Thursday, June 25, 2009

6 comments Three People Who Can Stare In the Face Of Wrongness And Not Blink

I love the summer but in certain ways I also don't like the summer at all because many writers take a vacation from writing bad journalism and decide to annoy their families while taking an actual vacation. Fortunately two up and coming BoTB favorites are stepping up in the clutch, Tim Keown and Dan McNeil. If you recall, Tim Keown hates Kobe's face and Dan McNeil wanted no part of Cutler in Chicago because he thought Kyle Orton was a better quarterback. I thank them for writing and picking up the slack left by others.

-Let's start first with Tim Keown. ESPN is having some of their Page 2 writers make up "wishes" for sports this week, which is about 1,000,000 times better than "Who's Now" or whatever stupid ass fake competition they have set up, but yet Tim Keown still manages to hate athlete's faces and personalities.

I think basketball -- pro and college combined, if not separately -- possesses a breadth of talent comparable to any era in history. I think baseball players are stronger (I know, I know) and better-conditioned than ever before, and I believe that has created a game that is played at a level of physical (not to be confused with mental) prowess that matches any other time. Football is a slightly different story, at least in the NFL, since I think it's been hijacked by overbearing coaches who follow the latest trend like wild dogs tracking a scent.

I am not 100% sure what Keown is referring to when he says "overbearing coaches who follow the latest trend..." I don't specifically know which coach he is talking about, but NFL coaches have always followed any type of trends that seem to work in helping their team win games. It's not a new development. The 3-4 defense, the forward pass, the 46 defense, the run and shoot offense, the no huddle offense, the West Coast offense, and the running yes, just recently they started following trends in Tim Keown's fictional world.

Today we're wishing, and more than anything in sports today I'm wishing for personality. I'm wishing for guys with something to say and the desire to say it.

I'm tired of everyone in the media getting lathered up over a middle reliever "guaranteeing" a win in an important game. That's not news, and that's not personality.

I truly believe Tim Keown lives in his own fantasy world where middle relievers are guaranteeing victories and the NFL just recently started following trends. The problem is that he is allowing his fictional world to be used for real life examples that just aren't true. When you are trying to write a fact based column it is better to not use fictional examples, it tends to not help prove your point.

And how about some old-fashioned clubhouse dissension? Remember when that word -- dissension -- was such a part of the baseball lexicon? When's the last time you heard it used? Like everything else these days, it's mostly used speculatively,

How about when Michael Barrett and Carlos Zambrano got into a fight or anything involving Big Z while he has been with the Cubs, Alex Rodriguez and Joe Girardi argued last week over which game A-Rod should sit out, Jeff Kent and Barry Bonds fought each other in the dugout, or how about Terrell Owens arguing with everyone outside of the Pope on the sidelines when he was with the Cowboys? These things have all happened in the past couple of years, and these are just incidents off the top of my head, so there is plenty of dissension. Again, I have no idea what Tim Keown is talking about here.

If he wants the days of when Ruben Patterson would knock out a teammate in practice or teammates getting in fights, then he should just attend NFL training camps. This sort of thing happens frequently. Not in Keown's fictional sports world though.

I long for personalities such as former All-Star shortstop Garry Templeton, who got so indignant over being picked as a reserve in the 1979 All-Star Game that he issued the famous line "If I ain't startin', I ain't departin'.

Absolutely, we need more athletes to act like divas when they don't get exactly what they want, that's exactly what the sports world needs. I am going to go on a limb and say Garry Templeton did not deserve to start the All Star Game, so I am not sure having athletes think too high of themselves is something else the sports world needs.

Has Keown not been paying attention? T.O., Chad Johnson, Ron Artest, and countless others are doing exactly what he is saying he wants to see more of in sports. Basically he is calling out the major stars like Kobe, LeBron, and Albert Pujols for not acting like self indulgent assholes. Of course he is also using guys who were not major sports stars in the past, like Garry Templeton, as examples of the type of behavior he wants...which tells me major sports stars have never acted in the way Tim Keown wants, but he will pretend they have anyway.

I also wish we didn't live in a sports world where too many people eager to fill the vacancy have decided that facial expressions (Kobe) and choreographed pregame (LeBron) and post-touchdown (Terrell Owens, Chad Johnson) celebrations are adequate substitutions for personality.

There he goes with hating on Kobe's face again. Can't Tim Keown see that all of these pregame and post-touchdown celebrations are personality? That's exactly what they are. I don't know what else he wants from the athletes and to be honest, I have no idea how he has been hired by ESPN. I don't enjoy nor understand his columns. He wants athletes to have more personality and then he doesn't count the athletes that have personality as having the sufficient amount or the right personality.

Think about this: What kind of personality does Peyton Manning have?

I don't care. I just care that he can throw a football, that's all that matters. I need the football game to entertain me, not Peyton Manning.

I just know I don't like it when controversy takes the form of LeBron James' walking off the court without shaking hands or speaking to the media after losing a playoff series. Weird as it was, give me Isiah Thomas and Dennis Rodman diminishing Larry Bird on the basis of his Caucasian-ness any day.

Tim Keown will take racial discrimination over poor sportsmanship any day of the week. Tim had no problem with Apartheid in South Africa because at least they shook each other's hands after each soccer match.

If it looks like I'm picking on the LeBron-Kobe-Tiger-Peyton level of athlete, that's not the intent. At the moment, they're the most obvious examples of athletes who have reached the level of fame that leaves them afraid to say something that might damage their own corporate interests. They're afraid to offend anybody.

What I don't understand is why they HAVE to offend someone? Is it necessary for these athletes to have something controversial to say?

Every beat writer and local broadcaster is dying to have a go-to guy in the clubhouse or locker room, someone who is there with a good quote or a concise summary of what just happened. The smart guys get this, and that's why most of them -- Dave Winfield, Orel Hershiser, John Kruk, Barkley, Magic Johnson -- end up on television.

Regardless if the media is the athletes friend or not, if the athlete does something extremely controversial, the media will inevitably turn on that athlete. Look at Terrell Owens. He is always good for a quote but he has few friends in the media because of his behavior and his ability to create dissension.

Also, please don't call John Kruk smart.

The Kings and their fans waited far longer than was reasonable for the 7-foot Causwell to give them some sign of … well, just about anything. By the mid-'90s, it was clear he wasn't going to give it to them, and the sign that the organization was tired of waiting came from Reynolds, who said, "Sometimes potential becomes notential."

Now there is personality! Whew, what a laugh riot!

It wasn't that long ago, but it's almost unthinkable that an NBA coach would be that honest today. We'd get something like "Duane's working hard to put in the time needed for him to become a productive member of a winning team."

Because if the coach says anything else the 24 hour media cycle will blow it way out of proportion.

I still have no idea what Tim Keown wants. He wants more clubhouse dissension, more athletes acting like they are bizarre people and athletes speaking their minds more often. Apparently this will all lead to more entertaining sporting events, which is all I care about. I have no idea how Tim Keown got his job at ESPN but it certainly wasn't from his ability to write coherent articles. Everytime he mentions an athlete that shows some personality, like T.O., he dismisses it. I still don't understand the NFL coaches following trends comment, like this is something new.

Here is someone that Tim "I Hate Kobe's Face" Keown might like...Terrence Williams. He does have personality.

-Speaking of more anger and personality, Dan McNeil writes words down indicating he sees a correlation between Lou Pinella acting like an immature child and the Cubs winning games.

We need a new Lou. This one won't do.

Writing like Woody Paige does will not get you brownie points from me.

Try as Piniella might to convince the world he's walking on rice paper without leaving a trace, he always has been most comfortable near the edge. Or completely over it. That's who he is.

Lou Piniella is also 65 years old. His losing his temper and acting like an ass on the field does not mean that his teams will win more games.

Unearthing bases. Kicking dirt. Spitting. Scratching. Fighting one of his own players, as he did in Cincinnati with the behemoth-sized Rob Dibble.

Now there is some personality, quick call and alert Tim Keown!

None of those outlandish behaviors will solve the Cubs' most urgent problems, but when a historically fiery manager ceases to breathe fire, then you have a brand new problem to tack onto the list: resignation.

So because Lou Piniella is not stomping around and throwing bases, this means he no longer cares about how his team is doing? The fact he has not been acting like an ass on a regular basis since he got to Chicago is not a sign of mangerial maturity, but a sign that he just doesn't care anymore.

I bet Dan McNeil thinks because the manager doesn't get irate the players see that and think, "well there is no reason to play hard." I am sure this is 100% true.

Time for Piniella to take one of his struggling bullpen arms over the fence, the way the Tigers' Ryan Raburn did Tuesday night, to beat Kevin Gregg in the bottom of the ninth.

Hell yeah! Throw your team's closer under the bus, that's the sure fire way to have the team pull together and help the team win more games. It's like the opposite of Ubuntu, where the point is to pull the team completely apart and create dissension where each player is playing to save his own ass. Which helps the team by having 25 selfish assholes who hate their manager rather than 25 selfish assholes who like their manager...they will play so much harder at that point.

Who's this team's closer if it's not going to be Gregg, who has blown three saves and is averaging more than 20 pitches per inning?

I am not going to insult the stat of pitches per inning, but there are plenty of other Kevin Gregg statistics that stink that could mean so very much more than pitches per inning.

I'm all for seeing Piniella wave Marmol in for mop-up duty, too, if there aren't more performances like Tuesday's, when he whiffed three of the four Detroit hitters he faced.

If Carlos Marmol can't strike out 75% of the batters he faces then he clearly doesn't deserve to pitch in any key situations.

We need more actions, those like Monday night when Piniella benched Alfonso Soriano for the Cubs' one-night stand in Atlanta.

Yes, more actions that result in the Cubs being shut out by a mediocre team have to be a good thing and will definitely help the team win more games.

Good. Soriano needed it.

The Cubs lost and had 9 hits in 6 1/3 innings against the Braves starter. If only there were someone on the bench who is struggling, but could drive in runs for the Cubs at a ball park where this player has hit .338/.393/.725 over his career. Oh yeah Alfonso Soriano has done that, but I guess it was a good thing Soriano sat.

Of Piniella's regulars, only veterans Derrek Lee and Ryan Theriot have proven reliable. They are the only Cubs position players who should be an automatic when Piniella pencils in his daily lineup.

Yes, Piniella should rotate the other 12 players into the empty 6 spots in the lineup based on who is hot, that will surely allow the players to break out of a slump by not giving them consistent at-bats.

I couldn't believe it when he didn't want to talk about his team's habitual struggle to not capitalize on scoring opportunities the other night.

I'm not encouraging Piniella to barbeque his players publicly.

Well Dan McNeill is certainly encouraging Piniella to use passive aggressive techniques that will serve the same purpose as BBQ'ing his player publicly. People may notice when Kevin Gregg starts only pitching in 11-3 ball games and doesn't close games anymore and the fans may notice when Aramis Ramirez and Gevany Soto are not playing on a regular basis.

Nobody is asking for the postgame spread to be hurled against the wall of the clubhouse. Nothing contrived or falsely manufactured is necessary.

From this article:

Try as Piniella might to convince the world he's walking on rice paper without leaving a trace, he always has been most comfortable near the edge. Or completely over it. That's who he is.

Unearthing bases. Kicking dirt. Spitting. Scratching. Fighting one of his own players, as he did in Cincinnati with the behemoth-sized Rob Dibble.

It sounds to me like Dan McNeil does want Piniella to do something contrived like that.

Find new roles for those not handling their current ones. Keep shakin' up that lineup card and that bullpen. An untrustworthy pen has cost many managers their jobs.

Also, don't forget to publicly embarrass your players by passively aggressively removing them from their role on the team. That will definitely help the team.

So has indifference.

Indifference is now categorized as "not throwing things, picking fights with players, and being ejected from every game."

-The third article for the day is actually pretty brief, but first I want to shine the spotlight on the horribleness that is Rick Reilly. I won't even quote his article, just link it and let everyone know he gets paid millions of dollars to write articles like this. It is, from what I can gather, a completely fictional story that is a waste of nearly everyone's time.

I am going to infringe on Fred's territory here a little and talk about baseball. Gerry Fraley writes an article about what a great hitter Albert Pujols is and I can't help but think this sounds a lot like an article written about Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire or Sammy Sosa and we all know what they have in common.

I am not saying Albert Pujols is on steroids, but I am saying we should be suspicious of him no matter how much he denies it.

Jimmie Foxx and Hank Greenberg are being left behind in the dust.

Joe DiMaggio is nowhere close.

Contemporaries Manny Ramirez and Alex Rodriguez cannot squeeze into the conversation.

When the topic turns to greatest right-handed power hitter of all time, there is only one reasonable answer: St. Louis' Albert Pujols.

He goes into Wednesday's play with the highest slugging percentage all-time among right-handed hitters at .628 and rising. He has a .713 slugging percentage for this season.

Many similar accolades have been said about other sluggers and many of these sluggers turned out to be on steroids. Throw in the fact he is hitting better than two sluggers who have been caught using steroids and my steroid-dar goes up even more.

He could become the first hitter in more than half a century to lead a league in home runs while having fewer strikeouts than long balls.

I can accept the fact he doesn't strike out a lot as not being proof he is on steroids. The part where he is the best RH hitter of all time could be proof of PED use in my book.

I warn you, we are about to go into a strikeout discussion that I am going to try to ignore as much as possible to stay on the track that this article sounds like an article written about someone who is using PED's.

Tampa Bay's Carlos Pena led the American League with 22 homers, which almost offset his 91 strikeouts.

Philadelphia's Ryan Howard and Detroit's Miguel Cabrera were the league home-run champions last season. Howard had 48 homers and 199 strikeouts. Cabrera had 37 homers and 126 whiffs.

Again I want to emphasize that a strikeout, though not always good, is not always a bad thing as long as it is not accompanied by a lack of power and lack of walks. It's okay to strike out 199 times if you are Ryan Howard because you get on base other ways, but when you are Jeff Failcoeur and you strike out 150 times and hit 14 home runs with 50 walks, it is not a good thing.

In no way does the strikeouts offset the home runs in the case of some of these players. A strikeout for Ryan Howard is the equivalent of a gritty ground out to the short stop by David Eckstein. God bless his little soul.

Pujols hates strikeouts. He considers them the ultimate in tossed-away at-bats, and no at-bats should ever be wasted. Pujols has had fewer than 70 strikeouts annually since his rookie season of 2001.

Kudos to Pujols for striking out very little. Barry Bonds also struck out very little and we all know what happened to him.

If a baseball player is hitting better than any other player in the history of the game, then we should automatically be suspicious of him. It's just the way it is in baseball for the foreseeable future. How Gerry Fraley is not suspicious is beyond me.

Unlike Bonds, who stubbornly led the NL in walks 12 times, Pujols does not take the walks and move along. He dislikes walks almost as virulently as strikeouts.

Pujols reached 100 walks for the first time in his career last season. He has 23 intentional walks this season, more than double the total of any other major-leaguer, but only 54 walks overall.

In regard to what it does for the team, there is no difference in a pop up and a strikeout, even when hit by Albert Pujols.

Among right-handed hitters, no one generates more power than Albert Pujols. No one ever.

I hate it, but that alone should make us suspicious considering every other hitter of this generation who has broken MLB records was on PED's.


The Casey said...

Four random thoughts:

1. I love it when players I didn't want my team to draft get drafted first. More choices for us!

2. I'm so glad Stephen Curry or Ricky Rubio didn't go to the Knicks. Not because I think they would make the Knicks good, but just because of the way the fans acted at MSG. Fuck you, Knicks fans.

3. The T-Wolves just picked two PGs in a row, and NOBODY at the ESPN desk brought up the possibility of a trade.

4. Michael Jackson died. Holy shitballs.

The Casey said...

Why don't they move the drafts the way they do the Super Bowl? That is something that would be a huge draw anywhere, and it sucks that New York fans always get to dominate (NFL & NBA, the only two televised) the drafts the way they do.

Bengoodfella said...

Yeah, I love it when a player you didn't want your team to get gets drafted as well. Haha...I am glad they didn't get those two players either. I wish they would move the draft every once in a while as well. The NY Knicks fans really sort of annoyed me as well.

I don't get why the Wolves picked two PG's either, something has to be going on there.

I would love to have the draft down here and I would most likely attend it as well...but no they always have to have it at MSG. NY gets everything, including both major drafts which does suck.

I can't believe Michael Jackson died either, but I think this means I can still make fun of him right?

ivn said...

three point guards for Minnesota. Lawson is going to Denver. I'm with Casey, I can't believe the ESPN guys didn't think trade, especially because of all the rumors of Rubio's potential signability. ESPN is really doing a number on decent sports journalism.

and of course, if the Wolves can't move Rubio or Flynn than they did fuck up something awful.

The Casey said...

I was sooo happy when the T-Wolves were at 18 and the Hawks at 19, and Ty Lawson was sitting there. I agree with Ben that he's going to be good. I already had him in a Hawks jersey in my head. There was no way Minny was going to pick a third PG in the first round, right?


I'm not unhappy with Jeff Teague. I just was cockteased by Ty Lawson, and now I'm pissed. Minny deserves Simmons as their GM.

Bengoodfella said...

Rubio and Flynn...I just don't get it. I defended the Wolves trade for those picks assuming they did not do something stupid, which they did. They will end up moving one of those guys, they just have to.

I couldn't believe the Wolves picked Ty Lawson either and then I saw he was going to Denver, which is where I think he would have gone if he had left for the draft last year and it made sense...sort of. I am not down on Jeff Teague, he could end up being a great player. He is no Acie Law III, don't worry.