Friday, April 29, 2011

4 comments Rondo or Westbrook?

A recent discussion with a friend prompted the following question: Who's Better - Westbrook or Rondo? Because I write for a blog and he does not, I get to express my two cents through the written word.

21.9 PPG, 8.2 APG, 4.6 RPG, 1.9 SPG. These are the stats of a man living in the shadow of the NBA’s scoring leader. He has blinding athleticism, superb court vision, the ability to finish near the rim and a solid jump shot. In short, Russell Westbrook is a Derrick Rose waiting in the wings.

But this is a comparison, so let’s do exactly that. On the Celtics, Rondo fills a role. With Pierce and Allen taking care of the scoring, Rondo happily distributes. Westbrook, on the other hand, must and does execute a two-pronged assignment. With no one but Durant able to consistently create his own shot, Westbrook must manage personalities and ensure full team involvement. When the offense needs an infusion of energy and scoring, Westbrook unleashes the full breadth of his offensive arsenal. This is where the difference lies. Rondo’s scoring is limited by his lack of three point range and mediocre mid-range jumper. We’ve all seen it: whoever guards Rondo stands 10 feet away. Despite Rondo’s amazing ability to compensate for such a disadvantage, it is a disadvantage nonetheless. And because of his shooting deficiency, an extra defender can more easily play help defense.

Westbrook is not hampered by this limitation. This is not to say that Westbrook’s jumper is outstanding. But the threat that his three pointer poses forces defenders to stand closer than 10 feet. While Rondo may be a point guard in the purest sense, Westbrook is a complete player. He can be the second best player (and in a few years, possibly the best) on a championship team. Rondo, however cannot. The Oklahoma City Thunder has a legitimate shot at the NBA title with a top 5 NBA player, Westbrook, and a bunch of well-defined role players. The Celtics, on the other hand, have 3 Hall of Famers, not including Rondo, and similar role players. Yet their shot at the title is essentially the same. Put Rondo on the Thunder and the all-around point guard play disappears along with their title shot. Put Westbrook on the Celtics and they are most likely the favorites in the Eastern Conference. No longer would their point guard avoid the paint in crunch time to escape his free throw line woes. No longer would their point guard be able to score only in transition or through a wide array of floaters. Instead, he would bring everything that Rondo lacks.

In the NBA, we judge greatness through a player’s ability to take over a game in multiple ways. This is Russell Westbrook.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

8 comments 2011 NFL Mock Draft

Dylan here. Instead of starting a new post, I'm simply adding to BGF's mock draft with my picks. Let the competition begin.

1. Carolina - Cam Newton, QB

2. Denver - Von Miller, LB

3. Buffalo - Marcell Dareus, DT

4. Cincinnati - A.J. Green, WR

5. Arizona - Blaine Gabbert, QB

6. Cleveland - Julio Jones, WR

7. San Francisco - Patrick Peterson, CB

8. Tennessee - Nick Fairley, DT

9. Dallas - Anthony Castonzo, OT

10. Washington - Robert Quinn, DE/OLB

11. Houston - Aldon Smith, DE/OLB

12. Minnesota - Jake Locker, QB

13. Detroit - Tyron Smith, OT

14. Saint Louis - Corey Liuget, DT

15. Miami - Mike Pouncey, OL

16. Jacksonville - J.J. Watt, DE

17. New England - Ryan Kerrigan, DE

18. San Diego - Cameron Jordan, DE

19. New York Giants - Gabe Carimi, OT

20. Tampa Bay - Prince Amukamara, CB

21. Kansas City - Nate Solder, OT

22. Indianapolis - Derrick Sherrod, OT

23. Philadelphia - Jimmy Smith, CB

24. New Orleans - Muhammed Wilkerson, DE

25. Seattle - Andy Dalton, QB

26. Baltimore - Da'Quan Bowers, DE

27. Atlanta - Akeem Ayers, OLB

28. New England - Mark Ingram, RB

29. Chicago - Danny Watkins, OG

30. New York Jets - Brooks Reed, DE/OLB

31. Pittsburgh - Cameron Heyward, DE

32. Green Bay - Aaron Williams, CB

As I do every year in order to further embarrass myself, I get together a 2011 NFL mock draft. I am excited to learn which players are going to be officially a part of the NFL and locked out (or possibly not locked out) from playing for the team that selected them. You will see the pick I have made along with brief commentary. I feel less sure about this draft then I have felt about a draft in 3-4 years. I am not even sure who will go #1 overall, much less the rest of the first round. Just like last year, I won't be predicting trades that may occur, so my draft will ultimately be a clusterfuck only saved by my charm and reasoning for making the reasonable pick.

If any information leaks over the next day about which player a team is picking for certain, please forgive me if I was inaccurate in this mock draft. Still, I am stupidly optimistic I did a good mock draft.

1. Carolina- Cam Newton, QB

I have done as much research as possible into the available quarterbacks in this draft. I just don't like Cam Newton for Carolina at the #1 overall spot. My issues are similar to other people's issues with Newton, no need to rehash them. I will say I could talk myself into this pick by saying there isn't really a "#1 overall talent" to be seen in this draft. There isn't a guy who has enough talent and should be taken #1 overall by Carolina, so why not shoot for the moon and see if you can land a franchise quarterback? Is there really a "sure thing" in this draft outside of AJ Green or Patrick Peterson? That part says take Newton, while the logical sports fan in me has many more questions than answers about him.

My other issue is I don't know if Pickles (what we call Clausen in Carolina) was given a fair shot in Carolina last year. He didn't get the proper coaching he deserved and was put in a tough situation. That being said, he stunk last year and lacks all of the intangibles Cam Newton has. So I think Newton will be the pick, but for any pick in this spot (Gabbert, Newton, Darius) I am not going to be overly excited, but hesitantly optimistic. Short-term he won't be ready to play in the NFL, so Pickles will be the quarterback for a while, which could ultimately lead to the Panthers getting the #1 pick next year and then drafting Andrew Luck.

2. Denver- Marcell Dareus, DT

This is an easy pick for me for two reasons. First, John Fox is a defensive coach and he loves drafting defensive players. Second, the Broncos have a huge need at defensive tackle and because Fox likes his teams to blitz as much as he likes his tight ends to get an opportunity to catch the ball (which is never), he will need pressure from the front four to get pressure on the quarterback. Dareus could easily go to Carolina, who also have a gaping hole at DT, but I think he goes to Denver. This pick just makes sense. I see no other player, outside of a trade happening, that would go here.

3. Buffalo- Von Miller, DE/LB

This is where this unpredictable draft gets even more unpredictable. Circumstantial evidence has the Bills taking Christian Ponder in the second round. Even for a team that drafted a running back last year when they had a back coming off a 1,000 yard season and Marshawn Lynch, drafting two quarterbacks in back-to-back rounds might be a bit much, so I don't see the Bills taking a quarterback here (though admittedly, this would be awesome if it happened). The Bills need a pass rush, they run a 3-4, and Miller will fit in well. Great fit here. Normally, I would say the Bills should draft a left tackle, but they have shown they don't give a shit if their quarterback plays behind a faulty offensive line, so I am going on the premise they still feel that way. I firmly feel if a pick came down to a top-notch left tackle and a top-notch punter, the Bills would choose the punter.

4. Cincinnati- AJ Green, WR

I know there is talk this is going to be an offensive draft for the Bengals and I can't help but agree. Though I know it may be hard to pass up Patrick Peterson, the Bengals are going to see a top receiver available at this spot and want to take that guy. Chad Johnson isn't getting younger and I don't know if the answer to the Carson Palmer situation is to bring in a young guy like Blaine Gabbert to compete with him. There's too much immediate pressure on Gabbert to play now and Palmer to be benched now. I would like to see the Bengals trade back and take a guy like Nick Fairley, but good luck to them in doing that. Still, if the Bengals aren't going quarterback, which I don't think they will do for two reasons.

1. They don't want to piss off Carson Palmer.
2. It may work better to draft a guy later in the draft, like Andy Dalton, and groom him to replace Palmer because they can keep Palmer happy now and have his replacement on the roster, but only in a situation when the replacement isn't an immediate threat.

5. Arizona- Robert Quinn, DE

Common sense says the Cardinals pick a quarterback here since they need one badly. Still, they have to please Larry Fitzgerald and I don't think he will be pleased to see a rookie coming in to throw him the ball. Kevin Kolb to Arizona still makes sense to me as the Cardinals figure out if John Skelton can play in the NFL. So I don't think Gabbert is the guy and I think Ken Whisenhunt is smart enough to know Patrick Peterson is going to be a great player, but if he wants to improve his defense, getting a steady pass rush is the way to do it. Robert Quinn, even with the questions about him, is a guy who can rush the passer better than any other player in this draft.

Yes, I agree it is ridiculous that Patrick Peterson is falling down the board so much, especially in an age with strong passing attacks being so prevalent and the lesson we have all learned from a team being able to have a "Revis Island" on one side of the field. I just don't see Peterson going to Arizona.

6. Cleveland- Julio Jones, WR

Maybe I am making this pick too easy, but the Browns need guys who can catch passes from their quarterback. They probably need a pass rusher and Patrick Peterson is still available, but the Browns need weapons on offense. Having said that, imagine if the Browns had Peterson and Joe Haden at the cornerback positions on either side. That would be impressive. Still, it is a luxury when there is a major need at wide receiver. I like Julio Jones as much as I like AJ Green, so this is an easy pick in my opinion. With Quinn off the board, this is a no-brainer in my opinion.

7. San Francisco- Patrick Peterson, CB

I was surprised the 49ers passed on Joe Haden last year. I thought for sure he would end up in San Francisco with one of their first round picks. That brings us to this year. They can't pass on Peterson, even if Blaine Gabbert is still on the board. New coaches mean new quarterbacks, I realize that, and Alex Smith has gotten repeated votes of confidence from the absolute genius that is Jim Harbaugh. Given Harbaugh's vast history of developing quarterbacks in the NFL (I will lay off the sarcasm now about how everyone assumes Harbaugh will be a great NFL head coach), I see him taking one later in the draft and then developing the quarterback into a Hall of Fame member and probable 2040 Presidential candidate.

This madness about Peterson's fall in the draft has to stop here. Peterson has to go to the 49ers. Having said that, the 49ers have a chance to get Gabbert here and they may not pass on it. Part of my confusion in this draft is I feel like there are such split decisions on these quarterbacks available. Some teams seem to hate or love most of the quarterbacks, so I have no idea if Gabbert is loved by Harbaugh. It makes sense for the 49ers to take a quarterback, but can they pass on Peterson? I don't think so.

8. Tennessee- Nick Fairley, DT

I think most mock drafts I have seen have Nick Fairley in this spot. I feel like I am selling out by putting him in this spot, but I don't see the Titans reaching for a guy like J.J. Watt or Ryan Kerrigan. The Titans need help in their pass rush and up front, so Fairley is that guy. There are other guys falling down the board, like Da'Quan Bowers the Titans could take a chance on based purely on his talent. He could be special, but Fairley make sense in this spot. I have also seen Jake Locker taken here. That seems like a reach to me, but of course I don't like Locker much anyway.

9. Dallas Cowboys- Tyron Smith, OT

True, but dumb, story. I wrote "Tony Romo" in here instead of "Dallas Cowboys" until I caught my error immediately after I wrote it. This is a sign from the Football Gods (Easterbrook reference!) the Cowboys are going to do something to help Tony Romo. I think the Cowboys have learned from last year's opening game debacle and the Romo injury they should probably do something about the offensive line. Between Anthony Castonzo and Tyron Smith or trading back to get another tackle, I think the Cowboys go with the guy who is the best athlete and hope he is a Flozell Adams-type fixture for them at tackle. The Cowboys could probably also use a pass rusher or a corner, but I think making sure their quarterback has a great offensive line should be priority #1.

10. Washington Redskins- Blaine Gabbert, QB

Whether the Redskins need a quarterback or not, if Gabbert is available at this point I don't see a way Mike Shanahan passes on him. The Redskins need a pass rusher and they could also use help at receiver. Both of the top receivers are off the board though and with a roster that has McNabb and Grossman at quarterback, I can't help but think Mike Shanahan wants to upgrade this position. He's an offense guy and he wants HIS GUY at quarterback and I think he realizes McNabb isn't his guy. Gabbert going to the Redskins gives Shanahan his guy and gives the Redskins fans something to believe in.

11. Houston Texans- Aldon Smith, DE/LB

I think it is a foregone conclusion this pick is defense. The Texans are moving to a 3-4 defense and they need major help on defense because of this move and their overall talent issue in the secondary. The obvious pick here is Prince Amukamara, but I think new defensive coordinator Wade Phillips is smart enough to realize pressure up front is what helps make cornerbacks look good. The Texans need to find a way to get pressure up front. So the question for me is what kind of front seven player will the Texans choose? I think it will be Aldon Smith because he will be perfect for a 3-4 defense and he will probably remind Wade Phillips of DeMarcus Ware. He has seen what a guy like Ware can do for a defense.

You may also wonder why I keep talking about Wade Phillips. It's because Gary Kubiak's job depends on Phillips turning the defense around. He will be fired if the Texans defense isn't improved this year, so I would bet Phillips has more leeway to choose players he likes in this draft.

12. Minnesota Vikings- Ryan Kerrigan, DE

I don't believe Jake Locker is the pick here. I know with new regimes come new quarterbacks, and Leslie Frazier does count as a new regime, but Frazier is a defensive guy and taking Locker this high is a bit of a reach. They can probably get him or another quality quarterback later in the draft. The Vikings have been broadcasting they like Locker, which is code for requesting teams to make an attempt to trade up to #12, presumably so the Vikings can take the quarterback they really like later in the draft and get more draft picks. Ryan Kerrigan may look like another Jared Allen to the Vikings. He's "hard-working," which in NFL speak means "white" because no white pass-rushers area allowed to have talent and have to be seen as hard-working to make up for the obvious physical disadvantage of being white. You don't hear Cameron Jordan heard of as "hard-working" very often. The Vikings need to improve the pass rush and Kerrigan is supposedly able to do that.

13. Detroit Lions- Prince Amukamara, CB

This draft has fallen in the right way for the Lions. They can get help at defensive end, tackle, and cornerback at this point. I put Prince Amukamara here, not because others have done it, but because he is a shutdown cornerback. He didn't beat often this year and when he did get beat he always seemed to have great defensive position on the receiver. I would not be opposed to the Lions taking Nate Soldier, Anthony Costonzo or one of the defensive ends available to them. I think Amukamara is too good to pass up, but if the Lions do pass him up, I think they should do so for Anthony Costonzo or even take a chance on Da'Quan Bowers. I like the Lions position in this draft.

14. St. Louis Rams- Cameron Jordan, DE

There are two things I read when reviewing mock draft reasoning for the pick in this spot.

1. The Rams will take Corey Liuget.
2. Gary Gibson is overmatched.

The bottom line is the Rams can get a defensive tackle later in this draft. Not that Luiget isn't going to be a great player, but I am not sure a defensive end of Jordan's caliber will be available later in the draft. I almost mocked Bowers here, because it must be so tempting to see a guy with that much talent on the board still, but I think the Rams go with a less-future-injury-prone player in Jordan who can stop the run and the pass.

15. Miami Dolphins- Mike Pouncey, G/C

The Dolphins are the anti-Lions for me in this spot. There isn't really a player that stands out which fits their needs more than another and the value they have for those necessary positions isn't spectacular. The Dolphins want to run the ball, but they can get a running back later, and if you aren't drafting Pouncey this is too early to take a guard. If the Dolphins keep this pick, I think they go with their running game, and look to improve it the smart way...on the offensive line. I think if they keep the pick they go with the best interior lineman on the board. That's Pouncey.

16. Jacksonville Jaguars- Brooks Reed, DE

Nearly every mock draft I see has Ryan Kerrigan at this spot. He's off-the-board in my mock draft. As seen by last year's Tyson Alualu pick, the Jaguars don't give a shit what you think of their selection and when that selection is made. Kerrigan is not available, so the athletic---I mean blue-collar, hard-working, Reed is the best choice. It may be a reach, but after the success of last year's Alualu pick, I will not criticize it.

17. New England Patriots- Muhammad Wilkerson, DE/DT

Everyone knows the Patriots will mostly likely trade this pick for a first round pick next year. Bill Belichick will not rest until he has every pick in the Top 10 of at least one NFL Draft. So in a pretend world, if this pick were actually made by the Patriots, then I see them going offensive tackle or defensive tackle. I think Costonzo could be the pick because Matt Light is still a good player, but getting older and Corey Liuget is on the board, and he could fit an end spot in a 3-4 defense fairly well. Still, that's too obvious for the Patriots and I think they will take Wilkerson who can play both DT and DE in a 3-4. This is assuming the Patriots make this pick, which they won't.

18. San Diego Chargers- Corey Liuget, DT/DE

I think Muhammad Wilkerson could be the pick here, but I do have him going to the Patriots. Even saying this, if it comes between Wilkerson and Corey Liuget, it will be Liuget. Liuget is athletic enough to be an end in a 3-4 defense and he is clearly the best prospect on the board at this point, while also meeting a need the Chargers have. The Chargers could also use some offensive line help, so Nate Soldier or Gabe Carmini could be in play here as well.

19. New York Giants- Anthony Costonzo, OT

This pick is too obviously for me to feel good about. It just makes so much sense to me. The Giants need a guy who can play a few positions on the offensive line because they have some age there and that's exactly what Costonzo can do. I don't care about the Boston College ties, he's a solid player and will fit their need. If the Giants like Carmini more, he could go here as well. The Giants could also go with a linebacker in this spot, but I think they can get a quality linebacker later in the draft.

20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Adrian Clayborn, DE

I have seen Da'Quan Bowers in this spot in several mock drafts. I don't see that happening because he has injury issues and I think the Bucs probably believe Adrian Clayborn can be as productive as Bowers over the long-haul. Clayborn has his own health issues, but his injury issues are from the past (hopefull), while Bowers' could crop up in the future since there is a question of how his knee will hold up.

21. Kansas City Chiefs- Gabe Carmini, OT

I am torn on this pick for the Chiefs. I am 50.5% sure it will be a tackle and will be Gabe Carmini specifically. Still, I can see Akeem Ayers being the pick as well because the Chiefs need a pass-rushing linebacker. J.J. Watt could be a dark horse in this race, but I don't see how the Chiefs don't get a tackle to protect Matt Cassel a little bit better.

What's weird about this draft for me, and it may just be my own personal feelings, is I find it easier to make the picks for the later teams in the draft. It's probably my own feelings, but I feel like the later teams have outstanding holes they will look to fill with certain players that probably will be available. It's probably just they are doing a good job of smoke-screening and confusing me though.

22. Indianapolis Colts- Nate Solder, OT

This is a perfect example of what I was just talking about. There is no way, at least in my mind, the Colts don't take an offensive lineman. They have no reason to bluff this is what they want to do because there will be tackles available at this point in the draft. The positives on Solder are "work ethic" and "intelligence." That sounds like a Colts player, doesn't it? If Solder is gone then I don't know if the Colts get Derek Sherrod or try to get a defensive guy like Marvin Austin.

23. Philadelphia Eagles- Ben Ijalana, G/OT

Tons of mock drafts have Jimmy Smith at this spot. It makes sense, but the Eagles could also use some interior line help. Keeping Mike Vick healthy is a priority and Andy Reid is smart knowing a versatile player like Ben Ijalanaa gives them flexibility along the offensive line. The Eagles could also have the ammunition to move up in the first/second round and take a corner at that point if they choose to.

24. New Orleans Saints- Cameron Heyward, DE

The Saints need a pass rusher and they had success with an Ohio State alum in Will Smith, so why not go with Heyward in this draft since he can provide the same type of success at the defensive end position? Heyward provides help at a spot where the Saints need help and any other need they may want to fill at this point is probably a bit of a reach. I really like this pick for the Saints.

25. Seattle Seahawks- Marvin Austin, DT

I am so tempted to mock Jake Locker here, but Seattle can get by with Charlie Whitehurst and a veteran for at least one year. I am not sure their defense can get by without some assistance. They played great in the playoffs against the Saints, but that wasn't typical for the entire year. This is still a 7-9 team in a weak division, so they have holes. I'm not sure I buy they want Jimmy Smith at this spot. I think he could get past the Seahawks. I think it comes down between J.J. Watt and Marvin Austin. Watt has talent, but Austin has Top 10 talent if he didn't have such character questions. Pete Carroll isn't afraid of players with character questions, so the more talented overall player at a big position of need wins out.

26. Baltimore Ravens- J.J. Watt, DE

This pick is too easy for me. This is probably why I feel like it will be wrong, but I am going with it anyway. I know Jimmy Smith is the fashionable pick at this point in the draft and the Ravens need a cornerback, but they also need help up front to their aging defensive line. Smith or another cornerback can be had later in the draft, while a talent like J.J. Watt may not be available. He's the best defensive end still available, so he fits the Ravens in my mind.

27. Atlanta Falcons- Kyle Rudolph, TE

The Falcons have a theme this year in the draft. They want to draft explosive players. Kyle Rudolph fits the bill. Kyle Rudolph is a popular pick here and I have a feeling the need for a defensive player will override the need for a tight end. I originally had Justin Houston in this spot and then dropped him out when I learned the Falcons were looking to upgrade the passing game by trading up for Julio Jones or AJ Green and Houston failed a drug test.

The Falcons like their defensive ends to drop into coverage and Houston showed he could drop into coverage on the Georgia 3-4 defense last year. He fits the bill in what the Falcons want. I know the Falcons want to get an elite tight end to replace Tony Gonzalez, or at least learn from Gonzalez, but I don't see it as a bigger need than a defensive end. Still, if the Falcons can't trade up then I think Rudolph seems to be the pick...though I 49.9% think it will be Justin Houston.

28. New England Patriots- Derek Sherrod, OT

At this point, there's no way the Patriots keep this pick. There are too many "quality" quarterbacks on the board and a team will trade up to get one. Still, like previously, if the Patriots trade their other first round pick and keep this one then they will probably go offensive tackle. Derek Sherrod is the best guy on the board to fit that spot. Still, like any other New England pick, I don't think the Patriots will be making this pick and will trade it.

29. Chicago Bears- Danny Watkins, G

The Bears need to upgrade their offensive line. Danny Watkins is the second-best guard available in the draft. Maybe this is too simple. I don't think there is a defensive tackle the Bears would want at this spot, so they take a guard and upgrade a different position of need. Watkins is older, which may be a problem for some teams, but I don't think the Bears will mind since he projects to be a really good guard in the NFL.

30. New York Jets- Stephen Pea, NT

The Jets need a nose tackle and the popular pick is Phil Taylor in this spot. The Jets have Kris Jenkins whose only dedication seems to be dedication to getting injured every year. Having said that, I don't see the Jets picking a guy with an inoperable foot condition like Taylor. Stephen Pea has a knee injury, but he showed off his strength at the Combine and if it weren't for the knee injury then he would be a certain 1st round pick. I think the Jets take operable injury over inoperable injury in this spot. Fat guys with inoperable foot injuries don't sound very attractive to me.

31. Pittsburgh Steelers- Jimmy Smith, CB

Merry Christmas Pittsburgh! You get a shutdown cornerback at the end of the first round. Smith has character and personality questions that seem to not make him a fit in Pittsburgh. I am sure the newly matured Ben Roethlisberger can help Jimmy Smith work through his issues. The only question I have about this pick is whether Smith can fit the "Pittsburgh mold" they want in a player. If not, then Marcus Cannon (assuming the Steelers are okay with the fact he has a would make for a great story in a couple of years once he recovers from it and probably would make the Steelers faithful like him more) or Ras-I Dowling could be the guy. Really though? Would the Steelers pass on a talent like Smith? Smith is very talented and the Steelers need secondary help. I say take a chance on the guy.

32. Green Bay Packers- Akeem Ayers, OLB

I know it may not seem this way necessarily, but I wouldn't be shocked to see the Packers take a cornerback at some point in this draft. Brandon Harris could be going to Green Bay if Ayers is off the board at this point. Sam Shields isn't a starter in the NFL and Charles Woodson will have time catch up to him at some point. In a perfect world, the Packers would get a cornerback later in the draft though. The Packers also need another linebacker and Akeem Ayers has the talent to be the pass-rushing linebacker the Packers need. An offensive lineman is an outside possibility, but I think Green Bay goes defense and can't ignore Ayers still being on the board.

You probably notice there were only two quarterbacks taken in my mock draft 1st round. That's not happening. So I am pretty much assuming this mock draft will be wrong since I can't predict the trades that will eventually happen. I can see four quarterbacks going in the first round, possibly even five of them. As of today, I feel I am right, but on draft day the trades will probably screw this mock draft all up.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

1 comments I Made a Boo Boo

I wrote about Game 3 for Dime Magazine and it posted there on Friday. I was too optimisic about the Knicks chances. Anyway, here it is if you want to go to Dime to read it.

Looking back at it, all I have to say is, whoops. And I attended Game 4 at the Garden.

It’s been so long since Madison Square Garden has witnessed the playoffs that its mystique has nearly disappeared. What was once an implicit understanding that games in the heart of New York spelled disaster for opponents is now mere myth. For any other arena, an attempt to regain past glory may be futile. Just not the Garden, and not now. Especially after fans watched ‘Melo finally ascend his throne during Game 2.

If there were ever a night that the crowd could affect a game as the sixth man, tonight’s the night. A decade of pain and frustration will be unleashed on the Celtics. Sure, the Knicks are injured and down 2-0. But it doesn’t feel like it. Their defense has been spectacular (relative to the past), and they’re only an illegal screen and a Jared Jefferies mishap (maybe it wasn’t a mishap since it is Jared Jefferies, after all) away from a 2-0 lead. Unlike say, the Sixers, whose confidence was deflated after Miami pounded them in two straight games, the Knicks feel like the better team. Amar’e Stoudemire has been abusing Kevin Garnett and will most likely return to action tonight. Carmelo Anthony has finally sent his jump shot to the bench in favor of the dribble-drive. Assuming the Knicks don’t give Rajon Rondo another redeemable “take it to the basket whenever you want” ticket, the Knicks are sitting pretty.

Don’t get me wrong. The Celtics smell the kill. One win in New York and this series is finished. Garnett will feed off the hate. Ice still runs through Ray Allen’s veins. Paul Pierce will remind us why he’s better than ever. But Knicks fans have been waiting too long for this moment. Amar’e may have perceived the suffering when he signed this summer, but tonight he will feel it. Carmelo may have dreamed about what it would mean to bring a championship back to his hometown, but tonight he will grasp its importance.

As much impact as the Garden crowd will have, don’t expect a blowout. No Chauncey, an apprehensive Landry Fields and significant playing time for Anthony Carter all point to a Celtics’ advantage. But the Knicks’ star-studded plans are quickly materializing before our eyes. STAT and ‘Melo have proven they need little help. It will be the Garden crowd that finally pushes this team over the top.

What we are about to experience tonight is the beauty of the NBA. A classic matchup, rocking arena, star players and high pressure. (And we’ll be there for the ride and fill you in.) The great games are the ones where you can feel, down to the deepest depths of your basketball heart, the enormity of the moment. The games that cause your emotions to explode and carry over to the rest of your night. The games where you find yourself willing the ball into the basket. The games that remind you why you became a basketball fan in the first place. The Garden is primed to give us another great one.

Monday, April 25, 2011

10 comments Bill Simmons Still Writes Articles for ESPN? Part 2

I started my epic (in length) Part 1 post about Bill Simmons on last Monday. I am so used to him putting columns out on Friday, I thought I could go a few more days without having to worry about another Simmons column. I was wrong. He posted a sentimental and syrupy dedication to Tiger Woods and how this had to do with his son growing up and having role models. Anyway, I wasn't entirely sure the purpose, but the end result reminded me that in Bill Simmons' world an athletic event is never about the event (Celtics/Red Sox winning a championship), it is about how this event affected him and his family. The athletic event is only able to be seen in regard to how it affected him. He believes the world truly revolves around him, I think. So here are my three least favorite parts of his Tiger Woods column, and no he didn't say Woods' comeback was more difficult than Muhammad Ali's (again), Bill would rather we just forget that column. God knows he will ignore its existence and never say he was wrong.

1. My son watched a few holes of the Masters with me on Sunday. He's nearly 3 and a half and hasn't figured out how to crap in the toilet yet. He spends most of his time naked or partially naked, barking out orders like "Put on Wow Wow Wubbzy!" and "I want graham crackers!" Every night, he promises us that he won't climb into our bed in the middle of the night, and yet, I always wake up around 4 a.m. because some snoring wildebeest is kicking me in the kidneys. Last week, the stubborn bastard sat still for a haircut for the first time only because we allowed him to play "Angry Birds" on an iPad. He's a man of many quirks. I'm not gonna lie.

One or two mentions of a family member isn't a terrible thing. I get that. Bill Simmons talks about his kids in his column pretty much every single time he writes one now. Specifically, he talks about his son. He's very proud he has a son, seeing as Bill has tendencies of showing a dislike or lack of respect for women in his books and columns, this shouldn't be a shock. If you read his books, you see the 9,000 porn references and many of his sports/pop culture analogies deal with crazy women. I'm not burning a bra and panties in anger here, but it is hard to ignore this stuff.

I think I've said it 900 times though. As a sportswriter, you can talk about your children all you want, but don't be offended when your bringing them in the spotlight brings them unwanted attention down the road. So in 2015 when someone posts a picture of Simmons' children/wife and they start getting harassed (Simmons' fans are crazy you know), Bill should blame himself mostly. Remember what happened with Peter King's daughters and Kissing Suzy Kolber. A person in the media spotlight sets the expectation of privacy his family gets, Bill should never forget that, though I am sure he will.

2. When he missed a seemingly easy eagle putt on 15, the gallery made a noise that you just never hear in sports anymore: the "Ahhhhhhhhhh-ohhhhhhhhhhhhhh" sound

Oh yes, that sound you hear during every missed putt in a big situation. But no, let's allow Bill to elaborate on his point of how you NEVER hear this sound anymore:

that happens with a missed 3, a warning-track fly ball or a bomb that misses a receiver's hands by two feet, only with a hint of "NOOOOOOOOOOO!"

So other than a missed 3, a warning-track fly ball or a bomb that misses the receiver's hands you NEVER hear this sound anymore. So this statement is correct in that it isn't correct.

3. I want my son to know that great athletes are meant to be appreciated, not emulated. He can steal Tiger's fist pump without wanting to become him. He can play Tiger's video game without feeling like Tiger is his best friend. He can imitate Tiger's swing without getting the urge to bed every cocktail waitress and model he meets.

Only Bill Simmons could try to write a sentimental column about his son appreciating athletes, while attempting to write a serious sentence about his son not having the urge to bed every model or cocktail waitress he meets as a sign of how we feel about athletes. My head hurts.

Also, I like how Simmons' son won't bed EVERY cocktail waitress or model he meets, but just some of them. Just a few.

So onto Part 2 of Bill's time killing NBA power poll.

Red Sox fans broke the record for "Earliest Pressing of the Panic Button Ever." The whole world feels different. Also, I'm down two remote controls, three knuckles and four bottles of whiskey.

I am sure we will be getting a column in early August from Bill about how angry emails/letters/faxes/messages were exchanged about the Red Sox 0-6 start, but now they have redeemed themselves by being in first place and looking unstoppable. Unless the Red Sox aren't in first place, in which case Bill will write a column about how baseball sucks and nobody likes it anymore, based entirely on the fact the Red Sox aren't having a good season.

Really, the Red Sox season had to be over before Tax Day? I hate everything.

See how silly Bill looks now? The Red Sox season isn't over. This reactionary fandom doesn't look good on him. It's a long season. Also, I thought Bill could die in peace now that the Red Sox won the World Series? Isn't there also supposed to be a five year ban on him complaining about his team because they won the World Series 2007? I am pretty sure this is a rule Bill himself made up.

Fortunately, the NBA playoffs can distract me as the Red Sox make their bid for 0-162.

"My favorite baseball team can't win the World Series every year. We're so cursed. Everyone feel sorry for the team with the 2nd highest payroll in MLB because they were 0-6 at one point."

The Nyets were a mortal lock to overpay West this summer, this fall, this winter, or whenever the lockout was settled ... until he blew out his ACL last month. Even though that injury killed the Hornets' season, West's injury was somehow fortuitous. Why?

Because it weakened the Hornets and guaranteed they would go into the last year of Chris Paul's contract with him knowing he wasn't going to re-sign? Because Paul will remember the 4-0 sweep in the first round of the 2011 playoffs, will take one look at the roster and see the third-best player on the team isn't very good and be out of New Orleans mentally by next February?

I could see West exercising his player option for the 2011-12 season ($7.5 million), followed by a two-month lockout (he'll be rehabbing anyway), then a shortened season (an audition for his Summer of 2012 Suitors). Guess what? That's great for the Hornets because it might be (A) their last Chris Paul season,

So the Hornets would get the chance to lose their two best players in ONE offseason? Where can they sign up? How does a team get so lucky to be handed this treat by fate?

If he wants to sign an extension for less money than he would have gotten pre-ACL surgery, even better.

If David West wants to sign an extension for less money than he could have gotten pre-ACL that would be great...until Chris Paul leaves and then David West wants out of New Orleans too.

Last Hornets thought: How would you describe Emeka Okafor as a draft pick?

Solid NBA player.

We have draft terms like "sleeper," "stud," "late bloomer" and "bust" but not something to cover the Okafor types -- top-5 picks who carried high expectations, never met them but weren't disappointments, either. I suggest "Knish" after Knish from "Rounders,"

I suggest we don't give them a name. There comes a point where every athlete doesn't have to be categorized or given his own subset where he belongs to, a point where we are running out of names to call athletes and the creativity is stretched then. We've reached this point about two years ago in regard to Bill Simmons giving subsets of players catchy pop culture nicknames.

Your Knish All-Stars: Okafor, Mike Conley, O.J. Mayo, Jeff Green and Drew Gooden (starters), then Mike Miller, Mike Dunleavy and Randy Foye (bench). And yes, we're saving a spot for you, James Harden. And you too, Wesley Johnson.

They are just solid NBA players. That's all.

Anyway, here's how the next three months will play out for Hawks fans ... APRIL: The Hawks get crushed by Orlando in Round 1, a sweep highlighted by Zaza Pachulia starting three "someone hold me back, could someone hold me back so I look tough, HOLD ME BACK!" altercations with Dwight Howard,

This coming from a Celtics fan. The Celtics have Kevin Garnett on their team. I think Zaza Pachulia is the tallest and toughest player Garnett has ever picked on. If you are a midget, female or child of grade-school age, he will feel free to talk shit to you during a game. How can Bill talk shit about Pachulia when his own team has a guy who is famous for trash talking guys smaller than him?

12. Philadelphia 76ers
We're immersed in a memorable battle between Scott Skiles and Doug Collins for the career lead in, "Most Times A New Coach Has Gotten a Team To Overachieve, Been Anointed as Their Savior, Then Eventually Burned Them Out Because He's Too Intense." (Note: It's a "Best of 7" series and they're tied at three apiece -- Vegas has Skiles as a heavy favorite because he'll probably get fired a year before Collins does.) Hiring either of these guys is like submitting your beaten-down car to "Pimp My Ride" --

Yes, Bill Simmons is referencing "Pimp My Ride" in his columns as a relevant pop culture topic. Pretty soon I will not be shocked if at some point he references "Yo! MTV Raps."

Here's my suggestion: Collins and Skiles should just embrace their inner Winston Wolf and switch teams every year. Why not?

Because it is a stupid idea? These coaches would not be as effective in their first year because the players would know Collins and Skiles are leaving the team the next year and they will get a new coach and a new system. There would be no need to pay attention to their head coach. Collins' and Skiles' approach works because players have to buy-in knowing it creates success and neither coach is going anywhere for the time being. A hard-ass coach has less success if his shelf-life is short because the players can tune him out knowing he won't be around long. At least in my opinion this is true, but of course I am nowhere near as smart as Bill Simmons.

Poor Evan Turner might be the latest to get nailed by the Curse of Sam Bowie. Since Portland stupidly passed on MJ for Bowie with the second pick in 1984, we've seen the following calamities at No. 2: Steve Stipanovich, Len Bias (RIP), Armen Gilliam, Danny Ferry, Shawn Bradley, Stromile Swift, Jason "Not White Chocolate Or The Guy Accused of Killing His Chaffeur, But The One From Duke" Williams, Darko Milicic, Marvin Williams, Michael Beasley (even if he's rejuvenated, we have to call him a "bust" because Miami gave him away), Hasheem Thabeet, and now, potentially, Turner (who can't be officially called a bust yet, and actually, I kind of like him, but it can't be a good sign that Collins pushed out of his nine-man rotation). That's 12 of the last 26 picks ... nearly 50 percent!

I don't know if we can call Bias (he died for God's sake), Gilliam (13.7 ppg, 6.9 rpg), Jason Williams (he was playing well and had a motorcycle accident), or Marvin Williams (isn't a he a "Knish" player, it seems like he is) as calamities. They weren't great players, but they weren't calamities. I think Bill is exaggerating a bit to prove his point.

Even weirder, 12 other No. 2 picks that either worked out or kind of worked out (Kenny Anderson, Alonzo Mourning, Jason Kidd, Keith Van Horn, Antonio McDyess, Marcus Camby, Mike Bibby, Steve Francis, Tyson Chandler, Okafor, LaMarcus Aldridge) were traded by the teams that picked them either during the draft, right after the draft or sometime within the next four years.

What the hell does it matter if these guys were traded? How the hell is that relevant in determining the success of a #2 overall pick? Aldridge was traded before he even played for the original team that drafted him. There is a list of good basketball players who got selected here, so whether they got traded or not goes to prove very little.

Only Kevin Durant and Gary Payton ended up becoming franchise players for the teams that drafted them ... and yes, they were both drafted by a franchise that no longer exists.

So is the point that the #2 overall pick will either get traded or be a calamity?

So if you're counting Seattle's murdered franchise, we somehow went 0 for 26 in the "pick him second, pencil him as your franchise guy for the next 12-15 years, retire his jersey" department. How is that possible???

Player movement happens. That should be the rule here. Let's take a look at #1 overall picks since 1990 and see how many are the "pick him second, pencil him as your franchise guy for the next 12-15 years, retire his jersey" players standard that Bill holds the #2 overall picks to.

1990: Derrick Coleman
1991: Larry Johnson
1992: Shaquille O'Neal
1993: Chris Webber
1994: Glenn Robinson
1995: Joe Smith
1996: Allen Iverson...he got traded before he played in Philly for 12 years, so he doesn't count does he?
1997: Tim Duncan
1998: Michael Olowokandi
1999: Elton Brand

So for the 90's, we have one guy who fits that criteria Bill has set out.

2000: Kenyon Martin
2001: Kwame Brown
2002: Yao Ming
2003: LeBron James
2004: Dwight Howard
2005: Andrew Bogut
2006: Andrea Bargnani
2007: Greg Oden
2008: Derrick Rose
2009: Blake Griffin
2010: John Wall

So for the 2000's we have the POSSIBILITY of 4 players right now. Considering Howard has talked of moving on from Orlando and Griffin will never stay in Los Angeles, that leaves us with Rose and Wall, plus Howard and Griffin as long-shots to meet the criteria. In the words of Joe Morgan, it is too early to tell with them. So while Bill may seem to have a point, players aren't often with the same team for 12-15 years and then have their jersey retired by the team that drafted them. So I don't think he has a point with what he is trying to prove about the #2 overall pick. It can go for every other position in the draft as well.

11. Memphis Grizzlies
This year's Bizarro Good Management Team. They have an actual identity: a feisty team with size and toughness that defends the perimeter and are just crazy enough to think they can beat anyone.

So rather than admit the Grizzlies management haven't done so badly lately (which would involve Bill saying he was wrong about Chris Wallace being a terrible GM, which he refuses to do), Bill spends two entire paragraphs essentially saying the Grizzlies did well, but they had no idea they would do well. Some would see getting Battier for Thabeet as smart, but Bill says:

They blew the No. 2 pick in the 2009 draft (Thabeet), had to package him with another No. 1 just to dump him, but the deal landed them Shane Battier, who joined forces with Allen and turned them into a bitch defensively.

Other teams would get credit for this, but Bill can't go that way because he would have to say he was wrong. Like when he gives the Grizzlies credit for the Gay and Conley extensions (which I thought were bad as well), but he acts like the Grizzlies had never seen these guys play and just got lucky:

They overpaid Rudy Gay (transformed by his Team USA experience just a month later, although they couldn't have known that when they paid him) and Mike Conley (the dumbest premature extension of the last few years, but he's been solid for them).

Mind you, Gay and Conley aren't two guys the Grizzlies signed in free agency, but where two guys the Grizzlies had ON THEIR TEAM and chose to lock them down to an extension. On other teams it would be seen by Bill as a smart move, but he sees the Grizzlies as being so dumb these moves worked out...which is dumb.

Let's talk about something more uplifting: Aldridge's quest to go from "Hall of Fame All-Star Snub" to "All-NBA" in the span of 10 weeks. My All-NBA teams look like this ...

First team: Dwight Howard, Derrick Rose, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Dirk Nowitzki. Not sure how anyone can make a case for Kobe over Wade: Wade is a more efficient scorer, he's a better defender, he carried a bigger load from night to night, he rated better with any advance metric you can name (PER, win shares, whatever), and he was playing three-on-five every night. It's no contest.

But Bill! Didn't you just say in Part 1 that advanced metrics didn't do Derrick Rose justice and you had to watch him live for him to be believed? What about the same thing for Kobe? He's played injured all year and still had an incredible year, while Wade could always rely on James if he was having a bad night. I find it hard to convince me using Bill's convincing that Wade shouldered a bigger burden than Kobe Bryant. After all, Wade has another 1st team All-NBA player on his team, while Kobe has a second team All-NBA (according to Bill) on his team.

So just based on the reasoning given here, it is tough for me to believe Wade carried a bigger burden than Kobe when that burden was shouldered by another first team All-NBA, plus Bill just got done describing in Part 1 how advanced metrics didn't do Derrick Rose justice and you had to watch him to see how good he was. Maybe the same goes for Kobe, which I know is a ridiculous thought for Bill to entertain because Kobe plays for the Lakers.

I can't give him my MVP vote for one simple reason: he leaves something on the table every night. Dwight Howard should be the league's most dominant player. Physically, there's nobody remotely like him. True story: I was watching SportsCenter the other night. My wife noticed Howard on TV and gasped, "Oh my God, who's that?" the same way you'd comment on the 12-year-old in Little League who's six inches taller than everyone else and has the makings of a mustache already. When I told her it was Howard, she said, "Just looking at him, it seems like he should be the best player, right?" Exactly.

Nothing speaks the truth any more clearly than the truth is spoken in the opinion of Bill Simmons' wife. Please think about the logic of what Bill Simmons just said and also know I don't necessarily disagree with his position on Howard. Bill just said that Dwight Howard should be the league's most dominant player (and so Bill bases his criticism of Howard on this) because Bill's wife saw him and assumed he was the NBA's most dominant player. That's the reasoning. That's it. This is how Bill writes and people like it.

The reason basketball isn't baseball -- and advanced metrics should be used to accentuate opinions we're already leaning towards having, instead of forming and shaping those same opinions -- is because basketball players directly affect their teammates and opponents at all times. If Howard is Orlando's best player, and he's holding something back every night how can you say that doesn't affect the Magic?

How can you say it only affects the Magic negatively? Maybe the fact Howard has the ball 2-3 possessions less per game gives other players a chance to have the ball and develop to where they may be able to be called upon and succeed when needed? As fans, we want star players to go out and dominate while still giving teammates the freedom to develop their game in the offense to where they can contribute if called upon in a crucial moment.

Maybe Howard realizes taking over the game isn't the best thing for this Magic team. I'm not saying it is true, but we can't automatically assume Howard holding something back hurts the Magic? Remember, he is a post player so when he has the ball there is a lot of standing around the perimeter, especially given how the Magic team and offense has been designed with perimeter players around Howard. I'm just throwing this out there. Also, Howard isn't an elite center in the terms of Hakeem or Shaq. This could be because he hasn't had a guy push him to be elite and I think that has hurt him.

Doesn't it bother you that Serge Ibaka plays harder than Howard every night? Doesn't it bother you that Celtics fans watch Orlando and think, "That team is soft ... I hope we can play them in the playoffs?"

Nope, I prefer the Magic play soft.

Doesn't it bother you that Howard still defers to Jameer Nelson down the stretch?

Yes, that bothers me. Do I think the Magic would be better if Howard would assert himself more? Probably, but I do leave the option open that Howard "holding something back" (which is something I guess we'll just assume he does?) is not bad for the Magic and gives other guys a chance to shoot and makes him more successful in the post because other teams know he will kick the ball out to his teammates.

I spent some time with Phil Jackson and Game 7 of the 2010 Finals happened to come up, mainly because I felt like torturing myself. That game was decided within the six feet around both baskets. A turf war, if you will. The Lakers were a little tougher, a little bigger and a little deeper on that specific night. That's why they won. Twelve years earlier, Jackson's Bulls played another one of those turf war games in a Game 7 against Indiana. Jordan and Pippen (neither taller than 6-foot-7) somehow controlled the turf. Chicago prevailed. I asked Jackson if the two games reminded him of each other. He couldn't have agreed fast enough.

As if you need further proof of how smart Bill Simmons is...Phil Jackson just agreed with him.

I know computer programs are spitting out LeBron's numbers as evidence that he's the leading MVP candidate, but how can anyone watch Miami for six straight months and come to the conclusion that LeBron was even 0.00000000001 percent more important to Miami than Wade?

Bill Simmons just wrote this. A few paragraphs earlier he wrote this:

The reason basketball isn't baseball -- and advanced metrics should be used to accentuate opinions we're already leaning towards having, instead of forming and shaping those same opinions --

So we just will ignore the advanced metrics when they don't achieve the conclusion we want to achieve? I agree that advanced metrics should be used to accentuate opinions we already have, but do we just ignore the metrics we they agree with a conclusion we don't? I don't think so, but Bill tends to use advanced metrics when they agree with him and then go with the whole "you haven't seen this player play" when the metrics disagree with him. He wants it both ways. Here are examples from his power poll:

1. Advanced metrics did not agree with him about Derrick Rose being MVP. He said you need to watch him play to get a real feel for his ability. So Bill ignored the advanced metrics.

Advanced metrics agreed with him when comparing Dwight Howard's statistics to other All-NBA center's statistics in order to prove that Dwight Howard isn't reaching his full peak, so naturally Bill goes with the advanced metrics because it proves his point.

2. Advanced metrics do not agree with Bill Simmons that Dwayne Wade is as important to the Heat as LeBron James, so Bill says the following:

but how can anyone watch Miami for six straight months and come to the conclusion that LeBron was even 0.00000000001 percent more important to Miami than Wade?

Bill is falling back on the whole "you need to watch them play" argument. It seems to be a trend. He uses metrics when they prove what he wants to be proven, but then falls back on the lazy "you have to see him play" argument when the advanced metrics don't prove what he wants proven.

I don't know how Wade and LeBron stayed so patient with Bosh, who just wasn't ready for any of this. So it WAS an achievement, and if we were allowed to pick co-MVPs, I would. But picking one of them? Come on.

So Bill is suggesting LeBron and Wade are named co-MVPs because neither one of them was more important to the Heat? This would be a better choice for MVP than just choosing Rose or another player? I'm not so sure.

I was looking forward to a Celtics-Heat playoff series for so many reasons, but mainly because it was a battle for everything I ever believed about basketball. Hell, it was the premise of my entire NBA book: that there was more to basketball than just a bunch of individually talented dudes playing together, that the concept of "team" mattered, that structure beat chaos, that there were ways to evaluate players beyond statistics, that there was a "secret" to all of this. Miami tried to cheat that structure and my Celtics were going to make them pay.

Come on now. I know the Celtics are known for being a "real team" and all of that stuff, but they essentially brought three great players together (Pierce, Garnett, Allen) and hoped it worked out. It did work out because all three players were veterans and have given up part of their individual control for the team concept. So Bill has a point, but this whole thing about the Celtics being a "real team" may true in regard to chemistry, but the Celtics essentially brought three great, but older, players together in 2007 and hoped it worked out. It isn't like they had an overall plan to build the team only with players that had great chemistry, they brought three great players together and tried to get it to work out. That's what the Heat did in 2010. So there may be a structure, but I see the Celtics as a team that had chemistry bond together with their team and the Heat haven't yet. So Bill's bizarre idea the Celtics are morally superior because of this wonderful chemistry that has been built doesn't sit well with me, because I don't believe (Ubuntu or not) that was the overall intention.

Guys like Luol Deng and Joakim Noah might not be able to sell tickets, but you can win titles with them because they don't care about anything other than doing what it takes to win.

(Bengoodfella vomits up from an overdose of meaningless hyperbole)

Someone like Boozer might not be worth $70 million, but it's hard to find guys who can grind out 20-10s every night and not take it personally if they don't touch the ball in the final three minutes of close games.

This exact thing is what Bill criticizes Dwight Howard for not doing. Is it because he is the "star" on the Magic team that Bill criticizes, not compliments him, for grinding out 20-10's every night and not demanding the ball down the stretch? It's fine for an overpaid (in Bill's words above) borderline All-Star like Boozer to do this, but not Dwight Howard? If Howard was seen by Bill as less talented then he would be fine with Howard not demanding the ball down the stretch, that's what I draw from this.

Someone like Rose might not seem any more or less special statistically than the other MVP candidates, but when your best player buys into everything your coach is selling, plays hard for every minute of every game, doesn't care about his own numbers, stays humble and does whatever it takes to win from night to night, how could he not be considered "valuable?"

This is hyperbole. Isn't Bill Simmons supposed to be above writing like this?

Then Bill goes on and on about how great Derrick Rose is.

That's what happened in Chicago with Rose. He sets the tone day after day after day; everyone else eventually fell into place. When your best player cares that much, it's contagious.

But again, Bill isn't ready to name him MVP.

I will remember the 2010-11 season for LeBron and Wade, for Blake Griffin, for the dumb Celtics trade, and for how hard Derrick Rose played every night. He willed the Bulls to a No. 1 seed. Unfortunately, we don't have an advanced metric to quantify that specific achievement -- just a primitive, overrated statistic called "wins." I guess we'll have to make due. Derrick Rose, you're my 2010-11 MVP.

There is it! The announcement I haven't been waiting for.

The playoffs exacerbate every quality you have, good and bad. You just never know how a team will respond until they're responding. I believe in this Bulls team ... but it's the playoffs, and you just never know.

So Bill has gone on and on for a few paragraphs now about how the Bulls were the best team in the NBA this year, are better than any playoff team in the Eastern Conference from 2010, and how they have the MVP on their team, but he just can't afford the chance he could be wrong about something so he can't say he picks them to win the NBA Title.

So he hedges and says "it's the playoffs, and you just never know." Now, come mid-June when the Bulls on their way to winning the NBA Title, he will go back to what he wrote here as exact proof that he knew the Bulls would win all along. He will show us all how he got the situation exactly correct and he knows the NBA better than we ever could.

Now, come mid-June if the Heat are in the NBA Finals and the Bulls aren't, Bill can point to this last sentence and say, "I said you never know in the playoffs. The Bulls looked good, but (pulls out bullshit reason to supports something he said)." This is how Bill can be right. He makes a statement and hedges on the statement. There's nothing wrong with this, unless you are the type of person who likes to go back and point out how right you were in making a prediction...and Bill is that kind of guy. You can't be wrong if you hedge a bit.

if the Lakers win three in a row, that puts them on a whole other level historically. Here are all the NBA teams that won three straight:

Minneapolis: 1952-54
Boston: 1959-66
Chicago: 1991-93
Chicago: 1996-98
LA Lakers: 2000-02

It's really, really, REALLY hard for me to believe that the 2009-11 Lakers are 16 wins away from joining that group. But I think they will. L.A. over Chicago in six.

This, for those who have read Bill for many years, is what is called a "reverse jinx" attempt. Bill does this and will sometimes later admit he did this. What's great for him (yet again), is that if it works then the Lakers don't win the NBA Title (which makes him happy), and if the Lakers do win, well he predicted they would! I'm not sure I actually believe this is Bill's prediction.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go wander into traffic.

Please really do this.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

3 comments Marcus Hayes Has Not Enjoyed Chatting With You About the 76ers

We may all remember Marcus Hayes' epic chat last October concerning the Phillies where he revealed the entire city of Philadelphia is racist and Jimmy Rollins will have 30 home runs in 2011. It was a great chat, I would suggest those who haven't read it go through the chat. Marcus Hayes tends to antagonize those who ask questions. Today is no different, he has decided he will do a chat with readers (i.e. idiots in his mind) who ask him questions he clearly doesn't want to answer. It is his job, so Marcus answers the questions, but he doesn't have to like it.

Comment From Amir: Hey Marcus, the need for a go to guy is looking more obvious than ever do u think the sixers shud let Evan grow into it or make a deal

I have to admit, if I read a questions where I had to read misspelled words and text-like language instead of actual words I may be a little irritated as well.

Marcus: I cannot see Evan growing into it.

Because giving a 22 year old rookie one year to become the #1 scoring option on a playoff team is PLENTY of time. Maybe Turner won't grow into it, but give him more than one year please.

Comment From Huh: So you've written off Turner already?

Marcus: I never would have used the No. 2 pick on him.

Oh yes, hindsight is 20/20. Need to know what a team should do with their 2010 draft pick? Wait, three years and then make a decision on what that team should have done. I would love to know who Marcus Hayes would have drafted instead, only knowing what he did at the time, which is Turner was the only other "franchise" guy available that didn't have question marks about him (Cousins). It may have been a bad year to have the #2 overall pick and it isn't like there were a ton of other great options that would fit the Sixers at #2.

Granted, the Sixers did not need another small forward, but there wasn't a better option at that point in the draft. The Sixers didn't want to "reach" for a player in that spot. Five guys were seen as being the Top 5 in the draft: John Wall, Evan Turner, DeMarcus Cousins, Wesley Johnson, and Derrick Favors. Wall was gone when the 76ers drafted and the only guy outside of Turner who was seen as a "franchise" player was DeMarcus Cousins. So it is fine to say the Sixers shouldn't have drafted Turner, but he was their best option at the time, and no other player (outside of Cousins) would have made sense at the #2 spot when you combine perceived talent at the #2 spot and the Sixers needs.

He can be a nice, complimentary player, but for now, and for the foreseeable future, he cannot defend and he cannot shoot.

Again, he was a rookie. Perhaps this was true, but there wasn't a ton of non-complimentary players in the draft. The Sixers were in a tough position in that the best player on the board was at a position they didn't need greatly and even in retrospect any player they would chosen at that point would have been seen as a reach.

Comment From Rich M: #9 is stealing $$$$$!!! 4 points then follows with a solid 5 pts in game 2. Is there any hope they move him next season? He is a wonderful defender but will never ever be a #1 option on this team.

Now Rich M. has gone and done it. Marcus Hayes likes Andre Iguodala. He is the Jimmy Rollins of the 76ers for Marcus.

Marcus: ... and he should not be asked to be a No. 1 option.

And yet, he is paid like a #1 option. Therein lies the problem in many people's eyes. It's fine for Iguodala to not be a #1 option, but he gets paid like one.

I find it interesting Hayes jumps on Turner (who gets paid $4.6 million) for not being a franchise player after one year and says he is a complementary player, while he is perfectly fine with Iguodala (who gets paid $12.3 million) not being a No. 1 option because that's not who he is or what he should be asked to do.

You cannot replace Iguodala. You can only enhance him.

Apparently Marcus Hayes believes Iguodala is a robot. Perhaps he believes the Sixers should fine a way to trade Elton Brand so they can free up some money to buy Andre Iguodala the upper-tier offensive player hard drive upgrade. THEY PAID FOR EVAN TURNER'S HARD DRIVE TO BE UPDATED TO THE UPPER-TIER OFFENSIVE UPGRADE, WHY NOT IGUODALA?

Comment From botcho: Is this what we are going to see for yrs to come? One round and done? Any chance they can make moves once the new CBA is in place? Center is a huge hole - they need a body down low and Hawes will never provide that.

Marcus: You would have to have a tradable commodity, which they lack, Teams win without a classic center ... if they defend, rebound and run.

Teams win, but they don't win the NBA Title, which I am assuming is the goal for the Philadelphia 76ers. Over the past five years, these are the starting centers for each team represented in the NBA Finals:

2006: Shaquille O'Neal and Erick Dampier/DeSagnia Diop
2007: Tim Duncan and Zydrunas Illgauskas
2008: Pau Gasol and Kendrick Perkins
2009: Andrew Bynum (though Gasol played most of the minutes) and Dwight Howard
2010: Andrew Bynum and Kendrick Perkins

I would say nearly all of these players are "classic" centers, though some of their talent can be debated. Guys like Dampier, Diop and Illgauskas are still classic centers in height and weight. So, if the 76ers want to win a title or make the NBA Finals I question if they can do it without a classic center.

Comment From Peter: Commenting on Rich M post and your reply. Iguodala is paid as a #1 option!!!!!!!! How is four and 5 points accepted in playoff game? How anyone can defend anything about him is crazy.

Marcus: His paycheck is not his fault.

Well, yes and no it is his fault. Andre Iguodala took the money that was offered by the 76ers when they offered him the contract extension. So it is not his fault concerning the amount they offered him, but the fact he isn't living up to the paycheck, in some people's eyes, is his fault. So merely saying, "his paycheck is not his fault," is blindly defending Iguodala in some ways by ignoring a player who makes that much money will be perceived to close to a franchise guy. Iguodala signed the contract knowing he would have to perform at key points like the playoffs.

Using this same logic, it isn't Evan Turner's fault where the 76ers drafted him either, so the criticism from Marcus Hayes about his performance and how he isn't going to be more than a complementary player shouldn't be held against him. It's not like he could have refused to be picked at the #2 spot in the 2010 NBA Draft.

You forget: He's playing hurt. Really hurt. Come off it.

Granted, Iguodala is playing hurt. That much is true and him playing hurt is admirable. I'm not criticizing Iguodala, but players have played hurt in the playoffs before and scored more than 4 and 5 points in a game.

Comment From bob: I recall Charles Barkley suggesting early in the year that the Sixers should not try so hard to make the playoffs. And, we are now seeing why. That said, if the Sixers are going to draft the likes of Turner second, you have to wonder what difference it would make if they were in the lottery.

Now this is a comment Marcus Hayes has every reason to attack. The Sixers drafted Iguodala 9th in the 2004 draft, Thaddeus Young 12th in the 2007 draft, Jrue Holiday 17th in the 2009 draft, and Lou Williams in the 2nd round of the 2005 draft. So, the Sixers haven't done a terrible job of drafting players and many of the best players on the current team were drafted by the 76ers. This would be a great time for Marcus to point that out.

Marcus: Good point

Or maybe in his boredom with chatting he will just ignore it.

Comment From Ted: Who would you have taken at #2? Favors hasn't been impressive. Maybe Cousins and his risk?

Oh yes, the big question that Marcus Hayes didn't answer earlier while he was critiquing Evan Turner's performance during his rookie year.

Maybe Cousins, but I'd have traded it.

Absolutely the 76ers failed by not trading the #2 overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft, because we all know for a fact there were other attractive options available to them. I couldn't find any evidence one way or another what Marcus Hayes thought the 76ers should have done, but if this article is an example, trading the pick and not taking Turner wasn't a well-received idea. It is fine to say the 76ers should have traded the pick, but there has to be a team that wants the pick (and apparently take Elton Brand), otherwise the 76ers would just be giving away the #2 pick for little in return.

Comment From Brian: marcus, if the sixers play just as good withhout iggy, why not trade him. I'll take someone with half his defense, that can score atleast 20 points a night

Marcus: The Sixers win 20 games this season without Iguodala.

Wow! Really? Maybe Marcus is getting a bit carried away here? Iguodala was worth 21 games worth of wins this year? Perhaps someone has been overdosing on the crazy pills lately? I don't think the fall-off from Iguodala to the next guy on the depth chart is that drastic. Sure, the Sixers may not have made the playoffs, but to think they would only have 20 wins? No way.

Iguodala played in 67 games this year. The 76ers were 5-11 without Iguodala this year. I know that doesn't add up to 82 games, but I am just going with the stats I have available. That comes up to 25.5 wins over the full season without Iguodala. Of course, as we discussed a few weeks ago here, you can't just simply say Team X would have won X amount of games without a player because there are other variables that go into it, like injuries to and the performance of other players. So Iguodala is important to the 76ers, but I think 20 wins is quite low, the Sixers would win a few more games than that I believe.

Comment From filly: Where do you see the Sixers organization in 5 years?

Marcus: A two seed, with the best pure point guard/defender in the league.

So I guess Marcus anticipates the 76ers landing Chris Paul or Derrick Rose in free agency? Because I know he didn't just say Jrue Holiday would be the best pure point guard/defender in the league in five years. Marcus has such a bizarre pessimistic, while optimistic view of the 76ers. He thinks they have made some bad moves in the draft and won't be able to make too many substantial moves, yet he sees them as a the 2-seed in the Eastern Conference in five years.

Comment From filly: With Doug Collins and the pieces the sixers the perception that free agents wont come here overblown?

Marcus: No.

Thanks for elaborating on this thought. Actually, Hayes does this a lot. He gets asked a question and then gives a one word or a very short response.

Comment From Bonzo: 5 years, a TWO seed? AI and Barkley are the only two top tier players the Sixers have had in 20 years. The drafting ability is atrocious, and constantly picking up mediocre past prime talent (DC, Webber, Robinson, now Brand)....what gives you ANY sense of hope? Until they get lucky with another star draft like AI, we're looking at the same old 5-8 seeds, 1 and done, pick another Rodney Carney clone.

Okay, this may be a bit of a panic on the part of Bonzo...John Bonham is that you asking questions from the grave? After this absolute mess of a question, what does Hayes say in response?

Marcus: ok.

That's it. If he doesn't want to chat, he could just come out and say it. Chatting with Marcus Hayes is like holding a conversation with a teenager.

Comment From filly: its fair to say iggy is never gonna get his batman unless he comes from in house

Marcus: Yes ... Unless a Brand/Young/Iguodala frontline gets it done.

I don't understand the answer to this question. Hayes is pulling a "Joe Morgan" here and answering a question that wasn't asked. What's even more interesting is that Marcus Hayes just said in five years the Sixers will have the best pure point guard/defender in the league on their team. That puts Iguodala at 32 at this time. So I am guessing either the best point guard/defender in the NBA won't be better than Iguodala at any point over the next five years or the best point guard/defender in the NBA isn't a better player than Andre Iguodala in the opinion of Marcus Hayes.

I think it is incredibly interesting that Marcus Hayes doesn't think the Sixers will get a Batman to Iguodala's Robin, and yet he has them as a 2-seed in the NBA playoffs in five years. So is Iguodala going to improve that much or is he wrong about Young or Holiday not being a better player than Iguodala? A team where Iguodala is the best player is not a 2-seed in the Eastern Conference in five years. The Sixers very well could have a bright future, but Hayes poops on their chances of improving over the next five years, except concerning in-house players.

Comment From tony: Marcus, if Thad starts next year where does Iggy play?

Marcus: I'd put them all on the court at the same time in the frontcourt. Play small all the time,.

Let me guess...and then run, rebound, and defend their way into being a 2-seed in five years?

I am not sure I have ever witnessed this bizarre combination of short-term pessimism and long-term optimism from a writer, when that writer acknowledges the team won't get much help from players not currently on the roster in that span because free agents don't want to come to Philadelphia, throw in with the writer's perception the team doesn't draft well. I think Marcus Hayes believes Andre Iguodala may be worth 30+ wins in a season to his team.

Comment From Evo: I'll take the over on the over/under of the Sixers winning 50 games or more next year. You?

Well it depends on if Andre Iguodala plays or not. The 76ers will win 102 games next year with him playing and 19 games without him playing.

Marcus: I'll take the under, until 2013.

The 76ers won 41 games this year without their best player in 16 of those games. For a team that is supposed to be getting good enough to compete for the 2-seed in the Eastern Conference in five years and can't get free agents (for some reason Hayes never explained exactly), they are not going to be able to win 9 more games over the next two years? I find that hard to believe.

Marcus: OK. Gotta catch a flight. Thanks, everybody.

What he means by "Thanks, everybody," is "I hate your fucking questions. Leave me and my Chase Utley-hating soul alone."

So...before I stop writing, I want to focus on something Marcus Hayes said in a February 9th chat about the Phillies. You may remember the other chat I linked earlier in this post from last October and how Hayes took anger out on Chase Utley and said the following things in that chat:

About Jimmy Rollins:

[Comment From Doc: ]
Do you expect a rebound kind of year from J-Roll in 2011, or a continued decline? It's a contract year, but he's another year older.

Big rebound. 30 hit him in the gut this year.

[Comment From Erik L.: ]
Can Jimmy Rollins ever hit 25+ home runs again? Or is that portion of his career over?

I think he's got 30 in him hitting 5th.

So in October, a big rebound from Jimmy Rollins was expected by Marcus Hayes. He thought Rollins could hit 30 home runs in the 5th spot in the lineup. Of course, Hayes was spending most of his time in this chat race-baiting and making outlandish claims, so maybe he was just having a bad day. Let's see what Marcus thinks of Rollins now...

Comment From Duke Fame:
J-Roll: Bounce back year or will this be his last season in red and white pinstripes?

Marcus: Not sure how much he CAN bounce back.

So in October a big rebound was expected from Jimmy Rollins and in February he CAN'T rebound any more than he has already. This is interesting since Rollins has seemingly been regressing over the past couple of years.

A .280/20HR/80RBI/110 runs year for Jimmy is what he is, at this point.

Rollins has hit these four levels in a season exactly once in his career and that was the year he won the MVP in 2007. So at this point, Jimmy Rollins is not at this level and he has been at this level exactly once in his 10 full seasons in the majors, yet this is what Marcus Hayes believes Rollins "is" right now. It's fun to think this is true though isn't it?

Which should make him an abvious extension candidate.

Well, obviously. Why not extend a 33 year old shortstop that is showing declining statistics and may start having injury seen in his response to the next question.

Comment From scott: What are the chances it was just injuries/off years for Rollins and Utley and not a trend downward?

: Hmmm. Is there a difference? Maybe this is the beginning of a slew of injuries ...

I am not sure we can ever really know what Marcus Hayes thinks about Jimmy Rollins. In October he said Rollins is worth more hitting .250 than Utley is worth hitting .300 with 30 home runs. Then in this chat from February he said Utley could make an MVP run with 30 home runs and a .300 average. Undoubtedly, Hayes would still think Rollins is a more valuable player for the Phillies if Utley did win the MVP with a .300 average and 30 home runs.

In October, Marcus said Jimmy Rollins is going to have a big rebound from his 2010 year. Then in February said Rollins wouldn't rebound, he would just stay at the same level he has been at exactly once in his career, in 2007 when he won the MVP.

The one thing we do know for sure is that Marcus Hayes does not like chatting with you.

Friday, April 22, 2011

6 comments BotB Podcast #13

There's really no way to know if any of you are actually listening to these podcasts, but they shall continue anyway. Take a listen as BGF and I discuss the NBA Playoffs, the MLB's hostile takeover of the Dodgers and Ryan Braun's new extension through the 2159 season.

More importantly, listen closely as Bengoodfella reveals a shocking truth to finish up the podcast while his favorite song fades in and out in the background.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

12 comments Murray Chass Nominates Michael Young For Sainthood

Michael Young wants to be traded and doesn't want to be the DH for the Rangers. This is a pretty old story from earlier this summer and it hasn't played out to be a huge issue for the Rangers. Michael Young got moved to DH because Adrian Beltre was signed by the Texas Rangers to play third base. Young wasn't happy so he demanded a trade. To me, it seemed both sides were being difficult about this, so I didn't really have an opinion one way or another. Leave it to Murray Chass to push me to one side when he finally chimes in (his comments are near to the bottom of the link). He thinks the Rangers were in the wrong and Young was in the right. After all, how could an employer have the gall to force an employee to do something that employee doesn't want to do?

For a team that won its first American League pennant last season, the Texas Rangers haven’t exactly looked like a winner.

For one thing, they hadn’t finished celebrating the biggest moment in their history, their first World Series appearance, when they waged an ugly internal fight and forced out the chief executive officer and managing partner, Chuck Greenberg, who was responsible for the team’s rescue from a debt-run operation by Tom Hicks.

So in an effort to make it look like the Rangers screwed up in cutting ties with Chuck Greenberg, Murray Chass is going to give Nolan Ryan no credit at all for his influence on the team and pitching staff. More importantly, actually way-way-way more importantly, he gives Jon Daniels no credit at all for turning the team around. Sure, Greenberg may have helped out financially, but he only bought the team in August 2010. Daniels had started to turn the team around on the field a few years before that, which helps tremendously when it comes to the finances of the team improving.

Daniels has had some bad trades in his tenure, but he helped rebuild the Rangers farm system and was responsible for the arrival of the majority of Rangers players that led the team to the World Series last year. So while Greenberg did good things, he was only there one year. Most of the tough work was done by Jon Daniels.

Maybe it sucks what happened to Greenberg, but he lost a power struggle with Nolan Ryan and Jon Daniels. He also publicly got in a spat with the Yankees President Randy Levine, so there was that also.

On the field it was their messing with Michael Young again.

I hate to go with the "he makes a ton of money" argument so quickly, but Michael Young makes $16 million per year. He is well-paid and has been asked to play different positions throughout his career. Inconvenient? Yes. Messing with him? No.

Young isn't the only quality baseball player being asked to move positions for the sake of the team. He acts like the Rangers are asking him to voluntarily decrease his salary and become only a pinch-hitter. For God's sake, Chipper Jones got moved to left field because the Braves had signed Vinny Castilla to play third base. Alex Rodriguez moved to third base when he was traded to the Yankees. Kevin Youkilis moves from first base to third base (and back) on what seems like a yearly basis. Players have to move positions from time-to-time. It happens. I can probably think of other examples as well. My point is players are asked to move positions and they don't demand a trade as a result of this happening.

Young was the Texas designated hitter in the first two games of the season, and he produced 1 hit in 10 times at bat.

Clearly, his hitting was affected by his inability to get an opportunity to field a position in a below-average manner. Yes, Michael Young does have a Gold Glove from 2008, but I don't need to tell you intelligent readers this is probably the first indication he is a below-average fielder.

So Murray's argument that Michael Young isn't hitting as well because he isn't getting a chance to play the field is an argument I don't buy. Adrian Beltre is an upgrade at third base and he makes the Rangers a better I would think Michael Young would do what it takes to help the team. You know, assuming he wasn't overly concerned about only himself in this situation.

The Rangers can only hope they have not made a grievous mistake with their most consistent, most productive hitter over the last decade.

I don't dislike Michael Young (cue insults of Michael Young beginning), but he isn't an elite player. Aaron Gleeman covers it exceptionally well here. Michael Young is not a bad baseball player, but he gets paid like a superstar that he clearly isn't. Any hitting value he has to another team in a trade is offset by the fact he costs a lot of money. He has had some good and great years, but if it weren't for the fact he was the Rangers' best player when they weren't very good then he wouldn't be making the kind of money he is making. He is 34 years old and the Rangers essentially paid him a ton of money for being the face of the franchise and a consistent hitter when they needed one.

Productivity in the past doesn't mean Michael Young should be able to get his way to the detriment of the team in the future. I do have sympathy for Young being asked to switch positions, but he isn't the first player to ever be forced to switch positions and every single switch he has made has improved the Rangers. He moved to second base for Alfonso Soriano, then he moved to third base for Elvis Andrus and then the Rangers moved him to DH (and now it appears he will play some first base) for Adrian Beltre. What makes him valuable is his ability to play these positions. I know it is frustrating for him, but players are asked to change positions at times.

Once again, for the third time in his solid career, the Rangers moved Young. Only this time they moved him off the field.

Michael Young isn't a great fielder compared to the other options the Rangers have. He is a pretty good hitter, so DH isn't a terrible place for him right now. Hall of Fame players have been moved for lesser talented players than Adrian Beltre and had to accept the move.

Because Young had reacted so willingly and so graciously to the other moves, the Rangers assumed the third move would be no problem

Here's the little not-so-secret that Murray completely chooses to ignore. Michael Young hasn't reacted graciously and willingly to the other moves. In fact, when he had to move to third base, guess what he did? Take a few seconds to guess...........

He demanded a trade. Sound familiar? This seems to be a pattern for Young. The team moves his position and he demands a trade. I know he doesn't have to be happy about this, but I would venture to say if other ball players with less goodwill accumulated did this they would be criticized by Murray Chass. Not Michael Young though.

Let's look at Young's pattern of behavior when changing positions:

2004: Michael Young volunteers to go to shortstop after the Rangers trade for Alfonso Soriano. What a nice guy! So selfless! A little research shows he was drafted in 1997 by the Blue Jays and what is his position listed as? Shortstop. So Young volunteered to go to the position he probably preferred playing.

2009: Michael Young is asked to move to third base. He demands a trade. Clearly, he enjoys that shortstop position and sees himself as one, which makes me see his 2004 volunteering for the position in a slightly less selfless light.

2011: Michael Young is moved to DH. He demands a trade.

Again, I don't dislike Young, but it seems like when he is confronted with a position change he doesn't like, he demands a trade. Is a position change annoying? Yes. Does a good teammate just go with it and not pout? Again, yes.

Early in spring training Young asked to be traded, but the Rangers didn’t trade him.

"Does anyone want a declining 34 year old below-average third baseman who has 3 years and $48 million left on his contract? Anyone?"

Sound enticing to you as a GM? Probably not. I would bet the Rangers tried to trade Young, but they would have had to eat a bunch of his salary and wouldn't have gotten much in return for him. So I would say the Rangers didn't trade him, but not because they didn't want to trade him, but because he had more value unhappy on the team compared to what they could get in return for him in a trade. The Rangers would have to eat a ton of money just to get Young off the roster, so it isn't worth it for them to eagerly accept a trade. Plus, this makes the Rangers team worse, which I am assuming isn't something the Texas Rangers would want.

Teams rarely trade players under those circumstances.

Teams also rarely trade players who are owed $48 million and have ruined the team's leverage by demanding a trade.

“They were productive conversations,” Daniels said. He provided no details.

But speaking of the situation the Rangers created, he added, “I regret it wasn’t good for anybody. It created a situation where our fans and the media were taking sides. That should never have been. We all want the same thing.”

No, the Rangers did not create this situation. On a base level, the Rangers are his employer and Michael Young is their employee. If an employer asks an employee to do something he/she doesn't want to do, tough shit, it has to be done as long as it isn't illegal.

The Rangers attempted to improve their team by adding Adrian Beltre and Michael Young was moved to a different spot because of this. It is their right as a team to do whatever they see fit to improve their team, in fact, it is something I would suggest the fans DEMAND they do. Michael Young doesn't want to be a DH, I understand that, but he needs to understand he is 34 years old and it is in the best interests of the team for him to be the DH and fill in where necessary on the field. That's why I don't get Murray Chass defending Young, he is clearly putting his needs and ego before the team's needs. Players who do this generally get criticized and should get criticized by Murray Chass.

Young said he told Daniels exactly what he thought and how he felt, but he was still the designated hitter on opening day – and the day after that.

Because the Rangers saw it as the being in the best interests of the team. Nobody likes their employer changing their job description or role around. It makes a person feel demeaned, like they aren't important to the team, but at some point there needs to be a choice of whether to go with it or complain. Now, if a player complains he needs to be prepared for criticism to come his way.

What Murray conveniently ignores is Michael Young has a history of demanding a trade, this isn't the first time. He isn't quite as selfless as Murray wants him to seem. I would be on Young's side more if the changes the Rangers made didn't improve the team, but they did.

Nowhere has it been said or written that Daniels offered Young more money to make the move more palatable or that Young asked for money.

Why the hell would Jon Daniels offer more money to Michael Young? He is already overpaid as the 22nd highest paid player in MLB. The Rangers are paying Michael Young way too much money as it is. Paying him more money would compound the entire problem they have. Then they would have a declining player who is making more money than he was previously when he wasn't declining.

He probably wouldn’t consider additional payment an answer to his predicament.

Right. Because it is some sort of a moral stance he is taking? Morally and ethically, Michael Young doesn't feel like he should have to move positions for the benefit of the team? This makes it a worthwhile venture to demand a trade from the perspective of Murry Chass. I do get Michael Young's point of view, but Murray Chass is essentially blaming the Rangers for doing what needs to be done to improve their team, while condoning Michael Young's demand of a trade. I just can't agree with this point of view.

Michael Young has been good to the Rangers and the Rangers have been good to Michael Young. He has been the face and consistent bat for the franchise over the last decade, but he has also gotten paid, and continues to get paid, handsomely for this service. It's been a mutually beneficial relationship. Young is now over-rated as a hitter. He isn't a great hitter for his career on the road and if he were a free agent I think he would be lucky to get half of his $16 million per year on the open market. So he has it good and should just go with the position change.

Clubs complain about the absence of loyalty from the modern game,

No they don't. Fans complain about this. Clubs know it is all a business.

but loyalty went out the general manager’s window at least as quickly as the players lost it. If anyone doubts that, ask Michael Young.

I would love to know how the Rangers are not being loyal to Michael Young. They are paying him exceptionally well, they haven't placed him on the bench without an everyday job, from all appearances it seems they have attempted to trade but can not due to his contract, and they are trying to get him in the field whenever possible. How is that unfair? Young is still a productive hitter, but he isn't a productive enough fielder to stay on the field over Adrian Beltre, and he isn't a productive enough hitter to deserve the salary he is drawing for 2011. Therein lies the problem.

It is short-sighted to let Michael Young use the excuse of his being a full-time DH for his slow start. It is willfully ignorant (probably because he likes Young) to not view Young's trade demand as somewhat selfish as well. So I guess it shouldn't shock me Murray is being short-sighted and willfully ignorant.

This isn't the first time Young has demanded a trade. Players who move positions when asked to do so are unselfish and should be lauded for putting the team before themselves. I understand his point of view, but the way Murray Chass put it where the Rangers have done Young wrong is just incorrect. They improved their team and want Young to drop his ego a bit in order for the betterment of the team. It's hard to do, I realize that, but at the end of the day he is overpaid and simply because he doesn't want to confront the fact moving him to DH and Beltre to third base is better for the team doesn't make it a stupid move on the Rangers part.