Thursday, August 30, 2012

12 comments Bill Simmons Waits Until He Has Something to Whine About Before Writing His First Red Sox Column of This Season Part 1

Bill Simmons doesn't write about the Red Sox anymore. I don't know why. I can guess why. They aren't winning or competing for World Series titles over the past couple of years, so Bill doesn't seem to have as much of a need to write about them. Plus he has this insatiable need to be an NBA GM, so he writes about the NBA in the hopes of landing a GM gig. So far this season we have gotten a mailbag about Fenway Park and he has exchanged emails with a knowledgeable Red Sox fan. That's it though when it comes to the Red Sox. Otherwise, it has been a summer of NBA and Olympics talk. Now that the Red Sox have traded away Adrian Gonzalez and dumped Josh Beckett and Carl Crawford's salary on the Dodgers, Bill finds a way to review the bad direction the Red Sox were taking and tries to elicit sympathy (as usual) from his readers for a large market team that wasted millions of dollars. In typical Bill Simmons fashion he finds everything the Red Sox fans have suffered through to be exclusive to the Red Sox. Bill even uses the championships the professional teams from Massachusetts have won over the last decade of further proof of just how bad Red Sox fans have it. He tries to point out how great and bad Boston-area fans have it. He's insufferable and I feel sorry for Red Sox fans that he is your unofficial spokesman.

I wanted to name our newborn son "Beckett" right after the Red Sox won the 2007 World Series. If not for a reader intervening, my son might be named Beckett Simmons right now. We could start there.

Naming your child after an athlete who has been with your favorite team for less than five years and choosing that child's name simply because it is the last name of said athlete is always a bad idea. In fact, if you as a sports fan choose to name your child after an athlete and only choose that name because it is the athlete's name as well, then you probably deserve to be embarrassed five years later when that athlete becomes a punchline. This person would deserve at the very least to feel like an asshole every time he calls that child's name for the next 30-40 years.

The Red Sox have trotted out eight "superstar" hitters in my lifetime: Carl Yastrzemski, Fred Lynn, Jim Rice, Mo Vaughn, Nomar Garciaparra, David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez and Adrian Gonzalez. The first seven guys played a combined 83 seasons in Boston. Gonzalez lasted 21 months. We could start there.

"We're so cursed because we have only had eight superstar hitters over the last forty years, three of them probably/did use PEDs and one of those players didn't even stay for a full two years. We're so cursed! I need sympathy!"

I can't help but wonder what would happen if Bill cheered for a smaller market team who couldn't afford to keep their talent around. What if he was a Milwaukee Brewers fan? How annoying would he be at that point? Given the massive amount of navel-gazing and "woe is me" crap we get from him concerning the Red Sox, who are one of the most successful MLB teams over the last decade, I am guessing Bill would be whatever is worse than insufferable if he cheered for a small market team. If I were Bill Simmons, I would make a theory of insufferability based on bands who are insufferable. If Bill is at "Coldplay" level of insufferability as a Red Sox fan, he would be at "Maroon Five" level of insufferability if he were a Brewers fan.

My favorite baseball team just traded its best offensive player and a proven playoff starter

You will notice throughout this column how Josh Beckett vacillates between a no-good piece of shit overweight pitcher and a proven playoff starter depending on what Bill Simmons is trying to prove. In this situation, Bill wants sympathy so Beckett is labeled a proven playoff starter who Bill almost named his son after and not the overpaid useless pitcher who helped to destroy the Red Sox team and made Bill glad he didn't name is son after him. I have to give Bill credit, it is hard to gain sympathy for your team trading Beckett, while also bashing your team (in retrospect of course) for even having Beckett on the roster. To achieve this balance, Bill has to bend the truth a little bit.

in a massive salary dump that had no correlation to anything that's ever happened in Red Sox history except for … you know … the time we sold Babe Ruth.

Grow a pair of fucking balls. That happened 100 years ago.

Somehow, Red Sox fans are delighted about the trade. We could start there.

Yes, "somehow" Red Sox fans are delighted about the trade. Somehow Bill says Red Sox fans are happy and then spends the rest of this column describing how this trade is a good thing for the long-term prospects of the Red Sox. Yet again, he wants your sympathy for the Red Sox essentially giving up on the season, while glossing over the fact this is a great deal for the Red Sox.

The current Red Sox owners brought us our first championship since 1918 and a second title three years later. Since last October, they've replaced the most successful Red Sox manager in 90 years with the least-liked Red Sox manager of my lifetime not named "Grady Little." They've allowed the franchise's most successful general manager ever to break his contract without getting anything decent for him. They've assembled one of the league's three most expensive rosters, failed miserably, then lucked out when the Dodgers miraculously handed them a RESET button.

"Oh pity me! My team has won two World Series titles in the past ten years and the owners haven't made it three titles in the past ten years or maybe even eleven titles in the past ten years. The owners spent a shit-ton of money on players to make the fans happy and it didn't work out. How cursed are we? Our owners actively attempt to make the Red Sox team better than it was the year before, even if they are a bit misguided in their efforts, but this is a bad thing. I need sympathy!"

Quit whining. Bill gives Red Sox fans such a bad name. Try being a Cubs fan. Try being an Astros fan. Try being a Pirates fan. The last time the Pirates made the playoffs Barry Bonds was skinny before he got fat before he got skinny again. Every baseball fan hates his team at a certain point. My favorite team is run by a soulless corporation. They don't give a shit about what the team's record was last year or if there is a missing piece that would put the team over the top in the NL East. If it doesn't fit the budget, it doesn't fit the team. At least the Red Sox owners are trying to put a team on the field to win games and ignoring how they could make mistakes along the way. Every losing season isn't a disaster of epic proportions.

And now, headed for the worst Red Sox season in 20 solid years but blessed with financial flexibility again, these owners expect fans to (a) pretend the past two years never happened, and (b) trust their big-picture judgment again. We could start there.

The Red Sox owners have won two World Series in the last decade. We could start there. We could start at the part where Bill wrote an entire book saying he can die in peace and now only five years after the last World Series victory Bill doesn't trust the Red Sox owners anymore. We could start there.

After all, you are in a relationship with your favorite teams, right? We purchase tickets and merchandise; they purchase the players. We agree to remain loyal; they agree not to defecate on that loyalty.

This is where Bill is wrong. Not every team agrees not to defecate on that loyalty by actively putting together a great roster. Some teams try harder than others to put a good team together. The Marlins basically put together a roster for half a season in order to sell tickets to the new stadium, saw it wasn't working out immediately and then said "fuck it" and began yet another sale of players. The Astros aren't even trying at this point. The Padres are stuck with a small budget and basically are telling fans that this is as good as it is going to get for right now. The Nationals were going to suck for a few more years (you can't convince me this isn't true. They even resorted to the whole "we paid a lot of money for a player in free agency" tactic) until managed to stumble on the best pitcher and second-best hitter to come out of the draft in the past five years. Smart teams combine spending money with great player development. The Red Sox didn't want to be the Yankees so badly they have spent the past five years turning into the Yankees.

And it goes from there. The best-case scenario for any season? Winning the title. The worst-case scenario? Hate-watching your team while rooting for things to bottom out in a comically dreadful way just so you can remain entertained.

What Bill unsurprisingly fails to see is the best case scenario isn't even in play for some teams. He's fortunate in that this isn't true for the Red Sox because ownership will spend money on player development and free agents. Bill sees an even playing field where every year there is a best case and a worst case scenario that he just described. For certain teams this is possible, but for teams like the Blue Jays, Pirates, Orioles (and yes, I am including this year), Padres, Diamondbacks, Brewers, and a few other teams a solid run at the World Series is the best they can hope for. They aren't able to go into each season knowing their team will have a shot at making a run to the World Series.

By the way, I picked the Diamondbacks in the World Series this year. Do you know why? I'm a fucking idiot. For every year I put the Packers in the Super Bowl, I do something stupid like pick the Diamondbacks to make the World Series.

And look, I get it — listening to Boston fans bitch about sports is like listening to John Mayer bitch about his love life.

But Bill doesn't get it because he is writing this column. This is the whole "I won't be the person to complain" type of writing, which is normally followed by some complaining. So no, Bill doesn't get it. He defaults to what he knows best when discussing the Red Sox, which is whining.

We won seven titles in 10 years. Over that same time, we endured five of the most brutal playoff defeats in Boston sports history (the Aaron Boone Game, Super Bowl XLII, Super Bowl XLVI, the 2006 AFC championship game and Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals),

And now begins the whining. What entitled sports fan Bill fails to see is that these are five separate playoff appearances where the Boston sports fans endured brutal defeats. So Boston teams won seven titles in 10 years and had five other brutal losses in the playoffs. While Bill feels sympathy for himself and can't get past his entitled only-child syndrome to realize this is stupid, everyone else is wondering how they can get their favorite teams to make the playoffs on a consistent enough basis to suffer five brutal playoff defeats. Nobody wants to lose a tough playoff game, but it shows how successful Boston-area teams have been...yet Bill continuously whines and whines about how bad he has it as a fan of these teams.

Bill is just being a drama queen. Any loss in the Super Bowl or a Game 7 is brutal, so it isn't like Boston-area teams have a monopoly of tough losses over the last ten years. The enormous amount of entitlement shocks me. Well, it shouldn't shock me, Bill has written this way for years. Bill is using the fact his favorite teams were so successful over the last ten years as a negative and trying to act like Boston-area teams have suffered more difficult defeats over the last ten years (which again, any Super Bowl or Game 7 loss is tough), which really only speaks to the success of these Boston teams over the last ten years.

and trust me, Game 7 of the 2008 ALCS and Game 6 of the 2012 Heat-Celtics series weren't exactly a barrel of laughs. I can't imagine any fan base has experienced more extreme highs and lows over a 10-year span.

You are super-special, Bill! Is that what you want to hear? You aren't though. Every fan base has highs and lows over a 10-year span.

Bill should try to be a fan of teams who haven't experienced any extreme highs over the last ten years. How about him becoming a fan of Cleveland-area teams? Their extreme highs consist of getting far enough in the playoffs to experience an extreme low.

Nobody was more overdue for a hatefully expensive, totally unredeeming, insane clusterfuck of a season more than Red Sox fans. We knew it, too. We could handle a lousy season. It happens.

That's thing though. Bill can't handle a losing season. This column is what happens when a losing season occurs. There is a bunch of navel-gazing and gnashing of teeth about the future.

But something deeper was happening here. The Red Sox had morphed into something else.

Bill could handle the Red Sox having a losing season, but that's not what was happening here. What was happening here, was something so big and unexpected that it was deeper than the Red Sox having a losing season. Bill can't just simply let the Red Sox have a bad season. There has to be an underlying reason exclusive to the Red Sox as to why they are having a bad season.

So after stating he could handle a losing season, Bill claims this wasn't a losing season but was something much bigger than a losing season, thereby providing a narrative about how a Red Sox losing season is much bigger than a losing season other teams have. For some reason, Boston Celtics/Red Sox/Bruins and New England Patriots fans haven't hung Bill in effigy yet. He's probably 50% of the reason they get such a bad rap.

Once upon a time, the phrase "Red Sox fan" carried clear responsibilities and implications.

Oh for God's sake, stop writing this crap. It's tripe.

You loved something that, ultimately, was going to break your heart. You pined for a World Series title that was never going to happen.

Except the World Series victory has now happened, so shut the hell up about it. This is Bill's default setting when it comes to writing. He whines. What happened is called "the entrance of bandwagon fans" and every fan base has them. I know this disappoints Bill to no end, but hangers-on started calling themselves Red Sox fans. Success, the same success Bill craved so much and for some reason he doesn't believe the Red Sox ever achieved, changed the makeup of the fan base.

You watched family members pass away without ever seeing the Red Sox win a title. You wondered if it was cruel to saddle your children with this franchise, whether you should "save" them by nudging them in a different direction.

Yes, but that is the past and the present is happening now. Let go of the past and embrace the future. I know it is hard for Bill to do considering how much mileage (and money) he has gotten from constantly harping on the past.

And then everything turned. We won the World Series, shed the curse, buried some demons, moved on with our lives.

Moved on with your lives, huh? You can tell by this column Bill has completely moved on.

Maybe Bill was saying he doesn't pay attention to baseball anymore and has moved on from the sport. That would be more accurate.

Well, here's what happened. We started spending money like the Yankees.

Apparently signing Manny Ramirez to an 8 year $160 million deal in 2000, J.D. Drew $70 million in 2007 and giving Curt Schilling $12 million in 2004 were just under-the-radar signings.

The Red Sox won the World Series in 2007 with five guys who made $10 million or more and the team had the second-highest payroll in the majors at $143 million. The Red Sox had a payroll of $127 million in 2004, which was the second-highest payroll in the majors. Don't give me this crap about how the Red Sox started down a bad path by spending money like the Yankees. The Red Sox just didn't get the results they wanted by spending like the Yankees from 2008 until 2012. No team could match the Yankees when it came to spending, but the Red Sox were the closest team in the majors to spending like the Yankees spent even when they won their two World Series titles. The 2004 Red Sox "little team that could" was well-funded. I'm not taking anything away from them or knocking them. Bill's revisionist history doesn't sit well with me though. Don't give me this crap about how the Red Sox started spending like the Yankees. Compared to other MLB teams in 2004, the Red Sox were the Yankees.

The owners relentlessly pimped the Red Sox brand inside the stadium, on their website, on their 24-hour TV channel, on your street, in your house, on your forehead and everywhere else you could imagine (leading to a general dumbing down of the fan base

Of course Bill Simmons, the most popular columnist on the most popular sports site, relentlessly pimped the Red Sox as well by writing column after column about their run to the World Series title. Bill then pimped an entire book about this experience and I'm pretty sure he made a few bucks off that. Of course the most popular columnist on the most popular sports site could NEVER be responsible for the dumbing down of the fan base could he? I would submit Bill is one of the most high profile Red Sox fans in the United States, or at least in sports journalism. He wrote column after column about the Red Sox and made money off a book he wrote about the Red Sox. He tied everything back in to the Red Sox in his columns. Yeah, it's everyone else's fault for pimping the Red Sox brand though.

only we looked the other way because they kept funneling so much of their profits back into the team.

Which is what Bill will do again in five years. He's look the other way again when the Red Sox start winning again. I love the passing of the blame to the Red Sox owners. Granted, they share a lot of blame, but Bill had quite a time during the mid-2000's peddling Red Sox nostalgia and curse-discussion which led to an increased focus on the Red Sox and their hunt for a World Series title. He got a lot of fame and money from this peddling, but he would never blame himself would he? How could one of the most influential columnists in the United States, who just so happens to be a Red Sox fan, have any influence on that team's fan base?

Nobody really cared until the Red Sox finished the biggest September swoon in baseball history —

Everyone started freaking out at the idea the Red Sox aren't automatically penciled into the playoffs every single year. This realization must have really thrown Bill and his entitled attitude for a loop.

When Theo Epstein fled a few weeks later, for the first time, Red Sox fans started examining these last eight years the same way you look at a massive dinner check. You know when you go out with a bunch of friends, order food and drinks for three hours, never worry about anything, and then there's that moment when the check comes and everyone's passing it around in disbelief? That's for us? Did you think it was going to be that high?

Or as normal writers who have the capability to actually write concise, readable material might say,

"When Theo Epstein fled a few weeks later, for the first time, Red Sox fans started examining these last eight years and realized when expensive players don't produce it creates a bloated payroll and reduces roster flexibility."

The fan bases for other teams despised us just as much. We had the same "If you don't win the title, you've totally failed" conundrum staring at us every spring.

"We are cursed with such unjustifiable high standards for our team because we carry an entitled attitude about our team's inherent superiority. Feel sympathy for us."

Wasn't that the Red Sox? What were we building? What's fun about rooting for a team of staggeringly overpaid players who were collected with little rhyme or reason?

I don't know, it sure sounds like the Red Sox had a lot of fun making the playoffs and knowing they could be in the running for the best free agent hitter or pitcher during every offseason. I don't recall Bill complaining the Red Sox shouldn't sign John Lackey or predicting that Josh Beckett wasn't worth re-signing over 4 years at $68 million for 2011-2014. So obviously there was a lot of fun had by all. Bill is throwing this whole "It wasn't very much fun to cheer for these guys" bullshit when he seemed perfectly happy playing the game at the time.

Throw in the team's general unlikability (especially Beckett, who regarded the fans and media with real contempt) and for the first time I can remember, Red Sox fans were hate-watching games much like you'd hate-watch Teen Mom or something.

We haven't had many forced pop culture references. I'm glad Bill made up for this by throwing a "Teen Mom" reference in.

Well, who wants to spend three-plus hours a day hate-watching something? If you wanted to enjoy a Red Sox game in 2012, you had to get stoned, break out the 2004 and 2007 DVDs, put in one of the most exciting games and pretend it was happening in real time.

Or you could just deal with the fact nearly every team can have a bad season.

But here was the worst part … there was no way out!!!! Adrian Gonzalez had six years and $127 million remaining on his deal. Carl Crawford had five years and $102.5 million remaining. John Lackey had three years, $45.75 million.

And yet again, when the Red Sox traded for Adrian Gonzalez and gave him a large new contract where was Bill Simmons at complaining about this? Bill was popping champagne corks and celebrating one of the best hitters in baseball was joining his favorite baseball team. There's a line from "The Sopranos" that reminds me of Bill Simmons. It is spoken by Tony Soprano's wife (Carmela) and it is said when Tony wants Carmela to sympathize with Tony's mistress who tried to kill herself after Tony broke up with her. Carmela says,

"You are putting me in a position where I am feeling sorry for a whore who fucks you?"

That's how I feel in this situation. Bill is putting his readers in a position where we are supposed to feel sorry for a large market team that has spent recklessly and didn't get a return on their investment? I can't do it and I don't see how his readers can. Well, I can see how his SimmonsClones readers can. They worship the very ground Bill Simmons hovers above.

(On a side note, I did an Internet search for "Carmela whore who fucks you" while at work like a moron. If you see my resume posted on this blog in a couple of days, you will know why.)

According to this list, four teams spent between $150 million and $200 million (Yankees, Phillies, Red Sox, Angels), five teams spent between $100 million and $149 million (Tigers, Rangers, Marlins, Giants, Cardinals), then 14 teams spent between $75 million and $99 million. That means the Red Sox, having totally squandered their spending advantage thanks to those four deals, needed to outmaneuver everyone else in 2013 and 2014 just to regain any semblance of a competitive advantage again.

Oh my God, if the Red Sox are unable to ever have a competitive advantage again then how will Bill continue to go on with life? He can't simply cheer for the Red Sox. He has to cheer for them fully knowing they have a competitive advantage over the other major league teams. It's not fun to cheer for a mid-market team. It's only fun to cheer for a baseball team who has a competitive advantage over nearly every other baseball team.

But the owners who OK'd the Lackey/Crawford/Beckett contracts, turned Francona into Valentine, didn't get anything for Theo, turned Josh Reddick and Jed Lowrie into Andrew Bailey and Mark Melancon, thought Daniel Bard could be converted into a starter, and paid another AL contender to take Kevin Youkilis when he wasn't really washed up yet?

How sad for you that your team doesn't have the best owners in baseball. Not only have the Red Sox lost their competitive financial advantage over other major league teams, but the air of superiority is rapidly being taken out of the fan base. At some point, the Red Sox are going to have to win more games or Bill may have to face the fact the Red Sox aren't entitled to be the one of the best teams in the majors every single year...and we just can't have that. Everything Bill says and does is the best. If the Red Sox stop winning over a few year span Bill would have to pronounce himself a "baseball widow" until the Red Sox get better owners who care enough to put a winning team on the field. This isn't Bill being a fair-weather fan at all. He will only exclusively be the fan of a winning team, that's all.

Maybe we hadn't veered into James Dolan territory or anything,

I would give it another ten years before the Red Sox are even close to this. The audacity of Bill even writing this sentence amazes me. The Red Sox would need a full decade of futility before they could come close to Dolan territory.

but in professional sports, you can't overcome poor management no matter how much money you have. The 2012 Red Sox were poorly managed. And have been for the past couple of years. It finally caught up to them.

In pretty much anything you can't overcome poor management. This isn't exclusive to professional sports. Of course Bill wasn't saying the Red Sox were poorly managed when they re-signed Josh Beckett, signed Carl Crawford and John Lackey and traded for Adrian Gonzalez, but that's the whole fun part about the revisionist history of it all. Looking back, Bill knows how everything should have been done differently, but he sure didn't say it at the time. Feel sympathy for him. He desperately wants it.

Part 2 in a day or so...

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

3 comments MMQB Review: Nobody Puts Peter in a Dimly Lit Room Edition

Peter King detailed in last week's MMQB how the Rams are making it easier for Janoris Jenkins to adjust to life in the NFL by helping him take care of his personal life. We also re-learned that Peter isn't going to overreact about what happens in the preseason, but (as Peter stated in his Tuesday mailbag) he thinks Andrew Luck will be a Top-3 quarterback in a few years. It's quite possible this could happen, but that's a lot of praise for a guy who hasn't taken an NFL snap yet. This week, Peter talks about the Russell Wilson phenomenon, gives his thoughts on the Red Sox-Dodgers trade as only he could, and still manages to find time to bitch about hotel he stayed at. You didn't think last week's complaint-free MMQB was going to be the new trend did you?

Now on with the show, the NFL show, in a busy week during which we've found out a few things -- that Pete Carroll was serious when he said the best man would win the quarterback job in Seattle

It helps a head coach look good when one of the guys in the QB competition clearly looks like the guy who should start. Otherwise, it would look like Carroll was just churning quarterbacks trying to eventually find someone who could run the team. If Carroll was coaching in New York I can only imagine how the media would have criticized him for trading for Charlie Whitehurst, Tarvaris Jackson, and then signing Matt Flynn only to have him lose the starting job in Training Camp. It helps that Russell Wilson looks like an NFL starter is what I am saying.

that Jim Irsay was not crying (Ron) wolf with all his trade tweets,

Not really. Irsay made it sound like the trade was a much bigger deal than just Vontae Davis coming to Indianapolis. Irsay made it sound like it was a blockbuster of a trade, not a trade for a underachieving cornerback.

The naysayers said to just wait until Wilson had to play against someone's starting defense; that would expose him. Uh, not so much.

Um yes, still so much. Wilson has looked great in the preseason, but if Peter King thinks the preseason is equivalent to what a defense looks like in Week 1 of the regular season than he should stop writing about the NFL. Wilson looks great, but teams don't generally game plan in the preseason, so Wilson won't be non-exposed until after Week 1 (or probably a few weeks after that, no matter if Wilson struggles or doesn't struggle) of the regular season. Simmer down. There is still plenty of time for Wilson to be exposed or not exposed in the regular season.

Wilson started and had seven possessions in Kansas City Friday night. The drives: 41 yards and a field goal, 41 yards and a field goal, 37 yards and a field goal, 62 yards and a touchdown, 59 yards and a touchdown, 55 yards and a touchdown, 54 yards and a missed field goal. By the time Seattle inserted Tarvaris Jackson to replace Wilson, the Seahawks led 44-7.

The Chiefs were fresh off giving up 31 points to the St. Louis Rams in the previous preseason game and the Rams scored 3 points in the previous preseason game against the Colts. So it doesn't look so impressive knowing all of that. So maybe that Chiefs defense isn't so great.

My point? That you can pretty much prove whatever you want to prove using preseason numbers. I know it makes it hard to write a weekly NFL column doing this, but it is best to wait until the regular season before saying Wilson will or will not be exposed. Plus, he's a rookie. He's going to struggle in some games anyway. I feel like there is always a rush to make a pronouncement that Player X is a bust or Player Y is for real. Give it time. Michael Clayton looked like a perennial Pro Bowl player in his first year with Tampa Bay, while it took Drew Brees a few years to become the quarterback he has become.

In the aggressive, rush-heavy defense new Indy coach Chuck Pagano plays, the Colts need cover corners. Now they have one after Sunday's trade with the Miami Dolphins for Davis. Though the fourth-year veteran had fallen out of favor with the new staff in Miami, Pagano is likely to make him a poor man's Darrelle Revis, putting him on an island against the Andre Johnsons and Justin Blackmons on the Colts' schedule.

After watching Vontae Davis work on an island against Steve Smith in the second preseason game this season should be fun to watch if you are a fan of a team with an outstanding receiver and that team is playing the Colts. Davis is talented, but a poor man's Revis is going to have a tough time covering Andre Johnson on an island.

So, if Davis is Indy thinks he is and his playing time requires the Colts to give up a sixth-rounder, Indy will have just three picks in the top 200 next year. But Davis is 24, has started for three years, and the Colts simply had no other potential cover corners like him.

My fear for Indianapolis is they are going the whole "find a franchise quarterback and let his talent cover up for the holes in the roster" way of building a team. Everything looks better when a team has a franchise quarterback, but I feel like the Colts put themselves in a position in the past to where it all depended on Manning. This formula worked for a long period of time, but I would hope the Colts learned something from last year outside of the fact they need a franchise quarterback on the roster. I feel like they still have rebuilding to do and they are trading draft picks, so it concerns me.

5. Tarvaris Jackson is headed to Buffalo ... for pretty meager compensation. Seattle will get a seventh-round pick that could improve to a sixth- if Jackson is active for six games this year; the Seahawks couldn't get more because the rest of the league knew Seattle wasn't going to keep Jackson and his $4 million salary to be a third-string quarterback.

I didn't understand this deal. While I am far from being on the Vince Young bandwagon I don't see how Tarvaris Jackson is worth trading any draft pick to acquire. He's like Vince Young, except he's had less time in the Buffalo offense.

8. Want the good news in Tampa? Or the bad? Let's start with the bad. Pro Bowl guard Davin Joseph went down against the Patriots, reportedly with a broken kneecap, and will be out about three months. For a team trying to play a pounding running game this year, losing a road-grading guard for the majority of the season is going to put more pressure on Josh Freeman to carry a suspect offense.

It's a good thing the Bucs spent $55 million on Vincent Jackson when the loss of one offensive linemen could dramatically affect the Bucs offense. Maybe they should have saved some of the $7.5 million they gave Eric Wright to sign a backup offensive guard.

The Cowboys aren't just a little worried about Bryant's maturity level, they're petrified. According to Calvin Watkins of, Bryant will not drink alcohol nor visit strip clubs this season, and he'll have a midnight curfew. He'll also have a three-man security crew, including one security man with him at all times, with rides from security to and from practice.

Is this really worth it? The Cowboys are treating Dez Bryant like a child in order to ensure he behaves and avoids getting in more trouble. It seems like overkill to me. At a certain point they have to either trust he will not get into more trouble or know he isn't going to stay out of trouble. I just don't think treating a grown man like a child is a permanent solution. For now, treating Dez Bryant like a teenager is going to work, but this solution seems only temporary. At some point the Cowboys will have to make a decision on whether they trust Dez Bryant to interact with the world on his own or not.

As I walked away from a 20-minute conversation with Wilson, I could see why people in Wisconsin loved him so much.

N.C. State fans start to kick a puppy because the three years he played in Raleigh are seemingly all forgotten at this point.

And so, like his four draft-mates (Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Ryan Tannehill and Brandon Weeden), Wilson went out and earned the job.

What makes Wilson more impressive to me is that Luck/Griffin/Weeden were essentially handed the starting job. These three earned it, but they were the leaders in the clubhouse to be the starting quarterback going into Training Camp. They earned the job that was essentially theirs to earn. Only Wilson, and to a lesser extent (because you can't convince me Matt Moore isn't a better quarterback than Tannehill at this point) Tannehill, went out and earned the starting quarterback job after going against a veteran who could conceivably be a safer choice.

Not to mention, I wonder how Matt Flynn feels about picking the Seahawks as his destination now? How do the Dolphins feel about this too? Would they rather have Ryan Tannehill or Matt Flynn?

What's the best body type for a strongside defensive end in the 3-4 defense? About 6-5 and 290? Meet J.J. Watt, 6-5 and 288. The size for a good 3-4 outside linebacker? Maybe 6-4 and 255, DeMarcus Ware size.

While this may be true in some ways, it sounds like Peter sort of made up these measurements as the "best" body type in order to provide a narrative on how the Texans have "perfect" defensive players for their respective position.

In two December meetings, Dallas gave up 68 points to the Giants and 746 yards passing by Manning. The Cowboys went out and got two new cornerbacks -- Carr and first-round pick Morris Claiborne from LSU, the consensus best corner in the draft.

A great pass rush is still the best way, in my opinion, to prevent a team from hanging a bunch of points and yardage on a defense. I think Claiborne and Carr are fine, but it won't mean much if the Cowboys can't get to the quarterback.

"Every defense needs two like that, and nobody's got 'em,'' said Rob Ryan, the defensive coordinator.

Rob "If my last name was 'Smith' I wouldn't have near the trust in my defensive coordinating skills" Ryan has to know the Cowboys need a great pass rush. I think the Jets have two corners that are like Carr and Claiborne in Cromartie and Revis. So I wouldn't say "nobody" has corners like the Cowboys have.

Then Peter interviews Ohio University's quarterback to discuss this weekend's game against Penn State. Let's look at some of the hardball questions/light flirting from Peter:

"It'll be a pretty emotional atmosphere there, probably. The fans at Penn State will be all fired up to defend their program after so many people have been critical of it."

That's not really a question.

"But 107,000 people. It'll be intense."

This is the next question, and again, this is more of a statement than a question. This is starting to sound like the "Chris Farley Show" skit when he was interviewing Paul McCartney.

"How do you like your chances?''

Don't pry too deep, Peter. Leave the kid with some dignity.

"Why not baseball for you?''

"Why you not make game of baseball play you?"

"How tall are you?''

You aren't supposed to ask this on the first date, Peter.

"You watch Drew Brees and Russell Wilson?''

"You make watch of quarterbacks in NFL? How you like not tall of height quarterbacks in NFL? You use eyes of face to see play football on field?"

Coming in Tuesday's column: Some big offensive changes in Baltimore ... and why Tony Romo was up very late one night in San Diego. (Hint: It's all very innocent, and has everything to do with football.).

So Romo wasn't up until 5am trying to break the Cowboys record (set by Michael Irvin) of trying to sleep with eight hookers in one night? Thanks for the major tease and then clarifying what the major tease didn't entail. I'm on the edge of my seat for the answer in tomorrow's mailbag.

Seattle QB Russell Wilson. After his 13-of-19 night at Kansas City Friday, Wilson's three-game stat line puts GM John Schneider, decried for picking Wilson too high at 75th overall last April, in the early running for Exec of the Year:

Yep, it is late August and Peter is already deciding who should be in the running for Executive of the Year. I seem to recall Peter warning us a few weeks ago what we see in the preseason may mean something or it may mean nothing. Either way, Peter knows Russell Wilson is at the top of his MVP Watch for right now.

"Do you want to punch me in the face?''

-- Boomer Esiason, former Jets quarterback and current morning drive radio host on WFAN in New York, upon welcoming Jets quarterback Tim Tebow to the set during a Thursday morning broadcast live from Jets camp in New Jersey.

Esiason has said the Jets should cut Tebow because his presence is a distraction, and Esiason doesn't think he's a quality NFL quarterback.
Tebow said no, followed not long after by "God bless you."

"God bless you" is Ex-backup QB Punt Protector Jets speak for "I hate you and hope you die."

Not to mention, based on his preseason performance, if Ex-backup QB Punt Protector Jets tried to punch Esiason in the face he would either one-hop his punch or throw his punch a foot over Esiason's head.

Atlanta wide receiver Julio Jones in 5.5 quarters of play this summer: 13 catches, 240 receiving yards, 18.5 yards per catch.

Yeah, but he is a diva who doesn't want to block for his teammates and he is the total reason why the Falcons didn't win their playoff game against the Giants last least that's Gregg Easterbrook's point of view.

Derrick Mason retired in June with more receptions, 943, than any of the 21 wide receivers in the Pro Football Hall of Fame except Jerry Rice.

I think this speaks more to how much the NFL has opened up in the passing game over the last two decades and how consistent of a career Derrick Mason had more than anything else.

On my final camp stop, in San Diego to see the Cowboys on Tuesday, I stayed at a hotel I'd never heard of: the Andaz. "What's Andaz?'' I asked our SI travel agent. It's the boutique-y Hyatt hotel, I was told. "Like a W,'' the travel agent said. And because it was significantly cheaper than any of the other brand hotels downtown, I took it.

So Peter willingly took a cheaper hotel and now will proceed to bitch about how this hotel isn't up to his standards. That's pretty typical Peter King. He doesn't want to pay as much as he would pay for other brand hotels, but he wants the service at the cheaper hotel to be on the level as a $200/night hotel.

I'm not a fan of dark hotels. I don't understand them, first of all. Who favors dimly lit rooms?

I like dimly lit rooms, especially when I am trying to sleep.

I looked all around the desk. Couldn't find a light. No light on the desk. "#$%^&*@#$!!!'' I said, or something like that, and then turned on every 40-watt-bulb lamp in the place (exaggerating, but it wasn't too bright in there). So I finished my work by candlelight, shut the computer, and accidently

Accidently misspelled the word "accidentally?"

touched what I'd thought was some silver sculpture or piece of curved art on the desk. And a light went on. The silver thing was a light, and I officially was a dufus.

Right, I can see how Peter got confused. Because you know hotels are always putting sculptures and pieces of art in each hotel room. I will check into a hotel and be amazed at the number of sculptures each individual room has. I saw a Van Gogh painting over my bed one time when I stayed at the "W" in Atlanta. It didn't strike me as odd because I know hotels are always putting sculptures and art around their hotel rooms.

I'm probably more a Marriott TownePlace Suites or Spring Hill Suites guy on the training camp road. There, I know how to turn on the lights.

Oh sure, Marriott is good enough for Peter now, but just wait until the coffee is watered down or they don't serve the specific cereal that Peter wants at the free continental breakfast. A cereal which Peter asked if they served at the free continental breakfast when he called to make the reservation. Yeah, we'll see how much Peter likes the Marriott or Spring Hill Suites once they disappoint him by asking for proof of identification when he uses his credit card.

"If u don't like it buy ur own team and try to make the playoffs 9 season n a row n put together 7 straight 12 win seasons n a row as Owner!"

-- @JimIrsay, the owner of Colts, indignant that some fans were ripping him for tweeting several times that the Colts were engaged in trade talks, implying that he sounds like the boy who cried wolf for the tweets and no trade happening. It finally did on Sunday.

Nothing like Jim Irsay taking credit for having Peyton Manning as his quarterback. When the team was without Peyton Manning, Irsay led them (as owner) to a 2-14 record and the #1 overall draft pick. Before Manning showed up, Irsay led them (as owner) to the #1 overall draft pick in 1998.

"Apparently the Dodgers front office doesn't get NESN."

-- @AndrewCatalon, a sports anchor at WNYT-TV in Albany, N.Y.
Meaning: The Dodgers dealt with the Red Sox to acquire, among others, the tremendously disappointing Josh Beckett and just-regular disappointing Carl Crawford, and NESN telecasts most of the Red Sox games.

Your audience isn't stupid Peter. There is no need to explain this to us. Most people know what NESN is and that the Dodgers just traded for players from the Red Sox team.

1. I think I've banged on the replacements, and the inability of the league to make a bridge with the regular officials in the negotiating process, so much in the past few weeks that I thought I'd give it a rest this week. Mostly. But it doesn't diminish the fact that it's incumbent on Roger Goodell and the NFL's negotiators to attack the process anew this week, and make sure there are real officials in place when a game vital to the playoff race is played nine day from now -- Cowboys at Giants -- in New Jersey.

The NFL needs to bring the regular officials back if for no other reason than to make sure no NFC East games are affected by bad officiating. Who really cares if the other games that aren't vital to the NFC playoff race are affected during Week 1? It doesn't matter. Every other NFL game can be terribly officiated. Let's just make sure this vital Week 1 game being broadcast on NBC (a company Peter not-so-coincidentally works for) has good officiating. That's all that really matters.

Peter has managed to show an East Coast bias, stated a game is vital to the playoff race in Week 1 of the NFL season (which is a bit premature) AND shamelessly plugged for NBC. That's a triumvirate that's hard to achieve, but Peter managed to do it flawlessly.

4. I think my wish-I'd-written-that line of the week belong to Mike Florio, of,

Ah yes, it is the weekly kiss-ass dance that Peter King and Mike Florio perform. Peter King reminds us in MMQB how brilliant Florio is and Mike Florio posts Peter King articles from MMQB in the "Rumor Mill" as if they are fresh rumors and not the product of integrating one part of the NBC family with another.

b. As far as the deal goes, I like it as a Red Sox partisan -- particularly the part about the Dodgers taking $250 million or so (96 percent) of the remaining salary of the four Red Sox vets. Adrian Gonzalez is a big loss. Carl Crawford might be, but he also might be a player who isn't suited for the big-headline places, and who won't be able to play until next April or May because of elbow surgery.

Oh yes, it is the old puffed-out-chest standby that Crawford just wasn't tough enough to play in such a demanding baseball town like Boston. Obviously Crawford won't have any issues in a small city like Los Angeles where the locals don't care nearly as much about their team.

And Josh Beckett, well, you can have him. Never met him; don't know any of these guys. But he strikes me as one of the most miserable people ever to put on a Sox uniform -- and that encompasses a lot of miserable people.

"I have absolutely no first-hand knowledge of the situation, but I'll give my opinion anyway."

The Sox have paid $46 million for Beckett to go 24-24 over the past three years. Maybe he'll be good in the spacious parks of the National League West,

Only true Red Sox can handle playing in the small stadium that is Fenway Park. Beckett was never a true Red Sox player.

He's spent the last 12 months helping drag down a franchise that was paying him like a king.

This has never happened to any other major league team in the history of baseball. Only the Red Sox have ever paid a lot of money for a pitcher who never gave them a return on this investment.

c. Gonzalez's first at-bat for the Dodgers: three-run homer. James Loney's first at-bat for the Red Sox: double play. And so it goes.

We're so cursed! We're more cursed than your team is cursed! Our curse is worse than your curse! Players are playing better when away from the Red Sox locker room and fans, but this is in no way a reflection on the fans or Red Sox management.

d. This is no little slump Boston's in. Red Sox in last 162 games: 73-89.
e. Pirates in last 162: 80-82.

No, a bad record over a 162 game span is actually a fairly small slump. It's one bad year. Get over it and quit acting like your team is too special to suffer through a bad year. You aren't special and the Red Sox aren't special. A playoff spot isn't guaranteed and there will be bad years. The Pirates have struggled for nearly a decade and the Red Sox have one bad year, which is causing Peter to flip out, and remind us of what a spoiled fan he can sound like.

f. The Pittsburgh Pirates are seven full games better than the Red Sox in the last full season.

Your readers are not stupid. They can do basic math and see 80 minus 73 is equal to 7.

i. While I'm on the topic of baseball box scores, is it too much, USA Today, to wake up in my hotel in San Diego and see the results of the East Coast games that end around 7:30 p.m. Pacific time?

Is it too much to log-on to the Internet and see the scores for the East Coast games, specifically since Peter works for a sports website and a sports network?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

6 comments Terence Moore Still Hates Expanded Replay, Because This One Time the Umpires Got a Tough Call Right

Terence Moore let us all in on a not-so-secret a few weeks ago. He hates the idea of expanded replay in baseball. The reason he hated the idea of expanded replay is because umpires have an impossible job, so why make it any easier for them to do their job? If MLB expanded replay then the calls on the field would be more accurate, but there would be change in baseball, which traditionalists and purists are completely opposed to any sort of evolution or change in baseball. It is fine for baseball to have changed and adapted in the past, but from now on there shall be no more adapting or changes in the sport. It's too much for some to bear. I can only imagine how the purists and traditionalists would have reacted in the 1960's when baseball lowered the mound or in the 70's when the DH was implemented in the American League, but not the National League. I'm pretty sure Terence Moore's head would have exploded if those type of changes were made in 2012. So in summary, all past changes to the game of baseball are fine, but future changes like expanded replay aren't necessary.

When it comes to expanding instant replay in baseball, an old saying from my Aunt Flossie comes to mind: Just leave it alone.

Obviously Aunt Flossie had instant replay in mind when she said this.

Oh, and if you're among those who believe this overrated technology throughout amateur and professional sports really can solve everything shy of global warming, let's return to Monday night in Los Angeles.

Nobody believes instant replay is the "cure-all" for baseball. It's just this "overrated technology" can ensure the umpires calls are the correct calls. The integrity of the outcome of the game should be upheld, even if it means hurting the feelings of the umpires and testing Terence Moore's aversion to change. Why is taking two minutes to make sure a call was correct such a terrible thing? Sometimes the umpire's call will be correct and he will look like the competent person he normally is. Sometimes the call will be overturned and the correct call will be made. This isn't a bad thing simply because it is using technology to affect change, which are probably the five scariest words for Terence Moore to ever hear.

I'm guessing hearing the words "using technology to affect change" sends a shudder through Terence's body.

Listen closely. You still can hear the Colorado Rockies screaming for no legitimate reason.

What follows is yet another story that intended to show us how stupid instant replay is, but instead shows us how useful instant replay could be. See, the Rockies wouldn't have been screaming for no legitimate reason with expanded replay. If there were expanded replay it would have shown the umpires their call was correct. The umpires would confirm their call and the Rockies would (hopefully) quiet down knowing the call was correct upon review.

Instead, what we get is Terence Moore saying the Rockies should shut up and stop complaining because the television replay showed the ball was trapped. Of course, the Rockies don't know this because they aren't watching television, but are watching the play on the field. So Terence uses replay as proof the Rockies were freaking out over a correct call, but only having access to replay showed the call was correct. Again, it seems Terence submarines his own point.

Here's the bottom line: The umpires correctly ruled on an awfully tough call Monday night at Dodger Stadium without instant replay. They huddled during the seventh inning, and then they declared Rockies center fielder Dexter Fowler had trapped a ball during an attempt at making a diving catch against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

I'm not accusing the umpires of not doing their job well. Terence Moore admitted the last time he wrote about expanded replay that an umpire's job is very hard. So kudos for these umpires for getting the call right, but what would it hurt for them to spend the time they would normally huddling to talk about the call looking at the replay? It isn't an insult to umpires to expand replay, it is an acknowledgment their jobs are hard and they are bound to miss calls. Not to mention, hurt feelings among the umpires isn't a reason to not ensure the calls on the field are correct.

The television replays also showed that Fowler trapped the ball. I mean, he trapped the ball.

Thanks Bill Simmons for using italics to show emphasis. Yes, the television replays showed he trapped the ball. The viewer, and Terence Moore, needed the benefit of instant replay to see for certain that Dexter Fowler trapped the ball. Why not give the umpires a chance to get the benefit of the replay? Again, Moore submarines his own point. He uses the fact he has the benefit of replay, which proved the call was correct, as a reason umpires should not get this same benefit.

Even so, Rockies manager Jim Tracy blasted the umpires' decision by doing his best imitation of Earl Weaver rolled into Billy Martin, and he eventually was ejected.

HE BLASTED THE UMPIRES' DECISION AND WAS EJECTED BECAUSE HE COULDN'T SEE THE REPLAY! My goodness, this isn't a hard point to figure out. Jim Tracy saw the play live and thought it was a catch. If the umpires had used replay and ruled the same way, Tracy would have had much less of a good argument and may not have blasted the umpires' decision. Stop using the fact you have the benefit of a replay proving the call made on the field was correct as a reason MLB should not give umpires the expanded use of this same replay.

Tracy told reporters. "Quite frankly, I think [Fowler] caught the ball, and there's no question about that. I've seen the replay a few times, and even if he trapped it, I understand and appreciate the fact that the umpires are doing the very best they can to get the calls right. And yet, on that particular play, I find it hard to believe how three other guys can weigh in, being as far away from that as they were."

Basically Jim Tracy is making a good point. It's a tough call. Simply because the call on the field was correct doesn't mean this call will be correct next time or the umpires were in a great position to make an accurate call.

There are several lessons here about instant replay, and none of them are good. First, no matter who or what makes the calls during games, there still will be arguments.

The arguments of managers and players will be lessened if the call is ensured correct by instant replay. We've all seen an NFL head coach fight strongly to have a call on the field overturned, only to stand there stone-faced as the head official states the call on the field was correct. A review of a disputed play tends to take some of the fight out of a manager/coach when it comes to believing the call on the field was incorrect.

Second, instead of having managers, players, fans, reporters or others saying the umpires are clueless, you'll just have folks chastising the accuracy of the cameras.

No, we won't. Not if the expanded replay cameras are set up well around the field.

See a fuming Tracy.

That's what instant replay is worth.

Jim Tracy originally didn't have the replay to watch. Then after watching it he admitted the call could have been correct, but stated he wasn't sure how the officials were in a position to get the call correct. So don't act like he was still fuming after seeing the replay, while still insisting Fowler caught the ball.

Said Selig last month on that same New York radio show, "We're now going to add [instant replay] on trapped balls in the outfield and, as I call them, bullets down the right- and left-field line."

I'm not opposed to this. I doubt calls would be questioned more than once, possibly twice, times a game. It won't delay the game any more than an umpire huddle to discuss whether a call made was correct would delay the game.

The owners and the players union approved expanding instant replay to cover fair-or-foul calls and trapped-or-caught balls, and the umpires haven't a problem with the expansion.

Then what's the problem if the umpires don't hate the expansion? It's their reputations Terence Moore seems concerned with protecting, so if they have no issue with replay being expanded that should tell him something. While I am not for delaying the game any further, I also believe there needs to be dedication to ensuring the umpires are correct in making the call on the field correctly.

With two outs and a runner on second, the Dodgers' Shane Victorino pushed a sinking fly ball to center. Fowler slid for what appeared to first-base umpire Mike Estabrook as a catch -- you know, just above the lower blades of the Dodger Stadium grass.

Victorino was called out. End of inning.

Except Dodgers manager Don Mattingly did what managers have done forever in that situation. He questioned the call.

In this case, Mattingly went out and argued the call for a minute or so only for nothing to be resolved. Terence Moore prefers this to Mattingly simply asking for a replay and the umpires spending the time they would normally debate the call ensuring the accuracy of the call. Terence Moore hates this for some reason...well for one specific reason, mainly that he is resistant to any sort of change.

Then the other umpires did what they often do in that situation, which is they joined the umpire who made the initial call to discuss the matter between themselves. They eventually decided as a group that Fowler trapped the ball and that the Dodgers still were alive.

They changed the call on the field after debating the matter with each other, rather than changing the call on the field by finding visual proof the call was originally incorrect. It could have taken the same time to huddle as it would have to view a replay and get visual confirmation of a correct call.

Television replays supported the umpires, of course.

Right, of course. Because we as viewers should use the television replay as proof the umpires were correct, but God forbid the umpires use the television replay to confirm the changed call was correct.

In fact, despite all of the bashing involving umpires overall, television replays show they are correct the overwhelming majority of the time.

Folks concentrate on the dramatic misses.

How correct are umpires on close calls? That's the issue at hand. This question isn't how many times they correctly call a runner out/safe when it isn't a close play. When there is a ball down the line or a close play at first base, what percentage of the time is the call made correctly? Why can't the umpires take three minutes to ensure this percentage is as close to 100% as possible?

Just in the last couple of years, there was Jim Joyce's blown call in the ninth in 2010 that ruined a perfect game for Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga. Then there was Johan Santana's no-hitter that really wasn't earlier this season. Carlos Beltran of the St. Louis Cardinals lined a shot off the New York Mets pitcher down the third-base line at Citi Field, and the ball was ruled foul by umpire Adrian Johnson.

So in the past three years there have been two missed calls that ruined a perfect game and kept a no-hitter alive? If anything shouldn't these high profile missed calls show how instant replay can affect historic achievements in the sport? What about Don Derkinger in the 1985 World Series? I guess I'm just too focused on the high profile and dramatic missed calls. I guess I should be focusing more in the little, non-dramatic missed calls that happen during the season.

Replays showed it was fair.

And of course, it would greatly harm the game of baseball if this same replay was used by the umpires to get this call correct.

Stuff happens.

Yes, it does. If we could prevent stuff from happening, wouldn't this be worth doing...rather than throwing our hands up in the air at a missed call believing in some way this is a fair trade-off for the game of baseball still being "pure."

Just not enough for baseball to justify going nuts with more and more instant replay.

If Terence Moore believes a perfect game that was ruined by a bad call doesn't justify slightly expanded replay then there is probably no arguing with him. The game is still pure and he as a "traditionalist" can take pride in this fact. The umpires may end up getting calls incorrect at times, but isn't baseball about the human error that can affect the outcome of even one game and not about a competition between two teams? Accuracy in calls should always come second to resistance to change.

Monday, August 27, 2012

5 comments Gregg Doyel Has a Great Idea for Retroactive Punishments

The gnashing of teeth among sportswriters rarely gets as violent and frequent as when a MLB player is busted for using PEDs. Lifetime suspension, beheading, the immediate kidnapping of the player's wife and family, and the contraction of that player's team are all suggested punishments for daring to use PEDs to gain an advantage. All of these punishments would be suggested retroactively of course. So Melky Cabrera just got busted for using PEDs and received a 50 game suspension. Gregg Doyel thinks the San Francisco Giants should pay harshly for reaping the rewards of Melky's season. What should be done to the Giants? Doyel uses an arbitrary system of reducing the team's spot in the standings by 10% of the penalty the PED-user is serving. So the Giants would lose 5 games in the standings for Melky's 50 game suspension. I'm not sure how the 10% number could be more arbitrary, especially considering this number will have a larger or smaller impact on the team depending on what part of the season the player gets busted. Losing 5 games in the standings in May isn't as big of a deal as losing 5 games in the standings in September.

Melky Cabrera tested positive for testosterone, which means this is a tainted season. His season? Well, sure. Cabrera's season is tainted.

But I was talking about the Giants' season.

Games illicitly won. Postseason opportunity unfairly attained.

And there is nothing we can do about this because there is no rule in place stating teams who have players found to use PEDs will suffer some form of punishment. We dust ourselves off and re-recall the old rule that if a player looks like he is playing better than he should be, then there is probably a reason for that. So we all should have known Melky was cheating because he's been average his entire career and now was playing like an MVP candidate. We have egg on our face and move on.

Nothing can be done about it now, of course. Bud Selig isn't about to change the rules on the fly -- dock the 2012 Giants a handful of games, declare them ineligible for the postseason --

Selig won't do this because he's never done this before to a team who had a player found to use PEDs. He can't just make up rules like this on the fly.

Even if the Giants don't deserve to play in October. Not after getting 113 dishonest games out of a player who ranks second in the league in batting, first in runs, hits and triples, and in the top 10 in on-base percentage, OPS and sacrifice flies.

I like that Gregg Doyel included sacrifice flies in these statistics. That's not a statistic you see used a whole lot.

Cabrera is having a career year, and the Giants have unjustly reaped those rewards.

So I guess are going to take away the 2004 World Series from the Red Sox? Probably best to take away the 2002 World Series away from the Anaheim Angels. Now that I think about it, it is probably best if we just take away every World Series won by every team over the past 20 years just to be safe. Then we can go back and decide which teams deserved to win the World Series.

Have the Giants known all season that Cabrera was juicing?

For the sake of making this article more dramatic, let's say they absolutely new and turned a blind eye to it.

I can't say that. But I can say this: They didn't want to know.

Gregg Doyel doesn't know if the Giants knew Cabrera was juicing or not, but he does know they didn't want to know. He's not a mind-reader people, so he doesn't know what the Giants did or did not know, but Doyel is enough of a mind-reader to know what the Giants did or did not want to know.

Seriously, what good would it do the Giants in May, as Melky Cabrera was embarking on the hottest month of his mediocre career, to wonder aloud how in the world he was doing it?

So what was the appropriate thing for the Giants to do? Call a press conference in early June and announce they didn't know for sure whether Melky Cabrera was using PEDs or not, but they just wanted to let everyone know they think he might be using, but have no proof. I'd like to see how this press conference would work. I can't say how the player's union would have an issue with an MLB team accusing a player of using steroids based on speculation. This would have been the best move for Giants management, to publicly throw one of their players under the bus? Does this get them off the hook if they suspected Cabrera and publicly stated so?

Not to mention, if Gregg Doyel is so sure the Giants knew Melky was on steroids, then why wasn't Gregg Doyel telling everyone that Melky was juicing? He had access to the same statistics the Giants had. Granted, he wasn't in the locker room, but he just recited Melky's statistics, shouldn't Gregg Doyel have alerted everyone to Cabrera's cheating? Why is it the job of the Giants to bust their own players when Gregg clearly wants to be the Steroid Police and has such brilliant ideas to reduce the number of teams with PED users?

This is typical sportswriter revisionist history. Gregg Doyel sees the numbers Melky Cabrera was putting up and thinks it is so obvious that Cabrera was juicing and so he thinks the Giants should have accused Cabrera of cheating. Of course, Gregg Doyel never accused Cabrera of juicing prior to writing this column, but I guess that doesn't matter in his mind. Cabrera was obviously cheating at the time and the Giants should have known, even if Doyel didn't know him either.

That month Cabrera hit .429 with an OPS of 1.104. Hone in a bit more, and from May 4 to June 1 he hit .445 with a 1.175 OPS. For a month, middling Melky Cabrera was Mickey Freaking Mantle. When the month was over, Cabrera's batting average -- for the season -- sat at .376.

Looking back it all sounds pretty easy to figure out, doesn't it? Yet, we always read about sportswriters looking back at all these "obvious" signs a player was juicing, but the signs are never obvious enough to where the sportswriter does the one thing he wanted everyone else to do at the time, which is accuse the player of juicing without having any proof.

You say the Giants didn't know he was dirty? I repeat: They didn't want to know.

Maybe the Giants didn't want to know, maybe they really didn't know. Either way, I don't understand what solution the Giants should have done at the time. Should the team accuse of Melky Cabrera of juicing without any proof? This is a good way to make sure no players want to sign with the Giants for the next ten seasons. In fact, a San Francisco sportswriter did accuse Melky of using steroids and that didn't go over very well.

We never actually hear a non-arbitrary punishment Doyel suggests the Giants should receive. The only solution Doyel offers consists of him throwing out a random percentage of games the Giants should lose in the standings. Let's think of something more concrete. Caning, a naked dip in boiling water, free tickets to a Maroon 5 concert...what's the correct punishment?

The Giants looked the other way when Barry Bonds was doing the (legally) impossible. They looked the other way when employing 12 other players who would make their way onto the Mitchell Report.

Naturally, the Giants should be punished for continuously looking the other way when players on their team use PEDs. The Giants are the only team who ever did this during the Steroid Era, as long as you don't count every other MLB team.

After all that, the Giants looked right at three known cheaters -- Jose Guillen and Guillermo Mota in 2010, Miguel Tejada in 2011 -- and added them despite their history with performance-enhancing substances.

Guillen was dumped after being connected to a shipment of 50 pre-loaded HGH syringes late in the 2010 season.

If the Giants dumped Guillen after he was connected to HGH, then didn't they do this the right way? They placed Guillen on the restricted list for the rest of the season. I know, I know, I'm missing the big point. The big point being that somebody needs to do something to the Giants for employing a baseball player caught using PEDs.

Mota, who had been suspended 50 games in 2007 with the Mets, had a second failed test in May and was suspended 100 games. He's eligible to return Aug. 28.

Presumably the Giants will let Mota pitch again this season. It's the Giants, after all. Steroid Central.

Actually, if you pay attention to the Giants history when it comes to Jose Guillen they may not let Mota pitch the rest of the season.

No team should be able to reap the rewards of a cheating player. Not anymore. Not in today's baseball, which claims to be trying so hard, and caring so much, about the integrity of its game.

To punish MLB teams for having PED-users on the team would essentially turn each MLB team into a private detective firm constantly searching for proof of cheating by their employees. I can't think of a better way to create an antagonistic relationship between the players and MLB teams. Punishing teams for PED-users on that team would also create an antagonistic relationship between players on the same team. Every teammate is a potential snitch to management about the suspected PED-use of a teammate.

You want to show integrity, baseball? Don't just punish the player when he gets caught cheating. Punish the team that won all those games unfairly.

Baseball is a team game you know. Melky didn't win all of those games himself. Punishing the majority for the wrongs committed by one person just doesn't seem fair to me.

Every team in baseball has cheaters.

Well then every team in baseball should be punished. If every team has cheaters then how will baseball ever be pure? Fuck it, let's just cancel the rest of the season.

I love Doyel's position that the Giants should be punished for having a cheater on their team, then he acknowledges every team in baseball has cheaters. So if every team has cheaters how in the hell can we punish every team in baseball?

I suspect it. So do you.

In two months when another is outed Gregg Doyel will claim that player's numbers were outrageously out of the ordinary for that player and it was obvious he was using PEDs. Of course, right now Gregg Doyel can't seem to make a list of players who he suspects are juicing even though he expects MLB teams to suspect and accuse their own players. In hindsight, who exactly was cheating will be very clear to him though.

But only those who are caught can be dealt with, whether it's a player like Cabrera or a team like the Giants.

I agree only those who are caught can be dealt with, but Gregg is saying the Giants should be punished because they knew Cabrera was using before he got busted. He thinks every team should know which players are or are not cheating, which means every MLB team should be punished for having a PED-user on the roster because they should have known the player was cheating. So every team who has a PED-user (which Gregg Doyel says every team has cheaters) on the roster should be punished because they HAD to know didn't they? That's the incorrect assumption Gregg is making which leads to his suggested punishment.

So should the Giants, and while there is no precedent for that in baseball, there is precedent in other sports.

In hockey, if two players start fighting they are put in the penalty box for a few minutes. In baseball if two players start fighting they are thrown out of the game and suspended a few games. In the NFL if two players fight the officials throw a flag. In basketball if two players fight they could be suspended for 10+ games, depending on how severe the fight was.

It's hard to use one sport as precedent for exactly what should happen in other sport because they are all so different. What is a big deal in baseball, isn't such a big deal in football. Let's set some precedents then. Should NFL teams be punished for a player who uses PEDs? How about a minor league team? Should a AA team be punished because one of the players was found to have used a PED? If you want to set a nice precedent and start punishing MLB teams for players on the roster who are found to use PEDs, then it can be a pretty slippery slope.

something can be done. Something like this: Dropping a team in the standings if one of its players fails a drug test. Let's say, 10 percent of the player's suspension. Since Cabrera was suspended 50 games, the Giants would be docked five games in the standings.

Nothing like picking an arbitrary number out of thin air to serve as the punishment. Why not punish a team for 20% of a player's suspension? Maybe 15.456% of a player's suspension? If we are going to arbitrarily pick a percentage to drop an MLB team in the standings let's at least have fun with it.

Under the "Doyel Theory of Retroactive Punishment for What an MLB Team Should Have Know and Publicly Acknowledged Based on Pure Speculation" the best time for a team to have a player get suspended is early in the year. After all, if a team is 3 games ahead in their division on May 15, and one of their players gets suspended for 50 games, then that team is only dropped two games behind in their division early in the year. If a team is 3 games ahead in their division on August 31st, and one of their players gets suspended for 50 games, it seems like a more severe penalty. There is nothing like an arbitrary system for punishment where the punishment is severe or light depending on what part of the season the punishment is handed down.

Oh, and since Mota was suspended 100 games, there goes another 10 games. Harsh? Sure. But something has to be done, though Lord knows it won't be happening this season.

Because baseball is run by rational human beings who understand you can't blame and punish an entire team for 1-2 player's actions. Baseball is a team sport after all.

It sure would be nauseating for the Giants to eke into the postseason -- they'd have to eke past someone else, you see -- thanks to a good start featuring the illegally fueled Melky Cabrera.

If the Giants are able to hold on and make the playoffs over the last 30% of the season they probably deserve to make the playoffs, no? I don't like the idea of punishing a team for a rule that isn't on the books nor do I even like the idea of placing a rule on the books that punishes a team for having a player who uses PEDs.

Two, the National League has home-field advantage for the World Series by virtue of its victory in the All-Star Game. The MVP of the All-Star Game? Cheatin' Melky Cabrera.

If I remember correctly the American League didn't score any runs and the National League scored eight runs. Cabrera only drove in two of those runs. So the National League would have had homefield advantage even if Cabrera never made the All-Star game. Pablo Sandoval, one of Cabrera's Giants teammates, drove in three runs.

So I'm not entirely worried about the National League having homefield advantage. It would have happened if Cabrera participated in the game or not.

The Giants might well have known for weeks that it was using a dirty player. Why did San Francisco, set as it seemed to be in the outfield -- Cabrera and Angel Pagan in starting roles, Nate Schierholtz and Gregor Blanco in a platoon -- trade for starting outfielder Hunter Pence of the Phillies on July 31?

Because Hunter Pence is a much better baseball player than Gregor Blanco and Nate Schierholtz. If the Giants knew Cabrera was going to be suspended then why did they trade Schierholtz in the Pence trade? Wouldn't it make sense that the Giants would hoard outfielders and try to get Pence without giving up an outfielder, which is the very position they "know" they are about to need more depth due to the loss of Cabrera?

Perhaps because it knew Melky Cabrera was in the process of appealing a 50-game suspension.

Or perhaps Hunter Pence is a better player than Gregor Blanco and Nate Schierholtz. Perhaps the Giants wanted to upgrade the right field spot and gain a roster spot in the process by putting a superior player in right field as opposed to using a two-man platoon of less productive players? Nah, that's just crazy talk to believe the Giants made a trade in order to (gasp) improve their roster.

Maybe it's unfair to voice it, though I don't think so. This is the Giants, after all. This is a historically tainted franchise, and it just might host Game 1 of the World Series.

Thanks to Melky Cabrera.

Get off your high horse. If the Giants host Game 1 of the World Series it won't be thanks to Melky Cabrera. It will be because six other runs were scored in the All-Star Game and the San Francisco Giants team (without Cabrera) were able to win enough playoff games to earn a spot in the World Series. They will have earned the right to be in the World Series and the National League would have won the All-Star Game regardless of whether Melky Cabrera played in that game or not.

If MLB is going to punish teams for having players who test positive for PEDs then they need to find a better way to punish the team than to knock them down in the standings based on an arbitrary percentage of the time the PED-user will be suspended. Why even punish MLB teams in the first place for a player on that roster testing positive for PEDs? It seems a little silly to me. If MLB did this, then they would have to enforce this rule in the minor league system as well. A team's true record at the end of the year wouldn't be represented by their record in the standings if every MLB team has cheaters (as Gregg Doyel insists) and would lead to confusion about a team's true win-loss record.

Friday, August 24, 2012

5 comments Bill Simmons Breaks Out the "Real" Mailbag to Break Down the Dwight Howard Trade

I have created a College Football Yahoo Pick 'Em league if anyone cares to join that league. The league ID is 5656 and the password is "asu." Though large numbers aren't as necessary in that league, we only have two people and that's depressing.

Bill Simmons had a great time over at the Olympics. Don't take my word for it. He'll prove to be the annoying braggart we all know he can be when he tells you himself in a minute or so. Bill also has a great time in Los Angeles because of the great weather and will mention this no less than three times in this "mailbag." Bill did not have a great time hearing about the Dwight Howard trade. He is a very sad right now. Not sad enough to not do a two-question mailbag on the topic though! Not sad enough to make further excuses for Daryl Morey thought! Not sad enough to not put together words in sentences that give thousands a headache.

Man, life just couldn't be better out here in how-the-hell-is-it-still-sunny London.

Well great, just be sure to tell us all about in an effort to prove your insufferability is off the charts. God knows there isn't anything people enjoy reading more than how good of a time someone had on vacation. Only if Bill sat us down and showed us pictures for 30 minutes could it get worse then getting to read about all of the awesome things Bill did in London because he works for Grantland which is affiliated with ESPN, though Bill could afford to go to the Olympics even if he didn't start Grantland with his own two hands because he gets paid a lot of money and used to work for Jimmy Kimmel.

I knocked Wimbledon and Wembley off my sports bucket list. I caught a do-or-die quadruple-header of men's hoops. I watched the USA women's gymnastics and soccer teams capture gold medals under especially tense conditions.

Again, good for you. We are all bitter and don't care to hear about your good fortune. Well, that is except for the SimmonsClones. They live vicariously through Bill Simmons so his good fortune is their good fortune.

You know what? I say we immortalize this experience with a mega-mailbag for old time's sake. As always, these are actual e-mails from actual readers.

This is actually a mailbag that answers two questions, followed by two other mailbags about the London Olympics. Will I get to at least one of the other mailbags? As Joe Morgan used to say, it's too early to tell, but Ryan Howard is underpaid if you compare him to Matt Holliday.

Q. The Lakers got Howard without having to give up Gasol??? Seriously NBA GM's, what the hell? I'm very drunk and I have to work hardcore tomorrow. Is there a bright side or silver lining to this?
— Jay, Chicago

Just a tip to you sports fans out there. If you are drunk and have to work tomorrow, hardcore work nonetheless, and you decide while you are drunk the one thing you need to do is email Bill Simmons...then you need to sober up and take a good hard look at yourself in the mirror. There's a chance you may led a sad life and need to find new role models. There is no excuse for someone's judgment to be so impaired while drinking they think emailing Bill Simmons, and stating they are drunk as if this gives them "cool points" in the mind of a 40 year old man with two children, is what they should be doing with their time.

Q: You went on record saying that the Lopez/Humphries/multiple first round picks deal for Howard was "unacceptable." If that deal was 30 cents on the dollar, this deal has to be 2 cents on the dollar, right? The Magic got family sized pupu platter deluxe in Afflalo, Harrington, Vukevic, Harkless and 3 protected picks in the 20s.
— Matt Whitaker, Columbus, OH

Allow me to go on record. I like Moe Harkless a lot. Not as much as I like Brad Beal, but I like Moe Harkless a lot lot. I like him as a rookie who needs a year or two to learn to play in the NBA. He is not worth Dwight Howard. Not that Harkless was traded straight up for Howard, but this was not a good trade for the Magic overall. Though the good news is the Magic fans got rid of the Dwight Howard stories that were dominating the coverage of the that's something, right?

I'm just going to start typing. Here are my gut reactions …

Right because I am sure this mailbag was typed straight from his gut and contains absolutely no editing. Bill is just going to start typing his gut instincts, then review what he typed 2-3 times, add in a few jokes, and finally submit the column. It's all just so off-the-cuff.

WINNER: The Lakers Couldn't have played it any more perfectly these past six months: never biting on Orlando's "No, we need Gasol AND Bynum" power play,

Yes, the Lakers played this perfectly, but it also helped the Magic ended up having very little leverage when it came to Howard. Dwight Howard only wanted to play in certain cities and the leading offer on the table was a package built around Kris Humphries-Kardashian and Brook Lopez. So the Lakers didn't really need to start throwing Gasol and Bynum on the table in the trade talks until it was clear there were other serious offers out there which could top an offer of Bynum and Gasol. Bynum or Gasol individually topped the centerpiece of what any other team seemed to offer, so the Lakers didn't need to play anything perfectly. They just saw how desperate the Magic were and figured the price for Howard would decrease.

And as always with the Lakers, it worked out:

I've covered this before. It isn't just the Lakers that have things work out for them. Bill's very own Celtics often have trades work out for them, as do other NBA teams. Bill's bitterness towards the Lakers has caused him to be unable to distinguish between the truth and what he believes to be the truth.

If scientists could create basketball-playing robots from scratch and were asked to create someone to play with Pau Gasol, Kobe Bryant and Nash, basically, they would create Dwight Howard: a ridiculously strong shot blocker/rebounder who can run the floor and doesn't need the ball to be happy. In the span of 3.5 seconds, the Lakers went from "old, slow, can't defend anybody" to "who's stopping us?"

This brings me back to the other point I want to make. Bill has stated over, and over, and over, and over again the 2012 NBA Finals is the template upon which all NBA teams will now be built. He's said it repeatedly. He's stated the athleticism on display in that NBA Finals will be the standard upon which teams will have to meet in order to win an NBA Title. Apparently Bill was under the impression every NBA team needs their very own Durant, LeBron and Wade, because there are so many of those types of guys out there and all.

I said "was under the impression" because Bill changes his mind in this very column, without actually saying, "I'm an idiot who pretends to know more about the NBA then I probably do and stated the NBA was moving in a direction it certainly wasn't moving all because I overreacted to the makeup of the two teams in the 2012 NBA Finals." In fact, Bill claims his readers are the ones who thought the small-ball era was here, which is clearly false.

This brings me to my point. If the 2012 NBA Finals is the template on how teams can win an NBA Title then how can an NBA team with no athletic wing players and a natural center win the NBA Title and be unstoppable? The Lakers aren't athletic enough under Bill's "premature theory that every team needs to be super athletic because one time there was an NBA Finals with super athletic players," yet Bill seems them as an unstoppable team. Funny how that works.

LOSER: Brooklyn If Howard's inexplicable February flip-flop never happened, the Nets would have launched their new stadium with a Howard/Williams duo. Instead, they're headed for a series of second-round playoff exits with one of the least charismatic playoff contenders ever assembled. Will anyone care? Not really.

And apparently no charisma means no wins. I'm fairly certain if you told Bill Simmons that skill is what wins games for an NBA team, he would smack you in the face and call you wrong. Bill believes teams win games if they show attributes in the following order:

1. Give each other a lot of high-fives.
2. Ubuntu. Use it.
3. Appear to like each other.
4. Have charisma.
5. Look like they are having fun on the court.
6. Have a white guy on the bench who waves a towel.
192. Have players with a strong set of skills which causes those players to have talent at playing basketball.

I don't remember anyone complaining about LeBron stacking his Miami team, or choosing to play with his biggest rival over trying to beat him, when we were watching him lay waste to Oklahoma City. We only care about what's happening in the moment.

Really? Really? Really? There was no one saying LeBron stacked his Miami team or criticizing LeBron for choosing the Heat as he made his way to winning his first NBA Title? Bill should check ESPN sometime and find a guy named "Skip Bayless" on the television. Or read an article posted on this thing called "the Internet." There were plenty of people criticizing LeBron as he made his way to winning his first title. Perhaps Bill should read articles that are posted on the Internet sometime and he would find out his assumption is very much incorrect.

That's professional sports in the 21st century — once you reach a certain level of quality, you can walk all over whomever you want without any real repercussions. Remember the Bridesmaids scene when they were trying on wedding dresses and everyone came down with violent diarrhea? Howard was all five bridesmaids and Orlando's fans were the wedding dresses.

Then he shoehorns a pop culture reference in to remind everyone he is incapable of simply stating what he means, rather he has to compare Item X to Item Y in order to show his audience what Item X means. If Bill were a painter, he would paint a picture and then paint another picture in order to show what the first painting was supposed to show or mean.

In April, after the Lakers win 65 games and everyone is getting psyched for a Heat-Lakers Finals, nobody will care that Howard acted like such a big baby. We'll be busy with crap like ranking him against the other great Lakers centers of all time. That's just how sports works.

Don't do this "we" shit. I'll always remember Howard acted like a baby. Of all people, Bill Simmons won't EVER forget how Howard ended up with Lakers. He'll be talking about it in his columns for the next decade at a very minimum. Bill makes "6 for 24" jokes in his columns about Kobe Bryant and the Celtics lost that NBA Finals over two years ago. So for Bill to say "we" will forget about Howards pre-Lakers antics is not only wrong, but Bill is probably the person who will be the one doing the reminding.

I hate it when Bill uses this "we" shit. He acts like he's the Sports Guy, when we all know he isn't the Sports Guy. He isn't my buddy who talks about sports like me and is just like me. He's a wealthy, pop-culture spewing, self-involved fan of Boston sports who managed to get a job with ESPN and has done very well for himself. He isn't like me and my friends. He's like me and my friends if I hated my friends and their professional success caused them to become know-it-all jerks who name-drop anyone slightly famous they know.

WINNER: Steve Nash Went from playing with 11 bench guys on a lottery team to playing with Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant on a title favorite. Remember SNL's "Orgasm Guy" sketches with Rob Schneider? I think that was Steve Nash this morning when he woke up and found out about this trade.

Remember that SNL skit about Debbie Downer? It's not at all related to what I am saying, but let's pretend it is for the sake of my pop culture reference.

Important note: Most human beings move to Los Angeles for what they assume will be a short period of time, feel like they're on vacation for a few months … and eventually, they come to grips with the fact that they're probably never leaving because it's 75 degrees every day and there are 10,000 things to do in Los Angeles.

It is an "important note" for Bill to remind us he loves where he lives. This is absolutely crucial to this trade. Because Dwight Howard can't afford a house in pretty much any city in the entire United States he wants to live in. So if he hated Los Angeles he would forced to live there and build a house, and only one house, in that city and in no other city. It's very important we know that everything Bill sees and does is great.

I am one of those people. Apparently, so is Dwight Howard.

The conclusion I immediately drew upon hearing this trade occurred was that Los Angeles must be a great place to live. I didn't think that Howard wanted to play with Nash and Kobe. Nor did I think Howard accepted the trade because the Lakers weren't giving up Gasol in the trade. No, I just thought of how great Los Angeles is and that must be why Howard agreed to play for the Lakers.

We'll never know this for sure, but I don't think he would have pushed for a Los Angeles trade if he hadn't lived there this summer. There has to be a connection.

No, there doesn't have to be a connection. These two events can be completely unrelated. The Lakers are one of 30 NBA teams and they have Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and Pau Gasol on that team. Maybe Howard wanted to play there because he liked the Lakers team and the idea of playing for the Lakers franchise. I'm sure it was the city of Los Angeles which is the only reason Howard agreed to the trade. Howard hated the idea of playing with three All-Star players until he saw how awesome Rodeo Drive truly was.

Had I been running the Magic, there would have been a zero percent chance — repeat: zero percent chance — that I was trading Howard unless I was getting Bynum back AND dumping Turkoglu's contract.

Bill Simmons not-so-covertly applies for the job as Orlando Magic GM. If Bill was running the Magic no other NBA owner or GM would talk to him because he would constantly talk up trades and say shit like, "Who says 'no' to that offer?"

What Bill also fails to see, and I'm not defending the Magic here, is they didn't have a ton of options. Howard was unhappy and eventually he was going to have all the leverage. He could leave and the Magic would get nothing for him after the 12-13 season or he would be a distraction the entire year until he finally got traded during the season. I do think the Magic could have gotten more for him than they did, but once the summer ends and the Magic lose more leverage when Howard's free agency gets closer, I don't know if they could have gotten Bynum and dumped Turkoglu's contract.

Without those two things, I'm just keeping Howard, letting the soap opera drag on and on for a few more months, then hoping I could do better in February.

Yeah, "hoping" you could do better. There's a plan that screams "I am incredibly competent at my job."

And guess what? I'm pretty sure that, six months from now, Philly, Denver and the Lakers would all still want to do a four-team trade in which all of them made out great and the Magic made out like crap.

Would they? Bill has no way of knowing this. He is making assumptions only to help prove the point he wants to make. Maybe the Lakers don't want to trade Bynum in February. Maybe Bynum gets hurt this season and the Magic don't want to trade for him. Quite a few of Bill's brilliant ideas rely on assumptions, which he will only hope come true.

WINNER: Kendrick Perkins Remember when everyone was saying, "A year from now, OKC will just amnesty Perkins so they can pay Ibaka and Harden?" Not so fast! Getting rid of Howard's Personal Kryptonite when Howard is suddenly playing for your biggest conference rival isn't the best career move. (And you thought Miami's shift to small ball had rendered the Perkins Era obsolete … )

No! You thought the shift to small ball had rendered the Perkins Era obsolete. Your readers don't automatically believe every fucking thing you type. They don't believe the Ewing Theory is true, they don't believe you are qualified to be an NBA GM, they don't believe your daughter is truly magical and they don't believe there was a shift to small-ball in the NBA. Those are things that Bill Simmons believes, not his readers. I have been saying Bill's insistence that the NBA was moving to small-ball is bullshit and I am sure plenty of other people have thought the same thing. Bill Simmons thought the Perkins Era was obsolete, his readers just laughed at him.

(Except for the SimmonsClones though. Bill can do no wrong in their eyes. They are probably throwing their arms back and saying, "I certainly did think the Perkins Era was over. Boy, I'm stupid. I'm glad Bill is around to correct my own misconceptions.")

LOSER: The Rockets After getting demolished by The Veto, they spent the last nine months gathering enough assets to land Howard or Bynum and hoping for a situation exactly like the one that played out this week: you know, Orlando finally panicking and needing a third team for their mega-trade. What happened? Philly and Denver snuck in there, leaving Houston GM Daryl Morey with the permanent McKayla's Not Impressed Face.

So let's kill Daryl Morey for believing that Howard is going to go to Houston over Los Angeles or New York. Let's do it. Because quite frankly if the Suns sold all of their assets to get Bynum or Howard, Bill would be pointing out no one wants to play in Phoenix when they can play in a sexier NBA city. So Bill will kill Morey for thinking Howard wanted to play in Houston, right? I mean, Houston wasn't even Howard's first choice in the state of Texas. That was Dallas. Bill has to kill Daryl Morey for believing Howard wanted to play for the Rockets.

So, can you kill Morey for how it played out? Not for going all-in for a chance at Bynum or Howard, that's for sure.

We can't forget that Daryl Morey is Bill Simmons' friend. Friends of Bill get a pass and receive no criticism from Bill. Of course when the Indiana Pacers clear cap room in seven years to get a shot at signing Anthony Davis, Bill is going to be mocking them for actually believing Davis will play in Indiana over another sexier city. So yes, you can kill Daryl Morey. It is somewhat justified.

He wanted to be on the board if those two chess pieces ever moved … and by the way, they moved. He just didn't get them. But if you wanted to kill the Rockets for (a) turning Goran Dragic into Jeremy Lin, (b) recklessly amnestying Luis Scola when they didn't have to do so, and (c) caring so much about cap space that they amnestied Scola during the same month that they shelled out $25 million to Omer Asik … I mean … (let's just move on).

Even when Bill knocks the Rockets for their offseason moves, he does so passive-aggressively. Howard wasn't coming to the Rockets, and mostly Howard wasn't re-signing with the Rockets, as long as the Nets or Lakers were in play. Bill needs to be real about this. Andrew Bynum? Maybe, but I don't know if Andrew Bynum is the type of player a team should clear all cap space in order to acquire. He's talented, but there are a lot of "buts" that go along with him.

Fear No. 2: They're building around two of the league's moodiest and most enigmatic players (Bynum and Turner). That one worries me. You can get away with one enigma (see: Rondo, Rajon), but if you have two, suddenly there's a risk that they'll be hanging out and enabling each other's moodiness OR trying to out-enigma each other.

So does this mean the Lakers could be in trouble because they are building around Howard and Kobe, with a little side of Ron Artest thrown in? Of course not! Bill's theories only apply when he wants or needs them to apply.

The Laker fans love their team, but they also live near the Pacific Ocean in a place that's 75 degrees every day. Tends to keep everything in perspective.

Again, Bill wants to emphasize that Los Angeles is a great place to live. He can not overstate or talk about this enough.

The two craziest, most overreactionary, life-or-death sports cities in America are probably Philly and Boston — because of their cold weather, because of their provincialism, because of their respective tortured histories,

I'd love to hear about this tortured history of Boston teams again. Five Super Bowls since 2001 for the Patriots, 17 championships for the Celtics, two World Series wins in the last decade for the Red Sox...just based solely on the Bruins and the Celtics alone Boston fans haven't ever been tortured, no matter how much Bill continues to further this false narrative. The Bruins were successful for a good period of time and the Celtics have more championships than any other NBA team. How can Bill say Boston is tortured with a straight face?

LOSERS: Miami, Oklahoma City So much for the small-ball era. This is going to be verrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrry interesting.

There never was a small-ball era. Bill Simmons made this era up and now he is pretending like there was an era where small ball was played, rather than there being one NBA Finals where small-ball was played one time between two NBA teams.

TO BE DETERMINED: Kobe Bryant Guess who has a chance to pass MJ's six rings now?

Guess who suddenly has a legitimate chance to go down as the best Laker ever?

Guess who basically won the lottery by ending up with Shaq and Howard in the same career?

You are supposed to not give the answer until after you ask the questions, not tell the answer and then ask the questions after you have identified who the answer to the questions are.

The Lakers nailed six franchise-altering moves over the past eight years, and that's not including last month's Nash trade, when they somehow convinced a Pacific Division rival that absolutely hates them to hand over their most iconic player for some meaningless picks and cap space.

Here are the franchise-altering moves. Really it can be summed up in four moves, but Bill makes the last move not to trade Bynum or Gasol into it's very own moves in order to convince us he has a really, really good point.

Picking Kobe over Shaq in 2004.

Kobe was the best player in the NBA at the time. This wasn't the most difficult of decisions, even at the time. Kobe was younger too.

Keeping Kobe in 2007 when just about everyone else would have panic-traded him.

Again, you don't just trade one of the best players in the NBA simply because he doesn't like the makeup of the team.

Stealing Gasol from Memphis in 2008.

As opposed to the fair deal the Sonics got for Ray Allen of course.

Making a 2011 deal for Chris Paul that, in retrospect, would have been a hijacking if it hadn't been vetoed. Not panicking after the CP3 trade fell through and keeping Bynum and Gasol over blowing things up. And now, waiting out this Howard saga until they got exactly the trade they wanted.

This should all be one move. The deal got vetoed so the Lakers didn't panic and got the trade they wanted.

(By the way, I think I'm just going to stay in London. I don't want to come home.

Feel free to stay there.