Thursday, May 31, 2012

4 comments What Gimmick Column Idea Does Bill Simmons Have Today?

I feel like every Bill Simmons article has some sort of gimmick to it. Maybe I'm the only one who feels this way, but his work has become fairly predictable. We know we are going to get a running diary of the NBA Draft, a retro-diary or two of a Celtics playoff game, followed by a column about the Red Sox in mid-August, which will be followed by an NFL Preview in late August using quotes from a movie. These type of things happen when you don't give a shit anymore about your writing. Bill has given out awards for the 2011-2012 NBA postseason. This is the article I was working on when Bill devastated our senses with his "Sports and Magic Children" column. So this column is a few weeks old, which sort of irritates me, but then it also doesn't. Regular fans Bill believes himself to be a thoughtful NBA expert who probably should have a General Manager job by now. The benefit of a few weeks has allowed us to see Bill may not quite be the expert he wants us to see him as being.

Ragged! Gimpy! Tempestuous! Hard-fought! Creatively confusing! Strangely compelling! No, I'm not talking about television's upfront week

Whew! Good stuff. The Hollywood-sports jokes never get old. By the way, Bill knows what went on at television's upfront week because Jimmy Kimmel was there. He knows Jimmy Kimmel by the way. Has he ever mentioned this before?

Yeah, you're reading that correctly — it's the lowest-scoring postseason since 2004, you know, the spring that caused the NBA to change the freaking rules to encourage more offense.

Oh yeah, I had forgotten the NBA chose to use unnecessary italic---I mean changed the rules after the 2004 postseason.

I would argue one of the biggest culprits of this ugly postseason are the Boston Celtics. Except for last night's game, I can only watch the games with one eye open. It usually isn't an offensive showcase we see from the Celtics.

The overwhelming evidence confirms what you've been thinking these past three weeks. Scoring is down because 2012's playoff teams aren't as good at scoring. (Good lord, I just turned into Joe Theismann again. Hold on, I have to take a pill.)

Is it a pill that transports you back in time to 2002 when your work was funny, creative, inspired, not riddled with you patting yourself on the back and name-dropping celebrities as often as possible? If so, great. If not, don't bother with the pill. That is unless it is a cyanide which case I don't advocate suicide, and I definitely don't think you should do it, but there have been times I've started punching myself in the cheek hoping I have one in there while reading your columns.

Last time (post-2004), the fixes were relatively easy: They catered to perimeter players by cracking down on hand-checks (opening up the slash-and-kick game), and they sped up the game (just a little) by shortening the 10-second rule and restarting shot clocks at 14 after violations. This time around? I don't know what you'd change short of adding power plays.

Power plays. I'm not sure I heard you.

You heard me —

I'm not sure I did hear you. That idea is so creative (not really) and exciting (incredibly stupid) I don't know if I did hear you. Please use exclamation points to accentuate your point in lieu of using italics to add emphasis.

power plays!

Power plays! And here I thought a hamburger made with razors that look pickles was the worst idea I had heard all day.

If you earn a technical or commit a "Flagrant 1," you have to sit at the scorer's table for 75 seconds while your team plays shorthanded. If you commit a "Flagrant 2," your team has to play shorthanded for three minutes. If two opponents get double technicals, both teams play four-on-four for 60 seconds.


There is no need for me to think about this. This is simply not a good idea.

You're right, that's ridiculous. Please, everyone, start making more shots. There's a reason nobody wants to watch 79-76 games … it's called the WNBA.

Oh yeah, the WNBA sucks. It's played by women and women are only good for sexual recreational activities and as a group of people who can be mocked in sports columns when discussing how out of touch women are concerning sports and the world in general.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a column about "Footnote Titles" — when opposing fans pick apart a team's title by saying, "Yeah, but … " and point to an especially fortunate break that helped them win.

This would be the column where Bill Simmons decided to stop trolling the Lakers fan base and troll as many fan bases as possible in one column. It seems during that specific week Bill was craving excessive amounts of attention.

We might be headed there with the 2012 Spurs, who have been quietly closing in on "Best Team of the Duncan/Popovich era" status for about 10 weeks now.

This is still true. While I rip Bill a bit later for some of his other predictions I do try to be fair when he makes a still-relevant point.

Even if Miami–Oklahoma City is the Pipe Dream Finals (just from an entertainment standpoint), no pure basketball fan would refuse a Celtics-Spurs matchup:

I'm a Celtics fan and if the Celtics don't increase the quality of their offense in the next week I would not want to see this. There comes a point where the idea of seeing them win games by scoring 80 points just becomes excruciating to watch. So if the Celtics could play every game in the 90's I may be more inclined to agree, but with Allen and Pierce hurt it can be tough watching them play.

an old-school battle featuring seven Hall of Famers, two elite coaches, and two proud teams that love playing together, and even better, know how to play together?

Whereas, apparently the Miami Heat are fucking clueless on how to play together. In fact, the Heat barely even know each others names. Only the Spurs and Celtics know how to play the game of basketball as a team.

Unfortunately for the whole "they play as a team and know each other really well" crap Bill is burning our eyes with, the Heat currently have a much better duo in Wade and James than the Celtics have in a team. It's great to play together as a team, but this is irrelevant if this team can't beat another team in a 7 game playoff series.

when you remember what decade we're in — here's a reminder, in case you forgot — the familiarity of that Finals matchup would make it more special than anything.

Maybe to Bill Simmons this would be special. Unfortunately, and I don't want to shock Bill when I write this, but he isn't the only person in the world who likes the NBA. Many other people don't want to see the hobbled Celtics in the NBA Finals simply because it is familiar. Many people probably feel a Heat-Thunder or Heat-Spurs series would be really special as well.

The Garnett/Doc/Pierce/Rondo/Allen Celtics have been together for five years; the Duncan/Popovich/Ginobili/Parker Spurs have been together twice as long.

Boston fans adore this particular Celtics team because we know them.

Can someone please prevent this guy from using italics for an entire column? It annoys me.

One of the many reasons I don't understand why SimmonsClones love his writing is that he writes 3-4 columns every year convincing us all how great this Celtics team truly is. Do you really want to read that many columns in a year about how great Bill's teams are? As I have stated a few other times, Bill is convinced his audience really cares about the things he enjoys. It was fun when Bill wrote like a normal fan of sports would write and we could relate to him. At this point, it is hard to relate to what he is saying because he still whines when things don't go his team's way...and his favorite teams have had a great amount of success over the last decade.

It also doesn't help that Bill believes he speaks for an entire fan base. I don't love this Celtics team because I know them. I love them because they are the Celtics. I would love them more if they had higher-quality players coming off the bench, if Keyon Dooling or Ryan Hollins weren't involved in the game at all, and if I didn't feel like Bill wasn't trying to actively make me hate my own favorite NBA team. I really wish he would stop saying things like, "Boston fans..." like he speaks for the entire fan base. He doesn't and he should stop believing he does. He's just a fan with a larger and more influential forum than other Boston Celtic fans have. This doesn't make him more important or the voice of Celtics fans everywhere. It actually tends to make people hate Celtic fans.

it's gotten to the point that when Rondo drives into the paint and pulls over Garnett's defender, we start reacting to the alley-oop lob to Garnett even before Rondo releases it. I'm sure Spurs fans know exactly what I mean.


I get the feeling Bill's parents spent an inordinate amount of time telling him how special he was when he was a child.

It's what the Spurs and Celtics managed to build, it's what Oklahoma City has been trying to build … and as the Heat is learning, it's something that can't be thrown into a microwave and cooked like a frozen burrito.

Yet throwing it into a microwave and cooking it like a frozen burrito is how the Celtics won their 2008 title. The Celtics made two trades and put together three Hall of Fame players onto one team and it won them a title that very year. Oh these facts always getting in the way of Bill's contentions. It's so annoying how reality doesn't always mesh with the narrative Bill wants to further.

This may be a good time to bring up Bill Simmons' "Fire Doc Rivers" column from 2006. I guess Bill didn't subscribe to the "building and frozen burrito" line of thought at the time. It's funny how this "building and frozen burrito" theory requires two additional Hall of Famers to make it work best.

As for everything we've seen so far, I thought we'd hand out some postseason awards.

The John Travolta/Kelly Preston Award for "Rockiest Marriage That Seems Destined for Divorce"

To Dwyane Wade and Erik Spoelstra, the latter of whom attempted to shrug off Wade's Game 3 hissy fit by playing the "it's basketball, you get mad at each other sometimes" card.

This is a knee-jerk reaction that eventually proved to be wrong. Wade and Spoelstra may still not get along, but they are winning games right now.

Normally I'd agree with this —

Normally Bill would agree with this but this is the Miami Heat that Bill is talking about and he absolutely wants to make this an issue because he doesn't like the team. Of course, it didn't seem to be that big of an issue in retrospect, but that doesn't prevent Bill from having a knee-jerk reaction any reasonable NBA expert would have.

everyone thinks Spo is gone if they lose,

"Everyone" thinks this. Ask Jimmy Kimmel, he'll tell you.

Second, if I'm a Miami fan, here's what would really worry me:

I'll spare you the story, but Juwan Howard and Udonis Haslem moved too quickly to pull Wade from Spoelstra during this argument. Because Bill Simmons can read minds, as well create bullshit theories that not-so-concidentally helps to prove his point, this means these fights between Spoelstra and Wade happen all the time and the Heat are screwed.

Ever since the 2010-11 season started, they've been a three-man team with genuine instability at the center, wing, point guard, backup big man and backup wing spots and that's never really changed. Only the excuses keep changing. And on top of everything else, they relied on their top three to dangerous degrees — minutes, scoring loads, usage rates, crunch-time plays, you name it — in a league where anyone can go down at any time.

And of course Ray Allen starting and playing in the playoffs for 40+ minutes with a clearly bum ankle that is affecting his entire game is not an example of the Celtics relying too much on him. See, the Celtics had an injury to Avery Bradley. The same Avery Bradley the Celtics probably weren't counting on to have as big of an impact this season as he ended up having. Not to mention the Celtics have absolutely no one outside of Kevin Garnett who can score down low, but he's young so I'm sure that isn't an issue. Garnett had to play 45 minutes last night and Rondo had to play the entire game and overtime period. Again, this IS NOT an example of the Celtics being too reliant on these players. Not at all.

So you can't tell me Wade's Game 3 meltdown didn't mean anything.

It ended up not meaning anything. I can tell you this.

The Kris Jenner Award for "Best Impersonation of an Overbearing Momager During the Playoffs"

Normally you'd just pencil in Ray Allen's mother here, but no! Here comes Pam McGee charging down the stretch! AND SHE TAKES THE LEAD! AND SHE'S GONNA WIN IT!!!!!!! I'm actually going through Pam McGee withdrawal in Round 2 — couldn't we make her a sideline reporter or something? She always seemed like she was one bad call on McGee away from charging onto the court, grabbing one of the referees by their earlobe and making them apologize to her son as JaVale says, "No, Momma, no!"

(the only sound to be heard is the sound of crickets)

Maybe Bill's magic daughter can bring his columns some good luck by helping him write some funnier jokes.

The Theo Ratliff's Expiring Contract Award for "Most Times Per Minute That Someone's Name Is About to Be Ejaculated by's Trade Machine"

Bill just wrote the word "ejaculated" in a sentence. He's thinks and acts just like me!

Oh, and just in case you worried that performance was a fluke, Harden repeated it against the Lakers in Game 2. That spawned an "Is Harden an original prototype?" e-mail thread with me and two die-hard NBA buddies — we finally decided that he has a chance (repeat: a chance) to become Ginobili 2.0, an even more athletic/durable/potent lefty two-guard who gets better when it matters. It's in play.

Well since Bill and his two diehard NBA buddies have decided this is in play then I guess it is official. No need for further debate apparently.

This brings me back to a point I make only every other paragraph. How is it that Bill's overly-loyal fans like him so much? If you knew a person who name-dropped famous people he knew, considered his opinion the ultimate and final opinion, was gleefully misogynist at times, and had an enormous ego...would you like this person? I would bet not, yet his fans eat up every single word he types. I'm vexed.

With all due respect to Ramon Sessions's agent (Jared Karnes), I'm giving this one to Steve Novak's agent (the likable Mark Bartelstein),

This is a little hint to his readers that Bill knows Mark Bartelstein. This is an example of Bill covertly name-dropping.

The Another 48 Hrs. Award for "Worst Title Defense"

What rarely gets mentioned here: Had they convinced Chandler to take a little less to stay, they could have pursued Deron Williams this summer (with Dirk and Chandler as the bait) and maybe even used Chandler as trade bait for a sign-and-trade for Howard (either in February or this summer, which wouldn't have been any more callous than how they treated Chandler, anyway). And they could have actually defended their title.

This shows how little thought Bill Simmons puts into his ideas are the Mavs going to sign Deron Williams after the 2012-2013 season and compete for the 2012 NBA Title with him, Dirk, and Dwight Howard on the roster? I'm pretty sure it is impossible to pursue a player after the season is over and somehow have that same player on the roster for the previous season's NBA Finals. So under Bill's genius idea to rebuild the Mavericks they would have Dirk and Dwight Howard to defend the title and then would add Deron Williams after the season. So they would have to defend their title without Deron Williams.

Not to mention, it took Bill Simmons about a third of a column to stop believing his whole "You can't simply make a great team that plays together by putting them in the microwave like a burrito" theory. Bill thinks Dallas could throw together Dirk, Deron Williams, and Dwight Howard after this year and have an immediate title contender. I'm guessing like most of Bill's theories this "burrito-microwave" theory comes and goes depending on when he needs it in order to prove him right.

Am I the only one who finds it ironic that Bill Simmons spends 25% of this column talking about how great teams who play together are made by great teams that stay together for an extended period of time, yet he spends the other 75% of the column thinking of trade ideas that will immediately help NBA teams compete for an NBA Title? The Heat have been together for two years and they haven't learned to play as a team yet, so how will the Mavericks have Williams/Howard/Dirk for one season and win an NBA Title? So either Bill doesn't even believe his own theory about teams building chemistry only over the long haul or he is just making things up as he goes along.

Here's where a Mavs fan might say, "I don't care, we won the title." Yeah, but you also won the "One of the Worst Title Defenses Ever" title.

Here's where a Mavs fan might say, "That's not a real title and you just made it up" and then walk away.

And by the way … why are we so convinced that NBA free agents are so desperate to play in Dallas again? Because they want to play with Nowitzki … who's about to turn 34 and cross the 45,000-minute career barrier?

I don't know. Maybe for the same reason you seem convinced Deron Williams and Dwight Howard would join the Mavericks through a trade to play with Dirk Nowitzki. I'm not convinced Bill has put a lot of thought into this section of the column.

Because they want to play for Cuban … who didn't take care of Nash in 2004 or Chandler in 2011 when both guys wanted to stay? You don't think players around the league noticed how Cuban handled Chandler's situation?

And again, you believe Deron Williams would sign with the Mavericks after the 2011-2012 season despite these exact same points you are making about why players wouldn't want to play for Cuban. Bill is the one convinced potential free agent Deron Williams would come to Dallas to play with Howard and Dirk, but also not convinced free agents will want to play for Dallas. I can't reconcile these two points of view coming from one person.

You know that iPhone commercial with Sam Jackson in which he keeps asking Siri questions? After a Phoenix reader named Patrick e-mailed three weeks ago, "Does anyone else keep waiting for Samuel Jackson to ask Siri, 'What does Marcellus Wallace look like? WHAT DOES MARCELLUS WALLACE LOOK LIKE??

Nope. No one else wonders this at all. But hey, you appear to have gotten Bill's attention so you can consider your life complete now.

Then Bill has a semi-skit about a conversation with Vincent Vega and Jules talking to Siri. It's hilarious. Don't bother reading it. Take my word for it. It's a riot.

Here were the other villains of the 2012 playoffs so far: the fire extinguisher that assaulted Amar'e; Derrick Rose's ACL; the ABC producer who didn't cut away from Baron Davis's knee in time (giving us five extra seconds to look at Baron's obliterated kneecap, which almost looked like it had five knuckles covering it; Shaq; Shaq again; my positive Clippers column last week (which somehow injured both Chris Paul and Blake Griffin that same night and ruined the Clippers' season);

I would normally think a comment like this is tongue-in-cheek, but I know Bill Simmons well enough to know he probably actually believes his writing can have an impact on a basketball game.

Digging deeper, the biggest NBA knee injuries ever were probably Elgin Baylor (Game 1, 1965 playoffs, was never really the same), Amar'e Stoudemire (the microfracture surgery that knocked him out for the 2005-06 season), Gus Johnson (ask your dad or granddad about him),

Or I could ask Bill's magic daughter who Gus Johnson is. I'm sure she would know.

Ron Harper (young Ron was better than anyone remembers now),

It's a typical Bill Simmons comment that is hard to argue with. He makes a blanket statement Harper was better than "anyone" remembers now. It's hard to argue with this unprovable statement...but I will try. I remember Ron Harper as the best player in the NBA. Top that Simmons!

To Oklahoma City possibly sweeping the Lakers … which, of course, will lead to the inevitable Bynum trade (for a one-year Dwight Howard rental) and the inevitable Gasol trade (for multiple pieces), as well as Mike Brown's inevitable firing, Phil Jackson's inevitable return, and everything else that will probably work out in their favor because this is what happens historically for the Lakers.

As a Celtics fan I'm not sure Bill can really say this without sounding a bit like a hypocrite. The Celtics have traditionally had a few things fall in their favor. Rondo fell to the Celtics at #21 in the 2006 draft, the 80's Celtics dynasty was built with the terrible Parish/McHale for Joe Barry Carroll trade and the Celtics were lucky enough to have Kevin McHale in the Minnesota front office when the Kevin Garnett trade proposal was made by Danny Ainge. Not to mention it just so happens Pierce/Allen/Garnett immediately got along as teammates while Rondo stepped up to become the facilitator the team needed win a title in the first year the "Big 3" played together.

Yes, the Lakers historically have things work out in the favor and this never happens for Bill's favorite team.

The John Bender Award for "Best Unfinished Story That's Probably Even Better If You Don't Know How It Finishes"

Oh yes, a "Breakfast Club" reference. Topical and humorous.

The funniest moment of the playoffs: when Barkley joked about an injured Caron Butler getting dressed so quickly during a Memphis-Clippers game that he took a "Cliff Robinson Shower," then Kenny and Shaq laughing knowingly, like they knew exactly what he meant … you know, like Cliff Robinson's showers were infamous within NBA circles. Did all three play with Cliff before? Were Cliff's showers so legendary within NBA circles that it didn't matter if you played with him or not? Did he shower and get dressed without drying off? Did Cliff have terrible B.O. — in other words, he didn't shower, and that was the joke? And which Cliff Robinson were they discussing here? Was it 1980s Cliff Robinson (Cliff 1.0) or 1990s Cliff Robinson (Cliff 2.0)?

What can Bill do about this issue? Hey! He just remembered he is famous and can call Charles Barkley. Cue shameless name-drop right.........NOW!

but if that's the case, then why did Shaq laugh so knowingly, when Cliff 1.0 retired in 1992, the year before Shaq entered the league? I thought about calling TNT and asking Barkley directly, then I realized something.

What did you realize? You are being a douchebag who name-drops in an effort to remind your readers that you indeed have access to talk to Charles Barkley at any point you want? What I love about this name-drop is there are so many douche-like qualities to it. Here is everything Bill is reminding us about that comes off douche-like:

-He could call TNT and have a way of speaking to Charles Barkley.

-He would be able to talk to Charles Barkley directly by making this call to TNT.

-Bill knows Charles Barkley so Barkley would take this phone call.

-Charles Barkley would talk to Bill directly.

-Charles Barkley would not only talk to Bill directly, but take the time to answer this meaningless question for Bill.

-Bill could indeed do this, but he chooses not to. So not only does Bill have the power to talk to Charles Barkley directly, he is so powerful he is choosing to not do this...because he has the choice to do or not do something, which shows his real power.

This is all what encompasses this name-drop. It's pretty unbearable to read.

It's more fun NOT knowing.

And yet, you still felt the need to remind us you could know if you wanted to...which you don't want to...but if you did want to know, you could find out...but only if you wanted to find out, which you don't...but the option is always there.

The Diane Lane Award for "Most Uncanny Ability to Totally Defy One's Age"

We're splitting this award between Garnett and Duncan, both of whom are playing better than they ever have in years

Years? Please repeat this because I am mentally deficient and don't understand what you are saying.

— repeat, YEARS —

Thanks. I wish one day I could write like Bill. Unfortunately this isn't possible, because I graduated from junior high quite a few years ago.

In my 2011 NBA Playoff Preview I wrote, "Here's the reality: The Spurs were always Tim Duncan's team. Once he stopped being the best player in every playoff series, they stopped winning titles." Suddenly, they're looking like Duncan's team again, and just like Duncan, they haven't looked this good in five years. You could say the same for Garnett: The ceiling of the best possible Celtics performance is the highest it's been since January 2009, and only because of the way he's playing on both ends.

So Bill is taking pride in telling us that the play of a Hall of Fame center/forward is crucial to a team's ability to win an NBA Title? How is this even close to being news? If a Hall of Fame player in his mid-30's is playing like he did in his prime, this would absolutely and obviously have a positive impact on the team as a whole.

BREAKING: If LeBron James and Dwayne Wade play at their highest possible level, it will be hard to beat the Heat. These two guys are the key to the Heat winning an NBA Title. Now everyone believe me to be a genius and have made an excellent point that is not only revolutionary, but also mind-blowing.

Now they're flying around like it's 2003 again? Do you want to make the "Did they charter a plane to Germany over the All-Star break?" joke, or should I take it?

Nah, you should probably stop writing at this point before someone gives you The Adam Sandler Award for "Beating the Same Kind of Jokes into the Ground and Still Inexplicably Having Success, Thereby Proving Indeed How Stupid the Public Can Be at Times."

(Let's just end this column before I jinx this whole thing.)

Right. Because you have that ability.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

4 comments Bleacher Report Lowers the Bar Further

Usually when I read Bleacher Report, I read some decent writing that isn't spectacularly bad or spectacularly good, but a lot of what is on the site consists of poorly researched, not well-thought out editorials. That's what dominates my mind when I think of the site and that's pretty much what we have for today. Let me digress for a minute if you will.

There are already 2012-2013 college basketball way too early preseason polls on the Internet. I have a really hard time ignoring these polls. I think preseason polls in themselves are stupid and there shouldn't be an official poll in college football until 3 weeks into the season. Me being who I am, I absolutely can't ignore these college basketball polls no matter how hard I try. It's nearly impossible for me to do so. I'm easily baited like that. Way too early preseason polls generally have two major faults in my opinion:

1. They overrate what just occurred in the NCAA Tournament. This isn't done intentionally of course, but it's natural to pay greater attention to a team's latest game. That's why a UConn team that lost its best player was ranked in the Top 10 of 2011-2012 preseason polls.

2. They overrate the impact of incoming freshmen on a team. It may sound crazy to say this coming off a year where freshmen led the University of Kentucky to a national title, and they are the exception, but a team will generally get a boost in ranking because they have a good recruiting class coming in. There are talented freshmen every year, but many times the poll will overrate the impact incoming freshmen will have on the team.

For examples of these team faults, take a look at the way too early preseason poll from CollegeBasketballTalk. I'm not denying some of these teams in the poll are correct. Overall you do see a trend of some teams being overranked based on these two faults I described above.

Indiana is #1 overall based on their performance last year and five freshmen who will handle "depth and athleticism." Indiana has a really good class coming in, but they have zero top 25 recruits and only three of their guys are in ESPN's Top 100 rankings. So yes, it is a good class, but they are still freshmen and not considered an elite freshmen class. In two years, could this be a great Indiana class that will form an elite team? Of course, it could very well happen, but Indiana's fate next year lies in how this past year's current team develops and what roles these freshmen are able to take on to help the team. This Hoosiers freshmen class will most likely help the 2012-2013 Hoosiers team become elite rather than be the reason the team has become elite.

N.C. State is #4 in the poll. This is an N.C. State team that was on the bubble until the very minute the NCAA Tourney pairings were announced this year. They were a fairly inconsistent team all year and weren't even really the 4th best team in a weak ACC. They make a Sweet 16 run, have three excellent freshmen come in, all of a sudden they are a Top 5 team. Funny how that happens isn't it? I'm not sure this means N.C. State really is a Top 5 team. They are still returning the same team that was an inconsistent bubble team until the end of the season and freshmen aren't exactly known for providing a consistent effort on a nightly basis. So talent wise they will be of great use, but I can see this team still being somewhat of a mystery. So while I think this is a talented N.C. State team, I'm not completely convinced the NCAA Tournament run by the Wolfpack will be replicated over a full season. But hey, they have a good recruiting class coming in and they won two games in the NCAA Tourney so they get moved up in the minds of the college basketball experts.

I'm not going to go through every single one. You get my point. It even occurred to me this happened before the 2011-2012 season. Here are two 2011-2012 preseason polls. The teams that were missed in this poll, why were they missed? Let's look at a couple. First, let's look at UConn.

Outlook: The loss of Kemba Walker hurts, obviously. But Jim Calhoun still has a roster more talented from top to bottom than the roster that won last season's national championship. Lamb could be the Big East Player of the Year, and Drummond, a late and surprising addition, has all the physical tools to dominate at the college level and challenge UK's Davis for the top spot in next June's NBA Draft.

So they are going to be good because they won the national title last year and they have a good freshman coming in. It sounds logical, but it also ignores that UConn wasn't a great team for the entire 2010-2011 season until they caught fire and (deservedly) won the national title. So an above average team lost its best player and added a talented freshmen and they move to being a Top 5 team for the 2011-2012 season. It was a bit of an assumption at the time that Andre Drummond could step in and dominate with Jeremy Lamb taking over the role as main scorer. This UConn team never quite put it all together, which in retrospect should not surprise us all much. Sure, it's easy to see this stuff in retrospect, but I think this is a lesson we can use to learn for the upcoming year too.

2nd year SG Jeremy Lamb is a budding superstar, surrounded by ferocious rebounder Alex Oriakhi, and Shabazz Napier and Roscoe Smith from the perimeter. Coach Calhoun decided to return and brings with him an outstanding freshman class led by potential #1 Draft pick Andre Drummond, highly touted SF DeAndre Daniels, and PG Ryan Boatright.

Again, this team won the national title the year before, only lost their best player, but add in talented freshmen. Winning combo, right? Unfortunately, for UConn fans it wasn't a winning combo.

Arizona had just come off a NCAA Tourney run and was bringing in (wait for it...) a great recruiting class,

Outlook: Sean Miller lost the No. 2 pick in last year's draft, Derrick Williams, but he has plenty of pieces back and welcomes in a strong freshman class, led by the backcourt of Turner and Johnson.

Everyone from that NCAA Tourney team returns and a strong recruiting class. Sounds like a great deal, right? What can go wrong with a strong recruiting class of freshmen? Other than we have no idea how they will adapt to the college game of course and the team its best player of course.

After suffering heavy losses due to graduation, transfers, or Derrick Williams leaving early for the NBA, many would think Coach Miller would be in for a long year. But thanks to a Top 5 rated recruiting class led by out of this world PG prospect Josiah Turner, elite SG Nick Johnson, and imposing big men Angelo Chol and Sidiki Johnson, many are calling the Cats the Kentucky of the West.

Here comes talk of those freshmen again. It's almost like writers forget these freshmen often play like freshmen. Arizona has another great recruiting class this year and are being highly ranked in some way too early rankings. They may meet these high expectations this year, but I know one Pac-10 team that won't...

Now for UCLA, who was ranked #13 in one way too early preseason poll,

After losing another two underclassmen(Honeycutt and Lee) early to the NBA, it would appear that the Bruins would have another mediocre year. That’s not the case since Coach Howland always recruits well and returns 8 of his top 10 scorers in addition to finally having the use of once highly touted Wear twins, who transferrred from UNC one year ago. 300lb imposing center Josh Smith, along with the underrated Reeves Nelson, and the Wears wil solidify the frontcourt, while the returning Lazeric Jones, Tyler Lamb, and one of the nation’s best freshman SG’s Norman Powell will bolster the perimeter.

This seemed silly even at the time. The Wear twins couldn't crack UNC's rotation when they were that Top 10 team, but they are supposed to lead UCLA to becoming the #13 team just a year after they transfer? Logically, that doesn't make sense to me. Of course, the Bruins do have that freshman, Normal Powell, that will help so much.

As far as this year goes, UCLA is highly ranked based simply on the fact they have Shabazz Muhammad, Tony Parker and Kyle Anderson coming in. This is a 19-14 team who is adding three freshmen, who will transform them into a Top 10 caliber team. I'm sorry if I don't believe this quite yet. UCLA already has chemistry issues and I'm not entirely convinced these three freshmen will work together well. As talented as Shabazz Muhammad is, he doesn't make his teammates better because he doesn't like to pass. He isn't greedy, but when that ball goes in his hands, it has a hard time finding other least at the high school level this is true. So a lot of UCLA's success will ride on Kyle Anderson (who is a freshman by the way) running the show and getting all the Bruins players involved. Then there is Tony Parker, who is going to be fighting with the equally chubby Josh Smith for touches in the post. I like Parker as a player, but I think the combination of he and Smith is either going to be brilliant or blow up completely. Throw in Larry Drew II, who Ben Howland must have agreed to sign out of sheer desperation, and you have the makings for an interesting chemistry experiment at UCLA. The 2010-2011 UNC basketball team absolutely took off in a positive direction after Larry Drew II quit the team and Harrison Barnes started playing more up to his potential when Drew left. This isn't a coincidence. But hey, the Bruins have three top recruits, they should be really good this year and none of this matters, right?

I'm afraid I'm getting off my point, but hopefully you can see where I am coming from. Way too early preseason polls have their faults. That brings me to the Bleacher Report article for today. It is about why Duke basketball is on its way down. I know everyone hates Duke and that's fine, but this is so poorly written I think through the intense hatred of Duke you will still enjoy it. This article was written before 2012 Top 25 recruit Amile Jefferson committed to Duke. So while I won't hold this against the author, I think it goes to show how misguided and reactive this column truly is since the author claims Duke can't get big-time recruits anymore.

This article is part of an overreaction to Duke's loss to Lehigh in the NCAA Tournament. This type of overreaction to Lehigh seems to be the trend. The Big Lead had a way too early Top 25 that left Duke out of the Top 25 entirely. This is silly. Duke doesn't have a right to be in the Top 25, but they are a 27 win team bringing back every single player except for one starter and the backup center. The author had written a previous Top 25 (prior to the early NBA Draft entries being announced) and he had Duke at #25 under the assumption Mason Plumlee was gone. Of course, once Plumlee announces he will come back to Duke for his senior year Duke naturally drops out of the updated Top 25.

The author of The Big Lead way too early preseason poll also completely left Missouri out of the Top 25 in his original poll. That's a 30 win team returning three starters and Lawrence Bowers that AREN'T a Top 25 team? I'm sure he did this because Missouri lost to Norfolk State in the NCAA Tourney. So after leaving Missouri out of the Top 25 completely, they sign Alex Oriakhi to play for them next year and they are now #6 in the updated Top 25. That's quite a leap to make based on the signing of one player. This poll did nothing to contradict my idea that way too early preseason polls focus too much on a team's result from the previous season and incoming recruits.

So my larger point was a 27 win team was left out of the Top 25 for reasons unknown and now a Bleacher Report article has stated it is the beginning of the end for Duke basketball. This is just a ridiculous overreaction to the end of the year loss to Lehigh.

Let's start the slideshow and review some poor research!

Sporting four national titles and 11 Final Fours under legendary coach Mike Krzyzewski, the Blue Devils have been the class of the nation for decades.

I don't know about "the class" of the nation. That seems like an exaggeration. They have been very good for a while now. There have been equally as good or better programs over the last few decades.

Now, however, an unprecedented fall in the 2012 NCAA Tournament has sent the program into a sense of disarray.

No, the program isn't been sent into a sense of disarray. One game doesn't affect an entire program's future. Duke is returning every single starter except one, they have four seniors, and are adding two Top 25 recruits. They won't win the national title this year, but they have the core of last year's team back. They'll be fine. Quit trolling.

As the 2012-13 season rapidly approaches, we take a look at why the Blue Devils will continue their descent from glory.

Let's do this, except please know you are completely wrong about everything you are about to write. I say this not as a fan of Duke, but as a fan of logic and well-reasoned arguments.

Recruiting Slowing Down

Duke didn't have that many scholarships for the incoming 2012 class in the first place. So it isn't like they needed go to out and get a 4-5 man class. The roster will consist of 4 seniors, two juniors, 1 sophomore, and 4 freshmen. The freshmen are two redshirt freshmen and two Top 25 2012 recruits. Because they had two guys redshirting, a large class wasn't a necessity. Ignoring whether these four freshmen are able to help out this year, recruiting isn't slowing down.

With his assistance, the Blue Devils have pulled in just over three recruits in the five previous years that were ranked as 3-star recruits or better

The creator of grammar, Lord Cornelius Homestead Von Grammar cries in sadness at the grammar and sentence structure used in this sentence. The way this abomination reads, Duke has pulled in three recruits total over the past five years that were ranked 3-star or better. This is clearly inaccurate. What this sentence is intended to mean is Duke has pulled in on average three recruits every year that are 3-star or better over a span of the past five years. Simply put, this means nothing. Duke has two five-star recruits coming in this year and already have nine other scholarship players. In fact, Duke just had a player transfer because he wanted more playing time and thought he was blocked. Recruiting isn't slowing down.

This offseason, however, Duke has just one commitment in 5-star prospect Rasheed Suliamon, a disappointing amount considering signing day as already passed.

In reality, Duke also has two redshirt freshmen who will join the team this year. They should be included as part of this recruiting class as well. Both redshirt freshmen (Marshall Plumlee, Alex Murphy) are four-star recruits. Those two players should be considered part of the freshman class also. The 2013 class already has one four-star commit (#28 overall) Matt Jones. Missing out on big name recruits like probably will happen with Tony Parker and did happen with Shabazz Muhammad is disappointing, but isn't a death sentence for the program. Big name programs miss out on top recruits all the time.

Also, signing day had not passed when this article was written. Otherwise, someone needs to tell Anthony Bennett, Tony Parker and Amile Jefferson they aren't going to be playing college basketball this season because they all signed after this article was written.

the rise of some new basketball powers will continue to cause Duke some problems in the future acquiring big-time recruits.

This is nothing but pure speculation. I'd love to hear about these new basketball powers that will cause Duke specifically problems with acquiring big-time recruits. Which new basketball powers, that won't affect any other power college basketball programs, are going to affect Duke so badly? We don't get any suggestions or follow up on this comment. This is because the author is just talking out of his ass. If there are new basketball powers that will cause Duke problems with recruiting wouldn't this also affect other programs as well?

Fell Apart in the Big Games

For all my time watching college basketball, Duke almost always seemed to be the squad on the sending side of those clutch performances.

Really? Just in the last few years I can think of the following non-clutch performances, and this is just in the NCAA Tourney:

-Almost losing to #15 seeded Belmont in the 2008 NCAA Tourney.

-Getting their ass kicked by Villanova in the 2009 NCAA Tourney.

-Getting their ass kicked by Arizona in the 2011 NCAA Tourney.

Duke hasn't always come out on the winning side of clutch performances. I'm pretty sure Derrick Williams is still dreaming of draining 3-point shots against Duke's porous defense. It's pure hyperbole to suggest Duke always came out on top with clutch performances.

Over the course of the past year, however, I was surprised to see the Blue Devils on the receiving end of upsets.

Well, it is only an upset if you are a highly ranked team. So if a team is highly ranked, pretty much any loss is an upset. The fact Duke is still highly ranked means the team doesn't seem to be falling that quickly.

Only the amazing comeback victory over North Carolina stands out to me on the season, and that was mostly due to the fantastic play of freshman Austin Rivers.

Beating Kansas and Michigan on a neutral court doesn't count? Beating Florida State at Florida State doesn't count?

For example, the Blue Devils were completely overpowered against No. 2 Ohio State, surprised by A-10 champion Temple, upset at home by both Miami and Florida State

They also beat Big 10 champ Michigan State and beat ACC champ Florida State at Florida State.

and then completely owned by No. 15 seed Lehigh in the NCAA Tournament.

"Completely owned" is probably an overstatement. They did get their asses beat though. To be fair, they were missing Ryan Kelly who was their third leading scorer and third leading rebounder. No excuses, but he played the part of the "stretch four" and in Duke's offense that is an important position in the offense. Still, they did lose. This loss doesn't carryover to the 2012-2013 season. I hope this is understood that losses from one season don't always carry over to the next season.

Duke may be a brilliant program with a storied history, but for any season to be a success, the team must pull out more than just one big win.

So what does this have to do with Duke's impending downfall for the very next season?

In fact, I believe that coming out victorious in over half of the big games is a key to true triumph.

This is a completely arbitrary number, but I'll play your little game. Let's look at all "big games," which I would define as a tournament game, a game against a ranked opponent or a game against a strong out-of-conference opponent, for the 2011-2012 season and see how Duke did:

11/15/11: Michigan State (W)
11/18/11: Davidson (W)
11/21/11: Tennessee (W)
11/22/11: Michigan (W)
11/23/11: Kansas (W)
11/29/11: Ohio State (L)
1/4/12: Temple (L)
1/12/12: Virginia (W)
1/21/12: Florida State (L)
2/8/12: UNC (W)
2/23/12: Florida State (W)
3/3/12: UNC (L)
3/9/12: Florida State (L)
3/16/12: Lehigh (L)

So in "big games" this year Duke went 8-5. Even if you take out Virginia and Davidson, they are still over .500 in "big games" at 7-6. The author has absolutely no point even using his own arbitrary criteria.

Counted on Talent Over Experience

I may be one of the few who actually still believes that experience is a key element in victory.

No, you are not. Other people believe this as well.

This belief has spread all around the sport, rooting itself in programs such as Ohio State, Baylor and, obviously, Kentucky.

So all that talk about how Duke needs to recruit better, well fuck all that noise. Duke needs more experience and doesn't need to recruit any better. The author has changed his mind. The lack of a strong recruiting class, which consist of incoming freshmen, shouldn't even be counted on any way. The key element of a team's success is experience. The 2012-2013 roster has four seniors who were on a national title team and two juniors. So they do have experience and are counting on the talent of this experience to win games.

Duke has also become infected with this dangerous thought process, seeing more merit in recruiting than in development.

And this post has been slapped with the "contradiction in action" tag. I thought Duke wasn't recruiting well enough to prevent a major downfall? Now they are recruiting TOO MUCH and too well, so this will cause their downfall. I'm not entirely sure if the author is even entirely sure what point he is trying to prove. One minute Duke needs to recruit better to succeed, the next minute the author decides experience is the key to a team's success and Duke needs to count on their recruits less and rely more on experience.

Unfortunately for the Blue Devils, however, their strategy of relying on big shot true freshman Austin Rivers didn't work as well as Kentucky's.

No, the strategy worked very well. What didn't work was relying on anyone outside of Austin Rivers and Mason Plumlee to shoot well over the last couple weeks of the season. Without Ryan Kelly, Duke needed scoring and those who needed to step up (Seth Curry/Andre Dawkins) didn't step up. It's really that simple.

If Krzyzewski desires to have any more success on the court in the future, he must go back to developing his players instead of counting on "one-and-done" freshmen.

How about he fields a team with four seniors and two juniors on it this year? Wouldn't that be great? Wait, that's the 2012-2013 team! It's almost like after the 2009-2010 season where Duke had three seniors and two juniors in the lineup and after the 2010-2011 season where Duke has two seniors in the starting lineup, the 2011-2012 team was an outlier in terms of having one senior and counting overwhelmingly on scoring from underclassmen. Don't bother. I'll do the research for you.

Krzyzewski Has Reached His Peak

Yes, he is 65 years old. He certainly isn't still peaking.

Every player, coach and franchise has its peak, the point at which their power, influence and domination is at its highest. However, once that summit is reached, there is only one direction to go.

Now in this scenario are there no assistant coaches on the bench who are in any way capable of effectively running a team or helping to run a team? Also, is Coach K not aware of his own burgeoning limitations and continues to coach past his prime?

Duke's fate walks hand-in-hand with Krzyzewski's, meaning that as he descends from his place atop the college basketball world, so will the Blue Devils.

Wow, that's news to UNC. They survived pretty well after Dean Smith retired. I'm pretty sure they've won a couple national championships since that time. One would think UNC's fate walked hand-in-hand with Dean Smith's fate, but reality didn't match this theory.

While one bad postseason is hardly enough evidence to suggest that Coach K is nearing the end of his career,

But yet it is plenty evidence to write an entire slideshow suggesting the entire Duke program is on its way down. Funny how this works.

the many factors mentioned before are a slight confirmation of what is coming in the near future.

No, they aren't. The many factors mentioned before are a slight confirmation that you don't know what you are talking about. No one knows what will happen in the future. Duke could have a bad year next year, they could have a good year. The author says recruiting is a problem, then says Duke needs to stop relying on recruiting. He says Duke lost in big games, and even if this is true, doesn't necessarily mean anything from one season to the next. Don't overreact to one loss. The good news is this slideshow got you attention, so that's worth something, right?

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

5 comments MMQB Review: Bill Polian Has a "What If" Scenario That Would Have Saved His Job Edition

In last week's MMQB, Peter King took on the city of London, the game of cricket and officially approved England as a place to get coffee and beer. He walked across Abbey Road, managing to evade the locals who are probably tired of people walking across the crosswalk there and claimed we just don't appreciate the opposing team in the United States like they do in England. This week Peter takes on the NFL's trade deadline and wants the sports media to stop all of this non-stop QB Jets coverage. Peter naturally then mentions QB Jets multiple times in MMQB. Apparently everyone should stop covering QB Jets, except Peter has also been guilty of mentioning him multiple times in the present and past as well. Fortunately, QB Jets will be out of the NFL and on to doing something else with his life in a few more years (much to the chagrin of Skip Bayless). So we should all hang in there until that time comes.

Happy Memorial Day. I know for many of you, Memorial Day has become an extra day off, or the start of the summer. But it's a day on which we should spend a few moments remembering the million men and women who have died fighting for our country.

Thanks for putting us all on the right track Peter. If anyone is in a position to give us perspective on the world it is the guy who gripes about major national issues such as rental car companies charging him too much for gas, coffee at a hotel not being ready and available at 6am, and being charged for the use wireless internet in public. Without Peter King around I'm not sure anyone else could seem to teach us a lesson about Memorial Day in such a lofty fashion.

Before we get to football, I have one modern, tragic Memorial Day story for you.

Boy, Peter is just full non-uplifting stories today isn't he?

"Oh, and here is one more thing that will depress you for today. Kittens get run over by cars, we all know that. But what if a kitten riding on a puppy's back gets hit by a car going 60 miles per hour, fly across the road and both of their bodies end up on your front porch. Let's say neither of them are dead once they hit your porch, so you have to put them both out of their misery and all you have to do the deed is a plastic spork. Isn't that sad?!"

On the picnic table for your reading pleasure today (and just think -- you can read this while you're off, instead of stealing company time on a Monday morning to read):

I'm not sure Peter wants to refer to the people who read his column as "stealing company time," whether this is true or not. After all, he relies on these people to give him pageviews so he can continue to give his opinion on issues nobody would ever really care about if he didn't write for Don't insult the hand that feeds you by accusing MMQB readers of stealing company time when reading the column.

• The trade deadline was moved from Week 6 to Week 8 the other day. Had that been done in 2011, the course of current football history likely would have changed radically. And I mean "radically."

You mean we get to hear some "what if" scenarios? Nothing makes me less excited than to hear "what if" scenarios in regard to situations that end up not occurring. They are the journalistic form of self-pleasuring one's self. You create a situation that didn't happen and then change the variables around to suit whatever point you are currently trying to prove, and we as an audience are supposed to be super-entertained by these fictional situations.

But no, I'm pumped to hear what would happen if the NFL trade deadline was moved back two weeks.

• It shows my age, I suppose, but there was a shift in the media world order on Thursday, and no one paid it much mind. A major American city won't have a daily newspaper starting this fall.

I love how Peter says "no one paid it much mind." Peter is talking about the cutting back of The Times-Picayune to being published three times per week. Apparently Peter doesn't think enough attention was paid to this and so "no one" paid it much mind. I disagree. I think attention was paid, but it didn't deserve absolute outrage since this is the direction newspapers are headed. Most people know the newspaper business is dying, so while people were sad about this it didn't create the shockwaves I think Peter felt was necessary because it seemed inevitable. It's a big deal and is not a happy turn of events, but it is representative of where the newspaper business is headed.

I know nobody my age who gets the newspaper everyday. Apparently Peter wants mass protests in the street from New Orleans residents. Maybe if "The Times-Picayune" editor had attempted to intentionally injure another newspaper editor by putting a bounty on him, the New Orleans citizens would take up the paper's cause a bit more passionately, since being punished for breaking rules seems to get the New Orleans area to rise up as one and take action.

• I'm no lawyer, though I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night

Did they provide free coffee? Was the free coffee any good? If not, Holiday Inn Express should be ashamed of itself that the free coffee wasn't the best coffee-flavored water that had ever touched Peter's over-caffeinated lips.

We'll start with the rules change from last Tuesday that I assumed was meaningless. But you know what happens when you assume things.

You start formulating "what if" scenarios?

I feel strongly the deadline should be around Dec. 1, to stimulate real action to help teams trying to win a division and to buttress with draft choices those teams out of the pennant race with four or five weeks to go.

But last year, there's a real chance that moving the deadline by two weeks -- from Oct. 18, the deadline, to Nov. 1, the day after the end of Week 8 -- would have netted the Indianapolis Colts Kyle Orton.

Which very well could have caused the Colts to win 3-4 games on the season and they would have missed out on the chance to get Andrew Luck. How could this be a good thing for the Colts? Because they get to keep Peyton Manning for a few more years and delay the inevitable rebuilding process without Manning? I know it sounds dumb to say releasing of a Hall of Fame quarterback is a good thing, but the Colts have a chance to build a good team around Andrew Luck and a new coaching staff. I'm not sure if the Colts have this chance if they try to squeeze a few more years out of Manning by going into "win now" mode. At best it works out and they delay the rebuilding by a few years while giving the Colts a chance to compete with Manning. At worst, the Colts are in the same position in 2012 that they were in during 2011. I'm probably over-thinking this, but a trade for Kyle Orton didn't seem like a good idea at the time or in retrospect.

I would argue a Kyle Orton trade wouldn't be a good thing for the Colts. It was a good thing for Bill Polian because he possibly could have saved his job by setting up a way for the Colts to win a few more games. After all, that's what being a General Manager is all about, saving your own job.

And if that had happened, and the Colts had won just one or two more games than they did, it would have resulted in Peyton Manning staying a Colt ... and Andrew Luck being drafted by somebody else.

I know Peyton Manning is a Hall of Famer, but the Colts had the perfect time after this season to move on, blow the Colts up and start over when they let Manning go. It really isn't necessarily a bad thing for a franchise to start over every once in a while, as long as that franchise knows what direction it wants to go.

"I think the deadline being moved last year would have made a difference for us,'' said Bill Polian, the Colts president until owner Jim Irsay fired him in January. "We would have rekindled our interest in Orton. In Week 6, we knew our quarterback situation wasn't great, but after a couple more weeks, we realized the situation was bad. We probably would have called Denver, who'd gone to [Tim] Tebow by then, and said, 'Hey, we'll give you a three [a third-round draft choice] for Orton.' ''

Maybe I'm the only one that thinks this is crazy. The Colts were 0-6 at this point. They would have had to end the season on a 9-1 streak just to tie the Bengals for the Wild Card spot. They weren't making the playoffs at that point. Why give up a 3rd round pick to get a one year stop gap quarterback in order to win a few more games? I'm all about winning games, but it was clear by Week 6 this was a flawed Colts team without Peyton Manning. Is it really smart to give up a third round choice for a stop-gap solution at quarterback when that pick can be (and was) used to draft a player who can make a long-term impact on the Colts roster?

The Colts had two 3rd round picks and chose T.Y. Hilton and Dwayne Allen with these picks. Both of these players have a chance to make an impact with the 2012 Indianapolis Colts team. If anything, the Colts should want the trade deadline extended so they could trade players in order to RECEIVE draft picks.

Now, how much difference would Orton have made in the last eight games of the season, had he been dealt? Indianapolis went 2-6 with Painter and Orlovsky. In four of those eight games, the Colts threw for fewer than 130 net passing yards.

We all know I like Kyle Orton. He wouldn't have helped the Colts go 9-1 over the last 10 games. Giving up a 3rd round pick for him when he is only going to take the Colts from a really bad team to a pretty bad team didn't make long-term sense for the franchise. Who am I to criticize Bill Polian though? He's a genius! He ran the expansion Panthers into the ground with win-now moves and then made a lateral move to the Colts before he had to clean up all of his mistakes. He also managed to put the Colts together so that if they lost their starting quarterback they went from a division-winning team to a 2-14 team. I probably shouldn't criticize this genius who makes zero mistakes.

Polian is convinced Orton would have been responsible for at least another win or two ... perhaps in an offensively hapless 17-3 home loss to Jacksonville, or a 19-13 loss at Jacksonville, or an eight-point home loss to Carolina.

Losing is never a good thing, but if the Colts had won two or three more games it only would have taken them out of the running for Andrew Luck and would have given a somewhat false picture of the franchise's health. Of course it would have saved Bill Polian's job, which naturally is all he really cares about.

I agree with Polian: With Orton, the Colts would have been better than 2-6 in their last eight games. Two wins better, and they'd have held OTA practices for the last two weeks with Peyton Manning as their quarterback.

At which point they would have had a 36 year old quarterback with major injury issues running the team and he would have had to sign a good backup quarterback (ok...maybe Orton) in case Manning gets injured. The Colts were going to have to start over in the next 2-3 years at the quarterback position and Luck is probably the best QB prospect to come out of college in a decade. Granted, it would have been nice to compete with Manning as the starting quarterback for a few more years. I struggle to see why trading draft picks to win a few more games was a good move. This wasn't a terrible year to start over.

In that case, the first two picks in the draft would have gone to St. Louis (2-14) and Minnesota (3-13). Who would have traded up for Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III in that case, Washington and which other team? Or would Minnesota have fallen head over heels for Luck or Griffin and picked one of the QBs, even though the Vikes drafted Christian Ponder a year earlier?

It doesn't matter because it didn't happen.

But this one situation -- and maybe it's only one -- shows moving the deadline has the potential to have a profound impact on the future of the game.

I'm with Peter on moving the trade deadline back. A trade of Orton to the Colts wouldn't have had a significant impact on anything other than to save Bill Polian's job (unless Jim Irsay smartly wanted to start over even if the Colts didn't get the #1 overall pick) and have the Colts get the #3 overall pick instead of the #1 overall pick. If I'm the Colts, I'm happy it worked out the way it did. Peyton Manning was a fantastic quarterback for so long, but the 2011 season was a perfect example of how a great quarterback can mask a team's weaknesses. Starting over, as long as there is a definite plan and direction, isn't a bad thing. Trading for Orton would only have delayed the inevitable divorce from Peyton Manning. Possibly Manning could have gotten 2-3 more years out of playing for the Colts, but there's always the chance he wouldn't. Andrew Luck is (supposedly) a franchise quarterback and the Colts can build around him for the next decade AND they get to keep the third-round pick they would have traded for Orton.

Emery's philosophy, he said, is to find players with growth potential, who make plays, who play like they love football. "I want the players with the high ceilings, with the largest capacity for growth,'' he said. "And I believe every aspect of that player is on tape. You can see him, you can read him.''

Which is a shocking statement to me considering Phil Emery then drafted Alshon Jeffrey. Jeffrey wasn't always at his optimal weight in college and whenever I saw him play seemed to struggle a bit in getting separation from the corner.

But Emery believed in Jeffery, in part because of his 23 career touchdowns, in part because of his hungry play around the goal line, and in part because of the consistent effort he showed.

Nebraska cornerback Alonzo Dennard, a 7th round pick (though he was projected to go higher), shut down Jeffrey for periods of time in a bowl game and Jeffrey's hype has rarely matched his production. He is a big receiver though. We all know big receivers tend to blind NFL General Managers to any faults that receiver may have. Height tends to blind General Managers to a receiver's faults.

Then Peter starts complaining about the QB Jets discussing the QB Jets coverage. It is a self-perpetuating cycle.

The Giants, the defending Super Bowl champions, were beginning to adjust to life without their third receiver, Mario Manningham, who left for San Francisco in free agency. In the morning workout, top wide receiver Hakeem Nicks went down with a broken bone in his foot. The Giants announced he would be out for as long as 12 weeks, which is dangerously close to the Sept. 5 season opener.

The Jets, coming off a season in which they didn't make the playoffs, had Tim Tebow in practice for the first time he could be viewed in action by the media. Tebow is the backup quarterback to Mark Sanchez, but with the charisma Tebow has and the way Sanchez struggled last year, it could be a matter of time before Tebow challenges the incumbent.

This is the monster the media has helped to create.

Words devoted by the five major dailies to the Super Bowl champions losing their number one receiver, possibly for all of the offseason training and training camp, and perhaps threatening the start of his season: 2,104.

Words devoted by the five major dailies to Tebow's first practice visible to the media: 6,971.

Words in this MMQB about QB Jets and how much press he gets: 258.

Words in this MMQB about Hakeem Nicks and his injury: 147.

So 23 percent of the football writing in Friday's papers in greater New York was devoted to a serious injury to a top player on the defending Super Bowl champions.

It's Tebowland, baby.

If it weren't for the fact Peter was comparing the coverage of Nicks' injury to the coverage of QB Jets in Jets' camp it's possible Peter would not have mentioned the Nicks injury at all. So Peter devoted 75% more space to the coverage of QB Jets than he devoted to covering Nicks' injury and may have never discussed Nicks' injury if he wasn't using it as a comparison to the New York media's discussion about QB Jets. So who is responsible for this QB Jets-land coverage again?

So many of us in the journalism business have had to get used to new things. New age of versatility that has us do print, Internet, radio and TV. Twitter. The 24-hour news cycle. The whole business has changed, and we all probably knew this day was coming. But it'll be an eerie day this fall: The storied New Orleans Times-Picayune, born in 1837, will stop publishing seven days a week. It'll publish three days a week -- Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.

So New Orleans Saints fans won't read about their team in the city newspaper until Wednesday after the game and will only get stories about the Saints three days a week. Now Saints fans know how Carolina Panthers fans feel. The Charlotte Observer publishes seven days a week, but they don't really cover the Panthers but three days a week anyway, and use the other four days of the week to link stories written about the Panthers by the Associated Press.

(Maybe three people get what I'm talking about and my joke falls flat as usual)

Jokes aside, it is not a good sign "The Times-Picayune" is only going to three days of publishing. It also isn't a hugely shocking development.

The union filed the claim in U.S. District Court in Minnesota, with NFLPA attorney Jeffrey Kessler (his nickname should be The Groundhog; seeing it always makes me think we're about to see six more weeks of legal wrangling)

No, that should not be his nickname.


-- Tim Tebow, asked when the last time he'd made a special teams tackle. Tebow could be used as the personal protector -- the up back -- on the Jets' punt team.

QB Jetsland baby!

You can clearly see Peter King is not at fault for the overhyping of QB Jets in using a quote from QB Jets as "Quote of the Week II." It's every other media member's fault, but not Peter's fault.

Wished I had Aladdin's Lamp on my return flight from London last Monday, so I could have wished that the fellow sitting across the aisle who took his shoes and socks off before we took off had actually washed his feet some time in the previous three days. Nothing like the look of dark-gray crossed feet every few minutes for seven hours.

I'm sure the fellow across the aisle appreciated the creepy guy who was staring at this feet over the entire flight as well. Where does Peter run into these people? I feel like Peter wills these strange things to happen just so he can write about them in MMQB.

1. It's entirely possible that I slept so well at my brother's home for a variety of reasons, but I think it has a lot to do with noise. I live in Manhattan, on the 16th floor of a high-rise. You can turn the noise down, but you can never shut it off. My brother Ken lives in a village in Northamptonshire, 80 minutes north of London. At night -- or, really, after the school next door lets out for the day -- there is ... nothing. No noise. The birds in the morning sound like a rooster, relatively speaking. And one night there, I slept nine hours. Don't remember a thing. That never happens to me. Maybe silence is more important in our lives than we think -- or than I've thought.

Yes, maybe silence may be important to maintain a good sleep. Revolutionary thoughts are Peter King's forte.

The NFL (and other American pro sports) could learn something from a game like cricket. No music. No exploding scoreboards. There's the game, and discussion in the stands.

When was the last time Peter went to a football game and actually sat in the stands? Most NFL games I have been to there is a discussion in the stands about the game, there are no exploding scoreboards, and yes, the music is loud but can be tuned out if you are paying attention to the game. I'm not a huge fan of loud noises, but I don't know if turning NFL stadiums into a cricket stadium is the right direction to go either.

I realize we're beyond that. And I may not be in the majority here, and I may be Clint Eastwood in Gran Torino.

No, Clint Eastwood in Gran Torino is awesome. Wanting NFL games to be more like cricket games is not awesome.

3. I do not envy you, NBC peers, on your Olympic travels to London. It's a great, great city, but the traffic is insane. Take the Tube a bunch. Clean, fast, well-marked, everywhere.

Peter King, travel guide.

2. I think here's a postscript to the Alex Smith comments about the garbage-time yards by the Panthers last season. First, Smith's quote, the one that rankled the Panthers, came when he was asked about his lack of big-yardage passing games. "I think that's a totally overblown stat,'' Smith said. "Because if you're losing games in the second half, guess what? You're like the Carolina Panthers and you're going no-huddle the entire second half and, yeah, Cam Newton threw for a lot of 300-yard games, that's great. You're not winning, though."

The fact it has been disproven that Newton threw for more yardage in the second half than the first half, so Smith really has no point, Alex Smith really giving us the whole "it's all about winning games" after his first NFL season out of six seasons where he led the 49ers to a winning record? It's odd to me. In the past, if the 49ers had Alex Smith as their quarterback, they weren't winning games partially due to his presence as their quarterback, but he has one good season and turns into the "passing yards are for losers" guy.

8. I think this is my one post-script on the move of the trading deadline: I asked Miami GM Jeff Ireland if being 0-7 would have been very different in terms of making moves than being 0-5. In other words, would he have been more motivated to make trades two weeks later last year. He said no.

"I wasn't thinking about playing for the future at 0-7,'' he said. "I was thinking about what could we do to win now.''

"I was thinking about saving my job and knew if I started trading away players I was going to see to it my team lost more games and I would get fired."

That's why, despite the Kyle Orton story I told earlier in the column, I don't think a two-week extension to the deadline will be earth-shaking.

Plus it would have saved Bill Polian's job and helped the Colts miss out on getting a franchise quarterback in the draft, while relying on a veteran who only had 2-3 more years left. Polian needed a quarterback to help mask the somewhat deficient roster he had helped to build over the years.

a. Rondo rocks. What a ballplayer.

If only he could score more points or miraculously give the Celtics better players to compete with the Heat.

f. Josh Reddick has 13 home runs. Prince Fielder, Adrian Gonzalez and Jayson Werth have 14 home runs, combined.

Josh Reddick is a better hitter than Prince Fielder, Adrian Gonzalez, and Jayson Werth combined! That's what this statistic means!

k. In the Meaningless Factoids of My Life Dept: My other two songs of the week can stay in my head forever as far as I'm concerned: Mean, by Taylor Swift. Great message, great voice.

Of course Peter King would like Taylor Swift. She really doesn't have a great voice either, but I'm not sure if I can expect a better comment from a diehard U2 fan.

p. Coffeenerdness: If I could just listen to the Forks Over Knives people, I'd go to a soy latte. As the young would say, OMG.

Peter is using "OMG" in his columns and talking about how he likes Taylor Swift. Is this a half-assed mid-life crisis coming on? Next thing we know, Peter will buy a semi-sporty new car and begin to sort of ogle younger women while at the beach, but still recognize the beauty of his own wife.

Monday, May 28, 2012

9 comments Jerry Green Talks the Magic of Baseball, Statistics Stink, Back In My Day

Whenever an older baseball columnist writes the obligatory "Statistical analysis sucks" column, it may as well also be a retirement column. By not even acknowledging new advances in the field you work in is also acknowledging you have no interest in learning more or continually educating yourself about the sport you cover. If you aren't interested in becoming better and more informed at your job when given opportunities to do so, you should simply retire. This doesn't go for just sports. Any employee who refuses to even learn about new advances in his/her field is basically saying they have no interest in becoming better and more knowledgeable at their job. Yet, in the field of sports ignorance on a topic and a refusal to learn more about the sport you cover is supposed to be seen as funny and in some way noble. The world changes. Learn to accept it and ignorance of statistical analysis isn't funny, it is indicative of your willingness to be more informed at your job.

Jerry Green of "The Detroit News," who apparently is already retired, hates statistical analysis and refuses to understand it either. Maybe since he is already retired he isn't supposed to keep up with new advances in baseball statistical analysis. Still writing this column isn't funny or noble, but just a little sad. It says more about him that he doesn't care to know what VORP or WAR are and how they are used more than it says anything about the relevance of the statistics. How can you mock or disprove something you yourself don't attempt to understand?

The vogue in baseball these days is to mash all the numbers into some cryptic statistical gumbo such as WAR, WHIP, OPS and VORP, etc.

It's not cryptic if you take the time to understand these terms. It's clear Jerry Green hasn't taken the time to understand these terms and their application. He can define them, but that is seemingly the extent of his knowledge. WHIP and OPS are incredibly basic numbers and requires the knowledge of statistical gumbo like "the ability to do addition while also possessing the ability to read numbers on a paper" and "the ability to do division while also possessing the ability to read numbers on a paper." So yes, WHIP and OPS are statistical gumbo as long as you do not have the same basic grasp of math that a 3rd grader typically would have.

The process is then to use the product that is poured from the blender

I'm pretty sure you don't make gumbo in a blender. So Jerry Green appears to be willfully blind to new knowledge, as well as not able to entirely keep up the analogy he is trying to use in order to show just how stupid statistical analysis can be.

as the reason the Tigers go belly up against the Seattle Mariners.

Sabermetrics don't give the reason why the Tigers go belly up against the Mariners, though they could help to compare two different players. Again, Jerry Green has no clue what statistical analysis is used for or how to use statistical analysis, he just knows he doesn't like it. It's always good to see open-minded sportswriting like this.

As though runs, hits and errors don't amount for much any more.

No one said these don't amount for much anymore. These statistics just don't amount for absolutely everything when it comes to evaluating a player anymore. There's a difference. If you can't grasp it, that's not anyone else's fault but yours. You don't have to agree with the use of Sabermetrics to evaluate a player, but you have to be open-minded enough to dispute the use of Sabermetrics through reasoning that doesn't include "it uses too many big numbers and is hard to understand." That just makes you look lazy and ignorant.

And W's and L's are meaningless parts of the magic formula.

They are not meaningless. Time and common sense has helped us better understand "W's" and "L's" are team-oriented statistics. If a player's individual statistic relies primarily on how his team as a whole plays, that statistic is probably a more team-oriented statistic like "wins" or "losses" and should be framed in terms of being a team statistic. We've learned over time that solely judging an individual pitcher on a team statistic like wins or losses probably isn't the most accurate way of determining that pitcher's performance.

And HRs and ERA and RBIs and HBPs are ancient creations from a previous century.

Actually they are. The terms HRs, ERA, and HBP were created in the late 1800's, so these statistics actually are creations from another century. So is the Internet and cell phones.

These numbers like ERA, HRs, and RBI's are still prominently used in baseball and will be prominently used for the foreseeable future. Advanced statistics are here to supplement these statistics.

WAR, for example, means wins above replacement. That translates, I presume, to how many more victories Brandon Inge would mean to the Tigers than Prince Fielder.

Actually, it is more likely the other way around. How many more victories Prince Fielder would mean to the Tigers than Brandon Inge. At least Jerry Green understands this statistic. That's at least a little something.

VORP stands for value of a replacement player over an entire season. That to me, scratching the gray of my head, could be construed as the opposite of WAR.

Stop scratching the gray of your head and go use the Interwebs to find out the differences. They are not opposite of each other. They aren't opposites of each other, but different ways to calculate a player's value. WAR seems to be more in vogue now than VORP.

WHIP is the statistic to summarize a pitcher's walks and hits surrendered in an inning.

It takes hits and walks, both statistics that Jerry Green should like and combines them into one statistic. What is not to like for an old-timer? Other than the whole progress and "this is new, which means I may have to take time out of day to understand it" element of it?

Then lovers of baseball are treated to such statistical items as PERA (peripheral earned run average) and DIPS (defense independent pitching statistics).

If you don't like these statistics, don't use them. It's that simple. Don't prevent other people from using them to agree or disagree with your argument though. That's the catch. Everyone doesn't have to use these statistics but when confronted with the idea Justin Verlander is a better pitcher than Jered Weaver because of PERA don't act as if this statistic should have zero meaning in this discussion simply because you don't choose to use this advanced statistic. This seems to be a major point of contention. Those who dislike the use of advanced statistics don't want anyone to use these statistics simply they personally don't like using advanced statistics. I find this to be stupid.

These new categories fall under the title of Sabermetrics, the figment of several self-anointed geniuses, mostly originated via the vivid imagination of the illustrious Bill James.

Yes, it does take some imagination to create some of these advanced statistics, but the numbers used are not imaginary. Bill James isn't sitting in a dark room creating statistics that no one has a need for to evaluate baseball players. Bill James and Sabermetrics have caught on because there is a use for these advanced statistics.

Yet now, amid all that claptrap, we are being treated to a Major League Baseball season for the ages. It is the sort of season that grabs any longtime baseball lover with sensational joy of the game, without the mashed numbers.

Everyone can enjoy the season without statistics. The mashed numbers do come in handy at the end of the season, or even during the season, when comparing two players to each other for postseason awards like the MVP, Rookie of the Year or the Cy Young award. This is a common mistake opponents of advanced statistics make. They seem to believe the joy of the game is being replaced by numbers. This is completely untrue. Advanced statistics are being used the same way home runs, wins, losses, and ERA have been used in the past. ERA and batting average don't replace the joy of the game, do they? They are statistics to be used to evaluate baseball players, just like advanced statistics are used. If the use of RBIs doesn't ruin the joy of baseball, how does the use of OPS ruin the joy of baseball?

Imagine, in the first six weeks true baseball lovers have been treated to one perfect game and one game in which a batter struck four home runs.

We don't have to imagine. It actually happened. It seems Jerry Green struggles a bit when discussing the idea of imagining things that really happened or are based on concrete statistics that can be used. He seems to think actual concrete, real events need to be imagined rather than remembered.

I reckon, attempting this new baseball math, that his WHIP was zero for that particular game. Of course, Humber got shelled in his next start — and nothing much has been heard of him since.

So this is supposed to show the irrelevance of using WHIP? I guess I'm confused as to what mentioning Humber's WHIP and then mentioning he hasn't done much since then is supposed to prove. Maybe it just goes to prove baseball is magical, which is something we can all agree on. The statistics aren't trying to take away the magic of baseball, I promise.

Hamilton, of course, is a recognized star for the Rangers. And he sure gave his OPS a boost that night, although he did not receive the rewards Bobby Lowe did for a four-homer game.

Apparently the reward Bobby Lowe received was complete and utter irrelevance in the annals of baseball history. I say this since I have never heard of him and I feel like I have pretty good name recognition among baseball players since baseball history is a hobby of mine.

Of course, if I was Jerry Green I would dismiss Bobby Lowe as a piece of crap player, simply because I haven't heard of him, who got lucky to hit four home runs in a game. If were Jerry Green I wouldn't dare take this opportunity to learn something new about baseball. In fact, if I used Jerry Green's method of writing I would write an entire column about how four home runs in a game means nothing because Bobby Lowe did it and I have never heard of him.

The Boston fans were so appreciative they littered the field with $160 in silver coins as gifts for Lowe, we are informed by baseball's historical textbooks.

Josh Hamilton is making $13.75 million this year. He wins.

It is stuff like this that makes baseball a joy for this withered old guy.

Advanced statistics aren't taking the joy out of this occasion. In fact, advanced statistics and Sabermetrics have nothing to do with this occurrence. So why the hate?

And he plays the game the old-fashioned way. He took the deliberate shot in the back from Hamels and ran to first without a grimace.

Bryce Harper = Old school baseball player.

Could the moniker of Bryce Harper as an old school baseball player fit any perfectly? Is my sarcasm getting through?

A few minutes later, on third when Hamels tried to pick a runner off first, Harper stole home. I have no idea into what Sabermetrics category Harper's steal of home fits into.

It fits into the category...wait for it...keep waiting and I will explain how we came up with this statistic..."steals." This statistic is used when a player steals a base. Hopefully Jerry Green doesn't find the concept of "steals" too complicated.

I don't think there is any such series of initials for old-style baseball savvy.

Probably because this is an intangible idea and not anything that is actually quantifiable.

There also isn't any series of initials for magic pixie dust scrappiness, yet David Eckstein had a ton of that as I have been told repeatedly on hundreds of occasions.

Throwing out non-quantifiable and non-tangible ideas as a way to disprove the use of advanced statistics is beyond stupid. Jerry Green is the same guy who says Bill James used his imagination in coming up with some of the quantifiable and measurable advanced statistics he created and is now attempting to disprove advanced statistics by using a non-quantifiable, non-measurable concept called "old-style baseball savvy." Of course old-style baseball savvy is in no way a figment of Jerry Green's imagination. It's a real quantifiable thing, unlike WHIP, which was created by Bill James while dropping acid in his mom's basement.

Baseball does not thrive on all this Sabermetrics bunkum. It thrives on games and the athletes playing them,

No one is arguing any differently. I do enjoy hearing the same straw man argument every single summer from some bitter columnist who is incapable of attempting to understand advanced statistics enough to even acknowledge or understand how they are used. The games will always be played by the players. Advanced statistics helps to explain and compare a player's performance. It's as simple as that.

and on W's and L's and HRs — and no runs, no hits and no errors and no runners left on base.

(Jerry Green continues) "And baseball also thrives on popcorn, crackerjacks, men wearing ties at the park, and separate bathrooms for Mexicans, African-Americans, white people, homosexuals, Asian people, and using only basic numbers that I care to understand to compare players."

Yes, but WHIP helps explain how many runners a pitcher lets on-base per inning. OPS tells us how often a player gets on-base and how he slugs the ball in one easy metric. WAR tells us which players are most valuable as compared to each other. So these statistics tell us something just like hits, runs, and RBIs do.

This is what has frustrated me most with this whole argument/discussion. Those who hate advanced statistics don't even take the time to understand their application. The advanced statistics aren't replacing the players or other statistics, but are a way of finding different methods to compare players by using different statistics. It's to supplement, not replace. If you don't understand this, well, then you really should understand it or refrain from commenting on how stupid advanced statistics are.

As Casey Stengel — who once managed successfully without the benefit of Sabermetrics but with the aid of Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Whitey Ford and Yogi Berra — once said:

"I've been dead for 37 years?"

"You could look it up." Casey was the master of another old-fashioned merging of letters — BS.

I would love to hear in the opinion of Jerry Green why runs, hits, ERA and runners on-base are more accurate or better statistics to use as opposed to OPS or WHIP? I'm guessing it is simply because he understands these statistics and isn't threatened by the use of them. That's what this all boils down to. Jerry Green is afraid the game is passing him by, so he rails against advanced statistics in an effort to dismiss this new baseball knowledge as inconsequential and useless, which if true, would mean he was still consequential and useful.