Tuesday, April 30, 2013

2 comments MMQB Review: Marvin Demoff Plays Emperor Palpatine to Peter's Anakin Edition

Peter King told us last week in MMQB that he really enjoys the obituaries in "The New York Times," he made a few guesses about how the NFL Draft is going to turn out, discussed the Darrelle Revis trade, and glossed over Jimmy Haslem potentially being convicted for a crime. It's not like that would be a big deal or anything of course. This week Peter talks about all the surprises in the NFL Draft, talks about the time he spent in the (not a shock) Rams' war room, and apologizes for lacking non-football related notes. Because I'm sure everyone reads MMQB for Peter's half-thought out ruminations on baseball and to see what latest anti-gun screed he has cooked up for this week. Oh, the horror of an NFL column not having enough non-football related topics contained within it.

(Four days before the NFL Draft, Peter King and Jeff Fisher's agent Marvin Demoff calls Peter)...

(Peter is whistling a U2 song when his cell rings) "Brett, is that you?"

(Marvin Demoff) "Peter, you have to stop answering the phone that way. How many times have I told you that? I will let you have Brett Favre's cell phone number at the end of the 2014 season. No sooner, no less. Your habit has to be broken."

(Peter King) "Sorry, sir."

(Marvin Demoff) "Don't you think Jeff Fisher is doing a great job in St. Louis?"

(Peter King) "Oh, I think he's doing a right splendid job down there in St.---"

(Marvin Demoff) "Over there, Peter, not 'down there.'"

(Peter King) "Oh...right. I think he's doing a right splendid job over there in St. Louis. I've been telling my readers just like you like me to what a fantastic team the Rams are putting together. I let my readers know what a fine coach Mr. Fisher is."

(Marvin Demoff) "Yeah, you are doing great. I need you to ask your bosses if you can be in the Rams war room for this year's NFL Draft. I just need you to be in the war room and report on what a fine organization is being run by Fisher and Les Snead. No big deal, just say nothing negative about the job Jeff Fisher is doing, exactly like you have been doing so far even though Fisher has hired a coach who placed bounties on opposing players and then hired that coach's son when he not ready for the position."

(Peter King) "Oh, sir, you know I'd never say nothing negative about the Fisher team being run down there in St. Louis."

(Marvin Demoff) "Again, it's 'over there,' not 'down there.' While you are in St. Louis writing about all the great things the Rams organization is doing, take a tour of St. Louis and get to know the city so you know where the hell it is. Just convince your bosses this is the team you need to be embedded with or I will never give you Favre's cell phone number."

(Peter King) "I'll get done, sir. I do the good work and will make Mr. Fisher seem like the next Bob Lombardi---"

(Marvin Demoff) "It's 'Vince Lombardi," Peter, not 'Bob Lombardi.'"

(Peter King) "Either way, you'll be real impressed with the work I'll do. I'm gonna make him look real good and see if I can't help you land him another contract in St. Louis."

(Marvin Demoff) "That's real good Peter. I'm proud of you. Make me even prouder and remember to never ever say anything bad about the Rams and say only good things about who they draft."

(Peter King) "I won't forget, I promise sir. And I'm taking that tour of St. Louis while I'm there. Nebraska is such a beautiful state I bet."

(Marvin Demoff) "St. Louis is in Missou---ok, just go convince your bosses, Peter. Talk to you later."

Being with the coaches, GM, scouts and execs of the Rams for Round 1, I saw and heard what a rush the draft is for football-freak 30- and 40-somethings.

The NFL is popular and those who have jobs with NFL teams like their job. Apparently this is a concept Peter had never come to understand prior to spending time in the Rams' war room. Peter just figured everyone read MMQB for his sharp wit and astute observations on the Red Sox team.

There's gambling -- which the Rams did especially well in moving from pick 22 to pick 30.

(Marvin Demoff nods his head in encouragement and rubs his hands together excitedly at how Peter is starting MMQB off)

There are big-screen TVs, and the occasional chuckle at a Kiper or Mayock statement, and catered swordfish and strip steaks, and you're with all your friends (mostly), doing what guys love to do: talk football.

I feel like I am really there in the war room. What a descriptive narrative by Peter King. There is big-screen televisions and catered swordfish? It's not like Peter to bring up any interesting perks he gets while doing his job, so you know this must have been some really good catered swordfish.

I was here to write a story on the Rams for this week's issue of Sports Illustrated (shameless plug -- on iPads Wednesday and newsstands Thursday!).

So we get a preview of the article on the Rams in MMQB AND we get an entire full article in "Sports Illustrated" this week? It's going to be interesting to read about the Rams war room, but it is such a coincidence that Peter was embedded with Jeff Fisher's team. I'm interested to learn more about Jeff Fisher's plan to go 8-8 this upcoming year. I am kidding of course, the Rams seemingly did a great job in the draft and it is just a coincidence Peter breathlessly reported on Fisher's decision between the Dolphins and the Rams over a year ago. It was just a coincidence and had nothing to do with Peter throwing his agent a solid by driving up the interest in his client.

Well, I lucked out, as you'll read in the story this week, because GM Les Snead, coach Jeff Fisher and COO Kevin Demoff made stuff happen.

Wait, wait...Kevin Demoff? That must be a misspelling because there is a Marvin Demoff that represents Fisher and Peter King. It turns out this is not a misspelling and Kevin Demoff his Marvin Demoff's son.

So for those of you keeping track, Jeff Fisher was hired by his agent's son and now that same agent has another of his clients who is a respected reporter in the Rams war room reporting on the Rams draft day dealings and selections. A more jaded person would say Marvin Demoff worked this all out so his client, who is a reporter, could report positive things about another one of his clients, Jeff Fisher, so that his son who happens to be the COO of the Rams would look good. I am not jaded and would never suggest anything like this was ever thought nor happened. It was all just a coincidence.

You saw the Rams trade twice -- from 16 up to eight, to take wideout/returner Tavon Austin, and from 22 down to 30, to take versatile linebacker Alec Ogletree -- but what you didn't see was the glee in the room when both picks were made.

You also won't hear from Peter about the red flags that came along with Alec Ogletree and how Austin is a bit of a risk because he put up his fantastic numbers in a very wide receiver-friendly college system and is not built like the typical #1 wide receiver.

Twenty-five or so football people in the room, not in cliques or camps, but together, and pretty excited when the moves were made. Case in point: When Ogletree was picked, special teams coach John Fassel and linebackers coach Frank Bush high-fived and considered the impact of the first two picks.

My question to Peter would be this...the Rams traded up to get Tavon Austin and Alec Ogletree, so why would anyone expect the Rams organization to be upset about these picks specifically when they traded up to get these players? Is it really news that the Rams organization was happy about these picks? They traded up to specifically acquire these players.

"Wait,'' Fassel said. "I don't want him to block the punts -- I want to see Tavon return 'em!''
And they both laughed the kind of laugh you hear in a draft room when you've just had a good day.

It's all rainbows and sunshine in the Rams war room. Well played Marvin Demoff, well played.

Will Austin be the electric player he was at West Virginia? Don't know.

But Peter does know the Rams were excited to pick Austin and that has to mean something, right? Usually the staff of an NFL team mopes around after selecting a player they specifically traded up to acquire.

Will Ogletree be all player and no distraction, which made him tumble down the board in Round 1? Don't know that either. But for one night, the Rams seemed to help their team quite a bit, and it's obvious from the view I got why football's such a drug to so many.

BREAKING NEWS: An NFL team liked their draft picks.

Topics of the day:

1. I admire what Doug Marrone did. I think passing on the quarterback who helped him get an NFL head-coaching job was tough -- but it was the loyal thing to his organization, and the honorable thing to do once he found he liked E.J. Manuel more than his own Ryan Nassib.

So Peter admires Doug Marrone for choosing the quarterback he likes best who will also best enable him to keep his NFL head coaching job? It doesn't take much to get Peter's admiration it seems. Do what is best for you to keep your current job and Peter thinks you are a peachy guy.

Why would Marrone draft a quarterback he doesn't believe is the best option at #16 in the first round? Is there an NFL head coach who would do this completely out of loyalty to one of his college players?

2. Who doesn't love what the Vikings did? Sharrif Floyd 23rd?

Players sometimes fall for a reason, plus he has short arms, which apparently is a bad thing for a defensive lineman.

The most dangerous deep-threat receiver in the pool, Cordarrelle Patterson, 29th?

I remember the last time the Vikings selected a dangerous deep-threat and a defensive lineman in the first round it was Troy Williamson and Erasmus James. I'm not saying Patterson and Floyd are going to be busts, but let's not crown the Vikings quite yet. They appear to have had a great draft, but Patterson isn't exactly a non-risk at #29.

4. Cleveland does the Belichickian thing, trading into the future.

Except unlike Belichick's Patriots teams the Browns need good players right now. There's a small difference in the Belichick approach for the Patriots and the Browns.

5. The quarterbacks didn't go 6-29-31-33-40, the way we were sold that they might. They went 16-39-73-98-110. They fell because we all bought the hype --

What's this "we" shit? I didn't buy into any hype. My mock draft had one quarterback going in the first round. Granted, I was WAY off on when Nassib would go, but there isn't a "we" in the conversation. Peter King bought into the hype.

As one personnel man told me Sunday: "I think we just couldn't believe there wasn't a run on them late in the first round, and it's because it turned out teams just didn't see them as their quarterbacks of the future.''

Thank God I have this quote from an anonymous personnel guy to tell me that teams who don't like a quarterback won't draft that quarterback in the first round. This is completely new knowledge to me.

Here will be one of the great trivia questions five years from now: Who was the first running back picked in the 2013 draft? Even this morning, you have to think hard to say Giovani Bernard (37th, to Cincinnati). This was the first time since 1973 a runner wasn't picked in the first round, and no wonder. In 2010, an undrafted back (Arian Foster) won the rushing title. In 2011, the top five in the rushing race were drafted 60th, 55th, 154th, 53rd and not at all. And of course last year, the 173rd pick, a rookie, Alfred Morris, finished second in the rushing race to Adrian Peterson.

Where was Adrian Peterson drafted again? That's right, the first round. So there may not have been a franchise running back in this year's draft, but it still may be worth it from time-to-time to draft running backs in the first round.

There can still be great running backs picked high, but why do it unless you have a combo speed/power guy like Peterson -- especially when rushing gems drop out of the sky on Day 3?

What if a team has found it's speed/power guy in the 2014 draft and wants to make sure they get this running back by drafting him in the first round? Does that make it a bad pick or did they simply draft the guy they wanted when they wanted him? Say Eddie Lacy has a great rookie season, wouldn't it make sense for an NFL team to look at T.J. Yeldon and think, "It may be worth it to take him with a first round pick"?

13. Two Philly thoughts: I have no idea what Chip Kelly's going to do on offense, and I think he likes it that way. If two of his three quarterbacks (Nick Foles and Matt Barkley) are pocket guys, is he really going to make his quarterback pocket a movable feast? I think Tony Dungy's right (his son played for Kelly at Oregon) when he says he expects Kelly's NFL offense to be like Buffalo's under Jim Kelly -- very fast-paced, but not necessarily with a quarterback who has to run to win

Is having a fast-paced offense not necessarily with a quarterback who has to run to win any different from the hurry-up offense the Patriots run or the no-huddle offense the Falcons ran at times last year? I fully expect Chip Kelly to do some different things in terms of running the Eagles offense, but there are NFL teams who run a fast-paced offense without a quarterback who has to run to win.

14. Stop killing the Cowboys. Just stop. Dallas got the No. 1 center on many boards at 31 (Travis Frederick), filling a gaping hole; an offensive tight end to someday replace Jason Witten (Gavin Escobar) at 47; and a 51-game starter at wideout from Baylor, Terrance Williams (who averaged 19 yards a catch last year) at 74. As one GM told me Sunday: "Frederick might be a reach, but if you get a starter for your team for six or eight years -- at any position -- isn't that worth the 31st pick overall in a lousy draft?"

This wasn't a lousy draft at all. If anything this is one of the deepest drafts over the last decade. There were quality players to be found in the fourth and fifth round. It certainly wasn't considered a top-heavy draft, but the draft wasn't lousy.

When Arizona took Mathieu early in the third round, I immediately thought that was the kind of move other teams in the NFC West would have tried.

Upon hearing this I immediately think you are an idiot and I have no idea what you mean by this comment.

Seattle went the risky route with Bruce Irvin in the first round last year (and took cornerback Tharold Simon two days after he was arrested this year).

There is a big difference in drafting Bruce Irvin in the first round and taking Mathieu in the third round. There is less money involved and there are more questions about Mathieu's ability to be mature and thrive in the NFL. Bruce Irvin was more of a risk because he was seen as being drafted too early. Irvin broke a sign in March of 2012 and had spent 2.5 weeks in jail five years before being drafted. Mathieu's red flags were more numerous and also spread over a shorter period of time.

"It's uncharacteristic of our organization to take chances on guys with troubled pasts,'' Cardinals general manager Steve Keim told me Sunday night. "But we thought this was a good player and person for us to take.''

"He is good at football," is all Steve Keim had to say. That's what he really means.

The Cardinals, one league source told me earlier Sunday, will randomly drug test Mathieu as often as weekly after he signs his NFL contract -- a contract, I'm told, that will not include any guaranteed money. Rather, Mathieu will earn bonus money in the form of roster bonuses, to ensure that the club is protected in the event that he lapses and the team chooses to cut him. If that happens, the Cardinals will be out a prime draft choice, but not any guaranteed money. Last year's 69th pick, wideout T.J. Graham of the Bills, signed a four-year deal with a $671,000 bonus. For Mathieu to make that money, he'll have to be a member of the Cardinals in good standing week to week -- and clean.

I'm not sure Peter is completely understanding the issue with Mathieu. It isn't the money the Cardinals should be worried most about. For them, taking a chance on a player who will earn a $700,000 isn't a huge risk. This is the team that gave Kevin Kolb a huge contract, so if Mathieu doesn't stick I don't think money would be the Cardinals biggest concern. The concern is mostly about spending an early third round draft choice on a player who has red flags when it comes to his personal life and behavior. It's smart for the Cardinals to protect themselves in terms of bonus money, but I wouldn't think the money spent on a third round draft choice is the main concern here.

Some team was going to take Mathieu, 

Most likely an NFC West team, because drafting Mathieu is the kind of move other NFC West teams would have tried.

others were interested somewhere in the middle of the draft.

Mainly NFC West teams of course. Only that division would have the out-of-the-box thinking to draft a guy like Mathieu. We all know it is a move Jeff Fisher would have tried because he is the perfect combination of willing to give a guy a second chance while also being a disciplinarian who doesn't stand for a player's bullshit.

Oakland GM Reggie McKenzie said the health scare "became a non-issue for us'' once Raiders medical officials cleared him.

When I heard the Raiders took D.J. Hayden in the first round I thought that was the kind of move an AFC West team would try to pull. That's SO AFC West to draft a guy who almost died on the football field!

Can he? Hayden hasn't been in a football practice or game since that fateful day last November in Houston. He said he's rough-housed with friends around his home, but hasn't had the kind of contact he'll have come July in Raiders camp. Will he be able to put the accident out of his mind when bigger, stronger and faster players come at him from all directions?

"Great question,'' he said. "I definitely understand that. You don't know 'til you get out there. The chance of it happening again are slim and none. But I can tell you I think the more reps I get, the more comfortable I will be and the better I will do. I am not worried about it.''

Hmmm...this doesn't exactly instill confidence that Hayden won't be a little gun-shy once he gets out on the football field. "You don't know until you get out there," while probably true, isn't exactly making me believe Hayden won't be affected the first time he tries to tackle an opposing player.

Nix and Marrone both judged Manuel the best quarterback in the crop. Buffalo traded from No. 8 t in the first round to No. 16, picked Manuel at 16, and stashed an extra second-round pick in the process.

When I talked to Marrone on Sunday, it was apparent that even though the pick was three days old, the impact of it -- all of it -- was still fresh. And it still bothered him.

"I don't know if words can explain it,'' Marrone said from his office.

Yeah, you can explain it. You like Manuel better than Nassib. It's business. Drafting Nassib in the first round simply to show sort of loyalty to him despite not thinking he was the best quarterback for the Bills would have been doing Nassib any good, Marrone any good, and the Bills any good.

"The responsibility I had was to get the best player we could get. There are a lot of people relying on me to get the best players we can get here -- all the people in the organization and all the fans who buy tickets to see us play.''

NFL coaches pass on their ex-players all the time. Pete Carroll passed on Taylor Mays a few years ago and he still hasn't regretted that decision.

I don't see it as disloyal. I see it as a coach who got a job and whose new job is to look at a pool of players and pick the best one. Why would he automatically pick the one he'd been with, just because he'd been with him and had success?

I'm not sure any rational person has stated that Doug Marrone should have drafted Ryan Nassib purely out of loyalty. He's arguing with no one. I feel like there is a future JemeHill column titled, "Everyone Who Thinks Doug Marrone Should Have Drafted Ryan Nassib Out of Loyalty is Wrong."

Should he put on blinders because he'd won with one player and pick a player he felt deep down was inferior to another one? No. His loyalty is with the Buffalo Bills now, not to the players had at Syracuse.

Again, this seems pretty obvious. I really don't know who would argue with Marrone not taking Nassib if he didn't think he was the best quarterback for Buffalo.

Now about the Manuel pick. Marrone didn't want to get into comparison shopping here, because saying what one guy does better than the other is going to leave the second guy looking like a loser. But Manuel, though a questionable decision-maker, was more accurate last season. He's two inches taller and a better athlete. Now, there are things Nassib did better. He's more instinctive in the pocket and appears to be better at picking the right target downfield.

So Nassib has better instincts for a quarterback and throws the ball to the right guy better. Manuel looks more like a quarterback, which is something I thought was seeming less and less important, but that's neither here nor there.

No. But who wouldn't be impressed with Barkley's demeanor after he was the 98th overall pick, a year after choosing to stay in school when he could have been a top 10 pick after his third straight standout season at USC?

So it is the time of the column where we compliment Matt Barkley for having all of the measurables of a starting NFL quarterback except the skill set required?

"Whether I'm the first pick or whether I'm Mr. Irrelevant, I'm in the NFL now. My jersey's not going to say, 'Fourth round Barkley.' It's going to say, 'Barkley.' ''

Well, that's assuming Barkley even gets a jersey on Sundays. He could end up wearing the Clausen line of sideline wear that includes a mike in his ear, a team t-shirt, and a sad look on his face. This is what the inactive NFL quarterback rocks while on the sidelines.

"Repetitive accuracy is the No. 1 quality we're looking for in a quarterback,'' Kelly said Saturday, and when he was asked about Barkley's average arm strength, he said, "We're not trying to knock over milk cartons at the county fair.''

Repetitive accuracy is the No. 1 quality Chip Kelly wants in a quarterback? Kelly does realize his starting quarterback has a career completion percentage of 56.3% (though Vick's accuracy has been much better in Philadelphia)?

But the consensus was he'd have been a top 10 pick. Tannehill's deal: four years, $12.7 million. The 98th pick last year, Ravens center Gino Gradkowski, signed for four years and $2.58 million. Turns out it was a $10.1 million year of school for Matt Barkley.

Man, I hope it was worth it. Go on take the money and run is what I always say. Don't give the scouts time to pick you apart and decide why you aren't a Top-10 pick.

Cleveland made two of the three trades for next year's picks, which is something Bill Belichick always has liked to do -- and Cleveland GM Mike Lombardi goes to the Belichick school of draft maneuvering.

This is where the similarities between these two begin and end. Otherwise, Bill Belichick is Bill Belichick and Mike Lombardi is Mike Lombardi. He can't ride those Belichick coattails forever and the comparisons between the two end quickly.

Browns fans: Just remember when Josh Gordon is crushed over the middle by the heir to Troy Polamalu, Syracuse strong safety Shamarko Thomas, Thomas is the guy your team let the Steelers have.

Well, Doug Marrone also passed on Thomas (Thomas went to Syracuse) to take Duke Williams, so there's a chance Shamarko Thomas isn't the heir apparent to Troy Polamalu.

Then Peter gives credit to Ted Thompson for having Eddie Lacy and Jonathan Franklin fall to him. I like both picks, but after writing about the running back position has been devalued Peter shouldn't act so surprised top running backs are available in the second and fourth rounds. After all, Peter just pointed out how many of the leading rushers during the 2012 season were not early round picks. So Ted Thompson was merely smart and knew he could get the guy he wanted in the draft given the current state of the running back position.

On a trade you paid no attention to.

Stop telling me what I did or did not pay attention to.

Now as the picks ticked by, they knew they risked losing the linebacker they liked most at this point, Kansas State's Arthur Brown. So the Ravens dealt the 62nd pick along with fifth- and sixth-round picks to Seattle for the 56th pick. They picked Brown.

It's a fucking riveting story and I originally had Brown mocked to the Ravens in the first round, but backed off it because I'm a wimp. Boy, I wish I had paid more attention to this trade. Thanks for pointing out what I do or don't pay attention to, Peter.

Brown's a potential captain, the kind of leader the Ravens hope two or three years down the road will start to fill the void left by Ray Lewis. Great trade.

A great trade, no, a fantastic trade. If only I had paid more attention to it.

I write quite a bit in the magazine in my Rams story about the trade from 22 to 30 for Alec Ogletree. The Rams coveted Ogletree, and they took a calculated risk they'd lose him by not picking him at 22. In fact, had they lost Ogletree between 22 and 30, it would have cast a pall over the entire draft.

No, it would have cast a pall over the entire universe as a whole. The Rams had to have Alec Ogletree. Fortunately they have the best GM and head coach in the history of the NFL.

But that's why they pay Jeff Fisher and Les Snead the big dough.

And boy are they worth it! (Marvin Demoff smiles happily)

The trade brought back Atlanta's third-round pick, and with that pick, the Rams picked West Virginia wideout Stedman Bailey, who led college football with 25 touchdown catches last year. Bailey and Tavon Austin could remake the Rams' attack into a latter-day Greatest Show on Turf with their quickness and playmaking ability downfield. 

Again, these two guys also played in an incredibly wide receiver-friendly college offense and are both under six feet. I feel like this needs to be mentioned before we start comparing them to Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce.

And it never would have happened if Snead and Fisher hadn't taken the risk of potentially losing Ogletree. Win some, lose some. But the weekend, as I'll explain in my story this week, was a big win for the Rams -- assuming Ogletree is a solid citizen as well as a playmaking linebacker.

"Jeff Fisher and Les Snead are risk-takers! But not such big risk-takers that they take bad risks. Oh no, they are smart risk-takers, the perfect blend of pretty much anything any head coach and GM should be. Under the management of rising genius COO Kevin Demoff the Rams are on an upper trajectory in the NFC West."

I would imagine that's how Marvin Demoff demanded the first sentence of Peter's column on the Rams would begin.

"I'm all in for Week 1, just like you guys are."

-- Robert Griffin III, the rehabbing Washington quarterback, at the club's draft party for fans over the weekend. He jumped up and down on stage, and the crowd reacted like a packed house at a Jay-Z show.

"...reacted like a packed house at a Jay-Z show." Peter is hip with his urban music analogies. He knows what a "Jay-Z" is, he can Superman that ho' and knows all the modern dance moves (Peter starts doing the Macarena).

Then Peter begins absolutely salivating all over Tavon Austin to the point it is embarrassing.

I enlisted SI college football guru Andy Staples to help me with the math on something that amazes me about the smurfy Austin, the first pick of the St. Louis Rams and the only offensive skill player to be picked in the top 15 of the 2013 draft. Austin told me he missed one practice in his four years at West Virginia. Doing the math with Staples, if you figure Austin went through three sets of spring practices (15 per year, 45 total), four preseasons (25 per year, 100 total), four bowl games (15 per year, 60 total) and about 50 regular-season practices per year (100 total), that adds up to 405 practices.

Austin practiced 404 out of 405 West Virginia practices, then, and played in 52 of 52 WVU games.

 More bonus facts about Austin: In his first 48 college games, he rushed the ball only 51 times, mostly on end-arounds and options. In his 49th game, against Oklahoma, he rushed 21 times for 344 yards. Imagine having a game with runs of 74, 56, 54 and 47 yards ... in one half (the second).

The Big 12 record for all-purpose yards in a game prior to that game was 375. Against Oklahoma, Austin had 572.

I realize Austin is an exciting player, but Peter isn't doing much to make my kooky conspiracy theory that he is pumping up the Rams' draft and Jeff Fisher simply because his agent (Marvin Demoff) represents Fisher and King, while Demoff's song is the COO of the Rams. It just all seems too perfect in my mind, though I know it probably isn't true. Maybe if Peter wrote something negative about the Rams it would help, but good luck with that happening.

The first names of the seven Denver draft picks: Sylvester, Montee, Kayvon, Quanterus, Tavarres, Vinston and Zac.

Peter loves to bring up when a minority player has a funny name. He is never not shocked at how creative minorities can be with these names they give their children. They so crazy!

Mr. Starwood Preferred Member Travel Note of the Week

And as Marvin Demoff instructed, Peter did take a tour of St. Louis. He notes this in his weekly travel note.

Here in St. Louis, with a couple of hours free Thursday afternoon and not wanting to obsess about the draft, I took a walk from my downtown hotel over to the Gateway Arch. I've seen it before, but not really up close. I walked around both bases of it -- it's much wider than I thought.

Why does it not shock me that the Gateway Arch is wider than Peter thought?

And there was a tour group of what looked to be junior-high kids hearing a guide give some of the facts and figures of the Arch, so I loitered in the back and listened.

Let's call this what it really was, Peter King leered in the background as innocent school children took a tour of the Gateway Arch, causing the adult chaperones to get a step or two closer to the children for their own protection.

It's beautiful, by the way.

Thanks for the information. I can't wait for Peter's visit to the Grand Canyon where he remarks it is deeper than he expected, but more majestic than he ever imagined.

Ten Things I Think I Think

2. I think if I'm Mark Sanchez, I ask John Idzik very respectfully to put me out of my misery and release me.

I think if I am John Idzik then I wouldn't release Mark Sanchez until I know Geno Smith could be a good backup and that David Gerrard can be a temporary starter. I don't know if I would go about releasing Sanchez until I know a rookie and a guy who didn't play football last year could hold down the starting quarterback job. We all know Sanchez isn't a great quarterback, he isn't even an average quarterback, but take it from a guy who has watched Jimmy Clausen start at quarterback, it can be much worse than having Sanchez as the Jets starting quarterback.

Whether you think it was smart to take Smith or not, the fact is he's in Jersey now, and the Jets are going to give him a fair shot to be the long-term quarterback. It's silly to think it's not going to be a total zoo around that team if Sanchez stays this season. I'd rather have a prayer with team peace while developing a new quarterback and spending $91 million on players than mayhem and spending $103 million.

This isn't a bad plan, but it is always a zoo in New York anyway. Plus, if Rex Ryan has any say left in the organization then he isn't about to start to get his season-ending firing started in May by developing a new quarterback and giving himself zero backup options at the quarterback position that he trusts at least 20% to win games.

I think the Jets should release Sanchez, but not necessarily be in a rush to do so.

5. I think this illustrates the bizarre nature of this year's draft: One team I spoke with Friday, not in the market to draft a quarterback but stunned at the descent of Ryan Nassib, told me Nassib was the second-rated quarterback on its board. And one team I spoke with Sunday had 10 quarterbacks rated higher than Nassib.

It's almost like each NFL team has a very different draft board that reflects how each team values the collegiate players entering the NFL Draft.

b. GM David Caldwell saw Denard Robinson for what he was -- a versatile weapon who loves football -- and plucked him 135th overall. What will he be? A running back, probably. Or a slot receiver, or a wide receiver, or a Brad Smith-esque quarterback/receiver. What I've said about Tim Tebow for a year holds true for Robinson:

He's worthless and shouldn't be considered a quarterback by any stretch of the imagination?

Just get the guy on your team and find something for him to do. He'll find a way with his hands on the ball to be a factor.

Except Tebow didn't do anything with the football in his hands on the ball over the last year. I know, I know, these are just small details. Tebow is awesome and no one will give him a shot. NFL teams are famous for not giving talented players a chance to show what they can do on the football field.

c. Skeptical about the smurfy (5-7, 173-pound) receiver/returner Ace Sanders in the fourth round? Understandable. But Sanders was the guy the Rams would have targeted in the third or fourth round if they weren't able to move up for Tavon Austin.

Oh, well I didn't know the Rams were going to draft Ace Sanders if they couldn't get Tavon Austin. The fact the Rams were going to draft Sanders totally changes my opinion of Sanders as a receiver. I didn't realize Ace Sanders was such an NFC West-type pick. Now if the Vikings were going to draft Sanders if they didn't get Corradelle Patterson, well then obviously that means Sanders would suck as a wide receiver.

7. I think, not that it's going to tell the tale of the guy's career, there was a little bit too much woe-is-me head-hanging out of Geno Smith Thursday night. Buck up, fella.

He had booked a hotel room for Thursday night and didn't get drafted so he had to make the decision to stay in town one more night or stay behind and show up after he didn't get drafted in the first round. It's embarrassing. I think it's natural to hang your head when you are being shown on national television every five minutes with the fact you haven't been chosen yet being discussed constantly.

9. I think Manti Te'o at 25 would have been eminently justified. Manti Te'o at 38 is a value pick for San Diego.A value pick when they traded up to get him? Speaking of woe-is-me head-hanging, how about the ESPN draft analysts mentioning the fact Te'o had not gotten chosen every five minutes?

10.I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:

a. Been a little busy with football thoughts this week to have non-football ones, but I'll give it a go.

That was Peter's first thought. His first non-football thought was that he didn't have many non-football thoughts.

e. Thanks for putting Houston in the American League, whoever did that.

Yeah, "whoever did that." I'm pretty sure it is easy to figure out who put Houston in the American League. I'm surprised Peter even knows there is an MLB team in Houston. He probably wasn't aware of this until the Red Sox played the Astros recently. Peter loves baseball, you know. He just seems to know very little about the sport.

f. Red Sox and Yankees, 33-16. Rays and Jays, 21-30. Wasn't it supposed to be the other way around this year?

It's almost like the preseason narratives don't perfectly describe exactly how the season is going to end up progressing. The Blue Jays were good on paper and the Red Sox weren't, how could reality be different? Peter's world is shaken. 

g. Coffeenerdness: St. Louis has Peet's coffee, which automatically makes it a place worth visiting. It's in the casino down by the Arch.

I'm guessing this isn't the same casino that Peter visited in New Orleans after the Super Bowl where he was shocked that there were drunk people and not a lively, spirited crowd at 6am. Who knew casinos could be a place for such ruffians at 6am?

j. Forgive me my limited non-football notes this week. I'll be better next week.

Actually, by doing better you would have even more limited set of non-football notes.

The Adieu Haiku

Vikes picked a punter.
Chris Kluwe, endangered dude?
Come write for SI.

Just average punter.
Peter likes his politics.
CFL next stop.

Monday, April 29, 2013

3 comments It Would Be Kind of Nice If the Players Would Let the Owners Make a Few Bucks Too

Remember back in the good old days when baseball players had to take second jobs to support their family, the owners got to pocket more of their team's profits, and everyone got to make money off the players while the players' salaries were held down by a lack of a free market? Yeah, this sort of describes collegiate sports now, but Edward McClelland misses those days in professional sports as well. Whatever happened to the owners just being able to pocket more of a team's profits? The fact these professional athletes are becoming so well-paid really ticks off McClelland and it makes him not enjoy sports at all. The free market sucks. Employees with elite abilities should get paid their fair market value, except for athletes, because that makes McClelland irritated at the idea of the economic inequality of it all.

I enjoy the fact McClelland, who clearly fancies himself quite the economic expert, doesn't see sports revenue seems to be a zero-sum game. If the players get paid less, somebody pockets more money. How are the owners pocketing more money and the players pocketing less money getting rid of the economic inequality in sports? The answer: It isn't.

I’ve been a Tigers fan since I was 11 years old, and I filled scrapbooks with stories about Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker clipped from the Detroit Free Press. Hanging on my office wall is a framed photo of Kirk Gibson celebrating his second home run in Game 5 of the 1984 World Series.

Those were the days before free agency and the unionization of Major League Baseball players, you know, the good ol---wait, you mean the players unionized and were granted free agency before 1984? So how come McClelland originally started liking sports when there was income inequality and now he is all up in arms over this same income inequality? Perhaps McClelland was too young in 1984 to understand how little money the players deserve and how many profits the owners deserve.

Last fall, after the Giants swept the Tigers in the World Series, I insisted their championship was as illegitimate as George W. Bush’s presidency, because they’d reached the postseason with the help of Melky Cabrera’s PED use.

It's a relevant political comment! It's 2013 and McClelland is still making comments about the 2000 election. Not that he is bitter or goes out of his way to bash low-hanging fruit of course.

You might think I would’ve been happy, then, when the Tigers signed Justin Verlander, the most dominant pitcher of this century, to a contract that will pay him $180 million over seven years. But it turns out there is a point at which my lifelong love of the Tigers, and of Major League Baseball, collides with my equally strong loathing of economic inequality. And that point is $25.7 million a year.

Verlander is perhaps the best pitcher in the major leagues. He has a skill set few other human beings have. This makes him valuable and he gets paid as if he were this valuable.

In 1972, the year I became aware of baseball, its highest-paid player, Hank Aaron, earned $200,000 per season—the equivalent of around $1 million today. Aaron’s salary was 18 times the median household income in the United States.

Hmmm...this seems like an example of quite a large income inequality from before Justin Verlander signed a $180 million contract. Sure, this gap in the median household income and MLB players has gotten wider, but 18 times the median household income is a pretty damn good example of income inequality. Remember, this income inequality comes from 1972, before the MLB players unionized and ruined everything.

"Forget this though," says Edward McClelland, "sure, there was a large income disparity in 1972 but things are worse today and that's all that matters. Stop poking holes in my argument."

This year’s highest-paid player, Alex Rodriguez, stands to earn $29 million, which is 580 times the median income.

BREAKING NEWS: Alex Rodriguez is overpaid and earns more than the average American earns.

What McClelland fails to take into account is that if A-Rod wasn't earning $29 million this money wouldn't be going to his favorite charity or to cancer research. This money would be going in the pockets of Yankees ownership (as long as there is not an intentional decrease in revenues). Don't believe me? Take a look at pretty much any large corporation in the United States. The CEO of many companies are paid outrageously, and if the CEO isn't the owner of the business, the owner of that business is also being compensated handsomely. You know who isn't being paid handsomely? The typical employee of that company. It's a zero-sum game. If there is $50 million in profits to go around, once $10 million is taken from one person then it goes to another person in that company, most likely the owner. Sometimes this money would be reinvested in the company, but in professional sports I think I know where that $10 million would go. So the basic argument McClelland is making is that the MLB owners deserve more money.

Over the past 40 years—the period of rising economic inequality that former Slate columnist Timothy Noah called “The Great Divergence”—Americans’ incomes have not grown at all, in real dollars. But baseball players’ incomes have increased twentyfold in real dollars: the average major-league salary in 2012 was $3,213,479.

"The Great Divergence" really had nothing to do with sports or the income of baseball players, outside of the fact MLB players tend to be very wealthy. So in a roundabout way, Timothy Noah was referring to baseball players, but not exactly in the context of the present discussion about MLB player contracts. Also, if MLB players make less money then those funds go in the pocket of the Tigers owner, thereby increasing this "Great Divergence" even more.

The income gap between ballplayers and their fans closely resembles the rising gap between CEOs and their employees, which grew during the same period from roughly 25-to-1 to 380-to-1.

So wouldn't it be fair to say the increase in MLB players' income isn't a product of the players unionizing or free agency, but is a product of the income of the upper class continuing to pull away from the income of the middle class? It's a systemic issue rather than a sports-related issue.

Now, rooting for any team is like rooting for U.S. Steel. Even the Houston Astros, whose 25 quadruple-A players will earn less money combined than A-Rod in 2013, have a higher payroll, in real dollars, than those Yankees of the 1950s.

Again, it is a zero-sum game. If the Astros chose to dramatically lower ticket prices then this could perhaps change, but as long as revenues are where they are at someone is going to be making money off the Houston Astros, it's just the players now have a bigger piece of the pie.

I’m singling out professional athletes for my class envy because they’re the highest-profile beneficiaries of changes that have enriched those at the top of the economic order while impoverishing those at the bottom.

I think CEO's are pretty high-profile as well and their income has risen in tandem with the income of professional athletes. Sure, the average person doesn't know the CEO of Cisco, but the fact he makes many times more than the median household in the United States doesn't make this fact any less egregious. At least professional athletes provide some entertainment in our lives.

Athletes’ bargaining power was constrained by the reserve clause, which tied a player’s rights to a single team for his entire career.

On its face, this seems patently unfair. I think free agency has not been a step back for professional sports and the fact it has raised the income of athletes and their bargaining power isn't necessarily a bad thing. It can be a frustrating thing for fans of a team to see a guy like A-Rod make $29 million, but if a person is so annoyed at the idea of A-Rod making $29 million then he can simply stop watching sports. The rich aren't going to get any less rich.

The deregulation of the American economy that began in the 1970s has increased the salaries of professional athletes enormously while reducing those of blue-collar workers

Yes, it is the fault of baseball players that wages for blue-collar workers have been stagnating. If only A-Rod didn't make $29 million then that wealth could be spread out to blue-collar workers. That's how it would happen, right? The Yankees would start to pay their vendors more, their front office staff more, their parking attendants more, because all of this $29 million would be redistributed out to them. Fuck you, A-Rod for destroying the American blue-collar worker.

Because the reserve clause was eliminated at the insistence of the Major League Baseball Players Association, the Seitz decision is considered a victory for organized labor. It wasn’t. It was a victory for the laissez-faire marketplace.

I hate it when capitalism wins! How dare someone with a unique skill set experience a sharp increase in wages due to this unique skill set!

Baseball players are entertainers with specialized skills. They didn’t start earning their true market value until they were allowed to negotiate individually with owners—the antithesis of collective bargaining.

Their what? Their "true value?" So how can we argue with baseball contracts increasing at an exponential rate if this exponential increase represents the true value of these players? I think professional athletes get paid too much, but I also think a lot of other people get paid too much money. Athletes aren't the only ones who are underpaid and blue-collar workers aren't the only ones who are underpaid.

Marvin Miller, the former United Steelworkers of America economist who became executive director of the MLBPA, was a talent agent, not a labor boss.

This is a bizarre statement considering Marvin Miller did an excellent impression of a labor boss during his time as the MLB union chief.

In 1981, both the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization and the MLBPA went on strike. The air-traffic controllers were fired—a disastrous event for the labor movement, as it signaled that the Reagan administration would not protect the interests of unions. 

So it is Ronald Reagan and A-Rod's fault that professional athletes make too much money? Unions are bad, unless they aren't bad, in which case they are good? Professional athletes have no right to unionize, but blue-collar workers do?

Meanwhile, the players went back to work in 1981, and their salaries continued rising. The MLBPA became one of the nation’s most powerful unions because only 500 people in the world can hit a major-league curveball and only a few hundred can throw one. Unlike air-traffic controllers—or millwrights, or miners, or tool-and-die makers—they can’t be replaced without ruining the product, because they are the product.

This explains very well why once the MLBPA was formed that the salary of MLB players sky-rocketed. They have a unique skill set. I fail to see how A-Rod shouldn't get $29 million of a $2.3 billion business if he IS the product for that business. Yeah, he is overpaid, but $2.3 billion is a lot of money also. If player's salaries were cut, then the only way income inequality could be avoided is if the Yankees forgo potential profits to lower ticket prices and thereby decrease revenues. The middle-class could more easily afford tickets, the baseball players would have a salary cut and the Yankees owners would not get a bigger piece of the pie at the expense of these other two parties. Good luck getting the Yankees to redistribute this wealth and forgo making more money.

A 2002 article by Keith Sill of the Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank calls this the “skill premium.” Sill explains that since 1970, “the wages paid to the most highly skilled workers—those who have higher levels of education, ability, or job training—have increased dramatically relative to the wages of the least skilled workers.”

Again, this is a systemic issue. This column could just as easily be about CEO's.

Since 1972, the major-league minimum salary has risen from $13,500 to $480,000. But Hank Aaron earned just 15 times as much as the lowest-paid rookie. A-Rod, by contrast, makes 60 times more than the poorest major leaguer.

I know A-Rod is a good example to use with him being the highest-paid player in the majors, but I would guess a guy like Justin Verlander may have 53 times more value than the lowest-paid rookie pitcher. This is factoring in jersey sales, publicity the Tigers get for Verlander being their employee, his value on the field, and any other tangible and intangible value that goes along with the Tigers employing Justin Verlander. I have no proof of this and it is just a guess, but Verlander has a great amount of value to the Tigers team that is worth $643 million. Yes, Verlander is overpaid, but he holds a lot of value to the Tigers.

As baseball players accumulate plutocratic riches (Rodriguez will have earned a third of $1 billion by the time his contract expires), I find myself wondering why I’m supposed to cheer for a guy earning $27.5 million a year—he’s already a winner

Well, considering you are a Tigers fan and Alex Rodriguez plays for the Yankees...you aren't supposed to be cheering for him because he doesn't play for your favorite team. Why do you continue to purchase products from and support companies who have a CEO making $27.5 million? They don't need your support. Why do you write columns for Slate? They are already successful without you and don't need you writing for them.

When I was 11, I hero-worshipped the Tigers’ shortstop because I could imagine growing up to take his place. Obviously, that’s not going to happen now.

When I was 8 I used to think an NBA team would see me playing basketball and offer me a contract. The fact I believed this had more to do with my unrealistic expectations as a child more than it had to do with anything else. When you are 11 years old, how much the Tigers' shortstop makes is almost irrelevant, so your lack of skill at playing shortstop is what prevented this dream from happening, and has nothing to do with how much professional athletes earn.

Edward McClelland wasn't priced-out of being the Tigers shortstop, he didn't have the talent to earn as much money as the Tigers shortstop. It's not a monetary issue, but a skill-set issue.

Since my past two jobs disappeared in the Great Recession, I can’t watch a professional sporting event without thinking, Most of those guys are set for life, while I’ve been buying my own health insurance for 5 1/2 years

It's easy to be bitter about this. Unfortunately, if you lost your job in 1972 then you could have looked at Hank Aaron (who was earning 18 times the median United States household income) and have thought he was set for life and you are buying your own health insurance for 5 1/2 years. This is something McClelland could have been bitter about in 1972 as well. The amount professional athletes earn in salary has become exponentially more large, but the bottom line has stayed much the same over the past few decades...professional athletes earn more than the median household income in the United States.

Paying to see a baseball game feels like paying to see a tax lawyer argue in federal court or a commodities trader work the floor of the Mercantile Exchange. They’re getting rich out there, but how am I profiting from the experience?

How am I profiting from reading this article? How is Edward McClelland profiting from me doing my job? He isn't, so does that mean I am overpaid because Edward McClelland receives no benefit from me performing my job? Of course not.

I know we’re never going back to the days when Willie Mays lived in Harlem and sold cars in the offseason, but the market forces that have overvalued ballplayers’ skills while devaluing mine have made it impossible for me to just enjoy the damn game.

It's okay to be bitter. Just don't make the earnings of professional athletes into any larger problem than it is simply because you are upset that your skills are being devalued. McClelland already stated these players are earning their true value, so why go on a rant about how unions are ruining the sport and professional athletes should earn less money (thereby allowing the owners to make more money)? This sounds like a personal complaint made by McClelland where he needs to decide if his bitterness towards how the skill-set of professional athletes is being compensated, as compared to his own compensation, is worth not watching sports anymore.

I have an offshore wagering account in Costa Rica. In October, I made the homer’s mistake of betting on the Tigers in Game 1 of the World Series, because I thought Verlander was invincible.

Just a bit of personal advice. If you are going to write a column complaining about how you are underpaid for your skill-set and have to pay for your own health insurance, then you should probably not be gambling on sports. An easy way to lose money is to gamble with the small amount of money you claim to have.

Unlike the fictional Davis Birch, Verlander got his price. But do you think he loves Detroit so much he would have signed a contract that made him anything less than the highest-paid pitcher in baseball history?

No, because that's his value as it pertains to his skill-set. The market determines his value and what a team is willing to pay him is how much Verlander is worth. There is a lot of money being thrown around, there's no doubt about that, but Verlander is possibly the best pitcher in the majors and he was compensated as if he were.

This year, I decided to get my price, too—since the players can sign with the club that offers the most financial opportunity, why can’t I become a free agent? And I regret to say that, unlike Verlander, I will not be staying with the Tigers.

Here's where the article gets silly and McClelland shows his natural ignorance about the fact nearly every MLB player should be considered overpaid. So if he doesn't want to cheer for overpaid players, he shouldn't cheer for an MLB team.

I bet the Washington Nationals to win the National League pennant at +350, hoping a healthy Stephen Strasburg will carry them all the way. (In the American League, the Tigers are +380, a bit short for a team with no closer.)

People can do what they want to do with their money, but stop complaining about having to pay your own health insurance if you spend part of your income on gambling. It only harms the point you want to prove.

So for the 2013 season, I’m a Nats fan.

Because that makes sense. The Nationals pay five players more than $10 million and have two players (Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper) who will probably earn over $100 million in a long-term contract over the next four or five years, whether it be in a contract extension or in free agency. The Nationals, the team with the 10th highest payroll in the majors, are just a the-little-team-that-could with a bunch of underpaid players.

It says more about Edward McClelland's loyalty to the Tigers than it does about how much Justin Verlander gets paid that he is willing to abandon them to cheer for the Nationals so he can win a bet.

And after the playoffs, I’ll be on the market again, ready to jump ship to whichever franchise offers me the best deal.

How clever of you! Because professional athletes have the audacity to maximize their true value, you are going to maximize the amount of money you can make by gambling through cheering for a different team every year. We all know cheering for a team to win the World Series increases their chances of winning the World Series.

Through all of this whining Edward McClelland never mentions that if he were offered a lucrative contact to write for "Esquire" or another magazine that he would immediately accept it. It's wrong for someone to make a lot of money until a lot of money is offered to you. It's pretty much a zero-sum game. If Verlander makes less money then some of the revenue set aside for salaries would either go to another player or stay with the already wealthy owner of the Tigers.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

6 comments Bill Plaschke is Not Impressed by the Lakers and I'm Not Impressed by Bill Plaschke

So the Lakers qualified for the NBA playoffs. Good for them to rebound from the rough start, the injury to Kobe and all the other useless drama that surrounded the team to make the playoffs. Bill Plaschke doesn't see it this way of course. He is not impressed at all by the Lakers. This isn't news though. There is nothing the Lakers could have done to impress Bill Plaschke after starting they started this year off slowly. This is the great benefit of being a sportswriter and being able to hate on the teams you cover. You aren't forced to have some perspective. Once the Lakers started the year off badly, they were in a no-win situation from that point on. If they made the playoffs, then they should have made the playoffs anyway, and if they didn't make the playoffs then they are a disappointment for not making the playoffs. There's no perspective. The Lakers won five straight games and went 8-2 over their last 10 games to make the playoffs. They have lost 8 games since February 14. Sure, they aren't where they were expected to be in terms of seeding in the Western Conference and making the playoffs isn't a premier achievement in the history of the franchise, but I find it somewhat impressive they found their way into the playoffs after their bad start. Bill sees it differently and will not allow Lakers fans to enjoy the continuation of their team's season.

One of the most hyped teams in NBA history fell exhaustedly into the playoffs Wednesday.

I'm not inclined to agree with Kobe Bryant, especially when the Lakers no longer have Kobe Bryant available for the playoffs, but once they make the playoffs then all bets are off. All that matters after this disastrous season is that the Lakers are in the playoffs. Kobe said the Lakers would make the playoffs and they did.

Fittingly, it was clinched when they were just standing around.

The Lakers also won the game they were playing in overtime, which would have clinched their spot in the playoffs even if the Jazz had won. But what good are facts that may hurt the argument Bill is trying to make?

Ten minutes before the start of their game with the Houston Rockets, the Lakers learned that the Utah Jazz had lost in Memphis, meaning the Lakers were guaranteed the Western Conference's final playoff spot.

Then the Lakers went out and won in overtime anyway. Bill may not be impressed, but this does say something positive about this Lakers team. Also, the Lakers were able to clinch a playoff berth last mostly because they played last on Wednesday evening and they didn't clinch the final Western Conference spot because they are the 7th seed.

Their ticket was punched by the image of Al Jefferson with his face buried in his hands.

Their ticket was also punched by beating the Rockets in overtime. Don't forget this because it is convenient for you to forget this.

Only one person seemed immediately and genuinely excited. You can probably guess.
"And to think some said we wouldn't make it," tweeted Kobe Bryant, who added the hashtags #keepcalm, #believe, #makeplayoffs, and #makehistory.

Kobe Bryant was cheering on his team while sidelined with a possible career-ending injury. What a selfish asshole. I'm sure Bill Simmons would have a "6 for 24" joke to use at this point in the column.

This matchup was set later Wednesday when, needing a victory to avoid the more difficult Oklahoma City Thunder, the Lakers made just enough plays to beat the younger and jittery Rockets, 99-95, in overtime.

I love how Plaschke frames this. He doesn't frame it as the Lakers having achieved anything in beating the Rockets and securing the 7th seed in the Western Conference. They don't get credit for still putting forth effort once their playoff berth was secured. No, the Lakers barely beat the Rockets and avoided playing a Thunder team that would have wiped the floor with them (of course the Thunder are the #1 seed in the Western Conference so they should theoretically beat any Western Conference team in the playoffs), so the Lakers barely avoided getting easily beaten in the playoffs by beating the Rockets. This is framed as something that was unimpressive.

The Lakers then survived the overtime with great defense, leading to one of the oddest reactions to one of the oddest proud announcements in Lakers history.

"The Lakers are the seventh seed in the Western Conference playoffs," intoned public-address announcer Lawrence Tanter, and the crowd roared, and, well, really?

Yes, really. The Lakers played well enough over the last two months of the season to avoid the Thunder and give themselves a fighting chance to win a playoff series. Only bitter angry sportswriters wouldn't be able to find a way to take some measure of excitement and pride in this. Lakers fans were happy to have made the playoffs after the team's struggles beginning the season.

Bryant was earlier Twitter gloating because he predicted a playoff berth long before he suffered his season-ending Achilles' tendon tear, but, really, should a prediction have even been necessary?

At the beginning of the season, no, a prediction should not have been necessary. Circumstances change and there were people burying the Lakers, yet Bryant insisted they would still make the playoffs and they did. There were plenty of people suggesting the Lakers would miss the playoffs and Kobe was simply promising this would not happen.

In the summer they added future Hall of Famers Dwight Howard and Steve Nash to a team that already had Bryant and Pau Gasol. It was one of the greatest rosters eve assembled.

Well, I'm not sure "Eve" assembled the team, but it was supposed to be a very good team. Howard didn't mesh well with Gasol, Mike Brown got fired, Mike D'Antoni was hired and Nash got injured at the beginning of the season, so chaos reigned for a while and the Lakers lost games. At that point, the postseason was in question.

Then the late great owner Jerry Buss' prostate cancer worsened, and the Lakers' impatience became panic, and Coach Mike Brown was fired after just five games.

I'm not a Lakers fan. In fact, I hate the Lakers. I don't like being nice to them, but I feel like I have to be at this point. They still made the playoffs after enduring a lot of change and chaos. Sure, they are a talented team, but it would have been very easy for this season to have completely gotten away from the Lakers and end up with a losing record.

With Jim Buss using his ego instead of brains, Phil Jackson was snubbed and Mike D'Antoni was hired, thus creating a match made in seventh place.

Again, notice how Bill Plaschke frames this. He is still seeing a 7th seed as a bad thing, despite listing all the things that went wrong for the Lakers this season. It's not "D'Antoni managed to get the Lakers the 7th seed in the Western Conference," but the Lakers failed by only getting a 7th seed after all the issues at the beginning of the season.

D'Antoni wanted to run, yet the Lakers were too big and creaky to run. D'Antoni didn't preach defense, and the Lakers used that excuse to ignore it.
Would the greatest coach in NBA history have figured out a better way? Wouldn't you have liked to see Jackson get a chance?

So basically Plaschke is throwing a shit-fit and refusing to give the Lakers any credit because Phil Jackson didn't get hired to be the head coach and Mike D'Antoni did get hired to be the head coach. I have a feeling if Phil Jackson had overseen the Lakers getting the 7th seed in the Western Conference then Plaschke would have written about everything the Lakers had to go through during the season, but the Great and Powerful Phil Jackson still managed to squeak a very dangerous Lakers team into the playoffs.

Despite a brilliant resurgence by Bryant, the most memorable Staples Center chant was, "We want Phil." 

And as I always like to say, "If you don't make personnel decisions based entirely on what the fans want, then don't expect your team to succeed. After all, the fans are always right."

Despite the eventual healing of Howard's back, his most compelling moments were when he complained about not having enough touches.

I guess the Lakers aren't going to get any credit for trading Bynum (who sat out this entire year) for Howard? Granted, the trade didn't work out exactly like the Lakers wanted it to, but having Howard was better than having Bynum during the 12-13 season.

The only reason Bill Plaschke finds Howard's complaining to be compelling is because it gave Plaschke some drama that he could write about in his columns. Sportswriters like Plaschke don't care about the games, they only care about the drama surrounding the games. It makes it so much easier to write when you don't have to do any type of analysis and can just rip a player you don't like apart.

D'Antoni decided that Gasol couldn't play at the same time as Howard. Then D'Antoni decided that he could.

And of course Phil Jackson would be given credit by Bill Plaschke for experimenting with different lineups and then admitting when he was wrong. Mike D'Antoni's lineup experimentation and eventually settling on Gasol and Howard playing together shows just how clueless he is though.

Nash was hurt for so long, his return was anticipated as if he was a sort of savior. Except when he played, he was so lost in this aimless and confused offense, you hardly knew he was there.

AND YET THE LAKERS STILL MADE THE PLAYOFFS AS THE 7TH SEED! You can't rag on the Lakers for being so terrible all year and having bad chemistry, then act like it isn't impressive when the Lakers make the playoffs.

Bryant played so many minutes in attempting to drag this team out of the muck, his body finally broke in the final moments of a game last week.

This is a terrible use of hyperbole. Bryant's body didn't break under the weight of dragging the team out of the muck. He played a ton of minutes down the stretch and he had an injury that knocked him out for the rest of the season. Go less hyperbolic, please. And of course if Phil Jackson was the Lakers head coach then Kobe Bryant would never have gotten injured.

Just ask Steve Blake. Back in the fall, Blake was fined for yelling back at a prominent but heckling season-ticket holder. On Wednesday, Blake was the toast of the building with his Lakers career-high 24 points and the clinching free throws.

If Phil Jackson hired as head coach then Blake would have scored a career high 44 points.

It's Blake's team now. It's Howard's team. It's Gasol's team. It's not yet, however, destiny's team, 

Here's the part where Bill Plaschke starts hedging. He's spent this entire column bashing the Lakers for barely making the playoffs and saying this accomplishment isn't really that great of an accomplishment, even given the injury and personnel issues the team had this year. But...he also doesn't hate this Lakers team enough to write them off. So the Lakers suck and aren't a team of destiny, unless they are, but they probably aren't, but they could be.

unless destiny has one heck of a sense of humor.

And the Lakers definitely won't be a team of destiny if they just continue standing around like they did when they beat the Rockets in overtime to earn the 7th seed in the Western Conference. So Bill Plaschke in no way believes in the Lakers' ability to win a playoff series, doesn't believe in D'Antoni as a head coach and isn't impressed with their accomplishments, but he won't rule their ability to make a playoff run. Typical Plaschke. He's willing to bash a team, but not willing to be seen as wrong.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

7 comments 2013 NFL Mock Draft

I usually do an NFL mock draft every year just in order to embarrass myself. I decided this year should be no different. I'm notoriously terrible at evaluating quarterbacks, but that doesn't of course stop me from writing what I think of a quarterback as I slot him to a certain team. I do love giving my opinion on what will happen in the NFL Draft, so I take part in this exercise of trying to predict which player each NFL team will draft in the first round. I feel like this is going to be a very difficult draft to judge, so if I get 5 of these picks correct then I will probably feel pretty good about myself. I'm not even 100% confident about the #1 overall pick. As always, I won't predict trades.

So here is my 2013 NFL mock draft and feel free to tell me how stupid or brilliant I am in the comments. I already know I am brilliant/dumb, but it doesn't hurt to be reminded.

1. Kansas City- Eric Fisher, OT

It's the first pick of the draft and I'm not even sure the Chiefs will take an offensive tackle. They are dangling Branden Albert, so it makes sense. I had this as Luke Joeckel for two weeks now. Today, I am changing it to Eric Fisher because I want to be right. I need just one pick to be right. Is that too much to ask? I like the pick because the Chiefs need to protect Alex Smith and there isn't a franchise QB to be found in this draft.

2. Jacksonville- Dion Jordan, OLB/DE

This is one of 15 picks in the first round that are rumored to be on the trade block. Of course Jacksonville wants to trade this pick. Everyone wants to trade their pick. What gets me is that trading back always seems like a good idea, but even in a draft like this I'm not sure two picks are worth one pick. I guess it depends on the picks that are made. So there is something to be said for just staying where you are. The Jags need a difference-maker. I would go QB, but Gus Bradley is a defensive guy. I don't like Dion Jordan because I think there are better defensive players in this draft. My gut says this isn't the pick, but I'm going to sell out and mock Jordan to the Jags.

3. Oakland- Shariff Floyd, DT

This pick would be a lot easier if Al Davis were alive. I could just mock Geno Smith or Tavon Austin to the Raiders and call it a day. It's hard to make a sensible pick rather than a non-sensible pick, if that makes sense. I sort of wish I predicted trades because I don't think Oakland ends up making this pick. The Raiders desperately need some cornerbacks, but they also need some guys who can create pressure up front. I'm betting (probably wrongly) the Raiders go with a tackle here.

4. Philadelphia- Luke Joeckel, T

I desperately want to mock Lotulelei to the Eagles in this spot, but I think Chip Kelly wants to run his kind of offense and he can't run it if he can't protect his quarterback. The Eagles need help up front, but they also have to keep Vick/Foles/another guy healthy. Joeckel would improve the Eagles by improving the offensive line and having the ability to play the way Kelly wants to play, which is fast. I think Joeckel is athletic and could keep up with the offense Kelly wants to run.

5. Detroit- Dee Milliner, CB

I don't think the Lions make this pick either. The Lions really need help in the secondary and they also need some help at tackle. This is high for Milliner, so I'm guessing I get the pick right for the Lions, but not in the correct slot. I am all about offensive line help, but I'm not a huge Lane Johnson fan and Milliner is the best cornerback in the draft. The Lions have to get corner help.

6. Cleveland- Star Lotulelei, DT

The Browns are going to a 3-4 defense and Star is going to be great in a 3-4 defense from everything I have read. The Browns have worked hard to upgrade the pass-rush and if they can get the best DT in the draft (in my opinion) then they are going to make that move. If Lane Johnson is still available here, the Browns could get an offer for this spot they can't refuse. Not to mention, Rob Chudzinski is the head coach so don't rule out an offensive player in this spot. It would not shock me to see Tavon Austin or a "reach" offensive player go in this spot. I'm thinking logically, while Chud thinks Chud-like.

7. Arizona- Chance Warmack, G

This is really early for a guard and I know the odds of the Cardinals passing up a tackle are supposed to not be great, but why not grab the best offensive linemen in this draft when you need help on the offensive line? Maybe this is too much of a "I hope they take this guy" pick, but I think Warmack is going to be the best offensive linemen out of this draft and the Cardinals need to protect Carson Palmer.

8. Buffalo- Ryan Nassib, QB

Michael Necci at Buffalo Wins has the Bills taking a quarterback. He nailed the Gilmore pick last year, so I think I'm going to trust him. I am guessing the pick will be Nassib over Barkley, if only because of Doug Marrone's familiarity with Nassib. He knows the offense and the head coach already knows Nassib. There is a level of comfort I think that will make Nassib the attractive pick here. Is it too early to take a quarterback? I don't know. If a team needs a quarterback and doesn't think the one they like will make it to them, then I guess it isn't too early.

9. New York Jets- Ziggy Ansah, DE

I see Barkevious Mingo mocked in nearly every other mock draft, but I have to think if Rex Ryan can find a pass rusher with more potential than Mingo in this spot then he will take that chance. My outside pick in this spot is a wide receiver or maybe an offensive lineman, but I think if Ansah is available then Rex Ryan will look forward to molding Ansah into the type of player that he could be. Ryan took Quinton Coples last year and I can see Ryan wanting to further upgrade the pass rush. I hope the Jets don't do something stupid like reach for a corner here.

10. Tennessee- Jonathan Cooper, G/C

I'm concerned this pick won't happen because it seems to make sense to me. The Titans need to further improve their offensive line and Cooper is versatile. Part of me wonders if the Titans wouldn't take Tavon Austin in this spot just to give Jake Locker a playmaker. It makes sense to me to help open holes for Greene and Johnson. This pick makes too much sense to happen.

11. San Diego- Tavon Austin, WR

I am fully aware the Chargers need an offensive lineman and help on defense, but Mike McCoy is an offensive guy and would he really pass up the chance to get Philip Rivers some help on offense? I don't love Austin because he is so damn small, but there's no doubt he has talent. The Chargers have slowly stripped away Rivers' weapons and now they will take this chance to get one back...assuming they don't trade up for Eric Fisher of course.

12. Miami- Lane Johnson, T

The Dolphins need a tackle and they don't even have to trade up to get Lane Johnson. I'm not a huge Johnson guy (snickers), but I can't deny his potential and I don't think D.J. Fluker is a left tackle and worth taking in this spot. It's not a sexy pick, but if Johnson turns out to be as good as it is claimed he will be then it is an excellent pick in this spot.

13. New York Jets- Cordarrelle Patterson, WR

This pick will probably be traded at some point in the draft, but let's pretend the Jets are actually going to use the #13 pick. The Jets have to improve their offense and while seeing Gronk and Hernandez succeed in New England probably is driving Rex Ryan crazy, I think if this pick is kept they will choose to go wide receiver over tight end. Patterson is a risky pick, but his upside is huge and the Jets need to get Sanchez some offensive help so they can later blame the entire 2013 season on him.

14. Carolina- Kenny Vaccaro, S

This pick would come down to Sheldon Richardson and Kenny Vaccaro in my opinion. Having said that, Dave Gettleman has made it clear how deep he feels this draft is in terms of defensive tackles and despite safety was an absolute black hole for Carolina last year, Gettleman's history with the Giants could lead him to choosing the best player available. The Panthers really wanted Mark Barron last year and I think they take the chance to acquire Vaccaro while hoping they can trade back from this pick or get a DT in the second round.

15. New Orleans- Xavier Rhodes, CB

Rob Ryan, who always is a better defensive coordinator in theory than in practice, is going to want guys for his 3-4 defense. This works out well since the Saints defense was beyond horrendous last year. They need pass rushing help, but Ryan is probably going to want to improve the terrible secondary first. My outside pick in this spot is Barkevious Mingo, but I'm not sure where the Saints have him on their draft board.

16. St. Louis- D.J. Fluker, G/T

At this point, St. Louis is probably trying like hell to bail out of this spot because they can move back a little and get a few guys they want. Assuming they keep this pick, I think the Rams take D.J. Fluker here. Yes, they could probably use Sheldon Richardson or a wide receiver, but they take Fluker to help further solidify the offensive line. I'm against taking a guy named "Fluker" but that's probably just me. It seems too easy to look back in four years and saying his college career was a Fluke-r.

17. Pittsburgh Steelers- Jarvis Jones, OLB

No joke. I started this post by writing out the order of the picks two weeks ago. I wrote "Jarvis Jones" in here instead of "Pittsburgh Steelers." It's probably a cop-out to say this was a Freudian slip (in writing form) on my part, but the Steelers could use another pass-rusher and only the most idiotic of idiots could look at Jones at Georgia and not believe he can succeed in the NFL. All of those red flags seem silly to me. There are medical issues and the fact he didn't look good in shorts. He can rush the passer though. That's all that matters to the Steelers.

18. Dallas- Jonathan Cyprien, S

I'm thinking there will be a team that moves up and takes Barkevious Mingo here, so (as always) this pick may not stay with Dallas. So Monte Kiffin is the new defensive coordinator of Dallas. He runs a 4-3. He had John Lynch in Tampa Bay and I'm guessing the interest in Vaccaro is really a smokescreen so teams move up and the Cowboys can grab Jonathan Cyprien. The Cowboys have the confidence to pick Cyprien in the first round and not worry what people will say.

19. New York Giants- Sheldon Richardson, DT

Like candy from a baby. The Giants get an excellent defensive tackle in this spot. Richardson is very disruptive in the middle and though the Giants probably need outside pass-rushing depth a little bit more, they won't argue with getting a guy who can get a push in the middle of the defense either. The strength of the Giants stays a strength.

20. Chicago- Barkevious Mingo, OLB

It's a crazy pick, I know, especially since the Bears have an offensive-minded head coach and they seem set at outside linebacker (or as set as a team with James Anderson on one side can be), but I think the Bears will see Mingo as a Von Miller-type pass rusher and take him here. I'll be surprised if my mock is correct and he falls this far.

21. Cincinnati- Alec Ogletree, OLB

All I have seemingly heard is the Bengals want to draft a safety. Most mock drafts have a safety mocked here. Screw those mock drafts. I don't think the Bengals are going to take Matt Elam or Eric Reid here. They will probably (repeat after me) try to trade back. I don't see them taking Eddie Lacy in this spot, but I Alec Ogletree is very talented and the Bengals have a need at linebacker. Safety can wait until the second round when they use the Carson Palmer Memorial Second Round pick to take Reid/Elam.

22. St. Louis- Eddie Lacy, RB

Patterson is gone and DeAndre Hopkins has been connected to the Rams so much I almost feel like this is a sign it won't happen. Can St. Louis count on Daryl Richardson and Isiah Pead to carry the running game? I'm not sure. I think Eddie Lacy won't be Steven Jackson, but he can be a starter and no matter the Rams need at wide receiver they have to have a running game. Jeff Fisher has never been shy about taking running backs in the first round and that doesn't stop now.

23. Minnesota- Jesse Williams, DT

I think the Vikings will try to bring back the "Williams Wall," just not with Sylvester Williams, but Jesse Williams. All of this Te'o-to-Minnesota talk has to be a smokescreen. I know Rick Spielman loves Notre Dame products, but he has to love getting a space-eater in the middle of the defense too.

24. Indianapolis- Bjoern Werner, DE/OLB

I'm not sure there is an offensive lineman to be taken in this spot that I like. The problem is the Colts don't pick again until pick 86. So I think Werner is the pick here. He was talked about as possibly going in the first 10 picks a few months ago in some of the mock drafts I saw, so this is a good spot to get him. The Colts have needs at cornerback and offensive line, but I can't see them passing up a chance to get a quality pass-rusher.

25. Minnesota- Keenan Allen, WR

The Vikings are going to draft a wide receiver, it just depends on when. They can't wait until the second round to get the kind of receiver they want, so they take Allen with their second first round pick. I like Allen and think even though his numbers haven't been extraordinarily exciting when it comes to his workouts, Allen was destroyed at Cal by having a shitty quarterback throwing him the football. So he will be well-prepared to try and catch passes from Christian Ponder.

26. Green Bay- Tank Carrdine, DE

The Packers need offensive line help, but I think they first try to improve their defense. Tank Carradine seems to be rising up draft boards recently and I think the Packers are smart enough to realize rather than reach for an offensive lineman or take another wide receiver to replace Jennings they should work on improving their defensive line.

27. Houston- Tyler Eifert, TE

I can see this pick getting traded. If the Texans keep the pick then they are going to need to find help for Schaub and I think that's a smart move. The consensus seems to be the Texans will find help at wide receiver, but I can see them noticing Tyler Eifert is still on the board and taking a chance on grabbing him. Otherwise they may trade back and take Hunter or Hopkins, but Eifert is athletic enough to be split out wide while also dominating the middle of the field.

28. Denver- Sylvester Williams, DT

I wouldn't rule out Jonathan Hankins in this spot instead, but the Broncos could use some more help on the defensive line and I don't know if I see the Broncos going with a cornerback in this spot either. It seems to be Sylvester Williams may be the best player available as well as fit a need the Broncos have. I will put Hayden or Trufant as an outside candidate for this spot as well.

29. New England- Desmond Trufant, CB

I have a feeling the Patriots are going to trade this pick to a QB-needy team so they can take Geno Smith. But since I refuse to predict trades, if the Patriots keep this pick I see them going with Desmond Trufant in this spot, though D.J. Hayden could be the pick if they like him better. I generally dislike going the whole "the Patriots need cornerbacks" route, but it seems true here.

30. Atlanta- Damontre Moore, DE

Again, this is a team with an obvious need at cornerback. I feel like I am cheating by mocking a cornerback to them in this spot. The Falcons have the ammunition to move up a little bit in the second round to grab a cornerback, so I'm guessing they may go that route. I feel like the chance to grab a pass-rusher is an opportunity they won't want to pass up. Cornerback is a need, but they can possibly use the 10 other picks they have to move up and try to find a cornerback they like.

31. San Francisco- D.J. Hayden, CB

It's hard to say what the 49ers are going to do because they have so many picks. They need a safety and defensive line help, but I'm not sure they will spend a first round pick on either of these positions. They have picks #31 and #34, so I can see a situation where they package those picks to move up and take a player they consider to be an impact player. As long as they are sitting at #31 I'm not sure they will necessarily tackle or defensive linemen in this spot. I see them taking a corner in this spot and Hayden is that guy. Perhaps they like another corner better, but I feel like the 49ers will look to improve their secondary with this pick.

32. Baltimore- Justin Hunter, WR

Daniel Jeremiah (he's an ex-Appalachian State quarterback, which means he is awesome) thinks that Baltimore will take Manti Te'o in this spot. Who am I to disagree with him? I am another Appalachian State grad and I think the Ravens are going to choose to upgrade the receiving corps and give their brand new franchise quarterback some weapons to work with in the passing game. Hunter is a big receiver who has the ability to be a #1 receiver. He should work out well with Torrey Smith being the deep threat on the other side of the field.

So feel free to tell me how stupid/smart I am.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

6 comments Hide Your Common Sense, Get Ready for Your Blood Pressure to Rise, Because Gregg Easterbrook is Back

Gregg Easterbrook is back! I have missed him greatly. My blood pressure has lowered, my eyesight has straightened back out and there has been way too much sensible NFL analysis of late. It's good to have Gregg back showing us that he really doesn't understand the NFL and mislead his readers into believing the points he is attempting to make are (a) good points and/or (b) factually accurate. Gregg makes his great return to "mock" the mock drafts, or as I prefer to say it, he has returned to continue being a useless dipshit. I almost forget how frustrating Gregg can be until I read TMQ once again.

As the draft approaches, here's an incredible insider tip regarding team needs -- everybody needs everything.

The first sentence is a doozy. No, everybody doesn't need everything. The Packers don't need a quarterback and they don't really need a wide receiver. The Patriots don't need a quarterback and the Vikings don't need a running back. We just started and Gregg is already spewing some Grade-A nonsense.

Those thumbnails of team draft needs? Each one should read, "Needs: QB, RB, FB, WR, TE, OT, OG, C, DE, DT, ILB, OLB, CB, FS, SS, P, K, RS, SPT."

No, it shouldn't read that because that is factually incorrect. Ever team doesn't have a need at every spot on the roster. Good to have you back, Gregg. Now go back wherever the hell you just came from.

Between the size of NFL rosters, injury risk and salary cap turnover, even the best teams annually seek reinforcements at nearly every position.

Again, this isn't entirely accurate. Teams will draft backups for quite a few positions, but the best teams don't replace starters at every position on the roster from year-to-year.

the Super Bowl winners have vacancies at eight of their starting positions. And they were the best team of 2012!

The Ravens are a bit of a different story. They went into the offseason knowing they would have more significant changes than a team that wins the Super Bowl usually has. Usually the Super Bowl-winning team doesn't replace 8 of the 22 starting positions on the roster. Ozzie Newsome and Steve Bisciotti stated they weren't going to be holding on to older players and make the same mistake they made after the Super Bowl-winning season in 2000.

What NFL team is totally set at quarterback? The Broncos, Giants, Patriots, Ravens and Saints, all with future Hall of Fame starters, are unsettled at backup.

NFL teams can't have great depth at every spot on the roster. This is just reality.

Maybe the Forty Niners are totally set at offensive line -- maybe. Maybe the Falcons don't need anybody at wide receiver -- maybe. What NFL team is totally set at offensive line, linebacker, running back, defensive back, at any position?

My favorite team is set at linebacker and running back. They are also set at quarterback. That's three roster positions they seem totally set at and they aren't a very good team. I would bet almost every NFL team is set or really close to being set at at least one position on the roster. Gregg is simply spewing inaccuracy right at the very beginning of TMQ.

Annually, even winning NFL teams look to replace many players based on injury, age, the salary cap and the endless search for better performance.

This doesn't explain why Gregg makes a list "unwanted" players every single year. If Gregg understands players get cut for valid reasons then how does he get off calling these type of players "unwanted"?

At draft time, everybody needs everything.

This is pretty inaccurate. Not that I would expect Gregg to ever say something in TMQ I would consider to be accurate, but he seems to have come back from his TMQ break babbling even dumber shit than usual.

Draft time means such nonsense as NFL scouts and sports radio obsessing over hundredths of seconds. See below for TMQ's annual lampoon of absurd precision.

You can also see below my annual lampoon of Gregg's inability to understand that precision is required when evaluating NFL players. Gregg's consistent inability to understand the need for hundredths of a second constantly serves as a source of amusement to me.

Now the Clips have won their division, besting the cost-no-object Lakers. Didn't see that coming! What NBA team takes over the mantle of draft futility? See below. 

Great, let's get some NBA analysis from Gregg. He probably watches two games total during an entire NBA season so he clearly feels like he is an expert on the NBA.

Now begins Gregg's "mocking" of mock drafts. He's even less creative, factually correct and amusing than normal.

1. Kansas City. Carl Brewer, mayor, Wichita, Kan. Wichita State made the men's Final Four while the mega-hyped University of Kansas team watched at home.

Small sample size alert! Wichita State made a Final Four this year, while Kansas has made 14 Final Fours and won three National Championships. Kansas is hyped for a reason and that reason is they are a very good team who made the National Championship Game in 2012. 

2. Jacksonville. Errol Flynn, actor. The only person whose mustache is more recognizable than the mustache of Jags owner Shahid Khan. In second round, Jags hope to tab Tim Tebow. No wait, Jacksonville does not want Tebow -- that would be popular and exciting and might cause the Jags to win games. 

We all know when an NFL team makes an exciting and popular move then that will definitely lead to a Super Bowl victory. Just ask the Jets how well signing Tebow worked out for them last year and the Eagles about how well building their "Dream Team" worked out two years ago. Popular and exciting doesn't always equal wins.

5. Detroit. Theo Tonin, imaginary mobster. Leader of the Detroit mob, Tonin is the Big Bad of the hit series "Justified."

Is there any topic that Gregg actually understands and can discuss without being factually incorrect? Theo Tonin is not the Big Bad of "Justified." He has been shown twice in Season Three, both times for just a few minutes, and he is not supposed to play any role in Season 5. Tonin has been seen twice during the series run and never directly as the Big Bad. But don't worry, Gregg will have more idiotic thoughts on "Justified" later in this column that I don't look forward to.

9. Jersey/B. Rex Harrison, actor. He could rep in for Rex Ryan and belt out "I Could Have Blitzed All Night." 

Why does ESPN post this column every week during football season? Is this just a part of the plan to destroy the morale of their viewers? I'm assuming the very existence of Skip Bayless on television is a part of this plan as well.

14. Carolina. Matt Saracen, quarterback, Dillon Panthers. During last summer's Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, party figures tried to call the city's NFL field "Panthers Stadium" to avoid reminding voters the place is named for bailed-out, robo-signing Bank of America. 

As mentioned in the article that Gregg felt the need to link, but not read, it is often referred to as Panthers Stadium by some fans in the Charlotte area. I call it Bank of America Stadium, but will refer to it as Panthers Stadium if I am talking to one of my friends.

17. Pittsburgh. Bruce Arians, head coach, Cardinals. Needing someone to scapegoat for their playoff loss at Denver, the Steelers cashiered offensive coordinator Arians -- who went on to a fantastic season as a fill-in coach at the Colts, then the top job at Arizona. P.S.: Steelers haven't been to the postseason since.

P.S.: It's only been one season since Arians left the Steelers, so to say the Steelers "haven't been to the postseason since" is basically saying, the "Steelers didn't make the playoffs last year." Ben Roethlisberger was hurt for a while in 2012, which probably affected the Steelers playoff chances more than Bruce Arians not being the offensive coordinator affected their playoff chances.

19. Jersey/A. The Rockettes. Now that the Jets have leggy cheerleaders, what's the Giants' excuse?

They don't want to pay for a cheerleading squad? They are smart people who understand there is no correlation between a team winning games and having a cheerleading squad?

22. St. Louis. Bernard Madoff, jailed former confidence man. Rams owners Stan and Ann Kroenke, net worth estimated by Forbes at $4.4 billion, are trying to graymail local taxpayers into providing $700 million in public funding for stadium upgrades. Then they will keep almost all revenue. This plan would have embarrassed Madoff, whose marks handed over money of their own free will.

23. Minnesota. Allen Stanford, jailed former confidence man. Vikings owners Zygi and Mark Wilf, combined net worth estimated at $1.3 billion, graymailed local taxpayers into providing $498 million in public funding for a new stadium. They will keep almost all revenue. This plan would have embarrassed Stanford, whose marks handed over money of their own free will.

This really isn't that unusual. Owners sometimes want the public to finance improvements to their stadium or help in the building of a new stadium. It's not normal for the taxpayers to expect to receive some sort of income or revenue from this stadium. The trade-off is that the public helps the Rams or Vikings build a new stadium, while the team agrees to not leave town (if that possibility was even up for discussion), but mostly the fans get to see the Rams or Vikings play football in the new stadium. It's not the most fair of trade-offs, but there is a reason publicly funded stadiums are sometimes controversial.

31. San Francisco. Ivan Pavlov, physiologist. He will attach electric contacts to Jim Harbaugh and administer a shock whenever Harbaugh fails to call runs at the goal line. By their next Super Bowl appearance, the Forty Niners will be ready to win. 

For the 900th time, the Ravens were loaded up to stop the run. We will never know what would have happened if the 49ers had tried to run the ball more than once, but the Ravens were determined to make Colin Kaepernick beat them with his arm. Not to mention, Harbaugh doesn't make the offensive play calls, Greg Roman does. Not to even mention further, the 49ers weren't exactly on the goal line. They were close, but it isn't like they were on the 1-yard line and threw the ball three times.

32. Baltimore. Anquan Boldin, wide receiver. The Ravens may regret unloading this gentleman for a mere sixth-round draft choice. In the 2013 postseason, Boldin caught passes totaling 380 yards and four touchdowns. But he's 32 years old, get rid of the bum! Expect the football gods to wax wroth against the defending champions.

So basically this means if the Ravens don't win the Super Bowl next year Gregg will claim it is because they traded Anquan Boldin, despite any evidence to the contrary.

Alford can pal around with Andy Enfield, now at USC. Enfield spent just two seasons at Florida Gulf Coast, then bolted the instant money was waved, not even pretending to care about his commitments.

I can understand this criticism of coaches who jump ship to another school. I get why Steve Alford gets criticism, especially since he had just signed a new contract with the New Mexico Lobos. It makes sense for him to get some criticism. There is also a part of me that is annoyed by Gregg criticizing Andy Enfield for going from Florida Gulf Coast to USC. What kind of person criticizes another individual for daring to take a promotion? Doesn't Enfield have an obligation to himself and his family to do as well for himself as he can? If Gregg were offered a promotion at his job, would he turn it down because he is already gainfully employed? Probably not. Gregg hides behind Enfield having a contract and he is breaking that contract, but the reality of sports is that a contract is only as good as the paper it is written on. Coaches leave for better jobs just like regular employees of a company will leave that company for a better job. Contracts mean nothing to college coaches and administrators. As soon as you understand that, you get less annoyed at Andy Enfield daring to further his career by going to USC.

Then there was the Mike Rice fiasco at Rutgers. A coach who insults and shoves players is a terrible coach. Why wasn't it completely obvious to anyone who attended a Rutgers basketball practice that Rice had no business with a whistle? Emotional abuse can be as bad as physical abuse, but can't be filmed.

I'm pretty sure the emotional abuse that Mike Rice dished out to his players was filmed. Not everything that was seen on that tape was physical abuse and much of it was also emotional abuse.

The Timothy Olyphant crime show "Justified" just wrapped its fourth season with deputy U.S. marshal Raylan Givens, the protagonist, having shot and killed at least 20 bad guys during the brief span of the series -- likely more bad guys than killed by all current actual U.S. marshals combined.

I love "Justified," so now Gregg is just pissing me off. It is a television show and is not supposed to perfectly show what reality is like for a U.S. Marshall. It's supposed to be entertainment.

"Justified" is offbeat and entertaining, especially episodes based on Elmore Leonard stories.

Only one of the episodes (the pilot) is considered to be officially based on an Elmore Leonard story. But no, continue talking about shit you don't know about.

"Justified" is praised for gritty realism:

Nope. Read any review of the show and the witty dialogue and characterization is usually what gets praised before anything else. Again, you are letting your ignorance show. Carry on.

Givens makes regular trips to a maximum-security penitentiary that is -- where? There are two federal high-security prisons in Kentucky, one about 140 miles from Lexington and the other about 125 miles away, plus a state high-security penitentiary about 225 miles distant. The prison Givens regularly visits is depicted as minutes from his office.

Actually, if you watch the show regularly it can be interpreted that the prison is a long way away from his office in Lexington. Raylan's task for a day will often be to pick up a prison and transport him somewhere. This isn't presented as a project for the morning, but Raylan's task for the day as given to him by Art, his boss. So the show does skip Raylan's drive in the car (and for good reason, no one wants to see Timothy Olyphant driving a car for an entire episode), but it is made fairly clear the prisons aren't exactly close to the Marshall's office in Lexington.

In one episode Raylan, protecting a prisoner from the mob, must stall for 30 minutes until backup arrives. The structure of the episode is: Can Raylan hold off the bad guys for 30 minutes? In that half hour, Raylan drives the prisoner from an isolated country house to an old high school in town; then drives back to the country house; then drives back to the high school; then gets a railroad dispatcher to stop a coal train in precisely the right place so another marshal and the captive can board, meaning the prisoner is long gone via rail when the mob attacks.

I'm not entirely sure this is how it happened if I remember correctly. I'm pretty sure Drew Thompson escaped with Rachel from the high school while Raylan distracted the mob by drawing attention to himself. My understanding was that Rachel got the railroad dispatcher to stop the coal train at the right spot while Raylan distracted the mob at the high school. So it was a packed 30 minutes, but Raylan had help in getting Thompson on the train.

Raylan needs to stall for 30 minutes because, viewers are told, "six Kentucky State Police cruisers are on their way" but cannot reach the town for half an hour. Is there really any location in Kentucky that has a high school but is 30 minutes from the nearest police car?

Well those who watched the episode would know that it wasn't necessarily the distance that was the problem, but that Tonin's men had set up a car in the road (which ended up having explosives in it) to block the police and Marshall Service from being able to pass. Art and Tim had to blow up the car with a Molotov cocktail in order to get the explosives to detonate so they could all pass. So it wasn't an issue of distance, but an issue of the police and Marshall Service safely getting to the school without being blown up or shot by the sniper who was set up to kill Drew Thompson (because Tonin assumed Thompson was with Art and Tim, not Raylan).

In the climactic sequence of "Skyfall," Bond rescues M in London, hops into his antique Aston Martin and drives to the Bond family castle in Scotland, there to make a last stand against the cackling super-villain. Scotland is a 450-mile drive from London. During the many hours Bond motors north toward the land of Scots, MI6 never sends backup to the castle, nor simply orders police to assist in protecting the head of a major British government agency. It seems all law enforcement officers in the entire United Kingdom have vanished. 

What's so interesting about Gregg's complaints in this section is they don't show flaws in a television show or movie, but show just how little attention and understanding Gregg paid when watching these shows or movies. The entire point of setting the trap for Silva was to make him think M and Bond were alone at an isolted place. Bond had Q leave an electronic trail so he could ambush Silva at Skyfall and finally kill him. The plan would not have worked if the British government had sent an entire army of agents to help protect M and Bond. Silva would never have shown up. Mallory, who was the de facto head of MI-6 when M was out of commission, approved this plan because he knew it would draw Silva out. So the plan was to have law enforcement disappear completely to draw Silva out.

Since "Winter's Bone," "Justified" has presented the Marshals Service as intently concerned with investigating rural drug dealing. This is a worrisome crime, but not one the agency has jurisdiction over. Protecting judges and courthouses, primary mission of the Marshals Service, has vanished from the show. 

This coming from a guy whose primary mission in writing is to talk about economics and public policy, and yet, he writes a weekly NFL column where he talks about television shows and movies. Go figure.

Viewers can only fret until 2014, since music playing under the final scene of the 2013 season suggests the hero believes he will never leave Harlan alive

"You'll Never Leave Harlan Alive" has been the song that ended Seasons 1, 2 and 4 of the show. It's a common thread for the show and not just a hint as to what may happen in 2014. 

Absurd Specificity Watch: Americans seem to love hyperbolic claims of precision -- perhaps it makes us feel that science is more efficient than it really is.

Or maybe specificity is used because thousands of simulations to help anticipate a result requires rounding to hundredths of a second/point/yard in order to let the reader understand how precise the results are.

When Nate Silver of The New York Times forecasts, as he did on the morning of the 2012 presidential voting, that Barack Obama will win re-election with "314.6" electoral votes to "223.4" electoral votes for Mitt Romney, such numbers are received with gravitas -- as if the decimal places made them deep, rather than silly.

Well, dumbass, there are 538 electoral votes and after thousands of simulations those are the results that Nate Silver came to. If he had left off the tenth of a decimal point (and it is a tenth of a decimal point, which is not even close to being hyper-specific) then he would have accounted for 537 electoral votes. His readers would wonder what the hell happened to the other electoral vote. If he rounded up or down, then he would be changing the results because Obama didn't get 315 electoral votes and Romney didn't get 223 electoral votes. The rounding to a tenth of a decimal point just provides perspective for the reader.

Football is wild for absurd precision. Here, a combine 40-yard dash time is touted as "4.27" seconds, trailing only a record of "4.24" seconds. A player who runs a "4.24" is half of 1 percent faster than a player who runs a "4.27," and would finish a 40-yard dash three inches ahead.

And we all know in football three inches faster or slower certainly wouldn't make a difference in whether a quarterback was sacked, whether a player got the first down or not, whether a player got a touchdown or not, if a quarterback fumbled or threw an incomplete pass, and whether a defensive player was able to tackle the offensive player or not. It's not like football is played at a fast pace and getting to the quarterback a tenth of a second too late makes a difference...except it does.

Does Gregg not watch football? Three inches can make a huge difference in the game.

Faster is better than slower, but only in Olympic-style track and swimming events might hundredths of seconds merit attention. 

This doesn't make sense. In football the players are chasing each other around, so if one player is slightly faster than another it can have an effect on the game. Three inches can determine whether a defender is able to trip up a running back trying to score a touchdown or not. Sometimes I forget how terrible Gregg Easterbrook is.

Maryland just raised its state income tax rate to 8.95 percent. It's certainly not 9 percent!

On $50 million in revenue the difference in 8.95 percent and 9 percent is $25,000. Maybe $25,000 isn't a lot of money to Gregg Easterbrook, but that's a pretty big difference in tax revenue. How can someone who tries to be smart and claims to be so smart be so fucking stupid? This can't be happening.

Medicare taxes are rising this year by 0.9 percent for many filers to help finance ObamaCare. It's certainly not a 1 percent increase!

No, a 0.9 percent increase isn't a 1% increase because there is a big difference in the rise of Medicare taxes by 0.9 percent and the rise of Medicare taxes by 1%. If you don't understand this, then that says more about you than how hyper-specific these numbers are.

Last fall, NFL Network said Barry Sanders's career average was "4.99" yards per rush. The difference between 4.99 and 5 yards is a third of an inch. 

I don't see the problem here. It's just a number rounded to the hundredth decimal place. Gregg must have really struggled with integers when he was in elementary school.

But absurd precision characterizes the Post rankings Matthews produces, which claim accuracy to the third decimal place. For instance North Fort Myers High of Florida is ranked 6.925, while Pensacola High of Florida is ranked 6.778. So North Fort Myers High is 2.168 percent better than Pensacola High? 

I would love to know from Gregg where should these rankings be rounded up or down to? Should North Fort Myers High be rounded to 6.9? 7? If so, then should Pensacola High be rounded to 6.8 or up to 7 as well? This would ruin the point of these rankings because they wouldn't accurately show the difference in the schools. There is a larger difference in these schools than zero percent or 0.1 percent. The more decimal places the number is rounded to, the better the rankings show the differences in the schools. This is really, really common sense.

Divide 65 by 11, and the result is 5.9090909. In most cases, the 5.9 is all that matters. In the Post's wacky mythology, the school would end up ranked as a "5.909." 

Gregg doesn't even understand his own stupidity. These are large amounts of numbers with large amounts of data that are being compared. Nate Silver isn't divided 65 by 11 one time, he is dividing larger numbers multiple amounts of time. So after so many simulations and so many numbers, the specificity is required to fully understand the data that has been produced. It's so frustrating that Gregg can not understand how data collection and reporting can work. It's basic statistics.

Next Week: Will there be a cheating scandal on NFL draft grades? 

Yes, there will be cheating. Mel Kiper will cheat by only handing out B's and C's so as not to be seen as wrong in the future when his draft grades are reviewed. I'm betting he won't fail a single team. Since he is such a draft expert, he wouldn't want to go on a limb and give an actual opinion using his supposed expertise.