Sunday, May 30, 2010

0 comments It Feels Like Mark Bradley Is Baiting Me Here

I wanted to start off the post reminding everyone if you wanted to help Respect Jeters Gangster give donations to the Childrens Health Fund, then just follow the link and donate. You will be entered into a raffle for tickets to an August 7th game between the Red Sox and Yankees by making a donation. Just make sure you let it be known that you were directed to the website by RJG. That way you are entered in the raffle. It's a good cause, so give if you can.

Mark Bradley is one of my favorite sportswriters. He is a writer for the AJC and writes about sports (obviously) for the paper. I happened to notice he had something not-nice to say about my favorite NFL team that I disagreed with and it can be tied into Peter King's MMQB for last week when Peter ranked all of the NFL teams. I will also cover Peter's mailbag for this week, but first I will let Mark Bradley have his say about the Falcons spot in Peter's arbitrary rankings.

Mark Bradley is one of the few writers I follow in Twitter and has been seen on this blog a couple of times, but usually in a positive manner than usually seen for a sportswriter. He is also (full disclosure) the only major sportswriter to have linked this blog on his blog at the AJC, which I am eternally grateful to him for doing. It may sound hypocritical for a blogger who criticizes the sportswriting media to be happy he got linked on a sportswriter's site, but it is a sportswriter I enjoy reading so it was exciting to see he had this blog linked. Obviously this doesn't mean he is excluded from having his work seen here, but the fact he doesn't like Brett Favre too much doesn't hurt him in my eyes.

Anyway, time to disagree with him a bit (and also turn into a homer) and then on to Peter King's Tuesday mailbag briefly.

In his newest power rankings, Mr. King ranks the Falcons 16th in a 32-team league, which would be the utter definition of mediocrity. He also sees the Falcons as the third-best team in the four-team NFC South, behind both New Orleans (No. 5) and Carolina (No. 8).

(Loses all ability to be humble) Since I did predict the entire finishing order of the NFC South correctly last year, I feel like I can do so this year as well...just not right now. I am not a crazy person like Peter King and think I can do a power poll almost 4 months in advance. I see Atlanta and Carolina pretty closely matched and I see New Orleans taking a bit of a dive this year.

That’s correct. He has the Panthers, who historically are the NFL most’s overrated bunch, eight spots ahead of the Falcons.

There is the comment. I think he is referring to the Panthers being predicted by Sports Illustrated to make or win the Super Bowl twice in the 2000's when this did not occur. This makes them overrated I guess. I disagree, I think the Panthers have been properly rated. Other than the two instances in Sports Illustrated I can't think of too many times when great things were predicted for the Panthers. They haven't even been in existence as a franchise long enough to be overrated.

Mr. King believes dumping Jake Delhomme and will propel Carolina onward and upward, which it might. But still: A team with an unproven quarterback (Matt Moore)

Moore has a career record of 6-2 as a starter. The Panthers were 4-7 under Jake Delhomme and 4-1 under Matt Moore last year. Moore also played during a period when both starting offensive tackles were on IR. He had less to work with by the end of the year then Delhomme did at the beginning of the year. Last year, and most likely this year, they would be a better team with Moore over Jake Delhomme. Hell, they'd be a better team with anyone over Delhomme, but Moore was the guy who got the job and did the job fairly well.

and a potential lame duck of a head coach (John Fox) is going to jump above the Falcons, who with all their injuries still finished a game ahead of the Panthers in 2009?

I am not going to defend Peter King's rankings or say the Panthers are going to be better than the Falcons this year, but the Panthers had their share of injuries as well. They had both offensive tackles miss a good portion of the year, they lost their second-best linebacker for the year (Thomas Davis), lost their fullback (which is important for a team that runs the ball a lot) for a few games, and had nearly every single defensive tackle on the roster at beginning of the year (and a few they signed to replace those guys) end up on IR as well. So they had their share of injuries. As bad as the Falcons had injuries on defense? Definitely not, but it isn't as far off as one would think.

(Oh, yes. One thing more. Julius Peppers no longer plays for Carolina.)

Which means there will be two defensive ends on the team who play the ENTIRE 16 game schedule this year. Not one DE who plays 8-10 games while the other DE plays all 16 games.

The point here isn’t to argue with the esteemed PK but to note his reasons for not loving the Falcons. Quoth Mr. King:

The Falcons are healthier, and better. I just think there are two teams in the division better right now — unless Matt Ryan has a Drew Brees-type year. I don’t think he has one of those in him … yet. Not many quarterbacks do.

Peter's reasoning probably sucks, but I still don't see how this definitively says the Falcons are going to be 1st/2nd in the division even if Peter is wrong.

And I can’t understand how Carolina minus Peppers is a more enticing team than the Falcons plus Robinson.

Really, the argument Mark Bradley has should be with the Saints ranking, not with where the Panthers are in Peter's rankings. The Saints are due for a fall this year in my mind and I think they are overranked. I know they won the Super Bowl, but I still have questions about how they will fare this upcoming year. The defense still doesn't impress me...of course they did seem to do fine last year.

Though don't know for absolute sure how Carolina is more enticing to Peter King than the Falcons either, I don't think it has to do with Julius Peppers' absence. The Panthers actually weren't a terrible team last year (outside of the quarterback position), so I think they could be better than the Falcons this year. Of course, the Panthers cut or traded nearly every veteran on the team this offseason. They cut Nai'l Diggs, Damione Lewis, Chris Harris, Maake Kemoeatu, and Brad Hoover. If you were over 28 years old (and weren't Steve Smith or John Kasay), they cut you. The absence of Peppers isn't the Panther's problem, it is the youth of the team. Except on the offensive line, they are a fairly young team. That's somewhat of a drawback to choosing them as the NFC South winner.

Still, I think a case could be made the Panthers underachieved last year and could be the best team in the NFC South with a good quarterback.

But reasonable folks can, I submit, disagree reasonably. And I guess that’s what I’m doing here. Because I think the 2010 Falcons will be really, really good. Division-winning good.

Maybe they can be division-winning good, but I don't see them as a surer shot than the Panthers at this point simply because the Panthers don't have Julius Peppers and start a quarterback (whoever it is) that isn't Jake Delhomme.

Also, John Fox is coaching for a contract. He is a Top 10 coach anyway, so he will try to do a great job with the Carolina team this year. I don't think Atlanta is clearly that much better than Carolina at this point.

On to some of the choice parts of Peter's mailbag for this week.

There's not a lot of clarity in the wake of the American Needle decision by the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday.

It's good to see the Supreme Court came to the rational decision that the NFL is 32 independent teams and not one business. Each team in the NFL isn't a division of the NFL, but a separate entity that is independently held and independently run and operated. I don't know how any court could see this isn't true.

Except for one thing: I don't see it pushing the two sides to the bargaining table to quicken the process toward a labor deal when the current one runs out following the 2011 NFL Draft.

Of course not. Why start to work towards a labor deal now and spare the public 10 more months of posturing by either side until they eventually come to the same deal they would have struck in July 2010, but didn't want to be seen as "giving in" at that point in time?

I have always been fascinated by how each side in a lockout seems to think the longer they hold out, the more it looks like they are driving a harder bargain rather than just being stubborn. A deal is going to get done, but if either side helps to get it done too quickly it will look like they gave in too quickly as well. This happens a lot in Congress as well, which is why there is so much gridlock there.

Though the 9-0 decision could pave the way for the players to eventually decertify and attack the bargaining process in a different way (such a decertification would mean the players could claim not to be a union,

On this issue, I can understand the reasoning of both sides of the argument. I could see how the players could claim to not be a union. General Motors (or what is left of it) doesn't form a union with Toyota just because they both sell cars, so each team in the NFL could claim to be their own business and say they can't unionize together. In essence the Supreme Court said each team is their own business playing under the heading of the NFL though, so I could also see how each team in the NFL could unionize since they are playing under the heading of the NFL. I see it both ways.

Regardless, not shockingly this won't do anything positive for the lockout that will happen next year.

and that has tended to force both sides to the bargaining table in the past) there's little evidence the league will move aggressively to make concessions to try to forge any real progress in the stalled talks.

Can talks be stalled if there haven't been very serious talks in the first place?

I've said this for the past year, and I'm sure I'll say it for the next nine months: These labor deals always come together (or not) at the 11th hour, and I don't expect real progress 'til next spring at the earliest.

Because what's the fun in agreeing with each other and passing up the chance to not enjoy the 2010 season since there is a looming lockout that puts the 2011 season in jeopardy? It's more fun for the Player's union and the NFL to cause the fans of the NFL to believe the league will shut down for 2011. Watching fans of the NFL get depressed over the potential of not having a 2011 season seems to be something the union and NFL get off on...or more likely don't care about.

Onto Peter's email...

From Eric Moore of Anchorage: "Follow me for a sec:

This is good, I promise, let's follow Eric on this.

Roger Clemens: Sure-fire Hall of Famer, kept retiring, waffling and coming back late at the end of his career. Surprisingly productive seasons after he seemingly had lost a step. Turned out, at least to my way of thinking, he was avoiding the MLB drug testing program by being retired in the offseason.

Off the bat, it is pretty clear Eric is just shooting in the dark here because I am pretty sure Clemens never filed retirement papers, which makes him subject to MLB drug tests. I don't think he could have avoided them, but someone correct me if I am wrong. Still, we all know Clemens used PEDs in some form, even though he denies it.

Brett Favre:

Yes...yes...keep going Eric.

Sure-fire Hall of Famer, kept retiring, waffling and coming back late at the end of his career. Surprisingly productive seasons after he seemingly had lost a step. ...

If there is one way to get on Peter's bad side, it is to talk negatively about Brett Favre. If there is a way to get on Peter's bad side and get a public scolding, it is to accuse Favre in any way of cheating. Sure, his great season last year really doesn't make a whole hell of a lot of sense considering how old he is, especially considering I am not sure how much "working out" he was doing in Mississippi over the summer. Does throwing a football to high school kids count as "working out?"

I don't believe Favre would use PEDs. We can all justify Favre's year by saying he just keeps himself in really good physical shape just like those older baseball players who hit the ball well later in their career like Barry Bonds...wait, nevermind. It is not like Favre has a history of using drugs either. Wait, ignore, let's allow Eric to dig himself a bigger hole with Peter.

I know you can't just throw out accusations against players with no evidence, but I just think a lot of fans are frustrated and fed up with the total shock displayed by talking heads when news comes out about an athlete's positive test or association with a tainted doctor. We've already been talking amongst ourselves about this stuff, so it just gets so tiresome when professionals act like they can't believe it.

Peter is shocked that Eric is angry that Peter gets shocked when an athlete tests positive for a PED. He is shocked and angered. He doesn't know these athletes like Peter does and if he did then he would know how shocking these revelations can be.

Maybe we turned a corner with the Brian Cushing thing, or maybe he was just a rookie and easy to shove under a bus.''

He was a rookie and easy to shove under the bus. There is no way the writers would take an MVP award away from a quarterback like Tom Brady, Drew Brees, or Peyton Manning if it was found out their entire receiving corp used PEDs and I don't believe the AP would take away an MVP from certain other players in the league. Brian Cushing was a rookie and he hasn't done enough interviews and kissed enough ass to be beloved quite yet.

Let's just say Eric is going to get publicly scolded by Peter now.

PK: You're talking about two different subjects here, I think. Yes, I think it's naive to be shocked every time a guilty PED guy surfaces, and now I'm surprised at nothing.

Bullshit. Peter is trying to tell us he wouldn't be shocked to find out Peyton Manning used a PED in some form to recover quicker from his injury two years ago? The entire Colts season was riding on whether he could recover in time. That's his motive for doing whatever he could to get on the field. If it was found out Manning used something to get back on the field quicker, there is no way Peter wouldn't act surprised. He would be absolutely shocked, so I don't believe him when he says he isn't surprised anymore at PED revelations.

Do I think Brett Favre used PEDs during his career? No, I don't. I am naive to think that I am wrong? No, I am not. Favre had a pretty good last year and I believe he is egotistical enough to believe that using any type of PED was for the purpose of helping him and helping his team and this is how he would justify it. Honestly, after the Steroid Era of baseball we pretty much have to suspect any older player that puts up incredible numbers in every sport of possibly using some sort of PED. It just has to happen that way since the public has been burned a few times in regards to MLB players using PEDs to extend their career.

But Favre? If you're suspicious about him trying to avoid drug-testing, the fact is until a player files retirement papers, he is subject to all the testing rules of football.

This is very true. He can get drug-tested at any point, so that is Favre's defense for any accusations.

If he is in the NFL's drug-testing programs and is called to give a sample in the offseason, he has to comply. (I doubt he's in the program, by the way, but any player who is in the program is subject to being tested year-round.)

This part about "I doubt he's in the program, by the way..." goes back to Eric's point that sportswriters, and specifically Peter King, would still be surprised if something about Brett Favre came out. Peter says he isn't shocked by any NFL player revealed to have used PEDs, but if he wouldn't be shocked Favre was in the NFL's drug program, but it doesn't seem that way. Peter is fibbing a bit when he says he is no longer surprised about anything.

Modern athletes are unfortunately suspected if they perform well at an older age, because there has been reason to suspect these athletes in the past based on baseball's Steroid Era.
It's a stigma Olympians face and nearly every athlete that excels at his sport has to face, except in the NFL for some reason. It may due to the public just assuming NFL players throw all sorts of crap in their body in order to play well.

I am sure Peter did three Hail Marys after even discussing Brett Favre in relation to PEDs.

From Rob Martin of Houston: "Regarding Marc Bulger, if not the Cardinals, then where do you think he would best fit?''

The CFL. That's an easy question to answer.

From Brad Bourbina of Pittsburg, Kan.: "What are the players' thoughts on the Super Bowl being played in New Jersey? I've heard a lot of opinions from analysts, radio talkers and former players, but what do the Mannings and Favres (ok, maybe not him) think? I always got the impression the players and coaches saw Super Bowl week as something of a "reward" for getting this far and treated it like a vacation (preparation for the biggest game of the year aside).''

PK: I don't think players will be pleased. I haven't spoken to any of them about it, but usually players want to do things in warm climes -- golf, the beach -- in their free time. Now, some of them will be excited, I'm sure, to go clubbing in Manhattan on Monday night and Tuesday night,

My favorite part about having the Super Bowl in New York (actually New Jersey) for 2014, which I actually don't mind, is that now every major city in the North is going to want the Super Bowl. Dan Snyder already thinks Washington deserves one and I am sure cities in states like Pennsylvania and Massachusetts aren't far behind. The NFL may have opened a can of worms here they will end up regretting at some point. Every major city that doesn't traditionally get the Super Bowl is going to want one, from California to Washington D.C. Why shouldn't Washington get the Super Bowl if there are no problems with playing the game outdoors in New York?

Saturday, May 29, 2010

3 comments Respect Jeters Gangster Is For The Kids

Hey guys, sorry I've been away for so long. Anyways, I decided to do this post as a favor to the friends of the blog Respect Jeters Gangster. Basically, if you give donations to the Childrens Health Fund, you will be entered into a raffle for tickets to an August 7th game between the Red Sox and Yankees. Even without the raffle, its a really great cause and I plan on donating, and I hope we can get some of you to donate as well. So to sum up: 1. Check out their blog, as its really funny and informative. 2. Donate, because its for the Children. 3. Check out this video, because, heck, its pretty funny and I'm sure you will enjoy it. Happy Saturday, everyone!

P.S. Make sure you let it be known that you were directed to the website by RJG. That way you are entered in the raffle.

Friday, May 28, 2010

2 comments LeBron-Mania: It's Only the Beginning

The first person to submit an entry in the LeBron-mania columns that will inevitably be featured on this blog (not too many, I promise, just the really bad ones) is Tim Keown. I'm not sure if you have heard, but LeBron James is a free agent and he is going to sign with ChicagoNewYorkNewJerseyClevelandDallas and be coached by JohnCalipariCoachKPhilJackson. He is bringing along fellow free agents JoeJohnsonDwayneWadeChrisBosh. Clearly, you can see there is no plan put in place already on exactly how LeBron's free agency will go. This means ESPN is among the many major sports outlets willing to speculate, but probably one of the few willing to dedicate an entire site to James' free agency. In that picture, you can see the number on James in a Bulls jersey is brighter than the picture of him in a Knicks jersey, which obviously means he is going to sign with the Bulls.

Tim Keown thinks the LeBron James saga is more exciting than the NBA playoffs. I don't know whether to rip him a new one for contributing to the James free agency hype or suggesting the hype is more interesting than actual games of NBA basketball. So I will do both.

There is a 10% chance this article is tongue-in-cheek, but I doubt it. Tim Keown doesn't look like he does comedy or irony well.

The Cleveland Cavaliers haven't finished a week of their offseason and we've already advanced to the package deal/conspiracy level of speculation in the LeBron James free-agency saga.

I like how Tim acts like he has no choice to write an article about LeBron. It is completely out of his hands, this is where we've already advanced. Don't blame him people for what he writes, it is the momentum of the LeBron speculation train that is the real problem.

The Bulls might end up getting John Calipari, which would get them LeBron,

Why wouldn't LeBron want to be coached by a failed NBA coach? Was Lon Kruger not available for an interview? Is Mike Montgomery too busy building the University of California basketball program? John Calipari is a great college basketball recruiter/coach, but he has already failed in the NBA once. I don't see why he should get another shot at it.

Or the Calipari-James connection could be complete fiction, which is what we've been told from the authoritative source of Calipari's Twitter account.

Calipari probably turned down the job after realizing he doesn't personally get to pay the players and his merely average game tactics and game management skills would be exposed in the NBA.

This article is exactly one of the few reasons why an NBA team should not try and hire John Calipari as their head coach.

When it starts out with something as juicy as Calipari drafting in LeBron's wake to take the Bulls' job after only one year at Kentucky, where could it possibly go from here?

Straight to "Annoying Story on ESPN Every Night" Land with a detour through the "I Don't Give A Shit Until He Chooses a Team" tunnel.

Or, to put it another way, if it got this good this fast, we can't wait for what's coming.

Oh no, I can wait. I don't want to hear anything about until we know exactly where LeBron James will land, though I know this is completely unrealistic. Every sportswriter wants to be the first to break the story of where LeBron is going or be the first to have his speculation end up being correct. That means we get tons of speculation with no end in sight. Oh joy!

I'd like to rain on the parade for a minute. It does matter where LeBron goes in free agency, don't get me wrong on that. He is a great player and whichever team he chooses will either go from a playoff contender to a NBA title contender or may go from a good team to a playoff contender. The problem I see is that much like Michael Jordan and nearly every other superstar in the history of the NBA, he can't do it all himself. If he leaves Cleveland for certain other teams he may run into the same problem he had in Cleveland, where his teammates aren't good enough around him. Shaq had Kobe and Wade, Kobe had Gasol, Michael Jordan had Scottie Pippen, and Bird had McHale. LeBron is going to need a running mate that can score and make an impact on the game in his own right, but doesn't mind not being the top guy.

I think it is a bad idea for James to team up with a guy like Wade because that doesn't seem to make much sense to me since both guys are going to want the ball in crunch time. I think if he did team up with a guy like Bosh or Joe Johnson, this may work out well for the team that gets both players. Absent having another player on the team who is an potential All-Star or very, very close to that level, James is going to run into the same problem he ran into in Cleveland in that he won't have much help around him.

I have heard rumors of a sign-and-trade and I think this probably more likely than James just signing with another team and it will allow him to possibly to go to a team that has cap room and is ready to compete now. That's just my opinion, but what I think is missing in this LeBron-mania is the fact he can't raise a team like the Knicks to a championship level by himself. He couldn't do it in Cleveland and I don't know if he can do it anywhere else. Sign-and-trade may be the best option.

It's the perfect combination of time, place and circumstance -- LeBron's free agency has been a story for two whole years now, so we'd probably feel a little bit cheated if the final buildup didn't include wild speculation and a surprising cast of characters.

I wouldn't feel cheated at all actually. The buildup for two years has caused me to want the speculation to end and the talk about the NBA playoffs to heat up. I have also thought about clawing my eyeballs out a few times over the past couple of weeks. There are other free agents that could join a team and allow that team to become an NBA title contender immediately. They aren't getting nearly as much press. What if the Nets signed Dwyane Wade and drafted Derrick Favors? That's not a bad team at all, even if it takes Favors a 1-2 years to develop. What if Dirk opts out and then is signed by Miami to entice Wade to stay? Is that team a contender in the Eastern Conference with some other minor moves? I think so.

And this is good. Now that the Cavs' collapse is over, we want more Worldwide Weses and more colorful tales of the guys in the inner circle -- the "family," as LeBron describes them.

No, no, no. I want less of these people. I would bet 90% of America feels the same way I do.

The title of this article by Tim Keown was:

Pick one: LeBron James or NBA playoffs

Free-agency saga has more drama, human interest than postseason games so far

(I put the title in bold and large letters just for the did not work of drama, but I don't care)

Yet, there is only three paragraphs in this entire column that mentions the NBA playoffs. Tim Keown is just trying a covert way to write a "Where is LeBron James going in free agency" article. Tim Keown and his angry scowl can't fool me.

It would be fantastic if we could toss a famous rapper and a Russian billionaire into the mix --

Gosh, that would be nice. If only...

and hey, here come the Nets with Jay-Z and Mikhail Prokhorov.

Oh shit, you got me! I completely fell for that one. That was some Peter King-esque, "I don't like the pick by the Steelers...I love it" tomfoolery there.

(Two years in Newark, though? Unlikely place for a guy who calls himself "King.")

As opposed to 5-7 years in New York where he can be a king without a decent supporting cast or feel like he is starting over like when he joined the Cavaliers out of high school? Of course that may be the case in New Jersey too.

Plus, there's the looming specter of Cleveland to remain in the running. There's the distinct possibility that owner Dan Gilbert will do whatever it takes -- fire Mike Brown, sign Bosh, hire Worldwide Wes as GM -- to keep LeBron.

Well, Brown was fired, but I think the biggest thing the Cavs need to do is make sure if Bosh doesn't come to Cleveland, they get another player who can help carry the load with LeBron. Preferably the Cavs won't try to find a player that clogs up the lane when he is on the floor and makes it hard for LeBron to get to the basket (like Shaq did). That always helps. Antawn Jamison is much more of a #3 scoring threat on a championship team, than a #2 threat on a championship team. There has to be some more help for LeBron or it won't matter who is coaching the Cavs.

What do we bet there won't be a coach hired in Cleveland until the Cavs find out if LeBron is staying or going somewhere else in free agency? I would bet $100.

The stupidest rumor I have heard is Coach K going to Cleveland to coach LeBron. Why would a college coach in his early 60's leave his current job at a top college, when he is still recruiting well, to go coach overpaid millionaires in the NBA, where most college coaches fail anyway? This doesn't make sense for him to do.

After all, if James is truly chasing a title, he's closer to one in Cleveland than any of the other most popular suitors.

Disagreed. What about a sign-and-trade idea? If James goes for a sign-and-trade then Cleveland may not actually be closer to an NBA title than any other team in the running for James' services.

The LeBronfest is the culmination of a sports world that has become obsessed with prognostication, rumor and anticipation.

Or as I call it ESPN.

And here's another thing: It couldn't come at a better time. Sure, LeBronmania is destined to become even more rabid and overblown -- hey, we'll do our best --

Mission accomplished. I want LeBron to pick a team now so ESPN can go directly into the coverage of what surgery Brett Favre is wavering about having this week or start covering the World Cup more than they ever have before (since they are televising it and are covering the World Cup so intently for no other reason other than they aren't a sports network anymore, but instead a corporate conglomerate that is concerned about promoting it's own products whenever possible). I want LeBron to choose so ESPN can over-cover another sporting event. I need the LeBron-mania to be over...and yet I know it is just beginning.

but it beats this season's playoffs.

Only a person who writes about sports for a living could actually think rumors and speculation about where LeBron James will go is more exciting than actually watching NBA playoff basketball.

Whether it's the pace -- game, two days off, game, three days off, game -- or the matchups, this season's games make us pine for the days of the tape-delayed 11:30 p.m. Friday night telecasts, when it seemed like Calvin Murphy was always at the free throw line and Dick Stockton was at the mike.

I will agree with his point about the pace. The pace does go off-kilter for me at times. Other than that, these playoffs haven't been the most thrilling, but they are the NBA playoffs and real fans of the NBA will enjoy them regardless. As I have said before, I wish we could get back to the time when every game didn't need an "angle" to be interesting and the mere entertainment of the game being played was enough. That's my old person rant for the day, but things weren't always perfect in the good old days, but I feel as if the media believes no game is complete without an angle that doesn't have to do with the specific matchup on the court.

In a word, this season's playoffs have been brutal. Of the first 12 series, just one went the full seven,

I guess an NBA playoff series can't be interesting unless it goes the full seven games. I remember there being some excitement in the Oklahoma City-Los Angeles Lakers series and it only went six games, so I would say Tim Keown is wrong about this statement. A series doesn't have to go seven games to be considered exciting.

and that one -- Hawks-Bucks -- was probably the most forgettable seven-game series ever.

Well that's only because the Hawks-Bucks games involved teams from Milwaukee and Atlanta and not any important NBA cities like Los Angeles, Boston, New York, or Dallas. If these games were played by any of the teams the media tends to favor, it would have been an exciting seven games series. Alas, it did not happen and it was forgettable in the eyes of Tim Keown. I would bet he didn't watch more than one game of the series, so I am not sure we can trust his opinion.

Should Atlanta and Milwaukee even be able to have NBA teams? Why even have NBA teams in cities that are so boring?

The average margin of victory through the first two rounds (63 games) was 12.5 points, a figure that was admittedly skewed somewhat by the Magic-Hawks abomination.

See? Get rid of that team in Atlanta. They are an abomination. Contract the Hawks and Bucks and hold a draft for their players among the other 28 teams in the NBA.

The final four holds some promise, or at least we can still hope. Jeff Van Gundy's words on the grim spectacle of Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals rang true -- that's going to be a long, hard slog. And Game 1 of Suns-Lakers, a matchup that should work, didn't start well.

Yet here we are a few weeks after Tim Keown has stated the LeBron James free agency sweepstakes is more exciting than the playoffs and we have two series that are pretty exciting. So now the excitement Tim Keown craves is here. Though I am sure Tim Keown won't consider them exciting playoff series until they have gone seven games.

Here's an idea: Split the screen and show the games on one side, without sound, while the other half is taken up by talk of LeBron.

Here's an idea: Let's not do this. If the intent is to make sure nobody watches the Eastern Conference Finals, Western Conference Finals and the NBA Finals then this would be a great idea. Otherwise, how about we just watch the games that are being played and shut up about LeBron James until the time comes when he actually has to make a decision?

Call in various guest speakers -- the traditional screaming heads,

Known as Tim Keown's co-workers at ESPN.

sociology professors, influential people from Worldwide Wes' past pixelated with voice distortion to prevent identification. I'm convinced we're one or two more blowouts from someone making this a reality.

The sad part is I am somewhat convinced ESPN would think about doing this. As the NBA Finals start and James' pending free agency gets closer, it wouldn't shock me if there were periodic "LeBron updates" during the game.

Oh, and a special guest appearance by John Calipari, via Twitter.

If LeBron's handlers want to ruin the peak of LeBron's career they will find a way to get Calipari to coach him.

Before I go for the day, I wanted to share with everyone the abortion of a title for an article I found. It is about Derrick Character and his past troubles as he gets ready to enter the NBA Draft. What is it called?

"Character issues could come back to haunt New Jersey's Derrick Caracter in next month's NBA Draft."

It's not a half-bad article if you are looking for background on Caracter, but that title is absolutely terrible. What's next regarding bad puns in article titles in relation to the NBA draft?

"Georgia Tech's Derrick Favors does his opponents no favors on the court."

"Ohio State NBA draft pick sees ship he can sail on in Philadelphia and looks to turn-er around toward less stormy seas."

"James Anderson may have a normal name but his basketball skills are anything but ordinary."

It's so obvious to make the title of an article about Derrick Caracter to involve a play on the word "character." That's weak.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

14 comments Scoop Jackson Starts Another Pointless Argument About Which City Is the Most Cursed

One of the most pointless arguments in the world of sports is an argument about "curses" and which teams or cities are the most cursed. Bill Simmons sort of made a living in the beginning of his ESPN career off talking about the Red Sox curse, if not directly, he at least made it clear to everyone that only bad things happened to the Red Sox. Even though he swears he doesn't believe in curses, he just focused more on self-pity in regard to the Red Sox than anything. Merely believing or arguing over curses is beyond retarded, but that doesn't stop articles about curses from being written.

Today, Scoop Jackson tells the entire city of Cleveland they are NOT cursed because Chicago is a much more cursed town. See, Scoop is from Chicago and they KNOW curses. The city of Chicago only has 7 major titles since 1991. Now THAT'S a curse. I bet the Blackhawks won't win the Stanley Cup Finals this year, not because of skill, but because they are just so fucking cursed. I guess if you convince yourself a team losing has nothing to do with skill it makes you feel better about having a team that loses. I don't get it, I always find someone to blame for the loss. Finger pointing is much more fun than blaming curses for me...but not for Scoop.

Do you know who is really cursed? Anyone who has to read an article about a team being cursed. So I am sorry for writing this.

I have two friends, one named Vincent, the other Jamal. They are from Cleveland.

I have two friends, one named Idont, the other Giveashit. They don't tell stories about their friends as way to introduce a column as if these two opinions are representative for how an entire city feels.

And instead of facing the facts surrounding why another of their beloved teams bit the dust, they have decided to wallow neck-deep into the concept that as far as sports are concerned their city is cursed.

"And how dare they wallow in their self-pity and feel like they are cursed. Because I am from Chicago where we are really, really cursed. You can see we are cursed by the fact I am telling you we are cursed right now."

I'm from the Chi (Chicago, for those slangology-impaired), land of the Cubs. We know curses.

One team out of the five major sports franchises Chicago hasn't won a championship and a long time and now the entire city lays claim to being cursed. It's like Scoop is begging for others to give him some pity. I don't pity you Scoop...though I do pity those who like your writing.

And what they're talking in Cleveland, that's not a curse. That's victimization. There's a difference between the two.

The difference? A curse isn't real and victimization is. Obviously this means in the area of sports the non-real "curse" should be widely recognized as deserving sympathy while the quite-real idea of victimization shall get widely mocked by Scoop.

A curse is something that happens out of the ordinary. Something that makes no sense that helps continue a trend that goes beyond explanation.

What is the trend that Scoop refers to here and what is it caused by? My best guess would be victimization or general inability of a team to win a championship. So at the heart of it, a cursed team (which doesn't exist) is a lousy team that had some media-conceived event attributed to their losing. Therefore every time that team has bad luck, it will be attributed to the curse. So curses are all media-created as I suspected.

Like asking a man to remove his goat from the ballpark and him saying because of that the team isn't "gonna win no more," and they don't.

Actually, that's just a bullshit reason to pin the Cubs losing on something other than the team not being good enough to win a World Series in a long, long time.

Or a fan's interference on a foul ball causing one of the greatest downward spirals (chokes) in modern sports history.

Fans interfere with the action sometimes. The Yankees had fan interference help them in 1996 and for some reason the Orioles aren't seen as cursed because of what Jeffrey Maier did in 1996 when he caught Jeter's fly-ball in the field of play and it got turned into a home run by a blind umpire. Why did that event not curse the Orioles?

The foul ball deflected by Steve Bartman did not cause the downward spiral for the Cubs on the field, it was the Cubs crappy starting and relief pitching that gave up 8 runs. Hell, even Moises Alou doesn't know if he could have caught the ball. There was no curse in play here. The Cubs blew the game because of poor mental strength and even worse relief pitching. At least Scoop acknowledged the Cubs choked, but if they choked then they weren't cursed. I mean, right?

Did the Curse of Bartman extend to Game 7 when the Cubs again lost to the Marlins at home to end the series? Why is it that Scoop is taking a perfectly explainable event (Mark Prior started pitching poorly, the Cubs bullpen melted down and the Cubs choked in Game 7) and making it a rare event that changed the course of history? Yes, Bartman picked a bad time to deflect a fly-ball, but there is no reason 8 runs should have scored in that inning. Bartman's fly-ball deflection wasn't the beginning of the rally for the Marlins, but merely an event that preceded the meltdown of the Cubs pitching.

I find it amazing Scoop can ignore plenty of baseball-related reasons why the Cubs lost Game 6 and chalk it up to the one non-baseball-related reason the Cubs lost.

The Cubs didn't lose because Mark Prior melted down during the inning, it wasn't because Mark Prior threw a wild pitch to Castillo later in the at-bat, it wasn't the fact the Cubs bullpen couldn't get the Marlins out, and the Cubs didn't lose because in Game 7 Kerry Wood got batted around early in the game or the pitching staff gave up nine runs. What would that have to do with the Cubs loss? It was definitely the fly ball that was/was not catchable for Alou that made the difference.

But when Willie Mays makes a spectacular catch, when John Elway leads a team on a legendary drive, when Michael Jordan hits a series-winning shot at the buzzer, those are not out of the ordinary!

When Kerry Wood gets batted around in the 1st inning of Game 7, when Mark Prior throws a wild pitch, when Ivan Rodriguez gets a base hit that drives in a run, when Derrick Lee doubles to bring home two more runs, when the Cubs pitching staff again fails to stop the Marlins from scoring nine runs in Game 7...these aren't out of the ordinary either.

Those three plays are arguably one of the top three signature plays for each of these Hall of Fame athletes. They were plays that were out of the ordinary, even for these three players.

Those are plays executed by three of the greatest players to ever play in their respective sports. Those are things they were supposed to do.

So the only players who are supposed to succeed in key situations are players who aren't the greatest ever to play their sports? How come Scoop doesn't use this same argument to show why the Cubs aren't cursed? Moises Alou, Alex Gonzalez, Mark Prior, and Kyle Farnsworth aren't the greatest players ever to play their respective sports, so they are supposed to give up runs while pitching, make errors in the field and not catch fly-balls. Not being the greatest players to ever play their sport, they were supposed to fail in big situations.

Those are things that they continued to do throughout their careers, things that made them who they became.

Not true. I am not sure Willie Mays ever made a catch like he did against the Indians in 1954 again, I don't think Michael Jordan ever hit a buzzer beater on as tough of a shot like he did against the Cavs, and I think that drive against the Browns is probably the drive that defined Elway's career. Cleveland teams still lost on once-in-a-lifetime plays. This of course doesn't make them cursed, but to act like Jordan hit game-winners over opposing players while double clutching in mid-air on a weekly basis is just wrong.

Also, for what city did Jordan's Bulls play in? Oh yeah, Chicago. The same city that Scoop Jackson claims is cursed had 6 NBA Titles in the 90's, a World Series title in 2005, the Blackhawks are in the Stanley Cup Finals this year and won a Super Bowl title in 1986. The Cubs have had some bad luck and other issues that led to their World Series drought, but they aren't cursed, and the entire city of Chicago isn't cursed because one of the five sports franchises in the area hasn't won a World Series in a long time.

"But what about when Earnest Byner fumbled the ball?" they'll reply. Sounding like an old Babyface record.

Fumbles are a part of the game. They happen in football.

Errors are part of the game, base hits are part of the game, and wild pitches are part of the game. They happen in baseball. The Bartman deflection didn't lead to ANY runs scoring, it just led to Luis Castillo still being at-bat. What happened after that is all a part of the game of baseball.

The defense or a lack of focus or bad execution causes them.

A lack of focus or execution also causes ALL of the problems that directly led to runs scoring for the Cubs in the 8th inning of Game 6 in 2003.

Now, the timing of Byner's fumble was bad. That's bad luck. That's not part of being diagnosed as cursed.

And how is Bartman's deflection not bad luck for the Cubs?

Translation: If the Red Sox could get over trading Ruth (I know, a stretch), then you all surely should be able to get over trading Colavito. And if you can't, that says more about who the Indians are as an organization than it does the possibility of them being cursed.

I am pretty sure the Red Sox are over trading Babe Ruth by now. If the Cubs can't get over a goat being removed from the field and the owner of the goat saying they weren't going to win anymore, and this happened in 1945, this says a hell of a lot more about who the Cubs are as an organization than it does about them being cursed.

A curse is just a media-fabricated angle for a game. It's a desperate attempt to come up with an original story for why a team hasn't won a title in a while. Any team can have something that caused them to lose a game happen to them which can be considered a curse. Pick out an event in the history of a franchise and it could be a curse.

Red Right 88, Edgar Renteria's hit, Grady Sizemore losing the fly ball in the sun, the Carlos Boozer handshake deal, Art Modell: bad call, bad timing, bad defense, bad business, bad owner.

How many times has an NBA player had a handshake deal with a blind owner and then reneged on the deal and signed a more lucrative offer elsewhere? I am pretty sure that only happened once. This is actually an event that has never happened in the history of the NBA before.

For the Cubs the loss to the Marlins in the 8th inning of Game 6 was bad focus, bad pitching, bad fielding, and even worse pitching. These things all happen in the course of the game of baseball. Fans also interfere, but this interference did not directly lead to the Cubs loss, it merely cost the Cubs an out (maybe, depending on if Alou would have caught the ball) and the at-bat went back to exactly where it was the pitch before. There was a clean slate and Mark Prior blew it.

Bad calls are made on the regular; pitchers make bad pitches at the wrong time, which leads hitters to have big hits at the right time for the opposition; players make unforced errors every game;

Right now, Scoop is telling everyone why Cleveland isn't cursed, but he is also undermining his argument the Cubs are cursed because nearly everything he wrote here can go for the Cubs in the 8th inning of 2003 as well.

To impress me, talk to me when your team goes to New York (Shea Stadium) in September leading the NL East pennant race, then someone drops a black cat on the field and that cat makes a beeline for your All-Star third baseman (Ron Santo), stops, stares at him, then heads into your team's dugout where it stares down all the players and your team winds up losing the division to the team in that other dugout (Mets) by eight games.

Have investigated the idea that Cubs players are among the most mentally weak players in the history of baseball? I am not saying this is true, but a black cat can't make your team lose the division by eight games in September. Only really shitty baseball-playing can do that. It seems like for some reason the Cubs players have an event happen them on the field and then completely lose focus. It just feels that way for some reason. It may not be true.

Now that's an ingredient for a curse, my friend.

No, that's a black cat on the field. The Carolina Panthers have a black cat for a mascot. Is the entire franchise cursed? Why hasn't anyone written an article on this yet? Alert ESPN!

That's when you know something more than the game is a possible reason your team (or city) will never win the last game.

That's when you know Scoop Jackson is more interested in making excuses for why the Cubs lost than actually blaming it on the players for playing poorly.

And until something extra absurd happens that is out of the realm of reasonable and conceivable possibility, then all bets are off with the rest of us outside the 216 even honoring your claim to shame.

Is it really out of the realm of reasonable and conceivable possibility that a fan would deflect a fly-ball that was headed his/her way? This is really an argument Scoop Jackson is making? Who would have thought fans who are sitting in seats that don't have a fence around the area that borders the baseball field could have an impact on the game? Other than a rational person of course. Sure, it was bad luck, but Scoop said himself in this very column that bad luck isn't a curse.

2003 isn't even the first time a fan interfering has come into play in a MLB playoff game, so I would say the possibility of a fan interfering was completely reasonable and least until the fans have a barrier that prevents them from leaning into the field of play.

And when that futility mark hits 100 years and counting -- not the measly 46 years you all claim -- then you can call me.

This is the last article Scoop Jackson has written for Perhaps they fired him after he wrote this. That's not outside the realm of reasonable and conceivable possibility at all.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

16 comments Steve Phillips Is a Crazy Person

Steve Phillips used to be the General Manager for a Major League Baseball team. I am sure everyone pretty much knew that, but I wanted to re-state that a team (the Mets) paid him to run their team, with the assumption he would lead the team to success. It didn't completely happen this way. This is a guy who didn't make altogether terrible moves with the Mets, but he traded for and signed veterans every chance he got. Along those lines, he stated two days ago he would trade Stephen Strasburg for Roy Oswalt. Steve Phillips is a crazy person.

Let's first look at Phillips' exact words and then go from there in discussing this.

"Here's the thing," Phillips told Mike Francesa on New York's WFAN Monday afternoon. "If I'm the Astros, I'm saying Washington Nationals, sure, [Roy] Oswalt, I think he'd fit great for you. I'll take Strasburg, and then I'll take...."

Here's the underrated part of this statement for me. It isn't just a straight up Oswalt for Strasburg trade, but Steve Phillips was going to try and ask for MORE players from the Nationals in return for Oswalt. I don't tend to overvalue prospects much, Strasburg is an exception. Strasburg is not only a marketing dream for the Nationals, but he is also a pitcher that AT WORST seems to be a quality #2 starter in the future. Oswalt is a #1 starter and a quality one at that. So it is not like the Nationals would be getting a crappy pitcher in return, but does Steve Phillips really think the Nationals would throw another player in the trade? It would have to be a AAAA guy who is in his upper-20's or a prospect that doesn't look like he has a bright future for me to think this is reasonable. Of course why would the Astros demand another player who doesn't look like he is worth having?

Of course there is a money aspect to this discussion as well. Oswalt is also 32 years old and costs $15 million this season, $18 million next season and has a club option for 2012 for $16 million with a $2 million buyout. I love Roy Oswalt as a pitcher and I can only think of two reasons the Nationals would trade Strasburg for Oswalt straight up.

1. The Nationals know something about Strasburg's future no other team knows (injury or he isn't that good of a pitcher). Neither of these situations seem to be the case here.

2. The Nationals want to win over the next two years and don't care what they have to do in order to make this happen. Bottom line, the Nationals aren't winning anything this year, so unless Mike Rizzo is delusional, this isn't the case either.

Where Steve Phillips has failed is he doesn't understand the Nationals marketing and pitching needs at this current point in time. Strasberg is a marketing dream for a team that can't get fan interest or ticket sales for their team. Strasberg is the future for the Nationals. To trade him is to essentially trade the future of the Nationals...until they draft Bryce Harper.

Phillips also doesn't understand that it doesn't even really make financial sense to trade Strasburg for Oswalt. Strasburg is a cheaper pitcher than Oswalt right now and is seen as the pitching savior of the franchise. Regardless of whether the actual trade makes sense in terms of value gained on each side, it doesn't make sense from a marketing, financial, and team competitiveness point of view. The Nationals aren't winning the World Series this year so they don't have a need to trade short term value for a long term value in Strasburg.

But yes, it would appear that Strasburg alone wouldn't be enough.

This is why Phillips is a crazy person to me. He wants the Nationals to give up more players than just Strasburg. Beyond what the point of trading Strasburg for Oswalt would be, how the hell does he really think the Astros could talk the Nationals out of giving up more players for Oswalt? Maybe Strasburg will never been as good as Oswalt is or has been, but try telling that to a Nationals fan base that has very little to cheer for.

A team shouldn't always cater to its fan base, but there comes a time when a team has to give a shit about selling tickets to the games.

Francesa immediately realized that this idea was, to use the technical term, dumb.

"Never," he said. "They won't do that. They won't do that."

"No, they won't do that," Phillips agreed, briefly reentering the earth's orbit. "But let me ask you this: Do you think that Strasburg is going to be Roy Oswalt in his career?"

This is another time where Phillips fails to understand what he is actually arguing. This isn't really even about whether Strasburg would be as good as Oswalt, but whether the Nationals think Oswalt will help them more over the next 2-3 years more than having Strasburg for a minimum of 5-6 years will help them and whether money spent on Oswalt wouldn't be better spent in another fashion to help the Nationals compete. Basically the Nationals are going all-in on this current season and next season by trading Oswalt for Strasburg and that's not smart for them to do. They aren't close enough to contending to make this move. The Nationals could use this money they would spend on Oswalt to get 1-2 quality position players this offseason or make another trade while keeping Strasburg.

Another factor in why this wouldn't work is one player is 32 years old and the other player is 21 years old. So essentially the Nationals would be giving up 11 years in the majors with Strasburg (of course there is the money they would have to pay Strasburg in that time as well) for 2-3 years of Oswalt.

"You think he will? I don't know that," Phillips countered. "And even if he is, if I think that I want Roy Oswalt to help me win this year, you know what?

Well you never KNOW how good a pitcher will be, but given Strasburg's numbers in the minors this year it doesn't look like he is going to struggle to adapt to the majors too much. There is easily $18 million in salary difference in what Oswalt would cost to keep over the next two years (I am assuming the Nationals pay $3 million of his salary this year and assuming Strasburg is making $2 million over the next two years, which is fuzzy math, but my point is there will be a massive difference in salaries of the two players) over what Strasburg would cost to keep. This is another strike against this deal.

Is Oswalt worth $18 million more than Strasburg over the next season and a half? There's no way he is. This is the exact reason Steve Phillips got fired from the Mets, he is constantly thinking about NOW and not thinking that the Nationals aren't in a position to compete this year (I don't give a shit what the standings say) so there is no reason to pretend they are in a position to compete.

Besides, if the Nationals can compete (as they have so far) without Strasburg or Oswalt, adding Strasburg to the rotation will only make them a better team. Oswalt isn't good enough to make an average team a Wild Card team. I don't think Oswalt's talent today and in the future is worth more than Strasburg's talent today and in the future when you include salaries and other variables the Nationals need to factor in.

I'm one of the guys, I make that deal, because...."

"One of those guys" being a crazy person. There is no other person or team who would make this deal. I think even if the Yankees needed pitching and they had Strasburg they wouldn't trade him for Oswalt...and the Yankees are supposed to hate their prospects, right?

I mean, this is a team coming off back-to-back 100-loss seasons, with the lowest season-ticket base of its history, now poised to draft the most exciting teenage hitting prospect in years, whose best player hasn't yet entered his prime and whose fan base has been waiting for sustained competitiveness built around the man nicknamed Jeezus. So you'd trade him to help you compete for a wild card this year?

Exactly. Essentially Steve Phillips is advocating trading one of the building blocks of the team for a run at the Wild Card in the National League for the next two years. Because the Nationals won't be going further than the NLDS this year and they can't win the NL East over the Phillies. Making this trade would be one of the worst examples of advocating a short-term benefit and ignoring a long-term benefit in Major League history. What GM trades a potential elite pitcher for a shot an outside the Wild Card? I can't believe how wrong Steve Phillips is about this.

"You can't give up Strasburg, though," Francesa said

"Absolutely," Phillips insisted. "I mean, listen, he was a good college pitcher, he's a good minor league pitcher so far. But if I can get one of the top, what, top 5 starting pitchers in the game today for Strasburg?

The Mets management have to be beaming with pride today that Phillips is talking like this. ESPN is probably jealous they had to fire this genius. I'm not being sarcastic, they probably think this argument would have been great on the Coors Light Home Depot "Six Pack of Questions" for Steve Phillips sponsored by Applebees.

Here's the point that Phillips keeps missing: The Nationals don't have a need for a Top 5 pitcher like Roy Oswalt. Their team is doing well this year, but this success will end. They have lost 100 games the past couple of seasons and seem to be on their way back to the NL East basement. So it does not make sense to trade for a Top 5 pitcher (even though I don't know if Oswalt is a Top 5 pitcher). Even proposing this trade shows absolutely zero foresight.

Strasburg has also been better than "good" in both the minors and college. He's been excellent.

Because I really, truly, I hope that he could be that guy. I have to tell you, I don't know that he could be that guy. And with his delivery, I could see the potential of a Mark Prior sort of breakdown."

Now Steve Phillips thinks he is a pitching coach. He doesn't like Strasburg's delivery! Alert the media, Strasburg is going to have arm problems because Steve Phillips doesn't like his delivery!

This opinion from the guy who traded for Mo Vaughn in 2001 even though Vaughn had missed the entire 2001 campaign with an injury. He thinks Strasburg will have his arm breakdown based on the video he has seen from him, but he also thought Mo Vaughn was in such great shape he could easily recover from his injury and play first base in the National League. Steve Phillips knew this because Mo Vaughn hit the ball well off a fucking tee after his surgery in 2001. I'm not kidding.

Steve Phillips may believe Mike Rizzo is into collecting a fantasy team and not trying to actually improve the Nationals for the future. Come to think of it, that could have been his problem with the Mets as well, Phillips thought he was collecting a fantasy team and not putting together a team of productive baseball players.

Rob Neyer chimes in on this discussion and imagines if it makes sense to trade Oswalt for Strasburg for any team. Let's enter the analysis of crazy person land now.

Not the Nationals, though. Given where they are in the development cycle, it's simply impossible to justify trading six years of Strasburg for 10 months of Roy Oswalt. And that would be true even if Oswalt wasn't slated to earn nearly $30 million through the 2011 season.

I know people say dumb things, but Steve Phillips didn't say it just once and then take it back, he kept saying over and over he would make this trade. Aren't experts not supposed to be idiots?

But what if you're a contender, and the money's not all that important? Who's more likely to get you into the playoffs this season, and help you win the World Series?

Oswalt, clearly.

This is correct, but I don't think even the most eager World Series contender would make this trade. I can see what Rob Neyer is saying, but the fact is to have this trade make sense a team would have to want to win this year and not care about next year or two years after that. It isn't simply a discussion of whether a team could win with Oswalt or Strasburg in the rotation because there is going to be a next year.

If you were really trying to win, you might remove him from the rotation in July or August and deploy him for the rest of the season as your not-so-secret bullpen weapon, like the Rays used David Price in 2008. But if you'd given the Rays a choice between Price and Oswalt that summer, wouldn't they have chosen Oswalt?

The Rays would have taken Oswalt over Price, but I don't know if the Rays would have actually traded Price for Oswalt. Every MLB team would want to trade prospects for proven players, but this trade doesn't exist in a vacuum and that is why I don't think even the most World Series-needy team would make this trade. To have this trade make sense for the team getting Oswalt, the only variable that will have to be paid attention to by a GM is the opportunity to win the World Series, and be willing to do anything to reach this goal.

Obviously, the Rays wouldn't trade Price for Oswalt today ... but it's worth mentioning that Price is now in his third major league season, and he's still not the pitcher we once thought he would become.

What does this tell us? The Rays may have made that trade, but they wouldn't have re-done the trade two years later, even when Oswalt is a better pitcher than David Price now (which I would perhaps start a debate over). It tells me no team is going to be so short-sighted as to make this trade.

Besides, David Price is currently 7-1 with a 2.41 ERA, ERA+ of 176, and a WHIP of 1.14 at the age of 24 years old. What kind of pitcher did Rob Neyer expect Price to be? I think he is pretty damned good right now. I don't know what potential Rob Neyer sees in him that he doesn't currently seem to be reaching.

Take the money out of it, and if I'm trying to win right now, I would rather have Roy Oswalt than Stephen Strasburg in 2010 and '11, because I think Oswalt is going to win more games in these two seasons.

Even if you take the money out of it, you still have to pay attention to two years down the road and whether Oswalt is THE missing piece that will guarantee your team a World Series. This trade only makes sense in a short-sighted vacuum where all other variables outside of "whether the trade will win a team the World Series" are ignored.

If I'm the Nationals, though? Fuhgeddaboutit.

I would say if you are any team in the majors, then it wouldn't happen. Teams that have GM's terrible enough to make this decision in such a vacuum aren't good enough teams to win the World Series with Oswalt anyway.

I am skeptical this crazy idea of Steve Phillips' would work in any situation, even for a World Series contender. Like I said, no team that has a GM stupid enough to trade Strasburg for Oswalt will probably be contending for a World Series title. That's not to say a stupid GM's team won't luck out and be competing at this point in the season of course, but generally dumb GM's have made stupid moves that don't put their team in a position to make the World Series. Obviously there are exceptions.

If a team needed a pitcher that badly, why didn't they go for a pitcher who cost a little bit less to acquire? Sure you wouldn't get a Roy Oswalt in return, but you also wouldn't be trading a guy with as much potential as Stephen Strasburg has.

One thing is for sure, Steve Phillips is a crazy person and it is not shocking he was fired by the Mets. I am not sure a Roy Oswalt for Stephen Strasburg trade would ever go down no matter the circumstances, but if it did then the reasoning would have to exist in a vacuum based on solely on winning the World Series THAT YEAR. I don't know how a team that thinks like this would compete beyond 2011.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

4 comments Joe Morgan Still Doesn't Understand How to Judge Postseason Award Winners Correctly

Joe Morgan is "old school." This means he is incapable of correctly judging why the MVP doesn't have to come from the best team in each league, thinks 140 pitch counts are perfectly fine, doesn't enjoy three-run home runs as much as he enjoys team speed, and thinks OBP was created by witches to destroy the moral fabric of baseball. Much of these characteristics and fears Joe displays in this week's ode to baseball ignorance, his weekly ESPN chat.

(11:01 AM)

We've got Joe!

I always wonder why the chats start off this way, like ESPN has to kidnap Joe in a van every week as he walks around his neighborhood or Joe has to be tied to a chair with only his hands free in order to get him for these chats.

I attended MLB's Civil Rights Game weekend in Cincinnati and it was fabulous.

Somebody needs to lay off the "Sex and the City" re-runs on TBS.

Jon E (Ankeny, IA)

What are your thoughts on Hanley Ramirez' future after watching him casually saunter after that ball last night?

JM: I'm one to give a guy the benefit of the doubt, unless this is a trend. Remember, he fouled a ball off his ankle in his first at bat and it took him a long time to get back into the batter's box.

It is not hard to tell the difference in a player who is injured and running after a ball and a player who is being lazy running after a ball. Ramirez was clearly barely jogging to get the baseball in this case. Quit with the horseshit excuses for Ramirez.

That's no excuse for what happened, because if you can't run, you should come out of the game.

Joe says this even though he just made an excuse for Ramirez's being lazy going after the ball. Nice way to start off the chat.

brett (louisville)

hey Joe, how happy are you to see the reds playing well? Any chance they can build off this early success? thanks

JM: I think they can continue, because they have such a fine pitching staff. They will at some point get Volquez back

We do know when Volquez is coming back. "At some point" can be defined as "however many games are left on his definite suspension of 50 games." So it isn't really an indefinite period when they get Volquez back, but a definite period and not "at some point."

Nitpick time!

and they still have Chapman at AAA learning to pitch.

It's always good to be counting on guys who are learning to pitch. That shouldn't take any more than 5-7 years for him to be major league ready if he is learning to pitch.

Matthew (Columbia, NJ)

Are the Phillies clearly the best team in the National League?

JM: They're a great team. Their starting pitching is not the best, but they do have Halladay and Hamels.

"They don't have great starting pitching if you don't include the fact they have the best pitcher in the National League."

Yes, they are the best team.

So apparently Joe isn't too worried about the Phillies pitching. I wonder who he thinks has the best starting pitching? We won't ever know because he doesn't tell us. Next question!

Bradley (Cedar Rapids)

Joe, Do you see the Twins being content with their four righties, or do you think they will make a trade towards the deadline?

JM: I would say that they would have to be content. You're not going to be able to pick up a lot of good pitching, because everyone's looking for that.

I would actually agree a team isn't going to be able to pick up a lot of good pitching, but I think this because good pitching is in short supply, and not for the reason Joe gives here. I love how Joe's mind works. The Twins can't trade for another pitcher not because the supply is low, but because the demand for pitching is too high. Without a discussion of how the Twins don't have the prospects to trade for a good pitcher at the trade deadline this comment doesn't make sense. Even if other teams are looking for pitching, the Twins would have as good of a shot as any other team of picking up some good pitching depending on what other teams they are going up against to get that pitching.

Maybe the Twins could offer Delmon Young for Matt Garza and see if it works.

Glenn (PA)

Mr. Morgan, is it time that the Astros cut their losses with some of their homerun hitters go for guys who play small ball?

This has to be a JoeBait question.

JM: I think all of the teams in MLB have to do that. I think we passed the era of guys hitting 60, 50, 45 home runs. We're passed that era.

We've passed the Steroid Era basically. Good insight.

All of the teams are going to have to play regular baseball and not waiting for the 3-run homer. The best teams now are more complete. They can do a lot of things.

Blah, blah, blah. Consistency. Hyperbole. Strategery.

Ryan Howard is probably the only player that you can count on to hit 45 or more HRs.

Is Joe sure about this?

In 2009, Albert Pujols, Ryan Howard, and Prince Fielder all hit over 45 home runs.
In 2008, Ryan Howard was the only one to hit more than 45 home runs.
In 2007, Alex Rodriguez, Prince Fielder, Ryan Howard, and Carlos Pena hit over 45 home runs.

So yes, Howard is the only player you can count on to hit 45 home runs EVERY SINGLE YEAR, but there are other players who can hit 45 home runs. Prince Fielder has done it 2 out of the last 3 years, so there are other players who can hit 45 or more home runs.

Curt (Trappe Md)

How is it possible that this years Orioles are worse than last years? Any chance the league will move them to Montreal please?

JM: I have not seen the Orioles enough to give you a definitive answer.

Dammit Curt! There are 30 entire teams in MLB! How the hell can Joe be expected to keep up with all of them? Why do you soul sucking MLB "fans" always ask him questions about teams he hasn't seen? He's watched Cincinnati, the New York Mets, New York Yankees, Atlanta Braves, Philadelphia Phillies, and Chicago Cubs play this year. That's it. Let's please stick to questions about those teams.

But it appears that they have some individual talent there, but it has not blended well as far as the team is concerned. They hit well, but don't pitch. When they pitch well, they don't hit.

...and what follows is Joe giving a definitive answer about what is wrong with the Orioles...or as definitive an answer as Joe is capable of giving. For a guy who hasn't seen the Orioles play he sure knows a lot about them. So either he is lying or he is talking about of his ass. I vote he is talking in circles so he can move on to the next question.

Jamara (Detroit)

Is Miguel Cabrera your A.L. MVP right now?

JM: I said last year that I thought he was going to be the MVP.

What the hell does this mean? Joe said last year that Miguel Cabrera should be the MVP, so how the hell does this in any way translate to whether Cabrera is the MVP for this year? I hope Joe knows seasons aren't supposed to carry over where voters take into account a player's performance from the last year.

If Joe means he predicted last Miguel Cabrera would be the MVP this year, then it is somewhat less retarded, but still causes me concern for Joe's mental state.

I still think that the teams that win, in the end, that's where the MVP should come from.

I still that this is retarded reasoning. It is the "Most Valuable Player," not the "Most Valuable Player on the Best Team in Major League Baseball."

The writers don't always agree with me.

For once, the baseball writers and voters have shown themselves to be intelligent voters. Not agreeing with Joe on this issue is a smart thing to do.

I just believe that you can lose with anybody. The winners are special people.

The mere fact a team can lose with anybody doesn't mean the best player on that team is automatically the best player in the American/National League. Baseball is a team game and a team can still win the World Series without having the best player in their league on that team. This isn't tennis, this is baseball, a team sport. Pedro Feliz is not a better third baseman because he played on a World Series winning team while Evan Longoria sucks because his team didn't win the World Series. The MVP is an individual award, not a team award. Anyone who doesn't see the logic in not basing the MVP on a team achievement is a "special person" in my mind.

So, you have to wait to see how the Tigers come out this year before you decide if he's the MVP.

No you don't. If he is the Most Valuable Player we can judge this without knowing the outcome of the season for his team. If Miguel Cabrera hits .320 with 37 home runs 121 RBIs he isn't all of a sudden less valuable because Brandon Inge struck out to end the American League Championship Series against the Yankees...and this doesn't make Alex Rodriguez more valuable because his team won this game. I don't get how a logical, sane person can't see this. How the hell is Cabrera less valuable because the team around him isn't good enough to beat another team in a 5-7 game series?

Chad (Baton Rouge)

Mr. Morgan, what do you make of the Red Sox at this point in the season?

JM: The only weakness I see is on the road, they have problems scoring runs. Their road offense is where they're going to struggle.

The Red Sox have played 40-something games this year and almost half of those have been on the road. They are in the Top 5 in all of baseball in runs scored, home runs, OBP, and OPS. They must not have huge problems scoring runs on the road because the statistics (as made up as they made be in Joe's mind) don't show this.

And their starting pitching, starting with Beckett, has not been consistent. The only one who has pitched well is Lester.

Clay Bucholz is actually pitching better than Lester in some aspects. Stupid statistics always twisting Joe's misconceptions around!

If Big Papi doesn't come around and be consistent, the offense suffers, because they don't have a lot of power there, despite hitting 5 home runs last night.

The Red Sox are in the Top 3 in home runs in all of Major League Baseball. Why does ESPN let this guy chat and give out his opinion again?

Andy (Tampa)

Can you explain the Cardinals' recent poor play. To me they have the second most talent in the NL and they can't score any runs.

JM: I think it's too early to pass judgement, but they changed hitting instructors with a new philosophy.

McGwire's philosophy is to use PEDs, but unfortunately that philosophy had to be tweaked a bit to fit in with current Major League Baseball rules.

Hitting instructors do have an impact on players but I don't think McGwire is coming onto the Cardinals team and having each player completely turn his hitting style around or anything. So I don't know if the team will turn it around because McGwire has re-done the swing of every player on the roster. Joe has a very high opinion of how much a hitting instructor does.

It may take them a while before they adjust or for him to see the kinks in their swings. Don't underestimate this point.

I won't underestimate this point, but I will completely ignore it due to it's irrelevance in my eyes.

Andy (Tampa)

For the first time in several years Albert Pujols hit 4th instead of 3rd last night. How much of a change is it for a hitter to be moved in the batting order?

JM: I don't think there's a big difference between third and fourth, but I do think there's a difference between first and third.

Ok, no one asked about the move from the lead-off spot to the 3rd batter in the order.

I don't know why Tony did it. In the past, he's wanted to get as many people hitting in front of Albert as he can.

Nothing helps your team be more successful like taking your best player and making sure he gets less at-bats and less protection from the clean-up hitter. I don't think it is a matter of getting as many guys in front of Pujols as possible, but a matter of getting guys on-base in front of Pujols. There's a small difference and whether the move works or not depends on who the hitter in front of Pujols is. If it is David Eckstein then of course it will work according to Joe, but if it is a crappy, base-clogging hitter like Adam Dunn then this will fail miserably.

Doug (Cincy)

Have you had a chance to work with Brandon Phillips at all? What do you think of him as a player?

JM: I watch him play.

It's good to see ESPN's #1 analyst has as much experience in regard to Brandon Phillips as anyone with a television set has. He watches Phillips on television and that is the extent of his work with Phillips. Joe also now works for the Reds in some fashion, and considering Phillips started the year off in a slump and plays second base, I would think he would be a player Joe would be eager to work with.

From Joe's job description with the Reds as described by ESPN:

He also is a special advisor to baseball operations for the Cincinnati Reds, where he will assist in player development

It's good to see Joe is dedicated to stealing money from ESPN and the Cincinnati Reds. He's like baseball's version of Robin Hood, except he keeps the money he steals and doesn't think the new-fangled iron arrows are as good as the old wooden ones he used.

I think he's a very good player. A lot of potential. He can run, hit, hit with power. It's just a matter of him being consistent.

Brandon Phillips will be 29 years old in June. If he is going to be a "consistent" baseball player I think now is the time to start doing that.

From his OPS+ it looks like Phillips has been consistent. Consistently an average baseball player.

Danny (Cleveland)

Who is to blame in Cleveland? The Indians went from a game away from winning the 2007 World Series to one of the worst teams in baseball. They traded everyone away for nothing.

JM: You said it right there. They made a lot of trades that have not worked out.

These trades haven't worked out because the Indians traded for minor league prospects who aren't ready to play in the majors yet. You can't expect a team that is rebuilding like the Indians to turn it around in less than 2 years. They got back high-ceiling, young prospects for their key players.

You were not going to get the value for CC,

The Indians got Matt LaPorta and three other prospects for CC Sabathia. LaPorta has struggled this year but he is still only 25 years old and the Indians got three other prospects for Sabathia. It will be another year before this trade can be judged effectively.

Victor Martinez,

He was traded to the Red Sox for three players, Justin Masterson who is currently pitching for the Indians, Nick Hagadone is 24 years old and is in Single-A ball right now, and Bryan Price is 23 years old and is in Double-A ball this year.

Cliff Lee.

Lee was traded for a Triple-A pitcher and three Single-A batters who were also some of the best prospects in the Phillies system. It is going to take more than 10 months to figure out how this trade worked for the Indians. I thought the Phillies gave up a good haul for Lee.

Maybe the Indians didn't get equal value, but they got young players who aren't expected to contribute immediately in many of these trades. Sure, the Indians still suck and probably will for a while, but they got the best deals they could.

Next week, I'll have a better feel for the Mets.

This is probably because the Mets and the Yankees were on Sunday Night Baseball, a game Joe was covering for ESPN. Apparently it is in his contract that he can't watch any baseball games that he isn't personally broadcasting...or Joe is just a lazy man who doesn't follow baseball, which I think is inexcusable for a person who gets paid to follow baseball.

I already know the Yankees are good in New York. We'll get a better read on the Mets and Jerry Manuel.

I don't understand the comment about the Yankees being good in New York. That is where they play 81 games a year after all, so I would hope they are good in their home city.

We all know the only way to tell if an MLB team is good or not is to play the Yankees. Who knows if the Phillies are any good or not? They haven't played the Yankees this year.

If only there was a way for Joe to get a read on the Mets without broadcasting one of their games on a Sunday. It's just a pipe dream for Joe at this point.

Monday, May 24, 2010

16 comments MMQB Review: The Greatest Show In Mike Martz's Mind Edition

Last week Peter King ranked all of the teams in the NFL and pissed off the fans of nearly every NFL team who took offense to his arbitrary ranking of their team. Last year Peter had the Chicago Bears as one of the best teams in the NFL before the season began, which they didn't up deserving that spot, and this year he had the Packers as the best team in the NFL, which I believe is kind of shaky. So it is not like his May power rankings are necessarily incredibly accurate. This week Peter recovers from the verbal beating he took in his mailbag and catches up with Mike Martz, who is wondering if anyone has four Hall of Fame-type players to loan him in Chicago so he can be considered an offensive genius again.

Quietly, near the end of a conversation about his Chicago Bears offense Saturday afternoon, Mike Martz said, "I've seen this before.''

He was alluding to 11 years ago, when he took the offensive coordinator job in St. Louis and went to work under Dick Vermeil with an incredible offense that included Trent Green, Marshall Faulk, Torry Holt, Isaac Bruce and Az-Zahir Hakim.

I know already Martz is going to compare what offensive weapons the Bears have to what he had with the Rams, but the comparison isn't accurate. Faulk and Bruce were already known to be great offensive weapons and Torry Holt was the highest rated receiver out of that 1999 draft. Chicago doesn't have guys with that type of potent offensive background on the roster right now.

Now the cast of characters is mostly nondescript in Chicago. There's Jay Cutler, Matt Forte, Chester Taylor, Devin Hester, Devin Aromashodu, Johnny Knox, Juaquin Iglesias and Earl Bennett.

But with this team, and this quarterback, he's over the top, even for Martz -- and I've heard him say some outlandishly positive things about questionable players before.

Yet even though Peter has heard Martz say outlandishly positive things about questionable players before, he will give him a forum in his MMQB to do this again. It makes sense if you don't think about it. A coach has a history of overstating the things the players he oversees can do, so we are supposed to listen to him when he says outlandish things about his current players and then Peter writes about it as if it is all believable.

"I never let hearsay and gossip determine what I think of a player, and I haven't with Jay,'' he said after the Bears' Saturday practice. "What I've seen in him so far is he has no flaws. None. He's got no ego.

I am sure the entire city of Denver and Josh McDaniels would argue quite differently that Jay Cutler has no ego. He heard last winter he might get traded because the Broncos may draft a quarterback or trade for Matt Cassel. He did not want to get traded so he pouted and essentially forced the Broncos to trade him...which is exactly what he was pissed off about having happen to him in the first place. I would say based on that situation from last year, Jay Cutler has an ego.

He sees things the way Kurt used to see them.

You mean to tell me 7 step drops and relying on deep pass patterns which take time to develop isn't a good idea behind a shaky offensive line? Wait, that's not how Kurt Warner saw things, that's what happened to him in Martz's offense.

Who knows what'll happen if he has a five-pick game (as he did last year against San Francisco) or a four-pick job ('09 against Green Bay).

I think we all know what will happen. Jay Cutler will get booed and Lovie Smith will get fired and Julius Peppers will still be incredibly wealthy and not give a shit either way what is happening because he got paid.

(Sour grapes? Not at all. Just wait Bears fans. It won't happen this year, but the year after that. Peppers will be the only 6'7" inch 290 pound guy who can disappear on a football field.)

That aside, I wanted to know Martz's thoughts about his allocation of wideout resources. I actually think the Bears should consider moving Hester back to where he was dominant his first two years in the league -- in the return game. First two seasons: 152 punt and kickoff returns, 11 touchdowns. Last two seasons: 94 returns, zero touchdowns.

Right Peter, that makes sense. Take the Bears best and most dangerous wide receiver and put him on special teams duty. That's the solution to their offensive woes. Make the Bears special teams more powerful by reducing the effectiveness of the offense. No matter how good Hester is on special teams he gets more chances to touch the ball playing offense.

No question the receiver group is better than the outside world thinks.

It's not terrible, but it also isn't great.

Martz raised eyebrows recently when he said the receiver group is the best single unit on the Bears. "I wouldn't back off that one bit," he says.

If the Bears receivers are the single best unit on the Bears, that isn't saying a whole lot about the other units on the Bears team. It may be more of an insult to the other units on the Bears than a compliment to the wide receivers.

"It boggles my mind people don't see we have some top guys.''

Number of 1000 yard receivers at any point in their career on the Bears roster: Zero

Number of 800 yard receivers at any point in their career on the Bears roster: Zero

Number of 80 catch receivers at any point in their career on the Bears roster: Zero

Number of 60 catch receivers at any point in their career on the Bears roster: 2 (Olsen and Forte)

It boggles my mind how Mike Martz could think a team that has receivers who have never had a 70 catch or 800 yard season are "top guys." Clearly, Mike Martz is still a crazy person if he believes this. The Bears receivers have some potential, but they are currently nowhere near having anyone on the roster who is a top receiver or could be considered a top guy.

In Martz's previous two coordinator gigs -- Detroit (2006, '07) and San Francisco (2008) -- the teams finished 19th, 22nd and 23rd, respectively, in total offense.

Well yeah, but that's because he didn't have multiple Hall of Fame players to work with. An offensive coordinator has to have at least two Hall of Fame players to be successful doesn't he? That's the theory it seems Martz works under.

Unless Cutler throws a bunch of interceptions, the Bears shouldn't finish that poorly.

What's this assumption the Bears offense won't be that bad based on Peter? They finished 23rd last year and the name "Mike Martz" isn't good for a huge offensive bump just based on what he has done with the 49ers and Lions. Of course that was the 49ers and Lions, but still...

But the one problem that's not going away is the raggedy offensive line. Thirty-five sacks wasn't the total story last year for the Bears' line. There was also the constant drumbeat of pressure from everywhere, which forced Cutler to face more pressure than he'd ever seen in Denver.

Has this area improved dramatically? I don't remember it having done so unless the Bears plan to play Brandon Maluamlaualauuaaauua there some times, which I highly doubt will happen. So Cutler may still face a good amount of pressure this year as well.

The downfield throw is what made Warner great, and Cutler will be challenged to be just as accurate.

But with less time given to him by his offensive line.

On Brett Favre undergoing ankle surgery Friday that will facilitate him playing in 2010: Did you expect anything different? I mean, really? After seeing Favre emotionally hug so many teammates and coaches after the NFC Championship game loss at New Orleans four months ago, you had to figure it was either a long goodbye or convincing himself he couldn't live without the game and his new team.

I don't think I have ever heard of a quarterback who is a bigger drama queen than Brett Favre. He can make an ingrown toenail surgery the most dramatic decision in the history of medicine. The sad part is that Peter King and ESPN would be right there to try and scoop each other for the story. So we end up all being pawns in Favre's game.

Brett Favre has a little diarrhea and we all get shit on. That's how I feel every time I hear a story about his latest surgery or whether he will come back to the NFL or not. Is there really anyone who thought Favre wasn't coming back? If so, you are an idiot. He can't ignore the spotlight. This is a guy who has had two retirement press conferences already and I wouldn't be shocked if we ended up with four retirement press conferences when it is all said and done.

Favre wasn't loved by his mates with the Jets, who felt he set himself apart from them. Favre was loved by his mates in Minnesota,

This has nothing to do with Favre or anything else except for the fact the Jets weren't winning and the Vikings were. Winning is the bottom line like it always is.

all you had to do was see him and wideout Sidney Rice embrace for 45 seconds after the title game and whisper sweet nothings into each others ears and then dab their eyes when they let go of each other.

"Sweet nothings?" Really Peter? This sad, emotional scene almost makes us forget Favre used fairly underhanded tactics for two years in order to play for the Vikings, in the process stabbing the entire state of Wisconsin in the back, because he didn't like that a younger, superior quarterback was going to get his spot as the starting quarterback for the Packers because Brett Favre chose to retire. It almost makes you forget this. Of course I could never forget this.

Favre loved the Vikings.

Favre also loved the Packers and look where that got them.

Then Peter includes three "Quotes of the Week" courtesy of Zach Thomas for some reason. Apparently Zach Thomas is a very interesting person to talk to.

Three numerical points regarding the overtime debate:

1. The league averages 13 overtime games a year. That's 5.1 percent of the games in a season. That's three overtime games a month. To me, it's not revolutionizing the game, or adding much to the time of a game, or to the burden on the networks, to make overtime reform part of the regular season.

2. Eleven teams did not play an overtime game in 2009. Only four teams played more than one.

3. Detroit has not played an overtime game in its last 46 games. Seattle (30), San Francisco (30) and Houston (29) have gone nearly two years without playing extra time.

Here is the most interesting part about these three bullet points to me. Peter King has spent the last year and five months advocating for the NFL overtime to be overhauled because of how unfair the coin toss is and how this unfairly decides NFL games. He's used this argument multiple times, so Peter sees the NFL overtime system as needed to be fixed because of the doomsday scenarios we have seen where only one team touches the ball in overtime or (God forbid) a team wins on a field goal in overtime rather than a touchdown.

BUT NOW, since networks are worried about making the games too long and having the NFL games extend into their other programming, Peter is pointing out how little overtime actually happens in the NFL. So it happens enough to where the whole system needs to be overhauled, but it doesn't happen enough that the networks should worry about losing money on other programming. That's the premise Peter wants us to buy.

1. I left my Blackberry in a taxi after being dropped at Walter Reed Army Medical Center early Wednesday afternoon. If the cabbie (a nice Ethiopian fellow who coaches youth soccer in Takoma Park, Md.) who finds my phone would be so kind as to contact me at, there'll be a reward in it for him. By the way, I stupidly never downloaded the contact list from the phone onto my computer, so I've got to regenerate my phone list. So those of you who have given me your cell and home and office numbers over the years would be so kind as to e-mail them to me at that address, I'll be indebted. Thanks. And don't worry, I have the phone password-protected. There are some pretty good numbers there, but they won't be falling into the wrong hands.

The password? Brett Favre.

2. Washington has to be the best walking city in America.

The best crawling city? Seattle, Washington.

The best sprinting city? Abilene, Texas

By the way, I've asked my Twitter followers to vote by noon today whether they want me to Tweet on soccer from South Africa between June 10-26 (I'm back home after the Group Stage), or stay idle. I've been overwhelmed with responses since last night, and I'd love to hear from you about whether you want to hear from me on life, coffee and futbol from South Africa, or whether you want me to shut up. Your call. Majority will rule.

Can we get a vote on whether we want Peter to shut up about Brett Favre?

3. I think this Anthony Galea HGH/pro athletes story will touch a lot of people, and a lot of teams, in the NFL before it's all over. The next PED crisis in the NFL is HGH, and we'd all be naive to think scores of players in the NFL aren't using HGH, knowing there's no reliable way to test for it.

If we find out that Miles Austin was using HGH this year, we should have a revote for the Pro Bowl and take Tony Romo out of receiving that honor. Cheaters shall never prosper in the NFL for using PEDs!

I'm going to die laughing when we find out a popular defensive player has been using HGH for 10 years and there isn't a revote for any of his awards or anything. Ok, not die laughing, but the slippery slope I was talking about a few weeks ago in regard to Brian Cushing, this is what I was talking about. NFL players use PEDs and they win awards after using these PEDs. At what degree of separation do we not have revotes for awards to make sure a person in the vote hasn't prospered from a player using PEDs? Should there be a revote if the leading receiver for a team is caught and the quarterback for said team won the MVP? How about if a running back wins the MVP and three of the offensive lineman are caught having used PEDs. Should the 2002 NFC Championship trophy be taken back because three players on the Panthers offensive line used PEDs?

5. I think there's little doubt Wes Welker is ahead of where anyone thought he'd be right now, after February surgery on his knee and shoulder. Three months post-surgery, he was dancing to "You Should Be Dancing'' by the Bee Gees Saturday night at the Magic-Celtics game in Boston, and earlier in the day, multiple reports had Welker moving well and jogging through routes at his football camp in a Boston suburb. He's not playing opening day -- that would be way too quick a recovery -- but it looks like Welker could be back earlier in the season than any of us thought.

Where's a graph breaking down the Patriots passing game with/without Wes Welker? Is that scheduled for next week's MMQB?

8. I think this is just a hunch, but I wouldn't be surprised if Terrell Owens signs with Washington.

Remember the "old" Washington Redskins that signed aging, declining free agent players to long term contracts? That's not the case anymore. The "new" Washington Redskins sign aging, declining veterans to short term contracts and make sure any young receivers they have on the roster have a bad role model on the roster and don't gain experience on the field because Owens is demanding playing time. Things have changed so much in Washington since Bruce Allen and Mike Shanahan took over!

i. And I traded Roy Halladay, in a big package that netted me Pablo Sandoval and Corey Hart, and I picked up Scott Rolen. Had no choice. I can't hit.

Last week Peter traded Felix Hernandez and this week he trades Roy Halladay...for Corey Hart and Pablo Sandoval. I don't know how Peter's league is set up, but in the BotB league Hart is the 153rd ranked player (as an outfielder nonetheless) and Sandoval is the 297th ranked player at first base and third base. Halladay is the 9th ranked player. The best thing Peter did here was pick up Scott Rolen, but I can't believe he traded Halladay for those two piece of crap fantasy players.

Who trades a top 3 Fantasy pitcher for a player who the seller is selling low on and an outfielder that may be on the waiver wire in some leagues? You don't trade Halladay and then buy low on Sandoval! You pick up a player you KNOW is going to be good in return for a pitcher you know is good.

Peter had a choice and I can't imagine Halladay couldn't have gotten him a larger and better package of players.

I've cast my miserable hitting lot with Pablo Sandoval now, who's got to wake up and be the stud he was last year.

Peter traded Halladay for a player who is a risk like Sandoval? But why?

l. I really miss New Jersey. Not enough to move back, but I have so many good memories of the place. The softball. The pizza. The family life. The Star-Ledger on the doorstep. Wouldn't trade our 24 years there for anything.

But what about Boston and all the dogs that can be found there? Isn't that what a home is supposed to be about? Dogs being walked on the streets and a Starbucks on every corner?