Wednesday, March 31, 2010

8 comments Bill Simmons Tells Us A Little Bit About How To Evaluate Draft Prospects

Bill Simmons wants to be an NBA General Manager. It's no secret because he has publicly campaigned for the Minnesota Timberwolves' and Milwaukee Bucks' General Manager jobs. Bill has immersed himself in statistics and become friends with NBA GM's in the hopes they will someday recommend him to a team, he already follows the NBA religiously, and now he wants to show everyone that he knows how to properly evaluate NBA prospects.

How does he go about evaluating these prospects? (Other than hindsight in his evaluations of previous players of course) Using a two-week sample size of the NCAA Tournament of course. Now that Bill has paid attention to college basketball for two weeks he knows everything he needs to know about these players and he doesn't need to know anymore. If there is something else he may need to know, but doesn't, then clearly because he doesn't know it, that something else has no importance. Most people need to watch an entire season, but most people aren't as smart as Bill Simmons is. Ask him, he will tell you how smart he is.

So he writes an entire article, in list form with theories of course, on how to properly evaluate college basketball players in regard to their NBA prospects. Caution: The use of hindsight and the use of standards set by Bill to meet criteria Bill wants these standards to meet may cause your blood pressure to rise. If Bill is right about a college basketball prospect in this column, expect to hear about it, but the ones he was wrong about we won't ever hear about again. Remember how bad he said the NBA Draft was last summer? Yeah, he doesn't bring that comment back up.

I didn't want to right this article because I am afraid I come off as a college basketball know-it-all (this is a continual fear I have), but I promise I am not. Bill just tries to talk like an expert when he only watches a couple weeks of college basketball per year (or at least it seems that way).

I always like riling Chad up because he's a conflict-resolution professor. Ticking him off is like getting Tim Tebow to swear. Anyway, he tweeted that tournament performance affects evaluations by NBA teams, for better and worse, although he didn't think it was necessarily fair. I responded that it was fair.

There is nothing more fair than evaluating a prospect over a two week period as compared to evaluating him using the other 30+ games that player participated in during that season...or using his previous college seasons as well to evaluate this player. This two week period is much more important because it is a smaller sample size. New "statistics crazy" Bill Simmons knows this better than anyone.

What better time to determine someone's intestinal/testicular/mental fortitude than March Madness?

Agreed, this is a good time to test this player's fortitude. It is not the best time to determine a player's actual talent though. A player can have a bad postseason one season and that doesn't mean he is a bad player. This is so obvious I feel dumb even having to say it.

Here's my case in a nutshell:

His "case" isn't words but an example of what Bill is trying to say. As usual, he can't just say what he thinks, he has to compare what he thinks to something else.

Let's say I owned Marquis Jet and wanted to find new pilots to fly my 12-seat airplanes. Let's say I narrowed it down to 30 candidates and had a chance to fly cross-country with them in inclement weather. Let's say 20 of them did fine, five were amazing and five completely melted down, to the degree that I had to grab the controls or we would have crashed.

Should this matter?

Absolutely it should. What if...of the 20 candidates who did fine 7 of those had poor flight records prior to that day, of the 5 that did amazing 1 person had done terribly in bad weather until that day, and of the 5 that melted down 2 of those people had a great record in bad weather until that day?

Shouldn't this matter as well?

OF COURSE! OF COURSE IT MATTERS! I just looked into their souls. I just tested them in the most intense way possible. That doesn't matter?

Of course it does matter, but this is also a small sample size of this player's career so the results of this small sample size can't always be trusted. I am going to go ahead and skip ahead a bit for what Bill wrote later in this column to see how he contradicts himself in the exact same column.

But let's travel back to one of the lamest college seasons ever: 2002, when high schoolers and one-and-done guys were flooding the NBA draft, and the talent dipped so dramatically that our 2002 All-Tournament Team was …

(Hold on, you're not gonna believe this …)

Wilcox. Juan Dixon. Dane Fife. Lonny Baxter. And the one, the only, Kyle Hornsby.

So Bill's theory is that it matters what happens in the NCAA Tournament, unless it doesn't matter of course. The difference can be seen the best in hindsight, which is pretty much what this analysis relies on.

So Bill would choose these five players to pilot his ship during inclement weather, at least based on what he just wrote about the best players performing well in the NCAA Tournament. In case you were wondering, the leading scorers in this tournament were Juan Dixon and Jared Jefferies...both whom were/are in the NBA. So anyone who reads Bill's column twice can see this immediate semi-contradiction.

Sink or swim. That's March Madness. Should opinions on pro potential (or, as reader Shaun Fagan cleverly calls it, "protential") be formed entirely on tournament performance? Of course not. That's ridiculous.

It is ridiculous except Bill just used an example of choosing a pilot based completely on how he did in one flight during inclement weather and said the NCAA Tournament (not March Madness, that term annoys the shit out of is a CBS marketing term, but Bill uses it freely like it is the name of the fucking tournament) is the best way to determine a player's intestinal fortitude. So he does give the NCAA Tournament a lot of sway...since he bases his entire article on the NCAA Tournament tells us whether a player will be a good pro or not.

What are those things? I narrowed them down to 10 questions. I don't need all of them answered, or even most of them … but if I can get three or four protential answers, I am delighted.

Oh yes...a list.

Question No. 1: Does Player X pass the Foxhole Test?

In other words, would you want him as a teammate if you were playing a pickup game to 11 with the following stakes: Losers spend the weekend in a movie theater watching a 48-hour marathon of "The Backup Plan"?

Haha...that's a relevant movie reference! Hilarious. I am not sure which is worse, the plot of the movie or a reference to the movie acknowledging the movie exists...probably the actual plot, but not by much.

Kansas State's Jacob Pullen passed this test Saturday: gamer, warrior, tough as nails, totally unafraid, bounces off bigger guys, carried KSU all game (eight 3s). Scouts are dubious because, basically, he's a 6-foot-tall 2-guard. Or so they think. Because I see him evolving into a goofy hybrid of Kyle Lowry and Aaron Brooks: a shoot-first point guard with 3-point range who battles on every play. You could do worse in the second round, that's for sure. At least we know he's a fighter.

Do you know how I know Jacob Pullen is a fighter? I watched the other games that he played this season that were on national television and noticed the exact same thing in those games. I didn't need the NCAA Tournament or a passing interest in college basketball to come to this conclusion.

I do a lot of Simmons-whining about his college basketball comments and I think I have a good reason for that. Bill has a lot of passing interest in college basketball at this time of year. He writes about the NBA intelligently so he knows basketball, but I don't think he knows college basketball. Unfortunately his readers will do ANYTHING he asks of them and they believe every word out of his mouth, so they believe he knows something what he is talking about in nearly every case, but he doesn't.

He watches the conference tournaments and the NCAA Tournament and ignores college basketball in his columns other than that. Then he jumps on a bandwagon come tournament time and tells everyone how great players are in college basketball, like everyone ignores the sport simply because he does. He is so self-involved in this way. I don't need the fucking NCAA Tournament to tell me Jacob Pullen is a fighter, I have watched him all year and know this. Thanks for showing up late to the party, grab some finger food, and sit in the corner and shut the hell up.

(One thing I won't let Simmons ruin for me, he tweeted something about Jason Heyward and being excited to watch him play. Stay off this bandwagon. I have followed this kid since he got drafted by the Braves and I won't let him jump on the bandwagon before Heyward busts out. I am very protective of baseball prospects.)

(Important note: I swear on my son's life that I first wrote the previous paragraph Wednesday afternoon, a day and a half before Pullen donned the hero's cape in Thursday night's epic double-overtime victory over Xavier. See? The Foxhole Test never fails!!!!)

I do not believe that. One thing Bill forgets here (but does mention later, but only to prove a point...he forgets this here when it doesn't prove his point) is that Denis Clemente played the hero while Pullen was ice cold earlier in that game. Pullen had 10 of his 28 points in the two overtimes. Clemente had 11 of Kansas State's last 23 points in the 2nd half and Curtis Kelly was a beast inside. I am not taking anything away from Pullen, but if it wasn't for Kelly and Clemente, overtime may never have happened.

One other Foxhole guy I love: John Wall.

Oh my God! No way! I love John Wall too! No one has ever heard of this kid. I wonder if anyone has heard of this Evan Turner guy? You know, he is a guy I want in my foxhole also.

During the SEC title game, with Kentucky trailing by two and needing to rebound an intentional free throw-miss, I watched him as the free throw was in the air, thinking "I bet John Wall finds a way to get this rebound."

I am sure that is exactly what Bill thought. Of course we can't prove it, but that's fine. What I find interesting is Bill leaves out the part where Wall had alligator arms in regulation because this doesn't fit his point. Who said John Wall had alligator arms?

Bill Simmons himself.

Question No. 2: If he's an elite guy, can he have at least one "By the way, in case you didn't know, I AM AN ELITE GUY!" game?

Circumstances may intervene if Player X's teammates and/or coach aren't up to the challenge (see: Kevin Durant's 2007 Longhorns).

Two questions:

1. Which game was it that Kevin Durant didn't have an "I AM AN ELITE GUY" game?

Was it his 29 point 10 rebound performance against St. John's?

The 34 point 13 rebound performance against Missouri?

The 37 point 16 rebound performance against Colorado?

37 points and 12 rebounds against Oklahoma State?

37 points and 23 rebounds against Texas Tech?

Or 37 points and 10 rebounds against Kansas?

Or was it the fact he was named National Player of the Year as a freshman? If anyone needs more proof that Bill only pays attention to the NCAA Tournament, the fact he ignored Durant's 37-23 game against Texas Tech should be proof of that.

2. It can't be Durant's teammates that hurt him because that was a monster recruiting class and that Texas team had AJ Abrams, Damion James, D.J. Augustin, and Dexter Pittman on it. So it obviously had to be Rick Barnes that hurt him. I think Barnes is a bad coach, but to be fair, Michael Jordan didn't put up insane numbers in college either so a college player's college statistics aren't always a great measure of his skill.

All of this goes back to my point that Bill doesn't watch that much college basketball. He accuses Durant of not having an "elite guy" game at Texas, when this did occur several times. Bill has a massive crush on Durant, shouldn't he remember these games if he watched Durant during the regular season?

Again, we're all about accentuating previously conceived feelings.

What he means by this is, "reinforcing the idea the best players in the country are really the best players in the country by acting like a 2-3 game sample size means more than the entire season." I am not saying the NCAA Tournament doesn't mean anything, but it doesn't take a genius to look at Wes Johnson and John Wall and say they are elite guys. You just watch the games they play in.

Question No. 4: If there are personality "concerns" about the player, can you see those concerns manifesting themselves during games?

It's the "Blink" test. Trust your first instinct. If you don't like the look on someone's face, the way they carry themselves and/or the way they interact with teammates and coaches, then trust that initial red flag.

All of these "tests" and rules Bill has get very tiresome at a certain point. On Question No. 4, I am already tired of what few there have been.

I remember seeing Eddy Curry in person for the first time (Bulls-Celtics in 2001), watching him in warm-ups and checking out of the Eddy Curry Era right then and there. Hated the look on his face. Part entitled, part angry, part crazy, part "I hate warming up, I wish we were eating right now." I was done with Eddy in three seconds.

I like how a lot of Bill's opinions are based on hindsight like this. If only Bill had a national column where he could have put this prediction in there and not have some stupid blogger like me disbelieve him. Wait, he did have a national column and didn't say this at the least that I could find. Of course he hates on Curry in retrospect...

What's the difference between being a fixable head case and an unfixable head case? It's simple, actually. You can't become un-lazy. You can't go from being clueless to having a clue.

Zach Randolph hasn't seemed to have a problem making this transition this year. I am sure Bill would say it was only temporary.

You can't go from crazy to sane. You can't go from selfish to selfless. You can't go from soft to tough. You can't go from being a knucklehead to being savvy. You can't go from ADD to totally zoned in. You can't go from being a DEFCON 1 hothead to a soothing presence.

You absolutely can go from being ADD to totally zoned in and you can go from being a hothead to a soothing presence. In fact, I think athletes could go from one of these to the other during their career. I don't know how Bill thinks he can get away with saying you can't do this. Michael Jordan went from being selfish early in his career to being selfless once he got better teammates around him...or at least it seemed that way because the statistics of his assists don't bear this out. Maybe he just trusted his teammates more. Either way, my point is I believe players can progress from one side of this spectrum to the other. Many players may not, but it is possible.

Question No. 5: Does Player X have a meal ticket?

Saint Mary's Omar Samhan intrigues me for one reason: If you feed him the ball within seven feet of the basket, he's scoring unless Dwight Howard is defending him.

Or he may not score if he has a high caliber defensive player guarding him, like Epke Udoh. I think we all overreacted a little bit to Samhan doing well against Villanova and Richmond, both of whom didn't have a impact low post defensive or offensive guy.

He has to be one of the best 30-35 guys in this draft. Has to. You can count the number of effective low-post scorers in the NBA on two hands. Still, we needed to see him do it on national TV with the Madness lights shining on him. And he did.

We didn't need to see him in "March Madness" because we saw his statistics through the season. If anything the NCAA Tournament reinforced the idea that Samhan was a great low post scorer but he would struggle against a team that had an effective big man...otherwise known as the same guys he will be facing in the NBA.

Also, let's not pretend Bill knew who Samhan was before this past 2 weeks. I barely had heard of him and I follow college basketball pretty thoroughly...even the experts hadn't heard much of him. Bill just needed to see Samhan actually play, not see him during March.

That brings me to something I call the Gerald Green Corollary: You can't make it in the NBA unless you can do at least one thing exceedingly well.

This is also known as "common fucking sense." But hey, let's Bill pretend he invented this idea, because he probably believes he did.

Green was an incredible athlete, but he wasn't good at anything.

Of course this may have had something to do with the fact he never really got coaching because he skipped college completely and the NBA sure isn't going to help a young player try to get better. It is nice to think Gerald Green wasn't good at anything, but we also can't ignore the fact he never got the proper coaching that would allow him work on his strengths and make them something he did exceedingly well. This is partly what going to the NBA right after high school had done to him.

Throw in a Gump-like basketball IQ and he never had a chance. Meanwhile, Ty Lawson was lightning-fast in college; nobody could stay in front of him. Guess what? He's lightning-fast in the pros.

Of course Bill says this in retrospect and never said anything like this last year before the draft...during the time he was completely taking a dump on the quality of this draft.

J.J. Redick shot the living crap out of the basketball in college. Guess what? He's making 39 percent of his 3s on a contender.

It took him like three years to even get to the point where he could contribute though. This was from a guy who attended all four years of college. I feel like this needs to be pointed out.

My favorite example: In college, Brandon Roy felt like a lottery pick to me just because of his tricky hesitation move. Everyone fell for it.

Well of course Brandon Roy felt like a lottery pick to Bill. I mean, don't you remember all those times he said this about Roy?

Bill's "thing" he does exceedingly well is that he looks back in hindsight and is able to be absolutely right about everything. It's a gift he has to be able to tell you in 2010 exactly what he thought about a player in the draft from 3-4 years ago...and get this, he was always right about that guy. Amazing!

He was going to score 20 points a game in the pros. Minimum. Still, I wanted to see it from him in the tournament. He dropped 28 points in 32 minutes on Utah State. Good sign. In Round 2, he brought Washington back from an 11-point second-half deficit to beat Illinois. Our big-stage questions were answered. He became a can't-miss for me.

I think Bill Simmons is the only major columnist I can think of that actively had these thoughts and didn't share them with anyone. Despite the fact he has a national column and can say whatever he wants. Bill is the only guy who brags about shit he absolutely can not prove he actually thought.

Same for Ben Gordon two years earlier, an electric scorer who couldn't be stopped when he got going. In the regional finals, he destroyed Alabama: 36 points in 39 minutes, 11-of-19 shooting, four 3s, 10-of-11 from the line. Done. He had to be a top-five pick after that. Always look for that meal ticket.

It could have also had something to do with the fact Gordon was awesome in many, many other games as well during his time at UConn, but those were games were Bill wasn't convinced. It was this small sample size game against a team in the NCAA Tournament that convinced him. Who needs 35 games where Ben Gordon played well when you have that one game in the NCAA Tournament he played well.

(A great example from last year's draft that I blew at the time: Memphis' Tyreke Evans could get to any spot he wanted. This was obvious in college, and it's painfully obvious now. I got caught up in dueling issues with him -- "Is he a point guard or a shooting guard?" and "Why was he the driver in the getaway car of a shooting?" -- and missed the basic reality of the Tyreke Evans Era. Namely, that none of the other crap mattered. The dude gets to the rim whenever he wants. I am still kicking myself.)

Remember this?

You can't go from crazy to sane. You can't go from selfish to selfless. You can't go from soft to tough. You can't go from being a knucklehead to being savvy. You can't go from ADD to totally zoned in. You can't go from being a DEFCON 1 hothead to a soothing presence.

Apparently in select situations (in hindsight of course), players can have the fact you may have a bad feeling about them overridden by the fact they are great basketball players. You may ask, but "Bengoodfella, how do I tell the difference?"

Here's how you tell the difference. Wait for a player to be in the NBA for a few years and then make up a new rule about that player and how he doesn't fit the old rule...namely, because he proved the old rule wrong. So it's fine to have a bad feeling about a player, but don't mention it and then make up a new rule so your old rule doesn't look wrong. See, it's easy!

So if Tyreke Evans looked like a turd to Bill he should have trusted his first instinct, according to Question #4, then he should have trusted that instinct. Except in the case of Evans this instinct was proven incorrect, so he makes up another rule about a "meal ticket" which means his arbitrary rules aren't wrong, there are just exceptions sometimes, and most of those exceptions are realized a year or two down the road.

Question No. 6: Should we overreact because Prospect X missed the tournament or was quickly eliminated?

No! I'm convinced that this was why everyone (including me) blew Darren Collison's situation last spring.

I don't think everyone blew that situation really. He was drafted in the 1st round and he had a good college career. I gave the pick a "C" because they already had Chris Paul and didn't need Darren Collison. I didn't say how great Collison was, but I think it was apparent to some that Collison was a good point guard. Whatever, because Bill missed on Collison, everyone else did too.

Egads! How did we overlook him? Like it was his fault that he went from playing with two 2008 top-five lottery picks (Kevin Love and Russell Westbrook) and another guy starting right now (Luc Richard Mbah a Moute) to a crew of nobodies.

These "nobodies" included a high 1st round pick, Jrue Holliday, and a top 5 recruiting class that included the 3rd ranked point guard, the 3rd ranked center, and the 7th ranked shooting guard. Yes, they were all freshmen, but they weren't a crew of nobodies, just a crew of young players and role players. They also had Michael Roll on the team as well, so they were really a team of underachievers rather than a team of nobodies.


Question No. 7: How much are Player X's teammates making/breaking his success in the tournament?

Five years ago, Deron Williams jumped Chris Paul on some lists (and ended up getting drafted ahead of him) because Illinois made the title game and Wake Forest got bounced in Round 2. I never thought this was fair. Paul was so superior to his teammates that I remember feeling bad for him; they just weren't on the same plane.

This is retarded reasoning. How many college teams can have a player like Chris Paul and other players on the same plane as Chris Paul? He's an incredible point guard so you aren't going to find many players with his same skill level on one college basketball team. Wake Forest had a good team that year with Eric Williams, Justin Gray, Taron Downey, and Kyle Visser. Did they win the National Championship? No, but they weren't a bad team. The fact they didn't have another player on the level of Chris Paul really means nothing.

(Can you name one player Paul played with that season? I bet you can't.)

I just did, without looking it up. Bill is such an egomaniac. He believes simply because he can't name players from the team, no one else has the knowledge to do so either.

I thought Paul would thrive as a pro with better teammates … and in this case, I was right.

He is taking credit for saying Chris Paul would improve in the NBA. The fact Paul will improve in the NBA, where yes, he has better teammates is pure common sense. It's not a revelation or anything. I can't believe Bill just wrote this sentence. It's the NBA, the teams are always better than the college teams.

Of course he is going to improve in the NBA! Any good player is going to end up with better teammates in the NBA than in college, this is almost a universal truth for a player when he moves from college to the NBA. Great players ALWAYS get better than they were in college, so if the player is worth a shit, he will get better with these better teammates. This proves nothing about Chris Paul or his Wake Forest team because this could nearly go for any player on any college team.

This month's ultimate "better than his teammates" example: Georgia Tech's Derrick Favors. For all we know, he might be the next Kevin Garnett. (Not saying he is; just saying that there's no way of knowing.) His guards were gawd-awful and couldn't get him the ball. His coach seemed uninterested in running plays through him (although to be fair, Paul Hewitt might just be in a coma). And if that wasn't enough, his only good teammate played the exact same position and had his own first-round ideas.

Wow, actual good analysis from Bill on the Derrick Favors issue. Apparently Paul Hewitt just realized it doesn't make sense to recruit players who play the exact same position and want to occupy the exact same space on the court. Gani Lawal should have transferred.

For instance, Kansas' Xavier Henry disappeared in the Northern Iowa loss when -- if you were thinking about him as a sleeper for the top 10 -- that would have been an ideal time for him to announce, "Hey guys, I got this, get on my back." He didn't. Did it mean anything?

Under Question #2 and #3, this should have absolutely meant something. If Tyreke Evans could do it, why couldn't Xavier Henry?

In my opinion, not really.

Of course not.

Sherron Collins had such a stranglehold on the 2010 Jayhawks -- they deferred to him constantly, especially in big moments -- that it was like watching a cocksure 12th-grader playing with wide-eyed ninth- and 10th-graders. Get out of my way, I got this. If Henry disappeared in a similarly big game as Kansas' best player next year, I would hold it against him. Not this year.

I can buy this. I will say if Henry really was an elite player he would have stepped up when he saw his team struggling, which is something he did not do against Northern Iowa. He only shot the ball 6 times the entire game. So while I will agree with Bill that Collins had a stranglehold on that team an elite player, even a freshman, wouldn't let the game get away without trying to take over.

A different example: Cole Aldrich in that same game. He had been playing with Collins for the past three years. He's a lottery pick. He should have been able to dominate Northern Iowa down low, Samhan-style. But it wasn't in him. Not his style...I didn't hold it against him. In the words of Denny Green, Cole Aldrich was who we thought he was: a complementary center who challenges shots, rebounds and scores if he gets good position. He's Joel Przybilla 2.0.

Would you pick Joel Przybilla in the Top 5 in the NBA Draft? I wouldn't. It's funny that Bill compares him to Przybilla and then he said this on Twitter:

I'm just getting acclimated into college hoops. But still... no way Cole Aldrich should go lower than No. 5 in June's draft.

Wow, so either Bill saw one game Aldrich played and overreacted to him or he is taking his love of Cole Aldrich back from what he felt in late January.

Or this:

My question: "You never write about Cole Aldrich, why don't you like white people?" RT @chadfordinsider: I'm chatting at 1 p.m. ET today.

Still, Bill was pretty high on Aldrich the next day. We can take him being drunk out of the equation for why he wrote what he did the day before.

Ed Davis over Aldrich? BAD CHAD! BAD! Go to your room! RT @chadfordinsider: My latest Top 100 Big Board:

I would personally take Ed Davis over Cole Aldrich in a heartbeat. I am not saying Bill's opinion should be set in stone or anything, he has a right to change his mind. I just want to ask everyone if they really should trust his opinion on college basketball players when just one and a half months ago, he was all about Cole Aldrich in the lottery and now he thinks Aldrich is a complementary player? What's the difference? He started watching more college basketball games. It is just something to think about when determining how smart Bill is and if he knows what he is talking about in this column.

And you wouldn't want Joel Przybilla trying to save you from the biggest upset in 16 years … right?

Absolutely not. Which means Bill was wrong about Aldrich back in late January/early February, though you won't find him mention that in this column because he has to be right. Any evidence he thought differently of Aldrich may not paint him as the sports genius he believes himself to be.

Along those same lines: UNC's Marvin Williams couldn't start for the 2005 national champs, but some experts wrote it off as "That's all right, those guys were loaded!" and maintained that he was a top-three talent. Really? HE COULDN'T START FOR HIS COLLEGE TEAM!

First, this shows exactly how little Bill knows about college basketball. Certain coaches won't start a freshman over a senior or a junior no matter the reason. That team had 5 McDonald's All-Americans on the roster (one of which was Marvin Williams), they were loaded, but skill isn't the reason Williams didn't start. Roy Williams isn't known for starting some freshmen if there is a talented junior/senior in front of him. For example, Ed Davis didn't start last year, it doesn't mean he sucks it just means Roy Williams didn't start him over Deon Thompson.

Marvin Williams had David Noel, Jawad Williams, and Jackie Manuel ahead of him because they were a junior, a senior and a senior respectively. The reason was their seniority and had very little to do with actual skill. If Bill watched college basketball more than he does, he would recognize things like this tend to happen for various reasons. So Bill's reasoning for being outraged at Williams not starting is actually not very knowledgeable in my mind.

When we watched him play six straight games at the highest level, never -- not at any point -- did I feel like I was watching the No. 2 pick in the 2005 draft. I thought I was watching a complementary player.

Really? Even when he dropped 20 points and 15 rebounds in only 26 minutes on Iowa State in the second round? Are we sure this isn't revisionist history or someone needs to do a little research first? Yes, Williams should not have gone before Chris Paul, but he seemed to be a talented guy regardless if he came off the bench or not.

See, this is all knowledge we have in retrospect.

Behind Door No. 2: Sherron Collins' stink bomb in the Northern Iowa game. Collins wasn't the only reason Kansas lost -- I still blame Bill Self for allowing an underdog to control the tempo and not pressuring them with a superior crew of athletes --

Bill still blames Self for this. He in no way is just repeating what EVERY SINGLE analyst and columnist has said about the Kansas-Northern Iowa...even though they are all saying the same thing as Bill. I think it is universal that Bill Self was an idiot for not controlling the tempo better. This wasn't an original Bill Simmons thought. I have to mention this.

but his "I live for the big moments!" résumé was basically tossed in the garbage.

Again, Bill has a lack of college basketball knowledge. Kansas has crapped out in the NCAA Tournament under Self on quite a few occasions. He really isn't widely considered a big game coach in all honesty.

Behind Door No. 4: Wes Johnson's "disappearance" during the Butler upset. If you studied the play-by-play sheet only, you'd say to yourself, "Wow, Johnson went MIA! No shots in the last six minutes? What a choke job!" Not exactly. He was playing for a coach who made a career out of burying his No. 1 scoring option in big games (note: Syracuse fans are nodding grimly right now),

Bill has no idea what he is talking about. In 2003, Carmelo Anthony scored 33 points in the Final Four against Texas and in the championship game followed it up with 20 points and 10 rebounds. I am sure there are Syracuse players who don't do well in big games, but it isn't because Boeheim buries them.

and with skittish guards who lost their minds down the stretch (Andy Rautins and Scoop Jardine combined for eight shots and three turnovers in the final six minutes).

So Boeheim has made his career out of playing skittish guards that lose their mind down the stretch? Does this statement have any proof other than the one game against Butler? Does Bill have any proof other than that?

Question No. 10: Is Player X thriving during a talent-heavy season or a talent-light season?

Should we name this the Chris Wilcox Corollary or the Jared Jeffries Corollary? You decide. I don't care. But let's travel back to one of the lamest college seasons ever: 2002,

This is the point where Bill ignores the overall theme of the article that the best players prove themselves during the NCAA Tournament. The following guys didn't make it too much in the NBA after playing well in the NCAA Tournament, but there is always a reason one of Bill's other rules just don't work.

the talent dipped so dramatically that our 2002 All-Tournament Team was …

(Hold on, you're not gonna believe this …)

Wilcox. Juan Dixon. Dane Fife. Lonny Baxter. And the one, the only, Kyle Hornsby.

Yeah, a lot of those guys stunk. It wasn't the greatest year for college basketball, but we only know this in retrospect, which makes this rule pretty pointless for the present or future. Basically there is no way this should be a rule since we can't really measure the strength of college basketball teams in a season compared to other teams in other seasons incredibly accurately in real time.

And not to film a second episode of "Hindsight is 20/20 With Bill Simmons," but maybe it wasn't a great idea to overrate those title-game guys in what was clearly a septic tank of a tournament?

See? Even Bill admits it.

He ended up jumping Roy and getting picked fourth. Even better, Portland swapped his rights for No. 2 pick LaMarcus Aldridge, that year's version of Favors (a textbook "his teammates suck, so we have no idea how good he is" guy).

LaMarcus Aldridge's teammates sucked? The 2005-2006 Texas Longhorns made the Elite 8 and had P.J. Tucker, AJ Abrams, Daniel Gibson, Kenton Paulino, and Brad Buckman on the team. They weren't the best team Rick Barnes had at Texas, but Aldridge's teammates didn't suck.

One thing we definitely know: There isn't an algebra formula that applies across the board. There will always be can't-miss heroes who thrive in the pros (Carmelo Anthony, Mike Bibby, Rip Hamilton, Dwyane Wade, Ben Gordon, Joakim Noah, Al Horford, Shane Battier), just like there will be heroes who never match that success (Trajan Langdon, Ed O'Bannon, Mateen Cleaves, Miles Simon) or find the right NBA team (Christian Laettner).

Even though there isn't a formula, Bill feels comfortable enough to throw together 10 "Questions" that also serve as rules as to whether a player will succeed in the NBA after using the NCAA Tournament to have more people see their game. So while there is no formula, Bill thinks if there is one, he is the one that should be providing it. Why a person would say there is no set formula for something that can be used, but then try to seriously make one up (especially based mostly on the NCAA Tournament), I don't know.

Regardless, there is such thing as a "good college player" that doesn't have skills that translate to the pros or that player was only successful in the college system his school ran.

You know, like with Thursday night's Kansas State/Xavier game. I already believed in Crawford and Pullen. I already thought their protential was severely undervalued.

This may very well be true, but my entire point is this comment is made in retrospect and we have no proof Bill is telling the truth about this. I hate to say, I really do, but given the fact he seems to enjoy being right, I can't say I 100% believe he thought this...or didn't think this then as strongly as he seems to now.

Forget about swimming … those dudes were doing the breaststroke and the butterfly. I saw everything I needed to see.

Weak, weak "funny" comment about swimming..or whatever it was.

I like how Bill didn't watch these players all year and has no idea if these are players who were good for the entire year or not, he just needed to see them play in 4 games and that is all he needs to know.

I hate to break it to Bill, but this may not be a strong year for college basketball. It's not the strongest year in terms of the best teams being great, great teams, so Pullen and Crawford could fall under his Question #10 heading. It wasn't a terrible year for teams, but there wasn't a 2009 UNC team or even a 2008 Kansas team in the country really. Maybe Kansas and Kentucky came the closest, but there is a possibility this isn't the strongest year for college basketball teams. Of course a person would have had to watch more than 2 weeks of basketball to know this could be true and we won't really know until 2-3 years down the road anyway.

Jordan Crawford is an NBA player. So is Jacob Pullen. You will never convince me otherwise. March Madness, baby.

That "March Madness baby" ending was ever so corny. It just screams "casual fan" to me. Whatever, it doesn't really matter. Bill tried to make rules for something he admits there are no rules for, bases his observations on 2 weeks of sample sizes, and just generally seems to have an incomplete knowledge of the sport he is talking about. He is entitled to his opinion of course. The most annoying part is that his loyal readers are going to eat this shit up. They will think he knows EXACTLY what he is talking about and this column wasn't opinion, but was stone cold fact.

That's actually is what is most annoying about any Bill Simmons column. What may be an opinion article all of a sudden becomes the Gospel According to Bill and his readers will use it as their guide to sports and life. Much of what you can learn about a college basketball player is seen during the regular season rather than a 2 week tournament, regardless of the pressure on the players in the tournament. These 10 Questions aren't the ramblings of a man who is a casual observer of college hoops, but 10 Theses to be posted on the door that should guide how EVERY college basketball player should be evaluated.

This perturbs me.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

6 comments Jay Mariotti Still Mad at Ozzie Guillen for "Outing" Him

I had so many titles for the post today that I didn't necessarily want to put as the title for various reasons. Among them were:

"Jay Mariotti Still Hates Ozzie Guillen, Puppies, Babies, and Human Life in General."

"Jay Mariotti: Poster Child for Woman's Right to Choose."

"Jay Mariotti Still Hates Ozzie Guillen and the Entire World Still Hates Jay Mariotti."

"When the World Ends, Only Cockroaches and Jay Mariotti Will Survive, But How Will We Be Able to Tell the Difference in the Two?"

"No One Likes Jay Mariotti, Even His Heart."

"Mrs. Mariotti, Why Did You Release This Menace On the World?"

"Jay Mariotti Attacks Ozzie Guillen Again, and Ozzie Guillen Tries to Convince Heart Attack to Hit Mariotti Harder Next Time."

"Grim Reaper Comes For Jay Mariotti and Returns Him...Says Even He Has Standards For Souls He Will Accept."

I finally ended up with the title I put above because it was mean enough to be a title and not too mean where I am just beating up on Mariotti in the title. I do think I could go on and on with titles for this post that insult Jay Mariotti, but I will get to the actual post now. In between being shocked baseball isn't kid friendly and beating up on Bud Selig, Jay Mariotti has just remembered he hates Ozzie Guillen.

I have a dream...Ozzie Guillen and Jay Mariotti in a steel cage match...winner takes all. Why can't this happen?

Ozzie Guillen has messed up again and Jay Mariotti is taking time out of his busy schedule of hating everyone in general to direct his anger right at him.

The Blizzard of Oz, as I've come to call Ozzie Guillen, should have been put out of his misery years ago,

Jay Mariotti should have also been put out of his misery years ago. Who likes him? Who reads his writing and actually likes it? I want you to out yourself, I won't feel differently about you, I just want to know why you like him. It's like going in the mind of a serial killer, I have to know what you are thinking.

dumped like an out-of-control radio caller unfit for human consumption.

Should Guillen also be dumped like an out-of-control writer on television who spends his time yelling at the television in order to make a point?

It's funny that Mariotti takes a shot at callers on radio shows because nothing Mariotti says on "Around the Horn" that is any more in-depth or interesting than what your standard radio caller has to say on air. For example, he writes an entire article about why Ozzie Guillen should be fired, but why does he really even care at this point if Guillen gets fired or not...other than the fact he doesn't like Guillen due to a feud they have with each other.

It is the typical Jay Mariotti feud. He takes a shot at a person, the other person takes a shot at him, Mariotti takes another shot and then goes into hiding so he doesn't get his ass kicked as he takes more shots at the person, and then through the years Mariotti randomly expresses his dislike for this person in his columns.

The problem is that his bosses have enabled his mindless, profane, manic and often dangerous dialogue because, well, his team happened to get lucky in 2005 and help the franchise win a World Series for the only time in 93 years.

Got lucky, didn't get doesn't matter. They won the World Series. I am not sure how a team that wins 99 games gets lucky, that sounds like a pretty good team to me. Still, without calling them lucky, Jay Mariotti would have to admit Guillen isn't a terrible manager. He has accomplished in his short time with the White Sox what no other Chicago manager had been able to do for decades (and generations), win a World Series. There has to be some talent in his managing skills to do that. The 2005 White Sox team won 99 games, I don't call that luck.

So how comical to see those very same enablers, general manager Ken Williams and owner Jerry Reinsdorf, now being torched and embarrassed by their own monster.

It's hilariously comical if you are the type of person to sit around and wish for terrible things to happen to other people all day. I can't believe Jerry Reinsdorf, who would have brought both the Jordan-era and post-Jordan-era Bulls down with his poor personnel and management decisions if it weren't for Phil Jackson and others, has such bad luck. Thank God, there were others who wouldn't listen to Reinsdorf during the 90's or I could only imagine what the Bulls teams would have looked like.

It was inevitable that the Blizzard would shift his foul-mouthed focus from his own players, players and managers on other teams, TV analysts, sports columnists, blow-up dolls, social issues

How dare he have an opinion on issues! He should be more like Bobby Cox and punch his wife or more like Tony LaRussa and get arrested for DUI. Domestic violence and drunk driving we can stand, but to use your freedom of speech when talking about issues OUTSIDE of baseball? Unacceptable.

Yeah Ozzie Guillen is a loud-mouth and he doesn't always say the right thing, but he is a breath of fresh air for me because he does those things. It's entertaining for me.

and Sean Penn -- yes, he bleep-bleeped the actor for defending Venezuela president Hugo Chavez --

Not Sean Penn! Now Ozzie Guillen has crossed the line. I can't believe Guillen criticized Sean Penn for defending a socialist semi-dictator who is essentially controlling his country through a tight fist that keeps many in poverty and encourages government control of the media.

Who should really know better about what Hugo Chavez has done to Venezuela and it's people? Actor Sean Penn or Ozzie Guillen who is from Venezuela and very likely still has family and friends in the country? Really, let's think about this. Doesn't Ozzie Guillen probably know more about Chavez and is in a better position to criticize him than Sean Penn?

Obviously Sean Penn does according to Jay Mariotti. So Ozzie was WAY out of line for criticizing a socialist semi-dictator. Maybe Jay Mariotti should go to Venezuela and work for Hugo Chavez.

Predictably, Guillen arrived at spring training eager to expand his goofballish persona via social media networks such as Twitter, which allows him to express his absurd ramblings 24/7, heaven help us.

Fucking freedom of speech. Who created that for everyone anyway? Only those who eloquently and intelligently can put the spoken word down on paper, like Jay Mariotti, should be able to use their freedom of speech to express what they would like to say.

Williams was understandably leery, but his stance on the matter also was hypocritical, as often happens in the team boardroom, in that he and Reinsdorf signed off on a MLB Network reality show that is going behind the scenes with the team and front office this season.

So it was hypocritical to allow Ozzie Guillen to participate in social networking and also allow the team to be filmed by MLB Network for a reality show? Isn't this is the opposite of hypocritical because in both instances the White Sox are allowing what thoughts that are normally private in the White Sox organization to become public?

The fact Ken Williams was nervous about Guillen participating in social networking doesn't mean he is hypocritical for letting MLB Network behind-the-scenes of the White Sox organization. I am sure he was a little leery about participating in that show as well, but he still agreed to do it.

With much reluctance, Williams agreed to let the twit tweet.

Name-calling. Always a journalistic technique only used by the highest quality of writers.

E on the boss.

That's a baseball reference! That's hilarious and relevant to the topic at hand!

When the Blizzard's newest hobby made national news, he started thinking bigger, like some media megalomaniac. He devised a plan to launch his own personal Web page with the help of his family.

And after Ozzie Guillen started his own Web page, he was planning on immediately taking over the world. I like how off Jay Mariotti's line of thought is. He believes that Ozzie Guillen, who always has microphones and cameras in front of him as one of the managers of the 30 Major League Baseball teams, needs Twitter or a Web page to get his message out to the masses, even though this has never stopped him before. As if in some way, being the manager of the Chicago White Sox is less high profile than having a Web page and a Twitter account.

It seemed Guillen was becoming so full of himself, urged on by primitive Sox fans who like getting attention of any sort in Cubs-dominated Chicago,

They must be looking for the attention that winning the World Series in 2005 couldn't provide. Again, I enjoy how off Jay Mariotti's line of thought is here too. He thinks White Sox fans are primitive for using Internet social media to gain attention in the city of Chicago. Call them attention-hungry, but using post-new millennium technology to gain attention is not primitive.

The timing couldn't be worse. With the season-ending elbow injury to Joe Nathan dealing a heavy blow to the Minnesota Twins, the White Sox and their new ace pitcher, Jake Peavy, suddenly are the favorites to conquer the American League Central.

As we all know, when the manager of a Major League Baseball team starts to use social media technology this speeds up Joe Nathan's recovery time and causes Jake Peavy to pitch poorly. That's why Jake Peavy was injured last year, Bud Black was always on Facebook "friending" people and it weakened Peavy's ability to withstand an injury.

The last thing they needed was another in a long line of shameful Blizzard episodes.

Due to the fact these episodes have effected the White Sox little in the past, concerning on-the-field performance, I don't see how it makes a difference.

But that is exactly what happened, courtesy of his 24-year-old son, Oney. If ever you don't want a son to act like his father, it would apply to any offspring of Ozzie Guillen.

If there was ever offspring I don't want acting like his father, it would be the son of Adolf Hitler, possibly Osama Bin Laden's children, Kim Jong's children, and just for good measure any children of Jay Mariotti. Other than the fact he called Jay Mariotti "gay," I don't see how Ozzie Guillen is a terrible person.

I could probably name 100 other people off the top of my head who no one would want acting like their father, but clearly none of them would be as bad as the son of an outspoken baseball manager taking after his father. It's abhorrent to hear him speak his mind and use his freedom of speech in the way he does. In fact, it's un-American.

it was Oney who went bonkers in the spirit of, um, family pride. As an employee in the team's video department, he should have been thankful to have a job in Major League Baseball.

Just like Jay Mariotti should be thankful enough people hate him that he gets pageviews everyday that justify the money he gets paid to be hated. Also, I don't get why working in the video department of the White Sox means Oney Guillen should be thankful to have a job, other than the fact he has a job and should be happy about that.

So, like Ozzie, Oney took to his Twitter account, @oneyroberto.

And attacked the very men who employ both Guillens.

11:23 a.m.: "The Guillen family just got screwed over or (expletive) ... but dont worry we have our own way of handling this.''

Jay Mariotti spends this entire column attacking the Guillen family and what they have said publicly about pretty much anything. He doesn't think they deserve a forum to speak their mind or say what they want to the public. Then when writing about this issue, Jay Mariotti freely gives everyone Oney Guillen's Twitter account name, which is still active. So Jay Mariotti has made it easier for people who read his columns to read Oney Guillen's "useless" ramblings by providing this information.

A few minutes later, he took a Twitter swipe at a restaurant, which would seem harmless if the place wasn't co-owned by Williams.

11:46 a.m.: "My fav restaurant in chicago is Chi tung Latte. My least fav Market hands down worst food in the city."

Oh no, he didn't! He took a swipe at a restaurant that is co-owned by the White Sox General Manager! Cripple fight!

If anything, these comments are harmless and immature. I am pretty sure the city of Chicago is not taking food critic advice from Oney Guillen. It's not like he is Gordon Ramsey or anything. He works in the video department of a Major League Baseball team, so to a normal person his opinion means so very little, but to Jay Mariotti this comment will have tremendous repercussions.

Very quickly, after Reinsdorf and Williams called a meeting with Ozzie, Oney was gone. Guillen said last week that he told his son to resign, but his explanation over the weekend included an odd rant that seemed to be a passive-aggressive shot at his bosses.

So let me get this straight...Oney Guillen made an inappropriate comment on Twitter and now he has been let go because of this? So Oney Guillen was in the wrong and he paid for this mistake with his job?

The horror! A human resources problem was taken care of in a timely manner? How dare they do this. Ozzie Guillen is a monster because he isn't happy his son was let go/fired! Most parents would be proud to have their children fired/let go from a job.

"I have to put myself in the situation of feeling comfortable," Guillen said. "When you talk about your family, that's different. I don't give a [bleep] who you are. When you talk about my wife, my kids -- I'll kill anybody for them. When you're not right, you're not right. That's why I made the decision. I made the decision. It was not Kenny, it was not Jerry, it was not [vice president of communications] Scott Reifert. It was myself [who] made that decision for them because ... I don't want to come here every day and feel uncomfortable about anything.

Let's be honest. Any father who loved his child would be frustrated and upset with this situation. What I can't believe is that Ozzie is making this ALL about him...

What's today, the 20th? It's time to talk about how good Peavy is, how good [Gordon Beckham] is and how good my ballclub is going to play. Everyone should be behind us and hopefully in November, we're celebrating with a [bleeping] trophy and have a nice book about how this season began."

How self-centered is that? He wants to turn the focus on to HIS baseball team that HE manages. Ozzie thinks EVERYONE should pay attention to how good HIS team's pitchers and HIS team's hitters are. He even wants the entire city of Chicago to get behind them and watch HIM and HIS team celebrate at the end of the year. How selfish, it's all about him. Clearly.

But how can anyone expect a happy ending here when Guillen, last Friday night, tweeted this in Spanish about his bosses: "They touched me where it hurts most and I have to be ready for whatever comes as I always do."

Ozzie Guillen is a human. He is probably pretty upset his son wrote that on Twitter and is upset that he had to be let go by the team. It hurt him the White Sox wanted his son gone. This would be the case for nearly every parent in this situation. No one said it is rational to be rational in a situation like this.

What should come next is his pink slip. Who in his right mind addresses his bosses with thoughts of "killing'' them, whether he actually means it literally or not?

Umm...if I said I would kill for my family to someone, that doesn't mean I am actually threatening them. I know Jay Mariotti knows this, but he is pretending not to in the hopes Ozzie Guillen gets fired by the White Sox because of this column.

And just how many of these episodes should this franchise deal with -- honestly, I've lost count --

You can always count on Jay Mariotti for honesty.

before Reinsdorf and Williams decide to cut their losses, regain their dignity, realize Guillen has made the postseason only twice in his six seasons and replace him with a more grounded and mature manager who will purge the circus and run a professional operation?

He's only made the postseason twice in the last six years, winning a World Series once? Under this standard many managers over the history of baseball should have been fired somewhere along the way of their career.

After Ozzie tried to smooth over the situation by agreeing that his son would resign, you'd think he would have had a long talk with Oney about public decorum and respecting the people who sign his paycheck. Apparently, such a talk didn't happen or failed to sink in. For the next day, Oney told the Chicago Sun-Times, "They talk about family atmosphere and being up front, where was it? No one ever came and talked to me about it face-to-face. No one approached me like a man, after they supposedly preach that here.''

Jay Mariotti is pretending to know the entire situation, which he doesn't. Maybe Ozzie did try to talk to his son, but wasn't able to talk to him in time for the interview with the Chicago Sun-Times was published. Since it came out in the paper the day after the incident, the interview was obviously done the day of the incident when emotions were still high.

As someone who makes a living having to deliver harsh commentary at times,

Jay Mariotti considers himself to the be the faithful messenger to the masses. It is such a noble and holy cause for a person who pretty much has no integrity (from what I have seen) and is hated by most of his fellow employees and colleagues.

I am not scared to articulate thoughts about subjects that have included Reinsdorf, Williams and Guillen.

He is scared of Ozzie Guillen. When Guillen called him "gay" and Mariotti struck back, Guillen challenged Mariotti to come talk to him face-to-face...and that didn't happen. Mariotti delivered his harsh commentary and then hid from the world like he enjoys doing.

The difference is that I use my brain; Guillen and his son do not.

That's a lie. Jay Mariotti doesn't use his brain. His evil soul writes his columns for him. He thinks wicked thoughts and his wretched soul writes the columns we all read and dislike.

The minute Ozzie wrote that Sox management "touched me where it hurts most'' -- all because they won't let him have a personal Web page after agreeing to let him tweet and do all his other nonsense -- it should have been the final straw inside any clear-thinking, self-respecting organization.

Right. Shake up the entire White Sox team in Spring Training because of hurt feelings and a Web page...this makes perfect sense. Nothing says smart management like firing a successful manager over something his son did which wasn't illegal, unethical nor did it affect the team in any way.

But Reinsdorf, as vindictive a man as you'll see in sports,

Next to Jay Mariotti.

Never mind that Guillen, in the process, also has turned the Sox into a shameful and ridiculous franchise.

The White Sox are not a shameful or ridiculous franchise. The Royals and the Pirates, those are ridiculous and shameful franchises. The White Sox are a competitive baseball team that is run by a manager who, big mouth or not, has had some success managing.

Remember how Reinsdorf, as chairman of the Chicago Bulls in their six-title glory days, allowed a dynasty to disintegrate before its time amid wicked dissension?

Guess who sided with Krause? Yep, Reinsdrf, who let Jackson ride off on his Harley to four more championships in Los Angeles and Jordan fade away for a few years before signing with -- gulp -- the Washington Wizards for an ill-fated period as a player and executive. "Organizations win championships,'' Krause declared one night before the season started, which turned everyone off but Dennis Rodman, who was perpetually stoned anyway.

So because Jerry Reinsdorf helped contribute to the demise of a franchise over a decade ago, he should do the exact same thing now and fire Ozzie Guillen? Mariotti believes this even after knowing organizations don't win championships without hiring the right people also?

Maybe Mariotti doesn't know organizations also need to hire the right people.

And it is doomed to fail. As it was, Guillen and Williams had offseason disagreements about the direction of the club -- Ozzie wants more speed and fewer home runs in one of baseball's most power-friendly ballparks.

I am sure Ozzie Guillen is specifically asking Ken Williams for players who hit less home runs. I am 100% sure that is his exact request.

God forbid a manager and a general manager disagree over the direction of a baseball team. I bet that has never happened before.

"Kenny's my boss, he's always going to be and I respect that. I don't think [Yankees GM Brian] Cashman and [former Yankees manager] Joe Torre got along that well and they won six [bleeping] championships.''

How insulting to suggest that Cashman and Torre, two fine gentlemen, ever behaved like these children.

It is insulting, even though Joe Torre wrote a book detailing how he feels like Brian Cashman did not act like a gentleman when Torre's contract was to be discussed in the offseason of 2007. Let's ignore that and pretend the Yankees manager and general manager never had a disagreement on the direction of the baseball team.

If Jay Mariotti could read, he would know Torre hated many of the signings the Yankees made in the early 2000's. He also expressed his displeasure with these signings to Brian Cashman. I assume disagreements followed.

And how interesting that Guillen conveniently left out this little fact: Torre was forced out two years ago.

How interesting Mariotti calls them gentleman and then immediately refers to their major disagreement and eventual end of a working relationship with each other.

The Yankees, under Joe Girardi, won the World Series last year. The White Sox, under Guillen, won't win the World Series again.

Clearly, Jay Mariotti doesn't know this. He is just hoping this is true.

The Blizzard of Oz was a good story when the Sox were champions in 2005. But it's now 2010, and the statute of limitations on lunacy expired long ago.

For the sake of everyone involved, mostly Ozzie Guillen, please end this hideous sideshow at once.

Fire Ozzie Guillen! Why? Because he called Jay Mariotti "gay" one time...and that's pretty much the only reason we need. Seriously, if anyone likes Jay Mariotti's columns, I would love to hear from you. I won't attack you or anything, I just want to know why you like them...for my own interest. I have a bet going with myself that no one likes Jay Mariotti and this blog has at least 7 readers, so I thought maybe someone would like Mariotti.

I actually want Ozzie Guillen to get fired (or Mariotti get fired) so Jay Mariotti will quit writing columns about him. Or I could go for the steel cage death match between the two. Either way works for me.

I am doing my best to ignore Bill Simmons' column from last Friday. My will is weak though.

Monday, March 29, 2010

13 comments MMQB Review: It Turns Out the Draft (Thanks to Casey, It Was Actually the Combine That Isn't Overrated) Isn't Overrated Edition

Peter King doesn't insult Sean Taylor this week in his MMQB. That's the good news. The bad news is that he sort of previews the NFL Draft and we all can only imagine the comments he will have about each top prospect he has watched play a maximum 0-2 times. It's funny that when he talks about picking a quarterback this week he doesn't mention the QB bust rate like he did with safeties last week when he pissed on the grave of Sean Taylor. Funny isn't it? You would think a sportswriter who is concerned about bust rates of high picks in the draft would bring up the QB bust rate when talking about quarterbacks and how drafting one is a risky proposition. You would be wrong. Peter refuses to be consistent in this fashion.

Peter wants us to all know the draft starts today.

Today's the first day of the NFL Draft.

Cue the dramatic music...

The draft actually begins at 11 a.m. CT, in Norman, Okla.

Norman, Oklahoma? But there are no football fans in Oklahoma that care about the NFL. No fans in the world can be as obnoxious and entertaining as hearing Jets fans boo their pick. Tell me it isn't true, the NFL hasn't ripped away the NFL Draft from New York, the only rightful place of anything important, did it?

That's when rehabbing Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford takes the field to throw the 50-pass script that the NFL world -- particularly St. Louis, picking first in the April 22 first round, and Washington, picking fourth -- has been awaiting.

A 50-pass script. That should tell NFL scouts all they need to know about Bradford. Nothing says "an NFL-ready test" like a 50-pass script that highlights a player's strengths with no one rushing the quarterback.

We're at the point, knowing what we do about Bradford's recovery from Oct. 28 shoulder reconstruction, that being the first pick in the draft is Bradford's to lose. He'd have to screw up his 50 balls today, and then not be very good in private workouts with the Rams and Redskins, to not be the first player chosen in the 2010 draft.

We know from this information that Peter has picked Sam Bradford as the first pick in the draft, this will never occur. Someone else will be the first pick.

"I haven't had pain or discomfort since they turned me loose right after the combine,'' Bradford told me. "I can't believe how good it feels. There's no pain.''

He wouldn't lie for an additional $10-15 million in a signing bonus would he? Yes, he would.

"Now,'' I said, "you're going to get grilled on this Monday, and if you don't tell the whole truth, somebody's going to make a big deal of it. So be honest now.''

Peter with the hard-hitting question back. You have broken him now Peter, he'll fess up.

This was the most softball-ed "hard hitting" question I have heard in a while.

"Mary Beth, if you are lying about being drunk and smoking pot in the garage while doing coke off your boyfriend's ass, somebody in this house won't like it. So be honest now."

On Sunday night, I asked Andrews about Bradford's no-pain declaration, and whether that could be true less than five months after the reconstruction of the AC joint in his throwing shoulder. That wasn't a scope Bradford had. It was a full-fledged reconstruction.

"I've tried to get him to come clean with me too,'' he said. "But he's come through it great. He's full go. The last time I saw him and questioned him about it [nine days ago], he told me, 'I feel stronger in my throwing shoulder than I ever have in my life.'

Come on, you can read from that quote, some part of Dr. Andrews thinks or knows Bradford may have some pain. Notice Bradford never told Andrews he didn't have pain, he just said his shoulder felt stronger. Maybe I am being overly suspicious, but still, he never told him there was no pain.

So today Bradford will throw what he calls "a pretty aggressive script'' after getting loose and throwing 12 to 15 warmups.

Pretty aggressive other than no one will be rushing him nor will they be falling on his shoulder after hitting or sacking him. Also, the whole thing is scripted, which takes a little of the aggressiveness out of any Pro Day in my mind.

It's conceivable they could trade but only if they really like Notre Dame's Jimmy Clausen, and believe they could still get him with the fourth pick. But I'm hearing Bradford is the number one quarterback on their board, clearly. Barring a surprise today in Norman, Bradford will move much closer to being a Ram today.

Notice how Peter King has completely bought what Sam Bradford has told him. I am not saying what Bradford says isn't true, it is just that Peter is traditionally the type to just believe what someone tells him and it amuses me. Here, Peter just assumes Bradford will have a great Pro Day.

In the great Red River Flood of 1997, the biggest flood of the river since 1826, people from all around North Dakota rallied to sandbag towns to keep them on the map. One of those townies was the athletic director at Shanley High in Fargo, Trent Baalke, who, like many of his peers, just tried to do his small part to help save the town.

Baalke is embarking on something a thousand times as important but with a similar sense of immediacy now, with the announcement that the 49ers -- with the 13th and 17th picks in the first round -- have given the 12-year-veteran scout the final say in their draft room.

Holy shit. Peter King or as I call him, "The Man With Absolutely No Perspective On Anything," has just said drafting for the 49ers in the first round this year is "a thousand times as important" as preventing a town from flooding and being washed away. One thing is drafting for a sport that really doesn't matter, the other is saving a town from flooding. They are not comparable. I'd like to hear someone say something like this about those who helped in Hurricane Katrina.

Peter is ridiculous. One week he insults Sean Taylor for doing, another week he equates saving a town from flooding with picking the right players in the draft. He has this little world he lives in where travel annoyances are big deals and helping in natural disasters is equally as important as drafting well in the NFL Draft. He has no perspective.

Now Baalke, out of the clear sky, has been handed the keys to a Ferrari. The Niners are one of two teams (New England the other) with three picks in the top 50.

This is probably the first time in many years San Francisco has been referred to in any fashion as a "Ferrari."

"My job's really the same,'' he said. "Except I'm responsible for the final decision. We'll all team up to evaluate the players and stack the board, but my philosophy is pretty much the same as Scot's, and when Scot left, the board was 85 to 90 percent done.

Also, we have to look at this from the perspective that the NFL Draft is overrated. Isn't that what Peter reported a little over a month ago? For an overrated event, Peter sure is spending a lot of time talking about it.

Over the last couple of weeks, as I prepare to stick my size 14s into Dr. Z's size-55 shoes for the second time as SI's mock drafter, I've been asking NFL people about the pool of picks. Not necessarily where the players are going, but who the 32 lucky college prospects will be. I solidified over the weekend what I'm thinking (subject to change, of course), so here are the 32 players I think have the best chance to go in the first round in 24 days:

NFL teams are nothing if not completely open about which prospects they like the most in the NFL Draft, so we know this list is going to be dead-on.

Quarterbacks (3): Sam Bradford, Jimmy Clausen, Tim Tebow.

Whatever, I am talked out on this Tebow issue. Plus, I am afraid if I say anything negative about Tebow, Urban Meyer will get in my face.

Running back (2): C.J. Spiller, Ryan Matthews.

Matthews should go in the 1st round, but I bet he doesn't.

Wide receiver (2): Dez Bryant, DeMaryius Thomas.

We talked about Thomas a few weeks ago. I think it is a mistake to choose a poor route-runner and a guy who doesn't have much history running the route-tree in the 1st round.

Tackle (4): Ndamukong Suh, Gerald McCoy, Dan Williams, Jared Odrick.

That is a strong-ass position of tackles right here.

Most likely to fall out of the first round: T Bruce Campbell.

There is no way Campbell falls out of the 1st round. The Raiders are destined to pick either him, Eric Berry, or Derrick Morgan.

Most likely to be in the first round among those I didn't choose: S Earl Thomas.

What happened to Thomas? I thought he was going to be a 1st round pick? I think he deserves to be one.

Roger Goodell said last week that in an effort to have fewer mail-it-in games at the end of the year, the NFL is likely to implement The Colts Plan (my words, not the league's) by scheduling only division rivalry games for Week 17.

What a shock that Peter would call it the Colts Plan. I am surprised he didn't call the push to change overtime, the "Let's Not Allow Peyton Manning To Get Knocked Out of the Playoffs Too Early" Plan.

In 2007, Indianapolis played AFC South rival Tennessee, fighting for a playoff spot against Cleveland, in the last week of the season. Indy had its spot clinched. The Colts pulled the plug on full effort by the starters, Tennessee won, and Cleveland simmered at Indy's cavalier attitude in a game of playoff significance. Last year, the Colts had two non-division games at the end of the season, with nothing to play for. Indy again played the starters sparingly, and lost.

This is a good point by Peter. Let's not try and mess with the scheduling too much. Regardless if they are division games or not, the Colts are not going to play their starters if they don't have to. This effort to make things more exciting isn't going to work sometimes, so it may not even be worth trying. Perhaps there should be realignment to give the Colts a better rival in their division?

That was a MLB-realignment joke. I am not serious.

Maybe not. I agree with Tomlin -- I think Sharper's going to play football this year. When I've talked to him before, he's struck me as being a lot like Brett Favre. He's going to play 'til he can't play any more.

Brett Favre reference! Keep the streak going Peter...keep it going. If Sharper was a lot like Brett Favre he would drop a sure-interception or fumble a interception that helped to lose his team the the NFC Championship Game both times. Just thought I would add that.

Sometimes you hit a home run in this business. Last Sept. 20 in the Boston Globe, Chris Gasper hit one long gone and hard to find in his NFL notes column. Here's what he wrote, proposing a new end to the overtime in NFL games:

By the way, this "home run" was Chris Gasper getting the story right. This is something that Peter King must think is a home run, when a journalist actually predicts a story correctly. It is not something Peter is familiar with personally.

Kudos to Chris Gasper but there have been so many overtime proposals of the last couple of years, one of them had to end up being right. Peter reads the Boston Globe everyday, or at least seems to, so I am sure there are others who got this story right a few months ago also, but Peter just didn't read what they wrote.

"I hate it.''

-- New Orleans coach Sean Payton, on the new overtime rule.

"I can see the press conference now,'' Payton told me on Sirius NFL Radio the other day. " 'Coach, did you consider going for the touchdown rather than kicking the field goal?' I can write the questions right now.''

So what? Who gives a shit if this is the questions the coach is asked? You are telling me the maverick who went for an onside kick in the Super Bowl is afraid to take questions about his game strategy? It's what you get paid for. Deal with it as no different from any other decision about the game that may get questioned. If you don't want to get questioned by the media, don't be an NFL head coach.

That's life in the big leagues. The one thing I've heard in the last few days, from fans mostly, is that coaches who make $4 million a year won't get much sympathy over the burden of having to make a big call with the game on the line.

Good for Peter. Fans don't have a stomach for an NFL head coach who is afraid to make decisions with the game on the line.

"I had no idea who Charlie Whitehurst was until there was talk about him. I'd never heard of the guy. I have some friends on the San Diego staff, and they're feeling pretty darn good about the deal."

-- Fired Seattle coach Jim Mora, on ESPN Radio in Seattle, asked about the new Seattle quarterback, acquired from San Diego for a third-round pick in 2011 and a swap of seconds this year. That swap moved San Diego from 60 to 40 in the second round.

This says more about Jim Mora as an NFL head coach than it says about the trade to me. He's bitter at being fired, but he was also the head coach for the Atlanta Falcons when Charlie Whitehurst played quarterback at Clemson. If he didn't know the name of the quarterback that played just a hundred (or so) miles up the road at Clemson when he was scouting players for the NFL Draft then that tells me a lot about him. Whitehurst even played high school football in Georgia before going to Clemson. He should know the name.

Carroll faced the music on the deal at the league meetings. "It's really simple,'' he said, asked about dealing so much for a guy who hasn't thrown a pass in four NFL seasons with San Diego. "There are a lot of throws that Charlie had a chance to do over the last few years in the preseason. You can say what you want about preseason being the real deal. When you drop back and you throw comebacks, and you drop back and you throw in-routes and there are guys rushing you, you drop back and you got to move in the pocket and find a second and third receiver. That is definitely on the film clearly.

I am not a big fan of judging a quarterback on the preseason either, but how is it any different from judging Whitehurst on the preseason throws he made against actual competition compared to drafting Sam Bradford #1 overall based on his college game film and how he did on a Pro Day against no defenders? As the backup in the preseason you are essentially throwing against the other team's backups, which are on par with a great college football team. I don't see a massive difference personally.

Now Peter talks baseball. Everyone run for cover.

Thursday: Braves-Pirates in Bradenton. In my early days as a backup Reds writer in Cincinnati, I remember a man who seemed like an old war horse then, the fungo-hitting Bobby Dews. And there he was again, 71 now, a little stooped over and as bow-legged as Walter Brennan, smiling and hitting grounders to third and short in between BP pitches. Rookie phenom Jason Heyward's fun to watch swing. The ball has a Bonds-like thwack coming off the bat.

I want everyone to quit talking about Jason Heyward. I am afraid everyone is going to jinx this, not to mention I don't want blanket coverage of Heyward to make me resent having to hear about him. He is still a rookie and I think I am going to get tired of the hype soon. I still love the guy of course, but let's allow him to play games before we compare him to Bonds, Dave Parker, etc.

Friday: Rays-Jays in Dunedin. Great vendor out in right field at the Toronto camp. "Canadian beer in an American can made in China!'' he hawked. These Rays scare this Red Sox follower. Evan Longoria hit a Frank Howard home run to left, a mile high. Cute little old-time ballpark with ospreys nesting in the left-field light tower and some very good Land Shark Lager nesting behind the first-base stands.

You mean the team that won the AL East two years ago scares Peter? You wouldn't think that could be possible because aren't the Yankees and Red Sox contractually bound to win that division every year?

Couldn't believe how the ball jumped off the bat of catcher Ronnie Paulino during BP. "The Babe,'' Parcells called him.

Ronnie Paulino? The same Ronnie Paulino that is 28 years old and has 27 career home runs? I bet the ball just jumps off his bat. A career +OPS of 88 says this is so.

"Does Tebow sponsor your page?''

-- @lizmatthews12, Liz Matthews of Seattle, apparently perturbed by the amount of attention I am paying to Tim Tebow in pre-draft coverage. Liz, you are not alone in that thought.

Brett Favre is offended by this statement. I bet he immediately called Peter upon reading this wanting to make sure he was still Peter's #1 guy.

No on the sponsorship, but from what I hear, he'll be able to afford to when his new contract with a very big sports equipment and apparel manufacturer is announced very soon.

I like how Peter doesn't attempt to dissuade anyone that Tebow sponsors his MMQB and then immediately breaks a story that Tebow will sign a deal with an apparel manufacturer. So in answer to you question Liz, Peter does all of the PR and hyping up of Tebow all for free. Tebow doesn't sponsor the page, Peter will just use MMQB to give Tim Tebow more publicity and announce any type of Tebow-breaking news.

1. I think the thing about a Super Bowl in New Jersey in February 2014 -- which seems more and more likely with the vote due as early as May --is that too few people are thinking about the precedent it sets for future games in outdoor, cold-weather venues.

Why is everyone so against outdoor Super Bowls? Wouldn't a couple of Super Bowls played in the snow or rain be fun? Ok, maybe only one of those would be fun, but I still don't get why everyone is completely against this idea.

2. I think unless the networks stamp their feet quite a bit, the new overtime reform will pass for the regular season when NFL owners meet in Dallas in May. I'm told by two major players who were in the room for the vote last Tuesday that if Goodell had pressed for the rule to be instituted for the regular season he could have gotten at least 24 votes for it.

"But it wasn't the right thing to do,'' one of my sources said. "You don't push that through without talking to your network partners seriously about it beforehand.'' It's true the games could be a few plays longer, but I doubt FOX and CBS (with early games that could be butting up against late-Sunday-afternoon games) will draw lines in the sand on this issue.

I don't get why the NFL passed the overtime rule ONLY for the playoffs. Why have two separate rules for overtime in the playoffs and the regular season? This is incredibly stupid to me. FOX and CBS wouldn't mind, it's not like CBS wouldn't rather have an exciting overtime football game showing as opposed to re-runs of their sitcoms at 4:30 pm on Sunday and the same goes for FOX. I can't believe FOX would rather have a re-run of "House" going rather than an NFL game in overtime.

4. I think the more I hear about Ben Roethlisberger and the immense distraction of the sexual-assault charge (Adam Schefter reports he will stay away from the Steeler offseason program, which begins for vets today in Pittsburgh, to avoid the circus it would create), the more I think the Steelers have to plan for life without Roethlisberger this year, just in case. And I don't mean just Charlie Batch and Dennis Dixon.

So after seeing Dixon's potential last year and re-signing Charlie Batch, the Steelers should draft another quarterback in case Roethlisberger doesn't come back? It's not like this guy who is drafted will be able to play well this year and they certainly aren't going to draft a Clausen or Bradford type guy with Roethlisberger on the roster. This suggestion is almost as bad as the Donovan McNabb-to-the-Steelers idea from Peter's mailbag.

I mean, if they're not truly committed to Dixon in the event he has to play the season, they have to draft a solid insurance policy -- maybe someone like NCAA touchdown record-setter Dan LeFevour -- to get ready just in case.

Right, because drafting a guy like LeFevour would immediately take care of the problem at quarterback for this year...assuming Roethlisberger is convicted or anything like that. I don't think LeFevour is going to be ready to just step in and play, so he may not help the Steelers that much this year. Say Roethlisberger misses two years of football (I am just guessing here), after the 2nd year LeFevour or Dixon would be entrenched in that spot. Would Roethlisberger be done with the Steelers at that point? Would it be like a Mike Vick situation then?

Basically, I am saying by drafting a quarterback to start this/next year over Dixon/Batch would be assuming the worst possible case, which is jail time for Roethlisberger. I think we are getting a little ahead of ourselves at this point. I personally wouldn't draft another quarterback because that person can't help the Steelers this year anyway.

6. I think I cannot see Gene Smith, the Jacksonville GM, taking Tim Tebow. First round, second round, any round.

This pretty much guarantees Gene Smith and Jacksonville will take Tim Tebow at some point in the draft.

8. I think Joey Porter and Milton Bradley might have been separated at birth.

Apparently Peter thinks all angry black men look alike. I would normally put a Boston/racist/only love white people comment in here...but I think it is understood that Peter King thinks any minority who is "angry" is exactly like any other minority who is "angry" and that is the joke itself.

9. I think I'd sign Pacman if I were you, Jim Schwartz. You need a cover guy, and if he screws up one time, he's back on the street. It's no big risk as I see it.

Because there is no problem with locker room dynamics and if Pacman plays really well for 6 games and then screws up, is he really going to get thrown out on the street? I don't think so. Then the Lions have a problem with a player who is disruptive but plays well. I say avoid the whole situation entirely and don't sign him.

e. One fun thing about driving across central Florida is stopping at an orange grove, getting out of the car, and just smelling the air. Citrusy. Outstanding.

One fun thing about driving across New Jersey is stopping at a rest stop and smelling the air. It smells like piss and garbage. Stupendous.

f. Coffeenerdness: Had a pleasant evening writing in the Starbucks in Port St. Lucie Sunday night. That is, until I saw the dead rat in the parking lot.

Is Peter shocked there are dead animals in the world? What's the problem with a dead rat outside of a Starbucks? It's not a great sign, but at least there wasn't a rat inside the Starbucks. Unfortunately animals die and don't have complete control over where they die. I am surprised this wasn't his "Aggravating Travel Note" for this week.

Why do things like this only happen to Peter? No one else has to deal with dead animals outside. His life is so hard.