Saturday, October 31, 2009

10 comments Dave Dameshek Wants Progress, In the Form of Using an Old Bowl System

I had heard something about Dave Dameshek prior to writing this post. All I remember is that somone wrote Dave Dameshek was either a great writer or a crappy writer. I can't remember which description about his writing I heard and I don't even remember where I heard this. I don't know whether to hold his affiliation with ESPN against him in determining this or not. All I have to judge him upon is this article about how bad the BCS bowl system is. I know, what a novel concept for a column, I am not sure "bashing the BCS by suggesting another system" has ever been done before.

It's been a whole week since I have semi-defended the BCS system that I neither care for nor hate, so I figured why not have another go at making it look like I like the current system in place? I spent so much time defending Aaron Rodgers when talking about Brett Favre two summers ago it seemed like I was firmly in Rodgers corner, even I didn't give a damn. Why not paint myself in a corner again with an opinion I don't hold very strongly, even though it seems like I do?

I wouldn't be surprised if I'm named Father of the Year.

It's never a positive sign when a column starts off with talking about a person's family. Ok, maybe not "never" but it is not a very positive sign in general.

This Sunday, I skipped watching my beloved Pittsburgh Steelers host the undefeated Minnesota Vikings so that I could go to a Halloween carnival with my 2½-year-old daughter.

On Sunday October 25 you went to a Halloween carnival? A full 6 days before the actual date of Halloween? Oh God, it's Halloween Creep, someone better call Gregg Easterbrook immediately and have him include this example in his upcoming TMQ when he talks about holidays that "creep" up on us!

If I do win an award, though, I'll have to share it with TiVo. See, TiVo allowed me to record the game and watch it -- without commercials! -- when we got back from the shindig.

It's the latest example of why I'm in favor of progress.

So Dave Dameshek favors progress because it means he doesn't have to make a choice between spending time with his daughter or watching a Steelers game? Without progress would this have been a difficult choice for him I wonder? I am against progress because I want to know if Dave Dameshek would have chosen watching the Steelers game over going to a Halloween carnival with his daughter.

Point is, progress is good.

Yes it is. Without progress I am just a very pale guy accosting strangers on the street to see what their opinion on the latest sports news is and complaining to them about the lousy article that appeared in the newspaper that day. Essentially I would be jailed at some point. Progress has allowed me to avoid jail.

Sometimes, though, through trial and error, it becomes clear that well enough should've been left alone.

Bruce Jenner's face proves that.

I wish we could get some progress through this article because it just feels like we are killing time at this point until we get to the actual purpose of this column.

So does Jay Leno's 10 p.m. show.

And we are killing time now... Jay Leno was essentially kicked off "The Tonight Show" in order for Conan O' Brien to take over "The Tonight Show" and the only reason Leno got his 10pm show every night is because he would have gone to ABC to do a late night show, which would have been the same show he does now at 10pm on NBC. NBC didn't want him to compete with Conan, so they let him have a nightly talk show. If we think this one through, progress would have caused the exact same Jay Leno show to air, just at a later time in the night.

Sometimes progress means more of the same.

And so do the AFL throwback uniforms we're seeing this season. Anyone with two eyes and an ounce of fashion sense knows the more modern unis are inferior to the retro getups.

Really? Some of those uniforms were just incredibly ugly. I feel fortunate my favorite team didn't form until 1995 because I don't know if I could handle watching a game with either team wearing those ugly uniforms from the AFL or even two decades ago. I guess I don't have fashion sense because a good many of those uniforms were just one solid, ugly color...and it is pretty hard on the eyes to look at.

Now, it's time for college football to acknowledge its computers are evil and in the process of destroying things. The old-school approach worked just fine.

Here we go. Essentially what Dameshek is saying is that progress is good, unless there is too much progress, in which case progress can be bad because good things start to change(isn't this the same "progress principle" those who are racist/sexist believe to show why minorities or woman suck? I am not saying Dave Dameshek is either of those, I am just saying...). He believes the BCS bowl system represents too much progress over the previous bowl system, which was so memorable and worked so well it is creatively called "the old system."

The old system is not that much different from the BCS system. I realize they are actually different, but the differences in the systems aren't so vast that to change from one to the other will turn college football and the sports loving public on their respective heads.

Sorry, I'm not going to argue here for a playoff system. For all the greed-based reasons that have been detailed ad nauseam, it ain't gonna happen any time soon. We're stuck with the polls.

I think this represents progress in the discussion of a college football bowl system...realizing the futility of suggesting a playoff system. It's a money thing and won't happen soon.

Until the powers that be "fixed" things, Jan. 1 was the crown jewel on my sports calendar. Five games, perfectly distributed throughout the day, played by arguably the 10 best college football teams in the country. No dead weight anywhere on the schedule.

I actually can not disagree with this principle. The bowl games are too spread out for my tastes now. I feel like all of the momentum is sucked out of the season when the "important" bowl games are played at a slow bleed throughout the new year.

The Fiesta Bowl served as a zesty appetizer, two potent teams shooting it out in the desert.

As opposed to super exciting Oklahoma-Boise State Fiesta Bowl in 2007, the exciting Texas-Ohio State game in 2009, or the controversial 2 OT National Championship game between Miami and USC in 2003?

Look at the Fiesta Bowls prior to the BCS? Do the scores look omore exciting than the scores AFTER the BCS? I say no.

An hour or so later, the Cotton Bowl kicked off in Dallas, pitting the Southwest Conference champ (was it always Texas, or did it just seem that way?) against another top-quality foe.

Again, I ask you the reader whether the Cotton Bowl games now seem less exciting than the hyped up games that Dameshek envisioned in his head? Again, I say no. It's not like the quality of this game took a huge dive when the BCS started. The BCS puts different teams in the game, but the game quality hasn't seem to dip at all.

Next came the Rose Bowl. Big Ten champ versus Pac-10 champ. Midwest versus West Coast. Corn-fed brawn versus suntanned flash. More often than not, it was USC, UCLA or Washington versus Ohio State or Michigan.

Absolutely nothing has changed with this. It is still Big Ten champ versus Pac-10 champ. Dave Dameshek is longing for the days of fast times and fast cars of 1995 while currently living in the days of fast times and fast cars in 2009. Nothing has really changed. The date of the game has changed, while the Rose Bowl games hasn't changed that much.

And then it was time for a prime-time doubleheader.

I can get behind the January 1 should be the big day for football idea. That I can get behind. What I can't get behind is the idea the quality of these bowl games has declined or the BCS system has caused a massive difference in whether these games were exciting or not. I also can't get behind the idea the BCS has let undeserving teams into the Rose Bowl. The scores really don't look that different for these bowl games before and after the BCS and the decision on what teams should play in the game is the same for the Rose Bowl.

When those five games were finished and you put your head on the pillow, you always knew who the national champion was.

Except for the fact this isn't a completely true statement. There are tons of polls that decide for themselves the National Champion every single year. Obviously the Coaches Poll and the AP Poll are the most popular and generally reflect the consensus National Champion, but there are other polls which can show unanimous or non-unanimous agreement with what the BCS decided.

The BCS was originated in 1998. Check out this chart of National Champions and teams that received votes as the National Champion since 1869. Let's see how easy it is has been to determine a National Champion before and after the BCS came into effect. I am only using 15 years before the BCS for comparisons sake.

Before the BCS, the 1997, 1994, 1991, 1990, 1986, 1984, and 1983 seasons all had legitimate splits on who the actual National Champion was for that year. That's 7 seasons in the last 15 years of the "old bowl system." I wouldn't say this comes close to always knowing who the National Champion is at the end of January 1.

After the BCS, the 2008 and 2003 seasons were the only two times when the polls couldn't seem to agree in the majority on a National Champion.

This may have something to do with the fact the polls may have contracts to agree with the BCS or it may not. Honestly, I didn't have time to investigate if each poll followed the BCS...but I really doubt that many polls just follow the BCS. What would the point be of having your own poll if you just piggyback the BCS at the end of the year?

What I do feel confident saying is that the BCS has made it neither harder or easier for sure to name a National Champion every year. If I was forced to choose at gunpoint, I would say it has actually made it easier to choose a National Champion compared to the old system. As I said a couple weeks ago in the Mike Celizic post I did, there are ties at the top of the polls at the end of the year sometimes and the world tends to move on. Everyone is looking for certain answers and the old system doesn't provide those.

Well, almost always. Once a decade or so, two teams would share the title. So what? The BCS system hasn't silenced those teams that think they got jobbed. At least with the old system, it was all wrapped up in one day.

Basically the old system sucked too but it just got teams complaining over with in one day. What an unconvincing reason to move back to the old system.

Please just give me back the old system. If you do, I promise Jan. 1 will be a treat for every college football fan.

All the games in one day would be a wonderful thing, but the old bowl system does not represent progress and won't solve the crucial problems with the BCS at all. It's nearly the same as the BCS in many ways. Having all the football games in one day would be great but the old system won't improve the quality of the games. That's all I care about as a sports fan. I want the games to be good games between two good teams and I don't care what system is used to make this happen.

Here's how it would look this year:

Let's see how screwed up it would be this year. Let's note what teams will be left out, unfairly included or snubbed in some fashion.

FIESTA BOWL: (Note: No sponsorship names will sully the lovely simplicity of the bowls' monikers here.) LSU vs. loser of USC-Oregon

COTTON BOWL: (Because I'm going back to the old way, the conferences will return to their old constructs, too.) Texas vs. loser of Florida-Alabama

ROSE BOWL: Winner of USC-Oregon vs. Iowa

ORANGE BOWL: Oklahoma vs. Cincinnati

SUGAR BOWL: Winner of Florida-Alabama vs. TCU

Notice what team gets completely and utterly snubbed by the old system? That would be a potentially undefeated Boise State team. What has TCU done that Boise State or an undefeated Texas team hasn't done? What in the hell has Oklahoma done to deserve to be in the Orange Bowl? They are arguably lucky to even be ranked in the Top 25 at this point. I am not saying they don't deserve to be in the Top 25 because they have only lost to Top 25 teams, but they don't deserve the Orange Bowl no matter what system is being used. Based on how they are playing now, any bowl projection that has Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl while leaving out the ACC Champion and Boise State is a flawed system.

Compare these projections to the bowl projections for the BCS found here. I know these may not be the sexiest matchups but the BCS bowl projections at least have teams who deserve to be in a "Big 5" bowl game. I don't know if Oklahoma or LSU has deserved that right from Dameshek's old system projections.

All right, so maybe you're underwhelmed by the prospect of seeing the Gators go up against the Horned Frogs. Think of it this way, though -- TCU is a school with zero recruiting clout and no recent winning track record, but they'd be getting a shot at the national title against one of the big boys.

TCU actually has a pretty good recent winning track record. Granted, they haven't made any BCS bowl games but TCU has been a consistently good team over the past couple of years. Since 1998 they have been 98-37. The fact they have no recruiting clout doesn't mean they deserve a shot at the National Championship. Only proving it on the field like an undefeated Boise State, Texas, Cincinnati, Alabama or Iowa (and maybe TCU if they stay undefeated but I think they should be behind at least 4 of these teams) team have done shows they deserve this National Championship shot.

Now that's progress.

No, leaving out an undefeated Boise State team for an LSU or Oklahoma team is pure lunacy. The bottom line is that the old system is not that different from the BCS system and it certainly isn't a guaranteed improvement.

Friday, October 30, 2009

7 comments Peter King Talks About Crappy Teams

Everyone remember to update your College Pick ‘Em teams by tonight and also update your Fantasy Football rosters.

One part of the Peter King archive at CNNSI.com I tend to ignore more than I probably should is his Tuesday mailbag, which follows up his Monday Morning Quarterback column on Monday. Usually he posts it too late in the day for me on Tuesday and at that point I am moving on to better and more exciting things (i.e. TMQ/Gregg Easterbrook). Don’t get me wrong, his Tuesday mailbags aren’t nearly as long or as full of his normal drivel as his MMQB, but they still have parts with no redeeming qualities. Let’s see what happens when Peter talks to the people.

Seems to me we have nine bad teams in football right now.

Doesn’t that just feel like a lot of teams that just aren’t any good? That race for the Top 3 picks in the NFL Draft may be tighter than the Wild Card and Divisional races this year.

The worst teams fall into three categories. Separating the badness:

I swear to God if one of the categories is the “Bruce Coslet Division” I am immediately sending Bill Simmons an email telling him that Peter King is ripping him off. Peter better not test me.

The Blow It Up And Start Over Division: Tampa Bay (0-7), St. Louis (0-7), Cleveland (1-6), Kansas City (1-6), Detroit (1-5).

What an interesting division name for five teams who literally blew it up and started over THIS PAST YEAR. So when I say “interesting” I mean “completely not accurate or descriptive of what this division should be called.” These teams have already blown it up and attempted to start over.

Every single one of these teams got a new coach in the offseason and every team but St. Louis and Cleveland got new quarterbacks. I see what Peter is saying, but let’s call this division something else. How about the “Teams That Have Shown Little to No Hope For Immediate Progress” Division?

It All Starts With The Quarterback Division: Oakland (2-5), Washington (2-5), Carolina (2-4).

I think it starts and ends with MUCH more than the quarterback in Oakland. If Peter thinks JaMarcus “The Misguided Missile Launcher” Russell is the only problem in Oakland then he may need to make another trip to Oakland before this season ends. Russell is a huge problem for the Raiders but he isn’t the only problem.

I am going to be fair here to Washington. They tried EVERYTHING they could this offseason to get a new quarterback. They tried to trade up for Mark Sanchez and trade for Jay Cutler. They may as well have had a billboard on the side of the highway with a picture of Jason Campbell saying, “QB for sale,” in the process making it clear to him they don’t care to have him around anymore. If I am not wrong Campbell’s contract runs out this year, so he is in the middle of making sure he won’t ever get a starting job with any other NFL team since the Redskins, who aren’t good, didn’t want him and he certainly isn’t giving them any reason to keep him around. Washington tried like hell to get rid of Campbell and upgrade their quarterback position.

I know this may come as a shock to those who don’t pay attention very closely, but there aren’t that many great quarterbacks just hanging out in the trade or free agent market. So Washington failed in their attempt to upgrade the quarterback positionbut they tried extremely hard to get rid of Campbell this offseason.

Carolina is a different story. Ignoring the fact management gave him a new contract this offseason after one of the worst postseason performances by a quarterback in the history of the NFL, which was an absolutely retarded thing to do, Carolina didn’t exactly have a huge amount of options. What were they to do with Delhomme after his meltdown against Arizona? They had three real options:

1. Get rid of Delhomme and draft another quarterback to start this year. There is no way Delhomme could have stayed on the roster as a backup since he is the winningest QB in franchise history and for some reason his teammates love him. It just couldn’t happen. The Panthers weren’t drafting low enough in the draft to get Sanchez or Stafford without trading up and I am pretty sure only Tampa Bay liked Josh Freeman as much as they did. Throw in the fact there is no way they could have afforded a higher 1st round draft pick because of Julius Peppers’ franchise tag and this really wasn’t a reasonable move. Knowing what they knew then, they couldn’t just get rid of the QB who led the team to a 12-4 record and put him as the backup.
2. Sign a free agent quarterback to start or backup Delhomme. This would have been the best move but the Panthers like Josh McCown as the backup and if he hadn’t gotten injured he would be starting right now. Otherwise there wasn’t a hell of a lot out there, as Washington would attest. Jeff Garcia would not be a good fit for the offense, Rex Grossman was never an option and I think we have all seen what Matt Cassel can do and have been fairly unimpressed…plus Cassel had the franchise tag which would have stopped Carolina from trading for him unless they moved Peppers in the same trade or prior to the trade.

3. Draft a young quarterback in the later rounds to back up Delhomme and hope he develops. Then the team is in the same position they are in now with Matt Moore. There is a young guy who NO ONE trusts to run the team well and the team will continue losing. At least there would be a young quarterback with potential on the roster, but the outcome of that young QB not being prepared enough would be the same.

Sorry for the long list, but for Washington and Carolina there wasn’t a whole lot they could in this offseason to improve the quarterback position. Washington tried desperately and failed, while Carolina didn’t see fit to get rid of the leader on a 12-4 football team. So Peter’s division category title is sort of correct in the end because each team has massive quarterback troubles but in the case of Washington the problem was a little bit out of their hands.

They Never Should Have Drafted Vince Young Division: Tennessee (0-6).

How bad was the quarterback market this past offseason? Kerry Collins got a 2 year deal. The Titans just had to hang on to him.

It’s funny because for someone who names an entire category after how bad Vince Young is, Peter King certainly didn’t hate Young at one point. Here are some choice Peter King quotes as related to Vince Young:

The link. The quote from an “All-Futures Team” that CNNSI.com put together (and it is a double whammy):

I thought long and hard about JaMarcus Russell, because he's a much more efficient and accurate quarterback (right now) than Young. But I settled on the Tennessean because of how good he was as an NFL frosh running and throwing, and because he's such an electric player. And I figure his accuracy will improve in the next few seasons.

Another link.

It is a long story from Sports Illustrated that says Young could be a bust but it was also favorable towards him.

How about this link?

On this 2007 “All Current Team” Peter King put Vince Young THIRD among quarterbacks. That would be ahead of every quarterback in the NFL except Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. Now it is 2009 and Peter King is second guessing the Titans for ever drafting Young. Archived articles can be a bitch sometimes can’t they? Especially when they show how a sportswriter is second guessing a decision that sportswriter seemed to support at one time.

The last four teams have quarterback problems that will keep them down until solved.

JaMarcus Russell is a disaster; we don't need to see any more of him to know his pocket presence and awareness are horrible and his accuracy just as bad.

Yet in 2007 Peter thought Russell was an accurate and efficient quarterback. This is why Peter is not a scout.

In Carolina, John Fox has to be wondering if Jake Delhomme is Steve Sax.

Or Chuck Knoblauch. Or Mark Wohlers. Or Steve Blass. Take you pick.

Also, John Fox announced today that Jake Delhomme will be starting this upcoming week, which means the showdown for worst quarterback in the NFL between JaMarcus Russell, Derek Anderson, and Jake Delhomme continues to be on. I am excited, though I really don’t think any player will be able to beat Russell if he has an entire season to prove how bad he is. He is awful in such a consistent manner.

But the five teams in the Blow It Up Division have three things in common. If I'm the owner of any of them, I think it's foolish to think anything but stay the course and let's evaluate everything after the season.

So Peter thinks all the teams in the “Blow It Up Division” should stay the course and NOT blow it up this offseason? Which of course leads me to the question of why he would call it the “Blow It Up Division” if he doesn’t think any of the teams should blow up the teams and start over?

Peter King: A man of mysteries, coffee, crossword puzzles, and enigmas wrapped in a big question mark.

Scott Pioli was given a free hand to reconstruct the Chiefs in his vision from the ground, and he's in the 10th month of probably a three-year building job doing that.

Obviously signing an underachieving and expensive quarterback before he proved he could quarterback a team that had not gone 18-1 the year before was a part of that vision. Along with getting rid of Tyler Thigpen, the only quarterback on the team last year who had some success as a starter. This was another vital move important to the cause of blowing the team up and impressing Peter King with the Chiefs progress by reminding Peter how smart Pioli was when he worked in New England with Bill Belichick…and probably promising Peter an autographed Matt Cassel football in order to say nice things about him.

At Tampa, Raheem Morris probably got his job a year too soon,

Year? As in singular? I was thinking “year(s)” or perhaps “a decade,” would have been the appropriate length of time he got a head coaching job too early.

Steve Spagnuolo got to know everyone in the building in St. Louis and promoted team to the point where he took down all individual current photos of players in the building.

Most likely also because if the Rams are going to succeed any time soon none of the players currently on the team, except a handful, are going to be on that team which ends up successful.
Cassel and Stafford are their teams' quarterbacks of the future and are going through growing pains.

I can’t help but wonder how long Peter is going to make excuses for Matt Cassel. Matthew Stafford is a rookie this year and is 21 years old on team that was epically bad last year. Matt Cassel is a 27 year old quarterback who has been in the NFL for five seasons including nearly one entire year already as a starter on a team that was nearly perfect the year before. Now Matt Cassel is on a team that is horrible. How many growing pains can we expect a guy who got a huge new contract based on his performance last year to go through? Shouldn’t Cassel be over the growing pains part of being an NFL quarterback by now? Isn’t that why the Chiefs traded for Cassel over drafting a young quarterback? I thought it was because Cassel was a more proven commodity and would be ready to play well immediately?

Cassel is supposed to be a talented quarterback who would bring leadership and some experience to a roster that was starting over and now Peter is trying to convince me he is supposed to be having growing pains? I don’t believe it. My opinion is that Cassel was at his peak ability last year when he had a good offensive coordinator in Josh McDaniels and a great coach in Bill Belichick to guide him and give him players on offense that helped to make his job easier. Matt Cassel is not paid all that money to have growing pains, he should be the steady part of the Chiefs team based on his time in the league and his experience as a starting quarterback in the NFL. That’s just my opinion.

Which team will turn it around in 2010? My guess is Detroit and Kansas City have the best chances because they have what appear to be strong GMs, strong coaches and quarterbacks who look like they have a chance.

I know I keep dumping on Scott Pioli, but I think Pioli has Peter King snowed because from what I have heard Bill Belichick was the decision maker in New England and Pioli was only a part of the decision making process. Nothing I have seen since Pioli left for Kansas City and Belichick has stayed behind in New England has caused me to think this is not true. Peter wants to believe Pioli is a strong General Manager but I submit he may not be as strong as his track record indicates because that New England team is Bill Belichick’s and it always has been that way.

Now for some of the mail Peter gets and actually decides to answer…since he never answered any mail sent from someone who comments on this blog.

From Jeff of Atlanta: "Good point on fans in Tampa never seeing Tom Brady, etc., because of the game overseas, but don't you HAVE to make that overseas game a cross-conference game? Otherwise, a conference game -- or even worse, a division game -- that might decide a playoff spot is lost, and the team that gave up that home date is REALLY penalized.''

Jeff from Atlanta is absolutely correct in saying this. I am sure Peter will have something insightful to say.

PK: I'm sure that's what teams will argue. But if I'm a fan, I tell my owner, "How can you rob me of my one chance to see Tom Brady EVER? I pay good money for these tickets. Take away the Jake Delhomme game, please. But not the Brady game.''

Isn’t there some sort of middle ground on this issue? Maybe a non-conference game that features a boring, non-sexy quarterback? I may not be a big enough NFL fan to really give a shit whether I get to watch Tom Brady play in my home stadium, it’s just not that big of a deal to me. Possibly this is different for other fans. I wouldn’t turn down tickets to see Tom Brady play, but I also am not sure if I missed him playing against my favorite team at home I would immediately begin to contemplate suicide.

Regarding NFL games that go to England to be played, I think it would be possible to put a non-divisional game together that wouldn’t cause the fans to miss a fan favorite from playing for his one, and possibly only, time in Tampa or any other city. Or the NFL could just get over putting football in England be satisfied with being the #1 sport in America. I guess that would be too easy for them to do that.

From Ashley of Cincinnati: "Man, those crossword comments were harsh. It's like they think you won the Nobel Peace Prize prematurely.''

Is it really harsh to treat a sportswriter badly when he is using his status to massage his ego by basically begging for recognition in the form of being a crossword puzzle clue? Peter essentially said in a column a few weeks ago, “This is my dream and what I want…I wonder if anyone could make this come true?” It was an ego trip for him, so yes, he is going to get some criticism about this.

I know the Sunday crossword people, and believe me, they're not big Monday Morning QB fans.

Nor are they big fans of a grown man openly soliciting others in a passive-aggressive fashion to soothe his ego and need for recognition. That was the name of Peter’s game in his attempts to be a clue in the crossword puzzle.

-You may remember Scoop Jackson’s absolutely horrid article a few months ago which asked the question, “What If Brett Favre Were a Woman…” If you have forgotten the article then I deeply apologize for bringing it up and linking it again. It was an epically bad piece of journalism that took maybe 10 minutes to think through and write a rough draft for. If this were the olden days Scoop Jackson would have been drawn and quartered for publishing an article of such horrible content and wasting the precious resources of the community, like paper and pen.

Fortunately, it is not the olden days, so it is just our eyesight and short/long term memory that has to suffer at the hands of this journalistic Hindenburg. Scoop will not suffer any long term effects from writing said article, except negative effects to his reputation, which from reading his work prior to this article he doesn’t seem to care too much about anyway.

Even the title of the article sounded like a bad rip-off of the Harry Carey skit on “Saturday Night Live” where Will Farrell playing Harry Carey asks absurd hypothetical questions to another character in the skit. He asks questions like:

“We all know the moon is not made of cheese, but if it was made of barbeque spare ribs, would you eat it then?”

Or…

“Would you let the Predator monster play baseball if he promised to not kill anyone on the field?”

The title sounded like something that would fit in with a question asked in that skit. Ignoring the content of the article, the title just sounds like something that is an absurd question. Getting to the actual content, if anyone read it, the title may be the best part of the article. Even Hollywood is not stupid enough to make a sequel to a shit-fest movie like “Battlefield Earth,” but the inherent badness of a column has never stopped Scoop from writing previous articles, so why would it stop him from writing a sequel to his “If Brett Favre was a woman” article? It wouldn’t and it didn't.

I have had some bad ideas in the past on this blog and often I don’t return to those ideas because they weren’t great, so I wish Scoop would have the same policy. Here are some excerpts from his “Favre/woman” sequel article.

OK, I'll take him.

I'll take him out on a date, bring him home to Mama, put a ring on his finger.

Was I wrong for asking the question in the first place? Wrong for even putting it out there like that? Wrong for questioning who he was and what he could do?

In a word, yes. Scoop was wrong for writing the article that had the question and then running out of ideas and writing another article with an answer to the question in the first article.

Nope.

Yes.

This probably-one-week-too-late pseudo mea culpa was prompted by my boy Biscuit's comment after the Packers' win against the Ravens in Week 6

Scoop has a friend nicknamed (hopefully just nicknamed and that is not his real name) Biscuit?

Between that and Bill Simmons having a friend nicknamed “House” I think I am the only person in the world who calls his friends by nicknames that aren’t physical objects.

Mirror, mirror on the wall … The mirror knew all along. It was me who was the dumbest of them all.

Here is finally some self-realization from Scoop.

He is Brett Favre.

The diva whom, if he were a woman, I'd take to the altar.

I said Scoop’s prior “Brett Favre/woman” article took 10 minutes to think of and put together…I say the sequel took maybe 5 minutes. Maybe. I know I have said this before, but ESPN really should be sort of embarrassed to publish this type stuff. I want to believe Scoop is better than this.

-The AP Preseason College Basketball poll came out today and I would be more excited if I didn’t realize the preseason poll means absolutely nothing because it never reflects the rankings by the end of the year. Since no one cares, I thought I would give my thoughts on the initial poll and try to predict the changes that will happen to it through the season…because there will be massive changes to how it looks between now and early March.

In spots #1-#10, Kansas is ranked perfectly. I already have them and Villanova in the NCAA Championship Game this year. I think Kansas is our eventual champion, as I explained before they have all the components I personally look for in a championship team. Villanova therefore is under ranked at #5. It wouldn’t shock me if they spent time at #1 this year or even go into the NCAA Tournament as the #1 overall seed. Michigan State is over ranked a little bit, as is West Virginia in my mind. It’s not that WVU isn’t a good team but the Big East is still a tough conference this year and I don’t see them as being the second best team in the conference…plus
I never trust Bob Huggins’ teams.

In spots #11-#20, I think UConn will move into the Top 10. Mississippi State, who I really like this year, will move up near the Top 10 and I think Oklahoma is over ranked by a little bit. Unless Willie Warren turns into Kevin Durant overnight, I don’t think Oklahoma is quite as strong as they get credit for and I do like where Ohio State is ranked. I don’t know what Georgetown has done to put them at #20 in the AP Poll, but I think this could be the year the team’s seeming underachieving gets John Thompson III on the hot seat. I love Greg Monroe and gang as much as the next guy, but they have to prove to they are a good team on the court and just not on paper for me to believe in them…especially after Georgetown’s year last year which was underachieving to say the least.

In spots #21-#25, I think Illinois is over ranked and Georgia Tech falls under my previous “Georgetown principle” where they are a team of potential and that is about it. It’s hard for me to justify a 12-19 team making the top 25, no matter what kind of recruiting class that team gets. I think Maryland, Syracuse and Xavier will end the year in the Top 25. I also like Florida to be in the Top 25 by the end of the year. Yes, I know these are all “major conference” teams.

-Last thing for today. I am not going to say I was right about DeJuan Blair and Ty Lawson being great pro prospects, but I am getting my end of the year pre-NBA draft post ready that complains about teams passing over great college players who have perceived height or weight issues for players who can’t play at all but look like they could be great players. Apparently the fact Blair outplayed the #2 pick nearly every time their teams played each other last year was not impressive to scouts because “he is short and seems slow.” Regardless he can rebound in traffic well and knows how to use his body to his advantage. It is almost unfair the Spurs got him in the second round. He’ll never be an All-Star but he is going to be a much better player than a good number of the guys drafted before him.

As far as Ty Lawson goes, nothing against Brandon Jennings and the other point guards in the draft, but Ty Lawson was the best player on the best team in college basketball last year so he should have been chosen higher. UNC-CH was a team that had two other first round picks and a second round pick, along with a future lottery pick in Ed Davis, in the rotation…and Lawson was more important than any of them. There should be no shock that he is going to be going to be a difference maker on that Nuggets team. So he is shorter than the ideal point guard, who cares? I can’t believe NBA teams would pass on him for what seems to be that reason and really that reason only.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

19 comments JaMarcus Russell Explained

Not even I thought Clark Judge would go this far. I have stared into the face of someone sort of in a roundabout way defending JaMarcus Russell and have returned to tell the harrowing tale. Gather round friends.

Which of the NFL's many bad teams has the worst QB situation?

wow, talk about lobbing softballs. There is only one right answer here, Prisco, go!

It has to be the Oakland Raiders. They used the first overall pick in 2007 to take JaMarcus Russell with the idea he would be the franchise quarterback for years. He's been a major bust. Why? He doesn't seem to care. The word is he doesn't put in the work that he should. That's a recipe for failure. There isn't much behind him either. Bruce Gradkowski? Please. The Browns and the Titans don't have great quarterback situations either, but it's not as bad as Oakland. Would you rather have Kerry Collins and Vince Young or Russell and Gradkowski? Thought so. How about the Oakland duo or Cleveland's Derek Anderson or Brady Quinn? That one is close, but I'll go with the Browns situation as being a tad better. So Oakland it is.

JaMarcus Russell is an artist of being terrible. The football field is his canvas. Fumbles, interceptions and incompletions are the brushstrokes. There's never been anyone in my lifetime in professional sports who has been given this much opportunity to showcase his utter and complete lack of ability to play the game he is paid to play. I mean, this is largely self evident, but to fill in the gaps.

Russell was taken #1 overall in the 2007 NFL Draft. Other players from the first round Oakland could have had instead. WR - Calvin Johnson or Dwayne Bowe. OL - Joe Thomas, Ben Grubbs or Levi Brown. DB - LaRon Landry, Darrelle Revis (current trendy "best DB" pick), Michael Griffin, Brandon Meriweather and Leon Hall. LB Jon Beason or Patrick Willis (IMO the best defensive player in football). And we haven't even mentioned Adrian Peterson, the best player in football. Maybe if Peterson and Russell are in the same room, it will cause a rip in the space time continuum. A kind of ying and yang of football ability. Anyway, that, is the opportunity cost of the Russell selection.

Then there are the numbers.

Russell's current QB rating this year is 47.2. How bad is that? In the last eight years, only two years have ever been within 10 of that bad. The next closest is 55.8. And yes, Derek Anderson is at 40.8, but he's taken less sacks and thrown less interceptions in a similar number of attempts. After the first game of the season, here are Oakland's point totals; 13, 3, 6, 7, 13, 0. Derek Anderson's teams have eclipsed 13 twice in the same span. He also has a history of some (limited) success.

Ultimately, the Browns have a QB who was once kinda good, led a 10-6 team that was dominant offensively in the first ten weeks or so of the 2007 season, and a high draft pick who, unlike Russell, has not really been given a great deal of time to show his (likely terrible but not definately so, wares). The Raiders have the embodiment of disappointment and fail. They aren't in the same dimension. Clark Judge, I'm sure you have something wrong to say about this...

Cleveland. Because there's a conviction about nobody

in nearly every Judge column there's a WTF moment. Three weeks ago it was "what if Mark Sanchez is injured, what will the NFL do???". Then we had "I think Ronnie Brown might be better than Michael Vick out of the wildcat". This week it's "certainty in promoting a terrible player is better than uncertainty regarding two poor players". Someone make sense of this for me. Cleveland are aware they need a quarterback, they are also cognizant of the fact that both of these players kind of suck. Admitting you have a problem is the first step to recovery. I'm not even sure Oakland have an inkling of just how bad JaMarcus Russell is.

The Browns tried Brady Quinn, a quarterback they traded away a first-round draft pick to acquire, but jettisoned him to move on to ... Derek Anderson? OK, but Anderson has been dreadful. Yet Eric Mangini won't budge on him, and don't ask me why.

because he's a bad coach? But at any rate, weren't you just criticising a lack of conviction in Cleveland's organisation about their QB situation? You totally were! Like three sentences ago! And now, here is Mangini, being wrong but staunch about Derek Anderson, exactly what you just demanded of Cleveland (and, apparently incorrectly said was not present in Cleveland) and you criticise them. What do you want Judge? Do you even know at this point? We're not even halfway through your first answer and already you are incoherant. Jesus H. Christ.

And what about Brett Ratliff? Mangini wanted him in the Mark Sanchez deal, but why? Beats me. He can't get a sniff. When you stink, I believe in playing young guys to get experience.

not Vince Young, apparently.

But that's not happening here. Worse, the Browns invested two first-round draft picks in Quinn and a ton of money in him and Anderson, yet they aren't sold on either.

They aren't sold, Clark, because they aren't fucking good. They shouldn't be sold. These are not good football players. If you were sold on players of this caliber you'd be fucking insane...or Oakland. How can you not see this?

"When you miss on a quarterback in the first round," Jets coach Rex Ryan once said, "you ruin the franchise." The Browns qualify. Three quarterbacks, no future? Yeah, Cleveland has my vote.

and what happens when you miss with the first pick? This is just utter nonsense.

Is starting an NFL franchise in London a good idea?

God, what a dumb question. Travel, local interest, just, a hundred thousand reasons why this is a dumb idea. What about if San Francisco has to travel to London? It's a thirteen hour flight. That's two and a half times longer than San Francisco to New York.

Prisco: Not right now. But down the road, I would understand. The NFL wants to go global, but in this economy the NFL needs to put a team in Los Angeles first. Keep it home. If the L.A. market gets going and another franchise is ripe for moving, then look at London. I think it's doable. The travel would be tough, but there are ways to work around it. The NFL will figure it out. By going to London, it would help bring more fans to the game and generate more revenue. Is seeing half-empty stadiums better than seeing a team in London? I think not. Roger Goodell is big on one day going to England. It will happen. It's only a matter of time, and I, for one, understand why. It's about money. It always is.

where's the infrastructure here to support this? There's a circus and a circus, and this really is a bridge too far. I will never ever understand the no LA team thing, no matter how in depth someone tries to explain it to me. No point wasting more time on this ridiculous question. It's really amazing how little depth the questions have in Faceoff but whatever.

12 comments TMQ: Play Calling Problems

This week's TMQ was described by Rulebook as being horrible. He actually said, "this is his worst TMQ of the year, which is quite impressive." I didn't plan on doing TMQ every week, I swear, but how can I ignore a TMQ that may be Easterbrook's worst of the year? I can't.

I want to divert everyone's attention first to this Deadspin post about Bill Simmons and about the foreword to his new book written by Malcolm Gladwell. I don't usually link Deadspin for various reasons, though I do tend to visit the site everyday so I don't completely hate it, but I thought this was a good post. I think what it says in that post sums up well some of the problems I have with Bill Simmons when it comes to him wanting to be a GM for an NBA basketball team.

Ok, let's dive into the TMQ for this week. The title is "Coaching is Overrated."

In the cult of football, surely few things are more overrated than play calling.

I already have a problem. There is a difference in saying "coaching" is overrated and "play calling" is overrated. I think coaching is overrated, but play calling is not overrated at all in my mind. What a bad way to start off this week's TMQ.

Teams have game plans and based on those game plans they make play calls, which basically can decide whether a team wins or loses a football game depending on how the players execute the play call and what play the other team calls. This is easy stuff to understand and not overrated in my mind. Great play calling can separate a good team from a bad team and a bad from a good team and can cause a team to go 9-7 and miss the playoffs or go 11-5 and have a home playoff game. Coaching may be slightly overrated at times, but play calling is not.

Other commentary boils down to: "If it worked, it was a good call, if it failed, it was a bad call," though the call is only one of many factors in a football play.

Among sportswriters who follow the NFL, Gregg Easterbrook is by far the worst at taking part in this commentary he is criticizing here. His TMQ is based pretty much entirely on doing second guessing play balls based on the outcome of the play. He includes second guesses like this for 10,000 words every week...along with including some critiques of the US Space Program, cheerleader biographies, and obscure references to 19th century scientists. This type commentary is what Gregg does.

Good calls are better than bad calls -- this column exerts considerable effort documenting the difference.

And Gregg then judges the difference based on whether the play worked or not.

But it's nonsensical to think that replacing a guy who calls a lot of runs to the left with a guy who calls a lot of runs to the right will transform a team.

Again, Gregg sees things in black and white, while ignoring the gray he doesn't want to pay attention to. It is nonsensical to replace a guy with another guy based on the example given here, but if a team is a great running team and can't throw the ball and the offensive coordinator insists on throwing the ball for the majority of the plays, this will have a major effect on the team's ability to win football games.

In fact, Gregg uses this exact same example I just used above later in this very TMQ to criticize a coach and a team's play calling...while suggesting the play calling is submarining the team. So he opens up by saying play calling is overrated and then comments later how a team can't succeed because of the shitty play calling. This doesn't include all the examples he gives of coaches calling bad plays in situations which cause his team to lose games.

I know I contradict myself sometimes, but I try not to do so in the same post and in the first paragraph of something I write.

TMQ's immutable Law of 10 Percent holds that good coaching can improve a team by 10 percent, bad coaching can subtract from performance by 10 percent -- but the rest will always be on the players themselves, their athletic ability and level of devotion, plus luck.

This is a dumb law. How did the Dolphins go from 1-15 to 11-5 last year? They got a new coach and a new quarterback, but other than that nothing else changed dramatically. How did the Panthers go from 1-15 to 7-9 in 2002 with Rodney Peete being the new quarterback and getting a new coach being the only really dramatic change? Hell, even the Lions this year actually look like a competitive team and they have a rookie quarterback starting for them. I can list 100 other examples, but players do have something to do with it, but the coaching and play calling also has an effect. I'm not saying coaching is not overrated or this was all the result of a new coach, but coaching can hurt and help more than 10%. Shockingly, I hate this law Gregg has.

If the players are no good or out of sync, it won't matter what plays are called; if the players are talented and dedicated, they will succeed no matter what the sideline signals in.

This can be true, but also doesn't prove that coaching and play calling is overrated. Bad players can be made to look better when the play calling is great and good players can look bad when the play calling is crappy.

When Michael Crabtree finally signed with the 49ers, TMQ warned of a Crabtree Curse -- Mike Singletary had spent a year in San Francisco instilling the message that nobody is bigger than the team, and suddenly it seemed you could jerk the 49ers around all you wanted and get $17 million guaranteed as your reward.

For someone who is a journalist Gregg Easterbrook has a major problem getting his facts straight. The 49ers offered Michael Crabtree the slotted amount for the 10th pick in the NFL Draft and then he began to hold out of camp and wanted more money. He then signed the original contract the 49ers wanted him to sign at the original amount they wanted to pay him. So San Francisco actually won this fight and did not actually let Michael Crabtree jerk them around at all. Signing Crabtree for the slotted amount doesn't mean the 49ers believe he is bigger than the team at all. It wouldn't have made much sense to lower the original offer once he started holding out of camp because then they never would have gotten him signed and this could have negatively affected them in future negotiations.

The 49ers won this battle so there should be no Crabtree Curse.

Kickoff temperature in Pittsburgh on Sunday was 52 degrees -- so why did Brett Favre wear a woolen ski cap to the postgame news conference? TMQ has noted that while Favre once shrugged at inclement Green Bay weather, now the aging quarterback's performance declines sharply when it's cold. If 52 degrees now makes him reach for a ski cap, good luck to the Vikings when they play at Chicago on Dec. 28.

Brett Favre's performance declines as the NFL year progresses and the weather gets colder as the NFL year progresses, so maybe Favre doesn't play poorly in cold weather, he just plays poorly during the end of the NFL season when the weather gets colder. This is just a counter-theory to Gregg's theory.

Cheerleader of the Week: Johanna of the Miami Dolphins, who according to her team bio was born in Florida and works as a model.

Look! Cheerleaders!

Rather than more biographical information, Johanna's team page describes the products she likes -- Starbucks, MAC cosmetics and Viva la Juicy perfume. Cheerleader product placement! But is she receiving an endorsement fee?

I don't know, but is she receiving any type of check from Gregg Easterbrook or ESPN for Gregg using her picture in this column? Or is he exploiting cheerleaders again?

Sweet Play of the Week No. 1: Houston has yet to appear in a high-profile game, so you may be missing the fun of Gary Kubiak-drawn plays.

I love it when sportswriters just assume fans of the NFL only watch the high profile games on NBC and ESPN. Simply because they as sportswriters watch those games and tend to ignore some other teams and their games, they just assume the fans do the same. Not true, many fans try to watch as much of all the games as possible. I've seen Gary Kubiak's offense before and I have seen the Texans play before and I am sure many other fans have as well. Kubiak has been running similar offensive stuff for two years now, just because Gregg started noticing doesn't mean everyone else is behind the curve as well.

Notice how Gregg is complimenting the play calling here and crediting the Texans success as being because of it? Yet he still feels the play calling by teams is overrated...

I wrote "game over" in my notebook when Indianapolis made it 14-3 in the first quarter, but considering how awful Les Mouflons are, this does not count as a prediction.

If this WERE a prediction I would say what a bold prediction to write "game over" after the Colts scored 14 points in the first quarter of a game that was supposed to be lopsided anyway. I guess it was less a prediction and more a statement of fact.

Oh and beside this passage was a picture of two Houston Texans cheerleaders. I still wonder how Gregg doesn't understand the irony of him saying the NFL exploits the cheerleaders by using their image in commericals without paying them, while he runs pictures of them (without them getting paid for him using their image) in his weekly column.

Game scoreless, San Diego had third-and-goal at the Kansas City 3-yard line. Chiefs cornerback Brandon Carr lined up 2 yards deep in the end zone, meaning all wide receiver Malcolm Floyd (the man Carr was covering) had to do was step forward and turn around to be open for a touchdown pass. Which is exactly what he did.

I have to admit this was kind of stupid for the Chiefs to line up like this, but Brandon Carr is 6 feet tall and Malcolm Floyd is 6-feet-5-inches tall, so it sounds to me like the Chiefs were trying to protect against Floyd running a fade in the end zone. It's not smart to line up this far off a receiver on the goal line, but Gregg doesn't try to think too hard to explain why the Chiefs may have lined Carr up this way. Floyd has the height advantage and they may have ineffectively trying to take this away.

With New England leading 21-7, the Patriots lined up four-wide, then sent tight end Ben Watson in motion almost to the sideline; he ran a fly pattern and caught a 35-yard touchdown pass. That was sweet. He was covered deep by a linebacker because, though New England faced first-and-20, Tampa did not have a dime package on the field. That was sour.

On first-and-20 it is not automatically going to be a pass play so putting the dime defense on the field just doesn't make sense to do without thinking. Gregg always thinks in football if "A" happens then you do "B" and it just doesn't freaking work that way. I wish someone would slap him in the face and tell him this. Football is not a game where everything is linear like that, if Tampa put a dime package on the field then the Patriots could have used this to their advantage by running the ball. You don't automatically put a dime in on certain distances. Football can't work that way. Coaches have to pay attention to what down it is and what the opposing team has successfully or unsuccessfully done in the game to that point.

If the Bucs put in a dime defense and the Patriots run a draw for 10 yards then it is merely second-and-10 and the Patriots will have a good chance of getting the first down. I am not saying the dime defense is wrong here, but you don't just automatically put that defense in the game on first-and-20.

Why is the Wildcat being called a gimmick? Nobody says it's a gimmick when the Patriots run the shotgun spread. Nobody says it's a gimmick when the Steelers or Packers go with an empty backfield. There's a presumption that only a conventional set with a quarterback standing in the pocket counts as real offense.

There is not a presumption that a conventional set with a quarterback in the pocket is the only thing that counts as a real offense, there is just a presumption that any offense run without a quarterback behind center or in the shotgun is a gimmick offense. This is partially because no offense that does not involve the quarterback being behind center in some fashion hasn't stayed popular in the NFL for longer than a couple years...therefore the offenses like this are seen as gimmicks.

Miami facing third-and-long, Williams had his defense show big-blitz, then rush only three. Novice quarterback Chad Henne was so confused, he basically threw the ball away, though under no pressure. Then on fourth-and-13, Williams again didn't call a blitz -- Henne again seemed confused, and threw the pick-six that ended the contest.

On the last play Henne was probably not confused, he just couldn't find anyone open because the Saints had rushed only 3 or 4 guys and dropped 7 or 8 guys into coverage. Most likely Henne was not confused, there was just no one open. Maybe Gregg feels better thinking Henne got confused about this, but I don't know if that was true or not. I hate how he just constantly assumes things to be true and I am not sure he thinks it all through before making these assumptions.

With five seconds remaining in the first half, the officials signaled that Marques Colston of New Orleans had scored a touchdown. But a booth review was called, and it was clear the touchdown would be nullified and the ball spotted at the 1-yard line. New Orleans had no timeouts; the moment the overturn was announced, the clock would start. Boy Scouts coach Sean Payton had sent his kicking team onto the field and told it to be lined up, awaiting the decision. (That is, New Orleans effectively announced to the referee that it knew the touchdown should be overturned.) Could New Orleans have launched a field goal with just five seconds remaining after the ready-for-play signal?

The clock doesn't start the second the referee overturned the call, but the clock starts the second the ball was spotted, in which case New Orleans could have spiked the ball and stopped the clock...so yes New Orleans could have launched a field goal and didn't have a clock problem.

We'll never know, because Miami coach Tony Sparano then called a timeout! That meant the clock was stopped when the review decision was announced. And, while the replay official was reviewing the play, Saints quarterback Drew Brees lobbied Payton to let the offense go for the touchdown -- and convinced him. So New Orleans sent its offense back onto the field and scored a touchdown on the final snap of the half; essentially, Sparano gifted the visitors with an extra four points. When New Orleans had a clock problem, why did Miami call timeout?

I don't know if Sparano gifted the Saints with four extra points, it was actually the Dolphins defense that gifted the Saints with the extra points. Really the Saints could have decided to go for the touchdown after they had spiked the ball. Due to the fact they could have spiked the ball, the Saints didn't have a clock problem. For someone who starts this column off with the idea that coaching is overrated and doesn't have a lot to do with a team's failure and success, Gregg sure does a lot of bitching about how bad coaching has cost teams points from week to week.

Then Gregg starts talking about NBA trades and how they don't make sense to him, even though he explains exactly why each of the trades he mentioned were made, which is salary cap reasons, so I don't know exactly what he is confused about.

Then Gregg starts talking about NBA trades again and explains what each team got in the Shawn Marion trade, which was cap room for Memphis, and then wonders if Memphis is part of a collusive process in the NBA because they didn't really benefit from the trade...other than the cap room they got of course, which was the benefit. He can't list the benefit a team got from a trade and then question what benefit the team got from a trade and expect this to make sense.

By the Hammer of Grabthar, He Was Avenged! Cedric Benson ran for 189 yards against Chicago, the team that not only waived him but bad-mouthed him around the league.

I spoke about this on Monday but the Bears bad mouthed Benson because he was a locker room cancer and underperformed his entire career in Chicago. Of course Gregg doesn't follow the NFL close enough to know this, so he just assumes Chicago was in the wrong, which they weren't. A team that drafts a locker room asshole who gets paid a ton of money for being a high draft pick and then underachieves has the right to badmouth that player for being a jerk and not playing well. I still think it is funny Benson now has the carrot of a new, even bigger contract that gets him to play well for the Bengals and then he will probably tank again if he gets a new, longer, more expensive contract.

Pierre Garcon of Indianapolis, low-drafted out of Division III Mount Union, and low-drafted unknown Julian Edelman of New England, are also playing well at wide receiver, while numerous high-drafted big-bucks receivers perform poorly. My guess is that Austin, Garcon and Edelman don't have ego problems. They are happy to be in the NFL, work tirelessly, and don't whine if everything is not exactly precisely what they wanted. And what two running backs are getting most of the carries for the league's top offense? Undrafted Pierre Thomas and undrafted Mike Bell.

Oh my God, there are two examples of undrafted players who are doing well on the New Orleans Saints! That must mean undrafted players are better than drafted players in nearly every single case. The Saints have a QB drafted in the second round, a running back/wide receiver drafted in the first round, two receivers drafted in the first round, a tight end drafted in the first round and that doesn't include the defensive line which has three first round draft picks out of the four spots in the starting lineup. I'm going to stop there because you get the point. The Saints have two undrafted players but the majority of their key players are highly drafted.

There are great undrafted players in the NFL, but the majority of players who are impact players were drafted in the first three rounds of the NFL Draft. This isn't just a trend for the Saints, this goes for pretty much any team in the NFL.

Carolina managed to lose to Buffalo despite a 425-167 edge in offensive yards; three Jake Delhomme interceptions doomed the home team. TMQ has been asking all season and asks again, with Delhomme playing poorly and the Panthers' rush offense strong, why do Carolina coaches continue calling so many passes? Against the Bills, counting sacks and scrambles, Cats coaches radioed in 25 rushing plays and 46 passes. The Panthers gained an average of 4.6 yards per rush, facing a team that is ranked last in the NFL against the run and allowed 318 yards rushing in its previous game. Delhomme may be throwing to the wrong team -- but it's Carolina coaches who are telling him to throw.

I referenced this earlier in this post, but Gregg is criticizing the play calling of Carolina and infers the play calling is causing the team to lose games. This goes against his idea that play calling and coaching can't lose or win games for a team, but instead insists good players are good players no matter what. This is a great example of Gregg contradicting himself and a team that has its strength in running the ball being hurt by poor play calling.

For its part, the Buffalo defense has a hard-to-believe nine interceptions in its past two games -- but doesn't hold sole possession of the league lead in picks! Buffalo is tied with New Orleans for No. 1 at 13 -- another indicator that the Saints' defense is a bigger factor than generally realized.

I am afraid I am going to have to stop Gregg's tunnel vision once again. Maybe the reason the Saints defense has so many interceptions is because the Saints offense scores points quickly and teams are forced to come back and beat the Saints by throwing the ball. Obviously this isn't the case for every single game the Saints have played, but this could also explain the reason why the Saints are tied for the league lead in interceptions.

Buck-Buck-Brawckkkkkkk No. 1: Dallas leading Atlanta 27-14 with nine minutes remaining, the Falcons faced fourth-and-2. Matt Ryan pleaded with coach Mike Smith to go for it -- Atlanta averaged 4.6 yards per offensive play. Smith did the hyper-conservative thing and ordered a punt. So what if the ball was on the Atlanta 28 -- a conversion was likely, while punting all but assured a Cowboys victory. Outraged, the football gods allowed Dallas to return the punt for a touchdown.

We've discussed this "football gods" thing 100 times and it is never not seen as bullshit. Gregg just cherry picks these situations when going for it on fourth down doesn't pay off and tries to portray it like punts are returned for touchdowns all the time when a team doesn't go for it on fourth down. It's funny that Gregg has mentioned so many punts returned for touchdowns lately since two weeks ago he indicated a punt would be as likely to be blocked as it would be returned for a touchdown when talking about the decision by New England to set up a return against Denver instead of going for the punt block. I think he has short term memory loss and can't remember what he wrote from week to week, so he doesn't even know he is contradicting himself.

I would love to know exactly why the odds of a conversion here were "likely" on fourth-and-two? Gregg loves to just announce things like this with no statistical proof to back it up.

Gregg also inserted a picture of a Dallas cheerleader beside this paragraph. Seriously, he exploits more cheerleaders by showing their image without compensation more than any 30 second DirectTV commercial ever could.

Buck-Buck-Brawckkkkkkk No. 3: Trailing Arizona 24-14, Jersey/A faced fourth-and-1 on the Cardinals' 2 with nine minutes remaining. Tom Coughlin did the hyper-conservative thing and sent in the field goal unit; it would have been better to try and fail, pinning Arizona against its goal line, than settle for a field goal when close to paydirt. On its final possession, Jersey/A was in Arizona territory but had to play for the touchdown, and failed; had the Giants gone for it from the Arizona 2 and succeeded, at the endgame they could have played for a field goal.

Or if the Giants had gone for it on fourth down and failed they would have been completely out of the game. This is a judgment call and the only reason Easterbrook brings this up as a bad call is because it did not succeed at the end of the game, otherwise we wouldn't have heard him say anything about it. Most of Gregg's criticisms are dependent on knowing the outcome of the game and second guessing coaches based on that outcome. It's annoying.

Michigan State led undefeated Iowa 13-9 with two seconds remaining, Iowa ball on the Michigan State 7. All the Spartans need is a stop and the game ends with a monster upset. A sack is not needed; in fact, meaningless. As seven Michigan State defenders crossed the line at the snap, yours truly said aloud, "Iowa wins." And yea, verily, it came to pass.

Ok idiot, a sack is meaningless but pressure on the quarterback is not meaningless because it could cause the Iowa QB to throw an interception or rush his throw and throw an incomplete pass. Quarterback pressure is not meaningless. The Iowa quarterback did a great job of recognizing where the blitz was coming from and throwing the ball. I would not have sent the house in this situation but teams also don't rush the quarterback just to get a sack, but also to get quarterback pressure. I think that was the purpose here.

There's no "right" to be a 19-year-old doctor or airline pilot, and no "right" to play in the NBA. The league is a private enterprise that sets its internal rules, and a 20-years minimum would very much be in the interest of the NBA.

I sort of agree. I think kids should have to spend 2 years in college at a minimum but I understand why this rule is not in effect.

The current "one and done" exception -- one year of college, then declare for the pros -- means players who might have become well-known college stars, and arrived in the NBA with high public standing, instead are barely known at the college level, then enter the pros as unknowns with little promotional potential.

I disagree. This statement has limited factual basis. I think Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Love, Greg Oden, Derrick Rose, and Michael Beasley would disagree as well. The teams they played for (except Miami and sort of Minnesota) built their team lineup and many of their promotions for the team around these players. The one-and-done rule actually allows the player to get known at a college level and gives him increased exposure once they go to the pros...at least more exposure than allowing high school kids to go straight to the NBA and skipping college. Few people knew who Kevin Durant was before he enrolled at Texas and after just one year he was a household name. Gregg really has no point here.

God, I thought Gregg Easterbrook was bad at talking about the NFL. He's not so hot at talking about the NBA either.

Consider JaVale McGee, who left college for the 2008 draft as a 19-year-old sophomore. McGee went in the first round to Washington, but is a raw talent who did not play particularly well in his one year on the court in college. Had he stayed in college and become a great player, fans would say, "Wow, the Wizards got JaVale McGee!" Instead fans say, "Who is JaVale McGee?" Because McGee jumped too soon, odds are he will have a hard climb to be more than a journeyman in the NBA, because at the pro level, he's not getting the minutes he needs to learn.

Gregg Easterbrook knows JaVale McGee is going to only be a journeyman because he hadn't heard of him coming out of college and he didn't play much as a 19 year old rookie. That's the only reason he states this. If Gregg hasn't heard of a player, he must not be very good, which of course goes against his infatuation with undrafted players in the NFL.

It's a little bit early to say McGee is going to be a journeyman in the NBA.

As a rookie he averaged six points and four rebounds -- dismal figures for a 7-footer advertised as a power center.

He is 19 years old! He is advertised as a power center once he grows into his body and actually reaches legal drinking age. For a 19 year old rookie center six points and 4 rebounds isn't great but it also isn't absolutely terrible.

Kevin Garnett averaged only 10 points and 6 rebounds his first year in the NBA and he is on track to make the Hall of Fame. Let's hold back a little bit before judging a 19 year old backup center.

I am not saying players should make the jump to the NBA too early and I think JaVale McGee made a mistake in jumping to the NBA when he did, but for some players that is the route they want to take. Gregg explains how this could actually hurt their career earnings down the road and I actually agree with this in principle, but this is just how the NBA works right now.

Every NBA team wants the player Sebastian Telfair might have become, had he not jumped directly from high school to the pros. No team wants the player Telfair actually is -- a me-first type who won't listen to coaches.

Would this attitude really have changed by playing a couple years in college basketball? Probably not. Telfair was supposed to go to Louisville so who knows if Rick Pitino would have whipped him in shape or not. Sometimes a player's attitude is a player's attitude and it won't change. Think of some other point guards from Telfair's local area who made it to the NBA, like Kenny Anderson and Stephon Marbury, their attitudes didn't change dramatically just because they spent a year or two in college. There is no guarantee Telfair would have matured if he had been in college for any period of time. He always believed he was hot shit and that probably wasn't going to change.

Hidden plays are ones that never make highlight reels, but stop or sustain drives. Trailing Pittsburgh 13-10, Minnesota reach first-and-goal at the Steelers' 10, from which Brett Favre threw a touchdown pass that appear to put the Vikes in the lead. But the play was nullified by a tripping penalty that made me scratch my head: What Jeff Dugan did not only looked clean, it looked like textbook blocking. Three snaps later, on third-and-goal from the 8, Favre fumbled and the rock was returned for a touchdown by Pittsburgh linebacker LaMarr Woodley.

This is the second or third time I have heard this play referred to in an NFL column this week. This play was in no way "hidden" because it had a HUGE effect on the game and I am pretty sure this bad call made a few highlight reels as well. So basically, again Gregg describes a play as "hidden" when it is a vitally important play to the outcome of the game...and again, just because a play is not in the highlight reel doesn't mean that play is unimportant.

Gregg then begins to talk about the NBA and how crazy the contracts are in the league. We get it. It doesn't make sense the way teams sign players just to waive them. Either figure out how it works or shut up about it because I can't handle this all season.

TMQ has long contended that football rules are too complex; also, the NFL refuses to reveal its officiating manual, which explains such things as how a zebra determines what counts as pass interference. The NBA by contrast recently put its rulebook online, complete with multimedia examples of what is and isn't legal. Great idea -- do the same, NFL. In the new rulebook, I did find this interesting definition:
TRAVELING. If the player with the ball walks off the court and out of the arena, hails a cab, goes to the airport, and buys an airline ticket, at the point that he boards the plane, he shall be whistled for "traveling."

Ladies and gentleman, it's Rick Reilly! Thanks for the joke Rick!

Rick will be providing the jokes in TMQ from now on...which is ironic since TMQ itself can be a joke at times.

New England showed the "quirk," four receivers on one side. (Trips is short for triple, so TMQ contends quirk should be short for quadruple;

I am pretty sure this is called quads.

Also, beside this paragraph Gregg has a picture of a New England cheerleader. This is the last time I will say this, but he exploits the cheerleaders far worse than the NFL does. His whining about the cheerleaders in DirectTV commercials not being compensated for their image while he uses cheerleader's images every week with no compensation screams of hypocrisy.

Finally someone, in this case D'Antoni, made that clear. On the day Marbury signed with defending champion Boston, the Celtics were 47-12 (.797). Boston immediately lost to Detroit on national television, and for the remainder of the season went 23-15 (.605) and was bounced from the playoffs. Sure, the injury to Kevin Garnett was a huge factor, but Garnett was out well before Marbury arrived.

I don't think having Stephon Marbury on the team was the cause of the team "only" going 23-15 to end the year, but it had much more to do with teams figured out how to beat the Celtics without Garnett on the court, as well as the loss of Leon Powe to an injury in the playoffs. I like how Gregg admits Garnett being injured was the real reason the Celtics started losing, but this doesn't stop him from still putting the blame on Marbury. But.........

Let's do a little fact check: Kevin Garnett missed 25 games last year due to injury. Stephon Marbury played 38 games with the Celtics. So obviously Gregg is extraordinarily wrong in saying Garnett was "out well before Marbury arrived." Essentially Gregg has absolutely no point with his "Marbury theory" and the Celtics decline had much, much more to do with the loss of Kevin Garnett.

Running Up the Score Watch: Possession results for Nebraska versus Iowa State: fumble, punt, touchdown, interception, punt, fumble, punt, fumble, fumble, fumble, punt, interception, interception (noted by reader Andrew Miller of Arlington, Va.). Can it be coincidence that Nebraska is 1-2, with a disastrous eight turnovers Saturday, since the day the Cornhuskers ran up the score to 55-0 against hapless cupcake Louisiana-Lafayette?

Yes, it is coincidence.

And as noted by reader Steve Sayre of Redmond, Wash., perhaps the football gods are punishing Texas Tech -- which lost big at home on Saturday -- for scoring a touchdown on the game's final play against New Mexico, despite leading 42-28 with two seconds remaining.

But Gregg, Texas Tech is one of the teams the "football gods" had beat Nebraska as punishment for running up the score, but this happened AFTER Texas Tech ran up the score on New Mexico. Texas Tech beat Nebraska in Nebraska, so Texas Tech only got punished with one loss for running up the score, while Nebraska was punished with two losses for running up the score. Care to explain how and why the "football gods" chose to punish Texas Tech less than Nebraska even though they committed the same crime of running the score up? I guess this answers the question of what happens when two teams cursed by the "football gods" meet...and the answer is there is no such thing as the "football gods."

Reader Tom Lewis of Seattle notes that the University of Washington just dropped BYU, a tough opponent, from future schedules, while adding two Division I-AA cupcake schools, Eastern Washington and Portland State .

Here we go.

The problem, Sarkisian further told the Seattle Times, was that the Huskies are only willing to host Division I-AA schools, not to engage in a home-and-home. That's what the boosters want, to party-party-party by the home field on the day of a 50-point auto-victory.

Unsurprisingly Gregg misses the issue here. The issue is that Washington doesn't want to schedule a road game for 2011 because they need the income that "X" amount of home games will provide them. It doesn't make this any more right necessarily, but Washington can not afford to already give up one more home game in 2011. Home games provide revenue for schools like Washington which is used for many other athletics at the school. So basically the school is playing "cupcake" teams because they need money to fund other athletic programs at the school and can't afford to lose a home game by playing a better opponent who will want to play a home-and-home. This is looking way too deep into this situation for Gregg though, so he just takes one look at the situation and starts criticizing away.

I made it through another TMQ. Tell me if I missed anything.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

6 comments 14 Lessons In Baseball Knowledge Idiocy

Before I get to the chat for today, I couldn't help but notice

the direction Bill Simmons' book tour was taking him here in North Carolina. It looks like from some of the other cities he is visiting on his book tour he is going to major cities in the hopes to get the most fans possible out to see him...which is logical. There are at least five major cities in North Carolina he could hit if he wanted to do the same thing: Charlotte, Greensboro, Winston Salem, Wilmington or Raleigh. For some reason he is planning on going to Chapel Hill to do his book tour and I wondered why.


(Here comes a potential leap on logic) I think it is because he tends to be a front runner, no matter how much he denies it, he has only paid attention to the Boston Bruins when they have made the playoffs the past two years and we have really heard very little about the Red Sox in the past couple months since they aren't competing for the World Series. In Chapel Hill is located a certain college basketball team that has great success two out of the last four years and I think he may have his book tour stop through there simply because he wants to be a front runner of sorts and be sort of affiliated with that success. I know it sounds sort of dumb, but I believe he wants to sign books where there is a winning team so he in some bizarre way can be affiliated with that. This may be a bit of a reach, but I thought I would through it out there.

As pretty much everyone knows by now it is World Series time which means baseball will soon crown a champion, though Mike Celizic knows logically we should just hand the crown to the Yankees, but this also means we only have a precious few JoeChats left. Since we are getting ready to start an (what I think will be) epic World Series, I thought we would all be remiss if we didn’t get some thoughts Joe had on the playoffs and baseball in general.

I will be using the chats from October 6 and October 20 of this year and using the awesome new way I have designed to break down chats that cuts down on the clutter and focuses on the stupid/misguided response of Joe Morgan. Before we begin, remember this is the lead baseball analyst for ESPN, so lower expectations accordingly.

From the October 6 chat.

1. (Who Joe thought would win the Tigers/Twins game for the right to face the Yankees in the Division Championship)

You can almost flip a coin.

So do that and then give an answer to the person asking the question.

I know they're playing in Minnesota so they'll have the crowd and the homefield advantage. But I've seen the situation where the road team has won these playoffs before. I was involved in one in 1980 in Los Angeles. I was with the Astros and the Dodgers beat us three straight to end the season and tie for the division championship. We won on Monday and we won by a big margin. It wasn't a close game. But what it did do, it cost us Joe Neikro, our ace at the time. He had to pitch the tiebreaker game and wasn't available for the first game of the playoffs.

This was Joe’s entire answer. What we learned:

-You can flip a coin and the odds of it landing heads is 50% and the odds of it landing tails is also 50%.

-Homefield advantage is important except when it isn’t important.

-Joe Neikro was not able to pitch the first game of the playoffs in 1980 due to pitching in a tiebreaker game.

What we didn’t learn:

-The answer to the question of who Joe thought would win in the Tigers-Twins AL Central tie-breaker game.

The Tigers could get hot and score a lot of runs early. I think that's their chance of winning. If it's a close game, I think the edge goes to the Twins.

Shockingly Joe was right about this. Unfortunately he loses points since he doesn’t explain exactly why the Twins had the edge if the game was close.

2. (If Jason Varitek should be benched in the Angels-Red Sox series.

Victor Martinez is one of the best hitters in the game and when you play Varitek, you're taking Mike Lowell's bat out of the game.

Really? Victor Martinez is probably one of the best hitting catchers in the game, though he doesn’t catch full-time, but one of the best hitters in the game? .303/.381/.480 is his line and he is great but he is not one of the best hitters in MLB. Here are the numbers for the rest of the Red Sox infield:

Mike Lowell: .290/.337/.474

Kevin Youkilis: .305/.414/.548

Dustin Pedroia: .296/.371/.447

Victor Martinez: .303/.381/.480

Alex Gonzalez: .238/.279/.355

Victor Martinez was not even the best hitter among the infield options for Terry Francona and his numbers were similar numbers to two other guys in the Red Sox infield. Let’s not get carried away with this. Victor Martinez is a good hitter, but he isn’t one of the best hitters in the game of baseball.

That's the decision that Francona has to make. The leadership of Varitek or the bat of Mike Lowell.

Jason Varitek’s line for 2009: .209/.313/.390. Was this even a hard decision?

3. (On why he thinks Juan Pierre should have played instead of Manny Ramirez in the playoffs)

It's not just the small ball that they missed. It's the energy that he brings every day and the threat that he brings as far as running the bases and stealing bases.

Look, Juan Pierre had a great year but he is an out machine. When he gets on base, he can steal bases but he has had trouble getting on base in the past. Manny Ramirez is a much better baseball player and the worst year he has ever had is better than Juan Pierre has had in his very best year. Manny Ramirez is still playing at a high level and Juan Pierre had a decent year which caused everyone to go apeshit with excitement over how good he played.

“Energy” and “the threat of the stolen base” means absolutely nothing if a player is not on base and if you take Manny Ramirez out of the lineup for these two things then you are in essence taking your best hitter out of the lineup. Therefore Juan Pierre should be a pinch runner only.

He made it clear that when Manny came back that he was his left fielder and Pierre was his extra man.

Because this is how it should have been. What is the world’s fascination with Juan Pierre?

4. (Who Joe thinks deserves the NL Cy Young Award?)

I would give it to Wainwright, but there are a lot of people that believe that Carpenter deserves it.

Again, the question is who JOE thinks deserves the NL Cy Young Award, not who EVERYONE ELSE seems to think deserves it. Joe is horrible at answering questions and I think ESPN only keeps him on the payroll as a cruel joke on me.

Wainwright pitched more innings, he was there the whole year.

Innings would be about fourth or fifth on my list of things to look at in determining the Cy Young winner for the NL, but at least it is in the category of stats to look at.

ERA and strikeouts don't impress me as much as wins do. The name of the game is to win.

No, no, no, no. The name of the game for TEAMS is wins, but when determining the Cy Young Award winner the name of the game is how well that pitcher pitched during the year, not necessarily always how many times he won games he pitched in. How in the hell ERA does not impress Joe is beyond my understanding. It is not an infallible measurement but it at least gives a person an idea of how the pitcher pitched because it tells us how many earned runs he gave up per 9 innings. At least it shows some sort of measurement that is less dependent on the rest of the team than fucking wins are.

I still can’t believe these old-timers still think that wins are how you can determine if a pitcher is good or not. I am sure wins have to be a part of the equation, especially if you were comparing two pitchers on one team, but overall it is a useless individual statistic for comparing pitchers on different teams.

5. (Who he thought would be in the World Series for the National League)

I think the NL is going to be the more interesting of the playoffs, because all of the teams are so evenly matched.

Let’s just be honest people, we aren’t getting a straight answer out of Joe…I just wanted to get that out of the way early.

I actually felt the Cardinals were the best team three weeks ago, but by the end of the season, I wasn't sure. They do have Carpenter and Wainwright, who are probably the two most dominant pitchers this year.

These are the two most dominant pitchers this year? I hope he means in the National League, because otherwise this is a blatantly false statement. Then, in the next sentence:

Hamels and Lee at their best can matchup with anyone.

Joe says Wainwright and Carpenter were the two most dominant pitchers in baseball last year, then in the very next sentence he says that Hamels and Lee can match up with anyone if they are at their best. What if Carpenter and Wainwright are at their best? Can Hamels and Lee beat them then? Why does Joe even do these chats if he spends the entire time trying to get out of answering questions?

The Dodgers are probably the weakest as far as power and run scoring ability of the group. But in the playoffs, you usually don't score a lot of runs anyway.

Of course teams don’t score a lot of runs in the playoffs. Everyone knows this.

(Bengoodfella is waiting for some statistical proof of this provided by Joe…he dies waiting)

I think we'll have a great postseason this year. Remember, as I said before, any team that gets into the playoffs can win the world championship.

Remember, as I have said before, this is probably the dumbest statement in the history of statements because yes, literally, every team that is in the playoffs does have A CHANCE to win the World Series. This is a statement that tells us absolutely nothing and has absolutely no redeemable quality to ever include information. It’s like saying (uh-oh, here comes a BotB self-reference), “you heard me” at the end of a sentence. Yes, we heard you and it still means nothing to us.

From the October 20 chat.

This is a chat that Joe showed up 35 minutes late to. I think what prevents him from becoming one of the best analysts in baseball is his lack of consistency. There are really no great announcers nowadays because they aren’t consistent from week-to-week.

6. (Joe’s opening statements/ramblings)

It was great to see the game played properly in Anaheim after the cold weather in New York. The errors made because of the wet weather.

(Cueing sarcasm) Yes, because errors are not a proper part of the game of baseball normally. It’s why there isn’t even a category called “errors” in the box score I guess. You know because errors aren’t a part of proper baseball.

I am also pretty sure Aybar and Figgins didn’t drop a fly ball in Yankee Stadium because of the weather, Torii Hunter didn’t have a ball bounce over his glove because of the weather and Izturis didn’t throw the ball 5 feet to the left of second base because of the weather. Other than that, Joe was absolutely correct in making this statement.

Of course, the Phillies Dodgers game was fabulous as well.

Really Tim Gunn? That game was fabulous?

(Bengoodfella frantically hoping no one got that reference)

7. (Answering whether the Dodgers or the Angels can turn the series around)

I think the Angels have a better chance of turning things around than the Dodgers.

This statement makes no sense considering the Angels are playing the team with the best record in baseball which is the Yankees AND the Yankees have homefield advantage, while the Dodgers would have had been able to play Game 6 and Game 7 at home in Los Angeles against the Phillies.

Since we know what happened, hypothetically, here is a situation to help determine which team would be able to turn the series around as of when Joe had this chat:

Los Angeles Dodgers down 3-1, have to beat the Phillies in Philadelphia and then get two games at home to close out the series.

Los Angeles Angels down 3-1, have to beat the Yankees in Los Angeles and then have to play two games on the road in Yankee Stadium.

I vote the Dodgers had the better chance of coming back. Of course this is all hypothetical since neither team was able to come back.

8. (How the weather affected the playoffs)

It's the worst possible conditions for baseball. You do not get the players at their best.

I guess I am a little bit confused because other than some rain and a game cancelled due to snow, I don’t remember what horrible weather happened for these playoffs that made the conditions so much more horrible than normal. I don’t blame the errors that happened in the Angels-Yankees series on the bad weather. It’s not like these guys have never played in the rain or bad conditions before. They are professionals after all. I think it is just an easy excuse to say the weather caused these errors.

You can't exhibit your skills when you're cold and the conditions are bad. The only thing that could be done is start the season earlier.

The only thing that can be done is start the season earlier…………or they could wrap up the playoffs before November, not have as much rest between games so teams have to use a 4 man pitching staff, or just not worry too much about the weather and play baseball. Really, the weather hasn’t been all that bad for these playoffs and you can’t really control the weather, so rather than start the season in mid-March and make the season even longer, why not just cut some fat from the playoff schedule?

Isn’t it weird the baseball playoffs have been hit with bad weather lately and MLB has moved the playoffs back lately as well? Is this just a coincidence or not?

9. (Who he thinks will win between the Phillies and the Yankees)

Well, the Yankees would have the homefield advantage, which I think with two teams who are closely matched, that would give them an edge. That's why I think it's so stupid to have the homefield riding on the all-star game.

I can see why many people would think homefield advantage in the playoffs riding on the All-Star Game is a dumb idea. Again, I would support any other ideas people have that are fairer, but there hasn’t really been anything proposed that seems fairer than a competition between the best players of the half-year in the NL and AL. At the very least, it’s not an arbitrary way to decide which league gets homefield advantage and involves a baseball oriented way to help make the decision. Logically, the team with the best regular season record should get homefield advantage in the World Series, at least in my opinion.

It should be alternating like before. That was a fair way of doing it.

The only problem with alternating who gets homefield advantage in the World Series is that this is a completely arbitrary way of deciding this issue. It is a “fair” way because there is no competition involved with it, but I don’t like simply alternating homefield advantage because it is simply the luck of the draw whether a team gets homefield advantage or not. I would like to have homefield advantage in the World Series decided by some baseball competition of some type or a team’s record.

10. (If the Phillies should trade one of their good players to lower their payroll)

Well if they win another championship, I don't see why you would break them up.

As previously stated in the question, because of the increase in payroll that goes along with success.

If you have the winning combination there, you keep them together. I saw the team I was on, the Reds, we won two straight championships and if we had stayed together, we would have won three straight. If you take one player away, you disrupt it and then you don't know what you're going to get.

You mean kind of like how the Phillies won the World Series last year with Pat Burrell in left field and then they signed Raul Ibanez this offseason to play in left field and are back in the World Series? Wait, this actually proves what Joe just said as being wrong...

11. (If Joe Girardi deserves credit for A-Rod hitting well in the postseason)

I'm not in the lockerroom, so I can't answer that.

Which means Joe will immediately answer this question.

All I can say is that A-Rod is more relaxed. He just seems more focused. I do believe that a manager does deserve some of the credit for how some of his players perform.

So by not answering the question, Joe has now answered the question by saying Girardi is responsible for this change in some fashion. Has anyone else noticed that when Joe Morgan is asked a direct question, he rarely answers it, though he tries, but when Joe says he won’t answer a question, we actually get a real response? It’s like you have to ask Joe a question he doesn’t want to answer to get a real answer.

12. (Who has the advantage with the loss of the DH when playing in Philly)

Here’s the question: With the way both teams can mash, the DH will be in favor of the phillies no? They can reduce the weak link in their lineup with someone like stairs or francisco. Yanks will have to ditch someone like Matsui or swisher etc. in Philly. Seems to me like the SPs would be pretty close as well.

It will give them an opportunity to improve that lineup.

So Joe agrees with Roger from DC…

But the Yankees play with the DH. They're accustomed to doing that. It's more of an adjustment for the DH in Philadelphia.

This is actually exactly what Roger from DC was saying himself. Why did Joe put the “but” at the beginning of this sentence?

They are agreeing and Joe is talking like he disagrees with Roger, but why? Has Joe even read the question yet or is he just typing in hopes something he writes will be correct?

Whoever they have in the DH isn't used to doing that.

Which is exactly what Roger from DC was saying…yet Joe acted like he disagreed with Roger. Seriously, read the question before answering the question.

13. (Whether Mariano Rivera spit on the ball during a game last week)

No, I didn't notice that. Let's put it this way, the pitch he throws, spitting on it wouldn't help.

Actually Joe, throwing spitball/cutter would help Mariano Rivera. Pretty much any time a pitcher throws a spitball it helps the pitcher, which is exactly why pitchers do it even though it is cheating.

Mariano Rivera is the greatest postseason pitcher in baseball. He doesn't need any help. The hitters need help.

Ok, take it easy. No one is saying Mariano Rivera needs help getting batters out, the question was whether Joe saw Mariano Rivera spit near the ball and obviously Joe didn’t see this…and he also feels like spitballs don’t help a pitcher. Ask Gaylord Perry and pretty much every pitcher in the early days of baseball that question of whether spitballs can help a pitcher no matter what pitches throws and they would disagree with Joe’s assessment a spitball can’t help Rivera’s cutter.

14. (Whether Ryan Howard is the best hitter this postseason)

Not in the recent past,

Again, Joe doesn’t completely read/understand the question. It was asked about “this” postseason, so recent past doesn’t count.

unless you count A-Rod

You mean sort of like how Ryan Ludwick is the best hitter on the Cardinals team, if you don’t count Albert Pujols? Or how Dan Uggla is the best Marlin’s hitter if you don’t count Hanley Ramirez? Or how Cole Hamels is the Phillies best pitcher if you don’t count Cliff Lee?

Joe doesn’t look into actual facts behind this question (and why would he?), but there are statistics that can help us with this discussion on which player has been better in this postseason:

Ryan Howard: 15 at-bats, 6 walks, 4 strikeouts, 2 HR, 8 RBI, .333/.524/.933.

Alex Rodriguez: 21 at-bats, 8 walks, 3 strikeouts, 3 HR, 6 RBI, .429/.567/.952.

It seems to me like this question shouldn’t have even been asked because even with a larger sample size, which also means more chances for negative stats like strikeouts, A-Rod is barely out performing Ryan Howard this offseason. Though, it is really so close I would take either player on my team.

So basically Joe is right, A-Rod is the better hitter this postseason. This may be the only time Joe will be right about something.

I still think we have a lot of good baseball left before we get to the World Series. I think we'll have a good World Series, depending on the weather.

There were three games played after this chat. I guess that counts as “a lot.” I am tired of talking about the weather and how it will affect the World Series. Rain sucks, but these guys are professionals and should know how to play through it by now.

My World Series prediction: Yankees in 7 games. I think it is going to be a great World Series and even though I don’t trust AJ Burnett, I think the Yankees will take the series due to the fact I trust their bullpen a little bit more than I trust Philadelphia’s pen. I am just excited at the idea of Brad Lidge trying to hold a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the 9th in Yankee Stadium. I think that would be exciting to watch. Even though my favorite team is not in this series and I don’t like either team, I am very excited for this series because both teams have great #1 starters and deep lineups with power threats up and down the order.