Wednesday, June 29, 2011

11 comments Jim Bowden Has Some Realignment Ideas To Share With Us

Every baseball season MLB starts to float the idea of realignment as sort of a testing the waters and saying, "Hey, does anyone have any feedback they'd like to give about this," while providing few specifics on what type of realignment would exactly occur. Baseball writers, even guys like me, start to jump on this idea. Without specifics, this leaves baseball writers with the idea of creating the new divisions and realignment themselves, which is always a dangerous situation. You never know what these suggestions will entail and which teams will be moved around, but there are two general rules I have noticed:

1. The Red Sox-Yankees will still be in the same division. Always.
2. The realignment usually evens out to 15 teams in the National and American League.

Jim Bowden has some ideas about realignment which not surprisingly stays true to these two rules, but he adds his own geographic twist to it as well. All together, a geographic realignment isn't the worst idea I have read, but I'm not sure how I like the fact the divisions are put together purely for rivalry reasons while breaking up other minor rivalries. Thanks to Martin for putting the link to this article in the comments. I felt like I had to cover the entire blog post/article by Bowden.

With Major League Baseball and the Players Association considering some form of realignment,

This happens nearly every baseball season, the owners and players considering realignment. I feel similar to this situation as I feel about the NFL lockout. Update me when you actually have an idea, rather than using the press as a way to float the possibility of an idea. In this article linked by Jim Bowden, here are the quotes that show both sides are considering realignment.

According to a highly ranked executive, one consideration that has been raised in ownership committee meetings is eliminating the divisions altogether, so that 15 AL and 15 NL teams would vie for five playoff spots within each league.

I'm not completely sure I would be against this. It is an interesting idea and depending on how MLB decided to design the season schedule I think this idea could work. If the schedule involves 20 Mets-Phillies games, compared to 10 Mets-Padres games then I may not like this idea as much. The schedule has to be balanced in some fashion.

A source who has been briefed on the specifics of the labor discussions says that the players' union has indicated that it is open to the idea of two 15-team leagues, but that the whole plan still hasn't been talked through or presented to the owners.

Sources say the talks are serious,

How can we call any talks serious until the idea has officially been presented to the owners? No idea will go through without the approval of the owners, so nothing can be serious until they have at least officially heard the idea.

and while one executive believes the odds of change are less than 50-50, another says this is the type of discussion that can gather momentum and become a reality.

So in summation (and this is why I wish we as a public would get updated when there is an actual idea):

1. There may be realignment.
2. There are serious talks about realigning the National and American League.
3. The owners haven't officially heard the proposal for realignment yet.
4. The odds are against there being realignment...but there could be at some point in the future...but not now probably...but it could happen.

So there's no real idea, even if there was an idea it hasn't been presented to the owners yet, even if it had been presented to the owners it probably wouldn't pass, but it could pass in the distant-not-too-distant future..................so you're telling me there's a chance?

A sticking point involves interleague play. Because of the odd number of teams in each league, it is possible that a team in contention late in the season will have to be playing its final games in interleague play.

That would be terrible! How could this happen? We wouldn't want a division winner to be decided based on two teams from different leagues playing each other during the final games of the season. Deciding which team gets homefield advantage in the World Series based on an exhibition game is perfectly fine of course. That makes sense...but having the final games of a season be interleague games is just unimaginable.

"There are still a lot of details that would have to be discussed," one source said.

Which is why this is the typical summer realignment discussion that doesn't ever appear to go anywhere. When it may actually end up happening, notify me then.

So that's the background on why Jim Bowden wrote his realignment idea blog post. It goes slightly downhill from here when it gets to Bowden's playoff structure idea, where he fails to realize an odd number of teams moving to the second round could create problems.

I would suggest geographic realignment, with six divisions of five teams each.

Geographic realignment? Sounds like a great idea then and it doesn't at all sound random. What happens if the Florida Marlins move to Los Angeles or Nebraska? What happens if two big rivals aren't in the same geographic area? For example, the Reds and Cardinals are in different divisions in Bowden's realignment suggestion. They don't get to be rivals anymore?

This, of course, would include the eradication of the American and National Leagues, as we know them, as well as the designated hitter rule.

So why would it get rid of the designated hitter rule again? Couldn't this realignment idea just as well have the designated hitter rule instituted throughout the majors? I don't like the DH that much, but I don't get why this realignment means the DH automatically goes away. There is still a National and American Lea---check that "Conference," (because apparently leaving the word "League" wouldn't represent enough change and there would now be a "National Conference" and an "American Conference"...which would ensure both leagues sound like they are just large business meetings) so why would the DH go away?

In "old school" terms, I realize my proposal would be considered radical, but here are my recommendations:

AMERICAN CONFERENCE NATIONAL CONFERENCE

Eastern Division

Boston Red Sox

Southeast Division

Atlanta Braves
New York Mets Baltimore Orioles
New York Yankees Florida Marlins
Philadelphia Phillies Tampa Bay Rays
Toronto Blue Jays Washington Nationals

Central Division

Western Division

Cincinnati Reds

Arizona Diamondbacks
Cleveland Indians Colorado Rockies
Detroit Tigers Houston Astros
Minnesota Twins Seattle Mariners
Pittsburgh Pirates Texas Rangers

Midwest Division

California Division

Chicago White Sox

Los Angeles Dodgers
Kansas City Royals Oakland Athletics
Milwaukee Brewers San Diego Padres
St. Louis Cardinals San Francisco Giants

My first observation is about these division names...are these serious?

The "California Division?"

"Southeast Division" with a team in Baltimore and Washington? I know the names of divisions aren't ever going to properly represent the location of the teams in that division, but if the entire point of the geographic realignment is to put teams in the same area together, shouldn't the name of that division also accurately reflect where those teams are located?

What the hell is the difference in the "Midwest Division" and the "Central Division?" Shouldn't we put Toronto in the "Canada Division?"

Here are my nit-picky problems with this realignment division by division:

Eastern Division: We are going to put the Phillies, Yankees and Red Sox in the same division? I know there has to be long-term thought put into this, so long-term these may not be three of the most dominant teams in baseball, but this seems like an overloaded division. I would imagine Toronto wouldn't be pleased at having four of the highest spending teams in their division. Also, other than the Yankees, why would it make sense to take the Mets away from all of their rivals? I enjoy watching the Phillies and Braves play the Mets.

Central Division: Pittsburgh is not "central" geographically. Not even close.

Midwest Division: Other than the separation of the Cardinals and White Sox from their current rivals, it doesn't seem so bad. This sort of gets to the heart of what geographic alignment is about. It is about essentially fostering local rivalries more than anything else, even at the expense of rivalries that are more regional than necessarily local (i.e. White Sox v. Tigers). I feel like this geographic realignment focuses too much on certain rivalries and just hopes other teams in the division will develop rivalries based on the fact they are located close to each other.

Southeast Division: Other than the fact my Braves team would be losing nearly all of their current rivals to the "American Conference," (Mets, Phillies) I am still concerned about Baltimore and Washington being in the Southeast. If we are going to do this geographically, at least change the name of the divisions to reflect this accurately. I'm sorry, as a Braves fan I don't want to be in a division with the Orioles, Rays, Marlins and Nationals. No fucking thank you. Another interesting part of the way this division is aligned is the subject of attendance at games. This division contains the teams that are 15th, 21st, 25th, 29th, and 30th in home attendance. That doesn't bode well when no team in the division seems to be a draw.

Western Division: This isn't the "California Division," of course. The teams in that division are all in California. These are teams that are solidly in the West, like the Houston Astros and Texas Rangers. This division is essentially put together just so the Rangers and Astros can have rivalry games. Which apparently is all that matters because adding Seattle to this division to play the Diamondbacks, Astros and Rockies doesn't make sense because the Mariners don't have much of a rivalry with these teams since they aren't located in geographic proximity to them nor are they even currently in the same league as these three National League teams.

California Division: See, these teams are all in California. That's why it is called the California Division. Other than the name, I don't have a huge issue with this realignment. Maybe some of these teams wouldn't leave the state of California for an entire month while Seattle will have to travel to Texas to play, but this realignment is all about geography so the amount of travel isn't something Jim Bowden is worried about.

Geographic rivalries would increase attendance, revenue and excitement in the region where each team is located.

It would increase those things in divisions where there are geographic rivalries and between the teams that are rivals. I guarantee you in certain divisions revenue and excitement would be decreased. I am thinking selfishly of the Southeast Division where the Braves are in the same division as three teams that have been in their respective cities for less than two decades. I can't speak for all Braves fans, but I would hate being in this division.

For example, the following series -- Reds-Indians,

I'll give you Reds-Indians, but what about Indians-Pirates, Tigers-Reds, Reds-Twins? Are those big draws?

Orioles-Nationals,

We already have Braves-Nationals/Marlins and those are not well-attended games. How about Orioles-Rays, Braves-Rays? You get my point. Would they be well-attended? I just don't know if well-attended interleague games are a reason to change the divisions around. We could be trading one well-attended series for other series that are question marks.

That's all nitpicking, here is the REAL problem with Bowden's expansion idea. He has an idea on how to do the playoffs as well.

Along with geographic realignment, my proposal would call for expanded playoffs that would increase the number of teams making the postseason from eight to 12.

Would every round, including the World Series, be a one-game playoff? Would the 12 teams that made the playoffs be shuffled around to play each other, not based on each team's record, but geographic area? We could be guaranteed a Yankees-Red Sox playoff nearly every year! Is there anything better than that?

In each conference, the three division winners and the three teams with the next-best records would be postseason-bound.

A playoff system where the three winners of the previous series move on to the next round. What could go wrong? Other than it is impossible, outside of a round robin tournament, for three teams to play and determine which of those teams make the World Series. One team would have to have a bye in the second round of the playoffs. That's not good.

The division winner with the conference's best record, the No. 1 seed, would play the No. 6 seed; the team with the second-best record, the No. 2 seed, would play the No. 5 seed, etc. The first round of the playoffs would be a best-of-five series.

Right now, this doesn't sound terrible. Outside of the whole "how are three teams going to advance to the next round problem," of which I eagerly await a resolution.

Spoiler alert: I won't get a solution. Nothing is given. These are the people ESPN hires to discuss baseball on their web site.

The next rounds would be best-of-seven series.

Revolutionary.

The regular season would begin around March 24, which would shorten spring training. During the first few weeks of the regular season, the games would be played in the National Conference,

I'm sorry, did we ever decide which hotel we were having this National Conference at? What are some of the available programs available at the National Conference?

where the weather is normally dryer and warmer, resulting in fewer rainouts and postponements.

I'm glad Jim Bowden is working hard to resolve the huge issue we have been having with snow postponements and rain-outs. I thought there would never be a person bold enough to investigate this non-issue, but I guess I underestimated Jim Bowden. I've always argued doubleheaders and snow are not ruining baseball, it's good to see someone willing to adjust the entire playing schedule to fix a non-issue like this.

Basketball and hockey have 16 playoff teams, so there is no reason Major League Baseball can’t increase its postseason teams from eight to 12.

Good point other than the basketball and hockey playoffs are fucking interminable and I am ready for them to end in late May, but they don't. Other than the fact I feel this way, this is a great idea. Maybe I have a short attention span, but I don't need the MLB playoffs to be too much longer. It's unavoidable if another layer of the playoffs is added, so I will have to accept this.

This would create more pennant races and more excitement in more cities come September.

I'm not a traditionalist when it comes to baseball. I am also not closed-minded enough to think more pennant races is a bad thing. Still, for some reason I have an issue with creating more playoffs teams, not because there are still qualified teams who get left out, but because it will create excitement in more cities during September. It is like a band writing two slow songs on their album just because it will cause their album to sell better. If the slow songs (teams) are good enough to make the album (playoffs) that's fine, but don't put them on the album (playoffs) unless they are really good enough. Otherwise you are forsaking quality for mass appeal.

It probably is true if the playoffs were expanding there would be more interest in cities during September, but I don't know if this would result in better ratings on television or during the playoffs. I am not sure I like the idea of the inclusion of more teams just to appeal to more people in more cities. The NFL has 12 playoff teams and that seems to work out well for them, so maybe it wouldn't be so bad. I am opposed to a playoff solution that results in playoff games that aren't competitive and any more than 12 teams would probably go that direction in my mind.

Baseball’s present proposal is to increase the playoff teams from eight to 10, by adding a second wild-card team. The problem with that concept is that the division winners would have to sit and wait for the wild-card series to end.

Because first round byes are just stupid? How the hell can Jim Bowden explain his 6 team playoff idea where there are 3 teams that move on to the next round? So a second round bye is perfectly fine, but a first round bye creates a problem?

In baseball, timing is important, and sitting and waiting is a detriment for both hitters and pitchers.

YOU, JIM BOWDEN, HAVE CREATED A PLAYOFF SYSTEM WHERE THERE ARE THREE TEAMS IN EACH CONFERENCE ADVANCING! HOW WILL ONE OF THESE TEAMS NOT GET A BYE?

Is it okay to sit and wait during the second round, but not the first round?

The other problem with the current proposal is that the wild-card series would either be a single game or a best-of-three, lessening the chances of the best team moving on.

Agreed when it comes to a one game playoff, but disagree when it comes to a three game playoff. I that would be a somewhat fair system, especially if the "best team" gets homefield advantage in all three games or something similar to this.

And if it takes the weekend before the end of the regular season to clinch a playoff spot, a team's rotation might not be set up to give it a legitimate chance to win a short series.

Who gives a shit? Baseball is a team game. One of my biggest problems with the MLB playoffs is there is too much time between games. Some teams don't even have to use their 4th starter if they don't want to. I don't care if a team's rotation is "set up" or not. This is a time when a manager actually does some managing in order to decide how he wants his pitching staff used. He has to do this during the regular season due to injuries and other variables like that, why can't he do it during the postseason too?

If the Cardinals use Chris Carpenter to clinch a playoff berth then that was their decision. If it results in Jake Westbrook or Kyle Lohse having to start Game 1 then that is the decision that was made by Tony LaRussa. It is a decision that would need to be made by the manager. I just don't either care or have sympathy for teams that would whine they used their best pitchers to win the division so they need more time to "set" their rotation.

The time has come for baseball to go beyond moving just one team to a new league and to discuss a realignment plan that makes sense geographically

Or somewhat makes sense geographically. Maybe I am the only one who thinks Pittsburgh shouldn't be in the Central division under a "geographically correct" alignment plan. Yes, I realize the Pirates are currently in the Central, but the current divisional alignments don't make sense geographically. It is also impossible to do an entire alignment plan that makes sense geographically and not put Seattle with any of the California teams.

and is in sync with the plan to expand the playoffs.

How about this playoff plan, one that isn't overly complicated:

Move one National League team to the American League. Put the Houston Astros in the AL West. They can compete in a rivalry with the Rangers, so they will have a rival since that appears to be hugely important. The regular season will go on as it currently does or be cut to 154 games, which I wouldn't be opposed to.

Expand the playoffs to 12 teams with a three game playoff between the #3 and #6 teams and #4 and #5 teams in each league. The three game playoff will begin with a one day rest after the regular season and then the series will start with the teams having zero off days and all three games will take place at the higher ranked teams field (it can go 1-1-1, but no off days still).

That way the #1 and #2 seeds can set their rotation (since this is important and they have earned it), which they deserved to be able to do based on their record over the 162 game season, and they don't get a long time off to prevent them from forgetting how to play baseball. This apparently is a problem because teams need rest, but not too much rest to get rust. It seems like it is a delicate balance.

The winner of the three game playoff series goes on to play the #1 and #2 seeds. The #1 seed will play the lower ranked team that advances and the #2 seed will play the higher ranked seed team that advances. This is a five game series.

The next two rounds (ALCS/NLCS and World Series) will be seven game series. Great, sounds good.

I look forward to your thoughts and opinions.

Here's a thought. How are you going to resolve three teams moving on to the next round? Give one of the teams a bye? Didn't Jim Bowden just say teams shouldn't get a first round by because it messes up their timing? Shouldn't this pertain to the second round as well?

Here's an opinion. I don't hate the geographic realignment idea, but I don't think it should be done purely to cultivate the rivalries that already exist. Part of what makes the rivalries exist and makes them exciting is some of these teams don't play 20 games against each other during the year. If the Rangers-Astros played each other 20 times there is no guarantee it would turn into a Red Sox-Yankees type rivalry. I don't dislike the way the divisions are aligned now and I think if a more geographic alignment were done it would tear apart some current rivalries and try to force current interleague rivalries that may end up not existing (Marlins-Rays). I am in favor of realignment, but I don't know if teams need to be moved around in the divisions drastically.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

3 comments Grading Mel Kiper's 2003 NFL Draft Grades

BGF has been doing a few of these lately, so I thought I'd join in on the fun. And since I can mooch off of my brother's insider account, I have access to these hidden gems of random assessment. Now don't get me wrong. Of all the draft gurus in any sport that ESPN employs, Mel Kiper is my hands down favorite. Why? Because he actually does research. He's interesting to listen to. His hairstyle hasn't changed in 30 years. But the entire process of grading drafts moments after they happened is flawed in itself.

For those of you with Insider, here are Kiper's grades.

Arizona Cardinals: C

Arizona's draft was all about saving money. The Cardinals moved down from the sixth spot and got Bryant Johnson, the wide receiver they needed, and an athletic pass rusher in Calvin Pace. Some will say they gave up too much to save dollars, but they rebounded nicely, getting another receiver in Anquan Boldin and more help for the defense.

A good start for Mel. Although clearly Boldin was the receiver they needed and not Bryant Johnson. Calvin Pace, when healthy, has proven to be a solid pass rusher. The rest of their draft, however, produced no one of note. I'd probably bump up their grade a bit considering Boldin is a star.

Atlanta Falcons: C+

Bryan Scott is a versatile DB who can play safety or corner, and Justin Griffith is a multi-dimensional fullback, but Atlanta didn't do a lot in the late rounds. Who knows how much help they can get at WR with Jon Olinger and Latarence Dunbar.

Where's the explanation of your grade? I don't need to hear further descriptions of these players; you spent the last 5 months doing that ad nauseam. And how can a fullback be multi-dimensional? They literally have three possible roles. Catch short passes, run straight up the middle without fumbling and block. I'm pretty sure every NFL fullback can do these things.

Only Bryan Scott turned out to be decent, so this draft deserves a D at best.

< charset="utf-8">Who knows how much help they can get at WR with Jon Olinger and Latarence Dunbar.

Maybe I'm missing something here, but isn't Kiper paid to know this? And even if he doesn't know, why would he ever admit this? Doesn't he know that I'll be grading his draft grades eight years later?

Baltimore Ravens: A

I like Terrell Suggs, Kyle Boller and Musa Smith with the first three picks. Aubrayo Franklin fills a need at nose tackle, and Jarrett Johnson has a great motor on the defensive line, while Ovie Mughelli will be a solid lead blocker. The Ravens also got a steal in the fifth round with Tony Pashos, and while Boller was slightly overrated at No. 19, there is no way they would have gotten a good young QB like him next year.

A couple things of note here:

1) The Ravens deserve a high grade simply for drafting guys named "Aubrayo," "Ovie" and "Musa."
2) An excellent call by Mel on Tony Pashos. He did turn out alright.
3) Mel leaned towards saying that Boller was awful, but ultimately backed away.

So essentially the Ravens got a Pro Bowl end in Suggs, a bust QB that set back their franchise multiple years, a running back who was constantly hurt and an average offensive tackle in Pashos. An A seems like a bit of a reach, I think. More like a B or B-.

Buffalo Bills: B

Willis McGahee is going to be on the shelf for a year, but the Bills have Travis Henry and Olandis Gary in the interim. Chris Kelsay is the pass-rushing defensive end they need, and I like Sam Aiken as a possession receiver, and Ben Sobieski made sense in the fifth round if he can stay healthy.

Chris Kelsay is the pass-rushing defensive end that has never recorded more than 5.5 sacks in a season. I can't take away the McGahee pick, but once again Mel doesn't make any commentary. Instead, he chooses to present us with already well known facts. And I can't remember if we knew by then that Travis Henry had 147 children with 135 women. If that was public knowledge, then the McGahee pick becomes that much smarter. Mel also neglects to mention that the Bills did pick up Terrence McGee,who turned out to be a good corner and an outstanding returner. So the Bills went 1.5 for 8 in this draft. That's probably not a B.

Carolina Panthers: B-

Jordan Gross and Bruce Nelson will go a long way toward strengthening the offensive line, and Mike Seidman is a good addition at tight end. Colin Branch and Kindal Moorehead are decent players who may help the Carolina defense, while Walter Young and Casey Moore add some depth to the offense.

Again, thanks for the analysis Mel. These two sentences esentially boil down to the following: these players will help the Panthers get better. Is that not the point of the draft? Can we get a little more than that? Obviously Jordan Gross turned out to be the only solid player from this draft. So I can't go higher than a C-.

By the way, Mel is 0.5 for 4 right now. (I gave him half credit for the Cardinals.)

Chicago Bears: B

I like the addition of Michael Haynes at defensive end, and I have always been high on Rex Grossman at quarterback. Charles Tillman is a nice addition to the secondary, and Lance Briggs will give the Bears some versatility at linebacker with his ability to play inside or outside. Chicago also added some depth at wide receiver with Bobby Wade and Justin Gage.

I'm glad that Me liked the addition of Michael Haynes, because I'm sure the Bears didn't. I'm also glad that he has always been high on Rex Grossman, because Rex Grossman has always been high as well!

Otherwise, Mel did a pretty good job. I'd lower it from a B to a B-/C+ (Rex did take them to the Super Bowl), but in general I'm not going shelve the nitpicking for a moment.

Cincinnati Bengals: B+

The Bengals did what they had to do with Carson Palmer, and Eric Steinbach has the ability to play guard or center. Cincinnati followed those selections with good value, getting Kelley Washington and Dennis Weathersby in the third and fourth rounds, and the rest of the picks were spent on solid players.

It's hard to knock the Bengals for snagging Palmer, who was a Pro Bowl QB before his ACL tear derailed him. Steinbach has turned into an excellent guard and a solid pick. No one else really turned into much of anything, but the first two picks were very solid. So I think Mel got it right here.

Cleveland Browns: B

Jeff Faine will be a great anchor on the offensive line for years to come, and while I thought Chaun Thompson went a little high, he has a great work ethic and dominated at his level of competition. Chris Chrocker was also off the board a little early, but I like the fact he can move from corner to safety, and Lee Suggs will be a solid backup to William Green. Mike Lehan also made a lot of sense in the fifth round.

Jeff Faine was not a great anchor. Chaun Thompson's greatest claim to fame is that his name is slightly misspelled. This draft definitely makes me pity Cleveland fans.

Dallas Cowboys: A

The Cowboys played the game well. They didn't let teams know they were locked in on Terence Newman, but they still got the shut-down corner they needed, and Al Johnson could end up being their starting center. Jason Witten will be in the mix at tight end, and Bradie James is a heck of a bargain in the fourth round.

Mel completely nailed this one, no question about it. The Cowboys grabbed three starters, multiple Pro Bowlers, and Tony Romo (undrafted). I really have nothing else to say except job well done, Jerry Jones.

Denver Broncos: C+

I would have held off on George Foster, who had a high grade entering the season but was hampered by a wrist injury. Terry Pierce was a good pickup in the second round, and I like Quentin Griffin because of his character and versatility. Nick Eason is somewhat of an underachiever and needs to step it up a little bit, while his college teammate Bryant McNeal is a good pass rusher off the edge.

Denver probably should have listened to Mel about George Foster. It's really amazing how a team with 10 draft picks can strike out 10 times. But Denver managed it. You would think that people would have recognized that Mike Shanahan isn't a good coach, but everyone apparently still had Elway blinders on.

Monday, June 27, 2011

6 comments Hey! It's a List of Overrated Players for 2011!

Matt Miller of Bleacher Report has gathered together a list of overrated players for 2011. Matt founded New Era Scouting and has been published in several publications according to his bio. So the question remains, why the hell is he writing for Bleacher Report? There has to be a better forum for him to get his sports-related thoughts out into the world. It is incredibly difficult to get a list of truly overrated players together, simply since the term overrated is dependent on a person's point of view of that player. Each person has a different point of view on a player, so opinions can widely vary. Nevertheless, Matt Miller gives it a shot.

Joe Namath was overrated by the media—definitely not his fault, but nevertheless his entire career has the footnote of "overrated" attached to it.

Matt and I are getting off on the right foot it seems. I have somewhat agreed with this opinion in the past. I know some would disagree, but that's the nature of the "overrated" argument I guess.

We place the label of overrated on players who are overpaid, over-hyped and over-covered by the ESPNs of the world.

I don't know if I would recommend or agree with using ESPN as the main source of opinion on whether a player is overrated by the amount of coverage they give. So these players are going to be over-hyped and over-covered players and that's why they are overrated?

I may agree with Miller that some of these players are overrated, but sometimes his reasoning is a bit odd. Those are the parts I will highlight.

Which players in the NFL rank as the most overrated for 2011?

I know you were concerned about this, so don't worry...there is a list with each entry on a separate page. Bleacher Report is concerned about pageviews and a separate entry on each page serves this purpose. So we don't get just a list, but we also have to click over to a new page to find the next overrated player.

Also, I apologize for calling it a "list." As Bleacher Report points out, it is a "slideshow," so get your ViewMaster ready.

25. Plaxico Burress

Since word of his June 6 release was announced, Plaxico Burress' name has been all over the national football news wires.

This really doesn't have much to do with him being overrated, especially since he hasn't signed a contract yet. Is he overrated if he gets paid $1 million for 2011? Likely not.

Burress was an average NFL receiver before his incarceration.

I think Burress may be a bit overrated by those covering his return to the NFL, but there is no way he was an average receiver before his incarceration. He was having a down year before he went to jail, but he had 1,000 yard seasons two out of the three previous seasons (missing by 12 yards the one season he missed the mark) and 63+ catches in those seasons as well. If that was average, a lot of teams would like more average receivers like him.

24. Dez Bryant

Bryant does have the physical skills and talent to become a top-five wide receiver, but to date he has not shown the ability to stay healthy nor the work ethic to become the best.

He has been in the NFL one entire season. He missed four games in his rookie year and this is "not showing an ability to stay healthy?" Let's not reach in order to call a player overrated.

23. Michael Crabtree

Notice how the first three players are wide receivers. It doesn't appear Matt Miller is a fan of wide receivers in the NFL.

Crabtree, much like Dez Bryant, is insanely talented but has not shown the maturity or work ethic to succeed at a rate that matches his ability.

Crabtree has also not shown the ability to throw the football to himself, which would have helped him become a better receiver had he learned to do this. I am sure it is his lack of maturity rather than the unsettled quarterback position that is his biggest problem.

21. Kyle Orton

Career passer rating: 79.6

Career record when starting: 32-29

Career completion percentage: 58.1

Career passer rating: 84.3

Career record when starting: 34-34

Career completion percentage: 61.6%

Those are Jay Cutler's numbers. Is Jay Cutler overrated? He's a hell of a lot more popular and well-thought of as compared to Orton. Hell, Orton had people calling for Tim Tebow to start over him. I agree Orton isn't a great quarterback, but who the hell thinks or said he was? The fact he was a starter for the second-worst team in the NFL doesn't make him overrated.

There is this belief that Orton is better than his numbers.

Orton is an average to slightly above average NFL quarterback. No one I know thinks differently. There is a belief Orton is a high-quality backup quarterback who isn't going to win games for you by himself.

19. Mike Jenkins

Dallas cornerback Mike Jenkins is living off his one good season in 2009 when he had five interceptions and 19 passes defensed.

The real Jenkins was on display in 2010 with one interception and four passes defensed.

I don't know where Matt Miller is getting his numbers from but I have nine passes defensed for Jenkins here, here, and here. The funny part is in his response to a commenter on this post, Miller accuses a person of making up statistics to make Eli Manning look better when the same could be said for Miller getting the stats wrong in judging Mike Jenkins.

Miller seems like a smart guy so he should know judging a cornerback purely on passes defensed and interceptions is a faulty way to judge a corner. Part of the reason Jenkins may not have as many passes defensed or interceptions is because quarterbacks may not have thrown at him often. It is entirely possible Jenkins just didn't have as many passes thrown in his direction in 2010 as he did in 2009, which would result in a drop in his statistics.

I don't think Jenkins is that highly rated, again I feel like Bleacher Report requests their writers do lists that are overly long in order to increase pageviews, but maybe one good year and then one "bad" year makes him overrated in the mind of Mat Miller. He sure doesn't require a large sample size before making judgments.

18. Brian Cushing

Performance-enhancing drugs are amazing, aren't they?

And then, in March of 2010, Cushing was suspended for the first four games of the 2010 season for failing a drug test and violating the NFL's anti-steroid policy.

I'm not saying Cushing was juicing, but it sure does look that way.

Of course you aren't saying Brian Cushing was juicing. You are just commenting that PEDs are awesome and then detailing how Cushing failed a drug test and his performance got worse. You aren't saying, but just strongly hinting to the point you may as well say it. This coy bullshit where a writer beats around the bush while accusing-but-not-really of using PEDs and that exonerates himself because he didn't actually say it has grown old.

Stating Fact A and then stating Fact B while attempting to draw a connection between the two facts doesn't mean you can then state you aren't trying to draw a connection. If you weren't trying to draw a connection you wouldn't have written the two statements the way you did.

With a full season on the horizon in 2011, we would not be surprised to see Cushing's name start to flash as a Pro Bowl-caliber player,

And yet he is the 18th most overrated player for the 2011 season. This seems like quite a contradiction.

but the fact of the matter is that he hasn't been the same since coming back after suspension.

So Cushing has had a great year in the NFL and an average year in the NFL. Matt Miller wouldn't be shocked if Cushing had a great year this year, but he is still overrated?

17. Percy Harvin

Percy Harvin has never posted a 1,000-yard season. He's never had more than eight touchdowns in a year.

He's 23 years old and has been in the NFL for two entire seasons. Let's go easy on the guy.

And yet he's been voted to a Pro Bowl and named the 2009 AP NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.

He was the best offensive rookie of 2009, which is a small pool of players to choose from as it is, and he returned two kickoffs for touchdowns that same year so he made the Pro Bowl as a return specialist. He was named to the Pro Bowl only when Desean Jackson made it as a receiver and a returner. After having a great rookie year, especially for a receiver, Harvin went out in 2010 and had more receptions and yards than his rookie year in 1 fewer game. So he IMPROVED upon his 2009 season, yet for some reason he is overrated. I don't get it.

But the thing is, he didn't. Harvin can have one or two big plays but is largely controllable.

He can have one or two big plays? Is that per game? If so, that's pretty fucking great.

As a receiver he's never been great, despite accolades and attention that would suggest otherwise.

He's "never" been a great receiver? He has been in the NFL for two years and is 23 years old. It's not like he is a highly paid receiver who hasn't produced in the five years he's been in the league. He's still just a kid. The accolades he received were for being a great offensive rookie and he made the Pro Bowl as a kick returner, which doesn't have much to do with his skill as a receiver.

16. DeAngelo Williams

When looking at the NFL free agency landscape you will notice that running back DeAngelo Williams largely ranks as the best available running back, even on my own personal list.

In retrospect, that may have been ambitious.

He wrote the article about the best free agents available on May 31, 2011 and he wrote this column on June 7, 2011. I guess a lot changes in seven days.

Williams peaked in 2008 with an amazing 1,515 yards and 18 touchdowns. The following season he posted 1,117 yards

Let's leave out facts to help prove a point! Sound good? Great! Consider it done!

Williams posted 1,117 yards in 13 games. That comes out to 1,375 yards over a 16 game schedule. That's still not bad, especially with a 5.2 ypc average.

and then in 2010 he was only able to get to 361 yards before being injured.

Injuries are a recent problem for Williams. Still not sure this makes him overrated. I have knowledge Matt Miller doesn't have, so I don't blame him for not knowing this, but if the Panthers had a better record or there were another severe running back injury Williams would most likely have played this year because he could have played.

And there is the problem: Williams may not be able to hold up as a one-man backfield.

At 5'8" and 210 lbs, Williams is on the small side for a featured back, and hits could be catching up to him.

The amount of hits he has taken could be catching up to him, but he hasn't had a problem being the feature back in the past and most NFL teams use two running backs these days anyway. Let's get some perspective on whether this point of view has merit or not. Let's see how many carries other running backs have had in their NFL career:

DeAngelo Williams: 5 seasons, 841 carries
Adrian Peterson: 4 seasons, 1148 carries
Chris Johnson: 3 seasons, 925 carries
Michael Turner: 7 seasons, 1116 carries
Maurice Jones-Drew: 5 seasons, 1141 carries
Ray Rice: 3 seasons, 668 carries

So even compared to two players his size, Jones-Drew and Rice, Williams doesn't seem to have much mileage on his tires. Compared to other "bigger" running backs, Williams has much less mileage. Of course Williams has been hurt (though, again, I know for a fact he could have played) and I guess that's the reason behind the theory of why he may have future injuries and why he is overrated.

13. Bob Sanders

Drafted in 2004, Bob Sanders has never played all 16 games in a single season.

And he's still called "one of the best safeties in the NFL, when healthy."

The fact is, Sanders is never healthy. The Colts gave up on him after he played in just nine games over the last three seasons.

Let's get into a little semantics talk. Sanders can be one of the best safeties in the NFL when healthy, but he is never healthy. So saying he is still called one of the best safeties in the NFL when healthy, isn't a contradiction or an indication this statement is wrong. It could very well be correct, it is just Sanders is never healthy.

So Matt Miller is disputing that Sanders is called one of the best safeties in the NFL when he is healthy, says Sanders has played in 9 games over the last three years (out of a total of 7 seasons), and said he was amazing early in his career. So in the four early years of his career when he was healthier he was amazing...so he is one of the best safeties in the NFL when he is healthy?

12. Darnell Dockett

As an NFL player, he's just average. Despite what he may tell you.

Dockett has never posted 50 tackles in a season.

This is true unless you don't want to count the combined 50+ tackles he had in 2006, 2007, 2009, and 2010. If you don't count those, then this statement is absolutely correct. Also, what's up with the arbitrary tackles standard for Dockett? Why is 50 tackles for a defensive tackle the threshold that Dockett must reach?

There were two defensive tackles in the NFL that had 50+ solo tackles last year. So holding Dockett to this standard seems rather arbitrary to me.

He has never had 10 sacks.

Again, he is a defensive tackle so getting sacks isn't always their first priority. No doubt, it is a priority, but sacks isn't always the best way to judge a defensive tackle.

Compared to other defensive tackles, his passes-defensed numbers are also painfully low.

So we are using passes defensed now? This can be completely dependent on the defensive scheme that is being run. Some defensive tackles drop back into coverage more often and if you look at the defensive line leaders in passes defensed, most of them (and nearly all of the leaders) are defensive ends, not defensive tackles.

Is that being picky? Perhaps, but that is our job here.

No, it is not your job. If you state a player is overrated then you shouldn't have to be picky about it. Having to be picky to prove a player is overrated probably means that player isn't overrated since you have to work hard to prove it.

9. Tim Tebow

A quarterback with a 1-2 record as a starter and a laughable 50 percent completion percentage in his rookie year was somehow lauded as one of the next great NFL players this summer.

Seriously, you are going to make me defend Tim Tebow? It's not going to happen. I will say this...he overhauled his throwing motion and anyone who seemed to think he could play well immediately in the NFL was fooling themselves. So judging him after one year isn't fair. Still, he shouldn't be the Broncos starter this year either.

Notice how Matt Miller says both of the Broncos quarterbacks are overrated. Somebody is not a Broncos fan, or at least a fan of the Broncos quarterbacks. Wonder what his thoughts on Brady Quinn are?

9. Jason Babin

Really? Other than the NFL poll among players that had him the 85th best player in the league where has ESPN or any other organization hyped him up? That's the only instance of him being overrated really.

That track record, and label as a draft bust, somehow added up to Babin being named the 85th-best player in the NFL by his peers.

Babin has the rare misfortune of being overrated by his coworkers.

That's really the only instance of him being overrated, yet while making $1 million dollars and getting very little coverage for how well he played last year he is overrated? Not sure about that.

7. Donovan McNabb

I don't disagree completely with this. Let's see part of the reasoning though.

Some food for thought:

McNabb is No. 4 among active quarterbacks in fumbles.

#1 on that list? Brett Favre
#6 on that list? Tom Brady
#8 on that list? Drew Brees
#12 on that list? Peyton Manning

On the all-time list, let's see which terrible quarterback is #4 in fumbles...oh, it's John Elway.

Oh, and he's second among active quarterbacks in yards lost to sacks and times sacked.

Somebody is cherry-picking the hell out of some statistics. Yards lost to sacks? Brett Favre is ahead of McNabb on this list in both spots, so that's some other food for thought.

4. Mario Williams

Williams has been the best of the three, but he is still not worthy of being the No. 1 pick nor a two-time Pro Bowl player.

Before saying Williams wasn't worthy of being taken No. 1 overall, let's figure out who was worthy of being the No. 1 pick in 2006.

D'Brickashaw Ferguson? Probably not.
Vernon Davis? No.
Jay Cutler? Arguable.
Haloti Ngata? How would he have played in a 4-3 defense is a question, but I say no.
Nick Mangold? No.
DeAngelo Williams? He's overrated too remember.
DeMeco Ryans? No.
Greg Jennings? Probably not.
Maurice Jones-Drew? Most likely no.
Brandon Marshall? Arguable.

So if Williams wasn't worth the No. 1 overall pick I would like to know who was worth the choice. He's been pretty durable, only missing three games in his career, and he has produced well on a generally poor defensive team.

Williams was very good in 2007 and 2008, but he has also declined dramatically since then.

Yeah, he didn't even have 10 sacks or 50 tackles over the last two years. I am sure his decline has nothing to do with the quality of defensive tackles on his team or how other teams have been able to double-team him with impunity. The Texans had 30 sacks in 2010 with Williams getting 8.5 of those and they had 29 sacks in 2009 and Williams had 9.0 of those.

Sure, Williams performed well during other years when the Texans didn't have great defensive line pressure from other players. This doesn't mean teams haven't paid more attention to him over the past couple of years in response to the lack of overall defensive line talent on the Texans.

3. Terrell Owens

Owens has been a great receiver at times in his career, but he has also been known for his inability to take a hit to catch the ball in traffic (this is where the term "alligator arms" comes from) and his me-first attitude.

I understand the "alligator arms" part, but Owens was 37 years old this past season and he caught 72 balls for 983 yards. That's still pretty great production.

Owens has produced at a Hall of Fame level, especially early in his career, but his attitude and tendency to question his quarterbacks keep Owens on both the players list and this one.

So he's overrated for a reason that has little to do with his performance? Nice.

Then he puts Eli Manning as the 2nd most overrated player in the NFL based on the fact he got lucky in the Super Bowl. I am not sure how I feel about this. Sure, Manning gets publicity and endorsements partly because of his name, but I am not sure who considers him to be more than an above average quarterback.

1. Kevin Williams

Kevin Williams ranks as our most overrated player in the NFL. And not until I started looking at his stats in ranking my top 100 players in the NFL did I realize it.

Kevin Williams is a defensive tackle...are his passes defensed or interceptions not high enough. What about his yards per carry average, is that a bit low too?

Year Tackles Sacks PD FF Awards
2004 52 11.5 8 2 Pro Bowl, 1st team All-Pro
2005 31 4 7 0 None
2006 28 5 6 0 Pro Bowl, 1st team All-Pro
2007 29 3 6 1 Pro Bowl, 1st team All-Pro
2008 46 8 4 1 Pro Bowl, 1st team All-Pro
2009 22 6 7 1 Pro Bowl, 1st team All-Pro
2010 27 1 10 1 Pro Bowl

Kevin Williams has been living off his stellar 2004 season for six years.

Yeah, but he defensed 10 passes this past year, isn't that great? Otherwise, Kevin Williams didn't have a great year in 2010, that's for sure. Even in a 4-3 defense Williams should be getting more tackles and sacks than he got this year. So it would seem like he is a bit overrated. This was a good catch.

Still, there are too many poorly-reasoned and reaches on this list. Maybe the list would seem to have more merit if it was the Top 10 overrated players in the NFL for 2011.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

5 comments Mike Schmidt May Not Remember His Playing Days Too Well

I hate to do this, but in the course of searching for this week's ESPN baseball chats I found a chat with Mike Schmidt on June 7. I read the chat because I have always enjoyed Mike Schmidt and think he is the best (or 1a with Eddie Mathews simply for pure bias reasons) third baseman of all-time. As a child playing baseball, I used to pretend I was him when I wanted to bat right-handed and Mathews when I wanted to bat left-handed. I wanted to be a third-baseman if you haven't noticed.

As I read the chat I started to get the feeling Mike Schmidt may not have remembered his playing career all that well, because he was making criticisms for things he or his teammates were guilty of themselves. It seems like some retired athletes love to criticize current athletes. This is true in every sport. Occasionally, I will find what the retired athlete is criticizing the current athlete for is a bit of hypocrisy. So here we are. I am will piss off the Phillies' fan base, as well as piss off 6 year old Bengoodfella.

This chat made me miss Joe Morgan. Actually, I just miss doing baseball chats overall.

Buzzmaster: Hey everyone, hall of famer Mike Schmidt will be here at 1:30 p.m. ET to take your questions!

Buzzmaster...I have missed you. You don't miss Joe Morgan. Don't lie.

Buzzmaster: (1:29pm) Mike is here!

One minute early nonetheless. I guess the Buzzmaster doesn't have to worry about making excuses like, "Joe Morgan is late because his plane was delayed," "Joe got arrested this morning for smacking a police officer and will have to chat from his cell" or "Joe is running a bit late. He got held up by an angry swarm of zebras that had cornered him on the street" in order to explain Joe Morgan's lack of punctuality.

Al Perhai (Minneapolis, MN)


Are those powder blue Jersey the best looking of all time? Cause I definetly think so... We love ya Mike!!!

Mike Schmidt: Looking back, today's jerseys, the Phillies are the coolest that they've ever had. Those old ones, they were pretty trendy when they came out. You still a lot of them.

Yes, you do still a lot of them. (misses Joe Morgan again) You do still a lot of them.

Clay Defayette (New York)

How do you view the raise in strikeouts? Will the amount stay this high, and is it acceptable?

MS: No.

(Slams fist on desk in anger)

In my opinion, the strikeout has become an accepted element of the offensive game in baseball. I don't think it's good for the game.

Strikeouts have always been a part of the game, I don't know if they are accepted more now or not. Perhaps some people have become more enlightened and realize though a strikeout is rarely good, it is also just an out. There isn't a huge difference in Juan Pierre striking out 50 times per year, grounding out 165 times and making 450 outs during a season and Adam Dunn striking out 150 times, grounding out 65 times and making 450 outs. Either way, the end result is an out.

So in some situations it may be fine for a player to strikeout rather than hit into a double play and in other cases it may be better for a player to ground out and drive a run in rather than strike out. I have always laughed to myself at the idea baseball is going downhill because strikeouts are "accepted" now, while no one rails against why fly ball outs are "accepted" and how this is ruining the game. Baseball is a situational game and without knowing the exact situation I tend to think an out is an out. On it's face, no out really is, or should be, accepted.

I think the acceptance of it has created a lack of accountability by today's hitter.

A lack of accountability? Really, this isn't hypocritical criticism of modern players? Let's compare the statistics of Player X to Mike Schmidt in order to see how Schmidt would hold up as accountable in his own time.

Player X is 8th on the all-time list in strikeouts, during his playing career he led the majors in strikeouts four times including three years in a row, and he was in the Top 7 of strikeout leaders every single year from 1973-1985. This player also is 17th all-time in walks drawn, was in the Top 8 from 1974 to 1987 in walks and Player X was among the league leaders during these same years in home runs and RBI's.

Now let's compare Player X, who appears to be a hitter that lacks accountability in the fact he strikes out a lot, seems to swing for the fences a lot and appears to be a three true outcomes hitter to Mike Schmidt.

We can't though...Player X IS Mike Schmidt. Yes, that is exactly correct. Mike Schmidt, the same guy who struck out the 8th most times in MLB history, is criticizing modern players for lacking accountability because they strike out so much. That's interesting to me. Later in this chat I wouldn't be surprised if Schmidt mocked current players who wear mustaches.

Mike Schmidt was a hitter who happened to strike out a lot, yet he got on-base a lot as well, which is what made him so great. Still, it isn't fair for him to say strikeouts are a result of a lack of accountability on the part of hitters because he struck out a lot when he was a player. Regardless of how great of a player he was despite the strikeouts, his playing career can be Example #1 for why strikeouts are just another out, and don't necessarily show a player is a weak hitter or undisciplined.

Jon (NYC)


Mike, your take on the Buster Posey incident?

Here's my take on the Buster Posey incident. Brian Sabean needed to quit whining about it and get over it. Buster Posey isn't the first catcher or even the first All-Star catcher to get run over at home plate by a runner. Dry your eyes and move the hell on.

MS: I hadn't seen a really, really slow motion replays. I've seen a few normal replays. It looks like the player could have slid feet first, but he chose to try to go through the catcher.

I'm not sure you need a slow motion replay to determine this. It's pretty obvious Scott Cousins went right into Buster Posey. Cousins could have slid feet first, but he wanted to score a run and Buster Posey was in the way. It was the winning run in the 12th inning as well, so there was an added incentive for Cousins to score. I thought hustling, playing gritty and doing everything it takes to win was an admirable quality for a player to have? It isn't like Cousins intended to hurt Posey nor should Cousins just not score a run for his team because the opposing player is a little bit in the way.

I think it was a direct result of the mentality of the players today.

What? If anything, players today are geared to not make contact with catchers more than players "back in the day" were. Partially because of all the bullshit that goes on when a player gets injured during a rough play. We've gotten to the point General Managers are essentially threatening players who hurt their team's players.

They're geared more for the physical contact at home plate, rather than a creative slide.


I do remember the creative slides players used "back in the day," much like this one.

In all seriousness, I don't know if there are more home plate collisions now than there used to be, but to criticize players for not making a "creative slide," as if players "back in the day" used fancy, creative slides continuously is deceiving. I don't believe it happened.

Craig (Syracuse)


How do you think the Phillies will do this year?....seems like the pitching is carrying their load.....the offense seems to be lagging......

MS: Barring the loss of Roy Halladay, although even if they lost him, believe it or not, I think the other guys could pick up the slack.

As good as Hamels, Oswalt and Lee are, I don't think there isn't a pitcher in the Phillies organization that can pick up the slack that an injured Roy Halladay would leave. The other pitchers would still pitch well, but Joe Blanton as the fourth starter doesn't look quite as good as having him as the fifth starter. So this is a fairly dumb comment. The other Phillies pitchers would do a good job of trying to pick up the slack (Hamels has probably been better than Halladay this year), but I am not sure it could be completely picked up.

They don't have a lot of stars offensively.

No. They don't have stars that are producing at the level they are used to performing at. The Phillies do have stars on offense, unless three guys with MVP's in the infield isn't enough star power for you. That doesn't include Shane Victorino, Placido Polanco and Carlos Ruiz...all three guys have been/are really good hitters. Are these guys hitting as well as they have or will in the future? Probably not, but the Phillies do have offensive stars. These guys are still stars even though they aren't hitting well.

By that, I mean, they have some guys with good numbers, like Polanco and Howard. But after that, everyone else is underachieving offensively, pretty much.

He meant guys with good numbers, but he just made a broad declaration of saying the offense didn't have "stars," which really isn't very clear. Everyone else is underachieving except for Shane Victorino who is not having a bad year. Jimmy Rollins...well he's hitting about like he has for the past couple of years, though he is stealing bases very well this year.

They're good enough to have a 4-game lead. That's what matters.

That's all that matters, there's no perspective on the other team's performance in the NL East needed. The Phillies are playing well enough to have a four game lead, just like a pitcher who wins a 9-8 game pitches well enough to win, while a guy who loses a 2-0 game didn't pitch well enough to win.

Clay Defayette (New York)


Do you frown upon the modern day third basemen who is big, hits for power and isn't as good defensively as someone like you back in your time?

Mike Schmidt won a bunch of Gold Gloves so that must mean he was a great defensive third-baseman, right? Yes and no.

Schmidt was in the Top 4 in errors committed at third base 11 seasons in his career, though he never lead the league in errors for a third baseman. That doesn't sound very good. Of course this could be because he got to more balls than most other third baseman as well. He was in the Top 5 in Range Factor for a third baseman 15 seasons in his career. So he was a good fielder, but did commit quite a few errors.

Of course I wouldn't expect Mike Schmidt, or nearly any older player like him, to understand or care to use Range Factor in order to evaluate his performance at a position. So I will assume Schmidt thought he was a great fielder because he won a bunch of Gold Gloves.

What's interesting is based on his error amounts, since that seems to be what the voters have been infatuated with at times, I wouldn't have thought he would have won the Gold Gloves (though they were probably given for many of the same reasons they are given today...because a player is also a good hitter), but using advanced metrics he did deserve them...but I am pretty sure the advanced metrics weren't used to show, despite the fact Schmidt had many errors, he had great fielding range. I thought that was a bit of an interesting thought without advanced metrics it seems Schmidt wasn't the best defensive third baseman.

MS: I think the defensive side of the 3B in today's game is very strong. I Think there are 8-10 really strong players at defense at 3B.

Kudos to Mike Schmidt for not criticizing the third basemen in today's game. At least he isn't completely saying, "we did things one way back when I played and today's players don't even come close to the level we achieved."

Mike (Ohio)


Did you have a "Welcome to the big leagues, kid" moment?

MS: Yes, I did. I had two hits in a row against Gibson and he drilled me in the arm with a fastball. everyone in the dugout said, "welcome to the big leagues."

In today's game of baseball this would lead to Bob Gibson getting a warning or being thrown out of the game if the pitch looked intentional. I guess back in Mike Schmidt's day they thought of creative ways to slide around the catcher, but couldn't think of a creative way of paying back a batter for getting a couple of hits off him.

Unless you were Juan Marichal of course. He thought of a creative way to pay back John Roseboro for almost hitting his ear with a baseball.

Gene Mullett (Columbus, OH)


Hey fellow Bobcat! Do you remember what you were thinking the day Pete Rose joined the Phillies?

Really, Gene Mullett is this guy's name? That sounds like the name of a character from a Will Farrell movie.

MS: Yeah. I was a happy guy. The Pete Rose free agent caravan was traveling around the country, seeing all of the wealthy owners.

I wonder why Peter Rose really visited all of these teams when he was a free agent? Was it for free agency? Or another reason...

(Pete Rose talking to George Steinbrenner) "I'm looking to take a gamble and see if I can take my bets somewhere else, if you know what I mean."

(George Steinbrenner) "It's no gamble playing in New York. It's the best thing in the world."

(Pete Rose) "When I come to your team, all bets are off, I will put all my cards on the table. The Yankees aren't a team you, nor I, would want to bet against. It's too much of a gamble and I wouldn't (winks) wager against us, if you know what I mean."

(George Steinbrenner lights a cigar) "No, I don't know what you mean. Speak fucking English and I will try to speak English back (quickly fires the secretary) you filthy hippie looking hobbit."

(Pete Rose) "That was a roll of the dice firing the secretary. Let's get down to brass tacks. Would you wager the team has a better or worse chance of winning this year with her not taking up space on the staff? (breaks out his notebook) What are the odds of the Yankees winning 90+ games this year, supposing someone was betting on the over/under? Not that I would do that of course."

(George Steinbrenner) "We'll win 170 games this year (Steinbrenner's aide whispers in his ear) I don't give a shit if we only play 162 games, this is New York. Fuck you (puts his cigar out on the aide's chest and makes plans to have the aide's family murdered)."

(Pete Rose) "I have visited with all of the other major league teams, and quite frankly I have done some research on the win projections the General Managers have given to me (pulls out a huge notebook that contains all of the important gambling information on each team's projected World Series odd and projected win totals). Is there any information I would need to know, if I didn't know this information as a non-member of the team, that would allow me to better decide if I want to wager my mone---future on the Yankees this year? Just something no other gambl---player would have access to?"

(George Steinbrenner) "Well, I think we are going to have a great year. Willie Randolph has been injured (Pete Rose starts writing furiously), which no one knows about. We also aren't confident about some of the other positions we have, so we need to shore them up. That's part of the reason we'd like to sign you. You can play multiple positions."

(Pete Rose) "I have visited every team in the majors and know the chances of each team winning the World Series are this year. What would you put the odds of the Yankees winning the World Series this year? If you had to bet, which you don't of course, let's leave that to the professionals...(whispers under his breath) like me."

(George Steinbrenner) "Are you visiting each major league team under the guise of determining if you want to sign a free agent contract with them so you can gamble on baseball?"

(Pete Rose starts stammering) "Hell no, I'm not---doing that stuff---gambling, whatever---I don't need to gamble to make money (runs out of the office in a full sprint)."

They all offered him a lot of money, but he came to Philly to play with some of us guys.

I'm guessing Pete Rose is one of those guys Mike Schmidt states used creative slides around the catcher. At least depending on who he had bet on for that game.

See what the lack of a JoeChat has done to me? I pick on a Hall of Fame player and mock another player for gambling. Come back Joe.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

8 comments MMQB Review: Peter Is Going On Vacation, But It Will Be a Huge Headache Edition

I have ignored Peter King's MMQB column for the past couple of weeks, or however long it has been since he accused Hertz of price gouging by charging him a lot of money per gallon to refill his rental car. It's not Peter's fault he was too lazy to refill the car with gas. How is that his fault? He is Peter King and shouldn't have to do such lower class things like that. It is bad enough he has to occasionally ride public transportation with common folk, but now you want him to pump his own gas? This week Peter has no news on the lockout, talks a little bit about Tiki Barber and how he can redeem himself (Tiki, not Peter...there is no redeeming Peter), and discusses free agency, which is relevant considering there is no free agency at this point. Remember the Peter King that was chastising other writers for discussing where quarterbacks like Kevin Kolb may end up being traded because it is pure speculation? That guy is gone now for the sake of filling up space.

Feels like the calm before the storm a bit, doesn't it?

No, it doesn't. It feels like the lockout is still going on and there is very little to report. Man, I wish I had the guts to quit watching the NFL after the lockout ends. It is two groups of idiots who are so stupid they are willing to hurt a billion dollar industry and alienate NFL fans with their posturing. Then, when the two groups come to an agreement, they will expect NFL fans and the public to be proud of them because they managed to not screw up the NFL. Congratulations guys, you didn't blow it all to Hell. You receive no credit for managing to not fail.

With the 32 NFL owners meeting Tuesday in Chicago, we should know soon how close a labor deal really is, and whether Roger Goodell and the owners' negotiating team will have any real problems selling a new labor agreement to the owners.

That's the big news right now.

I wonder if Peter King gets feedback from fans, or I am just in the minority, but I don't consider this big news. I consider any news on the lockout negotiations as preliminary. It is only mid-June, the owners and players are going to stretch this out for a few more weeks. Give me news when there is news, otherwise I am not sure I want to hear about the lockout.

I write about Los Angeles being on the verge of being in the Super Bowl rotation, the leaders in the clubhouse for Nnamdi Asomugha, an NFL teacher of the year totally out of left field (fitting, because he teaches at Ted Williams' old high school), thuggery in Vancouver, the death of Bruce Springsteen's alter ego

Bruce Springsteen's alter ego, Fred the 62 year old dock worker with a jutted out lower jaw and the constant look of constipation, died of sadness when he heard the news of Clarence Clemons passing away.

The meeting in Chicago is not going to be particularly momentous. What it will do, as Yahoo!'s Jason Cole suggested Sunday in his excellent analysis of the labor scene, is flush out the real feelings of the owners.

The owners' mood rings say they are kind of sad, but their unstoppable greed is managing to get them through it alright on the path to happiness.

Just to clarify: Tuesday's meeting (a two-per-club affair, with an owner and executive from each of the 32 teams) will not feature an agreement to be voted on, but rather a good idea of where the major points may end up when and if the league and the players reach an agreement in the coming weeks. This will give all 32 teams the chance to give their thoughts on a variety of issues, from the shortening of the offseason programs by five weeks to exactly where the cap will end up.

So the big news is that there isn't any big news right now and owners aren't taking a vote on an agreement, but the owners will talk about what they feel about each of the issues on the table? So once the owners all voice their point of view on the issues, at that point the owners will decide how they feel on the issues and then start to negotiate with the union? So how the hell were there negotiations earlier this offseason when each team had not voiced their opinion on what they thought about the issues? This is why I can't talk about the lockout, it frustrates me.

That's not to say it's going to get done, period. But the longer the talks go -- the two sides have met for six days this month, there's a good vibe around the talks, and they're expected to continue later this week after the owners meet -- the better shot at a deal.

And I will be so proud of them if both sides manage to come to a deal. How smart of the player's union to make sure the players still have job to continue their somewhat lavish lifestyle and the owners are just brilliant for figuring out a way to continue making a shitload of money on NFL games played in their stadiums.

But Goodell will tell them it has to happen for there to be a deal. I think whatever the nuts and bolts of this CBA become, he has been working with these owners on the tenets of this deal for three years, and he may have some opposition ... but I can't see nine teams' worth of it. For nine owners to rise up and say, Whoa, I'm not buying into this, is unlikely.

I've accused Peter of being too pro-owner and I will continue to do this for the time being. Peter King has a vested interest in the owners and player's union getting along. He gets paid to cover the NFL, so in a way his employment and ability to make his job easier (imagine his MMQB in mid-October with no NFL games) depends on the NFL playing games this year. This owner's are the ones who opted out of the CBA and they are the ones who are perceived to pushing a hard bargain. So if Peter makes it seem, and helps us see it this way, the owners are actually an amenable group that can come to an agreement with the players it helps the owner's public perception. I'm not saying Peter is doing this intentionally, but the same group which won't fail to have nine teams agree to the parameters of a deal are also the same group that had not even voiced their opinion on the topics at hand quite yet...so really we don't know where they stand.

"I think the reports of teams unhappy with how far Roger's gone in these negotiations are overblown,'' said one club official who will be in the room Tuesday. "No question, some people won't like many things in it. The small-market teams, in particular. But will there be nine teams up in arms enough to wreck it? I'd be really surprised.''

Now if we could just get the player's union to agree this deal could be done. The owners can come to an agreement and are one mostly unified body.

See how this sort of paints the owners in a more positive light? I don't care, but after Peter's fawning interview of Goodell in Sports Illustrated and the fact he has a close relationship with Goodell, I have become somewhat suspicious of his motives. Again, it may not be intentional. Either way, I don't expect a deal until the season is really in jeopardy of being lost.

My educated guess, and maybe a little more than that, is Pittsburgh will be Tiki Barber's landing spot this summer when he tries to return to football after four seasons away.

Who really cares where Tiki Barber ends up? (searches for hands in the air and there are none)

The Steelers have a core of veteran stars; Tiki Barber would fit right in. The Steelers have a good back, Rashard Mendenhall, but no back-of-the-future type who Barber would be robbing playing time from.

Other than a 24 year old running back coming off back-to-back 1,100 yard rushing seasons there isn't any running back on the Steelers roster who Barber would be stealing carries from.

I'm also told that wherever he goes, Barber won't be content to be a mopup guy or insurance policy; he wants to play a lot.

That sounds about right knowing Tiki Barber's personality. Selfish and delusional about his own abilities. So it probably does make sense for a 36 year old running back to join the Steelers and play a lot. It's not like Rashard Mendenhall was productive for the Steelers last year.

One of my favorite things is now that Pro Football Talk has joined up with NBC Sports they do the "ESPN-style" of creating a news story and then reporting on their own news story. For instance, on Monday there was a post up on PFT about how Peter King thinks Barber will probably join the Steelers. So an NBC-affiliated reporter reports a story and then an NBC-affiliated rumors site gives it credence by citing the report. ESPN is impressed with how well this was done. This happens every Monday on PFT. They report part of what Peter King has already reported in MMQB. I think I am going to start a news blog and then report on what is said over there on this blog.

"When I hear, 'L.A. people don't care about the NFL,' I think it's ridiculous,'' Michaels said. "When I moved here in 1958, I saw two Rams games at the Coliseum that drew 100,000 [each]. This is an event town. There's something about being at a Lakers game that's almost like a badge of honor.

53 years ago two Rams games drew 100,000 people each! Nothing much politically, financially or socially could have changed in a 53 year time span that would cause this to not happen again.

There's more momentum for a team in Los Angeles than at any time since the league left after the 1994 season. If the city council approves a Memorandum of Understanding with prospective owner AEG by July 31, and if a 30,000-page Environmental Impact Report passes muster with the politicos, there's still one small problem -- a team relocating in time to play when a stadium downtown would open in 2016.

(cough cough) Jacksonville.

I make the case lower in this column that the Houston Texans have to go after free-agent cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha when the shopping season opens. And I think the Lions should make a hard run at him too. But I don't get the sense either team will.

Do you know which team should probably make a run at Asomugha? The Raiders. I guess they aren't planning on doing that though.

My three favorites whenever teams can hit the market:

1. Philadelphia. Rumors (and they seem to be more than that) are flying that the Eagles are going to strike quickly and spend big money in free agency. Imagine pairing Asomugha with very good cover man Asante Samuel. It'd be money well-spent, even at a Bradyish $18 million a year.

I'm sorry, maybe I am a traditionalist, but I doubt a cornerback is worth $18 million per year. Even suggesting so at this point is a bit presumptuous since no one even knows what the salary cap will be for the coming year. $18 million for a cornerback? Why don't the Eagles just make a run at Peyton Manning and spend a few more million dollars per year? (That was a joke)

2. Dallas. Go back in history.

I can't. I forgot to bring my time machine today. Sorry.

3. Baltimore. Everything says no -- the Ravens need to sign Haloti Ngata long-term, and how many megabuck defensive players can you have in a cap era?

Four. The answer is four.

But Ozzie Newsome knows the only thing his defense lacks is a shutdown corner.

So why not pay out the ass for one and not find out if Jimmy Smith, you know that cornerback the Ravens drafted in the first round this year, will work as a shutdown corner? That makes sense to do obviously.

And I could see Seattle kicking the tires. The Seahawks don't have a $10-million-a-year player, and Paul Allen's got the dough. We'll see, but my guess is Asomugha ends up in the NFC East.

There's a shock, Peter thinks a player will end up in the NFC East. Actually, it probably is a bit of a shock since it seems like anytime there is an eligible free agent Peter tends to link that player to the Patriots at some point.

I also like the idea the Seahawks don't have a $10-million-per-year player and that's why they could chase Asomugha. Apparently having a player that is paid $10 million per year means you are a successful organization?

By the way, I had every intention in this space of running down the top 20 free agents, but I looked at the list and it felt a little fruitless. We don't know what the rules are, and whether four- and five-year unsigned vets will be free. So I'll wait until we have more information.

Why waste the space listing the Top 20 free agents, which is an opinion, when you can spend time speculating on where one free agent will go and try to base it on facts when there aren't really too many facts available?

"We're the Ellis Island of education,'' said assistant principal Andreas Trakas. "We've got 2,200 kids here, and 35 different languages being spoken. At the same time, we've had about a third of our teachers cut in this state in recent years, most of them the young, passionate teachers we cannot afford to lose.

These cuts of young, passionate teachers is definitely the fault of the state funding the school and not the fault of the old, non-passionate teachers who have tenure and use their sway among their friends in the teacher's union to make sure their job is the one that stays around. Or maybe not. The teacher's union in a state would NEVER allow a state to get rid of young, passionate teachers simply because they haven't been in the system long enough to make the right friends. It is not like they probably make less money than older teachers or anything.

Typical student for Grossman: a girl who's always tired in school because her mother's a prostitute and makes the girl stay home at night to take care of the family while she works the streets. True story. "We don't find candy wrappers on campus,'' he said over the weekend. "We find condom wrappers.''

At least the kids are using condoms. That's a positive.

I remember going to high school and I really don't remember finding a bunch of candy wrappers on campus. Perhaps I should visit more high schools and find out about this candy wrapper polluting epidemic.

• Surprised at me having Kyle Williams 27 while the players, apparently, don't have him in the top 100? Watch some video of him.

Will do Peter! (Bengoodfella goes searching for the video library at my house where he keeps tape on each NFL player in order to evaluate their performance. He stops after five minutes, realizing he has no way of watching video on Kyle Williams and Peter King is stupid for suggesting his readers do have a way)

Always moving forward. A machine.

Well, that's not fair since the rest of the players are humans. There needs to something put in the new CBA to prevent machines from playing in the NFL.

We all saw the ridiculous display in Vancouver on Wednesday night after the hometown Canucks lost Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals. A scarier view into the future I haven't seen in some time. The callousness of hundreds of people (it wasn't 10 or 20 or 60; we're talking hundreds of people taking the law into their hands and ransacking portions of a city) cannot be dismissed by saying, "Oh, it's just a bunch of drunks who got carried away after a game.''

What possesses people to BURN police cars? To slash firehoses so fires can't be put out? To pose, smiling and laughing, in front of burning cars and smashed plate-glass windows? That's what I found the most stunning Wednesday night. Video of the so-called normal people, 25ish fans, men/women, running to pose in front of a burning BMW, putting up thumbs-up signs, or victory signs, and smiling. Normal people think it's cool. Average people, maybe out on a date night or whatever they were doing out on the street, probably with normal jobs and lives, running to pose in front of a burning car ... What were they thinking? "Let me have a cool memory of the riots of 2011!''

I know Peter! I completely agree. Boston fans would never do something like riot. If only the Vancouver fans could have been as classy as Celtics fans were when they won the NBA championship in 2008.

This video was shot outside a library where a hundred people were debating what the championship meant for the city of Boston.

This video probably shows some well meaning Celtics fans trying to get in a building that is supposed to be open and is locked. So they had to try to throw things at the window in order to open the building.

But those Wednesday night scenes left me as scared about our future as anything I've seen in a long time.

They were terrible riots, but let's not act like this type thing hasn't happened before. Specifically in the very city where Peter lives.

"I can still throw the ball as well as I ever have. No question about that. But I don't want to put my body through that anymore. I've been beat up enough.''
-- Brett Favre, 41, at a football camp in Hattiesburg, Miss.

OK. Don't anyone start the rumors. Just don't.

We won't start rumors. How about you don't print Brett Favre's quotes? Nothing starts rumors faster then printing the quotes of an ex-quarterback desperate to be back in the spotlight. So don't give it space...but Peter just can't do that. Brett Favre is his drug.

The five reasons Bob McNair and the Houston Texans must go after Nnamdi Asomugha, and must go after him hard, whenever free agency opens:

1. Houston allowed a league-high 4,499 yards passing last year.

They could also improve this number by improving their pass rush. It is a crazy thought, I know.

3. Glover Quin and Kareem Jackson, the nominal starting corners, have five interceptions in 44 career games between them.

I won't say these two guys played well, but Jackson was a rookie last year. Rookie corners tend to get tested quite frequently, so his rookie year statistics may not be completely reliable when concerning his future performance.

5. Bob McNair paid $700 million for the Texans and chipped in much of the $425 million it cost to build Reliant Stadium for the team to play in. The one thing standing in the way of being truly competitive at a high NFL level is a significant upgrade on defense.

And Asomugha is that one upgrade which will put the Texans in the playoffs and make them a high-level NFL contender?

Since the dawn of free agency, only one player, Reggie White, has been a better prize on the free-agent market than Asomugha.

We hear this every year. Two years ago it was Albert Haynesworth that was the big prize, last year it was Julius Peppers, and three years before that it was someone else. Every year we hear there is a player on the free agent market that is a team-changer. In 2008, one site even suggested Asante Samuel was an elite free agent. It all depends on your point of view, but excuse me if I am not thinking Asomugha is the best free agent since Reggie White.

You cannot tell me that he wouldn't be worth $18 million a year to employ. I will not buy it.

You can not sell your own opinion as fact to support your contention. I will not buy it. Asomugha is a great shutdown cornerback, but $18 million is still a lot of money for him.

Five Things I'm Not Looking Forward to on Vacation (Travel Section):

Commence whining...

1. The middle seat in coach. It's going to happen sometime. But if I never have to sit in the middle seat in coach again, I'd be overjoyed.

Is Peter's life so terrible that he has to actually complain about going on vacation? I will repeat this...he complains about going on vacation. Less lofty people would just be happy to be on vacation for a month.

3. The $73 tank of gas.

Coming from a guy who most likely makes high six figures per year, this is just incomprehensible. I'm sorry gas is so expensive on your month-long vacation. Why must oil companies torture only you this way. Peter doesn't sound spoiled at all by complaining about gas prices everyone has to pay.

5. Having pangs of conscience when the labor deal gets worked out and I'm into my fourth Harpoon summer beer (in the flashy yellow can), and saying, "Should I really go and bat out a reaction column right now?''

If it makes Peter feel any better, we don't give a shit about his reaction so he forgo writing the column about the end of the lockout, when and if it happens. So he can keep sucking the Harpoon summer beer down. Doesn't Harpoon beer run about $16-$17 for a 12 pack? Let's talk about that $73 tank of gas complaining again as compared to spending $16-$17 for 12 bottles of beer.

Five Things I'm Looking Forward to Doing:

1. Whining about something to my readers when I get back.

2. General whining.

3. Complaining about something.

4. Criticizing everyone for what they wear or do while traveling.

5. Catch up with Brett Favre, then report on what Favre said and then tell everyone to stop talking about Favre because he isn't coming back.

2. Doing more of nothing, except walking and seeing a different world, in Trieste, Italy.

I just hope there aren't people who ruin this trip for Peter by reading an day-old newspaper on a train or being too loud while walking down the street.

1. I think Chad Pennington will be a natural doing games for FOX this fall. His announcement to the Charleston (W.Va.) Daily Mail surprised me, but it makes sense that he'll take the season off because of shoulder and knee rehab and not wanting to rush back. The big question is: Will Pennington be able to talk critically -- if he needs to -- of a team that he may hope to play for in 2012?

These are the true dilemmas in life. Chad Pennington is set for life, but what if he wants to say something bad about a future team or teammate? Then he may have to stay retired and still be set for life, while still having a job he doesn't need talking about the sport he loves. Tough times in the Pennington household.

4. I think I continue to be mind-boggled at the fact that there will be such a lack of interest (unless a lot of people I speak with about it are lying) in the unemployed, inexpensive and supremely motivated Plaxico Burress when free agency opens. Just stupid. In the right offense he'll be the big target many teams lack, and, if healthy, he'll catch 60-plus balls and be a good deep threat. At worst? He's not going to cost much. What's the downside? Rams, Browns? Tell me. I'm dying to know.

I know I can't think of the downside of signing a 34 year old convicted felon who hasn't played competitive football in two years.

In all seriousness, the Browns should maybe look at Burress, but the Rams have a bunch of young receivers and I think their priority is getting those guys playing time.

7. I think, lest you think Rex Ryan is an altogether one-sided sports person, I'll take you into a little view of Ryan's sports brain. I ran into him the other day outside of Boston, and the talk turned to how hot the Red Sox were, and Ryan, who is not a Red Sox fan, said to me, "Yeah, but they gotta get Crawford going.'' I suppose someone who tangentially followed baseball would know Carl Crawford is off to a so-so start in his Boston career, but I was impressed that Ryan knew what a relatively weak link he'd been.

All you have to do in order to impress Peter King is know a lot of stuff about his favorite teams. Of course, I am sure in Boston there is absolutely no talk on sports radio about Crawford's play this year, so I am sure there is no way Rex Ryan could have heard it from there. Or he may know baseball pretty well. I think I may stick with the radio assumption.

e. Good-bye and good luck at NFL.com, Dom Bonvissuto. You have been one hell of an editor, and you will do great at whatever you do, wherever you do it. Watch out for LA. It's a great big freeway.

I think Peter King has just come up with what should be the city motto of Los Angeles.

Los Angeles: It's a Great Big Freeway.

f. Re the Stanley Cup: Just like in the NBA, the better team won.

This statement, though true, is made completely impartially by Boston native Peter King. Isn't Peter a New Jersey Devils fan? Sounds like he may have some sports bigamy in his future.

i. I see saboteurs opened up fake Twitter accounts to try to lure Anthony Weiner into relationships. Another great day for America.

Because the problem stems from all the people trying to lure Weiner into a relationship on Twitter not the fact Weiner sent lurid pictures out to a pornstar. I get it. Given the fact Peter is a Democrat (as seen by pretty much any political view he espouses), I am 100% sure his point of view isn't affected by the fact Weiner is also a Democrat.

n. I don't know LeBron James. Have never met him. And I don't cover the NBA, so I'm not positive what Gary Washburn wrote the other day in the Boston Globe is right or wrong. But it sure sounded very smart.

"I know nothing about this topic. I have no idea if what I am reading about the topic is correct. It sure sounded really good though."

Thanks for chiming in on the NBA, Peter.

o. Happy next month, people. See you right back in this space on July 25 ... and possibly before that somewhere in the SI empire, if the labor negotiators come to their senses and my conscience gets the best of me.

Why does Peter keep talking about his conscience when discussing writing a column about the end of the lockout? Writing about the end of the lockout isn't a moral issue or if he doesn't write about it Peter hasn't had some moral failing. Does he really believe there are that many people who want his opinion on the end of the lockout?

p. There will still be MMQB. In my absence, I'll have guest columnists. Stay tuned for their identities and good reads on the next four Mondays.

This is my guess at who the four guest columnists will be:

Brett Favre (he probably misses the spotlight)
Jim Harbaugh
Matt Ryan
Donald Driver

I'll be proud if I get one of those correct.