Tuesday, August 31, 2010

8 comments MMQB Review: Peyton Manning Doesn't Appreciate Your Rule Changes Edition

Last week Peter King told us that Hines Ward will probably make the Hall of Fame based on what he has done in comparison with other Steelers receivers who are in the Hall of Fame. There was a differing of opinions in the comments on whether Ward is a Hall of Fame candidate based on the fact he was so durable and a good receiver or if durability is a criteria for the Hall of Fame. Either way, Peter knew one thing, and that one thing was that Brett Favre had decided he was coming back to play in the NFL. Fortunately, Peter has some more information on Favre's injuries this week (because we wanted in-depth analysis on all of Favre's injuries) and he wonders how the NFL can make rule changes that would intentionally try to hurt Peyton Manning.

But the most intriguing event of the third round of games has to do with officiating, and the effect of moving the umpire from the defensive to the offensive side of the ball so he won't be such a defenseless target in the middle of pass patterns.

When I was watching the Colts-Packers game last week I thought it was pretty stupid how this rule had the umpire set up. I do have to say any rule change that gets Bill Polian pissed off and publicly whining about something at least has some entertainment value.

I don't want to be too dramatic about it, but it's a virtual certainty that the rule will have far more impact on the Colts than on any other team in football.

First, the NFL doesn't change the way pass interference is called and the Colts lose the AFC Championship game to the Patriots, then the NFL doesn't completely change the way they do overtime in the regular season and the playoffs so the Colts lose to the Chargers WITHOUT EVERY TOUCHING THE BALL, then the NFL doesn't outlaw onside kicks and the Colts lose the Super Bowl, and now the NFL is making rule changes that will hurt the Colts hurry-up offense. The Colts think either the NFL doesn't care to cater to the them very much or they just don't like their team overall.

The Colts aren't asking for special treatment, they just don't want the NFL to make any NFL-wide rule changes that will negatively affect them in the future, and change any rules that negatively affected them in the past.

They won't be able to run their no-huddle offense with the same speed. And the triggerman knows it.

Speaking of the Colts not being able to run their offense with the same speed, it wasn't quite fair that Tracy Porter got to jump Reggie Wayne's route in the Super Bowl. Shouldn't cornerbacks have to count to two before they try to intercept a pass? It only seems fair to the Colts.

Maybe the Colts should put a call in to Marvin Harrison to go to Roger Goodell's office in New York and threaten him with a gun if he doesn't make sure the umpire's position stays the same. Marvin Harrison will fuck Roger Goodell up if necessary.

"If we had this rule last year,'' Manning said Saturday night, "there's no way we catch up in that New England game. We were down, what, 21 points in the fourth quarter? We wouldn't have had enough time to run enough plays to catch up. But forget about that game. Let's chart all the comeback wins where a team runs the hurry-up in the fourth quarter. How many of those games would have ended up the same way -- or would the quarterbacks have had enough time to run enough plays to come back and win?''

(the sound of gnashing of teeth and weeping over the Colts inability to come back after they have gotten behind 21 points to the Patriots at home)

How are the Colts expected to come back and win a game after they have spotted the other team 21 points if the NFL is going to change the rules around to make it harder for them to come back?

I am really in favor of keeping the umpire where he is at behind the defensive line, mostly because I don't know where else he could go and still spot the ball quickly. I think it is inefficient to move him because it will slow teams in a hurry-up offense down. I can't help but poke fun at the Colts though. It could hurt them the most, but it is a rule that will be universal throughout the NFL, and it was a rule designed for safety reasons, not to hurt the Colts.

To recap the new rule: The umpire traditionally was the official who most often spotted the ball, then scurried back about five yards behind the defensive line of scrimmage to watch the play unfold. But last year, keeping with the recent tradition of physical plays against the ump because he was the center of a bunch of offensive crossing routes, there were approximately 100 collisions between players and umps.

One resulted in an umpire needing shoulder surgery, and another ump need knee surgery after being knocked down.

"Ump need knee surgery!" Woman, pass ump food so he can make eat of it and make ump happy. Maybe make forget he need knee surgery.

The Competition Committee, backed by Commissioner Roger Goodell, deemed it a safety issue, so the ump was assigned to a spot about 15 yards behind the offensive line of scrimmage, on the opposite side of where the referee is stationed. The lone exception to the rule happens in the last two minutes of each half, when the league, in a nod to the possibility of teams running a hurry-up offense, will station the umps in their traditional spot, so as not to interfere with the offensive rhythm in a two-minute drill.

You'll never guess who is a Competition Committee member...wait for it...wait some more...Bill Polian is. I really, really hope he didn't vote in favor of this rule and now is complaining about it. I wonder if Polian voted for it?

(spoiler alert)

It turns out he did vote for it.

What's the deal with the NFL creating new rules that only take place in the playoffs or at certain times of an NFL game? Either put the umpire behind the quarterback or put him behind the defensive line. Choose one and make it happen for the entire game. I make fun of the Colts not liking the rule change, but there has to be a more efficient place to put the umpire.

On Sunday I asked the new NFL vice president of officiating, Carl Johnson, about Manning's claim that teams can't run hurry-up offensive series the same way they have in recent years. Which is to say, in a hurry.

"The way the new mechanic of the umpire positioning is, I don't have a resolution to that,'' said Johnson. "It's going to take a couple extra seconds to spot the ball. There's no way around that. But this is a work in progress. We're aggressively seeking ways to improve the mechanics.''

Look at Peter King doing some reporting. Take that Starwood Preferred Member! You've pissed off Peter and now he is doing some actual reporting.

Glad the VP of officiating basically tells NFL teams "you're fucked" when it comes to a hurry-up offense. Nice.

Here's a good way to fix it. Go back to the way it was and tell the officials try not to get hurt when they are standing behind the defensive line and let them know unfortunately it is a part of the job. It sounds insensitive and it is, but it is also the best solution, other than have another official spot the ball. If there were a better solution that would not affect play in the game and could keep the umpire safe, I would advocate for that solution.

Three: Why does an ump have to be so far behind the line of scrimmage on the offensive side? Johnson said he doesn't; one of the tweaks already made to the system says that as soon the umpire is behind the back or quarterback -- whoever is furthest back from the line -- the quarterback can snap the ball without penalty.

So how does the quarterback know the umpire is back far enough? He gets a signal from another official presumably, which means the process is still going to be slowed up in some ways.

Thursday night in Green Bay, the Colts twice got called for "false start -- snap infringement'' for snapping the ball before umpire Garth DeFelice had returned to his position. Once it was because the Colts' Anthony Gonzalez made a questionable reception, and Manning was hustling to the line to try to force the hand of Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy to either use one of his replay challenges or, if he didn't, to get the next play off quickly so the catch would stand. "So not only do we get penalized,'' said Manning, "but now McCarthy has plenty of time to decide whether to challenge the play or not.''

What? So first the officials call a penalty on the Colts and then they still let Mike McCarthy challenge the call on the field? When will this prejudice against the Colts' way end?

"I am dead-set against the penalty,'' said Polian. "It is insane. If I knew it would be this way, I'd have voted against it, and not only that, I'd have crusaded against it.''

So Bill Polian voted for the rule change that he now absolutely hates? How would he have crusaded against it? Would he have held a march with picket signs protesting the rule? I want to know more about the crusade Polian was planning.

For now, I can see some mayhem on the horizon. Indianapolis opens the season at Houston, and the Texans have the ability to play pinball football, scoring early and often. If the Colts find themselves down double-digits in the fourth quarter, I can see Manning wanting to go to a quick-snap set (he might want to in the middle of the second quarter; who knows?) and being frustrated by the pace of the officials.

I admit it is a stupid rule, but how about the Colts try not to get down by double-digits when it comes time to play the 4th quarter? It would fix this problem of having to come back. Would that be too easy to try and do?

I examined Manning's point about the big comeback last November to see about the quick no-huddle he ran. Let say, for the sake of argument, that the re-positioning of the umpire would have taken an additional five seconds per play, with the obvious proviso that on incomplete passes or on plays when the clock was stopped you wouldn't add the additional four seconds. Would the Colts have actually had enough time to rebound from a 31-14 deficit with 14 minutes to play to win?

They had 16 plays. Eight of them were live-ball plays, with the clock running at the end. Considering that Manning bled the clock in the last drive of the game, inside the two-minute warning, it's a stretch to think that 40 seconds would have doomed the Colts that night

So Peyton Manning really had no point. I still don't like the rule but it may end up being an annoyance more than anything else if the officials could find a way to get another official to set the ball.

... though it's possible the Patriots, rested and able to react better to his fast-paced offense, would have made some defensive plays to stop the Colts on one of the three scoring drives.

They would have had five seconds under Peter's scenario to rest on 8 plays. I don't know if that is enough time to be better rested and ready to react better. Maybe the Patriots defense would have had some more time to get set up, but it would have only been a few seconds between each play.

Brett Favre: He's already taking injections in his wounded ankle.

Bengoodfella: He doesn't care.

Hey everyone! Haven't you heard that Brett Favre is injured? He is playing football injured! He'll tell you all about it if you want! Can you believe he is playing football injured? I bet no one else has ever done this!

He said Dr. Andrews made two incisions on the top of his left ankle, where the ankle flexes above the foot, and sucked out the loose bodies. He said Dr. Andrews wasn't surprised a significant spur returned when Favre went for a re-exam a month ago -- but he was surprised it happened so fast. The Vikings will attempt to manage the pain the spur brings on, but Favre said he didn't think he'd take any painkillers stronger than Motrin.

No Vicodin for the pain? He doesn't want to just pop a few? Not even one?

Yeah, I am an asshole.

"It's catching up with me, all this stuff,'' said Favre, who turns 41 in October.

Then fucking retire and quit talking about it. I get so tired of Favre deciding to come back and play and then telling us all how injured he is. If he is injured then just retire or quit talking about being injured.

"My ankle just seems to get easier to sprain. I know everyone thinks the New Orleans game [the NFC Championship Game] killed me, but it was bad before then. Now we'll see if I can make it. My mind's telling me one thing, but my body's telling me something else.''

Translation: Sidney Rice is out for a while and Percy Harvin has a headache, so I had better think of an excuse for why my performance this year could be sub-par. If I play well everyone in the media will say what a warrior I am and if I play poorly...well I am hurt so that is why I played poorly.

I get so tired of hearing about Brett Favre's mind and body telling him different things. Plenty of athletes who still want to play sports in their mind have had to retire due to injuries, but Brett Favre has to be a drama queen and make his decision the most difficult decision in the history of mankind. Favre has announced he is playing this year and he is still waffling on whether to actually play. The decision is made. Shut up and play football.

I've said this all along: This ankle thing's a little different that the weariness he felt a year ago. There could come a time where his mobility is so compromised that Favre won't be able to get out of the way of the rush consistently.

I've said this all along: If Favre is injured and can't play well enough to help the team then retire. Tom Brady plays a season with broken ribs coming off major knee surgery and doesn't utter a word about it, while Brett Favre gets a paper cut and starts doubting his future ability to throw the football, calls an interview to publicly discuss this and then sends out pictures of how deep that paper cut actually was.

Katrina at Age 5: Maybe Mickey Loomis should be executive of the decade.

I'm exaggerating a bit there. The Saints certainly weren't the dominant force of Indianapolis or New England in the past 10 years. Not even close. But if the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Yankees in the World Series next year, wouldn't you give them three times the credit of any other team for winning such a series?

Yes I would, but the Saints aren't the Pittsburgh Pirates of the NFL. It's not even close either. The Saints had a record of 70-74 for 2000-2008 and that's obviously not including their 13-3 record for 2009. They weren't a bad team over the decade. It's insulting to Pirates fans and to Saints fans to compare them to the Pirates at all.

The Saints went 8-8 in 2008, it's not like they even had a losing record the year before they won the Super Bowl.

One NFL medical person -- don't want to be too specific -- told me Sunday that the injury that is apparently plaguing fired Cincinnati wideout Antonio Bryant could be Chondral Defect of the knee. "If you're not looking for it, you won't find it,'' this official said. "It's a long-term knee problem that won't go away.'' The ailment refers to a complicated cartilage injury to the knee. Whether that's the exact injury plaguing Bryant or not, it's incredible that a team investigating a free-agent wide receiver who missed most of 2009 with a knee problem would have passed him on the physical this year,

I'm not defending this signing, because it is clear the Bengals don't seem to know what they are doing when it comes to signing wide receivers, but the medical person said if a team isn't looking for the knee injury they won't find it. So when doing the physical, the Bengals probably weren't specifically looking for it...so they didn't find it.

I just can't figure out why they blew it two years in a row on receivers no other teams were very interested in.

Two years in a row on three receivers no other team was interested in. I lump Terrell Owens in there until he can behave himself for an entire year.

Quote of the Week III

"Stylez is my Allen Iverson ... We're going to tolerate him 'til we can replace him.''

-- Tampa Bay coach Raheem Morris, on his tough-to-coach defensive end with the manufactured name, Stylez G. White.

Based on the fact White is 31 years old and had 6.5 sacks last year as a starter, I would say Raheem Morris only needs to tolerate him until free agency or the draft next year.

Stat of the Week

Anyone else find this weird? Bill Belichick, with 163 victories in 15 seasons, is 14th on the all-time NFL coaching wins list.

Coaches 11 through 13 are all Hall of Famers (Joe Gibbs 171, Paul Brown 170, Bud Grant 168).

Coaches 6 through 10 are all not Hall of Famers (Marty Schottenheimer 205, Dan Reeves 201, Chuck Knox 193, Bill Parcells 183 and Mike Holmgren 174).

This is an example (maybe not a great one) of the Hines Ward argument last year for coaches. While the coaches in spots 6 through 10 are all great coaches, they all (with the exception of Holmgren) coached for a while and were able to accumulate many wins, so they may have been great coaches, but not Hall of Fame coaches. I would say this is the case for Knox and Reeves.

Of course the real reason these coaches in spots 6 through 10 aren't in the Hall of Fame is that three of these guys (Parcells, Schottenheimer, and Holmgren) aren't actually eligible yet. This makes Peter's point much less interesting.

Mr. Starwood Preferred Travel Note of the Week

On a Delta flight from Boston to Minneapolis on Saturday morning, I was sitting on the aisle in coach, my legs snug against the seatback, with an empty seat next to me as the plane filled up. A young man, maybe 25, walked down the aisle, looked at his ticket, looked at the empty seat next to me and, wordlessly, began lifting his leg over my two thighs. The man, whether he could speak English or not, had no intention of motioning for me to stand up so he could get to his seat as a normal human being would.

This is a little bizarre, but maybe the guy assumed because Peter had his legs snug against the other set and the plane was filling up he didn't want to get up? It's not like Peter is the most flexible looking person, so the guy thought rather than be rude and expect Peter to stand up, he would walk over him.

"Whoa, whoa,'' I said, holding my hand up. "I'll get up.''

I got up, allowed the man into the seat, and sat back down. He didn't say a word to me, nor I to him, for the 2-hour, 17-minute flight.

No big deal, I guess. It's just that ... well, who would naturally think to get in a plane seat by climbing over someone, and clearly touching that person awkwardly while grabbing onto a setback for support, and jarring the person in that seat?

Maybe the same kind of person who would sit down on a plane and not immediately get up when it is clear a person is trying to get into the seat beside him? Peter was just sitting there so the guy figured he probably would have to climb over him to get into his seat.

From the sports transactions in Wednesday's Boston Globe:

NFL: Fined Cincinnati WR Chad Ochocinco $25,000 for Tweeting during a prohibited time.

Of course, Ochocinco didn't respond with a quote, but with a Tweet, saying, in part, "Dad, again I apologize 2 you for my Tweet.'' Bengals coach Marvin Lewis, who is never shy about the Chad nonsense, said with a sigh to the Cincinnati media: "It's just Chad doing something stupid again.''

It's good to see Marvin Lewis has complete control of his team. This is the guy the Bengals have in charge of controlling both Chad Johnson and Terrell Owens. Good luck with that.

1. I think I'd be very surprised if commissioner Goodell didn't reduce BenRoethlisberger's suspension from six to four games when they meet in New York Friday.

It looks like Peter should be prepared to be very surprised. (It turns out I was taken by the Mike Wise hoax where he posted a fake report to see how many people would run with it and report it without checking their sources. Sadly, I do feel stupid for not doing a search to get a second report on this, but I also don't really feel bad that I believed what he wrote.)

3. I think the Leinart yanking shows Ken Whisenhunt didn't trust Leinart in 2007, and he doesn't trust him now. How that trust can be rebuilt is the tough question.

The scariest part about this if I was a Cardinals fan is that Ken Whisenhunt trusts Derek Anderson. Maybe Anderson will remember how to play quarterback and succeed in the Cardinals offense, but he hasn't shown he could do this in the preseason yet.

4. I think it's hard to figure out which rookie Jim Schwartz is more excited about -- Jahvid Best or Ndamukong Suh. Best gives the Lions a dimension they just haven't had since (dare I say it?) Barry Sanders. Suh, Schwartz said, "makes some plays in the interior line that Albert Haynesworth would make in his fifth year. He's been amazing.''

Well, the reason Haynesworth made those plays in his fifth year and no sooner is because he was going to be a free-agent soon and figured he had to earn a new contract.

7. I think those C.J. Spiller highlights make me hope, for the Bills' sake, that he can play more than the part-time role his history says he should play. At Clemson, Spiller rarely lugged it 20 times a game, and with the punishment he'll take in the NFL, it's unrealistic to expect he'll approach that workload.

Ladies and gentlemen, the number 9 pick in the 2010 draft...CJ Spiller!

I like how the Bills took a non-franchise running back at #9 in the first round. Yeah, he's a potentially explosive player, but Spiller is a luxury for a team that may not have other glaring needs...or as I call it, "not the Bills."

8. I think that was not a good night for Tim Tebow, even though it ended with a nice touchdown throw to Eric Decker. Easier said than done, but he needs to get comfortable out there. He looked tight and not so athletic against Pittsburgh on Sunday night.

But he is athletic! Don't you remember him athletically running over players in college because he was bigger than them? That's athleticism in being able to run over other players the same size as you.

d. Coffeenerdness: I've got to hand it to Caribou Coffee in the Minneapolis airport on Sunday morning at 5:45. You guys make one heck an oatmeal at that hour. Good little latte too. Got me started pretty well on a jammed-up day.

Perhaps Peter should try this site for his compliments to Caribou Coffee.

Is there anyone that reads this and says, "Holy shit, I find it so interesting Peter King had good oatmeal and latte at Caribou Coffee early in the morning. I want to know more about what kind of good food and drink he has had lately."

I didn't think so. I doubt Peter's life is so interesting anyone truly cares what he had to drink or eat.

e. The question is no longer whether John Lackey's worth $16 million a year. It's whether he's worth $1.6.

Well, the good news is that he is signed until he is 36 years old. The Red Sox always wanted to be just like the Yankees, well now they are. Now they get to miss big on expensive free agents just like the Yankees!

(Though I bet Lackey could bounce back next year, so I wouldn't completely write him off yet.)

f. Manny. White Sox. Afterthought.

Naturally. Where do the White Sox even play?

h. Very good to be with you, Tim Sweeney and company, to support Youth Care, the Boston charity helping kids with Asperger's Syndrome. Good cause. Fun night. Nice striped bass. Thank you.

Thanks for the great service Waffle House. I really enjoyed the food and cold coffee you served me. Great times. Dirty table. Was afraid to take a shit in the bathroom. Appreciate all you do.

j. Good luck at Oberlin, Emma Goldstein. You too at Marquette, Tess Quinlan. And Tess, how long did it take you to know 64 other frosh? Fifteen minutes?

Email. Learn it. Use it. Thank you.

k. I wish I could give you more this morning, folks. The SI mag preview issue, out Tuesday, has kayoed me. Will try to be back longer next week.

"Sorry for half-assing this part of my job, but another part of my job has taken up my attention and I am not capable of doing both, but I still want you to think of me as valuable to the company."

I try to use this excuse at work everyday and don't get very receptive feedback from management.

l. Did Pete Thamel write the entire New York Times sports section Sunday or what? Bylines from three time zones! That has to be a record, Pete. Good job.

Holy shit, Pete. Great job. Peter King didn't even know there WERE three time zones in the United States.

Monday, August 30, 2010

6 comments NFC South and NFC West 2010 Preview

I am going to do something a little different today. I am going to take more time writing MMQB this week and post it tomorrow, rather than today. So I am still posting MMQB this week.

Dylan and I did another podcast previewing the upcoming NFL year. This time we focused on the last two divisions we needed to cover, the NFC South and the NFC West. I hope you enjoy the chat. A couple notes of course.

1. I think I surprised myself with my Super Bowl pick.

2. There I go defending Matt Leinart again. It is almost like Woody Paige and Tim Tebow, but please know if the Cardinals had a better backup than Derek Anderson I would say Leinart needs to get benched. I think mention how much Anderson sucks 2-3 times (per minute).

3. I talk bad about the Saints and then say they will go 10-6 and say wonderful things about the 49ers and have them go 9-7 in a weak division. Go figure.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

9 comments Some Favre Hate, Orton's New Contract, and a Peter King Mailbag

This is the daily reminder I have set up a College Football Pick 'Em League for Yahoo. I have set it up against the spread and the games we will be choosing are Top 25 games and games the Yahoo editors choose as "worthy" of being chosen. The ID is 1704 and the password is "asu." Feel free to join and it doesn't take long each week to pick the games.

Also, don't forget the BotB Fantasy Baseball draft is tomorrow. Those who want to attend feel free to. I probably do better when I am not drafting the players and just get the players the computer gives me.

I didn't have one article I wanted to cover today so I thought I would go ahead and cover three articles. Besides, it is Saturday and the few people who read what I write probably don't read on the weekend anyway, so I could pretty much write anything I want. I am covering the Peter King mailbag from this past week today, and I don't plan on doing this every week, but I thought it was relevant this week.

1. I am going to start off with Mark Bradley who continues to please me with his unabashed Favre hatred. He is one of the many who recognize the Favre-drama has a partner in ESPN, yet this is something ESPN doesn't seem to really care about. I think they just want Favre to work for them as an NFL analyst once he decides to retire.

Because I was feeling guilty over my sudden dislike for LeBron James, who up until “The Decision” had done nothing to make me think he was a bad guy, and now my default dislike position has been reset.

LeBron James has been dropped to second on the list. Brett Favre is again the athlete against whom I root the hardest.

This is a consensus among NFL fans. Favre has gotten to the point where I actively root against him and many others do too. The difference is that six years from now everyone else will remember Favre for being a great player and not recall the soap operas he dragged the public through for three summers. I will still think of him as a selfish asshole because really that's what he seems to be. He and ESPN can't seem to recognize this.

Brett Favre is a handy combination of everything I value least in sports. He’s not as good as advertised,

I disagree with this statement as it pertains to last year. Last year, Favre was as good as advertised, but the few years before that he wasn't that great. So I can believe he wasn't as good as advertised a few years over the past five years, but not last year. I think Favre is going to go back to the "not great" level this upcoming year. That's my personal opinion, even if that also happens to be my wish as well.

and yet he’s one of the handful of neo-athletes — LeBron, Tiger, T.O. and A-Rod would make up the remainder of the top five — around whom the Worldwide Leader has decided the world indeed revolves.

It is annoying, but I can't completely blame ESPN. They get ratings with these players because those who love them and those who hate them feel strongly, so they tune in. ESPN follows the money and the advertising dollars, so from a business standpoint I can't really criticize them for that.

The problem is that ESPN is a sports network, even though they do have the word "entertainment" in the title, they are mostly a sports network...or they should be. The network is built around "SportsCenter" which is a sports show, but over the years they have seemed to care less and less about sports and more about creating corporate synergy with ABC and focusing on certain stories the rest of the world is tired of. They really have no interest anymore in leading off "SportsCenter" with the most popular or most exciting sports event of the day if there is a soap opera they can follow instead.

It is a sports network, but when it comes to Favre-Watch or "The Decision" journalistic integrity and the sports aspect takes a back seat to following a soap opera and getting in bed with the most popular basketball player in the NBA. They not only report on the stories, but now they are giving the athletes a forum to create the story. So ESPN is the reporter of the story and the facilitator of the story. They gave LeBron James and Brett Favre a forum to create news and essentially have tied ESPN's reputation (in the case of James) to how well "The Decision" was handled by those people who run LeBron James' life.

There are times when I think that if Favre didn’t exist, ESPN would have just invented him. Then I correct myself: ESPN did invent him, like Dr. Frankenstein and his henchman Igor conjured up their monster.

Don't get me wrong, other news outlets reported on the Favre story, but no other outlets reported with the fervor and saturated the airwaves with coverage of the Favre story. The story became overblown because ESPN and Brett Favre let the story become overblown. It got to the point, ESPN was running AS NEWS on their "bottom line" that Favre had not made up his mind. In other words, they reported there was nothing to report.

Favre is to blame for his selfish, drama-queen tendencies, but it doesn't become a story if he doesn't have a microphone to talk into. If Favre talks and no one is there to listen, the outcome of the story doesn't change, just the maze of shit the public has to go through to get to the outcome changes.

2. Here is another story I have talked about a lot on this blog and that is the Broncos quarterback situation. Much to the chagrin of Woody Paige, Kyle Orton has signed a contract extension worth $9 million next year. It is only for one year and $5 million of it is guaranteed. It is not a long term commitment, but I wonder if this tells us Tebow isn't progressing as fast as the Broncos had hoped?

This surprised me and told me a little bit about the rose-colored glasses Woody Paige and other Tebow-devotees are looking through. Orton was a free agent after this year. There will most likely be some labor strife in the NFL. As has been described many times, Orton is not a franchise quarterback, so I imagine if there was no labor stoppage the Broncos could have re-signed Orton after this year. I have talked at length about how certain journalists can't be impartial when it comes to Tim Tebow because they tend to get personally involved with his place as the future starting quarterback for the Broncos.

Woody Paige thinks Tim Tebow should start now. If Tebow is ready to start NFL games now, why would the Broncos sign Kyle Orton to a $9 million extension for next season before even knowing if there will be a next season? This deal didn't need to get done immediately, they could have waited another month or two and gotten the deal done. It tells me that those who looked impartially at Tim Tebow saw that he was a project quarterback who would need some work before he is ready to start in the NFL. He may be a great NFL quarterback, but it doesn't look like he will be great this year.

If Tebow was on the cusp of starting for the Broncos, why sign Orton and make him one of the most expensive backups in the NFL? I am not knocking Tim Tebow, just again focusing on the way the media has portrayed him as the franchise savior for the Broncos when that doesn't seem to be the case right now. From seeing Orton signed for next year at such a high price ($5 million of it is guaranteed), it tells me the Broncos aren't sure Tebow is ready to start right now and somehow I think that puts them in the minority. This deal didn't need to be done right now, yet it got done right now. A good backup is important, but I am not sure it is this important, especially for a head coach who prides himself on grooming quarterbacks.

Here is what a Tebow-devotee (Woody Paige) has to say about Kyle Orton:

Last year, his numbers were impressive — 3,802 yards passing, 21 touchdowns, 12 interceptions, a 62.1 percent completion average and a QB rating of 86.8.

But the only number that really mattered was the same as jersey No. 8.

When Orton played in 2009, the Broncos won eight games.

Orton is not a star quarterback and isn't the only player who played for the Broncos on offense last year, so naturally we should blame him for the Broncos going 8-8.

Yet, with all those accomplishments, Orton has appeared in this number of postseason games: zero.

This is what Orton has to deal with in Denver. Bears fans will remember Orton would have appeared in a postseason game against the Panthers in 2006 if the Bears hadn't given the job to Rex Grossman prior to the game, despite the fact Orton had started for most of the season. So as bad as Orton was that year, he led the Bears to a postseason game even if he didn't get to appear in the game.

Tebow is a winner and Kyle Orton isn't. That seems to be the argument to start Tebow this year.

3. Now on to Peter's mailbag for this week.

No Sidney Rice after hip surgery, maybe for half the season. Maybe no Percy Harvin in any particular week because of his migraines.

The fairy tale season from last year doesn't seem to be happening for the Vikings this year. The Vikings had some good luck last year in the injury department and counting on Bernard Berrian and Greg Camarillo isn't something they will want to do all year.

You're Brad Childress game-planning for the season, knowing Brett Favre's two favorite targets are major health questions. You're Favre, knowing the same thing. And you're nervous.

How much do we want to bet that Favre will unretire this year or that ankle injury will start acting up on him? I know Favre is already going through a mental list of reasons why he didn't have a good year.

Now, Favre and Rice bonded in a short period last fall as well and as quickly as I've seen a quarterback and receiver bond. I'll never forget their 45-second embrace in the locker room after the loss to New Orleans in the NFC title game.

I can see Peter hiding behind a column in the locker room, peeking around the corner of the column and spying on Favre and Rice watching them embrace. I have $100 that says Peter teared up at some point.

It was clear how close they had gotten in just five months, and there's no doubt in my mind that losing Rice will have a major impact on Favre's season, and the Vikings' ability to do multiple things in the passing game.

We all know if Rice misses the first half of this season it will be the first time in the history of the NFL a team has had to play ANY part of the season without their best receiver. I can't believe the Vikings were the first team to lose their best receiver during Brett Favre's (possibly) last year as a professional player. They are cursed! Call Bill Simmons so he can create a fake corollary that pertains to this!

Look for far more reliance on Visanthe Shiancoe --and the hope that a miracle drug can be found for migraines. Because Minnesota needs Harvin to have a clear head for at least the first half of the season.

One other thing: Check out the Vikings' schedule for the first two months of the season: at New Orleans, Miami, Detroit, bye, at the Jets, Dallas, at Green Bay, at New England. You tell me how big a loss Sidney Rice is, staring down the gun at the toughest first two months of any team in football.

This is why it is so hard for NFL teams to do well from year to year. The best teams get the hardest schedules the next year and have to hope they don't have injuries that can affect the talent level and depth of the team. The Vikings almost made the Super Bowl last year, naturally they will get a more difficult schedule.

There have been plenty of other teams that are dealing with injury issues on their team, so it is not like the Vikings are the only team that have to use their backups. At least they have a Hall of Fame quarterback who can make the other receivers better, right?

I know Kurt Warner has said he's retired, and he's never given one iota of a hint that he'd reconsider. But if I'm Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt, and I've just watched the horror show at quarterback that I watched last night, I've got to at least call Warner today and ask if there's any way he'd reconsider his decision.

(Now I will somewhat defend Matt Leinart and as I wrote this, I saw this had happened. I remain firmly unconvinced the Cardinals will start Derek Anderson over Matt Leinart in the first game of the season. I'm not saying Leinart may not get released or traded, but I don't believe Anderson will start over Leinart. As bad Leinart has looked in the preseason, from what I have seen Anderson has looked worse.)

I have to agree the Cardinals offense looked terrible, but it is the preseason. I don't know what the fine line between getting into a panic and realizing it is preseason so not worrying too much. There have been many quarterbacks who look bad in the preseason, but few teams are game-planning and the games don't count. I realize Peter probably secretly wants Kurt Warner to come back so his good buddy Brett Favre isn't the only quarterback who waffles about retirement, but would Warner even be in playing shape?

A better idea would be to give the Vikings compensation for Tarvaris Jackson (as noted by Dylan in the podcast) or even Sage Rosenfels. Either of these players could compete for the starting quarterback job in Arizona if given a few weeks in the system. They wouldn't be ready to play immediately, but it is an idea. I think this is a better idea than hoping Warner comes out of retirement. That's if the Cardinals are really worried, which I am not sure they should be at this point.

Leinart looked uneasy against Tennessee in his three series with the first unit; he showed little confidence.

I watched the 2005 National Championship game and saw Leinart throwing bullets all over the field to his receivers. He didn't make just the easy throws either and he even made some good reads. So I am saying I still sort of believe in him a bit. I know I may be the last person to believe in Matt Leinart, but I don't know if his performance in the preseason means he will be terrible in the regular season. It may, I guess we will find out.

Warner twice last night tried to throw cold water via Twitter on any chance he'd play again. "OK, y'all... I am watching game... I am not coming back... and I would still appreciate your help! LOL, sorry guys, u know def of 'retire'?'' Meaning, "Do you guys know the definition of 'retire?' '' I'd still make the call if I were Whisenhunt.

At this point, could Warner even come back and play at the level he played at before? Why would he come back? He has a history of concussions and in his last game as a pro he was popped very hard by a Saints player and laid on the ground for a while. I think Warner is done.

It's nearly too late in the season now to trade for a quarterback, though if I were the Cardinals I would dig around, but if Warner isn't coming back, then the Cardinals are stuck with Leinart and Anderson. I don't know how much the preseason really means when it comes to judging these quarterbacks.

Ross Tucker and I had former Redskins Executive VP Vinny Cerrato, who signed Albert Haynesworth, on Sirius NFL Radio this morning. I asked him if he still thought the Haynesworth signing was a good idea, with all the hubbub between the unhappy defensive tackle and coach Mike Shanahan now. "At the time, we did it, yes,'' said Cerrato, who was dismissed by Dan Snyder last December and replaced by Bruce Allen. "We had been struggling on defense, and getting the most dominant player [in free-agency] at the time to upgrade the defense, yes, it was a wise move.''

This is one of the reasons Vinny Cerrato wasn't a great Executive VP for the Redskins. Haynesworth was the most dominant player in free agency, but you can't make decisions like this in a vacuum. The fact Haynesworth had caused the Titans problems in the past, his stepping on the head of Andre Gurode, and the fact he seemed to only play hard in contract years are all reasons why the Haynesworth signing wasn't a no-brainer. These are the type of things that should be weighed before the Redskins decided to sign Haynesworth. It's fine if they decided Haynesworth was worth the risk, but Cerrato can't act like there were never warning signs around Haynesworth before they gave him a huge contract.

But now? Would Cerrato do it again? "Would I do it again, with all this stuff? That's a different story. That's Monday morning quarterbacking.''

No, it is not Monday morning quarterbacking. It is expecting you to do your job as the Executive VP of the Redskins and do all your homework on a player before you sign him to a huge contract. It is not like there were never signs Haynesworth was a malcontent, so there isn't any Monday morning quarterbacking in this situation. The signs were there, the Redskins ignored the signs and decided to give Haynesworth a big contract. The criticism would be unfair if Haynesworth was a perfect citizen with the Titans, but that's not the case. I am not saying anyone could have foreseen this exact scenario but Haynesworth had questions surrounding him when he was a free agent, so any criticism of his signing is just criticism.

It is, but it's still interesting that the Redskins paid an unreliable guy $35 million in the first 17 months of his contract, and he's been, well, unreliable.

Exactly. Vinny Cerrato can't get from under this decision simply because he was blinded by Haynesworth's talent. Problems from Haynesworth wasn't a certainty, but anyone who took a look at his career stats (which the Redskins may not have done) can see he is unreliable.

It irritates me when executives sign a unreliable or previously crappy player who doesn't work out with the team and then acts like it was a shock the player didn't perform well.

"Your discussion of the short shelf life of RBs brought to mind a question I meant to ask Dr. Z: Do you think a one-year sabbatical would help extend the career of a running back? Say after a player's first contract is up, the RB takes a year off to heal. I know it may seem impractical, but would one year off add two or three more productive years on the back end?''

--Bill, South Windsor, Conn.

The problem with this idea is the player has taken a year off from playing in the NFL and one year of recovering may not equal two or three more productive years. It is not like running backs who carry the ball a lot, eventually get 100% healed. Also, why would a player take a year off after his first contract is up, essentially ruining his contract leverage and not maximizing his value by signing a second contract AFTER he has taken a year off?

PK: I think it would obviously help the back heal, but it would also present a difficult problem for planning your roster. Let's say you're a GM, and you draft a back with the plan to have him play every other year, and sit out/train/rehab in the alternate years. First, it's going to create a problem in the locker room, because players at other physically punishing positions will ask: "Hey, what about me? Why's the running back position such a prima donna position?''

I would think some NFL players would understand given the shelf life of a running back, but many of the other players would not understand. More importantly, I don't get why a running back would retire for a year when he is playing for a new contract.

Even more importantly, I don't think Peter understood the question. This guy was asking about a running back taking a one year sabbatical, not only playing every other year like Peter suggested.

And the other problem, I would think, would be if a back came out of his rookie season with just a bump or bruise, and by March 1 is healthy as a horse. Why keep him out of the lineup?

We are talking about a one year sabbatical, not a running back only playing every other year. Obviously if a running back isn't hurt at all then he could play in the upcoming year.

"Do you think the actions by Brett Favre over the last two years (holding out of training camp, on purpose) will result in any new rules set forth by the owners that a player under contract must attend all organized team activities or be fined accordingly? It just seems that Favre is setting a precedent, where other players will follow, that will anger management and the fans alike by putting themselves above the team."

--Paul Haering, Woodbury, Minn.

PK: You raise a great point. And in the future, I think the Vikings might pay for putting one player so far above the team.

Thanks for not answering the question Joe Morgan. Peter didn't answer the question at all.

Players do hold out of training camp and they get fined for it. So there are players who hold out of training camp on purpose, but they get fined. I don't think there should be a rule set forth by the owners or anything like that, but teams should probably know when a player is holding out intentionally and decide if they will let a player get away with it or not. The Vikings decided they would let Favre get away with it and this was a team decision.

Enjoy the weekend (or what's left of it) everyone.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

19 comments Decent Ideas Intertwined With Idiotic Thinking...It's the TMQ AFC Preview!

TMQ triumphantly came back last week and his return this week to actually talking about the NFL is well-received by me. Contrary to the latest discussion by Bill Simmons about Jennifer Aniston's ovaries, I prefer talking about sports, so we have an NFL-related TMQ to chew over this week and that makes me happy. Whenever I do TMQ, I always end up with a few Easterbrook fans, which isn't a negative thing. The two biggest criticisms I have gotten from those who like TMQ usually go one of two ways.

First, they will mention it is his article and he can talk about whatever he wants. I agree, he can talk about whatever he wants, and I can call whatever he talks about stupid or mock it. He has a right to write about it in his column and I have a right to mock him. Second, I will hear that if I don't like him (and pretty much everyone I cover here), then why don't I just ignore what they write? I did ignore this bad sports journalism through most of my life and now that I am aware it exists, I can't ignore it. I have a hard time leaving things alone and I enjoy (in the way of not really enjoying it) seeing what Gregg comes up with from week-to-week.

Anyway, let's get on to Gregg's AFC Preview.

In 2008, only seven NFL teams rushed more often than they passed. In 2009, the number fell to just four -- Carolina, Cincinnati, Jersey/B and Tennessee. Maybe this is because, as the Football Outsiders website long has contended, establishing the pass has more tactical value (because of more yards gained per attempt) than establishing the run.

This could very well be true, but I still believe at some point a team has to run the ball to succeed in the NFL. I may change my point of view sometime before I die, but not too much before that time.

There are still teams that run the ball well who do well in the playoffs. Gregg is conveniently ignoring the Jets were in the AFC Championship Game last year with the #1 running offense in the NFL and the Giants had a strong running game when they won the Super Bowl two years ago.

Maybe it's because rules changes (no contact with the receiver after 5 yards, no head slaps by pass-rushers) encourage the forward pass. Or maybe it's because linemen are now so big.

The first reason Gregg gave is perfectly understandable, the second one is not as much. Defensive linemen are bigger and so are offensive linemen. So while the bigger defensive linemen plug up the hole the running back would go through, the bigger offensive linemen could theoretically push the bigger defensive lineman out of the way and make a bigger hole I will say I am not trying to nitpick Gregg as much this year, so it is possible the fatter linemen fighting each other gives the running back less room to run through a hole being created by the offensive line. I can see this happening, so maybe Gregg is right.

Ultimately, the fads for pass-wacky offense and spreading the field might be driven by the fact that offensive and defensive linemen have gotten so big that there simply isn't as much running room inside the tackles.

Count me in as slightly skeptical of this conclusion. This is possible, but I also happen to think the advancement of the passing game and the rules that help out the offensive in the NFL have more to do with the lack of teams running the ball. Though I think much of anything like this is cyclical in the NFL and good NFL teams will still have to run the ball.

Because of this decision, Rolle lasted until the sixth round -- NFL scouts and touts thought placing education over football made him weird. What it made him is smart!

OMG! I bet Myron Rolle can understand hundredths and tenths of a second and why they are important in sports. What makes Myron Rolle smart also makes Gregg Easterbrook pretty ignorant!

But shouldn't Rolle now be listed as a graduate of Oxford, not of Florida State? He holds a master's in medical anthropology from Oxford. It is his highest degree earned, so he should be listed as, and referred to as, an Oxford graduate.

No, he should not be listed as having gone to Oxford. Myron Rolle is not using his degree from Oxford at this point and was drafted by the Titans after having played football at Florida State. He played football at FSU and was drafted to play football, therefore the Titans put FSU as where he graduated from. I think we would use the higher degree if we weren't talking about sports, but wherever a college player played the sport he is turning professional in is usually the school a team will say he graduated from.

Baltimore Ravens: Everybody's fixating on the $32 million the Redskins have paid Albert Haynesworth the past year in return for nothing. How come Terrell Suggs is getting a free ride from the media? Last summer, Suggs, a pass-rush specialist, signed a deal with $39 million guaranteed -- and he already has the $39 million, as it was a rare front-loaded deal.

Nitpick time: I don't know if he already has the money. He is getting $33.1 million in bonuses over the first two years of the contract, so that was for 2009 and 2010. He didn't even get $39 million upfront and I don't know if all that money has been given to him at this point. So Gregg's number is incorrect and I don't think Suggs already has that full balance of $33.1 million.

Suggs registered 4.5 sacks in 2009, or $8.7 million per sack.

He also missed 3 games due to injury, which was a first in his entire career. He had played all 16 games every year prior to that. Also, Suggs had hurt his toe and knee last year in training camp, and I am pretty sure those two body parts are helpful for a pass rusher to succeed in the NFL. Injuries aren't an excuse, but are a potential explanation for his down year.

This winter, with the $39 million already banked, he celebrated by skipping minicamp.

It was not $39 million, it was $33.1 million. This criticism of Suggs goes over much better when Gregg bases his criticisms on the right contract numbers.

Suggs skipped minicamp and this is just a typical Gregg Easterbrook statement that intends to mislead the reader. Terrell Suggs is in the best shape of his career and even the coaching staff notices this. So he did skip minicamp, but that doesn't mean he is out of shape or is a malcontent like Haynesworth. The comparison ends here.

Gregg loves to say something like, "Suggs missed minicamp" leading the reader to believe Suggs is unhappy or is not in shape, when that isn't the truth.

Suggs has been nearly as much of a disappointment as Haynesworth.

No, he hasn't. Haynesworth's attitude is the disappointment, not his performance. Suggs is not a disappointment because he was injured last year and has shown up ready and willing to play well this year. Haynesworth skipped minicamp and has made trouble for Mike Shanahan all along the way.

Together, they form an argument against guarantees in NFL contracts.

The NFL is the only professional sport among the Big 3 major sports in the United States that doesn't have guaranteed contracts. If a MLB or NBA player signed the contracts Suggs and Haynesworth signed, then their teams could not cut them and would usually have to pay them every last dime. Football is a much more violent sport than baseball and basketball, yet it doesn't have fully guaranteed contracts. The NBA and MLB would be better examples of why parts of a player's contract shouldn't be guaranteed.

Regardless, the Ravens come into the season looking stacked. How about some trick plays? In the 2009 regular season, they threw a few trick plays into the mix, then went vanilla in the playoffs.

They didn't need trick plays to beat the Patriots. I don't know the obsession some people have with trick plays. I don't recall the Saints, Vikings, or Colts using a great amount of trick plays last year and they did fine. If those teams didn't have to use trick plays, why should other teams have to?

See, I am using Gregg's own reasoning that if a team made the Super Bowl or AFC/NFC Championship game doing something then it is a blanket rule that "something" always works. He did it at the beginning of the column to show that the NFL is switching to a more passing league and good teams won't need to run the ball as well in the future. I obviously don't believe trick plays should never be used, but I like to use Gregg's own bizarre reasoning against him sometimes.

the Bills have wasted first-round choices on busts Mike Williams, J.P. Losman and John McCargo and spent lottery-level first-round choices on Donte Whitner, Marshawn Lynch and Aaron Maybin, all of whom, in 2009, were kept on the bench by undrafted free agents.

Which is, of course, proof in Gregg's mind that undrafted free agents are better players than highly drafted and highly paid players, but not proof the Bills are terrible at drafting good players...which is the conclusion I come to.

Now the coach is Chan Gailey, whose credentials are strong.

He is 18-14 in the NFL. He isn't a terrible coach, but I wouldn't call his credentials strong.

Last year, Edwards was the NFL's shortest passer in an ultraconservative offense, with only 11 percent of his pass attempts traveling more than 20 yards. Winning NFL teams -- New Orleans, Minnesota, Indianapolis, New Orleans -- do not play ultraconservative, as the Bills have for several seasons.

It's tough to throw deep when your offensive line doesn't block for the quarterback and there are no receivers on the roster (other than Lee Evans and Terrell Owens) who make the defense respect the deep pass. It is more of a personnel problem than a play-calling problem to me.

Ochocinco might give the best Twitter of any pro athlete.

What the fuck does "give the best Twitter" mean? You don't GIVE Twitter to someone, like it is an STD or a present.

Last season, the Bengals faced a meaningless season-finale game against the Jets, rolled over, and the next week lost again to the Jets at home in the playoffs: two losses to Jersey/B in consecutive weeks, by a combined 61-14 score. Not trying to win that season-finale game surely was a factor in Cincinnati's early playoff exit.

I am sure it was the only factor in the Bengals early playoff exit. Otherwise, the Bengals would have beaten that crappy Jets team that almost made the Super Bowl and had the #1 defense and rushing offense (wait, so teams CAN win running the ball?) wouldn't they? Those Jets would have lost to the Bengals if only the Bengals had tried harder the week before when those two teams played. Did the Eagles not try hard enough to beat the Cowboys and that is why they lost in the playoffs to them?

If Gregg's theory isn't pure idiocy then why the Cardinals beat the Packers in the Wild Card game this past year after they lost 33-7 the week before? Shouldn't they have gotten beat the next week in the playoffs since they didn't try against the Packers in Week 17?

This season, Cincinnati plays at the Jets on Thanksgiving night. The Bengals had better have that contest circled -- it could define Cincinnati's season.

I can't even comment on how stupid this comment truly is.

Cleveland Browns: What is it that new Browns president Mike Holmgren saw on tape of Jake Delhomme that no one else sees?

Delhomme is having a pretty good preseason. I know Gregg doesn't know this, but it is true.

Holmgren has continued the yard-sale ethos. The net is that Cleveland has surrendered two recent first-round choices (Quinn and defensive end Kamerion Wimbley), plus fourth-, fifth- and seventh-round draft choices, for Sheldon Brown, Peyton Hillis, Chris Gocong, Seneca Wallace, third- and sixth-round choices and a conditional pick from Denver in 2012. That's an awful lot of roster turbulence.

Does it really make sense to keep a bunch of players on a shitty 2009 Cleveland Browns team? What part of that team last year was supposed to make Mike Holmgren think he didn't need to make any changes? In fact, if Holmgren did not overturn nearly the entire roster he should have been immediately fired. Roster turbulence is great when a team is trying to get rid of shitty players and build a winning team.

this year, two high-profile quarterbacks were brought in (Tebow and Quinn)

It doesn't matter if they are high-profile if they aren't good at playing quarterback. High-profile just means they are popular players, not necessarily effective players.

while defensive starter Elvis Dumervil was granted a monster contract and almost immediately lost for the season to injury.

I am sure this was completely intentional on Dumervil's part.

Denver now has three prominent, big-salary quarterbacks on its roster (Kyle Orton, plus Quinn and Tebow), but only one established player at guard (Chris Kuper). McDaniels had four No. 1 choices in his first two drafts, and used three of four on a quarterback, running back and wide receiver. It's a lot more fun to draft quarterbacks, running backs and receivers than trench performers.

I'm nitpicking again, but for fear of defending Josh McDaniels, I have to say if he is going to get rid of great offensive players he has to try and replace them somehow. That means he has to draft or sign in free agency these replacements. He may have a shitty plan in my eyes, but it does make sense. The offensive line in Denver isn't terrible either. I don't know how much work should really have been done to the offensive line when McDaniels has stripped the offense of most its weapons.

In 2008, the final season for Shanahan and Cutler, Broncos coaches called 693 passes (counting sacks and scrambles) and 397 rushes -- 64 percent passes. McDaniels came in vowing to establish the rush, and in 2009, he and his staff called 612 passes and 420 rushes -- 59 percent passes. That's not much difference.

It actually is a fairly significant difference. The Broncos had about 5% less offensive plays in 2009 over 2008 and they called for 5% more rushing plays than the year before. It's not a huge, huge difference but there is a difference to be seen here.

The Colts have shown that a mature winning team does not need a strong rushing attack to advance to the playoffs, but the Texans are not a mature winning team.

Do you know why they aren't a mature winning team? Because they haven't won a playoff game yet. Once they win a playoff game they become a mature winning team. If this doesn't make sense to you or you don't understand what a mature winning team is, don't worry, it is gibberish.

Indianapolis Colts Last season, the Colts opened 14-0 and closed 2-3. Guess that pretty much settles the argument about whether a team that has locked up its best playoff seed should stop trying to win.

This one example absolutely proves the rule is correct. Possibly Gregg would be more correct if he mentioned the Saints also rested their players and won the Super Bowl, but he prefers just to use this one example and say it settles an argument that can never really be settled.

Then later when Gregg is talking about the Colts he says,

Reggie Wayne was criticized for dropping the touchdown pass that would have given Indianapolis a last gasp in the final minute, but why wasn't Manning criticized for his bad fourth-quarter pass that was returned for a touchdown? Why wasn't Jim Caldwell criticized for putting the Colts into the tank late in the season

I guess that doesn't settle the argument about whether a team that has locked up a top playoff seed should continue to try and win? Why should Caldwell be criticized for this if the argument is settled it was the right call?

All this bad-vibe blame assigning -- but only to lesser persons, not to Manning or the coach -- is not a good harbinger for 2010.

I guess Bill Polian should have called out his Hall of Fame quarterback for throwing a bad pass. I am sure that would have been a great harbinger for 2010.

In the past two drafts, Jax used two first-round, one second-round and two third-round choices on offensive and defensive tackles. In the previous draft, counting trades, Jax spent first-, second-, third- and fourth-round choices on defensive ends. And this offseason, Jacksonville signed defensive end Aaron Kampman to a big-bucks free-agency deal. So far, there isn't much return on the investment.

It's going to be hard for Kampman to give the Jaguars return on the investment since not a single NFL game has been played yet. Can he wait to criticize players for not playing well until AFTER the season has started?

New York Jets: Since Rex Ryan took over the Jersey/B Jets in winter 2009, you'd think the emphasis would have been on defensive trench types.

Holy shit, that's exactly what I think. He's like Bill Simmons, he always knows what I am really thinking.

You'd think wrong:

Gregg outsmarts me once again.

Jones is 32, Tomlinson 31, and tailbacks tend to tail off at age 30. But we forgot -- Jones didn't play much in his first two NFL seasons. If you use carries and receptions as a rough approximation of how many times a back has been hit, Tomlinson has been hit 3,410 times in the NFL, Jones 2,569 times. That's 25 percent fewer hits on Jones, suggesting that Jones might have more yards left in the tank. The contracts signed by Tomlinson in Jersey/B and Jones in Kansas City were similar, so in effect the Jets traded Thomas Jones for LaDainian Tomlinson. In star-power terms, the Jets came out ahead; on the field, the Chiefs might benefit, at least in 2010.

I agree with Gregg on this. Tomlinson is pretty much done I believe. If anything saves him this year it will be that the Jets offensive line plays well.

Then again, in preseason games, Jets offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer has twice sent Tomlinson deep on "wheel" patterns. LT never ran deep pass patterns at San Diego, only screens and flares.

NEVER. Tomlinson NEVER ran a wheel route. All of his 3,955 receiving yards with the Chargers came on two types of passing plays.

The Dolphins tended to fade in the fourth quarter, being outscored 140-116.

They were outscored by 24 points over a 16 game season in the fourth quarter. It's not a good thing to be outscored in any quarter, but it doesn't really point out to me incredibly strongly the fourth quarter was the main source of the Dolphins problems last year or anything.

Actually, I bet Tony Sparano dressed too warmly for games and that caused the Dolphins to fade in the fourth quarter.

New England Patriots: By trading away veterans (Richard Seymour, Deion Branch) and endlessly trading down, New England attained a phenomenal 15 choices in the first three rounds of the past three drafts -- yet which of those guys can you name?

We all know name recognition is simply the best way to judge whether a player is any good or not.

The guys Bill Belichick chose with his extra selections so far have been injured or duds: Terrence Wheatley, Shawn Crable, Kevin O'Connell, Brandon Tate, Ron Brace, Tyrone McKenzie, Darius Butler, Pat Chung.

I am pretty sure five of these "duds" were drafted in the 2009 draft and have played one full season in the NFL. It's a bit early to call them duds or be too negative about them isn't?

Last season, the Flying Elvii had a severe lack of impact players, and no one from all those extra second- and third-round choices is threatening to become an impact player.

(Gregg Easterbrook looks into crystal ball, tries to see the future, but can't because five of these players haven't played more than one year in the NFL. He can't see the future, so he goes ahead and makes this prediction regardless)

The Patriots are one of the league's oldest teams;

Just to give a little more background on this, which Gregg refuses to do, the average age in the oldest and youngest team in the NFL only differs by 2.33 years. What's really important is at what positions are teams old.

Perhaps Belichick's strategy of endlessly trading down for extra picks reflects his awareness of a need to remake the Patriots roster: Belichick has banked extra first- and second-round choices in 2011, too. But if instead he had traded up for someone explosive -- C.J. Spiller, Dez Bryant -- New England's prospects might be brighter.

I think Belichick's strategy isn't the greatest strategy, but Gregg is being pretty critical regarding the makeup of a team that has gone 21-12 since their 18-1 season.

Last season, the Patriots had no offensive coordinator, with Belichick covering that post; this season, they also will have no defensive coordinator. It's Belichick, Belichick and more Belichick -- no coordinators.

TMQ has been complaining for years that NFL clubs are overstaffed at coach, since it's hard to believe a head coach needs 19 more coaches, which is how many Mike Shanahan has at Washington, including a safeties coach, a tight ends coach and an assistant coach for the special-teams coach. Belichick is veering to the other extreme.

Gregg goes to great lengths in his TMQ to point out how many pointless coaches are on staffs around the NFL, then when a coach has a small staff he complains about that. What is the optimum amount of coaches on a team that satisfies Gregg Easterbrook? I would love to know that number.

Raiders fun fact No. 4: I like the Rams over the Raiders on Sept. 19 -- because Oakland has lost seven consecutive home openers.

Of course you do. Team talent level means nothing in situations like this.

Weasel Coach Watch: Clancy Pendergast accepted a job as secondary coach of the Raiders, then two weeks later quit to become defensive coordinator at Cal. George Edwards accepted a job as defensive coordinator at Florida, then quit two weeks later to become defensive coordinator for the Buffalo Bills. One week before training camp began, Titans running backs coach Kennedy Pola quit to become offensive coordinator at USC.

Two of these moves were promotions. I have a hard time arguing a coach is a weasel in some situations where they take a promotion.

The latest example came over the winter when Henry Holt withdrew a book called "The Last Train from Hiroshima," which contained extensive fabrications regarding the Hiroshima bombing. Holt said it did not question the book because the author, Charles Pellegrino, had "a long history in the publishing world." He does have a long history -- as a science-fiction writer!

I am not defending publishers for not doing research or Pellegrino, but he has a long list of non-fiction books he has written as well. So he isn't purely a science-fiction writer.

Why do the Chargers of late perform well in the regular season then wheeze out in January? Maybe it's the San Diego lifestyle: They want to take off the athletic tape and hit the beach. Or maybe this team lacks mental toughness. All football games are hard physically, but playoff games are notably harder mentally than regular-season games. The further into the postseason a team advances, the more important psychology becomes -- because if you lose, you are embarrassed and your season is over, whereas if you lose in the regular season, that's annoying, but maybe you'll play better next week.

Wouldn't the Chargers, if they bought into the San Diego lifestyle, have a better record in the playoffs since there is more at stake then? If the team wants to hit the beach, wouldn't this be evident during the regular season when if they lose a game, "that's annoying, but maybe you'll play better next week?"

I would think if the Chargers wanted to be beach bums that would affect the regular season more than the playoffs, since those games are less crucial according to Gregg, so therefore the Chargers would be lazier about preparing for them according to their "San Diego lifestyle."

Turner ordered the Chargers to punt from the Patriots' 36 yard line. It was the conference championship -- the Super Bowl invite game -- and the Chargers' coach quit on the game with 9:21 remaining. Plus, no one went nuts on the sideline when Turner ordered the punt unit onto the field:

How dare the Chargers not publicly question their coach's decisions in the AFC Championship game! These players should do the right thing and show up their coach.

The veteran players should have insisted on going for it.

Obviously they have the "San Diego lifestyle" disease.

Jeff Fisher has the third-most wins of any active NFL coach -- trailing Belichick and Shanahan, with an outside chance of passing the latter this year.

An outside chance of passing Shanahan? There's almost no chance. Jeff Fisher is at 136 wins and Shanahan is at 146 wins. I doubt the Titans will win 11 more games than the Redskins this year.

It's great that he has stayed in one place so long and won so many games. But Fisher hasn't won a Super Bowl -- 16 years of trying, no ring.

It's pretty clear Fisher sucks as a coach based on this.

Tim Roberts of Waxahachie, Texas, reports, "On June 28 the trailer was released for 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows' Parts 1 and 2. Most of the trailer focused on Part 2's action sequences -- though Part 2 isn't set to be released until July 15, 2011. The trailer was advertising a movie that is more than a year away from theaters."

Isn't that against the law or something? I'm glad Tim Roberts "reported" this to us. Movie teasers have been misleading the public for way too long.

Tara McCook Segal of Arlington, Va., writes, "In Tysons Corner Center, just outside D.C., on Aug. 9, I took the accompanying picture. It's a Christmas store with a Halloween sign in the window: two forms of creep occurring simultaneously. Even creepier, the Halloween store sign says, COMING IN SEPTEMBER."

Has no one who reads TMQ ever heard of advertising or marketing? A Halloween store will open earlier than the week before Halloween, this is just rational business, and if a new store is coming, malls traditionally announce what the store will be and when it opens well before it does open so the public is aware and chooses to come to the store. It doesn't make business sense to secretly open a Halloween store on October 24th.

Many readers, including Laticia Gayle of Atlanta, noted that the NBA had the Heat and Hawks replay the final 52 seconds of a game after a gross officiating error.

We had this discussion last week about turning over games that were decided on the last call, but this doesn't fit the definition. Gregg (again) misleads his audience. It was not an officiating error that caused the replay of the final 52 seconds, but an error by the official scorer. The official scorer is not an official, so I wouldn't categorize it as an "officiating error," which makes it sounds like the game officials screwed the final 52 seconds up. It was the official scorer who worked for the Hawks, so you can see the problem when the Hawks benefited from his error.

Cory Soukup of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, notes, "There have been many instances where a baseball game ended and the official scorer later that day, and sometimes the next day, changed a hit to an error or vice versa. This creates precedents of game rulings changed after the game concludes."

There is a difference in changing a hit to an error, which is a call by the official scorer, and changing an umpire's call. The official scorer and the umpires are two different people employed by different groups who are held to two different standards.

Next Week: NFC preview, plus only 487 shopping days till Christmas 2011.

I can't wait. I think we should get an MLB-NFL summit together. Joe Morgan and Gregg Easterbrook talking about their respective sports...and Chris Berman can be the moderator.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

4 comments NFC East and NFC North 2010 Preview

Dylan and I are back with the first part of this week's NFC Preview. We were going to do it in haiku form in an homage to Gregg Easterbrook but decided against it. I know you were all concerned about this, so don't worry, I still ramble a little bit. I hope you enjoy the podcast and the NFC South and NFC West will be posted later this week.

Of course I can't just submit a link without commentary, so here are few of my self-conscious thoughts:

1. I have grown more and more confident by the day on my Raiders 8-8 pick. I don't regret much of the picks I made the other day, though I did like the Dolphins a bit much.

2. We did this before Sidney Rice was announced as injured. I won't change my pick, but combining his injury with Percy Harvin's headaches and I don't know how good I feel about the Vikings this year compared to the record I predicted they would have. The fairy tale ends this year and then Brett Favre will announce he wants to play for a different NFL team, retire, and then sign with a different NFL team.

3. We bust out the tissues for Donovan McNabb. Eagles fans may disagree.

4. That turnaround you heard was me liking what Mike Shanahan did with the Redskins. Of course it will lead to a couple barely above .500 years and then Dan Snyder will get angry and fire him, but for this year, I like them.

5. I hope you enjoy it and I tried to improve my voice, but it didn't work. Oh well.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

8 comments Joe Morgan May or May Not Have Chatted This Week...It's Too Early To Tell

Last week in his chat Joe Morgan was hit with a ton of JoeBait questions. He managed to avoid some of them and then gave his typical non-answer to the others. All in all, it was a successful chat for Joe because he spoke in generalities and cliches, though he did manage to slip in that the Texas Rangers definitely have a chance to win the ALCS and the World Series. I am sure he will take this comment back in the very near future. This week Joe picks a player to start a team with and wants us all to know the regular season is not over, so quit asking him to make predictions about which teams will make the playoffs.

Buzzmaster: We're getting Joe right now!

The Buzzmaster then mutters under his breath, "and by 'getting' Joe 'I mean teaching him how to use a computer and explaining the questions to him.' When will FoxSports get that application and call me back for the associate editor position I want? I'm at the end of my rope here."

JM: The Mets have had a lot of injuries the entire season to some of their main players. Beltran just got back. Reyes was out for a while. The latest is K-Rod being out for the season. You just look at the Mets and wonder how they will regroup for next year.

They'll probably regroup this year just like they regrouped last year when they had a ton of injuries to key players. It's not like the Mets don't have a talented and fairly young core in Reyes, Wright, Davis, Thole, Pelfrey (assuming he pitches a little better than he has recently), Parnell, and Pagan to build the team around. The Mets had a ton of injuries last year and they managed to regroup for this year fairly well.

I know K-Rod is injured, but that injury was completely different from the injuries Reyes and Beltran suffered since it didn't really happen on the baseball field.

This year is just about shot.

Did Joe Morgan just count out the Mets for this year? Was this a prediction of some sort that indicates he is giving his opinion? Joe Morgan thinks the Mets are about out of contention and they were 11 games back as Joe did this chat and 10.5 games back today, so they may be out of it, but I can't believe Joe made a prediction.

Nick (MN)

Hey Joe, big series starting tonight between the Twins and White Sox. If the Twins sweep do you think there will be much of a race in September between these two teams?

I'm at the point, I don't even know why anyone asks Joe a question and expects an actual answer.

JM: It's still too early to count anyone out who's in contention.

Except for the Mets. The Mets year is shot according to Joe. We can go ahead and count them out since they aren't in contention.

If the Twins swept the White Sox they would be 7 games up in the AL Central. The Mets were 11 games back when Joe wrote this. The difference is four games and Joe doesn't count the Mets as being in contention so...if the Twins had have swept the White Sox, it doesn't seem like it would be a great race in September.

They will have a lead if they sweep, but it won't be over if it happens.

If the Twins had swept the White Sox, it would be very close to be over though wouldn't it? The White Sox are now 4.5 games back, but if the Twins were 7 games ahead, that wouldn't have been an easy comeback for the White Sox to take the division.

Tito (Brooklyn)

Hi Joe, do you think the Mets should try to void K-Rod's contract?

(Joe Morgan) "I'm sorry, who is K-Rod? Is he related to Ivan Rodriguez, Alex Rodriguez or ChiChi Rodriguez?"

JM: I don't think you should do that. I think you should fine him.

I don't know why Joe is talking in the second person to Tito right now. I hope he is aware Tito (or commenter Martin F, as he revealed himself to be last week) is not Omar Minaya or in any way related to anyone in the Mets front office.

They're not going to void the contract of Coghlan, when he hurt himself trying to put a pie in his teamamte's face.

Chris Coghlan plays for the Florida Marlins, not the New York Mets. Different teams have different standards their players are expected to meet. I don't know what the Marlins not voiding Coghlan's contract has to do with the K-Rod situation in any manner.

Chris Coghlan threw a pie in the face of a teammate and got hurt, while K-Rod tried to beat the shit out of his father-in-law. One player got injured pulling a prank on a teammate and the other person (essentially) got injured committing a crime. I think there are two separate events that require two separate punishments based on the fact Chris Coughlin was not arrested for assault when he threw a pie in his teammate's face. How can Joe not see the difference in these two situations?

(Joe Morgan's wife calling for him) "Hurry Joe, our daughter Deborah just stabbed the Hendrix's son in the face with a carving knife. He's bleeding badly, let's get to the hospital."

(Joe and his wife drive the kids to the hospital)

(Joe and his wife are sitting in the waiting room when Mr. Hendrix approaches Joe) "I am filing charges against your daughter. Where did she get the carving knife from?"

(Joe Morgan) "I'm not sure exactly where the knife was made, it may be on the handle of the knife, so I can't really answer that question."

(Mr. Hendrix) "Quit with the bullshit. Obviously it is your knife and you let your 10 year old daughter run around with it? I am pressing charges and you or your daughter are going to jail."

(Joe Morgan) "Now wait a minute. That's not fair. You didn't arrest our other daughter when she got mud on your carpet, so why would you arrest Deborah for stabbing your son? If you didn't arrest her for getting mud on the carpet, I don't see how you can arrest her for stabbing your son."

(Mr. Hendrix) "You're an ignorant asshole. Your daughter just attempted to murder my son and you can't see the difference in what happened here and getting mud on the carpet?"

(Joe Morgan) "Other parents have had their children injured outside while playing with other children and they didn't get arrested. I don't see how you can have my daughter or me arrested here. Good day sir, I have a chat with ESPN I must do now."

(Mr. Hendrix) "I'm going to sue your ass in court."

(Joe Morgan tips his hat at Mr. Hendrix as he starts to walk away) "That must be an urban term for playing basketball. I'm sorry, but I don't play basketball anymore. Maybe we will play catch one day. You'd want to play catch with a legend wouldn't you?"

One was on the field, but the result was still the same. You fine him and move on.

The result was the same, so the punishment shouldn't be more severe? Say I accidentally fall out of a tree climbing with a friend and break my arm, the result is the same if someone comes up to me and hits my arm with crowbar so it breaks...does this mean the person who hit me with a crowbar shouldn't get arrested? One incident involved a pie in the face and the other incident involved a domestic incident. The outcome shouldn't matter, because it is the action that took place in each where one action was a crime and the other wasn't.

Other people have had domestic problems and their contract doesn't get voided.

Like who? Who has domestic problems and gets injured during these domestic problems and hasn't gotten their contract voided?

Mike (Jersey)

Do you think that the Phillies catch the Braves?

JM: If Howard comes back right away, he may be able to come back today along with Utley.

Utley has come back and Ryan Howard seems to be coming back in the next week or two. So he will be back soon.

If they get their full team back healthy, I think they will catch the Braves.

I don't know if any team in the majors has their full team healthy right now, but I will assume Joe is referring to Ryan Howard and Chase Utley being healthy. So the full team appears to be coming back healthy, so does this mean Joe Morgan has accidentally made another prediction? Last week he said the Rangers definitely have a chance to be in the ALCS or the World Series and this week he says the Phillies will catch the Braves.

He didn't mean to make this prediction, but he ended up doing so.

Harold (Wausau Wisconsin)

Joe-You are one of my favorite people in baseball. How do you feel about expanding replay in the playoffs and not the regular season?

If we asked Joe to make a list of his favorite people in baseball he couldn't do it because, "I don't know everyone who works in baseball."

I think expanding replay in the playoffs and not the regular season is pointless. Expand replay in the regular season too or don't expand it at all. That's my position.

JM: That would be better than trying to expand it during the regular season. If it were in the playoffs, I wouldn't have a problem with it.

How is expanding replay in the playoffs better than trying to expand it during the regular season again? Wouldn't it make sense to expand replay during the regular season so all the kinks are worked out before it is used in the playoffs?

I'm not a big fan of it to begin with it, but in the playoffs, I don't have a big problem with it.

I don't understand how Joe can not be a big fan of replay, but doesn't have a problem with the use of replay in the playoffs. I realize in the playoffs the calls made by umpires need to be correct, but wouldn't it make sense to use instant replay in the regular season to work out any kinks and for the umpiring crew to get used to it?

A lot of people are saying to have a replay system with challenges like the NFL. That's OK if you're just trying to get more of them correct and not all of them correct.

How many replays does Joe think there will be every game? Five or six of them? There may be one or two replays a game. I am not advocating a replay system like the NFL, but probably won't be any more than a few replays a game. NFL coaches are given a total of four challenge flags to throw, I think that would be sufficient number for a baseball game.

Tito (Brooklyn)

Do the moves the Dodgers made at the deadline look a little silly now considering that their playoff chances are close to zero? They got older and more expensive and lost a few cost-controlled younger players just for a couple of rentals in Dotel and Lilly.

JM: The one pickup I liked was Ted Lilly.

No one asked Joe what pickup by the Dodgers he liked. Tito asked Joe if the Dodgers look stupid for making the deadline deals they did because they took on salary. They took on Lilly and Theriot's salary for this year. Granted, Lilly is a free agent after this year, but Theriot is eligible for arbitration and made $2.6 million this year. The Dodgers gave up Blake DeWitt, who was under team control for a while and is probably a better player than Theriot. It's a legitimate question, just not one that Joe Morgan feels the need to give an answer to.

I know he's going to be a free agent and they may be renting him, but at the time they were in it and had a shot.

The Dodgers were 7 games out of first place in the NL West when they made the trade. They are currently 12 games out of first place in the NL West. Being 7 games out of first place on July 31st is still in the hunt, but it is pretty on the fringe of the hunt.

But I agree some of the other pick ups, I don't like as much as the Ted Lilly one.

Who were the "other pick ups?" Octavio Dotel? Ted Lilly was the Dodgers big pickup at the trade deadline, there weren't too many other deals they made by the Dodgers.

Mike (Jersey)

Does Minaya have to consider "blowing up" the Mets? This core doesn't seem to be able to get it done.

JM: Because they're in New York, you can't just blow it up and rebuild.

I think the New York fans could handle starting over in New York as long as their is a clear picture of where the team wants to be and a plan to get there sooner rather than later.

That's the problem. You have to keep trying to work things around. You can't just blow it up and start over. But they do have a situation where it looks like they should.

So the Mets should blow it up and start over, but the fans are preventing the Mets from doing so? Does Joe think the Mets do what is best for the team or what the fans want them to do? As long as there is a plan in place, I think the Mets fans would be able to accept a slight rebuilding.

Maybe I am wrong.

Xander (Philly)

With the season winding down, who do you see as the 4 NL playoff teams?

Here is the thing about asking Joe a question like this...you won't get an answer and even if you do get an answer Joe will change his mind the first time one of the teams goes on a two game losing streak.

JM: I picked the Giants to make the playoffs at the beginning of the season. I'm not sure that prediction is going to come true now.

I enjoy how Joe can say that he isn't confident in his prediction the Giants will make the playoffs anymore when they are 1 game behind in the Wild Card standings, yet he doesn't want to count out the White Sox if they had gotten swept by the Twins and ended up 7 games behind in the AL Central. He also just told us the Mets should possibly blow up their team and they were 8.5 games out of the Wild Card when Joe wrote this. Joe's mind is all over the place.

Consistency may be Joe's mantra, but it certainly isn't what he practices.

The Padres, Reds, Cardinals and I'm still thinking Philadelphia might sneak in there.

This sounds like an actual prediction from Joe. I am shocked.

But it's still hard to pick because there are still a lot of games left.

There we go. It is hard to pick, which is why Joe just picked.

Kyle (VA)

Joe, what do you make of the close division races this year? Just a cycle or a change in the game?

JM: I don't believe it's cyclical in that the game has changed in that there are no great teams any more. There are a lot of good teams, no great teams.

Why does Joe always talk about how there are no great teams anymore because the divisions are close? Maybe that means there are MORE great teams than there used to be. Parity doesn't always mean teams are not great teams, just that teams are closer to each in other in regard to talent level. There can be parity where the teams are better than they used to be.

It's not a bad thing that some divisions aren't won by 10-20 games every single year, even though Joe thinks this is a bad thing.

There have been a lot of teams that were grea,


the Yankees, Cardinals, Red Sox in the past. But now they're all going to stay close together with the parity.

But this doesn't mean there aren't good teams anymore, it just means teams are closer in talent level to each other. There can still be good teams in the majors and not have a situation where one or two teams dominate the standings from year-to-year.

Matthew (Columbia, NJ)

Hey Joe, does Roy Halladay have a legit shot at the Cy Young Award?

JM: He definitely has a chance, but he has a lot of losses.

That's a good point about the losses...if losses were the sole criteria to be used to determine how good a pitcher is, which doesn't happen, so it is actually not a good point. Halladay has 8 losses, but a 2.16 ERA and a 1.03 WHIP. I'm going to say the 8 losses aren't a big deal considering his other statistics are great, especially knowing he has 8 complete games this year.

I don't know what they look at for the Cy Young Award any more, because last year Adam Wainwright should have won the Cy Young.

We have been over this before, no Wainwright should not have won the Cy Young last year. I know what they look for in the Cy Young Award. They look for the best pitcher in the National and American League, not the pitcher with the most wins, but the best pitcher overall.

Adam Wainwright had 8 losses last year by the way. Tim Lincecum had 7 losses. So Joe can't even stick to his own archaic, backwards-ass way of measuring how good a pitcher is over the length of a season.

I think he should win it again this year.

Wainwright is having a great year and I am not sure I can argue with this right now. It's a tough race between Halladay and Wainwright. The one thing I am sure about though is that I am absolutely thrilled the Braves traded Wainwright for one year of J.D. Drew. It's like the Mark Teixeira trade before the Mark Teixeira trade, just on a smaller scale and with less prospects that were given up by the Braves.

Mike (Jersey)

What's your thought on why pitching has been so dominant this year?

JM: There are a lot of reasons. The hitters have something to do with it.

You don't say? You mean the hitters have something to do with the dominant pitching this year? Joe Morgan gets paid very well to make statements like this.

Part of my thoughts is that the hitters have too much information at the plate now. There is too much what going on in their heads.

Leave it to Joe Morgan to think that having too much knowledge is a bad thing. Knowledge is a weakness in Joe's mind. Why doesn't this surprise me?

Also, the pitchers have widened their repertoire. Every pitcher coming up now has a change up. That's been the biggest plus for pitchers in years.

So the key to the dominant pitching this year is the changeup? That's the explanation? Does Joe believe pitchers are just using their changeup more effectively this year?

Tito (Brooklyn)

Do you think about the punishments given out for the Reds/Cards melee? Were they appropriate or fair in your view?

JM: As far as the games given to Cueto, I think they had to make a point. But if you look at the situation, and I was there, he was pinned on the net with no where to go and guys were swinging at him.

So of course Cueto started drop kicking everyone he could see. Naturally under Joe Morgan's Theory of Law that throwing a pie in someone's face out of jest and assaulting another human being is really the same thing, he wouldn't have blamed Cueto if he had opened fire on the other players with an Uzi. AS LONG AS NO ONE DIES, THE OUTCOME IS THE SAME!

There was no place for him to go and he was backed up and guys were swinging at him.

It's good to see that Joe Morgan can throw aside all favoritism towards the Reds and talk about this situation without bias. It was Chris Carpenter according to Joe that was the real instigator, while Cueto just had to go Bruce Lee on everyone's ass to defend himself.

Sean (Kansas City)

Mr. Morgan, I've been a life long Royals fan! What in the world do they need to do to be a contender?

JM: Well, I think it's easier now more than four years ago when there were some great teams out there.

What does this even mean? It isn't easier to win baseball games now than it used to be 40 years ago. The fact there are no great teams has no bearing on what the Royals need to do to be a contender.

They beat the Yankees and shut them down a few games ago.

The Royals beat the Yankees in one baseball game. To Joe Morgan, this is a sign there aren't any good teams anymore, which means the Royals have to do less to compete. He gets this conclusion from one game where the Royals beat the Yankees.

I think they can move forward now because the bar is not as high as it was.

This is bullshit. The 1976 Reds would not be able to beat the 2009 Yankees in a seven game series. I said it and I think I mean it. I know I sound crazy to some people.

Let's think about this. Joe says MLB is weaker now because there aren't great teams, all the teams have the same talent level? Doesn't that mean there are better teams now then there used to be because teams like Joe's 1976 Reds can't get easy wins over bad teams? The "great" teams in Joe's generation were great because there wasn't as much parity and every team didn't have a certain talent level. There may have been a select-few teams that were elite teams, but there was also less parity. That's why teams were so far ahead in their division during 1975 and 1976, there wasn't as much talent throughout baseball. Joe pretty much admits this by saying there is more parity in today's game, yet he also says teams "in his day" were better teams. Maybe they were "better" because there weren't as many talented teams as there are in 2010. The crappy teams were much crappier than they are today, which means the better teams in 2010 have to work harder to beat the crappy teams than they did in 1976. It's just a theory of mine.

If they make the right decisions with personnel, which is always the key, they have a chance. KC has made a step in the right direction by signing their No. 1 draft choice.

Translation: I haven't seen the Royals play this year so I can't tell you what is wrong or right with them or even what direction they are headed.

Jason (Memphis)

Joe, I really appreciate a HOFer taking the time to chat with fans each week during the season. If you were GM for an expansion team - which current player would you take - assuming everyone was available?

JM: Very good question. First of all, the toughest positions to fill, and to fill with superstars, usually is shortstop.

That isn't at all what was asked. What position is the toughest to fill isn't the correct answer to this question. Not even close. Joe would make a terrible General Manager. He would choose the best player at the hardest position to fill rather than choose the best player overall.

If you're starting a team from scratch, and using that philosophy, I would look at Starlin Castro and Elvis Andrus,

If you are starting a team from scratch using that philosophy you are also an idiot. I feel like I have to add that.

Also, Starlin Castro and Elvis Andrus over Hanley Ramirez? How the hell does this make sense? I don't care that Starlin Castro and Andrus are young, I wouldn't pick them first if I was choosing a shortstop.

but, that said, Jason Heyward, Austin Jackson, Mike Stanton would probably make me change my mind and I probably would take one of them. Right now the edge would go to Heyward.

Sweet Jesus. What a terrible, terrible choice in my mind. If you are choosing a rookie, I think you go with Stephen Strasburg, but if you are trying to put together a winning team, the answer to this question would be a guy like Miguel Cabrera or Albert Pujols, even if they are "older." Hell, choose Joey Votto, but don't choose a guy who hasn't even played an entire year in the majors yet.

Heyward, Jackson and Stanton may end up being great players but they haven't proven themselves to be building blocks in any fashion. The correct answer here is not these guys and it certainly isn't in any freaking way Starlin Castro or Elvis Andrus.

Every week Joe tops himself with the stuff he writes.

Mitch (Boston)

Mr. Morgan, although the red sox are still dealing with major injuries and 5 1/2 games out, do you see them making a playoff apperance

JM: Yeah, the Red Sox are definitely going to get better. Especially when they get Youkilis and Pedroia back.

The problem is that Youkilis may not make it back until the postseason. So it will be hard to rely on him to help the Red Sox win the AL East and make the playoffs when he may not make it back to the baseball field until the playoffs.

They'll have a run in them. I definitely don't think they're out of the playoff race.

I don't think Joe knows if he thinks they are out of the playoff race or not. He know he has broadcast a few Red Sox games this year and that is about it.

Justin (Baltimore)

What do you think of the job that Buck has done in Baltimore?

JM: I'm a big fan of Buck Showalter as a manager, but let's wait and see.

"I think Buck Showalter is a great manager, but I don't want to say that just in case I am wrong. Giving an opinion, even when I feel strongly one way about something isn't what I look to do as a baseball analyst."

(Jon Miller calling a Sunday Night game with Joe) "Beckett is looking a bit tired out there to me. Do you think he is tiring Joe?"

(Joe Morgan) "Well, I can't really answer that because I haven't heard his postgame interview yet. It looks like he is tired, but let's wait and see what he says."

(Jon Miller) "And Beckett has passed out on the mound! He is on the ground and his eyes are closed. He must have been exhausted. What do you think Joe?"

(Joe Morgan) "He very well could just be asleep on the mound Jon. Let's wait and see if he is taking a nap or was truly so tired he passed out. It's a bit early to make an assumption that he was tired."

(Jon Miller) "His uniform is soaked with sweat though Joe, and he has thrown 136 pitches."

(Joe Morgan) "Maybe he gets night sweats. You never know. It's too early to say for sure."

They've done that, but let's be honest, this is not a great team. They went 7-1 at one point, but I can guarantee that at some point they will go 1-7.

I like how Joe can guarantee us the Orioles will go 1-7 at some point. He is completely unable to make the prediction about who should win the MVP or make any other prediction even though the season is 80% complete, but Joe has no problem making a prediction that at some point the Orioles will go 1-7.

Give Joe some information about whether a team will win the division or not (based on that team's record) and he will refuse to make a prediction, but Joe is willing to make a guess at a team's record for any stretch of the year without really thinking about it.

I want to reiterate the fact that none of the races are over yet.

I want to reiterate the fact no one said the races are over yet. People are merely asking you questions about who you believe will win each division race.

We still have a long way to go.

No, we actually don't. It is near the end of August. There is not a long way to go until the baseball season is over.

Don't count your team out.

Unless you are a Mets fans or an Orioles fan. Joe has already counted those teams out in this very chat. He may change his mind next week, but he doesn't know yet. It's too early to tell.