Saturday, January 2, 2010

9 comments Mike Lupica Won't Give Up The Dream And Bert Blyleven Makes A Hall of Fame Case For Himself

A few months ago Jay Mariotti wrote that LeBron James had to go to the New York Knicks in free agency to enhance his legacy. I thought at the time, and still do, this is a ludicrous statement. LeBron James is going to have a great legacy no matter where he goes because he is a great basketball player. I think this was just a statement by a sportswriter who is among the many who think a player has to play in New York before he can reach his peak as an athlete. Today, Mike Lupica thinks the Knicks can start buying Number 6 "James jerseys" because LeBron is playing for the Knicks.

How he knows this for sure is beyond me, due to the fact LeBron really hasn't tipped his hand either way where he wants to play next year. How Mike Lupica can try to balance being a sportswriter while also trying to be a political writer at the same time, is pretty interesting. Regardless, Mike Lupica sounds pretty sure LeBron is playing for the Knicks though.

I choose to believe on this Christmas that LeBron James is going to be in New York, playing for the Knicks, next Christmas.
I choose to believe that Michael Jordan was suspended for 18 months by David Stern in 1994 after the murder of his father, there are many species of animals that have yet to be discovered which will shock and awe us, the entire purpose of politicians is to get re-elected constantly and they only help their constituents when both parties interests collide, and LeBron James is not necessarily playing for the Knicks next year. Simply because I believe these things doesn't make them true.

You can try to out-debate me on this, give me your own reasons why you think he will stay in Cleveland even though he's never going to win there.
"You can try to debate me as I throw out a random statement and portray it as fact even though it is not backed by any fact, but you won't win because I am making statements that are opinion and stating them as undeniable fact."

It is hard to out-debate someone who bases his entire argument on a future event that may or may not occur and treating it like fact. See what Mike Lupica is doing here? He is saying LeBron will never win an NBA Title in Cleveland, which may or may not be true, but for the sake of his argument it is true (and not an opinion) which makes any argument to the contrary wrong in his mind. If you assume LeBron James will never win an NBA Title in Cleveland, then sure, going to another team makes sense, but that's a big assumption to make.

Mike Lupica wants you to ignore the fact LeBron James has been to the NBA Finals once, the Conference Finals once, and the Conference Semi-Finals twice with the Cavs in the 6 full seasons he has played for them. The Knicks in that time have been to the playoffs once in that time span and got swept by the Nets. If you held a gun to my head, I would say the Cavs are currently, and have been for the past couple of years, closer to winning an NBA Title than the Knicks.

Or why you think he will go somewhere else looking for a championship.
Perhaps because there are at least 15 other NBA teams closer to an NBA Title than the Knicks currently are?

And not just because I want this to happen, the way everybody else around here does who loves basketball and remembers what the Knicks and pro basketball were still like at Madison Square Garden.
Actually Mike Lupica is pretty much basing his entire argument on why LeBron James should play for the Knicks on the fact he wants it to happen, so it should.

It's what we want next year: LeBron and some other big player from the Free Agent Class of the Summer of 2010.Oh, I get it! So not only will the Knicks lure LeBron James to their team next year despite the fact the team lacks discernible role players around him that would maximize his talent (I may make exceptions for David Lee and another player or two but that's it), but the Knicks will also lure another big name free agent who doesn't want to be the star of his team and doesn't mind taking second fiddle to LeBron James. How about Chris Bosh? How well would a team of Chris Bosh and LeBron James do in the Eastern Conference? It sounds great, but is this realistic?

The lights of New York are bright and the opportunties sound wonderful, but can we really see LeBron James and Chris Bosh thrive together in Mike D'Antoni's system?

A guy I know from sports, a mogul-type, one who knows the NBA and knows the business side of sports even better, was talking the other day about the possibility of LeBron coming to the Knicks. He is not a New Yorker, by the way, and is not a Knicks fan. He just thinks the whole thing makes sense, and not just for the Knicks and for the league.
Oh well, obviously if this unnamed anonymous sports-mogul-type guy thinks LeBron to New York makes sense then it is clearly going to happen that way. Since he's not a Knicks fan that means he can be completely neutral and still come up with an opinion that is going to be fact-based? I am sold!

Of course LeBron makes sense for the Knicks, he makes sense for every single team in the NBA. As for the league, I try not to buy the perception that LeBron James needs to play in New York and this will benefit the league more than if he continued to play in Cleveland. I realize New York is the mecca for many athletes, but will the league really benefit if LeBron James plays with the Knicks over the Cavaliers or another team? The Knicks are not a good team and I don't even see the draw for him. He would essentially be starting over like he did his rookie year in Cleveland, in a situation where the team needs to build around him, wouldn't he? Is that really what he wants, another team rebuilding around him? Wouldn't it be better if the team was already there and there were less pieces that had to be interlocked into a competitive franchise? How would LeBron going to a larger market team, away from a smaller market team, and to a large market team that is sort of rebuilding be good for the NBA?

The guy said: "And the reason they want it more than ever is because they know Tiger is going to continue to regress. That there's going to be a void to fill, even when he comes back and starts winning."
Tiger Woods never played in New York in any fashion and he is Nike's poster boy, why does LeBron have to play in New York to be Nike's poster boy and for them to build ad campaigns around him? It's not 1975, and news of LeBron exploits can quickly and easily be sent to the masses. He doesn't need to be based in New York as bad as "the guy" Mike Lupica spoke to seems to think he needs to be.

He went on to say that he has heard a theory floated that LeBron might even take a lot less money than he could get out of the Knicks - and a lot less than he could get out of the Cavaliers if he stayed in Cleveland - to ensure that the Knicks could sign another free agent, to be a real Scottie Pippen for him.

The guy said, "You think LeBron doesn't know how easy it would be for him to make up whatever he lost in salary in marketing? Come on. This is a smart kid."

Now THIS is a valid point from a marketing standpoint. It does force me to ask the question of why LeBron just doesn't take less money with pretty much any team in the NBA to get another player around him? If he took less money to stay with the Cavs, couldn't they theoretically put another good free agent around him? Hell, another team could easily do this as well. I want LeBron in New Jersey, what if they cleared enough space to get LeBron and Bosh. How would a starting lineup of Devin Harris, LeBron James, Yi Jainlain, Brook Lopez, and Chris Bosh look?

Yeah, the Nets suck, but the Knicks aren't exactly the pick of the litter either. My point is that if LeBron James wants to take less money to build a team around him and make up for it in marketing he could do this in other cities. Ask Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, Dominique Wilkins or any other player that didn't play in New York during his career and still had advertising campaigns built around them. If LeBron James wants ad campaigns, he will get them regardless of where he plays his NBA basketball. If marketing is the problem, can't Nike effectively market and sell him well in 50% of the markets in the NBA? I would think so.

If LeBron is worried about situations where he can market himself the best, he is going to find out really quickly life sucks on a shitty team.

Then he pointed out that LeBron wouldn't just be breathing life back into the Garden, and back into pro basketball in New York. He would also come to town showing that he was willing to take a bit of a haircut on the money because that's how badly he wants to win.Again, he can do this in Cleveland as well where he has grown up and they worship his every move. Plus, whether they did it well or not, the Cavs have been committed to trying to put a team around James.

LeBron James isn't going to win a championship in Cleveland. I believe he is with the wrong general manager and playing for the wrong coach.
Here goes this fact/opinion of Lupica's that he bases his conclusion of this article upon. Maybe LeBron won't win a championship in Cleveland, but who is to say he will do it in New York with the Knicks? He has come pretty close in Cleveland a couple of times so it's not like he is a bad bet to succeed there if re-signs with them.

We thought he was getting close to a title when he made the Finals for the first time, against the Spurs. Only now he starts to move away from one.Quick reality check...Michael Jordan entered the league in 1984, he didn't win his first NBA Title until 1991. So there is still time for LeBron James especially since he entered the NBA about two years young than Michael Jordan was when he entered the NBA.

Here is what LeBron's teams have done since the NBA Finals against the Spurs and I will let you decide if he is "moving away from one:"

2008: Lost Conference Semi-Final in 7 games to eventual NBA Champion Boston Celtics.

2009: Lost Conference Final in 6 games to Orlando Magic.

So, since LeBron made the NBA Finals two seasons ago his team took a step back the next season because the Celtics got much stronger and then his team took a STEP UP and got to the Conference Finals last year. So I personally wouldn't say he is moving away from an NBA Title.

But lately the Knicks have become a team their best and most diehard fans want to watch.
False. I watched the Knicks play on Christmas Day against the Heat and I almost weeped because what I saw was taking place on Jesus' birthday. It wasn't a very good game to watch. It didn't get me all warm and fuzzy about the Knicks' future.

Or there is David Lee, who plays like a champion every night, no matter what the score. If there is a way to keep Lee.
So Mike Lupica wants to keep David Lee and sign two big name free agents including LeBron James? How much of a discount does he expect LeBron to take? Are they going to have a full roster of 12 players? I know the Knicks are going to have salary cap room, but enough to sign Lee and 2 other expensive free agents?

There is Wilson Chandler.

Well, that is 2 good players on the Knicks roster. That would make 3 total good players on the Knicks roster for next season (I am including Danilo Gallinari in this count).

LeBron is smart, which means he understands that as big as he has gotten, and as fast as he has gotten there, the only way he becomes as big as he wants to be is by winning it all.
And the New York Knicks, a team that would be semi-rebuilding on the fly even with James on the roster, are the answer to where James should go to win an NBA Title? If LeBron James really wanted to win an NBA Title maybe he should go to San Antonio, Utah, or Chicago. Those teams would instantly become NBA Title contenders when he joined the team (not that the Spurs aren't now, but I am just thinking of the Spurs with Parker, Jefferson, James, and Duncan would be a better team, which is an easy assumption to make). If he is taking a discount to go to a team so he can be a big marketing star and winning an NBA Title and the key to being a big marketing star is to win an NBA Title or two, couldn't these teams also be answers for LeBron James?

Kobe has won four times now and has now taken dead aim at Michael's six titles. He is as much a star as he has ever been, rehabbed his image more than you thought he could, by winning. Tiger didn't become as big as he was by being some kind of immortal as a husband and father, that was just a corporate hustle and a lie.
Really, what sports column is complete nowadays without at least one Tiger Woods dig? Just as Kobe rehabbed his image, Tiger is going to be able to do so as well. I just thought I would throw that in there.

He did it by winning, by eventually being seen as more of a winner than anybody we have right now,
Again, I ask, "and the Knicks are the place to become a winner?"

So let LeBron come to New York and the Garden and try to win here. I am going to believe this will happen until he signs with somebody else.
Don't stop believin' Mike Lupica. It very well may happen, but LeBron hasn't given an indication one way or another. If LeBron does sign with the Knicks it will not be due completely to the fact he thinks he can win an NBA Title with the Knicks, it will be about marketing. If LeBron is looking to win an NBA Title for the upcoming season he will go to another team. If I were a New York Knicks fan I wouldn't put my Number 6 "James" jersey order in quite yet.

-Bert Blyleven has been mocked by me on several occasions on this blog.

Bert's least greatest hits.

I make fun of Bert for being self centered and eventually turning every topic he writes about at NBC Sports into a dedication to what he did as a baseball player and how guys "in the old days" had it harder. So if there was a ex-baseball player who would write a column advocating himself for the Hall of Fame, it would be Bert.

So, he decided to do it. As slightly bizarre and self serving as I find it to write an entire column about how you personally should be in the Hall of Fame...Bert is right. He should be in the Hall of Fame.

Joe Posnanski advocated his candidacy the best (he does a lot of other baseball-related things "best.")

It hasn’t been easy going through this process every year. I’ve been frustrated at times, and I’ve been angry. But that doesn’t get you anywhere. After awhile you just learn to accept it.

At least Bert will always have a little gas to tide him over in his anger and sadness.

This is not to rag on the writers in any way, shape or form. Over the years some players have come out and said the writers shouldn’t have a Hall of Fame vote because most of them have never played the game on such a high level.

This is the old "you have never played the game so you wouldn't understand" argument levied against bloggers, as well as writers from time-to-time. It's retarded. The issue isn't writers knowing how to play baseball at a high level, but writers knowing how to evaluate players who played baseball at a high level and how not to screw up a Hall of Fame vote. Just like some analysts say football players when they get a touchdown should, "act like they've been there before," some sportswriters when voting for the Hall of Fame should "act like they know why the hell they are advocating certain players" and vote intelligently.

This is the way it has been throughout history so I’m not against it.

This was the same reasoning used by many to advocate keeping slaves in the United States during the 1800's and to refuse a woman's right to vote during the early 1900's. This is easily the worst reasoning ever used in the history of mankind for doing something. I digress...

When talk of my Hall of Fame candidacy comes up, usually people like to point at my career win total of 287 as a reason I shouldn’t be elected to Cooperstown.

Damn you Bert Blyleven for not getting those 13 extra wins! How dare you play in the American League and not get the opportunity to bat and drive in enough runs while you are pitching to win you 13 extra games? What were you thinking?

But in my opinion, wins are one of the hardest things to come by, and a pitcher can only do so much to control whether he wins a game. You can control your walks, you can control your strikeouts and your innings pitched. You can control whether you go nine innings by the way you approach a game. But one thing you often can’t control is wins and losses.

Other than a minor nitpick that a pitcher can't really control innings pitched completely (since the manager of a team has say in this and can pull you even if you are pitching well), I couldn't have said this better. Wins are a component of a team game and to use them as a basis for an individual statistic in regard to the Hall of Fame is just dumb. Wins can be used to compare players along with other statistics, but to base any argument between pitchers on wins is a faulty argument in my mind.

If you allow one run, but your team doesn’t score any runs, then you can’t earn the win. If your bullpen gives up a lead after you leave the game, then you can’t earn a win. Wins are a product of your team as a whole, and while the starting pitcher plays a significant role in who wins the game, he is not the only factor. The starter can only control so much.

Someone needs to email this passage to Joe Morgan when he says, "If a pitcher loses 1-0, that means that pitcher didn't pitch as well as the winning pitcher did." He just ignores the entire team aspect of a win in baseball.

Case in point: I lost 99 quality starts (at least six innings pitched while allowing no more than three runs) in my career, more than all but four pitchers since 1954. And I had 79 other quality starts in which I had no-decisions. That’s 178 quality starts in which I did not earn a win, yet people knock me for coming up 13 wins shy of 300.

Ok, let's just say Bert won 1/5 of these games (in an alternate world) that he lost because he played for a better team that scored enough runs to get him the win (This is just a simple way to show something, I don't know if 1/5 would be how many more games he would have won if played for another team). Bert Blyleven would have won 323 games and surely would have been in the Hall of Fame by now. I hope this shows how retarded wins are to base Hall of Fame voting upon in a situation like Blyleven's. You would be basing an individual award partly on a statistic greatly affected by the quality of the team the individual played on.

There are other negatives I often hear about my career: That I only played in two All-Star Games, and I only won 20 games once. But there are flaws in these arguments as well.

The fact All-Star Games are popularity contests and it is inherently ignorant to base Hall of Fame candidacy on a popularity contest? We have already discussed the win issue.

The year I won 20 games (1973), I made 40 starts and threw 25 complete games and a league-best nine shutouts. But I was barely above .500 at 20-17 despite having a 2.52 ERA. The next season, I was 17-17 despite throwing 19 complete games, three shutouts and compiling a 2.66 ERA. In 1985 I had a 3.16 ERA and led the AL in starts (37), complete games (24), shutouts (5) and innings (293 2/3). But despite all of this, I finished 17-16 on the season.

Bert threw 25 COMPLETE GAMES AND ALMOST HALF OF HIS WINS WERE SHUTOUTS, yet he went 20-17 on the year. How the hell is this his fault? If anyone doubts that wins are a little overrated, just read over these statistics and ask yourself what he could have done to win more games...outside of playing for a better hitting team.

3,701 strikeouts, fifth all time:

4,970 innings pitched, 14th all time:

250 career losses, 10th all time:

430 home runs allowed, 8th all time:

242 complete games, 91st all time:

60 shutouts, 9th all time:

These numbers show what I think is the biggest reason Blyleven hasn't made the Hall of Fame yet. He isn't strong in some statistics that traditionally have been seen as bad for a pitcher without 300 wins to not be strong in. Specifically...he has a lot of losses, gave up a lot of home runs and pitched for a long time. Therefore is seen by some as a good pitcher who never excelled because he only won 37 more games than he lost and he gave up a ton of home runs. If he had won 300 games, no one would care how many losses he had or home runs he gave up because he hit that magical marker, but in reality he didn't hit 300 wins. I guess some see him as an "accumulator" of statistics rather than one of the best pitchers in the history of MLB.

I would like to think now that baseball has been a little more enlightened by the statistical revolution and we can accept that wins and losses aren't always a pitcher's fault, many people could see more clearly that Blyleven was a great pitcher and won't hold the home runs he gave up and the amount of games he won against him.

Of my 60 shutouts, 15 came by a score of 1-0, the toughest, most pressure-packed situation in which to operate. By comparison, Steve Carlton won 12 shutouts by a 1-0 score, Jim Palmer won 9, and Phil Niekro 6. Of the recent greats, Randy Johnson tossed four, while Clemens and Martinez each have thrown three 1-0 shutouts.

This is fairly impressive.

All I ask is that the voters do their homework.

It's pathetic he actually has to ask the Hall of Fame voters to do this.

Don’t look just at my wins and losses, but look at all of my numbers. Look at innings and strikeouts. Look at walks and WHIP. Look at shutouts and complete games. See where I stack up against pitchers from my era, especially those already in Cooperstown.

I would really hope the voters would look at these statistics and comparisons no matter what. If the voters don't, they should have their right to vote taken away. That's my opinion.

Who knows, maybe 13 will be a lucky number for me.

Though I do mock his writing from time-to-time, Bert Blyleven should be in the Hall of Fame. There is very little doubt in my mind.


Dylan Murphy said...

I say this admitting first and foremost that I am knicks fan. I cannot say like Mike Lupica that LeBron is coming. But while you say that Cleveland is closer to a title, I would disagree. Each year they have added another part to their team, Mo Williams and Shaq being the most recent. But this has proven to not be enough. At least with the Knicks it's a guarantee that they are always willing to do what it takes to win. Cleveland keeps adding mediocre pieces. I think they've shown that they aren't willing to do what it takes. Mark Cuban went all out on kid (and failed), the lakers got Pau Gasol (and succeeded). These teams do what it takes. So will the Knicks. So it seems likely to me that he will leave, since Cleveland has not put in enough effort. While he may not go to the Knicks, I do not think he will stay.

Bengoodfella said...

I can get your take on this. I don't think LeBron is going to New York personally, but I have been wrong before. I think the Cavs are fairly close to a title, at least compared to the Knicks. Again, I have been wrong before. The Cavs do keep adding the pieces but Shaq never tries hard in the regular season and I think this may be a case where he will try to turn it up some (how much he can turn it up, I don't know).

I think the Cavs have tried to do what it takes without upsetting the team too much. I would agree they are trying to add average or mediocre pieces rather than step up and get the players required to possibly get them over the top. I think the Cavs are trying but still driving the car with the parking brake on, while the the Knicks and other teams will try to get a great player. The problem is with the Knicks history will they fall under the Kidd portion or the Gasol portion? Either way, I think LeBron stays, I am guessing at being 60% sure of this. If he does go, other than New York I have no idea where he will go.

I don't think the Knicks can sign LeBron, Free Agent X and David Lee this off season...unless one of them takes a discount.

KentAllard said...

Mike Lupica is a complete dick, who makes up his mind about something, then invents reasons why he's right. He writes crummy novels, too. I would also point out he is an alum of Boston College, but that would be a low blow, so I won't do it.

Bengoodfella said...

I love the Boston College hate. I don't hate them, but I never knew until I read Bill Simmons' columns and read what people write about the school that not a lot of people like the school.

KentAllard said...

Wait until they've been in the ACC a few more years, you'll learn to hate them.

The latest hilarity from them is their blogosphere melt down over the Brian Kelly hire. An article stated something along the lines of "For an Irish Catholic kid from Boson, Notre Dame is his dream job." This has caused incontinent indignation, as they feel they have been insulted, and point out when someone thinks of a Catholic school, Boston College is the first one that comes to mind.

Bengoodfella said...

First place I think of when I hear "Irish Catholic" is Notre Dame. I am not a huge BC fan but I don't hate yet. I will keep in my mind I need to dislike them though.

Martin said...

Because when I think Irish Catholicism, I think of Boston College Cathedral in no. Our Lady of Boston College? No?

Seriously, I found out Boston College was a Catholic school by reading a Tom Clancy novel talking about how the early FBI was all these BC and Holy Cross grads. And this being Catholic and going to parochial school for 12 years.

Bengoodfella said...

It's weird because my fiance has a bizarre dislike for BC as well. She's Catholic and her parents are big Notre Dame fans. I don't think her dad likes BC either. There was a couple players for BC she couldn't even stand to look at. Very weird, all these Catholics with their BC hatred.

I didn't know there was a Catholic rivalry between ND-BC.

KentAllard said...

It's not just we papists who hate them, they were probably the most despised school in the Big East. One reason probably being their well-deserved reputation for being cheap shot artists. A few years back, there was an article where someone crunched the data and found the highest rate of serious injuries occurred when playing either BC or BYU. Ironically, both church-affiliated schools.

In the interest of full disclosure, I taught at BC for a year, and had a very positive experience.