Saturday, February 28, 2009

4 comments Scott Boras and Frank McCourt Get In A Pissing Contest

I am sure everyone has heard about the Manny Ramirez soap opera that is currently being carried on. I feel like Judge Judy in that I need to reprimand both sides. Overall, I have no idea in hell why a player would hire Scott Boras. As I have said many times he gets his clients good money, but many of his clients are the best players in the league, so they deserve the big money anyway. Not only that, only five teams are going to sign his players, signing as a client with him limits your own options as a player. I am also not sure if the Dodgers are actually attempting to win the NL West or not this year. If so, they need to sign the vastly underrated Manny Ramirez (cough, cough) and quit dicking around trying to win a public relations battle.

Bill Plaschke and I are going to cover this story for everyone . I will highlight in bold his sentences that are boring and in regular type will be my hilarious and incredibly insightful responses.

The biggest obstacles to Manny Ramirez's being a Dodger are the two guys trying to make him a Dodger.

The biggest obstacle to Manny Ramirez being a Dodger is his need for over $20 million per year in salary. Not to get technical, but if Manny was asking for $10 million per year, there would be no problem.

It is physically impossible for Frank McCourt and Scott Boras to draw up a contract with their hands on each other's necks.

I am not sure whether to be happy that Frank Wren is not the worst GM in the National League or to be embarrassed that Frank Wren was duped by Frank McCourt in the Rafael Furcal signing debacle. As far as Scott Boras goes, I am not going to say the market has dried up for his players but if you notice out of his last several major free agents (other than Tex, who got teams bidding for him), A-Rod, Manny, Varitek, and Derek Lowe, teams were pretty much bidding against themselves.

McCourt had asked Boras for a final "yes" or "no" answer to a two-year, $45-million deal that was about $45 million above any other real offer elsewhere . . . and Boras responded with a $55-million proposal.

It worked against the Braves, so you never know.

(Frank Wren) "We are willing to offer Derek Lowe 3 years at $39 million. We know the Mets don't really want to give him a fourth year and are not willing to go any higher in salary. They are our only competition."

(Scott Boras) "Derek and I want 4 years at $60 million."

(Frank Wren) "Deal."

Seriously, Scott Boras is a genius. Somehow he gets teams bidding against themselves to get his clients a buttload of money.

After spending three months with zero leverage, is it really that productive to counter your opponent's most fair and generous offer with something $10 million higher?

In 2001 he got the Rangers to nearly double the next highest offer. If this were the 1600's and Scott Boras had longer hair, he would accused and later drowned for being a witch.

When $45 million is spread over five years with no interest, it's not really $45 million, is it?

Well yes and no, it is still $45 million dollars, but the $45 million dollars is not worth quite as much because they have lost the time value of money. I learned about this in the one class I took in college.

Not disclosing the exact nature of a deferred contract, particularly in these tough economic times that the Dodgers discuss so much, smacks of being a bit of a public scam.

I know. Poor Manny Ramirez, he would ONLY be getting $10 million per year after that, until he gets $5 million his last year. That's no good.

Seriously though, I can understand why the deferred money is turned down by Boras, I thought that was kind of a bitch move by the Dodgers, but maybe because of the tough economic times the Dodgers can't pay that now. I guess you could look at it that way. Either way, I am sure they can work this out sooner rather than later.

And the only truth that matters is that Ramirez needs to play at least one more season for the Dodgers, as nobody else wants him and the Dodgers desperately need him.

Truer words have never been spoken. There are no other bidders for Ramirez at the contract price that he wants and the Dodgers have no one that is capable of hitting the ball like Ramirez can hit the ball. If I am the Dodgers, I would quit negotiating because they are bidding against themselves here, and if I am Scott Boras, I am not negotiating until the Dodgers get rid of the deferred money because the Dodgers need a power hitter very badly. They have Juan Pierre in left field right now...and it is not 2003, and even then he would need to be replaced so he doesn't start every day.

I think Plaschke is a little incorrect here thinking both guys are acting childish. The Dodgers gave a bullshit offer and Boras is asking for bullshit amounts of money for a player who has no other suitors. Both are just doing what they should be doing in this situation. I think this is riveting. Who will bend? I think the Dodgers will.

So Boras made an absurd counteroffer Thursday night? So what? That's his job. McCourt needs to shrug it off.

But yet Plaschke is saying McCourt is acting childish. I guess it is his job to be childish.

"It seems like we have been negotiating against ourselves, and I'm not going to do that anymore," McCourt said.

Seems like? You are negotiating against yourself. Here is how you know McCourt is partially incompetent as a General Manager. He has allowed the numbers and the demands of Manny to become public information. Now a team like (just an example) the Giants can say, "he wants 2 years and no deferred money, we may be able to do that." Boras is using the public negotiations to let other teams know exactly what he will accept.

I don't know if McCourt has thought about this, but he is negotiating for every team in baseball. Part of the fear of signing a Boras client is that you never know exactly what he will want in terms of contract numbers...well now teams know. I don't think another team will jump in, but I would not rule it out.

C'mon fellas. Break it up. Figure it out. It's easy.

Apparently not. I say 2 years $42 million and no deferred money. Try that.

Give Ramirez a one-year deal worth $22.5 million with no deferred payments.

I always thought Manny wanted a two year deal and if the Dodgers can pay $22.5 million this year, why can't they do that next year as well? It will also prevent them from being in the exact same situation 9 months from now. I just think if the Dodgers can pay $22.5 million this year, they could do the same next year. I don't know their payroll situation but I would imagine it could be done.

I still say offer 2 years $42 million or even $43 million, it is a kind of meet in the middle scenario. I would not give Manny a one year contract because you will be going through the same thing one year from now.

Best of all, it will allow weary, aggravated Dodgers fans to put both of them in a six-month timeout.

We all know Boras is going to win this. He always does, I don't know how he has teams bid against themselves so successfully, but he does. I think the secret is to represent the best players in baseball and then those player's statistics present a good case in themselves and all you have to do is call the 5 teams still willing to deal with you and see if they are interested. If I wasn't so dedicated to knowing absolutely nothing about anything, I would try to be a sports agent.

Friday, February 27, 2009

8 comments Bill Simmons: It's Just Bill Being Bill

The first thing I did when I got into work this morning was go to the WWL and see that the Redskins signed Albert Haynesworth and DeAngelo Hall to a total of $150 million in contracts and with almost $60 million in guaranteed money. I began laughing because they got a two turds for one deal and only had to pay $150 million! I give both of those players three years before they are cut. Typical Redskins move. I am surprised they did not make a play for Pacman Jones.

After a two week layoff, we finally have a Bill Simmons Friday column to sink our teeth into. Bill gives us the reason why he did not do an All Star column this year and the reason is a horseshit excuse. This is the Bill I have come to know and not enjoy. This column is a definitive Bill Simmons column, full of homer-ific ramblings, unfunny jokes and fuzzy information. This is a great, bad column.

I skipped my annual NBA All-Star Weekend column because I was frantically trying to finish my book. At least that's how I rationalized it.

The book was a convenient excuse. I could have found time to pump out that column. I just didn't want to hand it in.

Man, I wish I had a job where I was required to write three columns every two weeks and one of those weeks I could just feel lazy and just not hand in a column. That would be very nice. I am sure Bill had other more important things to do in working on his book, so I can understand.

That's what I ended up discussing for four solid days in Phoenix. Hands down, it was the most depressing All-Star Weekend I've ever attended.

Oh. Apparently Bill did not have better things to do and the "working on the book" excuse was completely a horseshit excuse. I love how he acts as if the reason he did not write the column was because he was depressed about the state of the NBA, but his depression just happens to coincide with the All Star Weekend where he was admittedly too lazy to write. So he rationalized the book excuse to himself but doesn't believe it when he says it. I think he may be insane.

It would have been about money. You might remember me writing that the NBA was the No Balls Association two years ago. Now it's the No Benjamins Association.

No Balls Association! That was so hilarious! Simmonsologists know that Bill called it that because teams were afraid to make big trades and then they finally did make big trades with Jason Kidd going to Dallas and Shaq going to Phoenix and those trades have helped to submarine both franchises. Bill Simmons for Bucks GM! The teams took Bill's suggestion and it seemed to fail miserably. Bill Simmons for Sports Czar!

No Benjamins Association! It is like NBA, but with a different word instead of Basketball. Brilliant.

I wish ESPN had a No Bill Association clause.

We should have been talking about Kevin Durant's coming-out party,

The coming out party where he played a bunch of rookies and scored a ton of points where no defense was played or the coming out party where it took him an hour and a half to play a game of H-O-R-S-E?

With the country embroiled in its worst economic crisis in 80 years, the NBA is quietly bracing for its own little D-Day … only outsiders don't fully realize or care.

I guess Bill is assuming that he is an insider here, because he gives us a bunch of information about this problem we don't know about...supposedly. Here is the thing. The thing is that outsiders know NBA franchises are in trouble, simply because 15 teams have had to borrow money to keep running, and most people have had their interest in the NBA dwindle over the past several year but they don't care as much as Bill does.

For one, Bill likes the NBA more than 99% of America so he is naturally going to care more, second many Americans and people around the world are worried enough about making their own ends meet to really care about the state of an NBA team (Bill does not have to worry money, so he has more time to worry about the NBA), and third, a lot of people are going to think the NBA has brought a lot of the trouble on themselves. They have poor attendance because of a poor product and a lot of the money problems are the result of teams overpaying for mediocre talent. Sure this goes on in every sport but that sport also manages to stay interesting and keep attendance up. The NBA has not done this very well. I don't care what anyone says, I enjoy watching college basketball 3 times more than an NBA game and for the sole reason it actually looks like the college players care.

Even trade talk -- normally a staple of any All-Star Weekend -- revolved more around themes such as, "They have to cut payroll," "They can't take on any money right now" and "They're too terrified of the tax to do anything."

Again, this goes to a bad product that is put on the court. The NBA is not in crisis mode but when a significant portion of the population fails to care anymore, that is not a good thing. I don't hate the NBA and will watch a game, but there is only so many times I can watch four guys stand around while one player does something. I watched the Magic-Heat game the other night and the offense for the Magic consisted of five players running down the court, Hedo Turkoglu getting the ball and trying to get it inside to Dwight Howard while J.J. Redick and Tony Battie stood in opposite corners of the court and Anthony Johnson hung out on the perimeter on the same side as Redick. Not exciting. There is no movement from any of the players, I feel like I am watching the game in slow motion a lot of times because the crowds are quiet and the players are just lounging around the court. Maybe it is just me, but this has been a long time coming, the decline of the NBA.

Insiders like Bill should know this. Ironically, I have watched more of the NBA over the last couple of years, but I still recognize the league is in a little trouble.

Teams wanted to dump clearly superior players on Portland at the deadline just to get Raef's insurance money. Phoenix would have traded Shaq for Raef and
Channing Frye's expiring contract in a heartbeat.

This type of trade does not make sense to the average fan. They don't understand what the hell insurance money has to do with a player and a trade. MLB doesn't have this problem and the NFL doesn't have this problem. The NBA does.

Jersey supposedly offered Vince Carter and two protected No. 1's for Raef's contract,

Again, protected No. 1's? The average fan does not know what that is as well...and why the hell would the Nets give away Carter like that? The NBA has a lot of trouble connecting with the average fan who doesn't get into the NBA because trades like this make no sense to them. I am into the NBA and don't understand this.

These type of problems are what Bill Simmons does not understand is really wrong with the NBA's attendance. It's not the economy completely, it is that the NBA is hard to get a grasp on, and even when you do get a grasp the product is inferior. I am talking about the casual fans here, not diehards or someone who has a favorite team they follow.

The league would love for you to believe that attendance hasn't been affected, but the NBA's official tally counts only total "customers," counted as paid tickets, comps (seats given to celebrities, sponsors, friends of the team or whomever, a number that can be fudged any way you want), discounted tickets and no-shows.

Bill is right about this.

The fans in my section at Staples Center finally figured out how Dunleavy dresses for games: like someone who owns a funeral home. No, really, He wears ugly gray suits or light blue suits; they always look as if he bought them at a two-for-one sale; and he always looks like he's going to tell you how sorry he is that your aunt passed away. He even slicks his hair back like an extra on "Six Feet Under."

That is one of my favorite shows of all time and I don't get this joke. If you are going to make pop culture references, at least let them make sense. Neither Nate nor David had slick backed hair on any season of the least that I can recall.

Half the arena is empty most nights, unless they're playing a team with transplant fans in Southern California

When Boston played in Denver on Monday, the place brimmed with so many Celtics fans that Carmelo Anthony angrily stormed off before Boston's blowout victory even concluded. That has been a recurring theme in general: Fans of popular visiting teams (Boston, New York, Cleveland, the Lakers) overpowering home arenas of unpopular teams.

At what point are we going to stop calling them "transplant fans" and start calling them what they really are? Fair weather fans. You can't tell me that the Cleveland Cavs fans travel well either or the fans are in Southern California for any good reason, other than the fact the Cavs have LeBron James and he is popular, so therefore so is the team.

If Larry Nance was dead and was in a grave, he would rolling in it right now...because these Cleveland "fans" don't know who the hell he is. Just because Bill is a "transplant" fan doesn't mean we can't call these other fans fair weather fans.

The NBA is turning into the WNBA.

Don't laugh, it is kind of true.

Yet declining attendance isn't even one of the league's four biggest problems right now. I would rank the top four like this:

1. The 2011 Lockout That Hasn't Happened Yet

I don't know how much I would really care...and I actually like the NBA. Maybe the NBA should lock out its players and force them to use illegal PEDs, I mean it worked for baseball's popularity.

Let's say ESPN paid me $5 million a year for each of the past four years, and I felt pretty good about staying there with that number.

Please tell me this is a Rick Reilly crack.

Let's say I hired 10 interns and locked them into deals for $100,000 apiece through 2012

These interns would be responsible for thinking of new jokes and also writing the columns for Bill while he is busy writing his new book/going to the All Star game.

See, we learned a dirty little secret in the last lockout: An inordinate number of NBA players live paycheck to paycheck. Yes, even the guys making eight figures a year.

You can send donations to:

I Don't Give a Flying Fuck
Up Your Ass Way
Are You Kidding Me, U.S.

Again, this is where the NBA is losing the average fan. Why is someone going to pay $40 for a ticket to see a bunch of millionaires stand around the court and do nothing, then hear they spend all that money on crap? This happens in EVERY sport but basketball has the stereotype that the players are lazy, not because of racial issues, but because there is only one basketball and teams tend to talk the ball up the court now and only two guys touch the ball on one possession on offense. You can see players try in every other sport, at least in baseball it is understood there is a lot of standing around.

Quick tangent: You're asking yourself, "Wait, how can a dude making $8-10 million a year live paycheck to paycheck?" Easy. First, he's only banking 40 percent once the IRS and agents are done with him.

This is where Bill Simmons is being his typical asshole self. He said "only" banking 40% of the money, because he does empathize with these players for paying so much in taxes on the insane amounts of money they receive as income. That "only" takes it from a good point he is making to Bill whining on behalf of a bunch of already overpaid millionaires. Bill is completely out of touch with the world and it is hard to read articles by someone who says "only" in this instance.

When the players' union waves a white flag and the lockout finally ends (2012? 2013?), I predict a raise of the individual salary max (to $24-25 million), a softer salary cap, a restriction on long-term contracts (can't be more than three years unless you're re-signing your own star), the elimination of opt-out clauses and the midlevel exemption, and the rookie age limit rising to 20. That's seven predictions in all … and I bet I'll end up nailing six.

Not to harp on this again, but this is where the NBA is losing customers again. You don't have to be a financial genius to understand what Bill is saying here, but the casual fan doesn't have time in his life to figure out what a "mid-level exception" and "the elimination of opt-out clauses" means for the sport in the long run.

I bet Bill ends up nailing 3 of those...and I don't see how raising the salary max will fix anything at all.

2. The fear of trading ultimately hurting the quality of the league

I think Bill is wrong here. It is not the fear of trading, it is the bizarre and random ass way the financials of the NBA are set up. Trading has become a salary dump because teams are allowed to do that with impunity and the trade has to be completely equal (nearly) financially, so Shaq can't get traded for Devin Harris and Brandon Bass because the contracts don't match up. I think the 120% rule (or whatever it is...I like the NBA and don't even know) is stupid.

Trading players has actually put the Suns and the Mavericks in this situation. They acquire better players, which cost money, and then they have to start shedding salary when the trades don't work out.

(think Mychal Thompson, Brian Williams, Clyde Drexler, Pau Gasol, Rasheed Wallace, Jason Kidd, etc.)

Gasol and Jason Kidd were trades made just last year and Wallace was traded a few years ago. Two of those trades resulted in an NBA Finals appearance for a team and the New Jersey trade for Jason Kidd resulted in a Finals appearance for the Nets. These were GOOD trades...but now those exact teams having to dump salary because the players are not worth the money anymore. Teams can add players, but it has to be in a good trade and the way the luxury tax is set up, it is hard to add players that are good.

Every other contender except Orlando had a fixable flaw, thought about fixing it, then said, "Nahhhhh … maybe we can win anyway." Boston never replaced James Posey. Cleveland never landed a quality shooter with size. The Lakers never found Andrew Bynum insurance.

This isn't hard to figure out. Attendance and everything else associated with the sport is in decline, so the teams don't have money to pay for these players over the salary cap. They can't afford the luxury tax. The solution is not with the actual NBA teams, the solution is with marketing the NBA and making sure everyone is in the stands for every game. Sell outs of arenas are the answer and Bill acknowledges attendance sucks but he still doesn't think the financial decline is solely because of that, but also because of no trading amongst the teams. This is wrong in my opinion.

3. Lousy officiating

The NBA has an interest in the best players making it to the playoffs and succeeding. That is how the NBA did well in the 80's and 90's and that is how it will continue to thrive.
I bet you won't know what team Bill is really concerned about concerning this issue though, the team that always gets screwed over because the league is after them. Which one is that? That's right the NBA Champion Boston Celtics are always getting screwed.

But sure enough, with the Celts somehow leading by just one (they were awful all night) and only 35 seconds to play,
Rajon Rondo missed a free throw that ricocheted to Mardy Collins, only Big Baby Davis somehow swiped the ball away as Richardson's whistle blew. The Boston bench exploded, thinking it was an undeserved foul, only Richardson had blown his whistle for a Clippers timeout.

He called a timeout when the Celtics could have gotten the ball? How unfair, the Celtics deserve a shot at getting the ball back before the referee calls timeout. I have not seen a replay but how dare the official make a mistake.

One problem: Collins never had the ball. He fumbled the easy rebound to Davis even as the Clippers were signalling for time. Richardson granted the timeout because he's inept at his job and didn't make sure Collins, you know, actually secured the rebound.

Don't forget the NBA wants the Clippers to win the game. I wonder if the referee also caused the Celtics to not score as many points for the other 47 minutes of the game? If not, then the loss was not completely the referees fault...even if he did blow the call.

So TNT's record audience was treated to a comically choppy slopfest in which Boston's best player (Kevin Garnett) fouled out on a touch foul 35 feet from the basket with five minutes to play.

The referees called a touch foul on Kevin Garnett. How dare the referees have the balls to call a foul on Garnett, much less 35 feet away from the basket. The Celtics are always getting screwed over like this.

What Bill should really be worried about is not that the officials called this foul, but what Kevin Garnett was doing 35 feet from the basket trying to commit a foul. Of course why question Garnett when you can bitch about the officiating?

The NBA: Where Amazingly Bad Officiating Happens. When will someone take responsibility and admit that something is seriously, drastically, undeniably wrong?

Exactly, the Mavericks can get screwed over as much as it takes in the NBA Finals, but once the Celtics start not getting all of the foul calls, then we know the officiating is terribly wrong and Bill more than talks about it, he wants to take action now.

For a league that claimed to take the Donaghy scandal so seriously, we haven't seen any inclination that it did. Not even a hint.

Exactly. The NBA Finals were the Celtics-Lakers last year, which was the best case scenario for the NBA, so Bill brings up a great point. Of course he is too stupid to realize his arguing about the officiating being unfair would also have the effect of proving maybe there could be a case bad officiating put the Celtics in the NBA Finals last year, since that is what the NBA wants. Nevermind this though.

So that's the climate for the No Benjamins Association right now: Murky, unpredictable and not so lucrative. And you wonder why I didn't want to write about All-Star Weekend.

That reason probably had more to do with laziness and a whole lot less to do with the fact Bill is actually depressed about the NBA. If he just started getting depressed about the state of the NBA, then he is about two years too late.

Other than the NFL, the NBA will emerge from this financial quagmire in the best shape of any professional sport; not just because its billion-dollar deals with Disney and Turner (inked fortuitously in the summer of 2007) run through the 2015-16 season but because the Lockout That Hasn't Happened Yet will ultimately solve every major league issue except its stupefyingly dreadful officiating.

Only time and constant bitching will solve that major officiating problem of the Celtics not getting every single favorable call in a basketball game. Other than the complete folding of NBA teams and the fact teams can't afford to run a team at all, I would say that the Celtics getting gypped on a few calls during a game is very high among the league's concerns.

I like how Bill Simmons seamlessly manages to throw in basketball's major problems like league attendance, teams losing money, and franchises going under with the fact the Celtics can't get any favorable calls during games. It's just Bill being Bill. He manages to take a league wide problem that affects the economics of basketball and throw in a complaint about how his favorite team getting screwed over on calls during games as if this is an example of a massive problem going on in the league. Sure, officiating generally sucks, but I guarantee poor officiating is not one of the top reasons the NBA is struggling financially.

Good job Bill, you wrote a Friday column.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

4 comments 10 Things I Think I Think Peter King Has Not Thought Of: Peter King Pisses Me Off About Matt Cassel Edition

I have no idea what is going on over at ESPN this week. JemeHill wrote an article I actually agreed with and Rick Reilly wrote an article that actually makes sense, though I do have a question or two about it. Let's do a quick run through of this week's most interesting topics that won't go away.

1. It is fitting to start it of with Peter King's Tuesday morning followup to his MMQB.

If Matthew Stafford makes it, he'll owe something to four NFL quarterbacks: Peyton and Eli Manning (he went to the Manning Passing Camp this summer and took away lessons on how being a great decision-maker makes a great quarterback),

If a college quarterback has to go to a passing camp during the summer and needs lessons on how being a great decision maker makes you a great quarterback...I don't even have a punchline here, this just seems like it would be terribly obvious.

Jay Cutler (he was schooled by Cutler at a high-school camp and loved his moxie)

Moxie being defined as "the ability to throw interceptions when trying to do too much at the end of a football game."

and Drew Brees.

I just wanted to take a moment to toot my own horn. I claimed in 2001 the Chargers were geniuses for trading with the Falcons for the rights to the first pick in the draft, because I thought Brees was actually going to be a better quarterback than Mike Vick. I actually thought they should have taken Brees instead of Vick in the #1 spot. You don't have to believe me, and I have no real proof, but I did believed this. Just ignore the fact I really thought Charles Rogers would be the second greatest receiver of all time when he retired. Please also ignore the fact I have a huge grudge against Vick, even in 2001, and wanted him to fail.

I had a good meeting with new Tampa Bay GM Mark Dominik, who's an impressive and bright guy.

"Our goal is to take care of our young, core players. The veterans here are important to our future.

1 day later the Bucs cut Derrick Brooks, Joey Galloway, and Warrick Dunn. Maybe the reason the veterans were so important to the Buccaneers is because they make so much money that you can cut them and save money for good younger, core players. Or maybe I am the only one that thinks it is a contradiction for the GM to come out and say the veterans are important and then cut two of the most respected and decorated veterans in team history.

Saturday makes Manning's job a lot more comfortable. So, yes, I think it is a mistake by the Colts. A rare one.

The Colts never make mistakes, which is why they have won so many playoff games over the years. It's because they never make mistakes on defense personnel choices and let every single free agent linebacker they have go to another team and not resign them. Ok, I am being very picky but they do let a lot of free agent LB's go.

From Brian Woodward of Harrisburg, N.C.: "Thanks for pointing out the incongruity in the Carolina Panthers' decision to lay off 20 employees while at the same time they commit $76.5 million to two players. Charlotte and the surrounding area, like many cities, is feeling the negative impact of the floundering economy. Generally, sports provide an opportunity for us to suspend the challenges of our daily lives while we cheer for our team. In this instance, the Panthers' decision only reminded us of the gloom of the economy. I know that running an NFL franchise is a business, and tough decisions have to be made, but I feel that the Panthers made the wrong decision in this instance. Why not pay the $1 million to $2 million to the 20 people who want to be there rather than $16.5 million to someone who doesn't?''

Hi Brian. You are a moron. Why comment on an issue you clearly do not follow correctly? You are from North Carolina, you should know the Panthers have no intention of keeping Julius Peppers, so they do not intend to pay him $16.5 million for the upcoming year. It sucks that people got laid off, it really does, but if you can't understand why the Panthers committed that much money to Gross/Peppers (and yet another sign you don't understand sports, because they never committed that entire amount, because it is not all guaranteed) then you don't understand sports.

In Magical Happy Land everyone gets to keep their job and the athletes have to go search for work, but in Real Life Land Jordan Gross's/Julius Pepper's jersey sales combine to make more money for the Panthers than two people who got laid off. I don't want to get laid off and I would be unhappy if I was in the situation, but you have to understand how much money an NFL franchise brings to a city.

From Jack Ramey of Washington: "I agree whole-heartedly with your Panthers sentiment ... but tell me, when's the last time anyone paid $60 a ticket to watch those same loyal employees at work?''

Sixty? Try $150.

$150, Peter? I paid $67 dollars to see the Panthers play a little over one month ago. I realize closer tickets where Peter sits are more expensive but you can get good seats for $60.

From David of Philly: "What makes Matt Cassel different from the other quarterbacks who have one decent year. Sure, he played well this year. But A.J. Feeley played well as a starter in Philadelphia but couldn't get anything done in Miami. Derek Anderson had a great year in Cleveland before falling apart this year.

Cassel's done it on a very high, playoff-caliber level already, and Feeley and Anderson haven't, and there's doubt either of them can do it.

Wrong! Matt Cassel has never started at quarterback in the NFL playoffs, so he has not done it on a "very high, playoff caliber level." He led his team to a 11-5 record last year and Derek Anderson's team did not make the playoffs either and he led his team to a 10-6 record. They are very similar, plus Cassel arguably had a better team around him, which makes his feat slightly less impressive.

Just because you love Matt Cassel with all your heart and soul and he makes you tingle in your private places doesn't mean he is more special than any other quarterback. When is Peter King's infatuation with Matt Cassel going to end? How the hell does he get away with saying Cassel has performed at a "very high, playoff-caliber level" when the Patriots did not make the playoffs and Cassel did not make the Pro Bowl? He is indicating Derek Anderson did play at a high level, though Anderson make the Pro Bowl (which does not mean much, but he did make it) and his team barely missed out on a playoff spot, just like the Patriots did. He needs to quit with the biased journalism, it's like he is Cassel's agent.

2. Here is Rick Reilly's actually good column. I will nitpick it though.

His one dream was to take Jake to a Broncos game. Sometimes on the reservation, the dreams come small.

This story is covered in so much sugary sentimentality, I think I am going to get a cavity reading it.

And then, this past October, one of Lil Bob's best friends — a restaurant owner named Christopher Hamlet — decided to make good on an unfulfilled dream: He bought two plane tickets, packed up Jake and flew to Denver. Jake was finally going to a Broncos game.

Lil Bob is Rick's wife's half biological brother. Got that? My question is this...why didn't Rick, who lives in the Denver area if I am not wrong, take Jake to a Broncos football game and set it up for him to meet John Elway? Why did a restaurant owner have to do this? Seriously, Rick Reilly is a big name in sports pseudo-journalism, he could have easily done this.

Also, in the picture of Jake with John Elway, why is Jake wearing a John Lynch jersey? Jake was three when Elway retired, but he still could not find an Elway jersey to wear? Lynch doesn't even play for the Broncos right now. See, I am nitpicking again.

And the next thing Jake knew, he was in John Elway's luxury box at the game, asking him any question he wanted, all with a grin that threatened to split his happy head in half.

Then Elway said, "Comin' to dinner?"

And suddenly Jake was having his lettuce wedge cut for him by the legend, who tousled the kid's cowlick. Like a dad might.

Brett Favre would probably have ended the night asking Jake if he could spot him $5 for some new Wranglers.

A lot of athletes don't want the burden that comes with being a role model. But what I want to tell them is: You don't get to choose.

(Me vomiting on the keyboard) Rick Reilly is right. I think we all learned something today. John Elway is a good guy, Rick Reilly is too cheap to take his nephew to a Broncos game, and Rick Reilly can write a sentimental story like nobody's business. Rick Reilly gets paid millions of dollars to write columns like this.

(Bengoodfella wipes tear from his is hard to admit he did not hate Reilly's latest work)

3. Gregg Doyel thinks that Jim Calhoun had every right to yell at Ken Krayeske.

I am agreeing with Gregg Doyel too much lately. I wish he would take Alonzo Mourning to task for being an asshole or something. I am much more comfortable with that Gregg Doyel.

For some people, Calhoun's caustic reaction has confused the issue. They see him acting like a bully, and they bludgeon him for it.

That's pretty much exactly what every article I have read says.

and while none (that I've seen) side with the flea-bitten hound, several take Calhoun to task, chastising him for (A) being insensitive in these tough economic times

Gregg Doyel reads Jay Mariotti. I don't know what I would do if he ever took Mariotti to task.

Calhoun was right. What he said was right.

It is pretty clear Krayeske was grandstanding for a cause. If he really had any type of journalistic intentions he would have brought this up in private.

How he said it? Right.

He did come off as a pompous ass.

And before I explain why he's right, please understand there is some history between Calhoun and me. Shocking, right? But there is. And not terribly good. A few years ago I wrote this, and UConn people were furious.

Does anyone like Gregg Doyel? Anyone?

After the game, a win, Muncy snuck me away from The Horde that covers UConn basketball and set up a quiet meeting with Calhoun in an empty locker room. Calhoun said what he wanted to say. I took it. It's over, and we haven't spoken since. There's the history.

Well, that's boring. I was kind of hoping there was a big showdown where Gregg Doyel showed off his newest MMA moves and kicked Jim Calhoun in the throat, then spat on him while cursing Ricky Moore's name. Doyel wrote an article about the way that Calhoun recruited players, or stole them as he perceived it, and really he probably is not wrong.

The incident in the article Doyel wrote is very similar to the time in 1999 when UConn fatass/point guard Khalid El-Amin was able to use a booster's, I am sorry a "friend's," car in exchange for tickets to games. Calhoun runs a borderline clean program like every other successful program in the nation.

Maybe Calhoun was a little loose with his numbers when he told the attention hound that "we make $12 million a year for this university." If by we he meant both himself and UConn women's coach Geno Auriemma, then he nailed it.

Who else would he mean by "we?" The squirrel that he keeps in his pocket?

For his troubles, the attention hound got blown up, which is exactly what he deserved. He's the one, not Calhoun, who walked down the wrong dark alley and picked a fight. Shame on the guy who started the fight -- not the guy who finished it.

I said something very similar yesterday. Krayeske went looking for a fight and he got one.

I am getting tired of agreeing with Doyel.

4. Finally there is some sanity in the NFL Draft process. Don Banks of CNNSI doesn't have a quarterback going first to the Lions.

I am probably the dumbest person in the world for thinking this, but I have never understood a team's fascination with taking a quarterback first in the draft if they have other pressing needs. Don't get me wrong, the Lions need one, but they also need a lot of other things at the same time.

But Curry is now seen as the cleanest prospect in this year's talent pool, and convinced as I am that the Lions aren't taking a quarterback here, getting impact help for the league's bottom-ranked defense two-years running is the option Detroit will choose.

These teams are spending so much money on a pick and if a team, like Detroit, has plenty of other needs then I think they should spend the pick and money on the best player. I think that player is Aaron Curry, though I don't see Ray Maualuga as being that far behind.

It's not like the Lions don't need defense, they have been last two straight years and to pair Aaron Curry with Ernie Sims is really going to help the team get a head start on building a great defense. Sure they need some defensive tackles and pass rushers, but they have 2 first round picks, so they can address that need later. A quarterback does no good if he has no one to throw to (I realize he has Calvin Johnson), no blockers, and the defense can't keep the other offense off the field.

Banks has Sanchez going #8 to the Jacksonville Jaguars. Of all the needs the Jags have, WR, OL, the defense, they are going to choose a quarterback? I am not against drafting a quarterback but this seems highly unlikely Sanchez will go to Jacksonville. I know quarterbacks are "in" because of Joe Flacco and Matt Ryan but Flacco went to a team that had a great defense and at least one good receiver, while Ryan went to the Falcons who were not nearly as bad as their #3 pick indicated. They had a good defense and receivers. I could be wrong but I don't think Jacksonville is the best place for Sanchez.

Banks has the Raiders taking B.J. Raji, a defensive tackle. That is smart but I doubt Al Davis would take a player that is blue collar and plays a blue collar position with Jeremy Maclin on the board.

5. John Smoltz is giving his opinion still...about everything.

That jersey still doesn't look right on him.

Smoltz thinks A-Rod did a tough thing by admitting to steroids and standing up for himself in the press conference. Smoltz is unsure whether he is telling the truth or not.

A-Rod was so brave to admit that he had cheated. What a hero. Is it me or does every reporter have to ask every single MLB baseball player his view on steroids? It's not like the answers are going to change or anything.

He also thinks the other 103 names should be released and that someone who knows they tested positive and should just come clean.

I think the names should be released and if anyone expects the other 103 to come clean they are living in Magical Happy Land with Brian from North Carolina.

The Hall of Fame question is a difficult one because A-Rod and Barry Bonds had the natural skills and ability to make it to Cooperstown. Had they not taken anything, they would've made it on their own skill.

I hate both of these players and I have said, only 200 times, this is the dumbest part about this whole situation. They would have probably made it regardless but they wanted to cheat. I almost think they should be banned based on the fact they could have made it and still cheated.

He also is not angry with the Braves, but disappointed with the way his contract negotiations were handled.

Weren't we all though? Actually, Smoltz had threatened to leave several times so it was not a huge shock that he left, it was just kind of interesting he did not leave to go play for the Tigers and it was the Red Sox who signed him.

They didn't feel his arm to see if it was strong and they didn't make any type of commitment to him. Also, the contract differences between the Sox and Braves was major and the Sox showed him more respect.

I think Smoltz could have his left arm amputated and he would still be a great pitcher pitching left handed, but I also don't have to pay him and he is 40 years old and coming off arm surgery for the 3rd or 4th time. The Sox took a chance on him because their payroll allowed them to do that, while the Braves were saving money for Garrett Anderson and Tom Glavine...seriously.

6. Our resident genius/ex-player Ross Tucker has some things to say about free agency. Please prepare yourself for his brilliance.

As players begin to make their decisions and the pundits talk about factors like scheme, location, and the opportunity to win a championship, remember one important thing: more often than not, all of those other ancillary factors are just that and it comes down to which team is willing to offer the most cold, hard cash.

No fucking way. I am glad Ross is here to tell us that athletes follow the money when it comes to free agency. I wonder how Ross's view of this is affected by the fact Peter King thinks teams should not spend a lot of money on free agents if they have been laying off employees? There won't be that much cold, hard cash available if teams that are having financial trouble don't sign players so they can keep staff and other employees.

Here's my question. Why are NFL teams not supposed to spend money on players but the NFL can lay off employees and no columns have been written about how they need to cut back on expenses? Roger Goodell has taken a pay cut, which is noble, but shouldn't the NFL cut back in other ways? I guess it is only the teams that are expected to do this.

Please. There is no loyalty in the NFL. It is straight business.

Harsh words from Ross Tucker...also this is completely obvious to a lot of people.

If you think about it, NFL players are some of the most restricted employees in our country, rarely having the prerogative to determine where they choose to live and work.

Only someone who has never had a real job thinks this is true. There is a thing called a non-compete agreement and I would guarantee that most of the non-compete agreements employers have are relatively more restrictive than any contract a player could sign. I can't work for another company in my industry that "competes" with us in a 100 mile radius. So pretty much, I would have to leave the state to get another job in the same industry. NFL players are bound by the contract they sign, but that contract also gives them a certain amount of financial security, which the typical worker doesn't get and a legal non-compete agreement can prevent a person from even getting a job in the same industry.

Case in point. As an arbitrary example, if I were a free agent this year and were deciding between the Lions and Colts on a one-year deal, and the Lions offered $100K more, I would be on the next flight to Detroit. In a heartbeat.

See, that is dumb.

Yeah, I know the Lions were 0-16 last year and the Colts are a perennial playoff participant, but what does that really mean to me at the end of the day? I'm not a Colts fan. I'm not from Indianapolis. Likely playing in a playoff game and having some semblance of an opportunity to win a title would be nice, but certainly not worth it. What does that playoff berth do for me and my family when I am 40 years old? Nothing. That $100k, or whatever number you want to substitute in there, could be put in my child's 529 plan for college or be part of a down payment on a house.

I guess it doesn't do much, though the NFL does pay players for when they win playoff games, so it would not be like Tucker was losing that much money in playing for a contender.

Ross Tucker went to Princeton...but I don't feel like he did.

7. Alex Marvez thinks the gag order Jerry Jones put on the Cowboys is a bad idea.

I think Alex Marvez just needs the Cowboys to keep talking so he can keep writing stories and this gag order makes him actually think for column ideas.

Jones told Cowboys beat writers this was being done to thwart the kind of "misinformation" he claims was reported about the team earlier this offseason.

Considering the mayhem that occurred last year between the players and the staff of the Cowboys, I don't know if this is really a bad idea.

Yet any good this new policy will produce has already been overshadowed by the damage it has caused: The further emasculation of Wade Phillips.

I mean seriously, is this really a concern? Everyone knows Wade Phillips is not the real head coach of the Cowboys and just does what Jones wants him to do. He will probably be out this year if the Cowboys don't win the Super Bowl. I don't think a gag order is really going to do him any more harm than players meddling in the game plan, the owner meddling with every aspect of the team, and all the other crap that goes on in Dallas does him harm.

Why should players respect Phillips when there's the ongoing belief — whether true or not — Jones himself is the one calling the shots on almost every level besides Xs and Os?

I would say that the players never respected Phillips regardless of who calls the Xs and Os because they see Jason Garrett and Jerry Jones as being more influential.

His biggest weakness is what should endear Phillips to his players. Phillips depends upon strong leadership to emanate from veterans who want to take ownership of their team a la Ray Lewis in Baltimore (which may be one reason he is reportedly on Dallas' free-agent radar).

Everyone's fascination with the crap-fest that is Dallas annoys the hell out of me. ESPN did a special last night on SportsCenter about Jerry Jones owning the team for 20 years, even though they have not won a playoff game for over half that time and they are the 2nd most dysfunctional team behind the Raiders in the league. Still, Jerry Jones gets a podium to talk about his team and he doesn't ever mention what a bad job he is doing of running the team, and no one asks this either.

This gag order has nothing to do with what is going on negatively in Dallas, it just reinforces the idea Jerry Jones doesn't know what he is doing.

8. Ian O'Connor think the Celtics are crazy for signing Stephon Marbury and I don't get it either.

So the Boston Celtics, defending NBA champs, are preparing to hire Marbury, whose record reeks for itself. Marbury hasn't won a single playoff series in a dozen seasons, didn't even win a single playoff game as a Knick, and stands among the more prominent contributors to the Olympic disaster in Athens.

What I don't get is that Marbury was not even the best point guard available on the market. The Celtics could easily have traded to get a good backup point guard who had a great attitude and could accept playing on the bench. They also could have just kept Sam Cassell. No one has seen Marbury play in over a year and even when he played he wasn't impressive.

So is the Celtics' uniform. Rivers and his players made that jersey special again, and there was no need to dishonor the green by sliding it over Marbury's shoulders.

That's being a little overdramatic about this. I don't think he will shame the uniform, though I hope once he proclaims his turd status for the 900th time, the Celtics will just release him. Marbury is a point guard that has always thought it was all about him, and I compared John Wall to him (though I hope it isn't the case) and I even put up that post about Wall because I think his case is how a player starts to get the Starbury mindset.

Even when Marbury was a good player, I would never have wanted him on my favorite team. He was too selfish and I don't think a good point guard is selfish like Marbury acts.

Marbury won't have his eye on the one-for-all, all-for-one prize, and the smart money says that will manifest itself in a poor decision on the court, or off it, at the worst possible time.

How can anyone trust his decision making ability, especially since he has not played in over a year? I wish I had the time and I would make a list of point guards that would have been much better fits as backups to Rajon Rondo, and I don't think Marbury would even make the list. Yet the Celtics chose him over every other point guard available.

9. The underrated Manny Ramirez got disrespected by another horrible offer from the Dodgers.

The team's proposal would pay Ramirez $25 million this season and $20 million next season if he exercises his player option for 2010.

God, this man is so underrated. Doesn't anyone want to pay for the best RH hitter of all time? That's why I think he is underrated, just because no team wants this guy! (I am being Bill Simmons...I am now me again)

The Dodgers made their offer - their fourth to Ramirez this offseason

Yes, that's right. The Dodgers have made four offers this offseason. Bill, do you have any comment on this?

If the economy did not improve — or if Ramirez suffered an injury or performed below his usual standards — he could return to the Dodgers for the second season and become a free agent after that.

If Manny is serious about playing baseball this offseason, he will accept this offer. This is beyond a fair offer. I am still trying to get in touch with Bill Simmons to see if he still thinks Manny is underrated.

10. Michael Lewis tries to "Moneyball" basketball and it doesn't come off as quite as convincing for me. If I hear one more person describe Shane Battier as the ultimate team player I am going to put a pencil through my eye.

I usually end this on a note about college basketball and after watching Marquette play UConn the last night, I almost felt bad for calling them a pretender a few weeks ago. They looked strong but I still don't think they have enough height to do anything in the NCAA Tournament...and with Dominic James being injured, I feel even less confident about them. I said earlier in the year I thought Kansas and Wake Forest were going to surprise people and UCLA was kind of overrated, which I still think is true. It wasn't exactly a leap, I just thought Kansas still had some talent left over and talented freshmen and they have enough key seniors I could see them making the Elite 8 this year, which would prove me wrong about them being overrated.

Anyway, I am very excited for the NCAA Tournament and this is one of my favorite times of the sports year. Ok enough exposition and sounding like an excited 12 year old girl, I hope Bill Simmons comes out with a column tomorrow that is just crappy so I can make fun of it.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

4 comments Jay Mariotti Thinks Jim Calhoun Needs To Be Nicer, Then Writes 1,000th Consecutive Negative Column About Ozzie Guillen

Jay Mariotti thinks that Jim Calhoun is insensitive by yelling at a reporter for asking him a question about his salary. I am sure Jay would react perfectly well if you saw him in a coffee shop and asked him how much money he made...and that is a big "if" because that would involve Mariotti having to come out and face the public, who mostly despises him, twice in one day, one time for "Around the Horn" and the other to go to the coffee shop. Jim Calhoun makes $1.6 million to coach college basketball and probably makes even more than that in endorsements and other little perks like that. No one knows how much Mariotti makes because it is not public, though we do have this story that tells us he probably made $500,000 at the Chicago Sun-Times. That is a lot of money for someone who contributes nothing to the public, so just remember that as Mariotti writes about how much Calhoun makes.

But just because it was presented by the notorious Ken Krayeske doesn't mean it was inappropriate, that millions of Americans weren't curious to hear the answer.

I don't care. I would put my first ever poll up on this site asking what percentage of my 8 readers care about how much Jim Calhoun makes but I would estimate maybe 1 person would really care.

Much like Peter King, Jay Mariotti can't differentiate between why players and coaches can get paid millions of dollars while Joe Mainstreet is getting laid off from his job. The reason is that those players and coaches are part of an entertainment product that the customers like to see, and they like to see this product played at a high level and you have to pay those who play and coach at a high level with a lot of money. Hence, high salaries for them, while others get laid off. It is completely unfair but there is a reason Mariotti has never written a column on Joe Mainstreet and he has written one on Jim Calhoun. If no one cared about these high paid coaches and athletes Jay would not have a job on ESPN and would be writing obituaries in Des Moines, Iowa working on his 6th marriage. People do care, so Jay gets paid and Jim Calhoun gets paid.

Why, Jim Calhoun, should the University of Connecticut men's basketball coach be the state's highest-paid employee at $1.6 million a year ... when the state has a $2 billion budget deficit?

Why should the Sun-Times be laying off employees and you get to sign a new deal reportedly worth $500,000 until 2011?

Instead, Calhoun morphed last Saturday into a hybrid of Bob Knight and Col. Nathan R. Jessep, he of "You can't handle the truth'' fame.

You owe Bill Simmons $1 for that movie reference. Simmons has a patent on movie humor and humor about injuring yourself in anger or frustration. He invented them and if you use either of these, you will be copying Bill Simmons.

"Not a dime back," Calhoun shot back pompously at his post-game news conference. "I'd like to be able to retire someday. I'm getting tired."

Guess what, I hate Jim Calhoun. I hate him because of 1999 and 2004. I hate UConn and I can't wait for Thabeet to make the NBA so he can become a poor man's Dikembe Mutumbo, which ends up being another Shawn Bradley. Jim Calhoun is making a bullshit excuse here, there is no way I could defend him.

He needed to bring facts about the popularity of UConn basketball and how the state benefits, which Calhoun eventually would relay to Krayeske but only after making an ogre of himself and becoming a brief YouTube phenomenon.

I like how Jay Mariotti is describing to Jim Calhoun how to not exacerbate a confrontation, like Mariotti knows anything about this. The way Jay diffuses a confrontation is that he writes a column critical of someone, then talks about it on "Around the Horn," then goes into hiding so he doesn't get his ass kicked, and finally will make cheap shots directed at that person for the next two and a half years while never actually being willing to talk to this person. Jay is a coward, he would have done the same thing Jim Calhoun did and then leave the press room and go write a column destroying Krayeske.

By cracking wise, one of the best basketball coaches of his time momentarily became the Mike Gundy of 2009, the latest man who loses perspective in a press-conference setting and employs intimidation tactics when backed into a perceived corner.

These are two completely different situations. Mike Gundy was defending Bobby Reid at a press conference because a local columnist had written a column saying very negative things about Bobby Reid. He was defending his player. I realize sports columnists don't think they should be held accountable for what they write, but Mike Gundy apparently disagreed and made it very public. Mike Gundy was in the right in my mind and Jim Calhoun was being an asshole.

Still, I don't think he should have to justify his salary in public. Talk to the Athletic Director or someone else at the school, they are the people who gave him the salary. Maybe ask Calhoun in private instead of a press conference after a basketball game. My point is that a press conference is a bad place to bring this up and expect a good answer.

"My best advice to you: Shut up. If you want to talk to me outside, I'd be more than happy to talk to you. We're talking about basketball."

Exactly. This, ironically, is the advice I would like for Jay Mariotti to heed as well. I doubt that will happen.

If Krayeske wanted to talk about this he could have talked to Calhoun in private, but he did not want to do that because he did not really want to ask the question, he wanted to publicly try and make Jim Calhoun seem like he was stealing money from the state of Connecticut and giving nothing back.

Jim Calhoun did respond in a bad way, but what else should someone expect when you confront another person in public about their salary? If you are going to be rude enough to bring it up at a press conference following a game, then that person is going to be rude enough to give you a short and ill tempered answer.

He finally seemed to realize it, but the way the coach articulated his message was embarrassing, as if his program's finances were no one's business when they're actually everyone's business in that state.

He was put on the spot by some asshole guy who pretty much tries to make trouble wherever he goes. He was surprised to get the question and responded with the anger he felt. It was the wrong way to react, but everyone can't be so sensitive and get upset that Calhoun did not put up a pie chart and give handouts to everyone in the crowd justifying his salary.

Besides, $1.6 million is not that much money for a high achieving coach like Jim Calhoun is. If you compare this money to what Pete Carroll gets at USC, Nick Saban gets at Alabama and many of the other college coaches receive in college basketball, it is actually pretty fair for the going rate on success. Sure, the state of Connecticut has a budget deficit of $2 billion but I am pretty sure it is not completely because of Jim Calhoun's salary and is probably because the state legislature has spent as shitload of money on useless stuff.

"We make $12 million a year for this university. Get some facts and come back and see me. Don't throw out salaries and other things. Get some facts and come back and see me. We turn over $12 million to the University of Connecticut, which is state-run. Next question."

In truth, Calhoun and Auriemma collectively turned over $12,603,755 to the university.

Jay, notice how he used the word "we," that infers there is someone else involved and that person is Gene Auriemma. Notice how Jay uses, in truth, and then ignores the "we."

In truth, Calhoun said "we,"...asshole.

Calhoun makes considerably more than $1.6 million a year, as he said. And he deserves to be paid among the best, given the intense pressure of Big East basketball and the tireless work ethic he has poured into his profession for decades.

I am not sure if even Jay Mariotti knows what the hell his point is. He thinks Calhoun is worth the money he is paid, that Krayekse should not have brought this up at this press conference, and that Jim Calhoun's numbers were correct (before expenses). He just wants him to be nicer maybe?

One could make a compelling argument that big-time college coaches, like corporate CEOs, should give back some of the money. What these men make in the current economy is disproportionate to reality.

The only reason this argument would be compelling is because these are two completely different situations and the argument would be compelling in that it is compellingly stupid to make this argument. The corporate CEO's in the financial sector of the United States need to give money back because they went to Congress and asked for bail-out money, then took home massive bonus checks. Jim Calhoun and the University of Connecticut have asked for $0 in bail-out money from the state of Connecticut, though they do obviously use some tax payer money for the college, and he brings more into the school than he is paid.

But just the same, they're still selling out arenas and generating the same television revenue. If UConn men's basketball had $7.33 million in revenues, Calhoun's $1.6 million salary at a state university is fair enough.

In case Jay can't see, even though he just described it very well, the CEO's of firms who needed the bail-out money are not generating revenue for anyone but themselves AND they want more money, while the UConn men's and women's basketball teams are generating revenue that is shared throughout the university. This is a very poor comparison in my opinion.

"I think it was unfair in that setting," Auriemma said. "I would venture to say it's unfair in any setting. I'm sure Jim was thrown for a loop. He handled it better than most coaches would have handled it.''

Auriemma hates Jim Calhoun and he is defending him publicly. That tells me a little something.

I don't think it is unfair in ANY setting but I do believe there are better places to pose this question. I bet 9 out of 10 people would have reacted very similarly to Jim Calhoun if this question had been posed publicly to them, it's just human nature to get defensive about your salary and someone questioning your worth.

All I'm asking for is some civility and understanding.

If you know Jay Mariotti, you know that is all he has ever asked for. I am not even going to link the articles but Jay Mariotti has never shown civility and understanding whether it be in writing articles about individuals he doesn't like, getting along with his co-workers, quitting his job, explaining why he quit his job, in responses to movie critics who wrote about him quitting his job, or living his day-to-day life.

In this economy, it won't be the only occasion when someone asks a coach about the practicality of sports in an ailing nation.

This person won't be Jay Mariotti though. He would actually have to come face to face with athletes and coaches to ask them questions like this, that would involve going to press conferences and into locker rooms, and Jay Mariotti is afraid to do that because he would get his ass kicked in pretty much every single locker room in America.

In conclusion, Jim Calhoun should have been nicer in defending his salary, because he did come off as a pompous ass and acted as if it should be no person's business, which is not true. Calhoun was out of line but if anyone thinks they would have reacted differently, they are wrong.

Ray Ratto, whose picture on CBS Sportsline never fails to make me smile, also wrote about this situation...except he threw an interesting analogy in there.

Calhoun has always enjoyed his exchanges with the Connecticut media in the same way that people enjoy being hit in the stomach with sandbags. In fact, he actually tends to come off as giving far more than he actually has to take, which has led to his reputation as a poison sumac-based skin ointment in human form.

A poison sumac-based skin ointment in human form? Would this ointment prevent or cause this skin cancer? The same kind of cancer Jim Calhoun was diagnosed with in May 2008? Why don't you say that he looked like he wanted to leave the podium and go take a piss or make fun of him for having prostate problems while you are at it?

In today's overly sensitive society if Ratto had written, "Kay Yow would rather have her head shaved than lose a game," then he would have gotten letters demanding his apology for being insensitive to the fact Yow had breast cancer.

I just felt like pointing this out, I really have no point.

Umm...Jay Mariotti still stinks.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

7 comments Bill Simmons Does Actual Reporting and Now I Know Why He Doesn't Do Reporting

I am still recovering from the shock that JemeHill has written a coherent and good column that I actually agree with on most levels. I thought that was going to be my biggest shock of the day concerning ESPN, but little did I know that the biggest shock for me would be that Bill Simmons "interviewed" an athlete and did a report on it. The problem is that when Bill Simmons "interviews" an athlete he loses everything that makes him Bill Simmons (the same jokes over and over, pop culture references, and his own little self centered world) that makes others love him and me hate him and becomes a boring Barbara Walters type interview where he pretty much just agrees to the person's face the entire time. I can see him cocking his head to the side a few times during this "interview" mustering up sympathy for Baron Davis, who no person should feel bad for, but that doesn't stop Bill from trying. I will be kind and say Bill writes a reluctant puff piece.

We're eating omelettes and waiting for Baron's cell phone to ring. The trade deadline is less than an hour away.

I wonder if Baron and Bill are wearing matching robes or pajamas? Also, what happened to Bill's vow to stay away from knowing and interviewing athletes so that he can remain unbiased and not fall in or out of love with players? I guess that went away with his vow to never mention his family in his columns.

Word is, Baron desperately wants out, but the latest update is that he's staying put.

Poor Baron. It always stinks when a good player gets traded to a bad team and has to endure playing for that team. This column just reeks of sympathy.

Except there is no "Poor Baron" in this situation because he signed with the Clippers as a free agent, after opting out of his contract with Golden State and is shooting 36% from the field this season, which doesn't seem like a great field goal percentage to me. I can't believe the Clippers opened up their piggy bank for a guy who has a career field goal percentage of 41% and 32% from 3 point range and has played 82 games only once since 2002.

Just remember, we need to feel bad for him. He is a sympathetic character because everything has not worked exactly the way he wanted when he signed with the Clippers.

Against the Suns, he looked as if he'd rather have been anywhere else, jogging around with a how-the-hell-did-I-get-here? look.

That look should be familiar to anyone who has watched several Charlotte/New Orleans Hornets, Golden State Warrior, and L.A. Clipper games. Baron Davis has never struck me as the type of guy who works his ass off and is able to deal incredibly well with adversity.

Baron is almost always smiling. He has one of those big, friendly faces, which makes him always seem happy. But not right now.

I'd be pretty damn happy if I stunk at my job and still got paid millions to do that job.

Fine, Davis doesn't stink but he is not a player I would want on my team.

The competitor in him can't believe it.

The competitor in Davis can't believe what? He has the figure of John Bagley and seems to lack motivation to become a better basketball player. I would never describe Baron Davis as a competitor.

"They don't know that I'm jogging up and down wondering if I'm gonna get traded," he says.

Hurry up someone get a Waaaaaaaaaambulance. We need to get this man into the ICU (Intensive Crying Unit) immediately. If you sign a huge contract, don't live up to that contract, admit you are distracted during games, and seem discontent then, there are going to be trade talks that will involve your name. That's the state of the business, if you can't handle it, go back to producing documentaries.

As we speak, lots of GMs are thinking about dealing for him. But then they examine his contract and decide they'd rather spend their money elsewhere.

In four years, Baron Davis will be known as "Baron Davis' expiring contract," that's what happens when you get older and your passion for the game has never been that great as it is. As much as Bill would like to paint Baron Davis as a passionate guy who is in a bad situation, it is a bad situation he caused for himself by opting out of his contract. Yes, that is right, not only is Baron Davis stuck in a bad situation with the Clippers and Bill wants us to feel bad for him, he is stuck in the situation because he voided his contract with the Warriors that was going to pay him millions of dollars so he could get millions of dollars in another city.

The tone Bill is setting with this interview is that we are supposed to feel bad for Baron, and I don't.

Only 29, Baron still believes he's a go-to guy

Let's check the numbers. He's the 3rd leading scorer on the Clippers this year, 14th in FG%, 8th in total rebounds, and 1st in assists, steals, and turnovers. He sure doesn't sound like a go-to guy anymore.

"It's gonna make me better next year," he vows, sounding vaguely like Cliff Poncier in Singles.

Now this is a motivated athlete...he has already given up on this year. Bill Simmons also throws in a early 90's movie reference and it feels very forced. I love it.

That's what they called him during his happier stint with the Warriors. "You're one of those guys who play with their hearts on their sleeves," I explain. "When you're not happy, we can see it."

Bill attempts to become a part of Baron Davis' posse by kissing his ass. It doesn't work.

The problem with Bill Simmons as a reporter is that he doesn't really care about collecting information and giving an informed opinion about a situation or person. He wants to entertain the interviewee and make that person like him. He also lacks the balls to ask any type of difficult question to an interviewee, as heard by Martin, our official Liason to Bill Simmons' podcast and loyal comment contributor to this here blog, who said that Bill did not confront John Hollinger once on his podcast about how the PER ratings need to be revised until the Boston Celtics should be the #1 team in the NBA. Bill made a comment like this in one of his columns. Then he backed down when Hollinger was on his podcast and did not even mention it. He could have at least said he was wrong to think the ratings should have been revised, but that hurts Bill's ego, so on his podcast he just stays silent on the issue.

Baron counters with the I-haven't-been-healthy riff, and it is true.

He's never healthy! He has a played a total of 408 out of a possible 656 regular season games over the last 8 years.

But I think this goes deeper. He feeds off loud crowds and bright spotlights, only now he's playing for a laughingstock in a half-empty arena. He thrives in crunch time, only the Clips don't keep games close enough for that to matter. When the 2007 Warriors made their playoff run, his iconic dunk over Andrei Kirilenko showed the best of him: degree of difficulty, fearlessness and ferocity, joy. When the fans jumped off their seats, it was as if they'd been electrocuted.

This is a stupid horseshit excuse Bill is employing for Baron Davis. Any player in the world can play well and get motivated when he/she is playing in front of a huge crowd and on a big stage. It is the great players that can play well when things are going bad and everyone is not there to watch him play. Baron Davis being a fair weather player doesn't excuse the fact that he has absolutely stunk it up this year for the Clippers. When things are going great he can get motivated but when things are tough, he shuts it down. Not the sign of a great player and certainly not a reason to make excuses for him.

As in, "You can make it out of here—you could be Baron Davis!" He loves that. Lives for it. "That's why I came back," he says. "So all these kids could see that a real person from where they come from has made it."

Maybe instead of acting like a disgruntled child, Baron could play for and get motivated by these kids that supposedly were the reason he came back to play for the Clippers. Bill would never bring this up though. He's too busy eating melon and hanging out in bathrobes with his interviewee.

Baron agreed to terms on July 1, but it wasn't long before local excitement faded. Whispers soon began about reigning star Elton Brand's maybe jumping ship. Since Brand had just spent all of June recruiting him, Baron was flabbergasted.

I don't know how all of that turned out, but if you believe this article, Davis did not sign his contract until after Brand signed with the Clippers. It doesn't really matter, Baron Davis should choose the team he wants to play for based on where he wants to play, not what other players are doing.

"Elton basically begged me to come," Baron says. "He kept saying, 'We can do great things!' And I was with it."

A lot of people break promises, like how Baron broke his promise to play out his entire contract with the Golden State Warriors instead of opting out, like he ended up doing. I am sure there were no players in Golden State that were disappointed with Baron's decision to leave the team without a decent point guard, because Baron is the only one who got screwed over in this situation...or at least that is what Bill and he want you to believe.

"Was a friend," Baron says. Past tense. Elton ignored Davis' "What's going on?" texts for three days, finally responding to say his own negotiations had broken down because the Clippers "didn't treat him right."

Bill and Baron have spent this entire puff piece talking about how incompetent the Clippers front office is and how the players hate playing there, then Elton Brand says the Clippers did not treat him right in the negotiations and neither of them seem to understand this or attempt to sympathize with him.

I guess it is supposed to be perfectly fine for Baron Davis to not be happy with the Clippers but Brand has no right to be upset with the Clippers simply because he promised Davis he would play for them. Basically the world is supposed to revolve around Baron Davis and what he wants. Never mind he would not be in this situation if he did not opt out of his contract in a desperate search for greener pastures.

He has no interest in undermining his coach, although he does say the team has no identity. "I don't think we play with enough freedom and trust," he says.

I think I am going to call John Wall the Baron Davis of the Future, because I can see Wall making the same complaint 10 years from now. Dunleavy sucks as a head coach but I don't think this Clipper team is one that needs more freedom because they stink no matter what offense is run. There is a reason Don Nelson's teams don't win championships, because at the end of the day freedom and trust is great, but believing in your coaches and running the system effectively gets you further in the playoffs.

I had a fourth-row seat for the entire Rick Pitino era in Boston; I have a PhD in Knowing When an NBA Team Has Quit on Its Coach.

Bill always knows when a team has quit on a head coach because he saw the Rick Pitino Era in Boston. That's all he needs to prove his PhD because he is a Boston fan, thereby smarter than anyone else, and that one time when Boston was struggling he saw how the team had given up. He is an expert and no one else is.

God forbid Dunleavy would find the dignity to say, "I screwed this up; I can't in good conscience keep cashing paychecks"—then quit.

Why doesn't Baron Davis admit he chose the wrong team and ask the Clippers to buy him out of his contract so he can be a free agent? Why doesn't Baron Davis admit he has screwed this year up and give his paycheck back? Because he wants to get paid and is a competitor? Well maybe Mike Dunleavy is a competitor also and doesn't want to admit he can't get the team out of the doldrums he has caused. Maybe Mike Dunleavy, who was against the Baron Davis signing reportedly, doesn't think his team (crappy as it may be) should be torpedoed by a underachieving point guard.

He keeps talking about next year. As a paying customer, part of me wants to scream, "Baron, this all sounds fine, but I still have 14 home games left this season! Get your act together now!"

That would be the part of him that actually has balls and doesn't care if everyone in the world doesn't like him. That is 1.5% of Bill. Here is what the other 98.5% thinks...

The other part just feels bad for him. Yes, incredibly, I feel sorry for someone who's guaranteed $65 million during the worst economic crisis in 80 years. The guy just wanted to come home and win a title with a friend.

This is why Bill does not get to do any reporting. He becomes a completely biased reporter unable to ask sane questions and starts to feel bad for the people he is interviewing. If Davis really wanted to win a title with a friend why didn't he try to recruit Elton Brand up to Golden State? That would have made sense instead of him opting out of his contract to sign with the Clippers and hoping Brand signed with the Clippers as well.

Let's also be honest. Elton Brand will not do well in an up tempo offense like Baron Davis likes to run. Philadelphia strugged in the half court offense this year when Brand was healthy and have thrived once he was out of the lineup. Davis and Brand would not have been peas and carrots in the same offense and the experiment probably would have failed for this reason. Elton Brand requires a half court team and Baron Davis is a fast break type player. This would not be a marriage made in heaven.

Believe it or not, Bill Simmons has an intense need to be liked. He probably does not allow comments on his columns because it is easier to ignore the negativity he receives than to accept that not everyone approves of everything he writes.

He didn't ask for any of the other crap.

It comes with the fucking territory. A-Rod never asked to have his name in the tabloids or to have the entire city of New York hate him, but they do because of his contract and that he cheated using steroids. Charles Barkley never wanted to be a role model for children, but to some children he ended up being one anyway because he was famous and played basketball. If you can't deal with it, get out of the business.

This is why I never like to spend time with athletes. Will I defend Baron the next time someone rips him?

I think Bill should stay away from doing any reporting or "interviews." This wasn't a disaster but there were times Bill made excuses for Baron Davis and it wasn't really necessary.

"I'm gonna have the best year of my career next year," Baron vows again. "That's all I can say."

He is a competitor, but he has given up on this year. But next will be great, until he starts whining again...and then he will give up and start talking about next year.

I believe him. I think.

Bill does believe him. The one positive thing I can get from this "interview" is that Bill writes a pretty average puff piece.

Monday, February 23, 2009

9 comments MMQB Review: Reporting By Guessing and (Finally) a Matt Cassel Update

Peter King gives us some good reported information this morning, unfortunately none of it is actually information from actual people or sources that Peter has. It is instead based on educated guesses Peter has. That's always useful.

I know I already spoiled it in the title but we also get an update on Matt Cassel's situation in New England. Did he sign his tender or not? More importantly, why are we so worried about the status of a backup quarterback when there are about 14 other players who were franchise tagged? Those are the questions I am dying to have answered.

Let's get to the guesses.

I think Ray Lewis will seriously consider leaving the Ravens.

(Cue creepy horror film music)

I wonder what tells Peter this? Could it be because Ray Lewis has not signed with the Ravens yet or DeMarcus Ware of the Cowboys was quoted as saying Lewis told him he wanted to play for the Cowboys?

I love how on certain issues Peter actually makes an effort to give the player a call and find out what is happening, while in other situations it doesn't seem like me makes much of an effort. Maybe Ray would not return his phone calls and Peter was making an effort but it doesn't seem that way.

Will he go? Don't know. But my guess -- and it's an educated guess, nothing more -- is Lewis, who turns 34 in May, will not get a deal done with the Ravens before Friday,

There we go. That's exactly what I am looking for from an NFL Insider, an educated guess. Why actually look for information when you can get an educated guess? Thanks for the information. If I wanted information where there was no actual reporting done, I would go to TMZ.

Wouldn't that be amazing: Ray Lewis with the star on his helmet. Or Ray Lewis coming to the Jets.

Seriously, amazing? Amazing is that I watched a UFO Hunters episode this weekend about how airline pilots and even NORAD had reported multiple sightings of UFO's and there was the black box conversation that proved it. That's amazing to me.

An elderly NFL player who is a free agent choosing to play for one of two teams that have a recent history of trying to sign players that were good 5 years ago...not amazing. The Cowboys are not relevant in my world because they have to win a playoff game before I take them seriously and the Jets, are the Jets. I see nothing amazing about Ray Lewis going to the Jets.

Simply because Lewis may go to one of the NFL's cherised and overly loved teams doesn't make this an even more important story than it should be. Though if Lewis goes to Dallas, I am sure ESPN will have the first sit down interview with him and Terrell Owens, where Keyshawn Johnson asks tough questions like, "Ray, were you concerned about T.O.'s past behavior before you signed with Dallas," and "Ray, would you still hit T.O. if he went over the middle in practice?" Then everyone would laugh because everyone already knows T.O. never goes over the middle whether it be in practice or in games.

This could be a case where the Ravens -- with $19.4 million to spend under the 2009 cap -- might be forced to match a financial package that would simply be too much for the new Ryan-less regime to stomach. It'll be an interesting week in Baltimore.

Whoa. Are you suggesting the Ravens overpay for Ray Lewis? This is contradicts your own fellow writer/ex-athlete/fellow genius Ross Tucker who says the Ravens should not overpay for Ray Lewis. We have dueling educated guesses here at!

There's no long line waiting to pry Albert Haynesworth from the Titans.

This doesn't shock me. The media hyped up Haynesworth all year long and it got tiresome. I took a look at his numbers at the beginning of free agency and they did not overwhelm me that much. I don't know how many times I have read message boards encouraging my favorite team to sign him. He has played in 60 of possible 90 games over his career, has character issues, and has 24 sacks for his career with 35% of them coming in his contract year. Not the kind of player you want to give a lot of money to.

In the end, my guess is Snyder will pay up and grab him. He's the kind of trophy player Snyder would love to have, and the kind of player, if healthy, who will really help the Redskins close the gap on the Giants in the NFC East.

Great, I love guesses! I know there is no real information on where players are going to sign as of yet, but what's the point of having Peter King around if he can't get SOME information? That's what he does, he calls around and gets information, then reports it. Or this is what he should do.

Considering the Redskins were last in the NFC East last year, they may want to close the gap on Philadelphia and Dallas first before worrying about the Giants.

The Falcons are going to release Michael Vick.

Wh-Wh-What? No team wanted to trade for an overrated quarterback that is currently in jail on federal charges? I am shocked and awed.

I can't figure out a landing spot for Matt Cassel,

How about on your lap?

but I'll be surprised if he's a Patriot on July 1.

If he surprises you and is a Patriot in July 1, will you shut the hell up about him?

Cassel did sign his franchise tender, by the way;

Whew, I was worried about what the backup quarterback for the Patriots was going to do.

Ok, now cue Peter King's massive love for the New England Patriots and Matt Cassel...

I'm surprised that a quarterback who played as well as Cassel did for the last 10 weeks of the season is being viewed by most people in the league as too risky to chart a long-term course with.

What person in their right mind would be suspicious of a quarterback who goes 11-5 with a team that went 16-0 the previous season? Come on, you have a sample size of sixteen games to work from! That's plenty of information to judge Cassel on...He led a team that was 16-0 the year before to a record of 11-5, doesn't that say something other than the fact the Patriots have a good team with or without Tom Brady?

Peter wants you to ignore the fact the Patriots went 2-4 against the playoff teams last year and in those games Cassel had a completion percentage of 58%, a 7/6 TD:INT ratio, and 4 of his 5 worst games in passer rating were against the playoff teams he played. Sure, those are cherry picked numbers, but they are also what Cassel did against teams that did not have 49ers, Seahawks, Rams, Chiefs, or Raiders in their names. Cassel was not an elite quarterback this year and he was playing with a supporting cast that was elite on offense and with a genius head coach. If someone was really stupid, they would ignore these facts and sign Cassel to a massive deal. Peter King seems to ignore these facts.

I still think I'd rather have Cassel as my quarterback of the future than, say, Matthew Stafford. And the money's not that much different.

This doesn't shock me.

I think Cassel and Todd Haley would make beautiful music together.

I have nothing against Matt Cassel, I really don't, though I get to hear about him every other week in a Peter King column and it does annoy me. Other than the fact he went 11-5 for a team that went 16-0 the year before, I don't know too much about him as a quarterback and reqally have no way of judging him. He seems like he would be a great quarterback for the Patriots system, but I would be surprised if you put him on a lesser team, not to mention a team in such disarray as the Chiefs, and he succeeded. I could be wrong.

Let's say the Patriots asked Kansas City for its second-round pick in 2009 and 2010. Pioli values picks in the thirties the way most team value picks in the teens. I'd be stunned if he did it. I think he'd trust Haley to pick a Josh Freeman in this draft in the third round,

Now we have a real problem. How would a genius like Belichick let a quarterback like Josh Freeman slip all the way to the 3rd round and let the genius Pioli get him there? I don't know how the NFL is going to survive having two geniuses in the league. It may sense when they worked for the same team but now there is just genius chaos.

Once, when Stafford's visage appeared on ESPN during a training session, Pedroia yelled out, "Oh look! We're in the presence of GREATNESS!''

That Pedroia...what a kidder and he really doesn't seem like an obnoxious asshole at all. I bet if I met him face to face, I would not want to kick his ass because he seems like he has a big mouth.

I wish Stafford has just laughed at Pedroia and reminded him he was going to be as wealthy as him very soon, at a younger age, AND he can shop in the men's section at stores, then stepped on that annoying little midget.

Nnamdi Asomugha and Larry Fitzgerald are going to be the kind of quasi-Lebronish millionaires this game has never seen, other than at the quarterback position, before they retire.

I'm exaggerating about the Lebron James comparison, of course, because he'll make in excess of $300 million playing basketball by age 30. But non-quarterbacks earning $125 million, $150 million, in a career? That's mind-bogglingly inflationary.

Non-quarterbacks earning that much? How is this any more mind boggling than quarterbacks earning that much money? I know Peter has a thing for white quarterbacks, but any player earning that much in his career is mind boggling to me.

It had to do with the contract the Raiders negotiated with agents Tom Condon and Ben Dogra for Nnamdi Asomugha. Put simply, this is the kind of revolutionary contract that will reverberate around the league for this entire off-season. Maybe longer.

This was an insane contract and only the Raiders would be dumb enough to give it to a player when they so many more pressing needs.

Asomugha's average pay per year is $5.77-million per year more than Samuel's, or 62 percent more than any cornerback contract ever. Good for him. And good for the Raiders in one way -- they don't lose their best player, and because they don't force a franchise tag on him, they don't have their best player grousing about what a bad team he's on ... at least for now. But in this economy?

I get a little tired of everyone talking about "in this economy?" when it comes to player contracts. Team revenues are going to be hit fairly hard by the economy but that is not going to stop teams from signing their best players to massive contract extensions because they still want to put a quality product on the field.

Factoid of the Week That May Interest Only Me

You won't see the Jets or the Giants at home on Monday Night Football this year, the same way you saw neither team in a Monday-nighter in East Rutherford last year. Seems the league is being sympathetic to the needs of the construction site at the stadium -- the teams will share a new stadium at the Meadowlands beginning in 2010 -- and a lack of parking in and around the stadium when there is active construction makes a weekday night game a major headache.

Yep, that only interests you.

A factoid is defined as, "a spurious — unverified, incorrect, or fabricated — statement formed and asserted as a fact, but with no veracity."

Basically Peter King is saying that this statement has absolutely no truth to it and may in fact be false. I really doubt he realizes this.

I shook the guy's hand and thanked him for coming over. After three rounds of beers and appetizers, I had to take off for a pre-arranged dinner.

3 beers? Peter better watch that Blood Alcohol Content level, even though you did eat three rounds of appetizers. Seriously, I hope that is a fucking joke or I am intentionally misreading this to make funnier, though I can see Peter launching his massively round, stubby fingers into an avalanche of nachos and cheese, then some potato skins, and finally ordering a plate of fries covered in chili sauce. Who the hell orders "rounds" of appetizers? Beers, sure, but "rounds" of food?

I can't believe Peter would go out and eat all that food in this economy. You know he gets comped for that meal by either NBC, SI, or one of the other companies he works for, so that is just a waste of money...and he does that in this economy.

b. I asked Sanchez how he's going to overcome the inexperience stigma, because he threw the ball only 313 times in college. "Matt Cassel,'' he said. "He never started a game in college, and look at him.

Yeah, he was a backup for three years and now is stuck behind the NFL's best quarterback (or at least the second best) unless he gets traded. Any team looking for a franchise quarterback is going to want Sanchez to compare himself to a bit more accomplished quarterback. If I were Sanchez I would compare myself to Tom Brady or any other quarterback who has succeeded in the NFL over more than a two year time span but did not play much in college.

Plus, I played the best defense in the country every day in practice, ones against ones, at USC.''

Not the same thing as a real game. I really think Sanchez could fall in the draft. I am probably completely wrong but I just don't know how I feel about his pro prospects. If the semi-success of another USC QB and the fact he practiced against a good defense are reasons the thinks he could succeed in the NFL, then I really am not sure I like his prospects at all.

c. I'll tell you who looks like a man. Brian Orakpo. The Texas defensive end, at 6-4 and a rockish 260, looks like he'll be ready to play opening day for somebody. He's trying to model himself after Osi Umenyiora of the Giants.

Meet this year's Chris Long. The guy Peter will talk about all the time and eventually mention how the Patriots really wanted him and that is where he should have gone in the draft.

k. I don't care one bit about Michael Crabtree's stress fracture in his foot. He's been playing with it, and it can be repaired perfectly with the implantation of some screws. Players have survived and flourished with similar injuries, and I can't see any reason why he still shouldn't be the sixth or eighth pick in the draft.

Peter King doesn't care, because he is just so damn defiant. The Seahawks would have to be declared mentally deficient if they don't draft him at No. 4 and if the Bengals lose both T.J. and Chad Johnson, they should look at him as well. They may as well give up on upgrading their defense, because with Chris Henry as the top receiver Carson Palmer will get "hurt" again this year.

4. I think I know these two things don't go hand-in-hand, but the Carolina Panthers just laid off 20 employees.

Hey, I know where this is going...

You're telling me in a week you commit $60 million to Jordan Gross for six years, and $16.5 million for one year to Julius Peppers, that you've got to whack 20 employees?

I am sorry, this is laughable. Are teams supposed to not sign and re-sign players to the football team because the front office is having some issues with keeping the staff around? It sucks to have to fire employees, it really does, but I can't believe an "experienced" NFL insider would be shocked at this. If the Panthers don't sign Gross and franchise Peppers they become free agents and the team is weaker and another team signs those players making them stronger. I hate it when normal people get laid off, but this should not shock anyone that players get re-signed for millions at the same time. I would never want to get laid off and I feel bad for those that have this happen to them, but the players are the most irreplaceable staff members.

I also find it ironic that Peter questions how NFL teams are spending their money when Sports Illustrated is laying off employees and they still find enough money for Peter to pay for his hotel rooms, food, travel expenses, and probably overly generous salary to go to the Scouting Combine and God knows where else. I realize Peter is a really important person but I think they could save some money by not paying for Peter to go to the Scouting Combine and everywhere else he goes in the country, but they would rather not do that because they don't want to dilute their product. It is very similar to what Carolina did.

Also, considering Peppers is now the most wanted defensive player who is sort of "on the market" and Gross got the 2nd highest contract a offensive lineman has ever received, I think it is kind of bullshit this is the only mention these two events get. I don't need Peter to mention events concerning my favorite team, but to give full reports on the Matt Cassel and Mike Vick situations and pretty much ignoring these events is not being the best journalist you can be.

This is from a purely neutral point of view, as much as I can be, because I actually have never really liked Julius Peppers...but to cover Matt Cassel repeatedly in such in depth coverage and to completely ignore the Julius Peppers situation, except in passing comments, reeks of journalistic bias. I don't care where Peppers goes, I just want him gone, but I think Peter should break down where he could go or anything related to the situation, just like he has done for Matt Cassel innumberable amounts of times.

teams need to show loyalty to the people who've worked hard for them -- people not at the top of the salary foodchain.

Says the guy who did not get laid off from Sports Illustrated while his traveling expenses are still being covered by the company.

9. I think some cornerbacks and some defensive linemen are going to make an awful lot of money Friday morning.

Only the teams that have not had staff member layoffs will sign these player though. Right Peter?

a. Kate Winslet is so real. I'm glad she won Best Actress. Was that one of the great Oscar speeches you've ever seen?

Why is it when an actor/actress has a real life body weight or image, the press constantly makes them seem like more real people? She is married to a high profile director, has been nominated six times for Academy Awards and is a millionaire. That is not the definition of real. She seems like a great person but shut up about this.

e. You had a chance, A-Rod. You had a chance to do the honorable thing and say you either made a mistake or flat-out lied about Selena Roberts breaking into your home and stalking you and your children, which is patently wrong. You didn't do it. You should be ashamed.

Yes, A-Rod should be. I agree. Speaking of Selena "The Dude" Roberts, where is she on uncovering those other 103 names on the steroid list? I guess she has sold enough books and doesn't feel the need to do this. Again, not defending A-Rod, but there are other players on that list and I would love to know who they are. At this point pretty much every meaningful record set in the past 10 years is under question and, on a personal note, it would make me feel very good to see Mike Piazza's name on the list. He has made me sad many times and I need revenge.

f. I got the Blackberry Storm. Phones are never going to be the same again.

For those that can afford a Blackberry Storm, this is great news. I can't believe Peter King is bragging about his brand new fancy phone that very few people can afford...and doing it in this economy?