Saturday, November 30, 2013

2 comments Dan Shaughnessy Is Not Taking the Patriots Loss on "Monday Night Football" As Well as He Could

I get the feeling occasionally that Dan Shaughnessy hates the Boston sports teams. Maybe he doesn't hate them, but just likes tweaking the fans of Boston sports teams and selling books based on the fan's collective misery. He's like Bill Simmons in that way...or is it that Bill Simmons is like Dan Shaughnessy in that way? No matter, Dan is not taking the Patriots loss to the Carolina Panthers very well. He thinks (or probably knows) the Patriots got robbed and says Patriots fans feel that way too (interestingly, if you read the comments from this article then you will see a good amount of Patriots fans say New England simply didn't play well to win the game, even with the ball call). So Dan lets off a little steam, references the Red Sox and then takes a few shots at Charlotte and the excitement around the game to make himself feel better about the Patriots losing. Tear others down to build yourself up. It's pretty much Dan's mantra outside of "Troll as hard as you can to get attention."

Walt Coleman never would have let this happen.

The Tuck Rule. Remember it? That's pretty much Dan's point here. Nostalgia in place of quality writing.

The Patriots were beaten by the Carolina Panthers, 24-20, on “Monday Night Football”. And they forever will say they were robbed.

I'm pretty sure the Patriots will let the issue drop at some point and move on from this loss. Dan Shaughnessy may never move on from the loss, because Dan prefers to rekindle the past at every single opportunity.

It was a night that tested our faith, and everything that we know to be true about Patriot Football.

The fact Dan is using the term "Patriot football" but also capitalizing the "F" in football deserves a punch in the face. This is much like "The Cardinal Way" or "Team X Way" deserves a brief amount of physical violence that doesn't permanently injure someone but serves as a reminder to not be such a dumbass.

We know that the Patriots always win (five straight, 10 of 11) on “Monday Night Football.” They always win after a bye week (10 of their last 13). They always win in the second half of the regular season (24-1 the last three years). They always outsmart and outplay the other guys in November.

This can't "always" happen. Considering the Patriots have lost a game on "Monday Night Football," have lost three times after a bye, and lost a regular season game in the second half over the last three years shows this doesn't "always" happen. Hyperbole is fun though.

They always cruise to the division title and a first-round bye and a second-round home game.

I will remember Dan wrote this after Dan writes the inevitable "This isn't the same Brady/Belichick Patriots team" and recalls how the Patriots haven't won a Super Bowl since 2004 if/when the Patriots are eliminated in the playoffs this season. The Patriots are dominant, at least until Dan needs to paint the Patriots as really good, but never good enough, while also indicating Brady and Belichick are past their prime.

They always break the hearts and spirit of pigskin pretenders. They always get the last call of the game (Walt Coleman, tuck rule, January 2002).

I'm not sure if Dan is being sarcastic here or is really serious he expects the Patriots to get the last call of the game. I'll just assume Dan doesn't know if he is being serious or sarcastic either.

And so we waited for that last flag to go New England’s way. Tom Brady had chucked his 40th and final pass into the end zone and it was clear that Luke Kuechly had Rob Gronkowski wrapped up like King Tut and there was a flag on the field and it looked like the Patriots were going to get one more shot at winning the game.

"Wrapped up like King Tut." This is a good chance for me to remind everyone that Dan Shaughnessy has won the Massachusetts Sportswriter of the Year award multiple times. He has written books that sell more than five copies. As I say about sportswriting awards, a sportswriter eventually starts winning awards which validates his writing skill as long as he doesn't die or retire. Stay with it long enough and everyone gets a trophy.

Stand by for Brady to Kenbrell Thompkins for a walkoff TD followed by David Ortiz launching a grand slam into the cop’s station in the right-field bullpen.

There's no such thing as a "walkoff TD" and this is typical Dan Shaughnessy writing for him to make a reference to a Boston sports team while writing about another Boston sports team.

We were left with the sight of Brady screaming at a zebra as they came off the field.

Actually Brady and Ryan Mallett were screaming at an official as the officials immediately ran off the field without the politeness of providing everyone in the stadium the exact reason the flag was picked up. It left the viewers to think the only reason the flag was picked up is "because I said so."

Patriots coach Bill Belichick said he received no explanation as to why the flag was picked up.

“The last time I started asking an official about a call, that was the wrong thing to do, so I have no idea . . . We’ve been down that road before. Didn’t get one tonight. Didn’t get one at the Baltimore game [last season with replacement officials].”

That’s Bill-speak. The rest of us, in Jackie Chiles-speak, were “shocked and chagrined. Mortified and stupefied. Outrageous. A travesty of justice.’’

Oh, a "Seinfeld" reference. I've become convinced if a network showed residents of the Northern-ish part of the United States in the 45-70 age bracket a channel that only had "Seinfeld" re-runs, a newscast involving Matt Lauer, and documentaries about JFK then that network would be the most popular network in the United States. Maybe that's just my experience.

New England hasn’t been this angry about a ruling against the Patriots since the cheesy unsportsmanlike conduct/pushing call in a loss to the Jets Oct. 20. 

Dan always thinks the Patriots are getting screwed over on calls by the officials. That is until Dan has decided the Patriots stink, in which case they don't deserve these calls from the officials because the Patriots team as a whole is bunch of losers with no long-term direction but to continuously make the NFL playoffs, while having the audacity to not win the Super Bowl every year.

Brady was shredding the scared Panthers

Terrified, they were absolutely terrified. I'm surprised they even continued playing defense on the last drive.

“It’s exactly what we hoped for,’’ said Panthers coach Ron Rivera. “We got pressure on the quarterback and our safety was in perfect position to make the play for us.’’

Little known fact: Ron Rivera actually died in early October. He has been replaced by his twin brother Don Rivera, who took over the Panthers team after his brother's death after quitting his job as the manager of a CVS in San Diego. That's the only way I can account for Carolina winning more than six football games this year.

New Englanders begged to differ. This was like losing a World Series game on an obstruction call.


I like how the Red Sox won the World Series and Dan's main takeaway from the Series is that they lost a World Series game on an obstruction call. Dan probably wants to forget he counted the Red Sox out at the beginning of the season, but I'm sure his readers don't mind continuously reminding him of this article and this article.

Monday night’s game was one of the biggest sporting events in North Carolina since Michael Jordan left Chapel Hill.

Here we go. Dan is sad, so Dan decides to mock the irrelevance of sports in North Carolina. I would say the seven college Division-I NCAA national titles teams from North Carolina have won since 1984 were a big deal in the state as well. Or maybe getting an NFL, NHL, and NBA team (as well as losing an NBA team and then having it replaced with the Bobcats, an NBDL team that has to play NBA teams for some reason) since 1984 was a bigger deal too. In other words, few people cared in 1984 that Michael Jordan left Chapel Hill and making snide comments about the state reeks of sour grapes.

I do appreciate Dan's "we've been there a lot before so we don't get excited about 'Monday Night Football' home games anymore" attitude, but I have a feeling it's simply not true.

You would have thought the Panthers were a first-year franchise, all doe-eyed about this visit from the big, bad Patriots.

It was a home game on national television where the Panthers were 6-3 playing against a 7-2 Patriots team. It was a big game anyway, but the game being on national television gave it more relevance and importance. Carolina has been one of the worst, if not the worst, team in the NFL over the past 4-5 years so there's a little bit of excitement when the team is relevant again. I'm sure no one in New England gets excited about important games because they play those important games all the time and stuff (brushes shoulders off).

Carolina players, coaches, and fans were pumped and jacked.

So Patriots fans were not excited? Got it. The approximately 20% of the fans at Bank of America Stadium on that Monday night say differently.

It was Yahoo Squared

I don't get this. I don't know what Yahoo Squared is. I think Dan is just jealous that while he was attending the game on that Monday night he saw several Southern women whose perm looks better than his does.

It was hard not to think of the 2012 Houston Texans Frauds who came to Foxborough wearing letter sweaters with an 11-1 record.

Well, except the Panthers weren't 11-1, they were playing in Charlotte not Foxborough, and Carolina ended up winning the game. Other than that, it was the exact same thing.

Charlotte hadn’t hosted a Monday night game in five seasons.

Because the Panthers team was terrible, hence the excitement about having a team with a winning record playing on national television against another team with a winning record. Carolina had a 23-41 record since the 2008 season coming into the 2013 season. It's hard to get a home Monday night game when your team is terrible. When the team starts winning games again, it becomes a big deal.

The game was front-page news in the Charlotte Observer

The local newspaper covered the football game that will bring thousands of dollars in revenue to the city on the front page. Who does that? Inconceivable.

Dan is really trying hard to criticize the Charlotte area for being excited the Panthers were on "Monday Night Football" as if the Patriots are just so over playing big games, due to it being a way of life for them and all. The Patriots fans who bought tickets to the game seemed pretty excited to be attending a "Monday Night Football" game, but I'm sure these aren't "real" Patriots fans in Dan's opinion.

This was billed as a “return to relevance.’’

This was a reference to Don Rivera stating he wanted the Panthers team to become relevant and then stay as relevant. Really, the team had been irrelevant for a little bit of time. This isn't a headline that is being overjoyed, but referenced the team actually mattered for another week on the biggest stage provided to a team in the regular season. 

and the cover of the sports section featured an ESPN camera with a big headline asking, “Ready For Prime Time?’’

It was a big game for the Panthers because it coincided with the team performing well again. A lot of cities get excited about a big football game.

The Panthers wore black jerseys and urged fans to dress in Johnny Cash casual.

Except they didn't call it Johnny Cash casual because not everyone in the South listens to country music and worships Johnny Cash. The fans were urged to wear black jerseys because the Panthers were wearing black jerseys.

Most complied.

Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder fans think the Carolina Panther fans are such lemmings for following directions mindlessly.

Back from a three-game layoff (hip injury) Talib was burned on a 42-yard over-the-top pass and objected to Smith’s hot-dogging after the catch.

Yeah, Smith kind of hot-dogs after a catch. It's his thing. That's just how he gets pumped up and gets the crowd pumped up. Since Smith has done it every single game over the past few years I would sort of expect Talib to expect it and adjust accordingly.

When Smith made a subsequent 5-yard catch on the same touchdown drive, Talib grabbed Smith by the leg and refused to let go after the whistle. Talib looked a little like Jeff Van Gundy holding on to Alonzo Mourning.

What? There's no reference to a Boston team here. There's a reference to a Knicks-Heat game. Surely this is a misprint.

After the Patriots tied it at 10 early in the third, Newton submitted a highlight-reel run for the ages, eluding six tacklers and scrambling for a 14-yard gain. ESPN-Info calculated that Newton actually ran 75 yards for the 14-yard gain. You will see this one a lot in the days, weeks, and years to come.

What a great description. I'm shocked Dan Shaughnessy hasn't gotten a job as a play-by-play guy as of yet. It's so crystal clear I can almost feel like I am there. Besides write well, make accurate predictions related to his job and not be an asshole, is there anything that Dan can't do?

“We left too much time on the clock,” said Newton. “With Tom Brady, I’ve seen that story before. I’ve read that book before.” 

Unfortunately Newton has seen that story before by leaving too much time on the clock for Josh Freeman, E.J. Manuel, Matt Ryan, Tony Romo, and quite possibly every other NFL quarterback who had the ball on a final drive in the fourth quarter against Carolina over the past 2-3 years. So the idea that Tom Brady was going to lead a comeback was pretty much a given.

Going for his 39th career comeback win, Brady came back and threw 12 passes in less than a minute. The last one was picked, while Gronk was held.

I don't know if that pass would have been complete if Gronk wasn't held. Robert Lester was right there, but if Gronk had come back to the ball he would have had a play on it. I guess we'll never know.

“We are relevant,’’ said Rivera.

“We were robbed,’’ said the Patriots.

The Patriots had other opportunities to win this game. They kicked a field goal late in the game when they perhaps should have gone for it on fourth down and the Patriots fumbled in the red zone. I agree there should have been a penalty on that last play. Who knows if Brady was given another shot to score a touchdown from the 13-yard line? Either way, perhaps I'm being too sensitive, but I feel like Dan is doing his best to take passive-aggressive shots at the opposing team and their fans. That's typical Dan though. He has to rip someone and if he can't rip the Patriots then he takes his aim at other teams in order to troll their fan base.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

4 comments Gregg Easterbrook Declares the Zone Read Dead Again

I figured TMQ for this week would be about the demise of the zone read or a reprisal of the "Peyton Paradox." It is about the decline of the read option. Gregg is great at overreacting to what happened during the past week in the NFL, so because the Redskins continue to struggle and Colin Kaepernick didn't run for 300 yards Gregg has decided teams are moving back towards wanting a more traditional quarterback. What Gregg doesn't realize is teams never went away from wanting a traditional quarterback. Teams just used the zone read as a part of the offense to throw the defense off-balance. A quarterback will always have to throw the ball well and I can't see this changing anytime soon. Gregg declared the zone read dead earlier this year and then shut up about it once the 49ers reeled off a string of victories. Now that the Redskins are struggling, and because he lacks NFL-related material for TMQ, he decides the zone read is dead again. Nevermind that Carolina runs portions of the zone read and Seattle does at times too. Ignore that and focus on Gregg stating that an NFL team will want a quarterback who can throw the ball...which seems pretty obvious.

Once upon a time, NFL scouts wanted college quarterbacks who played in a pro-style offense. The theory was no one could learn to read pass coverages after arriving in the NFL: a player needed years of practice using NFL-style tactics.

It's the first sentence of the column and Gregg is already spewing lies and insanity. We are to really believe NFL teams didn't think a college quarterback could learn to read pass coverages better after arriving in the NFL? Of course NFL quarterbacks learn to read pass coverages upon entering the NFL. They see much more diverse and difficulty coverages in the NFL than they do in college. Plus, the NFL is now using college spread tactics in the passing game, so these quarterbacks who ran the read option or spread offense in college shouldn't be at a great disadvantage upon entering the NFL.

Then about a decade ago, the spread offense arrived in Texas prep football. NFL teams of the Lone Star State may be struggling, but Texas high school football remains the sport's leading indicator.

Apparently Gregg will continue to ignore that earlier this year he stated the Pacific Northwest is the newest hotbed of football activity.

San Francisco at Washington on "Monday Night Football," the traditionalist scouts had their revenge. There's a reason they liked pro-style quarterbacks, who now may make a draft comeback.

Or they may not. Or NFL teams will draft quarterbacks who can run an NFL offense while also having the mobility to run some zone read plays. Regardless, by stating "may make a draft comeback" Gregg has himself covered either way. His ego won't have to take the blow of being wrong no matter how this plays out and that's the most important thing.

In the game, Niners zone-read quarterback Colin Kaepernick struggled against one of the league's worst pass defenses, often sailing the ball where no receiver awaited.

Kaepernick was 15-24 for 235 yards, 9.79 average yards per attempt, three touchdowns, zero interceptions, a 134.6 rating, and a 90.6 QBR. Gregg Easterbrook is simply outright lying to his readers. Kaepernick may have thrown one or two passes over a receiver's head but he didn't struggle against the Redskins for most of the game. He was efficient and had one of his best games of the season.

I wonder if Gregg simply ignores what he saw during the game and the box score when writing things like this or he knows he is lying and wants to see if anyone will call him on it, because he truly doesn't care if his readers think he's a liar or not.

Mostly, Griffin and Kaepernick looked like quarterbacks who can only run a college-style offense. When the zone-read was a fresh idea last season, that was fine.

No, they look like second year quarterbacks who are having to adjust to the NFL adjusting to them. NFL defenses aren't stupid and they have adjusted to what Griffin and Kaepernick want to do on offense, so now these two quarterbacks will have to adjust to what the NFL defenses are doing. It's not like Kaepernick had even started a full season at quarterback in the NFL prior to this year. He's adjusting to NFL defenses adjusting to him.

On Sunday night, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady did vanilla, chocolate and strawberry to spectacular effect: Monday night, the flavor of the month was a bust for both teams.

Manning had a 52.8% completion percentage and 150 yards passing. Granted, he was playing in a stiff wind, but he wasn't spectacular on Sunday night. Stop making things up. Are there people who read TMQ and didn't watch a single NFL game over the past week? There must be because that's the only way I can explain why ESPN trots out TMQ every week when Gregg Easterbrook constantly misleads and lies to ESPN's readers.

The pendulum had swung toward college-style quarterbacks on draft day -- expect it to swing back the other way.

The first two quarterbacks drafted in the last two NFL drafts have both been traditional drop-back quarterbacks.

As for Washington, the club under Griffin has seen streaks of 3-6, then 7-0, now 3-9. That's not encouraging. Football is a team game. Not only did the RG III trade denude Washington of draft selections for talent and depth, the 21 coaches aren't performing well either. Shanahan is highly hyped and very highly paid. During the years Shanahan had John Elway in his prime, Shanahan was 54-18. In all other years, Shanahan is 124-121.

This is just further proof a coach's perceived talent and who he knows in the NFL can cover up for a lot of his deficiencies. Mike Shanahan has lived off his reputation as a two-time Super Bowl winning coach for a while now. My issue with Shanahan and coaches like Jeff Fisher isn't whether they are good coaches or not, but whether they are worth the amount of money they are being paid. Is paying $4 million more per year for Mike Shanahan as compared to another head coach really worth it to the organization and will it provide the organization with a better return on their investment than choosing a lesser known candidate as the head coach. I guess it depends on the other candidate.

With each successive season, there seems more evidence Shanahan was just the guy who was standing there when Elway realized his potential, and otherwise is a mediocre coach.

I don't think Shanahan is a mediocre coach necessarily, but he hasn't done a bang-up job with the Redskins quite yet. Robert Griffin doesn't seem to have the offensive talent around him that he needs to be successful in the NFL. That is partially on Shanahan and also a reflection on the salary cap penalties suffered by the Redskins organization combined with the loss of draft picks to move up and get Griffin.

Sunday, Denver faced New England in cold, strong wind, and Belichick completely outsmarted Denver Broncos' backup coach Jack del Rio in wind management. Winning the coin flip in overtime, Belichick took the wind.

How did Belichick outsmart Jack Del Rio? The Patriots won the coin toss. They had the choice of choosing their side of the field or taking the ball and Belichick took the ball. Del Rio didn't have a choice in the matter so I think it's inaccurate to say he was outsmarted by Belichick in this situation.

In another overtime game, with one second remaining in the fifth quarter, the Minnesota Vikings fair-caught a Green Bay Packers punt. The ball was on the Vikings' 34 -- try a fair-catch kick! Sure it's a 76-yard field goal, which would be the longest ever. But Blair Walsh has a strong leg, and there's no rush on a fair-catch kick. Many placekickers launch kicks that would be good from around 70 in warmups, with no rush.

Oh, many kickers do make 70 yard kicks in warmups? Do they do this outside and with a groups of rushers trying to block the kick? Don't forget the Packers could have had a man back to return this field goal attempt, which would have resulted in the Packers essentially have a free kickoff return. I would imagine if the Vikings attempted a field goal here and the Packers ran it back for a touchdown then Gregg would criticize the Vikings for trying a long field goal and allowing the Packers a chance to win the game.

Fans were deprived the pleasure of beholding a very long fair-catch kick on the final play of an overtime. It might be decades until an NFL team is in this position again.

Oh the tragedy of this situation. Whatever shall we do?

Yet trailing by only three despite the turnovers, Detroit reached third-and-12 on the City of Tampa 28 with a minute remaining. The Buccaneers blitzed. Stafford sprinted backward 10 yards, then launched a perfect lob to Calvin Johnson, who had beaten his man at the Tampa 3. Megatron, holder of receiving records uncountable, let the ball carom out of his hands for an interception. Game over.

Calvin Johnson has saved Matthew Stafford's ass so many times I think he is entitled to a drop or two. Of course Gregg focuses on the one time Calvin Johnson lets the ball carom out of his hands as opposed to mentioning all the times when Johnson goes up and grabs the football with defenders hanging all over him.

Sweet 'N' Sour Play: Kansas City leading 38-34, the San Diego Chargers, out of timeouts, faced second-and-long on the Chiefs' 26 with 31 seconds remaining. TMQ loves the tactic of, in a high-pressure situation, giving the ball to a guy who never gets the ball. Bolts receiver Seyi Ajirotutu, with two catches on the season, lined up wide left. He ran a go, and caught the touchdown pass that proved the winning points. Sweet.

TMQ is a fan of this tactic until this tactic doesn't work, at which point Gregg Easterbrook writes that the Chargers should have thrown the ball to Keenan Allen in this situation and not a rarely-used player like Ajirotutu. Gregg's criticism is always outcome-dependent. Always. His criticism is based entirely on the outcome of a play and he openly contradicts himself, such as in this situation. Over the past couple of weeks we have read where Gregg has stated a team made a mistake by getting the ball to a rarely-used player, but in this case he lauds the Chargers for throwing the ball to a rarely used player in a key situation.

Probably gamma bursts have a natural origin, but we shouldn't assume this. As TMQ has noted, what if they are the muzzle flashes of doomsday weapons?...Gamma bursts appear far more violent than nuclear explosion. If this burst happened in our Milky Way, the radiation would have killed everything on Earth, and any life similar to ours throughout this galaxy. When astronomers look into the heavens, they observe fantastically powerful explosions. We should not blithely assume all are natural in origin.

These aliens are probably shooting doomsday weapons at Earth in order to destroy the planet because humans insist on watching unrealistic television shows and brewing Winter beers when it is still Fall. 

The tactics for coaching in cold, strong wind are three: First, scheme to get the wind in the first quarter, to jump to a lead. Next, scheme to get the wind in the fourth quarter, when it's money time. 

This scheme would involve the opposing team making the mistake of taking the wind in the third quarter. Basically, this scheme requires the other team's help in making it work, so this scheme would only work if the opposing coach screwed up...which Jack Del Rio (in retrospect of course) did. 

The Patriots won the opening coin toss, so Belichick deferred.

The Patriots always defer. This is a tactic that Bill Belichick always uses, not only in this game due to the wind.

That left Denver to decide whether to start with the ball or start with the wind. Denver chose the ball, which meant New England could then take the wind. Remember, on the opening coin flip the victor has three options: If "defer" is the choice, then the flip loser takes the ball, then the flip victor can choose which goal to defend. So the game began with Belichick getting the best-case wind outcome for the first half.

Having the wind in the first quarter didn't help the Flying Elvii, who lost three fumbles, spotting the visitors a 17-0 lead. 

Gregg's tactics for coaching in a cold, strong wind is off to a rousing start.
When the referee turned to the Denver captain, inexplicably the visitors elected to take the wind in the third quarter, giving New England the wind in the fourth quarter, exactly what Belichick wanted.

Belichick is so evil. I'm not sure if this was inexplicable or not. The Broncos wanted to keep the pressure on the Patriots and wanted to make sure their Hall of Fame quarterback got the football again to put more points up on the board. It wasn't a great long-term strategy, but it had short-term tactics behind it.

Jack of the River compounded his goal-to-defend mistake by keeping his offense on the ground in the third quarter, which would turn out to be the final time Denver had the wind. As New England was outscoring Denver 21-0 in the third quarter, the Broncos ran eight rushing plays and four passing plays, never attempting a deep throw. True, rushing was attractive -- New England was playing a funky 2-4-5 alignment intended to frustrate Manning, offering Denver the run.

So basically Gregg thinks the Broncos should have tried to pass the ball, despite the fact the Patriots had set up their defense to stop the pass and allow the Broncos to run the ball. I'm not sure how forcing a throw into coverage (simply because they have the wind) is the best strategy when the Broncos could eat clock by running the football (thereby keeping Tom Brady off the field), but I'm not a tactical genius like Gregg Easterbrook either.

In the NFL format, flip-winning coaches almost always take the ball. Belichick understood that wind was more important than the ball at that juncture. Would Del Rio have taken the wind if he'd won the flip? We'll never know. We do know that in a game where the visitors seemed to have better players, the home team had better coaching.

I'm shocked that Jack Del Rio wasn't able to match wits with Bill Belichick.

Now Gregg kills space and time by referencing "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" and talking about dams. Yep, this is still supposed to be a football column.

Reader Jim Clair of Louisville, Ky., reports that last week, "ABC Family had a chyron touting the beginning of the 'countdown to 25 days of Christmas.' What was in the crawl was a countdown to a countdown to a countdown."

Yes, it does sound funny, but ABC Family wants to publicize their 25 Days of Christmas Programming and do so by counting down until it begins. I'm not sure how humanity will survive such egregious "creep."

TMQ contends that coaches don't go for it on fourth down, or in other pressure situations, because they want the players to take blame for a loss. Never was this better on display than in the Navy at San Jose State pairing. During the second overtime, Navy scored and kicked a PAT, then San Jose State scored a touchdown. That meant Spartans coach Ron Caragher faced this choice: kick a PAT for a third overtime, or go for two to win. That's two yards to win a game, on a day when San Jose State averaged 6.3 yards per offense snap.

But did San Jose State average 6.3 yards per offensive snap on down-and-short situations? Gregg is incapable of understanding that the call to go for the two-point conversion here is situation specific. San Jose State may have averaged 6.3 yards per offensive snap, but this doesn't mean they would gain 6.3 yards in this situation. On fourth-and-two (which is what a two-point conversion essentially is) near the goal line the field is more compacted and the running back has smaller lanes to run through. So while Gregg's conclusion San Jose State should have gone for it may be correct, the way he comes to this conclusion is not very good at all.

Afterward he said, "I felt more comfortable kicking and letting the players play to win the game and not making a coaching decision that could've backfired." Blame the players, don't blame me!

Or it could be seen as the coach saying, "I have faith in my players to win the game. My going for the extra point was showing my faith in the defense being able to prevent Navy from scoring."

Baylor and Oregon have offenses built to jump to a quick lead and cause opponents to give up; when forced to play from behind, both looked befuddled. Even excellent football teams need to play from behind. It's part of the skill set a champion must possess.

Or both teams looked befuddled by playing teams that had a good defensive game plan, which may not have anything to do with the skill set of a champion, heart of a champion or anything intangible like that.

As TMQ has noted before, of high-scoring teams such as the 1991 Buffalo Bills, 1998 Minnesota Vikings, 2010 Oregon Ducks and 2007 and 2012 New England Patriots, they tend to peter out late, as defensive intensity cranks up and tendencies become clear. This is a restive point for the high-scoring Denver Broncos.

So it seems Gregg has gone from stating earlier in this NFL season that high-octane NFL offenses are here to say, to now falling back on what he had previously said about defenses catching up eventually with these offenses. So why didn't Gregg mention the defenses would catch up with the offenses back when he was writing glowingly about the Oregon Ducks' offense and how many points the Broncos were putting up earlier in this year? It's funny how Gregg sometimes conveniently forgets principles and ideas that he himself furthers once he sees evidence contrary to what he believes.

Receivers Are Supposed to Receive: Carolina leading 20-16 with 10 seconds remaining, Miami's Mike Wallace dropped a pass at the Panthers' goal line. It would not have been an easy catch, but Wallace's job is to catch the ball.

It wasn't that easy of a catch and Wallace had to dive to get to the ball. I guess Gregg is going to skip over how highly-paid glory boy Mike Wallace abused hard-working, seventh-round pick Captain Munnerlyn the entire game because that doesn't fit his narrative that highly-paid players underachieve by being lazy and lowly-drafted players have no ego and work hard.

Last Week's Jacksonville Item: My item on the city of Jacksonville giving a $43 million gift to the Jaguars for stadium upgrades, while billionaire Jags owner Shad Khan ponies up only $20 million, originally contained a link to school funding cuts in Jacksonville, Ill. This error made me look like a complete idiot. The link rapidly was replaced with the correct one, to school funding cuts in Jacksonville, Fla. The item also said the source of the $43 million was a "new" hotel tax. The hotel tax is not new, so I took out the word "new," leaving the rest as is because none of the underlying points changed.

So Gregg didn't read the article he linked, unless he can't read English or doesn't know "Ill." means Illinois and not Florida, but the good news is he corrected this egregious error very quickly which completely makes up for the fact he was very lazy when linking an article he didn't read. Oh, and he didn't read the article (Have I mentioned that?) so he claimed the hotel tax was new and it wasn't. Other than that, no problems to see here.

More Proof of the Decline of Western Civilization: This year the Christmas classic "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" airs on CBS on Nov. 26. A Christmas special airs before Thanksgiving!

But I'm sure if CBS corrected the date the special aired rapidly then all would be forgiven. Right, Gregg?

Reader Brad Prescott of San Francisco notes this Ohio State announcement about Buckeye athletes with good grades: "There are athletes taking challenging majors, such as biology, economics and electrical engineering. But 21 of the 74 athletes lauded are in some form of sports, exercise or recreation majors, including 'exercise science' and 'sport industry,' a college department that lacks a grammatically correct name. In my view, such majors should not even be offered at a four-year institution. 

Two of my best friends from college took part in a "exercise science" or "sports science" major and they are now gainfully employed with an organization where they oversee facilities, deal with personnel issues and budgets. My point is that this major should be offered because students who chose to take this major can do something with the degree. I can't speak to whether this major is more challenging than another major, but these majors do serve a purpose.

People aspiring to work in sports should major in law, medicine or statistics; subjects like exercise and 'leisure studies' should be minors, at best. The athletic factory schools know it's easier to keep players eligible if they are pushed away from challenging majors [and] toward course loads that free up more time for practice."

While the latter part may be true, Brad Prescott from San Francisco has a fundamental misunderstanding of what an exercise science major does. They don't necessarily deal with law, medicine or statistics, so those majors wouldn't get them to the point they want to be at in their life. Exercise science is part statistics and part medicine, but it's not the same thing as majoring in medicine. I think Brad should probably know more about what the major entails at four-year institutions before suggesting the major is eliminated.

Years ago when Page 2 still existed and still had a background of yellow kryptonite, your columnist claimed to have drawn up a play that was "100 percent unstoppable." The play was called Blast Gold.

Sunday, the St. Louis Rams ran Blast Gold. Tavon Austin lined up wide; came in motion left, back toward the formation; took a toss left; took one hard step left and then executed a planned reversal of field, sprinting right behind a pulling blocker for a 65-yard touchdown. Reversal-of-field runs are high-risk, high-reward. Usually they occur spontaneously on broken plays. They should be planned more often.

While plays like this should possibly be run more often, this play isn't 100% unstoppable. If the defense is blitzing from the right side of the offensive line, then Austin may not have had time to reverse field or if the defensive end and cornerback on the left side of the defense stayed at home, while the safety stayed in a Cover 1 and moved left upon seeing Austin reverse field then this play would be stoppable. It's a well-done play though. It's just not unstoppable.

The R*dsk*ns went for it on fourth-and-2 at the San Francisco 41 early in the third quarter. The formation was a jumbo set -- except the extra blocker in the backfield was 180-pound speed receiver Aldrick Robinson. What the hey? Needless to say, run stuffed.

The run was stuffed not because Aldrick Robinson was the extra blocker, but because the play call, a run up the middle with Roy Helu was uninspired. Maybe the Redskins thought the 49ers would think with Robinson in the backfield that it would be a trick play. Either way, the issue was the uninspired and ineffective play call, not the personnel on the field.

The 600 Club: Hosting Navy, San Jose State gained 600 yards, scored seven touchdowns, yet lost.

And of course San Jose State lost not because their defense wasn't very good, but because their head coach wasn't bold enough to try a two-point conversion in overtime. After all, San Jose State was averaging 6.3 yards per play on the day which is completely relevant in a situation-specific play like a two-point conversion.

After the flag for pass interference was picked up on the final down of the Carolina-New England game, football insiders were all over the map trying to figure out what happened. Your columnist thought the call should have been defensive holding, which would have given the Patriots five yards and one more try.

It seemed clear it was defensive holding.

Close reading of the rulebook caused many to realize that once the quarterback releases a pass, defensive holding is no longer called. (Gronkowski was held before the pass.) That made me wonder -- how come once the ball is away, defenders don't start grabbing anyone not in the path of the pass? Consider the hitch screen that's a football fad. Once the ball is released by the quarterback, defenders could grab offensive linemen and wide receivers blocking for the hitch, and throw them to the ground.

Because it would take an amazing amount of reflexes and strength for a defender to see a hitch being called and then react so quickly and be so strong as to pick up another the offensive player and throw him to the ground. NFL players are strong, but it doesn't seem very likely a defensive player could react so quickly on a hitch to grab an offensive player and throw him to the ground, get up and make the tackle. After all, if the defender takes the offensive player to the ground then that offensive player has done his job by taking the defender out of the play. So it doesn't make sense for the defensive player to voluntarily take himself out of the play, which is what the offensive player is trying to do anyway in blocking the defender.

Patriots trailing 24-14, third-and-goal on the Denver 6, Gronkowski ran into the end zone, slammed into his defender, then turned around to catch a touchdown pass. Offensive pass interference should have been called. This was a four-point swing in a game New England won by three points. Guess that makes Gronkowski, and the Patriots, even for the Carolina ending. Given the similar game situation, one wonders: Is this what Gronkowski was trying to do on the final snap at Carolina? Maybe he planned to slam into Kuechly, but Kuechly grabbed him first.

Yes, I'm sure that's exactly what Gronkowski was going to do, but he just didn't take the time to reach out and didn't appear to make any move at all to slam into Kuechly. But yes, Kuechly cheated before Gronkowski could cheat.

Obscure College Score: Tabor 14, Benedictine of Kansas 13 (NAIA playoffs). Located in Hillsboro, Kan., Tabor College offers a FAQs page on which the third question is, "What does liberal arts mean?" If you don't know what liberal arts means, maybe you're not ready for college.

The answer given on that page is fairly long, so I would like to see Gregg recite what liberal arts means according to Tabor College. I'm not sure he could do it, especially since there is "Kingdom of God" wording in there.

Next Week: Peyton Manning vows to spend offseason training at South Pole.

I'm surprised Gregg didn't mention the "Peyton Paradox" this week. I thought for sure that he would. I'm sure we will get a dose of the "Peyton Paradox" after/if the Broncos lose a playoff game. Even if it is the Super Bowl that the Broncos lose, Gregg will point out Peyton Manning has difficulty winning big games. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

4 comments MMQB Review: It Turns Out All the Teams Peter King Had in the NFL Playoffs After Week 3 May Not Make the Playoffs After All Edition

Peter King was surprised last week that Ruby Tuesday's did not have a great local beer selection, discussed the JFK assassination (because this is a football column and all), as well as decided that the Chiefs have a bunch of flaws that no one noticed prior to them losing to the Broncos. Losing a game does that I guess. Everything that was right about the team is suddenly wrong. Peter focused on the Chiefs lack of pass rush against the Broncos, even though the Chiefs had struggled to rush the passer the previous two games and Peter wasn't concerned about this at the time. Mostly, last week's MMQB was about Ruby Tuesday's lack of beer selection though. This week it may shock you to learn that Peter talks about the Patriots-Broncos game (Manning v. Brady! Fumbles v. less than 100 passing yards passing by the fourth quarter! Only on NBC!), decides the Colts are in free-fall (as always, a loss completely changes Peter's perspective on a team...just like last week with the Chiefs), and even though there is no travel note, he uses the word "precocious" yet again when talking about an adult male. I think it's weird.

Well, if you went to bed at halftime, when Denver led New England 24-0, you missed:

New England stop fumbling the ball and Peyton Manning struggling to throw the football into the wind until he absolutely had to throw the football into the wind to tie the game?

On the 11-year anniversary of the ill-fated Marty Mornhinweg deferral to start overtime (Lions-Bears, Champaign, Ill.; for more details, that is why Google and Bing were invented,

I greatly dislike it when Peter King references an event and then tells his readers to Google or Bing it. He's an asshat. For more details on what that is, Peter should Google it.

but suffice to say it did not end well for coach Mornhinweg),


Bill Belichick chose to give Manning the ball to start overtime. “We were like, ‘Defer? Take the wind?’ Even the captains didn’t know,” said Patriots defensive captain Devin McCourty.

Next time the captains may want to ask this question prior to walking out to midfield for the overtime coin toss. I wonder what would happen if the Patriots took 20 minutes to decide if they took the wind or deferred? Could the officials force the Patriots to make a decision? Peter King should Bing the answer to this and get back to me.

The name “Peter” (no relation) playing a huge role in the outcome.

Cutesy of you to say "no relation," Peter. Very precocious of you.

Let’s talk about that muff.

Sounds like Peter's being using the Google machine to look up more than the answer to football-related questions and he is leaning towards Googling more NSFW content now that he has artistic freedom at THE MMQB.

It says so much about the game, and about why it turned the way it did 

Yes, the turnover in overtime that put the Patriots in immediate field goal range to win the game did have a lot to do with the game turning out like it did. This is analysis, people. Step back and let Peter do his work.

One bit of weirdness after another. “It was a significant wind,” said Belichick in explaining his call. Okay, but handing the ball to Manning? No way Belichick would have done this under the old overtime rules. Before 2012, any score in overtime would end the game. Starting last year, each team would possess the ball at least once in overtime, unless there was a touchdown or safety on the first possession. Upon the second possession, the game would be in sudden death. The specter of Manning driving, say, 40 yards to the winning field goal was far, far different than the specter of Manning driving 75 yards to the winning touchdown.

I just want to throw it out there that "Specter of Manning" would be a good name for a band and "It was a Significant Wind" would be a great name for this band's first power ballad...because of course Specter of Manning would be an 80's band that rocked hard but also weren't afraid to show their gentle side.

“Just a normal punt play,” Ebner said.

But not so normal.

The drama builds...

Back for Denver was Wes Welker, a sure-handed returner. Sure-handed, yes. But not the normal guy back there. The Broncos yanked Trindon Holliday, the normal (and dangerous) return man, because he’d fumbled earlier, and Welker, who’d returned but four punts all season, awaited.

You like how Peter is providing built-in excuses for Welker not handling this punt return well and telling his teammates to get out of the way early enough? Peter is all like, "Well yeah, but Welker doesn't normally handle punts and he hasn't handled but four punts all season, so there's no reason to expect him to be competent enough to handle a punt return for the Broncos."

It's not like Welker hasn't practiced returning punts or hasn't returned 245 punts in his NFL career. Yeah, there's no reason to expect him to not screw up. I guess Welker needed 300 punt returns in his career for Peter to feel good about him returning a punt in this situation.

“I’ve got to get to him earlier, and get those guys out of the way if I’m not going to make the catch,” said Welker.

Yes, you do.

Carter said, “I was hoping it was something else, not the ball.”

Maybe it was something else falling from the sky hitting Tony Carter in the leg. That would be much better and safer if it was space debris or just something else falling out of the sky and not a football. Realistically, what else was Tony Carter hoping had hit his leg? I really need to know the answer.

“At halftime,” said Ebner, “we knew it was a 60-minute game.

Actually, at halftime it was a 30 minute game at that point. Well, it was really a 42 minute game, but that's beside the point since no one had an idea at halftime overtime would occur.

My two takeaways from this game:
1. I will take Tom Brady in a weather game over Peyton Manning. Without question. Brady’s arm is better.

Does Peter mean a "bad" weather game? Because every game has weather.

2. We’ve spent a lot of time ripping New England’s player-acquisition process in the last few years.

(Bengoodfella looks around him confused) What's this "we" shit? I haven't ripped the player-acquisition process of the Patriots. Don't "we" your audience when it turns out you personally were wrong about something.

New England beat a very good team Sunday night, and it wasn’t just Brady that did it. It took a village.

Just like every Patriots win over another NFL team. It takes more than one player to win the game.

Of course the 2014 Denver-New England game, it happens, would be in Foxboro.
If he’s still around next season at 38, Manning would be playing his 13th career game in Foxboro, and it would be the 10th time in 12 seasons he has competed against Brady in the town halfway between Boston and Providence (not including 2008, when Brady was hurt, and 2011, when Manning was out).

I can't get enough of this quarterback matchup that isn't really a matchup between two quarterbacks but is really a matchup between two NFL teams. I hope the 2014 version of the Broncos-Patriots game gets hyped up even more. I feel like there wasn't quite enough hype around this year's game.

I'm sure Gregg Easterbrook thinks the "Peyton Paradox" is back now that the Broncos have lost a big game.

Indianapolis is a shell of the team it was in September.

The Colts have had to continuously come back in the second half over the past couple of weeks to win games. It simply wasn't sustainable.

I didn’t watch much of their game (my NBC duties precluded it), but I keep seeing Andrew Luck trying to force things.

"I know nothing about what really happened in this game, but let me guess as to what happened based on reading the statistics for the game and watching some highlights."

He’s doing so with so many of his important players gone for the season—guard Donald Thomas (the best offensive lineman on the team), wideout Reggie Wayne, tight end Dwayne Allen—that you wonder if Indianapolis will be able to hold off the flawed Titans and rebound for the playoffs.

Other young quarterbacks struggle to win games without his best players around him and that quarterback just isn't a winner and has been exposed by the NFL (umm...Colin Kaepernick), but when Andrew Luck starts to struggle it's because he just doesn't have enough healthy weapons around him to be a winner. I think I got it. The narrative changes depending on the quarterback.

Then, on Sunday, Indy’s best cornerback, Vontae Davis, went down with a groin injury, and he may miss some time. We gotta figure a way to get off the field. Well, that’s pretty tough to do when your best secondary player, the man whose job it is to get you off the field, is standing on the sidelines.

It's sad to hear the Colts are the only team in the NFL to have lost one of their best defensive players. It would be nice if Peter would make excuses for other NFL teams who suffer injuries to key players. Since Ryan Grigson is such a genius GM I'm surprised he doesn't have depth at the cornerback position to withstand an injury. Maybe he could trade this year's first round pic---well, nevermind, that pick has already been spent.

I'm not trying to be snide or critical of the Colts, but Peter hasn't ever mentioned how the Colts are a shell of a team at all this year prior to this MMQB. He's talked about how the Colts keep coming back and how Andrew Luck plays well in the second half of games, but then the Colts lose a game, and all of a sudden they are a shell of the team they were and may not hold off the flawed Titans (if the Colts do lose a playoff spot to the Titans, wouldn't this mean the Colts were flawed too?) for a playoff spot. He bases everything he says about the Colts on the fact they lost this week. When the Colts are winning, they aren't a bad team, but now they lose a game and all of a sudden this is a team who is a shell of the team they were in September. Peter did this last week with the Chiefs. It's fine to believe the Chiefs and Colts are flawed, but don't base this opinion solely on the fact they just lost football games. Try to have some foresight. The fact the Colts kept having to come back in games is a sign their success may not have been sustainable. I'm sure if the Colts win this upcoming weekend then Peter will jump right back on the bandwagon.

Sunday was the seventh straight game the Colts have trailed in the first half. Two of the last three have been downright embarrassing.

Six straight games the Colts have trailed in the first half, but because the Colts were able to come back in a few of these games Peter only noted how the Colts were down early as evidence of how clutch Andrew Luck and the Colts are when coming from behind.

With road games at Cincinnati and Kansas City remaining in the last five weeks, it’s fair to say if they can’t beat the Titans at home, their once rock-solid playoff hopes are in jeopardy.

These "rock-solid" playoff hopes were probably rock-solid back in Week 3 of this season when Peter was deciding which teams were and were not going to make the playoffs. Not that Week 3 is too early to make any postseason pronouncements of course.

My quick hit on a fun weekend of football: There’s no unbeatable team.

Every NFL team can be beaten. These are the types of insights a person reads MMQB for.

Now that Seattle has lost two of its top three corners for the next month—Brandon Browner to injury, Walter Thurmond (according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network) to a four-game substance-abuse suspension—even the 10-1 Seahawks might be vulnerable to a productive passing team.

They should have lost to Tampa Bay and Carolina already, so it's obvious that Seattle isn't unbeatable. Plus, Peter King noted last week the Seahawks aren't the same team when playing on the road.

“The parity is unbelievable,” San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers told me after the Chargers—who’d lost three in a row before Sunday—put up 41 on the formerly impenetrable Chiefs. At Arrowhead.

This is the same Chiefs team that had a great pass rush until they lost a game, at which point Peter King noticed the Chiefs didn't really have a great pass rush over their last three games.

The Chargers are 5-6. There are six of those 5-6 teams in the AFC, and the one that wins the tiebreaker currently, Tennessee, is the sixth playoff seed at the moment. Tennessee, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, San Diego, the Jets, Miami … With the exception of the Jets, who are playing poorly, you can’t count one of those teams out.

It's probably stupid to count the Jets out too. You never know.

That’s this year’s NFL. I ask again: Can you tell me with conviction right now that San Francisco is better than Arizona? That’s an unthinkable question a month ago. It’s a legitimate one today.

Well, it wasn't unthinkable. I'm not expert and I predicted the Cardinals would be 8-8 this year and the 49ers would be 11-5, while also stating that probably under-predicts (I just made that word up) the Cardinals season record. The 49ers started a quarterback who had limited experience starting in the NFL and teams would have all offseason to scout him, while the Cardinals had no quarterback last year and were bound to improve with a somewhat competent quarterback slinging the ball around for them.

Fine Fifteen

1. Seattle (10-1). Tough call for No. 1. Seattle, New England, Carolina, Denver and New Orleans in contention.

In theory, every NFL team is in contention for the #1 spot since they are all eligible to be placed in this spot.

Seattle will need Byron Maxwell, a third-year dime back from Clemson, to step up in the next four weeks. No problem! ’Hawks just have Drew Brees, Colin Kaepernick, Eli Manning and Carson Palmer on the horizon.

Well, two of those quarterbacks haven't struck a lot of fear in defenses this year. 

4. New Orleans (9-2). No team has it tougher over 21 December days starting next Monday: at 10-1 Seattle, 7-3 Carolina at home, at 5-6 St. Louis, at 7-3 Carolina.

The Saints only have it tough because the NFL has it out for them. I'm sure the Saints can work up a complex over the next four weeks where no one likes them and is treating them unfairly, which is why they play teams over the next four weeks who are 29-13. No one believes in the Saints and they are being unfairly persecuted!

6. San Francisco (6-4). Talk about a lucky break. When Seattle travels to Candlestick for a game the Niners have to have in two weeks, the Seahawks will be without their second and third corners, and, presumably, San Francisco will have Michael Crabtree back.

Yes, it is very fortunate that the 49ers are getting their best receiver who has missed the entirety of this season back at some point during the season. Those lucky 49ers. How fortunate are they that they didn't have their best receiver all season?

9. Indianapolis (7-4). Talked to an influential Colts guy a few days ago.

He talked to Andrew Luck or Chuck Pagano. I feel like this is obvious. 

That’s the tight end who was one of the best rookies in football last year, drafted to pair with Coby Fleener in two-tight-end sets and star individually. Bruising blocker and sure-handed receiver. That, plus the loss of Reggie Wayne, is killing this offense.

Very likely, and yet I feel like these same excuses aren't being used to explain Colin Kaepernick's struggles. Not that Andrew Luck is really struggling all that much right now.

Offensive Players of the Week
Tom Brady, quarterback, New England. The wind became a prominent part of last night’s game when the Patriots chose to defend in overtime, but Brady looked as if he was playing in a light breeze in the Patriots’ incredible second-half and overtime comeback. Brady managed a respectable 6.9 yards per passing attempt despite the elements (4.2 for Manning), and had 274 of his 344 yards after the half.

Not a snarky comment, but Manning's reduced arm strength really showed last night with some of his passes into the wind. A few of his throws weren't accurate up to his standards and seemed to wobble a bit more than usual.

Goat of the Week
Matthew Stafford, quarterback, Detroit. Four interceptions against the Bucs, the third with the Lions driving for a potential 11-point lead. Detroit lost to the previously 2-8 Bucs. A bad day for the young gunslinger.

But I thought that comeback against the Cowboys that ended with a fake spike and dive into the end zone led to a whole new Matthew Stafford? I'm shocked Matthew Stafford is still the same old quarterback even after having that career-defining play.

“Do you think I sit around all day looking at magazines, or what? I don’t even know what you’re talking about. I haven’t seen a newspaper today. I don’t know what’s happening in the world.”

—Alabama coach Nick Saban, asked Thursday what he thought of the new Sports Illustrated cover, with his own quarterback, A.J. McCarron, on it.

I'm not sure that's healthy.

“I personally feel like the flag went down for a reason, and it looked like a foul to me.”

—Rams coach Jeff Fisher, with the last word on the ill-fated picked-up flag on the last play of the Panthers-Patriots game last Monday night.

I think it looked like a flag to me too and should not have been picked up. Of course I don't care what Jeff "8-8" Fisher thinks. He's just mad the NFC team won and that means the Rams are that much closer to not making the playoffs where he could better justify the high salary the Rams are paying him. I know Fisher is on the Competition Committee and I also know he's overrated as a coach, but his media cronies like Peter King protect him from any real criticism and won't do any real criticism themselves. That's my basic issue with Jeff Fisher and now I'm way off the topic at hand.

In Kaepernick’s 10 starts last year, Michael Crabtree, Mario Manningham and Randy Moss totaled 94 catches, 1,313 yards and seven touchdowns.
In Kaepernick’s 10 starts this year, Crabtree hasn’t played, Manningham has played two games, and Moss is off the team. Their Niner totals this year: four catches, 38 yards.

In other words, it’s Anquan Boldin—new to Kaepernick this year—

Now Peter, let's not make excuses. You told us during 49ers training camp and after Boldin's monster Week 1 performance that he and Kaepernick were quickly on the same page. Don't throw this "new to Kaepernick" excuse out there now. You've already stated that he and Kaepernick got on the same page quickly and it's obvious they did after Boldin's performance in Week 1.

Then Peter talks about JFK's assassination in terms that Hugh Millen was born three hours before JFK was assassinated. The best JFK ever did for his popularity was get killed. He didn't have time to disappoint anyone and he's a legend in the minds of many. It's the principle behind the best thing Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and Kurt Cobain did was die before the world got enough of them. I can see a bloated Janis Joplin doing an entire album of depressing duets with Stevie Nicks and Hendrix having a comeback album featuring the new hit single sung by Adam Levine.

John F. Kennedy was a huge football fan, and he spent the last Sunday of his life, in part, watching the game of the week in the National Football League: the 8-1 Packers (winners of two straight NFL titles) and the 8-1 Bears, live from Wrigley Field on Nov. 17, 1963.

Make this Kennedy stuff stop. It feels like it is going on two weeks of nothing but a discussion of JFK. He's dead and it is a sad thing. Peter seemingly has a new obsession. I wonder how Brett Favre feels about this.

So now you know the answer to the JFK Trivia Contest: What was the last game this football-mad president ever watched?

(Bangs head on the desk)

“I MUST call Bull—- on da slide! #scaredycat!!’’

—@SamuelLJackson, Falcons fan and movie star, after watching quarterback Matt Ryan slide at the Saints’ 5-yard-line on 3rd-and-goal instead of trying to score a touchdown. Atlanta settled for a field goal. Jackson did not settle for the field goal, however.

Matty Icccccccccccccccccccce doesn't care to get hit hard even when he doesn't have a big contract to play for.

Ten Things I Think I Think

1. I think this is what I liked about Week 12:

b. Kyle Long interrupting his mother, Diane, with a kiss on the cheek while she prepared for a FOX interview before the Rams-Bears game.

How precocious of Kyle Long.

c. Cam Jordan, the precocious Saints defensive end, returning from a mini-slump to sack Matt Ryan twice, share in a third sack and knock him down another time.

Peter loves to use the word "precocious" to describe a grown man. I don't understand why he does this, but he does, and it is never not annoying to me. Precocious means a person exhibits unusually mature qualities at such an early age. Cam Jordan is 24 years old and has 9.5 sacks. He isn't precocious. Peter needs to stop using this word in an effort to project child-like qualities on adults. Peter is obsessed with making grown men seem like they are children.

i. Excuse me for praising Miami GM Jeff Ireland—that is quite out of fashion these days—

Because there are quite a few things that don't deserve praise. Don't act like Ireland is being criticized needlessly.

but the value of getting pass rusher Olivier Vernon with the 72nd pick of the 2012 draft is pretty good. Vernon is a big help to Cameron Wake, giving offensive coordinators another pass-rushing headache when they play Miami.

Great job. Jeff Ireland did his job well and for that he deserves praise. You aren't a rebel for acknowledging Ireland made a draft pick that seems to be playing well.

o. Zac Stacy, proving the Rams were lucky Steven Jackson walked. Hope he’s okay after leaving with a head injury.

Zac Stacy was drafted by the Rams and the Rams are really good at drafting! You should read this article Peter wrote in May about how good the Rams are at drafting. They are on the right track to becoming a really successful team under Jeff Fisher. It's a rebuilding process though, so give Fisher another year or two after this year once he decides Sam Bradford isn't his quarterback of the future, at which point Fisher will be buying himself more time by pointing out Rams fans shouldn't expect immediate success with a new quarterback at the helm.

p. The more I see Mike Glennon, the more I like him.

His precociousness is off the charts.

t. Just as Joe Buck says Tony Romo has to step up in the fourth quarter, less than four minutes left in a 21-all tie at the Meadowlands, Romo lofts a perfect back-shoulder 18-yard third-down conversion on Antrel Rolle to keep the Dallas drive going.

But this ruins the narrative that Tony Romo is a choker when it counts.

2. I think this is what I didn’t like about Week 12:

a. Ref Ron Winter in the Saints-Falcons game missing both a facemask and blow to the head call on Akiem Hicks against Matt Ryan.

(Saints fans everywhere) "See, this is just further proof the NFL is against our team! The officials intentionally miss a call that goes again---oh wait, this call went in favor of the Saints? Well, why does Peter King have to report on things that occur during a football game with such a slant against the Saints? He did this when reporting on the bounty scandal too. He reported facts, rather than just not say anything bad about the Saints. It's us against the world!"

g. You’re not supposed to boot a field goal into the helmet of a lineman on your own team, Graham Gano.

The snap was low and I'm pretty sure he wasn't intentionally trying to hit the helmet of one of his linemen.

k. Luke Kuechly’s a lucky man. Two weeks in a row now.

Kuechly was lucky against the Patriots, but the announcers and Mike Pereira eventually agreed that Kuechly didn't lead with his helmet in the end zone when hitting a Dolphins player. I doubt Peter watched anything but the highlights as he prepared for Brady and Manning to face off once again, so I'm not sure what I should expect from him.

One other comment about defensive players leading with their head...Kuechly went up in the air to hit the Dolphins receiver and force him to drop the ball. I don't think he led with his head nor made contact with the receiver's head, but how is the defensive player expected to adjust in mid-air to a receiver jumping or making a move to catch the football? I get a defensive player isn't expected to launch himself at an offensive player, but there are times a defensive player could be leading with his shoulder and then the offensive player moves to where the defensive player contacts the head. I get the reason for the rule and I support it, but sometimes I think defensive players have a disadvantage because they are expected to adjust mid-air or in a split second to a move of the body the offensive player might make that could be the difference in a clean hit and a penalty.

l. Terrible pick thrown by Alex Smith.

Impossible. He's a winner and the perfect game manager.

6. I think Pete Carroll might need to redouble his efforts to warn players about substances they can’t put in their bodies, with Walter Thurmond blowing the chance of a lifetime by accepting a four-game suspension for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. He’s the third Seattle defensive back to get similarly whacked in 12 months, and this will put tremendous pressure now on Richard Sherman to be really good over the next four weeks.

I wonder if we will get a repeat of last year's "Boy the Seahawks are really screwed without Sherman and Browner" talk from Peter King. Last year we got this talk from Peter and it turned out the Seahawks weren't screwed at all.

7. I think Darnell Dockett is the winner of the NFL’s Most Underrated Interview award.

I think this isn't a real award and you just made it up as an excuse to mention that Darnell Dockett is a good interview, so you decided to mention this in the most bizarre way possible.

8. I think under the category of “Contracts They’d Love To Have Back,” I give you Cortland Finnegan, the 108th- and lowest-rated cornerback in the NFL after 11 weeks, according to The Rams paid him $50 million over five years in 2012, and place him on injured-reserve Saturday … after he’d allowed 76.5 percent of the passes to his men to be complete, and allowed opposing quarterbacks a 136.0 rating on passes thrown in his area.

It's absolutely impossible the Rams would want this contract back because this is assuming the Rams have made a mistake and with the effortlessly reliable leadership of Kevin Demoff and steady hand of Jeff Fisher leading the Rams ship they won't make a mistake. So the Rams wanting a contract back would assume the team has made a mistake and the Rams don't ever make mistakes. Ever.

By the way, where was this excellent Rams rushing attack at when Sam Bradford was the team's quarterback? Poor guy gets hurt and the Rams start running the ball well.

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

b. I am an incredible know-nothing about the NBA, but there’s a chance I knew what I was talking about when I said the Nets were dumb for thinking you could win an NBA title with an Old Timers team.

I always dislike it when Peter writes that we need to discount his opinion on a topic and then the very next statement consists of Peter wanting us to take his opinion on that very same topic seriously.

d. The Yankees got better by signing Brian McCann. No doubt about it. Great ballpark for him. But …


But this thought should be a continuation of "d" since "e" addresses the same topic discussed in "d" and "e" is in fact just a continuation of the exact same thought began in "d"?

I know we’re not supposed to care about batting average anymore, but he has hit .242 over the past two years. RBI high over the last four years: 77. I would have liked the signing a lot more in 2009 than 2014.

Three things:

1. The signing occurred in 2013.

2. And also, McCann was very, very injured during the 2012 season to the point he couldn't swing a bat and was benched during the idiotic one game Wild Card playoff. McCann missed the first month of the 2013 season due to surgery on this injured shoulder. So that had an effect on his batting average.

3. Any idiot would have liked this signing more four years ago. McCann is a catcher and would have been 25 years old instead of 29 years old in 2009. This is a pretty obvious statement. Though if McCann signed a five year contract in 2009 then his last two seasons that Peter doesn't seem to care for would have come while he was earning $34 million and not $23.5 million for these two years. So I'm not sure Peter would have liked McCann's production at $17 million per year.

j. Coffeenerdness: There is not much better in life early on a Sunday morning than the smell of Italian roast coffee wafting through the home.

I feel like Peter forces his wife to make the coffee before he wakes up. It seems to me like he would berate her if he is out of the shower and there is no fresh coffee available.

"If I wanted to be treated like I lived at a Holiday Inn where they don't make coffee before 6am then I would have stayed at a Holiday Inn last night. Make my coffee and put on a smile about doing it!"

k. Beernerdness: Tried perhaps my last pumpkin brew for the year (they start to disappear in favor of winter ales now), the River Horse Hipp-o-Lantern Pumpkin Ale from Ewing, N.J., the other night. Not enough pumpkin nose or taste for me. A little too alcohol-laden at 8.7 percent.

There's no such thing as an alcoholic drink that is too alcohol-laden. I haven't had the Hipp-o-Lantern Pumpkin Ale in a couple of years, but I will be taking a tour of this brewery in Ewing, N.J. on Saturday, so I will see if Peter is just being a wimp about the alcohol content or just being a beer snob. Nearly every River Horse beer I have ever had has been great, even the milk stout beer wasn't bad, and I tend to stay away from milk stout beer.

l. Best TV show I saw (and I didn’t see many) on the JFK anniversary: Tom Brokaw’s two-hour special Friday night with so many of the vital characters in the story. The shoe-store manager who followed Oswald into the theater where he was captured, one of the two cops who nabbed Oswald, the guy who drove Oswald to work (with his gun disguised as curtain rods) on the fateful day, the doctor who tended to Kennedy when he was wheeled into the operating room at Parkland Hospital. Great work.

What about the guy on the street who saw Oswald at a restaurant the night before? What did he have to say? What about the girl whose mom met JFK 24 hours to the minute he was killed in Dallas? Can we interview her?

San Francisco 23, Washington 20. This will be a better game than people think, and not just because the Niners have to travel. 

It gets very wearisome to have to hear a sportswriter tell me what everyone else is thinking simply so he/she can disprove this imaginary group-thinking as not being true.

The Adieu Haiku
Dan Dierdorf rode his
bike to the Hall as a kid.
Forever Canton.

Very precocious of Dierdorf to ride his bike to the Hall of Fame as a child. 

Monday, November 25, 2013

4 comments If Only Jack Morris Was Told He Should Give Up Fewer Runs He Could Have Lowered His ERA

It's time to do the annual dance that is done regarding the baseball Hall of Fame. Some Hall of Fame voters say why they are voting for Jack Morris and I say why these people's reasoning for voting for Jack Morris is stupid. Fortunately, this is the last year this dance will be done, as Morris is in his 15th year on the ballot and will be kicked off the ballot if he isn't voted into the Hall of Fame this year. The argument usually goes the same way. Guys like Murray Chass say, "He's a winner who wins in winning fashion. He won big games in the playoffs, but please ignore the playoff games where he didn't pitch well at all. Pay no attention to those." People who don't think Morris should be inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame say, "Wins are stupid, his ERA is too high, you can't induct a guy based on how well he pitched in one World Series game." This year, Murray Chass focuses on the "anti-Morris mob" that is trying to intimidate him into not voting for Morris to enter the Hall of Fame. Of course, Murray won't change his mind about voting for Morris. At this point, I think he's not changing his mind because he simply doesn't want to change his mind. It's more about stubbornness now than whether Morris truly deserves Hall of Fame induction to him. Numbers don't win baseball games, Jack Morris wins baseball games.

Murray describes it very well for us on his non-blog. 

Having just gone through an election cycle, I received dozens of telephone calls urging me to vote for candidates for governor, state senate, state assembly, county freeholder, borough council, sheriff. No one called asking me not to vote for someone.

Receiving a phone call saying, "Please vote for Person X" is essentially a phone call asking you not to vote for Person Y...assuming you can only vote for one person of course.

However, the day before Election Day, someone sent me an e-mail asking me, almost pleading with me, not to vote for someone – Jack Morris.

“Please reconsider & do NOT elect Jack Morris, the anti-Blyleven, to the Hall! Just one more year.”

I always like how the anti-stats crowd publishes the emails of the crazy ones who write in and have something to say about Jack Morris. I don't think Jack Morris should be elected into the Hall of Fame, but I'm not going to write in to Murray Chass and plead for him to not vote for Morris. (A) That's not going to work at all and (B) It makes you look like you care too much, which is going to allow Murray Chass to make you look like an extreme person, which is going to allow him to paint Sabermetricians as extreme people. It's a slippery slope.

The writer referred to Morris’ being in his 15th and last year of eligibility on the writers’ ballot. If he doesn’t make it this year, he will be eligible in the expansion era voting after a five-year wait, meaning he will be eligible again in 2020.

Maybe in the year 2020 the voters for the Hall of Fame will be open-minded about measuring tangibles and intangibles like clutchiness, wins, and "this one time in Game 7 of the World Series this pitcher pitched a really good game."

I assume he wrote to me because I have been one of Morris’ biggest proponents since I retired from The New York Times in 2008 and resumed voting for the Hall of Fame.

And of course this is Murray's last year voting for the Hall of Fame of course, right? Once Murray has seen his pet project all the way through he is done voting for the Hall of Fame. I guess we'll see if that truly happens or not. I have a feeling Murray is going to want to be sanctimonious about the Steroid Era so this won't be his final year voting.

The e-mailer did not intimidate me.

How brave of you to not allow this random person emailing you to intimidate you. Clearly that was the intent as seen by the sentence beginning with the word "Please." By using such strong, aggressive language this emailer was definitely trying to intimidate you.

I guess Murray thinks any attempt to get him to change his opinion on a subject is an attempt to intimidate him. This is what happens when sportswriters go the majority of their career without getting immediate feedback based on what they are writing, as occurs in the present when a sportswriter posts a column. What happens is the sportswriter thinks it is unbelievable anyone would disagree with his point of view and because that person disagrees then he must be doing so in an aggressive manner.

“Jack Morris,” I replied, “will be on my ballot in capital letters.”

Very brave. Score one for standing up to bullying.

“Did you ever see him pitch, or do you base your view on numbers?” I asked. “A number did not pitch a shutout in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series. Morris did.”

This is very nearly literally the only evidence the pro-Morris crowd has for why Jack Morris should be in the Hall of Fame. It all starts and ends with Game 7 of the 1991 World Series. Sometimes the cherry-picked data showing "Morris was the best pitcher in the 1980's" gets thrown in there, but mostly the pro-Morris crowd bases his induction on three things.

1. Game 7 of the 1991 World Series. This is the most important factor in his candidacy. Nevermind that Morris pitched in seven postseason games and was bad in three of them, average in one of them, and great in three of them. Let's just focus on the one game he pitched well. How Morris pitched in the 1992 World Series is irrelevant. Pay no attention to that.

2. Jack Morris has the most wins from 1980-1989. He's a winner. Of course as Murray Chass says, a win didn't pitch a shutout in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series. Morris did, so wins are stupid to use as a reason behind the Hall of Fame candidacy of Morris.

3. Because they voted for him last year and they are tired of the anti-Morris crowd, so they want to elect Morris into the Hall of Fame in order to show that statistics are stupid and "the eye test" still means something. It's really a fight for their own relevance more than a fight for Morris to get in the Hall of Fame.

The e-mailer said he had seen him pitch, and he saw that game. “So?” he added. “Don Larsen’s not in the HOF.”

Is that the best the anti-Morris forces can do? Don Larsen pitched a perfect game in the 1956 World Series, and he’s not in the Hall of Fame?

The best the pro-Morris forces can do is say Jack Morris pitched a complete game in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series. The irony of Murray complaining the anti-Morris crowd is based on just one World Series game is fantastic. I dare someone to make a good case for Jack Morris to be in the Hall of Fame without mentioning Game 7 of the 1991 World Series. It won't happen because I don't think it can be done.

An excellent case for Tom Glavine can be made without mentioning Game 6 of the 1995 World Series. I can make an excellent case that Cal Ripken should be in the Hall of Fame without mentioning his consecutive games played streak. An excellent case can be made for Derek Jeter to make the Hall of Fame without mentioning his outstanding postseason fielding plays. That's what a Hall of Famer is. You can take away one small part of his candidacy and his candidacy still holds up well. You can't take away Game 7 of the 1991 World Series from Jack Morris because his entire candidacy seemingly relies on that game. That game is the springboard to show how he pitched complete games, was super-clutch, and a winner. Take away that one postseason game, he becomes a really good pitcher from an era when pitchers used to throw more complete games.

My e-mailer seems to have a twin (unless it’s the same misguided person). I was directed to an anti-Morris web site on which the blogger uses the same flawed Larsen analogy but also adds another silly example:

“Bill Wambsganss converted an unassisted triple play. Neither one is in the HOF or ever will be.”

I do agree that writing "Don Larson isn't in the Hall of Fame and he pitched a perfect game" is a silly example, but leading off Morris's candidacy with Game 7 of the 1991 World Series invites these type of comparisons. Of course Murray doesn't know this. He doesn't have the writing skills to write a persuasive non-blog post because he wrote about sports in a time when sportswriters could write whatever they wanted with no immediate feedback from readers who may disagree with him.

When we Morris believers vote for him, we are considering an entire career, in which his brilliant World Series performance was only a highlight.

What are the other highlights? He was really a good pitcher for a while and put up great numbers. He was good in a couple World Series starts, but I fail to see other grand highlights in the hundreds of other games that Morris started.

The statistic the anti-Morris gang seems to holds against him most fervently is his 3.90 earned run average. If he were to be elected, they say accusingly, his e.r.a. would be the highest of any pitcher in the Hall. But someone has to have the highest e.r.a. Right now it’s Red Ruffing and his 3.80.

I hold the fact he wasn't one of the best pitchers of his era against him. He was very good for a long time, but never great for more than a few years, and he wasn't one of the best pitchers of his era.

That web site I mentioned goes well beyond e.r.a., though, bringing up WAR and WAA and WHIP and all sorts of other meaningless initials.

Murray says these are meaningless statistics and immediately dismisses them because he doesn't understand them, but of course that isn't a knock against him, but a knock against the use of statistics and other things that Murray is incapable of understanding. It's about Murray's legacy and if these new-age statistics are going to be used, it makes Murray feel less relevant and hurts his ego. Covering baseball is as much about massaging Murray's ego and letting everyone know how smart he is in regard to the sport. If there are facets of baseball that Murray doesn't understand then that makes him less relevant and only shows that Murray isn't as smart in regard to the sport he covers as he believes himself to be. So new things are bad because it hurts Murray's feelings when he doesn't understand these new things.

And also, if there is an individual statistic than is the most meaningless then it is the win. A pitcher gets a win based on the performance of his team, so in my mind it is pretty meaningless to be used in determining how well a pitcher pitched when taken all alone. WAR, WAA, and WHIP are "meaningless initials" that attempt to isolate a pitcher's performance outside of the performance of his team. I don't consider that meaningless, but to each his own I guess.

Then Murray prints an email from a SABR member who wants to point out there is a historical SABR group and a statistics SABR group. This SABR member who wrote in to Murray said,

"I have no use for the fantasy world statistics like WAR. I am mystified anyone takes them seriously."


“I was able to totally avoid any discussion of the new forms of creative statistics, for the three days I was there.

“Perhaps you could specify the SABR Stat Heads or something similar so as not to malign those interested in baseball history.”

I have no use for a lot of things, but the mere fact they exist doesn't make them part of a fantasy world or any less relevant compared to those things which I do have a use for. As I have said before, I would be interested as to how these anti-stats people did in advanced math classes in high school and college. Statistics is a course with a lot of "creative statistics" that may seem like a fantasy but are really a combination of different formulas in order to create an answer using a larger formula. This isn't fantasy world stuff, but a higher level of measuring the performance of baseball players. If you don't like it, that's fine, but don't disparage it because you don't understand what these statistics mean. 

Whether or not they are members of SABR, the anti-Morris mob needs help. Expending as much mental passion and physical effort as they have in trying to block Morris’ road to the Hall of Fame indicates the need for them to get a life.

One person wrote Murray an email asking him not to vote for Jack Morris to enter the Hall of Fame and now there is an entire anti-Morris mob. When you need to discredit an opposing view, make them opposing view seem less rational and much larger than it actually is. Any good propagandist knows this works well.

It’s one thing to use new-age statistics to persuade ignorant voters to vote for a candidate, as happened with Bert Blyleven three years ago;

These poor ignorant voters were persuaded to vote for an unworthy candidate by the evil new-age statistics mob.

I don’t recall a candidate’s being the target of non-voters trying to induce voters not to put an X next to the candidate’s name.

Personally, I can’t wait to get my ballot so I can mark it for Morris.

That's Murray's prerogative in his last year of voting for the baseball Hall of Fame. Because it is Murray's last year voting, right?

However, last year Morris gained only three votes to 67.7 percent, and I don’t think that was enough for him to attain the required 75 percent this time around, especially with Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine on the ballot for the first time.

Don't you just hate it when real Hall of Fame candidates appear on the ballot and take away votes from borderline candidates like Jack Morris who haven't been voted into the Hall of Fame after 14 tries? It's so unfair when qualified Hall of Fame candidates appear on the ballot.

Having a negative campaign waged against him may not hurt him, but the loss of just a few votes that he otherwise might have had could. Morris, 58 years old, had not heard of the existence of an anti-Morris web site.

I get the feeling there are a lot of things about baseball that Jack Morris hasn't heard of. I feel like he stopped learning new things and paying attention sometime around the time Murray Chass did, which was probably 1977.

“How about that?” Morris said in a telephone interview last week. “The sabermetricians have to justify their cause. I’m their leading candidate.”

I'm not even sure what this means, but it could very easily be seen that Murray Chass has to justify his cause and Jack Morris is the leading candidate. As much as players like Jack Morris and Murray Chass view the statistics movement as an underground surge led by people who hate the game of baseball and need to justify their cause, it's not true. The advanced statistics cause has been justified and Jack Morris is showing how out-of-touch he is. There isn't a reason to justify the cause anymore because more and more teams are accepting the use of stats-driven analytics to judge the performance of players. What's interesting is Jack Morris admits this is true, yet still seems to think advanced statistics are irrelevant.

“They’ve already taken over the game,” he said. “Ninety percent of the general managers are in it.

So there's nothing to justify because the cause is a part of baseball.

That’s why the game is messed up.”

Oh, so THAT'S why the game is messed up. I wasn't even aware the game was messed up, much less did I know the reason the game of baseball was messed up.

“They say that numbers are a good way to evaluate,” he said, “but they can’t predict. SABR can only tell what players have done. They can’t predict what a player might do.”

Jack Morris is an idiot. Can Jack Morris predict what players will do? Does the use of the win, RBI, home runs, or complete game statistic tell us what a player will do? Absolutely not. So to indicate advanced statistics are pointless because they can't predict the future is a dumb argument. Yes, there are advanced statistics projections that try to predict what a player/team might do, but advanced statistics are mostly used to evaluate how a player performed, which not-at-all ironically is the exact same damn thing the older statistics that Murray Chass and Jack Morris cling to so tightly are built to do. Advanced statistics are just a different way of evaluating a player. That is all.

To attempt to discount the use of advanced statistics by saying, "Well yeah, but they can't predict the future" is a dumb counter-argument and shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the use of advanced statistics.

“They’ve never played,” he added, “but they can go to the owners and produce charts and graphs, and the owners don’t know any better.”

Yes, advanced statistics have many charts and graphs they produce to take advantage of the ignorant multi-millionaires who run MLB teams. If only there was a chart that could show hustle, grit, and percentage of mustachiness as compared to ability for a player to pitch to the score of the game then I'm sure these naive multi-millionaires would see that advanced statistics are useless. What's funny is that Jack Morris criticizes stats-driven GM's for not knowing how to evaluate a baseball player because they have never played the game, yet he's never been a general manager and claims to understand how to run a baseball team. Jack Morris hasn't ever been a GM, but he believes himself qualified to tell other GM's how to run their team the right way.

Morris rejects the e.r.a./WHIP criticism by explaining what was important to the people he played for.

“Innings pitched, complete games and games started,” he said. “They wanted me to suck up innings. If you look at that in any era, the guys on top would lead the league in e.r.a.

And that's great that Morris sucked up innings. Unfortunately sucking up innings and having a lot of complete games doesn't mean he should be in the Hall of Fame.

I never had any incentive for quality starts or WHIP or WAR. All these formulas didn’t exist.

Wait, what? Jack Morris didn't have incentive to pitch well because there weren't statistics that measured how well he pitched? So Morris didn't pitch as well as he could have pitched during his career because he needs incentive in the existence of the stats that he rejects as invalid? So these statistics are invalid and the reason MLB is messed up, but Jack Morris certainly would have paid attention to these statistics in order to provide incentive to pitch better during his playing career. So basically these stats are worthless unless they existed during Morris's pitching career, in which case they would have provided him more incentive to pitch well? Got it.

Morris makes a valid point. The stats geeks judge him on statistics that didn’t exist when he pitched. In another example, the new-age guys discount Morris’ 254 wins, saying wins are the least meaningful statistic for pitchers.

Right, but these statistics don't need to exist to evaluate Morris as a pitcher. I can't fathom the logic behind discounting these new-age statistics as being faulty and then Morris acting like he would have changed the way he pitched in order to have looked better in the eyes of these faulty new-age statistics.

Also, wins are a team measurement, not just the measurement of how well an individual pitcher has pitched.

Yes, fellow dinosaurs, that’s what they say these days, even though when Morris pitched, wins were still meaningful

Wins are meaningful still, but they shouldn't be the main criteria on which a pitcher is judged for the Hall of Fame.

Speaking of his time and the matter of wins, Morris said, “You gotta ask, what is important to get to the World Series?” The answer was wins.

For a TEAM, the most important statistic is wins and how many games that team wins in the playoffs. So yes, wins are the most important thing to a team, therefore wins are a team statistic. Thanks for proving my point for me. That was very kind.

Taking what Morris’ employers told him they wanted, games started and innings pitched, how does Morris compare with the 69 pitchers in the Hall of Fame? His 527 starts and 3,824 innings are both above the average.

How many starts a pitcher has and how many innings he pitched doesn't make that pitcher a Hall of Fame candidate. Jamie Moyer has 638 starts and 4074 innings pitched. Tim Wakefield has 463 starts and 3226 innings pitched. This doesn't mean they are Hall of Fame candidates. Innings pitched and starts made by a pitcher aren't Hall of Fame criteria without that pitcher having superior statistics in those starts and innings pitched. I'm not sure Jack Morris has those superior statistics.

And what might Morris have done if the general manager or his manager have said they wanted him to have a lower earned run average?

“I probably would have led the league,” he said.

I'm confused by this. So Jack Morris could have pitched better than he did if his manager had told him to do so? This blows my mind. So when Jack Morris went out on the mound he didn't give up as few runs as possible and could have given up fewer runs in order to lower his ERA? I'm not sure whether I should be more outraged by this claim, the fact Jack Morris is essentially admitting he didn't give up as few runs as possible when pitching or that Jack Morris believes he could have been a better pitcher if he had tried harder.

What this comment does tell me is that Jack Morris is a Hall of Fame pitcher in his mind. That's something we can agree on. In his mind, and in his mind only, Jack Morris deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.