Sunday, October 31, 2010

4 comments ...And From the Heavens Came a Tebow To Rescue Us All From the Sin of Losing

It's that time of the week again. It's time for a Denver columnist to suggest that the Broncos start Tim Tebow. I will apparently be writing about this continuously until it stops...and it must stop at some point. This time it is Mark Kiszla, and not Woody Paige (who seems to have learned that Orton should and will be the starter), who suggests this desperate move.

The title of this article is "McDaniels' Last Salvation--Tebow," which buys into the whole "Tebow is a Christian" theme where there seems to be an almost Christ-like adoration from those who write about him. I can't help but laugh at the use of the word "salvation" regarding Tebow becoming the starter. The use of semi-religious imagery when talking about Tebow is great in my book (by "great" I mean "slightly nauseating).

Kyle Orton is done as the Broncos' quarterback. He just doesn't know it yet. So what's the hang-up getting the Tim Tebow era started?

That small little detail that Tebow doesn't seem to be ready to be the starting quarterback of an NFL team yet. There is also the detail that Kyle Orton hasn't been the reason the Broncos have been losing games. The Broncos defense has given up 24, 14, 27, 20, 31, 24, and 59 points this year. They have won two games. I will let you guess which games they won based on the points they gave up.

(Spoiler alert: It's the two smallest numbers: 14 and 20)

As bad as the Broncos have been so far, the leader in their division is 4-2 and there doesn't seem to be an extraordinary strong team in the division. The division is still there for the taking. Sure, it will take some work, but it could be had. Orton is worth much more as a starter right now and Tebow will learn much more not being on the field right now as well.

Coach Josh McDaniels doesn't have the guts to tell his players their NFL season is dead.

NFL players aren't stupid, they would know if the season was over. So they know, they don't need a sports columnist telling them this. Putting Tebow in the game wouldn't do anything to make the players think the season is not over.

Good heavens, can Tebow save us from this mess?

He uses the word "heavens" when talking about Tebow. Every column pertaining to Tebow is like an allegory.

The humiliation of a 59-14 loss to Oakland will forever be stamped like an "L" on the forehead of Orton so long as he wears a Broncos uniform.

There's no bouncing back from this? Much like when the Cardinals got beat 47-7 by the Patriots in December 2008. Kurt Warner immediately went home and committed suicide...wait, no that's not right. The Cardinals recovered a few weeks later ended up going to, and almost winning the Super Bowl. So yes, there is no recovery from this loss if you want to be a drama queen about it.

It is not Kyle Orton's fault the defense gave up 59 points. He threw one interception. He could not have been able to keep pace with an offense that scores 59 points. Anyway, the Kyle Orton era is over because the Broncos defense sucks.

This defeat will leave a scar on true blue Broncomaniacs, and the rout was on from the instant Orton threw a pick-six that staked the Raiders to a two-touchdown lead before Denver could run its second offensive play from scrimmage.

Clearly, it is Orton's fault then. He gave up one of those pick-six's that results in the other team scoring 52 points for one interception. Notice the Broncos were already down 7 points when he threw this back-breaking did the other 45 points get scored? Is that Orton's fault too? Why do I get the feeling if Tebow was the QB then this article would be about how bad the defense was and how they let Tebow down by not supporting him?

His role is as a gimmick. That should not be the role of a first- round draft choice on a losing NFL team.

This statement leads to two conclusions:

1. The Broncos coaching staff has no clue how to evaluate quarterbacks by not knowing Tebow would play well while on the field.

2. Tim Tebow is not ready to be on the field as a starting quarterback.

Only Tebow can save McDaniels now.

Tebow can "save" McDaniels. He is EXACTLY like Jesus Christ, just much better looking and with bigger biceps.

But here's the tricky part: If Tebow can't play, then McDaniels is done in Denver.

Here's the really, really tricky part: What???

We won't know if Tebow can play for at least another season or two. How is this such a difficult concept to grasp? McDaniels may be done in Denver, but even if Tebow came out and looked good, if the defense isn't holding up its end of the deal then McDaniels still gets fired. It's like zero Denver-based sportswriters can understand this. Tebow was a first round pick, but he isn't ready to start right now. He may turn out to be a great quarterback, but it is going to take time to find out for sure. So it is borderline retarded (and I don't mean to insult any mentally handicapped people by comparing them to what Mark Kiszla is writing) to think if Tebow can't play THIS YEAR then he is a bust and McDaniels should be fired based on this.

McDaniels could have given the die-hards one reason to cheer by inserting Tebow at quarterback. McDaniels never made the move. Stubborn and stupid is no way to go through life.

Stupid and wrong is much more preferable to Kiszla.

"That's not really the time that I'd want (Tebow) to get work," said McDaniels, explaining why Orton played to the bitter end, at a time when the only dramatic thing Orton could have done was get injured during the final minutes of a blowout.

It sounds a little bit like Kiszla was hoping for Kyle Orton to get injured. If so, that's not cool at all.

What hope does McDaniels have to sell to franchise owner Pat Bowlen or all those people who bought No. 15 jerseys after Tebow was drafted?

It has not even been 7 months since Tebow was drafted. Give Tebow more time. Josh McDaniels is paid to win football games, not make the fan base happy by allowing the players the fans want to see in the game. If McDaniels panders to the fan base then he should just go ahead and fire himself. It doesn't matter how many jerseys with No. 15 on them were bought if Tebow isn't ready to be an NFL starting quarterback. That's the bottom line. Pander to the fan base and get fired. Make smart football decisions and you could still have a job.

I know what you are asking yourself? What does Peter King think about all of this? Peter was asked about whether the Broncos should switch QB's in his MMQB mailbag and he said:

If Orton is benched anytime soon, McDaniels should be fired. I believe his job is safe after the season unless he has a few more Sundays like the one he just had. Re the D, I think the losses of Elvis Dumervil and Robert Ayers have been debilitating.

This is coming from a Grade-A Tebow lover. Peter has been on record as saying he thinks Tebow appears to have a bright future in Denver. He also knows it wasn't Orton's fault the game ended up the way it did.

Although they have a flight scheduled to London, the Broncos aren't going anywhere this season.

Seriously, this was a sentence in this column. The Denver Post's editors have essentially given up by now, between editing crap like this and Woody Paige's columns.

Finishing 8-8 would be a major accomplishment. So why not let Tebow actually throw his first NFL pass or start his first league game?

Because 8-8 could win the division. I don't see the logic that because the Broncos are struggling they should put their second best quarterback in the game. Mark Kiszla is talking about sending messages to the team, what kind of message does that send to the defense? Does he believe they will try harder if Tebow is out there? Does he has some inspirational skills that will help the defense play better?

"Hey, I know you guys have been struggling defensively, but I am going to make your job a little bit harder. Don't bother thanking me, that look of disgust is thanks enough."

After a great showing in September, Orton has completed a pathetic 41 percent of his passes for an average of barely 200 yards per game in consecutive losses to the New York Jets and Raiders that have ripped the heart from Denver's will to win

This is shitty journalism at its best/worst. The Broncos offense had 5 turnovers in those two games. They had 8 fumbles in the game and lost 4 of them. The team around the quarterback position was bad as well in both games. Orton threw one interception and put up 20 points against the Jets. He could have played better in that game, but it is not just his fault the Broncos lost. The game against the Raiders is in no way his fault because the Raiders scored 59 points on the Broncos. That's not on Orton.

As soon as McDaniels gives a start to Tebow, the coach basically informs 37-year-old safety Brian Dawkins and 34-year-old nose tackle Jamal Williams the Broncos are playing for a future in which it's impossible to imagine how they fit in.

And this would be a good thing for the Broncos? So the solution to the problem is to insert Tebow as the starting quarterback so the offense can regress and the defense can become demoralized?

Go with Tebow as the starter, and Bailey might be glad Denver pulled that offer of a contract extension from the table, so the veteran cornerback can find a franchise closer to championship contention as a free agent.

We all know chasing away somewhat quality defensive players is the key to creating a successful team. Champ Bailey isn't stupid. He knows if this Broncos team is going anywhere or not. He doesn't need Tebow starting to tell him this. He is a free agent after this year, so he doesn't need a sign from the Broncos to find a franchise closer to winning a championship, he can do that on his own in a couple of months.

As soon as Denver starts Tebow at quarterback, the clock starts ticking on McDaniels' last chance to show he is competent at building and coaching a successful NFL franchise.

This logic may be correct, so why would McDaniels put Tebow out there if he isn't ready to be out there? This is a better argument to keep Tebow on the bench, yet somehow Kiszla sees it as a reason to start him.

Sooner rather than later, the lone way McDaniels can silence the booing of Broncomaniacs directed at him will be to send Tebow marching into the Denver huddle.

If Pat Bowlen bases his coaching decisions on who the fans want to see coaching the team then this franchise is destined for failure. What will happen is Tebow will get sent out to start a game, he will probably not be incredibly impressive and then the fans will hate McDaniels anyway because he is a quarterback coach who can't coach quarterbacks. I can already see the article getting written with this very sentence in it.

The Broncos are in a shit-load of trouble if they lose another game, but the latest loss was not the fault of Kyle Orton because he doesn't play defense. If Tebow is ready to start, then absolutely start him, but Orton has shown himself to be competent enough at this point and the Broncos probably should not be making changes this early in the season that indicates they have given up on the season. Everyone seems to believe Tebow is the answer to all that ails the Broncos. I actually want him to play 2-3 games just to show them perhaps they are wrong.

Friday, October 29, 2010

4 comments Is This JoeChat About the World Series? Anything Can Happen, But It Is Too Early To Tell

It's World Series time, which means it's time to see if any of Joe Morgan's preseason predictions have come true. I am kidding of course, he doesn't make any preseason predictions, other than the standard "anything can happen." Joe does want us to know that he isn't surprised by anything that has happened in this MLB postseason because anything can happen in baseball. It's easy to not be surprised when you make no assumptions or refuse to use your position as an "expert" to educate the masses.

If Joe was a executive with a financial firm during the 2008 financial crisis he would have sent out a newsletter to his clients that said,

"I am not surprised the stock market has tanked like it has. There are no consistent stocks anymore. As I always say, if you invest money in the stock market anything can happen. Sorry everyone lost 78% of the average value of their investments, but this downturn did not shock me at all. I wasn't in a position to give you financial advice because I didn't know what the stock market would do. I thought it would have a huge downturn, but it was too early to tell. Fortunately, I got all of my money out in time. Please provide the names of any family members who would like to invest their money with me. I have included a reference form in this letter."

Joe would not be a good financial executive. Of course it doesn't matter what he can't do when he is such a master chatter.

Buzzmaster: We've got Joe!

This fake excitement for Joe's arrival only has to be kept up for a few more weeks.

JM: I have always felt that anyone who makes the playoffs can become World Series champions.

Joe comes out of the gate swinging with his standard, incredibly obvious statement. I wonder how long he thinks about what he is going to write to begin the chat? I am guessing he thinks about it all week.

(Joe Morgan's brain) "What should I lead off with this week? A long paragraph about how Ryan Howard's contract isn't bad compared to Matt Holliday? A brief discussion of how the Rangers beat the Yankees? Nah, even I don't understand what happened exactly. Perhaps I should talk about how the Phillies were the best team in the National League and they are proof there aren't any consistent teams anymore? No, because then I will have to list why the Phillies weren't consistent and I didn't watch a single game in that series. It's so hard to have to talk about the sport I have spent the majority of my life playing...what should I say?:

(stares blankly at the wall for 27 minutes while only moving to eat an entire bag of Fritos)

"I know! I will blow them all away with the thought that the playoffs are a guessing game. No one knows what could happen, which is why I can't predict what will happen. I'm not sure anyone has ever realized that once the playoffs start, any team can win the World Series. Few people understand this. I'm going to blow some minds this week."

When the playoffs started, everyone felt that it would be Philadelphia and the Yankees playing for the world championship and with the Rays having an outside chance.

"Everyone" is including Joe himself, despite the fact he didn't come out and say it. He beat around the bush for a while that the Phillies and Yankees were the ones he thought would make it, but he never actually predicted it. It looks like Joe has outfoxed us this time. He thought the Phillies and Yankees were the two best teams, but continuously said anything could happen. His inability to make an opinion has paid off because two teams few expected to make the World Series ended up doing just that. Well played Joe Morgan. Well played.

Neither were given much of a chance against the mighty Yankees and the two-time NL champions Phillies,

The Phillies have actually won the NL more than two times over their history, but I won't nitpick Joe today because I know what he means.

but both the Rangers and the Giants have proven that if you can just get in the playoffs, you have a chance to be world champions.

You want what else proves if a team just gets in the playoffs they have a chance to be world champions? Common sense. Anyone with a firm grasp on common sense can look at the teams in the playoffs and deduce that any of them could win the World Series.

Jason (Philly)

Philly had the best record in baseball and with Roy Halladay seemed to be a lock for the World Series. What happened?

JM: Well, first of all, there is no such thing as a lock in baseball. Maybe in some of the other sports, the best team will win a series.

If a two teams play a series then isn't the team that won the "best team?" Maybe they weren't the best team during the season, but at that point they are the best team.

But in baseball, it's not always the best team, but also the team that's playing the best at that time.

Because in the playoffs anything can happen...except for the Twins beating the Yankees in a five game series. That may never happen.

John (Dallas)

Bigger home-field advantage... Arlington or San Fran?

JM: I think they both are home field advantages, or pretty equal.

There's a shock, Joe Morgan doesn't give an answer to a straightforward question. There is no advantage in regard to homefield, both teams are equal, both teams are equally as good at their home field, and all of the games will end in 0-0 ties, until the homefield advantage kicks in during the 10th inning when the home team will win the game 1-0. Even though the Giants have homefield advantage, there's no way of knowing if the Giants will win 4-3 or not.

San Francisco is relying on its pitching staff and AT&T Park is a pitcher friendly park. The Rangers are more of an offensive minded team, with good pitching.

That's right. I almost forgot the Rangers ballpark is perfectly suited for a team with speed and a team with power...(cue Joe's comment from last week's chat)

JM: But I think they can win at home. Their ballpark fits their team, just like Yankee Stadiums fits the Yankees. Texas has a powerful lineup. They have speed. All of those things are better suited for their park.

The Rangers ballpark holds a huge disadvantage for teams that are slow and can't hit home runs. Otherwise known as "a team that didn't make the playoffs."

Mike (Attleboro)

The Yankees paid two players as much as the entire Rangers team made. How can other small-market do to mirror the Ranger's success?

Make a trade with the Braves (cries over the Mark Teixeira trade for the fifth time today).

JM: When you have as much money to spend as the Yankees do, you can throw stuff up against the wall and see what sticks. You can make mistakes as far as free agents. What you have to do if you're a small market or mid-market team is make smart decisions.

Here's the thing though. Even the Yankees have to make smart decisions. They don't win the World Series every year because they still have to make smart decisions. Trading for Javier Vazquez was not a smart decision for them. So ALL teams have to make smart decisions, other teams have more leeway in getting the decisions wrong.

The Giants did sign Barry Zito to a huge ill-advised contract, their pitching depth in the minors helped cover that mistake up.

Although some might say that the Giants made a mistake in signing Barry Zito to that big contract.

Is there anyone who doesn't think the Giants made a mistake in signing Zito? Here goes Joe refusing to take a stand. I think EVERYONE, including Zito himself, think that huge contract was a mistake. They owe him $57.5 million over the next three years. The Giants also owe Aaron Rowand $27.2 million over the next two years. Both players are not even close to being worth the money they are making. The Giants have made mistakes with players, but it has worked out for them. So they were able to spend a lot of money on players and still make the World Series.

But, it's clear that the Rangers did not make many mistakes, as far as payroll is concerned. You just have to make better decisions if you're a small market team.

Chan Ho Park and Alex Rodriguez beg to differ.

Tito (Brooklyn)

Does the emergence of the Rangers prove that the Mets were wrong to give up on Jeff Francoeur?

Francoeur has made a World Series. The end is near.

JM: Sometimes a change of scenery helps a player. When that change of scenery takes you from a team that's really struggling to a team that's in first place, it helps you focus better.

What also helps Francoeur focus better is that the Rangers are only starting Francoeur against LH pitchers. As soon as he learned to swallow his ego and realize he sucks against RH pitchers and can hit LH pitchers well, then he was a productive player for the Rangers. It has nothing to do with a change of scenery and has everything to do with the fact he doesn't play against RH pitchers.

I've always thought that Jeff Francoeur was a pretty good player,

Then Joe is a bigger idiot than I thought...and I have always thought Joe could be a pretty big idiot at times.

but he had not performed that well during the last year or so after being traded from the Braves.

He also didn't perform well WITH the Braves...unless Joe is impressed with Francoeur's .239/.294/.359 line in 2008 or his followup year in 2009 that consisted of .280/.309/.423.

But I can't blame the Mets for trading him. That would be like blaming the Angels for not re-signing Vladimir. He did not play well there the last year and he had been struggling with injuries.

That injury Francoeur suffered from? A blow to the head that must have led him to believe he was an everyday RF and led him so far astray from reality as to demand a trade from the Mets where he can play everyday...the Mets got no offers for him to be able to do this.

Tito (Brooklyn)

If the Reds could get a do-over on the Josh Hamilton and Volquez trade from 3 years ago, do you think they would keep Hamilton? Have the Rangers "won" that trade?

JM: That's a hard question and I don't think it's been answered yet.

It's been three seasons. I think we are close to answering this question. Texas won the trade. Texas has an MVP candidate over a pitcher that has been injured and suspended for violating the league's drug policy.

Last year Volquez, when he was healthy, was one of the best pitchers in the NL.

I'm confused. Is "last year" 2009 when Volquez pitched in 9 games and put up a 4-2 record, 4.35 ERA, and a 1.329 WHIP? That isn't even close to being of the NL's best pitchers.

Was "last year" 2010 when Volquez pitched in 12 games and put up a 4-3 record with a 4.31 ERA and a 1.500 WHIP? That's not one of the NL's best pitchers either.

Possibly Joe was talking about 2008 (which isn't "last year"), when Volquez had a pretty good year. Volquez hasn't been healthy since the 2008 season, so Joe should take his Reds-colored glasses off and realize the Rangers won this trade.

I think the jury is still out on who got the better end of that trade. But there is no doubt that Josh Hamilton has proven in two of the last three years that he's one of the best hitters in the game. When Volquez is healthy, though, he's one of the best pitchers in the game.

No, the jury is now in. The Rangers got the better end of the deal. Volquez isn't healthy, so it doesn't matter what Joe believes Volquez could do when healthy. Hamilton has been a great hitter and Volquez hasn't even be a great pitcher even when he was healthy. So Joe is pretty much wrong about everything. Volquez isn't one of the better pitchers in the game and the Rangers have won the trade.

As I've always said, an every day player who is as good as a pitcher is always better because he can help in more games.

That doesn't make sense Joe.

(If this comment did make sense, wouldn't it mean the Rangers got the better end of the deal because they got the everyday player?)

John (Dallas)

What do you think of Ron Washington? Like em? Hate em?

JM: He's the reason that they're in the World Series.

Ron Washington is the reason the Rangers are in the World Series...outside of the fact the team is playing very well and the players on the team are the reason they are in the World Series. Otherwise, Washington has done a great job managing the players who have caused the team he manages to be in the World Series.

Not just this year, but when he took over, he changed the entire mindset of the organization.

The new mindset of the organization? More cocaine please.

(I'm sorry, I had to say something like that once. It's the first and last time)

He asked for a team that's more well-rounded. They put a lot of pressure on the defense with stealing bases, hitting and running, bunting. Hitting home runs is great, but what happens when you're not hitting them?

The Rangers, even when prorating for having played more games than other teams in the playoffs have easily hit more home runs during the playoffs than any other team.

So the answer to what happens they don't hit home runs is still up in the air...because they got to the World Series by hitting home runs. The Rangers were 10th in the majors in home runs hit during the season as well. It's not like they are a light-hitting team that has "manufactured" runs in the postseason.

They had tried to just load up with sluggers and try to outslug you and that didn't work.

Except that is exactly how they got to the World Series. They have outslugged the Rays and the Yankees to get to this point. So while the Rangers don't rely on the home run from Joe's point of view, they sure have hit a lot of home runs while making their way to the World Series.

John (Dallas)

Do you think the best two teams made the WS?

Tito from Brooklyn, you have competition from John from Dallas. Game on.

JM: Over the long stretch, Philadelphia was the best team in the NL and the Yankees or the Rays were the best in the AL. But when you get to a playoff system, it's different than a 162-game schedule.

It is good to know that Joe pays enough attention to statistics to be aware that 162 games is more than the maximum 19 game season a team can play in the postseason and the playoff schedule is different from the regular season schedule.

As we saw last year, the Yankees only used three starting pitchers over the course of the postseason. Over the course of 162 games, it's a test of consistency, but it tests your entire team, because you have to use all of your players. In a short series, you only use your best players and your best pitchers and that changes the outcome sometimes.

I am not sure I can argue with Joe's reasoning here. It is true, but what it fails to explain is how the Phillies and Yankees lost in a short series. If a short series causes teams to only use their best pitchers and best players, wouldn't that be an advantage for the Yankees and Phillies? Both teams don't have deep rotations, so they would prefer to pitch with only 3 guys. The Phillies had the best rotation in the National League with Halladay, Oswalt and Hamels and the Yankees had a strong rotation in Sabathia, Pettitte, and Hughes. Both teams also had deep and strong lineups. So using this reasoning of a short series allowing a team to use the best pitchers and players on that team, the Phillies and Yankees would have won their series.

I'm just saying, on paper the short series seemed to favor those two teams. Reality was much different obviously.

To use another analogy, the regular season is a marathon; the playoffs are a short sprint. That takes two different skills.

But the Yankees and even more specifically, the Phillies (at least from a pitching point of view) were built for a sprint.

Jen (Mississippi)

What player's performance has surprised you most this postseason?

JM: A lot of players have impressed me.

What players have surprised you, not impressed you. Seriously, read the question or buy a dictionary to figure out what "surprised" means. It sounds cruel, but there's no point in answering questions that aren't asked.

Of course, Cliff Lee. Pitching was the dominant position in the playoffs. I was very impressed with Robinson Cano and how he handled the postseason this year. I was impressed with Josh Hamilton's performance in the LCS, after sitting out for a month of the season, it took him a while to get his timing back. In the NL, you had to be impressed with Halladay pitching a no-hitter in the first round and by winning Game 5 to extend the series against San Francisco. And you have to be impressed with the game by Tim Lincecum in his first playoff start against the Braves.

Since Joe is answering this question however he would like to answer it, he was impressed by five players...all of whom made the All-Star team this year and actually deserved it. So Joe Morgan was impressed by five All-Stars, but not Ian Kinsler, Nelson Cruz, Cody Ross, CJ Wilson, or Matt Cain.

I find it interesting the best players in the majors are the ones that impress Joe while he leaves out players that played well in the LDS and LCS who did not make an All-Star team as impressing him...of course the question asked was about which players "surprised" him, so it's just a fail all around for Joe.

Only All-Stars are impressive to Joe Morgan.

There are other players that have done well too. Molina and Uribe hitting game-winning home runs.

So then Joe names a player, Juan Uribe, as a player who impressed him with a game-winning home run...even though Uribe hit .071/.133/.071 in the LDS and .214/.250/.429 in the LCS. Joe is obviously more impressed with a player that had one important hit over a player who has a consistently (!) good series, like Cody Ross. That's not the Joe Morgan we know. He loves consistency. He fears the Inconsistency Monster. The man writing this is an imposter...release Joe Morgan!

I guess the unusual thing is that it's not any of the big names of the Yankees - Jeter, A-Rod, Teixeira - had good playoffs. Same thing for the Phillies.

No big names for the Phillies and Yankees except for the two players that Joe personally singled-out as having done well in the playoffs, Roy Halladay and Robinson Cano.

Tito (Brooklyn)

Do you think replay needs to be used more in the playoffs?

JM: I would not be against expanding some of the plays that can be reviewed. But I'm not for wholesale changes, because the game would last forever...To have to go in and review every close play, it would kill the pace of the game, which hurts the pitchers who have to stand around.

And as anyone who has ever watched playoff baseball or watch Andy Pettitte pitch, pitchers hate to stand around...unless that standing around involves taking 1 minute between pitches or throwing over to first base three or four times. We wouldn't want to have pitchers stand around to ensure a call on the field was correct when this valuable time could be used wandering around the pitcher's mound and lightly throwing the ball to first base in an attempt to hold the runner on.

There is a rhythm to a baseball game and I think we would destroy that rhythm if we expanded replay a lot.

The rhythm (that doesn't exist) is more important than making sure calls are right? I am not for replaying balls and strikes, but what is the harm in expanding some replay? There may be 1-2 calls per game that would take 1-2 minutes each to review...or about as long as it takes a guy like Bobby Cox to waddle to the mound to talk with his pitcher in order to buy time for a pitcher in the bullpen to warm up or as long as it takes for a manager to come out and argue with the umpire over what the correct call should have been. Instead of wasting 1-2 minutes with the manager getting angry on the field, spend that time in the replay booth getting the call correct.

I know they aren't the two biggest markets in baseball, but there are a lot of new faces and a lot of new names in the World Series.

There are new names and faces if you haven't followed baseball all year. So to Joe most of these players will be new. For everyone else who is a baseball fan, many of these names will be familiar.

I'm looking forward the Rangers and Giants in the World Series.

I'm looking backward the chat on ESPN.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

9 comments Scoop Jackson Stands Up For LeBron James

I have been holding onto this article for a while because it deals with the subject of race and sports. That's a subject I don't normally like to discuss because it tends to be a no-win discussion. I've made a slight exception today, but only because it is talking about race in the larger context of sports and because I feel the need to ramble about this issue. Scoop Jackson believes it is partially race that has caused fans to turn against LeBron James.

I look at it a different way. I am a sports fan, I don't care what color an athlete is or what he looks like. I hate players and teams simply for daring to exist in the same division or conference as my favorite teams and any reason I get to further dislike them I jump on. Let's say I hate Mike Vick. He dared to play for the Falcons who played well against the Panthers. I have a grudge against him for this sole reason, but now the dislike is kind of gone because he plays for the Eagles and isn't in the same division as the Panthers. I hated Keith Brooking (who hates him other than me? Probably no one.) because he played for the Falcons and I could not stand any Buccaneers player for a long while, specifically any Gramatica brother. I'm rambling, but LeBron played for the Cavs and they compete with my favorite NBA team. I don't like LeBron because of this, so when he left Cleveland for Miami to form a "super team" with Wade and Bosh, it gave me more reason to dislike LeBron on many different levels. I could dislike his decision to team up with other great players and form a championship or I could dislike the fact the Heat now have a good team and are in the Eastern Conference. I don't do this because he is black, but for purely sports reasons.

I understand the marketing aspect of sports. I don't understand outside of marketing why athletes have to be liked or have a high Q score. Does LeBron really care that he is hated? Should it matter to him? Why is it bad that people hate him? Part of sports is having players and teams that you hate no matter what...or until they play on your favorite team. This may go back to the whole "fans are more engaged in the competition part of sports as compared to athletes" issue, but LeBron's Q score may be taking a nose dive and I know that affects his marketing aspirations, but being hated is a part of sports. People may just hate him because he is successful and is probably going to be more successful in the future with the Heat. He's competition now for my favorite NBA team and I have to dislike him, Wade, and Bosh for that for the same reasons I will greatly dislike any good team in the Eastern Conference.

Maybe LeBron is disliked for racist reasons, not for me personally, but I am sure this is true for some. Rather than blame race completely though, maybe he is hated simply because he is one of the best players in the NBA and will play for a successful team this year. I'm rambling basically I think the hatred for LeBron is being blamed too much on race by Scoop.

Seems like even when there's not a race issue there is a race issue in this country.

Or one created. I'm not saying there isn't an issue of race here, but LeBron being hated is much why some people hate the Yankees. Sports fans can greatly dislike the idea of a "super team" being built that is better than other teams. Falling back on the race issue is kind of lazy sometimes. LeBron is not in my good graces because he is a major competitor for my favorite team.

LeBron has not reached the Jordan/Oprah/Michael Jackson/Tiger Woods/Barack Obama (pre-Presidency) level of identification in which people do not think about his color, race or ethnicity when identifying with him.

This is a lie. How many jokes have been told over the years about Michael Jackson not being "black enough" along with jokes about his skin? Any discussion about Michael Jackson always ended up talking about his race in one form or another. All anyone could talk about Barack Obama before he was President is that he was black Presidential candidate. The reason many people don't think about Tiger Woods' race all the time is because even he doesn't define it.

Yet someone has to say what LeBron couldn't.

And as prophesied in the Bible and Koran, Scoop Jackson is that man.

When speaking to CNN last week about the role race has played in the overall reaction (nothing else) to his post-Cavaliers life, LeBron did nothing more than acknowledge the undercurrent to how he went from love to hate in the eyes of the public faster than any athlete in recent history who didn't break a law or a marriage vow.

Here is the issue I have with LeBron's comments and Scoop Jackson's followup...they both take one part of the possible explanation behind the some of the public's reaction and try to turn it into THE reason for the public's reaction. I don't think LeBron lost any fans, the fans who never really liked him when he was on the Cavs finally had something to bitch point to and say, "that's why this guy is an asshole. I always knew it." Some of the hate comes from jealousy and some of it comes from the fact LeBron James now plays for the "it" team in the NBA. I don't believe a large part of any of the reaction is because James is black.

Let's also please remember that the sports media shapes the discussions in this country. So LeBron's interpretation of how people don't like him comes partially from the media. He's read the reactionary and judgmental crap the media has written about him going to Miami and may believe this represents sports fans as a whole. Sports fans are really a different matter. If you believed the media, then Brett Favre would be beloved and the only two teams that have a shot at the NBA Title this year are Los Angeles and Miami. So while the media is shaping the discussions in this country, they are also shaping how players are perceived to be viewed by the public.

In almost every black person's life -- and most will tell you this -- there comes a time when we are reminded of who we are; more importantly, when we're reminded of the color of our skin. It's our gut check.

Like most bloggers, I am white. Pale white to where you can see through my skin. I don't pretend to speak for African Americans or any other race, religion or creed. I don't like it when people assume they know what I am thinking, which is part of what irritates me so much about Scoop Jackson. He assumes part of the reason I don't like LeBron James' decision to go Miami is because he is black, which isn't the truth. I don't like LeBron James because he plays on a competitive team in the Eastern Conference. I also don't like LeBron James because he is too good at basketball and his skill could affect my favorite team from winning the NBA Title this year. End of story.

It's not like moments of realizing who you are can be exclusive to one certain race. From my point of view, there are times when I am reminded of who I am, more importantly I am reminded of the color of my skin. This happens TO EVERY PERSON no matter what color their skin is. I was picked near to last in gym class in the 8th grade when splitting up basketball teams because I was a skinny white kid and the gym teacher put the two football players (who knew nothing about basketball or how to choose a team) as the captains. When time came around for new teams to be chosen later, I got picked much earlier, but it was assumed because I was skinny and white I couldn't play basketball. There are tons of sad stories where we can all feel bad for ourselves from everyone like this about when they have been reminded who they are. Some are obviously more severe than others, but at some point we all get a gut check with reality.

LeBron James was just reminded. The extreme nature of how many people responded to his "decision" and the way he handled it was his personal and professional gut check.

But this wasn't necessarily race driven. There are a number of reasons a person could have responded to LeBron's decision negatively. I think it is unfair to pigeonhole emotional sports fans like this.

The problem many people seem to have with that, in LeBron's mind, is not that he was reminded he is African-American, but that he had the audacity to acknowledge it.

This is exactly what I am talking about. Scoop can tell everyone who will listen that there are things LeBron James is going through that we can never understand, so don't try. Then he proceeds to tell everyone who has a thought on how they feel about LeBron leaving Cleveland exactly why they feel that way. Scoop won't let you think you know LeBron or why he went to Miami to play for the Heat, but Scoop feels free to think he knows you.

Does race play a role in why Eminem has sold more records and is more popular than Jay-Z? Did race have anything to do with the response to the people and areas affected by Hurricane Katrina?

I don't want to sound insensitive but...I understand the disaster that Hurricane Katrina was and I don't want to directly compare it to another natural disaster, but what about Nashville? Did race or the location of the state of Tennessee have anything to do with the lack of attention by the media and the government? Who really knows? It could be a valid question. Doesn't race or the area of the country where the natural disaster affect the response ANYTIME there is a natural disaster?

It all depends on who's being asked and who is answering.

This time, LeBron answered.

Which is fine, but it doesn't mean his perspective is the truth.

The best recent close-to-fair comparison that can be used to prove that race probably is a factor in all of this? Brett Favre. Favre has moved from team to team and kept the public in the dark about his status much more often and just as dramatically and significantly as LeBron did this one time.

Other than I read this article before I wrote about it, how did I know Scoop would bring up Brett Favre as an example of how white players are treated? I hate Brett Favre. Many, many people I know hate Brett Favre. This is a great example of a player whose reputation and his public persona are very much shaped by the media. I know very few people who like Favre, yet he seems as popular as ever. I can't explain it.

Favre feuds with his coach, takes the time to tell everyone how injured he is, doesn't accept responsibility or criticism for his mistakes and has generally put himself over the team. Why people like him, I don't know, but I don't think it has anything to do with the fact he is white, but has more to do with the fact he is a master at making people feel bad for him and like him.

Even using the Q Score as a barometer, Favre never took a hit equal or close to LeBron's.

And while confirming Favre's hold on popularity -- he was the 13th most popular figure in sports earlier this year in the company's research -- Schafer went on to say, "Based on our data, I think it's fair to say that [American sports fans] may be sick of the waffling, but not sick of him."

I don't know if using one of using Brett Favre as an example for why Americans are racist is a very good example. I am not sure anyone has an idea of why Brett Favre is so popular, other than there is a segment of the population that loves him. I don't think this comparison proves anything.

James, on the other hand, went from being one of the most popular and loved athletes alive to one of the most disliked in a matter of months.

As I stated several times above, I think this is a reaction to James joining up with a dominant team that is seen as having taken a shortcut to win a championship. Again, the same reason some people hate the Yankees is the reason these same people will dislike LeBron James.

After LeBron had made "The Decision," the Q score Wade and Bosh also took a dive. Wade's positive Q score went from 21 in January 2010 to 15 in September 2010 and his negative Q score went from 18 to 25. Bosh's positive Q score went from 13 to 12 and his negative Q score went from 21 to 35. I am sure Scoop would use this as further proof James, Bosh, and Wade are being persecuted by the racist public and media, but I see it as being a sign that many people view the act of these three players on the same team in a negative light, regardless of skin color. It could be seen that the public didn't like these three guys teaming up on the Heat and that, not skin color, was the reason their Q score went down.

If so, cool. But on the surface, on the basis of similar popularity and behavior, Favre and James are Siamese. Reflective images. Yet, somehow, LeBron's "behavior" was less acceptable than Brett's. While Favre's "waffling" is tolerated, James' decisiveness is unacceptable.

I can't explain the public's infatuation with Favre, though I don't think it has to do with race, but here are three reasons that may explain the difference in how James and Favre have been treated:

1. Part of the difference is that Favre has played in the NFL for nearly 20 years and is 40 years old, while James is 25 years old and hasn't been in the NBA for 10 years yet. Favre is older than James, so he has more history of goodwill with the public. Not with me of course, but with the public. Favre had been with the Packers so long and had pretty much done everything he could for the team, while James had been with the Cavs for a while, but not long enough to reach any of the goals the city expected of the team.

2. Favre left Green Bay when they already had a great quarterback and when he left he used his unique ability to play the martyr as a way to convince the public he was the one that was done wrong in nearly every situation. Favre's a magician. He can make the media feel bad for second guessing an interception he threw. Green Bay wasn't a terrible team after he left, they had Aaron Rodgers, and many people feel like Favre was done wrong by the Packers management. LeBron James left the city of Cleveland, which happens to be the state he was born in and played high school basketball in. LeBron James has had ties to Ohio his entire life and he left the team with very little talent on the roster. Favre wasn't a hometown hero like James was. Favre didn't leave on his own accord (though I think this is very arguable), while James did.

3. Favre was threatening to retire, while James was forming a dream team. If Scoop can't tell the difference in these two actions then I don't know what to tell him. The perception of Favre is that he can't decide whether to retire or not and many fans who don't like Favre don't want him to retire because they enjoy watching him play. The perception of James is that he left his lifelong home to chase a championship in Miami. It's the equivalent of selling out to many people. He left Ohio for the alcohol and sun-drenched streets of Miami to play with two other great NBA players. Not only was James turning his back on the state that loved him, his teammates the franchise worked hard (and unsuccessfully) to put around him, but he is going to a party city to join his top competition rather than compete AGAINST his top competition.

Bottom line is that many people can understand a struggle to do a job they love versus spend more time with their family, as opposed to relating to being a unique talent and joining the exact players on a quest for an NBA title you are supposed to be competing against for an NBA title. The situations each found themselves in are different and so was the public's reaction.

Because if race isn't one of the factors in why the reaction has been so extremely different between one non-white athlete (James) and one white athlete (Favre), then what is?

I wish Scoop would at least acknowledge the situations each athlete found themselves in are different. It's like he does whatever he can to make the deep connection to race in order to explain the difference.

And if LeBron is unable to answer a simple question about his feelings on whether race is a factor in his case without being vilified publicly (again), then where does the real racism reside? In his answer or in the response to it?

Whatever. Part of the public's reaction being negative towards James' comments was that the public doesn't like our thoughts and words presented to us by an athlete pretending to know us. It's fine if James believes that, but his feelings on the subject doesn't make it the truth. Simply because racism exists doesn't mean that was the reason behind the public's reaction to LeBron's "Decision."

It's unfair for LeBron to generalize everyone who has an opinion on this subject in this way. Sexism also exists but that isn't the reason few sports fans watch WNBA games. It's unfair to say "it's always a race factor" and hide behind how absolutely poorly the decision to leave Cleveland was handled so he can paint the media and public as racist.

Of course after he said the comments, James didn't want to talk about them too much more. So James wants to make the decision to go to Miami, hide behind racism as being why the fans don't like him, say he believes this to be the reason in an interview and then elaborate no further. As I said, I am sure racism played a part in some people's opinion of him, but I think this was a small minority. Many other people never liked LeBron or didn't like this decision to go to the Heat overall and dislike him based on that.

The recent extreme reaction to LeBron's CNN interview does more to validate his belief than any survey taken to measure someone's appeal.

This statement could not be further from the truth. LeBron James has given his opinion and now because the public and media disagrees with this opinion, it just further proves how racist everyone is? So basically agree with LeBron James the negative reaction to his move to Miami was based on race or it just proves how racist you are. That's a very tyrannical way of thinking.

Because it is not extreme to make a blanket statement to explain the public's reaction to an event. I know this would never occur to Scoop while he is on his soapbox, but maybe even more than people not liking LeBron James going to Miami to play for the Heat, people don't like to be accused of being racist. I know that sounds crazy, but James essentially believes he knows more about the true feelings of the media and public better than they do.

Or is this a column about America?

When it comes to race and sports in this country, there seems to be two types of people: those who see race as an issue in damn near everything and those who don't see color at all.

Scoop Jackson has apparently been taking online courses on stereotyping because he seems to be very good at it. For a guy who doesn't like racism and putting people of a certain color in certain categories that supposedly explains everything about them, Scoop does a great job of putting anyone with an opinion on this issue in two simple categories that supposedly explains everything about them.

Talk about taking two extreme positions on an issue...does Scoop really believe these are the only two categories of people when it comes to race and sports in this country? If so, he is an even bigger idiot than I originally thought. There's nothing like taking the nuance out of a discussion.

Of all the things LeBron James might have done wrong in the last five months, his last -- claiming that race probably has played a role in the overall reaction to his offseason activities -- to many might have been the wrongest.

Because he essentially used a charge of racism as a cover for why everyone hates him. He used racism as a shield to defend himself and rather than admit it was a poorly handled move in going to Miami by doing an hour-long special that basically massaged his ego and rubbed Cleveland's face in the mud. James can admit a little bit that the move was handled badly, but only if he can blame the public for some of the negative reaction towards his decision. I had no problem with James going to Miami if that is what he wanted to do, but it's unfair to pretend to know the reason why those who disagree with this position did so.

But that doesn't mean what he said was wrong. Nor does that mean what he meant shouldn't be heard. Or understood. Or taken into consideration.

I think it should be taken into consideration. What else should be taken into consideration that is possibly James was hiding behind race card to avoid the real reasons the media and public may not have liked his move. What are those reasons? I don't know because I can't speak for everyone. For me, I didn't hate the decision to go to Miami, but I don't like LeBron because his team is in direct competition with my favorite team. I would prefer to see him compete against Wade rather than compete with Wade.

Those people who still have a problem with LeBron claiming that race has been a factor and continues to play a role in the fallout from "The Decision" need to ask themselves this question: If LeBron were white, would he be going through the same thing?

Probably. I don't think there is any proof one way or another though.

The answer is no different than any other honest answer we should come to when situations like this occur: Yes … and no.

I like how Scoop finds the nuance in a situation when he has to prove a point, but otherwise the entire world sees racism as a problem in sports or doesn't see it at all. It's black or white, except for when it is not, and this time it is not.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

15 comments Instead of Worrying About Helmet Safety, Let's Make the Field Softer!

Gregg Easterbrook is still talking about concussions in the NFL. That discussion was so last week. I refuse to be somewhat nice to Gregg two weeks in a row, so I will say he is still semi-right about helmet safety. I guess he has realized when he talks about actual football he tends to sound pretty dumb at times, so he wants to stick to discussing concussions and the proper helmets that football players should wear. The title is "Concussions are a huge issue in football." Clearly the creative juices of ESPN's editors are really flowing.

If football wants to make a fundamental change in protecting players from neurological harm -- and to avoid being regulated out of business by Congress -- rules tinkering won't do. Radical change is required.

You know the real problem isn't the players or the helmets, it is the field. Football should be played on a field that consists of only marshmallows being supported by a layer of cotton candy underneath it. The players hit the ground and would only get a sugar rush. The players aren't the problem, it is the ground that is the issue. Change the playing surface before someone dies from the dangerous surface that is planet Earth!

Here's how: Put padding on the outside of the helmet, so the helmet stops being a weapon.

Here's a problem...if a football player knows he has padding outside the helmet he will definitely attempt to use this non-weapon as a weapon. After all, if the helmet doesn't seem to be a weapon there wouldn't be any harm in using it as a weapon. I'm pretty sure even with the outside shell helmets the players could learn to use them as weapons.

I've been told the padding outside the helmet doesn't hurt at all. I am assuming these people haven't been hit by a 260 pound linebacker you don't see coming. Much like how safety belts and airbags have been shown in some studies to lead to more car accidents because people believe they can drive more recklessly, putting padding on the outside of the helmet could lead to more players leading with their head. It is a possibility.

So pad the outside. It's been tried before, and it worked.

Hey maybe it will work. Or players could just accept the fact football is a violent sport. It's not like anyone trapped them into playing in the NFL under the impression there was no tackling.

Mark Kelso, a safety for the Bills from 1986 to 1993, wore an outer-padded helmet as a starter in four Super Bowls and finished with 30 career NFL interceptions. Many highly drafted, highly paid safeties wish they could say they had a career as good as Kelso did.

All because of the padded helmet. It gave him more skills!

Steve Wallace, an offensive tackle for the 49ers from 1986 to 1997, wore an outer-padded helmet and made the Pro Bowl. Many highly drafted, highly paid tackles wish they could say they played as well as Wallace did.

It is good to see an outer helmet doesn't affect a player's ability to play well. I think we have that covered. I'm a little confused. Wallace wore the outer-padded helmet, but his wikipedia page says,

"Throughout his career, Wallace endured many concussions, and was known for wearing a styrofoam helmet atop his normal helmet to reduce the impact."

Did he suffer the concussions before or after he wore the styrofoam helmet on his normal helmet? I would assume he suffered the concussions before he wore the styrofoam helmet atop his normal helmet. More importantly, Gregg does realize these styrofoam helmets can fall off when one player hits another player wearing one? It sounds like a reasonable suggestion, but the outer helmet can fall off. So the outer helmet doesn't seem to be a cure-all.

"The Bills' trainer knew an inventor who had been tinkering with padding," Kelso told me last week. "With padding, I played an additional five seasons, almost 100 more games, and sustained only one concussion, which wasn't a helmet-to-helmet hit -- someone kneed my head.

Doesn't this still count as a concussion? So the helmet helps unless a player finds another way to hit an opposing player or if the outer helmet falls off.

Do that with a standard polycarbonate shell helmet, and you'll howl in pain. If both players were wearing this in a helmet-to-helmet hit, it wouldn't be anywhere near as bad."

Oh good. So the solution isn't regulating helmet-to-helmet hits, but making it safer for players to make helmet-to-helmet hits on each other? That sounds like a great policy.

"We should worry less about violent criminals having access to guns and worry more about making sure everyone wears a bulletproof vest at all times."

So what's standing between current football helmets and far safer helmets -- safer for the wearer, safer for the person being hit -- is looks and the word "soft."

That and the fact the NFL players may not want to wear an outer shell outside of their helmet because they just don't want to. There's that too.

If everyone were required to wear an outer-padded helmet, initially all football players would complain about a geeky appearance. Within a year, the padded helmet would be perceived as normal and the appearance forgotten -- while severe injuries declined.

Gregg's got the public and player's reaction to the outer shell helmets all mapped out.

Mainstream helmet manufacturers, who have shied away from outer padding on fears that players won't wear it, will jump in with all-new, safer designs if the NFL takes the lead with a mandate.

Now Gregg has the helmet manufacturer's reaction to the outer shell helmet all mapped out. I like how Gregg is projecting what he believes will happen after the outer shell helmet is introduced as if it were fact and not pure speculation.

College hoops tip soon, too. Hope you didn't miss this important article on college basketball, showing cheating coaches prosper while the only coaching flaw that's punished is losing.

Let's see how many teams that have appeared in the National Championship game over the last five years have had coaches accused by the NCAA (really accused and not suspected...because every coach cheats in his own little way) or caught cheating:

2010: Duke/Butler- neither Coach K or Brad Stevens has been caught or accused of cheating.

2009: UNC/Michigan State- neither Roy Williams or Tom Izzo have been caught or accused of cheating.

2008: Kansas/Memphis- Bill Self has been clean and John Calipari has had a few allegations through his career but he is a guy who has had allegations directed towards him.

2007: Florida/Ohio State- neither Billy Donovan or Thad Matta have been caught or accused of cheating.

2006: Florida/UCLA- neither Billy Donovan or Ben Howland have been caught or accused of cheating.

Out of the 9 coaches who have coached in the NCAA Championship game over the last five seasons, only one of them could be labeled accurately as a cheater. So I understand what Gregg is saying, but Tim Floyd isn't taking his team to the pinnacle of college basketball. His college basketball teams have never gotten past the Sweet Sixteen. Coaches that cheat and are accused of cheating, don't normally become some of the most successful coaches in college basketball, at least not recently.

Suppose this simple rule were added to college football and men's basketball: Unless at least 80 percent of a team's players graduate, the coach is suspended for one year.

I am trying to think of a less sensible and more idiotic rule and I really can't. Should the professors at a school get suspended one year if a certain percentage of students who came through his class don't graduate or pass his/her class?

City of Tampa turned third-and-goal from the 34 into a field goal. With the Raiders facing third-and-goal from the 19, leading 24-0 in the second quarter, the Broncos' coaches called a six-man blitz. Denver's defensive call made little sense, since the best-case scenario was to hold Oakland to a field goal,

Actually, the best-case scenario is a pick-six and a touchdown for the Broncos. Another good scenario for the Broncos is any type of turnover caused by the blitz. So the best-case scenario is not a field goal by the Raiders.

Why does ESPN pay Gregg to write this column every week?

Leading 23-20, New England faced fourth-and-1 on its 49 at the two-minute warning. The host Chargers stuffed the run, despite six offensive linemen on the field for the Flying Elvii; that was sweet for San Diego. New England simply used a power set, no shifts, no man in motion. That was sour for the Patriots. On fourth-and-short, defenders are primed to charge straight ahead. The offense must do a little dance to create some uncertainty.

Defenders are not video game characters. They are primed to follow the football, not just run blindly straight ahead. So if the Patriots had put a man in motion, then run straight ahead the defenders would not have been primed to charge straight ahead? So defenders become un-primed to go straight ahead when they see movement? Why this man get to write a football column? There has to be 2.5 million more qualified candidates.

The Chicago Bulls sent their first-round draft pick and Kirk Hinrich to the Washington Wizards for a second-round choice. A first and a player for a second suggests Hinrich has negative value. Which was the case; Chicago's objective was to unload Hinrich's guaranteed contract. Chicago was so desperate to remove Hinrich from its books that it threw in $3 million to help Washington pay the contract. Miami traded a first-round choice and Daequan Cook to Oklahoma City for a second-round choice -- again the player, Cook, had negative value, and again the point was to unload his contract.

And your point? Does Gregg think this is bizarre or dumb? This is how the financial aspect of the NBA works. Both teams were opening up cap room to sign free agents.

Robert Drago of Washington, D.C., writes, "Tonight I downloaded the latest Norton security update, and it was advertised as Norton 2011. Is Norton taking a holiday for the rest of 2010?"

I wish a plague upon your family. I think Gregg keeps this "creep" shit in his column just to piss off his more intelligent readers.

I got a Sports Illustrated this week that said "October 28, 2010" on the cover, but IT WAS ONLY OCTOBER 21! How did I get this issue a week before it was even published?????? Do Sports Illustrated's editors have the ability to predict the future???

The second part of the ruling -- that review couldn't tell who recovered the ball -- reflects an officiating problem that has been driving TMQ crazy for years. In a scramble for a loose ball, if any player takes possession for even an instant, with a knee down and in contact with an opponent, the play should end. But zebras don't officiate mad scrambles this way. They let the players fight for the ball, then award possession to whoever wins the Darwinian struggle.

That's because the officials need to know who has POSSESSION of the ball, not who has touched the ball first. It's hard to award possession to a player or team that doesn't actually have possession. What happens if the officials can't see who touched the ball first with their knees on the ground or there is no replay that can help with this problem.

I'm not altogether on the NFL rulebook, but a player has to actually possess the football, rather than just look like he has possession for an instant. It seems like in many of these scrums for the football it is hard to decide possession.

On the 92-yard DeAngelo Hall interception return touchdown that provided the game's winning points, the Bears had six blockers for five rushers, yet no one touched Redskins defensive lineman Vonnie Holliday, who hit Jay Cutler as he released, causing the pick-six.

Gregg constantly talks about how terrible it is that a team who has six blockers can't block five pass rushers, but he fails to understand that sometimes an offensive lineman can't block a defensive lineman by himself. Say Brian Orakpo was doubled on this play because the offensive lineman responsible for him needed assistance, well then Holliday beats his man and the throw by Cutler resulted. So while it appears the Bears have plenty of offensive linemen to block the Redskins pass rushers, there are four one-on-one matchups and if one of the offensive lineman gets beat then a sack results. All pass rushers are not blocked with just one offensive lineman. I hope Gregg knows this.

The Bears now have allowed a league-worst 31 sacks and are a miserable 15-of-84 on third downs. Counting sacks and scrambles, Mike Martz has called 261 passes and 141 rushes. How's that working out for you, Bears?

They are currently 4-3 and tied for the lead in their division. It seems to be working well enough to win four games.

In the past week, a few former NFL players have endorsed the league's move to reduce vicious hits. Rodney Harrison of NBC called for suspensions, while Steve Young of ESPN said "the media must stop glorifying big hits." Yet many former players have denounced the initiative. Let's examine their arguments.

"They can't change the game:" Dolphins linebacker Channing Crowder to AOL FanHouse. They change the game constantly! Once a field goal was five points. Once the forward pass was illegal. Once an incompletion was a turnover.

That's not at all was Crowder was talking about. He was saying you can't change how violently the game is played and you can't change that players are going to try to hit the opposing players hard as well. Either Gregg is playing dumb or he is actually that stupid to misunderstand what Crowder is saying.

Reader Steve Hasegawa of San Francisco proposes this fix for the one-and-done problem plaguing college basketball: "Instead of allowing each school 13 one-year basketball scholarships annually, the NCAA should allow a total of 13 four-year basketball scholarships. If a player only sticks around for a year, the school is stuck with three years when it can't use that scholarship (with an exception for players who transfer but remain in college). Schools would have an incentive to limit, though not necessarily eliminate, reliance on obvious one-and-done candidates. One-and-done players would spread out to a larger number of schools, increasing competitive balance."

This may be the dumbest idea I have ever heard of. What's the purpose of this stupid rule? To stop players from being one-and-done or to increase the competitive balance in college basketball? I have so many issues with this idea, so I can't even list all of them. Here are a few of the problems:

1. What is the purpose of this rule? Competitive balance or to stop players from being one-and-done?

2. Why should schools be punished for accepting players who leave college after one year? It is the right of the college basketball player to leave school after his first year for the NBA, the schools should not get punished for the player doing this.

3. Gregg is too stupid to know this, but the one-and-done rule isn't a college basketball rule, it is an NBA rule. So essentially a college basketball program would get punished for a rule they don't like nor did they create. If it were up to college basketball programs and coaches EVERY player would stay four years in school. Punishing a school for an NBA rule is stupid and pointless.

4. Why again should schools get punished for players leaving for the NBA after 1-3 years in college? Take a player like Gordon Hayward...Butler should not be able to use his scholarship for two more years because his game advanced to the point he could leave for the NBA and get drafted in the lottery? No one saw this coming, why should Butler be punished for Hayward leaving early in this situation? It makes no sense. This retarded-ass-stupid-fucking-rule doesn't just hurt programs who have one-and-done players, but ANY player who leaves before his four years of eligibility are up.

5. What's wrong with the competitive balance in college basketball? We just had a season where Butler almost won the national title, Northern Iowa knocked out Kansas, and Cornell and St. Mary's made the Sweet Sixteen. If anything, the competitive balance is getting better in college basketball. This scholarship rule is beyond dumb. I could not hate it more. It punishes schools for developing players who can make it to the NBA and makes colleges pay a fee in the currency of scholarships for a rule college programs HATE.

6. What teams rely so much on one-and-done players? Kentucky is the only team that seems to rely on them a lot. So we should make a rule specifically for one team? That doesn't make sense. None of the four teams in the Final Four in 2010 had a player that was a one-and-done.

Facing third-and-7 at Baltimore, seventh-round-drafted Ryan Fitzpatrick of Harvard threw a touchdown pass to seventh-round-drafted Stevie Johnson against a Ravens blitz. Undrafted free-agent tailback Fred Jackson of Division III Coe College blocked Ray Lewis while undrafted free-agent tackle Cord Howard blocked the NFL's highest-paid defensive player, Terrell Suggs.

So these are the same "great" undrafted players that come from a team that hasn't won a game yet this year? These are the same undrafted players that are on a team which Gregg mocks weekly for its mediocrity? So the Bills absolutely suck except when Gregg doesn't want us to focus on that and instead focus on the undrafted players they have which contribute so much to a winless team.

Now the Giants have second-and-2 on the Dallas 14. Maybe it's occurred to Dallas coaches at this point that Eli Manning, like all skilled quarterbacks, wants to be blitzed.

It is not about a skilled quarterback wanting to be blitzed. It is about having a well-disguised blitz that can confuse or throw off the timing of the quarterback. That's what it is about. Most quarterbacks want to be blitzed if they know where the blitz is coming from, but as was seen with the Saints in last year's playoffs, no matter how good the quarterback is, if he can't anticipate where the blitz is coming from, he doesn't want to get blitzed.

Martell Webster went straight from high school to the NBA as the sixth pick of the 2005 draft and since has been a marginal player, including spending time with the Fort Worth Flyers of the D-League, a club that no longer exists. Had Webster gone to college, he would have matured physically and emotionally, and might be an NBA star today.

Pure speculation. Martell Webster may have flamed out in college, not gotten drafted, and then not received a four year $20 million contract in 2008 if he had not gone straight to the NBA. The time he spent in the D-league was in 2006 when he was 19 years old. That time spent there probably helped him mature physically and emotionally and he is now a productive (albeit injured) player. Yet again, Gregg tried to mislead his readers who don't know better. Webster spent time in the D-league early in his career and is now a productive player.

This past June, J.A. Adande argued that the teens-eligible rule makes the draft nearly irrelevant to pro basketball. Most of the players picked are 19 years of age and won't become proficient for several years -- at which point they will become free agents and sign with someone else.

I urge you to read that article. Gregg is coming to a completely different conclusion that Adande came to. Adande was coming to the conclusion that the draft won't matter because players will collude with other players to choose a team. He wasn't suggesting the draft was pointless because the players don't mature until they hit other teams, he was saying the draft was pointless because players can become free agents at the same time (which is nearly impossible to stop) and then all join the same team. I can't help but wonder if Gregg is actually dumb or he just misunderstands some things intentionally.

The solution is to not allow players into the NBA until age 21. If you think that's the cranky, middle-aged, didn't-play-basketball-in-college view, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar recently advanced this idea.

Even if players weren't allowed in the NBA until the age of 21, James, Wade, and Bosh still could have played on the Heat team together. They could have signed contracts to guarantee this happening.

Teams seem to be taking Adande's advice, if perhaps unintentionally -- there's a clear trend of NBA clubs simply discarding high choices.

Minnesota used the sixth choice of the 2009 draft on Ricky Rubio, who won't play in the NBA until 2011, if he ever does.

This wasn't a wasted pick because Rubio will play in the United States at some point. The Timberwolves had made a lot of mistakes, but spending a pick on Rubio wasn't a waste of a pick because he has talent.

Interestingly, Rubio is 20 years old and wouldn't be able to play in the NBA until 2011 under Easterbrook's plan to only allow 21 year olds to enter the NBA Draft. Naturally, Gregg didn't think about this when criticizing how long it will take Rubio to make it to the NBA.

Last winter, the Grizzlies tried desperately to trade Thabeet, just to get rid of him, but no team wanted the player, who combines dreadful performance with an entitled attitude of stardom. Why not simply open the window and throw first-round draft choices out?

The Grizzlies were the only team that didn't know Thabust sucked. This isn't a matter of wasting 1st round picks, but not properly evaluating the talent available in the draft. It was a wasted pick because of poor talent evaluation.

Telfair is a walking billboard of the reasons teens should not be permitted in the NBA. Jumping to the NBA as a teen cost Telfair tens of millions of dollars in lifetime earnings potential.

This is all based on the false assumption that Telfair would have been a great NBA player if he had gone to college. Suppose he stunk in college and never made the NBA, then Telfair actually made himself millions of dollars he never would have had by going straight to the NBA out of high school.

I wish Bill Simmons would do a point-by-point article about how much of an idiot Gregg Easterbrook is when talking about the NBA. I don't often (if ever) wish for Simmons' help, but I would like to see it here.

By the way, Gregg Easterbrook has done what defensive coordinators can't do. He has figured out how to stop the Oregon offense:

OK. I watched tape of the Oregon-UCLA contest. Down after down, the UCLA defense hustled like mad to get back into position before the snap, to honor gaps. That meant that every time Oregon quarterback Darron Thomas looked up before the snap, he saw the same thing -- a conventional defense lined up exactly as it had been on all previous snaps. With its fast tempo, the Ducks' offense just assumes the defense will never vary. No offense could snap so quickly if the quarterback had to read the defense and then make his calls.

Which is assuming the Oregon quarterback has the autonomy to change calls or change how the offensive linemen block depending on what the defense shows. That's a fairly large assumption that Gregg doesn't think about...but he's the football expert, not me.

So defenses facing Oregon -- don't race to get back to the same spot. Jump around. Vary your positions pre-snap.

I can't see how this could end up being a disaster at all.

Allow front-seven players to move of their own volition, if that's all you can signal in quickly.

Just let the linebackers and defensive linemen move whatever way they damn well please. That should really confuse the quarterback when three defensive linemen and two linebackers move left. He will be confused as to why the defense is so stupid.

I find it hard to believe that defensive players moving on their own volition without knowing where the other defensive players are going to go will actually work. It seems like seven players freelancing could turn out to be a terrible defensive game plan.

Economist Tim Kane of the Kauffman Foundation proposes that a player who causes an injury ">must leave the game too and cannot return -- that day, that year -- until the other player heals.

So if Ray Lewis hits Jerome Harrison and injuries his knee, then Lewis couldn't come back until Harrison came back? I take back what I said earlier about the idea for college basketball teams to lose scholarships for players who leave early...this is the dumbest idea I have ever heard of.

Why wouldn't the Eagles sit Harrison the rest of the year to ensure Ray Lewis can't play? Why wouldn't a player fake an injury and spend the year on IR to make sure the guy who hurt him, who may be a crucial part of the opposing team, can't play all year either? If Cody Grimm gets blocked by Roddy White and blows knee out, then White should have to sit for the rest of the year? What a terrible idea.

Mark Asher of St. Louis proposes, "Booth review of suspect hits, initiated by the booth official not a coach's challenge. If the review booth finds there was a flagrant helmet-to-helmet hit, eject the offending player. Using replay would relieve officials on the field of making split-second judgments about body position at game speed.

More replay that stops the flow of the football game, now that's a great idea.

Next Week: Adding to its acclaimed realism, "Madden 12" will suspend virtual players for helmet-to-helmet contact.

How clever! How about next week Gregg Easterbrook sticks to writing articles about the government and how terrible NASA and the space program is?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

6 comments Bill Plaschke Has a Plan To Ruin Baseball's Postseason

Sorry there was no MMQB yesterday. I had written 3/4 of the post and then Firefox decided it wanted to crash and erased all suggestions that I had just written a lengthy post. I didn't have the energy to go back and re-write the whole thing. I can sum it up pretty easily. Peter King loves Brett Favre and will never fail to mention that Favre is injured as a built-in excuse for him.

Whenever I need a good idea, I look to Bill Plaschke to provide that great idea. Fortunately, he has written another guidebook for me to base my life upon. This time Bill is writing one sentence paragraphs about how baseball's postseason needs improvement. The only thing really wrong with this suggestions to improve MLB's postseason is that 4 of the 5 suggestions suck. Other than that, bang-up job by Plaschke.

I do have to note, in the world of Bill Plaschke writing a column with 1 out of 5 of anything being correct or a good idea is a big win for him. So this could go down as a great article on a "Plaschke Curve."

It has been, as usual, a magical autumn filled with play fakes and head fakes, trick formations and trap blocks, sneaks and sleights and gadgets and gimmicks.

What? I thought we were talking about baseball and now Plaschke starts off talking about football...or his sex life. I will assume it is football. Whatever could he be up to here? I must read more, this first sentence has grabbed my attention and has caused me to wonder what follows, besides one sentence paragraphs of course.

Yet, as usual, nothing has disappeared faster than major league baseball.

Here is the typical, "I am not paying attention to the playoffs because it doesn't hold my interest so I will assume this is the same for everyone" article. Some people don't like baseball. These people won't pay attention to the postseason no matter how hard anyone tries to convince them to. Some people don't pay attention because they are bitter their team didn't make it, so they won't care about the playoffs. It's just a fact. It doesn't mean there is anything to "fix."

One moment there was a wonderfully noisy pennant race. The next moment it was so quiet you could hear a rating point drop.

Plaschke may have the only known case of "West Coast Bias" where he thinks no one cares about the postseason because the Dodgers and Angels aren't in it. San Francisco doesn't count in his mind as a West Coast team apparently.

One moment, we were marveling at the heartening end of a timeless marathon.

A "heartening end of a timeless marathon" that Plaschke wants to completely change. Just stay tuned, not that you would quit reading. I know Plaschke's introductory sentence grabbed your attention as well.

The next moment, we were yawning over the silly steps of a manufactured sprint.

All playoff series in every sport could be categorized as a manufactured sprint. I don't believe this to be exclusive to baseball.

One moment, the country cared. The next moment, much of it didn't, and why should it?

The Dodgers and Angels aren't in the playoffs. Who cares what goes on now?

I also highly doubt the ratings for typical baseball games during the regular season are lower than the ratings for the playoff games. So the country does actually care more now.

I am writing this column on a classic fall Thursday in the middle of a dramatically crisp October afternoon, yet there is not even a hint of baseball's Fall Classic or dramatic October.

I have an idea to improve sports journalism.

Step 1. Don't let Bill Plaschke write columns.
Step 2. Repeat step one.

There was no baseball played on Thursday. There was no baseball played on Wednesday.

Most of the LDS series ended before five games were played. There have to be days where teams can travel and get ready for the next series. This happens at some point in the NBA playoffs, the NHL playoffs, and NEARLY AN ENTIRE WEEK goes by in the NFL playoffs before another game is played. As much fun as it is to have every day filled with baseball, it just isn't realistic between series.

Later in this column, Bill Plaschke will follow up his own complaint about baseball not being on everyday with an idea to have the MLB playoffs take two consecutive days off every single week.

All four remaining teams, in fact, won't be in action together until Saturday,

Why do the teams have to be in action together? The Yankees-Rangers series started Friday evening and continued the very next day, when the Phillies-Giants series started. The teams don't have to be in action together, it actually makes some sense to break the games up. Plaschke is the one complaining there are days without baseball, yet he wants both series to always be played on the same day, which would leave there to be days without baseball while the teams are traveling.

Baseball's postseason rests when it should play, and plays when it should rest, and behaves so differently from the regular season that it's almost not baseball at all.

I have no idea what this means or how playoff baseball is so very different from regular season baseball. I am sure Plaschke will attempt to enlighten me though.

Baseball's postseason is too long on the calendar,

So much for "marveling at the heartening end of a timeless marathon."

not long enough on the field,

I'm assuming Bill Plaschke isn't mentally handicapped until I get more evidence to the contrary, but it is semi-contradictory to want less baseball played and then want more baseball played.

Unless he wants the games to be longer...which would not make sense at all...

too late on the clock,

...or maybe not. So there needs to be less baseball in the regular season, more baseball in the postseason and earlier games? This will fix baseball's postseason?

Here are five things that must change about postseason baseball, one for every skinny middle infielder who will soon show up on your TV screen wearing a ridiculous ski cap and gloves.

The count of players in a ridiculous ski cap and gloves so far: Zero.

Stretch the first round

I agree. The LDS (or "first round" as Plaschke so expertly calls it) should be 7 games long. It's a long season and 7 games should be played in the LDS. I agree with this.

You know what, I will still argue against Plaschke's reasoning for this change, even though I agree with it, because I am a relentless asshole.

The Cincinnati Reds were one of baseball's best stories for six months, yet they were eliminated in 9 hours and 13 minutes. The Minnesota Twins were the one of the pulses of the long baseball summer, yet they were knocked out in a heartbeat.

In the NFL, a team plays from September to late December/early January, can lead their division and then get knocked out in 3 hours. That's not unfair. It's why they call it the playoffs and it part of what makes it so exciting.

Overall, I do agree though. The LDS should be 7 games.

Shorten the regular season

This could save the postseason like cutting off an infected toe could save a leg.

I disagree with this logic. A shorter regular season would not make the postseason any more exciting nor would it cause fans to have more interest in the MLB playoffs. It would just be a shorter season.

Cut the regular season back to 154 games, and don't look so shocked, because history confirms it works.

Decreasing the season by 8 games is part of the cure-all for MLB's playoff woes? I don't believe this is true. It would just shorten the end of the World Series, which I believe wouldn't make the playoffs more attractive to viewers.

So some regular-season statistics would need an asterisk. Like they don't need one already? The stats that steroids didn't kill will survive. Hey, to break baseball's most venerable remaining record, you only need 57 games, right?

Naturally, he's talking about David Eckstein's streak of "doing the gritty things during a game to play the game of baseball the right way."

So owners lose a few home dates? They will gain the money back in a better postseason television deal for a World Series that ends under the pleasant skies of mid-October.

I've always been a little confused by the myth that baseball is losing interest in the playoffs because the World Series ends so late. I know of no person that has said, "fuck this. I only like watching baseball during the month of October. I am done watching baseball on television during the playoffs forever."

What else is interesting is that Plaschke wants to cut 8 games from the schedule, but increase the LDS by two games. Including the gap between games MLB puts in there, with another idea Plaschke will introduce in a minute, along with the idea MLB isn't going to reduce the time between when each series begins and ends from where it is now, and I am not sure much closer to the middle of October the World Series would really end under Plaschke's evil plan.

Last year on Nov. 4 in Philadelphia — the date and possible place of this year's World Series Game 7 — the temperature dipped to 37 degrees. Play ball!

Where is it stated that baseball can not be played in cold weather? I actually have found childhood memories of watching baseball when it is cold out. It seems Bill Plaschke is located in California and thinks 37 degrees is extremely cold.

Take the weekends off

This should be the perfect fix for everyone who wants to watch baseball. Take away the only days during the week most people have off work, can stay up later or can watch sports all day. Brilliant!

While baseball has been snoozing on its increasingly outdated bed of tradition, football has become this country's national pastime. So stop fighting the NFL, stop competing with everybody's alma mater, and learn to make a new niche.

I'm not old, but I can't finish some of the postseason games that start during the week. I have to be at work the next day. If it isn't my favorite team, or a really exciting game, I go to bed and catch up with what happened the next day. That is except for Saturday and Sunday. I stay up and watch all the playoffs games AND (get this) I flip the channel around to the football games I want to watch WHILE I am watching playoff baseball.

So in essence, I watch every game I want to watch and or record one game and watch another. I am pretty sure most Americans own the technology to flip between two games or record one game. Simply put, MLB does have a niche and they shouldn't have to run away from college football and the NFL to have their niche. If playoff games were only on during the week, I would think interest in baseball would actually decrease. Not to sound like a couch potato, but there are also television shows people will want to watch during the week. So baseball would be competing with popular television shows during the week. Of course they compete with these shows now, but playoff games are also on the weekends and not exclusively on the weekdays.

Schedule all postseason games on Monday through Friday, with Monday being a day game because of "Monday Night Football."

Ridiculous. I know Bill Plaschke works in a sports-related field, but if a playoff game took place during the day on every Monday then that would decrease the number of people who could watch the game. Some people have jobs that don't involve a television in front of them.

No days off during this time.

So the playoffs would take 2 days off every week AND extend the LDS by two games...and still the World Series will end in mid-October? Maybe it could happen, but I somewhat doubt it.

I would also love to know how the Giants and Phillies are supposed to play a 8pm game in San Francisco and then travel to Philadelphia for a 8pm game the next day? It's nearly impossible for teams to travel and play everyday in the playoffs.

Make it replicate the regular season, something that doesn't happen now.

During the regular season, most teams have either a Monday or a Thursday off. So by having teams play only during the week and not getting a day off, MLB would have a schedule that is nearly the opposite of what the regular season schedule looks like. So Bill is thinking of an idea that would behave unlike the regular season, which is what he just complained the current playoff setup does.

This year's division series ratings were down 9.4%, so how much help could the weekends be?

I just know that's when I am able to watch every single game and know this is the same for many of my friends.

Play more day games

It's weird, because this column seems more like 5 ideas to ensure playoff ratings drop. What Bill wants to do is essentially alienate both West Coast AND East Coast viewers as much as possible. I hate the idea of day playoff games. Hate it. A lot. I want to watch the actual games and don't want to follow them online at work. More day games means I get to watch fewer games and means I am more likely to tune out to playoff baseball.

Everyone wants them, but nobody has the courage to actually schedule them.

Nobody wants them, which is why they aren't scheduled.

The benefits won't be clearly visible immediately, but without their intermittent charm, the postseason becomes a collection of long and late and yawn.

Logically, to understand and enjoy the charm of postseason baseball, a person would have to like to watch postseason baseball. People who like to watch postseason baseball are probably going to watch the playoffs under the current format. No one is going to tune into a day baseball game for the sole reason it's just so fucking charming to see. No one will do this. Charm is overrated and putting the games on when the public can watch the game is underrated.

Baseball spent about two days this fall bragging about a 2011 World Series schedule that includes one special game with the earliest start in 24 years.

The first pitch will be — woo hoo! — 6:57 p.m. Eastern. Are you kidding me?

Let's say there is a game that starts at 1:00pm EST. For it to be a true day game, that's when it will have to start because it gets dark earlier in late September/early October. This game would essentially be on television when no person who works full time from 8:00am-5:00pm on the East Coast or West Coast could watch it. I do not believe playoff games earlier in the day will cause viewership of these games to increase.

Enough of the champagne

Yes, part of the problem with MLB playoff ratings is that the teams celebrate with champagne. Viewers are immediately turned off by this and will refuse to watch another game of baseball.

(rolls eyes like a teenager would)

But they do not deserve to celebrate like New Year's Eve nuts just three wins later. And then again just four wins after that. The excessive partying in earlier rounds devalues the perception of the World Series, which is what all of these changes are designed to fix.

It's good to see Plaschke saved the most moronic reason for last. Is there really a person who feels the World Series is devalued by teams celebrating a divisional or wild card clinching win? I don't believe viewers are so stupid as to see a team partying after winning the LDS and then thinks that means the World Series isn't as important.

Well, that's all for now. Gotta run. It's a fall Thursday night and I'm sure there's a football game on somewhere.

Here's the deal. Baseball should not run from football. Those people who like baseball will watch the baseball game and those who want to watch a football game will watch the football game. Or they will use a remote control to flip back and forth. The NFL is more popular than baseball when they go head-to-head. That's a fact now and changing the schedule around to avoid NFL/college football games so that fewer baseball fans may be able to catch the game and essentially making the MLB playoffs an afterthought for sports fans will eventually do just that. Plaschke's list is a fail.