Saturday, July 31, 2010

13 comments Bill Simmons Goes Old School and Whines About the Red Sox

You may not believe this but I was actually thinking Thursday that I may lay off Bill Simmons for a while. I haven't really covered his work that much of late. Even when I have covered his work, it hasn't been with the same ferocity I usually cover a column of his, and I have actually agreed with him many times in his latest articles. I was mowing my lawn on Thursday thinking I should probably just read his stuff and let me see if I start to enjoy him again.

(Yes, I think about Bill Simmons while mowing the grass. It went from "thinking about the Roy Oswalt trade," to "thinking about how the Braves are screwed because they love team chemistry more than talent," to "thinking how Mike Lupica wrote an article completely counting out the Red Sox in the AL East," and finally ended with "I have enjoyed Bill Simmons' articles lately.")

that changed Friday though. I have enjoyed Bill Simmons columns, I enjoyed his book and I really thought he was getting on a hot streak. He's interesting because the NBA is his thing, while I don't know if the NFL and MLB is quite the sport he knows best. Basically, I think he would be better to stick to what he does best, because I like that better. Today's column where he feels essentially breaks down the Red Sox season and then gets WAY off topick isn't a good column for him in 2010.

I came to check the comments on my post on Thursday and saw commenter Rich had posted something how bad Bill's column was and I got emails about the columns as well. That's how I know it was a bad article, when I get multiple heads-up I should read it. I did read it and it was a circa-2002 column. It was Bill complaining about the Red Sox. In 2002 I would have loved and enjoyed this column. Unfortunately you can't go home again and it is 2010. The Red Sox have won two World Series and just any complaining about them is not understandable because the Red Sox aren't the team that is cursed anymore, but a team with a large payroll that has become a sort of mini-Yankees in nearly every sense of the term.

Basically, the Red Sox and Bill Simmons have hit the big time now. Any complaining about the Red Sox comes off as whining by a person and fan base that has become somewhat spoiled over the last 6 years. As a fan of a team that hasn't made the playoffs since 2005 and is currently choking away the NL East, I can't handle whining from Bill about his Red Sox. They've had success recently, but don't be spoiled by it and assume the Red Sox have a right to make the playoffs. I don't think the average Red Sox thinks this, but Bill can't handle the Red Sox being in third place in the AL East. Welcome to the world of having an above-average team, join the rest of us at the bar for a beer.

On Tuesday night in Anaheim, with a teetering Red Sox season threatening to crumble, J.D. Drew saved Boston fans from another episode of "Papelbon, P.U." by walloping a timely double.

Papelbon is not pitching up to his current standard, but he certainly isn't a terrible closer at all. This is what I mean by saying that Bill has become spoiled. The players on his team can't just be great players, they have to be elite players. This is what chasing the Yankees over the past 100 years and getting a taste of victory has done to Bill. It is like he is just now bitterly learning the Papelbon is not Mariano Rivera, while the rest of the free world already knew this.

Two runs scored, Boston's eighth-inning lead expanded to three and when the TV crew cut to the obligatory shot of Drew pumping his fist at second base ...

Oh, wait ...

I forgot. J.D. Drew never does things like that.

Because he doesn't fist pump, this automatically means J.D. Drew isn't a good player. Only good players on good teams play with passion.

If NESN launched a game show called "Guess What J.D. Just Did?" in which contestants guessed based off his expressions -- did Drew just hit a game-saving double, take a called third strike, hit into a double play, win the lottery or find out he was going to jail? -- nobody would ever win.

If NESN launched a game show like that, let's not forget no one would watch it. I've said it before, but events in this world never occur until Bill Simmons has experienced them. Once he has experienced an event he will write about it as of no other person has ever witnessed what he just witnessed. If Bill got sent to the moon, he would come back and tell us all there is no gravity and the view is spectacular, like he we didn't already know this.

What I am saying is that Cardinals, Dodgers, and Braves fans already seen the lack of any type of emotion on J.D. Drew's face. So both the Red Sox and Bill Simmons should have been aware of the fact J.D. Drew considers baseball to be work and not fun at all. I blame Scott Boras.

Really, he's the perfect player for the post-2007 Red Sox regime: someone who plays hard, looks good statistically, does everything either "pretty well" or better and leaves you cold.

J.D. Drew was on the 2007 World Series champion Red Sox team. It is weird how the post-2007 J.D. Drew is different from the 2007 J.D. Drew. I am sure it has nothing to do with the fact success makes nearly everything bearable. When the Red Sox aren't winning, all of a sudden it is because J.D. Drew isn't passionate enough.

Quite simply, he's a boring player on a boring team during a fairly boring season. It's the first Red Sox team without a truly compelling player since 1993 -- when we went 80-82 -- and even then, we had a young Mo Vaughn

It is a boring team that has six All-Stars on the roster and one of the most worthy All-Stars, Kevin Youklis left off the All-Star roster. Apparently the fans and players found the team so boring they deserved to make the All-Star team.

Notice how it isn't Bill Simmons fault he doesn't have interest in this Red Sox team, it is because there is just a roster full of boring players, that's all. It's the fault of the players they are so boring that Bill isn't being a rabid fan this year and has nothing to do with the fact the team isn't successful. If this boring player trend continues, Bill may have to become a baseball widow until the Red Sox start winning the AL East again.

I wish I had a public forum to annoy my readers with my whining about how my favorite baseball team doesn't win their division every year. Wait, I do have one, and I don't do that. (Of course I am aware Bill Simmons has a much, much, much, much, much larger forum than I do and I think that only makes it worse)

Really, you have to go back to 1981 (pre-Wade Boggs, post-Fred Lynn, post-Carlton Fisk) for a Red Sox team with less pizzazz than the 2010 crew.

Bill Simmons isn't a fair-weather fan at all. He just doesn't write about the Red Sox much because they aren't an exciting team. Teams that aren't exciting can't win games in his mind. Bill's seeming has nothing to do with the Red Sox not winning games, but because they lack pizzazz.

On Wednesday, both Boston papers carried front-page stories about Sports Business Journal's report that NESN's Red Sox ratings had plummeted 36 percent. (The Boston Globe also reported that WEEI's ratings were down 16.5 percent, and that male listeners between the ages of 25 and 54 had dwindled by 28 percent.)

Honestly, if I was a Red Sox fan I would be happy about these numbers. Get rid of these fucking fake-ass Red Sox bandwagon fans that think the "B" on the Boston cap looks good in public and let the real fans enjoy the team. Of course NESN and WEEI hate this decrease in interest, but as a fan of sports I always like it when ratings plummet sometimes and I think it is because bandwagon fans have quit paying attention. It still sucks to lose any fans, but those are the kind of fans you care to lose.

If Bill is trying to show how boring the Red Sox are, it is failing for me. What he is showing me is how the Red Sox were the popular team to cheer for because they were successful and now they aren't as successful (but are 58-44, which is a good record and I consider that successful), the fans who like to cheer for successful teams aren't paying as much attention.

"I don't think there's any one reason," Dad said. "Don't do the thing where you write a column and try to figure it out. There's no one thing to figure out. This is too complicated."

How about the Red Sox have had injuries and aren't playing baseball as well as other teams in their division? Is that just too damn easy of an answer and won't allow for a 5,000 word rambling column that makes the issue much more complex than it actually is? I don't get why anytime one of Bill's teams fails the reasoning has to be so complex. Maybe they just aren't very good or had bad breaks. There always has to be a list, convoluted reason, or excuse for why one of Bill's teams fails. This list, convoluted reason or excuse always turns into a theory that Bill has and that theory always turn into a mailbag question he is asked by a SimmonsClone.

But Dad, that's what I do! I love figuring things out that can't be fully figured out!

When commenter Rich referred me to this column, he said this in the comments:

Yes, Bill just said that even though things can't be fully figured out, he can figure them out... like the patterns in football bets, or who how the best basketball players of all time stack up.

This goes for me too. I know Bill is saying this tongue-in-cheek and he knows he can't figure out what is wrong with the Red Sox, but why does he have to go through this whole exercise. It feels tedious and pointless to do this as your weekly column for ESPN.


I would actually put injuries higher than this. Of course injuries are no excuse and that is why you have backups, but I think injuries have played a big part in the Red Sox struggles this year, so I thought Bill would use this as a larger excuse.

Although maybe they were always injured, and Ellsbury's side certainly thinks so, which is why he read a statement accusing Boston's medical staff of misdiagnosing the fractures, and as that was happening, his teammates were subtly maligning him for not coming to games. And by the way, when this soap opera becomes the most compelling storyline of the season, you know the season sucked.

So the 2009 season sucked for the Yankees because A-Rod was found to use steroids? So every season with Manny Ramirez sucked for the Red Sox because the human soap opera was on the team? Let's change sports quickly. The Vikings 2009 year sucked because the return of Favre was the most compelling storyline?

I don't think this is true at all that if a soap opera becomes the most compelling storyline (which is purely a relative term) then the season sucked. The season sucked because the Red Sox aren't in first place. That's the bottom line.

Dustin Pedroia was hitting the ball so well in mid-June -- 60 plate appearances; 26 hits; 7 walks; a 5-for-5, 3-homer game in Colorado -- that Yankees friends were sending me taunting e-mails with "PEDroia" in the subject heading. Naturally, he fouled a ball off his foot in San Francisco, breaking it. This season sucks. I keep telling you.


(I skipped the fake Boston accent because I suck at writing it)

Victor Martinez finally caught fire in June (.954 OPS) ... and naturally, he broke his thumb.

If only Jason Varitek still played for the Red Sox...wait, nevermind, he does and he is actually playing pretty well for his age. He is hitting .263/.324/.547 for the year. Of course Bill needs to complain about the Red Sox bad luck, so I will let him.

We signed Cameron for his defense, which would have been fine if he wasn't 37 and moving like me after I sit on the sofa for too long and can't get loose. Like all Sox fans, I watched Cameron play outfield in April thinking, "Wait a second, I thought this guy was supposed to be good?" and feeling like I'd been duped.

I am all about defense, but I can't believe the Red Sox and (more importantly) the Mariners strategy of not worrying about offense and focusing on "great" defensive players didn't work. I thought for sure the Mariners would be in great shape with no great hitters (outside of Ichiro) in the lineup this year.

(Note: This one hurts because every baseball fan instinct I had told me this past winter, "We should sign Johnny Damon. I don't care if he's an oil spill in the outfield. He'll hit, he'll get on base, he'll give us 650 ABs and he knows how to handle Boston."

It isn't shocking that Bill Simmons thought the Red Sox should have signed Johnny Damon and he tells us this AFTER Mike Cameron struggles and Johnny Damon has a good year. It's interesting how Bill doesn't share this information with us before the season.

I'm all for loyalty and continuity, and we all appreciate how Josh Beckett came through in Game 5 in Cleveland three years ago -- saving the 2007 title by himself, and really, I don't know how many starters from the past decade would have come through that night -- but giving him a $68 million extension as he was getting shelled in April was just plain strange. Did he sign the contract, then go on the disabled list for 10 weeks? Of course he did.


Through Wednesday's games, Darnell McDonald and Bill Hall had a combined 422 at-bats for Boston. Throw in Daniel Nava (91), Eric Patterson (50) and Cash (47), and we're over 600. Add Jeremy Hermida (155 ABs, .617 OPS), poor Mike Lowell (80 ABs, .658 OPS) and Brown/Molina/Reilly, and that's 850 at-bats that should have happened for bottom feeders like the Royals, Pirates, Astros, Orioles or Diamondbacks, not a big-market team with $150 million to spend every season.

So basically Bill is saying the Red Sox are too good to have crappy players on their team. He would rather they act like the large market team they are and just outspend everyone else. I don't know if 2001 Bill Simmons would appreciate this comment that 2010 Simmons just made. He would find it very Yankees-esque.

Team Theo's lack of urgency as the injuries mounted was appalling -- on July 3, after the Pedroia/Martinez double whammy, we were still a half-game behind New York and 1½ games ahead of Tampa -- as was this past winter's much-ballyhooed commitment to defense that ignored Cameron's advanced age and the seemingly crucial fact that Martinez couldn't throw out Aretha Franklin at this point.

I have already complained that Bill is using his weekly ESPN column as a way to vent about how angry he is the Red Sox don't win the World Series every year, but there are a bunch of teams that have needs and haven't addressed them. The Braves have needed an outfielder (and possibly now a second baseman) since early May, the Yankees need another starting pitcher, the Mets need another starting pitcher and possibly a second baseman, and the list could on. It's not like Theo Epstein is a terrible GM for not plugging every little hole on the Red Sox roster immediately.

The bigger issue: For all their bluster about building a monster farm system, the Red Sox aren't exactly teeming with can't-miss prospects.

It isn't exactly easy to build a great farm system when you are picking in the upper 20's every single year. Building a farm system is one part luck and another part great scouting. Bill knows this, I know he does, but I don't know why he ignores it.

But take it from a guy in an obsessive, ultradorky AL-only keeper league with a 25-pick minor league draft and a full farm system:

Bill believe he is an expert on AL farm systems because he is in an AL-only keeper fantasy league. That's all I have to say about that.

(Note: ESPN's Keith Law had Boston ranked as his No. 2 farm system in February. When I e-mailed him for a July update, he wrote back that many of its top guys were underperforming and added, "They're not No. 2 anymore. Definitely still top-10." I'm not pumping my fist.)

What a self-important jerk. What's wrong with a top-1o farm system? At some point, Bill has gotten the incorrect perception that the Red Sox are important and above all the other teams in MLB. It's not true. The Red Sox don't have the best team, the best farm system, and the best GM. They don't have the history of the Yankees, though Bill probably likes to pretend they do, and they have won 2 World Championships over the last 91 years, which makes them not one of the most decorated teams in MLB. I have nothing against the Red Sox, but this isn't the fall of the Roman Empire. This is a good season by the Red Sox while two other teams in their division are having better years.

Every person wants his team to be the best, but Bill seems to believe the Red Sox have a right to be the best and for some reason he expects the best. Above-average is no longer good for him for some reason. Who gives a shit about prospect rankings anyway? Where was Brennan Boesch ranked before this year in the Tigers farm system by Baseball America? 25th.

you can't expect a nine-figure baseball team to capture the daily imagination of a big market without a player who passes the Remote Control Test (when you don't flip channels because you know Player X is coming up) or the We Can't Go Get Food Yet Test (when you don't make a food/drink run at a game because Player X is coming up) or even the Every Five Nights, I Know What I'm Doing Test (when you have a transcendent pitcher who keeps you in front of the television every five days).

If there was a God who cared about humanity, Bill Simmons would quit holding teams to bizarre standards that he himself sets for that team to "capture the daily imagination" of a market. In the beginning, he made up a few theories and it was all fun and games. Now every fucking, single idea has a theory behind it with some rule that has to be explained so we all know what the hell he is talking about. I guess you never have to think of a real reason why something happens if you can just make up reasons as you go.

I really, really like Lester, my favorite current player (and someone quietly enjoying a monster season) mainly for everything he's been through.

Lester has been so quietly good this year he made the All-Star team. This team is for players quietly having a good year like Roy Halladay, Miguel Cabrera, and Albert Pujols.

It's been the elephant in the room for three years. Do I care as much as I did? I think about this question constantly. The short answer? No. It can't mean as much. It will never mean as much. Before 2004, rooting for the Red Sox wasn't about just sports. It was about mortality.

When he says it is about mortality, he means that I want to kill myself because I spend the first decade of my life hearing about how cursed the Red Sox were and will probably spend the rest of my hearing about how awesome it was for the Red Sox to win the World Series when they broke the fake curse. It was a good story, but I am done with it.

Cubs fans know what I mean. So do Vikings fans, Indians fans, Maple Leafs fans ... only the true sufferers know.

Shut the hell up about the true sufferers. It's pathetic and feeble. Red Sox fans aren't sufferers anymore no matter how much they want to be. I am sure Bill is thinking up some curse right now to associate with the Red Sox so they can get sympathy in the future.

Too many people cared too much.

Or not enough as the television and radio ratings for 2010 show.

When things finally turned in 2004, and then again in 2007, deep down, we all knew it would never be quite the same. Are you the same after losing your virginity? What about after having a kid? Winning the World Series was a life experience just like those. So no ... rooting for this franchise would never be quite the same.

See Bill KNEW the television and radio ratings would take a dive. He KNEW that he wouldn't like the team as much. Bill knows everything. So it is not his fault nor the fault of anyone affiliated with the Red Sox they don't care as much, it is just their 2004 championship was so much greater than any other championship in the history of sports, everything including the second coming of Christ pales in comparison.

The bandwagoners who showed up post-2004 (the Pink Hat Brigade), coupled with the owners shrewdly turning Fenway (and the blocks surrounding it) into a cash cow on par with Facebook and the Kardashian family, coupled with the experience of attending home games (not the same) ... yup, it's made it a little less fun for die-hards.

I do feel sympathy for Red Sox fans on this issue. I attended a Braves-Red Sox game last year and I had plenty of people around me (8-10) who were Braves AND Red Sox fans. Go screw yourself if you do that.

Look, I don't want to be Grumpy Old Man. I really don't. But I probably attended 100 Fenway games just from 1998 to 2002; the level of baseball sophistication in the stands was unparalleled. We worked with Pedro like Frick and Frack.

It is common knowledge the Red Sox have the most knowledgeable fans in the history of baseball. The team with the least loud fans? The Braves. I think some of them believe they are going to a museum or a movie where they can't make too much noise. Going to a game depresses me.

Anyway, bandwagon fans ebb and flow as TV viewers depending on entertainment value, and this season hasn't been so entertaining. There's some of your 36 percent.

That is THE 36%...or at least 30% of it. It goes for every team, but when the Red Sox "fans" jump off the bandwagon, we all tend to notice more...probably because I point it out.

For the past week, every media outlet has tried to talk us into A-Rod's 600th homer -- as if the moment means something, because, after all, just six other people have done it!

I wish Bill wouldn't be such a wimp and say exactly what he means. It is not like ESPN will fire him or could hurt him in any way. He is at the point where he can make good money without ESPN. He just needs to say that ESPN is who has rammed this coverage down our throat. They show every A-Rod at-bat and they interrupt coverage of other games to show A-Rod hitting. It is not every media outlet, but ESPN mostly who does this.

I don't care as much about the championships teams during this hideous era -- everyone had cheaters, and everyone was playing by the same (lack of) rules -- but it gets dicey once we're putting careers in perspective. Whether it's the legends we almost definitely know (Clemens, Bonds, Sosa, McGwire, A-Rod, Manny, etc.),

the guys we suspect but don't know for sure (Gagne, Gonzo, Ortiz, Belle and Piazza, to name five)

I thought we knew about Gagne, Belle and Ortiz. Didn't they all either test positive at some point or were in the Mitchell Report? I thought so, though I am losing track at this point.

So really, my single favorite thing about being a baseball fan other than watching games -- comparing new guys to old guys -- was brutally murdered.

Also -- and this is important -- I'd rather have the title regardless of how we won it, so say whatever you want. I don't care. Remember, Sox fans were "drug addict ready to turn tricks for crack"-level desperate at the time. And if you can find me a team from 1995 to 2008 that didn't have some chemical help, I'll give you a trillion dollars.

I like how Bill Simmons goes on and on about how steroids have ruined the game of baseball for him, but he is perfectly fine with the Red Sox winning a title with players who tested positive for PEDs. So basically, in some ways he is perfectly fine with his single favorite thing being ruined because of PEDs because his team really needed to win. This is also known as the same justification PED users had for using the drugs they used.

"But the team needed to win and I needed to feed my family. Everyone else was doing it, so why shouldn't I?"

So Bill Simmons hates the Steroid Era and loves it all the same. Go figure.

The hangover of steroids in baseball has nothing to do with the Red Sox not having a good year this year. I would think a baseball-wide problem like the hangover of steroids would affect each team and not just the Red Sox. I guess I would think wrong.


MLB's defenders will point to attendance numbers (dropped in 2008, held tight in 2009 and 2010), its history (by far the most significant of the four major sports), its World Series ratings (still better than the NBA Finals) and a new generation of younger-than-25 stars (Strasburg, Heyward, Price, Longoria, Posey, Santana, etc.) who rank among baseball's biggest talent boons ever.

Sure, there may be no statistical evidence provided here that baseball is declining in popularity, but Bill Simmons isn't as interested in baseball as he used to be and his opinion represents the opinion of the entire world. Just ask him, he will tell you. Since his interest in baseball is declining so is everyone else's.

The attendance numbers didn't keep plummeting only because of discount deals and cheaper tickets. Shouldn't baseball worry that the onslaught of new ballparks (20 since the Skydome in 1989) caused an ongoing attendance bump that's soon coming to an end? The honeymoon "we have a new park!" stage eventually wore off in Baltimore, Cleveland, Toronto and Houston. Who's next? When the dust settles, attendance will hinge on the same thing it always did: winning.

Bill's evidence of baseball declining in popularity is based on his opinion that the new ball parks are what is currently keeping attendance high. It is always interesting when a writer uses his own opinion as proof for a hypothesis he is trying to prove. Bill's first item of proof that baseball is declining in popularity, which leads to the Red Sox having a bad year (see how many degrees of separation we are getting from Bill's original point of this article?) is based on him speculating what will happen in the future.

Especially in the 65-Inch HD Plasma/DirecTV Package/"Screw It, I'd Rather Just Stay Home and Flick Channels" Era ... which will become THE long-term problem if they don't solve the time issue (more on this in a second.) And what happens if the big-market/small-market chasm keeps growing?

We don't know what will happen and that's my exact point as to why this isn't a compelling piece of evidence that baseball is declining in popularity and this is why the Red Sox are having a bad year.

There isn't a single baseball star who could have gotten a 4 rating for switching teams, much less a 9 rating like LeBron did. Right now, Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez are the only mainstream famous baseball players. That's the list.

I disagree. I think Albert Pujols is mainstream, Stephen Strasburg is getting there quickly, Tim Lincecum will be there before too long, Jason Heyward may be more hype than player right now (there is A LOT of hype around him), and Joe Mauer would cause quite a fury if he switched teams.

Just look at what happened to poor A-Rod in New York -- within eight years, they drummed out every interesting quality he had. It's like listening to a robot.
I am just happy to be a Yankee. I just want to win. Please recharge my battery; I am running low.

This is crap. Alex Rodriguez has always been mostly a boring person and a boring interview. I would love to hear Bill's opinion on what interesting qualities he had that were drummed out of him.

Actually, my criticism here doesn't even matter...what does how A-Rod speaks have to do with the Red Sox having a bad year?

And a better example for my young son. But still, how can you stand out in 2010's Look At Me Society when you're competing with stuff like "Do you realize the Bengals have two wide receivers with their own VH1 reality shows?" and "Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade are now shopping their documentary about the 2010 free-agency period?" It's the Look At Me/Instant Gratification/Twitter/Snooki/Lady Gaga generation ... and poor baseball fits in about as well as Bud Selig at a Drake concert.


We're feeling the effects of two solid decades of World Series games ending well after the bedtime of any prospective young fan. And don't kids have dozens more choices in 2010 than they did in 1975?

One of those choices is to watch every single MLB game available on satellite. I think we are getting a bit off point here. So the 2010 Red Sox had a bad year because kids have better options to watch on television in the year 2010 than they did in 2008 and 2009? We all know that only kids watch baseball too. I am sure no adults over the age of 18 years old watch any baseball games.

I like how this article has gone from describing what is wrong with the Boston Red Sox to the answer being that Major League Baseball is in decline. This is because there is no way the Red Sox could have a bad year (58-44 is not a bad record) without there being a huge problem with baseball in general. If baseball were healthy, then so would the Red Sox be healthy.


I'm not going to argue the time of games in baseball are not very long and there is a lot of dead time. It is mostly due to the specialization of bullpens and umpires allowing pitchers and catchers long amounts of time to pitch or get in the batter's box. I thought this was pretty well known.

55% of the Red Sox problems this year is due to baseball games being too long? Am I supposed to believe 36% of the people who watch the Red Sox games have quit watching because the games are (I'm guessing) 10 minutes longer at the most this year? Don't the Red Sox and Yankees always draw great ratings? Aren't those generally the longest games that could ever be played. A three-game series takes 5 days to complete. Those games take forever and there is still interest from fans.

I just don't know if fan interest is really declining because of the length of games. Maybe fewer people get interested in baseball because the games take longer, but I don't know if someone who watches and enjoys baseball would quit watching because the games got 10 minutes longer. I also don't know if this is 55% of the reason for dwindling fan interest in the Red Sox.

By the way, have you ever looked around during a baseball game these days? It's 35,000 people texting or writing/reading e-mails while they wait for something to happen. BlackBerrys and cell phones were either the best or the worst thing that ever happened to baseball. I can't decide. When an incoming text is more exciting than a baseball at-bat, something has gone horribly wrong.

I won't deny baseball games are too long, but that is just the nature of the game. Those people are still at the game aren't they? So there is still some interest on the part of those texting or calling others while at a baseball game.

I went back and examined the times of games of my most memorable Red Sox seasons (1975, 1978, 1986, 1999, 2004, 2007) along with 2002 (when we first worried that games were becoming too slow) and 2010 (through 101 games). Check this out; it's incredible.

By "incredible" Bill means not really that shocking for anyone who has followed baseball over the last couple of decades. Again, is this really affecting fan interest in the Red Sox. Bill is yet again trying to use the Red Sox "bad" season in regard to fan interest and say it is a baseball wide problem with fan interest. I don't know if it is true.

Then after throwing out the length of games for the 1999 season Bill throws out this gem:

(Note: Not much different than 1986; 102 games ended in three hours or less. By the way, it's flawed to say these numbers reflect baseball as a whole. The DH slows things down in the American League, you might have more hitters who milk pitch counts in a specific year and some pitchers work faster or slower than others. The slowest Red Sox pitcher ever was Jeff Gray. He made Jonathan Papelbon look like a quicker draw than Rick Pitino. If you had an entire bullpen of Papelbons and Grays, that's skewing your number obviously.)

So that whole part Bill wrote about previously in regard to baseball as a whole having a problem with people who don't want to spend three hours watching a game doesn't apply to the National Leaguen at all? It stands to reason if the Red Sox are being affected 55% by the length of games then other teams would be affected by this as well. Wouldn't it? It is not like Papelbon pitches 8 innings every game or anything. I find it hard to believe the length of games is affecting this specific Red Sox team and fan interest in the team by 55% and no other team has this same problem. Are Yankees fans not affected by the longer games?

Joe Posnanski does a better job of covering this issue than I do and he comes to the conclusion it isn't the length of the game, but the pace of the game. What's the difference and how does that difference impact the fan? I don't know exactly, but I don't believe fan interest would dive so much because of the pace of a game.

According to Posnanski's post, the teams that played the fastest in the American League last year were Chicago, Seattle, Texas, and Oakland. It stands to reason if fan interest in the Red Sox dives by 30-something percent and the major reason is the pace of the game that fan interest would increase in the previous four teams. I am going on a limb and say that is not true at all. I don't know if these teams have seen increased interest from fans. Bill is on to something with the time of games, but I don't think it decreases fan interest in the Red Sox.

2007 Red Sox

2 or less -- 0

2:01-2:30 -- 11

2:31-3:00 -- 48

3:01-4:00 -- 97 (5 extra)

More than 4 -- 6 (2 extra)

(Note: Uh-oh. One-hundred three of 162 games dragging past three hours??? Call it the Tipping Point ... as in, "I'm tipping over because I just fell asleep." I blame the recent frenzy of milking pitch counts, the constant preening between pitches and more frequent pitching changes. Yes, I look forward to those arguments being struck down by an angry blogger within the next 48 hours.)

Yeah, I'm not angry, but I do like how Bill looks down a bit on the very thing (blogging and giving his opinion) that got him where he is today.

2010 Red Sox (101 games)

2 or less -- 0

2:01-2:30 -- 1

2:31-3:00 -- 41

3:01-4:00 -- 53 (7 extra)

More than 4 -- 6 (4 extra)

(Shaking my head.)

What a nightmare. I'm the same guy who once created the 150-Minute Rule for all movies, sporting events, concerts, even sex -- if you edge past 150 minutes for anything, you better have a really good reason. The 2010 Boston Red Sox have played one game in four months that ended in less than 150 minutes.

Here's the problem with Bill's argument. There isn't a difference really in 2007 and 2010 in regard to game length for the Red Sox. The Red Sox are on pace to have more games that last more than four hours in 2010 compared to 2007, but they are also on pace to have more games that last between the time of 2:30 - 3:00 hours and fewer games that last 3:00 - 4:00 hours in 2010 than they had in 2007. So really if you look at the numbers, it appears Red Sox games may be shorter in 2010 than 2007, which doesn't explain why Bill seems to be so determined to prove the longer games are the problem with the 2010 team.

And no, it's not just them: Fifty-eight percent of 2010 Yankees games have extended past three hours.

This part of the column is a rambling mess. So why aren't Yankees game broadcasts suffering such a downward trend in viewership? If this problem affects the Red Sox why doesn't it affect the Yankees? Why is Bill trying to take one "bad" Red Sox season and try to turn the reason for it into a baseball-wide problem? I can't figure out why the Red Sox are a boring team because the games MAY be longer than last year...though this point is completely arguable.

1. We need to dump the DH. Like, right now. It's stupid, anyway.

I don't like the DH personally, but I am still very confused because I thought this column was about the Red Sox having a bad year. Seriously, this part feels like a complete mess to me. So Red Sox dwindling fan interest is because of the presence of the DH? The same DH the Red Sox played with for the previous 36 seasons? Bill is trying to pretend the dwindling fan interest isn't because the Red Sox aren't in first place and the bandwagon fans have jumped off. I bet that is the core of the problem and I don't find that to be a problem. The Red Sox were a fad for some people and they can stop watching Red Sox games for all I would care.

2. We're only a few other tweaks away from getting these games to a manageable time. What about giving managers six timeouts during a game in which they can cross the baseline, and that's it? What about a 15-second pitch-clock? What about giving hitters three seconds to leave the batter's box, or it's another strike? (Unless you've tipped a ball off your foot, caught something in your eye or desperately need to adjust your boys.) What about two minutes between half-innings for commercials, then the next hitter has to be standing in the batter's box at 2:01?

These suggestions don't bother me at all. this really 55% of the reason for dwindling fan interest in the Red Sox?

The most damning fact about these interminably long games? They pushed some die-hard fans toward English Premier League and World Cup games mainly because we knew those games would end in less than two hours. (Yes, you're reading one of them.)

I wish Bill would be more honest. It is not the league of the games that causes him to not have as much interest in baseball. It's that he can't talk about the Red Sox being cursed anymore and they aren't currently leading or close to leading the AL East. It's ok to admit that. He dumped the Bruins and made an excuse for that. He always has a reason for his own personal dwindling interest and it never is, "they aren't winning and I don't want to watch them lose."

The big question? Will Bud Selig do something about it?

Bill then questions some of the things Bud Selig has done, which are valid criticisms of Selig. Yet again, it is always the owner's fault, the GM's fault, or the commissioner's fault Bill doesn't have as much interest in his Boston-area sports teams. These faults just happen to coincide with times when the Boston-area sports teams aren't winning. It is not a coincidence. I am not calling him a fair-weather fan, but calling him a fan who can't admit his interest wanes when his team isn't winning.

Team Selig has done a terrific job of keeping fans coming to ballparks. Now it should start worrying about keeping them awake.

This is the closing sentence to a column that is about why the 2010 Boston Red Sox team isn't as exciting as previous Red Sox teams. It's not the Red Sox or the Boston fans fault, but baseball's fault. It's the typical attitude that if there is something is wrong with the Red Sox, then this problem has to be league-wide, when this may not be true. Regardless of this, Bill's reasoning for dwindling fan interest isn't due to the length of games. I just can't believe 30-something percent of people have quit watching Red Sox games because (or 55% because) they feel a little bit longer. If the Red Sox were in first place of the AL East and the games were still "long," would fewer viewers still turn in to Red Sox games. I actually think so.

If Bill was going to write a column about the problems with the Red Sox, the problems in my mind start and end with the players and the injuries the Red Sox have had. Of course admitting this would also admit Red Sox fans are like other fans and don't like following teams that don't seem to meet expectations. There's a name for people like that and every team has them.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

15 comments Don Banks Makes A Power Poll Based on Each Team's Record Last Year

It is Fantasy Football time again. If anyone is interested in me starting up a BotB fantasy football league again, just tell me in the comments or email me and I will set it up if we have enough interest. I would like to do one this year because Fantasy Football is my favorite sport. So anyone who wants to play, just tell me and I will set the league up. I currently have interest from one person.

Donnie (Brasco) Banks has released his first NFL power poll of the year. I am sure one person rejoiced about this. Unfortunately, his power poll looks a lot like it was made based on how each NFL team did last year. He doesn't project the team's records for this year at all. I find this disappointing and a little bit lazy to be honest. To give him credit, he does list why he ranks each team the way he does, but I don't know if his power poll rankings are realistic. It's like he didn't want to project how good each team would be this year so he just stuck with the status quo from last year.

Before I get to that article, I want to talk about the most important topic in the history of this blog. I am shocked to hear that Terrence Cody is not in shape. Who would have thought a guy who couldn't stay in shape in college when he wasn't getting paid (as far as we know), can't stay in shape in the NFL either? I don't know what the conditioning test for a defensive tackle requires, but I have a feeling it isn't the most strenuous set of exercises required for a human being to perform. So in conclusion, Cody has just re-affirmed exactly why he was taken in the second round and taken off many team's draft boards. This is the end of the shocking news. A fat guy who has never been able to stay in shape, isn't able to stay in shape.

Okay, back to the Don Banks power poll for the day. It took possibly 2 minutes for him to get this power poll together.

When you do your first set of NFL power rankings as training camps open, the tendency is to make it an exercise in looking backward, at the season that wrapped up almost six months ago. After all, what else do we have to judge by other than the most recent games and results?

The tendency is to base power rankings on how the teams finished last year, so that is exactly what Don Banks did here.

But of course that's all wrong.

Yet he did it anyway.

Of course, he is a Starwood Preferred member so he can do whatever the hell he wants.

At this time of year we should be looking forward, and trying to figure out where the NFL landscape has changed without any games -- other than the hiring, firing and personnel acquisition kind -- having been played.

We should be looking forward, but who cares about that? Let's just list the teams in the first power poll of the year based on how they did last year. Otherwise there is a lot of work involved. Doing a lot of work is a risk Banks doesn't want to take right now.

So here's an early attempt to divine the relative strengths and weaknesses of teams as they report to camp,

The strengths? Same as last year.

The weaknesses? Same as last year.

and keep in mind these aren't predictions of what will be in 2010 as much as they're a snapshot of where I perceive teams are right now in late July.

It appears that Don Banks perceives these teams are all in the same place right now as they were last year. Actually, Banks is correct (in theory) that the power poll he got together is how the NFL teams should be ranked because no games have been played, but he did say he was looking to project how some teams would do this year, so he failed miserably in my mind. Besides, no one wants to read a power poll that just has the rankings of how strong the teams were at the end of last year.

Even knowing these aren't predictions for the upcoming year, why put together a power poll that basically says, "nothing has happened that would change the order from the end of last year?" I know these aren't predictions, but there haven't been games played yet this year and this is how strong Don Banks sees these NFL this power poll is a different form of predicting what will happen this year.

As always, your results may vary.

Or not vary if the results are based on the 2009 NFL results like this power poll seems to be. Here are the records of the teams Don Banks listed from #1-#32. You will find the better teams of 2009 are near the top, while the worst teams from 2009 are near the bottom.

There is nothing wrong with doing a power poll this way, but the NFL is pretty unpredictable and teams often switch places in the standings from year-to-year, so I feel like Don Banks should have moved some teams around due to this. So knowing NFL teams often aren't consistent (in regard to record) from year-to-year this isn't a very well thought-out power poll. He may not be predicting, but he also isn't saying a whole lot has changed since last year.

The record of the teams and their ranking in his power poll:

1. 9-7 (The Jets, who were in the AFC Championship game last year)
2. 13-3
3. 9-7
4. 14-2
5. 11-5
6. 13-3
7. 12-4
8. 11-5
9. 9-7
10. 10-6
11. 11-5
12. 8-8
13. 10-6
14. 9-7
15. 8-8
16. 10-6
17. 7-9
18. 9-7
19. 8-8
20. 8-8
21. 8-8
22. 4-12
23. 7-9
24. 5-11
25. 5-11
26. 7-9
27. 2-14
28. 3-13
29. 4-12
30. 5-11
31. 6-10
32. 1-15

Sorry for that wall of numbers, but I wanted everyone to see how much like a copy of last year this power poll seemed to be. The Jets are a 9-7 team at #1, but they are also a team that made the AFC Championship last year and are a sexy pick for this year as well.

Here are my problems with this power poll:

1. There isn't a team with a losing record last year among his top 16 teams. So he is essentially saying no teams with a losing record last year will appears to be able to make the playoffs this year. That doesn't seem likely.

2. Number 22 through 32 are all teams with losing records last year. When does the NFL have teams with such consistent good/bad records from year-to-year? Rarely ever. The NFL is known for it's parity and how each year teams can be very good or very bad. Either Don Banks was lazy or he is going to look like a genius. You can guess which one I think.

3. Of the ten teams from spots #1-10, nine of them made the playoffs last year. History is not on Don Banks side for this to repeat.

4. The lowest Banks has a playoff team from last year is #16. That team is the Bengals. Otherwise, the other two playoff teams are #11 and #13. So basically Don Banks has 10 of the 12 playoff teams making the playoffs again. Again, I know these aren't predictions, but with no games having been played this poll is as good as a prediction at this point.

So either the NFL is pretty much going to repeat itself from last year and Don Banks seems to think the best and worst teams in the NFL are going to be the best and worst this year...or this power poll is going to look way off by December.

I'm not asking Don Banks to try and shake things up intentionally, but history doesn't bode well for a power poll that essentially has the best and worst teams in the NFL repeat this pattern again the next year. I'm not saying the power poll is wrong, because I can't predict the future, but I am saying Don Banks perhaps should have done some more research into what each team did positively and negatively in the offseason and not rely on what teams did last year so much.

-Don Banks' good friend, co-worker, and future Fight Club member, Peter King has his Tuesday mailbag out and he has some advice for Terrell Owens.

In case you were wondering, the advice for Owens from Peter isn't "and you're still an asshole."

Usually I'd say in the case of the Bengals chasing a player with serious baggage, that it's owner Mike Brown forcing a guy into Marvin Lewis' locker room, causing Lewis to roll his eyes and say, "How exactly am I supposed to handle all these divas?''

I have found lately many writers are starting to use the trend of writing things like, "normally I wouldn't do or believe Situation X, but in this case I do." Joe Morgan did it the other day when talking about criticizing Joe Torre. It is as if because Peter King doesn't believe this is a case where Mike Brown is forcing a player on Marvin Lewis, when he usually believes it to be so, this gives his thoughts on the motivation for signing Owens more credibility. It's like using your own opinion to establish credibility for a statement.

But the Bengals' pursuit of Terrell Owens, from all indications, is a Carson Palmer production. Palmer, who slumped badly at the end of last season, wants weapons.

So it is Carson Palmer who is forcing a guy into Marvin Lewis' locker room, causing Lewis to roll his eyes and say, "How exactly am I supposed to handle all these divas?"

Well, that is completely different then. As long as it is not the owner doing the forcing of Owens on Marvin Lewis and a player who is doing this, I am sure this makes all the difference in the world.

Peter posted his advice on Tuesday morning and on Tuesday evening the Bengals signed Owens, so it looks like Owens didn't care for Peter's advice too much. Now the Bengals have a commitment to running the ball with Cedric Benson and three wide receivers in Bryant, Owens, and Johnson that all want the ball. Did I forget to mention they drafted Jordan Shipley also? Adding Owens is supposed to make the Bengals one of the top offenses in the NFL. It's not 2004, so I will wait and see if that happens or not. They have a better passing game now, but that's a lot of guys who aren't elite receivers to keep happy.

Now, part of the issue is the continuing question about Bryant's health. Last year, he struggled with a knee injury all season, even after having what was thought to be minor surgery. The knee was still bothering him at a June minicamp, when he couldn't practice in every session. The coaches won't know exactly what they have in Bryant until they get on the practice field Thursday at the start of training camp in Georgetown, Ky.

I can give the Bengals coaches a hint about what they have in Antonio Bryant. They have a guy who has a ton of talent, doesn't always perform well and wants a new contract. He could be a #1 receiver assuming you could count on him in any way...which the Bengals really can't. He may have 1,200 yards this season or he may play five games of the upcoming season due to injuries or suspension. So signing Owens may have been a good thing if Bryant is injured or it may be a terrible thing if Bryant is healthy because he will want 5 catches per game just like Johnson and T.O. want.

in Cincinnati, playoff consistency is an oxymoron -- and he doesn't want to be sitting there in October thinking, I can't count on Bryant, and I can't trust which way Gresham and Shipley are going at nut-cutting time.

Maybe the reason there aren't a lot of players who want to play for the Bengals is because they have nut-cutting time. I'm just going on a limb here, but "nut-cutting time" doesn't sound like something I would care to be a part of. It sounds like the opposite of fun.

With Cincinnati being a predominant running team, and investing the pick and money in the most athletic tight end in the draft this year, it's entirely possible the leading wide receiver on the team could catch 70 balls -- with the others below 50. I don't care how peaceful Owens is now. If he's catching two or three balls a week, he's not going to be happy.

I know why a team signs Terrell Owens...he produces fairly well still. But WHY would a team sign Terrell Owens? Specifically the Bengals. Is Chad Johnson not a handful enough for them to handle? I know they needed to get better offensively, but was there no other way to do this than sign T.O.? If Antonio Bryant or T.O. are at all demanding the football like Chad Johnson wants the football, it may be hard to keep everyone happy...especially when Cedric Benson wants his carries, Gresham will undoubtedly get some passes thrown his way and this doesn't include Jerome Simpson, Andre Caldwell, and Jordan Shipley, all who have been drafted in the last three years. Have the Bengals given up on Caldwell and Simpson? What about Shipley? He is a perfect slot receiver. Is this going to be a red-shirt year for him?

The Bengals have improved their offense, but only for one year, and I am not sure by how much.

But if I'm Owens, I'm thinking I've got two pretty interesting options: Take the Bengals' offer (it's got to be somewhere in the $2-million-a-year range, with incentives) and be content with a third-receiver role that could morph into something better

I don't think Owens could ever play the third receiver on an NFL team. Well, maybe he could do it for one year, but then at the end of the year he would call Carson Palmer a homosexual and make fun of the entire city of Cincinnati on his VH1 reality television show. It would be better to sign him to a one-year deal for this reason.

or wait until another team doesn't like what it sees in its receivers in camp or gets an injury at the position sometime in August. Unless the Bengals' offer is going to disappear, I think he'd be smart to wait.

This is great advice, but the Bengals offer could disappear. If training camp starts and Jordan Shipley shows he can handle being the 3rd receiver, Gresham shows the potential he has, and Bryant isn't terribly injured then there will be no place for Owens. T.O. knew this could happen and went ahead and signed with the Bengals.

Even if a team has a receiver get injured in camp, there is no guarantee this team would sign Owens. I don't know how desperate a team with no prior interest in Owens would have to be to show interest, but if an NFL team doesn't want Owens on their team after knowing he had 55 catches for 829 yards last year, I am not sure how much an injury to a receiver could change that. It would have to be an injury to an important receiver. I could be wrong, but it seems like many teams just don't have interest in signing a 2nd/3rd receiver who wants $2 million per year plus incentives and brings along some media baggage...other than the Bengals of course.

Before I get to my e-mail, I want to make one correction on Monday's column. I wrote that Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees are all entering the final year of their contracts. Brady and Manning are, but Brees has two years to go. My mistake.

Blame it on the Starwood Preferred member asshole. He's a real piece of shit and had Peter all distracted-like with anger yesterday while recalling the epic battle of words they engaged in.

"Do you see a number of similarities between the Packers handing the reins to Aaron Rodgers and the Eagles doing the same to Kevin Kolb, feeling that the time is right for a title within a few years?''
-- Mark G., Folsom, Pa.

Except for the fact Donovan McNabb didn't retire/unretire, he didn't refuse to be traded and acted like a complete professional as he was essentially replaced by Kolb these two situations are exactly alike. Also, McNabb didn't attempt to force the Eagles to trade him to a certain team of his choosing, so there is that difference in the Favre-Green Bay quarterback situation also.

PK: But there's one difference: The Packers would have let Favre return for the 2008 season had he chosen in March to say he'd play rather than retire.

Like I just said, the only big difference is that Donovan McNabb didn't try to exert complete control over the team's direction at the quarterback position and force the Eagles to cater to whatever whim he felt on that certain day.

By the time he was certain he wanted to play, it was early July 2008, and the Packers, who'd already promised the job to Rodgers, felt they'd had enough of Favre's waffling and wouldn't reverse course.

Was Favre ever certain he wanted to play at any point in the summer of 2008? I am still not sure if Favre is certain he wants play in the summer of 2010. I don't believe Brett Favre is ever certain he wants to play. I think usually the NFL season is about to begin and Favre sees he will be back in the spotlight and figures he may as well play one more year. It is two years later after the Packers-Rodgers-retirement/unretirement situation and Favre is STILL not sure if he wants play football again. He'll be glad to tell a reporter that too, if you want to send one down to Mississippi and interview him about this issue.

"I'm a little surprised about your response to Dez Bryant. Attitude is one thing when you are talking about attitude against opposing players, but against your own team? For Bryant to take the stance that he is more important than the team is alarming, to say the least. Bryant should be willing to do whatever it takes to win. And part of that is forsaking individual pride for the team. It's the whole purpose of rookie hazing -- to bring them in as part of the team, to build trust and friendship. He's already put a wedge between himself and the team. And no matter how good he is, if he isn't part of the team, they can't use him.''
-- David, Arvada, Colo.

I was a little surprised Peter sided with Bryant as well. I thought Bryant would get a solid 50 word chiding from Peter...but I thought wrong.

PK: But I think you're overstating the story a bit. Bryant never said or implied that he "is more important than the team;'' he said he wasn't going along with the tradition of rookies carrying the vets' pads.

There isn't any overstating the story (okay, maybe a bit, but anything involving the Cowboys is overstated). Inherent in Bryant refusing to carry the pads is him forsaking the rookie hazing for individual pride. That's the problem with this gesture by Bryant, it isn't just a stupid tradition of carrying pads, it is Bryant saying, "other rookies may do this, but I am not any other rookie. I don't subscribe to rookie traditions and don't care to take part in these traditions just to be a part of the team."

The actual act of not carrying the pads is not the problem, it is what not carrying the pads seems to indicate about Bryant. It indicates he may not be willing to do everything he is told. Yes, it sounds stupid to jump to this conclusion, but it isn't a far leap. The player-player relationship is supposed to be a fraternity in the NFL, much more so than the coach-player relationship. Players understand what each other are going through as an NFL player, so if Bryant is willing to separate himself out from his peers like this, is he willing to do so when Wade Phillips asks him to do something?

It is a stupid tradition, but it is also a stupid tradition that builds support among teammates. What is Dez Bryant going to think in 2013 when a highly drafted Cowboys rookie refuses to carry Bryant's pads off the field? Will he understand or expect the rookie to do it? I think he would expect the rookie to do it and not refuse to do so because at that point Bryant will understand the reasoning behind the hazing.

And the point about Bryant not being able to be part of the team if he doesn't go along with this -- I just don't buy it. There will be some vets who hate him, and he could make it easier on himself by carrying the pads. But this story is a tempest in a teapot. It will pass.

This will pass. Simply because this will pass doesn't mean there isn't something in here about Dez Bryant we can't learn.

And when Bryant makes plays to help the Cowboys win -- and I think he will, early in the season -- no one's going to care much about this.

This is a stupid point. Anytime there is success on a team little things like this are forgotten. Success helps to make everything better, but even with success happening for the Cowboys, things that happen on the Cowboys team tends to get magnified a bit. The Cowboys and Terrell Owens were successful together and that didn't prevent problems from occurring did it?

Not that Bryant will turn into a huge distraction, but this is such a small thing Bryant had to do. I don't understand why he just didn't carry the pads.

"I enjoyed your reaction to Mr. Starwood Preferred, but I'd like to know what your wife thought about it since she presumably was standing right there.''
-- Jeffrey, Peoria, Ill.

PK: She thought that should have been the end of the story. But then I had to open my big mouth and make the situation an incendiary one. I understand her point, and we're both hardcore pacifists. Having said that, I felt I had to take a stand (as corny as it sounds, for all the people in line with us) and I don't regret it, because the guy had it coming.

Having said that? Here's one of my favorite "Curb Your Enthusiasm" scenes about that phrase.

"I don't understand how you can completely dismiss teams from being able to compete. I am a Bucs fan and I find it absolutely ridiculous to dismiss them or any other team already. When the Falcons drafted Matt Ryan, everyone was saying the Falcons may win 3-4 games and then they went to the playoffs so anything can happen. Now let me clarify: I don't think that the Bucs will be undefeated or anything crazy like that, but to dismiss a team that you barely cover or mention at all is dumb. Thank you for listening to the ravings of a Bucs fan tired of his team getting no national love or exposure.''
--Travis, Miami

I guess Travis missed the part where Peter King was going down to the Bucs training camp...for a half day. Peter is spending a full day at every other camp, but he is only giving the Bucs a half day. I am sure that would have angered Travis as well if he had caught that in Peter's MMQB for this week.

PK: Duly noted. We'll see.

Why even publish this question if you are going to give a four word answer that tells us nothing?

How do my questions to Peter not get published? I am always on my best behavior in the wording of the question and have great in-depth questions for him.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

8 comments Let's Piss Off Some Women

I am ultra-busy today and don't have time for a full post, but I wanted to let everyone know Gregg Easterbrook has a column up about how much he hates Title IX and how he wants it to be repealed by Congress. The reason he says this is because a court ruled that cheerleading is not a sport so the school in question can't get rid of their volleyball program to pick up competitive cheerleading.

For me, there are two questions in here. Should Title IX be repealed and is cheerleading a sport?

As far as whether Title IX should be repealed, I think it should be. I know the reasoning behind Title IX being put into law by Congress, but I don't see the point of it anymore. I know some people compare Title IX to affirmative action for women in college athletics and it shouldn't be repealed because colleges will step all over women's sports if it is repealed. Sure, that could happen, but it also may not happen.

Women's sports are different in 2010 than they were in 1972. Women's sports are more popular and are seen as less of a diversion and more of an actual sport (which they are) by the mainstream sports-loving public. At this point, Title IX has become a law that doesn't just inhibit men's sports, but inhibits schools from taking their sports programs exactly where they want them to go...which also includes women's sports.

My college, Appalachian State University, was going to go Division-I in football while I was going there for undergrad. They ended up not doing it because it would lose them money (which happens to all football programs) and because to go Division-I they would have to add women's sports which they weren't able to afford to do at the time. There were certain women's sports they wanted to add, but they couldn't add all that were required to meet the Title IX requirements. I'm just eyeballing the reasons behind this decision, but part of the decision to not go Division-I was based on Title IX and how what started as a great law that provided equality in sports has turned into a law that causes more headaches than help to women athletes.

In the case Gregg is speaking about here, a women's volleyball team couldn't be disbanded to include a competitive cheerleading team that would have made the school more money. This wasn't a move designed to push a men's sport through, but a move that would have just gotten a different population of girls into the school and into a different sport. It's stupid and it is time to repeal or severely amend Title IX because it is a well-meaning law that is causing more headaches than help to women and men athletes alike.

It is 2010. Schools aren't going to stop offering women's athletics because it no longer is in their best interest to not include women in athletics. Women's athletics are more popular and the only schools that limit the amount of women's sports teams they have will also be limiting the type of student they care to attract.

Now, as far as competitive cheerleading being a sport. I think it is. A sport is defined as,

"Physical activity that is governed by a set of rules or customs and often engaged in competitively."

I am pretty sure that covers what competitive cheerleading does. I am not going to argue with emotions about how hard the girls work or that they get injured and that makes it a sport. Competitive cheerleading is a sport because it takes athletic ability and there are a set of rules a competition set up to gauge winners and losers.

If you disagree with me, that doesn't mean you are closed-minded, and I don't care for nor have I ever seen a competitive cheerleading competition in person. Gymnastics is considered a sport and what I have seen of competitive cheerleading it doesn't look like they are too far off what gymnastics does. Cheerleading is a strenuous activity that requires preparation and athleticism. You have to be in shape to be a cheerleader.

From the perception of cheerleading, I can see how someone wouldn't think it was a sport, but the reality is that competitive cheerleaders do some really athletic stuff out there. There are competitions and there are winners and losers. It may not sound like a sport, but I think it is.

What does everyone else think about Title IX or cheerleading in general? Am I just misunderstanding Title IX or giving it a bad rap. How stupid am I for thinking cheerleading is a sport.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

11 comments Joe Morgan Has Very Little Respect For Catchers

When we caught up with Joe Morgan last week he wasn't too terribly offensive, though he still refused to give straight answers to the questions posed. This week Joe is offensive to everyone with baseball knowledge and he doesn't give a straight answer to many questions asked of him. Joe also mentioned last week that he was "fellow broadcasters" with announcing legend Bob Sheppard, which is pretty egotistical for him to throw his name in there with a man who was a PA announcer for so long and is such a legend in Yankee history, but I guess that is just Joe Morgan being Joe Morgan.

This week Joe surveys the trade market and tells us all why catcher is such an easy position to play. Joe feels this statement is true for every catcher except for Johnny Bench, who was also responsible for running the concession stands and helping out with the groundskeeping on the field. These days there aren't very many catchers that can manage people who hand out peanuts and catch a 95 mile per hour fastball, but that was just how good players were back in Joe's day. Catchers in today's game can't even come close to duplicating these great feats.

JM: Congrats to Chris Capuano for getting a win after persevering for a few years trying to get back to star status. Let's get started.

No Buzzmaster needed this week. Joe is all jacked up on Mountain Dew and ready to avoid answering some questions.

I have two problems with this statement:

1. Capuano was never a star in any fashion so he wasn't coming back to anything resembling star status.

2. Capuano is now 1-1 on the year with a 3.38 ERA and 1.438 WHIP in 10 games. He is not a star. Apparently in Joe Morgan's world one win in the majors qualifies as a player being a "star." Except when he is talking about Dallas Braden of course...

Ben (New York, NY)

Hi Joe! Armando Galarraga was sent to the minors not long after his "perfect" game and Dallas Braden has not won a game since his. Do you think throwing such great games can hurt a pitcher because he becomes over confident in his stuff?

JM: I don't think that's the case here. It helps his confidence, but I don't think a pitcher becomes overconfident like that. Dallas Braden was not a winning pitcher before he pitched a perfect game,

Dallas Braden was 8-9 last year in 22 starts with a 3.89 ERA and 113 ERA+.

He is 4-7 this year in 16 starts with a 3.74 ERA and a 111 ERA+. The A's have scored a total of 11 runs in his 7 losses this year, which comes to a grand total of 1.57 runs in these losses. Not a lot of pitchers would have a winning record with that type of run support.

Galarraga was sent to the minors so he could continue to start during the All-Star break and work on a couple of things.

Galarraga was sent to the minors, where he currently still is, during the All-Star Break so he could work on some things like, "how to be the fifth best starting pitcher on the Tigers team."

(As commenter Chad pointed out, Galarraga only got sent down because the Tigers didn't need him as the 5th starter for a while and his start against the Twins was skipped because they have a LH-heavy lineup. So Galarraga doesn't stink, but I still think he needs to work on being a better pitcher to keep that 5th starter spot in the future.)

Baseball has a way of evening things out ... you have a lot of success early, and maybe later on some ground balls find some holes that they didn't find previously. I don't think overconfidence will be a problem going forward.

Who the hell said there was a problem with overconfidence? Where did this come from? Neither Braden nor Galarraga are overconfident in any way. Braden isn't getting great run support and Galarraga wasn't that great of a pitcher to begin with.

Steve (Albany, NY)

Do the Yankees need to make a trade before the trade deadline and will they?

JM: It depends on how Mitre pitches,

Right, because anyone who watches baseball knows the Yankees are going to see if this journeyman starting pitcher can nail down the job before deciding whether to make a trade for a higher quality starting pitcher. It is not like the Yankees have already tried to trade for Cliff Lee BEFORE Pettitte got injured. Wait, yes they did.

Joe has such a weird view of why teams make moves. He really believes if Sergio Mitre pitches well the Yankees aren't going to make a move at the trade deadline and he thinks the entire NL East title depends solely on whether Jimmy Rollins, Chipper Jones or Carlos Beltran gets 100% healthy first. It is just weird sometimes to hear what he believes the pennant races in each league depend upon.

but if they NEED to make a trade, they will, or if they need the makeup of their pitching staff to change by the deadline, they will.

So Joe doesn't know if the Yankees will make a move at the deadline, but he knows if they need to make a trade they will. He's proud to provide this type of in-depth information.

One thing Brian Cashman has tried to do recently is build his team and pitching staff from within.

I have no problem with how the Yankees built their team, but the threshold for building their team and pitching staff from within is pretty low. It is not like other teams don't have similar looks from their pitching staff, but the Yankees don't seem to have an overabundance of great prospects ready to come up. Their farm system is generally considered to be in the middle of most farm system rankings for 2010 and their lineup doesn't contain an extraordinary amount homegrown impact players.

Yankees pitching staff:

Sabathia- signed as a free agent
Burnett- signed as a free agent
Hughes- homegrown player
Vazquez- traded for him this season (trading their best minor league pitcher in exchange)
Mitre- signed as a free agent
Pettitte- homegrown player

Like most bullpens in the majors, the Yankees have homegrown players and free agents pitching there.

Yankees lineup:

Brett Gardner- homegrown player
Granderson- traded for him this season
Nick Swisher- traded for him last season
Rodriguez- traded for him a few years ago
Jeter- homegrown player
Cano- homegrown player
Teixeira- signed as a free agent
Posada- homegrown player

The Yankees have gotten more impact players from their system lately, but I wouldn't say they are building from within extraordinarily more than they usually do. It is not a knock on the Yankees' way of doing business, but a knock on Joe Morgan not knowing much about baseball.

John (Dallas)

Hey Joe, big fan. John Kruk recently wrote about how Prince Fielder is a good fit in Texas. Do you think he is?

JM: Fielder would be a good fit in most places. A guy who hits the ball out of the ballpark is a good fit anywhere.

This is true except for Adam Dunn, who for some reason no one likes. He's the only power hitting guy that I feel like no team consistently wants.

So Prince Fielder would be a good fit in most places? I like how Joe conveniently ignores the fact a team would have to have the prospects to trade for Fielder and the ignores the economics of a team having to try and re-sign Fielder after next season as well. So Fielder in a perfect wonderful world would be a great fit in most places, or anywhere, but this just isn't true. Teams that currently have a first baseman that hits well would probably not want Fielder. Life is not a fantasy draft, there is more that goes into selecting a player for your team other than the fact he is a good player.

That's like asking, would Albert Pujols fit with the Mets.

I am going to play the contrarian here and say in Joe's perfect world, Pujols would be a great fit for the Mets. Unfortunately, I don't know if Pujols would be a great fit for a Mets team that has a young first baseman with a lot of potential and a larger hole in the rotation than at first base. What would the Mets have to give up to get Pujols? Is it worth doing that to upgrade from Ike Davis AND then have to re-sign Pujols when his contract runs out? The Mets have other holes on the team that should probably be addressed first.

So yes, Pujols does fit with the Mets, but I don't know if he fits as perfectly as Joe blindly seems to believe he does. There are more variables that go into a player going to a team other than just whether he is a good hitter or not. The Mets would love to have Pujols or Fielder, but they wouldn't like what they have to trade to get him nor will they like what they have to pay to keep him on the team compared to having control of Ike Davis.

Richie Cunningham (upstate ny)

Mr. Morgan, what did you think of last Tuesday's all-star game? (It didn't seem one of the better ones, and the ratings sure indicated that.) Thanks / rgds.

If you're a National Leaguer, it was one of the better ones. I'm not sure why the ratings were so low,

Because everyone was too tired to watch the game because they had stayed up the previous night and watched the three-hour (yet it felt like it was ten hours long) Home Run Derby.

but I'm not a fan of the rule where if a pitcher pitches on Sunday, he can't pitch in the ASG. We had a great matchup to start, but we didn't have the Sabathias of the world pitching, or Jered Weaver pitching as a hometown hero.

Pitchers who pitched on Sunday weren't the reason the All-Star Game did poorly in the ratings. I am not a fan of the rule, but I completely understand why the rule is in place. The All-Star Game is an exhibition and I don't think teams should have to restructure their rotation if they have a pitcher who made the All-Star team and doesn't mind not pitching in the game.

Tito (Brooklyn)

Joe who impressed you most in the all-star game?

JM: I thought Marlon Byrd had a very good game defensively, also working an important walk and scoring a run. It's hard for me not to be impressed with most of the players there.

Good old Tito is back asking Joe some questions. As stated in the comments last week, his VORC (Value Over Replacement Chatter, a fake statistic created by a commenter smarter than I am) is very high. Still, I am sure Joe thinks he should be more consistent and doesn't think there are as many consistent chatters as there used to be.

You have to be impressed with Brian McCann getting the game-winning hit as well.

I like how Joe writes in the second person in response to a chat question asked by a chatter. The question was who impressed Joe...and then he tells us who we should be impressed with. I always feel like I am being chastised in some ways when I read a JoeChat. Joe will answer a question (the best he knows how to), name a player/team who he believes is the answer to that question, and then tell us all not to forget another player/team...when he is the one who left that player/team out.

Greg (Atlanta)

Are the Braves good enough to get to the Series with their current roster or do they need another outfield bat?

They need another outfield bat not named Jose Bautista or Cody Ross. Wait, this question wasn't for me?

The Braves do need another bat, although they are good enough to make a run because of their pitching staff.

The Braves do need another bat, except for the fact Joe thinks they may not need another bat.

Great answer. It tells us nothing. I love how Joe never actually answers the question posed, but pushes the answer ahead in the future. Joe is only able to judge things based on hindsight it appears.

"I can't predict who will win the AL MVP this year, but if you ask me after the season I will tell you who won and if they deserved to or not."

They would have a better chance if they could come up with another bat. You can't expect Troy Glaus to keep driving in runs,

Why not? He had 99 RBI in 151 games in 2008, 62 RBI in 115 games in 2007, 104 RBI in 153 games in 2006 and 97 RBI in 149 games in 2005. Based on him staying healthy there is no reason he couldn't drive in runs right near the pace he is currently on (60 RBI in 92 games).

or Heyward to stay healthy,

Why in the hell can't you expect Jason Heyward to stay healthy? He is only 20 years old and has played less than a full season in the majors. He had a wrist injury earlier in the year, but I don't see how it is not possible to expect Heyward to stay healthy. If he can't stay healthy as a 20 year who has only played a half-season in the majors when can he stay healthy through his career?

Jack (Atlanta)

Do the Padres make a trade or stand pat and hope to hold on for the rest of the season? It certainly seems that they could go either way.

JM: I'm not sure that they can take on another big contract.

So the Padres couldn't trade for Prince Fielder, who is a good fit for most teams? I thought a guy who could hit the ball out of the park was a good fit anywhere?

In this economy, it's about whether they can take on another large salary rather than whether you need to take on more players.

Which is exactly why Prince Fielder isn't really a good fit in most places. So Joe's previous statement saying this is incorrect. Fielder is a good fit in just a few places because of his salary (now and in the future) and the cost of trading for Fielder.

They could go either way.

So the same team that Joe stated can't afford to take on another big contract may make a move to take on salary? What impact player can the Padres add without adding too much payroll or giving up a player they have on the roster they currently need?

Joe B (Aiter, NY)

Joe, do you think that Joe Torre is working Broxton too hard? He seems to have been fatigued lately and is less effective than normal.

JM: I very rarely question Joe Torre, but I'd say yes.

When the Yankees were there, he pitched him with a five-run lead on Saturday,

The reason Torre put Broxton in the game on June 26 was because he had appeared in 6 games since June 9th, had thrown only 36 pitches since June 13, and the All-Star break was coming up. He threw 19 pitches in this appearance. I don't believe he was overworked at this point.

then with a four-run lead on Sunday.

Broxton blew this lead. Broxton didn't blow the lead because he was fatigued though. He was fairly fresh and had not pitched a lot lately. It is not like he was wild. Of the 48 pitches he threw, 29 of them were strikes. So it is fine to say Broxton is tired and that is why he has struggled lately, but he wasn't tired in the examples that Joe gave so that can't be the reason he blew the four-run lead on June 29.

It is possible Broxton was fatigued after this appearance but fatigue doesn't seem to be the reason he blew this save.

He threw I think around 50 pitches on Sunday.

He threw 48 pitches, but he wasn't exactly exhausted from being overworked.

Joe Torre has been spoiled by Mariano Rivera's ability to be sharp day in and day out. It's just not that way with every other closer.

While I do agree with this statement in some ways, Broxton has pitched 76.1, 82, 69, and 76 innings over the last four years. He is currently around 42 innings, so he isn't really that far off his usual pace of work for the year.

I don't know if Broxton is struggling because he is tired or because he has hit a rough patch over three appearances.

Kevin (New Jersey)

Sunday in talking about Starlin Castro you said shortstop was the toughest position to learn how to play in the majors. I love ya Joe, but we see 19 year olds come up an play shortstop, (Andrus and Castro) but no 19 year old catchers. Cather is the most difficult position to learn, don't you agree?

Defensively, I think the catcher position would be the hardest to come in and play at a high level at a young age. There is so much going on in front of a catcher that he is responsible for. He handles the pitchers and has other duties that involve communicating with the infielders and backing up first base in the case of an errant throw. For a 19 year old, I think catcher would be the hardest defensive position to play at a high level and learn how to play.

JM: I wouldn't have said it if I agreed! To play shortstop properly is what I said. It's more difficult to make all of those defensive plays at shortstop, like learning how to be in the right cutoff position.

I would disagree completely. The catcher has responsibilities outside of his normal catching duties that he has to perform and I can pretty much guarantee there is more communication with teammates involved with the position than at shortstop. Learning to play catcher is less instinct and more learning how to handle pitchers and learning where you as a catcher have to be on every play.

Catching is putting the fingers down and catching the ball.

Well that's a nice "fuck you" to catchers. "Catching is putting the fingers down and catching the ball." What a simplistic way of looking at the position.

They call the protective equipment for the catcher the "tools of ignorance," but I think this term should be used instead for Joe Morgan's brain. Catching is so much more than just putting down fingers and catching the ball. Even in that simplified statement, Joe should realize the ball doesn't always go where it is supposed to go, so the catcher often has to block a pitch and prevent a runner from advancing and scoring.

Johnny Bench hangs his head in shame.

Veteran pitchers call their own games in the majors.

Veteran pitchers call their own games in the majors, but what about the many, many pitchers that aren't veterans? They certainly don't call their own games. Many veterans don't call their own games, the catcher often suggests a pitch and the pitcher shakes him off or throws the pitch.

For God's sake, veteran pitchers don't call their own games completely during a game. There is some help from their catcher and many pitchers prefer to use certain catchers they trust, even if they call their own games. Joe Morgan has set a new bar for himself in stupid statements.

No one makes the plays for you at shortstop. You get help when you're a young catcher. Managers will sometimes call pitches, like a football coach calling plays.


The shortstop doesn't get help fielding the ball and neither does a catcher. The catcher touches the ball on nearly every single pitch and what help the catcher gets stops once a pitch is thrown. I don't see how this is even arguable that a catcher has more to learn at the major league level.

There's more you have to do as a shortstop--it's not the hardest position to play as a young player, but there's more to learn.

No way. I don't want to say the shortstop has very little to do, because it is not true, but the catcher works directly with the pitcher on the pitches thrown and is responsible for being the manager of the infield. Shortstop isn't an easy position to learn, but a young catcher has to learn how to talk to and handle a pitching staff.

Catching is difficult for young players, but they get more assistance than shortstops.

This just sounds crazy to me. Playing shortstop for a 19 year old is harder, but playing catcher is harder.

Tito (Brooklyn)

Joe do you think the Red Sox will pick up the 12.5 million option for Ortiz next year?

JM: Very difficult question. If they could get someone like Adrian Gonzalez, they would not.

So if the Red Sox can predict the future and know if they will trade for Adrian Gonzalez then they will not pick up David Ortiz's option. Why can't Joe just answer a question without throwing other variables in there to try and confuse the issue because he doesn't know the answer? That's what he does. He doesn't know the answer so he throws another variable in the equation so he can say we don't know the answer yet. He needs to just give the answer, it is not like anyone is going to publicly call him a moron for being wrong.

Matt (Plano,TX)

Who is your MVP for the AL and NL?

JM: Too early to tell.

Was there any doubt this was going to be the answer? Joe doesn't know his NL and AL MVP until the season is over and votes are counted. He's completely incapable of projecting what players are doing now until the end of the season. God help the man at ESPN who hired Joe Morgan.

I always feel like the MVP should come from a winning team, one that's in the pennant race.

I always feel like those players are a good start but it doesn't make sense to assume the most valuable player in the AL or NL come from a team that is in the pennant race. Here's a good example, how good would the Yankees be without Robinson Cano in the lineup? Would they still be leading the AL East if they had a different second baseman out there? Maybe. It is not like there aren't other good players on that team. Not to take anything away from the year Cano is having, but there are other valuable players on that Yankees team. I am not saying Robinson Cano doesn't deserve the MVP, but just looking at the award from the perspective of how valuable a player is.

How good would the Tigers be without Miguel Cabrera in their lineup? Would the Tigers be in second place in the AL Central without him? I think that is debatable. Therefore I would think Miguel Cabrera is more valuable to the Tigers than Robinson Cano is to the Yankees. That's just before we even talk about numbers and statistics. The MVP in each league is not an easy debate, so I don't see why useless needs to simplify it by limiting it to a team that is in the pennant race has to continue.

You always have to start with Pujols in the NL. He's the best player in the game and it's his award to lose. For a long period, David Wright was the leader, but he has cooled off. Andre Ethier was one of the top candidates for a while, and you have to mention Adrian Gonzalez because the Padres are winning,

You don't have to mention Adrian Gonzalez just because the Padres are in first place. Simply because the Padres have a good record doesn't mean they have an MVP candidate on their team. Teams don't just win baseball games because they have an MVP candidate on their team.

and he's the reason they're in first place.

Not really. The Padres starting pitching and bullpen is the primary reason they are in first place, but Gonzalez is having a great year too.

I think the last question points out how many teams are capable of still winning their divisions or the wild card, and therefore it's going to depend on which player steps to the forefront, or which team steps up to take control of a division or the Wild Card.

More great insights from Joe. So the team that will win their division or the Wild Card is the team that plays the best down the last couple months of the season. He's said this before and this may be the only statement he is 100% sure about making in his chats.

We'll be in for great races down the stretch, and I don't really see anyone running away from the field just yet.

It's too early to tell anything right now about the baseball season. So everyone just quit asking Joe chat questions, okay? Instead of asking questions, we should use this weekly chat time to try and have a conversation among the chatters to figure out exactly how Joe Morgan got a job announcing baseball games.