Wednesday, February 27, 2013

11 comments Oh By the Way, Every MLB Team Made a Huge Mistake This Offseason

Thank God for Bleacher Report. If it weren't for the diligent reporting of Bleacher Report we wouldn't know that every MLB team made a mistake in this offseason. It's amazing to me that Bleacher Report is working with CNN now. It seems like this is like the National Enquirer doing exclusive reporting for NBC. As I have said before, there are good writers at Bleacher Report, but there are also a lot of overly-long lists and a lot of useless and pointless columns written. Today, Bleacher Report shows us the biggest mistake every MLB team made this offseason. The fans of some teams may think they didn't make a mistake this offseason. Wrong. There were mistakes made and Bleacher Report is here to point them out.

While many seem guilty of irresponsibly spending on free agents, others deserve reprimand for not pulling the trigger. In several instances, general managers missed out on great opportunities by second-guessing themselves.

Every MLB team should have traded for Felix Hernandez! Why didn't every MLB team try to do this? Stop second-guessing yourselves general managers and just do it.

The 2013 regular season will expose the following errors.

General managers, consider yourself exposed! You are in Bleacher Report's slideshow crosshairs now! There's no getting out.

Let's start the slideshow!

Arizona Diamondbacks: Trading Justin Upton for Weak Package

The Arizona Diamondbacks cannot be reprimanded for trading Justin Upton. They identified him as a poor fit for their clubhouse and organization and had a surplus of outfielders to fill the void.

(Diamondbacks Executive #1) "We have a lot of outfielders, don't we?"

(Diamondbacks Executive #2) "Yes, we do. Perhaps we should trade the most talented and promising outfielder we have."

(Diamondbacks Executive #1) "Consider it done."

Martin Prado is an impending free agent who reportedly seeks at least $12 million annually on a contract extension.

They already signed him to a 4 year $40 million deal. Next issue.

Randall Delgado has MLB experience, though there's skepticism as to whether or not he can lead a rotation without a breaking ball to miss more bats.

There's skepticism about a prospect? Well, the Diamondbacks should have insisted the Braves include a prospect that there were no questions or skepticism about. There was a grand total of zero of these prospects in the Braves system (mostly because what prospects don't have some skepticism about them? Very few), so that demand would have worked out well.

Atlanta Braves: Claiming Jordan Schafer off Waivers

This is the problem with Bleacher Report's overly-long lists. The Braves claimed Jordan Schafer off waivers and he probably isn't going to even make the team out of Spring Training. If that is a team's biggest offseason mistake then I dare say that team had zero offseason mistakes. But Bleacher Report requires really long lists for pageviews so every team has to be represented, regardless of whether it makes sense or not to include every team.

Boston Red Sox: Signing Stephen Drew

Homegrown shortstop Jose Iglesias has looked totally over-matched at the plate in limited MLB opportunities, and Xander Bogaerts isn't ready to debut.

Well clearly there is a need, so why did the Red Sox sign a shortstop? Couldn't they just leave that spot in the infield open or just move Dustin Pedroia to shortstop? Baseball players can just move wherever the fuck a team needs them to go without a decline in production, can't they?

The team has guaranteed him $9.5 million when similar stopgaps like Yuniesky Betancourt and Alex Gonzalez were available at dramatically lower prices.

Yes, but then the Red Sox would have been signing Yuniesky Betancourt or Alex Gonzalez. There's always the risk trying to sign Yuniesky Betancourt and Alex Gonzalez would eventually lead to the Red Sox signing Yuniesky Betancourt or Alex Gonzalez. That's too big of a risk to take. After all, these two shortstops are consistently the worst performers at their positions offensively. Stephen Drew was more expensive, but has a higher upside of he can stay healthy, and besides, it's only money Tyrone. The Red Sox like to spend it and if Drew stays healthy he could be worth that much money.

If the money had gone toward starting pitching, perhaps the Red Sox could have signed Anibal Sanchez instead of Ryan Dempster.

Dempster is old, but he still pitched fairly well last year. Plus, he is signed to a 2 year $27 million deal and Sanchez is signed to a more expensive 5 year $88 million deal. Signing Dempster over Sanchez gives the Red Sox more payroll flexibility in the future, and quite honestly, prevents them from signing a pitcher like Sanchez who was paid mostly based upon his potential.

Chicago Cubs: Signing Carlos Villanueva

The Chicago Cubs have splurged on the free-agent market, mainly to bolster their starting rotation. Scott Baker and Scott Feldman each received one-year contracts so that they may be flipped for prospects over the summer.

These pitchers haven't been signed to help the Cubs win games, but to get traded over the summer. The Cubs have no interest in these players pitching well and helping them wins. Not at all. They were signed purely to be trade bait.

Carlos Villanueva got $10 million to join the rotation mix.

It's a hefty price to pay a homer-prone right-hander with 56 career starts.

Villanueva got $10 million OVER TWO YEARS to join the Cubs rotation. Don't mislead your audience. Pitching isn't cheap and $5 million per year for a pitcher who is around the league average isn't a bad decision. 

Plus, his presence blocks Chicago's cheap internal candidates.

I'm sure Cubs fans would want to hear more about these cheap internal candidates. I see pitchers in the Cubs farm system, but the top one is coming off Tommy John surgery and the rest don't seem quite ready to be an average MLB starter. I wish the author would do a little less making lists and more explaining statements such as this one.

Chicago White Sox: Guaranteeing Three Years to Jeff Keppinger

Jeff Keppinger was a smart addition for the Chicago White Sox, as he provides similar overall value to Kevin Youkilis at one-third the salary.

He's a smart addition but also the biggest mistake the White Sox made this offseason. You figure it out.

It's risky nonetheless to make a three-year guarantee to someone who has never played 140 games in any season.

I like the arbitrary "140 games" rule the author is instituting here. Nevermind Keppinger's value lies in being able to play multiple positions and not embarrassing himself at the plate, who wants to give him a whole $4 million per year (on average) to do these things?

Cincinnati Reds: Moving Aroldis Chapman to Starting Rotation

A dominant starter is worth much more than a dominant closer, so you can't blame the Cincinnati Reds for trying Aroldis Chapman in a larger role.

This is the second straight "mistake" an MLB team has made which the author admits actually made sense. This is what happens when a list becomes overly-long, it starts to become factually inaccurate.

The Cuban Missile will need to refine a tertiary pitch to mix in with his fastball and slider. He also has a tendency to nibble during plate appearances ("wasting" pitches), which will limit him to a short outings in the rotation.

Nearly every single MLB starter "wastes" pitches. I can think of just a few starters who did not waste pitches at some point or another. So the idea Chapman will waste pitches will run up his pitch count is true, but this isn't an indication he will fail as a starter. Plus, Chapman was a starter in Cuba, so it isn't like he doesn't know how to do it.

Making this decision led the Reds to overpay for Jonathan Broxton.

Three years $21 million? For a quality closer/set up isn't a bad deal. Broxton's 2010 and 2011 seasons seem like aberrations to me. It seems this author struggles with the idea a team has to pay to attract quality free agent talent.

Colorado Rockies: Re-Signing Jeff Francis
  
Why does he deserve a major league deal?

The Colorado Rockies need to make wholesale changes to their pitching staff. This familiar face is not part of the solution.

They gave him $1.5 million on a one year deal. There's no risk after this year. If this is the Rockies worst move then they had a fantastic offseason.

Detroit Tigers: Choosing Prospect Bruce Rondon over Established MLB Reliever

You mean an established MLB reliever that is going to want a 3 year $21 million deal that you so strongly hate? Or an established MLB reliever that didn't exist on the free agent market for cheap?

Jose Valverde clearly wasn't the right man for the ninth-inning job. Still, it's risky to replace him internally.

If you remember, the author was upset the Cubs spent $5 million a year on an established MLB starter instead of looking at internal starters. Now he is upset the Tigers looked at internal relievers rather than sign an established MLB reliever. He just can't be pleased. Plus, Rondon has been lights-out at nearly every minor league level.

One minute the author is complaining a team doesn't look internally, the next minute he is complaining a team doesn't sign a free agent reliever, and then he complains a team paid a free reliever too much money...it's almost like he just doesn't get how baseball decisions are made nor understands a player's worth on the free agent market.

Kansas City Royals: Re-Signing Jeremy Guthrie

His game plan suits Kauffman Stadium, but left-handed power hitters have always given him trouble. Right on cue, Victor Martinez will return from a torn ACL, Justin Morneau is going through a normal, healthy offseason and entering his walk year and Nick Swisher has signed with the Cleveland Indians.

Earlier in this column the author said that Nick Swisher was the worst mistake the Indians made this offseason. Yet now, he is a slugger who is going to be feared in the AL Central. I guess the author's opinion changes depending on what point he wants to prove. Is Gregg Easterbrook writing this column?

Los Angeles Angels: Adding Tommy Hanson

Acquiring Tommy Hanson was particularly ill-advised because he has trended in the wrong direction since debuting with the Atlanta Braves in 2009.

Hanson is a 26 year old who only needs to work on his mechanics and staying healthy. They traded him for a relief pitcher. Hanson is arbitration-eligible but if the Angels get him to work on his throwing motion then he is a 26 year old pitcher with a career ERA of 3.61, a ERA+ of 110, who has shown he can throw 200 innings and strike out 160-170 batters. Come on. He hasn't even come close to reaching his potential yet and he got traded for a reliever? It's not a bad move for the Angels at all.

The Angels exchanged Jordan Walden for Hanson in a move that comprises their bullpen depth.

So they traded bullpen depth for taking a chance on a stud starter. What a terrible move!

Milwaukee Brewers: Conceding to Boston Red Sox in Ryan Dempster Bidding War

So the author thinks the Red Sox made a mistake in signing Ryan Dempster, but he thinks the Brewers made a mistake by conceding to the Red Sox in the bidding war for Dempster. I am starting to think this slideshow was really the biggest mistake that was made this offseason.

He has stayed true to his word, which leaves a host of inexperienced internal candidates to battle for rotation spots behind Yovani Gallardo and Chris Narveson.

If Dempster was the only available arm that Milwaukee trusted, why didn't the front office make a more tempting offer?

Apparently the Cubs don't need to sign any experienced pitchers and should trust their internal candidates to pitch, but the Brewers can not trust any internal candidates and should have outbid the Red Sox for a pitcher the author thinks the Red Sox overpaid for. It's web of deceit and lies.

Minnesota Twins: Signing Kevin Correia

Inexplicably, Minnesota deemed Kevin Correia worthy of two years and $10 million.

Correia owns one of baseball's lowest strikeout rates, despite spending the first decade of his career in the National League. The 32-year-old has one season of 30-plus starts and none above 200 innings pitched.

I think the author has a fundamental misunderstanding of the value of a starting pitcher on the free agent market. Kevin Correia is not a great pitcher. He's not being paid like a great pitcher either. He is getting paid $10 million over two years. In return, he will eat some innings and have an ERA of 4.00-5.00. I don't think signing him was the biggest mistake the Twins made this offseason.

New York Mets: Reaching Early Expiration Agreement with Jason Bay

By deferring the $21 million, the team was presumably going to spend more on the 2013 team. It's been nearly three months since the agreement, and Shaun Marcum is the only free agent to sign a major league contract with New York.

Getting rid of Jason Bay was not a bad thing almost any way you look at it. Even if the Mets don't use the payroll room, at least they have the payroll room to use now.

Meanwhile, the Mets don't have any established, right-handed-hitting outfielders.

They also don't have Jason Bay anymore. Win for the Mets.

Philadelphia Phillies: Acquiring Michael Young

Few full-time third basemen were available in free agency, and hardly any could be acquired via trade.

But the Phillies never should have signed Michael Young to fix the gaping hole they had at third base. What a mistake! They should just not have had a third baseman on the field and had seven defensive players instead.
  
Philly received surprisingly strong production from Kevin Frandsen's right-handed bat in 2012. Pursuing a platoon partner like Eric Chavez seemed like a more sensible choice.

Instead, this team sacrificed two relievers and remains on the hook for $6 million of Young's salary.

I'm not the biggest Michael Young fan (check my archive for evidence), but the Phillies could have paid $3 million for Chavez and had Frandsen (who has more value as a utility player) for $850,000 taking up two roster spots for one position or they could have had Michael Young for $6 million taking up one roster spot with Frandsen being a utility guy. I don't know if I agree with the decision but I don't think it was the worst move of the offseason for the Phillies.

San Francisco Giants: Re-Signing Angel Pagan

GM Brian Sabean spoils his own players, either in the form of premature contract extensions or lucrative free-agent contracts.

And it never works out in the form of the Giants winning the World Series. Never. Ever. 

Locking up Angel Pagan for $40 million, however, is tougher to justify.

The San Francisco Giants had ample payroll to use, and Michael Bourn, B.J. Upton and Shane Victorino were on the market.

Michael Bourn and B.J. Upton both wanted more money than Angel Pagan wanted and Shane Victorino over Angel Pagan would have been a mistake. Pagan is younger, cheaper and a better player than Victorino. 

Each of them is better established at the major league level.

One player being "better established at the major league level" than another player does not mean that player is a better option than a less experienced guy. Carlos Villanueva is better established at the major league level than the Cubs internal candidates for a starting pitching job and I seem to recall the author not liking the fact he was signed by the Cubs over internal candidates.

Seattle Mariners: Passive Approach to Felix Hernandez Extension Talks

Well, the Mariners have now given Felix Hernandez $175 million. I wonder what the author thinks is the Mariners biggest offseason mistake now? 

Tampa Bay Rays: Signing Kelly Johnson

Instead, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports has learned that he'll alternate between second base and the outfield.

The unofficial deal is presumably a cheap one, but it doesn't necessarily make Tampa Bay more competitive.

It does make the Rays more competitive in that they now have a left-handed bat that can play second base or the outfield and allow Ben Zobrist to possibly pick one position he will play. It cost the Rays $2.5 million. That's not a little bit of money, but there aren't a ton of better options out there who can play second base and the outfield.

Washington Nationals: Non-Tendering John Lannan

Paying upward of $5 million for a sixth starter isn't ideal, but at least John Lannan was somebody the Washington Nationals could trust to fill in if need be.

In conclusion, the Cubs should not have paid $5 million per year for Carlos Villanueva to be their fourth or fifth starter, but the Nationals should have paid $5 million per year for Lannan as their sixth starter. I guess the teams that should be trying to pay $5 million per year for an average starter are those teams that don't really need that starter in their rotation?

On paper, the Nats look like World Series favorites.

For the time being, though, they seem unprepared to handle a major injury to any rotation member.

There's not many MLB teams that can handle a major injury to any rotation member. Quality starting pitchers just aren't hanging out on the free agent market or in the minors. The Nationals could use Zach Duke as their fifth starter in case of an emergency, though this isn't ideal. The Nationals could use Christian Garcia in the rotation as well. The Nationals could also choose to sign Javier Vazquez if there is a major injury to a rotation member. My point is that the Nationals wouldn't be in any worse shape than a lot of other MLB teams if an injury happened to their starting rotation and not paying $5 million for a sixth starter who doesn't/can't work out of the bullpen is not a bad move.

I thank God that Bleacher Report is around to point out all of the mistakes teams are making, even if many of these moves aren't really mistakes. Overly-long lists and poorly defended arguments are something Bleacher Report seems to have cornered the market on.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

8 comments MMQB Review: Mike Silver's Mystery Head Coach Source Edition

Peter King ranked the airlines he has flown last week in MMQB, as well as criticized a barista for not appropriately using the recyclable cup that Peter purchased specifically to singlehandedly save the environment. Peter also talked about the virus he has picked up which was ruining his worth ethic and it was pointed out in the comments this virus coincides perfectly with a trip to Southern Mississippi Peter took immediately after the Super Bowl. The news gets a little bit slower in the offseason, but the Combine started this week and even though he believes it is over-hyped Peter is perfectly willing to be a part of the group who over-hype the Combine in discussing what we've "learned" from the players' performance there. This week Peter talks about the Combine, introduces us to the standout college players (the same ones we have watched all year) who have entered the NFL Draft, and points out a hotel he will want to avoid in the future. Oh, and Peter calls Meryl Streep "classy" because he has a massive crush on her and will talk about Meryl Streep at any given opportunity.

Who are the five players pictured above and what is the significance of these five together?

Take your time. Study them for a second while I give thanks to SI ace photographer Todd Rosenberg for the fine work he did over the weekend in a studio he invented in the concourse at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Just from looking at the picture it is clear these are college prospects looking to get drafted into the NFL this year. The significance most likely is they are players considered to go pretty early in the first round of the NFL Draft this year. I'm not good at guessing games, but this one is pretty obvious.

To be honest, I'd be surprised if many outside of Prof. Mike Mayock's tape laboratory went 5 for 5 on the IDs. They are (from left to right) outside linebacker Jarvis Jones of Georgia, defensive end Dion Jordan of Oregon, cornerback Dee Milliner of Alabama, defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd of Florida and tackle Luke Joeckel of Texas A&M.

Part of the reason many people outside of Mike Mayock wouldn't recognize these football players is because we have only seen them with a helmet on, which makes it hard to see their faces. So it isn't an overall lack of knowledge that causes people to not recognize these college football stars, but the fact their faces are covered by a helmet when we watch them play on television.

The significance: Fifty-nine days out, those five players are as good a guess as any for the top five picks in the draft -- in some order.

So basically they may have no significance because they are just players Peter is guessing may go in the Top 5 of this year's NFL Draft.

I'll give day-one starting left tackle Joeckel to the Chiefs at one, Jones and his freaky 24.5 tackles for loss in 2012 to Jacksonville at two (provided his spinal stenosis is not a huge issue), Floyd to the tackle-light and rebuilding Raiders at three, Jordan to the Eagles for a reunion with college coach Chip Kelly at four, and the most obvious pick in any draft in recent years, Milliner, to the cornerback-starved Lions at five.

I have very little doubt Peter's top 5 will change in the coming months, especially given the fact #3 seems pretty high for Sharrif Floyd. Al Davis isn't around, so the Raiders just won't take the best available athlete anymore.

Get to know these guys. I just laid eyes on all of them over the weekend, 

What Peter means is that he leered at these players over the weekend and caused them to all not want to be around Peter because of the way he stared at them just over the edge of his triple latte mocha coffee with extra foam in a recyclable Starbucks cup.

Patience. When you hear that players are "sliding down draft boards,'' or "rocketing up draft boards,'' understand that it's a lie. Those draft boards now are mental. Most teams have their first version of player ranking set before coming to the combine. Then they return home and continue the scouting process, then reset the board in the week or sometimes day or two before the draft. If they're sliding or rising now, it's in the minds of GMs, not in any official sense.

Players are never "officially" sliding or rising in the NFL Draft anyway. It isn't like there is a scoreboard where a team can keep track of what players are sliding or rising in the draft. A player may rise based entirely on one team liking him a lot and another player can fall based on how the draft falls and the needs of the teams selecting in the first round. So there is never an official draft board after the Combine, which Peter is right about, but players are always rising or sliding in the  minds of GMs and it is never, ever "official" that a player is sliding or rising until draft day. Even then, a player doesn't "officially" slide until the draft actually starts.

3. The Ravens and Joe Flacco are making progress. The club negotiator, Pat Moriarty, and agent Joe Linta spent four hours together Friday night, then were spotted at the Capital Grille having dinner. This isn't degenerating into what happened last summer -- yet, and I don't think it will -- when Linta and Flacco walked away with a deal agonizingly close. 

But I thought the Ravens and Joe Flacco were not going to come to an agreement and the Ravens would possibly let Flacco go in free agency or hit him with the franchise tag in order to collect the draft picks when another team signed Flacco? What happened to the Ravens starting over with Matt Flynn or Alex Smith providing competition to Tyrod Taylor in order to save a few bucks and sign Darnell Ellerbe and/or Paul Kruger? That sounded like a foolproof plan to me.

The Ravens know they can find a way to do a cap-friendly deal in years one and two, Flacco knows he doesn't want to leave Baltimore, and the extended conversation is a good sign that the two sides can reach a five- or six-year deal to keep the unsigned Flacco in Baltimore through the middle of his prime years before free agency opens in two weeks.

Remember a few weeks ago when Peter seemed sure the Ravens weren't going to re-sign Flacco because Ozzie Newsome and Steve Bisciotti said there were going to be some positions where the Ravens went with youth over re-signing their own players? Remember when Peter King thought that meant the Ravens weren't going to re-sign Joe Flacco? It feels like a long time ago. I wonder if Peter thinks now he sounded silly when he wrote those words a few short weeks ago?

4. Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o made a very good first impression on the NFL. No way the second- or third-rated inside linebacker gets to the bottom of the round now, in the wake of the fake girlfriend story. I can't see him lasting past Cincinnati at 21. "Unbelievable kid,'' is how one interviewer for a team described him Sunday night. "Everybody in our room fell in love with him."

I've heard Te'o has the ability to make people around him fall in love with him. It seems to be a trend doesn't it? I guess he has that going for him.

"The times just seem to be faster than we expected, by a lot of guys." There were six sub-4.4-second 40-yard dashes by wide receivers -- including 4.27 by Texas' Marquise Goodwin and 4.34 by Texas A&M's Mike Swope, both faster than predicted -- 

Pretty much any time that Mike Swope ran was going to be faster than predicted, especially considering there was no Mike Swope who played for Texas A&M nor was a Mike Swope invited to the Combine. There was a Ryan Swope, but he is a white wide receiver so the Patriots have already called dibs on drafting him. Well, maybe the Patriots don't know they are drafting Swope but I would imagine every mock draft is going to have Swope going to the Patriots. It's groupthink.

Before interviewing Barkley Saturday night at the combine, I asked three scouts about him.

I watched extended highlights of the Stanford and Oregon games from last season on YouTube. I didn't see the too-much-air thing, but I did see him trusting his receivers too much to make tough throws,

In slight defense of Matt Barkley, when your wide receivers are Marquise Lee and Robert Woods then you should probably trust them as much as possible. They are pretty good.

He was a quarterback under siege against Stanford, once getting pummeled almost before the snap arrived on the goal line by an attacking Cardinal front. It's tough to dissect decision-making without knowing the offense or sitting down to watch tape with the guy, but he took too many chances for my taste.

I'm not a Matt Barkley fan or anything of the like, but perhaps the reason he took too many chances is because he was trying too hard to make a play and lead his team back? So when Barkley got good protection and thought he had a chance to complete a pass he went for it because he wasn't sure when the next time he would have time to throw the ball would be. It's not the smartest move, but pressure on the quarterback can make a quarterback do some stupid things. 

"My Pro Day will dispel those myths about my arm,'' he predicted.

Barkley seems very confident and very sure of himself without being cocky. "As I start my NFL career,'' he said, "I really want to set the record straight on a few things. People look at me like I'm some Cali boy, but I'm not that way -- I don't even know how to surf. I'm a football junkie. I'm football, 24/7.''

"Seriously guys, I'm not Matt Leinart. Really, I'm not. I don't surf, so that means I am not Matt Leinart. You guys all believe me, right? Say you believe me."

I think a couple of teams wanted me to throw coaches or whoever under the table.

If Matt Barkley threw Lane Kiffin under the bus could you say that you blame him at all? Let's be fair, there's probably a lot of people who want to throw Kiffin under a bus, in the literal sense, much less in the figurative sense.

One team gave me sort of a trick question: 'Would you rather ride the bench and win a Super Bowl, or be a starter and not make the Super Bowl?' That's a trick question, really. I just said, 'I want to be a starter. As much as I want to win a Super Bowl ring, I don't want one handed to me without deserving it.' ''

It's not a trick question. It's a loaded question. "Are you more focused on individual over team achievements," versus "how much does it mean to you to be a starter in the NFL and how motivated are you to be a starter?" There's no right answer to this question...well, other than "I'd rather ride the bench my rookie year, have my team's starter get injured on the first play of the Super Bowl, win the Super Bowl and then be a starter for that same team over the next 15 years."

Television cameras focused on Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o during his media period at the combine: 46. In total, it was the biggest media horde in combine history. "I'd say one-third more media than Tim Tebow got,'' said combine godfather Gil Brandt.

And of course from now until eternity all camera totals will be counted and compared to the cameras that were on Tim Tebow at the Combine. Most quarterback prospects just hope to achieve 33% of the Tebow Camera Equation, but Manti Te'o exceeded the Tebow Camera Equation by 33%. Very impressive.

All I can say if Te'o drops precipitously -- and I do not believe he will; I think he goes no lower than the early 20s of the first round -- this league needs to have its collective head examined.

"I'm sitting here watching all this,'' said Nevada coach Brian Polian, the point man in the Notre Dame recruitment of Te'o, "and it's driving me out of my mind.''

BREAKING NEWS: The coach who recruited Manti Te'o to Notre Dame believes Manti Te'o is a great person and his fictional girlfriend shouldn't affect his draft status. Quick, someone find out if Brian Kelly likes Manti Te'o as well!

"The reason I've been so upset at how Manti has been portrayed is that I know him. He doesn't conspire to trick anyone.

Or Te'o is very good at tricking people and tricked Brian Polian into believing he wouldn't trick anyone. That's a possibility.

Then he goes to a prestigious private school and, I'm not going to lie, he was sheltered. Then he goes to Notre Dame, and there aren't many places that protect and shelter their students like Notre Dame. This whole story happens, and he's guilty of one thing: trusting some sicko, because that's what he does, he trusts people. He's not jaded, he's not worldly, he's naïve. So he trusts someone who doesn't deserve to be trusted, then he's totally embarrassed by it when he finds out it's phony.

This brings up a very good question that concerns NFL talent evaluators. Te'o is a four year college player who is naive and overly trusting. Being naive and overly trusting is a good way to invite problems in the form of bad people surrounding you when you start to make millions of dollars. The fact Te'o was naive and trusted too much, combined with his default reaction to lie and deceive when he found out he was being taken, has to be very concerning for NFL evaluators. Not being worldly and trusting others too much is an excellent way to become an NFL cautionary tale. If Brian Polian doesn't understand these concerns then there is something wrong with him.

"Any NFL team that really looks into this kid is going to find out what a great person he is. I guarantee it. This thing will be a punch line in two months.

The problem is that Te'o is already a punchline.

And I asked, "What did you think of that scene in there?''

Te'o smiled. "That was a great experience,'' he said. "People were nice to me. I enjoyed it." And then he was gone.

Now there's an answer I didn't expect. Maybe, "Holy crap! That was incredible!'' But, "People were nice to me?'' I spoke to Polian after this, and it all seemed to fit -- this bizarre thing may have made him trust fewer people, but he still seems like a truster of people he's just met.

Okay, I have to ask it, but is Manti Te'o slow? Not slow as in "doesn't run fast," but slow as in "not going to beat anyone at Scrabble or never the first to figure out a math problem" type of slow.

One last story: Our combine photographer Rosenberg had a short session with Te'o Sunday. He had quite a few players in his home-made studio in the Lucas Oil Stadium concourse, and he'd ask them all to pose, and then to do some action things. Rosenberg had to tell most of them to really give some effort, because it was strange to run or make sudden actions in such a confined space. When Te'o was in there, and Rosenberg asked him to run, he sprinted past Rosenberg, past the camera position, into the concourse. Sprinting. That's what he was asked to do, and so he did it.

Again, is Manti Te'o slow? When Rosenberg asked him to run, he didn't mean start sprinting into the concourse. This seems a little obvious. Is it possible that Manti Te'o is smart enough to be good at football, but not smart enough to figure out how the world works or what exactly people are asking him to do? Is he the modern day Forrest Gump?

I think Te'o should and will go in the first round, but if someone doesn't understand the reason for questions about Te'o then that person simply isn't paying attention. It would concern me if I were an NFL GM that Te'o seems very childish and not very worldly. You can't babysit him in the NFL and hope someone doesn't ask him to do something he will simply do without a second thought.

Then Peter discusses Matt Birk, who is retiring, and Birk ends the discussion with advice perhaps Peter King should heed more often.

"I'm happy. Fifteen seasons, Man of the Year, two great franchises, Super Bowl my last game, and we win it. If you ever hear me complaining about anything, ever, slap me in the face. Please."

Yeah, but Matt Birk doesn't have to stay in these crappy hotels with their terrible free coffee like Peter does. You deal with bad coffee and then talk to Peter about who has a right to complain. 

"Of all the people here at the combine, the one person you don't want to be is him. Seriously, I'd rather have six positive drug tests, a DUI, a domestic abuse charge and some theft incidents than have to deal with all the questions that guy's going to face. He's going to be probed by most of the teams, and all of you guys, until his head is spinning.''

-- One NFC head coach on the scrutiny that awaits Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o after his phonygirlfriend experience of last fall, according to Michael Silver of Yahoo! Sports.

(Best Jigsaw voice) I want to play a game. Any guesses as to who this NFC coach was?

I'm going to rule out coaches and give my pick as well. I think teams should be concerned about Te'o, but I wouldn't want all of these charges on me as a prospect as opposed to being Manti Te'o. I would take Te'o's situation over having a litany of serious crimes against me. So which head coach said this?

I'm going to immediately rule out Bruce Arians, Marc Trestman, Jason Garrett, Mike McCarthy, Leslie Frazier, Tom Coughlin, Chip Kelly, Jeff Fisher, Sean Payton and Pete Carroll. I either don't know enough about them or don't think it is their temperament to make such a statement.

So for the rest of the coaches:

Mike Shanahan: This seems like a Mike Shanahan-type thing to say, but I think he is such an experienced head coach he would know better than to think facing all of those charges are better than being Te'o. So it seems like he would say it, but I don't think it was him.

Greg Schiano: He does seem to have the ego to say this. I can't decide if his disciplinarian-type personality means he would less or more likely to say this statement. I lean towards saying he wouldn't make this statement because Schiano would probably rather have a player with a good criminal record than a player with a bad criminal record.

Jim Harbaugh: Mike Silver is a West Coast guy and Jim Harbaugh is brash, so I can see how the two would have a conversation that led to this statement. He seems like the kind of guy who values honesty, toughness and intelligence (traits he probably believes Te'o lacks) over a player who may have had some troubles during his college career. Plus, he is a Stanford/Michigan guy and Te'o went to Notre Dame.

Jim Schwartz: He's brash and he isn't afraid to take on players who have a troubled history as the head coach of the Lions. He clearly thinks he can handle troubled players, so he would rather have a troubled player than a guy who he believes isn't fully honest with him. I think he could have said this.

Ron Rivera: He talks tough like this sometimes, but I also don't think he would be dumb enough to make this statement. Plus, Rivera isn't ruling out any players in the draft because he has a job to save.

Mike Smith: I think this is the wild card coach to make these statements. Smith doesn't seem to be very brash and opinionated in public, but it could very well be a really quiet head coach who said this. It's always the sneaky ones you have to watch. Since I'm not 95% he didn't say this, I'll include him on my list as the really quiet wild card coach.

So I'm down to Jim Harbaugh, Mike Smith or Jim Schwartz who made this statement. I'll rule the quiet guy out first. Mike Smith probably didn't make this statement. Given Schwartz's experience with working with players who have personal red flags (Titus Young, Suh, Fairley, etc) I think he would be the one who would make this statement. Of course, Jim Harbaugh doesn't have a need for a linebacker so he could say something like this fully knowing the 49ers aren't going to draft Te'o. So my guess is that I am 60% sure it was Jim Schwartz who said this and 40% sure it was Jim Harbaugh who said it.

Uneasy Lies The Head That Wears The Crown Dept.: Of the 11 members of the league's General Managers Advisory Committee last season, six have been fired: Scott Pioli (Chiefs), Rod Graves (Cardinals), Gene Smith (Jaguars), Mike Tannenbaum (Jets), Marty Hurney (Panthers) and Tom Heckert (Browns).

A seventh, Mickey Loomis (Saints), was suspended for half of the 2012 season due to the Saints' bounty scandal.

Watch your backs, Martin Mayhew (Lions), Jerry Reese (Giants), Kevin Colbert (Steelers) and Thomas Dimitroff (Falcons).

I think Reese, Colbert and Dimitroff are probably safe for the next season. Just a hunch.

Mr. Starwood Preferred Member Travel Note of the Week

I have two.

Not three or maybe even ten? I'm sure in the past week Peter has visited Starbucks at least 40 times and there has to be at least 3-4 annoying stories that came out of these Starbucks visits.

1. Why, oh why, have I missed the breakfast gem in downtown Indianapolis (with other locations in the area) called Patachou? 

Perhaps because you were too focused on not getting good free hotel coffee and complaining about how long the line at Starbucks was? Perhaps no one told you about it because they don't like your company.

2. Remind me to skip the Hotel Cecil on my next trip to L.A. Per CNN: "The decomposing body of Elisa Lam floated inside a water tank on the roof of the Cecil Hotel while guests brushed their teeth, bathed and drank with water from it for as long as 19 days ... 

"But for a week, they never complained. 'We never thought anything of it,' she said. 'We thought it was just the way it was here.' New guests continued to check into the Cecil in the hours after firefighters removed Lam's body from the water tank. But each guest was asked to sign a waiver releasing the hotel from liability if they became ill. 'You do so at your own risk and peril,' the hotel's release said.''

Now THIS is an excellent reason to complain about a hotel's service and the conditions they present for their guests. One would hope Peter King could see that there are more things that can go wrong with a hotel than for their to be no good free coffee or the lack of a buffet in the morning. There was a dead body at this hotel which affected the drinking water and every other drop of water at the hotel. Rather than close, the hotel had the guests sign a waiver. This is much like those big trucks you see on the highway carrying huge rocks or gravel have signs on the back that say "Not responsible for damage done to cars" who are trying to just get out of liability for the damage they cause to other cars' windshields. Obviously you can't just say you aren't liable for something and then magically not be liable if you were truly at fault for any damage done. I'm thinking of getting a sign on the back of my car and claiming I have no liability for any damage that throwing bowling balls out of the driver's side window may do.

So my point is that Peter should realize there are worse things that can happen at a hotel as opposed to just being a little bit inconvenienced.

"I could listen to Adele sing the phone book. In fact, I'd order multiple copies."

-- @nprscottsimon, the National Public Radio host, watching Adele sing at The Oscars Sunday night. 

It's nice to see Adele is the new Celine Dion. She is the crooner who isn't offensive to anyone and has a great voice. I wonder when Adele will start a two year run of shows in Las Vegas. I'm guessing it will be another ten years, but that's just a guess.

Who knows? He still might, but if the Chiefs get Smith, they should just let Brandon Albert walk (he's not worth $10 million a year), take Texas A&M tackle Luke Joeckel No. 1 overall, and if Barkley's there at the top of the second round, consider taking the USC passer there. But he wouldn't be essential then.

If the Chiefs trade a second or third round pick for Alex Smith then one of the last things they need to do is spend a second round pick on Matt Barkley. I'm no NFL coach and you can't have too many quarterbacks, but it doesn't make sense to me for the Chiefs to trade for Alex Smith and then draft a quarterback in the second round. Of course Peter probably also thinks the 49ers aren't getting a good deal if they end up with anything less than a first round pick for Smith since they spent a first round pick on him already. It's folly to trade Smith and not get more than a first round pick in return!

I think among the troubled players at the combine, Tyrann Mathieu, whose mountain of off-field and drug problems got him kicked off the LSU team, talked the best game. How much that helps remains to be seen, but it's a start, anyway. He said he has a sponsor for his addiction issues, is undergoing counseling and talks to several NFL defensive backs, including Darrelle Revis and Patrick Peterson, to help him stay on the straight and narrow.

If I am an NFL head coach I'm excited Tryann Mathieu is talking to Darrelle Revis and also scared Mathieu is talking to Darrelle Revis. I would be a little bit afraid Revis would be schooling Mathieu on "Holding Out 101."

He'd better be. Can't imagine him getting drafted with a single misstep over the next two months.

It sounds like there is one NFC head coach who sounds like he would draft Mathieu even if he gets arrested for various crimes a few times over the next coming months.

5. I think, speaking of over-unders, this is mine for where rehabbing running back Marcus Lattimore will be drafted: 93rd overall. By San Francisco. One day we might be calling Lattimore the successor to Frank Gore.

I don't think Marcus Lattimore will last to #93. I would probably draft him before that if I am an NFL team who needs a running back.

8. I think Sunday's hero at the combine may well have been Oklahoma tackle Lane Johnson. "Great workout,'' said one scout watching. "I could see three tackles going in the top 10. Wouldn't shock me.'' Luke Joeckel, Central Michigan's Eric Fisher and Johnson, who, believe it or not, was a high school quarterback.

I love how last week in his "Adieu Haiku" Peter referred to the Combine as being over-hyped and this week he is writing mostly about the Combine and stating a player's Combine performance could have pushed that player into the Top 10 of the draft. So doesn't that mean the Combine isn't over-hyped? I know the offseason is a dry time for NFL news, but don't call the Combine over-hyped and then write mostly about the Combine, while also stating players are moving around teams' draft boards because of their performance at the Combine. If a player can work his way into the Top 10 at the Combine then maybe it is hyped-up, but not overly-hyped up.

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

c. Who's classier than Meryl Streep?

No one, Peter. No one is classier than Meryl Streep. Why do I have a feeling Peter has a Meryl Streep wallpaper on his computer?

d. I know basketball as well as I know horticulture, but after a long weekend and lots of SportsCenter, just wondering how anyone can stop LeBron James.

This is Peter's typical "I don't know anything about the sport, but here is my comment that I want to have influence on your opinion of the topic discussed" comment. Thanks for contributing Peter. LeBron James is hard to stop.We'll consider ourselves informed.

k. Good luck at the Iowa State Daily and in your career beyond Ames, Dean Berhow-Goll. Good talking with you at the ombine.

Yes Dean Berhow-Goll, Peter feels it was good talking to you at the ombine, which is something that doesn't exist as a person, place or thing. The imaginary conversation was really pretend-life changing. Peter hopes to see you again next month at the FL daft.

The Adieu Haiku

Draft's two months away.
I know but one thing for sure:
Mike Mayock knows things.


Sounds like Peter mailed in the haiku this week. YOU'RE NO MERYL STREEP, PETER! MERYL STREEP WOULD NEVER MAIL IN A PERFORMANCE!

Monday, February 25, 2013

0 comments Dick Vitale Will Be Glad to Chat With You, Just Don't Criticize Anyone He Likes

Dick Vitale seems like a nice guy. He drives me batty though. I can't listen to him call a college basketball game because he is constantly talking, yelling and generally straying off topic. I am sure he has some sort of college basketball knowledge based on the fact he works for ESPN as a basketball analyst, but he mainly serves as a sideshow during the game and refuses to step out of the way of a game when something remarkable happens (see: Gonzaga v. Butler game earlier this year). The game quickly becomes about Dick Vitale and what stories he has to tell during a broadcast. I rarely watch a game Vitale broadcasts and rarely feel I learn more about a coach/player than his parent's name and whether they are good people or not. The game is all about Dick, pimping out the next thing Dick is doing and Dick name-dropping those people he knows, so his tangents will often conflict with the game action being shown. So Dick does weekly chats for ESPN where he sort of, but not really, answers questions in a vague manner. He also feels very strongly about defending his friends from any type of criticism. His schtick got old a decade ago and you can feel him yelling at you through your computer. But hey, he does seem like a nice guy.

Dick Vitale (11:04 AM)

Good to be with you this morning for another chat...Meanwhile, I had a great game earlier this week as Michigan edged Ohio State in overtime. I am looking forward to going to South Bend this weekend to see Louisville against Notre Dame.

Tell us more about your schedule this week. That's all we really care about anyway. Did you talk to Rick Pitino this week. Does he have diaper dandies? Speak up and yell at us because we are all deaf.

Nick (Indiana)

Mr. Vitale,Last week you stated Oladipo has the skill set of MJ. How well of a player do you think he can be in the NBA.

Well Nick, he will be a very well player in the NBA. He does basketball good and makes good dribbles of the ball to get into basket with ball in his hand as crowd cheers go basketball player man!

Also, don't listen to Dick Vitale when he compares Player A to Player B. He's not always paying attention to what he says and you shouldn't either.

DV: Let's not worry about the NBA.

The question was about the NBA, so saying "let's not worry about the NBA" is basically saying, "I choose not to answer your question that I specifically chose to answer for the purposes of this chat."

I said he is a mini version when Michael was on the collegiate version. He exploded when he went to the NBA scene. I want people to understand that. 

True, but Michael Jordan was the #3 overall pick behind Hakeem Olajuwon, so it's not like he was a late-first round prospect. He was a very, very good college player.

Matthew (Omaha)

Who is your pick for Player of the Year right now, Trey Burke or Doug McDermott?

DV: Today I would go with Trey Burke. He has had such an impact on the Michigan team. McDermott is right up there despite the loss to Indiana State. You can see my super seven on my page on espn.com

What? You mean Dick answered the question by hedging and then attempted to do some self-publicity? You don't say.

Matthew (Los Angeles, California)

What is the best game that you have ever seen?

DV:  The one that was most dramatic was watching my buddy win the national championship because of what was at stake and the underdog role in the eyes of people, Jimmy V. vs. Phi Slama Jama in Albuquerque.

You see what I am talking about? Everything is very Vitale-centric. The most dramatic game wasn't NC State v. Houston, but Dick watching his "buddy" win the national championship. This game was seen by Dick through the prism of how HIS friend won the game. It's how he broadcasts games as well. There may be good action going on or something that needs to be explained and Dick Vitale will instead be off on a tangent about the Tampa Bay Rays or talking about what a great job a coach at another school has done. Don't even get me started, even though I sort of already am, on how he can't ever be quiet and leave a exciting moment alone. He has to yell through that moment.

Tom (Virginia)

Did you think ODU should have fired Blaine Taylor during the season? I know they are 2-20, but why not let him finish the season, they were not going to the conference tournament anyway.

DV: I don't buy coaches being fired druring the season unless it is a moral situation.

Well morally, Old Dominion was tired of their basketball team losing and wanted to make a change. There's nothing to "buy" in this situation because no one is being convinced. ODU was terrible and the school wanted to make a change so they could turn the situation around as soon as possible.

Don't fired him over wins and losses until after the season. I especially don't like it when a guy has given so much to the university as he did.

Yeah, I hate how him got fired. It's about results though and why wait until after the season to fire a coach that was going to be fired anyway? Get a jump on recruiting and finding a different head coaching candidate now. 2-20 is a miserable record anyway. A team doesn't go 2-20 by accident.

seth (ohio)

It's obvious you like Aaron Craft. Do you really think he can go to the next level? I know he can facilitate offensivley but does't he need to develop an outside shot?

DV: I said he can be a role player and make a roster. If he ever improves his shot, watch out. He is a tough, competitive winner who is unique and special.

Step back everyone, this is some analysis going on here. Aaron Craft is special, unique and he's a winner. Does it help he is surrounded by good talent on the Ohio State team? No, it doesn't. He's a winner. Also, Aaron Craft needs to improve his ability to shoot the basketball, but that probably doesn't matter because he is a winning winner who is very unique and special.

Dan (THE U)

Who do you think is National Coach of the Year at this point? Can anyone stop Jim Larranaga?

DV: Larranaga is certainly in the mix. There are a lot of good candidates. What about the job Krzyzewski and Duke given Ryan Kelly being out.

Absolutely Coach K should be given consideration. When Ryan Kelly went down with a foot injury, Coach K then had to rely more on a Top 50 recruit (Alex Murphy) and two McDonald's All-American freshmen. What a burden! What other coaches in college basketball have an injury to a player and then HAVE to turn to two McDonald's All-Americans to fill the void? Give the poor guy some options. I'm just surprised with the lack of talent on the Duke bench they aren't a .500 team right now.

There are a lot of guys in the running and it is still early. Does anyone realize the job Larry Eustachy has done at Colorado State? 19 wins already and they may be ranked soon. It is still early.

As Joe Morgan used to say, it's too early to tell. Has Larry Eustachy done a good job? Maybe, it's too early to tell. Is ice water cold? Perhaps, but it's too early to tell.

Terry (Detroit)

Can Michigan State make the Final Four

DV: Yes, Tom Izzo's team can certainly win the Big Ten again, they are right there knocking on the door. Izzo is a fierce competitor who got another good win last night. He would battle you in checkers and chess. I am looking forward to going to East Lansing to sit next to Magic Johnson, who is one of my favorite players of all time.

This answer is very indicative of what is it like to hear Dick Vitale call a game. He starts discussing a topic, brings the topic around to himself and finally...

What he has done with his life after basketball is an amazing success story and he is so special.

...he is completely off topic and there is a game going on and the viewer is having a non-game related story being thrown at them while on-court action is taking place.

Evan (Kentucky)

Dick, what's your take on many of the top 10 teams having legitimate struggles recently, Duke, UL, KU, etc. Do you think it's a legitimate possibility that about 30 teams have a shot to win it all this year due to the mediocrity? 

DV: I will tell you, I would say about 15 that could win it all. It is as wide open as ever. When you are talking about winning six game sin a row, you separate some teams out of there.

So Dick Vitale says that 15 teams could win it all, but then says once you talk about those teams that could win it all, there are teams separated out. To win the NCAA Tournament a team has to win six games in a row, so doesn't that mean there aren't 15 teams that could win it all?

Cosmo (Anytown, USA)

What job is Coach K doing without Kelly? They are flawed and lost by more than any #1 ranked team ever - and they will not challenge the better teams from other conferences. The ACC sticks right now. Keep up the good work.

Minus the misspelling about how the ACC "sticks" right now, Cosmo is coming after Duke which is an egregious error that will not stand for Dick Vitale. He will smite you for such an obvious affront.

DV: Bottom line is he has done an amazing job. They did get blown out of a game and that happens. Carolina got blown out by Florida State and then went to win the title.

Both good points. But then Dick Vitale just can't help himself...

Kelly is a key guy and obviously you are a Duke hater and are absolutely thrilled when Duke comes up short. 

Yes, clearly by looking at a college basketball team and using his knowledge to form an opinion that Duke is a flawed team Cosmo isn't simply giving an opinion, but being a "Duke hater." Pointing out Duke struggles to win on the road without Kelly and that 99% of the coaches in college basketball would love to have the quality depth of talent behind Kelly for when he got injured and this needs to be factored in when determining the great job Coach K has done is irrelevant to Vitale. Not many college basketball teams can throw a McDonald's All-American like Amile Jefferson on the court when an injury to a starter occurs.

To knock Coach K is an absolute joke; we should all do what Coach K has done in his career. He is an outstanding hmanitarian who is so dedicated to help raise money in the battle for cancer at the V Foundation.

THIS is part of the problem I find with Dick Vitale. He's so busy defending his friends and talking about all the great things they do off the court that he doesn't have the time or inclination to objectively look at the situation when calling a game. The fact Coach K is a humanitarian is irrelevant when it comes to criticism of him and the job he does as a head coach. If Dick Vitale can't understand that, then that's a negative mark on him. Questioning the job Coach K is doing is not criticizing him as a person. It's business, not personal. I think Coach K has done a good job of adjusting the offense and defense without Ryan Kelly, but I also acknowledge it is a lot easier to do when you have really good (though young) players on the bench. Criticism of a coach isn't making it personal and Vitale makes the error in believing it is.

Obviously anything he does will not please you.

Just a note for future broadcasters, when you are confronted with criticism of a person you like and decide to respond to said criticism with righteous anger and indignation at this person being criticized and cite his "humanitarian" efforts then you should probably go ahead and retire. I say this because you have gotten to the point where you are no longer capable of being a neutral observer and are taking criticism way too personally.

He has done a great job this season and his team is in the top five, with wins over the likes of Louisville and Ohio State. Give me a break.

But he (and Duke) did this WITH RYAN KELLY HEALTHY! That's not what Cosmo is talking about. Cosmo is saying that without Kelly, Duke has almost lost to Wake Forest and Boston College on the road. He's saying Duke was blown out by Miami and handily beaten by N.C. State on the road. It's a fair criticism and to respond to it with "Yeah, but look at their wins against Louisville and Ohio State" completely misses the point of the question and the criticism. Again, this is indicative of how Dick Vitale calls a basketball game. He will ignore the action on the court in order to describe what Coach K (or another coach) is doing for the community. It's great to hear, but not when these stories are being told at the expense of the action of the game being analyzed.

I am sure Vitale would say I am just being a Duke hater and nothing Coach K does will please me. I'm also pretty sure that's incredibly incorrect.

Bill (Toronto)

have you seen VT's Erick Green play this year? If so, do you think his play relates well to the NBA?

DV: Green is a talented player who has the potential to make it in the NBA. He has a scorer's mentality.

Clearly Dick Vitale hasn't seen Erick Green play because he just gave a generic, computerized answer to the question.

Teddy (NY)

How excited are you about calling the national championship game?

DV: I am thrilled to be calling a national semifinal and the championship game for ESPN International. It will air in some 10 countries.

Well then we are very impressed with your achievements Dick. You know those people who try to be humble when they are talking about their achievements, but because they always bring up how lucky they are to be in the position they are in, you get the feeling they aren't really being humble? That's how I feel sometimes about Dick Vitale. He poses this answer as something he can't believe he is privileged enough to participate in, but I get the feeling he is more bragging he is calling the national semifinal and championship game that will air in 10 countries.

I just hope my buddies in Italy will hear me!

That probably won't be an issue. You won't even need a microphone.

It will be special and I am very excited about this. I have never called the final game and it will be so special.

I'm glad you are impressed with yourself. Just be sure to bring up how special it is when there is 8 minutes left in the Florida-Kansas national championship game. That's the perfect time to go off on a tangent and talk about yourself.

Skip (Oregon)

Can my Ducks make a deep run in March--if they get Artis back soon?

DV: He is an important piece of the puzzle.

Translation: "I don't know who he is. Is he a Diaper Dandy? Does he know Coach K? If not, I don't care who he is."

They are a different team without him. Again, it is so wide open it is hard to dismiss anyone at this point among the top teams in the polls.

Oregon is ranked in the Top 25, but they aren't a top team in the poll. In fact, on his site Vitale didn't have Oregon even ranked in his own Top 25 for the week he did this chat. So I don't know if he means to refer to Oregon as a "top team" but it is clear Vitale doesn't believe Oregon is a top team. I think the questions Dick answers should be limited to questions such as,

"On a scale of 1-10 is Coach K a great humanitarian or a super-duper humanitarian?"

"Tell us more about some of your achievements."

"When calling a game, do you find 1% of people enjoy your yelling, or do you find 95% of people wish you would stay on topic?"

"Is UNC-Duke a good rivalry? I've never heard your opinion on this matter."

DV: I have my seven impact players posted on espn.com/dickvitale.

There is also a picture on the site of Dick Vitale with his mouth wide open yelling at us and "Your awesome baby!" written beside it, so I think it may be better to avoid this site completely. I find it shocking who ESPN chooses to give exposure to among their talent. Doris Burke is an excellent analyst who actually points out what happens on the court and why it happened. Sure, she sometimes gets caught up in the coach-worship, but at least she pays attention and analyzes the games. It's taken her a while, but ESPN is finally giving her a shot at calling games that aren't Division II title games or women's basketball games.

I can't wait for Louisville-ND as six of the last eight meetings have been decided in overtime or double-overtime.

And the Louisville-ND game went into five overtimes.

Louisville is starting to get things together. Rick Pitino belongs in the Hall of Fame, period.

And really, isn't that what this Louisville-ND game is all about? It's about Dick Vitale getting a chance to talk about how Rick Pitino needs to be in the Hall of Fame. After all, when Dick has a forum like that, there's no time to analyze and talk about the game going on. It's better to stick to meaningless catchphrases that further your own brand while spending time normally spent analyzing the Louisville-ND game to tell us what a great guy Rick Pitino is. Actually, I should just be happy he would be spending time talking about a head coach who is currently coaching in the very game he is calling.

Friday, February 22, 2013

2 comments Terence Moore Says Magic Wins the World Series; This Isn't a Parody Column

Terence Moore made a Super Bowl prediction a little less than a month ago. He said the Ravens were going to lose the Super Bowl because they don't have magic. See, Terence explains that magic can win the World Series, but there's no magic in the Super Bowl and that is why the Ravens will lose (yet they won) the Super Bowl. It's so absurd to say magic wins the World Series, but even more absurd to base a Super Bowl prediction on magic. Of course Terence is the same guy who gets worked up about unoriginal baseball celebrations and thinks MLB should not expand replay because the umpires have a hard job to do and can't always get close calls correct. I shouldn't be surprised he says the Ravens had "no chance" of winning the Super Bowl because they don't have magic. It seems like a statement an "old school I-hate-numbers-and-progress" type of sportswriter would say.

What a shame the Baltimore Ravens don't play in the American or National League. Otherwise, they would have a splendid chance to win a world championship this weekend.

The Ravens will have to settle for playing in the NFL and winning the Super Bowl anyway.

Instead, the Ravens have no chance.

Instead the Ravens won the Super Bowl. 

The Ravens are a magic team.

They are bountiful when it comes to magic. Ray Lewis used magic deer-antler spray. Joe Flacco magically became an elite quarterback during the months of January and February and Anquan Boldin magically caught every pass that came his way. Unfortunately, the belief of magic helping a team win a Super Bowl is bullshit, and even if it wasn't bullshit, magic is only reserved for World Series teams. Teams in the NFL need not apply for magic, no matter how deceptively they can pull a rabbit out of a hat or put a dollar bill into a previously uncut fruit.

They'll face the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday evening at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, and the Ravens will do so without many of their opponent's credentials.

Fortunately, the Super Bowl isn't played by credentials or who has the biggest resume, but is played on the field by two gritty teams fighting it out, being hustling dirt-dogs until one bloody team is proclaimed the scrappiest team of them all...hence the winner of the Super Bowl. So, credentials are as irrelevant as magic.

While magic teams such as the Ravens often capture the World Series, they never take Super Bowls. Never.

Except for this very year when it happened this very year, when the Ravens who would often magically capture the World Series if they were a baseball team, magically captured the Super Bowl this very year.

Well, almost never.

This almost never happens, which is why the title of this article is "Magic Sometimes Wins the Super Bowl" and is not "Magic Wins World Series, not Super Bowls."

Wait, I got that backwards and the title of this article IS "Magic Wins World Series, not Super Bowls?" I didn't expect Terence Moore to submarine his own point this early in the column. Usually he wants until halfway through a column to admit the entire point of the column is wrong.

Prior to Super Bowl III, Joe Namath made his guarantee involving his New York Jets against the Baltimore Colts, and you know the rest. The 1980 Oakland Raiders were projected as mediocre, but they became the first Wild Card team to ever win it all. Then there was five years ago, when the New York Giants used the combination of a miracle throw and catch in the final seconds to shock the New England Patriots.

Those are just three examples out of 46.

So magic does win Super Bowls?

And dammit, I'm already tired of talking about "magic" like it exists in sports. It doesn't. Crazy shit can happen during a sporting event and teams that aren't expected to win a game end up winning that game. I always find it interesting when members of the "old school baseball" club talk about how you have to see a team or player to determine how great that player or team truly was, then start talking about how certain teams win using magic or grit it out all tough-like. It's like they believe you have to see a player or team in order to appropriately judge that player, unless you can justify that's player or team's success using a completely non-quantifiable method like using magic or heart. The only method of quantifying a player's worth these "old school" baseball guys don't like is the method which uses numbers, but they are perfectly fine with chalking up a player or team's success to something that can't be remotely measured.

Still, despite the lack of suspense of most Super Bowls with these yin-and-yang type pairings, television ratings soar for the network broadcasting the game.

Since the year 2000, nine Super Bowls have been decided by one possession. Since the year 2000, five World Series have been had series records of 4-2 or more. In other words, the majority of World Series since 2000 have been decided 4-1 or 4-0. In even more other words, if Terence says the Super lacks drama then he must think the World Series is the biggest sports bore that exists in terms of championship game(s).

The quality of such Super Bowl games? No so much.

Again, since 2000 the Super Bowl has had very close games. The World Series has also had very close individual games, but the series matchup usually favors one team over the other. It's difficult to compare an individual game to a series of games, but the Super Bowl hasn't lacked excitement recently.

In contrast, baseball has a rich history of unpredictability with the World Series, particularly when a magic team is involved.

There is no such thing as a magic team. There is such a thing as a team that gets hot in the postseason and ends up winning the World Series.

The 1914 Boston Braves went from last place on the Fourth of July to sweeping the supposedly invincible Philadelphia Athletics out of the World Series. Thus their eternal nickname: The Miracle Braves.

With nobody expecting anything worth mentioning, Bill Mazeroski stepped to the plate in the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 7 of the 1960 World Series. He eventually ripped a home run to send his obscure Pirates past the mighty Yankees.

By the way, these "obscure" Pirates had a season record of 95-59 in 1960 and the "mighty" Yankees had a season record of 97-57 in 1960, but I'm sure those two extra games the Yankees won proved their mightiness over the Pirates. Either that, or Terence Moore is full of shit. I think I lean towards the latter. 

Nine years later, the New York Mets became the Amazin' Mets -- and 1969 world champions -- after seasons of ineptness.

Despite dropping the opening two games of the 1996 World Series to the Atlanta Braves at Yankee Stadium, the Yankees surged to the title during the New York tabloid drama (as in the stuff of magic teams) surrounding Frank Torre's heart surgery.

Later, the 2004 Boston Red Sox exorcised the Curse of the Bambino in a couple of dramatic ways. 

There were also the 2010 San Francisco Giants. Only the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians had gone longer than the Giants without winning a World Series.

Terence names six teams in the 109 year history of the World Series that were "magic" and won the World Series. Terence named three teams in the 46 year history of the Super Bowl that were "magic" and won the Super Bowl. I'm not a math expert, and I realize Terence hates numbers, but this information tells me a larger percentage of Super Bowl teams were magic as compared to World Series teams were magic...assuming we use the examples that Terence himself cites.

There's a lot more, because whereas pixie dust either dies or fades in the NFL, it lives forever in Major League Baseball -- or at least long enough to win a World Series.

Pixie dust is what helps decide the fate of the World Series, that part is true.

On a different note, what kind of asshole hack-writer pens an entire column about pixie dust and magic helping a team win the World Series? This is the kind of article an 11th grade English teacher would take a look at and hand back to the student with a big "F" on it. It's poorly researched, the central theme is not provable nor does it convey information to the reader that the reader can find useful, and it reeks of cutesy bullshit. Why does MLB.com have this on their site? It's a column about freaking magic and how there are teams in MLB who are magic and the NFL doesn't have teams that are magic. This is an idea a 10 year old would scoff at.

Those "magic" Giants won four of their five Word Series games against the loaded Texas Rangers.

So where was the drama in that 4-1 World Series result? The January after the Giants won the World Series 4-1 over the Rangers, the Packers won the Super Bowl by six points over the Steelers after winning three road games to get to the Super Bowl. But no, the World Series has magical teams and the Super Bowl lacks quality. Terence really wants us to believe this.

Modell's death was particularly a blow to Ray Lewis, the future Hall of Fame linebacker who played on the Ravens' first team. So, Lewis could do his squirrel dance before Sunday's opening kickoff while leading his teammates in a cheer of "Win one for Art."

Sure the Ravens owner died, but death just doesn't create magic, people. When the Joe Torre's brother has heart surgery, now that is a situation where a reasonable case can be made for magic being present. Death is so overdone. Everyone dies, but not everyone has heart surgery.

The Lewis-inspired Ravens smashed the Indianapolis Colts during a home playoff game. Then they ignored their underdog status to grab road victories at Denver (despite the great Payton Manning) and at New England (despite the great Tom Brady).

It all smacks of magic.

But it's not magic because Super Bowls are rarely won using magic. The Magic Gods reserve all magic for baseball teams to use during the MLB playoffs and World Series.

Ravens safety Ed Reed is from the New Orleans area, and that's magic enough. That said, since he is in the twilight of a brilliant career, he could make more magic in the Baltimore locker room before the game by telling his teammates that he is joining Lewis in retirement -- and that he wants to end his career by winning it all in his backyard.

Ed Reed "could make more magic?" Terence, you can't just make magic! Magic is something that has to be cultivated and carefully created in the mind of a baseball sportswriter in order to have a column idea during the long, cold winter months. Magic isn't just made by a player, it's a form of bullshit that only the most hack of sportswriters can create and cite in columns.

Reed played for a defense with more aches and pains this season than any other in the NFL, but they found the "magic" to keep going.

This is expert analysis people. Step back and watch Terence work. ESPN is probably looking hard at Terence to be one of their 194 NFL analysts.

The Ravens also changed offensive coordinators in December, which is unusual for a contending team.

With sentences like this, Terence Moore could give Gregg Easterbrook a run for his money in writing a weekly TMQ. So it is unusual for a contending team to change offensive coordinators? But what if they changed coordinators in order to increase their magic?

They're still standing.

Not that it will matter.

They won the Super Bowl.

Not that the belief in magic, writing an entire column about magic or in any stating MLB teams are magic while NFL teams are not is pure bullshit.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

10 comments Skip Bayless Suggests the NFL Gets Rid of Field Goals, I Suggest We Allow NFL Kickers to Use Skip Bayless as a Football

Skip Bayless is a pretty useless human being. I'm sure he has positive qualities in his own personal life and tells many humorous jokes. He is well-known for being a fitness buff and isn't exactly afraid to show that off. This tells me he is probably somewhat insecure, which would help explain his daily pleas for attention on "First Take" and his love for Tim Tebow. He probably imagines a Tim Tebow-Skip Bayless petroleum jelly wrestling contest in his dreams. Regardless, Skip is a #1 troll and the bane of the world's existence. He craves attention and ESPN gives him a forum to get said attention. I have less respect for him than pretty much any other writer I cover here. In fact, I have such little respect for him I don't cover him here because I consider anything he writes to be pure trolling bullshit. I decided to make an exception today. Skip wants to get rid of the field goal attempt and extra point attempt in the NFL. Why? Who knows, but he probably is just saying stupid shit to be controversial and get the attention he so desperately craves.

Skip was very afraid the Super Bowl would come down to a field goal attempt. The Super Bowl did not come down to a field goal attempt, but I'm sure he is still proud of his trolling abilities.

This shapes up to be the hardest-hitting Super Bowl ever. Here come two teams who pride themselves on imposing steel wills on foes. So it's all-too-possible gifted warriors will battle their guts out for nearly 60 minutes … only to watch a player who doesn't actually play football trot onto the field and decide the outcome.

I think Skip is confusing the Super Bowl with the Dr. Pepper halftime special that takes place during BCS bowl games where contestants try to win scholarship money. The only ones deciding the Super Bowl will be players on the Ravens and 49ers roster.

Yes, the favored San Francisco 49ers' most important player very well could be kicker David Akers, whose psyche now resembles Cajun gumbo.
And Ray Lewis' nearly legendary "Last Ride" could ride on the mental toughness of an undrafted rookie kicker named Justin Tucker.
 
This, NFL fans, is lunacy.

No, it is not. It is the rules. I never realized there was a certain draft position or salary requirement for a player to be able to decide the Super Bowl.

This has been a career-long pet peeve of mine. Why do we blindly accept that the great game of football is often decided by a goofily gimmicky kick between two poles?

Because these are the rules of football.

These kicks count three points? They're attempted by one of the lowest paid members of the team?

These kicks count for three points just like a free throw in basketball counts for one point. Also, salary has nothing to do with the impact a player has a football game.

Even more also, David Akers is the 14th highest paid player on the 49ers team. The following players make less than Akers:

Colin Kaepernick
Aldon Smith
Mike Iupati
Randy Moss
Joe Staley
Tarell Brown
Navorro Bowman
Chris Culliver

So Skip fails in several fronts, including the ability to do basic research and know that David Akers isn't one of the lowest paid members of the 49ers team. His assumption the one of the lowest-paid members of the 49ers team would be deciding the game is false.

We regularly interrupt games to go for a ride on the equivalent of Disney's stomach-in-throat Tower of Terror. The scariest words for any fan are "wide right" or "wide left."

This is part of what makes the game of football exciting. The drama and the fact we don't know whether a kick will be made or missed. Because Skip Bayless lacks the basic writing skills of a fifth grader, he is unaware he is making the case for field goal attempts to stay as part of the NFL game. They are exciting and people enjoy them.

This is why I have long proposed a change that will never, ever happen because it makes too much sense. Give place-kicking the boot.

This is typical Skip Bayless reasoning. We are all idiots because we don't agree with his opinion, which is an opinion that Skip Bayless thinks is a really good opinion. We are stupid because we don't agree with Skip Bayless.

That's right, eliminate it.

You are so controversial and relevant in being controversial. Here is some of the attention you desperately crave.

Fourth-and-5 at the opponent's 25? You have to GO FOR IT. And you keep going for it until you score six points or you're stopped. If you score a touchdown, you always go for the far more exciting two-point conversion.

You say too many games would turn into low-scoring defensive turnoffs? Not if the usual conservative field goal chess matches turned into touchdown shootouts.

And apparently Skip is operating under the assumption that more offense and less defense is better for the NFL, which I am not sure is true. NFL fans like to see scoring, but I believe good defense is also appreciated by NFL fans. Skip state he doesn't think the punt should be eliminated from the NFL game, but if he really wants teams to go for it on fourth down then he should suggest the NFL eliminate the punt.

Who's to say Tom Brady wouldn't have gone on to win those three rings with his arm instead of Adam Vinatieri's leg?

Who's to say he would have? What does it matter? The field goal is an important part of the NFL and the game of football.

And if you don't like your fourth-down odds, you can always punt. No, I would not take the foot completely out of football. I'd keep punting, which doesn't directly impact the scoreboard the way field goals do.

This is all you need to know about Skip Bayless. He thinks field goal kickers should be prevented from making a difference in the outcome of a game because they are low-paid and not real football players, but punters don't have a direct impact on the game (even though they do) so they can stay around even though they are also low-paid and not real football players either. So the low-paid players that have an impact on the game should be removed from the game of football, while the low-paid players that don't have an impact on the game should stay in the game of football...all for the sake of making sure highly-paid players are the only ones who decide important NFL games. Skip clearly favors some sort of bizarre wage-related hierarchy in football.

Punting is an underrated art because of the strategy, skill and athleticism involved.

Punting is an underrated art while place-kicking is an overrated skill. If you think Skip Bayless isn't intentionally trying to start an argument by differentiating so wildly between two kicking skills then you don't know Skip Bayless. This is what he does. This is him trolling.

Punters must catch bullet snaps that sometimes bounce or test their verticals. Then they must aim away from dangerous returners or pierce the wind with low spirals or drop punts into "coffin corners" or stick them nose-first like majestic 2-irons near the goal line.

What Skip leaves out is that punters are often among the lowest-paid members of an NFL team and field goal kickers have to deal with bad snaps messing up their timing, opponents trying to block the kick, wind that affects where the football goes after it is kicked, and the pressure that goes with high-pressure kicks that can decide the outcome of the game.

Just let great football players decide games by, you know, playing football.

And again, to sum up Skip's point of view. Field goal kickers are not football players while punters are football players. If you can see how Skip would consider punting a "lost art" and field goal kicking a useless part of football decided by non-athletes then you probably agree with Skip Bayless and should lash yourself with a belt 20 times. 

Alas, the kicker-as-specialist was born. Gogolak launched a parade of soccer refugees who could outkick Groza or Blanda but who had no chance of making the team at any position. See: Garo Yepremian's hilariously disastrous "pass" in Super Bowl VII.

One time a kicker threw a terrible pass in the Super Bowl, so that means the NFL should outlaw the kicker. Skip does realize, and I know he realizes this but he is trolling, that the punter-as-a-specialist was born around this time as well. Punters are a specialized position and they are as much of a specialized, non-athlete group of football players as kickers are.

The AFL's Buffalo Bills signed Gogolak in 1964, obviously angering the football gods. The NFL's Bills paid with eight seconds left in Super Bowl XXV, trailing the New York Giants 20-19. In trotted Norwood, who missed a 47-yarder, the historically infamous Wide Right.

So Gregg Skip Easterbrook Bayless thinks the Bills lost Super Bowl XXV because they angered the football gods by signing the first kicker? If this were true, which is obviously isn't, would this mean the football gods would be angered at other teams who used kickers? Someone tell New England they should have missed those two game-winning field goals in two separate Super Bowls. Any important kick would miss because the wrathful football gods do not want to justify the use of a field goal kicker in any situation.

Just last season, Akers set the NFL's single-season record for field goals, with 44. In this season's opener at Green Bay, Akers tied the NFL record with a 63-yarder.

BUT SKIP BAYLESS WANTS YOU TO REMEMBER THIS DID NOT TAKE TALENT!

He has missed eight of his past 20 field goals, including his only attempt in the NFC Championship Game at Atlanta.

And this kick could have had an impact on the game, thereby justifying the use of a field goal kicker in the NFL. Arguing the NFL should outlaw field goals because they have too much of an impact on the game is like arguing baseball should outlaw closers because they just pitch one inning and can affect the outcome of a game.

His 31 field goals are best in Eagles playoff history. He made an NFL postseason record 19 in a row. Yet in his final Philly playoff game, at home against Green Bay, Akers missed two of three in a 21-16 loss. 

And this is relevant to why the field goal should be outlawed in what way? Skip is essentially arguing Akers is missing too many field goals and so the NFL should outlaw the field goal because we wouldn't want the 49ers to be denied a Super Bowl victory because of him. It's much better the 49ers are denied a Super Bowl appearance if their backup kick returner fumbles the football twice, since the punting game is all about football, while the kicking game is just a bunch of non-talented assholes kicking the ball through posts...which I guess is also the entire premise of soccer, so I wonder Skip's feelings on that sport?

For teammates, too. I've never talked to a position player who liked field goal kicking playing such a crucial role in football.

In that case, Skip Bayless has talked to maybe 1-2 position players in his lifetime. I can't imagine Skip has never talked with a position player who doesn't mind field goal kicking playing a crucial role in football. Of course there may be very few NFL players willing to talk to Bayless, so that may be the reason Skip has this point of view.

Yet kickers sometimes lose it completely, the way golfers do. See: David Duval.

OUTLAW GOLF! IT'S NOT A SPORT AND THE PARTICIPANTS DON'T MAKE ENOUGH MONEY!

So whom did 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh recently sign to compete with Akers and help snap him out of his slump? Billy Cundiff, who was eventually cut by the Ravens after missing a mere 32-yarder, wide left, that cost his teammates a shot at overtime on the road against the New England Patriots in last year's AFC title game.
Absolute madness.

Craziness. Absurdity.

Cundiff kicked pretty well for the Ravens until he missed this field goal, so the fact an NFL team gives him a look isn't completely unforeseen.

(My friend Feely and I bonded six years ago after I outraged him by dismissing kickers as "unathletic little guys." Feely soon made me eat those words by beating me in a 40-yard dash -- the Giants once timed him at 4.6 seconds, he's a scratch golfer and was a soccer star in high school.

Please remember Skip Bayless is basing this entire article that the field goal should be outlawed on the following premise:

So it's all-too-possible gifted warriors will battle their guts out for nearly 60 minutes … only to watch a player who doesn't actually play football trot onto the field and decide the outcome.

and he would keep punting because:

Punting is an underrated art because of the strategy, skill and athleticism involved.

Now Skip is telling us that Jay Feely beat him in a 40-yard dash and was timed at 4.6 in the 40-yard dash. Don't worry, Skip is about to get a whole lot more stupid in making his argument.

He, Akers and Justin Tucker -- a receiver and defensive back at Texas powerhouse Austin Westlake High -- lead the new breed of athletic kickers.

So Skip Bayless is making the argument the Super Bowl could be decided by guys who aren't real football players like David Akers and Justin Tucker, then tells us that Akers and Tucker are the new breed of athletic kicker and Tucker was actually defensive back and receiver in high school. Doesn't this make him a "real" football player in some way? So basically, these guys are real football players who have chosen to kick in the NFL.

Yet even though Feely claims Tom Coughlin once told him he was the Giants' backup backup safety, obviously none of these guys could make it as anything but a kicker.

Well obviously, since it supports your point of view, none of these kickers could do anything but be a kicker in the NFL. A logical person would say they could also be punters, as long as they had the athletic ability to be a punter of course. There is such a huge difference in the athletic ability of a punter and a field goal kicker I bet Feely, Akers or Tucker couldn't cut it as a punter. Nevermind when a team's punter goes down, the non-athlete, non-football playing field goal kicker is usually the backup. This will just serve to ruin Skip's point that field goal kickers have less talent than punters and cause us to dismiss his attempts to troll us all.

Here's the kicker to this insanity: NFL teams won't spend much money and rarely spend high draft picks on what arguably can be the second most valuable player to the quarterback.

Teams also tend not to spend high draft picks on punters, yet they are considered by Skip to be the very essence of a football player. My attempts to argue rationally are going to fail. This is the nature of Skip's trolling. I can poke 100 holes in his argument, but he keeps coming back with a straw man argument and steadily raising his voice while failing to see or acknowledge the inherent contradictions in his thought process. Much of the criticism he has for field goal kickers is also true for punters, but Skip isn't trying to get rid of punting, so he fails to see his arguments for eliminating the field goal kicker can also extend to eliminating the punter. After all, Skip is all about going for it on fourth down and what better way to do that then eliminate the opportunity for a team to punt?

The first "big" free-agent deal awarded a kicker, in 2005, was what it cost Indianapolis to pry Vinatieri away from the Patriots: $3.5 million to sign and $2.5 million a year for three years. Laughably little.

The record contract for a punter (Michael Koenan) is 6 years $19.5 million. Sebastian Janikowski has the record contract for a field goal kicker at 4 years $16 million with $9 million guaranteed. Hey, if Skip can use a small sample size to prove his point, then I can use a small sample size to disprove his point.

Yet this season's average kicker salary is an astonishingly low $1.97 million. Ready for this? Tucker, who nailed the 47-yarder that eliminated Peyton Manning in Denver in overtime, rakes in all of $390,000.

He's an undrafted rookie and if he keeps kicking like he has then he should earning much more money after the next couple of seasons. Also, I wonder what the average salary of a punter is? I'm guessing it wouldn't be much more than $1.97 million, if not less than that amount. But again, Skip wants to throw the punter comparison out there and then no longer compare field goal kickers to punters when it doesn't support his point of view.

Tucker had a rock-solid rookie year -- making 30 of 33 field goals, including 4-of-4 from 50-plus yards. Yet in the third game, at home against New England, what if his last-second chip shot had been correctly called by the replacement ref? On replays it sure looked wide right. How permanently would his psyche have been damaged if his 27-yarder had lost instead of won that game?

Well, based on speculation that supports Skip's point of view, this would ruin Justin Tucker forever and further explain why the field goal must be eliminated from the game of football. Instead in this situation, Joe Flacco should have had to try score a touchdown to win the game, rather than rely on a field goal kick. That's more like the game of football should be to Skip Bayless, even though it never has been that way.

Please, America, stand up and support me on this. At least let's outlaw field goals in the final two minutes or five minutes or in fourth quarters.

How about eliminating field goals between the nine and five minute mark in each quarter? No wait, how about eliminating field goals between the 20 and 23-yard line? How about not allowing a field goal kicker who has missed a field goal attempt earlier in the game to attempt another field goal? What other randomly-placed rules can we think of as related to field goals?

Better still, give 'em the permanent boot. I dread watching Akers go Norwood.

So Skip's basic argument is that he doesn't want to watch a field goal kicker miss a kick. How is this different from a special teams player missing a block and causing one of the uber-athletic punters to have his punt blocked? How is a field goal kicker missing a kick different from a punt returner dropping a punt or not getting out of the way of a punted ball which is recovered by the opposing team? We wouldn't want the field goal kicker to ruin every other more highly-paid player's good work during the game...which is assuming every highly-paid player did good work during the game. Here's a better idea, why don't we give Skip Bayless the boot?