Thursday, January 29, 2015

This blog has always been known for its timely analysis

Which is why, per a request in an Anonymous comment from almost two weeks ago, I'm covering ESPN's Jackie MacMullan's SCORCHING HOT TAEK regarding The Incident from the AFC Championship Game Wherein the Patriots Were Found to be Using Underinflated Footballs.  That is my super clever and catchy name for this "scandal."  I hope you enjoy it.  I couldn't think of anything shorter, or involving the suffix -gate or a reference to a political "scandal" from the last couple years involving an embassy in Libya.

By the way, let me also be abundantly clear about one thing: while I despise the Patriots, I don't give a flying rat's cunt about this whole thing.  I just can't bring myself to care.  The Patriots were obviously the best team in the AFC from Halloween onward.  Beyond that, as that awesome story Brad Johnson told about paying guys off to tamper with the game balls before the Raiders-Bucs Super Bowl demonstrates, this shit probably happens all the time.  Honestly: who really gives a fuck?  Fuck the Patriots, fuck the NFL, and most of all, fuck the 24 hour sports news cycle that's obsessed with the NFL.  Now let's go out there and write this dumb post.

We don't know for certain yet whether Bill Belichick had anything to do with the deflation of 11 of the 12 footballs 

This was just another asinine facet to this whole thing--the repeated reporting that it was 11 of 12 footballs.  Not all the footballs.  Not almost all the footballs.  Not all but one.  Not "The Patriots were using a large number of underinflated balls."  No--let me break out my Easterbrook impersonation and point out that 11 out of 12 is HYPERSPECIFIC and we don't need that much fucking information.  Again, this is what happens when an NFL non-story breaks during Pro Bowl weeks.  Sure, there are dozens of NBA and NHL games going on, but we need the Bottom Line ticker to let us know exactly what fraction of the balls were tampered with.  I swear, the retards who inhabit this country love the NFL so much you could get great ratings on a 30 minute show that was just Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen going back and forth about what their sources have told them about that 12th ball that was actually within the league's rules.

the New England Patriots used in their trouncing of the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Championship Game. In fact, we may never know.

We sure won't.  Because this will all be forgotten about about four seconds after the Super Bowl kicks off.

Regardless of what the league determines, the Patriots' coach already has been declared guilty in the court of public opinion, 

By the way, as we go through this piece, you'll discover that Jackie Mac says the league should come down HAHHHHHD on the Pats if they are guilty.  This is a hot taek in so many ways-- 1) she all but conceded in her first three sentences that we'll never really know, therefore more or less saying that there shouldn't be any stiff punishment, but even better, 2) anyone who has seen her on PTI knows that just like every other knuckle-dragging sportswriter from New England, she's an unashamed homer who wears her Pats-loving heart on her sleeve.  Meaning, of course, that this whole article is really just a trolling of other Pats fans who she knows will be totally offended by her position, thus generating BUZZ and CONTROVERSY and PAGEVIEWS.  Somewhere, Mark Shapiro is smiling and nodding.

his football brilliance superseded only by his football arrogance.

Such a deft juxtaposition.  Someone give this woman her own TV show.

Consider this tweet from Hall of Famer Jerry Rice:

11 of 12 balls under-inflated can anyone spell cheating!!! Saying

First of all, Jerry, ask your kids about how hashtags work.  (Lol!  Old people am I right?!)  Second of all, wow, blazing taek right there.  Thanks for the input.

Rice has no skin in New England's game. 

Incredible analysis here.  "This is a very simple  story, but it is also a huge story in the world of the NFL.  Here's someone from that world who has no connection to the Patriots, AND HE'S WEIGHING IN ON THE STORY WITH HIS VERY BASIC OPINION.  Marvel at it, everyone."

He's not a former Raven or Colt, although he did play his final season in Seattle. 

If you see some hipster kid this weekend with a bad mustache, a SuperSonics hat and a Jerry Rice Seahawks jersey, punch him in the face for me please.

He is a football legend with an impeccable résumé and he won't be the first or last to cast aspersions on the football team in Foxborough, Massachusetts.

Again, here's Jackie: "Note that this person has an opinion.  Really makes you think, doesn't it?"

On the surface, knowingly tampering with footballs just minutes before (or during?) the AFC Championship Game in which your team is heavily favored seems, in the words of former Patriots safety Rodney Harrison, "laughable.''

Yeah, there's a guy who knew how to cheat the RIGHT way.  None of this getting caught for him, at least for most of his career.

It is also incredibly audacious, stupid and paranoid.

This was a single sentence paragraph in the article as published.

Bill Plaschke demands his royalty check.

Also, if the Patriots did this on purpose, it's a lot of things.

But I'm pretty sure it wasn't fueled by paranoia.

It's almost as ludicrous as videotaping the defensive signals of opposing teams after the league sent a memo specifically forbidding the practice and warning there would be serious repercussions if the decree was ignored.

This is more catnip thrown by a New Englander at all the Massholes out there reading this on their phones during their lunch break at the tuna cannery.  "Hey everyone... remember when the Patriots cheated this other time?  That got you good and riled up I'll bet.  Mmm hmm."

Spygate, Deflategate. Connect the dots and it appears to be more of the same, a haughty coach obsessed with winning who will do anything to get an edge -- and will gleefully tweak the league office in the process.

Fuck Belichick, but the guy has balls.  I'm almost starting to like him.

Therein lies Belichick's problem. A man who has made football his life's work, whose reverence for the game and its history is well-documented, 

I love the idea that doing anything to win is somehow not in alignment with loving the game and knowing about its history.  Why, it's almost like he wants to win so he can be a part of that history some day!  Madness!

has forever forfeited the benefit of the doubt when it comes to his own integrity. 

Guarantee you he doesn't give a shit.

Earlier this month, 85-year-old Don Shula, the winningest coach in NFL history and the only one to oversee an undefeated season, 


with the Miami Dolphins in 1972, 

Oh, is that when it was?  I'm only reminded of that every goddamn 10 minutes during all NFL broadcasts in October/November when there are only a couple of undefeated teams left.

was asked about New England's coach. The congenial Shula replied: "Beli-cheat?"


It spoke volumes about the perception of New England's resident football genius. Shula is a man of character and credibility. 

Oh my God.  Holy shit.  No, he's not.  He's not Teddy Roosevelt.  He's not Roberto Clemente.  He's just a guy who was an awesome football coach a while ago.  Of COURSE he's going to shit on Belichick.  That's what all retired legends in every field do when asked about the then-current legends in the making in that field.

His words hold weight, far more than a blustery Ray Lewis embarking on a rant dismissing Tom Brady's career because of the tuck rule. That made no sense and had no merit.

Hahahahha.  I didn't hear that.  That's pretty great, though.  Good for Ray.  I like that taek.

This deflation controversy is a different case altogether. 

Right--one is a case of potential circumvention of league rules.  The other is a case where the league's referees probably did correctly enforce the league's rules, even though those rules are terrible.  Where am I going with this contrast?  I don't know, but fuck Tom Brady.

The Colts became suspicious about the footballs and asked the referees to check them during the game. An investigation was launched, and there is tangible evidence the balls were inflated 2 pounds per square inch below what the league mandates.


Obviously there are myriad unanswered questions. Were the balls properly checked by the officials before the game? Who monitored the Patriots' footballs on the sideline? When, if at all, were the balls that appeared underinflated then discarded or re-inflated? Is there any tangible evidence that someone on New England's sideline tampered with the balls?

That last one is a pretty relevant question, which I hate to admit, because the other three are so mind-numbingly stupid and 24 hour news cycle-y that I want to throw myself down a flight of stairs.  WHEN WERE THE BALLS UN-INFLATED OR RE-INFLATED OR SOMETHING?  WHAT WAS THE NAME OF THE COW THAT THE BALLS WERE EVENTUALLY MADE OUT OF?

Let's dispatch one ridiculous notion: The deflated balls are not why the Patriots are playing in the Super Bowl next weekend. New England completely dismantled Indianapolis in -- as a certain coach likes to say -- every phase of the game.

A little nod and a wink to those Masshole ESPN readers I've been talking about.  "Hey, just so you guys know, I love Belichick and the Pats just as much as you do.  Stay with me here, I'm just trying to get paid."

In a perfect football world, the Patriots 

would not exist, or would go 0-16 every year.

would be riding high in the wake of a surge of creativity that has set them apart in recent weeks.

Nope, I like mine better.

The Brady-to-Edelman-to-Amendola touchdown, the four-offensive-linemen formation and the touchdown pass to tackle Nate Solder were all evidence that New England had rediscovered its innovative, edgy persona.

Hey, cheating is often innovative and edgy too.  Let's not rule out the possibility of having it both ways.

Why can't the coach trust his players' talents and his own intellect and lean on the excellence of the organization 

Fuck the organization and fuck Bob Kraft.  There is no Patriot Way.  It's a fucking team, and it will employ cheaters and murderers just as readily as any other team.  It's had a lot of success recently because of Belichick and Brady.  If those two guys died in their sleep tonight, they'd lose the Super Bowl by 30 and be irrelevant for the next 15 years.  Let's stop patting "the organization" on the back for having generational talents (one of whom they stumbled ass-backwards into employing) holding the two most important jobs on a football team.

he has so painstakingly built into a sustainable football juggernaut? 

Because he likes winning.  Article over.

It's like a prizefighter pummeling his opponent for six straight rounds, then feeling compelled to throw a sucker punch after the bell has sounded. Why? You had the fight won.

No, it's really more like a prizefighter paying someone to poison his opponent's food before the bout even though the opponent was much weaker to begin with.  See how my analogy works and yours is terrible?

I'll say it again: There's no concrete evidence yet that Belichick or the Patriots did anything wrong. 

Yeah, we got it.  Thanks.

But even the most ardent New England fan has to concede that when 11 of the 12 balls are discovered to be deflated, that's a mighty interesting coincidence.

You're doing that thing that all bad sportswriters do where you just start wandering off and either restating your old points or not making any new ones.  Just finish up already.

If the NFL finds the Patriots culpable (and that is still a big "if" at this point),


it should lay the hammer down. If Belichick turns out to be a repeat offender in the skirting of the league rules, he should be suspended for the Super Bowl.


It's not about the deflated balls. It's not about how much of an advantage (if any) it provided the Patriots or Tom Brady.

Actually, had that laughably impossible outcome occurred, it would have been about exactly that advantage.  What the hell else would it be about?  The Patriots having insulted the league's officially licensed ball and pump manufacturers?

It's about the integrity of the sport 


The integrity of the NFL


That's wonderful

I'm crying

and the arrogance of a football coach who, if guilty, will have once again shown that he thinks he is bigger than the game.

Well, he probably does think that, and it's probably true.

For years the Patriots have fostered an "Us Against the World" mentality, whether real or manufactured (usually it was the latter).

It's always the latter.  Drew Magary put it best in his Deadspin weekly column today: "The world doesn’t give a shit. Most of the world is just trying to fucking eat. Some farmer in Burundi isn’t gonna be like, “The Pats won? Well, they showed me!”"  I don't adore Magary like some do (enough about your goddamn kids, holy shit, enough), but that's a pretty great line.

No one was better at inventing slights to motivate his team than Harrison, who is convinced Belichick and the Patriots will utilize the furor surrounding this controversy to their advantage.

No they won't.  That is a dumb, cliched narrative.  They will instead just ignore it and go out and try to outplay Seattle, same as they would have if the big story this week was that Spygate was a complete invention by the league and never happened.

"I can tell you, this is the last thing Seattle needs,'' Harrison said recently. "Those guys in that New England locker room are pumped. After all the hard work they've put in, after all they've accomplished, after all they've done, to have people doubt them?

Fuck yourself, Rodney.

"They're taking that stuff personally. They're fired up. Add the fact Seattle was favored in the Super Bowl, and look out.''

Yeah, and almost immediately after the books opened, the line swung around to favor New England, where it has stayed.  THAT'S THE LAST THING THE PATRIOTS NEED.  THE SEAHAWKS ARE PISSED OFF.  IT'S THEM AGAINST THE WORLD.

He's right. There's nothing like controversy to band a team together and provide them with the extra resolve to prove their detractors wrong.

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz God I hate football culture and the journalists who enable it.

But here's the hitch: Even if the Patriots beat the Seahawks 60-0 in Super Bowl XLIX, the win will be declared a tainted one by many. 

I know, it's going to be so fun to use this complete non-story as ammunition against dumb Patriots fans for decades to come.  "Sure, eventually they won another Super Bowl without being able to illegally tape other teams' practices, but that's only because they found a DIFFERENT way to cheat.  Smh."  (Last part should only be used if you are giving your snarky anti-Patriots hot taek in an online environment.)  Seriously, it's going to be great.

The noise will continue, and the chants of "Beli-cheat" will endure.

As they should, as long as we all promise to brainstorm a better and more insulting nickname.

The coach probably won't care, but it's not just his legacy that will be stained. His players also are saddled with the perception that something far more unseemly than their preparation and sacrifice were the reasons for their success.

I'm sure they'll really care while admiring their Super Bowl rings and cashing their bonus checks.

And that's the most deflating reality of all.

OH WOW.  I spent all this time making fun of this article, and then she drops a KILLER closing line on me.  God, I look like a fool now.  Should have just turned this post into a bunch of deflated/soft/mishandled balls (haha balls) jokes.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Murray Chass opines about the HOF results; is an ass

Well first of all, let me cram my fucking foot as far into my mouth as I can get it re: Simmons.  He only went 2-2 straight up in picking the divisional games last weekend, but he went 3-1 against the spread.  And much more importantly from the perspective of me and this angry blog, 1) he nailed his prediction for the GREATriots, correctly picking them to not cover but advance (in a game they really should have lost), and even better, 2) the one game he missed against the spread, and completely whiffed on straight up, was the Denver-Indy game.  As I've probably made clear, I'm a Denver fan.  So that was a really fun little cherry on top of a shit sports weekend.  MAYBE THEY LOST BECAUSE BILL JINXED THEM IN SAYING THEY'D WIN EASILY.  THAT MUST BE IT.  WHAT OTHER EXPLANATION IS THERE?  DAMN YOU SIMMONS YOU HAVE FOILED PEYTON AGAIN!  Anyways, fuck the Patriots and fuck John Fox.  I now hate all four teams remaining in the playoffs, but I hate the Patriots most of all, so besides go meteor, go Colts, I guess.  The good news is that if they move on, Seattle is going to toast them in the Super Bowl.  I hope.  MAYBE.

Moving along to things that make me slightly less angry, HOF voters managed to not totally fuck the dog, in electing four very deserving members to Cooperstown last week.  I mean, they still blew the dog and/or jerked off the dog by leaving Piazza and Bagwell out, but this was progress.  What does Murray Chass think about all this?  Caution: HOT TAEKS ahead.

As Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa sink slowly in tandem toward steroids oblivion, reprising their relationship in their electrifying home run derby of 1998 but in a different direction, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens run slowly in place, doomed to their personal Groundhog Day in baseball cleats. 

Or so Murray hopes.  He's already reneged on this promise, and I'm going to guess the reason is so that he can help continue to keep CHEATING CHEATERS who CHEAT and are BAD PEOPLE out of the Hall.  We'll know in a decade or so whether he succeeded.

Mike Piazza, meanwhile, is very likely headed, undeserved as it may be, 


to having the last laugh on his nemesis Clemens.

I'm surprised he admits defeat in his quest to keep Piazza unenshrined.

That, in brief, sums up my view of the results of this year’s voting for the Hall of Fame, 

I like how his view is entirely focused on five dudes who didn't get elected.  He doesn't give a shit about baseball greatness--he's just in it for the witch hunting.

[Dumb summary of the vote totals of McGwire and Sosa, who are TOTALLY GETTING WHAT THEY HAD COMING TO THEM MUHAHAHAHAHA ALL IS RIGHT WITH THE WORLD, omitted]

Bonds and Clemens aren’t in danger of falling off the face of the earth, but they aren’t in danger either of reaching the doors of the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.  Voters have been remarkably consistent in their treatment of the pair. In their first two years on the ballot, Bonds and Clemens each received votes in the mid-30 percent, and that’s precisely where they wound up this week, 36.8 percent for Bonds, 37.5 percent for Clemens.  Each actually went up 2.1 percent, but with seven more chances, at that rate they won’t very likely get where they want to go.

I don't know--every year the electorate gets a little less curmudgeonly as people like Chass retire or die and are replaced by younger voters who are less likely to be fucking stupid.  I'm not aware of (nor could I find) any public opinion polls about how the baseball-following public generally feels about the Steroid Era, but I would wager that attitudes towards the accomplishments of its most accomplished players soften every year.  It sucks for Bonds and Clemens that they are victims of the reduced number of years on the ballot rule that was recently adopted, but I am still hopeful they both get elected (assholes though they are).

By the way, Chass's moralizing got even funnier this week when this news broke, which should remind everyone that not only does the HOF contain horrible shitty people, but it contains other people, like MacPhail, who are also guilty of compromising the integrity of the game.  That second fact is important, because of course the stock comeback from dipshits like Chass when you point out that Ty Cobb was a racist and an asshole and he's in the Hall so why shouldn't Bonds be is "But what Bonds did WAS AN AFFRONT TO BASEBALL ITSELF."  Even if that argument is granted, segregationists like MacPhail actively worked to block talented players from entering MLB for decades, and thus robbed fans of watching exciting players and better teams.  Just food for thought next time you read some asswiping-worthy scree about Bonds or Clemens.

There would seem to be a hardcore group of voters and no one else who ignore the steroids/HGH elements of their careers and believe Bonds and Clemens belong in the Hall of Fame even if they cheated and used illegal substances.

They've only been on the ballot three years, and those were three very crowded ballots.  I'd wager they start trending up next year, when the only sure thing new arrival is Griffey.

What puzzles me is the different vote totals for the pair. If a writer opts to ignore the cheating aspects of their careers, why doesn’t he or she vote for both? 

He actually did a piece on this, which I'm not going to link to and didn't read, because after reading a brief excerpt on HardballTalk my head almost exploded.  Go check it out if you want to read things that really dumb people think.

Yet this year 206 voted for Clemens, 202 for Bonds. Does that mean four voters have a different reason for believing that Bonds doesn’t belong in the Hall?

BBWA members are among the biggest cuntswabbers on earth.  I don't think a little inconsistency among their voting preferences for steroid era guys is anything to be surprised by.

Tim Raines’ vote total also was cause for excitement for some analysts. The outfielder went from 46.1 percent to 55.0, but a year ago he tumbled from 52.2 to 46.1. He has two more chances.

The departure of fringe guys like him from the ballot (even though he might get replaced by Jim Edmonds or Trevor Hoffman, who I think should be out and in, respectively) should also help Bonds and Clemens eventually.

I think the primary reason for the excitement for both Schilling and Raines was that they rank high on the lists of the practitioners of the monster metrics, 

Monster metrics?  That's actually a really cool and non-pejorative sounding name for it.  What happened to calling advanced stats "FWARP, GORP, and other made up computer numbers for nerds in their parents' basements"?

who seemed to be thrilled that the writers were finally starting to get it right where those two players are concerned.

Imagine that--the people who like analyzing baseball using the modern tools that EVERY MLB team are now using (at least to some extent--looking at you, Diamondbacks) to evaluate players would like HOF voters to follow in the steps of those teams.  You know, the ones with huge financial stakes in the success or failure of their franchises.  The ones who are generally (not always, but generally) the right entities to look to if you want to know how people are figuring out which baseball players are good.  Funny that.

Interestingly, while watching one of those shows, I saw a film clip from another show, in which Brian Kenny of was arguing with Chris Russo, a talk show host, about which players belong in the Hall of Fame.

Chris "Mad Dog" Russo probably has a hard time tying his shoes and remembering his own birthday.  You do not want to be on his side in an argument, Murray.

Getting nowhere and becoming exasperated with Russo, Kenny, a major proponent of monster metrics, said, “Well, what basic methodology do you use to rate players?”

“I watch the games,” Russo said.

Really?  Do you watch ALL the games?  Would you vote for Raines for the HOF?  Why or why not?  How many of his games have you seen?  He played in over 2500 of them.  He had many 4 and 5 hit nights.  I'm sure he also had plenty of nights with no hits and an error or 2.  How would you know how good he really was unless you watched a statistically significant number of games from throughout every phase of his career, which I'm sure you haven't done?  Needless to say, "analysts" like Mad Dog should be punched in the face and then sent to live somewhere in Montana with no phone or internet service.

I have always avoided listening to Russo, who screams too much and too loud for my liking, 

Yes!  He's going to reach the conclusion that he and Russo have more in common than he originally thought, without realizing that the reason for that is they are both fucking morons!  Yes!

but in this instance, he won my allegiance. In four words, he made the case for those of us who prefer to judge players on what we see on the field, not on the computer screen.

It's glorious!  I told you that was about to happen!  I hope you believed me!

How should we judge Piazza, whose 69.9 percent puts him on the brink of walking into the Hall a year from now? Based on that vote, most writers don’t believe or even suspect that he used steroids. That is probably naïve of them.

One very vocal blogger named Murray Chass is utterly convinced that Piazza used steroids with only the most pathetic and flimsy evidence available to support this position.  That is probably fucking unprofessional and horrid of him.

Using the New York newspapers as a barometer, the New York Post’s Mike Vaccaro wrote a column about Piazza in which he didn’t mention even the possibility of the catcher’s use of performance-enhancing drugs. 


If he doesn’t believe Piazza used them, why didn’t Vaccaro write that the accusations are baseless?

Oh my God.  If that alone doesn't raise your blood pressure a few points, this blog is not for you.  I want to go kick a tree after reading that.  It's so insanely idiotic.  THE PERSON WHO BLOGGED THAT LAST SENTENCE GETS A HALL OF FAME VOTE.  HOLY JESUS CHRIST ON A FERRIS WHEEL.  WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH THIS PROCESS?

John Harper of the Daily News did not duck the issue.

Get ready for some courageous truth bombs!

“The problem is we can’t know for sure and there was so much whispering about Piazza and PEDs during his career that you can’t help but have at least some reservations about voting for him.

If you're dumb, yes.

“I heard some of it myself over the years from people in baseball, but in the end I don’t think it’s fair to deny a player the highest honor in baseball without more proof than there is on Piazza.

“So after withholding my vote for his first year of eligibility, as a statement of sorts on all the suspicion, I’ve voted for him the last two years. And it seems there are other voters taking a similar tack, feeling more compelled to vote for Piazza with each year that passes.”

This is what progress looks like in the BWAA.  I'd like to say mean things about John Harper, but you know what, the BWAA needs more John Harpers.  So I'll let it slide.

Harper quoted from Piazza’s 2013 autobiography, which in itself was controversial. 

No way!  I'm sure that had nothing to do with the publisher's desire to sell books!

Michael Bamberger, a fine writer from Philadelphia, was originally going to collaborate on the book with Piazza, but he withdrew from the project when Piazza declined to commit to being forthcoming about steroids.

Michael Bamberger is not solely a sportswriter, and when he does write about sports, he is a fucking golf writer.  As far as baseball is concerned, fuck him and fuck any opinions or suspicions he had or has.

When Piazza was writing the book with Lonnie Wheeler, I asked their Simon & Schuster editor if Piazza would include steroids in it. He said Piazza would cover the subject. He, of course, did not admit to using PEDs, saying training and diet were responsible for his bigger, more muscular body.

WHY DIDN'T HE JUST DENY IT IF HE HAS NOTHING TO oh wait, that's what he did.

Had he acknowledged a use of PEDs, he would have killed his chances of making the Hall of Fame, which he desperately wanted to do and now is in position to do.

Conclusion: If Murray Chass says a guy used steroids based solely on Murray claiming that guy had back acne at one point, from that point on we can't trust anything the guy says, because the guy is obviously lying about those steroids he obviously took.  Makes sense.

The New York Times mentioned Piazza and steroids in the same story, and that was by far my favorite. On at least two occasions, maybe three, during Piazza’s years with the New York Mets (1998-2005), 

Glad to hear you're super sure about how this all went down.

as a baseball writer and columnist for The New York Times, I wanted to write about Piazza and the possibility that he had used steroids.

I wonder what Piazza did to Chass to put Chass on this stupid crusade?  My guess: failed to give Chass a juicy quote for a story and brushed him off because he needed to be at some stupid charity event when Chass REALLY was running up against deadline.

However, I was told I could not because Piazza hadn’t tested positive for steroids use and hadn’t been named anywhere as a suspected user.


An article in the Times Wednesday cited Piazza’s 427 career home runs and .308 batting average and said, “Those are standout numbers. But in an era in which the voting is shadowed by baseball’s entanglement with steroids, Piazza has suffered from the perception, among some writers, that he might have been a user, although no evidence has emerged that he was.”

Subtext: some writers (by which I mean bloggers like Murray Chass) are unprofessional fuckheads who should never be listened to.

The article was written by Jay Schreiber, who was the editor who said I couldn’t write about Piazza and steroids.

And then, like his previous post I wrote about last month, the blog post just ends.  Was that supposed to be a SPINE TINGLING conclusion or something?  MY GOD.  JAY SCHREIBER SEEMS NOT TO HAVE CHANGED HIS POSITION ON FLIMSY STEROID ACCUSATIONS AT ALL.  CONNECT THE DOTS YOU FOOLS!  IT'S ALL RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU!  

Murray Chass is a fundamentally bad person.  Do not be like him.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Seems like the "wrongest thing that has ever been said about baseball" label could use another entry

Guys. Guys.  GUYS.  Fellow bloggers and baseball fans. Listen up. All of the Hall of Fame stuff you've read these last few weeks is great.  You've read about backne and BALCO and bWAR, but you don't realize that there's one simple fact out there that shows how bad HOF voting is bad. Good thing there's writer Chris Smith to point it out for us.  I won't discuss the whole article because you know the boring parts about Bonds and Clemens, but here's the crux of it:

There are plenty of arguments to be made about what’s wrong with the Hall of Fame, but there may be no simpler example of just how messed up the current format is than this one simple fact: Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens received a different number of votes. This year Clemens received 206 votes, or 37.5% of the total, while Bonds got 202 votes (36.8%). That marks the third straight year that this has happened. In 2013, Clemens received 214 votes (37.6%) to 206 votes (36.2%) for Bonds; last year Clemens again outpaced Bonds, 202 (35.4%) to 198 (34.7%).

So guys: Chris Smith has disovered the one simple fact that shows how bad this voting is. The fact here isn't that the best-hitting catcher in baseball history wasn't elected, or that two writers actually (actually!) voted for one-time all-star Aaron Boone, two voted for one-time AL saves leader Tom Gordon, and one for this guy.  Heck, I would argue that it's more of a travesty that 15 actual human beings returned ballots that apparently did not vote for a guy who won four straight Cy Youngs and has the second-most strikeouts in baseball history.  OR that 49 actual human beings did vote for a guy with the highest ERA+ of any starting pitcher in history.

Apparently the real problem is that three writers, for some reason, don't believe that Bonds and Clemens have exactly the same steroid resume.  But you know - there's a lot of gray area there. In fact, Mr. Smith even acknowledges that Clemens was found not guilty of perjury and the charges againstn Bonds were dropped.  Maybe someone out there has a slightly different view of the evidence in these cases. That seems a lot more plausible than the terrible voting decisions I pointed out last paragraph, all of which are grounds for some justice.

Anyways, thanks for the enlightenment, Mr. Smith. Armed with this one simple fact, I will now go to the BBWAA and they will recognize the error of their ways, reform the voting system to be a beacon of justice and fairness and the American Way. 

Now that that's said, I also happen to think that John Smoltz should've been like a sixth-ballot Hall of Famer.  Has there ever been another guy whose HOF candidacy was indirectly boosted by an injury that forced him to switch positions and generate an unusual stat line?  But that's for some other post.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Bill's momentum keeps on rolling, right into the playoffs

First of all, I guess everyone is saying this but I might as well too: rest in peace Stu Scott.  I'd be lying if I said I thought he was the greatest, or if I tried to pretend like I never wrote anything mean about him on this blog.  But when push comes to shove, he was an entertaining dude who made sports fun.  That's all that really matters.

With that out of the way, let's get back to the important task of hating everything.  I'll comment more about the Hall of Fame election next week, and how dumb it is that Piazza and Bagwell are still not and (and not even good bets to make it next year--watch the voters only put in Griffey and no one else).

For now, though, let's get back to sports gambling savant Bill Simmons, who has a well-refined manifesto that is perfectly internally consistent, and who is apt at spotting a Vegas line that is a point too high or too low.  I lost track of his total numbers, but when we last left him a month ago, I had him at 59-61 plus some pushes.  He claimed at the end of last week's wild card round picks that he finished the regular season at 101-93 (after subtracting out the perfect 58-0 score he gave himself for the time he was suspended).  Something went awry in there, because at that time there were only four regular season weeks left for the NFL, and he has himself having picked roughly 75 games, or roughly 19 per week.  I dunno.  I'm not going to check his work, I'm just going to reiterate that he's a fucking dumbshit, and let him back that up as I analyze his wild card picks below.  He did the never-entertaining "Things about both teams that could make you regret picking them" format, and I'm commenting just on his logic for the teams that ended up winning, because, come on, isn't it great that when he publishes a set of picks in that format he's spoon feeding us a well-developed line of idiotic thinking that, if he followed it while placing bets, could have him going 0-for on the week?

He went 1-3 against the spread and 2-2 straight up.  THANKS FOR THE FREE MONEY, VEGAS!

PANTHERS (-6.5) over Cardinals

Obviously the only one he got right against the spread.

Why You Eventually Regretted Taking the Panthers: You laid nearly a touchdown with a lame division champ that went 64 days between wins. 

Against a team starting Ryan Lindley on the road.  (Really, I could just copy and paste that sentence for all of his comments about this game, but I'll get creative and actually mention other stuff as well.)

You backed a 7-8-1 team with the 25th DVOA over an 11-5 team with the 22nd overall DVOA. 

Don't those rankings show that the Cardinals were even more flagrant overachievers than the Panthers?  The Panthers probably would have been a 4-12 team in most other divisions, but cripes, the Cardinals were really only a 5-11 or 6-10 team themselves.  At least the Panthers didn't really have an identity crisis.  I'm sure they're aware their season sucked.

You got too carried away with an end-of-the-season winning streak over four teams that finished a combined 22-42. 

I don't think anyone who took the Panthers was really that enthralled with that winning streak.  But they might have been pretty interested in the way the Cardinals fell apart in November and December.

You ignored an old-school Playoff Manifesto Rule: 


“When In Doubt, Check the Coaching Match-ups” (Rivera vs. President-Elect Arians). 

Arians is (supposedly) really good (with the caveat that he doesn't have a huge body of work).  Rivera is definitely nothing special, but he's at least average.  I'm not sure how any of that accounts for Cam Newton vs. Ryan Lindley.

You didn’t see Barnwell’s nugget about how three of the other four “Worst QBs To Start A Playoff Game Since 1972” won those games. 

Oh, Bill has a little Peter King in him these days!  So good to be receiving nuggets from both of them!  I don't know any other method of conveyance of factoids I prefer to nuggets.

You spent too much time worrying about Arizona scoring and not enough time wondering what would happen in a 13-10 game if Cam made one dumb mistake. 

What?  I'm no TMQ, but that's a little hyperspecific for me for the purpose of betting.  "Sure, Newton is a million times better than Ryan fucking Lindley, and the Cardinals are coming apart at the seams, BUT WHAT IF IT'S 13-10 AND NEWTON THROWS A PICK SIX ON 3RD AND 2 FROM THE ARIZONA 27 WITH 4:25 REMAINING?"

Worst of all, you backed the wrong Wonk Team — you thought it was Carolina when it was really Arizona all along.

WONK TEAM!  ANOTHER MANIFESTO WEIRD TRICK THAT SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA MOMS USE TO MAKE THOUSANDS PER WEEK ON THE INTERNET!  "Wonk team" is about as cool as "hoops fan nerdgasm."  Don't say either unless you're super intoxicated or trying to annoy someone.

The Pick: Panthers 23, Cardinals 7

Not bad.  And it's all way, way, way downhill from here.

STEELERS (-3.5) over Ravens

Why You Eventually Regretted Taking the Ravens: You ignored the probability of Baltimore’s putrid secondary getting overpowered by the NFL’s most dangerous passing attack. 

Yeah, maybe Baltimore's secondary wasn't exactly full of A-listers, but they still ended up middle of the pack in most pass defense categories (17th and yards/attempt allowed, 19th in QB rating allowed).  This might have something to do with the fact that they tied for 2nd in sacks.  Hmmm, anyone see Saturday night's game?  Anyone happen to remember if Roethlisberger got his ass handed to himself like seven or eight times?

You mistakenly thought the weather might cripple Pittsburgh’s offense. 


You forgot that the Lewis era officially died in Baltimore when Ed Reed left. 

"I can't possibly pick this 10-6 team that split its two regular season games against their upcoming opponent!  They had two really old HOFers on their team as of two seasons ago, and now they have zero old HOFers!"

You forgot that Baltimore’s offensive line was all kinds of banged up, and that Pittsburgh rushes the passer pretty well. 

Pittsburgh's offensive line was a disaster most of the year, and against the Ravens.  Pittsburgh also finished the season 26th in sacks.

You forgot how scary it was to wager against Big Ben in Big Games unless he’s going against Tim Tebow during the final 15 minutes of Fourth and God. 

I get that Roethlisberger has a good playoff career record (10-4 before this game), but he's also only got 21 TDs against 19 picks in those games, and an 83.3 rating.  His defense has bailed him out big time in some important games, notably Super Bowl XL against the Seahawks, and the 2008 and 2010 AFC championship games.  I think Tebow himself could have probably won all three of those games with the support Roethlisberger got.

You forgot that the Ravens went 4-0 against the NFC South (congratulations!) 

More damning--that, or the fact that the Steelers managed to lose to the Buccaneers at home?

and or that they beat one above-.500 team all season (in Week 2, no less). 

Fair point, but that team was the Steelers.

You forgot about Pittsburgh’s many playmakers, 

With Bell sitting, that list includes Antonio Brown and.... uh....

and you definitely forgot about the great Antonio Brown. 

Who had an amazing highlight-reel game on Sunday Night Football in week 17.  Easy to forget about that.

You forgot that Pittsburgh’s destiny might be taking out Manning on the road as heavy underdogs again, just like it did nine years ago. 

Yeah!  Destiny!  That's how gambling works!

Most of all, you forgot about karma. Was there a better karmic ending to this 2014 Ravens season then “Destroyed by their most hated rival in Round 1?” Of course not.


The Pick: Pittsburgh 37, Baltimore 24


Bengals (+4) over COLTS

Given the way he journalistically fellates Luck (just like pretty much everyone else who writes about the NFL), this pick shocked me.  Was he going for THE DREADED DOUBLE REVERSE JINX to prevent THE FACKIN' PATS from having to face Luck if the Steelers and Colts had both won?  We may never know, but the answer is yes.  I hope the Ravens beat the Patriots by 50 this weekend.

Why You Eventually Regretted Taking the Colts: You forgot that the Colts were 2014’s Good Bad Team; they got destroyed three times in the last nine weeks. 

Not really.  Their game against New England wasn't really an ass kicking.  The Dallas game definitely was, and maybe Pittsburgh too, but the week before the Pittsburgh game they beat the Bengals 27-0, so yeah.

You forgot that Ahmad Bradshaw’s injury created the NFL’s most pathetic running back crew. 

It was pretty crappy even with Bradshaw.  I don't really think Chuck Pagano shit himself when Bradshaw went down, at least not to the same extent Mike Tomlin almost surely did when Bell went down.

You forgot that New England and Dallas ran the ball down Indy’s throat … and Jeremy Hill could do it, too. 


You forgot about the 3.3 percent chance that Jim Irsay would wander onto the field like Shooter in Hoosiers. 

*crickets*  *tumbleweed*

You forgot that Gio Bernard turned into a frightening third-down back. 

Who got way worse from his rookie year to his second year, always a sign of a dangerous player!

You forgot about A.J. Green’s Ewing Theory potential as well as the resulting “Nobody Believes In Us” potential. 


You forgot that Luck throws it up for grabs too much, 

Very true, and also the meanest thing I think I've heard anyone say about Luck in the last five months.  Seriously, the guy gets the kid gloves treatment worse than Jeter did this past summer.

and that Cincy’s excellent secondary loves picking off dumb passes. 

Other secondaries don't do that!  Only Cincy's!

You forgot that Indy’s home-field “advantage” just hadn’t been overpowering, 

Sure, only 19-5 since Luck arrived in 2012.

and that four favorites never cover in Round 1. 

That's a really good point.  Maybe I'll put my money on the Ravens and Lions.

You forgot that Cincy’s overall roster was just better than Indy’s roster. 

Correct.  Also like the 8th most important thing to consider when predicting the winner of a single playoff game.

You forgot that Matt Ryan, Peyton Manning and Randall Cunningham also lost THEIR first three playoff games. 


You forgot that Dalton could destroy Cincy’s postseason without necessarily doing it this weekend.

That's a really good point, if Cincy had won this game, they'd still be playing this coming weekend.  Ppl forget that.

The Pick: Cincinnati 23, Indianapolis 20


COWBOYS (-7) over Lions


Why You Eventually Regretted Taking the Cowboys: Tony Romo. Jason Garrett. Tony Romo AND Jason Garrett. 

Huh?  I know they don't have the best playoff reputation or anything, but Detroit hasn't won a playoff game in decades.

You ignored how Dallas’s biggest strength (running the ball) conflicted with Detroit’s biggest strength (stopping the run). 

Good defense beats good offense, the team with the most playmakers who make plays always wins, and cold coach = victory.  Science.

You laid a touchdown with a crummy defense against a playoff team with multiple big-play weapons. 

That finished 19th in total offense and 22nd in points per game, while playing home games in a dome and with a mostly healthy Calvin Johnson.

You forgot about Megatron. 

No one forgot about Megatron.

You forgot it was Golden Tate’s destiny to have a Revenge Game in Seattle in Round 2. 

Maybe he can still be cut by the Lions and picked up by the Panthers?  It's his destiny!

You forgot that you were backing Jerry Jones in the playoffs, 

Haha, that's like the Romo + Garrett point but on super moron steroids.

that Dallas crowds sucked this season, 

Most NFL crowds suck these days.  The BEANTOWN FAITHFUL weren't exactly all smiles and support back when the Pats looked like assholes in September and early October.

that a worn-down DeMarco Murray had carried the ball 392 times already. 

He went for 100 yards on 20 carries in week 17.  I think it's pretty likely he wears down by, like, 2018.  I don't think it was very likely he'd wear down between week 17 and the wild card round.

You forgot how sad Troy Aikman sounds when he’s announcing a big Cowboys loss. 

*another tumbleweed*  *coyote howls*

You teased the Panthers and Cowboys and stupidly forgot to hedge with Lions +7. 

You're terrible at gambling.  Shut up.

You got a little too excited about Round 2: Romo vs. Rodgers in the Ice Bowl 2.0. 


You forgot about Stafford’s Back Door cover potential. 


And you forgot that (a) Suh’s appeal getting reversed, 

That was odd.

(b) Suh shutting down Dallas’s run game as part of Detroit’s upset victory in Round 1, then (c) Suh signing with the New York Giants in March would be a classic under-25 Cowboys fan trifecta.

THAT'S why it made sense to pick the Lions.  Because Suh might leave Detroit via free agency this spring.

The Pick: Cowboys 33, Lions 14

But the Detroit run defense vs. the Cowboys run offense!  Strength vs. strength!  Oh wait, that's actually how it played out (73 rushing yards for Dallas).  Hmm.  Shit.  This looks kind of dumb when I mock him for explaining why Dallas might not cover, and then they don't even though they win the game.  Maybe when underdogs cover but lose, I should comment on his analysis for the team that COVERED, not the team that won.  Damn.  Well, I'll do it differently for the divisional games.  Go Ravens!