.  Cardinals fans?  Oh boy, here's where it gets much, much uglier.

The whole "Best Fans In Baseball" thing has been a vomit-inducing and out of control myth for a long time now, perpetuated by mouth-breathing commentators (both national and regional) who bring it up EVERY FUCKING TIME you're watching/listening to a game that's taking place in Saint Louis.  The Bob Costases of the world trip over themselves to point out the fact that the fans clapped for their starting pitcher who came out of the game mid-inning after a good start, or cheered tepidly for a nice catch made by an opposing player in the bottom of the 2nd, before the game gets tense.  Essentially every example some retard might try to give of Cardinals fans being the best around can be put into one of two categories: 1) something that all fans of all teams everywhere do (classic example: cheering for former players who come back as members of other teams) or 2) things that are not true (classic example: being super "classy"--counterpoint, see the Twitter feed linked above, or the way they handled the Pujols departure).

But the real cherry on top of the shit sundae is how oblivious they are.  Most Red Sox fans, if asked to evaluate whether Red Sox fans are obnoxious, will at least consider the possibility.  Most Cardinals fans, if asked to evaluate whether Cardinals fans are obnoxious, will act like they are being asked to evaluate whether the earth is flat.  If you didn't hate Will Leitch before (and Jesus, how could you not?  Will Leitch is a huge piece of shit), you will after this.

All right, we need to get something straight, and we need to get something straight fast. I have never, ever, ever ever ever ever ever, heard a Cardinals fan refer to him or herself as "one of the best fans in baseball." I'm sure it has happened. I've just never seen it. And I hang out with a lot of Cardinals fans.

1) It happens every 15 seconds or so on that Twitter feed I've been linking 
2) As I already said, it happens every. Single. Time you listen to or watch a game that's taking place in Saint Louis, so it doesn't really matter whether they gave themselves this moniker (which I'm sure they did); it's being crammed down our throats anyways, so who gives a shit where it came from
3) It's very unlikely Leitch has any friends, so his story is dubious to begin with

This notion, that Cardinals fans are always walking around patting themselves on the back, telling everyone they run into, "Hey, did you know that I'm part of the best fans in baseball? Well, I am," appears to have secured its place in the public consciousness. 

It's laughable that a person who is smart enough to operate a computer would not understand how this works.  It's like he's never heard of the concept of smugness.

It's ridiculous. Humans don't talk like that, particularly ones as earnest and cheerfully dopey as Cardinals fans. 

He's like a lawyer, using legalese and hyper-literal interpretation of terms to try to confuse the argument.  CARDINALS FANS DO NOT SAY THIS EXACT SET OF WORDS VERY OFTEN; THEREFORE, THEY ARE DEFINITELY NOT SELF-RIGHTEOUS PRICKS ABOUT THEIR BASEBALL TEAM.

The only people I've ever heard anyone refer to Cardinals fans as the best fans in baseball are:

Opposing fans or media members saying so derisively;

Opposing media members saying so derisively?  Which planet are you on?  I suppose Cubs broadcasters/reporters might do that.  Media members for the other 28 teams in the league most assuredly do not.

Players on the field describing the experience of playing in St. Louis.

Every player on every team describes his team's fans as the best in baseball.

The last 24 hours have unleashed a torrent of disdain for the Cardinals and their fans, most notably from Drew Magary at Deadspin

Read that if you haven't, it's great.

who does this sort of thing better than anyone on earth. (Drew's Why Your Team Sucks series is a brilliant experiment in discovering which teams' fanbases are the most sensitive about their public image. The Cardinals rank undeniably high on that last; Drew says he received more "Hate Tweets" 

Also great, read that as well.

in response to that column than any other he's ever written. He got so many that I, who am briefly mentioned in the column, got some too, caught in the Hate Tweet crossfire.) All this disdain comes with the territory: When you win as many games as the Cardinals have, 

Ah, the last refuge of the asshole fan who wants to defend the assholism displayed by him and his kind: Y'ALL JUST JEALOUS!!!!!! 

and have broken the hearts of so many teams in the postseason over the last few years, as the Cardinals have, people are going to get sick of you and thus angry at you. Over the last eight years, the Cardinals have ended the postseason dreams of the Mets, Tigers, Phillies, Brewers, Rangers, Nationals and Pirates. That's a lot of fanbases spitting in your general direction.

Hey, idiot: people aren't sick of the Cardinals because they win so much.  They're sick of the Cardinals because they have won so much that it has turned their fans into a bunch of huge fuckheads.  Is anyone, outside of fans of these teams' rivals, sick of the Spurs or the Ravens the way lots of people are sick of the Cardinals?  What's the difference?  Oh yeah, there aren't that many Spurs fans, and Ravens fans aren't as insufferable as Cardinals fans.

So Cardinals fans don't think they're the best fanbase in baseball, or at least not any more than every fan thinks they're part of the best fanbase in baseball. 

/game show buzzer

But I feel obliged, as someone for whom his Cardinals fandom is central to my life, a critical aspect of my entire existence, 

You're a gigantic fucking loser and I hope you never reproduce.

to stick up for us. If you were to try to figure out the best fanbase in baseball, you could make a case for several teams. The Yankees. The Cubs. The Phillies. The Dodgers. The Giants. The Red Sox. The Tigers. And, yeah, the Cardinals.

That's just a list of the oldest and most popular teams in the league.  There's nothing notable about any of those fan bases other than the fact that there are a lot of people among each, for historical, geographical and/or bandwagony reasons.

Because Cardinals fans could probably use an antidote to all the bile yesterday, and because Game One of the NLCS kicks off at Busch Stadium tonight, this is how one might make that case.

Holy shit.  "Clearly, us Cardinals fans don't think we're special.  Now here are ten reasons why we're special."

10 Reasons Why Cardinals Fans Might Be The Best Fanbase In Baseball

Let's test my theory from above.  I'll be shocked if there are any of these that can't go into one of my two previously stated buckets: 1) not special or 2) not true.

1) They really do cheer opposing players when they make a great play. This actually happens. You'll even see it in the NLCS. If Hanley Ramirez makes a diving stop to throw a Cardinal out, or Clayton Kershaw loses a no-hitter in the eighth inning, Cardinals fans will give them standing ovations. Now, you can mock that if you want. You can call that "fake classiness." But you cannot deny that it happens, all the time.

This is in both buckets.  First, obviously, every fanbase will cheer the opposing team's accomplishments under certain circumstances, like the no-hitter example used above.  Second, no, Cardinals fans will not do this during the playoffs.  You know how I know?  Barry Zito pitched masterfully in this game last October, and was removed mid-inning, giving those classy fans a great chance to class it up and show how classy they are by applauding his performance.  Hell, it wasn't even a backbreaker from the Cards as far as the series was going--after this game, they still held a 3 games to 2 advantage.  Did Zito get applause?  Hmmmm.  (That smattering of cheers you hear is from Giants fans behind the SF dugout.)

2) They love their players even when they leave. When Dodgers centerfielder Skip Schumaker or infielder Nick Punto are announced any time in this series, they will receive huge ovations as well, probably even if they get a base hit. Both were pivotal parts of the 2011 World Series team, and the Cardinals fans will never forget it. Eventually this is even going to happen to Albert Pujols.

First of all, 6 > 5 SO CLEVER FUCK YOU ALBERT.  Second of all, you're the dumbest sports fan on earth if you think this makes your fanbase unique.

3) Everyone just wants to be Stan Musial. Want to know where this whole notion of The Cardinal Way -- winning, and doing so with class, dignity and reserve -- came from? 

Nope, because The Cardinal Way doesn't exist!  (Unless getting DUIs, using steroids and doing all kinds of other shitty things that players on all 30 MLB team do are classy, dignified, reserved things to do.)  Thanks for offering though.  Stan Musial was great at baseball and a nice person.  There are lots of ex-players who fit that mold.  I know this is going to sound crazy, but every team has them.

4) The Winter Warm Up. Every year around MLK Day, the Cardinals have a big Winter Warm Up event at a hotel downtown. It's basically just a bunch of Cardinals signing autographs, but Cardinals fans attend this event like a dying man crawling through a desert being offered water. (You can actually buy tickets to this event three months in advance.) 

This person founded a major sports blog.  He also thinks that his team is the only team in the league that does a "FanFest"-style event.  That's incredible.

5) They always, always come out to the games. Busch Stadium is at the center of everything in St. Louis, and is always, always full. Season capacity this year was 94.6 percent, second-highest in baseball. Last year? 91.6 percent, fourth. Every person within 200 miles of Busch Stadium spent the last 48 hours -- since the end of the Pirates game -- desperately scrambling for tickets to the NLCS. (If you can help my dad, who's still searching, out, let me know.)

Someone call the NYT and WaPo and tell them to get a crack team of reporters on this story: team that won World Series in 2011/went to NLCS in 2012 sold lots of tickets in 2012/2013.

6) They travel as well as any fanbase in the country. If you've ever been to watch your team play the Cardinals in your home stadium, you know this. Cardinals fans have a way of turning whole sections of opposing stadiums bright red. It has become a tradition in September, when the Cardinals are often playing teams out of the pennant chase, that opposing stadiums because de facto home games. We sort of just cheerily invade.

They're not traveling.  They're a bunch of transplants who left Saint Louis because it's an awful city in an awful part of the country.  Some of them are bandwagoners with no ties to Saint Louis whatsoever.  They are there cheering for the Cardinals because the Cardinals are good.  If the Astros had 11 championships, there would be Astros fans all over the place too.  I'm doing my best to write this with a calm and reasonable tone, but honestly, I just want to meet Leitch in real life and punch him in the mouth.  "We just sort of cheerily invade!"  DIE.  You're the worst.

Players are family here, and they know it. In 2004, the Cardinals traded for Larry Walker late in the season. As he came to the plate for his first at-bat, he received a standing ovation. He struck out on three pitches. He then received another one. 

NO WAY.  Most fanbases would have booed him out of the stadium after one failed at bat.

There is a reason the Cardinals have been able to cultivate and keep players, have been able to trade for stars and keep them: They know it's different in St. Louis,

It's not.  

and they want to stay. 

Matt Holliday, a star traded for and then resigned, would have left in a heartbeat for another team during the 2009 offseason if anyone else had needed a LF and offered him the money the Cardinals eventually offered.  Fortunately for them, no other big spending team needed a LF that year.  Fortunately for Holliday, the Cardinals eventually caved and gave him a market value (or perhaps larger) deal.  But if not for a very unusual free agent market that year, he would have been gone.  Not even the magical wondrous mystical powers of Saint Louis, a town where fans cheer for new players, could have kept him there.

Scott Rolen, who gleefully re-upped with the Cardinals shortly after they traded for him, said, "Baseball is so special to them that as an organization, you have a lot to live up to. You feel like you owe it to the fans to put your best foot forward. They adopt you as their own. You become part of their lives." Ask any player which stadiums they love playing at: Busch Stadium is always near the top of the list. Ask them which franchise they'd love to play for: The Cardinals are always near the top of the list. The reason is not the facilities: It's the fans. We can all get online and have fights about "real" fans, but the players, they live it, they know. They know what's special about St. Louis.

This whole article seems like it could be trolling, but that last sentence especially.  I'm afraid to criticize it too sharply in case it really is trolling.  Nothing worse than getting a fast one pulled on you by someone as emptyheaded as Leitch.

The last home game of the season, when everybody sings the National Anthem. It's a tradition: The team doesn't have an anthem singer for the final home game. The whole crowd does it, and it's deeply moving, every year. Here's the last one at the old Busch Stadium.

Who gives a flying fuck?

The fans are the reason the Cardinals can compete. The Cardinals don't have a wealthy owner willing to spend billions on whatever player he wants. 

Come the fuck on.  This article is old, but the ownership structure hasn't changed significantly since it was written.  Bill DeWitt is worth a shitload of money.  That's how he can afford to field a team with the 11th highest payroll in the league in 2013.  Does he spend like George Steinbrenner did near the end of his life?  No.  Is he rich as fuck?  Yes.

They don't have a massive cable contract. 

Their current deal is awful, and doesn't expire until 2017.  At that point, they will get a new deal, and it will be comically huge.  I like how all of this is written like the Cardinals are a non-profit financed by $20 donations from generous fans.

They don't even have that sweetheart of a stadium deal. 

The owners paid for most of the stadium, this is true.  They also got a wide-reaching set of tax breaks that helps offset some of that money that they paid up front.

What they do have is a fanbase that will support them no matter what … and is willing to be patient. The Cardinals have one of the strongest farm systems in baseball, and one of the reasons they do is because they've been allowed to be smart about keeping talent around. There aren't angry calls to trade unknown prospects for veterans at the deadline, moves for the sake of making moves. The Cardinals fans, in a way that's not always healthy, trust their team. There aren't moves made to placate the fanbase because the fanbase is always placated. This is an enormous competitive advantage: The Cardinals front office can make decisions based entirely on whether or not they're good ones, rather than how it will "play" with the fanbase. 

Holy shit, what in the fucking shitfuck are you fucking talking about?  Do you have any idea how anything works?  How have you lived to this age?  Who feeds you and changes your clothes every day?

The greatest example of this, of course, is what happened with Albert Pujols. This was a man who had been compared to The Man, who seemed destined to play his entire career with the Cardinals. But when he wanted more money than was wise for the Cardinals to pay, the team walked away, in large part because it knew the fanbase would understand. And it did! There was little ill will toward the team or toward Pujols. 


Ok, I can't even finish.  You get the idea.  Will Leitch is atrocious.  Oh wait, one last thing: remember the first few paragraphs of this article?  All that stuff about how Cardinals fans don't actually think they're the best in baseball?

But this idea that there isn't anything special about Cardinals fans, that this has all just been made up as some sort of self-aggrandizing exercise, is ludicrous. The Cardinals have a loyal, devoted fanbase, and it is one that has had a direct effect in the success of their team. 



(Snarky response from Jarrett, who is a non-atrocious Cardinals fan, sure to appear in the comments below)

Do we have a "Lazy Headlines That Are Untrue and Tell You Nothing" label?

Yes, all the Cardinals do is win. Except in game one, when they lost. I can't speak for anyone else, but I would have much preferred a generic headline like "It's all tied up!" or even the cringe inducing "It's a whole new ballgame!" It's nice to know that ESPN's editors are allowed to post nonsensical shit just like their columnist peers.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

MMTMQR: This analysis is as stale as a Teen Wolf reference

That's right, I'm covering last week's TMQ on Sunday night.  Sue me.  Before I do though, first, I wanted to respond to the anonymous tearing down Magic and defending Doug Collins in the comments to my last post.  My point wasn't that Magic is a great analyst (like I said, he's sort of kind of good--agree to disagree there) or that Collins is a bad analyst (I agree that he's good, better than Magic).  My point was that Magic also brought cache and a "wow" factor to NBA Countdown.  Collins can't do that.  Can he be entertaining and insightful?  Sure.  But it seems like a downgrade to me, on balance.  The best move would have been to just replace Wilbon with Collins.  But like the Deadspin post speculated, it sounds like Magic left because Simmons is a cunt.  And who would blame him?

Second of all, I'd like to revisit a few of the audible turds that slithered out of McCarver's mouth during tonight's ALCS broadcast.  In discussing Austin Jackson's strikeout problems, he noted (in a tone of voice that suggested he was dispensing Super Important Insider Knowledge) that one problem a lot of hitters who frequently strike out have is that they tend to chase pitches out of the strike zone.  Thanks Tim.  Later on he identified Miguel Cabrera as one of the greatest players in the history of the game, which, hey, I'm not a Cabrera hater and he certainly looks destined for the HOF at this point, but let's not get ten years ahead of ourselves in anointing him the next Hank Aaron yet.  

Anyways, here's your TMQR, only five days late.  Here's how he opened his column:

Is there any end in sight for the upswing in football offense?

And for the 50th column in a row, Gregggggggg feels compelled to let you know that a lot of teams are racking up a lot of yards and points these days.  FASCINATING.  Very fresh information.  Maybe one of these weeks he'll take time to investigate the rumors that some athletes use steroids.

Denver and Dallas played a contest with 99 points, 1,039 yards of offense and one punt. At 46 points per game, the Broncos are on a pace to score 736 points, which would pulverize the NFL season record of 589 points. At 490 offensive yards per game, they're on pace to gain 7,840 yards, which would best the league record of 7,474.

But wait--what about college football?  Is the same trend happening at that level as well?  I MUST KNOW!

And the Broncos are staring at the taillights of the Oregon Ducks and Baylor Bears! Baylor is averaging 71 points and 790 offensive yards per game; Oregon, 59 points and 


The NFL scoring record came in 2007 (New England), the yardage record in 2011 (New Orleans). The NFL's three best performances ever for first downs were in 2012 (New England), 2011 (New Orleans) and 2011 (New England). How many records will fall in 2013?

Aside from CBS and FOX producers who need to make sure their broadcasts are filled with a constant stream of uninteresting graphics about this topic, who gives a shit?

Also important are Manning's confident, quick release; constant small changes in the game plan; nearly error-free communication of rapid play calls (this factor is more than meets the eye); 

Only a brainiac like Gregggg understands the importance of Manning's play calling and audibling, topics that have been discussed to death by every single football analyst in the world for the past 15 years.

and defensive backs who play scared because they are worried about being torched. As the postseason approaches, defensive backs may start jamming Denver receivers, reducing the Broncs' gaudy numbers.

Wouldn't that theoretically open them up to getting burned deep?  And why would they start doing it later in the season if it were the best way to defend Denver's offense?  Again, questions which only the world's smartest man can answer.  (Hint: the world's smartest man also knows that blitzing never works.)

Eagles at Giants, Philadelphia was called for offensive holding. Jersey/A coach Tom Coughlin's choice was to give Philadelphia fourth-and-4 on the Jersey/A 47 or let the visitors repeat the down as third-and-20 on their 37. When Coughlin chose the latter, Fox announcers Thom Brennaman and Brian Billick practically passed out. "The Eagles were short of the first down, which would have forced Philadelphia to punt," Brennaman said. Philadelphia converted and scored a field goal on the possession. After commercial, the camera did a close-up on the announcers, who at this point had enjoyed five minutes to think about what occurred. "Philadelphia had to punt, why did the Giants not force them to punt?" Brennaman asked his partner. "The only explanation I can offer is that Tom Coughlin was confused about the situation and did not realize the Eagles would have to punt," Billick declared.

Look, Billick is a card carrying waterhead of an analyst.  And generally, Greggggggg is right about the fact that teams should go for it on 4th down much more often than they do.  But I am so fucking tired of his "coaches punt to deflect blame" horseshit.  Listen to the crowd any time a home team passes up a 4th and short near midfield.  They boo the shit out of the coach's decision.  Easterbrook is correct that announcers tend to have super conservative points of view on coaching decisions, but it's not like fans do too.  People understand that coaches are dumb.  Despite what this pretentious cumstain would have you believe, very few fans say "Dur, well, we punted on 4th and 2 from the 50 while down 7 with 4 minutes to go and never got the ball back, that was the defense's fault!"

Sweet 'N' Sour Play: Leading 10-0 at Tennessee, the Chiefs had their backs to the wall as the Titans reached first-and-goal on the 1. Kansas City staged a classic goal-line stand: run no gain, pass no gain, run no gain, run no gain. The Chiefs' offense took the ball 94 yards the other way for a field goal and a 13-0 margin; the visitors went on to victory. Sweet.

Wait, if they took the ball 94 yards after a goal line stand, that means the line of scrimmage for the field goal was probably the Titans 5!  That's a mincing, fraidy cat field goal!  Reid should have challenged his team by going for it on 4th and goal, or 4th and whatever it was!  By sending in the field goal unit he told them he didn't expect them to win.  I'm surprised no one scribbled game over in their notebook at that point.

Another sweet goal-line stand occurred when Dallas, jumping to a quick 14-7 lead over Denver, reached first-and-goal at the Broncos' 3. The Boys went penalty, incompletion, incompletion, sack, field goal. Holding Dallas to a field goal in this situation helped kick-start the Denver comeback.

In the sense that they started scoring a bunch of touchdowns right after that stand, yes, it did.  In the sense that the Broncos have a really awesome offense that is always going to put up a shitload of points every game, their comeback had not a fucking thing to do with that sequence of plays.  But narratives!  So much fun.

Maybe Zombies Are Writing the Scripts: Erg ... arg. "The Walking Dead" new season kicks off in a few days, hard on the box-office success of the Brad Pitt zombiefest "World War Z."

Yes.  He's still doing this.

One must suspend disbelief to watch a Superman film, a sci-fi movie and almost any kind of action flick. 

One must suspend disbelief to watch pretty much any movie in any genre.  Why don't you take your own advice and work on doing that more often, Gregggg?  BUT MOVIES ARE UNREALISTIC is the only thing I can think of that's even more boring to read about than SOME TEAMS SCORED 60 POINTS LAST WEEKEND, LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT THEM.

But Superman is presented as a space alien whose biology is different from human, so perhaps different biology allows qualities such as wingless flight. "Star Trek," "Star Wars" and other sci-fi movies are set in imagined societies that have imagined technology. Zombie movies, by contrast, involve Homo sapiens and occur in the present day. In "World War Z," "The Walking Dead" and other recent zombie hits, there's not even a hint of how the zombie transition could be possible.

If carbon dioxide was going to create zombies, this would have happened to Australopithecus. OK, it's a movie.

I hate you. 

One must suspend disbelief to watch a Superman film, a sci-fi movie and almost any kind of action flick. 

One must suspend disbelief to watch a Superman film, a sci-fi movie and almost any kind of action flick. 

One must suspend disbelief to watch a Superman film, a sci-fi movie and almost any kind of action flick. 

Maybe it will sink in eventually.

New England Falls from Ranks of Unbeaten: Cincinnati sacked Tom Brady on third-and-2, sacked him on third-and-8, sacked him on third-and-10 late. The Patriots' no-name receivers were not open on critical downs. On the third-and-10 sack, Cincinnati blitzed six.


Gregg comes up with a can't-miss solution to gerrymandering:

Since any redistricting based on political arm-twisting will be tainted, the solution is computer algorithms that generate districts. A panel of experts representing a mix of ideologies could check the algorithms for neutrality, then let a mathematical formula draw the lines.


Fortune Favors the Bold! Hosting Georgia, underdog Tennessee kept the offense on the field on fourth down three times in the fourth quarter, resulting in two touchdowns and a late 31-24 lead. The rest of the contest went the favorite's way.

Somehow, the idea that there are football gods that reward certain coaching decisions and punish others is not borne out by the sequence of events that took place during that game.

Untouched Touchdown of the Week: No Dallas player was within 15 yards of Peyton Manning as he jogged into the end zone on a naked bootleg on third-and-goal. How monumental will the point spread be for next Sunday's Jacksonville at Denver contest? With Jax 0-5 and barely putting up a fight, for the remainder of the season, this column will call the team Jaguars A&M. Maybe next Sunday's pairing will be Jaguars A&M at Broncos University.


Weather Channel even announces its storm name picks in advance, mimicking National Weather Service policy on tropical storms. TMQ hopes the channel gets to Storm Kronos, then the weathercasters can dress as Klingons. If only Storm Xenia were instead Storm Xena!

Tip your wait staff, folks.

Ron Rivera, Pack Your Bags: Cam Newton was 25-1 as a starter in college, and is 14-22 as a starter in the NFL. But football is a team sport.

Fair enough, but in this same column:

The king's ransom in draft choices paid two years ago for Julio Jones led to talent depletion of the Atlanta roster. The king's ransom in money paid this offseason to Matt Ryan led to free-agency dilution. (It was unrealistic for Atlanta to put so many chips on discount free agent Osi Umenyiora -- in 2012, Osi's Giants were 31st in defense.)

Football is a team sport, unless Gregggggg wants to throw someone under the bus, in which case it's their fault that the Giants were terrible last year.  Seriously, this guy is a fucking moron.  Please, ESPN, I know you check this blog (by which I mean: no one other than my friends and a few of you nice strangers who have found us via Google or a really old Deadspin link checks this blog).  I'm begging you: fire this guy.  He sucks.  He's awful.  He knows next to nothing about football.  He's not funny.  He's not insightful.  He likes pointing out that science fiction is fully of scientific inaccuracies.  He's a sanctimonious, pretentious cunt.  Fire Gregg Easterbrook (dot blogspot dot com)!

Thursday, October 10, 2013


I am working on a TMQR (no really I am), but then I saw this on Deadspin and I couldn't not cross-post it here.  It's both sad and super entertaining.  Bill Simmons, self-appointed god of all that is sports, has successfully annoyed the shit out of one of the 5 greatest NBA players ever.  Was Magic a great analyst?  No, but he wasn't horrible either.  He was kind of good.  More importantly, did he add legitimacy to ESPN's programming in a way that can't be easily replaced?  Yyyyyup.  But hey, at least Doug Collins is on board for the coming season.  So ESPN can take solace in the fact that an all time great player is gone, but he's been replaced with a top 1000 all time player whose career coaching record is a mild shade over .500 and who couldn't get the late 80s Bulls past the conference finals.

On the plus side, Simmons had the good sense to kick Wilbon's condescending ass to the curb.  So that's nice.  As I've said before, I loved the way Wilbon talked down to Simmons on NBA Countdown because Simmons deserves that kind of treatment, but it didn't make Wilbon any less detestable overall.  If I were Simmons, I would have had Wilbon fired before last season.  Wilbon is a twat.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Narratives: for people who hate thinking

No TMQR right now although I may post something on Friday.  In the meantime, I want to point out that like most Boston sports fans, Jackie MacMullen HATES thinking.

It was the ideal confluence of personalities, 

Because they won the division.

and not just because they succeeded, in concert, at sprouting mounds of facial hair.

Right--it was an ideal confluence of personalities because they won the divisiion.  Had the 2013 Red Sox had a good-not-great season, maybe gone 85-77, you would not in a million years have identified them as an ideal anything.

Long before that, there was an underlying vibe percolating among ownership, the front office, the manager and the players.

That's right--the 2012 Red Sox had a shitty season.  But it couldn't have been because of the fact that they had shitty players like Mike Aviles, Aaron Cook, Alfredo Aceves and Daisuke Matsuzaka playing major roles.  It couldn't have been that Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Crawford were too hurt to contribute.  It couldn't have been that Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Daniel Nava hadn't figured out how to hit like they would end up hitting in 2013, or that Clay Buchholz and Jon Lester had down years because sometimes pitchers have down years.  No, none of those things.  It was the VIBE.  It was that the team didn't really believe in itself.  It was Bobby Valentine's fault.  Whatever it was, it sure wasn't just that the team had shittier players, worse luck and more injuries than the 2013 team.  If you're going to be a buttass sportswriter like Jackie MacMullen, you've got to credit a team's success/failure to magic/lack of magic, knowing how to win/not knowing how to win, and having fun/not having fun.  That's what the populace likes to read about, after all.

They had been champions, most of them, 

Other than Cody Ross, no one important had been a champion for at least five seasons.  Some of them had been on the 2007 World Series team.  Like, 10 of them.  The rest of them had never been champions.

idolized and adored by a faithful brethren. 

That's horrible writing.

But when it started breaking bad, 


the fallout was swift, vicious, unforgiving. 


Disappointment evolved into outrage, which led to the unkindest cut of all -- indifference.

Also known as "fairweatherism."

And so the Red Sox were left with an ownership that was viewed as disingenuous, 

Because it is, but to be fair, every ownership group in pro sports is disingenuous.

a roster that was dismissed as entitled, 

It wasn't, it was just bad, but again, narratives are more fun that facts.

a general manager who was perceived as undermined and a manager who limped back to Boston nursing the wounds of a two-year stint in Toronto that was both underwhelming and disconcerting.

I haven't even read this article yet (starting doing this breakdown without reading because I knew from the headline that it was going to be horrendous), but I'm guess John Farrell gets about 75% of the credit for the fact that the 2013 Red Sox won 28 more games than the 2012 Red Sox.

Together they shared a glittery portfolio, 

What?  Do you know what metaphors are?  Have you ever used them before?

yet they also shared the burden that comes with squandering sustained excellence: something to prove.

This is worse than Mariotti's writing.

That sentiment was also a common thread among the new faces. There was Gold Glove winner Shane Victorino, spurned by his beloved Phillies and swapped to the dysfunctional Dodgers, where Victorino floundered. 

But wait--the 2013 Dodgers had a huge turnaround of their own, after letting Victorino go in the offseason!  How do you explain it--if he was a key missing piece for the 2013 Red Sox, shouldn't the 2013 Dodgers have missed him?  THE NARRATIVE IS FALLING APART ABANDON SHIP

Mike Napoli came as a free agent from Texas, where he batted a paltry .227 the season before. A hip issue nullified his 3-year, $39 million deal, leaving him with a one-year $5 million contract and a resolve to show the Sox he was worth every penny of the original contract.

Yes, he batted a paltry .227 the year before, because his hip was fucked up.  Now it's healthy (although he still only batted a shitty .259, which doesn't matter because batting average is stupid, etc., etc.).

Stephen Drew came in the wake of a lackluster season split between Arizona and Oakland, where he batted .223 with 7 homers and 28 RBIs.

He only had to outperform Mike Aviles.  That's not exactly a high-pressure situation.

GM Ben Cherington said adding personnel that had redemption in mind was not by design; 

Jesus, I hope not.  No GM should be adding personnel with more than a passing thought to whether the players "have redemption in mind."

he was focused on specific skill attributes and players who looked at Boston and "saw it as an opportunity and not a burden.''

I think Cherrington is probably pretty smart, so I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that last part is just a little scrap he threw MacMullen for the sake of her article.  I think roughly 99% of his focus was probably on adding players who are better at baseball than the 2012 players they replaced.

Jonny Gomes was one such player. 

Jonny Gomes is awesome at hitting left handed pitching.  This season, he started in LF against LHPs and played well.  In 2012, the Red Sox LFs were Daniel Nava (nominally a switch hitter but terrible against LHPs throughout his career so far), Scott Podsednik (lefty), Carl Crawford (lefty) and Darnell McDonald (terrible at hitting baseballs under any circumstances).  Gomes made the team better, not because of his vibe, or his will to win, but because of a skill he has.  See how that works?

He said a primary reason he inked with the Sox was the number of accomplished veterans on the roster who were under fire and motivated to re-establish themselves (you can safely assume the 2-year, $10 million contract had something to do with Gomes' decision as well).

Analysis that means nothing, considering pretty much every team in the league has accomplished veterans coming off of a bad year every season (followed by parenthetical with factual information that actually explains why Gomes came to Boston).

"I told my agent, 'Call the Sox. We need to go there,' '' said Gomes. "Because I knew those guys were going to have a huge chip on their shoulder. I knew the way they were going to approach the season, and I wanted to be part of it.''

See, it's not totally fair for me to rake writers like MacMullen over the coals for their shitty writing--the sound bites given by players reinforce this narrative-driven bullshit.  Then again, maybe the players spout narrative-driven bullshit because the writers write about it, so it is the writers' fault after all.  Regardless, I know this much is true: there are very few people in America who can do what Jonny Gomes does better than he can.  There are a whole shitload of people in America who can do what Jackie MacMullen does better than she can.  So I'm going to go ahead and go after the person here who can (and should) be replaced by someone who doesn't peddle this nonsense.

Nobody fit that profile more snugly than Jon Lester, who had morphed from one of the most feared left-handed pitchers in the game to a symbol of everything that was wrong with the Boston Red Sox. Lester was pegged as a card-carrying member of the chicken-and-beer fraternity 

Holy fucking fuckballs.  One of these years, THE JILTED VICTIMS of CHICKEN AND BEER NATION will get over that little gem of a non-story.  We can only hope it's this year.  NEVER FORGET, SOX FANS.  NEVER FORGET.

/Sarah McLachlan plays over slow motion video of Bobby Valentine walking to the mound and taking the ball from Josh Beckett

that contributed to the stunning collapse in 2011. His struggles on the mound continued in 2012, and his career appeared to be at a crossroads.

It appeared to be?  We aren't even sure if we want to use that figure of speech?  Come on Jackie, show some spunk.  Get out there and COMMIT to the idea that Lester's career was at a crossroads.  Also, not to be too factual about any of this, but he did post career highs in BABIP and HR/FB in 2012.  Now I'm not saying that those struggles were entirely due to luck, or that they had nothing to do with whether he liked drinking beer on nights when he wasn't starting during 2011.  I'm just saying they were probably MOSTLY due to luck, and also, that they had not a fucking thing to do with whether he liked drinking beer on nights when he wasn't starting during 2011.

Catcher David Ross came to Fenway last summer with the Atlanta Braves. Lester threw against them on June 22, giving up 10 hits and three runs in seven innings of a 4-1 Sox loss.

"It didn't make sense to me," Ross said. "He was throwing hard, he wasn't injured ... I figured, 'He needs someone to point him in the right direction.' "

Lester went winless in his last five starts and finished with a 9-14 record and a 4.94 ERA.

Another case of players pushing the narratives that writers then push.  Pretty embarrassing for all, really.  Also, how the fuck would a player on another team know whether Lester was injured or not?  Maybe he was.  That's at least one plausible reason why he was so horrible.  His career ERA through 2011 was 3.53.  He was a run and a half worse in 2012, but David Ross said that after seeing Lester once, in a game Ross did not even record a plate appearance, he knew that everything was fine with Lester mechanically.  That's great stuff.  Why is this even in this article?  Is David Ross the only Red Sox player who MacMullen could get ahold of to comment on this story?

When the Red Sox began courting Ross, he inquired about Lester and his ineffectiveness, about Lackey and his surgically repaired arm, about Clay Buchholz and his durability. Farrell said all three needed some mechanical adjustment as well as a reboot mentally.

David Ross, June 2012: "Jon Lester has no mechanical problems."
John Farrell, to David Ross, 2012-2013 offseason: "Jon Lester needs some mechanical adjustments."
David Ross, to Jackie MacMullen, September 2013: "The problem with Lester was that he needed someone to point him in the right direction."

Maybe by "point him in the right direction," Ross meant literally, as in make an adjustment to point his body in the right direction while he pitches.  Pro athletes are fucking idiots.

"The first time I caught Lester's bullpen, I told him, 'Hey man, when your ball is up, it's flat. When it's down in the zone, it jumps out of your hand,' " said Ross.

Lester listened closely. Ross found him to be earnest, disciplined and humble.

Why, what a coincidence!  That's EXACTLY how stuffy old white dudes who read the work of writers like Jackie MacMullen like their athletes to be!

"I caught him in spring training and he threw five innings of no-hit ball," Ross said. "I went back and told my buddies, 'We've got nothing to worry about.' ''

"After he dominated the Mets' AAA lineup, I knew it was going to be an awesome season."

Indeed, what was overlooked amid the bitterness toward the downtrodden 2012 Sox was the one undeniable mantra in baseball: Pitching cures all.

Easy now.  We're starting to drift into the world of real, actual analysis.  Let's get back to the narrative soon please.

Lackey, who was recovering from Tommy John surgery, rededicated himself to his craft and reported to camp with a svelte physique


and a steady diet of rejuvenated fastballs and sliders.

Lackey insists he did "nothing different, nothing special" in preparation for 2013.

"Everything is a little overblown here,'' Lackey said. "We've got guys who have done it for a long time with a pretty good track record.

Wow, that's pretty levelheaded analysis from a guy who looks like a caveman.  Putting aside inappropriate remarks about Lackey's physical appearance, I'm glad SOMEone quoted in this article is here to tell us "Yeah, it's not that big of a deal, we kind of had a down year in 2012, but we knew we'd play better in 2013."

"People were giving Lester hell, and he had the best winning percentage in the history of baseball. That's kind of ridiculous.''

OH NOEZ PITCHING WINZ IS BAD STATISTIC.  But he's got a point anyways.

Yet Cherington, born and raised in New England, 


understood exactly where the criticism stemmed from.

The fact that Lester pitched like ass in 2012?

"When a pitching staff performs the way ours did last year and the end of the previous season, 


I think it's more than fair to critique and to have a skeptical eye,'' Cherington said. "We knew we needed to be better. We knew we had the pieces, but there were certain technical things that needed to be rectified, as well as other issues.

Things Cherington didn't name: a need for more players with something to prove.

"What John and his staff have done so well is … [they have] allowed everyone's energy to be focused on the field. It sounds easy in December, but it's harder to implement during a long season," Cherington said.

"It's had a great impact on the team, to have all our mental energy focused in a productive way.''

Again, hoping this was just Cherington throwing MacMullen a bone.  Although now I'm not so sure.

Ross picked up on the "redeem team" vibe from the moment he stepped into the clubhouse.

Whew!  Enough actual analysis; let's get back to the VIBE.

"There was a whole lot of motivation in this room,'' Ross concurred. "Lester had something to prove. Lackey did too -- big time. Buchholz, even Pedey... 

I assume that's Pedroia but it's kind of hard to tell.  Also, when written that way (and when said out loud, given the most likely pronounciation), it makes their second baseman sound like a sex criminal.

when I got here, Dustin told me, 'I've never been on a losing team in my whole life.' He took it personally. He was going to do something about it.''

2012 Pedroia: 114 OPS+, 4.9 WAR
2013 Pedroia: 116 OPS+, 6.5 WAR

Sounds like he did something about it to the tune of helping the 2012 team win 71 games rather than 69, had he performed then like he did in 2013.

Pedroia bombarded Farrell daily with texts, emails and phone calls. He made suggestions on everything from personnel to locker placements.

The personnel suggestions, cool, that's what a team leader should do.  He shouldn't be overruling the manager or anything, but I can see the value in him making pinch hitting suggestions and the like.  Locker placements?  This is more worthless bullshit that only idiot readers will latch onto.  IT WAS THE LOCKAHS!  THAT WAS THE PROBLEM IN 2012!  GOOD THING PEDEY FIXED THAT!

Look, you get the gist of this, and it's not like it's going in a different direction before it wraps up.  I'm not going to write about the rest of it, but here's some of the non-analysis, idiot fan catnip, and narrative-based bullshit that I skipped over:

"All I know,'' said Pedroia shortly after his new manager was hired, "is when John Farrell walks into our clubhouse, everyone listens.''

This means literally nothing.

Gomes is a huge Farrell backer but concedes, "John is a great guy, but I don't want to talk about pitching all day. He does.''

Idiot fan catnip.  What fan wants to read that their team's coach/manager likes relaxing and spending time with his family, even if that's true for most of coaches/managers?

"When I'm talking to my manager, I feel like I am talking to my brother,'' Ortiz said.  "I don't want to talk about last year. That is in the past. I want to talk about here -- now.

Big Papi with an all time classic worthless cliche.

The "Farrell Factor,'' as Larry Lucchino coined it, has positioned the Red Sox as one of the favorites to win the World Series. 

Managers don't do that much.

When the Red Sox dealt malcontents Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Josh Beckett last summer,

I included this just because it's an unnecessary pot shot on Gonzalez and Crawford.  I don't think anyone has ever called either of them a malcontent.  I know some fans in New England have called Crawford other words that are not nice to call someone, but I really think it's irresponsible to lump those two guys in with known asshole Beckett.

"Think about Toronto this year. Everyone was wrong. You truly can't predict results solely on talent -- not in this game.


"But there's something to be said for 25 guys with one goal -- that's winning. 

Gomes with another great cliche combined with some worthless non-analysis.

They have survived the loss of not one, not two, but three relievers. 

Oh dear me!  However did they endure a whole season with THREE injuries to the most easily replaced of players?  I'm surprised they even played all 162 games, let alone won the division.  They should get a parade no matter what happens in the postseason.

They have forged on even though their sellout streak came to a halt and paying customers still aren't quite "all-in." 

Well duh they're not all in, it's been 6 years since the Red Sox won a World Series.  What, you want them to be passionate about a team of LOOZAHS?

They grow beards and wear matching stars-and-stripes boxers and enjoy baseball so much, they've been compared to the 2004 "Idiots" of World Series fame, which is the ultimate Boston compliment.

I hope no Boston team ever wins another game, ever again, ever.