Thursday, October 31, 2013

4 comments Gregg Easterbrook Says It Is Okay to Be Wrong, Which Means Gregg Easterbrook is Very, Very, Very Okay

Gregg Easterbrook tried to figure out what was wrong with Peyton Manning last week in TMQ and came to the conclusion he just doesn't play well in big games nor in the playoffs. Of course other great quarterbacks don't play well in the playoffs too, but Peyton is different from them because Gregg wants Peyton to be different from them. Gregg also criticized television shows for lack of accuracy, of course, and rambled about politics/bodyguards for politicians/etc. This week Gregg wants to know if the Chiefs are for real, talks about the bird population and and admits he was wrong but doesn't feel he should change his behavior or stop making stupid predictions like writing "game over" in a notebook.

They've gone from worst to first. Kansas City, laughingstock of 2012, is the sole undefeated remaining in 2013. But are the Chiefs for real?

I don't know. It's almost like the rest of the NFL season will determine the answer to this question. By the way, any followup on the 49ers and how the read-option isn't working anymore? I'm just wondering since it's been over a month since Gregg said air was leaking from the 49ers balloon and the 49ers haven't lost a game since that time.

Stretching back to his time in San Francisco, quarterback Alex Smith hasn't lost a game as the starter in more than a year. There is athletic talent aplenty, including five Chiefs elected to the 2012 Pro Bowl (and a sixth added later), and Eric Fisher, the No. 1 choice of the 2013 draft.

Yeah, but highly drafted players like Alex Smith and Eric Fisher are just glory boys who only care about themselves, right? So how can they be helping the Chiefs team win games? How about the talent aplenty on the roster, including the six Chiefs that made the Pro Bowl? Here are their draft positions...

Jamaal Charles- 3rd round
Tamba Hali- 1st round
Justin Houston- 3rd round
Derrick Johnson- 1st round
Eric Berry- 1st round
Dustin Colquitt- 3rd round

So the next time Gregg starts criticizing first round draft picks or highly-drafted glory boys as compared to undrafted players, just remember he thinks the Chiefs and their 2013 Pro Bowl representatives have talent aplenty, and no 2013 AFC Pro Bowl representative of the Chiefs was drafted later than the 3rd round.

These are full-season results: the Chiefs have six more victories after a half-season. They are sure to keep climbing.

But -- and you've already guessed a "but" was coming.

Well, of course. Gregg has to play both sides of this issue so that way he can later quote himself as being right no matter whether the Chiefs win 12 games or don't win another game. Being right is the most important thing.

The offensive line has allowed 24 sacks, close to the league-worst 32 allowed by Miami. Smith has a pedestrian 82.1 quarterback rating, lower than Jake Locker or the benched Michel Vick.

Apparently Michel Vick is the French version of the Eagles quarterback Michael Vick. 

But factor out the Chiefs, and Kansas City opponents are a combined 20-33. Kansas City victories have been posted against Jacksonville, Dallas, Philadelphia, Jersey/A, Houston, Oakland, Cleveland -- all among the league's problem children.

Gregg has got this being played both ways very well. If the Chiefs struggle in the second half of the season he can say it is because of their schedule, and he was right, or if the Chiefs don't struggle Gregg can point out what a great quarterback Alex Smith is and note how Gregg stated Smith was the best acquisition of the offseason, and he was right.

The Chiefs go home-and-home versus the Broncos twice in three weeks. After then, we will know whether Kansas City is for real -- or is the Baylor of the NFL.

Kansas City as the Baylor of the NFL really doesn't make a ton of sense. Baylor is being accused of dominating inferior competition, while the Chiefs are undefeated (like Baylor) but they aren't dominating inferior competition, but are merely winning games against teams that aren't very good. So the comparison really falters for me because the Chiefs aren't dominating the competition like Baylor has done for the most part.

In an attempt to cope with the outpouring of stats from the Mile High City, TMQ debuts Denver's Own Personal Stats of the Week. Here is the killer stat line: the Broncos are 7-1, have outscored opponents by 125 points, and if the season ended today, would be a wild-card team.

There's a reason the season doesn't end today. Of course the Broncos would be a wild-card team because of the "Peyton Paradox" where Manning is capable of winning 12 games in a season but he just can't win the "big" games that Gregg has cherry-picked as being "big" games in order to prove his point that there is such a thing as the "Peyton Paradox."

In Philadelphia's last two outings, the Eagles' offense has scored a mere three points, while punting 15 times and committing six turnovers. Quarterback injuries have been a problem -- but Kelly's offense exposes the quarterback to injures, which many NFL veterans warned the incoming Eagles coach about.

To be fair to Chip Kelly, Mike Vick (or Michel Vick, as he's known to Gregg) is usually injured and neither Matt Barkley nor Nick Foles seem like they are capable NFL starters or capable of running Kelly's offense. So Kelly's offense has failed in the NFL so far, but I'm going to reserve some judgment considering this is Kelly's first season in the NFL and he may not have the personnel he wants to run the offense effectively.

Stats of the Week No. 3: Carolina outscored its last three opponents by 96-38.

Carolina's last three opponents are 4-18 on the season. They are beating up on inferior opponents.

Stats of the Week No. 10: The Giants are 2-6, have committed 25 turnovers, and are two games out of first.

Much like how many points the Broncos have scored, how many turnovers the Giants have committed isn't relevant to how many games out of first they are. Instead, this number is relevant to the number of games the Giants have won and how far out of first the Giants are shows us how good the rest of the NFC East is.

Miami general manager Jeff Ireland's offseason decision to wave goodbye to left tackle Jake Long looks worse all the time -- Miami allowed six sacks at New England, and is last in the NFL in sacks allowed.

Doesn't Gregg mean "highly-drafted glory boy, unwanted" #1 overall draft pick Jake Long?

Ireland's decision to wave goodbye to  Reggie Bush isn't exactly looking genius-class, either. 

Doesn't Gregg mean "highly-drafted glory boy, unwanted" #2 overall draft pick Reggie Bush?

As for the 'Boys -- they continue to play as if uncoached. Early in the contest, Calvin Johnson took a routine short slant pass 87 yards as Dallas safety Barry Church air-tackled and other members of the Cowboys secondary jogged.

It also helps that a Lions player seemed to hold a Cowboys player on this play which didn't help the Cowboys chance of catching Calvin Johnson.

Then Detroit scored on fourth-and-goal from the Dallas 2 when Johnson ran the same slant on the same side of the field, with the 'Boys secondary basically just watching him. Sour performance.

It's the two-yard line. If Johnson runs a slant then there isn't much time for the Cowboys secondary to do anything but watch him catch the touchdown pass. Once the Cowboys cornerback wasn't able to prevent Johnson from catching the football, the rest of the Cowboys secondary didn't have time to react before Johnson scored a touchdown from two yards out. 

Now it's Dallas leading 27-24 with 2:38 remaining, Detroit at that point holding two timeouts, the 'Boys facing third-and-12 on their 23. A first down obviously would be nice, but an incompletion would stop the clock -- better to rush and force Detroit to spend a timeout. Instead Dallas coaches radio in a pass attempt; incompletion, the clock stops. Detroit would score the winning touchdown with 12 ticks showing. Had Dallas simply run up the middle for no gain at 2:38, the Cowboys likely would have won the game.

So it's "likely" the Cowboys would have won the game in this situation? The Lions would not have called timeout and then possibly adjusted their play-calling on the next drive and then gone the length of the field for a game-tying field or a game-winning touchdown? Gregg can't seem to understand when you change one variable in a situation then another variable will change also. It's entirely possible if the Cowboys had run the ball here, then Detroit would have called timeout and adjusted their play-calling on the following drive to account for having one timeout instead of two timeouts.

Lions stuck back on their 37, out of timeouts, needing a touchdown. Where oh where might the pass go? Maybe up the field! Flanker Kris Durham runs a basic up pattern and blows past corner Orlando Scandrick. Stafford looks right toward Calvin Johnson, whom you may have heard of, then throws back left to Durham for a 40-yard gain, the drive's big play. Not only was Scandrick making the high school mistake of looking into the backfield trying to guess the play, rather than just cover his man,

So Scandrick wasn't covering his man like he was supposed to do as dictated by the defensive play-call? That's Gregg's story in the beginning of this sentence.

but defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin appeared to have called a Cover 2 that required the corners to watch for short passes, when the play absolutely had to go up the field. 

So Monte Kiffin called a defensive play that required the corners to play the short routes? That's Gregg's new story at the end of this sentence. So either Scandrick let Durham by him because he was looking in the backfield or because that's what the defensive play-call required of him. It can't be both. So which is it, Gregg?

Perhaps Scandrick wasn't really looking in the backfield trying to guess the play (which is Gregg's standard reasoning given for why a cornerback lets his man behind him, regardless of whether it was true or not) and it was the defensive play-call that required Scandrick to cover the short routes. I realize Gregg has no clue that a defensive player must follow the defensive play-call made and can't simply choose to do whatever he wants on the field, but Gregg's criticism of Scandrick for not following Durham and allowing Durham behind him means Gregg expected Scandrick to completely ignore the defensive play-call and just do whatever the hell he wanted to do while on defense.

So maybe Scandrick wasn't making a mistake and was simply executing the defensive play-call, which is his job. Coaches tend to not look favorably on a cornerback who ignores the play-call.

When Detroit reached the 1 and was about to snap, Dallas could have called time then. Instead Dallas never stopped to regroup: presumably the unused timeouts can be donated to charity.

This joke was somewhat clever the first time Gregg said it and has gotten progressively less and less clever each time he says it, to the point now it's irritating me.

Fake blood note: Brad Pitt's "World War Z" was originally marketed as sci-fi. The Wall Street Journal reports that Paramount is now calling "World War Z" a "horror film," because that definition makes it the highest-grossing movie in a genre.

As usual, Gregg is misleading his readers here. "World War Z" wasn't marketed as a science-fiction film only. It was marketed as a zombie film that crosses several genres. Roger Ebert's old site said the film was in the genres "science fiction," "horror," "action," "drama," and "thriller." If you notice, Rotten Tomatoes reviewers can't decide on a genre for the film either. It's called a "zombie movie" and an "action-thriller." So perhaps the definition of "horror" makes it the highest-grossing movie for marketing purposes, but "World War Z" was never marketed as just a "science fiction" film.

Half a century ago, Rachel Carson's famed book "Silent Spring" predicted the extinction of North American bird life -- thus a silent spring, without chirping. Now the New York Times warns the ever-rising North American bird population is an increasing hazard to aviation.

In your face, Rachel Carson you stupid hippie whore! Gregg Easterbrook just completely owned you. Joke is on you for predicting something fifty years ago that didn't come true.

Carson's predictions were wrong because her work helped inspire environmental reforms that prevented the calamity she foresaw.

Which was probably her intent in writing "Silent Spring," so I'm not sure if that makes Rachel Carson wrong or just really, really right.

Declining toxins are probably a reason cancer deaths are down. Greenhouse gas emissions continue unabated, but most other environmental indicators -- declining smog and acid rain, improving water quality and forest health -- have been positive for decades. Regardless, voters tell pollsters they think the environment is getting worse. If misconceptions rule on issues like bird populations and air quality, where the evidence is all around us, how will the nation ever to come to grips with abstractions like the federal debt?

That's a great question. If Gregg Easterbrook questions why Orlando Scandrick didn't cover Calvin Johnson running deep when there is evidence that wasn't what the play-call called for him to do, how will Gregg ever understand abstractions like NFL teams run zone and man defenses?

The Golden Tate knucklehead move will be universally mocked -- if you haven't mocked Tate yet, hurry to do so before all the slots are taken. TMQ will just ask: How often has anyone on a Super Bowl-caliber team done anything comparable?

You mean other than Cowboys defensive lineman Leon Lett holding the ball out and celebrating before he scored a touchdown during the Super Bowl, the same Super Bowl the Cowboys went on to easily win? Never. This has never happened before on a Super Bowl-caliber team.

The Rams -- how can anyone take seriously an NFL team that has reached the halfway point of the season and not scored a rushing touchdown?

As a reminder, Peter King was too focused on the Rams awesome and exciting draft to bother being worried about the Rams ability to protect their quarterback, their talent at the safety positions and the fact they had no proven running backs on the roster to help keep the pressure off Sam Bradford. This has nothing to do with what Gregg said, even though it is sort of dumb to say because a team hasn't gotten a rushing touchdown they can't be taken seriously. It just could mean the Rams have a bad short-yardage running game or have a really good quarterback who throws the ball more often than hand the ball off near the goal line. So as a general rule, Gregg's comment is kind of dumb, but the Rams really don't have a great running game and this needs to improve in the offseason.

The visiting Seahawks practically begged to be beaten, and the hosts refused. Yes, St. Louis has injuries. In the NFL, everybody has injuries.

An injury to the starting quarterback isn't just an injury. It's an injury that alters how an NFL team run its offense and how the offense utilizes certain offensive players. Yes, there is a reason teams have backups, but the Seahawks have a really good defense and the fact the Rams were starting their backup quarterback is an excuse for losing that is somewhat justified. Perhaps the Rams should have a better backup quarterback...but that's a different discussion.

For its part, Virginia Tech is no slouch in either category. The Duke at Virginia Tech contest paired a 6-1 top-division team with a 78 percent football graduation rate against a 5-2 top-division team with a 92 percent football graduation rate. That's exactly what college football needs -- games between major winning programs that both have graduation rates to be proud of. Yet if any sportscasters, including ESPNU's announcers, mentioned the two colleges' graduation rates, I missed it.

Again, it would be nice if the announcers mentioned each team's graduation rate, but it isn't their responsibility to talk about a team's graduation rate when they are announcing a college football game. What is happening on the football field is their responsibility to explain to the audience.

Comedy of Errors in Philadelphia: The Eagles' crowd steadily booed Michel Vick -- but then, that crowd had sat through nine consecutive home defeats, which was about to become 10. Eagles cheerleaders,

I'm still confused as to who this "Michel Vick" guy is. I thought at first it was Michael Vick's French cousin, but it could just be that Gregg Easterbrook is making the same spelling error over and over.

A terrible won-loss record should not be held against a high school coach, since winning games is just one of several things a high school coach should accomplish -- helping boys become men should be the essence of the high-school coach's role.

Then there are those high school coaches who are helping boys become men in more personal facets of their life and these high school coaches should be fired immediately.

Big-college programs are too quick to fire head coaches for losing.

Tell that to boosters who hate sinking money into a losing program. Tell that to an athletic director who relies on income from the football program to help fund the other sports on campus. It's not as simple as saying, "this coach loses games, but he graduates players, so let's keep him around." Other athletic programs at the school are helped with the income from the football program and crappy football programs have the potential to not produce as much money as a winning program. So big-college programs will fire a head coach quickly for losing because in college sports, due to the recruitment cycle, it can take a couple of years to turn a losing program around. Losing programs don't generate as much revenue as winning programs.

But at the NFL level, there is clarity of purpose -- all that matters is winning. NFL teams are entertainment organizations that do not serve any larger role in society. Losing isn't entertaining. It is perfectly fair to toss an NFL head coach out the door for a bad year.

It's also perfectly fair to toss a losing college head coach out the door for a bad year as well. A college football coach is hired to win football games and graduate players. If he sucks at winning football games then the school should find a coach who can do both.

TMQ's Law of Short Yardage holds: Do a little dance if you want to gain that yard.

Calling this a "law" would indicate it is something every team should do and not that Gregg only cherry-picks the times when a team doesn't use motion and then gets stopped in short-yardage. Carolina picked up a first down on fourth-and-short without using a fancy formation or doing a dance against the Buccaneers this past week, but Gregg conveniently leaves this out.

The trips receivers ran a double pick while the extra lineman provided blitz blocking. The result? A touchdown to an uncovered tight end cutting behind the combo move. Denver's Virgil Green could have been flagged for offensive pass interference as he pushed a defender out of the path of the primary receiver.

So apparently a team should do a little dance and then try to get away with a penalty to convert on on short yardage.

Misdirection pulls tend not to work in high school play, because young defenders only watch for the ball. NFL defenders watch the offensive line for cues. A tactic that doesn't work on kids may work on adults.

It also happens that some linebacker's and defensive linemen's job on a certain defensive play-call is to take out the pulling offensive linemen to free up another defensive player to make the tackle.

Panthers leading 7-3 at hapless City of Tampa, left guard Travelle Wharton pulled right. The defense reacted and followed Wharton, expecting a trap run in the direction he was moving. Tailback DeAngelo Williams ran left, away from the line motion, nearly untouched for a 12-yard touchdown.

It makes sense the Buccaneers defense reacted to the pulling guard in this situation because if they waited another second to react and Williams was running right then he would be past the line of scrimmage by the time they figured out the play wasn't misdirection. It's often the job of the outside linebacker, cornerback and defensive end on the opposite side of the play to hold containment on the outside and guarantee the running back doesn't cut back to the left. So the Buccaneers defense should have gone to fill the hole that Wharton was pulling to (seemingly) create, because if they did not then Williams would have had a touchdown to the right instead of the left had he been running right. It was the job of the defenders on the opposite side of the play to ensure Williams didn't cut back to the left.

Also, if Gregg actually watched the game he would see that DeAngelo Williams broke two tackles on his way to the end zone. It wasn't just the misdirection that caused the touchdown, but also Williams' ability to break attempted tackles by defensive players assigned to hold containment and prevent the running back from cutting back that led to Williams rushing for a touchdown.

Dewey Beats Truman, TMQ Reports: With a minute to go, the Lions looked so beaten I jumped the gun and admitted them to the 500 Club. Then I retracted the tweet rather than delete. My view is Internet errors should be corrected, but should not vanish:

Or in the case of what Gregg proclaims in TMQ, Internet errors should just be ignored completely and instead the writer should only focus on the predictions he has gotten correct.

It's OK to be wrong once in a while -- trust me, I have plenty of experience! -- so long as you admit it.

Oh really? So the air is out of the 49ers balloon huh? The read-option has been figured out by NFL defenses and the 49ers should have kept Alex Smith over Colin Kaepernick too. Where's the admitting you were wrong about that column? Not to mention, Gregg wrote two years ago that NFL defenses catch up to NFL offenses in November and this year Gregg has written like NFL defenses are never catching up to NFL offenses and the explosive offensive numbers are here to stay. One of these positions has to be wrong.

The Peyton Paradox: Last week TMQ noted that Peyton Manning has an admirable regular-season record but a losing postseason record. Readers including Marylou Jenkens of Omaha, Neb., noted that because playoff teams are as a group stronger than regular-season opponents -- there are no Jaguars A&M-class playoff opponents -- one would expect a quarterback to do better in the regular season than postseason. Reader Kirk Taylor of Summerville, S.C., broke it down further: "Only one in 12 playoff teams each postseason will escape without a loss. More than half the teams that start the postseason end it with a losing playoff record -- if you lose the first game, you don't get another chance for a win to balance it out. Only about one team in three that reaches the postseason will end the playoffs with a record over .500."

I guess the "Peyton Paradox" should be called "Useless Bullshit Theory Created by Gregg Easterbrook Based on the Result of One Game Where He Makes an Observation, Does Zero Research Regarding the Truth of This Observation and Then Writes a Column Creating a Paradox Where No Paradox Lies."

The 1,000 Club: It's more exclusive than the Trilateral Commission. It's harder to get in than Nikki Beach Club on South Beach on a Saturday night. Reader Craig McMichael notes that in juco action, in a road game at College of the Redwoods, Mendocino College gained 1,041 yards on offense, scored 10 touchdowns, did not punt, and lost.

But how could a team that doesn't punt lose a football game when punting inspires a team to play better and tells that team the head coach is playing to win the game? This goes against all Gregg Easterbrook has told us about punting and the effect it has on a football team.

TMQ has nothing against Florida State. But assuming current trends hold -- Oregon must play Stanford, FSU faces Miami of Florida -- if the BCS title pairing isn't Ducks versus Tide, best offense versus best defense, a wonderful game will be lost.

Actually, Baylor averages more points per game, more yards per game, and more first downs per game than Oregon. So the best offense versus the best defense would be Baylor v. Alabama. Facts, they are so tricky!

Next Week: Tuesday Morning Quarterback wonders again what he wondered at the season's start -- will the NFC East be won by a losing team?

Well, the last time a losing team made the playoffs (Seattle) they won a playoff game, so I'm not seeing as how it matters. Actually, it doesn't matter, because Gregg Easterbrook isn't answering this question next week anyway.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

4 comments Bruce Jenkins Smells a Conspiracy Surrounding Jason Collins

I kind of figured this was going to happen when Jason Collins came out of the closet back in May. He's currently not employed by an NBA team. His statistics from last season were 1.1 ppg, 1.6 rpg, 0.2 apg, 2.2 fouls per game in 10 mpg. That's right, if Collins played a full 48 minute game he would be on pace for just below 10.5 fouls per game. Also, Collins is 34 years old and will be 35 in December. He's old and unproductive, which isn't a great combination when it comes to wanting to continue an NBA career. Jason Collins is currently unsigned and is a free agent. Bruce Jenkins suggests Collins is unsigned because he is gay. There's no way to know for sure why Collins isn't signed, but even if he had not come out as gay then I would imagine he would have difficulty finding a job in the NBA given his statistics for the 12-13 season.

There was a similar issue recently in the NFL concerning Kerry Rhodes (who has not come out as being gay and it doesn't matter if he is gay...the perception is out there so there will be those who assume he isn't under contract with an NFL team because he is gay) and how he isn't signed by an NFL team. Jason Lisk of the Big Lead did a great job debunking this conspiracy. Rhodes is older, had certain salary demands and Quintin Mikell (a younger and more productive safety) wasn't signed until September. These are three explanations that don't require a lot of reaching to explain Rhodes being a free agent. I think the case with Jason Collins is easier. He's older and unproductive. That's it. Of course Bruce Jenkins sees more than that.

As teams prepare for the opening of training camp next month, time is running out on Jason Collins' chance to become the NBA's first openly gay active player.
If this historic milestone is bypassed, there will be no accountability, no villains, just an opportunity shamefully missed.

I'm torn on this issue. While I understand the importance behind an actively gay player on the court and playing against his fellow NBA players, I also have to wonder if the opportunity hasn't been missed in other ways outside of Jason Collins being on the court. What's wrong with the NBA hiring Jason Collins in a position they can create to foster awareness and help to break down stereotypes about gay athletes? Wouldn't this be beneficial like having Collins on the court as an active player? The NBA would be making a statement by hiring Collins and he could create awareness among all NBA teams as opposed to just creating awareness among the players on his current team and whichever opponent that team is playing on a nightly basis.

So I don't think the opportunity has to be missed. The NBA would have to step in (and we all know the NBA and David Stern has shown itself to be hands-on in the past) and say, "If no one will make Collins an active gay NBA player, then we will hire him." So I don't completely blame NBA teams for the opportunity being missed. It's on the NBA as well. But of course, David Stern is perfect and doesn't make mistakes so I'm completely wrong.

It was widely assumed he'd land somewhere as an unrestricted free agent to continue his career.

Not really. He is old and unproductive. He is excellent at committing fouls though.

Four months later, the wait drags on. The league faces unflattering introspection and a public-relations disaster if Collins goes unsigned. The gay community will not hide its extreme disappointment.

Bruce, I know. Those "gays." Always getting extremely disappointed and going off to cry like gay people do. It's not like any social movement has helped turn a setback into a way to further call attention to the movement's cause and successfully turned a negative into a positive.

And the worst of it is, we won't know exactly why. 

Without question, homophobia will be at the core of some teams' rejection.

Yeah, maybe. It could also be the fact Collins is 34 years old and not a very good NBA player. Look at the current free agent list in the NBA.  There are younger, more productive centers that haven't been signed by a team yet, so the idea a 34 year old center who averaged just over a point per game last year remains unsigned isn't too shocking. Look at the list and count how many players, even centers, you would take over signing Jason Collins. Professionalism in the locker room can only go so far.

So the idea of an unproductive center still remaining a free agent isn't unheard of. Ask DeSagana Diop. Possibly part of it is a team doesn't want all the publicity they will receive to sign the 11th or 12th man off the bench. Maybe it would be a smart PR move to sign Jason Collins, but it would also bring attention (the fear of the excessive attention is the issue, not the reason behind the attention) for a team to sign a player who will play sparingly. It's possibly not homophobia, but the fear of unwanted attention that could cause NBA teams to shy away from Jason Collins...assuming they would like to sign him as opposed to the other younger, more productive centers on the free agent market.

This is much of the same reason Tim Tebow remains unsigned by an NFL team. It's not because NFL teams don't like him as a person, but it's too much drama around him to justify signing him to be the backup or third-string quarterback.

Fear and prejudice remain evil partners in every aspect of American society, leaving Collins as that brave individual who dares become a pioneer.

This is usually how this type of writing goes. The writer wants to reach a conclusion in order to explain an issue. Unfortunately, that conclusion is one of many possibilities or explanations for that issue, but the writer chooses to go ahead and ignore the other possibilities and then runs off at the keyboard pretending his conclusion is the only real possibility. That's what Bruce Jenkins is doing here. Sure, Collins remaining a free agent could be explained by his lack of productivity and age, but that explanation certainly doesn't help Bruce Jenkins write a column.

It's possible, however, that NBA teams are making judgments based strictly on talent and/or financial restrictions. The league's increasingly oppressive luxury-tax constraints have become a major issue, and because the 34-year-old Collins is of limited value - a defense-and-rebounding presence off the very end of the bench - teams have legitimately addressed their concerns with younger, cheaper, more valuable players.

One thing I love about modern sportswriters are those sportswriters who will write down, in an eloquent and convincing fashion, the opposing point of view. Then the sportswriter will absolutely ignore this opposing point of view and how this point of view is very convincing, while being completely unable to counter this point of view. It's as if Bruce Jenkins thinks because he acknowledges that Collins is expensive and non-productive then his mere mention of these facts is the counter to these facts being the real reason no NBA team has signed Collins. This isn't how it works. To create a strong counter-argument as a writer you actually have to counter the argument you are attempting to refute. Mentioning the opposing point of view and then just moving on only goes to show how weak your argument may be.

The Bay Area is a haven for tolerance and understanding, and team president Rick Welts, one of the league's most respected executives, is the highest-ranking openly gay man in American sports.

The fact that Rick Welts wouldn't sign Jason Collins I think speaks to the real reason Collins hasn't been signed by an NBA team. Sure, Welts would love to support a cause he believes in, but he isn't going to support the cause if it doesn't improve his team.

It's not known how coach Mark Jackson truly felt about adding Collins, given his less-than-jubilant reaction to Collins' announcement: "We live in a country that allows you to be whoever you want to be. As a Christian man, I have beliefs of what's right and what's wrong. That being said, I know Jason Collins. I know his family. And certainly I'm praying for them at this time."

It's absolutely outrageous that Mark Jackson's point of view may not be the same point of view of Bruce Jenkins. How dare Mark Jackson have an opinion that Bruce Jenkins doesn't find to be socially acceptable!

I doubt if Jackson would have blocked the path to progress if it meant improvement on the court. 

And herein might lie the answer as to why Jason Collins doesn't have an NBA job. It may not be bigotry or the fear of a homosexual in the locker room, but it very well could be based entirely on performance (or lack thereof).

There's an element of blatant desperation on the big-man front, considering that Miami gambled on Greg Oden - who hasn't played since 2010 in the wake of five major knee surgeries - 

Comparing the risk the Heat took on Greg Oden to Jason Collin is very misleading. Greg Oden has the skill set to be a starting center in the NBA and the Heat only took a one year risk on Oden. There is desperation on the big man front, but Oden has a high ceiling if he is able to stay healthy that Jason Collins simply does not have. That's why the Heat signed Oden, because if he is healthy from his knee injuries he provides skills that Jason Collins doesn't possess.

and Houston signed 39-year-old Marcus Camby.

In nearly the same amount of minutes per game, Camby had superior statistics over Jason Collins in nearly ever category. It's close, but Camby was better.

Assuming Collins is in shape - he's been working out regularly in Los Angeles, while avoiding interviews - there's no reason he couldn't help a contending team, and he has long been known as a strong, much-admired presence in the locker room.

I'd love to know from Bruce Jenkins which contending team should sign Jason Collins and would like to know which player this contending team signed instead. I've already established Greg Oden is a much better player than Collins when healthy and Marcus Camby is a slight step-up from Collins for the Rockets. Of course, we don't get an idea from Bruce on which contending team should sign Collins, but he knows one contending should sign him.

But as Collins' Atlanta Hawks went up against Orlando in the first round of the 2011 Eastern Conference playoffs, Collins' work on Dwight Howard was a major story line.

That was almost three years ago when Collins guarded Dwight Howard in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Committing fouls at a rate of 10.5 for every 48 minutes means Jason Collins isn't exactly built to stop Dwight Howard at this present time.

"The key was not just that he limited Howard's points and periodically got him out of the game entirely with his penchant for drawing charging fouls," wrote John Hollinger on ESPN.com, "but that his single coverage took away Orlando's three-point game." Stan Van Gundy, the Magic's coach at the time, called it "the best defense on Howard all year. He didn't even get good shots. Collins is big, he's physical, and he doesn't give Dwight anything easy."

I'm not saying an NBA team should not sign Jason Collins, but stating Collins should be signed by an NBA team because nearly three years ago he played 85 minutes in a six game playoff against Dwight Howard and "held" Howard to 27 ppg and 15 rpg is ridiculous. After all of the positive comments that flowed from Van Gundy and Hollinger about Collins' play during that series, the fact remains that Howard shot almost 15 free throws per game and put up 27 points and 15 rebounds per game in the series. So I'm sure Collins played Howard physically but he in no way shut Howard down.

(Atlanta won the series in six games.)

All because of Jason Collins and that's why three years later it is mystifying no NBA team has signed him?

It seems imperative that Collins sign before the start of the season, as a full-time roster member. Teams signing him to a 10-day, midseason contract would only become vulnerable to nasty speculation if the arrangement didn't work out. And it certainly doesn't help that a couple of teams (Detroit and New Jersey) were interested, according to published reports, only to back off.

It's not just on NBA teams to sign Collins, the NBA could offer him a position within the NBA if they chose to do that. Maybe the NBA has done this, I don't know, but there are other ways for an openly gay player to make an impact on athletics despite not being an active player. I don't know why Jason Collins isn't signed, but his performance on the court certainly gives an indication part (or all) of the reason is performance-based.

This is David Stern's final season, certain to be all about his legacy and contributions to the game. Employing an openly gay man would mark a signature stroke, never to lose its impact.

Then David Stern should offer Jason Collins a job with the NBA. Help foster awareness and make sure there is an openly gay NBA employee if there can't be an openly gay NBA player. 

There's no way of knowing if there is a conspiracy to keep Jason Collins off an NBA roster as an active player, but taking a look at Collins' statistics and age certainly gives a good indication as to why teams may not be banging down the door to sign him.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

8 comments MMQB Review: Matthew Stafford is So Different Now, Except for He Probably Isn't

Peter King told us last week the Colts had a little Luck (DO YOU STILL GET IT?) in beating the Broncos during Week 7. Peter also was concerned the Rams would not get enough attention because the Cardinals had a home game in the World Series, as well as continued his trend towards overreacting to what happened the weekend before by handing the AFC West to the Kansas City Chiefs and giving the Broncos an AFC Wild Card spot. Peter can hear us scoffing at him now, but less than 50% of the season had been played at that point, so the playoff seeding is nearly set. This week Peter talks about Matthew Stafford "coming of age" (which means, "Calvin Johnson had a great receiving day"...sort of), goes through the comments section of MMQB for responses to the MMQB (not the MMQB, but THE MMQB) articles about concussions, and relays a story from Robert Klemko about really weird Japanese people. Peter also continues his trend of seeing what happened over the past weekend and then reacting as if this event from the past weekend is a definite long-term trend.

Two months down, two to go. Time flies when you’re having fun. The Lions had some fun Sunday, and the resurgent Staffords will lead the column …

So I guess since the Lions won a game this past weekend over Dallas this means the Bears and Packers going to be fighting for a Wild Card spot after the Lions win the NFC North division.

but some headlines first:

Absolutely not. Let's talk about how Stafford is a great quarterback now based on the fact he made a really heads-up play at the end of the game on Sunday, had as many turnovers as touchdowns and threw for 488 yards with 329 of those yards going to one receiver.

Mike Pouncey might want to get lawyered up. As Pete Thamel and Greg A. Bedard reported Sunday night, the Massachusetts state police served the Miami Dolphins center with a Grand Jury subpoena after his game in Foxboro Sunday. “What’s this about?’’ Pouncey said when a gray-suited officer handed him the papers. It created a strange scene outside the Dolphins’ locker room at Gillette Stadium, with stunned team officials totally blindsided. Pouncey, too, evidently had no idea what was coming.

I think it would be fair to say the officer "pounced" on him, no?

Just like Clark Griswold’s Jelly of the Month Club present, the Kansas City quarterback brought more joy to two fan bases Sunday. In lifting the Chiefs to a 23-17 victory over Cleveland at home, Smith continued KC’s perfect (8-0) season.

Alex Smith continued the Chiefs perfect season by holding the Browns to 340 total yards and accumulating a massive 331 yards for the Chiefs offense. He's a winning winner who only wins. He's an efficient quarterback, as seen by his completion percentage of 59.1% which is good for 24th in the NFL, his yards per attempt of 6.28 which is good for 29th in the NFL, his quarterback rating of 82.1 which is good for 18th in the NFL, and his yards per game passing of 224 which is good for 23rd in the NFL. Smith has done all of this against such difficult teams like the Jags, Texans, Eagles, Giants, Titans, Raiders and Browns. Smith has been his usual average self against some really below-average competition, so kudos to him.

If you can't see through all that sarcasm, I think the Chiefs are a paper tiger. I had them at 9 wins before the season began and I think I was wrong about that number, but playing Denver and San Diego twice, along with a game against the Colts is going to tell me how good the Chiefs really are. Hey, I could be wrong and the Chiefs are one of the two best teams in the AFC, but I think the second half of the season isn't going to be as kind to Alex Smith and the Chiefs.

The original trade was Smith for a second-round pick in 2013 and a third-rounder in 2014 … but the third- in ’14 would become a second- if the Chiefs won eight games or more this season. That happened by mid-afternoon Sunday, as the Niners were trudging off the field at Wembley Stadium in London after whipping Jacksonville 42-10. As if San Francisco draft guru Trent Baalke needed more ammo, he now could be looking at six picks in the first three rounds next May:

Take that, Gregg Easterbrook, Mr. "The 49ers should have kept Alex Smith." As Alex Smith wins game for the Chiefs he helps the 49ers get a higher draft pick.

This just in: Calvin Johnson’s good. He had a nice month in three hours Sunday at Ford Field in Detroit’s 31-30 shocker of Dallas: 14 catches, 329 yards (seven short of the all-time single-game record), one touchdown.

I would love to know what kind of quarterback Matthew Stafford would be if he didn't have Calvin Johnson out there catching the ball for him. I know it's not fair to wonder that since Stafford does have Johnson and if you took any quarterback's best receiver away he wouldn't play as well, but so much of Stafford's success lies in having Johnson out there. Stafford's worst games of the season were when Johnson wasn't healthy. I probably have no point.

Remember the good ol’ days? Way back in the first half of the first game of the season, when the Chip Kelly offense was all the rage?

No Peter, but I remember all summer when you were up Chip Kelly's ass about how he ran his practices and talked about how the Eagles are doing things SO MUCH differently than every other NFL coach does things. I remember when you said the Chip Kelly hiring was the biggest hiring from the college ranks since Jimmy Johnson. I also remember when I stupidly bought into the crap you and your fellow sportswriters were peddling and predicted the Eagles would win the NFC East.

There’s some thought that because there is no “home” team in England, and selling a bad Jacksonville team (the Jags will play a game there in 2014, ’15 and ’16 at least) will be problematic right now, a good option is every team alternating. Of course, that won’t be a good option the minute you tell a Packers, Steelers, Broncos or Seahawks fan he  or she has to lose a home game for the sake of expansionism.

Actually that won't be a good option for the fans of any NFL team who loses a home game for the sake of expansionism. I'll be damned if I want my favorite team to have seven home games because Roger Goodell insists on expanding to London.

But as one league operative told me recently: “If you guys [NBC, where I also work] can get 850,000 viewers for a Manchester United game on NBC Sports Network, why can’t we build a block of fans like that for football over there?”

Fine, build a block of fans in England, but don't take away home games to build that block. That's like if Manchester United lost a home soccer match and played here in the United States every year. Fuck that. The NFL can do whatever it wants to build a fan base in England, that's great, but NFL fans are already getting ripped off for two shitty preseason games, so they don't deserve to lose another home game for the sake of the NFL trying to expand. Show the games in England to build a fan base, don't take away home games from NFL teams. I know my opinion is probably in the minority.

Greg Jennings in the Revenge Game: One catch, nine yards, left the locker room before the media arrived following Green Bay’s 44-31 win at Minnesota last night. That’s 264 yards fewer than teammate Cordarrelle Patterson put on the board.

Poor Greg Jennings. It's so hard to be a great receiver when your quarterbacks all suck. Perhaps next time before Jennings runs his mouth about Aaron Rodgers he should find out if any of the quarterbacks on his Vikings team are any good or not.

I wrote last year about the possibility of a quarterback, in the not-too-distant future, throwing for 6,000 yards in a season. Aaron Rodgers, I theorized, would have the best shot. I’m not saying Peyton Manning’s going to do it this year, but let’s acknowledge the greatness of the first-half MVP here. In Denver’s 7-1 start,

It's a shame the Broncos are going to be getting a wild card in the AFC after starting out 7-1. At least Peter had the Broncos getting a wild card and the Chiefs winning the AFC West last week, perhaps Peter seen something shiny this week and has changed his opinion on this in the seven whole days since he last wrote MMQB. I'm sure as soon as the Chiefs lose, Peter will put the Broncos right back on top of the AFC West. 

But let’s say he adds one medium-range skinny post per game in the final eight games. Say, an extra gain of 20 per game. If Manning averages 385 yards per game in his final eight, he’ll hit 6,000.

Of course Peter is ignoring the fact Manning could already be throwing for his peak amount of yardage right now. In other words, his current passing yards per game may be Manning's ceiling for yardage in a game, but that doesn't stop Peter from theorizing how Manning could break 6,000 yards...but who’d have ever thought throwing for 6,000 would be remotely possible so soon after 5,000 started getting hit?

(Peter King in early May) "Right now, Chris Davis is averaging a home run every third game. But let's say Chris Davis starts hitting a home run every game. That's almost 100 home runs for the season. Who would have thought a player could hit 100 home runs in a season?"

Matthew Stafford’s coming-of-age moment.

“SPIKE! SPIKE! SPIKE!”

We’ll get to that.

This is the second time Peter has said he would get to this. How about he just gets to it and stops the long preamble?

Certainly, this was not Stafford’s first big comeback. This was his 10th fourth-quarter comeback. But this one just felt different to me. Something about the high-tension accuracy and the big-boy decision he made with the game ticking away.

What felt different to Peter is this comeback happened just this past weekend and Peter has started to overreact to the NFL games that just occurred, so the immediacy of the comeback makes it feel different to Peter. Sure, Stafford came back from more points down on the road against the Cowboys a few years ago, but this comeback just happened! It's just so different!

Now :21, :20 … Stafford motioning to the offense to hustle up the field. “I was looking back, yelling for [left tackle] Riley Reiff to hurry up,’’ Stafford said … :19, :18 … Now motioning madly for Reiff to get in place, while also yelling “SPIKE” and giving the universal “spike’’ signal, the hand gesturing hard to the ground, over and over … Reiff in place, at :16.

“So I’m on the line, and everyone in the stadium thinks I’m spiking it, and that was the plan,’’ Stafford said. “The other 10 guys [on offense] thought I was too. I thought I was—but then I saw a couple of their guys, almost standing up, and I just had this thought: Maybe I could make it by sneaking, or just putting the ball over the line. Maybe that was our best chance.’’

Plus, Stafford didn't have enough room to just throw the ball up in the air to Calvin Johnson as he prefers to do, so he had to try something different.

But no timeouts left. Clock running. If Stafford failed, there was a chance he wouldn’t get another play off.

I believe Peter is being overdramatic here. If Stafford failed then he and his linemen could have gotten up and possibly spiked the football. It's not like they had run anywhere, they just had to get up, get the ball re-placed and then spike it. Maybe not, but "there was a chance" Stafford wouldn't get another play off. There's also a chance the Lions could have gotten another play off. Naturally, Peter chooses the more dramatic of the options.

So why? Why do it? Why not the fade to Johnson, who could win a jump ball against most of the Dallas defenders—shoot, against all of them? If it’s incomplete, another fade, or a rollout pass.

Because Stafford has matured, Peter. He's like completely mature now.

“You just feel it,’’ he said. “Hard to explain. You just go to the line and you feel it sometimes, and I just felt: Our best chance is me taking to the ball and diving it over. I mean, all we were was three inches from the end zone.”

Snap … :14 … Stafford takes the ball, grips it as tight as he can, and with much of the defensive line looking on impassively, he thrusts the ball clearly over the line and brings it back. Touchdown.

This was a great play, but the Lions had just run a play that ended near the goal line with 26 seconds left in the game. The Lions offensive linemen ran 22 yards in that time, got the ball set, and ran a play in 12 seconds. It's completely possible, and probably very likely, if Stafford's attempt to score failed the Lions would get another play off in the approximate 10 seconds left in the game. So Stafford's play was very smart, but also not quite the risk that Peter is so much wanting to make it out to be. Peter loves a little drama though.

I know how sportswriters love their narratives and love to see a group of events turn into a story, so "Matthew Stafford has matured" is the likely narrative to come out of this game. More likely nothing has changed and Stafford had a big game because Calvin Johnson had a fantastic game, while Stafford happened to also make a smart play to win the game for the Lions. I still think the comeback against the Cowboys on the road a couple of years ago was the better Stafford comeback. Of course, immediacy usually wins, so this Cowboys-Lions game had to have been a turning point for Stafford in his career.

In the past week, we at The MMQB have tried to take the head-trauma debate deeper, with 19 stories exploring ideas about a safer game, the realities of playing a violent game, and the complicated issues facing youth and high-school football today.

My takeaways from the series: It surprises me that parents—and we interviewed 23 of them who spoke this way—cede the decision to play or not play high-school football to their sons.

That has changed in the time since I was a (quite marginal) high-school athlete in Enfield, Conn. If my father and mother thought the sport I was playing was excessively dangerous, they’d have interceded and recommended and/or demanded I not play.

PETER'S PARENTS CARED ABOUT HIM MORE THAN PARENTS TODAY CARE ABOUT THEIR CHILDREN!

I understand wanting to empower your children, but I’m not sure empowering 15- and 16-year-olds who make decisions based very often on emotion is a smart call …

Because it appears the alternative is to intercede and run the risk of your child growing up to be a oft-pretentious sportswriter who expects no human being at any point to interfere with his perfect existence on the planet and feels the need to comment when he perceives someone isn't acting in the proper fashion while on a plane, train, or automobile.

Now for some reactions to the writing we did.

From the comments sections...

Getting reactions from people in the comment section from a widely read sports article is perhaps one of the most useless and futile exercises to get constructive feedback that a sportswriter could participate in, but here we go anyway...

From “branlishan:” “There is a non-stop assault on football by SI and its writers. We get it now. Football is dangerous. If football is such a barbaric sport then why do you cover the games and bring attention to the glory of it all? SI should stop with the hypocritical garbage. Either line up behind the ‘ban football’ crowd and stop covering a sport that is so dangerous, or shut up. Because this non-stop assault never ends.’’

I hate it when sportswriters provide a non-stop assault of facts they have discovered when investigating a topic. Stop with the facts and give me more filler!

From “decredico,” to me: “You sat on this story for years and under reported it and you are part of the package that kept this off the radar for many years. You are a disingenuous hypocrite that should be excoriated and excommunicated and banished to writing for the local garden section of a small town newspaper.’’

This is why you ignore the comments section. I write about Peter King every week, but come on, it's not his job nor is he qualified to do research on concussions and then report on it in-depth. Peter could do the reporting, but the story hasn't been researched for years, so there is no way Peter "sat" on the story. People are idiots.

From “hlmencken56:” “We’re just a country full of cowards now. Everyone is a victim, and nobody should ever get hurt, or the risks always must be lowered.”

This isn't constructive nor instructive. Clearly, this idiot has never played football nor dealt with a loved one that has a traumatic brain injury.

Now for emails THE MMQB received on the topic of concussions...

“I have been a fan of you and your MMQB column for seven or eight years now and never miss one. I was really looking forward to your new MMQB page and for the most part I have really enjoyed it. However lately I have not nearly enjoyed MMQB as much. I feel like I have been given a concussion by being beaten over the head with your concussion reports. Please go back to the reporting of fun football.

Yes, don't let reality infringe on the fun part of watching football. Ignore the negative, report the positive. Stick your head in the sand and ignore the problems. Brilliant, brilliant line of thought.

You don’t have to ignore concussions completely, but man I feel like you guys are trying to ruin something that I enjoy so very much.

It sounds like someone doesn't enjoy hearing about the physical problems his "fun" sport causes on the NFL players that makes the sport not-so-much fun after a player has retired.

It’s like if every time I eat something bad for me, my wife is standing behind me telling me that it’s going to kill me.”

 —Brock

Well maybe it will kill you and you shouldn't eat it then. Why do I have the feeling Brock weighs about 400 pounds or has had multiple heart attacks, but refuses to change his eating habits? Clearly, he wants to stay in denial until he needs help, in which case he obviously wants someone to help him so he can get back to having "fun."

I'm getting way off topic, but Brock either needs to read and learn from the MMQB reports about concussions or ignore them entirely if he doesn't like the reality of what these reports say to him.

“As a parent with a 9-year old and 14-year old playing football, and as a coach and huge football fan, I think the real problem here is all the negative publicity that is causing unnecessary concern and alarm. I do believe that efforts must continue to be made through better equipment, medical supervision and education. However the media needs to stop talking about it. Parents should be talking about it, players should be talking about it, coaches should be talking about it, medical professionals need to be talking about it but the media needs to leave it alone!! If that happens, both the safety and future of the game will be protected!’’
—Kris, Abbotsford, British Columbia

So the media needs to quit talking about concussions and let parents, coaches, medical professionals, and players talk about concussions using the information provided by...who? Generally, if the media doesn't disseminate information about a topic it's not that easy to be provided information on that topic. If I'm a parent who wants to get information on concussions to decide whether to allow my child to play football or not, should I just starting calling medical professionals or go to youth league games to talk to random parents about concussions? This just seems nonsensical to say, "Hey, we should be talking about concussions, but not the sports media. The sports media should ignore concussions."

Fine Fifteen

Yep, still in seemingly random order and still too reliant upon what happened just this past week. 

1. Kansas City (8-0). I debated putting the Chiefs here, after they struggled to beat Houston and Cleveland at home in the last eight days while others up top—the Niners in particular—have been strafing the league mercilessly.

But the Chiefs are undefeated. How can you pull an undefeated team from the top spot? Were the Chiefs impressive in not having lost any games just a week ago, but now they are unimpressive in winning games and that all of a sudden matters?

There are no style points in football, though, and the Chiefs are undefeated halfway through the season.

There are no style points?

3. San Francisco (6-2). Five straight wins by an average of 22.6 points. This team’s getting scary. 

Peter says there are no style points, yet he places the 49ers above three one-win teams and quotes by how many points the 49ers have won their last five games. There are no style points, unless there are style points.

4. Denver (7-1). Why San Francisco over the Broncos? Because I trust the Niners defense right now. I don’t trust Denver’s nearly as much.

Plus, style points. Of course Denver's only loss came to the team that is #2 in Peter's Fine Fifteen, while the 49ers have lost to the #2 and #5 teams in Peter's Fine Fifteen. But of course, there's no style points yet Peter puts the 49ers above a team that has one fewer loss and beat the 49ers head-to-head.

9. New England (6-2). So flawed. So hard to read. So hard to think this is an impact team in January—but the defense, even without Wilfork/Mayo/Talib, is a competitive group with players like Logan Ryan who don’t know they’re not supposed to be making game-deciding plays.

When a sportswriter lacks the ability to quantify why a team is playing well, he/she just writes crap like saying a team has players "who don't know they aren't supposed to be making game-deciding plays," as if this really means anything.

10. Detroit (5-3). One premier team with one premier quarterback (Green Bay, Aaron Rodgers) left in the final eight games—unless you count Baltimore, which, right now, you can’t call a premier team. That’s why I like the Lions’ chances to be the NFC North champ or the sixth seed in the NFC tournament.

See? The Lions win an exciting game against a 4-4 team and all of a sudden Peter King thinks the Lions could win the NFC North. I'm guessing if the Lions won another exciting game then Peter will have the Lions in the Super Bowl, as long as another new, shiny team doesn't win an exciting game during Week 9 of course.

11. Carolina (4-3). You can talk about the maturation and improvement of Cam Newton, which is good and true. But this is a pretty stingy team. Panthers have allowed 12 per game in the last five.

They have beaten the Giants, Vikings, Buccaneers, and Rams. What do they all have in common? They are all not very good teams. A 4-3 record against crappy opponents sure must be impressive to Peter for Carolina to be #11 in his "Fine Fifteen."

15. Houston (2-5).

Call me crazy as I rank the Texans over Arizona, Tennessee and Baltimore (which owns a 21-point win over Houston). I say Case Keenum and that defense constitute a playoff threat still … even though Indy (twice) and Denver (once) remain to be played.

Peter thinks the Texans are a playoff threat, but as the seventh best team in the AFC at this current time he doesn't think the Texans will actually make the playoffs of course. Also, I'm not calling him crazy, but merely saying Peter is probably overly-excited about the Texans winning more games so Peter can write about J.J. Watt more.

Special Teams Player of the Week

Josh Brown, kicker, New York Giants. Not a great fan of the field goal per se (see Stat of the Week), but in the first 55 minutes at Philadelphia, these were the only points: Brown, 40-yard field goal; Brown, 44-yard field goal; Brown, 33-yard field goal; Brown, 46-yard field goal; Brown, 27-yard field goal.

Only Peter King would name a kicker the special teams player of the week in the same MMQB where he essentially says that field goals are becoming too easy for kickers to make. I guess he believes field goals are too easy to make, but not too easy for a field goal kicker who makes five field goals to impress Peter.

Goat of the Week

Shaun Suisham, kicker, Pittsburgh. Kickers this season are making 94 percent of their kicks from inside the 40-yard line. Suisham missed 34- and 32-yard field goals, veritable extra points in today’s games. The Steelers lost by three. Pretty easy call.

Because field goals are so easy to convert and kickers never have a bad day.

“You have to understand the beast that’s playing quarterback. Once a guy like that gets in front of the whole defense, he’s a legit 4.4. It’s real.”

—Pittsburgh safety Ryan Clark, after Oakland quarterback Terrelle Pryor ran for the longest touchdown in Oakland franchise history, 93 yards, in a 21-18 Raiders victory Sunday.

So now the Raiders just have to figure out a way to get Terrelle Pryor in front of the whole opposing defense and the Raiders offense will be unstoppable.

At some point, the NFL’s going to have to acknowledge the efficiency of field-goal kickers is just too good. And the league is either going to have to narrow the goalposts or put a different point value on field goals from different distances.

Don't you hate it when NFL kickers become too good at their jobs? Once a player gets too good, it's time to move the goal posts (literally and figuratively it seems).

This easy, as the season nears the midpoint:

From inside the 40-yard line: 230 of 245, 93.9%. From between the 40- and 49-yard line: 126 of 153, 82.4%.

Do we want the game to be so boring, to lack any suspense, when a kicker steps up to make a field goal?

Maybe Graham Gano just sucks, but I don't really think a field goal is a given when a kicker steps back to attempt one. I guess the percentages say a field goal is a pretty good bet when a kicker lines up for one, but I still don't feel like it is a given personally.

I can tell you the founding fathers

Yeah, George Washington and Benjamin Franklin would be pissed about the current state of field goal kicking in the NFL.

of this game never dreamed the kickers would be so great that they would be good on 87 percent of their field goals through nearly half a season.

Oh nevermind, the founding fathers of "this game" not of "this country."

I would imagine the founding fathers of football also didn't dream of a forward pass and quarterbacks putting up 500 yards passing in a game. I'm not disagreeing with Peter, just saying any change to the vision of the founding fathers isn't necessarily a bad change for the game of football.

Then Peter King remarks at how young Marcus Mariota is and says he wouldn't be able to legally drink a beer if he won an NFL game next year. Peter previously provided data showing how young Mariota is compared to other 2014 draft-eligible quarterbacks.

Mr. Starwood Preferred Member Travel Note of the Week

The MMQB’s Robert Klemko had to fly from Chicago to Detroit Sunday morning to cover Lions-Cowboys, and he reported this to me when he landed:

Apparently there is an edict sent out by Peter King that all THE MMQB staff members must report annoying travel-related details to him immediately.

“I get on this plane from Chicago to Detroit, and these Japanese people, five of them, boarded the plane all carrying different stuffed animals. A teddy bear in an Army uniform, another teddy bear in a pilot uniform. I’d say they were in their late 20s, early 30s. One of them was a guy, and his bear was dressed in an American desert camo uniform.

“They were clutching these animals as if they were children. So I am sitting amidst them. The flight is taking off, and they’re not panicked or anything—but they’re whispering things in Japanese to the bears as if they were children. Then they just held them for the rest of the flight.

Wait, so these five Japanese people held on the teddy bears and whispered things in Japanese ALL WHILE MINDING THEIR OWN FUCKING BUSINESS? It doesn't get much worse than that. How can anyone be expected to stare at random strangers and micro-criticize their behavior when there is such an obvious distraction right there in front of his/her face? I'm sure there was a man on the plane who blatantly chose to watch the same television show on repeat for the entire flight and Robert Klemko didn't get to comment on this guy's behavior because these five Japanese people were minding their own business and doing something Klemko considers to be weird.

“I mean, they were holding them like they were breathing, like they were babies. Maybe they want kids and they are practicing for it. I don’t know. But there is something strange going on there.”

Perhaps THE MMQB should do a full investigation and report back in MMQB next week. I would imagine if these Japanese people wanted children they wouldn't have teddy bears as replacement children, but I know it merits a mention in MMQB as opposed to any sort of in-depth research on this topic that could be done online.

“I miss holding a baby – all my little guys are old.”
—@BarrySanders.

Yes, that Barry Sanders.

I guess Peter looked to find the most bland Tweet of the Week to include in MMQB. I would hope it is "that" Barry Sanders, because otherwise I could care even less that some random dude named Barry Sanders misses holding a child.

Ten Things I Think I Think

1. I think this is what I liked about Week 8:

d. Take those trade rumors and stuff ‘em, Josh Gordon says with his play every week.

Actually every week Josh Gordon probably says, "I'm a very good wide receiver and a contending NFL team should definitely trade for me immediately" with his excellent play.

f. Thad Lewis, who is very tough.

Thad Lewis is tough. This is #analysis.

g. Look at that lunging touchdown catch by Dexter McCluster. What a talent he is, and he’s being used perfectly as an everything back by Andy Reid.

Dexter McCluster has been targeted in the passing game 40 times over 8 games and has caught 23 passes. McCluster has 5 rushing attempts for 10 yards. If Peter King says McCluster is being used perfectly, meaning a little over six times per game, then that's not exactly a compliment to McCluster's ability.

Come on, Peter says "what a talent McCluster is" and then says he is being used perfectly. The guy barely catches 50% of the passes thrown to him and has 263 offensive yards on the year. If I'm being generous and including his punt and kickoff returns McCluster has 653 total yards and two touchdowns on the season. He's a good punt returner, but he's not exactly the offensive talent that Peter King seems to think he is.

h. Kevin Ogletree, who ran 70 yards to chase down Sean Lee on the Cowboys.

Or as Gregg Easterbrook will say, "the undrafted, unwanted hard-working Kevin Ogletree chased down the highly-drafted glory boy second-round pick Sean Lee."

2. I think this is what I didn’t like about Week 8:

d. Garrett Hartley, doinking a makeable field goal on the Saints’ first drive.

I guess from now on anytime a field goal kicker misses a field goal from 40 yards or less then Peter King will call that field goal "makeable" and criticize the kicker for missing it. Great, there's no way I could be less enthused about this new development.

e. The normally accurate Alex Smith, overthrowing a wide-open Anthony Fasano in the end zone, forcing Kansas City to settle for a field goal in the first quarter against Cleveland.

24th in the NFL in completion percentage. I guess that's "normally accurate."

a. Tom Brady, throwing behind Rob Gronkowski and getting picked by cornerback Dimitri Patterson (a very good Jeff Ireland offseason pickup), leading to Miami’s first touchdown. 

f. Geez, Tom Brady: It’s so bad you’re throwing to Rob Gronkowski in triple coverage? The good side: Officials gave the Patriots a gift defensive pass interference call on the play.

Peter King does not like it when Tom Brady passes the football to Rob Gronkowski.

j. Why, oh why, Chip Kelly, when you’re one score behind with four minutes to go, your defense playing well and three timeouts left do you onside kick?

Because fortune favors the bold! Because Chip Kelly was inspiring the Eagles to win by saying he was trying to win the game with an onside kick. You know Gregg Easterbrook is going to leave out Chip Kelly's bold move to go for an onside kick from his TMQ, even though Gregg has said a surprise onside kick is a good idea and plays like this tell a team the coach is playing to win the game. If Gregg does mention that Kelly went for an onside kick, I'm sure he'll suggest the kicker should have done a little dance before kicking the ball to throw the defense off.

6. I think for a fully healthy Peterson to have 36 carries in the last three weeks, with Minnesota struggling so much at quarterback, is absurd.

Yeah, but Josh Freeman and Christian Ponder need to be able to sling the ball around the field a little don't you know?

7. I think there are so many teams that could use Cleveland wideout Josh Gordon, so many receiver-needy contenders,

BREAKING NEWS: Many NFL teams could use a talented wide receiver on their roster.

I realize Gordon could be a positive substance test away from a lengthy suspension, but if I’m the Patriots, and I still have my full load of 2014 picks, I’d offer Cleveland a fourth-round pick that could conditionally upgrade to a third- depending on performance and try to get Gordon.

Josh Gordon is signed through 2014 and is very cheap. I'm sure the Browns would be more than willing to trade Josh Gordon for a 3rd/4th round draft pick. It's not like the Browns got a 1st round pick for Trent Richardson or anything, so I'm sure they would accept a lesser pick for a more talented player who is cheaper.

8. I think the Eagles have to be the disappointment of the season. The offense in particular.

I guess the Eagles are a disappointment depending on how much exactly was expected of them based entirely on Chip Kelly being the head coach.

A Chip Kelly team first and foremost has to have consistency and efficiency at quarterback, and Philadelphia hasn’t had that all season.

Nearly every NFL team needs consistency and efficiency at the quarterback position to succeed. The Eagles and Chip Kelly's offense aren't the only ones who need this.

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

b. Memo to Darren Rovell (said with slight annoyance): The Riddell helmet/NFL divorce you wrote about, a story that was written by Jenny Vrentas of The MMQB on TheMMQB.com last Tuesday, was not written on SI.com, as you reported. It’s The MMQB.

Memo to Peter King (with a know-it-all attitude): This is what happens when you name your site THE MMQB and write a column called MMQB that used to appear on CNNSI.com. If you wanted to brand your new website in the best possible way, brand it to avoid confusion and not in a way that reminds the uninformed that there used to be a column posted on CNNSI.com that is called the exact same thing as your new website. Sure, I don't like Darren Rovell and he should have known this, but these are the things that happen when you confuse readers with the name of your new website that also happens to be the same name of a column you write for the new website that also appears on CNNSI.com.

c. Nothing against SI.com; I love SI.com. This column runs on SI.com at well as The MMQB. But the story was not written on SI.com.

And oh yeah, don't be upset when a person doesn't know exactly which site something posted on THE MMQB comes from when it is posted on CNNSI.com also. As I write this, the front page of CNNSI.com shows this very MMQB column and the link for THE MMQB has SI.com in the url. So, it's not hard to see where confusion can happen.

d. Thanks, Florence and the Machine, for “Shake It Out.” That’s my song of the week.

I'm sure they wrote the song just for you.

h. The obstruction call (he said through gritted teeth), though a stupid rule because umpires cannot use interpretation, was called correctly to end Game 3.

I know Red Sox fans will kill me for saying this, but even if the umpires could use interpretation I could see an argument that Middlebrooks meant to trip Allen Craig. If you watch the replay then you notice as he falls to the ground trying to catch the errant throw Middlebrooks' legs go up in the air. Then he lowers his legs and raises them again as Craig tries to run over him. Since Middlebrooks legs actually came back in the air after they were on the ground and just happened to be raised again as Allen Craig tried to run in the baseline, I could see where umpires could interpret intent to trip Allen Craig. Upon seeing the replay a few times, it seemed odd to me that Middlebrooks' legs went down on the ground and then happened to raise back up when Craig tried to run in the baseline over him.

j. Quote of the Series, from Jonny Gomes to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, concerning the fact that he was only in the lineup Sunday night because Shane Victorino’s back tightened up and forced him to the bench, giving Gomes the chance to hit the game-winning three-run home run: “I had to ‘Tonya Harding’ Victorino.”

k. Google or Bing “Tonya Harding” if that one slips past you.

Sure, just as soon as you Google or Bing "Wally Pipp." 

n. Beernerdness: Also had the good fortune to be at Game 2 of the Series on Thursday, and was nearly as lucky to be back in my favorite old neighborhood restaurant Picco, in Boston’s South End. Very good beer menu. Tried the Star Island Single, a Belgian ale from Smuttynose in New Hampshire, and it was almost like a light ale. Okay, and eminently drinkable, but not memorable.

This wasn't a memorable beer, yet Peter remembers the name of the beer, who made the beer, what kind of beer it tasted like and also remembers enough of the taste to give a review on whether he liked the beer or not.

Who I Like Tonight
 
Seattle 33, St. Louis 10. Bet you thought I’d say, “Boston 4, St. Louis 3,” didn’t you?

Nope, I didn't.

I'm not including the Adieu Haiku, because it is a haiku and a bad joke. It's a reference to the "illegal bat" call in the Patriots-Dolphins game. Fine, here it is.

I have always thought
the home for illegal bats
was in the belfry.


I bet you feel dumber having read that.

Monday, October 28, 2013

5 comments Jay Mariotti Wants to See the Rays Win the World Ser---Wait, They Lost to the Red Sox in the ALDS? In That Case, Jay Mariotti Wants Joe Maddon to Get a Job Managing a "Real" MLB Team Because the Rays Suck

I've linked the article about the Big East Tournament so many times everyone is tired of it, but Jay Mariotti has never been afraid to change course even after he has posted a column. The article I am referencing is where Jay completely re-wrote a column about the Big East Tournament where he went from criticizing the tournament for being irrelevant to reveling in the joy of the tournament...all because the Big East Tournament was exciting. He literally erased portions of his columns ripping the NCAA Tournament and then just replaced those words with how exciting the NCAA Tournament was. Jay is a whore. If he's not a whore then he is a mercenary writer. He has no beliefs and doesn't care who he works for as long as he is getting paid. His beliefs depend on what type of column he is currently writing. He doesn't want to work for a big, evil corporation after spending his entire writing career working for a big, evil corporation. So he writes an introduction on his new "Mariotti Show" site ripping large corporate sports networks. But hey, if ESPN calls and offers Jay a radio show and a writing opportunity don't doubt he is picking up the phone to hear them out.

I digress, but I felt I needed to in order to properly introduce one of Jay's columns so everyone understands that Jay doesn't believe what he writes. He just writes to get attention. After the Rays were eliminated from the ALDS by the Boston Red Sox, Jay wrote a column saying Joe Maddon deserves better than managing the Rays. This is an example of the typical sportswriter from a big city stating a manager isn't really relevant until he manages in a big city, which is just so impossibly stupid. Managing in a big city isn't a requirement for a manager to justify his status as being excellent at his job. Back to my point...on October 3 Jay Mariotti wrote a column stating he was cheering for the Rays to win the World Series. The same team who isn't worthy of being managed by Joe Maddon is worthy enough to have a World Series title. Go figure.

Here are some of the comments about the Rays that Jay made in his original column where he "hoped" the little guys win the World Series. It's funny how the Rays stink and aren't worthy of Joe Maddon once they've lost the ALDS, but prior to losing to the Red Sox the Rays don't stink quite enough to get Jay's support.

Being smart on a limited budget is way cooler these days than being stupid with $236.9 million.

Which explains why the Dodgers have a payroll very, very close to the Yankees payroll and Jay wrote an entire column about the Dodgers can't be beaten. I guess not having a limited budget is still cool, especially since Jay suggests six days after he wrote this October 3 column that Joe Maddon deserves to manage a team without a limited budget. So being smart on a limited budget is cool unless something happens and Jay has to change his point of view to where being smart on a limited budget is just being cheap. At that point, the manager of a team with a limited budget deserves to go to a team with a larger budget to maximize his potential as a manager. Yet, I disgress again. Jay's comments about the Rays from his October 3 column:

Yes, I’m openly rooting for the Rays, A’s and Pirates, even if it requires three flight connections and overtime pay to your GPS lady to find St. Petersburg, Oakland and Pittsburgh.

Right, because Pittsburgh is such a tiny city and Oakland isn't exactly small. But yeah Jay, are these cities even on a map?

Whether a championship is possible depends on those usual October variables: supreme pitching, experience in such moments and late-season hotness. Funny thing is, Tampa Bay has all three at the moment...In spite of such hardships, the Rays continue to look like a team that could beat anybody anywhere, advancing to the divisional round in Boston after winning two elimination games in three nights with typical airtight, Maddon-loose, pitching-and-fundamentals efficiency.

This is the same team that upon losing to the Red Sox is no longer worthy of Joe Maddon.

“Moneyball” became the norm for all franchises, small or large, but the Rays took shrewd front-office thinking to new and more consistent levels in recent years. While the A’s suffered through a lull period between the Brad Pitt era and their current run, Tampa Bay achieved something in 2008 that Beane has not — a World Series — and has continued to generate 90-win seasons while constantly dealing with low-budget constraints and hard-to-explain dumpings of star players. It’s astonishing that baseball boss Andrew Friedman, with basically no room for error, usually connects on every move, whether it’s something monumental like the James Shields-for-Wil Myers deal or seemingly trivial like the late-season pickup of Delmon Young, who ripped a big home run to help eliminate the Indians.

On October 3, the Rays were a well-run organization that dealt with budget constraints by continuing to win baseball games. Andrew Friedman connected on most moves and is probably one of the best GM's in baseball. It's funny how just six days later the Rays are no longer worthy of Maddon and he should go to a big city to prove he is a great manager, since the Rays suddenly don't deserve him. It's almost like Jay bases most of his criticism of the Rays on the outcome of the ALDS. What was once six days earlier a well-run organization that churned out 90-win seasons is now a cheap organization on the decline. Funny how sportswriters can base their conclusions all on the outcome of a five-game series.

People forget that Young, with Detroit, was MVP of the ALCS last autumn.

Jay apparently forgets that Young wasn't very good with the Phillies this year.

All of which is largely about the groovy vibe of Maddon, a master of positive reinforcement and gimmicks — you know about the penguins and snakes in the home clubhouse — intended to forge a fun atmosphere conducive to productive relaxation when October arrives. Oakland and Tampa Bay are mirror images in achieving the most with the fewest resources; at least The Trop has functional plumbing, unlike the deplorable Coliseum. On the flip side, Beane has just enough of a budget to chase a Cuban prodigy like Yoenis Cespedes; Tampa Bay doesn’t have the money to plunge into the global chase or buy major free agents.

But it's fun to cheer for the underdog, right? Well, as long as the underdog is winning of course. When the underdog loses, it's time to move Joe Maddon to a large market for him to prove what he has already proven in Tampa Bay.

Tell me: Why would anyone root for the Dodgers … or the Red Sox … or the there-every-year Cardinals … when you have three adorable overachievers?

That's a great point. Why would Joe Maddon leave to manage another team when he can manage a team full of adorable overachievers? Wait, we haven't gotten to the point where Jay bashes the Rays because the Rays haven't lost to the Red Sox yet.

Sounds like Tampa Bay. Sounds like Pittsburgh.

Sounds like the adorable kind of cause America should embrace this autumn, right?

Until the Rays lose, at which point fuck them, and they don't deserve to have Joe Maddon as their manager.

That is Jay's argument on October 9 at least. 

My wish for Joe Maddon is simple, a lot simpler than he is. I want him to end this quirky run as baseball’s groovy hipster skipper — you know, ditch the black glasses and unorthodox strategies and even the ’56 Chevy Bel-Air — and find a conventional baseball team to manage far, far away from downtown St. Petersburg, Fla.

Adorable overachievers these Rays are no more. Now they are cheapskates who are holding their manager back from achieving the only thing that determines whether a baseball manager is truly good at his job or not, which is managing a team that plays in a large market with access to plenty of money.

That team will have money, resources, fans, a real ballpark.

Isn't it interesting how Andrew Friedman has gone from a guy who connects on every move (and helped the Rays make the playoffs four out of the last six years, which isn't something very many MLB teams can claim) to a guy presiding over a team with no resources or money? The script gets flipped when Jay sees a negative outcome, doesn't it?

I do agree with the Rays needing a real ballpark. Other than that, there's no guarantee Maddon would do better with a team that has more money and resources.

That team will not have a 20-foot python and penguins in the clubhouse, a 10,000-gallon fish tank with live cownose rays, and stadium catwalks that are in play if a ball strikes one.

If Joe Maddon is the manager then the team will have a 20-foot python and penguins in the clubhouse. That's the kind of manager that Joe Maddon is. I think the fish tank with the rays is kind of a neat thing for the Rays to have in order for kids to come to the game and have something to do should they get bored. After all, if the Rays are going to have such a crappy ballpark they may as well have something no other ballpark can claim to have...and the stadium catwalk which comes into play on pop-ups doesn't count.

It’s the only way Maddon will be perceived nationally as what he truly is — a wonderful manager and all-demographics ambassador of a sport that needs fun, smart characters —

Maybe for Jay Mariotti this is a true statement, but he doesn't speak for baseball fans everywhere (I shudder at the thought of Jay Mariotti speaking for anyone but himself). Maddon doesn't need to play for a team with money and resources to be recognized as one of the best managers in baseball. In fact, what he has done with the limited payroll and resources the Rays have only exemplifies how he is the best manager in baseball. Give Maddon more resources and money for players and his success as a manager can be waved away by saying he is expected to win baseball games with a $125 million payroll. Maddon's quirkiness isn't going away and what makes him a great manager would be diminished by giving him a larger payroll and higher expectations. 90-win seasons would be expected from him.

The man has taken this adorable little puppy about as far he possibly can, and after yet another divisional-round elimination, it’s now been five years since the Rays played in their one and only World Series.

My God! Five whole years! No wonder Dusty Baker got fired by the Reds. He hadn't managed them into the World Series the entire time he was there. Five years of not representing the American League in the World Series is far too long. Mike Scioscia and Ron Gardenhire should be fired too. I'm shocked the Braves didn't fire Bobby Cox in 2004 and allow him to find a job with another team in a larger market with a higher payroll after the Braves failed to make the World Series for the FIFTH STRAIGHT year. It's unheard of for a manager to stick around after such a long history of failure. Free Joe Maddon and let him go to another team where his success as a manager can be chalked up to the payroll and resources his team has, rather than attributed to Maddon's skill as a manager in helping a lower payroll team make the playoffs four of six seasons.

One large reason for that consistent overachievement is Maddon, but after awhile, even he must wonder how he’d fare with a Boston payroll, a San Francisco ballpark, a Mike Trout in the lineup.

Because we all know from the 2012 Miami Marlins Experience the higher the payroll, the nicer the ballpark and the more talented the roster then the better that team will perform on the field, right? Money can buy a team's success if the right players are getting paid the money (ahem, the Dodgers), but it also may not mean jackshit if the highly paid players don't perform on the field.

His latest October setback was a 3-1 loss to the Red Sox, who advance to the American League championship series, that can be viewed as either a chess match or a farce. Understandably showing little faith in Game 4 starter Jeremy Hellickson, whose talents are overwhelmed by his erratic streaks, Maddon yanked him at his first sign of trouble in the second inning — four-pitch walks of David Ortiz and Mike Napoli and a single by Daniel Nava.

This was a move that completely worked by the way. It sucks to lose a starter so quickly, but it got the Rays out of trouble in the first inning with no runs scored. The bottom line is that the postseason is a crapshoot at times. Managers can do some things to help his team win or do some things to help his team lose. The fact the Rays lost AGAIN in the playoffs doesn't mean Maddon has maxed out his ability as the Rays manager and should immediately go find a team with a higher payroll to manage. The Rays are good at finding young talent and maximizing that talent until it becomes expensive and then allows other teams to overpay for these players (see: Crawford, Carl or Upton, B.J.). There's always a chance the Rays will make another World Series. Going to a different team doesn't mean Maddon's genius will be even more recognized.

But this led to a calvalcade of relievers who performed well until the inevitable crash — Joel Peralta’s wild pitch in a two-run Boston seventh and Fernando Rodney’s latest failue in the ninth. In the end, the Rays simply don’t have the offense to mash the Boston mashers, and consider it a byproduct of having only a $62 million payroll.

It's also a byproduct of Jake Peavy pitching 5.2 innings of five-hit ball and the Red Sox getting 3.1 innings of one-hit ball from their bullpen. But yeah, it was mostly the Rays payroll that was the issue, not the Red Sox stellar pitching. Great analysis, Jay.

You can scratch out only so many victories before bigger lumber prevails.

I'm not sure what this even means. How do we know which team has "bigger lumber" until the game is over? So a team can scratch out victories until they lose the series? Great point.

Wild improvisation doesn’t win championships.

You mean putting Max Scherzer in the game with the bases loaded and no outs and having him get out of a jam is a bad idea? Tell Jim Leyland that. How about having Kirk Gibson come off the bench to bat in Game 1 of the World Series even though he can't run? That's a bad idea? The point was to win Game 4 so the Rays could force a Game 5. Maddon's improvisation and use of his relievers almost did work. It wasn't his wild improvisation that lost the game for the Rays, it was the Red Sox pitching which didn't allow the Rays to score that sealed the ALDS for Boston. I believe no matter which team with however large of a payroll that Maddon was managing he would have made a similar move. His starting pitcher was struggling and he had to make a move to give his team a chance to win the game and minimize the damage in the first inning.

The norm still applies — a quality start, an effective relief performance, a closer with the lockdown — and Boston’s Jake Peavy, Craig Breslow and Koji Uehara were better than Maddon’s nine-man roll call.

Well yes, getting a quality start from your starting pitcher followed by relievers giving up 1 hit over 3.1 innings is always a nice and preferred strategy. When the Rays starting pitcher loads the bases with no outs in an elimination game though, it's time to start thinking of different types of strategies. That's what Joe Maddon did and having him go manage a different MLB team would not stop him from improvising from time-to-time. He may just improvise with higher paid players, which wouldn't guarantee he would have greater success in his improvisation.

Crazier still, David Price was warming in the bullpen for a 10th-inning stint in case the Rays rallied. Other than Raymond, the team mascot, just who was going to be left to start Game 5?

Theoretically Jeremy Hellickson could have started Game 5. Or maybe Craig Kimbrel could have started since he's so well-rested. The Braves aren't planning on using him anytime soon in an elimination game, so maybe they will loan him to the Rays so he could pitch a couple of innings for them.

Jay is tying in the Rays lack of quality pitching in the ALDS into why Maddon needs to be released from the binding chains that is the Rays organization, but there is no guarantee Maddon would have better luck or better pitching if he went to work for a different organization. There were teams with high payrolls that didn't make the playoffs and didn't have good team ERA's this year, including Philadelphia, Toronto, the Los Angeles Angels, New York Yankees, and the Texas Rangers.

It's just silly to tie in Joe Maddon's improvisational tendencies to him managing a smaller market, lower payroll team. Possibly Maddon's managerial style fits better with a lower payroll team than it would with a higher payroll team. I'm not sure why all of a sudden the Rays are a team who will only have limited success and Maddon needs to go to another MLB team to achieve his potential as a manager. Again, much of what makes Maddon great is what he does with the limited resources the Rays have.

The topic is moot. The Rays have been beaten, again.

Yes, but they made the playoffs, again. For the fourth time in six years. This isn't something many MLB teams can state they have done over the last decade.

Though it appears Mike Scioscia and Jerry Dipoto will remain as that franchise’s manager and general manager, the two have had disagreements and likely will have a short shelf life together.

And really, wasn't the entire problem with the Angels this year the lack of a good manager and not the underperformance of expensive free agents like Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton, as well as a pitching staff that was 24th in ERA, 26th in batting average against, 14th in quality starts and 24th in OPS against? It's just bad managing on Mike Scioscia's part obviously that causes Hamilton, Pujols and the pitching staff to struggle.

That could open a managerial job for Maddon if, say, Scioscia moves upstairs as GM.

Because anytime there is a disagreement between the manager and general manager of a team, it is common for ownership to choose a side and then give the winner of the disagreement the organizational position of the loser in the disagreement? I imagine Scioscia would keep Dipoto's head on a stick outside his office as a reminder that he not only won the disagreement, but took Dipoto's organizational position.

Even if the Angels ownership or upper management picks a side, are they going to give Scioscia Dipoto's job as GM or are they going to simply hire a new GM that fits with Scioscia's philosophy as a manager? Why would the Angels move a manager they clearly like out of his job into a position that he has no experience in? Just to hire Joe Maddon? I'm not sure that makes sense.

Imagine managing a team with 40,000 in the stands every night, a $165 million payroll, a lineup with Trout and Albert Pujols and a wayward soul named Josh Hamilton who could use faith-healing.

I imagine Maddon wouldn't be looked so kindly upon because the media would thrust unrealistic expectations upon him. I also imagine Joe Maddon can't magically make Albert Pujols or Josh Hamilton a better hitter. Yes, Maddon would have more resources to work with if he managed the Angels, but why does he have to go to Los Angeles to prove himself as a manager? I don't understand why Maddon deserves a team with a higher payroll and more resources, as if this is a gift and not a burden of heightened expectations.

He wouldn’t have to be the Maddon Scientist anymore. 

But he may choose to still be the Maddon Scientist. That very well could be Joe Maddon's managerial style. So he would still bring animals into the locker room and make improvisational pitching changes, but just do it with a team that has a higher payroll. More importantly, why is it that Jay wants the Rays to win the World Series while painting them as the organization-that-could, then six days later state the Rays have hit their ceiling and are now an organization-that-never-will? There's nothing like a knee jerk reaction to a playoff loss. 
My wish for Joe Maddon is simple, a lot simpler than he is. I want him to end this quirky run as baseball’s groovy hipster skipper — you know, ditch the black glasses and unorthodox strategies and even the ’56 Chevy Bel-Air — and find a conventional baseball team to manage far, far away from downtown St. Petersburg, Fla.
Read more at http://www.sportstalkflorida.com/maddon-scientist-deserves-bigger-better-job/#w3vVLqZG61LIsIZ2.99
Being smart on a limited budget is way cooler these days than being stupid with $236.9 million.
Read more at http://www.sportstalkflorida.com/heres-hoping-little-guys-win-big-trophy/#VE8G4XxeKVuZqYMQ.99
Being smart on a limited budget is way cooler these days than being stupid with $236.9 million.
Read more at http://www.sportstalkflorida.com/heres-hoping-little-guys-win-big-trophy/#TthsgZOttAiAVJsz.99
Being smart on a limited budget is way cooler these days than being stupid with $236.9 million.
Read more at http://www.sportstalkflorida.com/heres-hoping-little-guys-win-big-trophy/#TthsgZOttAiAVJsz.99
Being smart on a limited budget is way cooler these days than being stupid with $236.9 million.
Read more at http://www.sportstalkflorida.com/heres-hoping-little-guys-win-big-trophy/#TthsgZOttAiAVJsz.99