Monday, February 28, 2011

6 comments Gregg Easterbrook Again Points Out Where Everyone, Except Himself, Was Wrong

At the end of every NFL season Gregg Easterbrook likes to write down where NFL writers were wrong about predicting the upcoming NFL season. I won't let him get away with that. Just like last year I am going to focus on Gregg's terrible preseason predictions from earlier this year and then I will cover this week's TMQ. Gregg makes bad predictions and comments on a nearly weekly basis, so I will just stick to seeing how wrong he was about each NFL team's predicted record. If I tried to cover his wrong comments all year then I would have to make this a 10 part series.

AFC East

Gregg's predicted records:

New York Jets: 10-6
New England Patriots: 9-7
Miami Dolphins: 9-7
Buffalo Bills: 4-12

Actual record:

New England Patriots: 14-2
New York Jets: 11-5
Miami Dolphins: 7-9
Buffalo Bills: 4-12

He did get the Bills record correct, but he missed this division by 8 games. This will be one of his better showings.

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

This year Gregg referred to Lynch as an "unwanted players" by their previous team and ignored the fact he referred to him as being a bust. Gregg likes to pretend teams should have known something about these "unwanted" players, when in reality Gregg didn't know they were good either.

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

Aaron Hernandez, Rob Gronkowski and Devin McCourty argue differently.

Later in this TMQ, Gregg will comment on the "wrongness" of an analyst who said Dez Bryant would help lead the Cowboys to the Super Bowl. Also, C.J. Spiller lost his job to undrafted free agent Fred Jackson this year. Of course, Gregg will never mention again that he suggested the Patriots quit banking draft picks and get someone explosive like Spiller. I am surprised he hasn't had it scrubbed from his 2010 NFL preview.

NFC East

Gregg's predicted records:

Dallas Cowboys: 11-5
Philadelphia Eagles: 9-7
New York Giants: 9-7
Washington Redskins: 6-10

Actual records:

Philadelphia Eagles: 10-6
New York Giants: 10-6
Dallas Cowboys: 6-10
Washington Redskins: 6-10

Yet again, Gregg nails the correct record of a team. He did miss on the NFC East by 7 games though.

Last winter, Fletcher finally appeared in a Pro Bowl, though as an injury replacement. Tuesday Morning Quarterback continues to believe London Fletcher will become the first modern NFL player to be named to the Hall of Fame despite never being voted into a Pro Bowl.

Fletcher made the Pro Bowl this year. So Gregg can stop believing this now.

AFC North

Gregg's predicted records:

Baltimore Ravens: 12-4
Pittsburgh Steelers: 9-7
Cincinnati Bengals: 9-7
Cleveland Browns: 4-12

Actual records:

Pittsburgh Steelers: 12-4
Baltimore Ravens: 12-4
Cleveland Browns: 5-11
Cincinnati Bengals: 4-12

Gregg missed the AFC North by 9 games.

Last summer, Suggs, a pass-rush specialist, signed a deal with $39 million guaranteed -- and he already has the $39 million, as it was a rare front-loaded deal. What does Baltimore have? Suggs registered 4.5 sacks in 2009, or $8.7 million per sack. Last summer, Suggs celebrated his megadeal by reporting out of shape. This winter, with the $39 million already banked, he celebrated by skipping minicamp. Suggs has been nearly as much of a disappointment as Haynesworth.

What an idiot Gregg can be. Suggs had 11 sacks and 68 tackles this year. He also made his 4th Pro Bowl. I bet other teams wish they had more disappointments like Terrell Suggs. Comparing Albert Haynesworth to Terrell Suggs is one of the dumbest and most intelligent forms of sports journalism.

NFC North

Gregg's predicted records:

Green Bay Packers: 12-4
Minnesota Vikings: 10-6
Chicago Bears: 6-10
Detroit Lions: 4-12

Actual finish:

Chicago Bears: 11-5
Green Bay Packers: 10-6
Minnesota Vikings: 6-10
Detroit Lions: 6-10

Gregg missed the NFC North by 13 games. Not a great showing at all.

Unless Bradford becomes a star, there could be rending of garments and gnashing of teeth in St. Louis over the Rams' draft-day decision.

I hear the Rams are devastated they have found a franchise quarterback. You can hear the gnashing of teeth that Bradford exceeded expectations as a rookie. Ndamukong Suh was great this year as well, but the Rams are still happy with their decision I am sure.

AFC South

Gregg's predicted records:

Indianapolis Colts: 12-4
Tennessee Titans: 9-7
Houston Texans: 8-8
Jacksonville Jaguars: 5-11

Actual records:

Indianapolis Colts: 10-6
Jacksonville Jaguars: 8-8
Houston Texans: 6-10
Tennessee Titans: 6-10

Gregg missed the AFC South by 10 games.

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

No return on investment unless you want to count the two defensive tackles the Jaguars have that are 24 and 23 years old respectively and combined for 7.5 sacks this year. The Jaguars appear to be on the right track in regard to their defensive line, at least in regard to defensive tackles.

NFC South

Gregg's predicted records:

New Orleans Saints: 12-4
Atlanta Falcons: 10-6
Carolina Panthers: 8-8
Tampa Bay Bucs: 4-12

Actual records:

Atlanta Falcons: 13-3
New Orleans Saints: 11-5
Tampa Bay Bucs: 10-6
Carolina Panthers: 2-14

Gregg missed the NFC South by 16 games. Not. Good.

AFC West

Gregg's predicted records:

San Diego Chargers: 10-6
Denver Broncos: 9-7
Kansas City Chiefs: 6-10
Oakland Raiders: 5-11

Actual records:

Kansas City Chiefs: 10-6
San Diego Chargers: 9-7
Oakland Raiders: 8-8
Denver Broncos: 4-12

Gregg missed the AFC West by 13 games. He really isn't getting too much more accurate as this goes on.

NFC West

Gregg's predicted records:

Arizona Cardinals: 10-6
San Francisco 49ers: 6-10
Seattle Seahawks: 6-10
St. Louis Rams: 3-13

Actual records:

Seattle Seahawks: 7-9
St. Louis Rams: 7-9
San Francisco 49ers: 6-10
Arizona Cardinals: 5-11

Gregg missed the NFC West by 10 games. That's considered progress for the guy who spends an entire column making fun of other people's predictions. Perhaps he should look at his own predictions for where he was wrong more than he does.

This team has won just six games in the past three seasons -- and, for the moment, has the highest-paid player in the NFL by the only measure that matters: guarantees. Why did the Rams choose Sam Bradford over Ndamukong Suh? Obviously, quarterback is the most important position in football, but I think the other factor is that Bradford looks like a quarterback should: He's tall and handsome.

Well, that and the Rams needed a starting quarterback and it turns out Sam Bradford looks like he will be a good one. I am sure it has something to do with the fact Bradford is tall and handsome more than it has to do with the fact he ended up being the right choice.

Now Gregg gets to the dirty business of criticizing other people's predictions, because Gregg was so accurate in most of the things he said.

Offseason Predictions: "Off" is the operative word

If a writer is going to do an entire column on how everyone else is wrong, wouldn't it make sense for that writer to make sure he is right or at least cover his own incorrect predictions more in-depth? Not so shockingly, Gregg is critical of some predictions that he seemed to believe himself were true.

Skip Bayless of ESPN said drafting Dez Bryant made Dallas "the favorite to win the Super Bowl." The Cowboys missed the playoffs.

Gregg said the Patriots should have traded up to get Bryant or CJ Spiller, who had all of 460 yards running and catching the ball this year. Granted, Gregg didn't say the Patriots would have made the Super Bowl if they had drafted Bryant. Gregg is too chicken to make an actual prediction like that.

"A case can be made that the Arizona Cardinals' future has never looked brighter," Jim Trotter of Sports Illustrated wrote in the offseason. Arizona finished 5-11.

Gregg Easterbrook predicted the Cardinals would win the NFC West. Gregg predicted they would have a 10-6 record, which would have been their best record (tied with their 2009 record) since 1976 when they went 10-4. Verily, they ended up last. It sounds to me like Gregg thought the Cardinals future had never looked brighter too, even if he didn't come right out and say it that way.

Also notice how very few of the quotes Gregg provides us have links with them. We are either supposed to look up for ourselves whether these people said these things (which I would highly recommend) or trust Gregg to be correct (which I would not recommend). The least he could do when he cites these quotes is to provide a link so people like me don't believe he is making them up or taking them out of context.

In the offseason, Mike Sellers of the Redskins predicted "the sky's the limit" for the Skins' offense. Washington finished 18th on offense. Since the mesosphere stops at about 53 miles, a "sky's the limit" offense would need to gain 53 miles. The most productive NFL offense in 2010, San Diego's, gained 3.6 miles.

Clearly, to non-morons, Mike Sellers was using hyperbole.

For the Rams to draft Bradford, meanwhile, "would be a catastrophic mistake" according to Trent Dilfer of ESPN just before the 2010 draft. Bradford was the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.

Gregg said on two occasions that I know of (I quoted him above) the Rams should have drafted Ndamukong Suh over Sam Bradford.

Michael Wilbon, then of The Washington Post, predicted the Steelers would not make the playoffs, as did the New York Post.

Gregg Easterbrook had the Steelers 2nd in the AFC North at a record of 9-7. He gave five other teams a 9-7 record, so there is a good chance he would have had the Steelers miss the playoffs if he had the balls to give predictions on which of his 9-7 teams would make the playoffs. Basically, Gregg easily could not have had the Steelers in the playoffs, but he is too chicken to make playoff predictions even after he has guessed the record of each team.

None of USA Today's eight preseason predictions had Pittsburgh reaching the Super Bowl. Three USA Today predictors forecast Mike Singletary as coach of the year, one forecast Wade Phillips as coach of the year; both were fired.

Of course Gregg chose not to make a prediction for coach of the year. He finds it better to criticize everyone else's choice for Super Bowl winner, coach of the year, playoff participant, and nearly every single other award rather than make predictions himself.

Cris Carter predicted Dwayne Bowe would be the "breakout" player of the year.

Bowe had 72 catches for 1,162 yards and 15 touchdowns this year. The yards and touchdowns were career highs. Bowe did breakout this year by having his best season yet as a pro. So Cris Carter was right in some way.

Perhaps he meant to say "shutout," as Bowe had no receptions in Kansas City's home playoff loss.

That was one game. Not an entire season. Gregg mocks Cris Carter's prediction, which was accurate, because Bowe had a bad game in the postseason. This is what readers of TMQ have to deal with on a weekly basis. Gregg criticizes a season-long prediction based on season-long performance by using data from one game as proof this season-long prediction was incorrect, when in fact the season-long prediction was correct.

Jimmy Johnson of Fox and Boomer Esiason of CBS predicted the Cowboys in the Super Bowl, while Michael Irvin of NFL Network had the Chargers in the Super Bowl; neither made the playoffs.

Gregg had both of these teams winning their division. I am assuming since they won their division he would have also had the Cowboys and Chargers in the playoffs.

The Wall Street Journal predicted Ohio State would meet Oklahoma for the BCS title, while the SEC run in title games was "probably over."

To be fair, both Oklahoma and Ohio State made a BCS bowl game this year.

The Journal foresaw Canada winning 37 medals. When the games were half complete and Canada held nine medals, the paper wrote, "the prognosticators haven't handicapped Canada well so far," not noting The Wall Street Journal itself was the guilty party.

This is the pot calling the kettle black. Gregg is really going to criticize a paper for glossing over their own incorrect predictions?

The Associated Press preseason top 25 included Connecticut, Dayton, Michigan, North Carolina and Texas. All failed to make the tournament -- that is, failed to finish in the top 65.

Not exactly. There are things called "automatic bids" to the NCAA Tournament that teams who win their conference championship receive. These teams could have very well been among the Top 65 teams in the nation in regard to record (which they were), but they just didn't have a good enough record to get an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. It doesn't mean they aren't better teams than some of the teams that got an automatic bid.

Last year teams with the following records made the NCAA Tournament:

19-15 (Houston)
20-14 (ETSU)
17-15 (Arkansas-Pine Bluff)

Since there are automatic bids given to the NCAA Tournament it is nearly impossible to say any of those five teams weren't among the Top 65 teams in college basketball during the 2009/2010 season. Arkansas-Pine Bluff and UConn both went 17-15. Can it really be said Arkansas Pine-Bluff was a better team because they got an automatic bid?

Drafting Darren McFadden "would be the worst decision a team can make" -- Mike Celizic, MSNBC Sports, just before the 2008 draft. McFadden "will be the colossal bust of this draft" -- Brian Baldinger of Fox Sports, just after the 2008 draft.McFadden had 1,664 yards from scrimmage in 2010.

He had 1,386 yards from scrimmage combined the two years prior to 2010. So these two guys were wrong (why is Gregg picking on Celizic? Way to pick on the dead guy, Gregg), but before the beginning of this season they would have been fairly correct.

On April 30, 2009, Todd McShay of ESPN offered a prediction of the first round of the 2010 draft. The top of the way-in-advance mock draft was quite similar to what would happen. But McShay predicted Adam Ulatoski of Texas, Ciron Black of LSU, Sergio Render of Virginia Tech and DeMarcus Granger of Oklahoma would be first-round selections. Not only did none of them go in the first round -- none of them was drafted at all.

I like how Gregg says, "the top of the way-in-advance mock draft was quite similar to what would happen." Yeah, it was really damn similar. In fact, there is no reason to criticize McShay for three guys not even getting drafted from the mock draft when he can accurately predict a draft a year in advance like he did.

Here's McShay's draft and here is the actual draft. A year in advance, McShay got 8 of the 16 picks I have access to (as a non-Insider) correct AND he got the actual draft position of 3 of these players correct. That's somewhat impressive. Of course, Gregg focuses on the 3 guys who didn't get drafted out of this group, not the fact McShay got 8 of 16 1st round picks correct.

Reader Osman Ahmed of Chicago proposed to solve this problem by requiring NFL players to list their degree type, that is, Myron Rolle of the Titans could choose between "Florida State, BS" or "Oxford University, MS." Since about half of NFL players did not graduate from college, if one player's bio said "University of Tennessee, BA" and the other's just said "University of Tennessee," that would reveal who graduated and who merely attended.

I have an even better idea. How about we just stick with what we do now and have the person listed as coming from X college? Because after all, it doesn't matter if a player graduated or not to the average football fan and if it did matter then there is this thing called the Internet where this information is fairly easily found.

On "Fringe," the heroes just learned there was an advanced human civilization on Earth far in the past, but it disappeared 251 million years ago, during the Permian extinction. The past civilization built a device designed to destroy the entire universe -- it's not explained why this was viewed as useful -- then before falling extinct, disassembled the device and buried the pieces around the world. In the show, FBI agents discover a map of the locations of the pieces, dig them up and hand them over to a sinister corporation for reassembly. It's not explained why this, either, is viewed as useful.

But if the pieces were buried 251 million years ago, they would not now be in the same locations, rendering the map worthless. That far back in history, all the world's land mass was formed into the single continent Pangaea. Tectonic forces that separated Pangaea would have scrambled the locations where the pieces of the ancient machine were buried -- and likely would have ripped up the pieces, leaving scrap metal, if any trace.

Wow! You mean this fictional television show is telling fictional stories? Next thing you know Gregg will tell us he can't tell me how to get to Sesame Street because it isn't real. How inaccurate is that show? A huge bird that talks...AND speaks English! How convenient!

As for exact final scores, TMQ does not fathom why people attempt to predict them -- this is a total waste of everyone's time. This season 23-20 was the most common NFL outcome, occurring on 13 occasions. If you'd simply endlessly picked Home Team 23, Visitors 20, you would have been right now and then -- more than can be said by any full-time professional NFL commentator.

Guessing scores is supposed to be fun. In fact, all of this is supposed to be fun, but Gregg tries to suck all of the fun out of the NFL and look at it from a scholarly point of view...which fails.

One of TMQ's themes this season has been the need for all levels of football to mandate that only advanced helmets -- which reduce concussion risk, though definitely do not eliminate it -- be worn. See last week's column for details. But what if your high school or youth program can't afford the $200 models TMQ advocates?

Apparently someone wrote in to Gregg informing him that in public schools, as opposed to the probable private school education that Gregg's children received, there is a budget crisis. So Gregg's solution to not being able to afford $200 helmets is...

Be sure players always have their mouth guards in their mouths.

Oh ok. So after this entire season of gnashing his teeth and talking about high schools get their cue from the NFL as to what helmets are appropriate, Gregg tells us high school football players to wear a mouthpiece to solve the concussion problem. What I get from this information is that after bitching and moaning this entire year about high school players not having the correct helmet, Gregg finally has realized the correct helmet is inaffordable for many high schools. This doesn't negate his point about concussions, but if mouth guards are such a great backup why hasn't he mentioned them every week like he did the anti-concussion helmets?

So mouth guards should be worn instead. There is nothing like complaining all year about a solution that isn't necessarily feasible financially and essentially giving up on that solution when finally presented with the evidence of the potential financial problems with the solution. Yet, I know Gregg will bitch about this same thing next year, again forgetting high schools have limited funds to purchase athletic equipment.

Worst Predictions of the Year:
Think the above predictions are bad? Here are the worst predictions of the year (Hey, if you go out on a limb, sometimes it snaps).

Runner-up: Gregg Easterbrook, I foresaw a Super Bowl of Packers versus Colts; before the 2010 season, I forecast a Super Bowl of Saints versus Colts. So I've called three of the last four Super Bowl entrants correctly -- not too shabby.

It goes downhill from there. I thought the Bears would be 6-10, the Bucs 4-12, the Bolts in the playoffs. I predicted, "L.T. is likely to struggle in 2010" -- he just missed 1,000 yards. I warned the Packers lacked "postseason zing." That seemed to change.

So we get four sentences of how Gregg was wrong about his predictions. How humble of him. If he wrote down all the predictions and comments he makes from week-to-week that were wrong then he would have written 4,000 sentences.

Worst Predictions of the Year: Chris Berman, ESPN. The morning of Week One, Berman forecast a Super Bowl of Vikings over Chargers; neither made the playoffs. In November, he switched his forecast to Eagles over Patriots. In January, he switched his forecast to Patriots over Eagles. Thus on six tries, Berman failed to predict either Super Bowl entrant. Berman bonus: styling himself as "The Swami," Berman went 59-57. Thus even when picking only games he felt confident about, Berman barely bested flipping a coin.

I'm not going to argue with Gregg picking on Chris Berman. It's the least he can do since I am going to have to hear Berman sweatily scream "back, back, back...gone" about 1,000 times this summer and the audience has to hear Berman's terrible pun nicknames for players through the entire year. In fact, I am not sure I mind if anyone picks on Berman.

Season Sign-Off:
Tuesday Morning Quarterback folds its tent and steals off into the desert, though will resurface briefly during the draft.

TMQ is over for the year. Try not to be too upset.

Perform volunteer work. Appreciate the beauty of nature. Read, meditate, serve others. Do these things, and you will feel justified in racing back to the remote, the swimsuit calendars and the microbrews when the football artificial universe resumes anew in the autumn.

Why would a person go back to the swimsuit calendars in September when the year doesn't start until January? That's Swimsuit Calendar Creep!

Also, the football universe (with no strike) begins in mid-July with training camp, when it is still officially summer, not autumn. That's Seasonal Creep!

A work of pure awareness as life concludes, "The Memory Chalet" is a book God would read.

God would not read TMQ.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

7 comments Oh Murray, Can't We Just Agree I'm Right?

I have started a Yahoo Bottom of the Barrel fantasy baseball league for anyone who wants to join up. The league id is "36835" and the password is "eckstein." It is open to anyone who wants to join, as long as you are an active manager and keep up with your team. I don't want anyone to quit halfway through they year and not keep up with their team.

There is a massive void in the Bottom of the Barrel world with Joe Morgan and his chats no longer with ESPN. I enjoyed doing chats, so I am submitting this question to you all. Do you know of any sportswriter/sports figure that writes poorly or does chats every week which happen to be a real adventure? I'm having chat withdrawal and would love to find someone as equally as inept as Joe Morgan to cover during the baseball season. Feel free to leave suggestions in the comments or email me. I can only cover so much of the bad sportswriting that is out there, sometimes I need a point in the right direction. I would love to find another baseball-related chat to cover this summer.

Before I get to Murray Chass, I wanted to draw you in to a couple of lines of idiocy from an article Dan Shaughnessy wrote about John Lackey and his struggles last year. This topic was covered much more effectively here by Jeremy Lundblad. Lundblad uses data and actual evidence to show where Lackey's struggles were last year? Why would you do that when you could just speculate and take cheap shots at bloggers? That's Dan Shaughnessey's opinion.

Reading Shaughnessy's take on Lackey and then reading Lundblad makes you realize watching Dan Shaughnessy get to any discussion that has some sense of depth to it is like watching a kitten fight a grizzly bear. It's just sad to see. He should stick to human interest pieces. Shaughnessy can only muster up reasoning for Lackey's potential improvement this year being because he has a better defense behind him (yet we will see Shaughnessy doesn't get how this is directly related to wins being overrated) and he lost 11 pounds (but he looks like he lost so much more!).

Let me just give you a sample of the article Shaughnessy wrote on Lackey.

In 33 starts, Lackey went 14-11 with a 4.40 ERA. He led the Sox with 215 innings and struck out 156. Only 14 American League pitchers won more games than Lackey. So how come Lackey gets the Way Back Wasdin treatment everywhere he goes?

Why does Dan write a question in a column and then immediately give an answer to that question? The answer: To kill space. Writing 500 words (without quotes) four times a week is hard!

Probably because of the five-year, $82.5 million contract he signed before the start of last season.

Yeah. Could be. Normally a $82.5 million contract doesn't involve so much pressure, but those hyper-demanding fans of the Red Sox with their super high expectations because they are the best fan base in the history of sports put pressure on Lackey he wouldn't have felt anywhere else.

"Why doesn't everyone see Alex Rodriguez as the greatest bargain in the history of sports. He gives the Yankees so much production! It could be because he makes nearly $30 million per year. Maybe. We're not sure yet. It's too early to tell."

He put a ton of guys on base and got a lot of wins because the Sox offense gave him plenty of support when he pitched.

Which is why wins are fairly overrated by writers like Dan. Right, Dan?

Oh, and let’s not forget that sun-starved stat geeks insist wins are overrated.

Guess not. At this point calling stat geeks "sun-starved" says more about the person writing the sentence than the stat geek the sentence is referring to. It tells the reader the writer is unable to process that stat geeks have been hired by nearly every reputable major sports news/entertainment organization. It has happened, so accept it and move on. I am not sure how Dan Shaughnessy, he of the white person jheri curl and complete lack of dark pigmentation in his skin, should be talking about any other person being "sun-starved."

He’s moving forward with a new body, a new defense, and even more offensive support.

Yet knowing this, sun-starved stat geeks still are wrong to think wins are somewhat overrated? Even when Shaughnessy admits three of the things that helps Lackey move forward in the upcoming year are completely out of his control? Wouldn't this make a person think the idea of solely judging Lackey on his wins may not be the best thing to do? Evidently not.

This of course transitions into my post for today involving Murray Chass. We all know he hates not judging a player entirely on his wins and this column is more proof of this.

Let's look at another sport, the NFL, as further proof wins are overrated. I know a team winning in football and a pitcher winning in baseball isn't the same thing. They are similar in some ways though. One unit (the defense/offense/special teams for football, pitching/hitting/defense for baseball) is lumped in with the end result of what the other units have done in the category of a "win."

We know the Panthers were the worst team in the NFL this year and they won 2 games. Pathetic. The Patriots were the best team in the NFL this year and won 14 games. Awesome. Looking at the Panthers defensive unit and saying they didn't do enough to win more than 2 games would make sense to Murray Chass and looking at the Patriots defense he would say they did enough to win 14 games would make sense to him as well. At its core, I guess this makes some sense. It is a very overly-simplistic way of looking at it, but it makes some sort of sense.

The problem lies in that you can't judge an individual unit in baseball or football based on a team achievement like wins. I don't think any idiot would do this in football because the special teams/offense/defense are seen as separate entities from each other. A great example of this are the San Diego Chargers who were good on offense and defense in 2010, but didn't make he playoffs. Many football analysts were able to isolate the problem with special teams that lost them a couple of games, rather than just saying "X player didn't do enough to get a win for the Chargers." It is hard to base a team win/loss on the effect of one player/unit. This is true in baseball where hitting and fielding play a huge role in whether a team wins or loses (especially in baseball where 2-3 players can have an awful night hitting and the team still can win) and then people like Murray Chass lumps them all into the "win" category and evaluates pitchers based solely on that.

So Carolina won 2 games and New England won 14. Therefore Murray would say Carolina's defense was terrible and New England's was great. This is true. But there wasn't as huge of a gap in the defenses as you would think.

Carolina's defense was 18th in the NFL in total yards given up, 26th in points given up, 11th in passing yards given up, and 23rd in rushing yards given up. Not great at all. The rushing yards were probably skewed a bit because opposing teams didn't have to throw the ball because they were ahead.

New England's defense was 25th in yards given up, 8th in points given up, 30th in passing yards given up, and 11th in rushing yards given up. That's not bad and it is obvious teams passed well on New England because opposing teams were trying to catch up. Still, the defense in these two defenses doesn't appear to be a 12 game difference. So what was the difference?

The offense of each team. Carolina was 32nd in yards gained, while New England was 8th. Carolina was 32nd in points per game and New England was 1st. Carolina was 32nd in passing yards and New England was 8th. Carolina was 13th in rushing yards and New England was 11th. That's the difference. What's interesting to me is people can recognize this and judge each team accordingly based on how each unit played in football, but in baseball Murray Chass can't do this. If Seattle is last in MLB in offense, he still bitches that Felix Hernandez won the Cy Young award. Somehow the performance of each individual unit affecting the overall performance of the team eludes him when it comes to baseball.

The standard started dropping in 2009 when Zack Greinke won the American League Cy Young award with 16 wins and Tim Lincecum won the National League award with 15 wins. It fell even lower last year when Felix Hernandez won the A.L. award with 13 victories.

I don't hate wins, they serve their purpose, but to say "the standard" started dropping because one measly statistic isn't as overrated right now as it Murray wants it to is a bit stupid. The fact wins aren't the primary statistic used to determine the Cy Young Award appears to be Murray's biggest problem. As I showed repeatedly during the baseball season, the only stat Felix Hernandez wasn't among the leaders in was wins. That's it. If he had 18 wins, then Murray would have advocated for him as the Cy Young Award winner.

Now the standard has hit rock bottom. Ross Ohlendorf has won his salary arbitration case despite having won only one game last season.

He won his arbitration case! Insanity! He should have been forced to pay the Pirates money for being so terrible! Or at a minimum, he should have been executed on the spot.

One victory equals $2,025,000, the three-member panel of arbitrators ruled last week. The $1.4 million salary Pittsburgh submitted wasn’t enough of a raise from the $439,000 salary Ohlendorf earned last year.

I will agree the arbitration process is sort of out of control. Any process that gives Jeff Francoeur a raise at any point in his career is a process that needs to be re-examined. Arbitration isn't always a terrible idea, but I am not sure Ohlendorf deserved a $1.6 million raise.

The poor pathetic Pirates didn’t have to wait for the 2011 season to extend their historic 18-year losing streak. The arbitrators have done it for them.

(Starts throwing fruit at Murray)

In the past a pitcher who won only one game the previous season would have been thrilled to settle his salary before a hearing for a figure between the salary he submitted and the figure the club put it;

Yep, that's why they call it the past...because it isn't what happens today. This isn't always a bad thing.

But times have changed for pitchers. They don’t have to win games any more. Just throw some good-looking statistics out there other than wins, and they can win Cy Young awards and salary arbitration cases.

It is not OTHER than wins, it is IN ADDITION to wins. Why does it just have to be black and white with no gray area? No one wants to completely get rid of wins, but some people (like me) merely want to stop the over-reliance on the statistic.

Arbitrators do not have to explain their decisions; they issue no oral or written opinions.

Murray should like a system where a person can just write something or give a proclamation and then get no feedback from it. That's what he liked most about the pre-Internet days when he could write a column and feel good about what he wrote being perfect without hearing from those pesky readers that they disagreed with him.

The way salary arbitration has worked, though, is the players most often win even when they lose. As Mike Norris, an Oakland pitcher, said years ago after losing his case, “No problem. I was either going to wake up rich or richer.”

This is pretty much the case for any sport when it comes to a team negotiating a new contract with a player. Whether it be a one year deal or a long-term contract, that player is going to be wealthy if an MLB, NFL or NBA team wants him. In terms of salary most professional athletes in the three major sports are rich.

He played for the Yankees in parts of 2007 and ’08 before they sent him to Pittsburgh in a four-player package for Xavier Nady and Damaso Marte. He had an 11-10 record and 3.92 earned run average in 2009

Only 11 wins with the Pirates? He should have paid them for the opportunity to pitch in the majors.

Last year an early-season back ailment and a late-season shoulder injury limited Ohlendorf to 21 starts in which he produced a 1-11 record and a 4.07 e.r.a.

Here are some other statistics Ohlendorf accumulated as well. A 100 ERA+, 1.385 WHIP, and a 2.0 WAR. So he was a pretty league average pitcher.

Yet he and his lawyer, John Fetterolf of the Washington firm of Williams (Edward Bennett) and Connolly, engineered an argument that overcame his one-win season.

They basically emphasized statistics other than wins and losses, especially the run support the Pirates provided Ohlendorf.

How crazy! You mean his lawyer looked out for his client and ensured he got the best possible deal? Attorneys are scum!

In the new age of judging pitchers run support has become a telling factor. That’s why Hernandez won his Cy Young award.

Felix Hernandez also won the Cy Young award based on the fact he was the best pitcher in the American League last year. I have highlighted Hernandez's numbers for 2010 many times. He didn't win the Cy Young award for no reason, he won because other than wins he was the best pitcher in the American League. The Cy Young award wasn't just given to the pitcher who got the least run support, though Hernandez would be in the running if it was decided that way since the Mariners gave him 3.06 runs per game.

Under this new-age thinking, if a team doesn’t score more than three runs a game, a pitcher isn’t expected to win.

This is absolutely not true. There is not new-age thinking that says this. What the new-age thinking says is that if a pitcher only has on-average 3 runs per game scored for him then he isn't going to have a very good chance of winning and this should be taken into account when looking at the number of wins he earned. It's very logical.

No longer is a pitcher expected to win 3-2 or 2-1. If his team doesn’t score at least four runs, it’s not the pitcher’s fault if he doesn’t win.

There is nothing like completely making up the opposing side's opinion. It makes it much easier to frame your own argument when you can misinterpret and deceive your audience on what the opposing side actually believes. It is the pitcher's fault his team doesn't win, but it isn't completely his fault the team doesn't win, so the loss he gets isn't entirely his fault. This is due to the fact that pitcher's team needs to provide him some sort of offense in order for him to win. Yes, the pitcher deserves some fault for his team losing, but to saddle him with the loss and blame the loss all on him is deceiving. The offense has to score runs for a pitcher.

There was once a time when pitchers were expected to win unless their team scored no runs, and then they were expected to tie.

I agree with this. It's a nice, dreamland way of thinking about it. In the real world though, the blame for a team losing a game because the offense didn't score any runs should be on that pitcher's offense for not scoring the runs...specifically in the American League where the pitcher doesn't even bat.

But those days disappeared with the advent of the quality start, the questionable creation of a Detroit writer, John Lowe, a nice guy but a little off in his thinking.

Lowe actually wrote for the Philadelphia Enquirer at the time. Details! Who needs them?

If a pitcher pitches six innings and gives up three or fewer earned runs he is credited with a quality start. Never mind that three earned runs in six innings computes to a 4.50 earned run average; that’s a quality start.

I will admit the quality start threshold may be a bit low. Still, an offense has to score runs for the pitcher. Pitchers get blamed for not doing their job well if they lose a 12-11 game don't they? No one would say the offense didn't do enough to win the game. So why wouldn't the opposite be true and an offense get part of the blame for a pitcher losing a 2-1 game?

Eleven of Ohlendorf’s 21 starts fit the so-called quality category, but he won only one, which happened to be a genuine quality start in the dictionary definition of the word because he shut out the Phillies for seven innings.

This is the dictionary definition of quality start (you will see the dictionary definition isn't at all what Murray thinks it is. His delusions of how he wants the world to be extend outside of baseball to definitions in the dictionary):

"a quality start is a statistic for a starting pitcher defined as a game in which the pitcher completes at least six innings and permits no more than three earned runs."

Maybe Murray Chass is looking in the "Imaginary Dictionary for the World Murray Chass Would Like to See Created," but in the real world dictionary definition Ohlendorf had 11 quality starts.

Players can compare themselves with others, and Fetterolf compared Ohlendorf with Armando Galarraga of Arizona and Brandon Morrow of Toronto, each of whom has a $2.3 million salary.

Galarraga won 4 games and Morrow won 10 games.

If they had been dealing with at least occasional paycuts, arbitrators this year might have looked at Ohlendorf’s 1-11 record and said don’t give me that nonsense about poor run support and other impressive statistics. Pitchers are paid to win games, and he didn’t win games. He won one game.

Pitchers are paid to pitch as well as they can. If the offense scores more runs than the pitchers gives up then he will get the win. Pitchers are paid to win, but there is also an assumption that the offense of the team will do enough to help that pitcher win. After all, a pitcher can't win a game where his offense doesn't score any runs. Hitters are paid to win games by scoring more runs than the other team, I don't get how this fact is conveniently ignored when evaluating a pitcher's record.

Wins are a dumb category to base a pitcher's entire performance upon. It is like basing a hitter's performance entirely on his batting average. It is not nonsense that some pitchers don't get enough run support. Any moron who can do basic math can see this isn't entirely accurate. The hitters on a team have to score more runs than their pitcher gives up and these are two separate events that have to happen for a team to win a game. No matter how good a pitcher is, if a team doesn't score many runs for him or his bullpen can't hold a lead, he can't win a game.

Pitchers can not be perfect and they can't pitch well enough to win a game because pitchers are not telepathic and don't know what the final score of the game will end up being. So they pitch the absolute best they can and hope their team scores enough runs to win the game. Just like hitters don't get held completely accountable for not scoring enough runs to win a 10-9 game, pitchers should not be held completely accountable for losing a 2-1 game.

Friday, February 25, 2011

2 comments BotB Podcast #9

In this week's podcast, Ben and I somewhat break down/analyze/make tangentially related comments about all the deadlines deals. Cam Newton and the NFL Draft also make their appearance. We'd also like to apologize for not discussing mascots as we promised at the end of last week's podcast. Not that anyone wanted to hear that discussion, but I'm going to apologize nonetheless.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

7 comments So The Trades Happened. Now What?

As you may have heard, a bunch of players were traded in the last few days. And as you may or may not realize, the basketball games have to be played now. When trades happen, everyone cannot help but feeling theoretical and prophetic, myself included. It's nice to think about what might happen. Trade A equals outcome A. Trade B equals outcome B. In reality, however, what has really changed in the NBA?

Nothing, I would say. All the top tier teams have avoided change. All the blockbuster trades involved teams far from contention or barely in the picture. Of course this is an understandable trend. Teams at the top already have potentially championship rosters. Yet the trading among lesser teams is exactly what seems to be the problem. When there are only a handful of contenders, the other 23 teams are attempting to enter the picture. At the current rate of the NBA, we will have a league divided in two: those who can win a title, and those who are 5 years or more away. Making matters worse, these terrible teams are relegated to smaller markets.

Most of the time I'm quick to offer a half-thought-out resolution that 25% satisfies people, 75% enrages them. This time, however, I've got nothing. I do not want to see the NBA contract. Even though I'm from a big market, I like competitive balance. The NBA could turn into the NFL, implementing a hard cap and no team continuity. But current rules and the history of the league in general will be a major impeding factor.

So I'd like to take this opportunity to pose the following question:

How does the NBA (David Stern) fix this problem?

Hopefully we can get a good discussion going in the comments section.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

17 comments We Have to Talk About These Trades, Right?

Apparently the interwebs and people taking to each other through machines has hijacked all forms of communication. If you didn't see the Carmelo deal on Twitter, one of your Facebook friends put it as their status. Maybe you were watching a meaningless regular season college basketball game on ESPN2 (I couldn't resist taking a shot there) when the news flashed across the ESPN Bottom Line. Or maybe you just happened to check a random sports website and the news magically appeared. Regardless of how you found out, this blockbuster trade still has the feel of a "where were you when it happened" moment, despite everyone's ability to predict the outcome beforehand.

Once the trade happened, you analyzed the boatload of moving parts. As most people have already noted, your reaction was probably along the lines of, "Wow, the Knicks gave up a lot. Maybe too much." Don't worry, I had that same reaction. But then I broke down the parts (we'll ignore the garbage/"you're only in this trade to make the salaries work" guys.

From the Knicks' standpoint, the significant contributors went from:




In short, the Knicks' only significant loss was depth in the front court. Williams, Douglas, Turiaf and Fields are all suitable role players capable of playing off-ball. If we say that Billups and Felton are roughly the same, the Knicks essentially traded Chandler and Gallinari plus a bunch of invaluable parts. (You may say that Anthony Randolph isn't useless, but the Knicks were building for a win-now team, something to which Randolph clearly does not belong.) In terms of net-gain, I'm a satisfied customer. Add in one more significant piece and the Knicks are serious contender.

More troubling, however, is the Knicks' front office tactics. Maybe I missed something. Maybe Marc Stein or Chris Broussard (who, by the way, has taken over as the official "main scoop" guy of ESPN. Seriously, when any NBA story breaks, he's literally the only ESPN guy to pick it up. Marc Stein and Chris Sheridan really need to pick it up. Same with Chris Mortensen. Adam Schefter owns him right now.) already explained this one. So correct me if I'm wrong, but weren't the Knicks in a complete position of power?

If I'm sitting in the Knicks' front office, I'm letting this trade drag out until Thursday at 3. When reports surfaced of the Knicks dealing Anthony Randolph, Eddy Curry and Wilson Chandler to the Denver in a three team trade with Minnesota, I was surprised that anonymous GMs said they would never agree to the deal. Of course that deal is not even. But would Denver really have a choice? Carmelo refused to go anywhere but New York. The Knicks had all kinds of power to low ball the Nuggets into submission. Despite clinging to erroneous hopes that Melo would stay or agree to an NJ Deal, the Denver GMs are not stupid: they saw what happened with Bosh and LeBron. They had to make a deal, no matter how terrible it was. While the Nets offer may have been better, their need for Melo to resign eliminated them from the equation. The Knicks only real competitor, then, was a team willing to rent him. The Mavs and Rockets did not have the Knicks' assets. The Magic already overhauled their roster this season.

When Ian O'Connor wrote that the Knicks needed put Mozgov in the deal, I once again recoiled. Why? Once again, there was no competing offer. If the Knicks held their ground, the Nuggets would have had no choice but to cave. Do I blame Donnie Walsh? No. D'Antoni? No. I'll throw that one on James Dolan. His irrational fear that Melo might slip away seriously cost the Knicks. Imagine if the Knicks had been able to keep either Gallinari or Chandler. All the talk about the Knicks being nothing more than a 1st round playoff exit disappears.

More frightening for the NBA as a whole, however, is the precedent that this is setting. With star players rarely spending their entire careers in one place, a team's peak is much shorter than its valley. As with most sports, teams continuously go from periods of great success to epic failure. The current makeup of the NBA only hammers home the fact that teams lacking a superstar are destined for years of aimless wandering until that next superstar is found. Despite Denver's ability to compile young assets and draft picks, their only hope for success is to either lure a class A free agent (which is unlikely since Chris Paul, Deron Williams and Dwight Howard will not leave their respective teams for a worse situation) or to hit the jackpot in the draft. And its the latter that ultimately matters most. Besides the Knicks, every team that has compiled an assembly of stars has already had one in place through the draft.

Take the Jazz, for example. Deron Williams was that centerpiece. Al Jefferson was star #2. One more piece and this team is a serious contender. But their lack of trade assets and the recent savage murder of Jerry Sloan by Williams lead them to conclude that Melo-drama would potentially repeat itself. So they executed a preemptive strike, facing the reality that this team was stuck in the Atlanta zone (3-6 seed with no chance of winning the NBA title, and no trade assets or cap space to improve). Yet unlike the Nuggets, the Jazz addressed their situation ahead of time, giving them added leverage. If the Nets were unwilling to deal 2 1st rounders, Favors and Harris, the Jazz could have simply walked away. The Nets were not going to wait a year for the next deadline to bring the appropriate pressure that would have facilitated a better deal. But Utah's hand was forced by the growing trend of the NBA: superstar disloyalty. So much so that the Jazz were willing to move their best player a year and a half in advance and begin the process of rebuilding now.

In the end, the Jazz made the right move at the right time. Why wait and suffer through two first or second round playoff exits? You might as well just start over sooner and try again.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

4 comments Hey Tim Keown, That's a Great Idea! How About They Don't Do That?

I have started a Yahoo Bottom of the Barrel fantasy baseball league for anyone who wants to join up. The league id is "36835" and the password is "eckstein." It is open to anyone who wants to join, as long as you are an active manager and keep up with your team. I don't want anyone to quit halfway through they year and not keep up with their team.

Tim Keown has an idea about where head coaches should sit during a game. Is this "bad idea week" or something? I don't want to crap on all ideas, but his idea just doesn't seem to make logistical sense. So I am going to take a huge metaphorical crap all over Tim's idea and not feel remorse about doing so.

Back in 2008, when Joe Paterno was coaching from the booth above the field because of health concerns, it was widely considered a hindrance to his game-day coaching.

You could probably see why it was a hindrance to his game-day coaching if you look to the right of this passage. There is a picture of Paterno with his hand on his face looking very, very bored. Paterno clearly isn't engaged in the game. Much like how I have felt when reading Bill Simmons' latest column.

(Am I the only one who has noticed Simmons' columns are straight out boring now? I just can't slog through them anymore. When he has a mailbag, then I can pay some attention, but otherwise I struggle.)

He was removed from the grit and sweat of the sidelines, unable to feel and hear his players as they worked. The booth was at an antiseptic remove, far above the real battle.

It is difficult to be a head coach and not be down on the field with your players. That's the bottom line. If a head coach is in the booth upstairs he can't talk to the officials and he can't throw a challenge flag...though I would like to see a challenge flag thrown from the booth upstairs. I can imagine the fans ducking as a red flag comes down from on-high.

I don't believe being removed from the grit and sweat of the sidelines is a good idea.

The booth, he said, provided a better location for the "technical analysis" of the game.

I'm going to refrain from "Joe Paterno is old" jokes, but does anyone really believe he is doing the actual coaching of the Penn State team? He can afford to be up in the booth because he is much like a offensive/defensive coordinator right now in that he has others on the team doing the coaching so he can worry about the "technical analysis." Basically, if Tim Keown is advocating head coaches sit in the booth then he possibly chose the worst possible head coach to use as an example of why this is a good idea. Paterno really isn't a "head coach" in the way the term is used for a guy like Bob Stoops, Mark Richt, or most other NFL/college head coaches.

To which the question needs to be asked: Is there another human endeavor that has become defined by "technical analysis" more than football coaching?

The definition of technical analysis is as follows:

"In finance, technical analysis is a security analysis discipline for forecasting the direction of prices through the study of past market data, primarily price and volume."

So there is no other human endeavor that has become defined by "technical analysis" other than the very profession (finance) the term was created for. Yes, there is some technical analysis involved in football, but I would argue in the realm of sports that baseball has more technical analysis. If I said this to Tim Keown, he would frown at me, clearly unimpressed.

In the NFL, especially, coaches are asked to make instant technical analysis of what they see. They have help, but in the end it's their reputations -- and their jobs -- on the line. By definition, NFL head coaches should be the best minds the franchise has to offer. So why aren't they positioned to benefit from the best vantage point the game has to offer?

Why aren't they positioned in a blimp hovering above the stadium? It's an even better vantage point than being in the press box, plus it is very intimidating for a visiting team to see a blimp hovering above them. Being a head coach isn't just about having the best vantage point on the field.

The reason coaches aren't positioned in the press box is because they need to be in constant contact with their team and they often are the ones making the important calls on the field. They are generally not the ones calling the plays and doing the technical analysis. The offensive and defensive coordinators are responsible for calling plays and making adjustments based on the technical analysis. Obviously at halftime there are adjustments made and the head coach even makes suggestions during the game. The head coach is an overseer on the sidelines and needs to be there to talk to his players and oversee the game from the vantage point where he can make a difference, which is near the officials and his own players.

Say a fumble is ruled on a play and the running back for that team swears his knee was down. He goes running to the sidelines and pleads for the call to be challenged. So who sends word up to the coach? Possibly the person in charge of operations on the field, which used to be the head coach. So this person calls upstairs to the head coach telling him the running back thinks he didn't fumble the ball and then the head coach makes the call (while looking at the replay? Otherwise there's another step in having to radio someone else to look at the replay) on whether to challenge or not and then radios down to the field to throw the red flag. It just seems a lot harder than the running back telling the coach who radios up whether he should challenge the call or not.

I am assuming the offensive and defensive coordinators are also in a box above the field as well, so the team is essentially run by assistant or position coaches. This should be the head coach's job. Being the "man behind the curtain" running a football team isn't a great idea for team morale. We've all seen coaches meet their players coming off the field and celebrating a great play with them. Not to be cheesy, but that probably means more to the player than having the coach call them on the sideline phone and congratulate them.

Another issue lies in the fact Tim Keown says the head coach needs to do "technical analysis" during the game. This really isn't true. Prior to the game and at halftime the head coach will be deeply involved with the technical aspects of a game, but unless he is calling the plays, I would think he leaves that part of the game up to his offensive/defensive coordinator.

By far the best place to watch -- the place that provides the best of all possible angles for technical analysis -- is the press box, with the combination of the aerial view and the access to network television replays.

But again, a head coach needs to be with his players as well. Talking to the officials, celebrating plays with his team, and micromanaging what happens on the field. I don't know why Tim is stuck on the idea of technical analysis being more important than player interaction and controlling what happens on the field by actually being on the field.

There's a reason radio and TV announcers sit up high, and there's also a reason sideline reporters add very little to your understanding of what happens on the field.

Worst. Comparison. Ever. This isn't even relevant to the discussion, so I won't make it relevant by attempting to discuss it.

There is also a reason announcers are up high and the sideline reporters are on the field. One group has no interaction with the players (the announcers) and the other has to speak to the players (sideline reporters). Call me crazy, but I think speaking face-to-face with players during a game is an important part of being a head coach.

If I were an NFL head coach, I'd want to sit up there. If I were an NFL owner or general manager, I would suggest -- or at least raise the possibility -- of my head coach sitting in a booth, where the offensive coordinator generally sits.

Then most likely you would be terrible at being a General Manager and an owner. Can you imagine the manager of a baseball team or the head coach of an NBA team being above the field so he can technically analyze the game? He's the head coach. The analysis is done, now it is a matter of making sure the players execute the gameplan. What better place to do this than to be on the field with the players?

There are two aspects of coaching that are botched more than any others: (1) clock management,

This has nothing to do with where the head coach sits. Either way he can see how much time is left in the game or on the play clock very easily. Poor time management has no good vantage point. Coaches either tend to get how to manage the game clock or they don't.

and (2) replay decisions. In many cases, a mistake with a replay decision can have a significant effect on a coach's ability to manage the clock.

So the head coach would move to the box, be in charge of the technical aspects of the game and also be in charge of watching a replay over and over to ensure he wants to challenge the call? I think this decision should be delegated to someone else.

The booth would create a level of emotional distance that would undoubtedly help a coach manage the clock.

What the hell does managing the clock have to do with being overly or under-emotional during a game? A head coach either manages the clock well or he doesn't. It goes to his poise and decision-making under pressure, which provided he is an NFL head coach, should be pretty damn good.

Also, this emotional distance which would "help" the coach manage the clock will also create an emotional distance from his players. I just don't think this is a good idea. Not to mention the head coach would be removed from his players in order to be able to challenge 1-2 calls per game better. It doesn't seem worth it to move the head coach simply for this.

It seems impossible that someone like Colts coach Jim Caldwell would be as bad at clock management if he were able to see the game from a safe remove.

You would think it would be impossible, but Jim Caldwell's consistent poor head coaching and time management makes the impossible become possible. Does Tim Keown really expect me to believe if Jim Caldwell is in a booth over the field he will all of a sudden be able to manage the clock better because he is higher up in the air? This is lunacy.

It's hard to understand when you're watching on television, but a coach standing on the field doesn't always have the same relationship with the clock as a guy sitting on his couch.

So Jim Caldwell will be at home coaching from his couch then? Maybe I don't understand (and this is Tim Keown's way of saying "I am a sportswriter who has access to different vantage points on the field), but I do know the scoreboard is the same size no matter where the coach is sitting and he can manage the clock and see the scoreboard well enough while standing on the field.

It's not as prominent in real life, on the sideline, as it is to the viewer who watches it ticking down on his television screen. In the booth, that would change.

So what's the head coach going to do when he sees the play clock running down? Call down to the field and tell someone to call timeout? Isn't this a waste of precious seconds? It would take at a minimum 2-3 seconds for the coach to tell an assistant to call timeout and for the assistant to tell the official this.

Also, when it comes to crucial fourth down calls and the decision to punt, go for it, or kick a field goal having the coach in the box would burn crucial seconds radioing his decision down rather than having him wave the correct unit on or off the field.

The benefit for replay is self-evident. Broadcasters and viewers know better than coaches when a challenge should be made, and when it will be successful.

Which is why each generally has a person in charge of determining what plays should be reviewed and which should not. The head coach should not have to be the one who views replays because he has a lot of other stuff going on, like clock management and actually coaching the team during a game.

As it stands now, there are assistants in the booth above relaying the information to the head coach; on questionable calls, such as Mike McCarthy's decision on whether to challenge Brett Swain's near-catch, it's not hard to imagine the guy up above saying, "You could challenge it -- your call."

It's not hard to imagine Tim Keown making up a conversation as evidence to support his point of view. It is less hard to imagine the person in the booth not giving the coach a definitive answer "yes" or "no" whether to challenge the call. I really, really, really doubt the assistant coach would say "You could challenge it--your call," without giving any other type of opinion to the head coach, knowing the head coach couldn't see the replay.

No matter how the suggestions are sent down through the headset, the head coach is the guy shouldering the blame/credit.

The coach shoulders the blame/credit for nearly every single decision on the football field, it doesn't mean he should be involved first-hand in every single decision. He has to delegate at some point. I don't think the value of seeing 1-2 replays a game is worth not being on the field with his players. I would think, and do think based on the fact no head coach other than Paterno have sat in a booth above the field, is college and NFL head coaches (as well as NFL owners) would agree with me.

There are benefits to being on the sideline. It's hard to motivate from a luxury box, obviously, and conversing with officials is no longer an option.

Removing the head coach from the sidelines takes him from an active part during the game to being a more passive voice during the game. I don't think this is a good idea at all.

There are also times when a head coach doesn't want to wait for halftime to discipline/calm/inspire in a man-to-man, face-to-face, eye-to-eye way. Beyond that, the sideline might be the absolute worst place to watch a game if your job description includes "technical analysis."

Beyond a couple of the most important parts of his job in-game, there are no reasons a head coach should be on the sidelines, when he could be upstairs doing "technical analysis" which isn't really a huge part of his in-game job description? So the part of his job that isn't really a major part is more important than the most important parts of his job so the coach can (arguably) have a better vantage point for time management? Even if I could accept the head coach has a better vantage point to see the game clock in a booth, I still fail to see how this would make the coach better at time management during a game.

If it was a good place to watch a game, they wouldn't need the headset.

The coach would still need a headset in the booth or some other way to communicate with his players. So if the booth upstairs was such a great place to watch a game then he wouldn't need a headset there either.

Then Tim Keown starts talking about the Ohio State basketball team for some reason.

It's the opinion here that Ohio State is the most complete college basketball team since the 2001 Jay Williams-Shane Battier-Mike Dunleavy-Carlos Boozer-Chris Duhon Duke team.

Not sure about that. Ohio State is the most complete team since the 2008-2009 North Carolina Tar Heels team. Ohio State is good, but I think the 2008-2009 North Carolina Tar Heels team would probably beat them. That team was so good there were rumors Roy Williams intentionally didn't play Ed Davis major minutes (he only played 18.8 minutes per game) because he knew he could win a National Championship and keep Davis at UNC for two years instead of having him be a one-and-done.

Obviously that is speculation, but that team missed Tyler Zeller and Marcus Ginyard for portions of that year and still went 34-4. That would be a high quality freshman center and their best defensive player they were missing for large portions of the year and they still went 34-4. They obliterated their competition in the NCAA Tournament, never winning by any less than 12 points and won the National Championship by destroying the Michigan State Spartans in the first five minutes of the game.

UNC had three players shoot over 40% from 3-point range, no starter shot under 47% from the field and their second-best rebounder (Ed Davis) only could manage 18.8 minutes per game. Imagine what he would have done if they actually needed him for more minutes than that. That is what made them so great in my mind, they could win a National Championship without players other teams would have found to be completely necessary. It's just my opinion.

In the current college climate, with even the best teams fortunate to have two big-time players and a sufficient supporting cast, the Buckeyes are a rare collection. They don't have any glaring weaknesses.

Other than they were 161st (210th now) in the country in rebounding when I wrote this post, that's true. Also, Ohio State has no depth among their big men. After Lauderdale and Sullinger, their third tallest player is a perimeter-oriented guy in Jon Diebler. So while Jared Sullinger has been able to hold down the post very effectively so far, what happens when Ohio State runs into a team that can rebound well? There is a lot of talk about how good the Buckeyes are, and I have no doubt they are very good, but they can not matchup inside with teams like Kansas or any other team that can rebound well.

I wrote this post when Tim Keown originally wrote this column and just had not posted it yet. In that time, Ohio State has lost two games to Purdue and Wisconsin. A team that can't rebound well usually does not succeed in the NCAA Tournament. Depth isn't a huge issue sometimes for teams, but it is the type of depth they have and Ohio State doesn't have tall depth. They are a great team, but comparing them to a team from 10 years ago is overstating how good the Buckeyes are. This is typical over-reacting on the part of a sportswriter to a team being undefeated.

I think Ohio State has a chance to make the Final Four and I think they could go undefeated until then, but a team that wins the National Championship has to be able to rebound in the NCAA Tournament and if Sullinger gets in foul trouble, which hasn't happened a whole lot, then teams can expose them underneath the basket.

And, obviously, Jared Sullinger is exactly the type of player who leads teams to titles.

Absolutely and they are led by a bunch of seniors who have experience in the NCAA Tournament, so they are a great team. Still, I don't think we should have to go back to 2001 to compare another team to them. The Buckeyes have a freshman point guard and they just don't have a lot of depth, which is something that needs to be taken into account when determining their future prospects as well.

But there's something else about this team that separates it from just about everybody else: They play the kind of physical game -- especially Dallas Lauderdale and Sullinger -- that referees allow.

Right, they do play physical, but they don't rebound well as a team. I don't know if the fact the referees accept their way of playing basketball makes them any more likely to win the National Championship. There are other teams that play a physical kind of offense and defense too. I am not denying the Buckeyes are good, but Tim Keown wants to make them historically good and I don't know if that is true.

Don't discount this as a huge factor in the tournament. The Buckeyes have established this tough, physical style as their brand of play throughout the regular season, and their consistency will give them the benefit of the doubt in March.

The problem is officials in the NCAA Tournament aren't just Big 10 officials and will (hopefully) be calling a consistent game. This means while the Buckeyes are physical, the other team will be allowed to be physical as well. I don't know what the "benefit of the doubt" means really, but I can assume it means the officials will allow the Buckeyes to be physical with the other team, but I would hope the calls go both ways. Ohio State is great, but it's insane to look back at the 2001 National Champions for a more "complete" team when depth and rebounding are two big concerns for them.

Monday, February 21, 2011

4 comments Peter King Defends His Hall of Fame Selections

I have started a Yahoo Bottom of the Barrel fantasy baseball league for anyone who wants to join up. The league id is "36835" and the password is "eckstein." It is open to anyone who wants to join, as long as you are an active manager and keep up with your team. I don't want anyone to quit halfway through they year and not keep up with their team.

This past week you may have heard Jason Whitlock went nuclear on the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection process. In this own unique way he called out many of the Hall of Fame selectors (all 44 of them, which isn't many in my opinion). I like Whitlock and respect his writing. He tends to spray a lot of gun fire in the direction of his targets and sometimes he misses and sometimes he hits. He came after Peter King specifically, and by name. I think he sort of hit on this issue. Needless to say in the link I just put up, Peter King disagrees and gets all defensive about it. Peter doesn't mind calling out people in his MMQB every week, but once you call him out, he will usually respond.

I got a tweet the other day from a reader who asked me to defend taking part in a "corrupt'' process. Jason Whitlock, writing for, called me the "speaker of the house" in a "textbook, good-ol'-boys network'' and said the selection committee violates "nearly everything that we as journalists stand for.''

While I don't know the inner-workings of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection process, I think that very fact is why Whitlock says it violates what journalists stand for. We know nothing about the process except for when guys like Peter King have the balls to tell who they voted for. There are 44 voters. That's just not a lot. I don't think it should be a clusterfuck of voters like the Baseball Hall of Fame has, but more than 44 voters would be appropriate. The Pro Basketball Hall of Fame has a ton of secrecy as well, so it is not exclusive to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The NFL is the most popular sport in the United States, so the players who get voted into the Hall of Fame and how this happens, is of increasing interest to people.

We're considered to be idiots for putting in Chris Hanburger, totally out of touch for enshrining an old geezer, Ed Sabol, who never played the game, and shouldn't be voting for football immortality because so many of us have never played the game. And so on.

What we are reading here is a little sensitivity from Peter King. He's sensitive to being criticized about this. As Jason Whitlock correctly pointed out, if you can't handle the criticism, perhaps you shouldn't have a vote. Considering the amount of power those who vote for the Hall of Fame have I am surprised there hasn't been more harsh criticism before this.

I have no opinion on Chris Hanburger really. Pro Football Reference says his 14 year career was like Ricky Jackson and Junior Seau's, so that can't be terrible. As anyone who has read MMQB every week knows, Ed Sabol has been championed by Peter King on a nearly weekly basis, due to his contributions to the NFL through NFL Films. It is a great story but I have to admit when there are quality candidates among the players still waiting induction, is it a good idea to vote Sabol in now? I feel like it was done now so he could be inducted before he died. Ed Sabol is a great example of a contributor to the game of football, but also a guy who probably shouldn't be voted in before deserving NFL players.

As far as Russ Grimm goes, I just don't think he deserved induction and Whitlock's accusation that his future NFL head coaching prospects played a part in his induction is worthy of being examined. Are there ulterior motives for voting him in the Hall of Fame or does the selection group feel the need to induct a member of the Redskins 80's and 90's offensive line into the Hall? Or did they genuinely feel he deserved induction based on his own merits? If this is the case, then it brings up questions about why other eligible offensive linemen didn't get in this year as well.

The best way to address the criticism is to go through the issues, one by one, that have come up in the nine days since we sat in a Dallas meeting room for seven hours and 28 minutes, picking the seven-man class of 2011.

I think that is part of the problem. There is a veil of secrecy that goes over the proceedings. It is like they are electing a pope. They go into a room and don't leave until they have elected members of the Hall of Fame. Then all of a sudden a guy like Floyd Little is in, but other (more) deserving players are not. I don't think the writers necessarily enjoy the secrecy of the proceedings, but I don't see why votes can't be made public.

We're asked to keep the subject and intensity of the discussions out of the press when we leave the room. I'm often asked why. I'll give you a totally fictitious example.

Jason Whitlock called Peter King "the speaker of the house" when it comes to the Hall of Fame. Naturally, Peter does nothing to disprove this thinking by spending most of his MMQB explaining the Hall of Fame process and essentially becoming the Hall of Fame voter who takes it upon himself to explain the process...which would essentially make him the "speaker" for the voting process.

Let's say the Dallas representative, Rick Gosselin, is asked to give his case, pro or con, for Larry Allen when the longtime Cowboys guard comes up for a vote in 2013. And let's say Gosselin presents the case for Allen well, but lets it be known he doesn't think he's as strong an offensive-line candidate as, say, Dermontti Dawson or Willie Roaf.

It's not fair for Gosselin to walk into Cowboys offices, having to cover the team (which he does occasionally, but not as a beat man) and team officials not cooperating with him fully because he's not pro-Allen.

So it is not fair the Gosselin gets the honor of voting for the Hall of Fame and then has to stand by his vote publicly? How is this not fair? If you get the honor of choosing Hall of Fame inductees then you should also be able to be mature or thick-skinned enough to handle criticism. I would hope a team wouldn't freeze out a writer because he didn't vote for one of their ex-players. This is partly what Whitlock meant by a "good ol' boys network." The secrecy of the voting process allows the voters to not be required to stand behind their vote for some fear of retribution.

The fact an NFL team wouldn't be mature enough to handle a voter not voting for one of those players isn't a reason to not make the votes public? Why should the close-mindedness and ignorance of others serve as a reason to not make your opinion public? This sounds like an excuse to me.

That's just an example, but the Hall feels, and I agree, that if our discussions are quoted or characterized outside the room other than in saying that so-and-so gave a great presentation for a particular candidate, the honesty of the discussion in the room could be compromised.

No one wants a verbatim transcript of what was said. A simple press release saying "X voter voted for the following players." If that person cares to explain publicly then that is fine. It would be nice to have some more transparency.

Many of my peers disagree with me on this, but I think if we're not willing to put our name to our vote, then we shouldn't be on the committee.

To be fair to Peter King, which I will do just this once, he has always be open with his vote. I agree with him 100%. If you want the honor of voting, you should put your name behind your vote.

It happened when Len Shapiro, formerly of the Washington Post, asked me to reconsider Art Monk, which I did because he made a good point -- all the good points about leadership and on-field example-setting I made about Harry Carson with the Giants, Art Monk did with the Redskins.

"Hey Peter, you know that bullshit reasoning you use to get Harry Carson in the Hall of Fame? You can use the same bullshit reasoning to get my guy in!"

Who said this isn't "a good ol' boys system" and Peter isn't the speaker of the house for this system? Peter was just asked to reconsider his feelings on a player, and presumably Peter isn't the only person who needed to reconsider his opinion on Monk. So Shapiro knew if he caused Peter King to reconsider then others would possibly reconsider as well and Monk would get in? That's a possibility right? This would make Peter a pretty influential guy if my speculation that Shapiro wanted to convince Peter so he would help convince the others is correct.

And, yes, I have biases, if that's what you call strong feelings about people being candidates or not. We all do. I covered the Giants for four years when they had the best run defense in football, and I pushed Harry Carson hard, and he finally got in five years ago.

This is another part of the process I hate. I hate a unit (like the Redskins offensive line in the 80's and early 90's) was a great unit, so obviously one of the members of that unit has to be in the Hall of Fame. The Giants had the best run defense in football for four years when Peter covered them, so Peter assumes one of the members of this defense is one of the greatest players at his position of all-time. It is possible for a unit to be great for a period of time and not have a Hall of Fame player on that unit.

I am not opposed to the committee being expanded. Not at all. But at some point, if you want the process to be somewhat the same as it is now -- discussion and/or arguments about the candidates -- I don't know how much bigger the pool can be. I'd love to see, say, a few more nationally respected people in the room, like widely read Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

Because giving a person specifically selected by Peter King would go a long way to dispel the idea it is a good ol' boys network. I know this is just a recommendation from Peter, but the truth is that he does seem to have some power in "the room" where inductees are selected.

If we start eliminating selectors because some haven't been around the game for 20 years, I think we're setting a bad precedent, because then the franchise won't get the same attention for its candidates than the veteran selectors can give. You just have to let some green selectors grow into the job

So it is better to have a selector who is more in touch with the game 20 years ago because newer selectors won't give the franchise as much attention? Can't newer selectors who are around the game use their knowledge to look back at candidates who played 20 years ago and decide if they deserve selection or not?

It should be hard to get into the Hall. I think seven enshrinees in one year is plenty. I've asked people over the years to take the 15-man ballot and tell me which 10 don't belong in the Hall. Very, very rarely can people honestly pick 10

I am not sure how many people are concerned about the volume of the enshrinees or are concerned it is too hard to get in the Hall of Fame. The problem lies in WHO is getting voted into the Hall of Fame. Willie Roaf and Dermontti Dawson get left out for Russ Grimm because Grimm played on a more heralded offensive line. That's the only reason I could see.

Whitlock said in his column that he would cry if Roaf, a tackle he covered for several years as a columnist in Kansas City, didn't get elected this year. I've found that to be a common trait over the years: Local columnists get passionate about local guys.

Much like Peter's passion for Harry Carson being in the Hall of Fame because Carson played for the Giants when Peter covered them. Much like the passion Peter showed in getting Ed Sabol into the Hall of Fame? So it is fine to have passion about getting a player/contributor into the Hall of Fame as long as you are among those who vote for Hall of Fame inductees.

Is it more of a travesty that Roaf wasn't a first-ballot Hall of Famer, or that a man with 1,101 catches (Carter) has now missed four times? Or that Dawson -- who was first-team All-Pro more than any other center (six times) in the last 50 years, and double the times Roaf was first-team All-Pro -- can't get in? Pick your travesty. I suspect if Whitlock had worked for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette instead of the Kansas City Star, he'd be decrying the Dawson snub, not Roaf's.

I don't think Peter is helping his position much by naming three qualified Hall of Fame candidates who were "snubbed" in favor of more controversial guys like Hanburger, Sabol or Grimm. So Peter is basically saying the voting process is hard and the line should be drawn somewhere. I agree, but "contributors" should come after players in my mind, and that didn't happen this year.

The only thing that angered me about Whitlock's column is when he followed his skewering of the Hall selection committee because it has three black voters (a fourth, Michael Wilbon, left the panel when he began covering the NBA a few years ago) in the next sentence by saying two white men -- me and Gosselin -- lead an "old-school, good-ol'-boys network'' in the selection room. If he finds me racist, I wish he'd just call me racist.

It is good to see Peter King doesn't take things personally. This is a guy who is famous for calling out people in the NFL, random people on the street, corporations, and certain hotels/coffee chains/trains/buses/cars in his column. He gets criticized for being a leader who protects the current Hall of Fame process (which is exactly what he is doing in this week's MMQB) and then he begins to take this personally. I guess it is human nature to do this, but I think he is making a couple leaps in logic in saying Whitlock called him a racist.

Now, as for my power in the room, I hope I'm looked at respectfully, and I try to make good arguments. But if I was so powerful, wouldn't I have gotten Paul Tagliabue in once in three tries? Couldn't I have swayed the room on Cris Carter? In fact, both men have gone in reverse since I began to vehemently support them. Tagliabue didn't even make the final 15 this year, and Carter didn't make the cut from 15 to 10 this year.

I am not sure if giving two examples from this year where a person he wanted in is evidence Peter doesn't have too much power is persuading me. Peter is the biggest name on the selector list and regardless of whether he likes it or not, the fact he works for NBC and Sports Illustrated probably does give him some more sway.

I know other Hall of Fame voters have chimed in with their opinion of the voting process and how nothing should change, but the one that really matters is Peter King. Whether he likes it or not, he is the unofficial spokesman for the Hall of Fame because he is a national figure and has a larger forum than most other Hall of Fame voters. I wouldn't go as far as Jason Whitlock to say the whole process is broken, but there are improvements that can be made.

Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News published his annual special-teams rankings Sunday. Among anything the print media does, Gosselin's kicking-game rankings are the most respected by coaches and front office people in the league. Gosselin takes 22 special-teams categories and ranks all 32 teams in the league from 1 to 32 -- 1 for the best team, 32 for the lowest-ranked.

This is the same Rick Gosselin who may be "frozen out" by the Cowboys for not supporting Larry Allen's candidacy for the Hall of Fame in Peter's hypothetical example. Am I supposed to believe a person like Gosselin, who has respected special teams rankings published annually, is going to get a cold shoulder from a franchise based on who he voted into the Hall of Fame? I am not sure I believe this.

If Gosselin can support his special teams rankings, which are used often in determining which teams have good or bad special teams coaches, accurately and effectively why couldn't he support his Hall of Fame votes with the same accuracy and effectiveness? I don't think the talks in the discussion room are going to be compromised by voters publicly letting everyone know they voted for and I really don't think teams will be petty enough to give a writer the cold shoulder. If a writer is really afraid of this happening, don't vote for the Hall of Fame or have thicker skin, it is not like anyone forces the selectors to be a part of the elite 44 people.

7. I think now that ESPN has backed my Twitter poll of 1,200 fans last week -- who said by a resounding 82-percent vote that they favor a 16-game season, not 18 games -- I hope we stop hearing the league and commissioner say fans want an 18-game regular-season.

I haven't met a single person who wants this to happen. Roger Goodell is full of shit and frankly it pisses me off that he blames the fans for wanting an 18 game schedule. The fans don't want four preseason games, but this doesn't mean we want two more regular season games. I would be happy with two preseason games and sixteen regular season games. It is the owners, who Goodell represents, that have a huge problem with this happening. They don't want to lose revenue for a missed home game. I love how the owners pick and choose when they pay attention to what the fans "want."

I think the most interesting thing I heard about the labor situation in the last week or so has nothing to do with the actual negotiations themselves, but rather with something Peyton Manning supposedly said to NFLPA union boss DeMaurice Smith during the weekend of the Super Bowl: "Wish I'd been a union rep.''

Imagine alternate rep Tom Brady and NFLPA board member Drew Brees being joined at a big union meeting someday by Colts player rep Peyton Manning. Now that'd be something to see, the three most famous passers in the game facing off against the football establishment.

Don't. Care. This doesn't make anything involving labor negotiations more exciting to me.

All I want to see if football starting in September 2011. I don't care if Carrot Top is a part of the negotiations. If the owners really care about what the fans want, work out a deal so the NFL can start on time this year.

c. Name five better cities in the world than San Francisco. You can't.

I just did.

e. Michael Kay, you're married! Congratulations!

Sam Jones, you got divorced! That's terrible!

Britney Appleweed, you had a baby! Hope your vagina doesn't hurt too much!

Charles Eaglesmith, you finally cured your Irritable Bowel Syndrome! Great news! Looks like your not shit-out-of-luck anymore.

Charlene Collins, you're out of the closet! Have you told your parents yet?

h. Beernerdness: Tried Cristal, a pilsner from Peru, at a Peruvian restaurant in the Pacific Heights section of San Francisco the other night. Very nice. Smooth, with a nice bite. A little like Peroni. "Beer from the Andes,'' the label said. Don't believe I've ever consumed anything from the Andes before. A nice experience.

Bengoodfella Beernerdness: The greatest beer in the history of the world (overstatement), Red Oak, is finally for sale in certain grocery stores rather than just on-tap in restaurants. If anyone has a chance to try it (I am not even sure how far north/east/west/south it is sold), do so. It is delicious.

k. I got the top pick in my Rotisserie League draft the other day. The dreaded top pick. I hate it. It's a 12-team league, with a serpentine draft, so if you pick first, you don't pick again until 24 and 25. I'd much rather have the eighth pick, though I hope there is some value choosing first. But with the best 36 players off the board (we all protect three players from last year's team), I'm going to be in dire need of baseball knowledge.

Pick Derek Jeter first. He is, after all, the greatest player of Peter King's generation.

l. Hey! My new best buddy, John Legend, won three Grammys last night! Way to go, John.

John Legend, you won three Grammys! Congratulations!

Then in his Tuesday mailbag, Peter talked more about his Hall of Fame selections and he talked about other NFL stuff as well. More importantly, we get 10 MORE things that Peter thinks he thinks. What great news!

3. I think it's not over for Carson Palmer in Cincinnati. Jay Gruden's going to convince him he can be great in Gruden's West Coast offense,

I think it would be better if everyone else was convinced Palmer could be great in any offense. He's 32 years old and regressing. So I wonder how the Bengals can make Palmer better? Peter has an idea involving this!

I believe Marvin Lewis will do Palmer a favor and make sure neither Chad Ochocinco or Terrell Owens will be on the roster opening day -- whenever that is.

Because the best way to make Carson Palmer successful is to take away his two best wide receivers. He would have flourished this year if he did not have those pesky two wide receivers that combined for 139 receptions and 1,814 yards this past season. That is 38.3% of Palmer's completions and 45.7% of his yards. I am not saying the Bengals shouldn't get rid of these two players, but I don't know if their absence from the team makes Palmer a better quarterback in a new offense.

6. I think if I were doing an over-under for when a deal gets done, I'd set it at Sept. 13. And I personally would bet the over.

I have a terrible feeling the upcoming 2011 season is only going to consist of 12 games at a maximum. Free agents can't even choose teams until after agreement has been reached between the owners and the union, so even after an agreement is reached the season can't start immediately.

AN IDEA ABOUT THE NUMBER OF REGULAR-SEASON GAMES: "My wisdom of Solomon: split the baby solution to the 18-game impasse: Go to a 17-game season with one more bye week. The league gets two more weeks of televised football. The players get another bye to help alleviate the health concerns of the extra game. The extra game on each team's schedule is a neutral site -- London, Mexico City, Los Angeles, etc. -- where the league can grow the fan base. All 32 teams split the revenue of all the neutral site games. Two or three preseason games. Can you pass that along to Roger and DeMaurice?''

-- Michael Turner, Sunnyvale, Calif.

I had an idea as well and this is probably a terrible idea, but I am thinking outside the box, mostly because thinking inside the box doesn't seem to be working right now. How about the NFL goes to an 18 game schedule thereby giving the owners the schedule they want, but players can only appear in a maximum of 16 games per year? That way, the owners get their revenue and the players don't have to appear in any more games than normal. It seems like a dumb idea because at some point a marquee player won't appear in two games a year, but if the union is really intent on keeping the schedule at 16 games and the owners want 18 games then the fans haven't really lost anything, while the owners get extra revenue and the players don't run the risk of injury in two more games.

The problem is how many fans will show up to watch Peyton Manning or another marquee star not play? I think this is an interesting idea because rosters could be expanded, if necessary, and in regard to the scheduling problem nearly everyone wins. Another problem is what to do with punters and kickers because there usually isn't a backup on the roster for those players. I haven't worked that problem out yet, but I am just eyeballing it right now. I think it is a potentially stupid idea on my part, but is also an idea that would give each side what they want in terms of having an 18 game schedule.

I don't like this guy's idea of neutral site games. It doesn't give revenue to the owners, so they probably won't go for it either.

THAT'S THE WORLD WE LIVE IN. "Peter, the downside -- in my opinion -- to the never-ending methods of easier communication is that all of the sourpusses who don't get what they want on every issue can now be heard from in a myriad of ways. The shameful, pathetic postings, messages and rants about your role in the HOF voting process is a painful reminder of the close-mindedness that is rampant in the world today. There are likely millions of us who believe that you and your fellow voters are doing a fantastic job and wouldn't trade places for anything.''

-- Lee Simmons, Erie, Pa.

Let me get this straight. So the problem with progress is that more people get their point of view heard and are able to hold those who vote for awards accountable for their vote? It is pathetic and shameful to question how a process works when you don't disagree with that process? It is close-minded to ask questions and get more points of view out there on an issue? Kim Jong-il is that you pretending to be "Lee Simmons" from Erie, Pennsylvania?

How the fuck is expressing your point of view shameful? How is questioning and suggesting changes to an extremely secretive process close-minded? Seeing how Lee wrote this question shows me he just doesn't get it the new world of communication and doesn't care to. No one is whining because they don't get their way. There are people, like Jason Whitlock, questioning the Hall of Fame election process because we don't know who votes for which players and why. These 44 guys go into a room and come out with certain players being inducted into the Hall of Fame. I don't think someone artfully getting a point across is pathetic. I think not questioning whether the process can be improved is closed-minded in fact.

No one says you have to agree with anyone wants the Hall of Fame induction process tweaked, but to argue against a forum to even bring up the idea is ridiculous.

PK: Thanks. I don't know what to do about that except answer the charges as honestly as I can. The genie's out of the bottle. We're not going back to a lower form of communication, Lee.

God forbid the 44 electors have to be publicly held accountable for the vote they give as to who the best players in the most popular sport in the United States are. I just think if the Pro Football Hall of Fame wants to charge admission to get in the building they should at least let us see who voted for which players to appear on the shrines the public pays to look at.

No one should be rude or belligerent to Peter King about this, but I think the Hall of Fame election process could be changed slightly for the better. I don't think intelligent people who argue this should not have their voice be able to be heard.

Even in his comments from Monday, Peter King indicated he would be open to some changes so I don't see why a few changes aren't pursued.